Friday, May 30, 2014

I'm in Internet "time out" and travel day tomorrow

Location: Lampe Marina and Campground; Erie; Pennsylvania

This post is coming from the public library in Erie. PA because I have exceeded my data amount on my hotspot. They will allow me access for 90 minutes for $1.00 since I'm not a resident. My hotspot data will reset on the 1st of the month. It surprised me when the hotspot quit working. I thought it was broken because I hadn't even come close to using up my monthly allotment of data in the past. But when I called to find out what was wrong they politely told me I used all of my data. I then remembered, that I had not been in a campground with Wifi in a while. That meant I had used by data to back up my laptop with Carbonite, watched a few TV shows on Hulu and Skyped with Brittanie and Livie. Lesson learned, shouldn't happen again.

Anyway, there won't be any pictures on this post because I'm not sure how I would upload them on this public machine. I mainly wanted to post so some people wouldn't think I was in a ditch somewhere. If all goes right, I should be back online after June 1st. I don't remember if the campground I'm headed to next has Wifi or not. I'll check after making this post. My next campground will be Four Mile State Park in New York. It is located on Lake Ontario and is within easy exploration distance of Niagara Falls. I should be there tomorrow afternoon and plan to stay thru the middle of the week.

Once I get out of "time-out", I'll back up and post the pictures and exploration info from this area.

Ya'll take care of each other and I'll Cya down the road.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A two master, a lighthouse and a selfie

Location: Lampe Marina and Campground, Erie, Pennsylvania

Erie is the home port of the brig, U.S. Niagara. A brig is a two-masted, square sail ship. The original Niagara was built in 1813 at Erie, PA for use on the Great Lakes. It was built
U.S. Niagara outbound
just in time to participate in the War of 1812 against the British (again). She served as Commodore Perry's flagship when his fleet captured the British Fleet in the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812. It is the battle where Perry famously says, "We have met the enemy and they are ours". His victory removed all British influence on the Great Lakes thereby helping to ensure an American victory in the war.

Today the U.S. Niagara (reconstructed) serves as a museum piece and a training ship for Coast Guardsmen being trained
U.S. Niagara inbound

in the art of square sail seamanship. The campground I'm staying at is next to the seawall channel connecting Presque Isle Bay and Lake Erie. The Niagara passes through that channel on her way to and from the Lake. Yesterday I
U.S. Niagara
was lucky enough to catch her in both directions. As I was leaving the campground for the day's exploring, she was outbound. Later in the afternoon, after exploring a few things I stopped of at the health food store Walmart on my way back to the campground. As I was pulling in to the campground, there she was again, on her way back to port. 

She sails mostly on Lake Erie which is the shallowest of the five Great Lakes  at an average depth of only 62 feet compared to the next shallowest at 195 feet for Lake Huron.
Freedom on the left, lighthouse in the distance

It is said the Great Lakes were dug out about 10,000 years ago by the retreating glaciers from the last Ice Age. They were filled up by the melting glaciers. Some glaciers were miles in thickness. I wonder what caused that global warming? Twenty one percent of all surface fresh water in the world is contained in the Great Lakes. Impressive. 

I went to the Presque Isle State Park located on the peninsula of land that juts out into Lake Erie. The farthest point of the
Lighthouse at the end of the seawall
isle is the opposite seawall for the channel that runs by my campground. I tried to take a picture of Liberty from the opposite side but I was too far away and didn't have my fancy camera. I did get some pictures of the automated lighthouse at the end of the seawall. This lighthouse guides ships to and thru the channel during the night and bad weather. Just looking at the lake it is hard to believe it is freshwater and not an ocean. Also on the isle is a small bay where several houseboats anchor up. I was told that people live on the houseboats and
Houseboat neighborhood
use a smaller boat to go into Erie to work. Erie is also the place where their cars are parked. I'm not sure I would like to live like that. On a chilly, windy rainy day and having to run a small boat a few miles to work, I don't think so.

I also found out my cell phone, which I use to take most of the pictures for the blog has a reverse camera to be used for taking those selfies I hear about. I tried one today while I

was out at the lighthouse. The beginning of the Mr. Natural look. I'll try to take a better one, the next time. 

