TRIP #1: August 16 – 27, 2004 HONEYMOON IN VEGAS

Day 1 Aug. 16: Hillsborough, NJ to Las Vegas, NV

Flew into Las Vegas from JFK. Picked up our RV at the CruiseAmerica on the eastern side of town and parked it in Circus Circus Casino/KOA camping park. Left Mother and Christopher there while we went to get ‘tickets for shows’ and actually got our marriage license at the Las Vegas City Hall. After returning, we hired a limo which picked us up at Circus Circus and took us to the Little Chapel of the West. To Mother’s suprise, we got married by a lady minister!! Back to Circus Circus and had their buffet as our Wedding Breakfast!

Day 2 Aug. 17: Las Vegas, NV to Zion Canyon NP, UT

Drove east out of Las Vegas on I5 and up in elevation to cooler weather. Drove to Zion National Park in Utah and camped for the night.

Day 3 Aug. 18: Zion Canyon, UT to Bryce Canyon, NP UT

Travelled out of Zion NP via the eastern entrance tunnel and onto a very scenic route through the canyons, stopping by Chessboard Mesa and other lookouts. Arrived at Bryce Canyon NP, set up our site, and had dinner at Ruby’s restaurant. Afterwards, had a campfire and made S’mores. Rained during the night and Mother got wet due to the open ceiling fan and didn’t do anything about it!

Day 4 Aug. 19: Bryce Canyon, UT to Blanding, UT

Did the scenic drive through Bryce Canyon and headed east afterwards on the “Hog’s Back” (Rt. 12). Very scary driving with the road falling away on both sides, dropping into deep canyons. Travelled east on Rt. 24 through Capital Reef NP and stopped to view some petroglyphs (one looked like an astronaut). Continued on through the Glen Canyon Dam Recreation area into dusk. Very spooky place with no one on the roads, large looming hills and very deep ravines. Stopped on a turnout and set off some fireworks in the middle of no where. Mother freaked out a bit. Travelled through the darkness on winding roads through the Glen Canyon Dam Recreation Area (deserted and spooky!) and camped in Blanding,UT.

Day 5 Aug. 20: Blanding, UT to Mesa Verde, CO

Stopped in a hair salon for Mother to get her hair done. Continued on to visit Mesa Verde NP. Took a short hiking trail down to the pueblo ruins beneath the soaring cliffs (Mother could not walk that far). Headed east into Colorado.

Day 6 Aug. 21: Mesa Verde, CO to Durango, CO

Visited Silverton, CO, a well-preserved western mining town north of Durango. Fabulous winding highway there and back over a high mountain pass. Walked around the wide street and had lunch. Bough some cowboy hats and a bull whip. There is a steam locomotive railway that connects Silverton and Durango, but we were too late for the daily train. Visited the Old Hundred Mine. Christopher and Mother did not want to go, but we donned helmets and went underground to see how gold was mined. We tried our hand at panning for gold at the gift store. Headed back to a comfortable campsite. Wish we could have lingered and saw more of Durango.

Day 7 Aug. 22: Durango, CO

Wash and rest day.

Day 8 Aug. 23: Durango, CO to Goulding, AZ

Headed back westwards now towards Arizona. Stopped at Aztec Ruins and toured some large kivas. Very hot weather. Travelled into Monument valley, stopping by the ‘Mexican Hat’ mesa (wash board gravel road with teeth chattering!) and the ‘Elephant Foot’. In Monument valley, stopped where thousands of others have stopped and posed for a photo op in the middle of the highway! Fabulous valley with incredible views and rocks. At the visitor’s center, we also took a photo of our CruiseAmerica van as another Cruiseamerica van passed by with the Monument Valley image on its side! Stopped for gas in the valley and overheard several Navajo Natives speaking to each other in their native tongue.

Day 9 Aug. 24: Goulding, AZ to Williams, AZ

We visited the most spectacular of the national parks, the Grand Canyon. Long drive to get there. Stopped along the way and watched a rather tame coyote by the roadside. Photos and words don’t do the spectacle justice…we pulled off at quite a few viewing points to get a look. The main campgrounds in the National Park were full, so we could not stay in the park. The visitor’s center and restaurants were packed with tourists. I managed to see a rare California Condor, but only after asking a park ranger, who knew exactly where the bird was (as well as all the others. Apparently they are all numbered and radio collared for tracking). The hiking route down to the bottom looked very intimidating. We headed south towards Flagstaff and camped al a local KOA. There, the owner had much to say (and not many nice words either!) about the condor re-introduction efforts. Millions of dollars spent, when the reservations and other areas are poverty stricken.

Day 10 Aug. 25: Williams, AZ to Las Vegas, NV

Turned westwards today and crossed the Hoover Dam. It was brutally hot and John wasn’t up to walking in the heat. We did take a quick look, then he retreated back to the AC and Christopher and I walked across the dam and took a tour of the turbine facility. Returned to Las Vegas and the Circus Circus KOA. When it got dark, and cooler, we walked down the main strip, stopping in a few of the theme casinos: The Venitian, The Bellagio, New York, New York, and the pyramid shaped casino, the Luxor. The strip looked gaudy and flashy, but many of the back streets looked like bad neighborhoods. Back to Circus Circus.

Day 11 Aug. 26: Las Vegas, NV

Last day walking about Vegas. We did not get a chance to see any shows, but we did see more casinos. Mother was too tired from the walk and the heat so we stayed close to the KOA.

Day 12 Aug. 27: Las Vegas, NV to Hillsborough, NJ

We left our Cruise America RV back at the dealer, then took a taxi to the airport. Smooth ride home…as a happy couple!

