Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Crime and Punishment

Time to move on. I liked staying at Assateague, but the big city calls. It is on to the Headquarters of the Free World – Washington D.C. Well, perhaps that is overstating it a bit, but it was a nice turn of phrase. A pleasant drive – the road took me back into Delaware again and then into Maryland. I was on what they call the East Coast of Maryland which means I had to cross the Bay Bridge. This bridge is 4 ½ miles long – a twin span. It was huge and very old.

Picture from the web:

It seemed to go on forever

Washington DC is very urban, hence there are no really great choices as far as RV parks go in the area. That said, I am at an extremely expensive RV park ($58 after discounts) in College Park called Cherry Hill Park. It actually is rather an amazing place. They have 400 sites, it is huge. They make it very easy to get into D.C. A Metrobus comes right to the park which takes you to the subway which takes you into town. It takes about an hour travel time, but it is super convenient. This park also has a one mile nature trail which winds through the woods around the park. Great place to walk Miko. The cons are that it is right in the middle of several freeways, so there is a noise factor. Have you ever noticed that freeway noise is sort of like the crash of waves? It gets to be sort of a white noise after a while.

I bought a metro pass which allows me to take the bus and subway and headed into town. Most of the other people who left the park with me were heading to the Smithsonian museums or the Washington Mall. Not me. I had some really cool things planned.

First up was the Museum of Crime and Punishment. Today was it's last day of being open – they had lost their lease and were looking for a new place. When you first get started touring the museum, it starts of chronological – we are back in the Middle Ages and there are all sorts of exhibits of various torture devices. I must admit, at this point I was questioning my decision to go to this museum. As I went further into the museum, it became more and more fascinating.
Thumbscrews, Leg Irons, Head Cage (in case you needed to poke eyes out or something)

After the medieval exhibit, it started talking about crimes that happened in the colonial period of America. There was an understanding that if crimes were not punished severely enough, God would bring down all sorts of wrath.

After the colonial period, there was a section about pirates which talked, among other things, about how and why their various interpretations of the Jolly Roger flag was flown. There was also a section on women pirates who could be just as blood thirsty as their male counterpoints.

The exhibits proceeded on in chronological order, through prohibition with Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd and Bonnie and Clyde. On to current day (or at least the last thirty/forty years) with Manson, Dahmer, Gacy.
Car used in the movie Bonnie and Clyde, complete with bullet holes

The museum was not all about crime – it was also about law enforcement – how law enforcement worked to keep crime in check. There were exhibits about various prisons( Sing Sing, Attica etc), different types of carrying out death penalties (electric chair, lethal injections) and there was a forensics lab where they had a mannequin laid out with different wounds, talking about how medical examiners would take a crime case and decode it.
Al Capone's Cell - quite a difference from everybody else's cell

The second museum was the International Spy Museum. When you entered this museum, you had to pick a prepared cover story and memorize it. Through out the whole exhibit, you would be asked questions and they would try to trip you up to break your cover.

This museum had all sorts of spy gadgets. I almost felt like I was in a Great Smart episode. There were all sorts of camera apparatus – shoe cameras, lapel cameras. We had huge exhibits of all the different types of bugs. There was an exhibit where you could put headphones on and listen to ongoing conversations happening in different parts of the museums. All sorts of exhibits – everything you needed to know to be a spy.

The special exhibition was about all the James Bond villains over the years. It made me want to got and watch every single James Bond movie (in order) again. They had lots of film clips and the parphenalia from the films. They also asked you to decide if some of the gadgets were fact or fiction.

The museums were very interactive – lots of buttons to push, lots of video to watch. Very enjoyable day.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Assateague National Seashore

Since I mentioned the parking lot RV park in Delaware Seashore State Park, here is a picture to show what it was like.

Delaware Shores State Park North Campground
Arrived in Assateague National Seashore. It was a long drive – 34 miles and maybe an hour on the road. I had to worry a bit about where I was going – Google Maps was taking me down all these back little roads, through all these little beach towns. It was much more interesting than driving on the highway, but it is a little worrisome when your really don't know where you are going.