Ya'll take care of each other and I'll Cya down the road.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Travel Day (Emlenton, PA to Erie, PA) and Bella

Location: Lampe Marina and Campground, Erie, Pennsylvania

I moved to a new campground today. I pulled out of the Gaslight Campground around noon and arrived at Erie
Freedom and Liberty hitched to leave Gaslight Campground

around 2:00. It was an easy drive along the interstates and the new campground was easy to find. Elise agreed with my handwritten notes all the way here. She is learning. The Gaslight was a good place to just kick back and relax. They had a pretty good live band on Saturday night and Sunday night was Karaoke, with one or two really good singers. I spent a little bit of time at the neighbors campfire and was able to get a picture


of their dog. The very lovable and royal Princess Isabella Aurora, simply known by her commoner name, Bella. She was a very nice dog and her humans were nice also. I'll let ya'll try to guess her breed. Hint, the breed was in the movie Must Love Dogs.

The new campground is the kind I have grown to like. It is a very simple one without any of the fancy swimming pools, miniature golf, playgrounds, etc. I had reservations thru Thursday but after getting here, I extended that thru Saturday. I would have went through Sunday but someone
Freedom and Liberty at Lampe Marina and Campground

else had reserved this site for Saturday night. If I stay past Saturday, I'll have to change sites. It is a water and electric site only so I'll have to empty my holding tanks about Saturday anyway. I'll decide then to either move on down the road or change to another site. It is a good site with the evening sun on the side of the RV opposite the door. I should be able to
The view (yes, that is a lighthouse in the distance)

sit outside in the shade of the RV from about 2 p.m. until dark. I was warned not to put up my awning unless I'm close to the RV as the winds coming off the lake are unpredictable and can easily tear an awning up. I'm not right on the water, but can see the bay from my front door. The state park is on the peninsula and is suppose to be a great place to see the setting sun on Lake Erie. I'll explore it tomorrow. Erie also has a pretty good maritime museum I want to see. I think this is going to be a good place.

I read a good book titled, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker. Very good book, I recommend it.

Ya'll take care of each other and I'll Cya down the road.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A slow day and some Iron City Beer

Location: Gaslight Campground, Emlenton, PA

Yesterday was a little slow around the campground. There was an antique car show where about dozen vintage cars came to the campground. The local volunteer fire department had a fundraiser and sold hamburgers, hot dogs and their "famous" hot sausage. Being brave, I ordered the hot sausage and a water. It was tasty but not hot. The sausage was a firm beef sausage and the peppers were a mild jalapeno-type pepper. For desert I bought some pumpkin bread from their bake sale. It was good too and I should finish it off today. I forgot to take pictures of any of the events.

The neighbors on my door side is a nice young couple with two kids and large lovable dog. I got several doses of the dogs love yesterday and it was great. I think she is a Newfoundland (Newfie). I'll try to get a picture of her today.

I also fulfilled another reason for coming to this part of Pennsylvania. It was to try some Iron City Beer. My father was a beer expert and that was the brand he drank when we lived in Elizabeth, PA. After moving away, he would sometimes bring up how good the Iron City Beer was to other beer experts at picnics, BBQ's, etc. Of course, for some a lot most of my Navy time I was a beer expert as well. My favorite was Carlsburg which I was only able to find in Denmark. I never saw it anywhere else and after I got married, my beer expert days ended. They ended after my oldest son saw me a little tipsy and the next day asked "what happened to me." It was then that I realized after drinking, we become other people. I didn't like the idea of my children having to deal with more than one of me so I only drank very modestly and infrequently after that. One drink a year was enough for me.

Pennsylvania is a strange state when it comes to buying alcohol. You have to buy wine and liqueur in a special store and beer from a distributor. When I asked at the campground office where I could buy some beer, wouldn't you know it but the owner is a beer distributor. He told me where his place was and off I went. Once I got there I learned that the minimum quantity they sell is by the case or keg. I asked

where I could get a six pack and he pointed to a bar down the hill. I said, "the one with the welcome bikers sign"??? He sort of laughed and said "yep, they will get you hooked up". Hooked up? I hadn't ever considered buying a six pack, getting hooked up. I was hoping "six pack" wasn't code for something else. I walked in the bar about 1:00 p.m. and it was dark as a cave inside. There were about 6 or 8 people sitting around the bar nursing their drinks. Pittsburgh Steelers and Pirates stuff hung everywhere. Did I happen to mention I was wearing my New Orleans Saints hat?? The bartender behind the bar said, "what'll it be?". I told her the guy up the hill said I could get a six pack of Iron City Beer here and she said, you sure can honey, for 8 dollars. I paid her and left before people noticed the hat. I like the Saints, but not to the point of bar fighting for them.

