To Camp and Back: A Perette Adventure

by Perette Barella

This travelogue follows a 2018 bike tour from Rochester, NY to Camp Ramblewood in Darlington, MD. After attending Camp Crucible, I cycled back home via Delaware, New Jersey, and New York, visiting the Delaware River, the old D&H canal route, the edges of the Catskills, the Hudson River, the Adirondacks and the Lake Ontario shores.

Log messages come from the daily updates I sent out via e-mail to family and friends during the trip.


1. First day of the trip: Stony Brook State Park, Dansville, NY

2018-05-16 18:41

Today was my first day on this trip to Camp. I rode 88km, staying at Stony Brook State Park outside Dansville, NY. It was a little cool and foggy this morning but cleared and warmed, so I was glad for a cool breeze off Conesius Lake while I passed that. Google Bike Routes actually did a good job of routing--few hills, and the ones I did have to go up were generally gentle and short (except for the unavoidable one coming up to the park.)

It's cooling off quickly as night approaches.

I'm feeling good so far!

Linear Roadster loaded for touring
My bike, loaded with gear, resting when I take my first break in Mendon, NY.
A field in Mendon, NY
A field in Mendon, NY.
Stream with waterfall
A small waterfall visible from the road in Scottsburg, NY.
Vista to west of Scottsburg, NY
Cresting the hill coming out of Scottsburg, NY, a view of the Canaseraga Creek valley and Sonyea, NY.
Linear Roadster recumbent bicycle
My Roadster, resting at Stony Brook State Park near Dansville, NY at the end of the day.
Perette Barella
Me at my campsite in Stony Brook State Park.
Stony Brook flowing through the camping area in New York's Stony Brook State Park
Stony Brook flowing through the camping area in New York's Stony Brook State Park.

2. Camp Bell, Campbell, NY

2018-05-17 14:50

Yesterday, departed 0830 and arrived 1600. Today, departed about 0640 and arrived about 1410. 85km. Google didn't do bad, except around Hornell where it botched everything. Streets that were dead ends, or posted no bikes or pedestrians. I suspect it's bad data on the part of Hornell; the idiots put the dead end signs at the end of the street, after you've biked a kilometer down it. The saving grace of that was a train manufacturing yard at the end of it that was refurbishing some subway cars.

Mostly flatish. One long, slow, 4km hill but then lots of downhill. It was nice though, following a stream up a ravine--it was shaded and a little cooler.

We often think of cows as stupid, but I'm not sure they are, I think we might mistake passive for unintelligent. They often seem curious; it's not unusual to have a whole herd watching as I ride by.

Canaseraga, NY
A vista from NY-36 near Canaseraga, NY.
Gray Manufacturing Industries
Railcars await refurbishing at the end of a dead-end road on the south side of Hornell, NY.
Baker's Gulch Road
Baker's Gulch Road took me up a valley, following a small stream: both pretty and cool.
Baker's Gulch Road vista
Baker's Gulch Road vista.
County Road 14 in Howard, NY
County Road 14 in Howard, NY.
Cows in Howard, NY
Curious cows came to check out me and my rig in Howard, NY.
Camp Bell in Campbell, NY
Camp Bell in Campbell, NY.

3. Ives Run, Tioga, PA

2018-05-18 13:26

A cool morning, at the edge of cold--lovely for biking. I finished my short 55km day by 11:30, so early I had to wait a half hour for the camp office to open.

The miles were easy today: continuing to follow the Cohocton River downstream to Corning, the up the Tioga the rest of the day. The only hill was where PA 287 was rerouted because they built a dam.

The day is breezy and a pleasant warm. It's hard to believe there's a huge rainstorm coming in just a few hours.

I expect tomorrow will be a very wet ride, but Paul has rented us a room at Cedar Run Inn so I have him and a warm room to look forward to at the end of the day. I'll have a few miles on roads in the morning, then I'll be on the Pine Creek Trail--me and the bike are going to be a mess at the end of the day.

