Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Acadia National Park

Getting reservations for any campground in Acadia national park is difficult so we stayed in the state park for two days to start our experience.  After a nice lunch in a pullout near the harbor, we set up camp at the state park.  It was hot and humid, for Maine.  Our corner site was not very level but we made due.  We hopped in the jeep and drove straight to the beach.  The familiar red cabbage head jellyfish were plentiful.  As the sun set we headed home for a night of Ally McBeal, we brought the entire series on DVD.  These are my TV addiction medication.  

After several phone calls, the next day, our mail was located.  Kathy's mom had bundled our mail and sent it to us.  We headed into Ba HaBa or Bar Harbor to pick up mail and found a great Thai tea and coffee shop.  Then we were off to drive Acadia Loop.  Beautiful scenery hidden amongst fog and throngs of people.  We drove all the way up  Cadillac Mountain and got more Acadia stamps for Kathy's book National Parks Book.  Cadillac Mountain was a fog fest!  It rolled it heavy as we approached the crest.  At the top, the fog was thicker than pea soup!  Visibility was less than twenty feet.  The drive down was much slower as we feared cars that had pulled off into turn-outs would pull out in front of us.  

At the bottom, the fog was gone.  Hunger called.  We found the Chartroom, as per our locals recommendation from the Mexican restaurant up north, and feasted on lobster.  

Check out from the State Park was accented with a bike crash.  I backed the Jeep into a tree with the bikes on the back.   Kathy was upset mostly because I bent her rim.  Off to KOA for LP.  The nice guy filling our LP told us fellow work campers about corporate KOA jobs. Apparently, they offer great benefits.  A few minutes down the road, we joined the line for camping registration at Seawall Campground, the western park in Acadia.  

The campground was large and full even with no electricity.  It's alway interesting walking around and looking at other rigs.  The most memorable this time was a small class B. They set up behind us across the narrow road.  When they open the door out jumps two large white dogs.  Yes, two Great Pyraness and two adults in a large van!  

After our snooping around walk, we drove to many of the Acadia sights, Echo Lake, Seal Cove, Bass Harbor lighthouse.  Beauty at every turn but we were somewhat let down.  We decided our mistake was visiting Alaska first.  

We followed another recommendation and had dinner at the Seafood Street Diner.  It was pricy but flavors were spot on.  Upscale progressive dining and cocktails.  We recommend it too!  

On the way home, we stopped and watched the tide come in.  We sat on the rocks for an hour or so.  I enjoyed searching tide pools for starfish and crabs, picking at shiny rocks and watching seagulls of every variety.  We watched ducks swim in the ocean, yes finally, the real Atlantic Ocean.

Our evening entertainment the Ranger Todd show.  The program was about the sounds of the area.  Todd entertained us with his "twin" brother Ted (really just Todd) singing corny renditions of recognizable tunes. The walk home was in the real dark.  With only a disposable flashlight obtained from the Wisconsin Lumberjack competitions, and solar powered path lights we walked cautiously home.

The next day we had errands to do in town.  We found a laundry mat and tried to charge our computers, iPads and iPhones.  We bought groceries at the expensive town market and pharmacy.  Back to the seashore, the pounding surf, and a call with a job offer for next summer in South Dakota working at a motel. We discussed returning to Alaska, for a winter, well Kathy did.

Dinner on the open grate fire pit of steak and hobo potatoes we celebrated our last night in Acadia.  Finally, a flicker of our lights, our house batteries had dropped because we hadn't  used the generator for over five days.  We learned what our new limits of our batteries.  I finished reading Walking My Dog, Jane and decided, Alaska here we come!  Well, not quite yet.  



Sunday, May 14, 2017

New England

We crossed the New Hampshire state line and met first real New England accent almost immediately.  This 80 something man was chatting us up at a gas station asking where "you two young women" were heading?  When we said the east coast, this gentleman who'd informed us he'd never been to the mountains told us how to drive to Florida from Maine without paying a toll.  "Yuh go sowt on I 81 to I 84 with highway 71 in dare somewhere."  

I wish I could write it the way I heard it.  We had arrived someplace new.  

With limited cell service, we fell back to maps and ended up driving in circles.  I was glad we had followed this lovely road that crossed a river back and forth as we saw four covered bridges.  One bridge caused us to change our route as 12'6" clearance would not accommodate us.  

We finally decided to camp at Umbagogo Lake State Park.  In one day, we had meandered through most of northern New Hampshire and landed almost in Maine.  After setting up camp, we drove across the state line to see if we had phone service in Maine.  Still no luck.  No Verizon service at all.  This is not common for us as we selected Verizon for its extensive network.  

