Saturday, July 23, 2022

This and That and the Train!

Site 189, Moody Beach RV Resort. Highs: 93, 92, 88, 89, 88

Lows: 65, 67, 70, 62, 60, and sixties the rest of the week. AT&T hotspot decent for downloading, T-Mobile Mifi- better for uploading. Sparky puts that in because now people want to know, how is the internet where you are? As a general rule, campground wifi is TERRIBLE!

We are at Moody Beach Thousand Trails Resort in Wells, Maine for the third time this summer. We must really like it, right! Yep, we do! It's nearly free with our Thousand Trails membership and we are finding out some really cool things about this area that enable you to head out for other cool places if you are not big beach people as we are not. Been there, done that for many many years, lifeguarding, overexposure to the sun, etc. Not to mention, the summer crowds are pretty large at the beach these days with the 90's temperatures hitting the coast of Maine this past week.

But first of all, some quick views/reviews of our park. As it is in the 90's, we are glad for 50 amp electric vs. 30 amp that smaller RVs have to use. We are running both AC's but because we are in the shade in the back of the park, our air conditioners are not running constantly like they would be up in the non-shaded front of the park. It may be hot right now, but the Atlantic Ocean and Wells Beach (a 30 min. walk away), is still pretty cool, the water temperature is in the mid sixties. You might need a wetsuit for some serious swimming? This family is READY! That's a lot of wetsuits!

There is a big mix of full time RVers (they have the big fifth wheels like we do, or the big, rectangular box on wheels class A/ motorhomes--the other big guys) in this park. The weekend warriors are usually in smaller pull behind travel trailers or self-contained trucks with the roof over the cab--class C's. You can tell if people are seasonal/annuals by how they decorate their site because if they have paid for the whole season, they might go all out with landscaping and doodads. This one has an elaborate outdoor BBQ/kitchen set up on the right side of their site. They have a corner site and it is completely full of stuff.
Big screen tents or pop ups with removeable covered side walls are VERY popular. It's kind of like an extra outdoor living room space. Some put furniture in there, like sofas and ottomans, or they use it to stay bug free and put their picnic table inside. Speaking of bugs, there are very few mosquitoes or nasty biting bugs here near the coast AT THIS CAMPGROUND. Maybe because there are USUALLY ocean breezes blowing through. We love that! But there ARE little teeny tiny non biting greenish white insects that love Sparky if she's crafting outdoors. Those are just plain annoying! They just feel like you've got creepy crawlies moving around on your skin and you can barely see them. Sparky is swatting at little nothings while outside. Guess she COULD put on some bug spray/cream. (Ya think? laughs E.)

Being that we are partially in the Maine woods, this is a common way people are storing their firewood. Clever! 

If you see a gray container on the back of an RV like this one below and wonder what that is for....(Uh-oh, you may want to skip this part, warns, Eldo.)

That's a waste container, as in a temporary poop/pee holder. If you camp in a state park, or sometimes a national park, or state forest with no full hookups there will be no place for you to dump your waste when your toilet tank/(black tank) gets full. So you hook your hose up to this container, empty your rig waste via a big accordion hose into the gray waste container and then roll it to a dump station somewhere in the park for this very purpose, if you don't have a sewer drain at your campsite. You dump it down the waste station hole by way of opening up a valve and gravity does the rest. Sometimes we see these little gray waste containers being rolled by a truck down the lane to the waste station. They don't hold a whole lot, so people make LOTS of little trips with them while they are there. Then you are set for maybe another week or two. Sometimes campgrounds will have what's called a "honey wagon". That's a septic cleaning service that will come around to your campground and pump out your black tanks for a fee. (Sparky, did they REALLY need to know all that? asks E.) Well sure, what if they decide they want to go full time RVing? They need to know these other things that nobody talks about!

