Thanks for joining me and John and Baker on our journey across the continent.
‘Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter’ — Izaak Walton
And so the adventure begins. Since it has taken me some time to actually decide to write a blog, I am going to have to start with a lengthy prologue to provide the necessary background and get everyone caught up with where we are today.
July 29, 2018 (Still living in our beautiful condo at Hudson Pointe in Poughkeepsie, NY)
The house is in contract, the deposit has been made on the fifth wheel and I am spending the first of several Sundays at Rinaldi’s flea market in Poughkeepsie, NY, selling a variety of treasures at my 20’x20′ spot in a parking lot. I am considering this to be the beginning of the adventure because I am meeting so many interesting people- people I would not ordinarily interact with in my everyday experience.
A very friendly gentleman took an interest in a framed, ripped up, black and white picture of the Marx brothers and proceeded to tell me Groucho jokes. He also told the story about Margaret Dumont, the perfect foil for Groucho and how much she was adored by the Marx brothers. What made him particularly interesting, was the fact that he was wearing women’s leggings, a blouse, a headband, dangling earrings and fake painted yellow and purple nails.
One of the other vendors named Tony visited my “booth” several times to show me pictures of the chotchkas he likes to collect- porcelain planters shaped like various parts of a woman’s body. Another customer bought a a switchplate and then handed me a little booklet about Adam and Eve and Jesus Christ, illustrated by the Dennis the Menace cartoonist (or so he claimed). Another friendly gentleman told me that he buries his money in his front yard.
Everyone has been so pleasant and it’s so encouraging to see all these people from different cultures and different socioeconomic classes enjoying a Sunday afternoon of shopping and interacting with random strangers. I imagine that this is what it will be like when we travel across the country camping alongside people from all walks of life. This type of experience highlighted to me how insular our lives have been.
We ended up netting over $200 today despite the fact that our average sale price was around $2.00. Not bad for a Sunday afternoon.
This adventure actually began around two years ago when John suggested the idea of selling the condo and living full time in a RV. His idea was to visit friends and relatives around the country and simultaneously check out potential living locales following my retirement. He expected me to fall down laughing or screaming but I actually embraced the idea. Well, maybe not totally embraced, but I was definitely open to it. We started going to RV shows and local RV dealers and began planning for the future. The plan was to leave Poughkeepsie in around year’s time. Well, several life episodes got in the way – including renovations, family matters and even hospitalizations & open heart surgery. Our journey was delayed until now- the summer/fall of 2018.
Well, maybe not so fast- or maybe a bit too fast. We seem to have rapidly run out of time, although we have accomplished an amazing amount of stuff. John flew to Minneapolis to purchase our 35′ fifth wheel. The next weekend, we went out and purchased a big, beautiful, bad ass diesel truck- a Silverado 2500 HD with all the extras that we have no idea how to work.
It took a long time to get the closing date but when we finally did, we had around 10 days to pull off the amazing feat of organizing storage, packing up the house, doing another flea market, organizing bags and boxes for Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity, scheduling a visit with my brother-in-law, Joe, who took our BBQ and bed, and hiring a mover.
Everything was moving right along and then two days before the big move, on the hottest day of an already above average hot summer, our AC crapped out. Our HVAC guy came and showed us the buildup of ice on the unit. He said it would have to melt before he could tinker with it, so we packed and sweated with no AC on a day where the temperature was pushing 100 degrees. Did I mention that we were packing up a 4 story condo?
The next day, the HVAC guy (Tom), tried everything to the tune of $800 and finally said that we needed to replace 2 key components for another $1800. Even worse than that, he said he had to order the parts and hoped to have it installed on Thursday….just one day before the closing. You can’t make this stuff up.
Thursday, August 30, 2018
Okay. It’s Thursday and Tom spent his third full day at our condo, running up and down the stairs, in and out of the front door and the back porch, occasionally cursing or muttering under his breath and sweating buckets. Around 3 hours into the repair job, he asked me for a fan and warned me that he might be setting off the fire alarm because he has to use a torch for awhile. AAGH! What? What about the sprinklers? Thank goodness they didn’t go off but the smoke detectors did, scaring Baker (our dog) half to death. With all this going on, I was also stressed out because I had put in the USPS forwarding order to forward our mail to the RV mail service in Florida, effective today and we hadn’t received our title yet for the RV. We need the title (which was mailed certified last week) to get our plates to bring the RV back from Indiana.
