Monday, June 27, 2011

Family vacation: Ohiopyle State Park

No lie, I took nearly 600 pictures on vacation and have been working on this post daily for the last 6 days....And this doesn't even include the pics from the family reunion that we ended our vacation with!!  Talk about being backlogged...Of course, it doesn't help that I had fewer nap times and evenings to work on it given that the second we returned Eric kicked house hunting into high gear. He was so bummed to be leaving the mountains that we spent our first few days back looking at houses in Howard and Baltimore Counties.  One is incredibly exciting/awesome...and also intimidating in size and scope of work that needs to be done, but I digress...more on that when there's more to tell.

In the meantime, we heart Ohiopyle State Park!! We had no idea that southwest Pennsylvania was so pretty!!  My only complaint is that there is virtually no real food there...we brought some with us, but not enough.  One of the "grocery stores" we went to had one small head of broccoli and that was it for green vegetables.  They did, however, dedicate an entire shelf to Jello and the many colors it comes in.  What the heck!!   Crap. I'm digressing again.  Let's just start posting these pics....

First, this is the cabin we rented at Jellystone Park in Mill Run.  We picked Jellystone because it's only 7 miles up the road from the park and we figured it'd be great for post nap activities like swimming and mini golf.  We picked this cabin it because it was on the far edge of the campground which meant that there were no neighbors behind us and also that we were right  next to the fishing lake.

Cabin number 19 and our  accompanying site!
The fishing lake at Jellystone.
We set up the playpen in the loft and Hannah learned to climb up and down the ladder in no time!

Inside was super cute, but I never got around to take any pics other than these ones of Hannah hanging off the dish towel hanger thingy like a monkey.

Yogi was around a lot, always showing up on the back of a golf cart to pose for photo ops, and Hannah loved him, but I didn't carry my camera around the campground much so the only pic I have is her in this picnic basket statue...

I packed a lot of our stuff in reusable grocery bags to cut down on unpacking and the need to dig for needed items.  When we arrived on Sunday, I dropped the bathroom bag in the bathroom, the kitchen bags in the kitchen, Hannah's bag in the loft, our suitcases in our bedroom and then grabbed the pool bag and headed out for an evening swim.  Woohoo!! 

Day 1: Explore Ohiopyle and get bearings.

I like to do a little exploring/putzing on my first day in a new place just to get my bearings so on Monday we headed down to the borough of Ohiopyle. There's not much there--an ice cream shop, a hotel, a visitor center, two restaurants and a pizza place, a market, and a ton of outdoor recreation stores that want to take you out on the Youghioheny River in various rafts and kayaks.  I didn't snap many pics of the borough, but here's on of Hannah pushing around this toy crane that she found on the ground outside one of those shops.  (We returned it later.)

One of the borough's coolest non-nature features is a brand new playground that plays to the rock/tree/river nature theme of the area. We stopped there for a bit and let Hannah swing around like a monkey.

After establishing that there was most likely only one worthwhile place to eat lunch, we crossed to the other side of Main Street to check out Ohiopyle Falls and walk along the river.
Daddy and Hannah on the lower Ohiopyle Falls viewing deck.
Ohiopyle Falls from a distance.
Then we trekked down to this little spot by the river where all the boaters drop in and dipped our toes in the water while taking in the action.

So, one thing I forgot to mention is how freakin' cold it was in Ohiopyle at the beginning of the week and how inappropriately I packed.  I usually check the weather of a destination prior to packing, but I never got around to it in this case and since the temperature was close to 100 degrees in Baltimore for the whole week leading up to our departure, I figured it couldn't be more than 20 or 30 degrees colder in the mountains, right??  That means it'd be 70s/80s which is pretty darn nice.  But no. We woke up Monday morning to 50 degree weather.  50 flippin' degrees!! Seriously?? It was so cold we had to turn on the heat in the cabin and then get creative with our outfits...A notorious over packer, I opted to under pack for this trip and cut down on the warm clothes.  I packed Hannah one pair of pants, two long sleeve shirts, and one thin zip-up hoodie.  For me, I packed one pair of pants and one thin long sleeve shirt.  That's it.   Our pants were standing up on their own by the end of the week.

That said, after a morning of exploring Ohiopyle, lunch at The Firefly Grill, and a bit of a nap, we opted for mini golf instead of swimming.  Hannah's first round of mini golf! Daddy showed her the ropes.
Hannah's first putt.
It wasn't long before she discovered a more efficient means of meeting the goal--forget the putter, just drop the ball in the hole.

After putt-putt we headed to the fishing pond and followed around a family of geese.  Hannah tried to feed them some bark she found on the ground.

Next up: hammock time!!!  Hannah LOVED the hammock!

After some dinner cooked over the charcoal grill, we headed back to the fishing pond so Eric could teach Hannah to fish--another first for her.

Hannah even played with the worms!  Ewwww!!!

WHEW! That was day 1.  And what a great first day!!  If you're still hanging with me on this mother of a post then you deserve a prize...many prizes.

Day 2: Cucumber Falls and hike to the natural water slides.

I used the flash with a few photos to light up Eric and Hannah but even though the light was better, their faces were not...Then another couple came along and we got them to snap a family photo.  Too bad it's so dark...

(Luckily Eric brought a hoodie--I lived in this all week.)

Eric climbed down behind the falls which I would have loved to do but....well, did I mention it was cold?? Freezing. I wasn't about to get wet. I can think of few reasons to willingly enhance your cold factor.  And by few, I mean none.  

The access trail continued so we followed it and snapped a ton more pics...

The trail followed the river and opened up to various little beaches and rocky spots.

