Finally – the Maine Coast!

Finally – the Maine Coast!

Here we are another month and another 1500 miles under the wheels with lots of memories and a huge loss.

And we finally made it to Maine! Definitely the best part of this trip – although it’s all wonderful. 

We loved Maine. Booth Bay, Bar Harbor (Acadia National Park), Calais, Camden, Rockport – all of it. We could live there.

So we shall. Not on the coast though.  This winter the plan is to head to Hanover, Maine (and Sunday River Ski Mountain) to teach some skiing. Why not?

But for the next two weeks, we  continue westward through Pennsylvania towards Gettysburg. I can’t wait to see that historic site!  Later this week we pick up our next service dog in training. I can’t believe we are adding another puppy to the household!  “It’ll be fun” she says!

Yea right. We need a bigger RV!

It has been a very relaxing and enjoyable month since we left Lake Placid.  We’ve put some miles under us for sure!

From Lake Placid, little, skinny, windy, hilly roads took us through Vermont, New Hampshire to Mt Washington and on into Maine,looking for a ski mountain we liked with an RV park nearby open all winter.  Not in Lake Placid, nor Sugarbush but in the little town of Hanover, Maine we found an RV park we liked just a few miles from a mountain we also liked called Sunday River. Kinda cool that it is named liked Red River in New Mexico!

Here comes the hard part and one of the reasons I have not written in a while. While we were in this RV park, on our 34th anniversary, having almost decided to come back for the winter – we lost our beloved Goose.  God took Goose for some reason at 8 years old at 2am. He went from perfectly healthy to not in one evening. We miss him more than tears can say. When I can, I will make an awesome video for and about him. This is going to make Shelly cry again but I have to put it in. 

But life goes on and we must also.

We headed east for a lobster roll.  Our long time friends Sue & Mark told us to visit BoothBay and see their buddies Tim and Liz Brown so we found a brewery that let us stay and headed that way. We spent two days and had a great time. We love the Maine coast! Both days we went to a little bitty country store next to an old drawbridge and splurged. 

Lobster rolls (you would not believe how good these things are!), crab rolls, and clam chowder. We had to leave as the $60 lunches were killing us! We found the Staley’s friends and had a good time talking memories. 

One night we went into town on the waterfront for cocktails and appetizers, stumbled into an open mic night, and got to play a few songs with the band. Fun! 

From there we headed north along the coast through Rockport, Camden and Searsport where we stopped to check out the history museum. This area was the home of the sailing fleets of old and Searsport had more captains at sea than any other town in America. 

All along the old highway 1 are the most amazing homes, barn and rock walls. We loved just driving the roads. In another example of how things seem to (almost) always work out perfect is that we originally were going to be here in mid July when we got the job at the Indiana State Fair. That pushed our timeline to arriving the day after Labor day. 

We had no idea how touristy this whole area is and were super pleased to have missed July and August! Traffic was bad enough in September! The other interesting thing we found was how close everything is once you get to the coast. From Boston to Calais, Maine at the Canadian border just is not that far! But the tolls are awful. Prices are ridiculous. Produce is amazing. People are nice.

Mount Desert Island holds both Bar Harbor and Acadia National Area. If you have never been – put it on your bucket list. Especially if you like to hike. There are some absolutely stunning hikes and paths throughout Acadia.

On up to Calais after a stop at a very old state park we barely fit into, with almost no one else around and lots of hiking. The tides are starting to get closer to 25 feet so the difference between low and high is hard to imagine.

Calais, Maine is a very small town right at the tip of downeast Maine on the Canadian border and sits on the St Croix River. In the 1800s, this area boomed with river traffic and the remains of the log and mud docks are fascinating. No river traffic now though!

From Calais we turned back south towards Camden again. In 1978 I was an engineer on a 120’ private yacht from Acapulco to Southampton, England. The crew were mostly from a town in Maine and for some reason I thought it was Camden. Although I had not spoken to any of these guys since 1979, I thought it worth a try to see if they were to be found. It took me 30 minutes and two people to find Alden Cole who was the first mate. We talked about old times and old friends and headed on down the road. Pretty cool.

Our next planned stop was west of Philadelphia at our friend David’s house. We were going to crash his yard for a week, get some work done (the truck is STILL overheating on steep hills!) and Shelly has a full weekend to complete her service dog Team Facilitator certification with Atlas Service Dogs. 

But first we (I) wanted to see Boston. How could we be so close and not go see where it all started?  We found a place to park the RV at a really old State Park (expensive!) and drove the truck in that afternoon for a quick looksee. 

