Tag Archives: RV New England

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.

New Boston NH to the Mohawk Trail Mass

Milton, New Hampshire

We stayed at Friendly Beaver Campground near New Boston.  The temperature dropped quickly after dark.  I pulled the water hose inside and ran the tank heaters overnight.  The temperature had dropped to 27 degrees around 8 am.  The sky was overcast and threatening rain.  There are any number of routes we could take to get from New Boston to Charlemont Massachusetts on the Mohawk Trail.   Ellen and our GPS agreed that we should go south through Milford NH.



Downtown Milford New Hampshire

Milford is a much larger town than we had expected after seeing New Boston and other “towns”.  Yes, it was cold and cloudy, but we had to walk the town and perhaps have lunch at a cafe.


Main bridge over the Souhegan River


The Souhegan River looking North


The Souhegan Park, Milford NH

Most small towns in New England were founded on rivers or lakes.  Milford is no different.  It sides astride the Souhegan River.  If you walk across the bridge heading out of town, there is a wonderful park to your left. We walked the park, then went back into town.


1794! History Abounds in New England

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Eagle Hall, Milford New Hampshire

Local news reported that the foliage in the Merrimack Valley was at peak now.  The foliage turned a week or two later than typical this year.  The trees turn color when the temperature drops near or below freezing.  Record high summer like temperatures three weeks ago delayed fall.  We are now in the grip of a cold front pushing in from Canada.


We held off choosing where to have lunch until we had walked the town oval.  We happened by “the best pizza in New England” and had to stop in.  It was empty but for a couple waiting for their order. Anthony walked out from the back and asked, “Can I help you?”.  we talked about their pizza, the shop, and the town a bit.  Ellen noticed an “Eat in or take and bake” sign and asked about taking a pizza to go.  We settled on a fresh tomato pizza with added red peppers and pepperoni.  Anthony said he would hold off making the pizza for 45 minutes and that we could pick the pizza up later.  No need to pay for it now!   I won’t be here then, my sister will make your pizza. Great!  Off we went in search for lunch.  The pizza would go in our ‘fridge for dinner later.


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The Best Pizza in New England!?!

We looked for a prominently advertised Union Street Grill, but couldn’t find it.  Ellen stopped two women and asked about the restaurant.  One pointed out the location, almost out of town, the last building on the left.  Then she said, ” we’re going to the diner for lunch and they have good.”  We parted ways and found the Union Street Grill and noticed only one couple at a table. We decided to skip this one and headed off to the diner.



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Lunch at the Red Arrow Diner, Milford

We ate at the diner, though the tavern below the diner and under the bridge would have been a better choice.  They’re co-owned and share the same menu.  The diner is a typical 40’s place where the tavern has a warmer vibe.  Oh, and the tavern has a full bar.


The Tavern below the Diner

Back at Foodies, Abigail made the pizza for us while we talked with the owner.  He had owned two pizza places, but bad management at his other store forced him to close it.  He has the one shop.  The pizza arrived, looking great heaped high with cheese.  Then Abigail realized she had forgotten the pepperoni!  She took the pizza back and returned with the pizza piled higher with cheese! It was huge.  Our conversation with the owner wound down and I made to pay for the pizza.  He said, “I thought you had paid already!”.  “No.”  He then gave us two free sodas: one Lime Rickey and one Root Beer.

Heading out of town, we passed a still pond and we took these photos.  There’s a small commemorative park alongside the pond.

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At a Small Park aside a Pond South of Milford

Driving along there were cones on the road and signs stating “Beware Of Runners”.  Further on, Ellen saw a covered bridge to our right.  A great place to U-turn appeared on my left and we headed back to find Potanipo Lake in Brookline New Hampshire.  There’s plenty of parking near a boat ramp on the lake.  The covered bridge is over a stream that runs into the lake.   There were a number of people milling about that appeared to had just finished running a race.  There was a cone at the end of a smaller bridge that served as the turn-around point for runners.  As we walked to the bridge a number of runners turned around the cone and ran off.  Ron asked a woman, “How long is the race?”  She said, “one hundred miles, or whatever you want to do!”.  “how far are you going?”  She answered, “A measly forty five miles.”

It was a chilly day for a race….

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Potanipo Lake, Brookline New Hampshire

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Pedestrian Bridge, Brookline New Hampshire


Foliage at the Lake

Some time later we drove into Massachusetts.  SR 31 through New Hampshire is a wonderful road.  It’s smooth with minimal bumps or repaired potholes.  Not so for the first dozen miles or so in Massachusetts.  The road was horrible with an extremely high crown and bumps, shimmies, and shakes.  On par with roads in Indiana.

