Day 5: Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, North Mountain Campsite to Brunswick, MD

#NoWrongPlan woke up early as usual and Kevin, to our surprise, had not fallen out of his hammock and rolled down the hill. Our normal morning routine was modified as we left camp without eating breakfast. Our stomaches desired something special. We heard from a number of #BikeDC members that the Desert Rose Cafe in Williamsport, MD was an eatery not to be missed by any hungry cyclist. So without coffee or food we slowly meandered into town about 45 minutes away. All the while my body was consuming itself from the inside. The hunger of the morning masked the beauty of the coming day. Perfect temperatures and sun were in our future.

Drafting on the C&O Canal. Photo by BicycleBug

Drafting Rootchopper on the C&O Canal. Photo by BicycleBug

As our journey along the C&O Canal progressed, the more infrastructure we came across for a transportation system from a bygone era. When you think about it, the idea that we would engineer and build a 184.5 mile canal to move cargo, principally coal, by mule is mind boggling. Back then, we would think big and overcome obstacles towards a common goal. Today, we are more interested in figuring out where to cut costs then actually achieving anything. ‘Merica.

As we got closer to Williamsport, we rumbled past Damn Number 5, known as the Honeywood Damn. It was built in 1835 to generate hydroelectric power which is still in use today. The remains of the C&O Canal are in the foreground.

Dam No. 5 on the C&O Canal, north of Williamsport. Photo by The DCyclist

Dam No. 5 on the C&O Canal, north of Williamsport. Photo by The DCyclist

Finally #NoWrongPlan arrive in Williamsport, ready for some coffee and a hearty breakfast. But of course, there was a hill to climb on our way into town. Williamsport has an old and very quaint downtown with the Desert Rose Cafe at it’s epicenter. Conveniently there is a bike rack right outside the cafe. Two thumbs up for bike friendliness.

Upon walking into the Desert Rose Cafe the first thing you feel is “make yourself at home.” It just had that quirky homey thing going for it that your can’t really describe but you know when you feel it. It was also obvious that they see a lot of cyclists come in for some much needed sustenance.

We found our table, ordered coffee, and started recharging our cell phones. Any outlet in a storm. I ordered my usual breakfast of pancakes and a side of bacon. If they had breakfast tacos I would have ordered that because….tacos…..but they didn’t. It’s ok though because for some reason every breakfast taco must include eggs which universally disgust me. Why can’t anyone make a breakfast taco without eggs? I believe this to be an untapped market niche with enormous potential.

The Desert Rose Cafe serves up a lot of good karma and whimsy. Photo by The DCyclist

The Desert Rose Cafe serves up a lot of good karma and whimsy. Photo by The DCyclist

As we recharged body and phones, #nowrongplan started to think about lunch. Our remaining ride from Williamsport to Brunswick would have little in the way of easy to access food stops. Overhearing our conversation, the server mentioned that they often provide to-go sandwiches to passing thru-cyclists along their journey. It didn’t take long for us to jump on this idea and order lunch to go.

There is a skill to ordering food to-go on a bicycle. You must order something which doesn’t have any sauces, mayo, mustard, or viscous topping. Otherwise, when you try to eat it hours later your sandwich will be a disgusting soaked mess. If you must have these toppings, get them in packets or containers on the side. The Desert Rose showed they were familiar with these sandwich challenges by placing a sandwich on their menu call the Bicycler’s Best. Since I was on a bicycle and I…..wait….it is “The Best”, I ordered it.

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#Nowrongplan coasted downhill out of Williamsport after filling up on coffee, nutrients, electrical power and our fair share of good karma. The after breakfast ride started out easy with high energy and perfect weather. Eventually, we had to stop because Kevin had a strange rattle coming from his Sam Hillborne. Upon investigation, one of the bolts attaching his rack to his frame started to loosen. I guess the bumpiness of the trail had started to take its toll. After tightening the difficult to reach bolt one of my Fix-It Sticks we were back on the move.

A number of miles south of Williamsport #nowrongplan hit my favorite part of the C&O Canal. It’s my favorite for a couple of reasons.

This part does suck either. Photo by The DCyclist

This part does suck either. Photo by The DCyclist

First, it is different from the rest of the canal. The trail veers out into the Potomac River providing amazing views down the meandering water body. This is one of the few places where you are riding right along the water. It provides a totally different vibe than the rest of the canal which is welcomed.

This is going to the cool!! My butt already appreciates the smoothness. Photo by The DCyclist

This is going to the cool!! My butt already appreciates the smoothness. Photo by The DCyclist

Second, this section of the C&O Canal is paved. My hands and butt thanked the National Park Service profusely for making this section smooth and soothing my various raw nerve endings.

Build more of this please!!!! Photo by The DCyclist

Build more of this please!!!! Photo by The DCyclist

Root chopper enjoyed the smoothness and beauty of the concrete path on the C&O Canal south of Williamsport, MD. Photo by The DCyclist

Rootchopper enjoyed the smoothness and beauty of the concrete path on the C&O Canal south of Williamsport, MD. Photo by The Cyclist

Later, we stopped for lunch at Killansburg Cave Hiker/Biker camp to devour the previously purchase sandwiches from The Desert Rose Cafe. The calorie intake was much needed.

Next on the agenda was passing Harper’s Ferry and pedaling into Brunswick for #NoWrongPlan’s last night of camping. I am not sure if the daily grind of the tour was starting to take it’s toll on me but the ride after lunch was very tedious. My legs felt heavy and tired from the continuous pedaling along the constant grade. It was difficult for my to tell if this was a physical or mental challenge. I was hoping for a resurgence when we passed Harper’s Ferry. From this point, I would know where I was and how far with had left. I hope this would set my mind and body at ease. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

The DCyclist enjoying the sights of Dam No. 4 on the C&O Canal. Photo by Rootchopper The DCyclist enjoying the sights of Dam No. 4 on the C&O Canal. Photo by Rootchopper 

All that was left was a tedious grind for the next 10 to 12 miles into Brunswick. I hate to say it but I couldn’t wait for the day to end.

Once in town, we picked the Potomac Street Grill primarily because its was open and we could eat outside with our bikes. Plus, it was the only thing we could find that was open downtown. It’s too bad Bean’s in the Belfry can’t be open 24 hours a day. In hindsight, it may have actually been open for the dinner hour but we didn’t ride that far down the street.

The food was nothing to brag about but we were pretty hungry so it didn’t matter much. Kevin’s bike really didn’t like the food either because it chose to have a flat tire while parked at the restaurant. This just gave us time to have another beer. Drink.

With Kevin’s tire fixed, we paid our bill and slowly limped back across the train tracks about a half a mile to the Brunswick Family Campground. The $5 camping with hot showers was a welcomed amenity. However, the saying always holds true, “you get what you pay for.” The staff were friendly and the camp was well maintained but it is located right next to the railroad tracks in Brunswick. Ordinarily this is not a problem but Brunswick is home to a busy railroad switching station for freight trains. Did we sleep? Stay tuned for the last day of #NoWrongPlan.

Continue reading to the Day 6, the final day.

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3 thoughts on “Day 5: Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, North Mountain Campsite to Brunswick, MD

  1. I think you fell victim to the monotony of the C&O. It’s relentless. Before the paved section was installed, there was a detour up into the local neighborhoods and farms. I appreciated the break in the grind. Also, you had been using the same leg muscles for 5 days. A few hills would have livened them up. (Same holds true in distance running.)

  2. Pingback: Day 4: Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, Pigman’s Ferry Hiker/Biker Camp to North Mountain Hiker/Biker Camp, Mile Marker 110 | The DCyclist

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