Monday, August 8, 2011

Well we’ve got a really long post this time, covering an entire month in one shot! Between limited WiFi access, lack of a laptop at times, and general laziness I never got any of our latest trip posted until we got back home. it is.

Wednesday 6/29/11

Back on the road again! We’re headed east to Upstate NY for the 4th of July with Dennis’ cousins in Canton, NY.

The trailer looks fantastic after our spring shine-up project. We cleaned the entire outside of the fifth wheel with Barkeepers Friend - that was a pretty substantial project, 37 feet long and 12 feet high! We were very pleased as the trailer cleaned up much better than we expected and looked really good. We followed up the cleaning with an application of Red Max 3. This is actually a wood floor sealer that a number of people have used on their fiberglass boats andf trailers with really good results. There is a commercial product specifically sold for the purpose, but it is much more expensive and the same basic product as Red Max. The Red Max goes on as a thin, watery liquid, spread with a micro-fiber cloth. After several coats, it copme up very shiney. We ended up with five or six coats on the entire rig. It looked really good in the barn, but we were not sure how it would look in the sunlight - well it looks great! Better than is was when we bought is and I would venture to say better than it looked when it was new!

After loading up on Monday and Tuesday we headed out mid-morning on Wednesday. Uneventful trip across Northern Indiana on the toll road into Ohio. We dropped down south of Toledo to Bowling Green. Stayed at Fire Lake Campground (Who wants to ride that chrome three wheeler...) a nice, small campground just south of Bowling Green. Mostly semi-permanent summer places, pretty empty on a weeknight, but probably hopping on the weekends. We had dinner at Reverend’s, a tavern in downtown Bowling Green.

Thursday 6/30

Headed out early and stopped up the road at a Cracker Barrel (surprise!) for breakfast and then on to LeRoy, NY, east of Buffalo. Another nice campground with a 50/50 mix of seasonal and weekend campers. They are expecting a full house for the holiday weekend. Uneventful day, traffic a bit heavier but not too bad. Passed a couple of serious traffic jams in the westbound lanes of I-90, but we had clear sailing all the way. Dinner at home.

Friday 7/1/11

On the road at a reasonable time, stopped at the Camping World in Syracuse to pick up a new TV antenna batwing. We had added a Wingman booster to the old batwing, but the wingman had a couple of protruding extensions which caught on a tree branch some where and broke the antenna mounting bracket. Off I-90 in Syracuse and north on I-81 to Watertown. Stopped at the Cracker Barrel; for lunch and picked up US 11 which took us through Canton, where Dennis’ cousins live, and Potsdam, where Dennis was born, and on to Sanfordville and the St Regis Campground. A nice campground where we stayed when we were here last summer. About twenty space, seven with full hook-ups. All of the sites back right up to the St. Regis river, so looking out our back window all we see is the gently flowing river and trees on the other side, a very pretty spot. We also have a clear view of the southern sky for Winegard Trav’ler. Got in late in the afternoon and after getting set up we drove over to Dennis’ cousin Lee’s house and had a delightful dinner.

Saturday 7/2

Settling in this AM, did some grocery shopping and ran a few errands. Dennis installed the new batwing so we can get local TV reception as well as Dish Network with the satellite dish. In the afternoon we went to the movies to see Larry Crowne, a pretty good, lightweight, romantic comedy. Dinner at home.

Sunday 7/3

After watching the SUNDAY AM news shows we headed over to Edwards, NY, up into the Adirondacks where Dennis’ cousin Mike and his wife Peggy have a very nice cabin on the Oswegatchie river. A really beautiful spot, very secluded. The entire family, nine of us, spent the afternoon sitting by the river and the only boats we saw were ours! Only activity was a couple of beavers slapping their tails. Most excitement of the day was when Dennis managed to fall into the river after tipping over a kayak! Would not have been to bad except that he had his cell phone and I-pod in his pockets - killed both of them!

Peggy had a delicious bar-b-que for the group and we had a really great afternoon just enjoying each others company. Got back home about 9 PM, in time to watch Masterpiece Theatre, over-the-air digital TV is great.

Monday 7/4

Went into Potsdam to the Village Diner for breakfast and Nancy did some laundry. Checked with the local Walmart and they were out of stock on the 32G I-pod, so we drove over to Massena and picked one up at the Walmart their. Fortunately I had backed up my I-pod just a week ago. On the way back we stopped in the Village of Norwood and watched their 4th of July parade. It was pretty substantial for a small town, lasted about an hour and included fire departments from all over the area and the world famous Norwood FD Band.

Back home in the afternoon we just relaxed. As I write this we are sitting on the bank of the river. It is about eighty degree, warm and sunny with a nice breeze and we are watching a flotilla of Canada Geese (the small, migratory kind) working their way upstream along the opposite bank. This far north and in the Eastern Time zone, the daylight lasts quite late, not really dusk until after 9 PM.

Tuesday 7/5

Off to Alexandria Bay in the Thousand Islands this AM. Stopped by Dennis’ family’s old cottage at Point Vivian. Still looks pretty much the same and kept up well, my parents sold the cottage in the late 50’s when we moved to NJ, but I spent a fair amount of time there as a child. It was kind of emotional to see it again. Unfortunately the present owner was not there so we did not get to see the inside. The water in the St Lawrence river was just as cold as I remembered it!

Then we went back into the village of Alexandria Bay, which has not changed much from what I remember as a kid. We took a 2-1/2 hour tour of the Thousand Islands with Uncle Sam Boat Tours. A very pleasant trip as it was in the high eighties inland but really nice out on the water.

Back in Potsdam we stopped at Northern Music, a Verizon dealer, and replaced Dennis’ dead cell phone. Then we met Dennis’ cousin Mike and his wife Peggy for a nice dinner at Maxfield’s in Potsdam.

Wednesday 7/6

Spent the day getting packed for our cruise to Montreal. I wanted to move the fiver out of the campsite to open up space since it is such a small campground. I planned on paying the owners something for storage, but they refused to accept anything and told us where to park the truck and fiver. They said the ground was hard and it seemed to be when I walked it, but since it had rained during the night we sunk in quite a bit when we backed in! Oh well, I’ll worry about getting out when we return.

We were plugged into 20 amp service for the night, but we have not needed our AC since we got here, very pleasant at night.

Thursday 7/7

Up early and left at 6:30 AM, Dennis’ cousin drove us to the train station in Syracuse, we left earlier than necessary as we knew there were lanes closed for construction on I-81 at Oneida Lake. No problems though, and we were at the station by 9:30 for an 11:30 train - just in time for the announcement that the train was going to be an hour to an hour and half late due to a freight train derailment! Turns out that was optimistic - the train finally left at 2:30 PM!!

AMTRAK was very comfortable and roomy, if a bit slow. Finally arrived in Boston at 11:30 PM. One nice thing was electrical outlets at the seats so we could plug in Nancy’s phone and activate the hotspot for internet access on Dennis’ iPod. We were glad ot get to the Seaport Hotel after a long day of mostly sitting an waiting!

Friday 7/8 - Boston

Used a couple of Charlie Cards to make our way around the Boston transit system, a pretty good set up. Visited Paul Revere’s house and walked around North Boston a bit, then visited Brattle Book Store and spent an hour or so browsing the used book racks, it was raining lightly so we were disappointed that the out door racks were not open.

Back at our hotel we met Nancy’s sister Joan, our niece Emily, and her husband for dinner at Legal Seafood. Excellent dinner.

Saturday 7/9 - Boston

Not able to board our ship until 11AM, so Nancy and I walked back into the city center and visited Brattle Books again. This time the outside racks were open. We had to restrain ourselves as all the books we bought had to be lugged along on our cruise.

Boarded the MS Maasdam around noon, we were able to time our arrival between the busses coming from the hotels (we had elected to get there on our own via taxi, cheaper an easier than using the tour company arraignments) so we got through the boarding procedure very quickly.

A Prairie Home Companion show in the main showroom tonight and then late dinner. As usual the food was excellent throughout the cruise.

Sunday 7/10 - Bar Harbor

Ship anchored in Bar Harbor this morning. Uo early and had breakfast in our room as we had to be on the tender at 7:30 for our tour. We took a tender in to the pier and immediately boarded a tour bus to take us to Cadillac Mountain Park. Our guide took us on a two hour walking tour along the coast with great views all along the way. Weather was perfect, 70 degrees and sunny with a nice breeze. Back in Bar Harbor we had lunch at the Thirsty Whale, purported to be the best lobster rolls in the area. Nancy and Joan report they were excellent, Dennis had a good burger.

Shows as usual were excellent. We usually had a drink in the Ocean bar every afternoon before the main show and then dinner after the show. Did not make it to any of the evening entertainment in the various lounges though. Lose and hour tonight going into the Atlantic Time Zone.

Monday 7/11 - Halifax, NS

Another beautiful day, sunny and 75 degrees. Ship at pier in Halifax. Nancy and Dennis took a bus tour to Peggy’s Cove and Titanic Cemetery. Peggy’s Cove was very picturesque with a lighthouse set on a rocky promontory jutting out into the Atlantic.

On the way the bus stopped at the Fairview Lawn Cemetery where 121 of the victims from the Titanic are buried, one third of them never identified. More moving than we had expected. Joan took a bus tour of Halifax and stopped at the cemetery as well. We were all struck by the apparent prosperity of the area, flourishing businesses and no empty store front like you might see in a medium sized city in the US.

We returned to the MS Maasdam for lunch and then walked along the harbor boardwalk to the Maritime Museum which had a very good display on the other Halifax disaster - that of December 19, 1917. That morning two ships preparing to sail for the European Theatre collided in the inner harbor of Halifax. One of them we loaded with munitions and explosives. The resulting blast was the biggest man made explosion prior to the nuclear bomb! Over 1,900 people were killed immediately; within a year the figure climbed well over 2,000. About 9,000 more were injured, many permanently (especially with eye damage from shattered glass); 325 acres, almost all of the north-end of Halifax, were destroyed. Windows shattered 50 miles away, and the shock wave was felt as far as Sydney, Cape Breton, 270 miles away.

One of the naturalists on our cruise is the Director of the Maritime Museum and he gave several interesting talks during the week. We returned to the ship and relaxed, Nancy went to her daily knitting group while Dennis went to the lecture “I want Your Job” with Fred Newman, Sue Scott and Tim Russell.

We all had dinner in the Lido instead of the main dining room, then relaxed in our cabins as we wanted to go to the late show. Skipped the main show this evening. At 10:30 we went to “Vice Match” with Sue Scott, Tim, Russell, and Vern Sutton.

Tuesday 7/12 - Sydney, NS. Cape Breton Island.

This is a pic of Nancy and Joan with Sydney, he is from Sydney, Australia so we thought it appropriate to get his picture in Sydney, NS.

Grey and overcast this AM, only rainy day of the trip. It was supposed to get to the mid 70’s but never got out of the 60’s. Did not matter to us though as the three of us were taking a boat tour to the Bird Islands. The ship docked at 9 AM, just after breakfast and we went straight off the ship and onto a bus for the tour. After about an hours ride we arrived at Big Bras d’Or lake, a huge lake in the center of Cape Breton Island, which is actually an arm of the sea. The tour started at a small (and I mean small!) private dock on an estuary. The boat was small and there were 30 people and the water looked rough! We were beginning to doubt the wisdom of this adventure! The trip out to the Bird Islands took about 40 minutes and it was smoother than expected. In fact the vibrations from the boats motor were great for my feet and back - like a 40 minute massage!

The islands were covered with a massive variety of birds, mostly seabirds, but we also saw 47 bald eagles, a lot of Gray seals and a few Harp seals. Turned out to be a great tour - perfect for a gray, rainy day!

Back at the ship we had a quick lunch and I went to a lecture on Earthquakes and Tsunamis, followed by one about the history of pirates in the Maritimes. Nancy went to her knitting group and Joan relaxed. Later we went to the Ocean Bar and sat with a couple we had met on a previous APHC cruise, John & Sandy.

The APHC show was especially good this evening and then after dinner we went the late show with Fred Newman.

Wednesday 7/13 - Cruising the Gulf of St Lawrence

Back in the Eastern time zone this morning and another bright, sunny day. GArrison and Roy Blount, Jr. did a show in the main showroom in the morning and there were naturalist lectures all day. I went to Volcanos & Earthquakes, History of the Newfoundland Cod Fishery, and one on Sailing Ships. Nancy and Joan went to one on Whales and thenNancy went to the knitting group while Joan did a charity walk on the promenade deck.

Very good musical show this evening with two Canadian groups LeVent du Nord (or as Garrison called the “Big Wind from Norway”!) and Genticord. After dinner we sat in the library and played a couple of games.

Thursday 7/14 - Quebec City

Sunny and about 75 degrees. Quebec City is very picturesque, especially from the pier where our ship is tied. Quebec City's skyline is dominated by the massive Ch√Ęteau Frontenac Hotel, perched on top of Cap-Diamant. They are doing repairs to the roof and the scaffolding is hidden behind netting that has been painted to look like the roof line of the hotel, so at first glance nothing seems out of place. The whole city has a very French flavor and seems very much like a European city.

We turned on our telephones this morning and found text messages that Emily had the baby Tuesday evening about 8:30. Mile Lawrence and his mom were doing well. Nancy and Joan were very excited. At lunch we found a really good deli/bakery/sandwich shop which had good WiFi so we were able to look at pictures of the baby on my iPod.

Speaking of the iPod, the new one I bought in NY has a camera, which the old one does not. It is actually very good and I used it throughout the trip instead of luggin along our digital camera, worked very well.

This Morning we all took a bus tour to Isle d’Orleans and Mount Morancy Falls, stopping at a maple sugar bush. A very pretty and scenic area and once again very prosperous looking. After the tour we walked through the lower town and then took the funicular up to the upper town where we had lunch at Pillard.

Another perfect weather day, a brief shower in the afternoon kept the temperatures reasonable as it had been quite hot here. Back on the ship we had drinks in the Ocean Bar and dinner. No shows scheduled this evening as many people are dining in Quebec City, quiet on the ship. We were surprised to see the sun set behind the ramparts of the city! Seems the river is flowing north here, so the city is actually on the west bank.

Friday 7/15 - Quebec City

Sunny and a bit warmer today. After breakfast we went out and found a cash station to replenish funds. Joan returned to the ship while Nancy and I went up the funicular again and walked along the boardwalk in front of the city, around the ramparts up and around the Citadel. 310 steps to an observation deck that turned out to be pretty much surrounded by trees! The Plains of Abraham were covered by the stages and setups for a music festival. instead of going back down the steps we walked around the back of the Citadel and back through the upper city on Rue St Louis. We had hoped to come across another bakery for lunch, but were to walked out to go searching for one. Ended up back on then ship for lunch. In the afternoon we went to a really good Fred Newman show “Unfinished Stories”. Relaxed the rest of the afternoon.

The final show of the cruise was this evening, very good, as were all of them. We skipped the final night party in the Crow’s Nest Lounge as we had done that on a previous APHC cruise and it was a mob scene!

Saturday 7/16 - Montreal

Another nice day, but hotter than we would like. We really lucked out on the weather this trip as it was almost ideal every day. It was a very pretty evening coming up the river last night, there were several downbound freighters passing while we had dinner and afterwards I went out on deck and watched an upbound freighter pass us. There was a full moon shining over the river.

In the morning we left the ship and dropped out bags at Auberge Les Passants du Sans Soucy, a very nice small (nine rooms) hotel in the old city. We took the Metro and went into the city center and did some gift shopping in the underground shopping area to stay out of the heat. Then we had lunch at 3 Brewers. Back at the hotel in mid-afternoon, a very, very nice room. Later we walked a few blocks and had an excellent dinner at La Gargote.

Sunday 7/17 - Montreal

Nancy and Joan when to mass at Notre Dame, I read the paper. We then took a leisurely stroll through the old city to the tent where Circ du Solei performs. Fortunately the tents were well air conditioned as it was getting pretty hot. Enjoyed an excellent show. On the way back we stopped for beer and Putine (french fries with cheese and gravy), then relaxed at hotel and packed for the trip home. Had dinner at another very good French restaurant.

Monday 7/18 Potsdam, NY

Joan headed for the airport and we took a taxi to the central train station to catch an AMTRAK train back to NY. Garrison was standing in line beside us when we were waiting for the train. Once again the AMTRAK ride was very nice, but slow. A fairly long wait at the border. Lee and Peggy met us at the station in Plattsburgh, where we had lunch and then we returned to Potsdam.

As I mentioned before we left on the cruise, we were a bit concerned about the soft ground where we had parked the truck and trailer. Well it had rained for a couple of days and just as we got back to the campground the skies opened up again and it poured! We had to sit in the car for about 20 minutes waiting for the rain to let up and then wade through standing water to get to the trailer. It was almost 6 PM by then so I opted to wait until morning to try to move the truck and trailer. I had unhitched when we parked there and I knew it would be difficult to back under the trailer on the soft ground.

Looking around the campground I saw that one of our neighbors had a four wheel drive truck and a fifth wheel, so I walked over and asked him is he would be willing to pull the fiver out of the soft ground in the AM. He said “sure” he would be willing to give it try.

Tuesday 7/19

First thing in the morning I fired up the truck and was able to get it off the soft grass without to much fuss or damage to the turf. Our neighbor came over and hitched up his truck - it really sunk down on the springs with the pin weight of our fiver, but he was able to pull it out of the soft ground with no wheel spin! Thank goodness for 4WD! The Volvo is great on the highway, but not so good on soft ground.

After we got parked we went and did laundry and then went to the cemetery in Canton to visit my parent’s and brother’s graves (a lot of other relatives are buried there as well - aunts, uncles, grandparents, and my niece).

Later we had dinner with my cousin.

Wednesday 7/20

Getting ready to hit the road, a last visit with my cousins and then we started getting things ready for the next leg. We have decided to go back to Boston to see the new baby instead of heading straight back home.

Thursday 7/21

Hit the road about 9:30 AM. We decided to swing around to the north of Lake Champlain and down through Vermont and New Hampshire into Massachusetts. Better options for campgrounds and hopefully less traffic. Pretty uneventful trip, although we had difficulty finding a place we could get into with the truck and trailer for lunch - our rig is a bit large for traveling easily around New England! Ended up skipping lunch and eating an early dinner.

We stopped at Limehurst Lake Campground in Williamstown, VT. A nice campground with a lake. Roads on the way in were a bit tight, bt we had a good pull through site that was a straight shot out to the rear gate of the campground in the morning. Went into Williamstown to a little restaurant call Soups and Greens in Barre for an early dinner.

Friday 7/22

We did this trip in a couple of short legs because we were not able to get into the campground in Salem, MA until Saturday morning. So today we had a relatively short trip and stopped at Cozy Pond Campground in Webster, NH. Dinner in the trailer as there were no nearby towns that would be easy to get to. This is an old campground back in the woods that has recently been reopened under new ownership and they are fixing it up very nice. Got a great rate as they are offering a 50% discount to first time campers!

Saturday 7/23

On into Salem, MA this morning. Traffic was not bad until we got on I-95 head NE around Boston where it was stop and go for about 10 miles. We found out later that there had been a gas tanker fire on Rt 1 earlier that morning, so all the traffic was over on I-95. Directions into Winter Island Park in Salem were a bit convoluted, but Nancy did a great job navigating and figuring out the somewhat confusing directions from Map Quest. At one point the directions (published by the park!) sent us down a street with a 2-1/2 ton weight limit! HELLO! We weigh 19 tons! 2-1/2 is barely enough for a car!

One thing we did learn - Salem, MA has, without question, the worst roads we have ever driven one, not just narrow and twisty, but rough and seriously bumpy. We had stuff tossed all over inside the fiver by the time we got to the park.

In spite of the difficulty getting there, we ended up with a very nice spot looking out over Salem harbor from our back and side windows. The park is basically just spots around the perimeter of the the marina parking lot.

We were the just about noon, so after getting settled we found our way to the train station and took the train into Boston and then the MTA to our niece’s condo right near Tuft’s Medical Center in Chinatown. Got to meet the new baby and Nancy’s sister Connie and her husband (new grandparents) were there as well. so we had a nice family dinner.

Miles Lawrence Britt

Arriving back at the campground we found the gate was locked! Seems we had missed the signs about making arraignments for late return! I called the Salem police and the harbormaster came out and let us in. The next morning I put down a deposit for a gate key!

Sunday 7/24

After breakfast I dropped Nancy off at the train station and went back to the trailer to relax for a while. I was going to stop at Brattle Books on the in later, but a phone call revealed that they were no longer open on Sunday. So I just relaxed and then drove into the city around noon. Stopped along the way and had an excellent roast beef sandwich, one thing I do love about New England is delis!

Another nice afternoon visiting with Nancy’s family and take out pizza for dinner. Greg and took Emily’s dad to the baseball game. At one point Nancy, Connie, and Emily decided to go out and get something for lunch - leaving me with a 12 day old baby in my arms! All I could think of was “Just keep breathing!” This was the first time Emily had left the baby with anyone other than her mother! Miles and I both survived though with no crisis.

Monday 7/25

Drove back into Boston today and then we walked over to Brattle Books to peruse the $!, $3, and $5 racks. Filled a good sized cloth tote bag with a stack of books and lugged them back to Emily and Greg’s condo. In the evening we all went out to dinner at a really good German restaurant near their place which had excellent burgers. Said our goodbyes to everyone as we will be back on the road in the morning.

Tuesday 7/26

Loaded up and headed out fairly early as we wanted to get into PA this evening. Wound our way out of Salem, MA the we went across I-90 and then down I-84 through CT, Nancy navigated us around Hartford and on into NY where we picked up I-81 into PA and onto I-80.

We stopped at Little Mexico Campground in Winfield, PA. A bit out of the way on fairly narrow country roads, but a nice, quiet place with plenty of room. Once again Nancy made dinner as there was no likely place to eat anywhere nearby.

Wednesday 7/27

Back up on I-80 and on across PA and OH. Stopped at Fire Lake Campground in Bowling Green, OH again. Convenient spot for us with plenty of room.

Thursday 7/28

Finally back home today. Uneventful trip across Indiana, Cracker Barrel in Elkhart for lunch. Almost exactly a month for this trip. We will heading out to Bristol in a little over three weeks!