The Pride of the Susquehanna

And so it was that on Tuesday morning, I walked out my front door with nothing more than a daysack, a fanny pack, a tiny purple mini cooler, and my camera bag, and began my grand adventure.

A five-minutes' walk from our drive way, I caught a bus to State College. From there, I caught another bus that would take me to visit my sister in Harrisburg. The next morning, my sister and I would catch a bus to the beach for some sun, sand, and sister time.

So I bid a fond farewell to my husband and that loyal tabbycat, Dexter, and set off. Things went swimmingly, I made my connections, and I was in Harrisburg before noon.

My sister and one of her friends met me at the transportation center. We loaded my daysack and mini cooler into her friend's car and he took them back to the house, and my sister and I went off on walkabout.

The first thing we did was to visit the marvelous dinosaurs that are part of the Dino-Mite Summer outdoor art exhibition. There are about 30 dinos in total, and we visited most of them. I can't possibly include all of the pictures of them I took, and I took MANY!!! Hmm, maybe I should make a dinosaur book next. . . . But I digress.

I've included just one dinosaur pic - say hi to Circus Saurus! - in the extras for your enjoyment, but I'll link you to the main exhibit website because I suspect you'll want to see more. Here's a local news story as well, for the dino lovers.

The unquenchable child who still lives inside me insists that at night, the dinosaurs come to life, and they frolic about the streets of the city and along the river. What does Circus Saurus do? Well, it grabs the flag, hops on one of those bicycles, and cycles around the city, madly waving the flag in the air!

After all of the dino fun, my sister and I hot-footed it across the Market Street Bridge, admiring all of the beautiful bridges and arches that cross the river nearby. Harrisburg is a city by the river, and the river we crossed was the Susquehanna.

Per Wikipedia, the Susquehanna River is among the oldest rivers in the world. It is also "the longest river on the east coast that drains into the Atlantic Ocean." (A bit of quick trivia: Pennsylvania is the state with the most miles of streams and rivers in the continental U.S., at about 86,000.) And we crossed that river to get to our next stop, City Island, where we would take a ride on a paddle-wheel riverboat!

Years ago, there was a contest to name the boat, and one of my sister's closest friends won. The name her friend picked is The Pride of the Susquehanna, which is absolutely perfect.

The friend gets free tickets to ride the Pride anytime she wants, forever. Isn't that cool? So the friend gave my sister a pair of tickets, and we went on a free boat ride. Isn't that the best kind?

Clouds had been gathering, and as we walked across the bridge, we thought we might have felt a rain drop or two. Hmm, no, it couldn't be. We arrived at the boat dock and I was taking some pictures (of course). I think that even a non-expert in weather forecasting can take a look at those ominous clouds over the boat and guess what happened next!

As we sat waiting for our boat ride, the heavens opened up and it began to pour! But fortunately the good folks running the afternoon river cruises were ready for us, and they quickly ushered us onto the boat.

So we all were under roof as the worst of the rain hit. But it was a quick rain, very intense, and it blew over just as quickly, even before our boat ride began. We were not inconvenienced a bit.

Just for fun, here's a factoid from the Pride of the Susquehanna website:

The Pride is one of only 6 remaining “authentic” paddle wheel riverboat in the United States. This means that the Pride ONLY uses the paddle wheels for both propulsion and steering.  There are no propellers, rudders or other forms of propulsion or steering. Truly a gem in our modern world!

And then they took us on a lovely 45-minute cruise up the river a bit, and around some islands. We had a great view of the front street of Harrisburg and the capitol dome, shining goldly above it all. Very classy looking!

After our little jaunt, back on City Island, we each enjoyed an order of golden french fries, slathered with ketchup, from a little food stand. Delightful, all the way around! I am a girl who can eat french fries almost any day of the week, any time of day.

We were tired of walking by then, and so my sister called her friend to come and pick us up. And while we waited, we walked up on the Walnut Street Bridge, which is now a pedestrians-only walkway between downtown Harrisburg and City Island. What a view!

And then we thought we felt a rain drop. Or maybe two. No, it couldn't be. But it was: more rain! But we were right by a highway overpass, and so we stepped underneath it, and we weren't bothered at all by the weather.

In fact, beneath the overpass (and much to my sister's amusement - or possibly horror - it's hard to tell which), I started dancing. Yes, I did. Up and down the angled cement edges, twirling and dancing, stepping up and down, spinning, and singing (yes, I actually sang): "I'm singin' in the rain! Just singin' in the rain . . . " 

In mere minutes, the tiny storm was done, and my sister's friend arrived to take us back to their house for visiting and a cookout. Such good hospitality - and so I include a shout-out and thanks to my sister's friends, who hosted us.

Before the cookout, we also squeezed in a little visit to the city kitties that my sister takes care of (including Dexter's mom!). And when our day was done, we collapsed exhausted into our beds, all worn out from all the walking and adventures. What a fun start to my mini vacation!

In honor of the riverboat ride, which was lovely, my main photo is the Pride of the Susquehanna. I hadn't ridden on a paddle-wheel boat since I visited New Orleans more than 20 years ago, and I had forgotten how delightful and old-fashioned and genteel it would be. (I could go on and on.) And so the song for this day is in honor of our boat ride. Here is Louisiana's LeRoux, with Take a Ride on a Riverboat. 

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