Friday August 1, 2014


We got away early - it was Carol's idea.  I really wanted to get a few miles behind us Friday night but I know that Carol doesn't like traveling after dark . . . so I didn't say a word!  I was quite surprised when Carol said, "We can pull out later tonight if you like!"  She didn't have to ask me twice!


Rob came over for dinner and we sent out for pizza.  Once he went home we did the last little bit of packing and pulled away from home about 7:40 p.m.  There was a hitch as we left . . . there was a hitch with the hitch.  The tow bar that connects the car to the RV has two arms which extend and lock into position.  One side wasn't locking so the car wasn't secure.  It turned out that the fabric cover which protects the car from stone chips was tangled and was holding down the lever which  unlocks the arm.  Once I untangled the stone guard and flipped the lever all was well, but it wasted 10 minutes!


We pulled over in Watertown New York and filled up with gas just as the last sunlight faded, then made our way on in the dark.  At Cicero, near Syracuse,  Carol spent some quality time grocery shopping in WalMart while I stayed with the dogs.  Thunder was rumbling, lightning was flashing and there were some showers.  Blue does not like that sort of weather!


By 11:45 we were settled in the nearby Cracker Barrel parking lot for the night; the groceries were all packed away and we trundled off to bed!  Neither Carol not I ever sleep too well the first night on the road!  This night was no exception . . . we tossed and turned for a while.  I had just drifted off when I awoke to a strange sound.  "What's that?", I asked.  Carol raised her head, looked out the window and chuckled . . . the lawn sprinklers had just turned on and were giving the bottom half of the RV on the passenger's side a bath!  We fell asleep to the thrumming of water on the motor home's body side-panels and wheels.

Saturday August 2, 2014


It was daylight when I opened my eyes.  Carol must have been watching, she immediately asked what time it was!  I fumbled for my computer tablet (I can read the big numbers without my glasses) and told her it was 5:40 a.m.  "How long until Cracker Barrel opens?"  It was quite early for this sort of mathematical problem and there was a definite delay before my synapses finally kicked in . . . "Twenty minutes!"  I replied.


We were up in no time, walked and fed the dogs and passed through the front door at Cracker Barrel at exactly 6:00 a.m.  Carol's synapses were apparently working just fine, she immediately spotted some Halloween decorations in the store that she just had to have!  After a nice breakfast we rejoined the dogs and pulled back onto I-81 southbound at 6:45.  It was grey and overcast and remained that way all day, with periodic showers.  Over the course of the day the showers helped clean the windshield . . . we drove through quite a swarm of bugs last night!

Within a few minutes we turned on to I-90, The New York Thruway, eastbound.  We have found that most states in the USA like to designate a highway as a "thruway" so they can charge exorbitant tolls to people who drive on these rough and bumpy roads.  Where do the tolls go?  They're certainly not spent on maintenance!

This part of the trip is usually very scenic, as the highway follows the Mohawk River and the Erie Canal.  Today most of that wonderful scenery was hidden by mist and drizzle.  Bah!   


At about 9:30 we stopped at a rest area and took the dogs for a walk, then carried on east heading toward Boston!

We crossed the state line into Massachusetts at 10:15 and the New York Thruway became the Massachusetts Thruway.  There was no improvement in road quality, simply a different state misspending the tolls!


We drove through downtown Springfield Massachusetts and saw the Basketball Hall of Fame pass by on our right. 


We agreed that this was a great little bit of trivia to tuck away!  Should it ever come up in a trivia quiz I'm sure we'll say, "Gosh, The Basketball Hall of Fame, I know I've seen it.  Where was that again?"

We crossed the Connecticut state line at 11:20 and about noon we pulled over at Marlborough Connecticut.  We parked in a commuter car-pool parking lot and  walked the dogs before having a sandwich.  We resumed our trek under grey and drizzly skies.  It was just a dull and dreary day!


The last few miles of our journey, on northbound I-95, gave us a bit of a preview of what waits for us.  We had a few glimpses of Mystic Seaport from a bridge on the Interstate as we passed.  Very nice!

We pulled into the KOA Kampground at 1:15 and quickly carried out our normal routine.  Carol walked the dogs and then got things squared away inside the RV while I took care of all the outside stuff!


By 3:00 p.m. we were all settled in, this will be our home for the next five nights!  Carol announced that she had a headache and was going for a nap.  I didn't need to fabricate any excuse, I was just plain tired, so we both laid down for a short siesta!


By 5:00 p.m. the dogs had been fed and walked and we hopped in the car to have dinner.  The folks who checked us in at the campground recommended the Dog Watch Café in nearby Stonington.  What a pretty little port town, just across Fisher's Island Sound from Mystic Harbor.  Our dinner was great too, we each started with a bowl of Clam Chowder then I had Lobster Mac & Cheese.  Carol had Shrimp Scampi.  It's a very nice place.

As we ate we watched water taxis, like the one pictured to the right, shuttle sailors back and forth to their boats anchored out in the harbor.

After dinner we took a short drive around the inlet to Mystic where we stopped for an ice cream at Twisters.  We both selected Sea Salted Carmel.  It was very good, not as good as the home-made stuff we had at Wells Beach Maine . . . but it was worth the drive!


We were back with the dogs by 7:45 and settled in for a quiet evening.

