Airstream Time

Exploring North America in an Airstream

The Loneliest Road, Colorado National Monument 2

Sunday, July 5, 2020

I spent the morning driving south through the park. It was reasonably cool and the light was good. A gentleman who had recently moved to Fruita, just below us, started talking photography. He said the night skies are amazing. “See that road down there? You can get between those two monuments and shoot the milky way as it rises through the canyon to our right. You might also want to go to Glade Canyon (?). It’s a rough, gravel/dirt road, but your truck will do great. It has almost as many arches as Arches, and you will have it all to yourself.” We talked a while longer, but those two things were etched in my mind.

By 10:00 every stop was filled with cars. However, I had one spot to myself – the bat cave. It’s a beautiful spot. Several of those white-throated swifts came right in front of me. It’s almost like they fly by just to check you out. I quickly switched settings on the camera to get some action shots, but I never saw them again. I guess there are bat caves here. The sign said they navigate by echo. “Try it”, the sign said. Since there was no one there, I shouted “Hello!” It took 3-4 seconds for a perfect “Hello” to return.

Visitor’s Center opened at 9:00, but only the shop was open. Business was frantic, so there was a waiting line. I took a quick look and went on. I passed up a few crowded spots, but visited a few. Then I made the turn to Glade Canyon, not knowing if I was in the right spot or not. It was now 92 degrees and hot, and I was not really prepared. I had nothing to eat, but had plenty to drink. I am carrying a giant cooler that now has three bags of melted water in it and some bottled water and few Cokes. The further I went up the road, the more I thought I wasn’t prepared for this, especially in this heat, so I turned around, a bit disappointed.

I thought I was getting relaxed about driving this winding road with vertical drop-offs, but I wasn’t. I’m OK when I am on the inside, but when on the outside, I begin creeping along, borrowing more than my share of the yellow line. You wouldn’t want to be drinking and driving this road. I looked it up. One article said 2 or three people die each year, some by accident and some suicidal.

I went back for lunch and then to the laundry. It was wonderful to have air conditioning and WIFI! A nice oriental lady greeted me and changed a $10 for me. I loaded two washers and quickly began uploading pictures. No time to think about it. Just upload! I have taken a bunch of videos, but only managed to load a few. I have one going through the tunnels, which I hope to upload later. A few people came in to pick up laundry. She will do your wash, folding them immaculately and have them ready for you. As soon as I moved my clothes from the washers to the dryers, she was there disinfecting them. She kept the folding disinfected as well. A Clean and Simple Laundry in Grand Junction is the name. I was luck to have found it and lucky it was opened on Sunday, July 5th.

I fixed a small bourbon, trout fillet, corn on the cob and a nice salad. It was hot though, and hot to cook. I took a cold shower, well as cold as the water was in the tank. Then I wrapped ice in a wash cloth, applying it to my head, neck and chest. It was 9:00 before the intense sun finally went down. I explored other options for getting out of this heat. It is 8.5 hours to Stanley, but I didn’t really see anything else that would get me out of the heat.

The Loneliest Road, Colorado National Monument

July 3, 2020

It is only a 2.5 hour drive from Blue Mesa Reservoir to Colorado National Monument, where I was booked for three nights of July 4th weekend. The speed limit is 65 on much of this section, but it’s curvy. I couldn’t do it in the truck yesterday, much less with the Airstream today. It is a very pretty drive, up over the big mountain, past the Cimarron River and a long descent into a dry valley. 

I stopped for gas and refilled propane in both tanks in Montrose. Turning north, Rt. 50 follows Uncompahgre River in a high desert. A sign welcomed me to the Gateway to the Canyons. Million Dollar Highway turns south from Montrose, but no time for that on this trip! There is Canyons of the Ancients National Monument to the southwest, and of course Canyonlands National Park and Arches National Park. The list goes on and on, but I followed 50 to Colorado National Monument. 

