Sunday, October 22, 2017

On the road (yet again): final.

On my 4th and final day, I took a slight detour to see another piece of history, in a town
with an unusual name: Burnt Cabins, PA.  A grist mill exists there, which was built in
1840 and continues to churn out old-fashioned flour in the same manner as it did back

The town's unusual name came about from the cabins of early settlers in the area being
torched by provincial forces in about 1750, to satisfy Indian protests against white
trespassers on their lands.  So, the name is a reminder of troubled days on the
Pennsylvania frontier.

From Wikipedia, a more detailed summary:  "As a measure of good faith with Native 
American nation and no small degree of "realpolitik" with their French rivals in the area 
comprising what is now western Pennsylvania and the Ohio Country,  British colonies made 
pacts agreeing to keep their settlers east of the Appalachian Mountains.  Despite the official
government position on the matter,  settlers from the east in PA and from the south in MD
and VA began to trickle into the area that is now Fulton County and other regions.  By
mid-1749, the various groups of the Iroquois Confederation felt threatened, thus
they made official protests to the Provincial government in Philadelphia."

In response to the complaint of July 18, 1749 the Lt. Governor of the province...issued an
edict to all British remove themselves, their families and effects, off of those
lands.  Along with this was a promise that they would take more direct action in 1750.
Thus, in May of 1750 the provincial government sent agents to remove the white squatters
from their cabins and settlements.  These agents were accompanied by delegates from the
Iroquois nation to show them the King's orders were being fulfilled.  

About 60 squatters were found on Tuscarora Mountain.  Original plans were to arrest,
convict, fine and imprison them, but 2 of the first 5 arrested fled, telling officials "you may
take our Land and Houses and do what you please with them....but we will not be carried to
jail."  And a third squatter met the officials with a loaded gun.  (Nothing was said regarding
his longevity...)

As a gesture to the Indians, provincial officials decided to burn the cabins of the town (then
named Sidneyville).  In reality, they only burned 3.  But that brought a period of temporary
peace to the area.

It was not destined to be permanent.   By 1755 settlers had returned en masse.   Shawnee
and Delaware Indians took matters into their own hands, attacking in great force, in what
became known as the Great Cove Massacre.    

Subsequently, Sidneyville was reborn, but with a new name:  You guessed it...Burnt Cabins.


There's a campground as well, with a decently stocked store (below), which provided
provisions as there weren't any stores in the area for grub...   As for meals - only found
one, a bar, and Mandy didn't feel comfortable walking into a bar alone.  Sitting in the
car, I shivered to myself, just at the thought of  6 or 7 carloads of male eyes staring
at me.  UGH!  (From someone who can get meals and basic supplies within a 5 minute
drive from home, living out here in the hinterlands wouldn't appeal in the slightest.) 

I made a quick stop at the Lower Tonoloway section of the C&O Canal in Hancock, MD.
About a half mile of the canal has been restored and turned into a local historic site.   As
info, the canal operated from 1831 until 1924, along the Potomac River between Washington
DC & Cumberland.   It required 74 canal locks, 11 aqueducts to cross major streams, more
than 240 culverts to cross minor streams, and the 3,118 ft  Paw Paw tunnel in West Virginia.
(I visited Paw Paw Tunnel as described in the following post:  "More touring, and Abraham 
Lincoln", published 9/1/15.)

There are two paths one can choose to walk…the paved old Western Maryland Railroad line on
the city side of the canal (the RR was abandoned in the early ‘80’s as duplicate trackage - parent
company (CSX) has rails on the other side of the Potomac) and the unpaved canal towpath on
the river side.   Right alongside the Potomac River, it’s a beautiful place to relax and/or launch
your small boat, or rent a bike ($7/hour, or $35 a day.  Sounds lucrative, doesn't it?    I'd
happily rent out my own bike for $35 a day!)

And my final selfie:   At the canal park, in view of the Potomac.  At the bike rental place I
was addressed as a woman, and the ladies I passed all smiled, some with relevant chit-chat
about the weather.

Very validating...  How do you spell "7th heaven?"

You're not seeing things...the trees are growing at an angle, and I'm standing up straight.
Wonderful effect, and it's not an optical illusion!

Then, after a quick visit to the potty - a porta pot, for those who wondered - it was off for home.  As
usual, the traffic on I-70 was not good...but at least there were no backups at or on the Bay Bridge.)

My major observation for the entire trip was that I did NOT hear the dreaded “S” word at all.  YAY!!!!   (Even in this politically-conservative geographic area...which still sports many exquisitely-preserved "left-over" Republican campaign posters from the 2016 election season.)   

