Category Archives: Pennsylvania

Places I went in 2013

Standard rules apply — I spent the night, ate a meal at a local establishment or went on an adventure in that location:

Alexandria, Va.
Arlington, Va.
Ashburn, Va.
Burke, Va.
Centreville, Va.
Chantilly, Va.
Clifton, Va.
Fairfax, Va.
Falls Church, Va.
Great Falls, Va.
Mount Vernon, Va.
Mclean, Va.
Purcellville, Va.
Shenandoah National Park, Va.
Sterling, Va.
Vienna, Va.
Nassau, Bahamas
Freeport, Bahamas
Washington, D.C.
Newark, Del.
Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Port Canaveral, Fla.
Baltimore, Md.
Colesville, Md.
Comus, Md.
Perryville, Md.
Poolesville, Md.
Avalon, N.J.
Stone Harbor, N.J.
Dillsburg, Pa.
Harrisburg, Pa.
Hershey, Pa.
Mercersburg, Pa.
Oakdale, Pa.
Pittsburgh, Pa.
Reedsville, Pa.
Robinson, Pa.
Davis, W.Va.

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December 16, 2013 Whitetail recap

Snowdancer
MERCERSBURG, Pa. — The cold late November and December has given ski areas across the Mid-Atlantic a head start on their seasons. That and a combination of use-it-or-lose-it vacation time led me to Whitetail for my first ever December skiing.

Difficult traffic getting out of Northern Virginia delayed my arrival until 11 a.m. I was surprised to see about 100 cars in the parking lot. There was no line to get lift ticket and rental throughout the process. I went with some 170s instead of my usual 160s to see how I would do.

empty whitetail

I started on the green slopes serviced by the EZ Rider Quad lift. A run down Snow Park or Stalker confirmed that I had not yet done enough wall-sits, but I would be okay. It got a little sticky at the bottom though which was an omen for the day.

Having limited time and eager to challenge myself more, I headed over to the Whitetail Express Quad and started skiing on the trails on the middle of the mountain. Fanciful was in pretty good shape on the top 2/3s, but slowed me up at the bottom with its fresh, ungroomed machine made snow. Getting back to the lift was work. It was a good run though and probably had the most consistent conditions of the day. After a few runs on Fanciful, I headed over to Snow Dancer which mostly more of the same, but a little uneven snow-wise. After a run or two, I was able to find better paths to keep my momentum going close to the lift. Next, I head to the right of WEQ and skied down Homerun which was satisfying. Limelight was closed and several days from being ready, even with continuous snow-making in progress.

I next took Angel Drop into the Drop, but made the mistake of heading onto Fallmount instead of over to the black diamonds. Fallmount might as well be cross country skiing because it nearly completely flat. I gave up and picked up the skis, dropped $9.84 on chicken tenders & fries basket and a Pepsi at the cafeteria.

Exhibition and Ridge Runner

For the second half of the day, it was another couple of runs down Homerun and Angel Drop and then over to the Experts Choice Quad. Exhibition and Bold Decision were the only two open. I took a few runs down Exhibition, then moved over to Ridgeline to head back onto Angel Drop. Following that, I head over to Bold Decision which was deserted, ungroomed and sticky. It was the toughest run of the day and not in a fun way. Going down it felt like a chore and I took a minor tumble. I hope the groomers got it for skiers later in the week.

Running out of time, I skied Ridgeline back to the middle of the mountain and completed the day with a trip down Homerun.

OTHER NOTES

Lift ticket and rentals cost me $105 and included a lesson that I did not use.

snowmaking
Snow guns were in use throughout the day, despite periods of bright sunshine. Getting a little blast from them was no big deal.

The lodge reminds me of a college dining hall more than a ski lodge, but the lack of alpine ambiance is no big deal because the features are above average for mid-Atlantic resorts, though it is worth mentioning Whitetail is dry.

Some of the trails had only about 60% of the surface area available for skiing since it is early in the season.

Grading on a curve because it was mid-December, I award Whitetail a on a scale of green circle being the lowest and black diamond being the highest. More grooming was needed and Bold Decision probably should not have been open. Overall, I was pretty happy to knock another month skied in off my list. Also, with 935 feet of vertical drop, Whitetail is the best option for a quick trip from the DC area. I may be back to teach my son how to ski if the weather cooperates.

GETTING THERE

Whitetail is about 75 miles from the Capital Beltway (I-495) via I-270, I-70, MD 68 and Blair Valley Road (watch your speed).


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This Sunday – 4 NFL games and a winter storm for a 235 mile stretch of I-95

This Sunday, at 1 p.m. in an approximately 235 miles span of Interstate 95, there are four NFL games taking place, each located within 2 miles of the East Coast’s main highway:

Kansas City Chiefs at Washington Redskins, Fex Field, Landover, Md.
Minnesota Vikings at Baltimore Ravens, M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Md.
Detroit Lions vs. Philadelphia Eagles, Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pa.
Oakland Raiders at New York Jets, MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.


