5/30/2019 – We arrived at Old Millstream Campground in Lancaster, PA on Thursday 5/30/2019 to rendezvous with other Airstreamer’s to begin another adventure. We are touring PA and the Hudson River Valley of New York with the NORVA (Northern Virginia Airstream Club). The campground ia shady and overlooks a stream and working Amish farm. We spent the first two days getting set up and relaxing as we wait for the rest of our group.
6/1/2019 – Saturday, we drove into Lancaster and took a walking tour of the downtown area and learned about the history of the underground railroad. No one knows how many people were helped to escape to freedom but records from just one farm owner shows that their family helped 1,000 people escape. We learned about Thaddeus Stevens, a lawyer who served in the PA legislature and U.S. Congress Stevens was an ardent champion of equal rights and the freedom of enslaved people. He pushed for free education in PA for all people. Stevens grew up poor in rural Vermont, he is know for championing free education for all and for his egalitarian views.
After the walking tour we went to the Lancaster Central Farmers Market which is full of local cheese, meat, and produce. We would love to see something like the Lancaster Central Market in Charlottesville. A year round enclosed market where artisans and farmers can sell local produce and arts, crafts, and handmade items.
6/2/2019 – Sunday – Today we carpooled to The Turkey Hill Experience with Paul and Cynthia Pearce, friends from Charlottesville whom we owe much of our Airstream knowledge to; when we were thinking about buying our Airstream they came to our house and met with us and shared their knowledge of Airstreams. They are knowledgeable having owned five Airstreams over twenty years so they know what they’re doing! One thing you learn on a caravan, food is important; everyone enjoys experiencing local cuisine. Lancaster is known for its highly productive farms. Turkey Hill Farm is a small family owned diary farm has grown into national ice cream and tea company. Turkey Hill Farms, ice cream is sold nationwide. Today we toured The Turkey hill Experience, a 17,000 sq. ft. center that tells the history of Turkey Hill Farm and explains how they make ice cream and tea. The ice cream business began in 1931 during the great depression, by the Frey family who ran the business for years. In 1985 Kroger bought the business and owned it until recently when it was sold to an English company. Oh yes, we did get to sample lots of ice cream, we even got to experiment making our own ice cream and left with a sugar high.
Sunday night there was a short but intense storm, sheets of rain, bolts of lightening, along with hail. The good news is that in brought in a cold front…..sleeping in the 50 degree temperatures is fantastic.
6/3/2019-Monday- After making our own ice cream, it was time to see where all the milk came from. The next tour was an enlightening tour of Krieder Farms. The farm was started in 1935 by Noah and Mary Krieder, Mary was a relative of the nearby Hershey family. The Krieders started their farm with 102 acres, 12 dairy cows, and 200 chickens. They made money selling vegetables door to door while establishing their farm, until 1972 when a major decision was made to expand their operation into a processing plant and a retail store for their products. It didn’t take long for the farm to be the largest egg producer in PA.
Today, the third generation is running the business with over 475 employees and 3,000 acres of land. Our tour was amazing we saw where they house 6 million chickens…that’s right…6 million chickens and 1,700 cows. We toured the dairy cattle barns but were not able to get near the chicken barns due to the risk of avian flu.
Several years ago there was devastating outbreak of avian flu that affected chicken farms all over the country. For some reason Kreider Farms did not lose any chickens. As a result of a price hike in the cost of eggs due to the epidemic, Kreider Farms had an unexpected financial windfall. The family had an old 100 year old silo that they decided to move to the farm’s visitors center so people could get a better view of the farms operation and the surrounding country side. The silo is a 480,000 pound structure that was moved and now is a visitors tower. We climbed to the top where the views are spectacular and well worth the energy expended to get to the top.
Next was a visit to the beautiful historic town of, Litiz, PA, to visit the Julius Sturgis Pretzel factory. The business was started in 1861 and was the first pretzel factory in the country. We had a chance to make our own soft pretzels and then sample some just baked lightly salted pretzels fresh out of the oven. We learned that the shape of the pretzel knot was started by a Christian monk to symbolize arms crossed in prayer. We were told that 90% of the pretzels sold in America are made in PA!
6/4/2019-Tuesday- After eating lots of ice cream and pretzels, it was time for more food. Our group headed to Lancaster for a walking food tour in down town Lancaster. We had a great guide who gave us a history lesson of Lancaster as we sampled food from six+ restaurants. We had wonderful local food and ended our tour at the Lancaster Farmers Market which was wonderful. We spent the afternoon taking a drive around the beautiful country side looking at the magnificent farm land.
6/5/2019-Wednesday We went to see the play Sight and Sound “Jesus”, which is one of the top three theater venues in the country. It portrays the life of Jesus with extraordinary music and sets. The set besides a huge cast of actors includes live sheep, camels, pigs, donkey and more. We left early because we had booked an Amish tour and spent the afternoon on a driving tour visiting several farms and driving through one beautiful area after another. We got a nice overview of the Amish life, belief system, plus we were able to walk around an Amish farm and talk to several Amish women who were selling pretzels, baked goods and quilts. The average farm is 80 acres and everyone in the family works hard to supply the family with what it needs.
6/6/2019 – Thursday Our next stop was to Clute Memorial Park Campground in Watkins Glen, NY, at a pretty campground on Seneca Lake. The campground was used by campers and boaters who launched their boats at a marina next to the campground. The little town of Watkins Glen was smalll but once warm weather came it mushrooms in size for all the tourist.
