Florida Keys

We met up with some friends of ours from the Winnebago Rally back in July in Forest City, IA  Kim and Denise.  They are from Wisconsin and in Fl. for the winter.

Together we caravanned down to visit the Florida Keys.

IMG_1339
Following behind Kim and Denise.

We stopped and camped at the Jolly Roger RV Park in Marathon. Marathon is about half way between Miami and Key West. It wound up to be an hours ride to Key West (A little to far for me…Ei).  Next time we’ll camp closer.  It was dark when we arrived at Jolly Roger RV Park and our sites were difficult to get into. It was the first time we ever arrived after dark and will be the last. Kim’s site was particularly tight and we moved to a different one so we could get in for the night and change or move on in the morning. The next morning Kim and I walked around and decided on new ones. These were on the water.

photo 3
Our site on the water.
IMG_1349
View from our living and dining room windows.

 

IMG_1344
View of the fishing pier from our bedroom window..
photo (2)
Sunset from our bedroom window. Somebody was sleeping so I didn’t raise the day shade.

We are members of RVillage.  RVillage is like Facebook, but  for RVer’s. One of my favorite features is you can log on and search for members that are around you, and you can search as far as 250 miles away.  As long as everybody checks in when they move you can see who is near you. My search showed there were quite a few members around us and two that we knew.  One couple was Sue and Guy Alexander from our RV Dreams 2014 graduating class.  I sent a message to both couples and we agreed to meet up.

Saturday the four of us had lunch at the Hogs Breath Saloon in  Key West. Food was great.  And, they allowed dogs!

 

hogs breath2After lunch we met Guy and Sue at Mallory Square to watch some of the boat races but they were just tuning up for the finals on Sunday.  We watched some of that then had a few drinks and went window shopping and people watching. This was a great day all around.

IMG_1357

Sunday we had breakfast at the Wreck & Galley Grill before meeting Guy and Sue again at Mallory’s Square.   This place was filled with character.  The owner is from England and a Liverpool fan. He wasn’t happy when I told him I was a Manchester United fan.  We had a good laugh over trash talking each others team.

IMG_1368

IMG_1367

IMG_1366
The ceiling and walls were plastered with dollar bills.

 

IMG_1365

 

Guy and Sue got to the races early and saved a spot for us on the wall at Mallory Square.  People were at least 3 deep.

IMG_1387
Kim, Denise, Guy and Sue.

IMG_1404

As you can tell from the above picture the weather turned nasty. It was cold and very windy. By the end of the day you really needed a jacket.

boat

In the following images it looks like I’m using a telephoto lens, but these boats were this close.

IMG_1441

IMG_1418

IMG_1407

IMG_1385

IMG_1384

IMG_1383

IMG_1382

IMG_1379

 

Geico boat.

Race 2 video

After the races we looked for someplace warm to have dinner. After dinner we went back to Guy and Sue’s for a tour of their new motor home and  a glass of wine. Next morning Guy and Sue left for St. Augustine and Kim and Denise went to visit friends in Naples.   We went on to visit my cousin Richard in Port Charlotte.  Richard lives in a veterans home, we met his friends and then went to dinner. Veterans Day was the following day and they were preparing for ceremony and breakfast being put on for them and other area vets.  We left four american flags no longer serviceable with Richard. He took them the next day to the American Legion for proper disposal.

It was a great trip and although Key West is very commercial (a tourist spot) we would definitely go back again.  That weekend there was a lot going on so I would pick a weekend with special events.  We didn’t get to the Naval Station and missed a photo op at the southern most tip of the US.  We also missed the parade that Guy and Sue saw the weekend before with everyone, and I mean everyone, body painted and a whole lot more!

The only regret was we didn’t get a chance to meet up with Bill Joyce and Diana Melde. I was looking forward to that. We just ran out of time.