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There is also a winter storm warning, in particular the D.C. region. From Capital Weather Gang – Winter storm watch issued for much of D.C. area Sunday into Monday:

The onset of precipitation across the area is most likely between mid-morning and noon with the precipitation probably starting as snow but changing to sleet and or freezing rain by late afternoon (in most spots)…

…Snow is likely for the commute to FedEx field (and for the Ravens game in Baltimore) with the snow changing to sleet and freezing rain during the game. Sleet or freezing rain is likely for the drive home.

The storm will also hit Philadelphia and the New York area, though seemingly not as hard around game time. Accuweather says:

While a large amount of snow is not expected, the city could receive its first inch or two of snow of the season, joining some of the northern and western suburbs from Friday night’s storm.

Warmer air is forecast to move in during the storm Sunday evening through Monday, causing a changeover to a wintry mix, then rain from the coast to inland areas.

In short, travel on the I-95 corridor could be pretty tough on Sunday, though most major Northeast Corridor traffic bypasses Philadelphia via the New Jersey Turnpike. On the other hand, MetLife Stadium is directly adjacent to the Turnpike. FedEx Field can be bypassed by using the Baltimore-Washington Parkway (unless you are a truck) and the opposite side of the Capital Beltway. M&T Bank Stadium is right near the terminus of the B/W Parkway, but the Harbor Tunnel Thruway provides a bypass too.

There is also a New England Patriots vs. Cleveland Browns game in Foxborough, but the forecast there is sunny and 34°.

I don’t know how much these games impact I-95 in general (an interesting question), but whatever that is could be magnified this Sunday.

Yes, I’m aware I-95 isn’t technically continuous between Pennsylvania and New Jersey

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Skiing: Whitetail, Liberty, Roundtop already open


Whitetail and Liberty post earliest openings since 2002WUSA
The two ski resorts nearest to Washington, D.C., Liberty in Carroll Valley, Pa. near Emmitsburg, Md. and Whitetail, near Mercersburg, Pa. are OPEN this weekend. Additionally, the next closest, Roundtop near Lewisberry, Pa. is also open, including Monday. Whitetail is considering a Monday opening as well:

This is a great start to the 2013-2014 season — of late, December has been a no-go. I think I’m going to have to investigate.

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Google Maps extends i-99 north of Williamsport, Pa., PennDOT and NYSDOT disagree

Google maps jumps the gun on i-99
"i-99"In the latest of a string of Google Maps errors, interstate 99 has been extended beyond its existing northern terminus near State College all the way into New York State and I-86/NY 17 near Corning.

"US 15"This is an extension that is expected at some point, but i-99 needs high speed interchanges built along I-80 near mileposts 160 and 178. Additionally, multiple sections of US 220 need to be upgraded between Lock Haven and Williamsport. North of Williamsport, US 15 which Google Maps says is now also i-99, is now an interstate quality highway all the way into New York State as of earlier this fall.


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i-99 is a controversial highway in general. For one, the number was legislated by former Rep. Bud Shuster. The bulk of the initial routing was through his district, pork barrel spending. The extension to State College was a disaster as Shuster legislated that it be exempt from environmental testing. That didn’t work out — it turned out the road and all of the earth-moving required for it unleashed pyrite (aka fool’s gold) that contaminated the water supply. Four years and $79 million later, there was remediation in place. The money spent on this highway would have been better directed at improving the US 322 corridor – widening the Lewistown Narrows (which happened eventually) or upgrading the Boalsburg to Seven Mountains stretch which hasn’t happened.

In the future, i-99 will probably be posted along these roads and perhaps replace I-390 to Rochester.

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Ground finally broken on I-95/Pennsylvania Turnpike project

Officials break ground on major I-95/Turnpike linkPhillyBurbs.com
This week, a ceremonial groundbreaking was held for Stage 1 of the interchange that will connect Interstate 95 with the Pennsylvania Turnpike (Interstate 276) in Eastern Pennsylvania. When completed (projected to be 2018) I-95 will be rerouted onto the eastern end of the Pa. Turnpike to the New Jersey Turnpike which will finally make it continuous from Miami, Fla. to Houlton, Maine.
Interstate 276, the eastern most number for the Pennsylvania TurnpikeInterstate 95, Pennsylvania shield

The interchange (which should have been built decades ago, regardless of the decision to cancel the original I-95 alignment between Philadelphia in New York in Central New Jersey nycroads.com) was mandated by Congress in 1982. The footdragging by the Pa. Turnpike Commission has been incredible. While I understand their disappointment in having to build this because Jersey didn’t build their 30 miles of I-95, the interchange should have been there period.

