Virginia Trip 2021 | Day 4 | PA to WV | Ohiopyle State Park | Mt. Davis | Flight 93 National Memorial | Spruce Knob Lake
We started off day 4 of our trip with a short early morning hike to see Cucumber Falls in Ohiopyle State Park. The lot was empty when we arrived, and we made our way to the first overlook of the waterfall. Curtis started looking for a letterbox while I took pictures, but Charlotte was eager to keep walking so I went with her and left Curtis to his search.
Char and I walked down some stairs and made our way over the rocks to get a closer look at the falls. It became apparent to me that she was very excited this hike, and seemed to think it should be more difficult than it was — rather than taking the obvious path, she chose to jump on bigger rocks. Normally this would mean she was following a scent for something she probably shouldn’t eat, but not this morning. Today she just seemed in the mood for a challenging hike and this easy trail wasn’t cutting it for her!
I finally made it to a nice close-up view of the falls to take a picture, but at that point Char was already done and ready to keep moving. Curtis caught up with us and took over her leash, and she continued to lead him over rocks and all the way down to the Youghiogheny River. She was convinced that we needed to cross the stream, but here we finally intervened and broke the news that this was as far as she could go, and it was time to move on. Thankfully she didn’t put up too much of a fight, and we were soon on our way East.
This morning’s drive took us on backroads through the beautiful Pennsylvania country side, where we watched the fog slowly fade away and started to enjoy the views of the rolling hills. We eventually came to our next stop: Mount Davis Natural Area, the location of the highest point in Pennsylvania!
We arrived and parked in the main lot. The majority of the elevation climb is taken care of on the highway getting to the park. We enjoyed the easy walk to the highest point and took in the informational signs around the area. Curtis and I took turns climbing the tower to see over the sea of trees, then took our official high point family pictures. And with that, we now have 20 state high points under our belt, and 14 for Charlotte!
After that, we headed Northeast to our next national park site of the trip. Today’s park was the Flight 93 National Memorial. This memorial/historic site felt different than all the others we’ve been to, as it’s for something that happened in our lifetime, and we remember very well. Even the drive there felt heavy on my mind, as I contemplated how these hills and fields were the last things that the passengers on the flight saw on that fateful day, in their final moments.
We entered the park, and first stopped to see the Tower of Voices, symbolically built at 93 feet tall and holding 40 wind chimes. Unfortunately there wasn’t any wind while we were there so we didn’t hear it chime. We then moved on to the visitor’s center. Curtis and I took turns going in this time while the other waited with Char, and both of us found it very emotional. We couldn’t make it through reading about final moments or conversations, or listen to any of the recordings. I did learn from our visit here how significant it was that the passengers were able to fight back and that the plane crashed here — not only did they potentially spare the US Capitol building, but because they crashed here the FBI was able to retrieve the “black box” and do a thorough investigation of evidence. We finished our visit by driving down and each taking turns walking to the crash site.
Once we were finished, we began making our way to West Virginia and our intended camping area in a rather indirect way. Curtis noted that we could get more new counties and less repeats by heading East on US-30 to Bedford, then US-220 South into Maryland and then West Virginia. Along the way, we saw 3 courthouses. Once in West Virginia, we jogged South and East taking US-48 and WV-32 down to Job. The drive was long with lots of ups and downs through the mountains, and we sort of created the route based on which way the big slow trucks in front of us weren’t going. But finally we made it to Spruce Knob campground and were very happy to find a spot here. For this trip, we had reserved most of our campsites for the drive out and back, but wanting to have a little flexibility and use some cheaper first come-first served sites, we didn’t have a site reserved for tonight. Thankfully it worked out! It probably helped that it was a Monday.
After setting up the tent, we decided to enjoy the evening at Spruce Lake. We first walked the trail around the lake, then put together our kayak and went for a paddle around it. After years of saying we wanted a kayak, we finally ordered one last winter and have been enjoying it so far. We purchased a tandem Oru Kayak, which is foldable and easily fits in the back of our car along with our camping gear and luggage. Maybe I’ll write a more detailed review post later when we’re more familiar with it and have more experience. We’re excited to have another activity that the 3 of us can do together, both at home on any of the lakes and reservoirs in the Omaha area, and that we can bring on vacation and enjoy pretty mountain lakes like this one! Charlotte is becoming more comfortable riding, and looks adorable in her little life jacket.
Finally, we folded up the kayak and returned to our campsite for dinner. Thankfully, tonight was completely uneventful compared to our first two nights of camping!