09-21 to 09-26-2022 1200 Miles of Driving and Visiting Crossing the Midwest

This part of our trip was a fast-moving blur of driving, driving, driving, sleeping a night, and driving some more.  In between all that driving, we have some great memories of wonderful visits with family and friends.  I know there is much to see in this part of the country, but we were pretty much done with seeing and doing and were focused on visiting the people that we rarely get to see in our life out west.

Pennshlvania Interstate

Crossing Pennsylvania was a rainy blur.  The last time we visited Pennsylvania in 2010 we discovered beautiful visitor centers and the fabulous Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania.  It was raining then too, but we took more time to meander and enjoy ourselves.  This time we didn’t meander.  We Drove.  We crossed the entire state of Pennsylvania in one day, landing on the night of the 21st in the Youngstown Air Reserve Family Camp on the eastern border of Ohio.

We landed in the late afternoon, in time to park and go for a walk before I cooked supper.  Homemade burgers and mac salad were perfect after our long driving day.  The family camp was a sweet little surprise.  Small and quiet, with only 15 sites or so, we settled into our site, which had a problem with the water and sewer hookup with a giant construction hole beside our hookup pedestal.  We were fine without either, knowing that the next night we would have access to both on the other side of Ohio. The camp was very clean but we never managed to check out the bathrooms and the laundry.  The $15 charge for the site was perfectly reasonable and Jason the camp host was delightful and very helpful. He took our payment over the phone since we were arriving after the office closed and made sure we knew how to get into the park after hours.

Youngstown AFR Family Camp

Our routine on these travel-focused days is fairly straightforward.  Up at daylight, one walks the dog while the other makes a light breakfast and coffee.  Plan to be on the road by 8 most of the time, working in concert with each other and doing the routine jobs of prepping the MoHo for travel.  I am best in the morning so most of the time I take the first shift driving, usually clocking in 2 or 3 hours before Mo takes over. On a long day, I might take over again after she drives for a few hours, but usually, it is just one driving shift for each of us. 

Ohio Interstate

When we land, Mo does the outside hookup part while I level, put out the slide, and move all our stuff around inside for another night.  I cook a simple dinner of some sort and if we have internet we check mail, messages, and money.  We plan our route for the next day, estimating our remaining fuel and deciding where we need to fill up based on proximity to the route we are traveling and current fuel prices.  One of us takes the dog for a walk and then we settle in to watch another episode or two of Homeland, the old TV show that kept us fully entertained on the entire trip. To bed with some reading and up the next morning to do it all over again.

Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?!!  It was the reality of getting across parts of the country that we decided weren’t on our list of must-do’s for this trip. I think we were somewhere in Ohio when I took this photo of Mo driving and the main thing I noticed at the time was that the “green tunnel” of trees began to have a few openings and views of some open space.

The Green Tunnel opens up in Ohio

The next morning, the 22nd, we did it all over again crossing the entire state of Ohio to Dayton.  Mo has a family of long-time friends that once lived in California but are now residents of this part of Ohio.  Don and Millie Hunsaker knew Mo when she was a young teacher getting her master’s degree in Fresno California.  They have been close friends for all those years and we were saddened when Millie passed away last year.  It was important to see Don.  Two of Don and Millie’s daughters visited us last summer in Oregon, but Don isn’t traveling much now.  Visiting Don was a priority.

Wright Patterson AFB Family Camp

We made reservations at the beautiful Wright-Patterson AFB Family Camp for two nights, in order to have plenty of time for seeing all the family.  Wright-Patterson is on the list of top Military FamCamps we have visited.  The sites are roomy and the grounds are beautiful.  There was a beautiful grassy dog park near our site, a spotless laundry room where I had a chance to catch up on laundry, and long, hot, wonderful showers in roomy clean stalls without slippery floors.  What more could a camper ask for?

Dog park at Wright Patterson AFB Family Camp

Mo and I took turns walking Mattie and simply enjoying the quiet and the lovely space.  We had a sweet guy as a neighbor, who seemed quite lonely who came over to ask us if we would sell our motorhome to him.  He had owned a Dynamax but let it go after his wife died and regretted it.  He was still adjusting to traveling alone in a small camper van. He was soft-spoken and kind and gave us his card to be sure that if we ever sold our rig we would call him first. It is one of the perks of traveling when you cross paths with people you might never talk to any other way.

Morning in Ohio at Wright Patterson AFB Family Camp

On Friday after catching up on laundry, showers, and general relaxation, we went over to Don’s to visit.  The girls and their families came later in the day to cook a big dinner for everyone.  Stephanie plays piano and gave us a demonstration, and I got to play the lovely baby grand as well. 

Mo with the Hunsaker Family

There was lots of laughter and of course, many photos were taken to attempt to get everyone to smile at the camera at the same time.  One of the grandkids held a photo of precious Millie to be sure that she was part of the gathering. It was a sweet visit if a bit poignant. 

Don and Mo

I am not sure we will get to see Don again since the distance between Oregon and Ohio is a long way and some of us are in our 80s.

After our luxurious two-night stay, on Saturday morning we woke early to once again get on the road to reach our next destination before supper.  Mo has a niece living in East Peoria, Illinois.  We get to see Angie, her guy Dave, and the girls, Ashli, Samantha, and Jessi more often than we do the Hunsakers since they often travel to Oregon to visit family.  Still, it was nice to have a chance to visit the family in their home territory.

Millpoint Pod RV Park

Millpoint RV Park was near Angie’s home and she came over for a visit that evening.  She brought pizza for all of us, including her daughter Ashli with her guy Evan who also came for the visit.  As is often the case with teenagers, the other daughters had other commitments so couldn’t come. We celebrated with a campfire and marshmallows and more laughs about family memories and stories. 

Angie attempting to eat a campire sized marshmallow

The first time I ever had one of these giant marshmallows was with Angie’s mom Nancy, and I wanted a photo of her daughter trying to eat one.  The kids were great fun too with lots of jokes and funny comments about life in general for young people living in Illinois. 

Ashli and Evan

Ashli and Evan bought a sweet little house and have a very cute dog and being on social media a lot give us a chance to watch all their fun antics.  Date night and dog photos are especially fun.  Angie is a runner, and social media gives us a chance to see her runs and her obstacle course Spartan races that entail doing stuff that I thought only military recruits had to do in Basic Training. 

Angie and Mo (her Aunt Sharon)

Millpoint RV Park was a sweet little surprise, right along the Illinois River which is called Peoria Lake in that area.  The host was an interesting guy, and the park seemed a bit strange at first, but it was a delightful stop for us and a perfect place for a visit and a campfire.

