Category Archives: RV Trips

New England RV Trip 2015

We left for our tour of New England with no travel itinerary. We chose to follow our whims as we went. I highly recommend this approach to RV travel “off season”. Up to Columbus day, we had no trouble finding open campgrounds with available campsites. In fact the campgrounds were practically empty, with some notable exceptions: Normandy Farms Foxboro discounts Columbus day and was booked the weekend we left, the Keene Pumpkin Festival moved to Laconia and campgrounds fill for the festival. On a day we relocated, we would look for campgrounds in the area we expected to stay and called ahead. We had no problem finding a number of possible campsites. All this changed after Columbus day. In New England, Columbus Day marks the end of “the season”. Though some campgrounds close Sept 15th, most close after October 15th and practically all are closed by November 1. We had some trouble finding campsites after November 1. Things close earlier in Maine where we boondocked two days in mid-October.

By having no plans, we could stay as long or as short as we liked. We enjoyed visiting family and friends where we stayed a few days. We used Foxboro Ma as base camp for exploring Boston, Concord, Lexington, Arlington, and Cambridge in a rentall car and Mountain View Campground in Morrisville Vt to explore Stowe. We were not sure how we would do on an extended RV trip. Before we left, friends would ask, “How long will you be gone?” I’d answer, “six to eight weeks” to which Ellen would retort, “we’ll see, four weeks maybe six”. We both agreed as we buzzed home driving 500+ days that we could have been on the road another month. There were so many places we skipped with “limited time”. If we had it to do over, we would have left mid-August. It is great having tourist destinations almost to yourself, as we did on Cape Cod or in Maine. The down side? Practically no shops are open. Those that are open display a huge 10 foot flag stating “OPEN” in huge letters. So much of the charm of small towns on the cape are the people and the seasonal food. Both become scarce off season.

We skipped visiting Yellow Springs and Write Patterson in Ohio, spending more time on The Cape, exploring Moosehead Lake and northern Maine, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, Gloucester, and Salem. We drove past a great number of those brown signs marking points of interest. We simply did not have the time to do “everything”. There were a number of museums we drove past.

We also had three system failures on our trip: 1. hot water running cold with the water heater working fine, 2. central locking crapped out, 3. the refrigerator refused to run on 12 volts. We also had the engine start hard and run very rough with the inverter on. Restarting with the inverter off solved that “problem”. The hot water issue was caused when a campground ran high pressure air thorugh their lines to clear them ahead of a freeze. We were attached. The pressure forced the check valve into the sleeve effectively blocking hot water flow. The check valve is $9 part at camping world. Central Locking and the Fridge are yet to be fixed.

We had a phenominal trip, made more memorable by our daily log. We revisit the blog to relive our trip.

Here is our timeline. I’d say “itinerary”, but that suggests pre-planning, something we assiduously avoided. We had a want list including Stowe, the White Mountains, Cog Railway, Franconia Notch, Smuggler’s Notch, Conway, Hampton and Rye Beach, Martha’s Vineyard, Boston, Arlington and surrounds, the North Shore, Zip Lines, a moose tour, New York City, Long Island, Mystic Ri, Groton, Crowly RV, the Inner Harbor Baltimore, Washington DC; some we skipped, others we did.

 

9/16/2015 Truckee Ca Coachland RV 10873
9/17/2015 Austin, Nv Pony Express RV Park 11083
9/18/2015 Salina, Ut Butch Cassidy RV Park 11452 Cindy recommended Pony Espresso Deli Eureka Nv
9/19/2015 Parachute, Co Battlement Mesa RV Park 11718 Duayne @ Ace; Jenny @ campground; Green River State Park
9/20/2015 Woodland, Co Diamond Campground 11955 Vail; Breckenridge; past Cripple Creek; John and Rona
9/21/2015 Woodland, Co Woodland RV Park & Campground 11958 Visit with Rich, Alea,
9/22/2015 Woodland, Co Woodland RV Park & Campground 11958
9/23/2015 Woodland, Co Woodland RV Park & Campground 11958
9/24/2015 Oakley, Ks High Plains RV Campground 12218 Capt’n Jack’s Pub, Kobe Beef, Crab Cakes, great showers
9/25/2015 Danville, Mo Lazy Day Campground 12743 Lazy Day great campground. Skipped Chrystler Museum, Oz museum, Totoz Taco, Dinosaur Museum
9/26/2015 Mansfield, Oh Walmart Boondock 13298 Skipped Yellow Springs, Dayton Museum, Cincinnati
9/27/2015 Grand Island, Ny Cinderella Motel and Campsite 13598 Niagara Falls
9/28/2015 Syracuse, Ny Visiting Carol, Paul, Dylan, and Jameson 13688 Empire Brewing
9/29/2015 Syracuse, Ny Visiting Carol, Paul, Dylan, and Jameson
9/30/2015 Syracuse, Ny Visiting Carol, Paul, Dylan, and Jameson
10/1/2015 Syracuse, Ny Visiting Carol, Paul, Dylan, and Jameson
10/2/2015 Tivoli, Ny Visiting David,, Chris, Danny, & Erica 13966
10/3/2015 Tivoli, Ny Visiting David,, Chris, Danny, & Erica
10/4/2015 Tivoli, Ny Visiting David,, Chris, Danny, & Erica
10/5/2015 Tivoli, Ny Visiting David,, Chris, Danny, & Erica
10/6/2015 Fort Ann, Ny Moose Hillock Camping Resort 14114 Near Lake George, Adirondack outlet mall most extensive for miles
10/7/2015 Ticonderoga, Ny Brookwood RV Resort 14172 Lake George
10/8/2015 Lake Placid, Ny Cascade Acres Campground 14246 Fort Ticonderoga in the afternoon, Ellen:”There is literally no other RV @camp tonight”
10/9/2015 Winooski Vt North Beach Campground 14342 Mirror lake & Lake Placid in the morning, Ferry to Burlington VT, North Beach is right on the lake.
10/10/2015 Morrisville, Vt Mountain View Campground 14395 Near Stowe Vermont
10/11/2015 Morrisville, Vt Mountain View Campground
10/12/2015 Morrisville, Vt Mountain View Campground
10/13/2015 St Johnsbury, Vt Moose River Campground closed the campground
10/14/2015 Littleton, Nh Crazy Horse Campground 14708 closed the campground, search for Cherry Lake a bust.
10/15/2015 Lincoln, Nh Country Bumpkin Campground White mountains, cog railway, smuggler’s notch, the Flume
10/16/2015 Lincoln, Nh Country Bumpkin Campground Closed the campground
10/17/2015 Woodbury, Nh KOA Woodbury Nh Closed the campground, expensive but very nice campground, drove the Kancamangas Highway
10/18/2015 North Conway, Nh Eastern Slope Campground 14918 No hot water in the AM (they blew out their lines)
10/19/2015 Portland Me Elks Lodge, electric hookup ate at Bea’s Café recommended by gal at camping world, purchased check valve
10/20/2015 Portland Me Walmart Boondock drove Old Orchard Beach & north along the coast. Gave up install of check valve
10/21/2015 Meredith, Nh Meredith Woods Campground 15220 Beast serviced @ Prime Motors Portland Me, Indoor heated pool, Full resort style glamping
10/22/2015 Meredith, Nh Meredith Woods Campground
10/23/2015 Meredith, Nh Meredith Woods Campground 15310 James ordered an electronic switch to fix our hot water problem, Part & Jim never arrived, left late afternoon
10/24/2015 Shelburne Falls, Ma Country Aire Bridge of Flowers, pedestrian bridge Brookline, NH; West End Café; The Best Pizza in New England
10/25/2015 Shelburne Falls, Ma Country Aire
10/26/2015 Hatfield, Ma Ed & Jean Parked The Beast and stayed with Ed and Jean for five days!
10/27/2015 Hatfield, Ma Ed & Jean
10/28/2015 Hatfield, Ma Ed & Jean
10/29/2015 Hatfield, Ma Ed & Jean
10/30/2015 Hatfield, Ma Ed & Jean
10/31/2015 Hatfield, Ma Ed & Jean
11/1/2015 Bourne, Ma Scusset Beach State Park Campground Closed the Campground, Marconi Station & White Cedar Swamp
11/2/2015 Foxboro, Ma Normandy Farms Family Campground Resort
11/3/2015 Foxboro, Ma Normandy Farms Family Campground Resort Enterprise Rental and trips to Boston, Concord, Lexington, Arlington, and Cambridge
11/4/2015 Foxboro, Ma Normandy Farms Family Campground Resort
11/5/2015 Foxboro, Ma Normandy Farms Family Campground Resort Brad’s RV Service fixed our hot water problem
11/6/2015 Foxboro, Ma Normandy Farms Family Campground Resort
11/7/2015 North Stonington, Ct Mystic KOA Campground Mysic Ct, Mystic Old Town, Mystic Seaport
11/8/2015 North Stonington, Ct Mystic KOA Campground steamers on the half shell (errr)
11/9/2015 Clarksboro, Nj Timberline Campground Ferry Monmouth-NYC financial district, world trade center, central locking fail
11/10/2015 Dumfries, Va Prince William Forest RV Campground 16487 Fort Mercer & Valley Forge
11/11/2015 Hilton Head, SC Jessie & Ryan 17016 Savannah, fishing, oyster toad fish,
11/12/2015 Hilton Head, SC Jessie & Ryan
11/13/2015 Hilton Head, SC Jessie & Ryan
11/14/2015 Moton, Ms Roosevelt State Park 17609 surprisingly, we stumbled upon Roosevelt State Park, on of our favorites from our first X-country trip!
11/15/2015 Vidalia, La River View RV Park & Resort 17795 Natchez Trace, Nathez, camping on the Mississippi
11/16/2015 Abilene, Tx Buck Creek RV Park 18353 Tornado watch, high wind, rain, hail, stopped at Buck Eez bbq brisket was forgetable
11/17/2015 Alberquerque, Nm High Desert RV Park 18873 Billy the Kid’s grave, heavy X-winds, Trouble with fridge not running on 12 volts.
11/18/2015 Kingman, Az Sunrise RV Park 19357 warming as we drove through Arizona, T-shirt weather @ petrified forest & painted desert
11/19/2015 home 19999 Total of 9,126 miles driven 66 days on the road.

