Monday, June 13, 2016

Kinzers-Lancaster PA

Wed (6/1) to Thur (6/9):

We arrived Wednesday afternoon at the Roamers Retreat Campground located in Kinzers PA. This is a small campground that is located in the middle of Amish country here in Lancaster County PA. We selected this site to meet up with David and Cindy Potts who we met at the RV-Dreams Fall Rally last October in Michigan. They are closing on the sale of their house next week so they have moved their New Horizons 5th Wheel to this campground as their full time house until David retires in October 2016. We were assigned to Site 65 which is located next to David & Cindy's rig. That evening all of us went to DJ's Diner which is a 50's style diner located a few miles from the campground. It reminded me of the diner from the Happy Days TV show.

Here is a photo of our rigs side by side in the campground.


Thursday we went into Lancaster PA to visit. We took a walking tour of the downtown area that was available through the Visitor's Center. The tour was lead by a local volunteer, Dale, Lancaster is one of the oldest inland cities in the USA. It was founded in the 1730's and there are a few buildings still standing from the 18th century. Lancaster was fortunate to have save a number of it's historic buildings that might have been lost due to the urban improvements done in a lot of cities during the 1960-1970's. Today in Lancaster you can stand at the city's center and see buildings from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Soon an addition to the Marriott will add the 21st century to your view. The tour lasted about two hours and Dale was an interesting and informative guide. Below are a few pictures from our tour.

2016-06-02 14.45.50

Our small tour group lead by Dale.

Soldiers And Sailors Monument -lancaster, Pennsylvania

Civil War Memorial Statue located in the center of Lancaster (Intersection of King and Queen streets).

USA - Pennsylvania - Lancaster - Lancaster Visitors Center

Visitor Center located in building erected in the 1700’s.


Central Market – the oldest continuous farmer’s market in the USA. This site has been used as a market since 1730. Current building opened in the 1850’s.

Fulton Opera House 4

Fulton Theater built in the mid 1800’s. Sits on the site of the original jail house in Lancaster and a portion of the old jail is inside the rear of this building.

Holy Trinity Church Lancaster PA

Trinity Church – established in the 1730’s. For almost 150 years the services were conducted in German.

Marriot Penn Square Lancaster

The Marriott Hotel was built around this old department store. The hotel kept the storefronts but used the inside of the building as part of the hotel.


The Marriott Hotel also enclosed the Montgomery House inside it’s facility. Montgomery was a general during the Civil War and returned to this house at the end of the war.

Thaddeus Stevens House-Law Office-Tavern

Thaddeus Stevens house/law office/tavern. Stevens was a US representative from Pennsylvania, an avoid abolitionist and helped pass the 13th and 14th amendments to the Constitution outlawing slavery and giving former slave the rights of US citizenship.

Steinman Hardware Store

The Steinman family opened a hardware store in the 19th century (one of the first in Pennsylvania). The family is now in finance, newspaper and media. The hardware store’s first floor is a restaurant called The Press Room.

On Friday Connie went shopping while I stayed home. The small towns in Lancaster County are home to a number of shops as well as several outlet malls. David and Cindy told us that the weekends in the area are packed with people who come to shop: they even bring in bus loads from the large cities up and down the east coast. Some of the towns have interesting names: Bird in Hand - Intercourse - Blue Ball - Paradise for examples.


Countryside around our campground along with a local farmer plowing his fields.

On Saturday Connie and Cindy went into Wilmington DE to visit Salon 926 to see Kervi Marioni the salon/hair stylist that Cindy uses. Connie got her hair cut while Cindy got a pedicure. David and I stayed in the campground and discussed some of the issues with full-timing in an RV. I gave him a rundown of how we connect to the internet and the setup for our DirecTV through the roof top Winegard Antenna on our roof.

It began to rain Saturday night and this continued into Sunday morning. On Sunday afternoon the sun came out and we were able to sit outside and continue our visit.

June 6th was our 13th wedding anniversary. In 2003 we got married in Vancouver BC and stayed in the city for our honeymoon. We also visited Victoria Island and Mount Whistler while we were there along with eating lots & lots of fresh seafood. It has been a great 13 years and hopefully we will have many more together.


Connie picked up this “yard sign” for our anniversary. “WHEREVER we are TOGETHER that is HOME”

Monday morning we took a trip into Philadelphia to visit some of the historic sites in the downtown area. I took a wrong turn in downtown Philly and we ended up in New Jersey: across the Franklin Bridge with no way to turn around. So we ended up having to pay a $5 toll to get back across the bridge into Philadelphia.