Yes, I was referred to as female by servers and individuals part of the time, but more often it
was simply in non-gender-specific terms.  (Which is the safest course for the “I’m just not
sure” crowd - or for those who disapprove of TG's, but don’t want to openly stir the pot.)   

Either way was/is fine with me.

And being out and about amongst the public is a wonderful experience...

Now, I await my next excursion...



Wednesday, October 18, 2017

On the road (yet again) Part 2

Second day was all business…thus little can be said about it, other than “nearly everyone
knew me.”

There was no confusion as to my presentation, even by those who didn’t.  My wife wasn’t 
there to make me do it, but I pulled my hair back into a ponytail…ugh.  This time, it really
seemed to make a difference…women’s jeans, top, pink nails and booties did nothing to
change the “Sir” rut I was in.  Yes, it appears the ponytail thing (even tied higher-than-
normal-for-guys) tips my presentation into “male” mode.   Well, most of the time.  At a
wedding we attended a few weeks ago,even the ponytail with a men's sportcoat didn’t stop servers
from addressing me as a female.

On the third day…I was at last back in girl mode.  This was to be an exciting day…    

Checking out of the motel as a girl elicited no gender specific forms of address.   But the
same female clerk (who didn’t see me disguised as a boy the day before) seemed much more   
friendly and talkative.

Time for some more sightseeing before heading east:  On the map, I noticed that in the
nearby town of Duncansville,  there was a park named Chimney Rock Park.   The rain was
gone and it was just cloudy, so I decided to explore a bit…   Found it, and the rock formations
didn’t look like chimneys to me, but very pretty nonetheless.  What made it special was the
view.  You drive up a hill to get there, and a short trail takes you to an overlook above the town. 
Very pretty.  And in this case, it was good that there were clouds…the sun might have been
an issue as far as pictures go.

Then it was off to the town of Mt. Union, PA – northern terminus of the narrow gauge
East Broad Top Railroad, coal hauler from the Broad Top coal fields.  The railroad died
in the mid 50’s, and got stuck in a time warp – it still looks just the same as it did when the
workers went home that fateful night the railroad died (April 14, 1956) – and never came
back.   Instead of scrapping it lock, stock and barrel, the new owner allowed it to sit in

The EBT was reincarnated in the 1961 season, as a tourist hauler by its new owner, using
a 5 mile section of the railroad.  But once again the EBT breathed its last - at the end of
the 2011 season.  And now, the railroad sits once again, rusting in the rain, still stuck in
its time warp.

Will there be a "third time's the charm?"  Or will it be scrapped?  Only time will tell.

In Mt. Union, much of the track was dual gauge – for regular and narrow gauge equipment.  
Hence the following picture of tracks still embedded in US Route 522: I understand that
there is still a string of EBT hoppers hiding in the woods (a skirt and nylons weren't quite
the appropriate attire for tromping around n the brush and trees), but at least some of the
dual gauge track is currently being used for standard gauge freight car storage.

And then I drove on to Orbisonia, the home base for the little railroad, taking pictures of 
remaining track and bridges, as a record of how they look today.   Some infrastructure looked
better than I thought it would, others much, much worse.   Time has not been kind to the

The Rockhill Trolley Museum (across the parking lot) was having its annual pumpkin patch
specials.  Thus the EBT parking lots were full.  Many attendees were doing just as I was:
walking around the EBT property to check it out.   And it was legal to do, as EBT owners 
had people on the scene, to be sure everyone was "just looking or taking pictures."  

In the above picture, I’m standing in front of the Orbisonia roundhouse and turntable. 
Inside are several narrow gauge steam engines, which are no longer in operation.   None
of the buildings were open for inspection, but the weeds were cut, thus making it easy to
walk around the facility to take pictures.   One of the people in charge (sixtysomething male)
told me what the buildings were.    

And the man who offered to help by taking the above picture was very helpful.

Subsequently I walked across the parking lot to the Trolley Museum.  My ticket was good for
all day (which didn’t matter, as my time there was limited).  But I was supposed to be able to
get a tour of the two carbarns.   I inquired about such a tour to the group of conductors sitting
there, and they said they could do that…but since the day was kid-oriented it was only on
an as-needed basis.  

One of the conductors commented that women alone don’t often ask to take the tour.  "You 
must be a trolley fan."  "My mother and I used to ride the PCC cars on the 42/38 line in 
Pittsburgh."  So, the fiftysomething conductor said:  “Come this way,  Ma’am.”   When
we reached the rope across the garage doorway, he said:  “Here, I’ll hold the rope down to
make it easier for you to step across.”   And as I did, he took my left hand -  “Let me
steady you, Ma’am.”  Nice!

