Sunday, August 6, 2017

14 days, 8 states, 6 campgrounds, 4 pod sightings and 2,715 miles...

DISCLAIMER: This is a lengthy post . . .

Once I officially graduated with my Master's Degree in May, Jimmy suggested we plan a big trip to celebrate. How could I say "NO" to that?  Right away, I knew I wanted to head to the Grand Canyon. Once I started looking for campgrounds, I realized that we were a little late to book anything with just a month out from leaving home. I couldn't find one single campground that had openings. 

Enter Plan B...Maine and Acadia National Park.

We mapped out the perfect trip over the course of 14 days! We didn't want to be rushed and wanted to stop at a few places along the way. I have over 500 photos from our trip that has taken me well over a month to go through and get organized.

  • FIRST STOP: Letchworth State Park in Castile, New York —My friend and co-worker, Amy Decker told me a few years ago to put this park on my list. She highly recommended it and I'm so glad we took her suggestion! We spent three days exploring this park which is also know as the "Grand Canyon of the East." It was spectacular! 

Letchworth State Park Site 413

Middle Falls at Letchworth State Park in Castile, New York

Had to take a selfie at the Middle Falls...

Trying to capture the beauty of this park

Lowe Falls at Letchworth State Park in Castile, New York

  •  SECOND STOP: MountainView Campground, Morristown, Vermont — Since Vermont was "sort of" on the way to Maine, it made sense to stop here for a quick visit. This was a bucket lister for me as I've always wanted to visit the VonTrapp Family Lodge that was inspired from "The Sound of Music." I might not ever make it to Austria, so I figured this was the next best thing. We checked out the lodge and the gardens, which were beautiful and then learned that they just opened a brewery. We had a great lunch there and sampled some of their Austrian beers. We also stopped at Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream Factory and took the tour. It was a power-packed days of being tourists, and we enjoyed every minute.

MountainView Campground Site 219.
We practically had the park to ourselves.

This beautiful river was right behind our campsite.

VonTrapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vermont

Jimmy and his flight of beer at the VonTrapp Family
Brewery in Stowe, Vermont

Ben and Jerry's Factory Tour in Stowe, Vermont

  • THIRD STOP: Seawall Campground, Acadia National Park, Maine - Did you know that there isn't an "r" in Acadia? I didn't know that until we visited the visitor center at the national park and watched a movie. We've been pronouncing it wrong all along. Maine was absolutely beautiful! We arrived on a Friday and my first stop was to find a fresh lobster dinner and I wasn't disappointed. I needed a refresher on how to tackle this guy and our waitress at the Upper Deck was very helpful. On Saturday, we spent the day exploring the national park. We drove the park road and pulled off at every stop that we could. The scenery was stunning and we wanted to take it all in. Sunday we set out for Bar Harbor and discovered it was cruise ship day. The town was packed and people were everywhere! We decided to take a whale watching cruise. We didn't see any whales but did run across a lot of seals. We both got extremely sea sick as it was really rough and choppy once we got out on the ocean. I usually don't have a problem, but that's an indication on how bad the water was. I was glad to get back to land and to our campsite. We packed up on Monday and moved to another campground in Maine. 

My first fresh lobster dinner in Maine. It was SO GOOD!

Sand Beach in Acadia National Park

No swimming for us! Brrrrrr....

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park

Jordon Pond at Acadia National Park

The top of Cadillac Mountain at Acadia National Park. 
This is the highest point along the North Atlantic 
seaboard and the first place to view the sunrise in United States.

Seawall Campground Site 13

Whale Watching Cruise

The sites from our whale watching cruise

  • Fourth Stop: Camden Hills State Park, Camden, Maine - This state park was about an hour and half south of Acadia National Park and it was a nice, relaxing stop before we started to make our long journey back home.  Within the park was the Mount Battie Auto Road which was definitely worth the trek. Once at the summit we took in the full panoramic view of Camden Harbor and Penobscot Bay. We also enjoyed a day in the town of Camden with some shopping and our last seafood meal at Sea Dog Brewing Company. My mouth is watering just thinking about all the fresh seafood we enjoyed and good beer too!

Camden Hills State Park Site 51X

Jimmy doing a little exploring at the park.

The view from the Mount Battie Auto Road.
Simply beautiful!

Camden Harbor 

  • FIFTH STOP: Delta Lake State Park in Rome, New York. I wasn't even sure this stop was worthy of any mention. In all of our years of travel, we have been pretty lucky to run across nice campground, state parks, etc. This was our least favorite state park on our trip.  It rained the entire time, the people were rude and the mosquitos could carry us away. The only good thing is that the park ranger made an awesome suggestion for dinner! She suggested LaRoma Pizzeria and we had to try their signature dishes, "Vodka Riggies." I knew that I already liked the name of it since it was pretty much our last name...LOL. It was out of this world. It was sautéed onions, peppers, prosciutto in a creamy vodka sauce tossed rigatoni. We also ran across Fort Stanwix National Monument. Jim is a history buff and since he endured the VonTrapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vermont with me, I figured I could do the same for him. I'm not much of a history buff, but I always seem to enjoy our visits to places like this. Jim and I decided that we would have rather stayed a day longer in Maine and skipped this stop. Oh well, its another experience to add to our list.
Delta Lake State Park • Rome, New York • Site A27

Fort Stanwix National Monument • Rome, New York

  •  SIXTH STOP: Pymatuning State Park, Jamestown, Pennsylvania. This was our last stop before home. Jamestown, Pennsylvania is located right on the Ohio/Pennsylvania state line. The park was really nice but flooded. This region had experienced a lot of rain and it had rained every day since we had left Maine. Our campsite had a river running through it and our firepit was flooded. It was the weekend before the 4th of July so we were looking forward to watching some fireworks, but it started downpouring just as we were heading out. 

