Wednesday, August 31, 2011

As far north as we will go this summer… Maine

2011-08-30 Mount Battie Maine 006

We made it to Maine!!! Even hurricanes and flooding couldn’t keep us away… as here we are in Camden, Maine. We are staying at Camden Hills State Park which is just outside of the city of Camden. Camden is considered to be one of the top three vacation spots in Maine The other two are Kennebunkport and Bar Harbor.

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The drive from New Hampshire to Maine went smoothly and we saw very little damage caused by Irene however, there was some flooding and the rivers in the area were raging. This area was spared any major damage as Irene tracked further west of this area than expected.

2011-08-30 Mount Battie Maine 012Our last day in New Hampshire was very windy as Irene tracked just east of us and wasn’t out of the state until nearly noon. We didn’t do much this day except take a small walk along the Appalachian Trail which is a trail I wanted to sorely do back in my backpacking days.

Many of our comments from yesterdays blog suggested that we should have headed more inland to get away from Irene and next time we probably will. However, it is good we didn’t this time as two of the towns we visited in Vermont were completely flooded in the downtown areas. Vermont is a over a hundred miles further inland from where we were but it was not spared the devastation by flooding that Irene caused. So we were lucky that we stayed put in this case.

2011-08-30 Mount Battie Maine 030Once we got to Camden Hills State Park we checked with the main office to see if we could extend our stay to include this labor day weekend since we had heard they had some non-reservable sites for first come first served. Arriving around noon we got lucky and they had one that we will stay at until the 5th or 6th of September. We checked into our site and then made the short drive up to Mount Battie that is located inside this park.

2011-08-30 Mount Battie Maine 001What an absolutely fantastic 360 degree view you get from the top of this mountain on the Maine coastline. This is a must see spot if you are ever near this area and one you will never forget. We could have stayed up there for hours, and we did…

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Goodbye Irene…

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Sunday was the day they closed the forests… Irene was planning on paying a visit to the White Mountains of New Hampshire and unfortunately that is exactly where we planned on hunkering down while Irene made her way along the east coast. The only problem with that plan was the forecasters were wrong… way wrong…

2011-08-29 Day before Irene 006When it became apparent that the forecasters were missing the forecasted path through Maine by a long shot we were already pretty much committed to staying put. We did all the necessary preparations to prepare for the storm like we had done several times in Texas. Bought groceries, picked up all the loose items outside, battened down the hatches and filled up the water tanks. We had already dieseled up so we were ready for any power outages in the area.

The only down side to our campground is that it is smack dab in the middle of the forest with trees all around us. With this in mind I evaluated all the trees in the vicinity of our motorhome and found no diseased or dead trees. With only healthy living trees around I felt better but had located a rest area just a mile down the road with no trees around the lot to escape to if I felt the winds got too high.

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2011-08-29 Day before Irene 010Irene came in Sunday afternoon with a bit of a whimper but still the winds and rain were fairly relentless. Rain had to over six inches in our area and the news reported that two of the towns we stopped and walked around in Vermont were being ravaged by floodwaters through their towns. Here in our park we had a few small limbs and debris fall down and the winds are still blowing near 15-20 mph as I type this blog on Monday at 10:00 am.

We are just glad the dire predictions of devastation along the eastern seaboard didn’t occur. We also feel bad for those who lost property or life in this storm. Hard to believe the day before we had hiked in the 2011-08-29 Day before Irene 017White Mountains along a stream to a beautiful 150 foot waterfall… I can only imagine what it looks like today… The pictures today are from the hike yesterday and how we prefer to remember this area. Tomorrow is a travel day to Maine’s coast if the roads are clear and the State Park we want to go to is open and ready for business.

If we are in a hurricane area again when one is predicted to come near we think we will just blow off any of our plans and move further inland. It is not really worth the chance you take with our weathermen’s forecasting abilities…

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Calm Green Mountains….


With Irene hovering off the Atlantic coast and us with the cautious watchful eye to see what ultimate path she will take we decided that Friday was a good day for a nice hike. The plan was to travel over to Pinkham Notch in the Green Mountains which serves as a central trailhead for this National Forest. The Appalachian Trail also come through here.


We had originally planned on hiking the trail to the top of Mt Washington while we were here but with the weather taking away a couple of days of sunshine we had to modify our hiking plans. Mt Washington is the tallest peak in New Hampshire and has the reputation of being "Home of the world's worst weather."

