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Posts tagged ‘Easter 2014 Vacation’

Easter Vacation – Day 5 of 5

On the last day of Easter vacation (April 21st), we awakened at 5:00 am.  While on vacation, our morning began at 5:00 am most days.  It is good that we retired for the night most evenings by 9:00 pm. I wouldn’t have been able to keep getting up that early otherwise. Our room was on the first floor of the Best Western Grove City Inn hotel, so we had to only walk down the hall for breakfast. I doubt we stay at this Best Western hotel again. The room was small, as was the bathroom. Breakfast was okay, but we have had better selections (e.g. bacon and sausage and make-your-own waffles) at other Best Western hotels. When we checked into the hotel, we were offered a complimentary upgrade to a king size room with whirlpool tub. We declined the offer because we didn’t anticipate making use of the whirlpool. The king room, though, would have been larger, and perhaps we would have provided a better review of the hotel.

We checked out of the hotel around 7:00 am.  As I wrote in yesterday’s blog post, we made a return trip to McConnells Mill State Park for the purpose of taking some photographs in the early morning light.  We drove home from McConnells Mill, making only one other stop. We stopped in Tionesta PA, where I took a few pictures of the Sherman Memorial Lighthouse.

Sherman Memorial Lighthouse

Lighthouse Facts

I followed the paved trail around the base of the lighthouse.

I found an inviting gazebo and a lovely view of the Allegheny River.

Sherman Memorial Lighthouse

The lighthouse is open for public viewing only a few days out of the year.  Bob and I have not yet participated in a lighthouse tour.  I would like to tour the lighthouse some day.

We arrived home around noon. This concludes our Easter vacation.  I hope you enjoyed reading about and seeing the photographs from our vacation.

Easter Vacation – Day 4 of 5: McConnells Mill State Park

On the fourth day of our Easter vacation we drove from Waynesboro VA to Grove City PA.

Approximately 20 miles before we reached Grove City, we stopped at McConnells Mill State Park.   The gristmill for which McConnells Mill State Park is named sits along Slippery Rock Creek.  It was one of the first rolling mills in the country.  The gristmill processed corn, oats, wheat and buckwheat for local customers.

We walked through the covered bridge to the other side of Slippery Rock Creek.

McConnells Mill

I like the view of the mill from across the creek on the far side of the covered bridge. I wish someone would trim the tree branches that cross in front of the mill!  I would love to take a photograph of the mill without the tree branches obstructing the view.  I considered jumping over the guard rail and climbing down to Slippery Rock Creek,  but I decided the climb down was too treacherous for me.  I do not walk well on rocks, being very unsteady on my feet.

We did follow a trail to the right of the covered bridge, which led to the rocky bank of Slippery Rock Creek.  With Bob’s help, I was able to walk on some rocks into the creek basin.

While standing on a rocky ledge, I was able to capture a photograph of the covered bridge from a new (to me) perspective.

With my confidence at a high, owing to the fact that I was able to walk on some rocks, we climbed back up the hill and crossed through the covered bridge to the other side of Slippery Rock Creek.  We followed a trail on that side of the creek, until we found some rocks that I thought I would be able to walk out on to.  Again, with Bob’s help, I walked across some rocks to the creek basin.

Bob took this picture of me photographing the covered bridge.

Here are a couple photographs of the covered bridge that I captured from this side of Slippery Rock Creek.  Again, these photographs of the covered bridge were taken from a new (to me) perspective.

McConnells Mill Covered Bridge

We followed the trail back to the gristmill.

This was the last photograph that I took before leaving the state park en route to our hotel in Grove City.  It was not, however, the last photograph that I took at McConnells Mill State Park while on our Easter vacation.
The next morning, after checking out of our hotel, we returned to the park.  The morning light provided more photo opportunities for photographing the gristmill and covered bridge from the dam side of Slippery Rock Creek.

It was approximately 7:30 AM, when we returned to McConnells Mill State Park.

For the next hour or so, while waiting for the sun to get higher in the sky, I entertained myself by taking photographs of the moon, of Bob and of the reflections in the water.