Luckily, we received mail even though it should have been forwarded and there was a slip in the mailbox indicating that we missed delivery of a certified letter. We were rushing to the Post Office, which was about to close, when we saw a mail truck several blocks away. I flagged him down, frantically waving my little brown slip of paper and sure enough, he had our letter. We had our title. We rushed to DMV and registered the RV, not realizing that we had to pay $2800 in NY sales tax on the spot. Whew! This is quite the adventure. So far, it is not what I expected from retirement.
Celebration didn’t last too long though. Returned home from DMV to again find water in the AC room. Broken again or, more accurately, never really fixed. Called Tom from Fox Air yet again and prepared myself for another 6 hour visit. I decided to escape to my neighbor’s house to borrow WiFi and an Ativan for my panic attack over the AC.
We Hit the Road
11 years come and gone
The house is completely cleaned out. The AC is working better than ever. The credit card is maxed out. If the closing gets SNAFU’d, I’m picturing financial ruin. The closing is not finalized but we are on our way to Indiana anyway to pick up the RV & visit family. John is driving the truck and I am following in the CR-V (which we will be giving to our son and daughter-in-law in Indiana). We planned to head out at noon but there was still so much to do, we didn’t hit the NYS Thruway until 3pm. Our dog doesn’t know what’s happening and has stopped eating. When we put his food out, he covers it with a towel. It’s bizarre. He takes his nose and pushes whatever cloth is nearby until it covers his food.
Grove City, PA
Another 4-5 hour drive ahead of us. Our linens and jackets are in the bed of the truck in several plastic cases but they weren’t 100% sealed. They are covered with a thick layer of morning dew and I am eating a lousy hotel breakfast with Fox News blaring from every TV. I hope this is not an indication of how my new life is going to go.
Stayed at the Super 8 in Shipshewana which was really not all that super. Since it’s been so hot and sunny out, we never checked the plastic cases containing our linens and other stuff including jackets and bags to cover them with a tarp in the bed of the truck. Of course in the middle of the night the skies opened up and we had a massive storm soak all the rest of our stuff. My Reynolds plastic wrap, for example, was floating in 3 inches of rain water. The TV in the hotel room kept freezing up due to “inclement weather” and all I could think about was whether my new home would be leaking after this storm.
KZ Durango 1500- Our new home
I met the RV for the very first time, dropping off some boxes while it was parked in the storage lot. I really like it, by the way. Today was the first time I stepped foot in it. It looks like it will be impossible to store everything we brought but we’ll see. We drove 30 minutes away to Dually’s Depot to get the hitch installed in our truck. It’s going to take 2 hours so we drove back to the RV to see if we could organize things a bit. We tried turning on the battery power and it was completely dead in the water. Absolutely nothing worked- not even the simplest things like pushing out the slides. John pulled out the manual and it is totally overwhelming – the briefing he got at the dealer two weeks before a hazy memory. I don’t know what the hell we are doing. Now we are searching for someone we can hire to show us how to do everything and work this thing. I really don’t want to go back to the Super 8.
One piece of good news came, though. The closing is finally scheduled for tomorrow at 12:30pm.
Stan, the man, whose sister married an Amish man. Hooray for Stan from KZ. Luckily the manufacturer of our Durango RV has their corporate headquarters right next door to Starfleet Trucking where our RV is stored (trucked in from the MN dealer where we bought it). John asked if they could find a technician – an expert to assist us for 2 hours at the rate of $50 an hour. They found us Stan- a true gift from God.
We returned to the Starfleet lot to meet Stan and managed to arrive in time to learn enough to get the rig out of there with only 10 minutes left before the lot closed. First, he told us where to buy a new battery so that we could have power & then showed us several of the basics John had been demo’d in MN two weeks before. Then how to hitch up after which he followed us 2 miles down the road to a local campground with an easy “pull-through” spot and all together spent 2 1/2 hours with us, teaching us how to unhitch, connect to electricity and water and many other things. The problem is, there is so much to remember, we will most definitely, inevitably forget some step along the way and damage something or other. John already snapped off the little plastic piece that holds the front door open. I can’t wait until we really know what we are doing, if that day ever comes. Even that 2 mile drive was intense as John had no time to practice in the Starfleet parking lot and he had to avoid Amish people driving their horse and buggies along the road.
