Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame

“The one constant through all the years has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past. It reminds us of all that once was good and it could be again.”

James Earl Jones as Terence Mann, Field of Dreams  – 1989

July 2-6, 2018 – Cooperstown, New York

After leaving Lake George, we decided to head to Cooperstown, NY.  This is a place that celebrates so much of what my early years were about: the game of baseball.

Growing up in suburban Detroit, my world centered around the Detroit Tigers.  That was passed down from my dad. As a teenager, he would jump on a streetcar in River Rouge and head to what was then known as Briggs Stadium to see the legends of the 1930’s play.  Stories of the Tigers greats were a given, but they were also peppered with other heroes like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.  Detroit was the only team in the majors to top 1 million a year in attendance during the Great Depression (in 1935 and 1937), which shows the depth of the love of the game in the Motor City.  On many occasions in the late 1960’s and early 70’s, Dad would come home from work and say “Jimmer, want to go to a game?”  Within half an hour, we were in the bleachers cheering on our Tigs.  Quite often, those excursions would include my sister and my mom.  Judy could have become a baseball statistician, as she was awesome at filling out a scorecard. Mom loved the game also, and was one of those gals who would come ten feet out of her seat when the Tigers scored a run.  It didn’t matter that Detroit itself was falling apart at the seams, as baseball seemed to transcend the tensions of that era.

So coming to Cooperstown is like returning to Tiger Stadium for me.  Diana and I were here one other time in the 1980’s, and we were awestruck by the quaint charm of the town and beauty of the area.  At that time, we had dropped down along Lake Otsego from the New York Thruway.

I88 in NY

This time, we came in from the south.  We were amazed how beautiful the scenery was on the southern route along Interstate 88.  If there is one thing that has become apparent to us on this trip, it’s that the State of New York is an absolutely gorgeous place. 🙂

Lake Otsego

Cooperstown itself is a cozy little hamlet, nestled along the southern shore of Lake Otsego.

Mouth of Susquehana

It is here that the Susquehanna River begins it’s long journey to Chesapeake Bay.

While most of the stores on Main Street are baseball themed, there are a few that are normal, small-town America establishments.

Cooperstown DIner

One of those is the Cooperstown Diner.  Strictly a short-order type of place, you practically have to back out after eating, as there is no room to turn around.  We ate there on our first visit and enjoyed it.

Doubleday Field

Tucked behind Main Street is Doubleday Field.  This is the ‘home’ of baseball, as lore has that Abner Doubleday and friends first played the game on this spot in 1839.  Back then, it was a cow pasture.  During baseball’s centennial year of 1939, the first All Star game was played here.  That was also the year the Hall of Fame opened its doors.  Since then, there has been an annual Hall of Fame game played here between two major league teams, along with 350 other baseball contests of some sort.

Jim at Doublday Field

Watching a game here is a treat, as is evident by the smile on my face.   Sitting on the wooden benches brought new meaning to the term ‘box seats’.  🙂

The Hall of Fame itself is tucked into a series of storefronts at the east end of Main Street.  One of the first things seen upon entering the building are a series of 30 lockers, each one representing a major league team.

Tigers locker

Here is the Detroit Tigers locker, which contains a few items that relate to the team.  In case you are wondering, Jackie Robinson didn’t play for the Tigers; the commissioner retired his number league-wide on April 15, 1997.  That was the 50th anniversary of Robinson breaking the color barrier in the majors.  Also, since no one wore a number in the early days of the game, Tiger great Ty Cobb didn’t have a number to retire.

Many other Tiger items were scattered throughout the building.

Ty Cobb sweater

This is Ty Cobb’s warm-up sweater.  Teams now wear jackets during chilly games.

Ty Cobb bat and spikes

They also had one of his bats and his spikes.  Legend has him portrayed as a dirty player, born from his take-no-prisoners style on the base paths and his aggressive style of play.  By the time his career ended in 1928, he has amassed 90 major league records.  Many of those still stand today.  After his baseball career, he became a successful businessman and was a generous philanthropist.

Another larger than life player from that era was Babe Ruth.  The Hall of Fame has an entire section devoted to him.  George Herman ‘Babe’ Ruth was born and raised in Baltimore, where he had a reputation as a hell-raiser.  He was sent to a Catholic reformatory at age 7, and was eventually taken under the wing of Brother Matthias.  During his twelve years at the school he became proficient at stickball and baseball, eventually being noticed by the then-minor league Baltimore Orioles.  From there, his contract was purchased by the major league Boston Red Sox.

Babe and Helen Ruth

The day he arrived in Boston, he met a waitress at a coffee shop named Helen Woodford.  Before long he proposed to her with the line, “How about you and me getting married, hon?” I chuckled at this, as everyone is “hon’ in Baltimore.  🙂  She said yes, and the teenagers were married three months after that first meeting.  Babe went on to become one of the greatest players the game has ever seen.  His 575 foot home run at Navin Field (later Briggs Stadium and then Tiger Stadium) in Detroit still stands as the longest home run in major league history.  His career 714 home runs stood from 1935 until 1974.  Sadly, Ruth died from esophageal cancer at age 53.

The person who broke Babe’s home run record in 1974 was Henry Aaron.  Hammerin’ Hank, an African-American, received hate mail and death threats at the prospect of him breaking Ruth’s record.  After finishing the 1973 season with 713 homers, his biggest fear was that he wouldn’t live to break the record the following year.  He did, and he ended up finishing his career with 755 home runs.  A home run that didn’t count towards that total was one he hit in the 1971 All-Star Game in Detroit.  I was one seat behind the guy who caught it in the upper deck of right-center field.  The ball had a dent in it, resulting in it not flying straight (and me ducking).  My dad so wanted to catch it for me, but the guy in front gave it to his boy, and the kid was overjoyed.  I told Dad, ” That’s ok, Dad…look how happy he is!”

Hank Aaron medals

Aaron was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush for his contributions to the United States.

Another story from the 1971 All Star Game was the home run that Reggie Jackson hit.  We were sitting in the upper deck below the light tower in right-center, which was hidden from our view by the roof above us.  The ball jumped off of Jackson’s bat and he stood in awe (as did the rest of us) as the ball rose high in the Detroit sky and over our heads.  When the ball fell back to the field, we assumed it had hit the roof.  We found out after the game that it actually hit a transformer on the light tower, a whopping 400 feet from home plate.  Had that tower not been there it could have easily surpassed Ruth’s record homer on the same piece of real estate, as the ball was still rising when it hit.

Tiger Stadium at All Star Time Detroit

Because it struck the transformer (see the blue arrow in the photo above), it technically was not hit out of the park.  Diana and I were fortunate enough to witness him finally clear that roof to the right of that arrow in 1984 when he played for the Angels.

There are so many memories for me in that stadium.  With two complete decks circling the field there was a constant level of sound from the crowd, even when nothing exciting was happening.  At the point when something did happen, the place erupted.  When Mom, Dad, Diana and I saw our last game there in 1999, I stopped Dad as he started to walk down the tunnel to leave the stands.  I wanted to get one last glimpse of the field with him, knowing the Tigers were moving across town the next season.  He reluctantly turned, revealing tears in his eyes.  Neither one of us said a word.  We didn’t need to.

Back to Cooperstown.  The Hall of Fame covers all aspects of the game, including the Negro Leagues, the Latin connection. and the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.  The latter was founded during World War II to keep baseball in the public eye, as there was a fear that the majors would cease play due to a lack of players.

Grand Rapids Chicks

Teams such as the Grand Rapids Chicks, the Rockford Peaches, and the Kalamazoo Lassies were highlighted in this exhibit and in the movie A League of Their Own.

San DIego Chicken

And who can forget the San Diego Chicken?  🙂

The actual Hall of Fame is the place where the plaques of baseball’s greats are showcased.

Baseball Hall of Fame

It extends to a central point where the original 5 inductees are displayed.

Ty Cobb

Right in the middle of those 5 is Ty Cobb, sporting the Tiger’s Olde English D on his cap. 🙂

Babe Ruth

Next to him is Yankee great Babe Ruth, one of the most beloved players ever.

