Monday, July 31, 2017

Looking Forward

With the trip drawing to a close, we've been discussing a lot of things that we're looking forward to.  Amazingly, a lot of it is food.  There are other things, too, though.  I thought I'd share a bit of what we're thinking.


  • A real bed
  • Alone time
  • Schedules
  • Library
  • Our church
  • Batch cooking
  • Homemade ice cream
  • People
  • Bath


  • Long shower
  • Baked bread
  • Bigger bed


  • Long shower
  • New video games
  • Baked bread
  • Regular bed
  • Library
  • Bigger fridge
  • Bigger pantry


  • More room
  • Wii U
  • Computer
  • Variety of meals
  • Library
  • Relatives
  • Longer showers
  • Temperature control


  • Long shower
  • Getting a dog
  • Bath
  • Chinese food on a girls' day out
  • Asiago bread
  • Own room
  • Garden


  • Hot bath
  • Relatives
  • Garden
  • A space to do gymnastics
  • Variety of food
  • Bigger bed/more room
  • Friends
  • Staying in one place


  • Books
  • Toast with jam
  • Homemade cornbread
  • Spice China
  • Famout Dave's
  • Chicken wings and cheese fries
  • Legos

There you have it.  Not comprehensive by any means, but what's on the top of our minds right now.

Ranger Talks

When we were in Shenandoah, our buddies came to visit us.  After that visit, they told us to let them know if we were going anywhere interesting for the summer.  We mentioned Acadia, and boom, they decided to come out.  So exciting!  Their visit doesn't completely cover our stay in Acadia, we had a couple days before their arrival.  The first day we went international because they don't have their passports and couldn't do that with us.  The second day, we took in a couple ranger talks.  I stayed back with the older kiddos for the first one.  Bill and the younger guys went and heard a talk about birds.  The ranger was impressed with their knowledge and identification skills, and since they were the only ones who showed up, got to have some personalized attention.        
The second talk we all headed out to hear.  It was the touch tank at the Schoodic Education and Research Center.  This one was truly cool.  She spoke on a variety of ocean critters, and then passed them around to hold.  Very popular talk.  She started with periwinkles, which are fairly small.  She kicked it up a bit with a sea urchin, grossed us all out with a moon snail, let the kiddos touch (while she held) a sea star, and then brought out the star--a Maine lobster (banded, of course).  Some of the things were only for touching, but most things got passed around for holding.  The moon snail released a LOT of water while the last kiddo was holding it, and the ranger assured us it was only water.  I love being in national parks.  There's just a vibe in the parks that I enjoy.  We've been away from national parks for so long, it's truly exciting to be back in one.  And from here on out, we're only visiting NPS sites when we stop.  It's been a long year+, we're almost done, but we still have many NPS sites on our list.  

Saturday, July 29, 2017

New Brunswick

Ah, another trip to our northern neighbors.  When looking at our atlas, I had decided upon Aroostook State Park, up near Caribou.  I mean, Caribou, right?  Only there are no caribou in Caribou.  But it is fairly northern, and the atlas had tons of roads in and through the area, so there must be a grocery store nearby, right?  So with all those reasons, that's why we went north (plus, I had never been that north in Maine before).  But Bill found a cheaper campground (Maine's state parks are EXPENSIVE) with full hookups in New Brunswick.  We are much happier when we're able to use many lights, can run A/C when needed, and can watch a movie now and again.  So we took advantage of Canada's hospitality.  
We stayed at Mulherin's Campground near Grand Falls, New Brunswick.  Bill found this by accident, as it doesn't show up in any of his apps, but it was recommended to him by another campground that was filled up for the weekend.  Mulherin's is so nice, we decided to stay the week until we had reservations at Acadia.  The first night we took a walk to the pond, Bill showed off his duck calling skills.  They seriously booked it over to us.  By the time we left, they were wise to us.  Some would always come over, but it was just perfunctory--someone was paying them good money to appease the crazy customers!            
We could hear a ton of frogs, but only found them now and again.  Amazing camouflage those guys were sporting.  NB took this picture--the frog looks just like the slime he's living near.  There are tall grasses on the edge of the pond, and I scared a frog that was in those grasses one day.  He moved so fast, he freaked me out.  Clearly I need to work on my zen meditation.                
The evening before we left, I spotted this dude.  Bill checked with the owners of the campground, and he's a muskrat.  Apparently there's a whole family there, but this one is the only one I ever saw.  Never saw it again, in fact.  Not for lack of trying, trust me.                  
We also crossed back into the US a couple times.  One evening we went to Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge, which was in maintenance mode, so we didn't do much.  The auto tour was shut down for spraying and such.  We also wanted to find the moose that everyone assured us we'd find aplenty, but we missed those, too.  We did drive Rt. 1 all the way up to Ft. Kent.  It was a pretty cool drive, very scenic, and much more populous than people led us to believe.  Still rural, but towns interspersed throughout, unlike the west, where you can go for hundreds of miles with NOTHING.            
We did NOT eat at McDonald's for dinner, despite the promise of surf and turf.  Yeah, we passed.                                        
Back in Canada, we hit the Gorge and Falls.  So beautiful. We even walked out on a scenic overlook.  If you looked down, you could see all the way to your death.  I only made that mistake once.                                      
On our way back, we saw Saturn.  It was at that point that I remembered that the University of Maine has a HUGE model of the solar system up and down Rt 1.  We missed the sun through Jupiter, but we managed to see all the rest.  It was really cool to see as we drove down the highway.  My pictures did NOT turn out well, but the website shows them off very nicely.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Mt. Katahdin

