Finishing Out the NE (July 12th - September 13th, 2021) PART I
Updated: Apr 20
Florida to Maine: 77 days, 16 stops, 13 states, 57 friends & family visited, 17 missed, many new friends acquired and countless memories made along the way! This journey was quite epic, bringing us to a total of 41 US States visited so far with plans to finish off the last 9 in the next 2 summers. A trip like this is far from easy, but also very far from boring! Sit back as we take you through our last few weeks on the road and into our home coming...
Monday, July 12th, is where we left off last time. I had taught a Zumba class that morning under the pavilion cover at Abel Mountain Campground in Braintree, VT (yay!). I wrote the last blog at our friend's house while Ted toured Norwich University and did laundry. We had a late lunch/early dinner where I ate too much food and drank way to much wine (as I had been doing for several weeks already). This explains why I opted out of ice cream and was instantly best friends with a toilet for the rest of the night and all day Tuesday (which we took as a recovery day napping, playing board games and prepping for the move the next day). July 14th I was much better and the 4 of us (Ted, Azlan, Apollo and I) hiked up to the Viewpoint behind the campground before we filled up propane and rolled out to Lake Compounce located in Bristol, CT. The drive down out of the mountains on I-89 and I-91 was a peaceful ride. Lake Compounce is America's very first Family Theme Park which originally opened in 1846! They have the adventure park with dry rides, a campground, and a water park, Crocodile Cove. We had scored a pull through site and we didn't want to disconnect the Jeep since we would be leaving in 2 days...so the next morning I took Apollo for a 3 mile walk and got some milk at the local Dollar Tree before our day in the adventure park. We had a blast at the water park, played games, won some stuffies, and rode some rides. Azlan wasn't tall enough to ride many of the adventure park rides but we had fun just the same...and I got to ride a great roller coaster (and didn't throw up - #poundwinning)! That night we met our neighbors which turned out to be really cool. They had 2 little boys around Azlan's age, which was perfect. We all hung out, exchanged stories, and enjoyed smores around the camp fire. July 16th, after I walked Apollo, we took our short hour drive to The Land of Nod Winery in Canaan, CT. We were visiting a friend there and weren't really sure what to expect. We ended up parking the Glamper in the driveway of the house next door and boondocking for 2 nights. Boondocking is when you have no hook ups (no sewer, electrical or water connections) and just run off the generator and tanks in the motor home. We wasted no time getting out and about once we parked. Our host and friend took us to the Great Falls Brewing Company where we sampled beer and devoured a delicious lunch from a fantastic food truck on site. We then visited a beautiful old library, had some giant local homemade cookies, and tried to go to the carnival that was in town but we were too early so they kicked us out (that was a first...I've never been kicked out of a carnival before)! When we went back to the carnival, Azlan and I rode the Scrambler. I was actually going to let Azlan ride alone as he was tall enough but then Ted said it looked pretty scary...I rolled my eyes and got on, how bad could it be? Well, let me tell you, the guy operating the ride had a good time at least. He put us on what must have been MAX SPIN MODE, slowed us down for just a few seconds so we could breathe and then hit the MAX button again. It was certainly the longest lasting ride I have ever been on...at first it was fun but then it turned into a hold-in-your-cookies-or-you-will-toss-them-everywhere kind of ride! We got off the ride dizzy, queasy and giggling (just a little), but the guy operating the ride, well he was laughing his arse off sadistically! Next was the Gravitron. I hadn't been on a Gravitron ride in ages...nor did I want to go but Ted doesn't do rides like that, so off Azlan and I went. We had fun and I didn't drool on myself - #poundwinning again! After we had our fill at the carnival, we grabbed some groceries and went home to cook. We dined under the outdoor tent that night, sipping on some delicious wine to finish out a great day!
July 17th is Ted's Birthday! Hello 45! We hiked about 2 miles out and 2 miles back of the Iron Trail which started at the Beckley Furnace, a historical site where iron was made in the mid 1800's. Northwestern Connecticut has a rich history of iron makers, some of their families still own property in the area to this day. We stopped at a trickling stream for snacks and to play games hopping in and around the water. After the hike, we visited Umpachene Falls in New Marlborough, MA where a deer just walked right up to us like we were trees (a very serene experience), we had some chicken salad sandwiches for lunch, a nice nap, wine tasting, farm animal petting and dinner at a nice restaurant. Overall, I think Ted had a great birthday! Our impression of CT was a good one. We enjoyed the pretty landscapes, back roads and the peaceful pace of the northern part of the state.
