Monday, May 10, 2021

Worst Weather

 


On every trip there has to be a “worst weather of the trip,” day. Hopefully, yesterday was ours. I don’t mind camping in cold temps. I love snow. I can adjust to hot, humid, high wind days, too. But, my least favorite camping weather is a all day cold rain. Sunday, we had just that. Temps hovered in the high 30’s all day and it rained for ten straight hours.

Our solution was to pile in the truck and visit neighboring Indiana; not the state, the town. Indiana is a college town, here in Pennsylvania, that is as pretty as a picture. It’s also where actor, Jimmy Stewart, was born and grew up. Stewart is a favorite performer of mine, so we decided to check out the Jimmy Stewart Museum, in the downtown area. What a cool, tastefully done memorial, to this incredible talent. 

After touring the museum, we checked out Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s campus, grabbed a pizza and headed for home. Once we made it back to our tiny home on wheels, Mark checked the disc drive, he always prepares before a trip (with over 100 movie downloads) and found an old Jimmy Stewart movie we’d never seen before. 1939’s comedy/western, “Destry Rides Again”, was the perfect ending to a “worst weather of the trip” day!







Friday, May 7, 2021

Punxsutawney

 


We’ve made it to Pennsylvania! We are staying at a state park called Prince Gallitzin, named after a Catholic priest, whose father was a Russian nobleman in the late 1700’s. The Prince (turned priest) settled here in 1792 and was influential in establishing a community here.

We chose this park because of it’s close proximity to Punxsutawney, PA. Most people recognize the name Punxsutawney, because the movie Groundhog Day takes place there. It’s the hometown of world famous groundhog and weather forecaster, Punxsutawney Phil. It also happens to be the birthplace of Mark’s Dad, Jim, and an area where Mark has wonderful childhood memories.

We connected with a cousin, who still lives there, and spent the day with Vicki and Ray on a bit of a nostalgia tour. Mark remembered a restaurant where the hamburgers were loose hamburger meat in a hotdog bun covered in the fixings. The original Carlinos has been out of business for decades, but Frank’s Corner Lunch has kept the tradition going. It was the perfect spot for lunch! What a great day reliving stories from the past and reminiscing about family, dead and living. 

We were a little late for Groundhog Day this year, but Starbaby was a great sport and “filled” in for Phil when we stopped by Gobblers Knob. Looks like the six more weeks of winter he predicted this year are finally behind us!








Monday, May 3, 2021

Grand Old Ditch

 


The C & O Canal, occasionally called the Grand Old Ditch, actually is an abbreviation for Chesapeake and Ohio Canal that operated from 1831 until 1924, along the Potomac River, from Washington D.C. to Cumberland, MD. The canals principal cargo was coal from the Allegheny Mountains. Today, the canal towpath endures as a biking/hiking pathway, about 184 miles long.

The Paw Paw Tunnel, about 10 miles from where we are camping, is a notable feature on the C & O Canal. The tunnel was a great engineering feat at the time of its construction. Six tenths of a mile long and constructed of 6 million bricks, it cut six miles off the length of the canal.

You can hike through the tunnel and take a trail back over the top, but a headlamp or flashlight are recommended because it can get pretty dark in the middle. Some people claim that the tunnel is haunted and warn that dogs sometimes get spooked about halfway through. Starbaby “ain’t afraid of no ghosts “ and did beautifully on our morning hike there.





Friday, April 30, 2021

Allegheny Mountains

 


When we’re on the road for months at a time, Mark and I find ourselves unconsciously dividing the trip into phases. I think some travelers plan a trip with a destination in mind and plot stops along the way. Our approach is more about heading  in a certain direction and exploring that area. We find ourselves zigzagging a lot, as we travel, versus plotting a course in a straight line.

The first month of this trip was primarily devoted to exploring the Carolinas. The phase we are currently in is to immerse ourselves in the Allegheny Mountains. 

