Category Archives: New York

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.

One World Trade Center


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




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.

Pratt and Chattenango Falls Syracuse and Lake George

Here are a few photos we took visiting with Paul, Carol, Dylan, Heidi, and Jameson.

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Paul and Ron                                                 Carol and Dylan



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Chittenango Falls

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At Pratt Falls: Paul, Dylan, & Ron ( pratfall coined here?)

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Near Pratt Falls

Here are a few representative photos of our drive around the lake.  Ellen took these.  She is enjoying her Sony A6000 camera enormously.


Paddle Wheeler Lake George


The Mohican Mast Head




The Horicon had Sailed


Lake George, NY


Town Park and Waterfall, Ticonderoga NY


Early Fall Foliage, Ticonderoga NY


Lake George Town

Tivoli, Rhinebeck, Lake George

   Tivoli, New  York


The Beast, Tivoli New York

Tivoli is a small community on the Hudson River north of Rhinebeck.  Unlike many California, houses and house lots are large here.  It is not unusual to have a large house sitting on fifteen acres of land in a bucolic setting.  In the fall this part of New York is so appealing, it is difficult not to imagine settling here.  Then thoughts of winter snows, cold winds, and cabin fever banish the thought.  This would be an ideal setting for a three season “get away” home, as many New York City folks do.  Some preferred destinations are sleepy towns such as Tivoli, Hudson  Rhinecliff, and better known,  Rhinebeck with its storied past. Lots of history here along the Hudson River.  Amtrak and Metro North stations make it an easier commute to and from NYC.

We arrived at David and Christine’s home early Friday evening, October 2nd.  We did not want to be late.  We piled into David’s Prius and drove to Pine Plains, NY for DeDe’s early Thanksgiving Dinner for family.   Ellen and I only learned about the dinner a week before prior and made it a point to get to David & Chris’ house in time to make this event.  We had considered driving “the Beast” up the road and driveway to the house, but Ellen remembered that it was narrow, with some tight turns, and overhead branches.  Not wanting to arrive empty -handed, we took two Napa Valley wines along.


David’s Barn needs some work


Their back yard


Canoeing anyone?

Pine Plains, New York

The house is spectacular, with one wall of floor to ceiling glass windows, a large fireplace, and a gourmet kitchen with a massive island.  DeDe’s dinner was also spectacular with a roast turkey, ham, and literally all the fixin’s.

Jessie, DeDe’s daughter,  had no idea Ellen and I might be there. When she arrived, she saw me and said, “That looks like Ron”, but she was not sure.  Don said, “there’s a surprise for you in the back room”, and Jessie hurried back to find that her surprise was Ellen.  Moments later she came up to me with a big hug and “I thought that was you”.  It was fun chatting with Jessie and Ryan about Hilton Head, fishing, and Ryan’s long term plans.

We all had a riotously good time.  Enjoying the feast were: DeDe and Don,  Jessie and Ryan, David and Christine, Rich and Cindy, Vinny and Shannon, Erica and Danny and the two of us, Ellen and Ron.  Don’s daughter dropped in for a while, too.


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The House that David and Christine “Built”

We slept very well in “the Beast” that night.  The next morning we awoke very late, at 10:30. I had my first tour of David and Chris’ “new” home.  Fourteen years ago they bought a wreck of a fixer-upper in Tivoli.  It was once a magnificent old home fronted by a porch with columns, ornate plaster ceiling medallions, high twelve foot walls, large windows, and fireplaces.  When they bought the house, it’s bones were good, but the house was a mess.  The house is a historic home which means it must be restored to its original condition on the outside.  Inside they can do whatever.  Fourteen years later, bathrooms, the kitchen, the living room, a front room/office, and a downstairs powder room are finished and finished beautifully.  Work on the largest downstairs room (the “dance hall” as I call it) has not been started.  The sill between the two fireplaces in the “dance hall” had rotted out and the outside wall had dropped two inches. David had that wall jacked up and the sill replaced.  There are two large seams running down the side of each fireplace where the wall was moved.  This room will be spectacular when it is finished; the two fireplaces fronted by medallions surrounding the light fixtures in the ceiling and an arch midway down the room will be stunning.  We did not see the upstairs.  We assume there are four bedrooms.

David did most of the work himself.  I think it is safe to say that Christine did much of the design work.  Their accomplishment is miraculous.   David did say he thought it would be a six or seven year project when he started.

