WE MADE IT TO THE MIDWEST!



MONDAY

TRAVEL DAY
YEAR #2 - STOP #47

"The Buckeye State"
is our 22nd visited state



With another 200+ mile travel day we left the Northeast behind and arrived in The Midwest State of Ohio today.


Today's travel had us rolling through the western side of Pennsylvania, north of Pittsburgh, and then once inside of Ohio we followed the West Virginia border south to our next campsite. Throughout most of the day we passed by the huge smoke stacks of large coal processing plants, just pouring out white smoke into the atmosphere. It wasn't exactly a pleasant sight!


On another note, two weeks ago you may recall we traveled right past the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. Today we were within visiting distance of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH. We didn't stop for a visit here either! Maybe when we are back in this area to visit The Great Lakes Region we'll find time for them.



WEDNESDAY - We are here at Barkcamp for just three days and really didn't plan on doing much. We did make it outdoors on Wednesday when it wasn't raining and I got to fly my little quadcopter for the second time since purchasing it before we even hit the road. I'm still learning to fly it before I even attempt to start sharing video from my flights, but don't worry, I'm getting better at flying and the videos will start showing up here soon.

Until then here are a few photos we took while exploring the park today.

“Barkcamp
Dock at the park's boat ramp.

“Barkcamp
Canoes and kayaks for rent.

“Barkcamp
Picnic area near the swimming beach.

“Barkcamp
Our no frills campsite we stayed in.




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WRAPPING UP THE NORTHEAST



MONDAY

TRAVEL DAY
YEAR #2 - STOP #46



With today's 200+ mile travel day from the Finger Lakes Region of New York to the northwestern corner of Pennsylvania, we wrap up our four month visit to the Northeast Region of the United States. We took the time to visit all nine states while we were here, which included a visit to Acadia National Park, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, the big cities of Philadelphia, New York and Boston, the Easternmost Point in the continental U.S., and even a quick 5-hour visit to Campobello Island in New Brunswick, Canada.

We have definitely been in what I refer to as vacation mode and it's starting to wear us down. So our next few stops involve no sightseeing, with no plans other than relax and get a little bit of work done. It doesn't mean we won't have anything to share on this blog, except what it's like to live full-time on the road in our Airstream.


Today we did take time for a short break to visit the Kinzua Dam which just so happens to be along our travel route. Like most mountainous area dams in the United States, it is a hydroelectric dam, that provides power to the surrounding area, in addition to flood control.

“Kinzua
The Kinzua Dam was finished in 1965.

“Kinzua
A look back at ROVER and THE POD in the parking lot.

“Kinzua
The hydroelectric plant next to the outflow side of the dam.



WEDNESDAY - After we were all settled in at our new home we spent a lot of time relaxing outside under our awning. This evening I noticed a couple campers going from site to site with pen and paper in hand, I knew exactly what they were up to. So many times we see campers taking note of which sites to reserve if they ever return to the campground. We did the same thing back in Florida! But now we hardly ever stay in the same place twice.

When they walked into the empty campsite next to ours to try a get a look at the little river which runs behind most of the sites I spoke out and offered them a chance to see the river from our site. It has what I believe to be the best view in the campground and even has a foot path which leads down to the water. They seemed a little surprised I knew what they were up to, but accepted my invitation anyway. We then spent the next 45 minutes getting to know each other.

We enjoyed their company so much we made plans to have them back the next night for a campfire. This time they brought chairs and all the firewood. It rained on and off most of the night and we kept moving back and forth from around the fire to under our awning. They also brought marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers (aka s'mores). We introduced them to the adult version of s'mores by offering a little Bailey's Irish Creme to dip the melted marshmallows in. Let's just say, I don't think they'll ever go camping again without at least a little bit of Bailey's onboard!

“Campsite”
All nestled in at our new home for the week.

“Campsite”
A side view of our campsite.

“Campsite”
Our pathway down to the waters edge.

