Monday, September 15, 2014

Traveling East to Maine

About Amish Country, although the buggies on the road are cute and the horses are fast high steppers, there is not a lot to see here.
Unless you want to take a buggy ride or shop for Amish furniture or quilts, The little shops are full of tchotchkes not locally made. Made in India or China.

There were lots of nagging and strange road signs in Pennsylvania. Don't Tailgate.
Also lots of extra curve signs. Every other one includes the suggested speed limit. Also lots of red light cameras. Hope some of them are dummies.
Also spotted some deer crossing signs with red noses on the deer.

At Delaware Water Gap Park I spot a Smokey Bear sign with Low fire danger. Probably they have mislaid the ones that say high fire danger. We can tell we're not in California. Many new bad fires break out every day.
I see so many place names ending in kill I know it must mean something. Comes from the Dutch meaning water channel or riverbed. Bushkill, Raymondkill, Fishkill, Peekskill.
We stayed at Kettletown State Park. This is a no alcohol park. We laid low.

Bath shipyards

Bath in Maine has lots of old ship captains houses.

Bath Chocolate Church

No big trucks here on highway 1. The overpasses are too low. We fit. The road is kind of torn up. Probably from winter chains.

Down the road is the first of many flea markets. Junk as entertainment since 1977. We stop at this one and give the others a pass.

Lunch at Claws in Rockport
Verona Island Bridge
old house
I had to get a picture off the web of the Verona Island Bridge as I couldn't get a good one.

 I spotted this old house along the road. It looks like it is in the process of falling down.

Bar Harbor (Bah Habah)
We are now at Acadia National Park. Lots of shuttle buses here. So tomorrow the plan is to ride as many as we can.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Traveling East: Civil War

We went to both Antietam National Battlefield Park and Gettysburg National Military Park. Learned a lot more about this horrible war where 750,000 people died. Figures were recently revised upwards. The rivers and creeks ran red with blood for days after battles and you could walk from one side of a field to another without stepping on the ground.
Antietam was a one day battle, September 17, 1862. McClellan vs Lee. Four thousand killed and 19,000 wounded and missing. Most of the missing were dead and most of the wounded died. It was not a battle of tactics. Just a pitched brawl. The bloodiest single day in American history. The bayonets were bent into meat hooks to drag the bodies off into mass graves. The battle was technically a draw.
Now you just see fields where the battle was. 

The Dunker church was pulverized and fell down in a wind storm. This is a reconstruction. 

The Burnside Bridge over Antietam Creek. 

A small evocative monument. 

Union graves were eventually moved to Antietam National Cemetery. 

Gettysburg was a much bigger affair. Three days of battle July 1 to July 3, 1863. There were a lot of tactical maneuvers, some worked out and some didn't. Meade vs Lee. Meade had an army of 93,000 and eventually lost 23,000, killed, wounded, missing or captured. Lee had 70,000 and lost 28,000. Pretty horrible numbers. Lee was on the offensive moving into Pennsylvania. Each army had some high ground with the Union forces maintaining a defensive fishhook line and defending their flanks. The culminating battle had Lee via Pickett charging from Seminary Ridge to Union positions on Cemetery Ridge. The war continued for 2 more years, but this loss was the beginning of the end.
The eternal flame of peace has burned out. Budget cuts? I don't know. I forgot to ask. 

Up on top of Little Round top at the far end of the Union line we overlook the Wheatfield, the Peach Orchard and Devils Den. 

The Wheatfield, 4,000 died here on July 2nd 

the General on top of Little Round Top 

Pickets Charge on the 3rd from Seminary Ridge 

High Water mark of the charge 

We are now in Amish country. Horses trot quickly on the road pulling buggies. 

I spot a horse drawn harvester harvesting Pioneer GMO corn. How anachronistic.
I don't know how this town got its name.
At one time it was called Cross Keys.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Traveling East: West Virginia and Virginia

