Day 3 - Pennsylvania
|Wednesday, April 7, 2021: We had a long day ahead of us, so we were digging into our oatmeal-and-Diet Coke breakfast really early, ...
|... and on the way by 6:30 AM.
|We drove through the quiet Virginia countryside, ...
|... passing charming fields full of sheep and cows.
|The sun was up by 7:00 AM, ...
|... and we were entering Shenandoah National Park 20 minutes later. The ranger station wasn't yet open, so a sign directed us to pay when we left. We had a National Parks annual pass, so we were good to go either way.
|Our first stop was at Hensley Hollow Overlook.
|The lovely view is to the northwest.
|The view at South River Overlook was toward the south. No, really.
|Here's Bald Face Mountain Overlook.
|We saw lots and lots of deer on the road in the early morning light.
|Here is The Point Overlook. We hadn't gotten a map when we entered, so we relied on the online map and wooden signs on the road alerting us to each upcoming overlook.
|The road was nearly empty and in excellent shape. Beautiful stone walls lined long sections of roads.
|For the first time ever, the deer crossing signs were accurate, ...
|... because there were deer everywhere. Hidden in the trees ...
|... and fearless on the side of the roads.
|There is a large visitor area at Big Meadows, ...
|... which is very appropriately named. Per our COVID-19 travel rules, we didn't stop.
|Here is Franklin Cliffs Overlook.
|Signs at every overlook documented the park's past and present.
|This one contained a vintage postcard of the overlook we were visiting.
|We were able to see portions of the Appalachian Trail.
|Our online map showed us how close we were to it.
|Here's The Ocho at Crescent Rock Overlook.
|At Timber Hollow Overlook, we got really close to the trail.
|Two young hikers walked up to the parking area to have a snack on the stone wall. We passed them to head down to the trail and saw where they had left their backpacks against a trailpost.
|Having stood on the actual trail and taken at least one step each, we can now say that we hiked a portion of the Appalachian Trail. (Apologies to Debbie's cousin Kathy, who spent time the past two summers actually hiking 2/3 of the trail.)
|We asked the hikers if they needed any food or water, but they said that they were fine because today was resupply day. They were hiking the entire week.
|Back on the road again, we were delighted to unexpectedly encounter Limberlost Trail, a name that is special to us.
|We read a little about the trail while we were in the empty parking lot of the trailhead, but mostly, we watched the family of deer who were having their morning breakfast nearby.
|Here is Thorofare Mountain Overlook, looking toward the northeast. We found that cell signal was either weak or nonexistant on this side of the ridge, but pretty good on the western side.
|This cute little thing is named Mary's Rock Tunnel.
|We were the only ones at the rest area at Thornton Gap. If you want to have a national park to yourself, definitely go before 9:00 AM on a Wednesday during the school year.
|Driving is so exhausting, so we fortified ourselves with the trail mix that we bought five weeks earlier at Jacob Lake Inn in Arizona.
|We spotted a wild turkey (or something that looked like it) by the side of the road, but only got a picture of it flying away.
|This overlook on the east side of the ridge gave us a view of the park looking back to the south. We could see a bit of the road we had traveled in the distance.
|Back on the west side, the cell signal was strong but it was clear that we were getting close ...
|... to the end of the park.
|But before we left, there was a little more excitement. The Ocho passed 11000 miles on the odometer, ...
|... and we stopped at Shenandoah Valley Overlook.
|We were driving out of the park three hours after we entered. What a great visit!
|After seeing standalone ice kiosks in the Southwest that also dispensed water last month, we were back in the north where only ice was dispensed.
|We got a picture of one of Virginia's historical markers. This one commemorated a battle in the Civil War.
|Here's the Shenandoah River.
|We crossed the border from Virginia to West Virginia, ...
|... then crossed into Maryland less than a half hour later.
|Here's the Potomac River.
|We picked up lunch at Roy Rogers in Hagerstown. We ordered some of the limited edition beer-battered onion rings, plus Debbie got a standard hamburger ...
|... while Tom opted for the Double R Bar Burger, which included a layer of thinly sliced ham on top.
|A half hour later, we were in Pennsylvania.
|We stopped in Chambersburg and found a place to park ...
|... so Debbie could participate in a virtual neurology appointment for Claire, ...
|... who was participating from her group home back in Indiana.
|We passed lots of paint manufacturers in this section of the country, and were amused by this giant Benjamin Moore paint can.
|We crossed the wide Susquehanna River on our way into ...
|... beautiful Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
|As we drove along the river, we saw lots of gorgeous stone buildings, ...