I arrived at the south entrance to the park, which I knew nothing about. The office was closed, but a sign stopped me: “Tunnels. Clearance 18’ in the middle and 10’6” on the side”. Most of you remember I tore the air conditioner off the roof in New Hampshire going through a covered bridge. It’s all Kelly’s fault really. I can get away saying that, because he can’t figure out how to comment. I did not want that experience again! 10’6″ is my clearance at the air conditioner, so probably would be OK.

I read the map, describing a winding climb up a huge mesa and a one-hour drive winding along the edge to the visitor’s center and Saddlehorn Campground, where I was staying. Several people gave me irritated looks for blocking the sign, but I wasn’t moving. I walked back down the road to reread the sign. Yep, 10’6” on the side. I’d probably make it. I walked over to a building with park service cars parked. A park service lady drove up, rolled down her window, asking if I needed help as she put on her mask. 

“Can I drive that trailer through those tunnels?” “Probably” she said. “I am amazed how people drive those things on that road. Personally, I wouldn’t do it.” I thanked her and went back to the trailer. GPS told me it was only a 20-minute drive to the north entrance, so I turned around and went that way, winding through beautiful houses with incredible views. 

No one was at that gate either, but you still have to go through two tunnels. I reminded myself there was a campground up there as I navigated the narrow, winding road with drop-offs of increasing heights. I hate heights. I couldn’t help but borrow more than my share of the yellow line. Fortunately there was little traffic. I drove through the middle of the tunnels, very slowly. With a sigh of relief, I found the top and a turn into the campground. I found A19 to be just a pullover. A huge Class A camper with slide-outs and all was across the street, where a lady sat in the shade reading a book. 

The elevation is 5,500’. It was full sun, 88 degrees with 18% humidity. I couldn’t level the camper, even after trying 20 times. I imagined the lady peering over her book, laughing at me. Sweating and tired, I gave up with 3.5” slant to the starboard. I was afraid to open the street-side awning and windows, but with no hookups, it had to be done. I imagined some drunken person taking out a window, or all three of them. Later the big rig would open his slide-out, further narrowing the road. 

I ate lunch and took a monster nap with both fans blowing full bore. I woke up groggy, putzing around searching for some energy. At 4:00 I thought I would take a short drive and see what this place is all about. My map said there was an overlook in the campground. Perfect! 

It was a nature trail. OK, I need some exercise, so I headed out, tripod and camera in hand. I didn’t have to go far before the trail led to the edge of a canyon. With a gasp of hot, dry air, I woke up. It was a spectacular view of “The Heart of The World”. The Utes treasure this as a sacred place, doing the spring bear dance every year.

It is on a grand mesa on the west side of a big valley, the Rockies on the other side with the great Colorado River running through it.

The Loneliest Road, Gunnison, Colorado

I was tired from three hard days of driving and1865 miles. 700 miles yesterday. I went into Gunnison to get gas, groceries, ice and find a library so I could post. I stopped at a pullover to watch a man standing in the Gunnison River fishing. He had little luck, but I had fun watching white throated swifts flying like jet fighters to catch bugs for breakfast. 

The grocery store was packed. It’s a big weekend and all the touristas are in town. Everyone had masks on, but I tried to get the job done and get out. The only library was at Western Colorado University, and it was closed. With my phone, I can post text, but uploading pictures eats data, and reception is often inadequate for the job. 

I went back to camp for lunch and a little relaxation. At 3:00 I drove about an hour on Rt. 50 across a big mountain to get to Black Canyon of The Gunnison National Park. The road up to the park and through the park is winding and steep. This is not a place to pull the trailer! 

Pinnacle View right on R. 50 looking across Blue Mesa Reservoir
Blue Mesa Reservoir on Rt. 50

The beautiful Gunnison  River flows through Gunnison, into Blue Mesa Reservoir and somehow gets to the other side of this big mountain. As it turns out, it goes through it! A sign tells us of millions of years in development through volcanoes and earthquakes, it used to be a great sea, but is now a river cutting its way through a mountain of solid rock.

