It has been four days since we departed... it feels like we have been on the road forever. As I write this, I am sitting in Shenandoah National Park in the Big Meadows campground smelling the wood smoke of campfires and listening to the breeze through the mountain laurel and our Spaniard neighbor playing Guantanamera on his guitar. Bruce is off with Emma on her 3rd evening perambulation, which now entails her pushing her stroller as far as she can get going downhill and then one of us carrying her back uphill... she doesn't particularly like sitting in her carriage any more... at least not today... We have traveled over 600 miles to get here. We have already visited 8 National Parks/Historic Sites, hiked the Appalachian Trail, dipped our toes in a waterfall, had an evening with friends in their oasis of a back yard, and sang/sung "If you're happy and you know it!..." more times than we can count... already...
As these adventures go, it has been relatively smooth sailing so far. We got to Hudson, NY to spend time with our friends in their weekend home which they have spent countless hours renovating into a luxurious retreat. After a lovely evening of good food and good conversation, we all slept well. We ticked off cherry picking, a petting zoo and our first national park of the trip (The Martin Van Buren National Historic Site) the next morning before saying farewell and heading off! We hit 2 more National Parks (Vanderbilt Mansion NHS and Franklin Delano Roosevelt NHS) finishing in Promised Land State Park in Pennsylvania, our first camp site.
The next morning, we needed some food.. so we found a Kosher deli open early early in Scranton PA where they served Matzo and eggs, potato knishes, and made Bruce eat off of different plates and drink non-dairy creamer because he wanted sausage... lets say the poor Scottish boy was a bit confused... but it was DELISH!!!! Then we headed over to another treat, Steamtown NHS! A whole park dedicated to... TRAINS!!! Bruce was in his glory and Emma kept "ch...ch.."-ing... she hasn't quite got the "oo" sound down yet... but we are trying. After fawning over trains for a while we went to Allegheny Portage NHS, where there was a rail system made to haul canal boats over a mountain. Emma really liked walking the board walk, squeaking at chipmunks and pushing buttons in the demonstration house. We made some park rangers very happy... they didn't want to stop telling us stories.. even when our obviously tired toddler started wailing and thrashing about... it was cute... They day was pristinely perfect. Blue skies, white puffy clouds, cool breeze, bright sun... so we laid about in the grass for a while before finding a campsite down the road. It was also train themed although the theme was more in the way of the owner's obsession with model trains. To cap the night off we found a Primanti Brothers Restaurant. The one with the huge sandwiches with fries, coleslaw, and tomato on it! Yes, the one you keep seeing on the food network! So we braved life and limb to cross the street where there are no sidewalks and pedestrians are not allowed (anywhere) to reach our chosen dinner. The food was good... sadly not as amazing as food network would make you think, but it was cheap and tasty and we were hungry, so that makes for a good meal. On top of that, we were treated with a rapid thunderstorm that lasted just minutes, started right after we walking into the restaurant, and left us with a DOUBLE RAINBOW!!! Nice!
We woke up the next morning ready to organize the bus and make breakfast... one of those two things took 2 hours... guess which... We dropped our first bag of stuff off at a Sally Army and away we went to Harper's Ferry NHS, close to the tri-border point of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland. This was a big Civil War site. The area changed hands several times during the war, it was a focal point of the Underground Railroad, and a key point for surrenders for both sides. We parked the bus and took the shuttle to the lower town, which is a cool mix of historic NPS preservation and private businesses that have kept this town looking and feeling like a civil war era town. We hiked a tiny bit of the Appalachian Trail (very steep and worn steps), crossed the Potomac River over an active rail line, walked into Maryland on the C&O canal path, fed the baby strawberry ice cream, chatted with a touring cyclist, and had a picnic. Then we started our day! (We hadn't intended to spend much time here at all, but it was a very nice park and a lovely day.) After that we headed off towards Shenandoah and the Skyline Drive! Emma passed out from our busy morning and we were off!
So we entered Shenandoah National Park and onto Skyline Drive and realized we had 51 miles to Big Meadows Campground (the first campground not under construction in the park). The bus did admirably over mountain ridges and around tight corners. Emma woke at about mile 42 so we sang "If you're happy and you know it!" a few more times to get us in. Hit the campground, got a pull through spot, popped the tent, made mac and cheese and peas with rotisserie chicken for dinner in under 30 min! Met our neighbors... the Danish couple with 3 kids and a 7 month old and the Spanish couple with 3 kids and a guitar. Felt like we were in Europe again! The air got chilly so we bundled off to sleep and take a rest day the next day. No Driving tomorrow! Only hiking the Appalachian Trail a couple of times, splashing in a waterfall, playing ukuleles to the baby, eating scrumptious cinnamon buns from the camp store and repacking the back of the bus... again... this is going to be a thing... Oh yeah... and writing the blog... and making weebly work! So there you go, our second blog. Hope the rest of our trip is just as fun, challenging, exciting, rewarding as this has been so far.
If you want to know how Emma is doing, she is sleeping right now. Naps have been perfect since she only naps in the car anyway, this trip was made for her. Sleeping, on the other hand, has been a bit challenging since she takes up far more room in the tent than a 20lbs person should. So Bruce and I are trying different sleeping configurations to accommodate such a tiny bed tyrant. She is happy and giddy but very clingy when we are out of the car though. Being in new places is scary, but she loves taking walks with her stroller and in the hiking backpack. She waves and blows kisses to everyone... and gets mad if they don't notice or don't wave back. :) She has gotten a bit more picky about food, although she definitely eats when she is hungry, she just isn't usually hungry when we just made delicious food... She is talking A LOT! Making all sorts of new sounds and words. She is kissing and feeding her baby doll, tossing her Curious George doll, playing catch with the blue spiky ball, and throwing tantrums if she hears a word even resembling "No". Her hair is getting redder every day and so is her temper. Pretty much normal toddler stuff, tough but good. We love learning about her from her, even if we realize we don't have much say in it. ;)
The World is Ours!