Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Vacation - Pennsylvania (and a little New York)

Hello! Last week's blogging absence was due to being on vacation. As this post's title suggests, we headed east. We lived in suburban Philadelphia for seven years and grew to like Pennsylvania quite well. It's a very pretty state and is very rich in history too.

Thus what follows is a general commentary on our trip and several photos as well. I'll begin with our dinner at:

Legal Seafoods is a Boston-based chain, with locations along the Eastern seaboard (Atlanta as well). This particular location is at the King of Prussia Mall, which is a shopper's paradise - one of the largest shopping malls in the country! Legal Seafoods is a little pricey, but the food is very good. Even something as mundane as fish and chips, which is what I ordered, seemed quite luxurious and rich.

To walk off those calories, we immediately headed over to the nearby historic site:

Like many Americans, before moving to the Philadelphia area we just thought of Valley Forge as the place where George Washington and his troops suffered through a harsh winter. One does get a sense of what it was like to live at Valley Forge from a scene like this:
This is a reproduction of a soldier's cabin. However, we quickly learned to look upon Valley Forge as many locals did - as a large recreational area. There are a number of multi-use paths at the park, including one long loop of over six miles. It's a very pretty and interesting walk too, what with rolling terrain and occasional historic sites along the way.

In the photo above you can see the multi-use path winding along. We saw many runners, walkers and cyclists out on the paths, and in years past we had also seen people flying kites or remote-control planes, artists setting up easels to paint in the fields, and so on. Large herds of deer can often be seen as well, since no hunting is allowed on park land. 

Of course, for those who want their history, park rangers are on hand during the day. We used to go on some of the interpretative walking tours the rangers would offer on the weekends. Always enjoy our visits there!

Took the train into Philadelphia the next day. Since we'd taken the tours of the historic sites several times while living in the area, we just took pictures of some of the exteriors, such as:

Independence Hall - while living in the area, I never got over the thrill of living so close to such a famous building. There is scaffolding now on it due to construction work, but the tours went on.

You can see Independence Hall behind this monument, and to the right is the line of people waiting to get into the building where the Liberty Bell is housed.

Although I didn't take any photos of it, in my opinion no visit to Philadelphia is complete without a visit to Reading Terminal Market! It's a huge indoor market, the kind with individual vendors. It was always one of my favorite places to go, for I used to say that I never saw an unhappy person there. I'd see folks from all walks of life: business people in expensive attire, construction workers, hospital staffers, suburbanites like us in town for the day, etc. - all enjoying the buying and/or eating of great food! For lunch, our daughter and I purchased cheesesteaks while my husband got Mexican. But really, just about any cuisine one can think of can be had at Reading Terminal Market. 

Ben Franklin is closely identified with Philadelphia, and rightly so. I always got a kick out of this plaque, which is on 10th Street, south of Market Street:

Supposedly it's the site where Franklin did his famous kite-flying experiment. It's now a church building. I didn't photograph it, but we also went over to the cemetery where Franklin is buried and tossed pennies on his grave - that is supposed to bring good luck to those who do so. 

Add a couple of college campus tours in the suburbs(Haverford and Swarthmore Colleges)along with our sightseeing and it was a very busy time in the Philadelphia region. Our next destination was the northern tier area of Pennsylvania, although we got there by way of Lancaster County. Again, no photos to show you (my camera was acting up a little), so I'll mention that I used to love going to Lancaster County, which was an hour west of where we used to live, and one of my favorite destinations there was Shady Maple. It's a huge grocery store and has expanded at least once  since our last visit. There are always unique items to buy in the bulk food aisles there and this visit was no exception - I found the wafers used to make ice cream sandwiches - same size, shape and flavor. I've never seen these at the usual grocery stores! 

I also showed our daughter the potato chip/pretzel aisle, for it is there that one sees numerous small brands - probably many of which aren't sold away from Lancaster County. One potato chip company sells its product in clear bags, so I could see that their potato chips looked quite handmade. 

