Tight Squeeze!

CAMPGROUND: A Harvest Host site – Christian Kaye Winery

LOCATION: Chalk Hill, Pennsylvania in SW part of state

WEATHER: Very autumn-like. Sunny. High 65

We started to pull out of our campsite, but realized that it would be extremely tight. There were two big trees on either side of the road in front of our site where we had to turn. George is an excellent driver. Several other campers helped us spot on all sides. He got through one tight area and everyone applauded, only to encounter another set of trees, equally difficult to get through. There was probably less than an inch on either side. The Airstream got scratched, but not seriously. Finally, we did it. Everyone waved goodbye to us. Whew!

I drove about 6 hours from NE Pennsylvania to SW Pennsylvania, mostly on busy interstates and over lots of hills. There weren’t any rest stops, so we missed lunch.

We are in the far south of Pennsylvania and actually drove through the northern edge of Maryland. We are also next to West Virginia.

We arrived at our Harvest Host site about 3:00. We really enjoy Harvest Host “camping”. It is an association of wineries, breweries, organic farms, etc that allow RVers to park free on their land at no charge, for one night, without any services. If you join, give them our name, and we get a month free! Www.harvesthosts.com

After parking (we did not unhook), we tasted some of their wine and talked with the owner. They have a nice patio where we enjoyed the beautiful fall day. A group came in to go on a hayride and a tour of the vineyard.

This is a very historical area. This farm was once deeded to George Washington. There is a big national park nearby where George Washington won his first battle.

The winery owners also run a distillery next door, so we checked it out, too.

DINNER: Fried rice with leftover pork chops, onions, garlic, red peppers, and garlic.

We listened to West Virginia Public Radio (surprisingly good).

Out of Propane!

LOCATION: Outside of Benton, Pennsylvania

CAMPGROUND: Ricketts Glen State Park. See previous description

WEATHER: Rain, then sun. High 70

As I mentioned yesterday, the propane ran out while I was cooking dinner last night. Normally that would not be a big deal….I could use electric appliances and switch the refrigerator to electricity mode. However, we are at a remote campground without electricity. So, we ate a semi-cold dinner last night, and just hoped that the food in the refrigerator would stay cold enough overnight.

It absolutely poured all night long. Puddles everywhere when we got up this morning. The first thing we did was to ask the park ranger for the nearest propane filling station, and went there to pick up the tanks. Since George can’t lift anything, I had to cart the unwieldy, heavy tank around. But happily we got it hooked up again and we are now “cooking with gas”, as they say.

We found another little town to explore. This one has a library, and the kind ladies at their front desk helped us log on to their internet. After catching up with internet stuff, we had lunch in the local diner. Again, super cute and cheap. We shared a bowl of soup and a corned beef sandwich.

Back at the campground, we tried to take another hike, but the trails were flooded from last night’s rain…

So, we hiked around the campsites, watching the campground fill up on a Friday evening. I built yet another great fire, and we enjoyed the beautiful evening. Our site is right on the lake. This is the view from the trailer….

I hooked up the trailer so we can get an early start tomorrow morning.

DINNER: Grilled hamburgers with blue cheese. I baked the ciabatta rolls in the propane oven and they turned out well. Tomatoes from a farm stand nearby with basil was the side.

Not just a walk in the woods….

LOCATION: Near Benton, Pennsylvania

CAMPGROUND: Ricketts Glen State Park. See yesterday’s description

WEATHER: After a downpour during the night, today was sunny and warm – 70s

This campground is very remote. 20 miles to the closest town. There isn’t even cell service here. We drove into town looking for wifi. Nothing, not even a library. So, we did laundry, then had lunch in a cute “home- cooking” kind of place. We tried their pirogies, since they seem popular here.

We stopped at a really cute farm stand and bought some fruit and veg.

Back to the campground, where we did one of the famous hikes this park is known for. The most popular trail takes hikers by 21 waterfalls. The park ranger warned us that parts are very steep, and possibly slippery after the rain. The trail is categorized as “most difficult”!!!! But, we started off anyway. Immediately, the stony trail was straight downhill. With our walking sticks, we slowly made it down.

We passed several of the beautiful falls. Since it has been raining so much, the falls are full of water and it was really roaring. One misstep and we would be in the water!

