We stayed in Pennsylvania for 11 nights. Amid this COVID-19 pandemic, the Hershey amusement park was closed, as were museums and national parks. Restaurants were still doing curbside pickup, and some were starting to offer outside dining. With the regular “tourist” places closed, we took the time to have some down time, to visit some old friends, and to check out the local area.
We stayed at the Hershey RV & Camping Resort, part of the Thousand Trails program of which we are members (so our stay was “free”). It is a beautiful park with an address in Lebanon, PA, just outside of Palmyra. Although the park is surrounded by woods, the area leading to it is mostly Mennonite and Amish farmland. Tall silos dot the landscape for miles.
This resort was lovely, and the RV sites were level—always a bonus! Although the amenities were closed due to the pandemic, it does have a small lake that is stocked with fish for fishing, a large in-ground pool, a playground, basketball courts, a pavilion for events, laundromat, and restroom/shower facilities. We camped in section B, which we enjoyed. We met a few of our neighbors, and Carl even played golf a couple of times with George, a full-time RVer from Rochester, New York.
Our first venture was to the indoor farmer’s market in downtown Lancaster—and it is definitely in the middle of the downtown. We parked a few blocks away and walked to it. Established in 1730, the Lancaster Central Market is considered the oldest, continuously run public farmer’s market in the U.S. Masks were required, and “nonessential” vendors were closed, but most of the food and flower vendors were open. We bought fruits, veggies, cheese, organic eggs, and some soups/salads to eat for lunch.
On a different day, we were in search of a quirky icon for the area—a 25-ft replica of the Statue of Liberty in the middle of the Susquehanna River. It started as a hoax, but is now a locally-famed landmark near Harrisburg (for more info, visit http://www.susquehannalife.com/2018/06/11/174983/the-legend-behind-lady-liberty-on-the-susquehanna-river). It is not easy to see. No turnoffs have been designated so pictures can be taken. We barely saw the front side of her going down a tight, two-lane road on one side of the river. Then we went on the other side of the river, which was a highway, but we exited into a small ‘burb with a few houses along the riverbank. Following a narrow, one-lane road, we found a small turnoff and walked over to the bank and were able to zoom in and take a photo of the backside of her. As we were driving back down the highway, I was able to get a better picture of the front side of her, but did not have my zoom lens on at the time. It was a fun little adventure!
We spent one day driving to Gettysburg and doing a self-guided tour of the national park (since the museum, cyclorama, and visitor center were closed). We started by visiting The Gettysburg Diorama (https://www.gettysburgdiorama.com/), a local place near downtown Gettysburg, that depicts the three-day battle. Someone went to painstaking detail recreating the town and battlefields with miniature houses, trees, and soldiers. It is probably not as spectacular as the cyclorama, but it was interesting to see along with the various historical relics from that time.
We bought a CD and booklet that took us on a route for a self-guided tour of the national park and the various monuments. The tour guide on the CD helped to bring to life the events of the three-day battle that resulted in Robert E. Lee’s ultimate defeat by the Army of the Potomac under General George Meade.
We walked around downtown Gettysburg, passing various historical sites, eating lunch from a food truck, and browsing through an open shop. It was a full day of touristy activities on one of the hottest days we had in Pennsylvania.
Karen’s mother recommended that we eat lunch at the Hershey Pantry and then go to Desserts, Etc. for dessert. Lucky for us, that county had just moved into a phase where outdoor dining was permitted. We had lunch at the Hershey Pantry, enjoying the outdoor dining while being served—the first time since the pandemic started. Just a couple of blocks away was Desserts, Etc. where we treated ourselves to some rich treats.
We were lucky enough to visit some old friends who used to live in Raleigh back in the late 80s and early 90s. We have stayed in touch mostly through annual Christmas cards, and we didn’t have their phone numbers when we got to Pennsylvania. So, we mailed Joe and Lisa a brief note saying we were in town and to give us a call, and they did! Their home was about 30 minutes from the campground, so we were able to spend a nice amount of time with them on a Sunday afternoon. It was wonderful catching up with them!
Before we left Pennsylvania, we road around the countryside seeking out a few different covered bridges. To our surprise, the ones we found were not tucked away and unused. They are, in fact, regularly used and seem to be in relatively “busy” areas of what we city folk call being in the middle of nowhere! They were fun to find.
Other than the highways in Pennsylvania, on which we lost FOUR hubcaps (two off the airstream and two off the truck) because of the rough patch jobs, our stay was relaxing and enjoyable. The weather, for the most part, was perfect. And it was a wonderful way to mark our 2nd and part of our 3rd weeks as full-time RVers.