Friday, 13 April 2018
It was an interesting day. I walked the dogs before we left Kooser State Park and found that there’s a Kooser Spring, which is presumably the source of Kooser Run. (In Pennsylvania, streams are called runs. I don’t know why.) And as we walked along the run, which was where the frogs were singing last night, we startled a Great Blue Heron who flew away. I wouldn’t have seen him if he hadn’t flown.
Which reminds me that I’ve been hearing and seeing Mourning Doves all over PA; I’ve always thought of them as southern birds, but the bird book says they’re all over, including here.
Just down the road a few miles from the park is an active gravel mine: there’s a chute running alongside the road going uphill at a steep angle (the road’s going downhill at the same angle) and depositing gravel in a pile at the top.
All day long I kept finding stretches of the road that were such a serious grade that the highway dept. warned motorists about them. One of the most foreboding came as the road went steeply uphill with a sign near the top, screaming in large letters “Warning” and “Dangerous Road”, which turned out to be such a serious grade they didn’t tell us what it was and it went on for miles and trucks were given a speed limit of 10 mph and told to use lowest gear. Part way down that one was a runaway truck ramp into a hill of gravel. That one was really scarey. The others were just nerve-wracking. Who needs amusement park rides?
The reason for all these steep grades, I learned later, is that this is part of the Allegheny Mountains, which are a subset of the Appalachian Mountains, which run almost the entire length of the US. So they really are mountains and I didn’t realize they were coming. Well, I knew they were there but didn’t know how that would translate into road conditions.
I had thought about stopping to see Fallingwater, Frank Lloyd Wright’s house, and found there were clear signs directing me to it. And when I got there I learned the entrance fee was $33. It’s managed by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy but, good cause or not, I still don’t have that kind of money to fling around on something like this. There were many other signs directing me to Kentuck Knob, which I hadn’t heard of but decided not to stop at, and later learned that it’s a house Wright designed, and that it too has an entrance fee.
The Methodist Church is big in this part of the state. Every little town seems to have a well-established Methodist church (brick, stained glass) prominently located. But they’re not the only ones. I passed a sign saying I’d be missing a chicken and biscuit supper at a Church of Christ next Saturday. And I passed another church touting an upcoming buckwheat pancakes and sausage event. I remember my mom used to make buckwheat pancakes occasionally. I passed a Baptist church with a sign for Bible Study and Soul Food at 6:45 on Tuesdays. Obviously eating and religion go together in this part of the country.
I stopped for a while at Fort Necessity. It’s managed by the National Park Service and is the site of a battle that started the French and Indian War, which led to events that resulted in the Revolutionary War. At the time, George Washington was 22 years old and had just been made a colonel of a Virginia regiment on a mission for the British governor. He had no education or experience which would have told him he was locating his “fort” in a place that couldn’t be defended. The fort was actually just a very small stockade in a valley surrounded by low hills covered with trees. The French soldiers just picked off the Virginians who had no ability to retreat. Washington had to surrender but, the NPS notes, he never surrendered again and he learned from the experience.
Still, this battle led to England and France declaring war on each other, triggered over both wanting to control the Ohio River valley, which this battle was on the edge of. And 30 years later, the result is a new country. Ours.
Pittsburgh has 5 area Walmarts, and I picked one that looked like it was in the middle of a bunch of stores. When I got there, I found signs posted about every 6’ saying no bus or RV parking. So I can take a hint – they didn’t want me – and I started driving around to see if I could find another store that might let me stay the night. Nearby I found a PetsMart, which I needed to shop at anyway, and luckily got the manager to agree to let me stay. “Luckily” because by then it was nearly 4:00 and I really didn’t want to be out in Friday afternoon rush hour traffic with no place to go. But I hate to push my luck so think I’ll try to find somewhere else to stay tomorrow night. Maybe a hotel. This is near the airport so there’s lots of hotels around – I can see 2 from where I’m parked.