Featured

Vermont: Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park

IMG_8055
Tiffany Glass Window – passing the torch to future generations
  • Website link: Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park
  • What is it: it was the home of three families who were passionate about preserving and protecting our lands and resources for future generations to enjoy
  • Where is it: Woodstock, Vermont near the bank of the Ottauquechee River
  • Cost: combination tickets for the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller estate and the also-must-see Billings Farm & Museum, which is across the street – $21.00 for ages 16-61, $16.00 for ages 62 and over, children 15 and under are free. The combo tickets are good for two days.
  • Hiking trails
  • Accommodations and restaurants in Woodstock, Vermont
  • When to go: June through October. The visitor center is open and guided tours of the mansion are available 10:00 – 5:00 from Memorial Day Weekend to October 31.
IMG_8072
Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller Mansion

What a beautiful property! Full of history and the stories of the three families that called this place home.

IMG_8064
Exquisite gardens

Charles Marsh (1765-1849), a Woodstock, Vermont lawyer and later a US Representative, built the original house in 1805. His son, George Perkins Marsh (1801-1882), was also a lawyer and member of the US House of Representatives. George was appointed as a US Minister to the Ottoman Empire and then to the Kingdom of Italy, where he died in 1882.

IMG_8069
One of the carriage roads on the property. Can’t you imagine hitching a horse to a buggy and taking a ride through these beautiful grounds and woods?

George Perkins Marsh was concerned with conservationism and land stewardship. He advocated passionately for preservation of the natural environment, and in 1864, published a book, Man and Nature, which spoke of the importance of minimizing man’s impact on our natural resources.

IMG_8066
Pool, Belvedere, and Greenhouse

In 1869, the estate was purchased by another lawyer, Frederick H. Billings, who had gained his wealth by handling land claims during the California Gold Rush. Billings was also a founding partner of the Northern Pacific Railroad. The Billings family enlarged the home and transformed the previously boxy, Federal-style home into the trend-of-the-era Queen Anne Victorian that remains today.  The Tiffany Glass Company designed several stained glass windows for the home as well as some of the wallpapers and fabrics that remain in the home today.

IMG_8067
The belvedere: a summer house or cottage, usually with a view. We loved this tiny treasure.

Billings, also a passionate conservationist, reforested the surrounding woodlands that had been stripped of their trees, and established the dairy farm that lies across the road from the mansion. While not part of the national park (although, they partner with each other in may ways), the Billings Farm and Museum is owned by the Woodstock Foundation, Inc., which was formed by Laurance and Mary Rockefeller.

IMG_8051
Looking out from the porch. At one time, there were very few trees in this view due to deforestation. Thankfully, Frederick Billings was good steward of the land.

 Mary French Billings Rockefeller, the granddaughter of Frederick Billings, inherited the estate in 1951. She and her husband, Laurance, another passionate conservationist who was an advisor on preservation and conservationism to several presidents, were the last owners of the property. They donated the house and surrounding land to the National Park Service in 1992. Mary died in 1996, and Laurance died in 1997.

IMG_8068
Outstanding gardens and plantings at every turn

Trivia: Laurance’s father, John D. Rockefeller donated the land that would become Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. Laurance donated the land, an 1,100 acre ranch that he and his father acquired over the course of several years, that is now the Laurance Rockefeller Preserve, which also lies within the boundaries of Grand Teton National Park.

IMG_8063
Another view of the beautiful grounds

Now for a few shots inside the mansion. General tours cover the first and second floors. Special tours, such as the “art tour”, are given during certain times on select days. Check the website link above for details of these additional tours.

IMG_8054
Another Tiffany Glass window as seen in the parlor/music room. Note the fabulous Tiffany wallpaper. This textured wallpaper has been on the walls of this room since the Billings’ renovation in 1869!
IMG_8052
The Dining Room. The woodwork in this home is outstanding. The parquet floors are works of art in themselves, and all of the other woodwork is breathtaking.
IMG_8057
One of the bookcases in the library.

The home remains as the Rockefellers left it when they donated the property to the National Park Service, even down to the family pictures sitting on the mantel in the library and Laurance’s pipe sitting in a tray in the bedroom.

IMG_8058
Master bedroom sitting area. (We’re pretty sure that fan is not orginal to the house)

The mansion is home to an extensive art collection. The collection contains paintings by renowned artists, such as Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Cole, who were associated with the Hudson River School art movement, which, through art and advocacy, promoted conservationism and also led to the establishment of the national park system.

