Lancaster, PA, to Onsted, MI

Lancaster, PA, to Blue Knob SP, Imbler, PA

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Hot, sunny, 90º

At last!

We left our home after a picture-taking session with neighbor, Mary Kay, at 3:40 in the afternoon. It had been a hectic day, doing all the final little things that needed to be done as we left our house for five months. We had Blue Knob State Park in mind as a destination. Not too ambitious since we weren’t sure how ambitious we’d be on departure day.

Packed Up and Leaving Lancaster
Packed Up and Leaving Lancaster

It had been many years since we drove west on US-30 and we’re not sure if we’d ever actually followed US-30 itself this far west. Usually we’d have taken the PA Turnpike. Anyway, we were surprised and delighted with the bucolic countryside and beautiful vistas as we transited the mountainous terrain. Oh, did I mention that gas mileage sucks hauling even our little camper up and down all those hills? The steep climb to Cowan’s Gap and the steep descent that followed were pretty memorable.

We arrived at Blue Knob SP about 8:00 pm. We’d never been there, of course, and were surprised at the steep climb to the campground within the park. We did the self-registration thing, set up camp and prepared a simple dinner of canned baked beans with left-over hot dogs and hamburger complimented by a salad. It actually tasted pretty good, but then most anything would after such a long day!

Blue Knob SP, PA, to Barkcamp SP, Belmont, OH

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Overcast am, sunny pm

Showers were tops on the list followed by a light breakfast. We met the local ranger early in the morning and he stopped by after breakfast to check out our Aliner camper and to talk about the park. The park Naturalist also happened by. As we talked she complained about how difficult it was to maintain signage at the park as porcupines were forever chewing up both the wooden and aluminum signs!

We took the small drive up to the top of the Blue Knob downhill area. Blue Knob is the second tallest spot in Pennsylvania and the mountain is said to be the highest skiable mountain in PA and, at more than 1,000 feet vertical drop, also one of the most challenging. Unlike most downhill areas, this one is centered on the peak with all lifts coming together at the top of the mountain. We also checked out the advertized xc-ski area at the resort on the mountain but found it is simply a couple of miles of trails groomed on the golf course; not much to get excited about.

Ski Lifts at Blue Knob Look Like Something Out of Star Wars
Ski Lifts at Blue Knob Look Like Something Out of Star Wars

Leaving the park, we headed to nearby Flight 93 National Memorial. The memorial is in it’s second phase of development. A new “wall of names” is in place identifying all the innocent killed in the crash. And a new parking area, walkway, exhibits and pavilion have been erected. The wall is aligned with the flight path of the plane and a lane is kept mowed from the end of the wall to a large rock that marks the actual crater area. The debris area around the crash site is fenced off permanently since most of the remains were never recovered and the area is considered a burial site. In all it seems a respectful memorial as it should be.

Flowers Left in Niches in Wall Along Walk to Wall of Names at Flight 93 Memorial
Flowers Left in Niches in Wall Along Walk to Wall of Names at Flight 93 Memorial

We continued our drive toward Ohio, following US-40 up and down more spectacular hills and passing many beautiful farms and some pretty glorious vistas. Especially notable was the three-mile descent into Uniontown where the truck speed was posted at 10 mph! We chose Barkcamp SP in Belmont, OH, as our stopping point for no other reason than we were getting tired of driving and it was that time of day. Dinner was more of the food cleaned out of our home refrigerator, this time gazpacho and another salad.

General Store at Barkcamp State Park

Barkcamp SP to W J Hayes SP, Onsted, MI

Monday, June 3, 2013

Mid 40s and overcast am, clear & sunny pm, with a high in the mid-60s

We hoped, today, to connect with one-time-live-a-board Chesapeake sailing friends who’d moved to Tecumseh, MI, years ago. So we chose W J Hayes State Park near Tecumseh and headed for it, trying to contact them by phone.

There wasn’t much of interest to us on the direct route. So we took a little detour to Port Clinton near the southwest corner of Lake Erie and visited the pretty lighthouse at Marblehead. We climbed the steps to the top and took in the beautiful view of the lake. We might have stayed in the area but we were still hoping to connect with our friends. Also, the Port Clinton area seems slanted toward fishing and partying which wasn’t our top priority.

Descending Stairs in Marblehead Lighthouse
Descending Stairs in Marblehead Lighthouse

We never succeeded in making contact with our friends, but liked the park when we finally arrived about 6:00 pm and stayed anyway. It was a beautiful, cool evening. Dinner was pasta with maple sausage and steamed string beans.