Posts Tagged With: Traveling in our Winnebago

Maine or Bust 2022: Too Close To Resist

American Falls spills into the Niagara River.

We had one more day to explore western New York and, wanting to beat the crowds, Reg got me out of bed at 5:15 a.m. At such an early hour it felt like a long drive for a day trip, but our destination was too close to ignore. We were soon winding our way along two lane roads, driving toward one of America’s iconic landmarks.

We had a beautiful, warm day and Niagara Falls State Park was surprisingly uncrowded. We had no trouble securing tickets for the Maid of the Mist, the boat that would take us to the bottom of the falls. The U.S./Canadian border splits the Niagara River and as we set sail in our American blue waterproof ponchos, we waved to our Canadian neighbors returning to port, decked out in their country’s red plastic ponchos.

It was a wild ride, but definitely the best way to get a feel for the magnitude of the three falls and the power of the water. Not the best photo conditions, but I did my best to snap a few as Reg hung on; one hand gripping the railing and one gripping me!

Due to the mist and spray, Horseshoe Falls (large photo above) is difficult to see from above. I managed to get one shot from below before deciding that my camera had taken on as much water as I dared allow and quickly stuffed it inside my poncho.

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Maine or Bust 2022: The Grand Canyon of the East

Letchworth State Park, the Grand Canyon of the East, covers over 14,000 beautifully forested acres that stretch roughly 17 miles along the Genesee River gorge in western New York state.

Below the bridge, Upper Falls spills into the Genesee River and flows down over Middle Falls.

The park campground was not yet open for the season, so we got an early start from our nearby KOA campground and spent one day exploring numerous hiking trails that wove up and down throughout the park.

Scattered among the grounds are 15 descriptive panels and 60 commemorative medallions marking the locations of the projects FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps completed in the 1930s and early 1940s. Some, like the bridge below, still stand today. Others, like the fireplace, have been renovated.

We have one more day to fill and another New York state park to share with you before moving on. Where will that be?

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Maine or Bust 2022: Into the Wild

We felt like our two nights at Trough Creek State Park in south central Pennsylvania took us into the wilds. With just an electric hookup, we got a little closer to our camping roots, toting in bottled water for drinking and needing to be mindful of not overfilling our gray- and black-water tanks.

The park had a surprising number of interesting features that we were able to make a day of exploring. Just down the road was the Ice Mine, a curious space between hillside rocks where cold air flows through creating ice and a natural refrigerator effect.

Balanced Rock remains perched at the edge of a cliff above Great Trough Creek, seemingly defying gravity. Called an ”erosion remnant,” it has refused to fall, creating corny photo opportunities for some.

Our next two-night stop was in northern Pennsylvania at Leonard Harrison State Park, known as The Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania. Another small park accessed by way of two-lane roads passing through tiny roadside communities, we once again felt somewhat isolated.

We spent the morning safely hiking the Turkey Path which, despite the numerous warnings of a steep, dangerous trail, was a little muddy but not too scary. We had hoped that we could get down to Pine Creek, but after descending a set of 70 stairs and almost there, we were met with a closed sign.

We’ve always felt a little spoiled by our Oregon state camping options, but we were throughly impressed with Pennsylvania state parks. We’ll soon be checking into a New York state park and are curious to see how it stacks up. I’ll let you know in a few days!

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Maine or Bust 2022: Sometimes It’s A Bust

Shenandoah National Park offers over 500 miles of hiking trails through Virginia’s spectacular mountain scenery. We reserved four nights just outside the park in Luray at Spacious Skies RV Park, excited about three full days to explore the park.

We had big plans for those chairs after our daily hikes.

Our first day found us back on a section of the Appalachian Trail. We were curious to see the overnight shelters distance hikers frequent, so we chose a 6-mile out and back trail called Mary’s Rock and Birds Nest 3 Shelter.

It was a rocky, uphill path to Mary’s Rock but the view was worth the climb. We continued on until we reached the shelter known as Birds Nest 3. While it was pretty rustic, it would certainly provide welcome relief to weary hikers eager to escape bad weather. At one end was a large fireplace while a raised sleeping platform stretched across the back. Tucked away at a discrete distance was another treat…an outhouse. I didn’t peek inside assuming it was likely pretty rustic, but figured it would offer a bit of hard-to-come-by privacy after miles of wilderness.

That night the temperatures dropped and the rains began. Hard rains…relentless rains. Perhaps day two was a good time to drive a part of 105-mile Skyline Drive that winds along the spine of the park.

It was obviously not a day for sightseeing, so we went back to our trailer and got the laundry done. The rain and cold continued into the next day. Our Shenandoah National Park visit was a bit of a bust, and we weren’t able to fully appreciate the beautiful campsite we had, but we did have one great hike and a good laugh about our “drive through the park.”

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Maine or Bust 2022: George Washington Slept Here

Mount Vernon – George Washington’s plantation estate.

The most historic home in America lies on the banks of the Potomac River in Virginia. For nearly 45 years Mount Vernon was home to George Washington, our country’s first president, and his wife Martha.

The estate has been privately owned and operated by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association since 1858. It is open for all to enjoy 365 days a year. Your admission gains you access to the gardens, farm and a number of outbuildings. The interior home tour is an additional cost, but the grounds surrounding it are free for all to explore.

It took a tremendous amount of manpower (not to mention womanpower) to keep the plantation running and profitable both inside and out. As was the practice of the times, Washington depended on a workforce of enslaved men and women to tend to the day-to-day operations of the garden, crop, fishing, farm and household chores. The days were long.

Facts and figures according to the 1799 census.

George Washington died at Mount Vernon in 1799. Martha passed away a little over 2 years later. Their remains lie side-by-side in the Mount Vernon the family tomb.

