Road Trip 2021: The Long Distance Relationship

We left Trenton, Maine and headed for the Farmington/Chesterville area. We wound up staying at the Skowhegan/Kennebec Valley KOA; it was further away from our destination than I would have liked but it was an amazing campground that we would gladly stay at again. (My review is available here.) Our first stops were near sites we wanted to see, so what drew us to this area? Friendship.

When I was in high school, I had several pen pals – up to 21 at one point. Over time, that number dwindled to just one and we have now been writing for over 40 years. And, as you’ve probably guessed by now, my remaining pen pal lives in Maine. There was no way I was going to visit the state and not take advantage of the opportunity to meet. So, we exchanged (more) letters and phone numbers and I kept her apprised of when we would arrive. I have to admit, I was nervous. I’m shy and writing is easier for me than face-to-face interactions, but I shouldn’t have worried. Our meeting was… easy. You would think we had known each other for years, LOL.

Kenn and I spent a day with Ruth and her husband, John. We went out for lunch and then stopped for ice cream. We spent the remainder of our time just sitting around our campsite and talking. Ruth asked one of the campground employees to take our picture.

John, Ruth, Linda and Kenn

One of the souvenirs I collect when we travel is (are?) Christmas ornaments. Somehow, I got home from our trip without an ornament for Maine. I turned to Amazon (of course) in my search for a Maine ornament but wasn’t happy with the selection; many of them were too similar to ornaments that I already have. Then, inspiration struck and I turned to Shutterfly where I had the photo shown above printed on a metal ornament. I think it’s perfect and look forward to it gracing our tree in all the years to come.😊

Here’s hoping that it won’t take us another 40 years to get together again!

Until next time, here’s to friendships and happy trails!

Adventures in Camping: Winter Storm Izzy

This isn’t the post I originally had planned for this week; that one has been postponed until the 27th. (A winter storm takes precedence, LOL.) Kenn and I hauled our travel trailer to South Carolina on Thursday, January 13th. This is going to be a longer stay for me but I’ll go into that in another post. We always keep an eye on the weather for our destination when traveling but apparently didn’t pay as much attention as we usually do. It wasn’t until I heard the weather reports on the drive up that I realized that there was a real chance that our destination would receive snow and/or ice.

Since I’m going to be here for a while I had elected not to bring a lot of groceries with me and just do some shopping after we arrived. We made a Walmart run after getting the camper set up and resting for a bit. We were able to find most of the things we needed but several areas (especially dairy and luncheon meat) had been cleaned out. We visited with our family in the area for a bit on Saturday and then hunkered down for the storm. I use a white noise machine and ear plugs when I sleep but some sort of noise still woke me up around 5am on Sunday morning. I could see snow accumulated on the skylight in the bathroom and sleet/freezing rain started shortly afterward. (We eventually realized that the recurring noise was the awning over the slide snapping in the wind.) Once the sun came up, we ventured outside. (As Southerners, we rarely see snow and ice so we have to enjoy it while we can!)

Snow selfie in front of the RV park office
Our campsite fairly early in the storm
Our trucks wondering what in the heck is going on

We wound up with 4-6 inches of snow interspersed with layers of ice. Now, I know you Northerners are probably rolling your eyes at how Southerners panic over a little snow. However, there is a reason for our panic: simply put, we aren’t equipped for winter weather. (I saw one snow plow in this area.) In my home state of Georgia, we don’t have snow plows or road salt. We also don’t have snow tires or chains nor do we know how to drive on snowy/icy roads. The safest thing to do is to send us home until everything melts – after we buy up all of the bread and milk in the area, of course.😂

It looks like we may have another round of snow and ice rolling in next weekend so, if you’ll excuse me, I need to make another run to Walmart!

Until next time take care, stay warm, and happy trails!

Road Trip 2021: Acadia National Park, Maine

We had very few definite plans during our 2021 road trip; one of those was visiting Acadia National Park. Prior to our visit, Kenn had expressed some concerns about it. When I asked what he meant he said that he was afraid that he had put Acadia on such a mental pedestal that the actual park was going to be a disappointment. Little did we know how true this statement would turn out to be. Sadly, neither of us was blown away by Acadia.