We spent our first night at the Shipshewana South campground and met some nice people. It’s interesting to see that most of the folks camping in Northern Indiana are of a certain age (OLD) and a certain ethnicity (WHITE).
Spring Hill Campground, Kokomo, IN
I am writing this from the campground laundry as I try to rectify our issue of soaking wet linens. The most wonderful and amazing thing is this app called PayRange. It allows you to pay for laundry with prepaid funds from a credit card. It’s so convenient- I hope every campground uses this.
Today, we attempt to hitch up by ourselves and then head down towards Kokomo for the next adventure, introducing the rig to the grand kids. We arrived in Kokomo to our second campground, Spring Hill. Sounds lovely, but it’s pretty primitive and very strange. It hasn’t stopped raining since we arrived and it’s incredibly muddy and buggy. We originally had reservations at a much nicer place called White River Campground in Cicero, IN but they called to cancel because the river was overflowing and they were evacuating everyone. One can definitely see the advantages of living in an actual house, although you do get evacuated from them too sometimes.
So, back to Spring Hill. When we checked in at 5 pm, we were greeted by a very pleasant young man with a horrible rash all over his body. He was wearing a large wool slouch, a stretched out T-shirt and funky gym shorts. His name is Corey and he lives here full-time. He directed us to our spot and showed us the building with the toilets and showers. It is a structure that looks like it is completely rotting away and about to collapse. I went to the bathroom and it was a trip. Spider webs everywhere, rusty water in the toilets and paint chipping off every solid structure. Corey was helpful pointing out the white furry caterpillars we should avoid at all costs. They are the culprits that caused his nasty rash. Apparently, they burrow into your skin. Having fun yet?
We went to visit the kids (our son, daughter-in-law and grand kids) in civilization and took them out to dinner.
That was a great break but then we had to head to Walmart to shop for groceries and RV related supplies. We spent an hour and a half in the massive store and I can tell you that there are interesting characters there at that hour of the night- 10pm. I was just so tired, I desperately wanted to get back to my new muddy home.
The first full day in muddy paradise. We still haven’t figured out how to get the hot water heater working so I had to take a shower in that freaky, broken down building. I didn’t realize that there was a timer on the lights because I can’t see without my glasses so it was quite the shock when the lights went out while I was in the middle of my shower. Right before it went dark, I had looked up and there were enormous spider webs and maybe even webs for those nasty monster caterpillars. I had to feel my way out of the shower to get the lights working again. Thank goodness, no one else seems to take showers in this place.
We will be here until Monday and today is Saturday. There’s a flash flood warning in place because the rain is just not stopping. At it’s best, this campground might be OK. There’s usually fishing and hiking and even a little playground but the hiking trails were completely underwater. I pray to God we don’t float away.
It is now Monday and it finally stopped raining. I learned a new term today: honey pot service. We paid a mere $7.00 for the honey pot service at our campground which means they come and pump out your black and grey water for you. We will normally do that ourselves, but we wanted to see how it’s done.
Overall, this was a fun first real camping trip, even though it poured and was very run down. The kids and grand kids slept over on Saturday night and we watched our first movie in the camper- Ready Player One.
Now we are on the road again heading back to NY which will likely take several days because pulling 10,000 lbs is not that relaxing. It’s occasionally very bumpy and a little disconcerting at times.
Trip back to NY
It took 3 days and 3 stops to get back to NY where we are now camped at a lovely place in Gardiner on the Wallkill River. We will finally be able to keep the camper parked here for more than a couple of days.
The last 3 days were interesting. We got a late start pulling out of the Kokomo campground because the hitching process took a bit of time.. What else is new? Everything takes way longer than you expect. We made it to Wauseun, Ohio, which is a 2 hour and 47 minute drive from Kokomo. Because it was so late, we decided to just stay at a hotel for one night. We were able to get a much needed rest and take a nice, long, hot shower. When you have only 6 gallons of hot water, you realize how luxurious that is.
