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2019 – Sightseeing Western Indiana – Eastern Illinois


I was really looking forward to visiting with my brother Jim and sis-in-law Phyllis during our stay in western Indiana, but we also got in a couple of fun sightseeing adventures – one in Illinois and the other in Indiana.

We went the Vermilion River Fall Festival in Danville, IL. There were many fall oriented handcrafted items along with a variety of food booths. I think this is the third time this year that we stumbled on to a great car show with many nice older cars and trucks. My favorite was a 1912 Ford car that looks like one in a picture I have of my Dad as a small child in 1914.


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Our most enjoyable sightseeing excursion was a visit to Turkey Run State Park near Marshall, Indiana. We have both enjoyed hiking across the years and decided to visit this popular state park. We took a short hike down steps, across a suspension bridge over Sugar Creek and down to Rocky Hollow to see a small waterfall. The water has carved the rocks and it is fun to walk along the bottom of the gorge by the stream. We took a break there in that pretty spot and had a picnic lunch. From there we turned around and came back, because I couldn’t scramble up the first set of rock “steps” without help; and that was the easy part! We walked back to the suspension bridge and followed a different trail that took us through the woods on what I expected to be an easier trail to a covered bridge built in the early 1900’s and across the creek heading back to the nature center. We encountered many steps and scrambles going up hill and down. Some were man made and had rails but several were natural and more difficult for me. However we made it and I am glad we took day to enjoy the beauty of nature.

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2019 – Sightseeing Along Lake Erie in N.E. Ohio


Our stay in northeastern Ohio was a longer stay for us and that gave us plenty of time to explore the area.

We never get our fill of waterfalls so even though we hiked Watkins Glen and then visited Niagara Falls over the past few weeks, we took a day trip and visited a couple more waterfalls near Cleveland OH. Chagrin Falls, just south of Cleveland is located in the town of Chagrin. There are cute shops and restaurants around it. It is obviously a destination for people wanting to get out of the big city and although not overwhelming the falls are pretty and a nice place to eat lunch or just hang out. From there we drove through the country and arrived at the Brandywine Falls in beautiful Cayahoga Valley National Park. The falls have hiking and biking trails. We walked down a boardwalk for a great view of the falls. It is beautiful and well worth the effort to get down there and back. There is also an overlook for people who cannot or choose to not take the stairs.

On the Saturday before Labor Day We drove to Geneva-On-The-Lake and found it very busy due to a variety of events happening that day. We especially enjoyed a big Volkswagen car show in the city park which was filled with VWs and camper vans from across the years. Afterward, we enjoyed sitting on a bench and listening to the waves of Lake Erie for a while.

We went to Cleveland to visit the Historic William G. Matthew steam ship but found that it was only open on weekends after Labor Day. The ship is adjacent to the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame and since we were already there so we thought we would check it out. Honestly, since we aren’t fans of current popular music our expectations weren’t very high but there was more of interest to us than we expected. We spent most of our time in the sections of the museum that focus on the early days of rock and roll music. We heard lots of music and watched clips of singers from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. We saw photos, costumes and other memorabilia from many singers and groups. It was interesting seeing displays of groups like The Beach Boys, the Beatles, and the Temptations. Other singers included Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Aretha Franklin, Johnny Cash and many more. We were able to walk through the tour bus that was built for Johnny and June Cash and their son. Interesting and sobering to us was the way the music changed to darker, angry, themes as time passed.

There is a historically unique restaurant near our campground: Covered Bridge Pizza in North Kingsville. The dining area is inside a covered bridge. The bridge was originally the Foreman Road Bridge built in 1862. In 1972 the county decided to replace it and the old bridge was sold for five dollars! It was carefully dismantled and placed in storage. In 1975 half of the old bridge was used to open the restaurant we visited and in 1977 a second location was opened using the other half of the bridge. There are a variety of items on the menu but we were there for pizza. The crust is made fresh daily and the spicy sauce along with the meat and cheese made an excellent lunch.

