Penn’s Woods

Pennsylvania comes from “Penn’s Woods” and is named after William Penn who was given a tract of land on the eastern coast of the colonies that is now known as The Keystone State. In these ‘woods’, I grew up and most of my family still live here. Every now and again, I head to the east coast to see everyone and get reacquainted with the area as each time the growth and roads change so drastically that I generally never know where I am.

Most of the week we stayed in Pennsylvania, family and friends visited us at Shady Oaks Campground in Newmanstown. We had no idea what this campground would be like, but it was one of the few that remains open all year long so most of the campers are full-time year rounders. In all honesty, it had the best internet we have ever had in a campground. We arrived the night of the tornados and spent some of the evening with my brother in his brick and mortar home. Otherwise, our time there was quite peaceful and very memorable.

I knew I was ‘home’ from the moment we saw the cooling towers of Three Mile Island – yes I lived there when that event happened. As we passed through Harrisburg I remembered how I protested nuclear power in 1980. Strange how TMI is now closed and I truly believe nuclear power is the cleanest power on the planet. Accidents can be devastating like Chernobyl and Fukishima, but it’s still the best producing power. When I traveled to Collegeville for a Millersville University reunion, I passed the Limerick cooling towers which still power major cities like New York.

We went to the Green Dragon Farmer’s Market to see my sister who works for Renegade Winery doing shows at farmer’s markets everywhere. We had funnel cakes for lunch – yum. The last time I had authentic funnel cakes was in … Alaska at the state fair. Yep, a woman from Lancaster County had a food truck and though they were delicious, the ambiance of eating a funnel cake IN Lancaster County is better!

I had a family gathering to watch the Denver Broncos – never expecting them to win. My sister was in a great mood since her Atlanta Falcons had a BYE week and couldn’t lose. Yesterday, they surprised the Saints!

Sibs: Falcons and Broncos!

I visited with my dad and stepmom. We took them shopping at a small Mennonite grocery to buy fresh cheese. I found some pretzels, too! We invited them to our trailer for a fresh Alaskan salmon dinner. Thank you Denny Wood for the fish. It traveled all the way to PA. Whenever my dad navigates, there is no direct route anywhere (I’m learning my cousin is the same way). So on our quick trip to the cheese store, we took side roads to see the Cornwall Furnace.

Me and Dad

Cornwall Furnace is one of the remaining furnaces of the early American iron industry. Originally built by Peter Grubb in 1742, the furnace underwent extensive renovations in 1856-57 and closed in 1883. At Cornwall furnace, blast equipment, and related Gothic-style buildings still stand as they did 100 years ago. At this iron furnace, cannons, stoves, and pig iron were cast. My next visit to this area will include more of a tour of this historic and fascinating place.

The Cornwall Furnace
Paymaster’s Building

I saw my uncle from near Boston who I hadn’t seen in 40 years. I also reacquainted myself with my cousin who I had to remind that New England fans weren’t welcome anywhere near our trailer. Yeah, she wore that sweatshirt JUST FOR ME!

One of the highlights of the week was taking my husband to a Wilson High School football game – Friday Night Lights! After dressing in the warmest clothes we have along with hand and foot warmers, we made a quick stop at my brothers where he gave me his letter jacket from 1980 to wear. Then, we headed to the John Gurski Stadium. When I was in high school, he was the football coach and changed the whole scene of the program to become the high school powerhouse that it is now. The high school recruits players and their plays resemble college plays as they are being prepared for college ball. They are a 6A team and were seeded #1 in their league playing Harrisburg who was seeded #4. It was a great game though Wilson’s defense had a difficult time against Harrisburg’s ‘Tom Brady’ and one wide receiver. Wilson played a better complete football game, but ended up losing on a pass interference call – a pass that would have been caught and given them the win. Instead, they had one play after the clock ended and didn’t get the pass. Heartbreaker, but stomping our feet for the defense kept us really warm!


I also visited with my mother’s sister who is now 91. She is a very special aunt and reminds me a lot of my mom. We had a nice lunch with some other family and then came back to the trailer for dessert – fresh pumpkin roll. And, no trip to York is complete for me unless I visit my mom’s grave. This time, rather than leaving flowers that die, I placed a small pile of rocks from Seldovia, Alaska on her grave.

My cousin took us to Gettysburg, the long way around, to stretch our legs on Cemetery Ridge after eating too many whoopie pies, pumpkin rolls, and Tastycakes. It was a beautiful sunny day, and since it was Veteran’s Day, there were a lot of veteran’s visiting the area. I had the privilege of sitting with ole Abe Lincoln to discuss how the country he brought out of civil war is struggling once again.

Pickett’s Charge was the culmination of the Battle of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863, the third and last day of battle. It involved an infantry assault of approximately 15,000 Confederate soldiers against Union Major General George Meade’s troops’ position along Cemetery Ridge, manned by some 6,500 Federals.

In our down moments during the week, we were faced once again with trailer issues and making serious decisions. We began to see cracks on our way from Colorado to Pennsylvania. When my brother noticed a new crack, we decided to bite the bullet, face the facts, and focus on purchasing another trailer. It is time to trade this one in for a better built home.

I realize that everyone has issues with their trailers, but Forest River, though they tried to be good and help us last year, never really dealt with the issue of a possibly bent frame. They told us the camber was in spec range which is saying ‘it is bent, but it’s okay bent that much.’ Unfortunately, with the type of travel we do, an ‘okay bent’ isn’t good as we learned with the leaf springs. As much as we have loved this trailer and made it home, we cannot continue to travel as we do with the possibility of it falling apart on the road – something we hope doesn’t happen until we get our new one.

The new one is a Grand Design Solitude. It has a lot of newer features that make the change a very positive upgrade for us and our living experience. This one will have a small toy-hauler-like pullout storage area under the living area in the back. It will allow us to put our bikes inside rather than outside or on top of our truck. It will also have a place for a kayak! There is so much storage underneath the whole trailer that we will not even be able to fill it up – keeping us within the weight limit. The controls for the water and sewer are not underneath the trailer, but on the side making them more accessible. We will have solar panels rather than having to haul our own solar generator. We will even have back-up cameras! (My husband said he will no longer need me!)

The inside will be very different because it has less storage space though it has greater living space. I have been talking to people who own the model we are buying to ask where they put simple things like a broom or hang their coats (we will lose a bunk room and coat closet). One kind couple actually took measurements of cabinets so I can know what will or will not fit. Why is this important?

First, we have storage in Colorado. Second, we are picking the trailer up in February in Las Vegas. When we return to Colorado this week, we need to remove everything that won’t fit or won’t work in the new one and put it into storage so we don’t have return to Colorado from Vegas to rid ourselves of stuff. This is something we won’t be able to do until February since we will be flying to Alaska for the winter – another adventure in the making. Our life is very convoluted at times, but we firmly believe that God is in control and well, perhaps we didn’t listen well enough last year when numerous people told us to trade in our trailer the moment we got it back. Now, we’re listening.

From Penn’s Woods, we leave York County tomorrow for Kentucky to visit The Ark Encounter – a full size Noah’s Ark with all the trimmings.

©2019 Tentstake Ministries Publishing

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