Sunday, September 30, 2012

Friendship & Fun, it doesn't get any better than that!

There are some people that stay in your life forever, even if there are are many miles between you...

As we left Pennsylvania, we headed toward Kentucky with great anticipation.  We were going to be able to meet up with an old friend that we hadn't seen in 9 years!  Yea! get to Kentucky from Pennsylvania, we needed to go through West Virginia, and "drag our feet" for a couple of days (so our schedule would meet with Paulette's).  We stayed in a small, basic campground in Milton WV.

After doing our "chores", we looked for something to do, to see, to??  All we could find was a small glass factory called Blenko Of course, they were closed on the day we had planned as our "outing day"!  The gift store was open tho! ;-)   We did get to see some of their stained glass work, and their really cool fence.  Afterward, we accidentally discovered a covered bridge, the Mud River Covered Bridge - that was cool!  So, not a wasted day I'd say!

F i n e l y we made it to Kentucky, parked our baby, set it up and called Paulette "we're here, and the wine is chilled!"  As she drove up, I couldn't help but run out for my long awaited hug, sooo good to see her again!  We chatted into the night (of course) and planned to meet the next morning for the first of our scheduled "tourist visits".

Our first day was spent in the delightful small town of Berea.  It's unique in that the whole town centers around "arts & crafts".  We started off with a great lunch (of course) in the Boone Tavern Hotel, well known for it's great food and beautiful ambiance.  We got to try their "famous" Boone Tavern, I think it's something of an "acquired taste".  I'm the only one who ate more than one bite, but you know me, I'll try anything!

After lunch we were now prepared to shop, shop, shop!  I've seen beautiful crafts all across the US, and each time it seems that "these" were the best, but they were "good", the things that we found in Berea were GREAT!  What imagination, pure creative genius.  One sees handmade pottery everywhere, so it takes someone with more vision, more imagination, and more creativeness (is that a word?) to make pottery different from anything else you have ever seen - that's the kind of surprises we found in this tiny, but mighty town.  It was also fun to talk with and watch the artists at work.  They were all eager to share what they were doing and 'how' it's done.  Made me want to go home and try some of it myself!  (I did take pictures of some of the things I thought we could try).

Another kind of fun thing they do there, is they mark the areas that one could find local handmade items, with 'hands' - that are themselves artful!

We ended the day with big scoops of handmade (of course) ice cream - better than any dinner!

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

...kicking back in Kentucky,  Marie

Friday, September 28, 2012

Have you had a good laugh today?

Going from a full-size house to a motorhome full time, I knew would be an adjustment. No matter the size of the RV, one has to "down-size". We have a beautiful 35' Class A, so it's not "tiny", but it still doesn't hold "everything". When I was making the decisions on what to store away vs what to take in the motorhome, I had to do my best guessing at what I would need, want & use most for the next year or more. Not so easy.

We are now in our 9th month of travel, so I am learning what I brought "to much of" and what I wish I would have packed. Most things are easy to adjust to, then there are the "surprises".

Today was "one of those days". Jack and his cousin were off enjoying a full day of "guy stuff". I had decided this would be a great opportunity for me to make all of us a fun, full meal to end our great visit with John & Linda before we take off on our next trek. As I was planning the meal, I decided that I would make an apple strudel for dessert, to use up some of the plethora of apples I had gotten from a local farm here. So, as I was checking to see what pans I had for the various components of the meal, I realized I hadn't packed a cookie sheet - guess I didn't think I was going to bake any cookies (I haven't, obviously). Well, I would just have to improvise using an oblong baking pan. Not the size that I wanted to do, but "I'll work it out somehow" I thought.

Then, this morning while taking Jack to meet his cousin, we stopped at a local hardware store to pick up a special axe John had told us about. What a great store this was! Doherty Hardware (Somerset PA) is full of all sorts of fun cooking supplies, baskets, home goods and just the kinds of stuff that the old time 'mercantile' stores had. There, I found a cookie sheet! "Yea for me", I thought.

