A Little More Delaware, A Little More Maryland, and on to New Joy-zee.

Holiday Park Campground was next in line for our new home. Located out in the sticks in a “town” called Greensboro, MD, this was another overpriced stopover along our east coast journey. Thick trees, water and electric only, sites of gravel and mud, it definitely did not warrant the $44 per night rate. But then, like most of the scarce RV parks we are encountering, people are willing to pay these high prices, so they can keep charging them. And this half of the country has very little public lands (BLM, Nat’l Forests, etc.) for those of us who would rather pay zero and boondock every now and then.

Still fighting the rain, we only had the opportunity to check out a couple of spots. First up was New Castle, DE. We loaded up Woodrow Wilson and road tripped into town. As luck would have it, New Castle is a very small, quaint, piece of history and upon our arrival we fell into their Historical Society’s big “A Day in Old New Castle” celebration. The old town area gets all dolled up and folks dress in period costumes to give tours of some of the old residences/buildings, to the tune of $25 per ticket for each adult. I’m still a cheap bast*%$, so we walked Woody around the town without touring inside. Some of the places still standing have been doing so since the 16-1700’s. Very cool…

The other place we got to see without getting wet was in Cambridge, MD. We drove out to the Choptank River Lighthouse and walked around the  park there and the Cambridge Yacht Club. The folks there have a couple of bucks, judging by some of the toys floating on the water. Another thing we are seeing a lot of on this half of the  world, the people here are extreme patriots and thankful to our servicemen, as evidenced by the sheer number of war memorials we are encountering.

Time to move on, reservations had been made (covering Memorial Day weekend), so off to New Jersey we went. We snagged a week at  Shady Pines MH & RV Resort in Galloway Township outside of Atlantic City. Still pricey, but the week gave us time to stretch and breath while we got to experience the Jersey Shores, AC, Ocean City, and Cape May. Still a bit rainy, but we gave it that good ol’ college try anyways.

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Our home at Shady Pines MH & RV Resort.

We did not know what to expect in Atlantic City and at the boardwalk. With the past hurricane damage and on-going restoration, I thought the boardwalk might have been back to “business as usual” by now. We were a bit surprised at the number of businesses still closed up and the lack of humans frequenting the businesses that were open. Even the boardwalk casinos seemed like ghost towns; lots of empty floor spaces, majority of card tables closed and scant few gamblers to be found. But the actual boardwalk itself showed no signs of hurricane damage (at least to we who have never seen it before the hurricanes). It was good to see state run casinos are the same everywhere, no problem in allowing us to donate to the local economy.

Cape May is home to the Cape May Point State Park. There we found the Cape May Lighthouse and the remnants of a WWII gun emplacement bunker on the beach. I guess I did a lot of sleeping in history class, I was not aware of a lot of WWII activity on this coast. But we are running into a lot of WWII bunkers of all sorts, as well as lookout towers all up and down the coast. Further down the coast we found what was left of the S.S. Atlantus, one of several experimental ships made of concrete during WWI, which sunk and now stands partially exposed just off the beach. Downtown had a large outdoor mall shopping area we let Woody lead us about, until we saw the teeny, tiny, itty-bitty sign that prohibited dogs in that area. Oops…So we headed down some of the skinny streets lined with historical Victorian homes, many of which have been converted to businesses, particularly B&B’s. We wanted to stroll the promenade (concrete boardwalk) which fronted the beach, but, alas, not a dog-friendly city.

We wanted to check out the further reaches of the boardwalk, away from the central area, so a jaunt to the North Beach area in the city of Ventnor was in order. On the way we wandered by the Absecon Lighthouse. Kinda strangely situated a bit distant from the water, it was not open to the public at the time of our pass-by, so one quick pic and on to North Beach. We were happy to be able to park on surface streets without having to pay through the nose (free, but with time constraints). A short walk got us to the beach where we ran into a unique situation. Now, up to about 5 years ago we have been California “lifers”, lived there all our lives. I grew up in Orange County, in the heart of the Southern California beach lifestyle. We’ve been all over the country, visited innumerable beaches. Evidently, this area of New Jersey makes you pay to enjoy the beach. They required a “beach badge” which we were supposed to purchase at some location undisclosed on the signage. Don’t tell anyone, but we became scofflaws and ventured out onto the boardwalk and beach without said “beach badges”. (Oh, great, now all of our travels will include the added stress of constantly looking over our shoulders for Johnny Law, always on the run, trying to stay one step ahead of our pursuers). And the beach here in Ventnor City was further unique in that posted signage prohibited dogs, alcohol, picnicking, and ball playing…basically all the reasons, except for the sun, for anyone wanting to go to the beach. The only prohibitions they need to add are no swimming or suntanning. There was a fishing pier where one has to pass through 2 gates. The public is allowed to the second gate, but then only paying “members” could pass gate #2 to the end of the pier and only members were allowed to fish off this pier. I was surprised they did not have a sign prohibiting fish hooks posted somewhere. The boardwalk was crowded, this being Memorial Day Weekend, with joggers and bikers, and the beach had ample “sunbathers” even though the weather was not great with overcast conditions. While strolling the boardwalk we passed by all the beach houses, many of which were your typical beach rental properties, some of them very impressive in structure. One of them was for sale and out of curiosity a quick check of realtor.com revealed the selling price of just short of $3M. I’d hate to have to live like that (piled on sarcasm here)…

