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.
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.
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.
Long ago, we planned a visit with friends here at Wooded Acres. We purchased the same brand campers, and we really hit it off talking about upgrades and comparisons. We both love our campers! The guys spent most of the weekend getting things done to our rigs (washing, maintenance, upgrades, etc), then we played games and fellowshipped the rest of the weekend. We will definitely make this an annual event! :-)
We did have a pretty significant storm on our first night, which the news states there was a tornado nearby. There were several trees in the park that snapped, including one tree on our next-door lot. If Greg & Lori had stayed there as planned, their camper would have been hit. Praise the Lord for HIS protection!
Greg & Lori brought Mabel, and after a day of getting to know each other, Pica seemed to enjoy her company as well. However, Pica loved her vantage point better, and liked being on the couch next to daddy. :-)
Stay details: Wooded Acres Family Campground; Houghton Lake, MI - Site 86
* Note: This campground has new owners that are working very hard to clean things up and make everything nice. They are doing a wonderful job! There are about 50 campsites, and most are without sewer. There are a lot of longer term sites, and the grounds are highly wooded. There is a pool, playground, clean shower houses, and shuffle board.
Took a day trip to Mackinaw City, and around the upper west part of Michigan, including the Tunnel of Trees. It was a beautiful day, but the haze from the Canadian Fires reduced the view across the water. Because of construction on the island, we decided not to visit this island this year, so we rode around Mackinaw City, walked the shops and had dinner. Pica was thoroughly loving her ride. :-)
Interlochen State Park is one of our favorite locations to return to. It's next to a music school which we can hear from the campgrounds, and the entire Traverse City area is full of things to do and places to see.
This visit, we rode the Boardman Lake Trail in Traverse City while our truck was getting worked on. Gorgeous and short, this trail provided us a bonus viewing spot of the youngsters' sailing school. It was really neat to watch those 7-yr olds navigate the mini sailboats.
The next day was a longer, more challenging ride on the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail. Smooth, and 22 miles long, the northern side is mostly gradual slopes, where the southern side will give you 11% grade challenges, and the reward of speed on the other end. Having a picnic lunch at the dunes was definitely a bonus.
Stay details: Interlochen State Park; Interlochen MI
* This park is large and beautiful, and offers many opportunities for family fun near the lake. The sites come in all different sizes, but only has electric, so water fill-up is a must before parking. The park has a day use area for swimming, boating and BBQs, as well as nearby trails. The nearby music school is a nice ambience when enjoying your evening fire.
We were on site 95, but the next one over was facing us with his party and campfire, so it was rather intrusive. There are a LOT of large sites here, and a lot of family fun things to do. Recommended sites: 369, 371, 64, 414 & 193.
Arriving at Charlestown S.P. meant meeting up with our daughter and her family. The only problem with being on the road is missing family. Being back in the north for 3 months allows us to catch up with everyone. By the end of this time, they all might even WANT to get rid of us! LOL!
Katie & Tony came out with the kids this weekend and camped for the night with us. The last time they camped with us, there were heavy rains and a tornado warning. This time, there was beautiful (warm) weather and sun. We all had a great time catching up, talking, having fun with the kids, and just being together. We look forward to seeing them again later this year.
Stay details: Charlestown State Park - Charlestown, IN
Note: This area was once the Rose Island Amusement Park, until the major flood of 1937 which created a 25-mile wide Ohio River flood which non until put 70% of Louisville under water, but also desimated the park . It was then purchased as an ammunition plant, then dedicated to the state of Indiana in 1995. The park itself is very large with 8 hiking trails and a campground. The campground consists of 189 campsites (129 electric, and 58 full hookup). The sites are well spaces at a great angle so you're not looking inside your neighbor's windows. It has one small playground, several trash bins throughout the park, and a good amount of shaded sites to choose from.
While we were here, we did encounter several ticks on us, the kids and the dog. We decided not to take any more walks in the woods.
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.
During our 2-week stay at Bee's Resort, we were able to get in some sightseeing, truck maintenance, and quality friend-time. The friends we met in CA (Bill & Marilou) were scheduled to be with us here, but they were delayed due to truck issues. They came in later, and we really enjoyed seeing them again! In the meantime, we made friends with the people who were next to us: Tom & Eleanore, who serenaded us with his guitar and singing; Carl & Ruthie who also have a Reflection, quickly became friends; and Dub & his wife who we helped back in and get parked; and finally Robert & Kim, needed help with a severe septic problem as we were walking through the park. They were all wonderful people, and we were very blessed to have met them.
Deciding to visit a Disney park, reservations and tickets were required. We were hoping for Hollywood Studios, but they were booked through to April 22nd, so we went to Animal Kingdom instead. I must say, we do not have the desire to return any time soon. Maybe it's just us getting older, but we also don't think it's worth the expense.
We really enjoyed our visit to Tampa, Fort DeSoto in St. Petersburg, and our bike riding around the island and shores. We've been wanting to visit LazyDays RV for a long time, and it was amazing. This is a HUGE place, a LOT of RVs, and very nice staff.
During our stay, we also had time to upgrade our furniture, and get some spark plugs changed on the truck.
Stay Details: Bee's Resort, Clermont FL.
* This resort has very tight sites, and we were placed into the overflow area in the front by the road. After a walk around the park, we realized this was actually better than many other sites, except that we were under an acorn tree which rained small nuts on our roof for the next 2 weeks. It wasn't too bad, and we still had full hookups. Just know that most of the people at this park are seasonal, so you will feel like an outsider at first. However, just making an appearance helped alleviate some of that, and we made several friends in no time. Their restaurant is closed down, and the people working the front counters are not very nice. Just smile and be nice to them and they will loosen up. This resort also accepts mail for you. GO AMAZON!