brandywine battlefield

Day 48 – Delaware’s and Pennsylvania’s Brandywine Valley

Day 48 of Year Long Roadtrip Following Scenic Byways in the USA

Brandywine Battlefield

I left the house around 9 am this morning though could have stayed on the couch all day and watched football.  Our first stop of the day was the Brandywine Battlefield, where US troops under Washington’s guidance were out-maneuvered by British troops on September 11, 1777.  In preparation for the battle, Washington established his headquarters at the Benjamin Ring House, home of a Quaker farmer and miller, which was located near the Chadd’s Ford area. Continue reading “Day 48 – Delaware’s and Pennsylvania’s Brandywine Valley”


Day 47 – Pennsylvania Dutch Country Part 2

The Walmart parking lot was perfect last night.  I replenished my snack supplies, bought some groceries in anticipation of cooking dinner at a house tonight, enjoyed the salad bar at Ruby Tuesday last night, and grabbed coffee and a bagel from Panera this morning – one stop shopping, eating and sleeping!

This morning I started out taking a driving tour of Lancaster, one of the largest inland cities in the 13 colonies during the American Revolution.  I actually wanted to find the Central Market, dating back to the 1700s, where many local specialties from the Dutch farmland can be found, but I never managed.  I did; however, find Wheatland, former home of James Buchanan, the 15th President of the United States, and the dogs and I took a walk around the grounds through the Louise Arnold Tanger Arboretum.

After our morning walk, we ventured north to the Ephrata Cloister, established by Conrad Beissel in 1732. Beissel, born in Germany in 1691, fled to

Sisters' House

Pennsylvania to avoid religious persecution in 1720.  After spending 12 years in Pennsylvania, some of it as a leader of a local congregation, seeking solitude, he moved to the forest.  Others followed, and by 1750 Ephrata was home to 80 celibate Brothers and Sisters called the Solitary as well as 200 Householders who chose Beissel as their leader, but did not make the other

Just like this picture

sacrifices of the Solitary.  In order to be closer to God, the Solitary ate only one meal a day, worked long hours, slept little, and meditated often.  Only a few of the buildings in the cloister remain including Beissel’s house, the Sisters’ House, a barn, a bakery, the carpenter’s house, and a few others.

I passed through Intercourse, clearly home to the Amish, as evidenced by countless horse and buggies, quilt shops, hitching posts, and farmland.  I stopped at King’s Homestead, I’m assuming Amish, given the sign on the building and bought some homemade preserves.  I finally got a few good pictures of horses and buggies here that alluded me in Ohio.

I took some back roads to Strasburg in order to ride the train!  Strasburg could be named the railroad capital of the world.  Located on the south side of the highway, the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania houses over 50 railroad cars, while the National Toy Train Museum and the station house to the Strasburg Railroad is across the way.

The train service offered premium, open air, dining, and coach class tickets for a 45 minute ride past the farmlands of the Amish, the Caboose Motel (you can stay in a caboose for the evening), and the Amazing Maize Maze.  This area would be a fantastic weekend getaway for families with train loving children.  Personally, I enjoyed getting to see the Amish farmers use horses to farm their land as opposed to tractors…that is what I was expecting to see in Ohio.

After the train ride, Scout, Petey, and I continued on 30, once a wagon trail between forts where inns and taverns stood every 4 miles (the distance a wagon could travel in a day during the 1700s) toward Villanova to arrive at Fluff and Charlie’s house!  A house, a hot shower, a laundry room, a home cooked meal, and a Ranger’s win – what more could I ask for?


Day 46 – Pennsylvania Dutch Country

The historic Town of Bedford was much more active this morning as compared to last night when I was trying to find a pub.  Antique stores, candy stores, and historic buildings lined the downtown streets.  I stopped by two historic locations, the Anderson House and the Espy House.  The Anderson House, built in 1815, originally housed the first bank in Bedford and now acts as a public library and community center.  The Espy House, built around 1771, served as George Washington’s headquarters in 1794 when he and peace commissioners traveled to western Pennsylvania to quell the Whisky Rebellion, a violent protest by farmers who opposed an excise tax on whisky.

