The Check List

2016 Adventure Route
2016 Adventure Route

There were a lot of items on our “bucket list” for this and future trips, and this checked off a bunch of items.  One of the major items was to pick up 8 of the states we had never set foot into together.   Maine, Connecticut, Delaware, Rhode Island, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Vermont.  I have worked in Boston before but Norma and I have never seen the state from a tourist viewpoint.

New England WHALES

We have had a wonderful time so far, but there is lots more that we want to do.

Next on our check list is a whale watching tour.  We went to the wharf and bought tickets for Captain John Whale Watching tours which was to last around three hours.

We rode on the boat for about an hour when they sited a school of dolphins following the boat.  The captain slowed the boat so we could watch them.  The dolphins put on a show for about 15 minutes, and we then continued on out to sea.

Shortly after this we started seeing spray blow up out of the ocean.  Some would just slowing swim along side the boat, some would come straight out of the water catching lots of fish as they came up through the ocean waters.   When they arched their backs and their tales came out of the water that meant they were diving down to catch more food.  It was kind of funny, but we would be on one side of the boat watching the whales and someone would see one on the other side, so everyone was running from one side of the boat to the other.  It was a large boat, so thank goodness we couldn’t flip it over.  We watched them for probably about 45 minutes put on a magnificent show.

We then had to head back to shore which was sad.  I could have stayed out there for hours watching them.

LIGHTHOUSES

We saw some beautiful lighthouses while we were staying in the New England area.  We saw Nauset Lighthouse, Cape Cod Lighthouse, and the Portland Headlight.

We were able to drive to all of these, but there were many more that were only available by hike or boat.  They were all situated on the cliffs next to the ocean.  Some have had to be moved because the ocean is forcefully taking the beaches and cliffs away.  To think that years ago this was the only indication to weary sailors that there was land ahead.

There was one we saw while on the whale watch cruise that a man and his wife lived in -YIKES- it was small and about 5 miles from shore.  Now they have been replaced by solar panels and electronics.

COG RAILWAY

We got to the Cog Railway on Mount Washington about 30 minutes before time to board.  We went to pick up our tickets and found out that it was snowing on top of Mount Washington, so we would only get to go up about half way.

It was a little scary because the train was pulled with cogs up the mountain, and part of the grade was 50 percent.   It went a whole 5 miles per hour.  We saw a little red fox going up the mountain.  When we got about half way up the mountain it started snowing. There was already some snow on the ground.  They stopped long enough for us to take some pictures and then we made our decent back down the mountain.

We wished we could go all the way to the top, but we had a lot of fun anyway.

MAINE WILDLIFE PARK

We have wanted to see a real moose since we have been here.  There are moose crossing signs everywhere, but no moose can be found.  We decided we would just go see the Maine Wildlife Park instead.

There are many Moose Watching tours, but they are expensive and do not guarantee that you will see a moose.

The animals that live at this park have been injured or someone tried to raise them and they became to much to handle so they ended up here.

We were able to see moose, bears, cougars, deer (including a white one), woodchucks (including a white one), a badger, eagles, hawks, owls, and turtles.

This is a very nice place, and they are doing a very good work.

BEACHES

We have driven out to see quite a few beaches since we have been here.  Some have been around the lighthouses and have been closed because of all the beach erosion.   They are either very rocky or a gray sand, not like our white sandy beaches along the gulf.

Up until today the beaches have been very empty, but the temperature decided to go into the 80’s today which brought a lot of people out of hibernation.

We visited Old Orchard Beach in Maine today.  They have  a really neat pier, which holds shops and restaurants.

Day 7 site seeing at Plymouth MA

On day 7 which was our first full day in Plymouth MA.  We slept in a bit since the drive was so long and tiring yesterday from Harrisburg.  We got up to a balmy 54 degrees outside, and Norma amazed me with another home cooked breakfast for us and it was delicious.  We washed a load of laundry as well.