The next day we rolled out to Rhode Island...However, we didn't get very far before we found we had a flat tire on the trailer...well, it was more like the tire disintegrated. Ted changed it in a large parking lot we stopped in and we planned on getting a new one when we got to RI. This time I even drove for about an hour...and yes, I still don't like driving the rig. I call the driver's seat the Pucker Seat, because your butt cheeks are always puckered up - ready for the next blast of wind or the next crazy driver that thinks the 36,000 pound Glamper has a miraculous ability to immediately stop short. We arrived at the Meadowlark Mobile Home & RV Park and had to unload the Jeep and disconnect the trailer as the sites were very close together and we had a back in that butted up to another site (we had just had 2 stops where we didn't even unload the Jeep so it was no biggie). We also only had 30 AMP power at this site which means we can only run one AC instead of both. Our 50 AMP power cord has 4 prongs and a 30 AMP connection only has 3. Fortunately they had an adapter for the power hook up and we were good to go... or so we thought. It was quite warm during the day and there was no shade in the jam packed RV park. Ted was able to get both ACs going which was a blessing. The next day I finally found an in person Zumba class at the Quinta-Gamlin Community Center - these have been hard to find this summer! I was sooooo excited to take a class...and when I walked in I got a wonderful surprise! One of ZT's Fitness Studio's members was there! It was so great to dance with her and the Zumba instructor, Nellie G, who was fantastic too! Ted did laundry at our friend's mom's house, we went out for lunch and errands and all had dinner in the Glamper.
Tuesday, July 20th, our morning jaunt with Apollo was at the Cliff Walk. This is a neat, mostly paved walk along the eastern shore of Newport, RI. The parts that aren't paved are giant rocks, some of them are Coal Age black shale, sandstone, and conglomerate that has metamorphosed to slate, meta-sandstone, and meta-conglomerate. Our only expectation was that it was paved...when we got to the rocks, we were surprised and stoked! Azlan loves climbing in, up, down, and around rocks ever since our first big family hike: Flat Top Mountain, AK. We scratched our heads about Apollo though, he hadn't had any terrain like this yet. Didn't matter, he did awesome and as you'll later see, he can climb mountains just like us! We didn't go all the way to the end but stopped on a giant rock instead for some snacks before heading back. We got to the Glamper, I showered and changed and Ted dropped me off back in Newport at The Breakers. This 70-room Italian Renaissance- style palazzo inspired by the 16th-century palaces of Genoa and Turin was designed by Richard Morris Hunt and commissioned by Cornelius Vanderbilt II (Chairman and President of the New York Central Railroad system). I pictured this mansion alive with guests and staff back in 1895 when it was completed and am reminded of the show Downton Abbey. It was an interesting time period for sure. I took the self guided audio tour and wandered through this rich palace, admiring the small intricate details and potentially dark sultry corners. Dinners and dancing come to mind, children scarce, wine a plenty, ladies laughs vibrating through the walls. I have a pretty wild imagination sometimes, which can be pretty awesome and pretty scary all at once. I took my time going through, dropping my jaw when I found out that one of the party rooms had been completely built overseas (I think it was Paris), taken apart and then rebuilt in RI. But then I remembered that one time we had a 20'x40' booth space at the company I worked at...we built it in China, took it apart and rebuilt it back up in the US...twice! Still, back in 1895 that was significantly more difficult and expensive to do than in 2017. My tour ended and I went outside to sit on the grass and sketch. I don't make time for this very often but I will make an effort to do it at least once a month going forward. Azlan and Ted got the trailer tire fixed and played UNO while I was gone. That night we had the pleasure of dining with an amazing family at The Safari Room. Little did we know there was a wedding there (and yes, if we didn't have the kids, we might have crashed it), they had to tell the kids to stop rolling down the hill because they were basically photo-bombing the wedding party. Who's kids?!?! I don't know....maybe ours....haha. It was great catching up with them as we had missed seeing them while we were in NC. When we got home after checking out their awesome house on the water, we found one of the ACs had stopped working. Not catastrophic and hopefully fixable.
July 21st started off with a great Zumba Toning class where Nellie G let me lead a song! I had so much fun dancing with these amazing ladies! Ted, Azlan, Apollo and Ted's childhood friend and her family all had breakfast at the Hope Diner near by and I joined after Zumba. Afterward, we all jumped in our respective cars and headed to our next destination, North Conway, NH, 3.5 hours north. We drove north to the Kancamagus Scenic Byway through the beautiful White Mountain National Forest. While we were stopped near the Kancamagus Pass (2855 ft in elevation) at a lovely scenic stop. Apollo wiggled free as I was getting something out of the Jeep and gave us a run for our money through the parking lot. Man, that dog is FAST! Eventually someone was able to grab him before he got hit by a car, thank goodness. We made it to our hotel, The Green Granite Inn, checked in and stopped at Cathedral Ledge before we went to dinner at the Muddy Moose. Cathedral Ledge was pretty cool and our friend took an epic picture of Ted dipping me into a kiss (I know we are romantically cheesy, but that's the way we like it!).
