New Jersey, Indiana and HOME!!!

After visiting with friends in New York and gaining a few pounds with all the restaurant dinners, we made a quick stop in New Jersey to visit family.  We had our traditional family get together at Chimney Rock Pizza - best pizza ever.

Then on to Bremen (near South Bend) Indiana to have the RV decked out in full body paint.  They also recommended a place nearby to get a few inside repairs made, so now our overhead bunk is fixd and ready for grandchildren to visit.  We will leave the RV there for the winter as the painting takes at least a month and the earliest appointment is in November.  So, we rented a car, packed it up with our belongings from the RV and drove home, with a quick stop in Charlotte to visit family.

A fabulous summer trip this year - we drove about 10,000 miles, enjoyed mostly great weather, saw many new sites and visited with family and friends - what could be better?  Here is a generalized map of our 2017 summer travels from South Carolina, up the east coast to Canada and on to Newfoundland by ferry and returning south through Labrador, Quebec, Vermont, Indiana and finally back to South Carolina.

We are so fortunate to be able to enjoy extended summer travels and we enjoy sharing it with all of you on this blog.  Hope you all have had a wonderful summer.  We are happy to be home and look forward to having you join us for another trip next year.

Finger Lakes, New York

We spent the night in Waterloo, New York.
We stopped in Seneca Falls for a quick visit to  the Women's Rights Museum where the first women's convention was held in 1848.  I did not realize the movement started that early considering women did not get the vote until 1920.

We headed down to Jack's old stomping grounds - Keuka Lake and Seneca Lake.  Spectacularly beautiful country here.  Jack booked a trip on board the schooner, True Love, from High Society filmdom.  For those who have seen the movie with Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly and Frank Sinatra, this is the boat, named True Love used in the movie.  I actually sat in the spot where Bing Crosby sang True Love on the boat.  That part of the movie was filmed in Newport, RI and afterwards, the boat spent many years in the Caribbean before coming to Seneca Lake.  Jack's former neighbor owns the business and she was there to welcome us back to the dock after a fabulous relaxing sail on Seneca Lake, out of Watkins Glen.

The lake was busy with sailboats of all sizes and shapes

We spent Wednesday through the weekend with friends from Elmira.  Not too much is new here in Elmira, but were disappointed that they still do not have Jack's picture up on the Welcoming billboard to town that highlights some of the town's notables:  Mark Twain, Tommy Hilfiger, Hal Roach, etc. - you know, the ones Jack talks about nonstop when discussing Elmira.😁😁😁😁

Adirondacks to Finger Lakes, New York

Hi All,

History of boats included native American birch bark canoes

We arrived at the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake late in the day.  We visited what we could before closing and returned the following morning.  The museum is excellent, with exhibits about the history of the area - logging and tourism, primarily.

Rayne, these paddles (not oars) are for you!

Unique to Adirondacks - the Guide Boat

Portage sculpture

The early logging denuded much of the forest, but it provided much needed jobs.  The jobs were dangerous, especially those that cleared the logjams from the rivers in the spring when they moved the logs downstream to mills.  The Robber baron era saw tourism climb as the super-rich built country get-aways for themselves and friends for hunting, fishing and "roughing-it" in the backwoods.

Tractor to bring logs out of forest on ice

The Adirondacks are known for their own furniture styles made from mostly from yellow birch, but we saw pretty much every kind of tree that grows here into a piece of furniture - some are gorgeous.  The boat building industry to support both working boats and tourist "guide" boats resulted in some fantastic wooden boats and unique designs like the "guide boat" that looks a bit like a broad canoe that is oared (not paddled).