I had had my eye on a campsite on the oceanside campground, but most of those are booked a year in advance. I drove through the bayside campground and found a wonderful site – A14. The view out my door is of the marsh and off in the distance is Chintoteague Bay. The spots are much further spaced out than in the oceanside campground. I am very happy with this spot.

Views out my side door:
Great Egret?

Smaller Egrets?  Maybe not so Great Egrets?

Assateague National Seashore is a barrier island that runs along the coast of Maryland and Virginia. Down on the south end of the island is Chincoteague where they have the annual pony swim across the bay. It is where the book “Misty” is based. I think just about every young girl read that book growing up. Chincoteague is down in the Virginia part of the island. I am located in the northern part, up in Maryland. They have their own wild ponies up here – 93 of them this year. They just wander where ever they want through the island.


This is my very first camping trip with no hookups whatever. I am obsessively checking my solar panel to see how charged the batteries are. It has been overcast for the last couple of days but the lowest my batteries got was 88% last night and I was able to run my lights. Even with it being overcast, today the batteries kept charging. This is fantastic – it is a whole new sense of freedom.

Speaking of overcast, I was pretty bummed out that the clouds were going to obscure the lunar eclipse last night. Magically, just before the eclipse started, the skies cleared and I was able to watch the whole majestic eclipse. When I was at McDonald Observatory in Texas last spring, I learned about the moon and also how much you can see with a pair of plain old binoculars. I pulled the binoculars out and had a front row seat along with billions of others. What a treat.

Something is wrong with my PC. It is making all sorts of whirring noises. I hope it lasts until I get home. Cheap piece of junk.

Miko and I went to the ocean again this morning. I have decided that I am not an ocean person. It is cool to see the waves crashing, play in the surf and listen to the sound, but I have to say, after about an hour, I'm ok with moving on. Give me a forest trail or a lovely meadow any day. Besides that, salt and sand get on everything.  You can be miles from the beach and still everything gets affected.  I guess I don't come from sea-faring stock.
These moving pieces of foam as they slide back into the ocean really freaked Miko out

Brought Miko back to the RV and then walked a couple of Nature Trails – Life in the Marsh and Life in the Forest. Miko was not allowed on the Nature Trails.
Life in the Marsh was this ½ mile boardwalk over the marsh with a few interpretive signs. When I was walking, the tide was in so you cold see the little fishes in among the grasses. I enjoyed the walk because it was a little bit different than what I'm used to.

The red plant is called Salicornia AKA Glasswort because they used to use it to make Soda Ash which is used to make glass.  It turns red in the fall.  Ranger said it was edible and we could pick it. 

Life in The Forest Trail was another ½ mile trail through a pine forest. These pines are a little bit different – they are used to salt spray. Found out that a carpet of pine needles is very slippery when they are on top of a boardwalk.
One last horse picture through my dirty windshield
I ended up going back to the Visitor Center because my first time through, I didn't have a chance to watch the movie. Imagine my joy when I found out they not only had one movie – they had two movies. The first one was all about the wild horses and how they manage the herd keeping them to 80 to 100 members. Parts of it were about hunting the horses to administer birth control to the mares– how difficult it was because the horses have learned exactly how far away they have to be to avoid the little dart that they shoot. Each mare is allowed to have one foal in its lifetime. The second movie was abot the culture and history of Assateague Island. Both interesting films. Now I feel I can check off Assateague Island off my list of National Sites I need to see.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

By the Sea

Sally sells sea shells by the shiny sea shore
So she can see the shimmering silver ships
In sunshiny summers she strolls along the sea shore
shoelessly splashing somersaults while she skips

Greetings from the beautiful seashore in Delaware.

