Last Modified:
November 5, 2009

 

On the Road - 2004
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Bill Dillon (KG4QFM)
and
Pat Watt (KG4QFQ)

           This Log is a journal of our first 5 months of living as RV fulltimers after we made the switch from blue-water cruising. Click here to read about our cruising adventures.

          The map to the left shows our intial route. Click on it for more information.

Dry camping near Jackman, ME          We began in Maryland where we bought our RV (Clemmie), then slowly north visiting dear ones in New England, west through the Great Lakes to Minneapolis, then south to Charleston for the winter.

          Links embedded in the log's text lead to photos of our travels. These are assembled together on a page of the Photo Album. as are photos of our campsites.

          For further information see also our Campground Ratings and Land Cruising Statistics .

[Read about our travels in other years]


Tuesday, July 20, 2004
Parked on the street outside friend Mary's house, Washington DC

Mary's friend Ann gave us a ride to Beckley's Camping Center in Thurmond, MD, yesterday morning to pick up Clementine. She wasn't quite ready so we sat around and read newspapers until about 2:00 p.m. at which point we did the paper signing to make her ours. Then Keith Wilhide, our salesperson at Beckley's, drove us to the gas station to fill'erup. [We selected Beckley's, and Keith, after shopping around several RV Centers. We recommend them highly.] We then gingerly drove Clemmie back through Frederick, MD (stopping to say "hi" to friends Dana and Marge en route) and then to DC and parked her at Mary's, went quickly to the nearby police station to secure a parking permit to place inside the windshield. We used our brand new levellers under one wheel--after it became very obvious that we really notice if our living space is off kilter (not to mention that evidently the refrigerator motor doesn't like it either).

Today has been work! We spent the weekend organizing all our stuff and planning where to stow it. We staged everything all over Mary's living and dining room--it would have been really tough to move directly off Callipygia into Clementine. Fortunately, living on Callipygia has given us good training on this subject--we know that a poorly planned stowage system can make life a living hell. Starting on arising (at 4:00am) Pat began hauling boxes and bags aboard and stowing everything. Then Bill and Mary went shopping for containers to make sure everything fit and was easily accessible in our numerous stowage spots. This little Winnebago has abundent and convenient stowage spaces. Found that it takes two people to fight with the mattress to get the bed made--but it sure is a comfy and roomy one. Finally, a trip to the supermarket filled up the refrigerator. By afternoon, we were very ready for happy hour, especially as several near and dear ones showed up to admire our new home-in-a-box and eat supper at Mary's. A very nice send off.

 

Thursday, July 22, 2004
Camped in Promised Land State Park, PA

Left Mary's at 9:40 am yesterday morning, scraping back corner of Clemmie against the tree in front of Mary's house as we went. Ooops. This truck is wider and longer than a car and it takes a bit of getting used to. Drove (still gingerly) to Rockville to do a short show-and-tell with friends Nikki and Gordon (who have many years of camping experience) who have kindly let us use a corner of their basement to store a few boxes with what little remained of our belongings. Left Rockville and headed north up I-270 to Rte 15. Stopped at Beckley's en route to buy a level and truck tire gauge. Made and ate lunch in the parking lot of the Visitors Center at Gettysburg sitting in a slopey spot next to another RV running a noisy generator to keep it's AC going. Then north to Harrisburg in I-83 then I-81 and finally turned east on I-84 towards Promised Land State Park, where we arrived at 5:20 pm. 220 miles today. Campground attendant out for dinner so drove to our reserved spot (#362 in the Beechwood area of the Lower Lake campground), plugged in, unloaded bikes, and broke out the champagne to celebrate our new living arrangements. Ate supper and rode bike to administration building to complete the registration process.

Today has been a lovely slog (do-nothing) day. Did practically nothing except biked a few miles to the nearest little village and ate ice cream. Everything on Clemmie seems to working perfectly. Quite a few kids and dogs in the nearby campsites. Fairly roomy and private, seems like a nice place. Nice showers.

 

Sunday, July 24, 2004
Parked at friends Susan and Henry's house, Easthampton, MA

Left our campsite at 9:50 am on Friday morning and toured round Promised Land state park. Rain started so didn't tarry. Gassed up at truck stop at entry to I-84 where we continued east into New York state. Busy, sometimes bumpy, road. Turned onto I-691, then I-91 into Connecticut and stopped to make and eat lunch at rest area near Danbury, CT. Back on the Interstate past Hartford, and onto Rte 141 to Easthampton where we arrived at 3:30 pm. 211 miles for the day. Great to see Susan, and later Henry when he came home from work. Entertained them on Clemmie for happy hour, and did some show-and-tell as well as being urged to visit Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore as we go through the upper peninsula of MI.

