After our two-day drive from Florida to the Pittsburgh area for J. Michael's father's funeral, we spent the week with family at the funeral home, at the funeral service, and at the memorial service. We had little time to spend at the motor home at the KOA in Washington, PA. It's just as well, because the KOA is situated on a hill overlooking the eastern end of the section of highway where I-70 and I-79 come together. Although the campground itself is fairly nice with well-spaced sites, there was a LOT of road noise. The noise did lessen somewhat late at night, but the trucks were almost constant. The campground is run by a very nice Canadian couple who retired 6 years ago and bought the KOA. After buying the campground, they went 4 years without either one of them having a day off, which is not exactly our idea of retirement. The photo below is our site at the Southeast Pittsburgh KOA in Washington, PA.
We pulled out of the campground early Monday morning and stopped by Colussy Chevrolet (where J. Michael works as comptroller) for an oil change in the motor home before we were on our way to the Amish country in Berlin, OH. Although Colussy is not an official Workhorse Chassis Service Center, they sell quite a few medium duty trucks, and they know their way around heavier chassis vehicles. If you're in the area and need service for your car, truck, or motor home, give them a call.
By mid-afternoon, we arrived in Berlin and got set up at Scenic Hills RV Park just outside town. The campground is built on three levels and only the main area by the office was open when we first got there. The photo below shows our site.
The owners of the campground were hard at work spreading gravel, grading, repairing, and mowing getting ready for larger crowds that spring would bring. Scenic Hills is located beside a lumber mill that does planing and kiln drying of lumber. There is some noise from the dust collector at the mill; but, since the mill doesn't operate on Saturdays or Sundays, the noise is not a problem on a weekend visit or if, during the week, you're away from the rig most of the day sightseeing. However, we were still recuperating from the flu and surgery and planned to stick pretty close to home so the mill and the back-up beepers on the fork lifts were a little bothersome. By the second week of our stay, they had opened some of the sites in the other areas of the campground, so we decided to move to the lower level where we awoke to chirping birds instead of back-up beepers. The photo below shows our site on the lower level.
We considered heading a little farther south for a while looking for warmer weather; but with the rising cost of fuel, we decided to stay put since we were planning to head back to the Pittsburgh area at the end of April for our originally-planned visit with Lora and J. Michael and for the doctor appointments we had previously scheduled. There were a couple of nights down in the upper 20s and two dreary, rainy, windy days in the 50s; but, especially for April, the weather really wasn't all that bad. We were treated to a beautiful, bright rainbow after one rainy afternoon.
Berlin is one of our favorite locations because we like the rural atmosphere, the well-kept Amish farms, and the delicious food that is available. We went there last year after leaving the Pittsburgh area in August. This year, we got to see fields being plowed in preparation for spring planting.
Lora and J. Michael drove out for the day while we were in Berlin to meet us at Der Dutchman Restaurant in Walnut Creek for breakfast. While they were there, we stopped at the Amish Flea Market and at Lehman's Hardware, where they sell many non-electrical appliances for the Amish as well as many hard-to-find tools and farm items. The photo below shows Margery and Lora as Barker's Beauties doing a "Price is Right" showing of a wood-burning kitchen stove.
We made many of our favorite stops while we were in Berlin, including several at Der Dutchman Restaurant. We love their breakfast buffet and their salad bar. The photo below shows Paul starting to load up his plate.
Stops at Sugar Valley Meats for smoked beef jerky and ham loaf mix, at Heini's Cheese for jalapeño yogurt cheese, and at Winesburg Meats for beef sticks were also on our schedule. Did you notice how many of our favorite places involve food? It was a treat to visit Heini's during the week when we could actually see the cheese being made.
The fun thing about Heini's is that they provide cheese samples for almost all of their cheeses. On the weekends, you just get in line and slowly shuffle your way around the store munching cheese samples as you go. During the week we could move unhindered.
Margery did spend a morning at Miller's Dry Goods in nearby Charm, OH researching patterns for a comfort quilt she wants to make for those undergoing chemotherapy. Miller's is a can't-miss store for any quilter. There are two buildings, one with quilting supplies and the one below...
Who would think the little town of Charm would also have such a large home and lumber center as Keim Lumber? Holmes County, where Berlin and Charm are located and which has the world's largest concentration of Amish, is a huge area for woodworking and the Amish are quite good at it. Many Amish farms have signs at the end of the driveway advertising furniture for sale. There are dozens larger furniture shops with almost any type of wood furniture, most of it locally made. Holmes County also has numerous mills rough sawing lumber as well as shops doing kiln drying, planing, and making custom millwork. We're not sure where they get all the trees!
Keim Lumber not only has most of the usual selection of home building and remodeling supplies and tools; they also sell professional-grade woodworking machines to many of the mills and furniture shops. In addition to construction lumber, they have a huge selection of hardwoods including a wide variety of exotic woods from all over the world. They had remodeled since we had last visited, and Margery particularly found the store jaw-dropping.
This 452 year old Bubinga slab was harvested in Africa. The Bubinga tree the slab was taken from was a seedling in 1555. The slab is available to the first $1,995 that is offered. Each paper square relates a year and a world event.
This has become a destination home and lumber center. Refreshments are available at the Carpenter's Cafe on the mezzanine.
Like many travelers, Wal-Mart is our store of choice for grocery shopping. It's interesting to see how the grocery items can vary from one part of the country to another. In the southwest, Mexican ingredients, both fresh and canned, abound. Here in the northest, we can find canned three-bean salad and frozen pirogies. In Florida, Wal-Mart has a large stock of wines including Childress wines of NASCAR owner Richard Childress fame. However, the Wal-Mart in Millersburg was the first one we've visited that included a hitching rail for the Amish buggies. And it was interesting to see the Amish using debit cards when checking out.
Plans for our summer travels are beginning to take shape. We registered for the Escapees Escapade in Gillette, WY in July with the intention of going to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons afterward. We are hoping our fuel budget holds out. Escapees is an organization that supports RVers, especially full-timers. Their rallies are called Escapades. We attended an Escapade our first year of full-timing in October, 2006 and we enjoyed it. Since 2008 is the Escapees' 30th anniversary, we thought we would attend again. The Escapades have seminars including topics on lifestyle, RV maintenance and repair, and hobbies. They also have entertainment, a market area for vendors of RV-related products and accessories, and plenty of opportunities to meet other RVers.
Margery's knees are doing quite well. She is able to make it through a complete shopping trip around Wal-Mart and still stand in line to check out without having to stop to sit a few minutes. We started taking a couple of medium-length walks around the campground just about every day with the plan of gradually lengthening the walks so Margery can build up stamina by strengthening her leg and thigh muscles. We're looking forward to some of the easier one or two-mile hikes at Yellowstone.
From Berlin, it will be back to Pittsburgh for another short stay, then we will take our time getting to Gillette for the Escapade.