The rain is still with us here, planning our escape for tomorrow. Jeanne has been feverishly working on research/itinerary for our weeklong stay near New York City. A very large part of that research involved other folks’ blogged experiences. Particular shout out and thank you goes to Nina of wheelingit.us , one of the blogs we regularly follow. She is very detailed when it comes to the bolts and nuts of planning attacks on destination locations. So tomorrow, we’re off to play our new reality game, “Avoid Those Toll Roads!” ’Til next post…

 

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Hangin’ out with Abe, Edgar, the Babe, and some crabs.

So after careful consideration, painstaking research and planning, many megabytes of data usage, we closed our eyes and stuck a finger in the mapbook, settling on the Washington DC area for our next stop. We found the Greenbelt Park, a National Park run campground, in beautiful downtown Greenbelt, Maryland, just outside of DC. It is a typical old NP campground inside a heavy cover of trees, sites and interior roads not real big-rig friendly and on the whole not even close to being level. The sites are dry-camping only with potable water scattered around the loops. They do have bathrooms fairly convenient in the loops, and in Loop D, recommended for bigger rigs, there is (1) shower stall in (1) of the bathhouses. Our problem here was the thick tree cover, coupled with the several days of rain, trumped our solar power system, so we ended up running our generator a bit each day. But there is always an upside, I needed to give the generator it’s monthly “work out” anyway. The rate here is $20 per night, $10 if you have the NP pass, so that was a big plus. But if you do have a bigger rig, you cannot be shy about brush scratch, the park maintenance folks don’t keep the branches trimmed back very well.

We fought rain most of the 5 days we stayed here in Greenbelt. Our first outing we pretty much got rained on the whole time. We drove into Annapolis and over to Kent Island, mostly off of Hwy. 50. The Bay Bridge was cool, but it did cost us $4 in toll extortion money. In Annapolis we got to see the Maryland State House and the Governor’s house while ducking and dodging raindrops. It is mind numbing seeing all that is history on this side of the continent, dating back into the 1600’s/1700’s/1800’s. Being from the Loony Tunes State of California there is no comparison as to volume of things to see dating back that far.

The rain kept up all night but let up enough the next day to take a bike ride from East Potomac Park, a short run through the Jefferson Memorial area and onto the Mt. Vernon hike/bike Trail. We rode the trail into Alexandria (somewhere around a 9-mile one way trail) and back. Once we returned we pedaled around the Washington Monument area, then returned to base camp. Parking in these high traffic areas is a bit pricy at times and we were happy to find the East Potomac Park with all of its free parking. We noticed on one of our rides as we passed Reagan Int’l Airport they had parking listed as $17 per half hour for the first 2 hours, then more thereafter (I did not pay attention, the $17 per half hour was enough to send me into a tizzy).

We got more break from the rain and took a drive into Baltimore for a day. Jeanne had several sights picked out for visits so visit we did. She discovered the Westminster Church and Burial Ground was the final resting place for Edgar Allen Poe. We stopped in to pay respects and Jeanne’s apprehension level got raised to the top of the creepiness meter over the whole macabre vibe she was receiving.

When in Baltimore… just gotta see Camden Yards, a mainstay in our history involving the boys of summer. Home to the Orioles, the park was vacant now with the home team out of town for the week.

Among some of the historical sights downtown were the original George Washington Monument, the Peabody Conservatory and Library, and numerous places of historical significance which, almost without exception, goes hand-in-hand with an architectural “wow” factor.

Jeanne had also learned that Federal Hill Park affords one an impressive bird’s eye view of the downtown area of Baltimore. It was an OK view of the harbor area, and was a fitting end to our tour of Baltimore.