Saturday we helped Susan get ready for their annual party on the deck overlooking the river. We slept well here, soothed by the sound of the river going over the adjacent dam. Watched part of the Tour-de-France on their TV. Enjoyed the deck party, and S&H's pet Touloose Goose ("Hoover") -- the latter from a distance.

Today, watched the end of the Tour-de-France on TV (we had become "hooked"), then did a nice leisurely bike ride along a nearby "rail trail". Stopped in at the Audubon Acadia Center on the way back, but hopeless trail markings so after going round in circles gave up on attempt to find swamp overlook. Susan and Henry drove us up into the Berkshire's and we went for a pleasant hike among the pine forest.

 

Thursday, July 29, 2004
Parked at friends Gini and Herb's house, West Boxford, MA

Monday broke to more good weather. Left Easthamption around 9:00am and took Rte 10 through Deerfield, then east on Rte 2. Stopped for lunch at the BoxCar, a diner in Erving, which we passed on our way to I-495. Learning how to pick a place to park. Construction on I-495 confused us so we inadvertently went a long way round to get to W. Boxford, arriving at Gini and Herb's in the early afternoon.

Spent an enjoyable few days here, including taking time out for Bill to visit nearby siblings. Loved being guinea pigs for Gini to practice her massage and cranio-sacral training work. Went to nearby ice cream shop and pigged out. Did some nesting in Clementine. Biked around and explored the area. Loving our bikes.

 

Friday, July 30, 2004
Parked at Bill's daughter Donna's house in West Paris, ME

Left W. Boxford at 10:00 am after doing some house cleaning (inside Clemmie). Delighted with the ease of it. Took Rte 202 to Rte 111 briefly through New Hampshire, then Rte 35 south once into Maine to have lunch near Kennebunkport at friend Vicki's house--sorry to miss Al who was in Saskatchewan. Terrific spot, with field, pond, and sweat lodges. Then proceeded on Rte 35 to Rte 202 to Rte 121 to Rte 26 to West Paris. 197 miles for the day. Happy to see everyone here, and to remember our time last year in Grenada with Nicky (now 15) who visited us on Callipygia for a month and taught us how to be a "kid boat." Parked on nice flat spot at Donna and Nick's house, terrific view over the forest as the sun rises over the hills to the east. Checked with our insurance to see if we needed any additional coverage/documentation for going into Canada--we don't. Spent time engaging with the kids, and at little Dave's (8) urging, Pat began reading Harry Potter.

 

Saturday, July 31, 2004
Parked on the roadside near a field
hosting the 2004 Pinehenge School Reunion, near Denmark, ME

Left Donna and Nick's at 11 am and drove a short 31 mile trip to the location for the Pinehenge Reunion. Bill enjoyed the time reconnecting with former faculty and students. After a while, Pat went for a bike ride to explore the numerous ponds and (dirt) roads in the area. Ate good barbecued grub and socialized.

 

Sunday, August 1, 2004
Parked at Bill's daughter Donna's house in West Paris, ME

Rain in the night. We're parked in sand, and it is into everywhere. Near lunch time, retraced our route back to Donna and Nick's house, stopping to provision in Bridgeton. Made a huge pot of home-made spagghetti sauce and meatballs as dinner for all, plus plenty leftovers to freeze.

 

Tuesday, August 3, 2004
Camped at Rangeley Lake State Park, ME

Monday morning packed stuff for Kady (13) and Ashley (17) into Clemmie, while Nicky packed his things into big Dave's truck. Left West Paris at 10:00 am, in tandem with the truck, heading north on Rte 26, then right on Rte 232, and east on Rte 2 to Rumford. Provisioned at a Hannaford's (good supermarket chain) and crossed the Andrascoggin River to Mexico where we ate lunch. North on Rte 17, very scenic. Stopped in Byron to look at people swimming in gorgeous little gorge. Wished we had time to linger. On up Rte 17 into the mountains, almost collided with a big moose calf deciding which way to avoid us. Outstanding roadside overlook view of Lake Mooselookmeguntic. Then into Rangeley Lake State Park to register and settle in on campsite #11. No hookups and not very flat, but very private surrounded by heavy woods. Levelled Clemmie as best we could. Found path at the back of the campsite going through the woods to the lake. Muddy. Arranged to rent a canoe, and had it delivered. Nicky and Dave set up their tent alongside.

