Purchases of Our Book "Great Pennsylvania Amusement Parks Road Trip" and 2021 Pennsylvania Calendar

2021 Pennsylvania Calendar and PA Amusement Parks Book Options

8.14.2020

2021 Pennsylvania Calendar

It is that time of year again and we have now released our 2020 Interesting Pennsylvania Calendar!

Our 2021 Pennsylvania Wall Calendar features scenes from across the state, including views of Center City Philadelphia, Downtown Pittsburgh, the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, Starrucca Viaduct in northeastern PA, Sullivan Falls in the Endless Mountains Region, the Grand Carousel at Knoebels Amusement Park, the Kennerdell Overlook above the Allegheny River in Venango County, the Big Mountain Overlook in Franklin County, a holiday scene from Bethlehem, Trillium in Gallitzin State Forest, and the Boulder Field in the Poconos at Hickory Run State Park. The calendars open up to be 17 inches tall by 11 inches wide (8.5 by 11 pages)

It makes for a great gift for someone or for yourself. It is available for purchase through the PayPal dropdown menus at the top of the page and the bottom of this article.

Also available is our book on Pennsylvania's historic amusement parks, Great Pennsylvania Amusement Parks Road Trip. It features Knoebels, Kennywood Park, Hersheypark, Dorney Park, Waldameer, DelGrosso's, Lakemont, Dutch Wonderland, Idlewild, and Conneaut Lake Park.

Thanks for your ongoing support!

2021 Pennsylvania Calendar and PA Amusement Parks Book Options

8.09.2020

The PA Grand Canyon: A Natural Wonder Revisited

One of our favorite places to go is the PA Grand Canyon. Pine Creek Gorge has attracted generations of people to its rugged beauty. Around the 19th and early 20th centuries, the steep walls of the gorge were stripped of their trees for lumber and hauled away on the old New York Central Railroad that went through the canyon. Conservation efforts restored the forests of Pine Creek Gorge and opened it up to sightseers and outdoor recreation seekers with the addition of day use facilities and several state parks. In the tough times of the Great Depression, young men were put to work in the CCC to restore the industrially ravaged lands and to lay the groundwork to create the beautiful park facilities we enjoy today. If you go expecting to see the magnitude of the Grand Canyon, you may be disappointed, but this place is still very scenic and worth the effort to go out of your way to visit. For more background information on the PA Grand Canyon, views from other visits, and more detailed location information, check out this article, and this article
We hit the road in the afternoon from Pittsburgh and ended up getting to Leonard Harrison State Park, on the East Rim of the PA Grand Canyon, at just before sunset. We were not sure what the weather would look like, since the weather had been strange for the entire ride, ranging from sunny skies to downpours, and sprinkles, and almost instantaneously switching as the ride progressed. We reached Leonard Harrison State Park and there was a light mist coming down, but you could see a little patch of clouds where the sunlight was coming through, just as it was in the midst of setting. Leonard Harrison State Park has some of the nicest facilities in the entire PA state park system, just in terms of beauty. The visitor's center is pretty and serves as a portal to the views of the PA Grand Canyon that you can get from the state park. The stone and cement walkways along the rim of the canyon are so picturesque and a pleasure to walk upon. 
We were up above some of the clouds that were lingering down in the canyon. This is the second time that we have gone in which we were looking down at the clouds. It is such a pretty spot.