TRIP #2: May 19-22, 2005 North Carolina Outer Banks

Day 1 May 19: Hillsborough, NJ to Williamsburg, VA

We decided to try our hand at RVing once more since the first trip was such fun. This time, we rented a Class C from El Monte Rvs near Newark Airport. I thought that a trip down to North Carolina along the Outer Banks would be a good destination. We drove down through NJ and Delaware, swinging south down Rt. 13 and crossing over the Chesapeake Bay tunnel. It was a long slog through to Virginia. Lots of banging and crashing…not a smooth ride. We made camp in Williamsburg for the night.

Day 2 May 20: Williamsburg, VA to Rodanthe, NC

Arrived early at the Outer Banks after crossing the Bay Tunnel and another Tunnel (had to shut off propane). Stopped at the Kitty Hawk Flight Memorial, but we both were not feeling too great. I ran and did get a cancellation stamp in the Visitor’s Center, but lost it. We drove around the monument and had lunch by a replica of the Flexible Flyer. Headed south along the Banks and stopped briefly at Jockey Ridge. Took our time looking around and finally settled in Rodanthe. Got our site then went into town a bit to pick up a few pounds of fresh shrimp. Enjoyed a wind-swept evening on the dunes, watching the sunset.

Day 3 May 21: Rodanthe, NC to Cheriton, VA

We drove down to Hatteras where we climbed the Hatteras lighthouse for a stunning view of the seashore. Then, we spent most of the afternoon at Pea Island Wildlife refuge birding and relaxing. Found many life birds along the high impoundment embankments. Following that, we took a short auto tour of Alligator Swamp WMA. The gravel roads did not make the drive easy, but it was fun birding from the RV. Turned northward and left the Banks in the evening, reaching Cherrystone resort in Virginia by nightfall.

Day 4 May 22: Cheriton, VA to Hillsborough, NJ

Along the way home, we hopped the free Currituck Sound ferry, travelled up through Virginia tidewater region and stopped at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge for lunch, as well as some fabulous birding. Walked a short ways on a birding trail near the visitor’s center and heard a bobwhite calling in the swamp! We took a short auto tour route, spotting many egrets, herons, and little brown jobs with our scope. Made it home by nightfall.

TRIP #3: October 3-17, 2005 Grand Teton/Yellowstone

Day 1 Oct. 3: Newark, NJ to Salt Lake City to Garden City, UT

We flew out to Salt Lake City from Newark, arriving early in the morning. As we were planning this trip, we found an RV rental dealer close by the airport via web browsing. We took a taxi from the airport and rented a Class C motorhome for two weeks. Having never been in Salt Lake, the majestic scenery in the valley and looking eastward towards the mountains was absolutely stunning! The weather was autumn-like, cloudy and chilly with the hint of winter on the way. After picking up groceries and supplies at a local market, we travelled north out of the city, and upwards in altitude. I15 and US 89 were fabulous tour routes. Gorgeous scenery greeted us, with golden aspens dotting the hillside amongst the evergreens and snowy mountain peaks in the distance. The route wound upwards over mountain passes and then downwards into a valley and into Bear Lake (Garden City). We stayed in a nearly-deserted KOA on the lakeshore, having only one other RV traveler for company. There were magpies all around.

Day 2 Oct. 4: Garden City, UT to Jackson, WY

Cold night last evening. After a small breakfast, we headed north on US 89 towards Jackson, WY. I spotted a small flock of Sandhill cranes in a field near Afton, WY. Along our route, I got my very first glimpse of some famed western fly fishing trout rivers such as the Hogback and the Snake rivers. Compared to New Jersey trout streams, these looked wide, fast-slowing, and very inviting. We crossed a high mountain pass and stopped at a layby for lunch as snow flakes swirled all around. Towards evening, we stopped by the Hogback Junction KOA (on the Hogback River), but it was closed for the season, so we pressed onwards and into Jackson. There, we settled in at the Virginian RV park in town.

Both of us felt dizzy, nauseous and breathless from the 7000’+ altitude. We rested a bit at the RV park, then ventured into town for dinner. We ate at a notable restaurant called the Cadillac Cowboy Bar. There, I ordered buffalo osso bucco (buffalo bone beef stew, marinated for 8+ hours). It was so big, and looked so awful that it brought me to tears.. I just could not eat it. It made me feel as if I was going to eat a huge bowl of goopy roadkill. I sent it back and ordered a simple ribeye steak instead. Though we were reeling from altitude sickness, we managed to walk around the town a bit. It was a very scenic town, with covered wooden walkways by the shops in the old western style. We stopped by a fly fishing store to inquire about licensing and fishing in the area. The store owner seemed skeptical of me being a fly fisher, but he did mention the Gros Ventre and Hogback rivers being accessible to motorhomes. I did not buy flies or a WY license. We returned to the Virginian and went straight to bed.

Day 3 Oct. 5: Jackson, WY

Both of us awoke with nausea and dizziness. Too ill to travel far, we decided to take it easy and just cruise around Jackson Hole and Grand Teton NP (Jackson is the name of the town and ‘Jackson Hole’ is western nomenclature for the valley by the mountain peaks.) We passed through very wealth neighborhoods, with large beautiful log homes and ranches. We took the scenic park loop in the National Park, stopping to view herds of elk and for a brief walk around Jenny Lake. It was chilly out, and a low overcast of clouds obscured the Grand Teton peaks. We also stopped at a scenic overlook called the Oxbow to do some birding. Both of us were grumpy and irritated with the nausea, so we returned to Jackson and John stayed in the motorhome while I walked about the shops in town. There were many stores selling western clothing and home furnishings (antler chandeliers, elk hide rugs, tooled leather, cowboy hats and boots, and mounted elk and deer heads). We returned by nightfall to the Virginian.

