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Coal Country

September 10, 2012

I left Amish country today and there wasn’t a horse or buggy to be seen – a far cry from yesterday. Then I realized they were probably all at worship services, which proved to be true when I passes one farm with about 15 buggies in the yard, and all the horses were unharnessed and tied up at 2 hay wagons munching on hay. I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that families rotate hosting Sunday services. And by about noon, even though I’d made my way north, there were lots of buggies out on the road again!

Before I left Lancaster, I made a stop at Target. One of the groups I want to make a donation to every week is the military, and that was my donation for the day – getting stuff for a care package to mail overseas. The post office gives a $2 discount on their large flat rate boxes for APO/FPO addresses, so my stop at Target was to buy the goodies to go in it. And I’ll just mail it tomorrow since the post office was closed. I ended up getting a Sports Illustrated magazine (all football this week), and trail mix, lemon drops, Spanish peanuts, honey roast peanuts, jerky, granola bars, red licorice, tic tacs, fruit snacks, jolly ranchers, and gum. If anyone has better ideas, let me know! I have to somehow cram it all in the box, but that will have to be done in daylight because I’m at a campground tonight.

The first walk of the day was in Ephrata, which was such a nice town that we covered 3 miles – through the middle of a very nice town, then by stately homes, then across a muddy little river to a neighborhood with trim smaller homes – but so quiet on an early Sunday afternoon! Although there were a few tantalizing aromas of Sunday dinners being cooked!

I continued north (passing quite a few women on bikes in long dresses and black bonnets – Menonites??) and next stopped in Myerstown and walked around that and the adjoining pond/lake and community park and got in another 1.5 miles. I was getting into the mountains and coal country – I was headed toward Centralia, which is on some maps but not others. Along the way, I came to Ashland and since we were in the Appalachian Mountains the whole town was strung out along a mile-long hill. Many of the houses and businesses were connected, or they were skinny little houses. The side streets were steep and only went back a block or 2. Tula and I started at the bottom of the hill and trudged all the way up, but it actually wasn’t too bad. It was more fun walking back though!

Then I found the little that is left of Centralia. 50 years ago today, Centralis’s town dump caught on fire and somehow ignited a coal seam right under the surface ground, and the fire has been burning underground for the last 50 years. The residents all had to evacuate and no homes or buildings are left- the roads are being taken over by Mother Nature and it’s just kind of a desolate little area. I read some people can see steam rising from cracks in old pavement, but I didn’t see anything like that – nor did I linger long or go too far back in!

I continued north on 2 lane roads thru the mountains with no particular destination in mind except to find someplace to stay, and I saw signs for 2 campgrounds. With money running low for the week, I checked out the first one and it was so awful I almost thought I wouldn’t want to camp tonight! But then I went to look at the other one and it’s an awesome little place that doesn’t have many people and the view from my little campsite is a covered bridge!! Tula and I finished our walking for the day by exploring the whole campground and walking across the covered bridge – they’re so cool! It was getting dark by the time we got back, and I was a bit more efficient on getting things set up with an extra blanket too – I’m wearing a sweatshirt for the first time this trip. But I’m glad it’s not 90 degrees out anymore! After I was organized, I enjoyed the rest of my Amish cheese and “bologna” with some crackers, grapes and carrots while catching up with my journal. The headlamp works wonderfully well and it’s so peaceful and beautiful (with trains in the far distance)that I can’t imagine a more perfect place to spend my last night in Pennsylvania. I have to finish up a few miles of walking from last Monday (it seems impossible that a week has gone by)and mail my package and then New York here I come!

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4 Comments
  1. Graham Crockford permalink

    Nancy, it sounds like you are having a great time. I think we need to get you a Jet Boil camp stove so you can make yourself some tea. They are pretty small, and given the cool nights you might appreciate a warm beverage…

    • Thanks for the thought Graham 🙂 I don’t camp out all the time, and while a hot beverage on those nights would hit the spot, I think I’d worry about always having flammable fuel in the car for a year when I would only use it occasionally! I’m sure it’s totally safe, but I worry about that stuff because I don’t understand how it works!

  2. Mary permalink

    For your next military care package — when I last participated in a care-package drive, we were told the troops like gatorade-type powder mixes, DVDs, and…toilet paper! Cheers —

    • Thanks for the suggestions, Mary! Powdered drink mixes were on the list of the next unit I sent goodies to.

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