MayflowerAbout 11:00 or so we decided to head out for a relaxing site seeing day.  We figured we would start with the Monument to the Forefathers which is hardly known even in this area, but is a huge and very reverent monument with a posting of verbiage on each side to reflect on the values that were the foundation to the life and faith of our founding fathers.  It is just sitting in a couple of empty lots in a neighborhood.  We met 3 very nice ladies from Cape Cod that were there when we arrived, and they were very friendly and acted shocked that we would offer to take a photo of them together.  We got to know them a little and found they are faithful believers, and they asked for prayer for our country, and we discussed our concerns for the future of this great nation.

We also wanted to see Plymouth Rock up close, and take better photos of that and the Mayflower II.   After that we wanted to drive down to Plimoth Plantation which was a very enlightening and eye opening tour of a real life farm and village that uses techniques for cooking, farming, and living in authentic buildings like the original settlers would have used.

We ate lunch at a small restaurant named Cafe’ Nicole on the sidewalk across from Plymouth Rock, and although it was good, it wasn’t up to the standards established at Isaac’s last night.

Enjoy the photos below to see a tiny bit of what we experienced today.  If you attempt this on your next RVing adventure, or other type vacation to this area,  BRING GOOD WALKING SHOES !!!!

Day 6 leave Harrisburg for Plymouth MA

On day 6 of our New England adventure we had to leave Harrisburg, Hershey, and Amish areas in order to make our scheduled reservations at the very nice Pinewood Lodge and Campground.   It is very spacious over many acres with a wide spread of wooded private sites, but at the same time has they still offer cable, wifi, and 50 amp full hookups.   We made our reservations a few months in advance so we could be assured a pull-through site.   It turns out that making plans ahead was a good decision.

Welcome to MassachusettsIt could have been done faster, but we took a little over 7 hours to drive from Harrisburg, up through New Jersey, and New York, but WAY AROUND NYC.   Then on through New Haven Connecticut, and Providence RI, to eventually reach Plymouth MA.  The traffic was a little lighter than I had feared but was probably appropriate for a normal mid-week business day.  We stopped a few times for stretch breaks, and once for a fuel top-off.  I don’t like getting below 1/2 tank just as a safety precaution.

Once we arrived at the camp grounds, and got checked in, and setup, we got in the car and drove 15 minutes to the best seafood restaurant I’ve enjoyed in a log time.   The food, service and view were all outstanding.  From our window side seat, we could see the entire harbor, including the famous Plymouth Rock, and the Mayflower-2.  So not only is the motor home “topped-off”, but we are too.

This was scheduled to be a travel only day, and site-seeing would have started tomorrow.   However we have already seen some of the items we wanted to get to, and scoped out places that we want to visit so we now know about how long it will take to get to the mayflower tour, and the monument to the forefathers.   We may squeeze in a whale watching tour here instead of waiting until Portland ME.  We are also going to do a light-house tour in Cape Cod.

Some of the items we saw were Hudson River, Connecticut River, a Shopping Mall that was on the top 2 floors of a parking deck “elevated mall”, unique church and house architecture, unique bridges over large bodies of water, wind turbines, and lots of other sites.  One thing for certain, is that they control their speed limits up here by destroying their interstates to the point that it is not possible to drive faster than the posted limits or it would shake you to death !!!

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3rd day in Harrisburg

Hershey-Gift-ShopBy now we have pretty much mapped the place out and at least know how to get to Walmart and a few restaurants.  We spent the morning getting ready for the day at Hershey which also has a nice Tanger Outlet shopping center nearby.

We don’t do roller coasters, slingshot rides, and bungee jumping any more so the theme park is out for us until the grandkids get older anyway.  We wanted a quiet tour around the factory and grounds and to learn a bit about how an individual can change the world with his vision of factory made and mass produced chocolate using local milk from dairy farmers and cocoa beans from all over the world.  This guy was a genius and his legacy lives on today with a lot of interest world wide.  There were a lot of non english speaking people at the museum and gift shop.

We made it to Hershey in about 15 minutes of leaving the campgrounds with no traffic delays, and only a couple of traffic lights.  We entered the town of Hershey and noticed that the lamp posts held up a Hershey Kiss shaped light cover on every pole.  The entire town seemed to benefit from the product and marketing genius of this Hershey guy.

