Our Maine Event: Of Driving and Donuts and the Flitting of Fireflies

6 08 2017

7/16/17 Day 10: Drove to Ravensburg State Park, PA.  512 mi./8 hr. 40 min. 

All good Southerners know that in addition to the Mason-Dixon Line, there is a Sweet Tea Line, that imaginary line that on the South side means when you order tea, you automatically get sweet tea.  I would also like to present for your consideration the Donut Line.

In Aiken, as in most southern cities, there are Dunkin’ Donuts, but also Krispy Kreme Donuts.  Both are delicious, but it is the Krispy Kreme that people become fanatical about, my husband being one of them.  His dream job upon retirement was to work at Krispy Kreme.  Well, that didn’t happen, but his daughter did give him a Krispy Kreme ball cap and Krispy Kreme lip balm.  And a couple of times in our travels, people commented on his hat and shared stories of their own KK addictions.  However, upon traveling north of Virginia, we started noticing lots of Dunkin’ Donuts, but there were no Krispy Kremes to be found.  Sensing a divide in tastes and loyalties, in our travels today we decided that we’d better find out what we were missing.  We stopped at a Dunkin’ Donut shop and ordered a few.  They were good, just not the melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness that one gets when inhaling a Krispy Kreme.  We thought things over from a cultural standpoint and came to the following conclusion: Being as how it is so cold up North, the people must find it necessary to imbibe massive quantities of hot coffee, dipping their donuts into their beverages so as to warm them up.  Now, a denser pastry is needed for this practice, as a KK would most likely dissolve immediately.  Which is probably the rationale behind their name: Dunkin’ Donuts.  Although this theory does not explain why the closest Krispy Kreme to us was in Quebec.

Deep thoughts such as this fueled our long travel days, and this would be one of them.  We traveled from Maine through New Hampshire, then Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and finally to Pennsylvania.  The names of towns along the way were a constant reminder of the immigrant history of our country: Holland, Worcester,  New Britain.  And of course, the Pennsylvania Dutch.  On two occasions as we traveled country roads through Pennsylvania, we encountered Amish families in horse-drawn carriages.  We saw several Mennonite families outside their homes.  The beautiful old farms with lush fields of corn or other crops…well, we would have missed all this had we flown.

Ravensburg State Park was located just outside of Raunchville, PA.  No kidding.  I can only imagine the jokes the local kids have to endure.  The campground was virtually empty so we had our choice of sites.  It was beautiful, with a creek nearby and tall conifers all around.  I was, however, a little annoyed at the pricing: $18 for residents, $23 for out of state, and a $5 “transaction fee.”  Yes, we had to pay a fee for paying a fee.  Even though we paid in cash.  And this for a tent site with no water or electricity, although the showers were free.  Grrrr…

Ravensburg State Park, PA

But I got over it and we went for a walk down the road.  Ahead we could see a picnic shelter.  But wait, something was moving around in it, something large and bulky. BEAR!  Back in the safety of our car, we looked through our binoculars.  Slightly red-faced, we realized that it was just a couple of people in the shelter.  Dang.

That night, I used $28 worth of hot water in my shower.  When I finally walked out of the bathhouse, it was dark.  And I encountered something that more than made up for the unfair pricing.  Hundreds of fireflies were putting on a show, lighting in unison as they flew upwards, then dimming, then lighting again upwards. Synchronous fireflies!  I had heard of their well-attended displays in the Great Smoky Mountain and Congaree National Parks–in the Smokies they even have a Firefly Shuttle to try to manage the crowds.  But I had these all to myself–priceless!  I sat on a log and watched the festivities in my front-row seat in awe.

Cool night, quiet but for the gurgling creek and wind in the treetops, and a magical light show to boot.  I felt sorry for those stuck in hotels.

7/17/17 Day 11: Drove to Cuyahoga Valley National Park. 260 mi./4 hr.

One perk to asking the ranger to explain the “transaction fee” was that she bent over backwards to tell us all about the wonders of Ravensburg State Park.  Built by the CCC in the 1930s, a series of steps fed water into a pool.

Ravensburg State Park, PA (3)

And up an unmarked path, a geologic oddity: Castle Rock, known only to locals and now, to one couple from S.C.  And so, before heading off Ohio way, we climbed boulder after boulder until we could see the sun peeking into the valley below.

On to our next destination.  Cuyahoga Valley National Park above Akron, Ohio, was and still is a bit of a mystery to us.  We had never heard of it before but had decided it would make a good place to explore on our way to Mammoth Caves where we would meet up with our friends the McMurtries and our nephew Nate.  Other than half a dozen primitive sites that were already booked at CVNP, campgrounds nearby were a scarcity.  We found one online, but when we got there we found nothing more than just a field in a county park with a couple of “blue rooms” the only amenities.  So we finally found ourselves in Hidden Valley Campground in a Deluxe Cabin which, for $50 a night, had a bed, a table, AC, and a fridge.  But no bathroom.  Sigh.

Sleeping in a tent in the company of fireflies would have been preferable.

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Found on the path to Castle Rock, this is how to engage kids in nature!