Monday, August 10, 2009
First picture: me in front of Ft Ligioner
picture 2: clowning at Ft Necessity
picture 3: dinner destination: A haunted mid 1700s tavern in Bedford, Pa
picture 4: the house where i was born i n Pittsburgh. Pine tree behind me was one of our Christmas trees.
picture 5: an old Schellsburg, Pa house
pictures 6-10 at Chestnut Ridge Union Cemetary, Schellsburg, Pa.
We're back from our first ten day road trip in the Winnebago. We went up I75 from Orlando through Florida, Georgia, South and North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland into the Laurel and Allegheny mountains of Pennsylvania, which was our destination. The reason for the trip, as you probably remember from earlier posts, was to keep my promise to inter my mother's ashes in the historic Schellsburg Cemetary where her people have been buried since colonial times.
It was wonderful in the mountains! No biting bugs (except horse flies in Virginia), cool nights in the low 60s, very little rain, misty mornings, breathtaking scenery, friendly people. We enjoyed seeing the wildlife: eagles and hawks, owls, deer, beaver, wild turkeys, rabbits, gophers, groundhogs, chipmunks, and red squirrels. I got to see lightning bugs again in the evenings when we stopped at the various KOA and Jellystone camp resorts. The dogs loved their nightly campground walks in the woods.
After the burial and searching the Chestnut Ridge Union Cemetary for family grave sites and viewing the old church, built in 1806, we explored the picture postcard towns of Schellsburg and Bedford. (Could be stand ins for Stars Hollow, Gilmore Girls fans)We spent the next day at Old Beford Village, a recreated colonial town of 37 authentic buildiings, and had dinner at the Jean Bonnet Tavern circa 1756 which was a stagecoach stop on the first National Highway (toll road) built by George Washington during the French and Indian War. The tavern is certifiably haunted. So was the log and fieldstone house adjacent to our campsite in the Shawnee Sleepy Hollow Campground. The owner told me he had to have the ghost exorcized when it assulted his teen age son, apparently over a choice of loudly played music.
We drove the historic route to Ligonier where we spent part of the next day touring Ft Ligioner (French and Indian War again) and went on to Pittsburgh where we visited the house in Upper St Clair township that my Daddy built after WWII. We lived there from my birth until I was 11. The house in good shape and not too much changed, although the woods that once bordered it are developed. The giant Scotch pine and Blue spruce trees that form a grove in the front yard are our former small Christmas trees!! Old' red dog' driveway has been paved but we saw a ground hog skulk down it to disappear around the garage.
Danny was interested in seeing the neighborhood since I've written so much about it in my Birdy Grace and Annie stories. The wall I fell over into the 'Bundy's' driveway is gone as is the shed I was once locked in by a neighbor boy. The woods of the story The Clearing are no more and the old Baldesberger and Hayes farms are gone, having become upscale housing areas. My 'arch enemy' Ricky's house is just the same.
We reflected that Western Pennsylvania is indeed 'guns and Bible' land. From my point of view, as a Pennsylvanian, that is not at all a bad thing. Outside of the big progressive city (Pittsburgh) area we spotted few Barnes and Nobles or Starbucks. Instead, a whole bunch of mom and pop restaurants, lots and lots of working farms of planted corn and dairy cattle, and every town no matter how tiny had a roadhouse bar, a pizza place, and a soft serve ice cream stand. It is also beautiful countryside. Nothing is flat for the most part. We enjoyed driving along a road to suddenly spot a colonial log cabin with split rail fence or an early 18th century farmhouse. Most are still inhabited.
We camped that night high in the hills above Washington Pa, south of Pittsburgh proper where we saw my Daddy's college (Washington and Jefferson) and toured the circa 1760s house that belonged to the leader of the Whiskey Rebellion ( Bradford house) and the early 1800s house belonging to Dr Lemoyne which was the first stop on the Underground Railroad. After that, we moved on through the scenic Laurel Highlands route to stay at a Jellystone Park in Mill Valley (Ohiopyle State Park area) that made me feel like I was in the film Dirty Dancing. They had an outdoor theatre, a fishing lake, a teen dancing pavillion, three pools, a log flume ride, a miniature golf course, a train ride, hayrides, and cabins for rental. The place was humongus! People were making smores and having fun and it was obvious that most were there for a week's vacation. Near the campground in Bear Run is the amazing Frank Lloyd designed house Fallingwater. After seeing Fallingwater we moved on to see FT Necessity (More French and Indian War) and the Mount Washington Tavern built by George Washington. Did you know he was one of the major whiskey distillers in Colonial America? Not just a surveyor, soldier, General, President, and plantation owner. GW was a man of many parts.
By the way ,up in Western Pa, the name 'GW' refers to George Washington, not George Bush. If you're Pennsylvania born, you pronounce it George Wershington.
After Pennsylvania, we took the mountain route home through West Virginia, which wins my personal award for most beautiful mountains I've ever seen. Loved shopping for West Virginia craft items too. Danny got vertigo driving the hairpin turns three thousand feet up. We counted 50 deer in one ten minute period. It was memorable and I'd go back there in a minute. But not in n January!
I took about seven hundred pictures and have posted a very few here. I will post more in coming days. I am tired and glad to be home but miss the hills, mountains and cool cool air. Florida is too damn hot.