CT, PA, Disasters…and Bananas

After our leaf peeping trip and CT state capital trip…we had one more day of Fun Stuff© scheduled for CT…we headed out to the Apple Harvest Festival in Southington just south of Hartford. It turned out to be not nearly as good as the festival we went to up at Mount Snowe…unfortunately it was big enough so that instead of all locally produced stuff and craftsmen it attracted a whole bunch of professional festival vendors who were selling mostly imported Chinese crap. There was still some good stuff…but not nearly as high a percentage. We spent a couple of hours wandering around looking at stuff…Connie bought several nice things…and we spent a pleasant 30 minutes at the Oktoberfest run by and out in front of the local Elks Lodge in Southington. There was even music at the Oktoberfest…if you can call what those two guys were doing music…we certainly didn’t.

Following that we headed home and spent the holiday (Columbus Day) at home in the rig…no reason to go out and fight with the crowds and traffic…Columbus Day is a bigger deal up here than we’re used to in the south.

And that was when the first disaster happened…a little fella named Hurricane Michael. Just like Harvey a couple of years back…he sprung directly to life in the Gulf of Mexico close to Yucatan instead of starting all the way over by the west coast of Africa and slowly making his way across the Atlantic. Nope…not ol’ Mike…he started as an Invest…that’s the technical term the weather weenies use before it’s even a tropical depression…then went from a depression to a storm to a hurricane in like 3 days…then intensified to almost a category 5 hurricane before making landfall today in the Panama Beach area on the FL panhandle. The drawback was that the storm is about 300 or 400 miles wide and passed within about 150 miles of our upcoming destination at the Low Key Hideaway in Cedar Key…with predicted storm surges of 10-12 feet which would put the Tiki Bar under about 3-4 feet of water and trash all the campsite utility hookups as well. As I write this…the hurricane is ashore but we still don’t know whether the campground will even be open by the time we were supposed to be there on Oct 22. Our original plan was a wait and see attitude…we figured that after the storm we would get in touch with Maureen and Frank to make a decision depending on how trashed Cedar Key was by the storm.

Notice…I said our original plan…that changed Tuesday morning as we got ready to leave Thomaston. As you recall a few weeks back we had a failed axle bearing on our rig…which was fixed by MORRyde sending us a replacement part via FedEx. That arrived and Neil installed it including torquing it to the correct 150 ft-lbs of torque. Well…Tuesday morning as he was doing his outside stuff he decided to grab that wheel and see if it was still tight…the answer was no although not nearly as loose as it was before. He pulled the dust cap off and re-torqued the nut…with no grease coming out of the bearing so there’s no obvious damage at this point…but since the nut came loose with 3 travel days totaling about 400 miles total there’s clearly something else amiss. 

Neil called and talked to the MORRyde folks…they concurred with him that something is wrong and needs to be looked at…so the correct answer is to head to MORRyde and let their experts fix it since they build the suspension on our rig. 

After re-torquing the nut…and we’ll continue to do that every travel day until we get it fixed…we headed on down to our next stop in Tunkahannock PA just outside Scranton…arriving at Cozy Creek Campground after our 190 mile trip. We got set up in site 78…they originally told us to take 72 but there was somebody in it when we got back there…they then offered us 74 but it wouldn’t have satellite visibility so we agreed on 78 with them. Nice site…full hookups although a bit angled front to back…but nothing we couldn’t level around. After setup…very minimal since we’re only here for 3 nights…we headed out to Kelly’s Creekside Inn…a local dive bar where we had brews and dinner…a cheese quesadilla for Connie and a cheese steak for Neil…both were really good, the brews were cold, and the locals were friendly.

Wednesday we headed out about 0900 to go and visit the Steamtown National Historical Site…basically a train museum. We wandered around an hour or so…couldn’t really get very interested in them as they were just trains…and then headed off.

Ya thought I fergot ‘bout them bananas…right? Nosiree…I didna do it so here goes.

