Home Again, Home Again

Day 52: Thursday, June 20, 2013
Start: Duncannon, PA
End: Amherst, NH
Miles Driven Today: 450
Total Miles: 9,378

It’s over. I’m sitting here in my easy chair, getting used to home again. There’s a huge pile of mail to sort through. Bags to unpack. Laundry to be done. But that’s for tomorrow.

We had another lovely visit with Bob and Sharon yesterday. Sitting around the kitchen table, we caught up on the trip and the happenings in the almost two months since we last saw them. It was a nice respite before the final sprint home, and visiting with good friends was a fit way to start and end this grand adventure.

Of course, Jasmine felt right at home and climbed up onto the kitchen table. Perhaps she wanted to get in on the conversation. Or perhaps, she was just a little thirsty!

Singha! Jasmine's favorite brand!

Singha! Jasmine’s favorite brand!

Juliet spent the evening searching for food. She sniffed (and snarfed) every inch of the house, looking for tidbits of food that the resident dog, Lily, had dropped on the floor, under furniture, etc. She was driving us nuts! I think we’ve created a monster… 🙂

Buddies

Buddies

We have marveled at how much both dogs have changed throughout this journey. Jasmine is much quicker to acclimate to a new situation. She co-existed with Lily after a few minutes. Perhaps it’s because she had met Lily on the way out. But climbing on the table, accepting treats from everyone, and running around the house without her tail between her legs…such progress. Juliet is so much more curious, confident and STUBBORN. True Dachshund traits are coming out. But what’s really great is to see the two dogs finally bonding.

Our final leg of open road

Our final leg of open road

We’ve had a great run. NOTHING bad happened to us. No flat tires. No pickpockets. No items stolen from our room. No car trouble. Rarely any crowds. No tornadoes. No forest fires. We’ve had an incredible experience and the trip of a lifetime. I’ll summarize it all this weekend, after a bit of sleep and settling in!

Today’s travels were long, but relatively easy. There had been an accident on the bridge through Harrisburg a few weeks ago, so we decided to skip going through Harrisburg and went some backroads to reach the Interstate. So, once again, we had some picturesque travels across open roads.

But we were soon motoring our way back to New Hampshire. We flowed through New York, retracing some of our route on the Turnpike to the East of the Catskills and then through Mass and up home to New Hampshire. We hit very little heavy traffic except for areas with road work. Even then, we made it home in around 8 hours.

Back to New York

Back to New York

Massachusetts - We skipped it on the way out

Massachusetts – We skipped it on the way out

Close to home

Close to home

Waiting for us when we got home was a huge pile of mail, some packages we sent home, and Tom’s prized piece of Acoma pottery that we purchased in Albuquerque. It was a great welcome home, along with an in-tact house (thanks Sam!).

Acoma Pottery by Michael & Robin Romero

Acoma Pottery by Michael & Robin Romero

All is well. We’re a bit sad that the trip is over. But there’s really no place like home. As we were driving the last few minutes until we reached our house, I looked at the lush landscape that we call home. We’ve seen a lot of beautiful places and driven some wonderful open road. But seeing our town…the road home rivals any of the picturesque and quaint backroads we took.

It’s good to be back.

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Back in Pennsylvania

Day 51: Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Start: Winchester, VA
End: Duncannon, PA
Miles Driven Today: 141
Total Miles: 8,928

Today was a day to visit friends. We started out in Winchester and headed just 30 minutes East to visit one of Tom’s former colleagues, Paris Resnick. Paris now owns and runs the Moose Apple Christmas Tree Farm in Berryville, VA.

It was a short but lovely drive to the farm. Our open road was quite nice.

Today's open road - Berryville, VA

Today’s open road – Berryville, VA

We were soon at the farm. Perfectly manicured Christmas trees greeted us at the foot of the driveway.

Arriving at Moose Apple Christmas Tree Farm

Arriving at Moose Apple Christmas Tree Farm

As we pulled up the driveway, we saw a fabulous log cabin. There was a huge wrap-around porch (which we later found out wrapped ALL the way around the large house).

Moose Apple Christmas Tree Farm - Log Cabin

Moose Apple Christmas Tree Farm – Log Cabin

We got a tour of the place. They have a nice variety of trees. What was great was that it was quiet…but not. Tons of birds were chirping and darting amongst the trees; sweet voices surrounded us. We spotted a bunny in the blueberry patch. There were nests all around the rafters. A little paradise!

The farm does (not surprisingly) almost all of their business between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but many people come out in October to pick and tag their trees. The farm will also be hosting a wine tasting in October with a local winery. Taste a bit of vino, pick out a tree…come back and cut it down. Sweet!

