Thursday, June 9, 2016

Chapter 8 - Williamsburg to Lyndell, Pennsylvania

June 7th, Day 11: This morning we set out around 8:00 am headed northwest over to ugly I-95 then up the interstate and around Washington, DC to a really nice campground just north of Washington by the name of Cherry Hill Park. Triple A rates the campground with a 10/10/10 rating which is their top rating. Our plan is to spend two nights at Cherry Hill as well as spend a full day visiting our nation's capital. While we have previously visited Washington we thought that it might be fun to revisit.  Our plan however, was quickly crushed when our GPS system, our Garmin, took us right through the heart of Washington instead of on the I-495 bypass.  The traffic was disgusting.  Bumper to bumper for over an hour. And while we did briefly see the Washington Monument (see the photo) any further interest we had in revisiting Washington was totally lost and we both agreed that we would simply relax at the campground and then take off early the next morning for our next planned stop. Who the hell would want to face those kind of traffic jambs on a daily basis.

The Cherry Hill Park campground did meet all of our expectations. Our campsite was on crushed stone with a brick patio and a picnic table.  We were near the pool area and the campground offered lots of things to do especially for the younger travelers as you can see in the photos below. The photographs show the large swimming pool area and a tractor trailer ride offered to the residents of our campground every evening. Surprisingly Cabo was allowed on the ride, although we elected to remain at home. Fortunately the evening was cool and we enjoyed a great nights sleep.

June 8th, Day 12:  We delayed our departure this morning since the representative of our next campground, the Brandywine Creek Campground, told us that we could not check in until one o'clock.  Since the drive up to our next "home" was around three hours we delayed leaving until around 9 am which including rest stops put us right at their campground office about 45 minutes early.  Just like the Bakers.  Always a bit early.  Actually I am surprised that we did arrive without any particular delay since around half of our drive was in a torrential downpour with very high winds on narrow country roads that were quickly covered with downed tree leaves and branches.  When we arrived at the campsite and we were finally greeted, we were told that due to the storm the power in the campground was down which also meant no water at the sites since the water pumps could not function without electricity.  Fortunately the rain had stopped by the time we had arrived and the campsite was quite pretty plus we were offered a pull-thru site right on Brandywine Creek, so, we decided to stay, power or not.  Of course we hoped that conditions would change.

Despite the rather remote location of the Brandywine Creek Campground, about 40 miles west of Philadelphia, we choice it because it was close to two sites that we wanted to visit: the Valley Forge National Park to the east and Lancaster County to the west. Since we were not sure about the electrical situation and we sure did not want to spend two nights without electricity, we decided that it was best to set up our trailer and then immediately head for Valley Forge. At least we would get part of our tourist goal accomplished if we ultimately chose to spend just the one night. Visiting Valley Forge was of a very special interest to me personally because my 5th great grandfather, William Farmar Dewees, was the owner of the iron forge on the Valley Creek which is within the National Park and he was the owner of the much of the land upon which General George Washington and the Continental Army spent  the winter months of 1777-78. Put another way, my great grandpa owned Valley Forge National Park before it was a national park. I mean, that is truly something!

My great grandparents' home still exists within the park and in the photograph above I am standing on their front porch.  Oddly, the National Park Service refers to the home as the David Potts House.  David Potts was my grandfather's brother-in-law and he took over the house after the troops left the area and the Revolutionary War ended.  My grandfather eventually sued the new government of the United States for the destruction of his land and livestock which forced him into bankruptcy and sometime after his death in 1809, the lawsuit was settled with the family.  If you would like to read more about the life of William Farmar Dewees, check out my family history blog at, Chapter 21. Honestly, it is an interesting story.

We greatly enjoyed our visit to the Valley Forge National Park.  The weather while cool and in the high 60s, was nevertheless finally sunny. The park is huge and beautifully maintained.  There is a single lane road that runs through the park that drives by historical markers, statutes of the various military leaders, and replicates of the shelters built to house the soldiers like the one shown with Kathy and Cabo standing in the doorway.

The photo to the left shows the home where George Washington lived with his wife Martha during his winter at Valley Forge. This is quite some contrast to the homes enjoyed (or mostly not enjoyed as thousands died) by his soldiers. Anyway, while we did not spend the full day at the Park like many of the tourists who choose to take the guided tours, we did spend around three hours which gave us the time to appreciate this wonderful national park.  By the time we arrived back at our campground it was just before five o'clock.  We found that our electricity had been restored which was great.  We enjoyed a good meal and eventually called the day to an end looking forward to a good nights sleep fully expecting the temperature to drop into the mid to low 50s.  They did.

June 9th, Day 13: We awoke early this morning and considering the low 50s temperature outside and inside our trailer, we had no choice but to turn on our propane heater for a few minutes just to warm us up. It was a welcome change from the morning heat of only a few days ago.  Today we have two things planned.  I want to visit a church graveyard to locate the gravesite of another of my great grandfathers, my great, great grandfather David Dewees Ferree, and both Kathy and I and maybe Cabo want to drive out into the Mennonite countryside of Lancaster County to see the beautiful scenery.  My great, great grandfather died in 1869 at the relatively young age of 42 and he was buried at the St John's Episcopal Church in the Village of Compass in Chester County, Pennsylvania.  As you can see in the above photo, we found his gravestone in the old church cemetery.
The original church was established back in 1729 and as you can see the old stone church was a beautiful structure that unfortunately was not open on this Thursday morning. We would have loved to have viewed the interior. As far as we can tell however, services are still being held here every Sunday morning as they have been for many, many years.

Our plan after leaving the church and graveyard was just to head westward towards Lancaster checking out the farmlands and the beautiful scenery along the way. We know that many of the farms are owned by Mennonites so we hoped that we would get a chance to see the Mennonites not only working their farms but also riding their horse and buggies on the highways.  We were not let down. There were dozens of buggies along the way. Our only disappointment if there was one, was that the roads were fairly crowded and it was not always possible to capture in photography the best scenes. One has to be there.

We saw dozen of farmers like the one in this photo to the left plowing their fields with just a horse and plow.

This photo we liked because of the mules which seemed friendly to us until they spotted our innocent dog Cabo.  Then they turned away to continue eating.  While the photo does not clearly show, to the left of the mules is a family of pigs also enjoying their breakfast.

It was not always possible to stop along the way to take photos of the many beautiful farmhouses.  The roads were narrow and winding and only two lanes, and in many places surprising crowded so it was difficult to stop.  We did like this particular home shown in the photo but it was only one of many that we saw during our three hour drive on this sunny and cool Thursday morning.

As I finish writing this Blog this day it is only mid-afternoon.  We are back at our tiny home ready to relax for the rest of the day.  As I write, Kathy is reading a good book and Cabo is laying on our bed sound asleep.  Tomorrow we are again headed north, this time to a campsite near the small Village of Florida, New York (not kidding) located not far west of the Hudson River and the campus of West Point.  Hopefully the weather will be lovely for what we hope will be another very pretty drive.

1 comment:

  1. Brandywine! You were just minutes from me! Next time you come through....let's finally meet!