Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Smith Meadows

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   Lately I’ve been downloading library books and reading them on my laptop. Browsing through the thousands of titles available has given me an eclectic reading list including  this wonderful find –  Gaining Ground: A Story of Farmers' Markets, Local Food, and Saving the Family Farm. In 1996 Forest Pritchard, who had just graduated from college, decided that he wanted to work on his family farm which had been managed outside the family since his grandfather’s death. He knew very little about farming so the first few years were hard but through trial and error he discovered what worked best and now the farm is thriving.

  As I was reading I realized that we would be passing very close to the farm. We’ve heard so many stories about factory farms and seen too many feedlots along the highways so we try to buy grass fed, free range meat. Smith Meadows has a small store right on the farm where customers can buy meat from animals that are pasture raised and never given antibiotics or growth hormones. :- ) Self serve coolers and a freezer contain frozen cuts of beef, pork and lamb, whole chickens and sausages plus eggs, homemade pasta and prepared food. The store is opened 7 days a week from 10:00 – 5:00 and is operated on the honor system although you may call ahead if you want assistance. Our freezer is stuffed!

  The farm store isn’t accessible due to steps.

   The country roads leading to the farm are narrow so use caution. There’s enough room for a RV to park and turn around at the store.  Farm Market

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Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races

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  Follow the signs for the parking garage. The truck and RV lot is across the street from the parking garage entrance. It’s large, fairly level and patrolled by security. There’s an enclosed, air conditioned shuttle stop with a call button for the shuttle.

  We didn’t visit the casino because it was too far away and too cold outside.  Casino

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Washington County Museum of Fine Arts

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  This is a small museum with a very nice collection of art focusing primary on 19th century and early 20th century American artists.The museum is surrounded by a city park which features man-made lakes and shaded, paved trails.

  The museum is accessible. We didn’t go on the trails because of cold weather but they look like they’re smooth and well maintained.

  The museum parking lot is small but there are a few long spaces at the far end. RVs will also fit in the adjoining lot if they’re parked across the spaces. A paved path connects the lots.  Museum
39.63748, -77.73137
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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Johnstown Flood National Memorial

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 The visitor center sits on a hill above the ruins of the South Fork Dam which failed in 1889 killing more than 2,000 people living downstream in the small towns along the Little Conemaugh River and in the flats of the big steel city of Johnstown.  A good view of the wooded valley, which had been filled with water to form the lake where members of the exclusive South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club fished and boated, can be seen from the visitor center. The club bought the land in 1880 and after making inadequate repairs and modifications to an existing dam allowed the lake to fill to levels never reached in the past.

  The club members also built a large clubhouse and a village of three story vacation houses on the far side of the lake, visible from the visitor center. Most of the vacation houses are gone and the area is now the small town of St. Michaels. After the flood the members abandoned their houses. None of them ever returned to the area. The National Park Service owns the clubhouse and three of the cottages. The clubhouse is being renovated and is opened for ranger led tours in the summer.
The visitor center is all accessible. The Unger farm house (opened during the summer season) is located near the visitor center. The first floor and basement are accessible. The path leading to the house is grassy gravel and a little rough. A paved path leads from a small parking lot to the north side edge of the dam ruins.

  The visitor center lot has long bus/RV spaces. The dam path lot is large enough for most RVs.  Museum
40.34952, -78.77059
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Friday, November 22, 2013

Johnstown Flood Museum

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  On May 31, 1889, after several days of steady rain the South Fork Dam, located 14 miles upstream from Johnstown burst, unleashing a thirty foot wall of water and debris that hit the city at 40 MPH. Over 2,000 people died, 1,600 homes were destroyed, and four square miles of downtown were reduced to rubble.

   Museum visitors can see the path of the flood waters on a multimedia relief map, view photographs and artifacts from the flood, and watch a short award winning film. Located next to the museum and opened for touring is a renovated prefab house, one of the many that were brought to Johnstown as temporary housing for flood victims.

  Everything is accessible. The wheelchair seating in the theater is very close to the screen but the movie is still viewable.

  Follow the signs for parking. The lot is large enough for any RV. Wheelchair users will probably need to have some help due to rough curb cuts, steep sidewalks, and crosswalks with crossing lights that do not work. If possible it may be best to get dropped off at the entrance.  Museum
40.32779, -78.92039
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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Frank & Sylvia Pasquerilla Heritage Discovery Center

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   Choose an immigrant “passport” card at the admissions desk then follow their story of a long journey from rural villages in eastern Europe to the smoky, crowded, steel making town of Johnstown. Each exhibit area features audio displays (some are not working correctly) or video displays which address the concerns of the immigrant that you have chosen.

   Additional floors of the center feature temporary exhibits about Johnstown and the surrounding area. A fun interactive children’s museum is located on the third floor. Learn about the Bessemer process by visiting the Iron and Steel Gallery where you can watch a short film and view photographs of the steel mills.

   Everything is accessible.

  The parking lot is large enough for any RV.  Center
  40.34036, -78.93086
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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Butler Institute of American Art

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   A wonderful collection of American art spanning four centuries. Included are paintings by renown artists such as Rockwell, Homer, and Cassett. Galleries are arranged by era and cover all types of artwork.

  The museum is accessible. The curb cuts from the parking lot to the entrance have a slightly high lip.

  The parking lot is small. Vans and short RVs will fit backed in over the grass. The museum is located on the campus of YSU and parking in the area is very limited.  Museum
41.10547, -80.64585
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Monday, November 4, 2013

Old Economy Village

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  In 1804 George Rapp and his followers emigrated to the US from Germany seeking religious and economic freedom. The group tried two other locations before settling permanently along the Ohio River in southwestern Pennsylvania. The town grew to 750 people, living in substantial brick houses located along wide streets. They built cotton, wool, and silk mills, a clothing factory, a sawmill, a tannery, and farmed many acres of land, growing grain, grapes for wine, and other fruits and vegetables for their own use and for sale to the public. Disagreements, which led to some of the members  leaving, plus the practice of celibacy doomed the society.

  A visitor center and about a dozen buildings are located on the village site. Eight buildings are opened to the public as a guided tour. The grounds can be seen on a self guided tour.
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  The visitor center is completely accessible but the village site is not even though the website map has most of the buildings marked as accessible. The George Rapp house is undergoing restoration so we didn’t visit it. The museum has a ADA compliant ramp and the first floor can be seen. The kitchen and carriage house entries are level with the ground. The Fredrick Rapp house has an extremely steep ramp. The other buildings have steps. The paths are loose gravel and uneven stone. The visitor center is a few blocks from the village and since the curb cuts are not in good condition rolling along the little trafficked streets is the best option.
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The parking lot is large enough for small RVs backed up over the grass. If it’s not busy large RVs will fit in the lot parked across the spaces or can be parked along the street.  Village
40.59834, -80.23138
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