Monday, August 27, 2012

Tears of joy...tears of sadness...

As some of you know, we've been spending the last two weeks in central New York camping with our five grandchildren, ages 11, 9, 8, 5 & 2 1/2. My son Nathan went to work each day (before sunrise!) and then joined all of us after work, through the night. What a joy to spend such quality time with each one of them!

We chose a KOA Campground that was fairly close to his work, to make his commute as easy as possible. We rented a "Kabin" just across from our space, to make it easier on us! KOA's are usually one of the cleanest, most social & dependable campgrounds you can count on. This one said it had "a fishing pond (yea! they love to fish), paddle boats (oh boy, good activity), an arcade room (good for the older ones), a playground (good for the two little ones), a large swimming pool with a slide (yea! good for all of us) and "planned activities for the whole family". Well, it was quite an exaggeration. The "fishing pond" turned out to be a very small, algae covered, low fish thing; the paddle boats (2)on it were a joke since it would take two pushes and you would be across the pond! The "arcade" was two machines that took almost $2 each just to play 1 game. The "activities" turned out to be 1 night of a "flashlight candy hunt & a ride around the park in a wagon. The only saving grace was the pool. It wasn't heated, so cold as all get out, but luckily that didn't stop the kids! It was a great move of Nathan's to bring their bikes too!

Our first week was a combination of "getting to know us, again" and the excitement of being at a campground. Routines began to be established, meals figured out (each one had their own "pickyness") and familiarisation of where everything in the campground was. The older ones were a great help in all of that. By week two, the older ones were comfortable enough with us to "test" all the "brother-sister" rivalry and teasing on us. The two youngest ones became more used to us and I could now understand (most of) Avida's (the baby) words. She and I bonded. The last couple of days they all had made friends with other kids, but the pool wasn't always enough to keep them entertained and boredom along with missing their Mom, set in. The only one who seemed completely content was the baby. She never tired of the "baby wing" & the sandbox. By now she knew the pool was awfully cold, so was pretty content to sit with me on the edge and dangle our feet together. Her "gamma" requests were predictable and endearing.

At the day's end was Nathan & the campfire ring, that was the best time. All of us sitting around after dinner and sharing our day, toasting marshmallows, telling stories and singing. On the weekends, Nathan's girlfriend and son joined us - that made a family of 10. Pure joy. We broke up the monotony by having a few "special days". One was when Grandpa took the two boys and went to see Howe's Caverns, out to lunch, then a movie. We girls baked cupcakes, made fudge, deviled eggs, Jello, and a multi-layered Mexican dip for lunch. We polished our fingers and toes, and put make-up on! Giggles and spoon & bowl licking were all part of the fun. Everyone couldn't wait to show off ourselves and the fun foods we made! The last weekend...miniature golf and pizza!

Since it's been a very long time since I had to entertain 2-11 year olds, I turned to my daughter for ideas! She came through like the super-mom I knew she was! So there were days of scavenger hunts & eye spy games; days with making silly masks to take pictures for "Auntie LaLa", movies and ice cream parties.

As with all "vacations", this one had to end as well. That day came yesterday, filled with packing, spending last minutes with their new friends, cleaning up and finishing off all of the special food. The baby & I took one last nap together. As the day was ending, the tears began. Living so far away, I've only gotten to see them about once a year at the most, but thinking of them & missing them daily. My family so spread out...a daughter, son-in-law & grandson in California, a son & fiance in Texas and my son and his children in New York - all so far apart. As time ages the children and parents vacations can be planed, I would love for all of us to have a real "family vacation" all together! Perhaps next year...

In the mean time, I dab my eyes, take deep breaths and remind myself how great our time was and plan for the next time...

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

...on the road in New York, Marie

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Oh Canada! Second stop, Nova Scotia...

After driving all through the Bay of Fundy, we next entered Nova Scotia, and once again stopped at the Visitor's Center and loaded up with brochures and a map. The weather wasn't great, but we made the best of it anyway...after all, how many times does one get to travel all the way to Nova Scotia!

We spent a day in Halifax, while it rained. The Farmer's Market was quite something, but nothing I couldn't live without. We spent most of the time in their Maritime Museum really enjoying the various exhibits and stories. Seems that they had the unpleasant job of bringing in all the bodies from the sinking of the Titanic. They had quite a large exhibit from that time and the various memorabilia connected to it. Afterward, we drove around the city where I saw some pretty cool murals & buildings. While driving back, we drove through a small town called Truro that had some fun sculptures, they were carved from their stately elm trees that they loss to Dutch elm disease. They decided to turn an unfortunate situation into a plus, so sought support from the local businesses and was successful in having three artists turn them into a thing of beauty! Clever.

