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????

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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.

Philip and Marlene

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perfect Timing in New York City

May 11, 2018 – New York City, New York

When most fulltime RVers choose travel destinations, they envision trees, rivers, and views from lofty heights.  Many look for places where they can hike long distances in natural surroundings.  On May 11, we found the perfect place to accomplish all of that:  New York City. This post deals with how we navigated the first of two days on Manhattan Island…all with serendipitous timing.

This wasn’t our first time in New York City.  We had come here as part of our 25th anniversary trip back in 2007, so we knew how to get around the metro area.  Back then, our friends Karen and Bill had told us of a KOA up in Newburgh, NY that was convenient to the Beacon train station.  That campground also had a woman who would walk our dog Jenny for a donation to KOA Care Camps for children dealing with cancer.  That worked well for us on our two trips into the city that year, allowing us to stay into the evening.  So this time around, we chose the same campground for our week-long stay.  Even though Jenny is no longer with us, we were happy to see that Carol is still there taking care of the pups.  And by a stroke of pure luck, our friend Kathy was working there.  You might remember her from our Charleston post.  We had no firm plans this trip, just a list of possible things to do in the area.

On Friday, May 11, we were drinking our coffee in our PJ’s and trying to decide our schedule for the week.  A quick look at the Weather Channel revealed rain and low temperatures in the forecast for most of our stay,  which meant the best day weather-wise was upon us.  Time to get moving.  We grabbed showers, sandwiches, sunglasses, water, and we were out the door!  Looking at the train schedule, we knew we were going to be close to making the 10:08.  The next train wouldn’t be for another hour, so we really wanted to catch it.  With it being 11 years since our last visit, we weren’t exactly sure the details of accomplishing that feat.  Well if there are two attributes to New Yorkers, it is that they are efficient and willing to help.  After a very quick transaction with the smiling toll collector on the Hudson River bridge, we were in the parking lot at the station.  “Toot-toooooot” … we could hear the Metro North coming!  We ran for the platform and quickly navigated the parking pay station (pay by plate) and up the stairs for the bridge over the tracks.  We passed a woman and asked if we could buy tickets on the train. “Yes, but it will cost you more,” she said without missing a beat.  Ok, so onto the platform, I quickly paid for two tickets in the vending machine as the train came in.  We literally grabbed them, turned to our left and stepped on the train. Ahhhhh….we had an hour-plus to chill. 🙂

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The beauty of riding this route is that it runs along the Hudson River the entire way.  The valley is lined with steep basalt cliffs known as the Palisades.  We could see the castle-like U.S. Military Academy at West Point across the river, along with many beautiful old homes, countless boats, and a fair amount of waterfowl. It is here that I will note that the two train cars furthest from the city (last ones inbound and first ones outbound) are now designated quiet cars.  That is probably a result of our incessant talking and newspaper rattling back in 2007, that resulted in a few glares from the commuters.  🙂

While we were rolling along Diana texted our friend Shari, a professor at Rutgers close by in New Jersey, because we had tentative plans to meet her in New York City that weekend.  She commented that we should be going today, as the weather was so beautiful. Diana responded that we were on way, and asked “Are you in?” She was in the middle of getting her hair done, but was able to grab a bus into the city immediately afterwards.  We made plans to meet for a late lunch at 2:30. We love it when a plan comes together!

Shari was the one who taught us how to navigate the subway system our last time here.  Back then, we toured Greenwich Village, Soho, and the Garment District with her.  We even ended up on CBS Sunday Morning, when we walked into Blue Ribbon Bakery.  They were doing a story about picnics.  Check it out HERE, between 17 and 22 seconds on the video (our five seconds of fame).  I’m the one in the Hawaiian shirt.

As we approached the city, the train slid underground for the final few miles to our destination.  Once inside Grand Central Terminal, we walked up into the main concourse.

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We never get tired of seeing this beautiful building!  Financed by the Vanderbilts, this huge structure was completed in 1913.  In this photo, we are actually one level below the streets.  There are 44 train platforms…the most at any terminal in the world… along with three subway lines that intersect here.  A very busy place that, despite the volume of people, works exceedingly well.

Once on the street, we had three hours until we were to meet up with Shari at the intersection of Gansevoort and Washington…about 2.5 miles away.  Plenty of time to take a hike and catch that lofty view I referred to earlier.  We spotted a North Face store across from the station; after all…you would fully expect to find an outdoor store here.  😉  We were wanting a smaller day pack, and the people inside were able to help us accomplish that.  Out the door we headed for the second highest spot in the city, the Empire State Building!  Quickly navigating the mostly-empty queues (due to it being a weekday in early spring), we were soon outside on the 86th floor observatory.