Mattie loved the space at Millpoint Pond RV Park

The next morning we were up early once again, with our usual routine of being on the road by 8.  Our destination for the night was the Wisconsin State Fair RV Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  We found the park by searching for something as close as possible to Mo’s cousin Leah who lives in Milwaukee.  Mo wasn’t sure of the last time she saw Leah, but they think it was when Leah and her mother (Mo’s Aunt Pearl) visited when Mo lived in Rocky Point, Oregon several years ago.  Aunt Pearl is now gone, but I looked forward to meeting Leah in person since we have been facebook buddies for some time now.

We crossed the state of Illinois and entered Wisconsin, once again missing the state sign as Google Girl said “Welcome to Wisconsin”.  Nice to know she is always on the job.

Crossing Illinois

When we arrived at the State Fairgrounds we were a bit aghast at the park.  Our site was in a gravel parking lot across the street from the main park.  It was not the least bit level, and with our touchy levelers not working properly, we had to use blocks to get us even somewhat level.  Mo discovered the problem with the levelers the previous day when they stopped working as we were setting up at Millpoint.  Somehow the motherboard had come loose under the rig and the wiring was no longer working properly.  That problem remained with us for the rest of the trip.  It is amazing how many RV parks cannot manage to create a level campsite.

Lynette, Mo, and Leah visiting in the MoHo

After we settled in, Leah and her younger sister Lynette arrived for a sweet little visit in the MoHo.  That worked best for them rather than the four of us attempting a visit at Leah’s home or in a restaurant somewhere.  It was great seeing them, and I especially enjoyed meeting Leah in person.  Leah and Mo had many fun stories about family history.  A special story of the birth of Mo’s mother in the homestead country of North Dakota was amazing.  The best part of the story is that Leah retold it exactly the way Mo had been told the story.  Unlike some family stories, this one was right on, word for word.  It had something to do with an epic snowstorm and Mo’s mother Mae being born in the blizzard.  Sheesh!

We had spent so many nights in quiet dark campgrounds that it was a bit disconcerting to have the bright fairground lights all around us.  In addition, the street was right next to us and car lights shined in our front windows all night long.  Add the sounds of sirens to all that and we were glad the MoHo is fairly soundproof and that our shades can keep out most of the light. I cannot believe I never got a photo of our asphalt parking lot.  The utility post was behind us, through a chain link fence with a hole in it. Mo had to walk half-way around the lot to get behind the rig where I fished the water and electric cords to her through the fence.

We had only planned to stay in Milwaukee one night, but after picking up travel brochures at the campground office I realized that we were in a rather amazing city and thought about readjusting our plans so that we could explore it a bit. Part of the reason we needed to rethink our travel plans was that after talking with my daughter Deanna, I realized that my planning hadn’t included the fact that my great-grandkids would be back in school when we arrived in Washington State.  We needed to slow down and figure out where we could spend 4 extra nights to arrive on the right day to see the kids.  It was sometime in the middle of the night when I woke up Mo and said, “Let’s extend our stay on this steep spot of pavement and spend a day exploring Milwaukee”.  She loved the idea, and as soon as the office opened in the morning I added another night to our reservation.  It wasn’t a problem and we didn’t have to move our site, although we might not have minded having a bit more level spot.

This was one of the best decisions of our trip.  That extra day in Milwaukee gave us a chance to visit a truly amazing city with a fascinating history.  I had no idea Milwaukee was so beautiful, with gorgeous neighborhoods lining the shores of gorgeous Lake Michigan.  I somehow thought it was an industrial city without much to see.  I had no clue that there were homes along Lake Michigan that rivaled any we saw in some of the finer neighborhoods on the east coast.

Best breakfast restaurant ever

We started the morning with a “real” breakfast, in a “real” restaurant.  I picked the Mad Rooster from an internet search for breakfast without a clue that we were choosing one of the most well-known, most popular breakfast restaurants in Milwaukee.  The restaurant was fascinating, with amazing murals of farms and chickens, and an extensive menu that made choosing what to have a difficult one. 

I especially wanted the greek yogurt made from organic milk with honey, but I also wanted chicken fried steak and fried red potatoes and onions and so much more, including fresh squeezed orange juice and fancy breakfast cocktails.  Oh my.  I finally decided on a fancy frittata filled with all sorts of goodies and a side of that amazing yogurt and of course fresh orange juice.  Yummy!  Between the two of us, we had leftover breakfasts for two more days with all the good food.

We did learn later in the day from the park camp hosts that the wait at the Mad Rooster was often more than 2 hours, even on a weekday.  I was glad that we decided to go just before their opening time of 7am and were one of the first customers in the restaurant.

Much like we did when planning our day in Portland, Maine, we decided to see the beaches and the lighthouse before exploring the city.  We were in no rush, and had no absolute requirements for the day except seeing something new and something of what the city of Milwaukee was all about.

Lake Michigan from Milwaukee

We were surprised to discover that our campground was only seven short miles via freeway from downtown, and downtown was very close to the beautiful shoreline of Lake Michigan.  With a bit of circling about, we found the road leading to Bradford Beach.  On the way, circling around through various curvy roads, we found a beautiful neighborhood park with an available parking space.

Spillover II at Atwater Park in Milwaukee

Our exploratory walk took us to Atwater Beach, past a beautiful neighborhood sculpture, and along a boulevard line with magnificent homes.  Once again, we wondered who might live in these homes?  Industrial kingpins? Beer magnates?  After all, Milwaukee is famous for being the home of the greatest beer making in the US.  Or maybe investors. 

Typical N Lake Drive Mansion

We saw many houses in the process of renovation, wondering if perhaps they were being bought up by foreign investors and then turned into vacation rentals.  It seems that is happening everywhere.  Why else would so many of these gorgeous mansions be up for sale and being renovated?

North Point Lighthouse

After wandering the streets for a bit, we returned to the car, winding back around narrow little roads that led us in some circles before dumping us out one more time at a perfect parking place.  We were right in front of the pathway leading to the North Point Light Station.

a selfie mirror??

Mo and I got a lot of laughs out of the “selfie” mirror behind the lighthouse.  How do you take a selfie in a mirror anyway??

When we got out of the car, we met a lovely woman who appeared to be a local and asked her about what we might want to see in Milwaukee.  After listening to our plans, she concurred except for one historic neighborhood we had planned to visit. Then ensued an interesting conversation about crime in the city and how sad it is that the gangs had taken over so much of the area in that particular part of town.  I must say, the part of the city we saw was gorgeous, and clean and I saw no evidence of anything that indicated there were anything but happy, friendly, nice people everywhere we went.