Last night, rain. Early morning coffee today sitting on a rock at the edge of the Lake, spectacular. Listened to the loons calling, saw a pair in the distance. Dave and Nicky went fishing but don't catch anything. Messy around and in Clemmie with the wet, rear wheel has sunk a bit on the soft ground. Gravel, mud, sand, grit on many feet in and out makes for frequent clean up. Good nearby hot showers and toilets. Pleasant day touring round on the bikes, taking turns to use them, and exploring the paths in the campground. Had fun watching the resident chipmunks fearlessly observing campers (and their dogs) while foraging around. Found two snakes sunning themselves on a tree branch overhanging the lake. Paddled the canoe along the lovely lakeside, were overtaken by two bald eagles flying low. Dark clouds built in the afternoon, presaging a storm to the north--we caught the edge of it with very heavy rain. All six of us comfortable inside Clemmie, waited and watched until it passed.

 

Thursday, August 5, 2004
Camped at Spruce Valley Campground, on Mt. Desert Island, ME

Wednesday morning, all is wet. Dried as best we could and packed up the campsite after breakfast. Love the sound of the loons, very distinctive. Left Rangeley by 10:00 am, and headed east along South Shore Rd to Rte 4, then south all the way to Auburn. 80 miles. Parked outside Laurie's house and deposited Kady, Ashley, and Dave's truck there. Ate lunch. We are down to four now (us, Nicky, and big Dave.) Headed to the Motor Home and RV Super Center (Winnebago dealer) to order replacement spark knob for the stove (doesn't spark) and get the "ding" fixed where we bumped the tree on leaving Mary's. Drove south on Rte 4 to the Auburn Public Scale and weighed Clemmie, front and rear axles, now that she is fully loaded. Glad we opted to have the heavy duty chassis and engine. Entered the Maine Turnpike going east towards Bangor. Painless "boomshoot" driving, not much traffic, good surface, and pretty. At Bangor we left the turnpike and went south on Rte 1A to Ellsworth, where we made a quick stop at Wal Mart (very RV friendly, though we don't like their employee practices or their global domination) to get a few needed items. Took Rte 3 to Mt. Desert Island and found our way to Spruce Valley--a private campground that had space available when we were looking last week. Not a bad place, decent campsites with hookups and facilities. 240 miles for the day.

Today, we took the free shuttle bus to Bar Harbour, went to the Visitor Center and oriented ourselves. Explored this little seaside town, with its beautiful views of the ocean. Walked along the shore for a while. Took the shuttle bus to Northwest Harbour where we ate lunch and walked around. Feelings of nostalgia on seeing the many sailboats in the marina and morred in the protected (and crowded) harbour offset by knowing that we've been there, done that, and don't need to do it any more. Late afternoon took the shuttle bus back towards the campground, stopping at Hinkley's Dreamworld Cabins just north of town to visit owner/operato,r Pinehenge alumnus and friend, John. Great place to stay for a vacation. Left Nicky there for the night to socialize with John's kids. Did three loads of laundry at the campground.

 

Saturday,August 7, 2004
Parked on the street outside Bill's daughter Laurie's house in Auburn, ME

Friday morning, we unplugged Clemmie from the campsite, filled the fresh water tank, and dumped our black and grey water at the dump station. Then we drove to John's to collect Nicky, parked Clemmie there and borrowed John's car for a day's sightseeing. Drove the loop road around Acadia National Park, stopping at various spots along the way to absorb the views. Thunder hole interesting by not very thundery since there wasn't much surf. Walked around one of the many ponds, and then drove up Cadillac Mountain to meet Nicky and Dave who hiked up the hillside trail. Summit parking lot filled with cars and tour buses (cruise ship is in the harbor). Crowds of people all over the summit, too many ignoring signs pleading for feet to stay on walkways and avoid trampling the fragile mosses and lichens growing on the rocks. This beautiful and very accessible park gets overwhelmed by visitors whose presence threaten its ecosystem. We filled out a National Park Service survey, part of an effort to figure out ways to minimize and/or control the crowds. Mid afternoon we returned John's car and piled into Clemmie to head back to Auburn, arriving at Laurie's in time for a late supper. 161 miles today.

Monday, August 9, 2004
Parked at Bill's daughter Donna's house in West Paris, ME

Yesterday, breakfast at Laurie's then a provisioning run. Dave has gone back to Toronto. Made the short drive back to Donna's (25 miles) and spent time grandparenting. Today, a gorgeous day, sunny and breezy. Watched the sunrise over the forest-covered mountains to the east.Went geocaching with Nicky and Kady. Looked for cache at Snow Falls, but couldn't find it. Then looked for cache on the edge of Norway Lake--couldn't find it either.

