Road Report #19 – From NC to NY

Well, surprise surprise…I’m way behind on updating the blog again.  In the last 34 days I’ve put about 3500 miles on the van and travelled through the states of NC, TN, KY, VA, MD, WV, DE, PA, NJ, NY, VT, MA.   You’re about to experience a lame blog update as I scramble to post pics.  Sorry in advance…Too much to see! Too much to do! So here we go…

April 23rd and 24th. Cumberland Gap National Historic Park.  Walked in the footsteps of Daniel Boone, Abraham Lincoln’s grand father and father. Hiked to THE gap and walked on THE trail that hundreds of settlers followed hoping to find a better life in the Ohio Valley.

 

Grappled with feelings of pride and shame as I mulled over the complicated history of the U.S., founded on principles of freedom and independence, fueled by exploitation of people and places.

Hiked in the rain, enjoying the pitter patter of raindrops through the forest canopy and the pastel palette of the eastern forest coming to life in spring.

 

Hiked to the point where the states of Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia converge. My right foot is in Kentucky, my left in Virginia.  I made Roo sit in Tennessee.

 

 

Checked out the historic town of Cumberland Gap, TN and stumbled randomly upon a bicycle museum.

 

April 25th on to Charlottesville, VA for a few days.  Stopped at Natural Bridge, VA for a quick hike with Roo.

 

George Washington supposedly carved his initials in the rock.  Didn’t find his but found other ‘graffiti’ dating back to the 1800’s.

 

Made new friends, Kim and Adam, friends of friends, kind enough to let me park it in their driveway in Charlottesville, VA for a couple of nights.  Checked out the historic part of town and the statues of the Confederate war heroes still standing, sight of riots in August 2017.  Hard to imagine the grotesque hatred and violence that invaded this space.

 

Enjoyed strolling around the pedestrian zone in historic downtown, and enjoyed stumbling upon public art installations. Had the best bagels in years at Bodos bagels.

 

Thursday,  April 26th, did a fabulous hike up to Humpback Rocks, trail off the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Amazing 360 degree view.

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Friday, April 27th, drove over to Richmond, VA to meet up with Norie and see her AMAZING garden, Eden Wood, famous for mosses.

 

That evening my friend, Kat, drove down from NJ and we stayed at a rental just outside Charlottesville, VA for 2 nights on a 220 acre horse farm.   Roo was in heaven!

 

Saturday, April 28th, we visited Thomas Jefferson’s estate, Monticello.  Parked next to a VW Westfalia in the parking lot and returned to find a nice note and flowers.

 

 

Sunday, April 29th, Kat and I stopped at James Madison’s estate, Montpelier, on the way north out of the Charlottesville, VA area.  View from the front porch is amazing.

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Camped that night in Shenandoah National Park at the Big Meadows Campground. Hiked on the AT trail.   Enjoyed the amazing views and meadow hikes.

 

Monday, April 30th, drove around  the Virginia countryside and did some wine and cider tasting then back to Big Meadows for another night of camping.

 

 

Tuesday, May 1st goofed around with time lapse on my camera as I drove the Skyline Drive north out Shenandoah National Park.

 

Then on to the historic town of Harper’s Ferry in West Virginia. Another point of intersection with the Appalachian Trail and another point where 3 states converge, West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland where the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers meet.

 

 

The hike down to the historic town and back up to the visitor center wiped Roo and I out.

 

Wednesday, May 2nd trekked around the historic Civil War battlegrounds in the Harper’s Ferry area and then on to Antietum National Battlefield.  Very peaceful and beautiful setting.  Hard to imagine the violence and gore.  Witnesses described bodies layered like fallen timber and fields nothing but a sea of gray and blue and red.  23,000 soldiers killed, wounded, missing in 12 hours of fighting in one day.

 

Many, many monuments scattered throughout the park, commemorating various divisions from the states that participated in the battle.

 

Stumbled upon Cooker’s VW along a country road.  These guys are SERIOUS VW restorers and had a great chat and watched some hilarious video of them drag racing some old VW buses retrofitted for that sort of thing.

 

On to Fort Frederick State Park in Maryland for a night camping along the Potomac. Amazingly well preserved fort from the 1750’s.

 

From Fort Frederick I tried to explore the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Historic park but it turns out to be a park that’s probably better and more easily visited on a bike rather than via car.  The old barge towing path has been converted into a bike trail and it’s possible to bike miles and miles and miles along the old canal.  Roo and I did our best.

 

Thursday, May 3rd I drove to Princeton, NJ, to visit with friends for a few days.  I arrived in time to catch my friend, Paul, play a gig at The Ivy Inn, Princeton’s dive bar.

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At the Ivy Inn, Princeton’s excellent dive bar.

We hiked the trails in the area, and took scenic drives to visit the many adorable, historic towns that line the Delaware River on the NJ/PA border.

 

We tried our hands at kite flying at Terhune’s Orchard’s Kite Day and laughed as Peter hammed it up for photos.

 

 

Got my hair cut short (MISTAKE! Bangs are hot!) and dressed up for an 80’s party Saturday night.

 

Took the dogs for a run at beach.  Jersey Shore, baby!

 

On May 9th, headed south to Mickleton, NJ to meet up with Kat again.  Hung at her house for a few days with her girls and Hunter, their beagle.  Hunter and Roo became good napping buddies.

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Saturday, May 12th, Kat and I headed to our  hometown of Boonton, NJ.   Roo loved sharing the front seat with Kat.   Drove around town, checking out our high school and grade school, childhood homes, favorite roads.  Surprisingly little had changed.  Town looked good.  Stopped into the Resevoir Tavern for some chicken parm.  A picture of my high school basketball team  hung on the wall next to our table.  Ha!

 

Saturday night, met up with friends from high school and caught the band playing a gig at a local bar.  (I’ve seen these guys play gigs since high school days. They ROCK!)

 

 

Sunday, May 13th, back down to Kat’s in South Jersey and then Monday, May 14th, hit the road again, heading north.  Meandered north along the roads that trace the Delaware River and stopped at Easton, PA on the PA/NJ border to look at my alma matter, Lafayette College, and grab a beer at Porter’s pub, a fav hang out of mine during college years.

 

Monday night, camped at High Point State Park in in the far northwest corner of New Jersey, where the Appalachian Trail briefly crosses through the state.

 

Tuesday, May 15th, I set off to check out the Catskill Mountains of New York.  Plans for hiking were quickly ditched as I scrambled to find a campground when alerts regarding severe weather started popping up on my phone.   I hadn’t done my research and most NY state parks hadn’t yet opened for the season.  I arrived at the KOA campground just outside of Woodstock, NY at the same time my phone beeped out a warning of possible tornados and large hail.  I scrambled to cover Greta with tarps, my yoga mat, anything I could find that could (hopefully) prevent any major damage to the van.   Damage to the van became the least of my worries as the front blew in and the trees started whipping around and crashing into each other.  I lay on the floor of the van watching the trees bend at alarming angles, watching the weather radar feed on my phone and counting down the minutes until the worst had passed.  Fortunately no major damage done.  Whew!

Wednesday, May 16th, I checked out Kaaterskill Falls and then pushed on to Lake George in Adirondack Park in NY for a night of camping.

 

Thursday, May 17th, I headed north and found one of the few open state park campgrounds outside of Lake Placid, NY.   It was a beautiful drive and beautiful country.  Rivers and waterfalls and lakes and hiking galore.

 

 

On my way out of the Lake Placid area on Friday, May 18th, I saw the ski jump area off to the right and pulled over to investigate further.  Bought a ticket to ride the lift up to the top of the jump.  So cool!

 

From Lake Placid I took a route east towards Lake Champlain and then headed south along the NY/VT border.  Just beautiful. Mountains, lush rolling farmland, AND water views.   Stopped in the adorable town of Westport, NY where Roo took a dip in the lake.  Stopped at both Crown Point State Historic Site and Fort Ticonderoga.

 

 

Then on into Vermont to stay 2 nights with family in East Dorset, VT.  Beautiful, beautiful country.  Historic homes in great shape. Rain moved in and orange newts emerged and were everywhere.  Hiked with Roo along Otter Creek.

 

Sunday, May 20th, on to Burlington, VT area for 3 nights. Greta went in for an oil change and overall checkup at Craig’s VW.   I explored the town and tried to determine if it might be a future landing spot.  I gravitated towards the Winooski Falls neighborhood, with it’s riverside setting, historic buildings and good eating and drinking options.

 

Wednesday, May 23rd, I pushed off from Burlington, VT heading south.   Stopped in Jamaica, VT to camp for the night and Thursday, May 24th started off with a fabulous hike along the West River to Hamilton Falls.

 

Continued heading south after the hike and stopped in North Adams, MA to check out the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.  WOW!  WOW! WOW! Amazing place!  Wish I had had more time.

 

That evening, I arrived at my aunt’s cottage in Amenia, NY and Roo to hang out with family over Memorial Day weekend.   Beautiful farmland and nice walks on the bike trail with Roo.  Enjoyed poking around the town of Millerton, NY.

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My aunt and Roo. Looking out over the farmland behind my aunt’s cottage.

Now I’m off and making a push into Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and Labrador and I’m SO excited for this leg.  The Canadian Maritimes look a little wild and woolly which is right up my alley.    Stay tuned…

 

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