So…..we’re back! We’ve actually been back in Pennsylvania since the end of August, but haven’t managed to eek out a blog post. PA brings out the slacker in me!
Our first week back in PA was awesome. We stayed at French Creek State Park in Elverson and met our friends David and Sharon there. David and Sharon sold their Bed &Breakfast, Butterfly Hollow, outside of Nashville last year and are on the road full time.
They were coming from a week up in the Poconos, and we were coming in from Ohio. The park is rather large and has a couple of entrances…..and as timing would have it, we both arrived (without any prior planning) at the same time--coming in from two different entrances. Seriously, what are the odds?!?
Since it was our first week back in Pennsylvania, we unfortunately had some work and personal stuff to take care of, so we didn’t get to hang with David and Sharon as much as we would have liked to, but still had a great time. Dang work and appointments getting in the way of fun!! One of our biggest challenges, which hasn’t been an issue until we got back here, was the limitation of having just one car. The other challenge was French Creek was just a little far out for many of the things we needed to do, so our location proved to be a little challenging, but we managed!!
Won’t bore you with the details of all of the appointments and a quick work trip to Chicago, but will share with you some of the fun highlights:
Tortillas. Yes, tortillas were our first highlight. David and Sharon had us over for dinner (they were staying in the non pet loop, so “over” was another loop) and had assembled a fantastic dinner, which included homemade tortillas. We never want to eat tortillas from the store again….but of course we will. Remember….slackers!!! But, they were really awesome and tasted so much better than those from the store.
Sharon took this picture. How can you tell? Greg is smiling.
I take a 1000 pics, no smiles. Sharon takes one pic, perfect smile.
The tortilla production line
Paddling. We both have inflatable kayaks, so we decided to take out our kayaks for a nice paddle…..except we ended up at the smaller lake, which meant we did little paddling, some floating and a lot of chatting. Chatting was much better than paddling anyway!!! (Slackers!!)
We have a Hobie Mirage i14t Inflatable Kayak.
It has traditional paddles and also has foot pedals/fins.
Two ways to power this beast....we mainly use the pedals! (because....slackers)
Sightseeing. Yes, we were back in Pennsylvania, staying 20 miles from where we spent the last 15 years (45+ for Greg), but right next to the State Park was the Hopewell Furnace, a National Historical Site. Hopewell Furnace operated from 1771-1883, as an "iron plantation" and consists of 14 restored structures on a total of 848 mostly wooded acres. The property is lined with apples trees, and the many buildings can be toured and we were lucky enough to be there for a demonstration.
Here's David pounding sand.
Products of the furnace
Another product of the furnace....
Hopewell Furnace was founded by ironmaster Mark Bird for whom the town Birdsboro was named. The many acres and buildings created an almost self contained little world which included housing, a small store, farm land, and iron master's house, etc. We spent almost a half of a day here and honestly, could have spent a little longer. Also, as a bonus this time of year, you can also do some apple picking for a buck a pound. The rest of the park is totally free!! Truly a hidden gem! (OK, maybe it's not hidden, but it sure took us a long time to find it!!)
Inside the Iron Master's house
Is it me, or do they look too big to be nursing?
Mardi Gras mask or tree bark....
David and Sharon in front of the furnace waterwheel
We followed up our tour with a nice lunch in St. Peter’s Village, which is a quaint little village that way back in the day, provided housing for some of the area iron mines and granite quarries.
Inn at St. Peter's Village
After lunch we did a speed tour through Valley Forge National Park, which was really cool (quick, but cool!). Visiting these sites really brings back the history lessons….but definitely gives you whole lot more perspective than sitting in a classroom.
Valley Forge was the site of the 1777-78 winter encampment of the Continental Army. It was here, after a couple of failed battles and amidst the cold, sickness, and hardship, that Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben developed and carried out an effective training program, which was instrumental as Washington’s Army merged to pursue and successfully engage Lt. Gen. Sir Henry Clinton's British army at the Battle of Monmouth in New Jersey--a turning point in the war. I’m all about an effective training program!! Cost was great too....free!!
We arrived at the end of the day, so no re-enactments. Just packing up!!
One of the encampment cabins.....shared by many men!
Happy Hour’ing. We spent many of Friday nights enjoying happy hour with our friends, Bri, Col, Pam and Tom. At one point I attempted to count how many Friday night happy hours we all enjoyed together and well, let’s just say it is probably several hundred (okay, it's at least 1000, but that really sounds like a lot....like we may have a problem or something).
We were excited to share our Friday night traditional with David and Sharon, but it was also sad as it was our last happy hour at Bri and Col’s basement bar—Doachie’s. Bri and Col have (had) a legitimate basement bar, with a a fridge filled with about 20 different beers, two beers on tap, full bar and of course a logo and full line of logo wear.
They purchased a cool new house and are moving up the road and will be hopefully re-launching Doachie’s II soon. And, as usual, Bri was very hospitable sharing his love of beer with David, which ultimately led to some very creative songwriting ideas (for David.) Can’t wait to hear some of his new songs!!
More Sightseeing. We wrapped up our time with David and Sharon with a very monumental trip to Philly. Since Sharon did such a wonderful job recapping our trip, I just copied it from her Facebook posting:
"Philadelphia is such a wonderful city, so full of history. It was an honor to stand by The Liberty Bell with its historic crack right outside of Independence Hall. To hear the sound of the baseball crack when the Phillies hit a home run, but the unexpected crack of the naked bike parade that stopped traffic continues to crack me up."
The Philadephia Naked Bike Ride. Apparently, this is really a "thing". The purpose of the ride is to promote fuel conscious consumption, positive body image, and cycling advocacy....oh, and to raise money for body paint for pre-ride body painting. The naked bike ride is not only a Philly thing, it's a "thing" all over the world.Check it out; could be coming to an town near you!! Again, it was all timing as this was something we didn't set out to do/see.
This should make you think twice before you rent a bike in Philly!
This (and Phillies game) were the real reason we went to Philly!
Along with a naked bikeride, we also got to witness something else rare--a Phillies win!! We were glad to be there for a win and were also lucky enough to score some seats in a suite which included lots of free food and beer!! Score!!
What else can I say…..Philly doesn’t disappoint, that’s for sure. The Pope is coming to Philly next week; I just hope we can keep it together for that!!!
Well, those are our highlights from our first week back in Pennsylvania. We really did have an awesome time and it was nice to approach our first week a little like tourists....before reality set in!! We left French Creek on August 30 and moved over to Brandywine Creek Campground for the next six weeks.