Lakawanna State Park, Pennsylvania 

We got a late-ish start, but departed Shenandoah River State Park on Sept. 27 with JB & Martha (the other two RV-ers had left by 10A). Almost immediately, as we trundled through Front Royal, we lost JB & Martha in their Class C dragging a dolly with a Prius. 

Saw an adult bald eagle perched in a snag near the interstate as we headed through MD on Rt. 81 N, just before entering PA. Of course, I didn’t have my camera handy enough to snap a pic. There was tons and tons of construction zones along the route of our very long day.

We stopped off Interstate 81 near Harrisburg, PA at a Panera’s for lunch (around 1P) and as we finished, we got a phone call from Gloria, who reported JB & Martha were looking for our cell numbers because they’d experienced some strange dashboard warning lights since the day before. 

The backstory on that: en route to Shenandoah River SP, they had been squeezed between two semis and a couple of vehicles when someone hit their breaks or did something unexpected, and JB had to really hit his own breaks which locked up and skidded, but everything that was supposed to work did, even the breaking system on the Prius dolly, so they were able to avoid disaster. After that incident, they pulled over to the side of the road to get their nerves back on level and take visual inventory of their situation. When they got back into the RV, the yellow lights were illuminated on the dash.It took them a while to find the Operator’s Manual for the Class C to see if there was a problem if they continued, their thought being that, since all appeared well and their breaks were still working as expected that the yellow lights would cease at some point.

The Owner’s Manual, however, urged them to seek a dealer to double-check and re-set the lights indicating the ABS and Anti-Skid and a couple of other safety measures were okay. So they had pulled over in a rest stop and made some phone calls, but no one had gotten back to them by the time they called us and we stopped by the rest area to check up on them.

After some discussion, they still felt that their ability to stop the vehicle was not compromised, and that if they took it easy, they could carry on. So instead of waiting for a call back (which incidentally never came) while sitting, they thought to carry on to Lakawanna State Park (PA) with us, and wait for the call while gently moving down the road.

All went well, and we all made it to Lakawanna in good shape, if a considerable time later than we’d expected. Ken and Diane had been shuttled off to a dog-friendly part of the camping area, while we were next door to Kerry & Gloria (ours was site 28, a lovely woodsy spot with a path through the woods to the main road in front of the lake); and JB and Martha had the third site down, in which they were unable to get level. They moved the next morning, slightly farther along.

Site 28

Any of you who remember our Cooperstown (or several other trips) of last year, know that we dearly love Lakawanna State Park. It is really a great location, if the sites are a bit of a leveling challenge. Getting there, you roll through lovely agricultural country with barns + silos, stone houses, well-kept fences, and just an amazing, rolling countryside.

Anyway, with Ken & Diane (and Barley Boy) up the hill and around the bend, it was difficult to get together for campfires and meals, so during the stay we mostly hung with JB & Martha while Kerry and Glo hung with brother Ken and Diane.

That night, Martha was kind enough to share with everyone some leftover ribs JB had smoked for their house guests before joining us. Gloria added some baked beans to the repast and it was very nice (for us) not to have to cook after a very long day. Everyone except Ken & Diane ate at our picnic table, but we all turned in early.

The following day (Wednesday, Sept. 28) dawned clear and chilly. It was in the middle 40s when we awoke, but the temps rose to the mid-60s by noon. The wind was blowing falling leaves everywhere and it was truly a taste of autumn. 

Jack and I unloaded the bikes and took a lovely tootle around the whole park, using our “take every right turn” method of seeing all the loops and public areas. JB suggested we call this the “bike tour boogie,” based on what he and Martha used to do with their dinghy when they piloted a boat. But for them it was the boat tour boogie. Maybe we should call it the Site Tour Boogie, because we do it mostly to check out the campground and see where the best sites are, and what amenities we can find.

We went into several areas that were closed to camping, up high above the lake, and then carried on down along the lakeside public areas. There are access areas for picnickers, boaters/fisher people, family gatherings, hiking trails, and the water park they were still constructing last year when we were here.

