Airstream Time

Exploring North America in an Airstream

Posts from the ‘Driving’ category

Move to Battery Provincial Park

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Poor Martha was tired from the long trip yesterday, but we have a 3.5 hour drive to get closer to the Ferry to the 11:45 Newfoundland tomorrow. Still groggy with Jet-lag, Martha went for a walk around the park. After I straightened up and got ready to travel, I walked down to the point. 

Grand Lake is quite pretty. A person on a paddle board was getting their exercise this morning. It is so quiet and peaceful in Laurie Provincial Park, and they keep it very nice. Still, I marvel at humans who will throw their trash over the fence in a place so pretty. 

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l hooked up while Martha took a shower. Seeing the campground host doing his morning surveillance walk, I went over to thank him for the great care they take of this park. He said they are all volunteers, and they love it. “You must be from the States”, he said. Asking why, he said, “Because you have an Airstream”.

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Stopping along the Trans-Canada Highway for a break, where you can gas up, visit the information centre (a cubbyhole), get lunch and an ice cream.

It’s a pretty drive to Battery Provincial Park, but we had both had enough by the time we got there. Driving in, there were picnic tables near the water and up the hill in the shade, all perfectly-kept. this is a lock system where boats can enter the huge lake, Bras d’Or. 

You always wonder about the next campground, especially when the last one was so nice. We entered the little office and checked in with Jerry. With a cheery face, he excused himself and went out on the back porch. He returned to finish checking us in. I had chosen site #4 from the internet, but you never know what it is really like. Jerry suggested driving around the loop, pointing out site 34, saying it was higher with a better view. Then he said he would be right back. 

Martha asked what he was doing, and he said, “Cooking trout”. He came back into the tiny office with a plateful of grilled trout. then he said, “Take one” , offering us a plate. are you kidding me?!! A friend of his stepped out of a room in the back and said he would bring more. 

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A couple walked in to register and looked at us devouring this delicious trout. Perhaps our luck has turned. Never, never, never have I walked into a campground office and met anyone like Jerry – soft-spoken, understated and with a face like Santa. He changed our mood instantly. 

Jerry was busy registering the new guests, giving them similar options. Martha walked behind the desk to return the plate when Jerry said, “Can you turn them?” She went out the screen door and I quickly followed. There was a gas grill on a small deck. He had a cast iron skillet with butter with two trout cooking. Martha flipped them. As we walked back through, with a smile Jerry said, “Thanks”.

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He was still talking to the new guests when we waved and said thanks. As I got outside I knew that just wasn’t enough, so I turned around and loudly said, “I love you Jerry!” A voice returns from behind the screen door, “You’re not too bad yourself”.

We passed site $4, which was OK, but a bit crowded. All the sites have a view of the water as you climb the hill, but as he said, site #34 was better, so that’s where we went, calling the office after we got set up. A lady answered and was a bit confused. I could hear Jerry in the background telling her it was OK. 

It started to rain as we set up, but we got some lunch and settled in. We drove into the little town and picked up a few things including a cooked lobster. Sadly, lobster season is now over, so we wanted one while we could get it. It was $21. A man in line behind us said you can get them off the boat for $7. We felt like stupid touristas, but then he said, “It will be good though”.

We had a nice dinner of lobster, baked potatoes and peas and reviewed the route for tomorrow. We did NOT want to miss that ferry, as we were booked in campgrounds for the next month. It rained hard all night with no leaks 😊

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On to Canada

Saturday, July 13, 2019

It cooled off in the night, so I got a good night’s sleep. Anxious to get on the road, I made coffee, ate some cereal, hooked up and set the GPS for Laurie Provincial Park near Halifax, a nine-hour drive. Well, it couldn’t find Laurie, so I set it for Halifax. I have three GPS units, the GMC one in the truck that is sometimes possessed, a Garmin I recently added and my phone and it’s Google Maps. 

I wasn’t going to use the possessed GMC, and I didn’t want to burn phone data for nine hours, so I set the Garmin. It said 11 hours, but it had me starting in the right direction. I could check it later. Two hours later I pulled over to find out why I wasn’t getting on I95N. Google Maps gave me a different route, and it was still nine hours to get there. #@*&#!

