Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Take the 24 in 24 Clearfield Challenge: Can You Do Them All?



I've visited Clearfield County three times now, and I'm impressed by how much there is to see and do there! From dinosaurs to cars to Civil War history, cute b&bs, some fab food, a bloody cabin, and hiking, biking and kayaking! You'll find plenty there to keep you busy!




Take the "24 in 24 Challenge," below. 24 great things to see and do, 24 hours... can you do them all?*


  1. Bike along the David Ammerman Rail Trail
  2. Walk along Clearfield's very own Riverwalk
  3. Visit the Devil's Kitchen at Bilger Rocks
  4. Find your treasure at Historica Plus
  5. Drool over a 1948 Allard at the Grice Museum
  6. Be kinder at Bee Kind Winery
  7. Listen to a bull elk bugle at the Winslow Hill Viewing Center
  8. Eat an elk burger at the Benezette Hotel
  9. Canoe the West Branch Susquehanna River
  10. Enjoy tea at the Strawberry Tree Teahouse
  11. Sip wine on the hill at Starr Hill Winery
  12. Discover why the Bloody Knox Cabin was so bloody
  13. Enjoy a 10-pound hamburger at Denny's Beer Barrel Pub
  14. Sample a crisp beer at the Boxcar Pub
  15. Enjoy views of the Susquehanna at the Victorian Lofts Bed and Breakfast
  16. Try on an old hat at the Historical Society Museum
  17. Remember a man's dog at Elliott's Park
  18. Play with dinosaurs at Depot at Doolittles
  19. Look an elk in the eye at the Elk Country Visitors Center
  20. Kayak at Shaggers Inn Recreational Area
  21. Hike the back country at the Quehanna National Recreational Area
  22. Spend the night at Roads End (Bed and Breakfast)!
  23. Pay homage to the largest stand of white birch on the East Coast at the Marion Brooks Natural Area
  24. Sleep in the same bed Teddy Roosevelt slept in at Depot at Doolittles




* Nah, it took me six days!!







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Saturday, October 19, 2019

Explore the Odd and Creepy at Ripley's Believe It or Not Odditorium

3D masks that look as if they're looking at you.


You have permission to stare.

This T-Rex sculpture is made out of Pop-Tart foil...believe it or not!

Ripley's Believe It or Not Odditorium has the weird, bizarre and just plain odd. Looking for a life-sized T-Rex made out of pop-tart foil? Then look no further, because the Odditorium has one.

Ripley's offers a large-scale maze of mirrors, but there was also a smaller room that was so much fun!


You are alternately struck with awe, amazed by people's ingenuity, or grossed out. Your morbid curiosity will be satisfied.

A Victorian funerary wreath made of wool and feathers.


See lily shoes -- the impossibly tiny shoes made to fit upper-class Chinese women's feet, purposely deformed to into tiny triangles.

This donkey sculpture is made of junk.


See a man and a donkey made out of junk.

This robot, which actually moves, is made from car parts.


See a robot made out of car parts.

A giant Lincoln penny made of... Lincoln pennies.


See shrunken heads from South America, weird presidential memorabilia (locks of Washington's hair and pieces of his clothing, a giant Lincoln penny made of pennies), personalized light shows...

Chinese Han Dynasty jade burial suit.


The Odditorium has 10 galleries chock full of the weird, strange, and bizarre, and it's a really fun place for kids -- and the kid in you -- and serves as an entertaining and somewhat ridiculous counterpoint to the more serious attractions nearby.

Two kids and their dad played gleefully in the personalized light show room.


I played in the lights like the two children who were in there before me.

Know before you go: There are a number of public and private parking lots and garages near the Inner Harbor. You can even find free spots in Canton Park, but it's a bit of a walk to Harbor Place. The least expensive parking garage we found was $20 per day, next to the Baltimore Regency Hyatt across the street from Harbor Place, and that's where we usually ended up parking. However, check out Parking Locations in Baltimore for more options.

