The Start of 2018 Summer Travels – Dillsburg, Pennsylvania (PA)

Our drive on Route 15 from Fredericksburg to Dillsburg. We drove 151 miles and took 3 hours 22 minutes. Compliments of Google Maps Timeline.

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.

We were on the end of the road at Site 23. Very basic campground but full hook up and Passport America rate!

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!

Photo taken with my iPhone 8. Best way for Bill to clear his head after driving our motor home! We love to start out easy, then we like to climb up! We are never really sure what we are getting into….

Photo taken with Coolpix P90. Such a variance in our photos. It didn’t take long to see why the hike is called White Rocks!

Bill followed the blue blazes. The trail wasn’t really clear because of all the rocks, but the blazes were usually easy to spot.

Ok, the trail is getting interesting!

We actually heard two young ladies on the tops of these rocks, so we knew we had to go up!!! And thankfully, there was an arrow telling us exactly where to climb up!

We’re on top of the mountain – OK, at least a pile of rocks. It was a 500′ elevation in a mile and 1/2 for those who also hike. And a bit windy!

Our view! Ok, it wasn’t epic but we were pretty happy with it. We are learning the Spring views are a bit hindered by the trees. But then we love the trees!

What goes up must go down!!!! Sometimes I question our sanity but as long as we can do it, we are going to do it! And the longer we do it, the longer we can do it!

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.

A snippet of the map. See the body of water, Long Pine Run, in the middle? You’ll see Abigail Trail off of it, so we thought.

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….

We started here, in a parking lot. It was on a beautiful lake.

Long Pine Run – a lake!

We had a hard time finding a trail but this looked like it. We really like it when they have blazes! We actually went down a pretty steep hill from here.

This was a nice surprise. We didn’t expect a waterfall – which is something we always hope to find!

So long story short, we hiked for nearly 2.7 miles looking for the trailhead! The green dot was where we parked. The black mark was a dead end for us – not sure why it’s black. The red mark was the a photo I took on the app.

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!

We are now above the lake near the trail head. What a beautiful day and view!

Finally, the Abigail Trailhead! And it has red blazes. Should make it easy, right?

The trail started out well marked and easy to follow. It was a bit challenging because of the rocks. That’s now what we are finding with most of the western Pennsylvania hikes!

Sorry, my hiking strap photo bombed the pic! The thing I wanted so capture was a sign that said “Most Difficult.” Thankfully, it wasn’t!

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.

It turned out to be a challenging hike and we enjoyed it. Although we felt lost for a mile or two….

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.

It was supposed to be a rainy day so time for the indoors! Our view of the Capitol from where we parked. Beautiful!

The design, artwork and craftsmanship was just gorgeous. This is the rotunda area as you enter the Capitol. The tour started here, with us seated.

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!

There is a nice parking lot with some historical markers at the trailhead. You will also see some fishermen practicing fly fishing. It is a catch and release stream. So beautiful!

The trail then crosses a bridge and then to farm land before entering the forest. There is also an AT campground but it must be pretty well hidden as we didn’t see it.


The trail then crosses a street and then it traverses through some farmland set aside for the Appalachian Trail hikers!

Have we mentioned how much we enjoying walking and hiking in forests? We did talk to a thru-hiker right before entering here. She said the mosquitos were out in full force. We sprayed up and neither of us were bitten. We’ll start up the mountain soon – it’s just over 1,000′ so that makes it a mountain!

We made it to the Center Point Knob! We met a young couple here – they were out for a short hike and didn’t have any bug spray. We shared ours and they took a picture of the two of us. But I like this picture just as well.

Our route and elevation. We went 5.5 miles and our elevation was 715′. The mountain was 1,138′ so just hits the mountain definition. It was quite a hike up! The red dots were pictures I took along the way. They are uploaded in the All Trails app.

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:

First of all, the rolling hills of Pennsylvania are just beautiful! This is one of the better pictures with blue skies. When in Wisconsin, the term bucolic was used to describe the countryside. I think Southwestern Pennsylvania can also be described as bucolic!

This got our attention, “Cameron-Masland Mansion Center Office Education Building 4 miles ahead.” We came to hike but we never pass up touring a mansion!

The road for a winding four miles! All Bill could think about was what will we do if we meet a car – or truck? Bill isn’t really fond of narrow winding roads on mountains! Thankfully, we weren’t too high up but it was higher than he was comfortable!

Here are are at the top of what we learned is the mansion on top of South Mountain. This wasn’t what we expected for a mansion and sadly, it wasn’t open for tours on this day. Usually on Sundays during the summers and you can rent it for a wedding!

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.

The view from the back porch of the mansion.

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!

Time was running out so we picked a two mile hike that we knew we could find the trailhead! The trail descriptions weren’t the best so we went conservative as we had dinner plans with a young man and his family. We hadn’t seen him since he was about 12 years old!

The trail started out really tame – we never know what we are in for so we took the hiking poles. We only needed them to stay out of the mud!

Not the epic hike we hoped for. But it was a good workout even if it was SLOW….it was the watershed, so what did we expect?

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

13 thoughts on “The Start of 2018 Summer Travels – Dillsburg, Pennsylvania (PA)

  1. I’m enjoying your quest to tour all the state capitols. My Dad had photos of all 50 state capitols. He went way out of his way to get some of them!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Your dad sounds amazing! We’re sad we’ve missed a few as we’ve traveled. We’ve passed a lot-Tallahassee, Atlanta (we visited the original Capital), Raleigh, Columbia and Richmond! But we’ll see them sometime. Not sure how we’ll see Atlanta though as Bill hates getting close to it with our motorhome!

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      • I live in Georgia and we refuse to go to Atlanta any more! I’m ashamed to say I’ve lived in Georgia for most of my life and even lived in Atlanta in the early 70’s and I’ve never been to the capitol!

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      • Wow, with your dad’s legacy? Have you been to Milledgeville? It was Georgia’s first capital. We really enjoyed spending time there. We had a history major college student give us our tour of the old Governors Mansion. It was one of our favorite tours of all time. Sweet and quaint town. But I’m determined to get to the Capitol! We were surprisingly pleased with our experience at the airport! Better than Orlando! So maybe the Capitol will be worth a trip into town next time we’re sort of close!

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      • I’ve been to Milledgeville many times but never to take a tour. May have to make time for it one of these days.

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      • It’ll be worth it. Such a quaint town with amazing history. You’ll see a short film while you wait for your tour time.

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      • Yes, my Dad was amazing!

        Liked by 2 people

  2. It’s always fun to see what people think of PA and where they choose to visit since we are from PA. I am really surprised how expensive the HD tour is! It was free when we did it years ago. Our only visit to Dillsburg was for ice cream. It is a nice motorcycle ride on the back roads for an afternoon treat:)

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    • Bill is looking at PA with fresh vision! He couldn’t wait to leave-and did at age 20! He is loving it from a hiking perspective. The temps are just right for some intense hiking.
      Bill enjoyed the back roads on his HD way back then, too.

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