Monday, May 30, 2022

All is Well in Wells, Maine

Well, here we are in Wells, Maine. Rugosa roses are blooming everywhere! Even in the sand!

Moody Beach Thousand Trails RV park  Highs: 60's, lows- 50's

Site: 308, back in, front section of the park. ATT--inconsistent, T-Mobile very good signal

We are settled in Wells...The Thousand Trails Moody Beach RV park is a very nice park. The front section closest to the road has two newer parts, they have the best and most level gravel sites to choose from, but there is no shade. That being said, the first site we tried, had a deceptive severe slope that was not easily visible and the gravel hid it well. We were not able to get level and have all four tires on the ground on the RV so we had to hook back up and move and unhook once again at the next site over. 
Wooded sites

If you want to be brave and head for the woods and nice shade, smaller travel trailers and RVs can fit just fine in between the trees. It's a lot tougher for a rig bigger than 40 foot like us to fit in the wooded section. We have done it, but it's no fun backing in. The interior roads/lanes between the sites in the woods are very poor, with potholes and random big rocks jutting out. C'mon Thousand Trails, please fix your interior campground roads! At least grade them and fill in the potholes till the next rainstorm.

The park has a very nice pool and decent laundry facilities, with a couple of really nice playgrounds and a nice basketball court for the kids. Unfortunately, people sometimes use the basketball court for a doggie meet and greet/dog park, because the park doesn't have one. Separate from the RV park, out front, is a big miniature golf course with go carts. It's super popular. Highway 1 is the main highway leading past the park that passes thru several small tourist towns (Ogunquit for one), and it is a nightmare to try and get out on it much of the day to go anywhere. Even on a bike, there is only a narrow shoulder for bikes to ride on on one side of the road. Lots and lots of restaurants to choose from. The Maine Diner, Hobbs Harborside, the Omelet Factory, and the Egg and I, are some that we have tried and liked. Right next to the Hobbs is a cool dock and pier. 

Murals and sailor knots tying practice are there, along with a cool buoy tree!

There is a nice bike trail which is a little drive, in Kennebunk, right behind Kennebunk Elementary School. It's called the Eastern Greenway. It eventually will go all the way from South Portland, Maine, to Key West, FL. The trailhead behind the school is about an 11 mile drive from the RV park. Take a left on the trail behind the school to start out on a shady trail. If you take a right, you hit on road riding almost right away. However, you can only go about 5 miles on the shady trail before having to cross a major highway at a light to pick the trail up again on the other side of the highway in Saco. Then there is more on road riding through a very nice neighborhood for a bit, then Sparky lost the trail. Eventually, you can ride to Bug Light Lighthouse in South Portland if you don't mind portions of on road riding. Sparky has not tried it because of all the on road riding. She'd like to go to the lighthouse at some point, because she loves lighthouses, but she needs better navigation tools at this point. Bug Light is modeled on an ancient Greek monument.  It was dubbed "Bug Light" due to its small size. There is also a lighthouse tour out of Portland that might interest some.

Back to the beach! Walking to Moody Beach is probably the easiest way to get there from the Thousand Trails RV park, as parking is limited and only along certain stretches of the public beach lands. You walk along a street (Bourne) to get to the beach, along a narrow shoulder. Cars appear to be respectful of all the beach goers. Along the way, you pass through the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge on both sides of the roadway. During certain times of the day, when the tide is in, you can rent a paddle board and paddle through the marshes.

Once you get to the beach, Moody Beach, the walk is wonderful. The entry way onto the beach is so beautiful with the rugosa roses starting to bloom and the blue sand mat just makes the colors pop.

The beach mansions along the shoreline are huge, the beach expansive. Sparky's favorite house has the only weather/wind vane on the beach. She calls it "The Lady of the Sea."

The beach is not usually crowded except for the holiday weekends. The water at the beach is currently very cold so few swimmers were in the water this past Memorial Day weekend. It was 50 degrees! When you look up the temperature, it says, Moody Beach Temperature and Wetsuit Guide, haha. That's a big clue! Here is the rest of the house...Isn't it a beauty!?