The Moon

Bob

Bob

The Moon

 

 

At 8:51 AM my wait paid off.

My next blog post will continue what I began sharing here — day 5 of our Easter vacation.

Easter Vacation – Day 4 of 5

The fourth day of our vacation fell on Easter Sunday (April 20th).  After breakfast we checked out of the hotel and were on our way west by 7:00 am.

Wait a minute!  Weren’t we supposed to stay four nights at our hotel?  Our original plan was to stay four nights in Waynesboro VA.   We awakened early on Easter Sunday.  While waiting for the breakfast room to open, Bob mentioned wanting to go home a different way than the route we took coming to Waynesboro. He said the different route home would add about an hour to our travel time. When we made our vacation plans, we talked about driving Skyline Drive in addition to driving the Blue Ridge Parkway.  We had crossed off driving Skyline Drive soon after our vacation began.  As we didn’t have anything planned for Easter Sunday, I asked Bob if he would be interested in starting home a day early by way of the new route. I love spontaneity!

So, at 7:00 am, we departed Waynesboro VA.  We drove to the Best Western Grove City Inn in Grove City PA, where we spent the night.  Here is a map of our route.

The first part of our drive to Grove City was via U.S. Route 250.  This could be one of the best routes we have ever taken.  U.S. Route 250 takes you up and over two large mountains, with great scenery all around.    We followed U.S. Route 250 west through Staunton VA and the George Washington National Forest.   We made our first stop while in the George Washington National Forest.

According to the inscription on this marker I was standing in the middle of what was once Fort Edward Johnson, when I took this picture.  Confederate soldiers built this fort in 1862 under the command of Brigadier General Edward Johnson, a career officer from Virginia.

To the right of the interpretive marker was a 0.5 mile trail.

Confederate Breastworks Interpretive Trail

The trail led to what remains of the mile of trench and breastworks, which were built by Confederate soldiers to defend the Shenandoah Valley from an invasion by Union Troops marching from the west.

Confederate Breastworks Interpretive Trail

Returning to our car from the trail, we admired the view from what used to be Fort Edward Johnson.

Fort Edward Johnson Overlook

 

Leaving the George Washington National Forest, we passed through the town of Monterey.  Our second stop was just past Monterey.  We pulled off alongside the road, and I took several photographs of the Blue Grass Valley.

Blue Grass Valley

Blue Grass Valley

Blue Grass Valley

The Blue Grass Valley is beautiful.  We had to content ourselves with a bird’s eye view of the valley, as time constraints did not permit us to drive through the valley.  Oh, how I would have loved to meander the rural roads of the Blue Grass Valley!

Blue Grass Valley

Blue Grass Valley

While taking these photographs of the Blue Grass Valley, I enjoyed the song of birds singing, geese honking and the warm sunshine beating down on my head.

 

We made one last stop in Virginia, shortly before the West Virginia border.  The reason for the stop was not to photograph a scenic vista.  The reason for the stop was to photograph a deer alongside the road.

The deer was not skittish; it seemed curious about us.

Our next stop was in the town of Durbin WV, located in the heart of the Monogahela National Forest.  While traveling along U.S. Route 250 I kept finding reasons to return to this part of Virginia and West Virginia.  I found yet another reason for a return trip in the town of Durbin.

Durbin’s Main Street

Durbin Train Depot

Durbin Train Depot

Durbin Train Depot

The town of Durbin is home to a tourist train, the Durbin Rocket. I want to take a ride on this train!

Leaving Durbin we climbed Cheat Mountain.

At the top of Cheat Mountain, we enjoyed this view of the Allegheny Mountains.

Soon after leaving the Monogahela National Forest we turned north onto U.S. Route 219 and made our way to Interstate 79.

We were fairly certain that we would not drive all the way home in one day, even though it was quite possible to do so. It became a certainty that we would be making the trip home in two days at 1:00 pm, when I booked a room for us at the Best Western Grove City Inn in Grove City, PA.   Having the Internet on our mobile phones, while traveling, is a convenience that we both enjoy.

