Plans, What Plans (Part 2 of 3)

So we’re on the road heading to West Branch State Park in Ohio. We have driven through Ohio but never camped there. This stay will cross that state off the list and leave us with only 2 states in the lower 48 we have not stayed in (West Virginia and Connecticut). West Branch SP is a great park for exploring northeast Ohio and we’d come back here any time. We arrived in good weather but saw that would change so we headed to Cuyahoga National Park. This is one of the most urban of our National Parks. Maybe it’s because we were raised in very similar areas but we really didn’t see a whole lot that seemed special. The area does provide a green belt in an otherwise built up area and is heavily used by walkers and bikers so if for nothing else it is valuable. There is some important history about canal building as well. We used our visit to photograph some wildlife and enjoy a beautiful Spring day.

Blue Heron In The Rookery

Mallard Pair At Cuyahoga NP










Cuyahoga Waterfall

Some of the places we wanted to see (James Garfield NHS and Perry Victory and International Peace Monument)  either were not open or didn’t have their boat trips running for the season. We headed to Canton, OH to see the First Ladies NHS. A small Visitor Center has a few exhibits but the main reason for the site is a tour of President and Mrs. McKinley’s home. It was her family home as well. You access it only by guided tour.

McKinley Home At First Ladies NHS

McKinley Desk










Beautiful Staircase

On the way out, being the brochure collector that I am, I picked up a flyer for the Blue Water Majesty miniature ship museum. Steve had put up well with a morning of looking at women’s things so we decided to check this out. Even with the address and our GPS, when we got to the museum we weren’t sure it was the right place. No sign, no other cars and only a small handwritten sign on the door saying open. We went in and were greeted by the owner/model maker, Larry Pulka. We paid our $5 entry fee. That was $5 well spent! This turned out to be one of those hidden gems that we love to find!  He started building ships from kits over 40 years ago when his wife said “get a hobby!” Now he is an artist of the first magnitude crafting sailing ships from exotic woods and even bone. He uses no paint but scours the world looking for exotic colored wood. We never knew there was an exotic wood collectors society. He handcrafts every detail of the ships from original plans. Even the cannons have 51 separate parts!  The attention to detail is amazing. Each link of his chains are handcrafted. We can’t begin to tell you what a fantastic find this place is. Before you think maybe you’d like to take one home, they starting cost is $25,000 and up with a 2-3 year wait. We settled for a wonderful private tour and lots of photos. Rather than paraphrase information about the models we are posting the info cards on each ship shown. Click on the pictures for enlarged viewing and easier reading. This is but a small sampling of his work.

Tiny Cannons In My Hand

The Cutty Sark

Cutty Sark Info

Frigate Model












Frigate Info








Info On The Unicorn










The Unicorn








A Shipyard Diorama



Shipyard Info








Attention To Detail

Then the rain started.  Our newly repaired roof leaked worse than ever before! To say we were upset, distressed and just plain mad is an understatement. We checked to see how far away we were from the Prime Time factory in Elkhart, Indiana. Only 5 hours away. We called and told them we’d done everything we could to get this repaired without success. We wanted to come to the factory for repair. With our manufacturer’s warranty due to run out in 4 weeks we expected a run around. Much to our surprise they were very accommodating. The factory repair facility was booked but we were referred to John Klinge RV Repair who did their overflow work. He could take us the next week. So we lived with a bucket and towels and a leaky roof as best we could. Plans for visiting sights in southern Ohio were cancelled and we made plans to go to Indiana. Yes, we contacted the dealer in Pennsylvania and after working our way up the chain to the Service Manager, we eventually got reimbursement for everything spent on the roof “repair”.

By now we were in need of some fun and laughter. The Maier family never misses a Christmas without watching “A Christmas Story”. In Cleveland is the house used for part of the film. It has been turned into a very profitable tourist attraction. Even though it is very commercial, very kitchy and quite pricey, for real fans it is lots of fun. Everyone who goes immediately finds themselves acting out scenes such as sticking their tongue out at the flagpole, posing with the Red Rider BB Gun etc. We learned lots of little known info about the movie and had that well needed laugh.

A Christmas Story House

Triple Double Dare You!

You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out!











The Cast

On to Elkhart, Indiana, RV Capitol of the USA. We dropped the trailer off. John Klinge turned out to be our newest Guardian Angel when he immediately diagnosed the problem as an improperly installed air conditioner. Water damage was extensive and would require removing the roof, removal of sheathing and roof framing, removal of insulation etc. Repairs would take about a week. We hung out in Elkhart for a few days to make sure all was going smoothly.