The next morning it was raining, how Maine like.  On the way, out we decide to hook up Jeep in boat parking area.  Kathy admitted road weariness after discovering she'd driven from our site to this area with the parking brake on.  We smelled hot brakes, checked out our rig, sure enough they were hot after just two blocks of driving.  Back on the road with an agreement for real camping soon.   Not tonight though as we headed to Bangor to do laundry and check out town if possible.  We needed LP gas too.

In Bangor, we landed as "intentional tourists" check the reference if you dare about "the accidental tourist" for an amusing tail of hospitality.

We set up camp in the park and ride lot adjacent to Walmart.  Kathy said she found it on ALLSTAYS but later conceded that parking overnight in a park and ride lot is only allowed in New Hampshire.  Anyway no one chased us away and by morning we had one class B, one trailer, one car, two vans, one pickup and one VW Camper bus joining us.   The lot is designed for rain runoff and we put leveling blocks under our front end for the frig sake and sleeping sake.  His is something we would never do in a parking lot overnight situation usually.  We disconnected jeep and parked it in front of us so we wouldn't get blocked in by morning commuters too.  It had a nice grassy area to walk the puppy and although it was full a trash can be available too.  

Bangor didn't have a good feel.  I thought "too city" but even after driving around it just felt unkempt.  We left the dog behind and drove to see Stephen King’s house.  It's easy to find and we believe he may have been home, the gate was open and two nice cars were parked near the garages.  We didn't want to disturb anyone but sat in the Jeep a little longer than we might have, thinking someone might come out of the house.  No luck though.  Driving back to the RV included a stop at L.L. Bean, no luck, there either.  We did however, see Paul Bunyan and Babe at the art institute.  

It was a very quiet night, except for the rain.  We worried about the bulge in our ceiling near the AC unit, we have a leak, I'll need to get to the next dry day.  On drove north to camp for four days with electricity, water, laundry, and free Wi-Fi for $30.  We looked intently for moose as we were told they were quite common.  We had no luck.  Narrow bumpy roads and the last five miles barely a road into Danforth.  

The Greenland Cove Park is nice, tough to get into dump station while coming in as it is designed to use while exiting.  Our site was not level, although we had asked for one.  But laundry room was cheap.  The Swimming pool closed for the season already so kids swam in the lake.  We took the Jeep for a Drive through the neighborhood looking for flyers about lake houses for sale.  We parked near the boat ramp took off our shoes and waded in the warm water. Frances is so cute but she didn't want to get wet and wouldn't go into the water.

The next day the campground got busier. More weekend neighbors filled in sites while we finished our projects on RV.  The roof leak was a simple removal of the AC cover and caulking. It was warm so I swam in the lake with the kids while Kathy and Frances watched.  After our stay, we drove south to Calais.  

Is was too warm for dry camping at Walmart so we stayed at the motor inn.  Drove to Moosehorn refuge, they did not have a stamp.  We saw no moose but watched mom and two fledgling bald eagles.  We shopped at Walmart then ate pizza at Joe's.  We Could see Canada from the dinner table.  After dinner we found the world's best beer store.  It was connected to a recycling facility, how apropros.  

We drove up to see the most northern lighthouse on the Maine coast.  Privately owned and on the St. Croix River.  Then down to national historic site of the St. Croix Island.  Back out to a different part of the refuge for stamp.  Success!  Sadly, they had a large display of confiscated objects made from endangered animals to visitors how wildlife trafficking threatens the sustainability and survival of hundreds of species worldwide. 

We packed up and drove south to Cobscook State Park.  It was nice and quiet.  We had our choice of pull thru sites.  The campground had no amenities including flush toilets but the ranger was kind and friendly.  We drove two miles to the boat launch and watched the tide come in.  This is one place you can see levels change quick rapidly as every six hours the tide raises or lowers twenty-four feet.  

At dusk, we went into the town of Lubec.  We were preparing for trip our next trip Canada to see Campobello, the Roosevelt vacation home.  

Heavy morning fog, offered muted views of coastlines and lighthouses.  We toured the Roosevelt "cottage", a house with 34 rooms.  Even today not a cottage by any definition.  We tried to join the Eleanor Tea, but it was full.  I would recommend this as part of the tour if you can attend.  Instead we drove the carriage roads in the natural areas for the island and viewed Murdoch light house before coming back into the U.S. Maria's Chocolates was an excellent side trip and yes, they ship.  I know where I'm shopping for Christmas, yes, they have sugar free confections as well.  