The cold water doesn't seem to deter the piping plovers, which are currently in a protected nesting season at the beach. They were out feeding the day Sparky went walking. Nesting season is April 1-August 31, similar to turtle season in Florida. Fences and signs are put up to protect the grassy nesting areas. They move so fast along the beach it's hard to get a photo!

We will be here another week, then off to Bar Harbor! Sparky is looking forward to visiting her brother in Bedford, MA this coming weekend. If the weather holds, we are going to bike ride some beautiful areas where he is and get some serious biking miles in.We will see you on the road, down the road.....

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Eldo's a Travelin' Man--again!

We took off from Indiana and headed to Kenisee Lake in Ohio (Thousand Trails membership park) for the weekend. The trip was uneventful EXCEPT--that our Garmin RV GPS said to take a left turn when we got close to the campground...That sweet lady says "turn left on Mill Creek Road"....NO! DO NOT TURN LEFT ON MILL CREEK ROAD if you are coming off SR 45 after coming off interstate 90 eastbound. DO NOT PASS GO. DO NOT COLLECT 200.00. You MIGHT collect a towing fee because you will drive down a little country road right straight into the path of a VERY LOW BRIDGE which is 10 ft. 8 in. in the center and there is NO PLACE to turn around safely without barging in a resident's driveway to explain why a honkin' big rig failed to know that there was a low bridge and why that said honkin' big rig is now sitting in your driveway. 

To be fair, there is a small sign on the right at the left turn, but it's easy to miss and more than one person has failed to see it. More than one person has traveled down the road and then had to BACK UP all the way back to the main road OR tried to turn around in somebody's driveway. Judging by the number of cones and barriers people have placed at the end of their driveways on that lane, we think the wrong turn happens quite often. And we are sure people have actually tried to go under the bridge, letting air out of their tires, or just chancing it if the measurements are close. 

But not us....whew! Eldo, being the great researcher that he is, checked the campground website and on there, they caution you about the bridge. But here's the thing, the Garmin RV GPS is supposed to be RV and trucker friendly, taking into account how tall your rig is (We are 13 ft., 4 in.) because that data is entered into the GPS ahead of time, and that we are towing. The GPS should never lead any big rig down that road. So Sparky is going to try and report it to Garmin.

So we get to Kenissee Lake, a very nice but small Thousand Trails campground. There are only about 113 sites and many of them are seasonal. There are only a handful of pull thru sites ( or 10?), so those are hard to get. They have a laundry, a nice pool and lots of geese along a small lake that you can fish in. Kenissee Lake is beautiful, tons of green space. 

We wish they would expand and add more sites, they have that much room! It's in the little town of Jefferson, Ohio. Not much there, but there is a terrific covered bridge tour, which Sparky has covered in a previous blog and the Western Reserve Greenway Rails to Trails bike trail. 

The Western Reserve trail is about 47 miles long, and you can get a wonderful ride on a trail that is heavily forested if you head south for much of the way. Sparky saw deer several times while riding. A trailhead is within 2 miles of the park. So hop on, and ride to your heart's content. There are some nice benches on this trail......And, the trail is in excellent condition....level and paved...NICE! Also, this county is home to the great Underground Railroad and there are many placards along the trail that detail the history of this historical journey. Sparky really enjoyed reading and learning new things about this area and its importance in history to the abolitionist movement in the midwest. 

Site 147
After taking a little break, it was time to move on again, and head towards Pennsylvania, to another Thousand Trails membership park at Timothy Lake South. This campground is in the Pocono Mountains and the road leading up to the turn for the campground once you get to East Stroudsburg, is a hilly one. Watch out for deer, the area is thick with them. There is even a sign on highway 209, warning of the danger of wildlife collisions along that corridor. This area is home to the Delaware Water Gap and Bushkill Falls so lots to do with tubing and kayaking if you like.