OK, 'nuff said about that. What about the train, you ask? Well, the Amtrak station is 15 minutes (with very little traffic, more if on a heavily trafficked time of day) from our campground in Wells. You can go to Boston one way (16.00 for one senior) on Amtrak, the trip taking less than two hours, but the price changes depending on how when you purchase your tickets. It's a little like airfare. If you purchase a little ways out, it's cheaper. We decided to take the train into Boston and have a little day trip look around. Sparky took the train AND her bike on the train to visit her brother in Bedford, MA, last time up here in Wells. This time Sparky and Eldo went to Boston. We were going to do the "Hop On, Hop Off" trolley tour, but it was going to be over 90 degrees and no AC on the trolley, just open air windows, so we decided to do a whale watch instead. 
The trolley with an "upstairs" section

What a day we had!

We took the 6:00AM Amtrak Downeaster from Wells to North Station/TD Garden station in Boston in order to have plenty of time for the 11:00 AM whale watch cruise.  It is an .8 of a mile walk to the wharf and the aquarium from the train station, very doable, and you pass by some terrific, beautiful Boston sites on your way. This is the Quincy Market entrance...

This is another walkway to Faneuil Hall Marketplace, an amazing conglomerate of shopping places and restaurants. We did not explore these today but they looked fabulous and fun!

Boston is a beautiful city with lots of green space....And of course, TONS of history....
A great mix of old and new architecture.....The part of the city we saw was very clean....

The TD Garden/North Train station was very cool...The TD Garden part itself is a multi-purpose 19,600 seat arena as a replacement for the original Boston Garden and is home for the Boston Bruins. It has quite a bizarre naming rights story, too complicated to mention here, but the arena has had 33 names in its history.

There are eighteen restaurants on the lower level. We had the best really rare roast beef sandwich (Cussers) after returning from the whale watch cruise while we were waiting for our train to head back to Wells. 

And how was the cruise you ask? AMAZING! We saw seven humpback whales, some pectoral fin slapping, a breech, a couple of fluke tails, a mother and calf pair of humpbacks, a blue shark, a seal, and a fin whale in the distance. The trip was the City Experiences New England Aquarium Catamaran Whale Watch tour out to Stellwagen Banks (an 842 square mile marine sanctuary) and lasted four hours. Price started at 58.00 per person. We thought that was a decent price for a four hour tour.

We saw whales almost immediately entering the banks area, a feeding grounds for many whales in the summer months. The tour guide was excellent and full of interesting facts. Did you know that whales feed in the summer months in the northern Atlantic and fast in the winter months down by the Dominican Republic? They can lose up to 20,000 pounds during their six months fast. When they return to the Stellewagen Banks, they put on an amazing amount of fat per day to gain their weight back. 

The waters are very green, rich with nutrients for the whales to thrive in this area. AND-- the waters were so clear and calm today it made for optimal viewing. You could see the whales' entire bodies before they came to the surface!

Mama and her calf

The cruise was almost fully booked and as the catamaran held about 400 passengers, it made it difficult to get good photos as the railings on one side or the other were so crowded at every sighting. But if you are patient and wait on the OPPOSITE side of where everybody is currently at, the boat eventually swings around or the whales change directions and you are already waiting at the rail to get your chance at some good photos...We had a fabulous cruise today....It was hot even out on the water, but it was wonderful to be on a catamaran, too and watch it slice thru the waters.

The aquarium is right there next to the docks, but it's a little on the pricey side, (32.00 for a senior) so we didn't check it out today. We had so much fun today, we plan on taking the train again into Boston next week and we are going to do the Hop On, Hop Off Trolley Tour for a little more Boston culture and history. Thanks for stopping by to read today...See you later down the road! 

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Sparky Gets Lost

It had to happen sooner or later...Sparky, who can't find her way out of a paper bag, decided to do a hike while at Patten Pond RV Park in Ellsworth, Maine. No big deal....check out All Trails app, ask the wonderful hosts at Patten Pond where some good alternative hikes are instead of fighting the crowds at Acadia. By the way, Acadia is a twenty mile drive to the Hulls Cove Visitor Center from this park, so something closer was more desirable. The hikes she found were only a couple of miles long, and loop trails, so she wasn't worried, neither was Eldo (What???? I always worry when she goes hiking by herself, explains Eldo.)

Sparky decided on a moderate hike called Pennys Preserve via Peter's Brook Trail, a 2.8 mile hike and not too far from Patten Pond RV Park where we are staying. It's fifteen miles and a 23 minute drive near Blue Hill, Maine. Hike through a forest, view a waterfall and some old granite quarries. Dogs are permitted to run loose after entering the preserve, which is VERY unusual for most public trails, but this is a privately owned parcel of land, so they allow that. 

