Monday, October 29, 2012

New England Trip, Part 2: Acadia

Sunday October 7th:
With renewed effort at reaching our destination before dark, we left Penn Wood at 6:20 am.  Our first stop for gas was in eastern Pennsylvania.  While filling up, an Amish buggy rode past... all of us were watching them and were delighted to see that the gawking was mutual.  (Until they noticed us looking at them and quickly ducked back into the buggy.)

We arrived at our overnight destination in New Hampshire before dark. (Whew!) Reinergirl (owner of a 1963 Overlander in mid-restoration) fed us a hearty homemade dinner and provided evening entertainment by way of puppies and kids home from college.  Her kids are a few years older than ours but seem to share similar interests.  Would you believe that two of our kids even share the same name?

Monday October 8th:
After some homemade scones and hot showers we left New Hampshire vowing to see our new friends again.  Reinergirl assured us we didn't want to miss the to the L.L. Bean flagship store in Freeport, ME on the way to Acadia.  Something happened in Freeport, we got sucked in and stayed longer than we intended.

When we returned to the RV/trailer parking there was a note on our windshield from some Colorado Airstreamers.  They had parked beside our trailer with their Airstream and wished us happy travels. (Too bad we missed them!)

Arrived at Acadia at 8:00pm in the pitch black.  The campground was full but we found our name on the reservation list.  We were assigned A78,  next to another Airstream in A77.

Tuesday October 9th
Hiked Gorham mountain.  There are a few ways to get to the top of Gorham Mountain.  We chose the strenuous Cadillac Cliffs route.

...a kid's dream hike.  They wished their friends could be there, too.

During the busy season there are buses that run all over Acadia.  It would have been nice to catch a ride back to our car. Instead, we scurried back along the ocean path- barely made it in time to the College of the Atlantic for a tide pool ranger talk.

We heard about a shop in Bar Harbor with lobster flavored ice cream.

None of us feel any special need to try it another time.

Wednesday October 10th:
Carriage Road walk with ranger Anne Warner and our Airstream neighbors in A77. 

Anne closed our walk with a hope for our visit-that we all find "Acadia joy" which she described as an unplanned, unexpected experience of happiness.

A drive to the western side of Mount Desert Island landed us in Northwest Harbor for laundry and lunch.  Then, a little farther south, we stopped to explore the Wonder Land trail.

Aptly named.  
A place like no other we have been.  
A beach full of rocks, tide pools, and surrounded by evergreens.  
Could this place be more perfect?
Acadia joy, indeed.

To top off the day, we swapped trailer tours with A77 and also a 1960s Safari camped nearby.

Thursday October 11th:
(Quite possibly the most amazing day ever!)

Visited Wildwood Stables early in the morning to make reservations for a carriage ride later that day. Then, went to Seal Harbor and pretended to be locals.
The nice lady at the post office talked to us about the weather when I bought postcard stamps. We leisurely drank our coffee, munched pastries, and watched (actual) locals come in a coffee shop to get their breakfast.  We peeked in the store windows of Naturalist's Notebook and decided to make time for a return trip to Seal Harbor.

Our carriage ride was splendid (if frigid.)

For lunch we scored a table at the Jordan Pond House.  No one was eating outside on this blustery day. Their hot tea, popovers, and (my very-first-ever!) steamed lobster warmed us nicely.

After lunch, we traipsed back to Naturalist's Notebook. Loved everything!  The kids could hardly be coaxed away.   (They had a bird-identifying scavenger-hunt to finish, after all!)  We finally tore them away in time to hurry to the middle of the park for a beaver talk/watch. 

Dinner in Bar Harbor was some tasty Chinese food with a side of wi-fi.

From Bar Harbor, we drove up Cadillac Mountain to peek at the stars.  The smallest Sanders was already asleep by the time we reached the top. It was cold and oh-so-windy.    How strange to be at the top of a cold mountain in Maine- to look up at the stars and think of Hawaii (star gazing on Mauna Kea.) Amazing view! 

Friday October 12th:
Slept in.
Dressed in (many) layers in preparation for our whale watching tour.
Got to whale watching tour... found out it was cancelled for high winds.
Tried to sail on the Margaret Todd ship instead- but they cancelled for high winds, too.
Returned to "Naturalist's Notebook" in Seal Harbor to finish the bird hunt scavenger hunt.
Back to Bar Harbor for the 2:00 trip on the Margaret Todd.
Trip cancelled again (for winds.)
Walk along the shore in Bar Harbor.

Found rocks and tiny shells.
Had a lovely time walking along the path by the edge of the shore.
Went for a drive on park loop road.
Drove to Cadillac summit  (felt kinda lazy for not taking the hike.  )

 Took pictures.
Met new neighbors in the Acadia campground with a vintage Scotty trailer.

Saturday October 13, 2012
Set an alarm to go to sunrise on Cadillac Mountain.
At 6:00am we noticed it was already getting light as we were leaving.
Decided that the "sunrise" must not be the same as "first light."
Drove to Bubble Mountain for a hike instead.

Tried to get on the Margaret Todd for the 10:00 tour. 
High winds again.  Didn't sail.  The kids chased sea gulls instead.

Hiked the Hadlock pond trail with split log boardwalks.  

