After our active week at Bar Harbor this has been a wonderfully quiet week. We have been on the “quiet side” of Acadia National Park, on the Schoodic Peninsula of Maine. Our campsite is just a few minutes walk from the visitors station and Island Explorer Bus stop. This bus goes around the Island stopping at several points to allow visitors to get off, stay awhile, and then catch another bus to continue exploring. We enjoyed the scenery, especially at Schoodic Point. The route includes a stop in the small village of Winter Harbor where we looked in the five and dime store and a had a sundae at the local restaurant. The local event of the week was the town’s Lobster Festival which included craft booths, food trucks, a lobster dinner that we enjoyed, and lobster boat races. The lobster boats used in the races are the real deal, although I think the engines are souped up a bit. I loved seeing the waves crash on the rocks at the coast but my best memories will will be the times we sat out at night seeing the shooting stars on the clear nights we had here.
We enjoyed our week near Bar Harbor, Maine where we focused on seeing the Mount Desert Island section of Acadia National Park. The Island Explorer bus stopped at our campground so we had easy access to Bar Harbor and the National Park. There are many shops and eating places of all kinds around Bar Harbor. Mount Desert Island is full of history and the scenery is amazing. Again, our focus was on the national park. Sand Beach is beautiful and I loved seeing and hearing the waves crashing in the rocks. At Jordan Pond restaurant we dined on their famous popovers with butter and jam. After eating we walked down to the pond. The water is very clear and the view of Jordan Lake was great. The Bubble Rocks out across the Lake complete the beautiful scenery. We took one half day to drive up Cadillac Mountain to see the views that include the outer islands off in the distance. We wanted to get there early as this this a major attraction in the park and parking is limited. We arrived about nine am and not many people were there because of the fog and no view whatsoever. We looked around the gift shop and then walked on out to the ledge trail, found a comfortable spot and waited for the fog to lift. As the fog cleared the islands off in the distance and far below us came in to view. During the winter months Cadillac Mountain is the first United States real estate to see the sun rise. Later we drove a scenic route, exploring portions of Mount Desert that are outside of the national park. We found a beautiful spot along Somes Sound where we enjoyed some quiet time, soaking in the beauty. Not too far from our campground we visited a L.L. Bean Store and enjoyed looking around, even though it wasn’t the main store. We enjoyed our experience here and can see why it has been a vacation spot for all ages through the years. I’ll have more to write about Arcadia next week as we are going to spend the week on the Schoodic Peninsula, which some people call the “unvisited” part of Acadia National Park.
We had a wonderful time sightseeing Portland, Maine and south along the coast. We started by visiting Lenny, a life-sized chocolate Moose at Lenny Libby Chocolatier. There was also a bear and two cubs made of chocolate in the diorama. This candy shop has a wide variety of chocolate, salt water taffy, fudge, ice cream and gift items. Of course I bought some chocolate to take with me. From there we went to the Holy Donut shop for a unique experience. We bought a maple bacon and a potato donut with chocolate icing topped with coconut flakes. A tasty treat!
We then caught the city bus and enjoyed seeing the historic homes and buildings we passed on the way to the wharf. There we caught the Casco Bay Ferry Mail boat and rode along on a three hour mail run to several of the islands in Casco Bay. During the summer there are two of these runs a day and many people buy tickets to ride along. We heard a description of the historic lighthouses and other features along the route. It was interesting to see the crew load and unload the cargo and watch the people meet the boat to pick up their items as they were unloaded. Much more than mail was included in the cargo. For instance there were several mattresses and box springs that were loaded into the back of a pickup on delivery as well as a golf cart. A couple of times the sea fog rolled in adding to the adventure.
We also spent a fun afternoon seeing the beautiful coastline and visiting a few lighthouses just south of Portland, Maine. They are all historic but one that stands out is Portland Head Lighthouse. It’s construction was begun in 1787 at the direction of George Washington. We thoroughly enjoyed seeing the parks and beautiful homes in the area.
This is such a beautiful and interesting area with many things to see with the scenic backdrop of the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson River Valley. There are waterfalls, dramatic landscapes, and also many farms and historic homes in the area.
