Posted in: Exploring Pennsylvania, Museums & Tours, National Park, National Parks, School, Sightseeing, YouTube Video Link

Exploring Gettysburg

Our day started bright and early around 7 AM. Before leaving the campground, we grabbed a bagel sandwich, breakfast potatoes, and two coffees at the KOA ($10). Dad donned his Beards of Gettysburg* t-shirt and we were off. 

We were early to pick up our tour guide (Mike Strong) for the Gettysburg National Military Park 3-hour tour ($125 + tip). The tour guide was outstanding. This was his 18th season as a guide. It was amazing how much he shared about this 3 day battle in such a short time. He has a gift and a passion. My biggest learning was about why they fought the way they did. They used the formations and flags because smokeless gunpowder had not been invented yet, and it was exceptionally difficult to direct action and prevent friendly fire. (Gettysburg Tour Audio Clip)

After the tour, we checked out the Visitor Center. The battleground and Visitor Center of the Park are free; however, the Film, Cyclorama and Museum do charge admission ($36 for us with a AAA discount). The film was okay. The Cyclorama is an oil painting reaching 42’ high and 377’ in circumference, depicting the end of the 3-day battle. It was rather amazing and took 12 artists a year to complete. 

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The museum was okay. The best part of the museum and Gettysburg, in general, is they maintained the actual damage from the war. Below are the rafters that were damaged by a cannonball in a barn at the battle. They were removed from the barn and relocated to the museum. You can see this type of wall damage throughout the town.

After the Visitor Center, we rushed to Auto Tour stop 12 by the Pennsylvania Memorial to see and hear a cannon being fired. It was a blast (pun intended). We were able to talk to the team after the show. 

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YouTube video link: Cannon Demonstration

On the way to our next event, we had car issues as the Subaru lost its mind and thought it was running when it wasn’t. This was pretty stressful as we tried various solutions. We eventually got the problem fixed and were able to relax and enjoy the rest of our night.

We ate dinner at the Blue and Gray Bar and Grill. We sat outside since it was a beautiful night. Live musicians were playing and the food was great. We got the Philly Cheesesteak Waffle Fries and mustard-based coleslaw. For the entree, Dad got the General Warren and I got the General Archer burger.

We capped the night off by sharing a Reese’s Pieces Sundae at Friendly’s. While we were waiting in line, a trio of guys walked by and I commented about how I liked his Confederate hat. We got to talking and found out that he was a history teacher and had had the hat for 30 years. I told him I was there visiting with my dad, who is also a history nut. He gave me a replica Civil War bullet for Dad!

Back at the cabin, we played cards before going to sleep.

Lots of action for a single day.


*Amazon affiliate link

Posted in: Exploring Pennsylvania, Hiking, Museums & Tours, National Park, National Parks, School, Sightseeing

Adventures With Dad

For years, my Dad and I talked about taking a trip together. He got to pick the destination. He finally decided on Gettysburg. That was not what I had been anticipating, but I started looking at accommodations near the old battlegrounds.

I found a KOA nearby and booked it for a couple of days. I also wanted to see Shenandoah National Park, so I booked us there as well.

We started our 6.5-hour trip at 8:00 am. The drive was easy and we made it fun.

Checking into the KOA Gettysburg, I realized that when they say bring linens, they meant towels too. We made a quick trip to Walmart for towels and washcloths. The KOA seemed to be the older style of campground, with tighter spacing and it looked like it would be hard to bring a larger RV in. As far as KOAs go, it was middle of the road. They did have a breakfast option on-site though.

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We had booked a Deluxe Cabin with a full bathroom. They claimed it could sleep 5, which would have been extremely tight as it was a small cabin.

After settling in, we drove in to see the town. It was only about a twelve-minute drive. There were quite a few restaurant options, but I had made a list of some of the neater-looking options and we decided to eat at the Dobbin House Tavern. The restaurant had a great ambiance and I enjoyed the meal. We hit the gift shop on our way out to grab a keychain and postcard.

We walked around town, exploring a little bit before grabbing ice cream for dessert at Mr. G’s. After a round of cards, we headed to bed. I was eager to see what our Gettysburg experience would be like.

Check in next week for our continuing saga.

Posted in: Campground Review, Exploring Pennsylvania, National Parks, Sightseeing

Timothy Lake South RV: Campground Review

Have you ever heard of East Stroudsburg in Pennsylvania? We hadn’t either! We stayed in Timothy Lake South RV Campground in East Stroudsburg, in the Poconos.

The campground offered quite a few pull-throughs and some back-ins. The back-in sites seemed mostly along the edges of the campground. Many of the pull-throughs were very long. We could have stayed hooked up to the truck it was so long. They were a little on the narrow side though. There were plenty of trees throughout the campground, so once the trees have all their leaves, I’m sure it will be quite shaded.