I actually got up at 6:00 this morning. I had planned on hitting the beach in Delaware but there is a giant low pressure system just south of Delaware which is causing huge winds and they were supposed to get stronger as the day went on. We all know how I feel about driving with wind. On top of this is that there was a Coastal Flooding Warning in effect for the seashore I was heading for. I was beginning to think that perhaps I should not be exploring the coast line at this particular time. Maybe the travel gods had it in for me. First the pope – now coastal flooding. I should probably look up what the seven plagues are, just to be prepared. I did call ahead to the park I was heading to and the ranger said that it was highly unlikely that I would need to worry about being flooded out.

Greg showed up at the rig around seven and proclaimed all systems were go. He also said that if I had any problems in the next couple of days he would come down to where I was at and get things fixed.  What great customer service.  Or maybe he was looking to get in a beach holiday.  Naw - I'm very impressed with RV Solar Solutions and Greg. 
I hooked up the car. It was difficult – seems like when I hook up the car, men seem to think they should come help me cause I'm just a poor little girl. While I appreciate the sentiment and it is very nice of them, I find that they are a distraction. I have a routine that I follow religiously, one step at a time and if I have somebody helping, it throws me off.

On the road at eight and it isn't too bad traveling wind wise. My biggest problem is that I'm pretty low on gas and there doesn't seem to be any gas stations. I finally see one, not the most ideal location because it is a tight squeeze to get in and out, but it is gas. It is $2.37 a gallon. Of course after I fill up about 50 gallons worth and get back on the road, there are all of a sudden tons of gas stations at $2.08. I should have checked my Gas Buddy app before I left the campground but as they say – hindsight is perfect.

It wasn't long before I crossed the border into Delaware. It was supposed to be a two and a half hour drive (three and a half in RV lingo) and part of it was on a toll road. I could have taken a non-toll road but it would have added on another 45 minutes to the trip. I'll pay the $12 to cut the time. The further south I head, the stronger the winds are getting. Even though they are a broadside east wind, they don't seem to push me around too much even though it looked like there were some trees that were really tossing and turning.

I'm heading to Delaware Shores State Park. To get there, you have to go through Rehoboth Beach which is one strip mall after another. The nice thing about this is that I only could go about thirty miles per hour which really helped cut down the wind issue.

I picked this place because the beach was only 150 yards from the campground. What they failed to mention is that there is a bridge and sand dunes between the campground and the beach so the view is negligible. I arrived about noon and check in time was 1:00 pm. My site was empty but they said I could not park until after 1:00pm. Ok then. Miko and I spent the time walking over to the beach. It was low tide and the wind was brutal. There were a couple of times that we sort of got blown backwards, it was that strong. I'm not sure that Miko had ever seen ocean before. It had all this white frothy stuff that was washing up. She ended up pretty much avoiding the surf – running backwards if the waves got too high. Typical kid.

We took several walks down the beach. The last one was about 7pm when the tide was quite high. The wind is blowing – if I were in New England, I would call this a baby nor'easter. There is something really thrilling when the wind gets going and the surf is pounding. It makes you feel alive – everything is just sharper, more on edge.

I'm not sure where I'm going tomorrow – I was thinking of heading down into Maryland – to the Assateague National Seashore where the wild ponies live but it is supposed to be cold and cloudy and windy tomorrow. Down there they not only have a Coastal Flooding alert, but also a Surf Alert – two alerts that we don't get in Minnesota. Cool, huh?

Pictures from the park (which is basically a sand parking lot – think RV park - I'm in site 465) and beach

See the little people there in the waves

We walk under the bridge to get to the beach.  They light it all up at night with blue lights.  Bridge built in 2012  Lots of highway noise

Obligatory Miko Picture

Waves were getting bigger and bigger

Friday, September 25, 2015

From Solar to the Revolution

Greg showed up this morning to teach me all I need to know about my own personal solar system and run through everything to make sure it all works. Ha. Generator didn't work. Turned out that some of the wiring done yesterday (not by Greg) needed to be rerouted. So...Generator works. Batteries are charged. All systems are go. And I know a lot about solar. Well, I know that if it snows, I need to get on the roof and brush the snow off. I learned where the on-off switch and the circuit breaker switch is. The most important thing I learned is that beyond cleaning off the panels every now and then, there is zero maintenance. I actually did learn more about wiring and other things, but I don't know how long that stuff will be retained.

