PA Backroads Adventure
Back Roads of Pennsylvania Adventure
We decided to take some of the back roads, the “off the trails” ways, of getting around Pennsylvania to make some discoveries. Traveling east on PA Rt. 30, also known as the Lincoln Highway, our first discovery was a double one! http://lincolnhighway.jameslin.name/by_state/
A covered bridge – Trostletown Bridge – built in 1873 and restored, traversed a small creek. Covered bridges were common in the 1800s and early 1900. They are also called “kissing bridges” in honor of young courting couples who took advantage of the cover for a quick kiss or two. Across from it was an American Legion Post with a tank and helicopter on display.
Further on, we veered off Rt. 30 to see the Flight 93 Memorial. Flight 93 is the plane that crashed in a field near Shanksville, PA on Sept. 11, 2001. The plane had been hijacked by terrorists and was probably on its way to destroy the White House, but the passengers heroically stopped that from happening. We were sobered by the place and the tributes that we saw. Shirts, hats, badges, crosses, toys, and so many items had been left by visitors. A volunteer explained the tragic events. Allow at least 15 minutes. There is no admission.
Another covered bridge, the Glessner, built in 1881, crosses Stony Creek and is open for public driving. On the way, we saw several small log cabins in various locations, nestled under the trees.
There are beautiful views in the Laurel Highlands! Long ago, the Ship Hotel perched on a mountainside in Bedford County, offering views of three states and seven counties! It looked like a steamer ship! It was a famous landmark, and was visited by Calvin Coolidge, Joan Crawford, and Thomas Edison, to name a few. Later, travelers like MaryJo stopped for ice cream or a sandwich and, of course, the spectacular views. In 2001 the building burned down, and only a small portion of the foundation remains, and the views. When we stopped there, another car pulled up and three young men told us they were here for a piece of the ship, which is something many locals are doing. A stop here is a must do!
Our next hidden gem was the 1806 log church, surrounded by the final resting places of parishioners dating back to 1806. The building itself is striking! Onward to another covered bridge, Colvin Bridge, dating to 1880. This is also open to the public. A huge Pied Piper overlooks Rt. 30. He guarded Storyland, a children’s theme park, until it closed in the 1980s. Arriving in the town of Bedford, we spotted the Jean Bonnet Tavern and the Coffee Pot. The tavern has been in operation since 1762 and was once owned by friends of George Washington and Ben Franklin. Stone walls, rough hewed beams and a ghost make this a unique attraction. The Coffee Pot was built in 1931 as part of a coffee shop, and is two stories tall. Today it sits alone and is being restored. The town of Bedford has some beautiful old homes and is built around the original squares in the deed dating from the mid 1700s. Ft. Bedford and Old Bedford Village are here. Ft. Bedford is the recreated French and Indian War fort. Old Bedford Village is a recreation of pioneer life in the period between 1750 -1850. A trip to Old Bedford Village took us back to circa 1800, where log buildings and wagon transportation were usual. Children attended one room schools like the Knisely School. Dr. Nycum’s office made us glad we live in the 21st century! The 35 buildings and costumed interpreters make this an entertaining and educational trip. Allow 90 minutes. Admissions are $10 for adults, $5 for students and free for children under 5.
For dinner, we returned to the Jean Bonnet Tavern. We each had a glass of the Jean Bonnet Tavern Forbes Trail Ale. (Forbes Trail is another name for Rt. 30.) MaryJo chose the Chicken Chesapeake – chicken with ham and crab, potato, and asparagus. Greg’s meal was the Veal Neptune – veal with shrimp, crab, and pasta in a white wine sauce. For desert, we shared their famous oatmeal pie. Total before tip was $67. It was all delectable! The dining room is the basement, with chestnut beams, stones, hickory chairs, and an oversized fireplace providing marvelous ambiance. We’ll be back! www.jeanbonnettavern.com
Our home here is the Best Western Bedford Inn on Business Rt. 220. We have a spacious room with a coffee maker, fridge and Wi Fi. A hot breakfast buffet, pool (closed for the season), hot tub, sauna, and exercise room make this a good choice! Our room is a bargain at $89 per night.
On our second day, we took advantage of the hot breakfast buffet. Waffles, potatoes, scrambled eggs, oatmeal, bacon, biscuits, fresh fruits, and so on provided a delicious and filling start. Strolling around town and the squares, we enjoyed looking at the historical homes, with the original owner’s name and year built by the front door. Some of the homes are quite beautiful. The squares are set up as they were in the original deed, from the 1700’s. We stopped at the National Museum of the American Coverlet, for a very informative and lively tour. Our guide was none other than the Curator of the museum, Laszlo Zongor. Coverlets were hand woven bed coverings, made by the woman of the house until 1800. After that, weavers from Europe, displaced by the Industrial Revolution, made the coverlets, and they became very expensive. The pattern tells the background of the weaver. German coverlets had roses, vines, and other domestic themes. British ones were patriotic, with shields and eagles. By the 1860s, people bought readymade ones, and the art was lost. We saw many types of looms, including one that is the only 200 year old intact loom of its kind. The museum is housed in the old Commons School on Juliana St. Admission to the museum is $6 per person. Allow an hour.
