Written by Suzanne715 on 21 Jun, 2005
Arriving at Kipona, I was delightfully surprised by the bright, bold colors everywhere. Large blue, red, and yellow banners line the crest of the riverbank. Green flags wave overhead in the soft breeze. Red and white petunias spill over flower boxes at an eating area…Read More
Arriving at Kipona, I was delightfully surprised by the bright, bold colors everywhere. Large blue, red, and yellow banners line the crest of the riverbank. Green flags wave overhead in the soft breeze. Red and white petunias spill over flower boxes at an eating area on City Island by picnic tables spouting hunter green umbrellas for shade. Wide concrete walkways and stairs, built along the water’s edge for blocks, hold patrons in bright summer outfits. Meticulously painted drag boats in a rainbow of colors sit just a few feet from the shoreline awaiting their turn to race. Spectators compare engines and paint designs and pick their favorite boat to win.
As the light flashes from red to green, the drivers and their boats scream up the channel, two at a time, in hopes of winning and moving on to the next round. The races last three hours. Its a great excuse to get out and enjoy the fresh air of summer before it's gone for another year.
Kipona, one of the oldest waterfront festivals in the United States, is held every Labor Day weekend. The word Kipona means "Sprakling Water" in the Native American language. The drag boat races are usually scheduled for Sunday afternoon. It is held along the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania skyline--Riverfront Park, City Island, and the majestic Susquehanna River. There are food stands, children's rides, canoe races, live music, arts and crafts, Native American Pow-wow, fireworks and more during the three-day event.
Harrisburg is an easy drive from all over Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virgina. There is plenty of parking ($2) on City Island. The festival is free. For more information on the drag boat races or other Kipona activities, check Kipona Festival.
Written by Suzanne715 on 24 Jun, 2005
In the warmth of a radiant summer day, my husband and I take our mountain bikes to a trail he stumbled across while fishing in the Juniata River. As soon as we began our trek into the unknown, the smell of the Earth’s rich…Read More
In the warmth of a radiant summer day, my husband and I take our mountain bikes to a trail he stumbled across while fishing in the Juniata River. As soon as we began our trek into the unknown, the smell of the Earth’s rich humus of dried leaves, soil, and decaying logs beckon us to continue onward. Towering trees lining the riverbank to the east, and the mountain range to our west makes a perfect emerald canopy of shade with their abundance of green leaves. The atmosphere is so quiet and peaceful, we hear the twigs snapping beneath our bike wheels as we make our way down the path.
After a short distance, the trail crosses over a little brook. We stop and listen to the water babbling over the rocks. We observe wildlife along the way: a deer grazing in tall grass at the edge of the woodland, a flock of turkeys, squirrels, and chipmunks. Although these sights were awesome, they weren’t the highlight of our ride.
After riding about 45 minutes, the trail enters a Pennsylvania State Game Land parking area. We take the dirt path to the right and cross a set of railroad tracks. The path ends at the cool, sparkling waters of the Juniata River. We pedal faster to reach the water’s edge as quickly as possible. Taking our sneakers off to dip our feet in the water, we look back at where we have just come from. The scene is breathtaking--our mouths drop wide open. Acres of vibrant green soybean fields, outlined by a dirt road against the backdrop of the enormous Tuscarora Mountain Range and bright blue skies, take our breath away. A coal train chugs along through the middle of it all, and for a moment, I thought I was looking at a postcard.
No one is ever around the area, so it’s a very romantic spot to spread out a blanket, take a dip in the river, and enjoy a picnic. Its nice to have a place to escape reality, if only for a little while, so close to home.
The trail has small rolling hills, but nothing to strenuous. Watch going down a few of the hills, because there are some rocky spots and a steep embankment on the east side. To find the trailhead, take Route 322 to Millerstown, Pennsylvania (about 45 minutes north of Harrisburg). Turn left at the square onto Route 17 West and cross the bridge over the Juniata River (1 block). Turn right on to Sugar Run Road and park at the bottom of the hill by the railroad tracks. Follow the gravel road that leads through a property with a green house and red barn. You will see the large gate in front of you. Anyone is allowed to use the trail, as long as you follow a few simple rules: no littering, no motorized
vehicles, and stay out of the farmer’s fields. Please don’t spoil it for others.