We reached our hotel in Grove City around 4:00 pm.    We checked in, and then went in search of a restaurant. Hoss’s Steak and Sea House was closed. Kings Family Restaurant had been open but closed early, as was the case for the Eat ‘n Park Restaurant.   We finally found an open restaurant.  Primanti Brothers was open.  It was the first time either of us ate at Primanti Brothers.  We each ordered fish ‘n chips for dinner, a far cry from the baked ham dinner that I had hoped to have for Easter dinner.  After dinner, we retired to our room for the night.

Oh, we did make another stop before arriving at our hotel in Grove City.  We stopped at McConnells Mill State Park, which is located about 20 miles from Grove City.  I will share photographs from McConnells Mill State Park in my next blog post.

Easter Vacation – Day 3 of 5: Blue Ridge Parkway (Humpback Rocks to Rockfish Gap) and Back to Waynesboro

Bob and I spent three nights (April 17-20) in Waynesboro, Virginia. Waynesboro is located near where the Skyline Drive ends and the Blue Ridge Parkway begins. Our original plan was to stay in Waynesboro for four nights, but we departed a day early. I will explain why we left Waynesboro a day early in a future blog post.

The highlights on Day 3 (April 19) of our Easter vacation included a visit to Natural Bridge, walking on a swinging bridge in Buchanan and driving the Blue Ridge Parkway.  My blog posts last week provided photographs and details about our visit to Natural Bridge and about our brief stop in Buchanan VA.  From Buchanan we took Route 43 to the Blue Ridge Parkway. We entered the Parkway at Milepost 90.9, Bearwallow Gap, and exited at Milepost 0, Rockfish Gap.   Our 90-mile drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway yielded many photographs.  My blog posts this week have shared those photographs.  In Tuesday’s blog post (4/29/2014) I shared photographs from Milepost 90.9, Bearwallow Gap, to just before Milepost 63.8, James River Visitor Center.  In Wednesday’s blog post I shared photographs that were taken at the James River Visitor Center.  In yesterday’s blog post I shared photographs from Milepost 63.8, James River, to just before Milepost 5.8, Humpback Rocks.  In today’s blog post I will share photographs that were taken from Milepost 5.8, Humpback Rocks, and back to our hotel in Waynesboro.

Upon reaching Milepost 5.8 we parked at the Humpback Rocks Visitor Center.

Humpback Rocks Visitor Center

Adjacent to the Visitor Center is an outdoor farm museum.  A sign at the entrance to the farm museum reads: “This was originally a Land Grant tract granted by the Commonwealth of Virginia to induce pioneers to settlers the Blue Ridge Mountains and establish the border of the Western Frontier. Later it became known as the William J. Carter Farm. The original buildings have long since disappeared, but replaced with other authentic structures moved from nearby.”  The farm museum consists of a single-room log cabin and a series of outbuildings that represent elements of regional architecture of the late 19th century.  The buildings were assembled here in an arrangement that allows for an easy stroll along a pathway.

The first building that you come to as you walk along the pathway is a one-room log cabin.  Near the log cabin a sign reads: “A man’s home is his castle. The log cabin has always been associated with the American frontier, but the idea of homes built from logs came from immigrants from northern Europe. The early southern highlanders adopted this type of construction and found it well suited to their needs. Using the mountains’ most abundant resource, trees, a log cabin could be built quickly with only a few tools.”

 One-Room Log Cabin.  The small building behind the log cabin is a chicken house.

 

I like the vintage look of this photograph.

The next building that you come to is a “gear loft”, where the family stored their “plunder” (supplies and equipment).

Gear Loft

Continuing along the pathway, you will come to a barn surrounded by a stone-walled pig pen.

Barn

Note the pig pen behind the barn.  Farmers had razorback hogs that ran wild in the forest.  In the fall, the farmers would round up the best hogs and put them in this pen.  This was a bear-proof pig pen.  The “x” supports held the logs in place and kept bears out of the pen.

The last building along the pathway is a spring house.

Spring House

This is inside the Spring House.  Farmers kept their butter and other cold storage items on the rocks.

 

If we are ever in the area in the summer, it would be worthwhile to return to the farm museum.  During the summer months costume interpreters provide demonstrations of weaving, basket making and gardening.