Some miles later the road smoothed out, but the high crown remained for much longer.   We skirted Fitchburg taking SR 2 west toward Miller’s Falls, Shelbourne Falls, and the Mohawk Trail.

Into Massachusetts, Townsend 1732!

As usual, most of the campgrounds along our route were closed.  Even those listed as closing in late October had closed.  There was one campground that listed November 1 as their last day open.  Ellen called and yes they are open and yes they have sites for a 24 foot RV.  We continued on SR 2 to Charlemont Mass. and the Country Aire Campground.    Art and Lisa greeted us and checked us into a site with clear view to the south, cable, water, and electricity for $25.  We opted to stay two nights.  There are a number of small towns along the Deerfield River to explore.  We’re not due to meet Ed O’Neil until Monday and we’re less than an hour away.

Setup went quickly.  We pre-heated the convection oven to 375, placed the pizza directly on the glass carousel, and popped it into the oven.  Instructions suggest cooking for 12-15 minutes until the cheese freckles.  It took longer than 15 minutes, but finally sometime after the cheese melted it began to freckle.  It was tricky getting the pizza in the oven and again getting it out, but all went perfectly.  The pizza was perfectly done.  The crust was crisp and crunchy, the toppings cooked through and very hot.  It was a great pizza.  We’ll cook many more in the convection oven.

That night it rained cats and dogs.  The temperature hovered around 44 degrees. We were snug in The Beast.  We ushered out another Wonderful Day, looking forward to our next day’s adventure.

The Flume, Franconia Notch, New Hampshire

Today was another, simply amazing day (10/16/15)


the Flume, F

It was raining this morning.  It was a light rain, more a drizzle, but it was wet, cold, and overcast. Perfect weather for photography and hiking?  No.  Still, we drove north from Country Bumpkins Campground toward Franconia to check the area out and drive through some of the local towns.  Going north we saw the turn-out for The Flume ahead and I turned in.  I remember visiting this landmark with mom and dad when I was barely a teenager.  I figured we could visit the information center, get some info, and continue north.


The information center has changed!  Not only is it the entry to the state park, but it has a souvenir shop AND a restaurant!  It is much more developed than I remember fifty years ago.  It was still raining and/or spitting when we entered the information center.  We looked around some then went to the information desk.  Ellen asked a disarming question, not your typical how long how far sort of thing, and we immediately had rapport.  Ellen asked about tomorrow’s weather and it did not look good.  Today was the better day to walk The Flume.

We went back to The Beast and changed for rain.  While we were changing, the sun popped out from behind a cloud.  Great! We headed in to buy tickets.  We delayed taking photos out front and delayed sufficiently for a bus load of “tourists” to head in behind us.  Now don’t get me wrong, we are all “tourists”, it’s just that I hate being trapped in a sea of people disgorged from a bus.  There can be fifty or a hundred people milling about.  It makes photography challenging.


After we got our tickets we filed to the entrance to the 2 mile walk along with the bus load just as a torrent of rain fell.  The bus load waited under the eves, we pushed past as the rain diminished and started our walk.

If you are visiting the Franconia Notch area, visit The Flume.  It is exhilarating to be out doors and walking.  If you enjoy photography, the contract between shadow and sunlight makes for challenging photography, and the flume is an amazing geological formation.


We dawdled at the first covered bridge long enough for “the hoard” to catch up.  We continued to dawdle and never saw them again.  The two mile walk typically takes an hour.  It took us 2 1/2-3 hours as we enjoyed our walk through forest then along a gorge and by a waterfall.  About half way through our walk the rain subsided and the sun poked through the clouds.   What joy! We took our time meandering through the park and soaking in the streaming sunshine.


We were told it would take about an hour to walk the Flume.  It took us a bit over four hours.  We walked, talked, explored Ellen’s camera features, and had a blast.  It was past four pm when we arrived at the gift shop/restaurant for a hot dog.  They were just ok.  The ones at the cog railway are much better.  We stopped by the gift shop and saw the same balsam sachets that were available at the top of Mt Washington.  I considered getting one there, but the price was pretty high.  On the way down the cog, I regretted my decision.  The scent of balsam is so Christmasie. There they were and we took one away with us.  It sits beside me now filling The Beast with the scent of fall and Christmas.  It is wonderful.DSC06523

As we were walking out we met Carl and Olivia coming in.  They’re the Surrey couple we had met at Country Bumpkins.  They went to Echo Lake before heading here.  I asked if there was an echo and Carl admitted they didn’t want to make a spectacle of themselves and had not tried.

We went looking for the towns of Franconia, Lincoln, and Woodstock.  Though the towns were founded in the 1700’s, none are particularly memorable.  There is an Iron works in Franconia that is noteworthy, though the town lacks the charm of Littleton or the industry of St Johnsburg. We went back to our campsite at Country Bumpkins.

Country Bumpkin Campground

I highly recommend stopping at Country Bumpkins if you are looking for a campsite in Lincoln New Hampshire.  This is our second evening here.  We changed sites as the one we were at is reserved for this evening.  At our new site, we have a good view to the south for sat reception, but the electric box and the water spigot are about thirty five feet apart!  We have the hose and electric cable to make this happen.  Still it is a strange setup.  After connecting and checking level, I fired up the Winegard Sat Antenna.  IT buzzed and whirred for a very long time before settling on the satellites.  OK.  The DirecTV receiver saw a problem connecting to the antenna. There was a small tree directly in the path the antenna had selected for sat reception.  No Problem.  I’ll just pull back about a foot and that should move the tree out of the way.  Trouble is, we had very little slack in the water hose.  Backing up a foot is possible, but not two feet.   With Ellen’s help, we backed up a foot and sat reception is all good.



This evening we  took  long showers, luxurious shower at the campsite.  There are only four showers, 2 men’s and 2 women’s.  They have those old dorm shower heads that are usually not so good, but with the water pressure they have, it was great.  Also their internet access is quite fast.  At other campsites I’ve seen transfer rates as low as 180 Kbps.  At Country Bumpkin bursts of 2.4 Mbps are not unusual.

Tomorrow we may head off on a side-trip to meet with Walt.  Walt lives in Lebanon NH.  We’ll chose someplace roughly mid-way and spend a day before heading east to Conway NH.  We have a rendezvous with a zip line on the way.

If I have not mentioned it before, Ellen is getting to know her new camera.  At least half of the photos posted on our blog since we left for New England are her’s.  I’m encouraging her to use manual to learn how to handle difficult light situations where auto just cannot cut-it.  Her camera has so many modes and options that it will take some time to be comfortable with all its features.


Stowe Vermont, Fall Foliage, Mountain View Campgound.

Stowe Vermont

The Beast & Dirt Roads

Our campsite is available for another two nights and we’re staying.   It was cold this morning.  The day was nearly schizophrenic; it was comfortably warm in the sun and downright cold in the shade.  We met our neighbor, Jean Franscios, who is an IT guy working for a tech company in Montreal.  We chatted with Jean some then headed off to Stowe.

Mountain View Campground, Stowe Vermont

The campsites at Mountain View Campground are nothing special. They are flat with full hookups and a clear view to the south for Sat TV, but they provide little privacy, the bathroom heat is inadequate to the task, there is hot water though I did not use their shower after seeing how water pressure dropped in the morning.   The main reason we’re staying is its proximity to Stowe and the surrounding area.

The folks running the campsite are very nice and always available, if needed.

Today we explored side roads north of Stowe.  We were surprised when the paved road became dirt, but we drove on.  We avoided a dirt road named “Mud City Loop” and turned back when the two lane dirt road we were on funneled into a single nasty looking lane.  The roads wound through pastures and farm land between colorful rolling hills.   Northern New York and Vermont have an idyllic feel to them in the fall.


Dave had mentioned that “the Mountain Road” was the place to find a restaurant for lunch or dinner.   The Mountain Road is the local name for state route 108.  After our tour north of Stowe, we drove to the town of Stowe.  Three main roads lead into Stowe; 100 North, 100 South, and 108.  All three were bumper-to-bumper with slow moving traffic.  It’s Columbus Day Weekend and an Arts and Craft Fair drew a crowd.  We looked for likely places to park “the Beast” as we crept through town then drove out on 108.  We found a small parking lot on the north side of 108 just out of town and parked easily.  This is a great place to park an RV.  The walk back to Stowe’s town center is short and there’s enough room for a forty footer or two.  We had lunch at Rimrock’s Mountain Tavern.  Ellen had the New England Clam Chowder and an Apple and walnut salad.  I had a Chicken Caesar Wrap with Cajun fries.  All the food was great.  The Cajun fries were very spicy.


Off the Beaten Path

Central Stowe is quintessential Vermont.  it is a very small and easily walkable. The homes around the town are set on acres of land, some set into trees in the rolling hills, others on pastures in the valleys.  It would be a tranquil place without the hoards that descend on the weekends.  Distances in Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts are short.  It is not unusual for families to drive from Boston to summer homes in Vermont every weekend.  Stowe has grown over the years as tourist impact on the town has grown.  There are now numerous restaurants serving weekenders.  I hope to talk to a few old-time residents and ask how changes in the town have changed their lives if at all.  Does the influx of money, economic growth, and higher real estate prices benefit them?  Is the traffic congestion “downtown” drive them crazy?  Do they live far enough from downtown that weekend madness is not an issue?  Lots to consider.

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I like Stowe.  There’s a home on the market that could easily be converted to a B&B.   I would never run a B&B myself.  I have no problem considering setting up a B&B as a business; hiring managers/caretakers, setting up reservation systems online, budgeting income and expenses. That could be fun.  I took a photo of the property on an iPhone, posted below (sorry about the reflection in the glass window).


Potential B&B?

It is now the next morning, 10/11.  Yesterday was a short day; we left our campsite late and returned late.  We missed sunset while getting diesel and restoring our supplies.  Luckily it is very easy to setup and tear down “camp”.  Often we just connect or disconnect a hose and electric cable, then run down our “pre-flight” check-list.  I always take a walk-around to be sure we’re good to go before starting the engine.   We’re starting that process now with plans to visit the gondola to the top of Mansfield Mountain and perhaps drive to Smuggler’s Notch.

Here are a few photos we took in and around Stowe yesterday.


Off the Main Road, Stowe Vermont

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New England Foliage Trip, Mirror Lake NY, Lake Placid NY, Lake Champlain, Vermont

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                       The Festive Entrance                     Inside view


The Gift Shop & Cafe is Warm and Cozy

Yesterday (10/7/15) we visited Fort Ticonderoga.  We did not post photos of the fort or views of Lake Champlain in yesterday’s blog, so….    here is a sense of what it is like to visit the fort.

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Canon, lots of canon

All but two of the canon at the fort were brought from the Caribbean in the 1950s.  One of Pell’s relatives went to the islands and purchased old French and Spanish canon for the fort.  He and the canon were captured by Honduran Thugs and held for ransom.  The ransom was negotiated and paid and he was released along with the canon.

The Pell family owns the land around the fort, the fort, and King’s Gardens.  This is the same Pell who instituted the Pell Grants for education.

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One Very knowledgeable Docent               A French Cannon

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The Fort’s Battlements

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Walking the Ramparts                  French Canon Close Up

We knew it would be a cold morning, but come on: 32 degrees?  That’s cold.  Later talking with the owners of Cascade Acres Mobile Home Park and Campground we learned that it had snowed a foot and a half this time two years ago!  “Be Prepared?”  NOT.

Cascade Acres Mobile Home Park and Campground, Lake Placid


At the Cascade Acres Campground

First I must say I was glad they were there.  We had no desire to push on to a KOA that was pretty far from the town of Lake Placid.  Had we gone to the KOA, we would never have walked through main street Lake Placid or seen the beauty of Mirror Lake.  The owners of Brookwood RV Campsite, Ticonderoga said some of the best BBQ is at Smoke Signals on main street Lake Placid.  We would have missed this place if we pushed on to the KOA.  We still missed it, but for different reasons.

A word about Cascade Acres.  Off season the RV campground is EMPTY.  Park where you want, no problem.  Well sorry, there is one little bitty problem.  They do not have your typical 30 AMP hookup.  50 amps?  Forgetaboutit.  What they do have is a pair of 15 Amp 110 V circuits to each campsite. Technically that is 30 AMPs but good luck connecting.  At a local hardware store the next day we bought an “in case” 110 to 30amp connector so we could connect to a 110 V circuit and carefully run some “stuff”.  Overnight at Cascade Acres I chose to use batteries and our generator.   Also the men’s/woman’s showers and toilets are not heated. That would be no problem “on season”, but a real drag mid-October.

All in all, camping at Cascade Acres was an “adventure”.  On the bright side, it was so close to the town of Lake Placid that all the negatives were a non-issue.  Walk main street and Mirror Lake in the fall and you’ll see why.

The owners were good to talk to.  They recommended taking the Cumberland Head Ferry from Plattsburgh NY to Vermont and described the route and said it would be about $20.00.  They were correct on all counts.

Mirror Lake, Lake Placid

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The main town of Lake Placid sits on Mirror Lake, not on Lake Placid.  It is a charming ski town and a tourist get-away the other three months.  We walked the town, keeping on the sunny side of the street which was a good 15 degrees warmer.


Smoke Signals opens at 4PM.  With some difficulty and longing, we agreed that staying at this lake until 4PM could jeopardize catching the ferry to Vermont.

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Lake Placid

We chose to drive to Lake Placid, the lake, after walking the town on Mirror Lake.  There’s a road around Mirror Lake, but there is no direct way to get to Lake Placid from the town.  After trying to find an “easy” way to get there, we both agreed that it would “cost” us at least an hour or two if we’d continued on.  We chose to skip the lake and head on to Lake Champlain and the Cumberland Head Ferry to Vermont.   We were told that Lake Placid was at peak color.  What we were seeing at Mirror Lake was near peak color.  The temptation was high, but we thought by moving on to Vermont we’d have better opportunities.  Then we have been in New York for at least eight days.  It was time to move on and Burlington would be our next stop.   There’s the Burlington Coat Factory and Bernie S. had his political start in Burlington Vermont.

High Falls Gorge, The Adirondacks, Wilmington NY

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I drove past a sign for “High Falls Gorge” and noticed a waterfall to my left.  “Should we go back?”  Yes! We found a good place to turn around a quarter mile down the road and we retraced our path back to High Falls Gorge.    This is a privately owned and operated developed park with a cafe, a souvenir shop, and a wooden walkway with stairs, banisters, plexiglass underfoot viewing platforms, and guard rails and fencing.  It is a bit pricey at $11.50 each.  A group of seven people were justifying not not going at that price. We did pay and were glad we had.

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The day was brisk but sunny and the walk through the pines was invigorating; breathing in the pine, feeling the mist from the water falls, walking the maze of stairs, and incredible scenery were well worth the price.

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Cumberland Head Ferry to Vermont


For someone taking the ferry for the first time be warned, our GPS had no idea where to catch the ferry and the signs for the ferry are spaced very far apart.  If we had not stopped a postal delivery guy, we might still be hunting for the ferry.  Worse still, when we realized we were “lost”, we stopped to dial in the ferry location on our iPhones, we both had “server unavailable” popups on our phones.  We were SOL until the postal guy “saved” us.

The ferry is well outside of the town of Plattsburgh, here.

Our GPS showed a 3:34 Pm arrival at the ferry.  We actually found the ferry at 3:56 for the 4:08 ferry.  Great, we paid the $19.75 for driver, 24′ RV, and 1 passenger and queued up in line #2 behind a sprinter van and beside two 18 wheelers.  The trucks went on, the cars went on, our line started forward and the sprinter van ahead of us was waved through.  We sat and watched the last few cars waved on from lane 1, the gates close, and the ferry pull away from the dock.  Crap.

But, the advantage?  We were first on the next ferry that arrived a mere 13 minutes later! No sweat.  Three ferries ply this route.  We were the first vehicle on the ferry and had a great front row view as the ferry steamed across the lake.   It felt more than a bit like I was driving Li’l Beast across the lake.  All I needed do is turn the steering wheel and we’d turn.  No, but it felt like that.  It was very cool being the first off the ferry too.


The ferry terminates on an island.  We drove the island to the causeway connecting it to mainland Vermont.  There’s a view point on the causeway and we had to stop.  The views are stunning.

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               Memorial Stone honoring those that lost their lives during 9 -11


North Beach Campground, Burlington Vermont

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Sunset at Apple Tree Bay, Vermont

Ellen found three campgrounds past the bridge from Grand Isle; Lone Pines Campground, three stars,  Malletts Bay Campground, three star; and North Beach Campground, also three star.  We talked over the advantages of each.  North Beach was closer to the water and further on than the other two and therefore a better choice.  We could arrive well ahead of sunset, settle in, and be close to the water.  North Beach is a bit of a drive from Rt 84 through Winooski, past a huge graveyard, through a college campus, around some side streets, and down a dead end road to an entry with an 11 foot lintel welcoming RVs into the campground.  We stopped well ahead of the lintel, we are 3 inches too high to make it through.

We were third in line, busy at this time of year maybe due to college and Columbus Day holiday? We wanted an open view to the south and internet access and were told which might work for us.  We were free to drive around and pick a site.  Just come back and do the paperwork.  We chose #105 thinking it had an OK view to the south.  We have good web access, but poor sat reception.  We do get good off air HD.


Postcard Perfect

As the sun set, we hooked up, closed up, and walked down to Apple Tree Bay to watch the sun set.  The view over the bay looking toward New York is not to be missed if you are in the area.  There were sail boats off toward Burlington, a large gaff rigged schooner sailing south on Lake Champlain.  The sun had not set, but it was below the ridge to our west.  The mountain ridges in New York were different shades of gray-blue as they receded into the distance.  Lake Champlain is a huge lake.

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Sunset Light is Constantly Changing


We are now comfortably ensconced in The Beast, snug and warm.

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.