Saturday, October 29, 2016

They Were Getting Naked So It Was Time to Leave

October 25-28, 2016
Matamoras - Bernville, Pennsylvania

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When we first ventured into northwestern Vermont, the leaves were just starting to turn yellow, with a few bright reds showing up occasionally. We were blessed to enjoy the full spectrum of color change throughout our New England travels, so when a significant number of trees were completely naked we knew it was time to get south :-)))

Along with arboreal nudity, the forecast included some of that white stuff so foreign to us. I had planned two nights in Matamoras, Pennsylvania, so we could visit the Storm King Art Center (a Jo Ann recommendation), but that would make our next travel day in snow and rain so we opted for one night only.

The drive from Connecticut on I-84 is beautiful. Not far into New York the trees are still holding onto their leaves, but the colors are very different. The yellows are more mustard than lemon, Chinese red is replaced with deep brick red, we see rich pumpkin oranges instead of bright tangerine, and the evergreens have a sage tint. You know those colors in the Crayola box - Raw Sienna and Burnt Umber? This is where they got those - the browns adding wonderful color to this new palette. At the top of the many hills we can see for miles in every direction, and all are full of color. No photos, you just need to come see it!

Tri-State RV Park is tucked against Interstate 84 in the corner that connects New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania at the Delaware River. Nothing fancy, and the road noise is pretty loud, but it is a clean park with level gravel sites, FHUs with 50 amp!, good water pressure, open skies and strong park WiFi. With direct river access, a cute little town, and access to nearby Delaware Gap, this is a nice stop. 

Our overnight in Matamoras is chilly, dropping to 24 degrees in the morning and freezing our water hose. Fortunately nothing is damaged and it soon thaws in the sunshine. We're on the road by 10:30, turning away from the Interstate.

We enjoy the drive through Delaware Gap National Forest, along the Delaware River. It's a narrow road with beautiful steep cliffs along the north side, and I'm glad we decided not to wait and do it during the coming storm. We miss the waterfalls, but the creeks running from their location are barely trickling so I'm not sure there are falls to see this time.

There are several RV parks to choose from in the Hershey/Lancaster area, and all of them are expensive. Since our next stop is at Cherry Hill near Washington DC, which is the most expensive place we've ever stayed, I opt for a more reasonably priced park in Shartlesville, just off I-78.

Pennsylvania Dutch Campground is a small park with mostly seasonals under the trees, and with ten overnight sites in the open area. Our site is mostly level with gravel and grass. FHUs with 50 amp, cable which we don't need because our satellite connects, 2 bars of LTE, and no park WiFi. Although we're not far from the highway, there is no noise. Showers, laundry, seasonal swimming pool, recreation hall, playground, and small general store.

Our Jeep battery is dead again. We get a quick jump, set up at our site, and head for the Walmart auto center. Although they say it will be 90 minutes, we're back on the road in less than an hour. Glad we don't have to worry about that anymore! 

As expected it rains all day Thursday. Steady but not heavy, and very cold. Checking the weather app, Bill notes that all of New England is getting snow. As is Matamoras. I love having a home with wheels :-)

We get out in the afternoon, making a trip to Cabela's just to browse, and then to Cracker Barrel for late lunch.

Un-named sculpture in front of Cabela's
Arctic wolves and muskox display

This guy is eight feet tall!
There are a couple things we want to see during our short stay here. One of them is Hershey. We've been told it's "just fun", which is a ringing endorsement.

Friday morning we make the 30 minute drive to the candy-themed town with the hint of chocolate in the air. I'm amazed at how many tourist attractions fill this mid-size town. The Hersheytown amusement park coasters tower over the museum and store and Chocolatetown, and the large hotel sits atop a small hill. Like the Roswell alien street lights, the Hershey Kiss street lights are unique and very cute. The size of the parking lots, and the special bus lanes, indicate that this place is packed during the summer. Contradicting the tourist trap feel is how immaculate the whole place is. It's like they vacuum the sidewalks and the streets.

Only in Hershey
We pick Chocolatetown so we can take the tour, which turns out to be a cute Disney-tram through an animated enactment of the process. It's actually pretty fun, explains the many steps I never knew about making a candy bar, has singing cows, and it's free. The metal poles and chains that keep long lines organized are another sign that this a popular attraction. We walk right in and board our cart. Tessa is not impressed with the moving floor, but she's comfortable for the noisy ride.

We make it out of the giant store full of everything candy with a couple grand-baby gifts, and maybe a few pieces of said candy. 

It's only one o'clock so we continue to Harrisburg to visit the capital city. The Susquehana River is beautiful, and very wide - but large, visible rocks indicate it is extremely shallow in places. 

There are several museums here, but with limited time I want to visit a historic place instead. The Fort Hunter Mansion looks just right. 

Located on the bank of the river, the mansion is not only completely restored, but all of the furnishings, clothes and artifacts are original to the last residents. Rugs, curtains and wallpaper are reproductions, the hardware is original. It is the most complete historic home I've visited thus far. And Bill joins me for the tour!

The mansion was built in 1814 by Archibald McAllister, the ornate porch added in 1900 by the final residents, Helen and John Boas.
At the rear of the mansion, and sharing a wall, the original McAllister home was built in 1786. To the right, and also attached, is the final addition built by the Boas family - the wooden summer kitchen.
A classic beauty
with wonderful views of the Susquehana River. The master bedroom upstairs looks over the water with the best view of the old stone bridge.
We watch a short film about the fort that no longer stands here, the family of Revolutionary War hero Captain McAllistair, and the Boas family who built a large dairy farm and other industry on the property. Left to nine nieces and nephews upon the death of Helen Boas, it was one niece, Margaret Wister Meigs, who preserved the family home and opened the museum in 1933.