Don’t get me wrong. Acadia National Park is beautiful, but we didn’t see anything in the park that we hadn’t seen during our drives along the highways and byways of Maine. It might have been different if we had made reservations for the Cadillac Summit Road or Sand Beach but we elected to skip those so we didn’t have to spend our day working around reservations.

Our favorite picture from Acadia

After visiting Glacier and Yellowstone in the month of July (2019), we intentionally scheduled our trip to Acadia for September, after Labor Day when the kiddos are back in school; we thought this would make for smaller crowds. We were wrong. According to one of the park rangers, up until a couple of years ago we would have been correct in our assumption. She said that she doesn’t know what has changed but that over the past couple of years, they no longer experience a lull in the number of visitors after Labor Day.

Due to COVID restrictions, masks were required in all park facilities and no more than five people were allowed inside at a time which meant that there were long lines at all visitor’s centers, etc. There were outdoor kiosks for the purchase of park tickets and the stamps for national park passports were also set up outside. (Acadia was the first stamp in our passport!) Since our schedule was flexible and we’d had a day of rain we discussed staying in the area longer so we could spend more time in Acadia but decided against it.

A very Dr. Seuss-ish tree

Whereas I have dozens of pictures from our visits to Glacier and Yellowstone I only have a handful from Acadia. We have no regrets about visiting Acadia; it would have been a shame to travel to Maine and not go. However, should we ever return to Maine, we’ll skip Acadia and visit places we missed this time around.

My next post will be about one of my favorite parts of the trip.😊 Until then, take care and happy trails!

Road Trip 2021: Bar Harbor, Maine

We left the Lubec, Maine area and headed to the Narrows Too Camping Resort in Trenton, Maine. The campground was an easy drive from both Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. (My review of the campground is available here.)

I have to admit that, in general, I’m not a fan of “touristy” towns like Bar Harbor; the sheer number of people everywhere overwhelms me. I’m not comfortable stopping to look at architecture (something I love) or anything else because stopping is a good way to get trampled. Of course, if we were going to be in Maine and within spitting distance of Bar Harbor, we had to go. (We actually went twice.🙄) It was every bit as stressful as I expected it to be. The roads were narrow with vehicles parked down both sides which meant a big truck like Ruby was practically in the middle of the road. Parking was difficult to find. We found a park at the far end of town and parked there during both of our visits.

We did stumble across a really cool restaurant in Bar Harbor – Route 66. Route 66 features a lot of things I love: old architecture, high ceilings, stained glass windows, and vintage tchotchkes. The food was pretty good too.😉 We sat in the loft area of the restaurant which wasn’t crowded at all and gave us a good vantage point from which to view everything. It was a great place to relax, refuel, and prepare to take on the crowds again.

Route 66 interior. So cool!
Vintage tchotckes at Route 66
Fried mac and cheese bites. Yum!

While I may not like touristy towns I did take advantage of our visits to Bar Harbor to buy souvenirs and a few Christmas gifts. When in Rome, right?🤷‍♀️

We only planned three nights, two full days in the area. It rained the first full day which gave us an unexpected but much needed down day. The second full day we reserved for Acadia National Park but I’ll save that post for next week.

Until next time, happy trails!

Road Trip 2021: Quoddy Head State Park

Quoddy Head State Park is located in Lubec, Maine and is the easternmost point of the contiguous United States; a lighthouse was constructed at the site in 1808.

It wouldn’t be a post without a bad selfie, LOL

A tiny visitor’s center and park ranger residence are located at the lighthouse and there are a couple of trails along the coast. This is where I got my first look at the rocky coast of Maine and it was love at first sight.🥰 At this point, I could overwhelm you with photos of the coast but I’ll try to limit myself to a few favorites.