Bill found us a campground right off the Penobscot River about 40 or so minutes away from Baxter State Park, which is where Mt. Katahdin resides.  Maine state parks are EXPENSIVE for out of staters--they tack on a $10/night charge for non-residents, and if you reserve in advance, you can tack on another $5/night for that.  Oh, and then you pay the 9% resort tax.  Yowza.  All that for non-electric (and vault toilets).  Man, I miss the Southwest for affordability in so many campgrounds.  The Northeast has been bad for us financially.  So beautiful, though.  This shot was taken on the river as Bill and I were canoeing.  We also got use of the kayak, which was new to all of us except Bill.  The kids got a huge kick out of it.                          
  Pine Grove Campground has electric sites, flush toilets, hot showers, and use of the canoes and kayaks for $30/night plus the 9% tax.  Camping fees are hard to swallow sometimes, but the amenities are good, so we're at least using what we've paid for.  The kids were simply dying to use the kayak.  Something new, I guess.  They were all pretty good at it, too.  We stayed out a lot of the morning, but then the heat got to us.  It's been close to 90 F lately, and about 90% humidity.  BLECH.  We've really been spoiled in CO with such low humidity there.  And the bugs here are atrocious.  We're not having as many difficulties with black flies like we were warned, but the mosquitos are a nightmare.  And I've started seeing deer flies.  I react very strongly to deer flies.  K got bitten by one and then informed me that she can understand why I dislike them so much.  We're using a ton of bug spray, I've got punk sticks we light.  Still being eaten alive.  The top of my foot has some enormous bites on it. Someone needs to explain to me the beneficial aspects of these biting insects.                    
J loved being independent in the water.  I was impressed with how easily he took to it, too.  So much fun to be out on the water like that.  We decided to visit the new national monument up here--Katahdin Woods and Water.  Except that it's so new, there's nothing really established. Oh, and the locals have some malcontent over a national park there, so we didn't see much.  We did get to see a view of Mt. Katahdin, though.  We kept driving to a place out near Baxter State Park.  They have height restrictions that we don't meet inside the park, so we didn't get over there.  I'm going to touch the AT out this way, though, just to say I did.  Even if I don't get to climb Mt. Katahdin.