Lake Michigan from the viewpoint at North Point Lighthouse

The lighthouse was interesting, with an interesting history.  It seems they added a newer structure to life the existing structure an additional 74 feet to create a 154-foot tall lighthouse with a light visible more than 10 miles distant.  The lighthouse was only open for tours on certain weekends at certain times, so we missed a chance to visit the museum and the interior of the lighthouse.

Bradford Beach on Lake Michigan

We then returned toward the water and found a parking spot along the roadway near Bradford Beach.  Leashes were required, but Mattie still loved running in the sand and did her normal running wildly in circles until she looked at us, panting and worn out.

We gave Mattie a rest while we drove to the old brewery district. Since 1844, Pabst has built iconic brands of beer with deep ties to America’s heritage. We decided that it was worth the time to explore more than 170 years of brewing history right there in Milwaukee  As we drove through the district, jingles from old tv beer commercials kept going through my head. 

entering the brewery district in Milwaukee

Once parked in the district, we marveled at the huge historic buildings, once part of the huge Pabst Brewery complex, now converted to offices and condominiums.  Searching in vain for the Pabst Brewery where we thought to get a tour, we could only find something called “Best Place” offering tours and brewery history.  Once inside the building, we learned that the original brewery no longer existed, but the “best place” was in an original building that housed the offices of Pabst himself in the turret above us.

one of the original Pabst Blue Ribbon buildings
so many fascinating slides on the big tv in the tap room
we enjoyed the PBR and the slide show

We declined the hour-long tour, especially with many steps to climb, and instead settled for sharing a $3.00 PBR which we shared while watching a revolving slide show of some of the history of the brewery and some great old ads. 

an original ad shown in the slide show

The beer was delicious!  From the west coast “craft beer” world, it was fun tasting an old-fashioned beer that tasted just like beer.  I had never thought of Pabst Blue Ribbon, much less PBRs as something to seek out, but now I think differently. I did later learn, however, that PBR is now brewed by Miller/Coors in Milwaukee, and that beer brewing is a very complex maze of overlapping companies. In case you would enjoy going down an internet rabbit hole, here is a link to 11 things to know about Pabst Blue Ribbon.  This will lead you to many more links and a LOT more information about one of the greatest stories of American brewing history in our country.

Highly rated popular brewery in Milwaukee

We ended our day with the highly-rated Lakefront Brewery, where we navigated the trendy crowd and strange ordering system to have a beer, some french fries, and fried cheese curds, definitely a Milwaukee thing. 

who ever heard of fried cheese curds?

The cheese curds were actually delicious.  I have had the squeaky things in the past and have not been a fan, but put a crispy coating on anything and fry it and it is great.  They were even good cold as leftovers! The fancy craft beer, however, couldn’t hold a candle to that $3. PBR we shared earlier in the afternoon.

We returned to our campsite, tired and happy, and ready to continue west.  Our visiting portion of the cross-country trip was over for the next ten days until we once again returned to the Pacific Northwest.

09-20-20022 Massachusetts to New York, Four States in a Day to West Point

Round Pond at West Point Military Family Camp

It only took five hours for us to cross four states today.  Being from the west, where it can take two or more days to cross just one state, this was a new experience.  It flew by in a blur.  We left early because we had wanted to be sure that we arrived at Round Pond, the Military Family Camp at West Point, in time for our 3 PM tour of the historic academy.

258 miles from Massachusetts to West Point, New York

When I first began planning our cross-country trip I had aspirations to actually camp in every single state that we traversed.  Time constraints made this impractical, and I had to back off a bit and decide that if we at least traveled through each state, maybe stopping at a park or buying fuel, it would qualify for a visit with the MoHo.

It was Mo’s turn to drive, and with great cell reception, I entertained us by reading out loud about the states through which we were traveling.  I read a bit about Massachusetts, and as we entered Rhode Island along the northern part of the state, I started hunting around on the internet for interesting facts about the state.  I didn’t even have time to read the entire Wiki article about Rhode Island.  We were in and out of the state in less than 22 minutes.  I didn’t even get to take a photo of the state entrance sign as Google Girl said calmly, “Welcome to Rhode Island”.

Somehow between attempting to read a bit about the state and navigating for Mo I didn’t manage to get a single photo of the state of Rhode Island during our 22-minute journey.

Our only previous experience with our smallest state was on our cruise to New England in 2011. Looking back, our day in Newport RI might have been the best day of the cruise. 

We spent a day in Newport, completely aghast at the huge mansions and gorgeous views along the Cliff Walk. 

Such wealth!! And such history as well.  I found it interesting that while RI is the smallest state in area, it is only the 7th least populated state in the country with more than a million people, most of them surrounding the capital city of Providence.  All I know about Providence is what I remember from a favorite TV show from many years ago called Providence.  The opening credits showed a beautiful city that I thought I might like to visit someday.

I barely had time to read this interesting tidbit before we were greeted by Google Girl once again letting us know that we were leaving Rhode Island.  “Welcome to Connecticut”.  Another sign missed as I finished reading this sentence:  “Rhode Island was unique among the Thirteen British Colonies for being founded by a refugee, Roger Williams, who fled religious persecution from the Massachusetts Bay Colony to establish a haven for religious liberty. He founded Providence in 1636 on land purchased from local tribes, creating the first settlement in North America with an explicitly secular government.”

I found it interesting that the Pilgrims came to North America to escape religious persecution and yet so many colonists had to relocate to other places to escape the religious persecution of the Pilgrims. It was a theme that repeated itself as we traveled and I searched for information about some of the original thirteen colonies we saw.

Our route through Connecticut was sometimes narrow and winding

In Connecticut, I had a bit more time to read in-depth about the state, and both of us were enthralled with the Revolutionary War history of the state as well as the great contributions Connecticut made to the industrial development of our nation.  It is the state with the highest per capita income, although the disparity between income in the northern part of the state is very high compared to the southern coastal portions and the capital city of Hartford. 

We got a kick out of traveling the freeway through Hartford, thanks to the lack of a roundabout interstate. 

On all sides of us were huge buildings with all those names we know so well in the banking and insurance industry.  Aetna, The Hartford, and many other familiar names.  No wonder Connecticut has the highest per capita income of any state.  I am sure there is much to see in the state, but we didn’t have time to dawdle.

When I made a reservation for Round Pond, the West Point Military Family Camp, I learned that the camp isn’t actually on the academy grounds.  Reading the website for information on the camp, I learned about the bus tours available to see the campus.  I was glad I read about these tours in advance because same-day tours aren’t available.  When ordering our tickets we had to upload our passports, driver’s license numbers, and photos in addition to Mo’s retired military ID to be cleared in advance for the tour.  We also were told the tour begins exactly at 3PM, with arrival suggested half an hour early.  Ok then…no dawdling in Rhode Island or Connecticut!

