We arrived at a lovely KOA campsite near Connellsville, Pennsylvania that has the Youghiogheny River on one side of us and the Great Allegheny Passage (The GAP) Bike Trail on the other.
The GAP is a beautiful, hard-packed trail that’s about 150 miles long and runs from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Cumberland, Maryland and actually Connects with the ride we did the other day, on the C&O Tow Path, which takes you right in to Washington, DC. We only did 20 miles of it today! 😉 Crossing several trestles and passing a few waterfalls was a nice little ride along the Youghiogheny River.
Frank Lloyd Wright is one of our favourite architects, so we were thrilled to realize that one of his most famous masterpieces was quite close to us. He’s one of those that ‘thinks outside the box’, and in the 1930’s, this was quite an achievement. The house could never be built today as it is definitely not ‘to code’, but an amazing feat of ingenuity and design. It was built for Edgar and Lilly Kaufman, who owned Kaufman Department Stores in Pittsburgh, and at the time cost over $150,000 to complete. They asked Frank for a small cabin in the woods, and this is what he came up with!
Falling Water is a cantilevered structure that is perched over a stream and waterfall. It is organic architecture at its finest. We loved the stairs that exit the living room and go down into the stream. The Kaufman’s used this to dip their toes in the cool water and to fish. Frank designed the interior furniture also, purposely low to the ground to not obstruct the views.
We did a day trip to Pittsburgh and the first stop was the Heinz History Center in The Strip District, It’s part of the Smithsonians, but you need to pay an entry fee for this one. There were exhibits dedicated to the Vietnam War, Sports, George Westinghouse and of course, Mr. Rogers Neighbourhood, since Fred Rogers was from the Pittsburgh area.
Henry J, Heinz has an incredible history and was already an entrepreneur by the age of 9, when he had mastered his mother’s pickle recipe and started selling his own grated horseradish to the local stores in Pittsburgh! After graduating from college in 1869, he started his company with his friend and neighbour, L. Clarence Noble, The rest is history. Today, Heinz is one of the largest food processing companies and six out of ten ketchup bottles consumed in the United States are produced by them. One of his goals was to make life easier for housewives! Now that’s a smart man. 😉
Thunder, lightening, torrential rain and a tornado watch 😬 could not keep us from our next mission – popular Pittsburgh food! The Strip District is known as a foodie haven and it did not disappoint.
Our first stop was Primanti Bros. and the quintessential Pittsburgh sammich. It started as a sandwich place for hungry truckers in 1933, and it once earned the title of Best Sandwich in America and made the list of “1,000 Places to See Before You Die, in the USA.”
Here’s what makes these sammich’s famous. John DiPriter who was the cousin of Joe, the owner, was quoted as saying: “One winter, a fella drove in with a load of potatoes. He brought a few of ’em over to the restaurant to see if they were frozen. I fried the potatoes on our grill and they looked pretty good. A few of our customers asked for them, so I put the potatoes on their sandwiches.” A story we were told was that later, another trucker came in and was in quite a hurry, so instead of getting his coleslaw on the side, he had them throw it on the sandwich with the fries, and it was a huge success! History made! We had the pastrami and it was excellent. 👍
Our second stop was Peace, Love and Little Donuts. We figured because they’re so small we could try a few, plus we did share our sammich at lunch 🤪 so the sugar rush was on! Maple Bacon, S’more, Heath Wind and Fire, Samoa and Snick Jagger – Yum!!!
Our final stop was the Pittsburgh Popcorn Company where we couldn’t decide on just one flavor, so we had to get two, of course! Chocolate Caramel and Peanut butter Cup were the winners. It was an hour and a half drive from Pittsburgh back to Monty, and we didn’t want to starve! 😋 Guess we have to cycle a few extra miles soon!
Still in Pennsylvania, we moved for a few nights to Hershey, yes, as in the chocolate! This will be our home base as we do day trips.
We went to the Harley-Davidson Operations Center, in York, where all the US Harley’s are produced, and did the factory tour. They were in low production mode as the 2019’s are almost done, but we still were able to see quite a lot of a motorcycle being built from start to finish. They normally produce 600 motorcycles per day.
We returned to Hershey and spent the rest of the day at Hershey’s Chocolate World 😁 Such an amazing place! Milton Hershey was ahead of his time, and failed 3 times at making candy before he finally got his recipe and business plan right. He felt the secret to producing the best caramel was in using fresh milk, and the best milk was from the cows in Derry Township, Pennsylvania, so he built his caramel factory in Lancaster. This was such as success that he felt that the secret to better chocolate was in the milk, so he sold his caramel company and started a chocolate company. He moved the business away from Lancaster and actually built a town around the factory for his employees – Hershey! This was in 1903.
