Saturday, October 26, 2019

Kayaking at Shaggers Inn

I love going kayaking where the only sound is the breeze rustling through the trees and a distant hawk screeching into the sky.

Shaggers Inn -- a local secret -- is just such a place.

Shaggers Inn is remote -- deep within Moshannon State Forest -- and isolated. It's also a bit difficult to find, unless you're driving with a local who knows the area. You will see no signs directing you to the place, although Waze and Googlemaps found it just fine.

This is well off the beaten path and well worth the drive away from civilization, the only reminders of which are of course, the camps you pass along the road. During hunting season, this is a busy place!

Shaggers Inn is located near S.B. Elliott and Parker Dam State Parks in Clearfield County, PA. The wetland contains one of the few nesting areas in Pennsylvania for osprey. Waterfowl is common in spring and fall. The surrounding Moshannon State Forest is an excellent place to find birds such as scarlet tanager, purple finch, and wild turkey. Other wildlife around the wetlands includes beaver, black bear, and white-tailed deer.

We were there on an early fall day. The osprey had departed for the season, and there were no eagles either, to our disappointment. But several hawk called out, a wild sound that sent shivers up my spine.

The quiet was exquisite. A small pond, I often just sat floating, letting the wind and the waves rock me as I soaked up the sun, enjoying a bit of warmth on an otherwise cool day.

I wanted to float there for hours.

Possibly, we did!

Getting there: Take Dubois Rockton Rd, US-322 E and PA-153 N to Old Rte 153 in Penfield; Turn right onto Old Rte 153; slight left onto 4 Mile Road; continue onto McGeorge Rd; turn right to stay on McGeorge Rd; Turn right onto Caledonia Pike; turn left onto Shaggers Inn Road. To launch kayaks, instead of turning left onto Shaggers Inn Road, keep going 100 yards or so on Caledonia Pike and turn into the first left turn -- you'll see the pond.

Hours: Dawn to dusk. Kayaking/canoeing on the pond is forbidden during the osprey nesting season, April - end of May.

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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.


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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


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