Airstream Time

Exploring North America in an Airstream

Posts from the ‘Favorite Campgrounds’ category

The Ferry to Newfoundland

Thursday, July 18, 2019

It was a bit chilly in the morning, and Martha asked for a little heat. I said, “Sure, turn it on.” “It doesn’t come on”, she said. I told her to put it on furnace, but still nothing. I got up to check the thermostat, but there was no power to it. None of the fuses were tripped. We have been lucky that everything else works since the accident, but traveling in Newfoundland for two months, we were going to need heat!

I showered in the nice shower house and walked around a bit. Battery Provincial Park is such a nice campground. We had an hour’s drive to North Sydney Terminal, and you are supposed to be there two hours early, so we left at 8:00 for an 11:45 ferry. We tooted at the office, but no one was in yet.

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We were surprised to see the lines had already started, and we had to wait to get through the toll gate. A nice young lady checked us in while another measured the truck and trailer at 47’. She gave us two passports. We went into the big terminal building and were surprised at an announcement to return to our vehicles. There were plenty of campers and lots of tractor-trailers.

There was a car with a pop-up trailer behind me and the driver motioned me over as I walked by. It was a young couple with two cute little girls. She was from Newfoundland, and they were going back to visit family as they did every year. I asked how it was in the winter. Then they described the deep, wet snows that sometimes made canyons after snow plows had done their work.

They loved the Airstream and wanted to know about the backup camera. At least he could see over the top of the popup camper, but he still couldn’t see what might be behind it. They told us many places to go and things to see when the line next to ours started moving. I told him he had to be an old fart like me to have an Airstream.

I got back in the truck, but our line wasn’t moving. Another Airstream owner, George, came up to my window and started talking. They are going over for a month. He would like to stay longer, but they have grandchildren and his wife, Karen, wanted to get back. He is a 61-year recently retired guy who loves traveling in the Airstream. He would be in Newfoundland all summer if Karen would do it. 

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We loaded up on the ferry and went up to the 8th floor for seats in front of the back window. There was a poor, young lady with an awful cold a few seats over. As she fell asleep, we got up and moved to the other side. 

It was cold on this floor, and we were surprised to see it wasn’t full at all. The 7th floor is the same kind of seating, but was more full. It’s amazing how many vehicles went on this ship, and it still wasn’t full. I asked Martha what floor we parked on and was happy when she said 3. I had no idea. I think they put the tractor-trailers down low.

The seas were choppy, but the big, heavy boat barely knew it. Once we got out in the middle it rocked a bit, making walking a bit humorous. I get seasick, but it didn’t really bother me. By 4:00 we went down to the 6th floor to a huge, nice restaurant for dinner. They had a nice staff and the meal was good.

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It was a 30-minute to Codroy Valley RV Park, a highly-rated private park on the Codroy River. Thankfully, there were very specific directions from the campground about how to get there. I have learned to follow those directions!

Alice greeted us and checked us in. I had given her the wrong arrival date, but fortunately it wasn’t a problem. She said her parents started the campground, and now their son, Jason, was doing most of the work. She said Jason had started a fire behind the office where people meet to chat about the days events. Often there is music and singing. It was another long day’s travel, so we just wanted to rest. First a walk on their pretty hiking trail through the forest. At every turn was a sign with an inspirational quote.

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A Day of Projects

Monday, July 25, 2019

A nice couple had stopped to admire the Airstream. They were from Newfoundland, but moved to Nova Scotia to be near their children. There are no grandchildren yet, but they were taking care of the dog this week. I asked if they knew a place where I might wash the Airstream. They suggested talking to the campground staff.

I had Googled truck wash, but it was questionable whether I could get the trailer in. Hooking up, I stopped at the office. Two young men were in their golf cart ready to start their workday at the campground. They told me there was a Shell station in the next town where they had seen lots of people washing their RV’s. I thanked them profusely and headed that way. It may not seem like much, but there are not so many places you can wash and Airstream, much less one of those big RVs.

I found the Shell station and very cautiously pulled in, getting out several times to check clearance and to see if the arm of the washing wand could travel to both sides of the Airstream. I was joyous when I saw it would. Finding no change machine or credit card way to pay, I went inside for Loonies. The lady said she could change my American, but without the exchange rate. I was just happy to find a place and agreed. 

I took a good hour or so to wash it good. A fellow with a big RV pulled in the bay next to me. Climbing up on the truck toolbox, I sprayed the solar panels and roof the best I could, wondering if it would leak.