Started seeing signs about a marathon on Sunday.  Noticed that most of Park Loop Road was going to be closed for the marathon.  Decided it was time to head south.  Went back to camp, hitched up our trailer. Made a stop at the visitor's center for Jr. Ranger badges.

Left Acadia still looking for moose... finally saw one about 10 miles past the "moose next 17 miles" sign.  It took our breath away!  A truck drove past with four hairy legs sticking straight up out of the back!!!  No one got a picture.  The moment was not unlike the first time we watched "A Christmas Story."  Squeals of laughter and gasps of horror all at the same time!

Monday, October 22, 2012

New England Trip, Part 1: Heading North

Wednesday October 3
We got loaded, hitched, and settled in the car.  Not in a hurry.  We left some time before lunch but I can't remember when exactly.  We talked about our trip- to include time at the coast in Maine.  Six year old Sabrina questioned the wisdom of leaving the swimsuits at home.  I told her that if it was warm enough to go swimming then she could swim in her shorts.  (I did pack one pair of shorts each...for the same ridiculous reason I pack one warm article of clothing for camping trips in Georgia in July.)

About an hour from our destination we stopped to stretch our legs at Target.  Sabrina spied a park with a large playground and suggested: "Mommy, you could park over there and we could play on that nice playground while you take a nap and Daddy works."  (Does this girl know me or what?!)  I didn't need a nap though, 350 miles on the highway is starting to feel like a really doable day.

We pulled into the Stony Fork Campground, Wytheville, VA late in the afternoon.  Before dark.  Before dinnertime.  The leaves are beautiful and I am surprised to start seeing the color already.  (Truthfully, I only thought about seeing color on the trip home!)  Of course the leaves are beautiful on the way up- this is a leaf-peeping trip, after-all!

The air is crisp.  There is a lovely creek that runs through the campground.  Sabrina tries to call my bluff about swimming "in her shorts."  She begs to wade in the creek.  I let her.  After five minutes with her toes in the water she admits "my toes are turning blue" but she and her brother and sister still play for another 30 minutes in the creek. Our stay here is just one night.  We could have easily stayed a week here, or two.

Thursday October 4th:
In the car again, I decided that Georgia has rolling foothills, not mountains.  It is pretty clear why West Virginia is the Mountain State.  Fortunately, West Virginia builds bridges across many of the gorges to make getting across the state possible. One of these bridges is the New River Gorge bridge.  Now the fifth tallest bridge in the world, it held the title of tallest vehicular bridge in the world for almost 30 years, until 2004.

What do I appreciate most about the bridge?  The fact that you can't tell how high you are while traveling across it!  Well, that and the nice little visitor's center where you can get a great view/take a picture of the bridge.

A little down the road, I did stop the trailer for a nap. No playground at that rest stop though, shucks.

Between the nap and the stop at New River Gorge, it was becoming clear we would arrive at Penn Wood Airstream Park (in western Pennsylvania) after dark.  At five, we phoned ahead to say we still planned to arrive that evening.  We arrived at 7:15pm but it was already extremely dark.  (Yikes!  I loathe parking in the dark!)   We pulled in next to the stop sign and read a sign there, "Ring Bell for Parker."  Oh my stars!  Nope.  Don't really want to ring the bell in the dark, either.  We stopped some poor soul milling about and asked where we should park.  He pointed in the direction of the host's trailer.  Brian knocked on the door.  Host in bathrobe.  Oops!  He told us where to park.  More parking misery ensues: we're assigned a space on the corner.  We've never parked in a rally field before.  Which set of trailers do we park parallel with?  We finally got the thing parked and went to bed.

Friday, October 5th:
It was officially time for the Penn Wood Airstream Park fall forum not-a-rally (say that three times fast.)  We sat around in camp chairs in the middle of the rally field all day.  We swapped camp stories, travel stories, and everything in between.  We decided to do a potluck Friday night, too.

I am surprised to find I got sunburned while sitting in the rally field.

Saturday October 6th:


Went to the Clarion, PA Autumn Leaf Festival Parade. The parade was never-ending.  The people watching was superb.

After an hour or so of parade-watching we started walking.  We saw a sign for a model train exhibit. 

Of course we had to check it out. 

The parade was still going after we finished at the train exhibit.

The theme this year had something to do with quilts. There were lots of grandma-types on cars with quilts. Then again, this is our first trip to Pennsylvania.  Maybe all of their parades have quilts and grandmas.

These kids did it right!  Nobody's grandma had to freeze while riding on this float!

From way down the street it looked like an air-boat was in the parade.  When it got closer, we realized it was a gigantic sewing machine with moving parts.

  (Perhaps we've been spending too much time in the swamp.)

When the parade was over the streets cleared and the clean-up started. 

Walking back to our car, with all of Clarion, half of which were in the parade.

Back at Penn Wood, I snapped a few pictures before the Saturday night pot-luck.

We looked in some trailers.  
Some people looked in ours.  
We made new friends.

Requisite Penn Wood-with-kids photo:

Potluck time!
 Sitting around and talking is always a good time. We don't get to hear many (ANY) border crossing stories in Georgia!  Another thing that entertained us immensely:  Both Canadian couples we met had the same reaction when we told them we were going to Acadia National Park next, "It's going to be COLD there!"