With an easy day of travel on good interstates and no traffic, we pulled into camp at 1:30 in the afternoon. 

Plenty of time to get set up, make an attempt to get at least somewhat level, and hook up the power. 

There was no water available at the campsite.  We took Mattie for a walk to burn off some energy while enjoying the gorgeous weather.

The campground was beautiful, especially this time of year when most of the tourists were gone. 

The lake was open for kayaking but the swimming beach was closed.  We settled in and enjoyed the views.  One thing to mention is that the road from the highway to the camp is VERY steep and VERY curvy.  I am glad we read about this ahead of time and made sure that we unhooked the Tracker from the MoHo before we attempted the climb.  Even with a short rig, it would have been a challenge with the car hooked up. 

We arrived early at the WestPoint Visitor Center for our tour

I thought it would be nice to explore it a bit, but the gift shop was closed and there wasn’t much to see inside.  A guide suggested we take 15 minutes to check out the West Point Museum, pictured above, but that seemed a bit silly.  What could we see in 15 minutes?

Our tour was conducted by “West Point Tours” in a somewhat dated school bus and much of the tour was simply driving through the base after we entered the security gates.  It wasn’t easy getting photos or remembering the details that our guide was explaining.  The one thing I remember is her trying to be “cute” saying, “Please do not approach, touch, or attempt to feed the cadets”.  Mo and I were not impressed with our guide.  She seemed bored by the whole thing and then would say really dumb things trying to be entertaining.  She wasn’t.

We did see a few cadets running along the road.

We did learn that the facility was properly called the United States Military Academy at West Point.  After riding through the winding roads of the academy we finally got off the bus for a short visit to the Cadet Chapel. 

We enjoyed the great view of the main living and dining quarters of the cadets from the porch of the Chapel

Dedicated in 1910 and constructed of native granite, the architecture combines the techniques and shapes of Gothic with the massiveness of medieval fortresses. This architectural theme is seen in other buildings throughout West Point.

The great Sanctuary Window, inscribed with the words of the motto of the Academy, “Duty, Honor, Country,” was beautiful in the afternoon light.  We also enjoyed sitting in the first pew where silver plates engraved with the signatures of previous Academy Superintendents are located, including Generals MacArthur, Taylor, and Westmoreland.

The organ key desk pictured above was impressive

There is a total of 874 speaking stops controlling 23,236 pipes. The impressive four-manual key desk is possibly the world’s largest “horseshoe” console. We didn’t get to hear the organ, but later I did find a video on YouTube to get an idea of what more than 23,000 pipes might sound like.

During our time at the Chapel, our guide talked about some of the details of cadet life at the Academy.  Rather than attempting to repeat all that she said, I will link to this discussion of the “West Point Experience”.  The culture of West Point is complex and interesting, and I have a different concept of what it might be like to attend the Academy after visiting and learning about some of the details of being a student in that elite school.

Leaving the chapel, we continued through the Academy grounds to the second and only other stop on the tour.  Parking near the Battle Monument, we walked to the edge of a cliff overlooking the Hudson River.  There our guide gave us a reasonably thorough rundown of the history of the Academy.  There is much written about this, but what I took away from this discussion was that George Washington was the founder of the Academy, with visions of a Civil Engineering School that he believed was necessary for the United States to thrive.

I took the following paragraph from the West Point website since my ability to write about this complex history is limited without plagiarizing from websites.   

“The United States Military Academy was established in 1802, but West Point had a major role in our nation’s history during the American Revolution. Both the American patriots and the British realized the strategic importance of the prominent plateau on the west bank of the Hudson River. General George Washington considered West Point to be the most important strategic location in America and in 1778 selected Taddeus Kosciuszko, a Polish engineer, to design the fortifications for West Point. Washington later transferred his headquarters near West Point in 1779. American Continental Line soldiers constructed forts, gun batteries, and redoubts and installed a 65-ton iron chain across the Hudson to block British invasions along the river. Fortress West Point was never captured by the British, despite Major General Benedict Arnold’s treasonous attempt to turn over the garrison to the British in 1780. Today, West Point is the oldest continuously occupied regular army post in the United States.” 

This interactive map was helpful for me to get a more clear picture of the grounds and the areas that we visited. 

The Battle Monument was impressive, allegedly the largest granite monolith in the world.

The Parade Grounds were impressive as well, surrounded by statues of famous military figures in US history.

The tour lasted just over an hour, and Mo and I both decided that we were glad we did it, but not sure it was really worth the $19.00 per person fee.  It might have been a bit better with a more skilled tour guide. 

By the time we returned to our campsite we were ready to settle in for the evening with a campfire and a movie.  It had been a long day with lots of driving and we were ready to settle in to prepare for the next day of driving. Our “touring” portion of the trip would now evolve into the “visiting” part of our cross-country trip. The next days of the trip were routed to visit people living in the Midwest that we don’t often see. 

We were treated to a bald eagle flying over Round Pond on our last day in New York


09-18 and 09-19-2022 Cranberry Acres, Plymouth, and Cape Cod MA

For faithful readers who know that we are now back home after our summer, early fall journey, here are a few statistics. We left Sunset House on August 21 and returned on October 11, for a total of 52 days on the road.  We stayed at private campgrounds for 25 nights, at state parks for 9 nights, with friends and  or family for 9 nights, and at Military Family Camps for 4 nights.  We stayed at a city park once and at a state fair park once.  We boondocked/dry camped 3 nights, including a night at a Love’s Truck Stop, our first night beside the road in the Warner Mountains, and in a Casino parking lot in Bonners Ferry Idaho.

We traveled 8,147 miles in the MoHo, and some additional miles in the Tracker for day trips.  Our total fuel cost was $3634.58, considerably less than we budgeted when assuming gasoline was going to cost over $4. per gallon and possibly more than $5. per gallon.  Until we got back to the West Coast, our fuel cost ranged from 3.29 to 3.99 per gallon for regular.  Most of our campground reservations were pre-paid and we spent an additional $321.66 on camping.  I made most of the reservations between six months and a year ago, and we only had to cancel one (with no refund) and juggle a couple of others to fill in the blanks.  We made up the difference between the fuel savings by spending more than usual on some really special dining experiences. I won’t make that number public!

Now for the “we did this, we did that” part.