Clouds moved in while we were on the trail but the overcast did nothing to hide the beauty

We returned the next morning to watch the sunrise. Now, I am not a morning person at the best of times so getting up at o dark thirty while on vacation wasn’t my idea of fun, it was definitely worth it. I mean, if you’re going to take a trip to the easternmost point in the US, you may as well make it a point to be one of the first people in the country to see the sunrise! On our way to the park I got my first glimpse of a porcupine when one waddled out into the road in front of us. (Don’t worry, we didn’t hit him.) It was pretty exciting for me; we don’t have porcupines in Georgia! There were about 6 others at the park (people, not porcupines) with the same idea. It was quiet as we all found the locations from which we would watch and wait. Did I mention that it was worth getting up so early?

The view of the Quoddy Head Lighthouse when we arrived to watch the sunrise
Beautiful!

Now, one of the most exciting things to ever happen to me involves the above photo of the sunrise. I posted this photo on my Twitter account and got a message from the The Weather Channel asking for my permission to use it on the air! How cool is that? Of course I gave them the necessary permission. Now, I don’t know if they did use it because we hadn’t even bothered to set up our satellite dish and my Twitter account (@AuthorIzzy) is in the name of my writing persona so she is the one who would have been cited on the air, but I don’t care; I still know it was me.

The next day, our last in the Lubec area, we spent some time hiking one of the trails at the Cutler Preserve. We met a local couple, Nancy and Rowland, and had a good time chatting with them as we hiked a trail to the coast. The waters were much calmer and we were surprised to see it had a beautiful blue color now that it wasn’t so grumpy.

Cutler Preserve

It was also during this time that we got one of those reminders that life doesn’t stop just because of vacation. Our oldest son texted to tell us that his wife had been admitted to the hospital. I felt so helpless because we were over 2,000 miles away and unable to help him with their son. I was also assailing the gates of heaven with prayers for the safety of both our daughter-in-law and the twins she is carrying. After a few scary hours we received word that the babies were fine and daughter-in-law was going to be okay; she was diagnosed with gallstones and was hospitalized for a couple of days for observation. Thank you Jesus! (At the time of this writing, she is now 29 weeks pregnant and we look forward to welcoming the twins in the January/February 2022 time frame.)

Until next time, take care and happy trails!

Road Trip 2021: Lubec, Maine

Our 2021 road trip up the eastern coast of the United States served multiple purposes. First and foremost was for us to see areas of the country that we haven’t visited before. However, Maine was our ultimate destination and where we would spend the most time. We arrived at Sunset Point RV Park in the tiny town of Lubec, Maine on September 11th, two days earlier than scheduled; the staff was awesome and worked with us to accommodate our early arrival. I wondered why the park was named “Sunset Point”; my question was answered that evening.

So THIS is why it’s named Sunset Point!
Maggie belonged to one of our campground neighbors; she was a Very Good Girl

Lubec is a tiny town with a population less than 2,000 in the 2010 census; it is also the easternmost municipality in the contiguous United States. So, what made us choose Lubec as the location for the first extended stay of our trip? Kenn has friends who have spent a couple of summers in Lubec; they highly recommended both the area and the RV park. This was enough for us.

I love old, small towns and enjoy walking around and looking at the architecture, etc. Lubec did not disappoint. The “downtown” area is small, no more than two or three blocks.

An old building in downtown Lubec. I loved the silhouette of the roof line against the sky.

Someone had set up quite the wonderful hangout for this cat on the front porch of one of the buildings down town. S/he had easy access to food and water and even an insulated area for cold weather. Being the cat people that we are, we stopped to chat with the kitty but s/he could not be bothered to acknowledge our presence.😂

We could see Canada from Lubec. As a matter of fact, there is a bridge into Canada right next to the Lubec post office. Sadly, due to the pandemic, we did not attempt to cross the border.😢

Canada – so close and yet so far

Suffice it to say that there aren’t a plethora of restaurants in Lubec but we did enjoy Fisherman’s Wharf, the small restaurant located at The Inn on the Wharf. We had breakfast there after viewing the sunrise at West Quoddy Head. (I’ll write a separate post about this.) We may be the only people to have traveled to Maine and not eaten seafood.🤷‍♀️ (I don’t like seafood and crab/lobster makes Kenn sick.) However, I did indulge in pancakes loaded with fresh Maine blueberries. This guy kept us company (from a distance) while we ate.

