Fall colors, rocky coastline and Lobster oh my!

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Beautiful BAAA HAAbor.

Arrived at our campsite at the KOA in Bar Harbor via the stunning drive up the Maine Turnpike on 295/95. The trees are finally changing and it is really spectacular. Indiana has beautiful falls, but it does not compare to the fall colors here. The hills are studded with large dark green pine trees interwoven with the reds, yellows and oranges. I can certainly see why tourists make their way up here to take in the changing season colors. I also have to say that Indiana needs to take some lessons in highway construction/maintenance from the great state of Maine. Narry a pothole to be seen and they got 125 inches of snow last year, so I wonder what their secret is? We lucked out again and had a sunny, clear day for our drive.

I was not expecting much of the KOA here (trying to abide by my new, no expectations rule) and we were all pretty excited when we pulled into camp site 369. We are right on the water and can hear the lapping waves while sitting on the couch in the RV. Couldn’t get any better than that. Donny is a KOA camp host and brought us to our site. He said that the night before they had quite a storm and the wind was rocking and rolling everything, so we are very lucky we missed that. He told us that when it’s high tide the water comes right up to the camp site. My dad didn’t believe him, but about 7:00pm, the water was RIGHT THERE!

The coast line is like no other that I have seen with the huge rocks and boulders jutting out the beaches. Did I say it’s beautiful? Well I’ll say it again, it’s absolutely beautiful up here and I’ve only been here one day. We went to a small qaint restaurant in Bar Harbor called The Chart Room. Our waitress, Cate, is a year round resident and she waitresses during the “season” along with landscaping and in the winter she does house cleaning and a lot of caretaking for houses of people that are seasonal residents. She said that the roads are always cleared in the winter and she was used to the winters because she has lived there all her life. I had my first Maine lobster there, but I have to say that I’m lazy and prefer the tail. The whole lobster is cheaper then just the tail and I now know why….because it’s a lot of work. AND I’m not a fan of the tamale stuff…it’s just too gross looking, I don’t care if it’s a delicacy. Oh, and mom and I shared a piece of blueberry pie with blueberry ice cream. Yes, it was the best blueberry pie I have ever had. I am not exaggerating. It was SO good. We all got up in the middle of the night with horrible heartburn, so that has to tell you how good it was! Or that we had WAY too much butter..

Oct. 6:

We went whale watching today…..well….we “watched” for whales for about 4 hours and needless to say, we didn’t find any.  We did see a pod of dolphins, but not whales.  Unfortunately, what I mostly saw was a whole lot of people vomiting.  The boat ride out to the “whale grounds”, whatever that means, was over an hour and by the time we got there people were dropping like flies!  I had never in my life seen so much vomit or bags of vomit being carried around.  One poor woman ran by and went head first into the trashcan.  Ick.  My mom and I were luckily not effected by the unsavory display of puking.  As soon as the first person started retching, I made a beeline to the top of the ship to avoid being apart of the vomit domino effect.  I felt sorry for those people because they had another hour and a half boat ride back to shore.  It was also very cold and I couldn’t feel my feet by the time we docked, but I was NOT going to go inside where it was like puke-poloosa.  After that WONDERFUL experience, we did go to a restaurant and have some wonderful lobster bisque.  I did not let that vomitorama deter me  in my quest to eat lobster at least once a day while I was in Maine.  I also thank god that it was a nice sunny day and that I have a stomach of steel.  You have to be thankful for that.  I have a short video on my Facebook of the short dolphin sighting.  I did not video any of the vomiting……you’re welcome.

I think tomorrow we are going to Acadia and hike a few easy trails.  Mom and dad tell me that the Acadia lodge has the most amazing popovers that you will ever eat….so, I guess I’ll have to go there, if forced, to try them :). I’m not sure how I can endure such hardships! But, I’ll try.  Hopefully, I’ve seen the last of the motion sickness bags to last the rest of my life and tomorrow brings more sun, more lobster and less puke.

Happy Trails!

Niagara Falls is a barrell of fun!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWP_20141002_003 WP_20141002_010 WP_20141002_013 WP_20141002_027 WP_20141002_029 WP_20141002_032 WP_20141002_035 WP_20141002_059 WP_20141002_038 WP_20141002_048 WP_20141002_049  If I had known how much there was to see and do in Niagara Falls, I would’ve planned on staying longer and probably would’ve remembered my camera!  (Thankfully, I had my phone and it takes great pictures and video.)  It is absolutely beautiful up here!  We are stayed  at a campground called “Branches of Niagara”,  It’s a well maintained and it has a small lake with a zip line over it.  We didn’t spend much time in the campground, just to sleep and shower, but you could tell that the people running the place really cared about it.  It’s about 3 miles from Niagara Falls.

We took a tour with a company called Greyline tours and went on the Maid of the Mist and to The Cave of the Winds.   I cannot believe how close you get to the falls at both attractions.  I had never heard of The Cave of the Winds and don’t know why they don’t advertise more.  They give you a pair of sandals, that you get to keep and to everyone’s surprise were extremely comfortable.  I wore mine the rest of the day. (If you are thinking “dork!” right now, you will just have to see them, they are pretty nice sandals…seriously!)  You also get a plastic rain poncho and a plastic bag to put your other shoes in.  Regardless of how hard you try….you WILL get wet!  Don’t fight it!  Just get soaked!  That’s part of the fun and about ten minutes after you leave, you will be completely dry.   I think I enjoyed going to Cave of the Winds as much as the boat ride.  You go down in an elevator 175 feet and walk out on these walkways and platforms, RIGHT next to the American Falls.   It is incredible!

You will get another flimsy poncho at the Maid of the Mist, which takes to EXTREMELY close to the Horseshoe Falls.  My poncho had a big hole in it even before the boat started moving.   Mom and I stood out of the bow of the ship and the water was rushing and swirling around the ship and made you feel like you were in a big storm.  The noise was so LOUD that you couldn’t hear anything else.  I’m not sure why they call it “mist” because it certainly is not a mist, but more like a gale force storm.    I LOVED it.  I would recommend that everyone go at least once in your life time because it is something you will never forget.    After getting off the Maid of the Mist, you walk thru the park and we saw a man sitting in a chair feeding the squirrels and birds.  He said that he had been doing it for 15 years.  He let me and mom feed the birds.  I was amazed that the birds didn’t care if a stranger held the seeds!  I took video of the Chicadee’s eating out of my hand (you can see the video’s on my facebook page) and  I felt like a true Disney Princess.   It made my day!

Our Tour guide/Bus Driver, Tom, was funny and very informative.  He told us the story of one of the daredevil’s that went over the falls, who had  strapped both arms to the inside of the barrel and tied a 100 pound anvil to his feet.  They found the barrel and the only thing in it was the guys right arm in the strap!  They never found the rest of him!  EEEWWWWWWWWWWWWW.  I had a hard time getting that picture out of my head after he told us that….I will  always remember that story though.

Later that evening, mom and I walked across the bridge to Canada (Dad was at the Casino!).  I have to say that I think they have a better view of both of the falls in the Canadian side.  When you are right next to them or UNDER them, you don’t get the full picture, so it was pretty amazing seeing them both from the other side of the river.

All in all, it was a perfect day.

We left Grand Island, New York and Stayed one night in Glenville, New York at Arrowhead Marina and Campground, which is on the Mohawk River.  Today we drove to Wells, Maine and are staying at the Wells Beach RV Resort.  It rained all day today as we were driving out of the Adirondack’s and into the Berkshire’s.  It was still a beautiful drive, despite all the rain.  Tomorrow we head up north to Bar Harbor and will be there for 5 days.  I’m crossing my fingers for good weather and looking forward to seeing Acadia National Park!   We have been to seven States in 5 days: Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine!  Whewwwwwww.  Cannot wait to see what happens tomorrow!!!!!  Happy Trails!

Out with the old…? Who’s old?

IMG_0789.JPGA couple of weeks ago I sent off our old family reel-to-reel video tapes to have them transferred to CD’s. I opened the box today and the first CD that I watched was an old grainy video from 1968 of one of our first family vacations. We travelled out west in a truck pulling a camper and I was 4 years old. Watching the shaky scenes of Mount Rushmore and Old Faithful, I found myself thinking about my upcoming adventure and what I remember of those trips as a child. It’s so funny the things that we remember and the things that made us happy or sad. I remember my disappointment at the Petrified Forest. I could not wrap my head around the fact that it was NOT a forest but just a flat piece of land, full of rocks. I wanted to see a grove of standing trees made of stone. Even now, I think…How cool would that be? I suppose if I had access to the internet at that time I would’ve been much less disappointed.

I also remember discovering rock candy, the smell of campfires, that marshmallows tasted so much better burnt then right out of the bag and thinking that someone could fall into one of those bubbling geysers so easily, why were there no fences there? And one other very vivid memory: During that trip my parents bought me a little furry stuffed brown bear. He had a little red plastic collar with a short silver chain for a leash and made a crinkly sound when you squeezed him. Although I loved rock candy and the smell of campfires, they certainly did not compare to how much I loved that little brown bear. I had that bear for years until it was so old that it got a hole worn in the fake fur, from me dragging it around on that little leash. Although my expectations of the Petrified Forest, turned out to be a let down, that silly little bear made up for it. It’s so crazy, when you are little, how small things could make everything okay.

while I’m trying to let go of any expectations about this up coming trip. This has been difficult for me because, well… I’m a planner. A planner. An organizer. A schedule keeper. It’s never been easy for me to leave anything to chance. I like to know where I stand, what comes next, who does what and when. But during this excursion, I just want to let things happen. I want to relax, take my time and take everything in. I’m beginning to think that maybe we are all meant to have a mid-life crisis so that we can think about what we have grown into and start again…if we choose to. The uncertainty of my life during the last 9 months, has been a long journey of questions, fears, anxiety and confusion. But now, I’m ready to try again.  Make a change.

Last night was the last night I will ever spend in my house and today I moved the last of my furniture into my sister’s house.  I’ll be staying there for the next 4 days until I leave, and my things are in bags, boxes and bins.  I’d lived in that house for 13 years and It was a wonderful home. But, Now I’m happy to pass it along to the next person that will love it and take care of it. Yet I find myself struggling to figure out exactly what it is that I’m truly feeling about it.  I don’t think that it’s sadness that I feel, although I will miss my house because I spent a lot of time, energy and money, making it into what I wanted.   Maybe It just hasn’t sunk in yet and after I clean the house this weekend and hand over the keys..it will hit me. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see. Hopefully I won’t end up in a giant pile of tears and snot…because that is never fun.  And no one wants to see that!

So, in 4 days, I will embark on a new journey.  My home will be on wheels instead of a foundation.  I’m ready to hit the road. Blow this popsicle stand. Take the road less travelled. So far, I’ve just planned where we are going and when. I’ve made all the campground reservations…making sure there is no drive that is too long between locations. But, I am trying to leave it at that so we can do what we feel like doing on any particular day. Letting go of my expectations. Experiencing things the way a kid would.  Enjoying things as they come. If I’m lucky, maybe I’ll discover a part of me that I hadn’t seen in a long time. Or better yet a part of me that I have yet to discover. I want to make some new memories.  Memories that will stay with me forever.  And…. if I’m really lucky, maybe, just maybe, I’ll find a little brown bear with a red plastic collar and a small silver chain leash that will make everything even better!  Keep your fingers crossed!  Happy Trails!

“Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.” –Jim Rohn –

Change is hard.  Duh.  If it were easy, we would all be doing it…..all the time.  What makes change even harder?  STUFF!  The stuff that I’ve worked for, accumulated, collected, stacked up, stored away, dusted and moved from place to place has become…..well….a pain in my ass.  I’m surrounded by years of purchases.  Things that I haven’t seen in years. Things that I look at and think “what the hell did I buy that for”?  Although the sheer volume of crap is currently gumming up my Feng Shui, I am slowly envisioning my life without these things.  And though I have moments of intense attachment anxiety towards those tiny useless salt cellars that I bought for all of those dinner parties that I was going to have, I will let it go.  Just Let It Go.  What else have I learned?  No one else wants your crap either.

Now that that is out of the way…let me tell you a little bit about owning an RV.  The things I’ve learned so far:

As soon as you drive it home, something will stop working.  But hopefully you will have purchased from a reputable RV dealer that will not just say “well, drive it back up here and we’ll look at it”.  So, my first piece of advice is to buy close to home, so you can take it back over there and make them fix it.  In my case I was lucky enough to have a brother-in-law that came to my rescue so that we could avoid the ugly breakdown that I was on the verge of having.  No One Wants To See That.  Anyway, if your leveling jacks will not go down and your room slides will not work as soon as you get home:

1.  There is hidden access in one of your storage compartments that contain your hydraulic system.  Mine was behind a small carpeted hatch that just came open by removing 1 screw.  Apparently a small bolt came loose when I drove it home.  Thanks to Brad, he found it and fixed it and viola!  Everything worked again.  I’m not sure why the dealer didn’t think to have me look at this or even show it to me when we went through the walk thru, but oh well.  I hope everyone has a useful relative like I do.

2.  Every RV is different…kind of like a snow flake!  While there are tons of forums, articles and YouTube videos to help out a new RV owner, finding one for your specific set up can be like finding a needle in a grain silo full of hay.  You will need to just piece together information from other owners experience.  Even calling the manufacturers can be helpful, but in the end, you may need to improvise.

3.  Where oh where is my fresh water tank?  My fresh water tank is in a cabinet in the bedroom, concealed by faux doors that were screwed shut.   I only found it after finding a comment on an RV forum that had theirs in the same location.  And luckily my drain valve was right next to it.  I had read many articles about the importance of sanitizing your fresh water tank and I fretted over the specifics of how to do this for WAY too long.    Bottom line…I finally just used a funnel and poured the recommended amount of bleach directly into my water hose before hooking it up to my freshwater tank and filling  it up.   Then drain and rinse, drain and rinse!  My parents didn’t even want to kill me for using so much water.

4.  There is a small switch located by my steps that turn off the battery connection for the generator. How it got turned off is a mystery but, thanks to mom for figuring it out.  Another crisis averted.

5.  Accessories are our friends.  I installed vent covers for both of my ceiling vents.  You can purchase these thru Walmart for much less than at an RV dealer.  (Plus, you get free shipping). These are useful so that you do not have to worry about closing your vents if it rains and extremely easy to install.  I also added bug screens to the hot water heater vents and the refrigerator vents, also available from Walmart.com.  Sam’s club sells RV toilet paper for a whole lot less than you can buy it from an RV dealer!  Who knew?  Walmart also has a small section of RV accessories in the store.  It is way back by the car stuff….they have: water hoses (make sure the one for your fresh water is designated for drinking), cleaning supplies, black water deodorizers, mirrors, step covers, etc…

Today is another day of packing and moving things.  I’m slowly making headway out of the clutter.  I’ll sign off for now with this: “All great changes are preceded by chaos.” -Deepak Chopra –   Wow! Is he right!

 

East Coast..on down. Here’s the plan for the first leg.

  1. image imageMohican State Park/Ohio
  2. Niagara Falls/New York
  3. Wells Beach/Maine
  4. Bar Harbor/Maine
  5. Old Orchard Beach/Maine
  6. Exploring Cape Cod/Massachusetts 
  7. Washington DC
  8. Jamestown/Williamsburg Virginia
  9. Hilton Head Island/South Carolina
  10. St. Augustine/Florida
  11. Ormond Beach/Florid
  12. Blue Springs State Park/Florida
  13. Fort Wilderness, Disney/Florida
  14. Exploring the Keys/Cudjoe Key, Florida
  15. Everglades/Florida
  16. Fort Myers/Florida
  17. St. Pete Beach/Florida

“Not all those who wander are lost” — J.R.R. Tolkien

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My new RV!

My new RV!

Hi.  My name is Amiee.  I will be turning 50 this year!  Wooop Wooop?  In December, 2013, I was laid off from Indiana University after 26 LONG years allowing them to suck the life right out of me.  It’s taken several months of “rehabilitation” to form myself back into a living, breathing human being.  I still have flash backs, so I think that my mind and my body are still recovering from the trauma of sitting at a desk 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.  After months of going through the grieving process…being angry…resentful…sad…scared….depressed..I’m sure there are many more feelings that I went through but , I’ve made it through the rough times and am starting to feel like a human again.  While losing my job has been one of the worst things I have been through in a while, it has also been a blessing.  Sitting at a desk all day every week day, being told when to arrive, when to eat lunch, when to go home, when to take a break, when to go to meetings….blah blah blah, I believe I became a of “Stepford” worker.  My weekends were filled with the must do’s…laundry, grocery shopping, lawn mowing, etc…  I lived for those once a year vacations that made my life worth living.

I have always loved to travel, to experience new things, new cultures and OH, the food!  I loved almost everything about traveling…with the exception of the “getting there” part.  Plane travel is HARD!  Those of us that travel  know that “getting there” is the most difficult part, but it has always been worth it, in my eyes.  No amount of flight delays, bad weather, sickness or encounters with mean people has ever dampened my love of travel.   I have travelled all over the world and the U.S., but most of the places I’ve visited here, I was just to young to appreciate  or remember.  My mom has this same wanderlust.  I think I may have inherited that from her.  She has always wanted to  just get a camper, hop in and go.  We talked a lot about doing just that, since I got laid off.

After many months of unsuccessful job searching and semi successful soul searching  I decided to turn my misfortune into an opportunity of a life time.  So, I’ve sold my home and am in the process of selling most of my furniture and belongings.  I purchased a Forest River, Georgtown 34-ft. RV.   WHAT?  Yes, I did.  You think I’m crazy don’t you?  Well, my dad thinks so too!  But, I don’t think I’m crazy, I think that for the first time in a long, long time, I’m actually starting to feel something!  Even if it’s being scared…or feeling joy, or both at the same time.  I believe that I had lost myself at that desk.  To the point where I was just going through the motion of living.  When your days are filled with the same mundane tasks…I think you forget, except for those  two precious weeks of vacation time a year, what it’s like to live…really live.  That’s my excuse anyway!  So, here’s the plan:  We are going to travel for a year and see the country.  And after that?  I don’t know.  On this adventure, I may just find out what it is that I want to do when I grow up.

I’m starting this blog because I want to document my experience.  I picked up my RV last month and have already learned many things!   I’m going to try to write about the people we meet, places that we visit, experiences that I have and of course the things I find to eat!  So, This is the beginning of a wonderful adventure, a new beginning and a chance to experience this with my parents….which of course is priceless to me.   I hope that my experience will insight others to start their own adventure.  My trip begins on Sept. 30th, but I’ll share what I’ve already learned in my next post.  Happy Trails!