I arrived at Black Canyon of The Gunnison National Park stopping briefly at the closed visitor’s center, but rangers were outside answering questions. It is a drive along the gorge, also known as Gunnison Gorge National Park. Looking down into this chasm in the earth is impressive. Rain clouds just made it more dramatic. There was no charge to get in this year, and there was a steady flow of people. I didn’t make all the overlooks as I was running out of energy. I also wanted to see it from the north side. Maybe next time.

OK, The Loneliest Road isn’t so lonely here, and it travels through some spectacular country, especially here

The Loneliest Road from Mt. Vernon, Kansas to Gunnison, Colorado

July 1, 2020

It was going to be a long day. I was supposed to make Dodge City yesterday, but I didn’t. Love my Mt Vernon Corps of Engineering campground though. With all the hookups, nice staff, lots of distance between sites, nice facilities it goes on my favorite campgrounds list. I got off a little later than planned at 6:30. Technology can drive you crazy! I had chosen the route on Google Maps and sent it to my phone as a message so I could easily find it. I pushed the link and off I went, but I soon realized it was not taking me on Rt. 50. Losing 10 minutes may not be a big deal, but it was irritating. 

Back on 50, I found Kansas to be beautiful, with lush, black dirt farmland. As Carla told me, Kansas isn’t flat. She is my shuttle driver for the Middle Fork trip, who once rode a bicycle from Idaho to Virginia Beach. She said Kansas was rolling hills, but she made 150 miles a day in Kansas!

Early on, there was a strange, gray, low-hanging cloud. I asked Siri if there was Saharan dust in Kansas, and I was surprised to hear there was. It’s a weird world these days. I stopped to see one of many markers about the Santa Fe Trail. At this spot, it was crossed by the Chisholm Trail used to drive cattle from Texas to Wyoming. Haven’t you seen Lonesome Dove?

I stopped again to find Pawnee Rock, a rocky outcrop rising above the plains with great views. There were very few fights with the Pawnee, but all were within 25 miles of this spot. 

I knew I was in trouble when I didn’t get to Dodge City until noon. From here I had another 7 1/2 hours to go. Most of the time traveling Rt. 50, you just drive through small towns. I made the mistake of driving through Dodge City (pop. 27,000). I was hesitant to use GPS because it wanted to take me on a different route, mostly putting me on I70, which isn’t far to the north. I70 is not doubt a nice interstate, but 50 is a more pleasant drive…..if you have the time. There is lots of history and interesting little towns of mid-America. But now I needed to just go. 4th of July is coming, when there is madness.

As the day wore on, I passed some big oil fields with rail cars ready for transport. I had seen small pumping wells in the middle of crop fields, but this was serious. The further west I went, the drier it got. There was more irrigation, and the land was not so lush. Houses became more modest, progressing to really poor shacks on terrible land with no water. 

The route follows the Arkansas River, but it doesn’t look like much for most of the drive. I crossed into Colorado about 4:15. Now it was dry sagebrush with mesas and dry washes, more like the west we are used to seeing on TV. Dodge City seems to mark the start of the west as I think of it. 

You know you are in big farm land when you get truck window wash poles – nice!

I stopped for gas in Lamar, and talked to a nice man filling his dump truck with diesel. Was he Native American? He said it was very dry, with no snows in the winter and very little rain this year. It was hot, very hot, and very humid. I was sweating just from standing out there for 10 minutes.

I made Pueblo (pop 112,000) at rush hour. After driving through sparsely populated areas for many miles, I was surprised to find a big city with clogged traffic. Finally getting through, it was a straight shot to the big mountains ahead. After Canyon City, the road follows the Arkansas River. This is one of the prettiest stretches of highway I have ever driven. It is a beautiful river, perfect for fishing, rafting, kayaking, tubing or just looking. I wanted to stop at every bend to take pictures, but there was no time. The sun was getting low now, making perfect light for photography. Being so easily accessible, there are plenty of homes, cabins, campgrounds, rafting companies, restaurants and bars, but I did not see one person on the river. I’m sure it was different earlier in the day and surely will be over the coming, long weekend. 