Once back at the campground and knowing I didn't need to drive anywhere else, I cracked open a bottle. I said to myself, "this one is for you Dad". It was smooth and good. I understood what my father had told people over the years. It was surprising that such a good beer would be brewed locally. 

The one I drank was in honor of my father. The five I poured down the drain was in honor of my mother who never liked my father's drinking.

Tomorrow is a travel day and I look forward to getting into a place with more things to explore.

Ya'll take care of each other and I'll Cya down the road.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Travel day (Rockwood, PA to Emlenton, PA)

I am in the Gaslight Campground in Emlenton, PA. I got lucky and someone canceled so I was able to get a nicer pull-thru site at the same price as the narrow back-in site in the far back of the campground which was originally mine. It is a nice, grassy, level spot with shade trees on each side. 
Freedom and Liberty before unhitching

There is a very good restaurant at the truck stop about a mile down the road. I had all-you-can-eat fish for supper. The fish was Pollock. It wasn't too bad.

Liberty waiting for me to get back from supper
The weather held off for the most part. There were a few wind gusts that got Liberty swaying a little bit, but once I slowed Freedom down a little, everything came back in line.
It is a scary feeling though when those gusts hit you right out of the blue. I was able to get the picture above to show the clouds. Most of the time I was watching the trees on the side of the road to see if they started moving, at least I would have a little bit of warning about the wind.
I did have a happy spot on the trip. It was in the town of Warrenton, PA. Along the interstate, the local firemen and policemen set up boom with a giant American flag flying over the interstate. The men and women were standing in formation on the grass at the interchange. I honked and they
all waved with the leader of the squad saluting. As I passed under the bride, the fire department rescue unit was parked on the bridge and the men and women were lined up by it. I honked again and got the same reaction. It was great, really great. I grabbed the camera quickly but it is a blurry picture. I'm posting it here simply to remember it. It was a nice surprise and made my day.
There isn't much to do in this area and I'm only staying here because every other placed was booked up for the holiday. I may drive around and see if I can find some photo ops, but other than that, I'll just be hunkered down here until the holiday is over.
I hope your Memorial Day weekend is great.
Ya'll take care of each other and I'll Cya down the road.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Random Thoughts and Things

Location: Hickory Hollow Campground; Rockwood, PA

1) Tomorrow is travel day and today was laundry day. This campground only has one washer/dryer so I went into town to the wash-a-teria. The machines only took a card that you had to buy there, no quarters. That works good if you are a regular customer and can use the card on each trip. I bought a card and put $10.00 on it since it used to cost me about $15.00 a week back in Shreveport to do a week's worth of laundry. Turns out it is much cheaper here as it only took $8.00 to do everything. On the way out, I gave the card to a lady who looked like she could use it.

2) I have reservations at Gaslight Campground in Emlenton, PA for Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday night. The campground doesn't look too bad on Google Earth and I feel lucky I was able to find a place on such short notice before a major holiday weekend. The guy on the phone said he would put me up in one of their seasonal sites since all the traveler sites were full. He said, "you will have to back it in". I said "ok, is it clear backing or are there trees everywhere". He said, "it is mostly clear." Feeling thankful that I had a spot at all, I didn't pursue the conversation anymore and will find out tomorrow what the space looks like. The old saying, "Any port in a storm" is appropriate now.

3) Since I was in the reservation mood, I went ahead and reserved a campsite at Lampe Marina and Campground in Erie, PA for next Monday thru Thursday. It is in a marina off of Lake Erie. You would think a place would be super expensive, but it is as cheap or cheaper than most of the campgrounds I've stayed. Apparently, it is owned by the parish county and they keep the rates low. It looks nice and if I like it I may extend through the following Sunday. This is one of those that was booked solid for this weekend.

