Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Day 55: Harrisburg to Morgantown, West Virginia

The big treat of staying in Harrisburg, for me, is morning on the Susquehanna River. I was out taking pictures at first light.

Dawn over the Riverfront Hotel

This is the picture I was waiting for.

Susquehanna Railway Bridge

The freeway bridge is on the left.

The Riverfront hotel is between bridges

For the trip to Morgantown, we first dropped down into Maryland briefly.

When we stopped for lunch at the Subway in Hancock, we discovered the town is on the C & O canal, which parallels the Potomac River. C & O stands for Chesapeake Bay and Ohio River; we assume the canal connected the two. This early 19th century canal has been declared a national historic site and has been preserved for its entire length. We went down to photograph the canal and the Potomac. This required me to apply insect repellent copiously.

C & O Canal

In Maryland, we got on I-68 West,  which is called "the National Freeway" because it follows an historic route through the Appalachian Mountains in the Maryland panhandle. Captain Dan called this an "elegant" highway because it was smooth and well-graded, and it had three lanes in many places, allowing the trucks to pass each other. The traffic was light and spread out. The mountainous scenery, alternating farmland and woods, gets scenic dots on a paper map, but the glorious greens were turned to shades of gray by a darkness in the air the color of smog in Los Angeles in the bad old days. Since this went on for hours in varied terrain, it was probably not smog, but I have no other explanation. We drove into the sun all afternoon and the glare was piercing.

The temperature was 91 degrees when we arrived in Morgantown around 5 p.m. The Best Western Mountaineer Inn gave us a free night on points.

After we got settled in and cooled down a little, we wanted to see the Monongahela river. Dan studied his map and saw a park that we could drive to. I was not eager to re-enter the harsh bright roads; not ready to resume navigation duties, which require watching both the iPad and the signs. From the parking lot of the motel I could see the dark gleam of water and persuaded Dan to walk there with me.

We passed through a couple blocks of the old town, then walked down a broad bank to see the river. The setting sun was directly in our eyes, putting the river in deep shadow. The temperature and humidity were higher by the river. We walked to various vantage points. Dan talked to a couple of fishermen. We gave it our best shot but there wasn't much pleasure in it.

Then we had to walk uphill about 15 minutes to the motel. Holymoly, did we got hot! After a shower, Dan went to the nearby Texas Roadhouse for dinner.