Once over the rope barricade,  my personalized tour continued.  As I climbed into a couple of
trolleys without step boxes, he took my hand again both times to steady me as I stepped on
and off thecar.  (Men sure can be handy to have around!)   And as for today, with all due
respect to Shania Twain,  “Man,  I feel like a woman!”   I commented that if I'd realized I’d
be climbing on rail equipment today, I wouldn’t have worn a skirt.  We both got a chuckle
out of that...he reassured me that “You aren’t the first woman to do this in a skirt, and you
won’t be the last one, dear.”

Then when we finished, he offered to take my picture next to one of the trolleys…above.

I got in line with the group getting on the next trolley ride.  It was fun, and most of the ladies 
exchanged smiles with me.   We all commented about the fiddler playing at the trolley stop to 
entertain the kids, and they way the kids received it.  Once on board, a young mom’s 2 month
old baby was very animated, and was smiling and cooing at both grandparents and me.  I
guess the practice with my granddaughter has paid off…

This trolley had the wicker upholstery that, back in the day, was the scourge of nylons-wearing 
women.  You can see in the picture below how close the wicker was to my knees (and no
room to cross my legs, but fortunately my skirt protected the back of my legs.    Years ago,
many girls had their stockings ruined by snagging on the wicker.   I was very lucky – mine
survived intact!  (But I sure was careful to not move around in my seat!)

Don't snag those pantyhose!

Next stop was to photograph more relics of the EBT’s past.    Including site of the station and
town hotel in Saltillo, the freight house on Railroad Street in Three Springs (below)...

and Mandy in front of the former EBT station in Robertsdale:

As an added bonus, by walking through some uncut grass, I located an unconventional
configuration for the wye (which crosses a stream) behind the Post Office in Robertsdale:

There was reportedly a coal mining museum in Robertsdale’s old theatre building, which was 
supposed to be open.  I drove by the theatre, and two heavyset fortysomething men were out
front, probably enjoying a cigarette.  They watched me as I inched slowly by in the car (perhaps
their day's entertainment?), then they went inside.  I parked and hesitatingly approached the
front door.  Finding no mention of a museum on the fliers on the doors, and with the door
unlocked,  I decided to go on in…not knowing quite what to expect.

Both men were in the main part of the theatre, past the second set of doors.  They stared at me
as I came through the doors.  So I smiled, said hi, and inquired about the museum.  Turns out
the museum had moved, and the old-time theatre is now a church.   OooooKay....  The silent
one appeared to be eyeing me, from my feet to my hair, and back down.   The one who was
talking, couldn’t keep his eyes off my legs.  (I’ll take that as the supreme compliment -
thanks to him!)  

Through the ages, guys always have checked out gals, but this little lesson emphatically taught
me precisely how uncomfortable it can make some girls feel.   The bright side is - the pair were
basically decent men.  I could have encountered serious issues that day.  I won't kid you...
I really was happy to say "so long", and make my exit.   

However, as info - it's not the first time that I've "barged into" an old theatre - the notable
difference is that I was presenting as androgynous that day - and more importantly, my wife 
was with me.  And yes, before you ask, the guy who came to "greet" us in the inside hallway
identified us two women.  (Most importantly, we got a tour of the theatre.)  But there was 
safety in numbers.   (Moral of story for theatre owners - keep those doors locked if you don't 
want sightseers!)

Finally, I headed for the barn… it had been one long, interesting, rewarding - and fun - day.

When I checked into the motel, their thirtysomething male clerk addressed me as female.  A 
perfect way to end a wonderful day!

More later...


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

On the road (yet again...)

I’ve been traveling again…   

Opportunities tend to arise from time to time, sometimes on the spur of the moment.   And
while my wife was visiting her sister in Chicago seemed to be one of those good moments.

This time the trip amounted to three sightseeing days as a gal, and one day impersonating
a guy. I had things to do in Pennsylvania, and I never let these trips “happen” without
taking my girl stuff along.    I planned on several selfies; those are the outfits which made
it into my suitcase.   Unfortunately, you’ve seen my skirts and dress before…I would loved
to buy new things (but with no storage space???).   My objective was to try out some every
day topswith my existing outfits. Everyday tops eliminate some of the laundry hassles I'd
otherwise encounter.

