Is there such a thing as fate? Or when weird things happen are they just a coincidence? Many people say that things happen for a reason, but I often think that's just a way to make ourselves feel better when crappy things happen to us. On the other hand, I have had events happen in my life that makes it hard to believe it was just a coincidence.
Either way, one of those weird things happened to us while on vacation. We have really enjoyed our past trips to Pymatuning, PA, but decided that we would try a different area this year. We looked up which of the parks allow dogs in their cabins and settled on Hills Creek State Park. After making reservations, we began looking for things to do in the area, and discovered we would be staying close to the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon. It looked like a fantastic hiking and sightseeing opportunity, so we knew we would be hitting there at some point.
In the past, my admitted control issues had me planning our vacations like the psychotic headmaster of a twisted military academy. What we would be doing on each day, at what time, when and what we would eat - meticulously planned. And if something like rain disturbed those plans? Prepare for a meltdown! Sounds like a fun vacation, right? That type of OCD/control issues probably helped me lose 200+ pounds. But to maintain that type of life is exhausting and pretty much sucks the life out of, well, LIFE.
So, this vacation was a concentrated effort for me to take it one day at a time, little planning and more fun.
We got up Tuesday morning, checked the weather and decided the Canyon would be that day's destination. We headed out after breakfast and getting there, we saw there was a short and not too challenging trail to an overlook. We decided to check this out first before descending into the gorge.
We hiked the overlook trail and took some pictures before heading back to the SUV to load up our backpacks with food and drink. We then began the trek into the gorge on the Turkey Path.
We successfully reached the bottom and began walking on the Pine Creek Trail - a former train route which has been converted into a multiple mile hiking/biking/running/horseback trail. We hiked a few miles and took in the scenery. The leaves were changing and it was quite beautiful.
We turned around and headed back with the plan to stop for lunch at a picnic table we had passed a couple of miles ago. But when we got there, a couple of bicyclists were using the table as a resting bed. So we decided to keep walking.
We reached the bottom of the trail and took off our backpacks, unpacked our lunch and ate leisurely on a bench. A guy came down the trail and approached us admiring Archer. We started talking dogs as he and his son had 2 dogs with them. Somehow us being from NY came up.
"What part of NY are you from?" He asked. I started to laugh as when you say NY, as everyone from here knows, people think New York City or MAYBE Albany.
I tell him and he gives me a shocked look. He tells me that he knows EXACTLY where I’m talking about because his mother is from here, and his aunt and uncle still live in the village over from us – and that he came up here in the summer for many years as a child and remembers fishing in the Black River that runs through this area. His mother met his father when he was stationed at the local Army base and they moved when he was stationed elsewhere.
Ok, the chances of meeting someone who not only knows this area but has connections to it is pretty coincidental. But when you think that we had to be in that exact place at that exact time for us to run into each other and for him to have to have come over to start talking to us? Maybe that type of thing doesn’t seem unusual to you guys, but to me, it was pretty freaky!
He headed back up the trail and after we finished eating we began our own climb back to the top.
Here we are 9 miles in and almost to the top.
It was a pretty awesome day – and the coincidence (fate?) of running into this stranger made it even more memorable!