After visiting Bedford, I took a slight detour from the Reader’s Digest Book and visited the Farm Show Arena.  The first two weeks of the hunter/jumper finals also called “Indoors” by the competitors because the three finals are held indoors in the Northeast, while throughout the year, many are outdoors and held at this arena.  Horses and riders must rank in the top 50 in the Nation, determined by points earned by winning at horse shows throughout the year, to compete in the Pennsylvania National Horse Show also known as Harrisburg.  It was so surreal to be there.  I hardly recognized the place – as a competitor, I don’t think I ever entered the front door or arrived at the arena in daylight.  We entered the stables in the back before sunup most of the time.  Anyway, I was so close to the area, I had to visit.  If I made it five days sooner, I could have watched the competition, but the third week of the finals are in Washington DC, and the last week used to be at Madison Square Garden the same weekend of the New York Marathon, but I believe it has been moved.

So, when I competed at Harrisburg as a teenager, I always wanted to visit the Hersey Chocolate Factory in Hersey, Pennsylvania – so I finally did – except, it was a simulated tour at Hershey Chocolate World, as the company doesn’t allow tours of the real factory – go figure.  The employees operating the ride through the “factory” probably thought I was crazy – a 39 year old woman not going on the ride once, but twice…yes twice.  I wanted to make sure I got the procedure and statistics down properly, as no pamphlet was available for me to reference.  Aside from that, along with amusement park-type ride, video feed of the actual factory was shown at each station.  It was so cool.  I don’t know why I am so fascinated with factory machinery…I guess I just wonder how these machines are invented!

Now, a little bit about Hershey chocolate:  Milton Hershey was born in Derry Church, Pennsylvania (now Hershey) of a Mennonite family in 1857.  Due to the family’s frequent moves, he dropped out of school and apprenticed in a print shop, a craft he did not enjoy.  After a few years, he attained a candy-making apprenticeship where he spent four years.  Upon completion of the apprenticeship, he established his first candy-making business in Philadelphia which failed as well as his second attempt in New York City.  Hershey returned to Lancaster in 1883 and began the Lancaster Caramel Company which was an instant success.  With the proceeds of the sale of his caramel company, he purchased the machinery to produce chocolate after he became fascinated with German chocolate exhibited at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition.

Hershey moved back to his home town to be close to a fresh milk supply and through trial and error developed the Hershey chocolate formula of today.  In 1903 he began construction of the world’s largest chocolate factory and by 1905 Hershey’s milk chocolate became the first nationally marketed product of its kind.  In addition to building the factory, Hershey built a model town for his employees complete with homes, a public transportation system, a public school system, and Hershey Park for recreation.

The simulated tour claims the great taste of Hershey’s chocolate is all about the milk.  The dairy cows in the surrounding area supply a quarter million gallons of milk per day which in turn assists the Hershey factory in producing one million pounds of chocolate per day and 60 million kisses per day.  The chocolate making process is as follows – clean the beans mostly grown in specific climates in Africa, South America, and Indonesia; blend the beans, as beans from different areas of the world possess different tastes; roast the beans; break the beans; mill the beans; press the beans for cocoa butter; add milk and sugar and blend with the chocolate; dry the chocolate to create chocolate crumbs; combine the chocolate crumbs and cocoa butter; refine the chocolate paste for consistency; comb the liquid chocolate for up to 72 hours; mold the chocolate; cool the chocolate; wrap the chocolate – definitely a process!

After visiting Hershey’s Chocolate World, which by the way also offered other activities such as be a factory worker for a day or make your own candy bar among other fun options for the kids, I stopped at the Watch and Clock Museum in Columbia, Pennsylvania.  The museum provided the chronology of time pieces from 4200 BC to 1896.  A few statistics of interest include: 4200 BC = Egyptian Calendar using 365 days; 3000 BC = first works of Stonehenge; 250 BC = wide use of sundials in Greece; AD 1215 = signing of the Magna Carta; 1400 = wide use of sandglasses; 1500 = lantern clocks introduced in England; 1510 = first watch introduced in Nuremburg; 1620 = Pilgrims land at Plymouth Rock; 1687 = Sir Isaac Newton publishes theories on gravity and planetary motion; 1759 = John Harrison completes his fourth chronometer; 1789 = Washington becomes the first president of the United States; 1797 = Eli Terry is granted the first US clock patent; 1806 = Eli Terry contracts to produce 4,000 wooden clocks in three years (initiating mass production); 1820 = Luther Goddard manufactures pocket watches in Massachusetts; 1840 = Alexander Bain develops first electric clock; 1861-65 = The US Civil War; 1874 = Telephone patented by Alexander Graham Bell; 1880 = German naval officers are supplied with Swiss-produced wrist watches;  1883 = Standard Railway Time with 5 time zones established in America; 1884 = World time zones established; 1896 = Dollar watches are widely available in the US.  Just think, watches have been readily available in our lifetime, while in the 1800’s it was a luxury…and can you imagine living without time zones?!?