Natchez Mississippi

Roosevelt State Park Campground

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Our Favorite Campsite

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The Next Campsite Down the Lake

Leaving Jessie, Ryan, and Hilton Head, we headed west toward home.  Our GPS wanted to route us through Atlanta, something we chose not to do.  Instead we I-95 to I-85 to I-20 going through Columbus, Tuskegee, Montgomery, Selma, Meridian, and Jackson.  It was a long haul day driving through Georgia, Louisiana, and into Mississippi .  We need to be home by the 21st to host a family get-together.  Ellen would prefer to arrive home on the 19th.

As we pushed on, it became clear fatigue would set in before we reached Jackson.  Ellen found a campsite east of Jackson, Roosevelt State Park. I remembered Roosevelt Park from our inaugural trip driving The Beast back from Crowley RV in Bristol Connecticut.  No, it could not be the same park, could it? As we turned off I-20 and a bit later turned left into the park, I was sure it was the same campground.

On that trip home from Connecticut there were two outstanding campsites, Oak Hollow in Georgia  and Roosevelt State Park, Mississippi.  Our favorite campsite is #87 with its stairs down to the picnic table and a campsite dock on the lake.  #87 was taken.  We slipped into #88 right beside 87 and on the lake.  It was amazing that we happened to find this park and campsite without making it a point to do so.

Roosevelt State Park was much busier in November than it had been last February.  We arrived well after the office had closed, but made it a point to swing by the office in the morning to pay for our campsite.  I enjoy supporting state parks and in this case one of our favorite stops.

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Roosevelt State Park Guest

Natchez Trace Parkway

Just past Jackson in the town of Clinton, we turned south onto Natchez Trace Parkway.  The Natchez Trace is a historic forest trail that runs from Nashville Tennessee to Natchez Mississippi. Today the trace between Jackson and Natchez is a two lane road through remote sections of Mississippi. It is also one of the best maintained roads I’ve driven.  It winds through swamp land and forest then into vividly green pastures and farm land.. We saw very few cars on our drive south.

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We did see a Coyote.

Natchez trace figures prominently in the Civil War. Ulysses Grant used the trace in his march north to Jackson and Vicksburg.  Though Sherman is better known for his scorched earth policy, it was Grant who developed the policy.  Interestingly he and 17,000 troops stayed in Port Gibson and at the Windsor Mansion.  Grant spared the town and the Windsor Mansion saying, “It is to beautiful to burn”, or so the legend goes.  The Windsor Mansion survived the civil war only to burn to the ground.  A careless smoker destroyed one of the most beautiful mansions in the south.

The Windsor ruins are about ten miles west of Natchez Trace.   All that remain are the massive columns that supported an above ground basement and two floors.  The ruins are roped off with warning signs stating that the ruins are unstable.  There is a path around the ruins that we walked.  We both gingerly stepped over the ropes and walked the ruins.   The columns were made of brick, plastered over and had iron Corinthian capstones.

