This is very cool. We are staying on a perfect stranger’s property for the next three nights thanks to this fantastic organization called boondocker’s welcome. For a mere $30 per year, you can search hosts with property large enough to accommodate RVs and willing to do so. It’s like an Airbnb for RVs with one gigantic difference. It’s totally free. This lovely home is in Pelham, MA, right near UMass Amherst on lovely, very wooded Butterhill Road. Apparently, there is a ton of wildlife including moose, bear, bobcats, mountain lions and even wolves. We are parked on a perfect concrete slab next to the property owner’s three car garage/barn and he has even provided electric and water. All for free!
According to his profile, he and his wife recently purchased a 35′ Class A and have started travelling a bit with it when they can get away. They aren’t retired yet so they aren’t able to get away all the time. When they are home, he allows folks to camp on this spot. From what I have heard, this is a very popular option that many folks use especially as you head south and west. Since our next stop in NY is a very pricey KOA (the only place available), these 3 free days will help even out our costs. I really I hope I see a moose while I’m here. At least I think that might be fun.
Lovely day here in Central Massachusetts. It’s brisk with a healthy cool breeze. Perfect day for a round of golf. We explored Amherst and Northampton with a stop at “America’s Yarn Store”- Webs.
We also took a stroll through the Botanical Gardens at Smith College. Then 9 holes of golf at Cherry Hill golf course which was very picturesque.
Botanical and Japanese gardens (with St. Francis of Assisi) at Smith College in Amherst MA
Cherry Hill Golf
When we arrived back to our trailer, our host, Chris and his wife Lyn stopped by for a visit. They are such nice people and we had a great conversation. Chris was in construction for many years and build this house and the structure you see next to our rig. He is currently the building commissioner for his town and a part-time police officer. Lyn works in the Bursar’s Office at UMass. She handles some of the non-traditional students so we had a lot to talk about- a lot in common. They invited us (including Baker) to dinner at their house tomorrow. Their generosity is truly amazing.
Boondockers Welcome hosts Chris and Lyn in our RV
Another beautiful sunny day but it is chilly. Perfect day for a hike. After looking up the numerous possibilities in this area, we chose to hike the Mt. Norwottuck trail to the horse caves and back down from the summit on the Robert Frost trail. It was a total of close to 4 miles with the first half completely uphill. It was the most strenuous hike we have taken thus far and a lot of fun. The horse caves are an outcropping of gigantic rocks forming ledges and caves. When we arrived there, the skies opened up and it poured despite the fact that there was no rain in the forecast. Luckily, we were able to stand under the rock ledges until the rain simmered down a bit. We had packed lunch and had a little picnic up on the mountain before the rain came.
In the evening, we had dinner with our hosts in their gorgeous home. They served us lasagna, caesar salad and garlic bread. We had such a nice time with them. The boondocker’s welcome thing is really the best. Hopefully our future experiences with it will be just as pleasant.
Off to the KOA NYC/Newburgh which is not in NYC, nor is it in Newburgh. It is in Plattekill, not far from the last NY campground we stayed in (which is now closed for the season) We will be there for a week, hopefully finishing up our storage consolidation while also visiting our friends in the area.
KOA- New York City/Newburgh, Plattekill, NY
We’ve been so busy visiting with loved ones, I haven’t had a chance to update. This KOA NYC/Newburgh campsite has certainly offered us a very different perspective of the camping lifestyle. Similar to Jellystone in the resort atmosphere but much more raucous. During the week it’s nice and quiet and even eerily empty. On the weekend, all hell breaks loose and it is transformed into a massive tailgate party. This past “holiday” weekend (note the date 10/20 and 10/21- the milking of Halloween) was insane.
There were cars and trucks lined up all over the place in no particular order. There were throngs of children riding go carts, electric cars, bicycles and scooters. At one point, Baker started barking at a 6 foot tall orange kangaroo walking by the campsite (one of many Halloween costumes). The adults gathered together around a massive campfire and played country music while getting increasingly intoxicated. Luckily, it started pouring at around 10:45pm on Saturday night, which quieted the revelers somewhat.
Despite the noise and raucous atmosphere, its been great to be back in NY. John was able to go to Long Island to see his buddies, while my LI buds came to me and got a taste of camping life.
Debbi came on Saturday and we continued our annual tradition of hunting for yarn at the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival.
Debbi braving the top bunk with Baker on guard
On Sunday, my dear friend Patty came for an overnight visit and we hiked around Lake Minnewaska, followed by lunch at the Gilded Otter in New Paltz. Of course, both Debbi and Patty enjoyed the camping experience of a nightly campfire and BBQ.
Strolling around Lake Minnewaska and Patty by the campfire
Today I visited my friends at Marist College including the talented young woman who has stepped into my role as assistant dean. You’re going to do a great job, Dede : ). Marist will always be near and dear to my heart.
While all this was going on, John was also working diligently on consolidating our storage units. He did find time to have a get-together jam with his pals ‘Crazy Feet’ Pete, Alan – ‘Alien H’ , and ‘yeah man’ Dave.
