New England

Back in the States!

The drive through southern New Brunswick to the northern U.S. border was easy and eye-pleasing. Beautiful rolling forests with many trees showing fall colors. I might just need to get me a dash cam and see if I can capture some of the beautiful sights I come across since I can’t pull out every time another scene of nature catches my eye.

I returned to the good ole USA at the Calais, Maine port of entry. And was lucky to get the nicest (and cutest!) border control agent. She noticed the Samaritan’s Purse decal on my trailer window and commented that she loves Franklin Graham’s organization and still listens to some of Billy’s sermons. Really a nice lady. She welcomed me home and we wished each other blessed days. Nice way to arrive back in the States!

US Coastal Route 1 winds its way down, well, the northeast Maine coast. It dips inland and climbs and falls through beautiful hills, forests, past rivers, you get the idea. Nice drive. I eventually checked into an overpriced and narrow site at the KOA near Bar Harbor. Leaving the trailer behind I grabbed some good chili at a pub in town and then drove through Acadia National Park. I’d been there before so I didn’t spend much time; just wanted a refresher of how pretty the park is.

After a rainy, windy night I first stopped into Martha’s Diner in Ellsworth for an awesome country breakfast before heading across US Highway 2 through central Maine into northern New Hampshire. On my previous trip up here a few years ago I’d driven the Maine coast so I wanted something different and that would position me well for Vermont. Great drive—again! As I was about to pass through the town of Bethel I saw Sunday River Brewing standing by the roadside. So I did what I do, nearly locking the trailer wheels to stop in time! With just 45 minutes left to drive I had their IPA and Porter and then headed on. Both were good beers. An hour later and more awesome scenery (I’m running outta adjectives) I pulled into a nicely wooded KOA at Twin Mountain, NH. Drudged through the chore of laundry (my next rig will have on-board washer & dryer) and, well, began writing this post. Forecasters are predicting possibly severe storms tonight so I might pull the slides in before hitting the rack. More tomorrow …

Into Vermont

Light & moderate rain last night made for a wet departure, disconnecting power & water. But the day was spectacular! Blue skies, changing colors in the trees, great drive continuing across US Route 2 and eventually onto Vermont Highway 100, heading south. This road is rated by NatGeo as one of the best drives in the US. They got it right. It’s a wonderful road! I followed Route 100 to Rochester where I hung a right toward Brandon where small Foley Brothers Brewing is located. As I started to make a tight right turn down the one lane side road that leads to the brewery I noticed a semi-truck & trailer backing up the driveway to the brewery. Sensing trouble navigating around him, I backed up onto the state highway. That’s always fun. A mile down the road I was able to loop back on  another side road, park the rig in a small turnout and walk up to the brewery.

These guys make good IPAs. I liked them all (in sample sizes): Big Bang, Citrennial, Pieces of Eight, Fair Maiden, and Skeleton Crew. While small and with little seating, it’s a really cool, authentic location. Wanting another but deciding against it, I figured the remaining 30 minute drive to the campground was gonna simply wind down the day’s trip. The B in the dash had other ideas…

Major construction in downtown Brandon prevented me from making the turn onto Highway 73. So the B in the dash figured she’d take me down a freaking dirt road into a dead end. The homeowner at the end of the road said the navigation apps have been doing this quite a bit the past week. Nothing like backing 57′ of truck and trailer about a half-mile to a point where I could jockey the trailer into the weeds to finagle a seven-point turn. That’s always fun. Trust me, I cussed that B in the dash!

Having recovered from that blunder, she pulled the same BS again a few minutes later! This time I stopped before getting in too deep. Another homeowner came out as I was attempting to reverse direction and guided me to a reasonable exit path. He, too, said the nav apps seemed to have become particularly evil the past week or so. I might be investing in Garmin’s RV product… Anyway, I got to the campground, grilled some precooked (and not very good) ribs, and watched the recap/analysis of the Judge Kavanaugh hearing. Lindsay Graham hit it outta the park: what a perfectly spoken assessment of the circus the dems have made of confirmation hearings.

More Vermont Wandering

Took a full day and just drove around central Vermont. I headed up Equinox Mountain Skyline Drive but unfortunately it was cloudy at the top so the viewing was petty limited. Back down, I drove more of Highway 100, visited a general store and a couple breweries; Long Trail, a large operation and Killington Beer Company, a more-to-my-liking small place on the road to the ski mountain. I especially liked their Super * Stout and the seasonal pumpkin ale.

