Monday, June 10, 2013

Back on the Road, Part 1: Buffalo, Deer, and Lighthouses

Yesterday, after a lovely birthday lunch with my mom, Dave and I got back on the road to begin the next leg of our journey. We were in Pittsburgh for about a month, and it was a much needed and appreciated pit stop. We got so much accomplished: wedding plans, paring down our stuff and cleaning out the van, making wedding favors, visiting with family, being at friend's graduation/engagement/moving celebrations, and so much more. It was also just wonderful to visit with my parents and be able to cook, make coffee, and enjoy the comforts of home, like hot baths and morning bird watching, for a while. We left feeling refreshed and ready for the summer leg of our trip, which we'll spend in New York, New England, and Canada before returning to Pennsylvania to house sit for our friends Joe and Angie followed, of course, by our wedding in September. 

We had an epic first day back on the road. First, we stopped at Edinboro, PA, near Lake Erie, to visit some of my old stomping grounds. I attended my first semester of college at Edinboro. Nothing much has changed there, except for a bit of expansion on the campus. We decided to stop at the buffalo farm near the college, which I've driven past a million times, but never stopped at. 

It was so neat to see buffalos! I'd never seen them up close in real life before. 

The poor guys looked like the had the mange, but they were just molting their winter coats. 

They looked so itchy and uncomfortable and the biting insects seemed to be relentless. They rolled in the dirt, kicked their legs, and constantly flipped their tails to ward off the bugs and scratch their itchy hides. 

They came right up to the fence line to eat. They tore up huge mouthfuls of grass, and they made the best snuffling eating sounds. It was so peaceful to watch and listen to them. 

"Eat more bison. 200,000 Indians can't be wrong," read the sign outside the Wooden Nickel. We didn't eat at the restaurant, but at least these buffalos were having a happy, free-ranging, grass-fed life before they made it to the dinner table. There were lots of babies, too, which was great to see. 

When we drove through the Edinboro campus, we saw this very young deer, who still had her spots, running through the sports complex and across the soccer field, right in the middle of a game! Poor thing was very scared and confused, and obviously separated from her mother. It didn't seem real, and most players in the game didn't seem to notice the deer or register what was going on. Traffic by the field, though, had stopped, and everyone was watching the young deer. Hopefully she found her way to safety. 

After leaving Edinboro, we continued North to Erie, where we drove along the bay. Erie is full of ghosts of industry with old factories and dilapidated warehouses at every block. There are still some well-kept parts of town and signs of jobs and economic life, but it clearly is just a shadow of what the city used to be, as so many old industrial, coal, and steel towns we have passed through on this trip.  

We went to Erie's Land Lighthouse, which was first constructed in 1812. This area of Lake Erie has a proud history: "By virtue of a natural harbor considered the best on the lake, Erie first rose to prominence in the 19th century as a maritime center. In addition to shipbuilding and fishing, Erie's docks served as a hub of travel and trade." This lighthouse helped lead these ships, so important to Erie's economy, safely into the bay. It was rebuilt after having troubles with unstable foundations, and now sits "on a massive foundation consisting of eight courses of solid oak timbers and a ton of crushed limestone covered in cement." Its light still shines today, penetrating 17 miles into Lake Erie. 

I loved this little boat displayed next to the lighthouse. 

Our day continued to be amazing after all this, soon to be posted in Part 2! 


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