This evening, we went to Mahoney’s for the Poughkeepsie Jazz Project’s weekly jazz jam – cofounded over 6 years ago by John, Ben, & Kesai and now an institution – still run by Ben Basile. There were so many wonderful, talented artists there including Audrey and Neil- members with John of the band ‘mondoRAJ’. Our friends (and now ex-neighbors) Anne and Hank were also there and we had a terrific time.
This was a very productive day. We woke up early, went to storage unit #1 and piled a ton of junk into the truck bed for a dump run. John dropped me off at my wonderful hair dresser’s salon (LaTanya Salon in Poughkeepsie- I highly recommend Jenn) Love you Jenn. While John was unloading our stuff a the dump, Jenn was working her magic.
We returned to the storage unit and ridded ourselves of one of our large units. That is a huge milestone. Tomorrow we begin our trip southward. Southward ho.
10/25/18 – Southward Ho
An exhausting day of travel. I don’t do any of the driving, yet I feel completely drained at the conclusion of our “moving day”. We traveled 300 miles today from Plattekill to West Virginia with a lovely stop in New Jersey to have lunch with our cousin Geoffrey.
We made a second stop in PA at Cabela’s in Hamburg PA where they allow overnight parking for RVs. We considered staying the night but decided to bite the bullet and drive the remaining 2 hours and 6 minutes to Falling Waters, West Virginia.
some of Cabela’s dioramas including a coyote that looks like Baker
Cabela’s is a great stop though. They are very RV friendly. They have designated spots in their ginormous parking lot to accommodate RVs of all sizes. They even have dog kennels and horse corrals to park your animals while you shop and the store is amazing.
Falling Waters, WV
We arrived at the campsite after dark, after hours and had to wait for one of the employees to come and let us in. He briefly described where our spot was located and said that it was a breeze to get into the supposed “pull thru” site. There is absolutely no way anyone could pull through this spot. Luckily our West Virginia neighbors Mark and CJ (and his golden retriever puppy Layla) helped us maneuver into the spot without hitting the trees or falling into the creek. Maybe that’s why it’s called Falling Waters.
Now it’s midnight and there is a horrific screeching noise approaching and finally arriving right outside our door. A class A (bus) RV has just pulled in across from us. The RV has been towing a car on a trailer that is completely missing one tire, with the tow plate scraping along ground – hence the horrific noise. It sounds like Jacob Marley on steroids. Yikes….and to top it all off, I went to brush my teeth- NO WATER. The water spigot isn’t working. Thank goodness we have 1/3 full fresh water tank. Tomorrow is a new day.
Yes, it is a new day, but Falling Waters really doesn’t look too much better in the daylight. It is a little more like living in a dirt parking lot than a campground. There are gigantic, round, hard balls in the trees that occasionally crash down onto the RV scaring the living beejesus (sp?) out of me. On a positive note, we are fairly close to my niece Becky’s lovely home in Keedysville, Maryland.
We had a phenomenal dinner at Becky’s house with the whole family.
Our niece Becky and her husband Michael and their two adorable children- Georgia and Ailish
My sister -in-law Cathi and brother-in-law Joe
Mike’s mom, Patricia (from Mississippi)
Joe’s brother John from Maine
Mike and his mom, Patricia whipped up an amazing spread including a moose roast. I actually ate moose and loved it. They also served homemade dumplings, apple pie and other delights.
We returned to our campground and decided that it was just too depressing to stay there so we reserved a different campground in Clarksburg, MD called Little Bennett which is part of the Montgomery County park system. It poured heavily all night and Falling Waters truly lived up to its name.
Little Bennett Campground, Clarksburg, MD
We moved on to Little Bennett Campground which is beautiful, despite the pouring rain. It is reminiscent of our experience at Moreau Lake State Park only with full hookups. The atmosphere is the complete opposite of Falling Waters.
Once we settled in, we headed over to George Washington’s estate in Mount Vernon, VA for trick or treating with the family. Little Georgia transformed into Uma (from Disney’s Descendents) and little Ailish dressed as an owl- the cutest owl ever. We also toured the Washington home and estate, including the slave’s quarters. Very interesting.
Took a drive over to Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia where the Shenandoah intersects with the Potomac River. We walked down to the Lower Historic Village which is part of the National Park. It is set up to look like it did back in the 1800’s when George Washington chose the town to be the site of the national armory.
One hundred and fifty nine years ago, in October 1859, John Brown led a group of abolitionists on a mission to seize the armory and free the slaves. His mission ended with his capture and execution but he brought the injustices of slavery to the forefront, eventually leading to the Civil War.
In addition to the historical significance, it is an exquisite place. Our nephew, Mike noted that Harper’s Ferry is where Lewis and Clark began their journey westward to find the Northwest Passage. It is also the mid point of the Appalachian Trail which runs from Georgia to Northern Maine.
In the evening, we joined our family for dinner at the Canal House Cafe, a new farm to table restaurant in Harper’s Ferry. I promise that I receive no advertising dollars for this— if you visit Harper’s Ferry, please stop in for a meal at this wonderful place. They make you feel like you are having a family dinner at your favorite relative’s house and the food was excellent too.