Sparky loves Bushkill Falls. Yes, you have to pay admission (14.00 for a senior during the week) but it is well worth it. There are beautiful hiking trails in the privately owned park so Sparky hiked one of the days while we were there. There are EIGHT waterfalls scattered throughout the park and a bazillion stairs. If you want to get a good workout, any one of the trails will give you that because there are stairs, and more stairs, some VERY steep climbs up and down. Also, be cautioned that the color of the wooden stairs makes it very difficult with senior eyes to see that there are steps down, making an elevation change. They all look the same to these old eyes and just look like they all blend in together. Sparky saw an older gentleman miss one of those steps down and he took a hard fall and cut himself. They really need to mark where the steps drop down in a few areas as you walk around so that you are more aware of stepping down. Just paint a strip at the edge of the board where it drops to the next level, for Pete's sake! Sparky made that suggestion after seeing the man get hurt, but they just said they'd take it under consideration.
One of the falls at Bushkill

We love Timothy Lake South because the deer wander through the campground. We found a site at the back of the park that borders a meadow where the deer travel back and forth from the campground to the meadow. Sure enough, the first night we were there, a big doe came grazing through the area, right past Eldo! 

The second night, again, another doe came loping right past Sparky! She's heading right this way!

Timothy Lake South is an older campground. Lots of seasonal/annual campers sprinkled in the back in sites. It's heavily wooded in a lot of the park, so pulling in or backing in requires keeping a good eye out for low overhanging branches or sideswipers (low bushes). Nice pool, decent laundry room but not much shopping available in the area. The Pocono area--E. Stroudsburg, is definitely on the downswing. It used to be THE honeymoon destination many years ago. Buildings are looking tired and run down and former tourist attractions have shuttered their doors. But the greenery--the beautiful trees, the wildflowers this spring, it's gorgeous!

There is a bike trail in the area, called the McDade Recreational Trail. It is a rough gravel trail in many parts, with some steep elevation changes. Check it out on the All Trails app. Sparky didn't ride it this time, as we were only there for two nights.

Two days passed quickly by, and it was time to move on again, this time for a distance of about 335 miles, which is a six hour drive with fuel stops and many construction projects along the route. Diesel was running about 6.39 or more per gallon along the way--ouch! But it was available, and no signs of a shortage. Whew! And here we are, in Wells, Maine, a 30 minute walk to the ocean, and a beautiful area with another bike trail!  We will be here two weeks before moving on to two weeks in Bar Harbor, Maine, then back to Wells.

See you in a few days after we get settled.....bye for now.....

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Fender Bender Repair and a Busy Time

Elkhart, IN   High: 88   Low: 55. AT&T excellent, 5G in the city

We are at T******* RV Resort.....heh, heh, heh..."Mootchdocking" with family in Indiana for a few days...We have water and electric and a super deluxe shower house! With a BATHTUB! AND SUPER HOT WATER! (That's Eldy's son's house), haha.  Sparky has been waiting MONTHS to have a hot, hot tub bath and soak in Epson salts for all her aches and pains, and boy, does the old body feel better getting to take a couple of them a few days in a row. Lots of people are shower people. Sparky is a bonafide true TUBBER and has been all her life.

We are in a holding pattern to get to Lippert (the slide component/chassis/other stuff) to get our balky slide fixed. They do have mobile RV tech service for their products, but it's super expensive. So we will have to take the rig in for repairs and wait on it. Hopefully, it will be a one day job so we don't have to find a hotel to spend the night. Sigh.... 

In the meantime, Sparky is back to doing a little landscaping, and itching to get back on the zero turn lawnmower, but it's been too rainy to help out. Sparky likes using the weed whacker almost as much, so she is doing some of that and pulling weeds for exercise. Eldy's son has woods behind his house and LOTS of birds flying by. A robin is  sitting on a nest in a forsythia bush and flies away some times. Sparky caught the nest while mama bird was out on her rounds and got this photo. 

Since she has ridden some of the Pumpkinvine Bike Trail from the OTHER side of Elkhart, and a spur trail or two. A lot of the spur trails are through ample sidewalks but residential and industrial areas, so a totally different experience and not as pretty till you get to Abshire Park in Goshen, heading northeast (Sparky had to ask Eldo for the direction, haha) and get back on the true Pumpkinvine Trail that is forest and farmlands. Lots of beautiful trees blooming in spring in Indiana right now, ornamental pears (the white flowered trees) and flowering quince--the deep reddish pink tree in the photo. GORGEOUS! 