IMG_8060
Albert Bierstadt’s The Matterhorn (date unknown)

Many other paintings, sculptures, and photography are also part of the extensive collection of art in the home. We were disappointed that the “art tour” wasn’t offered on the day that we were there. Perhaps another trip to Vermont is in order.

We’re going to wrap up here. Thank you so very much for touring the Marsh – Billings – Rockefeller National Historical Park with us. We love having you join us on all of our travels! Please stop by our site again for more exciting destinations, parks, or maybe just a Quick Stop. We appreciate your “likes” and comments.

We will close this post with a look at the Ottauquechee River as it flows through Quechee Gorge about five miles from the park.

IMG_5718 (1)
Quechee Gorge

Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye

Badwater Basin

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Strawbery Banke Museum and Portsmouth, New Hampshire

IMG_8169

  • Website link: Strawbery Banke Museum
  • Where is it: Portsmouth, New Hampshire
  • What is it: it is a restored neighborhood in South Portsmouth’s historic district
  • Cost: varies, see website
  • One restaurant is located on the property, along with a cafe in the visitor center
  • Hours: May through October, open daily from 10:00 – 5:00 for self-guided tours 

Strawbery Banke was first settled in 1630, and was centered around an inlet or waterway called Puddle Dock, which was filled in in the early 1900s. Today Strawbery Banke is a collection of original buildings – homes and businesses – some of which were occupied until the 1950s. When the neighborhood was destined for demolition, preservationists jumped in to save it, and Strawbery Banke opened as this wonderful museum in 1965.

IMG_8173
The Sherburne House, built between 1695 and 1703 by Captain John Sherburne. We thought the construction of this house was interesting, and the windows really grabbed our attention.
IMG_8174
Wheelwright House. Built during the time of the American Revolution by Captain John Wheelwright, it is a fine example of a middle class home of the time.
IMG_8171
The Dinsmore Shop. The 1800 cooper’s shop was moved to Strawbery Banke in 1985 and is where the museum’s resident master cooper demonstrates the art of barrel making.
IMG_8187
Thomas Bailey Aldrich House. For at time during his youth, Aldrich lived in this home with his grandfather. Years later, the house was repurchased by his widow, and restored to its original condition as a memorial to her late husband. During the 1880s the house served as Portsmouth’s first hospital. Aldrich’s claim to fame was his book The Story of a Bad Boy, which is significant because it was based on his life while living in this house with his grandfather, and it was the first time that a boy’s life had been depicted in American literature. His friend, Mark Twain, would follow Aldrich’s lead a few years later, writing about The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
IMG_5729
The Goodwin Mansion (1872). This house was the home of Ichabod Goodwin, who was a governor of New Hampshire from 1859-1860. The Goodwin Mansion is the only house at Strawbery Banke that does not sit on its original foundation. It was rescued from demolition in another section of Portsmouth and moved to this site in 1963.

Our favorite part of the Strawbery Banke Museum was the Marden-Abbott House and Store. The house was built during the 1720s by a local mast maker named John Marden. Walter and Bertha Abbott purchased the home in 1919 and opened the store, which Bertha operated up into the 1950s.

IMG_8185
Marden-Abbott House and The Little Corner Store
IMG_8177
World War II era grocery items line the shelves of the store
IMG_8180
We were fascinated by the products and the prices
IMG_8176
World War II rationing poster displayed in the store

IMG_8178

At the time of our visit, the store was occupied by a costumed role player, presumably portraying Bertha Abbott, who pointed at our camera and told us that if we went across the street to the harbor we might be arrested for taking pictures (in other words, being spies). “The navy doesn’t want any of those German U-boats getting into our harbor,” she said. She then went on to talk about war rations. “Bertha” and the store were absolutely delightful.

IMG_8190
This house is not on the museum’s grounds but sits across the street from the Goodwin Mansion. We though it was a beautiful example of New England architecture.
IMG_8168
The North Church of Portsmouth. This is a Congregational Church, originally built in 1657, and rebuilt in 1854. The church was restored in 1978. Isn’t it stunning?
IMG_8202
The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, established in 1800, as seen from Prescott Park across the street from the Strawbery Banke Museum. Interestingly, the shipyard, which sits on the banks of the Piscataqua River, is actually in Kittery, Maine, as the result of a boundary dispute that was resolved in 2006. This is the oldest continually operating US naval shipyard.
IMG_8198
World War I Memorial Bridge. This is a vertical lift bridge that carries US 1 across the Piscataqua River between Portsmouth, NH and Kittery, ME. Built in 2013, this bridge replaced a previous bridge that was built in 1923.
IMG_8212
This plaque from the original Memorial Bridge sits atop the new bridge on the New Hampshire side. We took this picture while driving by. Sometimes we get lucky!
IMG_8213
This is the Piscataqua River Bridge which carries I-95 over the river from New Hampshire to Maine. IMG_5732

Coastguard Cutters anchored near the naval shipyard. The large beige building in the background is the old Navy Yard Prison that was built between 1903 and 1908. During World War II the prison saw its highest population of nearly 3,000 men. The prison was permanently closed in 1974 because it didn’t meet modern day prison standards.

