8 October 2016 -Salisbury, VT; Bennington, NY; Saratoga Springs, NY; Fort Ann, NY; Old Forge, NY; Clayton, NY; Williamson, NY; Waterloo, NY; Cape Vincent, NY; Morrisburg, Ontario; Seneca and Cayuga Lakes, NY; Corning, NY; Pittsburg, PA; Harrisburg, PA; Asheville, NC; Summerville, SC

      
      Doubt you're perched on the edges of your chairs waiting for another blog update (Bill teases me about that) but it's almost impossible to play all day and feel inspired to write in the evenings.  Better nate than lever!

     We left charming NH and its White Mountains, for Vermont’s Green Mountains. NH is, without question, spectacular, and we hope for a return trip one of these days to visit the areas we missed.
Being in this vicinity is like stepping back in time. Rarely do we see a chain hotel--most are little mom and pop motels and cabins which takes me back to the 40's and 50's when we'd go on 2 week family vacations.

     Another unusual thing is that houses connect to the garage which connects to the barn. The farmers must've been slaving all summer because we see mammoth piles of stacked firewood which makes my back hurt just to look at it. There are also bales and bales of shrink wrapped hay ready for the winter. A bunch of hard working folks up here.

     In ME and NH, yellow Day Lilies are prolific as is Golden Rod. The medians and right-of-ways are not mown during the summer so even the interstates abound with the wild sunny yellow colors. We're beginning to see yellows and reds in the hardwood trees. I've never seen fall colors other than in the Smokies so this will be a tremendous treat.

     Eager to explore a sniglet of Vermont.  Arriving in Waterbury, we went on a tour at the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream factory. The tale of 2 hippies in the ’70’s and their start of this tremendous enterprise is very interesting. Then we were offered samples of which each of us had 2. “To show our appreciation”, we bought a large waffle cone each which held 3 big scoops EACH and we ate every drop.





     Then to the Chocolatiers shop…and to Cabot Cheese. The had at least 20-25 samples of different ‘flavors’, syrup, honey, chips, crackers, spreads…needless to say, not a good day for our waist line. Cold Hollow Cider Mill was next and their story of cider making was intriguing. Nothing’s wasted—cows get some of the residue and dog cookies are made from hand-me-downs from the cows. No sugar or any preservatives in the cider and it was a thirst quencher and chaser from the previously consumed dairy products. Somehow some apple cider donuts followed us home. Certainly not my doings. I’m innocent for a change. Bill remembered a Canadian relative making them for him when he was a little boy. To wind up our day, we went to the Keurig/Green Mountain Coffee Factory and appreciated a much needed caffeine boost before heading home.



     As badly as we wanted to see a moose, we didn’t want to encounter one at night on the highway since they’re big black things whose eyes don’t shine at night. We began our drive at dusk and it was very dark when we got home—safely. Both of us had our eyes peeled and were on high alert for something big and black that would prevent a safe arrival home.


     We were pretty much off the grid on Lake Dunmore, VT, although not by choice. Our understanding was that this RV Park/Resort (with 3 swimming pools) had wifi. Methinks that might be a tad trumped-up (no pun intended). We had to walk ½ mile to office to use theirs. Also, no phone service so felt isolated from the world and other than in north NC, that’s the first time Verizon’s ever let us down.
Adirondack Park, Ticonderoga, NY

Another perfect day and the landscape, magnificent.













     We took a day trip to Waterbury and Montpelier, VT, with an itinerary of things to do and see before returning to our rolling home on Lake Dunmore, VT.

    


    
     Shortly after beginning our drive, we came upon a REAL farm stand and left with corn and tomatoes, both picked this morning (he said). Wonderful veggies.


    Onward…and saw a sign for Warren Cascade Falls, Green Mountain National Forest. We came to a screeching halt and walked down to the falls. The cascades dump into a deep and very cold (62 degrees) swimming hole. The water is clearer than gin. Look closely and you can, quite distinctly, see the entire bodies of those brave souls beneath the water. One guy was shivering but all the others were enjoying their ‘dip’ as if it were 10 degrees warmer. Amazingly beautiful. Could’ve stood there staring into those waters all day long.