Leaving Humpback Rocks we made one more stop along the Blue Ridge Parkway.  We stopped at the Afton Overlook.  This northern terminus of the Blue Ridge Parkway becomes the Skyline Drive from this point north through the Shenandoah National Park.

Afton Overlook

We talked about returning to this overlook early the next day, in the hopes of seeing the sun rise.  As it turned out, we didn’t make it back to this overlook the next morning.  We didn’t watch the sun rise; however, we did see a beautiful sunset in Waynesboro.

What a way to end the third day of our vacation!

Easter Vacation – Day 3 of 5: Blue Ridge Parkway (James River to Humpback Rocks)

Bob and I spent three nights (April 17-20) in Waynesboro, Virginia. Waynesboro is located near where the Skyline Drive ends and the Blue Ridge Parkway begins. Our original plan was to stay in Waynesboro for four nights, but we departed a day early. I will explain why we left Waynesboro a day early in a future blog post.

The highlights on Day 3 (April 19) of our Easter vacation included a visit to Natural Bridge, walking on a swinging bridge in Buchanan and driving the Blue Ridge Parkway. Thursday’s blog post (4/24/2014) provided photographs and details about our visit to Natural Bridge. Friday’s blog post (4/25/2014) was about our brief stop in Buchanan VA.  From Buchanan we took Route 43 to the Blue Ridge Parkway. We entered the Parkway at Milepost 90.9, Bearwallow Gap, and exited at Milepost 0, Rockfish Gap.   Our 90-mile drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway yielded many photographs.  I am sharing those photographs via four separate blog posts.  In Tuesday’s blog post (4/29/2014) I shared photographs from Milepost 90.9, Bearwallow Gap, to just before Milepost 63.8, James River Visitor Center.  In yesterday’s blog post I shared photographs that were taken at the James River Visitor Center.  In today’s blog post I will share photographs from Milepost 63.8, James River, to just before Milepost 5.8, Humpback Rocks.

By the time we left the James River Visitor Center area it was well past noon, and we were hungry.  We ate lunch at a Parkway picnic table along Otter Creek.

Lower Otter Creek Overlook, Elevation 680 feet

Otter Creek

After lunch we stopped at several scenic overlooks, as we made our way to the north entrance of the Parkway.

View House Mountain, Elevation 3, 612 feet; Elevation Here 2,498 feet.

View Irish Creek Valley 1,500 feet below, Elevation here 2,660 feet.

View Irish Creek Valley 1,500 feet below, Elevation here 2,660 feet.

 

Somewhere along Blue Ridge Parkway (Virginia)

20-Minute Cliff

20-Minute Cliff

20-Minute Cliff

Most places we stopped along the Parkway were designated scenic overlooks.  Here is one stop, where we just pulled off the side of the road so that I could take a picture.

Bob took this picture of me, as I was taking a picture of the view.
The drop off the Parkway was straight down!

This is the picture that I took alongside the Parkway.

Ravens Roost Overlook (Elev. 3,200 feet) was the last overlook that we stopped at before reaching Humpback Rocks.

Ravens Roost Overlook, Elevation 3,200 feet 1,800 feet above valley.

This broad rock ledge is a typical raven’s roost. Although we saw none, ravens and buzzards are frequently seen from this point.

Bob took this picture of me at Ravens Roost Overlook.

Ravens Roost Overlook

To the right of the rock ledge is a scenic overlook of the Shenandoah Valley, 1,800 feet below.

We reached Milepost 5.8, Humpback Rocks, at approximately 3:15 PM.  It took us about 4 3/4 hours to travel 85.1 miles on the Parkway.

Fence across Parkway from Humpback Rocks Visitor Center

Easter Vacation – Day 3 of 5: Blue Ridge Parkway (James River)

Bob and I spent three nights (April 17-20) in Waynesboro, Virginia. Waynesboro is located near where the Skyline Drive ends and the Blue Ridge Parkway begins. Our original plan was to stay in Waynesboro for four nights, but we departed a day early. I will explain why we left Waynesboro a day early in a future blog post.

