Norma with black snake on C&O Towpath between Cumberland and Oldtown



Bicycling Adventures 2015

Last updated October 24, 2015



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Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Towpath
On October 9-12, 2015, Carmen and I did 194.87 miles of bicycle camping over 3.5 days.

California and Oregon
On August 2, 2015, Norma and I did some easy mountain biking in Bend, Oregon.

Garrett County Loop
The last time I did this route was July 6, 2013. I found this to be an extremely diffcult but scenic ride. It was certainly one worth trying again. My goal on this second ride was to make it up each hill without having to stop. Last time I failed at the dreaded Bowman Hill Road. I hoped that today I would conquer it.

The previous week was a rough one. Not enough sleep. There is a lot going on with the Savage Community Association and the Marine Corps League, two volunteer organizations for which I serve on the board of directors or as elected officer. But on Friday, Norma and I headed out to Garrett County to visit her mother. On the way up, I took a long nap. Then that night, I got a good amount of sleep. Feeling well rested, I decided I was ready for this long bike ride on May 16, 2015.

The forecast called for a 60% chance of rain with a high temperature in the 80s.

I loaded up my bike with plenty of food, water, a map, and a global positioning system (GPS). By 0910, I was riding.

From Broadford Road, I saw a beaver lodge on the north side of Broadford Lake. See first photo. Last time, I saw a heron there, which was unusual for this part of the state.

In Oakland, I noticed a few things I didn't remember from last time.
  • Cornish Manor Restaurant: Where we ate the previous night.
  • Our Town Theatre
  • Fort Alice Trail

  • I'm always looking for interesting places to paddle. It looks like there might be a nice out-and-back trip on Muddy Creek starting near Lake Ford United Methodist Church (Garrett County ADC map A17) (see second photo) and heading north into the Cranesville Swamp Natural Area then maybe south for a bit towards Swallow Falls State Park. I would do this as an out-and-back since there might be several places that are hard to get through. But from what I saw, it looked very scenic, narrow, and quite passable.

    A lot of may apple plants were in bloom (third photo). You have to lift up the leaf to see the flower.

    I took a short break every hour. Like last time, the western part of the ride had a lot of exhausting hills. But I made it up each without stopping. I got quite a bit of speed on the downhills. My GPS said my maximum speed was 48 miles per hour.

    The ride through and after Friendsville was very scenic.

    At the base of Bowman Hill Road, I took a 10 minute break. I knew I would need all my strength to make it up. Then I started. The hills on the earlier western side of the ride kicked my butt and it didn't take long before I was cramping. I only made it about half as far as last time which wasn't even a quarter of the way to the top. If I had started the ride with this hill, I might have made it but then I don't think I would have made the hills on the western side. They are almost on opposite sides so I don't think starting in any particular location would necessarily be to my advantage.

    It started to rain with lots of thunder. It rained hard for at least a half hour. Even though it was supposed to be a warm day, the rain made me extremely cold. The downhill sections were the worst because I got so much wind chill.

    I pulled into the Deep Creek Lake State Park Discovery Center to warm up for a bit. I had never been there before. They had a lot of displays on local wildlife. I learned a few things. I returned the next day with Norma and her mother. The following are the photos I took then but I saw the same stuff on the break from my ride.
  • Fourth photo: A fisher. I have never seen a fisher. Norma's sister, Laah, thinks this is what killed one of her dogs.
    The fisher is a larger relative of the marten, about the size of a house cat [this one was significantly larger]. Fishers feed on small to medium-sized mammals, especially porcupines (which they kill by flipping them over to attack the unprotected belly) and squirrels. Fishers are amazingly strong and agile and will pursue squirrels through the treetops. Like the marten, the fisher is heavily trapped. It has been re-introduced into some parts of the U.S. to control porcupines. Although most common along the U.S./Canadian border, Fishers may be found throughout Garrett County.
    - from sign in Discovery Center
  • Fifth photo: Bald-faced hornet nest. I've seen quite a few of these but have never known what exactly made it. I've just been calling them wasp nests but apparently I was mistaken.
    Bald-faced hornets, also known as white-faced hornets, are best known for their large gray football-shaped nests. The nests are constructed of a paper-like material made from the hornet's saliva and chewed wood. Bald-faced hornets are protective of their nests and will aggressively attack with little provocation.
    - from sign at Discovery Center
  • Sixth photo: American bullfrog.
    The baritone call of the bullfrog is so deep and resonant, it resembles the mooing of a cow, hence its name. Only males emit this trademark "jug-o-rum" bellow, and their choruses can be heard during the day or night. The largest of all North American frogs, this giant can grow to a length of 8 inches or more and weigh up to 1.5 pounds. Even the tadpoles of this species can reach 6.75 inches in length. Nocturnal predators, they will ambush and eat just about anything they can fit in their ample mouths, including insects, mice, fish, birds, and snakes.
    - from sign at Discovery Center

  • I finished my ride after 7 hours and 24 minutes. It is a 57 mile ride with 5072 feet of ascent. I stretched it out to an even 60 miles. I don't know if I'll do this ride again. I think a flat century ride is easier...yes, I have done that.

    When I did this ride in 2013, it was tough. But today was tougher. I was feeling like I had aged a little over the last couple of years. I thought about what Toby Keith once said
        I used to be hell on wheels
        Back when I was a younger man
        Now my body says you can't do this boy
        But my pride says oh yes you can

        I ain't as good as I once was
        That's just the cold hard truth
        I still throw a few back
        Talk a little smack
        When I'm feelin' bulletproof
        So don't double dog dare me now
        'Cause I'd have to call your bluff
        I ain't as good as I once was
        But I'm as good once as I ever was

    - from "Toby Keith - I Ain't as Good as I Once Was"

    The next day, Norma and I were visiting Laah. She showed us a killdeer (seventh photo) and it nest (eighth photo) which she found just off the farm road.
    Although killdeer are considered shorebirds, they often live far from water. They live in grassland habitats such as fields, meadows, and pastures. The nest itself is merely a shallow depression or bowl in the ground, fringed by some stones and blades of grass. The nest is well camouflaged, as the spots of the eggs disguise them as stones, and the simple structure of the nest resembles its surroundings.
    - from Wikipedia - Killdeer
    Click thumbnails to enlarge.