This holiday was FULL of surprises for us!
1st.. After being at Palatki for 8 weeks, we finally had a beautiful rain and snow storm, which intensifies the beauty in the area. However, this also means the roads getting to our location are extremely muddy and mostly impassable, so Palatki has to close. This raised some tense moments, as we had planned on spending our days off with Maria and her family, and did not expect a storm.
However, Maria drove the 28-hrs strait to arrive, and because the roads were not as bad as the day before, she braved the mud and 4 miles of back road to meet us at Palatki. We had a quick dinner, gave them a tour of our site, then opened gifts. It was a spectacular evening, but we had to send them to their hotel before dark.
The next 2 days were magical. We spent time in a neighboring hotel with them, and toured Sedona, Jerome, Montezuma Castle & Tuzigoot. We treated her for a birthday dinner out at the Haunted Hamburger in Jerome. I can't believe Maria is 40 already!! WoW! We celebrated with a cake in the hotel, then spent the evening swimming. We saw them off Tuesday, as we took a quick drive to Phoenix and browsed some shops.
Below are some photos of this Christmas and Birthday week.
1st Photo is Mark and Bob beginning a tour. This was a big group, so they divided and conquered.. :-)
2nd - 4th photos are the walk up and in the Grotto Rock Art area. Water in the Grotto area is rare, and when it's there, a small pebble dropped into the water creates a beautiful ripple effect. See the video below. We believe the native people used to do this while smoking their pipes.
5th - 7th photos are during a walk up to the old brother's homestead and garage. In video, Mark explains what is found on the floors.
8th photo was after a rain on our drive home. The beautiful sun reflected on the mountains just so that it looks like lemons! These photos are NOT doctored.
9th photo is on an evening walk to check the trail camera. You can see the pueblo at the bottom left of the photo.
10th photo is our view of the night sky on a 3/4 moon night.
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.
A trip long dreamed about was finally here. We set up the tent, organized our gear, then settled down for a night in the Acadia 'wilderness'. We were pumped! We read all the brochures, planned our days events, and were ready to take on the world!
Pica was restless.. She ended up finding comfort with us on our bed. First time ever! She was very good through the night though, as she only growled at one person walking to the restroom. Then our bed was losing air. By morning, we were sleeping on the rocky ground. Oh well, we'll try bed #2!
For now, we had to go.. A 4am appointment on Cadillac Mountain for the sunrise came quickly! We packed up some warm clothes and set out for the mountain. Once there we knew there wouldn't be a visible sunrise. We were in a cloud. We could see nothing, and the wind and moisture made us very glad we brought warmer clothing. Well, since we weren't going to see the sunrise, we may as well walk the trail! It was beautiful! Rocky, unique structure, and we imagined the view we would normally have! The next day, we drove to the mountain again and saw the beautiful views just after sunrise.
During the rest of the trip, we hiked a few small trails, road our bike on the carriage roads, saw Thunder Hole and Bar Harbor, went on a Boat Tour, ate lunch at Jordan Pond House, and Mark even capped it off with a hike on the famous Beehive Trail. We also took a trip to the west side of the island and visited Bass Harbor Lighthouse.
The weather was near perfect! Highs in the 70's, and lows near 60 and no rain! The campground itself was beautiful, but honestly I don't know how tenters do this on a regular basis. We enjoyed our 3 nights, but with people yelling nearby, kids screaming, and a radio?? What are people thinking! We prefer the solitude, peacefulness and safety of dispersed camping in our rig, so we'll leave tenting to the younger folk. :-)
By the way.. Night #2, our airbed #2 deflated too. For night #3 we set up our last bed option. A nice airbed we borrowed from Ruth & Darrell. It was definitely a quality airbed, because it worked flawlessly!
All in all, the park is absolutely beautiful! If you love to hike and bike, you will LOVE Acadia!
Stay Details: Blackwoods Campground; Acadia National Park ME - Site B-16
Notes: The campground is mostly for tenters and small RVs. It has modern toilets in all loops, but the shower house is outside the park nearby and is pay per use. The sites have a good amount of space, but none are totally private because of the taller trees. Sound travels very well. If you are going to Acadia, we recommend this campground. There are also a few other campgrounds in the area that seem nice.
Though not the type of excitement one would hope for, this day was full of excitement and a quaint reminder that God is in charge..
Rainy days never make a good travel day, so we packed up the muddy equipment, double checked all points of packing, and left Davison. There were four events that stuck out as extraordinary.
1) After 30 minutes of travel through terrible Flint roads, another driver stopped us. We had been dragging our sewer hose. The hose was hanging on by the last hook from the cylinder that housed it during travel. The hose and the clear 90 degree connection were totally in-tact!
2) Another few miles down the road, we realized our coffee was not in the truck. Mark stopped again and checked inside. The full coffee mugwas still sitting on top of the counter! After the roads we just traveled, we thought for sure we'd have quite a mess in there!