Getting there: 301 Light St Light St. Pavillion, Baltimore, MD 21202

Hours: Monday - Thursday 10 a.m. - 9 p.m., Friday - Saturday 10 a.m. - 10 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. - 7 p.m.

Website: https://www.ripleys.com/baltimore/






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A coffin made of cigarettes.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Wicomico's Whitehaven Hotel



The Whitehaven Hotel, sitting serenely on the banks of the Wicomico River, offers weary travelers a place to de-stress in rural Wicomico County.



Its stately exterior hides over a century of secrets: the building started out as a modest residence in 1810 adjacent to the Whitehaven Ferry, one of the oldest publicly run ferries in the U.S. 



At the time, Whitehaven was still looking forward to its hey day of the late 1800s, when what is now a very sleepy village of some 26 homes was a vibrant riverfront community with shipyards, a canning factory, a new school and church, and several stores. It's hard to imagine now.



By the 1880s, steamboat travelers disembarking at the Whitehaven wharf created a demand for temporary lodging, and the modest two-and-a-half story residence was enlarged and converted to a hotel. An adjacent store building was moved and attached to enlarge the hotel, and the building received a mansard roof and wrap-around porch. 

Wine and cheese are served in the afternoons.


A decade later, and wings were attached, and again two decades after that, the hotel enlarged again. Eventually, the building housed a general store, telegraph office, post office, and saloon. 

The view from the third floor balcony/roof patio.


But as the steamboat era closed in the 1930s, Whitehaven’s waterfront industry slowed, enjoying a brief resurgence during WWI, but by the end of WWII, the village had became a backwater, and the hotel once again became a private residence.



Vacant between 1982 and 1994, several well-meaning but misguided attempts to restore the building after decades of neglect did even more damage, and it was on the verge of demolition, but several preservationists rescued the building, and returned the Whitehaven Hotel to its glory and it re-opened in 1997 as a bed and breakfast inn.

The parlor is the oldest part of the inn.


There is so much to do for those staying at the bed and breakfast inn, without getting into your vehicle. The roads nearby the inn are flat and very uncrowded, inviting cyclists to venture out to explore the salt flats across the river (simply take the free ferry ride over) or the marshes and farmland on the same side of the river as the inn.



There's an interesting bike ride route: the Ferry to Ferry Ride, about 25 miles long.

Geese on the Wicomico River.


There's also kayaking along the Wicomico River itself (ask the innkeeper about the tides), but even with the tides, if you hug the shore and venture up into the inlets or creeks feeding the river, you'll find plenty of interesting scenery for a hours of happy paddling.









For dinner, just three miles away, there's the Red Roost and when the weather is lovely, the Bull-Lips Dock Bar and Grill, right on the banks of the Wicomico River, where you can watch the water flow by to the sounds of local bands, sipping an Orange Crush.

On a beautiful evening, the fire-pit is lit and the chairs inviting at Bull-Lips Dock Bar.





Oh, and have I mentioned it's haunted? <squeals with delight> We weren't in this lovely Victorian bed and breakfast inn five minutes before we learned that it might be haunted. The innkeeper recounted numerous experiences, including hearing a child laugh, hand-prints on a bed she'd just made, and other ghostly high-jinks that seemed to indicate a young prankster of a ghost. She recounted the story of a young girl drowning in the waters nearby (the inn is almost completely surrounded by water, as a marshy creek flows behind the inn's back parking lots).

One of the two beds in "Rob's Room"

I had my pendulum in my camera bag, from a previous ghost hunting experience, so we decided to have a mini-ghost hunt in our room. Through a question and answer session, the pendulum indicated we were chatting with a 13-year-old girl, who was not alone -- there also was another female spirit who was unfriendly to the 13-year-old spirit but liked the visitors to the inn.



