Penn’s Woods

We had a great visit with Fred and Cathy while in Elkland, PA. We saw the “Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania” and did a nice hike there. Pine Creek cuts through the gorge and the old railroad was made into 60 miles of bike trails through the gorge.

We hit the Wellsboro House on the way home for a bite to eat and some good in-house beers.

We found some old family photos of my earlier visits to Elkland growing up. I was about 5 when this photo was taken, with my Mr. Rogers sweater on – lol. I guess I was meant to be an engineer.

We left Elkland and stopped in State College, PA to see my Godmother. At 85 she is still a spark of joy while Pam and I chatted the afternoon away with her.

We made our way westward to my sister’s place in Slippery Rock, PA for a visit with Brett, Hunter and my sis. There is always something happening at their place given the garden, the fields and the animals.

Their peacocks had chicks and the parents here were checking out the new folks in town. A new barn is going up for some future alpacas.

Cyndi also dug out some old family photos. This had to have been some time in my terrible twos – lol.

We all went to North Country Brewing Co for some good beer and to hear a local band. The beer and the food were great there.

We left Slippery Rock with a lot of supplies from their gardens and her kitchen. We then made our way south to Mill Run, PA to see Fallingwater, the Frank Lloyd Wright house.

Pam and I could easily see ourselves relaxing on those decks, or next to the fireplaces forever.

What a location, and what a design that made the most of the location – for a great weekend get-away. We’ll see if they will trade for the Roamer – lol.

Just a few miles away was another Frank Lloyd Wright home, called Kentuck Knob. His homes are very distinct, but what are always humorous are the stories that go along with them from his and the customer’s side during construction. When the home was completed, the new owners threw a party to show off the place, with Frank Lloyd Wright as the guest of honor. Everyone came, except Frank Lloyd Wright. His excuse was that he already knew how beautiful the house was so he did not need to attend.

The home was all non-90 degree angles at every corner, and resembled a ship at sea, inside and out.

I’ve always liked wood and stone together, and his designs are just uncompromisingly beautiful.

The lady of the house got many design changes incorporated during the construction, a fact that seemed very unique for his designs. However, she admitted that later in life the one mistake she made was planting trees around the place. All you can see from the porch is trees, but this was the original view before the trees were put in and grew. I think I’d crank up the chainsaw.

The property had a lot of sculptures and art randomly placed on the grounds. They also liked bird houses, where these were some of the largest we’ve ever seen.

We camped the night at Ohiopyle State Park and hiked the falls in the morning before saying goodbye to the area.

As we were driving, we passed Fort Necessity National Monument and had to stop. A young George Washington led some troops and surveyors in 1754 into the disputed western area to make a road so that British troops could advance and displace the French at Fort Duquesne, where Pittsburgh is now located.

A skirmish with the local French troops that left their commander dead led to retaliation and the requirement to build the small fort. The French surrounded and attacked, leading to Washington’s surrender. The events that followed ramped up to the French and Indian War from 1754-1763.

What was also at the visitor center was information on the National Road, route 40. This was the first federally funded road in 1811, constructed from Cumberland, MD to Vandalia, Ill. Because this trip has had a “great roads” theme to it, we will have to follow this road for awhile on our way to Minnesota.

New Brunswick and New England

Pam and I started our slow return back west from Nova Scotia. We decided to drive back down to the US along the New Brunswick coast. We made the same drive three years ago when we were towing my Grandfather’s ’46 Willy’s Jeep back to be restored, which definitely changed where we could go due to our increased length with the auto trailer and lack of maneuverability.
We blew our first tire leaving Nova Scotia the last trip so we didn’t hit the New Brunswick coast until dark and it was very foggy. This time it was a beautiful day. We stopped at the Hopewell Rocks Park for a nice hike and a view of the tide-weathered rocks of the coast.

We camped for the night at the Point Wolfe Campground in Fundy National Park. It was a drive to get there and we thought we were out of luck when we got to this covered bridge, but it was 13 feet tall and rated for 23 tons so we were ok.

The campground was near the water so it was very foggy in the morning when we left for the US border. We stopped at Caribou Plain for another hike before we left the park. It was a great hike with a beaver pond and a peat bog that is very unique for the area.

Much of the trail was along a raised platform due to the bog and soft, mossy ground.

At one point we came up to a tiny deer mouse about the size of a walnut right in the middle of the trail eating away at something really good. He didn’t even notice us as we stopped and got right next to him, but eventually he scurried off into the woods.