Hank Aaron

And here is Hammerin’ Hank Aaron, who holds that spot in my heart from 1971.

A couple of the many Tigers in the Hall that are special to me are…

Al Kaline

…another Baltimore native, Al Kaline.  One of the greatest Tigers ever, he started with the team at 18 years old and is still employed by the team at the age of 83.  You may recall our post Al Kaline and a Day with Family that included a giant photo of him that we delivered to Diana’s brother in Florida.  Dan had won a Detroit Free Press contest as a child after he wrote to explain why his school should get the photo, and was dubbed the World’s Greatest Al Kaline Fan.  His school displayed the photo for awhile, then offered it back to Dan.

Sparky Anderson

And a fan favorite, long-time Tiger Manager Sparky Anderson.  Even though he managed many more years with the Tigers than he did with the Reds, he wanted his plaque to have him in a Cincinnati cap, as they were the ones who first took a chance with him.  A classic exchange between him and Kirk Gibson during the 1984 World Series can be seen at the end of this post.

The 1984 Tiger team has two members being inducted into the Hall this year: Jack Morris and Alan Trammell.

Trammel and Morris

The backing plates with their signatures stand ready for their plaques.

Jack Morris

Just outside the Hall is a display with some of Morris’ memorabilia…

Alan Trammel

…along with some of Trammell’s treasures.

Ernie quote

And my all-time favorite Tiger was the guy who penned this quote:  Ernie Harwell.  He was the radio announcer for most of my life.  To most Detroiters, his voice was the music of the game the city loved so much.  Many summer nights were spent listening to him on my transistor radio next to my bed.  His easy Georgia accent was very soothing to listen to.  When a batter took a called third strike, Ernie would say, “He stood there like a house by the side of the road,” and a Tiger home run would result in, “That ball is LOOOOOOONG gone!”  On a foul ball into the stands he would say, “A man from (insert a name of a Michigan town) got that one,” as a way to acknowledge listeners from the region.  As a kid, it took me many years before I realized he really didn’t know where the person who caught the ball was from.  🙂

Ernies mic

Ernie’s microphone is displayed in the Hall of Fame, along with an audio recording of him calling the first inning of the last game ever played at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore.  I actually remember listening to that game.

Ernie Harwell

He is enshrined at Cooperstown as a Ford C. Frick Award winner, given to broadcasters for their major contributions to the sport.  A recording of some of his calls can be heard by clicking HERE.

And the Sparky Anderson video can be seen HERE.

Be sure to listen carefully to Sparky’s voice after Gibby’s home run.  It’s classic. 🙂

That wraps up our time in Cooperstown.  Be sure to stay tuned as we head back to Michigan to spend time with family and friends.  Until then, safe and happy travels to all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lake Placid and the Adirondacks

June 25 – July 1, 2018 – Adirondack Park, New York

One of our first vacations as a married couple was a 1985 trip to Lake Placid and the Adirondacks in upstate New York.  This was before we started our series of trips to Maine, which began a year later.  Since it had been so long, one of our goals this year was to return to the Adirondack region to reacquaint ourselves with the area.

Adirondack Park covers 9,375 square miles, about 1/5 of the entire state of New York.  It was created in the late 1800’s to keep the wilderness from being over developed.  The preserve includes over 100 towns, making it different than a traditional state park.  It is overseen by the Adirondack Park Agency, which puts limits on what can and can’t be built within the park boundaries.  The state’s highest peak, Mt. Marcy, is found here along with a number of other tall mountains.

One of the most popular communities is Lake Placid.  Home to both the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Games, this village has established itself as a training mecca for Olympic athletes. It is also a tourist destination, as the outdoor recreational possibilities seem endless.

1932 Rink

This is the 1932 Olympic rink.  Not a lot of room for spectators!  We were enjoying watching the workers prepare for an upcoming figure skating event.  That brought back a lot of memories for me, as I worked as a Zamboni driver while I was in college.

1980 Rink 1

Next door is the 1980 rink, now known as Herb Brooks Arena.  This is where the US hockey team beat the Russians, then went on to win the gold medal by defeating Finland.  As you enter the rink, the sign above the door states “Home of the Miracle on Ice – Site of the Greatest Sporting Event of the 20th Century”.  Some may debate that last part, but it certainly was right up there.  A personal side story to that: The night the US team beat the Russians, our Western Michigan University hockey team was also hosting a game.  My friend and fellow Zamboni driver, Mike, and myself were watching the college game from the stands. You have to remember, this was during the Cold War and although hopes were high, no one thought the US stood much of a chance against the Russian team.  Our pro shop manager came up in the stands to tell the public address announcer that the US team had won, but stopped to tell us first. After a little quick thinking, we instead returned to the pro shop and grabbed a piece of poster board and wrote “FINAL – USA 4, USSR 3” on it.  We rolled it up, grabbed some hockey tape and headed to the Zamboni.  Our lead driver, John, didn’t see us sneak into the Zamboni room and tape it on the front of the machine.  After the period ended he backed onto the ice and started circling the rink, and the place went absolutely wild!  It was like a wave as the crowd saw the sign as he went around and rose to their feet, roaring far louder than they had for Western scoring a goal. The look on his face was priceless, as he never had been cheered for doing his job.  As he stopped by the guy pulling the net pins from the ice, he was told to look at the front of the machine.  He climbed down, looked at the front and thrust both arms in the air.  The crowd lost it.  🙂

Zamboni at Lake Placid Olympic Ice Center

Attached to the back of the 1980 Olympic arena is a third rink.  This is where the curling events took place.  It was interesting to see that it wasn’t a dedicated facility, in that it also could be used for hockey and figure skating.  It sure would be fun to be up in that Zamboni driver’s seat again!

Inside the arena complex, we toured the Lake Placid Olympic Museum.

Torches from several Olympic games over the years.

We found this collection of Olympic torches to be interesting…

Uniforms from the US Olympic teams from the Winter Olympics over the years.

…as were the uniforms worn through the years by the US athletes at the opening and closing ceremonies.  There were other items that had to do mostly with the two Olympics that took place in Lake Placid.

Lake Placid Olympic Speed Skating Oval

Across the street from the arena complex is the outdoor speed skating oval.  This is where Eric Heiden won his five gold medals in 1980.  We were surprised that it was outdoors, as the newer Olympic venues are all inside.  What a view!

Just down the road in the town of North Elba is the Ski Jumping Complex.

Lake Placid Olympic ski jumps

The 90 and 120 meter hills are easily seen from most places in the Lake Placid area.

Lake Placid ski jumps from the new event center at the bottom

This is the view from the deck of the new Intervale Lodge at the base of the jumps.  This entire complex is being constantly updated and is used year round.

Installing the summer jumping surface on the ski jumps

In the summer months, jumpers use an artificial surface to ski on.  In the photo above, workers can be seen attaching the plastic material to the hill, similar to the method shingles are attached to a roof.

Immediately to the left of the ski jumps is the summer freestyle training facility.

Freestyle skier coming down the ramp

Here is a young man headed down the hill now!

Freestyle skier doing a backflip

Look at that….a back flip!  But where is he going to land in the summer, you ask???

Freestyle skier entering the pool

Why that would be into a 750,000 gallon pool!  Bet that feels good on a hot day.  🙂

Freestyle skier twisting off the jump

We watched from the stands for quite awhile as these daredevils twisted and flipped off the takeoff ramps into the water.  For all we know, we could have been looking at future Olympians.  It was very entertaining, to say the least.

Just across the road from the jumping complex is the place where the opening ceremonies for the 1980 Games was held.  It is now the home of the Lake Placid Horse Show.  Seeing that there appeared to be a big event going on, we decided to check it out!

Horse entering a jump at the Lake Placid Horse Show

What a treat to be able to see the horses and rider as they navigated the series of jumps.

Horse airborne at the Lake Placid Horse Show

It was a thrill to see them airborne!  Pretty remarkable to see an animal as big as this leap that far.

