|View from welcome center|
Another cool cloudy day arrived but we were not afraid – we had places to go – things to see! We drove up and around Tioga once more, past the manicured green lawns that covered the dams that divided the two reservoirs. Our first stop was the Pennsylvania Welcome Center on Rt 15. The sprawling brick building sat high on the hill that overlooked the small town, the massive dam, the two end to end bodies of dark water, the high banked sides of the weir that kept the acidic water of Tioga lake from entering the waters of Hammond Lake and the campground nestled on the velvety green and gold banks in the distance.
Back in the truck we drove down and thru Mansfield and turned right and headed west to find Wellsboro. When you walk the quaint streets of downtown Wellsboro, the feeling that you have stepped back in time slowly covers you. On the main thoroughfare, gas lamps in the boulevard flicker just like they did 200 years ago. Surrounding their black wrought iron bases were tall corn stalks with bright orange pumpkins at their feet which set the mood for the Mid October day. On the sides of the wide street were well cared for and preserved buildings – like the 1939 Sterling Diner car that sits on the corner of Main and East Ave. – or the 1921 Arcadia Theatre, - or the Deane Center for the Performing Arts, - or the Dunham Department store. The town is also known for it’s Dickens Christmas but we can’t stay here that long!
Wellsboro is also called the starting point for the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania. Our last visit was in the summer and was from the seat of a motorcycle. As we drove the winding narrow blacktopped road this time, neither of us remembered any of it! As we descended from the truck and approached the deep, wide gorge – we realized why. We had been on the opposite side of the canyon! Whether it was because it was now fall and the colors were so very vibrant, we both agreed that this east rim at the Leonard Harrison State Park was the best side to enjoy the view of the valley and Pine River far below! I couldn’t stop taking “one more” picture from each new step and each new angle of view! Ohhhs and Ahhhs also abounded!
|Morning fog lifting|
Then came the foreboding weather forecast that hinted of the winter “S” word! Rather than be involved in inclement weather that far from home – we chose to pack up and head towards the west and closer to Michigan. One mile led to another and we crossed the Ohio-Pennsylvania line. Our first attempt to stop for the day ended up with us being turned away from a full campground. On a THURSDAY? In October?? Yes – because it was an OFFICIAL Halloween weekend! Needless to say it was well after dark and in a drizzling rain when we finally backed the train into an empty site in Findley State Park just east of Norwalk Ohio. Holding the flashlight high and shining it down onto my white baseball hat, gave H a good target to aim for when he was backing up in the pitch-black darkness!
Findley State Park occupies 838 acres of thick woods, complete with hiking trails and a small lake and is just 2 miles south of yet another quaint historic town – Wellington. On our way home, the road choice was the Norwalk bypass or business route 23 thru the heart of this small town that we had been passed a million times but had never been “thru” it. Thankfully the truck wheels were kept straight and we even managed to find a parking spot long enough for us to park on the main street in bustling downtown. Historic downtown Norwalk is home to Berry’s Restaurant which was established in 1946 and is still owned by the same family. The present restaurant is part of the original St Charles Hotel that was built in 1867. One of the dining rooms was once a confectionery store, one was a cigar store and the 3rd was a Singer Sewing machine store. Good service and great food! The closer we came to Toledo, the darker the clouds became. Luck was with us and we skirted around the heavy bank of dark clouds as we crossed the Veterans Memorial Skyway Bridge and made the last few miles to Michigan without getting wet.