Day: October 31, 2016

Lancaster Nissan

I have found Nissan dealers to have great service, and Lancaster follows the tradition. Excellent “Quick Lane” to change my oil. They found a leaky Pinion Seal and replaced it on Monday. I have not been able to post for over a week due to no wifi or poor wifi, but they have great wifi here and I was able to catch up:}

Lancaster County Day 2

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32℉ at 4:30

Saturday, October 29, 2016

I can’t get on the WIFI….again! We did laundry in the Beacon Hill Campground. They have a very nice laundry with good machines. The showers are also very good. You can borrow movies in the office, so we watched Robert Duval in “One Night in Mexico”, which was fun, but won’t win any awards. We get 20 channels on TV here, a first, but we just kept rotating channels trying to find something. 

In need of a haircut, I went over to Paradise. It didn’t open until 9:00 on Saturdays, so I walked around a bit. When I got back, Ken was opening up. Walking in to the two-chair shop, I was struck by hundreds of records in the small room. CD’s were arranged in boxes, some being for sale. As his new kitty tugged on my blue jeans, Ken began cutting. Of course we talked about all the music. There was an impressive array of equipment in the corner – turntable, receiver, CD player etc. He has collected since he was a kid. He said he has rooms of music in his home. He was proud of his new laser record player he got from Japan for $13,000 that will play very old, scratched up records without a flaw. He played a CD he recorded from WWII 78’s. It was flawless. I bought some CD’s as we continued to talk. This is a man who loves music, a very interesting fellow. I am so happy I needed a haircut! If you are ever in Paradise and need a haircut, or you love music, go see Ken at Sweigart Barber Shop!

We went into Intercourse (finally). Martha wanted to visit the bike shop to get some routes to ride. I walked the street and got a few pictures. I counted 8 tour busses parked a block off Main Street. It’s only a few blocks of town, but it looked like Bar Harbor. The Amish were also doing business and shopping on this Saturday morning, carriages and horses in the middle of busy traffic. They are allowed to use bikes without pedals, so we saw several using them. We drove up to Kauffman’s Store. Although the parking lot was full and a tour buss across the street, they moved people through quickly. All kinds of apples, apple cider, a great meat counter and all sorts of other goodies. We loaded up.

By the time we got back and had lunch, I didn’t feel so good and had a nice, long nap. Martha went for a bike ride through the beautiful farms. I hated missing that, but felt better. As you ride through the farms, you can find all kinds of treasures. Vegetables are everywhere, along with pumpkins, and watermelon. Some have baked goods, pies and breads. Some leave things on the corner to buy on the honor system. We passed a shoe store with five buggies parked in the front, and there is a hat store on a farm up the hill from our campground. 

Lancaster County

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42℉ at 5:00

Friday, October 28, 2016

The weather report in Lancaster, PA looks good for the next week, so we packed up and headed south. We booked a campground in Intercourse that only had one spot left, but they have WIFI and a laundry.  It’s only a two-hour drive……..except the main highway, 476, is a toll road only open to EZ Pass, and we didn’t have one. It took us a while to figure out where to go, but the drive turned out to be very pretty until we got in the Allentown area where traffic got crazy. There were a lot of turns on the route, so by the time we found the little campground, we were frazzled. Intercourse is a small town, but very cute. 

Once we got settled, I searched for a Nissan dealer and found one in Lancaster, 20 minutes away, and they have a “Quick Lane” so we could get the oil changed. We took the little roads to see beautiful, very neat farms. Horse-drawn carriages startled me on the roads where the speed limit is 45, and no one was going that slow. It will be fun to bike or drive some of these back roads. 

Fortunately, the Nissan people could take us and change the oil while we waited in their nice reception area for an hour and a half. They found a leak in the transfer case, so we will return Monday to get that fixed. He said the brakes are also getting a bit thin. This truck has driven many mountains on this trip and a previous trip across Canada for four months. I am surprised I have any brakes at all! I downshift a lot going down steep hills, and we have been down a bunch of them. No doubt it is a lot of wear and tear on the transmission

We left at rush hour on a Friday afternoon and the traffic was crazy. One accident tied up traffic for a while. I was surprised by the size and amount of traffic in Lancaster. I remembered it being a lot smaller. Driving through the city, I felt like I was in Baltimore. I later learned the population is 60,000.

The campground girl had recommended an Amish restaurant, so we went there for dinner, imagining great, fresh vegetables and home-style cooking. What we got was fast service and so-so food. The place was packed with a line out the door. The price was good, but I felt like cattle being fed. 