I fell in love with the rocky Maine coast. Stay tuned for more posts containing oodles of pictures. Until then, happy trails!

Road Trip: Changing It Up and Lessons Learned

During all of our previous trips, we have kept interstate travel to a minimum. The idea of towing in high-speed, bumper-to-bumper travel didn’t appeal to either of us. All of that changed with our recent trip; with as many miles as we were traveling, interstate was frequently the simplest way to get from Point A to Point B. Of course, interstate travel also meant that I didn’t do much driving on this time around.

This trip was a learning experience for us in many ways and one of the things we were learning was just how far we could comfortably travel in a day. The most we traveled in one day was 377 miles; we started the morning in Blountsville, Tennessee and stopped for the night in Williamsport, Maryland. Biggest lesson learned: 377 miles in one day is bit much. Going forward, somewhere between 250 and 300 miles a day will be our goal.

Most of the 377 miles mentioned above was spent crossing Virginia on I-81. If you are ever traveling the same route, I have two things to say: 1) Bless your heart and 2) I’m sorry. Virginia is a beautiful state and I would love to spend some time there NOT on the interstate. What makes this stretch so bad? First, it’s the trucks; there are semis everywhere. Second are the rest areas. Or maybe I should say, the lack of rest areas. Many of the rest areas in Virginia are Cars Only, which rules out anyone towing a travel trailer. The rest areas that do allow trucks (and therefore RVs/travel trailers) tend to be overflowing with semis. It was often easier to just keep driving than to find somewhere to stop and stretch our legs (or get away from the trucks) for a bit.

Sunset at the Unadilla / I-88 / Oneonta KOA in New York

Much to our surprise, the day we “only” drove 282 miles on mostly non-interstate roads was the day that really took the wind out of our sails. We started the morning in Unadilla, New York and stopped for the night in Lake Winnipesauki, New Hampshire. I was so looking forward to a day without being on the interstate but driving the back roads of Vermont with road work around every other curve was not a relaxing experience at all, LOL.

Another thing we learned is how much the condition of the roads impacts your travel. As native Georgians, most of our trips are in the Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina area and its a running joke with us how bad the roads are in South Carolina. Seriously, as soon as you cross the border into South Carolina, the roads become absolute garbage. (Unless you’re near Clemson University; those roads are pristine.🙄) However, the roads in the south aren’t exposed to the same weather extremes as those in the northern states. Not only do the northern roads take a beating from the weather but there is a shortened season for repairing that damage so there was roadwork absolutely everywhere. (One of our neighbors at a KOA in Maine used to pave roads in the state for a living and he said that they were required to have all road surface work completed by October 1st or October 15th depending on the location.) Also, after a day of taking a beating from the roads sometimes you go to bed and still feel like you’re being bounced around, LOL.

I try to think of each trip as an opportunity to learn. Our trip out west in 2019 taught us to take the weather at our destination into consideration when planning a trip. (Some areas actually have winter weather that lasts more than a couple of weeks. Who knew?😂) This trip we learned not to over-estimate how far we can comfortably travel in a day and also that other things such as road conditions or other unexpected delays may impact our plans and that that’s okay. We haven’t quite made the mental transition from traveling while working, which meant that we had a limited amount of time available before we had to be back at work, to traveling while retired which means that our schedule can be adjusted as needed. We’re working on it.

Until next time, take care and happy trails.

Road Trip: The Wheels on the Trailer Go Round and Round

We have had our Micro Lite since January 2019; prior to our recently completed road trip it had less than 3,000 miles on it. In just under a month, we added almost 5,000 miles. Needless to say, this extended “shake down” revealed a few issues and we came home with a list of repairs to be made. However, the first – and biggest – issue was a major one.