On a clear sunny day we took a picnic and visited a few of the many parks along Lake Erie. It was fun seeing the various parks. One was small with few picnic tables and small playground. Another had a large covered area with tables and a concession with boardwalks down to the beach. Yet another had a covered area with tables and several porch type swings with the beach area adjacent to it. We had a pleasant lunch by carrying our lunch and chairs down close to the water. A nice quiet way to spend a few hours.

When we saw advertising about a balloon glow not far from our campground we decided to go. There were eight of the giant hot air balloons that were beautiful when lit up. There were a lot of people there enjoying the display. The business, Debonné, hosts a full scale hot air balloon festival in the spring, it must be amazing to see.


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2019 – Sightseeing Niagara Falls and vicinity


Niagara Gorge and Falls
We wanted to spend the week of our 50th Anniversary in a beautiful area with lots to see and do. We picked Niagara Falls and vicinity. Some of the attractions added a romantic flavor to the week while others were just interesting and fun.

Early in the week we focused on the Niagara Gorge – a stunning area below the Falls and out to Lake Ontario. The Robert Moses Niagara Power Project Visitors Center is an impressive place with great views of the Gorge and an interesting overview of the area. As we entered we were handed “swipe badges” that allow visitors to play a wide variety of interactive exhibits. Kids enjoy collecting stickers while learning about hydroelectric power and energy efficiency. I enjoyed the movie telling about the plant, how it works and interacts with surrounding power grids. I particularly enjoyed seeing Mr. Tesla come to life in a picture frame to explain AC vs DC electricity. One hall is dedicated to the Native American people of the era and their civilization. The best part of the visit was standing on the observation deck overlooking the Niagara Gorge, watching the water flow and the tour boats speed through the Niagara Gorge.

Nearby is Whirlpool State Park with a stunning view of the whirlpool in the Niagara River. It is mesmerizing to watch the water flow and spin. Up above people were riding the Gondola that takes people high above the giant whirlpool.

We enjoyed stopping off for an ice cream treat in Lewiston at the Silo Caboose. The soft serve chocolate ice cream was amazing! The only problem was it was a hot day and I had to eat it faster than I wanted.

Although we were here 7 years ago Niagara Falls was the highlight of this week and we saved visiting it for our 50th Wedding Anniversary! We drove in found a good parking spot and bought our tickets to visit the Observation Tower and then ride the Maid of the Mist! I enjoyed every minute of the ride with the spectacular falls above and then around us I was reminded what an Amazing God we serve who made things like this for our pleasure.


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Historic Erie Canal locks
We really enjoyed our ride on the Erie Canal. Construction of the canal was started in 1817 and it opened in 1825. It carried commerce from New York Harbor to Lake Erie and transformed the region. Our ride on the Canal took us through Locks 34 and 35, the “Upside Down Bridge” and under a lift bridge used for normal street traffic. We could see traces of the old foot path that was used by the animals towing the barges as well as many historic buildings as we rode along. As we passed through the locks our Captain explained how the locks worked, allowing the water to raise and lower our boat as we moved along the canal. It was a fun ride that let me experience a little of the history I learned so long ago.


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Old Fort Niagara
Just a short drive from us is Old Fort Niagara. This Fort has a history of over 300 years. It has been controlled by the French, English and the finally the Americans. It was critical in the French and Indian War, The American Revolution and the War of 1812. The visitor’s center provides historic information and artifacts including the original American flag of the War of 1812 (the twin of the Star Spangled Banner) which is kept in a climate controlled room. I enjoyed going into the buildings and talking with several re-enactors as well as seeing demonstrations of musket fire and military field demonstrations.


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2019 – Sightseeing Watkins Glen, NY State Park


When we last visited Watkins Glen, NY State Park we were blown away by its beauty. As we planned our trip through this area again a return visit was on our “must-do” list. We had a great day for this visit and it is just as beautiful as I remember. We opted to purchase tickets to take the park shuttle to the top of the trail, making the mile and a half hike through the gorge almost all downhill. We saw many people hiking up and were glad we were taking the route of least resistance! The trail is made up of stairs and winding pathways along the river with many waterfalls along the way. The bridges and safety walls are well kept but the pathway is narrow in some places. There are beautiful stone arch bridges and in a couple of places the trail takes you under waterfalls. We were able to find a wider spot where we could sit on the wall and enjoy a picnic lunch in as beautiful a setting as you’ve ever seen. The high rock walls and overhanging trees add to the beauty of it. We think this NY York State Park is a world class attraction and apparently many agree as we heard a wide variety of languages being spoken by our fellow hikers.