 

Thursday, August 12, 2004
Camped at Cathedral Pines Campground near Eustis, ME

Tuesday morning left Donna's and headed back towards Maine's Canadian border, arriving at Cathedral Pines between Stratton and Eustace in time for a late lunch--a 99 mile trip. A pretty place with some awesome campsites. Biked around to explore the campground and look at the lake. Rained that night and a showery day forecast for Wednesday. Rode our bikes up the highway towards Eustace--figured out we'd missed it and came back. Learned that it's a very small village set off from the highway, so turned round and biked back to look it over. Not much there. A good general store at the gas station near the campground, bought a folding grill and some charcoal, and some steaks. Friend Mary arrived (en route from Ottawa to the Maine coast) in mid afternoon. Ate steaks and lit a fire in the fire ring with the charcoal embers. This morning we took off in Mary's car and drove to the town of Rangely. Had a great time exploring it, then drove to Oquossoc and had outstanding lunch at the Four Seasons cafe. Rain threatening, so decided to go visit the Wilhelm Reich museum, and Orgonone--the observatory he built. Fascinating afternoon. Stopped in Rangely on the way home to eat soft icecream (32 flavor choice), and some "where do we go from here?" planning.

 

Saturday, August 13, 2004
Parked at friend Woody's cabin on Parlin Pond, near Jackman, ME

Yesterday morning we woke after a night of rain. Drove into Stratton in Mary's car and ate breakfast at the diner. Back to the campsite and packed up to leave -- we heading north, and Mary going south. Dumped our holding tanks at the campground (delighted with how easy this is, especially compared to a sailboat. No pumps, gravity does all.) We drove along the Dead River, then beside the Chain of Ponds on Rte 27 to the Canadian border. Once across the border, the woods and wilderness of Maine quickly gave way to neat agricultural communities and countryside of southern Quebec. Quite an astonishing metamorphosis. More rain, drenching at times as we progress northeast on Quebec Rtes 161, 204, and 209 to Armstrong. Then southeast on Quebec Rte 173 to the border, and US Rte 6/201 to Jackman. 120 mile trip. South of Jackman, passed a vista overlooking Parlin Pond and gingerly threaded our way into and along a driveway to park outside Woody's cabin. Watched two loons busy parenting their chicks, giving diving lessons, through his telescope. Canoed out to his little island where we had a potluck dinner and fed peanuts to tame chipmunk, Emilina, who rules the domain. Ruby-throated hummingbird feeding at the bird feeder. Cedar waxwings busy in the trees.

This morning, listened to the loons and drank coffee overlooking Parlin Pond. Then went for a hike into Parlin Gorge with Woody--loads of water rushing out of the Lake from all the rain. Found some fossils in the rocks by the river. Then back to the island for social time and darts with some neighbors of Woody's, and over to their "camp" (ie pretty nice cabin) for supper.

 

Monday, August 15, 2004
Parked on the street outside Bill's daughter Laurie's house in Auburn, ME

Left Woody's at first light yesterday, and headed south. Stopped for breakfast at Thompson's Restaurant in Bingham. Took a detour on Rte 16 on the west side of the Kenebec River, then back onto Rte 201, to the Maine Turnpike. Rain started again, the remnants of hurricane Charley, but not as much as feared. This morning took Clemmie to Greeley's Garage for first oil change and checkup. Almost 3,000 miles under her belt (including the 1,120 on delivery to Beckley's where we bought her.) Alignment a bit off so had it adjusted, checked tire pressure and inflated to meet specs now that she's loaded. Drove to Freeport with Mark, Laurie, and Ashley and ate seafood on the waterfront.

 

Wednesday, August 17, 2004
Parked at Bill's daughter Donna's house in West Paris, ME

A good couple of days back at Donna's, not much summer this year in Maine. Had a paperwork day after receiving our mail from St. Brendan's Isle (our Florida mailing agent) and did some grandparenting with Dave.

 

Thursday, August 19, 2004
Parked at friend Mike's house near Montpelier, VT

Left Donna's this morning just before 9 and took Rte 26 to Bethel, then Rte 2 west around the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Very hazy and thick, with a few breakthroughs of sun. Breakfast in Gorham, an interesting little town. Passed 3 wild turkeys by the side of the road. Parked in St. Johnsbury, VT and walked to the Visitor Center for maps, etc. Drove around Montpelier looking for a place to park and explore. Came up empty, so continued on to Mike's (a 132-mile day) and did some visiting, including a short hike in the woods. He drove us back to Montpelier to take a quick tour of the VT capital.

