Each year, before Gail and I embark on a long RV adventure, we try to take a short camping trip locally to test the equipment and our practices. We have checklists, but practicing them helps. This year we did not volunteer at a western park because of our month of travels in Europe, but we do plan to visit the midwest during the fall. Therefore, we took a two-night camping trip to southern Pennsylvania in early September.

We chose to camp in Pennsylvania rather than somewhere closer to home because we wanted some new and interesting place to hike during our stay. We chose Kings Gap State Park, just a little north of Gettysburg. There is no camping at Kings Gap itself so for our camp site, we selected the nearby Deer Run Camping Resort, and drove there on the afternoon of Thursday, September 6.

Al definitely needed retraining! Despite the checklist, he forgot to lower the landing gear on the Moving House!!! So when Gail pulled the truck away from the trailer and out of the hitch, the nose of the Moving House dropped onto the sides of the truck bed. This was NOT good. The damage to the truck will be costly to repair. Fortunately, the Moving House itself did not appear to be damaged, and, by extending the landing gear belatedly, Al was able to lift it off the truck bed. How did this happen? Because the site sloped, Al was focused on elevating one side of the Moving House to reduce the tilt rather than on the details of unhitching. Still we've done this many times in the past so it should not have happened. Needless to say, this burned a prominent memory in his head so it is unlikely to occur again.

Another demonstration of Al’ s distracted state approaching this camping trip is that he forgot his camera at home. He always brings his camera everywhere, except this time. He got some photos with his cell phone, but it is not the same.

Although the Appalachian Trail passes within a hundred yards, Deer Run is typical of most commercial campgrounds with a focus on resort rather than camping. More than half the sites in the 1/10 by 1/4 mile camp ground are occupied permanently by people who buy a travel trailer, move it to the resort for electric, water, and sewer access, and then settle in for an inexpensive getaway cottage. Many build permanent structures, such as wooden decks, on their site. This place then is their location for weekend escapes and vacations. The resort provides a little store, a game room, playground, miniature golf, a tiny catch-and-release fish pond, a big swimming pool, weekend activities, and more. It holds the Guinness World Record for the Largest S’more, 267 pounds worth. Most of the permanent campers use golf carts to get around despite the small area of the campground.

Kings Gap runs up 650 feet from its entrance to an environmental education center at the top of the hill. It has three day use areas: a pine plantation near the entrance, a watershed area halfway up the hill, and the educational center at the top. There are trails between the different day use areas as well as a few loop trails, and one trail to a distant state park. Also near the entrance, there is some land owned by the Nature Conservancy, on which they have built seven vernal ponds to encourage preservation of signature amphibians and insects.

The heart of the environmental education center on top the hill is a 1908, 32-room mansion, built for the grandson of one of Lincoln’s Secretaries of War as a summer cottage. Along with other facilities especially built for the education center, there is a brick water tower surviving from the original owner and there is a pretty garden tended by local Master Gardners.

Earlier the week had been sunny, hot, and humid. The day we visited Kings Gap started off overcast and cooler, but still humid. We hiked the short Pine Plantation loop trail in the morning. It was dark and there were mosquitoes. After lunch, we hiked down the Ridge Overlook Trail and then back up the Rock Scree Trail. During this hike, a little bit of sun came out. Back at the top, we enjoyed the garden. Finally, on our way out, we walked to one of the Nature Conservancy’s vernal pools. By then, the clouds had come in again and the mosquitoes were back. All in all, we walked about 3.7 miles.

On the Pine Plantation Trail

On the Ridge Overlook Trail, things were a little sunnier

It’s not Utah, but it is scenic when the haze and clouds burn away

The Mansion’s entrance

Caryopteris, beloved by Bumblebees, two of which are visible here

The garden sundial accurately reads half past two

The old brick water tower

Have you ever visited us in our Moving House? If not, here are a few images of our comfortable home away from home.

With the Moving House standing on its landing gear and tires,
its living and dining areas are expanded by a “slide-out”.

Within the dining area in the “slide-out” adjacent to the kitchen,
plenty of space to do the crossword puzzle, just like at home

In the front section, bedroom with clothes closets, a washbasin,
two windows and a vent for ventilation.

A reprint from the first time we camped in the Moving House 7 years ago
The living area with the sofa and one of the two easy chairs
Gail is sitting
          on our little couch on the side of the living
          area. One of the easy chairs is visible at the
          back of the room.

Birding at Kings Gap? We did not see many. There were Blue Jays, an American goldfinch, a Northern Cardinal, and Vultures. A lot of Chipping Sparrows were in the trees and on the lawn near the water tower. We heard Pileated Woodpeckers near the Ridge Overlook Trail. Of course, as usual there were a few Little Brown Birds that moved too fast for us to identify and a few birds whose features we could not see because they were silhouetted against the sky.

It rained and was cool on Saturday when we returned home again. We still have some things to take care of, but we should be ready at the end of the month for our journey over Lake Superior and back down to Wisconsin.

Responsible: Albert Holm
Created: 9 September 2018; updated: 11 Sept 2018