3 days in Bah Habah (Bar Harbor) and Acadia, Maine

We camped at Narrows Too in Trenton, ME  just outside Bar Harbor. It’s part of the Thousand Trails/Encore group of campgrounds. There are three affiliated campgrounds and if you are camped in one you have access to all three. I believe the other two are on the island. The next morning we drove onto the island and went to Acadia National Park first. A couple of things you need to know. You have to stop at either the information center or the gate at the entrance to the one way road on the Park Loop Road and get a visitors pass to drive through the park. We’ve had the Seniors Pass for several years. It is a one time cost of $10 and is a lifetime pass. What a bargain!

DSCN9197

Getting Around.

There are many ways to see the park. We took the Park Loop road. It’s a scenic one way road that is part of the Park Loop, that goes along the ocean.

DSCN9246
You can’t see it in this image, but there is a working lighthouse in the distance.

 

DSCN9255

 

DSCN9259

DSCN9272

Thunder Hole

Unfortunately we arrive at Thunder Hole when the tide was still coming in. We saw a little splash, but not the thunder. More like splish splash I’m taking a bath!

DSCN9268
Trail to Thunder Hole

DSCN9275

DSCN9277
Thunder Hole

 

 

DSCN9278

DSCN9281

DSCN9270

DSCN9291

DSCN9289

 

If you start on the the two way road you can only go half way around because you run into the one way road. You can take the free bus (except for the pass) which stops all along the Loop. Or you can go on the Carriage Road and Bridges. The Carriage Road is only open to pedestrians or bicyclists. No motorized traffic.  Hey! I see it below…shout out to Rocky Mtn. Westy! – Eileen

DSCN9261

DSCN9266

DSCN9262

 Cadillac Mountain.

If you’re an early riser you can be the first to see the sunrise on the eastern coast from early March through early October from Cadillac Mountain. We only missed it by a few hours!

photo 5

DSCN9215
Eileen is top center

DSCN9218

DSCN9219

IMG_0961

 

IMG_0963

 

IMG_0959

 

Jordan Pond House

We had lunch at the Jordan Pond House. They are pet friendly so we took Max along. YOU NEED MAKE A RESERVATION or else you’ll have an hour wait, even still it’s worth it!-Eileen

DSCN9221

DSCN9229

Popovers, Jordan Pond
Food was great, especially the Popovers!
DSCN9225
View from the restaurant

Bar Harbor

We drove into Bar Harbor and got a parking space right away. That was luck!

Bar Island below is only accessible on foot or ATV at low tide. This view is from Bridge Street which is off the ocean side of West St. Parking is free in Bar Harbor for two to three hours at a time. They will come by and mark your tires and put a ticket on your windshield if you go over your time limit. A little known fact is there are no parking time limits on West St. I don’t know how little known that fact is, because we couldn’t find any open spaces. West St. is where you can get excursions to whale watch and harbor tours.

DSCN9245
High tide.
DSCN9233
Low tide.

DSCN9235

DSCN9237

DSCN9239
Looking back at Bar Harbor from Bar Island.

DSCN9243

 

we had dinner at Abel’s Lobster Pound. We were going to eat outside on the picnic tables, but as it was close to 6:30 pm and starting to get chilly we opted for a table with a view. As we were eating we could see diners putting jackets on to stay warm.  Abel’s is only open from July to Sept.  Bummer!

 

IMG_0983

IMG_0981
Where they cook the lobsters.

photo 1 (4)

photo 3 (4)

photo 4 (4)

photo 4 (2)

photo 2 (3)

photo 3 (3)

 

photo 5 (3)
A great way to end our dinner and trip!

From my daughter Robin who goes to Acadia at least twice a year.

 Places to Eat & Drink:

The Lompoc (awesome food, brew, music) – http://www.lompoccafe.com/ . We always get the “bang bang chicken” sandwich.

McKays (nice dinner) – http://www.mckayspublichouse.com/ . Scott usually gets the “seafood risotto.”

Jordan Pond House (popovers, located in the park, beautiful view, need reservations to sit outside otherwise it’s a very long wait of an hour or more) – http://acadiajordanpondhouse.com/ .

