The Lodge at Glendorn

photophotophotophotophotophotophotophotophoto Sometimes as the 58 year old kid, you have to treat yourself to life’s wonderful pleasures that are not muddy, adventurous, snowcovered, or viewed from underneath a smelly sleeping bag in a tent. This was the case this weekend when Janet and I went to the Lodge at Glendorn in Bradford, Pa. This woodland retreat was created in 1927 by C.G. Dorn as a wonderful family camp to enjoy for years as a respite from the rigors of the oil business. The family built cabins for each of their children and enjoyed hunting and fishing for years until 1995 when they opened it up to the public. Fast forward to the fall of 2009, the Dorn family decided to put the property up for auction and two of their regular guests, Cliff and Tracy Forrest, had the vision to buy Glendorn and not let it be sold into parcels of land. The Forrests have put their heart and soul into the place as evidenced by their induction into the exclusive membership of Relais and Chateaux. Only the finest hotels and resorts are in this directory and you can appreciate this as you wander the grounds and see the thoughtful way the place is landscaped and the cabins are appointed.

As Janet and I approached the black iron gates in our Jeep,which recently hauled mulch and firewood, I tucked my shirt in and announced our presence to the staff who were waiting for us. We were shown to the Dale Cabin built for one of the Dorn sons. This was our second trip to Glendorn and it was our 25th wedding anniversary. The accomodations did not disappoint as each cabin has it’s own flavor and decor consistent with the history of the retreat. As we wandered to the Big House for our lunch, we were greeted by a friendly staff and escorted to a table in the dining room with a great view of the brilliant fall foliage. The fresh flowers on the table adorned with white linen tablecloths and napkins, were welcoming along with the beautuful silverware and utensils. The cuisine is prepared by Executive Chef Joe Schafer and his unique style of menu is second to none. To show you how good this guy is, my friend Cliff gave us a tour of the kitchen and presented a country ham to Joe to prepare for the breakfast menu for the next day. Now if you know anything about country ham, you know that it is like a catcher’s mitt that has been salted to death and is stored in a dry place. It is big in the south and when the boss says to prepare it for the next day, you better know what you are doing for the guests. Joe was spectacular and even prepared it with the traditional red eye gravy and grits. Pretty good for a guy that can prepare world class meals in the Pennsylvania wilds. Cliff even dropped the damn thing in the parking lot but I will tell you, it was good. Dinner was unbelievable and the fresh bread and butter with black sea salt was so good, I remarked to my wife that I would like to swab the butter dish with the warm sourdough bread. But I envisioned the whole dining room staring at me in horror with fixed eyeballs if I had done something like that. Hey, at least I wouldn’t lick the butter dish? But again, Jan’s filet, my salmon and the soups and desserts were to die for as we made our way to the two story fireplace which was lit for us to enjoy. The opening of the fireplace was circled with a stone archway that was protruding from the wall and Cliff told us that when a Dorn became engaged, they had to walk that stone protrusion above the opening of the massive fireplace. Up and over the arch and down the other side. Lots of accidents Cliff said, but part of the great fun with the Dorns and the traditions that they have instilled in the place.

Janet and I hiked and explored the trails which was pretty adventurous seeing that Janet had broken her elbow hiking six weeks ago. But she was game and the beauty of the place was spectacular. We even did a little skeet shooting this weekend under the watchful eye of Cliff and his Orvis endorsed staff. I am not a good shot. I can’t hit the broad side of a barn with a bag of rice, but I had fun trying. You can fly fish here with excellent instruction. Mountain bikes are available for exploration and in the winter, there is cross country skiing, showshoeing, and just up the road is Ellicottville, NY which has loads of alpine skiing opportunities. But if you just want to walk and explore the grounds, that is really relaxing and you can really soak in the atmosphere of this storied 1500 acres. You almost feel as if you are back in time especially if you take the time to read the history of the Dorns at their special retreat. I laughed at the sense of humor of C.G.Dorn in a series of published letters to his best friend bound in an old book on the desk in our cabin. Cliff and Tracy have respected that heritage and kept the history of the place in tact with references to the Dorns and their way of providing rest and comfort for their guests.

Perhaps the most impressive thing abount Glendorn is the attention to detail. The training of the staff is superb as they concentrate on the little things. They serve you coffee with the logo on the mugs facing you and the handle on your appropriate side. The cabins are serviced twice a day. You can go out to fish, hike, etc., and when you return, your bed is made or turned down and everything is tidy as if you had just checked in. Fruit, wine and cheese, snacks, are all available in the rooms in the lodge and the cabins. Really, there is nothing that you can desire because the attention of the staff is so keen. Cliff does not allow tipping. He and Tracy feel that the service should be excellent without the incentive of monetary compensation by the guests. For the 58 year old kid and his bride of 25 years, this was a wonderful getaway. We were sad when we had to drive the Jeep through the black iron gates on the way out, but I said,” Dear, wasn’t that wonderful? I will definitely bring you back here in another 25 years.” Just kidding dear……………. we can’t wait to get back. Check it out and definitely go there.