While we walked the grounds, we noticed this:

Cauldron from the 1980 Winter Olympics, Lake Placid

There’s the cauldron from the 1980 Winter Olympics!  It looked so much bigger on TV.  🙂

Another place we visited in the area was High Falls Gorge.  This 22 acre privately-owned attraction deserves a mention not only for its beauty, but also for what can happen when a natural feature ends up in private hands.

High Falls Gorge

Here is upper part of the cataract on the Au Sable River that appears in it’s pristine state.

High Falls Gorge with ramps

To reach the lower portion, the company has built ramps, platforms and bridges within the gorge.  To us, this tarnished the beauty of the falls.

Ramps at High Falls Gorge

And with it being private, the admission fee is right up there.  It seemed a bit odd that this was in the middle of the Adirondack State Preserve, but it’s been a private attraction since the 1890’s.  Nature’s creations deserve better stewardship, in our opinion.  While the falls themselves were beautiful, we felt that a state or national agency would have provided a more natural visitor experience.  In a much broader sense, this is why we feel that our public lands should not be allowed to fall into private hands. It cost us $11.95 each, plus 8% New York state sales tax for a total of $25.81. In comparison, our annual National Park Pass, which covers over 400 sites, is a bargain at $80.00.

Another thing we found in the area was the John Brown Farm.  You may recall us talking about him in our post from Harpers Ferry, where he led a raid that resulted in his being executed. At the time we noticed his farm was in North Elba, NY, but we had no idea where that actually was.

Ski jump from John Brown's grave

Well, standing next to his grave, the back of the 120 meter ski jump is easily seen.  Now we know where North Elba is.  🙂

John Brown statue

John Brown, who used violence to further the efforts to abolish slavery, is a controversial figure in US history.  Some travel here each year to show their respects on his birthday, others feel he was a bit of a zealot. The building behind the statue is his farmhouse.  The inscription under the figures’ feet says, “His soul goes marching on”.  That is a reference to the Civil War era song, John Brown’s Body, which was rewritten at a later date to become The Battle Hymn of the Republic.  In the former version, the lyrics start out “John Brown’s body lies a moulderin’ in the grave.”

John Brown's grave

Well, here is that grave he is a moulderin’ in, along with several of his followers who fought with him at Harpers Ferry.  That event is seen as one of the sparks that led to the Civil War.

John Brown Barn

Behind the house and grave is the barn.

John Brown Barn Basement

The lower level houses a nice display dedicated to the story of John Brown as an abolitionist.

John Brown Barn Main Level

The upper level speaks to the area’s role in the Underground Railroad.  Gerrit Smith, a wealthy landowner and politician who was a leader in the abolitionist movement, gave away 120,000 acres of North Elba land in 50 acre parcels to black families from the south. Being a property owner gave them a right to vote, as well as a means to becoming self-sufficient.  John Brown had purchased some of that acreage to help teach the former slaves how to work the land.  Unfortunately the area conditions weren’t conducive to farming, and the experiment failed. We found the entire farm to be fascinating, and it really tied in well with our visit to Harpers Ferry.

The other place we visited in the area was the top of Whiteface Mountain.

Diana and Jim on Whiteface Mountain, with Lake Placid in the background

Our last trip here was in a 1981 Chevette.  I remember that well, as we had to turn the air conditioning off to make it up the hill.  🙂  This is a great place to view Lake Placid from.

Leaving Lake Placid, we spent a few days in the Lake George area, at the southern end of Adirondack Park.  The weather turned hot, so we limited our activities to taking care of errands and celebrating my 60th birthday!  Our friends and fellow RV-Dreamers, Bonnie and Fred, have their home base in the area so the four of us met for a wonderful steak dinner at the Log Jam Restaurant.  We hadn’t seen them since March of 2017, so we had a lot of catching up to do.  As a result, we completely forgot to take photos.  They are going to spend the winter just down the road from us in Melbourne Beach, so I’m sure we will get some photos then.  🙂

That wraps up our time in the Adirondacks!  Next up, we move west through New York State to visit some of my childhood idols.  Be sure to check back here to see what that is all about.  Until then, safe and happy travels to all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Hampshire & Vermont Adventures

June 16-23, 2016 – New Hampshire and Vermont

At the end of our last post, we alluded to the fact that our upcoming time in New Hampshire was “more of an adventure than we bargained for”.  As we were headed to our campground in Shelburne, NH, we stopped to fuel up along the way.  Not too long after that, our truck started sputtering and losing power.  I knew I had put diesel fuel in it, as I always check that first.  To boot, I was in a semi lane and my receipt says I bought diesel.  Anyway, we pulled over into another station and weighed our options.  While I checked the air filter for obstructions, Diana called a garage.  It was Saturday afternoon, and she just happened to get a diesel mechanic on the line.  He suspected water in the line and suggested I put some Heet water-dispersing additive in the tank, which I did.  I also drained the water separator and found water in the fuel. Long story short, it helped for a bit.  A few miles from the campground, it acted up again, so we decided a visit to a Ford garage was in order.  We originally had planned to leave Shelburne on Monday to meet Diana’s cousin and family in Rutland, Vermont on Friday, so we knew our plans would have to be adjusted.  Many thanks to the wonderful couple who own Timberland Campground for being so accommodating!  More on the truck in a bit…

Now that we had some time, we set out to visit a few of the local sites!  Our original plans were to visit Mt Washington, so that was the first thing in our queue.  We had visited this peak 30-some years ago on a cold, cloudy and windy day, so we really wanted to see it on a nice day.  June 17 was picture perfect, so we hopped into Edsel 2 and headed to the Mount Washington Auto Road.  When we arrived, the attendant said to me “Move your leg”. Is this the Hokey-Pokey?  No, he wanted to look at the shift lever to see if our vehicle had a low gear, a requirement for this climb and descent.  Turns out that they have a long list of vehicles not allowed on this road, including dually pickups, so all of our fellow fifth wheelers take note.  Our long box crew cab pickup…while not a dually…would have been too long.  There are even weight limits on how much a vehicle can carry.  From their website:

“The weight limits below are referring to passenger and luggage weight, not the weight of your vehicle. These are approximate numbers used as guidelines.

  • Full size car or wagon: 900lbs
  • Dodge Caravan, Plymouth Voyager prior to 1996: 600lbs (272 kg)
  • Dodge Caravan, Plymouth Voyager 1996 and newer: 900lbs (408 kg)
  • All other mini-vans: 900lbs (408 kg)
  • 3/4 or 1/2 ton van, pickup or SUV: 900lbs (408 kg)
  • One-ton van or pickup: 1050lbs (476 kg)”

Makes you wonder why they singled those pre-1996 Chrysler minivans out… 🙂

So up we went.  The route is a narrow, twisty road with an average 12% grade that was first opened to traffic in August of 1861.  You read that date right…1861.  Since not much has been done to the road since then, we weren’t able to dislodge our fingernails from the steering wheel and armrests long enough to take photos of it.  😉  Once at the top, we put the Nikon to work!

Panoramic view from the summit of Mt. Washington, NH

Look at that view!  The black line snaking below the summit is the Cog Railway, which is an alternate way to get to the top.

Mt. Washington Cog Railway

While we were at the summit, this locomotive and car came up to the top.  And what about those two hikers in the lower right corner?

Two hikers on the Appalachian Trail on Mt Washington, NH

They are on the Appalachian Trail, which crosses Mt. Washington.

Jim and Diana at the summit of Mt. Washington.

Look at us…we made it to the summit!  It was a tough climb from the parking lot.  🙂

Well worn benchmark at the top of Mt Washington, NH.

The benchmark is well-worn, as many folks have made their way to this point.

For those who don’t know, Mt. Washington has a weather station at the top.  The peak is known to have some nasty weather extremes, and it is a testing ground for many outdoor products.

Sign explaining the highest wind speed observed by man.

It was at this building that the highest wind ever observed by man was recorded: a whopping 231 miles per hour!  A higher wind was recorded by automated equipment since then in the southern hemisphere, but there weren’t any people present when it occurred.

Building on Mt Washington where the highest wind speed witnesses by man was recorded.

As you can see, they have chains over the building to keep it from blowing away.

Unlike our first visit, June 17, 2018 had very little wind and missed the record for the warmest day for that date by two degrees.

