Monday, December 11, 2017

A Change of Plans


In my last post I hinted that we had a change of plans and boy, did we ever. We had just left Steven's parents winging their way to Boston Logan for their flight back to Dublin and we were going to take off and get some more miles behind us. But before we did, we walked over to a familiar RV parked at the Elks Lodge to knock on the door and say hi.

It was Paul & Nina of Wheeling It. We met Nina in 2014 in Oregon, but Paul was traveling at the time. This time, we met Paul, but missed Nina, as she was the one traveling. We had a quick chat before getting back on the road - the last thing we wanted to do was get caught up in Boston commuter traffic. Still, it was great to finally meet Paul!

We managed to get out of town before the roads got crowded and headed to Danbury, Connecticut where were planned to overnight at the Visitors Center. It was here we made the decision to change directions.

Last spring as we were on our way to New Jersey, we bypassed Washington DC in favor of a fall visit. We took a wild guess at the dates we might arrive, then fired off an email request to Senator Marco Rubio for tickets to tour the White House. We had received our tickets just a couple of weeks prior.

But as the day came to point Scoopy toward our nation's capitol, we found ourselves lacking interest. Well, more to the point, we were lacking energy and the desire to take on yet another big city. We're kind of citied-out.

We decided instead to head to southwestern Pennsylvania and make a return visit to Hickory Hollow RV Park, which we had visited in the spring. We found it then to be such a relaxing place in the beautiful countryside, we felt it would perfectly suit our needs to sit a spell. With that decision made, we rerouted to include an overnight at what we found to be the most awesome Cabela’s we’ve ever visited. The inside displays were elaborate and the views from outside were amazing. They should charge for these views!

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Good morning from Camp Cabela’s!

As luck would have it, Kelly & Bill were only about ten miles from Hickory Hollow celebrating their daughter's wedding. That was a whirlwind for them, but once the festivities died down and the bride and groom were off on a mini-honeymoon, we joined the family for dinner and got caught up with all the goings on in our separate lives. Still basking in the glow of a successful and beautiful celebration, our evening was a fun family affair that included Kelly's parents Joe and Barbara.

Having a grand old time with Bill and Kelly and her parents.


While in Hickory Hollow, Steven set out with his camera to capture the beauty of the surrounding countryside.

Once departing Hickory Hollow our ultimate destination was Campbellsville, KY. Some of you may recall that is the location of SDF1, the Amazon Fulfillment Center where we worked last year. Yep, we had decided to once again participate as Pickers during Amazon's 2017 Peak Season! Bill and Kelly would also be working, so we traveled there together.

Having spent three weeks traveling together on our way to Alaska, we already know we do well together. This time, I had a specific route in mind and an overnight in West Virginia, and I asked if they were game. Yep, they were! Kelly didn't even look at a map, but just followed along behind Bill in her Honda.

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A rare view of Scoopy on the road taken by Kelly, following Bill in her Honda.

We had to take a bit of a twisty, hilly route out of the countryside to get to the I-68. From there we traveled to Cabela’s in Charleston, West Virginia. The goal, of course, was our sticker. We needed an overnight here in order to officially count West Virginia, so that’s what we did! The following day we traveled to Kentucky where we arrived at Heartland RV Park in Campbellsville across the street from Amazon.

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Have we mentioned that we love Cabela’s? Kelly poses by the sign and, of course, we had to do a selfie!

Before we threw ourselves into 10-hour days, we visited the Woodford Distillery. We figured at the end of a long day we were gonna need some whisky.

Lordy, we were right!

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We had a fun tour at the Woodford Distillery. Our favorite part was the tasting, of course!

UP NEXT: A Return to the Amazon

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Visitors from Dublin


We said our goodbyes to Cape Ann vowing to return and headed a whopping 33 miles north to our next stop, Salisbury Beach State Park. We chose this park for its proximity to Boston, as eight days from our arrival we'd be heading to Logan International to retrieve Steven's parents. They would be flying in from Dublin to spend a couple of weeks with us to see what this RVing lifestyle is all about.

Before they arrived, however, we had plans to give Scoopy a good thorough cleaning. It's the kind of clean we do a couple of times a year and also when we have a mouse. Which, thankfully, has only happened three times. Steven dreads it when I am peering intently at the kitchen counter and say, "What is this?" because he knows I am looking at some foreign black speck and he envisions a deep cleaning in his future. He had to stop eating Everything bagels because inevitably I would find a tiny black seed and freak out. 

With no evidence of a visitor, this ended up being just a typical cleaning: a little wood polishing, carpet cleaning, clearing out drawers and cabinets, a good dusting and packing away a few dishes I've collected during our travels. I pack away dishes two or three times a year and my cabinet always seems to get crowed again. I admit I have a thing for dishes and that is never going to change.

Before we found someone to wash and wax Scoopy we thought we were going to have to do this ourselves. Since that was not the case, we were left with more free time than we anticipated so we took advantage of it and went on a few day trips to the surrounding areas including the Portsmouth Harbor Light. We also spent time on Salisbury Beach which is one of the most beautiful we have ever seen. As we walked along we could see humpback whales feeding just offshore. They come in pretty close!

