Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Top Tastes Worth RVing to Pennsylvania for ~ Part Two

Top Tastes of Pennsylvania Part Two
Here is Part Two as we continue our tasty tour of Pennsylvania and take a look at more foods that have their start or significant history in Pennsylvania. If you haven't checked to out, start with Part One. We'd love to hear about your favorites, or maybe a taste we forgot to add - or we have not had yet. Let us know in the comments section at the end of this post. If you've already read Part One, let's continue our foodie tour of Pennsylvania.


Primo Italian Hoagie
The term "hoagie" originated in the Philadelphia area. In 1953 the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin reported that Italians immigrants working at the World War I era shipyard in Philadelphia,called Hog Island, introduced the sandwich.  By putting various meats, cheeses, and lettuce between two slices of bread. this meal became known as the "Hog Island" sandwich; which shortened to "Hoggies", then finally to the sandwich we love - "hoagie".
Hoagies consist of a long crust roll, filled with cold cuts, and cheese, topped with lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, onions, oregano, salt, and pepper. Depending on preference they also include a dressing of oil, vinegar, or mayo. The individuality of the sandwich comes from the variety of meats, cheeses and condiments used. No two hoagie shops make them the same. And each hoagie is a personal foodie work of art. The favorite places to order a hoagie for the RoadAbode Crew are:
Wawa - a chain of regional convenience stores that makes a good, quick hoagie. They use touch screens during the order process so you can personalize exactly what meats, cheeses and toppings are on your sandwich.
Primo Hoagie - this sandwich shop with multiple locations uses a delicious sesame seeded roll.
Lee's Hoagie House - Another local chain that features a unique hot pepper spread.
Many people forgo the chains and prefer the personality and nuances of their neighborhood mom and pop sandwich shops.
Check this comprehensive list of hoagie shops in the Philadelphia region.

Hershey Chocolate

Hershey bar by The Hershey Company
It's true, you don't have to go to Pennsylvania to get the milk chocolate goodness of this candy maker known around the world. But something special can happen if you point your RV toward Hershey Pennsylvania and stay a few days in the town where it all began. The story of "Chocolate town, USA"  has it's beginning in the humble man that the town and company are named for. Milton Hershey's legacy needs to be experienced to truly understand what he did for this Pennsylvania region as the "King of Chocolate". Besides candy, why not try a Chocolate Martini? How about experiment in the Chocolate Lab and make some of your own chocolate masterpieces? Or, you can quite literally be immersed in chocolate at the Spa in Hershey PA. We've been asked to be a guest blogger for the near future on an RV industry blog with tips about RVing to Hershey - we'll let you know when that's posted! Till that happens, to learn more about Hershey, check into The Sweetest Place on Earth

Pepper Pot Soup

'Small Torn Campbell’s Soup Can (Pepper Pot)'', 1962, Andy Warhol,
Campbell’s Can 1962, Warhol
From its fabled roots in the American Revolution, the Pennsylvania pepper pot is not as well know but still is a long-standing tradition in the region. The main ingredient is beef tripe, which is the inner lining of the stomach chambers of a cow. Originally made by farmers frugal "waste not, want not" mentality, this beef tripe and vegetable stew is flavored with root vegetables and a lot of pepper. Often it has a tomato base to the broth. Farmers sold the pepper pots to the Revolutionary War soldiers from street carts as a way to make some extra money. Philadelphia Pepper Pot soup was served and enjoyed by President Kennedy when he attended the Army Navy Game in 1961. It's popularity soared and was made into a canned soup by the Campbell Soup Company. Andy Warhol lampooned the canned soup in his piece Small Torn Campbell’s Soup Can (Pepper Pot).


Growing up in grade school in Philadelphia, we'd hum the jingle "Nobody bakes a cake as tasty as a Tastykake" because we heard it so many times during our favorite Saturday morning cartoons. Established in 1914 by Philip J. Baur and Herbert T. Morris and originally selling its goods only in the Philadelphia metropolitan area, the company now distributes its products up and down the East Coast, south to Florida, and is expanding it's cakey goodness across the United States.
Tasty Baking Company may be a baker of mass produced goods created in a factory, but they are still delicious.  For over 100 years they have provided some unique dessert items that both kids and adults love. Butterscotch Krimpets are white cake with a thick layer of butterscotch icing. Tandykakes had the tri-force flavors of chocolate, peanut-butter and firm buttery cake. Coffecake had a crumbly topping. Jelly Krimpets and filled cupcakes had sugary fillings injected into their middles. Mini single-serving pies (Which they make over 250,000 daily) are one of my favorites. Besides these staples, Tastykake also creates seasonal goods, and family packs of donuts and other goodies.
Check out www.tastykake.com for more information.

