We will be flying to attend a wedding in Sacramento on 7/8/18. This has dictated our summer plans – we don’t want to be too far from our home base, Fredericksburg for multiple reasons. More on that later.
Our summer travels will be to see as much of Pennsylvania as we can in 52 days! Although Bill is from Pennsylvania, he has never appreciated the state like we now do after traveling to North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky, Illinois, and Wisconsin. Bill’s goal is to see enough of a state to really grasp it’s essence. We’ve had grand plans, but a month has passed as I write this and we haven’t begun to see the state as we originally hoped. Mainly, because we are traveling “slo-mo” to really enjoy each stop.
Our first stop was to Dillsburg, Pennsylvania, for seven days, which started on 5/10. We found a Passport America RV campground, Walmar Acres Campground. It is a basic RV campground with full hook ups (our favorite) in the back of a manufactured homes park. The price was right and it was centrally located to several places we wanted to see. Sadly, we ran out of time and didn’t see as much as we had hoped. All the more reason to go back and we probably will.
One of the main things we wanted to do was to take the Harley Davidson (HD) Factory tour in York. We really enjoyed the Toyota Plant tour in Georgetown, Kentucky and really liked the price: FREE. The HD factory cost $38. Sorry, for the two of us, it just didn’t seem worth it. Maybe if we rode our Harley there, we would have paid the price. But since Bill sold his, he’s lost a bit of interest in the brand. Oh well….
Our focus this summer is also to do as much hiking as we can. We really enjoy climbing mountains and walking through forests. So our first hike on White Rocks Trail after we arrived on May 10, a trail pretty close to our campground and it was perfect! This one was a trail to the Appalachian Trail (AT). AT trails are always a winner for us as we travel around the east coast. We hiked up to a sign that said Boiling Springs was 3 miles away. And an arrow pointing to Center Point Knob. That sounded interesting but we decided to call it a day. Here are a few pictures of our challenging three mile hike on our travel day – it’s always a bonus to get in a great hike on a travel day!
To see the rest of the pictures, click here for our album on our public FaceBook page. We are posting almost daily of our Pennsylvania adventures. If you have a FaceBook account, be sure and like our page so you will get the notifications!
On our day two, we decided to go explore Caledonia State Park. This was our first learning curve. It seems the actual “state parks” are relatively small and are usually nestled in or close to a State Forest – where the actual hikes are located. We meet with a Park Ranger and he gave us a map and suggested a few hikes at Michaux State Forest, a relatively short drive.
While it wasn’t as rewarding, it was a beautiful day and we were outside! The map wasn’t the easiest to figure out, but we could see Abigail Trail. So off we went to find the trail head….
Well, that was a bit frustrating. But now we could look at the map with a different view. We ended up stumbling on the trail head, but it was a real challenge to find it!
I really didn’t get many other photos. But it was a beautiful forest! Let’s say we were getting a bit tired as we had hiked nearly three miles trying to find the trail and then another mile once we got really close. We have a bit of hiking fatigue. We actually felt like we were going in circles, up and down, so wondered if we would every find our way back to our car! We did.
The next day, we decided to go sightseeing. One thing we now are trying to do is tour any state Capitol (the building) we can. We’ve now enjoyed Madison, Wisconsin; Montgomery, Alabama; Frankfort, Kentucky; and now we can add Harrisburg, Pennsylvania state Capitols. We really enjoyed this tour, as we did the others. Each one has it’s own “flavor” and this one is now by far my favorite! Afterwards, we enjoyed a few hours in the State Museum of Pennsylvania.
The tour guide described the Capitol as a “priceless” architectural and artistic treasure! It’s further described as “a majestic symbol of history and power and an icon of democracy and freedom.” It is currently the only Capitol we have been in where all the branches of government actually continue to meet in the building. Wow, what a place to come to work!
I don’t want to regurgitate the booklet we were given, but what it doesn’t say and the tour guide did say was how much William Penn and his faith influenced the essence of the building as well as the entire state, named after him! He founded the state in 1682. He was “a well-connected Englishman who made it his mission to create a refuge in America for Quakers and other persecuted religious groups from Europe. He was prone to celebrating his colony as a free gift from God.” His faith was found in many small ways as we toured the Capitol. But it starts with his statement tiled and around the Rotunda: “My God will Make it the Seed of a Nation. That an Example May be set up to the Nations. That We May do the Thing that is Truly Wise and Just.” We highly recommend everyone take this tour! But if you can’t get there, you can check it out on-line here.
After the tour, we went next door to the Pennsylvania Museum of History. We love museums and can spend all day in them….but we tried to limit our time since we had a bit of a drive home. Bill’s favorite exhibit was about the history of the Pennsylvania of the Turnpike. It was a Herculean feat to build the 160 mile highway in two years! Click here to see one reason why he liked it so much, noting he is from Irwin.
It’s now May 13, 2018 and Mother’s Day. We are not real “celebrators” over “manmade” holidays. It is always good to be with family but then it’s not always possible. We’ve spent more holidays with family over our 43 years together than not. So while traveling, we do a lot of reflecting. And Sundays are always good for that. We attended Cedar Hill Baptist Church which wasn’t too far of a drive, about 15 minutes – in the rain. And did it ever rain! For some reason, I always think of those women who never had a child and my heart aches for them.