An interesting little tidbit of information – Milton’s good friend and former employee, Henry Reese, left the Hershey company to start his own little candy business, and thus became the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup! Milton didn’t mind the competition, mainly due to the fact that Henry bought the chocolate he needed from Milton! This part of Pennsylvania is obviously very good for candy making, since the next town over, Elizabethtown, is the main factory for the Mars Company, as in Mars Bars, Snickers, Dove, etc.!
Ok, back to Hershey’s Chocolate World where everything is about chocolate, of course 🤪 There are a several activities/exhibits/tours you can do – some are free, some are not. The best part, no matter what you do, there is always chocolate handed out at the beginning, middle or end of the activity! Now that’s our kind of tour!
One of the activities we purchased was to create our own chocolate bar. We chose what we wanted in it and designed our wrapper. It was fun to watch our own bar travel along the conveyor belt all the way to the packaging stage!
We also did the Trolley Tour that drove us around the town of Hershey, past the massive Amusement Park, stadium, hockey arena (Milton loved hockey), the factories, hotel and the schools Milton started initially for orphans that has now evolved into several top schools for underprivileged children, tuition-free. Did you know that every chocolate bar you purchase, ‘is an opportunity to share happiness and helps educate children in need through the Milton Hershey School’. The tram that runs through the amusement park was purchased from Montreal after the 1967 Expo. Suffice to say, we ate a lot of chocolate!
June 1st – our 34th Wedding Anniversary 🎉💕🎉 We started the day in Historic Downtown Lancaster to wander around the Saturday Market. The next stop was a few miles away in the town of Bird-in-Hand at the Amish Experience, an immersion into the daily life of an Amish family. Because you can’t actually walk into an Amish family’s house, they have an exact replica of a house and schoolroom, and a representative from the Amish community checks it every so often to update it as the times change.
We learned a lot about the Amish and were quite surprised to see that they have more creature comforts than we thought they’d have. Apparently, as long as they live off the grid and unattached to worldly influence, such as electricity, cable, telephone, etc,, they are abiding by their beliefs. However, they are able to use battery power, propane and solar! So their kitchen has a propane refrigerator, stove, lamps, heaters, and even a DeWalt battery operated camping light as their dining room ceiling fixture! They also shop at Costco, Target and Walmart for groceries, some clothes, and their basic needs, like shampoo, soap and toothpaste.
The children all go to a one-room school house that is built within a mile of their house, so there is never a ‘snow day’ or any excuse for cancellation since they can walk a mile no matter the weather. The school teacher is a young girl, age18-25, with no teaching credentials other than the fact she finished grade 8. The age of children are Kindergarten to Grade 8, and that’s it. Higher education is not encouraged as it is considered boastful and making yourself look better than others. After grade 8, enough basic knowledge is learned and the child is ready for life in the Amish community. Once the teacher marries, she is to take up her duties at home and prepare for a family.
It was amazing to see the farmers working on the fields with their horses or donkeys, with no motorized farm machinery. The horse and buggies were everywhere and so cool to see! All the stores and large restaurants in town, such as Costco and Lowe’s, have horse and buggy parking!
We did a driving tour in search of covered bridges and were so happy to tour through the beautiful countryside! It was so peaceful and serene. Most of the time we were alone on the country roads with the odd horse and buggy trotting past us.
We ended our anniversary day in Intercourse 😉
Yes, the town of Intercourse! Named this because of two major roads that intersected there! It was actually called Cross Keys before that, but they changed the name to Intercourse in 1814. It is an adorable town and we had tons of laughs there! Henry had ice cream in the middle of . . . well, you know where we’re going with this 😂. We spent time wandering around the market and ended with dinner at Shady Maple Smorgasbord, which is not actually located in Intercourse. The buffet food line was over 200 feet long, one of the largest we’ve ever seen! We had a fabulous, memorable anniversary and a very special day. 💕
Pennsylvania is a beautiful state with plenty of rolling hills, farmland, friendly people and great food! Despite the lightening, rolling thunder and heavy rain each evening, our daytime weather has been warm and pleasant. As well, the tornados that were predicted for our area, never touched down near us, which is a good thing. 👍 The adventure continues!