Bug repellent? Check. Hat? Check. Water? Check. Check in with Eldy upon arrival? Check. Phone and the All Trails Map app that will track you while you hike? CHECK. (Key detail here.) So-o-o-o-o...Sparky has not used this app much because she hasn't needed to. But after starting the hike and finding the blue blazes painted on the trees to be sparse and not very prevalent, she decided to whip out the app and start tracking. The trail is red and it looks like this on the map:
You click the navigate button on the app, and a little arrow starts tracking you as you move, making ANOTHER red line the same as the trail line. (key detail). Sparky is hiking along, and after about 1.75 miles, realizes that #1. She picked the wrong trailhead parking lot (which was only a two vehicle space lot which might present problems later getting out) and #2- the trail she was on, Pennys Preserve, was not going to take her past the "3 bridges and a waterfall" listing that was on the OTHER trail, called Peter's Brook Trail, that intersected into this one. Or maybe she had it backwards. Maybe she was on the Peters Brook Trail and she was going to miss the cool stuff on the Penny's Preserve Trail. Whatever....She's simply going to back up her little ole self making the arrow on the map retrace her path and take her back to the parking lot where she will go find the OTHER trailhead parking lot and see the bridges and waterfall. She's not sure what happened next.  The trails are poorly marked. No clues that the trails will loop back to either parking lot. The arrow on the map turns when you turn and marks a little red squiggle when you demonstrate confusion as you twist and turn, trying to figure out which way is where. There were several signs with a map that said, "You are HERE." 

But Sparky wanted to be THERE and unsure of herself, and logic failing that these were LOOP trails, and that she would eventually return to the parking lot, escaped her for the moment. What compounded her panic was there was NOBODY on the trail for a very long time. She kept looking at her navigational arrow on her trail map and after awhile, it looked like this: Seriously....
All those little dots between the dashes are temporary stops. Finally, she found herself at the waterfall with no idea how she got there,  and she saw PEOPLE! Woo hoo! She asked the group how to get back to the parking lot, and they said, "Oh, just go up that trail up there, (pointing in a vague direction). Sparky had already been on that trail TWICE and from the map it looked like she would be repeating the same smaller loop again. By this time, she was a little panicky. She knew in her mind that if she kept on the loop trail she would eventually get back to the parking lot, but she was just panicked that it would be a repeating loop and she wouldn't exit it in the right place. So she decided to just set off. A few minutes later, along came a couple, with their beagle out for a Sunday stroll, and she told them she was lost and could they direct her towards the parking lot? They said sure, just hang out with us. They said they had parked at the Peter's Brook Trailhead which was the opposite of Sparky's truck position, but she didn't care. It was company, and off we went. They were really nice company, and their dog very sweet.

We ran into the caretaker of the preserve, as we hiked, an elderly gentleman easily in his eighties who happened to be bird watching. He treated us to a brief discourse of the history of the quarry masons that used to work in the area, what a burl was, and the history of his family's ties to the area, along with some sightings of songbirds he was spotting. (A burl is a virus that causes the tree to build tissue around it, creating this big blob on the tree.) In no time, we were at the parking lot trailhead and Sparky's guides offered her to a ride to her parking lot destination, which turned out to be less than a half mile down the road.

Despite getting lost briefly, the trail WAS a beautiful walk through beautiful woods. Sparky did see the waterfall after all, but not the three wooden bridges and that was ok. She thinks she is going to be in the market for a Garmin InReach Mini GPS soon. Not cheap but a lot of features that would benefit a solo hiker. (And yes, she did confide in me that she got a little lost, says a relieved E., glad to have her back safe and sound.) How many miles did she end up doing? the app said 5+, but some of that was the short hop in the car from one trailhead to the other, because Sparky forgot to turn the app off. But maybe about 4.5 miles, she's guessing.