The watch museum also included a special exhibit on James Bond watches.  Agent 007 has worn a variety of models manufactured by four different watch makers in the movies dating back to 1962. Can anyone name the four manufacturers?

Other exhibits included how a watch is made, how a watch works, as well as showcases of wrist watches, pocket watches, wall clocks, desk clocks, grandfather clocks, and even a monumental clock.  Monumental clocks, popular in the last quarter of the 19th century, were handcrafted clocks that were used more to entertain than to tell time.

The first known American-made monumental clock was constructed over 20 years by Stephen Engle from Hazleton, Pennsylvania.  While Engle invented the clock, the Reids exhibited the clock throughout the Eastern United States charging 25 cents to view “the eighth wonder of the world”.  The clock toured the US until 1951 when it disappeared.  The National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors finally found and acquired the clock in 1988.  The clock contains a variety of moving figures.  The skeletal figure of Death strikes a thigh bone against a skull every hour.  Every 15 minutes, Father Time strikes a bell and turns his sandglass while the figures of Youth, Mid Age, and Old Age revolve above the clock dial.  At 40 minutes past the hour, Revolutionary Soldiers pass by Molly Pitcher as patriotic tunes play.  At 55 minutes past the hour, three Marys emerge and the grand processional of Apostles takes place.

I only spent an hour and a half here and could have spent much longer.  It was late afternoon by the time l left, and I hadn’t even taken the dogs for a good walk!  I quickly drove through the historic town of Marietta and then stopped at Chickies Rock County Park.  The dogs and I dropped a geocoin off at a cache just off the trail on the way to a beautiful view of the Susquehanna River studded with islands.  I was hoping to see Three Mile Island, but being a few miles north, it wasn’t in sight.  A paramedic that was enjoying the views told me to go to another overlook nearby.  It was relatively tree covered, but I got a decent sunset picture before I headed to Walmart.

Day 45 – Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands

I pulled off at the Walmart in Kittanning, Pennsylvania last night, about an hour or so away from my starting point today in Ligonier.  One of the back roads to my destination was closed; so ,Gina, my GPS found an alternate route.  As I was following this route, the car in front of me stopped on the road.  When I began to pass her, she waived me down.  I couldn’t figure out what she would want except to ask about VANilla, since my van seems to get a lot of attention.  Between VANilla and Texas plates, clearly I stuck out like a sore thumb, thus she asked, “Are you trying to get to 30?”  Of course, I didn’t know – my ultimate road was 711 and there were so many turns in between that I couldn’t remember, and she said well a truck has jack-knifed on the detour up ahead, so you can’t get through.  You need to turn around and take the following roads.  Can you believe it!!!  When is the last time someone has gone out of their way to ask if you need help with directions?!?  It was totally awesome.  People in small towns are just plain nice.

I didn’t stop in Ligonier but it was the starting point on 711 from which I drove to Fallingwater, a home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1935 for Edgar J Kaufmann, the founder of now Macy’s.  The tour only allowed photos of the outside of the house, and it was truly magnificent.  The only way I can really do this home justice is to say, GO VISIT IT and MAKE A RESERVATION!

Frank Lloyd Wright was so far ahead of his time.  He was in his 60s when he designed Fallingwater.  Given all the technology today, the home, built into the side of the mountain and over a waterfall might not sound that impressive, but the fact it was built in 1935 for $155,000 makes this masterpiece astonishing.  A regular three bedroom home at this time could be built for $5,000, and the design of a home at this time certainly wasn’t as modern.  Fallingwater has an appearance of being built in the 1970s, some 35-40 years after the original construction.

The house is constructed with cement, stone, and iron.  All the stone used in the construction was taken from the property.  No detail is spared.  The grain of the fallingwater, frank lloyd wright, pennsylvaniawood on the cabinets is horizontal while the grain on the doors is vertical.  The glass of many of the windows is mitered to the stone.  The corner windows open from the corner to each side so that the view could be perfectly clear of any steel.  Most of the interior furniture was designed by Wright while the home contains art from all over the world including Picasso’s, Rivera’s and Rembrant’s.  The ceilings, though low, rise and fall to always force the view toward the natural outdoors and the terraces account for 50% of the space in the house.  At least one chimney and wall are partially formed by the boulders on the mountain with the house built around them.