First – do not take a dually truck into Boston. Just  saying. There is not enough room. We could not even fit in any of the garages! We drove around Boston Commons (right by the “Cheers” bar)  7 or 8 times and finally found a parking space just big enough to squeeze in just because the guy behind us moved back! My rear wheels were on the sidewalk just to stay out of the road!

We paid for a tour and although interesting I recommend if you go, just take a map and follow the clearly laid out brick walk for the 2.5 mile real tour on your own.

Still – to be able to see the graves of the men who started it all  – to see the long wharf where the shots were fired – the churches etc. It was awesome. If I had the money I would get a hotel downtown, and stay for two or three days. We stayed three hours and fought our way out of the 4pm traffic. Awful!

On the way through southern Maine, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania we stayed at several farms. These were really cool farms that reminded of us High Country Stables on a grand scale. 4th and 5th generation families who had hundreds of acres planted in all kinds of fruits (mostly apples, peaches, blueberries, raspberries etc) and facilities to sell direct to the public by making it fun. Hay wagons, bands, u-pick, country stores with fresh bakery and bbq and much more. We had a great time! Even got to play some more music.

Today we are headed for Gettysburg, then circling around back up to Maine to get set up for winter and skiing! The leaves are falling like crazy, and we seem to have missed the fall colors somewhat. Maybe in the next two weeks as the weather changes..

 

Indiana State Fair, Michigan and across to New York and Niagara Falls! Awesome!

Indiana State Fair, Michigan and across to New York and Niagara Falls! Awesome!

This morning we left Lake Placid, New York in the Adirondacks and headed east to Green Mountain, VT to check out a few more ski resorts for the winter. It finally looks like we will make it to Maine for lobster this time!

It has been an amazing couple of months with lots to see and do. Plus we have met so many wonderful people who all seem to want to do what we do. Why don’t they?

I could try to explain what we have seen but pictures seem to tell the story better. Niagara Falls was awesome. Get out and see our beautiful country!

We have also particularly enjoyed driving back roads across Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York.  In a way it is sad to see how many of the farms and towns seem to be fading away – but at the same time there is lots of activity. And the barns and houses are wonderful to see, as well as the architecture of the old towns. We look forward to more of this as we travel east to the coast of Maine and south to Philadelphia for some meetings in late September.

If you know anyone we should visit let us know!

 

 

Plans change again. Turn around!

Plans change again. Turn around!

What an amazing summer! We have been very blessed to be able to move at a snail’s crawl from Pikeville, KY (where we left you last)  up along the Ohio river through more of Kentucky and the Ohio River Valley as we were headed for Maine and lobsters…

Well – plans do change.

We are members of a site workampers.com that sends out a daily post with work opportunities all over the country and all kinds of jobs. From working the sugar beet harvest in North Dakota to bear watching guides in Alaska to Yellowstone and Maine and Florida and  – you get the picture.

Just about the time we had Pittsburgh PA in our sights there was an ad for a couple to run the RV park for the Indianapolis State Fair for the month of August for what we thought was a lot of money.  We called and they gave us the job! So we turned around, headed back through the mountains again, and meandered towards Nashville before turning north towards Michigan.

The gig in Indianapolis is in August. I imagine it will be very hot!

We are looking for a certain fifth wheel to upgrade to a bit more room. There is one outside Asheville, and one in New Carlisle, Indiana which is where we are headed now.

Isn’t is fun to be able to turn on a dime and change your whole plans? We really still want to go to Maine!

If you know of anyone who might be looking for a great fifth wheel RV we have to sell ours first. It is a little embarrassing but we have a for sale sign on the back so people on the road can see it!  Since the RV campground for the fair has 240 spots and there is a fairly good turnover for the three weeks we will be there, we hope to sell it then…

Here is a compilation video of what we are seeing as we travel. Hope you enjoy it!

Islamorada to Kentucky! Keep on Trucking!

Summer thunderstorms fly down the Kentucky mountains where generations have taken coal from deep within while I work on another video of our travels. Please let us know if you like these!

Did you see this video of Shelly swimming with the dolphins in Islamorada?

We are in Pikeville, Kentucky – home to the Hatfield and McCoy clans and feuds from not that long ago. It is interesting how we end up in places like this as we have no preconceived ideas or plans  – we just go where we go! Another fascinating thing about Pikeville is how they cut through a mountain to move the river and the railroad away from town – and in the process became the second largest earth moving project in the country while saving the town from the repeated, disastrous floods from the river!  I love stuff like that! We are staying up on that cut on the right of the image…

We have our RV up for sale as we have finally found one a little newer and just a little bigger. If we sell fine – if not that is fine too. Every move we make north takes us further away from the one we like but we go with what comes!