Wednesday, August 20, 2004
Camped in the Deep Woods section of Lei Ti Campground, near Batavia, NY

Left Mike's last Friday just before first light and headed south on Rte 89, just lovely in the swirling mists as day broke revealing the wending rivers. Lovely views of the Green Mountains, and stopped for breakfast in Stockbridge, at the Green Mountain Grille--we were the first customers at the newly repoened restaurant. Gassed up near Rutland, and then drove south along the Hudson River on Rte 4W to Saratoga Springs. Then Rtes 50, 67, and 30 to catch I-90 (New York Thruway) at Amsterdam. Pretty drive in parts along the Mohawk River. Stopped at a rest area to make and eat lunch and have a stretch/walk break. Our first long drive--very comfortable, taking turns with 2-hr "watches" at the wheel. Left the Thruway at Batavia and headed south to Lei Ti Campground (we had wanted to camp at Letchworth, but learned by phone that it was full.) We drove round the campground and found a spot in the Deep Woods area (#11) that had some privacy, and settled in there. This campground has many, many "seasonal" campers (euphemism for permanent fixtures, summer or weekend homes for the trailer owners.) Doesn't quite seem like our style, but here we are.

Found good biking in the nearby quiet roads, and good showers and toilets near our campsite. Cool mornings, we finally used our heat pump to warm things up of a morning. Friend Al, a serious birder, came from Rochester to stay with us for a couple of days and used his car to explore the area. We went to the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge -- saw Great Egrets, Great Blue Heron, Double-crested Cormorants, many Goldfinches, a Red-tailed Hawk, and a Marsh Hawk. Stopped at roadside stand to buy corn and peaches. We made an early morning trip to the Batavia Wastewater Treatment Plant--a birder's paradise. After checking in, we drove round the ponds and lagoons, and found a terrific assortment of waders and water birds. Quite amazing. After a couple of hours mesmerized on the end of our binoculars, we drove to Letchworth State Park--the Grand Canyon of the East. Drove around the park, stopping any number of times to hike or view the gorges and waterfalls. Toured the campground--learned it was generally only full on weekends during the summer. Stopped in at the visitor center and sat in on interpretive presentation about the Erie Canal. Enjoyed watching the gathering of the CCCA as part of its Finger Lakes CARavan. From Letchworth we crossed the river to visit the Visitor Center at the Mount Morris Dam, and learned about this project that provides flood control to the down-river area, including Rochester. An outstanding exhibit there. After Al left we rented a car for a couple of days. We took one day to drive north to look at the Erie Canal, and ate lunch alongside it in little town of Middleport. Walked along the twopath wishing we had our bikes with us. We are finding so many places where we could spend weeks exploring! Another day spent doing errands and provisioning. A busy 6 days at this campground, but not much nesting.


Thursday, August 26, 2004 Parked at friends Ralph and Barbara's house in the town of Clarence, near Buffalo, NY

Emptied tanks and refilled our propane at Lei Ti and left in mid afternoon for the short (32 mile) trip to Clarence. Delighted to have the opportunity to visit and reconnect with these old friends--an unanticipated bonus of this life style. Very enjoyable time trading stories and looking at photographs, and reminiscing of the time when we were neighbors 35 years ago.

 

Sunday, August 29, 2004
Parked on the street outside Bill's son Dave's apartment in Toronto, Canada

Arrived in Toronto on Friday afternoon after several stops around Niagara Falls to see the awesome rush of water into the gorge, and visit the Butterfly Conservancy--an interesting experience of being among thousands of butterflies fluttering around among various exotic plants and then sitting in rush hour traffic on the QEW much of the way thereafter. Made sufficient modifications to the website to load this first "On The Road" note. The prior travel notes will be added in September, once we get to Minneapolis--where we begin heading tomorrow via northern Ontario and the Michigan Upper Peninsula. Took the subway into the center city yesterday and walked our feet off, enjoying the sights and smells of downtown. This morning, biked along the shoreside path towards Toronto, admiring it's impressive skyline. RV'ing is turning out to be wonderful. We've spent more time with and seen more dear ones in the last two months than we did the entire 4 years we cruised. And we just love our new little home-in-a-box. Everything is convenient about her, can't think of a thing we'd change.

 

Tuesday, August 31, 2004
Camping (plugged in) at Chutes Provincial Park, Massey, Ontario, Canada

Left Toronto at 6:45 am yesterday, and headed out into the rush-hour traffic. Found our way onto Rte 400 going north and eventually left traffic behind. Very scenic drive, good road blasted through rocky outcrops beside numerous ponds, finding waits at a few construction projects--no complaints though, road was excellent. Rte 400 turned into Rte 69 north to Sudbury, where we joined the Trans Canada Highway (Rte 17) and turned west. Checked in at Chutes at 1:45pm. 296 miles, a pleasant trip. Plenty of vacant campsites, picked #6: level; roomy; private and shady; with a bit of afternoon sun on one side. Terrific modern toilets and showers. Took bike ride around the campground, with a quick detour to look at the Chutes waterfalls on the Aux Sables River.