The weather lady said fall colors are a week or two behind schedule this year otherwise I’d have been right in the thick of it. Nevertheless, this is gorgeous country and hopefully I’ll see more color in upstate New York. Anyway, I couldn’t believe the day went as fast as it did but after a quick bite at Hop’n Moose in Rutland I was back at camp and fell asleep watching a crappy downloaded movie on Netflix. Heading to Schenectady for a week of base camping and day trips to the Adirondacks. Might even make a side trip to Rhode Island to check the box for having visited that state, too.

New York

For the short drive from Lake Bomoseen, VT to Schenectady, NY I took US 4, part of the Lakes to Locks Passage. The road pretty much follows the river and is a nice drive through several small towns. Then the traffic picks up nearing Albany and the B in the dash tried to take me under another low bridge, dammit! I gotta get something better to identify unsuitable roads but the research I’ve done hasn’t led to any really good GPS/Nav solutions. I’m still looking…

Arrowhead Marina & RV Park just outside Schenectady is a low-key campground along the Mohawk River which I chose for its location to town. My plan was to get the bedside of my truck fixed but turned out that the shop in Schenectady couldn’t handle aluminum repairs. They had the truck a day and a half before letting me know. So I returned their rental, picked up my pickup and decided to cut my stay in the area short by a couple days, especially since the campground was a mud pit from the daily rain.

But before leaving I made an awesome side trip through Adirondack Park, sans trailer. Fall colors ranged from just showing to full peak. It was beautiful! Traffic was light during the midweek; I’m sure its amping up this weekend. I spent the night in the cool village of Lake Placid, taking advantage of a looooong shower without worrying about running outta hot water or filling a gray water tank. Having TV for the first time in a month was nice too, as most of Canada and the recent US campgrounds were blackouts.

I shudda taken a pic of my breakfast skillet at a restaurant on Main St. It was ridiculously big and huge; I got about half-way through it. Continuing the 300ish mile loop that covered much of Adirondack Park, I enjoyed the colors and drive across mountains, by rivers and lakes, and through autumnal meadows. So glad I made the trip into the mountains. Would like to spend a few days in  Lake Placid as it turns to winter.

Next destination: Pennsylvania. The drive through south central New York, while on interstate highways for much of the route, was so nice. Lots of color, relatively light traffic—although the B tried to take me down another inappropriate road. Grrrr…..

I arrived at the KOA near State College about 4:30pm and forced my rig into a too-short site. I’ve decided I wanna design and build a campground. It’s unreal how poorly designed some are. For the one night it wasn’t a big deal; it just didn’t need to be so tight.

That’s it for New York! Trying to figure out my route from here, after visiting the Flight 93 Memorial tomorrow. But that’s for the next post. Home is a weekish away so it’s still over the horizon but I’m another state closer today!

An Uncommon Field

My drive through south-central New York into Pennsylvania was another pretty drive, even on the interstate highway. I encountered occasional light to moderate rain making my way to the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville. I might’ve mistimed this visit because the National Park was pretty busy, I assume because it was yet another holiday weekend (dang holidays bring out the tourists, lol).

Man, even the drive from the US highway into the memorial site sets the tone for the visit. This is a well designed place of remembrance and honor. The park roadway winds past the Tower of Voices and continues a couple miles to the visitor center which overlooks the crash site. Nicely, introspectively and respectfully designed, the center provides good coverage of that horrendous day’s events while lending focus to Flight 93 and its heroes. This solemn place extracts feelings of sadness, gratitude, respect. It’s a fitting tribute to the men and women of Flight 93. Beautiful field spoiled by blood, recaptured to honor a tragic memory of an event that undoubtedly saved hundreds, maybe thousands of lives. I’m glad I went out of my way to experience this important slice of our history. “A common field one day. A field of honor forever.”

And so, that’s it for Pennsylvania. I had visited other key sites in the state earlier this year and recapped those visits here. I slacked in front of the TV watching football Saturday evening and all day Sunday, and plotting the last weekish of my summer journey. There’s still a couple/few places I really wanna visit so stay tuned! The trip ain’t quite over yet.

Kentucky

The Genesis Museums

For some time now I’ve been intrigued by the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter, both projects of reputable Answers in Genesis. So since I was within relative spitting distance I decided to pay them a visit. The Creation Museum is just southwest of Cincinnati and the Ark Encounter is 45 minutes south of there.

