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8.18.2015

Ohiopyle and Youghiogheny River Lake Recreation Area

A few weeks ago we wanted to go camping and have a nice and relaxing weekend getaway. We frequently go down to the area of Ohiopyle State Park and wanted to try out the Youghiogheny River Lake Recreation Area, just upstream from the state park near Confluence, PA. The getaway did not disappoint! Our first stop was for dinner in Ohiopyle at the Ohiopyle House Cafe. Below you can see the former rail bridge that currently serves as a bridge for the awesome Great Allegheny Passage bike trail that runs from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, MD, where it meets with the C&O Canal Towpath Trail that runs to Washington, DC. Ohiopyle is roughly in the center of the Great Allegheny Passage. 
 The Ohiopyle House Cafe is located in an old hotel building that is from the late 1800s. The cafe's emphasis is on farm-to-table entrees.
 The lemon, basil, and strawberry infused water was so refreshing.
 The view from the patio was excellent. Just behind the shadowed trees is the Yough River Valley. The bike trail runs right through here.
 One of the nicest things about the dishes at the cafe was the simplicity. This burger was simply a very large and juicy patty with cheese on fried Italian bread. 
Here is the location of the Cafe
 The old train station has been converted into a cool visitor center, museum, and rest area for the bicyclists on the GAP Trail.
 Now to our campsite. We arrived at the Youghiogheny River Lake Recreation Area, near Confluence, PA, at nightfall. 
 The moon was stunning that night.
 Watching the moon rise over the cliff edge of the Yough River Valley is amazing.
 Morning came and the fog had not burned away yet. I am not complaining, it was beautiful.
 The Outflows Campground brings in campers with tents and trailers. The facilities are modern and excellent. This is a great place to keep in mind if you are bicycling the GAP trail, for the trail runs right through the campground and tent sites are located right at the edge of the river.
Initiated under the Flood Control Act of 1938 and dedicated in 1944, the Youghiogheny River Lake Dam was erected as a flood control measure after the devastating St. Patrick's Day Flood of 1936 in Pittsburgh. Kinzua, Loyalhanna, Conemaugh, Crooked Creek, Mahoning Creek. Tionesta Lake, and Tygert Lake Dams were all built under the Flood Control Act of 1938, many of which also provide recreational opportunities in addition to their flood control and navigational purposes. The Yough River Lake Dam is also a hydro electric plant. 
 Right at the dam there is a sand beach and boat launch. The lake is sixteen miles long and has roughly forty miles of shoreline. The end of the lake is actually within Maryland.
 Here is a marker where the highest level of water was held by the dam after the meltdown from the Blizzard of 1993.
 This is the view of the Yough River Valley from the top of the dam, looking towards the campground.
Here is the location for the Youghiogheny River Lake Recreation Area and the Outflows Campground:
 Now back to Ohiopyle, at the stunning Baughman Overlook. The morning fog has burned off.
 Two of the most abundant things at Ohiopyle are shown in this photo, cascades and Mountain Laurel. 
Ohiopyle Falls in its mid summer state. This is little more than a trickle for Ohiopyle Falls, but still impressive nonetheless. Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall, a ride down the Yough river is always a blast. 

8.11.2015

Musikfest 2015!

We will take a break from the "and beyond" category today and take a look at the greatest annual event in the state, Musikfest, in the town of Bethlehem. For starters, Bethlehem is a town like no other. Having lived on both sides of the state, and currently living in the western half of the state, every year we make our way to Musikfest. For this festival, the city turns into one giant party for just over a week. With fourteen stages spread out across the city's tremendously preserved areas that represent Colonial, 19th to mid 20th century industrial history, and more. This city is one of a kind, and my favorite in the state. It is tough to find a place with perfectly preserved areas that represent every era of our nation's history. 

Below you can see the Liederplatz stage in the historic Sun Inn Courtyard, a place that has lodged people like George Washington, Sam Adams, John Hancock, and many others. 
The beautiful Sun Inn dates back to 1758 and is masterfully restored and preserved. A true national treasure.
Bethlehem's historic Main Street gets shut down and becomes a lively place with entertainers strolling up and down the street.
The city makes tremendous strides every time I come back to visit. Now they have the blacksmith shop fully operational in the Colonial Industrial Quarter. The restored buildings that make up the industrial quarter are absolutely stunning and an area that accurately shows the way the city looked in the colonial era as a settlement by the Moravians.
 One of the greatest things about the festival is the food. Here you can see the Hogar Crea organization making their famous grilled shish kabobs for their great cause. 
Yum! Other favorites include the Awww Shucks Roasted Corn, Theo's Gyro's, Bethlehem Dairy Store apple dumplings, and belgian waffles, and so much more. The way the local businesses come together for this community event is really pretty cool. 
 14 stages are spread across the city, with 11 of them having completely free events. 
 Here you can see the Central Moravian Church, the home of Moravian worship since 1803. 
 The midway between Handwerkplatz and Volksplatz. Many of the stages are named as a nod to the Pennsylvania German roots of the region, with "platz" being German for "place." 
 Festplatz! The largest tented venue at Musikfest and home to a large dance floor. Music of many genres is played over the time at the festival, but most often the stage is home to polka shows.
 Looking over the festival midway towards the Hill-to-Hill Bridge and Hotel Bethlehem, two great examples of 1920s architecture.
 Plaza Tropical
 The Festplatz midway
 Back to Volksplatz.
We only visited the Northside festivities this year because we only had one night to visit. The Southside has the preserved former steel mills from the Bethlehem Steel complex, transformed into a center for entertainment with multiple performance areas, the large SteelStacks center, and more. I highly recommend visiting Musikfest if you have not already. Try to go multiple nights if you can. This is my favorite event in the entire state. The 2015 festival runs until this Sunday, August 16th.
The Musikfest festival is spread out all over Bethlehem, but here is a map to give you a general idea of location. The Colonial Industrial Quarter is a great midpoint within the festival area.
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