This morning we hiked the trail beside the Aux Sables River, crossed over it to look at the numerous falls. Pleasant 4-mile hike. Took a brief dip in the river below the falls (too shallow to swim). Biked the short distance into and around the village of Massey, stopping at Post Office, museum, supermarket, and cafe. This campground is very convenient for biking to services. Very enjoyable stopover.

Saturday, September 4, 2004
Dry camping in 12-mile Beach Campground, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, MI

Left Chutes at first light on Wednesday morning,and continued west along the Trans Canada Highway as the rising sun behind us picked out the colors in the rocky outcrops. Breakfast at a diner in Bruce Mines. Overcast as we came into Sault Ste. Marie, alongside the edge of Lake Huron. Slow crossing the bridge to the US (construction, not customs), saw no freighters in the Soo Looks though a few out on the Lake, and then through a cursory border check on the Michigan side. The official glanced through our passports (all the pages have multiple stamps from cruising on Callipygia) and asked if we had been to Cuba. Stopped at the Visitors Center to get highway maps and campground information, and then filled up with gasoline. Weather not propitious so decided not to take time to tour Sault St. Marie, MI. Headed south on I-75, then east along Rte 28 to Seney. Good road, little traffic. Turned north on Rte 77 to Grand Marais on the shore of Lake Superior. Thence east on Rte 58 to the Sable Visitor Center where we picked up information on Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore--a sleeper if there ever was one. Continued west on Rte 58, which soon turned to dirt, and made our way to the 12-mile Beach Campground, arriving at 2:30pm. Day's trip 258 miles. Plenty of open campsites (37 total), and after driving around we picked #5--on the lake side, level, and near the toilets. Phenomenal huge, private, shady sites. Filled out self registration info and posted with the fee at the campground bulletin board. With our Golden Age passports, this best-yet-campsite is $5/day. Wandered around and settled in. Our campsite extends to the top of bluff, overlooking Lake Superior, in the shade of numerous pine trees. A quick walk down to the beach. Took out our new folding chairs, and carried them to the edge of the bluff--placed them in a gorgeous sitting spot and immediately named it"Paradise".

Thursday we drove Clemmie back to Grand Marais to check phone messages, buy groceries, and visit the little lakeside community. On the way back, stopped at Sable Falls (166 steps down--and back up), then to the Log Slide overlook to see the massive shoreside sand dunes and distant Sable Light, a reminder of the hundreds of ships wrecked along the shore of this Great Lake. Back home again, to take a bath in Lake Superior, then sat in Paradise to watch the sun set, completely awed by the beauty and immensity of this place.

Friday, more nice weather. Took a self-guided interpretive trail through the forest as it changes from pine to white birches. Learned how to distinguish White Pines (5 needles in a bundle, long thin cone, lighter smoother bark) from Red Pine (AKA Norwegian Pine, 2 long needles in bundle with long sheath, beautiful red-plated bark, round cones) and Jack Pine (double 1½" needles splaying apart, scrubby bark, lopsided curving cones). Also learned to identify Eastern Hemlock (½" needles, whitish underneath, with needles comblike, and having a narrow neck on symmetrical opposite twigs). Finally may get a grip on tree identification. Took another bath in the lake. Walked along the beach and collected an assortment of different colored and textured pebbles. Sat in paradise and got inspected by cheeky little chipmunk in whose property we trespass. Worked on learning DreamWeaver and planned website upgrade. Read our books, studied, thought and wrote a lot. Impressed with and delighted by the convenience and ingenuity of the systems in, and design of, our new home. Watched another beautiful sunset over Lake Superior from this outstanding campsite.

Today, more good weather. Campground has filled up for the weekend--mostly tents, some pop-ups, only 3 other RVs. We seem to be a generation older than everyone else here. We've also seen quite a few backpackers going through the campground as they hike along the Lakeshore Trail. We did the part going to Hurricane River and back (6 miles). Disturbed a big scarlet-crested Pileated Woodpecker, yelling at us until we left it's territory. Found a few young White Spruce trees alongside the trail (short blue-green 4-sided needles, unhairy twigs). Heard much delicate chirping and some zzzzzzzz...ing. Stopped in our tracks and waited--then saw a group of little wood-warblers foraging in the trees--one with a black cap, others yellow-greenish. Didn't have the binoculars, so couldn't narrow the species down. Saw a pile of (old) bear spoor on the trail, riddled with seeds. Helped ourselves to handfulls of wild blueberries. Returned home and took a soothing and cleansing bath in the lake. Out in paradise, heard the feeble little "henk, henk" of a pair of Red-Breasted Nuthatches, and got a good close-up view of them climbing up and down the tree trunks, foraging as they go. (Learned that Nuthatches go up and down, creepers and woodpeckers only go up). Watched a lone mature herring gull groom itself constantly for 10-minutes at the water's edge. This is a terrific spot, forcing us to pay attention to nature's details. Mind boggling how much there is to notice, of which we are normally oblivious. We're loving our week here, and will undoubtedly return next time we're in the region.

