Saturday, July 15, 2017

Epic Adventure 2: The Soloing Stride ... (Part 2 of 6)

(This is a continuation of a series of posts on our second long distance trip, see the first post if you want to start at the beginning.)

our Uhaul CT-13 Fiberglass camper at Steamtown USA National Historic ParkI titled this the Soloing Stride since I was going to spend the next several days with just Zelda (our dog) and I making our way north. I can typically drive longer and later when I'm by myself. I was going to be working during the days and driving a lot in late afternoon/evening.

I had planned to leave the DC campground late afternoon on Tuesday, so as to get an early start and use the evening to put some miles down. I was hoping that navigating traffic would get better as it got later until I could into some more rural areas. The plan was to head north around Baltimore and then head toward Harrisburg, PA inland. I was going to wind north on an inland route that would take me through a few states and end up in New Hampshire on Friday.

As I wound north toward Baltimore, traffic wasn't too bad except when I got to some of the interstate transition points where things tend to go down to one lane. (I never understand why they take 3 interstate lanes and compress them to 1 to merge into another multi-lane interstate.) I took the I-95 North to the I-695 around Baltimore and then joined up with the I-83 headed towards Harrisburg, PA. As I crossed into Pennsylvania, I pulled off at a rest stop to stretch my legs and walk the dog. The rest stop had a nice wooded area that was quiet for walking the dog. My dog doesn't like a lot of commotion around her when she's doing her business. So places where you can walk back away from the cars are the best for her. She is definitely not one of those dogs that will use a tiny green grass island in a parking lot. Can you blamer her though? I like my privacy too. A little further north I pulled off for gas and dinner and stumbled on a little donut shop called Maple Donuts with 58 choices. It was a fun distraction from the driving. After loading up on food and fuel, I hit the road for Harrisburg.

I passed through Harrisburg on the interstate around sunset. It was a beautiful site of the downtown sitting there on the side of the Susquehanna River. I connected with I-81 and headed northeast into the night climbing through some hills and ending up in Wilkes-Barre for the evening at a quiet Walmart parking lot. Zelda and I bedded down for the first of 3 nights on the road.

View from the machine shop looking out at Steamtown NHS
The next morning I drove the short distance to Scranton, PA. Yes, you'll know it as the home of Dunder Mifflin from the tv show The Office. It's also home to another site that was on my list to see: Steamtown National Historic site. Steamtown is sort of like the adult version of Thomas the Train. It's a working locomotive museum based in a roundhouse with an actual working turntable. I spent several hours working and doing meetings in the parking lot but found a break after lunch to venture in and explore. I happened to walk in at the time they were about to start a volunteer led behind the scenes tour and joined the group. The volunteer was extremely knowledgeable and I learned a lot that I didn't know about the different types of trains and how they function "under the hood."  The behind the scenes tour takes you into the shop where they still have guys who work on the trains to keep them running and are renovating other trains. You get to see all the equipment they use which is really neat. I think kids would have a great time here walking around looking at the trains, but they'd need to be middle school or older to really get the behind the scenes tour. Younger kids are not probably going to be able to hang with listening to an old guy talk for an hour. And once you go into the shop, you're stuck because of safety issues they can't let you just leave without walking everyone out. There are a lot of real tools and sharp objects and heavy equipment in the shop too. So best to avoid with little ones. For the adults though, it's a real treat!

Old Truck with a Moose in Vermont
From there I headed to Albany, NY on a pretty uneventful path winding from I-84 to I-87 (the first toll road I had hit on my route).  North of Albany I planned to stay in Troy, but the Walmart had signs stating no overnight parking so I drove on another 30 mins on NY Rt. 7 to Bennington, VT where I spent the night in a grocery store parking lot with a few other RVs.

The next day I found a truck stop on the 2 lane highway with good cell signal in the mountains and worked and did conference calls for a few hours. I took a break and decided to check out the local area a bit.

Bennington Battlefield in NY
On the NY side of the border near Bennington is a small town called Hoosick Falls, it has all the charm of small New England towns. And was decorated for the Fourth of July with American Flags like a lot of other small towns I had passed through. Hoosick Falls is also famous as the last place where Grandma Moses lived (and died). You can definitely see where some of her inspiration came from in and around the little town. (Drive down Main Street in Hoosick Falls.)

Northeast of Hoosick Falls as you wind toward the Vermont line again headed towards Bennington is the Bennington Battlefield State Historic Site. This provided a great opportunity for the history buff in me to check out a Revolutionary War battlefield. The battle, and park, happened just outside of Bennington in Walloomsac, NY. Part of the Saratoga campaign, the battle was a key component to the American's winning the battle of Saratoga. Around 2000 militia men under General John Stark routed the British force that was looking for supplies to bolster the army at Saratoga. Without those supplies, Burgoyne eventually suffered defeat. The great thing about battlefields is you get to mix some history with stretching your legs and walking your dog.

After a late lunch in Bennington, I drove out across the Green Mountain area of Vermont and wound my way into New Hampshire. As evening approached, I found a quiet truck stop on a 2 lane highway south of Concord, NH to spend the night. Tomorrow would be the big day for me to meet up with my family after a week on the road.

The story continues with Epic Adventure 2: Not where we're supposed to be (Part 3)