We left Portland, Maine on a gorgeous, sunny morning knowing that our route to Cranberry Acres Jellystone Park in Carver, Massachusetts was only a short 150 miles or so. For my western US friends who may not have traveled much on the East Coast, this map gives a pretty good idea of what navigating these spaghetti roads feels like.  Especially when everything is in what we now know as the “green tunnel”, it can be hard to keep track of exactly where you might be at any given moment.  I planned to take the long way around Boston but somehow ended up on the “inner” long way around Boston.    We were lucky.  It was early on a Sunday morning and the route was reasonably quiet and traffic-free.  I think we even managed to get through the proper lanes on the one short section of the tollway that we traveled.

I was a bit apprehensive about Cranberry Acres, but when making plans to camp somewhere in Massachusetts that was reasonably close to Cape Cod for a day of exploration, this is the one that was the best location for what we wanted to do.  Jellystone Parks are mainly big summer resorts for kids and families.  The summertime amenities are all about the kids.  I wasn’t sure that was exactly what we wanted, but for two nights we figured we could handle anything.

It was a surprise when we entered the park to see that it was less than one-quarter full.  The young woman at the desk was helpful and gave me numbers, a map, and brochures about the area.  With a caveat, “Oh, by the way, your site is under construction, might be a bit unlevel, and currently has no sewer connection.”  Ummm…remind me why I was paying top-notch prices for this?

We drove up to the site in the car and said, “No Way”.  It was a mess, as were all the other sites nearby where heavy construction was underway and everything seemed to be scattered willy-nilly.  Back to the office I went and said we need another site.  After some negotiation, she said we could camp out in the middle of the park where there was almost completely empty space and several sites available with full hookups.  No extra charge, of course.  We were already paying 72 bucks a night for the luxury of this space and weren’t happy about paying anymore but most certainly wanted to be somewhere that we could actually park the MoHo and have the hookups that we had paid for several months ago.

We settled in, and began planning our next day of exploring when I received an email from Cranberry Acres saying thank you, please re-register your space and that will be an additional $30.  please.  Ummm…nope.  I decided to completely ignore the email and figured I would wait it out.  That was a good decision since no one ever bothered us to pay that extra charge. I think it must have been some kind of automatically generated computer thing when the park host changed our site number.  We never paid any extra fees for a reasonably decent site in this crazy expensive park.

In fairness, the park was actually a good place to be at this time of year.  I wouldn’t have enjoyed it during the summer when it was completely full of large families and a LOT of kids.  There was a small dog park with grass for Mattie, the laundry was reasonable, and the bathrooms were clean with plenty of hot water.  The sewer dump was in a good place and at a perfect angle to facilitate a good dump with only one hose.  Ah, the little things that matter when you have been on the road for a few weeks! 

The next morning we left early to be sure we had enough time to see Cape Cod.  I initially wanted to travel the Cape all the way north to Provincetown, famous for its arts and culture.  Reviewing the maps, we could see that driving all the way to the far end of the cape would entail more than 150 miles roundtrip driving in the Tracker.  We dumped that agenda and worked on other plans.  I knew that I wanted to see the beaches of Cape Cod, and if not the actual National Seashore, I wanted to get as close to it as we could without having to spend the entire day in the car.  I was also attached to having fish and chips, with Cape Cod cod, and previously decided that the best-reviewed cod on the Cape was not very far away in the town of Chatham.

I read a bit more about the city of Plymouth, MA, the storied landing spot of the Pilgrims.  But they didn’t land at Plymouth Rock as the myth alleges.  They first anchored in Provincetown Harbor. They were actually heading for the Colony of Virginia but ran into trouble trying to get around the dangerous shoals around Cape Cod.

Yes, here is the obligatory photo of the fake rock inside that magnificent edifice of columns in the photo below.

The colony at Plymouth, MA was settled in 1620 and the colony at Jamestown, Virginia was settled much earlier in 1607.  As I discovered when reviewing my family tree when we visited Ellis Island, my ancestors were in North America before those Pilgrims came over on the Mayflower. Is there any kind of “Virginia Colony” group that compares to all those folks to are descended from the original 102 settlers aboard the Mayflower? 

With maps and websites and brochures, we picked a route for the day.  Despite the reviews saying that visiting Plymouth was a bore and the rock was fake, we decided that being this close to the famous town required a visit.  I mapped our route to Plymouth, then a short 58-mile meander would take us to the southernmost part of the Cape where we could at least visit a beach. 

This was the first time in our travels that we encountered the “thickly settled” road signs

Plymouth was a delightful surprise.  We parked easily near the giant monument that houses the infamous rock.  So often throughout this trip, I have been grateful for the blue handicapped hang tag that can get us a parking place in very convenient locations.  We parked right at the park where the replica of the Mayflower is located.  I did want to tour the Mayflower, but we both decided to wait until after we had explored the town. (A side note: after we did the town, neither of us felt like going through the replica ship for $24 each)

What a lovely place.  The original houses built in Plymouth Colony were all destroyed, and many of the 300-year-old houses had signs indicating that they stood in the spot of the so-and-so original house belonging to so-and-so. All Mo and I could think about when looking at these very old foundations was all the work that must be involved in trying to maintain a house that is more than 300 years old

Some houses are still standing that were in the original colony, including the Richard Sparrow House (1640), Harlow Old Fort House (1677), Samuel Lucius-Thomas Howland House (1640), and Jabez Howland House (1667)

We especially loved the town commons, where as was the tradition in most New England settlements, there was a church, a meeting house, usually a jail, and a “burying ground” or cemetery.  We walked the steep hill up to the commons and just beyond the church, the dark and moody light of Burial Hill caught my eye.  Despite the steep steps, I knew I wanted to explore this old cemetery established in 1622.

Many of the oldest wooden grave markers are now gone, but the list of stone markers remaining from the mid 1600s is impressive.  The hike up the stairs was worth it, with gorgeous views of Plymouth Harbor stretching beyond the city below us.  Such a moody, beautiful, and historic cemetery!

We descended toward the main street of Plymouth, and found a sweet little coffee place where I had a yummy cappuccino and a lemon bar.  Mo is happy with plain coffee, so she declined the expensive indulgence.

We then meandered back down to Mayflower Park and I rested my weary legs on a bench while Mo took Mattie for a nice walk.  She had been patiently waiting in the car as we explored Plymouth on foot.  It was a good thing that it was a chilly, cloudy day with no reason to worry about letting her wait in the car.

After we visited the town, we took the slower back route toward Chatham.  Once again, the views were completely obstructed by trees.  Close to Plymouth, the homes along our route were palatial.  Huge old mansions with extensive grounds line the winding road.  We wondered who would live in those old houses.  Mayflower descendants?  Internet wunderkinds who work from home? 

This photo of the Sagamore Bridge over the Cape Cod Canal was a copyrighted image taken by Matt H Wade, with use by permission if he was credited. I had a difficult time trying to get photos of much of anything on our route from the moving car. 