Greg and Craig also did some maintenance and had suggestions on some of the things that I've asked Hilltop Trailers to take care of and haven't gotten much satisfaction from them. One of the things I'm excited about is that I know how to change my generator oil and filter. Evidently I'm easily amused. It will be something fun to try to do when I get back to Minnesota.

I finally got to be a tourist today. Valley Forge is about a half hour away and I decided I would go revisit it. Last time I was there, I was in second grade and I really don't remember much about it. I won't go into the history of Valley Forge – we all learned about it in school, how it was the turning point of the Revolutionary War. Ok, one fact that I found interesting, which I never thought about was why Valley Forge was called Valley Forge. It was because there was an Iron Forge in this particular valley. Don't know why it never occurred to me. Duh...

Of course guess what today is? It is World Family Day. This means that there are busloads and busloads of families descending on Valley Forge. Once you get past the horror of all of the crowds, there were some very interesting events happening. There was musket firing, there were demos on how to build the enlisted men's' quarters. Lots of people wandering around in period costume. I watched the movie in the theater and then took the ten mile drive around the Encampment Trail.

Enlisted Men Quarters
Inside the Enlisted Men Quarters - damp and dank - lots of disease wandering around back in 1777-1778
Dedicated in 1917 - the National Memorial Arch honors the soldiers perseverance
General Wade statute - commanded Pennsylvania troops
General Washington's Headquarters - they said that about 25 people lived here - it is a really small house for 25 people

It was an entertaining way to spend the afternoon. I did buy one thing that was rather special. C-Span used to have a show on that was called First Ladies. Each week they talked about one specific first lady. I've always had a soft spot for the First Ladies – you never hear about them, but I think an awful lot of them were very important to our country. I really liked watching this show. I found the companion book for the show. I'm excited that I can spend time with my First Ladies.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Living Off The Grid

I had a big drive today – maybe thirty minutes. Love it. This area of Pennsylvania is lovely, rolling hills, every time you turn a corner there is a house that you know was built hundreds of years ago. It seems that the roads are following the old trails also – fairly narrow, no shoulders. Speed limit was 45, I felt sorry for the people behind me, I was only going thirty because a) it was all the faster I could handle and b) it was all the faster I could handle. There was no place to turn off to let them pass so at least they got to go slow and smell the roses.

I'm at Brandywine Creek Campground. Lots of seasonal people here but I happened to get a prime spot. I am overlooking the creek and happen to be right at a section where there are some mini rapids so I get the sound of the babbling brook as I sit in my site.

This campground has all these cardboard dogs scattered around the property.  They have gold tags that say Goose Patrol

The main reason I'm here in this area is that I am going to get solar put on my rig. I'm super excited about it. It means that I can go anywhere and not have to worry about having electricity to hook up to. I can go to Camp Wally or out in the boondocks and still run my microwave, have lights and watch TV if I do desire.

The premier RV Solar company is a place called AM Solar in Oregon. Putting solar on an RV is a little different than putting solar on a house – and AM Solar specializes in RVs. The guy I'm having do my solar is Greg Young at RV Solar Solutions. He was trained by AM Solar and is recommended by them. He lives full time in his RV and travels around the country doing installs. I tried to get an appointment with him when he was in Illinois but he didn't have any appointments available. He did have one appointment available in Ohio but the timing did not work out for me. So the next place was Pennsylvania where he only had two openings. So I guess I've chased him around the country. I'm happy that I got to snag one of them. The whole process is supposed to take two and a half days. Two days to install, half a day to educate me how on all the ins and out of the system. I'm nervous about this because this installation involves drilling holes in my RV. It hurts to think of that part of it. My pretty little RV.