Yep. We had a blowout. These tires were the original equipment and one of the main recommendations in the travel trailer groups I’m in is to replace the original tires as soon as possible for a couple of reasons. First, manufacturers by tires in bulk and they may sit in a warehouse for 2-3 years before being placed on your trailer. Second, the original tires are frequently called “China bombs” for their supposed country of origin and propensity for blowouts. We discussed replacing the tires before our road trip but that discussion was as far as it went. I was driving on I-81 near Frackville, Pennsylvania when this happened. However, when I think back on this incident, I count my blessings:

  • This section of I-81 wasn’t busy and we weren’t surrounded by semis like we had been in Virginia
  • Our Micro Lite has two axles so we still had three tires to keep us rolling (slowly)
  • I was approaching an exit where I was able to get off the interstate and pull onto the shoulder where we could inspect the damage
  • There was a whole lot of nothing at this exit but we saw signs for a Cracker Barrel and limped our way there and availed ourselves of their RV parking while we changed the tire. (We also treated ourselves to lunch. At this point we both needed and deserved a break.)
  • While we ate, I did a quick internet search and found Ken’s Tires less than two miles away in Frackville. My Kenn gave them a call and they had a tire in stock that could become our new spare. Our server gave us directions (including drawing a map) and, once we finished lunch, we made the trip to Ken’s Tires and had the new tire installed on the wheel. They had us back on the road in less than 30 minutes.

So, with one disaster averted, we began a renewed discussion on what to do with the remaining tires: try to find somewhere to have them replaced while we were on the road or wait until we got home. We decided we’d feel better if we went ahead and got the remaining tires replaced. We were flying by the seat of our pants for most of this trip – the only reservations we had made in advance were in Lubek, Maine. We couldn’t afford to get off the road in search of new tires and miss our arrival date. Lubek is a tiny town but we knew one of our next stops would be in Farmington, Maine and there were several places to buy tires in that area. Kenn settled on Tire Warehouse in Farmington and the phone calls began.😂 (Kyle and Brandi deserve some sort of award for all of the calls from Kenn that they patiently fielded over the next several days.) The GE Endurance tires that we wanted are back-ordered and wouldn’t be available until February 2022 so it was onto another brand. After much research, Kenn settled on Hankook tires and Kyle was able to get them in prior to our arrival in Farmington. When we arrived at Tire Warehouse, the staff replaced and balanced our tires and had us back on the road in about 30 minutes. Oh, and as for our decision to go ahead and replace the tires while we were on the road… the technician changing our tires sliced his hand on the exposed steel belt on one of the other tires. So, we had at least one more blowout in the making. Yikes.😬

Stay tuned for more (probably not as exciting, LOL) posts about our road trip over the next few weeks. Until next time, happy trails and check those travel trailer tires y’all!

The Great Road Trip of 2021

I’m baaaaack! Did you miss me?😄 The Great Road Trip of 2021 is officially in the books. This trip was originally planned for the Fall of 2020 but with COVID and everything, including campgrounds, shutting down, we postponed it until this year. This was the longest trip we’ve ever taken with a travel trailer. We were were on the road for 28 days from September 7th to October 4th.

The map on our travel trailer at the beginning of the trip

Over the course of the trip we covered 12 states (including our home state of Georgia), and a total of 4,856 miles. States visited:

  • Georgia
  • South Carolina
  • North Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Maryland
  • Pennsylvania
  • New York
  • Vermont
  • New Hampshire
  • Maine

True, some of those states were only overnight stays but that all it takes for us to get a new sticker on the map. (My rule: if we don’t overnight in the state, we don’t get a sticker.) We changed our route back to give us a chance to overnight in a couple of states that we otherwise would not have. Even just overnighting in a state gave us a chance to see a new-to-us part of the country. Looking at our updated map makes me feel very accomplished, LOL.

Our map now

I took my laptop with me so I could work on blog posts and the short story release I had planned for October. (I write under the pen name Isabella Norse.) I never took the laptop out of the closet, LOL. I spent my time just relaxing and enjoying the trip. I’ll spend the next few weeks sharing details. In the meantime, I’m glad to be back home and am busily getting caught up on all of the things that accumulated while we were away.

Until next time, happy trails!