4) While I was riding around I took a picture of a truck escape ramp. They are located on long down grades and if a truck loses his brakes, he hits the ramp and the deep sand/aggregate stops him. I took the pic on the fly as I was driving by it.
Truck escape ramp

5) The wind is blowing hard here this afternoon. I just checked the wind conditions for tomorrow while I'm traveling and I need to be at the campsite by 1 or 2 to avoid strong wind gusts. At least I'll be on Interstate if the winds pick up too bad. We will see.

6) While I was finding the escape ramp picture I found an old picture of a sunset back on January 22, 2014 when I was camped at the Red River South Marina. I think it looks pretty good so I figured I would post it.
Red River South Marina Campground (1/22/14)
I didn't crop out the highway cone because I think it adds to the picture. Those are the sunsets I'm looking for but haven't been able to see many yet.
7) Some people have asked what camera I'm using to take the pictures. Most of the pictures are taken by my cell phone. It is a Nokia Lumina Icon with a 20 megapixel camera. I like it a lot because it is always handy in my shirt pocket. I've been satisfied with the quality of pictures it takes so I haven't been using my fancy one much at all.
8) I haven't turned the TV on in weeks. I look at the Drudge Report online to see any interesting news. I also watch a couple of my favorite shows online through Hulu. I usually wait until I have a strong Wifi connection at a campground to watch those shows so I don't use up my data from my hotspot. Surprisingly, I haven't missed the TV much at all. I used to have it on all the time but now I know it was mainly just to have some background noise in the apartment/house.
9) Thanks to everyone who left comments on the posts. The feedback really helps with the blog.
10) Freedom got here oil changed, tires rotated and a 16 point check-up at a Ford dealer I drove by on the way to Elizabeth the other day. I told the service woman that I was traveling around the country and needed my truck serviced but couldn't wait around very long. She took care of me and I was back on the road about 45 minutes later. Good people are everywhere just waiting to be found.
11) I'll probably be laying low for the weekend, trying to stay out of the way of the holiday people. I'll drive around and see what I can see.
Ya'll take care of each other. Cya down the road.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

An old home place and a Dam

A lot of family history is needed to put today's adventure into perspective. When I was two years old, my father went to work for Al Johnson Construction Company. They were a heavy construction company whose home office was in Minneapolis, Minnesota and specialized in the construction of large bridges and dams. They did work all over the country. Some of their Louisiana projects were the I-10 Bridge over the Atchafalaya River (not the basin), the U.S. 190 Bridge at Krotz Springs and the rehabilitation of the Old River Structure near Simmsport.

Going to work for Al Johnson, must have been a very hard decision for my father and mother to make. They had been married about 13 years at the time and had 3 children whose ages were 12, 7 and the "baby" of the family, yours truly, was 2. My mother was raised in east Texas and my father had moved there as a teenager. All of their extended family lived within a 40 mile radius. My father was working for a Concrete Redi-mix company in the Port Arthur, Texas area. He had worked his way up from a concrete truck driver to a truck foreman in charge of a fleet of concrete trucks. As fate would have it, Al Johnson Construction Co. had contracted with the concrete company on one of their projects. It was on that project, that lasted several months, that my father was introduced to the Al Johnson people. The supervisors and engineers of the project were impressed enough with my father that at the conclusion of the project, they offered him a job with the company as a Concrete Superintendent. The easy part of the decision was the money and promotional opportunities which were far greater than at the concrete company. The hard part would be knowing that it meant moving around the country from project to project. East Texas was all they had known. The kicker of the decision was the first project was in Mobridge, South Dakota and winter was coming soon. My parents said the first paycheck went to buying parka's and boots.

My parents were in their early and mid 30's. My father never said, and unfortunately I never asked, why they decided to take the job. We will never know the reason since both have since passed away. I like to think they took it for the adventure of seeing new things and places. They definitely saw a lot and the promotional opportunities were there as he ended his career with the position of Project Superintendent/Project Manager. During their career with the company, they had moved 21 different times, finally settling down in Lafayette, Louisiana. My older brother, by 10 years, got off the "ride" after move number 5 in Russellville, Arkansas while my older sister, by 5 years, stopped moving after move number 12 in Lafayette, Louisiana. As for the baby of the family, I got off the ride in Cape Girardeau, Missouri (move number 15). But my traveling days continued because I joined the U.S. Navy at age 17 and saw many parts of the world. My parents continued on, with an empty nest, for another 6 moves before their retirement. I guess towards the end, after us kids quit traveling with them, they simply didn't need as many moving boxes. Growing up, it was understood that moving boxes were important and we kept every good one we could find. To this day, every time I see a well made cardboard box, I immediately think, "that would be a good moving box" and have a hard time throwing it away.

