Philadelphia and So Much More On Constitution Day

9/17/14 Wednesday in Lebanon,PA (Hershey Campground-TT)

We were on our way to Philadelphia by 8 am, since it was at least an hour and half trip. Going via US 322, PA 72, then I-76 (toll road) and I-676 was easy enough. It got really congested as we drew near, so my “Waze” (GPS phone app) guided us along side streets to get past the I-76 clog, then back onto I-76 in time to catch the I-676 to the Visitor Center. Wonderful help!! This took us right to the Parking for the Visitor Center. Such a relief, for the first time in a large city. ($17/day parking).

This is a National Park, so I got my stamps in the Passport book while John got our tickets to Independence Hall (free). Such a beautiful fall day again. A bit crisp but not really humid. This is where the Declaration of Independence was signed as well as the Constitution. In fact today (Sept 17) is Constitution Day!! So cool. We didn’t even realize until they told us.

hall 1 hall 2 hall 3 hall 4 hall 5 hall 6

Just inside is a painting including all those who attended the signing of the Constitution (created when the Articles of Confederation weren’t working). George Washington (about 6 feet tall) was the leader and sat in the center chair. You see the actual chair he sat in. The man in front that you only see from behind is Mr. Broom from Delaware. He’s the only one the artist couldn’t locate any images of.

hall 7 hall 8 hall 9

The area above was to the left as you walk in. To the right is the courtroom, with a “prisoner’s box” where the prisoner stood. Thus the prisoner had to “stand” trail. The witness had to stand also (that’s why it’s called the witness stand). Their is a large hall in between the courtroom and signing room, where the onlookers could fit when the issue drew a large crowd.

hall 10 hall 11 hall 12

Not far away is where they keep the Liberty Bell. You read a lot of its history before seeing the bell itself. The quote on the bell: “ Proclaim Liberty Throughout All The Land Unto All Inhabitants Thereof.” (from Leviticus Ch 25, Verse 10).

bell 1 bell 2 bell 3 bell 4 bell 5 bell 6

When we got back to the Visitor’s Center we found out that because it’s Constitution Day, the National Constitution Center was open for free today. ($15/person) so we couldn’t pass up that opportunity! They have a marvelous show (with a live actor) called “Freedom Rising”. A must see. No photos allowed. Then we got in on the birthday cake party at noon – including a rousing speech by “George Washington” (we gave the “Hoozah” several times), and “Happy Birthday” by the little band.

const 1 const 2 const 3

They have the dates each state signed the Constitution with their flag hanging above. Now we know why the Delaware license plates read “The First State”.

const 4 const 5

Then we explored “The Story of We the People”, a wonderful exhibit of the history of our Constitution and all the changes through the years. At 4,400 words the US Constitution is the shortest and oldest written national constitution still in existence. (227 this year).  Did you know that the introductory phrase “We the People of the United States’ was an 11th-hour addition to the US Constitution’s preamble by Pennsylvania delegate Governor Morris?

const 6 const 7 const 8 const 9 const 10

At this point we took a break at the “Delegates” Restaurant downstairs. Good food for reasonable prices. John had a hamburger and onion rings while I had buffalo chicken salad and a fruit cup.

Off to walk the city and visit other places.

Betsy Ross House. This is adorable, well worth the $4 for a tour. The sweetest little lady portrayed Betsy Ross. She was quite the patriot – even making musket cartridges in her cellar where the British wouldn’t find them.

betsy 1 betsy 2 betsy 3 betsy 4 betsy 5 betsy 6 betsy 7 betsy 8

This was Ben Franklin’s home town as well. Did you know he was the oldest to sign the Constitution, at 84? He was suffering from kidney stones and gout, so that’s why he’s depicted sitting in the painting above. The second photo is of the foundation lines of his house. The concrete structures give a glimpse of the underlying brickwork that still exits.

ben 1 ben 2 ben 3

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington Park, where many bodies were buried over the years.

park 1a park 2 park 3 park 4

Further on is “Signer’s Garden”:
signer 1 signer 2

As you can see, Philadelphia is lovely city, with great green spaces. Here is an image of one of their of skyscrapers as we left.

sky 2

I-76 was pretty congested as we left (around 3:30pm), but cleared up in time. Nice drive home. We were pretty tired when we arrived, though and enjoyed a leftover supper.