Salisbury Beach was one of the most well-manicured places we’ve ever been to. Just beautiful!

Portsmouth Harbor Light

We retrieved Paddy & Elizabeth who arrived right on time at Boston Logan. We had made them reservations at a little local motel about five miles from our campsite. The place had a slight "murder-y" feel to it, but we were only there three days and it had everything P&E needed, so it sufficed. And the price was right.

Paddy and Elizabeth arrive in Boston!

We were expecting to find Norman Bates at the check in desk but thankfully it was a pleasant stay.

We had been watching the extended weather forecast for a while hoping for sunny days during Paddy & Elizabeth's visit, and for a while it looked like we'd get plenty of sunshine. Then came Hurricane Jose and, though diminishing, it was still strong enough to dump some rain and give us cloudy days.

Over the next couple of days, jetlag be damned, we all got in the car and drove for hours as we visited all our favorite places on Cape Ann and beyond and made a trip into Boston. Our primary goal there was a stroll and lunch at Eataly, which as you know is one of my favorite places. Just to add to our dish collection, P&E bought us a set of Eataly plates! I love them so much!

Portland Head Light

The beautiful little harbor town of Rockport, near Gloucester.

Having lunch at Eataly!

Our first big travel day was the first time Steven's parents had ever traveled in an RV. We had Scoopy all closed up and the seatbelts out at the dinette. They squeezed into one side, buckled up and off we went about 130 miles north to Boothbay, Maine!

Taking a picnic break on the way to Maine.

Steven and I had reservations at the Boothbay Craft Brewery, which is outside the busy harbor town. It has a restaurant, cabins and five or six RV sites with full hookups. Paddy & Elizabeth stayed at a super nice AirBnB about a mile away from us. It was a perfect set up, except for the fact that the AirBnB was in the boonies and not walkable to anywhere.

The adorable AirBnB in Boothbay.

Our campsite at the Boothbay Craft Brewery.

Who needs the brewery when we can have our own happy hour?

We had five days in Boothbay and enjoyed visiting the shops, exploring the nearby towns and eating blueberry pancakes. We took a trip to Rockland, where Steven and Paddy visited the Farnsworth Art Museum while Elizabeth and I visited Camden State Park and Mt. Battie.

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The best Maine blueberry pancakes at Bridge Street Cafe in Boothbay Harbor!! We loved their sign!

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Steven and Paddy went to the Andrew Wyeth exhibit while Linda and Elizabeth did Camden and Mt. Battie.

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We spent another day picnicking at Pemaquid Point Lighthouse.

On our last night in Boothbay we decided to eat dinner at the Watershed Tavern which is the onsite restaurant that is next to the brewery. It's an odd place, in that after you are seated and given a menu, you have to go up to the bar and place your order. There are no waiters. People apparently hate this system as is evident on Yelp, but we decided to go anyway.

It's not just the ordering system, the whole place is awkward. We put our name on the waiting list and promptly decided to go elsewhere. We just left without telling anyone, because we couldn't find anyone to tell! We went back to the rig, but since we didn't really have a Plan B, we changed our minds and decided to stay after all. I went in to put our name back on the list just as the hostess called us to our table, so off we went. She never knew we left, so that worked out well.

We were taken to our table which, it turns out, we were sharing with another couple. The wine flowed and the food was good and Steven broke an entire flight of beer glasses on the concrete floor. (Opa!) That was sure loud and got everyone’s attention! We enjoyed talking with our tablemates so much that we stayed out much later than we had planned. We had way more fun than we anticipated given how the evening started out. All-in-all, it was a great night and a fun way to end our stay in Boothbay!

Steven’s beer flight before the incident!!

Our next destination was Winter Harbor on the Schoodic Peninsula. I admit I didn't choose the best route to get there, as we drove on what is surely the most skinny and pitchy road ever. I had to mostly take my half out of the middle, otherwise we found ourselves at quite an angle, which was uncomfortable to say the least. And I guess the road was bumpy, too, as my dinette class passengers were prone to shouting "turbulence!" every now and again. We finally made it after a trip that took much longer than anticipated, but unfortunately our troubles were just beginning.

As we prepared to leave Boothbay, Elizabeth tore up her plane ticket and took the wheel in Scoopy!

Paddy and Elizabeth in dinette class.

We had long ago made reservations at the Mainstay Cottages and RV Park in Winter Harbor and had more recently confirmed our reservations. Paddy & Elizabeth were going to stay in the Boathouse, an adorable and cozy little waterfront cottage while Steven and I stayed up the hill in one of the RV spaces. It was an ideal set up and we were all looking forward to staying here.

Steven and Paddy went into the office to get us registered, but after a while Steven returned to the rig and asked me to step outside. Uh, oh. That's never good. He said there was a problem and that they had no record of our reservation. WHAAAAAT? Of course, we were all dumbfounded! There was cursing and wailing and gnashing of teeth, but to no avail. The proprietor insisted there was nothing he could do. He had a space for Scoopy, but there was no cottage available.