2011-08-24-New-Hampshire-Park-013_thAt 6,288 feet this mountain is one of the few in the east that will make you think you are out west. So Friday morning we woke up and looked up the weather on top of Mt. Washington. Can you believe the winds on top were blowing at 40+ miles per hour with a wind chill of 37.4 F? So we decided to hike only half the trial to the top to a hut with a lake nearby.

The trail we chose is called Tuckerman’s Ravine trail. The trail goes all the way to the top of the mountain 2011-08-24-New-Hampshire-Park-012_thand is about 8.4 miles round trip and you will gain 4,300 feet, a fairly difficult hike. Estimated to take 6.5 hours we planned to only hike about half of it. The hike starts off at fairly gentle climb with good trail conditions but this doesn’t last too long. Before long the trail goes from nice to tortuous with large round loose rocks scattered along the trail. The trail resembles a riverbed more than a trail…

The combination of loose rock, wet conditions and the slope of the trail itself make for very strenuous climbing. Along the way we came across a nicely constructed spur to a gorgeous 100 foot or more waterfall. This majestic falls would be the highlight of the trip up the mountain this day.

IMAG0424We hike along the trail at a slow pace and the trail began to take a toll on us as we were ill prepared for this type of trail. Our tennis shoes were not what was called for for this type of hiking and without walking sticks it was fairly hazardous. So after a couple of miles we decided it best to turn back.

We were probably within a half mile of our target anyhow and the trail was getting worse not better. Shortly after we decided to turn back Sharon slipped and fell… fortunately she only sprained her thumb but it could have been worse. We take note of this and will be more prepared with better footwear before tackling this sort of trial in the future.

IMAG0421So a slow steep two mile decent and we were back at the car. Later that evening we went out in search of the elusive great Northern Moose. There is a road here in northern New Hampshire where sightings of moose are fairly common so we decided to give it a try. After driving about 50 miles along the Androscoggin River on Route 16 we were treated to many scenic vistas and a nice sun set but we saw no moose. We did however, get to see a bald eagle, common loon, osprey and a falcon along with some beautiful country side.

This day was filled with many failures… failure to complete our planned hike and failure to see a  moose and failure to stay healthy. But as has been said by many others before us…

…a bad day of RV’ing is still better than a good day of work!!! Hopefully we will have the same to say after Irene passes…

Friday, August 26, 2011

Portland Maine and watching Irene…

glacial lake

Portland Maine 037The weather in the area for the Thursday was predicted to have a rainy afternoon as a cold front was blowing into the state of New Hampshire. The same cold front that seems to be pushing the predicted path of Irene a bit further east every time they update their maps.

So here we are about 90 NW of Portland ME and as of now we plan on staying put… but we have topped off the diesel tank (and the gas in the toad) and will top off the water before Sunday.  Yes we are watching the path of Irene very closely and will leave if we feel it looks too dangerous to stay. We hope to head to Camden Hills, Maine on Tuesday if all looks okay there.

portland maineWith rain forecast in NH due to the cold front we decided to take off on a two hour drive over to Portland, Maine. We were planning on leaving NH on Sunday to go to Maine but have cancelled our stay in Maine for Sunday and Monday and added the days here in New Hampshire. One of the days we cancelled in Maine we had planned to tour Portland ME so we decided to go today.

glacial lake 2The drive over was pretty scenic with the Mountains in NH slowly yielding to the smaller hills of coastal Maine dotted with glacial lakes. As we closed in on Portland ME the traffic picked up and was pretty bad for the last half hour. Portland in Maine's largest city and with 1/3 of all the people in ME living in the Portland metro area it was no wonder the traffic was bad…

The first residents in the area are dated back to 1623 and after enduring several major fires in the area Portland had become the capital of Maine after it became a state in 1820. The capital later moved to Augusta. Portland's downtown area today is vibrant and full of activity. We spent some time walking around and enjoying the Waterfront neighborhood and then headed for the northernmost Trader Joe’s to stock up on our favorite Trader Joe’s goodies.NH mts night of fog and rain

On the way home we stopped at a roadside vendor and bought some fresh off the boat haddock and soft shell lobster and both were only $3.99 per pound… Less than half the price we have ever seen lobster anywhere else. So it should have been no surprise what dinner was tonight…

3.99 per lb lobster

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

From the Green to the White Mountains…

2011-08-22 vermont 003

After the hectic day we had leaving New York and arriving in Vermont we finally had a nice peaceful day. Rain pittered and pattered throughout the night but by day break it seemed to have dissipated and left us with a nice crisp pre-autumn day. So after a nice breakfast of bacon and eggs and a slice of homemade toast we made plans to drive out into the Vermont countryside.

