Thursday, May 31, 2012

Cooksburg, PA

My next stop was Cook Forest State Park in Cooksburg, PA.  I came to this area because I had seen several hikes in the area that I wanted to do.  But my knee was still bothering me, so I decided to take it easy.  My first day, I went on a scenic drive and stopped by Walmart (more on that below).  The view below was taken from Brady’s Bend overlook.

Most of the trails were hilly and rated moderate or difficult.  A ranger suggested the River Trail in nearby Clear Creek State Park.   She also suggested I get some hiking poles.  I had thought about these before, but thought they might be more trouble than they were worth.  I’m kind of in the middle of nowhere, but fortunately Walmart had a huge camping section and I bought a pair of poles.  The River Trail was fairly level and not too bad on the knee.  I did try out my hiking poles and see that on hilly trails they might be helpful. 

The next morning I decided to try a more difficult, but short hike (about 2 miles total) -  The Longfellow Trail and part of Tom’s run.  This is a very popular trail as it is in an old growth forest.  Some of the trees are 400 years old.  I enjoyed the hike.  While I enjoyed my time in Washington, DC and some of the other cities I’ve been to recently, this is what I really enjoy doing – seeing nature!!


The tree above was fairly close to the start of the trail.  It looked to me as though it is eating the rock.

I didn’t use this bench, but I appreciate it when they give us a place to rest.  After the hike, my knee wasn’t too bad so I decided to ride my bike along River road.  On the weekend there were too many cars, but during the week there was almost no traffic.  And it was a fairly level road.  Below is a picture of my lunch stop. 

At my camp site, there were a good many wild flowers.  I did not recognize the one below.  I looked it up and believe it is a Star Flower. 

I was only at this State Park for 4 days and even though I didn’t do everything I wanted to do, I enjoyed it.  It was crowded over the weekend, but most people left on Sunday and it was quiet after that.   My next stop is Sheffield, PA, which is in the middle of the Allegheny National Forest. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Woodland, PA

While in Woodland, I stayed at Woodland Campground.  I was there May 15 – 17.    Not too far from the campground is an area where they have wild elk.  One day I decided to go elk hunting, shooting with my camera, not a gun!  I saw my first elk just 30 – 40 feet from the road.  The second picture was taken from Winslow Hill, which is a popular place with the elk.  There are 2 elk in the picture, but they were far away.  

There are a couple of state parks close by.  I had planned to visit both and do some hiking.  My first was Parker Dam State Park.  My knee had been bothering me a bit recently so I thought I would keep it easy by hiking one of the easy trails and then a trail called “Trail of the New Giants”.  I was told it was rated a moderate trail and looking at the topo map it looked like there was only one steep section. The picture below was taken at the start of the New Giants trail.  I am guessing it is some sort of fungus?  The larger one was almost baseball size.

In 1985 a tornado came through this area taking down many of the trees.  A sign said they had removed a lot of the trees, but there were still many on the ground.  it was still a beautiful hike.

I finally got up the short steep section of the trail which lead to an view of the park below.

When hiking in mountainous area, I always liked going downhill better than uphill.  But I had heard many people say they didn’t like going downhill because it hurt their knees.  I never knew what they were talking about until this hike.  Going down that steep section hurt!!  But I made it, even stopping to take pictures of some columbine on the trail.

The next day, I took it really easy because my knee hurt so bad.  The only major walking I did was at Walmart.  The day after, I visited Bilger’s rocks, which probably wasn’t the smartest thing since I like to climb over and on the rocks.  But it was a neat place.  I was the only person there at the time, I later learned on the weekends they have tours of the area.

The above picture was taken from above the rocks.  After this, I found the entrance and started the walk through the rocky area.

It’s hard to judge the size of the rocks, but you can just make out the path in the middle of the picture above.  You walk under the overhang, which is probably 8 feet or higher.

Close to the entrance is this carving-

There are signs all over warning people against damaging the rocks (drawing or carving).  But this carving is dated 1921.  It was hard to get a picture of the entire carving and the words ( I managed to cut off the year and artists initials).  I wondered what the artist was thinking to create this--  “The World is looking to US”.

Other pictures of the area-


My next stop was Cook Forest State Park. 

Amish Country, PA

My next stop was in Intercourse, PA.  I know strange name, but that’s the name of the town!  May 6 – 13 I stayed at Beacon Hill Campground, which was surrounded by farms.  This old truck was at the entrance to the campground.

I love looking at farms, this one was just across from the campground.

Depending on the wind, the manure smell could be interesting.  Actually one day I had gone somewhere and left the fans on in the RV, so that it was pulling air from the outside into the RV.  When I got back to the RV, my propane detector was going off.  I immediately opened the door and it smelled as though several cows had been living in my RV.  After a few minutes it aired out and no more alarm.  I suppose it was methane??  It really wasn’t bad, you got used to the smell very quickly.

There are a lot of covered bridges in the area.  I started a tour of about 8 of them, but the weather messed up my plans.  I only got to 3 of them before I decided it wasn’t worth driving around in a storm!

Longwood Gardens was not too far from the campground, so I decided to visit one day.  It is a beautiful garden with several fountains and lots of flowers.