The highlights on Day 3 (April 19) of our Easter vacation included a visit to Natural Bridge, walking on a swinging bridge in Buchanan and driving the Blue Ridge Parkway. Thursday’s blog post provided photographs and details about our visit to Natural Bridge. Friday’s blog post was about our brief stop in Buchanan VA.  From Buchanan we took Route 43 to the Blue Ridge Parkway. We entered the Parkway at Milepost 90.9, Bearwallow Gap, and exited at Milepost 0, Rockfish Gap.   Our 90-mile drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway yielded many photographs.  I am sharing those photographs via four separate blog posts.  In yesterday’s blog post I shared photographs from Milepost 90.9, Bearwallow Gap, to just before Milepost 63.8, James River Visitor Center.  In today’s blog post I will share photographs that were taken at the James River Visitor Center.

James River is located at the Parkway’s lowest elevation (650 feet above sea level).   The Visitor Center was still closed for the season.  The James River Canal Trail, though, was open.

James River Canal Trail

The James River Canal Trail took us across James River.  We crossed the James River on the walkway below the bridge.

James River

I took two photographs, while crossing the James River Bridge, each looking in opposite directions.

James River

The James River Canal Trail ended at the restored Battery Lock, one of 90 locks that were built between 1845-1851 along the James River and Kanawha Canal.  When completed the canal had 90 locks and went from Richmond to Buchanan, Virginia.

Bob took this picture at the Battery Lock.

This is the photograph that I captured from my vantage point in the previous image.

Lock Gate

Battery Lock

I took one last photograph, as we were returning to the James River Visitor Center.

The James River Bridge framed this mountain scene.

Easter Vacation – Day 3 of 5: Blue Ridge Parkway (Bearwallow Gap to James River)

Bob and I spent three nights (April 17-20) in Waynesboro, Virginia. Waynesboro is located near where the Skyline Drive ends and the Blue Ridge Parkway begins. Our original plan was to stay in Waynesboro for four nights, but we departed a day early. I will explain why we left Waynesboro a day early in a future blog post.

The highlights on Day 3 (April 19) of our Easter vacation included a visit to Natural Bridge, walking on a swinging bridge in Buchanan and driving the Blue Ridge Parkway. Thursday’s blog post provided photographs and details about our visit to Natural Bridge. Friday’s blog post was about our brief stop in Buchanan VA.  From Buchanan we took Route 43 to the Blue Ridge Parkway. We entered the Parkway at Milepost 90.9, Bearwallow Gap, and exited at Milepost 0, Rockfish Gap.   Our 90-mile drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway yielded many photographs.  I will share those photographs via four separate blog posts.  In this blog post I will share photographs from Milepost 90.9, Bearwallow Gap, to just before Milepost 63.8, James River Visitor Center.

The Onion Mountain Overlook is located at Milepost 80.

A short trail guides you through rhododendron and mountain laurel.

This trail would be much more pretty in early June,
when the rhododendron and mountain laurel are in bloom.

Onion Mountain Overlook (Elevation 3,195 feet)

The Blue Ridge Parkway reaches its highest point in Virginia on Apple Orchard Mountain at Milepost 76.5.

High Point on the Parkway in Virginia

Apple Orchard Mountain, elevation 3,950 feet

Apple Orchard Mountain, elevation 3,950 feet

At Milepost 76 is the View Arnold Valley Overlook.  The elevation here is 3,700 feet.  Arnold Valley is 2,900 feet below.

The Alleghenies are seen in the distance, with Arnold’s Valley at the foot of the mountains.

There is a second Arnold Valley Overlook a little farther north on the Parkway.

The elevation at this overlook is 3,510 feet, with Arnold Valley lying 2,710 feet below.

Peek-a-Boo, Bob!  I see you!

Bob took the next two pictures of me with his phone camera.

Arnold Valley Overlook

Arnold Valley Overlook

We saw a deer, while driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The deer was kind enough to pose for me!

We began our approach to Milepost 63.8, James River Visitor Center, at approximately noon.  It took us about 1 1/2 hours to travel 27.2 miles.

The redbud trees are beautiful!

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