Water Ice

"Wooder Ice" in Philadelphian parlance is a flavorful concoction of various flavored ice and sugar. It is made similarly to how ice cream is made by freezing the ingredients as they are being mixed. It's consistency is of fine ice crystals rather than the larger rough crystals of a of a slush puppie or slurpee. The consistency is also different than shaved ice or a snow cone. Traditional Water Ice has fruit flavors, with a few  places that will have root beer, chocolate, or bubble gum in their taste repertoire.
One company is the "big name" in water ice and has changed the idea of a neighborhood water ice stand forever, giving customers a whole new experience. Former Philadelphia firefighter Bob Tumolo founded Rita's Water Ice in 1984. Tumolo purchased the initial recipe from an elderly neighbor, and started experimenting and enhancing the recipe with different flavors, and real fruit.The success of the business allowed Tumolo to open another location within three years, and soon after he and his family decided to franchise the company. Rita's Water ice now includes partnerships with candy makers that allow new flavors like Swedish fish or sour patch kids. Local franchisees continue to support local non-profit organizations and charities by working with the organizations and having a special day or time frame they donate a percentage of the sales.
Click here for for information and locations of Rita's Water Ice
For one of the neighborhood places to get "wooder ice", check this comprehensive list of Philly favorites.

 Happy RVing! Be sure to check part one for more of our favorite foods of Pennsylvania. Did we miss your favorite Pennsylvania foods, flavors, or place to grab a bite? Have tips to share? The RoadAbode Crew would love to hear your best spots for good food in the State. Here are some recent RoadAbode Posts about Pennsylvania

Top Tastes Worth RVing to Pennsylvania for ~ Part One

Top Tastes of Pennsylvania Part One
Pennsylvania’s long history has allowed for the formation of many local traditions. The word Pennsylvania translates to mean "Penn's Woods". We have Quaker William Penn to thank for the naming of the state. He received what was then a proprietary colony (meaning the King had the right to divide land) way back in 1681.
The first paragraph in Penn's charter or the land states "The country itself in its soil, air, water, seasons, and produce, both natural and artificial, is not to be despised. The land contains divers ('Divers' is the Old English spelling for 'diverse' meaning many and varied places, or a lot of different places) sorts of earth, as sand, yellow and black, poor and rich; also gravel, both loamy and dusty; and in some places a fast fat earth."
I wonder if Penn's vision of this divers place, could have foretold the many immigrants from varying cultures that settled in Pennsylvania. German, Italian, English, Irish Dutch, Polish and more have contributed to the popular foods that have become the regions traditional favorites. Here is part one of the RoadAbode Crew's Top Pennsylvania Foods ~ and a little bit about some of these delicious edibles interesting backgrounds.

Soft and Hard Pretzels 

Soft Pretzels from the Philly Pretzel Factory ~ Philadelphia, PA
The first pretzels, according to lore were created in Europe as a reward for children learning Bible verses by either French, Italian, or German monks. These hand twisted doughy treats were said to resemble children praying with their hands folded over their chest. The Pennsylvania tradition of pretzels started in the late 18th century, when southern German immigrants introduced the pretzel to the region. The immigrants became known as the Pennsylvania Dutch or Amish, and in time, many handmade pretzel bakeries populated the central Pennsylvania countryside, and the pretzel's popularity spread. There are two basic types of pretzels found in Pennsylvania  - hard and soft.
The story of hard pretzels states they were accidentally invented in the late 1600s. An inattentive apprentice in a Pennsylvania bakery accidentally over-baked his pretzels, creating crunchy, seemingly inedible, knots. His job was spared when the master baker, took an angry bite out of one ~ and loved it. Pennsylvania took the lead of pretzel baking when Julius Sturgis, a baker, fed a homeless man looking for a meal and a job. Sturgis had no job to offer, but did invite the man to stay for dinner. As a thank you from the down-on-his-luck job seeker, he gave Sturgis a pretzel recipe after the meal. By 1861 the recipe had proven to be so popular that Julius changed over his bakery to just making pretzels. This was the start of the first commercial pretzel business in the United States. Today, 80% of America’s twisty treats are still produced inside the Keystone State.
Philadelphia traditional soft pretzels are distinguished  by their shape, a long figure-8, not looped with a thick center and thinner ends like their Lancastor County counterparts. They also have a softer, chewy texture. Soft pretzels can be bought lightly salted, or, on request, as “baldies" - meaning no salt. For many years pretzels were bought mostly from street-side vendors or corner newsstands. I can still remember in the 1970s as a boy buying pretzels from "Pretzel Pete", an immigrant pretzel vendor of indeterminate ethnic origin. Four for a dollar (or five if Pete like you) for a salty doughy treat after school, that would keep you and three friends going until dinnertime. Though they are still sold by street corner vendors, Philadelphia pretzels are  also sold from storefronts, convenience stores, and even specialty soft pretzel "botique" shops.
The term Pretzelphyte is the name for a lover of pretzels. If you are one, or just want more info on these tasty baked morsels, check these links:
http://www.juliussturgis.com - Legend places this as where it started in Lititz, Pennsylvania. Cool Tour!
http://www.intercoursepretzelfactory.com - The Soft Pretzel,  Lancaster Style
http://www.snydersofhanover.com/about-us/bakery-tour-info.html Tour of a mechanized Hard Pretzel Bakery
http://phillypretzelfactory.com/about/factory-facts - Can see soft pretzels hand-made in each store location


By SexyKick (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
Philadelphia Cheesesteak
 According to a 1987 exhibition catalog published by the Library Company of Philadelphia, the cheesesteak was created in the early 20th century "by combining frizzled beef, onions, and cheese in a small loaf of bread," These days these deliciously messy sandwiches include thinly sliced sautéed ribeye beef and a variety of melted cheese choices. According to legend, in 1930  Pat Olivieri, a South Philadelphia hot dog vendor, one day decided to put some beef from the butcher on his grill for his lunchtime sandwich. A passing taxicab driver noticed the alluring aroma and asked what Olivieri was making, and could he make a sandwich for the driver too. As the story goes, within a day rumor of the delicious lunch had spread, and cabbies around the city came to Olivieri demanding steak sandwiches.
Often imitated but not duplicated by the major food chains, this sandwich is unique to the mom and pop shops in the Philadelphia region. Check this link by "Visit Philly" to see a list of the best places to get a cheeseteak. The RoadAbode Crew and Jimmy Fallon of the Tonight Show are partial to #8 . Personally, I love them with hot peppers, provolone, fried onions, and mushrooms. No "Cheeze Whiz" for me, thanks.


