Despite our miserable experience last year where it rained 11 out of 14 days and I was rushed to the hospital with cellulitis and Ron fell over a rock and really racked up his leg (see, Pat and Ron’s Excellent Adventure in Sullivan County and World’s End State Park); despite the fact that our house was still in total disarray because of a bedroom ceiling collapse in June resulting in roofers and contractors traipsing through and us sleeping on a mattress on the dining room floor all summer; despite the fact that problems with extended family had put me into therapy and on Zoloft; and despite the fact that both of us were at the tail end of month-long bouts of killer bronchitis, we packed up our camping gear and provisions (well, I packed up, he loaded the truck — see, How to Pack for a Camping Trip) and set out once again on our annual September odyssey to the wilds of Pennsylvania. (Yeah, I know that’s a wicked run-on sentence.)
We left at 9:30 on a warm, sunny Wednesday morning for Parker Dam State Park, via an alternate route to bypass construction, getting on the westbound Pennsylvania Turnpike, exiting at Harrisburg and taking Rte. 322 to Rte. 153 which took us directly to Parker Dam. Or it would have if Ron didn’t bear right at a crucial moment off 322 onto 26 East when I took my eyes off the road for one freaking minute to check the map. This dumped us in Lemont, and we ended up taking I-80 for about 30 minutes anyway, hitting the only construction in 50 miles, ending right at our exit!
But I digress.
Reaching Parker Dam at 3:05, it took an hour to unload and set up house. Ron warned me to be wary of a low hanging roof eave as he headed for the bathroom. Five minutes later, as I finished laying out the sleeping bags, I heard a BANG, and “Son of a b…h!” Guess who walked into the roof, and now sported a small forehead gash and injured hand from reaching out to steady himself? Sigh.
This year’s cabin was much smaller than last year’s, the bedroom containing one set of single bunks in the center and two single beds against the walls. I feared rolling out of the narrow bunks, and Ron, too, wanted something against his back (preferably me, but that wasn’t happening, our days of sharing a single bed are long ago and far away). So we took the wall beds, and waved goodnight through the bunks which served as our storage area. Slideshow of Cabin.
There were no dressers here either, and no pegs on the walls, only two metal hooks in the kitchen, and four in the bedroom, so we divided the clothing on hangers the best we could and lived out of suitcases. The refrigerator door kept hitting the kitchen table bench, and the bench on the other side was a pain when I had to access the food or dishes on the shelves. But we managed. One good thing was that each cabin here had a private bathroom/shower, albeit 20 yards away, that only we could access with our cabin key. After making sure anything a critter could chew through was either in the frig or the sealed storage container, we put the cooler and two empty storage containers in the truck because they were just tripping obstacles.
We were starved and tired and our food was still frozen, so we decided to get wood and find a place to eat. The wood vendor suggested we try The Valley Grille in Weedville, and we found it to be a fabulous place. (See review here.) At dinner, Ron suggested we drive up nearby Rte. 555, the Pennsylvania Elk Range. I was flabbergasted. “Who are you and what have you done with my husband?” I asked, certain he was way too tired to want to do any more driving. But it was supposed to rain the next day (I know, but I wasn’t crazed because reports claimed Thursday and the following Tuesday were the only anticipated wet days), and the elk were the main reason we come here. So, despite the fact that the temperature was now below 70 and my capris and cotton blouse no longer appropriate apparel, we headed up 555 to Medix Run and Benezette in search of the magnificent beasts. (I know I had one in the truck, but I see him all the time.)
No luck at Medix, but we caught quite a few on the sides of the road on Winslow Hill. When clouds and darkness started rolling in, we returned to the cabin where I quickly jumped into a warm, cozy fleece sweatsuit and crashed while Ron built a fire. Miraculously, it didn’t set off the smoke detector, but our bronchitis still wasn’t completely gone, and both of us started choking. They turned on the heaters the next day, so that was the last indoor fire we had.
Ron brought this wind-up radio with him that his brother Frank recently gave him as he packed up to move to Florida. (My house is FULL of Frank’s discarded junk, and he hasn’t moved yet!) This thing didn’t require batteries or a plug, you had to keep winding it up every ten or 15 minutes or so, but boy was it powerful! It picked up a lot more stations, and a lot clearer, than my boom box. We got Chicago one night! Once Ron discovered the Phillies station, he was parked there every game night, winding up that radio. I had to chuckle every time it went off right when someone hit a home run! (See Ch. 2; Ch. 3; Ch. 4, Ch. 5; Ch. 6; Ch. 7.)
Related content: Elk Viewing in Northwestern Pennsylvania; Vacationing at Parker Dam State Park in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Wilds; Chapter One of an Autumn Adventure Across Pennsylvania (2008 Series)