This one was particularly pretty. The woman taking our photo told us not to back up much farther!

After we made it to the most dramatic falls, with a 95-foot fall, we headed back. Keeping in mind that he had triple bypass surgery just 3 weeks ago, George did amazingly well!

Back at the campground, I made another great (so I think) campfire.

DINNER: Chicken legs and wings from a rotisserie chicken with veg from the farmers’ market. I had planned to make a side of pasta in cream sauce, but the propane went out right in the middle of my cooking! It is particularly bad because we don’t have electricity either. We will keep the refrigerator closed and hope that the food stays cool until we can find some propane tomorrow.

Not my favorite driving….

LOCATION: Benton, Pennsylvania in northeast part of state

CAMPGROUND: Ricketts Glen State Park. Very woodsy and picturesque. Our site is paved and right on the lake. No services. Nice bathroom. $23/night. 4 stars out of 5.

WEATHER: Rain, rain, rain. High 75

The day was spent mostly on the road. Thank goodness we had hooked up last night, so we didn’t have to do it in the rain this AM. We got an early start of 8:00 AM, and stopped at a McDonalds along the way for wifi and coffee.

George cannot drive for 6 weeks, so it is up to me for the trip back to Texas. Today was driving that I love — in the wind and rain, on ugly interstates with big trucks passing, merging traffic, and cities. Not! With white knuckles, I had to go through Binghampton and Syracuse, NY. As we were driving right through the center of Syracuse, the backup camera jiggled and went out. Kind of scary not to be able to see around me.

Lunch was at a rest stop. The nice thing about pulling a trailer is that we don’t have to just eat sandwiches, or eat at fast food restaurants for lunch. We can use the propane stove to warm up leftovers or soup.

Once off the interstate, we drove on country roads through PA. We went through a valley that had serious flood damage. We arrived at the park at about 3:00.

We had selected this park as it is in my book “Thousand Places in the USA and Canada to See Before You Die”. It is famous for its waterfalls. They should be really roaring with the rain they have had in this area. We will be here 3 nights.

I made a campfire by myself, and I must say that it turned out well….

Then, it started to rain again, and we had to come in.

DINNER: A candlelight dinner (since we are trying to save on our battery) of pork chops in a red wine/portobello sauce with sauteed potatoes on the side. Nice!

Meeting up with college roommate

LOCATION: Wellesley Island in the Thousand Islands region, in upstate New York

CAMPGROUND: Wellesley Island State Park. See previous description

WEATHER: Rainy most of the day. High in 60s

Today’s highlight was meeting up with my former college roommate, Meredith (for whom I named one of my daughters). She and I roomed together at Central College – on the Pella, Iowa campus as well as with Central’s study abroad programs in Spain and Yucatán, Mexico. She shared a photo she had taken of me having a siesta when we lived together in Mexico…

Fast forward 45 years, and here we are today…

We spent about 3 hours chatting to catch up with each other’s lives. We had lunch in a nice brewpub in Watertown, NY. We hope to reunite next year in Ontario.

Then, George and I made our way back to the campground checking out some cute river-front villages along the way. We stopped at the diner where we had had coffee yesterday to buy a salad to try original Thousand Island dressing. We couldn’t leave the area without trying some!

DINNER: We tried out our propane oven for the first time. (I usually just use the microwave or the convention oven option in the microwave). However, since the weather was cool, we thought we would give it a try. Works great! I made a chicken casserole……rotisserie chicken breasts with tons of veg I had bought at farmers’ markets along the way – zucchini, onion, garlic, heirloom tomatoes, banana peppers, and carrots. I topped with grated parmesan, then baked. Side was the salad purchased at the diner with the Thousand Island dressing. The dressing was ok, but we were glad we had not brought a large bottle of it! The chicken was really tasty, but it made too much. Leftovers are in our future….

