Dodging the Rain Drops
Early morning, just a bit before 4, the sky was dark and sprinkled with stars. A couple patches of grey drifted across the sky, hiding the stars temporarily. Red and I were on our way back home after walking around the circles that made up the neighborhood. Looking upward, I saw the International Space Station break free from the earth's shadow. I followed it as it slowly disappeared into the east.
Back home again, I finished packing my gear, my camera, my GPS, my test kit and glucose tablets along with a couple bottles of water. Frank and I were heading south towards Meyersdale to do some caches and some train watching! Hopefully, the good weather would follow us.
My first stop after I left home was a Sheetz store located on the hill above Oakmont. There is a cache very close to its parking lot, I had plans for this to be the first cache of the day. These plans were not to be followed through. It was still dark out and parked in the parking lot were 3 police cars with the officers standing outside watching the customers as they pulled in. I was tempted to explain why I was going scrounging around in the shrubbery, but thought better of it. I figured I'd stop again on my return trip.
I got to Franks house about 15 minutes early and we piled all our stuff in his truck and headed towards the turnpike. We finally saw the sun long after it had crossed over the horizon. The clouds and haze covered it until it was well up into the sky. The trip out to the Somerset exit was uneventful and we spent the time catching up with each other.
End of the Road!
(Pictures will enlarge when clicked!)
(Pictures will enlarge when clicked!)
The first cache was located in a gamelands near the town of Somerset. It was called "End of the Road", a very well named cache! The road was Rt 219, a nice 4 lane divided highway. We came to where the new section ended and it turned into a 2 lane highway. The 4 lane pavement continued past the 2 lane road and ended about a 1/4 mile further on. It came to the woods and just stopped. A couple Pendot trucks stood near-by and that was about it. We parked and walked a short ways into the woods where Frank saw what we were looking for, Hidden under some rocks was an ammo can with a log and an assortment of "geo-junk". We signed the log and dropped off a travel bug I had with me and then returned to the truck and our adventure.
Rt 160, below Berlin
The clouds were getting rather dark but we still hadn't seen any rain so far, our luck was holding off!
Turnoff at Mance
The next stop on our itinerary was the small town of Mance. This little community is situated on the CSX Railroad line. It is about a mile away from a tunnel. We drove up a dirt road towards the tracks above us and came to a crossing. Beside the crossing was an old building that looked as if it had been built a century ago.
From the cornfield
The tracks passed right in front of it, a wide porch provided seats to watch the trains passing by. Near the roof line was a large sign declaring it the Mance Post-Office. The building was closed up tight and no one was around. We waited for about a half hour for a train to go by, but with no luck. Finally, we packed up our stuff and continued on. If nothing else, seeing this building made the trip down here worthwhile. Too bad no trains had gone by!
About a mile or two up the road, we passed a dirt road leading to the railroad tracks. There were 4 large sets of lights on the tracks, 2 pointing uphill and 2 pointing downhill. The 2 we could see were downhill from us and we could see a green light at the top. Things were looking better! After a few minutes passed, we could hear a whistle in the distance. Soon, we could see the light of the Amtrak train coming toward us. It would have made a nice picture as it passed the post office, but beggars can't be choosers, we were happy just seeing it.
Our next stop brought us to an old foundation of a farmhouse. Not much was left to let us know it had ever been there, just some stone and cement steps, an old wall and a weed covered depression in the ground. Off to the side was an old spring and it was near here that we found our second cache of the day.
Next on our hit list was the small dot on the map called Sand Patch. A nice new bridge crossed the tracks here. As the tracks curved down the valley, high above them on the mountain tops were windmills, slowly spinning away in the dark sky. Looking up the hill, the tracks crossed over each other to allow trains to switch tracks. Light signals stood guard, all showing red for the uphill trains. We took some shots and walked up the tracks a way to see if we could see the tunnel. As we walked uphill, the rain started falling and we put the tunnel search off for later. Returning towards the truck, we met two people from Meyersdale who had come up to watch the trains. We BS'd a bit and not hearing any trains coming, returned to the road once again. The rain stopped soon after.
Our next cache was off the Great Allegheny Passage Bike Trail but we couldn't find a place to park closer than a half mile away. This cache involved climbing up a high, steep hillside and had warnings about being extremely careful. With the dark clouds and the possibility of rain and even more importantly, the difficulty of the cache, we decided to pass on this one. We would save it for another day. This was one we both were looking forward to doing.
Soon we were in Meyersdale and driving up the hill to the old train station that serves as a museum, the Meyersdale Historic Society headquarters and a gift shop. Outside was a cache hidden in the parking lot. We made quick work of it and returned to the truck. The rain that was falling lightly as we left the truck was done by the time we returned. The building was closed, we were about 15 minutes too early, and once again...we'll return another time.
The Meyersdale Windmills
The last cache on our list was called "The Meyersdale Windfarm" and as you might have guessed, it brought us up to the big windmills on top of the ridge above Meyersdale. I've been to a number of these places and the size never ceases to amaze me. The wind was blowing and the humidity was gone. The sky was still cloudy, but there was no rain. We were able to see the first three of twenty windmills from the cache site. Supposedly, each blade is about 115 feet long! We quickly located the cache and signed the log and then took some shots of these behemoths.
The rain is just starting...
Less than a minute later
With this cache found, our list was finished and we headed back towards home. Passing through Meyersdale, we came across a couple CSX engines sitting by some lights, waiting for permission to continue on. We pulled over to get a couple shots. As I left the truck, the rain started, light at first but soon a torrential downpour. As I snapped my second picture, a crack of thunder pealed and I quickly returned to the truck and safety. (We later learned that an Amish Lady had been fatally stuck by lightning right around this time, a few miles from where we were.) Continuing on, we were soon back in sunshine once again.
After changing cars at Franks house, I returned to the Sheetz and got that cache that eluded me earlier in the day. Then I stopped at the Oakmont Library to post my finds.
Allegheny river Blvd.
Leaving the Library, the sky was once again turning dark grey and thunder could be heard across the river. By the time I reached Verona, the rain was coming down so hard the windshield wipers couldn't keep up with it. I basically followed the lights of the car in front of me. Two or three miles down the road, by the time I got to the Highland Park Bridge, the sun was out again. What a weird day!
Home again...in the sunshine
Arriving at home, the road was drying but lots of branches laying on the ground was evidence of the power of the storm that had just passed through. I fed the dog and then walked him on dry streets.
It was a fun day, we found everything we searched for and only had to pass on one cache. We found some neat sites and got some cool pictures and, for the most part, we had managed to dodge the raindrops!