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The Happy Wanderers

Our adventures.

April 2005 Travel Log

US_Capitol US Capital

4/30: Stow, MA. We arrived at Connie's sister's house a few days ago. We've been enjoying our visit with Ken & Michelle Fuller, parked in their driveway. Too bad it's rained almost everyday. We took a day to visit Salem, MA. Besides the normal "witch hunt" history, Salem played an important role in the creation of our nation with it's shipping and port. I didn't realize that the customs duty on imported goods paid for about 80% of the cost in creating our new nation. We've visited this area before, rich in revolution history at Lexington and Concord. The revolutionary war started near here at North Bridge, with the "shot heard around the world". This is the area of the minuteman and Paul Revere's famous ride. It's still interesting to see houses built in the mid 1600's. We'll leave here in a couple days, with a 2-day drive to our summer workamping jobs at Lake George Escape Camping Resort, in Lake George, NY.

4/25: Frackville, PA. One of our main reasons for spending a week near Gettysburg, PA, was to view a couple living history encampments. Two of these historical re-enactment camps were scheduled for the weekend.Boyd's Bear Country Since it rained all day on Saturday, we decided to view the encampments on Sunday. First we visited Boyd's Bear Country, which is a large barn with over 70,000 stuffed bears. Of course, it's a large store. But it was cutely decorated and a unique way to present the stuffed bears. We then headed out for the encampments and discovered this re-enactment historians areTeddy Bear Nursery wimps! By 1:30pm on Sunday, they had packed up and were leaving. We stopped at a Wal-Mart and purchased the "Gettysburg" DVD, starring Martin Sheen (and others). This was a great wrap-up of our Gettysburg tour, as this 4 hour movie brought it all together. We'd already visited the places that were shown in the movie and were familiar with the names of the Generals. This movie re-enforced our visualizations of the battle.

After leaving Cordorus State Park this morning, we stopped in Hershey, PA. We were warned that there wasn't a real tour of the Hershey Chocolate factory, rather it was a ride. But we wanted to 'experience' it ourselves. Hershey Chocolates, PAYep, Hershey is a large commercial tourist trap. The theme park was closed, and the "tour" is a Disneyland type ride. This "tour" ride was the only thing that was free. The Hershey museum cost $7 per person and the trolley tour/ride through Hershey cost $10 per person. Okay, we experienced Hershey and were glad we didn't go out of way to visit here. We moved further on and are parked for the night at the Frackville, PA, Elks club.

4/23: Hanover, PA (Cordorus State Park). Our main reason for coming to this part of the country was to visit the Civil War battlefields at Gettysburg, PA. A few days ago, we spent most of the day in Gettysburg. Neither of us remembered much of our civil war history, but are getting a refresher as we tour various historical sites. View from Little Round Top Hill, Gettysburg PAWith over 51,000 casualties, Gettysburg was the bloodiest battle of American history. Over 152,000 men and 550 cannons were positioned in an area encompassing 25 square miles. To get us started, we paid the $4 a person to watch a 30-minute show on an electronic map. This show visually explained the battlefields and the movements of the Northern and Southern armies during the 3 day battle. After touring the museum, we bought a self-guided audio tour on CD for $13. We drove ourselves around the battlefields, listening to the narration of what happened July 1 through July 3, 1863. We would stop at various sites where a specific fight happened, or where cannons were entrenched.Near Pickett's Charge, Gettysburg PA While listening, we could visualize the Confederate Army attacking the Union troops. At times, we were viewing a battlefield from the point of a Southern soldier. Other times, we saw the fields from the view of a Northern soldier. We progressed on our tour pretty much as the battle progressed. While we heard of the tactics used on both sides, we saw why these tactics were used. With hundreds of monuments spread over the many battlefields, we couldn't spend much time at any one location. The 7 hours we spent here wasn't enough. We plan to return tomorrow, when there will be a couple living history encampments.

After arriving here, we discovered this area is a popular touring area. A couple days ago we toured to the nearby Snyder's of Hanover Snack Company. We were the only 2 people on this tour and enjoyed watching pretzel's and potato chips being made. Yesterday, we drove to York, PA, and toured the Harley Davidson operations plant. We saw the construction line where the large Harley motorcycle's are built. Interesting to learn that Harley spends 12 hours on the paint jobs of their bikes, but it only takes 2 hours to build a complete motorcycle on the assembly line. We also got a special tour of where custom Harley Davidson motorcycles are hand built. However, Larry was a little disappointed that they didn't give sample bikes out after the tour - the candy and pretzel factories do. After lunch, we then toured the Wolfgang candies factory. A small operation, it was neat to see how they make their candy pieces. They make the pieces of candy here, but not the chocolate. They actually use chocolate from the Wilbur chocolate factory, which we toured a few days ago.