We lucked out weather-wise and were able to do another bike ride around the capitol mall as well as take the Rock Creek Parkway trail to the Nat’l Zoo. It was nice to be on bikes at the mall area, easy to get around despite all the tourists jamming the area. I was not surprised at the rudeness of the foreign tourists, I watched as a wheelchair-bound person tried to navigate a sidewalk full of non-English speaking folks and they kept crowding and cutting him off. I was ready to wring some necks…

Of course, the weather cleared up on our travel day. We headed out in the direction of the great state of Delaware. I found the Delaware Seashore State Park to be an acceptable temporary home, near Rehoboth Beach. Nice, paved level sites with FHU’s, no tree cover, right on the Indian River Inlet at the bridge of the same name. $40 per night, we were good to go.

Besides some beach walks for Woody, we went to Cape Henlopen State Park and did part of the Dunes Hike there. Despite the name, the trail did not traverse any dunes but meandered through a marsh area instead. Not a real impressive hike. To make up for that, we went into Rehoboth Beach and walked the boardwalk there. It was a small boardwalk, but the weather was nice for a stroll through that typical beach town.

The next day we gave the bikes a workout and rode to Ocean City (Maryland) and back for about 42 miles worth. They had nice bicycle lanes the whole route and I got to see quite a few cool rides cruising south on Hwy. 1. Apparently there are many local businesses in that area who are putting on car shows scattered all over. There were some pretty mean looking muscle cars as well as many classics motoring or being towed that way. I wasn’t fast enough to snap pictures of most of them, but I did get one classic ride on film (OK, digital media, geez!).

On the eve of our travel day, we partially mapped out our destinations as we creep northward. We found it is getting close to requiring reservations at various parks, many being full up or with limited availability. So we found space at several parks for the near future, I’ll expand on those stops and locations in the next post…

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Covered Bridges, Chocolate, Philly Cheese Steaks, Liberty, and (keep it clean kiddies) Intercourse.

While we were set at the Artillery Ridge Campground in Gettysburg, we took the opportunity to make a repair on our satellite system. We first had the issue about a year and a half ago where we lost our satellite signal. It turned out our Sewell HDMI 1×4 splitter got fried. The tech kids working at Red Bay (Tiffin) swapped out our splitter and put in a small fan in the electronics cabinet to help it stay cool and we were good to go. Well, it be doing it again. So here is another learning opportunity for those of you who can benefit from my misfortune. Since we do not stay put for too long a period at any given time, these 5 days at Gettysburg were perfect to have Tiffin ship us another splitter, which we did. $160 for the part and, BAM, 2 days later we got it. Swapped it out and, BAM, we got satellite reception. So there I was, fat, dumb, and happy. Until Jeanne informed me she found the exact same part on Amazon (not Prime, though) for $55. So, valuable lesson number 9,682, if you can wait the time out, always order any parts you need from Amazon versus Tiffin.

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One lousy little part, $160 vs. $55. Always think Amazon first!

Old Mill Stream Campground at Dutch Wonderland in Lancaster, PA seemed to be a convenient next stop for the continuing sights and sounds of Pennsylvania. Another in a long list of overpriced RV parks ($51 per night, NO DISCOUNTS!), it was central to most of the sights we wanted to see. The sites at this park were gravel, not real level, but had FHU’s. Thick trees forced us to use their cable for TV news. The park is part of the Dutch Wonderland amusement park, situated on a small stream and looks out onto an Amish farm. An Amish “traveling salesman” (actually, the whole family) came through one morning selling baked and canned goods with their horse and cart.

I expected I would find some unique, to say the least, T-shirt designs in the town of Intercourse, PA. But alas, it was really not much to write home about. It was a small tourist town with not much draw except for it’s name. It was so uninspiring that I took two whole pictures. I got a kick out of the Amish version of a car wash, they were washing down the buggies in which they sell rides to us tourists, behind the local version of a strip mall. I think that would be the Amish version of “mass transit” or “bus service”…

It seems Pennsylvania is home to the second largest number of covered bridges in the states. So, “We’re off to see the bridges…” (sung to the tune of “The Wizard of Oz”). We only picked a few to drive to, in the south Amish country and the north Amish country areas. The bridges we saw all seemed to be made of the same design, but one was a double span. All but one were currently operational as well. The driving gave us a good perspective on the countryside landscapes. The state is very hilly and green, the back roads and even some town roads tend to be a little skinny, even in big cities like Philadelphia.

What visit to Pennsylvania would be complete without a trip into Hershey, hometown to the chocolate empire? The Hershey Museum was just OK as far as museums go, a little information on history and production, a lot of personal history of the Hershey family, and a few confusing, interactive, computerized activities that we could not quite figure out. The machines are definitely smarter than we be. But on the way out, a stop at the downstairs restaurant/cafe yielded a chocolate fix called the “Take 5 Brownie” that should be categorized as an overdose!