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With the afternoon waning, we took highway 61 south to Natchez.  The trace is beautiful, highway 61 is fast.  The sun was low in the sky as we drove through Natchez.  Ellen suggested visiting the welcome center.  We could learn about the town and get a feel for what we want to do with our afternoon.  There are signs posted leading to the welcome center which is on the south side of town near the Natchez-Vidalia bridge.  It is not your typical tourist information kiosk; it is a huge building.  With limited time, we hardly noticed the interior of the building, focusing our attention on the attendants at desks behind two windows.  One asked if she could help us.  We asked for a map of Natchez and her recommendations for what to see or do with limited time.

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Natchez Welcome Center

 

During the steamboat era more than half of the millionaires in the United States lived in Natchez.  Natchez supported the Union in the civil war and was spared destruction, unlike so many other cities and towns that Grant and Sherman marched through.

Tours of the mansions is a highlight of any visit to Natchez. On a Sunday  only a handful of tours are open.  We only had time for two half hour tours leaving a half hour to get to the first and a half hour between the two.  There was a full hour tour at another that we simply did not have time for. We chose two: Longwood, an unfinished mansion, and Stanton Hall located on a full city block.  we purchased tickets and took a map of the Natchez mansions with us as we went off to find Longwood.  Just before we left, I asked where we could get a bit to eat.  The Camp Restaurant and Magnolia Grill both at the waterfront were recommenced.  Ellen asked if there was an RV park close by. Yes, there was one just across the bridge in Louisiana that is right on the river.

We had no problem finding Longwood and stopped at the gate office.  “Yes, we are here for a tour and we have tickets”  There was a concert starting as we arrived.  We were directed to “RV Parking” at the back.  We walked back to the gift shop to start our tour along with a few dozen couples headed to the concert lawn chairs.   The band was playing and they were good!

Longwood Plantation (AKA Nutt’s Folly)

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Beautiful and Expansive Exterior

On our tour of Longwood Mansion, our guide stated that Adams County (Natchez is in Adams County) was pro-abolition and supported the north in the Civil War.  Nonetheless, Natchez surrendered to the Union on two separate occasions: once to the Army and a second time to the Navy.   A tour of Longwood Mansion is not to be missed.   It is an octagonal mansion that was never finished.  Dr Haller Nutt a wealthy cotton grower who specialized in the cultivation and sale of cotton seed, saw plans for a home by architecht Samuel Sloan of Philidelphia.  Sloan had never thought the house would be built, it was a study in what was possible.  Dr. Nutt contacted Sloan and with some changes, work began on the home.  The Civil War interrupted building of the mansion.  The exterior was completed as was the raised basement.  Thinking that the war would last a few months, the family occupied the basement (lower floor).  The war lasted much longer than a few months and tragically work on the mansion stopped with the upper floors unfinished.  A tour of the mansion starts in the lower floor, which is large and its octagonal shape is novel. Walking upstairs to the second floor is jaw-dropping.  The mansion is 30,000 square feet though its full size is not apparent until you walk to the second floor. The structural brick has not been plastered over, no doors are in place, and the sheer size of each floor is apparent.  The brick walls are massive. Five floors were planned with a central room open from the second floor to the roof. To finish Longwood as it had been envisioned when construction started would consume in excess of 35 million dollars today.  Longwood will never be finished.  It was sold to the garden society for $10.00 on the condition that it never be finished and that aside from repairs, it remain in its current state.

 

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Structurally Complete Interior

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Unfinished Interior Second Floor and Up.

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Second Level Floor Plan

The original spire sitting atop the dome fell during a storm.  The Garden Club took molds of the original and created a light weight but strong replacement.  They are maintaining the exterior and addressing structural issues as they arise.

 

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The New Spire

We were very lucky.  Our tour consisted of Ellen, myself, and our tour guide, who has spent many hours researching details of the design and history of both the house and the Nutt family. Our half hour tour consumed over an hour.  The three of us would have continued but for closing time.

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Walking the Grounds

With a one hour tour, the last tour of the day at Stanton Hall had already begun.  We opted to go to the Magnolia Grill.  There was plenty of off-street parking for The Beast.  The restaurant is well located with a view over the Mississippi River, though looking away from sunset.  The fried green tomato appetizer was great.  Our meals were just OK.  (Ellen did love the appetizer; fried green tomatoes with craw fish and shrimp.) With the day gone, we could either drive back to Vicksburg as we had originally planned, or we could stay overnight locally.   If we stay locally,  we could lose a day’s travel time getting home if we explore Natchez.  Ellen called River View RV Park.  They had plenty of spaces available; we stayed locally. We will try to take the Stanton Hall tour in the morning.

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At Riverview Campground

The next morning we didn’t dally.  Rather we went off to Stanton Hall for the first scheduled tour of the morning.  No photography is allowed inside the mansion, though we learned that there are a number of photos and video to be found on the web.  Our tour of Stanton Hall went quickly.  It is a beautiful home with amazing architectural detail in the molding, chandeliers, immense mirrors, medallions, and overall design. Greek-Revival style. The family remained in this residence until 1894 when it became Stanton College for Young Ladies. It was later purchased by Pilgrimage Garden Club in 1938.  For some years it was, a bed and breakfast.

Stanton Hall

Stanton Hall (originally named Belfast) is massive and a treasure, but it does not have the history of Longwood, nor the appeal.

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       Across the Street, a typical Natchez home

Natchez feels like a city that has gone to seed.  Its glory days are long past.  It feels like the residents living there now take their history for granted or could care less.  Not all of them to be sure.  There is a lingering pride in the mansions that are preserved, a number of them are operating B&Bs today.   For all  Natchez’s beauty, and it has that in abundance, it does not feel vibrant.  Rather it feels like the young with aspirations have left for better opportunities; those remaining seem listless.  We will find a way to return to Natchez when we tour the south.  We love the history of the town and its wonderful southern charm.    I hope my first impression of the town is dead wrong;  that Natchez is a vibrant town.  We will look for a B&B when we return.  Stanton Hall was operated as a B&B into the 1990’s!

The music scene at Natchez is alive and well.  There was a concert playing at Longwood when we arrived.  It was the first concert held at the mansion; there may be many more.

We left Natchez for a long drive to Abilene Texas to put a dent in the 1750 miles we have to go.

Jessie and Ryan, Hilton Head SC.

Hilton Head, November 12, 2015

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DeeDee had a family get-together/thanksgiving dinner in up-state New York weeks ago that we were fortunate to attend.  Jessie, DeeDee’s daughter, arrived and we met Ryan, her B-friend that evening.  We promised to visit them on our way back home.  After visiting New York City, Fort Mercer, and Valley Forge, we made a bee-line from Virginia to South Carolina covering 550 miles in a day to get to Hilton Head and Jessie’s house.  We arrived late.  Ellen called Jessie as we pulled up in front and both Jessie and Ryan greeted us.  There was ample parking by the club house/swimming pool.  We dropped “The Beast” off for two days while we had some fun.