     

     Last year's trip out west felt like a marathon on steroids so this year we are 'smelling the roses'. We're in a lovely state park right on the St. Lawrence River for 10 days, taking little side trips, toasting our toes by the camp fire, watching the freighters underway, and just enjoying each others company and the tranquility of nature. We're retired. No schedule so what's the hurry? Soon, we're going to Williamson/Rochester to spend a week visiting family...then more meandering.

Blue Mountain Lake, Adirondack Park

     

                                 

           Love old barns and caught this one on the fly in Hampton,NY.


     We hiked a Green Mountain Forest Trail--6 miles (total) UP HILL (no kidding!) but coming down was a great reward.

A sight in Saratoga Springs State Park and Spa

    There have been opportunities here in New England for zip lining but just can't imagine that it would top the one we did a year ago today in Denver. Remembering the thrill and exhilaration of this adrenaline rush still makes me grin! Our first zip lining on Colorado's fastest and longest lines.


     My brother Bob in his restored 1953 Porsche Speedster with his 2 Boxers. Chick magnet--dogs and/or car….



     Tupper Lake, Saranac Lake, and Lake Placid made for a delightful day. There’s a story about Dew Drop Inn. Years ago we were walking in a small town and a young couple, a grandma, and 2 small children were standing outside a budget motel. Wife was giving husband hell—“I didn’t drive all this way up here to stay in a “Do Drop Inn”—so had to capture this sign — in honor—or memory—-of them.
Adirondack Park, Saranac Lake,NY

Lake Placid Adirondack Park,NY

See the lane lines??!!!






      Clayton, NY, is home of Antique Boat Museum, a magnificent collection of old wooden boats in class A condition. The water is crystal clear. While Bill is at an (another) old car show, my intentions are to get in a good swim (unsupervised). Hope I live to tell about it. We’re in a spectacular state park right on the St. Lawrence River. Lots of perfectly groomed lawns and miles of cycling/walking paved paths.
     In Ft. Ann, NY, we stayed in the most expensive RV park ever -- over Labor Day Weekend which is the penalty for not making reservations waaaay in advance.  That's too akin to a schedule and we left that behind when we retired.  This is Moose Hillock RV Resort but we couldn't even get phone service from our site. 



This pig travels in their RV and is out for a little stroll.  So now I've seen a woman walk a goat and now a pig.

     The pool is huge but only 3 ½ feet deep so what do you do in that. Drink beer and marinate?




    We saw the only official sanctioned Abba Tribute Group in this Opera House, Clayton, NY. 


    
                                                Clayton, NY, Harbor

                                 
                                                Boldt Castle from afar

     Clayton has just built a huge, modern hotel made of wood and stone. Quite spectacular and like nothing we've seen for months.  There's a plethora of little mom and pop motels--shades of the '40's and '50's--still successfully operating EVERYWHERE---those and scattered Bed and Breakfasts. Only rarely have we been able to shop in a REAL grocery store. We usually replace our larder from a little local mom and pop market. We've become quite fond of Hannaford's--much like our beloved Publix.

    Cedar Point State Park is a well kept and beautiful NY State Park that we called home for 8 days. It took lots of false starts but I finally got in the St. Lawrence River deep enough to swim. Man, that’s cold water. Bet it’s in the 60’s.
Beautiful St. Lawrence River, NY


     I asked a credible source what the temp of the river is and to my great surprise, it’s 72 degrees. That’s what Austin's Barton Springs is year round. It's refreshing, to say the least. If I could've jumped from a dock or something, a sudden entry would've been easier than going in inch by inch. I made all manner of noises. Bill pretended not to know me and I don't blame him. After I finally got submerged and started producing some heat, it wasn't bad. What WAS bad was the slimy grass that made me cringe when my feet touched it. Couldn't get deep enough to get out of its way.


