Taking a canyon ride on the Verde Valley Railroad was on our bucket list for some time. We were told to do this in the fall so we could see the colors, and even though it wasn't as colorful as the east U.S., it was still pretty awesome. We enjoyed a first class ride with appetizers and lunch with a swig of champaign. It was also warm enough to head out to the uncovered car to get a close-up view of the canyons.
We didn't expect much when heading through Missouri, but when Bonnie contacted us to see if we'd stop by to see them, WOW did plans change! We had a wonderful visit with Mark's cousin and her family, and even had a chance to bring the telescope and show Science toys to the kids (and their dad!).
We decided to wait on the St. Louis Zoo and other area attractions because our resort was over an hour away from the city. Next time we come through, we'll get a closer location and meet up with Bonnie to do more things.
Stay Details: Lost Valley Lake Resort; Owensville, MO
Notes: What an amazing resort this was! With a LOT of amenities for the kids, this place had just about everything you want to do on a vacation, including indoor basketball, tennis and pickle ball courts AND its own movie theater! We did enjoy picking a movie (Aqua Man), bringing our own popcorn and drinks, and sitting down to our own movie theater experience.
There is a variety of sites; everything from tents, rental RVs, then to full hookups. This place is about 45 minutes off I-44 through the steep hills, so be prepared with groceries BEFORE you go. Otherwise, be prepared to have fun and take advantage of their many amenities.
Stopped over to see Katie & the family before heading west. This was the 2nd camping trip we've had with them this year and we always have a blast (like we do with the other kids).. This time, the weather was beautiful except for some tiny bit of rain in the morning, and everyone had a great time. In the morning we went to the zoo, and Sunday Mark went to see the kids sing in church, then helped Tony with the car in the afternoon. I stayed back with a sick me and sick Pica, but felt better the next morning.
Stay details: Charlestown State Park; Charlestown, IN - Site 141
Notes: We choose this campground close to Katie because it has large sites where we have plenty of room to put multiple tents. The sites are electric only and have no sewer or water at the sites. There are water spigots around the campgrounds, and the shower houses are clean and well taken care of. The playground is in the main loop and has a climbing gym and swings.
I must say, Rhode Island is one of the prettiest states we've been to! Besides the mountains, plentiful trees, and rocky cliffs, everyone we've experienced in this state was very nice and all the drivers seem to be respectful to others.
We took a day trip to Newport while here, and found several gems:
Watch Hill Beach: Mark surprised me with a nice beach walk after we arrived at the campground. We were hoping to find the remaining fort and lighthouse at the end of the peninsula, but it was too rock and the sun was setting, so we were more than happy with beautiful sunset photos instead.
Fort Adams: Started as an Army post by President Adams in 1799, this is one of the largest standing forts in the U.S.. We bought the audio tour, and explored the fort with Pica, which was an added bonus. This fort was active in 4 different wars.
Ocean Drive and Cliff Walk: There are a few very beautiful trails you can take around the Newport Island to explore the beautiful homes. After lunch at Chili's, we took both. We enjoyed the walk better though, and you could see the pretty side of all the large homes/buildings.
Stay Details: Burlingame State Park; Charlestown RI - Site 341
This was a beautiful and very large campground that did not offer any amenities. All dry camping, it has two dump stations and all sites are nestled within the woods.
A bonus of stopping here, was there was a lady stranded in the site next to us. Her car wouldn't start, and she'd lost her keys. The ranger never came back after saying they'd help, so Mark began charging her battery. By the time her husband came with the backup key, the battery was full and the car started. The hour we were there, we talked to her, calmed her down and made her realize that the camping community are mostly friendly people.
Ultimately, the rangers never came, nor did they clean up the surrounding area. So, we did that too.
We were lucky enough to be there after school started, so there was nobody around us. We felt we had the entire woods to ourselves, which was very nice.
Ruth & Darrell invited us to the fair before we left. It was large, beautifully set up, and had a lot of wonderful events. Here are some highlights from the fair:
Once the rain moved out, we took off on another excursion to the south area of main. Our highlights are as follows:
Kennebunkport - The Trolly Museum
Many of the trollies have been restored to new condition, including the one they now use as the tour trolly for visitors. They even had a double-decker trolly from Scotland!
Kennebunkport - St. Ann's Episcopal Chapel
This is where President Bush and his family attends church when they are at their estate.
Kennebunkport - President Bush Estate
President Bush and his family still live at this estate, and are well protected by secret service.
Kennebunkport - Beautiful Homes
We did not stop to walk the town for shopping, but instead drove around looking at some really awesome homes! I have the prettiest one shown below.
Ogunquit - Marginal Way
There is a paved path between the beautiful homes and the sea. A must-do for anyone traveling to the area.
Scarborough - Len Libby Candies
Home of the life-size chocolate moose made from 1700 lbs of milk chocolate!! The pond was made from milk chocolate that was dyed blue. It took 4 weeks to carve, and it was revealed on July 1st, 1997. They have excellent chocolate too!
