Robbie and I had a great time in York PA visiting the family. It was awesome seeing everyone again. We missed them a lot! It’s always nice getting back to York. Hopefully it wont be so long until we get back again. It was time to say goodbye and head back home. It’s a really long drive back to Florida. To break it up a little, we planned a side trip to Washington DC. One of Robbie’s favorite cities. On our way from Florida to York we stopped at Mount Vernon. By the time we arrived it was too late to take a tour. We decided that we would stop at Mount Vernon again on our way to Washington. This time we arrived with plenty of time to take a tour. Due to covid restrictions they were limiting the number of people allow to take a tour of the inside of George Washington’s mansion. Although we could still walk around the grounds and see the farm and the mansion from the outside, they had reached the limit for tours of the inside of the mansion for the day. The admission to Mt. Vernon is fairly expensive. Since we could not see the inside of the mansion, we decided not to take a tour. There is a nice restaurant there next to the gift shop so we had a good lunch before heading into Washington.
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We had booked a room in downtown DC at the Holiday Inn. It was just three blocks from the National Mall, just behind the Air and Space Museum. This was a great location, most of the things we wanted to see were within walking distance. Our rate included come and go parking privileges for the parking garage, very important when visiting DC by car. The hotel was really nice, our room was on the top floor. The room was fairly large and had a sitting area with a sofa. There was also a refrigerator that we made good use of. Along with a view of the inner courtyard we could just see the top of capital dome from our window. There was a rooftop pool, but due to covid, it was closed.
I wanted to see how my new little Fujifilm X100V performed for travel photography. The X100V is a very small camera and easy to carry around. Although it is a small camera, it has all of the features and capabilities of a larger camera, with one, well, two exceptions. The X100V has a the smaller C size sensor (lots of big DSLR cameras have C sized sensors too, so not much of an issue) and a fixed 23mm focal length lens, equivalent to a 35mm focal length lens on my full frame size sensor Nikon (sensor size affects the focal length). I normally use a 24-70mm zoom lens on my Nikon. So the 35mm equivalent focal length lens on the X100V is in the middle of the range that I’m used to using. I was eager to see how being tied to the fixed 35mm (equivalent) focal length would affect my photography. There was still lots of daylight left, so I thought I would walk around and take some photos. When I photograph a place like Washington DC, if I have time, I like to walk around and sort of just follow my nose. I usually have a few things that I want to photograph, but I like to keep things loose. I like to also be able to photograph things that I find along the way. Here, my main targets were the Capitol building and the Washington Monument. If I found something along the way, all the better. I walked a few blocks from the hotel on the way to the Capitol building and found the National Museum of the American Indian. This museum has some really nice architecture. I was having a great time photographing it. This museum was not on my list of places to photograph. Not having a strict itinerary allowed me to spend some time on a found place. Tomorrow will be much different, we have a larger list of places to see, so I won’t have as much time for found places.
After photographing the American Indian Museum, I made my way towards the Capitol Building. It was a really nice evening for a walk through the Nation’s Capital. It was disheartening to see the security fencing around the Capitol Building. The reason why it needed to be there in the first place is even more disheartening. Area closed is not something you want to see around your Capitol. That aside, the Capitol Building was looking very majestic as usual. Thankfully the security fencing has since been removed.
I walked all the way around the Capitol Reflecting Pool then started down the National Mall. There was not a large number of people on the Mall. The people who were on the Mall had been taking part in many activities. They were sitting in the grass relaxing and enjoying the beautiful evening. People were walking, taking in the sights, like me. They were playing games and having fun. Bike riders and rental electric scooter riders were zipping up and down the Mall. A Segway tour passed by. There were people sitting on benches just watching the world go by. It was a great evening to be on the Mall. I was treated to a colorful sunset as I approached the Washington Monument.
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On my way back to the hotel I stumbled onto the Mary Livingston Ripley Garden. The garden is a beautifully landscaped brick walkway between Jefferson Drive and Independence Avenue. It’s part of the gardens surrounding the Smithsonian Arts and Industries building, the prominent 1800s redbrick building along the National Mall. The Air and Space Museum was undergoing a renovation and had construction fencing around parts of it. I poked my camera through the fence and I was able to get a photo of the Delta Solar sculpture. Just a block from the hotel I passed the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial with a nice view of the Capital Building. I had fun walking around the Nations Capital taking photos. I was very happy with the performance of my little Fujifilm X100V. Occasionally I needed to reposition myself to frame an image. With my 24-70mm I would have been able to simply zoom. For the most part thought I was working well with the fixed focal length. The camera was really nice to carry around, I felt very light and free. I just had the small camera, with an extra battery and lens cloth in my pocket.
During our recent trip to York PA, Robbie and I took walks on the York County Heritage Rail trail. This is a great trail for riding a bike or walking. On our last walks we visited the Howard Tunnel and Hanover Junction. This time we started our walk South of Seven Valleys in Glen Rock PA. Glen Rock is another quintessential American small town along the rail trail. Most of the rail trail is pretty flat. Glen Rock is in a valley surrounded by rocky hills and dotted with small farms. Heading south out of Glen Rock there is an uphill grade. Trains from the 1800s did not like going uphill so it’s not a very steep grade, but it does give your legs an extra workout.