Day 4 Oct. 6: Jackson, WY to West Yellowstone, ID

Still suffering from the altitude, we departed Jackson and headed north, stopping by the Gros Ventre overlook. The Gros Ventre slide is a mountain which collapsed and slid into the valley. We also stopped by an elk refuge to do some birding and saw many trumpeter swans. After crossing the Continental divide at 8300′, we entered Yellowstone National Park. The ground at this altitude was snow covered and it was very cold. We stopped at the visitors center to get our stamp and we were just in time to watch the Old Faithful geyser erupt. I was also able to purchase a 3-day fishing license. We warmed up with some coffee in the restaurant (weird restaurant help) and got our passport book stamped.

As we drove through the park, we encountered small herds bison and elk right on the verge of the road. We stopped for photos. We spotted a coyote and passed many steaming, smoking geothermal areas. We travelled west out of the park, following a broad, free stone river and also saw many ‘burns’ in the adjacent forest, the remnants of wildfires from several years ago. At the western entrance to Yellowstone is a small town called west Yellowstone. There, we drove about and decided to stay the night at The Grizzly Yellowstone RV park, a highly-rated, excellent campground. We retired to bed early, still altitude sick and grumpy.

Day 5 Oct. 7: West Yellowstone, ID

Very cold night. John claimed to have heard howling wolves while he was in the bathroom last night. I didn’t believe him. After breakfast, we stopped by a fly fishing shop and I picked up a new wading jacket and some fly patterns. We then ventured into the park for a leisurely day of book writing and fly fishing. Yellowstone National Park contains many famous fly fishing rivers and streams, often called ‘Blue Ribbon trout streams’. One of them is the Firehole River, an often photographed river meandering through the steaming geysers and fumeroles of the park. I managed to be quite successful there, landing 2 good sized brown trout. I used several patterns I purchased in West Yellowstone (elk hair caddis, BWO). These browns grow rather large here due to the insect-rich environment. John stayed in the motorhome and managed to get some writing done on his book, Chemical Properties of Ceramics. After a few hours of great fishing, we visited the Painted Pots (blubbing mud pits) and fumeroles…steamy and smelly.

Day 6 Oct. 8: West Yellowstone, ID to Gardener, MT

Today, we journeyed through the Park, stopping at the Norris Geyser basin and walking along the boardwalk trails through steaming, stinky sulfur-smelling geyser pots. We stopped by the 45 degree Parallel bridge above Mammoth Hot Springs (45° between the North Pole and the Equator). At a small bridge crossing the Gardener River, we parked in the lot and I fished as John wrote. In the drizzle, I managed to catch 10 trout, 5 rainbows (which jumped like crazy!) and 5 brown…all within a couple of hours. No one else was on the river and I wore my new Patagonia wading jacket that John bought me as a present. We exited the park out the northern entrance and camped for the night in Gardiner, MT at the Yellowstone RV park. It was situated on a high cliff overlooking the powerful Yellowstone river.

Day 7 Oct. 9: Gardiner, MT to Cody, WY

We had a leisurely breakfast, then departed Gardiner and returned to Yellowstone Park, passing under the Roosevelt Arch at the north entrance. We spent some time visiting Mammouth Hot Springs, walking about the vast limestone terraces covering the hillside. There were boardwalk trails up and down the steaming white limestone cascades, and after hiking around a bit in the cold, blustery winds, we grabbed a coffee in our little RV and continued on. After viewing Tower falls and catching a glimpse of mountain sheep high up on some cliffs, we stopped by a bridge crossing Soda Butte Creek so that I could fish and John could write. This time, I managed to catch two wild cutthroat trout, one 7″ and one 14″. All the while, a small American Dipper kept me company bobbing around the rocks at streamside searching for insects. In the meantime, I also kept my eye out looking for grizzlies.

We departed Yellowstone by the east entrance. We hoped to traverse the Bear Tooth Highway, one of the highest scenic drives in the US, but we were informed it was already closed for the season due to snowfall. The East entrance highway was a tough drive through road construction, but we were well rewarded with a hair-raising drive up and over Dead Indian pass (el. 8048′), a winding, narrow, switch-back route through the fog (clouds!) and snowfall. Down, down into the opposite valley and into Cody, Wyoming. We camped in town and had dinner at another famous eating spot, the Irma Hotel, built by Buffalo Bill Cody. Fabulous baby back ribs! The interior was just like an old western movie…numerous mounted elk, bison, bear and deer heads on all the walls.

Day 8 Oct. 10: Cody, WY

Laundry day. We watched deer walk through the RV park as we ate breakfast. We relaxed in Cody, visiting the Buffalo Bill Cody museum, which was really a collaboration if 5 museums in one: Buffalo Bill’s life, Wild west art, wildlife, Native American life, and American firearms. Afterwards, John did some writing while I visited some antique shops.

Day 9 Oct. 11: Cody, WY to Yellowstone NP, WY

A clear, sunny morning today. We left Cody and travelled back into Yellowstone NP via the Sylvan pass and the east entrance. Descended the pass down to Yellowstone lake and crossed the famous ‘Fishing Bridge’ over the Yellowstone river. We would have liked to stay at the Fishing Bridge campground (with hookups) but it was closed for the season. So, we decided to spend a night ‘roughing it’ at one of the national park’s primitive campgrounds. We headed back to the visitor’s center at Old Faithful, bought another 3-day fishing license, then went on to the Madison Campground situated on the Madison River and got a site for the evening. No hookups, but bathrooms, paved roadways, and close to a great river. We lit a campfire as evening settled down over the valley and went to bed hoping the batteries would last while we ran the heater fan (1/3 battery power). No CNN here, but at least John managed to hook up his breather to the cab engine.

