Daddy and the kids….alone!

I love my wife dearly, but dang-it when she goes on her “girl trips”…the kids dig deep into their satchel of craziness and whip out the scepter of daddy terror. Consequently, this weekend was nothing different. My son (Chief), a ball of ambition with two legs…has a V8 motor mouth at times. As a result, question after question, ideal for finding his own voice, takes a toll sometimes. He really has that “own voice” part sealed. He is great though. My daughter (YaYa) is becoming less and less easy to impress. Usually, she wants to go places, see things, read things…you know the things most young kids insist upon, but when she really wants to do it, nothing stops the winds of her tornado from demanding it. She needs that extra measure of stimuli.

Take a day trip you say?

Well one particular weekend, a Sunday it was…I had a number of errands to run and I wanted to take the Kids to Ohiopyle State Park in Pennsylvania. Well first was a trip to Aldi grocery store. Those who know me personally, know that Aldi is non-negotiable in my house. Where are you going to get really affordable organic food outside of your own yard?

Sorry for the tangent.

We also needed to go to Home Depot and the Nike Store…YaYa, “HATES HOME DEPOT”.  Her words, not mine. This is probably due to this creepy lady who works there who always stops us to sign us up for HVAC maintenance, even though I told her I didn’t need it the week before. She then tries to win the kids over with an offering of her expired granola bars. “NO THANK YOU”…HAVE A GOOD DAAAAAYYYY (as I skate backward). Given she hates HD, I try to be in and out. This time, she gave all the ‘tude. Trying to compose myself like a lid on a tea kettle, I simmered down and we were able to leave peacefully.


Aldi was a breeze, as long as I let them roam around a little they are fine. Given how tall I am, I’m like a human crows nest in that store so I can see them and get their attention before they try to push the boundaries too much. The only issue they have at Aldi is checkout, their eyes become magnets that manifest their deepest desires into their hands and they start touching everything…so…I wait until a line is almost empty and drop all my groceries off quickly. My regular cashier jokes on me all the time because I’m in that particular store … everyday….twice a day…sometimes three. She helped me out and got me out fast, easing the kiddie woes.


The Nike store… another story. I went to Tanger Outlets and by a Terrible Towel coincidence, bus loads of people were in front of the Nike store waiting to get an autograph from previous Pittsburgh Steelers players. In addition, we are nearing the new school year so imagine the amount of Generation Z and Alphas that were getting their shopping on.

After weaving through a hoard of them, we finally made it to the Nike Store. I was there to get running shoes so I could get my Gneiss Mile life out of the doldrums and boy did I screw the pooch (mess up). Let me tell you when I was looking for those shoes, I went straight to the clearance section and picked out all the heat that was $40 and less. And there were great selections, so many that I wanted to leave with all of them. I didn’t. The consolation prize was trying them all on. This took time though, and when kids have more time to submit to their curiosity, they do.

Kids gave Jim Henson a ring

You know the temp socks, yeah those mangled ones that sit at the end of the fitting bench? My two little rascals were grabbing them like it was free money and making puppets out of them on the bench. Goodness, I was floored (tight). It took me a while to notice because I was in Audio Daddy Mode. The father setting where visuals are focused on your…target (the shoes)…and audio is focused on a reminiscent crying or a cadence of a familiar child. When I turned around to their cast of Muppet Baby socks all over, I realized it was time to go. Whoa!!! I glanced up, took a double take and glory be to the shoe gods, there was a $30 pair of shoes originally priced at $110 right in front of my eyes. Snatched them and headed to the checkout. Next stop OHIOPYLE suckas, we’re out!!

Whoa, Steely McBeam is a little creepy

I thought we were out until I exited to the Steeler mob again. We did stop to take a picture with Steely McBeam. When I noticed my child’s smiles with McBeam, I knew that the day was about to turn around. I admit I get frustrated from time to time when it comes to dealing with my little ones. But they routinely do something sweet that turns things around fairly quickly. Ok, In the car, now we are finally off to Ohiopyle.

Steelers, Steely McBeam, Gneiss Life, Gneisslife


Slugging down to Ohiopyle is pretty cool. Heading south from the Pittsburgh area, we reached the Laurel Highlands…a beautiful section of Pennsylvania and West Virginia that starts with Chestnut Ridge. Geography Alert, Chesnut Ridge is the westernmost ridge of the Appalachian Mtns in Pennsylvania. When approaching the highlands it’s pretty awesome sighting. US Highway 40 is the main vein crosscutting the Laurel Highlands in this region and experiences peaks and valleys as you cross various ridges. This route gets us to its intersection of Ohiopyle Rd, which as you can probably guess, lead us directly to Ohiopyle.

Ice Cream, Tourist Shops, and Other Attractions

Driving down from Route 40 is a treat. We basically drove down to the Youghiogheny River Valley (Yough) cutting through the topography of the Chestnut Ridge and Laurel Hill. When we arrived in the Township of Ohiopyle, a cute bustling tourist town,  I realized there were so many things to do. Ice cream shops, tourist shops, and other attractions were nicely centered for walking around.

Park at Ferncliff

I parked in the Ferncliff Natural Area, across the Yough from Ohiopyle Township. Right next to the parking area was the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP). I’m sure those traveling the length of it are pleased to take a break here. From here, we walked across the Yough to Ohiopyle Township via the GAP and settled at the Ohiopyle Park Office. There is a nice river point par where people are able to walk their dogs; take pictures; or play along the rocks near the bank of the river. We took advantage of the environment.

After some time and photos there, we shot up to Baughman Rock, this is part of the Pottsville Sandstone that is one of the limbs of the anticline (geologic fold) that makes up Laurel Hill (the reason why Ohiopyle is what it is). Here you see a spectacular view of the main parts of the park. I believe it is the deepest gorge in the Pennsylvanian Appalachians. The outline of the Yough is in the center of the photo. Youghiogheny, Ohiopyle, Pa, state park, gneisslife

Cucumber Falls

After spending time at Baughman Rock, we headed to Cucumber Falls. The kids absolutely loved this site. We start by parking close to the falls and adjacent hiking trails. The falls has a nice infrastructure built so people can observe them safely. Surprisingly, They’re fed by Cucumber run. At roughly 30 high, it’s the largest I’ve been to in Pennsylvania.  Since the kids and I weren’t really dressed for all lovely waterfall mist, we elected to stay dry. However,  kudos to this lady who wanted my vote for real MVP. She scaled some pretty awkward rocks to “get the shot” of me and my kids. Thank you, lady!!! I pledge allegiance to your house “unknown” into perpetuity. Check out some of the photos.

So Much More to Ohiopyle

While I’d love to continue talking about Ohiopyle today, it has gotten a little long in the tooth. We are actually planning another trip very soon in addition to some special places lined up for the fall. So please stay tuned for more adventures that show our State and National Parks some of the best in the world.

How about you?

I really love going to Ohiopyle. There are many more state parks I’d like to experience. I’m curious to hear about your experiences as well. Join the conversation.

  • What did you like about this posts?
  • Which state park have you traveled to lately? Was there something you really valued about it?
  • How often do you get out to see parks in your state?





Categories: Family LifeTravel

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