Here are Brit and CeCe!
Here are Brit and CeCe!
The pines at the top level near the overlooks look so awesome and stark in the foreground when the skies are like this.
Additionally, summer wildflowers were blooming all throughout, but especially on the edge of the rim of the canyon.
Getting up here was also quite refreshing. Pittsburgh was in the midst of a heatwave of 90 degree weather, while the PA Grand Canyon area was in the 60s and 70s when we arrived. 
Here you can see why I believe the facilities at Leonard Harrison State Park are the nicest in the PA State Parks system. I would not mind seeing some other state parks have infrastructure built like this. 
Here you see the sun starting to come through the clouds.
There was such a dreamy sense to being up there, looking down at the clouds, and seeing sunset still sneaking through the cloud cover. 
Blue hour was really spectacular with everything going on.
So we ended up spending the night at the Grand Canyon Motel, Resort, and Campground, which is located only a mile directly down the road from Leonard Harrison State Park. You can't drive up to the state park without passing by it. We ended up staying in one of their basic rooms, which was affordable and dog friendly with a modest pet fee. The owner was very friendly as well. If you are looking to stay somewhere fancy, this place is not it, but if you want a cozy, clean, quiet, pet friendly, and affordable spot to stay, you definitely want to check it out. It is just a mile down the road from the East Rim of the canyon and Leonard Harrison State Park, and just a 10 minute drive from the northern terminus of the Pine Creek Rail Trail bike trail, and just under 15 minutes from the West Rim of the Canyon, Colton Point State Park, and other great points of interest.  
So we needed to hit the road in the morning, but not without going back to check out the views again and to get a little hike in. 
The premier trail in the state parks section of the PA Grand Canyon, the Turkey Trail, which goes from rim to rim, across from Leonard Harrison State Park and Colton Point State Park, is closed for the season due to repair work, and likely will not open in 2020. The Overlook Trail is just over half a mile and loops around to the beautiful Otter Point, a southward looking vista point. For much more hiking opportunities, the West Rim is the place to go. With access to multiple scenic overlooks, the West Rim Trail, which travels the entire 27.8 mile length of the Canyon is the place to go. For a less rigorous hike or bike ride, follow the rail trail at the bottom of the canyon, which has minimal elevation change through the whole length of the canyon. There is also road access along the length of the canyon on the West Rim, though you may need to turn back at points if your vehicle does not have high clearance.
CeCe was thrilled to see all of the white-tailed deer and squirrels. 
Otter Point is very pretty and easy to access, requiring a short hike from the Leonard Harrison State Park viewing platform. 
As always, we highly recommend checking out the PA Grand Canyon. For more background information on the PA Grand Canyon, views from other visits, more info about West Rim explorations, and more detailed location information, check out this article, and this article

8.02.2020

Academia Pomeroy Covered Bridge: Longest Covered Bridge in the State

Everything about the Academia Pomeroy Covered Bridge in Juniata County is massive. It is the longest covered bridge in the state of Pennsylvania, and it has one of the highest clearances at over 11 feet (though it is not open to motorized vehicles. It is a double span, with two burr arch truss spans that measure in at a total of 278 feet. It crosses the impressive and bucolic Tuscarora Creek and has been located in this remote spot since 1902. The Juniata County Historical Society has owned and maintained it, and the care that this bridge has seen is immediately evident. 
At 278 feet, this is the longest covered bridge in the state, and one of the longest in the country. The bridge was recently refurbished. It crosses the large Tuscarora Creek, a creek that is basically the size of a small river. 
Coordinates: 40.493611, -77.4725
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7.19.2020

Millersburg Ferry: A Relaxing Float Across the Susquehanna River


For nearly two centuries, the borough of Millersburg, Dauphin County, has been connected to the other side of the Susquehanna River and Perry County with a ferry crossing. At this point, the mighty Susquehanna River is a mile wide and very shallow. In order to make this crossing happen, a wall (a small dam) was built for the ferry to be able to cross the river. It was once just one of many ferry crossings across the river, but it is now the last one remaining on the Susquehanna River, and the last operating river ferry crossing within the state itself. The Millersburg Ferry, also known as Crow's Ferry, is a pretty awesome thing to experience. 
It is a calm ride across the Susquehanna River in a section of this scenic, calm, and sprawling river that is hopping with kayakers, tubers, and fan boats.
The ferry has room for about four cars, or two cars and 6-8 motorcycles. There are two total ferries on the line. When we arrived in Millersburg, the next ferry was just about to disembark, and we snagged the last spot on the ferry. It is open to pedestrian passengers, automobiles, motorcyclists, golf carts, and even horses and buggies, with a small crossing fee. The ride takes about twenty minutes and is quite relaxing. 

