The Traveling Artist

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We woke early to see the mountains furred in white fluffy clouds. No one else in the Trappe Family lodge was awake yet so we tip toes out and went moose hunting, in the car with no gun.

We ate a wonderful Austrian breakfast. Threw on cold wet bathing suits and got in one final soak in the hot hot tub, off to the indoor pool.
And then our one day of pretending we were part of the upper crusty was over. We packed our Roadtrip dusty car with sad faces.
But oh what adventures awaited us! First we went to some brewery that has this beer that everybody wants for some reason. If they just came to Hidden River they would know THATs where the best beer is located. Dori was suppose to wait in line for some friends to get a case of the special Vermont beer. Ha! The line snaked out the door and way, way down the sidewalk. And it hadn’t even opened yet! There was no way we we standing in line with 2 metal knees and a screaming almost 2 year old!
So we left and headed for a tiny gin distillery instead. Is there a theme here? Tom Cat Gin. We had a tasting and a tour, bought 2 beautiful bottles of gin made with honey. Then headed for a mushroom farm. This was very interesting. Just a little place -Peaceful Harvest Mushrooms. Really nice farmer ( ex pharmasudical guy) explained the whole procedure.
Then we headed off to find the best cheese on the whole world. Cellars Jasper Hill. We get there and this really hot guy with intense blue eyes told us it’s not open to the public- you know germs and all. But he directed us into town to buy cheese at Willys. If Willy hadn’t had a help wanted sign we would never have known it was Willys grocery store. Everyone else knew it.
We decided to switch the GPS to no highways and the shortest distance setting. Don’t do this in Vermont ever. Bad idea. It took us dirt roads, lonely horror show roads but when it took us into the dark Forrest on a road so little traveled the dirt was grown over with grass- brave ( or foolish adventurers that we are we pressed my little yellow Mini Cooper on past an ancient cemetery and straight to a huge mud pit. We didn’t think the car we make it through without horses to pull us so we turned around and circled back. We accidentally found the museum of everyday life. Strange and a little interesting. We finally arrived at the Bread and Puppet theater and museum. Soon as we arrived I needed to pee. I saw a sign pointing to the outhouse. Ok I can do outhouse. As I walked deeper and deeper into the Forrest, I started to wonder if this was a trap or a joke. My curiosity kept me going and the Forrest opened into a beautiful field over looking a stunning mountain view and an outhouse. Not just any outhouse but an artsy outhouse. I enjoyed it so much I forgot to take pictures. Oh and the puppets were super amazing! I’m so inspired by them!

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The Unknown Dead Gravesite

Wherever we travel we visit the cemeteries. It gives a lot of Insight about a culture. Japan sets drinks on their grave sites, Jamaica has brightly painted above ground grave boxes and France has gorgeous sculptures.
With over 2000 dead from the Johnstown flood and many Unidentified bodies, the unknown memorial high on the hill above Johnstown was our next destination.



When we were here long ago, the kids all laid down at the little tombstones and pretended to be dead. So they reenacted their childhood.


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The Great Johnstown Flood

Tragedy! Why are we drawn to it? Why the morbid curiosity about death and destruction? Perhaps to avoid it ourselves? Sympathy for the victims? Who knows. I usually don’t even try to explain what I do or think, I just do it. Let the thinkers and analysts figure that out. It’ll keep them out of trouble for a while.
The Johnstown flood has fascinated me ever since we stopped here, maybe over 20 years ago. Over 2000 people were drowned and burned here all within 10 minutes! How sad, especially when I found out it was due to the carelessness of the rich bastard’s club that caused it. All those poor people killed all for the idle pleasure of the rich outsiders.
We went to the museum that is housed in a beautiful old library donated by Carnegie after the flood.
It cost $7 with AAA discount, $9 without. The movie alone is worth the admission price. Although my daughter felt it was overpriced.

History of the Building
If the Association will allow me to pay the cost of this restoration, I shall be very grateful to it indeed.” Andrew Carnegie in a November 28, 1889, letter to the Cambria Library Association. The Johnstown Flood Museum is located in a building with an important flood connection – it is the former Cambria Library, built after the flood to replace the earlier library using funds donated by steel magnate Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie was a member of the South Fork Fishing & Hunting Club, which owned the dam that burst on May 31, 1889, causing the flood. He donated the money to build the museum after visiting Johnstown in late 1889 to survey flood damage, but it’s unlikely he felt any personal responsibility for the flood. Instead, the library became one of the very first of more than 2,500 Carnegie libraries in the world today.

The rebuilt library, pictured below, was located on the same site as the old one, at the corner of Washington and Walnut Streets. The Cambria Iron Company donated an adjacent tract of land, where the telegraph office had stood before the flood, to increase the library’s lot. Addison Hutton of Philadelphia, architect for the $55,000 project, built the French Gothic style structure. The foundation of the building consists of 20 massive stone piers of circular section, 5 to 7 feet in diameter. The woodwork throughout the building is select Pennsylvania pine, finished in its natural color. The stairway alcoves on the first floor are laid with white marble tiles, skirted in black marble. The third story features dormers and the building has eight massive chimneys, two on each side.