I filled up with diesel, and started talking to a fellow gassing up on the other side of the pump. He was from Newfoundland, and wished me well in my travels. He was impressed we were going for two months. I drove back down the road to an auto parts store and bought five gallons of DEF. I asked the nice man at the desk for a hardware store, and he directed me. 

I looked all over the well-stocked hardware store for any kind of sheet metal before finally asking a man. He took me through a closed door into the sheet metal cutting shop and cut me a 3’ x 2’ piece of aluminum. I then got some sheet metal cutters. I have some, but did not bring them on the trip.

I felt good getting all this done before noon, so went back to Laurie Provincial Park, ate lunch and took a big nap.

The roof repair at Profile was pretty good, but there was a depression where water was collecting and eventually leaking. Backing the truck as close as possible, I could climb up on the roof. I usually bring a ladder, but of course this time I didn’t. I cut, placed and riveted aluminum in two pieces trying to level out the roof. I taped one with RV roof tape (great stuff), the other with duct tape since I ran out of RV roof tape. I would ask Martha to bring more. Lots of people watched as they walked by, but I couldn’t afford the time to look up. 

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Then I moved my “ladder” and washed the solar panels. Now I could engage with people walking by. Many said how much they liked the Airstream, and everyone was so nice. 

It was a good day. I got a lot of important things done, but now I was very tired. Martha comes late tomorrow night, and I still had a lot to do, but they were little, manageable things. 

Moving to Roscoe, NY

Friday, June 28, 2019

I told Kelly to go fishing for a couple of hours while I caught up on posting. We didn’t know what to expect for WIFI at our next campsite. It didn’t take much convincing and he was off.

I finished posting, straightened and swept the Airstream. Then I loaded up, cleaned and put the awnings up. I took the trash to the dumpster and saw Wyatt weed-eating around his house, so I went up and thanked him for running such a nice campground. He is an understated, hard worker. Few take care of a place as well as this.

Some might think I was doing the work while Kelly was playing, but that is not the case. It’s my Airstream and I enjoy making sure everything is taken care of and in its place. It’s also a team-effort. If we both did all that, we would have left an hour earlier, but we are here to fish the famous trout streams, and this is surely one of them, and it’s right at our front door. He is also by far the better fisherman.

from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esopus_Creek: Esopus Creek /ɪˈsoʊpəs/ is a 65.4-mile-long (105.3 km)[1] tributary of the Hudson River. Originally known as the Esopus Kill, it takes its name from the Esopus tribe of the Lenape Indians when the Dutch settled here. In Dutch a “kill” is a stream bed or body of water, so many streams have “Kill” after the name.

As I finished up, Kelly came up and asked if I was leaving him. He was smiling and had caught six fish, no great size, but six fish. He used mayfly imitations. OK, maybe we were gaining on this northeast fishing.

We were about to head out as our new neighbor, Bud, came up with his cute, little boy, Jacob. The boy was maybe four and stood shyly between his father’s legs. Bud is an electrician and lives in the mountains an hour or so from here. He loves New York and is proud of its beauty, “if you just ignore the city”. Kelly talked about his son, Hunter, also an electrician. We had a nice chat for 30 minutes.

As we turned to put the steps up, we noticed they were coming apart and about to fall off. Was that the big bang we heard when we hit that big hole on the interstate? We got out the rivet gun and rivets. One rivet had broken, so we had to drill it out. After several size trials, we found the right ones and had them replaced in short order. Before I left on this trip, I thought I could lighten up my toolbox. This was just a reminder of why you need to be prepared. 

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On to the Beaver Kill. It wasn’t a long drive to Roscoe, NY – about an hour and a half. The route took us west on 28 along the East Branch of the Delaware River, then 30 across the huge, beautiful Pepacton Reservoir. Martha and I had driven this a couple of years ago when it was precariously low. Now it is full, pristine and beautiful. There doesn’t appear to be a house on it. No wonder NYC has such good drinking water! We turned south on 208 and needed gas and something to eat. 

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We arrived in Roscoe, a thriving, little town with five fly shops. It felt like arriving in Fernie, British Columbia, “where the fishing starts”, as our guide, Dean, told us in Calgary in 2013. We filled up with diesel, but couldn’t find a place to park the trailer for lunch. The campground, Butternut Grove, was only 10 minutes away, so we went there and checked in with Lauren.

We had to parallel park in a 27’ spot for a 25’ trailer, but we did OK. Well, the back end hung over the line a couple of feet. Lauren said her husband might move it later. Apparently the state inspectors say you must have 15 feet between trailers. We were right next to the Beaver Kill river, our target stream.

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Hunger was making us a bit grumpy, so we went back to town and had a nice lunch at The Courtyard restaurant. Feeling better, we drove back downtown and went into Catskill Flies. Two men were busy tying flies as we looked around. Joe started talking to us as he tied. A board behind him listed nearby streams, water temperature and the flies that should work. 

