July 16 - August 27 - Ohio & Pennsylvania
Our aim was to spend most of August in the Hershey PA area. To that end, we left Michigan (21) on July 16 and drove a whopping 84 miles to Port Clinton OH, where we checked in for a week's stay at the Erie Lakes Resort (22). We'd been to Port Clinton back in 2007, and it's a pleasant little town on the shores of Lake Erie. Our friend Steve Miller back in Reedsport says he spent a summer as an intern in Port Clinton way back when, and remembers it fondly. We checked around town and found no commemorative plaques about Steve's stay, so we presume Port Clinton made a bigger impression on Steve than the other way around.
We didn't do a lot of touristy things while in Port Clinton. Our intent was to recover a bit from a hectic (for us) week at the Henry Ford complex in Dearborn MI. We did visit the local lighthouse - the Marblehead Lighthouse, at Marblehead Point at the entrance to Sandusky Bay. The lighthouse is the oldest operational lighthouse on the Great Lakes, having gone into service in 1822. Today, the light is LED-powered, and flashes a distinctive green light, to stand out from all the white aircraft beacons in the area. We paid our $3 and climbed the 65 feet to the top for some spectacular views. On a clear day, you can see the Perry Victory and International Peace Monument on South Bass Island. That monument commemorates the victory in the War of 1812 Battle of Lake Erie, when Commodore Oliver Perry soundly defeated the British and pretty much clinched the war. The day we climbed the lighthouse, we could see the monument in one direction and the roller coasters of Cedar Point Amusement Park in the other. Neat place.
Other than that, Judy made her visits to the local Curves, we explored a couple of the local restaurants and visited the Firelands Presbyterian Church, a delightful smaller church. "Firelands" was a name given to this part of Ohio back when it was part of Connecticut. A lot of homes in Connecticut were burned by the British during the Revolutionary War, and the new state set aside some 500,000 acres "out west" in 1792 to provide for those burned out families. They could either move there and start fresh, or sell their "Firelands" and keep the proceeds. Most sold, but the name stuck.
After a week, we hooked up and headed east again. We overnighted just across the Pennsylvania state line on I-84, and completed the 425 mile trek into the Hershey PA area (23) the next day. We'd planned almost five weeks in the Hershey area, divided between two 1000 Trails parks.
We like the Hershey area a lot. We first visited in 2007, and again in 2008. Back then, Hershey was billed as the "Sweetest-smelling place on earth" - the big Hershey chocolate factory right downtown would vent those wonderful aromas into the streets. But that old plant is gone, replaced by a newer, bigger one on the western edge of town. The streetlights are still shaped like Hershey kisses, and Chocolate Avenue is still paved in chocolate-colored asphalt, but it doesn't smell the same.
One of the things we like about Hershey is the Derry Presbyterian Church. We've attended a LOT of Presbyterian churches in our travels, and this one is certainly the oldest. Founded in 1722 on a land grant from William Penn himself, the church today has about 1400 members, a total of 15 choirs and musical groups (yes, 15!), and is in the middle of a $1.1 million dollar remodeling project. They're doing all the work over the summer, but won't do their fundraising for it until the fall. Even so, they've already raised almost $400,000 toward the renovation. It's obviously a solid, successful church. Worship services were in the fellowship hall as the sanctuary had been gutted, and each week there were lots of extremely friendly people. We didn't feel outclassed at all, although there are obviously some very well heeled folks in that church family. We could get used to places like that.
Hershey has a local Ford dealer who's willing and very able to work on the "motor" part of our motorhome, so we had some needed things done - new brakes, new shock absorbers. We also had two new front tires installed and the front end aligned. And we enlisted the aid of a local mobile RV repair guy to try to find and fix the water leak in our roof that was first noticed several weeks before in Ohio. Three visits from the mechanic reduced the water flow, but as we left town, we still had some water coming in. We'll continue seeking a solution as we travel on. Fortunately, if we elevate the front of the rig a couple of inches, the water all runs toward the back and not into wherever that pesky leak is. But still . . .
The big event of our stay in Hershey was Judy's birthday. She received phone calls and cards from family and friends in multiple time zones, and we celebrated with a really nice dinner out at a place called the Union Canal House. The original building dates to 1751, and was one of the two original buildings in the small down of Union Deposit PA - the other was the local fort, on the other side of the road. Back then it was the only watering hole for miles, and the enterprising soldiers dug a tunnel under the road from the fort into the basement of the tavern. The fort's long gone, but some of the tunnel remains. Legend has it the tunnel saw service as part of the underground railroad during the Civil War. The dinner was spectacular. But then so's Judy.
For touristy things, we visited Hershey's Chocolate World, a simulated tour of a chocolate factory wrapped around the largest Hershey candy store in the world. We also toured the AACA Antique Auto Museum. The Antique Auto Clubs of America are headquartered in Hershey, and their small museum has some delightful displays of exceptional and unusual vehicles.
As you can imagine, the name "Hershey" is everywhere - lots of businesses have "Hershey" in their name, and many also use chocolate colored paint on their signs. The end result is you can't avoid being tempted to get some chocolate. We barely stopped drooling the whole time we were there, but we did resist most of the temptations.
Other than that, we pretty much relaxed and enjoyed the area. And even though at five weeks it's about our longest stay anywhere, somehow it wasn't quite enough. We'll undoubtedly be back.
We encounter lots of folks who travel in motorhomes, and many are looking to replace their units. Some are wanting to go bigger, some smaller. We're happy with our size home, but should we need to downsize some day, we probably won't go quite this far. (Thanks, Diane.)
Only about 50 pictures in our slide show this time. Check them out here.