As we met our friends for pizza when we returned, we laughed and said,” Well, back to reality.” But, you know, sometimes you just have to appreciate the finer things and “go for it.” That is what good memories are made of and celebrating a wonderful life with my wife couldn’t have been at a better venue. Thanks for reading and go to Glendorn.

Take back the night!!

photoNiteRider2McCandless-20130303-00102 “Oh its a long long way, from May to December. But the days grow short…..when you reach September.” ” When the autumn weather…..turns the leaves to flame. One hasn’t got time …..for the waiting game.” This Kurt Weil lyric rings in my head as this time of year rolls along. Tonight I brought out the lights for my mountain bike and used them to finish the ride. In not too long a time, we will need the lights for the entire ride but for now, it is rather enjoyable to ride in the evening with just a jersey and shorts.

A few posts ago, I spoke about riding at night in the 24 Hours of Canaan. This 24 hour team mountain bike relay has become an extremely popular competition since Laird Knight first started Granny Gear Productions in Davis, West Virginia over 20 years ago. For those of you who remember, the bowels of West Virginia can become pretty desolate at 4 o’clock in the morning. As the race progresses, the field spreads out and oftentimes you are riding by yourself and hearing and seeing things in the woods. I remember coming up on the section called the “Moon Rocks” and seeing a marshall who was decked out in a long poncho with a staff by his side. He looked just like the Grim Reaper as I rode by his campsite and fire. He didn’t say anything to me and it seemed a bit spooky as I rode up on to the rocks and continued a night lap in Wild, Wonderful, West Virginia. I had similar experiences in the 24 Hour races at Seven Springs Mountain Resort in the Champion Challenge. Backwoods Westmoreland County can be pretty remote as well as the race spreads out and those familiar trails can become challenging and unfamiliar with only the bright beam of the light to guide your way. You are pedaling along following your beam and all of a sudden someone comes up behind you and freaks you out. I suppose I did the same thing to others as I came up on them. But being the guilt ridden hell guy that I am, I always gave them polite notice and slipped by them in a most proper way. ” On your left, thank you, have a nice ride.”

Competition using your lights was a lot of fun and the adrenaline rush of a race together with dark woods and single beams of light became the hallmark of very enjoyable and challenging race experiences in the mountains of West Virginia and Western Pennsylvania. But the most fun riding with lights is just what I did tonight. Riding with friends on trails that look totally different at night illuminated by a single beam of light. I have always been a proponent of riding with a light mounted on my handlebars but a lot of guys use a helmet mounted light as well. Personal preference, I suppose, but the dual beams seem to be more efficient. I can remember first riding with lights in 1987 at our local park where I still ride today. If you refer to my post on North Park, you will be reminded that we have 42 miles of trails in a park that is 10 minutes from my house. But these trails at night look different and it is always a new challenge riding them with the lights. In 1987, we were persona non grata with the County Police and the horse riders. I can remember hiding with the lights turned off while we were chastised on the bull horns coming from the police cars and thinking to myself,” Hey- just go get a coffee and another jelly donut and leave us alone.” The horse people were polite for the most part but I did get into some conversations with some of them about how these were horse trails and not to be used by bikes. I politely responded that I pay my taxes too and the conversations went south after that. Today, it is a whole different story with lots of folks riding mountain bikes on the trails and in the fall and winter, you can see streams of riders with their lights illuminating the trails in a chain of lights that seem miles long.

In the picture above you can see two guys. John Staab is my friend who you might recognize from my post on snowshoeing. John is a fun guy who loves to be outdoors and on his mountain bike. Last year was the first year that he rode at night and he became an instant expert on Chinese lights that you can order from Amazon. He is a real fan of night riding and has marveled at how it has extended his riding season. He even said to me tonight that he likes riding at night even more than he likes riding in the day. Amazing!! The other guy is none other than the Lord of Lumens himself…Bob Bannon. If you ever want expert advice on riding in the winter with lights, Bob is your man. He knows all about lights, lumens, batteries, and can fix almost any lighting system. Besides that, he leads rides all over our region all year long. No matter what the weather is brewing. Bob is the smiling gent with the chin warmer.

The night is another world. You are riding behind a beam of light and you hear all kinds of wildlife that you can’t see. Sometimes you see eyes and you wonder what is looking at you. I have turned corners and looked straight into the face of a rather large buck. When it is real cold and you are by yourself on the trail at night, you start to hear and see things. It can be a little un-nerving but exciting at the same time. Remember, I was in two horror films- right? But other nights that are drenched in moonlight can be some of the most memorable riding nights that you can have. The night air smells different, the trails look different, and the comraderie of riding with a group or the peace of riding by yourself in the moonlight or the solitary beam of your own light is a great experience. Why let the summer fun end? Get some lights and take back the night!!! Thanks for reading.