I traveled some back roads to get back on course. It was pretty, but I was in no mood to enjoy it. Finally I got back on I95 and relaxed a bit. When it said to turn in 100 miles, I turned it off, and then back on when I got close to that mark.

I was still four hours away when I exited onto 1A in a long line of traffic. Was I close to the border?? I got out of line and went the other direction to a Lowe’s parking lot, getting rid of fruits, vegetables and lunch meats. I neatly stacked firewood in the grass. Someone would surely pick it up. 

Getting back on course in the long line of traffic, Google tells me to turn left on some small road. Do I trust it? Shall I ignore it? I have found it best to make my travel plan on the computer, then send it to the phone. Then you are sure, and this is what I did. Was it changing because of all the traffic? A few turns later I got onto Rt. 9 that crosses Maine. It’s a beautiful road with little traffic. Several times I wanted to stop and take some pictures, especially when I got to Moosehorn National Wildlife Preserve, but there were miles to go and lots of work to do.

On my two dashboard GPS’s I saw I was paralleling the Canadian border. I prepared myself for the now-familiar questions: “Where are you going? How long are you staying? Where are you staying? Do you have any alcohol, fruits or vegetables? Any firearms, firewood? I think I’m ready, but it makes me nervous. 

I came to the border at Calais, Maine. This state likes to name places after other famous world places. It wasn’t busy at all. As I waited for one car ahead of me, two agents walked down the side of the truck and trailer, eyeing my toolbox. I had unlocked it and meant to open everything, but never had an opportunity. The officer in the booth motioned me forward and started all the questions. 

He asked, “Where are you from?” I said Keswick, Virginia. “But your license tag says Texas.” I smiled, saying I have been getting that question everywhere. The Virginia tag has a big TX on it, which I think means truck, xtra large. He sang, “That’s right I’m not from Texas.” Immediately I recognized the take-off from one of my favorite artists, Lyle Lovett. I smiled as he resumed the questions. “Any mace or spray?” “Shoot” I said, “I had some bear spray, but I’m pretty sure I took it out.” He motioned me on. At first I thought it might be to the search party ahead, but there was none. I crept forward until I was clear. Then I remembered the last time I came across. I had thrown out a bear spray, and the nice lady said, “Oh you can bring it as long as it is clearly labeled.”

Rt 1A, the Trans-Canada Highway, is a beautiful road here. There was so little traffic, I began wondering what the reasons might be. Was it the economy, the price of gas or that it was Saturday? I passed the turn to St. Andrews, where we had stayed at beautiful Kiwanis Oceanfront Camping, but it was too far out of the way.

I was running out of energy later and knew I would not make it to the Park. I found a reasonable place on the Garmin, but it was 10km away and would take an hour and 15 minutes to get there! I called the campground, but my phone didn’t work. I had been texting Martha. Why wasn’t the phone working?  It wasn’t until later I realized Canada does not have daylight savings time, so it was really an hour later, and I had to turn roaming on.

I finally found a KOA and pulled in. I got the special “walk up” fee, but didn’t complain. It was Saturday and the place was hopping. They had a drive-in movie theater feature that night and a dance. “Will you be joining us for the dance?” “No, I think I will be asleep then. I have been driving all day.”

I pulled up to my spot and backed in. It was just one of those days that it happened to work. A gentleman next door watched, then turned to his friend and said, “Now that’s the way it’s done.” I smiled and said, “SOMETIMES it works out.”

A giant bouncy thing was across the driveway. Kids of all ages were bouncing and yelling. Others were riding bikes around the campground roads. Stuff was going on everywhere. It’s hard to get upset about kids having fun. 

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The Covered Bridge

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Driving north for 4.5 hours put us in Pittsburg, New Hampshire. We drove through gorgeous country all day, but the more north we drove, the more remote it became. It started to look like Canada, and in fact, we ended up right on the border. 

We drove some back roads looking for the only fly shop in the area. It was a shack in the front of a house. No one was there. Now entering our destination, Lake Francis State Park, took us up rough, gravel roads. The GPS didn’t know we were pulling a trailer. We came to a covered bridge with a 3-ton limit. I stupidly drove across. The bridge took out my air conditioner and damaged the roof.

