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Over the past few weeks, several people have asked me for directions to the Williams Grove Flea Markets. So rather than answer every email, I thought I would post the directions here.

General Directions

Cross the river on Interstate 83 South and stay to the left so that when 83 South and route 581 West split, you can stay on 581. Once the two roads split, go about 2 miles and exit on Route 15 South. Make sure you slow down becuase there is lots of construction. Take 15 South for about 3 or 4 miles to the Lisburn Road Exit. Get off and make a right at the bottom of the ramp. You will come to a signal light almost right away. Make a left at that light. Go about 1/2 mile and you will come to a stop sign and a sign for Aschcombes. Make a right at that stop sign and follow the road around until you pass Aschcombes and come to a stop sign. Continue below depending on which flea market you want to go to.

For the Top Flea Market

Make a left at the stop sign and go about 1/4 mile. You will cross a brand new bridge. You’ll see a huge sign for the flea market on your right. Once you get onto the driveway there are signs telling you which way to go if you’re a customer or a vendor.

For the Bottom Flea Market

Make a right at the stop sign just past Aschcombes. Go about 1/4 mile and turn left at the sign for Williams Grove Speedway (I think the road is called Park Place). Go another 1/4 mile and the parking lot is on the right. I believe that vendors can drive their vehicles into the park to unload.

If you’re coming from the west, from Interstate 81, take the exit for route 581 East. Get off at route 15 South and follow the same directions.

If you’re coming from either direction on the turnpike, take exit 236 and follow route 15 South to the Lisburn Road Exit and follow the above directions from there.

If you’re coming from Gettysburg, take Route 15 North through Dillsburg and turn left on route 74. Go about a mile and turn right on Dogwood Run. The entrance to the upper flea market will be on your left in about half a mile. For the lower flea market go another 1/2 mile or so and turn left on Park Place. The parking lot will be on your right.

I hope these directions are helpful. Have fun at the flea market and happy hunting.

Please check out Picnic Baskets and More for wicker picnic baskets, barbecue tools, picnic backpacks and other picnic accessories.

Last Sunday I was getting ready to head to Sundance Vacations Speedway in Drums, PA when I stopped to ask myself why I was going. I’ve been to Sundance Vacations Speedway many times and to tell you the truth, it’s not one of my favorite tracks. So, if it’s not one of my favorite tracks, again, why was I going? What I realized was that yes, I love the racing but what I really love is the time I get to spend with my friends. I’ve been going to the races for over 40 years and regularly for the past 25 or so. During that time I’ve made some great friends that I will cherish forever.

When I lived in Long Island (1986 – 1991) I used to go to Riverhead Raceway every Saturday night. There I met my friend Herb. Herb was in his eighties and had been a racing fan for 60 years. I used to love sitting at his kitchen table listening to his stories about the golden age of racing. I was lucky enough to take Herb on his last racing road trip to Flemington Speedway in 1991. I think about him all the time.

In 1987 I went to the Race of Champions at Pocono International Raceway in Pennsylvania. For those who don’t know, the Race of Champions is the biggest event in modified racing. I decided to save some money by camping at the track so I packed my camping gear and picnic accessories and headed to the track. When I got there I pitched my camping tent and built a fire. Within 10 minutes a man and  his two sons came over to my fire to say hi. I found out that his name is David and that he’s from Maryland. We got to talking and became good friends. I still keep in touch with David today even though I don’t see him as often as I used to. You know what, I think I’ll call him tonight.

It turns out that David had a bunch of other racing friends and it didn’t take them long to make me a member of the gang. Today I see Ed, Jeff, Jim, Keith and many of the others at races all over the north east. Last year there was a modified race in North Carolina so I called Ed in Connecticut to see if he was going. Ed stopped and picked me up on his way and we went to the race in North Carolina together. The funny thing is that I’ve never seen David, Ed, Jeff, Jim, Keith or any of the others anywhere except at the races. Funny how friendship works.