So, once home I created my wonderful apple strudel to the full-size I wanted (I have so many apples!) in this great new cookie sheet, and proceeded to put it in the oven. Here's my laugh for the day folks, it was to long! I had forgotten that I only have a small size oven, and that's why I hadn't packed any of the cookie sheets from the house! Now, what to do? Well, I couldn't take it off of the pan, as it would really fall apart and I wasn't up to that! Sooo, I improvised! I slid the pan in, closed the door as far as it would go, and then covered all the open area with aluminum foil! About half way through, I bravely 'un-foiled' the door and checked on was working! I turned the pan around to stick the other end in and re-wrapped the door.

You can find all kinds of articles on traveling in an RV - places to go, things to add or fix in your coach, even recipes - but one thing everyone needs to bring with them, is a good sense of humor and a bit of old fashioned ingenuity! 'Cause I can tell you that even as a "newbie" to this wonderful world of traveling, those are things you will use, again and again!

...on the road in the east coast, Marie

Monday, September 24, 2012

Family time...

One of the things you learn living on the road as we are, is how much you miss seeing your friends and family on a regular basis. However, that said, our "home on wheels" also affords us the opportunity to see the friends and family that live "clear across the US"! John & Linda are cousins of Jack's that we really enjoy visiting with. Lucky for us, they live in the pathway that we took going to the east coast and then coming back. This gave us the excuse to visit them twice!

Our first trip through PA, John drove us hither & yon so we could see all that Somerset County had to offer. Having done all that in June, we were able to just 'sit back and enjoy' ourselves this time in a wonderful campground he recommended, Pioneer Park. They both had to work (not everyone is retired) during the day, so we enjoyed the 'down time' reading, riding our bikes, cleaning, etc., while we spent many of the nights all together eating and catching up. We did manage to wander into a Flax Scutching Festival, and even learned what that is! (It's the process of turning Flax into linen).

John did suggest that we go see Fort Ligonier while we were here tho, so one sunny day we tootled off to see what it was all about. I wasn't all that excited about seeing 'one more war exhibit', but I went along for the ride. Boy, am I glad I did! What a great place that turned out to be.

A full-scale, on-site reconstruction of the 1758-1766 original fort. Eight acres of the original site of Fort Ligonier have been preserved, with the subsurface features restored and the above-ground elements reconstructed. It has all the buildings (officers’ mess, barracks, quartermaster, hospital, etc) fully equipped and with mannequins dressed in authentic clothing. Even on a week day, they had a docent there to explain and answer any questions. It was quite something to experience. Additionally they have an incredible museum that even has George Washington's original saddle pistols (he served here). Very nice.

Afterward, John had also suggested that we visit the town of Ligonier, and to be sure and stop in at Joe's Bar and take a look at his "upstairs stuffed (taxidermy) animals" Well...we did, and oh my goodness! Joe Snyder was (he recently passed away)a gentleman who loved to hunt, and evidently had the means to do it in style! It appears that he had hunted just about every animal, bird and reptile in existence and had them "stuffed" to share with the world. There was an old newspaper clipping where he was interviewed and shared his feelings about hunting and how it adds to the economy and keeping the animal population down (pointing out that where it's been forbidden to hunt the population has gotten out of hand and actually caused problems). Interesting...

The Somerset area is a pretty one, with many different sites to explore and indulge in (wonderful Mennonite food stores & farm stands). But best of all is the family that lives there. We'll be back...

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

...on the road in the east, Marie

Thursday, September 20, 2012

What's for breakfast?

Sweet potato pancakes topped with a cinnamon sugar drizzle; stuffed French toast made from our freshly baked bread, filled with sweet cream cheese and topped off with fresh raspberries; eggs Benedict with fresh Hollandaise sauce; peach pancakes made with fresh picked peaches, topped with peach slices and dusted with powdered sugar...