I wanted to stay here a week or two, or maybe a month, fishing and kayaking. I could have found a spot for the night, but I decided to press on. As Rt. 50 turns away from the Arkansas at Salinas, it climbs a winding route over a big mountain, Monarch Pass at 11,310′. Then a steep, winding route down the other side. This is why I bought a GMC 3500 diesel. It just makes this difficult job look easy. I patted the dashboard in gratitude and appreciation.

I had read about a small stream that follows 50 west of Monarch Pass, so I kept my eye on it. It is one of those streams people ignore, but I’d like to give it a try. I followed a tractor-trailer down. The sun would sink below a mountain, but on the next turn it was right in your face, making it hard to see. This guy has driven this road a lot. He knew where every curve was, and he was a very good driver. It is a beautiful valley, and much greener on this side. 

Driving through Salida, it was an hour more to Gunnison. I was going to get groceries in Salida, but there was no way I was stopping now. Then along Blue Mesa Reservoir, I looked for Elk Creek Campground. The signs are brown, not a great color to read in the almost dark conditions. I put the GPS back on, hoping it would take me to the right spot. At 8:30, I pulled into the campground. Trying to find Loop A, I couldn’t see the signs and went past it. Backing up to turn around when you are really tired isn’t a good thing, but I made it, then found my spot, slowly, carefully, backing into the site. A few wiggles and I quit. It was 8:45 and fairly dark, but there was a big moon. A guy across from me played his guitar and sang in a low voice. Campfires and conversations were to the right of me. I could see the reservoir surrounded by mountains, but I just wanted a drink and to go to sleep. In three days I had driven 1875 miles, 700 today.

The Loneliest Highway St. Louis to Mt. Vernon, Kansas

It took an hour to get to St. Louis on I64. Traffic was moderately heavy and sometimes frantic. It rained heavily as I navigated the southern edge of the big city. You can complain about 18-wheelers all you want, but I have nothing but respect for these road warriors. I could barely see the lanes, so I got behind a tractor-trailer and followed. He slowed to a safe speed as we wound our way around overpasses, underpasses and roads going everywhere. Thank God for Google Maps GPS directions. One wrong turn and you’ll lose an hour. with crazy people driving too fast, we (my tractor-trailer and I) passed several accidents. I wasn’t dressed to get out in this rain, and thank God I didn’t have to. I finally found I44 and it started thinning out slightly. Now the trucks were all business, but I was trying to find Rt. 50.

Rt. 50 is a coast-to-coast highway and a main route before interstates. My goal is to travel this road to Nevada, where it gets its name, “The Loneliest Highway”. I have traveled it across Nevada, and it is appropriately named. Through this part of the country, it is simply a beautiful highway through beautiful country, lush farmland and small towns. America at its best.

This is Amish country with Amish restaurants and furniture stores. They take incredible care of the land. I wanted to stop at bakeries and shop antique stores, but I must get on. It’s Dutch country and New Holland tractor sales. Some parts of the road are four lanes with a speed limit of 65, while other parts are two lanes and 55 or 60 speed limits. For me, this is a very pleasant drive. I only took one wrong turn through an interesting town where 50 turns left with no sign, or maybe I was too busy looking at the sites.

I’m a sucker for Lewis and Clark, so I drove well out of my way to get to Clark’s hill where he surveyed the Missouri River where the Osage joins it. I hiked up the hill to a trail along a ridge overlooking the river. You could hear the river roaring. It is high and muddy and moving fast. I cannot imagine oaring those big, heavy boats up this river. It was hot with 100% humidity. I was sweating like a dog. At a platform, all you can see are trees, the way Clark would have seen it. I’ll post some other pictures when I get time.

