Path of the Flood Trail in Johnstown

For our latest adventure, we wanted to immerse ourselves in a little history and headed to Johnstown and the Path of the Flood Trail. It was a short ride, but we made plenty of stops to read interpretive signs, go off-trail to see an old culvert, and get lots of tunnel photos.

South Fork

This is the village of South Fork as seen from the end of the trail. South Fork was the first town to be hit with flood waters after the South Fork Dam broke on May 31, 1889.

Sandstone culvert

We had to jump off the trail a bit to get a look at this old sandstone culvert, built to divert water from the railroad bed. The railroad was built in the 1830s.

Staple Bend Tunnel

The east portal facade entrance to the Staple Bend Tunnel, the first railroad tunnel—and the third tunnel of any kind—to be built in the U.S.


The natural rock ceiling and walls inside the Staple Bend Tunnel.


The western portal of the Staple Bend Tunnel with pilasters described as “Roman Revival Style.” The entrance facades accounted for nearly half of the tunnel’s original cost.

Staple Bend Tunnel

What you can’t see on the last picture is all the vandalism carved into the pillars. 19th and early 20th century vandalism, that is. Every flat space has something carved into it, as high as people could reach.

The story of the Johnstown Flood overwhelms me a bit and is hard to read even now. Human error and complacence, a lot of rain, and millionaires who weren’t legally held accountable combined for a heartbreaking loss of over 2,200 lives whose families would never receive compensation. On the positive side, relief efforts poured in from around the world, and criticism of the lack of accountability resulted in a change in American law and the acceptance of “strict liability” which requires no proof of fault, negligence or intent.

Read more about the Johnstown Flood here:
Find out about the Path of the Flood Trail here:
Read about the Allegheny Portage Railroad here:

@Dippy_the_Dino’s rainbow scarf

On my latest trip to the Oakland section of Pittsburgh, I found Dippy sporting a colorful rainbow scarf in support of the LGBT community after the recent nightclub shooting in Orlando.


Dippy is the fiberglass sculpture that sits near the entrance to the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History. He wears different scarfs in celebration and support of current regional and national/international events. The sculpture behind him sits atop the Carnegie Music Hall of Oakland where I heard Neil Gaiman speak way back in 2012.

Look Down Once in a While

Stone in the Road

Look at this beautiful texture I found while we were visiting Slate Run. It looks like it could be the granite from a countertop or some incredible interior design pattern.

Nope. It was a road.

The middle of a freakin’ road.

Thankfully the traffic stayed away long enough for me to snap a few close-ups (along with some mid-range and overview shots). I can’t wait to use one of these in an illustration somewhere.

Thumbprint Tree

Thumbprint Tree

I’ve been working on my first “Thumbprint Tree,” this one for my niece’s upcoming wedding. I had never even heard of them until now. Very out of the loop, apparently. She told me what she wanted and sent me off to my room. Here’s the initial sketch:

Thumbprint tree sketch

I needed to do a little tweaking for size, but here’s how it turned out:

Thumbprint Tree

23″ wide x 17″ high, pen and ink on cream Strathmore 400 Series drawing paper.

Pine Creek Bike Trail (day 2)

Of course, I might have overdone things this time with my ankle, but we needed just one more day on the trail before we headed home. We decided to walk the trail in the opposite direction from where we had just biked the day before, which meant better opportunities for photos since we weren’t moving quite as fast.

Pine Creek Rail Trail

Looking down Pine Creek from the bridge at Slate Run.

Pine Creek Rail Trail

Pine Creek Rail Trail

It had finally rained at Slate Run the night before, and the clouds were doing their “night after it rained” formations.

Pine Creek Rail Trail

This shot just looked like a tunnel into the wilderness. I liked the way the trees framed the view and the trail invited you right in.

Pine Creek Rail Trail

This little girl was along the edge of the trail laying eggs, we presume. We found several holes that had been dug along the way and, beside a couple of them, what looked to be the leathery shells of ransacked turtle nests. I hope these ones make it.

Pine Creek Bike Trail Anniversary

For our anniversary this year, we decided to head to Slate Run, Pennsylvania, and do a little biking on the Pine Creek Rail Trail. We started at the Slate Run trail head and rode about 10 miles north to Blackwell with the incentive of ice cream at Miller’s before we turned to head back. And we enjoyed yet another beautiful day. I think the weather got the memo.