Margaret's four children donated the museum and property to the citizens of Dauphin County in 1980.
Our docent, Molly, gives us a great tour of two of the three stories, including the original cabin and the summer kitchen. It is fascinating to see so many personal items from Helen's family.

The formal parlor. The settee is stuffed with horsehair and upholstered with mane and tail hair - it feels like a seat belt. They found a roll of the wallpaper in the attic so this room is papered in the exact replica. Pretty, but very busy!
This original Regina Victrola plays reproduction tin discs. What a treat to hear something nearly 200 years old sounding so sweet.
The stairway was built to impress
with no visible signs of support, three stories high
The cradle was built as a gift by a local tribe for one of John and Helen's children.
Helen's nightgowns
Molly explains the use of bathing basins, usually once a month. Feet in the hole, bottom on the "seat", hot and cold water in the containers. Amazing.
Even the dollhouse in the small playroom is fully furnished.
Note that at the time shoes were not made for left and right - both shoes were the same and switched back and forth to extend wear (except for possibly the side-button boots!). I never knew this.
The kitchen is my favorite room - especially this wonderful fireplace. The piece to the left is a rotisserie that was placed facing the heat and turned by hand.
Apple butter was made in the large copper kettle, and is still made in it each year at the museum. John's rifles lean against the wall next to the wooden bread warmer which is built into the wall beside the fireplace. 
Every year since 2006, archaeology students from Penn State conduct a dig here, looking for Fort Hunter. They have found evidence of Native Americans who lived here thousands of years ago, but so far no fort. There is no doubt that it stood on this property, they just can't find the foundation. I think it's weird.

Included on the grounds is a wonderful community board.

My son Brian must have been here and added the second one in the middle......
After our wonderful tour we head downtown to see the grand State Capitol, but the sun is low in the sky and makes it impossible to see the dome. The large fountain recognizes that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. 

It's after 3 o'clock and we're hungry! A very good lunch at The Millworks, and we head back home.

Bill's yummy pesto spiral pizza
Saturday is expected to be another beautiful day so we're off to see Amish country. But first, how cute is this little fox??

Ezra Michael, 14 months


  1. You have definitely been busy and seen one heck of a lot. Now is the right time to probably start think about heading south. Snow comes to those northern states. However, I'm sure you're aware of that.

    1. Yeah, we're keeping an eye on it - 80 degrees here today :-) - and hoping we can get through our time in Kentucky without any snow.

  2. Great hook there with your title!! So glad you got out before the snow! Smart people:) Sometimes it take visitors to show you things you've never seen up the road. Love the Fort Hunter Mansion! Never been there or heard of it:) But I have done Chocolate World many times! Priorities:) Hope you enjoyed your visit to the Amish Country:) Ezra is so so adorable:)

    1. :-))) The house was a fun side trip that I'm really glad we found. That river is really pretty too. We really couldn't miss Chocolate World!!!

  3. Great title! You certainly scored following the fall colors. Interesting museum to have so much original home furnishings. Really right down to night gowns. Ezra is a cutie.

    1. It will be interesting to see "where" the colors are as we move south. The house even had children's clothes and hair brushes - a lot of things had been stored in the attic and barn.

  4. Well that's a mighty cute fox you've got there. I didn't know they liked pumpkins :-) 24 degrees is a NO WAY for me. Guess that's why I never get to see all of the fall in New England like you did. We went to Hershey and enjoyed the tour but more than that we just loved the make your own chocolate bar and I would do that again in a heartbeat. Made some to take as gifts with folks names on them in a nice tin. Big Bar. What a gorgeous setting and staircase in the Hunter Mansion.

    1. He's a cutie! The temps have been all over with 81 today and rain, so a couple cold days haven't been a big deal. I saw the make your own but figured that was way too dangerous for us!!! You would love the mansion.

  5. That mansion is something else! I loved the detail.

    Ezra sure is a cutie!

    1. All the kitchen "gadgets" were really interesting! Yes, he just keeps getting cuter :-)

  6. Ezra is growing so fast...what a cutie!
    Love the Fort Hunt's beautiful inside and out!
    We love that area of Pennsylvania...even bought a Harley there in 2012...which we sold after we got the jeep.

    1. We've enjoyed our short stay here, and like usual there's more to see than we made time for :-)

  7. Nice job with describing all of the different fall colors :-) It's like we're right there along side you. How do you decide what to visit? The museum looks like quite an interesting place to visit. And can I just say YUMMERS to anything Hershey!!

    1. Thanks! Sometimes I route to see something specific like our stop here to see Hershey and Amish country, and then find something unique (and inexpensive) to add to that. Or if we're some place completely unknown like much of our time in New England, I check Trip Advisor around our route. Finally, I go see places other bloggers have shared. SO much candy!!

  8. Haha, love your title! And your Crayola descriptions of the fall colors are perfect. The Hershey tour looks yummy, and the mansion is so ornate! Can you imagine bathing only once a month? Even boondocking I have to shower every day. :-))
    Your little fox is absolutely adorable. (And YES I will resubscribe right now!)

    1. It's hard to imagine the changing colors, from subtle to intense. There was a "tussy mussy" in the closet which women held under their noses in social events - it had a scented rag to cover the smell of all the people - I can't imagine!!

  9. Wow! I take at least a couple of turns through your posts to make sure I don't miss anything. You're seeing it all, just about, aren't you? Even will all that, the little fox steels the show.

    1. He is definitely a show thief!! So fun to have you along. We are definitely seeing a whole lot, and loving all of it. Still tons we've missed for future trips this way.