Next morning we had to contend with Fox News in the breakfast area again. John asked the staff to change the channel and they definitely seemed a bit unnerved by that but they complied. I’m sure they switched it back on as soon as we left.
Back on the road, trying to make our way out of Ohio. It seemed to take forever. We had to stop at several rest areas to take care of various things. Some of the rest areas on the Ohio Turnpike really cater to RVs. For $22.00, you can hook up and stay the night. One of the RVers parked in one of the rest stops had around 8-10 falcons or hawks sitting on posts out in the grass. The husband was actually from New Paltz (small world) and they were on their way to a show/demo with the birds.
At the second RV rest stop (we seem to require many stops), we sanitized and filled our fresh water tank–learning something new every day. We ended up driving close to 5 hours, stopping at a beautiful wooded campground called Woodland, near Clearfield, PA. It was, by far, the prettiest place we stayed so far.
Even though we never bothered to unhitch, we had to do laundry so we got another late start. That seems to be the pattern with us. It was really frustrating me but I am learning to go with the flow. It gets a bit easier each day. We almost made it to NY but just couldn’t quite do it. It was dark and very foggy so we found a RV park right off of I84 on the border between NY and PA. It was another interesting experience. We didn’t bother to unhitch and we were parked right underneath a billboard advertising the Cracker Barrel restaurant in Fishkill. You could hear the tractor trailers whipping by. When I walked Baker in the morning, I discovered that the RV park was actually right on the Delaware River and there were some beautiful spots.
So now we have finally landed at a place we can stay for an extended period and catch our breath —-
Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park, Gardiner, NY
Settled in at our very upscale campground called Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park. There are tons of kids here with lots of planned activities. It is very manicured and clean but John says it’s a bit too National Lampoonish for him. You have to wear a wristband and all guests have to register at the office and get escorted to your site. The staff drives around in golf carts enforcing the rules. I took a yoga class this morning and Yogi Bear showed up. There is a gigantic pool and water park, miniature golf, movies on the lawn, volleyball, basketball and lots more. This is quite a difference from our very rustic campground in Matamoras, PA.
At yoga, I set an intention of gaining flexbility because I am so stiff from not stretching, dancing or doing yoga for 2 straight weeks. I realized that I also need to gain flexibility in terms of this new lifestyle. I have to get comfortable with a slower pace and not try to pack too many things into a day.
Although it seems like this should have been a restful experience, we did have a bit of added stress (in a very good way) of a visit from our oldest son, Michael, who flew into JFK on 9/11 (cheap flights are available on that day) from San Diego. He visited with our relatives on Long Island for a few days and then made his way to Poughkeepsie by train on the 13th. He was in NY for a wedding which was 4 hours northwest in Alexandria Bay (north of Watertown). We originally thought we could drive up and back with Michael and perhaps camp out up there, but we realized that we just couldn’t manage that so we had the added stress of trying to figure out how to get him where he needed to go. Ultimately, it all worked out and he arranged a ride with a friend of a friend. While Michael was visiting, we had some other friends come by and we had our very first BBQ in the camper which was great fun.
We’ve been here for a full week so we had a chance to just settle in without worrying about packing up or hitching up or any other time consuming things. Michael was safely ensconced back in his Class C RV in San Diego. The weekdays here at Jellystone are very different- a huge contrast from the harried, noisy weekend. We basically have thee whole place to ourselves and the golf cart gestapo crew was nowhere in sight. We are heading out tomorrow to a new destination. We have our sites set on a state park called Moreau Lake State Park near Saratoga. If we get a spot there, it will be our first “dry camping” experience with no electric or water hook-ups. Should be an interesting adventure.
