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Camping in Rural Pennsylvania


I had been wanting to get in at least one more camping adventure before the really cold weather arrived.  Chris and I were planning on going to Hawk Mountain over the weekend…a place that both of us had wanted to go to for a while, but had never been.  It’s currently the season for raptor migration so it’s definitely the best time to go.  I managed to convince him that we should go camping at Locust Lake State Park, about 50 minutes from Hawk Mountain.  I’d never heard of this State Park, but the photos looked nice.  After running some errands on Saturday morning, we were in the car on our way to the park.  Everything was about an hour and a half to two hours from Philadelphia so it wasn’t that far away.  We picked out a campsite and set up our tent before heading out to dinner.  We didn’t think that we’d find a good restaurant anywhere nearby, but we had a fabulous dinner at a somewhat upscale restaurant in Pottsville called The Greystone Restaurant.  Honestly, it was probably the only upscale restaurant in Pottsville or maybe even a 30 mile radius.  After we had full bellies, we headed back to the campground to start a campfire and make s’mores for dessert and being geeks with our headlamps.  It was a cold night, but I prefer that.


In the morning, we packed everything up and then headed out for Hawk Mountain, stopping at a small old hotel for some breakfast.  It was a beautiful day outside and we were ready to see some raptors!  We arrived there and hiked to the first lookout….and then the second.  I was in a crabby mood.  I didn’t find Hawk Mountain as appealing as I thought it would be.  Granted, the weather wasn’t right for birds, but even on a bad day, I’ve seen more birds at hidden gem lookouts closer to Philly.  I guess there are some other perks about Hawk Mountain, but I couldn’t see that it was all that much better.  Maybe on a good day.  Nevertheless, the weather was nice and it was really funny (and cool) to see so many people looking for birds.


We made a stop at the New Bethel Cemetery that I had first visited with Albert and Steve.  It was a sunny day and not nearly as spooky as the foggy, cold day when we had visited in May.

We stopped at Cabela’s on our way home.  Neither of us had been there either.  Chris bought thermal pants.  I bought…FUDGE.  Yes, FUDGE.  Who would have guessed that Cabela’s has awesome fudge, but they do.  So if you go there, go to the fudge shop because it’s AWESOME.




Day 4: A Cold and Rainy Day

First of all, I finally added some photos to the Day 2 post.

My first night of camping on Saturday night was awesome. It was cold, but I loved it and slept like a log for the most part. I woke up a couple of times because my sleeping bag was so warm that I was sweating. I showered and the prepared to leave. The showers and bathrooms at the campground were awesome and so clean. I don’t think I’ve ever been at such a clean campground before, but then again, the peak season really hasn’t begun yet.

I knew that the forecast was showing rain, but I was preparing to go explore Mt. Desert Island and Acadia…and take some photos. Well, right as I was about to leave the campground, I got to chatting with some of the guys from the campground. The one man, Scott, was hosting the 10th annual Acadia Birding Festival. I had heard that the birding festival was happening, but didn’t know exactly when. Just so happens that it was happening while I was in town and yesterday was the last day of it. They were going on a whale/bird cruise yesterday and Scott had taken me under his wing to take me along on the cruise. Thanks, Scott!

I had to be in Bar Harbor for the cruise so I decided to grab some breakfast before heading over. I had pancakes with Maine wild blueberries. yum!

There was a group of about 8 of us who were going on the cruise that was being led by Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company. It was a pretty large boat for a whale watch. This was the fifth whale watch I had been on (3 in California and 2 in Alaska), but the first one I’d been on here on the east coast. In the past, I’d seen an amazing Humpback whale display in California that probably no whale watch could top. And I’d seen Orcas (killer whales) in Alaska, which is supposedly pretty rare. But I was really excited to see other possible whales and sea birds that I hadn’t seen before….with a group of Maine birders who knew what they were looking at.

We no sooner go on the water and saw a bald eagle. We saw a humpback that has been identified as Gemini who has been spotted in the area every year since 1977. He hung around our boat for a while so we saw some tail displays. We also saw a North Atlantic right whale in the distance, which was really cool, and I guess also rare. We also saw a bunch of seals and porpoises.

We passed Egg Rock and lighthouse, which is supposedly a good breeding ground for pelagic birds.

We reached Petit Manan, which is a famous breeding ground for puffins and other sea birds. And yes, I finally saw a puffin. There were hundreds of them and it was amazing! We couldn’t get too close, but close enough that you could spot them and they’d fly right by the boat. So cool! I was so excited about seeing the birds that I forgot to take a photo of the really cool lighthouse at Petit Manan.

I’ve been keeping track of the birds I see and here is a list of many of the birds that we saw on the trip yesterday:

On the way back from the watch, it started to rain and it was so incredibly cold. I’m glad that I brought my rain gear along because it definitely came in handy yesterday. I knew that camping was not going to be fun.

I ate some lunch food and then went to meet up with the bird festival folks for a social gathering at the Museum of Natural History that’s located atCollege of the Atlantic. I met a few of the other people who were organizers for the festival and also Maine birders. Everyone was so nice and though the weather was crappy, I had a fun day.

I had some time to kill before it got dark so I decided to take a quick drive around the Acadia park loop, which I hadn’t done yet. Although it had stopped raining, it was still really cloudy and cold. I took a drive up Cadillac Mountain, which offered some lovely views of the Island. Took some photos of some plants along the way, too.  The day was capped off by seeing aPileated woodpecker fly right in front of my car and land on a rock outcrop right next to it.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t fast enough to stop the car, grab the camera and get a shot…but I was really thrilled because I had never seen one before.  Some things are best left captured in the memory than in the camera.  Unfortunately, my memory is like a sieve these days. 

As it got dark, I headed back to the campground. It had stopped raining, but everything was wet and cold. I had wanted to have a campfire until I realized that there were little tiny bugs all over EVERYTHING. I freaked myself out thinking that they were ticks (not deer ticks, though), but I now believe that they were just spiders. Still, I hate ticks and I hate spiders so the thought of having either all over everything forced me to go inside my clean, dry tent and warm sleeping bag.

And speaking of ticks…I forgot to mention that the other day I heard two people talking after a hike. The girl says to the guy, “So we saw a snake and a tick. Maybe the snake ate the tick? If the snake ate the tick, I’d feel so much better.” …and while that whole statement is rather silly, I have to say that I can’t disagree. I’d feel better, too. Did I mention that I hate ticks? yeah. But other than the little spiders last night, the bugs haven’t been bad at all. There were mosquitoes every once in a while, but I wouldn’t say that they were bad.