Friday, August 10, 2012

Rain, Lightning, and Presque Isle, Erie PA

August 9

It was lovely waking up in the Allegheny National Forest.  I had to haul my camping gear back to my motorcycle about 1/8 mile away.  Once packed up I was ready to ride.  Except one thing.... I had no idea where I was going.  I didn't have any cell, data or GPS.  I was on Route 666, the mark of the beast! I knew I needed to head west, so west on 666 I went.  It had been threatening to rain ever since I got into the park the day before but had held out.

rain shelter, phew.
  For the next 45 minutes I was on a wonderful twisty stretch along a river.  Then all of a sudden I saw nothing but dark and stormy cloud cover.  Uh Oh!  I still had no clue where I was, so I followed a sign to the town of Tionesta.  No sooner that I arrived, it began to down pour!  Luckily I found a carport to pull under and I waited out the storm.  The weather was so severe that a lightning bolt hit the mountain ridge bordering the town and a tree caught on fire.  The locals at the only place to eat, Subway, were saying there was no way for the fire dept. to get to that spot and they were hoping it wouldn't spread.  Needless to say I bought an analog map, picked a route to Erie, and when the rain let up, headed North!

native plants?
Once arriving in Erie I scouted the two camping spots I had read about. The first was overcrowded, and the only available spot was a communal area on the Erie Lake beach waterfront. Not very conducive to motorcycle camping as there was no where close to park, and it was really windy on the water and still stormy. I decided to try another campground about 8 miles away from Presque Isle. This was also on the waterfront, $30 a night, no shelter and mostly RV's.  The woman who runs the campground was really nice and let me know Erie was in store for some serious storms over the next 24 hours.  That was enough for me to find a cheap hotel for the night.

Brian Gula from TREC

Finally I arrived at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center.  I have been in correspondence with Anne who is an educator there.  Unfortunately she was not available to meet, so I had the pleasure of meeting Brian Gula.  Brian was excited about the "Natives" project and spent an hour or so showing me around the TREC demonstration gardens. They planted tons of natives found on Presque Isle State Park here in the parking lot of TREC and Brian was happy to talk with me about the local native plants and their beneficial properties.  This gave me a well suited idea of what to look for while on Presques Isle. Let me say that TREC is an  AMAZING facility. A big Thank You to Brian for taking the time to educate me on the native plant life here!

Presque Isle State Park, PA
Before sunset I went into the Presque Isle State Park.  I hadn't the slightest idea how beautiful this park would be.  It feels like you are at the ocean i.e. Cape May, NJ.  Brian mentioned a trail that is using natives specifically for land restoration.  I went  and I photographed.  I was up all night working on my images.  Needless to say a huge front is coming through Erie and I seem to be stuck here for another day.  Plenty of work to catch up on so I'm not that upset... though this hotel is crummy, it beats sitting in a tent for 24 hours in the rain. Time to find a some local eats!