Friday, July 29, 2022

A 6 State Week!

Our adventures this week brought back yet another childhood memory that had been locked in the vault that is my mind for years. I don’t know what it is, but memories long forgotten have been flooding back lately. This memory involved hot, humid summer days. When we were growing up we did not have an air conditioner on our part of the house. My mom and dad had it in their wing but the rest of us, not so much.

I still remember going to bed with window fan blowing hot humid air into our bedroom (I shared a bedroom with 1 or 2 of my brothers depending on the year). Hey, at least it was air movement, and we were happy for that. Other times we would have our beds right next to the window and get our faces as close to the screen as possible hoping, just hoping, for the slightest cool breeze to cross our faces. The other thing I remember about this era in my life was listening to the Minnesota Twins on my 9-volt transistor radio tuned into WCCO radio. I would have to hide the radio under my pillow so my mom did not know I was listening when I was supposed to be sleeping. Harmen Killebrew, Tony Oliva, Rod Carew… I had some of their posters on my wall. Mom had to know I was listening to the radio because at least once a week I would be frantically searching for a 9-volt battery because I fell asleep with the radio on again.

The scene that brought back these memories was when I rolled over in bed and saw Barb laying kinda sideways in bed with her face pressed up against the screen trying to get some cool night air. On the other side, I was doing the same thing. But there was none. The air was as still and as quiet as it could be. Just plain hot, humid and miserable. And it was not even that hot. Our highs were in the mid 80’s and it was miserable trying to sleep. I could not even imagine 90’s or higher and humid. No thanks!

After two nights of this Barb made it her mission to find someplace cooler for us to sleep. We really did not have an agenda for this leg of our adventure. Just work our way south from Maine to Pennsylvania by the 23rd where we will be meeting our daughter and family for a few days of camping before going back to their place.

The other thing we wanted to do was cross off a few states that we had never visited. Pretty easy to do up in this area without really going out of our way. We were able to cross off Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York.  I will tell you, that these states have beauty that will rival anyplace else we have been. The wooded mountains and valleys across these states is incredible. You can see for miles and miles on top of some of them. This then transitions into the rolling farmland in Pennsylvania with a beautiful mixture of farm fields and woods. Amish buggies along the side of the roads make driving a little challenging sometimes. They must have some very well-trained horses not to spook at all the cars that go zooming by them. There is a tiny (very tiny) bit of jealousy as you see the simple lifestyle the Amish lead out here. One cannot help but wonder what it is like to live that lifestyle.

Our favorite place was Wildgus State Park in Vermont. Very pretty, right on the Connecticut River. I was sick for two days, so we just hung out here and chilled. Well, I chilled as I could not get warm even with a blanket and 88-degree weather.  Barb did not chill, but she read her book. I broke out the hammock Jessica gave us as a gift a few years ago and Zoey kept me company as I read, slept and let my body repair itself.

Two days later I was raring and ready to go again. Barb had spent that time researching different areas, different routes and the temperatures in each of these areas. Her first spot was only a few hours away, but it was up in the mountains at some free National Forest land. It had a ½ dozen remote campsites with a 14-day stay limit. But when we got there, they were all take by people who had obviously been there well over 14 days. Most of the sites were well maintained but a couple of them were going to need some major clean up if and when the current tenants ever leave.

She thought this might happen, so she had a plan B location a few miles further down the road and we found a nice quiet, shaded spot where the temps only reached the mid 70’s during the day.

The next day found us again traveling south in search of a cooler temps the comforts of a shady retreat. We found it in the Catskill State Park. I was a little leery following the woman-in-the-box as she provided directions to more and more remote roads. When she finally said “You have reached your destination” we found ourselves on a one lane gravel road deep in the Catskills.

There was said to be 5 campsites in the area, but we did not see them. All we had seen so far was “No camping” signs. So, we carried cautiously optimistic. We came across a single lane bridge with a sign that stated it had a 5-ton weight limit. “How much do we weigh?” I asked Barb. “I have no idea”, she responded. My next words are ones that Barb will wonder about for the rest of her life; “Why don’t you get out and I’ll meet you on the other side”. She gave me a puzzled look and asked, “Are you concerned for my safety or do you think I am fat?”. I just smiled and told her I’d met her on the other side.

She looks a little sketchy!

Once I was across the bridge there was an open spot with a nice rock fire ring. I did not see a “No Camping” that accompanied many of the other spots, so I pulled in. That is when I noticed a little round sign on a tree. I got out to take a closer look.


This will do, this will do just fine. We spent the afternoon in the shade, letting the dogs play in the creek and reading. Another relaxing afternoon.

The next day we continued south towards our Harvest Host destination for the day. Along the way we stopped by Glen Ricketts State Park where they were said to have an awesome waterfall hike that had not, one, not two, but 22 waterfalls along the trail.

We were not to check into to our Harvest Host until 3:00 so we had time to kill, and it looked like a beautiful hike. And it was. However, the creek was more like a trickle and the waterfalls were merely water spilling over rocks.

Regardless, it was nice and cool in the trees and the girls got to play and the water to keep their body temperatures down.