The weather has been pretty wet and cold since we’ve been in Pennsylvania and continued that way through this stop. Instead of sitting inside and staring at the walls, we loaded Woodrow Wilson (Woody) up and took a road trip into Philadelphia. We parked in a garage next to the Independence Visitor’s Center and ventured out about this area of old town on foot. We covered quite a bit of ground, Woody leading the way (except for the Liberty Bell viewing, no dogs allowed inside). The Liberty Bell was a lot smaller than I had imagined. It is a huge attraction even at this time of year. There were wall-to-wall school groups here at the same time we were, so it made a tour of Independence Hall out of the question for us. We settled for our own foot tour and wandered about some of the historical buildings and areas concentrated near Independence Hall. Washington Square is the final resting place for thousands of unknown soldiers of Washington’s army and there is a very nice memorial to those unknowns with an eternal flame. The Christ Church contains burial sites of various historical figures from the founding of our nation, including THE MAN himself, Benjamin Franklin. I was a bit disappointed with Franklin’s gravesite, it is currently undergoing massive repairs to the marker due to centuries of water damage. It now looks like a typical construction site. Another sterling example of “timing is everything”. Jeanne had heard of an area called Elfreth’s Alley, supposedly a must-see for the area. We hoofed it to Elfreth’s Alley and found a quaint, narrow alley between apartments built between 1720-1830’s. To top off our foot tour, it was time for chow. Geno’s Steaks was our destination for a classic Philly Cheese Steak with Cheese Fries. Even though Pat’s (across the street) is touted as the beginning of the Philly Cheese Steak, we picked his rival Geno’s due to their pro-law enforcement attitude. Jeanne is not much of a carnivore, so she was not impressed with her fare. But I thought it was pretty tasty, could have used some peppers thrown in with the onions though. And the cheese fries were some kind of typical artery-clogging tasty! You know the type – potatoes deep-fried in grease and smothered with molten Cheez Wiz! Mmm, mmm good!

Well, back to the bus to prep for our travel day. Costco run completed, research into our next stop done, I got the bulk of things packed up and ready to pull out tomorrow morning. I think we are headed south, no reservations, I’ll let you know where we land when we know where we will land…

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Pennsylvania with a touch of New York.

Erie was our first stopover for the state of Pennsylvania. Right on the shores of Lake Erie, we found Presque Isle Passage campground just outside of Presque Isle State Park for our short 2-day stay. The town of Erie did not appear real exciting, so we opted for the short stay. The campground was OK, but we were starting to notice a pattern. In this part of the country (northeast), a good many of the RV parks we are finding are lacking pavement and concrete. Lots of muddy, swampy, grassy, sites that aren’t exactly meticulously maintained. And their overall prices are pretty high to boot. Pulling into our site I nearly got the bus stuck in the swampy mud/grass. But hey, I survived. One interesting aspect of this campground was one of the rental “cabins” they offer. It was a trailered house boat. I guess that was for anyone who might be a retired sailor who wants to feel “at home”.

Presque Isle State Park was pretty scenic. Situated right on Lake Erie, there were walk/bike paths, fishing lakes, the Presque Isle Lighthouse, and lots of fishing on the big lake. Woody enjoyed his stroll along the paths. Unfortunately, the weather was not the greatest, interfering with our desire to break out the bikes for a ride around the Isle.

Time to move on, as we attempted to research our next Pennsylvania stop, we again ran into RV parks that were not going to be open for about another week. So we shifted focus and found a 3-day stop at the Top-a-Rise Campground in lovely Falconer, NY. I say that sarcastically because Falconer is kinda a dumpy little town outside of Jamestown, NY. The campground was secluded and quiet, but again not a lot of concrete and asphalt. We also found something we have never encountered before. The RV sites here were W/E only, with a dump station in the middle of the park. But a few sites, including ours, had about a 6” piece of PVC similar to a normal sewer drain for an RV site, sticking out of the ground and designated for gray water only. I later tried it out and dumped my gray into it. Several minutes after I finished, I watched “my” gray water flow across the gravel driveway across from my site. Somehow I was not surprised, and, just a guess mind you, I don’t think this type of setup would pass inspection in many states of the union.

We took a drive south, back into PA to the area of Warren in the hopes of taking the bikes for a spin in the area of Kinzua Dam on the Allegheny River. But the weather gods were still frowning upon us so it ended up a drive to the dam in the rain. Upon our return to the Jamestown area we tracked down the Lakeview Cemetery. Jamestown is home town to Lucille Ball, and she is resting in eternity at the Lakeview Cemetery. Feeling nostalgic and a bit of a yearning for days long gone, we stopped by and paid our respects.

