Pennsylvania 2022

This page is my blog about my visit to Pennsylvania where Norma, Daphne, Norma's mother (Hazel), Norma's youngest sister (Laah), and six of Norma's nieces and nephews did various outdoor activities and spent a four days at Jellystone Park in Mansfield. Norma masterminded this trip so she could spend time with the children in her extended family. They range in age of three to fourteen years old. In previous years, we've taken them one-at-a-time for visits. While they enjoy having Norma's full attention, we felt they would have more fun if we took them someplace interesting that they could experience together. Norma and I have fond memories of this area from July 3-5, 2009 and October 10-12, 2009. We wanted to give the kids memories that they would also cherish.

The photo above is from our August 13, 2022 visit to Old Bedford Village.

 Saturday, August 13, 2022

Old Bedford VillageOpen accordion icon
Probably the most arduous task was the driving. Norma and I drove out to her middle sister's (Joyce's) house to pick up four of her kids. There, we swapped cars so we would have Joyce's van. It really holds a lot. Best of all, it has a DVD player which makes long rides quite tolerable for the kids.

Before we drove off in the van, I found a mayfly. Is that a good omen? Sure, why not?
Mayfly on brick wall

We met Laah and Hazel at Old Bedford Village. I'd never heard of this place but was very impressed. It is set up to reflect life in the 18th century. There are workshops with folks in period costume demonstrating various skills that were deemed important back in the day. Unlike a museum, where there is a lot of reading and stuff that you aren't supposed to touch, this place had a lot of hands-on things.

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Log cabin
Log cabin.
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Trying on period costume clothes
Period costume.
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Kids playing Tug-of-War
Old-fashioned games.
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Bee covered in pollen in a rose of Sharon
Bee in rose of Sharon.
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Kids in classroom practicing penmanship with feather quill pens
Writing with feather quills.
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Red sunflower in garden
Red sunflower.

I enjoyed speaking the workers there about what life was like back during the late 1700s. It gave me ideas of things to mention when I do my Savage historic walking tour. Even though Savage wasn't a town back then, there are some things about American history that I feel are worth mentioning, especially if I have a prop. After the trip, I ordered some replica historic money. Here are some things I learned.
  • Each colony had their own money.
  • It was sometimes hard to obtain coins because there was a metal shortage.
  • During the Revolutionary War, the British would try to counterfeit American paper money but folks could distinguish between the real and the fake because the British used better quality paper.
  • Inflation was a much bigger problem than it is today.
  • Coins were often physically cut to make change.
  • After serving in the American Revolution, soldiers were promised 100 acres of land.

  • There was some musket fire, which Daphne did not like.

    After our visit, we made and ate sandwiches for lunch just outside the village.
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    CampgroundOpen accordion icon
    We arrived at Jellystone Park and spent much of the rest of the day getting things set up. We couldn't get a cabin to hold ten people so we had a cabin and a tent site. I set up my backpacking tent for the oldest child, while Norma and I planned to sleep in our car camping tent. Our tent site didn't have any level ground. It was nice that we were close to the common-area bathrooms by the office but that also meant we caught some septic odors.

    The cabin was askew. Most of the kids slept in the loft which was very hot. The shower splattered, rather than sprayed, water.

    Norma and I chose this place because it was very kid-friendly. The plan was to have one big activity away from the campground each day but afterwards, the kids could enjoy things at the campground. This worked well and there was never a shortage of things for them to do.

    This campground has defnitely seen better days. There was a lot of stuff needing repair/maintenance. It is not a place that Norma or I would have picked for ourselves. But this weekend was not about us. It was about the kids, and making this an enjoyable vacation for them. With that in mind, I think this campground was a good choice.
    Yogi Bear statue near campground entrance
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     Sunday, August 14, 2022

    Pennsylvania Lumber MuseumOpen accordion icon
    We drove about an hour to the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum. Unfortunately, many of our activities would require lengthy drives...but I think they were worth it.

    Daphne couldn't enter the main part of the museum so I stayed outside with her. This would be a recurring theme...not that I'm complaining. I'd rather have her with us, even if that means both Norma and I cannot enjoy an indoor activity at the same time.