We took a day trip to visit two Historic Homes in the famous Hyde Park area of New York. We started with Springwood, the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt, our 32nd President and the only one elected to office four times. We started our tour at the gardens and saw where he and Eleanor are buried. We went in the front door and into the large entryway. I was impressed by the huge grandfather clock and beautiful wooden furniture. FDR was especially fascinated with birds and sailing ships. The entry way had some of the many birds he collected as well as some of the navel paintings that he acquired across the years. We walked down the hallway to the library-living room on a clear glass floor that allowed us to see the ramp used by FDR with his chair on wheels. The room is filled with books, beautiful carpets, and items collected around the world. There were also board games for family and friends. We were unable to see the 2nd floor because the air conditioning was not working and there is no ventilation. We exited through the kitchen area where we were reminded of how much manual labor was need to serve this household. The servants did everything from grinding the coffee beans to washing up after the meals. The nearby stable has the stalls with names of the horses and a display of the various ribbons won by his prize horses across the years.
We also visited the FDR Presidential Museum. The USA was in the Great Depression when he was first elected President. The museum shows some of his childhood but focuses on his election, his work to bring the US through the depression, efforts to improve the lives of the American people, and leadership through World War 2. As you might guess, considerable attention is given to World War 2. There is also information about Eleanor’s work as a reformer and her appointment to the United Nations after FDR’s death.
A short distance from FDR’s house and museum is the Vanderbilt home which was completed in 1899. It is considered a prime example of the “Gilded Age.” We entered through huge doors and stepped into a grand entry hall filled with marble statues and heavy furnishings. Amazing tapestries adorn the hall walls. On one end of the main level is a huge dining room where the family could entertain a large number of guests. On the opposite end of the main floor is a large library and living room. The master bedrooms are on the second floor. The lady of the house had an impressive, French inspired bedroom with an attached setting room where she met with the housekeeper and took care of her letter writing etc. Guest rooms for married couples and single women were on the opposite end of the house and there was a door leading to a servants’ stairs that allowed them access to the rooms.
We had fun visiting the Rosendale, NY Street Festival. Some of the local shops were open and there were vendors of all kinds: commercial, crafts, face painting and henna art along with booths offering a wide variety of food. Of course I had to have a funnel cake! The main feature of the festival is music and there are multiple stages and wide variety music be heard at all times. According to the advertising there are 100 bands performing during the two day festival – truly something for everyone. We really liked the woodwind and horn orchestra we heard immediately on arriving and the smooth jazz group performing as we were leaving. We enjoyed this local event.
We are spent a week in the Pocono’s of Pennsylvania; an area I’ve heard of all my life. We especially enjoy exploring areas that are new to us and this was new territory for both of us. Near our campground was Bushkill Falls. It’s advertised as the Niagara of Pennsylvania. This is a commercial park with other things to do but we came for the main attraction: the waterfalls. There are four trails and hiking these trails takes from 15 minutes for the easiest one to two and a half hours for the longest. We took the 2nd level trail that focuses on the main falls. Our path was well kept and included several steps and viewing platforms. The falls are quite impressive and well worth the effort and expense to see them. There are many other activities available for families including a Native American exhibit, a wildlife exhibit, gift and snack bar, a fudge kitchen, and ice cream bar. Near the entrance is a pond with paddle boats and fishing gear, a playground with picnic tables, and a mini golf course.
We also enjoyed touring Grey Towers National Historic Site. This palatial summer home was planned and built by James Pinchot who was not only the first Chief of the National Forest Service but also was twice elected governor of Pennsylvania. Grey Towers was also used by his son Gifford and his wife Cornelia and her touch is evident throughout the home and across the property. The home was modeled after the Marquis de LaFayette’s home. The grounds are open and free of charge. We paid to take the guided tour and saw several rooms on the main floor. The rooms are filled with family heirlooms and items brought home from their vast travels. Our guide also talked about the landscaping and the gardens created by Cornelia. There is a long narrow pool built in such a way as to make it seem longer than it really is. The one area I found especially interesting was “The Finger Bowl.” This outdoor dining area is beautifully shaded by a wisteria covered arbor. The “bowl” is a raised pool surrounded by a flat ledge that served as a sort of counter or table top. People were seated around the pool on comfortable chairs and food was served from wooden bowls floating on the water. The diners would “pass” the food by floating it across to one another. The entire property is a beautiful, quiet place with many benches and gazebos where a person can enjoy the landscaping and scenery.