Franklin Bridge between Pennsylvania & New Jersey.

We found a place to park a few blocks away from the Independence Hall Visitor Center. We walked to Visitor Center, got a map of the area and then watched a short film about how several young men & women lived through the Revolutionary War. We visited the Liberty Bell, the site of the first Presidential Residence (no longer standing), Independence/Constitution Hall, the First and Second Bank of the United States, area where Ben Franklin's house stood (no longer standing) along with his shop, oldest Post Office in Philadelphia, Christ's Church and Betsy Ross' house. In Christ's Church (opened in 1744) we sat in the pew used by George Washington and his family when they were in Philadelphia. There were other pews used by the families of Ben Franklin, John Adams and Betsy Ross. At the Liberty Bell we listened to a NPS ranger give a history of the bell: it broke the first time it was ever rung and the efforts to save the bell over the years. There were several thousand school kids in the area most of them in groups wearing the same color t-shirts. We forgot that with the summer recess for school more and more people will be out traveling. Also 2016 is the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service and there is a big campaign to get people out to the national parks.



Independence Hall (originally the site of the Pennsylvania legislature).


Left: Statue honoring signers of Declaration of Independence. Right: Second Bank of the United States building.


First Bank of the United States.


Inside Ben Franklin’s printing office.

MikeMike & Connie

Betsy Ross’ house. Some claim she came up with the first flag of the United States.


This is the church pew inside Christ Church used by George Washington’s family when they were in Philadelphia.

Tuesday we hung around the campground and got the Duchess ready to travel. We did make a quick trip into Lancaster to visit the Central Market and pick up some pastries to celebrate this evening. Connie had a crab cake for lunch and bought a few other items at the market. We have an appointment with the Cummins Power Shop in Harrisburg to have the belts on the engine replaced along with diagnosis an oil leak we have developed. Cindy and David closed on the sale of their house Tuesday morning so they are now officially full timing in their RV. That evening all of us went to a local restaurant that is located in a building that looks like a steam ship. Robert Fulton, who created the first commercial steamboat in the US, in from this area. We celebrated the sale of the Pott's house along with our wedding anniversary.


We left the campground on Tuesday evening to spend the night in the Cummins Power Shop parking lot. They have 50 amp electrical hookups available and our appointment was at 7:00 AM on Wednesday. We got checked in with the office (they work 24 hours a day with three shifts in the repair shop). We maneuvered our rig into a spot and got ready for the night. They had music playing in the shop which kept Connie up most of the night (I slept through it). The next morning we left the keys with the shop and went to a Friendly's restaurant to have breakfast while they diagnosis our problems. They told us that the both belts needed replacing along with the air filter. The oil leak would involve lots of labor to replace several gaskets and O-rings inside the engine. They would work through the night to have us on the road by Thursday.

Since they would be working on the Duchess all day, we decided to visit Hershey PA, see Chocolate World and take the factory tour. It started raining on our drive (about 15 miles) from the Cummins shop to Hershey. Lots and lots of families and school groups even with the rain as we entered Chocolate World. We took the 20 minute factory tour: it is like an amusement ride that shows you how they make their chocolate candies rather than an actual tour of the factory. We then spent some time in the large shop but ended up not buying anything there. We then did some shopping at the local COSTCO before heading back to Harrisburg.

20160608_10442820160608_10444320160608_110115Mike   Hershey Chocolate World
Hershey, PA  6/8/16Connie & Mike

Since the Duchess will inside the shop on Wednesday night, we had to get a hotel room. After calling several places with very high overnight rates (summer season with lots of tourists), we found a reasonable rate at the La Quinta and booked a night. We had picked up a few items to eat for dinner and then "chilled" out for the evening. The hotel had high speed internet and we spent the evening watching shows available to us through our Amazon Prime account.

Thursday morning we visited the Pennsylvania State Capitol building in downtown Harrisburg while we were waiting for Cummins to finish up the repairs. We took a brief guided tour of the building and then walked around for a while admiring the facility. The original building had burned in the late 19th century and this capitol building was opened in 1906. Connie and I both commented that this was the most impressive capitol building we have ever been in: beautiful 23 carat gold leafing in the structure, grand paintings and chandeliers that weighed up to 4.5 tons hanging from the ceilings in the House and Senate chambers.