Lastly, just let me say that Pennsylvania's idea of a bear-proof device needs some work.

Looking toward Corning, NY from Gang Mills, NY
Looking toward Corning, NY from Gang Mills, NY.
The view south from Gang Mills, NY
The view south from Gang Mills, NY.
A view from near the dam, Tioga, PA
A view from near the dam, Tioga, PA.
Tioga Reservoir, with Ives Run on its far shores.
Tioga Reservoir, with Ives Run on its far shores..
Critter-proof food-hanging pole
Critter-proof food-hanging pole at Ives Run Campground on the Tioga Reservoir. The bears are going to love this!

4. Cedar Run Inn, Cedar Run, PA

2018-05-19 15:52

Rain today, but that meant all the little brooks along the Pine Creek were full and pretty. Departed 0750, arrived 1300ish. The first 15km were gentle uphill on road, then about the first 20km of the trail were flat. After that, gentle downhill--which offsets the stone dust surface some, but i still had to propel myself.

Ives Run is pretty and modern, but that means everyone shows up with a giant box on wheels. Stony Brook, with no hook ups, there were others tent camping.

I find Winnebago camping strange... On the one level I get it; it's nice to get out and see new places. But on another level I don't get the point, if you are trying to recreate life at home, why leave?

Pennsylvania is strange. It seems they've heard of the proverbial brick shithouse, and decided to build little stone castle. They must take their shit really seriously. They even considered cyclists and put a bike rack next to it, which they then blocked by fixing a bench in the way. So good intentions, good craftsmanship, but they need to think through the details a little more.

There was a huge bird too, with a white head and a white trapezoidal shape on its back/tail. I don't know what it was, but I took a picture. I also saw a few bunnies and a deer today.

The "L" on the mileage tombstone refers to Lyons, NY.

Telecom out here is spotty to nonexistent. There's wifi at the Cedar Run Inn, which is how I'm sending this. Anyhow, if you don't hear from me don't panic, it's probably just because I'm in East Bumphuck.

Stone outhouse
One of the stone outhouses along Pennsylvania's Pine Creek trail.
Stone outhouse
Another stone outhouse. The bike rack was a nice idea--too bad they blocked it with a bench.
Pine Creek Trail, Pennsylvania
Ahead are the mountains forming the Pine Creek Gorge, where I'll be traveling.
Pine Creek Trail, Pennsylvania
The Pine Creek Trail in Pennsylvania, a little south of US-6.
Perette Barella on the Pine Creek Trail, Pennsylvania
Cycling down the Pine Creek Trail.
Bald eagle in a tree
A bald eagle watches me from a tree.
Pinafore Run along the Pine Creek Trail in Pennsylvania
Pinafore Run viewed from the Pine Creek Trail.
119 miles from Lyons, NY
A "tombstone" mileage marker from the trail's railroad days: 119 miles from Lyons, NY.
Perette Barella at Stowell Run
Passing Stowell Run.
Pine Island Run
Pine Island Run viewed from the Pine Creek Trail.
Perette Barella bicycling
Crossing the Pine Creek trestle near Cedar Run, PA.

5. Cedar Run Inn, Cedar Run, PA

2018-05-20 19:38

Had a nice rest at Cedar Run Inn this weekend. Food here is still good. I'm reminded of coming here some years ago with David (I didn't see any rattlesnakes this time though), and eating ice cream with mom on the steps of the general store.

Tomorrow I'll be on to Jersey Shore, PA area. I think I'll be out of signal at end of day again, but I'll try to remember to send an update while I pass through town.

6. Jersey Shore, PA

2018-05-21 11:13

I've finished the Pine Creek section. I still have 20ish km more to go today, but not sure if I'll have service when I get in.

I started at 0720 this morning and arrived here at 1100. Following the river, it was mostly downhill. Some of the time I took roads (when it didn't look hilly) because it rolls easier, and mixes up the views versus being on the trail.

The weather is pleasant today, warm in the sun but cool in the shade (at least at this hour). After a stop to restock on food, I'll be on my way.