Trillium by the hundreds!
If you ride the Pumpkinvine from end to end, it is currently 17 miles one way from Abshire Park, Goshen, to the trailhead in Shipshewanna, downtown off Depot Street. The trail head USED to be in a parking lot just down the street from the elementary school but a little over a mile has been added to take you right to the heart of downtown Shipshewanna. Sparky did the 34 miles from one end to the other couple of days ago, and it was a fantastic ride....perfect temperatures in the high fifties to low sixties, sunny day....and wonderful to see the Amish in their Sunday black and white best, walking together in families, or riding their bikes back home from services. The wildflowers are outstanding this time of year along the trail. Hundreds, maybe thousands of trilliums line the trail, last week there were none to be seen! And if you are lucky, the bison might be out grazing. Bison???? Yep, there is a small herd right outside one of the trailer factories between Goshen and Middlebury. Never would think you would see bison grazing in Amish country in Indiana, would you?

And, if you are riding between Goshen and Middlebury, you can stop off for a delicious ice cream treat at Mooey's. There is a sign advertising the ice cream shop right on the trail, shortly after you have crossed over from the temporary end of the trail past Middlebury, and taken the .7 mile jog onto the county roads to pick up the trail again. Sparky has always wondered about the shop and finally stopped. It's fairly new and opened in 2020. It was terrific! Besides wonderful flavors of ice cream being offered, it's the Amish neighborhood popular stop as well, so you will see lots of Amish or Mennonite folks standing around, waiting for ice cream, and horse drawn buggies or carts hitched to the hitching posts. It's a farm with an ice cream stand! Great cheeseburgers, too. 

Back to another part of the trail, the Maple Leaf Greenway through Elkhart. There are some interesting sights even in a residential area. Some cool artwork on the Goshen Water Treatment plant....

If you visit Elkhart, you will hear the sounds of trains and their horns all over town. No matter where you are. That's because Elkhart is the second largest train yard in the nation! It used to be the largest. You might have trouble crossing train tracks without having to wait on a train in the city and surrounding areas. For a LONG time. Trains sometimes block the tracks and sit for hours, many trains blocking many different track locations because of train yard logistics. There have been instances of trains blocking the tracks for more than 20 hours. What to do if that happens if you don't know the streets to get around the train tracks?

Study the graffiti, the protests and messages, on the side of the rail cars maybe. Just kidding. But Sparky thinks some of the train graffiti is beautiful. Some of it is crudely drawn, others seem to have been done by professionals. She knows, it's vandalism, it's dangerous that they do it and illegal, maybe it's gang related stuff, but she still thinks it's cool. It's hard to read, anyway, but the color usage and the imaginative way the letters and messages are portrayed, is a form of art, in her humble opinion. Let's face it, train cars are ugly! Having said that, Sparky went and did a little research on train graffiti, and after reading a bit, she is tempering her feelings about it based on her ignorance.

Sparky found out that train graffiti sometimes covers up important information such as who owns the freight car, how much it can carry, dimensions, safety information and maintenance data. If the graffiti covers that, railroad workers and shippers lose important information, deliveries get slowed down, maybe an accident occurs. Some railroad companies try a special paint by Sherwin-Williams, called Anti Graffiti Coating, which repels paint, spray can paint, and permanent markers and makes graffiti easier to wash off. By the looks of LOADS of freight cars with most of them covered in graffiti on the lower levels, the railroads are losing the battle or it's too expensive to repaint the trains.

Sparky always thought that these "fly by night" artists were using spray cans from the local hardware store. Probably not. There's  a whole industry devoted to graffiti supplies. Just do an internet search on that, you should get over 20 million hits. Supply stores sell everything graffiti related-among other things- duffel bags designed to hold LOTS of spray cans and special tips for the cans to create a variety of fills and lines. Sounds like cake decorating!

On to graduation weekend! Eldy's granddaughter, Cate, graduated from college this past weekend. So off we went to Illinois to celebrate her success.

