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Friday, August 14, 2015

PA back Home

We broke camp early and headed over to the dump station to clean out all the tanks before heading home. We hadn’t been impressed with the bathrooms and shower facilities, and were pleased when the ranger that took our payment said they were closing in September to build new facilities. They have another campground in the same park and that even has a large pool with a water slide. It will be on our list of places to stop when traveling to the northeast.  

Traffic was heavy again with lots of construction in Pennsylvania adding another couple of hours to the trip. We rolled into our driveway at 6:34 and cooked dinner in the “big” kitchen in our own house!  After dinner we added it all up and realized we traveled 3,401 miles in just under two weeks. Now it is time for a little rest before taking Noah back to school for his senior year on Sunday.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

RPI to Caledonia State Park

Auditorium at RPI
The real reason for the trip to Brenda’s was so we could tour the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) campus in Troy. A combination of very old and ultra-modern buildings sit on the side of a hill overlooking the Hudson River Valley. We were a bit disappointed in the school since they only offer one language, Mandarin Chinese, and Noah is interested in minoring in linguistics. The other disappointments were that our tour guide didn’t know if they had the latest technology, like 3D printers, and they are the most expensive university we’ve visited – even more than MIT or Harvard! The new auditorium with multiple concert halls was an impressive building with great views. In contrast, the computing center is in an old stone church. We’re glad we visited, but RPI is at the bottom of Noah’s list. We made lunch in the parking lot before heading out on the road towards home. 

The route took us through New York and into Pennsylvania. We discovered we were very close to New Jersey when we pulled off at an exit to get diesel and there was an attendant pumping fuel! New Jersey is one of the few states that isn’t self-service. 

That night we stayed in the Hosack Run Campground at Caledonia State Park near Gettysburg. We arrived after the office closed at 3:30, so just picked a spot and filled out a form saying we would pay for it in the morning. So far, we much prefer State & National parks to private campgrounds. They generally have much more privacy between sites and often have trail systems and scenery that can’t be beat.  The pleasant ranger at the office explained that the campground would be closing this fall for major renovations. They plan to add more handicapped accessible sites and more sites with electric service.

It was Beth’s birthday, so we pulled some small presents out of the tire well and had ice cream to celebrate.  Noah made one of his interesting paper sculptures that unfolded into a card.

Interior of Auditorium

RPI Quad

RPI Playhouse

Sustainable New Building

Historic Computing Center

We laughed when picked up by a Durham School Bus

Unique Birthday Card

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Portland, Maine

On Street (Hill) Parking
Don & Donna filled us up with delicious scrambled eggs and sent us on our way with two bags of homemade cookies. 

Traveling south, the sun came out and we decided to stop in Portland because my cousin Linda mentioned a walking trail on the harbor front with a narrow gauge railroad. Boats & trains are two of my favorite things. Parking on a hill with beautifully restored old homes, we walked around until we heard a horn, then followed the sound down to the harbor, finding the little old train running by the wharfs. Scroll down for a short video, the first we've uploaded to a blog.

After climbing the hill to reach the the van we headed south to Brenda’s house in New York. We arrived in time to join my sister Brenda for dinner at a pub near their house. They had just returned from Scotland & England, so we were able to hear the tales of castles and gardens from their trip. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

New Brunswick to Maine

Today we’re headed back down to the US from Canada. We decided to take the main highway rather than run into more construction. The hills and St John River valley are scenic. We stopped in Fredricton, the capital of New Brunswick, for lunch in a city park.  It looks like the old parts of the city would be interesting to explore.  We would need to plan ahead with a better map as there wasn't any obvious places to park on our quick pass through the city.

Throughout the trip we kept our eyes peeled for moose, but didn’t see any except on highway warning signs. 

Just after crossing the border back into the US, the skies opened up and it rained for the rest of the day. By late afternoon we made it to Uncle Don & Aunt Donna’s cottage on Three Mile Pond. They were kind enough to warm us up with delicious chicken stew and let us sleep in the warmth of their cabin during the 51° wet and rainy night. 

One-way gates to keep large animals off the highway

St John River

Intuition from our cozy fireside beds

Uncle Don Checks out the Van

Three Mile Pond in the Rain

Monday, August 10, 2015

Hopewell Rocks and Moncton

Shortly after breakfast, we rolled downhill from the campground to the town of Alma, where we were told we had to stop for Sticky Buns.  We weren’t disappointed though, of course, they weren’t quite as good as mom’s. Guess what the road was like again today…
More Construction!

We stopped at an overlook where Beth caught Noah and I rested in the comfy red chairs looking out over the bay. Being used to construction we again followed the lighthouse signs, this time to Cape Enrage, a high cliff with a lighthouse perched at the end to warn mariners of the rock outcropping that protrudes into the bay. It has been restored by local volunteers and had good access with stairs to the bottom of the cliffs. One of the guides was kind enough to take our picture. Lighthouses here don’t need to be tall like in Florida since they can be built on high cliffs. This is a favorite place for rock climbing and we met a group that had just repelled down the rock face. After finding a few more fossils, we climbed back up the stairs to head further east to Hopewell Rocks, the most famous attraction in the area. This is where there are daily tide changes of up to forty-six feet! The roads were pretty along the coast and we even passed a 110 year old covered bridge. Once at Hopewell we noticed a couple of other Mercedes vans like ours in the parking lot, one was even a four wheel drive model with German license plates. The rocks themselves were amazing. We walked down around mid-tide and could stand at the base of the “flower pot rocks.” You can image why they were named this. At high tide, the water covers all of the hour-glass shape and they look like small islands. As we walked further along the shore, the tide continued to descend revealing alien looking mud flats that extended at least a mile into the bay. I wouldn’t want to get stuck in the mud here. We did pass one platform with ladders specifically built in case people were trapped on the sea floor as the tide comes in.  

Since we still had plenty of light left during these long northern summer days, we continued on to the city of Moncton where we parked at the visitor center to see the tidal bore. We were early, so walked into town and enjoyed some good Italian fare. A tidal bore is a wave that forms when the tide coming up the river overwhelms the river running out to sea. This is such a popular phenomenon here that they built a park with a little amphitheater to wait for the water to do it’s thing. Our timing was perfect as the wave started just as we returned from dinner. If we had ordered dessert, we would have missed the bore. They say that it can range from 8 inches to 3 feet, depending on the strength of the tides, and when it is large, people actually surf the wave up the river. We all found something to like in Moncton; Noah was excited to find a big comic book and game store right across the street from the park. After buying some Canadian playing cards as souvenirs, we drove back down the windy coastal road to the national park campsite and didn’t have any trouble falling asleep. 

Sticky Buns!
Cape Enrage

Repelling Cliff

Sprinter Van visiting from Germany

Hopewell Rocks

Almost Lunar Landscape at Low Tide

Moncton Lighthouse

Tidal Bore Park

Moncton Visitor Center

Yummy Calzone

Here Comes The Tide

Right Across the Street from the Bore Park
Great Campsite at Fundy National Park

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