I really can’t say enough about this house.  There is no need to be a Frank Lloyd

Guest pool gravity fed by the stream…I didn’t even mention the guest and servant area

Wright, nature, or modern architecture lover to appreciate this work of art.  It might help to visit Taliesin West in Arizona or Taliesin in Wisconsin first though.  Both properties served as homes and studios to the architect and now teach his ideas.  I visited Taliesin West with my friend Debby last February and I must say it was nice to visit Fallingwater with an understanding of Wright’s approach to architecture.  I think this is definitely a “top ten place to see before you die”.

I met a handful of people on the tour too.  Dean, an owner and operator of 24 McDonald’s, was at a convention nearby.  It sounded like the resort where he and the rest of the convention goers were staying was fantastic – golf, exotic animals, and other adventures.  I also met Amber and her grandmother, Melva.  Amber had a class that was studying Fallingwater, so she came to see it.  Melva was curious to know what I thought about going on the tour by myself.  To me, I was on the tour with a bunch of people compared to being on the road by myself.  They were from Maryland…who knows maybe I’ll bump into them again next week!

It was after lunch and the dogs hadn’t gotten their “long” walk yet, so we visited Ohiopyle State Park.  The park is home to Ohiopyle Falls where the Youghiogheny River pours over large sandstone rocks.  The falls area, once a hunting ground for the Shawnee and Iroquois Indians, was originally named Ohiopehelle, meaning water whitened by froth while the river was previously called Yohoghany meaning a stream flowing in a roundabout course.

The area was also inspected by George Washington in 1754 while he was looking for a waterway for his troops.  However, due to the elevation of the riverbed dropping about 90 feet within 1 mile, an alternative route was used.

Scout, Petey, and I walked along the falls area and then across an old bridge that was used by the Western Maryland Railroad beginning in 1914 through 1975.  Now the bridge serves as a footpath to Ferncliff, a peninsula of land full of trails for walkers and cyclists.  Though relatively breezy, it was another glorious day of sunshine!

Between the time we spent at Fallingwater and Ohiopyle State Park, it was already 3:30 pm.  I ventured on to Somerset in hopes to stop at the Historical Center, a complex that hosts early American activities.  Unfortunately, I arrived a few minutes after 5 and it was closed.  I had planned on staying in Somerset for the evening, but I wasn’t ready to settle down for the evening, so I weaved around the tight curves and steep hills to Bald Knob Summit.  I managed to miss the only pullout for a picture, but stopped when I got to lower ground to get another picture that doesn’t do the fall foliage justice.  The overlook I missed provided a view of rolling green pastures, golden wheat fields, and farmhouses with a backdrop of crimson red forests covering the mountains of Maryland and West Virginia.

After looking for a restaurant/pub for thirty plus minutes in Bedford and Everett to watch the baseball game, I finally threw in the towel and parked at Walmart.  For some reason, the town of Everett was celebrating Halloween tonight.  The streets were crowded with trick-or-treaters – several Pittsburg Steeler players – I spotted a mini Troy Polamalu from a couple blocks away – the wig was perfect!!  Well, the temperature is dropping fast tonight, so I’m going to climb into my sleeping bag.  Hopefully the Rangers won. ETB

Day 44 – Across the Alleghenies Part 2

I started out the day at the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania.  The gorge is nearly one mile across and 800 feet deep.  Unfortunately, I got there a week too late to enjoy the fall foliage of the surrounding tree covered hills.  I had thought I would make it in time, as when I used to show at the horse finals in Harrisburg during the 3rd week of October the trees were always glorious.  Oh well, I suspect all the storms were a bit too battering this year.  The dogs and I took a half mile stroll along the easy trail instead of venturing down the trail to the bottom of the gorge and then headed to our next destination, the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum.

I figured I probably wouldn’t end up at a Lumber Museum again in my lifetime, so it would be something different to check out.  With only a few exhibits indoors, the majority of the features were outdoor buildings depicting the lumber industry in the early 1900s.  The village included an engine house, loader shed, locomotive and log cars, a horse barn, a filer’s shack, a blacksmith shop, a laundry shed, a bunk house with a mess hall and kitchen, and a sawmill.

The locomotive was a Shay which became very popular as its design enabled the train to maneuver around sharp turns and climb steep grades.  At 70 tons, with its vertical cylinders and flexible drive shaft, the engine had the power to pull approximately 22 log cars.

As opposed to loading log cars by hand which was slow and tedious, bigger operations, like the village I visited, used steam-powered log loaders.  The log loader used a rotating cab, a stationary boom, and tongs hooked to the end of a pulley and cable system to lift and swing the logs onto the flat train car.