We made our way southwest from the Adirondacks to the northern Finger Lakes, staying one night near Oneida Lake, then continuing southwest through Syracuse, and stopping to visit the Harriet Tubman National Park in Auburn, New York.  She has always been one of my heroes since reading a book about her in elementary school, but I learned that she did so much more than help slaves escape through the Underground Railroad.  She made 13 documented (and probably more) trips over 12 years, helping folks to escape north.  There was a $2,500 bounty on her during this time and it is a miracle that she avoided the bounty hunters.  If that wasn't enough, she also served as a nurse and guide during the Civil War and is the only female who ever led troops into battle (with no casualties)!  She also served as a spy, but it took years for her to get a military pension.  She settled her family here in New York state, buying herself a home and farm, and then purchased additional acreage to build a home for the elderly.  What an inspiration.  She never had any children, but did enjoy a large family of nieces and nephews and many of her relatives still live in the area.

Home for the Elderly

Harriet Tubman's Home

Considering what Harriet Tubman achieved in the 1800's and seeing the horrendous events in Charlottesville, I sometimes get disheartened.  I feel like we occasionally make great forward strides only to repeatedly go backwards....I know that things are certainly better now than in Harriet Tubman's time, but why do they still have so far to go?

Adirondack Mountains, New York

We left our campground north of Ticonderoga to visit the Ausable chasm.  Lots of great activities here besides viewing the dramatic falls - a little rock climbing, river crossing, hiking, and tubing.
Bet the grandkids would love this!

We drove west across the Adirondacks through beautiful mountain scenery - would love to return in the Fall to see Autumn colors.
Captivated by all the old barns, many literally falling down

Hay in the Loft!

We drove through Lake Placid, site of the 1932 and 1980 Olympics.  I wanted to stop to see the Olympic Training Center and walk through town, but it was mobbed.  There were parking lots big enough for us, but no spots were available.  Abandoned the idea and maybe will return in the Fall during the week when hopefully, it would be less busy.

We planned to drive up the summit of Whiteface Mountain, but it was party cloudy so decided to not spend the $25 to make the drive for poor hazy views. On to our campground halfway between Lake Placid and Saranak Lake - another pretty tourist town.

We drove to the Wild Center, and privately owned natural history museum.  What a fantastic job they did, teaching about nature in this part of the world.  Walked the treetop trails with lots of interactive exhibits about birds and other animals that inhabit the forest - including a replica of the largest eagle's nest every recorded that we could walk into and kids had a grand time playing in the bouncy "spider-web."  I thought I knew quite a bit about local birds, but learned these couple of new-to-me items about woodpeckers:  The head-bashing they take is equivalent to a car speeding 26,000 mph and making a dead stop; woodpeckers do not just peck for food, they peck to make noise - their equivalent of birdsong (now I understand why they peck the gutters and the house siding!); and when the do look for their favorite food, carpenter ants, they peck on the tree first to listen for the sound of scuttling ants, then bore in and can eat the entire colony.  So......there.

At the Wild Center, we also walked through a musical installation called the iForest.  The composer wrote multiple music pieces for a choir that he recorded each voice individually.  Then he mixed the tapes so that they would be balanced and heard throughout the forest walk through many speakers - an amazing ethereal experience!

Inside the Wild Center, many interactive exhibits of local animals and short films throughout the day about different aspects of wildlife, the iForest, and the Adirondacks.  Do not miss this if you are in the area, especially great for children.

Replica of largest recorded eagle's nest

Spider Web

Migration Distances

We stopped for the night at the only commercial campground in the area - an oldtime Adirondack seasonal campground - forested and very hilly with unlevel sites, electric, but no TV or WIFI and no toilet paper in the bathrooms - charging $35 per night.  Pretty darn high, but guess when you are the only game in town with electricity at the sites, you can get away with it.  They had a laundry that I was planning to use, but the dryers are so rusted, I would be surprised if they worked at all and the washers looked clean, but smelled a bit funky.  No way am I using that laundry - will find a commercial laundromat somewhere today.

Gorgeous weather - mid 70's during the day and great sleeping with low 60's at night.  We had a nice steak dinner last night, and noticed that it is getting dark earlier and ealier and the roadside wildflowers are dominated by Queen Anne's Lace and Goldenrod - late summer is upon us.