“Campsite”
Downstream view from our campsite




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"THE GLEN"



MONDAY

TRAVEL DAY
YEAR #2 - STOP #45



Those of you NASCAR fans know exactly where we are when I say we're at "THE GLEN". For the rest of the world I'll just tell you, we're in Watkins Glen, NY. We're not here for the big race, that was yesterday, we're here to actually explore the gorge that is located right in the middle of town. The Watkins Glen International race track is about five miles outside of town in a relatively less populated area.

“Watkins
Our campsite at Watkins Glen State Park

Today's moving day was double the distance of what our average travel day is. We moved roughly 212 miles due west and took an 11 mile detour to get ROVER and THE POD washed at a Blue Beacon Truck Wash located in Binghamton, NY. They have over 100 locations nationwide and for less than $50 six guys with high pressure hoses and brushes did in 15 minutes what would take us several hours to do. This is the second time we have used Blue Beacon and have been very pleased with the results both times.

It did add nearly two hours to our travel time while we waited in line with seven other tractor trailers for our turn inside the wash bay. But with a Wendy's Hamburger location right next door we didn't mind the wait, we just had a picnic lunch inside the truck and moved another 75 feet closer to the bay doors every fifteen minutes.


One other tidbit of information is that during our travels today we passed right by Cooperstown, NY and as everybody knows that is the location of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. I wasn't aware that we would be passing so close to the Hall of Fame, but honestly, we probably wouldn't have scheduled a visit here anyway.



FRIDAY - We have been waiting all week for this morning to arrive because today we are hiking The Gorge Trail in Watkins Glen. It has been raining everyday for the last three days, but today is forecast to be clear and cool. That's perfect for hiking in a gorge, the extra water will make the falls so much more spectacular and the mild temperatures will definitely be more pleasant.

While the the entire trail is only a little over one mile long there are over 800 stairs to traverse. We decided to do the trail the easy way, start at the top near the North Entrance of the park and hike down all the stairs to the Main Entrance where almost everyone else begins because that's where the tour buses drop off loads of tourists several times a day, every day.

Now I know what you're thinking, if we only hiked down, how did we get back to the truck? Well starting at 9:00AM, and for a mere $5 per person, the park operates a shuttle bus that goes to all three of the park entrances. The third entrance by the way is the South Entrance, which is where you'll find the campground and swimming pool.

So at the end of the hike I rode the shuttle bus back to the North Entrance to where ROVER was parked and then returned to the Main Entrance to pick up Tricia. It only cost us $5 that way instead of $10, after all every little bit of savings helps!

One other advantage to doing the hike this way was we were able to start hiking at 7:00AM, when there was virtually no one else on the trail and by 9:00AM we were done before most anyone else got started. Believe me, everyday this trail gets crowded later in the morning!



THE GORGE TRAIL

at WATKINS GLEN STATE PARK


Our first look at the top of the gorge.
The trail begins with a steep staircase leading down.
We are finally at the level of the water.
The water line gradually starts falling away from the trail.
Then it takes a deep plunge.
And then it goes down some more.
A deep section of the gorge.
Lots of circular pools carved out here.
Approaching our first major waterfall.
The trail leads us behind the waterfall.
Looking back at the bridge and the waterfall.
More cascading water.
It took a lot of water to carve that wall.
This just looks like nowhere else on earth.
Inside the spiral staircase.
This is the tallest waterfall on the trail.
Approaching the final bridge crossing.
A final look back.
The End!



• • • 100 MILE • • •
HIKING CHALLENGE

32.50 MILES
UNDER OUR BOOTS

A mile and a quarter hike through the gorge
brings our annual total up to 32.50 miles.



SATURDAY - We may have arrived too late for the big crowds of the NASCAR race last weekend, but this weekend there is an Italian Festival in town. With lots of food booths and arts and craft vendors there was much to see and eat. They even had a miniature carnival here with a half dozen or so kiddie rides to entertain the young ones.

Starting at 4:30PM there was live music from a couple local bands covering all my classic rock favorites. There is even bingo if you really need something to do until 9:45PM. Because at that time the highlight of the festival is a huge fireworks display over Seneca Lake. It went on for 30 minutes and we felt it was even better than the one we saw on the July 4th in Bar Harbor, ME.