I’ll have to ‘splain it to ya a bit though…

Back in the 70s…there was this folk singer named Harry Chapin…his most famous song was “Cat’s in the Cradle”…he mostly couldn’t really sing much and his songs were typically ballad like…very similar to those done by Gordon Lightfoot of “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” fame.

Back then he also had this song named “30,000 Pounds of Bananas”…ya guessed it, that’s where the reference comes in. Now most of you have probably never heard this song so let me give you a little background.

Way back on March 18, 1965 a 35 year old truck driver named Eugene P. Sesky was on his way to deliver a load of bananas to Scranton PA…he was returning from the piers in Weehawken NJ and was headed for the wholesale grocer block in Scranton PA…He was headed down PA-307 into town…this road drops 500 feet in less than 1.5 miles as it comes off the ridge into town…when his brakes failed. The song details his attempts to slow the truck down…but despite his efforts he was doing about 90 mph when he got to town. He knew that there was a gas station at the bottom of the hill…and he was mightily concerned not for his own life but for those of his fellow residents in Scranton. Hanging out on the truck’s running board…he yelled at people to get out of the way and eventually…according to local legend… deliberately crashed his truck at the corner of Music Street and South Irving Avenue a couple blocks before he would have crashed into the gas station resulting in a fireball and many dead folks. As it was…there were 15 injuries…and tragically Eugene was the only fatality.

The accident was cleaned up and mostly forgotten…until Harry Chapin…this was before he was famous…was traveling out of Scranton on a bus and heard the story being relayed by other passengers on the bus. Being a musician…and having a local hero…he naturally wrote a song about it, recorded it later, and went on with life.

But…the rest of the story as Paul Harvey used to say.

Old Harry’s original recording was of the typical 3-4 minute variety that was designed for play on the radio…but he also liked to have what he called alternate endings to his songs…then his band used these alternate endings which made the entire song last 20 or 30 minutes…in live concerts. The primary reason for them was probably to extend the length of the song and hence lower the number of songs they needed to have on the program…but a lot of these longer versions of the songs actually made a lot more sense and provided a lot more humor.

In the much longer version that Neil heard way back then…the original ending talked about 30,000 pounds of scattered bananas…but I the much longer version there were a couple alternate endings. First up was one that went “Yes, we have no bananas, bananas in Scranton PA.” sung to the tune normally associated with the first phrase of that ending. According to the song…it was with some trepidation that he played it for the band…and their reaction was best summed by his brother John who said in his deep baritone voice “Harry, it sucks.”. So he want back to the drawing board and came up with another one…this one he said was a country-western version since the song already had a truck in it. This ending talks about a woman…presumably the widow…who because of her sorrow over the accident never eats bananas. Once again John’s reaction was “Harry, it sucks.”. So he went back…and there was a lot of talk about thinking about it and wondering how to end the song that he came up with the final ending which goes “I asked this old guy who saw the wreck what he say” and his reply…in your typical old man of the country voice was “Boy…it sure musta been something. Jus’ imagine…30,000 pounds of mashed bananas.”

Connie and Neil have been joking for going on 40something years now about “He was picking up speed, heading into Scranton PA”…so we decided to head in into downtown and see if there was some sort of memorial or marker at the spot. A quick check with Wikipedia revealed the coordinates to us…so off we went.

You can read the page about the song here…and hear it…but I’m not sure if the version linked to on that page has all the alternate endings in it. 

In any event…it’s actually a pretty great song for a live concert as there’s audience participation in it and back in those days involving the audience at concerts was the thing to do. And since Connie and Neil have been talking about it for 40something years…and since we were in Scranton PA…we just had to go see it.

OK, on to pictures.

The sand sculpture at the Apple Harvest Festival in Southington.