Tech Info for those who care – feel free to skip over this paragraph if your eyes are glazing over.
4 160 watt solar panels
3024i MPPT Charge Controller, IPN Pro Remote meter, shunt kit for IPN Pro remote meter, temperature comensation sendor, wiring harness
4 Lifeline AGM Batteries 6V 220 AMH

Greg and his friend Craig spent most of yesterday doing the install while I spent most of the day in a lawn chair overseeing their work. Fun guys and very efficient. By the end of the day, they had the install completed. Greg did not want to turn the system on because it was the end of the day and if something went wrong, he would have to hang out and fix it. Craig evidently did not hear Greg say that and turned everything on. They call it a smoke test – the first test is to make sure that everything is hooked up correctly and is not going to blow up, cause fires, hence the smoke test name. I must say, they were pretty much kidding about smoke test – but in the end, it seems everything went well. They turned it off and everybody went their separate ways for a couple of hours, Miko and I wandered over to their place to hang out at their campfire with Craig's wife Jo and Greg's dog Hobie. Their drink of choice was Red Bull and vodka. I had never heard of that combination before. Evidently, it keeps you awake as you get buzzed.

Miko and Hobie

Yesterday, Greg said - “I can't believe how easy this install is going” What a terrible thing to say because when they showed up today to finish up, of course there were problems. You just don't say things like that before a job is finished – it causes the Jinx Gods to get all riled up. They decided that they were going to upgrade a charger that I had and they went under the bed where all the wiring for the coach are. What they found was a total mess. I worry about our future when basic workmanship is so underrated. They spent most of the day changing some of the wiring around and keeping me calm which in itself is a full time job. I am pretty impressed so far with these guys. There is no problem with the solar install and with the solar charging my batteries. The problem is coming from the batteries into the coach. I swear the electricity in my couch was done in the factory early on a Monday morning after the electrician had a very hard weekend.
Getting Started

Nice Day to Be working outside

The guts of the system
One of the ongoing problems I've had with my rig is that the CO2 indicator keeps going off.  I thought it was going off because of low battery.  It seems that it might not be going off because of low battery but it might be actually alerting me to a CO2 or a LP problem.  Greg went out and bought me a portable CO2 detector and we will see if that goes off also.  It might just be a wiring problem though like everything else in this rig.  At least it gives me something to think about.
Hopefully everything is working out.  Tomorrow is education day

Monday, September 21, 2015

Hopewell Furnace

Boy, did I luck out when I picked this campground. I have 58 over the air TV channels (I don't watch much TV), a couple of bars of Verizon so I can access internet, full hookups, it's costing me less cause they gave me the senior rate cause I'm old is within walking distance of Hopewell Furnace which is a National Historic Site so that I can check this off of my list.

To get to the site, we have to walk on the Boone Trail. Evidently Daniel Boone was born about five miles away from here back in the day. This trail is listed as moderate and it is a pleasant trail except for all the rocks and roots that go across the trail. It makes it hard to see what the scenery is like because you always have to be watching where you put your feet. Besides that, while it is a trail that winds it's way downhill, all I can think of is that I have to walk back up it to get back to the campground.
Yes, this is the trail
This gave me pause - lucky I'm wearing my bright red windbreaker
As we are walking along, through the woods, there is nobody around. All of a sudden, a dog comes crashing out of the woods. Then another dog and then another one. There are three of them. I'm looking at them and I'm thinking these are some sort of English Setters. My family had one when I was a child and I've always had a fond spot in my heart for them. These guys were a little shorter and stockier than what you normally see as English Setters. Soon their person shows up and we chatted. He tells me that he used to breed English Springer Spaniels and one of his breedings resulted in a Westminster Best in Show Springer in 2007. He decided that after that, he was at the top, there was nothing more to accomplish so he switched to the English Setters. He breeds and raises Field Setters which explains why they were a little stockier and shorter.
Dennis, Buddy, Rascal and ?

Miko and I get to Hopewell Furnace.

