Monthly Archives: September 2012

Monday Meander Volume I – VeeCee Trail on the Allegrippis

Yesterday was the first of what will be a series of outings for the staff of the Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau called Monday Meanders. With the blessing of our board of directors (thank you) and the Army Corps of Engineers, from now through the middle of May, we will be closing the HCVB offices in the Raystown Lake Region Visitors Center at 3pm on Mondays.  The purpose of this early closure is to give our staff the opportunity to get out and experience the area, its recreational assets, and our member businesses, in order to better serve all of our customers.

With a year-round staff of four employees, we are each taking a turn during the month to plan the outing.  For our inaugural Meander, I took on the planning task.  Our missi0n: to experience a new trail leading from the Visitors Center to the Allegrippis Trailsstacked-loop system on mountain bikes.

The VeeCee Trail on the Allegrippis Trails at Raystown Lake

The VeeCee Trail connects the Raystown Lake Region Visitors Center in the Seven Points Recreation Area to the stacked-loop Allegrippis Trails.

First, some background:  The Allegrippis Trails at Raystown Lake opened with much fanfare in May, 2009.  The 32-mile trail network was designed by mountain bikers and built through the cooperation of the US Army Corps of Engineers, Appalachian Regional Commission, PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and others.  The right-of-way for the trails on the USACE Raystown Lake property is leased by the Friends of Raystown Lake, a 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to enhance the environmental and recreational resources of the lands and waters of the Raystown Lake Project.  The Friends contracted with the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) Trail Solutions crew to construct the trail network, and augmented the machine work with volunteers to put on the finishing touches.  The result is a fast, flowing, fun network of trails that can accommodate riders or hikers of nearly any ability level.  The trails were also constructed in a way that minimizes erosion.

Originally, trailhead parking lots were available along Seven Points Road, and Bakers Hollow Road.  Both trailheads were shared with the existing Old Loggers Trail.  It became evident immediately that additional parking capacity was needed.  The Corps approved a plan by the Friends to expand the lot along Bakers Hollow Road, and that helped, but still more parking was needed for a popular trail network that has exceeded all expectations of its ability to attract users.  The Friends proposed a few other options for expanding parking, but none of them met with the approval of the Corps until the idea emerged to connect the trails to existing parking at the Visitors Center.  This idea proved to be a win-win by connecting the developed part of the Seven Points Recreation Area with the trail network, and requiring minimal clearing of plant and animal habitat when compared to creating a new parking lot.

Fast-forward to May 2012.  The 1.3-mile VeeCee Trail opened with the financial support of the Friends, Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau, and Specialized.  The trail connects the lower parking lot at the Visitors Center with Dark Hollow Trail by following a path around the end of Seven Points Campground’s Ridge camping loop.

Now, back to yesterday’s  Meander…  Evan Gross from Rothrock Outfitters met us in the parking lot about 3pm with four Scott mountain bikes.  He took the time to adjust the bikes for us, pump the tires, and give us instructions for shifting gears and a few other helpful tips like making sure to put your outside pedal in the down position when negotiating a bend in the trail.  Why?  Because if the inside pedal is down as you lean into a turn, it is likely to catch the ground and cause an accident.  For some of us it was the first time on a bike since we were teenagers (we’re all in our thirties, forties or fifties).  We did a few laps around the parking lot to get comfortable with the bikes, shifting, braking, etc., before we crossed Seven Points Road to the trail.

We discussed a few tips we had learned from trail reviews, one of them being not to over-brake on the downhills, because you’ll want that momentum on the uphills.  Another tip being almost counter to the first one.  These trails will propel you faster than it may seem, and faster than you may be comfortable with – don’t let it get out of hand.  The result of these pieces of advice turned out to be that we over-braked on the way out, and wound up pushing the bikes up a few of the hills.  And at least twice on the return trip, I let momentum carry me out of my comfort zone resulting in some near-misses with trees.

In the end, we got to experience an asset that we talk to a lot of visitors about, nobody got hurt, and we all had fun.  Mission Complete!

Next week it’s Vickie’s turn to plan something for her and Katrina to do.  Ed and I both have the day off to head to a Pittsburgh Pirates game with our families.

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A Thank You Letter from Curve GM Rob Egan

Publisher’s Note: The following email was received from Altoona Curve General Manager, Rob Egan.  The Altoona Curve are the AA Minor League Baseball Affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and a member of the Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau.  If you’ve never been to a Curve game, it is worth the experience, if only  to see the ballpark with the wooden roller coaster as a backdrop behind the right field wall.  The Curve consistently have had award-winning, in-game entertainment, and provide a MiLB experience like no other.