     Our next adventure was to Cape Vincent, NY, to visit Tibbet’s Point Light, out of commission since 1981. We took the long way through the country and farms that were lovely. The water is, again, crystal clear. On our route back home, we followed the river and and admired countless charming homes. Loved the tired sail boat teeming with blazing red Impatiens. We’re back home now sitting outside listening to our feathered friends and enjoying the sight of a beautifully manicured NY State Park. This is a rural but exquisitely beautiful state.

                                               Tibbets Point Light House


         A Kodak moment as we were driving home from Tibbets Point


Our pastoral campground in a NY State Park on the gin-clear St. 
                                               Lawrence River

     Our next excursion was to Morrisburg, Ontario, to visit the Upper Canada Village. Bill went there in ’61 right after it opened and was eager to see it again. The docent was excellent. She’s been working there since she was a teenager and is probably in her 40’s—the only job she’s ever had—and she was more than superb! We had a great day and so much fun.

Upper Canada Bird Sanctuary, South Dudas, ON

Upper Canadian Village Hotel and our guide

One of the buildings on the village property


     Our last night in Cedar Point State Park, NY, and our last camp fire for several weeks. Love the fragrance Eau de Wood Smoke. We’ve loved it here and just returned from an up close and personal visit to the river for the last time. This morning, Bill was in Clayton, NY, and walked along the river there. Every morning on my walk, I wore a glove and carried a bag to pick up trash. The number of butts really surprised me. That filter’s not ever going anywhere. When the filter leaves its paper covering, it shreds and catches on grass blades. Don’t understand smoking but surely don’t understand tossing them.




     Rain came in torrents just after we came inside from our waning campfire, dressed in shorts and tees. A beautiful lullaby for sleeping. BUT, while we slumbered, Old Man Winter arrived with a vengeance. The wind's howling, the river is white-capping, and it's as cold as a well-digger's shovel. Jeans, long sleeve tee, sweater on top of that and still not toasty.

      Last year's trip out west felt like a marathon on steroids so this year we are 'smelling the roses'. We're in this lovely state park right on the St. Lawrence for 10 days taking little side trips, toasting our toes by the camp fire, watching the freighters underway, and just enjoying each others company and the tranquility of nature. We're retired. No schedule so what's the hurry?

    En route via the scenic way to Williamson/Rochester has me so excited at the prospect of being in civilization again. Tomorrow picking up at CVS (haven't been near one of those in forever), have appointments set up for brows, toes, and 1st haircut in 4 months. I love all the places we've been but it is so rural and isolated. Believe that when folks think of NY, they think of the city. That's just one itsy bitsy, teenie weenie part of NY. The rest is farm land with chickens, cows, goats, sheep, and veggie farms with numerous roadside farm stands. Webster has Wegmans which is even better than Publix---hard to fathom, I know. Beautiful, beautiful country with rolling pastures and farmland. I believe folks have more acres of beautifully manicured grass up here than does Northern Virginia. If you're looking for a place for high-living in a snazzy hotel and a place where you can shop till you drop, the northern part of NY State is NOT what you're looking for. If you want to be where nature reigns supreme, then this is your spot. Lovin' our lives!




    

                                  A sight at Rochester, NY's, waterfront


New marina in Port of Rochester
    
     We’re leaving Williamson and Bill’s huge family en route to Waterloo. Love each one of his family. We are connecting with some boating friends, Sue and Rich, who are great adventurers. Looking forward to some long over-due catching up. We'll all head in opposite directions in a few days but have the entire weekend to play together.

     Regretfully, no photos to share but we took a couple short hikes with Boating/RV/NY/FL friends who've done extensive cycling, hiking, kayaking, and "water-falling" in NY. We're neighbors in Waterloo RV Park on the Seneca and Cayuga Lakes. T'was fun to hike with somebody who'd been there before and more than once. They've written books on each of those activities so felt like we were with "professionals". We walked the little hamlet of Seneca Falls (where there are no falls) and had lunch at Downtown Deli. We've connected with quite a few boating friends on this season's excursion. Notice I didn't include RV friends of whom we have none. An entirely different group of folks.