By the time we got back to the truck, the girls were dry, and it was baking outside. Time to get in the truck, turn on the A.C. and carry on to our destination; Groveland Winery in Wyalusing, PA. 

It was hot, stupid hot, and we were parked in an asphalt frying pan. Luckily, the tasting room of the winery was nice and cool and dog friendly!

We each sampled 5 different varieties of wines and a charcuterie platter while the dogs laid on the nice cool, tile floor. This is a very nice winery with good, food, employees and atmosphere. A definite recommendation if you are in the area. Unfortunately, the two wines I liked were “Wine Club Exclusive” and you had to sign up and commit to several cases over the year to buy them. Barb did find a Blackberry Sangria she liked and added to our collection. 

That night was the first of our, what would be two, miserable nights. Way too hot! The girls opted for the cooler floor of the camper while Barb and I pressed our faces to our respective windows. We were finally able to fall asleep. 

The previous day had worked out so well for us we decided to try it all over again and found another State Park on our route to spend the day at. The nice thing about Pennsylvania State Parks (at least the ones we went to), is that they are free. As we drove into each, I kept expecting to see signs with a Day Use Fee listed but never did. Whipple Dam State Park was not as nice as Glen Rickertt but it had water and shade; two things we were looking for.

The water was brown and mucky, but the girls did not seem to mind. Nor did the hundreds of other people just down the shore at the public beach. Again, we let the girls swim then we read and had lunch while they dried off.

Soon it was time to head to our next Harvest Host; The Spy Glass winery. As far as wineries go this was a lot better than the one we went to in Lunenburg but nowhere near as nice as Groveland. The atmosphere and wines were subpar. I did not find any that I liked but Barb once again found something. A Hard Grape drink that she got a growler of.

We then went and got set up right on the edge of their vineyard on top of a hill. It was hot but had a nice breeze which helped keep it bearable.

Luckily for us, they had a brewery too! So, when they opened up at 5:00 we went there for supper. What the winery lacked; the brewery made up for! They opened the doors at 5:00 with about a dozen people waiting to get in. We took a seat at the bar and ordered a calamari appetizer and a pizza. Soon the place was packed with a line of people still waiting outside. Very good food and a good selection of beer to try.

Saturday was the day we were waiting for as we made the final leg of this week to Raystown Lake. We first stopped in Huntington to get some groceries and a haircut. After 3 months on the road, it was time for me to get a trim. This would be the first time in 9 years that I paid for a haircut. I went in and they were able to take me right away. She asked me how I wanted it cut and I told her, “A #3 on top and tapered shorter on the sides. Well, she just basically shaved my whole head and said, “There you go!”. Oh well, it will grow back and will be a lot cooler!

We then drove our remaining 20 minutes to 7 Points Campground on Raytown Lake. We are parked in site #191 on a ridge above the water and are anxiously awaiting the arrival of Jessica, Shane, Dylan and Kendall tomorrow afternoon. Until then, it is time for a little shuteye! 

Friday, July 15, 2022

Bar Harbor and Acadia!

 Damn you Tim Horton’s. Damn you craft breweries. Damn you delicious lobster in drawn butter! When we left for this trip we saw ourselves hiking like crazy and losing at least 10lbs each but I don’t think that is happening. We have not weighed ourselves, but based on the hikes to donut ratio, it is a safe bet we have not. And our desire to hike diminishes a little more with every degree the temperature goes up. Zoey can only take about 15 minutes of hiking at any temp over 70 before she becomes overheated so we have been going for more walks than hikes.

So here we sit, eating our donuts, drinking beer and getting plump. We made it back into the U.S. on the 13th without any problems. I was a little fearful of the amount of booze we were bringing back from the distilleries and breweries but the border agent only seemed to be concerned about fruits and vegetables. After a quick look through our fridge she handed us back our passports and sent us on our way. 

Before leaving Canada we had one day in the Yarmouth area and two days in Digby. Our Yarmouth day was a laundry day, after which we went and checked out the Cape Forchu Lighthouse.

Probably one of the most modern shaped lighthouses we have seen so far. The original lighthouse in this location was in service from 1840-1962. In 1961 they constructed this new "apple core" shaped lighthouse to replace the old one. It is said that this shape takes the wind better than the old style. 

We walked through the original Keepers quarters and walked the trails around the area where we found these interesting signs. 

After that was done we went to the town of Tusket where we spent a Harvest Host night at the Tusket Falls Brewing Co. Nice brewery but not suitable for anything over 35’.

When we got to Digby, we found an awesome boondocking spot on Sandy Cove Beach about 8 miles outside of town. Quiet, secluded and beautiful. We walked the dogs on the beach and even let Zoey loose a few times.

See that boat in the background of the picture above? Here, I zoomed into it. 

Our truck is in the upper right

There is some sea glass there but not a lot.

One thing that we found fascinating about The Bay of Fundy was the tide. The tide changes here are the most extreme we have ever seen rising and dropping over 20’ in a cycle. Totally crazy! These two shots were taken from the same spot hours apart.