People's Natural Gas Field at Blair County Ballpark (source: milb.com)

People’s Natural Gas Field at Blair County Ballpark is the home field of the Altoona Curve Minor League Baseball team. (source: milb.com)

Curve Fans, Sponsors, Boosters, and Media –

We want to thank you for a successful 2012 season. There have been so many positives over the course of the past nine months that helped us prepare for and celebrate our 14th season of Curve Baseball. We are truly blessed to have such tremendous support of our franchise from all of you. The Curve ownership, management, front office staff, coaches, players, and game day employees aim to repay that trust every day by giving you great value when you come to a ballgame or event. In addition, we’re constantly looking for ways to give back to the community through our charitable efforts inside and outside of the ballpark.

Since January, the Curve have enjoyed some significant highlights including:

  • • Securing of our first-ever facility naming rights partner for Peoples Natural Gas Field
  • • Announcing/scheduling the first Pirates’-Curve exhibition game in Altoona since 2000
  • • Increasing per-game attendance for the second straight season – first time there’s been a per-game attendance increase in consecutive seasons since 2003-04
  • • Establishing our first-ever video marquee on Park Avenue to promote upcoming games/events at Peoples Natural Gas Field
  • • Helping raise funds and awareness for numerous local charities like Miracle League of Blair County, Children’s Miracle Network, Make-A-Wish, The Griffith Family Foundation, Prevent Child Abuse Pennsylvania, and all of our non-profit groups who earn a portion of the proceeds from concession stands they work at each Curve game
  • • Bringing two active sports all-stars to Altoona in the same season: Steelers’ Pro Bowl WR/KR Antonio Brown and Penguins All-Star Forward James Neal
  • • Producing our ninth winning season in 14 years by finishing with a record of 72-70
  • • Celebrating the promotion of several former players to the Major Leagues – including the 2011 and 2012 Curve MVPs Starling Marte and Brock Holt. There have now been 99 Curve alumni that have gone on to play at the game’s highest level
  • • Selection as a finalist for the second straight year for a Minor League Baseball Golden Bobblehead Award for Best Promotion.Our 2012 entry is for the charitable, season-long promotion: “Curve, PA Blue Out Saturdays” to benefit Prevent Child Abuse PA
  • • Staging several unique promotions that garnered national acclaim on MinorLeagueBaseball.com including: Andrew McCutchen Dreadlocks Cap Giveaway, Alex “Not Elvis” Presley Figurine Giveaway, Moyer Megabowl celebrating Jamie Moyer’s feat of being the oldest pitcher to win an MLB game, and our second-annual Summer Cruise Series with giveaways and themes to match Tom Cruise films of the 1990s
  • • Being home to the top two pitching prospects in the Pirates’ organization during the second half of the year with 2011 first round pick Gerrit Cole and 2010 first rounder Jameson Taillon both pitching for the Curve

We are extremely proud of these accomplishments and highlights which are made possible, in large part, by your continuing support. So, again, on behalf of the Curve, thank you for a successful 2012. While we just completed this past season, we are eagerly preparing for our 15th year which will include the March 30, 2013 exhibition game with the playoff-hopeful Pittsburgh Pirates. We hope that you will continue to be a big part of making it all happen!

Sincerely,

EganSig

Rob Egan, General Manager

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“Summer’s over, things must really slow down for you. Right?”

Source: US Army Corps of EngineersAfter Labor Day weekend, I and my staff at the Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau hear this a lot from friends, family,  neighbors, and other community acquaintances: “Now that summer’s over, you get to relax.  Right?”  While it is true that the part of our job that includes serving visitors on-site at the Raystown Lake Region Visitors Center does slow down a bit after Labor Day, we still expect to serve around 3,500 visitors over the counter during September and October (compared to just over 10,000 during July and August).

But visitor services is far from all that we do.  In the late summer and fall, the focus of our staff shifts partially from serving visitors to recruiting businesses into the association, planning and selling advertising for the 2013 Huntingdon County/Raystown Lake Region Visitors Guide, updating the look, feel and functionality of our website at Raystown.org, and mapping out strategies for advertising and promotion to attract new visitors in 2013.

September and October weekends are also jam-packed with events in the Raystown Lake Region.  Starting this weekend with the Greenwood Furnace Folk Gathering, and continuing with fantastic festivals, craft fairs, historic interpretations, harvest activities, and Hauntingdon events, and more through Halloween!  This is prime-time to come visit us.  The water and daytime temperatures are still warm enough for water sports, and the nights are cool enough for cuddling up by a campfire or fireplace, and getting a good night’s sleep, and best of all, if you can make it mid-week, you’ll feel like the entire 8,300 acre Raystown Lake belongs to you and you alone!

So have a great fall!  We’ll be “relaxing” at the office, ready to help you have a great Raycation! 😉

Categories: Events, HCVB News, Lifestyle, Things to Do, Tourism Industry | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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