6/7/2019 – Friday Our first outing from Watkins Glen was to Corning NY, to visit the Corning Glass Museum. The museum was established by Corning Glass Works in 1951 and currently has over 45,000 glass objects. We took a guided tour which was fascinating to see some of the earliest pieces of known glass art. We also saw wonderful glass blowing exhibition with a demonstration of how to make a glass bowl. There was also a stunning piece by famed artist Chihuly in the main lobby.
After visiting the museum Eddie took a hike to the Watkins Glen State Park , the most famous of the Finger Lake State Parks. The Gorge is known for leaving visitors spellbound with its beauty, the glen’s stream falls 400 feet in two miles generating 19 waterfalls. In 2015 it was chosen as the third best park out of 6,000 state parks by USA Today readers.
6/8/2019-Saturday A very special day! Our 51st anniversary was a free day with no planned activities. We took a beautiful drive along the west side of Seneca Lake through farming country to a village called Penn Yan. Penn Yan is the home of The Windmill Farm and Craft Market. There are about 200 vendors and shops, many of them owned by the Amish. Wonderful vegetables, baked goods, crafts etc. to enjoy. We met an interesting woman from Hungary and bought a beautiful hand made leather backpack that she made. We talked with her for quite awhile learning that she came to the US at the age of 18 (she is now in her 70″s) she had a job within two days because she knew the leather trade. This reminded us of Thaeddeus Stevens whom we learned about in Lancaster. Stevens, we were told said “if you have a trade you have an estate”. There is now the Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology in Lancaster. It is free for about 40% of the students and in 1999 99% of the graduates had jobs as of graduation.
6/9/2019 – Sunday We left Watkins Glen and headed to Cooperstown, NY. We are both “blown away” by the beauty of this area. The days that we drive are as special as any of the places that we visit. It is spectacularly beautiful, as beautiful as any area that we have visited, of course we are here in June, we doubt that winter would be as pretty. We passed many small towns that appeared to be suffering with very little commercial activity, but the country side was spectacular. Monday night it rained with high winds most of the night; we were warm and dry in the Airstream.
6/102019 – Tuesday We are in baseball country near Cooperstown, home of the Baseball Hall Of fame. The drive to Cooperstown was another beautiful drive along Lake Otsego with pretty cottages along the way. Cooperstown has a population of 1700+/- that balloons in the summer time as thousands come to the Baseball Hall Of Fame. On the Hall Of Fame induction weekend 70,000 people show up for the celebration and the rest of the weekends are filled with Little League competitions. We went to the museum and saw a good movie but there were so many people we left early and spent the day touring Cooperstown and the surrounding area.
6/11/2019 – Tuesday Erie Canal Cruise: We started today with yet another meal. We had brunch at the Waterfront Grill in Herkimer, NY on the Mohawk River. After brunch we took a trip on the Erie Canal Way, a National Heritage Corridor. The Erie Canal was a major (and controversial) public works project built between 1817 and 1825 linking the Atlantic Sea Board and the Great Lakes. It led New York State to be known as the Empire State as it help NY become an economic powerhouse. The 363 mile canal was a engineering feat it was a water route to national unity and world trade.
6/12/2019 – Wednesday We left the Cooperstown area and headed to Newburgh,NY, which was our last stop with our group. We had a short driving day and thanks to our friend MJ Arquette, we stop in the town she grew up in, Saugerties. MJ suggested we take a beautiful walk along the water to an old lighthouse on the Hudson River that still operates today. We were lucky to find an open field to park in and off we went on our hike.
Another suggestion MJ made was to go to the Diamond Mills Restaurant and sit on the patio overlooking the falls.
6/13/2019 – Thursday We started our day by going to the FDR Library in Hyde Park, what a treat! FDR donated the land and building on his farm for the library and was very involved in choosing many of the items in the library. We spent a half a day reading and learning about his life and seeing a special visiting exhibit on D Day. We were unaware of the deep friendship and respect Roosevelt and Churchill had for one another and how their friendship and commitment helped make D Day a success. We also learned of the tremendous influence that Eleanor played in influencing FDR she was his eyes and ears traveling the country listening to ordinary citizens and their concerns as his health deteriorated she became even more important. Eleanor seemed to be comfortable and interested in visiting with the president or prime minister of a foreign country as she was with an ordinary citizen or neighbor. She saw value in all people and genuinely liked people of all walks of life.
No matter what caravan trip we have been on food, restaurants, and eating is a high priority so going to the Culinary Institute Of America (CIA) was a “must visit”. After spending the morning at the FDR Library we met our group at the CIA, which is a non profit school with five separate locations, four in the states and one in Singapore. The main campus, in Hyde Park, offers associate, and bachelor degrees in culinary science and food management, and trains some of the best chefs in the country. We had a student from India lead out tour which was fun and then we ate in one of the four student run restaurants.
6/14/2019 -Friday It was time to see how the super wealthy lived so our group went on a tour of the Vanderbilt mansion and then had a tour of FDR’s home and Eleanor Roosevelt’s cottage. The Vanderbilt mansion was one of several homes owned by Frederick Vanderbilt and his wife Louise. The house was built between 1896 & 1899 in the Beaux-Arts architectural style on a farm over looking the Hudson River. Frederick was a highly successful, cut throat business man who made his fortune in railroads and shipping. This is our third tour of a Vanderbilt mansion, the other two were Asheville, NC and Newport, RI.