We are loving the mountains, the hiking, the scenery and the pace after working hard for most of the last 6 months. And we intend to keep this pace up as long as possible! We do not like the ticks. Period.

Enjoy the video and see you next time!

 

 

On the Road Again –  North to Maine (Maybe?)

On the Road Again – North to Maine (Maybe?)

One of the questions we get the most often is “What is the place you like the best?” And the answer is “all of them”.

Easter Sunrise Service

Every single place we have been to had something about it. (Well except for cities – we really are not fond of cities!)  What makes these places so great is the ability to leave them. Islamorada in the Florida Keys is a magical place. Our RV spot was on nice thick green grass, surrounded by palm trees, a banana tree on one side, the ocean and a beach area on the water 200 feet away. Temperatures range from 60 – 90 with warm, balmy breezes almost all the time. It was almost perfect.

But then we started thinking about mountains, and cooler weather, and green trees… and decided it was time to move on.  Now we are excited to be on the road, seeing more great places with another awesome place to compare. How cool is that?

Isn’t everything relevant? If you can’t compare where you are to somewhere else –  would it not become just ‘normal’?  Maybe this is why we travel so much. Every place is new. Every place is different with new sites, sounds, weather, people and things to do.

Today we are in western North Carolina in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains just east of Asheville and it is glorious. And different.

Shelly’s Mom is nice enough to put up with us while we have the fifth wheel in for some needed repairs to slide-outs and waste valves covered by an extended warranty so I don’t have to do it! The truck transmission is getting a new, deeper pan and a going over and the rear brakes on the truck gets new pads before we head up through the mountains towards Maine.

The very rough plan is to slowly make our way through the Blue Ridge up into Tennessee, on into West Virginia, Virginia, western PA, western New York and then on up to New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine. Looking at a map it looks like it might be cool to check out the Canadian Maritimes, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.  All new to us. We have no deadlines and no commitments from here on out so we are free to make whatever stops, turns or changes present themselves!

We have less room than before on the RV with the addition of a 1 year old American Chocolate Lab Shelly is training to service. Her goal is to train Daisy to be a scent dog of some kind – peanuts, bed bugs, who knows?  Daisy is cute but she sure is a handful of energy!

There has only been a small travelling break since last July. We worked in Grove, Oklahoma, then renovated and sold the boat in Texas for ExceptionalWarriors.org, on to Ft Pierce, Fl to rebuild the 58 Hatteras, and finally four months in Islamorada renovating a 52′ Bluewater yacht from hurricane damage.

Although it helps to build the cruising kitty, there is a cost. I seemed to have had a run of accidents in the last year or so – starting with a knee issue from teaching snow skiing in New Mexico, to blowing myself out of a dingy with a gas explosion and a skilsaw accident in Islamorada. We both could use a rest period.  We don’t heal as fast as we used to!

While in Islamorada, Shelly got the opportunity to swim with dolphins in Theater By The Sea. This park was right next to where we were staying (we walked or bicycled around it at least twice day!) and it turned out to be one of the most rewarding things she has been able to do. It was very interesting spending time with the sea lion trainers and comparing training notes!

As May turns into June and temperatures in western North Carolina climb into the mid 90’s, we find ourselves waiting for parts for the RV over a beautiful Memorial Day weekend. As we remember those whose died fighting, and those families left behind, we are even more grateful for what we have.

Today the RV is in the shop being repaired. We hope to be on the road to Tennessee later today and on our way again. In the meantime, we took the opportunity to wash, compound and wax all 35 feet of the RV. It looks nice but the arms sure feel it!

Goodbye beaches and hello cooler weather and mountain hiking!

 

 

 

 

Islamorada – Wintering in the Florida Keys

Islamorada – Wintering in the Florida Keys

Just a quick update! Life is very challenging here in the Florida Keys in the winter.

It is kinda hot so we have to run the AC more than we would like. The banana bush outside our window has way more bananas than we can eat. The fresh shrimp, mahi mahi and smoked wahoo prices are getting a little high. And there are way too many snowbirds!

But we would still rather be here! 😉

I’m sure you understand?

Here is a short video to let you see where we are staying. Looks like we might be here through April or so – then the idea is to make our way up to Maine to check out the lobster. Sounds like a good idea to us!