Monday, September 6, 2004
Dry camped in Bay Furnace Campground, Hiawatha National Forest

Sunday, up early in our lovely campsite at 12-mile Beach, but the lights are dim. House batteries depleted--taught us that, under normal usage, we can go about 48 hours without recharging them. Waited until 8:00 a.m. to turn on the generator, then ran it for a couple of hours--taking the opportunity to make a second, but electric, pot of coffee and to use the microwave. If we do a lot of dry camping, we'll look into adding solar panels. For now, everything is working just great. Later, one of us biked 3 laps (5 miles) round the campground, and then took a lengthy, brisk swim/bathe. The other rehiked the Forest Communities (White Birch)Trail. Weather changing, clouding/hazing over, onshore wind picking up, raindrops in the air. Need a barometer.

Totally delighted with our keep fit routine--and the choice of aerobic exercise options here: biking, hiking, swimming, or steps (to beach). Hybrid bikes working well on the dirt road, learning (painfully) to avoid piled up gravel and sand patches. Likewise delighted with little folding metal bookstand ($3) bought to use when doing DreamWeaver lessons, or for holding music at guitar/recorder time. So many small pleasures. All to say we are incredibly happy with the switch in life styles. Much as we loved Callipygia and wouldn't have missed our years cruising, so far our land travels are proving to be amazing. Much less tedium, anxiety, and inconvenience, fewer safety concerns, and a huge reduction in the tyranny of maintenance. Easy to visit/talk to loved ones. And easy to pick up and go, wherever and whenever we choose. The challenge now is to become wiser contributers to the wellbeing of the planet, and not just slide into simple hedonism.

Today is Labor Day, rain forecast. Batteries a bit low, so ran the generator for an hour. Put the bikes on the back of the truck and otherwise prepared so we are ready to leave whenever the spirit moves us. Rain arrived at 10:00 a.m. Campground is emptying. Listened to the news--Hurricane Frances is hammering Florida--following close on the heels of Charley. Wonder how our friends there are faring. Did some housekeeping and focused on our hobbies, listening to Beethoven symphonies. At 3:00pm decided to haul out and get some of the miles to Minneapolis under our belt. 14 miles of dirt road towards Melstrand. Found ourselves on a miserable wet washboard, mostly holding our speed near 10mph. Eye-popping, bone-shaking, teeth-rattling conditions. When we came along the 9-mile dirt part of the road from Grand Marais, the surface was fairly rut-free. This was something else but we endured it for 90 minutes before reaching paved surface. The price to pay for camping in pristine surroundings, evidently. Poor Clemmie, she must be filthy underneath. Sun came out as we reached Munising, and decided to stop for the night at Bay Furnace campground. Plenty of spots, picked #24 -- level, grassy, fairly open so we could enjoy the daylight for a bit while we sat at the picnic table, had happy hour, and planned tomorrow's route.

 

September 7, 2004
Parked in driveway behind Craig's house in Minnepolis, MN

Tuesday morning we were ready to leave Bay Furnace at first light. What a convenient and pleasant place, on the edge of Lake Superior. Vault toilets, no showers--but it had a dump station. With our Golden Age Passport only $5 for the night. Emptied the holding tanks on the way out of the campground. Our experience so far has definitely validated that public campgrounds (national/state/local/provincial parks and forests) are our preference. Continued east on Rte 2, with the rising sun behind illuminating the beauty of the lakeshore. Stopped for breakfast on the outskirts of Marquette, at Wahlstrom's Family Restaurant. Amazed at the variety of gambling options offered along with breakfast. Then south to Iron Mountain, where we stopped for gas. A passerby told us that Clemmie was making one hell of a noise so one of us got out while the other drove round the gas station. Sounded like hubcaps were full of gravel. Gassed up and drove to the adjacent WalMart Lube and Tire Center. After a 30-minute wait, got the hub caps removed and a lifetime supply of sand and gravel out, and also had the lug nuts checked to make sure they had the right amount of torque on them. No charge. Drove (quietly now) west through Wisconsin on Rte 8 to St. Croix Falls where we thought about stopping, but were making good time so decided to go all the way to Minneapolis. Arrived at Craig's around 7:00 pm.