My first day was for traveling, and some light sightseeing.  Enroute at Severna Park, a
suburb of Baltimore, I came across a former substation/power plant for the long-defunct
Baltimore & Annapolis RR (a walking trail on the old right-of-way runs right past it.)  In
addition to its being an antique in its own right, the building is now an antique shop.

A lot of driving later, I found myself heading west on US Route 30, the Lincoln Highway. 
And near the small town of Everett, PA, I came across one of many so-called “roadside
oddities” - or as they call it:  one of the “Roadside Giants of the Lincoln Highway.”  It’s
the “world’s largest quarter.”  Unfortunately it was raining, thus:  no selfie.  

Having been in Everett a long time ago, I knew there was an old Huntington and Broad
Top railroad station (complete with a stuffed and mounted H&BT caboose and locomotive)
located there.   Never known to bypass such a sight (especially as a girl), I dropped in to
re-make my acquaintance.     Unfortunately it was drizzling, which made staying under
cover a requirement, and good pictures hard to get, but at least I was able to get one. 
And it was cold…my turtleneck and jumper dress felt very cozy - and warm!   

From there it was off to Altoona, site of the world-famous Pennsylvania Railroad’s
Horseshoe Curve.    Notice the silver signal gantry behind me, up at track level.  The
railroad is now owned and operated by Norfolk Southern (as part of the breakup of
the Conrail system), and before I left to head for my motel, a train went by.  Of course
the curve is on a significant grade, so you can hear westbound trains crawling
upgrade a long time before they actually appear.  Naturally, I stayed around for the
show…fortunately, no more drizzle.

And before calling it a day, I dropped in at the so-called “America’s oldest gas station”: 
Reighard’sin Altoona!   Again, the recurring drizzle dampened enthusiasm for doing a
selfie.  Darn it anyway. 

I checked into the motel as a female.  Had no issues, but the fortysomething female clerk
stayed “neutral” – most likely due to my given name nowadays being a girl’s name.    
No gender-specific terms were used.   Once settled in, I managed to do a selfie in the
room's full-length mirror.

Much more to follow.   Stay tuned!


Saturday, October 14, 2017

More humdrum stuff, and from the Unusual Location Names Department.

Life is getting back to normal after the long vacation...and the weather cooled off a bit.

So, when heading to a nearby auto parts store to redeem a coupon (not the store where the "guy in a skirt" used to - or maybe still - works), I chose black capris, pantyhose, a purple tunic tee, and flats (along with the ever-present cues.)   And was addressed as female.  Always a good thing.

When we got back from our last trip, my nails needed filled.  So I stopped in at the nail salon, where the tech affirmed my femininity by addressing me as "Miss Mandy."  I'm pretty sure they know I'm a guy (probably from other women in the neighborhood who know me), but she likes the tips, and seems to remember how to address me.   Which is a good thing!

Following that,,, we found that a neighbor's table umbrella (a big 8 feet in diameter) had taken flight in the previous day's wind storm.  It landed at the edge of the woods near our place.  We both felt that the neighborly thing to do was rescue it and put it under his deck, so it wouldn't blow again.

I was wearing my navy blue housedress and was barefooted, so I told her I'd go put on some yard shoes (wild animals sometimes use our yard as their bathroom.)  I said nothing about changing clothes.   She said she wanted to change into some yard shoes, too.  While she did that, I got the basement door open and went out to survey the situation.  The umbrella was upside down and the spokes were tangled in some weeds, while the main post was stuck in a tree branch.   And it was heavy.  The only thing missing was Mary Poppins (pun intended.)

We wrestled it out of there, collapsed it and stowed it under the neighbor's deck.  Mind you, in view of several other houses in the row.   No concern about my being seen...but in reality the neighbor was out for the weekend, and the neighbor beyond that, lives on the other side of their house.  So the odds against being seen were small.  But there was no resistance.

Pushing the envelope is good...and yet I know that at some point, my presentation will meet with resistance, whether from my wife, or at places we frequent.  Time will tell.

While exploring the Johnson City, TN area on our most recent excursion, we came across the following unusual street name:

The homes were beautiful, on big lots, with lots of expensive cars in driveways.   Might be a good place to live...even with the name...


Saturday, October 7, 2017

Some humdrum stuff...

For most of our vacation, I stayed dressed in my usual shorts and top outfits, with flats.

At the first motel on our trip home, the TV wasn't working when we got back from our evening meal.  We had already unpacked and were settled in for the night (with me in my house dress and my daytime outfit already in the dirty laundry bag.)   After calling the front desk and following the female desk clerk's phone instruction, I still couldn't make it work.  So she said she'd be right there.