While in town we visited the RV/MH Hall of Fame. If like us you think MH stands for motor home… wrong! It stands for manufactured housing. This place is huge. We spent all of one afternoon looking at campers and RVs from early 1900s to the 70s. They have so many more RVs to display that an addition is planned. Among our favorites were the oldest known camper, the one owned by Lindberg where he hosted Thomas Edison and Henry Ford and Mae West’s chauffeur driven model.

RV?MH Hall of Fame

Vintage RVs On Display

Chari Poses With Mae West’s RV










Since we were here where Prime Time Manufacturing (makers of our Sanibel) is located, we scheduled a visit to the factory. Seeing the construction and quality control was enlightening. We talked at length with the sales rep and he made notes about our issues and suggestions. We viewed a 2019 Sanibel and they have made some good changes. However the separate wine fridge is a bit over the top for us. We followed this with a visit to Goshen, IN and dinner at a Triple D restaurant, South Side Soda Shop. The dinner was just OK but the pie was worth the visit.

South Side Diner

How Many Steve’s Do You See?

We also let our sweet tooth loose at the Wakarusa Dime Store known for their candy display. We had lots of fun doing interior photos of the “old time” candy. Ya, I know it’s what we ate as kids. The extra large jelly beans kept calling our names. So much for dieting!

A Selfie

Old Time Advertising

The Waukarusa Dime Store









Who Else Remembers These?

Thank Goodness for family when you truly find yourself “homeless”. Steve’s brother lives near Yipsalanti, MI so we spent the remaining time there. During our stay we visited River Raisin NHS and toured the old Hutchinson mansion. Anyone else remember sticking S&H green stamps into books as kids? Well Hutchinson was the H of S&H. The home is now the head office of an educational research group. Since our sister-in-law works there we had a tour. Normally this is not open to the public.

Hutchinson Mansion

Did Your Mother Save These?














We returned to Elkhart and picked up our 5er. John had identified some other issues that would be covered under warranty. Since we had a schedule to meet we arranged to return in the Fall. Lesson learned: unless you can’t move or the problem is a minor one, head to the factory for major repairs.

See you soon for the third and final segment.

Out And About In Camden And Rockland, Maine

Camden Hills panorama

Lest you think all we did was run back and forth to the Stonington area we want you to know that there is a great deal to do in the two communities closest to Camden Hills State Park, Camden and Rockland. Both of these are small coastal towns with a healthy tourist population however they offer year round activities and events.

Camden, Maine

Dining Al Fresco With A Harbor View

Maine, Camden, photography

Evening At Camden Harbor

Camden is the smaller of the two towns with most of the businesses located on Rt. 1 or a few side streets near the harbor. It is one of the prettiest harbors we’ve seen. Several restaurants overlook the harbor and offer dining al fresco on summer days. As you’d expect there are several stores offering typical tourist souvenirs but there are several shops with high end home decorator items and local crafts. I used to collect pottery when we lived in a “regular” house and I’d have been buying up a storm. Now I just enjoy window-shopping and save a lot of money!

Maine, Rockland, mural

A Mural Near Rockland Harbor

Rockland is much larger than Camden and the place to head for everyday items such as groceries, pet supplies and auto care. The older section has been beautifully preserved and this is where you will find the Farnsworth Museum of Art. While we were there they had a special exhibit of paintings by N. C. Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth and Jamie Wyeth. Many of these artworks were on loan from the Brandywine Museum in Delaware. The Wyeth family lived in Massachusetts but spent their summers in mid-coast Maine. While not formally educated in art appreciation we enjoyed the exhibit very much and learned a great deal. We even found a connection between the Wyeths and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s family. A sister and brother who lived in Maine were subjects that N. C. Wyeth painted often in his Christina series. Their family was descended from the Hathorne family of Salem, MA. We’ll tell you about the name change when we talk about Nathaniel Hawthorne in our “Catching Up” posts.

