Tuesday, August 22, 2017

We Are… Strolling Around the Penn State U. Campus…


One of our quests while we have been full timing has been to visit the many large colleges and universities in our country. When we started to look for where we wanted to head next we felt we just had to go to State College Pennsylvania and see Penn State University (PSU). From Gettysburg PA we headed north for around 118 miles and pulled into the 7 Mountains Campground just a few miles south of State College PA.


We will only spend two nights as the RV park is on the very expensive end to us at $42.50 per night but we figured we could see all we wanted to in the day and half we would be here. We hit the ground running the first day as we drove all around State College to get a feel for what we wanted to do and what we wanted to see.


First up for us was the PSU arboretum and botanical gardens which was a great spot to visit all by itself. We walked all around it while enjoying all the flowers that were blooming as the bumble bees were really working them over. We even spotted a solitary bunny enjoying itself while feasting on the horticultural bounty.


Afterward we checked out Otto’s Brewery where we sat at the bar and ended up chatting with a very nice fellow who played college football and then got into sales. Before he left he told us several must sees in the area and even bought us a round of beer!


The next day we drove over to the free parking at the PSU arboretum and  found a marsh meadow walkway over to the main campus. The night before we downloaded a walking tour from the university website. PSU is a rather large sprawling campus and most of the buildings are composed of a similar red brick exterior. Although it is not the most scenic of campuses we have visited, it is steeped in history as it was founded in 1855 and it has the largest dues paying alumni association in the USA. Impressive!


The campus was bustling with activity since it was move in day for the students. Many of the 46,500 enrolled students and their parents were everywhere but we still enjoyed our leisurely stroll about the campus. The most impressive building we came across was the one called Old Main. Of course we had to take the obligatory pictures of all those new to the campus so we posed before the Nitany Lion statue (their mascot).


Nittany as it turns out was derived from an Indian word and means single mountain which refers to a local landmark named Mount Nittany where it was said that mountain lions once roamed. We also had been told by several people to visit the on campus Berkley Creamery so we made sure to share a pint of their Death by Chocolate ice cream (yum).


Of course we had to tour the athletic facilities as well and the PSU football stadium sits atop a small hill and is quite impressive. We sure wished it had been open to the public so we could have seen it inside. Nonetheless we still enjoyed our walking tour of PSU but it was time to leave and head home. Next up for us is a return visit to a very nice COE park near Tioga PA called Ives Run.


NOTE: We leave to Ives Run COE park near Tioga PA tomorrow morning. Then we move into New York for stops in Brewerton, Ogdensburg and East Chazy.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Road Trip to Hanover PA…


Our last day in Gettysburg we decided to do something different. We were planning to drive over to Codorus State Park for a nice hike. One thing we love about Pennsylvania is that the state parks have no entrance fees so visitors can check any of them out at no cost.


As we started looking for hikes we discovered that Codorus State Park also has the most challenging disc golf course in the state. Even more surprising is there are 54 holes of disk golf spread over three courses. We couldn't resist the challenge so instead of hiking we decided to spend the day playing as much disc golf as we could. We played two of the courses and there were some very challenging shots as well as some extremely long holes.

We only played 9 holes on one course and then drove over to a high point to have the lunch we brought with us. Boy what a beautiful panorama we had of the lake below from our lunch spot. Afterward we finished up the other 9 holes of the first course and then played a second 18 holes on another course.


After disc golf we planned a meet up with RV friends Dan and Merlene (whom we met several times all over the USA by now). However, we still had about an hour before we were suppose to meet them so we googled what to do in Hanover and found out that they were the snack capitol of the USA. So we decided to do the self guided tour of the Utz factory that makes some tasty potato chips and other snacks.


After the tour we headed over to the planned meet up spot with Merlene and Dan to a brewery in Hanover PA midway between where we were both camped. We picked Aldus Brewery since it was the highest rated brewery in Hanover. The beer was pretty good along with the complimentary pretzel sticks but the highlight was reconnecting with Dan and Merlene and sharing all that we each did since our last encounter.


Back at the camp in Gettysburg it was time to pack up to head out the next morning. When morning came there was rain in the forecast so I studied the radar and picked a time to leave hoping to miss most of the rain predicted for the day. We made the 118 mile drive to a campground just south of State College Pennsylvania. We plan to visit Penn State while here…

NOTE: We leave State College PA today and head north to Ives Run COE park near Tioga PA for three nights. Then we move into New York for stop sin Brewerton, Ogdensburg and East Chazy.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Fighting for a Cause Close to their Hearts… Gettysburg PA


We finally did leave the Shenandoah Valley. After a short 108 mile drive north we were all set up in the Artillery Campground in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The coolest thing about the drive was the fact that in only 108 miles we had driven in the RV on roads in four states. Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.