There were many of these dry-laid stone walls scattered around the area.

As we rode, the sky began clouding up, the wind was colder/wetter, and the predicted rain showers appeared to be moving in. We decided to get back to camp, and begin the breakdown process early, so if/when it rained, the awning and stuff would not get wet. I fixed us some sandwiches for lunch while Jack began breaking down camp. Our plan was to leave space in the car for the grill, because we thought we’d be grilling brat-type sausages with onions and peppers on the griddle for dinner.

We went into Clark’s Crossing or South Abingdon Township (not sure if Clark’s Crossing is a part of the Township or what, but our navigation system called it South Abingdon Township) to a Weis grocery store to re-supply and get some firewood. It did begin raining but only for a little while as we went and returned. While in Weis, I found some pre-made, refrigerated pizza dough, so we changed plans and decided to try a pizza in the Omnia Oven. 

The moment we began merely thinking of making a fire, the rain came again. So we retreated for some Camembert on nice crackers while we waited to see what the weather would do. When it stopped again, JB came over and he and Jack started a fire, while I looked for a fire-poking stick. Once it was going pretty well, and we were having some adult beverages, it started raining again. We decided to remove to our respective abodes for our dinners and re-assess once we’d been fed.

The pizza turned out okay, but next time I would pre-bake the crust just a little before putting on the toppings. We tasted a hunk each and found it to be slightly undercooked, so we put it back on the fire for a bit, and our second lumps were quite good indeed. I only used half of the dough, so we’re going to try again within the next day or so.

Ended the evening with JB and Martha ’round the fire (Ken and Diane had already built a fire up at their site by the time we had built ours, so Kerry joined his brother up the hill). We had a final toddy around 9:30 while the last of the wood burned, and then all turned in expecting an early departure in the AM.

Back in the USA

Thursday, Sept. 10 & Friday Sept. 11
There’s actually not much to say about our long drive south. We went through customs without a hitch, and it rained the whole day.

image

image

image

image

We took a one-nighter at a great campground called (oddly) Rip Van Winkle near Saugerties, NY, in the Catskills. It’s an enormous campground with lots of seasonal RVs permanently installed. There are tons and tons of things to do there, especially for kids.

image

We arrived in the rain and set up (but didn’t un-hitch) in the rain. The best thing about Rip Van Winkle? There’s a pizza place nearby and THEY DELIVER to the campground! After the long drive, we opted for delivery to our campsite instead of re-heated pasta (again). It was very cool and the pizza was sublime.

We were parked under a tree, and the leaves were catching the rain that came in waves, and then depositing (what sounded like) enormous drops onto Roomba’s roof at varying intervals. It was so loud and inconsistent, that we both had to put in ear plugs just to sleep. We couldn’t even use the roof vent for “white noise” because of the rain.

image

In the morning, the rain had stopped, but everything was coated with forest duff splashed up from the ground by the rain. So we rinsed everything that had been on the ground so we wouldn’t unduly filth-up our trunk. Drove out at about 8:30 with the aim to get breakfast on the road.

The tourist season is definitely not over up here — the leaves of the maple trees are just beginning to turn and every community is preparing for leaf peeper season, and pumpkins and Hallowe’en.

image

Two very lovely communities we drove through and want to recommend for future visits are Stone Ridge NY, off the Rt. 209; and Waverly, PA, near Lakawanna State Park (our next stop).

Lakawanna is a great campground, as you’ve heard before from me. It’s quiet and there are lots of trees between sites, and if you’re a kayaker, canoeist, or fisher person, it’s a great place for activities. Not much in the way of cycling options except right around the camping areas, but we like it anyway.

We got a great, deep site with electric and water (but didn’t hook up the water) and the fire ring is well off-pad, downhill in the woods.

Our set-up is for two days, so we have the awning out, the grill and camp kitchen set up, and even put out my “firefly” LED lights. Home sweet home for the next couple of days.

The weather stayed brilliant, but we needed to get some supplies so we drove into the ‘burbs of Scranton and found an excellent wine store, plus a Weis grocery store. You might have noticed we’ve not cycled since Cape Breton, and that’s a shame. But our arrival/departure timing and the weather have prevented us from bothering to take the bikes off the Roomba rack.

Provisioned, we returned to the campsite (#28) and began dinner and a fire. Ate ‘burgers with fresh tomato, potatoes au gratin, and fresh corn. As we sat by the fire afterwards, at around 8:30P, an unexpected visitor showed up: a small skunk with a startlingly white tail came strolling out of the woods to check things out. As if it owned the place.

It probably does.

It nosed around the fire ring as we sat still as stones (Jack was keeping his flashlight trained on it, which didn’t seem to bother it at all). It appeared to finish with us and headed up to Roomba, and nosed around the grill area a bit, then under the trailer, then back down the small hill to us again.

This second foray, I really thought it was going to come and sniff our very feet and I knew I wouldn’t be able to stay still for that adventure. But it thought better of that plan, and headed back to the trailer, but then veered off and went into the woods, proceeding to another campsite.

I couldn’t get any photos for fear the flash would scare it into spraying, and it was full dark so the flash-less pix didn’t show anything but blurrs.

We left the fire, which still probably had 45 minutes to an hour of good burning to watch, and retreated to the safety of our nook in the trailer. Just in case our stripey neighbor decided to return, we didn’t want to be trapped outside again.

I honestly regret leaving that beautiful fire.

image

We listened to some music read some books, and then hit the hay, hoping our striped friend would not return or feel the need to spray anything nearby.

Ashuelot River Campground

I want to give a big shout-out to our hosts at our campsite over the past couple of days: Chuck and Laura Mills. 

Ashuelot River Campground is 22 acres of space, with sites for everything from big rigs to tents (and Alto Campers in between). Access to the sites is easy, and there’s plenty of open space for playing baseball, football, or picnicking; and there’s a rec room with foosball, ping-pong, pool and plenty of other evening or rainy day pass times. http://ashuelotrivercampground.com

Included are laundry facilities, great bath and restroom facilities, and a full 3600 feet of river front for those lucky campers who reserve early. What a splendid spot. 

   
 As you’re aware, if you read yesterday’s post, there is easy access to a very nice rails-to-trails conversion (appropriately called the Ashuelot River Rail Trail), AND Chuck and Laura Mills offer a livery service for canoe and kayak float trips down the river, if biking isn’t your thing. Just around the corner is a spectacular grocery store, The Market Basket, that has everything a camping trip might need, from pre-cooked foods to fine meats and seafood, to the regular thises and thats one forgets or runs out of.

Wi-fi is available near the game and reading room and on the porch just off that room. It is a nice, robust connection, too. Our carrier is Verizon, and the cell service was just fine at our campsite, well away from the main office. 

The river is beautifully meandering along the property, and it’s nice to have that backdrop to the meandering conversations you will inevitably enter into with Chuck and his helpers. Friendly and informative, they are the type of people you’ll feel, once you’ve met them, that it is possible you’ve known them for years.

Call or email for reservations, and be sure to tell them if you have a big rig or a trailer so you can get alternative directions to get there — there are several covered bridges in the neighborhood, that any mapping/gps service will send you to, but trailers and big rigs are not allowed to use them, and/or are physically incapable of using. But they are quite charming.

   
 We found the campground and the Mills’s hosting service totally by chance, and it was a positive serendipitous intersection. We thank you both, Chuck and Laura, and we hope to see you again one day. 

  
As I write this, we have arrived in Lakawanna State Park in Pennsylvania for our next two nights. Here’s our campsite setup (below). We are not planning on having to drive anywhere, so we’re leaving the Roomba hooked to the car. Had a cold dinner that we picked up at the Market Basket near Swanzey yesterday: fried chicken fingers, broccoli salad, and potato chips. And there might have been a beer or some wine involved, too . . .  it is so nice to have the 12volt fridge that runs off the solar panels while we’re underway, so all stays chilled even though the Roomba got to about 90 degrees inside in transit on this hot, 84 degree day. 

Happy campers doesn’t even come close.