Taking many turns by the GPS that was probably set to avoid main highways, we passed a lot of Amish carriages. It was dark, and it’s hard enough to see on these little roads, but the thought of hitting a carriage was not good. I crept along. Why were there so many out here in the dark? They have lights and blinking caution lights, but still you are not sure what is in front of you. Locals driving here are like anywhere else on Friday night – anxious to get home, some rabid to get somewhere in a hurry, one passing me on a yellow line. They don’t seem to slow down a bit for the carriages. By the time we got back to the campground and driving all afternoon, I was struck by the huge clash between a group of people trying to simplify life and a frantic modern world of growing population, heavy traffic, McDonalds, Walmart  and every other chain store. This is not a pretty clash. I guess we are not helping the situation as there are plenty of tourists here to see beautiful farms. As I got ready to step into the trailer, I heard trotting hooves climbing the steep hill on the road beside us. Waiting to finally see him, it was a very cool sound in the night. Soon, he passed by with a trotter’s pace, lights blinking as he went by. 

Lehigh Gorge

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With heavy rains, we couldn’t explore much, but we did walk down the the Lehigh River. It is a 32-mile gorge with raft rides and bike paths. You can put your bike on a train and then ride back to the town, Jim Thorpe, a 25-mile trip with a slight down hill train slope. You can also kayak or canoe it, but it is not for amateurs. A lot depends on how much water is released from the dam. There are a number of free shuttles to carry bikers to towns for lunch or exploring. 

The Lehigh River flows for over 100 miles and is the largest tributary to the Delaware River. According to there is a healthy population of brown and rainbow trout. There are also smallmouth bass “that fight like hell.”

Between the Delaware River and the Lehigh River and Hickory Run State Park, this area has a lot to offer. I’m sure it gets busy in the summer.

Jim Thorpe

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32℉ and raining at 5:00 am

Thursday, October 27, 2016

It was raining hard with a mix of ice. We read for a while, but by 11:00 I was stir-crazy, so we drove to the Boulder Field in the park. I’ve never seen anything like it. It looks like a lake when you drive up, but it’s a huge lake of boulders. It looks like the end of where the glaciers pushed rocks, but they say the glacier ended a mile to the north. The theory is it was a huge rock that through freezing and thawing for thousands of years, it broke up into these boulders. There was plenty of water when the glaciers melted and that smoothed them. OK. 

Then we drove to the town of Jim Thorpe. A small park greeted us with two statues of the great Jim Thorpe. He was an indian of the Sac and Fox nation in Oklahoma. His given name being Wa-Tho-Huk, which means bright path and it sure was a bright path. He was christened Jacobus Franciscus Thorpe. His father was a great athlete, beating all challengers in running, jumping and throwing in the Indian Nation. Jim was sent to the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania. 

Quoting from Jim Thorpe on

“Growing up, he never liked being inside. He learned to hunt and trap at an early age, developing his legendary endurance via extensive excursions through Indian territory. His aversion to the classroom was exacerbated by the early deaths of his twin brother and both parents, and his stints in the Haskell Institute in Kansas, the local Garden Grove school and the Carlisle Indian Indistrial School were marked by long bouts of truancy. 

As a student at Carlisle in the spring of 1907, Thorpe joined a track-and-field practice session on campus. Clad in his work clothes, he launched himself over a 5’9” high bar to break the school record, catching the attention of coach Pop Warner. Thorpe soon became the star of the track program, and with his athletic skills he also enjoyed success in baseball, hockey, lacrosse and even ballroom dancing.

However, it was football that propelled Thorpe to national renown. Starting at halfback, place kicker, punter and defender, Thorpe led his team to a surprise victory over top-ranked Harvard in November 1911, and fueled a blowout of West Point a year later. Carlisle went a combined 23-2-1 over the 1911-12 seasons, with Thorpe garnering All-American honors both times. 

Named to the U.S. Olympic Games in Stockholm, Sweden, Thorpe burst out of the gate by winning four of five events to claim the gold medal in the pentathlon. A week later he overwhelmed the field in the decathlon, winning the high jump, the 110-meter hurdles and the 1,500 meters despite competing in a pair of mismatched shoes. Finishing the three-day event with a total of 8,412 points (of a possible 10,000), a mark that bested the runner-up by nearly 700 points, Thrope was proclaimed by Sweden’s King Gustaf V to be the greatest athlete in the world. (from Jim Thorpe Park: he was awed and humbled by the ceremony and replied, “Thanks King”)

Thorpe was honored with a ticker-tape parade in New York City as part of his hero’s welcome home. However, a newspaper report the following January revealed the Olympic champion had been paid to play minor league baseball in 1909 and 1910. Despite his handwritten plea to the Amateur Athletic Union, Thorpe was stripped of his amateur eligibility and forced to return his gold medals, his historic performance stricken from the Olympic record books.”