As we returned to the car we passed an old movie theatre. I think it was called the State Theatre but after a month I’m not sure. Rain was predicted for the next two days so a movie sounded good. This is an ‘art’ theatre where independent films and documentaries are shown. Looking at the billboard we saw a movie “No Place On Earth” was to play. This turned out to be a great choice. It is a film about five Ukranian Jewish families hiding in a cave for over 18 months to escape Nazi persecution. Even after these families immigrated to Canada and the USA they kept silent about the story. In the 1990s an American cave explorer found evidence of their life in the cave and began trying to find out who these people were. After ten years he thought he was at a dead end. Then miraculously one of the men who’d been a child when this occurred contacted him. The History Channel produced the film. It is being shown in very few theatres but will be aired on the History Channel soon so keep your eyes open for it. We felt it was one of the most amazing, heart-wrenching yet uplifting films we’ve seen. Before the film a local Camden man spoke.  He too is a caver (no, they don’t call themselves spelunkers) and knew the man who located the families in the film. As an aside, he mentioned that he was also a professional potter and photographer. He would be doing a presentation of his photos taken in Guadalupe NP and Carlsbad Caverns. Our ears perked up.

The following evening we attended Peter Jones photography lecture at the Camden library. His photos are breathtaking! He is a very experienced caver who goes where very few of us will ever wander. Plus he brings with him more equipment than any of us own. He did say he was appreciative of his friends who are willing to be his ‘sherpas’ and help with the equipment. If you’d like to see either his pottery or his photos or both please visit .

Another great find in Rockland was a store called Fiore. They sell artisan olive oils and vinegars as well as a few specialty items. We went into the store because we were going to have pasta for dinner and needed some dipping oil. Over an hour later we came out with Tuscan herbed oil, an African green chile oil and pomegranate infused vinegar. That was after tasting many other offerings. We signed up for their club. Over the next year we’ll get three bottles every quarter along with a recipe that uses at least two of the products and a 10% discount toward other purchases. We’ve already tried the chile oil and pomegranate vinegar on grilled veggies. It was terrific.

Here’s the recipe for 2: Grilled veggies of your choice. We used snow peas, water chestnuts, mixed young peppers, onion and pineapple. Saute over charcoal in a wok using spicy chile oil (about 2 tablespoons). Remove from heat. Drizzle 1 tablespoon pomegranate vinegar over veggies and allow to stand for 3-5 minutes. YUM!! If you are interested in their products please visit the website at and they will ship to you. There is another store in Bar Harbor, Maine.

wildflowers, photography, Maine

Bunchberry On Mount Battie

nature, photography

The Colors Of Granite

wildflowers, Maine, photography

Sandworts Blooming On Mt. Battie

When the weather cleared we made a return trip up Mount Battie and spent 2-3 hours taking photos. Chari spent most of the time using her new 105mm macro lens while Steve used varied lenses. Somewhere along the way the pouch he used for his close-up rings opened and two of the three rings fell out. We tried to retrace his route but this was really a “needle in a haystack” attempt. If anyone out there in cyber space finds them, let us know!

There are several museums in the area such as the Transportation Museum, Indian Basket museum (part of a basket makers store) and the Merryspring Nature Center that we did not have time to visit. We did visit the Maine Lighthouse Museum and the Penobscot Maritime Museum near Searsport. Two lighthouses open to the public are in the Rockland area: Owls Head and Rockland Breakwater.  We’ll be covering those in a separate post on lighthouses.


The Perfect Picnic Spot

One day we took a drive looking for public access to some lakes we saw in the Maine Gazetteer. These are the greatest resource for anyone traveling by car. DeLorme makes one for each state. We have them all and have found many hidden gems by using them. We didn’t have luck finding boat ramps but did find a great rocky pasture for lunch. Opal had some much needed off leash time too. On our last full day in the Camden area we kayaked on Lake Megunticook. This is a 5+ mile long lake with a public access ramp. It is studded with small islands many of which have private summer cottages. The day was one of the warmest so far this summer and a swim sounded good. We found a shallow cove where the water was fairly warm and we took a dip and had lunch. It wasn’t a long paddle, just three miles or so but very relaxing.

lake, Maine

Paddling Lake Megunticook

Maine, lake, photography

Iris Bloom On Lake Megunticook

Chari's Better Side

Chari’s Better Side

wildflowers, nature, kayaking

Waterlilies And Lake Megunticook

Our Swimming Hole

Our Swimming Hole

This is a wonderful area to visit. We look forward to returning in a few years and hope you’ll experience these towns for yourself.

Coasting Along In Maine

The clipper Penobscot, which was lost to fire in Uruguay in 1913,  superimposed on a chart of Penobscot Bay, Maine.