Geddy’s (casual) – http://www.geddys.com/ .

Café This Way (breakfast and dinner, great food) – http://www.cafethisway.com/ .

Rosalie’s (pizza) – http://www.rosaliespizza.com/ .

Thirsty Whale (casual, beer, burgers) – http://www.thirstywhaletavern.com/ .

Siam Orchid (Thai) – http://www.siamorchidrestaurant.net/ .

Two Cats Inn (breakfast) – http://www.2catsbarharbor.com/cafe.html .

Coffee Hound (best iced java) – http://www.barharborcoffeehound.com/ .

 

Things to Do:

Park Loop Road (lots of things to see and do right off of the Park Loop)

Thunder Hole

Sands Beach (no dogs allowed)

Trails and carriage paths: Eagle Lake, Jordan Pond, Witch Hole Pond, Bubble Rock

Cadillac Mountain Sunrise

Acadian Nature Cruise (harbor cruise out of Bar Harbor) – http://www.acadiannaturecruises.com/

Schoodic Point (another cool part of Acadia National Park that is located off of Mount Desert Island) in Winter Harbor, ME

Buses (run by LL Bean) will take you all over the place – http://www.exploreacadia.com/

 

 

 

Camping in New Hampshire

No trip to New Hampshire would be complete without a stop at the NH State Liquor Outlet.  (I would have bought more but no room in the RV.  I need a wine rack Gene)!

IMG_0956

IMG_0955
You know who I’m talking about here!

 

 

IMG_0952
Best spot in the campground. We were in the corner and shaded the whole week. Near a big field so we could play with Max.

Camped for several days with my cousins at Tuxbury Pond RV Resort. Nice place, a bit out of the way. It took us a few days to find our way around. Then we found Coconut crusted haddock at Shaws. That was delicious! Below is Diane our resident expert on s’mores making.

IMG_0951

 

There were two motor homes and a travel trailer. We were all camped together. We did more of this than anything else. EAT.

IMG_0948
OK, let’s see if I remember everybody from left to right-Diane, Susan, Patty, Eileen,Theresa, Melissa, Patrick Dave, Rosa and Mike.
IMG_0936
Home for ten days.
IMG_0940
This is Mike “my hero”. He is doing what I’ve been trying to do since we moved into the Vista full-time. Maybe one day when we slow down. Also got to get a couple of those chairs!

 

These next couple images are of 10 of us trying to play the card game 13. There are eleven rounds to this game and 22 wild cards (seemed like that many). It took us about an hour and a lot of aggravation and laughter to play a round.IMG_0943

 

IMG_0945

Dave didn’t get involved in the game of 13. He was watching TV instead. At least we think he was watching TV, because if we thought he was sleeping somebody (not mentioning any names here) was going to dump a bucket of cold water on him.

IMG_0947

My cousin Rich couldn’t make our family day at Tuxbury Pond RV Resort. He was being honored by students that he taught  Carpentry to at Lynn Vocational Tech. These are some of the many students and their families that showed up.

Richard

Next up is Bah Habah (Bar Harbor) ME and Acadia National Park.

photo 2 (3)

 

 

Annual Family Picnic

 

Bumpah stickah

We spent the past week visiting with family and friends and attending our family picnic. The family picnic has been going on the same weekend every year for about 70 years. Since the mid 50s it’s been at the same location. My uncle Bruce and aunt Theresa generously let us use their home equipped with a pool and a large front yard for games. They sold their house to my cousin Wayne and his wife Lisa and they continued the generous tradition. The day starts with coffee and donuts in the morning and is spent socializing, eating, swimming pool, eating, games, and ends around 7pm after corn on the cob and hot dogs and hamburgers.

 

IMG_0926

IMG_0925

IMG_0924

DSCN9196

DSCN9192

DSCN9195
Let us out! We want to play too!