Touring the Thousand Islands

LOCATION: Wellesley Island in the Thousand Island area

CAMPGROUND: Wellesley Island State Park. See previous description

WEATHER: Very nice fall day. Sunny. High 65

This are has been on our bucket list, and we were anxious to tour the Thousand Islands. Due to being off-season, the 10:00 cruise was canceled, so we had an hour to kill before the 11:00 one. We found a local diner for a cup of coffee. It was like being in the 60s – the real thing. We split a muffin, then George had to get a piece of homemade apple pie. The waitresses greeted the customers by name. Just classic. ……and cheap! Seeing Thousand Island salad dressing on the menu (served with salads and on hamburgers), I asked about its history. The waitress said that there are several legends about its origin. One is that a restaurant in a nearby seaside town invented it. Another was that Mr. Boldt, of Boldt Castle, asked his chef one day for something different for his salad. The waitress gave me their restaurant’s recipe. Apparently, chili sauce is the special ingredient.

The cruise on the St. Lawrence River was about 3 hours. Even though the boat was enclosed, it was a bit chilly. We sailed through many of the islands on both the Canadian and US side. We learned that there are actually 1864 Islands, not just 1000. The majority are on the Canadian side. Almost every island has a house on it. Some are tiny; some are large. Many of the houses are beautiful, including those on “millionaires’ row”. It is interesting to think that the water flows from Duluth, Minnesota to the Gulf of St. Lawrence where we were in Gaspe, just a few weeks ago.

The cruise stopped at Boldt Castle on its own Heart Island. We learned the history of the castle, built by the manager of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

After the cruise, we visited a few little seaside towns and did grocery shopping. Today is my birthday. It was weird – I was carded at the grocery store buying George some beer!

I don’t like to cook meat inside the trailer, so we planned to grill tonight. While shopping, we stocked up on meats and cooked them all tonight on the grill for future dinners. Then, while the fire was still hot, I cooked tonight’s dinner…

DINNER: Lightly fried squid and shrimp, using a fish breading mix we had enjoyed with our Nova Scotia friends while camping in New Brunswick. Side was rice and peas. We now have a freezer full of cooked meats for upcoming meals.

The long SLOW trip back to Texas

LOCATION: Wellesley Island in the Thousand Islands, NY

CAMPGROUND: Wellesley Island State Park. Beautiful sites. Right on St. Lawrence River. Full hook-ups. Paved, long sites. $38/night. Only downside is that there is not a bathroom in our loop. 4 stars out of 5.

WEATHER: Beautiful. Sunny and high of 65

Today, we continued our slow way back to Texas. We started our ReidsontheRoad travels in August, 2015 and have camped all over North America as well as doing housesitting assignments all over the world. We built a “tiny house” in southern Texas last year, and will spend a few months there each year, in the winter. We were there last for a week in June, after a European housesitting trip. We left in June with our Airstream, and drove to North Carolina, enjoying Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds along the way.

We spent 10 days in a charming seafront village in North Carolina housesitting a friendly dog and 2 cats. It was a nice break from camping. From there, we drove north to escape summer’s heat. We spent several weeks in beautiful New England – Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

Then, we began our Canadian leg of this trip. We met up with our Nova Scotia camping friends, Tony and Jenny in New Brunswick, and spent several weeks with them in various New Brunswick provincial parks. After they returned home, we headed north to Quebec. Our plan was to circle the Gaspe’ Peninsula, then head north to Labrador. Our plan changed, however, when George had a heart attack in far eastern Gaspe. We hope to do Labrador and the parts of Quebec that we missed another year.

After 26 days in hospitals and a positive recovery, we drove to Burlington, Vermont. We had a great time there in that hip town, and left today to start our way back to Texas.

We drove about 200 miles. To go southwest, we had to start by going north, around Lake Champlain and around the Adirondack Mountains. We made a big circle, and started following the St. Lawrence River. It was an interesting drive, mostly through countryside and small towns. We drove through Amish territory, passing a few horse and buggy carts and through Indian reservation towns, with lots of tobacco shops and casinos. Then, along the St. Lawrence.

We arrived at our lovely campsite about 3:30 and got unhooked. Since George cannot lift anything heavy or do much reaching/maneuvering, I am the one who now does the hook-ups and disconnects. It is VERY complicated. He is the supervisor, and I am the “worker”.

DINNER: Shrimp sauteed with onions, capers, and artichoke hearts in a garlic butter sauce over thin spaghetti. Side was carrots in a dill sauce. Quite tasty!