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A friendly, easy talking gentleman, Joe continued feeding us valuable information at a pace I couldn’t keep up with. Hell, I wouldn’t remember the listed flies on the Beaver Kill, much less all the others, so I took a picture of the board. Kelly and I looked at the assorted flies. There were hundreds of different flies in assorted sizes, all of which are beautiful works of art. If I were a fish, I would eat any of them. I always think bigger is better. I mean why would I eat an ant when I could have a big, juicy grasshopper? But I am not a fish, and a trout might choose to “sip” on hundreds of midges, which are 1/30th the size of an ant. I can’t see an ant when I throw it, much less a midge or a sulphur. Then of course you have to be able to tie it on your line, which has to be about half the size of a human hair. I have a hard time even when I use my dental loupes.

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Joe was busy talking about flies, as we busily picked out some. Caddis, we were fixated on caddis. Then caddis come in probably 8-10 different forms. Sheez! My head was swimming as Joe kept talking. I started recording. What a nice guy! He would be a great guide for a day, but he was going home for a wedding. Coincidently, he was camped in the same campground.

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We decided to scout the East Branch of the Delaware River that comes out of the bottom of Pepacton Reservoir at 49 degrees today. We parked where Joe told us to and walked over to the stream – a river really, crystal clear with a steady flow. We walked upstream a bit and met a tall, handsome gentleman coming out from fishing. He carried two seemingly identical rods. We asked if he had any luck. He said he couldn’t quite cast far enough to get to feeding fish on the other side of the river. Funny, it didn’t look very deep. He said it takes a lifetime to learn how to catch these fish. Charlie was his name, and he was great about telling us where to go and what to use. He carried two rods, one rigged for dry flies and one rigged for nymphs. He had all the right gear and obviously knew what he was talking about. We chatted for 30 minutes. I wish I had recorded that. We thanked him and walked down to the stream.

Hundreds of caddis flies floated down the stream, flopping and flapping to get off the water. They emerge from the bottom at they hatch. Books are written on this stuff. Charlie said they weren’t taking the flies off the surface, so he was fishing an “emerger”. We didn’t buy any of those – Sheez! You can see why these fish get big and fat. These are big, juicy bugs by the thousands. In crystal clear water the fish can see you walking about. They can see the fly line, and you have to figure out what form of the mayfly they are eating. Fish were slapping the water all over the river from halfway across to the other side. 

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Kelly fishing upstream

 

Like a deer hunter getting “buck fever”, we got excited and decided to give it an hour and see what we could do. We hurried back to the truck. Charlie was taking his gear off. We asked if we should wear waders. What kind of people were these from Virginia? Yes, the water is 49 degrees coming off the bottom of the reservoir. We had been wading without waders for a week, but those waters were about 62 degrees. We put on our waders. It was a very hot 78 degrees, and I looked forward to cooling off in the water. I had left my good chest waders at home. There was just too much stuff for this 4-month trip. Kelly put on his chest waders while I put on my waist-waders. I had on a thin short-sleeve shirt. Three more cars pulled up as we headed out, from New Jersey, Florida and Delaware, and ours from Virginia. One car from New York was already parked.

Excited, we slowly waded into the cold water and started casting to rising fish. I brought my small rod because it is lighter and presents the fly more gently – wrong choice. I couldn’t quite get to the fish. Stalking a big fish near the opposite bank, I slowly crept closer, trying not to let the line spook him. Two guys came across to my left, and two guys were above Kelly on my right. We might have been put off by this, but there were plenty of fish, and some big fish.

I needed to get a few yards closer. It was easy walking in this river, but it was deeper than it looked. I was there, just in range when the water seeped over the top of my waist-waders. Suddenly I was cold as the sun went behind the mountain. My short-sleeve thin shirt was no longer the right dress. 

The guy to my left was good, very good, maybe a guide. He and his buddy were talking as they fished. As I backed out, he headed toward the big fish under a tree. He asked my permission to go there! A bit tired of unproductive casting, I watched him a while. He threw it nicely. I wondered what kind of rod it was, what kind of line was on it,how long his tippet was and what fly he was using. No one was catching anything, but he said we would all have fish. I asked when that would be, and he said 8:45. It was 6:30 now, and I was cold. I would never make it two hours longer. 

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Kelly was casting to a fish that never moved. Why would it? Food was being delivered to it steadily, and he was ignoring anything Kelly put in front of it.  He changed flies for the forth time and threw again. Later, as we drove home, we wondered what they were eating. We realized even if you had the live fly and threw it perfectly, the fish has hundreds to choose from and might not choose yours. You just have to keep throwing and hope he finally chooses yours.