Scrapple is made from pork. To put it delicately, parts of the pig (like head, heart, liver, and other trimmings) that would otherwise go unused. It's tradition comes from Amish farming families wanting nothing to go to waste.The meat is cooked (sometimes the whole hog head is cooked), then finely minced. The meat is returned to the pot and seasonings, typically sage, thyme, savory, black pepper, and others are added. The mush that is created is formed into loaves and allowed to cool thoroughly until set.The meat is formed in a similar way to meatloaf, then cut into slices and fried. This dish is a specialtiy to the Philadelphia and Lancaster County region, and is not found readily nationwide. Scrapple is often eaten for breakfast, sometimes as a sandwich or with eggs. Stop in a local Pennsylvania diner or breakfast restaurant, and you will find scrapple.
Plate of Scrapple

Shoo-fly pie

Most of the Lancaster area restaurants and bakeries sell this popular dessert. A treat originating from Pennsylvania Dutch households, the pie is so named because the sweet molasses which could pool as the pie was left to cool, attracted flies that must be "shooed" away.
The shoo-fly pie's origins may come from the  treacle tart (coincidentally Harry Potter's favorite dessert) with the primary difference being the use of molasses than treacle. The crust is dry topped with a sugar, flour, and butter crumble, while the bottom of the pie can be thick with molasses or just barely visible and is referred to as either "wet bottom" or a "dry bottom." pie. Check in here for where the RoadAbode Crew likes to grab a slice, or a whole pie!
By Syounan Taji (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Wet Bottom Shoo-fly Pie

Lebanon bologna

 Lebanon Bologna appears like a darker version of salami, with a unique tangy flavor. This flavorful meat's seasoning  process includes being slow cold smoked at a temperature below 120 °F (49 °C). The adding of curing salts to control microbial growth during processing was developed in the 19th century by the Pennsylvania Dutch of Lebanon County, Pennsylvania.
Seltzer's Lebanon Bologna

This Pennsylvania favorite reflects the slow-cured and smoked sausage traditions brought from northern Europe. There are several versions available like original, sweet, honey smoked, or double smoked, and quite often is served as sliced lunch meat. Lebanon bologna also is a great appetizer, cubed or thickly sliced with seasoned crackers and artisan cheeses. Check out Seltzer's Lebanon Bologna who have been doing it right for over 110 years.

What's your Favorite Taste of Pennsylvania?

While writing and researching the history of these foods, I was reminded how thankful I am to have been raised in Philadelphia, and how much I love the special tastes unique to this region of the United States.The foods in this two part article are some of my "comfort foods" - foods that remind me of home and just have a special place in my heart. I don't eat as many Cheesesteaks as I use to, but still do have a hoagie  and soft pretzels every few weeks. What foods remind you of home, or are your "go to" comfort foods? We'd love to hear! Happy RVing! Be sure to check part two for more of our favorite foods of Pennsylvania.  Is you mouth watering yet?

Friday, January 23, 2015

Pie Irons for RVing Campfire Cooking

Pie Iron Cooking
Yummy Stuff from Pie Irons
In honor of National Pie Day, I started thinking of the yummy things you can make over a campfire with a Pie Iron. If you've never heard of these wonderful camping and cooking tools, here's the scoop:
The traditional pie iron, also known as a pudgy pie iron or jaffle iron,. consists of two hinged metal plates on long handles. The plates are round, square, or rectangular and clamp together to form an enclosed compartment meant for cooking stuffed sandwiches. The plates seal the outside edges of the bread together, to completely enclose the filling. They are typically made of cast iron to cook over the coals of your campfire. If you've eaten something made on a Panini grill, or used a Panini grill yourself, your sandwich was made using a electric version of this idea.
One use for Pie Irons are to make tasty sandwiches, and we really like a good grilled cheese from one. But for the RoadAbode Crew where pie irons really shine is simple fruit pies! Just need some sliced bread, little butter, an apple or two, peanut butter and a bar of Hershey's chocolate.
Basic Instructions for an apple and peanut butter pudgy pie:
Mince an apple and mix with peanut butter
Place slice of bread, butter side down, on lower plate of the pie iron. Spoon on the apple peanut butter mixture to the center of the bread. Add a piece of chocolate
Place second slice of bread, butter side up, on top of fillings. Latch the handles; trim off excess bread if it stuck out of the pie iron
Toast over campfire, fireplace or your grill until golden brown on both sides. A delicious snack in about 5 minutes!.
You can also experiment with using the puff pastry pre-made dough, or how about some sliced pound cake instead of bread? Or Cherry pie, fresh cut strawberries, blueberries glazed with honey or other filling? Maybe add some cream cheese? They make interesting, less messy S'mores too.
Whether your family calls them Pudgie Pies, Mountain Pies, Hobo Pies, or "hey Mom, can I have another one or those?" - A pie iron is a great tool to add to your cooking arsenal aboard your RV. It's a fun way to share a tasty meal, snack, or dessert!
Below are some Rome Pie Irons on Amazon. Rome has been making Pie Irons since the 1960s. They make Pie Irons in both Cast Iron and Aluminum. we prefer the Cast Iron.