Besides Mt. Washington, we checked out a few other places in the area that were recommended to us by Laurie at Timberland.  One that really stood out was Glen Ellis Falls.

Upper falls on the Ellis River

The trail starts a few miles south of the Mt. Washington Auto Road and heads under NH-16 via a tunnel.  It isn’t long before cascades start to appear in the river, similar to the one shown above.  As the trail winds lower and lower into the canyon, we soon came upon Glen Ellis Falls.

Glen Ellis Falls on the Ellis River, just north of Jackson, NH.

They were absolutely beautiful!  We then continued down the road a ways to Jackson to see a recommended covered bridge.

Jackson, NH covered bridge, built in 1876.

As well maintained as it was, we were certain it was fairly new.  We were surprised to see that it was built in 1876!  There wasn’t a weight limit posted on it either.

On Tuesday, we got the truck back from the Ford garage in New Berlin.  Verdict was that they drained a quarter tank of fuel to get rid of the water.  They also replaced the fuel filters.  It ran well on the way back to the campground.  The next day, we hooked up and headed out.  About 45 minutes into our drive, it started missing again.  We ended up limping into a campground just east of St. Johnsbury, Vermont…short of our intended destination.  They had an open site, so we set up and headed to Twin State Ford.  At this point, we were at a total loss as to what was wrong.  Jordan in the service department told us they would get on it the next day.  Once again, we had time on our hands!  What to do when you are given a basket of lemons????

Lemonade

Make lemonade!  We drove around town to see what there was to do.

St. Johnsbury Welcome Center in the old train depot.

Diana found the St. Johnsbury Welcome Center, which is located in this beautiful train depot.  The depot still has the cool old benches, along with the antique communication equipment used to deal with the trains in the past.  The man working the counter, Richard, loaded us up on all sorts of unique things to see and do.  First thing we did was to head across the street to Anthony’s Diner to get one of their delicious burgers.

The next day, we headed to Dog Mountain.  This is a very special place, founded by artist Stephen Huneck and his wife.  It is acres of off-leash trails for people to bring their dogs.

Chapel at Dog Mountain, near St Johnsbury, VT

There also is a Dog Chapel, for people to reflect and remember their deceased furry friends.

Dog Chapel sign, near St Johnsbury, VT

The sign points out, in so many words, that it is non-denominational.

Dog Chapel interior, near St Johnsbury, VT

The chapel is filled with messages and pictures of peoples dogs, along with some of Huneck’s artwork.

Stained glass windows in Dog Chapel, near St Johnsbury, VT

The stained glass windows were all dog-themed, of course.  🙂

Gallery at Dog Mountain, near St Johnsbury, VT

Huneck’s studio and gift shop was full of his work, also.  Diana was familiar with his children’s books, so she was excited to see the place that inspires him.  Dog Mountain was a very enjoyable place to hang out for a bit!

Next up was the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum.

Public library and art gallery in St Johnsbury, VT

What is that, you ask?  Well, besides being a pretty old building, it is a public library and art gallery.  It was donated to the city in 1871 by Horace Fairbanks, heir to the Fairbanks Scale fortune.  Those scales are still made today.

Interior of library in St Johnsbury, VT

While the art gallery was closed for renovation, the building was a work of art itself!

The last place we visited that day was the Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium.

Museum and planetarium in St Johnsbury, VT

This building was also donated by the Fairbanks family, along with many of the objects in it.  Our Museum of the Rockies membership and it’s ASTC reciprocal agreement gave us free admission.  We paid extra to see the planetarium, as it just happened to be the solstice!  Our presenter, Bobby, was a hoot.  Imagine giving the late Robin Williams the controls to the star machine and you get the picture.  🙂

The next day, our truck was ready.  They found a technical service bulletin on it that pointed to a programming issue, so they reprogrammed the computer.  They also did several other things that they had discovered, unrelated to the engine problems.  We decided to stay one more night and give the truck a good test run without the trailer attached.  About 20 miles away was the town of Cabot, Vt…home to Cabot Creamery.

Cabot Creamery, Cabot, VT

Nothing like a test drive combined with cheese sampling!  We had a very enjoyable visit, picking up some cheese, preserves and cool t-shirts to boot!  We are happy to report that the truck did just fine.

On the 23rd…a day late, we headed to Rutland to meet up with Philip and Marlene, and their children Miles and Leah.  Before heading to their place, we set up our rig at a Harvest Hosts location, Autumn Mountain Winery and Cabins.   Philip and Marlene own Same Sun of Vermont, a design and installation company that deals in residential and commercial solar-electric systems.  They took us to show us their office in downtown Rutland in their Chevy Bolt.  Talk about a fast car…it does 0 to 60 in 6.3 seconds!  Their offices were beautiful, and they have a huge list of satisfied customers.  🙂  We went to dinner afterwards and got caught up on each other’s lives.

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Thank you Philip and Marlene for a wonderful evening!

Oh, and the truck ran like a champ all the way to Rutland.  🙂

Next up, we head over to New York State and the Adirondack Mountains.  Be sure to see our next post for what we find over there.  Until then safe and happy travels to all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acadia 2018 – Week Two

June 9-13, 2018 – Acadia National Park, Maine

Our second week at Acadia brought us more beautiful weather, so we made sure to take advantage of it.  Quite honestly, we had no idea what to expect for early June when we booked our reservations earlier this year.  We were pleasantly surprised, to say the least!

On June 9, we headed to Gorham Mountain.  This trail is the first in a series of trails leading to the peaks in the southeastern part of the park.

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We didn’t have to climb very far for the views to open up.  This view looks south towards Otter Point.

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Diana spotted this beautiful buck as he crossed the trail ahead of us.

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And here is the summit!

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Back in the 1990’s, we continued on to the next peak (Champlain Mountain) from this point with our golden retrievers, Kate and Dakota.  In between, we dropped down to a small mountain lake called The Bowl where they enjoyed swimming.  Then we retraced our steps back to the car. That was a full day!  While this day wasn’t near as long, it was still a challenging climb.  On our way back down, we met an ornithologist who works in the park.  We were able to interview him right on the trail to fulfill our junior ranger requirements!  His favorite thing in Acadia?  Birds.  🙂

On June 10, we thought we would give ourselves a little break, so we went to the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor.  This is actually a second location for them, with the first being within Acadia National Park boundaries.  Founded in 1926 by Dr. Robert Abbe, a prominent New York physician, this affiliate of the Smithsonian Institute showcases the Native American people of the region.

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The area is unique in that several tribes banded together in order to better deal with the incoming European settlers.  They called themselves Wabanaki.  It is interesting that their tribal boundaries don’t coincide with the international boundaries, so that presents a whole host of challenges even to this day.

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One of the things we found fascinating was their collection of root clubs.  These were carved from the lower portion of small trees.

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And while they are intricate and quite beautiful, one has to think how much it would hurt to get a clunk on the head from one of these!

From Abbe Museum, we went to Thuya Gardens in Northeast Harbor.  To get there, we had to climb Asticou Terraces, a 200 foot high path sculpted into the side of Juniper Hill.

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From the top, a commanding view of Northeast Harbor can be seen.  It is considered a pleasure harbor, even though there are a number of lobster boats here.

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Set back from the terraces is Thuya Lodge, the summer home of Joseph H. Curtis.  He was a Boston-based landscape architect.  He designed the terraces after finishing the home in 1916.  The interior is much the way it was when he died in 1928, including the furnishings.  The gardens that now sit behind the home were actually an apple orchard he had planted.  His friend Charles Savage completed the gardens at a later date.

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This is the lone surviving apple tree from the Curtis orchard.

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Not a lot was currently in bloom, but the space was peaceful and green.

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Definitely a nice place to spend a little time.

Next, we visited one of Savage’s other creations, Asticou Gardens.

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It sits down at road level, not far from the Asticou Terraces.

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There was a lot more in bloom down there!