Sunday August 3, 2014


It was a good day!  The day featured shelties, shopping, salt marsh, beaches, osprey, egrets, coffee, donuts, ice cream and barbecue.  What could be better?


The campground was quiet and still when I awoke at 6:45.  I took the dogs out for a walk, but I didn't feed them when we came back inside the RV.  I tossed them in bed with Carol and relaxed with a cup of coffee.  Within about 20 minutes the dogs had infused her with enough guilt that she got up and fed them.

Our campsite is on a ridge at the very front of the campground; we overlook the children's play area and the swimming pool.  The rest of the campground stretches out behind us, so when we look out our front window there are no campers in sight, just trees, grass and children having fun.  The giant bouncy pillow is always full of kids!  Carol insists that I stay away.  She thinks that my second bounce would launch a few kiddies into the pool and my third bounce would send some clear across to the next county!

After a relaxed start to the day we started to load Zak and Blue into the car, they were joining us for the day!  As we left the RV a lady walked past with her four year old tri-color grey, white and black sheltie, Bo Jangles.  After a visit with the neighbouring dog I loaded the pups in the car while Carol locked up the motor home.  Before we could pull away Bo Jangles was back with her friend Willow, a five month old whippet.  Naturally this meant that the boys had to come out of the car for some sniffing with the whippet.


We finally pulled away at about 9:45.  Our plan was to make a quick dash south on I-95 to Bridgeport, about 80 miles, then slowly work our way up the coast taking in the sights.  Along the way we changed plans and pulled off in New Haven.  Here's a surprise . . . I was the first one shopping!  Carol waited in the car while I spent a few minutes in Home Depot, then we moved to the Dunkin' Donuts next door for coffee and cinnamon buns at about 11:00 a.m.


We spent the rest of the day following US Route 1 north, detouring east to the coast whenever the mood struck us!  There was a wide variety of scenery, retail areas filled with strip plazas, narrow sections of highway canopied with lush green leaves . . . we saw a little bit of everything.

Along the way Carol spotted Bishop's Orchards . . . she shopped while I dog-sat!  It was a busy spot, they grow their own blueberries and she came back with some fresh blueberries for my breakfast cereal along with half a blueberry pie!

We saw several very nice beaches and took the dogs for a walk on a few of them.  This beach was a great spot for a few pictures of Zak and Blue.

This family of Osprey were watching carefully while we played below their nest!

The entire area is filled with old colonial houses and there are ancient and historic buildings everywhere you look.

This house is described as the oldest home in Connecticut, built in 1639 as the home of Rev. Henry Whitfield.

Henry looks pretty proud doesn't he!

The attendant in the Visitor's Information Centre adjacent to the Henry Whitfield House suggested that we head to the new boardwalk across the salt marsh at nearby Chittenden Park.  It was worth the short drive!

At about 1:45 p.m. as we drove through Guilford on Route 1 Carol spotted "The Place" which invites diners to “Put Your Rump On A Stump”.  We pulled in and left the dogs in the car as we checked out a very unusual outdoor eatery!  It looked quite interesting so we asked if the dogs could join us if we sat at one of the outside tables.  "Bring them on in, and sit anywhere you like."  was the response.  We had no sooner plunked our rumps on a pair of stumps when our server arrived with a bowl of water for the dogs!  Now that's pet-friendly!

And the food was great.  It's all cooked outdoors over a huge open fire pit.

Carol and I both devoured a cob of roasted corn.  They soak the corn in water, husk and all, then roast it over an open fire.  When the cobs are ready, the same young man who cooks them peels back the blackened and charred husks and dunks those beautiful yellow kernels in melted butter, slaps the dripping cobs on a plate and brings them to your table!  Yum!  Carol is a corn aficionado and she pronounced it divine!


Our next course was steamed catfish for me.  The catfish was topped with lemon slices, wrapped in foil and steamed over those open flames.  Deelish!  Carol had a barbeque chicken breast and it was very tasty too, but she could have eaten another half-dozen ears of that corn!

After lunch we spent another hour following US Route 1 north with occasional side trips at the whim of the navigator.  After a stop for ice cream at about 4:00 we returned to the expressway to get the pups home in time for their 5:00 p.m. dinner.  We were a few minutes late, but they forgave us as soon as the chow appeared!  Poor Zak was exhausted, that was a long and busy day for an old dog!  He'll sleep well tonight!


Carol and I puttered around the RV for a while and then left about 7:00 to find a light dinner.  We cruised around a bit more along the way, passing through North Stonington and Old Mystic along the way.  Once again there were some magnificent old colonial structures.

We arrived at the Mystic Diner at 7:30 and pronounced mixed feelings about our dinner there.  I had a cup of clam chowder which was hoo-hum while Carol had a cup of chicken noodle soup she really enjoyed.  My cobb salad was terrific, Carol's Philly cheese-steak was edible.  The place caught our eye the previous night, it looked great but it failed to meet our expectations.


After a quick drive through the darkened and empty streets of Mystic Seaport we headed back home to the dogs!

Monday August 4, 2014


Monday is Mystic day!  It's just a few miles away and there's plenty of Mystic to see.  As you follow the course of the Mystic River toward the ocean you pass Old Mystic, Mystic Seaport and West Mystic before you arrive at the town of Mystic and it's wonderful harbour.


We were up at about 7:00 and savoured a pot of coffee while we relaxed with the dogs.  They'll be staying home today,  Zak needs some rest after all that exercise yesterday!