Day trip to celebrate first day of autumn

LOCATION: Burlington, Vermont

CAMPGROUND: North Beach Municipal Park. See previous description

WEATHER: First day of fall, and it feels like it! Crisp, sunny and cool. High 60

Today, we did a road trip to Middlebury, about 35 miles south of here. The drive was very pleasant, passing lots of farmstands with pumpkins proudly displayed and sunflowers in the fields. Quintessential New England, with beautiful farms and quaint farmhouses.

Middlebury is the home of Middlebury College, a famous liberal arts school that I almost attended, due to its reputation for having a good foreign language program. College kids and alumni were gathering for tailgating parties before the Saturday afternoon football game.

We found a local farmers’ market and bought some veg, fruit and a freshly baked baguette.

Then, a brewpub of course! This one was really nice. We shared a sampler of beers and some brisket that they had just smoked outside.

Back in Burlington, we thought we would go on a cruise around Lake Champlain. Since today was a beautiful Saturday, people were everywhere downtown, and parking was just impossible. So, we had to give up that idea, and returned to the campground to chill. Campers have poured in today, as it is the weekend.

DINNER: A melange of sauteed vegetables from the farmers’ market – banana pepper, zucchini, garlic, red onions, fresh basil, and heirloom tomatoes. Main course was salmon burgers. Yum! Dessert was fresh raspberries from the farmers’ market with goat milk yogurt. Fantastic!

28 Brewpubs?

LOCATION: Burlington, Vermont

CAMPGROUND: North Beach Municipal Park. See previous description

WEATHER: Super windy and rainy.

The campground has free wifi with the best reception in the office. They kindly offer free coffee, so we did some internet stuff and enjoyed a coffee.

I’ve been having some ear issues, so we went to an urgent care center. It turns out that I had wax buildup in my ear. After cleaning it again, I could hear again. Magic! What a relief!

We wanted to go to another brewpub for lunch. When I googled brewpubs in Burlington, I found a website called “The 28 Best Brewpubs in Burlington”. 28! So we decided to go to Magic Hat, which is a well-known one. It was pretty nifty.

We shared some tacos and a beer sampler. Very tasty!

From there, we went from low-brow to high-brow, visiting the Shelburne Museum. It is a collection of buildings on beautiful grounds. Some of the buildings house artwork; some are historic buildings. We walked all around. This round barn was impressive….

On our way back to the campground, we stopped by the Shelburne Winery for a tasting. I got a new wine glass with the tasting, which I needed after breaking the only one we had in the camper

We stopped at a local co-op with wonderful fruits and veg.

DINNER: Chicken/vegetable noodle soup. Great on a cool night like this.

Parking challenges in Burlington

LOCATION: Burlington, Vermont

CAMPGROUND: North Beach Municipal Park. See previous description

WEATHER: Very pleasant. A bit of fall in the air. High mid-60s

After a quiet morning of internet work and laundry, we headed to town for lunch. George wanted to go to Vermont’s. oldest brewpub. The streets in Burlington are pretty narrow, and our pickup seems very big and unwieldy. The brewpub, unfortunately, is located smack-dab in the middle of downtown. Some of the streets are pedestrian only. Most of the parking is parallel parking, which I absolutely cannot do with the pickup, unless there are about 3 spaces empty. We spotted a parking garage and I headed into it. After I entered, I saw a sign saying that it was private parking only. Oh no! So I had to back up. A kind businessman asked me what I was doing. I explained. He stopped pedestrian and car traffic for me and even asked one car to move so I could get back on the street. So kind! We finally found a regular parking lot and had to walk quite a ways back to the pub. I sure miss George’s driving!

We had a nice lunch -shared two soups – seafood chowder and Vermont cheddar ale. Then, we took the pickup to the Dodge dealer for an oil change.

Burlington has a lot of bicyclists. There are very nice bike paths everywhere. Our campground is next to one that follows the lake. I took a walk on it to downtown, about 1.5 miles each way. It was quite nice. Lots of joggers, walkers, and cyclists. I watched them set up for the downtown’s Octoberfest that starts this weekend in Waterfront Park.

Since George can’t lift much still, I was in charge of making the campfire. I finally got it going….

DINNER: Lots of things from the farmers’ market…..I made bruschetta….. Baguette slices with mozzarella cheese, salami, heirloom tomatoes, artichoke hearts, green onions and red bell pepper. Side was green beans.