Bradbury Mountain

Way back in the early spring, I made reservations for Acadia National Park.  They allow reservations up to six months in advance, so that's what I did.  We lived in ME when I was but a wee lass (wee-ish), so my parents said we should go in August based on their black fly experiences.  Because of activities we want for the late summer/early fall, we just didn't want to wait that long, so we have reservations for the end of July/beginning of August.  Man, oh man, do we have a long time to kill before our reservations.  We've been killing time since Vermont.  We loved Vermont, so we stayed there something close to two weeks, we stayed almost a week in New Hampshire, and we still have almost two weeks to kill in Maine before our week in Acadia.  Could we have spent more time in the Mid-Atlantic?  Yes, yes we could have.  Would it have killed us to check out Delaware?  I really don't know.  But we should have done it, cuz I'm not hitting it on our way home.  At any rate, I planned out three campgrounds I wanted to hit in our 11 nights.  First on the list?  Bradbury Mountain State Park.  
Bradbury Mountain State Park is only about five minutes outside of Freeport, so we dropped the trailer and made it level, then headed out to see L.L. Bean.  Having been there as a kid, it was built up in memory (I was a SMALL child).  While it's not as large as I remember in any one of their stores, they have a complex of four or five stores.  It was so amazing, we had to visit it twice.  I love L.L. Bean.          
Being that close to Freeport also put us pretty darn close to Brunswick.  This is our old church, St. John the Baptist.  I love this church.  My plan had been to go to Sunday evening mass (changing campgrounds on a Sunday usually means no church for us that day, which is hard for us), but they only have one mass on Sundays, and that's in the morning.  So I contented myself with seeing the outside.  Trust me, the inside is gorgeous, too.                
Right next to the church is the school.  I went there for 5th, 6th, and half of 7th grades.  Pretty much looks the same.  They had a playground that I don't remember, but being in the older grades, we played on the asphalt parking lot behind the school.  Perhaps the playground was always there.  It was neat seeing Brunswick again.  I've not had much chance to ever see a place I used to live, except my adult locations.  We even drove by the old house.              
Bradbury Mountain State Park was nifty to see.  We only stayed two nights, so our exploration of it was limited, but it's a small park, so I feel we saw pretty much everything.  The kids noticed this tree at our campsite.  The acorn is still somewhat attached, which was pretty cool to see.                                      
We took the trail map, and G marked us out a route to hike a couple miles.  I think we did a total of seven trails, but only about two miles.  We started with Summit, which is their steepest trail.  I felt it, too.  I wasn't the only one in our group that was short of breath, though.  Need to get hiking on a regular basis again!  The view from the top, though, was gorgeous.  It was a hot day, so we were a bit tired, but everything else was pretty much downhill for us.                                
Another group of hikers stopped and helped us out with a family photograph.  Bill's not here because he got some work that had to be done.  Only a few hours, but that supplements our savings, so yeah!  We had a great time in Pownal, ME.  Next on the list, Mt. Katahdin.


After our brief stay in the Kancamagus Highway area, we headed north to Pittsburg.  Moose Alley.  Home of the moose.  Moose everywhere.  I read about it online.  Totally see moose.  Totally.  
Not a moose.                        
Not a moose.                        
Not a moose.                        
A moose!  Three nights, two porcupine, one skunk, and finally a moose.  Our friend above is a resident of the campground that J spotted as we were headed out of the campground headed to Maine.  The skunk we found entering the campground after a fruitless night of moose hunting, and the porpucines were on Moose Alley, even though they're not moose.  Two of the nights we went cruising for a viewing we made it to the Canada border.  We were staying within 15 miles of the border, which is pretty darn high up.  Our campground was above the 45th parallel.  It was gorgeous, mountainous, lakey, and cool.            
Seriously, check it out.  Each campsite was secluded from the others with a nice line of trees, but we're all super close to the road so we can check out the lake across the road easily.  We stayed at a private campground, they had lake access, a dock, and we could use the paddle boats after signing a waiver.  They also had horseshoes that NB loved.  He got quite good at it.  He asked me to play, but I am tragically not good at it.  Everyone managed to avoid getting hit by a flying horseshoe thrown by me, but it took active work.              
We only went out once, but it was a lot of fun.  There was a lot of wind that day, so we had some difficulty getting around, but the views couldn't be beat.  The kids also decided they didn't like the design of paddle boats--they all came back with bruises up and down their spines.  Blech.                  
The kids love getting in the water.  They are insane.  That water is COLD.  COLD.  Let's reiterate--C-O-L-D.  But they were all super pouty when I told them it was time to get back to camp because I, being the dry and sane one, was chilled merely by the outside air.  But it helped that we went up the street for a snack.  NB and I wanted something warm, but all there was to be had was ice cream.  I passed, not wanting to get any colder, but my entire family went in for the icy treat.  They all got kiddie cones, which was good, because those were bigger than some of the kids' heads.  Good price to quantity ratio, but waaaaaaaayyyyyyyy too much ice cream.  Not that any of it went unconsumed.  But still....  We had such fun at Ramblewood, we would go back.  Such a great place to just kick back and relax.  We've had a lot of campgrounds where we're on the go, especially on the East Coast.  Going and doing, seeing and exploring--it was nice to just be somewhere to play pool, go for a quick swim, play badminton, read a book.  So, so very nice.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