I can’t remember what the sign in the park said, but I think he made $2 a game. In his plea, he said he didn’t care about the money and had no idea of the ramifications. He just wanted to play sports. I won’t write it all here, but has an excellent write-up, and you can read a bit of his incredible athletic and personal traits from the pictures. It’s a wonderful story.

Catskills to Poconos

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33℉ with 3-5 inches of snow in the forecast

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

We drove west through the Catskills, then turned south on 47. We drove the length of the Catskills reservoir that supplies New York City with water. We noted in the last couple of posts about the lack of rain in this area. My pictures don’t do justice to the dramatic low levels of this water system. You can see a bunch of small fishing boats to give you some perspective. Every stream we have crossed is very low or dry. This is home of some of the most famous trout streams in America. There was still water in these, but not a lot. A little research shows that New York consumes 1.1 billion gallons of water from this reservoir. I thought about the similarity to Mexico City, which was built on an area surrounded by huge lakes that are not gone, and underground reservoirs continue to drop. 

Then we drove through the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. This is a very pleasant drive through a well-managed wildlife area along the Delaware River, which looks quite pretty. Fields are planted for wildlife, but it also is a great buffer for the river. A nice bike trail runs the whole length, and trails go all through it. 

Stopping for lunch, we studied options for places to stay the night and agreed on Hickory Run State Park in Pennsylvania, open until the first of November. It will be cool here for a couple of days with rain/snow tomorrow. Then it turns nice for a week. It looks like a very nice park with a lot of trails. Although it was chilly, we built a fire and enjoyed sitting out for a while. Martha cooked sweet potatoes in the fire along with pork chops and peas. 

The showers are closed for the season and there are no flush toilets, so I’m pretty sure Martha will be wanting to move on tomorrow. For the first time, she took a shower in the trailer! Out came the exercise ball, the roller log, LL Bean bag  and the yoga mat. I asked how it was and she said, “Great”.

West to Catskills

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32℉ at 5:00

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

We decided to head west through the Green Mountains on Rt. 7, then 9 to 87 south to 23 that took us through Haines Falls, then 214 south into the heart of the Catskills. It was a pretty drive all around. The East side of the Green Mountains were without leaves, yet they were still pretty. At the top of the highest mountain there was a viewing area, but it was on the wrong side of a busy highway with no room for a trailer. After crossing over, there was snow on the ground. They probably got 4-5 inches a couple of days ago. As we drove down the west side, there were leaves and colors. I don’t know what the story is on the town of Bennington, but it is beautiful, and unlike some of the other towns, this is an affluent area.

Well, I hate busy interstates, and 87 goes to New York City. It’s a small interstate with a lot of traffic and a speed limit of 65. The wind was blowing hard, moving us around just a bit, but it makes you concentrate. The scenery was pretty following the Hudson River, but I was happy to turn off on 23 at exit 21. Driving through a wilderness area on a very narrow, winding road with huge drop-offs and road construction, made the palms sweat a bit. It was obvious everything was very dry. There was very little water in any stream. Then winding down 214 south through the Catskills, we arrived at Phoenicia, a small town and a campground that was still open. There is no WIFI and no cell phone service in this little river gorge. We had no WIFI in New Hampshire either, at least that my Mac would let me get on. 

We checked into the campground and talked with George, the owner. He said they hadn’t had rain all summer, and the river we were camped on should be two feet higher. He only takes cash, so we went up to town, a block away, got some cash and walked the two blocks of the cute, little town. Martha went into the library to get WIFI and emails while I roamed the interesting hardware store next door that had a sign on the front for guided fishing trips. A young girl worked the counter. She was bored to death, working her cell phone. 

A few doors up we went into a deli and baked goods shop. A german lady greeted us. I first noticed what appeared to be a banana coated with almond slivers with an edge of chocolate. “Now that’s the way to eat a banana!” I said. With a strong german accent, she said, “Not a banana”. I never quite got the name of it, but it was almond paste with coconut inside and I bought one. Martha bought a double cookie filled with jam and dusted with powdered sugar. We also bought some roast beef and some wild berry jam. I wanted a few other things, but resisted. The lady smiled as we left and said, “Enjoy your not a bananna”. 