IMG_8209
The Sheafe Warehouse. Built in the early to mid 1700s, the warehouse was moved to this location in Prescott Park for preservation and public enjoyment. Art and other exhibitions now take place in this historic building, but it wasn’t open on the day we visited Portsmouth.

For information about the Sheafe Warehouse, here is a link to a great blog site: Sheafe Warehouse.

Honestly, with the history of Portsmouth, the river, the harbor, the bridges, etc., we could continue this post for days. However, we’re going to wrap it up here. We appreciate your visit to our site, and we hope that you will return again for more great destinations. You never know where we’re going to take you next! If you’re not a follower, become one so you never miss a post, and tell your friends about us, too.

We are going to close with a picture of the beautiful New Hampshire State House in Concord.

IMG_8161
Built between 1816 and 1819, the New Hampshire State House is the oldest state house in the US where the legislature still occupies the original building.  The gilded dome is topped by a gold peace eagle, erected in 1957. The land upon which the state house sits was sold to the state of New Hampshire by Quakers whose meeting house once sat on the site. The city of Concord funded the construction of the state house.

Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye

IMG_5646

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

IMG_6005
Park boundary with El Capitan (left) and Guadalupe Peak (far right) in the background
  • Website Link: Guadalupe Mountains National Park
  • Cost: $7.00 per person (ages 16 and up) for 7 day pass – seniors free with senior pass
  • Pine Springs Visitor Center: open daily 8:00 – 4:30 Mountain Time
  • McKittrick Canyon day use area: gate is open daily 8:00 – 4:30 MST and until 6:00 MDT
  • Frijole Ranch Museum: open daily 8:00-4:30
  • Salt Basin Sand Dunes day use area: no overnight parking or camping, picnic tables and pit toilets available – located approximately 50 miles southwest of Pine Springs Visitor Center – no services
  • Williams Ranch day use area: high-clearance vehicle required for one lane dirt road access – keys must be checked out at the Pine Springs Visitor Center and returned the same day
  • Camping spaces available at Pine Springs Campground – open year-round – no hook ups and reservations are not available – restrooms and potable water are available
  • Dog Canyon Campground: open year-round – located 110 miles from Pine Springs Visitor Center, and approximately 65 miles from Carlsbad, New Mexico – tent and RV campsites available – restrooms are available – no services
  • Backcountry and equestrian camping also available in the park
  • Hotels, additional camping, food, and gasoline available in Carlsbad, New Mexico and El Paso, Texas
IMG_0367
View of the mountains near Guadalupe Pass

Getting There:

img_6093.jpg
Cholla cactus blooms

Guadalupe Mountains National Park is located approximately 53 minutes southwest of Carlsbad, New Mexico and approximately 1.75 hours northeast of El Paso, Texas via US Highway 62/180. El Paso has a major airport.

⇒Travel Tip: there are few services between El Paso and the park. It’s a good idea to have plenty of gasoline, water, and food on hand before beginning your journey. The only services between the city of Carlsbad and the park are 32 miles northeast of Guadalupe Mountains in White’s City near the entrance of Carlsbad Caverns National Park, but the services there are limited. There are no services available in Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

Recommended RV parks in Carlsbad:

Carlsbad RV Park & Campground – 4301 National Parks Hwy, Carlsbad, NM 88220 – (575) 885-6333, which is closest to the national parks. 

Carlsbad KOA Holiday – 2 Manthei Rd, Carlsbad, NM 88220 – (575) 457-2000, which is about 30 minutes farther but is close to the state parks in Carlsbad. 

Destination: Guadalupe Mountains National Park

IMG_4638
The Guadalupe Mountains are the remains of an ancient reef – beautiful!

Guadalupe Mountains National Park is one of two national parks in Texas, the other being Big Bend National Park. Guadalupe Mountains, however, is home to Guadalupe Peak, which is the highest point in Texas at 8,751 feet. The Guadalupe Peak trail, at a little over eight miles round-trip, is a popular and strenuous hike.