 

pinic 4

picnic 1

 

photo 1

photo 2

photo 3

 

 

me & Eileen

picnic 2

picnic 3

 

 

 

Heading East

We left The Winnebago GNR Monday afternoon July 21st and headed east to Patterson, NY. We didn’t travel far that first night because we got such a late start. We got as far as Des Moines, IA and stayed at The Prairie Meadows Casino in Altoona.

IMG_0896-1

It was the only time Eileen and I ever went into a casino and just had dinner and left. We had no cash. The ATM charged 10% for the transaction plus a $3 service charge. If that wasn’t bad enough the ATM said if you don’t take your money fast enough the ATM will pull it back and you would have to contact the provider to get a refund! We said no thanks and left.

It took us a little over four days to drive the 1226 miles from Forest City, IA to Patterson NY. There we had dinner at Eileen’s brother Bill’s house.

IMG_0898
Guess who’s driving?  Scary huh!  Only drove for an hour.  Too much construction on the road.

IMG_0897


100_2663
Steak dinner with Bill, Eileen, Kelly, Eileen and Sara.

The following day we had them all over for a barbecue at our house. There were ten of us including two children. We had hamburgers, hot dogs, sausages with grilled onions and peppers and pasta salad with lots of desserts.

DSCN9072

DSCN9078
Max is waiting for his next command.

DSCN9076

 

Max made lots of friends that weekend and played fetch for hours!

Monday July 28th

We drove to Auburn MA and spent the night at an Elk’s Club parking lot with their permission of course.

Tuesday we drove to Northwood, NH to see Robin and Scott and our three grand dogs. We stayed at Saddleback campground.

IMG_0912-1

Wednesday we got in the car and went up to the White Mountains Forest. To see the Flume Gorge. The Flume is a natural gorge extending 800 feet at the base of Mount Liberty. It’s like walking through a crack in the earth.

DSCN9118

 

 

DSCN9108
Beginning of trail.

DSCN9112

DSCN9121

 

DSCN9123

DSCN9139

DSCN9136

DSCN9131

DSCN9126

DSCN9141

DSCN9151

DSCN9149

Who needs a stairmaster!  The climb took us about an hour and 15 min. to do.  Breathtaking views plus bear and wolf dens.

 

DSCN9160
Had a little extra time, so I carved this heart shaped trunk for Eileen.

DSCN9165

DSCN9173

DSCN9172

DSCN9170

DSCN9168

 

DSCN9176
Through out the walk you will find orange ribbons tied to a plant describing what the plant is.

DSCN9175

DSCN9177
Rain shelter (or hide to rest shelter).  It was pretty humid there.

DSCN9178

 

View of the White Mountains from the Kancamagus Scenic Byway.

.

DSCN9181

DSCN9179

Dinner with Robin at Susty’s on Thursday night.

Susty's
Dinner was good!

IMG_0915

Robin and Scott cooked us dinner last night and then we went out to Johnson”s for desert.

IMG_0922

 

 

Winnebago Grand National Rally (GNR)

IMG_0865 We just finished 10 days at the Winnebago GNR. We got here early, the actual rally started on the 16th and lasted only 5 days, but they had something scheduled everyday from the 7th of July on. The theme of the Rally was Out Of This World. It was the 45th anniversary of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon. It also coincided with the annual Puckerbrush Festival. Puckerbrush was the name of the city before it was changed to Forest City. Our house is the first one on the left. 100_2607   The blue on the corners of the bedroom slide out is cut from a swimming noodle. It’s there to protect me from bumping my head…again! We’re also happy we had our bikes this time, we rode them everywhere.   100_2609   Approximately 1100 motor homes were here. 100_2610   This is an aerial photo of the Winnebago grounds before the Rally started. The buildings at the top are the Winnebago factory. WIT GNR     We took a two hour tour (not a three hour tour) of the factory. It was great. We learned so much about the Winnebago manufacturing process. One process that stands out for me was The Water Jet Cutter, using water to cut many kinds of materials. It uses only three gallons of water a day. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were filled with seminars. There was something scheduled from 6:15 AM  until 6 PM. Starting with exercising at dawn! (needless to say I didn’t make the 6:15 class…E) They also had team and individual competitions. This competition is who can back up through a course-blind folded the fastest.  The driver is blind folded and their wife gives them instructions on how to back up through the course. No knocking down cones or people. IMG_0889   The husband and wife team that won took only 39 seconds.  (needless to say we’re not quite there yet either…E) IMG_0890 Saturday was the Puckerbrush Parade. 100_2620 They served a bar-b-que chicken dinner after the parade. It was strange that I could walk down the streets of Forest City, IA and wave to people that I knew. 100_2621   The paraders would throw candy for the kids. Later there was a 3M float that was throwing 3M sponges. The adults were scrambling for those.   100_2622   No parade would be complete without the Shriners. 100_2640