There were a couple of restaurants, a grocery store, a gas station and a wine shop. What else do you need? With a forecast of 4-5 inches of snow tomorrow night, Martha wants to escape to the south, so we will wind our way south through the park tomorrow and head for Amish Country of Pennsylvania, and hopefully some WIFI.

Kilburn Loop Trail

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44℉ at 5:00, high of 57, windy

Monday, October 24, 2016

We walked the Kilburn Loop Trail in Pisgah State Park. It is a 6.2 mile hike through beautiful forests of Hemlocks and Beach trees. You pass Kilburn pond, which is very pretty. it took us about 3 1/2 hours with a stop for lunch. No bears, no moose, no ducks, no deer. The wind was blowing pretty hard, but we couldn’t feel it much on the forest floor. The trees, however, were talking, rubbing against each other as they moved with the wind. It’s pretty cool the different sounds they can make. It would be eerie if you were camping on Halloween night! 

We hadn’t hiked for two days, so it felt good to get out. By the end of the last uphill climb of .7mi, we were tired. We drove back down to the Connecticut River to investigate the bike trail along the river. We walked on a side trail that goes out through a marsh. It was lined with 10-foot bushes loaded with berries of several sorts. Tons of little birds were stocking up for the winter. A photographer passed us, complaining the little birds wouldn’t sit still long enough for him to get any pictures. They are no doubt tough to catch. The strategy might be just to sit down and wait for them to come to you. There were several beaver huts, but this beautiful area was strangely devoid of any ducks or geese. I haven’t seen a flight of geese or ducks at any time along the Connecticut. 

Back at Hinsdale Campground, Martha did the laundry while I cleaned out the cook box that had gotten wet with the snow and rain. It is a toolbox I set on its side for better access, but that means the lid doesn’t prevent water from getting in. The bikes and the cook box are covered with a tarp, but the heavy snow was too much for it. Sagging with the weight, it allowed water to get in along the sides. I had everything spread out all over the place when Dave (who works the camp) came by. He looked the place over strangely, and I wondered if I had violated some code. He asked if Martha was doing laundry and if I had my water connected. Then I asked him what was up. There was going to be a freeze tonight and he was going around cutting off the water so the pipes don’t freeze. The campground closes this weekend, and this seems to be the determining factor for closing – freezing pipes. I’m not sure how old Dave is, but we got to talking about the area and his growing up here, fishing the pond where we had hiked. It was hard to get all the facts right as he talked. I didn’t want to stop him because the stories were good. A very nice gentleman, and obviously smart, I wondered why he worked the campground as the manager came up. They went over to several campsites turning water off. When he came back, he continued. He works about half the time for pay and half as a volunteer. He said he would go crazy if he sat at home all the time. He and his wife had sold their house, bought a big camper and went on the road for 10 years, thus his great knowledge about campgrounds. “Oh, I’ve been to Virginia many times”. Nova Scotia was one of his favorites. He worked for the State, the Federal government and different companies that dealt with hazardous waste – mostly cell phones. When ownership of his plant changed hands, they always wrote in the contract that Dave had to stay. Government regulations hold people like Dave responsible forever if something goes wrong with the hazardous waste. He talked about being retired and on the road, when the company called him to help solve a problem, so he came back for a month to solve the issues. I was enjoying his great stories, but he had to go cut water off and I was getting the evil eye from the laundry lady. Dave was pleased when I gave him a coffee cup. I hope he is still here should we pass through again.

Connecticut River Valley

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We broke camp and headed out, stopping at the office to say goodbye to Jack. No one was there, so we wrote a note and left it on the door. Living Waters Campground is a nice one – not very large, reasonably large campsites, and any time you can camp next to a trout stream is good. It’s unusual to have a deli at a campground, so that is nice. There is much to explore in the White Mountains, and they are very pretty. Probably there are too many people here in the summer for me, but there are many hikes that would be fun. 

We followed the Ammonoosuc River on Rt. 302. This is a beautiful river that would be fun to float. It doesn’t look too complicated, but with just enough to make it interesting. A trout stream where we camped, there surely are smallmouth down lower. It was raining, but trees and mountains were coated with snow, fall colors still showing through. It is a sometimes rough road, but pretty. Quaint little New England towns with grassy malls broke up the farmland. After a while it turned into the Connecticut River. I was surprised by how pretty this river is. With a beautiful farm valley, the river is also beautiful and would be pretty to float. Scattered marshlands followed the river. Islands dotted the wandering river, and a rails-to-trails bikeway followed it forever. We passed a field with more turkeys than I have ever seen in one place. There were two groups of maybe 30 in each. With someone following closely behind, I couldn’t stop, but when I saw another group, I pulled over for a few pictures as traffic zoomed past. This is a scenic byway, but there are no pullovers or viewpoints. You just say, “Oooo, Ahhh” and have to keep driving. 