Construction of the Washington tomb was completed in 1831 where the remains of George, Martha and other family members remain today.

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Maine or Bust 2022: Riding High

The idea of converting miles of unused railroad lines into safe and scenic hiking/biking trails was pure genius. We rode a few last year as we traveled across country and back, enjoying the smooth paths free from traffic and cross streets. This year, again with trailer in tow, we hit the road in search of new trails to ride.

It’s always fun to ride toward an exciting destination, so Reg and I drove to High Bridge Trail State Park to catch the rail trail in the town of Farmville, Virginia, close to the midpoint of the 31-mile stretch, thus assuring us (me) that we (I) wouldn’t poop out before reaching the spectacular centerpiece of the trail.

A little weathered, but this board describes the history of the bridge and the important role it played during the Civil War.

More than 2,400 feet long and 125 feet above the Appomattox River, the High Bridge is on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s the longest recreational bridge in Virginia. The original bridge opened in 1854, was rebuilt in 1914 and saw the last train cross in 2005. In 2012 the renovated bridge opened to the public, 147 years after the Battle of High Bridge.

Not only was the bridge a thrill to ride across, but it provided us a lunch stop with a pretty good view.

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Maine or Bust 2022: Appalachian Trail Dream

A short drive to Virginia’s Grayson Highlands State Park allowed us a chance for a short hike with a link to one of the country’s most iconic national trails.

The 2.3-mile Massie Gap and Wilburn Ridge loop trail overlaps a portion of the Appalachian Trail, the nearly 2,200-mile path that leads thru-hikers from Springer Mountain in the state of Georgia, north to Mount Katahdin in Maine.

If we were 25 years younger we might try hiking this entire trail. You never know, but for now…this short segment will have to do.

We read that we could expect spectacular views and, if we were lucky, glimpses of a wild Grayson Highland pony or two.

From atop the rock outcropping (behind Reg in photo with trail marker above) we could see forever. We rejoined the Appalachian Trail section and continued on for a short bit until a steep downhill (requiring a steep return ascent) turned us around.

We found a grassy meadow for a lunch stop, but not one pony was tempted to join us. They all remained hidden from sight.
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Maine or Bust 2022: The Virginias

Our perfect timing allowed us to spend Easter weekend with Chris and Gail in and around Charleston, West Virginia. We relaxed with dinner out Saturday night and spent Easter Sunday hanging around our campsite. After two games of croquet, where the guys fought for first place and Gail and I battled it out for last place, we rounded out the evening gathered around our cozy trailer dinette feasting on barbecued shish kebabs. And then it was time to say goodbye…

We’re settled in Virginia for close to a week in this hidden gem of an RV park.

We’re not far from the Blue Ridge Parkway, the 469-mile national parkway that runs through Virginia and North Carolina. We drove a part of it on a trip 5 years ago, but the weather was so cold and foggy we deserted it after just a few miles. This time the weather was beautiful, but cold…36 degrees as we stopped at various viewpoints and took a quick look around the historical 1889 Brinegar cabin property. Returning by way of an alternate route, we saw acres of Christmas tree farms decorating the landscape.

A six-mile roundtrip walk along the New River Trail State Park, a 57-mile strip that follows the abandoned railroad right-of-way, got us out of the truck for some much needed exercise. With two more days to fill and temperatures promising to warm up into the 70s (F), we expect to explore more of this rail trail with our bikes.

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Maine or Bust 2022: Miles of Passageways

With over 365 miles of surveyed passageways, geologists think there could be 600 more miles yet to be charted throughout the cave that lies below Mammoth Cave National Park. Known as the longest cave system on earth, it has been explored off and on for the last 4,000 years. The national park offers a selection of below ground tours for curious visitors. Reg reserved the 2-hour Gothic Tour, allowing us a taste of what the ancient explorers found.

A flight of stairs led us down past a dripping waterfall and into the historic entrance of the cave. Our guide led us a mile through several passageways, pointing out some artifacts dating back to the War of 1812 and telling endless stories of historical significance. Ancient graffiti covered the ceiling, left by 19th century explorers who created their names with soot from their candle flame.

The Mammoth Cave Railroad Bike & Hike Trail runs 16 miles from the park visitor’s center to the town of Park City. We rode about 5.5 miles before turning around…not bad for our first ride of the year. Sections of the mostly crushed rock trail made for a bumpy ride while the plank bridges created a much smoother path.

Getting to the backcountry area of the park required a short ferry ride across the fast-flowing Green River. We had the Big Hollow Loop trail almost completely to ourselves. Recent rains had left some slick, muddy areas. Downed trees lay across the trail in a few spots, requiring us to climb up and over.

Two full days to explore the park was plenty for us. If you want to take advantage of several different cave tours then three or four days might be better. Either way, Mammoth Cave National Park is definitely worth the stop. Now, on to West Virginia…

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Maine or Bust 2022: A Thunderous Kentucky Welcome

We arrived at our Singing Hills RV Park campsite early in the day, so we had a free afternoon to explore Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave National Park prior to our scheduled cave tour the next morning.

After a securing a park guide with map, and armed with a couple short hike recommendations, we each gobbled down a mammoth hot dog and left the busy visitor’s center. The promise of wild flowers led us to a short hike to see where the underground River Styx exits, spilling into a muddy pond that flows into Green River.

Back at our campsite, Mother Nature had plans for our evening. You might remember awhile back I mentioned my fear of tornadoes. As we were making dinner, my phone began whining like a miniature air raid siren with a voice shouting ”Tornado warning! Take cover now!” Fortunately, I had my warning radius set far wider than necessary and the danger zone was a safe distance away…but not so far away that we avoided the storm. A bank of black clouds quickly covered us, bringing winds that shook our trailer, thunder, lightning and torrential rains. A pretty crazy night!

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