Shopping in town was fun –there are many shops – and when we were hungry, we went to the K & M Grill and Tavern. Not pretentious, but serving good, reasonably priced food, it’s a hidden treasure. MaryJo had a huge roast beef sandwich with a pony of locally made Rolling Rock beer; Greg had a fish sandwich with a beer; and the total before tip $12! This was our best bargain yet!
There are two wineries in town, the Hellix and Briar Valley. We went to both to taste, and came away with some fine wines to take home and have later to remember our trip. http://briarvalleywinery.com http://bedfordcounty.net/helixvillewinery/
Dinnertime, and we unanimously decided to return to Jean Bonnet, for a special birthday dinner. We opted to sit on the porch because the weather was lovely. Greg ordered prime rib, which was very tender and tasty; while MaryJo chose the orange roughy stuffed with shrimp and crab and was absolutely delicious. We each had a glass of wine. For desert, we shared a creamy peanut butter pie. Our total was $75 before tip. Other menu items are similarly priced and include Shrimp and Crab Scampi, Veal Gremolata, and Delmonico Steak. Salads and sandwiches are on the menu, too, as are items such as Chicken Parmigianino, Delmonico Steak, and Roast Chambord Duck. http://www.jeanbonnettavern.com/
Another good breakfast at the buffet, and it was time to go. A double back to Shawnee State Park gave us some picturesque hiking. Camping, boating, and bicycling are available. We went to Gravity Hill, where gravity is defied, as a car in neutral will drift up the hill. There are two such spots on Gravity Hill, and we enjoyed both enormously, taking turns driving. Heading east again on the Lincoln Highway, we found another covered bridge. By the way, the Lincoln Highway is the first transcontinental road in the USA, beginning in 1913. Lincoln Caverns offered us a chance to walk, see some breathtaking formations, and add to our repertoire of cave knowledge. We had a private tour, since no one else was there! Sarah, our guide, was an expert! There are two caves, Lincoln and Whispering Rocks. Lincoln was uncovered in 1930, and Whispering Rocks later, while investigating sinkholes. We had fun while Sarah explained the formations and history of the caverns. We spotted several bats, and Sarah told us that there are between 300 and 400 bats living in the cave this time of year. She told us that many are suffering from a fatal disease, white nose disease; they are researching this. There is an old safe in the cave that was used to keep money overnight in the early days! Who would have ventured into the cave at night! The tour was about an hour, and admission was $11.95 each. Afterwards, we bought two bags of “paydirt” for $13 and panned for gems. What fun! We did find some very pretty crystals, onyxes, amethysts, and so on. http://lincolncaverns.com/
· Another long drive through farms, forests, and historic small towns. One of the towns is Wellsboro, founded in 1806, and a charming place. We spent the night in Hummelstown, just east of Harrisburg, at a Comfort Suite, for $89 plus taxes. A pretty room, with a sitting room, Wi Fi, coffee maker, fridge, microwave, breakfast, indoor pool, and exercise room make this a good choice for families. The sitting room has a pull out couch.
Molly Brannigan’s is a pub that was rebuilt brick by brick from a pub in Ireland, and utilizes the Irish pub’s tap system, resulting in a slightly different beer taste. We know, because we tasted it. The pub is charming, cheerful and laid back. http://www.mollybrannigans.com/
Finally, dinner was at the Revere Tavern, an historic Inn dating to the 1740s in Paradise, about 20 minutes from the hotel. Stephen Foster’s sister, Eliza, lived there. Later, it was bought by her brother in law, President James Buchanan. We dined in the Stephen Foster Room, an attractive room with a huge stone fireplace, and beamed ceiling. We ordered the “Land and Sea for Two,” which is an appetizer, 10 oz. steak, choice of side, choice of salad, and choice of vegetable. We had the stuffed mushrooms as an appetizer. Greg chose the crab cake as his side, and MaryJo, the stuffed shrimp. Our vegetable was slaw. It was all delicious, and so filling, we have enough for a meal tomorrow. A ½ carafe of wine complemented the mal nicely. It is fascinating being in this historic site, wondering if Stephen Foster or President Buchanan had sat here or what important events might have happened. Other dinners include lobster tail, Chicken Chesapeake, Veal Capri, and an assortment of appetizers and desserts. Price ranges between $11.95 and $29.95 per dinner, with specials for two. Total before tip was $99. http://www.reveretavern.com/
Our last stop, late in the afternoon, was Gettysburg Military Park in Gettysburg, PA. July 1 – 3, 1863, saw the Battle of Gettysburg, a decisive Northern victory in the Civil War. Southern troops were looking for shoes, and a shoe factory in Gettysburg was their target. Northern troops cut them off, and the resulting win turned the tide of the war. An Auto tour is available from the Park Service for about $22. This allowed us to stop at each designated site and hear about the history of the battle and the men who were involved. The tour lasts about 3 hours. Abraham Lincoln dedicated this park in November, 1863 with his famous Gettysburg Address. Monuments through the former battlefield honor those soldiers from both sides. A large Visitor Center provides information, other tours and a gift shop. The town itself has museums and historical sites, lodgings and restaurants, shopping and other activities. Allow at least one day, and two if possible, to appreciate all Gettysburg has to offer.
An hour from there, in Hagerstown, Maryland, we stopped for the night, and completed our back roads of Pennsylvania tour.
Backroads of Western PA 1
Lincoln Caverns and Whisper Rocks
Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania