Category Archives: Travel Resources

Day 17, Tivoli, Civita Bagnoregio, Orvieto


Tivoli and B&B Il Gardino

IMG_6173  IMG_6172

B&B Il Gardino’s Entrance, Tivoli


Common Area, B&B Il Gardino, Tivoli

We awoke early for us, enjoyed a leisurely shower, and went down for breakfast.  The buffet breakfast was quite varied. “Would you like coffee?” “Due cappuccino, per favore.”  though we could have spoken English.   I really appreciated the fresh fruit that greeted us at table.  The cappuccinos were great.

As we often do we walked the town of Tivoli in the morning.  There were a few people out for a morning stroll or coffee.  The town felt deserted. We left for Civita Bagnoregio around 10am.

Bagnoregio on an Italian National Holiday


Bagnoregio is Perched on a Small Hilltop

Traffic on the autostrada was unusually heavy today and moving as congested traffic does.  We came to a near stop or a full stop innumerable times.  Sometimes traffic would zoom at the speed limit and two kilometers come to a complete halt for minutes at a time.  I’d expect to come upon an accident, but there would be no indication that anything was wrong aside from the traffic.

Our GPS piped up with “take slick road on right in 2 kilometers toward…”  I pulled to the right lane saw that traffic was queuing in the break down lane for the exit and pulled in line just in time.  Traffic moved at a snail’s pace.  After an hour we were approaching the turnoff and one of the holdups became apparent.  For every car in line that exited the autostrada, here were two cars who cut the very head of the line.  That was infuriating.

The second bottleneck was traffic merging from the left accessing the toll booths.  There were two lines of traffic darting in, around, and through each other.

Third up?  The toll gates themselves.  Two were closed and two were open; one open for cash, the other for telepass. Cars accessing  the cash lane were blocking the telepass lane and telepass holders were blocking the cash lane.  Madness.

Finally my turn after cutting of a guy trying to cut in front of me.  That’s not going to happen after waiting 90 minutes.  Up to the booth attendant with my ticket.  He’s on the phone.  He takes my ticket and 3,40 shows on the display.  Great I hand him a 5 and fish for 40 cents.  He takes the five, still talking on the phone and does nothing.  I found the 40 cents to get an even 2 euros back a tried to hand it over.  He’s still talking on the phone. “Sigonore, per favore” nothing, this guy is “busy”.  “Signore, please take this 40 cents”  nothing.. I’m sure traffic behind me is convince I’m a total idiot by now.  “Allora, Signore, please take this 40 cents too” It wasn’t a shout, but I did raise my voice.  He moved the phone away from his ear, glowered at me, and released a stream of Italian the gist of which was I’m on the phone talking about this traffic backup.  You could wait.  He did take the 40 cents and give me 2 euros.  I was free…

The back roads to Bagnoregio were traffic free!  I had this haunting feeling that something was happening that I was not aware of.  Why so much traffic on the autostrada? We we approached Bagnoregio, I could not believe what I saw.  Driving toward the lower parking area, the streets were lined with parked cars.  In the lower part of the new town, there were people milling about every where.  Car parking areas were full.  We eventually found a parking yard with an opening and grabbed it.

The pay kiosk was broken another dilemma.  Do we park elsewhere and not get ticketed for sure, or do we simply walk on hoping for the best?  We walked on, joining a stream of people headed to Bagnoregio.  Now Civita Bagnoregio is a very small town that sits on a precipice. Access to the town is across a long picturesque pedestrian bridge.  To access that bridge, you first park, walk up steps to the upper town, walk through the town eventually to access to that pedestrian bridge.  The crowds were staggering. Walking through the town we joined a throbbing throng of people moving toward the pedestrian bridge; with another stream of people returning.  It’s about a 1 kilometer walk through the town.  This was like being at a world fair, it was so crowded.  Everyone was speaking Italian.


Bagnoregio is Quite Dramatic


Crowded? Pieno, Pieno, Pieno!

Look closely at the crowd crossing the footbridge to the city in the photo above.  It turned out that today, the day after Easter, is a national holiday. Half of Rome had come to visit Bagnoregio.  We eventually reached access to the pedestrian bridge, but seeing the crowd crossing the bridge it became apparent that a relaxed lunch in Bagnoregio admiring the town and its views was not going happen.  There was no way we could stand the crowds. We left having taken a few photos of the town and the crowds.


The Foreground Appears Uncrowded, a Bus had just Gone Past!



Upper “Bagnoregio” men’s & women’s Line

We both needed to use a Toilette.  The line near the Bagnoregio foot bridge was excessively long. We moved quickly back through the new town and down the stairs to find a men’s and woman’s line.  Predictably the men’s line was four deep, the woman’s nearly twelve.  Ellen, “is there a door in the men’s room?”  After checking, “yes” and she waited in the men’s line with me to the shock of one fellow in particular.


The Lower Women’s Line


Ellen used the Men’s Room, One Guy was Not Amused!

Back at the alfa, we had no parking ticket.  There was traffic!  There were people looking for parking and those leaving.  We left and dialed in Orvieto as our destination.  We were off.  Ellen asked if I was ok leaving Bagnoregio without actually seeing the city.  Of Course, the mass of people was a complete disaster. No way would I have wanted to continue.

We stopped at a service center on the autostrada to get gas and maybe a bite to eat.  I drove past the entrance for the food court and drove through the exit to park.  No harm done, nobody was coming out.  The food selection at the food court was extensive, from pizza by the slice to made to order pasta dishes.  A fellow overheard us talking about the pizza and he said, “the pizza is good”. We opted for a slice of pizza.  Crust makes a pizza.  My pepperoni/salami pizza slice was good, but the crust was not crunchy.  Ellen’s was crunchy and much better. Full up, we filled the car up too.



Orvieto, Prominent in the City is the Duomo

The drive to orvieto went very smoothly until we reached Orvieto.  Rick Steves had recommended parking at the funicular and taking it up to the city.  Parking in the city is limited and expensive.  Right.  So we drove up a winding road looking for the funicular.  I stopped and asked an attractive woman police woman (comment about Italian Woman discreetly left out) where we would find the Funicular.  She was very helpful and precise.”a sinistra, allora diretto e a destra” motioning in the general direction of left.  Off we went following her directions and surprisingly we did not find the funicular, but we found a parking garage.  We parked, dragged our luggage out of the car, and headed out in search of the Funicular.

The policemen directing traffic either did not understand English or couldn’t be bothered.  Ellen approached a group on a corner and asked were we would find the fu NIK u lar.  They looked at each other, clearly not understanding what Ellen was asking.  I have no idea where this sprang from but I blurted out, “FU nick u LA re”  Instant recognition sprang upon one gal’s face.  She pointed down the hill, “e la”, she said proudly.  In Italian accent is everything.  The difference between so prah SEt to and so pra SAH to is the difference between getting a blank stare or a great sausage.

Down we trundled over cobblestone, Ellen dragging her suitcase, me with my duffle bag over my shoulder. We found an expansive parking lot, the entrance to the Funicular, and a ticket office.  “due biglietti, per favore” and we stepped into a crowded car with standing room only. Ellen and I were separated in the car.  Eventually there was a beep, the doors closed, and the Funicular lurched downward. DOWN?  We are going DOWN?  It occurred to me that we probably drove up to parking in the city.  There was no need to take the Funicular.  None.  I didn’t want to look at Ellen; didn’t want to know what she was thinking!

When the Funicular hit bottom, we stayed aboard as others boarded.  A bit later the doors closed and we were headed back to Orvieto.

We took no photos of the Funicular. We were disgusted with it/us.

We dragged our bags up past our parking area, up and up.  Eventually Ellen approached a good looking Italian fellow and asked where the Grand Hotel Italy was.  He said, in very good English, this street takes you to a square.  The hotel is just past the square on this street I believe.  We had arrived, almost.  Those last 200 meters were torture.

Orvieto and Grand Hotel Italia


We Found Orvieto’s Duomo

The hotel is well located in Orvieto’s centro storico.  It is a comfortable if modest hotel situated just off Piazza del Popolo.   We had a standard room of moderate size with a nicely appointed bathroom. Lunch was a vague memory, we were hungry again.  We asked at the desk where we could get an authentic local meal.  “On Piazza del Popolo, just nearby, is Mamma Angela’s.  That is the best.”

Mamma Angela’s


It Was Too Cold to Sit Outside

We walked had walked past that piazza on our way to the hotel.  Finding the restaurant was no problem, but it did not look open.  Approaching a fellow setting up outside seating, I asked, “E aperto?” to which I heard “No, aperto alle sette quindici.  Vuoi una prenotazione allora?”  “Si, alle otto?” and the waiter made a gesture saying I’ll remember you while saying, “recordo”.  We had forty minutes time to walk some of Orvieto.  The church on the square is interesting, though we had seen a clock tower nearby.  Off we went in search of something.  That something was the Orvieto’s duomo.  It is an impressive structure in white and gray stone similar to Firenze’s duomo.  It was closed.  We returned to Osteria da Mamma Angela at 7:15 sharp, hoping to be seated early.  “Buongiorno, interno all’esterno?” “La, per favore” I said pointing inside while avoiding the whole interno issue.  We were seated and given menus in Italian.  Ellen asked his name. “Luca” Ellen asked “Luca, with two ‘c’s’?”  “no, one c, Luca”.  Luca is one of the owners.


Mamma Angela’s Italian Menu

Cool, We were well into translating the menu with my “Italian phone” when a waitress came over and asked if we would like an English menu.  Sure, let’s do that.  Apparently, I had spoken enough Italian convincingly that the first fellow thought I spoke Italian. Cool, if counter productive!”


Mamma Angela’s Ravioli


Mamma Angela’s Osso Bucco

The English menu was so much easier to decipher, though we still had questions about ingredients.  Included on the menu was Osso Bucco.  I love osso bucco.  Ellen even commented that it was on the menu. Ellen ordered Mamma Angela’s Ravioli. We had house wine which was exceedingly good.   My osso bucco was not nearly as tender I had expected.  Like the pasta, the beef was al denti.  It was perfectly seasoned with just the right touch of finely chopped carrots. I assume celery and onion as well, though they mostly dissolved in the sauce.  I have since learned that chianina is the local breed of Tuscan cattle.  It is a tougher meat than angus.  The Italians prefer a chewy beef to the tender beef we eat in the U.S.  My osso bucco was no doubt from Chiania beef.  It was very tasty and very resilient! The osso bucco was good. Ellen’s really enjoyed here ravioli.


Cheese Cake, and the Topping? Excellente!

Our waitress tempted us with a desert list.  We settled on cheese cake.  The cake was wonderful, but the fruit topping was amazing.


Inside Mamma Angela’s

Italy and Wines

A word about Italy and wines.  Italy has more acreage cultivated for grapes than any country in the world.  It produces more wine than any other country.  Surprisingly, most of Italy’s wine is produced by small family wineries producing wine for local consumption, akin to Germany’s local breweries. Most of these do not produce wine in sufficient quantities for a large export market.  The wine is consumed locally.  Therefore Italian wines are virtually unknown in the U.S.  Only people who travel to Italy and sample the wines from the various regions come to appreciate both the quality and variety of these wines.  I have had some extremely good glasses of house wine produced locally in small volume I’m sure.   No doubt I will have a mixed case of wine (or two) shipped back home.

Typical for us, we left Mamma Angela’s happy, tired, and sated.  Unusual for us, our walk back to the hotel was short, flat, and with no stairs.


An Eclectic Curio Shop, Orvieto


There’s Something About Betty




Wagon Train, Orvieto

Italy Day 16, Sperlonga, Tyberius’ Villa, Tivoli


In retrospect, today was a very full day. We touched on so many things: historical, culinary, visual.  From the beach to a hill top town, from 1st century BC to a local bar playing beach boys.  We had one miss and one near disaster (that wasn’t). Everything else was perfect.  What a glorious day!


Virgilio Grand Hotel


The Hotel Entrance


The Lounge, the Virgilio Hotel Is Modern

Breakfast was included at Hotel Poseidon. We ate at the hotel and walked the old town of Sperlonga one more time.  Ellen said, “I could stay here a month”  Sperlonga is a beautiful community, though there might not be enough cultural events for a months stay.


It Was Too Cold To Setup Breakfast Outside


Tropical Pizza, Highly Rated but Slow Food?

A Pictorial Walk Around Sperlonga













































Tiberius’ Villa, Sperlonga


Sperlonga Seen From Tiberius’ Villa


The Path to the Ruins of Tiberius’ Villa, Sperlonga

The hotel concierge strongly advised that we visit Tiberius’ Villa and Grotto, which is a few kilometers south of Sperlonga.  I knew tiberius had a villa atop the blue grotto with a stairway down into the grotto, but not about Sperlonga! Back at the hotel, we brought our luggage down and I went out back for the car.  It was GONE! It was simply not there!  Not here, not around the corner, GONE!

I frantically went back to the hotel desk, “scusi, my car is gone!”  “oh, we moved it down stairs.  It’s on level –2.”  Whew!  And it was on level –2.


Walking the Ruins, Sperlonga

Driving to Tiberius’ Villa, meant retracing our drive south about three kilometers.  The turn off for parking is not well marked.  The first clue the driver has something is coming up is the bus parking to the left you notice just as you drive by a small blue “P” and arrow to the right. Down the road some there are place to turn around.  Even knowing where the turn in for parking is, it is easy to drive by.  The entrance is quite small.  You drive down a short steep road.  The road goes straight take a turn to the right and park in a dirt/grass area.  We found the last parking space.  I thought we might be parked in when we leave.


Raised pools, Tiberius’ Grotto, Sperlonga


Water Once Flowed Through The Pipes (holes)


A Statue Left Outside (hard to access?)

The entrance to the villa from the parking area is not marked at all.  From parking you walk 100 meters to an access road.  Left takes you back to the main road.  Right takes you down to the sea. “Scusi, dov’e la villa di Tiberius?  e la?” (pointing to the right). “No e la” (fellow points to the left)  That saved us a walk down to the sea and back! Up to the Villa.


Close-up of the Ancient Pipes


Fishing Here Is Still Good!


Small Fish in the Lower Pool


Large Fish in the Upper Pool


Our Single Busload of Tourists


The Ruins a Different Perspective


Ellen, Having a Great Time!


View from Tiberius’ Lair: Sperlonga & Ellen


Description of Tiberius’ Grotto, In Italian Of Course

Instead we found the entrance to a museum. “Dov’e la villa di Tiverius?”  It worked once, lt’s see what the museum official says.  “e qui”.  Cool, in we go.  You pay a few euro to tour both the museum which houses incredible status and then tour the grounds of the ruins of what once was Tiberius’ Villa.  Tiberius knew how to position his homes.  This on is situated on a relatively flat  expanse that runs right to the sea.  To the left is a grotto.  To the right is the Lido that leads to Sperlonga.  It’s a moderate walk from here to there.  Directly in front of the villa, now ruins, is a rocky seafront.  There was a fellow spear fishing on the rocks.  The fishing must be pretty good.  The grotto pools with their array of huge fish were fenced off.


Some English at the bottom!


Location of Statues in Tiberius’ Grotto

The statues in the museum depict scenes from Homer’s Odysseus. The Slaying of the cyclops is very well sculpted in white marble. It is a huge statue with many parts.  Interestingly Tiberius had these statues placed in the grotto.  Tiberius himself had living space in the grotto.  The museum is small.  It houses the statues that were recovered from the cave.


Odyusseus and the Cyclops


Cyclops, Close Up





How The Art Might Have Looked


What is Left Today


It is a short walk to the entrance to Tiberius’ Villa, which is now a series of low walls marking the boundaries of houses and plazas.  It is small compared to Pompeii. Then a villa is quite small compared with a town or city. To me the most amazing thing about the villa is the Grotto.  There are two man-made pools fronting the grotto. I imagine one was cold water, the other hot.  These look to be fed by a freshwater spring.  There is evidence of fire in some places inside the cave. It could be caused by Tiberius’ candles or lamps or perhaps by modern teenagers in the 16oo’s lighting bonfires in the caves.  Perhaps both are true.


Marble Come To Life

A tour group arrived with us.  Tour groups typically move quickly through sites. This one did as well. Here one moment and headed for the exit the next.  “Check, got that one”.  Maybe it’s just me, but I prefer to linger in striking places to soak in the history or the beauty of the place (both?).  The Grotto faced the perfect sand beach that stretched in an arc for two kilometers.  It has access to great rock fishing and fresh water pools.  What a wonderful place to relax.  I must admit I know very little of Tiberius.  Curiosity will drive me to read more about Italy’s roots.  It is clear that someone or some group of some ones really had it in for Tiberius.  Everything he has touched was severely trashed.  It brings to mind current US politics. Basta! (enough of that)



The skies had darkened as we walked the ruins.  A drop or two fell as we left for our car.  The promised rains were coming.  I drove on to Terracina with Ellen and our GPS units navigating.  We planned to eat lunch in Terracina


Terracina, Coming

It was a dark gray, rainy drive to terracina.  Learning from Gaeta, this time I drove along the coast.  We found nothing of particular interest in a long drive around and back into town. If there was an old town, we didn’t find it.  Headed back out of town we passed a very appealing restaurant on our right.  Stop, backup, park.  “Do you think we can park here?” “Look, they did.  We should be ok”


Terracina, Going!

This is About How We Felt About Terracina, Wet and Out Of Focus

We walked into the restaurant. It was packed.  Ellen headed for the Toilette while I tried in vain to get someone’s attention. Perhaps ten minutes later, a fellow who looked like the owner walked by. “Scusi, posso mangiare qui?”  “No.” Followed by  stream of Italian that was unrecognizable to me.  I get this often now.  We’ve been given menus in Italian later to have them swapped for the English ones when I becomes apparent we have no idea what’s on the menu.  It is Easter today.  The restaurant had probably been booked for weeks in advance.  No wonder nobody even noticed us when we walked in; or when we walked out.  Another day without lunch, but that’s OK.  We’re headed to Tivoli.

On the Road

Our car needed to be fed too.  We could probably have driven through to Tivoli, but a service stop presented itself and we took it.  Cars to the left, trucks to the right: ok.  Food to the right gas straight ahead; oops.  I drove in the out to get back to the food court.  It was an extensive food court with fast food (pizza, calzone, beer), made to order pasta dishes, salads and vegetables, trinkets and souvenir sales.  We each had a slice of pizza.  Ellen’s was vegetable with a crunchy crust.  Mine was cheese and peperoni with a soggy crust. The crust is everything.  It was a fair lunch, the least memorable thus far.



Free Street Parking!


Trip Advisor Loves B&B Il Giardino


The View Isn’t That Bad Either.

With the alfa fed, we sped off to Tivoli.  There was relatively little traffic; we made very good time.  Approching Tivoli we switched from the clueless Garmin to the mostly ok Google Maps (again thank you TIM, Palermo!).  Still we drove into town, out of town, back into town, then up the correct street without seeing B&B Il Gardino.  “Wow, a parking space”, I zipped in and parked.  We found the B&B very close by. The sign was prominent if you are walking by, but not so much if driving.  It was mid afternoon when we arrived.


We have a Patio and a View over the Valley

Omar came right away when we rang the front bell.  He checked us in and showed us our room.  It was comfortable and had a view of the valley over the tops of the homes just below.

An Afternoon Walk Tivoli

Tivoli, the historic town of Tivoli, is small and build on a hill side.  We walked the upper city.


Tivoli’s Upper Square


The Arch, Tivoli


We Missed the Castle, Tivoli


Valle D’Este

Tivloi Gardens were open and closing at 7:30.  The group of eight ahead of us chose not to enter, it was too expensive.  No problem for two @ 8 euro each.

We walked the gardens until we were literally shooed out at 7:20.  But I thought they closed at 7:30!

I’m trying WordPress’ album and slideshow feature to see if we like it.  Tell us what you think.  -ron



Eden 2.0

The sun was sinking low on the horizon as we walked back toward “home”.  We had noticed a bar with an appealing view and stepped in to watch sunset over a drink.  We were seated at the “window”.  There were no windows, just a low railing and an expansive view.  Sunset, Beer, and Limoncello: Heaven.


Eden 2.0


Waiting for Our Order, Eden 2.0, Tivoli


A Tivoli Sunset from Eden 2.0’s Balcony

Ristorante Sibilla

Back at the apartment we freshened up and went out for dinner armed with two recommendations for dinner.  One for authentic local food, the other with a 10% discount.  It was dark by now and we navigated by a tourist map.  These maps are next to useless.  We managed to find the local food restaurant, but it was closed.  Most everything seemed closed on the narrow streets we walked.  OK, let’s find the other one.  Like streets in Boston, there was no way to know where a street would lead.  Some would go straight then zig left.  Others connected to the right only.  We were lost.  We asked directions from two woman who spoke perfect Italian, but no English. Back up the hill and to the left, is what we took away.  We went back up the hill, left, then down hill to the river.

I saw a restaurant across the river, but that was not the one recommended.  It was il Ciocco, which I remembered as having a great view of the river and waterfall, but not so great food.  After dark, there is no view.  TIM & ItalPhone to the rescue.  Ellen mentioned that they might be closed by now.  “Yes, we are open.  The kitchen closes at 10.  Pronto, Pronto”  We arrived at Ristorante Sibilla at 9:20.  We were seated right away.  Our waiter enjoyed talking with us in English (how hard will it be to learn some Italian?)  We had a good time talking with him too.  I had a simple classic dish of paste with pecorino cheese and pepper, Ellen had cheese ravioli.  My dish was fantastic.  The combination of fresh paste, virgin olive oil, some butter, pecorino cheese, and pepper was what Mac&Cheese should be.  It was mouthwatering  The cheese in Ellen’s ravioli was superb.  I very highly recommend Ristorante Sibilla.  The house wine was excellent as well.

We found our way home by following the main street uphill to Tivoli’s upper square.

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


Our Favorite Campsite


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.


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.


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.



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)


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.



Structurally Complete Interior


Unfinished Interior Second Floor and Up.


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.



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.


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.


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.

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.

Winnebago View, Sprinter based, rough start and no power.

Leaving Normandy Family Campground yesterday, we had a scare.

I had disconnected, but had not taken in our Sat antenna.  No problem, I thought, just turn on the inverter to power the antenna and bring it in.  With the antenna stowed, we went over our checklist, all good to go.

The Beast started hard, turned over and ran but with no power and a very rough idle.  WTF?  Holy craparoonie.  I shut down the engine and re-started:  SAME DEAL, rough running with no power.

Ellen leapt up to check the control panel and asked, “Should this green light be on?”  Now who would think starting the diesel engine with the inverter powered on would cause trouble?  We’ve run with the inverter on powering a crock pot.  Ellen turned the inverter off and The Beast started right up.  Great problem #1 solved, but were there any secondary problems created?

It is now the next day and all appears to be right in Li’l Beast.  I just have to examine the electrical wiring diagram to understand why we had this problem.

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.


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.


Oak Leaves


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.


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.

Molly, The Happy Camper

Electrical Problems

This morning I noticed Dennis, our neighbor here at the campground, looking at his heater as I headed off to the showers. He was still outside when I returned. I walked over and mentioned that we had found the pub they suggested and that we had enjoyed a meal there. Yes, the memorabilia was fascinating. He then said he was having some electrical problems. He had a problem a week ago. His lighting was glowing dim as if he was not getting full current through his trailer. That was traced to his converter, which was replaced. This last night he had the same problem: his lights were dim and his heater blower was not operating normally. We both agreed that it was more likely that some problem ahead of the converter was the culprit. I mentioned fire as something to keep an eye out for; not to alarm him, but to be sure he was aware of it. Dennis said he had called the fellow who replaced his converter who suggested testing the power going into his trailer. Dennis then called the campground to have the electric box tested to be sure the source was good. I was about to show him the surge protector and line validator I use, but the campground trouble-shooter arrived. He was the same fellow who filled our propane tank yesterday.

He tested the output voltage at the box and it was fine. Next he examined Dennis’ plug and found that one of the contacts had been pushed about 1/8 of an inch into the recepticle and there was sign of melting in the rubber around the contact. Then too, the cable running into the plug was wrapped with electrical tape. Dennis said that the wires had been pulling out. His fix was to tape the cable. Fix-it man recommended that Dennis replace the plug. It was clear that a bad connection was causing impedance on the input and threatening to short out and/or cause a fire in the wire.

I’ve noticed that my shore power plug is becoming more difficult to attach and remove from the surge protector. I’ll find a conductive lubricant and “grease the skids” so to speak. McDonald’s RV is nearby on Rt 1 south. We’ll visit when we leave. I hope to replace both our internal filter, which Brad removed, and our outside filter if they have replacements. I’ll also get a strain relief fitting for our water inlet. The quick-connect fitting doesn’t slide smoothly and I’ve been stressing the water bulkhead. It’s best to address problem before they become problems. (The corollary to “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”)

All in all, The Beast has performed exceptionally well these past seven weeks!

Normandy Farms Family Campground is near capacity this morning. It was party time last night going well past 11 pm, but not noisy at all. People were huddled around campfires talking in subdued tones punctured by the occasional belly-laugh. The intimacy of a near empty campground feels lost. That sense of people sharing an unusual common experience has been replaced by “the crowd” mentality. Will the common hello as people pass each other still be there?

Cape Cod in November

Scusset Beach Campground (11.01.2015)

We were up earlier than expected this morning after turning our clocks back an hour.  The temperature was mild last night: 50 degrees outside and 57 degrees inside before we fired up the heater.  Our electric mattress pad set on low is enough to keep us toasty at freezing temps.  With heated restrooms and unlimited hot water, this campground was great.   Once again being off season, the campground was very sparsely populated.  We did meet a number of couples and dogs on our walks.

The skies were overcast this morning with intermittent rain drops striking the windshield as we drove off.  There was nobody collecting fees both on the way in and on the way out.  We headed further east on SR 6 toward Marconi Station and White Cedar Swamp.  Terry, a good friend of Ed and Jean, told us to see the swamp if we visit Cape Cod and off we went.


Marconi Station and White Cedar Swamp


It is worth stopping at Marconi Station just for the history.  The first transatlantic radio broadcast was transmitted from Poldhu on the coast of Cromwell England and received at Marconi Station, Wellfield Ma.  Thoreau’s comment about Cape Cod inspired Marconi to setup a receiver there and in Maine.  More information on Marconi Station


The visitor center was closed.  I put the keys in the ignition, keeping my eye on a bicyclist riding toward us.  The rider circled back to check out our license plate and rode over to the window.  “Hi, do you need information?”, asked Bob Spiegleman.  “No” I said initially, then thought better of it and added, “But there’s a wooden walkway through a swamp near by.  Do you know how long the walk is?”  That started a long conversation about Marconi, the swamp, steamers, did we rent our RV, wives and husbands with different last names.  We had a good long conversation.

The White Cedar Swamp entrance is three quarters around the parking lot at Marconi Station.  There’s nothing there now, erosion and storms took the towers.  Bob mentioned friends with different last names who gave one child one last name and the other, the other.  Or a couple whose last names were golden and brownmantle.  They both changed their last name to champagne, a color mid way between brown and golden.



Bob also mentioned that there was a 100th year anniversary for the Titanic.  The SOS transmitted from the Titanic was received here at Marconi Station.  The station contacted a boat in the vicinity which saved a number of people.

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We walked the bluffs where Marconi’s receiver once stood and walked off toward the swamp.  The first few hundred yards are not remarkable, but as the scrub forest grows and the light is filtered by the leaves, the walk takes on a ethereal sense of peace.


Two equestrians riding beautiful muscular horses trotted by on the trail.  A bit further on, the trail through the scrub forest crosses a dirt road and winds onto a raised walkway over a swamp.  The trees change from wind blown scrub and dwarf pines to tall white cedar. This cedar must love having its “toes” wet. The White Cedar Forest thrives in the swamp.  Cedar is a pine; the needles do not change color in the fall.  Now and then a maple towers above the cedars with bright yellows and reds.  As wonderful as walking the swamp was, to see it in peak foliage would be more so.




We had asked Bob about steamers.  Most everything is closed now, he suggested  cook’s or Cookies in Orleans.  Climbing aboard  The Beast, we both mentioned being hungry.  Should we push on to Provincetown or head back to Orleans?  We chose to drive to the fist of the cape.  It’s not that much further and we should find lunch there, perhaps some steamers.


Provincetown Massachusetts


P-town was “happening”  The street we drove in on led to a parking lot right on the bay.  Before crossing toward the lot, I had to wait for a number of groups to walk past.  They walked everywhere; on the sidewalk or in the middle of the street; quite a contrast to the near empty towns we passed.  Great a parking lot. Better still, a sign out front read, “Enjoy Free Parking”.  It was a large lot and it was nearly full.  I recognized immediately  that I would have trouble maneuvering the parking lot and would probably not find parking.  Heading back out of town, we found a still larger and empty lot with plenty of parking and a short walk back to Commercial Street.


We checked the menu posted outside the first restaurant we found.  No steamers.  We went inside and found a typical warm dimly-lit bar and numerous tables and chairs, some with customers enjoying lunch.  We waited a few moments hoping to ask if they had steamers.  A few too many moments later, we left to walk main street.   I’ve craved some steamed clams with beer since crossing the Mississippi.  We walked on. Commercial street was busy.  Two places appealed to us: The Squealing Pig and The Lobster Pot.  The Squealing Pig was packed and we loved the aroma coming from the kitchen.  The wait was too long; the Lobster Pot won out.




The Lobster Pot has a restaurant in the back on the ground floor and a bar and tables on the second floor.  We were led to a side table on the ground floor when Ellen asked if there was seating for lunch upstairs.  She preferred to sit facing the bay.  “Yes, there is additional seating upstairs beyond the bar area. Yes, they have the same menu.”  We headed to the bar and were seated at a table overlooking the bay.  Just as Ellen wanted.  Ellen enjoyed a hot lobster roll and broccoli gratin, and I had clams; not steamed, but fried.  They were great!

The Lobster Pot overlooks P-town’s bay and pier.  Walking toward the pier after lunch we passed a sign “Steamers 9.99”.  REALLY?  I had to ask.  I popped into the diner and asked if they still had steamers.  A women said, “We sure do, and they’re on sale today.  Do you want some?”  No, we had just eaten.  Next time I’ll hold out a bit longer before settling.  The Lobster Pot was scrumptious, but pretty expensive. $9.99 for Steamers could have been a deal.  Oh Well…

A Fox?


Walking toward the Beast, I noticed a mid-sized animal loping behind our RV heading right-to-left.  It was too big to be a cat.  Dogs do not lope.  I pointed it out to Ellen just as it disappeared behind the RV.  Seconds later a white tailed fox appeared.  Its pace increased as two couples jumped out of their SUV to watch agape as the fox ran past.  Ellen did get a photo or two before the fox disappeared.



Sunset on the way to Foxboro


Normandy Farms Family Camping Resort (11.02.2015)

Bruce and Vivian had told us about Normandy Farms Family Camping Resort in West Foxboro MA.  I had called earlier in the day and they were open and could accommodate us for two or three days. They would be full on the weekend; we would not have a space on Saturday but would Sunday afternoon.  That’s fine.  I asked about car rentals and Jessie said the enterprise was very close and would deliver a car, but that we should consider taking the train into downtown Boston and not driving.

We left P-town headed to Foxboro knowing that we would miss the beginning of the game. Come to find out the game would not be carried on DirecTv. The Raiders are notorious for blacking out games.  I was hoping that a local east coast channel would broadcast it.  The JETS are local, right?  Wrong.  We arrived and were given site #1001, with a good view to the south through some trees and a cable hookup for local channels, but no channel carried the JETS game.  We can watch The Good Wife and a few of our other favorite shows tonight and Wednesday if we chose to stay three days.

Normandy Farms Campground is huge and very well appointed. The “office” is like a ski chalet.  There is a heated indoor pool.  For the three weekends prior to Halloween, they have weekend events celebrating Halloween including hay rides.  We have not walked the grounds, checked out the pool, the restrooms, or the laundry.  We’ve settled in for the evening.

Issues with The Beast

Last night we learned that an “F” reading on our gray tank means.  It does not mean nearly full or almost full or don’t worry about it full.  It means full.  I was settling in for the night while Ellen was organizing things on her way to bed when she noticed a rather nasty odor in the shower.  She had washed out our crock pot earlier and that was enough to push the gray tank into overflow.  A gray tank overflow is a pretty nasty thing.  This was clearly my fault for not connecting the septic hose and draining the swamp.  So it was that I found myself outside in the dark moving The Beast closer to the drain, monkeying with our sewer lines, and emptying tanks when I’d much rather be inside asleep.  With the tanks empty, Ellen took on the task of cleaning out the shower pan.  About an hour later all was well in Mudville, well almost.

The next morning I tried dialing in DirecTv.   To get closer to the drain last night, I had moved The Beast.  That little move was enough to throw reception off.  Even re-aligning the antenna failed.  Next I wasted half an hour calling RV Service Centers in and around Foxboro looking for someone who could take us on short notice.  All the large dealers were slammed.  The soonest anyone could take us was Nov. 12th.  We cannot wait around that long.  Giving up I arranged for Enterprise to deliver a car to the campground.  We plan to anchor The Beast for a few days and use a car to explore Boston, Cambridge, Arlington, and Martha’s Vineyard.  Enterprise car rental often delivers to campgrounds if there is an office nearby.  It’s a great business niche for them.  I arranged for a KIA to be delivered at 10:30, giving me time for a shower (unlimited hot water, heated room, spotlessly clean) and to help Ellen with laundry.

Enterprise Car Rentals, Foxboro Ma.

At the office I bought another fifteen feet of sewer hose minutes before our KIA arrived.  That rental went quite smoothly.  For out of state rentals, Enterprise requires a major credit card and of course a valid license.   We’re thinking that renting a car when we stop for more than two days makes more sense than purchasing, insuring, and hassling with towing car would.  This was our first car rental “on the road” and it went very smoothly.

Brad’s RV Service

Back at The Beast, there was activity in the neighboring fifth wheel.  I walked over to meet Joe who was breaking down and storing the family summer equipment.  We talked RVing, retirement, work, and avoided solving the world’s problems.  I turned to walk away, but something made me mention that we had a hot water problem in our RV.  I described the two problems:  1. water flows in both the hot and cold lines, but both run cold.  Yes, the water heater is running and is hot.  We actually get a short flow of warm water before it goes cold.  and 2. The cold water outlet in the kitchen is not running at all.   Joe first said, “That sounds like a check valve problem” (which I thought too) then, “I have a fellow coming to winterize my RV and do some caulking for me.  Perhaps he can help you out too.  He’s a great guy, a retired police man”

I called Brad who said he was on his way and sure, he’d look at my problem.  Ellen and I now were resigned to a day of rest with some work on Li’l Beast.  I added a second latch to the most egregious door, the one that insists on slamming open around turns.  Tested out our compressor and some new fittings, they work just fine.  We unfurled our outdoor patio rug for the first time and folded it to make storage easier. I setup the fifteen foot sewer line extension.  In the mean time Brad had arrived and was working on Joe’s rig.   Sometime later I walked over to introduce myself to Brad and to be sure he didn’t forget me.  Brad works out of a small van that is chock full of tools and parts.  I was very impressed with Brad’s confidence, warmth, and the tools he brings with him on the job.

Around 2 Pm, brad drove up behind The Beast and we got down to it.  I said that first time we experience a problem with hot water was in the morning at a campsite what was closing.  The campsite manager had said the water would be turned of at 10:30 Am.  I left our line connected through the night.  It dropped to 27 degrees, but with our black and gray tank heaters we were in good shape.  However in the morning we had no water pressure at all, NONE!   The campsite water valve was open, but there was no water in the line.  The campsite manager had purged their pipes.  I had used our water pump, but had no hot water pressure at all.  Days later, the kitchen cold water stopped flowing.

Brad said, “yeah, the campsite probably ran 120 psi. through their pipes.  That’s not good for you RV.  First he checked the aerator on the kitchen sink and found some debris in the screen, but not enough to stop the flow.  Next Brad asked if we had a diverter for the under-sink filter.  We scrambled to locate the plug, which we had moved into successively remote locations.  With the filter removed and the plug in place, we had cold water flowing.  The filter was clogged. Problem #2 solved in about fifteen minutes.  I run with two filters one outside and the one that went bad.  I wonder how effective the outside filter actually is.

Next Brad tested our lines.  He switched the hot tank diverter to see how the system behaved. He asked how many check valves The Beast has.  Then he went to the lowest point of the hot water lines, the outside shower and turned on the hot water.  There was no flow.  Ah Ha! Brad said there is no flow out of your hot water heater.  It’s your check valve that prevents cold water back flow into the hot water tank!   I had read about this, bought a replacement check valve at Camping World, but I did not have the tools to easily replace the valve.  I gave Brad the check valve and he installed it in no time flat.  That fixed our second hot water problem.  Brad was very easy to talk with.  In fact we spent more time talking with Brad than it took him to fix our problems.

Brad said that had I called him to schedule this repair, he would not have been able to do it.  He has over a thousand clients and he is book through December 2nd.  Since he was here at the campsite to winterize Joe’s 5th wheel he’d take the time to look at our problems.  Wow.  If I had not mentioned our trouble to Joe this would never have happened.   The only other fellow I’ve met who instills the same level of confidence was Tim, the fellow who did our initial checkout at Crowley RV.  I tried to have Tim look at The Beast, but he was booked out a month.

Brad did say, “Call me anytime”  As he is a mobile service I asked, “Is a service call to California out of the question?”  Brad’s initial charge is $60 for travel and $70 for the first hour.   He charged us $70, waiving the travel charge.  He may not be able to help you out, but it is worth a call if you’re stuck near Foxboro Massachusetts.

Brad’s RV Repair 508-951-7607  he is a Full Service Master Technician and a very nice guy.

Brad’s Web Site

Nespresso in Massachusetts

When we finished cleaning up it was past 3 Pm.  We’re running out of Nespresso capsules and there is a Nespresso Boutique at Bloomingdale’s in Newton, a thirty minute drive.  Off we went. Our iphone GPS guided us flawlessly to Bloomingdale’s, once we knew for sure that’s where we wanted to go.  Ellen called Nespresso to find that there is a boutique in Chestnut Hill.  ????  My research showed 225 Boylston St Newton as the address.  We went round and round for a while  before realizing that Chestnut Hill is a shopping center in Newton.  It’s address is on Boylston St, Newton.

The Nespresso shop is on the first floor of Bloomingdale’s men’s store.  We found it with ease and after a short wait for two customers ahead of us, we returned a large number of capsules for recycling and took about 150 away with us.  There are only two Nespresso outlets in Massachusetts, both near Boston.  We collected 2 bags for recycling, via US mail, free of charge.

Tokyo Japanese Steak Restaurant

We were both hungry and asked our sales fellow where he would recommend we eat.  He mentioned The Cheese Factory, a Mexican place, and two Japanese restaurants.  He said by far the better one is on the 2nd floor.  That turned out to be Tokyo Japanese Steak Restaurant.  We love steak, but why eat beef at a Japanese Restaurant.  Sure, Kobe Beef is world famous, but for Japanese, we think sashimi and sushi.  We set our hesitation aside (fish at a beef restaurant is usually a bad idea), and ordered our favorites:  Hamachi Sashimi, Spicy Tuna Hand Rolls,  Spicy Hotate Roll, and a Dragon Roll.  All were very satisfying and delicious.

Our iPhone GPS guided us back to the campground.  We fearlessly  negotiating traffic circles as they are called in Massachusetts, watched for two police vehicles that Waze pointed out, and avoided much of the 6 pm traffic.  Waze is pretty amazing.  Waze records information from its subscribers to compare subscriber speed with posted speed limits to gauge traffic patterns.  It is very good at guiding a driver around traffic and it did not let us down.

“Home” now, we are fully connected:  our stabilizers are setup,  our antenna is deployed with exceptional reception, and we have fully functional hot and cold water.  We’ll check out the indoor heated swimming pool, weight room, and pool tables some other day.



Cape Cod, Massachusetts


Visiting Western Massachusetts

I had mixed feelings leaving Ed and Jean this morning.  I look forward to new adventures: Cape Cod, Boston, Martha’s Vineyard, and wandering our way.  Each will be exciting!  But leaving Ed and Jean is sad.  I would love to spend more time with Ed and getting to know Jean better.  Still it was time to go,  The two extra days we willingly lingered meant cutting out our trip to North Hampton and Rye Beach New Hampshire.  There will be no stop at Brown’s Restaurant Hampton Beach NH.  The mountain coaster and zip lining we did in the Berkshires, meeting Terry, and having another two days with Ed and Jean more than make up for the two “lost” days.


Ed Plays the Blues

Ed and I played guitar some and Ed showed me some of his prints.   He carves linoleum and creates prints from them.  He has a press in his “man cave”.  He teaches computer programming to elementary school children a few times a week.  He also reads about computer programming and algorithms.  For a retired guy, Ed keeps himself very busy.  Then he and Jean are building a custom home in the hills that is amazing.  The electric guitar Ed is shown playing, he found in the attic of their home!  It’s a good guitar with great action.

DSC07651   DSC07653

The Guitarists


Maxie Expecting to go on a Trip

After saying our goodbyes, we headed east toward Boston leaving late, much later than usual.  We had a surprising pile of stuff to pack back into “The Beast”.  Looking for campgrounds around Boston, AllStays showed three all-year campgrounds: one in Worcester, one in Rhode Island (!?!), and one on the Cape.  We chose to try Scusset Beach State Park on the bay side of Cape Cod.  About an hour into our drive, Ellen called the state park and got no answer.  This is usually not a good thing, It indicates a closed campground.  Still we drove on with a sense of foreboding.


Past Peak and Still Wonderful

Typical for us, as we neared the beach we made a wrong turn that sent us over the Sagamore Bridge.  In a futile attempt to  U-turn, I turned into the parking lot of a huge supermarket.  We needed some provisions and took the opportunity to stock up.  Back on the highway and knowing exactly how to get back over the bridge, I was forced the wrong way on SR 6 and went another five or six miles out of our way.  That’s no big deal, really.  Back over the bridge, we turned onto Scusset Beach Road headed toward the park.  Our GPS went wacky and kept telling us to turn around and take some other road.  Knowing better we followed Scusset Beach road to the park.  As we arrived, our McNally GPS chimed in with, “You have arrived at your destination”.    Good to know, I thought.

We drove into the reservation parking lot, which was practically empty.  I walked around the reservation building and found it deserted.  There was a map of the park with a number of designated RV campsites shown.  We drove on to the RV campground.

The RV campground is a combination of open campsites and some campsites sheltered by trees.  The campground is located alongside the Cape Canal which allows boats to go from the bay side to the ocean without navigating around the cape’s arm.  It is a wonderful place to camp off season.  We saw a few large RVs and some 5th wheels as we drove in.  Great, it’s open we thought.

As we neared a 5th wheel, I stopped, got out, and talked with Bruce and Vivian about the campsite.  As luck would have it, the campground is partially open.  It is open on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of the week and closed the other days.  At the end of December the campground may close until spring.  Bruce said the ranger he spoke with “was not sure” when they would close, but for now the water was still on.  We had a place to stay for the night!  My plan to rent a car and make forays to Concord, Lexington, Arlington, Cambridge, and Boston from a campsite were dashed.  We had no place to camp tomorrow.  Now what would we do?

Bruce and Vivian to the rescue!  They recommended a year-round campsite in Foxboro that is five star and full service.  They could be booked full weekends, but Bruce thought on Sunday and mid-week we would have no problem getting a site.   With the sieve my memory has become of late, Vivian wrote down the camp’s name: Normandy Farms Campground Foxboro Ma.   As I was talking with Bruce, Ellen climbed out of “The Beast” and joined the conversation. RV people are a great.  We spoke until it was apparent we all were getting cold.  It was a brisk 46 degrees with the sun setting.

We chose a site and settled in with good sat and excellent local channel reception.  We walked the beach.  The east coast beaches are of soft white sand and Scusset Beach is no exception.  The cape channel was “right ov’a they’ya”.   There were two late-evening fishermen who were not giving up and a handful of people walking back from the beach as we walked out for the sunset.  Headed back to Li’l Beast, we checked the rest rooms to find them open, heated, and very clean.  There was a note on the men’s room stating that the restrooms will be closed for the season at 10:30 AM November 1 (tomorrow!).  Again we squeaked by with a night camping as the campground closed.  This was the sixth time we’ve done this on our trip!


The Beast, Scusset Beach State Park

Back at “home” I called Normandy Farms Campground.  They are open.  We can chose our site when we arrive.  Yes there is a car rental close by, but we might consider driving to a nearby subway station and taking a train into Boston.  There’s no problem with sites this week, we can stay as long as we like.  They even have a concierge who can help us with our plans!   If we had not stopped to talk with Bruce and Vivian, we might never have known about this place.  This is our first full-on “FAIL” for AllStays.  We’ll have to revamp our campground search to include listings from a 2015 book.

I checked the Patriots schedule hoping that they would not have a game scheduled tomorrow.  They do not.  The Pats took the Dolphins apart last Thursday and do not play the weekend.  Good Stuff all around.

We’re snug as a bug in The Beast on Halloween evening watching Stephen King’s Red Rose on DirecTV.

Tomorrow we will head further east, up Cape Cod to White Cedar Swamp near Marconi Station.  Terry said the forest was like the “forest of despair” in the Princess Bride.  I knew immediately what she meant.  Also Marconi Station was one of two stations setup to test Marconi’s first cross-Atlantic radio transmission.  The other station was established in Maine.  It’s about an hour’s drive out the cape to Marconi Station and another two hours back from there to Foxboro.  The JETS play the Raiders tomorrow at 1 PM West coast time.  We’ll be settled in at Normandy Farms by game time at 4 PM EST.  We just have to remember to set our clocks back an hour tonight.

For more info: Marconi Station

I wish that Ed, Frank, Jim, and I could re-unite.  Perhaps one day Frank, Ed, and I will.  I miss Jim and think of him from time to time.

Ron       DSC07674

Another Day Older