IMG_6097
Pine Springs Visitor Center

There is an interesting museum exhibit inside the Pine Springs Visitor Center. Guadalupe Peak hikers can check in here. Restrooms and a water filling station are available. Outside, there is a short nature trail (the Pinery trail) leading to the remains of the historic Pinery Station, which was a Butterfield Overland Mail Station (pre-Pony Express) used in the mid-1800s. The remains of this station are some of the only ones left of any Butterfield Station in the US. Learn about some of the plants found in the park while walking the paved Pinery trail.

The Pinery Station

IMG_6053
The crumbling walls of the Pinery Station with El Capitan in the background

IMG_6060

Highway access and parking for the Pinery Station is approximately .5 miles northeast of the Pine Springs Visitor Center and is clearly marked with signs along the highway. The parking lot here also serves as overflow parking for the Guadalupe Peak trailhead which is located at the Pine Springs campground near the visitor center. The short trail to the Pinery Station is paved and is wheelchair accessible.

Frijole Ranch

IMG_6019
The Frijole Ranch house, originally built in 1876 and expanded in the 1920s, is now a cultural museum. The ranch was established in order for its owners to raise cattle near several springs located here in the foothills of the Guadalupe Mountains. Subsequent owners grew vegetable gardens and tended large orchards along with raising stock. Click the park website link above to read about the interesting history of the ranch.
IMG_6023
The orchards are behind the white building (which could be an outhouse) on the left. The tin roofed building on the far right was used as a bunkhouse and schoolhouse.

Access to Frijole Ranch is via a well-marked exit off of the highway northeast of the Pine Springs Visitor Center. A short gravel road will lead to a parking and picnic area (with restrooms) next to the Frijole Ranch house/museum. Equestrian corrals and overnight parking for stock trailers are available at Frijole Ranch. This is also the trailhead for Manzanita Spring trail and Smith Spring trail. The Manzanita Spring trail is an easy 4 miles round-trip on a paved, wheelchair accessible trail. Smith Spring trail loop is classified as moderate at 2.3 miles round-trip.

Hiking McKittrick Canyon

Here you can see a wide variety of plants, and possibly some animals that call Guadalupe Mountains National Park home. That, on top of the breathtaking beauty of the mountain scenery, makes McKittrick Canyon a wonderful place to hike. Oak, maple, walnut and many other types of trees can be found in this desert-turned-riparian hideaway. When the trees turn in the late fall, the canyon becomes an even more popular place for hikers. Check the website for the fall colors report in October and November.

IMG_5851 - Copy
Starting off on the trail leading from the ranger station/contact station where all hikers must check in. Didn’t we have a gorgeous day for hiking?
IMG_5895 - Copy
A cool creek is a welcome sight on a hot day
IMG_5920 - Copy
Pratt Cabin – note the stone roof

Wallace Pratt, a Humble Oil Company geologist, first came to McKittrick Canyon in 1921, and eventually acquired about 5,000 acres of the canyon. In the early 1930s he hired Houston, Texas architects and local workers in need of jobs to construct the cabin also known as the Pratt Lodge. Mr. Pratt referred to the cabin as the Stone Cabin, which was constructed of locally quarried limestone. Pratt eventually built another home in what is now Guadalupe Mountains National Park. His second home, completed in 1945, is known as the Ship on the Desert. In 1960, the Pratt family donated their land to the park service. The cabin is open intermittently for ranger guided tours, and there are a couple of picnic tables nearby but no restrooms or water.

IMG_5922 - Copy
View from the front porch of Pratt Cabin – we could have stayed on that porch all day
IMG_5392 - Copy
This little lady was as curious about us as were about her
IMG_5974 - Copy
A shady part of the trail leading to The Grotto

The well-marked turn-off for McKittrick Canyon is located 7 miles northeast of the Pine Springs Visitor Center. Although we went on a hot day, this was one of our all time favorite hikes. It is rated moderate, however, we thought it was an easy, family friendly trail. We turned around at The Grotto (6.8 miles round-trip), but the trail continues to McKittrick Ridge which is a steep and strenuous 14.8 mile round-trip hike from the ranger/contact station trailhead. Restrooms and water filling stations are available at the station. Park passes/admission fees can be paid at the station, however, they require exact change in the form of cash only. Park passes can also be obtained at the Pine Springs Visitor Center.

Below are a few more shots from McKittrick Canyon trail.IMG_5906 - Copy

IMG_5925 - Copy

IMG_5910 - Copy

IMG_5983 - Copy
Cute and colorful – we saw several of these guys along the trail

One of our favorite things to see on this trip was the blooming New Mexican agave plants, even though the only ones we saw were in Texas!