The first item on Carol's agenda was some retail therapy at Olde Mistick Village, a large shopping area comprised of about 60 shops in quaint colonial buildings beside the Mystic Aquarium.  I packed my book in the car and off we went!

We took a short drive through Old Mystic on the way and marvelled at some of the old colonial homes.  This Bed & Breakfast was quite striking!


The Olde Mistick Village was deserted when we pulled in just after 9:00 - apparently they don't open until 11:00.

Undaunted, we drove a few blocks south, parked and made our way to Mystic Seaport, a wonderful historical park showcasing marine history.


The park covers 17 acres and includes a typical 19th century coastal New England village.  There are several large ships and the waterfront buildings house businesses vital to seafarers.  There was a cooper making barrels, a shipsmith forging hardware for the ships, a cordage factory making rope, a sailmaker, etc. etc.

We spent a couple of wonderful hours wandering the streets, snapping pictures.



What an amazing place!  If you are ever in this area, Mystic Seaport should be on your to-do list!


As we pulled out I expected we would head back to Olde Mistick Village, but Carol surprised me when she said, "Let's go to Mystic Pizza."


A few days before we left on this trip I was chatting with a good friend of Carol's.  When I mentioned that we would be camped at Mystic KOA she asked, "Are you going to Mystic Pizza?"  I must have had a "deer-in-the-headlights" look . . . I had never heard of the movie!  She explained the whole thing to me, Julia Roberts, chick-flick, pizza joint.  Last night we spotted the place as we drove by so today we had lunch there.  Surprise - the pizza was good!

It was almost empty when we walked in at 11:15 but by the time we left at noon the place was hopping!


I dropped Carol off for her retail therapy and drove back to the campground to let the dogs out.  I took Blue to a nearby field, let him off his leash and tossed the ball for him until he was worn out.  He has plenty of energy and needs regular exercise!

I was back to Olde Mistick Village by 1:30 and sent Carol a text message to let her know I had returned.  I was shocked when she turned up before I could even get my e-book reader started.  She had covered almost all of the shops and had just sat down in a shady spot to wait for me.  It seems that she's a much more efficient shopper when I'm not around!


We took a slow drive east on US Route 1 and detoured a few times to see beaches and shorelines before crossing the state line into Rhode Island.  At Westerly, Rhode Island we turned onto Route 2 and headed back to the campground.


Carol picked up a few groceries along the way and we were back with the dogs just after 3:00 p.m.  It had warmed up to about 80° by mid-afternoon - the first warm day we've had this trip! We shouldn't complain but we were both hot and tired; a nap sounded like a splendid idea!

Carol fed the dogs at 5:00 and then started thinking about dinner.  Where to go?  There seem to be so many choices that it's hard to select one.  She selected a place in Olde Mistick Village called Ten Clams.  Nothing on the menu costs more than ten clams!  It sounded like a cool place . . . but it wasn't.  I think the A/C was broken, it was hot outside and hotter inside!  But the food was good!  We both had a cup of tasty clam chowder then Carol had fish & chips, I had fried clam strips.  Everything was very nicely done.  It wasn't as good as the Dog Watch Café but it was much better than the Mystic Diner!


We came directly back home, let the dogs out for a quick latrine break, then changed into our swimsuits and headed to the pool.  We were looking forward to a refreshing dip after a hot day.  Refreshing it was . . . 71° of refreshing!  In our working days we had a backyard pool but Carol would not go in if it was under 82° so she sat on the edge and cooled her feet and ankles.  I jumped in and soaked for about 10 minutes before hypothermia began to set in.


We sat outside with the dogs enjoying the last rays of the sun and then when it set behind the trees we moved inside for the night!

Tuesday August 5, 2014


This was Rhode Island day; we set out bright and early for Providence, Rhode Island.  Since our campground is a mere 41 miles from Providence I decided to devise a route which was 73 miles long, avoided all major highways and took us past beaches, rivers, huge bridges and amazing scenery.  That part all worked out very well!  What I didn't realize was that my route would also bypass all acceptable eating establishments.  Here's what happened . . .


I woke at about 6:00 and peeked out the bedroom window; the fog was so thick I could barely see the trees 50 yards away.  I rolled over and when I opened my eyes again the haze lessened a great deal, but it didn't go away until noon when the heat of the sun finally burned it away.


I got up at 6:45, took the dogs out then tossed them on the bed with Carol.  It worked like a charm, she was up in no time to feed them!

We were all set to go by 9:00, including the dogs who joined us for the day!  Our first stop was at Westerly, just 6 miles from our campground.  Our friend Susan from Hartford had mentioned that her son Billy's girlfriend Angela had just opened a bakery and café at Westerly.  It was time for a coffee so we stopped at Trixie's Bakery and Café and said hello to Angela.

There was a small plate of broken oatmeal raisin cookies to sample.  One taste and we were hooked . . . after a chat with Angela we left with coffee and cookies!  Yum!  If you are in the area, stop at Trixie's, it's a great spot and Angela sure can bake!

We spent the entire morning following roads and highways that followed the coastline.  Whenever the mood struck either one of us we headed toward the water.  At Charlestown Beachway Beach we saw some amazing beach houses all along the shore.

At the very end of the beachway was a state park full of trailers and motor homes.  There were no trees, no grass, just sand and wind and campers.  Carol said, "No way!  That's not for me!  Maybe a few decades ago, but not now."