The next morning we hiked out to Arethusa Falls, a beautiful 140' water fall in White Mountain National Forest. The hike was lovely and the falls even better. Ted and Apollo walked all the way to the top and I got some time to sketch while we all hung out and had some snacks. Pizza was on the lunch menu and we stopped off at some outlets on the way back to Rhode Island. We had a great time visiting our friends and loved these 2 beautiful states with so much to still explore!
July 23rd I logged into a virtual class and did Tabata on the grass and part of the road before we reconnected the trailer and Jeep to the motorhome for moving day. Off to Boston (or Littleton, MA) we go! The Boston Minuteman Campground was legit! This was my favorite site so far. We weren't glued to our neighbors, we had shade, some privacy, and a really cool fire pit. The campground had great amenities and a hiking trail behind it (perfect for Apollo walks). I used my convection oven setting on the mircrowave for the first time this summer to make Banana Blueberry Muffins (its still doesn't cook evenly), we set up camp and I found a gym less than a mile away - score! The next morning, after hiking with Apollo, I went to a Bootcamp class at Signature Fitness. It's a fitness studio similar to ZT's - group classes, intimate, clean and fun! A perfect way for me to start getting back into serious workouts before going home...after all, at this time we only have 2 weeks left! That afternoon one of Ted's Army buddies and his family came for a BBQ. They served together before I met Ted and they turned out to be fantastic! I need to take fruit platter presentation lessons from his wife! We played corn hole, the kids all got along and it was another great reunion for the books. July 25th was Ted's turn to walk our "little" hellion and Azlan and I slept until 9:30am...I love not waking up to an alarm (and I bet you do too!). Ted's uncle came over for a quick visit, he's 89 and still driving and doing good. It was really good to see him. That afternoon we took Azlan to watch Spirit Untamed (great movie by the way), we bought some paints for future rock painting, stopped by the book store for each of us to get a book, and went home to chill and watch the Olympics. Our friend that drives a semi was transporting a load and was able to stop by and see us! So cool that we saw him in Texas on our last trip and we were able to link up again. On Monday, July 26th, after Ted hiked Oak Hill with Apollo, we headed into downtown Boston for sightseeing. It's been almost 10 years since I've been to Boston and it's my favorite US city but I didn't recall why when we got there and took the hop on hop off trolley through town. We visited the USS Constitution museum, took a ferry and then headed back before traffic got bad....so like 3pm. By the time we left I remembered what I liked about Boston and it was the Freedom Trail...walking from historical site to historical site through a few hundred years of evolution. This is where I feel I could have planned our Boston trip a little better but alas, we made the best of it. That night I took a Buts & Guts class followed by a Zumba class and we had a surprise visitor at the Glamper. One of Ted's buddies stopped by and he got to hang out for a bit before we put Azlan down for bed. Tuesday morning we hiked Apollo in the Harold Parker State Forest, and had a rambunctious 15 minute chase session with another dog, just as fast as Apollo. We then headed to the Minuteman National Historical Park where we learned about the events that initiated the Revolutionary War between the cities of Lexington and Concord. We walked across the North Bridge, where on April 19th 1775, the militia men confronted British Soldiers, who fired and killed 2 colonials. The militia officer ordered his men to return fire, an act of treason against the British government and in that moment, there was no return, the war had begun. They had great Ranger Programs with detailed information, a great stop on the American history time line. July 28th was a recovery day. I did a power combo Yoga class, walked the dog and cleaned the Glamper while Ted and Azlan did laundry and ran errands. Anyone that says Rhodesian Ridgeback don't shed is lying by the way! Thursday, the 29th, my parents were flying into Boston around 5pm so we planned the day out to explore a bit of the Freedom Trail and be in town early to get my parents, I did not want us to leave Boston disappointed. After another Oak Hill hike, we visited the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company, walked along the Freedom Trail, danced to some street music, played in a fountain (yes, Azlan got soaked and stayed that way), ate delicious pizza, passed Paul Revere's house, toured the Old North Church, passed the Declaration building and walked through the Holocaust Memorial. There is one quote in the Holocaust memorial that stuck with me:
"They came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me, by that time there was no one left to speak up." - Martin Niemoller
These words hit home because many times I am scared to speak out on what I believe to be true or I hesitate to speak when I think something is wrong. But if we don't speak up, history could end up repeating itself. We plan, we think, we think some more but then stop short of acting - not only for big life changes, but for our own goals. I'll start tomorrow, I'll start after the party, I'll get with the program on Monday, Next month sounds like a good starting point...do these sound familiar? I have learned over the last year that we need to act on what we want, we need to face the fear that stops us from working on our dreams. Tackle that fear head on and take personal responsibility for our actions and our own lives. If we make a plan and fail to execute - no one else will do it for us. We have the power to crush our goals, We have the power to make change... and a great place to start is with ourselves.
By the time we finished our excursions, my parents were ready for a pick up at the airport. We had dinner at the Boston Sail Loft before heading back to the Glamper and packing up for our next moving day...next stop Maine!
Stay Tuned for Part 2!