I can't even tell you how upset we all were and the more we talked about it the more upset we became. We envisioned some inept and senile granny taking our reservations and we had a few choice words for her that I won't repeat here.

The proprietor called the little motel in town to see if he had a room. He did, and although he wasn't on the premises, he invited us to go over there and just pick any room and what is our credit card number? He'd gladly take a credit card number over the phone before we even got there! WHAAAAAT? Talk about murder-y!

We decided that we'd get Scoopy parked into her space and drive over to the motel. While Steven was unhooking Toadie, the proprietor came running out waving his arms. Steven went over to talk with him and he was quite animated. I was watching all this in Scoopy's mirror, when I saw them start walking to the office.

When he came back, Steven was all smiles. It's fixed! he said. It was all just a big misunderstanding and the Boathouse was available after all! He said the guy had misunderstood our last name and he thought we were someone other than the Dempsey party who had reserved the cottage. WHAAAAAT??!! Oh, glory! We had reservations after all! Hallelujah!

Although we could have done without the crushing depression that hit us when we thought all was lost, the joy we experienced when it all turned in our favor was through the roof. We even felt a little bad for disparaging granny, but mostly we were over the moon that it all turned out as we had planned. Let me tell you, we had a raucous happy hour that evening! At the Boathouse, looking over the shores as we had long envisioned! Now, all was right in our world.

The cutest lodging on the east coast. The Boathouse at Main Stay Cottages and RV Park.

Lovely Maine sunset in Winter Harbor.

The balcony literally hung right over the water. What a fabulous place for happy hour!!!

Paddy is thinking it really doesn’t get any better than this.

P&E had never eaten grits before and they were a bit leery, but then they had my Shrimp and Grits! Loved ‘em!

The boathouse as seen from the Bar Harbor ferry with the tide out.

After all the driving and touring we had done in the car, Winter Harbor was the perfect place to slow down and enjoy the view. The sleepy little town has an interesting hardware store, IGA grocery store, a couple of galleries, a lobster pound and a few restaurants, many already closed for the season. You could walk everywhere and there was also a Hop On, Hop Off bus that made a loop through the Schoodic Peninsula and it had a stop right by our campground. It was a very enjoyable and laid back place. We managed to visit the lobster pound and picked up four beauties that we picked and put into a lobster potato salad, which we took on a picnic along with a bottle of wine. It was a lovely day.

Finally, Maine gets on the map.

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Giant waves at Schoodic Point.

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Paddy and Elizabeth get a chance to see their lunch up close and personal!

After buying lobster at the local pound in Winter Harbor, they cooked it and we ran home to prepare lunch.

Yet another picnic lunch, this time on the Schoodic Peninsula with our lobster and a bottle of wine.

Walking distance from our campground was the ferry terminal where we caught the ferry for a day trip into Bar Harbor. As the crow flies, Winter Harbor is not far from Bar Harbor, but it is worlds away in terms of crowds. When you think about "downeast Maine" Bar Harbor surely comes to mind, but it has become an over-crowded cruise ship town, in my opinion. It is a beautiful place, but it is so touristy and the stores so junky, it was the kind of place I only need to visit once.

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Bar Harbor was filled with ships of every description from large cruise liners to a schooner set up for tourists.

On another day, Steven and Paddy were up early for the 2 hour drive to Lubec to photograph the sunrise at Quoddy Head Lighthouse. It was a memorable experience for both of them.

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Quoddy Head Lighthouse just before sunrise and a few minutes later as another beautiful day began.

Of course there are gorgeous places throughout Acadia National Park, which Steven and I visited on a driving trip. Paddy & Elizabeth ditched us that day in favor of their peaceful little cottage, opting to take in the sunny skies and calm waters from their lovely balcony at the Boathouse.

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Looking down at the cruise ships in Bar Harbor from the top of Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park.

Bass Harbor  Head Light.

Thunder Hole in Acadia National Park can be incredibly dramatic but the waters were calm when we visited.

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Our visit to Maine would not be complete without yet another lobster roll accompanied by a blueberry pie.

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One last look at the Boathouse and Winter Harbor on our departure day.

Our time with Paddy & Elizabeth went by way too fast. We soon headed toward Boston for their return flight, but on the way we had one more important stop, Trader Joe's. Paddy, a great cook, enjoys great food stores, just like me. In Ireland, Lidl and Aldi are the main stores, there is not a TJ’s in sight! So a visit to one of my favorites was a must! We spent an overnight just south of Portland and made a quick trip into town to visit what I think is one of the finest TJ’s I have seen. Paddy was ready to tear up his ticket so he could stay longer and enjoy all the things TJ’s had to offer. Instead, we made our way to the Elks Lodge just north of Boston, where we pulled in and called a Lyft car to ferry them to the airport.

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A quick trip to Trader Joe’s and then our final goodbyes when we reached the Elks Lodge near Boston.

It was so sad to see them go, our time together just sailed by! But we have plenty of memories to hold us over until our next visit in 2019!

NEXT UP: A Change In Plans