Hopewell Furnace is an early American industrial community that operated from 1771 to 1883. The cold-blast iron furnace and accompanying community has been restored to the way it looked during the 1830s and 1840s, when the furnace was at its height of activity From the NPS site

It had some really interesting things to see. Miko especially liked the water fountain which was built with a dog in mind.
I had to help Miko push the button, she couldn't quite figure it out
They had a huge water wheel that was actually turning. It was amazing how a very small creek could turn something this big.
I also learned how they made charcoal. I guess charcoal doesn't just come in those bags that you buy at Menards. It was a very time and labor exhaustive process.
In the visitor center, there were exhibits about everything that was produced by this furnace. It seems that while they helped arm the troops from the Revolutionary War through the Civil War, where they made the most money was in making stoves. Evidently, stoves were rather revolutionary in themselves. They talked about how the creation of the stove freed women from having to tend the hearth fires all day long like they used to. The stoves saved many women's lives because they said that a big cause of death for women back then was because their clothes would catch on fire from the open hearth in the home. Not to mention it was much easier to boil water so it cut down on “childbed fever” which happened often during the birthing process.
Note to Self: Make sure dog leash is stashed before taking picture.  It actually looks like a steel cable though - yup, my dog is one strong dog - need a cable to hang on to her
After the visit, we wandered back home up the Boone Trail and I mean up. Oh well, we keep telling our horses when we make them walk up hills that they are building their butt muscles. I need say no more. 
Tomorrow I move down to the Philadelphia area. Pope Francis is coming to town this upcoming weekend. This is huge – most of the way, as I drove across Pennsylvania, there were huge signs on the freeways telling people to expect major delays. I have heard that most roads are closed throughout the whole city. They are expecting several million people to show up. I looked up some of the sights I was planning to see and most of them are going to be closed during the visit. I guess I will have to adjust. I will find out more when I get down in that area. 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Driving, Driving, Driving

I called and called around but could not find anyplace that had openings for the evening that were in my price range. These easterners sure do pay a lot for their camping experiences. Much more than out west. I'm having a little bit of sticker shock.

I finally found a place in Snow Shoe Pennsylvania. It was right off of the freeway, about the distance where I wanted to stop. I couldn't find any reviews of the place so I decided I would just wing it. If I didn't like it, I could always push on and try to find something different. I pull into the place – it is right behind the town's ball field. Turns out the town is having their fall festival. I thought this would be great because I could walk to it from my site.

This trailer park was pretty trashy. Sewer pipes were above ground – the electrical pole and the water faucet was shared by three other trailers. I had water hoses crisscrossing over my site. There was no breaker on the electrical post which meant that there could be surges and all sorts of nasty things that could wreck my electrical system. I do have a surge protector installed on the RV, but not everybody is as fortunate as me. Everybody was right on top of each other. And to top it off, they charged $45 for the privilege of staying there.

On the positive side, the managers were extremely nice people – Jane and Clyde. And lets not forget the Fall festival. They had a car show, they had trinkets and crafts. They had homemade chili and pierogies. It was pretty much a flea market with some cool looking cars.  Mildly amusing. 

I spent some time with the people parked behind me. This park is located on the north side of a mountain range. I have to get to the south side of that mountain range and my mountain driving handbook is telling me that most of the roads crossing the mountains have very big grades. To the point where they require truckers to go no more than 20 mph. I was pretty scared, but my neighbors talked me down off of the cliff and told me that I would be fine. They drive it all the time. Ok, I feel better – I can make it – I probably won't die. So all is good.

Good night sleep, a rain storm and winds came through. Woke up, packed up and got ready to go. As I'm pulling out of my site, I hear a little crunch. Turns out my steps hadn't retracted like they should have and they caught on the little wooden patio that was provided for me. The steps pulled the patio a little bit apart and bent the steps back a little bit. The neighbor guy kicked and pushed the steps back into place and everything seems to be working again.