Moving orders from the company to pack up and move to another location came about every 1 1/2 years. Sometimes we were only given a couple of weeks to pack up everything we owned and move a thousand miles away. Several times, my father had to go ahead of us to help set up the construction project and the burden would then fall to my mother to make the arrangements for a moving van and getting everything packed up and ready to go. The company was a family owned company and treated their employees like family. On a typical project, there would be about a dozen company people and the rest of the work force would be hired locally. About half of the company people on the project were Civil Engineers and the rest were craft superintendents or general superintendents. They depended on each other and treated each other with respect. It was a good company that was a surrogate family to many of their employees. The company changed drastically at the end of my father's career. Other members of the owners family had taken charge  of the company and could not or would not understand the importance of the family oriented work structure of the company. I had an opportunity to go to work for the company when I graduated college with a Civil Engineering degree. Due to the changes that were happening in the company, and my desire to provide a stable place where my children could go to school in the same town from kindergarten thru high school, I passed. I wanted something for my children that I never had, and that was childhood friends. Friends who you knew all of your life and who you could talk to about things that happened years and years ago. Friends who knew secrets on you and you on them. Friends who you would eventually celebrate graduation, marriage, and child birth. Friends who you could lean on when that pretty girl down the street broke your heart or a loved one had passed. Just as I know my mother and father made the correct decision for us kids by going to work for the company and move around the country, I hope my wife, at the time, and I made the correct decision to go the other way and try to put down roots in one place for our children. Even though it is always said that we live with the decisions we make, the children must also live with those decisions. 

Anyway, one of those houses is in Elizabeth, Pennsylvania, which is not too far from me so I thought I was check it out. In the pictures, it is the first house on the left as you go
First house on the left
Looking up the hill
up the hill. It is beige/light colored brick. Still in very good condition for it to be 50 to 60 years old. I was 8 years of age when we lived there and I remember Batman was the big thing on TV and it was not the dark version of Batman that is in today's movies. I camped outside for the first time as a Cub Scout there and cooked pancakes for breakfast on an empty upside down coffee can. On Halloween the kids would go around the neighborhood and throw dried corn on the picture windows of the houses. It sounded like a shotgun going off inside and scared the crap out of us the first time we heard
Looking down the hill
it. I joined in that fun later. The hill we lived on was ideal for using the skateboards we made out of old metal skates and a piece of wood. None of those fancy skateboards that are in the stores now-a-days existed at that time. Mostly we sat down or laid down on the board because it was far to
That's the house on the right almost to the bottom
dangerous and stupid, even to crazy kids, to do it standing up. At the bottom of the hill, there was no way to stop except to go right across the intersecting road and crash into the grass. You had to hope your friends were watching out for traffic and if traffic was coming you would steer off to the side and crash into one of the yards. Skateboarding slowed down after one of the kids, his name was Raymond, couldn't stop and went under an 18 wheelers trailer. Not a scratch on him, clean as a whistle, went right under the trailer and out the other side into the grass. Not many of us would go all the way to the bottom after that.   

My older brother didn't make the move to Pennsylvania and stayed behind in Arkansas where he had graduated High School. Before we moved, my parents gave our cat away to a dairy farmer who lived on top of a mountain about 10 miles away. The story was he would be happier on the farm chasing mice and would have a good life. Apparently that happy life for Spotty didn't materialize because low and behold after we got to Elizabeth, PA, my brother called and said the cat came back and was sitting on the front porch of the old house. It had walked all the way back. Since my brother would be coming to PA to work for my father during the summer, it was decided he would bring the cat back to us, which he did. Unfortunately, it wasn't long after the cat got to PA that he got ran over on the four lane highway in front of the house. 