Since that hike was just a teeny bit stressful, Sparky had to take advantage of some free ice cream at the ice cream social at the park that day. Whew!
Because we are leaving the area, and heading back to Wells, Maine, and mainely (haha) the beach, Sparky went out for one last hurrah bike ride on the carriage roads in Acadia. Gosh, those roads are tough--lots of climbing, but it helps if you check your tire inflations before heading out. Just sayin'.....Sixteen miles was enough for today...

And heading towards mid July, the waterfalls and brooks are drying up! As always, check out the bridges along the carriage roads, especially the undersides. There are trails leading down below, but they are usually rocky and a little on the precarious side for an older person. But to view the bridge from underneath is wonderful. You can really see the architectural details that way.
West Branch Bridge Jordan Stream
Jordan Pond was busy with the popover crowd today as Sparky stopped by at the Grab 'n' Go for a quick two lemonades...She was that thirsty!
The iconic Eagle Lake Bridge is a very popular starting point for riding the carriage roads. Very small parking lot, Sparky suggests starting elsewhere....

The blueberries are starting to bloom along many of the trails in the area.
And with that week having whizzed by, we are off tomorrow for Wells, Maine, back to Moody Beach Thousand Trails campground for THREE weeks. See you down the road....

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

A Heckuva Day

Travel Day: weather wonderful, destination: Ellsworth, ME, Patten Pond RV Park. High: 72, low: 52.   Site: 318, er, 508.

 Wel-l-l-l-l...somebody made a comment the other day about how much fun we have! Today, not so much. It was just one of those days....So here's how it went. We were getting ready to leave Moody Beach in Wells, ME, early this morning. Normally, when Eldy backs the truck up to hook up to the RV, he has LOTS of room to pull forward and line up the hitch on the fifth wheel to hook the truck and the RV together. Our RV site, although very shady and roomy on the sides, had very little room out front. There was a really nice landscaped double site directly in front of us, making his maneuvering a lot more difficult. To top it over, they were having a big family gathering and they all started watching us, which makes us nervous, which makes us not concentrate as well. Well, Sparky, anyway. Normally, we get the truck backed in and hitched up within three or four tries. Nope, not today. For some reason,  it took over ten times to get the right angle and not run over the lady's bushes at the front of her yard and still get lined up. Eldy and Sparky couldn't seem to get in sync with which direction she wanted Eldo to swing the truck to get lined up correctly. Back and forth we went, back and forth quite a few times. FINALLY!

our pull through site at Patten Pond
We get to Patten Pond and were given a specific site to go to. Sparky went on her bike ahead while Eldy waited in the office parking lot. Sometimes in hillier, tighter, older campgrounds, it's better to check out the site first, before you start wrangling around with your rig, so Sparky sometimes will hop on her bike and ride over to the site to make sure it's going to work. The one we were assigned to was going to be very difficult to back into and the electric cord was not going to reach the location of the electrical outlet pedestal, so back to the office she rode. Can you guys please find us another site? We looked at a couple more and finally, we got a really nice one mixed in where the work campers are, and it was a dandy...But not level. We have an automatic leveling system but if the ground is not level, or slopes really bad to one side or to the front or back, not all the leveling jacks will come down, or the tires will come off the ground on one side, which is what happened today.  You do NOT want to have ANY of your tires off the ground. It's not safe, it can wreak havoc with the axles and all four on the ground is the ideal. We retracted all the jacks and tried to level again. This time TWO tires out of four were off the ground. (Sparky, this is NOT working, we have to try something different, says E.) We subtracted wooden jack blocks instead of adding them. Some people don't put any wooden blocks down at all. But many people do. This is the neighbor's setup for his jacks. 

We got to talking about it, and we are not sure how we decided we needed wooden blocks in the first place, other than to not leave marks on cement pads in the nicer campgrounds we go to, because the jacks have additional pads on them already! (Those are the black pads you see at the bottom of the silver column). Maybe that's why we are currently having troubles getting level or it's just the latest campgrounds have unlevel sites. The third time was the charm.

We finally got the rig to where it was within less than -3 degrees of being level (that's acceptable), the tires were back on the ground and we were settled in, but the middle stabilizer jacks didn't come down (in the above photo). 