June 11 started out rainy, so after taking care of paperwork at home, we went down to the Bar Harbor waterfront and ate dinner at Geddy’s.  We noticed that they had some gluten free offerings on their sign out front, so that was what attracted us.  Imagine my surprise when the waiter told us that all their fryers and breading were gluten-free (made with rice and other flours instead of wheat, barley and rye), as it was just easier for them to do that than to have to be careful about cross contamination.

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That is the first deep fried fish I’ve had since 2011…and it was outstanding!  Washed down with an Omission GF lager, of course!  Note:  We came back later in the week to try their pizza.  Pat’s…another pizza joint in town… is better and FAR cheaper.

June 12 brought us another new Acadia experience.  All the years we’ve been coming here, we had no idea that the park has a bona fide waterfall.  We set out on John D. Rockefeller’s carriage roads to find it.

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This is the bridge that spans the creek below the falls.

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Climbing down into the creekbed, you are able to see how Rockefeller had the arch built off-perpendicular to the roadway.

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His reasoning was so that the arch itself framed the cascade.  While it wasn’t flowing much, it still was beautiful.

Instead of retracing our steps down the carriage road, we opted to take the trail that runs along the creek bed.

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Plenty of tree roots, rocks, ferns, pine needles and the forest scent that we love so much.  We did not see another soul on this trail.  🙂

When we returned to the car, we drove to the Abbe Museum location that is in the park.  Our admission for both locations was covered by our North American Reciprocal Museum membership.

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This is one of only two independent trail-side museums in the national parks.  The other is at Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park. This location opened in 1928.

On June 13, we decided to go see Thunder Hole, the chasm that rumbles and sprays seawater everywhere when conditions are right.  We knew there was a strong southerly wind, so there was a chance we would be in luck.  For reference, Thunder Hole is on the southeast shore of Mount Desert Island.

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This is so typical of what most tourists think of Acadia.  Buses pull up bringing throngs of people off of the cruise ships to see a few attractions.  Conditions weren’t right, so Thunder Hole was quiet…yet these folks all were waiting for something to happen.  I could see off in the distance across the bay that waves were breaking on Schoodic Peninsula’s southwest shore.   So off we went for Otter Point, just to the south of Thunder Hole.

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As we’ve so often found, a short distance can bring solitude at Acadia.  Those buses are about a quarter mile back around to the left.  🙂

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The farther west we walked, the bigger the surf was.

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This trail is called Ocean Path, and it has quite a few elevation changes.

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And there is what we came for!  We love to see that water splashing up off the Maine coast.  🙂

That wraps up our time heading up the Eastern Seaboard.  Next up, we head inland towards New Hampshire.  That turns into more of an adventure than we bargained for, so be sure to stop by for our next installment to see what happened.  Until then, safe and happy travels!

 

 

 

Acadia 2018 – Week One

June 1-8, 2018 – Acadia National Park, Maine

If there is one place in the United States that speaks louder to us than all the others, Acadia National Park is it.  This was our tenth visit here since 1986.  Even after two weeks of exploring the park, we found it difficult to leave. In our February 2015 post, Acadia National Park – Throwback Thursday, I stated  “Diana and I chuckle when we meet people who tell us that they spent the day there and ‘saw everything there was to see’. We have yet to become bored with Acadia, and we discover another layer each time we go.”  We are happy to report that we still were able to uncover even more of Acadia’s layers.  With this being our longest visit to date, we are going to divide our stay into two posts.

As is most often the case for us, our base was at Mt. Desert Narrows Camping Resort.  Located on Thomas Bay, it gives an incredible view of the areas twelve foot tides.

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This photo was taken from our campsite at low tide.  The entire bay empties out for several hours…

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…only to have the water return a few hours later. 🙂

After picking up our park literature and Junior Ranger books, we started reacquainting ourselves with the park.  On June 2nd, we drove up to the summit of Cadillac Mountain.

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This peak sits at 1530 feet above sea level, and offers tremendous views of the area.  We climbed this mountain back in the 1990’s with our dogs, Katie and Dakota.

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The benchmark for the true peak is not the Summit Trail where they send the tourists.  It is actually up the hill behind the gift shop on the South Ridge Trail.

From there, we drove down to Jordan Pond House, a restaurant within the park boundaries.  This is the place where the elite used to come for afternoon tea and popovers on the expansive lawn.

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To our surprise, the ‘lawn’ was in the middle of a major restoration!  Oh well…maybe next time.  They actually are slated to have the project completed by the end of June.

Behind Jordan Pond House is a trail head that leads down to Jordan Stream.  Taking that short trail is probably the best example of how easy it is to find solitude in this well used park.  As you walk down through the pines, the sound of the people at the restaurant fades away quickly.  After crossing one of the park’s motor-free carriage roads, the human voices are replaced with the sounds of the stream.

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We’ve taken this trail multiple times, always with that same result.  On a sidenote, that bridge is the beginning of the hike up Penobscot Mountain, the path we took on our 25th wedding anniversary in 2007.  🙂

On June 3, we returned to one of our favorite climbs, South Bubble Mountain.

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This is the first trail we did at the park back in 1986.  This vista looks south over Jordan Pond, a body of water we have kayaked several times.  It was a tad nippy for us to put them on the lake this time.

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Along the east side of the mountaintop is Bubble Rock, a glacial erratic that was deposited here at the end of the last ice age.  While it looks like it is going to fall, it is actually quite stable.  The rock it is made of came from strata nearly 40 miles to the north.

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As always, South Bubble summit brings a smile to our faces!  One note on this trail:  The park has improved the mid-section of this path since our last visit.  If you were here in the past, you will find this hike a lot easier than it used to be.

On June 4, we drove the remainder of the Park Loop Road.

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Sand Beach had plenty of people on it, despite being on the frigid waters of the North Atlantic.  The beach is actually made up of fine pieces of granite and is the only ocean beach in this area of Maine.  This spot is usually the place to be on a hot August day.

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While we were standing there, one of the cruise ships that frequent Bar Harbor could be seen leaving the port.

Further up the road, we stopped at the Precipice Trail.  It is currently closed because a pair of Peregrine falcons are attempting to nest there, as is quite often the case.  That challenging trail along the cliffs of Champlain Mountain was laid out by Rudolph Brunnow at the beginning of the 20th century.

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Brunnow was a well-to-do Princeton professor back then  He built this ‘cottage’ below the trail for his English fiancee, who was coming to America to marry him.  She unfortunately never saw it, as she booked passage to the United States on the Titanic in 1912.

June 6 took us to the western side of Mount Desert Island, commonly known as the ‘quiet side’.  Most of the parks activity is found on the east side of the island, so its nice to see the little fishing villages over here.  We did some shopping in Southwest Harbor, a quaint town on a working harbor.

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This is also where Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse is located.  This is a tough photograph to get, as that spruce tree to the right of the light has grown quite a bit over the years.

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On the way back, we stopped at Atlantic Brewing Company.  Since the last time we were here in 2010, they’ve partnered with Mainely Meat BBQ.  We were stuffed by the time we left!

The next day, we took on a new-to-us hike.  This was a relatively easy walk on a carriage road along the west side of Eagle Lake, followed by a rock scramble up the side of Conner’s Nubble.  A quick word about the carriage roads:  John D. Rockefeller donated and supervised the construction of over 50 miles of these paths on Mount Desert Island.

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His roads are beautiful.  They are open to hikers, horses and non-motorized bikes.

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These sign posts can be found at path intersections.  The numbers on the bottom of the posts correspond with the numbers found on the carriage road map.

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The path up to the top of Conner’s Nubble was one of the toughest we had seen in the park.  It didn’t seem to be heavily traveled, so maintaining it must not be a priority.

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But check out this view above the trees!  That is Eagle Lake, looking north.  Our car is parked at the far end, for reference.

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Retracing our steps, we passed under one of the beautiful stone bridges that grace the carriage roads.

On June 8, we did another trail we had never done before; Great Head.

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This is a fairly easy path that runs along the backbone of Great Head, just to the east of Sand Beach.  There are some nice coastal views from the summit, including this one over the rock called Old Soaker.

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This is also one of the best places to see Egg Rock Lighthouse, short of being on a boat.  Schoodic Peninsula can be seen in the distance.