Rhinebeck, Wilderstein, Olana

That day, Saturday, David drove us around Rhinebeck and to the Wilderstein Historic Site.  In the afternoon Chris and David took us to Olana NY State Historic Site, where she works.  Olana was Fredric Church’s estate.  Church is an American Landscape painter and a central figure in the Hudson River school of American landscape painters.  A two part art exhibit was in progress which included some of Church’s paintings and contemporary art on display both at Olana house and at Thomas Cole’s site.  Thomas Cole is regarded as the founder of the Hudson River school of American Landscape Painting and was close with Church. Their two homes (mansions) faced each other across the Hudson.  You will find more information about the River Crossings exhibit here.  The restoration society that is restoring Olana to its glory is carefully removing certain trees that have grown to block the views of the Hudson River Valley, one area at a time.  In another few years or a decade, the views from Olana which today are of the Hudson River seen through or between tree tops, will again be awe inspiring as I’d guess Frederic found them these many years past.

Something’s up with the 2nd floor!  In all the homes we visited in and round Rhinebeck, we never saw the 2nd floor.  Chris said that the first floor of the old mansions was for show and that the second floor where people actually lived was plain.

We planned to meet DeDe and Dan at Baba Louie’s in Hudson for dinner and arrived “home” with time to spare.  David and Chris described some of the work they had done on their house. I’ve done my share of renovating distressed homes (nothing on this scale though) and enjoyed discussing what and how they changed the interior.

Baba Louie’s & Ca’ Mia

When the time came to leave for Baba’s,  David lent us his Prius.  DeDe and Don were already there at the bar when we arrived and we were seated quickly.  We had very thin crust fire roasted pizza, a huge salad, and an IPA (for me) and some very funny and memorable conversation.  Time flew.  About half way through dinner I noticed the line out the door.  Baba Louie’s is a very popular place.   So popular in fact that when we asked for dessert menus we were told that BaBa’s was out of deserts!  They had none.  Our waiter suggested two places that were a good alternative; one I’ve forgotten (flan dessert specialty) , the other had “the best Tiramisu you will ever have”. I love great Tiramisu, but the finger cookies have to be soaked through with “the good stuff”.  Skeptically, we went off in search of Ca’ Mia and desert.

We walked for more than a few blocks and had nearly given up on finding the place when we came to the last storefront on main street.  There it was.  We walked through general seating with each table occupied and found seating at the bar in back; first seating for two (the girls) then for all four of us as the bar thinned out.  Don and I had Tiramisu, the gals shared something that to me was not very special. The Tiramisu was as good as BaBa’s waiter had said it would be, perhaps better.  I was in heaven, though that was tempered by the single birthday candle glowing brightly in the dim lighting of the bar when it was served.   After a rousing chorus of “happy birthday”, I could lose myself in the coffee, rum, ladyfingers, and mascarpone cheese.   We had a very good time that evening too.

J E T S, jets jets jets

The next day was the JETS / Dolphins football game, played in London.   It was not broadcast on DirecTV, but we could pick up local HD broadcast channels and we watched New York take Miami apart in the first half of the game and watched Miami threaten to return the favor in the second half.  It was a good game.  Better still, the JETS won, Ellen was happy, and thus I was happy.  I had to run the generator to recharge the Beast’s batteries during half time and again after the game.  I’m coming to grips with the Beast’s strengths and limitations.  We lazed about after the game, took showers in the Beast, and headed off to meet a group of Ellen’s long time Rhinebeck friends for afternoon drinks. Dennis and Leslie McGuire, Brian and Gwenie McGuire, Glenn and Diana Hobson, and Donna Mahoney who had to leave early.  I had met Brian, Gwenie, Glenn, and Diana the last time I’d visited Rhinebeck, with Ellen.  It took some rehashing old times to conclude that it was 2002 when last I’d visited.  Dennis and I had a spirited back and forth (ball-busting both ways) once I “confessed” that I support Obama.  It was all in good fun, I think so at least!  The conversation turned on many topics, skirting politics most times.  Diana set out a choice selection of chips, dip, fruit, pretzels, and hummus.  Wine flowed freely; the bottle we brought came and went along with a few others.  This was Too Much Fun.  After dusk, Ellen mentioned the pick-up truck we admired when we arrived.  It’s one that Glenn restored from a rusted hulk.  I don’t remember the year but I’m thinking it was a late 50’s Chevy.   He had another rust bucket in another garage bay that he’s not started on.  It was a 30’s something-or-other pick-up truck.  I’ll post Ellen’s photos once they’re off her camera.

Santa Fe Restaurant, Tivoli

That evening we took David, Chris, and their daughter, Erica, out to dinner at Santa Fe, one of David’s favorite restaurant. Their son Danny had to work. Portions were large, Margaritas were served by the pitcher, and the chips and salsa kept coming.  Again we had a great time.

The next morning David, Chris, and Erica all went off to work early.  We dawdled around some then drove to Rhinebeck, and some of Ellen’s old haunts.  She enjoys finding places she lived and noticing what has changed.  She had hoped to chat with Bryn and Wes who own two restaurants in town, “the local” and “the Shelter”.  Unfortunately, we didn’t connect with Bryn.  We did have coffee at “Bread Alone Bakery and Cafe”, lunch at “Terrapin”, and looked to restock our wine supply.



Oliver Kita Chocolates Rhinebeck

Oh yes, we stopped at one of the chocolate sweet shops for a taste of Dark Chocolate and Ancho Chili bonbons.  Don’t let the nasty spiders out front fool you, these chocolates are really good; we still have some in the ‘fridge.  Check them out here.


Oliver Kita Chocolate Shop

Moose Hillock Camping Resort & Lake George

About mid-afternoon we set off on our “leaf peeper” expedition and headed north into the Adirondacks.  We noticed Lake George and Ticonderoga as we headed north and chose to stop nearby and explore them tomorrow.  Ellen found a few possible campsites and we settled on Moose Hillock Camping Resort near the lake.  We arrived late.  The office was closed, but the store was open and we registered there around 7:30 pm.  The gal checked us in while the guy answered our questions.  The campground has over 250 campsites, most are empty now.  Next weekend (Columbus holiday) they will be full and they’ll close the following week.  The swimming pool is closed.  The showers take quarters that are good for fifteen minutes (we’ll see about that).  I think we’ll find many campgrounds that are closing for the winter as we move through Vermont and New Hampshire.  We’re not sure we’ll get north into Maine, though I would like to visit Moosehead Lake.


Moose Hillock has big campsites

We’ve eaten, we have a full tank of propane, and a full hookup.  We’ve had memorable visits with Rich, Jean, Shadrach, and friends in Colorado; Carol, Paul, Dylan, Heidi & Jameson in Syracuse;  David, Chris, Erica, Danny, DeDe, and Don, Jessie and the whole family in Hudson and Pine Plains; and we met with good friends in Rhinebeck.  We’ve had a rollicking good time!

What more could we ask for?



At Syracuse NY

Visiting Family

We’re staying with Paul, Carolann, and Dylan here in Syracuse NY,  Carolann is Ellen’s sister.  We’ve had wide ranging conversations about politics, family, music, and local issues that’s been fun for all.  The driving through Pennsylvania and into New York, the weather turned overcast and rain has fallen off and on since we arrived and is expected to continue for the next few days.  There has been extensive flooding along the East Coast of the Carolinas and Maryland and with Tropical Storm (hurricane?) Joaquin on the way we could see more extensive rain.

We’re planning to push on to visit DeDe and Don in Pine Plains, but some of the roads into the woods are dirt and prone to flooding.  We’ll drive to Tivoli, drop off Li’l Beast, and ride to Pine Plains with David and Chris.

Paul said last night that it had been unusually dry the past few months.  This rain is the first they’ve had in quite a while and that the dryness influences the fall foliage.  The leaves turn “all at once” and fall from the trees!   I did notice just this happening in Pennsylvania and parts of New York where some trees had turned and dropped most of their leaves.  They were not maples though.

Empire Brewing Company

We went to the Empire Brewing Company for dinner last night.  The brewery was originally a Cajun and Creole restaurant. The brewery’s menu retained the Cajun and Creole flair.  Ellen had the lobster bisque and a fabulous three meat chili of Elk, Angus, and Kobe.  Paul and Carolann shared a cajun dish of jambolaya and gumbo.  Their IPA was goooood.

I was born and raised near Boston, Mass.  As a child and young teenager my family would take weekend trips to Vermont and New Hampshire and visit their natural wonders.  I remember  more of New Hampshire, probably because we spent more time there.  It will be fun for me to revisit some of the outstanding places I remember and discover some new ones along the way.


