Come on! Hurry up! We gotta go!  Where’s your ______ (hat, cleats, uniform, goggles, shoes, glasses, coat..)?  We’ll eat in the car.  No, you can’t play with the neighbor we have XXX and XXXX and XXXX tonight.  The over scheduling.  We’ve all done it to ourselves and our kids.  Not on purpose.  I’ve found that if I ask Tessa and Eli, ‘ Hey, do you want to sign up for ____?’  They will enthusiastically answer YES!!!  So with good intention we have all experienced the over-scheduling of our family activities.  I don’t  feel guilty about it because the intention is good.  To introduce ourselves our children to something new.  To engage with a diverse group of people and expand our knowledge base.  It is fun to learn new things!  But let me tell you it got to be too much for our family.  I said yes to too many activities and I ended up needing a backup driver every evening.  The kids never complained but it was not the lifestyle Mike and I envisioned for our family.  SOOO we had a family meeting back in August and ask the question… would you rather play these sports or go on weekend adventures with the family?  Tess is 8 and Eli is 7 so at this age they actually do have an opinion.  Also I’ve found that encouraging them to participate in the family decision making also helps to prevent future complaining.  The vote was unanimous.  We all wanted a break from the scheduled sports and activities.  Inside I was jumping for joy!

The next step was to decide where to go.  So many adventures awaited us around WNY.  We’ve hiked the Niagara Gorge, visited Griffis Sculpture Park, seen the Eternal Flame Falls in Chestnut Ridge, and we were ready for a change and a challenge.

The first trip was to the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania.  (It turns out after a few google searches every state as a Grand Canyon of its own… weird.)  The name of the place is Pine Creek Gorge and it has a rails to trails path running along a river. The Pine Creek Gorge was formed during the last ice age, approx. 15,000 years ago.  A large glacial lake flooded in Ansonia, then cut a new channel to the south.  The entire length of the path is 50+ miles but we chose to ride our bikes 17 miles.  We packed up the car and drove about 3 hours to our destination Pine Creek Outfitters where we arranged for the guide to transport our car to the end of the trail.  We started in Ansonia and ended in Blackwell.  Right off the bat I was so happy to see that it was a smooth gravel trail with a slight grade downhill.  The trail takes you into a gorge where you follow alongside wide shallow river.  It is similar to Zoar Valley just outside of Springville.  The path is restricted to non-motorized vehicles and although it is ‘popular’ it is hard to imagine it gets crowded.  We passed a total of *maybe*40 people along the way.  Once we got in the gorge there wasn’t any cell service, which since we were all together as a family really didn’t matter. We brought a picnic lunch, a giant bag of peanut M&M’s a and few bottles of water.  There is no Ashker’s Juice Bar in the middle of the ride, there is however two additional access points from the cliffs above.  The first is a set of stairs for visitors of Leonard Harrison State Park.  This was a great place to stop, get off our bikes and put our feet in the water.  There were other kids and families around to chat with and it was good for all of us over 40 to stand up and stretch our backs.  (and have M&M’s of course)  We continued along stopping every once in a while to climb up a dry creek bed or have more M&M’s.  There were birds of all kinds traveling around us.  A few kayakers floated by and a fly fisherman or two were spotted but other than than it was pretty quiet.  The kids raced each other and challenged each other to see who could created the longest skid mark.  The next stop was about half way – 9 miles into the ride at Tiadaghton Campground.  Vehicles can access the campground and there were restrooms there. >>>PHEW<<<  We were able to sit a picnic table and relax while Tessa and Eli caught crayfish and minnows in the cups and tupperware we brought our lunch in.   Then came the final push.  Nine more miles… I was expecting complaints, whining, someone getting off their bike in stubborn protest of something but it never happened!  By the end we were all ready to get off of our bikes.  Especially Eli.  He really needed to stand and ride the last mile or so because he was so sore.  Poor guy!  It was a long day.  We departed at 11 and arrived in Blackwell 3:30.  The best part was that Blackwell has one shop- it has books, fudge and our family favorite after any bike ride- ICE CREAM!   Our car was ready for us in the parking lot for the trail access in Blackwell and we used our spare key to open it up, load up the bikes and head on out of town.  It was FABULOUS!  I was tired and dusty but it was totally worth the prep work and the drive time.

I can’t wait to tell you all about our next adventure!  Do you have somewhere you think we should visit?  Shoot me an email, I’m always looking for suggestions.

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