After checking into the campground, it took us two hours of cutting wires and sawing screws to get the busted unit off the Airstream. I was sick at my stomach for what I had done. Then we cleaned up the mess, cut out a piece of plastic from the top of the air conditioner and attached it over the hole with duct tape. The plastic skylight was also badly damaged, so we pushed it out the best we could and taped it.

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I called National General Insurance, talking to a very nice lady in North Carolina, who took all the information. She told me Jaime would be calling me to get the details. My head was spinning, readjusting to the conditions. Curtis Jansen had a quote on his mirror at his house in California. It was from a book by Spencer Johnson about adapting to changing events in life. “You have to move with the cheese. The cheese moves.” It helped me in this terrible time. If I let myself focus on my stupidity and what happened to my beautiful Airstream, I just wanted to scream and throw up. I had to move with the cheese.

The closest Airstream dealer was in Lebanon, Maine, about four hours away. Kelly called Paul at Profile State Line Superstore. He was helpful and very nice, but said it would be three weeks before they could get to it. Head still spinning, I thought of Martha coming in less than a week for two months in Newfoundland. I just couldn’t compute. One step at a time. Fix the Airstream takes first priority. 

I called Martha and told her the story. She took it pretty well, but I knew she was sick too. We finally fixed a drink and tried to sort out what to do next. Move with the cheese.

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.

Heading Home

October 10, 2018

With heavy rains predicted for the next three days, we decided to head back home, cutting the trip just a day short. There has been a lot of rain on this trip, and it has been difficult to keep humidity to a reasonable level inside the trailer. We bought a small dehumidifier and several dehumidifier tubs. Using propane heat generates water: Combustion.jpgThe heat pump does a better job of drying the inside, but not great. Some come with a dehumidify mode, but ours doesn’t. We had similar problems when we were in Olympic National Park, which is a rain forest. It is not good when mold begins to grow. With temperatures hovering around 48 degrees, the Yoopers (also known as Fudgies) said this was unusual weather.

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Site 163 in Taqwuamenon Falls State Park

With all the rain, we have actually been very lucky to be able to see and do things. Most of the rains, especially the heavy rains) have come at night. Though the days have been cloudy, we could hike or get out and explore. Now with six inches of rain predicted over the next three days, there is little chance of that. 

We headed south on 123, across the 5-mile long Mackinac Bridge and south on I75, which is very pretty and pleasant in the northern section. Then on to 23 south to Ann Arbor, Toledo and Columbus, where we stayed at Alum Creek State Park. It was still cloudy and rained during the night. Waking up early, we opted to go tough it out and go through Columbus in rush hour. Ohio is famous for its orange barrels and road construction. There was plenty in Delaware, now a bedroom community of Columbus, and plenty on the south end of 71. By the time we got back on 23, things calmed down. 23 and 35 are very pretty roads without a lot of traffic, and you can go 65mph. Martha offered to drive for an hour for the first time pulling the Airstream!! We picked up I64 north of Charleston, WV along with now tropical storm Michael, following both all the way home. I’m always amazed how people continue to drive top speeds in pouring rain, and we saw several accidents. 

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To entertain ourselves on the drive, we talked about what our favorite things were for this trip.

Favorite campground: There was no real standout, but we liked every state park we stayed in. Michigan and Ohio have excellent state parks with modern, clean facilities.

Favorite lunch: Colin’s Cafe in Harbor Springs and Brown’s Fish House in Paradise.

Favorite things about the trip: The towns – Petoskey and Harbor Springs; fall colors.

People: The “mayor” of Petoskey, Gary at Whitefish Point, the couple on Mackinac Island who told us all the places to go

Favorite place: Mackinac Island

When we got to Charlottesville, it was pouring down rain and traffic was heavy. Our tire monitor sounded an alert that the front left tire was losing air, so I got off at the next exit looking for a place to change a tire in this weather. At a stoplight, the monitor reset to everything being OK, so we continued slowly toward home, thankful it was a false alarm. I should change a truck tire just so I know where everything is. I keep the jack in the far back of the truck box, so I would have gotten everything soaking wet getting to it. By the time we got home, we were spent, but we were safe, and thank God for that!

Rawlins, Wy to Kearney RV Park, Nebraska

Thursday, November 2, 2017

People ask why I post several days at a time. Most of the time it is due to inadequate WIFI, so when I get to a good one, I can catch up. That might be a campground, a coffee shop or library.