Rome's 1605 Double Pie Iron
The Double is great so you can make two at once!

Classic square for regular bread

Round to get rid of the crust

For more information on Rome Pie Irons, check out their information page 

We want you to know - If you click on the Amazon images or links in this blog post and make a purchase, the RoadAbode Crew get a small commission and you pay the same price as if you went straight to Amazon. Read our disclaimer for more info. If you can use any suggestions from our links, enjoy, and we humbly thank you in advance for your support.. Happy RVing!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

RoadAbode ~ RV RoadTripping ~ Railroad Fan in the Family? Head to Pennsylvania!

By National Park Service [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Steamtown Roundhouse in Scranton, PA
Pennsylvania has a rich heritage in railroading. Railroads extended into virtually every corner of the state and the rails became part of a way of life during the Industrial Revolution. Tons of goods, both perishable and non-perishable, were - and still are - sent by freight train. Because a station or depot was in the heart of  local communities, the comings and goings at a train station of famous and common people alike ended up as important headlines in the local newspaper.  People traveled by train to visit family and friends. A train was a way to get to a job, or get to shop the latest fashions in the "big cities". Men went off to war, trains brought them back home to loved ones. Travel by train allowed quick trips, and a freedom that many would not had in those times by alternate forms of transportation.
Even as a boy in the late 1960s, I can still remember the excitement of taking an electric powered commuter train into Center City Philadelphia. Reading Terminal station, and it's farmers market were a crazy, whirlwind of sights, smells and sounds. Oh, mom could have made us taken the bus, but - the train! That was the cool way to go. Though perhaps the arrival and departure of rail cars does not incite as much excitement as those years long ago, railroads still play an important role in moving goods and people every day in Pennsylvania. Even though we now have interstates to swiftly move us from one destination to another, there is a nostalgia, or sense of serenity seated in a train watching the world go by.
For those that really love the "clickty-clack" of the rails, or that distinct scent of greasy steam, there is nothing more fun than a ride on a coach pulled by a big ol' steam engine. There are still places to enjoy the scenery as you pass the changing landscape pulled along by these behemoths. How interesting it is to inspect the mechanisms and workings of those old engines up close! Riding a scenic railway is a great way to see the landscape, relax and enjoy the company of family or friends. Below, the RoadAbode Crew highlights a few places for the RVing rail fan in your family or group of friends. Check out these places to learn about, play with, get up on, and close to the Iron Horses of Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Railroad D16 James G. Howes [Attribution], from Wikimedia Commons
 #1123 (retired) from Strasburg Railroad in Lancaster, PA

Lancaster County Area

Strasburg Rail Road

The Strasburg is one of the few railroads in the U.S. that still utilizes steam locomotives to regularly haul revenue freight trains. Located in Lancaster County, this railroad has been operating since 1832 to present day. The change from strictly  a working freight and passenger line to offering Heritage Rails excursions started in 1958. The rail line is now quickly closing in on it's 60th anniversary as a mostly tourism driven railroad. The rail line includes the U.S.'s only operational wooden dining car which allows visitors to dine while riding through Lancaster County. In 2011, Strasburg Rail Road received a state historical marker. This honor, presented by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, recognized Strasburg Rail Road’s impact on the railroad industry and its innovations in heritage tourism. Each excursion travels through the picturesque farmland of Lancaster County. For younger railroaders, the line offers seasonal rides with Santa, the Easter Bunny, and special excursions featuring Thomas the Tank Engine and his friend Percy. For more information on the Strasburg Railroad check http://www.strasburgrailroad.com/
Tahoe Steam Engine from 1875 Railroad  Museum of Pennsylvania
Railroad Museum of PA ~ Tahoe Steam Engine from 1875

Railroad Museum of PA

Right next door (and a combined ticket is available) to Strasburg Railroad is the Railroad Museum of PA. The museum has more than 100 historic pieces of rolling stock in their collection, including passenger, freight, and maintenance pieces, in addition to their locomotives. Some locomotives can be climbed into and onto, bringing alive America's railroading history. Interactive displays allows visitors to "take the throttle" on a simulated run in a real freight locomotive, climb aboard a caboose, inspect a 62-ton locomotive from underneath, and view restoration activities on the iron horses via closed-circuit television. The museum offers plenty of other exhibits, which include several model railroad layouts, an educational center, a library with archives, and a smaller exhibit gallery on the second floor. One weekend the RoadAbode Crew visited, there was an author giving a presentation about hobos and train hoppers of the 1920s and 30s, which was the topic of his book. It was really interesting to lean the codes and language of the people from the era.
Open since 1975, the museum has grown to 18 acres of land, including 100,000 square feet indoors.
More information is available at www.rrmuseumpa.org

National Toy Train museum

For something you can play with rather than ride, this museum near Strasburg holds a collection of toy trains which dates from the early 1800s to current train sets. Trains are collected according to gauge, age, manufacturer and rarity. Five operating, interactive train layouts in G, Standard, O, S and HO Gauges. Videos on all aspects of toy trains play throughout the museum. You can find Lionel, American Flyer, MTH, Weaver, LGB, Bachmann, Marklin, and more manufacturers of toy trains on display, or operating. Many of the layouts for the trainsets are arranged so all you have to do is push a button, and they run a predetermined track and path. Each large layout represents a different period of the 20th Century. The museum als houses a research library, which has a vast collection of information on the history and characteristics of toy trains in the United States and elsewhere. 