Bye Bye Vermont, Hello New York! Calvin Coolidge and Fort Ticonderoga

We spent the night in west-central Vermont and visited the tiny village of Plymouth Notch, hometown of Calvin Coolidge.  The village has been preserved as it was and the house he grew up was protected by an overzealous housekeeper who kept the homestead exactly the same way until the Coolidge family donated the site to the state of Vermont.  The entire village, which is not much, has been preserved as it was when he was President, including the barns, tea house, general store, church, his parent's house and even the gardens were reconstructed.  A great place to learn a bit about one of the more forgotten presidents.

Calvin's father owned a general store and the family lived behind it where Calvin was born.  Shortly thereafter, the family moved across the street to a farmstead, architecturally known as "continuous" because the house and outbuildings are connected.  All the furnishings, including quilts and dishes were original to the house.  Raised in a Puritan ethic of hard work and fair play, Calvin was a good student and eventually made his way to college and then worked as a lawyer in Massachusetts.  He ran for school board, but lost and won the congressional seat later and became governor and then Hardin's Vice President.  Harding died in 1923 and Calvin was visiting his family in Plymouth Notch where his father (a notary public) swore him in as President.  He ran in 1924 and won and presided over the roaring 20's with no real agenda.  He did not run in 1928, leaving it open to Hoover.

General Store left.  Calvin's birthplace was a small home attached to the rear of the store.
Calvin's birthplace

The "continuous" farmstead where Calvin grew up

This barn was attached the house

Calvin's mother's home next door

Calvin's maternal family barn

Four cent gas, including tax!

Coolidge family church and gardens
Gorgeous pine church interior crafted by local mill and carpenters

Where Calvin was sworn in as President

We headed west to skirt the end of Lake Champlain and on into New York State.  We got a campsite outside of Ticonderoga.  Thursday morning we headed over to spend the day at Fort Ticonderoga.
Near Killington, Vermont

Low clouds moved in - humidity is too high for clear photos

Fort Ticonderoga was an important part of the French and Indian War and then the Revolution.  The French and Indian War was the North American extension of Europe's Seven Year War between Britain and France.  We, of course, were on the side of the British at the time.  The fort was built in a classic French star-shaped pattern on the bluff overlooking a narrow section of Lake Champlain.  As the interpreter told us, whoever controlled the waterways, controlled territory during this time period. The British took the fort in 1759 from the French.  During the Revolution, Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys along with Benedict Arnold took the fort in a surprise attack without firing a shot.

The fort fell into disrepair and sat idle, but used as a Home Depot by locals who looted it for building materials.  The Pell family bought the land in the early 1800's and decided to try to save the fort.  By the 19-teens, they established a non-profit foundation to help finance the reconstruction/preservation effort.  The costumed interpreters were the best we have ever encountered - all worked year-round for the foundation, acting as interpreters during the summer and doing historical, military, architectural, etc. research during the winter.  Excellent, excellent tours.
These guys gave a musket demonstration and then took details questons about armament and history.  Very impressive.

Although the fort's foundation was mostly intact, major reconstruction was done, exactly according to the original fort plans

Lake Champlain divides Vermont and New York.  The hill across the water is Vermont

We also took a boat tour of Lake Champlain where we learned more about the area, starting with military history and moving on to commercial and tourist activities over the centuries.

Fort Ticonderoga from Lake Champlain

Drum and Fife

Pell Family Gardens
We drove to a nearby mountaintop, called Mount Defiance that was crucial in the defense of the waterways.  It was here that the French managed to put a couple of cannons that overlooked Fort Ticonderoga and the British surrendered the fort without a shot.

Fort Ticonderoga below
We continued our drive north along Lake Champlain and got a campsite for the night in Keeseville on the northeastern border of the Adirondack Mountains.