Pymatunning State Park, Jamestown, PA • Site 400

The downpour right before the fireworks

Overall, this was an outstanding trip. We didn't have any mechanical issues and the truck and Pod performed very well with this long haul.  We did everything that we set out to do and enjoyed our time together. We were really surprised that we didn't meet any fellow Podders on our trip. We pass 3 pods on the road and 1 was parked in a driveway in Vermont. We did have our picture taken a few times as we were driving down the freeways, so our rock star status continues! As most Podders know, we love to give tours and talk about our camper with others. People are always amazed to learn that everything you need is packed into this incredibly small space and that's why we love it!

Now that I have my blog updated, its time to take off once again. We have 4 more trips on the books with family and friends and who knows what this fall will bring. There's nothing like fall camping in Michigan! 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Frist Camping Trip of the 2017 Season (FINALLY)

Winters in Michigan seem to get longer and longer each year. This past winter wasn't especially bad, but for some reason, I was itching to hit the road with our Pod. If the weather cooperates, we usually try to camp the last weekend in April for our anniversary, but this year it didn't happen. Sometimes life stuff gets in the way and we had to stick close to home.

We finally made it out for Memorial Day weekend and hit the road with our friends, Don and Deb. We headed for Pokagon State Park in Angola, IN. This park is usually on our list every year. Its close to home, has a great lake/beach and one of our favorites restaurants, Clay's, in right down the road. Trust me, if you are in the area, stop for dinner or breakfast (both are fabulous) and don't forget to order a piece of pie. I'd highly recommend the peanut butter chocolate pie. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

The weather wasn't the best as it rained and stormed, but we made the most of it. We only were able to have a bonfire one night and ended up going to the movies to escape the weather, but this still was a nice trip. Of course, the day we headed home was beautiful!

Site 424 at Pokagon State Park • Angloa, IN

These boys sure know how to
cook up a mean breakfast!

My attempt at capturing the beautiful sunset.
This doesn't do it justice!

Don and Deb

Friday, November 25, 2016

Camping in November? Yes, please!

I can honestly say that I've never camped in November until this year. We were pleasantly surprised by the Michigan weather this fall and were able to squeeze out one last camping weekend. It was hard to find a campground open at this time of year, but luckily Sterling State Park in my hometown of Monroe, Michigan was still open for one more weekend.

We packed up and headed out right after work and arrived just in time to get situated on site 31 just before dark. There were about 40 other campers taking advantage of the great November weather. It was a little chilly at night, but nothing that the nice roaring fire couldn't help. On Saturday, we took a long walk on the beach followed by a bike ride along the paved path. We also visited with my parents since we were in town and my brother came out to the park and joined us for coffee on Saturday morning too. It was nice surprise although he got us out of bed....LOL!

I cannot believe that another camping season has come to a close! I will always say that we didn't get to camp enough, but this season seems like we really didn't. Now, the Pod is all winterized and packed away for another Michigan winter in the barn.  We are counting down the days until we hit the road next spring!

Site 31 at Sterling State Park in Monroe, MI.

We really needed this fire to keep
us toasty warm at night!

Lake Erie Love!

We couldn't ask for a more beautiful fall in Michigan!

Hoodies, bonfires and pretty leaves....oh my!

Jim and I took a very spur of the moment camping trip to Harrison Lake State Park in Fayette, Ohio the last weekend in October. It is very rare to have good camping weather in late October in Michigan, but we were fortunate to score a 70 degree day. We were surprised at how full the campground was, but I think everyone else had the same idea.

Harrison Lake is a short 40-minute drive from our home. The weather was perfect on Saturday as we enjoyed a 5-mile hike around the entire park. I could ramble on about the beauty of the area at this time of year, but I think my pictures would do a better job of that.

Ironically we were on site 113 which was the same site that
we camped on the last time we were here.

Fall in Ohio - just goregous!

I just love this time of year!

The spillway

The beauty that surrounded us!

This picture doesn't do the colors justice, but is still beautiful!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Fifth Annual Cousins Weekend

We started this annual Cousins Weekend back in 2012 and I'm so glad that we kept our tradition going now for five years in a row. I hope we can keep it going for at least another five years as family and time together is super important. We all get busy and have our own lives, but I think it is very important to take time out of our busy schedules and spend time with those that you love.

I want to recap the last five years of trips that we have made together just for my own memory's sake and to have a running list of the places we have been:
  • 2012 - Soaring Eagle Casino in Mount Pleasant, MI
  • 2013 - Camping at Muskegon State Park in Muskegon, MI
  • 2014 - Camping at Stafford County Park in Port Hope, MI
  • 2015 - Cottage weekend at Arend's on Little Gray Goose Lake in Jerome, MI
  • 2016 - Camping at Stafford County Park in Port Hope, MI
We liked Stafford County Park so much that we decided to make a return trip. It seems to be centrally located for most of us. It was one of the hottest and rainiest weekends of the summer but we didn't slow us down much. It was figure that the best day of the weekend was Sunday when we were packing up a leaving. 

We did have to check up on a very distance relative in Kinde, MI that owns and operates Heck's Bar. We stumbled across this bar the last time we were in the area and had to stop again. 

It doesn't matter where we go or what we do, it is always a great time to get together with my cousins!

The Cousins Compound - Sites 12, 13, 15, 16

The Cousins Compound
The Cousins

Cousin Laura, Kathy and Jimmy

Heck's Bar in Kinde, MI

Beautiful Lake Huron

Lake Huron