 

There were three girls the two on the right and one more. They were grabbing as much candy as they could and passing it back to a fourth girl who was bagging it for everybody!

 

100_2638   In keeping with the Out Of This World theme. 100_2636   Breast Cancer travel trailer. 100_2634 Motor homes were parked many different ways. We were parked in the 50 amp area. Cost a little more, but we had 50 amps and could run anything in the motor home without blowing a circuit breaker. Others were parked in state rows. Containing rigs from just their state. One afternoon was dedicated to row parties. Each state was giving out food and drink (spirits)! A lot of drinks.  Who knew, these old-timers know how to party! IMG_0877 IMG_0876 IMG_0875 IMG_0873 IMG_0878     IMG_0879 IMG_0880 IMG_0881 That was supposed to be lemonade and turned out to be almost straight  Jack Daniels.  Oh well, I finished it anyway.   IMG_0874 IMG_0882   IMG_0884   We also had entertainment every day and night.  These are two school teachers comedy act from Minnasooota!   100_2618 The last night was Jefferson Starship, minus Grace Slick.  She thought she was too old to tour anymore!  She might be right, but it was a fun night. 100_2644 100_2645 We also made some new friends. IMG_0887-1 Now we’re on the road for the second day heading east to Eileen’s brother and family in NY. After that we’ll be on our way to the Federico Family Picnic!

We’ve been busy!

Thursday July 3rd We said our good byes to Mark and headed south on I-25 to Camping world for some work on our house. We took the FIT and drove back out to Estes Park to Snowy Peaks Winery . Spent a couple of hours enjoying Estes Park again while our house was being fixed. When we returned to Camping World it was too late to start our trip to Forest City, IA, so Camping World let us spend the night at their facility. They had water and electric, but only 30 amps. We prefer 50 amps because it allows us to run everything at one time. With 30 amps we have to watch what we run. Like we can only run one A/C instead of running both. We’ve gone with 30 amps enough times that it’s not a problem. Actually we have a Power Control System (PCS) that monitors our ampere usage and will shut down appliances before tripping circuit breakers. When on 30 amps or less it will show us how many amps we’re using so we can decide what to run or not run.

IMG_0866

 

Friday July 4th

 

Flag

 

We drove to Fort Laramie, WY and spent the night at a tiny mom & pop campground. After setting up we drove over to Ft. Laramie National Historic site. Didn’t realize they had an all day celebration of which we missed most of. Ft. Laramie is part of The National Parks system.

100_2572

 

100_2574

 

100_2575

 

 

100_2577
This building is called “Old Bedlam.” It was built in 1849 and is the oldest standing building in Wyoming. It was nicknamed “Old Bedlam” because of the boisterous sounds heard while occupied by bachelor officers.

 

100_2579
This is an inside view of one of the rooms.

 

 

 

100_2583
The is the General Store. It was the most popular place on the post. Up to 1,000 people would pass through on a daily basis. Not just soldiers, but trappers, frontiersmen, Native Americans and travelers. soldier’s bar-room.

 

100_2589
Soldier’s Bar-room

100_2592

100_2593
A trader camped at the post.