IMG_5998 - Copy

We visited the park during the latter part of May when many of the plants were in bloom. Desert plants are magnificent when in bloom, and if you’ve never experienced the refreshing summer rain scent of the creosote plant, you’re totally missing out!

Agaves and yucca plants produce tall stalks that can grow several feet overnight. Many desert animals eat the blooms and the stalks. We watched a mule deer in McKittrick Canyon gobble up an entire century plant stalk in about five minutes.

The normally scraggly-looking cactus plants put on a show during the spring with their brightly colored blooms, such as the cholla cactus shown at the top of the page.

Some of the other plants that were in bloom included:

IMG_6032
Soap Tree Yuccas
IMG_5891 - Copy
Butterfly Weed
IMG_6105
Prickly Pear Cactus
IMG_6091
Apache Plume with its white flowers and feathery pink plumes
IMG_6062
Delicate Prickly Pear “rosebuds” about to burst into bloom
IMG_5846
Bright orange Ocotillo blooms and a bee
IMG_5979 - Copy
Cardinal penstemon growing straight out of a rock at The Grotto
IMG_5986 - Copy
Another agave shot – not sorry. This was a large “agave forest” (our words) just outside the park.

Below are some of the plants and sights that we saw along the road in Lincoln National Forest on the way to Dog Canyon. Some of the plants looked like they had been purposely planted, but that didn’t bother us. We loved taking the back roads and seeing these plants off the beaten path!

IMG_6115
Creosote Bush – and oh, did it smell heavenly
IMG_6129
Yellow Bird of Paradise Bush
IMG_6125
Sweet Acacia
IMG_6121
Free range cattle jam on the road – and this wasn’t the only one we encountered
IMG_6135
This is the state line marker on the gate going in to Dog Canyon campground. Most of the trek to Dog Canyon is through New Mexico, but all of Guadalupe Mountains National Park is in Texas. Remote Dog Canyon is THE place to camp if you want to get away from it all.

We will close this post with a shot of a spectacular Texas Madrone.

IMG_5867 - Copy
Texas Madrone trees shed their bark to expose their smooth pink wood

Thank you for hanging with us through this long post. There is just so much beauty in Guadalupe Mountains National Park we wanted to share it with you! (And we barely scratched the surface.) We appreciate you traveling along with us on our journeys, and we hope you will stop back by soon for more great road tripping and RVing tips and more exciting adventures. Until then…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

IMG_2120

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Penobscott Narrows Bridge and Fort Knox, Maine

IMG_5634
East tower of the Penobscott Narrows Bridge and the Penobscott River

If you like bridges, add this one to your bucket list! The Penobscott Narrows Bridge is a cable-stayed bridge spanning the Penobscott River on US 1 in Maine, connecting Verona Island to the town of Prospect. The bridge boasts the highest bridge observatory in the world in its west tower. All 2,120 feet of this span are stunning, and of course, the surrounding scenery is gorgeous, too.

IMG_5631
The Penobscott Narrows Bridge and Observatory

IMG_7103 (1)

The bridge opened on December 30, 2006  and was a replacement for an earlier bridge that had been built in 1931. The observatory, which officially opened in May of 2007, afforded us wonderful views of the river, Penobscott Bay, the quaint town of Bucksport, Maine, Fort Knox, and even Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park. Combo tickets for the observatory and Fort Knox were a bargain at only $8.00 per person.

IMG_7091 (1)
West tower and observatory
IMG_7114 (1)
The Penobscott River emptying into Penobscott Bay as viewed from the observatory.
IMG_7115 (1)
A view of Fort Knox from the observatory

IMG_7121 (1)

Fort Knox was built between 1844 and 1869 as a guardian of the Penobscott River. Fortunately, Fort Knox never had to face a battle. It was also the first Maine fort to have ever been built entirely of granite. Perhaps that is why it is still in such good condition today. Fort Knox State Historic Site is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a National Historic Landmark.

IMG_7125 (1)
Front and entrance (sally port) to Fort Knox. Note the embrasures for the cannons.

Note: because we are not experts on military jargon or architecture, we refer to those holes in the walls “gun holes” simply because it’s easier to remember than “embrasure”. Though it never saw battle, this fort had the means to be heavily armed if needed.

IMG_7124 (1)
More “gun holes”. This type is called an arrow slit or loophole.
IMG_7133 (1)
Inside the fort, these arched “rooms” are called casemates, and each one could hold a cannon.
IMG_7132 (1)
Men’s quarters, storage vaults (in the parade ground), and storerooms (arched areas with doors and windows on the far right). A bakery was located at the top of the stairs next to the storerooms.
IMG_7145 (1)
“D” Battery overlooking the river

This was an important stop on our road trip up the Maine coast. Although we were anxious to get to Bar Harbor, we were glad we got to spend a couple of hours here. We highly recommend adding these landmarks to your itinerary if you’re going to be in Maine.