After a day of hiking and checking things out, Pica had enough! The problem was, being in a strange place really stressed her, so she took comfort in being in our bed for this night.
Well, every once in a while there has to be a change in plans. We've been tracking Hurricane Ida, and the recent turn has put us right in it's cone path. SO, we decided we did not want to set up a tent with 3-4" of rain, nor did we want wet bedding or chance ruining our borrowed gear.
So, we reserved a hotel room and put our tent equipment away. It was a feeling of defeat and sadness, but it was also nice to know we wouldn't have to deal with wet equipment.
We took advantage of some extra time, and visited Portland in the evening. Our highlights include:
L.L.Bean ~ With the famous boot that everyone gets a selfie in front of.. We found a duck boot car too! The store was pretty cool too, and I really loved that they allow dogs!
The Holy Donut ~ Locals told us we MUST go to the potato donut shop and get the best donuts around! So we did.. We ordered 6 different flavors, and ended up throwing half of them out. Not the best in our opinion.
Downtown Portland & the Berlin Wall ~ I love that different cities have remnants of the Berlin Wall. Please don't ever forget this incident.. :-( Downtown Portland was just an average city to us. Busy, crowded, cramped, and it was nice to get out.
Fort Williams ~ Nestled next to the Portland Lighthouse, Fort Williams has abandoned forts you can explore and placards give you information about the era.
Portland Lighthouse ~ This was a gorgeous lighthouse that sat upon the rocks. The water was calm during our visit, I would love to see this place when the waves crash against the rocks! This entire area was a nice sea-side walk from one to the other; a definitely recommendation from us.
Stay Details: Best Western, Freemont ME
Nice hotel, beautiful room and comparable prices. They had a pool, but it was too cold to use. They had a decent breakfast in the morning, and they provided Wifi and DirecTV for all their customers.
Up near the top of the U.S., we took the higher route to Maine so we didn't have to go straight through the mountains. This allowed us more time to see things we've never seen before.
Robert Moses State Park was full of beauty. From the beach, the marina, and the locks.. Nice biking trails allowed us to get to all the places around the island, but most of all, it was really cool to see the locks so close.
The videos below, two of a time-lapse of a ship going through the locks. The other was what we think was a drunk skunk (on mushrooms maybe?) going through our campsite.
Stay Details: Robert Moses State Park; Maseena NY - Site 241
Notes: Nice campground near a beach and most sites have lake access, but it's a small walk away from the campsites. The dum station is in the other campground loop. The bath houses were nice and upgraded, and each of the sites have decent room. The island has great bike riding areas, and nice access to 2 dams and power centers.
If we were to stay in the area again, we would recommend the Long Sault Loop on sites 187-192, which are water front sites with views of the ships going through the locks.
We were planning on visiting the area when we were here 2 nights, but this resort was SO awesome that we decided to enjoy its amenities instead.
If you are ever in this area, we would highly suggest signing up for a week free stay at this resort. It's a membership only resort, and we stayed here as Coast to Coast members for free. Bring your family, and be prepared to be busy with fun!
Allegany Mountain Resort - East Otto, NY
Note: This 743 site resort packs quite a punch when it comes to amenities they offer. Once at the resort, all their activities are FREE to guests, which include canoes, kayaks, paddle boats, shuffleboard, basketball, putt putt, volleyball, 3 swimming pools (1 indoor), fishing ponds, and more! They have 2 laundry/shower houses that are very well kept, a nice store, a restaurant grill and regularly scheduled activities.
The resort is home to several permanent residents, and the area is very well kept and have beautiful views. The RV sites themselves are pretty small compared to the average state park, and because the resort is built in the mountains, plan on having to bring enough blocks to level your rig. The average size RV here was about 30', and we luckily were able to squeeze into a beautiful side site that had a great overlook view of the campers below and part of the lake. We were also serenaded with the great band they had on Friday.
I must admit, before we arrived at this resort, I concluded that I would never come to this location again. I made that judgement based on the local roads and the location farther from main towns. However, that judgement was premature, and I believe I would make the drive and brave the roads to stay here again. This time it would be longer than just 2 days. :-)
This holiday has always been very special for us, mostly because it means time with the kids and grandkids. This year we reserved 3 weeks around this holiday and landed a beautiful corner site that allowed us to have that quieter privacy we enjoy, yet be close to the exit.
During out stay, we were Blessed to have visits from Maria & Joe's families and even some friends! We really enjoy taking the kids & grandkids swimming and enjoying the multitude of events going on around the resort. This resort has gotten very busy over the years, and we try to do fun things on less crowded days.
We saw fireworks on three different days, but Pica is more than ready to be over this holiday.
During the holiday week we also attended Katelyn's Open House.. Our first graduating grandchild!! The collage of photos below shows events during the week.
Sure have loved 'catching up' with family!