13 June 2008

Lucky or unlucky? You be the judge...

Dawn came early this Friday the 13th. We were up at 6:15 in hopes of being on the road by 7 or so. Ha! We had a minor setback as we were pulling out of the parking lot and Kim reached for the tape recorder to add something about our day and there was no tape recorder to be found. We knew we had had it the night before, so we went in search of. Twenty or thirty minutes later we left, sans tape recorder. Unless it was packed away really well. Not to worry too much - she had brought a back up and we would have only lost a couple of days worth of entries. Strike one. So, it was almost 8 AM when we pulled out of the Skyland Resort, heading north on Skyline Drive to its terminus (actually, its origin) at Front Royal, VA, where we would be having breakfast at Sandy's Diner. Our first stop along Skyline Drive was the Big Stony Man overlook, so that we could see the man himself and see where we were standing on our hike the day before. So here he is, in all of his recumbent glory. It's kind of hard to tell from this photo, but that highest part on the left if supposed to be his brow, and that's where we were. Guess you kinda had to be there to fully appreciate it... Back on the road, we stopped at least four (and maybe five) for these friendly encounters with Bambi's cohorts. We were surprised how unafraid of us they were (of course, the fact that my car makes very little noise allowed us to sort of sneak up on them) and how LONG their tails are! We rolled into Front Royal about nine, which is when we wanted to be at our next stop. We found Sandy's Diner with no problem. Except one...Sandy's is now home to Virginia Auto Group Car Sales. Strike two. On to Plan B.
We had passed one place that looked like it might be open for business, so back we went to the Knotty Pine. Indeed, they were "serving complete meals from 5 AM to 10 PM" so we were in luck. The Pine was a happening place to be - we were lucky to get a booth. As it turns out, these people must be of hardier stock than we are. It was like a Frigidaire in there and they were all in tank tops and camisoles. Maybe their cigarettes were keeping them warm. It was sort of like being in the land time forgot. Kim had her usual scrambled eggs, but with ham this time, and I had a cheese omelet with home fries. They were tasty but nothing to write home about.
Now fortified, we were off to Middletown and the Route 11 Potato Chip Factory. Jill (our friendly Garmin voice) was having a hard time letting us get there without taking the interstate, but we overruled her at every turn. Eventually, we got there! Alas, unbeknownst to their website, they had moved production to a new facility thirty miles south of here. Three weeks ago. Strike three. So we satisfied ourselves with some picture taking and potato chip buying. We purchased Lightly Salted, Salt and Vinegar, Dill Pickle, and Chesapeake Crab chips. We have not even opened the first bag yet, showing remarkable restraint, we think.
Our next stop was Dinosaur Land in White Post, VA, home to replicas of forty species of dinosaurs (very educational) and a "cheesy" gift shop.
We did not test either claim, but here were a couple of our favorite big guys. Given our late start, we opted to pass on stopping in historic Charles Town and Harpers Ferry, WV, and just zoom on to Antietam, Maryland. Although we decided not to take the 8.6 mile tour of the battlefields and the cemetery, we did stop in at the National Cemetery there. It was a solemn place, and it was interesting to see how little the area had changed since Civil War times - the battlefields are still lined with fencing and low stone walls, and there are several cannons strategically placed.

The cemetery was very well maintained, and this cool building sat just inside the ornate gates. The number of graves was staggering - it truly must have been a bloody battle. What a sad time in our history!
From Antietam, we went in search of the Washington Monument State Park in Boonsboro, MD. This was the site of the original monument to our first president. We were looking forward to climbing up lots of stairs to get to the top of it. Someone must not be wanting us to get our exercise, because when we got almost to the park (finally, with lots of pleading with Jill) the road was blocked by a big gate and a sign telling us the park was closed due to storm damage. Aha! That explained all of the downed trees and dead branches we had been seeing.
Strike four! Then, as we tried to move on to our next stop (lunch at Chubby's Bar-B-Q in Emmitsburg, MD, both Jill and AAA tried to send us down some totally impassable roads. This one to the right is gravel and heavily rutted. And there are fallen trees all over. Argh!

We were thinking a little 'que from a place recommended highly by Road Food (Jane and Michael Stern) might just take the edge off what was becoming a frustrating day. But nooooo!

The Sterns surely are not from the south, if they think Chubby's serves 'southern style' barbeque! Bless their hearts! And the sides were no better - I had macaroni and cheese that looked good and tasted like pasta with yellow water poured over it. My baked beans were tasty and almost lukewarm. Kim's potato salad tasted sort of like the variety that is usually served hot, but it was cold. And the barbeque was not up to our high SOUTHERN standards. The sauce was okay though. Not worth finding your way to Emmitsburg for, that's for sure! And for those of you who are clean freaks, don't even think about going in!!! Strike five!