By the way, the NJ and PA Turnpikes collected the most revenue last year: NJ, Pa. turnpikes collected most toll money in North America in 2012The Inky

OFFICIAL PROJECT WEB SITE

A Turnpike / I-95 Interchange ProjectPennsylvania Turnpike Commission

MORE FROM STEVE ANDERSON

Delaware Expressway (I-95)phillyroads.com

Pennsylvania Turnpike-Delaware River Extension (I-276)phillyroads.com

PREVIOUSLY

Pennsylvania Auditor general concerned about green card scheme sought for Pa. Turnpike/I-95 funding

Green card scheme sought for Pa. Turnpike/I-95 funding

NJ Turnpike expansion between exits 6 and 9 moving right along

NPR special series focuses on I-95

Is it just me or is it odd that neither the Inky or Philly Daily News covered this groundbreaking?

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The Great Allegheny Passage bicycle trail is officially completed tomorrow

Yurasko Bicycle LogoTomorrow, the 185 mile long Great Allegheny Passage bicycle trail celebrates its completion between Pittsburgh and Cumberland, Md. with events in Pittsburgh. Along with the C&O Canal Towpath, GAP provides a 335 mile continuous route between Washington, D.C. and Pittsburgh.

MORE FROM THE POST-GAZETTE

Ride, festivities planned on last leg of Great Allegheny Passage

“It took us six years to get the last 9 miles completed. Of the whole 150 miles, that was the hardest part”

“The Great Allegheny Passage in the making”

It took almost four decades to build what now is known as the Great Allegheny Passage. It is a remarkable 150-mile trail that connects with the 184.5-mile C&O Canal Towpath in Cumberland, Md., and makes possible a bicycling trip between Pittsburgh and Washington, DC. The GAP officially opens tomorrow — Saturday, June 15.

Building the GAP seemed like an insurmountable challenge when the project was conceived, from finding the right name for the trail to finding funding to reconstruct the Big Savage Tunnel, the longest tunnel on the trail. Linda McKenna Boxx, president of the Allegheny Trail Alliance, a coalition of rail-trail organizations that built and maintains the trail, told the PG’s Larry Walsh, “Getting the [$12.5 million] for the Big Savage Tunnel … was the absolute biggest challenge. It came close to not happening.”

But it did get done, thanks to audacious people such as Linda Boxx and Jack Paulik, who came out of retirement to direct construction through the Steel Valley.

I aspire to someday ride the length of it.

UPDATE JUNE 17, 2013
Two more stories:

Bicyclists celebrate reaching end of Great Allegheny Passage trail

Person of Interest: Linda McKenna Boxx of the Allegheny Trail Alliance

Biking Adventures of the Great Allegheny Passage
– A blog detailing the weeklong journey from Washington to the Pittsburgh along the C&O and GAP trails.

PREVIOUSLY

Great Allegheny Passage, Pittsburgh to D.C. bike trails, nearly finished

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Pennsylvania Auditor general concerned about green card scheme sought for Pa. Turnpike/I-95 funding

Financing for turnpike/I-95 connector concerns auditor generalThe Inky
In not-all-surprising news, that Pennsylvania Turnpike/I-95 green card scheme has gotten the attention of Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale.

DePasquale said he was especially interested in why an entity was created to broker the deal, in which wealthy foreign investors would lend the turnpike $200 million in exchange for possible permanent residence in the United States.

DePasquale said his office was legally bound to wait until a transaction is completed before launching an audit, so “it may be several months or longer” before he formally investigates the turnpike plan.

“I am going to follow this situation carefully,” DePasquale said. “It raises some alarms. I’m not taking a position that it’s wrong yet. . . . We’ll wait till the issue is ripe for an audit.”

Interstate 276, the eastern most number for the Pennsylvania TurnpikeInterstate 95, Pennsylvania shieldYup, it is all weird.

I understand Pennsylvania being unhappy about having to build this connection since it was New Jersey that cancelled a nearly 30 mile stretch of I-95, but the Pennsylvania Turnpike should have built a connection with I-95 years ago anyway. The foot dragging has been going on for about 30 years.

Also, weren’t toll authorities designed to avoid this kind of nonsense? Perhaps raising federal and state gas taxes by a few cents might not be a bad idea either. Heaven forbid we pay several more cents per gallon (we’re paying a whopping 18.3¢ a gallon (over $3.60 where I live) right now for 21st century infrastructure.

Interstate shields courtesy of Shields Up!

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Harrisburg: Huge tanker fire results in closures at I-81 and US 22/322 interchange

Interstate 81 marker, PennsylvaniaAn interchange I go through to get to my in-laws, Interstate 81 and US 22/322 had a nasty tanker truck fire on Friday. I-81 is still closed, though it may open on Monday with Tuesday being more likely. Tolls are suspended for motorists traveling between the Carlisle and Harrisburg East interchanges on the Pennsylvania Turnpike (I-76) which is roughly parrallel to I-81 in the Harrisburg area. The eastbound US 22 span has to be removed. Traffic will be rerouted onto the westbound span. It will be months before full service is restored.

Located on the border of Harrisburg and Dauphin County, the stack interchange (kurumi.com) was constructed in the early 1970s, according to pahighways.com.


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pennlive.com/Patriot-News has dozens of stories on the tanker fire.

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