Monday, September 5, 2016

A Full Day of Pennsylvania

The next day (Sunday, July 17), we forewent showers just so we could rock in the porch swing some more before we hit the road.  Drinking coffee and rocking … enjoying the morning … the sound of birds twittering, the smell and taste of freshly-brewed coffee.  It doesn’t get a whole lot better, at least not until we got on the road.
Coffee and a porch swing.  What a great way to relax.
It promised to be a full day, running with Deb and Greg, sightseeing.  There’s a lot to see and do in this part of the country, and I’m sorry we don’t have even more time.  There’s never enough time because you see and do a few things, and find out about even more things to see and do. 

The first place we stopped was at Fallingwater, a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1935 for the Kaufmann family.  The home is in a rural area, about 43 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.
What a gorgeous setting.
There were so many flowers it was hard to decide what to photograph, or use.
The smell of hundreds of flowers filled my nostrils we walked the path toward the home.  There are more than 300 windows in this house that hangs over a waterfall using an architectural device known as a cantilever.  Wright described his style as “organic,” being in harmony with nature.
Deb and Greg are the best kind to ride with here ... they know all kinds of cool places to visit.
While there are all these windows, it appears that the people are sheltered inside the stone walls, kind of like being in a cave, and are a part of the environment.  It fits very nicely, and has multiple doors and pools.  

As hot and humid as it was, I'd have loved a dip in the pond.
The unique home in a picturesque setting was beautiful, with only the sound of the water falling to lull you, giving you the feeling you were in your own world. 

But it was humid.  Sweat ran down my face, it dripped from my nose and was running into places you don’t even want to know about.  The only way to cool down and dry it up was to get back onto the bikes and head down the road to our next destination. 

From a beautiful home, to a bridge tour, we were seeing a lot of history of this part of the state.  Greg and Deb took us to two covered bridges in Somerset County, the Kings Bridge and the Barronvale Bridge.

Kings Bridge was built in 1802 (although in looking for information on the bridge, it’s apparently incorrect), and rebuilt in 1906, possibly, and 2008.  While closed to vehicle traffic, you can still walk across it.  It’s 114 feet long, and 14 feet, 6 inches wide.  It’s made mainly from white oak, and was retrofitted with nail-laminated arches in 1906.
From the outside of Kings Bridge, it's a beautiful sight.  From the inside, not so much with all the graffiti.  But you can see the arches that act like a canopy when you wander through it.
Barronvale Bridge is also known as Barron’s Mill Bridge.  Supposedly it was built around 1845, but has a date above it saying 1830 (although I’ve also seen a build date of 1902).  It’s near Rockwood, Pennsylvania, and is the longest covered bridge in Somerset County at 162 feet, 3 inches in length.  The wooden arches were added when repairs were made to the bridge in 1907.
The Barronvale Bridge didn't have the graffiti the other one did, and was pretty pristine both outside and in.
These are two of the 10 covered bridges left in Somerset County.  While they are now bypassed with steel highway bridges, they still stand as beautiful reminders of how you crossed rivers back then. 

You never know what kind of patch you'll see somewhere.  I'm into photographing them, with their permission, of course.
After seeing a couple of awesome bridges it was time to ride a while and head to Stoystown.  This would also be history in review, but it wouldn’t be joyous like seeing bridges.

We were going to the Flight 93 National Memorial, the crash site of United Airlines Flight 93 that was hijacked in the September 11, 2001, attacks. 
The memorial is somber, a grim reminder of treachery, wickedness and evil.

This is an overview of the site.
The memorial has a recap of that day, and a timeline from when the flight took off, to when it crashed, brought down deliberately by our own heroes, a slap in the face of those that would do more harm to our country and citizens. 

Twenty minutes ... that's all ...
While the passengers of Flight 93 did what they had to do, I could only see the sorrow and feel the sadness through the mementos left, the photos of those who were on that flight and the phone calls you could listen to (but I could not) of those calling their loved ones knowing they would not survive.

Flight 93 hit the ground traveling 563 mph, and carrying more than 5,000 gallons of jet fuel.  It exploded on impact throwing debris into a nearby hemlock grove, and leaving no survivors.  The 155-foot-long aircraft was reduced to nothing but fragments ... wire, metal, insulation, as you can see here, that were scattered across acres of field and woodland.
Outside, the day was sunny and warm.  We rode around to the other side of the area where you can park and then walk and view a large rock that now marks the crash site.  The rock was put there as a marker as the vegetation has reclaimed much of the area. 

A path is cleared so one can see where the impact was.
A wall with the names of the 40 passengers and crew are inscribed

Along the walkway there are niches where mementos have been left, including “Never forget, 9/11/01.”  Every year there’s a closed memorial service for the survivors of those heroes … It’s a reminder to us that there is evil everywhere, and we really must be vigilant and watchful, and aware of what’s going on around us.

There are so many who have left something of themselves here and it's heartwarming to know people have not forgotten.

All I had to leave were a few coins from my pockets.

Never forget.
The visit was eye-opening to one that had only seen the television reports, and I was glad we’d gone there as I’d wanted to see it.  But I was also glad we were now going on to things that were of a happier tone.

Our next stop was in Punxsutawney, home of that little ground hog, Phil, that determines if there’s more winter or not.  We were privileged to find a postal ground hog.  Haha.  Couldn’t help taking a photo of it for our postman friend, Richid. 

The mailman ground hog was awesome.  Loved him.
There are a number of ground hogs located around the town so we had to walk around and take pictures of some of them. 

This was my favorite ... a Liberty Phil.

Rockin' Rita, Deb and me.  Legend has it that Punxsutawney Phil appears every Feb. 2, and forecasts the weather for the next six weeks.  A shadow means six more weeks of winter.  No sunshine, and therefore no shadow, means that spring is just around the corner.  We also learned that Phil's favorite meal is dandelion leaves in early spring and that he weighs about 18 pounds, and is 22 inches long.
While we also saw the “live” Phil, he wasn’t in any mood to come over to the window of his pen to greet us.  Oh well.  It was time to head for the bike barn.

A momentary break.

We made a stop at a business before getting to the barn.  Greg is with Car Mate Trailers, that manufacture specialty enclosed and open trailers.  This name caught my eye.

And I liked this one because it's red, of course.
The bike barn is off by itself, and houses way more than motorcycles.  There’s farm equipment, mowing equipment, a man cave.  

That there is one damn fine bike barn.
Yep.  Time to unload for a few days.
And their home is an old farmhouse built in 1847.  There’s a pond with ducks, and a barbecue pit complete with seating so you can watch the ducks.  What an awesome and peaceful setting.  We even saw deer, so my day was complete.

The following day was kind of lazy, and we didn’t ride with the threat of rain everywhere.  We wandered around but spent a nice relaxing day that’s needed now and then after riding for a number of days.