We took the Jamestown Bridge across Narragansett Bay to Conanicut Island and drove around beautiful Jamestown.

We stopped at a lovely harbour area where Carol found a condominium she might be able to live in.  Then Carol and the dogs posed for a picture on the seawall in front of the condo.  That's the Claiborne Pell Bridge in the background.  It crosses Narragansett Bay into Newport.

We circled Conanicut Island and stopped briefly at a small beach on the opposite side before we climbed the Claiborne Pell Bridge and headed to Newport. 

As we crossed the bridge Carol said, "What's that on the island out there?  It looks like Alcatraz."  Just seconds later she added, "Oh, it's the Hyatt Hotel."  I laughed for twenty minutes!


Newport is strikingly beautiful.  The harbour is magnificent and filled with some of the largest yachts I have ever seen.  We drove out to Goat Island, past the Hyatt Hotel.  It looked better from this perspective.

The entire harbour area is filled with interesting restaurants and shops . . . the sort of place Carol is drawn to.

I suspect that we'll be back to Newport very soon!

It was close to noon when we left Newport to cover the last 30 miles to Providence.  Carol said, "Let's look for a chip truck or a food truck along the way so the dogs can stretch a bit while we eat."  So we both kept our eyes open for a food truck, hot dog stand or a similar spot where we could eat outdoors.  In the first 5 miles we passed three fast food joints, a Panera and several Dunkin' Donuts.  Then there was nothing!  No diners, no fast food, nothing!  Lots of beaches, plenty of sand and no hot dog stands.  How un-American!


Finally I spotted a Dunkin' Donut, "Look" I said, "A Dunkin' Donut."

"I don't want Dunkin' Donut." she replied.  America may run on Dunkin' but Carol does not!  We were quite hungry by this time so we ate the last of Trixie's delicious cookies!


We passed through town after town - there were plenty of restaurants but nowhere that the dogs could sit outside with us. 


Finally, after Trixie's cookies had worn off, we stopped in desperation at a deli in a small town.  The lights were turned off, it was so dim that it was difficult to read the menu on the wall and the place smelled like last year's cabbage.  We decided to carry on with our food quest!


"Look, there's another Dunkin'!"


Before we got to Providence we had decided that we were never going to find a spot in Rhode Island.  We were going to have to make a mad dash back to Mystic and try the little snack bar beside Mystic Seaport.  We stopped very briefly in East Providence, gave the dogs a stretch and then headed to I-95 for our quick run to Mystic.


By 2:15 we were there, enjoying clam chowder and hot dogs!  Yum!

Where we live, food trucks are all the rage!  There are chip trucks which sell the standard fare of burgers, hot dogs, fries and fish & chips, but there are also gourmet food trucks, vegan food trucks, BBQ food trucks.  Based on our sampling today, there are no food trucks in Rhode Island.  This is probably a wonderful business opportunity for someone.  Buy a couple of trucks, find some good locations and soon you will be the head of a giant food truck conglomerate!


We were home with the dogs by 3:00.  It was 89° and very humid - far too hot to plunge into a 71° swimming pool.  We all relaxed in the RV then had a nap.


Carol fed the dogs at 5:00 and we took them for a walk.  About 6:30 we headed back to Mystic for dinner, this time at Go Fish.  It was recommended by the folks in the store at the campground.  We walked into the restaurant, it looked very nice but when we checked the menu posted on the wall nothing appealed to us.

Maybe it was the late lunch, maybe we've had too much chowder, but seafood just wasn't working for us this time!  We drove back to Jake's Wayback Burger. 


We've commented on their sign several times as we passed.  We had never heard of Jakes, but it's a small national chain that's been dishing out huge doses of cholesterol for 23 years.  I had a burger and fries with a strawberry banana shake, Carol had a burger and onion rings with a chocolate shake.  It was good; the burgers were fresh made and the shakes were made the old fashioned way, with hand scooped ice cream, they weren't some concoction of goop spewed out by a high-tech machine.  The burgers weren't as good as Five Guys, but the shakes were very good!

The sun was setting as we left.  Carol said, "Let's go to the water and see the sunset."  I pointed the car toward Mystic while the chief navigator consulted the map.  She decided that Noank would give us a good view.  As we approached the drawbridge in the heart of Mystic traffic came to a halt and the bridge lifted to let a "tall ship" pass through.  We missed the sunset, but we still had a nice tour of picturesque Noank.


Then it was time to head home to the pups.  We were back at 8:30.

Wednesday August 6, 2014


Today we went back to Newport!  We left the dogs behind and hit the road at 9:00 a.m.

As the crow flies it's 28 miles to Newport.  Unfortunately, the roads don't fly the same way the crow does.  By road it is over 40 miles, most of it on twisting, winding roads.  The drive took a full hour.

We parked at the Tourist Information office at 10:10 and picked up tickets for the 11:00 trolley tour.

Since we had some time to kill before the tour, we walked to a nearby Panera and each had a pastry and a bottle of cold water.

By the time we returned at 9:45 there was a long line waiting for the trolley.  We were the last to board and there were no seats for two left.  Carol sat in a small seat right up front beside our driver/guide Ann.  I sat back two rows, wedged into a narrow seat I shared with a lady from Florida. 


