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July 2014

Lac du Saint Sacrement

by Richie
Lac du Saint Sacrement

Lake George, NY
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 Lake

 In 1642, French Jesuit missionary Isaac Jogues found his way to the Adirondacks. The local Iroquois weren’t too happy with his presence here and chopped off a couple of his fingers as a warning. Not to be deterred, Isaac returned four years later and irritated the Mohawks who were far less generous and killed him. His name for the area, Lac du Saint Sacrement, stuck around for 100 years until the British renamed the lake for King George II. Oh, and Isaac did get canonized for his martyrdom, so I guess it was worth the trouble after all.

Lake George was an important military fort in the French-Indian War, and Fort William Henry dominates the far end of the bay. The French and their Indian allies burned 300 British ships in the harbor, putting a big dent in the occupation.

 Fort

The town became a popular resort at the turn of the century, as the lake stretches for miles and offers grand views of the surrounding mountains. Lodges, motels, and summer homes sprang up, and it’s here that the Adirondack camp style of design is in its most splendid form. Characterized by the ionic deep brown and green color scheme and a passion for rustic woodland settings, these cottages look invitingly cool and shady.

The downtown shopping district is colorful and lively. Steamboats launch from the wharf and offer short excursions around the lake. Motorboats are plentiful, tucked into coves or rocking gently at private docks in front of lakeside camps. We spotted several swimming beaches and families were frolicking in the blue-grey water. town

It was a great day roaming around the area and eating our way across the lake. With luck, tomorrow will be more of the same!

food

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Adirondacks

by Richie
Adirondacks

Lake George, NY
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lake

We have been climbing through the mountains this vacation – the hill country south of Pittsburgh, the Alleghenies, the Poconos, and now we are settled in the Adirondacks. 

The drive has been more strenuous than usual, given all these mountains to chug up and then freefall down. And being summer, all manner of road construction is underway. So much attention must be paid to the road and tight grip kept on the steering wheel, which makes us a bit worn out at the end of the day. 

We’ve landed at King Phillips RV Resort in Lake George, NY and made a cozy camp. The awning is out and a comfy patio has been outfitted with rug, chairs, table, and tiny solar lamp. Our mascot, Wendell the Chain-Saw Carved Bear rests alongside, and the hammock is strung between two towering elm trees. Our campsite is outfitted with water, electricity, cable TV, and a sewer hook-up, which we are finally taking full advantage of after 5 years of carrying around a “donut” fixture that connects the sewer hose to the inlet.

This resort campground is an interesting mixture of transient campers, like us, and seasonal renters who have RV’s but with elaborate patios and gardens which are showy evidence that the owners return here year after year. We’ve seen this type of New York lake park before in Chautauqua, and it still charms.

 lg2

Tonight we hopped on the motorcycle and cruised the main drag on Route 9 to the Prospect Diner for a great dinner that I didn’t have to cook. The short drive required a sweater plus jacket and gloves as it’s been unseasonably cool this week – something I won’t grumble about too much after escaping the humidity and heat of the Ohio Valley. lg1

Our campground is located on Bloody Pond Road (ewww!). Heading back from dinner we drove past the camp to find out if there really is a bloody and haunted pond. Instead we found a lucky shortcut to Lake George and the main shopping district. We’ll take this route tomorrow to explore the downtown area.

 adirondacks

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Alleghenies & Poconos

by Richie
Alleghenies & Poconos

Lackawanna State Park
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Lackawanna State Park 

We began the day in Southwestern PA and traversed the whole state in a big, long drive. The Alleghenies were mountainous, of course, but thoughtfully the highway engineers blasted several tunnels along the way so you didn’t need to scale ALL the mountains.

In the Poconos, we passed near the town where my folks lived for many years and I spent a few awkward teenage years. Alas, the rain prevented any good look from the highway, and we’d already been on the road too many hours to take a detour down memory lane.

This evening were are encamped in Lackawanna State Park, just north of Scranton. The park is lush and green, fresh from the rain this afternoon, and there’s an enticing lake nearby. The ranger office was empty when we pulled in and we are the only campers in this loop tonight.

Just the way we like it after a long day’s drive!

 

 

 

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Fallingwater

by Richie
Fallingwater

Mill Run, PA
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 Fallingwater 1

We have come to Mill Run to see the famous Frank Lloyd Wright home, Fallingwater, and today’s tour did not disappoint! We left camp early in the morning to catch a 9:00 tour. The rain held off and it was a splendid motorcycle ride through bucolic countryside to the Fallingwater property. Our tour lasted two hours, and then we were feted with a swell lunch on a terrace overlooking the stream.

 FALL 2

Frank Lloyd Wright was commissioned as architect for this home in 1935, near the end of his long career, by the Kaufman family. The Kaufman’s were heirs to a department store empire that eventually became the Macy’s chain. They already owned the property, and regularly escaped Pittsburgh’s notorious industrial pollution to vacation in the country.

Wright’s famed theory of architecture was to build “organically” meaning that the structures were to fit seamlessly into their environment, as if they were a part of nature. Here at Fallingwater, Wright also experimented exuberantly with cantilevers. They are everywhere, leaping over the stream, ledges in all the built-in furniture, even the rock walls have miniature cantilevers. Like many other Wright buildings, he also incorporated Compression and Release design – low ceilings and tight corridors giving way to rising lofts and open expanses. The effect is that you are surprised at every turn, each corner reveals another sublime view of the water falls and surrounding woodlands.

