Arrived at our first SOWER project in October, ready to work 3 weeks for New Life Ranch; a Christian horse camp that holds many activities throughout the year, including camps for youth, and retreats for adults. The ranch is absolutely gorgeous, with a LOT of amenities for visitors. That also means there is a LOT of work to be done, and they rely on their volunteers to fill the gaps.
For our first week, Bruce (our leader), took us on a bicycle tour through the camp and showed us what needed to be done. During the week, the men power sprayed, then stained the chapel. The ladies labeled merchandise, sanded & prepped a fence for painting, masked the areas the guys needed to stain, and sewed curtains.
As SOWERS, we planned a dinner night and game night during the week, and had a wonderful time. We have really been Blessed with this team, as we all have plant based diets and work and get along well. However, after a week of work, we are all ready for a relaxed weekend to recover. :-)
Stay Details: New Life Ranch; Colcord, OK
Notes: NLR holds summer camp, retreats and day camps for mostly youth, but also adults. They also hold leadership development conferences and horse camps. They have speakers, activities, chapel, and a lot of activities including horse back riding. As volunteers, we have a spot on the far side of camp in a private area beside the river. The horse fences are nearby, and the camp has provided us full hookups as well as a laundry barn next door.
I would highly recommend that if you live in the vicinity, this ranch is a GREAT place to send your kids, grandkids and hold retreats.
If you would like to volunteer, contact the camp directly. I'm sure they would love your help.
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.
The kids have returned to school; laughter throughout the campground has gone silent.. The game room is lonely, the pool is still, and the sound of the clock echoes near the fireplace. The RV is nestled in the woods atop a hill. The closest neighbor a good walk away. The aroma of freshly baked Peach Crisp fills our rig, and Pica watches silently as the squirrels play in the trees nearby.
It’s time especially like now that we reflect on how important family is.
There’s nothing like camping after everyone’s back to their normal lives, but most of all.. There’s nothing like the laughs, fun & comfort we have every time we visit with family and friends.
As we head south for the winter work and ministry projects, we want you all to know that we truly treasure all our time with each and very one of you. In person and on FB.. You are all loved.
Stay Details: Rocky Fork Ranch; Kimbolton, OH
Note: Owned by Travel Resorts of America, this resort was fabulous, and nestled in the hills. Most spots are pretty level, but the roads getting there are definitely hilly. The resort is built around a horse ranch, and has plenty of activities to keep you from getting bored. They also have a restaurant, store, putt putt, two swimming pools, shooting range, bow & arrow target shooting, and a wonderful club house, game rooms and bath houses. This place is definitely worth stopping by if you're on your way through.
Oh my, the most stressful part of our journey has been the New England states and big eastern cities. Why? Because of the smaller roads, multitude of crazier drivers, and honestly; over 50% of the drivers we passed were on their cell phones!
We planned to go through NYC mid-day.. Mark drove through and did a fabulous job! I kept myself busy, as well as looked at sites. There were several near-hits from people trying to cut us off (while on their cell phones), but Mark did great to avoid them.
Once we were moving again, I took a breathe of relief. This day I long-stressed about was finally over! Whew! Thank you LORD!!
From here we will be heading west to longer stays. Certainly looking forward to the SOWERS project coming up in October! :-)
Stay Details: Boondocker's Welcome Location - Harmony Acres Farm
The hosts are wonderful! They have 14 acres, have worked very hard to clear some RV sites in their woods, and they came to welcome us and invite us to visit their animals! It will be a very nice & quiet 2-night stay before heading to Delaware.
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.
Leaving Ruth & Darrell was bittersweet. It marked the turning point of heading south-west, but it was also sad to say goodbyes. They are moving out of the country and we won't see Tham again for a long time. We love you Ruth & Darrell, we will greatly miss you!
After a 4-hr drive, we made it close to Boston. Stayed overnight at a Boondocker's Welcome location that had a very sweet spot in the apple orchard.
In the meantime, there were some beautiful mountains end route. :-)
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.
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.
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.