3) Upon arriving to our 'resort' we found out that we could only park on grass sites. It had just rained, and most spots were only 15amp, so we preferred one where we could utilize our solar for power. We found a site in the sun, checked it out and it seemed good enough. However, once Mark began backing up, the camper sunk VERY quick and he couldn't pull back out of it. We were stuck good! Within minutes, 5 guys from around the park came over to help. They had done this 3 other times this week, so they knew what to do. They hooked up 2 more trucks in front of ours, and easily pulled us out. Whew! No harm done, just muddy tires and a very rutted lawn.
4) The campground host told us to park on one of the seasonal sites with a cement pad. Upon parking at the last one available, we found out the 50a electric outlet was only running on 20a. Mark almost plugged in the camper directly, but just felt weird about it so he used the EMS power supply. Thank goodness, because the low power could have hurt our electrical system or the solar system.
By the time we settled into our camper after setup, we thanked God for His protection. We don't know what we'll do in this mosquito-infested area, but we do know that we are very Blessed to have had several people help us out in our time of need, and not have anything serious happen on this journey.
Experiences aren't always fun, but they are experiences. How we handle them makes all the difference in the world. :-)
Stay Details: Heartland Woods Family RV Resort; Stockbridge, MI
* Note: This is a location that is a nice little get-away with a few ammenities, but is more geared to family weekend campers. The larger sites are 30a with water, and some of the outer sites even have cement pads. However, they save the padded sites for longer term residents, so they ask travelers to use the inside grassy sites. However, as you see, the inner grassy sites are not good for rainy days. Be cautious of where you park.
There is a playground, putt putt course and swimming pool, along with tennis court, horse shoes, and a fishing pond. Most of these were not usable because of the rain, but provides some fun options for the kids when it's not raining. There is also an activity/game room that is pretty large.
Cumberland Point Campground is an Army Corps of Engineers campground. We have been wanting to stay at this place for quite some time, and it did NOT disappoint!
I must warn anyone who wants to book this place. BOTH the loop campground and the dead-end sites are very steep, with a sharp grade from road to site; which means you might have trouble with a 5th wheel hitting the truck. Use caution, and I would not recommend bringing any rig over 35' to any of these sites without knowing it will be a challenge to park.
With that said, we booked site #11 because I learned online that it was the best one with the lake view. Online, the site fits 40' rigs (we are 35'). Upon arriving, we were told that he didn't think we would be able to turn around at the end of the dead-end. So, we walked down, checked it out, and decided to give it a try.
Mark and I have been doing very good with communication on parking, so we had this! He turned wide, I watched his angles and limits, and radio'd findings. He took it slow, got the truck & camper at a little more than a 90 degree angle, and was clear to make the turn. The front corner barely touched our soft toneau roll. He straightened it back up the hill, then backed in with ease. Within 10 minutes, we had the rig unhooked, leveled and slides out.
In the meantime.... Upon arriving, two guys came out of the woodwork looking at the size of our camper. I think they made fun of us even thinking of trying it. Once we got in to try it, they told us "we haven't looked at all the sites yet", and continued on down the hill to where we were going. Like every RVer, we all watch the newbies coming in to see how things are done. Perhaps we silenty wait for that 'oopsie' to happen while feeling proud we would 'never' make that mistake! LOL!!
Anyway, as we were making that turn, they watched in awe, as they had previously told us that we would NEVER be able to make the turn. Mark and I worked in precision without their help, as we made the turn in one try, then backed in one try. I just smiled at them and said "See, you can do anything if you remain positive about it".. I think they left with their tails between their legs. Ha!
So here we are, on an absolute perfect day. Not too hot, not too cold. Very little breeze, and an awesome lake view and the sounds of waves gently hitting the shores below. Mark rode up to buy wood, and was told by the park manager that we could forage whatever we wanted! Wait, what???? When do we ever hear that? So Mark went to work foraging, and he had a 3' tall pile of wood in no time! He even got to use his new toy (a Makita circular saw)! Before long, dinner was sizzling on the griddle, the fire was crackling, and the birds were serenading us with their song.
We would recommend this campground only if you are brave enough to park your rig from an angled road, LOVE beauty, and love the peace and quiet. There are 2 bath houses which also have showers, and are nicely kept. The entire grounds are kept clean and nice by Army Corps personnel, and I must say, this is one of the best places we've been to (barring the fear of the unknown). Yes, site #11 is the absolute best. It's own peninsula and overhang toward the water. But there are plenty of other beautiful sites here too, so no many which you choose, you cannot lose. Each site also comes with 50amp and water hookups, with a dump station at the exit.
On the 2nd night entering a beautiful, quiet evening, we suddenly had neighbors. We don't mind neighbors, and most of the time even get to be friends with them. However, we cut our night short when the mom kept yelling at her kid all night, so loud that I think the entire campground could hear her. Nightie night. An early departure sounds promising at this point. Ha!
