Hopewell Furnace NHS, PA
The smoke and the hubbub of the full campground died down on Sunday as all the weekenders headed back home, and by late afternoon we found ourselves virtually alone at French Creek State Park. We didn’t mind the loss of the campfires, since we were now finally able to open the windows and air out the trailer a little, but it was a shame for the other campers to miss out on such a fine fall day.
We took the opportunity to head over to Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, which is directly adjacent to the state park. It’s one of those smaller national parks that we often miss because it’s not a “destination” park for most people. But you get a lot of value out of these small parks, and I’m always glad when we can get a chance to drop in on one of them.
Hopewell is a small community that supported an iron foundry. They diverted water for miles, to power a waterwheel, cut down acres of trees to make charcoal, and hauled in iron ore and limestone to make iron. This was a major business in the 18th and 19th centuries, strategically important in the war of independence against England and in the general independence of the new American nation. A small settlement surrounded the main building (blast furnace and casting building, where parts for cast-iron stoves were made), with housing for workers, a school, blacksmith shop, barn, store, smokehouse and spring house. You can explore most of the buildings by reading the interpretive signs or by audio tour. And yes, there is a Junior Ranger program.
Monday was one of those days that gets lost in travel. We had only a 2.5 hour tow planned, from Elverson PA to Columbia MD, but all of the minor tasks surrounding the tow ate up the rest of the day. I spent about two hours working early in the morning, then shifted over to getting the trailer ready to tow. Then we pulled over to the water outlet (further down the campground loop) and refilled the trailer’s fresh water tank. Then we hit the dump station. As a result, the Airstream actually rolled out of the park about 11:30 a.m.
Half an hour into the trip, we stopped for diesel fuel and Eleanor spotted a convenient grocery store. Since she was planning to make dinner for our next hosts, she went in, while Emma and I stayed back in the trailer (another opportunity for me to catch up on Monday work, while Emma dug into one of her books). By the time Eleanor was back, the groceries were packed away, and everyone had had their bathroom stop, it was 2 p.m. We pulled into Columbia at 4 p.m., and then it was time to quickly set up the trailer in our friends’ driveway, and start making dinner. Poof! Another day gone.
Well, not entirely gone. We at least got to see some friends that we have not visited in four years. Eleanor fed everyone a huge dinner of bowtie pasta with a cream sauce and chicken, grilled vegetables (eggplant, onion, baby peppers), tossed green salad with one of her homemade dressings, etc. It was a good ending to a long day and since we will be in the driveway at least one more night, we’ll get a chance to relax and maybe even explore a little before pressing on to StarFest later this week.
Now, some disturbing news. Kirk, a friend of Alumapalooza (author of the Alumapalooza anthem), spontaneously had 2,000 “Alumapalooza” decals made up. He was doing a job for another client and tacked these little stickers onto it. He notified us afterward and shipped all the stickers to my office in Tucson.
What was I going to do with 2,000 little stickers (about 5 inches long) that say “Alumapalooza”? Well, if you order anything from the Airstream Life store including hats, shirts, books, or back issues, you will receive absolutely free of charge, a bonus of several of these silly little stickers. Such a deal, eh?
If you want a few, but don’t want to order anything from the store, just send a Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope to: Airstream Life, Alumapalooza stickers, PO Box 42288, Tucson AZ 85733-2288. We’ll be happy to ship you a few at no charge. They’ll look great on your Airstream’s bumper. Really.
If you order something from the store but don’t want any stickers, I’m sorry but you’re getting some anyway. I hope you can find a use for them. Maybe they’d be good for minor repairs, in place of duct tape?
But in the interest of full disclosure, here’s the disturbing part: Eleanor noticed that if the sticker is turned upside-down, it says “ezooledewme.” We have no idea what that means. It could be an ancient and powerful magical incantation. It could be a gross insult in some foreign language. It might be a secret code word that will get you into the back door of the Nigerian embassy. All I can say is that if you dare put this sticker on your trailer upside-down, I can’t be responsible for the consequences.