This brings me back to why I went to Sundance Vacations Speedway last Sunday. Did I go for the racing? Maybe to a degree. The fact is that I went because my friends Joe and Mike were going to be there. Joe and Mike are father and son and I met them at a race in Oswego, NY in 2004. It turns out that we were all regulars at Mahoning Valley Speedway but we had never met.  Since then we have gone racing together to many tracks in several states. Joe and Mike have become two of my best friends in the world and I went to Sundance Vacations Speedway that day to be with them.

I love racing because of the speed, the smells and the sounds. I realized today, though, that I love racing mostly because of the many friends I’ve made at the races and the lifelong memories that racing has given me.

My Friends Joe and Mike at Shangri-La 2

My Friends Joe and Mike at Shangri-La 2

Are you a fan of short track auto racing? Have you been sad to see all the tracks shut down over the past 15 years? Were you as angry as I was when Darrell Waltrip said that short tracks should run on Friday nights so NASCAR could own Saturdays?  If you answered yes to these questions then you’re going to love hearing about the brand new Shangri-La 2 Motor Speedway in Owego, NY. Yes, that’s right, a new era in auto racing has begun in the southern tier of New York.

I was there on that sad day in 2005 when Jan Leaty won the final modified race and the orignial Shangri-La Speedway (renamed Tioga Motorsports Park) shut down for good in the name of progress. I was also there many times in the 1970s when racing greats like Richie Evans, Jim Shampine, George Kent and others put on some of the best modified races ever. Do you know that George Kent and Richie Evans together won 156 modified races at Shangri La? Everyone including me believed that an era was over on August 28, 2005 when the gates of the original track were closed forever.

While nothing can ever replace my childhood memories of Shangri-La Speedway, I’m pleased to report that a new tradition started on the Fourth of July weekend in 2009. Shangri-La 2 Motor Speedway opened for its first weekend of great racing. The scream of race car motors brought to fruition the years long efforts of owner and racer George Swansbrough. While Jim Lamoreaux and Earl Paules were the first main event winners, the real winners were everyone in the grandstand. We have a fantastic new track to visit and the tradition of modified racing in the southern tier is safe for many years to come.

Earl Paules at Shangri-La 2

Earl Paules at Shangri-La 2

Shangri-La 2 is a one-half mile concrete high banked oval track that is built to be very fan friendly. The infield pit area is sunk into the ground far enough that visibility is great from just about anywhere in the grandstand. The track was built along side of Skyview Drags, a one-eighth mile dragstrip also owned by George Swansbrough. The two tracks run at the same time and your admission price is good for both venues. We had a fantastic time on Sunday walking back and forth between the two and taking in the great racing action. The track concessions were good and you are allowed to bring your picnic cooler with food if you want to.

There were a lot of race fans who said that Shangri-La 2 would never be built. Some of them are among my best friends. After all, the economy is lousy, NASCAR would be happy if there was no short track racing and people have many choices of how to spend their entertainment dollars. Truth is, there is still much to be done on the grounds, parking lot and camping area but I’m glad George decided to open the track now. There will be time to get the work done and short track racing fans really needed the boost that we got from Shangri-La 2 on the Fourth of July. I can’t wait to pack my picnic basket and camping tent and get back to Shangri-La 2 very soon. Thank you George Swansbrough.

Mods1

Are you looking for something different to do on a Saturday Night? Do you like the sound of powerful motors and the smell of burning fuel and rubber? If you answered yes to either of these questions then Doug and Gina Hoffman’s Mahoning Valley Speedway is for you. Located just west of Lehighton, PA, Mahoning Valley Speedway is Pennsylvania’s home for the mighty modifieds.