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The campground had a laundry room and office/store. However, the store was closed for COVID. You could walk up to the check-in window to buy ice ($3/bag) and firewood. The campground had a sister site, Timothy Lake North, whose amenities you could also use (per the website, we did not go).

Laundry was $2.00 for washers (or $2.25 for super wash) and $1.75 for dryers. The laundry room was limited to 1 person at a time and you had to check out the key from the check-in window. Reservations were not accepted. They did not have quarters/change machine, although the machines were quarter run.

Our Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile were spotty around the campground and the mountain areas. We ended up paying for the campgrounds WiFi for the week to make sure we could connect for work and school. Even their internet was spotty at times. It was also not a very fast internet.

The campground was 12 minutes from Super Foodtown grocery store and 16 minutes from Price Chopper grocery store. There were several restaurants within a 20 minute drive. The Delaware Water Gap was also close (12 minutes to a close trail or 25-30 minutes to the hike we went on).

Getting There: I would take it slow on these roads. The roads are pretty narrow to fit two cars (especially one being a truck and RV) around some of the turns. The roads are hilly and twisty as well.

If you enjoy quiet with no electronics and lots of nature and hiking, you may enjoy this location. However, everything was closed in the campground (not including the laundry room) and there was just not a lot of things to do besides hiking (or kayaking if you had your own). We would not stay here again. If things were open, maybe it would have been a different experience.


Our rating: 2 out of 5 hitches

Cell Phone Reception: AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile (all of our connections were slow/spotty depending on where we were in the park)

Laundry: Yes

Bathrooms/Showers: Yes

RV Sites: Pull-through and Back-in (grass)

Pop Up Tents/Gazebos/Outdoor Rugs On-Site: Yes

Amenities: picnic table/fire pit/grill at sites, playground, pool (closed for season while we were there), shuffleboard. (Paid for cable and WiFi)

Cabins: Yes

Tent Camping: No (sister site Timothy Lake North does)

Full Hook-ups: Yes

            Amps: 20/30/50

Pool: Yes

Food On-Site: No

Camp Store: Yes, closed due to COVID

WiFi: No free WiFi, Paid WiFi (a little slow, not what I would call high-speed internet)

Accepts Mail: No

Fishing: No

Posted in: Exploring Pennsylvania, Food

Alaska Pete’s

So our initial plan was to go on another hike (not part of the Park Service). We got to the trail and were told it closed at 4:00 (it’s 4:30). It worked out in the end, since this placed charged to hike. We were a little hungry, so we headed back into town and stopped at Alaska Pete’s for dinner. It was a large restaurant and we had seen a lot of signs in the area for it.

It had a fun interior and an interesting menu, although the prices were not cheap. (Milkshake $8.95. Cheeseburger $13.95. Hamburger $12.95. Chicken Sizzler $19.95. Side of Mac & Cheese $3.50. Water $10.) We ordered waters for everyone, but were told that they were not “allowed” to give out cups of water. We had to buy a bottle of water at $2.50 (soft drinks were $3.50). This is the first time we had heard of anything like this, but it’s not like you are going to eat your entire meal without a drink!

It had a neat name, an interesting interior, and a huge outdoor patio that had its own separate bar. The food was ok. They brought some toasted bread to the table while we waited for our food. The burgers were well done (not medium as ordered), the Mac & Cheese only tasted like Velveeta, and the chicken was plain on the sizzler plate. However, the fries were really tasty. The shake was good, although it did not look like what was advertised on the menu. We were full, but I would not go back there again. It was too expensive for what we got.

Posted in: Animal Sightings, Exploring Pennsylvania, Hiking, National Park, National Parks, Sightseeing

Delaware Water Gap & The Appalachian Trail

We’ve moved to Pennsylvania and although pretty, there were not many activities close to the campground except hiking.

For Mother’s Day, we headed to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area to go on a hike. The Delaware Water Gap is an elongated park, and we were hiking to Mount Minsi, which was towards the bottom of the park. The park had several hiking trails and a beach area.

I used our trail app and found the Mount Minsi via Appalachian Trail hike. It was supposed to be 5 miles, listed as moderate, and followed part of the Appalachian Trail. Ben has wanted to hike part of the Appalachian Trail for a while, so we wanted to take advantage of the fact that it was pretty close by (about a 30 minute drive). I looked at the pictures and thought it didn’t look too bad and it had great reviews. (Spoiler: I was wrong.)

The trail was a lot more crowded in on the way up than we expected. There was a small parking lot by the trailhead that was almost completely full. There was also a smaller lot a little up the hill, which was also full. I thought that on Mother’s Day, that it wouldn’t be that busy, but I was wrong. It still wasn’t super packed, but still had about 30 people pass us.