No, this wasn't a dream, this was some of the "Specials of the Day" at the most amazing restaurant we had the good fortune to come across. We were staying in the very, very small town of Ransomville NY, and we woke up one morning HUNGRY. Now even though we have our own kitchen with us, we sometimes like to eat out, especially if there is regional food to try. We always ask the folks at the campground for recommendations of where they like to eat, as we did that morning. She gave us the name of two places in town (Two? Wow, the town isn't that big for two!) We checked out the first one, and decided to pass it up and see if the second one looked any better. The name of the place was the first draw - Knead the Dough. Cute, and suggested "homemade breads", yum! As we exited the car, we could already smell the wonderful things awaiting us. The restaurant is made to look like a house, each room a little different, but all of them warm and welcoming - like coming home to Mom's for one of her great meals!

Jessica greeted us in a very perky "good morning, may I get you something to drink?" Deciding what to choose was the most difficult decision we were going to have to make that day. Jack had the wonderful experience of having some of the best eggs Benedict ever, at the Beverly Hills Hotel awhile back and has been reluctant to try anyone else's. He decided to give it a try here. I opted for the fresh peach pancakes. As we waited for the food to arrive we took a look around and "met" Savannah Rose, a life-size pig (hog?) dressed in her summer-finest with flip flops to match! She was propped up on her two hind legs, leaning on the end of the counter. There was also a great framed newspaper article hanging on the wall above our heads. It told of the "history" of the restaurant and it's inspirational owner & chef, Deborah Parker.

Food arrived, looking incredible, and then the first taste..."Oh my god!" we both said with mouth fulls. Could this tiny town have one of the best restaurants we've ever found? Yes.

Then, we did something we have never done before...we came back every morning we were in Ransomville! By the time we left, Jessica was greeting us like all of her "regulars" and grabbing the decaf pot as we seated ourselves. We just wished we would have had more time to spend in that little town, because there were still so many dishes we hadn't tried yet!

Mom never fixed breakfast this good.

...on the road in New England, Marie

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Discoveries beyond the Falls

The "Falls" are the highlight of the north-western corner of New York, but we quickly discovered that there were other fun places to see...

We took a day and drove around
Lake Ontario, and wondered into a small town celebration at Olcott Beach. Families were enjoying the beautiful sunshine, having ice cream and watching the children on the Olcott Beach Carousel, a 1928 Allan Herschell carousel that's been beautifully restored. In addition to the 1940’s Olcott Amusement park, they have a lighthouse! It's a replica (c1873) of the Olcott Lighthouse that was demolished in 1963. Very small & cute. As we ventured on, we found the Thirty Mile Point Lighthouse (c1875) that is currently part of the Golden Hill State Park. It gets its name because it is the point 30 miles east of the Niagara River. Lake Ontario can be seen from the top. It's made of hand-carved stone, which is something new we hadn't seen before. Very pretty.

When I was talking with my son Aaron about the visit, he said "Oh Mom, you are so close to Buffalo NY, you really must go there and have their Hot Wings, that's where they came from!" So, with that thought in mind, off we went to Buffalo for the day. You'd think that we would have learned our lesson, that many towns 'close for Sundays & Holidays' (Labor Day), Buffalo being one of them. So, a lot of what we did was drive around, giving ourselves a tour from some of the brochures I had picked up. We were able to find 'Millionaire's Row' with their beautiful old mansions built in Buffalo's glory days.

During the 1880s and 1890s, Delaware Avenue had achieved its exalted status as one of the eminent addresses in America. Here in a sort of linear paradise of many mansions set amidst tree-shaded lawns and elegant gardens most of the city's sixty millionaires lived in a manner that would have astonished antebellum residents. Additionally they had some of the most ornate churches we've seen.