That night both of us had upset tummies. I didn’t sleep well, but John did.  We think it’s our leftovers….

Posted in National Parks, Pennsylvania | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ephrata Cloister

9/16/14 Tuesday in Lebanon,PA (Hershey Campground-TT)

Last night Susan got their site pretty much packed up and Bill had a good night. They’re thinking they can get on the road today and continue their path with Larry/Gail, as originally planned. RV people are TOUGH. So it was that we said good by to Larry/Gail and about an hour later to Bill/Susan. Even when you don’t have the responsibilities of a job you still may have to push on.

Since Shady Maple Smorgasbord is near the Ephrata (EH frah tah) Cloister we thought it would make the trip worthwhile to combine the two. By seeing the Ephrata Cloister first we could make our lunch late and maybe not need supper.

The nearby town of Ephrata was named after this Cloister, formed by the mystic Conrad Beissel in the 1730’s. In Germany, at 24, he had a spiritual awakening and seeking religious freedom came to Germantown, near Philadelphia. He was a leader of a congregation, then sought solitude in the forest. Elements he felt were important were not what other’s in his congregation had in mind: Saturday for worship and forgoing earthly marriage. Others followed him, forming the Community of the Solitary at Ephrata that numbered 80 by 1750. They were partially supported by Householders (married with families) living on nearby farms.

Their life was quite regimented, to ensure closer union with God: one vegetarian meal a day at 7 pm, work in the fields, with manuscripts and singing along with many solitary prayer times. Their bed was a small plank (everyone was pretty thin) with a wooden block for a pillow because they were not to sleep, just rest. They also got up for a couple hours at midnight for prayer. They operated a printing press which included the largest book printed in America: “Martyrs’ Mirror”, for the Mennonites.

ephrata 11

They also created musical compositions and German calligraphic writing. They were charitable, making the Cloister a site of a Revolutionary War military hospital.

Our guide wore the white garb that the Brothers and Sisters wore. The doorways were small and low, to remind them of humility. Brothers lived in a separate building from the Sisters. This is the Sister’s home, attached to the Meeting Hall. By the way, they called the houses of Ephreta Cloister “Skyscrapers” because, at 4 and 5 floors tall, their roofs seemed to “scrape the sky.”

ephrata 1 ephrata 2 ephrata 3 ephrata 4 ephrata 5 ephrata 6

Their Meeting Hall was once divided by a wall to separate the Brothers from the Sisters.

ephrata 7 ephrata 8

Conrad Beissel lived alone in a building in his later years. Music was important (he led the choirs), even writing much of their compositions. He wrote and published America’s first book of original compositions. He and his followers believed the Second Coming would happen before he died. When it didn’t, Peter, his successor decided to loosen the rigorous demands, since it was not possible to live that way as one got older.

ephrata 9 ephrata 10

Images from the museum:

ephrata 11 ephrata 12 ephrata 13 ephrata 14 ephrata 15

Shady Maple Smorgasbord was, naturally, lots of fun and so filling. They even had a Turkey Hill stand there this time, so we enjoyed their ice cream. After purchasing some produce at Shady Maple Market, we headed home. We did stop to record this street sign. Remember, this is where many German people settled and Elser is German. John found about 12 Elsers in the Ephrata phone book.

ephrata 16

This is beautiful country, filled with rolling hills and small farms.  We saw this on our way home:

farm 1

When we got back home we had to take a walk. Then we enjoyed a quiet evening at the end of a lovely fall day.

Posted in Pennsylvania | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Potluck Finale!