We crossed the border back into the US at Calais, ME without any issues. The border guard asked to see inside, but I think it was more out of curiosity since he was in there for about 10 seconds before telling us we were good to go.
We made our way down along the Passamaquoddy Bay, the body of water that separates the coastal part of Maine from New Brunswick. We stopped at the St Croix National Park. The St Croix Island was the first French settlement in North America in 1604. Pierre Dugua led an expedition that explored Nova Scotia and New Brunswick before deciding on St Croix Island to put up a settlement as a center for the beaver fur trade. The Natives warned the group not to winter there due to the ice and tides, and because they did not listen the group was stranded on the island for the winter. Nearly half of the men died the first winter due to scurvy.

The next spring they took down all the buildings they had constructed there and sailed to Nova Scotia to create Port Royal at the site of the Habitation in 1605. Champlain was also on that expedition and documented the entire trip in words and drawings, also creating many of the very accurate maps that were used for many years that followed.

We camped the night at Cobscook Bay State Park and got a spot right on the water. The tides here were still pretty noticeable. We watched as the fog rolled in that night. First, we could no longer see across the bay, then we couldn’t see the islands, then we were deep in the mist and thinking of Stephen King.

The next day we headed down Route 1 along the coast stopping for our last lobster roll and some good micro-brew in Belfast, ME at the Marshall Wharf Brewing Co.

The engine was making what sounded like a loose belt noise so we had it checked. Turned out that a couple of our exhaust manifold bolts had failed and air was escaping between the manifold and the engine block. We ended up camping at the Pumpkin Patch RV Resort in Hermon, ME, just outside of Bangor, waiting for our appointment to fix the truck the following day.

We were out of there in a couple of hours and headed over to Winthrop, ME to have dinner and spend the night with Pam’s cousin. He has a nice camping spot in his driveway.

We drove across New Hampshire and Vermont the next day, stopping at Beer Naked Brewery in Vermont to check out the scenery of the Green Mountain Range and get some tips on some good dispersed camping spots the next time we pass through.

We camped the night at Thompson’s Lake State Park near Altamont, NY. The reason for the stop there was that Pam’s family had a farm near Altamont and Guilderland from the time they came over to the US until the late ‘70s. We found the old farm, but the original 57 acres have been split into at least two lots and it was overgrown with trees. We visited the Altamont and Guilderland Historical Societies to see if they were interested in some of the paperwork we had on the old farm. One was a hand-drawn surveyor map of the property from 1851. Not sure our kids will want the papers and we don’t want to just throw them away. We didn’t bring them with us but now have the contacts on where we can send them if we decide to do so. It was pretty cool that we saw several streets and buildings in the village area named after families that we have records for from years gone by.

We drove the next day through Cooperstown, NY to see the baseball hall of fame. The town is a beautiful small town on the southern shore of Otsego Lake. There is no parking for anything Roamer-sized or larger anywhere near the hall of fame as we found out. After driving around a bit we did stumble on the parking lots outside of town that offer free trolley rides into town, but we just had lunch in the lot and left. The Baseball Hall of Fame awaits our next visit to the area.

Next on the agenda was a visit to one of my cousins and his wife in Elkland, PA. We knew they were out with one of their kids and grandkids on a local lake, so we stopped to make dinner at Cowanesque Lake and there they were. We rode around on the water for awhile and then headed back to Elkland, PA for the night to complete the New England leg of our trek.

The Milestone Celebration

Earlier this year my brother, sister, Pam and myself started to plan a big milestone (80th birthday party) celebration for our Mom. She lives in Granville Ferry, across the Annapolis River basin from Annapolis Royal, one of the oldest European settlements in North America.

Fort Anne sits at the point in Annapolis Royal with a commanding spot over-looking the Annapolis Basin. It’s a star-shaped, earth-walled fort that was built in the colonial times and passed from the French to the British a few times over its history.

The town itself has not changed much in 400+ years. It has only one traffic light and no fast food, or malls within 20 miles. The Saturday farmer’s market in town is the event of the week. Someone was working on a new dory on the wharf.

We had two parties for my Mom and the weather was beautiful for both days. The first one we held at a historic B&B in town, The Hillsdale Inn, for family and her friends. We even had a bag-piper play for the afternoon.

All of her relatives at the party gathered for this shot.

After folks started to leave we had an awesome game of croquet on the lawns there. Some games are just made for beer drinking.

The next day we had a second party for just the relatives in the community center near her house. The menu for this party was lobster.

My sister was a flurry of activity coordination and cooking for the parties, which she enjoys doing. For the rest of us, it was nice to just sit back and enjoy the time talking with each other.

Pam and I stayed at the Inn a couple of nights during the parties, but spent the rest of the time parked at Dunromin Campground, within walking distance to my Mom’s place. The spot we got was the same one my grandparents had there as a seasonal guest for years while I was growing up – pretty cool.