Day 10 Oct. 12: Yellowstone NP to West Yellowstone, ID

We slept OK, but it became very cold at night. As dawn came, most campers had moved on so we had the campground mostly to ourselves. The motorhome managed to start up just fine. We had a quick bite to eat, then drove up to the Midway Geyser Basin to see the Prismatic Geyser, a gigantic emerald green hole in a white limestone pit. We took showers in the RV in the parking lot after the water warmed up, next to a bus load of Chinese tourists. As John did some writing, I fished the Firehole River again and did very well…caught a very large brown with a tan caddis pattern, casting clear across the stream near to the opposite bank. We drove on and I tried the Gibbon River, but no luck there. Moved onward to the Madison river (7 Mile Bridge) and though I saw a few large fish from on the bridge, I had no luck. There were a few handicap boardwalk access points and I tried there, and managed to catch 2 chub. We returned to the Grizzly Yellowstone RV park in West Yellowstone for the night. Ah! CNN, wireless access, heat…home.

Day 11 Oct. 13: West Yellowstone, ID to Macks Inn, ID

Today, we decided to take a road trip up into Montana and see Big Sky country. Travelled north out of west Yellowstone towards Bozeman, following a dangerous curving highway along the Gallatin River (where ‘A River Runs Through It’ was filmed). We noticed lots of white crosses along the roadside marking traffic fatalities, and it was these that gave birth to our fun, if stramge, game of counting Roadkill. It was a clear, warm sunny day and the scenery was spectacular! Wide open skies, snow-capped mountains in the distance, meadows and grasslands that stretched out to the horizon.

We travelled westward into Butte, Mt, an old western mining town nestled into the side of a mountain that had been strip-mined into terraces. There were many old buildings dating back to the 1800’s. We took a ride up the hillside to get a better look at the mining pit. Passing through town, we noticed many closed and shuttered storefront. There were many establishments with Irish names, a lasting testament to the mine laborers that once were here. South of Butte, the afternoon was pressing on and we decided to have some adventure by taking a more ‘scenic route’! Near Spencer, Id, we left the interstate and got onto a secondary gravel road that skirted Signal Peak and headed towards Kilgore, Id. Yikes!! Bumping, crashing, and rattling our teeth loose! We drove over Porcupine Pass (el. 7000′) on a wash-board gravel road surface, kicking up dust and stones in our wake, and laughing all the way!! We really entered the remote backcountry, spotting cattlemen rounding up their herds high on distant mountain meadows. We became lost around Kilgore, but thankfully, we had a GPS which sorted us out. Darkness fell quickly, and we came back to civilization near Mack’s Inn, Id. There, we camped at the first campground we came across, the Sawtelle Mountain Resort RV park. The diner was closed, so we had a light meal, then went to bed.

Day 12 Oct. 14: Mack’s Inn, ID to Arco, ID

Bad night. Bad morning. I could not sleep because this campground gave me the creeps. It was isolated and empty of travelers and did not seem very safe. John was dumping the holding tank as we were preparing to leave and the flexi tube slipped off its ring mount, spilling poo and gook all over the site! Ugh. There was no water at the site since all the taps had been shut off for the winter. Also, all the showers were not working either (no one told us at the office when we checked in). So, we drove off, leaving them to deal with the mess.

As we gassed up, I bought an Idaho fishing license. We journeyed southwards along the famous Henry’s Fork of the Idaho river. We tried to find suitable access to the river using the GPS map and an Idaho fly fishing guide. We tried to get near the ‘Box Canyon’ but the dirt road was too narrow, and there was construction in the area for a hydro project. Inquired at Henry’s Fork outfitters and did get directions to a riverside campground. As I cast my line, John did some writing. We didn’t linger there though. We moved on and crossed the Snake river near Twin Falls, Id. Arriving in a small town called Arco, we camped at the Arco Landing Zone RV park, an eclectic place run by a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel. All the signs in the campground were in military jargon, and all the sites were named after memorable soldiers. We had dinner at Pickle’s Place Restaurant down the road (angus steak..yum!)

Day 13 Oct. 15: Arco, ID to Ketchum, ID

We visited Craters of The Moon National Park today, just outside of Arco. Volcanic activity in the area created a vast wilderness of dense black lava flows millions of years ago. We crawled around some lava tubes (Dewdrop cave, Indian Cave) and strolled through the Devil’s Garden. We also climbed a small cinder cone and a few spatter cones, and then broke for lunch. Afterwards, we travelled into Sun Valley and on to Ketchum, passing by multi-million dollar mansions of the rich movie stars that still flock here. We had dinner at the Roosevelt Grille in town. A huge Roosevelt Elk was mounted over the bar. Both of us had fabulous scallops. We walked abround the ritzy stores and drove to the town cemetery to see if we could find Ernest Hemmingway’s gravesite. We found the family grave site, but did not locate his (unmarked, perhaps?) Camped just outside town.

Day 14 Oct. 16: Ketchum, ID to Salt Lake City, UT

This morning we treated ourselves to a Starbuck’s cappuchino and a newspaper, and started our long trek back to Salt Lake City. The drive was very uninteresting as we passed through mile after mile of empty desert. It only became interesting as we descended onto the salt pan of the lakebed. Brilliant white salt, flat to the far horizon. We stayed at the SLC KOA and did a quick scrub down of our motorhome before we returned it (it was covered in dust from our off-road adventure).