    The museum had a lot of historic lumberjack tools. Laah's huband, Scott, would have surely loved this place since he was a lumberjack.

    We checked out the outer buildings, where Daphne could join us. I really liked the train at the Engine House.
    Our group gathered around the train

    The Saw Mill was also very interesting.
    Steam power replaced water power in most Pennsylvania sawmills by the mid-1850s.
    - from museum sign titled "Boiler Room"

    I suspect Savage Mill also switched from water power to steam around this time. Looking at all the belt-driven things at the lumber museum, I imagine the mill in Savage might have looked similar.
    Machinery with belts

    In Log Pond, the kids found a snake in the water. I only caught a quick glimse of it. While we only saw one snake, we saw a lot of frogs in and around the pond. I'm guessing they were green frogs but I could be mistaken.
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    Green frog
    Green frog.
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    Green frog
    Green frog.
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    Log Pond and Saw Mill in background with newphews in the foreground
    Pond and Saw Mill in background.

    Northwest of Log Pond, we explored a shady creek called Commissioner Run. Here, the eldest niece found a salamander which I believe is of the genus Desmognathus.
    Salamander of the genus Desmognathus
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    Pine Creek InnOpen accordion icon
    We stopped for lunch at Pine Creek Inn. I never went inside since I was on Daphne-watch. They brought me out a bacon cheeseburger with fries which I found mediocre. I chatted with a motorcycle couple after noticing that the man was wearing some Army patches and had a Vietnam Veteran sticker on his motorcycle.

    Service at the restaurant was really slow so I waited a very long time for the others, but that gave me some time to do a little exploring. Behind the restaurant, I found Pine Creek, which Daphne and I explored.
    Daphne at the edge of Pine Creek

    I tried to take a nap with the babbling brook sounds in the background but the rock that I lay on did not make a good pillow so I just rested.
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    CampgroundOpen accordion icon
    Back at the campground, some of the nieces rode on the carousel.
    Riding the carousel

    A few of the kids and I played in the pool. We tossed around one of the kid's pink Croc shoe. This held our attention for quite a long time until some of us were too chilled to remain in the water any longer.

    I made a campfire and taught the boys some martial art techniques while the women took care of dinner.

    Hazel led us in campfire songs. They were really church songs because that is what she knows and wants to share with the kids. Hazel isn't very mobile so this was her special chance to do something with them.

    The eldest boy saw a black bear. Norma and I saw it too. It was too dark to get a good photo but there was no doubt that it was a bear. It was under the deck of the trailer across from our cabin. The next day, an employee said that there are two bears that frequent the campground.

    It rained a little during the night...not enough for folks in the cabin to notice.
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     Monday, August 15, 2022

    PlaygroundOpen accordion icon
    With much of the weekend crowd gone, the campground was now very quiet.

    The women needed some time to get things cleaned up and to make lunches for the day so Norma had me take the kids. I brought them to one of the playgrounds. Unlike a lot of modern playgrounds, which are plastic, this was almost entirely made of wood. There was a zipline but it was lacking a line, so it was useless. The kids spent most of their time on the two wooden ships. A couple of girls from another part of the campground joined in. "Bigfoot" seems to be a recurring theme, especially for Laah's son.
    Oldest nephew on wooden ship playground
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    Bicycling in Pine Creek GorgeOpen accordion icon
    The big activity for the day was bicycling on the Pine Creek Rail Trail which runs through the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania. This is what first drew Norma and me to the area. It is quite beautiful and the deep valley makes for some dramatic views.

    Norma planned out the logistics for this ride beautifully. We drove to Pine Creek Outfitters. They fitted each of us with a bike, except for Hazel and the youngest. The latter would ride with Norma in a trailer. The second youngest wasn't proficient enough on a bike so she rode on a "trailer bike" that attached to my bike. This enabled her to pedal but not steer, as I would do that. The two older kids were very used to riding.
    Second oldest kid on a bike in the shop

    It took awhile to get everyone what they needed and to get things properly adjusted. The two fellows that worked with us were very patient with the kids.