Handmade food products were also very much evident at our next destination, Wiliamsport,PA. While living in PA we used Williamsport as a home base while hiking on the many trails in that area. Hiking helps to burn off calories from purchases made at the above business,Purity Chocolates near Allenwood, PA. Besides selling a wide variety of candies, the fun thing about Purity is that the manufacturing area is just beyond the retail shop, with windows all around for viewing. Above some employees are working on a batch of peanut brittle. A few minutes after I took this picture, one of the employees brought us out some sample pieces, still warm. 

In the above photo, the woman is making "sandwiches" of peanut butter methodically spread between two soda crackers. These would be dipped in chocolate after she had filled her tray. There were no secrets - I could see what brands of peanut butter, soda crackers and chocolate she was using. 

Another nearby tray had teeny-tiny marshmallows on it, ready to be covered in chocolate, and behind the woman were several solid chocolate animal shapes that had recently been unmolded. We bought a 8 oz. solid chocolate cat for the neighbor girl who watched our cat while we were gone. 

As I'd said in the beginning of this post, Pennsylvania is a very pretty state, and here's an example of what I mean:

This photo was taken at the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania, which is located near the charming town of Wellsboro. Here's another view from our overlook:

That's Pine Creek below our vantage point. The Grand Canyon also has hiking trails - if we'd had the time and inclination, we could have hiked down to Pine Creek. We've not done that yet, but hope to some time. We did do a short loop hike, which was fine except for the occasional signs posted alerting hikers to rattlesnakes that had been seen along the trail. We knew these are called timber rattlesnakes - we've seen them on other trails in the region. I'm happy to report that we didn't see any during this visit!

The "a little New York" of my blog title refers to Ithaca, NY, which we visited the next day. After parking near downtown Ithaca we went to the famous Moosewood Restaurant for lunch. This is a vegetarian place and the basis of many cookbooks bearing the Moosewood name. There are "browsing copies" available in the lobby so I perused a dessert tome while waiting for my lunch. I can't say that I thought my entree was priced fairly - I thought it was priced too high for what I got. (I happen to be quite picky about that sort of thing).

We walked from Moosewood to Cornell University for a campus tour - it was pretty much 25 minutes of all uphill walking! The campus is very pretty and the tour guide was very informative. Walked back to downtown Ithaca - not much time to look around, but it's a very cool downtown. The tour guide had told us that Ithaca was recently rated the #1 college town in the US and I can believe it. I made sure to visit Sew Green, which is a thrift store of sorts - only all the donations are things like fabric, buttons, sewing patterns and craft books. It's a small store but it was fun to look around at the colorful displays of fabrics. I bought a bagful of fabric scraps, three pieces of fabrics, and one pattern (original price of $12.00 was still on it, but I paid one dollar).

We packed up and left Williamsport the next day; sad to leave the area as we always are. We like the hills:

It's often foggy in the mornings there, but the hills are still evident in the above photo. This view was taken from our hotel's front entrance. I know that these hills are nowhere near the height of the mountains out west (which I have also seen), but to me, they're still high enough to be scenic (I didn't grow up in hilly terrain). 

Before heading back home, we stopped for our last campus visit of the trip, Bucknell University in Lewisburg, PA. It's a pretty campus. The tour guide encouraged everyone to come back in the fall; she said it's beautiful then and I'm sure she was right.

Lewisburg itself is a small town but is big on charm. If I'd had the time, I would have gone to the antique mall housed in an old mill - its sign said that 400+ dealers are there. Also saw several other antique stores in or near the town. 

So, there you have it - a short synopsis of our vacation! Hope you enjoyed following along!


  1. I almost got sick of colleges.

  2. Judy - thanks for reading along; I'm glad you enjoyed my post!

    Maria - I got a little sick of them too, but we learned a lot, didn't we?