Thanks for joining us today – we’d like to start by inviting you along for a virtual stroll down the winding country lane into the small town of Sidman PA. Don’t worry about packing a snack, we’ll have a couple of treats along the way. Just stay on the left side of the road and be careful around the corners. Ready to go? Our first stop will be a short hiking trail along Laurel Run on the east side of the Conemaugh River.
The trail starts at the Dunlo Rod and Gun Club and lazily follows a short creek through a wooded area featuring a mix of pine, oak, and maple trees, as well as ferns and wild flowers. If you’re lucky, you might spot a variety of mushrooms growing throughout the forest. Despite being fairly close to homes and backyards, the area is full of wildlife – on one of our previous walks, a deer came bounding through the creek directly toward us. Neither we nor the deer were harmed in the encounter, but if you ask Ashley she might claim that it was a close call.
Anyone else getting thirsty? Let’s head back out to the road and finish our trip into Sidman. Just about a mile from the walking trail we’ll find Morris’ Tavern and Restaurant, a well-known local watering hole. Ashley has fond memories of the thin-crust bar style pizza from her youth, so of course we’ve had a Morris’ pepperoni pizza since we’ve been in the area and I’m sure we’ll have another one before we leave. The group of people who opened the tavern were avid hunters and you can see various trophies of their hunts around the restaurant, from mounted animal heads to fully taxidermied displays behind glass enclosures. [I don’t have any photos to share on the blog right now, but I’ll get some before we leave.]
Right next door to Morris’ you’ll find the Ranger, home of delicious ice cream. The Ranger is named for the Forest Hills school mascot (the Rangers, obviously), and the newly built school is located directly across the street. Hope you’re hungry from the walk – even their “Baby” size is almost enough for two to share. But let’s be serious – who shares just one ice cream! The Ranger offers a complete menu of soft-serve ice cream, milkshakes, sundaes, banana splits – you name it. In addition to the numerous standard ice cream flavors, they also have three rotating flavors that seem to change every week.
I first started off by ordering a small dish of one of the rotating flavors (peanut butter, at the time) until I discovered that you can order a flurry with any flavor of ice cream. After choosing from a long list of treats to mix into your ice cream, you can then decide on a specific ice cream flavor as the base – I mistakenly thought you could only get a flurry with vanilla ice cream. So on my second trip, I ordered a “Peanut Buster” flurry (whole peanuts, chocolate sauce) with salted caramel ice cream. “Big deal,” you’re probably thinking, “it’s just ice cream with some stuff mixed into it!” But the Ranger takes their toppings seriously – a flurry is roughly one-half mix-ins and one-half ice cream. And the treats aren’t just sprinkled on the top, they are literally mixed throughout your flurry. The “Baby” size is served in a 12-ounce cup – I’ve never ordered anything larger and I most likely never will. The third time we visited (yes, we’ve been there three times in the past three weeks) I had a cheesecake flurry with blueberry ice cream and it was loaded with chunks of dense, rich cheesecake. Now, I know they don’t bake the cheesecake, but it was still delicious and I’m looking forward to the next flurry. Good thing it’s a four-mile round trip walking from our current parking location to the Ranger.
Everyone get enough to eat? I hope so because the walk back is all uphill! We have a road trip planned for the afternoon, so you’ll have a chance to nap in the car if you’d like. We’re going to leave Cambria County behind for a few hours and drive into the neighboring county of Bedford. Our first stop is the historic Old Log Church in Schellsburg PA. Located directly off of the Lincoln Highway, the church is a popular stop for road trippers and tourists throughout the year.
The church was built in 1806 and is surrounded by an expansive cemetery. The most unique aspect of this church is the raised pulpit rising like a pedestal or watchtower along one wall of the building. The congregation seating area is two stories and built so that nearly every seat has a view of the pulpit. The pews are straight-backed and not very deep, forcing the churchgoer to pay attention during the sermon.
Alright, everyone back in the car! We’re headed out for dinner later but we have one more stop along the way. Shawnee State Park is sandwiched between the Lincoln Highway and the Pennsylvania Turnpike, making it a convenient stop for anyone traveling through the state. While we didn’t stay here with the RV, the park does offer a 293 site campground and features a 451-acre warm water reservoir. But for this trip, we’re just stopping long enough to stretch our legs and snap a few photos.
And finally, we’re stopping at the Jean Bonnet Tavern for a bite to eat. Another historic stop along the Lincoln Highway, the tavern was built sometime around 1762 and has a notorious reputation for being haunted. While I do love ghost stories, I also have a tendency to get carried away with my imagination. So I don’t think I’ll be spending the night in one of the guestrooms, most definitely not the most haunted Room 3. I don’t think I’d particularly enjoy seeing an old rocking chair start moving on its own in the middle of the night, or finding my belongings mysteriously moved around after waking in the morning. But if you decide to stay, I’ll gladly buy you a drink or two and listen to whatever stories you might have to share.
That’s it for today’s expedition! Thanks for joining us and we hope you enjoyed the excursion. We hope your summer is off to a good start!