We left a day early and headed north to visit Gretchen and Joel Plotkin who have just built a new home near Gettysburg Pennsylvania. They are our daughter Audrey's in-laws and we have been our good friends since Audrey met Jeremy (Audrey and Jeremy are having their 10th wedding anniversary this June). The whole trip to Gettysburg is over 700 miles, and we wanted to get as much in on the first day, so we nearly set a Barker record for a one-day in the van trip of 480 miles. This landed us in Lexington, VA where we treated ourselves to a hotel stay at a Country In. We found a wonderful local restaurant, Cafe Michel, which gave Tom the night off from cooking.
The next day seemed leisurely as we did just under 300 miles and arrived at the Plotkin home in late afternoon. We were amazed at the progress they had made since we visited only 2 years ago. While there is still a lot of un-landscaped soil (which turned to mud in the next morning's rain), the houses are finished and this is a really "green" community. All the houses have solar hot water for both heating and hot water as well as photovoltaic electrical generators. Joel said that his system generates enough electricity to make them independent of the electrical utility and that one neighbor with a really big photovoltaic panel actually sells power back to the grid. The house is heated with the hot water from the solar panel, supplemented with traditional natural gas. The fantastic recycling of the waste water is done in a huge greenhouse where natural filtration with plants and gravel produces potable water! While the community utilizes drinking water from natural springs, they use the recycled water only for toilets. We had a wonderful visit comparing notes on our mutual grandchildren. Tom had another night off from cooking as Gretchen served a tasty lasagna dinner.
We made it home in about 8 hours on Friday, with some rain but no problems. We decided to go up the east side of the Susquehanna, instead of slogging up Rt 15 with all of its ugliness and traffic and gazillion stoplights, and that was a delightful surprise. This is beautiful country with an expressway (I-180) that took us from Lewisburg right around the dreaded Williamsport and into Rt 15. There are now only 11 miles of non- divided highway at the north end of Rt 15 going into Corning - it gets slowly better each year, and we've been observing it for many, many years. A small pile of snow greeted the RV as we drove onto its parking pad. A fish fry from the nearby counter store gave Tom another night off. He began to wonder if he would remember how to cook!