Saturday, July 31, 2010

Bicyling, Cycling...

We are staying at the Champlain Adult Campground in Grand Isle, VT. This is a campground that caters to older folks with no children. There is no ban here on having children with you, but it seems that for the most part, retirees are here without grandkids. It is very quiet and very beautiful. It is a little on the expensive side for no wi-fi and no cable--$44.00 a night, so we are only staying two nights. BUT, the views of the lake are amazing. There is a path right behind our site that leads down to the "beach", a rocky outcrop where you can get down to the water to swim in Lake Champlain. You can see the car ferries go back and forth all day long. The waters are crystal clear, the weather is fantastic. Temperatures are in the 70's this week, and very low fifties at night, great sleeping weather!There are so many bike trails and bike paths around the Lake Champlain area both on the Vermont side and the New York side. Lake Champlain is often called the "Sixth Great Lake." It has a surface area of 435 sq. miles, 587 miles of shoreline, 70 islands and it has 83 species of fish! So if you like to canoe, kayak, fish, or bike along it, you're in! There are so many biking brochures for all the trails, we were a little intimidated by how many of them are following state roads and country roads, and we weren't sure about sharing the road with cars. We really hesitate to get out on a road when we would prefer a separate bike path. Judging by the numbers of serious bikers out on the roads, that factor does not deter them at all. Maybe some day we will get there, but for now, we look for shorter trips in shaded areas, off the main roads. Our average biking exploration on bikes has been usually about 5-8 miles at a time round trip. Today, we discovered a fabulous bike Grand Isle, you take a BIKE ferry that lasts two minutes (10.00 a person) to get from one part of the trail to the other. This bike trail is on an old rail bed, and Lake Champlain is on both sides of you within a matter of a few yards. You see the lake on both sides of you for about five miles. The town of Burlington is a bike ride of 10 miles ONE WAY if you ride this trail. Unfortunately, that is just a little too far at this point for us just yet. So we rode for 11 miles round trip today, which is a record for us so far this year. Incredible views of the lake, fresh air, nice wind blowing, and a great little ferry service run by a local bike group called Local Motion. Enjoy the photos!

Friday, July 30, 2010

A museum worth seeing

Picture this...A Romanesque building with massive stonework, towers, rounded arches, eyebrow windows, and carvings --gargoyles, lions, etc. On the inside, a barrel vault ceiling made of solid oak running the entire length of the building, cherry display cases, and the most interesting displays of odd and unusual animals, birds, and insects initially from one man's private natural history collection, Franklin Fairbanks. The Fairbanks Museum, is a fun Victorian era throwback of stuffed dead animals and of labeled things in jars and glass cases. One of the coolest exhibits was one by artist John Hampson. Using pins and glue, he painstakingly arranged dead bugs and bug body parts -- butterflies, moths, beetles -- into patterns and pictures that could be hung on a wall. Each of his works used between 6,000 and 13,000 bugs and took 3-4 years to complete. His designs ranged from a radiant star to a rippling American flag. That photo that looks like a quilt design is one of the examples of the bug art he did. It's a shame you can't see the detail--you get up close and you see little tiny pieces of butterfly wings, beetle parts, and the beautiful metallic colors that are present in the insect world. He also did portraits of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington! When he died, his daughter searched for a museum that would take his "bug art", and the Fairbanks Museum was the only taker.

On to the covered bridges! Lyndon, VT, bills itself as the "covered bridge capital of Vermont"...and with five bridges within two miles or so of each other, I'd say they have the right to claim that. We got a little map from the visitor's center to find these little bridges and they were very easy to locate. One thing I've noticed about Vermont besides the gorgeous hills, mountains and valleys, is that most towns have a visitor's center, unlike many other states, where the visitor's center is located at the interstate markers at the borders. Sometimes the visitor's centers are like little kiosks, not much bigger than that, but it's wonderful that the little towns have them! Another really cool thing about Vermont is of course, the antiques. We have not been antique shopping, but if that was an interest of yours, there are so many little places that are tucked in the corners of ramshackle old buildings that advertise antiques, I'll bet there's an Antique Roadshow find waiting to be discovered! We have no room in the RV, or I'd be out looking for the next find! A couple more neat things we saw yesterday out on our country drive---a true blacksmith shop at the side of the road, and then a welder working out of his home's garage, who had welded zoo animals and had them out on display in the yard. It seems like many Vermonters are crafters. OK, back to the bridges..average age 1865...some original, many had tin roofs added because of the winters, and some redone, but they were still cool! Watch for Eldo in Lake Champlain these next few days!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I scream, you scream, we all scream for....