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2019 – Sightseeing the Northern Neck of Virginia


There’s a lot to see and do in and near the Northern Neck of Virginia and we’ve enjoyed visiting and revisiting several spots. I’ve already done sightseeing reviews of the George Washington Birthplace and the Museum of the Bible. I’m doing this post as a sort of wrap-up of the other places we visited. Some of these are big, well known places and others have more local flavor, like the nice beach in the town of Colonial Beach and the local Ice Cream stand.

It is amazing to realize that eight Presidents of the United States were born in Virginia and that of those eight, two: Washington and Monroe were born just a few miles apart near here. We visited both birthplaces. Then, the Confederate General, Robert E. Lee, who was first offered command of the Union Army by Abraham Lincoln was also born nearby.

Stratford Hall

Robert E. Lee’s birthplace is Stratford Hall. This was the home of his ancestors, two of them signers of the Declaration of Independence: Richard Henry Lee and Francis Lightfoot Lee. We enjoyed an audio tour as we walked through the two story mansion. The grounds are extensive with many outbuildings including an outdoor kitchen and smokehouse. We drove out to the Potomac overlook with its cliffs and beach below. The River is an impressive 5 miles wide at that point. We also drove to the grist mill and saw where the wharf for merchant ships that traveled the Potomac brought the wares of the world right to this majestic plantation.

Westmoreland Berry Farm

Another sightseeing trip we took was a short drive to Westmoreland Berry Farm. There were more people there than I expected on a Friday morning. The store has in-season produce. At the time of our June visit they had blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries. There are also a variety of jams and fruit salsas available along with BBQ sauces. We picked a small batch of blueberries to take home. Beside the store is a large lawn with a huge chair for photo ops, corn hole games, a swing set, and a long downhill slide using sacks. I think the main draw is the climbing goats who climb up a ladder, across the walkway over the road, and then pull a rope to get a cup of goat feed. There are also goats that people pet and hand feed. We had a fun time in the place with lots of local flavor.

Fredericksburg Battleground

In December of 1862 the Union Army attacked Fredericksburg, VA and crossed the river to meet Robert E. Lee’s troops who were holding Marie’s Height with its high ground and sunken road with a rock wall in front of it. The Confederate Army used that wall for cover and the hill above it for canon emplacements. The Union Army had to come across a wide open field. Although they had more men and sent seven waves of attackers they could not overcome the Confederacy that day. The Visitors Center has many displays and artifacts from the battle. It gives an idea of the people who lived there and how they felt about the war. It also gave us a glimpse into their lives and how the war impacted them. The National Parks Service Ranger was an excellent guide who gave us an overview of the battle as we walked along that sunken road. One house from that battle is still standing and is undergoing renovation to keep it available. We could see bullet holes in the walls from the battle. The nearby National Cemetery is where many Union soldiers are buried, many of them give up their lives trying to take that very hill in the battle of Frederiksberg. We were humbled to be on, what the Ranger said, was the most fought over ground in the entire country.

Father’s Day Colonial Beach Car Show

We just happened onto a great car show. We went into Colonial Beach for church on Sunday morning and just a few blocks from the church a big car show was going on. We had fun walking around, checking out all the cars that were on display. People come from miles around to see this car show, we just happened to be at the right place at the right time to see it.

As you can see the Northern Neck of Virginia has a lot to offer. We’ve enjoyed our time here.


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2018 – Sightseeing Little Rock, AR and vicinity


Sometimes in our travels we stay at a campground that is, in itself, an “attraction.” We’ll review Maumelle Corps of Engineers campground in a separate post, but it’s one of those campgrounds that’s so pretty with such great campsites that we enjoyed just hanging out at the campground rather than heading out to see the sights.