We arrived at the parking lot and although it was not empty, it certainly was not full either.  We were able to get a front row spot next to the walkway that was covered by a canopy and walked right into the factory tour and gift shop building.

The tour was a simulated factory with real equipment in motion, but videos and animatronics did all the talking and most of the imagery of product was produced with video overlaying the real conveyors to give the sense of seeing working factory.  The process was described in detail, but the recipe of how much ingredient was somehow left out of the tour.  OH YEA, and the nice thing was that the tour was given while riding through in rotating carts like tea-cups.  It was definitely worth the trip, and there were lots of other events that we could have done, but cost money and seemed to be directed towards families with children.

The gift shop was amazing, and had items that I had never seen before.  They also had a “build your own” candy bar room that was similar to a build-a-bear system except with candy.   We also were shown an area where you could learn how to taste and discern chocolates like a wine connoisseur except with exquisite chocolates.  That’s all I need is for Norma to become a chocolate connoisseur from the choc-o-holic she is now.

When we left the Hershey World building, we found next to the theme park was a Tanger Outlet shopping center.  Well Heaven help me if we don’t stop and get something else for the grand kids.   That would break their little hearts to not have a new pair of Frozen flip flops or a new Mickey Mouse plate to eat out of.  😉

We had a great day and the weather was perfect, not hot, a little breeze.  We stopped and purchased fresh “ripe on the vine” strawberries as a recommendation from our friends Jim and Barb, and they are sweet, and delicious.  There was a little pop up summer shower just as we returned to the camp ground but just made for good relaxing nap.

Tomorrow we leave bright and early to head around NY City to reach Plymouth and Cape Cod area to see all the historical items of interest in that area.   We Might also find a restaurant or two that serves sea food.

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Harrisburg – June 6

The day started off very quiet in the campground.  We watched the sun sneak up between the trees.  What a beautiful start for our day.  We did a little shopping at the  Bass Pro Shop, Aldi’s, and Walmart to restock some much needed camping supplies.

Great Friends treated us like royalty.
Great Friends treated us like royalty.

When Wayne worked for IBM/Premise years ago, he worked a lot in Philadelphia, PA where he became good friends with Jim, one of his customers.  They stayed in touch all these years.  When Jim found out we were coming to this area and asked if they could take us sightseeing.  They came to the campground around 12:30 to pick us up and start our amazing adventure.

Our first stop was the Civil War Museum.  It was a wonderful representation of the North and the South.  We spent a couple of hours here enjoying all the memorabilia.  There were bricks making up the sidewalk that told how many soldiers served and died from all the states.  It’s well worth the trip if you are ever in this area.

We then took a driving tour of downtown Harrisburg, PA.  We saw the state capital.  We saw what looked like a house, but you could drive through the middle of it.  It was the entrance to a cemetery and was something unique that we would never have imagined existed.  They drove us to a beautiful area called Reservoir Park – Italian Lake.  It was absolutely gorgeous.  There were beautiful black and white swans and a bunch of geese.  I don’t remember ever seeing a black swan.

We were getting pretty hungry so we decided it was time for dinner.  Jim and Barb suggested we eat at Duke’s Bar & Grill.  It had a menu of about a hundred pages from salads, to Mexican, to Italian, to meat and potatoes, and BOY WAS IT delicious.  Wayne and Barb got the Mountain of Meatloaf ( see photo in slide show ), which when you see the picture you will know why.  It was a “mile high mountain” 🙂

After the wonderful meal and conversation and view Jim drove us out to Three Mile Island.  It was a little scary being out there.  Two of the reactors are permanently inactive, but  two are still active.  We saw people fishing, but Barb said they are told not to eat the fish with more than 2 eyes, or more than two tails. (ha ha)

We also saw some beautiful homes in the downtown area.  Some areas were well kept, and some stood in ruins.  The architecture of these homes are beautiful.  It’s a shame to see them so deteriorated and run down.  We also were toured through  City Island Park.  They have soccer fields, minor league baseball fields, hockey, and playgrounds.  It was very nice for people of all ages and very safe for families to bring their children.