I recall being “out in the boonies” on our trips to Vermont.  Forty years ago, Vermont was sparsely populated, rugged, and beautiful in an undeveloped sort of way.  My guess is it has changed over the years.  Some of the resources I’ll be using to plan our trip through Vermont are:

State Parks
top ten things to do in Vermont

New Hampshire

Franconia Notch State Park, New Hampshire, closed Sept 19th.   Luckily the Flume and Canon Mountain Tramway are open through Oct 25th and Oct 18th respectively.  The White Mountain Cog Railway stays open through October.

Check these links for more information:

New Hampshire Parks
White Mountain Cog Railway

New England

Visit New England
foliage Map


Just a short post to catch up.


Cinderella, Niagara Falls, Walk to Canada, Syracuse NY

Niagara Falls

Cinderella Motel and Campsites


Cinderella, Beast Style



Cinderella Campsite Common Area

We awoke early, planning to run up to Niagara Falls and beat the crowds.  My watch showed 10:30 local time.  We were anything but early.  I walked the campground and took a few photos while Ellen setup to leave.  The campground is visually appealing with stands of trees, an open-sided meeting building centrally located, and showers and laundry.

Sewer Trouble

We took the slide-out in and were ready to go.  Checking tank levels, it made sense to drain the swamp before we left.  I moved the Beast closer to the drain and hooked it all up.  After watching this video, Comparing Tank Flushers in the Clear RV Black Tank, I chose use a clear elbow with a flush connection and a valve ( like this ) attached to the hose running into the drain for our RV setup.  The idea being to open the clean-out valve, drain the black, close the clean-out valve and back fill the tank, open the clean-out valve to flush the tank and repeat until the tank runs clear. Then I’d do the same for the gray tank.  Easy!

With the black tank valve open, the hose filled up and refused to drain!  Great, the campsite drain was plugged up and would not drain.  Now  I’ve got a 3 inch tube full of poo.  I thought for a while and realized I could pressurize the hose and perhaps force the obstructed drain clear.  To do this I closed off the black valve and turned on the water  which pressurized the hose.  This inflated the hose, showed a number of pin-hole leaks which were now small geysers, and forced fluid out around the drain fittings.   FAIL.  I opened the black tank valve to relieve pressure, then closed it and closed the flush valve.  Now I could disconnect at the RV without the entire hose emptying out.  I moved the hose away from “everything” and emptied the hose.  What a mess.  It was 12:30 now and the Cinderella office was closed.   After cleaning up as best I could, we headed off to Niagara Falls.

<<<<<  No Photos of this Disaster >>>>>

Walking to Canada

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Shots from the Rainbow Bridge Walking into Canada


The American Falls from Rainbow Bridge

We drove into the same lot we had parked the evening before.  Took a ticket and looped around to find a double spot.   As I was pulling in, I saw an attendant hurrying toward me waving his arms.  We were told that we could not park there, but if we go out there, take a right, then another right, then the first exit from the rotary down the road, we’ll find parking lot #3, free parking for RVs.  Parking Lot #3 is way out in the boonies.  It is free, but it would be a long walk back to the Rainbow Bridge to cross into Canada.  There is a shuttle that runs throughout the park.  For $2 per person, you can get on and off the Shuttle as many times as you want in a day.  We opted to take the Shuttle and got off at the 2nd stop near the base of the pedestrian bridge.  Proper documentation is necessary to cross into Canada, a driver’s license is insufficient.  We took our passports.


Maid of the Mist

The view of American Falls from the Rainbow Bridge is breathtaking.


the American Falls

We passed a number of couples and groups walking back toward the U.S.   Typically Americans commercialize tourist destinations, often to excess.  It has been forty or so years since Ellen or I  last visited the falls.  In that time the American side of the falls has been developed, but not commercialized.  It has a few new buildings in the park: the Aquarium for example.  The Canadian side looks to be a full city.  There are at least two casinos, hotels, restaurants, and an esplanade along the gorge leading toward the falls.  The esplanade has a formal gardens, lawns, and wonderful plantings along its length.  While commercial, the Canadian side shows a sense of pride and retains a quaintness that I had not expected. The American side seemed to have  more park area.


Gardens and Sky Tower


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Horseshoe Falls

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More of Horseshoe Falls

The views of the falls from the Canadian side is not to be missed.  We did not have time to take the “Maid of the Mist” boat tour of the falls from the U.S side or the equivalent Canadian tour, nor did we walk the caves behind the falls.  We would love to come back to do them. We’re now staying with Paul and Carol in Syracuse NY,  Paul said there’s a jet boat you can take on the Canadian side that runs up to the class V or VI rapids way above the falls and that this is no to be missed.  We’ll add that to our list of things to do “next time”.  Paul said to find the jet boat you drive up the Canadian side of the waterway and you can’t miss the signs for the boats.