Day 14 Oct. 16: Salt Lake City, UT to Newark, NJ

We returned our motorhome at the dealer, and took a taxi back to the airport. It was a long 6+ hour wait til our flight home.

TRIP #4: November 11 -13, 2005 Lancaster, PA Shakedown Trip

Day 1 Nov. 11: Hillsborough, NJ to Bowmansville, PA

Today, we took our brand new motorhome out for its inaugural run. We chose a relatively close location, (PA) in case something happened (breakdown?) and also somewhere interesting so that we could see some sights. We drove out from Hillsborough onto Rt. 206N and then onto Rt. 78W. The first thing we noticed was the motion of the coach, as it swayed to and fro. Also, the road conditions really were bad, making for a bumpy, teeth-jarring ride. We brought along some groceries from home (cereal, milk, coffee, frozen foods, etc.) so that we would not have to shop and then have to discard all the groceries when we return. We started out early in the day, hoping to get to a campground in the Amish country of Pennsylvania. We looked in our trust Woodall’s and selected a campground in Bowmansville (Oak Creek) which is just south of Reading. Reading has many attractions, including antique markets, outlet stores, a Cabela’s outdoors store as well as Amish attractions.

The campground was not too difficult to find. It was located in a small wooded valley with a stream running through it and we pulled in just around dusk. It felt a bit strange to be setting up camp in our new coach somewhere outside our state. We checked into the office and selected a site. The office was small, and the campground host was friendly. It had a selection of foodstuffs (milk, eggs, things for Smore’s) and extra camp gear. We found our site and had our first practice driving into it (pull-through). Not too bad, and we did not hit any trees.

Our first hook up, water and sewer. We put out both slides and set up the TV antenna. We tried to tune in to local stations, but the valley and the trees prevented us from getting a good signal. We made some frozen dinners and I had some wine (in a glass!). It felt wonderful! I had been camping, hiking and backpacking most of my life and to be in this kind of comfort in the woods was incredible. It was chilly out so we used the propane heat to warm our cabin. The coach had that new car smell and everything was clean and new. Best of all was the clean bathroom right next to us. We went to sleep happy to finally be in our own motorhome.

Day 2 Nov. 12: Bowmansville, PA to Strasburg, PA

Awoke to a cool morning and a great indoor shower! Can’t explain how wonderful it is to have your own shower and not have to encounter moths, flies, spiders, cold slippery tile floors, dirty toilets, etc. Brewed fresh coffee, the filled our water tank. We then headed south on PA222 towards Lancaster. Nice rural farm country. We stopped at a few antique malls along the way. In Lancaster, we spotted some Amish horse-drawn buggies (have no idea what they might think when they see our huge rig go by!) We passed through some famous Amish towns: Bird-In-Hand, Intercourse, Strasburg. We selected a campground in Strasburg and headed there after checking the Lancaster Railroad (to see if it was open. It was closed). On the way there, we kind of got turned around in the dark, and as I was struggling with the computer with its GPS mapping program, we ended up on a very narrow farm road passing beneath a railway. It was already dark, so we needed to do a tricky k-turn into a steep gravel driveway. No easy feat in this huge 35′ thing! Using the back-up cameras and some careful turning, we did pretty good. No scratches. Off to camp and rest.

This campground was situated on a wooded hilltop. It looked a bit more ‘dated’ than the last one. We checked in, selected a site, and set up camp. This site was much more narrow than the last one, and the motorhomes were parked much closer together. After dinner, we took a stroll around the dark campground. It was quite full (it was Saturday night). Near the office, there was an adjacent hall, filled with campers being entertained by the local ‘band': 4 guys playing old dance jigs on a fiddle, guitar, harmonica and zing board. I felt as if we had stepped into the deep, deep south, southern Appalachia, sometime around the 40’s. We watched the old folks dance and sing. I do believe both of us were the youngest campers here. We went back to the RV. No cable TV and really poor reception.

Day 3 Nov. 13: Strasburg, PA to Hillsborough, NJ

Sunday morning. Very quiet out here in the rural farmlands. The meeting hall is holding god-squad services today. Saw a few folks heading off to church all dressed up. We decided to call it a weekend, so we unhooked and headed back home via Rt. 30 through the farmlands. Had a big breakfast at a diner not too far out of Amish country. Great views of the fields and barns. We took the Pennsylvania Turnpike back into NJ. In all, a great start to many travelling adventures!

TRIP #5: Nov. 26-Dec. 1, 2005 NC Outer Banks

Day 1 Nov. 26: Hillsborough, NJ to Cheriton, VA

We decided to take a quick RV holiday after Thanksgiving. Both of us enjoyed the Outer Banks and figured it would be a good short trip to get a way. We took the GSP down to Cape May and hopped on the Cape May Ferry across the Delaware Bay for the ‘poor man’s pelagic’. Lots of neat shore birds on our crossing, though it was a bit rough. We landed in Lewe’s Delaware and headed down towards Virginia. We did not want to travel too far on our first night, so we stayed at Cherrystone RV Park, right on the Chesapeake Bay. I was not feeling well…looks like another sinus infection coming on. To bed early.

Day 2 Nov. 27: Cheriton, VA to Virginia Beach, VA

Did the scenic drive across the Cheapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. We had to stop and get out to turn off our propane tank, but other than that, we were OK. We stopped half way of course, to take a look out to the Bay. Lots of scoters, mergansers, loons and turnstones. We did not linger though, and headed south and into Virginia Beach. Once there, we checked into the campground, and crashed. I was feeling terrible, and the thunderous roar of the Navy jets on final approach to Mirimar NAS did not help any. We did manage to get an upgraded site (full concrete, lamps, etc). Tasteless dinner and horrible headache.