No way to deny who was "wearing the pants in the family" and ""who was wearing the panties" when the clerk knocked on the door.  My wife didn't tell me to change, nor was I told to fact, she told me to open the door - yes, while wearing my dress (and barefoot, with all 20 pink nails showing.)     My attire caused no issue, from the clerk OR my wife...and the clerk omitted any reference to gender for either/both of us.   Unable to fix the equipment issue, the clerk suggested that we talk with the manager in the morning about an adjustment.   After she left, there were still no comments from my was like nothing unusual happened.  Not a word about my dress.

Yes, I talked to the day manager, but not wearing a dress...and got an adjustment.   Bet I was the talk of the motel that day...

When I checked in to the motel on the second night, the thirtysomething female desk clerk omitted any gender references.  After settling in, we headed to the motel's dining room for dinner, and the fiftysomething female server identified me as male.  I was "Sir" for the entire meal. But when I checked out the next morning, a different desk clerk (fiftysomething female) addressed me as  "Ma'am."   Very interesting.

On TV at the motel, the show my wife was watching featured a man and his son visiting Scotland with his wife and daughter.   The boys both bought kilts.   I ignored most of the show, but filed its existence away for future reference.  While finishing our drive home the next day, I asked my wife how the show with the kilts went, and she said that they wore their kilts the rest of that day.   So I reminded her that I haven't forgotten about getting a kilt to wear on St Patty's day and Halloween.   She told me that she was fine with it, but "it's the silliest thing I've heard of."

Maybe I'm making headway?  Or these were the "path of least resistance..."  Either way is OK!

Once back home,  we again visited the restaurant where my wife and I have "both been recognized as ladies."  My outfit was white capris, a navy blue women's tee top, and my dark slide sandals, with all the usual enhancements and accoutrements except "no jewelry other than my necklace, or makeup."   The female staff duly addressed and treated us as "ladies."

Hmmm...on the two previous visits, why did we have one success and one failure?  So I looked back at the posts.   In a post about the success, I stated that I was in capris and a top, with my white slide sandals.   In the other post I didn't state what I was wearing, but based on my reception at Lancaster, PA  I suspect that I'm more often seen as a woman in the capris, even though my shorts are very short.  I will pay attention to that theory over the next few outings in shorts...

More later...

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Yabba Dabba Doo

While in Tennessee, the kids took us to see the State Fair in Nashville.

The weather was hot, and the baby was a bit restless, but it was a typical state fair, with all the trimmings: rides, games, lots of overpriced $8 for a hot dog and $2.50 for a soda:

And the animals:

I guess you could say it was a "Mmmmoooooo-ving" experience (pun intended.)

And more sightseeing was in order in Nashville.  No, we didn't go to Greece...but downtown has its own Parthenon - in Centennial Park. 

Per Wikipedia: Nashville's moniker, the "Athens of the South", influenced the choice of the building as the centerpiece of the 1897 Centennial Exposition. A number of buildings at the Exposition were based on ancient originals, however the Parthenon was the only one that was an exact reproduction. It was also the only one that was preserved by the city,.
Major Eugene Castner Lewis was the director of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition and it was at his suggestion that a reproduction of the Parthenon be built in Nashville to serve as the centerpiece of Tennessee’s Centennial Celebration. Lewis also served as the chief civil engineer for the Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railroad. Originally built of plaster, wood, and brick, the Parthenon was not intended to be permanent, but the cost of demolishing the structure combined with its popularity with residents and visitors alike resulted in it being left standing after the Exposition. In 1895 George Julian Zolnay was "employed to make models for the ornamentation" for the building. Within the next 20 years, weather had defaced the landmark; it was then rebuilt on the same foundations, in concrete, in a project that started in 1920; the exterior was completed in 1925 and the interior in 1931.
Some of the most elaborate events that occurred at the Parthenon were the Spring Pageants of 1913 and 1914. These extravaganzas were theatrical productions on a massive scale. With casts of up to 500, the Pageants brought in audiences from surroundings states and rail prices were lowered to encourage attendance. The entire city of Nashville reveled in the opportunity to celebrate the "Athens of the South."

A fabulous re-creation!

On the way back to Maryland, we stopped in the small town of Lexington, VA.  Here we located the "Fred Flintstone era" foot-powered car...   And with higher gas prices from the hurricane, that might be the wave of the future!   Plus, no need for factory air conditioning...

Yabba dabba doo to you too!

It sure was a fun trip...