I wanted to get to Dodge City, but by late afternoon, I had enough. Fortunately, there is a Corps of Engineers campground around Cheney Reservoir, or rather there are about 8 campgrounds. Still I was lucky to find a spot. 4th of July is coming up. This is a beautiful campground with very generous sites right on the lake. It would be a good place to stay for a while, but I must go in the morning. About 475 miles today, but then I took a nice hike.

Driving I64 Charlottesville to Mt. Vernon, Il

With a clean truck and trailer, I got off at 6:35 am. I remembered 64 being pretty easy to travel, but today that was not the case. There was lots of traffic. Well, normal traffic. Turning off 81/64 at Lexington, it is less traveled and quite beautiful. We have had so much rain, everything is so lush and green. I wanted to stop and take pictures, but with a 12-hour day, there was no way.

Crossing into West Virginia at 8:45, there was road construction everywhere. Bumpy side lanes and frantic drivers through Beckley made it nerve-wracking. There are two toll stops between Beckley and Charleston. I had put an EZ pass in the truck. This was my first time using it, and I envisioned it not working and having to back out of the EZ pass only lane, but it worked like a charm.

More construction, then you’re out, then back in it. Unlike a lot of road construction areas, there were lots of crews and a lot or work being done, with extra lanes being build in Beckley. That might have slowed me down this trip, but it sure will be nice next time. Ol Jim Justice at work. He is going to get the job done in his state!

I crossed the Big Sandy river just west of Huntington and into Kentucky at 1:00. Surely it would be easier in Kentucky, but more orange cones and barrels met me. It’s all good. This major interstate needs it. I don’t know what time it was when I crossed into Illinois, maybe 4:15 after Louisville. A big city on the Ohio River, I was surprised to find little traffic. In fact there was hardly any as 64 goes right through the middle of town.

I would like to have stopped and taken pictures of beautiful farms and lush, green fields across Illinois. It was gorgeous. Looking for radio stations, I found three, all with bible quotes in between songs. More construction, with crews paving long stretches after quitting time. It’s really pretty inspiring to see. Six years in jail for reckless driving through these work zones. 50-55mph strictly enforced with police cars in many of them. Glad to see we have police.

I found Archway RV Park just after 7:00 when they close, but I think it was Kathy who was still in the office. Very nice and relaxed, she asked me for all the ways she could give me a discount. Good Sam? No. Veteran? Well yes, but not retired or combat. Doesn’t matter, you’re good. No papers required. She told me about her father who was career Air Force, recruited to play football as a nose guard!

Another nice lady showed me to my site. I was getting pretty tired, so this was very helpful. I thought about not unhooking, but I was 5″ off level, so I unhooked, plugged in, fixed a glass of wine, made a quick dinner and tried to unwind. It was hot, very hot with 100% humidity. I walked over to Tractor Supply to look for something and noticed a Lowe’s a block away. On my way back, I got 16 lbs of ice for $2.50 out of a machine, dividing it between two coolers. It didn’t take me long to get to sleep.

Waking at 4:00, it was raining. I had heard warnings of flood watches in Kentucky and Illinois. Then it rained hard with lightening and thunder. The air conditioning was on all night, but the power went out. Now I was sweating again. I turned the inverter on and ran it off the batteries, a very nice convenience, though I’m not likely to get much solar today.

What the hell? I put on a raincoat, gathered my stuff and went looking for the bathroom and shower. I found it in the back of the office building. It was huge, one of the nicest bathroom/ showers I have ever seen in an RV park or anywhere else. OK, now I’m adding this place to one of my favorite campgrounds! Really nice people, very nice facility, easy access off 64, ice machine, Tractor Supply and Lowe’s across the street and all the hookups. 5 stars for a tired traveler! 690 miles today – too many and too long.