Sleepy Hollow Campground

Thursday, June 27, 2019

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Wyatt runs a very nice campground near Phoenicia, NY.

Grueling Moving Day

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

With rain last night, stream conditions weren’t going to get any better, so we decided to move on a day early. Once we got on a main road, we would call Sleep Hollow Campground and see if we could get an extra day. We packed up, hooked up and headed out. With no cell service, we used the truck GPS to set the course for Phoenicia, New York. As we headed up the gravel road, I took a left turn. Kelly said we had come in from straight ahead, so I pulled over. It’s hard to turn a trailer around on a gravel, mountain road, but we probably could have done it in this spot. I was on the GPS route, and after some discussion, we opted to stay on it. Wrong decision! It was a long, curvy route up and over a mountain for 45 minutes until we finally found a narrow paved road. It was a pretty drive, but not what we were looking for, and we were low on fuel. Surely there would be a gas station somewhere. Wrong again.

By the time we got to the pretty town of Mifflinburg, the route took us right through downtown on a narrow, busy street. I wasn’t sure I could get the trailer through, but there were tractor trailers coming the other way – right through downtown! there were no gas stations still! We were headed toward I80, so there had to be something ahead, but there wasn’t. We got on the interstate figuring we would find a station at the next stop, but the interstate was blocked! It was shut down with two trucks with flashing lights blocking both lanes. We had to get off and go right back through town.

In a circuitous route, we finally found a crowded Sheetz station. There were only two diesel pumps and at one of them, a big truck was camped out with no nozzle in its tank. A passenger was walking his pit bull. Kelly went up and asked him to move, which he reluctantly did. I circled around the busy lot to get a straight shot to the tank while Kelly stood in the lane. 

Finally, we found our way back to I80 and it was open. Later we heard on the news there was a bomb threat. Could that have been the reason it was closed? We traveled east on 80 to I84 and then I87 past New York. These roads are in terrible condition! Ruts and jarring holes bounced the trailer around. Hitting a big bump and hole on a bridge, there was a loud bang. I thought we had broken a stabilizing bar, but we never found a problem. With heavy traffic and jarring bumps, it was a long, all-day drive to get about 300 miles. Geez! Kelly called Sleepy Hollow campground, but no one answered, so he left a message. A few hours later a man called back, saying he had a place. 

It was 6:00 when we finally checked into the 100-site campground beside Esopus Creek. Wyatt checked us in. We had requested a stream-side site, and he had on for us 😊. Then he guided us into the site. At the end of a hard day, I was very happy for the help. Wyatt was a UPS driver, and he runs a great campground. For such a big campground, it is very pretty and well-maintained. The year-round campers maintain their trailers and sites nicely. 

All the days tensions subsided as we sat beside beautiful Esopus Creek outside Phoenicia, NY. This supplies Ashokan Reservoir, which is the water supply for New York.

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Natchez Trace From Meriwether Lewis Campground

Seven Points Campground was added to my list of favorite campgrounds

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Leaving Charlottesville, I drove i64 to i81 to i40 and some back roads to Seven Points Campground on Percy Priest Dam and Lake southeast of Nashville. This is a great campground with lots of room, great staff and site-preparation, on a beautiful lake. I had two goals: visit my cousin and his wife in Somerville, Alabama and to explore the Natchez Trace

Driving from Seven Points to Meriwether Lewis Campground took longer than I thought it would. Traffic was heavy around Nashville, so I didn’t want to go into the city to get to the end of the Trace. It runs from Natchez to Nashville, so I was going to drive it “backwards”. I got on at Pasquo, south of I40. I was sorry to have missed the Loveless Cafe, just north of this, but it was mid-morning by then.

The Natchez Trace Parkway is a 444-mile recreational road and scenic drive through three states. It roughly follows the “Old Natchez Trace” a historic travel corridor used by American Indians, “Kaintucks,” European settlers, slave traders, soldiers, and future presidents. Today, people can enjoy not only a scenic drive but also hiking, biking, horseback riding, and camping along the parkway. https://www.nps.gov/natr/index.htm

That’s the extent of what I knew about the Trace, but there is a lot more. It is a 444 mile National Park that you can drive, hike, bike or ride a horse. It is beautiful, changing subtly through different landscapes, soils, hills and bayous. The trees are magnificent, huge and seemingly untouched for generations. There is a lot of history. The trail was originally made by migrating game (buffalo and others) along the west side of the Appalachian Mountains. Native Americans followed these trails for thousands of years before the arrival of the Kaintucks. By the 1600’s, three tribes inhabited these regions – the Chickasaw in the north, Choctaw in the middle and Natchez in the south. 2,000 years ago, they were the Missippians, skillful farmers and great mound-builders, similar to the natives of Mexico. Approximately 10 million natives inhabited North American before Columbus. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Population_history_of_indigenous_peoples_of_the_Americas