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Palmetto Bluff

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The next morning Jessie took us to one her favorite places, Palmetto Bluff.  On the way we drove past a marshy area where Jessie pointed out a few alligators basking in the sun.  I’d think twice before swimming in anything but deep waters here.  Jess said they don’t like salt water.  We had late breakfast at Buffalo’s and walked the shore at Harbor River. Just across the street from Buffalo’s stands a small, charming and understated, waterfront chapel.  Jessie talked about getting married in this chapel someday.  Later she asked at the local bridal shop for details about a wedding at the chapel.  Hummm…

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Jess said every year there’s a big party on a sandbar just offshore.  Boats pull up on the bar and swim and cavort in the water.  I’m thinking, right with alligators.  Jess said they don’t come around here.

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Palmetto Bluff is very beautiful.  There are a few magnolias. It is the oak trees covered with Spanish moss that are so dramatic.    Palmetto is a very affluent community with large tastefully designed homes lining the streets.  With no lack of water, lawns are bright green and extremely well maintained.  Jess mentioned a few celebrities who own homes here.

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Our breakfast was very tasty.  I had a french toast sandwich consisting of two half slices of french toast cut diagonally with a fried egg and lots of naturally smoked bacon inside.  It came with two round hash brown dumplings.  Wonderful.  I shared a taste, and that was all.

 

Savannah, Georgia

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hat afternoon Jessie took us to Savannah.  Hilton Head is right on the boarder with Georgia. We walked riverside along the Savannah River for a while.  This is a tourist shopping area with a variety of restaurants.   Though we were not interested in shopping nor catching a bite, we enjoyed walking the cobblestone streets and esplanade.

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TTourist maps in hand, we headed off to Forsyth Park.  Savannah was the fist planned city in the United States.  Forsyth Park was central to that vision and the older homes around the park show it.  In the past fifty years, the roads around the park have become major thoroughfares complete with tour buses and an irritation to the owners of these gorgeous mansions.

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The three of us walked the park and ogled the mansions.  Seeing a sign for an open house a block off the park, we wandered towards a row of town homes.  A fellow stepped onto the sidewalk and asked if we were interested in viewing one of the units?  “Sure”.  He was a contractor who renovates homes for resale; these four were his latest project.  He had renovated a number of houses on the street.

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This town home is very attractive with modern appliances, twelve foot ceilings, 3 br 2.5 ba and just off the park.  It is a very desirable area, though as we saw walking further down the street, more renovation is necessary.  Some of the houses showed decades of neglect. This home was light and airy and well appointed, though I thought it lacked down stairs spaciousness.

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We met Ryan for dinner and headed out to a local sushi place that was good. Ellen and I had ordered our usual and something new for us,  a “volcano roll”, failing to notice that it was deep fried. It was good, but way over the top.

Fishing Hilton Head,  Friday the 13th

Jessie planned to cut our hair the next morning.  That same morning I decided to “fix” Ellen’s camera. Some of her shots were destroyed by a little blob in the lower right quadrant.  By elimination, I found that it was dust on the sensor and cleaned her sensor.  Right, I used a fabric that left more lint on the sensor than it cleaned off!  Oops.  I shifted to microfiber and at that point her camera popped up with “Camera Error  Turn Off and On to Recover”.  The camera was “hung” and would not turn off!  I re-seated the battery and the camera reset until the next photo when the error popped up again.  Crap, Crap. Crap.  This was not good.  I backed up her camera memory, re-formatted, and tried again.  Crap Crap Crap, same problem.  This was taking some serious time and her camera was still not working!  When in doubt read the manual, or in this case run a Google search.   There are two possible reasons for this problem: 1. the lense in incompatible with the A6000 or 2. something is screwed up.  (right)  If something is screwed up, reset the camera!  Yes, there is a camera reset that clears out a data base and some other stored tables.  After a reset, the camera still failed with “Camera Error Turn Off and On to Recover”.  This time turning the camera off and on cleared the error (probably by reading the newly created tables into flash memory).   By now there was no hope to both get haircuts and go fishing.  We skipped the morning haircut and headed off to meet Ryan at the marina.

We parked and walked down a pier.  I though we were looking for Ryan when a boat drove down the pier with Ryan at the forklift controls.  He was bringing his boat to the water!  Into the water went the boat and into the boat we went.  We were off.  There’s nothing I like more than being on the water; this was no exception.  It was a blast.  We rode past a number of beautiful homes on the Harbor River with private hydraulic docks.   It must be nice.

Ryan headed us out to fish at the Carl Bower’s Bridge.  Ryan said that he prefers fishing off shore, but that with the rough waters today, it was better to stay in the channels. No Problem, Ellen and  I would enjoy fishing anywhere.   We stopped up-current from the bridge, dropped anchor up-stream of the pylons, and dropped some chum.   Within ten minutes, Jessie hooked a small sea bass and I landed a redfish.  The next hour went without a solid bite though our bate went missing regularly.  Then Jessie landed another larger sea bass and half an hour later an Oyster toadfish.  The Oyster Toadfish is one fugly fish. Although Ellen did not fish this time she loved being on the water on such a beautiful day. She was behind the scenes photographer.

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We all agreed to head back before sunset and saw a dolphin or two in the distance though none approached the boat.  We saw a seagull land on a pylon and tear pieces off a fish in its talons.  Talons?  It was not a seagull, but an Osprey with a kill.

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We arrived back at the marina with enough time for haircuts ahead of dinner.  We missed the sunset that evening, though dinner at home of baked and grilled fish was wonderful.

Ryan headed off to work early.  We had some time with jessie going over photographs in the morning.  Then Jessie went off to work and Ellen and I left for Natchez Trace and points south.

I was torn.  We could have stayed with Jess another day.  On our first trip driving The Beast back from Crowley RV in Bristol Connecticut, I had wanted to drive some of Natchez Trace and see Natchez.  We could not take the time and the weather was not cooperating on that trip.  I did not want to skip Natchez on this trip.  Then too, Ryan and Jess had to work today.  Off we went toward Mississippi vowing to return on our next trip to the South East next spring?

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Fort Mercer and Valley Ford

Timberline Campground, Clarksboro New Jersey 11.10.15

We arrived very late.  There was a welcome packet taped to the door; Ellen called ahead.  The office here closes at 9 pm.   Our site was right at the entrance and we drove right in.  This is a small campground.  We were lucky to get a site.   We were late getting up and leaving and did not take much time to walk the campground.  We’ve been spoiled by Normandy Farms, few campgrounds will compare.

We spent too much time catching up on our blog and left the campground quite late for our drive to Fort Mercer and Valley Forge.  Further the weather was not cooperating.  It had rained overnight and was windy, overcast, and raining off and on.  At least it was warm.

