We have begun our journey home to Texas. I’ve named this trip “Home for the Holidays” on my Trip Planner. The truth is, we are excited to head home and see family, but we are just as excited to be taking the scenic route! We had a wonderful last week in Ohio. Before we left, we took advantage of the beautiful Camp Chautauqua to get a few cute photos of the kids – our “fall pictures”. They are growing up so fast! Tyler is in 2nd grade this year and Emily is a 7th grader! Wow!
We also visited the Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati. It was very eye-opening and we learned a lot of history as well. This had been on my list all summer. Glad we got to do it before we left.
We had planned ahead and chose that day to do the Freedom Center because the Texas Rangers were playing the Reds that night in Cincinnati! Unfortunately, the Reds beat us that night, but it was still a lot of fun! The kids even got certificates because it was their first Reds game. Pretty cool! The stadium is beautiful and overlooks the Ohio River.
We left Camp Chautauqua, Ohio on Thursday, August 25th, spent a couple of nights at Salt Fork State Park, Ohio, where we got some much-needed down time.
We then continued heading east! We went through a little sliver of West Virginia and then into Pennsylvania! Yes, we realize that Pennsylvania is not on the way home to Texas. No, we don’t care! 🙂
We also went through our first tunnel in our rig. It was pretty cool. We knew we were ok because the semi-trucks in front of us were ok. Ha! Tyler thinks they are so cool. He puts his hands in the air everytime we go through them now and says, “I put my hands in the air like I just do not care.” LOL! Funny kid.
Pennsylvania State Parks are beautiful, but it’s been interesting getting into them. They are way off the beaten path, which isn’t completely a negative. It just makes them interesting to get to in our Big Rig. Also, there hasn’t been anyone manning the gate at the entrance, so you have to know where you’re going. There’s no one there to call or to get a map from. Also, many of the state parks we’ve stayed at in Ohio and Pennsylvania don’t have individual water hookups, so we’ve had to fill our fresh tank and use it. Not a big deal, just different from what we’ve experienced previously. We love our external water tank. We can throw it on the back of the truck to go refill, bring it back and add it to our fresh tank. No biggie! That was a great buy.
Sunday, August 28, 2016
We arrived at Keystone State Park, PA yesterday afternoon. The drive from Salt Fork SP was pretty easy…mostly interstate. When we got to the park, we followed the “camping” signage and ended up on a narrow bridge and a hill we couldn’t climb. We couldn’t get up enough speed and momentum before the hill. Paul somehow ended up backing the rig up back across the narrow bridge to find a tight corner to turn around. It was a little tense, to say the least, but he handled it like a pro. The signage was not installed at all with big rigs in mind. We found an alternate route down a road called Slag Rd. It was also pretty tight, but a step up from the previous route. We were pretty rattled after our little mishap, so we pulled over to catch our breath. A nice couple pulled up to check on us. As it turned out, they were staying in the same area as us, so they offered to lead us to our site. We were so grateful to them. Our site was nice and big, as we had seen on the satellite image, so we had very little problem getting into it. We have started using satellite images when booking our sites. So far, that has helped a lot with making sure the site is big enough for us. We are getting smarter, but it seems like there is always still something we didn’t count on with getting into state parks. It’s always an adventure! We also discovered, after Paul got really OCD one night, that we are carrying a couple of hundred extra pounds of water on board each trip because our fresh water tank isn’t emptying completely. It’s going to be a big job to fix it, so it will probably have to wait until we get back home, but there are a couple of things we figured out to do to drain a little more water each time. Tomorrow, we will go exploring!
Monday, August 29, 2016
Today we planned to visit the Flight 93 Memorial and then head back to Pittsburgh to check out the Duquesne Incline and Mount Washington. I like to research cool places to visit before we go. When we only have a day or two, I just choose the things that interest me the most. We started the day at the Flight 93 Memorial, honoring the 40 American Heroes who lost their lives on that fateful day of September 11, 2001. We started out at the Visitor’s Center and Museum, reading, listening, learning, and for Paul and me, reliving. The kids were only familiar with the planes which flew into the Twin Towers in NYC, so they learned a lot by walking through as well. I was surprised by the emotion that hit me, as I watched the news clips and read the list of names. It took me right back to that time. Once we completed the museum, we walked the trail around to the crash site. Before we got all the way around, we came upon a little seating area where a park ranger was talking. We sat and listened to the stories he told of some of the individuals who were on the plane. I listened with tears rolling down my face as he talked of last phone calls and the vote the passengers took to decide to fight the terrorists. The park ranger mentioned a poem called “The Dash”, which I was familiar with. He said that he felt that poem was so appropriate for those 40 people. What they did was truly heroic. As we continued down the walkway to the crash site, where a giant boulder now lies as a memorial stone, I got the same feelings as I did when Paul and I visited the Twin Tower sites several years ago…loss, anger, sadness, death, stillness, but this time there was another emotion – pride. I felt pride in my fellow Americans for their strength and honor. They didn’t want to die that day, but they weren’t about to let those terrorists get their way either. Heroes. As we walked past the stone monument with each person’s name engraved, I read every one. Some names I recognized, some I did not, but the one that caught my heart was a lady by the name of Lauren. Beside her engraved name were the words “and unborn child”. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I imagined Lauren on that plane, then as I thought of her family. Heartbreaking stuff. After paying our respects, we made our way back to the museum and looked out the overlook down to the crashsite. The glass wall reads, “A common field one day. A field of honor forever.” Wow! There were no words to explain the jumble of emotions my heart felt at that moment. In my mind, there is no substitute for experiencing something like that. You can’t learn this stuff from a textbook. When we left the Memorial, we headed back to Pittsburgh. We had found a “British” fish and chip shop online, so we had decided to check it out. It was pretty good..not completely as Paul remembered from his English days, but tasty none-the-less. The Duquesne Incline was the next thing on our Bucket List. It was originally built in 1877 to make travel up and down Mount Washington easier. We rode the incline up the Mount and enjoyed the incredible views of Pittsburgh from the top. There is so much history in this area of the country. We are having so much fun discovering new things! The incline was so cool. Emily was a little freaked out by it, but one day she’ll be thankful that she got to experience it! At least, that’s what I keep telling her! 🙂
Loved the Pittsburgh area! Wish we were there longer to explore a little more! Next time, Pittsburgh!