Sunday, May 17, 2009

Great Guys Weekend

Had a great time with Frank and Kev in Lancaster. Stayed at Country Acres, in Gordonville. 
Left work early, picked up Frank, then Kev, and then to storage to pickup RoadAbode. Hitched up RoadToad - then headed to the turnpike. Scooted over route 100 to Route 30, and followed that to the campground. Ride up was easy, traffic relatively light,  and setup easy, didn't even to need to level. Setup the basics, and then headed to Paridiso, as usual for a Friday night. Pizza was good as always. Enjoyed a nice fire and conversation, then readied for the next day. For a change - Kev tried the bunk. Think this may be his new spot from now on. 
on Sat, got up, put the jackknife sofa back in place and made coffee.  we all hit the showers, and then headed out to the Bird-in-Hand buffet - but just had entrees. filling breakfast, and then went over to the farmers market located right next door. Only picked up some moon pies, but need to take the girls here sometime. Then just to check it out, we went to the Rhubarb Festival at Kitchen Kettle Village. Was fun to watch the band, kids making and racing "rhubarb derby" cars, and just check out the different wares available.
We headed out toward the PA Railroad museum, but made a stop at a unfinished and outdoor furniture store - somewhere Kev wants to check out on another trip. We continued on but missed a turn for the museum - not a bad thing as we got to ride thru and see some farmland. Made a few turns, and ended up behind the musem on a gravel road.
Once at the RailRoad Museum, we got to see the variety of equipment, learn about some history - talk to volunteer staff, and meet an auto of a book on teens that rode the rails in the 30's and 40's. He also presented a very well done documentary on the subject, done by his son and daughter-in-law (it's on PBS as part of the "American Experience" series) I picked up a copy - which he signed - for Granny, who use to do a little boxcar jumpin' in her day.
After the museum, we headed back to RoadAbode - check out some of our purchases, and then headed out first for a stop at the Mount Hope winery stand, and then for dinner at Stolzfus Farm Restaurant. One of my favorite Lancaster area eateries, we enjoyed farm made sausage, ham loaf, pepper hash, sweet and sour, and tons of other things. A real Lancaster style meal. Our bellies full, we headed back to the campground, picked up some firewood, and sat around the fire, enjoying some fruity after dinner wine and the warmth of the fire. Definitely a bit of chill to the air. Clouds started moving in, and I started to get some thunderstorm warnings from the web on my cell.  We packed up and headed in just as the raindrops started to fall. Got out snack, and started to watch some of the "Bourne" series, and read a bit.
Sunday, we made breakfast - egg, sausage and cheese on bagel or bread, and a freshly made fruit salad of bananas, strawberries, and grapes. We took ride to the city of Lancaster, past the prison (didn't know there was one) and into the center historical district. Had to pull over when I got a call from work for a few minutes. Partially resolved, I then turned back toward our camp. 
We packed up and got moving back on the road homeward bound by about 1pm. 
One odd thing - lost a fresh water hose - it formed a bubble and had a pinhole. Caught it before it did any damage - but do need to pick up a replacement.
Another great weekend out.
A few pictures below from the PA Train Museum:

A Train Crane

Front of a train

Panaramic shot

Bird eggs hidden on one of the trains - but we found them!

Out front the winery

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Enveloped in Creation

Today we got up a bit late, Molly did a bit of whimpering around 3am. So much for tiring her out. We roused and had egg, cheese, and english muffin sandwiches again, then we headed out by 9:30am to locate the "Shades of Death" trail, which begins near the Park Office, is only one and a half miles long, and is listed as "difficult". 
The Trail Winds along the Sand Spring Run, which courses it's way under a hemlock, white pine, and rhododendron forest. Add in amazing geological formations justting up, or smoothed by the running water, and you encounter God's creative beauty at each turn. There are both natural and man-made waterfalls, and the trail was well maintained, with steps at times cut into the rock.  At one point, we encountered small Cairns on a large flat rocky area, and we added our own.(forgot to take a picture!) I also showed the girls how native americals did "stone flaking" to make arrowheads and other cutting tools. We could have stayed here a good bit playing - but we moved on. Dry rock outcroppings, ponds, bog like - we encountered many diffrent microcosims in our short trek. At the trails end, we entered a meadow - edged with wild strawberry and violet flowers. We crossed the meadow - and found we were by the CCC dam that Amy and I had hiked to the prior afternoon. Am and I decided it best i hike back (using the road - a bit quicker) and pickup the car - and then meet she and the girls and they hiked onward toward RoadAbode. The hike, even though it was on Rt. 534 - was quite wonderfully solitary, and I did enjoy some views and interesting flora on my trek back. I got back to RoadToad, and by the time I drove to the campground, i ended up picking them up at the camp store. Everyone said the hike was the favorite part of our trip to Hickory Run. 
After our hike, we slowly started to ready RoadAbode for the ride home, packing up, and checking to be sure she was ready for the road.
The girls and I took one short trip out - to the Stoney Point Firetower. Unlike when I was a boy, the firetower wan not only closed, but surrounded by 10 foot high chain link fence, topped by barbed wire. The Ranger house was also boarded up tight, and the girls were taking bets if they would see a bear on our last foray into the woods before we left. No bear, but plenty of low-bush blueberry bushes in bloom, and razzberry blooms as well. Looking back - the last time we were at the park was 2006 - and in May as well. A beautiful area, and a great weekend. 
Some pictures from today:
The Trailhead:

Along the Trail

Stone stepscut/placed in a crevase - which led up to where we found the Cairns.

Part of the run, water smoothing the huge slabs.