 

Fort Mercer, New Jersey

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There are very few campgrounds open at this time of year, fewer still anywhere near the site of Fort Mercer.  I first learned of the role Fort Mercer played in the War of Independence through Tara Ross’s daily history lesson on facebook: taraRoss.  Forts Miffin and Mercer effectively blockaded the Delaware River preventing the British from reinforcing Philadelphia and attacking Valley Forge where the Revolutionary Army wintered December 1777 to June 1778.  The two forts prevented what could have been the annihilation of George Washington’s army.

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The Monument to Colonel Christopher Green

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One Very Old Monument, I have not yet deciphered this.

 

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James Whitall House

It was fascinating visiting the site of the Fort Mercer.   Unfortunately the James and Ann Whitall house was closed.  We did find a door open.  Being inquisitive we considered going inside, but thought it best not to.  Moments later, Rachael popped out to say “Hi” and wonder what we were up to.  She was working there.  “There are no tours today and the house is closed to the public, but there are candlelight tours on the weekend if you’ll be around then.”  She was very lucky to have this house and location to work.

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A Tribute to the Revolutionaries Who Fought Here

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Fort Miffin, across the Delaware River, is closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

Some links about Fort Mercer:    Fort Mercer     The Battle of Red Bank

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Valley Forge, U.S. National Park, Pennsylvania

The drive to Valley Forge took us right through Philadelphia.  Driving freeways we did not go through downtown city traffic, but the traffic on the freeway was very bad heading out of the city and worse going in.  It was a significant delay leaving us a little over and hour to tour Valley Forge before the park closed.  Valley Forge is huge.  The is a natural hill flanked by a valley on either side and the Valley Creek River winding alongside..  The stone house, the Issac Potts’ house, that George Washington rented while overwintering is intact and mostly original.  The hall floor has seen so many visitors it has been replaced and the bedrooms are gated off. Pott’s had two houses, the one he rented and his house further down the valley near the site of a mill and forge that were destroyed by a British expeditionary force long before the Continental Army arrived.  The British never threatened the army during the winter, largely due to Forts Mercer and Miffin.

George Washington’s house was open when we arrived, but Pott’s house was closed.  The houses are set in a beautiful valley that must be stunning in early fall.

At the visitor center I asked how many troops wintered here.  A docent said, “between six and ten thousand, but most of them were ill and not fit to fight.  By the end of the winter that number grew to twenty thousand.  George Washington wanted his men housed and established a contest for the fastest and best build cabin for the men. What surprised me, there was an inoculation for small pox that was administered to his men in 1777

ValleyForge

 

The Today Show, 11.11.2015

The “Today Show” features Al Roker on a road trip touring 48 states in a Winnebago View!  I’m watching Al driving his View as I’m writing this.  He’s loving his “Views” as he calls it. There are four people on the tour.  His is not a J model, like ours, and it’s a 2016.  Our View is old now?

 

 

One World Trade Center

  Spontaneity!

So we were headed to Forts Miffin and Mercer and Valley Forge when Ellen, thinking aloud, said, “We should visit the One World Observatory Trade Center and Memorial “.  Clearly we would not drive The Beast through downtown traffic. “OK”, said I, “How should we get there?”   Ellen said, “We don’t have to, but it would be good to take a ferry from New Jersey.”  That sounded great to me, I had no idea how far off path we would go.  It really didn’t matter, the experience of going into New York by boat appealed.

We drove pretty far off path.  The roads grew smaller and more rustic.  For a while we were not sure what we’d find at the end of our GPS fueled trek.  Finally we turned toward the shore and past a huge full parking lot.  We drove the parking lot for a while not finding anything even close to The Beast’s size.  Finally we drove to the ferry terminal that looked deserted!  Oh Oh.   Ellen hopped out to get information and I continued the search.  I found a good  parking spot just outside the main lot on an access road to the state shore that was gated and locked, but with 200 feet of road.  Great.  I parked and phoned Ellen.  She said ferry tickets would go on sale in fifteen minutes, the ferry would depart in forty five.  Awesome!

Ellen here:  While waiting for the ferry we chatted with Anthony, one of the guy’s that worked the ferry, and he suggested we wait for the next ferry 35 minutes later as that one had an open deck better for photos but we decided not to loose the daytime. Tip: A good idea to ask about types of ferries.

Might have saved some time if we were able to catch the Hoboken/NJ Ferry to Manhattan but but I thought it might be more difficult to find parking for an RV.  This side-excursion was last minute. I’m thrilled we took the time to squeeze in this Ferry trip. I do love NYC and we’ll plan a separate trip to visit the city, go to some shows and museums. So much to do…

Monmouth Ferry to New York’s Financial District

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Ellen’s Shots from the Monmouth/Belford Ferry

The ferry stopped at Jersey City then crossed the Hudson to the Financial District.  We asked RIchard, a ticket sales guy, how to get to the World Trade Center.  He actually left the ticket booth and walked outside to show us the way. We were literally one city block from One World Trade Center.  Richard said, “I can’t take you there, but you walk one block down there (pointing), cross the highway, and you’ll be right there.”   What a great attitude he has.

One World Observatory

We took the elevator the 200 stories to the amazing view of the city below.  It was the most surreal experience of our trip.  Beautiful, awe inspiring, and too crowded all at once.

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Happy Wife

We both agreed that we’ll return to New York and take a week to explore the city and see some shows. Ellen also wants to visit the 9/11 Museum next time.

 

At the Reflecting Pool, World Trade Center Memorial

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Ellen here: The Memorial is beautifully designed and quite breathtaking!  For obvious reasons this memorial brought tears to my eyes. We stood for a time taking in its beauty and symbolism.

Mystic, Connecticut

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Not Just Any Psychic.

Mystic Connecticut 11.08.2015

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Almost out of Town

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Main Street from the Bridge

We left early for Mystic this morning.  The romantic coming of age film “Mystic Pizza” was set in Mystic, though it was filmed in neighboring towns.  The pizza restaurant was filmed in a converted house, not at Mystic Pizza!

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Mystic Pizza

Mystic Pizza, the movie

Heading into town, at a “T” we could go to the Seaport or to Old Town, We chose Old Town and turned north.  We breezed past a general store and had gone in and out of Old Town in a minute!  Old Town is very quaint, but very very small.  With another U-turn, we headed back toward the Seaport a bit disappointed in Old Town.

We passed Mystic Seaport Museum on the right and a huge parking lot on the left and continued south on Greenmanville Ave to Main Street.  Driving down Main Street into town, the famous draw bridge over the Mystic River is unmistakable.  Mystic is a typical New England Coastal Town.  It is beautiful.