I hope Wednesday night I'll be back in comms range.

Perette Barella bicycling
Cycling on PA-414 along Pine Creek.
PA-414 along Pine Creek in Cammal, PA
PA-414 along Pine Creek in Cammal, PA.
Northward view from the Pine Creek trestle in Ramsey, PA
Northward view from the Pine Creek trestle in Ramsey, PA.
Southern terminus of the Pine Creek Trail in Jersey Shore, PA
Southern terminus of the Pine Creek Trail in Jersey Shore, PA.
A New York Central caboose at the Pine Creek Trail terminus.
A New York Central caboose at the Pine Creek Trail terminus..

7. Holiday Pines, Loganton, PA

2018-05-21 16:29 I was wrong about signal, I do have it--a feature of the campground backing up to I-80, along with continual road white noise.

Still, better than the state park. The park was more on-route, and the bathrooms were fairly new and clean. But there was no one there, not even a ranger; I was expected to pay via envelope dropped in a slot. And the sites were in a pine forest and dark. The only thing it needed was a banjo playing the Deliverance theme (Dualing Banjos, I believe the name is). I went the extra distance to stay where my emotions will do better.

Tomorrow is supposed to rain all day. The campground is a little pricey at $42, so if it's miserable I may spend an extra $25 to stay at an Econolodge.

Camping at Holiday Pines
Tenting at Holiday Pines in Loganton, PA.

8. Comfort Inn, Selinsgrove, PA

2018-05-22 15:32

A rainy 75km today. It made up for the 15km uphill at the end of yesterday:after about 10km of mixed hills and flats, I got about 20km of downhill. A few miles were dirt road, but it was pretty well packed and most was part of the long, gentle downhill.

Passing by a convenience store, I was captured by a sign offering deep fried chicken. The mirror in the bathroom there had frosted into it, "Be your own kind of beautiful." If disheveled can be beautiful, then I did in fact exhibit my own kind of beauty.

The rain is supposed to let up, so I checked out the campground but everything was pretty well waterlogged, and apparently they don't accommodate tents anyway, only RVs. I ended up in a hotel, a little more than I wanted to spend, but they do feed me in the morning.

I promptly Clampeted up the hotel room real good. I used the sink to do my laundry, which was desperately needed; some of my clothes were pretty ripe.

I learned today that Selinsgrove is pronounced "see Lynn's grove," not "sell inn's grove."

Just back by the inundated tent-free campground is the confluence of the West Branch of the Susquehanna and the Susquehanna proper. In the picture, to the left is the joined river flowing away, ahead is the West Branch (which I crossed yesterday in Jersey Shore, and to which the Pine Creek that I followed is a tributary) with the US-11 bridge, and to the right the in flowing Susquehanna with a rail trestle. The Cohocton and Tioga, which I followed into and out of Corning, are tributaries; the Susquehanna itself meanders up to Binghamton, then northeasterly to Cooperstown, NY where it originates.

I'll be following this mighty river all the way to Camp from here.

Perette Barella
(1) Being my own kind of beautiful.
(2) Disheveled: adjective untidy, disordered; typically of a person's hair, clothes or appearance.
Deep-fried chicken meal
Mmmmm, chicken.
The confluence of the West Branch into the Susquehanna
The confluence of the West Branch into the Susquehanna.
Messy hotel room
Hotel room, with my clothes and gear strewn about drying.

9. Riverfront Campground, Duncannon, PA

2018-05-23 13:53

Leaving about 0720, I made the short 57km to Riverfront Campground by 1045. The trip was down a 4-lane, although it is a bike route and had a wide bike lane (which also accommodates Amish buggies). At the end of the day, I got to take my bike down a cloverleaf off-ramp... Pretty sure that's a first time ever for me.

Tomorrow will feature more firsts: biking down expressway segments. Yes, I checked the PA DOT website to confirm that is where Bike route J goes (I could not believe it either).