ICE CREAM!!!! If I can have my cheese, then Eldy deserves to have his ice cream. Off we went today to the Ben and Jerry's factory in Waterbury, VT, about one hour from our campground. I had an ulterior motive..if I got Eldy to sample some ice cream, then he would be willing to stop by and see 1)five covered bridges in two small towns within about a 2 mile radius (Lyndon, VT) AND a really cool museum in St. Johnsbury, VT (7 miles from our campground). Today, I will share the ice cream photos, tomorrow the museum in St. Johnsbury and the covered bridges in Lyndon. The museum deserves an entire blog devoted all to itself, because it was so AMAZING!!! But, we are on the move again tomorrow to Lake Champlain, so I better get everything covered today and tomorrow! Whew! OK, the ice cream tour...not very expensive, 2.00 each for seniors, tour lasts about 30 min., which is stretching it. Basically, you watch a movie about two guys, Ben and Jerry, classmates and friends since 7th grade, who started the company. After being rejected by college after college, they took a $5.00 correspondence course in how to make ice cream, and started from there. They were of the 60's hippie era. (All the employees wore psychedelic T shirts colored with "Peace, love, and ice cream"). You see one room in the plant, (no photos allowed because you might be a Hagen Daz spy, haha) where ice cream cartons are rolling off the assembly line and down a belt. They talk about different tubes and containers doing different things in the large room. It was very modern and very efficient, but very little to see due to the nature of the manufacturing process. You receive one small taste at the end of the tour, the choice for the day is a company choice. We did have a great guide--Bob, 6ft 10" tall, size 17 shoes, which added some interest to the tour, and a group of very energetic young boys from a summer camp who must have asked him ten times how tall he was. Bob was funny and had lots of enthusiasm, so that added to the tour. It is also a fun place to visit for kids..the tours are very well planned as far as timing, the waiting room is painted in bright, fun colors, and you can see the mood of the company is a fun one. Although Ben and Jerry are no longer with the company, they have passed along their desire to make the company and the world they worked in a better place. (see the photo on free trade marketing policy. The staff was energetic and their attitudes showed that they really enjoyed working there. There is a graveyard out back, made in fun, to show the flavors of ice cream that just didn't make it. After we left the ice cream factory, we headed for the museum in St. Johnsbury, closer to home. It was called the Fairbanks Museum, and the Romanesque architecture both inside and out was incredible. Then we covered the covered bridges...they were old, some in very poor shape, and would be much more picturesque in the fall! I'll show you the best bridge tomorrow...Stay tuned for the museum blog! Honey, how about a "Vermonster"? Ben and Jerry's recipe for an ice cream sundae (for real): 20 scoops of ice cream, 1 fudge brownie (aw, c'mon fellas, only ONE?) 4 bananas, 3 cookies, 4 toppings (your choice), 4 ladles of hot fudge, whipped cream and marshmallows...only 14,000 calories and 5000 grams of fat. (price? didn't see it, sorry!)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

To Market, To Market...

Just had to try one of those local farm markets today, what a great way to get to know the town and townspeople! Quite a few vendors at the Danville, VT farm market today...Jasper Hill cheese (delicious!, Gourmet Gardens, Palm Cottage North (fiber artist--that's what I'd like to become in my retirement, a fiber artist) Dye your own wool, rug hooking, punch needle hooking and rug crafts...there's something about being in the countryside of Vermont that brings out the crafter in me. It could be because I've seen the crafts of the local people, which are fabulous, and it just makes you want to set your hand to making something! I saw an elderly gentleman with oxygen hose attached, knitting socks, he makes sweaters, too. Saw all kinds of different sorts of vegetables--purple broccoli, golden yellow all looked wonderful--much of it was certified organic..we talked for a long time to a lady with a produce stand about traveling in Alaska, she lived there for 19 years, I think she said. We bought some of the most beautiful tomatoes from yet another stand and a little 6 year old girl was helping her mother AND making correct change as well! As one customer said, "You go, girl!" There was an entertainer, a man who was singing wonderful songs and they seemed to be his own writings...delightful, breezy day at the farm market in the center of town. Home again, home again, jiggedy jig....

