Turning Stone RV Park, and Utica & Ithaca NY visits.

We arrived at this Casino connected RV Park on the Oneida Nation land outside of Utica located just a mile down the road from the main casino and hotel location. We got a nice long site in the very pleasant park that had many sites for campers, trailers as well as motorhomes. Rain followed us here and made the site very wet and damp. We had plans to see our friend Greg from our Ameriprise days while here but also just relax a bit. Our first day was spent scouting out the large Casino and its numerous restaurants. We sampled one for lunch and were pleased with our choice. We are not gamblers but have found several nice RV Parks colocated with the casinos.

The next afternoon, we visited with our friend – showing off the motor coach to him for the first time – the next afternoon followed by dinner in the Casino’s Harvest Buffet. The following day we had a fabulous tour of the Adirondack Distillery – a small downtown Utica distillery making an array of liquors but with bourbon production as their primary focus. Our tour guide was a staff member since the distillery began about five years ago. His breathe of knowledge and commitment to quality and excellent products was obvious. One of the co owners arrived while we were there and I realized we had previously crossed paths in our former lives in politics. We both agreed it was great to be on the sidelines these days.

Dinner that evening was at a Greek restaurant with a long history of community involvement and commitment as well as delicious traditional Greek delicacies. On Friday we had a fabulous brewery tour at Utica Club or Saranac as it is also known. The brewery is still owned and operated by the original Matt family founders and has survived numerous economic situations but continues to make quality beer and soda products.

That evening we spent relaxing and enjoying dinner at home. Our older Yorkie, Lenny seemed out of sorts and began throwing up that night. He never does that so we wanted to keep an eye on him. We retired for the night with him still not doing well and agreed to take him to the vet in the morning. Around 5am he woke us up very sick – vomiting and diarreha with bright red blood visible. We now had an emergency to deal with called the local vet who directed us to the East Syracuse Veterinary Hospital. We arrived and after examining Lenny they recommended we take him to Cornell University Veterinary Animal Companion Hospital in Ithaca as he needed an ultrasound and serious emergent care. With an IV for fluids to prevent dehydration we bundled him off to the world renown animal hospital. They greeted us at the door, they admitted him immediately. It was obvious he was a very sick baby. We were told quickly they wanted to keep him until the vomiting stopped and his digestive tract calmed down. After three days Lenny was on the road to recovery, diagnosed with severe Hemorrhagic Gastro Enteritis – a sometimes fatal condition if not diagnosed properly. We are eternally grateful to both veterinary facilities for their superior care of Lenny, our dear family member. Sent home with antibiotics and detailed report on his illness we were hopeful of his return to normal soon. We will do a follow up visit at the Banfield Pet Hospital in Newburgh in a week. This experience highlights an important aspect of traveling with your dogs – finding and getting good medical when necessary. We have hadVPI Nationwide insurance and now have the Banfield Optima Wellness plans for them so we can get care at any Banfield. We think this has worked out well although we are considering a catastrophic coverage plan after the expense of Lenny’s illness. Taking good care of your pets is just as important as caring for each other and we make it a priority. We made a few itinerary adjustments so he could have some quiet time to recover and headed to Saugerties/Woodstock KOA.

We visit Graceland – Elvis has not left this building!

You can’t be a music lover without respecting or appreciating Elvis Presley and his music. Our visit to Graceland in Memphis followed our Nashville stop and was so illuminating about his life, family history and his accomplishments in music during such a short life.

We were reminded about his good looks, his easy smile and amazing poetic talent while waltzing through his home – his music in the background – viewing the eclectic furniture he loved and thousands of mementoes that are shared with his millions of fans. There was a certain reverence among the visitors like us – Graceland feels like a temple to his music and memory. We always wanted to visit here and were more impressed than we expected to be. We did the VIP tour with audio complement and saw the house, stables, awards rooms as well as costume and car collection.

We particularly enjoyed the early years exhibits and the movie displays – he appeared in more movies than we remembered and his musical talent as well as acting skills were remarkable.

Elvis and his family members are buried at Graceland in a respectful elegant setting. He was a dedicated family man who loved his family dearly and cared for all of them as they aged. His charitable works were amazing and his daughter Lisa continues them in his name today.