Our only view opened up as we crossed the Sagamore Bridge over the Cape Cod Canal.  We had heard that traffic could get severely backed up on this route along Highway 6 and were happy for our quiet, somewhat chilly morning and very little traffic. As often happens when I am navigating and trying to keep track of where we are, I got no photos of that historic bridge crossing the historic canal. 

Once we crossed from the Massachusetts mainland to the Cape, the views were opened up only slightly as we saw many ponds dotting the landscape in between the thick pitch pines that have colonized most of the cape since deforestation in the 1700’s decimated the huge oak forests that once thrived there.

Chatham was a sweet little town, full of weathered shingle “cape cod” style homes.  Many people were walking and shopping the main streets enjoying the charming and probably expensive shops.  It looked typical for a seaside tourist town, reminding me a lot of Cannon Beach in Oregon.  We drove on through.  We had a great destination in mind.  Chatham Fish and Chips were very highly rated on the Cape. 

An unassuming place, with outdoor dining where Mattie could join us, and plenty of parking hid the treasure that awaited.  We had the very best cod fish and chips I have tasted anywhere.  Perfectly cooked, perfectly moist, and tender, with a flavor I will never forget. Chatham Fish and Chips were every bit as good, or even better, than touted in the reviews.

I doubt I will ever again eat cod from Cape Cod, with most of our delicious west coast cod coming from Alaska.  I never thought about why Cape Cod was named after a fish until I ate that cod in that amazing little restaurant.

After our fabulous lunch, we drove to the closest beach we could find, where the Chatham Light shines out over the quiet beach.  Once again, this little beach became a highlight of our entire trip.  Mattie was allowed on the beach any time between September 11 and Memorial Day.  The sand was soft and a bit coarser than we are used to, but Mattie loved it.  Mo walked her on the leash, and when a big black dog approached, also on a leash, we went through the usual firm, hold Mattie tight, introductions.  Even after 7 years, Mattie is still all terrier bark and jumps at new dogs when everyone is leashed.  It is her only flaw. 

This time, however, the owners of the big black dog understood completely and said our dog is fine, we can let them both off-leash if you would like.  Yes, we would like that!  And so did Mattie.  She jumped on the big girl for a minute or so, and soon they were best buds.  The big girl loved to swim, and Mattie as usual didn’t like getting wet.

A few minutes later another couple came by with their sweet dog, one they insisted didn’t like the water and wouldn’t go in it.  They took their boy off leash and suddenly it was a perfect dog park on the beach, with everyone running and playing and chasing balls as the best of friends.  With the big black girl chasing balls in the water, Mattie actually went in deep enough to swim a bit before she realized all she had to do was wait for the big girl to bring the ball back.  Then another guy came along and took his young pup off-leash to join the party.  Suddenly the dog who hated water whose owner said he never went in, was swimming out to chase the ball in the water.  It was so much fun for all of us to watch out “kids” interacting and having fun on the beach. 

Dog parks can be an iffy thing, especially with a little dog like Mattie who has no fear of the big guys ever since her young pup days playing with a friendly young bloodhound.  It was a highlight for us to let her play on the beach, watch her get into the water on her own, and have a great time with doggie friends. 

Somehow, with all the dogs running and playing so quickly, I never got a photo of all of them together.  The young pup was a light-colored doodle of some kind, very sweet and very very fast.

On the way back toward camp, we decided it was time for ice cream.  A perfect little ice cream shop along the highway showed up on a google search and we headed in that direction.  The ice cream was all home-made and a delicious way to end our long day exploring.  Once again we met friendly people who asked us a few questions and proceeded to share a great conversation about visiting the Cape, staying at a family house in Chatham, and having ice cream.  Mo and I were delighted once again to discover how friendly New England people can be at the right moment.

It was a perfect day, although I still would have loved to have had the time to continue to the end of the Cape, see the National Cape Cod Seashore, and explore Provincetown.  However, as has been the case on this trip, we were trying to see as much of New England as we possibly could in the short time we had to travel before returning home.  Winter was coming, with snow in Montana lending a bit of apprehension to our plans to return west.

I was glad we had a day to explore as much as we did.  And no, we did not see any sharks.

09-16 and 09-17-2022 Portland Maine Lighthouses, Beaches, and Lobster

The Portland Head Lighthouse in Maine

Once we decided to skip camping in New Hampshire, we entered a sweet and gentle world meandering through New England on our way to Portland, Maine.  As much as we loved the gorgeous hardwood forests that surrounded us at Jeanne and Alan’s place, we were beginning to notice that traveling through these beautiful forests is like driving through what Jeanne and Alan and their New England friends call the “Green Tunnel”.

Gorgeous morning as we head east into the sun

The trees are beautiful, a brighter shade of green than our somber western conifer forests, and yet there aren’t many places along the highways where you can see much of the landscape, and the expansive views are few and far between.  This morning driving from Vermont through New Hampshire and into Maine was the first time we longed for a bit of open space to actually see some of the worlds around us. 

210 miles of a meandering green tunnel and 3 states.

The morning was gorgeous, the temperature was just right, and the skies opened up as we drove into a beautiful sunny day.  As we approached the eastern edge of Vermont, we reached an iconic location, the Vermont Country Store.  I have received those little newspaper print catalogs for years.  Of course we would stop!  The problem was that when we arrived it was only 9:30 and the store didn’t open until 10.

An empty parking lot at the Vermont Country Store

I wandered the grounds a bit, took some photos through the windows, and went back to Mo saying, “I really need to visit this store, let’s wait”.  With an easy 210-mile day ahead of us, it was a simple decision.

The Depot Bridge was built in 1872 in the village of West Townshend, Vermont

The grounds are beautiful with a historic covered bridge relocated at the property and a working water wheel that once operated a grain mill.

The mill at the Vermont Country Store dates back to 1808

Once the store opened, we wandered the rooms filled with all sorts of goodies that are featured in the catalog.  The fluffy nightgowns, flannel jackets, cute shirts, and dresses were wonderful, and I succumbed to purchasing a cute dress and a gorgeous tee shirt.  Not made in China! 

Inside the Vermont Country Store

We perused the tools, the kitchen section, the entire wall of Vermont maple syrups, and another entire room of Christmas goodies.  It was a great stop and one we hadn’t planned even though it was often mentioned in “things to see” as one travels Vermont.

Blurry window shot of our crossing into New Hampshire.

After this lovely morning stop, we continued on our way east.  We crossed the Connecticut River between Vermont and New Hampshire before I could get a photo of the state sign.  We can now officially add the New Hampshire sticker to our map on the MoHo. Our personal rules don’t require an overnight stay in a state to put it on the map.  This was a good thing since it took us about 20 minutes to cross Rhode Island a few days later and there was no way we would camp there.