Next problem, hooking up the water connections....couldn't get the water hose connections to stop leaking. Sparky had screwed on the connections at one connecting end a little off, so the threads weren't lined up, then she couldn't UNHOOK the connections because there was too much water pressure in the lines. So Eldo says, here, let me try. He does have stronger wrist strength, so Sparky says go for it! He turns the water off at the spigot. Sparky goes to the spigot and starts to unscrew it and got completely sprayed with water. Uh, Eldo, thought you said it was turned off! He thought it was, he says!

Then we hook up the electric. We have a special surge protector, you plug it in first to the pedestal BEFORE you connect your rig power cord, and test the electrical outlet first by switching the power on inside the electrical box, to make sure you have enough power to power all your electrical stuff in the RV. Plug the protector in, wait for the light to click green (you are GO for electric), then you flip the switch off, plug your electric cord into your surge protector, then flip the switches on again for 50 amp. Our surge protector was extremely SL-O-O-W to turn green, which was not normal, but it did, so we thought the electric was fine. We go to turn on one AC, it's fine. We turn on the other AC in the bedroom of the RV and the breaker blows. That shouldn't happen, it's a 50 amp circuit. Off to the office Sparky goes.  They say they have an electrician who just happens to be on site today, and he's right up the road, he'll be right there. Here he comes, with supporting staff (his son who's learning on the job) and Fred, a terrific maintenance guy who helped us get this nice site. What's that old joke about how many guys it takes to screw in a lightbulb?

It turns out there was a bad breaker in the box. So they put in a new one and we were back with power on and no more electrical problems. Let's see, does that cover everything? Oh, not quite. So Sparky goes to get a roll of toilet paper out of the bathroom cabinet, and one of the rolls has been chewed almost all the way through. Probably by mice. Then she looks further, and an ACE bandage was decimated by some little critters. What's bad is it looks like they are using it for nesting material which means.......TROUBLE.....if they are still in the rig somewhere. There are a LOT of inaccessible places in an RV where they could be....sigh.....This is a lot worse than stinkbugs or Asian lady beetles, that's for sure. Mice chew wires and other electronics stuff, even Sparky's bars of soap she put in the bays to deter them have bite marks on them! Time for more serious traps and entrapment.

We shall see if we catch anything....

So we decide to treat ourselves to dinner (you know Sparky hates to cook, right? asks Eldo) to a Mexican restaurant in downtown Ellsworth. It was called Margaritas Mexican Restaurant. It was terrific and a great way to end a tough day. Eldy had his favorite, a burrito.....

And Sparky had steak fajitas...yummy! And she even asked and got her steak very rare! Which is rare...Many kitchens don't like to serve extra rare beef. Sparky didn't want to gross anybody out by showing a photo of bloody beef, so just know it was great! Cool vibe inside the restaurant.....

We will be here a week. We are in the work camper's section, so there are rigs and trucks for a view out every window. But that's ok, it's still a really nice park to be in, it's FREE with our membership, and the big pond for which the park is named, is calling Sparky to come kayaking.
And Walmart is calling for us to come get some mice traps....
Bye for now.....

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

The Pinnacle has Landed in Wells, Maine

Wells. Maine.   Moody Beach Thousand Trails Park, site 199

Highs: 60's-high seventies  Lows: high fifties, low sixties

Internet: reasonably decent with ATT hotspots, T-Mobile Mi-fi is slow. 

After the worst Internet for two weeks back at Bar Harbor in the Narrows Too campground, and very weak ATT cell service,  it's a breath of fresh air to have a little faster internet with both our ATT hotspots and our T-Mobile unit. 