Next day, rain stopped, we decided to do a road trip. We started out driving up to Dunkirk, NY on Lake Erie. We wandered around the small boat harbor and the Dunkirk Lighthouse before heading east toward Buffalo.

I found one disturbing aspect about the great state of NY and their DOT folks. On some of the back roads we covered, we found several bridges that we had to go beneath where there was no vertical clearance posted nor warning signs posted and the clearance appeared to be suspect relative to the size of a motorhome. When we arrived in Buffalo, we found it to be a megalopolis with tons of mega-highways/interchanges converging and intersecting in a massive traffic nightmare. A couple of those intersections where we were driving under the overpasses, the great DOT of the state of NY decided they WOULD label the overpass support with the vertical clearance and one was 11+ feet and another was 12+ feet. No prior warnings, if I were in the MH we would have had issues. Good thing we were in our Jeep…

Since we made it to Buffalo, and survived, we decided to continue on to visit Niagara Falls. We stayed in the USA and let Woody lead us around the trails and vista points. Apparently we came at a good time of year, the crowds were non-existent and no, we did not see anyone proposing or getting married! Even though the Maid of the Mist did not appear to be at full capacity, we chose to forego the boat ride through the falls, at least for now…

Next on our plate was to pick up our mail. Several days prior I had ordered up our current mail to be sent general delivery to Shippenville, PA. So off to Shippenville we were. We stayed overnight at the Rustic Acres Campground, got our mail, then continued south toward Pittsburgh. Unable to locate a home in Pittsburgh (found NO parks in town, all were outskirts and beyond), we settled at the Mountain Top Bluegrass Festival and Campground. This was a half-hour drive outside of Pittsburgh in the town of Tarentum. The campground was pretty bare bones; W/E only at gravel sites with dump station a tricky proposition through the trees, no activities/trails/etc. on site, portable toilets only scattered around the park, and way overpriced at $45 per night. To top that off, they have a very deceptive website that I take issue with. The site shows pictures and describes a very nice club-like gym purportedly recently built on site. There is none. When I checked in with the owner and asked her about it, she said her website had been hacked and the bogus gym info included a link to redirect the users to the hacker(s) so they could steal her customers. She said there was nothing she could do to correct the situation. I did not feel like arguing the point or trying to solve her issue for her, but why she continues to use the website is beyond me. She could discontinue/erase the site and start over with a new one using accurate information. I suspect she is benefitting from the bogus information in that it may draw customers to her RV park and once it is discovered the gym is a figment, there are limited choices for alternative places for RV’s to park. Oh well, just my two cents…

Regardless, we stayed 2 nights so we could venture into and check out Pittsburgh. We loaded up Woody and drove into town. Jeanne had read something about the Duquesne Incline so we headed that way to check it out. It turned out to be a tram ride up the side of the mountain at $5/person round trip. The views may very well have been nice, but being the cheapskate I am I could not see giving them any money for a short ride up and down.

As luck would have it, as we were standing at the base of the incline looking across the river, lo & behold there was Heinz Field and PNC Park, homes to the Steelers and Pirates, respectively. We could also see Point Park with the famous fountain. We spent the better part of the afternoon wandering around in the on-and-off rain, ogling the sights. I was surprised we found parking, since, true to form, we just happened to be here on Fan Appreciation Day for the Steelers and there were Terrible Towel aficionados wall-to-wall. But we did find parking and enjoyed downtown.

On our way home, Jeanne wanted to check out the Allegheny Cemetery which supposedly has some outstanding buildings. Oh boy do they! We went through the Butler St. Gate and the entry buildings looked something out of medieval times. The cemetery is ginormous and there are some impressive tombs. We drove around in the rain, paying our respects to many bygone eras…

Gettysburg, PA was next on our itinerary. We found space at the Artillery Ridge Camping Resort and Gettysburg Horse Park. Driving through the skinny, historical streets to get there was interesting in a 40’ bus dragging a Jeep behind it, but we made it unscathed. And we were smack dab in the middle of all the battlefields, passing troop markers and monuments all the way. By the time we got to the RV park, I was already in awe at the historical significance and magnitude of the area.

We spent 3 days going through the museum, visitor center, battlefields, a local attraction that includes the Gettysburg Diorama and The Spirit of Gettysburg, and the Soldier’s National Cemetery. The diorama is touted as the world’s largest military diorama, depicting the entire 6,000 acre battlefield(s) with over 20,000 hand painted figures. The Soldier’s National Cemetery is where President Lincoln delivered his 2-minute Gettysburg Address. There are more than 3,500 Union soldiers that were killed in the battle of Gettysburg who are buried here. I learned quite a bit of history in just 3 days here; this I would consider a must-see, especially if you get the chance to bring your school-aged children.