 

October 1, 2004
Parked in driveway behind Craig's house in Minnepolis, MN

Spent the rest of our first week settling in with Craig, enjoying time in the evenings with him, doing chores during the dat to help him prepare for his move, and sightseeing the Twin Cities. Rode the new light rail train to Minneapolis City Center and explored. Excellent public transportation system. Went to look at kayaks at Midwest Mountaineering and picked Craig's brains as to type and features that would best suit us, and how best to hang one on Clemmie. Took train and bus to the Mall of America, that monument to America's consumer culture. Walked our legs off doing laps around the place. Took several bike rides along some splendid bike trails.

 

Sunday, November 7, 2004
Camped in Buck Hall Campground, Francis Marion National Forest, SC

Spent longer in Minneapolis than we intended--no predicting what can happen. Since we were spending a few weeks assisting Craig with his house remodelling projects, we decided it would be a good time for Bill to get his 5-year prostate checkup. Biopsy, bone scan, Catscan, etc. All well, except prostate cancer still present, still localized, and a bit further along than five years ago. Since he's in otherwise excellent health decided to have it removed. Surgery on October 20 went well and all pathology reports are clean. Remained at Craig's until last Thursday when the Dr. released Bill and removed the catheter. Our weeks in Minneapolis were great, much biking on wonderful bike paths. Very friendly and easy to negotiate city. But... weather began cooling down and we've had to begin using our heating systems. Found a little ceramic heater that worked wonders while we're plugged in. Followed closely the progress of hurricane Ivan, and watched as the disaster in Grenada unfolded. Held the islanders, and cruisers there, in our hearts and made a donation to the Grenadan Embassy in DC for disaster relief. Thought about the wonderful time we had there in Callipygia last year. Email from cruising friends in Florida, blasted by Charley and Frances and now waiting anxiously to see what Ivan will bring.

Left Minneapolis at 6:30am on Friday and headed east on I-94 to Madison, WI, then I-39 south to Bloomington, IN, and I-74 east towards Indianapolis. Took a lengthy break at a rest area west of Indy, ran the generator, ate supper and slept. Left the rest area at 1:40am on Saturday and bypassed Indianapolis on I-465, then I-65 south to Louisville, KY. From there took I-64 east to Lexington, then I-75 south to Knoxville, then I-40 east to Asheville, passing through the Great Smoky Mountains. From Asheville, we turned south on I-26 towards Charleston. at 6:40pm we found a motel room 40 miles north of Columbia SC, where we showered and slept away from the highway noise. Awoke to a lovely sunny day and hit the road again at 8:07 am. Arrived in this lovely campground soon after noon and were allocated a campsite on the InterCoastal Waterway--perfect spot. 1,403 miles in 2½ days. Proved to ourselves we can easily make serious miles if/when we need to.

 

Wednesday, November 10, 2004
Parked in the secure storage area at Oak Plantation Campground, Charleston, SC

Enjoyed a few days in bucolic Buck Hall, gorgeous sunny weather. Many sailboats heading south to Charleston on the ICW--nostalgia creeping over us as we watch and miss our sweet Callipygia. But we don't miss the neverending tyranny of maintenance, or the overbearing Caribbean heat. Spent most of today preparing to leave Clementine, emptying and defrosting the freezer and winterizing the plumbing. Then, cab to hotel near the airport preparing to fly to DC for Thanksgiving, and Juneau for Christmas.

 

Tuesday, December 14, 2004
Visiting Dear Ones in Washington, DC

An eventful month. We have enjoyed much quality time with friends and family. We've been reminded afresh what it's like to live in a city, to read the daily newspaper, and to watch television. Some of it's good, some not so great. We had 6-weeks worth of mail forwarded to us, and as usual dealt with a few snafus. Pat volunteered for a week at Covenant House. We worked on the concept for a project that has been bubbling slowly up through our consciousness--riding on an irresistable and profound emerging desire to do something measurable and concrete on behalf of our (and everyone's) grandchildren. We have spent much time talking, thinking, and reading as our project's vision has clarified. This included spending three entire days immersed in Spiral Dynamics at a workshop put on by Don Beck. We met and had dinner with Mark Satin, author of The Radical Middle, recommended reading for all who are keeping a watch on the future. We will post more details of our workshop project on the website as we clarify it's design.

Finally, today with much wrenching of the heart, we closed on the sale of Callipygia to John, a singlehander from Virginia. We said goodbye to her, and wished them both well. Thanks to our time with her, we are different people now. And tomorrow, we fly off to Juneau to be with kids/grandkids for the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Click here to continue reading the Log of our RV Travels in 2005

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