Around noon-time we picked up the motorhome from the shop, paid the bill (ouch!) and then headed north to our next stop: Bald Eagle State Park.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Memorial Day Weekend - Endless Caverns - New Market VA

Wednesday (May 25) to Wednesday (Jun 1):

On Wednesday we made the 110 mile trip from the James River State Park to Endless Caverns RV Resort. This campground is located next to the Endless Caverns which were discovered in the late 19th century and opened to the public in 1920. The campground has been here for a long time but only had primitive camping up until 10 years ago. A group of investors bought the property and put in a 140 site RV campground with full hook-ups on each site. There are a combination of back in sites along with pull throughs. We were assigned site E-46 and guided to the site by one of the workers at the campground. The sites are located on the side of a mountain with steep roads and tight turns. We took it slow and got into our pull through site. We had to do some pulling forward and back to get our rig situated where we could get all of our slides out and hook up to the utilities. We we arrived on Wednesday there were only a few sites occupies in the campground but by Friday afternoon the park was completely full.
Sites are terraced into the side of the mountain.

We had a hedge to give us some privacy.
We finished setting up the rig and walked around the campground. It is either up the hill or down the hill everywhere you go in the park. They have a swimming pool, rec hall with games and several shower houses around the park.

We took one day (Friday) to visit the Skyline Drive located within the Shenandoah National Park. This is a 105 mile road that runs along the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was built during the 1930's by the CCC as part of the federal government's attempts to employ men during the Depression. There are a total of 75 overlooks along the drive. There is a Visitor's Center and a Skyland Lodge & Resort located at one of the highest points along the drive. The lodge was originally a private resort but was purchased as part of the park in the 1920's.  The weather was hazy and there is smog in this part of Virginia: so the overlooks are not as spectacular as they used to be. Years ago people said you could see for 100 miles while the day we visited it was more like 25 miles. We travelled about 35-40 miles of the drive and pulled off at most of the overlooks along that stretch of road. We also did a hike up the mountain to an overlook located at the end of the trail. I made it all the way to top while Connie turned back about 2/3rds of the way. The trail became very steep and slippery near the top so while I continued on Connie wisely turned around.
One of the overlooks along the drive.

View from another one of the overlooks.

I made it to the top of the trail.

The top of Hawksbill Overlook Trail.

Old Cabin at near Hawksbill Overlook.
Another day we visited the Storybrook Trail located in New Market which has a nice overlook of the Shenandoah Valley. The trail is paved and is only about 1 miles long. You drive along a county road with a number of switchbacks to get near the top of mountain so the incline is gradual along the trail.
Starting point of the trail along side a creek.

At the overlook.

Saturday evening there was a husband and wife team that played music at the park for about 2.5 hours. They were called Whistlin Dixie and played a mix of music that included songs from Patsy Cline, Fleetwood Mac, Charlie Daniels Band and the Doors. The husband played guitar and other string instruments while the wife played the electric piano. We stayed for about 2 hours before retiring back to the RV. We could still hear the music as we sat outside our rig.
Whistlin Dixie band
Sunday we hiked up to the top of the park where there is a large ENDLESS CAVERNS signs (similar to the HOLLYWOOD sign in California). The trail is very steep and was muddy in places so we took our time getting to the top. There is a small area below the sign where campfires are sometimes held and people watch the sun set in the evening.

On Memorial Day we travelled south to  Harrisonburg VA. Harrisonburg is the home of James Madison University which is a large public university that is located on both sides of the interstate highway that runs through town. We walked around the university which was empty due to the holiday. A lot of buildings were erected in the early 20th century (school opened in 1908) along with some modern ones as well. We also drove through downtown Harrisonburg to view some of the vintage buildings located there.
Statue of President James Madison

One of the "halls" at James Madison University
As we were leaving the university we saw a sign for the Carrier Arboretum. This is a 125 acre arboretum located on the campus of James Madison. The visitor center was closed but we were able to walk around several acres of the gardens. It was a nice walk and very peaceful within the grounds.
We never did find out what this flower is called.

A number of these small trees were covered in blooms.
We had rain off and on the entire week we at the park. One night it rained quite hard for several hours. We did meet a couple from the Washington DC area who had purchased a 2014 Dutch Star last year. They are about a year away from retirement and are hoping to travel to Alaska next year.

On Wednesday morning we left early to head north into Pennsylvania. Along the drive north on I-81 we passed through four states: Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.