Sunday, October 9, 2016

Up, Up and Away

October 9, 2016
Balloon Fiesta RV Park
Albuquerque, New Mexico

I had not realized it had been so long since I had posted to my blog so will try for a quick update.  When we left Indiana, we headed straight to Rochester, MN to visit friends and family.  We enjoyed several weeks there filled with family activities and visits with friends.

After Minnesota, we headed to Albuquerque, NM for the annual Balloon Fiesta.  We have been here since September 28th and will leave tomorrow for home in Casa Grande, AZ.  We are staying on the Balloon Fiesta property with it's close up view of everything but it also means we are in the direct path for a landing zone.  Last year someone lost a satellite dish when a balloon flew too low over the RVs before landing in the adjacent field.

When we crew, there isn't much time or energy for other activities or keeping up with my blog.  We start at 4:30 am and many days we didn't get back to the RV until after 9:00 pm.

This is a photo of the "Dawn Patrol" getting ready for takeoff.  These balloons launch before dawn and collect the wind data that the other pilots receive at their early morning briefing.

This year we crewed for "Squirt" the fire hydrant. While it is cute, it is also very large (over 120 feet tall).  The fabric part of the balloon alone weighs over 600 pounds.  It's way too much work for these old bodies!  I'm not sure if it was intentional but our launch site was right next to a dog balloon.

 Notice the people standing inside this balloon before it "went hot".

We have had a great time at the Fiesta and have enjoyed renewing old friendships and creating new memories.  Tomorrow morning we will leave for home so I will probably not blog again until the next time we leave home for a new adventure.

Friday, August 19, 2016


Elkhart County Fairgrounds
Goshen, Indiana

Image result for frog rv groupWe made it to the annual FROG Rally and are enjoying the chance to renew friendships with our FROG friends.  The weather has been a little unpredictable with heavy rain during various periods of our stay. When we leave here we will travel the short distance to Shipshewana, Indiana for a few more days before we start for Minnesota.

We have eaten way too much food while we have been in Amish Country so we can't stay  here much longer or we won't be able to fit through the door.  We will just need to make one more trip to the Amish bakery so we can have some of those cinnamon caramel donuts for the road.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Waterfalls, Waterfalls, Waterfalls & Wings

Hickory Ridge RV Park
Holley, New York

When we left the 1000 Islands area, we drove to Holley, a small town west of Rochester, NY.
Derek, Sarah and Sophia joined us there for several days of intense sight seeing before continuing on their trip to Montreal.

Holley Falls

The first day we visited Rochester and made stops at the science museum and the George Eastman House.

Letchworth State Park was our destination for the next day.  It is dubbed the "best state park in the US".  The main draw here are three waterfalls.
Some of the falls can be seen from the top of the gorge, but one required a hike and 127 steps down to the river.  It seemed like about 5000 steps back to the top.

For the third day in a row, we went to see waterfalls.  Obviously Niagara was the best.

At the first attraction, we received blue raincoats.  At the next place we
added yellow raincoats to our fashion collection.

We ended the day with these red raincoats for the boat ride to the falls.
We made the mistake of recycling our raincoats instead of saving them for lunch.  We picked a restaurant with a view of the falls and naturally we selected a table on the open air top level.  This area had the best view of the falls but what they didn't tell you was this area also got the most water spray.  It's hard to read the menu with rain on your glasses.  The food was great but I still felt like a vegetable that got continuously misted in the produce department.

On the last day of their stay, we visited Buffalo.  I didn't know there was a different language for that city.  Did you know that the word "medium" on the menu really meant "extra hot"?  We enjoyed the Buffalo wings anyway.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Islands and Castles

1000 Islands Campground
Alexandria Bay, New York

Today we did the touristy thing and took the boat tour around the area ending at Boldt Castle. It was unbelievable how many people were there in the middle of the week.  Obviously the castle is the main tourist attraction in the area.

The main house and the other buildings were very impressive.  The castle is being restored at the rate of about one room per year.

This looks more like a castle to me than a boat house.

Inside were some very fancy wooden boats.

I don't mean to criticize Dave's photography, but I think this photo of the patio would have been better if he had waited for this woman to move out of the way.  I bet she would be embarrassed if she knew she was on the Internet.

Tomorrow we leave this area and start towards the Niagara area to meet our son and his family for several days.  Our granddaughter, Sophia, is compiling the itinerary so I just hope going over the falls in a barrel is not on her list.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Sunshine and Rain

North Pole Campground
Wilmington, New York

We only had a short drive yesterday so after we arrived at the campground we decided to do a little exploring.  We drove up Whiteface Mountain, the tallest mountain in New York accessible by auto.  At the end of the road is a stone "castle" with two arches where cars can turn around. It was so narrow we had to pull our mirrors flat against the side of the truck and even then we barely made it through.

After we parked the truck, we had two choices:  climb to the top over a trail of stones and steps or take the elevator.  We took the elevator (no surprise).

I was rethinking that choice when we found out we had to go through a 425' narrow, dark tunnel to reach the elevator in the core of the mountain.
 Everything was wet and water dripped from the ceiling.  This elevator looked like it had been there a  very long time.  I wasn't reassured to learn that the elevator went 27 stories to the summit.

