It was one hell of a drive through the scenic mountain byways. Steep hills, blind curves, hairpin turns. There was one road that was so winding that the trailer was in the other lane when turning. I didn’t exactly bike here from Pittsburgh or DC on the C&O Canal Towpath or the Great Allegheny Passage, but I felt just as accomplished.
The great Allegheny Passage snakes through mountains, soars over valleys and is mostly flat from Cumberland to Pittsburgh. I ran into a bunch of cyclists, some who pushed hard in a day or two, some took it leisurely – all wanted to unclip from their bikes and take it easy in Cumberland. I was inclined to join them.
There’s a handful of friendly restaurants, taverns and dive bars in Cumberland. You choose one depending on whether you flock with the Ravens or a part of Steeler Nation. Since Cumberland is located in Maryland’s narrow waist – a one-mile strip squeezed between Penn and West VA, a local can go either way. I started at European Desserts, a quaint cafe for an artisan prosciutto sandwich. There I met four elderly Jewish ladies playing mahjong. The owner, Sasha, generously offered us a free slice of strawberry shortcake.
Next, after a walk over the bridge to W VA, then a stroll along historic old town, I laid my weary bones at Uncle Jack’s Pizzeria & Pub.
People in Western Maryland are friendly, and my bartender, Dusty always wore a big smile. I was amazed at how collected she was despite a busy Friday patronage.
The pizza was deep dish that would make any Chicago native proud. I made it for happy hour 4-6 with $2 slices and $1 off beer. And I stayed for the live music at 10 with Dan Stevens. It sure was nice seeing live music, after nearly a 4-month hiatus. Been able to sit at the bar, chat with strangers and enjoy a live band brings back some type of normalcy. All we need now is professional sports to return.