With very limited parking at the festival site we did what most everyone else seemed to be doing, parking for free a half mile down the road at WalMart. The worst part of the entire evening was trying to get out of the packed parking lot through a single two-lane exit. At least they had police officers directing traffic at all the major intersections in town.

Tomorrow, Sunday, we're taking a much needed day of rest!




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BYE BYE ADIRONDACKS, HELLO...



MONAY

TRAVEL DAY
YEAR #2 - STOP #44



Today we drove one hundred miles due south and left the Adirondack Mountains behind. Don't get me wrong, we're still enjoying the mountains, only now we're in the Catskill Mountains.

We arrived at our new campsite here at Thompson's Lake Campground inside of Thacher State Park just a little after noon and had no trouble getting setup in our new home for the weekend. It seems this park is enjoyed mostly by the local population because we don't see too many out of state license tags on the vehicles here.

There was a younger group of six campers on the site directly across the street from us playing all different genres of loud music. It went on nonstop all day, that is until quiet time rolled around at 10:00PM, then it became very quiet. But around 9:00AM it started up all over again. I hope they learn to appreciate nature sounds when they grow older like most of the rest of us!

“Thompson's
Serene view of Thompson's Lake early in the morning before everyone else wakes up.



Today our exploring will take us back underground! Not one, but two show caves are within a short drive of our campsite and we intend to visit them both.

Every cave is obviously unique, and the way the cave is shown to the public can also be unique to each cave. Today's two caves are very similar in formation, they are after all only two miles apart on the same road. However the way they are both presented to the public couldn't be more different.

As you approach each of the two different parking lots the difference is immediately felt. Howe Caverns is a multi-million complex, complete with a motel, an indoor/outdoor café, a ropes course, a mini theme park and of course a gift shop. Secret Caverns has a gravel parking lot in front of a wooden building with hand painted signage everywhere.

Howe Caverns prints out tickets like you would get at Busch Gardens and Secret Caverns gives you a cash register receipt to hold on to.

Howe Caverns tour starts out with a 5-minute video of the caves history and ownership changes over the years, which is followed by a 156 foot elevator ride down to the bottom of the cave. Secret Caverns tour starts out through an old wooden door and then 103 stairs down to the bottom of their cave.

Howe Caverns entire tour is upon perfectly level paver stones and stairs. Secret Caverns tour is entirely on irregular stone stairs and walkways carved out of the cave's floor.

Howe Caverns unique feature is a 500 foot long human propelled boat ride in a shallow river which runs next to most of the tour. Secret Caverns unique feature is a 100 foot tall waterfall that starts just 20 feet below the surface which brings warm water and air into the cave.

Howe Caverns employees a dozen or more high school students as tour guides for the busy summer season. They are very obviously reciting from memory a script provided to them with the points of interest the owners want emphasized. Ask them a question about caves and the answer is usually "I'm not sure" or "I don't know". Secret Caverns employees two middle aged men as guides who can answer any question you have about caves because on their days off guess what their preferred hobby is, cave exploration!

I guess what I'm trying to say is both caves were very similar and I enjoyed them both, but if you have children with you then you might be better off with a visit to the much busier Howe Caverns. If you are truly interested in just getting a cave experience then save a couple of dollars and visit the low key, but very informative, Secret Caverns.



HOWE CAVERNS



A view of the multi-million dollar complex that is Howe Caverns.
After the elevator ride down this is where your tour begins.
A shallow river runs under most of the cave tour pathway.
Everyone is asked NOT to throw coins into the water. Yet look at all the coins!
Here is where the boat ride travels 500 feet further into the cave.
This is a polished piece of flowstone embedded into the walkway.
A section of the 300 foot walkway called The Winding Way.
Nothing left but a 156 foot elevator ride back to the surface.



The following photos are from our visit to

Secret Caverns

“Secret
The entrance to Secret Caverns

“Temperature”
It's 87°F up on the surface today but only 48°F down in the bottom of the cave.

“The
A large flowstone called The Beehive

“Tight
This section is a one way traffic with no passing!



• • • 100 MILE • • •
HIKING CHALLENGE

31.25 MILES
UNDER OUR BOOTS

A mile and a half at each Howe Caverns and Secret Caverns
brings our annual total up to 31.25 miles.




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