White Mountains

Camping East Coast is way different from other places we've been.  Especially once you get past the mid-Atlantic.  We've encountered really restrictive definitions of family for what a camping fee covers, expensive campgrounds, and a severe lack of National Parks and such.  We camped at the only COE spot in all of Vermont, and we loved it.  VT apparently has very restrictive sewer laws, so camping fees cover two adults and two children.  Every kid after that (for sites that accommodate up to eight people) is $5/night.  Except at COE, who doesn't care how many kids you have.  So it seems that the "restrictive law" and the need to recoup the dollars isn't entirely fair.  But whatever, we've struggled to find places that willingly accept all the kiddos.  Without additional charges.  In NH, we looked for US Forest sites within the White Mountains.  We stayed at Russell Pond because they have flush toilets and hot showers.  At $24/night, that's the most expensive White Mountains campground.  And the showers were mighty expensive ($2.50/5 minutes).  So we only stayed two nights, but we had a blast checking out the Kancamagus Highway!  
We started our day at the Visitor's Center, where we checked out this HUGE moose stuffed animal.  There are signs that warn of hundreds of collisions with moose, so stay aware!  Have we seen a moose yet?  Not so much.  But we've had fun exploring.  K and NB decided to do the Jr. Ranger booklet for the forest, so we got that and headed out.                
NB wanted to look like he was leaning on the mountains.  Not quite the look he was going for, but I took the pic nonetheless.  This was our first scenic overlook.  There were a ton, so eventually we just passed by and only stopped at the ones that locals recommended to us.                                      
We took a short hike to Sabbaday Falls.  The lady at the Visitor's Center said that our best bet for falls were the ones closest to the road, the shortest hikes.  She said that the ones with longer hikes were just trickling.  I don't know if the ones further in are always struggling with water, or if that's just a right now kinda thing.  At any rate, we took her advice.  The hike to Sabbaday Falls is only 0.3 miles, but it is GORGEOUS.  This is the start, just past the signs that tell us about the trail and why it was named such (Sabbath Day -- Sabbaday).                                
G and NS decided to cross the brook.  But as they progressed towards the waterfall, they realized that they couldn't really cross back.  So they had to turn around and find a good spot.  G refused any help, and he ended up with a foot in the water.  While he was wearing socks and his hiking boots.  He then changed into his water shoes to finish the hike.  Originally he and Bill weren't going to finish the hike, but the rest of us took so long at the falls, they decided they should see what kept us so occupied.                                
This waterfall is amazing.  It cut through the granite, so there are walls around it.  It turns corners.  It pools three times.  The water is still blazing a trail through the rocks, as you can sometimes spot water shooting out from UNDER the rock sheets.  Such a fantastic waterfall!                  
Ok, I don't have the signs in front of me, nor did I actually take a picture of the signs, but I believe there are granite and basalt layers here.  This is the bottom most part of the falls.  You have to get out on the rocks to see this part, but it's totally worth stepping off the beaten path.  Take the time, see the extra bit.  So cool.                                          
This is from the top most pool.  You can see that it turns the corner.  Just a really cool fall.  Come to the White Mountains, see Sabbaday Falls.                      
We also stopped at Rocky Gorge, where Bill continued the tradition of dunking heads in the cold water.  The kids love it.  I would not, so I stay away!                                        
Rocky Gorge also has some pretty amazing water action going on.  Lots of small falls, tons of water.  No swimming allowed, the currents are just too strong.  The kids were a little upset with how close I came to some of the falls, but I was always safe, and I got some amazing pictures.  I did get a little bit stuck at Sabbaday Falls--the rock I chose as a landing pad for one of my pictures was a little slick just beyond me, so getting back up was a bit of a challenge.  But I managed with a little help from K and all is well.                                
These were the cool falls at the gorge.  Lots of rushing water, tons of power zooming past us.  Sabbaday Falls and Rocky Gorge were quick stops for us, but such amazing beauty.  And that's only about halfway through the Kancamagus Highway.                  
We only did one more stop, at Lower Falls.  But we stayed a good long time.  Someone at King Arthur Flour told us to go to Cascade Park for the granite waterslide.  We never did find it, but I read that there are many places to stop and slide down the granite into the water on the Kancamagus.  This is one of those places.  We forgot towels, so Bill didn't want the kids to get into the water.  Here NB and J are pretty much following that edict.                
At this point, J is pretty darn wet.  I gave up and told the kids they could get into the water.  I had a couple who really wanted to wear their swimsuits to be in the water, so they headed to the car to change.  In all fairness, their street clothes were still pretty dry, so it made sense to change.  J and NS were completely soaked, so it made more sense for them to carry on.  NS was the only one who actually slid down the granite slide.  He did that a couple of times.  Wisely, the others decided to skip out on that because they didn't feel good about it.  Since I wasn't actually in the water (nor in a suit, so not at all prepared for rescue work), I appreciated that they were cautious.  And really, I watched many teens and adults hesitate up at the top.  The one guy who completely laid down made me nervous--I felt like  that was a head injury waiting to happen.  The slide wasn't completely smooth, it was quite bumpy at parts.  But I cheered everyone brave enough to try.                      
Clearly the water was cold.  K was doing the cold dance in the water at this point.  Right behind them is another slide area, but the water went under rocks, so the kids opted not to try to slide it.  The rock that Bill and I sat on was quite slick, so even though I didn't end up in the water, I still did a granite slide.  So did Jack.  So did a lot of others.  But there were no injuries, so it was a fun accident.  We spent several hours here, it was just a really great stop.  How much fun would it be to live near something so amazing that you can use for free?!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Play Time