Clipper Ship Penobscot Superimposed On Map Of Penobscot Bay

As we get this post ready we’ve been on the coast of Maine for almost two weeks. This is my first time here. We have fallen in LOVE with the area. If it weren’t for their long, cold winters we might never leave. Our first day out exploring turned into one of those days where you go to bed with a big smile on your face thinking “it just can’t get any better”.  Steve woke up the next morning and began to type a draft post. Be sure to put this area on your must see list. The above picture was Steve’s first attempt at taking a photo of a map then superimposing another picture on top. He saw something similar to it in a gallery and decided to try his hand at it.  Ah, the magic of Photoshop.  I know I’m biased but I think he did a great job.

Once again we want to say Thank You, Thank You to everyone who’s reading the blog. For the third month in a row we’ve had over 1,000 views. While we didn’t start out to set the Blogging World on fire, it has been fun to see the site grow. Our latest addition of Roadside Trivia seems to have found an audience. We’ll try to keep it going with more interesting tidbits. Now on to Coasting Along In Maine…

Yesterday, we left Vermont and headed for Camden, Maine.  The day was overcast with off-and-on rain and the roads were mostly wet. The five and a half hour drive stretched into about six or six and a half  but the scenery was lovely. It was a very relaxing drive.  We arrived at Camden Hills State Park in late afternoon to a very nice site, even if it was a bit tricky backing the fifth-wheel into it.  This is one of the few Maine State Parks that offers RV hookups. We’re surrounded by trees so no chance of setting up the Direct TV satellite antenna here. We’ve got plenty recorded on the DVR or it may turn out to be a chance to play some cribbage in the evenings.  After setting up, we poured a glass of  “ginger ale” and snacked on some cheese and crackers. Then we had dinner, watched a movie on TV and hit the sack.  All in all a nice traveling day.

Today was a day that many would put down as an exceptional day.  To us, it was a wonderful day in a life of exceptional days.  We hope we never become jaded to the point that we don’t appreciate just how exceptional our lifestyle is. It started out with a few chores.  Since things were wet when we packed up in Vermont and when we arrived here in Camden it was still drizzling, all I did was set up the essentials.  So, this morning, I stretched out a clothesline and hung out the screen house to dry.  It’s a folding frame with a fabric roof covering and screened sides that we can put up when bugs are a problem.  We quickly discovered it was still black fly season here. They actually draw blood when they bite!  The mosquitos are vicious too. Steve gets bitten and ten minutes later the welt is gone. I get bitten and the welts stay for two weeks!

Since we had the storage rack built on the back of the trailer, we’d been talking about having some covers made for some of the things we keep on it.  Earlier this spring, we stopped at a place in Rhode Island that does canvas work.  Since it was at the season when people are getting their boats ready to use for the summer they were too busy to get anything made for us in the short time we would be there. We decided that we’d wait until we got to the Maine coast.  With all the boating, both commercial and pleasure, in this area, we figured that canvas shops would be abundant. We were right. I drove to Rockland and went in to a shop called Gemini Marine Canvas, and told “Bill” what I had in mind.  One cover for the two bicycles we keep on the back rack and another to cover the section where we store our two generators and gasoline cans. This would keep them out of the weather and out of sight.  The generators cost us about $2000 and while we do have a locked chain running through them it’s kind of foolish to leave them out in the open.  Bill recommended that I go to Lowes or Home Depot and buy a cover made for an outdoor gas grill  to cover the bicycles.  Much cheaper than having a custom cover fabricated and just as good.  Good idea, why didn’t I think of that? For the generator cover, he took my drawing and told me as soon as he had a chance he’d figure the time and materials and call with a price.  We also have a pair of homemade folding footstools we use as hassocks when sitting outside. The foam cushions needed covers we could wipe clean and be waterproof.  Yes, he could do that too.  He wouldn’t use canvas but showed me a fabric they use for covering loads on the back of flatbed tractor-trailers.  Very durable and weatherproof.

By the time I got back home, he had called Chari with a price.  I called him back and told him to go ahead and do the job which will be ready to pick up sometime next week.  Then we sat down to a delicious breakfast of sausage and pancakes with cinnamon apple cider syrup that we bought at The Vermont Cheese Corporation.  We took out some pork chops from the freezer to thaw for grilling for supper.