The trail led us right to the natural water slides which was fortunate since that was next on our list of sights to see.
We took a seat on the rocks to watch the crazy people sliding down, and Hannah looked so cute I took a thousand pics of her.  Here are two...

This second one is my absolute favorite photo of Hannah EVER! Love it!!

After the photo shot, Eric decided to join the crazies.  He followed a group of guys to the top and then followed them down the slide...the video is pretty funny.

One of our fellow crazies-observers offered to take a family pic...Wish I weren't tucking my chin all weirdly. One dark shot and one bad shot--0 for 2 on the family pic.

After nap time Hannah helped daddy built her first fire and then we took turns snuggling.

Day 3: Biking the Great Allegheny Passage...and then giving up and going to the zoo.

Wednesday late morning actually warmed up, but we were on the bike trail by about 8:30 and it was still freezing. A downfall of her bike seat is that the wind hits her head on.  She was shivering and saying "cold" in minutes so we didn't make it very far on the trail before giving up and heading back to the warmth of the car.  

Earlier in the week I'd found an advertisement for a place called Living Treasures Animal Park which is a giant petting and feeding zoo...It was kind of sad because they had animals like lions, (white) tigers, and bears all trapped up behind bars...but it was also kind of cool because we got to feed an ostrich, llamas, alpacas, horses, goats...And there were lots of baby goats and pigs and, well, lots of super cute baby animals in general.  

This monkey had a baby so tiny it was still latched on to her belly. See the baby's arms reaching around?

Day 4: Hiking the Ferncliff Peninsula

While researching some of the sights at Ohiopyle I found a website that said Ferncliff Peninsula was an easy trail and often overlooked but that it was home to a wide variety of flora and fauna and totally worth checking out.  Easy and beautiful? Perfect.

On Thursday we parked at the Visitor Center, a restored train station, and then crossed this restored railroad bridge onto the peninsula.

This wide trail (and the above railroad bridge) are part of the Great Allegheny Passage bike trail.

From the bike trail, we hung a left onto the Ferncliff trail which circled around the perimeter of the peninsula. The reviewer was right: it was gorgeous.

The trail quickly opened up to the river where we found a pool full to the brim with tadpoles. I don't think I've ever seen a real, live tadpole before and here were millions! So cool!!

Here we are on the other side of Ohiopyle Falls, across the river from the viewing deck we stood on earlier in the week.

Hannah got tired of being the subject of so many photos then and insisted on taking a few herself.  She took the next two shots. Not bad for a beginner, huh!

Somehow, in spite of my insanely detailed packing list, we still forgot to bring the backpack. Or maybe just didn't have room for it in the car at the end and decided we didn't need it?  I don't know, but it would have been nice to have.  Hannah did a fair amount of walking, but she also required a fair amount of carrying.

There were a number of balance beams, er, I mean, fallen trees, along the trail.

A third chance at a family photo and this time I'm annoyed with the backpack straps strapped around my middle and how incredibly unflattering my sports bra is...I wish someone would have told me that sooner considering I've been living in the thing for like three years now. Family pics: 0-3.

I snuck off during nap time that day to visit Fallingwater. No kids under 6 are allowed and we were short a babysitter so it was a solo trip, which was fine since I'm rarely alone and enjoy my rare moments of solitary time, but this house was so amazing that I really wish Eric could have shared it with me so I had someone to talk about it with instead of just someone to describe it to...

Day 5: Checking out Confluence
We had picked up a number of brochures from the visitor center and decided to check out the next town over on the Great Allegheny Passage, Confluence, on Friday. On the way we stopped at a few vistas off the side of the road.

Once in Confluence, we checked out the giant dam and then drove around the town. I think I was expecting someplace like Stars Hollow but Confluence was a long way from that.  We had planned on walking around, exploring, and grabbing lunch, but after driving around, we decided that there was nothing to see and parking was therefore futile.  We drove back to a place on the edge of town called Lucky Dog Cafe, and I'm so glad we did! They had REAL food!! Real, delicious, yummy food! It was the most expensive meal we'd eaten out all week because I was so craving nutrients like crazy by then and just kept ordering stuff and stuffing it in.  They also win mad points for having an awesome playground set up in their outside eating area. Eating out would be so much easier if all restaurants had onsite playgrounds.

Lucky Dog Cafe is connected to Riversport, yet another store that rents gear and guides for those interested in paddling the river.  In the months leading up to vacation, we had every intention of leaving Hannah with my relatives for a day so that we could head out on the river together, but in the weeks leading up to vacation it became more apparent that this was probably a pipe dream.  They're about an hour from Ohiopyle and my mom was unable to come up early like she thought she would.  During lunch on Friday Eric started talking about how he wished he could rent a kayak and do some paddling so I told him to go next door and check into it. No need for both of us to miss out. Anyway, I'd run off the previous afternoon to do my thing.

Here's a pic of Hannah trying out his boat.

And a pic of a sleeping Tigger, one of the many dogs that lives at Lucky Dog Cafe/Riversport.

We tried to beat Eric to the take out point later that afternoon so we could get pics of him paddling, but we were too late and missed it.

FINALLY!!!! That's it!! Holy crap was this an exhausting post. I'm only slightly relieved though because Day 6, Saturday, was the family reunion and all those pics still need to be edited and posted AND, on top of that, I've got some cute pics of Hannah and Amy from earlier this week that I'd like to post AND some cute pics of Hannah with Eric's parents (in town for a long weekend) and the trike they bought her...In other words, many more to come!


  1. Hannah is a female version of Mowgli hanging from the towel holder!!! I love!!!


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