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I looked up to see if King Kong was on the mast, just in case.  Nope…we were good.  Amazingly, this 1454 foot tall tower took only a little more than 13 months to build.

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Looking north, you can see Central Park beyond the tall buildings.  Lots of construction can be seen, as this city is constantly changing.

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This is looking west-northwest.  If you had been here on January 15, 2009, you could have seen Captain Sully land his plane on the Hudson from this point.

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This view is northeast, with the art-deco Chrysler building to the left and the East River behind.  I noticed that it was actually somewhat quiet up on the observatory deck, even though you could hear the street traffic far below.

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And the view south towards the Freedom Tower.  The Statue of Liberty can be seen to the right in the distance.  The Flatiron building is in the foreground on the point.  Amazingly, it was once one of the tallest buildings in New York when it was completed in 1902.

Once we were done, we rode the subway down to 14th Street.  From there we hoofed it to a restaurant called Bubby’s to meet Shari.  We exchanged hugs at 2:31….not bad!  🙂  The cafe had recently had a kitchen fire, so they were going to be opening up for the first time in a week later that afternoon.  Instead we ate at another place named High Street on Hudson, which was very good.  After that we did a little shopping.  She took us into a Christian Louboutin shoe store. Known for their red soles, the prices started at around $300 and rose quickly from there.  Not that any of us were buying, but it was fun to see how the other half shops!  We then headed to the southern end of the High Line.

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What is the High Line you ask?  It is a former elevated railway that carried freight to southern Manhattan.  It opened as a 1.45 mile long linear city park in 2009.  Talk about nature!

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They left the tracks and incorporated the landscaping around them.

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Check out the trillium and the ferns.  Are we in Leelanau?

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Looking up reveals we weren’t.  🙂  Hey…we were just up on top of that tower!

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And here is a dandy bit of construction going on.  That crane is level and plumb.  Look closely at the tower.  They are building it to be tilted like that.  I’m assuming it is an optical illusion that the floors themselves look slanted.  Go figure!

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Shari took this photo of us on this cool park feature.  It is built like a theater with windows at the front.  People are able to sit and watch as traffic on 10th Avenue zips out from under them.  Nice place to hang out and play the license plate game.  🙂

After we walked the entire length of the High Line, we grabbed dinner in Hell’s Kitchen at a restaurant called The Marshall.  Again, very tasty!

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It is always guaranteed to be a fun day when we are able to hang out with Shari!  We said our goodbyes near the restaurant and Diana and I trekked over a few blocks to Times Square.  It was starting to get dark by this time, so the bright lights were in all their glory.

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Right above that ‘2018’ is the mast that the Waterford crystal ball slides down on New Years Eve.

From there we grabbed the Shuttle subway line directly to Grand Central.  While we were waiting for the train we met a young man from Columbia who was trying to find his way to Connecticut, and he asked if he was on the right subway.  I knew enough to tell him the New Haven train ran from Grand Central, so we helped him navigate his way across town and to the information kiosk in the center of the main concourse of the terminal.  As we entered that grand hall, he stopped cold in his tracks.  “Whoa, hold on!!! I have to take a picture!”  He was in awe of what he was seeing, and we were happy to be able to help him.  With that, we made our train back to Beacon with just minutes to spare, capping a day filled with perfect timing and loads of fun.  We logged over 21,000 steps and 11 floors on our Fitbits, once all was said and done.  Whew!

Next up, we spend a second day in New York, checking out several sites in lower Manhattan.  Be sure to stay tuned for that adventure!

 

 

Harpers Ferry & Delaware Water Gap

“Take me down to Shenandoah

To the joining of the streams

Take me back to Harpers Ferry

Let me revel in my dreams”

Greg Artzner/Terry Leonino

 

May 6-7, 2018 – Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

May 8-9, 2018 – Delaware Water Gap, Pennsylvania

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At the far eastern tip of West Virginia, where the Shenandoah River empties into the Potomac, lies the tiny river village of Harpers Ferry.  From the point in town where the rivers meet (as seen above) the eastward view shows Maryland to the left, Virginia to the right and the Potomac rolling onward towards Chesapeake Bay.  This hamlet was named for Robert Harper, who purchased a ferry service in 1747 from a squatter who had established it fourteen years before.  The land itself, owned by Lord Fairfax, was purchased by Harper in 1751.  Since that time, the town has seen more history than most communities of its size, and it continues to be a magnet for people from all over the world.

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Across the river in Maryland the vantage point known as Maryland Heights offers a commanding view of Harpers Ferry.  Two railroads run through the lower portion of town, which is built on a flood plain.  As one would expect, floods have had a major impact on anything built there over the years.  This area was home to most of the commercial and industrial parts of the community.  The upper part of town is mostly residential, churches, and small retail shops.

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We climbed up there via steps that are cut into the rock that the village is built upon.