The young spirit -- or possibly the older female one -- indicated she was waiting, not for her parents or siblings, but for a young man, who had NOT gone away because of a war but possibly died in a boating or fishing boat accident. When we tried to figure out the ghost's name, the pendulum spelled out "me."



But what's even odder, is that my friend recounted feeling someone play with her hair during the night. We stayed in "Rob's Room" with its two single beds in opposite corners. I slept soundly and oblivious in my corner!



Gourmet breakfasts are served in the dining room each morning. We delighted in the Dutch baby pancake covered with sauteed peaches, served alongside scrambled eggs and bacon.



Innkeeper Cindy happily shared her recipe for the Dutch baby with us!

4 eggs
1 cup milk (2% or whole)
1 tsp lemon extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Mix eggs in blender at high speed for 1 minute. Slowly add milk and lemon extract. Slowly add flowur (one tablespoon at a time). Let rest for 1 to 2 minutes. Add butter in 7-inch pie plate or cast iron skillet and heat in oven until butter melts. Pour egg mixture into the pie plate or skillet and bake 20 - 25 minutes. Baby should puff and turn golden brown. 4 servings.




Getting there: 2685 Whitehaven Rd, Quantico, MD 21856

Website: http://whitehavenhotel.com/





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Saturday, October 12, 2019

24 Things to Do in 24 Hours in Lynchburg



Located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains along the banks of the James River, Lynchburg is known as the "City of Seven Hills." It's a city nestled in its surroundings. If you're a history buff, you've come to the right place -- there's history galore here. Interestingly, it's a Southern city grappling with its history, both acknowledging and coming to terms with its record on Jim Crow, desegregation, and Civil Rights.

There's a lot of there, there. In addition to history and its historical sites and great restaurants, the city offers over 40 miles of bike and walking paths, and of course, there's the James River and all that offers!



Learn more about much of what Lynchburg has to offer below!






There is so much to see and do in the historic town of Lynchburg! Take the "24 in 24 Challenge," below. 24 hours... can you do them all?*

1. Sample cider donuts at Mama Crocketts Donut Shop.
2. Find your wings on Main Street.
3. Pose in a LOVE shoe at the Craddock Terry Hotel.
4. Take a ride in a bateau on the James River.
5. Pet Duke the Dog at My Dog Duke's Dinner.
6. Fall in love with a Victorian house on Garland Hill.
7. Climb all seven of Lynchburg's seven hills.
8. Get married in the chapel in the Old City Cemetery (no, seriously, it's done!)
9. Stroll along the Lower Bluff Walk.
10. Fall in love at the red LOVE sculpture.
11. Take a selfie with Lynchburg's astronaut, Leland Melvin.
12. Pay your respects to Lynchburg's dearly departed at the Presbyterian Cemetery.
13. Sample the Bourbon Punch at Bootleggers & Bourbon.
14. Tip your hat to one of Lynchburg's "sporting ladies," Lizzie Langley.
15. Put on your blue suede shoes at Shoemakers American Grille.
16. Check out one of Lynchburg's more than 20 murals!
17. Find your treasure at the Community Market (open Tuesday - Saturday).
18. Toast the rooftops of Lynchburg on top of the Virginian Hotel at the Skyline Grill.
19. Play your favorite tune at one of the city pianos.
20. Discover Lynchburg's connection to the Harlem Renaissance at the Anne Spencer House and Garden.
21. Eat a taco at El Jefe's Garaje.
22. Discover the honorable Dr. Cabel's devastating secret at Point of Honor Mansion.
23. Sin at CinnCity Buns.
24. Discover Lottie's secret chair at the Arts Academy Theater.
25. Ride your bike along Percival's Island Rail Trail.
26. Learn how disease was controlled at the Pest House Museum.
27. Climb all 132 steps of Monument Street.**



Look for articles in the coming months about these daytrip destinations. Lynchburg is a quaint town just brimming with history. With interesting restaurants, many fun outdoor activities, and lots of antiques stores and boutiques, there's something for everyone!