We did, though, spend the better part of a day at the Arkansas State Fair; our second big fair this year. We entered the fairgrounds through the midway but we quickly made our way back to the exhibit areas. We walked through a building with a wide variety of vendors and items for sale and then visited the cattle barn. My favorite building was arts and crafts. I’m always amazed the beautiful throws, pillows, clothes and quilts people make. In the same building the end wall was full of canned foods but it was the blue ribbon gigantic pumpkins and watermelons that got my attention. Our final stop of the day was at the arena where they were judging cattle and giving the ribbons. This was a new experience for me and very interesting.

Pinnacle Mountain State Park was very near our campground. We visited this park a couple of years ago and remembered that it is a terrific place to visit. As we arrived at the park near the Visitor’s Center we saw some beautiful early fall colors in the trees by the pond. We then climbed the stairs to the observation deck and were rewarded with a great view of the wetlands with the Arkansas River below us. There was no one else there and I enjoyed not only the view but also the quiet away from traffic and crowds. After a pleasant time there we went to the Visitor’s Center. I enjoyed seeing the wildlife dioramas and the live beehive behind glass. For those with with children there are interactive displays, color pages and other activities. This is a great place and surprisingly close to Little Rock.

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2018 – Sightseeing the Smoky Mountains of east Tennessee

We always enjoy returning to the Smoky Mountains. This visit was just for a week, so we had a short but busy stay. A highlight for us was the opportunity to attend the Saturday afternoon sessions of the National Quartet Convention at the LeConte Center in Pigeon Forge. Thanks to some friends who were attending the convention, we got tickets for the Gerald Wolfe Hymn Sing. This was a fun “sing along” event with a full choir and several other southern gospel singers. Then, we attended a concert featuring several male quartets. As you can guess Scott was right in his element and I enjoyed my first NQC.

We spent one day enjoying the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Years ago we spent some time camping at Cades Cove and we haven’t been back there since. It was as pretty as we remembered. We took the scenic loop drive, stopping at three historical spots along the way. Our first stop was at the Primitive Baptist Church. We could see the space where the heating stove sat and the roof vent where the stovepipe vented outside. There is a large cemetery in back and we could see some the names and dates of the people buried there. One thing that stuck me in both cemeteries was the amount of children’s graves; especially those that died on the day of their birth. I was surprised to see several more recent graves there, apparently family plots still being used by families to lay loved ones to rest.

We also stopped at a Methodist Church. The building has an old upright piano. As we arrived a young lady was playing the piano and after she left Scott played his trademark “When the Saints go Marching In.” Several came in as he played and they asked for an encore! Scott said this was his day of fame! It really did sound good in that old church.

We stopped at the visitors’ center to eat our picnic lunch and then walked around the historic farm there. Next month the National Park Service will be using the historic equipment on site to demonstrate how to make sorghum which they have on sale in the store. The house is large with several rooms on the main floor and an upstairs. We also saw an old barn, corn crib, and a working mill where a man was grinding corn into cornmeal. The mill wheel was turned by water from a nearby stream. We loved the drive through the park that follows a beautiful mountain stream that features many impressive rapids. We thoroughly enjoyed our day in the beauty of God’s Creation.

There’s so much to see in this area that it would take months to really do it justice. We enjoyed returning to the Apple Barn for a meal as well as exploring the shops there. We’ll look forward to future visits here.

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2018 – Sightseeing Wytheville, VA and area

Our stay in the Wytheville, VA area was a brief one but we enjoyed looking around the area. We took a short drive to nearby Austinville, VA. This community has a strong Texas connection because it is the birthplace of Stephen F. Austin, the “Father of Texas.” There’s a small park there: the Stephen F. Austin Memorial Park. Austin led the group of families to Texas forming what is known as the “First 300” and he had a major role in Texas becoming a Republic.