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Along the way, we passed the Harper House, where Meriwether Lewis is believed to have stayed when he came here in 1803 to procure weapons and supplies for his expedition to the Pacific.

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At the top of the steps is St. Peter Catholic Church.  Its commanding perch on the hillside ensures that its steeple can be seen for miles.

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Continuing upwards, we passed the ruins of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.

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Our destination was Jefferson Rock.  This balanced shale (supported in the mid-1800’s) was the place Thomas Jefferson stood in 1783, declaring the view as “perhaps one of the most stupendous scenes in nature”.

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That was one vista we needed to explore!

The lower town is home to Harpers Ferry National Historic Park.

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Many interesting little shops and displays can be found there, covering the varied history of the village.

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This display shows a recreation of the rifle works in the U.S. Armory that was located here.   Interchangeable weapon parts were invented at the armory.

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And I was very glad to see a recreation of the “experiment”, the iron-framed boat Lewis and Clark brought west with them.  I had read about in in the book Undaunted Courage, but I couldn’t visualize what it looked like.

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The plan was to stretch animal hides over the frame and seal the seams with pine tar.  The problem came about when there wasn’t any pine trees to be found when it came time to assemble it above Great Falls, Montana.  They substituted beeswax, buffalo tallow and charcoal, hoping it would hold.  According to Lewis the boat floated “like a perfect cork on the water”, until the beeswax mixture let loose and the craft began to sink.  He ordered the frame to be buried and they continued on their way without it.  They did dig it up to inspect it on the return trip (as noted in his journals), but that was the last mention of it.

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There was also a fair amount about abolitionist John Brown, who was captured in this building after a siege of the armory in 1859.  Brown believed the only way slavery would be overthrown was by the use of violence.  His reason for the raid was to obtain weapons in order to arm slaves. The capturing forces were led by Robert E. Lee, then a colonial in the U.S. Army.  Brown was charged with treason and hanged in nearby Charles Town.  His efforts captured the attention of the country, and are considered to have contributed to the start of the Civil War.

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Speaking of that war, this life mask of Abraham Lincoln was on display in one of the buildings.  It had been done just two months before he was assassinated.  It was surreal to look at, knowing the mold that formed this had actually touched his face.  It really looks like the stress of the war took a toll on him.  Those hostilities were also hard on Harpers Ferry, as the community changed hands eight times between the north and south from 1861 to 1865.

Moving from the past to the present, we wanted to note a few of the recreational opportunities available in the area.

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From a distance, Diana saw this woman rock climbing below Maryland Heights.

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Also, on the near side of this bridge, there is a pedestrian walkway.

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That’s actually the Appalachian Trail.  Now we can say we hiked from West Virginia to Maryland.  😉

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Even though this isn’t the exact center, most people consider it the psychological halfway point of the 2,178 mile long path.

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And Harpers Ferry is home to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, a place we really wanted to visit.  It is a great rest spot for the trail users, offering loads of information and computer access.  They take a photo of each hiker and keep binders as a history of thru hikers. We have to admit, making that journey has crossed our minds on occasion over the years. You can always complete it in segments…

On May 8, we headed north to Delaware Water Gap in Pennsylvania.  Our reason for the stop was so that we could meet up with one of Diana’s childhood friends.

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Ellen and Diana were in Girl Scouts together.  And speaking of long hikes…

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…Ellen had a photo of when the troop hiked across Michigan from the shore of Lake Huron to the shore of Lake Michigan.  Diana still has her “Shore to Shore Hiker” sweatshirt in storage.  🙂

The next day, Diana and I checked out the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.  Unfortunately, most of the trails had been recently damaged by a late winter storm, so many of the waterfalls were inaccessible.

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We did find that the trail to Raymondskills Falls was recently reopened, so we walked down to check that out.

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They were very pretty, and it was good to get out on a trail in the woods again!

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This smaller waterfall off to the side was particularly nice.

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Even though most of the park was inaccessible, Raymondskills Falls provided a little sampling of what Delaware Water Gap has to offer.  If we get back this way, we will hike to some of the other falls!

Next up:  Come along with us as we log some major Fitbit steps in New York City. 🙂  Be sure to stay tuned for that adventure!

Of special note:  We wanted to mention the passing of fellow blogger and fulltime RVer, Lynne Braden.  She was the author of Winnie Views,  the travel stories of her and her late yellow lab Millie.  The way she faced her terminal cancer with grace was an inspiration to us.  Though we never met in person, we kept in contact with her through our blogs and by email.  We will truly miss her and her cheerful smile. Her legacy lives on through her generous donation to Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, the place that gave her the first opportunity to volunteer.  The next time you see a Sandhill Crane, smile and think of Lynne.  🙂

 

 

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