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A "Gorge-ous" Walk to Remember

We are drawn back to the White Mountains today, which are 45 min. away from the Sugar Ridge Campground in Vermont. We decided to explore Franconia Notch State Park. It is a spectacular mountain pass with a parkway winding between two mountain ranges. The Flume Gorge and Cannon Mountain (approx. 4180 ft. high) are the star attractions here. Eldy decided he wanted to ride the tram to the top of the mountain. Guess it wasn't too scary the time we rode the ski lift without the bar down as he wanted to ascend the mountain in this tram. Enclosed car, brand new brake system and completely overhauled this year, I can go for that...24.00 a person gets you a tram ride to the top of the mountain and the observatory up at the summit, AND a paid ticket to traverse the walkway along the Flume Gorge, about 5 miles further down the highway. There are several trails around the mountain's summit if you feel adventuresome. (We weren't quite up to it today) Some sad news to report today---the Old Man in the Mountain's craggy granite face (Great Stone Face) is no longer there, he "died" in 2003, when erosion and water forces chemically eroded the five ledges naturally arranged to form a man's profile. I remember seeing something about this when I was younger, but it's a really big deal here in Vermont. There's a whole museum devoted to the "passing" of the historic site. On to the Flume Gorge...AMAZING!!! The Flume Gorge was discovered in 1808 by a 93 year old woman who went fishing and look what she found! It is a natural gorge with beautiful waterfalls, vistas and covered bridges. We are starting to feel like New Hampshire is one of our country's most beautiful states and we've only been to MA, ME, VT, and NH so far! ou could take a photo one right after another as you drive through the countryside. We went back to the old time general store in West Danville to mail some things and pick up a couple of things. Joe's Pond General Store--that's where the post office boxes are more than 100 years old and they have combination locks on them. It was a great day with great temperatures, about 83 degrees and very little humidity. It's going to be hotter tomorrow,(high of 89) wonder what we'll do? I'm sure Eldo will think of something!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Just Call Me a Vermont Cheesehead!

We went for a beautiful drive along scenic Vermont highways to get to the Cabot Creamery, the Vermont company that makes great cheese...the tour was interesting and very inexpensive, (2.00 a person) but there wasn't much cheesemaking going on. they had one manufacturing line making low fat white cheddar. I thought it was interesting that they will not use any milk from local dairy farmers with any traces of antibiotic in the milk. They have to wait three days until antibiotics clear the cow's system before bringing milk to the plant. The guide talked as if antibiotics were only used to treat sick cows, and that may be true in Vermont, but you certainly hear about antibiotics being used routinely in raising beef and other animals. Who knows? Another interesting fact we learned was that regular cheddar is white. New Englanders eat their cheddar white, but other parts of the country want the cheese to be colored, so they use something to color the cheese orange/yellow. There were so many flavored cheeses to choose from, it was amazing! Chipotle cheddar, Tuscan cheddar, and many many others. (These were cheddars seasoned with spices) They had a ton of free samples which we gladly consumed and enjoyed, and of course, we bought more cheese than we really needed! While we were on our drive, we noticed not only the beautiful, photographic worthy landscapes, but that 99% of all roofs in this area are metal...(for ease of snow removal). On our way back, we stopped at a true Vermont General Store...a little bit of everything..including an old fashioned post office with old fashioned boxes. Back to the campground for relaxing and reading about Vermont, and learning about hiking trails and biking in the area. We were excited to learn of an 8 mile trail just behind our campground that was on an old rail bed. What they DIDN'T tell us was that it was an unmaintained trail and an old rail bed means rather large sized rocks. Our bike tires were not suited for this rough trail, so we decided to wait another day for a better trail. The weather is wonderful here...low 70's today, but I understand much of the midwest and east is cooling down as well....if for some reason, you don't hear from us for a day or two, don't worry! The wi-fi is a little iffy in the hills here, and our own air card signal is very weak. But for the most part, we will post something every day if we can!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Back in Moose Country

On the road today for about three hours...we are in Danville, Vermont, w-a-a-a-y up north, within 50 miles of the Canadian border. We are on the western side of the White Mountains. We are staying at Sugar Ridge RV/Campground, which seems like a nice campground. It's very well rated in both the Woodall's Camping Directory, and the web review site RV Campground Reviews. We have someone very close to us almost on a diagonal on one side, and our picnic table is right outside their living area window. The sites are not very level, it appears, and the roads going to the sites are very hilly and twisty, but we got in ok. The area in and around Danville appears to be an economically depressed area. Tomorrow we will see what hiking trails are around. Although we passed through the White Mountains on our way here, they are now quite a bit farther away and so we will investigate and see if we can find local areas to hike and bike. The Green Mountains are southwest of us, and I hope we stop off and stay around there before we most likely go to New York and look at the Lake Champlain area. We were in New Hampshire for a couple of hours today while traveling, it is a beautiful state, the mountains and the view thru our large RV windshield were just awesome!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Impromptu is the word of the day....