 FALL 3

It was a wonderful day and tonight we are lounging campside, enjoying the kiddie stuff they’ve got set up, and resting for a big day of driving tomorrow.

 farmer tim

 

 

 

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Basket Case

by Richie
Basket Case

Mill Run, PA
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 BASKET 1

A few miles north of Zanesville, Ohio where we camped last night is the charming town of Dresden – The Basket Capital. Here is where Longaberger baskets are made. Famous and pricey, they are handmade maple strip baskets, and celebrated throughout this region and beyond.

 Longaberger baskets

We did a morning tour of Dresden. Bought a pricey basket. And then toured, superficially, the Longaberger Homestead, which is part tourist park, part HQ and basket outlet, and home to their sales reps.

 Longaberger baskets

Back about 60 years ago the founder, Dave Longaberger, was kind of a loser. Took him six years to graduate high school. His father was a weaver, making industrial size baskets for the local pottery factories to haul their tiles. Dave had an idea to sell smaller baskets to consumers. His first attempts failed, and then he hit on the concept of door-to-door sales reps, like Avon and Tupperware and Fuller Brush. That business model is still in place today, and it’s a billion-dollar company.

After having a splendid and relaxed morning looking at baskets and boutiques, we hit the road eastbound.

In Wheeling, WV a tire blew.

Well, not blew, but rather shed all its tread. There was a lot of vibration at the steering wheel, a loud bang, and then I jerked the motorhome to the shoulder. Tim jumped out to inspect the damage – we thought we’d lost the motorcycle off the back! But it was one of the dualie tires in the rear, fairly new with only 8,000 miles on it. Tim braved the swerving traffic and hauled most of our shredded rubber off the interstate.

We limped to the next exit, pulled into a Rite Aid, and were fortunate that we landed in the “good” section of Wheeling. Triple A was there in about 15 minutes, and a tire store with the right size in stock was only three miles away. All in all, it was only a two-hour delay, but we were both pretty shook up.

 TIRE

Late afternoon found us proceeding cautiously toward our destination for the evening. All was going pretty well until we got on the back roads and climbed a 2300 ft. mountain. Crawling through Connellsville, PA, I was worried we’d blow an engine gasket next!

We finally made it to our campground aroud 7:00. It’s another Jellystone RV Park full of kids. And a big storm has arrived for the evening. But I don’t care. Tonight I’m drinking wine and trying not to be a Basket Case!

 

 

 

 

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Eastbound And Down

by Richie
Eastbound And Down

Zanesville, Ohio
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ZANESVILLE

 Z is for Zanesville, where we will catch some Zzzzs tonight.

We’re out adventuring again, on our way to parts known and unknown. Tonight’s stop-over is a sweet little campground tucked in the hills of Zanesville. It’s on Route 666, and we did have a devilish time getting here! The crawl through Cincinnati took hours on a Friday afternoon – traffic was backed up for 40 miles on all sides of the city.

But the weather was pleasant, the skies blue, and a few hours later we made it here to Zanesville, on the east side of Columbus, without undo incident. Tomorrow we’ll head out for—-well, you’ll just have to wait and see!

 DSCN5335 DSCN5340

 

 

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Go Fast Turn Left

by Richie
Go Fast Turn Left

Madison Regatta

go fast 1

Nothing beats a mid-stream seat for viewing a river race! Aboard our friends’ luxury motor yacht, we were a few yards from the thrilling Turn #1 at the Madison Regatta Unlimited Hydroplane Race.

 

Qualifying races were held Saturday, followed by a firework show staged mid-river from a special barge. Sunday’s races had us gripping the rails, as the #6 boat Miss Madison looked sure to win.

 

The Unlimited Hydroplane boats are super-sleek, powered by a jet engine, and rocket down the river at nearly 150 mph. They barely touch the water, skimming impossibly fast over the surface and throwing a giant rooster tail spray behind them. Careening around the tight turn in front of us, the talented and daring drivers seemed to defy the laws of physics. Remember, there’s no brakes on a boat – the drivers only have throttle control. Go Fast. Turn Left.

 

The Hydroplanes make a running start, three or four abreast, and it’s tricky to line them all up for the timed start. Then they run three laps around a 2.5 mile course. Our favorite, Oberto’s Miss Madison, had the fastest time but jumped the start line by a fraction of a second and were given a penalty that lost them the race. Better luck next year!

 

 

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Rolling On The River

by Richie
Rolling On The River

Madison, Indiana

 JULY 4-1

It’s July 4th weekend and we’re camped high on the bluff at Clifty Falls State Park. Down below our good friends Tim & Karen have moored their luxe 70’ yacht on the Ohio River. Between us is the charming town of Madison, readying for their signature event – the Madison Regatta.

The Hydro boats are lined up on the waterfront, giant cranes standing by to lift them into the water. Campers, boaters, and spectators have claimed their spots along the riverbank, and everyone is anticipating Saturday’s heat race.

JULY 4-3

The weather has been prime for a rendezvous with our friends. It’s a short drive through the woodlands of the state park and then down the big hill to the riverfront. We were picked up at the shoreline in a swanky dinghy and motored over in style to their spacious houseboat with our picnic basket in hand.

The day was spent aboard enjoying good food, splendid company, and watching the river roll by from the back deck. Later in the afternoon we took a leisurely boat ride around the riverfront to spy on the preparations for tomorrow’s race.

 JULY 4-2

Truly a perfect summer day!

 JULY 4-4

 Bourbon Slushy

1 can frozen orange juice
1 can frozen lemonade
1 bottle sweet tea
2 cans water
1 can bourbon – plus whatever spills over
Stir. Freeze. Slurp.

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