9/15/14 Mon in Lebanon,PA (Hershey Campground-TT)

I started this day with a bang-cleaning house, then working on the blog. We got to talking with Larry and Gail next. Our good friends are beginning to take their different paths. Larry/Gail will be leaving tomorrow for Monticello, Randy/Sue are leaving later to get their new home settled on their property. Larry/Maryanne are leaving soon as well. Big change in plans for Bill/Susan. Bill flew to London to spend a week with his daughter, son-in-law and new granddaughter. Unfortunately an issue he had with his knee grew worse by the time he came back. The next morning they went to the emergency room for the pain and swelling he was suffering. When this did not really abate after following the ER instructions, Susan found an Orthopedist able to see Bill today. It was looking like they may need to stay in this area for weeks but fortunately they found out no surgery would be in the cards soon. Bill felt a huge relief from the treatment he got and they’re considering leaving here sooner.

John and I took a walk in this gorgeous sunny, crisp, fall weather. We found ourselves talking with Larry and Gail again as they were trying to set up for the potluck. We left so they could get ready and wouldn’t you know Jim, the Mobile RV guy came by. He couldn’t help Larry with his RV issue, but amazingly their campfire and potluck preparations were good when we came over. The couples mentioned above all came to celebrate the end of a lovely time in Hershey, a great chance to connect.

Thanks for the campfire and the memories, Larry and Gail!

hershey 2*hershey

Posted in Pennsylvania | Leave a comment

America’s Largest RV Show and Buying an RV Lessons plus Cornwall Iron Furnace Buildings

9/10-14/14 Wed-Sun in Lebanon,PA (Hershey Campground-TT)

I don’t think it was the America’s largest, but it was big. Of the 5 days we only went there on 2 (cost $10/person each day).

No, we didn’t buy an RV. We tried, but the first was too expensive in the end and the other was sold by the time we were dickering. So it goes. We did learn valuable lessons:

*A Manufacturer’s RV show (versus one dealer) has the best, biggest discounts, even for used vehicles, because the manufacturers are adding money to the pot for dealers.

*Also at a Manufacturer’s RV show you have access to the expertise of representatives from the manufacturer. In our case we spent a couple hours questioning the Winnebago Journey/Meridian product manager. He designs the floor plans and knows the chassis very well. SO helpful. He explained that the 34B design was dropped because sales were slipping, then really falling with the entry of the 34T design and went way down in 2014, thus they discontinued it.

We also spent over an hour with the Newmar technician. They put a lot into insulation and comfort heating/cooling and comfort driving.  A lot to make your time in a Newmar a comfortable experience.

*When a dealer gives a very low price for an RV (often for one that has been on the floor for a long time-not wanted by the people in that area) because he needs to move it. Also he’ll give you a rock bottom price for your trade in (like the $36,000 offer for our RV), so he can make his profit there. Conversely, when his selling price is high his trade-in value is high. Although at the manufacturer’s RV show you would see high trade-in values too.

*When working with either of the above 2 scenarios, keep in mind that if your residence (driver’s license) is in a state with sales taxes, you want to negotiate the sale price down, letting your trade in value go lower (it’s the difference the dealer is looking for).

*The vast majority of buyers finance, take out a loan, to buy their RV.

*For a good rate, try a credit union or a HELOC on your home, if you own one. This way you may also be able to claim secondary house tax deductions.

*If your trade-in is over 10 years old the banks may not finance any loan, thus this RV is harder for a dealer (and individual) to sell.

*A La Mesa representative told me that their Internet Sales works like this: When you see the photo/description and call with your interest you are directed to the sales dept. for that RV. They will send you a detailed list describing any defects. If you want to buy it you place a deposit on it, come look at the rig (even 1900 miles away). If you still want it then you complete the sale process. If not, they will return your deposit money.