On the 4th we visited the West Virginia State Museum. It's very well done, but I remember a lot of creeping in darkened short hall bits from one well lit exhibit to the next. A head lamp might have served me well for the dark bits. I did learn how West Virginia got to break off from Virginia. West Virginia had been a disgruntled neglected backwater part of Virginia and had long wanted to go their own way. When Virginia seceded from the union, West Virginia voted to stay and the US Congress and Lincoln ratified their decision.
West Virginia State Museum (bldg 9 for the confused visitor)
That night we camped off the grid at Summit Lake in the Monangahela National Forest. Nice to have the occasional off the grid $5 night.
We just hung out in the day use area and walked around the lake a bit until time to go to our camping spot that was fairly enclosed by vegetation.
West Virginia wastes a lot of money by the way they mark curves on secondary roads. First they put up the standard windy road sign then instead of reflectors they put up stand alone curve signs about one every 10 feet. We counted as many as a dozen in a row.
On Friday the 5th we headed to the Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton, Virginia. A series of farms with homes were imported and reconstructed to represent the various people who came to live in the Shenandoah Valley. Native American, Irish, German, West African (slaves) and English.  Then they built reconstructions of American farm houses from 1740, 1820 and 1850 plus an early schoolhouse. There were docents in period dress demonstrating life on all the various farms. Quite a bit to hike over we were lucky to catch a ride in a covered wagon drawn by two lovely Percheron.
Our covered wagon and driver

In the covered wagon

William in the German farm house
I finished reading a great book I had picked up at an earlier campground and left it in the book trade at the Staunton Campground. The Invention of Wings. Appropriate, since it is about slavery and we are doing civil war history now. I have now begun a book recommended by Cousin Nancy, Confederates in the Attic. Glad I downloaded it. 
The gardens of the house before the rain started
On Saturday we went to the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley. Basically a rich guy who had inherited a lot of Oklahoma oil money lived here with his partner. They were into entertaining and art. They collected pie safes and miniatures. Since there were no heirs, they set up the museum and the grounds as a public benefit. Enjoyable to visit. The lunch at the museum cafe was fantastic and huge. We saved half for dinner later.
a pie safe- they had perforated metal panels
to allow for ventilation and to keep insects out

Saturday night we checked into the Harpers Ferry KOA. We usually don't go for the higher priced kid-centric KOA campgrounds. But the location is so right. We are actually in a battlefield, Bolivar Heights, on the edge of the National Park. There is a line of earthworks right in back of the Pleasure Way, our RV.

Sunday after the free pancake breakfast, we drove into Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. Best to take the shuttle bus as there is limited parking in town and what there is you pay for. The town reminds me a bit of Skagway, since it is basically a park town with lots of restoration and exhibits. We spend all day and my legs are tired. The weather is balmy, but there are hills and stairs. A factory town at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers, but there were floods and history to bring it down. John Brown's abortive raid on the federal arsenal was just a spark. The town changed hands time after time throughout the course of the civil war effectively obliterating it.
Harpers Ferry
Restored firehouse. Last stand of John Brown

River confluence

1903 ad "Mennen's Borated Talcum Toilet Powder"
Hiking the Appalachian Trail

I was fascinated with the cooking demonstration. Eels and songbirds cured for storage in clarified butter.
The volunteer doing the demonstrations gave me these tiny sour cucumbers to plant at home.
We're heading up to the top

We made it

The Catholic church came through the war okay.
 I don't think we'll go up to Jefferson hill.
My legs are getting tired as we come down these steps carved out of the rock.
The RV park is pretty deserted when we get back. Just the way we like it.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Traveling East: Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia

On the 2nd we made another vehicle repair stop. Another new front tire and a lube and oil change. The left front tire had a broken belt inside. So in Alaska we replaced the two back tires and since Alaska we replaced the front two. It was that last bad road to visit that last glacier that I blame.
On the last part of the highway in Illinois we were amused by the antics of a drunk or disgruntled highway crew. They had obliterated the lane markings and replaced them with drunken markings almost in the middle of the left lane!
This went on for miles and miles.
In Indiana we spent all afternoon in Boonville visiting with cousin Jim and his wife Nancy. They were wonderful to visit with and their house is charming. Nancy just happened to have a delicious cake made for our visit.
We spent the night not far away in Scales Lake Park.
As we speed east we see more and more trees and fewer fields. The land gets hillier as we head into Kentucky. The highway construction is exasperating. The right lane may be blocked for 20 miles at a time for one small stripe painting machine. Another 20 miles for a bit of minor edge repaving. Another 20 miles for some work on the other side of the huge grass median. Another 20 miles for a back hoe cleaning a ditch.  They just figure what they will do in a month and block it all off at once.  Hard on the driver.
We have stopped for the night not far into West Virginia, the wild and wonderful state. Tomorrow we will slow down to stop and tourist a bit.