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These smiles are beginning to become a theme here!  No doubt about it, the trails at Acadia make us very happy. 🙂

From there, we drove up to the top of Cadillac Mountain again to catch a sunset.  While sunrises are popular from up here (its the first place to see the sun in the U.S. each morning), we prefer the other end of the day.

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As usual, the sunset from Blue Hill Overlook was beautiful.  If you ever come for a sunset here, come early (to get a parking spot), dress warm, and stay a half hour after the sun actually sets.  If there are wispy clouds, the entire sky lights up at that point.

That’s our first week at Acadia National Park!  Be sure to check in next time when we discover several other new places undiscovered on previous visits.  Until then, safe and happy travels!

 

 

Northward into Maine

May 29-30, 2018 – Brentwood, NH 

May 31, 2018 – Fairfield, ME

Pulling up stakes in Cape Cod and heading northward into Maine, we made a couple of noteworthy stops.  The first one was in Brentwood, New Hampshire at a Boondockers Welcome location, Winterwood Farm.

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Our hosts provided us with a level site next to their barn for two nights, complete with 30 amp electric.  Per the rules of the organization, we won’t reveal their names on social media or this blog.  We will say that they were wonderful hosts!

After getting to know them a bit, we headed off to the town of Exeter, New Hampshire.  We had dinner reservations, as it was my sweetie’s birthday!

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We had a window seat at a place called Hemmingway’s.  It was yummy!

From there we headed to Stone Church in the town of New Preston, an 1824 former church turned pub.  We were looking for live music, and it turns out our host was playing banjo in a jam session that night.

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What a great time!  We stuck around for several songs, then headed home for the night.

The next day, we explored the area a bit.  Diana’s long-time friend Debi has a brother who is part owner of North Country Hard Cider, which was located nearby in the town of Rollinsford. Unfortunately they were closed that day, but we were able to  purchase some of North Country’s Original Press at a local convenience store.  They definitely have a great product!

We also visited Flag Hill Distillery and Winery in the village of Lee that day.  While we found their wine to be a bit sweet for our tastes, their bourbon was amazing and their rye whiskey was even better!  We bought a bottle of the rye.  🙂

We had a fantastic stay at Winterwood Farm.  If you are a Boondockers Welcome member, be sure to look them up.  They are wonderful hosts!

The next day, we headed into Maine.  We came to the Pine Tree State once every three years, from 1986 through 2010.  That streak was sidetracked while we were responsible for Diana’s mom, so we missed 2013 and 2016.  Crossing the border was like coming home.  Our destination for the night was a Harvest Host location, Misty Acres Alpaca Farm in Sidney.

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What an amazing place!  Charlie greeted us and gave us a choice of places to park.  We chose the big barn, giving us a chance to fill our water tank and grab enough electric to keep our battery charged.

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Not only that, we had a nice view of the pasture!

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The alpacas were adorable!

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They aren’t fond of being petted, but they are very curious. 🙂

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Diana took the opportunity to bottle feed one of the little ones.  It had yet to be named; she put her vote in for the name Cocoa.

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This tiny white one is named Miracle.  She was prematurely born on a very cold spring evening.  Fortunately Charlie found her when he fed the herd, as she would have froze by morning.  He and his wife Connie took her in the house and gave her warm baths and nursed her back to health.  She is doing really well!

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They also have a store filled with alpaca clothing.

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We brought home a pair of socks, a scarf, and a few shoe inserts.  I’m here to tell you that the inserts are like a dream in my slippers!

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We thoroughly enjoyed our stay with Charlie and Connie!  They welcomed us back, and we will definitely take them up on that!

Next up:  We come home to Acadia, after an eight year hiatus.  Be sure to stay tuned for what will be multiple posts on this beautiful slice of heaven.  Until then, safe and happy travels!


Note:  Be sure to take a look at our header menu for our new page Modifications and Repairs.  This is the place that deals with anything of that nature in our travels thus far.  As new issues crop up, we will share them with you on that page.

 

Captivating Cape Cod

May 24-28, 2018 – Cape Cod, Massachusetts

If you ever find yourself running north through Bishop, California on US-395, just past the Upper Crust Pizza Parlor, you will see a sign for US-Route 6.  That is the western terminus of one of the longest highways in the United States.  The eastern end is the subject of this post: Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  Far different from the desert landscape out west, this forested peninsula juts into the Atlantic Ocean, only to curl back towards the Massachusetts mainland it came from.  It somewhat looks like the left arm of the Notre Dame fighting leprechaun.  🙂

Cape Cod was our next stop after our stay in Rhode Island.  We allowed ourselves five days to explore the area, which was a nice amount of time to get a feel for this unique place.  Our base camp was in Eastham, about halfway up the forearm, so to speak.  We stayed at Atlantic Oaks RV Resort, which was conveniently located on the Cape Cod Rail Trail, a 22-mile long asphalt path between South Dennis and Wellfleet.

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As you can see by our truck, we were inundated with pollen.  🙂  That has been the downside of following the blooming dogwood trees all the way up the coast.  The weather has been decent, though!

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And check out that beautiful bike path.  This was one of the best marked trails we had ever been on, with motion sensors at many of the road crossings to alert the drivers.  When it crossed busy Route 6, it was either by dedicated bridge or tunnel.  Plenty of pretty views along the way.  We rode portions of this route three separate times, as the weather allowed.

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Any chance for us to get out on the trikes is sure to put smiles on our faces!

The area is also home to Cape Cod National Seashore.  This park covers 40 miles of Atlantic coastline, and is just above 43,000 acres in size.  It was created in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy.  When not on the rail trail, we could be found in the park!

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This is the view from the visitor center.  While this looks like an inland lake, it is actually a salt water pond that is subject to the ocean tides.  It is aptly named Salt Pond, and it is smack in the middle of the Cape.

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With the miles of coastline comes a multitude of lighthouses.  This is Nauset Light, which was fairly close to our campground.

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And near that were the relocated Three Sisters lights.  These were originally fixed light beacons, built long before the lenses rotated.  Ships could tell where they were by the fact that there were three of them lit.  When the National Park Service restored them, they only rebuilt one lantern room.

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Farther up the coast is the Highland Lighthouse.  This 1857 structure was moved 400 feet back from the sea in 1996.  International Chimney Corporation of Buffalo was the contractor responsible for the work, three years prior to their similar accomplishment at Cape Hatteras.

We also visited the Edward Penniman House, which was the home of a very successful whaling captain.

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Our guide, a former builder from New Jersey, has been giving tours of the home for over twenty years.  While the home itself lacked furniture and was in need of repair, he was able to tell the story of the family that lived here.  It was nice to see such a dedicated volunteer.  🙂

 

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We also visited the Old Harbor Life Saving Museum.  This structure is at the north end of Cape Cod.  The plywood on the windows covers blown out windows from winter storms earlier in the year.  As are many of the structures along this coast, this building was in danger of falling into the sea.  It was moved here from further down the shore by barge in 1977.  This museum is maintained exactly as it would have been when it was a lifesaving station, right down to the living quarters.  We wanted to see this place, as we are going to be volunteering in a similar building in Michigan later this summer.

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Our tour guide gave us a very detailed description of what occurred at this facility.

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Room by room, David explained at length the day-to-day life at this remote outpost.  The men who worked here never had a chance to become bored, as they were constantly practicing for a possible shipwreck rescue.

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He inspired us for our upcoming experience, and we will using some of what he taught us in our tours.  We’ll just have to be careful not to call a harbor a hah-bah. 🙂

That wraps up our enjoyable stay on Cape Cod!  We had a great time exploring this special place.  Next up, we make a couple of nice stops in New Hampshire and Maine as we move north towards Acadia National Park.  Be sure to stay tuned for that.  Until then, safe travels to all!


 

Take note that we have added a Disclosure and Privacy Policy page immediately below our header, to bring us in compliance with GDPR.  Many thanks to Gaelyn at Geogypsy for alerting us to the need for it, Ingrid at Live Laugh RV for help in setting it up and Nina at Wheelingit for a wealth of information on the subject. 