Royal Mountain Campground, Ephratah, NY
Plans are very changeable when you have no real obligations. Instead of heading straight north, we took a detour to the west and landed in the Royal Mountain Campsite in a tiny town at the foothills of the Southwestern Adirondacks. We drove only 150 miles but it took 5 hours because of various stops along the way including a lengthy shopping stop at Camping World. We were aiming for a campground outside of Utica because we have friends to visit in a small town north of Utica called Remsen. We didn’t quite make it that far and landed here near historic Johnstown, NY. The actual town is Ephratah, NY. The campsite is a pull-through surrounded by beautiful, tall evergreens. It’s very lovely and only costs $32 per night- one of the cheaper sites we have booked. Of course it’s pouring again and the cell service is terrible so I can’t even track the weather. I heard thunder a few minutes ago and am wondering how safe it is to be in this tin can during a thunderstorm. Tomorrow we will explore the quaint area and hopefully locate a grocery store within a 40 mile radius.
We like this place so much, we extended our stay for another 2 days. Such a beautiful place and so affordable. Nobody bothers you- basically nobody is around. Yesterday, we finally had a chance to go on a hike ad spend some time outdoors. Since we started this RV trip, we’ve had so much humidity or rain, we haven’t had a chance to enjoy the outdoors. The last 2-3 days have been glorious, typical September days. It is bright and sunny, around 60 degrees for a high and very brisk in the evening.
Southern Adirondacks NY
Since we had to get back in time to watch the NY Giants beat the Houston Texans, we could only tackle a short hike. We drove into Adirondack Park to the Kane Mountain trail in Shaker Mountain Wild Forest. The first trail was 0.6 miles straight up to a fire tower. At the top of the fire tower, the view was spectacular. This is an extraordinarily beautiful part of the country. We took a 1-2 mile trail back to the parking lot and managed to stay on our feet despite some steep, sometimes muddy downhill spots.
After the usual wrangling and wrestling with our primitive technology, we were able to watch the Giants. After the game, we visited one of John’s childhood friends, Craig and his wife, Darlene. They live around an hour away from here in a very rural section of Remsen, NY. They have been building a 16 sided house for the last three years by themselves. It is an amazing structure that looks circular. It is like a gigantic trigonometry problem. They are only able to work on it when the weather permits so their time is very limited. Winter is coming and they get lots of snow up there. In the meantime, they live in another self-constructed structure that is very cozy and pleasant, despite the composting toilet which Darlene describes as a human litter box.
Craig and Darlene’s 16 sided house in progress, Remsen NY
It is incredible to think about the varied lives we all live. Their neighbor down the road has lived there all his life, before the roads were even paved–and they’re barely paved now. He’s not happy with how many lots have been sold. One has to wonder if it will become another suburban development someday as humans bombard nature and encroach on all the wildlife. Many of the people buying these lots are building second homes- I imagine to escape other people. There apparently is no escape. Where people go- others follow.
Another day of pouring rain but I can’t complain because we just had several gorgeous weather days. Yesterday we took a day trip into Cooperstown and it was gorgeous. The Leatherstocking area of Central NY is breathtaking with rolling green pastures littered here and there with cows, goats, horses and sheep. I had been to Cooperstown a few years ago with my closest, nearest and dearest childhood friend, Debbi. We travel to a different B&B location every year for our birthdays- usually around early May. When we were in Cooperstown, we had a wonderful meal at the Otseago Resort Hotel. Adjacent to the hotel is the Leatherstocking Public Golf Course which is one of the most picturesque courses I have seen. I wanted John to see it and thought we could play nine holes. Unfortunately, it was just too expensive and there was a tournament going on anyway. It would have cost over $100 each to golf there. We did get to take some photos of the course and we enjoyed a nice lunch at the teeny weeny Cooperstown diner.
On the way back to our campsite, we hit a detour and ended up passing another golf course in the middle of a wide expanse of farmland….the Meadow Links Golf Course in Richfield Springs, NY. We were able to play 9 holes of par 3 golf for only $10.00….our very first golf excursion on our RV adventure.
Today is a quiet day of hibernation from the cold rain. It is lovely listening to the rain bounce off our fiberglass castle. Unfortunately, I do have to walk through several mud puddles to collect my laundry and we also have another trip to Walmart scheduled. I am so sick of Walmart though they do have surprisingly delicious potato salad.
