Thursday, June 30, 2016

Presidential Humor & Walking on Water

Brook N Wood Campground
Elizaville, New York

We spent the last couple of days seeing some of the sights before we leave the Hudson River Valley tomorrow.  Since my younger brother-in-law went to West Point, we decided to include it on one of our sightseeing trips. 

Being raised in a Navy family, I felt like a spy walking around the West Point Museum.  I kept waiting for the bells and whistles to go off when we went through a doorway. 

I don't know what happened to the Visitor Center but I hope it wasn't from a stray artillery round. 

Dad always said that the Navy had much better food than the Army, but I never expected the cadets to be this thin.
The FDR Home and Presidential Library are in Hyde Park, NY not too far from West Point.  Since this was the very first Presidential Library, we weren't expecting too much but we were pleasantly surprised. It was one of the best presidential libraries we have seen.  There was so much to see that we spent two days here.

FDR's home, "Springwood"

Eleanor Roosevelt's residence, Val-Kill Cottage, was  about a mile from Franklin's home.

The Vanderbilt Mansion was just a few miles up the road.  The orange construction equipment around the exterior is due to the ongoing restoration of the foundation. Technically it was referred to it as a "cottage" because it was so much smaller than their other residences. Since we are currently living in a 320 square foot RV, I have a hard time relating to a home this large that was only used a few weeks each year.

One of our  favorite attractions in this area is the Walkway over the Hudson in Poughkeepsie, NY.  The the Poughkeepsie-Highland  Railroad Bridge was abandoned after it burned in 1974. It was re-purposed as a pedestrian bridge in 2009 making it the longest (1.28 miles) elevated (212 feet above the Hudson River) pedestrian bridge in the world.

 We couldn't get to a place to take a photo of the  pedestrian bridge from the riverbank, but it runs parallel to the Mid-Hudson Bridge.   It was a beautiful day if you don't count that large black cloud overhead.

The view was gorgeous.

Today we went to the home of Martin Van Buren.  It was interesting that both Franklin D Roosevelt and Martin Van Buren collected political cartoons and both had them prominently displayed on the walls of their homes.  A sense of humor must be a real asset in politics.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Broken Wheels, Shakers and Ships

Broken Wheel Campground
Petersburg, New York

I mistakenly thought this campground was named after Broken Wheel Road, but that was before we saw the bridge.
There was a large piece of metal covering a very weak spot in the one lane bridge deck and the bridge supports were resting entirely on large sand bags.

We couldn't pass by a national park without stopping to learn about the many important battles fought in this area during the Revolutionary War.

One of the fortified areas overlooking the Hudson River.

At the Saratoga Monument we decided not to climb the entire 188 steps, but just go up one flight of stairs to see the view from the windows.  Fooled again!  Large sculptures outside the windows blocked the view on the first level.  We ended up having to climb three stories to get to a window with an unobstructed view.

Unfortunately Dave's mission while we were in this area was to tour the USS Slater.  In my opinion the only thing worse would be another car or aircraft museum. 

We did have a very good tour guide and a small group - just us and a young man visiting from Poland.

To balance the day out, I picked the National Bottle Museum thinking that would be as boring to Dave as the ship was to me.  Dave won again - the bottle museum was closed when we arrived.

Another day while we were here, we stopped at the Hancock Shaker Village.  We both found this site to be very interesting.  We did the "Attics & Basements Tour" and were lucky enough have a great tour guide and to be the only ones on this tour.  We really enjoyed seeing all the areas marked "Staff Only" while learning about the Shaker lifestyle.

Love this round dairy barn complete with a basement and center hay loft.

Dave got to try out some planes at the work bench.

He looked a little unconventional at the shaving horse in his camo shorts.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Baseballs and Bottle Caps

Susquehanna Trail Campground
Oeonota, New York

We drove into Cooperstown for a little sightseeing today.
I'm not a big baseball fan, but I must say I was pleasantly surprised with the Baseball Hall of Fame and I thought it was much better than the Football Hall of Fame. I just hope we have run out of different sports for awhile.

I'm sure this cow in a baseball uniform must have played an important part in the history of the sport, but I never did figure it out.

This picturesque town is located in a beautiful spot right on a lake.  It has a charming downtown with lots of shops and restaurants lining Main Street.

The sign said "Please do not throw stones".   I looked all around but didn't see anyone living in a glass house.

While we were in the Cooperstown Bat
Company store we found out that they also give tours at their factory location. 

Never ones to pass up a free tour, we drove the 10 miles to the factory.  I think I was expecting something a little bigger.

Isn't this a great  American flag made out of bats?

This is one of our neighbors at the campground. 

 Among other unusual touches, his truck is completely covered in bottle caps.  We were disappointed that no one was home when we walked by.  There has to be a story behind this creation.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Bells & Dogs

Susquehanna Trail Campground
Oeonota, New York

Before leaving Kutztown we went into Allentown to the Liberty Bell Museum and the Mack Truck Museum.

The Liberty Bell Museum is in the basement of the historic church were the real Liberty Bell was hidden under the floorboards of that church during the Revolutionary War.  It was British policy to melt down any church bells or any other large bells they could find because bells were used to transmit signals over 40 miles.  As an added bonus for the British, the melted bells were recycled into cannons or shot.  It was inconceivable to me how they could move and hide something that large and heavy without being  discovered.

Dave wanted to see the trucks at the Mack Truck Museum but I was more interested in the mascot. 


We had a very knowledgeable tour guide who told us all about the history of the company and many of the different models of Mack Trucks.