We ate at a couple of good places, but no place with a “finger bowl.” Our favorite was Philly Steaks in Stroudsburg. We split a cheesesteak and fries and were glad we did! The portions were huge.
There’s enjoyed driving around this area, seeing the beautiful Pocono’s and lush forests. It is easy to see why this area has drawn people from the nearby big cities for many decades.
The northwestern part of Pennsylvania is called the “Wilds” and we enjoyed touring a portion of this beautiful, mountainous country. We took a driving tour through Pennsylvania’s Elk Country. Our first stop was the Elk Country Visitor Center. To get there we drove State route 555. Although the highway was steep and twisty it was a pleasant day for a drive and we enjoyed seeing the many farms, houses and cabins along the way. Scott said he didn’t mind the mountain driving as long as he wasn’t towing the 5th wheel! We didn’t see any elk until we turned into the Visitors Center and we saw one in the trees along the road. The center itself has wide sidewalks bordering a viewing area. Inside the building there are interactive games and hands-on items that teach about the area and wildlife. Several dioramas display scenes from the wild. There’s a gift shop with many souvenirs and gift items. Outside we walked down a wide path to an overlook for elk viewing.
Another fun stop was Parker Dam State Park. We enjoyed seeing the swimming beach and the water running over the dam. Civilian Conservation Corps played a large part in building this park. Although the Lew and Helen Adams CCC Museum wasn’t open we enjoyed seeing a road grader and caterpillar that was used by the Corps.
We also visited Bilger’s Rocks. This unique area of huge rocks and trees has trails winding through them. We had a surprise. As we were walking Scott suddenly stepped backwards. I knew immediately there was a snake somewhere. Thankfully the snake just wanted to move on which was just fine with me.
This area has so much to offer. A few years ago we visited the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania. We thoroughly enjoyed the “Wilds” and will look forward to exploring more in the future.
This is our second visit to the Ashtabula, Ohio area and we enjoyed it again this time.
Although the weather was cloudy and threatening rain we decided to check out the Ashtabula Beach Glass Festival. The Festival takes place on Bridge Street with historic buildings, local shops and eating places where the Ashtabula River meets Lake Erie. The Festival features Beach glass which is old glass that has been smoothed by the lake then picked from the beach and made into jewelry, added to paintings, and used to create artistic objects. Several vendors were there and we had fun looking and shopping. I was very impressed with one lady who took the beach glass, various rocks and used them to craft turtles to sell. She said this is their 9th year at the festival. In a store there is a local wood craftsman who is selling tables, lamps and many other objects made from driftwood.
We took a day trip around Ashtabula County visiting parks on Lake Erie. We saw lighthouses from a distance, enjoyed the sound of the water washing in on the beaches as well as the more rugged coastal areas, and a sunny day.
On Sunday we drove to Conneaut Lake Park on Lake Erie for fireworks. We got there in time to watch the sky change as the sun went down and children started waving light sabers, throwing glow balls and enjoying sparklers. We watched several Chinese lanterns float up and out disappearing above the lake. The park was full of families as people filled the beach and the hillside overlooking the beach. Around 10:15 PM the fireworks started and for about 30 minutes we enjoyed them. The show ended with a beautiful grand finale.
At Geneva-on-the-Lake we ate at Eddies Grill, a famous burger place that has been a staple there since 1950. It was fun to see all the people. We especially enjoyed the smooth flavor of the root beer. It was a real treat. From there it just a short walk down to the beach. There are many tourist type shops all around with every type of food place you can think of. It was a fun and relaxing time.
Our campground was on the outskirts of Jefferson. We thought the Jefferson Diner was a great local eatery. Also, the Dairy Delight was just right on a hot July day.
When we visited the area before we checked out several covered bridges, a fun way to spend an afternoon.
Being close to South Bend, Indiana and having heard of Notre Dame University all my life we decided to drive down and tour of the campus. I was impressed with beautiful well kept grounds. The famous Gold Dome and statue Of The Virgin Mary on top is a well known landmark. We toured the bookstore and saw the many items ranging from text books to Fighting Irish themed clothings. We took a walking tour with a friendly young lady who is a sophomore at the University. She said they have about 16 female dorms and 17 male dorms. The Basilica of the Sacred Heart is a beautiful ornate place of worship with the stained glass windows first installed In 1893. Our final stop was The Hesburgh Library featuring Jesus depicted in a famous mural as the “Word of Life” facing Notre Dame Stadium. This giant mural is better known as “Touchdown Jesus”. There is much more to see on campus should you decide to visit.