Moreau Lake State Park, Gansevoort, NY
We have landed at Moreau Lake State Park. It’s actually not terribly far from our last stop but it still took us several hours to get here yesterday. It’s a lovely wooded area but the spots are really designed for smaller rigs- up to 30′. John is very ambitious and adventurous so he was inclined to just go for it and back into one of the spots, God bless’m. I was ready to throw up my hands and run for the nearest regular campground. As he was attempting to maneuver his very large round peg into a smaller square hole with me helping (UGH), we both lost sight of a skinny little tree off to his right side- BOOM. We have our very first battle scar on our beautiful Silverado truck. Just a couple of scrapes and a minor dent. The tree suffered no damage.
We did finally get the RV in place and unhitched and then discovered that we only had 1/3 full on our fresh water tank. We also had limited juice on our battery and there are no “hook ups” here. It is kind of fun, though- more like a “real” camping experience. We will have to be very careful with our water usage and we have been using lanterns for light. We will be here for 3 days so it should get very interesting.
Yesterday, we spent the entire day shopping for a generator because it became very apparent that we could not effectively live without one while without shore power. It took all day, lots of research and driving to various stores before we decided on the Predator 3500 from Harbor Freight Tools. We chose it based on its size, quietness and price compared to the Honda (which is the gold standard). There are only a few hours during the day that campers are permitted to run generators: 9am-11am and 5pm-10pm. We arrived home around 6 or so and took the dog on a short hike before setting up the generator. It also took some time to figure out how to get the gas out of the gas can without spilling it all over the place (It had a strange childproof spout).
In the meantime, our fresh water and battery power was running very low and I still had dinner to cook and dishes to wash. It was growing darker and the temperature was dropping rapidly. Time was running out to get everything charged up but we were finally ready to turn on that baby at around 8:30pm or so. — Unfortunately, she just wouldn’t start. We ate our dinner and tried again around 9:00….still wouldn’t start. At the same time, our battery power was cutting out which is easy to notice as the CO 2 detector starts to scream at you every 30 seconds or so. We had to disconnect the battery power completely to stop it.
So, ultimately, we went from roasting in a house with broken AC one short month ago to freezing in a trailer with no power, including no heat. It was 41 degrees up here last night. This is when our RV really begins to feel like a tent with hard sides, as John likes to joke.
There is a happy ending. This morning, in the light of day, during our wonderful 9am to 11am generator period, John got it started and we were back in business. It could run the entire RV on its own. I was even able to make a pot of coffee and siphon some fresh water into the tank. The simple joys in life- lights, heat, running water and coffee.
KOA Quechee/Pine Valley, White River Junction, VT
Every day is a new adventure, especially every “moving day”. Every time we leave a campsite and start out for another trip, it feels equivalent (almost) to moving out of a home. There are so many steps to take- securing everything inside the RV, hitching up to the truck, cleaning the campsite and now, with the addition of a large 100 lb generator, finding a secure place to store it while traveling. John thought we could store it in the bed of the truck next to the hitch (covered with a BBQ grill cover), but we discovered that the fifth wheel could just hit it. It was 1″ too high to clear the RV kingpin in a tight turn. Off the truck it went and into our bathroom. Unfortunately, it rolled a lot on the bathroom floor and leaked some oil, so that wasn’t a good solution either. John had a MacGyver moment (as he often does) and he concocted a contraption. We put the bathroom mat down, then wrapped our stepladder in a folded up heavy duty tarp and placed it on the bath mat. Then we placed the generator (let me remind you that it weighs 100lbs) on top of the tarp so that the wheels were positioned on the side on the ladder like rail tracks. We tied it all up with bow, covered it and placed couch pillows around it. WaLa! It was perfect.
So- check out from Moreau Lake State Park was at 11:00am and we woke up at 8am to be ready in time. We finally pulled out of our spot at 12:30pm. Not bad, considering the generator debacle. On the road to Vermont. We called two campgrounds that looked appealing. Both could accommodate us for 3 days but were fully booked for Columbus Day weekend. We completely forgot that it was a holiday weekend during leaf peeping season and we didn’t make any advance reservations. This is going to be interesting. At least we had options for the next three days.
We decided to try the more expensive KOA campground up near Quechee Gorge because it is such a beautiful area. The route to this campground from Moreau State Park was a bit challenging with numerous country roads winding through lush Vermont farmland and foothills. At one point, we took the wrong fork in the road and realized that there is no way to correct a wrong turn when schlepping a large fifth wheel on your ass. On a two lane winding road surrounded by farmland, there is no place to turn that sucker around, so we kept going. That wrong turn along with several lengthy stops turned our relatively short trip into a 4 hour journey but we made it to the KOA with water and electric hookups. YEAH!