Well, at last report, we were going to go to New York. But, Eldy in doing his daily browsing and Internet research on this and that, said, "Hey, I think this area looks kind of interesting, what do you think?" My form of research as far as where I want to go next is, after hearing from my brother that Vermont has fabulous cheese, that was it for me, CHEESE! Let's go to Vermont! We just happened to mesh our thoughts on that one...that and the current roasting temperatures out in the midwest and east keeps us wanting to stay north. When you are full timing, you can do that...isn't that great!? We don't seem to have any trouble agreeing on where we want to go next. We're lucky in that we both like the same kind of climate, cool! I would think it would be important to lay out some of those things before you make a commitment to hit the road. You really have to have your partner be flexible and understanding about individual needs for space, entertainment, quiet time, TV time, things like that. Everything is magnified in a motor home, even if it is 38 plus feet! We're both flexible, right, Eldy?...We like places where you can go hike and bike, and be near water or mountains to help moderate temperatures during this hot spell. We seem to be ready after about four or five days in one place to go somewhere new...after awhile, full time RVers tend to spend more time in places, several weeks or more after they've been doing it for awhile. But we're still exploring...Eldy does a GREAT job of finding the general area we think we'd like to go explore, then he gets on the website RV Campground Review, and fellow campers tell you exactly what to expect from the campground you are thinking of staying at...I've done a few reviews myself. We also use Woodall's Campground Directory for different sections of the country. They rate the facilities and tell you what amenities are available. I am really going to miss the quiet and beautiful campground at the Minuteman Campground in Littleton, MA, but I can honestly say, I won't miss the subway...the oldest in the country, by the way! (photo today is view out our back bedroom window at the campground and a few extras of Boston visits) We spent today relaxing by the pool, grocery shopping and one last visit with my brother in's about a three hour drive to Danville, Vermont tomorrow, to the Sugar Ridge RV and Campground.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Still in vacation mode...

We are off to the subway again today...we drive on route 2 from the campground about 30 min. to the Alewife Station, where the red line takes us to the center of town. Overall, it takes a little over an hour to get to the heart of Boston, driving part way, then taking the subway line. It still amazes us that this beautiful campground, so quiet and peaceful, is so close to Boston.

We have been full timing for just over a month now, and we certainly won't be able to afford to continue doing all these fantastic things on a continual basis. After Boston, we will be slowing down, conserving our costs on where we stay. We hope to stay in more places that are at least 30.00 and under,we have some great deals in other locations that we can use discount cards for, senior passes, etc. By conserving more on where we stay, then we can afford to try some great restaurants and enjoy local tourist attractions now and then.

Today was wonderful. First, lunch with Eldy's nephew downtown, next we visited the Public Gardens (the setting for Make Way for Ducklings book, a popular children's book), which was absolutely beautiful, then we visited the Boston Commons, another park across the way AND we did the Freedom Walking Tour with a guide who was a descendent of James Denton, an inhabitant of colonial Boston. He was so much in character, and very funny, with a really great sense of humor. Great stories, much more in depth than the trolley tour. The trolley tour was a great way to get the very basics, then the walking tour was a wonderful way to get much much more information about the characters from our history books and the time of the Revolution. We got caught in the rain forecast for today, but the guide was great about getting us in and out of the rain and where we needed to go. We decided to have a drink at the oldest tavern in town, the Bell in Hand, which was built in the early 1700's. Then, back home on the subway..We are now experts on the Boston subway system, ask us anything you want! (just kidding)..tomorrow will be our last day, we decided we needed one more day to just to sit and enjoy the campground. We've been on the go so much we haven't even had a campfire yet!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Oh, the places we go...

