The Ultimate Road Trip: THE SILVER SNAIL : A solo woman's full-time RV adventure
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Clarion, Pennsylvania


After having spent a couple of weeks in the Jackson Center terraport (meeting with Larry Huttle and making my selections for the model they would build me), I backtracked to Cleveland for a few weeks. I was waiting to finalize the deal with Larry Huttle and get a delivery date, and I didn't want to go far. The deal did not go so quickly, or as planned (see the complete updated story on the Jackson Center page), and while I was waiting, Airstream friends Tom and Martha once again made a compelling case for me to go visit Penn Wood Airstream park in Clarion, Pennsylvania....or La La Land, as they like to call it. It was an easy two hour drive, so I decided to go see for myself.

There's not much to the town of Clarion, and initially I didn't think I would stay very long here. But as the days passed, I saw what a treasure this Airstream park is. It's only open May-October and the Airstreamers that lease sites here stay for the entire season and have been doing so for many years, so it has a very warm family feel to it. People are fun and easy-going and almost everybody has a dog. There's also a happy hour outside every day. The park itself is beautifully maintained and many of the sites are very large and private with personal landscape touches. Wifi is pretty good and my cell phone booster helped with the poor cell coverage. When the opportunity to buy into a half-lease for the rest of the season was offered, I jumped on it.

Almost immediately upon my arrival, I got to know my next door neighbor Jason and his little dogs Kirby and Suzy. He had recently purchased a 1988 Airstream 345 motorhome and had found Penn Wood about a month before I had arrived. He hadn't seen a reason to leave either. Behind his motorhome he towed a beautiful 1999 Harley Davidson Springer Softail. He strategically parked it on his patio where it was directly in my view so that I couldn't help but hope for a ride on the backcountry roads. We ended up killing a lot of time exploring western Pennsylvania and got inspired to make some videos:




What small-town Clarion lacked in amenities, Cook Forest made up for with it's hiking trails through old-growth forest and along the shallow Clarion River. It sealed the deal for me to stay here through the end of summer. Harley and I often hiked a favorite loop through the Forest Cathedral and we also discovered nearby Gateway Lodge as a most excellent restaurant that serves food from local farms and makes an especially good mushroom soup.

Speaking of food, most people do their grocery shopping at Walmart here. I don't consider Walmart to be the best place to get my food, so after some investigating, I found that Sage Meadow in downtown Clarion offered some very excellent (and affordable!) local grass-fed beef and free-range chicken. Clarion also has a farmer's market on Saturday mornings where more fresh, local food can be found.

It's always nice to find a good local breakfast place. The County Seat, on Main Street, was that place for me - any day of the week, except for Sunday. The whole town wants breakfast at the County Seat on Sundays so the line is out the door.


Home of everybody's favorite neighbor (Mr. Roger's), Pittsburgh was close enough for an occasional day trip. Similar to Cleveland and Portland (Oregon) it's a city of bridges that cross a river - the Allegheny River, in this case. There's a familiar grittiness that comes with any industrial town, but Pittsburgh's got a hip factor that surprised me. There's a strong music and arts scene here, as well as foodie delights. A stroll through the Strip District revealed all sorts of tasty delicacies and interesting shopping. And the South Side was a good place to go for music and nightlife.

When the end of summer came, and the park was closing down for the season, I still had not reached any resolution with Airstream, so I decided to start heading south for the winter while continuing my efforts with them.


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