Friday, October 27, 2017

Fly/Drive East-Midwest #2

Hello! Picking up where I left off from my last post:

Day 4: Busy day today in the Williamsport, PA region. The action began with me heading over to an estate sale not far from our hotel. Alas, it wasn't a big enough sale for the whole house to be open; instead, the man running it had put stuff on tables and in boxes on the ground in front of the house. Not too well organized either. Oh well, since I was there, I might as well poke around. 

While I was doing so, a few other people drove up and began to look around too. All they seemed to care about were the unclothed Barbies for the young girls they had with them. That gave me a chance to snag a few vintage Christmas decorations, for considerably less than what even thrift stores would charge. 

A must-see for us in the Williamsport area is a trip to Purity Candy near Allenwood, MI. Since it was a weekday, I was hoping to see the workers in action; only viewing windows separate the factory operations from the retail store. But during this visit, all I glimpsed was chocolate being tempered; the workers were mostly busy cleaning tools. 

So instead I took pics of these recently-made molded chocolates:

A 7-lb Santa, priced at $45.50. That'd be a nice gift under the tree on Christmas Day!

And for the major holiday preceding Christmas:

For $111.90, a 17.2 lb chocolate turkey. That's bigger than the turkeys I buy for my small family to eat! 

And speaking of eating, I bought pretzels, both chocolate-coated and plain, from the "bargain corner" area of the store (near the cash register). My husband bought chocolates from the bargain corner as well as some from the display cases. Good stuff!

Non-chocolate, but still fun to see:

For six bucks a bag(don't know what the weight is, either four or eight ounces), clear toy candy. It's basically hard candy, molded into cute shapes. (I was given reproduction molds as a Christmas gift years ago, which I used thereafter to make clear toy candies as treats for my nieces and nephews.) 

I think this candy is traditional in parts of Pennsylvania, but don't know how common it is elsewhere. So if you'd like to know more, read this. 

After returning to Williamsport, we lunched at the Wegman's food court, then headed over to Worlds End State Park to hike on a section of the nearly 60-mile-long Loyalsock Trail within the park. What follows are some pics of our hike:

We'd already climbed up a few hundred feet in a short distance to reach this trail junction. If we'd elected to continue on the Worlds End Trail, it would have been more of the same. But instead we continued on Loyalsock Trail, which at this point turned onto an old woods road.

View along Double Run Creek.

A small worship space off of the trail, but you don't have to hike in the woods to get to it. Shortly after I took this photo, we crossed a road to continue on the trail on the other side. 

View of the trail's namesake, Loyalsock Creek. The word "Loyalsock" comes from a Native American word for "middle creek" (this creek is in the middle of three creeks in the area). 

In spite of the overcast sky, we greatly enjoyed our time on the Loyalsock Trail. As residents of Pennsylvania from 1991-1998, we hiked the trail in its entirety while living there - including many excursions while toting our baby daughter along. She was six weeks old for her first "hike". She grew up from front carrier to back carrier to walking on her own two feet during that time span. Thus, I reminisced pleasantly on our previous hikes this day. 

Later on, I asked my husband if he, too, had reflected on our earlier visits to the trail. He said, yes, he had, and informed me that the stretch we revisited today had been our very first hike on Loyalsock Trail. (he'd kept records of our hikes.) We'd chosen that stretch, which is nowhere near the beginning of the trail, because of the easy access from within Worlds End State Park. 

Upon completion of our 3 1/2 mile hike, we drove back to Williamsport and walked over to this place for dinner:

Boom City Brew Pub, in downtown Williamsport. The restaurant's name and logo references Williamsport's lumbering heyday. Vintage saws and other old woodsman tools were hung from the walls, along with a  framed photos that showed scenes from the lumbering history. I thought I'd taken some photos of the interior decor but later discovered I had neglected to do so. Maybe I'd been too busy enjoying a good turkey burger sandwich! 

The fun wasn't over for me yet, for I'd learned that a church rummage sale was beginning that evening. This one was bit further away than the location of the morning estate sale I'd attended, but still close by. I enjoy driving around old towns like Williamsport anyway.

I picked out some books, a vintage board game, and some craft supplies, and took my selections to the checkout table. There, I learned that the rummage sale was actually being run by the Needlework Guild of America, or NGA; the church was just letting NGA use their space. I'd never heard of NGA, so the woman taking my money clued me in. It's an organization over 100 years old, so the name dates from the original mission of making clothes to distribute to the needy. Today, the organization has fundraisers, like the rummage sale, to raise funds to buy new clothes. Locally, these new garments are given to area schools for students in need.