They were preparing for an upcoming event – Light Nights, and were making some of the light structures.  They were using bottles of water and fiber optics to make these.

You can see the finished products at   The lights are in picture 3 of the automatic rotating pictures. 

I enjoyed driving and biking the back roads looking at the farms.

My next stop was Woodland, PA.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Washington, DC–Part 3


One day I decided to spend the day walking to and around all the outdoor memorials.  This was one of my more enjoyable days in DC, and I got some good exercise – walked about 8 miles.   I started with the Washington Monument, which is still closed due to the earthquake damage from last year.  From there I headed to the Jefferson Memorial.  I stopped across the Tidal Basin to get a picture of the memorial. 

Since I had all day, I spent time reading many of the quotes around the monuments.

George Mason Memorial -

The Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial was different.  It had 3 or 4 statues of FDR, several waterfalls, the group of people waiting in line (in my DC – part 1 blog), and an odd wall that I couldn’t really figure out.

There were a lot of school kids there and they loved this particular statue.

This is just a small part of the wall in the FDR memorial, that I don’t understand.  There may have been something to explain it, but I didn’t see it.  

The Korean War Memorial is one of several memorials that I had not seen before.  I had read about the reflection of the statues in the marble wall.

The Lincoln Memorial was probably the most crowded.

It seems everywhere I go there is some type of construction going on.  This is a view from the Lincoln Memorial of the reflecting pool (no water!) and the Washington Monument.

Albert Einstein Memorial, located outside of the National Academy of Sciences.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial -

Vietnam Women’s Memorial

World War II Memorial -

Of course, I had to go to the National Zoo.   A picture of one of the Panda’s was posted in part 1 of this blog.  I got to the zoo fairly early and the panda’s were quite active.  The lions were also fairly active.

Everyone enjoyed watching the orangutan cross the O-Line  or OTS(Orangutan Transport Line).

I ended up spending almost 2 weeks in the DC area and needed every minute of it!

My next stop was Pennsylvania’s Amish Country.  I am now only a couple of weeks behind.   I am currently in Sheffield, PA in the middle of the Allegheny National Forest and will be here until just after Memorial Day.  I don’t have any TV, but have internet access and plenty of places to hike!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Washington, DC–Part 2

I spent a couple of hours in the National American History Museum.  I find it interesting that some of the items made it to a History Museum.

Archie Bunker’s Chair--

Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers --

Even though it seems like a fairly new item, the electric car below is a 1904 model!

Years ago, a co-worker and I were taking a class in Reston, VA and drove into DC late at night to see some of the memorials.  I enjoyed it and wanted to see them again at night.  But I didn’t want to do this by myself, so I took a tour.   The tour started a little before sunset, so the first couple of picture don’t really look like night time shots.

White House -

Jefferson Memorial-

Jefferson Memorial from a different view-

MLK Memorial – (just opened last year)

Washington Memorial, with the capital in the background.  This was taken from the MLK memorial.

After several Downtown DC days, I decided I wanted a non-DC day.  I went to Great Falls Park on the Potomac.  I did a little bit of hiking and enjoyed the falls.

The Hirshhorn Museum is an interesting museum, much more modern than the other art gallery I went to (National Art Gallery of Art).

They were having a special exhibit, called Suprasensorial; Experiments in Light, Color and Space.  I don’t know that I would call some of the things art, but they were interesting.

The above was basically a blue room (not sure if paint or blue lights) and lights.  The fence like structure are fluorescent lights.

Below is Pablo Picasso’s Women with Baby Carriage.

I did go to the National Gallery of Art, but didn’t stay too long, this type of art isn’t really my thing.  I searched out a few of their big name items, such as the one below.

Vincent Van Gough’s Self Portrait.

One of the newer Smithsonian Museums, is the National Museum of the American Indian.

I appreciated the meaning of this sculpture.  It Symbolized the O’odham journey through life.  The description said “It’s about seeing what is ahead and choosing which path to follow”. 

The United States Botanic Garden was another way to get away from the museums and the crowds.  They were having a special exhibit on orchids, which made it even better!

The rose garden in the outdoor garden-

Some Orchids--

A room based on Oriental gardens-

While walking around the Mall area, I saw this--

McDonald’s has a couple of McDonald’s Express locations.  These are basically like lunch carts.  My guess is they could not get real delivery trucks to these locations, so they have this “Big Mac One” mini-mini van.  It is not road legal and they can drive it on the sidewalks.

One day, I thought I was going to be lazy.  The plan was to go to Arlington National Cemetery and then go back to the campground and do laundry.  I ended up walking about 5 miles at the cemetery. 

Changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier(World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam)--

I did not know that there is no longer a body in the Vietnam tomb.  He was removed from the tomb, and identified by DNA in 1998. 

Above is the Tomb of Unknown Soldiers from the Civil War. 

The Space Shuttle Challenger Memorial sits next to the Iran Rescue Memorial and the Space Shuttle Columbia Memorial.

I also went to the National Archives and saw the Declaration of Independence and The Constitution.  The cabinets that these were in, were interesting.  I watched a video on how they made these and then moved the documents.  I don’t remember exactly, but I believe the cases for these documents cost 5 million dollars.

If you are like me and prefer my normal outdoor and nature pictures, I only have one more blog on my Washington trip.