June 18 – Mohammed Ali’s Training Camp (ONP #168)

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Up here in my hometown of Hamburg, PA, I was worried about being able to find New Places to explore. Then a routine trip to the natural food store just up the highway in Deer Lake, PA, turned into an expedition to Mohammed Ali’s training camp when my mom casually commented that “Ali’s camp was up one of these roads. What?!?! A quick Google search and five minutes later, we were climbing a mountain road that must have been a pretty good workout for him when he was out running.

We pulled into the camp a few minutes later—an open area with no fences or “Private Keep Out” signs. Some people were working there (a restoration is in progress), and as we got out of the car and started walking around taking pictures, a friendly man pulled up in a golf cart, introduced himself, and offered to open some of the buildings: Ali’s gym, his cottage where he lived, and the mosque where he prayed. All were simple log buildings, restored with pictures of Ali’s time there, and video clips showing his life up in the camp, where he trained from 1972-1980. Around the grounds were strewn large rocks painted with the names of Ali’s opponents.

The thing that amazed me: It had been here all these years, so close to where I grew up and spent so much time, and although I think I had heard it mentioned, I never remembered or thought much about it. I wonder how many other treasures are like that, just under my nose. . . And to think I was worried about this trip to PA, that I wouldn’t be able to find enough New Places to fill in this blog. I am continually humbled and amazed by this project . . .