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Published: September 18th 2021
Mark your calendar.
It has been a difficult year and a half for everyone. One of the things we missed in 2020 was our annual road trip. This year, we are spending a lot of time with our daughter and her family. So this trip is rather disjointed. It will not be our usual 5-6 week marathon, as in the past. But I plan to document as much of it as may be of interest to any of my dedicated readers.
We begin this trip with heavy hearts. This will be our very first road trip without our beloved Beamer who crossed over the Rainbow Bridge in October of 2020. He was an enthusiastic traveler, always eager to jump into the back seat and go wherever we decided to go. And in his travels, he visited all 48 of the continental states (many multiple times) and all 9 southern continental provinces of Canada. And he left a special gift everywhere he went, for the enjoyment of other furry-tailed friends who would come after him. This year, the presence of our loyal traveling companion will be sorely missed.
We take to the road today, with Satellite Beach in our rear-view mirror, and head north to North Carolina to spend the summer with our daughter and her girls. We pray for safe travels and blessings from above a we venture forth.
We have been here in North Carolina for almost 6 weeks. And, believe it or not, it is hotter and more humid here than it is back home. Steve spent about four weeks cleaning, prepping, and re-staining the hundreds of feet of fencing that surrounds the back property. And now that it is finished, it looks fantastic. In addition, he has taken on a number of handyman projects around the house, fixing, restoring, and sprucing up projects that have been neglected until now. In addition, he has spent countless hours at the community pool watching over Natalie and Danielle, every week day, as they took lessons and trained for swim meets. I became the family chauffeur, the cook, the housekeeper and the shopper. And my prize project was to manually sand the stain off of the front porch bench and refinish it to a new sparkling specimen.
For the next two weeks, the kids will be tied up in summer camp and other activities, so Michelle has sent us on a two-week vacation up north. We will be off to visit family and friends in Maine and Massachusetts.
We left Apex this morning at 9 AM and headed north. Today and tomorrow are travel days…no time for sight-seeing. And with the help of GPS (something Steve has little confidence in) we landed in Chambersburg, PA for the night. Our circuitous route north is designed to avoid I-95, which can be a source of much consternation for many reasons. We drove back roads most of the way and witnessed life as it is in the mountains of Virginia. There are no housing developments in these parts. Homes, many of which are ranches built of brick, are situated on acres of land, tucked in the trees, with neatly mowed lawns. We passed through town after town where the people of the heartland of this country live and work. The valleys and the hollows were filled with fog and the smoke that has drifted east from the wild fires out west. I understand that it has made it all the way to Washington DC and NY. The smoke gave an eerie look as it blanketed the hills and dales of Virginia. We saw many distilleries and wineries, most of which were located in the Rockfish Valley area. We will need to do some research on this and file it for future reference when we have time to stop and visit a few of these places. We drove passed the entrance to the Shenandoah National Park, a place we have visited in the past and on to I-81, which trails north through Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and up into New York State.
We landed in Chambersburg, PA at 5 PM after a Walmart visit, which took us off the beaten path just a bit. After a nice salad from Cracker Barrel, we are hunkering down for a while before taking to our bed for a good night’s rest. Tomorrow, we will head to the Hartford area for our second night on the road before arriving in Maine.
Today was a second travel day. We left Chambersburg, PA at 9 AM and 80 degrees and drove east across Pennsylvania, New York and Connecticut landing in Manchester, CT, just outside of Hartford. I wish I had something more interesting to report, but traveling the entire way on interstates can be monotonous at times. I will say, however, that PA is a beautiful state with lots of farm in full bloom with corn and soy beans, and grand pastures of bright green rolling hills. And my only other comment is that the roads in NY are horrendous and in dire need of fixing. What ever happened to those shovel-ready projects proposed by the Obama administration? Just kidding.
We landed in Manchester at 4 PM and, after a nice meal from Olive Garden, we settled in for the night. Tomorrow we will arrive in Poland, ME to spend a couple of days with our good friends the Limoges at their wonderful lake-front home on Upper Range Pond.
7/26 – 7/27
So we landed in Upper Range Pond (pronounced RANG) in the early afternoon and we spent the rest of the day reconnecting with our old friends, Gloria and Bob. I have known Gloria since 7th
grade and Steve has known Bob since before that time. We went through school together. It is so very comforting to spend time with life-long friends. We enjoyed listening to Bob’s infinite stories and Gloria’s updates. So much fun. We were treated to a relaxing ride on the lake, watching the loons and learning who all of the other residents are. And we got away on Tuesday for lunch at Mac’s Seafood. Yes, of course, I had a clear-meat lobster roll and Steve had a huge haddock sandwich. So good. The tastes of Maine.
Today we packed up and left our friends and their wonderful lake-front home and headed out to visit Steve’s aunt Mary. She is Steve’s mother’s sister. She is 94 years old and spry as ever. She lives in her own home, still. Her daughter, Betsy, lives just down the road from her and brings her prepared dinners, so that she does not have to cook meals. But otherwise, she is doing very well. We brought the famous Sam’s Italian Sandwiches for lunch and Betsy came by and joined us. It was a very nice visit.
After leaving Mary’s home, we drove to LL Bean. This is a must stop when visiting Maine. We drove through narrow, heavily treed winding country roads to get there, along the Androscoggin River. The water level seemed a bit low. Perhaps they need more rain. We spent about an hour shopping in this great iconic store and bought a few items to bring back to Florida. Anyone who knows me well, knows I live in LL Bean shirts and have for 30 years. I only bought one today, but did get a couple of neat sweatshirts. I live in those, too. LOL
I have to say…being in Maine is comforting…when I see people walking around dressed like me, in khaki shorts and polo shirts from LL Bean, I am home. It is the preppy way that is true New England. And it suits me just fine.
Tonight we checked into the Hampton Inn on the river in Lewiston, just next to the old bridge that crosses over to Lewiston’s twin city, Auburn. And for dinner, we walked across the bridge to Gritty’s Pub where we had a dinner, which included Maine shrimp. Yum!! We had plans to meet a friend there but those plans fell through, so we just enjoyed each other’s company, drank wine (me) and ale (Steve) and took in the ambiance.
Tomorrow we head south to NH and Boston.
7/29/21 – 8/5/21
After leaving Maine we drove to Boston and spent a couple of days visiting with our son Scott and his family. Then we hit the road once again. For some reason, I didn’t document the next few days, though I wish I had. We drove up to Maseena, NY near the Canadian border, then followed the St. Lawrence Seaway down to Lake Ontario. We then moved on down to southern PA where we made a stop to see a life-long friend at his home off the grid. I had been hearing about Smitty’s house for decades but had never had the opportunity to see it. He built it himself with rocks gathered in the fields. It is an incredible place to visit. Kudos to Smitty.
We then drove south and made a stop in Bubba’s Fancy Gap, VA before returning to NC. Unfortunately, Bubba was not there. Perhaps he will be next time we are passing through.
Now, after returning to Florida and spending a couple of weeks at home on the beach, we are heading out for another road trip. Where it goes, nobody yet knows. Stay tuned and find out with us.
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