|... and public art displays.
|Here's another beautiful stone building.
|This horse-and-buggy crossing sign reminded us that we were near Pennsylvania Dutch country.
|Debbie fell in love with the charming buildings like this one ...
|... and this one ...
|... and this one, but Tom won't let her move here.
|Here's a Pennsylvania historical marker.
|We were here specifically to see Pennsylvania's state capitol and it was absolutely stunning.
|Look at the amazing detail and color of that cool green dome.
|We passed a duck statue which we later learned was part of Discover the Ducks in 2017. We had more to see so we didn't drop everything and try to hunt down more duck statues. Maybe that was a mistake. We'll never know.
|Meanwhile, we were back along the beautiful riverfront, passing an interesting bridge ...
|... and another ...
|... and another ...
|... and another.
|Soon, we were out of Harrisburg and in Hershey, where they have ...
|... an open Fuddruckers?? If only we had time and stomach space! This was obviously very poor planning on our part, but we made a note to get back out east soon to eat at one.
|So, yeah, back to Hershey, home of Hershey's and all things good.
|Debbie's very favorite chocolate is Hershey's so we returned to Hershey's Chocolate World for the first time since 2004. We needed to have a free timed ticket to get in so we had gotten one online an hour earlier.
|There were way too many people for our taste, but we kept reminding ourselves that we had gotten our second shot six days earlier, so we were very nearly 100% vaccinated and it was okay that people were just walking around eating candy bars without masks on.
|There was chocolate everywhere, and it's hard to resist the World's Largest Kit Kat ...
|... or the World's Largest Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bar ...
|... or the World's Largest Hershey's Kiss, but we managed.
|The Twizzlers display broke Tom's resolve but who can blame him?
|We left there with a Hershey's puzzle, some fruit-filled sweet and sour Twizzlers, Almond Joys, Hershey's Kisses in a Chocolate World-branded bag, and two new Whozeewhatzit bars to try.
|Our last stop of the day was at Fort Indiantown Gap, ...
|... where Pennsylvania's Merci Train boxcar is located.
|There's a plaque underneath it.
|Here's the back. Both sides were missing their shields, but there were mounts for them, so our guess is that they had been removed to be restored or replaced.
|This boxcar had a unique little thing on the side that we hadn't seen on any others except one in Kansas.
|Across the road to the east is the Pennsylvania Air National Guard. Debbie wondered if taking a picture of these missiles counted as an air and space museum.
|To the west is Muir Army Airfield. A row of tanks ...
|... and a row of mounted helicoptors stood in front.
|Down the road a bit was a Fairchild C-123 Provider, similar to the one we had seen in Nevada the previous month.
|Maersk! Maersk! Tom got the first win (on the right) and Debbie got the second win by noticing that the container behind it was also Maersk.
|We arrived at the Jonestown/Hershey KOA Journey where we were escorted to our amazing campsite ...
|... right on the bank of Swatara Creek, where we enjoyed afternoon cocktails in the perfect weather.
|Here's the view upstream ...
|... and downstream.
|Tom caught Debbie in a very unflattering pose but it's not like she hasn't done the same to him.
|We enjoyed the sound of nature all around us, especially this adorable downy woodpecker.
|Before you get too impressed with our bird identification skills, we have to confess that the Internet helped Tom figure it out.
|Here's another shot. Isn't he cute?
|There was a huge tree to our left covered in burls, ...
|... and another tree to our right covered in tiny fungi.
|Here's a closer look.
|We ordered some delicious food from the KOA, and have sworn to do this at all KOAs that offer the service. Tom got the pulled pork sandwich with fries and coleslaw, and Debbie got the broaster chicken dinner with corn and applesauce. Campsite delivery is the best!
|Meanwhile, our little woodpecker friend (or a close imposter) had moved across the creek from us to peck on the trees over there.
|Even when we moved inside, we didn't tire of the creek view from our rig. We were looking forward to a nice refreshing shower but discovered that our propane didn't work. After rebooting the coach, we eventually found out two days later that it was magically working again, so there was another RV owner lesson learned.
|Tom drained the grey water tank and took a picture of it so Debbie could see the lovely blue color it contained. It's basically a mix of soapy water, toothpaste, and the tablet we use to treat it, so it's not very offensive.
|Tom was so happy to try his new sweet and sour Twizzlers. He liked them but the filling was weird.
|Debbie tried one of the Whozeewhatzit bars. It was good but not something to seek out in the future.
|We finished the week's Gene Kelly-Frank Sinatra film festival with "On The Town."
Copyright © Deborah Schilling/Thomas Bundy