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The plan was to take a nice 72 mile loop that would take us into the heart of the Green Mountains and then loop us around through a couple of small towns before heading back to our camp. This loop included some dirt roads into the Green Mountains and which really gave us a feel for how wild the state of Vermont still is. The first stop was a pick your own blueberry farm near Putney, VT where Sharon went in to the store and described it as so in her own words…

“…gorgeous apples, peaches and blueberries. You're encouraged to pick your own. Inside the barn there were two restored model T trucks with baskets of fresh fruit, just-baked pies and muffins as well as Vermont maple syrup, kitchen wares and linens. The farm owner was beautiful in her stained apron, big farm boots, hair falling from her ponytail with the warmest smile and laughter in her eyes. Her contentment made me feel happy the whole rest of the day “

After absorbing the Green Mountain vistas and sights we found ourselves in the town of Wilmington, VT. 2011-08-22 vermont 004A nice little town composed of shops, coffee houses, and restaurants but not as interesting as the next town we drove into, Brattleboro VT. This funky little town has a very noticeable youth movement in town however, the buildings and feel of the town makes you wonder where John Dillinger is hiding out… I swear we felt like we were went back in time and were in the 1930’s as we walked around town.

The next morning we awoke early and prepared to depart Hidden Acres… By the way I would only recommend Hidden Acres for a one or two night stay as it is considerably lacking in the wow factor. An uneventful 172 miles later we ended up in a nice park in New Hampshire,  Timberland Campground area. It has been recently purchased by a fairly enthusiastic couple who seem to have the right attitude to make it work.

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We will stay put for about 5 days and enjoy the serenity of the White Mountains 2011-08-22 vermont 001as we camp beneath the tallest peak in the Northeast. Reaching some 6,288 feet above sea level we should be able to find some nice hikes in the area…

The leaves in the area are warning us of the impending colder months as they begin their transition from their brilliant greens to a variety of reds, yellows and oranges. We have reservations for the coastline of Maine but with Irene sneaking up the coast we may have to alter those plans… we shall see.  In any event it is definitely time for us to prepare our upcoming plans for the winter months and decide where we will hunker down during the colder months…

Monday, August 22, 2011

A not so good day in the life of a fulltimer…

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We got up early to leave Camp K and planned to be on the road by 9:30 am. So we had coffee and packed up and got the motorhome ready for travel. We planned to hook up the toad at the end of the bumpy dirt road before leaving New York.

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Well here is where the day began to go a bit south… our break buddy for the toad would not adjust right and after about 5-6 failed attempts at getting it to work right I finally figured out that we were pointing down hill and it wouldn’t set up correctly without throwing an error. So we moved to a flatter location and it finally set up correctly.

2011-08-21 drive to Vermont 022Next up was that none of our GPS enabled devices wanted to work this day, no satellites would connect. I must have had a premonition about this event as the night before I had hand written the route down for us just in case we had troubles with the GPS when traveling through Saratoga Springs, NY. So with hand written route in hand off we went… Now we were about 30 minutes behind schedule.. no big deal right? Wrong!

We still had to drive through Saratoga Springs where Sundays horse race began at 1:00 pm. With 20,000 extra cars going to town the road to Saratoga was slow with lots of stop and go traffic. Congestion in and around the race track was everywhere… tight roads, tight turns but we finally passed the horse track and everything got better…

The drive through the Green Mountains was the highlight of the day as the quaint little Vermont towns were scattered along the route through the lush green mountains and valleys. We were really looking forward to getting to our campsite so we could do a bit of exploring.

2011-08-21 drive to Vermont 021Then the rain started to lightly fall. We had gotten to Hidden Acres Camping Resort and were driving over to our assigned site when we noticed there was a truck and some stuff still on the site. So back to the office and we were told to take any site that was open and come back and let them know. By the time we pulled into a site the severe thunderstorms that we were unaware of had hit… So we sat in our motorhome while the strong gusty winds and heavy rain pelted our home on wheels. After the rains and wind subsided we set up camp only to find out all the power was out in our area… We also had no water since the water was using an electric pump to provide service to the campsites.

So with no power and no water we set up anyhow and we decided to go into town and stock up with groceries and just check out the surrounding area with the remaining daylight. We swung by the office to report which site we had taken only to find out that they had made a mistake and the site we set up on was already taken… You have got to be kidding right? No, so it was back to the site and we broke down our camp and moved to yet another site and re-set up.