Day 3 Nov. 28: Virginia Beach, VA to Rodanthe, N. Carolina

Feeling even worse today. We checked into the local Medemerge so that I could see a doctor, after almost driving onto the Naval Air base with the RV (the guard looked rather worried!). We filled the antibiotic prescription and then drove by the end of the NAS airfield to watch the F-18 Hornets practicing carrier take-offs and landings.

Continued south towards North Carolina. My head was spinning by the time we arrived way down in Rodanthe. We seemed to have selected a very quiet and deserted campground right on the dunes. The skies were overcastt and we went for a short walk up to the dunes after dinner. The ocean looked angry with tumbling surf, and the twilight showed storm clouds in the distance. Off to sleep.

Day 4 Nov. 29: Rodanthe, N. Carolina

Slept through pattering rainfall and the crashing of the surf. WONDERFUL! Felt lousy, though, from the sinus infection and the meds, but decided to putter around the Outer Banks to see what was here. We travelled down to the Nags Head Light house, braving the heights and whipping winds for a great view of the surrounding barrier island. Then, we visited a seafood shop nearby so that I could buy a couple of pounds of freshly-caught shrimps. MMM! We also visited Kitty Hawk, the historical sand dune where the Wright Brothers first flew their glider. I was still not feeling well, so we returned to Camp Hatteras Waves and cooked up all those shrimp, mixed it up with Old Bay Spices and threw the lot in with some linguine and …oooo, great dinner! The winds kicked up again, and we watched a movie while the RV was rocked to and fro in the gusts.

Day 5 Nov. 30: Rodanthe, N. Carolina to Virginia Beach, VA

Still feeling ill, we headed back north and stopped by the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. We did some birding, walking on a few of the impoundment grassy berms. The drizzle and winds did not help much, but we did see flocks of Tundra Swans. We then turned inland to drive around some back roads through the Alligator Swamp Wildlife Refuge. We almost got lost on on eof the gravel loop roads. Not many birds about, though. We returned up the barrier islands and stayed once more at Trav-L-Park in Virginia Beach. We watched the F-18’s practicing landings till it got dark.

Day 6 Dec. 1: Virginia Beach, VA to Hillsborough, NJ

Stopped by Starbuck’s for coffee this morning before crossing over the Chesapeake Bay, this time using another ferry. Drove through some very pretty countryside on the Maryland Shore before heading up into Delaware and the back to New Jersey.

TRIP #6: Mar. 14-17, 2006 Otter Lake, PA

Day 1 Mar. 14: Hillsborough, NJ to Marshall’s Creek, PA

We decided to take a spring break short trip, hoping to find a small campground nearby in Pennsylvania. John selected the Pocono Mountains and found one of the only campgrounds open in winter. It was chilly out, but our plans were to relax, read, watch movies, and work on learning the RV. We drove up Rt. 80 and then up into Marshall’s Creek, not too far from Scranton. The campground was quite large, and the place was basically empty (too early in the season). There were piles of snow still on the ground. We got a nice site overlooking Otter Lake and then just settled in for the evening.

Day 2 Mar. 15: Marshall’s Creek, PA

Relaxing day, reading, writing, John doing Fiber Sigma.

Day 3 Mar. 16: Marshall’s Creek, PA

Did a short drive today, just around in the Poconos. Very bumpy roads, not a very good drive. Back to camp to watch movies and relax.

Day 4 Mar. 17: Marshall’s Creek, PA to Hillsborough, NJ

TRIP #7: April 28-30, 2006 Tip of Long Island, NY

Day 1 Apr. 28: Hillsborough, NJ to Greenport, NY

I have always wanted to drive out the long drive to Montauk Point, Long Island, not only to get some good birding in, but to see the Fire Island Seashore and try some of the wines out at the Long Island wineries. Both of us did not realize the challenge we would face just getting out there! Being new to RVing, and controlling a large rig like our own, we decided to take the routes we travel by car to get to Long Island, namely through Staten Island, over the Outer Bridge crossing and via the Belt Parkway east towards JFK airport. Well, were we in for a shock! Travelling through Staten Island and over the Varrazano Bridge was no problem. But, when we saw signs prohibiting trucks from the Belt Parkway, we were forced to continue straight, onto the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. Our euphoria did not last long however, as we soon came upon another sign warning high vehicles should exit immediately! We dumped off the BQE onto Atlantic Avenue in the heart of Brooklyn! Thus began a couple of nail biting hours as we drove around very narrow streets looking for a way to cut beneath the elevated subway that runs the length of Brooklyn and get to the Long Island Expressway (I495). At one point, we tried an underpass, only to come upon the sign reading height less than 9′ (we are 12′ 10″)!! We had to pull over, do a k-turn in the middle of the intersection, blew through the camera-enforced flash, and proceeded to get lost on a tiny side street where we could hear out air conditioning units scraping the low hanging wires and cables spanning the roadway. Either we managed to get on the Van Wyck expressway or the Nassau-Queens expressway and finally got onto I495 east near Jamaica just before we were ready to throw in the hat. I495 was a quick and easy route and we soon found ourselves in Riverhead, where we took a smaller road along the north fork of the island up the Greenpoint, just north of Shelter Island, where we pulled into the campground (the ONLY campground out here!) We arrived very late in the night, well past the time I told the owners we would get there. When we told them of our horrible experience, he just laughed and could not believe we had attempted to come that way! He gave us a temporary hook up for the night. We set up our motorhome and promptly went to bed!