           Sue and Rich posing by a sculpture of centrifugal pump bodies with 
                                    Gould Pumps sign just across the river.

     Along the shores of Seneca Lake today, we had another delightful hike with Sue and Rich. Leaves are turning vibrant yellows,oranges, and reds and the grounds of Seneca Lake State Park are a deep verdant green. Both of us are heading in different directions in the morning so our “going away dinner” was beer and pizza, a healthy salad, and an Italian chicken dish. Before dark, we were mellowed out and ready to say, “sweet dreams” and head for our toasty rolling homes.




     
     From Waterloo, NY, to Corning, NY! Believe it or not, we’ve reconnected with boating/RV buds, Carl and Debbie, who are in the site just next to us. Today we went to the Rockwell Museum but NOT Norman and strolled the downtown streets. Another quaint little village. Tomorrow we’ve reserved for the Corning Museum and very much looking forward.



     Corning Glass Museum was our focus for an entire day where we saw live demos and an hour tour (glimpse) of the museum's 18,000 SF.


     
    Very fascinating but despite all the docent explanations, we walked away with questions. We did get an overview of many things which possibly, may be all they can provide. 





Looks like Chihuly to me but didn't see a sign attributing credit to him.

     Corning Glass is, of course, the leader in the field of glass — therefore they are always looking over their shoulders for competitors who may be inching forward. This was a full day well spent. We ended the day sharing dinner with tiny little Debbie and Carl. In the morning we’re both headed in opposite directions in search of more adventures.
Just a few of the many things that I loved there.





An interesting building downtown Corning
     This has nothing to do with our travels but I feel the motherly need to brag. The other night while talking to our Dallas son, Matt, he just nonchalantly stated a fact without any fanfare---he got a promotion 3 weeks ago which is 2 levels above his previous position. He was so modest and self effacing as it kinda unintentionally slipped out of his mouth. I was ecstatic, rejoicing in my outdoor voice. He's been with the same company for 19 years and has seen heads roll so I am so proud of him. Being with the same company for that long is also a rare accomplishment now days.


     Time to move on to another state. Now in Pittsburg and the home of Pittsburg Glass.  These buildings of their headquarters are magnificent works of art. Of course, photos don't portray them as the eye beholds them.





     We needed a late morning snack that's carb loaded at Einstein Bagels downtown Pittsburg before one of the lengthy Bender Walking Tours. If you've never followed Bill Bender around a city and anticipate such a treat, it would behoove you to tie on some roller blades.  Such a fascinating city with a melange of types of architecture.




      Just a stunning steeple that caught my eye, silhouetted against a snow white building framed by a brilliant blue sky.

     Now to visit Harrisburg, PA, our temp home while Bill and his best buddy spend all day for 3 days at a variety of car shows and a railroad museum. Best train museum he’s ever seen, said Dave. Every night we’ve had a camp fire. I haven’t set foot off these premises except for my walks. In these northern parts, the locals say when Labor Day comes and goes, that “summer’s over”. I’ve heard that far too many time. We’re still in shorts and tees???!!! Harrisburg East Campground has a heated pool for year-round swimming. First afternoon we were here, I struck off for the pool. Gate’s locked ALTHOUGH when we checked in, we were told that the pool’s open till 6 PM. I’ve been “home alone” for 3 days now and intended to swim to my heart’s content every day. Yesterday—lock’s on gate so I marched in the office to ask that it be opened for me. The clerk asked, “do you just want to sit out there?” I said, “No! I just want to swim out there.” Long maddening story short, the propane man didn’t leave propane on his last visit and “anyway, we’re going to close it on the 19th.” I gently reminded them that that’s almost 2 weeks away. I checked the temp and the water was 60 degrees and I’m just not that hardy. So not sure what year-round heated pool means. Changed clothes and enjoyed a walk instead. These guys, Bill and Dave, have had a blast but tomorrow we’ll sadly part ways. 