The scenery along the water's edge was nice and we were able to track down a few lighthouses and some really fun, funky "yard art" along the way. Jack couldn't get over the amount of wood people had stacked up getting ready for their winter! We talked with one person who said they average between 6-14 cords depending on the size and age (older homes are harder to heat) of your house. She said it was about $600 per cord, if you did the cutting yourself! Ugh, that's cold!!

I will confess, I was under-whelmed with Nova Scotia over all. I sure don't understand what all the excitement was about. Perhaps we didn't venture in "deep enough", so I will give them the benefit of doubt. My most favorite thing there tho, was watching the sun rise! Nova Scotia gets the sunrise first. It wasn't planned, but I just happened to come awake at the right time and once I realized what was happening, I grabbed my camera and dashed outside! What a show! I've never seen anything like it. I was so very glad I got to see it, I'll remember it always. All in all, the trip wasn't a bad one, just not what we had expected, I guess. Truth be told, I think America is much prettier!

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

...on the road in New England, Marie

Friday, August 10, 2012

Oh Canada! First stop, New Brunswick...

Often times when we are on the road, we will meet people that ask us where we are heading next, etc. Several times we were asked if we had planned on going into Canada and traveling to Nova Scotia. When we shared that we hadn't plan to, we would get responses like "oh, you should think about's absolutely gorgeous!" When a ranger at the Blue Ridge Mountains told me that, I thought "wow, this area is really beautiful, and if he thinks that Nova Scotia is even more beautiful, then maybe we should go!"

So, we re-routed our trip and added it to our itinerary! We entered Canada from Calais Maine, into New Brunswick. As we always do, we stopped off at the Visitor Information Center to learn what route we should drive to see the "best" of New Brunswick and get us to Nova Scotia. And, as usual, they were very helpful. We learned about the unusual tide changes along the Bay of Fundy and what sites you can see due to this occurrence. So that's the route we decided to take!

We were told that the Bay of Fundy Trail "hugs" the coastline where we can stop and see pristine beaches, tumbling waterfalls, pre-Camrian rocks and towering cliffs at the water's edge. The famous Hopewell Rocks were on this trail as well. So, books, maps and brochures in hand, off we set!

Well...their idea of driving along the coastline, and ours, weren't quite the same. When I think of "driving along the coastline" I think of Route 1/101 along the California coast. You are just a 'stone's throw' from the water. While some of the route was like this, much of it was really more like a mile or two from it. The map's outline made it look like you were right along the edge, but in reality, not so much. So, in order to see places you actually had to leave the "trail" and drive to them. However, that said, the spots we did stop at were GREAT!

Our first glimpse of the "tides", was at a small harbor. It's weird to see boats tied to a dock, but sitting on a mud ocean floor, then to come back later and they are all floating as boats are supposed to do! We made a couple of "special stops" and one was at the Hopewell Rocks. These were first carved by melting glaciers, then sculpted by the worlds highest tides. When the tide is out, you can walk among them, actually walking on the ocean floor! When the tide comes in, it is 40' deep! Yep, you read right, 40 feet I asked a park ranger why so high (all the literature talked about is what causes tides - the gravity of the moon - but that doesn't explain why so high here)and he explained that it's such a narrow channel along the bay, that when the water flows in, it has nowhere else to go, but up! The same goes for St Martin's Sea Caves - fun to walk into at low tide, then later one can kayak into them!

As we drove along the trail, one side was a cliff made by these beautiful purple rocks, mixed in with cream & black ones. I don't know what made them that color (geologist help?) but I couldn't take my eyes off of them. We also climbed down to where a small, but pretty waterfall was flowing. The last stop we made was at a suspension bridge that spans the Salmon River with a main span of approximately 350 feet. Jack didn't go out there with me, but it was really cool to walk across and look down at the river and beyond! I actually like the movement of suspension bridges and enjoy walking across them!

The campground we stayed in that night had a "jam session" which was fun to listen to. Just ordinary folks who happen to play an instrument, gathering together to share some music. Each person took a turn choosing what they wanted to play, it was a nice way to end the day, that and a pretty sunset! Lucky us.