We had access to the brook at Winhall Brook campground, and the kids LOVED it!  We only went a few times, because we went out and checked out the area quite a bit, but it was a great benefit to the campground.  Winhall Brook is run by the Army Corps of Engineers, and we adore COE campgrounds.  They're clean, they have free showers, they're cheap(ish), they're on water, and they don't charge a reservation fee.  LOVE THEM!!!  At any rate, the brook is home to tadpoles & polliwogs, crayfish, frogs, salamanders, and huge spiders.  I avoided seeing the spiders.  The kids enjoyed catching all the critters.  G preferred to pile up the rocks to affect the currents.  Piling up the rocks to create a protected area was good for critter watching, too, because then they put the critters in the protected area to observe them.  Turns out that tadpoles/polliwogs/crayfish etc... don't enjoy being confined in a palm.  Who knew?                        
There's an obsession with throwing rocks.  I got involved, but that's never a good thing.  My aim is such that I'm a walking catastrophe.  So I hit Bill's ankle with a HUGE rock.  Frankly, I'm amazed I got it that far.  Amazed isn't exactly how Bill felt about it.  But he started it.  We also spent time rock skipping.  I got a few that skipped, and one that went pretty far, but I got a lot of sinkers.  It was fun, and good exercise for my shoulder.  I was feeling that one for a few days.  Clearly I need to be doing more heavy lifting and throwing.                                
I headed back to the trailer early, which let me get this picture of everyone from the bridge.  The bridge was a bit narrow, and some of the rigs coming through are pretty big, so watching people come into the campground was sometimes frightening.  But everyone made it, even if they had to take several chances to line up their rigs.  And hit the rails.  I bit my nails a few times.  I wouldn't let the kids play under the bridge when this one guy came through, I just felt like he was going to jump the rails and come into the brook.  Didn't happen.  Not for lack of trying, though.            
As we left Vermont to spend time in New Hampshire, we stopped in Norwich at the King Arthur Flour store/school/ bakery.  Pure heaven.  I could have stayed all day, but we confined it to just a wee bit of shopping, lunch, and watching a baking class for kids.  So, so, so very tasty.  And some many varieties of flour I don't ever find in the grocery store.  I left them behind, but I took a catalog so I can order some.  I want to experiment with my pizza crust, get that tastier/lighter/crisper/better.  We may stop back in on our way back to CO.  Just looking at the picture again, I'm in love.  Oh, I do so love a store with a demo kitchen.  And cooking tools.  And cookbooks.  I'm drooling....                            
And I leave you with this...the McLobster Roll.  You're welcome.