Maine, Camden, Mount Battie

View Of Camden Harbor From Mount Battie

Camden calls itself the town where the hills meet the sea. Here in the park is a hill called Mount Battie which has an elevation of almost 800 feet.  There are hiking trails to the top or you can drive to the top.  After breakfast, Opal jumped into the truck, and off we drove to check out the view.  In the parking lot at the summit, we both took out our cameras, put Opal on the leash, and walked over to see what there is to see.  Probably one of the prettiest sights we’ve seen or ever will see on the east coast.  Penobscot Bay with it’s dozens of islands stretching to the horizon lay below.  We could see Mount Desert Island at Acadia National Park in the distance.  At the foot of Mount Battie was the village of Camden, a beautiful New England town.  And all around us,were huge rock outcroppings with wild flowers and thick moss.  “Let’s not take any pictures now, while we have to take turns holding Opal’s leash.  We’re here for two weeks, we’ll give Opal some time, then put her back in the trailer and come back up and play with the cameras.”  “OK, sounds good to me!”  Note: They didn’t ask me!

We walked around at the summit for a bit and talked with a lady who was there from Chicago with her son and daughter-in-law.  Seeing the Maine coast had been on her bucket-list for years and she was enjoying every minute of her visit.  Driving back down the mountain, I mentioned to Chari that being mid-day it was getting kind of hazy. Rather than putting Opal back in the trailer, why not take Opal for a drive and enjoy some of the coastal countryside. We could come back up another time. Hey, I like that idea!  We headed up US 1.

wildflowers, Mount Battie, Maine

Wildflowers On Top Of Mount Battie

daisies, macro photography

Daisies Of The Field

wildflowers, Maine

Wild, Wild Rose

wildflowers, Maine

Lovely Lupine

wildflowers, Maine

Wildflowers Near Kayak Ducktrap Launch

photography, Penobscot River

Wide Angle View Of The Penobscot River Valley

lupines, old boat, Maine

Summertime In Maine

Of course there had to be a history lesson too. We stopped at an overlook near the Penobscot River and learned about the Penobscot Expedition of 1779, the most disastrous naval engagement of the Revolutionary War. This is where the Colonial Navy with 2,000 men and 40 ships failed to capture Fort George in Castine. Fort George was manned by 750 British troops and 7 ships. After two weeks in a stand off situation the Colonial Navy initiated battle but were repelled.  Finding themselves trapped upriver by British reinforcements the colonists took radical steps.  To prevent their ships from being captured the colonists burned, beached or sank their ships then struggled to return to home via land. Paul Revere was part of this expedition and was censured for his action.

lobster boat, Maine

Lobster Boat Photo In Granite


Maine Lake Ice Company 1900-1916

old ships, Americas Cup, sailing, Maine

The Defender

Another overlook had a monument to the four primary industries of the area: lobster fishing, granite quarrying, ice harvesting and timber. The Maine Lake Ice Company shipped over 120,000 tons to Baltimore, Washington DC, the Caribbean and even South America. The area is also known for ship building and seamanship. In 1895 and 1899 the Defender won the Americas Cup manned by sailors from Stonington and Deer Isle.

A few hours later, after stopping several times to take pictures of the beautiful area (seascapes, wild flowers, scenic buildings) and a couple times to let Opal run around on the beach, we found ourselves in Stonington on Deer Isle.  You know, it’s going to take us a couple of hours to get back, and I won’t really feel like firing up the grill.  What do you say we save the pork chops for tomorrow, and find ourselves a nice lobster dinner right here? “Chari held out her wrist to me…  Twist my arm!

We stopped at a local restaurant called The Fisherman’s Friend. The waitress brought us to her favorite table in a corner overlooking the harbor. The lobster boats were tied up at their moorings.  You can’t get lobster any fresher than this. We started out with a beer and some delicious cornbread.  Then came a plate of steamers (half clams and half mussels) with a cups of broth and melted butter.  Chari had never eaten steamers.  You’re gonna like this,  I told her.  Once again, I was right!  Where have these been (the mussels) all my life? Boy, I’ve missed out on some great stuff. Then came the main dish.  We both chose the “Lazy Man’s Lobster”, shelled lobster pieces, sautéed in butter, covered with a crab stuffing and baked.  Absolutely decadent!  The servings were plentiful.  We were too full to even think about dessert although a local specialty called Grape-Nuts pudding sounded scrumptious.

Before leaving, we checked out the ferry terminal there at Stonington where sometime in the next two weeks we would take a boat out to Isle Au Haut.  Halfway home we stopped to give Opal another run on a beach.

A little TV and then to bed.  A very simple day. Exciting?  No.  Fantastic?  You betcha!

Cameras:  More than we can afford.

Dinner with a view:  About a hundred bucks!

The day:  Priceless!