We crossed over the river at Lebanon, a pretty town, and stopped at a large boat launch place for lunch. The winds were howling, but it was 57 degrees. A guy was zooming around on his jet-ski. We drove down the Vermont side, with Pisgah State Park as a stopping point. We passed a number of campgrounds, but found Hinsdale Campground to be open. The owner, Dave, checked us in. There are few travelers staying here, but lots of full timers. It closes next weekend. The attraction seems to be ATV trails. He told us about a hike in Keene with spectacular views. With no more information than that, we drove 30 miles to Keene. It is a very interesting, large town with a pretty downtown area. We had no idea where to go. A quick Google search showed a ton of rails-to-trails, but no mountain or high hikes. I was tired now with all this wandering, so we headed back. We had seen a leather store on the way over, and Martha has been wanting a pair of furry moccasins to keep her warm on the cold morning floor. If you want leather anything, Howard’s Leather Store is a great place with reasonable prices. It is a family-run business for 50 years. Hats of all sorts, boots, vests, coats, wallets, pants and gloves. I could have bought five or six hats, but wasn’t in a buying mood. Fortunately Martha found a pair of moccasins she liked. We asked the ladies about Dave’s suggested hike, and they knew exactly what he was talking about. It was an obscure road that is now paved, but the views are great. I was shot now and ready for cocktail hour. 

On the way back, we stopped at a trailhead saying something about wildlife viewing area on the edge of Piscah State Park. A young man was coming off the trail so I asked him if he had seen any wildlife. No, he hadn’t seen anything significant, but raved about how pretty it was, showing us on the map where he went. There were lakes and small mountains and forests and plenty of places to explore. He had driven from Boston for the day to hike, an hour and a half drive. His enthusiasm was contagious. We’ll have to try it tomorrow.

White Mountains

High of 56℉

It has been raining for two days, sometimes very hard, sometimes very light. Driving in from Naples, we stopped in Conway, a busy place with tourists everywhere. The train is the thing right now as it travels through the mountains with the leaves still in color, but they are past their peak now. We visited the busy train station, then went across the street for a coffee and bagel. Main Street is long and lined with shops, restaurants, ski outfitters, clothing and fudge shops. This place is active all year long with ski slopes busy in winter. 

Rt. 302 goes through the park, and despite the rains it was still pretty. Big, impressive mountains surround you as we drove through Crawford Notch. I stopped at a viewpoint and took a picture. A Jeep was stopped with the hood up and a man leaning into the engine compartment. As I approached, he asked if I had jumper cables. I did, so we hooked them up with no effect. Fooling with everything for 30 minutes, his wife was finally able to get cell coverage enough to call AAA. I hate to leave a guy in that trouble, but we tried everything we could. Probably a bad solenoid or starter. 

Martha called the only campground that was supposed to be open, but they were closed. At the junction of 112 and 3 we pulled into Living Water Campground. While Martha talked with the nice owner, Jack, I looked around. This would do fine, and he was  thankfully open. There was a nice deli and pizza shop connected. It was the middle of the day, so we could have driven on, but we would have missed seeing the mountains. Jack told us about the scenic drives through the park. He said to pick any camp spot we liked. He had shut the water off, and there is only one bathroom, but it has a shower. He said there is 30 amp power behind the office, but the prettiest places are by the river with 15 amp. He gave us the weather forecast with a low of 34 and a little snow for tonight, but getting colder over the next five days with snow every day. We selected a beautiful, grassy spot beside the Ammonoosuc River. 

After lunch, we drove part of the loop Jack had suggested. Some of the roads are main highways going through. Some are smaller, and one you pay $36 to drive through. With rain and fog, we decided not to drive that one today. Still no moose sightings, but we did see three big turkeys. These are very pretty mountains with little towns scattered throughout. Each road seemed to follow a beautiful river, although they were all very low, so they obviously need the rain. 

We went to the deli for carrot and ginger soup and a pizza. Martha was able to do some exploring on her iPad. New Hampshire and Vermont were also slated for some light snows, and open campgrounds were hard to find. On Wednesday the low will be 18℉, and snow on four of the next six days. With highs in the upper 30’s, there won’t be much accumulation, but we might not be biking this week.

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