Day 2 Apr. 29: Greenport, NY

The weather was cold and clear and we travelled today out to Montauk Point via Montauk Highway. We passed through the tiny Indian nation of Shinnecock and then through the wealthy enclaves of the Hamptons. We saw many huge mansions and quaint villages along our route. At ‘The End’ was the large red and white Montauk lighthouse. We birded a bit near Oyster Pond then turned back to our campground, stopping by Hither Hills state park for a small bit of twitching.

Day 3 Apr. 30: Greenport, NY to Hillsborough, NJ

Today we headed for home, most importantly by a much different and safer route! We stopped by a few notable Long Island wineries: Osprey’s Dominion, Laurel Lake and Clovis Point, and sampled a few whites and reds. We were were accompanied by small van loads of winery tour guests, who stumbled about the tasting rooms, giggling and glassy-eyed, and speaking loudly and obnoxiously as only New Yorkers (drunk ones) can. Our route took us west on I495, this tome taking the Throgsneck Bridge to I95, the Cross-Bronx Expressway to the George Washington Bridge. Whew! What a difference! Though we hit traffic, we had no height restrictions to worry about! From there, it was a simple ride down the NJ Turnpike to 287 and Hillsborough

TRIP #10: July 12-25, 2006 New England

Day 1 July 12: Hillsborough, NJ to Saugerties, NY

I had experienced many great outdoor adventures in the New England states in the past and I thought it would make a great destination with our new RV, especially Quebec, Canada. We decided to drive up through New Hampshire and Vermont and see the White Mountains along the way (hoping for that cool mountain weather). We headed north up 287, and the the NY Thruway (I87). The day was hot, humid and hazy, with a tornado warning issues for southern NY state. The Greyhaven was shaking quite a bit, especially when we got up to speed, so we did not travel very far for the day. We stopped at Kingston at an RV repair place and booked an appointment for the following day. Then, we retreated to the woods of a KOA in Saugerties as the heavy rain started to come down. Nice campground, quite deserted, with lots of mosquitoes. (We heard that night on the news that two water spouts were spotted near the Verazzano Bridge).

Day 2 July 13: Saugerties, NY to Arlington, VT

In the morning, we took the Greyhaven to Camper’s Barn. They fixed the A/C (loose wires), and found that the generator was functioning properly (it needs a full tank of gas…at a quarter tank, it will not start). Then, we drove up the Thruway a bit to a place where they balanced truck tires. We had the front wheels switched and balanced and found the drive much improved.

We continued north up I87 into Troy, then took Rt. 7 into Burlington, Vermont. We stopped for a bit of touristy stuff, climbing the Bennington Battle Monument, a tall granite obelisk which celebrates a rather small Revolutionary war battle, which has fantastic views of the surrounding mountains. We journeyed a bit farther into Arlington, where we camped by the famous Battenkill River (fly fishing store Orvis was born here). I broke out the new Weber grill and made quite a good salmon dinner cooked on cedar planks. Tasty and aromatic!

Day 3 July 14: Arlington, VT to Quechee, VT

Late start today (probably because of last night’s great dinner!). We took a morning coffee stroll through the campground down to the Battenkill. It was a deep, fast running river with water the color of peat soil. Not very inviting for fly fishing. We packed up and visited the American Museum of Fly Fishing and the Orvis store. The museum was quite good (lots of displays of old bamboo rods and colorful salmon flies), but the store was very snooty and we were not treated very friendly. Down the road a ways, we found a Scottish store (Scotland by the Yard) where John picked up a new Matheson pattern scarf. Not too far away, we camped for the night, going out for dinner at a steak house nearby and looking at the Quechee gorge.

Day 4 Jul. 15: Quechee, VT

Woke a bit later than usual and faffed around cleaning and washing the RV. Drove into White River Junction and stocked up on groceries. We decided to go up the White River and I wanted to see if I could access the river to fish. Drove up and down an adjacent highway, but could not find a suitable place to pull off with the big rig. Had a picnic lunch beside the river and visited a trout hatchery near Sharon , VT. It was closed, but it allowed visitors to see some circular oxygenated holding tanks. We then visited the scenic town of Stockbridge, stopping at a quaint general store for ice cream. Then we saw the Vermont Institute of Natural Science where they had a magnificent raptor rehabilitation collection. It was very impressive. The center was a semi-circle of very large flight cages. Most of the birds there were injured or disabled and unable to be released back into the wild. We came very close to a Peregrine Falcon, Golden eagle and Horned Owl. The center put on an hour demonstration with a handler showing a Barn Owl with one wing. It was late in the day and the center was closing. I wish we had more time to spend there. Back to Pine Valley and our Campground.

Day 5 Jul. 16: Quechee, VT to Conway, NH

Headed north into New Hampshire, following the Connecticut River and stopped for a picnic lunch in a school parking lot in Lyme, NH. Continuing north, we passed through Woodsville and then on to Franconia Notch. It was very hot, sunny and muggy, not what we were expecting in the mountains! We visited the Flume, a deep gorge carved into a rock mountainside. A slippery boardwalk followed the white thundering cateract up into the fissure. The mist coming off the waterfalls was cooling and refreshing. Afterwards, we went into Franconia Notch to see the overhang where the Old Man of The Mountains granite profile once stood. It had collapsed in 2003 from years of freezing and thawing water. We took one of the most scenic drives in the Northeast, The Kankamagus Highway NH112, through the White Mountain National Forest, stopping at many scenic overlooks and having dinner at one of then while watching the red sunset. We selected an RV camping area on the shore of a river, but it turned out to be oik heaven. Lots of dried mud everywhere. I visited a local fly shop and got a few seasonal fly patterns and some advice. I hoped to try tomorrow on a mountain stream.