While moving the RV and setting up we had noticed that our ABS warning indicator would not go out. I knew the brakes had gotten a bit hot as we rode down the 8 and 9 percent grades in the mountains and hoped that it would go out after they cooled off (oh please, oh please, oh please go out). It finally did but will require monitoring in our future.

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After all this turmoil in our day we finally got to head out of the campsite in search of groceries… Off to a nearby town in New Hampshire and with groceries in hand all that was left in our day was to take a scenic drive back through the mountains of New Hampshire and Vermont. We returned to camp and hoped we had lights and water and as you may well have guessed the way this day was going… no lights… no water…

By about 7:00 pm the lights came back on (YAY!!!) and the rain began to fall again (Booo) but little mattered now as we settled back into our home and had a happy hour and a quiet dinner…

Just another uneventful day in the life of a fulltimer…

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Goodbye friends… Hello Vermont!!!

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Our last few days at Camp K were spent visiting with our friends from Texas who had come up for the week. A drive through the mountains of the Adirondack Park and a drive around the Great Sacandaga lake were on the agenda the last few days. We also drove over to Lake George which is a stark contrast from the Great Sacandaga lake. Lake George has all the hustle and bustle of a very active town whose livelihood is based upon tourism whereas the Great Sacandaga lake is a sleepy and very quiet lake retreat for those wanting to get away form the hustle and bustle on the weekends.

Yesterday I played golf for the first time in nearly a year with my friends and was rusty at first but on the back nine I actually made a birdie and several pars. I used to play a lot of golf when I was in graduate school but that was many years ago. I attribute my golfing success yesterday to forgetting all my bad golfing habits. It was a fun and enjoyable day.


Today we head further east and bid farewell to my friends at Camp K. We will make a short drive but it will be mostly on two lane roads meandering through the mountains. We plan to make it to Hidden Acres Camping Resort another Passport America Park for a few days before heading further east with our final destination of this northerly trek to Acadia National Park near Bar Harbor. Just a few more weekends before are the kids go back to school and maybe it will be easier to get weekend camp sites.

Friday, August 19, 2011

A day at the Horse Track in Saratoga Springs , NY…

 The race Track at Saratoga NY

More friends from our old hometown showed up here at the camp so it is like a reunion of sorts to see several of our old friends to share stories with. After a full day of soaking rain falling over the Adirondack Park here in upstate New York we all made plans to head over to Saratoga Springs, NY for the day to visit the race course. The race course at Saratoga Springs first opened in 1863 and is said to be the oldest organized sporting venue of any kind in the United States.

 The race Track at Saratoga NY The info below was taken from Wikipedia and it sums it all up about this fine thoroughbred horse race course:

“Saratoga Race Course has two well-known nicknames -- The Spa (for the nearby mineral springs), and the "Graveyard of Champions" (for the upsets that have occurred there). Man o' War suffered his only defeat in twenty one starts while racing at Saratoga Race Course; Secretariat was defeated at Saratoga Race Course by Onion after winning the Triple Crown; and Gallant Fox was beaten by 100-1 longshot Jim Dandy in the 1930 Travers Stakes.”

The weather was exceptional as the high was near 80 and there was no rain in sight. We drove over to Saratoga Springs and parked near the track where we paid a fellow $10 to park in the large yard behind several homes. With lawn chairs in hand we made our way over to the track and paid the $3.00 entry fee. Picked up  a “pink sheet” to see which horses were running and their odds for this day and then settled down near the race track.

Saratoga Springs NYSaratoga Race Course has a few unique features that make visiting this track fun. The horses that race here and the jockeys that ride them are many of the top money winners in the USA. So you get to watch some of the best of the best. So what makes it unique? You can get right next to the thoroughbreds and be within a few feet of them and the jockeys as the horses are being led to the paddock since the path from the stables runs right through the picnic grounds where we were sitting. There is also a mineral spring called the Big Red Spring in the grounds where you can drink some of the mineral waters that made Saratoga Springs famous. Can you say strong sulfur smell… and it doesn’t taste very good but its healthy…. so they say!