 

100_2595
Enlisted men’s barracks.

 

100_2600
Church.

 

100_2602
New recruits.

The town of Ft. Laramie has a population of 200 something, but they put on one of the best fireworks display we’ve ever seen. It seemed to go on forever. Three times we thought it was the finale, but they just kept shooting up more fireworks. Saturday July 5th Today was a travel day. We drove to Heartland RV Park in Hermosa, South Dakota. This was the view out our front window. There were about six horses that would greet you in the morning or anytime of the day if they were out. Unfortunately I missed getting a picture of them playing.

DSCN9052

Sunday July 6th We went to the Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorials. This is the view as you walk into the Mount Rushmore Memorial.

DSCN8978

 

DSCN8976

 

DSCN8946
Everybody taking pictures.

 

 

 

DSCN8949

 

DSCN8954
This is the view from the top of the amphitheater.

DSCN8948

 

DSCN8953
Amphitheater.

 

DSCN8956

There is a trail that will get you to the base of Mt. Rushmore.

DSCN8952

 

DSCN8962
We took this side trail to the base.

 

DSCN8963

Views from the base.

DSCN8967

 

DSCN8957

 

DSCN8958
The Father of our country.

 

DSCN8969

Next was the Crazy Horse Memorial. In 1939 Korczak Ziolkowski was working on the Mount Rushmore project. He also won first prize for a sculpture at the 1939 World’s Fair. Due to his notoriety Chief Standing Bear asked him to create a similar monument for the North American Indians. Korczak worked on the project until his death in 1972 at age 74. He and his wife had 10 children. Six of whom still work on the project. It is funded entirely by private funds. Several times they have turned down offers of government funding. View from the parking lot.

DSCN8979

 

DSCN8984

 

DSCN8982
You can see the horses head outlined.

 

DSCN8983

 

Crazy Horse
I didn’t take this picture. Got it from another Full Timer that work-kamps at Crazy Horse.
DSCN8990
This is the mountain with an outline of the finished product.

There was lots to see and do at the memorial.

 

DSCN8995

 

DSCN8994

 

DSCN8987
This shows the scale sculpture in the foreground and the project in the background.

DSCN8989

 

Monday July 7th. In the morning we went to Sturgis South Dakota. If you’re a biker you’ve probably heard about Sturgis. There is a rally there every year in August and the town is over flowing with motorcycles of every kind. We were there a month ahead of time so very few bikes.

DSCN9013

 

DSCN9009

 

 

DSCN9011
We had lunch here.

DSCN9010 DSCN9005

 

DSCN9014
Downtown Sturgis now.

 

sturgis
This is what it will look like in August.

The famous Buffalo Chip.

DSCN8998

 

DSCN9000

 

DSCN9001

In the afternoon we went to Deadwood South Dakota. Deadwood is famous for gold being discovered in 1874 by General George Custer, and Wild Bill Hickok was killed by Jack McCall. Hickok never liked to sit with his back to the door, but this day the only seat available was with it’s back facing the door. He sat to play and Jack McCall walked in and shot him in the back of the head. He was holding “Aces and Eights” now known in poker as a “Dead Man’s Hand.” The town was also made into an HBO series Deadwood.

DSCN9039

 

DSCN9037

 

DSCN9033

Staged gunfight.

DSCN9024

DSCN9028

DSCN9029

DSCN9030

DSCN9031

 

 

DSCN9051
Cemetery where Wild Bill Hickok and Calimity Jane are buried.

DSCN9043

 

DSCN9045

 

DSCN9046

 

 

 

 

 

DSCN9048
People have left coins and mementos at the foot of his grave..

DSCN9042

 

 

DSCN9047
Calamity Jane’s grave.

Thursday July 10th We finally made it to the 2014 Winnebago Grand National Rally in Forest City, Iowa. We will be camped here for 11 days and then start the trip east to the Family Picnic.

IMG_0865

 

 

IMG_0867-1
Winnebago is expecting 1400 rigs to attend this years rally.