 

Connecticut and Rhode Island

May 18-22, 2018 – Connecticut & Rhode Island

After spending a week in the Empire State, we continued our journey northeastward along the coast.  The pace slowed considerably as we rolled into Connecticut, and even more so as we entered Rhode Island.  We also met up with some friends, which made our time there even better.  🙂

Our first stop was Bethlehem, Connecticut to see a dear friend from our college days. We stayed at a very nice Harvest Hosts location, March Farm, but we were in such a hurry to meet up with Paul we failed to get a photo. Their spiced peaches were yummy!

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Paul was my best man, a fellow Zamboni driver at the ice arena at Western Michigan University, and one of the first people I met in my freshman year.  Diana and him were good friends throughout that time also. We met up for dinner at the White Horse Pub in New Preston and caught up on each others lives.  Before too long, we were laughing and reminiscing about all the fun things we did back when we were in college.  A very enjoyable evening, indeed.  🙂

The next day we drove to Guilford, CT to check out that area for a bit.

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We stayed at a Harvest Hosts location called Bishop’s Orchards.  This was actually their retail side of their operation, located directly on US-1.  Still, it was plenty quiet for us.  They had a store that was fabulous, with everything from specialty meats and cheeses to wine, produce, and ice cream.

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They also had llamas, goats, pigs, and other assorted farm animals.  It rained like crazy the full day we were there, so we didn’t do much exploring.  We did go out to dinner, just to get out of the rig for a bit.  There was a wedding going on at their venue next door that wrapped up early in the evening. We felt bad for them, as it just poured the entire day.

On Sunday, May 20, we headed for Rhode Island.  We quickly passed through this tiny state on I-95 back in 2007, so we didn’t know much about it.  This time, we made plans to go to dinner with our friends Jerry and Linda from our park in Florida, as this area is their home.

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Our campsite at Fisherman’s Memorial State Park was huge!  We quickly got everything set up before our friends came by to pick us up.  We went a few miles east to Galilee to a little seafood joint called Champlin’s.  It was delicious!

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The restaurant overlooked Galilee Salt Pond Harbor, and was just north of Salty Brine State Beach. Jerry explained to us that the little park was named after a local TV and radio personality he remembered as a kid.

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© New England Historical Society

Salty Brine’s afternoon TV show, Salty’s Shack, ran for more than 50 years.  It featured Popeye, Little Rascals and the Three Stooges films and cartoons.  In the morning, he would read off the school closings on WPRO-AM.  Two towns in western Rhode Island, Foster and Gloucester, typically received more snow than other parts of the state.  With his New England accent, Salty would lump them together and shorten them to “No school Fosta Glosta!”  He reminded us of our own Michigan weatherman when we were growing up, Sonny Eliot.

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It was great to see Linda and Jerry again!  We look forward to hanging out with them in Florida, come November. 🙂

On May 21 and 22, we explored the area around Narragansett a bit.

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Coming into town Narragansett Pier, the road goes under this historic building known as The Towers.  Once connected to a large resort, this 19th century structure has survived multiple fires, nor’easters, and hurricanes.  The Coast Guard House restaurant sits between it and the water.

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We sat at their bar and enjoyed an afternoon cocktail and the view.  While there, we noticed a lighthouse blinking across the bay, so we drove over to check it out.

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This is Beavervail Point Lighthouse State Park, located at the southern tip of Beavertail State Park.  This light station was built way back in 1856.  This is actually the third tower to be built here, the first having been constructed in 1749.  We spent the afternoon enjoying the sunshine in the adjacent park.

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We also visited Point Judith Lighthouse.  This was the subject of one of my favorite Steven Dempsey photographs, The Wind and the Moon.  The first tower was constructed here in 1810, with this one being built in 1857.

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Its light shines over Point Judith Harbor of Refuge and the Atlantic Ocean.

We really enjoyed our time in Connecticut and Rhode Island. These two tiny states are filled with acre upon acre of beauty.  With their location being so close to Boston and New York, one would not expect the peace and tranquility we found here.  We will definitely be back!

Next up, we head further northeast to Cape Cod for a week-long stay.  Be sure to stay tuned for that.  Until then, safe travels to all!

 

 

 

Fun in the Hudson River Valley

May 12, 13, 15 & 16, 2018 – Hudson River Valley, NY

As we stated a couple of posts back, our base for seeing New York City was Newburgh, New York.  Located about an hour-plus north of NYC by rail, this charming area nestled in the Hudson River Valley is as if you are in a totally different world.  The rolling hills are dotted with small farms and little towns, in contrast to the metropolis to the south.  With us being in the vicinity for the better part of a week, we decided to explore and see what hidden gems we might find!

Saturday, May 12 was a cold, drizzly sort of day, we decided it would be a good opportunity to do some grocery shopping.  On the way to the store, Diana did a little Google search and informed me that Angry Orchard Hard Cider was located near there in the town of Walden, and that they had live music that afternoon. Seeing that this cider is available across the nation, I had always assumed Angry Orchard to be a fictional place.  Apparently, this wasn’t the case.  I made a quick U-turn and we headed to the cidery.  Groceries can wait until later!

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This very real place is filled with gnarly-looking apple trees.  According to the company, the angriest trees produce the best cider.

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It is here that they have what is known as their Innovation Cider House.  This is where they offer new flavors and blends to their guests, before sending it out to the masses.

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Everyone of drinking age is given a free flight of three different ciders, and the bar offers several other flavors for sale.  As you can see in the photo above, the complimentary pours are a decent size!  Diana also tried their Rose.  I had a pint of their Maple Wooden Sleeper, which is aged in bourbon barrels.  It has a somewhat dryness to it, with hints of maple, vanilla and bourbon. At 12% ABV…double their normal offering…it also earns the name ‘sleeper’!

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They had a duo that afternoon, which made for a great atmosphere!  We were sitting at community tables with several locals, which was a lot of fun.

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They have a self-guided tour that ends with this showcase of the awards they’ve won.  Most were from the Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Competition.  Hmmmmm…..never heard of that, but it might be worth checking out sometime!

Sunday, May 13 was another rainy day, so we decided to head across the river to Hyde Park.  We had visited this town back in 2007 to see Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s home and Eleanor Roosevelt’s cottage, Valkill.  Both were amazing and are recommended by us, if you are in the area.  This time, we visited FDR’s neighbor, the Vanderbilt mansion.

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Frederick and Louise Vanderbilt had this estate built in the late 1890’s as a summer escape from the heat of New York City.  These are the people who owned the New York Central railroad and are responsible for the beautiful Grand Central Terminal we love so much.  When Frederick passed in the 1930’s, he willed the mansion to his niece.  After unsuccessfully trying to sell it, FDR convinced her to donate it to the National Park Service.  It has been in their care since 1940.

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This is the dining room.  The table actually looked small in this room, but our guide explained that the couple only entertained a few guests at a time.

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This is Louise’s bedroom.  Lots of gold leaf adorning the walls.

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This is the man cave, so to speak.  I’m sure there were plenty of cigars smoked in this room!

Tours are offered at $10 each. Although it doesn’t state it in their literature or on their website, NPS Interagency Annual Passholders are admitted at no charge.  We didn’t check, but that is probably the same at the Roosevelt sites, so be sure to ask.

On Tuesday May 15, we decided to check out the nearby town of New Paltz with our friend Kathy.  We met her while working at Amazon in 2016 and we’ve been fortunate to see her twice between then and now.  Check out her new blog called Wonder Woman Wandering.  After checking out a few stores, we grabbed a drink at a local watering hole.  While there, everyone’s phones went crazy as there was a tornado warning.  We looked at the radar and it appeared we were OK where we were, but we decided to head back to camp, just in case.  Later that evening, a nasty storm hit.  While it was bad by us, it was much worse just to our south.  Huge trees were toppled everywhere and a couple of people were killed when they fell on them.

The next day, the three of us decided to do some more exploring.  On a stop at Walgreens to pick up a prescription, we saw this:

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I guess this is why it’s a good idea to have a backup generator.  All of their dairy coolers had lost power in the storm.

We headed to Minnewaska State Park on a quest to do a little hiking.