The circular saw, steam powered mills ranged in size from small to large employing anywhere from 2 to 3 men up to hundreds.  The mill I visited was of medium size and was capable of producing 12 to 15 thousand board feet of lumber daily.  Logs were moved from the pond to the log deck, “dogged” to the carriage, sawed by the circular head saw, and then trimmed on the edger and tail saw before being stored.

In addition to the logging village, the museum had on display a C.C.C. cabin.  In 1933, President Roosevelt created the Civilian Conservation Corps to help alleviate unemployment caused by the great depression.  From 1933-1942, young men were hired to plant trees, construct forest roads and trails, and to improve the nation’s natural resources.  Ten C.C.C. camps were established in the Pennsylvania area.  One cabin was relocated to the museum site in order to preserve a part of history.

The museum also had a mile long nature trail that I didn’t walk, but I saw a geocaching sign posted in the visitor’s center advertising an event to promote both geocaching and use of the sustainable forestry trail.

Scout, Petey, and I continued on to Kinzua Bridge State Park to see the tallest railroad bridge in the world, at 301 feet, when it was erected in 1882.  It was rebuilt with steel in 1900.  To tell you how dated my Reader’s Digest book is, the print suggests that I take a scenic ride along the viaduct.  Due to rust and dangerous conditions; however, the bridge was closed in 2002 before a tornado demolished half of it in 2003.  Given the worksite nearby, it appears the bridge is being reconstructed.  The area was still very neat to see, and we took a hike in the leafless forest of trees nearby.

My final stop for the evening before taking a two hour drive to get close to my next scenic tour starting location was at the Bullpen in Warren.  I decided it was time for a local meal instead of Subway, McDonald’s, Walmart or other snacks.  I clicked “Points of Interest” and “Food” on my GPS, and of the five options appearing on the first screen I liked the name “The Bullpen” the best.  I followed the directions for a mile that took me out of the main town to a neighborhood.  Great, I thought, the address listed for the restaurant is the owner’s home…not so, the pub, in a gray, wooden house was located smack dab in the middle of a neighborhood with houses on all sides.

I wouldn’t have even noticed it if it weren’t for the neon beer sign in the window.  It hardly looked open, but the locals certainly knew about it.  The bar offered a variety of food.  I went with the wings and fried pickles, both delicious.  I sat at the bar, talked to Wendy and Joe, and mostly just soaked in the local atmosphere.  Most of the patrons buy a mug for $5 which hangs from the wall or ceiling and it is theirs to use each time they visit.  Joe has had his mug for 24 years!  It would have been fun to watch the baseball game there, but I was pretty far away from my final destination for the evening, so I paid the tab and wound around the dark back roads to my next Walmart.

Day 43 – Across the Alleghenies

I don’t have much to share today.  I’m beginning my 7th day in a row of a migraine of varying degrees – faint to extreme, but always there.  I’ve been trying to ignore it as much as possible, though that has been why my posts have been so sporadic of late, I’ve been resting!  Not looking for any sympathy (I lived with them long enough), just explaining why my stops/pictures have been fewer as of late.  Unfortunately, it has rained at some point almost every day or evening and is raining again now which is causing much of the trouble…it has to be sunny sooner or later.

Today consisted mostly of rest and driving with only one stop.  I also figured out that I think I rested so much recently, that I’m behind schedule by a day…that puts me home on Christmas Eve, so I will have to try to pick up the pace a bit to give myself one day to Christmas shop and wrap presents!

I stopped at the French Azilum near Durrell, Pennsylvania.  According to Reader’s Digest, in 1793, “several prominent Philadelphians sympathetic to royalists displaced by the French Revolution purchased land in the Susquehanna Valley and made it a refuge for exhiled aristocrats.

None of the original 30 log structures remain, though a reconstructed circa 1790 log cabin has been relocated to the site to house certain artifacts pertaining to the settlement.  The settlement only lasted a few years as the land company filed for bankruptcy and many of the members returned to France when Napolean granted the exiles amnesty in 1803.

The historic site was somewhat out of the way hidden between farmland peppered with red barns and the river’s shore.  Petey found some stinky poo in the surrounding field to vigorously roll in while Scout wandered into a nearby barn to find some catfood…I don’t think the farmer was too happy!  Maybe I should have taken the entire day off.

I’m hanging out at the Walmart in Mansfield.  I got the dogs out just before the rainstorm arrived, though Petey could stand to get another wash.  Even Scout is avoiding him by taking over the back seat! ETB