FALL COLOR AT BLACKWATER FALLS



WEDNESDAY

TRAVEL DAY
YEAR #3 - STOP #45



The travel day today was fairly short and thankfully uneventful, considering ROVER's check engine light was still on for the entire move. We did end up increasing our elevation by about 1500 feet and are starting to see more and more fall colors in the trees and mountain sides.

The big story for today occurred when we arrived at our new campsite. Over the last 28 months we have set up in 162 different campsites (yes we keep track of that kind of information) and today's is by far the most unlevel site we have ever tried to set up in! Our Anderson Leveler Ramps are our standard way of leveling THE POD from left to right and are designed to adjust for up to a maximum 4" difference.


It sure looks unlevel, but I promise you it isn't!


This campsite however is an unbelievable 8" out of level from left to right. In order to get THE POD even close to being level we had to use every single leveling tool we carry with us. Even so we are still a half inch to low on the patio side of the trailer. It will just have to do!


Looks more like a circus balancing act than anything else.


I guess it could have been worse. The only other Airsteam (a 1969 model) in the park has a campsite that is three feet out of level from the front to the back of their trailer.


So the lesson to be learned here is:
If you ever find yourself planning a camping trip to
Blackwater Falls State Park in West Virginia,
avoid campsites #17 (ours) and #26 (theirs).



THURSDAY - We are forecast to have a couple days of wind and rain, courtesy of Tropical Depression Delta, as it passes through West Virginia this weekend. So we decided to do some sightseeing before that happens.

The main attraction in the park is of course Blackwater Falls. During this time of year however the Fall Colors also compete for that distinction.

The first five slideshow photos were taken on Tricia's early morning walk, while the rest were taken mid afternoon around the rest of the park.



BLACKWATER FALLS STATE PARK



These first two photos were taken early morning from very near our campsite.
These next three are photos of Blackwater River Canyon from three different overlooks found within the park.
The first of many stairs leading from the parking lot down to the Blackwater Falls viewing platforms.
The view from the first platform down to the second one and the falls.
The view from the second platform, or as I like to call it, Rest Area #2!
More stairs, over 200 in all, down until you reach the final platform.
The view from platform #3, below the top of the falls. This is as close as you can get.
Look! There is another viewing platform on the other side of the river. Let's Go!
This is the view from the other side of the river. See the people on the third and lowest platform over on the other side?
This was a roadside overlook on our way to hike the Lindy Point Trail.
Some spectacular fall color along the .5 mile Lindy Point Trail.
The view from the end of the trail at Lindy Point Overlook.


WARNING!

TURN DOWN YOUR VOLUME
BEFORE STARTING THIS VIDEO.



WEDNESDAY - This is our final day in West Virginia so we decided to get as high as we could while still in this state.

We did that by driving some 55 miles south of the campground to Spruce Knob (elevation 4863 feet) and climbing to the top of the observation tower. This is as high as you can get in West Virginia.

The observation tower at the top of Spruce Knob.

The view from the top of West Virginia.


On the drive back home our route took us through the small town of Seneca Rocks. It is named after the rock formation that towers over the entire town. It also appears to be a destination for avid rock climbers, you won't find any rookie climbers on that rock face.

The view of Seneca Rocks from our lunch spot on the patio of Yokum's General Store and Deli.

Yokum's General Store and Deli just so happens to be where we stopped for lunch, after touring nearby Seneca Caverns, back in April of 2019. We didn't stop here again because the food is so great, it's just the only place within 20 miles to get a bite to eat.

Last year I tried their special of the day, a Ramp Burger. If you remember, a ramp is a wild onion. This time of year the ramps aren't in season, so I ordered a simple cheeseburger instead and Tricia had a BLT.


A final look at Blackwater Falls before we leave...
and one final comment too!

While our visit to Blackwater Falls State Park got off to a rather rocky and unlevel start, we would definitely recommend you visit here. Other than a few bad campsites the campground is above average and the scenery is outstanding if you get out and hike some of their trails.

And oh yeah, The Falls, simply amazing!




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FALLINGWATER



THURSDAY

TRAVEL DAY
YEAR #3 - STOP #44



With just an average length travel day, and an early start, we had time to take care of a chore we've haven't done since mid-February.

ROVER and THE POD got a bath at the Blue Beacon Truck Wash in Breezewood, PA.

For a little over $48 both of them got a thourough exterior high power wash and for $1 more we self-vacuumed out the cab of the truck. We were in and out of there for under $50 and felt it was well worth the price.

We did have to wait our turn in line however, behind four other semi-trucks, but after a short hour or so wait it was finally our turn to get a bath.

This is our third time using Blue Beacon Truck Wash and they always do a great job.

