When life gives you lemons, go ride Lemonade!

Western Pennsylvania & a bit of West Virginia

We arrive at the state park late in the day on Friday before Memorial Day and the campground is packed with weekenders.  We ride to our site and find that it is very good site.  Close to the restrooms but not crowded onto its neighbors.  We have three days until we leave and each has a planned itinerary.

First is a loop south with the first stop at architect Frank Lloyd Wright's "Falling Water House".  The house is not his, he designed it for a individual but his name is the one associated with it.  It is one of his most famous designs.  We did not get an inside tour, the wait was too long but we did tour the grounds and the lower deck.  The house is interesting with lots of glass and decks, including one just a foot above the water at the top of the falls (out of sight in the shadow in the picture).  But all of them look at the woods, I'd have built the house on the other bank and looked at the falls instead of having them under the house.  But that's just me, and not the owner.



The next thing in the schedule is an accident!  That is Accident, Maryland.  I have no idea why the town is named Accident but it was nearby and in this Accident we didn't get hurt (unlike the one in Italy).

This is as far into town as we went.  We didn't want to push our luck and have an accident in Accident!







The next stop for day one is at an original tollhouse on the National Road.  This road was opened by the Federal government in 1842 but was turned over to the states after about ten years.  The states built tollhouses and charged to use the road, six pence for a horse and rider.  It didn't list motorcycles and trailers.








Along the "Pike" as it was known were roadhouses and places to stay.  Several of these cabins and "Ordinaries" (taverns) have been brought into a Spruce Forest near an old stone bridge on the pike.  These buildings are now used by artisans to produce their handcrafts and to sell them.  We didn't buy anything but had a good time looking.







Day two we went to Pittsburg.  What a mess to drive in on a Sunday/holiday weekend.  Our first stop was lunch at Primati Bros. sandwich shop.  The Food Network had rated this sandwich at the #1 in America.  It was alright but it is a long ways from the best in the country.  It is two slices of bread, a meat patty, French fries, coleslaw and a slice of tomato.  The meat patty was not a hamburger, it was a much finer grind on the meat, more like a meatloaf or mystery meat patty.  It tasted OK but not as great at the Food Network claimed.

We had lucked out and got free parking in a nearby industrial area.






Next is a visit to the Duquesne Incline.  A railroad up the side of a bluff.  It was built in 1877 so that workers could live on the hill and still get to work.  Then it cost a nickel, now it is $2.50 each way.  We both rode the round trip for $5.00 because seniors are free.

Again we found free parking.







The last stop today is at the Hofbrauhaus for a beer.  Our first visit to this brewery's beer gardens was in Munich, Germany.  Later we went to their tent in Oktoberfest.  The parent company has created several franchises in America.  We have been to the ones in Las Vegas, San Antonio, and Helen, GA.  Now we can add Pittsburg.

We had to take a street metered parking space, but the day was Sunday and the meters were free.











Day three (Memorial Day) was a visit to the Flight 93 Memorial.  On September 11, 2001 four commercial passenger jets were commandeered by terrorists.  Three were flown into their targets but the fourth had been delayed at takeoff and was running behind schedule.  This allowed the passengers to hear about the other three and when the terrorists took over their plane the passengers fought back.  Cell phone conversations from the passengers and the cockpit data recorder tell a story of the passengers starting to gain control back when the terrorist pilot turned the wheel and crashed the plane.  These ordinary people are heroes!  It is suspected that this plane's target was the Capitol where congress was in session.

The memorial consists of a wall with the names of the crew and passengers built along the final flight path.  Off the end in the field is a large boulder situated at the point of impact.  (The boulder is just barely visible at the center of the picture on the grass/tree line.)

Next is another sobering disaster.  The Johnstown Flood.  The flood was caused by an earthen dam that burst in a huge rainstorm.  The dam was built in the 1850 to supply water for a canal.  The dam had broken and was abandoned when a group of wealthy Pittsburg businessmen (including Carnegie) bought the lake and property as a summer resort.  The damage to the dam was repaired but poorly.  The patch in the center sagged and the lake was kept full for sailing and power boating.  When there was an unusually heavy rain it plugged the overflow with debris and ran the water over the center.  After a while the whole middle collapsed.  A telegraph warning was sent downstream to the small communities and larger Johnstown about the break but few people could get out of the way.  Over 2,200 died.

In this picture the two lookout platforms are the two edges of the break.  In between is the missing part of the dam.

Survivors said the water was 40 feet high when it reached Johnstown fourteen miles downstream.