The Alleghenies are part of the Appalachian Mountain Range and are found in the states of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. It comes as no surprise that some of the most picturesque places we’ve chosen to visit, in those four states, are in the Alleghenies. 

Douthat State Park, in Virginia, is one of Virginia’s original parks, formed in 1936, and is on the national register of historic places. It features some of Virginia’s most outstanding scenery and wonderful hiking/biking trails.

Swallow Falls State Park, in Maryland, is home to an ancient Hemlock forest and Maryland’s highest vertical drop waterfall. The Youghiogheny River also flows through the park. Youghiogheny is an Indian word that means “river that flows the wrong way.” It is the only river in the state that flows north to Pittsburgh. In 1918, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone and John Burroughs camped together here at the falls!

We loved our visits to these two parks and are presently in a private park, in West Virginia’s Alleghenies, called Avalon resort. It’s beautiful and mountainous here, too, without quite as much history; but there is a laundry room and swimming pool!







Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Travel Days

 


We are doing a much better job, on this trip, keeping our mileage low on travel days. We are also consciously making the effort to travel on backroads when it’s possible. We don’t like to go more than 62 mph, when pulling the camper, so there is no real advantage to taking the interstate if you don’t plan to drive fast. Lots of the country roads we find ourselves on have a speed limit of 55mph and that suits us fine. I love discovering out of the way diners and unusual art work, as we travel, like this mural, on Hwy 86, that must surely be titled, “Cock n Bull”.

We are also doing things a bit different, in regards to lunch, on a travel day. We almost always pack a lunch but since rest areas are hard to come by, on America’s backroads, we’ve discovered gas stations and local eateries often have roadside picnic tables we can use. Of course, if the weather is bad, we can pull into a parking lot anywhere and “picnic “ in the camper.







Thursday, April 22, 2021

Next Stop, Virginia

 


After leaving the coast and moving inland, we spent our last week in NC at Falls Lake Recreation Area. Falls Lake is a large reservoir located between Raleigh and Durham. Holly Point campground is one of those rare campgrounds where there’s really not a bad campsite in the entire park. Every site in our loop is large, private and treed.

The park also offers access to a section of NC’s long trail, Mountains-to-Sea; a 1,200 mile trail that traverses the state from the Appalachian mountains to the Atlantic Ocean. 

This has been a great place to hike, bike and play disc golf; not to mention the ease of resupply in the college town of Wake Forest, just 10 miles away.

Speaking of resupply; one thing we’ve realized, traveling around the country is that the grocery stores we shop at from home, operate under different names in different states. Kroger goes by the name of Fry’s, Harris Teeter, City Market, Smith’s and Ralph’s. They’re all owned and operated under the Kroger Co. banner. Giant and Food Lion are under the same parent company too as are Safeway and Albertsons. I think it’s funny we carry around 10 or 12 different rewards cards and are really only shopping at three different stores!





Saturday, April 17, 2021

Last Day on the Coast

 


Why did Southern Living magazine pick Beaufort, NC as the states “best” small town? Maybe it’s the century-old cottages on the oak shaded streets. Or perhaps it’s the low key atmosphere of this former fishing village. 

We discovered the town of Beaufort (pronounced bow furt) because I wanted to see the Shackleford wild horses on the barrier island of Shackleford Banks. (The horses are presumed to have lived on the island for over 400 years. DNA samples have concluded the herd descended from Spanish mustangs.) The only way to get to the island is by taking a ferry, run by the National Park service, that departs from picturesque Beaufort.

We booked tickets on the first ferry of the day and were thrilled Starbaby was allowed to go too. We packed a picnic lunch and with a handful of others, made it to the uninhabited island around 9:30. We hiked from one side of the island to the other and saw two different groups of these beautiful, resilient animals.

I felt like the day couldn’t get any better so was really surprised when a pod of dolphin swam alongside the boat on our ferry ride home. What a perfect ending to our stay on the Carolina coast!