To reach the same area by car, take Route 322 to the Thompsontown Exit. Follow signs to Route 333. After crossing the river bridge, turn right and follow it to the end. There is a dirt road between two properties (unmarked), and follow up through the woods for several miles. It is quite a hilly, rough road. The drive is slow and takes about 20 minutes. You will end at the State Game Land parking lot. TIP: Know when the hunting seasons are - or go on a Sunday.
Written by Suzanne715 on 06 Jun, 2005
A large patio overlooks red, gold, and orange autumn leaves draping the scenic Swatara Creek. The reflection of the brilliant colors bounces off the water like a mirror. Leafy green vines dangle above the grey stone cavern entrance. Inside the cavern, blue-grey limestone arcs overhead.…Read More
A large patio overlooks red, gold, and orange autumn leaves draping the scenic Swatara Creek. The reflection of the brilliant colors bounces off the water like a mirror. Leafy green vines dangle above the grey stone cavern entrance. Inside the cavern, blue-grey limestone arcs overhead. Several small white lights under a ledge illuminate the path to the enormous Indian Ballroom (110 feet long and 50 feet high). Its limestone walls have thousands of stalactites, stalagmites, and helictites, all sizes and shapes, scattered everywhere. Beside the entrance to the northern canyon sits a stately column still forming after a stalactite and stalagmite joined millions of years ago. Water markings from the flood that Hurricane Agnus caused in 1972 create a circle high along the walls. In the center of the room, a slippery concrete stairway ascends to an enchanting display of small rock formations and lacy ferns surrounding a small pond.
In the southern canyon, Josh, our tour guide, tells us the tale of the Mummy and the Giant while using a flashlight to point out formations that make up the story. Water drips from above splashing our heads. The passage winds around to the Dead End Room, where the cavern roof collapsed forming what is called a breakdown. Turning to go back, we gaze up at the beautiful Natural Bridge rock arching over the wet gravel path.
The northern canyon meanders through a wonderland of flowstone with thousands of sparkling crystals. Moss dots the flowstone and bears resemblance to white icing dripping off the sides of cupcakes topped with green sugar sprinkles.
Rainbow Room, the tallest room at 80 feet high, has seven colors present: red clay, brown mud, blue-grey limestone, white calcium carbonate (flowstone), grey and black smoke damage (from early cave dweller campfires), and green plants. Delicate ferns that look like baby starfish grow on the walls, creating an awesome atrium.
The northern canyon ends at Crystal Lake and Wedding Lake. Crystal Lake sits full of clear spring water, while Wedding Lake is drier than normal. Between the two lakes lies The Wedding Chapel, a narrow room with a wooden walkway. Formations such as Honeymoon Ski Slopes, Pipe Organ, and Six Tiered Wedding Cake decorate the area.
The last room on the cavern tour, Wilson’s Room, has black smoke stains on the limestone walls from campfires built by William Wilson. He called the cavern home from 1802 to 1821. Willy slept on a rock ledge over the fire pit so the heat from the fire would warm the rocks, which made for a good night’s sleep. He died in the cave at age of 62, and his jounral provides great insight in to his life. A small version of the journal is available for purchase in the gift shop.
In 1919, a black wooden box with strange markings, found on a ledge in the Rainbow Room, appeared to be empty. A hidden plug opened a secret compartment in the box. Inside were several gems, jewelry, and a note on how to make diamonds. The box and its contents are on display in the gift shop.
According to the legend, Susquehannock Indians once lived along Swatara Creek. Some highlights of the story are how they used the cave for protection from harsh winter weather and to escape from summer heat. Since the cave stays at a constant 52°F, it offered them help year-round. It was also used to store food. The Indians didn’t venture far into the cavern for fear evil spirits might be lurking about.
Indian Echo Caverns, located in south-central Pennsylvania, opened for visitors in 1929. The tour lasts about 45 minutes. Beside the cavern, Indian Echo has gem panning, a playground, and a picnic area. Hours of operation are from 9am to 6pm Memorial Day through Labor Day. The rest of the year, hours are 10am to 4pm. The cavern is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. Indian Echo Caverns is located between Harrisburg and Hershey off Route 322 in Hummelstown, on Middletown Road. For more information, Indian Echo Caverns or call 717/566-8131. If you are looking for other attractions in the area or places to stay, a great source of information is The Hershey Harrisburg Area Welcome Center