South by Southeast late 2018 - early 2019 travel blog


our turnpike neighbors

We took a day off yesterday. As we feared it rained all day. I'm always behind in things I want to read, but I didn't get much done due to a continuous distraction/entertainment. It started before we got up, but we didn't realize the significance of the continuous bumping on the windows until we opened the shades. A robin launched himself from a nearby sapling and crashed into our windows, again and again and again. We looked for a nest, but the sapling was small and had no leaves yet, so it was easy to see that it was not protecting a nest. After surfing the web, I discovered that this is a common spring problem with robins. People reported this sort of behavior continuing unceasingly for three weeks. They guessed that the male robin sees his reflection and sees it as a challenge to his mating potential, but no one was really sure what causes this craziness. Apparently, it does not harm the bird unless he bashes in his bill. As we ate breakfast we could see him coming in for a landing again and again right next to us. Ken went out to pull down the awnings over those windows, hoping that less reflection would make them less interesting. The bird was unfazed and swooped underneath them to continue his crashing. He took a few short breaks, but the crashing continued unabated until dark. Even when the rain ran down the windows, he did not pause.

This morning the bird continued crashing into us, but we were cheered by the bright blue skies and warming temperatures. Since our campground was right on the GAP bike trail, we rode to Ohiopyle State Park, about a 22 mile round trip. There were a few spots where we had to dismount and schlepp our bikes over fallen timber. Some of it had new foliage on it and we wondered if it had just fallen down yesterday during the rain. The trail followed the Youghiogheny River, which has cut a gorge through two mountain ridges. The river gurgled and tumbled over the rocks, but sometimes we could not hear it, because the gorge reverberated with the cacophony of a passing freight train on the opposite bank. In the summer people come here to raft; we remember enjoying it ourselves last time we were here. A beautiful ride.

The forecast was for more rain in the afternoon and the route out of the Allegheny Mountains is exciting enough on dry road, so we pulled in the slides and left a night earlier than planned. Even after Ken started the engine the robin continued to crash into our windows. I'm sure he'll miss us. Ken drove down narrow lanes that climbed and plunged like a roller coaster. I'm glad he is busy concentrating on his driving and does not see me anxiously clinging to my seat belt until my fingers turn white. The route out of town took us to a bridge that looked lower than we are. Fortunately, Ken had an opportunity to make a quick turn before we tore off our air conditioners and satellite dish. I was so glad when got to a road where large rigs were coming at us. If they could get under the bridges so could we.

After leaving all that scenery and nature, we are camped at a rest area on the Ohio Turnpike. We have enjoyed turnpike hospitality before. As far as we know, Ohio is the only state which encourages camping in some of their rest areas. Generally, it is illegal to stay over night in a rest area and we've never done so, but I'm sure people do. For $20 we have 50-amps of electricity and access to fresh water and a place to dump black water. Easy on and off make this a good choice when you are just passing through. We could even have dinner in the rest area facility, but we already had lunch out after the bike ride. So I better stop writing and thaw something out.

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