The dam project my father worked on was located on the Monongahela River at the town of Charlaroi. After leaving Elizabeth, I drove over to take a look. It is a large lock and
Notice how close the town is and the houses on the hills
dam right next to town. I couldn't find a good location to take a picture and the one I'm posted is the best I could do. My brother worked during the summer on that dam project as a "pump-man". It is one of the easiest jobs and is usually given to some of the old-timers who can't do hard labor anymore. The job is simply to make sure the water pumps continue to work through the night pumping water out of the cofferdams. If they stop, the cofferdam fills with water, which is not good. It didn't pay the highest scale but it was easy. He liked the money and told my mother and father that he wasn't planning on going back to college and that he would be happy working in the construction gangs. The next day he was transferred to the concrete crew that was pouring concrete at the bottom of one of the cofferdams. My father, being the Project Superintendent at the time, told the concrete foreman to make sure my brother was covered in concrete by the time the pour was over. The pour lasted most of the day. By the time it was over, my brother could barely climb the ladder out of the cofferdam because he was so tired and from the extra weight of the concrete. Sure enough the foreman did his job and my brother was covered with concrete. Lesson learned, he went back to college and graduated from Arkansas Tech. 

It seems Elizabeth was the first place where my memories are connected. I have memories before that but they are only spotty and not connected. Maybe that is a side-effect of moving around so much at such a young age, I don't know. My parents always put a lot of thought in the houses and towns we lived. My father would drive farther to get to the project in order for us to live in a better place. I can't remember a bad house or town as I was growing up. Elizabeth was a good town and neighborhood for an 8 year old, whose memories were just beginning.

It was a good day.

Ya'll take care of each other. Cya down the road.

Monday, May 19, 2014

911 Memorial and just driving around

I'm still in Hickory Hollow Campground and should be here through Thursday.

I had planned to head over to the Pittsburgh area today but got a late start because I was online and on the phone trying to find a place to camp for the Memorial Day weekend. I didn't pull out of the campground until around 11:00 so I decided to just drive around. I headed off on some smaller country roads in the general direction of the Flight 93 Memorial. After just a few miles I came upon a nice looking
restaurant. Since it was close to noon, I thought I would give it a try. I ordered a Sloppy Joe with fries and cole slaw, all for $4.50. Everything was pretty good except the cole slaw had a vinegar taste to it and the cabbage was minced instead of shredded or cubed. It was different, but good.

With full belly, I hit the road. The countryside here is very pretty. It is rolling hills with farms everywhere. As you ride
down the road you can see for miles in all directions. It is so different than Louisiana roads which are lined with pine trees. There are a lot of giant windmills on the hill tops around here. I really mean Giant too. In the picture of
the windmill, that is a real 2-story building next to it.

I also accidently ran across the factory for Snyder's of Berlin Potato Chips. Those chips have been a favorite for a special
person for a very long time.  

I entered the 911 Memorial and was very happy NOT to see any commercializing on the way inside. No vendors selling
trinkets or a Motel 6. Not even a gas station. The memorial is a simple affair.

You go along a walkway made of black stone to a white marble wall with the names of the victims carved into it.

The white wall is lined up with the flight path of the plane and a large sandstone marks the beginning of the debris field.

 The crater was 40 feet deep and was filled in after everything was retrieved. One thing I learned was "handwritten documents in Arabic describing the terrorist's plans for the attack", was found at the crash site. I had never heard of that before. Before it crashed, Flight 93 was headed to the Capitol building while both houses of Congress was in session. You can only imagine how disruptive to the country it would have been had a large percentage of Congress been killed on 9-11. We need to always remember, as bad as it was, the plan was even worse. A lot of people are acting like the terrorists just gave up and we are to start scaling back. Benghazi was a blatant terrorist attack on our country and we still have not caught the terrorists or even know exactly what happened. It's not the American way. We need to revive the "Speak softly, but carry a big stick". The people in power are forgetting. One of the best 9-11 songs is by Darryl Worley, "Have You Forgotten".

If I feel like it in the morning, I'll be heading to the Pittsburgh area.

The last picture is of the view as you are driving out of the 9-11 memorial. I wonder if some of the passengers were looking out the window and saw a similar view seconds before the crash. We must be prepared, because "like a thief in the night".

Ya'll take care of each other. Cya.

Washington (last day); move to the country

I'm camped at Hickory Hollow Campground in Rockwood, Pennsylvania. It is about 7 miles from Somerset, PA. I was thinking last night that no one that knows me knew where I was at, so I decided to put my location at the beginning of each blog post.