With ten races on the docket we decided we would stay for six of them and then head Sharon in front of the Tin and Lintdowntown for a few frosty beverages at some of the local establishments. We made our bets on all six races and came very close to winning an exacta bet twice but the stars were not in our favor that day as we had no winnings to show at the end of the sixth race. So it was down to downtown Saratoga to visit some of the well known and frequently visited post track establishments. A fitting end to a fantastic day at the track…

I didn’t realize I didn’t take any pictures of the ponies while we there until we got back to the camp – Sigh… Maybe, next time I will take pictures of the horses and jockeys and maybe next time we will win… We do know that the sun will rise the next morning no matter what…

Sunrise at Camp K

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Chilling at Camp K on Sacandaga Lake…

View from Camp K deck

When we arrived close to my friends camp (Camp K) we parked at the Walmart in Amsterdam, NY. The camp was about 9 miles north of the Walmart and I was hoping that we would be able to get our RV down the dirt road his camp was on. Having been there before I was concerned about whether or not we would be able to get parked behind his camp.

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My three biggest worries were:

  1. branches on the main road
  2. a low spot I remembered from being at the camp before
  3. the actual turn into his camp

We unhitched the car so we could drive our CRV over to Camp K and after the short drive we got to the dirt road that I was most worried about. We drove down the road and started looking at the road as if we were driving our RV down it. There were lots of low branches but there was a path down the middle of the road without hitting most of the branches. Branches out of the way – Check! Then came the turn where the low spot was and it was in great shape so low spot – Check! Lastly was the turn into his camp. It was pretty tight and there were several large branches in the way and even if we got through the turn the lot behind Camp K had no decent level spot to park… Rats!!! No way this would work.

View from Camp K shoreline

So we stop by for a visit with my friend and he suggests we park at a small lot just down the road from his camp and store the RV there and just stay at his camp. We decide that this might work but as we drove back to get the RV we stopped by the visitor’s center we passed on the way to his camp to look for ideas for a plan B in case we are not welcomed on the lot. As it turns out the slh With Chuck at the overlook to Great Sacandaga Lake NYlady at the visitor’s center suggested a few campsites nearby and when I asked if she knew about any RV storage areas she said if we wanted to we could just park the RV behind the visitor’s center and she would watch it while she was working 8-5. Further she stated the area was very safe for leaving it there. With plan “B” and “C” solved we drove the motorhome to my friends and parked it in the lot with a note on the windshield that if we needed to move it call me…

We have been here for a few nights now and the RV is just a short walk away from the camp which is convenient. It rained all day here at Camp K the other day and it was really nice not being cooped up in the RV in an all day rain storm. Much better watching it rain from the camp perched upon the hillside overlooking the Great Sacandaga Lake. More friends arrived last night so it will be fun reminiscing about the past with many familiar faces…

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hello New York and last thoughts on PA…

pine river

There were a few other interesting places we visited while in Pennsylvania that I thought I would mention if others travel this way.

Colton Point State Park is the sister park to Leonard Harrison State Park that we visited when we went to see the Pennsylvania grand canyon. It is not as nice a state park or as developed as Leonard State park. But a little more primitive is not always a bad thing. The Rim Trail is a nice hike that traverses the ridge top and connects the many scenic overlooks to the grand canyon below.


There is a dirt road that leads down to the Pine Creek Gorge just off the road that leads up to Colton Point State Park. If you find this road it will run parallel to Pine Creek and you can just pull over to the side of the road and enjoy the beauty of the Pine Creek Gorge or the bottom of the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon.  A great place to have a picnic and enjoy the sounds of Pine Creek rushing by.

Elmira, New York – Originally inhabited by the Iroquois and later home to many dragon boatsPOW camps for the confederacy gave rise to the nickname “Hellmira”. Now known as the place Mark Twain was buried and home to Woodlawn National Cemetery and a large state penal institution. The town as interesting as it sounds lacks real energy and you can feel the doom and gloom that once permeated the town.

We found a park on the outskirts of the town called Eldridge park that was the only gleaming light in this somewhat dismal little town. Here that have a putt putt golf course, paddle boats (dragon boats) for rent on the small lake, and best of all they have the worlds fastest carousel… these ponies could compete in Saratoga at the race track as they have been clocked at a speed of 53 miles per hour… fast, fast ponies. This park is a place that can bring the kid out of you and make you relive many childhood memories.

fast ponies

There were also a lot of nice towns in this area such as Wellsboro, Pennsylvania. This town was indicative of the quaint older towns in the area with a nice assortment of shops, restaurants and pubs.

Jill and SteveBut now we are in New York! We left Ives Run COE park and bid farewell to our new friends Jill and Steve. We are just north of Broadalbin, New York staying at a friends summer “camp” on the banks of the Great Sacandaga Lake. From here we will plan are next few weeks out and determine our winter plans.