Well, this history lesson for me completed, jacks up tomorrow and we’re off to see…

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Ready For Detox and Rehab…

With the Kentucky Horse Park in our rearview mirror, we headed into the Cincinnati area to finish off our Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour. We found a home at a small RV campground run by the Family Motor Coach Association called, appropriately enough, FMCA Campground. Go figger. It is a small campground with 15 FHU 50A sites and an additional 8 sites that are 30A electric only. This is an FMCA members only park and is very well maintained. Long, level, concrete back-in sites well spaced with lots of green grass between, the first two nights are free and only $20 per night for up to 5 additional nights. Woody (our K9 companion) liked the county park/lake that was adjacent to the campground with a mile and a half walking path circumnavigating the lake.

We hit the last 3 distilleries on the Craft Tour; Boone County Distillery, New Riff Distillery, and the Old Pogue Distillery. Yippee Kai-yay! Now we can settle down and detox/rehab! I have to say, after 23 distilleries, from the big boys to the smallest of mom-and-pop’s, my favorites tended to be the craft distillers. Of the Big 10, I liked the Woodford Reserve Double Barrel bourbon. Of the craft kids, I had a couple of favorites. From MB Roland Distillery, they produce a Dark Fired bourbon that is made with smoked corn in the mashbill, very smoky flavor. They also produce a moonshine called St. Elmo’s Fire that is very tasty. That is a cinnamon flavor with added cayenne pepper and it would light your cigar! Bluegrass Distillery produces a very good bourbon/rye mix. Hartfield & Co. make a white whiskey that is highly sippable. And Old Pogue produces a 100% Rye whiskey that is worth a taste.

Rain nailed us a couple of days here but we had enough clear days to check out downtown Cincinnati. We let Woody take us on a walkabout across the John A. Roebling Bridge, built in 1867, to the areas of the Reds and Bengals stadiums. And I took the opportunity to give the bus and Jeep baths before we headed out from Cincinnati.

We debated weather to head over to the ocean and hang out at Virginia Beach in a little warmer weather, but settled on heading north and maybe trying to visit Michigan. Next stop ended at Maumee State Park in Oregon, OH (the Toledo area). We stayed for 2 days and walked the trails of the park over to the beach areas of Lake Erie. Just to remind y’all, we rarely operate on reservation schedules, don’t care to be “pinned down” to schedules. So one day was pretty much spent researching stops in Michigan as we intended to work our way up the west coast to Mackinac Island. We also wanted to throw in a visit to Gerald Ford’s Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids.

From the state park we drove into Marshall, MI and found Camp Turkeyville campground. This was a campground associated with Cornewell’s Turkeyville, a family run turkey farm that sports a restaurant for dinner-theater events, large gift shop, petting zoo for the kids, and various family activities geared toward the kids.  From here we did some drive/scouting into the towns of Marshall, Lansing, and Battle Creek. And, of course, a drive into Grand Rapids got us to Ford’s Presidential Museum. Another well done museum, the surprising information to me was that Ford was offered a spot on the offensive line as center for the Green Bay Packers football team. It was back in 1935, and he was offered a whopping $110 per game! Too bad we can’t roll back today’s players salaries to those days, maybe us poor folk could afford a game ticket or two…

So, north was where we were headed. Murphy’s Legislation reared it’s ugly head, again. As we tried to find destinations, we quickly realized we were in Michigan a bit too early in the year. It appears most RV establishments in this part of the world don’t open for business until May or later, I guess it gets a little cold here and they may encounter a touch of snowfall now and then. Not willing to wait it out, change of plans #7,936. We decided to head over toward Pennsylvania.

Cleveland just happened to be in our way enroute to PA, and that city just happens to be home of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. We found a hole in the wall 55+ trailer park that had a few RV spaces for transients like us passing through, Maywood Community in Chesterland just outside of Cleveland. The sites need work, but are level concrete with FHU’s and the $20/night fee worked for us, wanting a couple of days stopover while we visit Cleveland. We visited upon the Rock HOF and let Woody lead us around the downtown area including the Indians baseball stadium and the Cav’s basketball arena. We also got a cool lightning/thunder show while we were here at Maywood Community.