After the parties most folks needed to head home. We took our son to Halifax for his flight stopping at The Tangled Garden to restock our supply of mint jellies for future lamb dinners.

His flight was at 5am so we had a nice dinner in town at the Alexander Keith’s brewery and then dropped him off at the airport hotel before heading back to my Mom’s place.

We did some sight-seeing while we were there. Over the mountain is Parker’s Cove, a fishing village hidden back in the trees. The tide was out, exposing the rocks along the coast, where the tides here are 20 feet or more.

We also visited the Habitation, or Port Royal, the original French colony in Nova Scotia. I found out this trip that my great-grandfather was part of the crew that rebuilt the fort in the 1930s to become one of Canada’s first parks.

The inside of the fort is decorated as it would have been when it was being used by the French beaver trappers and traders at the time. The fort was raided at some point in its history by the British from Virginia, who took everything they could carry away. The French trappers were away and came back to a ransacked fort. The spent the winter with the local Indians and were restocked from France in the spring.

We also had lunch at the beautiful Luckett Vineyard. The food was as good as the view. The telephone booth in the vineyard allows you to call anyone in North America for free.

The evening view from my Mom’s kitchen is very nice. I refinished her deck this trip and the foam on the water due to the changing tides seems to glow in the evening twilight.

We had our fill of great home-made fish chowder, poutine and lobster during our visit, played some rousing hands of cards and dominoes, and with the favorable exchange rate things were not as expensive this stay. Pam and I are now heading towards our next set destination of this summer’s adventure – Minnesota.

Mad Dash to Nova Scotia

As we waited for the Roamer to be fixed we continued our exploration of the nearby Virginia area. We went back to the Blue Ridge Parkway to hike around Otter Lake. The dam was constructed out of huge fitted rocks that lets the water cascade over.

We saw an otter, a muscrat and a harmless black snake hidden near the path that made Pam jump very high. On the other side of the James River are the old locks that were used for the cargo boats coming down Battle Creek.

We even saw a turtle making its way to a dead log in the James River to get a little sun and rest before setting off for the far bank.

We hoped that the Roamer would be finished on Friday, but no such luck. Pam and I spent the holiday weekend with her Uncle at his place on Smith Mountain Lake, along with his son’s family. They have a nine year-old girl, Leigh, so we became experts at the card game Sleeping Queens. Uncle Bill has a nice 21-foot runabout so we spent much of the time in and on the water.

One of the marinas on the lake had huge school of carp that would eat anything. Kids put peanut butter on their toes and let the fish suck it off, a “hillbilly pedicure”. There was a great fireworks show on the weekend which we enjoyed from the boat while floating out in the middle of the lake.

We got the Roamer back Monday evening just before they closed for the July 4th holiday. The destroyed axle was there to see, burnt oil and metal shavings draining out.

We filled up and headed north knowing we had about 26 hours of driving to do in two days. Due to our late start, the first night we spent in a truck stop on the West Virginia – Pennsylvania border. Our DEF sensor told us we had 800 miles to refill the reservoir or the truck won’t run – of course. We hit a Walmart on the way to pick some up because the next day was the 4th and we were not sure what would be open. After seeing the late night crowd in Walmart we figured the truck stop was a much better option.

The next day we blew through a lot of states. It’s great driving in the East because you feel like you’re really covering a lot of ground, passing through state after state every hour or so. We started in West Virginia, up through Pennsylvania, into New York, then Vermont and stopping in New Hampshire – wow. I guess you need to live out west to understand how different that is – to cross so many states in a single day.

We did stop for lunch and a break at my old school (RPI) in Troy, NY. It was the first time I had been back on campus since I graduated 34 years ago. I gave Pam a quick walking tour of the place. Some things are new, but much has not changed. Pam’s grandfather also attended RPI in the 20’s.

The second night was not going to be another truck stop, mostly because there are no east-west interstates in Vermont and New Hampshire – lol. We stopped the night at Pillsbury State Park in southern New Hampshire.

Our campsite was right on a lake with loons. It was a nice end to a long day of driving.

The next day we were up early and off again north. Maine doesn’t look that big until you drive it from south to north. We hit the border, declared everything we had to avoid a tear-down inspection delay. We ended up paying duty and taxes for the extra wine we had stored away, and would have consumed on the way up at our originally planned more leisurely pace. We made it to the Nova Scotia border in the early evening and the campground near my Mom’s place right around midnight.

We made it for my Mom’s birthday gathering with a couple of days to spare, and only a couple of days later than we had originally planned after spending 10 unplanned, but fun days in Lynchburg.