Coronavirus Projects

June 20, 2020

The Coronavirus shutdown has been a good time to catch up on a number of Airstream projects. The Airstream Service Center in Jackson Center repaired the damaged roof from my run-in with a covered bridge in New Hampshire in July of last year. With a new roof, air conditioner and bedroom Fantastic Fan, it was a good time to update some other things. I know my friend, LeRoy, is excited to read about this. There were some things I had on a to-do list, but as I did one thing, I would see something else that wanted help.

It started with wiring LED lights to the hot water heater switches. It’s not a big deal, but it sure is easier to see if I left the water heater on with lights on them. One switch is for an electric heater, while the other is for a propane heater.

That led to switches next to the door for the “porch light” and the step light. The step light may not be a big deal, because it is a small light, but if I left the porch light on, it could bother the neighbors. It also burns power, which might be OK when the trailer is plugged in, but not when on battery. That’s a bit like leaving a light on in your car, and when you go out in the morning, it won’t start. It is similar to the water heater switch, but each switch goes to a different light, so I labeled which is which.

I am happy to go into the full description of how to do this if you like, even step-by-step pictures 😊

LevelMate Pro: Reading the Airforum is fun, but can lead to more projects. One person described how he put a LevelMate Pro in the trailer. With an app on his phone, he could tell when it was level. There are various ways to tell when you are level, both side-to-side or front-to-back. One night i had to turn around in the bed to get some sleep, as my head was lower than my feet. I put in a LevelMate Pro, and it does save time. I’ll let you know on my upcoming trip west. You can also set the hitch position, making it easier to hook up the trailer.

Pantry: Replacing the slides for the pantry was next. This proved to be a difficult project. Like most things, it isn’t so tough once you know how it’s done. There are two slides, one on the bottom and one on the side. The one on the bottom had rusted and was not running smoothly. The pantry is only six inches wide, making it difficult to work in and clean. There are no releases on the original slides, so you can’t remove the cabinet. It also took me a long time to figure out how to remove the cabinet and slides.

With new slides, the cabinet can be easily removed, and it slides out further for easier access to items on the shelves. Taking from the Airforum again, I added a ¼” board to which a spice rack was added.

Rust: I cleaned and painted the hitch as well as the front part of the Airstream frame, both of which were rusting. I used POR-15 (Paint Over Rust). I like this stuff. It goes on easily and smoothly. Hopefully it will do it’s job for a long time.

Then I painted the steps

Flooring: We use a soft covering to help protect the vinyl floor. It’s like a workout floor that comes in squares that interlock. Ours was 3 years old and looking punky, so I replaced it. It adds a little insulation, making it warmer in cold weather and cooler in hot weather. It soaks up moisture, leading to mold, but isn’t expensive to replace every three years or so.

The toilet! I had a teeny leak in the mixing valve. Since there was water around the base of the toilet, I decided to remove it and check it out. Of all the projects, this was pretty easy. I ordered a replacement seal and hardware (nuts and bolts), cleaned the toilet, replaced the mixing valve, and put it all back together.

Solar system: I have been having trouble with the solar system cutting off, not charging. I would have to cut off the power switch or the breaker and turn it back on, and then it would work…….until it didn’t. Reading about others who had a similar problem, it was suggested to look for a loose wire. The batteries and wiring are under the left twin bed, so I took the bed apart and examined everything. Lew Farber did the work in Naples and did a great job. There is not a loose bolt or connection anywhere, so I removed the Circuit breaker. The breaker never flipped off, but in order to get the system working, I would have to pop the breaker and close it again. I took it out and found the housing was cracked. I ordered a new one, thinking it would be an easy job replacing it, but those big wires don’t allow much flex or give. I made the opening in the wall bigger to give the wires (cables is more like it) room to wiggle. After 10 tries to get everything passively fitting in that hole, I realized why it probably cracked. I was about to crack this one, but I finally got it back in. Hopefully it will solve the problem. At least it works for now.

Next, I detailed and waxed the truck and the trailer. Who needs to work out? Just go out and detail and wax.

