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Hostel attracts visitors from afar

| Sunday, Sept. 30, 2001

The Ohiopyle International Hostel, Inc., near the Youghiogheny River, offers overnight accommodations and a social environment for visitors from around the world. The facility located in Ohiopyle State Park on Ferncliff Peninsula sits atop a hill off the Ferncliff parking lot by the railroad tracks.

On a recent warm evening, a family of four from Scotland and a hiker from Sharon visited the hostel.

Henry Przewodowski of Sharon stopped after hiking 70 miles of Laurel Mountains Hiking Trail.

The Cruickshank family, parents Colin Cruickshank, 70 and May Cruickshank, 53, a son Malcolm Cruickshank, 19 and daughter Aileen Cruickshank, 22, came following a visit to Kentuck Knob.

The Cruickshank's second daughter, a travel agent in Scotland, planned their travel itinerary. The Frank Lloyd Wright architecture interested Malcolm Cruickshank and Civil War history interested Colin Cruickshank. Malcolm Cruickshank, unable to find any contemporaries to travel with, encouraged his family to travel with him, according to May Cruickshank, the family spokesperson according to her husband Colin.

Steve and Kelly Miller, managers of the hostel, welcomed the family and instructed them on the rules of the house as they signed in. Aileen and Malcolm stuck a tack designating Scotland on a world map during a tour of the hostel. There was barely room for them to mark their homeland due to other tacks placed by previous European visitors. Then they shared their story with the Millers,

Colin is retired; May is a swimming teacher; Malcolm is a student at Cumbria College of Art in Carlisle, England and Aileen is an occupational therapy student in Scotland. Aileen came along to do the driving, according to May.

'I knew driving was difficult here,' she said.

En route to Fayette County they visited the Guggenheim Museum in New York City and the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. They will visit friends in Virginia when they leave Fayette County. They had reserved three nights at Ohiopyle's hostel.

On a previous visit to the States they didn't have time to visit museums, said May Cruickshank, the family spokesperson.

They spoke of their exploration of the Guggenheim Museum.

'They had an exhibition of Frank Gehry, who built a dancing building in Prague,' May said. 'They also had Frank Lloyd Wright exhibits. We went to see the architecture of the (Guggenheim) building and got a bonus.'

According to Malcolm, Gehry's architectural style is a bit like Wright's.

'Gehry is not so famous,' he noted. 'He uses titanium and is curvaceous, while Wright uses angles.'

The Cruickshank's also visited Madison Square Garden and Madison Park, said May Cruickshank. 'I was amazed my photography in an earlier trip hadn't turned out so we went back.'

Their flight from New York City to Pittsburgh was late, so the Cruickshanks stayed in the Hostelling International, Pittsburgh facility. They took advantage of their delay to visit the Andy Warhol Museum before traveling to Fayette County.

'It's amazing how fast you can get places with a little map,' May Cruickshank said.

Before arriving at the hostel, they visited Kentuck Knob. Malcolm was impressed by its details. 'The first time I was looking on the shape,' he said. 'He (Wright) called the shots on what they got, the window details.'

The Cruickshanks record their travels with 'lots of photos.'

'May is very good about making albums of anywhere we go, and labels them (well),' Colin Cruickshank said. 'We have a bookshelf full of albums:

May noted that the family looks at them frequently. 'What is the reason for them if you don't look at them?' she asked.

Although the family can afford to pay for hotel rooms, they prefer hostels.

Aileen said that hostels worldwide are pretty much the same. 'They are called international youth hostels in Scotland but they are all the same.'

'Some are new and some are old,' stated Colin.

They laughed about a couple of hostels they stayed in where men and women slept in the same rooms. That took Colin off guard, but he adjusted to it, according to May Cruickshank.

'Any International Hostel is well managed,' she said.

The Cruickshanks decided to eat out on their first night in Ohiopyle, choosing Falls Inn and Market, one of the Miller's suggestions.

Henry Przewodowski arrived shortly before the Cruickshank's left. He had just finished a week's hike on the Laurel Mountain's Hiking Trail and was hot and tired.

'I'm exhausted,' he said. 'Last Wednesday I started (hiking) in Johnstown.

Przewodowski has been walking for years. In 1995 he developed a chemical sensitivity and decided to walk in the rural areas, starting at the Pymatuning Lake causeway. He progressed to the Appalachian Trail, Mount Rogers and then the Laurel Mountain's Hiking Trail. He has also walked trails in Michigan, northern Virginia and the Smokey Mountains.

'It's not unusual for me to walk six miles a day,' he said. 'I like the solitude. I read magazines. It's better than watching television.'

He noted that the Laurel Mountain's Hiking Trail is like the Appalachian Trail.

'It has shelters, is completely isolated and you can enjoy your solitude,' he said. 'But it isn't popular among big time hikers.'

He had hoped to end his hike by walking out of the woods and sticking his thumb out to catch a ride so he would arrive in Uniontown in time to catch the 4 p.m. bus to Pittsburgh. 'But I didn't come out of the woods until four o'clock,' he said.

'It's nice to come to a hostel at the end of a hike,' he added, noting this is the third time he has stayed at Ohiopyle.

However, Przewodowski complained about the hostel's $18 for non-hostel members cost. 'I have to remember it's a vacation,' he said.

'In Georgia they have free hostels,' he added. 'But your (Ohiopyle) really stuck. You are trying to run a business and you need the money.'

He appreciates the cost of shelters along the trail, sometimes free.

About dusk the Cruickshanks returned from dinner, praising the food and appearing more relaxed. They joined Przewodowski and the Millers on the porch for further conversation before they all settled in for the night.

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