Thu 25 Apr - Lancaster, PA

We are going Dutch. Pennsylvania Dutch that is. Before that we have booked an historical walking tour in Harpers Ferry, WV, starting at 11am.

So after breakfast, we pack up our things in Luray, VA and start driving north. Along the way, we pass this creek which necessitated a photo...

Harpers Ferry is a small town where Shenandoah River joins Potomac River. Although it is in West Virginia, across the Shenandoah River is Virginia and across the Potomac River is Maryland. Harpers Ferry also has the same claim to "fame" as Fort Sumter in South Carolina, this is where the civil war started (hmm... 14 months before the first battle and before the succession of states - more on that later).
Today, only 20% of the "original" town remains with most of it managed by National Parks.
We arrive in Harpers Ferry around 10am, found parking next to the railway station with a note that parking is a flat $10. But hold on, it is still National Park Week so parking is free (haven't we just saved some money on this :-)
Harpers Ferry railway station is still in use, but not with many passenger trains anymore (we saw 2 trains advertised for later in the day).

Harpers Ferry is also considered being the halfway mark for the Appalachian Trail.

The stairs behind Di are officially part of the Appalachian Trail.
A familiar face from yesterday popped up in Harpers Ferry. Yep, the 3rd US president (and more) Thomas Jefferson had been here to and there is a rock dedicated to his honor.
The plaque for Jefferson Rock and...
... Yep, there is always one.
The story behind Jefferson Rock in Harpers Ferry.
Well, 11am came and we saw this civil war dressed up man outside the Catholic Church where we were supposed to meet Rick Garland for the walking tour. Yep, it was Rick alright and it turned out that we were the only punters on his tour today. Here is Rick with... some unknown lady not quite dressed up for the occasion.
Down the hill from the church is the Harper Mansion. It looked pretty much like it did in its heydays.
View down Shenandoah River. Potomac River comes in from the left before the bridge on the picture.
The picture is taken in West Virginia, to the right of the bridge is Virginia and to the left is Maryland.
Why did we come to Harpers Ferry? It is full of history and for people interested here is a quick summary of key events:
  • This is an old town which came about because an entrepreneur called Harper figured people would pay to get assisted across the river more than 200 years ago. He was successful but not too smart as his little business kept getting flooded and his cabin floated off downstream about 6 times.
  • The town seriously grew when George Washington started buying land here as a young man then when he had political clout he wanted the 2nd US Armoury built here, which would increase the value of his land. Of course with flooding and being in the wilderness the area was totally unsuitable but he got his way and the Armoury grew to be huge. For a long time the men of this town focused on weapons, whiskey and women!
  • The first and most famous "civil war action" at Harpers Ferry was in 1859 inspired by one man, John Brown, with about 14 accomplices, who tried to capture the Armoury so he could free slaves with the guns he got. Nothing to do with the Confederates or the Union. His attack did not work and he was eventually hung for treason however history treated him favorably because his purpose was to free slaved people and thus linked him to the civil war.
  • Of course once the civil war really started Harpers Ferry was in the thick of things and changed hands about 6 or 7 times until the Union finally held it. Stonewall Jackson one an early strategically brilliant victory here that apparently is still taught in military schools today.
Some location shots from Harpers Ferry - it's charming.
They use some of these streets as movie locations because they are quite authentic of their period.
The walking tour with Rick was truly amazing and we learnt so much that our brains were a bit fried. The tour also went on for a good 3 hours as Rick really knew his history and is a true storyteller.
At 2pm we left him back at the church and went back down to the railway station and to our car to have some lunch. We had brought some potato salad that we munched on at the railway station.
View of the railway tracks from where we had our lunch.
Leaving Harpers Ferry, WV, we quicky find ourselves driving into Virginia (again) for a few minutes, then into Maryland and then into Pennsylvania.
Along the way we stopped at a Sheetz service station for fill up on gas and on coffee.
Of course, we also get lost in the process and drive too far north and to Harrisburg (it didn't look too interesting...)
Since we were in the Harrisburg, PA area, Hans was looking for big chimneys that could be the Three Mile Island nuclear power station that is somewhere in this area. We saw "wide" chimney smoke from a distance that could have been it, but we wouldn't know for sure.
Eventually around 6pm we find our motel Eastbrook Inn in Ronks just outside Lancaster. We check in and as we were hungry by now, we pretty much immediately drive out again and to Red Lobster that we saw on the way in. We have wanted to try Red Lobster for a while since we have seen their seductive ads on TV, but wehaven't had the opportunity before.
Our verdict; well Red Lobster is very popular and it's not hard to see why. Hans had a triple prawn combination that was really good. Di had 10 (but should have been 12) deep fried prawns with mash. All tasted pretty good to us, generous portions and reasonably priced too. To make up for the poor counting by the kitchen staff they gave Di a piece of cake "for later".
Nice touch as we could not possibly stuff in more food now.

Spring is evident everywhere - this lovely cherry blossom in full bloom is outside our hotel window.

Another big day finished up with a call from Di to Beverly for her birthday. Bev is in LA visiting family and it is the first time they've spoken directly since we left Oz.

All good and now ready for bed. Good night.

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