My great uncle Roy lived in Glen Rock. I remember visiting with my grand parents when I was a kid. They lived in an old three-story farm house. The house was built into the side of the hill, so the lower level was partly under ground but the front was exposed. This was not a basement but additional living space. My aunt and uncle lived in this lower level. They were avid antique collectors. The upper floors of the house were jam packed full of antiques as well as the barn. I always enjoyed looking at them when we visited. I especially liked the old organs; they had several. They were huge, well huge for a six year old boy. They had ornate oak cabinets with lots of keys and buttons. Their house was like walking into an early 1900s parlor.
Many generations ago the Thoman family immigrated from Bubendorf, Switzerland to southern York County. Several years ago Robbie and I visited Bubendorf. I was amazed at the similarities between Bubendorf and Glen Rock. Bubendorf is a small town in a valley surrounded by rocky hills and dotted with small farms. It was easy to see why the Thoman’s chose southern York County.
The lane to my uncle’s house is right next to the rail trail. The last time we walked the trail in Glen Rock we could see a little of my uncle’s old house through the trees. This time it was too overgrown. We could not see the house. Keeping with the bicycle art theme all along the trail, there are some old bikes in a garden and a big dog sculpture made of old bike parts.
While Robbie and I are visiting York PA, we like to take walks on the York County Heritage Rail Trail. The trail is a 20 plus mile long trail through southern York County. We like this trail because it’s very scenic with lots of things to look at along the way. In the heat of the summer the trail is covered in shade by trees on both sides of the trail. The shade keeps it nice and cool while walking the trail. The other day we walked from the Brillhart Station parking lot to the Howard Tunnel. We wanted to walk a different section of the trail, so today we started from the Seven Valleys trail parking lot. We walked South past Hanover Junction for about two miles before returning to the Seven Valleys parking lot.
The rail trail winds its way through 200 year old small town America. It’s like a trip back in time before suburbs and urban sprawl. Seven Valleys is one of those small towns, population 517. There are several bike themed art pieces all along the trail. The Seven Valleys parking area has three large bike sculptures. There is also a building with old bikes mounted to a wall. There is an antique store that probably has that amazing piece you have been looking for. Back when I rode my bike on the trail, it was more of a general store. On my way back home I would stop for a snack and a drink. Seven Valleys is known for cigars and ice cream.
Just past Seven Valleys is Hanover Junction. In Hanover Junction the Northern Central Railroad line split and headed west to Hanover PA. Trains would either go west to Hanover or continue north to Harrisburg. Abraham Lincoln passed through Hanover Junction twice. The first time he was on his way to Gettysburg, to give the Gettysburg address. There was an infamous photograph that was said to be Lincoln at Hanover Junction on his way to Gettysburg. It has been determined that it was not Lincoln. Photo or not, his train did stop in Hanover junction. The second time, his funeral train passed through Hanover Junction on the way to Harrisburg PA. The train station has been restored to look the way it did in the mid 1800s. There is a small museum inside. It is currently closed due to covid. Outside there is a small butterfly garden full of butterflies. There is a man and horse sculpture, sculpted from old bicycle frames and parts.
The other day we noticed new railroad ties laying along the tracks all of the way from Brillhart Station to the Howard Tunnel. Today we ran into the railroad tie machine in Seven Valleys. There is a steam excursion train that is based at the New Freedom train station. New Freedom is the southern most town in PA along the trail, close to the Maryland line. They have been running the excursion train for several years. They needed to do an extensive rail restoration in order to be able to run the train. The restoration work was completed north as far as Hanover Junction. The train has been running from New Freedom to Hanover Junction and back. After the track is renovated into York, the train will run from New Freedom to York. That will be a really nice train ride!
The York County Heritage Rail trail is a 20 plus mile rails to trails project. The trail winds its way through scenic southern York county. It follows the old Northern Central Railroad line. The NCR served Harrisburg PA and points north and south through York County to Washington DC. It was an important freight and passenger route from 1838 to 1972. The rail line was abandoned for many years, in 1990 one of the two sets of tracks was removed. Starting with an Eagle Scout project from two Boy Scouts, the rail bed from the removed rails were transformed into the Heritage Rail Trail.
When I lived in York the trail started in the middle of downtown York. It goes a little farther north now. The trail is a multi use trail it’s great for walking, jogging, bike riding and horse riding. No motor vehicles allowed. I would ride my bike from my house on the east side of town to the beginning of the trail downtown. Depending on how I was feeling that day, I would ride 8 to 15 miles south and then turn around and go back to the house. I really enjoyed riding the Heritage Rail Trail. When Robbie and I visit York we like to walk the trail as much as we can. My parents live a short distance from the Brillhart Station trail parking lot. We parked in the lot and walked just under two miles to the Howard Tunnel.
The Howard tunnel is a 275-foot brick lined tunnel with stone facades. It’s a pretty cool looking tunnel and worth the walk to get to it. It can be a bit creepy to walk through with water dripping on your head. It’s not quite long enough to be too dark. When you get far enough into the tunnel you start to see the light from the other side. It’s only a little bit dark in the middle. The York County Heritage Rail Trail is my favorite trail!