Once at the top, the view was breathtaking and the nice weather was an added bonus.

Another stop was High Falls Gorge.  It's a lovely walk down to several waterfalls.

The walkway makes the climb down into the gorge very easy.

Once again I forgot that what goes down must come back up.  The walk back was much more strenuous than the trip down.

We woke to rain this morning but when it slacked off we decided to drive to Lake Placid to see the Olympic sites.

The sign said it was real snow, but I think it is just shaved ice from the skating rinks.  The people from Florida didn't care.

This is the only town I know where Zamboni machines wait at the crosswalk to get across the street.  I know pedestrians have the right of way, but what about a Zamboni?

It started to sprinkle when we drove out to the ski jumping venue.  Luckily it was dry inside the elevator for the ride to the top.  The ride on the chairlift to get to bottom of the jumps was a little wet.  Have you ever tried to ride a chairlift with an umbrella?

I wanted to ride one of the large inner tubes down the grassy slope to the bottom of the ski jump.  I figured if I closed my eyes it wouldn't be too bad.  Lucky for me, this attraction closed down just in time due to the rain.

Wonder if these dark clouds mean more rain was coming. 

Unfortunately the sky really opened up when we were only about half way back to the truck.

It was pouring when we got to the bobsled run.

We watched some people come down the run and everyone seemed to really enjoy the ride.  Before Dave could get the tickets the rain became so intense that the run was shut down.  Saved again by the weather.

We had one more stop - the Cloudsplitter Gondola ride.  We had purchased a combo ticket for the attractions in Lake Placid and the gondola was the last thing on our ticket.  Even though the weather didn't look too promising, we wanted to get full value for our tickets so we decided to give it a try.  Needless to say, the views weren't the best.

Notice this empty car arriving at the bottom.  No one was getting off because no one else was going up.

The car on the other side is barely visible.  I think the workers are still laughing about the crazy people from Arizona who don't know about fog and rain.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Ice Cream Funeral

July 30, 2016
10  Acres Campground
Addison, Vermont

Our time in Vermont is about over and we will soon start heading west, slowly winding our way home.  We spent the past week representing our local RV chapter at the national rally in Essex Junction, Vermont (near Burlington). 
We had a fun time at the rally but we are looking forward to hitting the road again.  New England is very pretty, but we won't miss the traffic, narrow roads and numerous low clearances on roadways.

We couldn't leave Vermont without a short trip to the Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream factory.

After enjoying our tour and tasty samples we walked up the hill in time for the interment of a forgotten flavor in the Flavor Graveyard.

 I wonder how sophisticated your resume needs to be in order to get a job writing ice cream epitaphs?

This afternoon we celebrated my brother-in-law's (Bill Mains) 80th birthday with some friends from the Escapade.  I'm not sure he appreciated all the references to his age, but it was nice to have a get together before everyone starts going in different directions. We are heading towards Lake Placid, NY in the morning.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Bridge Climb and Thunder Hole

Pumpkin Patch RV Park
Hermon, Maine

Yesterday we drove down to Acadia National Park.  It was pretty crowded but we were lucky to always find a parking place when we needed one.

There were beautiful views no matter where you looked.  It had been about 50 years since we last drove up Cadillac Mountain, but not much had changed.

This is Thunder Hole, where the water travels up a narrow channel and then crashes against an indentation in the rocks.  The resulting sound (thunder) and spray entertains all the visitors.  The photo at the visitor center was much more dramatic than my photos but I learned that it doesn't really "thunder" except at high tide during a hurricane.  I wonder how many hurricanes they get in Maine.

We ended the day in Bar Harbor where we even found a parking place on the street for the truck.  Since we have been in New England, we have seen lobster rolls advertised at McDonald's.  I don't know if every McDonald's in the country has them this summer or just the ones in New England, but I think I'd rather get my lobster from a place that doesn't have a drive-thru.

It was raining fairly hard this morning so we didn't leave the RV until after lunch.  We took a short drive down to Prospect, Maine to visit the first Fort Knox.

Yesterday was the Pirate Festival but the Pirate ship Roo was still there today.

This fort is a lot like Ft Adams in Rhode Island only this one is much smaller.  It was under construction for about 25 years and never completely finished due to the difficulty getting funds authorized by congress.

On another trip east, we visited the DuPont Powder Mills in Wilmington, Delaware.  Explosions were so frequent at the powder mills that DuPont had to offer death benefits to get workers.

Next to Fort Knox is the Penobscot Narrows Bridge.

This bridge the only bridge in the Western Hemisphere with an observatory at the top.  The difference between this bridge "climb" and the one we did at the Sidney Harbor Bridge in Australia was this bridge has an elevator that takes visitors up one of the supports to 420 feet above the river.  The only climbing was the stairs to the top two floors.


In order to have unobstructed views from the top, the elevator stops two floors from the top and a stairway goes up the last two floors. The entire observation area is glass walled.  The elevator is so fast and smooth that it doesn't seem possible that you have traveled so far up the bridge.

I'm not admitting to getting older but we were very happy to see that elevator - I think our bridge climbing days are over.