Told by the park secretary about the must-see elk herd in the nearby Cataloochee Valley, we headed out first thing in the morning in hopes to see a LOT of these promised elk.
After an 7-hour day of driving and touring the paved and unpaved curvy roads of the Smokies, we did not see any elk, but we did see some beautiful scenery, historical locations, and learned a lot about the area's history.
Here are some of the area highlights:
- Cataloochee Valley: 10 miles of steep curvy roads with beautiful scenery of the Smoky Mountains. Most of this area is unpaved, but the roads were relatively cared for and in good condition. I passed over 3 old one-lane bridges, and saw several old homesteads that were built in the 1800's. Sorry, no elk on our trip, even though we heard they are often seen eating along the roadside.
- Gatlinburg: Drove the narrow northern road up to Gatlinburg. We didn't make the stop here because we had Pica, but we will definitely be back to enjoy the shopping and sites. Some of the super cool things in the area are the sky bridge (via chair lifts) & Anakeesta Mountain Park. The downtown shops are amazing for those who like browsing, and there are tons of food options in the area too.
- Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail: Just outside of Gatlingburg, this one-way car trail is a definite must-do when you're in the area. Several 1800's homesteads remain in the area and are fully open for people to browse through. There are 2 picnic areas near the river, and there are many walking trails ranging from ADA short to strenuous 8 mile trails and more! Many of these trails take you to beautiful waterfalls.
Overall, just get out and see this beautiful nature! The trip through the Smoky Mountain NP was pretty short itself, but you can always add adventures on your trip to fit your dreams.
This trip and MANY more out west were much more educational due to the JUST AHEAD app. This app follows along on your journey, and tells you about the area, the history and what's expected. We just LOVE this app!
Stay Details: Pride Resort, Waynesville, NC
Note: This is a small campground resort that is nestled on the banks of the Pigeon River. It is small, pretty tight together, and have a few small ammenities like a pool (not currently open), putt putt and community center. They have benches beside the water which we really loved
We didn't post much for April because we had a good amount of down time at Myrtle Beach. Mark gave the truck a break job and tune-up, so she's ready to cross the mountains. The rig got a cleaning overhaul and some new carpets & kitchen upgrades.
God has really Blessed us at Briarcliffe with the friendship of an older couple. Mark dug right in and helped work on their tv. They ended up going to Best Buy together the next day and buying a new one. WOW, the difference in the new 43" 4k TV compared to their old 17" tube TV was an amazing transformation, and made Richard VERY happy! We spent most of the day teaching them how to use the new technology, including email! It was almost like adopting parents, and they told us they were going to adopt us as their kids. Ok! :-) They are even going to take a 2 hour drive to the next place we're staying (their home park), so visit with us for the day. :-)
Through our converstaions at the parks, we have decided to get involved with ROAM, a Christian RV ministry that is 'there where you need them". Like the SOWERS ministry we joined, ROAM also helps camps with needed projects, but they are also involved with disaster relief, which is something we both have a passion for being involved in. Stay tuned on more details with this.
- As many know, Myrtle Beach is a HUGE beach party destination. Since we don't party, it ended up being pretty boring. However, there is a LOT of tourist attractions around if you'd like to catch some dinner shows, aquariums, Ripley's museums and parks. We saw Dolly Parton's Pirates Voyage, and it was spectacular!
- For bike riding enthusiasts, Myrtle Beach was not the destination to go. There were very few bike trails, and most of those were mostly on main road sidewalks. There were no trails paralelling the ocean.
- For dog owners. Myrtle Beach is a dog-owners paradise. From October-April, dogs are allowed on all the beaches, so you AND your pooch can enjoy the awesome beach and beautiful sunrises. From May - September, dogs are only allowed on the beach before 9am and after 5pm.
Stay Details: Briarcliffe RV Resort - Myrtle Beach, SC
* This park is part of the Coast to Coast resort parks that we joined last year. It was a good destination, being it was close to the beach, close to stores, and had some amenities for visitors. The park also accepted some mail delivery for us, which was really nice. We enjoyed walking to the pond just about every night and sitting with the ducks.
Our final stay at Bee's Resort this year was with our friends Bill & Marilou.. After being together since California, we have met up several times during our travels, and will now be parting ways for a while. It was a bittersweet stay, as we really enjoyed spending time with them, but we also had to say our "See Ya Later's".
A visit to Silver Springs did not disappoint. It is the world's largest fresh water springs, and several movies were shot here, including the original "Tarzan" movie series and "I Spy" just to name a few. We would highly recommend a visit here. They have glass bottom boat tours, kayak rentals, and many trails you can bike and hike. We finished the visit with a surprise view of the Starlink launch which was 90 miles away!
Stay Details: Bee's Resort; Clermont, FL
* This time, they allowed us to stay in a regular campsite which was very pretty and across from our friends. Bee's is a nice resort, with a swimming pool that was open (and warm), a walking trail and shuffleboard.