    The bikes got shuttled to the Marsh Creek Access, where we commenced our ride.
    All the bicyclists ready to ride

    We rode south for a mile to Darling Run. Hazel drove her car here to meet us and join us for lunch. She brought Daphne along, who didn't join us for the ride. A ranger showed us a bald eagle nest just across Pine Creek.
    Bald eagle nest

    One of the kids found a pickerel frog. These frogs
    ...emit skin secretions which are irritating to people and toxic to some predators; making the pickerel frog the only poisonous frog native to the United States.
    - from Wikipedia - Pickerel frog

    I don't believe anyone reported symptoms from handling the frog. I didn't learn about it until I got home.
    Pickerel frog

    We continued riding.
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    Two kids riding, the older one without his hands on the handlebars
    No hands!
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    Laah and one of the kids riding.  Laah waving
    Hi Laah!
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    Second youngest niece in tow.
    Towing a niece.
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    Me and two kids with the greenage of the valley in the background
    Beautiful landscape.
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    Norma biking, pulling a trailer with the youngest child
    Towing the trailer.

    Eventually, we reached Little Fourmile Run. Here, we spent some time exploring Pine Creek on foot. I found the remains of a dead crayfish and a few impression fossils.
    Rock where shells left their imprint

    The kids enjoyed their time playing in the water.
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    Norma and the kids look for things in Pine Creek
    Pine Creek.
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    Dramatic view of Pine Creek Gorge
    Pine Creek Gorge.
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    Mayfly exuvia with its head and one leg missing
    Mayfly exuvia.
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    The three youngest girls at the water
    Youngest girls.
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    Three kids at Pine Creek
    At the creek.

    For the ride back, my passenger in tow wanted to ride in Aunt Norma's trailer. So Norma's load got significantly heavier with two kids.
    Norma and other riding on the rail trail

    We ended up biking 11 miles. I asked each person to try and guess how far we rode and the oldest girl guessed most correctly. It was a good distance given the diverse age of our riders.
    Map of our route
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    CampgroundOpen accordion icon
    Back at the campground, I took a nap in my tent. Then, with my batteries recharged I took care of the kids, playing Gaga Ball with them. This is the first time I played it. It is a very dusty game. The oldest kid pretty much dominated and I only won a couple of rounds.

    I went on the jumping pillow with two of the kids. This is like a trampoline that sort of resembles a giant air mattress. We played "King of the Hill" and I convinced one kid that she beat me...a victory for both of us.

    That night we had another campfire and more church singing led by Hazel.

    I kept an eye out for the bear but didn't see it.

     Tuesday, August 16, 2022

    CampgroundOpen accordion icon
    I packed up the tents and got everything loaded up in the van while the other adults helped get the kids packed up and cleaned out the cabin.

    We played miniature golf at the campground. It was the worst mini golf course I'd ever seen. It was in total disrepair. But I don't think the kids cared. The girls didn't seem too interested in it and chose instead to go for a 0.75 mile ride on the mini train in the campground.
    Mini train

    The two boys kept playing mini golf with me. It seemed to hold their attention well. I didn't keep overall score but I kept score for individual holes. Each of us won a few holes.

    While I am a little critical about the condition of the campground, one thing I love about it is that I never saw a mosquito.

    Norma and I took the kids for a walk past some of the other cabins and recreational vehicles. That was our last activity before heading home.
    Norma, Daphne, and the kids in front of a John Deere tractor at the campground
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    Heading homeOpen accordion icon
    We had some technical difficulties with the rooftop carrier on the van. Turns out I installed it upside down. When we stopped at an Arby's in Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania for lunch, I fixed it in the rain.

    Hazel, Laah, and her kids headed back home while Norma and I look our vanload back to their house. Of course, then we had to drive back to our house. It was an exhausting weekend. The next day, both Norma and I were beat.

    Overall, we think the weekend worked out well. There was some sibling drama but nothing out of the ordinary. The younger boy hurt his leg but it didn't swell and the next day, he was playing on the jumping pillow, which is how he hurt it the day before. So it couldn't have been too bad. As far as I know, nobody lost or broke anything important and nobody got sick.

    All of Norma's hard work and planning really paid off. I think the kids will look back fondly on these four days. I did what I could to make Norma's job easier but she was the brains behind it all. Great job Norma!

    Impression fossil in Pine Creek Gorge
    Impression fossil