Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Chowing down in PA.

As we sat around their beautiful house in Williamsport, Bob and Linda and I filled Denise with stories of the wildlife that walks up out of the woods to feed in Bob's back yard from time to time.

They regularly see dear, as well as smaller critters like squirrels and badgers. Linda's constantly complaining about the animals that eat her flowers. She's pretty anal about that garden.

Now and then they are visited by bears, both small cubs and large, potentially dangerous adults who are attracted by the corn they put out for squirrels, and the sound of moving water from their hot tub. The cover of that hot tub is still decorated with duct tape from one such visit.

Linda woke up one night about a year-and-a-half ago, hearing a noise on the deck right outside their bedroom. The back deck connects to that bedroom by a sliding glass door. On the other side of that glass door, standing on the cover of the hot tub, was a huge black bear. She woke Bob up and he reached to open the door and shoo the bear away when Linda protested, saying he'd set the house alarm off. He says now that in that moment he thought, "Yea, good idea", and slid the door open. When the loud pulsing alarm sounded the bear hit the trail, ripping a few little holes in the hot tub cover in the process.

So while we were there, Denise was constantly looking out in the back yard, hoping to see some wildlife. She wanted to see a bear bad! On Saturday afternoon, after the boating trip, while people were getting ready to drive up Pine Creek to eat dinner, Denise let out a shout that there were deer in the back yard. I ran to get the camera and we ended up getting a few shots of two deer as they walked through the back yard. One stood by the salt lick long enough for me to get a few good shots.

After that excitement, Bob and Linda took Denise and I for a long drive up into the mountains northwest of Williamsport, along Pine Creek, up towards the are where Bob hunts every year. They took us to a wonderful restaurant, the Hotel Manor, where we had great food and a wonderful time.

The deck of the restaurant looked out on Pine creek flowing by, and the mountains all around us. The road leads eventually to a beautiful are known as Pine Creek Gorge, or the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania. Maybe next time we come we can take a drive all the way up there and check it out.

We had to wait a bit to get a table out on the deck, but it was well worth it. The weather was perfect for it. Our luck on that score was continuing. Now and then people would come up to Bob, recognizing him from his previous job building the levee that protects the city of Lock Haven from floods on the Susquehanna. The last time the town flooded was in 1972. Something to do with Hurricane Agnes.

Bob was hired to run the project building the protective levees in 1992. It was mostly finished by 1995, when I went up there to go fishing with him the first time. He has interesting stories to tell about that time, getting death threats from people who were having their riverfront property taken over by Imminent Domain and having to carry a gun around with him. It all worked out though. The river tried to flood again in 1996 and 2004 (Hurricane Ivan that time), but the levees held the river back. I'm proud of my boy.

You can probably see that Linda's pretty happy with him too.

And what the hell, we were all havin' a good time.

I got to try out a new kind of Yuengling that I hadn't heard of... The Premium brand. It turned out not to be to terribly premium. The Traditional Lager was just as good, if not better.

I had one of those with my cheesecake, after the New Orleans Jambalaya I had for dinner. Wonderful stuff!

After dinner, as Bob drove us back towards Williamsport, he decided to take us up on the mountain where he and his buddies hunt in the winter. Denise had been asking him exactly where it was.

The girls were howlin' and I was lovin' it when he switched the dial on his dash to 4-wheels (he's got a nice new Trailblazer) and suddenly diverted from the barely graded dirt road along a corn field out into the brush of a rough mountain trail. He knows this place like the back of his hand, having hunted on foot there for 30 years or more, so I wasn't worried, but the girls were in shock. The laughter from me was punctuated by their pleads to him to move away from the edge of the road, which was carved out of the side of the mountain and which led you to a pretty decent drop down the side of the mountain. We both assured them that the trees would almost certainly break our fall. I don't think that made ether of them feel any better though.

As you might guess, I rolled the window down and stuck my camera out there with the flash on to see if I could get any decent shots of the wilderness as we flew through it.

A few of them came out OK.

One might even have caught something lurking out there, just beyond the range of the flash. I mean, you tell me.

Anyway, it was a great trip up the road there. We stopped on the top of the mountain and spent a little time looking at the stars, but the girls were ready to head back to town, so we soon did.

Sunday was spent shopping and laying around and eating massive helpings of Linda's home made lasagna. Denise and I went back to the same beer distributor that Bob and I visited last year and I filled the trunk with about four cases (24 bottles a piece) of that Yuengling Traditional Lager. I think I'm stocked up for this year, or at least until My buddy Jim drives his truck home to Texas when his job in York, PA is finished and he brings me another load. It's good to have good friends who also know a great beer when they taste one.

Monday morning, as they both went to work, we said goodbye to Bob and Linda and headed south along highway 15, which snakes along the length of the Susquehanna as it flows south from Williamsport towards the Chesapeake Bay. This route took us towards Harrisburg and then on along I-81 through little stretches of Maryland, West Virginia, and then all long the length of Virginia. Our eventual destination was Harriman, Tennessee, just west of Knoxville. I knew from having done it by myself a year earlier that this was gonna be about the longest day of driving on the trip. It's not the mileage though, but the slow traffic, the friggin' trucks and dead boring, monotonous scenery. I know, the Blue Ridge Mountains. Very pretty, but monotonous.

As I mentioned a second ago, my best buddy Jim is working in York these days, so we made plans to meet him along the way and eat breakfast. We ended up getting together in Carlisle at a Cracker Barrel just off I-81. That was a fun time too. I've known Jim ever since we went canoeing together for the first time in about 1989. Since then we've developed a very close friendship, so it's always good to hook up with him when I can.

Anyway, that's enough for this installment. Next time I'll pirate some of Mushy's pictures from our first night in Tennessee (I didn't take the camera to Big Ed's), and we'll begin that leg of the journey. Relax, it's almost over. There's just a weeks worth of pictures left. Cheers.


Suldog said...

Kisses, Yuengling, pictures of ferns, wildlife - how could it get any better? Nice travel post, FHB.

Mushy said...

Hurry up and get here!

That place looks like my kind of place.

Hammer said...

Great shots. You could take these blog posts and make a travel guide.

BRUNO said...

Yep, some of us tend to get a bit "quirky", when that subject of Eminent-Domain rears it's ugly head...!

Chuck said...

Beautiful shots! The restaurant looks great, and you got some sugar! What a nice time y'all had!

pat houseworth said...

Beer, Good Photography, friends, family(some) and great cigars, are what it's all about.

~Fathairybastard~ said...

Sully - It was wonderful. These are a poor imitation of the real fun we have.

Mushy - Gettin' there fast as I can dude. Missin' it and want to come back.

Hammer - It'd be fun. But our blogs are sort of turnin' into travel guides these days.

Bruno - True. These were rich folks who owned vacation property and tried to pull all sorts of strings to stop the levy. They could afford to rebuild if it flooded. The poorer folks just in from the river were the ones they were thinkin' of.

Chuck - Good food and good smacks. All good.

Pat - True, true, true. Only thing better would be a blogger meet with the bunch of us sittin' asround a camp fire, smokin' and fatin'. Now THAT's somethin' we need to work on.