We were happy to wake up to winds that weren’t so strong. I started to fix breakfast, but Martha Jean said, “Let’s go!” For the first time we were on the road before sunrise. From Rawlins, we drove to Laramie and Cheyenne, crossing the Continental Divide at 7,000′. The wind was still blowing hard at a rest stop. Reading the signs was pretty interesting. This area always has strong winds, and it blows the snow off these high ridges, allowing elk, deer and antelope a place to graze.

As we dropped down toward Cheyenne, the entire valley was wrapped in fog. OK, good. A different challenge today! I put my flashers on and slowed down as we headed down into it. Then finally up the other side and out of it, I was relieved. Changing time zones to Central Time, we arrived in Kearney, Nebraska at about 4:30 and 470 miles for the day. As we checked into Kearney RV Park, we asked about this being the Sandhill Crane capital of the world. She said March is the peak month when they are all over the place, as she described it. I’d love to see it. With a good laundry and showers, we had some catching up to do.

Wendover, Nevada to Super 8, Rawlins, WY

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Wednesday, November 1, 2017

If yesterday’s drive through the high sage plains, today was totally different. We were immediately on the Bonneville Salt Flats, with only a break when we crossed a big mountain range. On the other side was the Great Salt Lake. We passed the Morton’s Salt plant with their lady with the umbrella out front. Salt Lake City is a busy place, even on a Wednesday morning. There are lots of roads coming in and out of Interstate 80, around curves and up and down a mountain. Young people in cities drive like they are playing a video game. I am always happy to get out a big city.

Then we were into red mountains, and then wind. The winds were blowing all day, but we really didn’t notice it much while driving. When we came to a rest stop, though, we had to hold the doors tight when we opened them. A flashing sign to beware of 50 mph winds. Late in the day another flashing overhead sign said the road ahead might be closed. 70 mph winds with a high risk to high profile trailers of blow-over. We got off at the next exit looking for a campground, but it was closed. As we sat there considering our options, the wind rocked the truck and trailer. Across the street was a Super 8 Motel. We pulled around the downwind side where it blocked the wind. We went in and booked a room, then went downtown to Anong’s Thai Cuisine. We had a nice dinner with leftovers for lunch tomorrow. I was comforted knowing how well the Airstream did in pretty strong winds.

410 miles today

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Drive Lakeview, Oregon to Wendover, Nevada

October 31, 2017

It was 27 degrees and windy when we got up, and we were feeling the need to get out of the Rockies. Looking up the top 10 things to do in Lakeview, we discovered there was a geyser right next door, so we hooked up and drove over. It’s a pretty cool area where “Old Reliable” spews steam about 100 feet in the air. It sits in a hot pool. There are several ponds on the property that are loaded with ducks. There is a motel on the property in need of serious money infusion. I could have stayed and shot pictures, but Martha pointed the arm to the east, and off we went.

We drove Rt. 140 east across Oregon and northern Nevada, the same way I came out in July. It is an all-day drive through arid sagebrush prairies and mountains. It is more impressive in this direction, looking at the big, blue mountains in the distance. This is Jeep country, where you could drive and camp forever. Best bring your GPS though. You could get lost out there. Houses are few and far between out here, and you’d better gas up before setting out, but I think this is a very cool drive.

Time changed to Mountain Time. 440 miles today

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Brookings to White City to Lakeview

October 30, 2017

Heading back home, across the country, we left Brookings and drove through the Redwoods National Park on our way to Grant’s Pass and on to White City. 199 is a beautiful drive along the Smith River. My new Pickup Pack was leaking water badly, so I called Highway Products to see if they could help. They very efficiently recaulked the sides while we ate a quick sandwich. I got a chance to talk with Steve, who guided me on the Rogue River twice. I sure hope I can get back here to fish with him again. Now we were in the “going home mode”, trying to make miles. Unfortunately, we went the wrong way for 30 minutes and had to backtrack.

It’s another beautiful drive from Medford, Oregon to Klamath Falls. We considered going up to Crater Lake, but one road was closed, it was cold and winter was coming. We didn’t want to get caught in the Rockies when it is snowing. Martha pointed her arm straight forward and on we went.

We made Lakeview by late afternoon, checking into Base Camp RV Park. It is run by a nice couple and was a good stop with a beautiful sunset.