The 90 minute tour took us all over the island; we saw places we would never have found on our own.  It was terrific.  We saw the oldest tavern in America, the church where John F. Kennedy married Jacqueline Bouvier, Hammersmith Farm - the summer home owned by Jacqueline's step-father Hugh Auchincloss.

The first synagogue in America

We saw the first Jewish synagogue built in America and so much more.  Summer homes of America's super-rich, the Astors, the Vanderbilts, the Widners and so many others - they were fabulous!

We passed Fort Adams, Castle Hill and some amazing vistas of rock and surf before we made our way down Bellevue Avenue and all the opulent mansions!

Hammersmith Farm

Our guide Ann did a terrific job, but as we travelled along Bellevue I thought Robin Leach should be narrating!  Lifestyles of the rich and famous indeed!

When the tour concluded we drove to Bowen's Wharf, an area where several old commercial docks have been converted to a tourist area.

Three docks and a number of former warehouses are linked with walkways and contain some nice shops and wonderful restaurants.

Carol checked out a few of the shops and bought an Alex and Ani bracelet to add to the ones she already owns.  She bought one exclusively available in Newport, to commemorate our visit here!

Our driver Ann had suggested the chowder at The Black Pearl, so we decided to give it a try.  There was a long line for the restaurant so we bought some from the "annex", a take-out window.  There were some cozy Adirondack chairs nearby where we sat and enjoyed our chowder.  Ann was right, it was the best we've had so far!  We ended our lunch with some ice cream from Ben & Jerrys.

All too soon it was time to head home, we left at 2:00 p.m. and were back home with the dogs by 3:00.  Six hours is longer than we normally leave Zak and Blue, they were both sitting cross-legged at the door when we opened it!


After a relaxing nap I decided to scrub down the front of the RV.  We passed through a thick swarm of bugs on our first day of travel and it was time to clean off the carnage.  The chore didn't take more than twenty minutes but the heat and humidity were still intense; I was wringing wet when I was through.  Carol took one look at me and said, "Go for a swim!"  So I did!  It felt great!


Carol fed the dogs and we puttered until 6:00 when we left for dinner.  Tonight we headed into Stonington and poked around looking at restaurants and reading menus.  We wound up at a place called Swooners.

It sits on a wharf overlooking the harbour entrance.  We sat out on the dock and had a beautiful view as we enjoyed our delicious dinner.

This sea gull sat on a post directly behind Carol for a while, then flew up to the peak of the roof where he kept an eye on her all evening!

Carol had fish and chips, I had chowder followed by linguini with clams.  Yum!

As we sat contemplating whether or not we had room for dessert I noticed a nice sunset developing behind Carol.


She ordered a warm chocolate tart and I had raspberry-filled donuts with citrus crème brulé.  It was all awesome!  Carol said her chocolate tart tasted just like the soufflé at Palo, the upscale dining room on the Disney Cruise Line ships.  That's quite a compliment!

We sat for a few more minutes after dessert, just savouring our coffee while we watched the sunset.  Aaahh!


We were back home with the dogs at 8:15.  I hooked the car up to the back of the RV, ready to pull out in the morning.  Tomorrow we're off to Salisbury Beach, Massachusetts.

Thursday August 7, 2014


This was a travel day, but we only had 142 miles to cover, so we didn't rush to get away.  We took our time with a pot of coffee, I had toast for breakfast, then I started unhooking and putting things away while Carol battened everything down inside.  Once we were all unhooked and road-worthy I took a quick shower and we got underway!

The sun was shining and it was warming up quickly when we pulled onto northbound I-95 at 8:30.

The Rhode Island state line came up very quickly, it's only a few miles from where we had been camped!  By 8:38 the state line snuck up on the photographer/navigator/driving instructor.  She quickly grabbed the camera and captured this out-of-focus shot.


We pulled off to gas up at a truck stop in southern Rhode Island - oops - they only sold diesel fuel and we need gasoline!  No problem . . . there's a Shell station next door - oops - it's too small, there isn't enough room in there to turn the RV with the car hooked on the back.  So we headed back to the interstate and carried on north.

Traffic was light and we zipped along under sunny skies!  Soon we passed through Providence and at 9:28 we crossed into Massachusetts. 


We had two stops to make, first in Foxboro, an excursion for me to Bass Pro.  They carry light-weight nylon cargo shorts that I like so I stocked up with three pairs and a couple of shirts. 


Before long we pulled off at Braintree, drove through a gas station that was too small (I couldn't manoeuvre close enough to the pumps and still get out) and then pulled into another station just down the road.  This time it worked out OK; we were all topped up!


Then we carried on to Saugus, this time it was a shopping stop for Carol; she was heading to the Disney Store in the Square One Mall.  We pulled into the mall parking lot at 12:00 and Carol made us each a sandwich while I walked the dogs.  After lunch she dashed off to shop while I stayed with the dogs.  She surprised me by returning in under an hour, we were back on the road by 1:25 and pulled into Beach Rose campground at 2:00.

We unhooked the car at the park entrance and Carol drove it in while the owner, Ray, helped me back into our camp site.  By 3:00 we were all hooked up and settled in.  We sat outside in lawn chairs and tossed the ball for Blue as we enjoyed a cool breeze.  You could feel the temperature dropping as we watched some dark and ominous clouds roll in.