Waiting at the vacuum station. We are finally next to go!

All set up at our new site.



FRIDAY - Be honest. How many of you know what Fallingwater is? If you know what it is, then your are probably aware of who designed and built the place.

For those of you who are clueless to what I'm talking about, like we were until last year, when we passed by this area, it is a home built back in the late 1930's by the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright for the Kaufman Family. The Kaufman's owned a chain of department stores in the northeast United States.

In July of 2019 the "20th century Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright" was inscribed as a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage Site. A total of eight Frank Lloyd Wright's designs were included in this designation and Fallingwater is probably his most recognized home build in addition to his design of the highly acclaimed Guggenheim Museum in New York.

If I'm remembering correctly last year we elected not to take the guided interior/exterior tour of Fallingwater because of the pricing (I believe it was $150 each). This year, with COVID restrictions factored in, the interior is closed to the public. So this year they are offering a more affordable self-guided, exterior only, tour for $20 each.

There are many docents available all around the property to answer any and all questions you may have. We later learned that for an extra $10 each we could have received our very own docent to walk with us and explain what we were seeing and point out important features we may have missed. In hindsight we would have spent the extra money.



FALLINGWATER



The engraved stone signage out on the main driveway entrance.
Proudly displaying their newly acquired UNESCO World Heritage Site designation.
The outdoor covered reception area, complete with a cafe, art museum and gift shop. This is where you used to wait for your guided tour to begin.
There is a 1/4 mile walkway, complete with flower gardens and a picnic area, between the reception area and the Fallingwater homesite.
Our first glimpse of Fallingwater.
We have arrived.
This stairway makes it possible to go from the living room straight down into the water that flows under the home.
A footbath outside of the front door to clean your feet and shoes.
A rear pathway between the home and the cliff face.
Their outdoor bathtub.
A peek inside of the 1st floor living space.
The view from the second floor balcony.
Another peek inside the living space.
The guest quarters are higher up on the cliff from the main house.
They also have a four car garage under the guest house.
The guests have their own outside patio area...
... and their own outside pool deck.
A peek inside one of the quest bedrooms.
This is the pathway takes leads between the quest house and the main house.
This is the iconic photograph you always see of Fallingwater from the surrounding forest. The location is simply called "The View".



SUNDAY - Today I decided to drive 16 miles south from Confluence, PA into Friendsville, MD to save 35 cents a gallon on gasoline. Pennsylvania is the only state east of the Rocky Mountains (other than Washington D.C.) that currently averages over $2.33 a gallon. Today they are averaging a whopping $2.48 a gallon, due mostly to their high taxes on gas.

While I was out I also took the time to pick up a few grocery items at a Walmart and had a new battery installed ($58) into my 2-1/2 year old iPhone SE. I hope this at least fixes all my issues with my iPhone!


Wouldn't you know it, on my way home from getting my phone repaired a check engine light lit up on the dash of ROVER. Guess I know what I'll be doing sometime in the very near future, scheduling an early morning appointment at a local Ford Dealership.

Lately it feels like I'm playing Whack-A-Mole.
I knock down one problem and another pops up in it's place.



MONDAY - When we first arrived here at this Army Corp of Engineers campground last Thurday we took a very short walk down to the shore of the Youghiogheny River located just behind our campsite.

Here are a few photos we took of the river after it flows through the hydroelectic Youghiogheny Dam that was completed in 1944.


There is even the beginnings of some fall color showing up in the trees here.


But today we drove over to the dam site and found that unlike other dams, this one you are permitted to drive across the top to the other side. This gives access to a huge picnic area and parking lot, plus the longest boat launch ramp I've ever seen.


This dam can be driven across, most are not since 9/11 back in 2001.


The amount of water being held back by the dam is enormous.


From the top of the dam our campsite is hidden in the trees near the center of this photo.


Now that's a very long boat ramp.




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DON'T THINK YOU HAVE TO RUSH IT!



THURSDAY

TRAVEL DAY
YEAR #3 - STOP #43



We had a really good travel day today, but starting just after we checked in at our new campground we really dropped the ball on just about everything else.

We didn't prepare well for our seven night stay here. First we decided to not dump our waste tanks upon leaving our old campground because we had done so just two days earlier. We planned to dump them at the new campground before setting up, which we did.

However, we saw all the other campers filling their fresh water tanks near the very busy dump station and wondered why, because they have spigots at each campsite, or so we thought.

We arrived at our campsite and saw there was a fairly steep entrance to our driveway, before it flattened out at the back end. We've had other campsites with similiar conditions and knew in advance that it's going to be difficult to unhook the trailer from the truck without them both being on level ground. Particularly the stabilizer/weight distribution bars, which could have been removed before backing into the site.