Day 6 Jul. 17: Conway, NH to Gorham, NH

Another very hot and humid day. John was not doing too well in the heat. We drove up past the Mount Washington Inn and up to the cog railway station. We were going to take the cog train to the summit, but the ride was over 2 hours long and no bathrooms were aboard, not to mention the price: $57 each. So, it was not to be, but we did enjoy seeing the little engines chugging up the steep mountainside. I was a bit disappointed.

We returned to North Conway, did a bit of shopping in the outlets, then headed north to Gorham, where I found a pretty mountain stream with a parking lot right beside it. John worked on writing and I did some excellent fishing, catching 6 rainbow trout before the dusk descended and I could not see the water anymore. On to a nice campground with a dip in the pool, shade trees and friendly atmosphere.

Day 7 Jul. 18: Gorham, NH to St. Nicholas, Quebec, Canada

In the morning, after breakfast, we drove back to the little stream and I did some more fishing while John wrote. The skies were darkening with clouds, so we packed up and headed north once more. We crossed from US I5 into Can55. The skies opened with rain and it turned much cooler afterwards. We got a RV site near Quebec at the KOA Quebec and had a nice dinner in a nearby Italian restaurant (Mark’s).

Day 8 Jul. 19: St. Nicholas, Quebec, Canada

After breakfast listening to and watching the local French news stations, we wanted to go into the Old City of Quebec. The KOA did have shuttle service, but we decided to risk it and headed into town with the Greyhaven. To our suprise and luck, we found a superb perking lot right by the Old City and the river with RV spaces!! We had a splendid lunch at an outdoor cafe (John ordered in French, I ordered in terrible French), and then took the funicular railway up the cliffside to the Chateau Frontenac overlooking the St. Lawrence River. I had stayed in the Chateau long time ago when I was young and I visited here with Sharin when we drove up to New Hampshire to see her sister. The hotel was all top class and I think John was a bit put off by it all. For me, it brought back some great memories. We walked through the Old City, visiting shops and watching street performers. We cooled off with a coffee in a small hotel cafe, then enjoyed a stroll along the river promenade back to the RV. We sat out by the St. Lawrence river for a while watching the cruise ships and cargo barges float by. Reluctant to leave, we waited till around dinner time and returned to the Old City for a meal at another outdoor cafe (excellent French food, but pricy). Back to the KOA for mosquito bite treatment and bed.

Day 9 Jul. 20: St. Nicholas, Quebec, Canada to Skowhegan, ME

Another very hot, sunny day. We returned to Quebec Old City for lunch (just spectacular) and then drove east out of Canada on Rt. 73/173 to the US/Canadian border. At the crossing, the border guard turned out to be a bit of a jerk. First, all of the signs were confusing and we entered the wrong inspection lane (truck lane, did not specify RV’s). The guard gave us a hard time for not knowing what to do! They did enter the vehicle and inspected the fridge for any imported meat and produce. They were rude and obnoxious, even to me a US citizen. I was not happy to be back in the US after that.

The road we took (US201) was a remote highway that Sharin and I took on our visit. I was hoping to see some moose and bears crossing the road, but we did not see any. The road was very rough (it also being a logging road) with many parts under construction. It was a long slog and, when we were too tired to drive any farther, we stopped at a campground in Skowhegan, Maine. The skies opened up and it began to pour. We arrived after the office was closed and the campground host was nice enough to show us to our site and told us we could settle things in the morning. To bed with the lovely sound of raindrops on the roof!

Day 10 Jul. 21: Skowhegan, ME to Bar Harbor, ME

A long, uneventful drive up to Acadia and Bar Harbor. John was feeling quite ill, so we found a site a Dessert Narrows Campground (very expensive but OK) and I took the free shuttle into town to walk around a bit. The town was hot and crowded with tourists. I liked the shops and harbor views, but it wasn’t the same without John. Returned on the shuttle, and both of us watched ‘Blue Thunder’, had a small dinner, and went to bed.

Day 11 Jul. 22: Bar Harbor, ME to Ellsworth, ME

This morning, John was still not feeling too well. We tried to reserved another night stay, but the campground was full. So, we packed up and drove into Acadia National Park (Mt. Desert Island). We were limited as to what roads we could drive on since the majority of them were designed with horse-drawn carriages in mind. There were many low bridges which we could not pass under. We did manage to drive up Cadillac Mountain and did a short walk around the summit, visiting the summit center and walking down several trails. There was not much to see though: we were in the clouds! I remember the view when I was here many years ago with Sharin, but it was not to be today.

Day 12 Jul. 23: Ellsworth, ME to Freeport, ME

We camped near Ellsworth, a bit out of the tourist areas. Last night, we stopped by a lobster shack just outside Mt. Desert Island and I picked up a freshly boiled lobster dinner, while John had fresh scallops. So yummy! We headed southwards after we packed up this morning, and visited the L.L. Bean flagship store in Freeport. We did some shopping, and as usual, I was lost in the fly fishing section of the store. Stayed nearby before heading home.

Day 13 Jul. 24: Freeport, ME to Littleton, MA

We stayed near Boston in a small town called Lowell to visit the Lowell National Historic Park. It is the nation’s first planned textile mill which was established her to take advantage of the Merrimack River. The energy produced by damming the river was used to drive turbines which ran hundreds of machines used to make cotton fabric. This was the nation’s first manufacturing mecca, which drew thousands of immigrants coming to America for jobs in the mills and was responsible for establishing the 8-hour work day. We toured the various mills and cotton fabric weaving machines, and then took a ride on a canal boat to tour the complex from the Merrimack River.

Day 14 Jul. 25: Littleton, MA to Hillsborough, NJ