A rare opening through the trees on our route through New Hampshire

New Hampshire was a bit of a blur, with curvy, narrow roads for much of the distance to Portsmouth, and then a mix of freeways and tollways that added a bit of confusion to the drive.  Somehow we missed the correct lane and instead of going through the lane that said cash accepted with the green x we went through an EZPass lane.  Oops.  We don’t have an EZPass.  I thought we were in Maine and called the number on the roadside signs, and after a long wait was told they had no record of us passing through a toll booth in Maine and that maybe I should call New Hampshire.  I did register our license plate on the website, and somehow this registration worked for another toll pass much later in the trip and just a couple of days ago we got a charge for $5.50 for a mail-only toll in Illinois.  Not bad!

Crossing the Piscataqua River between New Hampshire and Maine

The Piscataqua River is the boundary between New Hampshire and Maine at Portsmouth, but when we crossed it I had no clue it was a tidal river only 12 miles long. It seemed very big. Our destination was a lovely private campground on the edge of the beautiful Scarborough Marsh, in the town of Scarborough, just 7 miles south of the city of Portland. We learned about Wild Duck Campground thanks to Laurel’s wonderful post about their visit to Portland, Maine.  Laurel and Eric always travel slowly, savoring all that an area has to offer.  I loved reading about all they did, but we had to make an attempt to see the very best of what we could.  We had only two nights and one full day to enjoy Portland.

Site 30 at Wild Duck Adult Campground

We settled in for the evening, with a collection of brochures about what to see and do in Portland.  Our internet worked perfectly for a change, allowing us to do even more research.  How to see everything?  What to do?  After a bit of discussion, we decided that visiting the downtown part of Portland might be more than we could handle because what we really wanted to see was the rocky Maine coast, the lighthouses, and the marsh.

I had an epiphany while reading. We were on the East Coast, with the sun rising over the Atlantic.  I found the sunrise time, checked the maps, and determined that we would need to leave the campground by 5:45AM to be at the lighthouse for sunrise.  For us, living most of our lives in the west and watching Pacific Ocean sunsets, this was a big deal.  It was worth getting up at 5 and donning windbreakers and hats to face the early morning chill.

We arrived at the park in plenty of time, meandering through winding roads and neighborhoods of gorgeous homes and huge trees.  Arriving at Fort Williams State Park on Cape Elizabeth, we discovered a locked park entry gate.  Panic!!  Now what?  There were a few people around at that early time of day, and we continued north along the road to discover the actual entrance to the winding road leading to the Portland Head Light.  Sheesh! 

It was a special moment for both of us, and a highlight of our trip east.  Watching the sun rise and illuminate the historic lighthouse and the rocky coast was such a thrill. 

Next on our list of things not to miss in the area was a visit to the Holy Donut.  Famous for their gourmet potato donuts, we found a storefront near our campground in Scarborough.  They were delicious, although I might not need to return and pay $24 bucks for 6 donuts.  We had to try all the fall offerings, including the cider donuts and the apple cinnamon donuts.  They were big, fluffy, and filling and we could barely eat one! 

Our plan for the day included time at the Marsh, with a visit to the Audubon Center located just across the marsh from our campground.  Sadly, the center was closed for the season, but there were a few bits of information about the largest salt marsh in Maine, and the bike trailhead just a mile east was filled with cars. 

Scarborough Marsh at low tide from the closed Audubon Visitor Center

We loved the view of the marsh from our campsite.

We noticed that Portland seems to be a place where people love to walk, run, and bike.  What a great place to live!  At least in the summer.  I could easily see spending an entire summer and maybe some of fall in Portland, with time to slow down and enjoy all that it has to offer.  Not sure I would want to live there in the winter with snow, blizzards, and occasional hurricanes.

Our campground at the red x was just a short distance from 5 lighthouses and many beaches

After wandering along the roads through the marsh, we started looking for beaches.  Our main destination was Old Orchard Beach, rated best for families and dogs, and on this early fall day, we didn’t expect it to be terribly crowded. We were rewarded with gorgeous sand that made Mattie very happy.

Old Orchard Beach

While traveling the beach route, we discovered the well-reviewed Lobster Shack at Two Lights on the Rocky Shores at Cape Elizabeth.  Not only did it have a fabulous view of the dark blue Atlantic it was also in the vicinity of two of the lighthouses that we planned to visit. 

The line for ordering wasn’t terribly long, and once we ordered, the wait was another half hour or so.  When we first arrived the place was very busy, with full tables, and by the time we finished our lunch around 3 or so, it was nearly empty. 

I had a lobster roll, only the second one I have had in my life, first one was in Bar Harbor Maine a dozen years ago.  This was delicious, and the lobster was sweet and tender done the traditional way with toasted white bread and lots of mayo.  Yummy!!  Mo isn’t a lobster fan and had fish and chips which was just OK.  Nothing like my lobster roll!  We had hoped for a beer to accompany our lunch, but the place sells no alcohol. 

It was windy and a bit chilly, but we lingered to enjoy the view. 

Cape Elizabeth Light at Two Lights State Park

Visiting the lights at Two Lights was an easy drive from the shack, although neither light was open for tours. The Cape Elizabeth Light was visible from the parking lot of the Lobster Shack where Mo and I decided we should return for lunch.  Somehow I didn’t get a good photo of the second light in that location. It was in a residential area and getting photos wasn’t easy to do. 

After lunch, we traveled back toward South Portland to visit two more lighthouses.  Our goal for the day was to see all five lighthouses on the rocky coast near Portland.

Spring Point Ledge Light

Built in 1897, this light warned mariners of a dangerous ledge in Portland Harbor. 

Portland Breakwater Light Station was established in 1855.

The “Bug Light” was the cutest of all of them, located on the southern edge of Portland Bay at a huge grassy park where people relaxed and played fetch with their dogs.  We could see the city from our vantage point and knew that our original plan to continue into downtown Portland after visiting this light might not be the best idea.  Mo and I had both been to the Commercial District in Portland on our New England cruise a few years ago, where there are great restaurants and delightful shops. 

View of Portland from Bug Light Park

Our day had been perfect, and we had no need to eat or shop.  Instead, we meandered through the gorgeous Scarborough neighborhoods toward home. 

It was time for some relaxation and a campfire.  The day was beautiful and despite never getting to downtown Portland, we were happy with our choice to focus on the natural beauty of the Maine Coast during our one precious day in Maine.

09-13-2022 to 09-15-2022 Respite in Rural Vermont

We are in Montana on this early morning, and Mo and I had a magnificent day at Glacier National Park yesterday.  The weather is cooperating, and today we will travel over the Continental Divide toward Idaho.  