Soon the thunder started to rumble so I closed up the car windows and we moved inside.  Just in time!  Just before 4:00 the skies opened up and it poured.  It came down in buckets, the sound of the rain was drumming on the roof of the RV, then there was a pinging sound added to the drumming.  There was pea sized hail falling as well.  The downpour lasted about a half hour but the thunder rumbled on long after.  Then the rain came again . . . it rained hard for another fifteen minutes.


Blue doesn't like thunder!  He doesn't like rain!  We bought him a "Thunder Shirt" which helps . . . he no longer runs and hides during a storm, he's much calmer with his shirt on, but there's no way he would eat his dinner tonight!

Zak had his dinner in the midst of all the thunder - there is one advantage to being deaf!  We put Blue's bowl up on the counter and went out in search of our dinner.  I expected that we'd head to Newburyport and eat at Stripers, a seafood restaurant we've enjoyed a few times before.  Carol surprised me though, she said, "Let's go out to the beach and eat there."  The beach is a cornucopia of junk food and that's exactly what we had for dinner.

The thunder continued to rumble and there were intermittent showers, but we squeezed in an al fresco three-course meal between deluges.


First course:  At Sal's I ordered a chicken club wrap.  Carol ordered a cheese steak but when she saw the size of the bun she balked.  Sal said, "How 'bout I put dat steak in a wrap?"  It sounded good, so that's what she had.  Both wraps were good.

Second course:  We went across the road to Ozzie's and had fried dough.  Fried dough is sort of like a beaver tail on steroids.  It's a piece of dough, about the size of a medium pizza, which they deep fry, then cover with butter, powdered sugar and cinnamon.  Yum!  The lady who does my laundry was disturbed when she saw my shirt . . . but it was ooooh so good!


Third course: I was full, I skipped the third course, but Carol had a small soft-serve ice cream cone!

As we were scarfing down the fried dough Carol noticed a vivid double rainbow out over the Atlantic.  It was amazing.  The pictures don't really do it justice, but here are a few anyhow!

We drove north into New Hampshire as far as Hampton Beach.  Along the way Carol said, "Pull over!  Look at how bright that rainbow is now!"

She bailed out of the car, ran out onto the beach and started snapping pictures.  I parked the car (illegally) and followed her.  Only the bottoms of the two rainbows were visible, but they were stunningly bright.  Wow!


By the time we returned home shortly after 8:00 the weather had settled and Blue was ready for his dinner.  We settled in for a quiet night.  


Tomorrow we head to Danvers to meet up with some of Carol's fellow witches.

Friday August 8, 2014


Hooray!  Hooray!  It's Cemetery Day!


We are here, just a bit north of Salem Massachusetts, for a witchcraft family reunion.  You see, my hobby is genealogy and my dear wife Carol counts among her ancestors William and Johanna Towne who emigrated from England and settled in Salem Massachusetts.  During the famous Salem Witch Hysteria of 1692 three of William and Johanna's daughters, Rebecca, Mary and Sarah, were charged as witches.  Rebecca and Mary were found guilty and were hung; fortunately the hysteria came to an end in time for Sarah to avoid execution.  This is the second time we have attended the annual reunion organized by the Towne Family Association.


The Towne Family Association currently has 507 members but only 10 of those members are from Canada.  There are 81 of those members at this year's reunion, but we are the only Canadians registered this year, so that makes it official . . . Carol is The Wicked Witch of the North!


We spent a relaxed morning with the dogs.  I took Blue off to the off-leash dog park, a nice fenced off area in the forest behind the campground.  It was alive with bugs . . . we only lasted a few minutes, but it was long enough for Blue to have a good run.

We left at 10:30 and pointed the car south for the 30 minute drive to the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel at Danvers where the reunion is being held.  Arthur Towne and his wife Jean were there to register us for the event and give us a big folder full of goodies!  We spent about 45 minutes looking through the information packet and chatting with distant relatives.  Then it was time to board the buses for the 12:00 p.m. Cemetery Tour.

The tour was scheduled to last until 5:00 p.m. and that was just too long for us to leave the dogs unattended, so we had pre-arranged to follow the bus in our car so we could leave early to get back home.

We visited four cemeteries around the historic old villages of Topsfield and Boxford.  These old burying grounds were full of headstones from many branches of Carol's Towne ancestry.  The names Towne, Cummings and Gould were prominent in this area of Massachusetts and all of those names appear again and again in her lineage.

Carol doesn't normally enjoy tramping through old cemeteries, I think she agreed to this tour simply to humour me, but once we were underway she seemed to enjoy it.  Of course, she was surrounded by some pretty avid genealogists so maybe she was just being tactful and feigning enjoyment!

It turned out that the tour concluded at about 3:00 p.m. - we could have ridden the bus after all.  Hindsight is always perfect, isn't it?

We were back home with the dogs before 4:00, spent an hour and a half with them, then dressed for dinner and headed back to the hotel.  There was a nice pre-dinner reception from 6:00 to 7:00; we spent a pleasant hour chatting with cousins from all across the United States.


At 7:00 p.m. we moved into the adjacent dining room and had a very tasty dinner.  The food at this sort of banquet is normally pretty ho-hum but the Hilton did a great job.  Carol and I both selected chicken.  It was moist and tasty.  The potatoes and green beans were done just right.  Carol topped it all off with a slice of chocolate cake she said was delicious.  I suffer from a chocolate aversion so I had a nice fruit cup!

During dinner we chatted with our table mates, a couple originally from Utah but now living on Oregon, and a mother and two daughters from Washington State.

After dinner there were some very interesting speakers.  Marilynne Roach, a local author, described her latest book "Six Women Of Salem" and read from it.  It sounded fascinating, so I bought a copy.

The next speaker was the owner of a property built by Jacob Towne in 1730.  It remained in the Towne family until 1932 when it was sold.  The property fell into disrepair and was in dreadful condition when she purchased it several years ago.  She gave a very interesting talk, accompanied by a computer slide-show, describing the restoration work she has completed to date.  She obviously took great pride in what she has accomplished thus far, and sighed when she contemplated the life-long work that is still ahead of her.


We watched a video clip about another restoration project involving an even older property.  You can find that video here:


At the end of the evening various family groups assembled for group pictures.  The picture on the left shows Carol in a group of attendees who are all descended from Jacob Towne.


The festivities concluded at 10:30 and we hurried home to some lonely dogs.  We were early to bed, we have to be up at dawn to head back for a 7:00 a.m. breakfast.

Saturday August 9, 2014


We needed to be up with the crows so Carol set the alarm.  Ouch - when the alarm went off the crows were still sleeping.  We leaped out of bed, Carol fed and walked the dogs while I had a shower and we were on the road by 6:30 a.m.


When we walked into the banquet room at 7:00 there was no one in sight.  We thought we were all alone until we saw three people at the buffet table getting their breakfast.  We grabbed an all-important coffee and then joined them at a table for eight.  As we ate and chatted I looked around the table at name tags.  Our table mates were from Texas, Michigan, Colorado, Oklahoma and West Virginia.  Quite a diverse group; we had plenty to chat about over breakfast!


We sat and socialized for about an hour and a quarter and left just before the organization's Annual General Meeting began.  I ran Carol back to the campground and she spent the day with Zak and Blue.

After about an hour at the campground I made my way back to the hotel and waited a few minutes for the noon bus tour to load up.  This time I rode on the bus as we drove past a score of old Towne family homes in the area, most of them built in the 1700's.

Most of the properties we saw through the bus windows as we slowly cruised past, but we did make five stops to walk the grounds of some significant places in the history of the Towne family.

The first stop was was the Witch Memorial in Danvers (originally known as Salem Village), across from the site of the original Meeting House.

The memorial lists the names of all the victims of the witchcraft hysteria and contains quotes from a few of the accused.

Our next stop the Rebecca Nurse Homestead.  This was the home of Rebecca (Towne) Nurse, one of the three sisters I mentioned earlier.  They were Carol's 9th great-aunts..  Rebecca was a weak and frail old woman when she was arrested in this very same house in 1692.  She was convicted of witchcraft and hanged for her crimes in July of that year.

Adjacent to the Nurse house, on the same property, is a replica of the Meeting House where the infamous witch trials were held.  The meeting house was built by PBS and was used in the filming of their movie "Three Sovereigns for Sarah".

It was built to exacting standards based on the original specification and using construction techniques of the historical era.  What an amazing place!

We carried on to the Putman family home, built in 1648.  The Putmans were accusers in the witch hysteria; Ann Putman and her daughter Elizabeth are prominent characters in all movies and books describing the dark times in Salem's past.  The home is also famous as the birthplace of General Israel Putnam who was second-in-command to General George Washington in the Revolutionary War.  It was General Putnam who gave that famous order, "Do not fire until you see the whites of their eyes."

The Putnam house was closed on our arrival, but the candy shop on the property was open.  In General Putnam's day the candy shop contained the family's shoe making shop.

We carried on to nearby Witch Hill and the home which was owned in 1692 by Mary (Towne) Esty's son.  Mary (also a 9th great-aunt) was arrested and charged with witchcraft but was released before trial.  Rather than return home she hid at her son's home, tucked away in a hidden area in the basement.  Alas, someone must have snitched because the constables soon arrived, in the middle of the night, and hauled Mary off in chains.  Like her sister Rebecca, Mary was convicted and hung in 1692.


What was a two story colonial home in Mary's time has since been transformed into a three story Victorian classic and is currently being restored to it's early 19th century glory when it was owned by Benjamin Williams Crowninshield who served as US Secretary of the Navy during the War of 1812.

The new owner, who is proudly restoring the property pointed out many of the features of that original Esty home which remain to this day.

Our final stop of the day was at the Town Common in Topsfield.  A memorial stone there bears the name of Mary Esty and two other women, all residents of Topsfield, who were hung as witches.

The tour concluded at 4:30 and I was back home with Carol and the dogs by 5:00.  Carol had a huge grin as she explained her delightfully lazy day!  She lazed outside with the dogs until noon when she and Blue walked a short way down the road to a local hotdog and ice cream stand.  Carol said her hotdog was delicious; when it was done she and Blue each had an ice cream sundae.  Carol enjoyed hers.  Blue, well, not so much!  He licked a little ice cream off the milk-bone cookie that came with it, then turned up his nose.


She spent an hour basking in the sun at the pool, dipping in now and then to cool down, then stretched out with the puppies for a nap.


By the time I got home she was relaxed and refreshed.


We had a quick bite of dinner at Connie;s Stagecoach, a diner a mile or two down the road and were back home by 7:30.

Soon the second "Super Moon" of the year was shining through the windshield of the motor home and Carol said, "Let's take the dogs to the beach and get some pictures of that moon." 


So we did.  It was glorious, big, bright and reflecting off the ocean!  What a great way to end the day!

Sunday August 10, 2014


This was our last day in Massachusetts; tomorrow we head for home.  We made it a relaxing day.  We slept until 8:00 and took it easy for a few hours.

At 10:00 a.m. we loaded the dogs into the car and headed to Newburyport, just south of us across the Merrimac River.  Along the way we passed a thrift shop.  Carol cannot pass one of these stores!  I stayed in the car with the dogs while she searched for Disney treasures.  No luck today!


Our first stop in Newburyport was a giant old warehouse along the waterfront.  These days it houses an antique market and it was dog-friendly.  As we strolled through the displays one of the clerks even offered some cookies for Zak and Blue.  That was nice!

We drove on and parked in the heart of the "touristy" area.  After wandering with the dogs for a few minutes Carol said, "I'm not really into these shops today."  I hadn't expected to hear that, but I didn't waste any time hustling her back to the car.  We headed to K-Mart and I waited with the dogs while she picked up a few shirts for each of us.

We left Newburyport behind and drove a short distance to a couple of towns which keep popping up in Carol's family tree.  We drove around Haverhill and Amesbury before returning to Salisbury.  We stopped for lunch (hotdog, onion rings and ice cream) at Foote's, a hot dog stand next door to our campground.  Carol forgot to take a picture as we left at 1:45 so she took this one as we passed by much later in the day night!

We gave the dogs a stretch then Carol and I spent about an hour at the pool enjoying a soothing soak.  We were back home just after 3:00 and Blue insisted that I have a nap with him.  It wasn't long before Carol and Zak joined us.


By 5:30 the dogs had been fed and walked and we wandered off in search of dinner.  A neighbouring camper had dropped over earlier and recommended a place called "The Beach Plum".  She told us it was just past Hampton Beach, on the way to Rye Beach.

"How long does it take to get there?" Carol asked.  "If traffic is light, you can be there in ten to twelve minutes," she replied, "If traffic is heavy it will take a bit longer."

She was right, in typical Sunday night traffic it takes an hour and a half.  We were starved when we arrived at 7:00.  There was a huge line . . . there were actually two lines leading to three order windows.  As we waited in line we checked the menu.  The offer about 40 flavours of ice cream and we wanted ice cream after our meal . . . but we didn't want it to melt while we ate dinner and we didn't want to wait in that long line twice.  A lady behind us offered some advice.  She said, "Just eat your ice cream first."  What a concept!


So we had ice cream as an appetizer, clam chowder as our entree and a lobster roll for dessert!

As we made our was home, driving south on Route 1A and hugging the Atlantic shore we noticed plenty of people lining the sea wall at dusk.  Many of them had huge telephoto lenses.  They were waiting for the super moon.  We pulled over, joined them and had to wait a while until the moon climbed above an offshore cloud bank.  Eventually it appeared and reflected beautifully off the water.  Carol captured these photos.

We were back home by 9:00 and packed away our lawn chairs, retracted the awning and did a few other small chores, getting ready to pull out tomorrow morning.


We have a long day on the road tomorrow so it was an early night tonight.

Monday August 11, 2014


This is the part of every trip that Carol hates!  The long trip home . . . it’s not that she doesn’t want to go home, but it’s just so anticlimactic!  We’ve seen all this scenery before; it’s just a long drive with no exotic destination at the end.


For me it’s different.  I like the drive; I enjoy looking around and soaking up the scenery – even if I’ve seen it before.  Sometimes I zone out; I’m a fighter pilot, I’m a long-haul trucker, I’m the Bandit taking a truck-load of Coors beer to Texas.  I’m Walter Mitty.  I enjoy every day on the road!


Today was a long one though!  We like to cover about 350 miles a day, then settle in at a campground for the night.  Today we covered 498 miles – but we’re home.

We were up bright and early, at 5:45 a.m.  We sipped a coffee or two then Carol fed the dogs and walked them while I had a bite of breakfast and a shower.  She ran in the slides, retracted the stabilizer jacks and battened down all the interior stuff while I disconnected the utilities and hooked up the tow-car.


We pulled out of the campground at 7:20 and soon we were headed southwest on I-495.  There were slow stretches during the first 50 miles, in the Boston area, but things picked up when we turned onto I-90 and we had light traffic all day.

We spent a lot of time on I-90, over $45.00 worth of time.  It's a toll road!

We stopped at a rest area and gave the dogs a walk 9:15 and before long crossed the state line into New York at 10:35.  The miles continued to roll by.

We filled up with gas near Albany, then at 11:45 pulled into a pretty little rest area beside the Erie Canal where we had a sandwich for lunch.  This vacationer sailed past while we ate!

At about 2:30 we turned north on I-81 and approached the Canadian border at 4:00.  There are two bridges at the 1000 Islands crossing, one in the USA and one in Canada.  They are very steep and narrow, but the view from the top is breathtaking!

Carol snapped these pictures of a tour boat from the top of the Canadian bridge!


We were back in good old Ontario at 4:05 and pulled up in front of our home at 4:30.


By 6:00 p.m. we were all unpacked, the car was unhooked and the RV parked in the driveway.


Our next motor home trip will be in October, we’re heading to Fort Wilderness for Halloween! 


Oh boy!

Thousand Island Lookout Tower