Saturday, July 8, 2017


Sleep has eluded me, off and on, since the Southwest.  Starting in Texas, breathing was difficult, and I started panic attacks at night.  Because my breathing was just so out of whack, I developed anxiety about nighttime, especially lying down and trying to sleep.  And so I wouldn't.  I would make myself tea or cocoa (up to four cups at night, just to smooth out my breathing--sometimes it helped, sometimes it didn't), play games on my device (an old trick taught to me by a social worker who thought my allergies were a mental problem), go for walks, and cry.

Fast forward four months, and I'm still in the same boat, minus the breathing issues.  I am very thankful that my breathing is under control, and I now have my emergency inhaler for when it isn't.  But my anxiety and my sleeping AREN'T under control.  I freak out if I can't get to sleep immediately.  My mind goes to all the things that could happen, including things that may (or may not) happen when I'm old and dying.  And so I don't sleep until late.  Last night, late came at 7:30am.

I don't want to depend on medication to get me to sleep.  But man, I need to break this cycle of anxiety.  I need to learn to relax and settle down.  If I can't do this soon, I'm going to be in so much trouble.  I need my sleep.  My family needs me to sleep.


The Fourth of July this year was low key for us, which is really not that different.  From our house in CO we could see several cities' fireworks, so we tended to stay home.  This year we were at a resort-y RV park where you could see fireworks from nearby cities if you were down by the pool.  So that's what most everyone did.  Earlier in the day we had some fun food and such, we decorated the trailer, and just laughed a lot.  
Watermelon is something we almost never have on the road.  We generally don't have the space for it, cutting it makes a lot of trash, blah blah blah.  But it was the Fourt of July peeps, watermelon was a must for us.  Not the best watermelon we've ever had, but because it had been so long since we'd had watermelon, it disappeared almost before I even got any.                                  
The kids had never had deviled eggs before, and I had to use up some eggs.  Fate.  I must be starving the kids, because these also disappeared in a jiff.  I'm not a fan of hard boiled eggs, so I did not partake in the deviled egg experience.  But I do put hard boiled eggs in my potato salad, which I DO eat.  There's no explaining me.  The kids also got to spend time down at the pool.  This was our first time having a swimming pool, aside from the times when we've been at hotels.              
Dinner was homemade mac and cheese and some fried chicken tenders.  On festive plates.  That's one of the things I miss from being in a house--I miss decorating and the associated making of stuff for holidays.  Not that I miss making a mess and such, but I miss getting into the holidays.  I know people do that on the road, but I think they're also the people who are only out for that particular holiday, not out for an entire year.  Space is limited, our focus is other places.  So we forgo some of the things that we enjoy in order to do new things that it turns out we enjoy as well.  

This month is full of celebrations for us.  Our country's birthday, the anniversary of starting this glorious trip, my birthday, and many other "ordinary" celebrations (ice cream for everyone!).  I hope that as you read this blog, you think about travelling the country as well.  There is so much to see and do all over this awesome country of ours.  There's no possible way to see and do everything, but getting out and doing and seeing something you've never seen or done before just is so fantastic.  Even if you never want to do it again!

Friday, July 7, 2017


I do not use Instagram or Twitter, but I thought I'd go ahead and do a Flashback Friday.  
That's us, 12 months ago exactly!  We have reached our goal of at least a year, and what a ride it's been!   We've seen wildlife.....
We've seen the shore...
We've gone to the mountains...
We've been through the desert...
We've had fun with family...
We've met up with friends...
We have seen and done so much this year.  We're thankful for the opportunities this year has given us to reconnect with family and friends, to see things we've only read about, and to see things we've never even known existed!  We've explored caves and sinkholes, played in the surf, hugged cacti (not really...don't try this at home, kids), walked with the burros, held alpaca, endured a million bug bites and a case of Lyme, toured factories, seen glass blown and iron poured, eaten our way through the treats of different regions, and just generally had a blast.  Our trip doesn't end for another seven weeks or so, so we still have adventures ahead of us.  And when we're done travelling, adventure awaits us in CO, too!