Saturday, September 23, 2017

Sprinting (for us) South with a Visit to Hershey PA…

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With our plan to slowly move down the east coast of Massachusetts thwarted by hurricane Jose we decided to move inland. Sharon was also able to get an appointment at the Mayo in Jacksonville Florida earlier than we had planned so we decided since rain was predicted for most of New England for the next two days  we'd just make a beeline south. We traveled like we never have before.

Before moving south though we were able to meet up with Imperial Bonita Estates (IBE) friends, Jean and Roy, whom we first met in Florida. They have a place on a lake in northern New Hampshire so we drove up to visit them. What a nice place they have and what a great day we had visiting them. They even treated us to a pontoon boat ride around the lake they are at. What a treat it was getting back on the water. For those of you that don’t know IBE is just north of Naples Florida and it was hit very hard by Hurricane Irma. Our friends have a place there and it will need a lot of work on it before they can get back to their winter home in Florida.

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We moved on three consecutive days traveling about 200 miles each day with the endpoint being back at our friend's farm near Toms Brook Virginia. We usually only like to travel less than 150 miles and stay no less than two nights in order to have some time to explore each area a bit before moving on. Sharon also wants to make a short trip back to Raleigh to be a part of Katie's initial wedding gown shopping.  So by making this mad dash we hoped to make up most of the time we need for a short visit to see Katie and arriving in Jacksonville in October.

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Our first day was leaving New Hampshire around New York City into Massachusetts and finally as far as the Danbury Connecticut Welcome Center at Exit on 1 Interstate 84N at Mile Marker 2.5. This would be our first ever stopover for the night in a rest area. What made us choose one was Connecticut allows overnight stays in their rest areas and even has a separate parking area for RV’s away from the truckers.

After traveling 210 miles we were happy to settle in and disconnect the car. We still wanted to check out the nearby towns even though we had less time to do so. Danbury Connecticut is a nice sized town with an interesting downtown area but we didn't;t have time to really explore it. We then drove across the New York state line to Brewster NY. It was not as interesting a downtown and much smaller than Danbury but we did find a brewery called Bull & Barrel Brewery. It had decent though not spectacular beer but was WAY too pricey for our tastes.

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The next day we traveled through New York and New Jersey into Pennsylvania driving about 275 miles. We pulled into the Hollywood Casino in Grantville PA. They allow overnight parking in their lot (no hook ups for the 2nd night in a row). We set up and unhooked the car and made the drive over to Hershey PA. We took the free tour at the Hershey Chocolate Factory and really enjoyed it. We couldn’t leave without having some Hershey Ice Cream as we remembered loving the Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream enjoyed In Pennsylvania during our first year as full-timers. We also ate out at a small diner that was well, underwhelming so no need to mention it especially since it may have been the worse Philly Cheesesteak I ever had! Bummer. Oh well…

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The next day we drove the remaining 210 miles south through Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia settling at last at our friend's farm in Virginia… Whew!!! Over 600 miles in three days is traveling fast for us. Normally this would have taken us at least ten days to move this far but at least we are now back on track to continue our slow trek south....…

NOTE: We are near Toms Brook Virginia and will spend about a week here before heading south to spend some time with our daughter who recently got engaged in North Carolina…

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Parker River National Wildlife Refuge and a Minke Whale…

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We sure enjoyed our last few days in sunny New England. A couple of afternoons we took off to explore Hampton Beach NH and the coastline going south. Hampton Beach is quite large and nice but certainly has some pricey parking for visitors who wish to spend some time there. Fortunately it is off season so we found a lot of state parks along the coast which have no fees for entering at this time of year.

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We stopped at several of the state parks north of Hampton Beach such as Rye Harbor State Park, Cable Beach and North Hampton Beach. The rocky shoreline along this part of New England is quite scenic and fun to explore especially during low tide. Our driving days started out overcast but ended up exceptionally nice as the day wore on.

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The best encounter was at Seabrook Town Beach in Massachusetts as we saw a whale not far from the shore. A fellow we spoke with said there had been sightings of a Humpback Whale and that is why he came hoping to see it. I am pretty sure that is what I saw rolling in the sea since it was large and greyish like the many humpbacks I have seen before in Antarctic waters in my past travels…

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A while later we spotted a Northern Minke whale actively feeding really close to the shoreline. I was able to snap a few photos although they aren’t great. However, if you click on them to enlarge them you can see some of the fish scattering as it breached to feed on them. How super cool it was to see my first ever Northern Minke!!! We happily watched through our binoculars until the whale turned out to sea.  Awesome.

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South of Seabrook MA we stopped to explore the really cool little town of Newburyport MA. It turned out to be a really neat little historic town with several old buildings to explore. We also browsed a consignment shop called Oldies which had several interesting antiques. One table I would have surely bought if we had a house,  whew… close call!

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After exploring Newburyport we drove further south over to Plum Island. On the far south end of Plum Island is the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. What an absolutely beautiful, pristine and natural beach we found on the southernmost tip of the refuge.

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There was a beautiful flat sandy beach on the point  and a small hill adjacent to it.  It was near this hill where we found a fabulous rocky beach. The rocks along the beach which are normally underwater were exposed due to low tide and made the rocky beach profoundly interesting and surreal. We simply loved seeing this cool beach on the wildlife refuge.

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After finishing up our drive we of course had to go back to Smuttynose Brewery near our RV park to have one more of their delicious craft beers. We also stocked up on our favorite Rhye IPA  which lucky for us was on sale for $10 per six pack. We now have more beer in our RV than we have ever had but I will be sure not to let it go past its peak freshness date…

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NOTE: We decided to put some miles between us and Hurricane Jose since it will likely impact any fun we wanted to have along the Massachusetts coastline so we have scooted about 600 miles south over the last three days to Virginia…