It's always wonderful to see your grandchildren grow up and successfully complete a stage in life--with honors, no less! 
Cate and her mom and dad

The rest of the visit in Elkhart was spent visiting with family and fixing a few things on the rig--like our busted fender on the RV. We managed to find a replacement fender and got the old damaged one off (from the tire blowout last fall) without too much of a problem except for the residue left behind from Sparky's overzealous duct tape job. Looks like a tough job! Good old duct tape-- it sure held the fender on for awhile. Gonna try Goo Gone, a light heat gun (crafter one) and a plastic credit card. We will let you know how that works out!
Well, I'll be darned. It worked out pretty well! Sparky ended up using a hair dryer instead, an old credit card and the Goo Gone adhesive removal product. She would like to warn anybody that uses Goo Gone that it did affect the paint a left a little hazy finish on the panel. You barely see it unless you look close. We're hoping that some wax and a bit of polishing will get rid of that.

We put the new fender on with the help of Eldy's son, 
Brian. There were some foam pieces that were on the back side of the old fender, sort of like bumper pads, that the screw went through. They were ripped and torn, so Sparky whipped out some black adhesive craft foam, spliced three long strips together, then cut them into little rectangle pieces to sit behind the screws. We think they are intended to buffer the movement between the fender and the side of the rig at the screw joints, as we are bouncing down the road. Lastly, we put silicone caulk in the seam between the rig and the fender to reduce wind getting in between the panel space and the fender, and it's done! Tada!

After a peaceful week with family and visiting with the chickens Brian is raising in an amazing coop he built, we headed back to Twin Mills. As much as we love staying at Camp T*******, we don't want to overextend our stay and we don't have sewer hookups, so it's time to let the family have some breathing room and prepare for heading to Lippert in Elkhart, IN for slide diagnostics and possible repairs. We will see family again in October..... 

Hopefully, the awful heat that is plaguing some parts of the country now before summer even gets here, is not going to be how the summer will be in Maine where we are heading in a couple of weeks! Our main worry for now is that we have heard there is a diesel shortage on the east coast, and the price of fuel is over 6.00 a gallon! We debated back and forth about staying in the midwest for the summer, but there are fewer membership parks here, and the temps will be HOT, so we think we are going to go ahead with our plans to get to Maine. We will have to be super cautious about watching our fuel tank, as it is a small one on the truck. Big truck, small fuel tank, 36 gallons for our big dually, go figure. Guess Fords come with bigger fuel tanks, but it's still going to be an arm and a leg regardless of whether you have a Ford or a Dodge Ram for filling up. See you down the road!

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Why We Do What We Do....

Sometimes people must wonder, "Why would you sell your house and everything in it and go traipsing across the country in the confines of a an RV?" We have a lot of reasons. Eldo loves traveling. He loves to research and plan our trips, although not as far out as we have to do now. Sparky also loves traveling and seeing new parts of the country. Our families are spread all over the US. We see them more now than we did before. We love seeing our country in new and different ways each time we cross it and we love having our home with us wherever we land vs. staying in hotels and sleeping in strange beds every night. Some people keep their homes as a home base, others like us, sell it and take off for new adventures. 

We love meeting wonderful people. It's not difficult to make new friends RVing, and believe it or not, you DO see them again. RVers are especially open to getting to know you if you want to reach out and chat.  They are also more than willing to help you if you are having any kind of problems while on the road. They come over and offer to help, they don't wait for you to ask. They loan you tools. They share resources. We compare notes about where to stay and where NOT to stay. We met two wonderful couples while at Twin Mills, and our paths are going to cross again in the near future.

ornamental pear
Sparky loves learning about the names of plants, animals and the unique parts of wherever we travel. When we get somewhere, and she starts hiking or biking and taking photos, she is always researching and learning new things about the animals, the names of the flowers, the kitschy roadside attractions and the local points of interest. She really loves exercising her mind that way. This lifestyle is great for someone with a short attention span, like Sparky! It keeps her mind engaged and out of trouble. (Well-l-l-l-l, I don't know about THAT, laughs Eldo. It depends on what craft stores are in the area!) Funny you should mention that Eldy!

