Friday, August 31, 2007


Hope This Does Not Scare Folks Away!

I have a gun.......after more than 45 years of not owning/shooting one, I have one.

I wrote about it at my political blog (YES, I am political, but try to keep the two separate......)

You can read about the gun & its purpose HERE!



Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Feedback & A New Friend!

My Post labeled "On Golden Pond"....referring to the similarities between the images of that movie and the cottages/homes we saw in the Adirondacks along the lakes there.... has drawn a response, via comment, from a neat source.

"Rebecca Leonard said...

Your photos are beautiful! As a life-long 'Dacker I truly appreciate them. Thanks for sharing and, by the way, "On Golden Pond" is one of my favorite movies. I love the title of your blog!"

Ms. Leonard, who responded to my email as Becky, is a lucky permanent resident of that area, and more importantly......(shilling follows)....she is an author of a book

Give her a visit at her web page Rebecca Leonard's Self-Publishing Blog! While you're there order her book and look thru the blog.

I envy her living in the the Summer......Winter time, I'll take Florida!

Thanks for the comment Becky!



Monday, August 27, 2007


Skyline Drive - Virginia

We drove from Skyline Caverns directly to the Skyline Drive. The drive is the north 109 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the only portion for which there is a charge. As the picture below proves, the Smokies are.....well, SMOKY!
The views are limitless, and cover miles and miles.

This doe was munching plants in a grassy area between the Parkway and a parking area...Our presence (about 70 feet away) did not seem to bother her...though she kept a watch on us.

Duchess sez I am too fond of rock formations and walls. I disagree, but limited my rock wall pics this time anyway!

Butterflies are, as previously stated....everywhere.

As I stated before.....this is only the North 109 miles of a series of Parkway roads covering 500 plus miles with several tributaries. Visit it when possible.



Skyline Caverns - Virginia

Skyline Caverns is located just South out of Front Royal, near the beginning of Skyline Drive in Virginia. Caverns are not rare in the Blue Ridge area, and Skyline's claim to fame is it has the only known collection of a substance called Anthrotite. The stuff, pictured below, is a crystalline growth discovered in Skyline when a group was removing mud to open the cave to visitors. They hit a vacuum in the cave and heard a giant whoosh as air rushed in. Inside the area they discovered the crystalline growths on the ceiling. They are quite brittle and fragile. Some have grown to 18 inches, though they stopped growing when the vacuum was broken.
Lighting used in caves is to both illuminate & highlight features. Here colored lights are used to highlight some Skyline formations.
The folks who opened the cave also brought in some trout and catfish which have adapted to life in the cave. Here is a trout of about 15-18 inches. They come when the guide stirs the water with his hand as they are fed by the guides. The tour is not too long, and for the most part fairly comfortable except for a few spots where the height is less than six feet.

Consider a visit on your next trip. A REMINDER: ALL caves are cooler than outside. Temps in the high 50s are the norm, and you should bring a jacket or sweatshirt for the trip...even when the outside temp is 90 or above!



Sunday, August 26, 2007


RVing Friends Are Easy To Find!

One of the things Duchess and I enjoy most about RVing is the many friends found...even if you travel about.

In the campgrounds we see many types of campers and vehicles. Tents, fold down tents on wheels, fold down or raised top campers with canvas sides, small van conversions, large van conversions, and Class C-B & A motorhomes. There are also lots of specialty vehicles including those powered by actual diesel truck frontends with motorhome backends.

In addition we meet all types of people. Most are quite pleasant...always there for a helping hand or to offer advice. Most like to see where you're from and perhaps where you've been. We exchange information about campgrounds, and places to see.

On the just-completed trip we had several good times. In Watkins Glen, New York, we stayed at the city's campground on the river. Plain and simple it was none-the-less well-equipt, and the folks in the office were very helpful with one woman not only filling us in about the Adirondacks, but going home at night and bringing us back lots of printed info on the Adirondacks before we departed the next morning. That evening we met a fellow and his wife in the trailer next to our site who live in the North in the Summer, and South in the Winter. That, by the way, is not an unusual combination. The four of us, joined by a trio from a third trailer were soon engaged in a wine tasting. Each brought out their own wines, and we compared wines from other parts of the country and different wineries. NOTE: There are 103 wineries along the finger lakes in New York!

In Mackinaw City at the Mill Creek RV in a story below....we met a couple who traveled in their Class C and we exchanged camping places, and hints about tow cars as I had the current Trailer Life list of vehicles and how they can be towed, and they had taken notice of our little Suzuki Vitara (1999 vintage which we keep in road-shape as they quit making them in 2001, and we L-O-V-E the little thing, especially in the mountains....and who could fear its miniscule 3,200 lb total weight!)

These little encounters with folks are fun, and they offer views into others experience and lives. Always interesting. The nicest part is that built-in commonality of interests in RVing. One thing which has surprised me a good bit is how many younger folks who have the RVs and motorhomes. Folks in their late 20s and 30s. I confess I did not understand for a while as I did not have the money for such a thing back then. Now, I understand more about it. LONG term financing by many places allow folks to borrow 80% of the cost for up to 20 years!!!!! After all it is a 2nd home folks. For my part, however, Duchess & I are too frugal to spend that much money on interest!



Castles, Bad Roads & Waterfalls!

Waterfalls are not a rarity in the Adirondacks....some large, some small, some chains of falls.
Whiteface Castle is not a castle! We visited this combination visitor viewing station, and weather station on Whiteface Mountain. The road up was built back in the 1930s....I do believe the surface has not been renewed since! The road was horrendous. AND, you paid $7 each to drive the thing. As we wound up the mountain we saw the road and "castle" above us. If you look close at the very top of the mountain about center-picture you see a mound. That is actually a tower atop the mountain accessed via a tunnel that runs 250 feet into the mountain where you catch an elevator that lifts you 17 stories to the tower.
The castle is actually a lunch stand, offices for the weather guys, and the park rangers, and provides a turn around.
Atop the mountain from the overlook one can see Lake Placid....the actual lake adjacent to the town. While there, storms were moving about us, and this cloud bumped into the peak of the mountain and took a turn straight up...quite a moving site to see. As with all mountains the temperatures were much lower than in the valley below.
On this day we drove for several hours, seeing the mountain, waterfalls, etc. A beautiful part of our country which provides lots and lots of scenic pictures.


Adirondacks....."On Golden Pond!"

From the Finger Lakes to the Adirondacks is only a few hours drive. We stayed in Old Forge at the Old Forge Campground for three days. It was deep in the woods, and had a small lake for swimming and boat rentals. Nightly campfires covered the area of some 500 campsites, and each morning bears and smaller critters were spotted about the place seeking food. Instructions about storing food away, and if you stayed in tents to NOT wear your dinner clothes to bed, were issued upon arrival.

Lakes.....Duchess made the connection...."Everywhere there is a low spot, there is a lake." Truth. Hundreds of beautiful lakes and cabins/homes like this one...
Lakes were rimmed by trees of many kinds, and each lake had its own character. People were there in abundance as it was mid-Summer, but still there were no apparent crowds except at such attractions as the water park in Old Forge...and sometimes in the evening at the local eateries where the food was delicious.
One striking feature to us was the absolute clarfity of most of the lakes. Here, in about three feet of water, a small piece of wood surrounded by sand. The water was cool, but not as cold as we had anticipated.
While snapping the clear water shot above, I looked about and found this lovely shot of a butterfly. On this entire trip I shot probably fifty or more butterfly pictures...and I'll post a show of them after our trip pictures are completed. The variety of butterfly colors, sizes, etc. was amazing. The Adirondacks contain enough opportunities to view special places to occupy tourists such as we for weeks....we had three days. On day two (next story folks) we visit some waterfalls and a castle!


Absence Makes......O.K., Maybe NOT!

Sorry for the long gap here folks.....

We ended our 4,300 mile journey in "Roadhouse", and returned to Tampa where a veritable flood of doctor visits, Elks Lodge activities, and other chores (grass suffering from a near 4 week growth to knee-height).

Now back to posting the rest of the pictures and stories of our marvelous trip!



Saturday, August 11, 2007


WHINE-ER-EES!!! Wahoo!

August 6th

The Finger Lakes of New York are a joy.... They produce WINE!!!!

This pic is of the "Y" in the Seneca Lake area where folks see the lake from above! LOVELY!
Bully Hill, is a fine of MORE THAN A HUNDRED!
We L-O-V-E The winerys of the Finger Lakes of New York!"WE" is a collective term for our group of 6 wine folks from Tampa.....

Duchess and I love the Wagner Wineries of the Seneca Lake area. The others, emboldened by the pair who went to "Bully Hill" last year, love their stuff.....

We visited both in our quest for great wines to enjoy....

We also spent the night in Watkins Glen in the municipal campground, sharing wines with a number of semi-permanent residents. We were there between the Italian festival and the 200 mile race set for the next weekend at "The Glen".



Erie, PA & Presque Isle Park

August 5th

We camped in Erie at Family Hills Campground. Nice place where Duchess joined 4 ladies around the fire for a glass of wine while I WiFi'd at the camp store as their WiFi had a limited range. The shot below is the drive in to Presque Isle park, a peninsula off Erie. Duchess had been there in her youth and said it had grown up a lot. Few views of the water until you reached the beaches at the tip of the peninsula.
The beaches....not Florida sand, but nice and seemingly quite popular.
Just had to zooooom in and snap this shot throwing an object back and forth in the water.....YEAH, that's it....! That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Next up.....The Adirondacks!



Friday, August 10, 2007


FLOOD - Missed Us By A Week!

One never knows when luck comes this case we know...a week later!
Daughter Nancy called us from Rockford, IL. They had 8 plus inches of rain in a matter of hours Monday night and ended up with 2 inches of water in their home's basement.

The picture above is the son of the owner of the campground where we had stayed four nights while in Rockford.....a week ago! We'd have been in the flood...

WOW! Sometimes you are just lucky!



Thursday, August 09, 2007


Coming Posts!!!!!

Erie, PA and a trip to Presque Isle Park...

The Adirondacks for three days....including side trails, and Whiteface Mountain....

Tomorrow lads and lasses......after our return from a new adventure.....

Hint: we are now Southbound.


p.s. The L-O-N-G delay in posting was a three day dead space for WiFi and Phone in the Adirondacks......


Trips Bring Problems To Solve!

This one is none but part of that theme.....

Mackinaw of departure.

The "Roadhouse" fails to start....narry a click or groan!

AAA is there with a fellow who did not know: a) where the starter was; b) how to short across the starter to fire my engine; c) how to talk, walk or chew gum.

Guess I was mad. The resulting knowledge that the starter/solenoid had failed was the precurser to many phone calls ending when I located a local "shade tree" mechanic who both had time for us, and the starter sitting on his shelf. Back on the road by 1pm.....we lunched in the coach as he worked on the starter.

Off to Saginaw, MI for the night.



Whitefish Point - Lake Superior

Sometimes enroute to a "known" touristy site, you find another. We were driving from Mackinaw City North, across the Mackinaw Bridge, and to the top of the UP of Michigan. A friend.....Thanks Luanne!!!.....tipped us to go to the Tahquamenon Park and see the falls. They were quite nice and very unexpected. These are the Upper Falls....the lower falls, which we failed to see, are steps of falls...not a single fall.
Atop the UP of Michigan is Whitefish Point...and its operational lighthouse & museum!The place holds lots of history.
On the beach at Whitefish entire trees have washed ashore in "the gales of November" as Gordon Lightfoot so neatly put it.

In addition to can drive, as did we, down to the lower end of Whitefish Bay and see Iriquois Lighthouse....built in the 1870s, and functional until a couple of decades ago.The beach and waves there are as interesting as Superiors at Whitefish Point.

Lovely day, some fine food, and a neat drive.



Mackinac Island - Part 3

What good is an island without a fort? Mackinac Island has a fort.....amusingly it is named "Fort Mackinac". Go figure!The fort is actually quite a big piece of real estate...mostly wood. It co$t$ to go there.

The stone arch is part of the woods/fort tour in the three horse cart. It is huge. It is strange in such a setting.
From atop the walkway on the stone arch is a view of the Lake Huron beach below. To gauge size of the arch and its drop to the lake....check the arrow in the picture for the ant-like humans wading in the water below.
This is a marvelous island, and costs a bit to visit, but is something not-to-be-missed while in the area.


NEXT: A trip up the UP to Whitefish point!


Mackinac Island - Part 2

In town there are two-horse carts for people to ride (we did & YOU should).They go to the Surrey House (also home to the Butterfly Farm which will be featured in a later story)....There you switch to a three-horse team and larger cart for a tour thru the woods.

One of the things many folks would miss is the fact A-L-L the things coming to the island must be moved by horse cart as there are NO trucks!

All over the streets are flowered areas....front yards of homes and businesses are flowers.

The place is lovely, but be prepared for the "fresh farm" scent of their favorite flower fertilizer....provided by the hundreds of horses.



Saturday, August 04, 2007


Mackinac Island - Part 1

The ride to Mackinac Island is by ferry boat......ours was a jet shooting water in an 80 foot rooster tail!
One of the downtown streets on the island.....everything moves by horse carriage, including all food and other supplies! Bicycles are there by the thousands.......There are a few gasoline-powered vehicles on the island......a police car, an ambulance and four fire a number of gasoline riding mowers!.....In the winter snowmobiles are allowed as no tourists are there.

The Grand hotel......$12 to just enter the door and walk about the hotel. Buffet lunch is $45...A friend stayed with family in two rooms for two nights.....$1,400!!!!


Wednesday, August 01, 2007


Mill Creek Campground - Mackinaw City, MI

Our home for the next three days. Beautiful, but commercial....500 plus sites....tents, campers, cabins, RVs, trailers et al. For our camper friends (ya listening Milt?).....The tent/smaller popups/trucks, etc. get nice tree-shaded sites. We "Big Guys" get sun...but nicely-equipt sites. The camp sells ride tickets to Mackinac, plus discounts for them....and provides a shuttle. We opted to drive to the free parking so we could come and go at any time. Just three miles away in town was a nice IGA market where we shopped.

I write this after our day at Mackinac Island.....(note: both Mackinaw and Mackinac are pronounced with the "aw" at the end)...But, will continue in chronological order.

Tree Love!
Neat thing near our beachfront...just about 300 feet from our unit. We can actually see Mackinac Island from the shore. Lots of kids swimming in Lake Huron....We can also see the Mackinac Bridge from the campground shore.

This was sunset last night AT 9:15PM!!!Sunset! To the eye the sun was huge, and ORANGE! The camera loses the orange color to a dull white/orange look.

Lovely place, and fine prelude to the Island!!!



Your Pastie, My Pastie!

From the "General Information" category!

The image was not pretty. We passed a small building on the U P with the name "Grandma's Pasties!" That vision seemed a bit wrong. Then we passed a hundred more places advertising their pasties.

Then we found out there are pasties (pay-stees) as used by strippers, and in the U P there are pasties (pa-stees) which are pastries filled with rutabaga, potato, beef, small bits of vegatables, etc. They run near $5 each; weigh about a pound, and are way too much starch!

We bought two when Duchess just had to stop and buy smoked fish...apparently another staple of the U P. She chose a trout. They also had smoked salmon and whitefish.

One negative we saw on the U P.....many, many businesses; restaurants, motels, resorts, and small shops were closed and/or for sale. It appears their economy must be devastated. I plan to ask about a bit and see what is happening.



On The Road to MIchigan

On the road from Tomahawk to Mackinaw City, Michigan. We traveled across the "UP" as it is known here...the upper peninsula. Below, a rest stop where we lunched alongside the road with "Roadhouse" and "Side Road Suzie."

Manistique lighthouse sits on a rock quay in Lake Michigan. The place is actually about 50-70 feet tall, and located at the end of a quarter mile quay. I am zoomed to 10 times in this picture.

Following a discussion of my constant use of the camera, Duchess insisted on a picture of "The Duke" at the wheel...

The Mackinaw Bridge.....Cost, $8 for a motorhome with car attached! Autos get across for $2.50.
We did not feel the oft-mentioned wind whipping our vehicle about. Seems the wind is usually high on the bridge, and I can believe it. There are no high railings to break the wind, and the center of the lanes is a grid of steel, allowing wind through. On our crossing it was calm. jet boat to Mackinaw Island. Pictures tonight folks....We're probably going to splurge and take a horsedrawn carriage tour.



Tomahawk, Wisconsin

Reality has a cruel way of stepping into your memories. I last saw Tomahawk, Wisconsin in May of 1970. The memories were already changing from my youth in the 50s. Today ,much has changed.

We stayed at Northforest Campground...located about 7 miles East of Tomahawk, off CR A. It was pleasant, but remote, and dusty on the drive in.

The picture above is all the memoiry that remains of "Weggie's Point Resort" off CR D. An island which then was connected to land by a log bridge built during the winter by Weggie (Heinie Weggman), the owner. The four cabins, and the main house are gone. In their place are a dozen homes along the waterfront.

Bradley Park in Tomahawk has likewise changed. It was haven to campers with tents when we went there. Now it is a small nature center, and a road. The soft pine needle beds under the tall pines have been replaced by weeds and ground plants.
On our way in to the park we crossed an old railroad crossing. Just before it, as we round a bend in the road...a surprise doe stood along the road.

I spoke to lots of folks, but not too many remember much of Tomahawk in the 50s or 60s. Time marches on.