Thank you for joining us as we travel along the coast of Maine. Come back to our site for more exciting posts from New England, as well as other destinations, and tips and tricks. We appreciate your support, your comments, and your input. We do this for you!

We are closing this post with a look at the pretty riverside town of Bucksport, Maine, which is located across the river from Fort Knox.

IMG_7140 (1)
Oh, how we love those New England church steeples!

Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye

IMG_0254

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Portland, Maine

IMG_8335

Recommended hotel in Portland: Hilton Garden Inn – Jetport.

We flew in to Portland on the southern edge of Hurricane Dorian. Dorian had turned away from the coast of Maine and headed for Nova Scotia. Fortunate for us, but not fortunate for Nova Scotia. The skies were dark and dreary as we approached the Portland International Jetport. Luckily, the clouds cleared by the time we picked up our rental car, and the weather turned out perfect.

20190907_123643
Remnants of Hurricane Dorian and islands off the coast of Portland

This was our second visit to a New England state, however, it was our first visit to Maine. What an incredibly beautiful state! Hop on board as we start our latest road trip with a few of the sights in Portland.

20190907_123835
Taken from the dirty window of our plane. The brown and white yacht located in the upper center-left of the picture was for sale. We were told that it costs $45,000.00 just to fill its gas tank!
20190907_123817
Another dirty plane window picture: cruise ships. Port of Call, Portland, Maine. (Keep scrolling. We promise the photos get better.)

Our first stop was the Old Port section of Portland. As we found with other ports in Maine, this one was alive with throngs of people (we even saw a wedding!) and parking was limited and costly. There happened to be three cruise ships in port on our first evening in Portland. When the cruise ships are in port, there are large crowds, but we didn’t let that stop us.

IMG_7008
Long Wharf

IMG_7000 (1)At the end of Long Wharf is a restaurant called DiMillo’s on the Water. We loved DiMillo’s so much that we ate there on our first night in Maine (fresh sea food, of course) and on our last night, too. Originally a car ferry, the floating restaurant has been beautifully redone and is anchored next to the marina. They have THE BEST clam chowder we have ever tasted. We even asked if they could ship to Texas! (Sadly, they couldn’t.) The other food we had there was excellent, too. 

The Old Port area has lots of restaurants and shops that stay open a little later to accommodate the cruise ship passengers and other tourists.

img_7003.jpg
Old Port Street View

Note the cobblestone street in the image above. The first permanent settlement here was established in 1633! Obviously, there is a lot of history in Portland, but we will let you delve into the research yourself.

IMG_5617
Another Old Port street view

One unlikely bit of history sits right on Long Wharf…

IMG_6986 (1)
Three panels of the Berlin Wall
IMG_7017 (1)
Portland Lobster Company and some of the buildings on Commercial Street along the waterfront
IMG_7019 (1)
Watery Reflections

Portland is also home to the Portland Head Light, located on Cape Elizabeth which is on Casco Bay in the Gulf of Maine. (Quite an address, huh?) The Portland Head Light was commissioned by George Washington and first lit in January of 1791. It is the oldest lighthouse in Maine.

IMG_8328

Today, the light is still an important beacon and also utilizes a (loud) foghorn to warn ships away from the rocky coastline. The US Coast Guard maintains and operates the light, while the grounds and light keeper’s house are owned by the town of Cape Elizabeth. A small museum is also located on the property, which sits next to a park where the remains of Fort Williams can be seen.

IMG_5752
Portland Head Light
IMG_8307
Commemorative plaque on the side of the keeper’s house (1965)
IMG_8269
Cape Elizabeth’s rocky shoreline and a view of South Portland

In addition to the rocky coast, the entrance to Casco Bay also has several rocky ledges that sometimes are visible and sometimes are covered by shallow water. One of these ledges, Ram Island Ledge, is the home to another lighthouse that is just a few hundred yards from the Portland Head Light.

IMG_8280
Ram Island Ledge Light

(Note the lobster trap buoys dotting the water in the background.)

The Ram Island Ledge Light was first lit in 1905, and was in use for about 100 years. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. In 2010, the defunct light was put up for public auction. We believe the light is now the private property of an area doctor. Interestingly, this light supposedly has a twin that is located near Boston.