My last trip into Washington D.C. was to the Museum of Natural History and Chinatown. 

Neat building where I got off of the Metro. It is part of the Navy Memorial.

This was a sculpture in one of the many parks around the city. I'm sure you older more mature readers recognize the thing. Let the younger ones know what it is.

This is a pond in the middle of the Art Park. A family of ducks lives there so they have their own ramp. That would be a good idea for a dog to go in and out a window.

I went into the Museum of Natural History. It is one of the many Smithsonian branches. It is impressive as you enter the door, as you can see in the next picture.

The entrance is on the right.


This is what you see as you enter.

Lions and other animals from Africa.

Bears and reindeer from the North.

You exit the building onto the National Mall. The castle is part of the Smithsonian also. Notice the Red Cross aid tent. I'll use it as a point of reference in the next pictures.

Looking up the mall towards the Capitol.

Looking down the Mall towards the Washington Monument. Of the other side of it is the WW2 Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial. The chairs are for a commencement ceremony. I didn't find out whose it was, but it was a large class.

This was taken while sitting on a bench in front of the castle looking back at the Museum of Natural History. See the Red Cross.

This highly ornate building is one of the Department of Transportation buildings. Impressive, uh?

Chinatown. I stopped here to get something to eat. Restaurants everywhere, but no buffets. I took a chance, entered one and ordered Chicken with Garlic Sauce. It was pretty good except it had too much celery.

I pulled out of Washington around 10:00 a.m. yesterday morning. I wasn't sure in what direction I was going until the night before. It seems like I'm looking for opposites lately. Just as I went from the mountains of Cherokee, NC to the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, I decided the opposite of the big city would be the country, so I headed off towards central Pennsylvania.

That gap in the distant mountains is where the road crosses the mountains. It makes it clear how places like the Cumberland Gap got their names.

The rolling hills of the Laurel Mountain area of east-central Pennsylvania. That road is the Penn Turnpike. Cost me $10.00 to go 50 miles on it.

There is Freedom parked by herself in the empty section of the campground. Kind of symbolic of me traveling solo. According to the people the campground should be filled up by Wednesday. I'm paid up through Thursday at this campground. They are booked up tight for the Memorial Day holiday so they will kick me out Friday morning. I'm looking for a place to camp over the holidays. A lot of places are like this one, and have been booked up for weeks. I would have made reservations earlier but I didn't know where I would be located. If I can not find a campground somewhere, my other choices are truck stops and walmart parking lots. I have a couple calls out for campgrounds and they should be calling me back this morning. Hopefully I'll find a temporary home for the weekend.

The temperature got down to 34 degrees last night and the high today is predicted to be 65. Quite a spread in temperatures and a little lower at night than I wanted it to be, but it's all good.

My plans while I'm here are to see the Flight 93 memorial. Again, you more mature readers can tell the younger ones that this is the place where the plane was forced down on 9-11. The one that only hit an empty field.

My other plan is to see a house that I lived in when I was around 8 years old. It is in the small town of Elizabeth, PA just south of Pittsburgh. I've checked on Google Earth and it appears to still be there, 50 years later. I lived there for about 1 1/2 years or so while my father built the Charlaroi Dam on the Monongahela River. He was the Project Superintendent.

Well, it's 9:00 a.m. here so I'll start calling around looking for a campground. 

Ya'll take care of each other. Cya.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Monuments, Helicopter and men on building tops

It's Saturday the 17th and I'm getting ready to head into Washington for the last time. I need to use the balance on my Metro card. This post is about adventures from day before yesterday.

Being an old pro at using the Metro buses and trains, I headed to town to see the Smithsonian. The plan was to go
there and return. Everything went well with public transportation and I came out of the train exit into an area of buildings, but no streets. As I was getting my bearings, I noticed one of the buildings had the Department of Agriculture engraved on and a line of kids waiting to get inside (farmer kids, I guess). I headed off in the direction I had reckoned the Smithsonian was located. Up ahead was a couple of police officers, so just to get confirmation that I was walking in the right direction I stopped and asked them if this was the way to the Smithsonian. Surprisingly, they pointed behind me and said that way. After a little while I came to a street and
Good hot dog
directly across from it was the Smithsonian's Museum of American History. Parked on the curb was a hot dog truck with people in fancy clothes gathered around it. I figured these were workers in the area and they surely knew good local food. So I ordered a dog and some water. I sat on a short marble wall and enjoyed it before going inside.