4/20: Hanover, PA (Cordorus State Park). While we were getting ready to leave Andrews AFB a few days ago, we saw the three Marine helicopters coming in for a landing. And finally.. Air Force One was sitting there in front of the passenger terminal. Marine Corp One landed near the 747 and we saw the president (and security) get out and board his plane. We only moved about 100 miles away to Hanover, Pennsylvania to Cordorus State Park. It's fantastic here! There's only about a dozen campers in this park that has room for almost 200. The weather is wonderful, and we're off in a corner of the park by ourselves. This PA state park is about 20 miles from Gettysburg, PA, 50 miles from Hershey, PA, and 50 miles from Lancaster, PA. We have a week's worth of places we plan to visit while here.

We spent yesterday driving around the Lancaster area, which is known for their "Pennsylvania Dutch" population. Actually, they are from a Deutch (German), not Dutch ancestry. We walked around some small stores in small Amish towns. Towns like "Bird in a Hand" and "Intercourse". Yes, that's the real name of the town, although it's meaning probably isn't what you think. Out of respect, we didn't get any pictures. But we saw Mennonite and Amish families in the stores, walking the streets, riding their buggies, and working their farm fields. The farmers plowed their fields manually using a plow, pulled by 8 HUGE horses. We also visited a farmers market and craft fair and the town of Lititz to visit the Wilbur chocolate factory.

4/16: Andrews AFB, MD (near Washington D.C.). We enjoy getting Email from readers of this web site. We recently received a wonderful Email from a reader who works at the National Geographic Society,United States Capitol Building, DC here in Washington. We met Joe at the National Geographic and got a small tour of the facilities. I hadn't realized this organization was so old, being started in 1888. We also enjoyed the small public museum they have there. Later, we finally made a trip to see our nation's capitol. Unfortunately, most of the surrounding grounds are torn up and off limits while a new, underground, visitor's center is being built. When finished, it looks like something we'll have to return to see.

Twice, we've also tried to tour the Bureau of Engraving to see paper currency and postage stamps printed. However, we learned that they only give out a limited number of tickets for tours each day. The ticket booth opens at 8:00am. By 9:15am, the tickets were all gone. To us, it appeared that the bus tours take most of the tickets. I heard they get in line at 6:30am for the tickets. But we did see the President fly overhead in Marine Corp One (helicopter). Three of these large choppers swooped down, landed at the White House, and took off a few minutes later. Of course, we don't know if he arrived or departed, but he had to be in one of the choppers. Although we're staying at Andrews AFB, home of Air Force Once (the 747 plane), we haven't seen it. I presume it's kept inside of a hanger until needed.

4/13: Andrews AFB, MD (near Washington D.C.). Our latest site seeing tour took us to the Smithsonian National Zoo. Entrance to the Zoo is free, but parking is $16 for 3+ hours. Of course, we could have taken the Metro for much less, but wanted a picnic lunch. This is a nice zoo, but not very large. It's also not very fancy, but adequate. There's much construction going on and many of the exhibits were closed. Although the Panda Bear Interpretation building was closed, the Panda's were outside and active. There was also the usual show of zoo animals. We enjoyed the day and got tired feet again. We hope this nice, sunny weather stays as we plan to see our Nation's capitol, the art museum, and the aerospace museum soon.

National Zoo, Washington D.C.National Zoo, Washington D.C.National Zoo, Washington D.C.

4/11: Andrews AFB, MD (near Washington D.C.). We arrived here a couple days ago and were lucky to get a site (electric only) on Andrews AFB in Maryland. Other RV resorts around Washington, D.C., want around $45 a night. We're under $12 a night here. We spent yesterday taking care of chores again. It had been a couple weeks since laundry was done and we needed to load up on groceries again. We don't enjoy doing laundry, especially when we have to wait for some free machines. It's even worse when the dryers don't work well and take forever to dry the clothes. We spent almost 3 hours in the laundry this time. But we're good for another couple weeks! However, since we're staying here for 9 days, Connie says we'll do a couple small loads of laundry before we leave.

