Tag Archives: Pennsylvania

Jamboree on the Road

*Disclaimer: my computer is not co-operating, so some pictures are sized wrong and not captioned. *

Roooooaaaaadtriiiiiiipppp!!! or: Mom in a sombrero

Soooo, turns out road trips involve a lot of driving. Who knew? We’re driving out to Colorado pretty aggressively, aiming to hit Denver Saturday, and our final destination of Crested Butte (Sister’s town) Sunday. As a result, there’s a lot of driving and very little exploring. As I sit here tossing back a 22oz Bud Light (that both my mom and the gas station attendant made fun of me for…because I only got one), I’ll share some of our experiences from today…and don’t worry, I won’t pull the same boring post tomorrow, I’ll just update if something exciting actually happens!

Last night went out with the mom and the roomie to a yummy middle eastern restaurant, and then the speakeasy in our ‘hood. It was great, and had fun showing the mom the ‘hood. Mom and I departed the BK bright and early the next day…around 9:30 after I spent 45 minutes on the phone with Verizon (don’t worry, I won). Got a bagel at the place near my house I’ve been dying to try, and hit the road.

You can tell it’s a speakeasy by its nondescript outside, even during the drive-by photo shoot.

Breakfast of champions...in the car.

We drove for a long while, and decided to get lunch at some road food place in Pennsylvania. We spent half an hour looking for this specific restaurant in Palmyra, PA, and lo and behold, despite fighting for a good 5 minutes in the car while pulled over, upon looking up we saw the sign for the place. That’s right, we pulled in without realizing it, and fought about how to find the place. Turns out it was just an outlet, and we had to drive a few blocks away for the restaurant anyway. It was worth it too:

Funcks Family Restaurant, which I pronounce "Funke" in my head, as in Tobias from Arrested Development...

My turkey melt on a pretzel roll, and mom's BLT on sourdough. Homemade potato chips too. Yum.

We drove through Hershey Pennsylvania right after lunch, and it’s true, the streets do smell like chocolate. AND, the streetlights are Hershey Kisses (It’s hard to take pictures and drive at the same time!).

Streetlight in Hershey, PA

Our goal was to make it to Ohio today, and we succeeded…although we didn’t get to do much besides drive. We’re staying in America’s Best Value Inn (it’s not really), and the Jamboree is in town. Unfortunately, we don’t have time to go to a Jamboree, so we’re hanging out at the motel. Woo Hoo! We did have a delish dinner at the West Texas Roadhouse, in St. Clairsville, OH.

West Texas Roadhouse

My steak and beer dinner. I saved half for breaky tomorrow.

So, to sum it up, today consisted of eating and driving. To break up the monotony we’re also playing the license plate game. I created a picture that represents all the license plates we saw today. Also included is my note sheet. See how well I know American geography, and try to spot all my errors! It shouldn’t be too hard…

The state license plates we saw today!

State abbreviations...Liz style. Note that not only do I write them (incorrectly at times), but I also check each one off.

To keep this from turning into a food blog, I probably won’t write again for a few days…at least until we get a chance to see something besides highways and fast food! Tomorrow: Saint Louis!


Coal Country Field Trip!

Pioneer Coal Mine Tunnel, Ashland, PA

Who thought there’d be field trips in PhD school? Not me! And there aren’t! I actually tagged along with my advisor and his undergrad class to visit this coal mine in Pennsylvania. It was quite a treat. Figure out what you’re going to do for your dissertation and try not to worry about getting buried 300 feet under a mountain!

This coal mine actually only operates as a tourism and educational facility right now. It was pretty cool. The guide was a former miner, and he was very informative. He helped the kids with their questions (they had some they were required to ask), and he answered mine about what happens to the tailings (mining waste).

The answer? Nothing! That’s right, it is just dumped out and left so rainwater can wash through it and leach chemicals into the groundwater system. yummy! He said that historically no one was concerned with the waste materials, and as a result they were just dumped outside and out of the way, so that more of the economically viable coal could be collected. Why don’t they do anything today? I never got a clear answer to that…

A vein of Coal...can't really see it in this picture

They name all the veins and one was called 'Skidmore'!

A picture of the mining process

Mining is pretty dangerous work. These veins of coal run up through the mountain at a steady slant because of the strike (angle) of the mountain. what happens is they first blast out a portion of the vein directly above themselves, then they need to insert a platform for standing. They have skinny little ladders that lead up the mountain, and they climb them to get to the new area for blasting. Every time material is blasted it falls down creating a new space for them to stand in to blast more coal and move on up the through the ground. Sounds confusing, but hopefully it makes sense when looking at the picture also.

This is what a mined vein looks like...just a skinny gap in the rocks. This is looking up at about a 45 degree angle.

Back then they used real horsepower...or donkey power!

The donkeys actually lived underground. They liked the cooler temperatures (it’s about a steady 50 degrees Fahrenheit all year round in the mine), and eventually became so accustomed to the darkness that they would go blind.

A load of coal...Merry Christmas!

This shot is of barely visible (because my camera isn't so great) windmills installed on top of old tailings (the grayish blush ground you see between the bushes) piles. Pollution meets green energy!

Here the ground I’m standing on is actually on fire…beneath the surface. Someone lit a garbage fire 10-20 years ago, and it caught a vein of coal on fire. Now the fire rages underground and there’s no way to stop it. When there’s a lot of moisture out (rain, snow, fog) you can see steam rising from the ground.

Acid mine drainage!!

This is what happens to the water because of the tailings! I was really excited to see this because I’ve read about it for years and never actually saw any caused by a mine. They had some in Saratoga Springs, but although it’s the same idea (acidified water leads to oxidation and precipitation). Anyway, the water becomes very acidic and most of the organisms in and around it die. In PA there is a lot of limestone though, and that can neutralize the acidity of the acid mine drainage process.