For more fun things to do and see in Lynchburg, click here.






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* Nah. It took me three days!
**Three extras, just for good measure!


This trip was sponsored by the Lynchburg VA Tourist Bureau. Although the visit was
hosted, what we chose to write about and the opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Poplar Hill Mansion



Poplar Hill Mansion is the oldest house in Salisbury. The federal-style house was built in 1795 and was home to Dr. Huston and his wife Sarah and later, the Waller family, who lived in the mansion from 1882 to 1945. The City of Salisbury has owned the property since 1974 as a house museum in public trust.


Poplar Hill Mansion deals quite frankly with the Hustons and their enslavement of individuals. Transition hallways between the parlor and Dr. Huston's surgery are pointed out as a place where enslaved individuals might have waited to be called, hidden from sight and forgotten until needed.



Woven into the discussion of Dr. Huston's surgery (and why we know it was his surgery) and what medical care looked like in the early 1800s, you learn that it's likely that Dr. Huston had educated at least one enslaved man to help him manage the books and help him.


The tour progresses into a holding room, so called because food from the kitchen, which was not connected to the house, would be held there until ready to be served in the dining room.



During the tour, you visit the nursery on the second floor, and you learn about colonial attitudes toward children: best to be neither seen nor heard. Apparently a young enslaved girl helped care for the girls. Oral history indicates her name was Sarah. As you stand in the room, the tour guide draws your attention to burns on the floor and a curious leather patch in the floorboards. The damage, according to the oral history, occurred when young Sarah swept too closely to the fire, and her skirts became engulfed in flames. Sadly, Sarah died that day.



The tour brings you up into the attic, where the house museum is in the process of recreating the sleeping quarters of the enslaved individuals who lived on the property. Although 16 enslaved individuals lived and worked on the property, only eight or ten lived in the attic, which also has a loft area the enslaved men, women and children could climb up to go to bed.

The holding room.

Although not much is known about the enslaved individuals who lived and worked on the property, the Poplar Hill Mansion is seeking a grant to hire a researcher to find information about the names and lives of those the Hustons enslaved.



Sarah Meyers, the docent who provided us the tour and museum's curator, tells the story of how a woman, of African American heritage, whose family came from the Salisbury area, came to the house. After hearing about how the enslaved individuals lived in the attic, she asked if she could touch the ladder, one of the only original items in the house and which most likely was the same ladder the enslaved men, women and children would have climbed every night to go to bed. Given permission to do so, she actually teared up at this physical connection with those enslaved on the property.



The house is beautiful and is being restored. Furnishings reflect the period but are not original to the house. In the 1980s, a local antique store owner provided furnishings in exchange for the publicity. It served both the house museum and the antique store well, and when the store owner passed away, she left the house museum the furnishings.

And, it's haunted!

Meyers doesn't mind visitors to the historic home asking about ghosts. "If you think about it, it's simply another way to experience this amazing house," she said. We had to ask. And she told us about hearing heavy, tired footsteps on the stairs, as if Dr. Huston was coming home after a visit, and whistling, but a tune from the 1800s, one that modern day whistlers wouldn't be likely to know.



She also hears children giggling and playing, and in fact, the nursery is considered the most haunted room of the house. She has ample opportunity to hear these ghostly happenings -- she lives right across the hall from the nursery in private apartments.



Part of her responsibilities is to keep the house tidy and clean, but the one room she doesn't have to clean, ever, is the nursery. It seems that someone -- or something -- keeps the room dust free, still taking care of the room and the children in Poplar Hill Mansion.



Getting there: 117 Elizabeth St, Salisbury, MD 21801

Hours: Tours every Sunday from 1 – 4 p.m. Admission is free on Sundays. Tours may also be scheduled on other days and times, by appointment, and are $5 per person. Please call ahead for availability. Closed Mondays, Tuesdays, and major holidays.

Website: http://www.poplarhillmansion.org/




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