Also near Austinville along I77 is Shot Tower Historical State Park. The park itself is small and tours are made by appointment only. According to records it was the first factory to mass produce shot on American soil. The tower is 75 feet tall with a shaft beneath it adding another 75 feet to the structure. Melted lead was pulled to the top of the tower using block and tackle. It was then poured through giant sieves. As it fell it cooled, forming musket “shot.” A tunnel at the bottom of the shaft connected to the nearby river and water from the river cushioned the newly formed lead balls as they fell into a large pot. The musket balls were retrieved by workmen from the bottom, dried and polished either on site or at a nearby town. It operated from 1807-1839.

This area is lush and green from all the rain this summer. We drove one of the many scenic byways, enjoying the forest and winding roads all the way up to the top of Big Walker Mountain, just north of Wytheville. There we looked around a long time tourist attraction, the BW Country Store. It is full of handcrafted items, tourist stuff, and tasty looking food items like jams, salsas, fudge, ice cream and more. On the weekends, the store hosts music performances. There’s a lookout tower but we chose to not go up this one. Really, tower or not, the views were spectacular: we could see for miles down the valleys on either side of the peak of the mountain. It was a great afternoon drive.

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2018 – Sightseeing Wells-Kennebunkport, Maine


Our final week in Maine on this year’s adventure brought us to the Wells-Kennebunkport area. My best memories of this area are enjoying fish and chips at an area restaurant, eating some great ice cream, and taking a very nice (but congested) coastal drive to Kennebunkport. While there we enjoyed a few quiet moments at Saint Anne’s By The Sea which is a historical Episcopal Church with a wonderful view of the ocean. Nearby we also saw the summer home of President G.H.W. Bush (from a distance, of course!). Honestly, although our campground was in town and only a few minutes from the beach the August traffic and parking issues made it a major effort to go anywhere. Even if we did find a parking spot that would accommodate our truck the charge for parking made it prohibitive for us. There’s a local shuttle that can be ridden for a nominal cost of just $1 a ride, but it battles the same traffic. The result for us was that we just hung around the campground a bit more where we could avoid the traffic in this very popular tourist area.

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2018 – Schoodic Woods Campground – Acadia National Park, Maine


As we began thinking about our 2018 Adventure we decided that Maine’s Acadia National Park would be our primary destination. I started researching the area and began seeing rave reviews of the NPS Schoodic Woods Campground, located on the Schoodic Peninsula section of the National Park. This is considered the “quiet side” of the park with Mt Desert Island containing all the famous landmarks and Schoodic being more laid back. The campground receives universally high marks. Ultimately, we decided to spend a week in the middle of the action on Mt Desert and then spend a week enjoying the serenity of the Peninsula. The booking window is 6 months and I got online the earliest day I could book for the dates of our stay. At that time there were only a few remaining available sites.

It was a great choice. We certainly wouldn’t have wanted to miss the famous side of the park, but this campground is just great. It is located just outside the small town of Winter Harbor. The pull-through sites of Loop B are some of the longest we’ve ever seen. Spacing between the sites is also more than generous. We can see our neighbors through the trees but there’s a great feeling of privacy throughout the campground. The sites in this loop all offer 50 amp electric and water. There’s even free campground WiFi. Here’s a tip for WiFi – book sites nearer the restrooms for the strongest WiFi signals. My Verizon worked okay, ranging from 1 to 3 bars of 4G and I had no problem getting satellite TV.

The campground has a “dark skies” policy. That means there are no strings of LED lights, bug zappers, etc. It also means that you can sit out at night and count the shooting stars and watch satellites gliding across the sky with the backdrop of the Milky Way clearly visible.

The roads are paved and the sites are gravel. The restrooms were always clean. You want to know that there are no showers at the campground. A few businesses in town offer showers for a price.

There’s a NPS shuttle bus that serves the Peninsula, including stops in the two nearby small communities where there are restaurants, a small grocery, and a few shops – all can be visited without starting your own vehicle.

If the campsites here were full hookup, or if, at least, showers were offered, I’d give Schoodic Woods a perfect score. As it is, though, it ranks as one of our favorite campgrounds of all time.

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