The major problem, though, was I had no internet service on my phone. If I don't have internet, I don't have the GPS working. That is ok, the neighbors told me how to go to get across the mountain range. The RV has a GPS, but it doesn't always make the best decisions, but it is all I have. What I didn't take into account was that my neighbors (who drive across the range all the time), take shortcuts. They always go the back ways. So, there I am, driving down these little tiny roads, causing a huge traffic backup behind me because I am too afraid to drive very fast on these twisty, turny roads with no shoulder. I climb, I climb and then I get to the top of the mountain. I decided that I was going to be like a truck – only go 20 mph down the hill and I made it!!!!! Yay Me!!!!

So now I'm across the mountain and decide that I will listen to the RV GPS for a little bit. Where does she take me – onto the Pennsylvania Turnpike. I had been trying to avoid paying tolls and now I've been forced onto one. I always thought turnpikes were supposed to be better roads which is one reason why you pay to use them. Not in Pennsylvania. I will say the scenery was beautiful – huge mountains covered with trees. They are much softer than the Rockies – they make me feel better just to look at them.

I am spending a couple of nights in Elverson Pennsylvania at the French Creek State Park. Both Miko and I will like having a little down time and not have to travel.  I just feel very comfortable in the state parks - they make me happy to be in them. 
Pennsylvania has some strange pet rules for their campgrounds. If the campground has five loops and you have a pet, you can only camp in one of the five loops. Every other state I've been in you could camp anyplace in the park with your dog. They also do not allow alcohol in their park, so according to all the online reviews I've read, you need to do stealth drinking if you choose to imbide.

No pictures, I've just been driving.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

We were actually tourists today.

In northern Ohio, between Cleveland and Akron, there is Cuyahoga National Park. Who knew? It is Ohio's only National Park and as is true for all National Parks, it deserved a visit. It is a fairly new National Park as it was created in 2000 as an urban park. The urban is perhaps an exaggeration, there are a few small villages contained within the 33,000 acre, 22 mile long park.

Miko and I were going hiking. After spending days on end, cooped up in the RV, we were going to get out into nature. Become one with the woods. Cavort with the flora and fauna. Refresh our inner pagan.

First up was the Brandywine Falls Trail. Imagine my surprise when I pulled into the parking lot and found two school buses already parked there. Two busloads of middle school students. So much for communing in a quiet natural setting. It actually wasn't too bad as they had already almost finished their hike, so I didn't have to step aside for the hordes as they passed us on the trail.

Brandywine Falls is Ohio's 2nd tallest falls at 65 feet. The trail goes around the gorge. You trek down into the gorge, looking at all of the signs that say “Bridge Out Ahead – Caution”, wondering if you are going to be able to complete this trail. Evidently several years ago, the foot bridge had been washed away in a flood and never been replaced. When I got to the river, it was fairly easy to get across using the rocks. Miko wasn't quite so lucky, she picked a rather deep part of the river to cross and missed her footing and got a rather refreshing dip.
 The trail was lovely, going through the forest, climbing up to the falls. At the falls, there was a boardwalk to walk on which was pretty easy except for the 69 steps that you had to go down and up.

Three Natural Beauties

After we finished this hike, we headed over to the Ledges Trail. This was like an eastern mesa – a meadow where the edges had all eroded away. The trail went from the meadow down and around the bottom of the rocks. This was very shady and the rock formations were tall and impressive in their shapes and the moss that grew on them.  I really enjoyed this trail - quiet, cool.  Miko had a blast - this was "The Land of Chipmunks"


As I mentioned before, I am in an RV park. They have some special goings on this weekend and the park has become packed. I think they are celebrating Halloween. Every single site is taken. A lot of the new residents have decorated their trailers with that Halloween theme. Across the street from me, a trailer has colored strobe lights going and karaoke with some ten year old screaming and making noises – not even trying to sing. Lovely.

I am leaving the park tomorrow – I don't know where I'll be tomorrow night – the one place I was thinking about is full – weekends are always the hardest to find lodging – all the weekend warriors come out and try to fit in as much fun as they can before they go back to their day-to-day lives.