We ventured out to White River Junction, Vermont to grab dinner at Big Fatties BBQ which was outrageous. Pulled pork, slaw and collard greens were just what the doctor ordered. When we pulled back into our site, there were two young Asian women in the site across from us conferring with each other around their fire ring. They approached us to ask (with limited command of English) if we could help them build a fire. John was very happy to help with his brand new hand axe and he went on over to assist. I joined him a little while later and he was clearly having such a wonderful time. These young ladies were somewhere in their 20’s or 30’s and they came from China, rented a mid-sized Class C RV in NYC. They have been traveling around Canada and the northeast for the last 2 weeks. They even drove the Class C into cities like Montreal and parked in the city. I don’t think I would have ever been brave enough to do that, even in my 20’s. I’m barely brave enough to be doing what I’m doing now.
They offered us beer, which John happily accepted and we had a lovely little party. I had just been thinking that it has been a bit weird that we hadn’t really interacted much with other campers since our time in Indiana.
The girl’s names are Rebecca and Betty, though I imagine those are their chosen Americanized names. They spoke English but not very well and they were so lovely and friendly and so excited about the fabulous fire that John build for them. I believe they said they were from Southeast China but I couldn’t make out the name of the city. They have been staying at each campground for only one night with no prior reservations. Oh to be young again.
One full day of fun in Quechee and Woodstock, VT, in between more rain storms yesterday and predicted showers tomorrow when we move on to our next destination in New Hampshire. We were finally able to find one place with a spot left for us on Columbus Day weekend.
Today we hiked the Faulkner Trail on Mount Tom in Woodstock, Vermont. It was stunning and not too difficult. The last 100 yards or so were a little trickier- steep and rocky but not too bad. Once at the summit, the views were spectacular. You could see the entire village of Woodstock with the beautiful pastures and hills surrounding it. The trail down was a bit more treacherous as we chose the Precipice Trail. It was quite apparent why it was given that name.
The early part of the trail down was quite challenging, especially after the heavy rain from yesterday. We survived the narrow, slippery, rocky, windy hike down and enjoyed lunch at the farmer’s market in the village green.
We explored the town of Woodstock and drove to Simon Pierce in Quechee to view the incredible scenery and glassblowing. Finally, our day ended at Quechee gorge- the Grand Canyon of Vermont. I can get used to this, for sure.
Quichee Gorge and VT countryside. – not yet full Autumn
Saddleback Campground, Northwood, NH
Moving day is here again and we’re off to New Hampshire to a little town called Northwood and a campground called Saddleback. We arrived in record time for us because it was such an easy trip this time. It was basically all interstate driving. We have a lovely spot that is usually occupied by a Class A for the season but they are away for two weeks. We can use their screened in picnic area with little white xmas lights strategically placed along the seams. It’s so pretty.
The campground is managed by a very sweet guy named Carl and the vibe is very laid back.
Since our policy is to eat dinner out on moving day, we ate at a local tavern called Cooper Hill Pizzeria and Sports Bar. This is New England Patriot’s country and the Patriot’s happen to be playing Thursday night football against the Colts. Despite the fact that the place was loaded with Patriot’s fans, they closed promptly at 9pm and asked everyone to wrap up and finish so that they could shut down. I can’t imagine that ever going well in a New York sports bar.
It’s a gorgeous, sunny, brisk fall day in New Hampshire. Nothing like coffee and french toast with real Vermont maple syrup (purchased at Jake’s Market in Quechee, Vermont). We are just relaxing for the most part though there seems to always be more shopping that needs to be done, especially when there is a Walmart in every town and a Camping World a few towns over.
We had our second golf excursion- a twilight round at Nippo Lake Golf and Country Club in Barrington, NH. It was an absolutely perfect late afternoon for golf and the scenery was what you would expect from New Hampshire in October. The leaves are just about at their peak and the weather is perfect for early autumn.