Thursday, July 22...we enjoyed navigating the Boston subway system so much yesterday, that we decided to head back downtown on the subway again today to explore Boston today. I was born in Boston but moved at the age of two, so I really don't know my birthplace very well. We are really getting the hang of the we look at each other, and point to the direction of the different lines we need to get on at the same time, and no more chasing up and down the stairs to find our really is quite an organized system, once you figure out the tickets! Today was Trolley Day...take a historical tour on the trolley, get a free harbor cruise/tour ride on top of we did all that...We stopped off from the harbor cruise to see the WWII destroyer USS Cassin Young, and actually got to go on board and walk in and out of portions of the ship. Way cool! Then we toured the USS Constitution, "Old Ironsides"...excellent tour...interesting facts...55-65 cannons on board, weighing 6500 pounds each, three layers of wood make up the outside hull of the ship, that's why the enemy cannonballs bounced off the ship and did very little damage. The USS Constitution was in 33 battles and won every one of them. The destroyer was really really interesting, you really felt the presence of the 400+ men that served on that ship..their quarters were really small...the stories and explanations posted around the ship were very informative and interesting. I will post more stories and photos tomorrow about these tours, there was so much to learn and so much to see! We sauntered over to Faneuil Hall (Quincy Market)looked at the Holocaust Memorial (6 glass towers to represent the concentration camps with the numbers of all those who perished etched on the glass towers, watched street performers and then headed home. Final coup de grace at the end was a terrific meal at the Bull Run Tavern near Shirley, MA, just a few minutes from our campground. The tavern is an original tavern from 1745 or so...very reasonable prices and wonderful food.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Country Bumpkins vs. City Slickers

All right, the city slickers almost got the best of us, but we figured it out...the Boston transit subway system! Not an employee in sight to help two elderly senior citizens, (ha ha) Ok, I thought I would really use the age "card" today, as we have never ridden the subway before, either one of us. You would have laughed to see two educated adults trying to figure out how to buy a ticket and navigate our way through three different subway lines (red, green and blue) today to get to downtown Boston. We decided that would be faster than trying to drive and guess what crazy Boston drivers are going to do..they don't use turn signals and they drive well over the speed limit, so it's kinda stressful! I had to call and text my brother three times about the ticket buying system. You have to buy a "Charlie ticket" or a "Charlie card". We didn't know what "Charlie" had to do with our ticket or the difference between a "card" and a "ticket" (Charlie is the nickname for the transit system), but oh, they also call it the "T" hold multiple fares for longer periods of useage, tickets are for one way or round trip one day. Ok, next! We got confused because there was no simple mention of subway anywhere in the ticket buying process, at least we didn't see it. There were quite a few confused people huddled around the electronic ticket machines asking each other how to buy tickets. Finally, another lady next to us was asking the same things of us, so we collaborated. We must have tried about five times each on an automated machine before we finally figured it out and it spit out our tickets. (the transaction gets cancelled if you take too long to make a decision, about 30 seconds). OK, on to the tracks..take the red line (color depends on what part of the suburbs you are in, for us-the red line)-to the center of town, but make sure you know whether you are going eastbound or westbound to get on the right track. Somehow being underground sort of confuses the orientation for some...Then take the green line for two stops, then transfer to the blue line, but stay underground to do all your transferring or you will have to buy another ticket to get back in the maze if you accidentally exit out. If there are trains passing through, they block signs temporarily, and sometimes you have to go upstairs to get downstairs and around a corner to get to the right track. There were street musicians playing really great music so you don't lose your cool and panic. Everybody following me on this? I thought so! Now we've arrived at the ticket station for the whale watch. I buy the wrong tickets from the wrong vendor for the wrong trip because I didn't listen very well to my better half, and we get in a line for the historical tour by ship by mistake. Back to the line, refund my money, buy the whale watch tickets (trip offered by the Boston Aquarium) and wait in line for an hour in the hot sun to get on the ship. A word to the wise...It doesn't do you any good to stand in line forever to get your number one choice spot on the ship to watch for whales. Everybody else who came at the last minute will come and stand in front of you at the rails, standing the entire three to four hour trip, blocking your view was discouraging to experience that again today, on our second whale watch of the summer. I did stake out a spot at the rail and stood for well over two hours to try and get a shot at what we might see, but no luck getting a photo, nothing close enough. BUT--it was a good trip out...we saw four finback whales, one humpback who showed his tail, and lots of sighted spoutings. Unfortunately, the viewings were quite far away except for one quick finwhale, so no photos of whales today. Tomorrow we hope to do some historical sightseeing...the photo today is on the ship coming back in, with Logan Airport extremely close by, the landing strips are right by the water!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Taste of the Cape

