Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Guys Trip 2016

One weekend a year three of us get together to camp for a weekend. We try to pick a place that has a good hiking spot, perhaps a winery, or some interesting places to see. Good food is always high on the list too. This year, we had a fourth join the crew. The "littlest man" was one buddy's son. To make it interesting for him, I made reservations at Lake Glory in Catawissa, PA. Lake Glory is owned by Knoebels Amusement park, and is only a mile or so away from all the rides, games and great food Knoebels has to offer.
I've been coming to Knoebels with the family for years. My family loves this free entrance amusement park. Centralia, the town that's burning from underground is close by, and we found a new attraction to check out.

The ride up was pretty laid back. Not much traffic or issues. Our trip up went so well even Ed was able to catch a nap while our young guest watched movies on my Chromebook once we reached "cruising altitude" on the PA Turnpike.
Nap time on the roadWatching a movie on the road

When we arrived at Lake Glory shortly after check-in time, there was actually a lineup of trailers and popups checking in. We waited our turn, and within another 15 to 20 minutes were at our campsite. We were in a corner spot - across the road from a small pond (no fishing in this smaller body of water) and across from the showers. A playground was in full view from our picnic table and I barely had pulled into the spacious site when I heard "Can we go to Knoebels?" And that was from the adults! Actually, hitting Knoebels for dinner was the plan, and I WAS getting ready for a good pizza. So I quickly leveled, hooked up water and electric, and jumped in the toad to zoom over to the park. Since we were arriving late in the afternoon, we were able to score a reasonably close parking spot to the entrance. We headed right for Cesari's Pizza. There are other places to get a pizza in Knoebels, but Cesari's has more options, more seating, and I think better pizza. Once the guys saw the options, my hopes for a large plain went out the window. They opted to get a large "Taco Pizza". I was just along for the gastronomic ride. We got our drinks (all local "white" birch beer) and our number, and found a shaded picnic table to sit upon. And waited. And waited. And Waited. This was the longest I had ever waited at Cesari's, and in my mind blamed it on the topping heavy taco pizza. And these guys were hungry enough to chase down staff asking where the pizza was. It wasn't just us - there were others that were waiting for food to come out. Don't know what happened back in the kitchen, but we were sure happy when the pizza finally arrived. The pizza was good - and hot, but because of the level of piled on toppings - hard to eat. And there was so much of it. I could only eat a piece and half, and collectively we couldn't est the full pie. I felt a little guilty of not doing "my part" to finish it off. Just was too full!
We walked the park a bit. We wanted to give Ed the lay of the land, since he had never visited Knoebels before. Where the kiddie rides were (like for his daughter) the eateies, the museums, and then over to the Twister. The mammoth wooden roller coaster is a favorite of those who seek that sort of thrill. For Ed and I was a good time to catch up waiting for Kev and his thrill-seeking son to do the ride. Had some fun people watching too!
Thrill-seeking Father and Son after riding the Twister
After wandering a bit more and a few rides, we headed back shortly before 8pm to set up camp. We just popped out some chairs and erected the shade room. a few interconnected foam pads for a patio and we were all set. After our first day out, we decided to just get our bed areas in order and watch some television. We didn't pick up any over-the-air channels, and there is no cable setup at Lake Glory. Fortunately I had put a few movies on a larger thumb drive. I was able to connect the Chromebook to our TV's HDMI port and watched a few recent movies (and cartoons) through it before heading to bed. I even was able to activate my phone's hotspot to view a few You Tube videos about the movie. Only did a few - not wanting to eat up all my data.

Saturday got a quick shower and then headed over to Knoebels early to grab breakfast. On the way out of the campground, we saw a horse trailer stopped near the campground office. Inside was what looked like a reindeer, but ended up being a Red Deer. The owner was there advertizing his Deer Farm not far from Lake Glory. We stopped and learned about the farm and got to feed the deer. The multi point rack still had velvet on. Pretty cool being close to such a large animal. At Rolling Hills Red Deer Farm, not only can you feed the animals, but buy meats and participate in hunts on their property.
We continued on to Knoebels and headed into the empty amusement park. Breakfast is served at one of the food pavilions for guests camping at either Lake Glory or the campground attached to the park. We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, then headed back to the campground to relax.
Playing on the old coal train at Knoebels after breakfast
Our next trip out for Saturday early afternoon was to Pioneer Coal Mine, with a short stopover in Centralia - still burning underground. I enjoy sharing the amazing, yet sad story of the underground fire of Centralia with friends. Click here for thoughts from my first visit to Centralia
On the Abandoned Route 61 in Centralia 
Though not as prolific, we did find a few vents from the mine fire burning underground. No bigger than to fit a hand in, they still emit hot gasses and water vapor when you pull your hand out. We also walked along Abandoned Route 61  - Centralia’s Graffiti Highway - and found a few families in the act of tagging. Must be a rite of passage in these parts after high school graduation. Quite a few people were wandering the area looking around, and a few riding quads. Someone even had a makeshift hot dog stand setup in the trunk of their car.
We continued on to about 10 or 15 minutes to Pioneer Tunnel Coal Mine Tour, located in Ashland PA. This tour takes you 1800 feet straight into the side of Mahanoy Mountain on actual equipment used in the 1920s when the mine was operational. There is also a ride on the Henry Clay, a narrow gauge steam locomotive, which takes you into the mountains surrounding Ashland to the location of a "bootleg mine". Our tour guided on both tours were very informative and able to answer our questions about the area and coal mining in general. Very cool! Will have to take my girls here the next time we head to Knoebels.
Waiting to go down into the mine 
Steam Locomotive Henry Clay
Learning about some of the various jobs and the dangers of working in a mine
After our tours, we headed out of Ashland, and were ready for a late lunch. We decided to check out Big Dan's BBQ located at Rohrbach's Farm Market. We got a rack of ribs and some sides to share.  Dan actually use to live near Philadelphia and moved to the area to help with her family's farm stand. With their help they are growing the business - and the BBQ is a great addition right up the road from Knoebels. We also stopped into Rohrbach's and picked up some homemade baked goods for dessert - and were lucky enough to find them on the discount table. Both places are worth a visit! We took our delicious finds back to RoadAbode and enjoyed everything at our picnic table.
Now back at camp, we relaxed, watched a movie or two, napped and strolled around the campground, stopping by covered bridge and over to Lake Glory.

Kev after much thought  decided to buy a fishing rod at the camp store. They have one, but forgotten I mentioned there was a lake to go fishing.  First test told us something was wrong with the reel, and Kev went back to the store to exchange. Once we saw it was working, we took a small cooler of drinks, some chairs and all of us went over to "help out" with fishing. Things were pretty slow, while a "Nana" with her grandchildren were catching a fish every few minutes. They left and she stopped by and offered us her leftover bait - hotdog rolls! Sure enough it was what the fish were biting on. By the end of the weekend the little man had caught more fish than I remember the count. (at least fifteen)
One of many

Ed help pulling one in

Relaxing lake-side

Toward Evening, we headed over to Knoebels to catch the lights of the lights, some rides and dinner and dessert. There is something memorable about having a warm waffle ice cream sandwich while enjoying a summer evening.

Click here to learn about a previous RoadAbode trip to Central PA, including Knoebels and Centralia

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