Choo Choo Barn

The Choo choo barn was formed by one family's love for model railroading. The massive interconnected layout features many local Lancaster County buildings and landmarks. Some of the pieces incorporated into the scenery date from the original platform the family built in 1940s. Back in the beginning, the train platform was for display only for family and friends, setup in the family basement. In the 1950s they shared the growing layout with school and church groups. By the 1960s the family wanted to earn extra money for college, so in 1961 they moved everything to an unused township building and created a 600 square foot layout with six running trains. Every year since they have added to the layout, and to the building or landscaping. Whether you enjoy model railroading or just like looking, there are unique animatronics and details through the Choo Choo barn to be found.
Visit www.choochoobarn.com/ to learn more about the Choo Choo Barn.
Some of the sights at the Choo Choo Barn

National Christmas Center & Museum

Also worth a trip is the National Christmas Center & Museum, While not specifically train-centric, the museum, it does have a large part of it's display dedicated to toy trains. Toyland Train Mountain stands three tiers high and thirty feet in diameter. Besides the train room, there are also a walk thru olde time Woolworth display, and village highlighting Christmas traditions from around the world.
The National Christmas Center & Museum website is www.nationalchristmascenter.com

Camping in Lancaster County

There are some great places the RoadAbode Crew have stayed in Lancaster County Click here for our  favorite campgrounds in this area.

Lackawanna County Area


Steamtown Overview
Steamtown Overview
Housed is the site of the former Scranton yards of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad (DL&W), Steamtown is in the downtown of Scranton, and encompasses over 62 acres of land. The museum is built around a working turntable and a roundhouse and is actially reconstructed from remnants of a 1932 structure that was originally on the property. The museum tell the story about the history and technology of steam railroads in the United States and life on the railroad. A steam locomotive with cutaway sections helps visitors understand steam power. Park rangers and volunteers offer a variety of demonstrations, tours, and excursions that demonstrate how railroads functioned in the age of steam. Several working locomotives take visitors on short excursions through the Scranton yard in the spring, summer, and fall.  Longer trips are a seperate cost from Steamtown admission and are scheduled to various nearby towns, including the Lackawanna River valley and Carbondale, Tobyhanna and Moscow, Pennsylvania. On rare occasions, excursions are run to the Delaware Water Gap, East Stroudsburg, and Cresco, Pennsylvania, or on the Canadian Pacific Railway to Binghamton, New York.
Steamtown is a National Historic Site. It's website is www.nps.gov/stea/index.htm

Campground to check out nearby : Cozy Creek Family Campground For a great state park, check this link to learn about a park the RoadAbode Crew really enjoyed.

Northumberland County Area

Knoebels Amusement Park

Probably not the first place to think of railroading, Knoebel's amusement park has two great steam engines that you can ride. Though miniature compared to true iron horses, the rides are fun for old and young alike. Old Smokey a coal burning coal-fueled steam locomotive takes you around and through the grove where children's rides, the lumber mill, and blacksmith reside. Pioneer Train, run on gasoline power takes a journey through the woods and close to the the Knoebels campground. Both engines are from 1960, with passenger cars dating from 1946. Many of the attractions of the park are beautifully maintained from the early 1900s. Kids of all ages enjoy coming year after year.

To learn about the campgrounds available right on site, check our information on Knoebels campgrounds here

Bucks County

New Hope and Ivyland Railroad

New Hope Station By Smallbones (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
New Hope Station
The railroad was originally known as the New Hope Branch of the Reading Company, which leased the North Pennsylvania Railroad, of which it was a part. n 1914, a segment of the classic silent film The Perils of Pauline was filmed on the tracks now used by the New Hope and Ivyland Railroad. the railroad operates wine and cheese tasting trains dubbed the Grapevine Express. On select weekends, the railroad runs its Evening Star Dinner Train between New Hope and Buckingham Valley. Check https://www.newhoperailroad.com for more information.

Camping in Bucks County

A close Campground would be Beaver Valley

York County Area

Steam into History

By Jrosenberry1 (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
Steam into History
Steam into History is located south of York PA Opened in 2013 This non-profit's locomotive and train set are a faithful replica of the 1860's train Abraham Lincoln rode to present the Gettysburg Address and two years later carried his body in a funeral car.
Each of the runs have a narrator who is well versed in the history of the area as well as Civil War History.  Most volunteers and staff are knowledgeable on the history of trains.  The train sometimes included rides with actors or reenactors, willing to share with you their stories on the Civil War.  The emphasis is on telling the story and recreating when President Abraham Lincoln traveled by train to Gettysburg to give the famous Gettysburg address, possibly even writing or re-writing parts of his speech while on the way.  The other story told occurred just a year and a half  later, when the funeral train for President Lincoln passed through New Freedom and Hanover Junction, stopping in the city of York to take on water for the train’s boiler. www.steamintohistory.com/

Camping in York County

Codorus State Park is only twenty minutes from Steam into History. 