But with campgound traffic backing up both behind us and in front of us we elected to speed up the process of clearing the roadway by backing into our site anyway. We cleared the road, let everyone pass in both directions, then pulled partially back out of the site to straightned out the trailer in the driveway.

We leveled out THE POD left to right and began to disconnect from ROVER. It was very difficult removing the stabilizer/weight distribution bars, but we expected that. We were just about to release the latch that connects the trailer to the truck when I realized, there's no water spigot on our campsite and our fresh water tank is empty.


So here is the point I'm trying to get across to everyone.
DON'T THINK YOU HAVE TO RUSH IT!

Just like we waited for our turn when we got in line at the dump station, everyone else will have to wait their turn too. When I saw everyone filling their fresh water tanks I thought, maybe we don't have water at our campsite? I could have quickly gone online and checked our reservation to see if water was available at our site and realized we needed to fill up right then (instead of having to come back an hour later to do so). We felt rushed and made Mistake #1.

When we first saw our campsite driveway we should have stopped and quickly removed our stabilizer/weight distribution bars while still in the street. By not doing so we risked damage to our power tongue jack, our hitch latch and even our stabilizer/weight distribution bars. Once again we felt rushed and made Mistake #2.


In both cases no one was rushing us except ourselves.
Be patient with others and hope they will in turn be patient with you!



FRIDAY - Now that all the stress of yesterdays moving day is in the past we can enjoy our campsite here at Seven Points Campground on Raystown Lake in south-central Pennsylvania, roughly halfway between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

For a mere $18 a night (that's half price BTW) we have another stunning campsite here at this Army Corps of Engineers Park. I think we'll stay a week!

What more could you want? Water in the front and mountains in the back.

From our dining/outdoor kitchen area you can really see the odd angle between THE POD and ROVER.


Plus it comes with free daily entertainment!




MONDAY - We were up early and headed out for our 30th cave tour. Today's visit would be to explore Lincoln Caverns in Huntingdon, PA.

By chosing to visit early on a weekday, instead of the weekend, we were able to score another private tour of the cave.

I've said it before, but I'll say it again, "our cave pictures just don't do justice to what we are seeing there in person." It's very difficult taking photos with such poor lighting conditions and the fact that tripods are not allowed to be used inside of the cave.

But here are our photos anyway!



LINCOLN CAVERNS



This time of year the cave is filled with cave crickets.
At 30 feet below the surface we are still seeing roots from above.
This is known as cave popcorn.
This formation is called cave bacon, it's very thin and fragile.
Here is cave bacon without the backlighting.
A wall full of flowstone.
These formations resemble flowers.




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ALLENTOWN, PA



TUESDAY

TRAVEL DAY
YEAR #3 - STOP #42



After a relatively short travel day we arrived at our destination in Allentown, PA. If you're wondering the answer is yes, it's the same Allentown that Billy Joel sang about back in 1982.

But you may also be wondering, why would we want to stay in this particular big city area? That an easy answer, another cave tour of course!

It's also only the second time in two years that we are stayng in a KOA campground, there just were no other decent camping options in this area. But hey, it's only for two nights!

Our campsite here at Allentown KOA.



WEDNESDAY - This morning we have planned to visit the Crystal Cave over in Kutztown, PA., about 25 miles southwest of Allentown.

After a quick drive thru breakfast at Dunkin Donuts we were on our way. I'm glad we padded our travel time because we ran into a little morning rush hour traffic headed into Allentown on the Interstate. We still arrived with time to spare, but we weren't the first to arrive like we usually are.

All Crystal Cave tours are first come first serve and they only take 15 people on each tour to conform with the COVID restrictions in Pennsylvania. There were only eight of us on the first tour this morning and we all had to wear our masks during the entire tour.

The ticket office and gift shop is housed in the original 1870s inn that was built when the cave was discovered and tours started being offered.

I asked everyone why there was a Conch Republic Flag from Key West, FL hanging from the second floor balcony and no one knew why. It still brought a smile to my face to see it there.

The tour starts with an 8-minute long video presentation about the history of the cave and it's exploration. You can see they take their social distancing very seriously here at Crystal Cave.

Right at the beginning of the tour we saw this stalactite formation. Doesn't it look like someone dropped their triple scoop vanilla ice cream cone?

At the halfway point in the tour there was a viewing platform high above the rest of the walkway and three of our eight guests opted out of climbing the extra stairs. We did not! From up there we were able to see nearly half of the cave tour route.

After exiting the cave we decided to take "the scenic route" home on the backroads instead of getting back on the Interstate like we did thhis morning.

While traveling the backroads home we just had to stop and take photos of this rural Pennsylvania yard art.




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TWO PEAS