Tom and Paris

Tom and Paris

The inside of the house was even more spectacular than the outside! And the handmade crafts were fabulous! Kathy, Paris’ wife, paints and their daughter makes stained glass and fused glass (we bought an ornament). The farm also has jams, jellies and syrups made specifically for them. I picked up a jug or two of Brandy Vanilla Syrup. YUM!

We said goodbye to the Resnicks and motored on to Duncannon, PA to visit Bob and Sharon. Our route took us through an unusual part of the area where we were in three states in a matter of five minutes. We traveled from West Virginia to Virginia and into Maryland in a short spell! What travelers we are!

Hello there Maryland!

Hello there Maryland!

We were soon in Pennsylvania and headed for our final destination.

Hello again, Pennsylvania!

Hello again, Pennsylvania!

It was good to be in familiar territory! We started out our journey here; it was fitting that this be our last stop! Jasmine was looking forward to the visit!

Checkin' out the scenery

Checkin’ out the scenery

Perhaps Jasmine likes it here because she gets away with a lot. She climbed onto the kitchen table from my lap. Sharon’s response? “She’s allowed to do that HERE!” 🙂

Dogs are allowed on the kitchen table here!

Dogs are allowed on the kitchen table here!

We’ll stay the night here, and then we’re heading HOME. Yes, our journey is coming to an end.

Of course, before we left for home, we had to see one more thing…

First there was Margaretville, then...

First there was Margaretville, then…

One Day, Four States

Day 5
Start: Duncannon, PA
End: Burlington, KY
Miles Driven: 504

West Virginia

Welcome to West Virginia

Ohio

Welcome to Ohio

Kentucky

Welcome to Kentucky

Today was a travel day. Eleven hours, 504 miles and one emergency pit stop later, we arrived in Kentucky. We left Duncannon around 8 a.m. and hopped on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Even though it was a fast-moving Interstate, it snaked through some lovely country. Rolling hills, farmland, barns painted with tobacco ads…we saw another bit of Americana.

To get to our destination, we crossed three state lines, making the day a four-state extravaganza! West Virginia was just a blur–we were barely there for fifteen minutes before we catapulted into Ohio. But hey, we got a picture of the Welcome sign. It counts!

We were about half-way across Ohio, and I was getting a bit weary of large semis and road construction. I suggested that we get off the Interstate and venture on some back roads. We got off at Route 79 and made a stop at Buckeye Lake. Juliet especially enjoyed the stop as she rolled around in goose poop! It was another beautiful day, and we sat in the sun for a few minutes and watched families picnic and a fisherman catch a sizable fish. Then it was off to Route 22 West.

Buckeye Lake

Buckeye Lake, OH.

Aside: We have been noticing that this driving tour is turning out to be a water tour as well. South of Pittsburg, we crossed the Monongahela River. We also crossed the Ohio River (WV border), the Licking River, and the Scioto River (OH). On our way to Duncannon, we were around the Chesapeake Basin, and we criss-crossed the Susquehanna river many times. We went over the East Branch of the Delaware River around the Pepacton Reservoir. We’ll cross the Mississippi, and maybe even the Rio Grande.

We drove through Lancaster, Circleville, and on to Wilmington. We were going to take Route 22 all the way to highway 275 near the Ohio/Kentucky border, but Jasmine’s tender stomach required an emergency pit stop, lots of wipes and a very large trash bag. 😦 So we made our way back to the Interstate and motored on to Kentucky.

We arrived at our destination around 7 p.m. and were immediately greeted by Minda and Pete, their kids Sam and Grace, and their dog Sparky. You’ll have to wait for the next post to find out what happened next!

Racing Around

Day 4
Visited: Perry and Cumberland Counties, Newville, Wormleysburg
Miles Driven: None (passengers)

We decided to spend another day with Bob and Sharon rather than meandering half-way to Cincinnati. We’ll have a long day of driving tomorrow, but we didn’t want to cut our visit short. And boy, am I glad that we decided to stay.

Cobra

Vroooom!

Bob is a former race car driver and car builder. He built this Cobra by himself, and I was fortunate enough to be taken for a ride around the back roads of Duncannon.

WOW!

WOW!

WOW does not capture how much fun it was to ride in this custom sportster. We drove through tree-lined roads in the warm sunshine and listened to the roar of the engine. The four-part strap made me feel like a passenger in a race car. All along the way, people stopped to look at this magnificent piece of machinery. It was a fine, fine morning!

Waggoners Gap

What a view!

What a view!

After my joy ride, we all decided to take another drive. We drove up to Waggoners Gap with a view of both Perry and Cumberland counties. When we stopped to look a the sadly obstructed view (chain link fence is my nemesis), a couple stopped to let us know that there was a trail up to a vista that would give us a view of both sides of the mountain. We hiked up the very short trail and found a well-groomed area with a picnic area and a stone amphitheater above the unobstructed view of Cumberland county.