Venango County Area

Oil Creek and Titusville Railroad

The Oil Creek and Titusville Railroad (OC&T) is a tourist ride through the valley where oil was first discovered and refined in the United States. The OC&T is notable in that it operates the only working Railway Post Office in the United States. For income, it may carry a few freight cars at the end of the passenger cars. Excursions operate over tracks that were originally built as the main line of the Buffalo, New York and Philadelphia Railroad in the 1880s. Oil City is known as the site of the world's first oil field. Unlike the previous railroad railroads mentioned, OC&T does not have any steam stock, and it's oldest engine is from 1947. The train does pull through  some beautiful countryside, featuring special fall foliage and murder mystery excursions.
For more information, check in at www.octrr.org/

Camping in Venango County

Camping nearby: Oil Creek Family Campground

Carbon County Area

Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway

Located in the the quaint town of Jim Thorpe, this train line follows the former Lehigh Valley main line, along state park rails-to-trails, and rounding curve after curve  along the Leigh River. Pulled by modern deisel locomotives, the passenger cars are either standard coach style, or open air car that has a roof over its top, a bench that runs down the middle, and the sides of the train car are completely open.  People can get up and walk around or stand in this coach to look at the passing scenery. Unique to the Lehigh Gorge railway is the opportunity to take the train one way and ride back by bike. You can either bring your own, or rent a bike  It takes most people 3 to 4 hours to bike the returning slightly downhill 25 mile trail.
For more information on the Lehigh Gorge Senic Railway check www.lgsry.com
For the "Bike Train" check www.poconobiking.com/specialty-trips/bike-train for more info

Carbon County Camping

Camping nearby: Jim Thorpe Campground

Philadelphia County Area

Garden Trains Morris Arboretum

If in the Philadelphia area, besides riding the commuter rails of SEPTA, check out the beautiful outdoor multi level layout offered at Morris Arboretum. The display and buildings are all made of natural materials and feature Philadelphia Landmarks. The railway is going into it's 17th year in 2015. 

Visit www.business-services.upenn.edu/arboretum/gardens_railway.shtml for more information

Other PA Railroading Museums and Historic Sites

There are plenty of other ways to experience Pennsylvania rail history. Check out some of the other attractions and historic areas - linked through Wikipedia:
Allegheny Portage Railroad
Howard Tunnel
Electric City Trolley Museum
Gallitzin Tunnel
Horseshoe Curve
Mars Station, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Trolley Museum
Rockhill Trolley Museum
Western Pennsylvania Model Railroad Museum
For great reads on the History of Railroading in Pennsylvania, check out the books by Pennsylvania transportation historian Dan Cupper below.
Pennsylvaina Rail (and other) History Books by Dan Cupper

The RoadAbode Crew would love to hear about your favorite places to enjoy the history of railroading in Pennsylvania.  Did we miss any great places to visit? Share your favorite places, and tips or secrets how to best enjoy the places we mentioned above. Please post in the comments below to let others know about the great ways to enjoy railroading in PA!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Wintery Visit to RoadAbode - Relaxing & Tire Covers

Went up to RoadAbode to just checkup on her. Since our current RVing Lifestyle does not include travels in December, January, or February, we check in to our home-on-wheels during the winter, Plus RoadAbode still makes for a great Man Cave on bright wintry days. I'm sitting and posting this while listening to Pandora radio and sipping coffee. It's great having a hot spot to connect to the internet through a smartphone. While here I get to excercise the generator and just check that everything in RoadAbode is OK. RoadAbode's dash heater is enough to warm inside very well in fridge Mid-Atlantic Philadelphia. While checking out things, I did find one of the storage door locks seems stuck - that's something I'll have to address in warmer weather. At least it's locked closed with nothing in it I have to get to, Just campground mats and our folding, rolling shopping cart.
While here I did work outside and put her tire covers on. The process is pretty simple. I've made it easier by fashioning a tool out of an old coat hanger. I've probably had this same coat hanger for as long as I've had the tire covers - about eight or nine years.
Coat Hanger Tire Tool
Coat Hanger Tire Tool

 Here's a picture of RoadAbode with tire covers off. You can see the tire covers piled next to her. Each tire cover is fitted to the tire over the top, and covers mainly the front of the tire. It helps to cut down on the winter sun hitting the rubber, and with salt or snow on the tires while they sit in RoadAbode's storage home.
RoadAbode tire covers off
Tire Covers Off
To get a cover on, I pull it over the tire. There is a bungy cable that fits through grommets at the bottom of the cover. Using my fancy coat hanger cover tool, I pull the bungy behind the tire, (or between the duallys in the rear) through the grommet on the other side, and then back to the original grommet where it loops around a ball attached to the end of the bungy to stay in place. Now all these years I've always looped back to the first grommet from behind the tire.Just this year I realized I don't have to loop behind the tire twice, but can bring the bungy in front of the tire to loop back. Saves me from reaching with the tool twice for each tire. Sometimes, an old dog CAN learn new tricks!
Tire Covers on RoadAbode
Tire Covers On!