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Not Mystic Pizza

Crossing the bridge, we drove up Main Street past a Ice Cream shop on the right, up the hill toward the old church and past Mystic Pizza also on the right.  Even this late in the year Mystic is a busy town.  I cannot imagine how hoards of tourists transform the town during the summer.  There were no parking signs everywhere.  We drove out of town and U-turned again to return.  The best way to get the feel for a town is to drive through slowly.  We were looking for interesting places to visit and a level place to park, I drove down a narrow street along the Mystic River to a dead end and U-turned in a business’ gravel lot.  A workman watched my three point turn in with an amused look.  We found pay-parking a bit further down the road at $1.50 per half hour.  That could add up.  Parking fronted on Main Street and the shops.  I deployed our HD antenna, it locked onto the satellites, and we started recording the JETS game.  Rather than watching the game, hit record.  We shut down all the electronics except the PVR and refrigerator and off we went.

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The Company of Craftsmen

We first walked into The Company of Craftsmen, a typical high-end tourist shop that sells pottery, original art, photos printed on aluminum, and jewelry.  This was not your typical bric-a-brack  The shop was empty but for us, the shopkeeper, and a middle aged couple.  The fellow is a local and knew the shopkeeper; his wife didn’t say anything as she casually explored the art.  The guy and the shopkeeper were in a conversation about the local fishery.  Shopkeep said there were orcas spotted just off the coast here.  That is unusual, he had never seen them this far south in his lifetime.  I said perhaps conservation had let to a resurgence of fish that the orca are following south.

The Fishing Industry, “they went somewhere else”

While the woman continued looking around, her man turned to say, “conservation?  No.  The fishing was great for years until run-off and pesticides did the fish in. They all went somewhere else.”  I agreed that fertilizer and pesticide runoff contribute to the industry problems, but that conservation is necessary too.  This fellow was a fisherman and conservation was not in his vocabulary.  I said that fishing to extinction would do nobody any good.  He grudgingly agreed, but suggested that big money and state politicians bury the run-off issues and that that is the real issue.  He thought new insecticides were the major cause of a recent fall off in fish.  “They just went somewhere else.”  Or were they fished out locally?  I’d never considered that fishermen would think “went somewhere else” rather than “we over-fished.”  Weird!

After the couple left, the shopkeeper said, “the problem is very complex.  Factory fishing and illegal fishing are a big problem.  Conservation is necessary too.  A good friend of his is a Green Peace Captain who has spent time in jail in Russia. Now that is a nasty prospect.

The shop had quite a few very well done photos printed on aluminum, unique pottery, and woodwork. We saw quite a few items we liked, though we did not purchase any art in his shop.  It was a different story in the spice shop:  habanero salt, lapsang souchong tea, herb dip spice,  and pumpkin cinnamon tea. Lapsang souchong had long been considered a second rate tea and has fallen out of favor in most tea shops.

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We walked up Main Street to Mystic Pizza and had  a slice at the bar.  On our way in, Ellen asked if Mystic Pizza was filmed here.  “No”, the hostess said,”this used to be just the bar.  We’ve expanded, but the movie was shot in a local pub.”  No surprise there, the local pubs have more character than Mystic Pizza.

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At the bar, the guy to my right was savoring a slice of pepperoni pizza that looked great.  I had one too and a local IPA.  Their pizza was good, the crust was a bit oily but we didn’t care.  The fellow beside me worked on submarine computer systems at Groton harbor.   We talked football some: Patriots and Jets, not much about submarines.  Leaving, Ellen had the sense to ask for parking validation and left with a validation card. Cool.

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Mystic Drawbridge
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Mssive Counter Weights

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Reforest the Tropics!

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Walking the Mystic River East Side

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Next we headed back over the drawbridge to walk along the east side of the Mystic River.  The drawbridge with its counter-weight design, is one of only three left in the country.  There was no traffic on the river; the bridge stayed down.

As for walking along the east side of the Mystic River, No Doing!  The walkway along the river is gated after about a hundred yards.  so we walked local roads that fronted on the river.  It was a gorgeous day, cool but not cold and even warm in the sun.  We found a pier with gaff and square rigged  ships moored alongside.  One was for sale.

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Formidable is For Sale!

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Are the canon included?

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The Maritime Museum in the Distance

Further along a SUP couple paddled by and turned into the boat ramp.  Ahead was a boat-works museum that was closed off from this side.

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On the fence was a map of the museum showing the entrance just up the road.  This was the museum we passed driving into the Seaport.  Great. I had walked ahead as Ellen took photos as she walked.  I went on to the museum, bought a ticket for both of us and arranged for her to get her ticket when she arrived, “Can you give this ticket to my wife, Ellen, she’ll be arriving shortly.  She’s dressed in a bright blue jacket.  She’s short with light blond hair”  I then called Ellen and told her about the arrangements as I saw her walking into the Museum.

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On the Old Seaport Waterfront

The Maritime Museum is located on the old whaling town of Mystic.  I think the buildings are re-creations of the original buildings.  The museum also has a number of whalers and historical schooners moored riverside.  :I overhead a fellow explaining that three of the whalers are not here now.  They were moored over there (gesturing), but now there are only two of them.  Two boats were under reconstruction and were closed to the public.  One was just a skeleton housed indoors to protect it from the elements.  A walkway led above decks, then wound down below and out topside once again.  It was fascinating to see the beams, the keel, and the planking that were this ship.  Two of the whalers were open to the public, you could just walk aboard.  Plaques recorded the history of these ships and the whaling process itself.  Today whales are endangered.  Back then, whales were plentiful.  What amazes me is the bravery of the crews of the whaling boats.  These were small dory-like boats with five or six men at the oars, a coxswain, and a mate at the harpoon.  Once the whale was impaled, the New England Sleigh Ride commenced.  Whaling is what made coastal New England.

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The “Boston Sleigh Ride”

We absorbed the museum as we walked its extensive grounds.  I had wanted to go to Groton to visit the Nautilus Museum in Groton, but I am much happier walking around any sailboat.  Tall ships are special, even if they were whalers.  There were a number of antiques hidden in the houses dotting the Seaport.   One was a clock works, another a hoop manufacturer for tall ships, another housed an old horse drawn fire pump.  The pump was hand driven; firemen were big burly fellows much like they are today.  The second floor of one housew the entire captain’s and mate’s quarters taken from a large merchant sailing ship.  It was impressive for its woodwork, though the beds were quite small.  People were much shorter back then.

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The Old Seaport Bank, 1833

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In the Fire Department (note the hand pump)

Walking back to The Beast, I wondered how much the PVR had drawn down the batteries.  We have not calibrated battery wear based on what’s running and for how long.  For us, it is still very much a crap shoot.  I thought there was a good chance that after three and a half hours, the batteries could be drained.  We passed a shop with free fudge samples.  The sample was “ok”, but not worth buying.  We stopped in another bakery and the cookies were too much to resist.  Then we happened by the Mystic Oyster Company, a restaurant.  Not having had my fill of steamers, we stopped in and asked if they have steamed clams. “No, but we have littlel neck clams”  Not the long neck oval clams, but the small round ones.  We asked about steaming them and left with the impression they would steam clams for us.

So do we order a pizza or go for steamed clams for dinner?  First we checked on The Beast.  The doors unlocked, stairs extended, and the PVR was still recording.  The battery voltage was 12.1 which was good.  With the football game three quarters over and our battery showing minimal wear, we felt good leaving things as they were for another hour or so.  We headed back to have some “steamers”.

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An Old Oyster Boat

At the Mystic Oyster House, we were told that the little neck clams were served cold.  Could they be steamed? No.  We ordered the clams served in the half shell.  An IPA for me and a banana  strawberry cocktail for Ellen.  We both ordered a beet salad with scallops (Ellen) and swordfish (Ron) that was very good.  The Oyster House could not validate parking.   We ate slowly watching the lighting change over the Mystic River as the sun set.  We had a window side table.
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On the River, Crab Pots!

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Across the River

Back at The Beast, the batteries were still good.  I must have put the parking validation card in upside down, it did not work.  I paid with a credit card before the attendant asked, “Can I help you”.  I showed her the validation card and she said, “that will work”  Too late, I had paid already.

Back at Mystic KOA, we did not have a gate card.  We did not need one the first day.  Renewing the second day we did not know we needed one and the fellow at the desk assumed we already had one.  We arrived at the KOA gate with no way to get in!  I took my phone over to the office door, found an after hours phone number, and called.  It range, some one answered and my phone went dead.  Ellen then started calling to me about something.  I had been in range for The Beast to take over the phone call.  Ellen was talking with the after hours fellow when I hung up thinking the call had failed.  Isn’t technology grand?  I called back and was told that there are after hours packets in the laundry room, just take the one furthest in back.

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Playing with Shadows

We pulled into site B6 which was not very level.  The campsite is almost a ghost town.  There might be five other RVs here.  We just pulled into A6 which was closer to level and hooked up.  The evening is cool, but it will not go below freezing tonight.  The fellow at the desk this morning said they would not turn the water off unless it was going to freeze.  We should be OK tomorrow morning, but I will disconnect our water before hitting the sack tonight just to be safe.

We’re watching the JETS game we recorded earlier today and we have local cable channels.   With luck we’ll watch Madam Secretary and The Good Wife a bit later.

We enjoyed our outing today.  We had some exercise and had a great time too.

 

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The Cangarda, restored in California, has seven steam engines!

 

Square Rigged Whaling Ships at the Maritime Museum, Mystic Ct.

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The Joseph Conrad

 

  IMG_7713    IMG_7712    Under Restoration

 

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The Charles Morgan

 

 

“What a long, strange trip it’s been…” nod to Grateful Dead

“Once there was a way to get back homeward”

We are headed home in a roundabout way.  We are a stone’s throw from Mystic Connecticut.  Remember Mystic Pizza???  The Movie??  We’ll have pizza at Mystic Pizza tomorrow and visit both Mystic and Westerly.  Ellen is excited to be visiting Mystic we will probably stay a day here.

This morning, our neighbors at Normandy Campground left and new neighbors arrived.  As I was packing in our hoses, a voice asked, “Where in California are you from”.  The voice belonged to our new neighbors who are from South Lake Tahoe.  They had left California on Sept. 17th, the same day we had left and traveled Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts.  Pretty much the same as us.  I mentioned closing out campgrounds throughout Vermont and New Hampshire.  They too had the same experience.  They are on the road until mid January going down the coast to Florida to visit grandchildren.  It would have been fun chatting with them about details of our trips, but we had to be movin’ on.  Our lobster and steamed clams were waiting for us at the kitchen and we had to go.  Then we were heading south.

We were late to pick up our order. The steamers were good, but getting cold.  I had spent too much time talking .  The lobsters were delicious.  We ate at the outdoor pavilion and garnered some attention with our choice of food.  One family ordered lobster, but the kitchen had run out.  We saw a couple leave with the last lobsters as we ate ours.

As we left, Ellen called both Liz and Vanessa to see if there were plans to visit.   As much as we wanted to get together a second time, it was not going to work out. With a new baby, both parents are working lots of hours. Grandparents are helping out babysitting  3 month old  Jerell now that Vanessa is back to work. We drove on heading to Jamestown.

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The Jamestown Fire Department is Volunteer

We dropped by Jamestown to purchase an EZ-pass and to visit the town.  They’re available on line or in Rhode Island at Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge authority.  The authority closes at 2 pm and we had to rush to arrive before they closed.  We arrived twelve minutes before closing time.  The crew at the authority were very helpful and guided us through the process.  While we were there a fellow arrived a minute before the doors locked.  They lock automatically at 2 and the computer system goes off line.  After initially saying he arrived late and with some pleading, this fellow got his EZ Pass as well.  As a Rhode Island resident he tried to get one at AAA, but arrived late.  They closed at 1 pm and he hurried here.  The EZ Pass will be active in Rhode Island tomorrow and in the remaining states that use the system on Monday.  That’s  ok with us.

We went on to Jamestown.  We walked the town.  I tried to find a music shop to buy a guitar pick or two  The hardware store recommended the pharmacy and the pharmacy recommended the hardware store.

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an Inn in Jamestown

No guitar picks are to be had in Jamestown.  No espresso coffee at the coffee shop we stopped by either, though we do have a cheese danish and an apple turnover for later.

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There were a number of mansions for sale in Jamestown.  One sitting right on the coast was “affordable”, but only 3 br 2 ba and an acre.

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Not a Mansion and Not for Sale

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We drove on to Narragansett Beach, this is where I taught myself to surf.  The swell was still running on the beach and they were still hard to catch.  We watched a group of surfers taking runs at the swells.  Most had trouble dropping in.

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Surfing Narragansett Beach

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Jamestown is small and idyllic, but for me, I’d rather be at Narragansett bay.  There were a few homes (mansions really)  that I liked to drive by after thrashing myself “surfing”.  I could not find them!  There were plenty of very impressive homes along the waterfront, but there was one in particular that “was mine”.   I’m a bit sad that I could not find it.  Perhaps next time were in Rhode Island I’ll look a bit harder.

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We tool Rt 1 toward Mystic and not 95.  It is slower, but more revealing.  You get a feel for the towns as you pass through them rather than skirting by and never knowing they’re there.

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At Narragansett Beach, Rhode Island

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Alongside the Beach

We are camping in Mystic KOA, near Mystic Connecticut home of Mystic Pizza:

Mystic Pizza, the Pizza     Mystic Pizza, the Movie    Mystic KOA    nearby Westerly Connecticut

The campground is shutting off the water tomorrow morning.  I’ll be sure we’re disconnected.  I’d hate to have them run high pressure through their lines and blow our check valve out again!  Once was enough for us.