Cherry Blossoms in Washington, D.C.Washington Monument, Washington, D.C. Korean War MemorialThe White House

The weather is clear, sunny, and in the high 60's. We headed into Washington, D.C. today and walked around until our legs hurt. And today was only the first day of site-seeing! This was our first time visiting our nation's capitol, and our timing was great. The annual cherry blossom festival ended yesterday, and the cherry trees are fully in bloom. Connie's also excited about tomorrow's outing, as we're heading to the National Zoo. She's always been a Panda Bear fan, and they have a couple of these rare creatures at the zoo. When we returned home, we had a note saying a full hookup site came available for us. We moved into it, for only $3 more a night.

4/8: Lexington, VA. After leaving Alatoona Lake, outside Alanta, we continued heading North. We stopped at Tallulah Gorge, GAthe Tallulah Gorge state park in northern Georgia. We spent a couple days there and hiked this beautiful gorge. This is the deepest gorge, East of the Mississippi river. The wild Tallulah river is now controlled by a power dam, but still a scenic area. After hiking one side of the gorge, we took the 750+ steps down (yes, they had a stairway) to the bottom. After we crossed the suspended bridge going across the river, we climbed another 700+ steps back up the other side, then hiked along the other side of the gorge. Four days later, our legs still ache. We need to get back in to shape!

We planned to stay off the large Interstates and let our mapping software plan our route. But the roads were getting pretty narrow (especially with a semi truck heading at you) and were causing us too much stress. We had planned to drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway, but decided against it when we saw how narrow and curvy the road was, while climbing hills. Larry missed one turn and we got stuck climbing a mountain. We found a nice place to boondock and try to relax. Around 9:0pm, security stopped and started to give us a hard time, as camping wasn't allowed. But he turned nice and let us stay the one night. When approaching the border of North Carolina and Virginia, we made a side trip to Mount Airy. This is the town where Andy Griffith grew up and based the fictional town of Mayberry on. Mount Airy - Mayberry, sound familiar? The visitor center in Mt. Airy had an Andy Griffith museum. We reviewed our route and made changes to take us on larger roads, even if it was an Interstate. But we ended up paying a price for that decision, as well. Only 15 miles from where we planned to stop for a couple more days, we got caught in a 20 mile back-up in traffic. It seems road construction went bad and the all lanes of traffic heading North were blocked. After over 2.5 hours of sitting there, we finally had moved 4 miles to the next exit. We took a small road the remaining 11 miles to our current campground at Lexington, Virginia. Although this is an old and run-down campground, it's low cost using our Passport America discount and is extremely quiet. We've found most campgrounds are located near highways or trains. All we hear at this location is singing birds. Nice.

4/3: Alatoona Lake, GA. Happy Birthday Wendy! Wow! We've been busy these past few days playing tourist around Atlanta. The traffic is TERRIBLE. A little unusual style for us, we visited the "American Museum of Paper Making". Sounds dull, but it was interesting. I don't think we'll take paper for granted anymore. Yesterday, we visited the Museum at the "Center for Puppetry Arts". We also tried to see a show, but they were booked all day. Pretty interesting - now I won't take Puppetry for granted anymore, either. We read that the "world's largest drive-in diner" was in Atlanta, so we had lunch at the "Varsity". What a bunch of bull! It was a large and busy diner, but with only a few drive-in bays. We've seen Sonic burger drive-ins with more bays. What made this lunch especially miserable was the lousy food. Cold and tasteless cardboard was being served.

Center for Puppetry Arts MuseumCovered Bridge built in 1891, now at Stone Mountain, GA Grist Mill at Stone Mountain, GA Stone Mountain and Memorial CarvingCarving in Stone Mountain

We talked about doing the Coca-Cola and/or CNN tours, but decided to pass. So we headed out to "Stone Mountain" instead. We never heard of this place, so it was a pleasant surprise to us. Carved into the side of a large granite mountain (20 billion cubic feet) is a memorial to Jefferson Davis, General Lee, and General Jackson. All were leaders of the Confederate States during the Civil War. The carving took over 60 years to accomplish, primarily due to changing artists a few times, 2 World Wars, and the depression. It was started before the carvings on Mt. Rushmore. We enjoyed the afternoon looking around, visiting the displays, and then having a wonderful dinner. We encountered another one of those lucky moments, as we arrived on the day they were also having a laser light show on the granite mountain that evening. They put on a good laser show, complete with sound effects and fireworks. Plan a day at "Stone Mountain", we highly recommend it.

Location (Map)

May 2005 Travel Log
March 2005 Travel Log


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