Now I think I’m ready to hit the road, leaving Monday for a 4-week trip to Idaho. I will travel “The Loneliest Road”, Rt. 50, which was the main coast-to-coast highway before interstates. I have driven it across Nevada, where it gets its name. There is definitely very little on that stretch of highway. Still, it is very pretty in its own way. Rt. 50 travels past a number of National Parks and other interesting sites. For one week of the trip I will be floating the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. I’ve done that before, and look forward to doing it again. My friend, Ron Lowry, has been doing this trip for 18 straight years with Steve Zettel and Idaho Wilderness Adventures. Steve does a great job and has great guides.

Disclaimer: I get no money, kickbacks, rewards or any other favors from anyone.

Lyme Disease

Here is what I have learned about Lyme Disease so far. The bright red (“erythema migrans“) lesion I had was the site of the bite. I assumed I had just been bitten, but it could have occurred 3-30 days before that, probably while fishing in the northeast US, the classic area for Lyme Disease. It is not itchy or painful. Sometimes it will clear in the middle, becoming a target lesion, but not always. Not everyone gets the red lesion. Once the tick has fed, it drops off, so I never saw a tick.

The bacteria that do the damage are Borrelia burgdorferi and Borrelia mayonii in the US

You can get Lyme Disease again if bitten by another infected tick.

The test: A simple blood test, results within a day.

Treatment is relatively simple with antibiotics. Three weeks of Doxycycline.

Early symptoms: rash, Fever, chills, fatigue, body aches, headache, neck stiffness and swollen lymph nodes, none of which I had, or thought I had. I’m 72.

Later symptoms from:

  • Erythema migrans. The rash may appear on other areas of your body.
  • Joint pain. Bouts of severe joint pain and swelling are especially likely to affect your knees, but the pain can shift from one joint to another.
  • Neurological problems. Weeks, months or even years after infection, you might develop inflammation of the membranes surrounding your brain (meningitis), temporary paralysis of one side of your face (Bell’s palsy), numbness or weakness in your limbs, and impaired muscle movement.
  • Several weeks after infection, some people develop:
    • Heart problems, such as an irregular heartbeat
    • Eye inflammation
    • Liver inflammation (hepatitis)
    • Severe fatigue

The first symptom I had was very weird: (The red bite was on my right leg and lasted three weeks and was gone by the first symptom) I woke up at night with severe right leg pain. I had just done an 8-hour difficult hike up Gross Morne Mountain, and wrote off this pain as normal. There was no pain during the day. I could hike without pain. Then I couldn’t sleep at night due to the pain. It wasn’t a muscle and it wasn’t sciatica. Nothing I took alleviated the pain. It went away as quickly as it arrived in 2 weeks.

Second symptom: Severe left jaw joint pain, popping, clicking, difficulty opening and chewing. I thought I had that for life, but it disappeared in 2 weeks.

Third: Low grade headache and kept taking Emergen-C thinking I was catching a cold.

Fourth: Neck pain, left side (5/10). I was carrying a camera with a shoulder strap everywhere I went, so switched sides or didn’t carry it.

Fifth: joint pain in left ring finger: pain 5/10

Sixth: Mild chest pain riding bikes one day

Prevention: I have two pair of Bug Pants from Lots of people make them now. I stupidly didn’t take them on this trip. They look weird only because they have a foot strap so it tucks into your shoes or socks. However they are very comfortable and they work. The pants and Bug Shirt were developed for people canoeing in northern lakes and rivers to keep mosquitoes and flies off.

Drive Bangor to Fahnestock State Park, NY

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

I95 in northern Maine is very pretty, but it gains traffic as you get closer to Portland. Then it gets very busy. 295 – terrible. 84 through Connecticut – terrible, with potholes and heavy, crazy traffic – a country gone mad! We thought this direction over to I81 would be better than I95, but I will never drive these roads again. The only good thing is that the entire system is being worked on, which it sorely needs.

