Scranton & Pittston Treats,

We spent a quick night, Thursday, at the lovely Bald Eagle State Park near Howard, PA. Lovely because the air was scented with cedar, the tree frogs were setting up a hoedown and the birds were fantabulous!

We saw a Baltimore Oriole, a bit of brilliant ORANGE glory, and the Yellow Warbler an adorable little yellow guy with a red streaky breast.

Dasher likes to sit on the back of the couch and watch birds, his tail twitches sweetly and he says “meh meh meh.” quietly.

Our trail walk out to a footbridge over a tip of the lake treated us to a didgeridoo of bullfrog song and some cool morning exercise.

Rudy got a huge tick on his face. Surgery performed and tick photos taken. ick. just. ick. Then he got another one… repeat. ick.

Off of I-81 is the Johnstown Flood National Historic Site. We had to stop – Barb recently read David McCullough’s book about same. The visitors center is above the remains of the South Fork Dam that broke and caused an enormous disaster.

The story:
A bunch of rich guys – the same ilk as Rockefeller – built a dam and created a one mile wide, two mile long lake so that they, their families and friends could take a respite from the pollution and heat of Pittsburg – a mighty coal and industrial center. It was an exclusive club that for many years nobody knew the names of the members. Over time, they didn’t maintain the dam and in fact after it broke one time, the rich decided to take away some of the safety features of the original dam and just plugged up the break. No engineer was ever consulted.

In May, 1889, there was a monster storm – two weeks of solid rain. All the rivers, creeks and streams became swollen and filled with debris.

Downstream up to fourteen miles from the dam were three villages and a large town – Johnstown.

The streets of Johnstown were already almost knee deep in water from the Little Conemaugh and Stonycreek rivers that forked around the town. Many of the 30,000 citizens downstream from the South Fork Dam took to higher ground.

Three telegraph messages were sent downstream and to Johnstown warning that the dam was looking very unstable. At least one didn’t get through because telegraph wires had fallen to the existing flooding from the rain.

On the afternoon of May 31, people heard an ungodly rumble. The dam had broken and 20 million gallons of water were blasting down the valley. Folks ran for the hills as the already flooded rivers swelled from the pressure of the water coming behind. The water from the dam took 57 minutes to reach Johnstown obliterating everything in its path.

One survivor told the tale of his survival by getting on the roof of his families barn, then jumping from roof to roof as the debris raft surged down the valley. He said he never saw the water.

Over 2000 people died: babies and the aged, the strong and weak.

The rich club members were charged but escaped prosecution, in much the same way they do today.

“The Johnstown Flood” by David McCullough is a deeply researched work that is approachable – though you may wish you hadn’t. It’s on my library list now.

Then…

We took back roads north to the Francis Slocum State Park near Wilkes-Barre, PA. Sometimes back roads are barely one lane and boroughs sport houses with porches three feet from the roadway.

Francis Slocum was a 5 year old when she was kidnapped by the Delaware Indians. Her brothers didn’t give up searching for her and found her 59 years later. She was living on a reservation in Indiana with her second husband. By then her four children had probably given her some grandkids. She refused to move back to Pennsylvania and died at 74. Sounds like a good enough reason to name a State Park after someone, right?

It’s really pretty here. The lake is small and though we’re near a busy city it feels very remote.

There is a stereotypical Pennsylvania view – pastoral with rolling farm lands, huge decorated barns and majestic Victorian homes. This is the land through which we drove. Settled, constant, reliable. That is, until we drove through woods. The multitude of snapped off trees had me searching the internet to see whether PA is subject to tornados. Yup. That was the answer, tornados.

We are doing home type things today and tomorrow to prepare for our 5 days of fly-fishing lessons. We hope that Road Scholar provides another excellent experience. We’re excited! The weather has warmed up (it’s 80 and overcast today) and we look forward to wearing our arms out practice casting.

Saturday, we did laundry in Scranton and drove around downtown to look at the buildings. An old city, Scranton has some beautiful and well preserved architecture. The places folks live, at least those we traveled through, have seen better days like a lot of America.

Barb took me to Pittston for a treat! We went to the old Blue Ribbon Dairy for ice cream sundaes. Still made with original recipes, Blue Ribbon can make ice-cream and the soda sweeties do their best to assure you like it!

I’ll post more after we leave Frost Valley YMCA as we begin to make our way south again.

Thanks for reading!

P.S. a recipe:

Cleaning Out The Refrigerator Hot Salad

Steam cut veggies until al dente. We had about 4 cups to eat: carrots, broccoli, some cabbage, onion and kale.

Mix: 2 T. lemon juice, 3 T, Tahini, 1 micro-planed clove garlic, 1/4 c. olive oil until it becomes smooth salad dressing.

Return veggies to pan (or use a bowl), add salad dressing and gently toss until coated.

Make a nest of lettuce or massaged kale,  Top with hot veggies. squeeze the rest of that lemon over the plates. Devour.

(this dish is one that benefits from a night in the fridge, eat leftovers, yum)