Ark Encounter
Ark Encounter
Ark Encounter
Ark Encounter
Ark Encounter
Ark Encounter

Gotta say, I was a little disappointed in both. I’d visited the Museum of the Bible, in Washington DC last year and found it absolutely amazing. Information there was professionally presented in an intellectually challenging way. I think my takeaway on these two attractions is they are also well-done but seem to target a different audience: kids. Must be lots of kids in home schooling because the Creation Museum had lots of ’em, along with many seniors riding many scooters. The pervasiveness of strollers and scooters at both exhibits was unreal.

Anyway, both exhibits do a good (if somewhat elementary) job of explaining and promoting the Biblical view of the creation and destruction/re-creation story. I might not recommend traveling here just for the two museums but if you’re in or passing through the area, they are certainly worth seeing—especially if you’ve got kids or someone along who doesn’t buy the Biblical accounts. The museums present compelling information for the Creation by God worldview.

In the afternoon I backed into a really nice site at Elkhorn Campground where Elkhorn Creek flowed gently past me. I initially thought about cutting my stay here short but given the peaceful site along the creek and a couple breweries in Lexington and the Buffalo Trace distillery right next door, I’ll hang here until Friday morning when I make my next lap toward home.

Thursday was a kick-around Lexington kinda day. Read: I visited a few of their breweries. I started with  Country Boy Brewing where friendly & cute beertender Kelley and I chatted. Country Boy has 24 of their own beers on tap—every one of them quite solid especially 2nd Crop Wet Hop IPA and Little Black Train, a stout. West Sixth Brewing had an unique Oktoberfest with Dry Hopped Cascade that worked. The Heller Heaven Double IPA was also pretty tasty. Finally dinner at Mirror Twin Brewing—a superb BBQ chicken pizza topped off with a spritz of Kentucky bourbon—paired with the decent Citranomical IPA, but my favorite brew here was, interestingly, their Not Your Moms Pumpkin Pie.

I visited no distilleries while in Kentucky; just wasn’t feeling it. Will catch them next time since Kentucky is pretty centrally located.

Land Between the Lakes
Campsite - Prizer Point KOA
Campsite – Prizer Point KOA

An easy four-hour drive on the Bluegrass Parkway and then the Western Kentucky Parkway, both of which slice through the middle of the state, took me to Prizer Point on the east shore of Lake Barkley. Really a nice location where I backed the trailer onto a site literally hanging over the lake. This would make a nice week-long stay in the summer, as the KOA here includes paddle-boards, kayaks and other water sports in the site fee. As it was, I just stayed tethered to the truck, wanting an early start in the morning for the 7-hour drive to Hot Springs. I’ll spend two nights there, hopefully with TV signal to enjoy the Saturday evening and Sunday games from the comfort of my recliner since it’s supposed to rain all weekend. Weather-permitting I’ll be home Monday and will recap this incredible trip then.

Summing Up Summer 2018

In a word: WOW!

I’m sure I don’t have all the right words to express how phenomenal this summer adventure has been. If you’ve been following along since June 17 when I left DFW you’ve got a sense of how awesome this trip has been. But you really can’t know… As they say, ya gotta be there—and I truly wish you could’ve been.

The kickoff week with Julie & Brad, Rachael and Roman at Port of Kimberling on Table Rock Lake was great fun. Meandering around Michigan for a month was superb. Circumnavigating Lake Superior was, well,  pretty superior. Crossing much of southern Ontario and eastern Quebec was a beautiful drive and great hiking.  The Gaspe Peninsula coastal drive . . beautiful! Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island and Bay of Fundy were incredible. Newfoundland—well, there’s something about that land! Fall colors in New England, the somber memorial of Flight 93, and so much more. Great times, great memories!

What an awesome opportunity, honor and blessing to be able to experience  such a wide variety of sights, people, places. God has been very gracious to me, looking out for my safety and encountering me in so many places in  such sweet ways. I could feel the power of your prayers for my safety as I traveled along. Thank you. I’m truly blessed.

A few trip stats might be kinda interesting:

  • Racked up a total of 13,747 miles
  • The trailer hung with me for 11,374 miles
  • Drove a total of 380 hours
  • Traveled through 17 states and 6 Canadian provinces
  • Stayed in 59 different campsites over 119 days
  • Averaged 12 MPG in fuel consumption
  • Spent $3,693 on fuel (yikes!)
  • Spent $1,229 on ferries
  • Used less than 60 pounds of propane for cooking, cooling, heating
  • Bought two new tires

That’s it folks. A wonderful trip is a wrap. And it’s nice to be home! I’m now at the Vineyards Campground on Lake Grapevine (at least until the rising lake floods us all out!)

Love y’all. God’s best,

Mark