Sunday after church we explored the buildings surrounding the Cornwall Iron Furnace that we didn’t have time for last week:

The Furnace Building (to the left is the walkway on which they would cart the charcoal which had been stored in a building connected left of the walkway, now the Visitor Center).

iron 1

Blacksmith Shop. Here is where tools for mining and iron making were created. They also made tools/hardware for the community.

iron 2

Abattoir. A Gothic Revival building, featuring quatre-foil windows, was the smokehouse and butcher shop for the Cornwall estate. There was a whole village supported by this iron industry.

iron 3

Manager’s House/Office Building. This great stone building was erected in the 19th century as a residence for the Furnace Manager, who ranked only second to the owner. Today it’s a day care center for children.

iron 4

Stable. This stable quartered the horses and mules used in everyday functions of the furnace. Notice the keystone arches over the lower doors and the vent grills in the upper doors. Today the stable serves as the maintenance shop for Cornwall Manor (Adult living center).

iron 5

Paymaster’s Office. Today Cornall Manor uses this building as an art studio.

iron 9

Ironmaster’s Mansion. The sons of the builder of Cornwall Furnace constructed this mansion around 1773. The Coleman family, whose patriarch acquired the furnace, did extensive remodeling in 1865. Today a few residents of Cornwall Manor have apartments in the old mansion.

iron 6 iron 7

Minersvillage. Company housing was made available to miners and furnace workers, constructed in the 1860’s and have been continuously occupied. Today many have 2 numbers: one for the current house number and the other, for the company number of yesteryear.

iron 8


Posted in Pennsylvania | Tagged | Leave a comment

Roots Country Market and Auction

9/9/14 Tuesday in Lebanon,PA (Hershey Campground-TT)

Up late again (ah retirement), then the gang took off for Roots in Mannheim,PA. HUGE. Great Amish produce, meats, dairy, sewing, furniture as well as flea market/antique items. I thought we wouldn’t buy anything, but as soon as we stepped in the door of building #5, I saw Avon and the Skin So Soft (mosquito repellant) I’d been told about. John found a good (cheap) belt. Those odd things you have in the back of your mind but never seem to run into.

Some highlights from my perspective:

roots 1 roots 2 roots 3 roots 4 roots 5**roots

On our way home Larry felt the calling for a McDonald’s McFlurry. I’d never heard of them…a small Blizzard really. We all had our lunches and took care of business, then gathered to play “13”. John won AGAIN. There seems to be a growing urge to conquer him.

It had come up that John and Gail LOVE liver, because they fix it right, so today we had a “cook off” for our shared dinner. Susan abstained since liver is something she wants kept far from her mouth. Both John and Gail did a super job! Yum!! Plus great corn and other goodies from the market.

To finish off our fun day, we played “13” again. This time Larry won!!!!

Since we’re going to the Hershey RV Show tomorrow and the next few days, I may take a Blog Break.

Posted in Pennsylvania | Leave a comment

Happy Birthday Larry! Project Fun For John and I

9/8/14 Monday in Lebanon,PA (Hershey Campground-TT)

We got up late so the morning went quickly. I wrote/posted yesterday’s blog, did my light housecleaning and visited with Larry/Gail.

Then we got ambitious this afternoon: I cleaned screens, blinds and windows while John cleaned major tar spots off the rear end of the CRV with “Tarminator”. This product was recommended by our brother-in-law Gene and does it ever deliver!!!! Sap, all the bad stuff just wipes away. Then he waxed that part of the car. It feels SO good to stand back and enjoy the results of your efforts. Plus it was good exercise. We’ll be walking a lot at the RV Show (starts Wednesday) but we’ve done so very little since arriving to Hershey, I feel like my walking muscles are melting away.

Speaking of Hershey campground, here’s another view near our site. I was waiting for the sun, but was too busy cleaning to nab a photo then, so I got it the next day when it was all cloudy.

hershey 1**hershey 1

For dinner we all (Larry/Gail, Susan, Randy/Sue and John/Trish) went to an Italian restaurant: Gabby’s Italian Bistro, on a recommendation Randy got at the doctor’s office!! It was wonderful food and good prices and the sweetest waitress. Leftovers galore. Happy Birthday Larry. Life is Good.

