April 24, 2015
After a wonderfully restful sleep, we prepared to leave Allentown (turns out we were actually in Bethlehem). I dart down for breakfast and there’s a big note that says you can’t take food back up to your room to avoid infestation. The fact that the rooms are equipped with microwaves and fridges and food gets delivered all the time is just a minor detail. Well fine then. So I have a cup of coffee and plan our escape.
Now most routes have taken us along state parks. The bigger the green patch on the map, the more likely we are to go that way. So as I’m sitting on the edge of the bed I see a long stretch of green a bit south from where we are. Perfect.
And then I see it…like a beacon shining from the screen. How did it never occur to me before? Hershey. Hershey Pennsylvania. Oh. Hell. Yeah.
But first the check out. I load up the car. Load up the dogs. Then go for breakfast. Since I could’t sit and eat, I take it to go. A peanut butter banana wafflewich. To say I was getting some weird looks would be a major understatement. One of the staff tried to hand me a plate. I just looked at her and smiled as I wrapped the napkins around my mass of breakfasty goodness.
On the road we drove to Hershey. And I suddenly remembered why I wanted to avoid the touristy places: because even though it was not even 11:00 it was busy. And looking at all the stuff for sale, it was hard to tell if it was a rip off and the clothes and merchandise….. Ugggg. So a couple of bears for the nephews and a couple of mugs for dad and the brother and we were out.
As we continued making our way south toward that strip of green on the map, I saw a sign for Pine Grove Furnace State Park. It was still early in the day so we stopped for a hike. It turns out we were now in the Appalachian Mountains. That means that we had stopped in three mountain ranges in three days.
The trails were rugged but we soon found ourselves staring out over the valley. It took me a moment to realize that we were at the top of the mountain. For some reason it struck me at that point how far from home we had come and we sat for some time on the sun-warmed rocks watching the clouds pass overhead. Finally we started back to the car. For some reason down always seems more difficult than up and we slowly picked our way down.
We stopped for a few minutes before jumping back in the car when I started chatting with one of the locals about a good place to eat or sights we had to see. In less than 30 minutes I knew about him and his wife and their son. Wow. And all I asked was if he knew anywhere I should go. Never did tell me about food places.
Back in the car and there was still this strip of green on the map calling to me. At the top is a city called Winchester. With a name like that at a spot like that how do I not go there? I ended up checking into the Best Western before I took the dogs for a leg stretch. And got cat called, but not what you think: “I like your dog”! People pointing and waving. And the awwwww face that people made when they looked at Jack. And can you believe someone actually thought Piper was a pit bull?!?! Seriously! Poor Jack was so tired by this point. He had started the walk well but then got slower and slower. Finally I just scooped him up and carried him for a little while. Let me tell you: 40 lbs is a lot to lug around.
And tomorrow? Well that strip of green is the Shenandoah Valley so I think we have some good hiking in for us. And the weather finally turned nice. I saw people in shorts!!
And there were more Ontario plates in the parking lot than I’ve seen the whole trip. Yeah that’s right. We’re taking over Virginia apparently. I gave in and ordered Thai food, saving my cheese and pepperoni for the hikes.