I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a mother or not. I was really getting into my career. My mom never worked and I saw the blessings and downside to her life. Fortunately, I had an opportunity to talk with my aunt, mom’s sister, who never had children. She urged me to have one if I was able – best advice I was ever given and even better was that I followed that advice! I don’t know why she never had a child but I know she regretted it and tried to make up for it. So this Pastor gave great thought to his sermon and how he honored mothers on this day. He focused us on the fact each of us had or have a mother! Bill and I are thankful we both still have our mom’s. His is now 97 and mine is now 94. His mom is physically doing pretty good – but mentally, she is not all there. My mom physically has many challenges – main one is her loss of her vision, macular degeneration. But maybe that is why her brain is still so sharp! We talk frequently – maybe 3 or 4 times a week. But I only see her once a year. That will soon change! She is also flying out to the wedding and on the way back, she will fly with us to relocate back to Virginia. So I will see her more often!
The final thought to share about this day was the fact the church was supporting a special ministry this day through Father’s Day. They decided to give babies a head start in life by supporting the Capital Hill Pregnancy Center with extra gifts each Sunday for their work! It was a blessing to share with this ministry.
Our next day, we decided to stay close to the campground as a storm was brewing. We went back to Boiling Springs and decided to just hike on the Appalachian Trail – little did we know the significance of hiking to the Center Point Knob! We actually had a fantasy when I first retired to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail, a well marked hiking trail in the Eastern United States extending between Springer Mountain in Georgia and Mount Katahdin in Maine. The trail is estimated around 2,200 miles (3,500 km) long. And here we are, hiking to the actual center point, identified as Center Point Knob. We talked to a few through-hikers. It always energizes us to talk with them and encourage them to do it while they can. And then they encourage us and tell us we could do it!!! But we know we couldn’t sleep on the ground for a few months. Although Bill grew up sleeping outside, on the ground as a youth. I tent camped as a youth and even while in college and loved it. But now we just “Rough it Smoothly” in our Tiffin!
While we have had some great hikes so far, we are really wanting that “epic” hiking experience. Will we find it this week? We’re learning how to hike in Pennsylvania and are in a learning curve. The next day, we returned to Michaux Forest. We really needed a better map and/or a Ranger to help us out. Somehow, we decided to drive to the Kings Gap Environmental Education Center. We weren’t sure what we would learn or see. We never found anyone to talk to about finding that perfect hike we wanted but we did get a good hiking map. And we were able to see a scenic vista and admire the outside of a mansion. It’s now offices and only open to the public for special events. There wasn’t even any literature about it so we didn’t really learn much! Here are a few pictures to memorialize our rather uneventful journey:
There wasn’t any information about the mansion, so I had to look it up on-line from Friends of Kings Gap website:
James McCormick Cameron erected the stone mansion as a summer home around 1908. The mansion is approximately 200 feet long and is built of native Antietam quartzite quarried from a nearby ridge.
The 32-room house was designed to resemble an Italian villa with its flat roof, huge windows and flagstone terrace. The use of steel-reinforced concrete for the internal structure of the building is believed to be one of the first such applications in local construction. The materials used in the construction were intended to make the mansion as fireproof as possible. Nevertheless, Mr. Cameron only lived at Kings Gap from May through October, when fire danger is at its lowest.
An educational sign noted the view: “You are standing 650 feet above the valley floor on the South Mountain. This mountain was formed approximately 600 million years ago, marks the terminus of the famous Blue Ridge Mountains. To the north lies a much younger Blue Mountain….Blue Mountain is part of the Appalachian Mountains.” South Mountain elevation is 1280′. We chuckle at the ages they think all these mountains are….but that’s another blog series!
That ends our first week in Pennsylvania and we’ve had a blast, even though we never found the epic hike we hoped for. But so far, we have really enjoyed learning about hiking in Pennsylvania and we still have lots of interesting places to see. In the meantime, we’ve learned a bit more about the state.
No wonder we are enjoying Pennsylvania as we look at the forests:
Pennsylvania is the only state in the nation named for its forests. “Pennsylvania” translates from Latin to “Penn’s Woods.”
Forests blanket more than 60 percent (17 million acres) of the commonwealth, from the deep forests of the northern tier “big woods,” to the forested ridges of the south, and to the woodlots and urban and community forests scattered in between.
These forests provide incalculable values and benefits to Pennsylvania citizens and beyond. They filter and protect drinking water and thousands of miles of streams. They provide critical habitat for plants and animals.
They sequester carbon and clean our air. They provide places for us to marvel in the scenic beauty of landscape and a wide range of recreational opportunities. From Department of Conservation and Natural Resources website.
Upcoming travels include Shawnee State Park, Flight 93 Memorial, Blue Knob State Park, Linn Run State Park, Ohiopyle State Park, Cook Forest State Park – oh my, hope we can catch up! We are in awe of the beauty of God’s creation and are having a hard time keeping up with this blog….
Be glad, fields, and everything in you! The trees in the woods will shout for joy Psalm 96:12