They also drove us beside the river where the flood plains are.  There are beautiful homes here, but every time it floods they get flooded.  They said when the river starts rising they have to move all their belongings up to the second floor, because the water covers the first floor.  The newer homes are built up a floor and the garage takes up the first floor.  Beautiful view of the river from here, but would not want to take the chance of being flooded.

Thanks to Jim and Barb, we had a most wonderful day.  We got to see a lot of things we would never have known were here if it were not for our wonderful friends.

Day 2 of Harrisburg

Amish-Bugyy-ChurchWe got up early as planned and ate a light breakfast in the motor home, then left on our journey/adventure for the date.   Keep in mind our “bucket list” goal is to set foot in every state of this great nation.  We wanted to visit and absorb all the culture of the Amish that we could because that brings back a lot of memories for me to see all the farm land and how well it is manicured and worked and valued as the source of life that it is.

The farms, barns, silos, in most cases are nicer than the houses, but that doesn’t mean the houses are any less attractive, neat, and well cared for.   I would simply say that these farmers take care of their equipment, facilities and grounds the way any tradesman would take care of his tools.

We saw plenty of beautiful farms, and of course the frequent Amish buggy and kids out playing.  We ate at one of the Amish family style restaurants and it was delicious and plentiful.  The name of the restaurant was Good-N-Plenty, and boy it was.  We were seated with 3 other families, one from Knoxville and I picked up on their southern nature because she asked her husband if the tea was sweet 😉  and of course it was not.   There was a nice family from Long Island who were on their way back home from a school concert that their daughter was in, and another family from Boston area and gave us some suggestions for our next leg of this trip which is in Plymouth and Cape Cod.

We drove off the main street where most of the souvenir shops and tourist traps were and saw some of the real shops and crafts that were made the old fashioned way ( by hand ).  We also got drenched as it came a flood and we thought we saw a couple of horses go floating by.

After we saw plenty of the Amish area, we headed off to catch two of our missing states for our bucket list.  Deleware and New Jersey.   Keep in mind we are from a VERY small town in Alabama, and It was a culture shock to me to have so many spaghetti intersections of about a dozen interstates, and highways all coming together.  Also let me tell those of you who have never been to old Downtown section of Wilmington Delaware, just go ahead and poke sticks under your fingernails, and pour salt in your eyes.   It will be the same experience 😉  we definitely drove through areas that we would not be comfortable getting out of the car.   New Jersey, wasn’t as bad, BUT, they let you in for free, and you have to pay 4 dollars to get out or you are stuck there forever.

Arrived at Harrisburg East

Harrisburg-EastAfter leaving Arab at 4:30pm on Friday June 3rd, we stopped at a Walmart in Marion VA for a free dry-dock and it was quiet, restful, and very safe.   There were a couple of Semi trucks and other campers of all varieties, including a 5th wheel that took the liberty of using their slide-outs.  But there was plenty of room for everyone.

We ran our generator and I had loaded the tanks with water so we had running hot/cold water, microwave, shower, toilet, air-conditioner, and TV.  What else would you need for roughing it in a Walmart parking lot ?

On the 5 and half hour drive from Marion to Harrisburg we saw deer, fox, a scared little beaver that was trying to cross the interstate, and the traffic was moderate.  We also saw a lot of beautiful American Farmlands that brought back fond memories of the “good ole days”.

We encountered a small shower from the entry of PA until we reached Harrisburg East on Friday June the 4th at roughly 4:30 ( Arab time ).   We stopped several times for stretch breaks, and coffee.  Pilot, Flying J, and a couple of Cracker Barrels.  BTW – that new berry dessert is absolutely worth the price, and the photo doesn’t do it justice.  It is HUGE – enough for 2, but I struggled through it alone.  😉

The only thing I can think of that would make this trip better was if my kids, and grand-kids could join us.   There is a HUGE heated pool here and a very large playground with swings, human powered merry-go-round, teter-toter, and other things for kids to do.  Maybe next time…….