The Evil Knievel customized Mack truck was on temporary loan to the museum.  I think Dave and I were the only people in the group old enough to remember Evil Knievel's attempted jump over the Snake River in Idaho.

This is another fine example of the Mack line was this truck which had been modified by the film industry for the movie "Transformers 3".

 Think you could bully your way into a parking place if you drove this vehicle?

At the end of the tour I asked about the bulldog mascot.

It seems that the only bulldogs the company has are in the gift shop.  They come in two models - barking and barkless.  Budweiser has the Clydesdales and Bush Beans has Duke, but this company RENTS a dog when one is needed for a publicity shot or special appearance. My disillusionment was difficult to contain.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Beer and Night Shows

June 19, 2016

Pine Hill RV Park
Kutztown, Pennsylvania

After spending a few days in the Lancaster area visiting friends and sightseeing at Valley Forge, we moved north to Kutztown, PA.  We had forgotten how narrow some of the roads are in this part of the country, so driving with an RV can be rather adventurous.

 We couldn't be in this area without going to the Yuengling Brewery.  This facility is located in the downtown area of Pottsville with very hilly and narrow streets.

After finding a parking place at the bottom of  a large hill, we made the walk up to the brewery.  We got there about five minutes before the last tour started.  I had worn my sandals like I usually do and remembered closed toe shoes are required.  There was no way I could have made my way back to the truck and climbed that hill a second time in five minutes, so I elected to rent the required footwear.   Obviously, one size does not fit all.  These shoes were so large, my toes only came up to the laces with most of the shoe extending past my toes.  I kept thinking "clown shoes" while reminding myself how much safer I was in proper footwear.

 I think the liability department of this company must have nightmares about these tours because visitors are taken into the original part of the brewery which was not changed for tours.  Beer was originally fermented in tunnels hand dug by area coal miners.  Uneven wet floors and dark walls enhance the surroundings.  With much effort I made it safely down the path in my "clown shoes". 

Another stop we made was the original Roadside America.
It was very interesting, but I won't say more because I don't want to spoil it for those who have not seen this wonderful attraction.  Hint - don't leave without experiencing the "Night Show".

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Defying Gravity!

Hickory Hollow Campground
Rockwood, Pennsylvania

We heard the Civil War was being fought in Bedford, so we decided to check it out.  Old Bedford Village, a living history site, was having its annual reenactment this weekend.

 No matter how many times we see this, the South still loses.

On the way back to the campground we sought out a local phenomenon - Gravity Hill.  Getting there was quite an adventure.  If you make a wrong turn, there is no place to turn around.  We felt pretty gullible falling for this, but when we got there we found two other couples equally as gullible.  One couple was in a small car and the other was on a motorcycle.  We all tried it out and were amazed that each vehicle seemed to roll uphill.  I thought it must be an optical illusion but one of the other people used the level app on his phone and it showed the road went uphill.  It was interesting that all three vehicles, a car, motorcycle and truck, all went up the hill at exactly 7 mph.  I would have expected the heavier vehicle would go faster than the lighter one.  Must be other forces than physics at work here.

I didn't think anything could top Gravity Hill but as we drove along the Lincoln Highway we saw lots of nostalgia.  Too bad the road is narrow in spots, so there was not always space to pull over and take a photo.
I just hope I don't have nightmares tonight about Gravity Hill.  I can't seem to get the theme song from Twilight Zone out of my head.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Inclines & High Water

Hickory Hollow Campground
Rockwood, Pennsylvania

The GPS sent us on an adventurous route to the Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site.  The road was barely wide enough for the truck with many sharp curves.  I was thinking about turning around when we came to Big Bad Ass Truck Road.  There must be a story about how that street got that name.

This was a gorgeous park but I think it must be missed by a lot of people since there were only a few people there on the weekend.  The rangers seemed lonely and were very excited to talk to visitors from Arizona.

This site commemorates a 36 mile railroad built to portage canal boats over the mountains.  The canal boats were designed in sections to fit on the rail cars.  When they reached the other side, the boats were hooked together again and continued  their trip to Pittsburgh.  Reminds me of container ships and semi trailer trucks.

The train cars were pulled up the grade, through the tunnels and down the other side by a large steam engine at the top of the mountain connected to the rail cars by a hemp rope. Needless to say there were numerous accidents when the rope broke. 

The rail bed and engine house were located in a ravine behind the visitor center.  Lovely walk.

We also visited the Johnstown Flood National Memorial on a hill overlooking the site of the South Fork Lake and Dam.  In town we stopped at the Johnstown Flood Museum to learn about the 1899 flood.  Over 2,200 people died during this disaster.

We ended our day with a ride on the Johnstown Incline Plane.  This is the steepest (71% grade) vehicular incline in the world. It was built the year after the 1899 flood.  Do you think there was an increased demand for property above the high water line?  Love those fares - old people are FREE!

The original cars were two level structures.  The horses and wagons went on the top level and people were on the bottom level.  Would you want to ride underneath the horses?

When we got to the top a downpour started.  A wedding party was having photographs taken from the observation deck as the wind and rain hit. 

Three Model T cars used to fit in here, but we only had one vehicle with us on the trip back down.

The rain cooled things off quite a bit.  Notice the steam rising from the concrete.

I needed a bathroom stop before we drove back to the campsite.  I was a little surprised when I was handed a key and told the bathroom was outside.  Attached to the key was a piece of steel large enough to bring down a bull.  Even though this is a small community in rural Pennsylvania, they are socially very progressive.  It was a unisex bathroom.  There were four signs inside each saying "Flush everybody please".  I'm not sure if that meant everyone should flush the toilet or if all people were supposed to be flushed down the sewer.