Back in the US of A
10.07.2015 - 12.07.2015
Back in the US of A, I was once again hosted with grace and cheer by the Linvilles.
How lucky am I to know such thoughtful and gracious people!
They sent me on my way after two nights of rest, eating, drinking, and visiting.
I was not sure if I was going to amble or drive straight through to Denver. I looked at the map and thought I had some tentative plans, but was still rather iffy on what I felt like doing.
I was sure I would know which to do when I put the key in the ignition.
After driving a couple of hours, I decided I should stop and make a firm decision.
This was the first restaurant I saw that was not a hamburger chain or a Subway.
It was then I decided for sure I would head to Cleveland, Ohio to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. If I kept driving, I should be able to make Cleveland by nightfall.
I had only hit the road for a few minutes when I remembered I was not too far from Johnstown, Pennsylvania. A terrible flood occurred here in 1898. I remembered seeing a Johnstown Flood National Memorial on the map.
I followed a motorcycle for several miles. He was going exactly the speed limit, so I did also. Coming in the other direction were MANY other motorcycle riders of all shapes, sizes, and models. As each passed, this driver held out his left thumb at about a 30 degree angle. Most of the oncoming drivers did the same.
I counted at least 300 oncoming bikes. Often, other vehicles were in between groups of bikers as large as 50 riders. Luckily, the lone rider and I exited at the same time. They pulled off the road for a bit of a leg stretch. I joined them to find out what was going on.
- The thumb angle is just a way to say hello.
- There was probably a charity ride going on. We were on Route 220 in Pennsylvania which is an often enjoyed bike ride. They said it might be a "poker ride:" You pay to join in the charity drive and stop at places along the way and collect a card. The one with the best poker hand at the end of the drive wins a prize.
Eventually, I reached Johnstown to view the memorial.
The great flood was caused when a poorly maintained dam gave way after heavy rainfalls. The dam created a private lake for a gun and fishing club whose members were the prominent and rich of the country - think Carnegie, for example. Many of the members had private homes on the lake.
The national memorial is quite impressive. It tells the story of the flood in every imaginable media method you can imagine. You can also walk the area and tour the manager's home.
Apparently at some point, maintenance on the dam was stopped. Probably as a method of saving money and putting the money into frills, stocking the waters, etc. I wanted to find out if the wealthy members or the corporation were in any way held responsible for the flood. I was sure this information would be provided in the 35 minute movie.
I fell asleep and didn't find out! Please, please don't let me have snored! I was jostled awake when someone kicked the back of my seat. I hope it was because that person also fell asleep instead of trying to rouse me. I had to read the Wikipedia article I have linked above to learn the flood was judged an "act of god" due to good legal representation by attorneys who were members of the club.
I gotta tell ya that today Johnstown, Pennsylvania doesn't look like it has much money and I doubt if it looked too much better in 1898. In 2003, it was rated as the least likely city in the USA to attract newcomers.
After the flood, Carnegie had a public library built for the city. Because I didn't know about it while I was there, I missed that. I did, however, go to the cemetery to view some of the graves of the 2500+ people who drowned in the flood.
Before dark, I found my way to Laurel Hill State Park where I spent the night in slot 103 of the campground.