For practical purposes, this ferry is a strategic crossing of the river, for there are no bridge crossings between Duncannon and Sunbury. 
 A view of the scenic river
 Dragonflies landing on the chains
It is pretty easy to see in these photos just how pleasant the ferry ride is. It was a nice way to break up our cross state drive.
The western shore of the river at the site of the ferry landing is home to a pretty campground, Ferry Boat Campsites. They have a set of swings that overlooks the landing and the river, and a really nice spot to moor kayaks and to wade into the water.
The ferry operates on weekends in May, then daily through the summer months through Labor Day when the conditions permit it, and then weekends only through the end of September. For rates and more information, check out their website at http://www.millersburgferry.org

7.12.2020

A Visit to Historic Knoebels Amusement Resort

Knoebels is our happy place. It has has been and always will be. When we saw that the park would be opening in July during this year of uncertainty, we just had to go. We ended up spending the July 4th weekend at the park, camping in the campground, and strolling over to the park. If this is something you have not experienced, we highly recommend it, especially in these tough times. In the midst of this stressful summer, visiting Knoebels was a lovely respite in the midst of devastation. For previous trips and more background on the rides, check out this prior article, and check out our own book on Pennsylvania's classic amusement parks, which is available through the dropdown menu at the top of the page. 

As far as safety and sanitization protocols in the midst of this pandemic, they did a wonderful job. They ensured that everyone properly wore a mask and they set out guidelines for guests to socially distance. For the most part, people cooperated well, knowing that if they did not, the park may not be able to operate. Rides were shut down every half hour or so for a deep cleaning involving spray disinfectants and wiping down. Every other row on the coasters was alternated each ride cycle. Markings were placed on the ground to ensure proper social distancing. Some carousel horses were kept empty to ensure proper distancing was achieved and the trains had alternating rows as well. Knoebels acted like the wonderful community citizen that it always has been, by acting responsibly and faithful to the needs of the community. This time is not optimal for anyone, but in the midst of a deadly pandemic, Knoebels has risen to the challenge to ensure that guests have a great time and that a safe environment is achieved. It is clear that Knoebels cares about its patrons and the overall safety of the community, which should not be news to anyone who has ever visited the park.
I love that the Lawrence Knoebel Covered Bridge welcomes you into the park from the camping area. 
Breakfast! Breakfast is served every day starting at 8:00AM in the International Pavilion, near the log flume.
Since we brought our dog CeCe along with us, our first ride was on the antique cars. The track that the ride travels on, weaving in and out of the structure on Phoenix, is easily the nicest that I have ever experienced. 
Heading over for a ride on Phoenix!
It was a terrific ride as always!
Next up was a ride on the Pioneer Train. I absolutely love the views you get of Twister's immense structure.
The carousel always looks so stately. 
Flying Turns is in the process of a big rebuilding project on the last half of the ride. The back half almost looks like a brand new ride!
Day 2! Here you can see Twister and Phoenix getting in their morning test runs while we go pick up some breakfast.
First ride of the day was the carousel.

CeCe did not know what to make of it at first, and then thoroughly enjoyed it. 
Both of the park's carousels are absolutely lovely.
Ole Smokey is the park's second, and shorter train, but it still has a really long course, and even crosses a classic iron bridge across the creek. 
Back to Twister!
The cutaway here frames the twisted nature of the coaster so nicely.
Now for a little afternoon swim with CeCe in front of the park's historic Lawrence Knoebel Covered Bridge.
Looking up at the helix after the end of the second lift hill is really impressive. Twister's structure is so enormous.
Derby Race time!
Closing out the evening with a ride on Phoenix!

And back for another morning ride on Twister.

CeCe loves taking in the coasters as much as I do!
Overall, I have to say I was very impressed with how Knoebels has struck a safe balance between doing too much and doing too little. In a time where parks could easily throw in the towel for the season, Knoebels has opted to open up, but with logical and safe precautions to protect us in this pandemic. The mask policies, the spacing methods in the queue lines and on the rides, the sanitizer stations across the park for guests and employees, and the frequent deep cleaning stops on the rides help ensure that this virus does not spread. Most of the visitors were following the protocols pretty well. The park struck a balance between doing too much and too little, and is taking the threat of this pandemic very seriously. 

As always, we are grateful and appreciative of what Knoebels is able to accomplish. When tough times have struck this 94 year old park, whether it be during the Great Depression, wartime, and the complete collapse of local industry, the park has not only survived, but thrived. Knoebels needs our support in these times, for it has always been there for us, including now with keeping our safety as their first motivation. The decent crowds over the weekend were very encouraging, but we need to keep it up.

If you are interested in more Knoebels history, and in learning about more of the amusement parks throughout the state, be sure to check out our book, "Great Pennsylvania Amusement Parks Road Trip." It is available through local bookstores, online, and through the drop down menu near the top of this page.
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