site 199
We had a smooth hitch up to leave and were anxious to get back to Wells, hoping for a front line spot out in the open. Even though it was midweek, a better time for checking into a campground before the weekenders make it in, the campground was completely full in the front-easy-to-get into, pull through section. Rats! Back we go to the back of the campground where it's heavily wooded and harder to turn around tight corners and maneuver around with a big rig.  Usually, Sparky will unhook one of the bikes and ride around looking for a good spot, and she prefers Eldy's approval before picking it for sure, but today the rigs were coming in so quickly behind us, she stayed in the truck and we went looking. A park ranger came up as we rounded the corner in the back row, and he says, "You might want to get out of your truck and walk around first to find a spot. We are pretty full. There was a guy in a fifth wheel in here recently and he hit a park worker's trailer and caused damage to it and his rig. 'Course he came in at night....." Eldy says to Sparky later, it's dangerous enough driving around in the DAYTIME trying to find a spot! But we did, and here we are for two weeks.....We managed to get a really nice spot with one of the few concrete pads in this section, a pull through to boot! The one problem we had was it had a bad slope which was hard to see with the gravel site so one tire was off the ground and the middle stabilizer jacks would not come down. As there was only one tire off the ground, we stabilized it with boards and chock blocks so it wouldn't budge. The site is very shady, so it's quite dark inside the rig on a cloudy day, but it's a lovely site and on hotter days, we will be cooler. No signs of any really hot days coming however. (Except for one day that was 84 degrees, says E.)

We are really looking forward to our two week stay even though it's our second time here this summer.....
So far we are just taking it easy. With the heavy traffic July 4th weekenders coming soon to the Wells/Ogunquit area to celebrate their weeklong vacations and congestion is picking up out on Highway 1, (the road that goes right past the campground), we are hanging close to our site most days for awhile, and catching up on little maintenance jobs on the rig. We do such things as clean the jacks underneath, (getting the road grease off of them), and lubricating them so they will continue to work smoothly, and screwing in loose screws that come loose as we bounce down the nation's highways. Sparky washed all the screens on the windows the other day. It is unreal how much road dust kicks up and clogs the window screens as the roads around the park are usually gravel and dusty. 

Sparky LOVES this campground. It's camping in the woods like we use to do years ago if you are in the back section. It's like camping in a parking lot if you are in the new, out-in-the-open no trees section. It's so nice to see lots of families who come in and do the whole camping thing like we used to do with our young families growing up. We love the grilling smells, the makeshift clotheslines hung between the trees, the kids having a blast, yelling and screaming with glee over different activities going on during the day, the smell of the pines....We love seeing how everybody camps. This looks a little precarious! The ladder to the tent goes from the TOP of the picnic table to the tent.
We love that you can spend the day at your site or go out and walk to the beach. It's not crowded most days. The water is about 61 degrees last time checked.
Footbridge Beach, Wells, Maine

On another day, a very windy one, Sparky heard branches up above the rig scraping the vent covers. She went and asked the park office if the park could trim them, and they said they are not allowed to climb a ladder any higher than 6 feet, but they'd send a guy out to look. Sparky says, well, can I trim them then? He says, we won't stop you, it's your rig. Sigh...Ok...So here comes the guy with one of those long pole saw/clippers. He says he can't get up high enough to trim the branches. He's not allowed. So Sparky says she will go up on the roof and trim them. But he had to promise not to laugh because she will not stand up on the roof, but scoot around on her butt. He says ok. Up she goes, he hands her the pole saw, and she trims the branches.  No photos, because Eldo and the guy were watching carefully to make sure she didn't slip and fall. No worries, all the sap on the roof made it super sticky!

Sasquatch on the bike trail mileage signs!
Other than that, beach walks, bike rides on the Eastern Trail and we've come to the end of the two weeks. Sparky didn't make it over to the Rachel Carson Wildlife Refuge, but it's there as well. We've really enjoyed our shady site at Moody Beach even though it's back in the difficult-to-get-around woods section. It's a former annual site with a nice concrete pad so it's roomier than many.

Not much rain this two weeks, so not much crafting going on with Sparky. But she has made a BUNCH of 100% cotton dishcloths for her shop, JeanBeanGifts on Etsy. Here's one are of her favorites.
The other thing Sparky likes to make are ornaments, the fiddly, totally hand sewn ones. Here is the Ghost of Christmas Past from a series of several she will be making.

Next we head to Patton Pond in Ellsworth, Maine in two days. There is a huge pond there for kayaking, but no bike trails or hiking. That's ok, Sparky needs to slow down once in awhile. We will be there for a week, then back to Wells Moody Beach for our final last stay till Bar Harbor. We will be ending out our Maine stay for the summer with the Bar Harbor/Acadia National Park, another 5 day visit again. Living life to the fullest! Woo hoo!  Bye for now.....