Modifieds are stock cars in name only. These little rockets are powered by 600 horse power motors and weigh less than 2,700 pounds. They ride on 15 inch wide slick tires on both the front and back meaning that all that power gets transfered directly to the race track. These cars are so powerful that they have a difficult time passing at many race tracks. Not at Mahoning Valley! Mahoning Valley Speedway is a 1/4 mile track with no real straightaways. The cars are always turning meaning that the action is non-stop. Cars race side by side all night long. Last Saturday’s 35 laps went from green to checker without a yellow flag and the top three cars were never more than a foot apart. Four more times this season, the modifieds will compete in special 100 lap races with bigger purses and even more excitement. The next race in this modified series will be on Saturday, June 6.  SS1

The modifieds are only part of the great racing programs at Mahoning Valley. My next favorite division is the street stocks. These cars are mainly 198os vintage Camaros and Monte Carlos dressed up for racing. Their 25 lap feature races  racing that often goes three wide. There are times when you couldn’t fit a sheet of notebook paper between the cars. On any given Saturday night, there are up to 10 street stocks that have a chance to win.

Mahoning Valley also runs late model stock cars, 4-cylinder stock cars that are mainly Ford Pintos and modifieds that were made for dirt but fly on asphalt. They also have guest divisions most weeks. The gates at Mahoning Valley Speedway open every Saturday evening at 4:00 and racing begins promptly at 6:00. On most evenings you’ll be on your way home before 10:00.

One of the great things about Mahoning Valley Speedway is that you can bring your picnic cooler full of food and beverages meaning that an evening at the races will cost your family far less than a ballgame or other sporting event. Another family  friendly feature is that there is no alcohol allowed. Admission to Mahoning Valley Speedway ranges from $12 for regular shows to $20 for the 100 lap modified races. Students, seniors and active military receive a $2 discount and children 10 and under are always free. Pack your picnic backpack and head for Mahoning Valley Speedway very soon. When you do, tell them the Pennsylvania Wanderer sent you.

Yesterday there was an article in the Harrisburg Patriot News where I was quoted as saying, “People will come back about once a week and if there’s nothing new after a few weeks they’ll move on to somebody else”.  Well my friends, it seems that this is a clear case of do as I say and not as I do. Between my day job and selling picnic baskets, picnic backpacks and other picnic accessories, I’ve let this blog go far to long without a post. For that I am truly sorry. In all honesty, I haven’t been doing anywhere as much wandering as I like to.  That is all about to change. This weekend, I will be “on the road again” and you will hear all about it.

In the meantime, I did go to Mahoning Valley Speedway in Lehighton last week. Mahoning Valley is one of my favorite tracks in the world and tomorrow I will write all about it. I hope you will check out the article where I’ll give you plenty of reasons to spend a Saturday evening there.  Stay tuned!

I got an email from my friends at Blue Mountain Vineyards Today that I want to share with you. It looks like they have some great events planned. Check it out!

News From the Winemaker

Many of you who have visited the Winery have heard me talk about sulfites. Almost all wines produced in the US contain sulfites, whether they are natural or added. Sulfites are made up of sulfur and oxygen and are used in wine as a preservative to prevent it from turning into vinegar.

For those of you who get headaches from drinking wine, the next information is important and will help you avoid that. Sulfites are naturally occurring in grape skins and seeds. You may notice that red wines affect you more; that is because reds are typically fermented on the skins. The majority of white grapes are pressed before fermentation and only the juice is fermented.

Another major factor in the amount of sulfites needed is the pH of the wine. In order to keep the wine balanced, wines with a higher pH need to have more sulfites added. A typical Blue Mountain wine has a pH of 3.1 and sulfites of 20 to 25 parts per million (ppm). A typical quality California wine has a pH of 3.7 and sulfites of 60 to 70 ppm. The pH and sulfite level in European wines is similar to Blue Mountain.

All wines that contain sulfites must say so on the label, but there is no mention of the amounts. As far as I know, Blue Mountain uses the lowest levels of sulfites on the East Coast. I thought it was appropriate to talk on this subject because we pride ourselves in using our own fruit and keeping the sulfite levels as low as possible.