Posted in Pennsylvania | Leave a comment

Cornwall Iron Furnace

9/7/14 Sunday in Lebanon,PA (Hershey Campground-TT)

Mass ended around 11:30 am. The Cornwall Iron Furnace was not far from the church but opened at noon so we wandered around the outside awhile before we could begin the tour. ($7/senior, 65+) It started with a movie at 12:30 pm, so we studied the artifacts in an outer room first. Our tour guide was one of the best – she had a way of explaining that everyone could hear and follow, plus she’d ask about questions and let there be silence. Sure enough questions bubbled up often. That really made our experience all the more interesting. Boy did we learn a lot about Iron Furnaces!

This is the only surviving intact Charcoal Cold Blast Furnace in the Western Hemisphere. It was built in 1742 by Peter Grubb, a stone mason who’d been mining nearby. The 3 hills that contained this high iron content ore have been dug through 1972, thus are now a large lake. Mt. Gretna, nearby, is where they got the wood. It took an acre of trees to burn into charcoal that would feed the furnace in one day. Because it took a long time to build to hot enough and cool, it was only allowed to cool when the water in the stream that powered their water wheel froze or was too low. The water wheel was necessary to power the bellows that brought more oxygen to the fire since more oxygen was required to get the fire hot enough to melt the iron ore. It BLASTED the air into the furnace. Later Coleman used the innovation of a steam engine for power, thus he used the heat emanating from the furnace to power the steam engine and didn’t have to shut it down except for maintenance once in a while.

Peter named it Cornwall after his home in England. His sons ran it after he died but they fought a lot and eventually sold it to Robert Coleman who, along with his descendants, ran it until 1883 when anthracite coal made it obsolete. It was abandoned until 1932 when his great-granddaughter donated it to Pennsylvania. Around 1972 the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission renovated it and began sharing it with the public.

This building was for storing the charcoal. Men would carry it up the roof through those ladders, then drop it down.

iron 1

These images explain the process of the furnace. It threw in some artifacts for good measure. They even made the cannons and cannonballs for our Revolution.

iron 2 iron 3 iron 4 iron 5

The charcoal storage building is where they have the visitor center now. A walkway leads from it to the “Charge Path” in the next building. Here they’d have carts of charcoal on one side and wagons of iron ore on the other side, with a complement of limestone at the back, near the far window. They’d “charge” the furnace with a layer of 250 lbs. of charcoal, 450 lbs. of iron oar and 50 lbs. of limestone which attached to the impurities, helping to separate them from the iron. In the final image you’re looking down the hole into furnace, where men would dump their “charge”.

iron 6 iron 7 iron 8 iron 9

This is the wheel that would turn the gears to power the pistons, all run by the steam engine (2nd image). The old water paddle wheel used to be in this spot. The little mechanism in the corner of the room where the steam engine was would sent a signal (bell) to the man watching the steam engine. Our guide said that the men would try sounding it, not the children, so they cut the long wire that used to hang down to ring it.

iron 10 iron 11 iron 12

At the bottom of the furnace we see where the molten iron and slag came out. The slag was directed to where the walkway is, to be broken and carted off by young apprentices when it had cooled. You can see where the iron was directed into either molds (crates set near the furnace) or a path to the furrows in the sand. The name pig iron, still used today, refers to how they were arranged – like piglets at their mom. The center row of iron was called the sow.

iron 13

When the tour was over it was well past lunch time, so we headed home. We hope to visit again to check out the surrounding buildings they show in their brochure. We set out to WalMart for our groceries next. As soon as we got home I put together our Sassy Chicken Salad for the potluck, took a wee nap, then off we went to fun times with Randy/Sue (hosting the potluck), Susan, Gail/Larry. Only when it got really cold did we all head back to our homes.

Posted in Pennsylvania | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment