Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

WE FINALLY MADE IT!

When we set out on this adventure (on March 15th), our ultimate destination was Maine.  To be more specific - Bar Harbor.  We didn’t know how or when we would get there, but we knew where we were going.  After years of structured life that revolved around work, we were glad to set off on an adventure that made us “free.”  Free to go where we wanted, stay for as long as we wanted, and do what we wanted each day. 

We wanted to be in the Bar Harbor region for many reasons.  First and foremost so we could spend time with Betsy’s brother Mark.  Bar Harbor is where Mark lives for eight months of the year running the Maples Inn, a wonderful B&B.  The second reason is so Betsy can eat lobster at will.  (She once ate 21 lobsters in 7 days!).  Another draw is just the plain natural beauty of the area – the rocky coastline, dense forests, and endless sky.  We have been to Maine many times before and always want to come back. 

So after 4 months, 18 states, and nearly 2,500 miles, we have planted our motorhome one town over from Bar Harbor for the month of July.  (We decided not to stay in Bar Harbor because of how expensive it is during tourist season).  The days in Maine are always jammed pack with activities and adventure.  There are small towns to explore, mail boats taking you from island to island, lobsters to eat, whales to watch, historic carriage roads to bike, coves to kayak, and trails to hike.  And then there is Acadia National Park, an 11,000-acre national treasure which is a blog in itself.

Along the way, we have visited wonderful cities that captivated our interest with their beauty, charm, and history.  We have visited many historic sites that define this country; including where the first shot of the Civil War was fired at Fort Sumpter, the U.S.S. Yorktown – an aircraft carrier that played a pivotal role in winning World War II (and where Betsy’s father served as a medical officer), the Liberty Bell, the U.S. Constitution, homes of presidents, and a slave mart where auctions were held.

Being from New Orleans, we never wanted to miss a festival.  There was the Azalea Festival, the Sheep and Wool Festival, the Windjammer Festival, the Cherrybration Celebration, and The 9th Street Italian Market Festival.  Festivals big and small provide great enjoyment with their parades, food, and fireworks.

Along the way, we have visited the quirky “off the beaten track” attractions, like the National Cryptologic Museum, the world’s smallest police station, a guitar factory, and The Mutter Museum of medical anomalies.  We have passed up places we’ve seen before in order to see more.  Often times we have to remind ourselves that we cannot do it and see it all.

Our love for the outdoors and nature has led us to many wonderful state and national parks and forests.  We usually try to squeeze them in between the many other sightseeing activities.  Many parks are free (or charge nominal entrance fees) and provide countless hours of enjoyment.  Unfortunately, the depressed economy and dwindling state budgets are forcing some states to close some of their parks.     

We have been fortunate to catch up with old friends and spend time with family.  We’ve enjoyed the hospitality they have shown, the familiar company, the food, and conversation.  It is always nice to see familiar faces since we are constantly surrounded by neighbors that are complete strangers.  Some neighbors have become instant friends, provided laughs, and great conversation.  So many have shared their knowledge and advice, and some, have even fixed things on our coach that were broken (even things that we did not know were broken).

Food has always been a mission for us so we could not pass up eating shrimp and grits in South Carolina, lobster rolls in Maine, Brunswick stew in Georgia, crabs in Maryland, cheese steaks in Philly, and shrimp in the Florida panhandle.  Campgrounds are full of wonderful smells that permeate the air.  There is usually a barbeque pit somewhere that makes us long for hamburgers and hot dogs and we hate the people who are cooking bacon as we eat our bran cereal.  Food brings people together and campgrounds are no different. 

Boothbay Harbor, Maine will always hold a special place in our hearts because that is where our dog Otter left the trip for another adventure on her own.  The sadness we felt about losing her was healed by knowing that she crossed “the rainbow bridge” and is in a place without suffering.  Her companionship is missed sorely and the nudge of her soft nose cannot be replaced.  She was our impetus for exercise and our ice breaker for meeting new people.  She helped keep the floor clean of food and reminded us that naps are needed daily. 

The trip has provided some challenges.  We have fled to the RV park bathrooms to ride out tornados, a broken awning prevented us from driving, and we have been lost and driven down streets that we should not have been on.  And yes, there are “yappy” dogs, uneven sites, dirty truck stops, and creepy neighbors.  Despite these challenges, we have never looked back and are glad we embarked on the adventure that has provided the freedom necessary to marvel at this great country.  Now that we have made it to Maine, we just have to decide where to go next…….

This sign sums up our feelings about our trip!
The "golden isles" of Georgia are named so for the gold color of the marsh in winter.
We stopped at the rest area for a quick break and a picture.  Then, off to our first destination - Pensacola
Beach, FL, a place we had been to many times before but still love.
Just so happened that the county fair was happening in Pensacola.  Time for
the all-American meal of funnel cakes and corn dogs.
A trail through the pine forests of the Florida Panhandle.

The deck of the U.S.S. Yorktown displayed flying machines throughout U.S. military
history.  
The Old Slave Mart in Charleston, South Carolina.  Now it serves as a hub
for selling tacky jewelry, cheap knock-off purses, and ugly sunglasses.
Fort Sumpter in Charleston harbor.  

Kayaking in the salt marsh of the Croatan National Forest.  The bridge is part
of a great trail that meanders through the forest and marsh.  
Nancy and the fire dog at the New Bern Fire Museum.  Just one of the many places
we found to visit in this gem of a town.  
Downtown Beaufort, North Carolina.  

 Betsy is addicted to Life is Good shirts and has
enough to wear a new one everyday for two weeks.  Seriously!
All the beautiful queens of the Azalea Festival, Wilmington, North Carolina.
Azaleas in full bloom at Airlie Gardens, Wilmington.  We followed spring all the way up
the east coast and were treated to spectacular colors from azaleas and dogwoods.

The Franklin Fountain in Philly provided cool treats on a hot spring day.
Hand-made guitars are born daily at the C.F. Martin Guitar Factory in Pennsylvania.
Factory tours and the museum are free, informative, and very interesting.
In Mt. Bethel, Pennsylvania our RV park had a pasture with goats - this was a first
and very entertaining for Otter.
We will forever be in debt to my sister and her family for their hospitality.  We
crashed there for 3 weeks while veterinarians were trying to diagnose Otter's illness.
Luckily the RV fit in the driveway and even provided shade for her beagle, Zoe.
Reading Market in Philly gave us our first cheese steak and many other tasty treats.
This place is a food-lovers paradise and on our list of "do not miss" places.
Otter took to traveling well and just resigned herself to her bed until the wheels stopped
turning.  When we stopped, she stood, stretched, and was eager to see what new sites were outside the door.
Sheep shearing at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.  The shearing used hand scissors instead of
electric clippers.  No nics were on the sheep or the shearer.
Betsy, the Capitol, and Pennsylvania Avenue at the "Newseum" in Washington, D.C.

The Newburgh/New York KOA (Kampground of America) had a sense of humor (and
a really good, free pancake breakfast).
When will it stop raining?  A few days of rain provided great book reading opportunities.
A chair made out of a lobster trap - how classy.  Just one of the many lobster pounds
we have visited in New England.
Another KOA bit of humor....
.... and a fun opportunity for us to goof off.  What a nice way to hide the dumpster.
Ah, beautiful Maine.  We never get tired of these views.
Betsy posing outside of a lobster pound.
Otter enjoyed many walks even when she was sick. There were always new smells, places to roll,
and spilled food to eat. She could not wait to get in the water and we always tried to find it for her.
Mark and Betsy waiting for 4th of July fireworks to start over the Bar Harbor harbor.
Kayaking in Maine.
The Blue Angels are based out of Pensacola Naval Air Station.  Their practices
are open to the public and are great fun.
Grayton Beach State Park....our favorite campground yet!  Wonder why?
Our first stop was at Gulf Islands National Seashore, Pensacola Beach, Florida.  We were ready for
our RV adventure.
Downtown Philly.
The Jeckyll Island Club, Jeckyll Island, Georgia.
One of the many lighthouses we have visited.  I can't pass up a lighthouse or
maritime museum.  
We were welcomed in Georgia, by what else?  A bulldog.

1 comment:

  1. You guys are having too much fun! I love your pictures and your adventures but I don't think I would like to eat any clams. :)

    ReplyDelete

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