As soon as I entered the building, it sounded like a giant middle school gym with a million kids on recess. Looking around it was a sea of different colored T-shirts. Each group of kids were wearing different colored T-shirt so they could find the herd to which they belonged. I started wandering around and saw a few interesting things, but was still being interrupted with kids. As I would be looking at an exhibit or reading something, a stampede of kids would come walking fast and it was as if I was a rock in the middle of a stream and kids were flowing by each side of me. I finally found what I was looking for which was the original flag that flew over Fort McHenry at Baltimore. The flag that Francis Scott Key saw still flying on the morning after an intensive shelling by the British in the War of 1812. The flag that prompted him to write the Star Spangled Banner. No pictures were allowed of the display which is located in a dark room. After I finished looking at the flag, I swam through the kids and headed outside.

I had intended to head back to the campground after the Smithsonian but that was when I planned to spend several
hours looking around inside. I exited the building in the direction of the Mall. The Mall is the area that runs from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol. In between is the reflecting pool, Washington Monument, World War 2 Memorial and all of them are in a straight line. The Vietnam War Memorial (TheWall) is down near the Lincoln Memorial and I wanted to see it, so I started walking. I figured I had all day to make the trip. The round
trip distance back to the Metro station would be a little over 4 miles. Quite a distance for an overweight retiree, but I money for water and a cell phone for 911, so off I went.

The first monument I came to was the Washington Monument. When it was built, it was the tallest building in the world at 555 feet. At the very top is an aluminum tip with an engraving on the east side that reads, "Praise be to God". Another testament to the founding principle of this country. The line to go inside was about 3 hours long. I passed on that adventure. While I was near the Washington
Monument, three helicopters flew overhead. All three looked like Marine One, the helicopter the President uses. As I was snapping a picture of one of the copters, a couple of older men in suits standing near me said, "they will stand up in a second" and pointed to a building on the side. Sure enough, two guys stood up, then kneeled back down. The two guys near me said, "snipers". I got a picture of the building and if you enlarge it
you can see the guys standing on the roof in the corner. The three helicopters headed to the White House which you can see from where I was standing near the Washington Monument. I guess I was Johnny-on-spot to see it all right then.

Once that excitement was over, I continued walking towards the next monument. It is the World War 2 Memorial. It is
very nice. I took several pictures. One picture is looking
over the edge of the water coming from the reflecting pool in the direction of the Lincoln Memorial. Kind of neat-o, keen-o. After wandering around the Pacific and Atlantic ends, I continued heading to The Wall. I
stopped a few times at some benches in the shade. The weather was cooperating with the temps right around 70 and a nice cool breeze blowing. I couldn't have asked for better weather while I attempted this partial marathon.

I got to the wall and it was everything I thought it would be. It is simple but poignant. Its simplicity is what invokes the
emotions. It is the perfect memorial for the Vietnam War and stands in stark contrast to the much larger and flamboyant World War 2 Memorial I had just left. All along the wall are things left my family and friends of the names on the wall. One that caught
my eye was a poster board cut-out of a baby's footprint. I don't know if it was the child from way back or a recent grandchild of the name on the wall. As you leave the wall area, there is a nice statue of 3 Vietnam era soldiers. The quality is excellent and I took a picture looking from behind them and they are
looking at the wall. It was worth the trip just to see the wall. Well done.

Keeping an eye on the wall

The Wall is near the western end of the Mall, close to the Lincoln Memorial. I didn't attempt to climb the 2,297,569

steps up to the Memorial so I took a few pictures looking at the Memorial and also towards the Washington Monument. I
Notice the Capital off to the left

had to get off of the straight line so the Capitol could be seen and not be blocked by the Washington Monument.

I continued walking. I was given a choice to walk in the sun or the shade. Being a well trained state-worker (retired), I

immediately chose the shade. I had passed the half way point and was heading back. It was all a stroll in the park, literally.
Red Winged Blackbird that checked on me while I rested

I arrived back at the Metro station and boarded the train. It was nice to sit and rest on the trip back to the campground.

It was a good day. Although it wasn't planned, I was glad I took off walking.

Ya'll take care of each other. Cya.