Vicky’s Corner

The Candlelight Barrel Tasting is just around the corner! April flowers bring a preview of the 2008 vintages. the Candlelight Barrel Tasting is, and always has been, one of our best attended events. It’s a great opportunity for you to taste the 2008 barrel aged wines with Joe (Head Wineau) and also purchase futures on these wines at a 20% discount with only a 25% deposit.

It’s a great evening of wine tasting, delicious hors d’oeuvres and entertainment at a very reasonable admission of $17.50. Relax with the music of Kurt Rauscher’s Dynamic Duo on Sunday. Don’t miss this gerat event – get your reservation early as attendance is limited.

Help Whip Cancer

Gary and Kathy Matson, Independent Pampered Chef Consultants will join us in hosting the Second Annual Help Whip Cancer Fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. This event is to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer education and early detection programs.

More than 25% of all Pampered Chef product purchases will go to the American Cancer Society and there will be a gift with purchase for everyone who attends. Also, $1 from each bottle of select wine sold that night will be donated to the American Cancer Society.

We will also be accepting cash or checks made out to the American Cancer Society at the fundraiser. At 7pm there will be a live recipe demonstration followed by a food and wine tasting and drawing for product door prizes. If you plan to attend, please call 610-298-3068 for reservations as seating is limited.

For more information on these and other events, please visit Blue Mountain’s website. When you visit Blue Mountain Vineyards, remember your wine carrier so you can bring home some of their great wines. Blue Mountain Vineyards is located in New Tripoli, Pennsylvania. To read more about my last visit to Blue Mountain Vineyards, check out this previous blog post.

Sammy's Authentic Italian Restaurant

Sammy's Authentic Italian Restaurant

Are you looking for a fine dining restaurant in Harrisburg, PA where you can bring your own wine? Brenda and I packed our wine carrier and discovered Sammy’s Authentic Italian at 502 North Third Street in Harrisburg. Sammy’s is located directly across from the Capitol so you can’t miss it.

Like most fine dining restaurants, Sammy’s menu consists of a wide variety of appetizers, entrees and desserts. Two things, however, separate Sammy’s from most other restaurants in the area. First, they offer a great variety of specials that change from night to night and second, if your want an Italian specialty that’s not on the menu, ask your server and, if he can, Sammy will make it for you.

Doesn't That Look Good?

Doesn't That Look Good?

Brenda and I started our meal with a Portobello mushroom and roasted red pepper appetizer from the specials list. Sauteed in balsamic vinegar and garlic, this appetizer just burst with flavor. For her entree, Brenda ordered the Veal Parmesan from the regular menu. The portion size was just right and the veal was so tender you could cut it with a fork. She really enjoyed it with the White Zinfandel she brought from our wine rack. I went back to the specials list for the Steak Pizziola to have with my Cabernet Sauvignon. The large rib-eye was cooked to a perfect medium rare and the sauce had just a touch of sweetness to it that I really liked. We topped our meal off with Sammy’s homemade Creme de Carmel. The portion was plenty big enough for the two of us and the consistency and flavor were just perfect. When all was said and done, our check came to a somewhat pricey $83.00 but I felt it was worth the money.

If I had one criticism of Sammy’s it would be that we felt a bit rushed. Our salads came about two minutes after our appetizer and at no time during our meal was there any down time to enjoy our wine and conversation. I finally had to tell the server to give us 10 minutes before we ordered dessert so we could rest and relax. In the grand scheme of things this was a minor issue and I can enthusiastically recommend Sammy’s Authentic to anyone who likes fine Italian dining and want’s to bring their own wine.

Business was booming at Sammy’s last night so I recommend you call ahead at 717-221-0192 for reservations. I hope you pack your wine carrier and visit Sammy’s Authentic Italian soon. When you do, please tell them that The Pennsylvania Wanderer sent you.

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