Jack was thrilled when he put two & two together and realized that the 'church-looking' building I was photographing, was actually the home of folksinger Ani DiFranco's Righteous Babe Records. In 1995, an abandoned 19th century historical landmark, the Asbury Delaware United Methodist Church was scheduled to be demolished and she stepped in and bought it. Restoration efforts began in 2000, and by 2006 it had been converted into an entertainment venue. Pretty cool.

Hunger began to strike, so we started looking for (any) restaurant that was open. We found a generic sandwich shop, but I really had myself set on Buffalo Wings. As we drove around & around, we actually stumbled into THE actual home of the famous Buffalo Wings, The Anchor Bar! It wouldn't open for another 45 minutes, so we grabbed a soda and waited.
It was worth the wait.

Lake Ontario NY
Olcott Beach Carousel
Olcott Lighthouse (c1878) NY
Thirty Mile Point Lighthouse (c1781), Olcott NY
Home on Millionair's Row Buffalo NY

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

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Two kinds of thunder...

We could hear the thunder before we even left the car. Once out, we felt the mist, even blocks away. The air smelled of sunshine and flowers. We knew we were in for an exciting day! This one was going to be special, something both of us had never experienced and were excited to see it together. Niagara Falls NY, just saying the name brought goosebumps.

Seeing pictures, reading about it, hearing about it, builds it huge in your mind creating expectations that few landmarks can really live up to. So, were we in for a disappointment? Full of anticipation and apprehension, we couldn't help but walk fast to the nearest view point. We just stood there in awe, trying to take it all in. Can one, really? It seemed like minutes before either of us could utter a word. It was magnificent, completely staggering in it's power and beauty. All that came out of my mouth was "wow", I was stunned. How could it be even more beautiful, more compelling than everything we had expected?

Slowly we moved from one view point to another, still trying to take it all in. We observed groups of people in yellow ponchos in a Que, close to one area of the falls, and another in blue ponchos boarding a boat. We looked at each other and both of us said "lets do it all!" We knew we wanted to experience this majestic landmark in every way we possible.

First up was the Cave of the Winds. It explores beneath the American Falls via the Hurricane Deck. We both giggled at the expectancy of getting that close and getting soaked while we were at it! Along with the "stylish" yellow ponchos, they also give you equally "stylish" foam-rubber sandals, putting your regular shoes in a plastic (carry with you) bag. As you Que up you can hear all the laughter from the participants before you mingling with the incredible thunder of the falls. Soon, it was our turn, our laughter joined in with the others. It was like walking into a huge, powerful shower, spraying in every direction with a force that was undeniable. Jack, getting into the true spirit of the experience, ventured right up to and into the falls! I just kept sneaking my camera out from under the poncho to take pictures as quickly as I could, without soaking my camera in the process.

Once we had accomplished our goal, we stumbled into the inescapable souvenir store, shedding our ponchos as we walked. Only partially wet, we decided to keep the new "shoes" on for our next quest. On to the blue ponchos! The Maid of the Mist has promised travelers since 1846, that they will take you "right up to the falls". The boat trip encompasses both the Horseshoe Falls and the American Falls. Once again the onslaught of fresh, cold, clean water hits you from every direction. Tucked in beside a couple of larger people, I managed to safely bring my camera out and quickly snap as many pictures as I could, all the while in wonder of this amazing experience. After the boat trip, you are welcome to go up to the Observation Tower for a fantastic view of both falls and the Gorge.

Exhilarated and breathless, it was time to take a rest and have a bite to eat. What better place than at the Top of the Falls Restaurant? Shoes changed, clothes dried out a bit, we proceeded to the restaurant and a great window view of our recent experience. After our short respite we spent most of the rest of our day traversing up & down the Gorge, taking in as much as we could, for tomorrow would be the Canadian side!

No one prepared us for what we saw, minutes after crossing the border. As we traversed the convoluted route toward the falls and parking, we were treated to an onslaught of "entertainment". Garish protruding facades reached out to grab you and bring you into their attractions. Clifton Hill blares out at you from every angle offering everything from growling dinosaurs at the mini-golf adventure to a giant Ferris wheel. Bars, restaurants, shops, all shout out their promises for a "good time".

We soon discovered that parking was at a premium, charging anywhere from $15 to $45. After about our third go-around we were lucky to find a $15 spot not to far from the falls. Arriving, surviving the onslaught on Clifton Hill, we were in for quite a different experience. Crowds of people (not so much on the NY side) pushing strollers, walking hand-in-hand, taking pictures and just sitting and enjoying the view, were everywhere.

It is true that on the Canadian side you can get a full-on view of both falls, but what they don't tell you is that the view is at a further distance. It's beauty still majestic; we walked all along the viewing area. Today was our wedding anniversary and we wanted to view the falls at night when they "turned on the lights". There were several restaurants that offered prime viewing, at prime prices. We decided on the Edgewaters Restaurant, not the most fancy, but the closest to the falls. We were successful in timing it just right. Just as dinner was being served at our great window seat, the lights came on. First, all white for both sets of falls, then slowly changing into rainbows of color. Each change more beautiful than the last. The show would go on for hours.

Satisfied from dinner and the beautiful view, we headed back across the border. Thunder, we decided was the sound of water cascading over the boulders in the US and the noise of the attractions on the Canadian side. One more reason to add to our list of why we love America the best.

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, September 7, 2012

Some of the things I've learned along the way...

As we were driving along one day, I got to reminiscing about some of the places we've seen and things we've learn as we travel. I thought I would share a few with no particular order:

1. How to make a 24' ice cream sundae
2. How a handmade custom guitar is made
3. That there is only one tea plantation in the US and that the bulk of tea is imported here from Argentina
4. How crayons & magic markers are made
5. More information about the Civil War than I ever wanted to know
6. What Flax Scutching is and how to do it
7. How to cook 3 Cajun dishes
8. How Mardi Gras floats are made & that New Orleans actually has several parades all that week
9. How Americans care deeply about their heritage and culture
10. How the textile mills of MA & ME brought in French immigrants and enslaved them to work ungodly hours for very little pay
11. Learned the names of and how to recognize many different birds & wildflowers
12. How to guide a large mortorhome into a back-in space
13. That there is a lot of great "handmade" ice cream throughout the US
14. How Tabasco Sauce is made
15. How incredibly ingenious, creative & talented Americans are
16. How peanuts are grown
17. How, when, where & why the Girl Scouts got started
18. How pewter is made
19. That the economy is hurting everyone in every state, but that Americans are still hanging in there trying to make the best of their situation, and no matter what, are still proud to be one
20. How to wash & dry a huge, rounded window without leaving any streaks
21. What "humidity" is
22. More details about the various disasters Americans have faced than I ever wanted to know, but also how Americans always rallies around them and come out better for it
23. When, how & why the US Highway system was built
24. How to change a "home" into a "vehicle" & back again in less than 30 minutes
25. To always carry my camera with me

...and so much more!

...on the road in this beautiful country, Marie

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Beautiful surprises!

After our goodbye's to our son and grandchildren, it was time to "hit the road" again. The direction was Niagara Falls, but we knew it was further than 1 day's travel, so where we were going to spend the night, we weren't sure. We knew that we wanted to see some of the Finger Lakes, so we routed ourselves up Cayuga Lake and down Seneca Lake, hugging the water line as close as the road would allow. We soon realized that not only did the road wind far from the water's edge most of the time, but even when it didn't, other than a wide & vastly long body of water, there wasn't much to get excited about. Unlike along the oceans, there were very few cute towns to explore or even stop for an ice cream.

We did manage a couple of short stops, one at Seneca Lake where I took a couple of pictures of the lake and of a beautiful mural. Next to the mural, was a small parking lot filled with engraved headstones. As we wandered among them, we discovered some really beautiful artwork being done. While we were there, the artist/owner stopped by and we chatted with him for a bit. We complimented him on his work and shared that we had never seen "colored" art done on headstones before. He said that it's first etched, then he hand paints them in. The problem with them is that they fade pretty fast, especially if they are in the sun much. An expensive stone for a short beauty. Interesting young man and chat. See, you never know what your going to learn about at any given stop! We also made a brief stop to see a nearby waterfall. It was called Taughannock Waterfall, in Ulysses NY. This is also where I got a picture of the trees starting to turn color. I think it's going to be an early fall for the east coast. We may see a lot more "color" as we exit than we thought we would.

It became obvious that this area wasn't going to be the place we would want to camp, so out came my maps and books! Jack drives and I navigate, reading the maps & books we have for places we might want to visit either en route or stay a bit to explore several places in an area. As he drove, I saw that there was a Corning Museum not far off of our path, that I wanted to visit. Researching campgrounds, I found a KOA (our favorite) just outside Watkins Glen, that would work well. Jack remembered that Watkins Glen was famous for their International Nascar racing. We pulled into the Watkins Glen KOA in the early afternoon, in time to set up, pull out our chairs, and relax. This was a "drop-your-jaw" campground! It had everything you could possibly want and more. I immediately thought "what a great place to have a family gathering next year...wonder if I can talk all my kids into coming here and spending a week all together?" hmmmm...

When we registered, they gave us a really nice handout on exploring the area that I quickly perused through. This is where I discovered that there was a place called Watkins Glen Gorge that boasted having 19 waterfalls on a 1.5 mile trail. With the drought that seems to have affected every state, I wondered if, like Taughannock, it would have very little water to fall, but it seemed worth a try.

As we were heading out the next morning, one of our neighbors stopped to say hello and asked if we had seen the gorge yet? We said that was where we were headed, had she? She said she had, and it was beautiful, to absolutely spend time there! So off we went, camera in hand.

Beautiful surprise number 1
. "Wow" doesn't capture it. I had been talking to my Aunt the other night,and she asked "what has been your favorite place, so far?" It was a hard question to answer, because it's like asking a parent to choose which one of his kids he likes the best. Now I'd say it is Watkins Glen Gorge. Every step of the trail showed different views. Tall waterfalls, short ones, ones like a wall of dripping water, ones we could walk behind,and on and on. The walls of the gorge are piles of slate stacked one on top of the other, with ferns and trees and flowers growing in between, on top of and in spite of the terrain. I took well over a hundred pictures and even with that, you just can't capture it's beauty. This is a must stop for anyone living or coming to this area of New York.

Jack and I are not big hikers, and it was an easy hike even for us. We finished in time to find a place for lunch and still have time to get to Corning and see the museum!

Now, I know everything I read referred to it as this great museum, but I confess, I really didn't expect a whole lot. I kept thinking that it would be the CorningWare that I used for so many years, and maybe some of it's history and process. If you've been there, or know of the CMOG, pardon my stupidity. If you haven't, boy, are you in for a big surprise!

Beautiful surprise number 2. Was I way off base with this one...Oh My Goodness! The tour starts at their Welcome Center (that includes a free parking lot, something rare these days) that is a beauty in it's own right. They then shuttle you to the museum itself. You are given a map showing where all the various exhibits are located (you need it with all the floors & areas this place has), where and when the various (educational) talks are, as well as some opportunities to even blow your own glass. We spent several hours here, and could easily have spent even longer. We put ourselves in one of the tours of their galleries and was so glad we did, as not only did we see some incredible pieces, but we really learned a lot too. This museum is about every kind of glass, from beautiful pieces of art, to fiber optics, to functional pieces like stop lights and Fresnel lenses. I had to chuckle at myself, because the only "CorningWare" I saw was in the gift shop! We vowed we would come back again next year and really spend the day here, and maybe even blow some glass ourselves!

This is what we love about our roving life, we just never know what beautiful surprise awaits us at the next stop.

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