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This is Awosting Falls from above.  We continued down the trail to see what they looked like from below.

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Very pretty!  These falls are located on the Peters Kill River, which was flowing rapidly with the recent rains.

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Diana and Kathy spotted this interesting boulder across the river with trees growing over it.  🙂

We then drove up to Lake Minnewaska to see what that looked like.

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Kathy read a sign that told how the quartz that underlies the lake prevents the acidity from being filtered out.  As a result, this body of water doesn’t have any fish.  It is a picturesque scene, nonetheless.

On the way back, we made a stop at Kelder’s Farm in Kerhonkson.

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Kathy had spotted this garden gnome in Roadside America, as the largest in the world when it was made in 2006, and said “Now THAT’S a selfie moment!”  By golly, I believe she is right!

To cap the day, we stopped at Tuthilltown Distillery to sample what they had to offer.  They had some excellent bourbon, but their prices reflected their small size.  We did enjoy the tasting, though!

That wraps up our time in New York and the Hudson River Valley for the time being.  Next up, we visit with friends in Connecticut and Rhode Island.  Be sure to stay tuned for that.  Until then, safe travels to all!

A Stroll Through Lower Manhattan

May 14, 2018 – New York City, NY

After spending Friday in Mid-town and the Lower West Side, we had a few more places we wanted to visit in Lower Manhattan.  Monday’s weather looked like it was going to cooperate, so we once again grabbed the 10:08 Metro-North out of Beacon and headed into Grand Central.  Once there, it was an easy subway ride on the Green 4-5-6 line down to the City Hall station.  One thing we failed to mention in the last post is that subway maps can be a challange to find.  If you are in Grand Central Terminal, go to the information kiosk in the center of the main concourse and ask for one.  They keep them behind the counter.  No charge, and they are a really nice quality map.

Our first destination was the Brooklyn Bridge.  This graceful span has fascinated me for as long as I can remember.  Begun in 1869 and completed in 1883, this mile-plus long structure was the longest in the world when it opened…by a whopping 50%!  The designer, John Roebling, purposely planned it to be six times stronger than it needed to be, and that is why it still stands today.  On average, over 100,000 vehicles cross it daily, along with 4,000 pedestrians and 3,100 bicyclists.

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While the bridge was originally designed to allow rail and horse-drawn carriage traffic on the main deck, it always had a pedestrian passage in the center of the upper level.  Time to lace up the Asics and take a hike to Brooklyn!

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The Gothic arched towers of Maine granite, in contrast with the hybrid cable-stay system of suspending the deck above the water takes your breath away.

When we came to the Manhattan tower, we were a bit concerned to see only John Roebling and his son Washington’s names on the plaque as having been the builders of the span.  Having read the book, The Great Bridge by David McCullough (a wonderful literary work that I highly recommend), I knew there was more to that story.  When the initial construction was underway in 1869, John Roebling’s foot was crushed between a ferry boat and the dock.  That led to his death from tetanus.  Reading the gruesome account of his demise reminded me of my grandmother’s description of my great-grandfather’s passing from the same disease.  It wasn’t lost on me that they were both builders of 19th century landmarks that still stand, German and named John.  Before Roebling passed, he put his son in charge of the project.  While working in the caissons way below river level Washington Roebling developed a case of the bends, which little was known about at the time.  He ended up permanently disabled and housebound in Brooklyn, so his wife Emily stepped in.  On her own she learned the advanced mathematics, physics, and engineering required to complete the structure.  From 1870 to 1883,  one determined woman oversaw the construction of this engineering marvel.

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To say we were thrilled to see this plaque honoring her on the Brooklyn tower is an understatement. 🙂   It was fitting that she was the first to cross the completed span, riding in a carriage and carrying a rooster; a sign of victory.  You go girl!

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After crossing to terra-firma in Brooklyn, we turned around and headed back.  The overcast skies were beginning to clear!

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Here are the buildings of lower Manhattan, as seen through the 135 year-old cables of the span.

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The view really opened up when we reached mid-river.

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What a great way to spend the morning!

Our friends Linda and Steven went to NYC last year, and suggested to us that we must visit Eataly!   After a quick Google search we found that one of the two locations in town was near the Brooklyn Bridge in World Trade Center 4, so off we went.

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Along the way, we passed this beautiful fountain in front of City Hall.  New York has so many wonderful public spaces like this.

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Eataly is a chain of Italian marketplaces/restaurants located around the globe.

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Oh, my….so many choices!  We opted for a sit-down meal at La Pizza & La Pasta.

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Diana’s selection was a Capricciosa pizza, which included San Marzano tomato sauce, mozzarella di bufala from Napoli, prociutto cotto, mushrooms, artichokes and olives.  To drink, she chose a GuS extra dry ginger ale.

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I selected the Pappardelle, although I chose a gluten-free substitute for the noodles.  They were tossed with peas, pancetta, spring onion, white wine, butter and parmigiano reggiano. Pared nicely, I might say, with a glass of Pinot Grigio.  🙂  We completed the meal with some of their decadent gelato.  Absolutely delightful!  We texted Linda and Steven afterwards and told them we loved them.  🙂

Before we left the restaurant, we stepped over to the large wall of windows and looked down at our next destination:  The 9/11 Memorial.

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Through the 400 swamp white oak trees, chosen for their resiliency and strength, is the reflecting pool that occupies the footprint of the South Tower, known as World Trade Center 2.  We had visited this spot in 2007, back when it was a huge construction site.

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Photos don’t do this solemn ground justice.  Two pools are placed where the 110-story towers once stood.  Water falls from the outside into the pool, then falls again into the void in the center.  The water seems to vanish, just as the people who perished here did.

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Names of the victims encircle both pools, arranged with the people they worked with.  Above is Father Judge’s name; he died when the South Tower collapsed.  The diversity of names from around the globe really stands out.

We walked slowly around both pools, contemplating that horrible day in 2001.

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Above it all rises the Freedom Tower, now taking the name World Trade Center 1 from the former North Tower.  Rising to 1,776 feet tall, it is the tallest building in the United States and is currently the sixth tallest in the world.

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The names of the victims from Flight 93 in Pennsylvania and the Pentagon are also here, along with the six victims of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.  When I saw Todd Beamer’s name, it hit me hard.  He was one of the men who stormed Flight 93’s cockpit to try to stop the hijackers.

We want to say that we consciously chose not to go to the 9/11 Museum at this time.  Friends who have gone say it is excellent, so you may want to look into it when you visit New York.  Thank you for respecting our choice.

After the memorial, we were drained…but we had a few more stops we wanted to make on our way back to the subway.  First was Trinity Church.

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This beautiful Episcopal chapel stands at the head of Wall Street.

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The church’s graveyard  is the final resting place of Alexander Hamilton, Treasurer of the United States.  He lost a duel with then Vice President Aaron Burr in 1804.  It was considered a legal duel, although it ended Burr’s political career.  By visiting here, we can now say we saw Hamilton in New York.  😉

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Robert Fulton, who invented the steamboat, also rests here.

From Trinity Church, we headed to Federal Hall.

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Even though this isn’t the same building, this is the spot where George Washington took the oath of office as the first President of the United States.

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Inside is the stone he stood on from the first building.  It appears to have seen better days, but it’s cool that they still have it.

Leaving there, we were pretty much wiped out.  We boarded the subway in the Financial District to get back to Grand Central…at 5:15 PM.  Whoops!  That’s when the train cars become sardine cans, and we were standing with plenty of new friends.  🙂  The train stopped once and more people crushed in, then it was an express into the terminal.  We won’t make that mistake again.  😉  Once at Grand Central, we caught an express back to Beacon.  Along the way, we sat on the inland side of the train, seeing several deer along the route.  We were back at camp before dark, capping a really great day in lower Manhattan.

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That wraps up our time in New York City for now. When we visited the first time in 2007, we toured the Statue of Liberty, had dinner at Tavern on the Green in Central Park, and attended a Broadway play. We look forward to visiting again, and discovering new adventures in the Big Apple. Our next post will highlight some of the fun things we did around Newburgh, so be sure to stay tuned for that.  Until then, safe travels to all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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