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The 790…the oldest at 115 years old…steam locomotive at Steamtown. There are probably going on 50 old locomotives and train cars here…and almost all of them are steam. A couple of the early diesel locomotives owned by the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western (DL&R) railroad are represented alone with a customized Pullman care that the president of the railroad used for his personal transportation are included…but it’s mostly old steam locomotives. There’s a whole numbering system for them…it has to do with the number of drive wheels and the number of non drive wheels and something else as I recall…but we’re not railroad geeks enough to know the difference. They also run train tourist tours around the local area…the first train of the day during the summer is steam but the rest are all steam locomotive powered.

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The round table where locomotives were switched between tracks. They rolled onto the center section when then revolved in train wheels to the track…or garage position…they needed to be in. The historical site is on the location of the old DL&T train yard…the station downtown is beautiful and is now the local Radisson hotel.

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Two of the old steam locomotives and a caboose from the early 1900s.

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They musta stole this from either the Roadrunner of Wiley Coyote.

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Looking up Moosic Street (PA-307 from the eastern side of South Irving. The hill beyond is where the truck was coming down…it’s a lot steeper than it looks in the image. Over Neil’s left shoulder behind him is the gas station that the driver crashed to prevent getting into the gas station. The house on the right is the one that the truck crashed into…when Neil got out to take the photo a guy in the yard asked him why he was there. Turns out he and his wife moved into the house a couple months after the accident and have lived there ever since. Nice couple…friendly and they said we weren’t the first ones to stop by and look. The corner of the house needed repair as well as the yard afterwards. The bananas…they were pretty much smashed right where he was standing for this shot.

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I grabbed the following image of the crash from the web and the corresponding view from google maps street view.

In this one…take note of the two windows to the left and dormer to the right as well as the tilted pole…also the house in the background with the 3 high windows and the lower ones along with the position of the two telephone poles.

Scr bananas

This image from street view was taken from about the position of Li’l Red in the photo above showing the corner of the house the truck bounced off of…you can see the same windows, dormers, and the high winds in the background house as well as the two poles. 


While all of that probably matters to nobody but us…we’ve always liked that song and found the location interesting…strange how the neighborhood, houses and telephone poles have changed very little in the past 53 years.

Our second day of Fun Stuff© in northeast PA was a planned drive to see some leaves, take in the Nicholson Bridge which is a railroad aqueduct that was constructed by the DL&W back in 1915, and check out a couple of breweries and wineries.

Unfortunately…it pretty much rained all day so even though we didn’t leave until 1300 most of our afternoon was spent in and out of rain, fog, and drizzle…but we did get a few nice photos along the way.

This is the Nicholson Bridge…it’s the longest at 2,300 feet  and highest poured concrete railroad structure in the world according to the history…basically it was built to carry the DL&W from one ridge to the other side of the valley…or hollow…or holler as they’re known in these parts. This first shot isn’t the greatest…but we noticed a train headed across it and Neil grabbed this frame so you could have some scale of how big this thing is.

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After the train passed we went ‘round the corner on the road and found a spot to get a decent photo of the whole thing.

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We spotted a few nice leaves…but due to the lousy weather this was the bet shot we could get along our 70 or so mile drive.

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This was taken on the Adventure Portion of our drive today.

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Along the way we stopped at Endless Brewing where we sampled a couple of brews and then had a half pint each of their Maple Brown Ale…pretty tasty. The second brewery…Two Dogs and a Guy…was closed today due to a personal issue of some sort. Our final two stops were at Hidden Creek Winery and then Nimble Hill Vineyards…both had excellent wines but Hidden Creek’s were better and we brought home 6 bottles fro there and another pair from Nimble Hill.

We got back to the rig and made dinner…Neil cooked up some linguini and made a sauce out of baked winter squash, bacon, pecans, and cream…along with spices of course…and topping it all off with grated Parmesan…really yummy.

Interesting things found on the net.

I really can’t figure out how the illiterate folks will get any benefit from this sign.


How to make sure your co-workers really hate you.


The Stairs of Death…imagine trying to walk down these when you’ve had too many wines or brewskis.


So very, very true.


I found the square root.



About Gunther

The full time RV travels and experiences of Gunther the Bear and Kara the Dog…along with their human staff neil and Connie.
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