We stayed at very nice Fahnestock State Park, which looks like it has a lot to offer – lakes and trails and a nice beach on the lake. Natural rock formations make for private alcoves for campsites. We had a whole loop to ourselves. Campgrounds are funny things. At then end of a long day of driving, all I wanted was a safe place to camp to relax and get a good night’s sleep. Although the campsites were marked well, they weren’t your typical back-in or pull-through sites. Having the whole loop to ourselves, I just pulled up the side beside a picnic table. Another camper pulled in behind us. The lady came out and Martha walked up to talk to her. They didn’t know how to park either. After setting up, Martha went over to see how they did in the next loop down, which they had all to themselves.

I was really too tired and emotionally spent from yesterday’s events to join in, listening from the top of a little hill. As they talked and laughed, I went down. They were a very nice couple from Ontario, just starting a trip touring the US northeast. Martha made some suggestions of places to visit and camp and said we had been in Newfoundland. The wife had been there, but the husband had not. He asked if I liked it. I told him how much I loved it and encouraged him to go. I should have given him a card for the blog, as it would give him more information.

Back at the trailer another camper pulled in. It was a car pulling a small teardrop camper. A middle-aged couple from NYC was on their first camping trip. They had just bought the camper, but couldn’t get it inspected in the city. Since the cost was only $7, $6 of which goes to the state, no one wants to do inspections. They had found a place nearby to do the inspection, and turned it into their first camping adventure. Of Oriental descent, the man asked if we had the whole family in that big Airstream. “Just the two of you?! So you have water and a a bathroom in there? We will go park closer to the restroom, because we don’t have water or a bathroom.” We told them if there was anything they needed, to come knock on the door.

The next morning Martha took a shower and saw the Oriental couple, asking how their first night was. Apparently it all went fine. Since we weren’t sure how to get back out of the campground, I drove up to the road. Seeing the wife walking down the road, I stopped, rolling down the window. Now look, we’re in the woods in a strange place. Women don’t like men in big pickup trucks stopping to talk to them, so this delicate, little lady was understandably hesitant. I quickly asked how their first night camping was. “Oh, I saw your wife earlier”, now recognizing the truck. “It went fine, and we slept well, thank you.” I continued to the main road. We had come in on a parkway where trailers are not allowed, so I wanted to make sure we had access to a state road. Driving back down, I saw the husband loading the car, so I stopped and asked how it went. “I had trouble unhooking the trailer. I almost come to get your help, but finally I figured it out. You have kitchen in your camper? And a big bed in the back goes crosswise?” “Yes, a kitchen and table, but two twin beds in back”, I said. “Ooooh, this is not good”, he said with concern. I laughed and told him he is much younger. He laughed and said, “Well not so much.”

After hooking up, we went over the hill to say goodbye to the Ontario couple. He came out sipping his coffee with the excited look of being on a new adventure on a beautiful day. We wished each other well and safe travels.

Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Just across the border from Canada is the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge. I love these places and had passed it on the way up to Nova Scotia, so we stopped in to see what it is all about. Volunteer, Michael Close, explained the refuge with suggestions of what to do.  We only had about two hours for a visit, so we walked the Headquarters Trail, about four miles. It was the middle of the day, but we saw two ducks, a garter snake and some turtles. On our way out, we drove a four-mile gravel road, a narrow, one-way gravel road. We pulled the Airstream, passing two other cars. We stopped by a lake and ate lunch, Martha’s homemade lobster rolls. Next time I plan to hike the wilderness trails.

“The refuge consists of two divisions. The Baring Division covers 20,016 acres (81.00 km2) and is located off Rt. 1, southwest of Calais, Maine. The 8,735-acre (35.35 km2) Edmunds Division is between Dennysville and Whiting, on U.S. Route 1 and borders the tidal waters of Cobscook Bay. Each division contains a National Wilderness Area, thousands of acres managed to preserve their wild character for future generation.” from: