Sunday, October 16, 2016

Visiting with the Potts–Heading South-Repairs


Friday (Sep 30) to Thursday (Oct 13):

Friday afternoon we pulled into Belden Hill Campground which is located a few miles from Binghamton NY. We had spent one night in this campground earlier this year and knew it was a good place to spend a few days. We were assigned the same site as our last visit, a pull through site with a few of the mountains in the distance. We got set up for the week-end and then took it easy most of the time we were there. We did go into Binghamton one day over the week-end and it was depressing. Binghamton has been in decline over the last 30 years with over 60% of the jobs leaving town. This is the first time we have been in a city were we did not feel safe parking the Jeep and walking around the downtown area. We did stop and walk in the city park at the confluence of the Susquehanna and Chenango Rivers.


On Monday morning left out and headed to Kinzers PA for the Roamers Retreat Campground to spend a few days with David and Cindy Potts. We arrived at the campground and were assigned to Site C-17 which is located across from the site we were in earlier this year. We got set up and then walked down to the Potts’ rig which is located on the other end of the park. All of us went out to a local Amish restaurant where we shared a large pizza.

The week with the Potts went by quickly. David last day at work was Friday, October 1st. We were with the Potts in June when they sold their house and now in October when David retired. We thoroughly enjoyed the few days we were able to spend with Cindy and David. Cindy is still working from “home” so her days are filled with computer/phone time with her office. We were able to share evening meals several days, spend time around a campfire and talked about our plans for the coming year. I helped David install a replacement televator for the TV in their living room. I also played golf with David and a couple of guys he had worked with at DuPont on Friday. Connie went with Cindy on Saturday to have a pedicure while Cindy had her hair cut.

imagejpeg_0 (2)Mike& Cindy Pots

On Tuesday Connie and I took a trip south to Assateague Island to see the wild mustangs that reside on the island. It was a drive of about 4 hours down and 4 hours back so it was a long day for us. We watch a brief movie at the Visitor’s Center and then drove over the the Island where we walked the trails within the Assateague Island National Park and Seashore. A one point there was development on the island all of the structures were destroyed in a hurricane that hit in the early 1960’s. The government took over the land later in the 1960’s with the state having a small park along side the national park. It was very windy while we were there and we did not see any horses while we were on the trails. We did see a few mustangs as we were leaving the park and stop to take a few pictures. The horses are very tame and we saw them grazing between the park road and the campground. It was not worth the 4 hour drive to see the “wild horses” that look like what we see all the time in Texas.


After leaving the park we drove over to Ocean City, Maryland where we walked along the boardwalk and ate lunch at one of the few restaurants open (most of them have closed for the season). We both had sandwiches and Connie had a locally brewed beer.


On Sunday we said our goodbyes to David and Cindy since we are leaving early on Monday morning. On Monday we headed south to another campground we have stayed out before, Endless Caverns RV Resort in New Market, Virginia. We got to the park and since we are only staying the night did not unhook the Jeep. After a quick night stay we headed to Amelia Family Campground near where we we have work done on the motorhome. We got our site at the campground which was more like a parking lot with utilities. Very narrow site with just enough room to put out our slides. The campground had a small music stage where they put on concerts during the summer.


Wednesday we arrived at Goodman’s Truck and Tractor to have the motorhome’s engine serviced and have the ABS warning light diagnosed. The ABS warning was solved by replacing the sensor on the rear dual wheel on the passenger side of the coach. We also had a seal replaced on the front passenger side wheel along with having them look at some issues we were having with our fuel tank. All of this took the entire day which was mainly spent in their waiting room. Waiting around makes for a “very long day”. At 5:00 PM we paid the bill and headed to Appomattox, Virginia to spend the night in another campground, Parkview RV and Mobile Home Campground, that we have stayed at earlier this year. Again since we were only spending one night we did not unhook the Jeep and had a quiet night in the rig.

Our original plans were to drive along the eastern coastline stopping at Charleston, South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia. However due to the damage that has occurred with Hurricane Matthew we have changed our plans and will go through Tennessee and Alabama before ending up in Milton, Florida to see Jessie and Cindy Mayes at the end of October. We had not made any reservations so we did not have to make calls and cancel.

On Thursday we started out south towards Knoxville, Tennessee without having a place for the night. Connie made several phone before finding a spot at the Dumplin Valley RV Park east of Knoxville where we will be spending the next week.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Green Mountains of Vermont–Visiting with Pam & Carl Manganaro


Monday (Sep 26) to Friday (Sep 30):

Monday morning we left The Bluffs campground and headed to Vermont. We had to go south in New Hampshire to Concord before we could head north into Vermont because there were no roads directly across the mountains that would accommodate our rig. We saw some colors in the leaves as we drove but most of the trees are still green. We pulled into our campground, Lake Dunmore Kampersville located in central Vermont south of the town of Middlebury. There were several sites available, so we unhooked the Jeep and drove around the campground before deciding on Site 154. It was a back-in site that was located under some large trees (no DirecTV this week). We only have 30 amp electrical service but the weather has turned cool so we don’t have to run our A/C very much. This campground is like most of the one’s in New England with a quite a few seasonal campers located in the park. We got the motorhome set up and then headed down the road a couple of miles to meet Pam and Carl Manganaro who are currently serving as park hosts at the Branbury State Park.


We spent the evening getting caught up on our lives since we had seen them at the Escapees Rally in July. Pam had prepared a great chili that we enjoyed on a cool evening and then Carl started a campfire that we sat around until late in the evening. Pam and Carl have been here in Vermont park hosting since the spring and will be here until mid-October. It has been an adjustment for them since there is no cell-phone signal in the park and there is only a slow internet connection at the ranger station (nothing in the park). So they have to go into Middlebury (about 10 miles north) to pick up an AT&T cellular signal. They have used the local library’s wifi to access the internet while they are in town. Since there are no over the air TV stations in the park they have also used the library to check out DVD’s to watch in the evenings inside their rig. We forgot to get any photos of their site in the park but it is a nice location near a stream that flows into Lake Dunmore. Their site is the only one with full hookups in this park (the rest of the sites are dry camping).

Pam & Carl have to work 15 hours each week as park hosts. Most weeks they work for 5 hours on 3 days and then have 4 days off. They have cleaned camping sites, cleaned a “cabin” that is rented at the park, worked in the office and occasionally had to clean bathrooms among other associated duties at the park. We got a tour of their renovated Montana 5th wheel. They have had the flooring replaced, bought all new dining/living room furniture, painted the walls, hung pictures and curtains and even put a new backsplash in their kitchen. The updates made the RV look great and I’m sure it makes it more “livable” than the way it was when they bought it.

Tuesday afternoon Pam & Carl took us on a tour of the Green Mountains. We stopped at several waterfalls, a shop where the owner was blowing glass and then ate dinner in Bristol CT.

Our first stop was at the Texas Falls in Hancock VT. I never did find out why it is called “Texas”. It is a series of three falls that are along the Hancock Brook. There is a walking bridge that overlooks the falls and a hiking trail that goes along the brook.



Our second stop was at the Moss Glen Falls in Granville VT. This is a single waterfall where the water drops more than 30 feet into a pool. There is a short walking path along with a view platform at the bottom of the falls. We met two couples from Ohio who asked us about the “full time RV lifestyle” while we were on the platform.


Our last stop was at the Warren Falls in Warren VT. This is a series of small falls with deep pools at the bottom of the falls. There are boulders located along the water that people in the summer jump from into the deeper pools. Carl and I worked our way across the rocks to one of the boulders used for jumping.

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The water at all of the falls was crystal clear. Even at the deeper pools (10-12 feet) you can see all the way to the bottom. There are no fish in any of the waters due to a hurricane that pass through this part of New England in 2011. The hurricane washed all of the fish out the rivers and the state is now in the process of trying to re-introduce them to creeks, brooks and rivers in the Green Mountains.

We stopped at the Blue Moose Bend Glassblowing in Waterbury Center VT. The owner was blowing glass which we watched for a couple of minutes. Pam bought a couple of wine glasses that she had seen at an earlier visit. A lot of beautiful glass in the shop but not something Connie & I would ever RV with.


By this time we were all getting hungry so we stopped at The Bobcat Cafe in Bristol VT. The owner of the glass shop recommended it and it had a high rating on Trip Advisor. They had a “stuffed” bobcat in the back of the restaurant by the restrooms.


As it was getting dark, we returned to our campgrounds and called it a night.

Wednesday Connie fixed dinner for Carl & Pam at our campsite. Carl brought over firewood and we had a campfire (he gets free firewood at the park). It took a while to get the fire started but once it caught we enjoyed the warmth of the flames.

Thursday afternoon all of us went into Middlebury. We started out by visiting the Woodchuck Hard Cider brewery. They have a self-guided tour of the process that we took and then between the four of us sampled 8 of the products. It was better than Connie and I expected and we ended up buying a six-pack of their Private Reserve that is aged 6 months in bourbon barrels.

Hard Cider is an old product that was brought the USA by the Europeans. It was made in various locations from colonial days until Prohibition started in 1919 and ended legal alcohol production. The process died out until in was revived in the 1980’s and has continued to expand over the years since then.


From there we stopped at the Otter Creek Brewery. They also had samples from the Shed Brewing Company and Carl, Connie and I shared two samplers from each of the breweries. Pam doesn’t like the taste of beer so she skipped the samplers.  After finishing up at the brewery, we placed our orders at a local Italian market/restaurant that Pam & Carl had eaten at before and then walked around Middlebury for a while before returning to the market to pick up our order. We sat at a picnic table looking at the river and downtown Middlebury while eating our dinner with some wines that each of us had brought.


We said our good-byes that evening since we will be headed to New York and then Pennsylvania over the next few days. We appreciate the fact that Carl and Pam were gracious hosts for our time in the area and took the time to show us some of the sights in this part of the Green Mountains. It is a beautiful part of our country and we are glad we were able to spend a few days here with them. We talked with Pam and Carl about everyone’s plans for next year and how we  both may be headed out west in 2017.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

White Mountains NH–Visiting with Fran & Mal Vaughan


Thursday (9/16) to Monday (9/26):

After getting set up at The Bluffs Campground on Thursday evening we walked around the campground for a few minutes before calling it a night.

Th Bluffs Campground

Friday we got our bikes out and rode around both The Bluffs Campground, the 55+ area, and Danforth Bay Campground which is the family area. The majority of the sites in The Bluffs are occupied by seasonal campers that stay in the campground from mid-April to mid-October. There are also a large number of seasonal campers in the Danforth Bay Campground along with some cabins for rent. The campground sits on a hillside so riding around on our bikes was either going up or down. Friday afternoon we met our friends, Fran & Mal Vaughan from San Antonio, who had flown into Boston on Thursday and driven up to North Conway NH on Friday. We visited with them for awhile before going to dinner at the Flatbread Pizza Restaurant which is located in the Eastern Mountain Inn. We both got large pizzas which were cooked in a authentic pizza oven located inside the restaurant. We went back to the place they are staying called the Forest Glen Inn while we continued catching up on our lives since we last saw them in Texas.

Saturday we decided to visit Mount Washington while is located a few miles north of North Conway. As we were driving along the highway to Mount Washington we stopped at the Glen Ellis Falls parking area and hiked down to the falls. At first we saw only small cascades in the flow of the river, but as we got to the bottom there was a fall with a 64 foot drop in the water.


After returning to the parking area we continued on to Mount Washington. We are taking the Mount Washington Auto Road which is a privately run toll road of 8 miles that takes you to the top of the mountain. There are two other ways to get to the top: by the Mount Washington Cog Railroad or by hiking. The toll for the Auto Road is $29 for the driver & vehicle and then $9 for each passenger. The fare for the cog railroad is $69 per person while hiking is $5 (or free if you have a New Hampshire park pass). The drive to the top is a tight winding road that is paved for 7 of the 8 miles. Traffic coming up the mountain has the right of way and several of the turns are best made with single lane of traffic. The day was clear with a visibility at the top of 50-70 miles. We learned that on about 60% of the days the top of Mount Washington is either foggy and covered with clouds. Once we got to the top we parked the car and spent about 2 hours visiting the buildings on the site, eating lunch at the café and seeing the 360 degree views. There were a lot of people on the summit with it being a week-end and a beautiful day. There were a lot of hikers that were reaching the top (it is a 3-5 hour hike) and eating their lunches before starting the return trip down the mountain. It was chilly and windy on top of Mount Washington and we were glad to have taken our coats. There is about a 20-25 degree difference in temperature from the base to the summit depending on the day. Mount Washington is the highest point in New England at 6,288 feet above sea level. In the 1930’s the highest recorded wind speed at 321 mph was measured during a storm on top of the mountain.


We returned down the mountain and had to stop at every pull-out along the way down to cool off the brakes in the Vaughan’s rent car. It was a Nissan Altima with a variable speed transmission so we were not able to use the gears in the car to slow it down, only the brakes. Since we had to let the brakes cool at each stop it took us a while to get to the bottom. We came back into town and ate dinner at the Muddy Moose Restaurant. Food was eatable but not a place we would want to visit again.

Sunday afternoon we drove into North Conway and visited the stores in the town. There is a large outlet mall in North Conway along with a number of sporting goods stores. We spent the time wandering through the shops as the weather was overcast with periods of light rain. We ended the day by spending some time in the hot tub at the Forest Glen Inn where Fran & Mal are staying.

Monday we visited several of the covered bridges in the area. The first one we visited was still in use as a crossing over the river that runs through town. It is a one lane covered bridge so you have to wait until it is clear before crossing. There are covered bridges located all over New England most of which are no longer in use.



We stopped at two more covered bridges, the Swift River Bridge and the Albany Covered Bridge before calling it a day and eating “linner” at the Sweet Maple Café.


Some of the trees are turning red, oranges and yellows but most of the leaves are still green. The locals are saying it may not be a great year for the leaves turning colorful due to the drought they have had this summer and the lack of snowfall last winter.


Tuesday we decided to drive the Weeks Act Trail which is a 100 mile loop through the White Mountain National Forest. The Weeks Act is the government law that created the national forest and protected/limited the private development in the White Mountains. From North Conway we headed north on Hwy 16 before turning west/northwest on Hwy 302 to Twin Mountain NH. From there we picked up Hwy 3 south to Lincoln NH before heading east on Hwy 112. Highway 112 is also called the Kancamagus Highway or “The Kanc” as it is called by the locals. We had a great day with bright sunshine and warm temperatures.

Our first stop was at the Willet House State Park. The Willet family built a house along the creek that runs through the pass in the mountains. They also created a shelter in a cave above their house to flee when the creek flooded. In 1838 during a heavy rainstorm the family headed towards the cave. All of the them were swept away in a landslide only with two men employed by them as farm hands. The bodies of the children were never found. Ironically their house did not flood or get carried away in the landslide.


Second stop was at the Mount Washington Inn and Resort. This is a large resort with an 18 hole golf course, riding stables and a spa. In 1944 the resort hosted representatives of a number of countries around the world to deal with money and currency issues in the post WWII era. It become known as the Bretton Woods Accords after the small town that the resort is located in.



Our next stop was called “The Basin”. This is a pool of water in the Pemigewasset River that forms a bowl like pool of crystal clear water. According to the information plaque, this is one of the areas visited by Henry Thoreau during his travels in New England. The trail leads you along the river with several cascades and small falls before reaching The Basin. With water flowing over the rocks and boulders it is very peaceful and serene.




Next up was the Flume Gorge at the Franconia Notch State Park. The Flume is a natural gorge extending 800 feet at the base of Mt. Liberty. The walls of Conway granite rise to a height of 70-90 feet and vary in width from 12-20 feet along the gorge. There is a boardwalk that runs through the gorge and allows visitors to see it up close. The Flume was discovered in 1808 by 93-year od “Aunt” Jess Guernsey when she accidently came upon it while fishing. She had trouble convincing her family of the discovery, but eventually persuaded others to come and see for themselves. A large egg-shaped boulder hung suspended between walls at that time. In June 1883 a heavy rainstorm started a landslide that swept the boulder away and it has never been found.  Along the gorge there are: Avalanche Falls-a 45 foot waterfall as the Flume Brook enters the gorge, Sentinel Pine Bridge and Pool-a deep basin in the Pemigewasset River about 40 feet deep with surrounding cliffs 130 feet height (there was a 175 foot high pine tree that stood on the cliff until is was uprooted in a September 1938 hurricane), Bear Cave located near the top of the gorge, Wolf Den located near the bottom of the gorge and a number of large glacier boulders deposited during the Ice Age. Some of the boulders had trees growing on top of them with the roots reaching around the rock into the ground-very surreal looking. The trail through the park & gorge is about 2 miles in length with a number of steps in the boardwalk as you walk through the gorge.


We stopped in Lincoln and had lunch at the Black Mountain Burger before heading back to North Conway over “The Kanc” pass.

On Wednesday, Fran & Mal came out to our campground for a visit. We drove them around both The Bluffs and Danforth Bay campgrounds. After finishing with our drive we all got in kayaks and spent about an hour on one of the small lakes located in our campground. Later we ate great dinner prepared by Connie before having ice cream covered with the Dutch Apple Wine we had purchased in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Later we sat around the campfire and visited for a couple of hours before Fran & Mal left to return to North Conway.


Thursday was spent visiting the shops and stores in downtown North Conway. After finishing our walk all of us went to the Sea Dog Brewery while we tasted a number of their beers as we ate dinner.

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Friday we met Fran & Mal at the Blueberry Muffin Café for breakfast before they head off to Maine for the week-end. They are going to visit Portland before spending Sat/Sun at a resort north of there. They will be returning to Boston to fly back to San Antonio after their week-end in Maine. We did some grocery shopping before returning back to the campground.

Saturday Connie and I hiked to the top of Mary’s Mountain (I never found out why its called Mary’s). Actually we hiked up two mountains because we missed the turn on the trail to Mary’s. We ended up hiking about 3 hours and finally made it to the overlook at the summit. It looks over the campground and the lakes & other mountains in the area. It was steep near the top with part of the trail going over some granite outcroppings. Connie ended up sliding on her rear end part of the way down due to the granite being slippery.


Saturday evening we attended an Elvis/Rod Stewart impersonation/tribute act at the clubhouse in The Bluffs. Both acts, Rod Stewart and Elvis, performed for a little over an hour each. Each was very good, but we both thought the Elvis impersonator was better (he had a great voice). Elvis was dressed as the late 1960’s Las Vegas Elvis although he sang songs Elvis performed throughout his career.


Sunday was a day to pack up The Duchess and get her ready to head south. The forecast was for cold weather on Monday morning (low in the 30’s), so we put everything inside, dumped the black & grey tanks and put away all of our water hoses. Tomorrow we will head to Vermont to see Carl and Pam Manganaro who have been park hosts at the Branbury State Park south of Middlebury VT for the entire summer.

It was a great few days in New Hampshire and spending time with our good friends Fran and Mal made the visit even more special.