Now, I know I already gave the spoiler that I was wrong about the trail difficulty. Our hike ended up being 5.6 miles (Ben’s tracker said 5.8 miles and I did accidentally pause the recorder at one point on mine, so somewhere in that range) with an elevation gain of 1086 feet. My theory was that people were too busy trying not to trip and fall that they didn’t take pictures of the hard parts for their reviews. 😉 The trail was mostly a loop, which we always like in a hike. It started as an out and back, then splits to the right and left. We ended up taking the right side of the path, which probably is the only reason we finished the hike. The left side was a lot more narrow, rockier and had more climbing (at least for my shorter legs) over rocks. Either way, you are climbing uphill and coming downhill on the way back.

Parts of the trail

There are bears in the area, so we did bring our bear spray. We did not see any though. We heard birds, but the only wildlife we saw were several millipedes along the trail. We looked them up when we got home and discovered they were the ironworm/American Giant Millipede.

The top of the trail has two lookouts, and I would recommend seeing both since you are already there. The first overlooks a neat rocky hillside and has a nice space to sit and take a break. The second lookout also has a few nice large rocks to overlook the Delaware River.

Views along the trail

I’m glad we did it, although we (especially the adults) were exhausted at the end. Ben and I were sore even the next day. Hikes like this one make me miss having a tub to soak our feet in!


  • TICKETS: Free, except for beach or river access. COVID Restrictions: Visitor Centers closed, masks required
  • HOURS: Most is open 24 hours, per website
  • PARKING: Yes, but some lots are small
  • BATHROOM: Not at trailhead. Visitor Centers are closed, although we did see a bathroom that was open on the other side of the Bushkill Meeting Center.
  • TIME RECOMMENDED: 1-4 hours
  • *Details correct at the time of posting, but please double check before you go.
Posted in: Exploring Pennsylvania, Food, Museums & Tours, National Park, National Parks, School, Sightseeing

Exploring Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philly was about a 1 1/4 hours from our campground (with using the toll roads). Almost everywhere is paid parking in the downtown area, and it was hard to find parking where the truck would fit. Our first parking spot was close to the Liberty Bell area, but was limited to 2 hours, so we had to rush through the area.


We stopped at the Liberty Visitor Center for the Independence National Historical Park first and the boys got a Junior Ranger Program booklet. The NPS booth also had passport stamps available in a really nice display.

The Independence National Park Service was limiting the number of visitors allowed in the buildings due to COVID restrictions. They were not selling entrance tickets/reservations while we were there, but they were limiting the amount of people in the buildings, so there were some long lines. (*NOTE: The website states starting 5/6/21, they will be doing timed entrance tickets to Independence Hall.) Due to our parking meter, we had a very limited time of 2 hours. The line to see the Liberty Bell was 90 minutes, and the line for Independence Hall was 60 minutes. Luckily, you can view the Liberty Bell from outside the building through glass windows. You cannot see the crack from the windows, but you can at least still see the bell.

We walked to Independence Hall and talked to one of the employees to see what was offered, as it was a 60 minute wait. He told us that it was a 20 minute guided tour, but you wait about 60 minutes outside, then inside can be another 60 minute wait. He said he did not recommend it if we were short on time (or during the pandemic in general). He recommended walking around the outside of Independence Hall to be able to see the buildings, going to Second Bank and Carpenter’s Hall as they had no real lines.

Top left: Independence Hall. Rest: Second Bank

Second Bank currently houses portraits. Carpenter’s Hall has the history of the Carpenter’s Company, a trade guild that was founded in 1724. There are still current members of the Company today!

We drove around and saw the Chinatown and Italian districts. It really is a big city.


We wanted to experience an authentic cheesesteak while in Philadelphia. There are a lot of options to choose from. We first stopped at Campo’s Deli and tried a cheesesteak with cheese, onions, and mushrooms. We got a second one with peppers as well. We then drove to Pat’s King Of Steaks to try theirs. We got it with the Cheese Whiz and an order of fries. I think next time, I would order sliced cheese as well, as it wasn’t as cheesy as I thought it would be.


The Independence Visitor Center had a Rocky Balboa statue to pose next to. However, there was another (metal…brass?) statue near the famous steps that he ran up during training in the movie. The parking over there was packed and expensive $15 for the closest lot, so we ended up only driving by.

We really enjoyed spending time in Philadelphia and would like to explore it even more.

Final note: It was funny to compare the recommendations on what to see on a 2 hour window. The city Visitor booth recommended a variety of city and historic based items. The National Park Service booth was all historic sites. Both had good recommendations.

DETAILS Independence NHP:*

  • TICKETS: Free (except for Benjamin Franklin Museum, which is currently closed for COVID. National Constitution Center also charges a fee.) COVID Restrictions: masks required, limited items open, limited attendance (The website states starting 5/6/21, they will be doing timed entrance tickets to Independence Hall.)
  • HOURS: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Second Bank 10:00 am -5:00 pm, Carpenter’s Hall 10-4 select days
  • PARKING: Pay parking on street or nearby lots
  • BATHROOM: Yes, Visitors Center
  • TIME RECOMMENDED: 2-5 hours
  • *Details correct at the time of posting, but please double check before you go.
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