Black Moshannon State Park

An ocean of ferns




No internet or cell connection, except for fleeting moments of a moving Verizon signal that disappears almost immediately.

No water at the campsite.

Ten miles up a steep and winding road, away from grocery stores and other conveniences.

At $31/night, not cheap. In fact, by my standards, reasonably expensive.

And did I mention the bugs? Not just mosquitoes and ticks, but these incredibly annoying buzzing flies that dive bomb my head, seeming to try to get into my ears. I told myself I was being unduly paranoid, that it was just the way they fly, but after multiple unpleasant walks, really, I think they’re trying to get into my ears. They are madly annoying!

Speaking of paranoia, based mostly on the posted signs, I’ve been worried about four things here.

In order of probability:

    1) Poison ivy
    2) Lyme disease
    3) Someone scolding me for walking my dog in the wrong place
    4) Encountering a black bear

In order of danger/potential damage:

    1) Lyme disease
    2) Encountering a black bear
    3) Poison ivy
    4) Someone scolding me for walking my dog in the wrong place

In order of how much I’ve worried:

    1) Someone scolding me for walking my dog in the wrong place
    … tied for a distant 2nd, poison ivy, Lyme disease, black bears.

Seriously, sometimes my brain annoys me. I suppose it’s good that I’m not obsessing on black bears, but the posted pet rules say there are off-limit areas for pets. The only one I’ve seen is the playground. On every walk, between trying to wave off bugs and cover my ears, I’ve wondered whether I’ve missed a sign and some ranger is going to appear out of nowhere and tell me I shouldn’t be where I am. And if one did? So what! It’s not like it would result in days of itching or emergency room visits or a life-changing, debilitating illness. And yet… I worry anyway. What a waste of energy.

The park is actually beautiful. The campground is thoroughly forested, the kind of place where you can easily envision black bears and other wildlife happily roaming. A short walk away, there’s a dark lake with a sandy beach and a swimming area marked with buoys. Kayak rentals are $12/hour, $10 if you pay cash. On my first day here, I thought it would be a great place to bring my niece next summer, but then the bugs started attacking and I thought better of it. But I do think in a different mood or in a different time of year, I’d like this place a lot more. Maybe just a better bug repellent would do it.

And the campsites are nice — flat, graveled, spacious, with trees separating one from the next. Mid-week, even in July, it’s pretty empty. I can see another camper from my spot, but just one. I’ve got no next-door or across-the-road neighbors. Clean showers, with lots of hot water and great water pressure.

But the best part of it, for me, has been hours spent seriously working on Grace. Rainy days + unpleasant walks + no internet = plenty of time spent staring at the computer screen. I haven’t yet admitted to you, oh darling readers, that at the end of June I went back to the beginning and started over, (I know, I know), but I have a solid first three chapters on this fresh start now. I’ve also written probably several thousand words that I won’t be using, but they answer questions and fix the plot holes that have nagged at me for years. It feels like progress and even if it’s not really progress, it feels like satisfying work. Yes, someday I’d like all this work to actually produce a product that will earn me some money, but it feels good to be immersed in the story anyway.

And now back to it!