That’s going to do it for our highlights of Portland, Maine. Come back again for more exciting destinations, road trips, and RVing tips and tricks. We will be covering more of our 1,200 mile, three state, New England road trip in future posts, so stay tuned!

Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye

Badwater Basin

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Palo Duro Canyon State Park

IMG_5151 - Copy

  • Website link: Palo Duro Canyon State Park
  • Cost: $8.00 per day per adult – free for children 12 and under
  • Tent and RV camping, cabins – various fees
  • Hiking on trails and backcountry, biking, backpacking, seasonal horseback riding stable or bring your own horse – equestrian campground available
  • Visitor center/museum
  • Nature interpretive center
  • Trading post with gasoline, fast food, groceries
  • Large group/event pavillions
  • Summer musical “Texas” in the amphitheater and catered dinner available
  • Wildlife watching/birding
  • Additional accommodations/restaurants in Canyon, Texas and Amarillo, Texas (see our Amarillo post)
IMG_5212 (2)
View from the CCC Overlook near the visitor center. One of the red “Spanish Skirts” is seen at the center of the photo.

Our favorite place to camp, Palo Duro Canyon State Park is the crown jewel of the Texas park system. That’s our opinion, anyway. The canyon is not only breathtakingly beautiful, it is the second largest canyon in the US. The name Palo Duro comes from the Spanish phrase meaning “hard wood”. The park is located about 30 minutes south and east of Amarillo, Texas. IMG_5244 (1)The sun was in the right place at the right time for this shot. That usually doesn’t happen for us – we just got lucky this time. No filters. Look at those spectacular colors!

Highlights…

IMG_5222 (2)
Can you see him? Well camouflaged, he blends in with his surroundings. The Longhorn Pasture is next to the park entrance.
IMG_5213 (2)
El Coronado Lodge. Built in the mid-1930s by the CCC, the lodge now serves as the visitor center and museum. Three CCC-built cabins on the rim of the canyon, just west of the visitor center, can accommodate four people each and can be reserved through the Texas State Parks website.
IMG_5298 (1)
This fireplace is all that remains of the CCC camp recreation hall which served as a place for the men to socialize and relax after a hard day’s work.

IMG_5291 (1)

IMG_5172 (1) - Copy

The summer musical “Texas” has been performed at the Pioneer Amphitheatre since 1966! The production features outstanding music, singing, dancing, and special effects, all while telling the story of ranching in the Texas Panhandle in the late 1800s. “Texas” is a treat for the entire family. Tickets can be ordered online.

IMG_5220 (1)
The cave is a popular destination for those who are brave enough to climb the rocks up to it.

Hiking Palo Duro…

Lighthouse Trail, the most popular hike in the park, is just under six miles round trip, and it’s our favorite! Below are some scenes from Lighthouse Trail.

IMG_5492
Interesting geology
IMG_5521
The Lighthouse
IMG_5489
Capital Peak from Lighthouse Trail. We love the hoodoo at the far left side of the picture.
IMG_5258 (1)
Rojo Grande Trail – moderate, although we thought it was easy. About 2.5 miles round trip.
IMG_5193 (1)
Kiowa Trail. Easy, peaceful, pretty. About 1.4 miles one way.

Palo Duro has many miles of trails with varying levels of difficulty. Some trails are multi-use, some are for hiking only, and some are for biking only. Mountain biking is very popular in this park. Check the website for all trail details.

Wildlife…

IMG_5203 (2)
These deer were about 50 feet from our campsite.
IMG_5050 (1)
Looking for love in all the wrong places. Apparently he was hoping for a date, but she totally ignored him.
IMG_5095
Roadrunner

Campgrounds and cabins…

IMG_5074 (1) - Copy
One of the campsites at the picturesque Mesquite campground.
IMG_5256 (1)
Sagebrush campground. This is our favorite campground, and it is within walking distance of the Pioneer Amphitheatre. (How about those dumpsters?) Okay, ignore the much-appreciated dumpsters and check out the gorgeous scenery!
IMG_5077 (1) - Copy
Cow Camp Cabins. Yep, you guessed it…these were built by the CCC, too.

Palo Duro Canyon has several campgrounds for tent and RV camping, day use areas, and an equestrian campground. This park is also pet friendly, but pets must be kept on a leash and are not allowed in the park buildings. See the website for details and reservation information.

Cool stuff nearby…

IMG_5227 (2)
West Texas A&M University wind turbine. It is the tallest (653.5 feet from the ground to the tip of its most upright blade) wind turbine in the US. Located east of Canyon, Texas, south of Texas Highway 217 off of Osage Road. It’s hard to miss this behemoth on the way to the park!

IMG_5153 (1) - Copy

IMG_5156 - Copy
Charles A. Smith sculpture about a half mile west of the park entrance. These arrows mark trails all over West Texas.
IMG_5128 (1) - Copy
Tex Randall – 1400 N 3rd Avenue, Canyon, Texas.

IMG_5124 (1) - Copy

img_5102-1-copy.jpg
Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum – 2401 4th Avenue, Canyon Texas. This is one of the best museums we have visited. Exhibits include Texas oil production, ranching, art, and paleontology, just to name a few. A visit to this museum is well worth the time and entry fee.
IMG_5133 (1) - Copy
T-Anchor Ranch Headquarters at Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum. Its Texas Historical Commission marker is below.

IMG_5134 (1) - Copy

Parting shots…

IMG_5226 (1)
Another pretty scene in the park.
IMG_5306
Old barn, silos, and attached living quarters (?) found on FM 1541 east of the city of Canyon.
IMG_5120 - Copy
Randall County Courthouse – centerpiece of the delightful town square in Canyon, Texas
IMG_5062 - Copy
Meandering river – Prairie Dog Town Fork Red River – on an overcast day in the park
IMG_5039 (1)
Another amorous Tom

Well, that covers our overview of Palo Duro Canyon State Park, folks. Please join us next time for another great road trip, and become a follower so you never miss a post!

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

Badwater Basin

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Albany, Texas and the Fort Griffin Fandangle

IMG_6304
Shackelford County Courthouse, Albany, Texas, built in 1883.

We’re in love! Albany, Texas has captured our hearts. Not only is it a beautiful small town, it sits amid rolling hills covered in mesquite, pecan, and oak trees. The town is surrounded by ranch land, and the Clear Fork Brazos River flows nearby. Albany has a rich history, proven by its thirty-five historic landmark designations, as well as historic Fort Griffin fifteen miles north of town.

IMG_6286
This sunflower field near Albany just makes us happy!
IMG_5585
This classic sits across the street from the courthouse
IMG_5587
Historic buildings in downtown Albany
IMG_5605
Restored Gulf gas station

During the last two weekends in June, the town of Albany puts on the Fort Griffin Fandangle, which is the oldest running play in Texas. This year (2019) was the eighty-first production. People come from all over to see the townspeople tell the story of the settlement of the area. This wonderful show will delight the whole family, and we highly recommend going to see it!

IMG_6298

IMG_5474 Fort Griffin is home to the Official State of Texas Longhorn Herd, and a few of them star in the show! We had never seen a more well behaved bunch of cattle before. Plus, they’re just kinda awesome. For more information about Fort Griffin, please see our Abilene, Texas post. Here’s a link: Abilene, Texas

IMG_5476
Some of the Fandangle cast

Also during Fandangle, there are many events around town, including a catered barbecue dinner, tours of historic buildings and homes, and baby longhorns on display on the courthouse lawn.

20190629_191221 (1)
Precious!

We bet this calliope is something you haven’t ever seen, and if you have seen one, we bet it was a long time ago. We were enthralled. This one is about 76-years-old, and they play it for thirty minutes before each show. Beware it is loud, but so intriguing! Turn up your sound and check out the video.

 

While there is a hotel and RV park in Albany, there are also hotels and campgrounds in Abilene, 35 miles south. Since we love camping in our RV, we chose to stay at Fort Griffin. The campground is not only pretty, it has clean showers and bathrooms, a playground for the kids, and full hookups. We woke up to birds singing, longhorns mooing, and a couple of spectacular sunrises. In the evenings, cicadas, tree frogs, and crickets chirped, and the dark skies afforded breathtaking views of the stars. Frankly, it was hard to leave the place.

20190630_065028
Fort Griffin Sunday sunrise
IMG_6211
This guy was singing his little heart out next to our campsite. Isn’t he gorgeous?

We’re going to close this post with a couple of shots of the old Highway 183 truss bridge over the Clear Fork Brazos River near Fort Griffin.

IMG_6284
From the new Highway 183 bridge. Yes, we stand in the middle of highways to get the shot.
IMG_6272
Standing in the middle of the old Highway 183 while looking up. No traffic on this one though.

That’s a wrap, folks. Be sure to make plans to attend the Fort Griffin Fandangle in 2020. We hope you will return to our site for more great trip ideas, tips, and tricks, and if you’re already a follower, THANK YOU for your support of our site. We do this for you. If you’re not a follower, become one so you never miss a post. We would love to have you aboard on our journeys. Until the next time…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

IMG_2120

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2019