First, let me tell you that the Minuteman Campground within one hour of Boston, is a beautiful, beautiful campground. The lanes back to each site twist and wind around and are kind of narrow, but we really didn't have any problems with getting our 38 ft. motor home backed into a site. There was a small contingency of 5 or 6 Prevost motor homes (million dollar coaches) that came in after us, and they are 40-45 feet long so this campground can accomodate them, too! Have posted a photo of our site, nestled among very tall, mature pines, and the smell is heavenly! It's quite quiet in contrast to the busy, family oriented, noisy Saco Campground in New Hampshire that we just came from. My brother helped us with some ideas of things to do while we were here..He thought of taking the ferry with our bikes to Provincetown,("P-Town") which is at the very tip top of the Cape, the "hook tip" of Massachusetts. So off we went this morning...the ferry was quite expensive, 96.00 a person (including our bikes), but the experience of Provincetown was worth it--the bike trail, the stores and shops, the unusual people we saw--Elsie, the 78 year old crooner that was a man who looked like a woman, dressed like a woman but with the voice of a man, singing on the street for money, "living out my dream"...are you confused? We were...not sure if he/she was in the middle of a sex change operation, or just decided to be a transexual. We biked over 11.3 miles, which was a record for us! Rich didn't know what the terrain would be like, and it definitely had rolling hills and some steep hills. The temperature was perfect today, not too hot, temporary cool down a little from the weather, and we did well, considering my brother routinely bikes 60 miles several times a week! We dipped our tootsies in the Atlantic Ocean, and wished we had brought our bathing suits. We came back from the bike ride and ate at Bubala's, and indoor/outdoor cafe, which was delicious. Interesting stores, cool little niche shops, fun place to people watch, nice breeze blowing through town off the ocean, beautiful beaches, an all around fun day...tomorrow we go back to Boston for some sightseeing and a whale watch tour. Since moose are no longer available for spotting, I'm now into whales!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Can you hear me now?

Anybody wondering how I can work on the blog while driving down the road? I mean, Eldy's driving, of course! We have a Verizon "air card". That is a portable connection to the cell tower signals. It looks just like a flash drive and plugs into the USB port on the laptop. Eldy is driving right now, and I am computing! We pay a fee of about 60.00 a month to use this air card/port. The connector itself was about 60.00 and you have to sign a two year contract with Verizon. The signal for the most part, is very good everywhere we go. Occasionally, we will hit dead spots when we are driving and we have had some very poor signals at the campgrounds in a couple of places. Service for the air card is very good in the midwest and eastern states but sometimes sporadic in the mountainous areas. We've heard that it will be much harder to get a good signal out west, where coverage is more sparse. When we hit the campground and get set up, we usually use a combination of the air card or free wi-fi that's offered by the campground (sometimes the wi-fi is a lot speedier). However, we don't use wi-fi for personal stuff like banking and sensitive information. We have a router in our camper, that is specially for travelers. It's a Cradlepoint MBR1000, and it enables us to print and compute wirelessly..we can both be on our computers at the same time and print, too. It's about the size of a box of kitchen matches, so it doesn't take up much space. Cell phone signals have been more problematic than the wi-fi or our network! Half a bar, one and a half bars on the AT & T network back in New Hampshire in North Conway was an example. So you can't plan on being tethered to a computer, or always able to talk to family easily! But we text and email and stay in touch often with everyone. Technology is great when it works well! I've been able to research campgrounds on the web while Eldy is driving, and let him know what kind of ratings it has and we decide whether we will be staying there or not. We use RV Campground Review website to check out places we think we might want to stay. Well, time for me to get off the computer, and help Eldy watch for our exit to Littleon, Massachusetts...headed to the Minuteman Campground for the next three days.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Rock Surfin'

Maybe I'll start a (see photo today)..just kidding around was my 60th birthday. Since we did such a strenous hike yesterday, we looked around for some more waterfalls with an easier approach! We found some at Glenn Falls. This is on the way to Wildcat Mountain, again about a 35 min. drive from our campground. A VERY short hike, .3 of a mile, along the Ellis River, a relatively fast moving body of water with tons of boulders, eddies, and pools, rushing past narrow breaks in the rocks, then culminating in a 64 foot waterfall over a narrow path carved into rock, cascading down below. We could see the Ellis River all along the path as we walked towards the falls. This was a much more powerfull waterfall, although not as high as yesterday because of the forced narrow path of exit over the rocks. It doesn't take much encouragement to get me to clamber around on the rocks, so Eldy can get the right photo. Someone was kind enough to offer to take our photo, so we did the same for a couple more people coming through. Back to the town of North Conway, for some pizza at Flatbreads...a very unique dining experience with cooks making the pizza and cooking them in a wood fired oven right in front of you, everything organically made just about, and local farm produce used. Very cool management policies posted, and an interesting approach to dining. Culmination of the day was birthday cake! Yum! Today was our last day here in New Hampshire...tomorrow we are heading for the Minuteman Campground in Lexington, MA to see my brother. I probably won't post tomorrow as it will be a day for traveling and getting settled. Bye for now!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Water, water everywhere, but no moose