We enjoyed the view and the sunshine (a perfect day!) and then headed down into the valley. Sharon had brought her newly-purchased Quilt Store directory, and we found the Honey Bee Quilt Shop in Newville. This was the third quilt shop in two days…what a treat! Sharon and I had a ball, and the boys were entertained by the husband of the owner. The shop was in the basement of the owner’s home. Needless to say, Sharon was tickled pink!

Another day, another great drive…followed by a waterfront dinner at the Rock Bass Grill. We leave tomorrow morning, but we still have another night around the dining room table. By far, this has been my favorite part of the visit–catching up with good friends.

Amish Country

Day 3
Visited: Bird-in-Hand and Intercourse, PA
Miles Driven: None (passengers)

In the heart of Amish Country

In the heart of Amish Country

Today was absolutely beautiful. Bob and Sharon took us to Amish Country–specifically to Bird-in-Hand and to Intercourse (which caused a lot of sniggering over my FourSquare check in).

We started out on our food and shopping odyssey at Smile Spinners in Marysville to work up a hearty appetite. The boys opted to stay in the truck. Smart men! 🙂

We had lunch at the Bird-in-Hand Family Restaurant and ate our way across the Smorgasbord spread. Ham balls, broasted chicken, chicken pot pie (really, chicken & dumplings) and Shoo Fly pie were the staples. After we waddled out of the place, we went on to Intercourse to shop at The Old Country Store and the accompanying Quilt Museum. Lots of great quilts, fabrics and handmade Amish crafts. We also visited Kitchen Kettle Village and sampled the handmade jams, jellies and pickles made there (not easy to do on a full stomach).

Buggy TimeWe then drove around the area, seeing the Amish and Mennonite farmers tilling their fields, traveling with their families in horse-drawn buggies…everything you would expect in this idyllic part of America. The sun was shining, the conversation and the company were wonderful, and we just had great day immersed in a different culture and a piece of our country’s history.

Amish CountryWe are going to stay here until Friday morning instead of leaving tomorrow. We’ll have to make some good time to our next stop, but it will be well worth the extra time we can spend with Bob and Sharon.

Corning Museum and Central PA

Day Two
Start: Corning, NY
End: Duncannon, PA
Miles Driven: 157

Bob

Bob – He doesn’t bite (very often)

What a lovely smile!

Doesn’t Sharon have a lovely smile!

We’re sitting here in Duncannon, PA, sipping cold, frosty beverages and greatly enjoying the hospitality and company of our friends, Bob and Sharon. We met Bob and Sharon a number of years ago during our (then) annual trek to Maui, and got to know them from years of great evening conversations around the stone table, soft breezes fanning the friendship. And here we are in their home, picking up on those conversations again.

We had another great day. We started out at the Corning Museum of Glass. If you thought that Corning was just about Corningware, you are sadly mistaken. From Thomas Edison’s light bulb to the most wonderful art glass, Corning’s history is fascinating, and their collection of glass is beyond imagination. From millefiori canes depicting Egyptian kings to contemporary sculpture, the HUGE collection is magnificent and somewhat overwhelming! We watched the Hot Glass demo (the first vase broke!), the lampwork demo and the Breaking Glass show (HINT: Volunteer to break the glass and get a free figurine–I got a penguin) and went through the galleries. After a few hours, we were glassy-eyed (yeah, a bad pun) and started on our trek down to Duncannon.

Swirly bowl

Swirly bowl

Chihuly Sculpture in the CMOG lobby

Chihuly Sculpture in the CMOG lobby

The drive to Duncannon was pleasant. Route 15 is a four-lane semi-highway (and sometimes local two-lane road) through pretty country. When you think of PA, you think of the urban areas…but the rolling hills and the drive along Susquehanna River made for another pleasant journey. Of course, there were sights that made us both laugh and scratch our heads–the Nipple Convalescent home, the propensity for Adult Bookstores…hmmmm. We did have a great lunch at Fry Bros. Turkey Ranch Restaurant (truck stop decor, the best Turkey Vegetable Soup I’ve had anywhere) in Trout Run, PA, and an even more fabulous dinner thanks to Sharon.

We’re now sitting around the dining room, once again sharing good conversation and laughs. Tomorrow, we are going to visit Amish country and go to a restaurant that serves ham balls. When in Rome…

Another great day in Paradise, USA.

– Margaret

P.S. Any grammatical or spelling errors are directly attributable to the Vodka Cranberry beverages coursing through my bloodstream as I type.