The mansion is well preserved and although somewhat grandiose, it still gives you a sense of his warmth and dedication to his family.

His concert costumes are beyond comparison – in my opinion, only Michael Jackson came close. It was cool to see so many of them and remember the songs you associated with that appearance.

I had forgotten how handsome he was and how vital his male sexuality was to his persona – you’d need to be a robot not to be affected by the smile, the lyrics and the hip swivel. He was an avid reader of everything but especially philosophy and religious works. You can see those influences in his poetry.

I took this picture of one of the news photographs taken while he served in Germany – even with the glare you can appreciate his composure and sweetness at a young 18 years old.

Oh yes the famous Pink Cadillac and it’s even cooler in person. Elvis loved cars deeply and has a fabulous collection from classics to Corvettes but this is my favorite.

More gold records than you can imagine……….

Loved this quote – it explains his determination early on to be the best he could be. Before illness and injuries that caused him constant pain, he was a force of nature in his efforts to succeed.

I couldn’t resist the Purple Caddy…..where do I get one?

The museum is staffed by a very diverse group of people – all local Memphis residents according to ones who we met – and it is clear that these Memphis residents still hold Elvis deeply in their hearts. He was a true son of this rural environment who came from very poor beginnings and proved that success was possible with hard work and a stunning talent.

This was a terrific museum and tour – we stayed in the RV Park adjacent to Graceland for a very reasonable amount – nothing elegant but very convenient especially because it was raining off and on while we were there. We thought it was so interesting and engaging – we were delighted that we had it on our 2019 itinerary.

We followed this visit with our stop in Little Rock, Arkansas and the Clinton Presidential Library, where another Son of rural roots is celebrated for his extraordinary achievements.

Waterfalls, cascades, rivers and Yellowstone Lake – water water everywhere!

Lower Falls base with rainbow

Upper Falls in Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon

Gallatin River Falls

Firehole Falls

Kepler Cascades

Madison or “Bison” River

Yellowstone Lake

Madison River or “Elk ” River – another view

Hope you enjoyed these water views of Yellowstone.

Buggies, carriages & coaches

Sometimes you get the road all to yourself ūüėä

Many in town roads have a carriage and bike lane – bicycles are ridden by Amish folks commuting to work or meetings.

This large group of carriages were parked at an Amish & Mennonite Youth Center on Sunday – no stores or restaurants are open – it’s a day of rest and family time. It’s the Mennonite families are allowed to have cars.

An elegant two horse drawn carriage that seats five or six passengers.

Below another larger version carriage with just one strong steed to pull its passengers.

This eleven year old beauty – Kate – pulled our carriage during our thirty minute ride through the neighborhood. He gave us a few pointers about the horses and their goals as we passed pastures filled with them.

Below is one of the smaller buggies the carry two or three people. It’s the compact car version.

Above a horse and carriage – the SUV version – waiting for the family at one of the many shops along Van Buren Avenue in Shipshewana.

Below is the other larger horse who pulled carriages for tourist rides – waiting for the next customer.

Traveling through an intersection – heading into rain….great protection for weather.

Below we saw a number of carriages waiting patiently for groceries at one of the local shops.

And the last photo is the ever present carriage in the family farm driveway.

It’s a great way to travel!

Barns, Barns and more buildings like barns

Few words – more pictures….

Old and tilted…

Bright and shiny…

Patch work roof…

A smaller brick building we loved..

And some distressed, others modern and brand new…

Lots of red barns…loved this weathered one above…and below….

This one had the Ten Commandments on plaques over front door.

Unusual shape…

A beautiful red door….

Oldest probably… above and below…..

These won’t be the last barns we see but they were such inspiration.

Enjoy!

Indiana Amish Country

Two years ago Rick and I traveled in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and were introduced to the Amish culture and core beliefs prevalent there. However after a few days in Elkhart County, we have learned there are differences between communities and while each community adheres to the core beliefs, there are differences – some use no electronics while others allow its members to use engines and electricity. Mennonite families are often seen using cars and they worship in churches or centers while conservative Amish restrict themselves to oil lamps, no electricity, and they worship together in each other’s homes. Middlebury, Shipshewana, and Elkhart are three areas we’ve visited and each offer intriguing views.

