Recently, the weather has been pretty nice – and you know what that means: it’s time to start thinking about and planning for summer fun activities. Of course, the highlight of the summer festivities for the Pittsburgh secular community, is always the annual CFI-Pittsburgh Canoe Trip and Shrimp Boil Picnic. This year will mark the 8th annual such event. We have scheduled it for Saturday, August 27th, at 9:30am for the Canoe/kayaking event, and 12:00 for the picnic. And as usual, we offer a plethora of options to provide something fun for everybody, from children to adults, from athletically minded people to those with a more sedate inclination.
The centerpiece of the day’s activities is, of course, the shrimp boil/picnic at Cedar Creek Park. For those who have never done such a thing, it is an experience not to be missed. (For those familiar with Southeastern US culture, it is similar to frogmore stew only with a Cajun influence.) It is a one pot feast consisting of redskin potatoes, corn on the cob, andouille sausage, and shrimp, cooked with lots of garlic and Cajun seasoning. When the food is cooked, it is spread out on a newspaper lined table with large dollops of butter put on the table along with loaves of French bread. Everyone digs in and grabs pieces of food, rolling the potatoes and corn in the butter, peeling and eating the shrimp, throwing the peels and cobs back on the table. Take a big hunk of bread, slide it through the butter, top with a cooked clove of garlic, and enjoy a great complement to the rest of the meal.
When the food is gone, roll up the table covering with all of the cobs and peels, and throw it away – cleanup is done. And as always, we will have Creole style bread pudding with rum sauce for dessert. Of course, if you don’t like shrimp or prefer to not eat communal style, you can always bring your own food and enjoy the camaraderie. The picnic will be in Cedar Creek Park at Pavilion #19 which is the last pavilion on the main road into the park.
To get to the Pavilion by driving, access to the park is from PA Rte 51 in Rostraver. At the traffic light for C. Harper Ford, turn onto the side road away from Harper Ford and follow the signs to the park. After passing the Rostraver Municipal Building, you will pass a couple of houses and then approach two left turns within about 75 feet of each other. Take the second left which is the entrance to the park. Follow that road nearly to the end, about a mile. Pavilion #19 will be on your right, just before the concession stand.
But enough about food. For those wanting to go on the water, we have arranged with Youghiogheny Outfitters in West Newton to provide the craft and transportation to the put-in, meeting at the outfitters at 9:30 am. We will then be transported, along with our selected craft, to the put-in at Smithton. It is a nice leisurely float down the Yough from the put-in at Smithton back down to the outfitters facility in West Newton, (a distance of approximately seven miles) with a stop at Cedar Creek Park, the approximate halfway point, for lunch. There are no serious rapids and the water is fairly shallow all along that section of the river, so it is quite suitable for first timers and parents with children. And because you are essentially floating downriver, there is no real strenuous paddling to get where you are going – in most areas, the current will carry you, although not very fast. But remember, it’s not a race, and if you get to Cedar Creek too early, you might have a bit of a wait for lunch. And if past years are any indication, we will need to do the food in two batches.
To access the picnic from the Cedar Creek boat ramp, pull your craft out of the water and off to the side, and go to your left past the concession stand to the first pavilion you come to, about 200 yds. (There are restrooms directly across from the concession stand to the right.)
If being on the water is not your thing, but you want to do more than just the picnic, you can always do some cycling. The Great Allegheny bike trail, that goes from Pittsburgh to Washington, DC, goes right along the river and passes right in front of our pavilion. So if you want, you can bring your bikes and do some riding before or after lunch. (For that matter, it is a park, so you can do some walking if you prefer.) If you don’t have your own bikes, or don’t feel like hauling them, you can rent them from Trailside Treasures near the south end of the Boston Bridge. It’s a good two hour ride along the trail to Cedar Creek Park, and of course it would be a two hour trip back. If you want to do that, you will need to reserve the bikes in advance.
So as you can see, there is a range of options, depending on how active you want to be, and how much time you have to devote. You can canoe or kayak the river, stopping around the halfway point for lunch; you can hike or bike along the Great Allegheny Passage trail, joining us for lunch; or just partake of the shrimp boil and enjoy the picnic. Hopefully we have some option that will accommodate your tastes and/or available time.
The breakdown of costs for the various components are as follows:
Canoe/tandem kayak rental – $51.
Single kayak rental – $30.
Extra passenger in canoe (12 & under) – $5.
Transport of private canoe – $19.
Adult Shrimp boil – $13.
Child (12 & under) – $8.
Bike rental (through Trailside Treasures) – $21.50
All prices include 6% PA Use tax
Dates to remember:
August 10th – Deadline for registering
August 17th – Deadline for payment
Reserve canoes/kayaks/shrimp boil participation by sending email to BillK at firstname.lastname@example.org
Send payment to: CFI – Pittsburgh
PO Box 3912
Pittsburgh, PA 15230-3912
Hope to see you there! Looking forward to a great time for everybody able to participate!