If you are not sure what tire covers are, or want them on your RV, check this RV Tire Covers on Amazon link. Remember you need to know your Tire Width/Size to get tire covers that will fit your particular RV correctly.
Though I loved visit RoadAbode today, can't wait to get out with the family on our next RoadTrip adventure! We've already been making our travel plans starting in March. Have you?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Seven Cool Games to Play with RVing Friends and Family

RoadAbode - Playing Games at a Campsite
Playing Games at a Campsite
When the RoadAbode Crew goes for week-long  journeys, or even when we go for our long weekends, part of the fun is to disconnect from the world and reconnect to each other. With our daughters now in their "twenty-something" and teen years, our regular work weeks are filled with deadlines, meetings, and well... work. We try to eat at least a meal together during work weeks, but sometimes even those can be hurried affairs as we chow down - and then rush off to an evening appointment or continuing on some project.
Thankfully when we take time in RoadAbode, the meals are more casual, we can enjoy the outdoors, or perhaps just sit camp-side and enjoy the view. While relaxing and being a little active, one thing we like to do together is a good game. Maybe it's our competitive nature, the challenge of something that does't have a deadline, or just the laughs we get as we play. When we choose to play, here are our seven favorite games to share with friends and family.

Deck of Cards

First up is the simple yet awesome deck of cards. For the money you can't beat a deck of cards to have fun with. Either by yourself playing solitaire, two players playing war, or get everyone in with a game of spit.Our girls are always bringing new card games into the fold, and it's always part of the fun to learn new games from friends we bring along.
Cards for when RVing


According to Wikipedia, In 1971 barber Merle Robbins of Ohio invented UNO to resolve an argument with his son about rules in the card game Crazy Eights. They had so much fun, they started making the revised decks of cards for friends and family. The original decks were designed and made on the family dining room table. Then Merle and his family saved $8,000 and created the first UNO decks to sell. At first he sold them out of his barber shop. In 1981, he sold the rights to UNO to International Games for $50,000 plus royalties of 10 cents per copy. Today this popular game is produced by Mattel in over 80 countries and has sold over 151 million copies worldwide.
One of the great things about UNO is it's ability to be played by all ages, the rules are pretty straightforward, and it can teach little kids numbers and colors - without them knowing it. The ability to "reverse" play can keep everyone on their toes!

UNO Cards - Great when RVing

Ladder Golf

Card games are great for beautiful nights under our canopy, or rainy days inside RoadAbode, but for the RoadAbode Crew, nothing beats Ladder Golf for a sunny spring or summer afternoon. A tossing game, Ladder Golf, (Also called Ladder Toss) is played by throwing bolas (two balls connected by a string) onto a "ladder" made of PVC. Each ladder has three rungs, and each rung is a different point value. The point is to get a bola wrapped around a rung on the ladder. First team to get to 21 - wins. Ladder golf takes some skill, but is a game that can be played by all ages. We tend to bend the rules a bit when we have younger - or unskilled - players. It's more about the fun you have together sometimes than the win!
Ladder Toss - Great Game when RVing


Teach kids spelling and lean new words? Find combos of words for weird sentences? I'm in! Rules are simple - compete by spelling English words from cards in hands of increasing size, each card worth various points. The game could be considered a mixture of Scrabble and gin rummy. There are 8 rounds played per game, beginning with a three-card hand and ending with a ten-card hand. The rest of the cards form a draw pile. The top card is turned over to start a discard pile. A players turn starts when they pick a draw card and ends when they discard. a card. A round is done when a player puts down a word (or phrase) and has no cards left. Winner is whomever has the most points at the end of all the rounds. There are variations, but those are the basic rules. games can go quite quickly, and it's fun to see what words friends and family will come up with.
Quiddler - Great Game when RVing

Apples to Apples

The last of our card games, is another great activity because it holds the interest of those learning to read or older, and because it can help younger kids learn about words that go together. Players are dealt five to seven noun or noun phrase "red apple" cards. The Judge selected for the round selects an adjective "green apple" card. Players pull what noun card they have to best fit the adjective. Each player also can plead their case of why theirs is the best word. Finally, the judge selects - and  what the judge says - goes! The winner of the game is the first player to accumulate four green cards. The game is structured so that the rules can be changed or bent to particular ages or skill levels. There are even expansion and specialty word packs available.
Apples to Apples - Great Game when RVing
Apples to Apples Party Box - The Game of Crazy Combinations (Family Edition)

Not in our top seven, - but needed a listing- A game strictly for adults with a similar theme that has become famous is Cards against Humanity. This game features irreverent, dark and politically incorrect word and phrase pairings, which in the right company could have hilarious consequences. It consists of Black "Question" cards and White "Answer" cards. I would not play this with your kids, or your parents. You've been warned.

Cards Against Humanity


Corn hole is sometimes called "hilly-billy horseshoes" I can't say that hilly-billies wouldn't play regular horseshoes and Cornhole, but Cornhole is definitely a homespun game. The mythology of  Cornhole states that a game of very similar nature was played by Native Americans in Midwest America, who filled pigs' bladders with dried beans and competitively tossed them for entertainment. I could not find information to back that up - but it's a cool story!
Players take turns throwing bags of corn at a raised platform with a hole in the far end. A bag in the hole scores 3 points, while one on the platform scores 1 point. Play continues until a team or player reaches the score of 21. Each round of play is called an "inning" A player tosses 4 bags one after the other per inning. Below is a special code from the Cornhole Store for 10% off a purchase!
Take 10% Off First Purchase w/Code: CORN10 - 300 x 250

Washer Toss

This game is also similar to horseshoes but with a twist. Washer toss, or Washer Pitch, uses ordinary  metal two inch diameter hardware washers to score points by tossing them into a four inch diameter PVC pipe centered in a"pitching box" that's 16x16 inches. There are other versions such as a three hole toss and a plain sand pitch. These can depend on what is favored locally. Plans to build the game and rules can be found at www.washergameplayers.com If you don't feel like building - check out the Washer Toss completed kit below.