Eighty percent of recreational vehicles are manufactured here and the industry has bounced back from the 2099 decline – it provides employment to the surrounding communities and good benefits

Farming was historically the main occupation here, it is no longer primary – now it’s also woodworking, cabinet making, guilting, and furniture design/manufacturing work often as part of the RV industry. Our coach was built here and we benefited from the Amish precision and expertise with wood and details.

However almost every home has farm animals especially horses – several different breeds and ages. Horses for the small buggies – the commuter vehicles every Amish family uses, also the larger Belgium or Percheron horses for plowing fields or hauling equipment, and smaller horses or Shetland ponies for the wagons younger Amish uses around their neighborhoods.

The month of May is foaling time for these beautiful creatures and we were lucky enough to see youngsters were in every pasture – some merely hours old. They were endearing and genuinely special creatures – very interested in their new world. Their desire to walk, run and play was overwhelming and overtook any common sense they might have had.

This foal seemed as intrigued by us as we were of him. Someday soon he will be pulling his owners family along the local byways with his own buggy. He was just days old and full of curiosity. Below is another foal who seemed to want his tired mom to get up and play with him. In background is an expectant mom counting the hours till delivery. We saw many other horses who were equally as beautiful and sweet but the babies really grabbed our hearts.

Barns have always had a special attraction for me – here there is usually a buggy with or without horse in the driveway, a hitching post for buggy & horse parking, and a small outbuilding at the end of driveway with a telephone for emergencies. The homesteads are well maintained, often meticulously by hand and play-sets for kids are usually visible in the backyard even a trampoline.

I have refrained from photographing the Amish people as that is their preference but it has been a joy to see them working, walking, biking and just living their lives.

We have enjoyed their food, service and smiles – we ate at the Blue Gate Restaurant, had a buggy ride with a delightful Amish gentleman, shopped at their stores and experienced their genuine pleasure at sharing their peace with us – strangers.

We have slowed our pace and hopefully learned from them about treating all people we meet with kindness and savoring every minute of our day. If you ever swing through this area – stop and enjoy the respite offered by the plain and simple life

Kansas City, Missouri Visits

We visited Kansa City Missouri prior to joining the Fantasy RV Rivers West/Lewis & Clark Expedition Tour so we have much to report on about this city. ¬†The weather has been interesting – hot, thunderstorms galore and several tornado watches, but we did fine and will ultimately be happy to leave “Tornado Alley”!

 

Goodbye Riverbend Рand hello to Mt Pleasant before our 2017 Tours begin. 

We had a wonderful month In LaBelle,  Florida seeing old friends and making new ones – but we left for Mt Pleasant following  a stop in Atlanta at NIRV to drop off  the Taj for some work prior to our big 6 months West Coast trip. 

We visited Sanibel, Captiva and Venice FL.  during our Riverbend stay and love these special places – we will return to them next year definitely!  The weather was fabulous and we enjoyed our second  no snow & no sleet winter!

Our Riverbend site is getting more work done – we bought stone edging to improve the gardens and add some sparkle. Our landscaper has done a great job with the shrubs and palms – we added the bouganviella  – they bring color to the gardens. But now we have stored our site’s  lawn furniture & decor – all is packed away until our return early November 2017. 

We are home in Mt Pleasant for two weeks catching up with friends and family and enjoying our lovely home. Also enjoying some crazy thunder & lightening weather!  But we are very excited about our forthcoming western USA trip including three Fantasy RV Tours/Rallies and we can’t wait to get started in May. 

But our adventures really begin with a NIRV Rally in Thackerville, Oklahoma in the end of April.   There we will spend several days with fellow Entegra Coach owners and snooze with NIRV folks.  On the way we stop in Meridian, Mississippi and Shreveport, Louisiana and travel thru eastern Texas – adding more states to our USA map! 