Cover the dad gum thing UP if you're just going to tempt me and bar me from those cajoling aqua waters.  Oh, I forgot.  "Summer's over!"

     Friends have asked if our boat, on the hard in St. Mary’s, GA, boat yard, survived Matthew. Didn’t know if she’d been blown off her jack stands or floated away but the owner reported that she’s intact and all is well. A HUGE relief! Thanks for your interest in her.




     Mountaintop Campground, Fawn, PA, was our next stop. This place is certainly aptly named. Felt as if we were on Heaven's door step.




    Straight up via a road as snaky as Lombard St.  How the wind doth howl! 


     Onward and forward to North Carolina.  We spent a few days in Asheville and oh how beautiful were the mountains and the palette of nature’s fall colors as we drove through TN and NC. Had forgotten how much I love this area and have missed it. Despite the Canadian and US mountains that we’ve visited, these mountains are my most fave!  Of course we gravitated to the museums and galleries, ending the day with an evening at Grove Park Inn.


                                            Grove Park Inn's Grand Fireplace

    We spent some time playing around downtown Asheville and enjoying museums and galleries but we felt overdue a hike. For years, we'd heard about the North Carolina Arboretum and when we lived nearby, we never visited it until now. This was the location of our hike with so many serendipities thrown in. These acres are beautifully landscaped, a vision of the Father of American Landscape Architecture, Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed a research arboretum as part of his legacy for the land donated by George Vanderbilt and part of Pisgah National Forest. This setting is surely one of the most beautiful natural settings in America.  This was of particular interest to me since our youngest son, Andy, is a Landscape Architect in Austin. He said he's quite familiar with FLO.

     My phone decided not to perform as a camera during our visit there so I have no images of the beauty we beheld. Their website shows much of the magnificence we savored today and I highly recommend checking that out.

     A friend needed a bit of loving support so we changed our IN and TN intentions in our itinerary to be available for whatever was needed. Following Asheville, we spent 13 days making ourselves at hand. When the MD says it's OK to return to work, then we'll be on our way.  During our stay, a morning hike through the woods was solace for my spirit. The only sound was the crunching of leaves beneath my feet. Not even a single bird’s song. Such excellent therapy for the soul.


     We're in Summerville, SC, for this week where this blog will come to an end. Cutting our trip short left us with about 2 weeks of nothing to do before needing to be in Mt. Pleasant, SC, for commitments there. Being vagabonds/gypsies/sea urchins/ or whatever we are, we really miss "community" but that's a trade off for our life style. It seems we are living "just unto ourselves" so this "loose ends" time translated into a volunteer occasion to help others. We contacted our church, Seacoast, Long Point Rd., Mount Pleasant, asking for opportunities to reach out to others through our church. Seacoast has a satellite church in Summerville so we're "camping" in the church's parking lot and are working on the longest house I've ever seen, being transformed from something pitiful into a wonderful home for abused women. Almost need a mass transit system to get from one end of it to the other. New hardwood floors, roof, wiring, plumbing, etc., and we're excited about being a part of this work of giving back when, for us, those chances are slim to none. Whatever needs doing, we're here to do it. Most of this is new to me but I'm willing to try anything at least once. Bill has lots of that kind of experience and is very capable with DIY projects. He actually took the bull by the horns after seeing the inside and realizing this job calls for a project manager. He has great experience in that area and also a bar-none stupendous organizer.  In a heart beat he made a spread sheet which'll make it easier for those who come to work. They'll have an assignment and a purpose while they're giving of their time. Stay tuned. I may be able to hang out a 'construction worker' shingle by next weekend.

Bill and Laura Bender

Seacoast Church Parking Lot
Summerville, SC
31 October 2016



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