Okay, so surely the rest of our day would be better. We were off to Gettysburg and a little more Civil War history, albeit with a Union slant. What we discovered instead is that we Americans can trivialize, sensationalize, and commercialize ANYTHING. Let's just say our new name for Gettysburg is "Gatlinburg of the Civil War." YUCK!!! Even the old Visitor's Center with its Cyclorama and Electric Map are closed now, and its hard to know where to go to see the 'real' Gettysburg. But if you want the Gatlinburg/Disneyland versions, you are in luck. Your sisters passed. Strike six!

Moving on, ever the optimists, we struck out for York and the Barbell Museum and Weightlifting Hall of Fame. Jill took us all over the Pennsylvania countryside, which thankfully was pretty. At long last, we were about to give up on ever finding our destination, so we decided to make a pit stop instead. I filled up the car while Kim tried to figure out where in the Sam Hill we were. She asked two ladies who worked there and got two different answers. At the same time! Anyway, we left and then immediately found what we were looking for. We just couldn't find how to GET there. But we did save this image just for you! So maybe that's Strike six and a half.
Now you want to know what's really funny? I looked down at the gas gauge and it's still showing the same thing it was before I filled up. Now it's starting to make sense why the machine didn't give me a receipt... AAAARRRGH! Okay, so maybe a visit to the Haines Shoe House would cheer us up. Ha, ha, ha. Traffic on Highway 30 was heavy and not moving too quickly. We were so spoiled from the parkway! And then there was road construction. Is it five o'clock yet??? No, but it's so close to five that if we want to get to Wilbur's Chocolates (and you'd better believe we HAD to get there at this point!) before it closed at five, we would have to come back to the Shoe House later. Off we went with a bead on Wilbur's. Jill seemed to know she was guiding two EXTREMELY desperate and possibly dangerous women and we got to Lititz (stop snickering - we are in Paradise tonight and are going to Intercourse tomorrow!) just about 4:30. Hooray! Chocolate saves the day!
And we loved the quaint little village of Lititz. Finally, we got to do and see something we really wanted to! I bought milk chocolate covered potato chips and milk and dark chocolate Wilbur's Buds, and Kim got chocolate coconut clusters. And we still have some, even though they are YUMMY! Check them out at www.wilburbuds.com. After getting our chocolate fix, we walked around town where they were observing their second Friday "Lovin' Lititz" day. We love Lititz, too.
Enough sightseeing for one day (except for the Shoe House). We went in search of our resting place for the night, the Red Caboose Motel. We arrived around seven and got checked in to.... the HONEYMOON SUITE! Yikes! Alas, the motel is full because it's a THOMAS weekend here in railroad crazy PA. So guess who it's full of. KIDS, lots of young Thomas the Tank Engine crazy kids and their parents who indulge their every whim. At least the honeymoon suite is separate from the other cabooses. Isn't it cute?
And on the way to the motel (which is right next to the Toy Train Museum, which was closed when we got here and won't open until after we leave) we got to go over this covered bridge and see lots of Amish folk on their buggies and funny bikes/scooters. At the motel has a farmyard, complete with roosters, hens, chicks, sheep, lambs, ponies (they bite), pigs, and fainting goats, at least one of whom is very acrobatic. After we got a wireless connection on the front porch and posted yesterday's blog, we went in search of dinner. Alas, we had not only waited too late to go see the Shoe House (it was dark) but we had missed the last seating at the Hershey Farm Restaurant (allegedly open until nine, but evidently not). We did get to take a picture of Amish Abe, and we found our way (a minor miracle) to Jennie's Diner, which is open 24 hours.
Were we in luck there! Kim had Chicken Corn Noodle soup, which was true to its name plus it had broth, and a small salad. Well, at least she thought she ordered a small salad. In reality, it was maybe two small heads of lettuce. I had marinated grilled chicken with a baked potato and stewed tomatoes. I did get a small salad, a softball-sized potato (that's a conservative estimate - it was almost volleyball sized!), some really sweet tomatoes, and THREE chicken breast cutlets. We were stuffed! And so now we're back on the front porch and it's half after midnight and we have another early morning ahead of us. So you know we really love you! Let us know it was all worth the trouble by posting some comments! We are moderating them, just in case you write something personal that you didn't intend for the whole world to see, so if you don't see your comment immediately, keep looking.

We're sure glad it's not Friday the 13th anymore, but we're feeling lucky!
Sleepyhead Jan
Today's expenses (for both of us, not counting tips)
Gas $31.02 for 7.92 gallons
Food: Breakfast 9.73
Lunch $27.83
Dinner $20.57
Chocolate $19.34
Potato Chips $5
Hotel $178.50 (cabooses are extra on Thomas weekends...)


Kim said...

That dinosaur place sounds a lot like the Museum of Life and Science!

Ruthie said...

Hi Jan,

I just got caught up on your blog. I am laughing so hard about the comments of your garmin lady. What a fun time to road trip with your sister! I can't wait to read about the weekend!