I was glad to support such a worthy effort with my rummage sale buys, but was amused that the organization has never changed its name over the years. "Needlework Guild of America" sounds like a group dedicated to embroidery and needlepoint! 

Day 5: traveled from Williamsport to Pittsburgh. Nice fall scenery along the way. Pennsylvania is a very pretty state and to this day I still miss the hills there. We lunched along the way at a rest area, eating subs from Wegmans.

It was a Saturday, so probably not the best of days to visit Pittsburgh's Strip District, but we did so anyway. This commercial district is loaded with a variety of cool shops, popular restaurants, ethnic grocery stores and sidewalk vendors. With all this to see in just a few short blocks, it was also loaded with people too. It was hard to walk along the throngs on the sidewalks, so to escape the crowds we ducked into a few stores here and there. Didn't buy anything, but still enjoyed window shopping - especially at Pennsylvania Macaroni Company. This store didn't look all that big from the outside, but inside, we saw that it was a series of connected rooms. It seemed to go on and on! One room had a deli with cheese counter, prepared salads, meats, etc. Another room featured tools for making pizzas and pastas at home. Other store displays had bulk containers of nuts and other ingredients, cans of Italian tomatoes and bottles of Italian olive oils, and other cooking ingredients. 

So basically it was nirvana for anyone of Italian descent, or who enjoys Italian food. I claim both, courtesy of my late Sicilian father. As I toured the store, I could easily picture him putting item after item in his shopping cart - with my mother right behind him, telling him he didn't need all those foods, so he'd better put them back. (in Italian imported food stores, she'd usually relent and let him keep a few things in the cart). 

Although no purchases were made at Pennsylvania Macaroni Company, we continued with the Italian food theme with dinner at Armstrong's in the Pittsburgh suburbs. Come with your appetite, or be prepared to leave with doggie bags. My husband and I did the latter: me, with the remnants of my Meatball Casserole entree, and he carted out leftover Pasta with Mushroom Sauce.

Day 6: We overslept this morning, so we got a late start leaving our hotel in the suburbs (Moon Township). Had to fight traffic and gusty winds from the Ohio border to Cincinnati. It was already close to dinnertime by the time we arrived at our hotel in Blue Ash (lunch had been at a Five Guys in Wheeling, WV). I finished up my meatball casserole, but my husband went to the nearby Sichuan Chili and got one of their tofu-based dishes. 

Day 7: Began our travels by going to Jungle Jim's, a mega-sized grocery store that we consider a must-see in the Cincinnati area. My husband and I each grabbed a shopping cart. He filled his with selections from the big craft beer section, while I wound my way around the vast ethnic grocery section to look for things that I either can't find at my local grocery stores or would purchase for more money at my stores. I usually zero in on the Asian food choices, but really, there's something for everyone at Jungle Jim's - no matter what cuisine you like to cook!

After wheeling our way around Jungle Jim's, we headed for lunch at Tacqueria Mercado. Have only gotten tacos from their menu, but I can recommend them - and the trio of salsas they bring out with your order. I can never decide which one I like the best, so I use all three!

Our final destination for the night was our daughter's apartment in West Lafayette (she's a first-year PhD student in chemistry at Purdue). To my surprise, my husband wanted to stop at Indianapolis' Fashion Mall along the way. During our last vacation, he'd gone to  a See's candy store in suburban Chicago, and had been given a coupon there to use at a See's store another time. We don't live close to See's stores, but there's one at the Fashion Mall, so of course my husband wanted to stop to use that coupon. Yeah, we'd already gotten chocolates at Purity Candy, but See's is even better quality. 

Our daughter had to work that evening, proctoring a freshman chemistry test, so we picked up takeout from Thai Essence for our dinners. Good food. 

The next day was uneventful, just a travel day back home. We had had a great time - a mixture of cities, small towns and countryside. Mostly great weather too; in fact, some of the trip was quite balmy in temperature. Rain was a minor factor - for a total of about an hour the entire time. Meanwhile, back home storm after storm had passed through. I returned to a rain gauge reading of 4.5". So we'd definitely picked a great time to go out of town!

But really, with all the sites we visited and the fun we had, any time would have been great to take this vacation. Well, maybe not winter and the possibility of snow or ice to drive on. Still, we've never been up to Williamsport in December - would like to go to Purity Candy then and see them craft handmade candy canes (they start making them after Thanksgiving, I think). Maybe sometime...



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