Golf course in NH
New Hampshire has been a place to just slow down and hang out…just what we needed. It’s time to plan the next leg of our journey but first we need to plan for our 35th wedding anniversary on the 8th.
Our anniversary is actually tomorrow but we are going to have our anniversary dinner out tonight. First a hike. We are going to try to hike at least once in each location we stop at and also play a little golf at each place, if possible. Today we hiked the Woronoco trail at Pawtuckaway State Park. As soon as we arrived at the park, it started raining which cut our hike off a bit but we still managed to enjoy a lovely pine forest hike for around an hour and a half followed by dinner at one of the only restaurants in Northwood, NH- Johnson’s Steak and Seafood.
A little more information about our experience at Saddleback as we begin our next short trip to the Riverside Campground in Wells, Maine. Even though there wasn’t that much happening in this part of New Hampshire, this was still a very enjoyable and interesting experience. When we first arrived here, the first person we met was a woman named Pam walking three dogs. At first, I thought she was a teenager, but when I got closer, I realized that she was probably in her 40’s. She was very friendly and clearly a dog lover. Two of the dogs were hers and the other dog belonged to the owner of the campground, Carl. Pam and Carl were two of the most interesting aspects of the NH experience.
Pam apparently has spent the last 2 summers at Saddleback. She had a grandmorther who lived around the area and she apparently suffered a fatal fall this summer. Pam also originally had three dogs and one passed away at Saddleback on July 4th. Her current dogs are Rubicon and Sierra and they both got along well with Baker, as did Carl’s dog, Copper. Copper is a puggle (pug and beagle mix). The amazing thing about Pam is that she owns a gigantic toy hauler trailer (at least 40′ long) and a big powerful dually truck. She hitches, unhitches and hauls that thing all by herself. It’s amazing to me. She left on Sunday and we were in awe of how she managed everything. She was heading down to Alabama for the rest of the year to live near her boyfriend.
Carl is a super sweet teddy bear of a guy. He and his husband, Skip own a couple of houses and the campground. Carl is very friendly and laid back and a man of many talents. Not only does he run the campground, but he also flies planes and is renovating a home right next door to Saddleback. His husband, Skip is a pharmacist and they have three teenaged children (although he doesn’t look old enough to have kids in that age group). Carl sees his campground tenants as family and makes you feel very welcome. Everything works on the honor system. If you do your laundry, he trusts you to put the money in the box…same with the ice and firewood. All proceeds are then donated to Make-A-Wish.
On to Wells, Maine where we will be staying for 6 whole days. The reviews from this place were not great, so I’m a bit concerned but most of the other campgrounds were already closed for the season.
Riverside Campground, Wells, Maine
Riverside Campground is actually very nice. It’s in a great location, close to Ogunquit to the south and Kennebunkport to the north. We have a great spot, particularly because it’s off season. I can see that the sites would be too close and lack privacy if it was the height of the season.
We arrived on the 9th and met our neighbors, in a small travel trailer. They are a very friendly couple from Charlton, Mass- Don and Ann. They have a very large, furry 10 year old husky named Cody. We had a lovely time with them by our campfire and learned that they just had an anniversary. It turns out that they were married on the exact same day as us and had their first two children in the same years- 1985 and 1986. We both just celebrated our 35th anniversary in New Hampshire. Then Don mentioned that he is a CIA trained chef who was in the first graduating class in the Hyde Park location. Such a small world.
Back to Wells, Maine. Yesterday, the temperature rose to 87 degrees, the skies were crystal clear and it was a glorious day. We explored Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, Ogunquit Beach and Wells Beach.
The beaches were absolutely stunning and we were allowed to bring Baker onto Wells Beach where he had the time of his life chasing the birds. He chased a group of ducks, waddling in a pool of water and didn’t realize how deep it was so he inadvertently went for a swim.
Today the temperature dropped into the 50’s and it is raining all day. Good day to update this blog and plan the next leg of our adventure. Stay tuned.
Over the last several days, we have seen some spectacular scenery including Rachel Carson’s Wildlife Preserve, Prescott Park in Portsmouth, NH, and York Beach in York, Maine. Rather than blog away on all of that, I am going to simply share some glorious photos because a picture is worth a thousand words.