Quiet morning view of the lake

It is with a quiet, grateful feeling that I return my mind to Vermont.  On Tuesday morning Jeanne and Alan had to winterize projects to do for the family lake house and the boat and went on their way while Mo and I took our time leaving.  

Mo keeps the MoHo running well

Mo did her regular checking of MoHo fluids, tire pressure, and such while I did a bit of straightening and picture-taking.  The morning was cloudy and it had rained the previous night.  Mo and I kept exclaiming to each other how lucky we had been with the gorgeous sunny weather the previous day for our kayak and lake excursions.

Original Nature Center at Lake St Catherine SP

Their house in Dorset, Vermont, is just a couple of hours south of the lake, but Mo and I had a side trip planned.  Many years ago, when Mo was a new teacher, only 23 years old, she took a summer tennis coaching job at a girls’ camp in Vermont, on the shores of Lake St Catherine.  She has some great memories of that time, including the Greyhound bus ride from California to Vermont, and the New England girls who were her students. 

The nature center in October 2014

At that time the camp was called Camp Kinni-Kinnik, but it is currently Lake Catherine State Park.  I knew a bit about the changes because I drove there during the week I visited Jeanne in 2014.  At that time the colors were at maximum, and what I remember the most about this park is that I got a tick embedded in a very sensitive place after I walked through the tall grass that was there at the time.

Mo recognized these buildings

As Mo and I entered the park, we spoke with the gate attendant, who waived the entrance fee when we told her about Mo’s history and that we simply wanted to look around.  Few buildings remain that Mo remembered, with many of the camp’s amenities like the tennis courts where she taught, the basketball courts, and the softball field long gone.  There was little she recognized until we walked into the area which is now private homes for park workers.  There Mo saw a couple of buildings that she remembered.  The rest had changed so much that it was impossible to remember where the tennis courts had been.

Stormy weather as we walked the park but no actual rain

We encountered some workers who were tickled to talk to Mo about her history there.  We then found out that after the camp was a girl’s camp, it was converted to a boy’s camp, then to a private camp, and finally bought many years later to become a Vermont State Park.  One young woman was intrigued and said she wanted to look up the history of the park and took our email address to send us any information she might find.  On the websites, the only reference to the state park history is that it was once a boy’s camp. Mo remembered that when it was a girl’s camp, the boy’s camp was across the lake and the girls would sneak over at night to hang out with the boys.  It was a fun visit, even if a bit disorienting.  I suppose that often happens when trying to return to someplace remembered from long ago.

Jeanne and Alan had arrived at their home by the time Mo and I got there early in the afternoon, and Jeanne greeted us at the door with a happy welcome.  I was thrilled to see this home because when I visited last it was just a dream beginning for Jeanne and Alan.  The home is built on what was once the location of a historic Revolutionary War-era tavern and inn.  That building was still standing when I first visited.

Jeanne and Alan had their home built with great care, making sure that the materials used in the timber frame house were mostly from Vermont, or at least from New England.  Instead of Douglas-fir from the northwest, they made sure the timbers were Eastern white pine grown locally.  The slate floors are from Vermont as are the gorgeous counters. Walking into the actual house for the first time was a thrill after all the emails and chats back and forth about their building process.  I never actually understood just what a “timber frame” house was until now.  Basically, the construction is with solid timbers, joints, and pegs, with no metal used in the framing. The main difference between a timber frame home and a post and beam home is that post and beam construction uses metal brackets in the structure of the building.

With a timber frame home, sometimes folks will choose to have the pegs pounded flush with the timbers, but Jeanne and Alan chose the method that leaves the pegs exposed.  

It was such a delight seeing their home, incredibly beautiful with their art and sculpture, and Jeanne’s expanding collection of textiles that I remember from her days in Klamath Falls when we lived in the same town. Jeanne has also expanded her skills to include basket-making and weaving.  I loved touching the beautiful soft throw that she made in person, and seeing another basket project up close rather than simply in a photo.  

My favorite room in the house, though, is the entryway, where the large space is completely filled with shelves and cubbyholes for a bazillion kinds of shoes, skis, art, old antiques, coats, and jackets, and benches to sit to change from one to the other.  I will only talk about this space to respect their privacy and let you just imagine how great it is to walk into a house like this one to such a down-to-earth useful space instead of some fancy show-off entry.  I loved it so much.

Some of the interior doors in the house are made from the 200-year-old flooring that was part of the original tavern.  Everything throughout the house is created with purpose and thought.  Such a treat to see it in person.

Our plans for the next two days were simple.  Alan helped us get situated in a lovely site near the old barn with a power hookup and a view.  Jeanne started cooking a fragrant chicken paprika soup for our supper.  We relaxed, walked a bit, and visited until supper time. 

The next day, Mo and I walked the paths that Alan mows through the meadows around the lower pond so that Jeanne has a place to walk in the summer and ski in the winter.  Mattie loved having so much space to run free off-leash.  We managed to get only slightly lost on the trail through the thick hardwood forest, within shouting distance of Alan, who pointed us to the right path through the woods.

The upper pond was quiet on the cool fall day, but it is clean and fresh for summer swims and a place where Jeanne can relax and read. The day was sweet and restful and so very wonderful. 

Mo and I wanted to take Jeanne and Alan to dinner as a way of saying thank you, and they agreed with just a little bit of resistance.  They chose the lovely Dorset Inn for our celebration.  

Alan’s birthday was on the 17th and mine was on the 15th, so the fabulous dinner turned out to be a bit of a birthday celebration for both of us.  We shared some private jokes and had some really great moments of belly laughs at the silliness.  I think they finally asked us to move to another room, and am not sure if that was because we were laughing too much, or they really did need the table as the restaurant got very busy.  It was an evening I will treasure.

Our last georgeous sunny cool day in Vermont was perfect

The next day, Jeanne and Alan had plans to be away for a bit, and Mo and I planned to leave for New Hampshire. In the quiet beauty of the morning, I had an epiphany.  Why drive hard and north for a day at a sketchy New Hampshire mountain RV park when we could skip that night and simply stay right there in our gorgeous spot for an extra day?  I reviewed the maps and saw that with just a bit of adjustment we could relax an extra day and still have a reasonable day of driving to reach Portland, Maine, our destination after the scheduled New Hampshire overnight stay.  Bingo!  No answer at the New Hampshire park when I canceled, knowing full well my money would not be refunded at this late hour.  No matter.  It was worth it to have a birthday completely quiet and beautiful, resting in the Vermont mountains and another night of almost scary darkness and silence.  It was a magnificent birthday!