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Of course we were snapping photos like crazy and standing in awe of the falls when we weren’t.


Returning, we walked quickly back to the bridge.  We were already late leaving for Syracuse and might miss dinner!  To our surprise, there is a turnstile on the Canadian side.  You must pay 50 cents to exit Canada.  We had twenties.  There were change machines that took Canadian and US one dollar bills, but nothing larger.  We were discussing our options and being disgusted at a out further delay as couples and groups shuffled by and through the turnstiles.  I was just about to go back out to the street to find a place to change a 20 when a very gracious Swedish couple, Anne and Malton, gave us each 50 cents and we were on our way.

We caught the Shuttle.  Unfortunately, it had four stops before getting back to lot #3.  We were running later still.  If we had time we would  have further explored Niagara State Park.


We have a number of videos that capture the mighty power and awesome (“AFA”, you know who you are!) beauty of the falls, but they are too large to post to the blog (yeah, what’s with that?).  So I’ll move the videos to our photo album in the next few days.


On the drive to Syracuse, we ran into some rain but no construction on 90 east of Niagara.  Our GPS worked beautifully and we arrived at Paul and Carolann’s home almost two hours later than we wanted.   Their son, Dillon, had not yet arrived; we had not missed dinner.

We’ll stay here in Syracuse for a few days visiting with Paul and Carolann, then head off toward Duchess County; Rhinebeck, etc., to meet more of Ellen’s family.

Ron & Ellen  a stone’s throw from fall foliage in the north east.



Day 10, Wallmart, the JETS, Niagra Falls, Cinderella

Just as with Woodland Park, today we could slow down and breathe.  We boondocked last night at the Wallmart in Lexington Ohio.   That Wallmart is a guarded 24hr store that does not discourage overnighters.  We replenished our supplies and called it a night.  It had been a 555 mile drive from Missouri.  We were bushed.   Around 3:30 AM some inconsiderate trucker pulled in and fired up his generator.  That’s not cool.   He drove off half an hour later.  Surprisingly Ellen slept through.

The next morning we bought some popcorn from a cub scout family before heading off.  We mentioned we were from California and the woman said incredulously, “WHY?”  She assumed we had moved to Lexington, Ohio.  We had a great conversation.

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The drive from  Lexington Ohio to Syracuse Ny is a relatively short one.  We stopped a few times to pick flowers along the road side.  This brings back strong family memories when I was very young.  The flowers we picked were beautiful.   Erie county is home of vineyards and wineries.

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Lush Trees, Farm Land, and Vineyards dot the landscape in Erie County.

We could have make it a long day, but it’s Sunday and the JETS were playing.  At this point we needed to find a place to stop, watch the game, do laundry, and perhaps take a shower.  The JETS game showed at 10 AM PST, we were in EST a difference of three hours.   We could drive 2-3 hours then watch the game on DirecTv which assumes we’re still in Pacific Time! Ellen found a TA truck stop at Harbor Creek Pennsylvania that had it all plus a truck wash, and was a bit over two hours drive away.  Perfect.

TA Truck Stop, Harbor Creek New York

At that TA station, the laundry was great, we gassed up, filled DEF, and settled in, but the JETS lost.  We packed in the last of the laundry and headed off to New York easily forgetting the debacle we had witnessed.   Passing Buffalo, we both though, “why not stop at Niagara Falls?”  We could catch sunset over the falls.   Again with AllStays, Ellen found two campgrounds on Grand Island.  She called both and we made a reservation at Cinderella Motel and Campsite and we continued on to the falls.


What Is This?

Niagara Falls

Somehow we drove right into the closest Niagara Falls parking lot and walked to the overlook.

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We hope to ride “Maid of the Mist” tomorrow.  Being off season and in the evening, the falls were not crowded.  The US side of the falls is commercialized, but it is nothing like the Canadian side with two casinos dominating the night-time view.


We saw sunset from the US side and we’ll see sunrise from the Canadian side tomorrow morning before pushing on.


We backtracked to our campsite, connected, and found that the trees to the south blocked our DirecTv antenna.  The off-the-air HD antenna worked fine and we’re watching CSI Las Vegas.  Ellen grabbed me to go out and see the eclipse of the Harvest Moon.  I ran back, grabbed my long camera, and took this photo.