And that's ok, because once you have seen one moose, you've seen them all! Not true, really, we'd love to see another one, but we aren't going to go on any "Moose Safari" to try and see another one. What we REALLY love seeing is, waterfalls, and there is no shortage of them in this part of New Hampshire. Photos on top are Thompson Falls from yesterday's short hike, and the bottom ones are of Arethusa Falls in Crawford Notch State Park, about 35-40 min. from our campground. This was the most rugged hike attempted so far by us, and the hiking pamphlet said "moderate"...moderate in New England speak means "straddle boulders, try not to trip over tree roots, hoist yourself over fallen timbers that block your path, watch the beautiful ravine about 100 feet below you immediately to the side of the footpath dropoff, OR take two steps off the path and you will be tumbling down the mountainside, AND climb steadily upwards with no horizontal catch-your-breath places to breathe a little easier". WELL! At the end of the 1.5 mile hike one way, awaits one of the most beautiful waterfalls, one that cascades 200 FEET down from granite rock cliffs into a pool below...the same brochure says, "do NOT scramble among the rocks, the slippery rocks are quite dangerous" but apparently the approximately 40 people who had already traversed the path didn't read that, as they were frolicking in the pools and rushing waters, and clambering over rocks. Of course, they were about 30 years younger than us, most of them, so we enjoyed the view from a bit back. An interesting side note and this is true, confirmed by Eldy...he saw a girl change from her clothes to a complete change into a bikini, without ever revealing any skin underneath until she was completely changed. Shoo-uh, Eldy! (New England translation: SURE, Eldy!) But he was so confounded by that action, that I do believe him because he said "I don't know how she did that!" at least two times! We wish we had gone earlier this morning, as there wouldn't have been so many people at the falls by the time we got there, about noon...the falls cascaded down 200 feet, and it was awesome! We were really, really glad to have our hiking poles as they help with balance and placement of our feet. And yes, we did climb over the boulders at the base of the falls to get closer to the falls themselves. What an experience!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Home Sweet Mini Home

Ok, it's not a "mini" motor home, but when you think about how we had to consolidate, sell, give away, store and cram our belongings from two separate homes into what we thought was essential into a 38 ft. motor home, it's really a mini home on wheels. We thought we'd give anybody who's reading a glimpse inside and a little info on the RV. This is a Damon Platinum Challenger, 2008 model year, a "gasser" (runs on gas) as opposed to a much more expensive option, a diesel motor home. This is considered an entry level coach. It has some nice extras on it, such as full body paint instead of decals, an interesting floor plan (separate dinette area) walled off from the living room instead of one large living area. This was important to me, as I wanted some "space" to carve out for my own for crafts, or computing, just some area to call my own. The kitchen area is extremely small, and one thing we did not notice was the lack of pantry space and counter top space. I'm not big on cooking, so I thought that was ok, but in hindsight, I wish we had gotten a better organized work space in the kitchen. The fridge is extremely small and you can't regulate the temperature on it. Depending on how level you have gotten your RV, seems to change and affect the temp of the fridge. We have automatic levelers on the RV, you just push a button and two sets of jacks come down and go through interesting sounds and the coach moves both right to left and back, then front and back move up and down till it levels itself. We check with a level on the floor, to make sure we are in agreement with how it feels. From the photos today, you can see what our inside looks like. The shower is very small and you can barely move around in it. The sink is adequate, and the toilet is very moderately sized with a pedal flush. The bed is a "short queen"..some length is sacrificed here but we are comfortable with it. we had to change out the mattress as it was not very comfortable for our aging backs! There are three slides--bedroom, kitchen and dinette area. there are sliding doors between our bedroom and the dinette area. Eldy can watch TV and I can't hear it with the doors closed and a little fan running, should he decide to stay up late. This is NOT a four season RV...we don't have double pane windows which the next level of RV would have if we ever decided to upgrade. There are quite a few bays underneath for storage, but they don't pass all the way through to the other side because the chassis is there. In a diesel, a lot of the bays have all the way through storage. Diesels ride much better, but there is a LOT of maintenance with a diesel. We have a Ford Triton V-10 engine, and it has handled steep grades and inclines very well. We are towing my car, a Honda CR-V because it can be towed all four wheels down--not all cars can. I go through a procedure each time we tow, with sitting in the car, and moving through all the gears from park down to the lowest gear, than back up to drive for five seconds, then into neutral, wait three minutes, then turn off the engine into accessory position, leave the keys in it, get out, and hope I don't lock the doors accidentally (like I did the first or second time we headed out for camping before we were full timing.) It's been a real challenge to find space for everything, we don't want to get "tacky" with hooks everywhere! More about that some other day...we've added a few personal touches...I put corkboard on the side of the TV wall where there were inset panels in the paneling, and that's where our personal photos and calendar are posted. I've got a little copper tray with three herb plants (now, now, they are all legit!)--parsley, sage, rosemary and, no...just parsley, basil and chives! One of the best things about the Challenger, is that when all three slides are in, and we are going down the road, I can walk straight back to the bathroom or the bedroom if I need to. I can even fix Eldy a sandwich while he's driving!