By the way, in Shipshewanna, (9.6 miles) there is a Bernina sewing center, a GREAT one level department store called Yoders, all in the same building, Yoder's Meat Market down the street, the Pumpkinvine trailhead on Depot Street and a beautiful fabric store in the Davis Mercantile, the newest building in downtown Shipshewanna, called Lolly's. (And Sparky can tell you the entire inventory of that store! adds E.) Haha, not really. How about some homemade pretzels at JoJo's Pretzels, watch them make them while you eat! Don't forget Rise and Roll Bakery,  for THE best donuts in the area, Bontrager's Surplus in White Pigeon, MI, for RV odds and ends, and Hilltop Restaurant in Middlebury for great reasonably priced breakfasts, which is 18 miles from Twin Mills RV park and is a beautiful drive along county roads and worth the drive. For grocery shopping, there's a Walmart and a much better store, Meijers in Sturgis, MI, not far at all.

For instance, we are at Twin Mills RV Park in Howe, IN. We've been here many times before, but there is always something new to learn and to see, especially the Amish lifestyle as the whole area is Amish countryside and farming. We've seen a team of ten draft horses pulling a plow headed to the fields. We've seen a huge gathering of over 50 buggies for an Amish wedding reception. Seeing the Amish gather on Sundays at different locations for their worship in their black and white attire, the women in starched white bibs and black bonnets, the men in white shirts, black hats, vests and coats gets Sparky wanting to learn about what an Amish church service is like. When she first saw the buggies, she researched how they are built, how much they cost....little things like that. She loves seeing the barefoot Amish kids play baseball in the schoolyard while she's biking the Pumpkinvine Bike Trail, and that got her thinking what's a normal school day like for an Amish kid? So she might go do some research, or just do the wondering part, haha, Love the school bell on top in the photo below, but have never heard it ring.

Amish phone booth
Seeing the little phone booths in the front yard (Amish cannot have modern conveniences inside their houses), made Sparky wonder, how has the Amish lifestyle changed? Are they still living as a restrictive lifestyle as they used to, or are they changing with the rest of the world? The answer to that is complex, but the Amish are embracing solar panels for energy usage, their clothing has become a little more colorful, and there are other subtle changes occurring. There are different sects of the Amish and different requirements for them
On the Pumpkinvine Trail

We love the countryside drives that we go on, to get from one small town like Howe, to other towns like Middlebury here in Indiana. Spring is a truly beautiful season in Indiana. It's so nice to see tulips, crocus, daffodils, and many many beautiful flowering trees in this area--pears, Eastern redbuds and serviceberry trees at the time we visited. It's peaceful and a refreshing reminder to the soul to take time, slow down, and enjoy life while you can.

Well, it's time to go...We are headed to Eldy's son's house to stay for a few days, see Eldy's granddaughter graduate from college, and then we will return for another week at Twin Mills, then it's off to head to the east coast stopping through Ohio and Pennsylvania to get to Maine. You probably won't hear from us for awhile. Sparky worries about repeating visits and info, so she will try to keep things fresh and new. If there's something to report, we certainly will....

Sunday Amish church gathering

Oh, yes...there is. The darn slide was being balky AGAIN when we pulled it in to head to Twin Mills. It came in part way, then stopped. Eldy had to keep one hand on the switch, and gave it a gentle pull and then it came in the rest of the way. But life is full of blessings, if you recognize them. There was one when we arrived at the park. One of the new couples we met while here were Shane and Denise Shelby. Shane just happens to be a fully trained RV tech! If you ever see him, his company is Coast To Coast RV Repair. We asked him to come and look at our slide, and darned if the slide didn't work perfectly. In and out five or six times, and it was fine. Oh, well. Watch. It will do again somewhere else, we are sure. The bonus was we became friends with them, promised to stay in touch, and had a wonderful night last night playing Euchre with them after YEARS of not having played. We laughed so hard, we had so much fun. See what we mean about making friends on the road? We feel like we've known them a long time, they were that wonderful! Also a shout out to Rosie and Mike Bottai, who were here for a shorter amount of time, we had a short, but wonderful visit with them, too!

So we will be busy with family next week, back to Twin Mills and the Pumpkinvine Trail for Sparky, then we will see you down the road. Thanks for reading, and bye for now.....Eldy (aka Eldo) and Jeannie (aka Sparky)