Pine Creek Rail Trail

We passed over this interesting, asymmetrical and nameless (to me) bridge along the way.

Pine Creek Rail Trail

If I described the scenery there, it would sound exactly the same as the Great Allegheny Passage. But somehow the Pine Creek Trail had a different personality. This photo looks like it could have been taken on the GAP, but when I took it, I could feel the difference.

Pine Creek Rail Trail

Ice cream at Miller’s. “Water + Food + Art.” Not a sign you see every day.

Cornbread and Cast Iron: My Latest Obsessions


I have never owned a cast iron anything in my life. Okay, that might not be entirely true. I may have owned a skillet once, but I never knew what to do with it and it may have gotten rusty and I may have put it away and never used it again. But to be honest, I’m not really sure if that story is even true.

But. Now we have the internet, and the internet knows everything. I researched how to take care of a cast iron something, and I ordered a single-serving baby one online. It is so freakin’ cute. I also sifted through tons of cornbread recipes until I found one that looked 1. Good (it used buttermilk), and 2. Easy (it didn’t use very many ingredients). I’ve since started experimenting with swapping ingredients, and honey works just as well as sugar. Also, I only bake as much as the server can hold at a time and keep the rest in the refrigerator until I’m ready for it, which is pretty much the next day.

And this is the result. Isn’t she beautiful? If only because she was created by someone who never really learned how to cook and thinks time is better spent creating something that will last a little longer than a 24-hour cycle. But still.

I think she’s adorable. I could just eat her up. (And already have, several times over.)

Get Out: Wildlife

Took advantage of the cool(ish) temperatures and low humidity to get out of the house. Today we rode our bikes from Ohiopyle to Confluence and back, and along the way we ran into a bit of wildlife.

Purple Flowers

Dame’s Rocket. Found these little guys in Ramcat.


Also in Ramcat a few minutes after I took the photograph above. I think he was chowing down on the very same flowers in the top photo. He had a wingspan of maybe five inches, so, pretty big. Looks like a Fluted Swallowtail butterfly.


And, of course, our buddy the cicada. Found him off the trail about five miles southeast of Ohiopyle, but really, they’re all over and pretty loud. We had stopped to take a stretch and a look around, and this one literally fell out of a tree in front of us. While I was taking this picture another one fell out of the tree and landed beside us.

Taking the Ankle to the Bike Trail

Looks like I won’t be running for a while (or hiking, for that matter), so it’s off to the bike trail for me. (Did you see my last post about the stupid thing I did to my ankle?) Otherwise, I would need to stop eating completely because, you know, calories don’t burn up much from writing blog posts.

And although we just rode Confluence last week, we decided to ride it again because of my Lucky Dog Café black bean burger obsession. Here’s the thing: Lucky Dog is closed from November to April, and once they do open for the season, the hours and days when they’re actually open for lunch don’t always fall conveniently. And so far this year, the nice days when we were able to get on the trail have yet to coincide with a day they’ve been open for lunch. So I’ve been patiently waiting for my Lucky Dog fix since LAST OCTOBER.

Last. October.

But the wait is over. I get my Lucky Dog fix To. Day.



Let me start with these “It Was a Beautiful Day!” shots. Because, seriously, it was. The cicadas were so loud in some places we couldn’t hear what the other person was saying. I would say, “Man, those cicadas are so loud,” and my husband would say, “What?” It’s like they were having their own rock concert.

But let me finish by saying, it’s Thursday. When we drove past the Lucky Dog to the trail parking lot, the food delivery truck was parked in front. Apparently, Thursdays are delivery days. We biked. We loaded our bikes. We walked (I skipped, metaphorically) to Lucky Dog. Their menu had changed since we were there last October, but black bean burgers were still on it. Yay!

Well, no. Not really. According to our server, they were “out.” We asked if they still had them, and she said the food delivery truck delivered the goods, but the person who makes the burgers hadn’t yet.

NOOOOoooooooooo o o o   o      o.

So many things in this world to be sad over, and I choose black bean burgers.