Jacks up, eastbound and down we are. Next stop, the great state of Pennsylvania. Until next post…

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Horses, Bourbon, & Brews

In the Lexington area, we found the Kentucky Horse Park for a week’s stay. That is a large park that is everything equine, with an RV campground attached to it. They have tours for things like a Parade of Breeds, you can watch grooming and other chores related to horses, and Man o’ War is buried in a memorial garden there. We did not take any of the tours, not being real horse aficionados. I guess Man o’ War was kind of a big celebrity in his day, won lots of races and sired lots of champions. The RV campground was OK as far as campgrounds go, spacious enough, but getting level was a chore on the paved site. It was disappointing the sites were W/E only (for $30 a night, sewer would be nice), but at least they had 2 dump sites in the park. There was a nice playground area for the kiddies, pool area (although not in use right now), toilets/showers, and a bike trail leading out of the park.

We hit up some more of the Bourbon Trail distilleries while here in Lexington and stumbled upon an additional “trail” that was more or less localized around Lexington…the Kentucky Brewgrass Trail. That would consist of 11 fairly local microbrewers of all things beer. OK, challenge on! Well, at this stop we did complete the Kentucky Bourbon Trail (the 10 “big” corporate-type distilleries like Beam and Wild Turkey). We closed in on completing the Craft Tour. But we hit a wall with the dang microbreweries. Their days and hours were all over the map. We goofed at first and assumed businesses were generally open when we drove 40 miles out of Lexington to get to the breweries in Danville & Harrodsburg only to find them closed. And the final straw was after checking days and hours to make sure they were open, then driving out again to Lemons Mill Brewing in Harrodsburg only to find them closed again. I called their phone number and spoke to a person who said they would not open that day due to lack of patrons lately and there were some sports events on TV. Arrrrggghhhhh!!!!!!

During one of our drives to Harrodsburg, we did encounter Beaumont St., a historical area of mini-antebellum style mansions. We let Woody lead us on a walkabout down the street and to the Beaumont Inn.

This area of Kentucky is hugely into horses and horse farms. Claiborne Farms is just one of the local outfits and they offer tours to us mere mortals, and part of the intrigue is they offer you the opportunity to wrap your arms around $90,000,000 worth of horse (that’s seven zeros, folks!). We could not pass that one up. The ranch consists of some 3,000 acres, 50 barns, and 35 houses. Obviously, the tour did not cover the whole schmear, but basically the business end of the thoroughbred breeding enterprise- – – the breeding shed, the stud barns, and face to face with some of the current studs, including top dog War Front, currently valued at about $90,000,000 and who fetches a stud fee of $250,000. Just a few of Claiborne’s historical accomplishments:

-raised 63 champions and 17 Horses of the Year

-stallions and offspring have 22 Kentucky Derby wins, 19 Preakness wins, 22 Belmont wins, 29 Breeder’s Cup wins

-6 of 12 Triple Crown winners have been sired by Claiborne stallions.

OK, enough about horses. Well, almost enough. The Keeneland Racetrack happens to be here in Lexington and son-of-a-gun-show-me-some-fun we just happened to be here during their opening weekend, so a day at the horse races seemed in order. $5 admission says you can’t argue with that! Now this was interesting. I don’t know if opening weekend is different from other weekends. The place was jam-PACKED! The track itself was ankle-to-elbow, but there were probably twice as many folks outside the track area showing no interest in going inside to watch races. The crowd was majority college kids (we are, as a matter of fact, in UK country), and they get all dressed up like going to a prom. It appeared to me they were all deeply involved in study groups for their class “Power Drinking 101”! I felt like a pinball walking around inside the track, drunks bouncing off my shoulders constantly, some nearly falling down. But we managed to survive the crowd and Jeanne got to donate a little cash to the local horse economy. I think her last horse betted on had 81:1 odds. Come to think of it, as of the time I am writing this, that very horse is still rounding the first turn…

Our “last hurrah” at this park was our bike ride along the Legacy Trail. It was about a 20 mile round trip ride into downtown Lexington along Cane Creek. If this trail was indicative of the way Kentucky does all their hike/bike trails, they definitely got it going on. At all the trailheads along our trail, they installed a “Fix It” post. These included manual bicycle pumps and a slew of hand tools cabled together for all manner of bicycle repair. Anyway, it was a nice moderate ride.

That catches us up, until next post…

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“Barreling” On Toward the Kentucky Bourbon Trail (no pun intended…well, OK, so it WAS intended!)

We chose to pop on over to Atlanta so we could visit Jimmy Carter’s Presidential Library. We stayed at the Stone Mountain Park again for a quick 2 day stay. Since our last stop there, they have done quite a few improvements such as adding yurts and park model trailers for rent, erected a large, very nice playground area for the kids, and across the lake a huge Marriott’s hotel sprung up.

The Carter Presidential Library (it is actually called a “Center”, not a library) was OK. I was disappointed not more attention was devoted to the Iran Hostage Crisis. Even the Bush libraries had extensive displays regarding their wars, whether you consider them justified or not. I think the hostage crisis overshadowed the Panama Canal Treaty and even the Peace Treaty between Israel and Egypt. It should play a more prominent part in Carter’s Library. Just my two cents…

We had a little bit of spare time so we wanted to do the walk up Stone Mountain. The mountain does not look very daunting, but it is actually a good leg workout, continuous incline with numerous rocks/steps thrown in for good measure. But the view at the top was very nice.

So with another Presidential Library notch in our belts, onward and upward. Weather looked to be getting a bit more mellow, so we decided to start our northward trek. Chattanooga, Tennessee was our next chosen stop. We found a Camping World campground on the south side of town which was actually an OK stop; full hookups, level site, $17 per night, and close to town. We used this opportunity to do a Costco run and load up.

A short trip into downtown found us at the Walnut Street Bridge which is a foot bridge across the Tennessee River. We walked around the area a bit and found a sidewalk that was anything but straight. Not much had changed in the area since we were here last. We already checked out Rock City and Point Park on Lookout Mountain (Civil War site). This time we were going to visit Ruby Falls, an underground waterfall, but seeing it was a short excursion, we opted instead for a 9.6 mile hike on the Mullen’s Cove Loop Trail in the Prentice Cooper State Forest. That was one killer hike! My hams and quads are still singing…

From Tennessee it was up into Kentucky for our next adventure, at the Mammoth Cave National Park. We stayed 4 days at the park campground, right next to the visitor’s center. The park offers several different cave tours and we started out with the Historic Entrance self tour. This was a short walk/tour and pretty uneventful as far as caves go, especially if you’ve ever been anywhere like the Oregon Caves or Carlsbad Caverns. We also took the short hike down the River Styx Spring Trail to see the spring. Unfortunately, the park does not allow flash photography inside the cave system, so cave pix are sadly lacking here. But I tried, as evidenced by the photos posted.

While at the campground, we found the Mammoth Cave Railroad Bike & Hike Trail. The bikes got a little work in (NO! My hams and quads got all the work! Ouch!) on the 16 mile ride which included a couple of healthy (read: steep) inclines.

After all that physical exertion, I was ready for some sedentary living and beginning the Kentucky Bourbon Trail was just the ticket. From our base at Mammoth Cave, we were able to start both trails. There is the Kentucky Bourbon Trail that consists of 10 distilleries (the ones I call “corporate”, large conglomerates like Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark), and the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour that consists of 13 small distilleries (the mom-and-pop family outfits). All 23 are scattered pretty much around the Bowling Green-Louisville-Lexington triangle. Our start got us visiting 6 of the 23 from our home at Mammoth Cave.

We concluded our stay with one more cave tour, the Domes and Dripstones Tour. The name of the tour is more spectacular than the sights along this tour. There are a few cave features at the end of the 2 hour tour, but, if you have seen anything like Carlsbad Caverns, you will be disappointed here.

Time to move along, we relocated to Bardstown with a 4 day stay at the White Acre Campground. We started here with a little walkabout town, steeped in Civil War lore and architecture.

From this stop we were able to snag another round of Kentucky Bourbon Trail stops. Trying to hit up all 23 distilleries is certainly giving us some exposure to back roads and some beautiful scenery. Some of the horse farms we passed were spectacular, especially when your looking at a huge mansion, then realize it is just the horse barn! We should live as well as some of these horses…

After 4 days and a couple of very large thunder/lightening spectacles, we motored a bit north to the Louisville area. We found the Add-More Campground actually in Clarksville, Indiana for a short 2 day stop to finish up this area’s Bourbon Trail participants. Besides the distilleries here, Jeanne found an area of downtown called 4th Street Live! which we took a stroll through. It was daytime as we did, but it looked more to be a happening place for the nightlife. The area is similar to Fremont St. in Vegas, sans the freakazoids, with stage area for bands and all the food and liquor you could imagine. While there, we ventured over to Main St. and found the Louisville Slugger factory/store as well as the Louisville Slugger baseball field, home to AAA Cincinnati Reds team, the Louisville Bats.

There was also a foot bridge called the “Big Four Bridge” that crossed the Ohio River and gave good views of downtown. That bridge was a railroad bridge built in the 1880’s-1890’s and in 1929 they built a new bridge inside the old frame. 42 workers died while building the bridge, so now it is considered a monument to those who died.

Well, it’s moving time again. Headed east now, gotta finish the Bourbon Trails with the Lexington area stops. Lookout, Lexington, here we come!

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