Day 51. August 3
We got a bit of a late start leaving Lisbon, but Ruth Ann made breakfast and we got to talk a bit more so it was worth it. As usual. We headed out under cloudy skies and hoped it stayed cloudy, but didn’t storm. Since the hills ha given us so much trouble the day before, Ethan asked Ruth Ann if she knew what they we’re like leaving Ohio. She directed us to a road that other bikers have gone and it looked to be much less hilly than the one we had planned on taking. Hooray!
It was stilly quite hilly, so I’m super glad we didn’t take the even hillier road. We rode about 15 miles before I needed a snack break. I had a quick Clif bar, but Ethan wanted to get going because the Ohio/Pennsylvania border was only a few more miles. We were on a back road, so we figured we wouldn’t get a sign. Instead we got a really cool old pillar that said Ohio on one side and Pennsylvania on the other. We snapped a couple pictures, did a victory high-five and headed into PA. Our tenth state!!! Woohoo!
The back road we were on eventually took us to a major road that heads south to the city. It was also quite hilly, but they were gradual. We went a few miles then stopped at Walmart for lunch. We got more bread for sandwiches, some Powerade and more contact solution for me. We didn’t stay long because we really wanted to get to the city where Deena’s parents, Bill and Jeanette, were waiting to meet up with us. They live about 3.5 hours away and we arranged to meet up with them the night before. We were very excited to have visitors and to see some familiar faces after a long week of biking.
After we left Walmart, we had a nice long descent down to the Ohio River. I think it was 5 or 6 miles down. It was lovely. By this time the sun was out and it was pretty hot. The weather had said there was a chance of thunderstorms, but it sure didn’t look like it. We rode on highway 51 towards the city and along the river, which was really cool. At one point the road curved around under another highway, which meant we were right in the road with concrete barriers on both sides. It was terrifying. We biked as fast as we could to get out of there. It was torture, but we made it.
Apparently, this highway 51 is a bike route, but we would like to argue that it was the worst bike route we’ve ever seen. The road is two lanes going one way and there literally no shoulder for most of it. I really don’t understand how they call that a bike route. Anyway, we crossed over the river several times over some super old looking bridges. At one point we were on an island in the middle of the river. Can’t remember the name of it, but it was full of factories and plants and lots of railroad tracks. Industry! After the island we crossed back to the highway, then once more over the whole river. By this time, the storm clouds had rolled in and we got a little nervous. As we rode it started to sprinkle, and as soon as we got down off the highway it really started raining. We took cover under an overpass and went back out when it let up a bit.
Our first stop in the city was Point State Park. It’s where the Ohio, Allegheny, and Monongahela rivers come together and form a point. There used to be a fort there, but now it’s a park with a huge fountain. Across the Allegheny river is where the Steelers play and across the Monongahela is the Fort Pitt tunnel. It’s a really neat spot, but I was starving and grandparents and dinner awaited us! We had another 3.5 miles to get to the hotel and it was a grueling trek through the hilly city. We also got rained on again and had to walk up a couple of steep hills.
We made it to the hotel finally and Bill, Jeannette and my cousin Jasmine were outside waiting for us. We showered then headed to a place called Church Brew Works for dinner. It’s a huge old Catholic Church that was turned into a brewery/restaurant. Our hosts in Valparaiso told us about it and Ethan was really excited to eat there. The inside is huge and still had all the stained glass. It was really cool and the food was great, but the company was the best part. It was a great night and we’re really glad it worked out meeting up with them!
It’s very surreal, but we are almost done!! 6 more days and we’ll be in DC! Eeeeeeeek!
Note: We are headed into the mountains so we will probably not have great service, but I’ll update this as much as I can. 🙂