After the NIRV rally, we have planned visits to Oklahoma City, OK, northern Kansas – to see the “world’s largest ball of twine” and then to Kansas City, Missouri before beginning The Lewis & Clark (Rivers West) Fantasy RV Tour on May 22nd.  We begin the tour in St Charles MO north of St Louis and end in Warrenton, Oregon where Lewis first views the Pacific Ocean thus completing his assignment from President Jefferson.  

Following this first tour we have six weeks to visit friends and family in Washington, Oregon and California before beginning the National Parks West Tour in late August.   Following this amazing visit to the seven beautiful national parks around the Grand Canyon, we will join hundreds of RVers to attend the International Balloon Festival in Albuquerque NM – checking a big item on my bucket list!   

We will return to Florida in the fall via stops in Dallas, Houston and New Orleans.  Wow!  It really sounds amazing when you write it all down!  Also exhausting too – but in a good way! 

Let’s get this party started!!!

Our first evacuation!

Being from the Northeast means we get the instruction – “shelter in place” and – stay indoors to be safe – so getting an evacuation order on Tuesday was pretty weird. Leaving our new home was hard – although we done it before – leaving not knowing what palm trees will be standing was nerve wracking. But we also heard that the Oaks Plantation campground on Johns Island was closing so we had to move the motor coach somewhere safe. 

So we packed up some food, clothes & the dogs and headed to the Taj. We planned to leave early Wednesday AM and after many try’s we found a camp site north of Charlotte NC  – a KOA in Statesville some 250 miles away. And because our new car is coming in mid October the C-RV can’t be towed anymore.  I would drive the car with dogs & Rick would drive coach. 

It was a long day – 700 am to 200 pm was exhausting – with lots of traffic and three dog stops  but we arrived and are happy we evacuated. The Motorcoach was safe & so were we. We would head back home on Monday & do the return trip over 2 days. 

Meantime it’s fall here in midland/western NC and a bit cooler than we are comfortable with. It takes getting used to 50 degree temps at night. 

 The Dogs were freaked out by the drive and very nervous resulting from the quick trip  but they should relax by tomorrow. There isn’t much to do here but watch weather news & movies – it’s not a big tourist spot although there is a Nascar Speedway 25 miles away.  We will however add this unusual experience to our adventure list.

 Matthew is a Cat 4 hurricane and making land fall Mid East Florida coast now. She’ll be close to Charleston in less than 24 hrs. – Saturday & Sunday. Our fingers are crossed that she weakens and we just had a nice four day visit to NC. But either way we are glad we evacuated – especially since our insurance would not like it if we stayed & had damage. 

So we will update everyone when we see the full impact of the storm  – pray  it is safe for all. 
 

Everglades Isle Motorcoach Resort

A small luxury resort in Everglades City with great RV sites – A Class only and 28 ft minimum. ¬†Lots of large, beautiful motor coaches here – Tiffins, Prevosts and a few Entegras! ¬†We had a site along the river – there are 61 total sites. On the river so you get the noise from the Airboats across the way who do tours of the mangroves in the Everglades. ¬†We took an hour tour and it was terrific – exciting, interesting and informative. ¬†We did also took a narrated tram tour in the Everglades National Park as well as a drive along the Loop Road in the Big Cypress National Preserve. ¬†We saw many alligators, herons, egrets, birds and beautiful plants as well as palm, cypress, and other trees. ¬†This area is beautiful beyond words. ¬†We will definitely return next year. ¬†The heavy amount of rain and runoff from the big “Lake O” has affected the amount of birds in the park – normally there are thousands feeding during the winter. ¬†However, the water is too deep – there are not as many as are expected in what is normally the dry season. ¬†We hope next year is more typical.

The River of Grass Рthe name given to The Everglades Рby earlier tribes and used by the woman who lead the effort to save them Рis unique, fascinating, teaming with life and light.  The weather during the day changes how you see what is essentially a river,  Р(120 miles lone by 60 miles wide) and illustrates its beauty differently minute by minute. Clouds reflected in the pools of water offer spectacular images complemented by soaring birds, languishing alligators and sweet wildflowers.  I will post many of the hundreds of photos we took during our two weeks here soon.  Visit this place, love and respect it Рit is the only place like it in the world!

 

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The Taj is in front of the green Honda – Site 8 – even a cloudy morning was lovely here.

 

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