The Firetower - Access Denied!

The firetower itself - high in the clouded sky.

Hickory Run - Shades of Death Trail

On the Shades of Death Trail

Saturday, May 09, 2009

A Full Day at Hickory Run Today.

A restless night for me after an evening of grumbling from Molly the pup, which awoke me at various times throughout the night. That and being overdressed for bed made for a sleepless night. Woke with Am around 6:15a or so, and took a walk around the circle of campsites we are in. Most of the sites here are empty. Only the sites with electric have campers in them, and those designated as “Pet” sites seemingly are sold out. Our circle is away from the central part of the campground, but backs up to the major Route through here – Rt 534. Other issue is this part only has pit toilets, not the modern flush and shower house combo the rest of the park has. Still, it’s quiet back here, with only a line of several neighbors, in anything from pup tents, fifth-wheel, to Diesel Class A with Slideouts.
While on our walk, Am and I picked up some water for morning coffee and tea. (Being a state park, the only hookup we have is electricity) We’re saving the water in the tank for flushing and dishes.
Am made a great breakfast of Egg and cheese sandwiches on toasted English muffins, along with some really delicious strawberries as well.
We headed out at about 9am for Boulder Field. A Periglacial field created at the edge of a glacier millions of years ago, was quite amazing to the girls. The road gravel road there was quite improved and widened since I remember being there some 15-20 years ago. While the girls enjoyed hopping across the rocks, I took Molly on an explore of the road and a bit into the woods. I’ve heard that pigs are used to find truffles, and if my walk with Molly is any indication, Molly has a talent for finding the “leavings” of other animals. Yep, no matter if its deer, rabbit, bear, or other unknown scat – if it’s poop – she’ll find it. She seems to think it’s quite tasty too. I constantly had to make sure her nose wasn’t “leading” her to trouble.
After Boulder Field, we headed to Sandy Spring Lake. The beach is much improved, and looks like they just are putting the finishing touches on new concessions, showers, and restrooms. All along the newly paved paths one could find white and lavender violets as well.
At exiting Boulder Field, we turned right on Rt. 534 and headed toward a scenic overlook listed on the map. We seemed to miss it, and ended up doubling back. We decided to see if we could find something interesting at Leigh Gorge, but the entrance we wanted was further down the highway than expected. We headed back to Road Abode.
Molly seemed to enjoy the freedom of walking on trails, not confined to “heel” all the time – as on the sidewalks at home – and took in all the smells of the woods. She seems to need more “socialization time” with other dogs, and the few encounters we had in the park went well.
Back at RoadAbode, We all had snacks, and did a bit of reading.
I’ve started with the Book “River Horse”, by William Least Heat-Moon. I’ve finished reading “Blue
Highways”, enjoying his perspective traveling around the United States in a Van – equipped with basic needs – using mostly the back roads, visiting lost towns, and meeting interesting people. In “River Horse”, he does a similar trek, only using waterways to zigzag his way across the U.S. from the Atlantic to the Pacific, chronicling the adventure along the way.
After reading a bit, Amy and I decided to get showers to ready ourselves for a dinner out. While the girls watched a DVD, we hopped in to RoadToad and drove over to the “more civilized” part of the campground. Being smart (so we thought) we picked a shower house in a part of the campground that was less populated, so that we could have uninterrupted and more private showers. Though that was the case, we found it also had disadvantages. Since no one was using this shower house, the water in the pipes was cold – very cold. It took quite a while for the water to warm up. Not one to waste either water or time, I started to wash my hair, hoping the temp would “catch up”. Just as it seemed to get closer to a regular shower temp, I wet myself down and started to soap up. But when it was time to rinse – I was back to ice water! Perplexed, but with determination I waited a bit – now wet and getting cold. I just finished up – rinsed quickly and dressed – and was glad to exit the building into the warm sun. Am was not without her perils in the shower either. Though she was able to get hot water (probably all mine) she found she was sharing her stall with a large water bug. Afraid of not seeing where it ran to – she showered with glasses on to keep an eye on him. The perils of Camp showers! =p
After showers, we came, read some more, and then were visited by our neighbor. He was putting some things into his Storage bays and came to say hello to Molly. The lucky gent is semi-retired – and was camping only about 30 minutes or so from his business. He stays out camping and traveling two weeks at a time – sometimes more. Was nice to chat and find info on PA campgrounds (including COE Parks) from a fellow RVer.
After our chat we got ready and headed out to dinner, at the intersection of 476, 80, and 940. Am has Tilapia, I salmon and the girls burger and chicken. We finished up with a dessert of Rootbeer floats. Really an enjoyable meal!
Back to RoadAbode, and Am and I went out with Molly for a walk. The intent purpose was to settle dinner, and tire out Molly so we had a more restful night. We walked down to the fishing pier at the C.C.C Dam, at the bottom most point of the campground. The walk took a little over an hour. (As I write this – seems it worked – both Am and Molly are sound asleep) we keep Molly hydrated and rested along the way, and where safe, gave her a long lead. She seemed to be quite a happy pup.
More Movies, reading and snacking completed the evening. I enjoyed reading outside, until it became dusk. The winds have picked up and are rocking RoadAbode a bit this evening and the rushing wind thru the trees is quite noisy. Pictures from today :
Girls at Boulder Feild and the Plaque listing it as a National Landmark.

Todays Adventure

Girls @ Boulder field

Friday, May 08, 2009

Arrival at Hickory Run SP

Nite arrival at Hickory Run State Park. Ride was uneventful, but forgot how curvy rt. 534 is.