Johnstown has rebuilt and one of the things they did was build an incline railway.  It is the steepest in the world according to the sign.  The flood came down the valley at the top of the picture and split into three streams as it went through town.  The largest stream hit at the base of the hill where the bottom of the incline is and split again.










The Johnstown Incline carries vehicles as well as people.  We rode to the top for $4.00, a car is $6 but has to be a small car, no SUV's.

On Tuesday we left the empty campground (everyone else left Monday to go back to work) and headed to SW Pennsylvania and the Moorcroft Rock Shelter.  It is an archeological site with evidence of human occupation from 16,000 years ago.  We arrived on a day reserved for group tours only and it was overrun with school children.  We could not get a tour but the manager let us wander around and as the guides were just finishing with the children we got some information about the site.

We first looked at the more "modern" Indian village and saw some replica tools, cooking and housing.



Then we hustled down to the excavation site and got there just as the guides were locking it up.  It is an active archeological dig.  There was an overhanging sandstone roof that humans sheltered in for hundreds of years.  Since then the sandstone has collapsed in chunks and hidden the site.  A local farmer chasing a groundhog found its den and in the castoff dirt from the den found evidence of early humans.  After doing some digging he turned it over to the professionals.  It is now a state run site.




That was a short visit and we headed on to West Virginia and Prabhupada's Palace of Gold.  It is situated on a ridge top and as we progressed along the ridge towards it we were overtaken by a thunderstorm.  (We are at the pale blue dot in the center.)  We took shelter under a tree on the ridge top.  Exactly what they tell you NOT to do.  But it was that or stand in the open on a ridge top in a thunderstorm.  We had a nearby house, power pole and taller trees.  So we hoped the lightening would pick one of them rather than our tree.  The lightening struck several times less than a quarter mile away but never closer.  The thunder was deafening and constant.  After about 15 minutes it passed and we continued on along the ridge.








The "Palace of Gold" was built in the 1970's as a home and monument for a religious leader that had come to the USA to promote his religion.  He died before it was completed but it is still an active complex today.  I wonder about all the money spent on religion and what it could buy in the way of food, housing and education for the poor in this world.  Yes, religions do a lot of good but the magnificence of their buildings has astounded me in more than one religion's houses of worship.

We left Pennsylvania to go ride some of the roads in northern West Virginia that we had missed because of the extra time it took to get a tire.  Because of our reservations we had run straight to the state park rather than take the scenic route when the tire was replaced.  We spent the night at another state park and headed south to Elkins, WV for the first stop of the day.  After no cell service last night I reached for my phone and couldn't find it.  Finally I called the park, on Kathy's phone, and asked them to look around our campsite.  We are in Elkins, WV because it has a Venezuelan restaurant and it is our 36th wedding anniversary.  El Gran Sabor had some excellent food and we enjoyed the meal very much.  Afterwards we got a local campsite and set up.  The park did not find my phone.  About 4:30 that afternoon Kathy got another call from the park.  A manager, Mary, as she was leaving for home decided to take another look around and found my phone near the garbage dumpster.  I must have dropped it out of my pocket while Kathy dumped the garbage as we left the park.  So the next day we headed back to Pennsylvania, taking a bit of the missed roads, and we spent the night back in the same space as before.  Thank you Mary for the extra look you took on your own time.  That was above and beyond your duties.

On the way back we also stopped at what was self proclaimed as "The Smallest Church in 48 States".  If you've been reading all the updates this year you remember we visited what claimed to be "The Smallest Church in America" while in coastal Georgia.  I think this is a larger building, by a little bit.  But it is stone and not wood so the walls are thicker.  They each seat 12 worshipers and a priest.  They are each Catholic.  So who wins.  I guess it depends an how you define smallest and what the difference is between "48 States" and "America".




After retrieving the phone we headed through downtown Pittsburg on the freeway and out the other side on the way to Punxsutawney, PA.  The home of Phil the weather forecasting groundhog.  I have heard that he is wrong more often than right but I didn't have nerve enough to ask while in the visitor's center.








The last stop before camping is for an early dinner at Denny's Beer Barrel Pub.  I had heard about it on the Food Network during a show about massive hamburgers.  They have "challenge" burgers here that if you eat it all in the time allowed you end up on the Hall of Fame Wall.  Their biggest burger is 125 pounds!  But it is not intended to be eaten by yourself.  Bring your favorite football team to help you!  They have a huge choice of regular sized burgers.  We ordered two and then split and shared half and half.  They were very good.

We are again taking a day off for maintenance and laundry.  Tomorrow we head to northern Pennsylvania and then back south toward Hershey for a chocolate fix.  That will be covered in the Eastern Pennsylvania page.