Back home for a relaxing afternoon of reading, napping and bbqing chicken.  The next day 11 am check out seemed early after blueberry pancakes for breakfast.  Another short drive brought us to McClenan City Park.  

Our reserved site was well marked and included our name, thanks Dennis.  Luckily it was as if we would have driven down toward the other campsites we would have been stuck with no room to turn around.  The park is clean with small tent sites and one large pull through.  As we parked Joy took a spin I the jeep to find a self-pay station or Dennis.  She found neither.  She did find a locked woodshed and office area behind which are flush toilets, a nice surprise.  She also found a picnic area with a young Canadian couple trying to figure out if they were camping or not.  They left a few minutes later.  No tap water, no dump, really roughing it.  A quick trip to town for phone service, computer access at the library, and groceries. Then home to Mrs. Dennis and paying the bill.  

Laundry with free Wi-Fi and lunch at Veldez Mexican takeout.  Yes, we crave real Mexican food and settle for store bought tortillas and Pace picante.  We shared a picnic table with two men from Texas and a local.  The man from Maine gave us advice for our Acadia trip. After finishing the laundry, we purchased crab and clam cakes from a local fishing company.  Back at camp we took a walk to the rocky edge of Atlantic Ocean sat and listened while the sun lowered behind us.  

The next morning Mr. Dennis stopped by with a large bag of green beans fresh from his garden. He wished us well as he checked garbage cans as we broken camp heading for Acadia.  

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Upstate New York and Vermont

Upstate New York along the Canadian border is something between the beauty of Minnesota and the subculture of Deliverance.  I'm sure you wonder where we get our impressions of places when we travel so quickly through some of these areas.  So let me introduce you to some of the characters we met in upstate New York.  First, there's Marge, a cross between Flo saying "kiss my grits" on Mel/s Diner and Edith, Archie Bunker's wife.  Marge is a waitress at a coffee shop where we sought desert and coffee.  She'd been dealing with all the tourists of the season, has opinions about everything, but has never heard of bread pudding.  Most of her opinions align with 20th century thinking, or earlier.

Next there's Buddy.  He's a hard working American beer drinker who lost his good paying job to foreigners and now tries to make a little extra down at the casinos.  I met him after we visited the Eisenhower Lock to watch sailboats go through.

We stopped at International RV park.  Kathy filled water while I visited with the locals about a bridge that had been built in 1899 and used until 1970.

Finally, there's the RV park manager who brags about his comprehensive maps of the area and gun collection.  We were in Adirondack park trying to find BLM camping. He talked us out of dry camping in the area after sightings of the escaped convict in the area. One escaped prisoner had been shot two miles away from where we planned to camp and the locals were gun toting rednecks.

Back north to the Walmart in Malone, we ended up parking out front near the Tractor Supply and the noisy highway.  We were getting a good night's sleep except for frogs then we were awoken by a vomiting dog.

The next day, we happily crossed Lake Champlain into Vermont.  Vermont, home of the earth-loving green people and many famous lesbians, should welcome the two of us and our rig.  Beth Robinson served as co-counsel in the case of Baker v. State, the landmark 1999 decision that led to Vermont becoming the first state to enact civil unions. We hoped that the home of gay marriage, Vermont, would offer a diverse cultural experience. We found little beyond hunting and fishing.  That being said, our first campground was lakeside and would have been perfect if it weren't next to a large fifth wheel with two tents and fifteen kids outside.

Our next stop was Brighton State Park.  $30.00 with no services was shocking but even more shocking was their idea of a level site for a 35' rig.  The angle of the driveway and the ditch caused by rain runoff was terrible.  We got stuck while turning into the spot. Without freaking out, I created a ramp with our levelers in order to get in/ We got it in and we stayed in! After a quick swim in the cool pond and a campfire, we chatted with our neighbor, Denise.  She is a youth minister who camps at Brighton nearly every summer.

This next morning, we decided to visit the only national wildlife refuge in Vermont.  We drove 7.5 mile toward Missisquoi NWR. After briefly getting lost, we finally found it and got our stamp/

Back at camp, we asked for fill to fill the ditch.  The camp host brought two five gallon buckets and was not too enthused about it. Kathy moved the rig back and forth about 8 times as I moved out leveling blocks to build mini-bridges over the ditch and watched tree limbs. We finally got the hell out without a scratch. While saying goodbye to Denise, she told us dogs were not allowed in NH state parks.  The northeast was continuing to show its unfriendliness toward RV'ers.  Luckily, Denise was wrong.