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October 15th 2019
Published: October 15th 2019
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We decided not to go into Chicago and instead explored more local places. Valparaiso ("Valpo") had a spectacular outdoor train layout. We drove on to the lakeside home of friends in Manchester, Michigan, stopping en route in Three Rivers, MI, at the bookstore which Linda remembered as wonderful. It is. After a delightful visit, we forged ahead at our not very fast pace toward home. We stopped in Thompson Ohio, where we encountered one of the nicest campgrounds ever. We stopped twice in New York state, at Chautaqua and Campbell. Then on to New England, which already felt like being home. After a night at a ski area in Bennington Vermont, we drove through the glorious fall leaf colors which entice people from all over to New England. And, finally, to Durham. Our yard has all three at once: leaves, pine needles, and this year's enormous crop of acorns. So we are busy, but that's just fine.


The thought of three and a half hours round trip on the commuter train and then miles of walking diminished our enthusiasm for going into Chicago. Unfortunately, on this trip I am not yet as strong as I hope to be, and John has done a kind job of accommodating me. The train layout near Valparaiso was maybe the best I have ever seen. The topography was very varied, and since the location incorporated a botanic garden, so were the plants and shrubs. The layout was arranged chronologically, with scenes from successive periods of Indiana history. There were lots of clever Halloween decorations amidst it all. There was of course a train afficionado who pointed out features to us, e.g. the procedures for wiping down all the tracks twice daily.

The bookstore in Three Rivers is wonderful still, though it is almost overwhelming, with cartons overflowing with books all over the floors, and an organizational system which took some doing to figure out. I'd need a lot of time to explore it thoroughly, but John had only gone to find a cup of coffee, so I cut my visit short. The visit with friends in Manchester MI was great fun for both of us. We did not want to arrive emptyhanded, so we pulled in to a farm market to buy a large chrysanthemum plant. But we couldn't turn around, and had to unhook the vehicles to exit. As time goes by, we have fewer and fewer of those episodes with our RV, so it becomes a slight surprise when we goof. We went out to a local hangout for dinner, and gabbed and gabbed. That is a lovely farmland area, with many lakes such as the one our friends' house is on.

My memory of the next few days is a bit dim. Drive, sleep... I did crystalize my understanding of John's and my different attitudes toward journeys back to home. I want to get in the vehicle and just drive straight through. John, though, tries to find interesting places to explore and stop along the way. Our itinerary through Erie PA was muddled; that seemed like a lost hour to me. Another experience was that we are at the end of the season, and in a couple of our campground stops, we were pretty lonely.

The beautiful campground we found was even more of a surprise because the directions in the KOA guide took us for several miles on a bumpy dirt road. And suddenly there we were amid buildings with abundant fall decorations and lots of happy activity. Fortunately, we were then given directions that only required a mile or so on the dirt road before we got onto a better road back to the highway. It was lovely driving the southern route across New York state.

But oh, wow, southern Vermont and New Hampshire were incomparable. We stopped for breakfast at a place in Wilmington VT where we had eaten before, back in our days of tenting, when we often woke up to freezing mornings. At one place we stopped, at the top of a hill with a panoramic view, instead of looking at the trees, I checked the license plates. They really were from a lot of different states, and the people looked just plain excited by the fall gifts.

As my head bobbled through the miles, I decided to try to identify the specific colors I was observing. Since I started with apricot, I continued with the fruit theme. Bartlett pear, peach, cherry, pomegranate, cantaloupe, with lime and the dark green of avocado skin as accents. I'm sure someone else could do a better job of identifying, but I did relish the experience of looking at individual trees rather than scanning the whole scene.

We don't know when the RV will next venture out of the driveway. We'll enjoy being home for now, seeing family and friends. As always, we send our bet wishes.


15th October 2019

Thanks for sharing!
I always read all of your blog and enjoy it fully. You are such a good writer (of course!!) and we get to take the trip, without any of the downsides. We arrived in Florida last Saturday so are still settling in. We took a longer route via the Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway since Dick hadn't gone this route. And then we stopped in Asheville to visit friends who moved from Deer Isle three years ago. They are also at a CCRC though very different from ours. (a single family house, 2 BR 2 Bath, double car garage) Gordon is also a train fanatic and we wish John and he could connect. Gordon had a big train set up in his double car garage in Maine but had to let it all go when they moved. He missed it, so the moved a wall in their 2 car garage (still very big) and he now has multiple tracks and trains in a set up that can be fully shut off from the garage. It's his man cave and both he and Judy are thrilled with it. Big boys with little toys they still love. Thanks for sharing all you have. Enjoy fall and re entry. Barb and Jim are back from Costa Rica and we plan to get together in a few days. Carol

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