On the first weekend of May, Pennsylvania legally allowed citizens to get out and go camping. After a full six weeks of shelter-in-place orders,  private campgrounds were now an acceptable destination, one of only a few places people can go.  I went camping with my dad, little sister, uncle, and younger cousin, a destination that is normally connected into our family traditions. Much of our experience remained the same, but the differences in this pandemic were also noticeable. 

We stayed in a cabin about two hours north of Pittsburgh, in a rural county where COVID numbers are tiny compared to Allegheny County. 

Here’s the front of the cabin, the inside, and the fire pit.

It felt amazing being able to go outside and enjoy the fresh air. It was a great stress reliever for me. It was nice just to leave the house, go somewhere not that far away, and enjoy myself. My Uncle Dave expressed it just right: “I’m going mad. I need the open air.”

We went on a hike in the Forest Cathedral. It’s full of trees that are over 200 years old and are super tall. There are many trails that go through the Forest Cathedral, but we didn’t walk all of them. We walked one called the Longfellow Trail, which is named after the tallest and oldest tree in the Forest Cathedral.

For some perspective, here’s my dad…and behind him is a normal sized tree in the forest.

We also went and climbed the old fire tower, which was built in 1929. It is 87.5 feet tall and, when at the top, you can see 10 miles away. When we got to the stop, we happened to see turkey vultures pretty much across from us, in a nearby tree.

Up next was rock climbing. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but it was a lot of fun and a neat experience! My sister looked so small compared to some of the rocks. There was also a little viewing point. Once at the top, it had an amazing view!

                                   

We also went finishing at a small lake. There were many other people there, but for the most part, everyone kept their distance.

People were the exact same in terms of friendliness. Everybody greeted each other, nobody wore masks or gloves, but did keep their distance. My cousin and little sister asked to play with some of the other kids, we let them. They happily played with the other kids at the playground. No parents seemed bothered by this. Everyone seemed very happy that their kids were able to play with other kids.

My younger cousin, Brody said, “I thought the playground with all the other kids was fun.” To which my sister, Victoria, responded, “Yeah, playing tag with the other kids was a lot of fun!” The campground has not changed since I was last there in October, except that the cafe workers were wearing masks and the main Dry Goods shop was closed.

Despite the much lower numbers for Coronavirus, the signs around the camping area told a similar story throughout our state and nation – activities were cancelled, capacities were decreased, some destinations were closed.   

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