Washer Toss - Great Game when RVing
GoSports Pine Wood Washer Toss Game Set

What's your game?

Those are our favorite games when spending time as a family. We'd love to hear and learn about other games. What do you play with family and friends when out RVing? Please comment below and let us hear about your favorite games, or how you play the ones mentioned above. Happy RVing - hope to see you down the road!

We want you to know - If you click on the images or links in this blog post and make a purchase, the RoadAbode Crew get a small commission, and you pay the same price as if you went straight to the online retailer. These are items we have or have played with friends while RoadTripping in RoadAbode. Read our disclaimer for more info. If you can enjoy any of our suggestions, we humbly thank you in advance for your support.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Taking a Look at One of the Best Built Class C Manufacturers

Lazy Daze Class C RV Motorhome
Lazy Daze Class C RV Motorhome
The video above by RV enthusiast and reporter Stew Oleson shows the 50th anniversary edition of the Lazy Daze Class C. This RV company is now close to it's 59th year, and not much has changed since the video was created. In fact, this is probably one of the reasons that Lazy Daze has been around for so long - they stick to the basics of sound, quality builds and do not chase after the latest fad in RV gadgets or construction. Lazy Daze RVs have yet to even feature slide-outs, one item that many RV owners have gotten use to. Slideouts offer more floor space while at your campsite, but at the cost of some integrity to the strength of sidewalls, and  increased weight. The only type of RVs Laze Daze construct are Class C. No pop-ups, trailers, 5th Wheels, truck campers, or Class A motorhomes. They stick to what they build the best. Only seven floor plans are featured, though customers can request customization to those. 

What makes Lazy Daze Different?

Factory Direct -  New Lazy Daze are only available directly from their factory. This removes additional overhead costs surrounding dealer delivery, personnel, washing and maintaining product inventory. Customers specialized needs can be worked in directly with the designers. Though only seven layouts, they can make changes to fit in customers desires for comfort or accessibility.
Aluminum Sidewalls -  Exterior walls are covered with smooth, sectional replaceable aircraft aluminum panels lightweight and non-flammable. Lazy Daze motorhomes are then painted with aircraft type two-part polyurethane enamel with a unique paint scheme. We know of no other Class C motorhome with sidewalls built this soundly.
Roof - Lazy Daze uses a one piece roof of very heavy gauge one-piece painted aluminum - not rubber or fiberglass. 
Frame - The motorhome framing for the home portion of the coach, which is located between the inside and outside walls, is backed with a lifetime warranty to the original owner. No other manufacturer offers that long of a warranty. 
Quality - I've never read anything bad in any RV forums or review of Lazy Daze motorhomes. The worst someone would say was "the styling was not for them". Every person that comments always spoke of the craftsmanship and quality of the build. The reason seems to be - as the Lazy Daze website states:
Our primary objective is to build the best possible RV, not the greatest number. To utilize quality components, not the cheapest. This, in combination with our excellent manufacturing staff, has created a Lazy Daze Motorhome with outstanding durability. Unlike the "mass producers" whose sole objective is to build their coaches faster and cheaper, here at Lazy Daze we strive to build "high end" quality coaches at an extremely competitive price.
All year round camping can be done - because insulating thermal pane windows are standard on every model, as is a combination air conditioner and heat pump. For milder climate, FanTastic vents, to bring the outside air in, also are standard.
The workmanship is apparent when going down the road as well. The handling of a Lazy Daze has less "rattle, roll or shimmy". This is partially accomplished by  a low profile design they incorporate into their builds which yields a lower center of gravity. The lower center of gravity gives more control. Their motorhomes are a little over 10 feet in height. As comparison, RoadAbode - built on the same Ford E450 Chassis - is 11 and 1/2 feet in height. They also keep a low wheelbase to length ratios  This mean less rear overhang from the rear axle, which can further adversely affect handling.
The RoadAbode Crew loves the build quality of Lazy Daze. Not having to worry about sidewall delamination and not second guessing some build quality issues we've seen on RoadAbode would be great. For our future RV however, we think we'd like to have the space a slide-out would afford us, and updated styling options. It's really a tough call. We're not going to worry about it until we are in the market to really assess. Manufactures are bough and sold, and come and go. There may be another bright star in our RVing future! Still it's nice to see and understand the history of a company, so being informed is a good way to be.
Lazy Daze factory is located in Southern California approximately 30 or so miles east of Los Angeles in Montclair, California.
For more information on Lazy Daze Class C Motorhomes:
Lazy Daze Website - Where to get configuration, options and pricing information.
Perspective of an Owner - a Website by Andy Baird, who has owned two different Lazy Daze motorhomes.
Find a Used Lazy Daze - A link to Ebay Motors

We'd love to hear from anyone who has a Lazy Daze, or ask questions or comments about them below.