Posts Tagged With: Pennsylvania

And the River churns – Rafting the Yough River

Saturday 24th May

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The morning was spent getting to know our housemates and preping ourselves for our rafting trip.

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Henrietta Lodge, Ohiopyle PA. Home to 14 people for 3 days (and a bathroom and half only)

The lodge was even prettier in the daylight… We got to know each other pretty well by the end of the weekend:) All together, 3 lodges had been booked for the friends and family of the couple. Jane and I were housed with the bride’s family. I can tell you she has some crazy funny aunties! I want to be like them when I am their ages!

The rest of my friends were housed in a different lodge, 15 mins drive from where we stayed. Thankfully there were plenty of volunteer drivers.

One of the boys (boyfriend of the bride’s sister) cooked breakfast and we all had bacon and eggs…then around 11am, a love pie was brought out. Yes, you read right…a love pie! I felt like a Hobbit having a second breakfast and it was darn good too 🙂

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Lauren’s Love Pie: raspberries and mint filling…I am not a fan of raspberries but I enjoyed that home made pie nonetheless!

 

 

 

 

 

 

By 12, we were in the tiny town centre : there one store and a couple of coffee shop/rafting equipment and souvenir shop.

Our group had 22 people and there were a couple of other groups so it made for quite a big party to take on the river. The weather was gorgeous and we were all in high spirits.

I have been rafting before, when I went to New Zealand for my other friend from that company’s wedding a few years before, so I thought I had that down. I forgot that in NZ, each boat had a trained guide in to take care of all the stirring. This time, we were on our own in the boats! The guides were in kayaks around and I think the river was a little faster than the one in NZ due to recent rains.

First rapid, I stayed in but Jane went over board. She was at the back stirring and wasn’t particularly enjoying that. Of course as a good control freak that I am, I was quick to offer her to swap places…big mistake. Next rapid, I literally bounced off the boat. I was caught in a churn – I can’t remember the technical term for it. It’s not a whirlpool which goes round flat, it the one that makes you think you are in a tumble-dryer and basically you are dragged down to the bottom of the river…freaking scary stuff! All I could think off was “keep your eyes shut, or you’ll lose your contacts”…that came seconds before “shit! I am going to drown”. It felt like I was in there for minutes but it was probably only a few seconds before one of my team mates pulled me back in the boat, shivering and spluttering! I coughed up water and blinked a few time to get the contacts back in place. Had to put one in my mouth as it had popped out and that’s the best way to sanitise it. And away we went again. I felt surprisingly relaxed after and not the least worried it would happen again. I had done my part…yeah, right. We stopped for lunch for about 45 mins and off we went again.

Our boat did well until the second to last rapid…We all had to get in to keep in the boat (instead of sitting on the side), I was in before my co-pilot and he was heavier than me…you guessed what happened next? Oh yeah, I bounced! It was like in the cartoons. In he went, out I went! This one was far less scary than the other time, I just popped my feet up and let the current take me to one of the boats before us who dragged me out and kept me on board until we got reunited with my boat. To be fair, half the boats lost people on that one as it was a particularly churny rapid…

There was major drama too as one of the support guide got hit in the face with a paddle (accidentally of course) when Cousin Jeff went overboard. There was a lot of blood. It was so close to the end too. Luckily, those River Guides are pretty tough. He just shrugged it off when they managed to stop the bleeding. We invited him to the Pizza party that was planned for the wedding guests after the rafting trip…He bloody deserved it (yes, pun intended).

Mel, the bride, was well organised and had a waterproof camera with her, so here are some shots of the day…

The trip took longer than expected so we were all quite late to the Pizza party (some of the other guests had passed up on the chance of getting wet – can’t imagine why?- and went for a more leisurely activities: Fallingwater House visit). Pizza was cold when we got there (and we were pretty much starving) but so was the beer so it was all good! Overall, a very good day! Although it could have been dramatic to have this the day before the wedding!!

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Entering Amish country – Welcome to Pennsylvania

Friday 23rd May

I would not have chosen Pennsylvania as a holiday destination if it hadn’t been for my friend’s wedding. I met the groom when he was a work placement had my old company. These were the days, we all still remember them with nostalgia. The company was a sociable one and we made friends forever in there. Hence a group of us decided to make the trip to Pennsylvania to celebrate his nuptials with him. And boy, am I glad I went!

Jane and I drove from Washington DC to Pittsburgh. It felt like a mini-road trip, even though it’s only a 3 and bit hours drive. Although it took us closer to 4 and a bit thanks to an epic GPS fail. I say Jane and I drove, but Jane did all the driving as although I do have a driver’s license and they do drive the right side of the road, I have never been a great driver, especially when I don’t know where I am going. What am I, however, is a great co-pilot and despite the issues with the GPS, I kept us going in the right direction (sans maps, if you please!) until we got the bugger fixed.

We arrive in Pittsburgh greeted by a setting sun over a scintillating river dressed with beautiful bridges…poetic, innit? Well it was a gorgeous sight and one I really didn’t expect. I had images of an industrial city, blackened by years of the steel factories black smoke…nuh uh! The steel factories have long been closed and Pittsburgh regeneration programme has done a fantastic job! See for yourself, if you don’t believe me…

We were due to meet at 6pm for drinks and to gather up the crew of guests who were going to see Pittsburgh’s Pirates play the Washington Nationals at baseball. Now what a nice way to start a wedding weekend. I had seen a baseball game the last time I was in the US and I had very much enjoyed it, even though there hadn’t been much action and the hosting team, San Francisco Giants had lost. This time, I was in luck. The game was quite lively and the Pirates actually won and we got given a T-shirt on arrival. Some company sponsoring the team were handing them out for free. We were quite late arriving so I got an XXL sized one. Can’t wear it outside, but makes a perfect nightie! Yaaargh…

 

We left a few minutes before the end of the game – which lasts 4h if you didn’t know – so we could be the crowd. We were all going back to the lodge we had been booked in by the mother of the bride near where the wedding was happening (on Sunday). It’s about 1h30 drive south-east of Pittsburgh and the GPS got us turned around again. Thankfully, we had the bride in the car so she got us out of the mess and on track in no time but it meant that it took us 2 hours of small, not brightly lit road to get to our destination: Henrietta Lodge in Ohiopyle, PA.

Now if you have never heard of Ohiopyle, don’t feel bad, neither did I. It’s a little river town (emphasis on the little) in the middle of National Park. There isn’t much here to do if you are not into outdoorsey stuff or if you don’t have a car!

The cottage though is lovely, even though I felt like I was in an episode of Full House, with the number of people sharing it!!

NB: I didn’t actually see any Amish as they are much further down within Pennsylvania.

 

 

Categories: North America, Travel | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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