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

...on the road in New England, Marie

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Maine stays...Part 2

We spent a full day driving around the Acadia National Park. What a beautiful drive. It had a little of everything, beautiful forests, unusual beaches, waterfalls, loads of pretty flowers (both planted and wild), a wonderful restaurant, great views, an incredible bridge and even a lighthouse!

One of my favorite stops was at Hunter's Beach in the Mount Desert Island. One of the photographers that I had met in Belfast, had taken some photos of it and told me where to find it. What a treasure! Gorgeous cobblestones of all sizes and all colors. They had been "well-rounded" from the ocean floor, producing a wonderfully smooth surface. I couldn't help but take tons of pictures of them! Each one was different, each one more beautiful than the one before. Seeing them wet and dry produced different "looks".

Another stop was at the only restaurant in the park, the Jordan Pond House. A lovely old "tea house" dating back to the 1800's. The massive interior would have been enough to just gawk at, but they also had plantings of beautiful flowers all around it, through the back yard, along sidewalks, etc. Very picturesque and the food was good too!

As you enter the park, you drive over the Penobscot Narrows Bridge & Observatory which is breathtaking in itself. It has an observation window on the very top of one of the obelisk towers that is said to give you a 360 degree view of the Penobscot River and bay, the Maine countryside and the distant mountains to the west. We had hoped to make it in time at the end of the day to take the elevator to the top; but unfortunately we didn't. I did get some fun shots of the bridge at night tho.

Another day visit was to Bar Harbor. When I think of Maine, Bar Harbor is what comes to mind. A small little village really, but most charming! We did the "tourist" thing and pretty much just walked around, stopping in at the various shops and restaurants, buying souvenirs and just enjoying the lovely sunny day.

Our last location in Maine was in Calais. This town is the very last American town before you enter New Brunswick Canada. We stayed at a nice family camp with a pretty pond, a level site and really nice folks who own it. It was a great location to do day trips from and to start & end our trip over to Canada. We were having some mail challenges (not catching up to us in time) and they graciously agreed to hold on to any until we returned from Canada. They even "plant sat" for our one plant that we carry with us. We didn't want to take the chance that one of the borders (to/from) would confiscate it!

All in all, we really enjoyed Maine. For such a small state, it really has a lot to see and do! Like everywhere else, the people were really friendly and fun to talk with (gotta love the accent!). Other states will have a tough act to follow!

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

...on the road in New England, Marie

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Maine stays...Part 1

From Massachusetts we traveled to Maine, staying at various towns throughout the state - even leaving it to go to Canada, then return to Maine for more town visits. One of the delightful towns we stayed in, wasn't one on the "must see" list, but one that happened to be at the right place in our route to "stop for the day". Belfast turned out to be a nice surprise. It's small town had big charm, fun bookstores (we always check those out in what ever town we happen to spend time in), very fun art, great old buildings and a pretty harbor.

A clever artist showed his creativity in making chairs out of all kinds of things and placing them throughout the town with signs saying "please be seated". I had great delight in tracking them down and having Jack sit in each one while I took his picture! Some were comfortable like the one made from a wine barrel or the one made from a large tree root, some not so much like the one made from buoys or the one made of metal and looked like a "wild woman" - but all such fun!

Belfast had other artists as well, a few photographers that each had their own style and subject matter to offer, another was a gentleman who carved people's faces out of logs. I was told that he has a new selection about every two months. The locals like to guess "who" they are and if he has selected one of them as his "model"!

Penobscot Bay
, was also a beautiful spot with it's pleasure boats all tethered out in the bay. Their harbor was colorful and reminiscent of a time when it had been more commercial.

And what would Maine be without all it's various lighthouses! There were far more that we could take the time to see, but we did manage to track down a few, like the Pleasant Point Lighthouse, in Cobscook Bay, and the beautiful red & white striped one of West Quoddy Head Light, in Lubec. I even climbed along a side of the hill to get a shot of the Whitlock Mill Lighthouse, in Calais.

We spent one afternoon learning about the local Passamaquoddy Indians in the Acadia area and St Croix Island where the French tried to settle it in 1604. They weren't prepared for the severity of the North American winter. The river froze and the settlers were trapped, cut off from the mainland and fresh water, game and the wood needed to fuel their fires. It wasn't long before many died, leaving the captain eager to "return to Port Royal"! One of the Park's guides is Passamaquoddy herself, so it was very interesting when she shared various things about her tribe and the beautiful baskets they made.

