2022 7/7 – 7/18 Visit to Philadelphia and Skyline Drive

2022 7/7-7/11 Visit with Sheila and Bob: We arrived in Philadelphia after an easy ride from our Washington area campsite.

Our campsite at the Chester-Philadelphia KOA was quite hilly with lots of loose gravel and well-treed campsites. We settled into an outlying campsite that Joan had specially requested to avoid cigarette smoke.  Unfortunately, the seemingly only smoker in the park settled in right next door a short time later. The lack of a breeze and humid air carried the smoke everywhere and made Stu quite uncomfortable.

That stay rapidly improved when Stu unpacked his favorite Birthday present from Joan and went for a longer than intended electric bicycle ride in the surrounding area. He walked the bike across a damaged bridge and without internet to power his maps, wandered seemingly aimlessly until he found his way back to camp. A lovely ride in beautiful hilly country that was a challenge to overcome on his electric assisted bike.

Dinner was with Sheila and Bob at their new apartment at Maris Grove Retirement Community, a lovely place with a terrific view of thees, flowers and the best of Glen Mills.

2022 7/8 Eastern Penitentiary and the Great Escape:  Joan and Stu paid a small fee for admittance to the Eastern Penitentiary in Philadelphia. Built to modernize convicts’ likelihood of recovery, men (only 256 originally) spent two to six years in solitary confinement, having only two half-hour periods outside per day. During all time outside their cell, their heads were covered with only two eye holes permitted.

In the theory of the time, this isolation enabled penitence because the men had no other experiences and would concentrate on their recovery with the assistance of prayer. The process came to be known as the Philadelphia Plan and was cruelly duplicated in several other prisons.

Eventually the prison began a modernization plan to include women, built a modern hospital that performed open heart surgery and a circumcision on Al Capone to “cure” syphilis. They also built higher guard towers after beginning to allow prisoners the luxury of exercising together resulted in escapes.

Eastern State was the home of the first in-prison synagogue.

2022 7/11-7/13 Travel Skyline Drive: Shenandoah National Park was one of the great achievements of the Works Progress Administration. The idea of creating a restorative wilderness near the nation’s capital that “lay lightly on the land” was truly inspirational. The park is beautiful all year long and previous trips during fall foliage season gave only a hint of the beauty of life that is present.  We saw green, lots of green, and a nursing baby deer with its mother just standing by the road side enjoying the area as much as we did.

2022 7/11 Mathews Arm Campground:  Mathews Arm is the closest campground to the Front Royal terminis of Skyline Drive. We stayed there after the drive from Chester, Pa. We arrived just as the rain was beginning and it took several tries to find a campsite that was even marginally level. Eventually, we settled in to a night of rain and leftover, but tasty, dinner. The site had no power, water, or sewer but we are self contained for a few days. Woke to a lovely morning and a slow drive south while we explored every overlook.

2022 7/12  Hiking and Dinner at Big Meadows Lodge: We parked at Dark Hollow Falls and hiked the just over one mile trail that seemed nearly all up and down. The trail was much steeper and much longer than just a few years ago, but the falls were just as beautiful. A nice Father and Son hiking team saw us resting on the trailside and gave us a lifesaving bottle of water to complete our trip.

We recovered from the hike just in time to visit Big Meadows Lodge for the view and dinner. Big Meadows Lodge is a wonderful great wooden and stone building with a $million view (before inflation). Joan has a ????? salad with enough for Stu to sample and Stu had terrific Shrimp and Grits cooked mountain style with lots of bacon and a hint of spices.

2022 7/12 Loft Mountain; An overnight stay in a lovely park

2022 7/13 Hagan-Stone Park: This park presented a challenge to find a spot level enough for a good night’s sleep.  Took us 3 tries to get settled in.

 2022 7/14 Jolly Acres and Colleton State Forest: We had a nice drive to Waterboro, SC with a stop at Colonial Restaurant for a lovely catfish lunch for Stu and a slightly overdone salmon salad for Joan.

A good lunch didn’t prepare us for the experience of entering Jolly Acres Campground. We were greeted by large political signs including one that said, “If You Support Biden, Keep on Driven.”  We did.

Our second stop, without a reservation this time, was at Colleton State Forest campground. Everything about it was superior. Large, flat campsites. Ample separation from other campers, a nice walk to the rapidly flowing Edisto where, just before we arrived, a swimmer who was overtaken by the current was rescued. We walked around the grounds, greeted by several campers, and never had our political views questioned.  It felt like we had recovered sanity in just a few miles.

2022 7/15 Best of Georgia: We stopped there on the way North and lost our power cord. We retrieved it on this visit.

2022 7/16: After Best of Georgia we drove to Winter Haven with Winnie. We took a side trip to Winter Park and on to Delray Beach without Winnie.