Before I leave today, we did go hiking on a 1.2 hike to some falls where the zipline was yesterday.. I'll post photos tomorrow! Rain came in right after we got done hiking, so we came home, computed, and watched cable TV. It was a wonderful day to take things easy in the motorhome, relax, or sit outside under the awning (it's motorized and has a wind sensor on it as well!), read the paper, watch the kids on the playground across from us, and people watch. It's a busy campground, but not noisy. We are enjoying the Saco Family Campground in North Conway very much!

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Well, I thought we had seen the last of the moose, since we were in a more civilized area" here in North Conway, but I was encourage to see different moose signs that said, "BRAKE FOR MOOSE--IT COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE. There were a couple of these along ten and eleven mile stretches of road. We were coming back from traveling by car to the top of Mt. Washington, (more on that later) when we saw a car in front of us, brake and pull off to the side on a mountainous stretch of road (heck, it's all mountainous all the way there and back) and as we slowly passed the driver, I saw her with her camera from the driver's seat stretching across the seat taking photos. I glanced right and saw a big, black female moose standing a few yds into the forest. I yelled, "MOOSE!" to Eldy and he pulls off the road carefully and safely, and backs up a bit so I can get that elusive moose photo. (What is is that we are suddenly enthralled with moose?) As I get out of the car, and slowly and quietly make my way closer to the moose sighting, what I didn't see except for the people who pulled in right in front of us, and who starting sprinting past me to see the moose, is the 15 cars that abruptly stopped behind the photographer lady and us, and who all came out of their cars running to the spot where the moose was! Eldy says many of the cars stopped right in the highway lane,not even bothering to pull off the road and they just poured out of their cars to gawk at the moose, who by this time, was wise to us and decided to go lumbering off back into the woods. I got a shot of her between the trees, and her rear end. (lovely shot) I suspect that some of the many collisions the signs are talking about are probably not all collisions with moose, but cars rear ending each other as they rubberneck to see a spotted moose! Very dangerous indeed, and this was at 3:00 PM today, and not a normal time to spot moose (dawn and dusk, like deer)

Ok, back to the thrill of the day...We've been experiencing remarkable things lately..I'm sure this blog will not always be this interesting, but for now, enjoy! We chose to DRIVE to the top of Mount Washington, the third highest peak east of the Mississippi on the Auto Road. This road first opened in 1861. The mountain is 6,288 ft. high. We chose today to go because weather conditions change rapidly and today was the only predicted sunny day this week.They charge a toll, 23.00 for a car and driver, and 8.00 additional for another passenger. It's a VERY unique experience. They give you a CD to play with the history of the road and the interesting weather presented, and you drive in the lowest gear on your car all the way up AND all the way down, of course. There are many outlooks and spots to pull off and reminders all the way in both directions to cool your brakes and engine by pulling over and stopping occasionally. There was quite a bit of fog and clouds at the top. Temperature at the top was a balmy 61 degrees today and it felt wonderful. There's a little museum to check out and it was interesting to see the hikers come in with all their gear and special clothing. We took some photos at the top, but the view was more spectacular on the way up and on the way down when the clouds would disperse for a bit so you could see stuff. There were severe dropoffs on both sides of the very narrow road, this trip was not for the fainthearted and especially not if you have a fear of heights! Taking photos helped keep me from worrying about brake failure or the brake linings burning up. They tell you not to ride the brakes so I was having a series of mini whiplashes as Eldy deftly applied the brakes intermittently. (just kidding, honey!) Speed limit all the way up and down is 10-15 mph recommended. As a final activity for the day, I convinced Eldy to play 9 holes of disc golf (like golf only with special frisbee type discs) We rode the ski lift up to hole #1, and walked, rather hiked our way through nine holes down the side of Wildcat Mountain, where we did the zip line yesterday. One of the photos shows Eldy retrieving his disc from the basket with the mountains in the background. We are pooped! Gotta do this stuff while we are physically able, ya know?