Sunday, November 5, 2017

Meetup With Dad

October 3-9, 2017

My dad flew helicopters for the Air Force and is a member of a Pilots' Association that has periodic reunions.  I had never been to one but couldn't pass up the opportunity to go to this one and hang with Dad for a week.  The reunion was in DC, home of boatloads of history and the hotel was nice enough to let my park my rig in their lot for the duration of the reunion.  As I have said previously, I am very introverted and was a bit uneasy about being around 200 people I didn't know, but these were some of the nicest people I've met in a long time.  After the first day I felt comfortable and not at all stressed out about the crowd.

Plus they offer plenty of social lubricant.

I went on three of the daytrips to the Holocaust Museum, Arlington Cemetery and Mount Vernon (a boat trip).  All were super and even though I ditched Dad at the museum so I could take a quick trip through the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, it was great to talk with him.


Difficult to see but that's the Capitol Building and Washington Monument in the background

Too close to get good shots of the soldiers leaving after the changing of the guard, but I guess their butts look good too.  And you can see the path their shoes have marked in the stone walkway

Not our boat for the journey down the Potomac, but pretty

Our boat and the crowd getting on


Pirate Cruiser

Sorry about the thumb. Fort Washington

Mount Vernon

View from Mount Vernon.  That's Piscataway National Park, preserved as a view shed (new phrase to me) showing what Washington saw from his porch.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Harpers Ferry

September 29, 2017

The only reason I went to Harpers Ferry was because a guy at Pinchot told me about it.  It wasn't on my list of things I really want to see and I didn't notice it while perusing the National Parks page but I am really glad I went.  It's a mix of lovely scenery, historic buildings and lots of hiking trails.  You can park at the Park office and take a bus down to avoid the limited parking in the steep, old town.

I think this is the Potomac but I guess it could have been the Shenandoah

Hikers are about halfway there, whichever side they started from.

Railroad trestle has collapsed

Downtown street

Dissolving stairs

Downtown from the other direction

The old church from three different viewpoints.

The map shows a trail going back up to the parking area with some ruins along the way.  The rivers have flooded several times and everything near the banks is foundation only

This was a cotton mill that used the power of the river to run the plant. It's on Virginius Island (no longer an island, really, in the Shenandoah River.

Along the Shenandoah

Pond on the way back to the visitor center.

The path back to the visitor center is slightly sloping until you get to the very end, then it's really uphill.  Guess I should have done the hike down and the bus back up.  Got to learn to plan better.

All around a very cool place and with many more hiking trails than I took the time to explore.

I'm meeting my dad in DC in a few days so I'll mosey along, taking short hops between towns.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Twelve Score and One Year Ago

September 21 - 22, 2017

I know nothing about history but I'm finding that visiting the parks is giving me incentive to learn.  The National Battlefields and Military Parks have been amazing in that they work very hard at presenting a non-slanted viewpoint, emphasizing the good and bad things done by both sides.  Gettysburg is more focused on the North but I think that's because the army's were in a collected area while Southern troops were spread around the Northern horseshoe.

I never saw this guy but his license plate is from Washington State. Not sure if he's on a big summer adventure or living in his Scamp.

Veterans from many wars are buried at Gettysburg.

Civil War soldiers are marked by strips of concrete. Many have names, many are just numbers. All are Union soldiers, the Rebels are buried all over the area.

I guess this guy's regiment was known so he got a place with his compatriots.

I did one Ranger talk and went to the cemetery but couldn't muster the energy for much more than that.  Pennsylvania was about 15 degrees hotter than normal and there is no shade anywhere near the parking areas.  I took the sweaty kitties back to Walmart and parked in the shade provided by a giant RV in the lot.  

All good things come to an end, even batteries. I thought maybe I was parked in the shade too long and the battery couldn't charge enough to manage the refrigerator overnight but no, even getting the battery up to full charge didn't provide enough juice to keep things cold.

Oh well.Thankfully Walmart has all kinds of batteries and the lovely gentlemen were kind enough to hoist that heavy thing into the compartment for me and hook it up.  Everything seemed to work after the operation and I'm assuming we are good to go.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Pinchot Leaves His Mark

September 18 - 21, 2017

Gifford Pinchot was against the formation of many National Parks, wanting instead to create areas that would be "managed" rather than "preserved".  Thankfully others saw the value in not cutting down trees in say, Yosemite, but clear-cutting in many National Forests is due to his policies.  Bainbridge Island had a Graduate Institute (recently acquired by Presidio) started by his grandson who has the same name and all I knew about the man was that he did believe in sustainability - balanced with usability.

Turns out that Pennsylvanians know all about the guy, seeing as how he was governor of Pennsylvania for eight years.  He also has a nice park named after him.

Needing some time in the dirt I decided to stay a couple nights at his park and regroup. It was delightfully empty in the middle of the week and the camping areas are surrounded by super-easy walking trails.  When I eventually got a map from a helpful park ranger I saw that there was also a trail that circumvented the lake in the middle of the park.  Cool!  Eyeing the scale on the little map and making some guesses about twistyness of trails I figured the route was four, maybe five miles around.

I totally need to stop guessing about things.

About halfway 'round I was thinking that this had maybe not been the smartest decision but by that point I was 1) half way through so turning around wouldn't have been all that helpful and 2) in the middle of the woods, far away from any more helpful park rangers that could give me lift back to the campground.

Happily there was a vending machine at a day-use area around the back-side of the lake and I chugged something with sugar to recover a bit of energy.  Then I checked the time, looked at how much farther I needed to go, and tried to remember what time the sun set.

Then I hustled.  Getting caught in the woods in the dark was not high on my list of experiences that I was looking to do.  The path on this end of the lake was not as steep as at the first end and I made reasonable time, huffing and puffing much of the way until reaching the campground road.  Where, of course, I realized how much my feet hurt.

I made it back to the camper a good half hour before sunset and had plenty of time to hobble to the shower and sort out just how many blisters I had on my toes.  Bah.  But hell, I just did a 9.2 mile hike!  Woot!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Central PA

September 8 - 14, 2017

The park was a long day and I stopped for the night at a small Walmart with a big view.  I don't know why people prefer to pay to sleep when spots like this are all over the country.

One place I've always wanted to see is Centralia PA. There isn't much there to see after 55 years of fire burning the coal seam.  Most of the town residents moved out in the 80s when the air became dangerous to breathe and sink holes began opening up. Sometime in the 90s most of the homes were demolished with 10 or so families refusing to leave.  All that's left are the streets that are slowly crumbling and vacant, overgrown lots.  Actually looked like a good place to stop for the night but I hadn't checked into the legality of that so I didn't stay.

Next stop was Harrisburg to meet a friend and her amazing twins.  Had a blast with them at Fort Hunter.

Although the sunset at Harrisburg was amazing,
I needed water and some time in the trees.  Next stop: Another State Park,