For travelers throughout time, it was difficult. With frequent storms, trees fell, streams changed course and there was flooding, so the trail was seldom in one place. Rather there might be many trails. Yet, there are many beautiful campsites alongside creeks, streams and rivers. Today you can drive the Trace, walk it, ride a bike or ride a horse. A casual drive through the park might seem boring to some, but the more you explore, the more complex it gets. There is no charge to travel this national park, and there are three free campgrounds along the way. The Trace itself has many forms. Sometimes it is a dirt road, at times a narrow trail, sometimes deep or sunken.

Lakeview to The Columbia River on 101

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

I had about 5 1/2 hours to get to River’s End Campground across the Columbia River. Three days would have been better. At first I was in the mode of hitting the road and making time, but the road is more windy, up and down with one gorgeous overlook after another. It’s more like driving the Skyline Drive, but with more traffic and a little bigger road. Towns dot the coast, and then Newport is a big city. The picture of Hecta Lighthouse is not mine, but that was the view. I tried to stop, but I just couldn’t get it done. Then there was nowhere I could turn around. What a beautiful spot. My mind took the photograph, and it will forever be in there. This is a beautiful part of the Oregon coast, and I would love to drive it again with more time. Oh yea, and then there is the whole Washington coast I will miss, unless Martha and I come back this way.

Stopping at one beautiful overlook, I talked with a guy who is a landscaper and has lived in Oregon all his life. Looking down on a plateau, there was a high-end housing development overlooking the ocean. He said he takes care of those. Only when it frosts over is he out of work, but it doesn’t come often and doesn’t stay long. He surprised me when he said traffic is light right now, but wait till this weekend. Eclipse watchers are going to be swarming in.

This is a hard road to drive for a long time. The road is hard enough, along with the traffic, but you want to look at all the sites, and so do all the other drivers. I thought one car was going to run into the trailer as they were obviously distracted. They couldn’t have missed by much. I wanted to stop at every overlook, walk the beaches, explore the towns. I did go into a sporting goods store that had some great fishing gear. Talking to a nice kid about rods and reels for steelhead. It is unlikely I would use it, but Martha does want some fresh fish when she comes, and that will be when the salmon and steelhead will be running the rivers.

Finally I get to the great Columbia River. Sitting in traffic, I see the Astoria-Megler Bridge and about had a heart attack. Fortunately, there was construction on the bridge, so traffic was slow. It is 4.1 miles long, the highest part being 196’ at high tide. I will have to cross it two more times as I want to see Ft. Clatsop, Astoria and the Maritime Museum tomorrow.

On the other side, I pulled into River’s End Campground and RV Park at about 6:30. Cocktail hour was going on next to the office. Jean Sundet came over to greet me. She walked ahead and guided me into my campsite, then told me to get settled and come for a drink. I have never been greeted at a campground like this before. It is a beautiful, grassy area, with scattered big pine trees. People were laughing and telling stories, so I grabbed a glass of wine and went over. There were 20 or so people gathered around a huge tree stump that had been polished and smoothed into a perfect outdoor table. There were snacks and goodies, but I never got past the first five guys. Introducing myself to Mitch, Buzz, Dave, Tony and a couple of others whose names I can’t recall now. They have been coming here for 20 years or more. They come in April and leave in October. Well, they used to go back and forth to work, but now they just stay. I asked what they did. “Fish” they said in unison. Some fish in the ocean, mostly for salmon, while a couple of guys fish in the river for salmon. There was a discussion about which is easier, most saying the ocean is easier, but they also said the two guys who fish the river know how to get it done. They said to check out the river tomorrow, saying you can walk across on the boats. I marveled at how there are any salmon left, but they all said there are plenty. I asked about the health of sardines and anchovies. They said their lines are constantly twitching from all the sardines running. Whales come here to fill up. Mitch seemed sad to not be going out tomorrow, but he is meeting a commercial Tuna fisherman. He is going to buy 200 pounds of tuna. He will take it to a processor who will clean them. Then he will bring them back home and cut them up and can (glass really) them. Half of the 200 pounds is waste. Then he is splitting with a friend. Still, 50 pounds of Tuna is a lot! He buys it at $3.00/pound, but He said, “It’s not like that crap you buy in the store”.