Those people on the beach in the first picture would be 20' under water in the 2nd picture. We talked to a couple of locals who were fishing the pier at Sandy Cove and they said it is comical watching the tourists setup their picnics and BBQ’s at low tide only to see them scrambling to move everything when the tide starts coming in! The guy we talked to lives just down the road. He smokes fish for beer money and even gave us a package of squid that he had with him telling us how to prepare it. We stopped by his place the next morning to buy some smoked kippers and Pollock. He said he would not be there but to go in and take what we wanted out of the fridge and leave some money on the counter so that is exactly what we did.

On the afternoon of our second day we caught the ferry from Digby to St. John’s New Brunswick, a 2 ½ hour ride. The seas were a little rough so you felt like a drunken sailor walking around. I got a little queasy, Barb was just fine.

Once we got to St. John’s we spent the night in the Reversing Falls parking lot. Plenty of room here for any size rig. The reversing falls was interesting but not breathtaking. The falls flow normally when the tide is going out and goes “uphill” when the tide comes in.

When we got up the next morning we stopped by Tim Horton’s and stocked up on Timbits (Donut holes) before heading to the border. Our destination for the day was Eastport, Maine. Maine, we added another state to our “visited listed”!

Eastport is a quiet little tourist town, not crazy at all. We went directly to Sullivan Pier where we spent the day walking the town. We were able to spend the night right on the pier where you can see our truck in the upper left hand corner of this picture.

 We had a nice relaxing day watching the lobster fisherman load traps onto their boats, talked to the mackerel fisherman on the pier and visiting the shops in town. This town had not one, but two Roadside Attractions for us to photograph!

Dakota found some shade next to one of the trap trailers as we watched them load a boat. 

Did you know Eastport has the last remaining traditional stone ground mustard mill in North America? Neither did we but Raye's Mustards is advertised throughout town so we just had to pick up a couple of jars for ourselves!

Of course no stop is complete without stopping by the local brewery. In this case it was Horn Run Brewing. Oddly, we did not take any pictures. 

We needed a relaxing day before heading into our next adventure, as we were about to enter the fray of Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park! We had been warned by locals and other tourists alike that this area was crowded and congested. We had also heard that Acadia is one of the most beautiful National Parks you will see. By all accounts those people were telling the truth. When we stopped at the Visitor's Center to get hiking maps and information. As soon as I entered the visitors center my anxiety started going up. Did I mention we do not like crowds? We were in line for 30 minutes before it was finally our turn. I am glad we waited as we learned that we could not take our camper on the main loop though the park due to low clearance bridges. We could have taken one of the free busses around the park but the Precipice hike that we really wanted to go on was closed so we opted for a hike that Jim and Diana recommended. It was slated as a "strenuous" hike which is exactly what we wanted. We have some donuts to wear off! Plus it is in an area we could take our truck camper. 

The park employee said that it required a lot of scrambling and we should expect to stand in a "conga line" in some areas unless we get there early. We don't like crowds so early we shall be! 

None of our "go to" websites showed free camping spots in the area and there were no Harvest Hosts in the vicinity either so we opted for a campsite at Bar Harbor Campground. At $44/night (w/e) we thought it was a pretty good deal. We also took advantage of their free wifi, showers and laundry facilities. Better yet is the fact that those free busses stop right at the campground and can take you pretty much wherever you want to go!

Once we got settled we took the bus to downtown Bar Harbor. What a zoo! In addition to the normal tourist traffic there was a cruise ship in town too. We walked in a lot of the shops, waited in line for 20 minutes at a couple of places that we found treasures we wanted to buy, and walked the waterfront. I only took one picture the entire time we were in town. 

Not one of my favorite places I wanted to be. 

That night we set our alarm for 5am in an attempt to hit the Bubble Rock trail before most people were out of bed. The sun rises at 5:00 so we thought the timing would be perfect. When the alarm went off on Barb's iPad and we got up we were both puzzled that it was still pitch black out. Until we realized that the iPad was still on Atlantic time and it was actually 4am! Oh well, we are up now, may as well hit the trail! We thought we would be the only ones crazy enough to get up this early but we were wrong. Although not busy, there were dozens of cars parked at overlooks waiting for the sun to rise. 

When we got to our parking area we found we were the only ones there. So off we went!

You can go either way on this trail. We decided to climb up the steepest part rather than going the other way and climbing down the steepest parts. I think we made the right call. The trail started out pretty mellow as it descended towards Jordan's Pond. Not too bad we thought. 

Once we got to the pond however the trail went straight up for 0.4 of a mile. Lots of scrambling and rock crawling, I would not call it strenuous but it does get your heart pumping and the views are spectacular!

Taking a little breather

Another Breather

Of course Barb had to do one of her yoga poses along the way!

Once you get to the top, it levels out as you gradually get to the summit of 7,300. 

Then off to the side is Bubble Rock which was precariously deposited on a ledge by a glacier centuries earlier. Very cool!

The way back down the other side was very gradual with lots of steps. A lot of families will hike this side up and back, skipping the scrambling on the other side. 

That's it from Bar Harbor and Acadia. Now we start making our way south to Pennsylvania. A week from today we are meeting our daughter and family for a camping adventure with them!