Sunday, September 25, 2011

Taking the Lincoln Highway home

In keeping with my desire to travel the backroads rather than Interstate highways whenever possible, I decided to take the Lincoln Highway (US Route 30) most of the way back home to Chicago.

The Lincoln Highway through Pennsylvania is a wonderfully “authentic” road with many of the farms, forests, and small towns virtually unchanged since the road was new nearly 90 years ago.  It was foggy in some of the higher elevations, and fall colors were beginning to show on the foliage.

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As I got closer to Pittsburgh, the sun peeked out from the clouds briefly to create this pretty rainbow over a Lowe’s store.

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I’d never been to Pittsburgh before but it looked like a really interesting town.  I was losing daylight by the time I’d cleared the traffic jam into downtown so could only catch a few shots as I drove through.
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By the time I reached the tiny panhandle section of West Virginia, it was dark.  I continued on to my stop for the night—a Wal-Mart in the central Ohio town of Coshocton.

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The next morning, I passed through a few Amish farms in central Ohio.  This was an interesting placement for a buggy warning sign (beneath an electric tower!)
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But soon enough, I saw a few buggies on the road on with folks coming and going to the bustling town of Mount Vernon.  There was a farmer’s market in the town square that I would have loved to go to… if only I could have found a parking space for my own little motorhome buggy!
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It rained buckets during my drive along US 30 through Indiana, so no pictures there.  But, as I rolled through downtown Chicago, the sun came out again… Hi-dee Ho!  Sweet Home Chicago!
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Friday, September 23, 2011

Visiting the Flight 93 National Memorial

I had recently read about Presidents Bush, Clinton, and Obama visiting the new Flight 93 National Memorial during the park’s dedication on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, and had watched a couple of movies during the 9/11 anniversary weekend about the passengers of Flight 93 who fought back against their highjackers and averted them from their likely target of the US Capitol.  Since I was planning to travel across southern Pennsylvania on the Lincoln Highway, I decided to make a stop at this newest national park site.

Flight 93 crashed in a farm field in the Laurel Highlands area of Pennsylvania near Shanksville.  The land of this small valley is now entirely owned by the Memorial Park with the exception of one hilltop where the previous owner’s barn and home are located.  The park is still so new, that the front entrance sign was still being painted when I arrived.
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Only the first phase of the park’s construction is complete, but it achieves it’s goals quite well already.  it’s a solemn, reflective, and yet very powerfully moving place.  There is currently an entrance plaza area with a building that features a small enclosed room with two large covered areas on either side.IMG_8049

Inside the enclosed room is a bulletin board where visitors can leave handwritten messages pinned to the wall.IMG_8032

Beyond the building is a long solemn black granite walkway that flanks the actual crashsite on one side, and the large open rolling hills on the other.  At the end of the walkway is a long row of tall marble slabs with the name of each passenger inscribed on each slab, appropriately called the “Wall of Names”.  A large wood gate allows family members of the passengers to walk out to the crash site itself. No other visitors are allowed on that ground.  Various personal memorials that family members had left from the recent park dedication ceremony on 9/11 were still present reminding us that these names on stones were husbands, daughters, mothers, and brothers to the many people who still love and miss them.
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On the entrance plaza are a series of signs that explain the events of this fateful flight and it’s passengers.

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There is still much more to be constructed at this park.  Fifty percent of the funding is relying on private donations.  To learn more, visit: http://www.honorflight93.org/

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Assateague Adieu

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On our last day at Assateague Island, the sun finally peaked out a bit briefly just after sunrise as Millie and I took our morning walk along the beach overlooking the Atlantic.

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Millie enjoyed romping around and dipping her toes in the surf--
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We returned to the RV for breakfast and to work the rest of the day.  Ah, work is so much easier when doing it from the beach in my favorite lounge chair!
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I kept my eye on the weather throughout the day and by late afternoon, a flash flood advisory had been issued for the island, all of Delmarva, as well as the Baltimore-DC area.  A very large group of storms to the south were planning to dump up to 3-4 inches of rain on the area overnight.  Since I was camping without hookups anyway, I decided I had better not stay the night and had better leave before dinner to make my way inland before the storms arrived.

I got the rig packed up, toad hitched up, and we made a brief stop at the dump station.  The ponies had not been through the campground all day, but they instinctively trotted into the dump station as if to tell me farewell and happy travels.
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On my way out, I stopped in Ocean City for dinner and lucked into a wonderful place called Waterman’s Seafood Company where I had a delicious, traditional Maryland dinner of Crabcakes and Hush Puppies.  Honestly the best crabcakes I’d ever had in my whole life!

It started raining as we left to drive across the Delmarva peninsula.  The long Bay Bridge that connects Delmarva to the landlocked side of Maryland near Annapolis was something I was very glad I drove across at night—it was a number of miles long, and except for the tallest portion (which was a suspension bridge with concrete guard rails), the rest of the bridge just had open metal guard rails…yikes!

We made our way through Baltimore and spent the night at a Wal-Mart in Frederick, thankfully out of much of the storm’s path.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Paddling with Ponies

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Remember the movie “Dances with Wolves” about the guy who lived surrounded by wolves?  Well, my couple of days living on Assateague Island surrounded by wild ponies seemed like a similar experience.  This island is certainly theirs and we humans must abide by their rules!  But in return, they’ll let us camp on their island, use their beach, paddle their bay, and take lots of pictures of them!

The road to Assateague Island was tree-lined and curvy:
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The bridge over the bay is the only way to get on/off the island other than via boat.
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The island is home to a Maryland state park as well as the national seashore park and a small herd of ponies greeted us immediately as we reached the island:
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I also spotted two miniature deer that looked very similar to the Key Deer I’d seen on Big Pine Key in Florida last winter:
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We had a spectacular campsite right on the ocean beach at the National Seashore campground.  No hook-ups, but since the temperature was in the low 70’s and upper 60’s each day, we didn’t need heating or cooling.  To top it off, I had great cell and internet signals from here so it was a great place to work from the beach!
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But first, Millie had to walk the boardwalk and check that beach out!  She doesn’t like to swim in oceans, but she certainly likes to run in and out of the waves!

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We enjoyed a pretty sunset sky on our first night on the island.
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With no electricity, it got very dark on the island at night.  I took Millie out for her final walk before bedtime and used my big flashlight.  As we walked the camp road, I saw a small white object crawling sideways across the road….it was a crab!  I must have scared it half to death by pointing a flashlight at it!  Millie was rather curious too--- never had seen a crab on her evening walks before!

It rained most of the second day we were on the island, but there was a brief reprieve in the late afternoon, so I decided to get quickly over to the bay to go kayaking before the next wave of rain came in.  Only one problem…a herd of ponies decided to come visit the campground and were determined to block every single car in the campground from leaving!  (they actually were so fun to watch no one wanted to leave).

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This little gal decided to call my campsite home for a while:
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Finally, I decided I had to make a run for it.  I started the car and began to back up.  Ut oh, rats!, blocked by a pony behind me!
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Ok, well I’ll just drive forward to get out of here….neyyy!!!  Think again yellow car!!!
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These ponies actually seemed to be laughing at me… ha ha, camper, we own ya now!!!

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Well, after this bit of horse play, they finally let me go on my way.  The bayside boat launch was wonderful, and Millie and I were on the water fairly quickly to go check out another herd of ponies grazing on a small island.
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These ponies are good swimmers too and think nothing of swimming over to another island if the food looks more appealing.
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There were lots of egrets enjoying the marshland as well:
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The clouds began to roll in so we had to paddle back to shore and call it a day, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable hour on the water…and very glad the ponies allowed us to do so!

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