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On the way to Johnstown, PA

Today we headed out to Johnstown to revisit the place after over 20 years. It was a beautiful scenic hour drive till we got to the city.
Only about 15 min into the ride we found ourselves driving through a huge apple orchard. We pulled into Sleek Orchards to get some cider and a bag of Snowsweet apples. Both exceptionally delicious !
Sleek’s Orchard
Bedford County, Pennsylvania
Contact: Jackie Sleek
181 Wentz Road, New Paris, PA 15554
Phone: (814) 733-4776


We came across a funny little village this retired guy built. He said he collected Junk for 40 years and then spent the last 4 years constructing a church, diner, gas station and soon a school house to showcase his collection. He was very kind to give us a tour and explain how he did everything.
And it’s Free! We love free!
Calvary Hollow Rd, Alum Bank, Pennsylvania



The first thing we did when we arrived at Johnstown was to go to the Incline Plane.
The Cambria Iron Company began construction of the inclined railway in 1890, to carry people, horses and wagons to the new hilltop community of Westmont. On June 1, 1891 the Johnstown Inclined Plane began providing convenient transportation up Yoder Hill which had a steep 70.9% grade.

On March 1, 1936 when flood waters again ran through Johnstown, the Inclined Plane proved its worth by carrying almost 4000 residents to safety. In the most recent flood to hit Johnstown on July 20, 1977, the Inclined Plane once again carried people to the safety of higher ground, as well as carrying boats, emergency personnel and equipment down to the valley to aid in rescue operations.

The design is simple: a balanced inclined plane with a double track, each with an eight-foot gauge. The two cars permanently attached to steel cables, counterbalancing each while in operation. As one car rises, the other is lowered. Power is only needed to lift the net weight.

It only cost $4.00 round trip. It was a delightful short trip. The view from the top of the city was breathtaking. You can even take your car up for $6.00! Very cool.
Just the past Visitors Center, sharing the same magnificent view over the city as the observation deck, is Asiago‚Äôs Tuscan Italian Restaurant. We decided to get cocktails here and enjoy the view. The hostess seemed to be flustered by us. Maybe the baby strapped in her carrier across Dori’s belly or our ragtag look? They thought of themselves as being rather posh and you know us- more like diamonds in the rough!
But the elderly hostess finally found us a nice spot right at a window- away from the clean group of senior eaters.
We ordered a martini sampler$16 , a glass of pumpKing beer with sugar and cinnamon on the rim and crab dip. The only martini I like was the lemon. I don’t like things sweet, so the cranberry, apple and lavender were too sweet. I drank them anyway. The crab dip was very good with lots of crab and no filler. Yum! We didn’t order any food since we had just had a peanut butter and jelly sandwhich and cider picnic lunch in the parking lot.




I highly recommend riding this technical wonder.





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Shawnee State Park


My two daughters,one month old granddaughter and I took the chance of driving 3 hours to an unreserved Pennsylvania state park rental house on an island in the middle of a lake. The chance paid off- we got in!
It’s a beautiful house over looking the Shawnee Lake. It has three floors. The first floor has a cute little sitting area with curved stick constructed dining table. This is the only room that faces the lake!
There is also a bedroom with a double bed and two single beds.
The house is turned to face the apple trees and chipmunks not the lake! Weird. Maybe the house was here before the lake?
The second floor has the kitchen, living room, bathroom and one bedroom.
Up a winding narrow staircase to the third floor are two more bedrooms. And three more single beds.
Lerin (age 32) was going to sleep on the first floor but after reading the guest book with all the ghost comments she got too scared to sleep alone so she slept upstairs on the third floor with baby Juni and Dori. I however slept alone on the second floor where the Milkmaid ghost supposedly drinks milk left out for her. We didn’t test the story because we didn’t have milk to spare.
The house was well stocked with dishes, pots and pans, coffee machine, toaster and microwave. We brought stuff because the website said there was nothing here, but they were wrong. Only thing we really needed to bring was towels and bed stuff.
My bed is rock hard. I don’t know about the others because they are still sleeping.
We went for a nice little 1.5 mile hike on the Shawnee trail loop. It started raining pretty hard we hurried back and spent a long time on the porch in lovely rockers facing the lake sipping hot chocolate. Dori made us ravioli and aguli salad. When the sun went down it got too cold so we moved the party inside and read our books the rest of the night. Baby Juni just stared at her One fish, 2 fish book.

I’m reading “My dream of you” by Nuala O’Faolain it takes place in Ireland. I learned my name in Gaelic is Caitlin.imageIMG_0481.JPG

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Some photos of the inside of the house.