2021 Week 30 – First Summer Road Trip (Part 4 – Final)!
In the post last week we were camping in the Allegheny National Forest (ANF) and dealing with daily rain. By this point I was used to getting wet and was concentrating on keeping my sleeping gear dry.
My first stop of the day was the Kinzua Bridge State Park in Kane, PA. At one point this massive railroad bridge spanned a big valley and was used quite extensively. In 2003 a tornado came through and brought down half the structure. It was determined it was not worth replacing so they turned it in to an overlook and viewing platform. The visitor center and gift shop are very nice and the bridge itself was a lot of fun to walk out on. It even has a “glass floor” you can stand on and see the valley floor below.
As it was nearing lunch time and I hadn’t eaten anything yet so I drove into Kane, PA and checked out Texas Hot Lunch 4-Sons, a local diner that specializes in “Texas Hot” chili served on burgers and hot dogs. I ordered a chili dog and a hot ham and cheese. They were both very tasty, and if I wasn’t going to be in the car all day, I could have gone for another chili dog (or two).
After lunch it was time to track down a waterfall I found on the map and spend some time driving on muddy forest service roads. The All-Wheel Drive and new WildPeak tires on the Subaru came in handy. Although the roads were in fair shape the rain had made things slippery, especially the hills. With little to no cell service it was not advisable to end up in a ditch.
Once parked at the trailhead I walked down an unused forest road to Hector Falls. It was a nice little 2-mile hike with no one around. Considering the amount of rain we had I was honestly expecting more water, but it was a beautiful hike with a lot of scenic views along the way.
After the hike back I spent more time driving deeper and deeper in the forest using a Gaia GPS map in Offline mode to guide me along. Gaia is a great resource with a TON of map overlays you can use for just about every outdoor activity. I ran into a few “road closed” gates and managed to work my way back to civilization and the Kinzua Dam.
The Kinzua Dam area was very well kept with plenty of places to picnic and fish. There was even a fishery on the other side of the river, and it had a lot of activity going on from what I could see. As you can see in the picture below there were some HUGE fish swimming around the top side of the dam. These were easily 3-foot in length and would probably put up a hell of a fight if you hooked them.
That evening, after setting up camp (and attempting to dry some things out), I built a nice fire, listened to a ball game, and enjoyed a few cold beers before turning in for the night. Of course, it rained overnight…
Day 5 had arrived, and I woke up to a campsite with a lot of standing water. With another band of rain on the way I packed things up quickly headed west to my first stop of the day. As I approached the I-90 toll booth the gate was up, and I totally missed the sign that said “pull a ticket”. I was thinking this toll booth was one of the ones that reads your plates & sends you a bill (I’ve long since lost my EZ-Pass) like the Louisville Bridge or I-90 in PA. Without a ticket I proceeded to my exit where a super friendly toll booth attendant helped me out and rang it up as a damaged ticket and charged me the standard toll for my trip.
The Vermilion Farm Market was a destination I’ve had on my list ever since we stopped by there on a whim several years ago. They have an amazing bakery and one of the BEST cookies I have ever had. The Coconut Pecan cookies are so good I bought all 5 boxes they had in the case. I also picked up a few other snacks before heading to Port Clinton for another must have when in the area…
The Jolly Roger Seafood House is famous in this part of the country and they have moved into a MUCH larger building since I was there last. The old place was small and had its own charm but the new location is a huge improvement. I’m happy to report the food is just as good. I opted for the Fried Clams and Chips (onion rings in my case) and a 1/2 pound of peel and eat shrimp. After savoring every last bite, I took a walk along the Lake Erie shoreline to work off some of that food.
Wrapping this adventure up I called an audible and decided to head home a day early when I saw the campsite in the East Harbor State Park. It was tiny, wet and had no less than 4 tents right up against where I would be sleeping. After being alone all week, I wasn’t in the mood to be surrounded by a bunch of people partying into the night (which is typical when you have that many people camping together). National Forrest sites are SO MUCH better than state parks and will be my preference going forward.
After 1466 miles my week-long adventure had come to a close and, even though the weather didn’t cooperate, I’m glad I did it. I’m already planning on a return to the ANF to check out the south end this fall.
Thanks for reading! I’ll be back next week with a wrap up of Week 31, 2021.