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With gasoline prices above $3 a gallon the past couple years, the idea of spending vacation at home — a staycation — has become very popular.

So popular, in fact, that I’ve done just that the past couple years. I saved myself a lot of gasoline, plus the cost of overnight lodging, food, and I’ve gotten a few things done around my home.

But this fall I decided I needed to get away for a while. After all, I work from home most of the time, so it’s good to get out.

I packed my small Chevy Cobalt full of clothes and camping gear and headed east — across Pennsylvania and part of Maryland.

My furthest destination was Gettysburg, about a five-and-a half-hour drive from my home in Wooster, Ohio. But I wanted to see some things along the way, so I made stops in places like Irwin, Ligonier, Bedford and Blue Knob State Park.

Viewing history

I got to see where Flight 93 went down near Shanksville. It was a long drive back the federal park lane leading to the crash site. It was a cold and rainy day, but no comparison to the struggles of the many who died there.

The names of the deceased were printed on a stone memorial wall and I spent some time reading them and imagining the life-changing events of that day.

That same night, I stayed in a hotel in Bedford, because it was too wet to camp. In the morning, I drove to Blue Knob State Park and to the top of the mountain. It’s the second highest mountain in Pennsylvania, and my tiny car reminded me as it began to overheat two-thirds of the way up.

But I made it, and I was glad I did because there were some beautiful hiking trails throughout the peak, along with many far-reaching views. I made just one mistake in that I forgot my trail map in the car, but I had memorized enough of it before setting out that I eventually found my way back.

I did not see any bears but I did hear a few large birds take off occasionally, which I guessed were turkeys. They flew from the trees so fast and making so much noise that I got a little nervous. I had some bear protection with me, but the sudden, unexpected sound did get my heart’s attention.

Battlegrounds

I arrived in Gettysburg on the second day of my trip and the rain was back, so I visited a few of the indoor museums and stayed indoors at the Super 8. The next morning, the sun was out, so I spent several hours walking around the battlefield and trying to piece together how it all unfolded. It is an amazing experience to walk the same grounds where thousands of men fought and died, and to see the memorial markers that tell the story so well.

I also visited the newly-opened Gettysburg museum, where I saw dozens of historical pictures and exhibits, and the acclaimed Gettysburg cyclorama — where you watch the battle reenacted in a 360-degree painting and theatrical show. It was well worth the money, and the time.

I spent that night at a campsite in Gettysburg, camping inside my tent and cooking over a large fire I built.

The third day, I traveled through Hagerstown Maryland, and westward through Frostburg and Cumberland, until I reached the Ohiopyle State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania. It was raining lightly again, so instead of putting up my tent, I rented a small cabbin/cottage.

Keeping warm

I was surprised to find that it also had an indoor heater, which I found useful as the temperatures dipped into the 30s. I spent the rest of my trip hiking and sightseeing.

It was good to be away for a while and to see such beautiful country. A large part of our readership is in Pennsylvania and it was neat getting to drive by some of the same farms where our newspaper is read. Pennsylvania definitely has some beautiful places and I got to see just a few.

Chris Kick lives in Wooster, Ohio. An American FFA Degree recipient, he holds a bachelor’s in creative writing from Ashland University. He spends his free time on his grandparents’ farms in Wayne and Holmes counties.
Chris Kick
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