 

Normandy Farms Family Campground Resort 11/07/15

what a difference a day makes!

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The campground is practically full.  Two days ago there might have been two RVs per row at the campground.  Now you might find one spot every other row that’s open.

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Improved Tent Camping

We walked the grounds this morning.  In addition to the facilities in the Rec. Lodge, they have a dog run, a bicycle course complete with jumps, a horse shoe pavilion, boccie ball courts,  lean-to and tent camps, a Frisbee golf course, and (drum roll) the Kamper’s Kitchen is open this weekend.

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Kamper’s Kitchen is serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  They feature steamed dinners including twin lobsters for $19.95 and steamers 1 lb for $10 and 2 1b for $19.  The kitchen is catered by Fresh Catch Restaurant and should be quite fresh.  This is the last weekend the kitchen will be open this year.

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Oak Leaves

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Ellen Rockin’ Out!

Ellen just sent me out to get BACON at the kitchen.  We had bacon and eggs, mmmmm good.  I ordered two lobsters and a pound of steamers which we’ll pick up around noon.  The wind picked up yesterday and cleared enough leaves off the trees that I can get direcTv now.  I have mixed feelings about that.  As we head south we should return to peak foliage in the Carolina s.

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The Lodge is closer than it looks

Time is running short now.  Ellen wants to be home on the 19th a few days ahead of my sister’s arrival.   That gives us 13 more travel days. We guesstimate it will take 7 getting home and we’ll visit Jessie for 3 days on Hilton Head Island. That gives us just 3 discretionary days.  Gone is any though of taking the ferry to Montauk, gone the thought of driving the outer banks and taking the ferry  from Ocracoke to Swanquarter NC., gone time to visit  Judy Pane in New Orleans, gone any hope of visiting Washington DC.  Just as we had to buzz east and skip so much that we passed right by, so we’ll have to buzz west.

We will visit Valley Forge, and forts Miffin and Mercer and a detour from Jackson to Natchez and back to Vicksburg.  From there we’ll find our way to 40 and head West keeping an eye on the weather.

It is not sad to be winding up or tour.  It has been big fun.  The Beast will sit at the ready for our next road trip.  Ski season appears to be starting in California.  We still have some loose ends to tie up for our trip to Ecuador and Peru this spring.  One fellow we met said the second year of retirement is the hardest.  The first year you spend working down your “bucket list” and the second year you twiddle your thumbs wondering what to do with your free time.  I do not think we’ll have that problem.  We have so many interests in addition to travel and photography and we could spend a lifetime mastering just one of them.
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Molly, The Happy Camper

Zip-lining 10/30/15, How Could I not Feature THIS?

Update

I had forgotten to mention this little detail.  Our zip-lining experience was delayed mid-zipping.  While a gal in the other party was coming in, the high five landing got messed up.  She whacked into the brake rope.  She was not badly hurt, but there was some bleeding and she was stunned.  Then she noticed that an earring had torn out!  It was not just any earring, but was titanium with three gemstones.  We all went on the hunt for a good 15 minutes.  I was giving up hope of ever finding the earring in the deep autumn leaves when I heard, “Here it is!!”  We were happy to be on our way and happier sill that she was all right and had her earring.  There was some banter about high fives after that, but there were no high fives.  Just as you should not wear jewelry scuba diving, don’t wear earrings zip-lining anything can and does happen.

Ellen and I tried to get a spot on the Zip line at Stowe, but it was booked for the day.  We looked for zip lines almost everywhere we went after that.  The one day we might have gone in the Berkshires , the weather was cold and we opted not to go.

Toward the end of our visit with Ed and Jean, Terry, one of their friends, suggested going zip lining to Jean.  There were two more spots available, would we like to go?  What?  Of Course we would.  We signed up.

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The weather for the next day was projected to be cool perhaps cold.  We met Terry the next morning and the four of us went to Berkshire East, a ski resort that offers mountain biking, a mountain coaster, and  a long series of zip lines.  This is the same place the cold weather had “scared us off”.  This day the sun was out and the weather was cool but growing warmer.   This was a blast.

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The Finish Line

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Zooming in

 

 

Coaster Video: Ellen and Terry starting up

 Coaster Video: Climbing toward the top

Terry wanted to do the mountain coaster before the zip-line.  We had signed up for that as well.  Jean wasn’t interested.  Terry wanted to go fast and asked Ellen if they could go together.  Added weight makes for more speed.  They were first up the coaster.  That was a gas, and more exciting than the zip lines.  The zip lines were exhilarating; a great blend of speed and awesome views.

Here is a sampling of our photos and videos all shot on iPhones.  We did not want to be burdened carrying heavy camera equipment, nor did we want to drop one or have to recover the pieces.

NOTE: the videos will not play in place, you’ll have do download them (click on the link) then play them locally.

 

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Preparing To Launch

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Launch Pad #1

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Ron at the Ready

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Ellen Hooking in

 

 

Zip Video: Ron and Terry /zip in for a landing

Zip Video: Jean launches

Zip Video: Ellen Launches

 

 

 

50 Days on the Road

Today marks the 50th day Ellen and I have been on our first extended road trip.  Ellen was not sure she would enjoy being gone for more than four weeks. That no longer is a concern.  Each state in this far flung country of ours holds both well known landmarks and little known gems to be discovered by the curious and/or adventurous.

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This afternoon we met Ellen’s sister, Liz, her daughter Vanessa and her three month old son Jerell. We were half way to Jamestown when Ellen checked her messages.  It would be better for them to meet with us today and not tomorrow.  Another U-turn and we headed back to Woonsocket.  We had lunch and a good time visiting with them today.

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In all cases any vacation or trip is a compromise.  Time is limited and “everything” simply cannot be done.  We did visit all of the places I wanted to see in Vermont and most of those in New Hampshire.  We had to skip Hampton and Rye Beaches in New Hampshire.  For Vermont and New Hampshire, the list was relatively short.  We did manage to drive some of southern Maine to have The Beast serviced.  Unfortunately we did not see a single live moose.  There were lots of statues, carvings, photos, and placards, and “Cog Moose” sitting on our dashboard, but we’ve seen no moose in the flesh.  Nor did we venture north to Moosehead Lake as I had hoped.

Now, Massachusetts is different.  Boston is a large metropolis and the surrounding area is steeped in history.  We did not get to Boston’s north shore.  We missed Ipswich and Crane Beach, Marble Head, Salem, Rockport, and Gloucester.  We also missed Plymouth on the south shore and sadly had to give up a trip to Martha’s Vineyard.  The vineyard is probably closed down tight for the season anyway.  Then too, there is not a single campsite on this small island.

There’s always “next time”, though with all there is to see in the U.S. “next time” in Massachusetts will be by plane and rental car and we will probably still not see a moose though I’m sure we’ll try.