A lot to see and learn about this beautiful state...

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

...on the road in New England and Canada, Marie

A day in our life...

As I sit here, thinking about how far behind I am in getting my blogs written, what I want to write, and what I'd rather be doing now...I thought I would share with you, a what a "typical" travel day is like for us, first...

I don't think our bodies have totally adjusted to the different time zones. Not having to get up by a certain time to "go to work", we've slowly changed our routine to later dinners (or just two meals, making one around 4pm, then "dessert" around 8pm)and staying up late (11pm-midnight) and waking up late (8:30-10am). Most mornings are spent leisurely getting up and having a light breakfast, then when we are pulling out that day, we slowly get things "buttoned down" and usually pull out sometime between 10-11am. It's a rare day that we "rush" anything!

We mostly drive the "back roads" whenever we can, staying off the main interstates. The beauty & grandeur along these roads is what makes this country so mesmerizing. No billboards or advertising to distract you. These roads usually take a bit longer, but the traffic is much fewer. I also like that the speed limits along them are usually a bit lower, mostly around 45-55 mph, dropping down to 35 mph at each small town. This way, we can enjoy the scenery better.

These roads are usually filled with trees and wild flowers all along the edges. Meadows are filled with knee high grasses and wild flowers of every color. Tucked in here and there are simple homes, farmlands, small lakes, ponds and streams. The water level has been pretty low in most parts, but every once in awhile we cross over a fast-flowing river or stream that always brings a smile and an "oh look!" Of course there has been the "coastlines" where the views run the gambit of sandy beaches to cliffs overlooking gorgeous waterways. We pop in one of our Cd's of New Orleans jazz or Zydeco and just tootle down the road. Sometimes when we come over a rise, we are in awe of the vista we see out our large front window.

My only disappointment is the lack of seeing much wildlife. Occasionally we will see a deer or two, but not much else. (we have seen a couple of turtles trying to cross the road!) "Moose" is supposed to be abundant along the north-eastern states & Canada, but you couldn't tell by me! Other than seeing it on every t shirt and souvenir , you wouldn't know they were anywhere near here. I try to look through the trees and scour every meadow for moose, but not a one has been spotted (so far, I'm not giving up!).

When it comes to camping, we've been able to almost always get space at our first choice. Bad for the economy, but good for us. Campgrounds have not been very full - even in this height of summer. Rates have been very reasonable as well. Many of them have added extra entertainment to help keep more campers coming and staying. Everything from live music to games and cookouts. Our average stay is anywhere from 1-3 nights.

The more north we travel, the more attention we get from people seeing our Washington licence plates. We've met some really nice folks that come over to chat. When we share what we are doing, they often ask where we are heading next; they are always very helpful in giving us tips & suggestions of where & what "to be sure and see". Taking their advise has led us to some wonderful places and adventures.

Since it's not always easy for a 35' motorhome + tow to just pull over and stop, we often see "fun"things that I haven't been able to "shoot". There have been great old barns, fences or walls covered in everything from lobster buoys to multi-colored tractor seats. It's as if the people who live along side of these roads decorate for our joy and entertainment! Most are well maintained with beautiful flower beds all around their very mowed lawns (everyone seems to have one of those riding mowers!). Many have added "yard art" as well. It's always fun to see what "other people" do to their homes & yards.

We try and limit the number of driving hours to 4 or less, so that Jack can get a break from driving, and we can still enjoy the rest of the day at the campground before dark. We feel so lucky to be doing what we are doing, and enjoying every minute of it. There is so very much to see in this beautiful country of ours, that we decided awhile back that "one year" just wasn't going to cut it, we will have to add at least one more to our plans! We plan on staying out of that cold, wet stuff called snow, so we will be back on the west coast by the end of this year, and take plenty of time to stay and visit with all of our family & friends. It does get a bit lonely & quiet "out here", which has made us appreciate our family & friends that much more. I am often asked "how it's going with being together 24-7?" ...and I will share that it's a good thing we like each other so much, or it could be a frustrating & aggravating way to spend your life with someone! ;-)

So, you can see why, sometimes I am 2 to 3 stops behind in some of my blogs...I am just spending what would be my "writing time", having fun! Life is good...

...on the road in New England and Canada, Marie