The Appalachian Trail crosses the Susquehanna here, so the campground has a little area for AT hikers. They stuck me there, so I guess human powered is close enough. And it's only $5, which will partially make up for last night's extravagance.

And it comes with trains. Norfolk Southern's east-west line out to Pittsburgh and Chicago passes by, so I've seen an Amtrak, several NS, and a pair of Pan-Am engines. (Darn trainsexuals.)

There's a cluster of odd characters here. An ex-military 72 year old hiker with a dog. An electrician who is out of work and lives here, looking for someone--anyone--to talk to. (He keeps talking to me about bikes.) A mellow maintenance guy who "does what he's told." The owner who is worried about recent rains and the river rising and flooding out a section of the campground, right in time for the 3 day weekend.

Tomorrow I'll be passing Three Mile Island and the Turkey Hill factory in Conestoga, PA!

US-15 near Dundore, PA
US-15 near Dundore, PA.
The Susquehanna River at the Mahantango boat launch
The Susquehanna River at the Mahantango boat launch.
Camping at Riverfront Campground in Duncannon, PA
Camping in the Appalachian Trail area at Riverfront Campground in Duncannon, PA.
High waters on the Susquehanna River
High waters on the Susquehanna River flooded parts of the campground while I was there.
The US-22 bridge over the Susquehanna River near Duncannon, PA
The US-22 bridge over the Susquehanna River near Duncannon, PA.

10. Indian Marker B&B, Conestoga, PA

2018-05-24 20:57

Awakened by a freight train around 0500, I got an early start and was on the road about 0640. Before leaving I got a picture of the lower sections of the campground, which flooded overnight as the river rose.

There was a fog on the river, and as I merged on to US-22 I passed a tractor trailer laying on its side. Perhaps that made it easier on me, as it limited the traffic getting down the road. I made it through the first section of expressway, then did some side roads. When I got to the second section, there was a lot more traffic, and one spot (the local referred to it as "the gauntlet") where US-22 sneaks under a railway, with barely any bike lane.

I made it, and after that the route was much saner. Pleasant Harrisburg suburban streets, a shared use path following the riverfront. I passed through what looks like an old steel town, and passed Three Mile Island nuclear plant (the one that malfunctioned in the 70s).

There's a paved bike path after that. The first section was flooded, but after that was shady and fun. Some other bike folks suggested a local pub, Shenks, for lunch.

I made it to Denny & Bethie's place about 2. Paul is here too now. Tomorrow is a day of rest (I'm going to wash my bike) and then Saturday I ride the rest of the way to camp.

Motor vehicles and bicycles allowed
Nearly every expressway entrance I've ever seen has a sign prohibiting bicycles, horses and pedestrians. But in this span near Duncannon, Pennsylvania, bikes are explicitly allowed.
The Susquehanna River viewed from Fort Hunter, PA
The Susquehanna River at the boat launch in Fort Hunter, PA. To the left is a Norfork-Southern railway crossing; across is Marysville, PA.
The Capital Greenbelt in Harrisburg, PA
The Capital Greenbelt in Harrisburg, PA.
Perette Barella bicycling
Following an old electrified rail line as I cycle down PA-230 through Steelton, PA.
Three Mile Island and the Susquehanna River
A vista of the Susquehanna river, with Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station, where the 1979 accident occurred, steaming away downriver.

11. Ramblewood, Darlington, MD

2018-05-26 12:20

A beautiful day for the start of camp.

Afterthought: The ride was made easier by Paul taking most of my gear in his car.

Vista near Wakefield, PA
Vista near Wakefield, PA.
Farmland near Wakefield, PA
Cycling through farmland near Wakefield, PA on a sunny day.
Linear Recumbent
Stopped at Royal Farms for chicken before pedalling the last few kilometers to camp.
Camp Ramblewood, Darlington, MD
Arriving at Camp Ramblewood
Me and my bike arriving at Camp Ramblewood
Me and my bike arriving at Camp Ramblewood.

Continue the adventure in the second half, returning from camp.