Our first full day we made a plan to do a self guided walking tour of the old town of Gettysburg. We had done the Gettysburg National Military Park the last time we were here so we thought we would add something different this trip. Afterwards we would revisit the Military Park and drive the auto tour loop of the battlefield later in the afternoon.


Right after lunch we stopped at the Visitor’s and Convention Bureau to pick up the free guide for the walking tour of historic downtown Gettysburg. Once we had the map in hand we found the old Gettysburg Train Station to begin our walk.There were lots of Civil War era buildings along this route that were steeped in history. Some buildings still had bullet holes and artillery projectiles embedded in them. One highlight was seeing the oldest building remaining in Gettysburg which was built in 1790 and I think it looks a hell of a lot better than most homes built in the 1950’s and 1960’s.


As much as we enjoyed the walk in the downtown historic district I was looking forward to seeing the Gettysburg battlefield again. Our first trip we could literally feel the ghosts of war all around us. It was impossible not to empathize with the thousands of mothers and fathers who suffered the loss of their sons.


This time we had a much different experience not because we felt any different but given the current affairs in our country. It was eerie to be walking the fields where many young American men, both confederate and union, had fallen. Each young man was fighting for a cause he so wholeheartedly believed in. Somehow in history the civil war has been defined as simply a war over slavery but to the young men on both sides it must have been much more than that in that they laid their lives on the line.They were each fighting for a cause close to their hearts.


Walking among the Union memorials and statues felt no different to me than walking among the confederate memorials and statues. I am confused how we in America can condemn anyone for fighting for what they believe in even if we don’t agree with them and their views. Why is it that we simply can’t agree to disagree in our country anymore! Haven't we learned from the past?


I am not one to pen a political blog but I will admit to being an Independent in our political system as I see good and bad in both sides about what is just and right for our country. Today we all value our right of free speech yet it seems many of us only want it when and if the views expressed agree with our own views. Walking among the many who died fighting with other Americans makes me wonder in our current state of polarization if we aren't heading back in that historic direction.


Sorry to go off on a rant but I sure hope we think twice about taking down any of the Civil War monuments in this beautiful and serene historic park. It would be a sad day when parents can’t bring their children to see the statues and explain what they thought was right and wrong about the Civil War. Above all the statues should remind us of what can happen if we do not make an effort to discuss our differences to find a middle ground rather than demonizing, hating and killing one another.

NOTE: We will be in Gettysburg for another day then move on to Springs Mills, PA for a couple of days before going to Tioga, PA where we will be for the partial eclipse.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Doing Chores and Finally Leaving the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia…


It seems we just can’t leave this area. We were gearing up to leave when our friends (the owners of this farm) came back to see us and to tackle some farm projects. It sure was fun reconnecting with them as we haven’t seen them for about two years. Heck this is even the first time in over six years that I used a lawn mower and a weed eater! We also really enjoy working alongside them helping with their chores. This is just such a beautiful place to be.


From time to time the owners think about maybe selling and this year they want to go ahead have a realtor to come by to give them an estimate of what it might sell for. It will be a sad day for them if indeed it does sell. Heck, it will be a sad day for us as we have stayed here every other year when we come out east. It is a lot of acreage with a couple of home away vacation rental farm houses on the property, thus a lot to manage… They love it here so really it will probably have to be just the right price and the right buyer for them to be able to let her go.


In the afternoons after chores we took a several visits over to Winchester Virginia and near Washington DC. One afternoon a brewery called Escutcheon Brewing Company called to us. They had a very good Nitro Stout that Sharon liked and I enjoyed both of their IPA’s. Afterward Jerry and Kathleen suggested we go out to eat at a tasty little Thai place that they loved called Chopsticks Cafe.


We ordered up a spicy rice and chicken dish along with some spring rolls while they ordered up some sushi. Everyone shared a little so we could all taste each others dishes. Man oh man was this a good Thai food place. It had been a while since we had some good Thai food so this was indeed a pleasant surprise and a real road treat.

We did make a brewery run on the way to Washington DC and the star of that day was a brewery called the Dirt Farm Brewing in Bluemont Virginia. Not only was this former hunting lodge serving up some very good brews they had the best views from the brewery of any we have ever visited. If you are ever anywhere near this cool little road treat you must stop in for a cold brew with a view…


Another afternoon after doing quite a bit around the farm Jerry and I slipped off to the nearby Backroom Brewery in Middleton Virginia. This is a unique farm brewery which infuses most of their beers with herbs. I like their red IPA infused with red basil and they have a very good oatmeal stout. However, the star of their beers turned out to be their version of a New England IPA made with Citron Hops. This was as good as any IPA I have had. Yummy….


SO here we are again planning on leaving the farm on Monday and heading north somewhere. Let’s see if this time we actually leave….

NOTE: We have extended our stay here in the Shenandoah Valley soon we will make our way north from here.