We also enjoyed our day in St. Joseph, Michigan. This city is at the mouth the St. Joseph River on Lake Michigan. Many people were enjoying the Silver Beach County Park. This park offers wide beaches with playgrounds for kids of all ages. There were several volleyball nets. We saw lots of children playing in the water at the Whirlpool Compass Fountain. They were having a blast being sprayed with with water shooting up from the floor for them to run through and stand under and huge water cannons shooting across the park on timers. There is also a paved trail above the shoreline with benches to sit on and enjoy lake view.
From the river walkway we could see the two lighthouses called Range lights at the mouth of the St.Joseph River. They were built in 1907 when the pier was lengthened.
A major attraction of the Park is the Silver Beach Carousel open year around and along with unique handmade horses. It features a rocking peacock and sea serpent benches that are wheelchair accessible.
This is a great area to visit and I know there is much more to see. In fact, I’ll have another review of the area as we continue our visit in the vicinity at a different campground next week.
We have had a nice stay at Eisenhower State Park, Denison, TX. We came to Denison so I could fill in for a pastor friend while he took Sabbatical leave. The park is located on Lake Texoma and features a large marina and multiple camping areas. However, only the Bois D’Arc Ridge loop has full hookups.
We enjoyed the beautiful wooded campground with its herd of deer and other assorted wildlife. The neighborhood roadrunners are comical birds that are especially fun to watch. The campsites in this area are all pull-throughs, with each site a small loop off the road. That means everyone’s back is to the road, creating a sense of privacy even when the campground is full.
The biggest negative is that many of the sites are rather unlevel both side to side and front to back. Some are so bad that only a small camper has any reasonable hope of getting level. Also, in addition to bringing along plenty of leveling blocks be sure to bring extra sewer hose as the connection is seldom in a spot that will let you get level and be close to the sewer connection at the same time. And, even though the lake is very close by, there are no lake views to speak of. Toward the end of our stay the trees had dropped enough leaves that the lake could be seen through the forest from a few spots but there was nothing like a real lake view from this camping loop.
I really should mention the hedge apples. Some of the sites have trees with this softball sized fruit on them. You certainly don’t want to park your RV under one of those trees in the fall!
I really don’t mean for this to be a negative sounding review. We like this park a lot. The staff is friendly and easy to work with. Unless you arrive on a busy weekend, they will let you drive around and pick a site rather than stay in the one assigned. Also, if they know you are in a bigger rig they will try to assign you one of the longer, somewhat more level spots.
The campground is just a few minutes from Denison with its restaurants, Walmart, and about any other business you might need.
We’ve enjoyed tours of both National Park caves in the Black Hills. We took the Historic Lantern tour of Jewel Cave. The park ranger was in Historic costume with a fitted coat and riding pants. That was the standard uniform of the 1930’s. We met at the log cabin rebuilt to the specifications of the cabin lived in by the first Park Ranger and his wife. Half the people were given kerosene lanterns to carry just like they did in the early days. We were warned that the tour was considered strenuous, we would climb up and down about 600 steep wooden steps (some ladder-like) and be required to bend and stoop in some areas.
Our guide was very knowledgeable about the history of the cave as well as providing plenty of information about the crystals on the walls and the various bats that inhabit the cave. It was interesting to see how the early cave explorers saw the caves and fascinating to think they could see so little of the path ahead as they went through the cave. I was very tired when we finished but glad I took the tour.
Our second cave was Wind Cave and we took the Fairgrounds Cave Tour. We enjoyed this hour and half tour. The cave continually equalizes the atmospheric pressure of the cave and outside air causing it to “breathe” in or out. Our tour was part of the upper and middle levels of the the cave. It is considered the most strenuous walking tour of the park with 450 stair steps along the 2/3 mile hike, but there are rails to hold on to. One flight has 89 steps going up. Our tour guide was a young lady in her first year with the Parks service. She was very knowledgeable about the cave, its history, and the formations. The major attraction of this cave is the Boxwork formations found in the middle level of the cave. We also saw popcorn and frostwork formations. This is an excellent tour and I recommend it for anyone who doesn’t mind a strenuous hike.