Swatara Rail Trail

I wanted to check out the Swatara Rail Trail for quite some time – it is a mixture of rail trails and abandoned roads near Jonestown, PA. I saw the trail while driving home from another near by trail, the Stone Valley Rail Trail. Part of my research in checking out new trails is going on Google Maps to see where the trail starts, ends and what else is around it. I noticed at one end of the Swatara Rail Trail there was a KOA campsite and you could cycle (or walk) right from camp to the trail which really intrigued me. So I picked a weekend in August, packed up my camping gear, Kevin, JoJo and my nephew and we headed out for a weekend of adventure!

We checked in, set up camp, made a yummy dinner and then enjoyed staring at the stars and the campfire. The only other campers in the tenting area was a man with 2 little kids….and the man constantly yelled at them for literally everything they did. It made me cringe to think this was their camping experience – getting yelled at non stop. I guarantee those kids did not think camping was fun. Eventually we all went into the tent and drifted off to sleep to the tranquil sounds of the nearby stream – which was drowned out by the little girl crying for her mommy – which was drowned out by the man yelling at her to be quiet. :/

In the morning we were woken up by the shrieks from the children running around about 5:30am.

“Why isn’t the dad yelling at them to be quiet NOW?!?!” I asked.

who needs an alarm?

We made our way out of the tent, made breakfast and then my nephew and I grabbed our bikes and headed for the trail.

It was very easy to find the start of the trail, which was also a blue blazed side trail that leads to the Appalachian Trail.

As we were cycling along, I took a deep breath in – at the same moment a fly crossed my path – it was there one minute and gone the next. ‘No, that did not just happen,’ I thought to myself at the same moment I felt the fly wriggling around about as far up my nose at it could go. UNREAL.

‘Ok, remain calm…..it will come out.’ I thought as I yelled for my nephew to stop. I told him what happened as I tried everything I could think of to get the bug out. I was seriously wishing I had a brother who would have shown me how to shoot snot rockets because I tried and tried in that moment and nothing. He stopped moving around in my sinuses after a short time (poor guy – imagine THAT being the way you go out – YUCK). We decided to keep riding because there wasn’t anything I could do about the fly.

We cycled along the trail, but kept having to stop because I started having massive sneezing fits. They kept getting worse and worse to the point my eyes were watering and I couldn’t see, but still the fly was lodged in my sinus.

‘OMG – am I gonna be one of those people who end up in the hospital to get a bug extracted from them?!?!?’ I thought in a panic. That thing was really up there.

I turned to my nephew. I was sneezing non-stop now. “I HAVE to get this thing OUT OF MY NOSE!” I exclaimed, “I don’t know what to do!!”

He looked back at me and very logically said, “Why don’t you just blow your nose?” in the nonchalant way only a pre-teen can be.

“ummm…oh yeah!” I replied, a little embarrassed and wondering why the HECK I didn’t think of that before. As soon as he said that I remembered I brought along a pack of tissues. I guess I just didn’t think of it because I assumed sneezing and failed snot rocket attempts should have done it.

“I saw an old tissue on the trail a little ways back – u can use that.” he said.

“EW – NO!” I replied as I grabbed the pack of tissues I will now never cycle without from my bag.

After a few good, hard blows the fly came shooting out of my nose into the tissue.

“HOLY SHIT!” I yelled and then quickly reminded my nephew to not say such things. “LOOK AT THAT!”

We looked at the poor dead fly for a bit and then I said, “Kevin is NEVER gonna believe me.” and I carefully wrapped the fly up and stuck it in my bag as proof to show him when we were done with the ride.

After a few more sneezes I am happy to report I was completely over the ordeal aside from a burning sensation in my sinus. Why does this weird shit always happen to me?!?! (remember the groundhog from earlier in the summer?)

OK – back to the bike ride.

We continued down the gravel trail until we ended up on the abandoned roads. We only saw a handful of people the entire time we rode.

“This is eerie!!” My nephew exclaimed just as I was thinking the same thing.

It looked like something straight out of Walking Dead.

It was silent except for the wind blowing the leaves on the trees and the occasional creak from our bikes – and it was awesome. It reminded me a lot of Centralia – before everyone decided to ruin it with graffiti.

After exploring the trail for awhile, we headed back without incident and met Kevin and JoJo who were patiently waiting for us. We decided to order from the camp restaurant which actually DELIVERED the food to your campsite – it was pretty cool!

And yes, I did show the fly to Kevin. 🙂

4 thoughts on “Swatara Rail Trail

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