Port Huron, MI, Grand Island, NY (Niagara Falls US & Canadian), Bennington, VT and York, ME (Chapter 3)
August 23, 2018 thru August 31, 2018
After making a long drive from Mackinac, MI, we arrived in Port Huron early afternoon. This stop was planned as just an over-night stay to rest. It was a nice clean, inexpensive RV park with a Cracker Barrel Restaurant in walking distance. We drove around the town, visited the Great Lakes Maritime Center (http://achesonventures.com/MaritimeCenter.aspx) and talked to a volunteer that shared interesting information. We spent time at Pine Grove Park, sitting on a bench watching large vessels, sail boats and jet skis in the St. Clair River. We also saw many fishermen fishing along the public sidewalk that runs along the River. It was a nice day and an enjoyable evening.
The next morning, Friday, August 24, we departed Port Huron about 8:30 am. Bill had purchased a Zray Drift inflatable kayak through a Canadian Costco and had it delivered to a mail center across the border in Sarnia, Canada to hold for our pickup. So we left Port Huron and crossed over the bridge to Canada where we picked up the kayak and continued our road trip to Grand Island, New York, our base for visiting Niagara Falls.
Cinderella Motel and Campground, Grand Island, NY (2-Night’s Stay) http://www.cinderellacampground.com/:
Karen honestly had a little trepidation with just the name of the campground, especially since our bicycles were nearly stolen at the first motel/campground we stayed over-night at the beginning of this road trip whose campsites were also behind a motel. Bill said the reviews were really good on RV Park Reviews, it is also a Passport America park, and the pictures were nice. Everything he read is confirmed . . . it was a very pleasant, small campground, with a large treed park in the center with a covered pavilion, the sites and park were clean, and the office staff was friendly. We met a nice man from Rochester, NY who was raised in Niagara. He was there with his wife and sister-in-law who were camping for the weekend to shop at the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls.
Our first evening in Grand Island, we drove over to the Canadian Niagara Falls. The drive into the area was beautiful. Niagara Parkway is beautifully landscaped, a large treed park on the Falls’ side follows along with nice paved walkways. The Canadian falls area has many nice hotels, restaurants and the Skylon observation tower, similar to Reunion Tower in Dallas and the Tower of Americans in San Antonio. There are plenty of Public parking lots and it’s a good thing because there are lots of people. We parked in the Falls’ Parking (Lot A) and luckily got a parking spot just across the street from the Queen Victoria Place that houses the “Journey Behind the Falls,” the Elements on the Falls Restaurant, views of the Horseshoe Falls and most of the other main attractions.
In our opinion, no photo, no video, nothing you see on television or at the movies can depict the beauty of Niagara Falls, the feel of the water spraying on your face from the force of the water falls and “yes,” even the crowds and excitement from people all over the world. We were fortunate to see a large, distinct rainbow hovering over the Horseshoe Falls and the Hornblower Tour boat as it stopped at the foot of the Falls. When we first planned our trip, our thought was that we have seen many nice water falls, what’s another one? We were wrong. Niagara Falls is so much more than just another falls and we were so happy to have planned this visit on our road trip.
You will see three falls: the Horseshoe Falls (the largest), the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls, all magnificent. The Horseshoe Falls is on the Canadian side, however, you can see the American and Bridal Veil falls across the River. We were fortunate to be able to view the Canadian Side of the Falls from above and behind by taking the self-guided tour “Journey Behind the Falls.” We viewed the 360 degree falls’ view from the restaurant where we had dinner, “Elements on the Falls,” and watched when they were illuminated with colored spotlights. We ended our evening seeing the Falls surrounded by fireworks that lit up the sky and made the illuminated falls even brighter in color.
On Saturday, we toured the American side of Niagara Falls. The Falls are just as magnificent as the Canadian side. We took the Maid of the Mist tourist boat that takes you right up to the Falls and we were very happy to have taken the boat ride. However, as Americans, we were disappointed that it was not near as nicely landscaped surrounding the tourist’s areas and the trails/park to the Falls. There were many areas around the Falls that were under construction with construction barriers.
At this portion of our road trip we have seen or crossed over all Five Great Lakes. Beginning with Lake Superior at the Soo Locks, Lake Huron in Mackinac, Lake Michigan across the Mackinac Straits, Lake Ontario visible from the road as we cut across Canada on our way to Niagara Falls and Lake Erie with our travels around Buffalo, New York. Four of the five Great Lakes (Superior, Michigan, Huron and Erie) drain into the Niagara River before emptying into Lake Ontario.
Sunday, August 26, we departed Grand Island, NY and headed to our next stop in Bennington, VT.
We did not have specific things to see at our next 2-night’s stay, so Karen did Internet searches while Bill drove to Vermont. One of the things that was interesting and something neither of us knew before, the area in which we were staying is called the Shires of Vermont Byway – Quintessential New England. “It’s named for the scenic region it passes through in southwestern Vermont. This beautiful region – nestled between the Taconic and Green Mountains – has the unusual distinction of having two shire towns, historically referred to as county seats. Anchored by Bennington, the South Shire, and Manchester, the North Shire, 15 quintessential Vermont towns and villages are connected by the scenic ribbon of highway known as Historic Route 7A. Surrounded by mountains and enriched by the waters of the famous Batten Kill that runs through the valley, The Shires has long been a popular four-season destination for those seeking the authentic Vermont experience.”
Greenwood Lodge and Campsites, Woodford (Bennington), VT (2-Night’s Stay) https://campvermont.com/greenwood/: Woodford is located in the Southshire, just outside of Bennington. The campground is adjacent to The Green Mountain National Forest. The description and photos on the Campsites’ website (link above) were on-point! As we drove into our campground, we were a little concerned with the first signage for “Prospect Mountain Ski.” It looked like abandoned and not very well-kept area, although, we realized that it is August and we understood the slopes would not be in-use. However, as we followed the gravel road leading to Greenwood Lodge and Campsites, we immediately saw the beauty of the surroundings.
Ed, Ann-wife, Chris-son, are pleasant, friendly owners who keep the property prestigious and maintain the beautiful trails. There are two ponds and they allow free usage of the canoes and offer life jackets. There was a creek close to our campsite and the sounds of the trickling water running over the creek rocks was peaceful. Greenwood is a remotely located campground on several acres of forest land and there is no mobile phone service from our provider AT&T but their Wi-Fi signal was strong, unlike many of the campgrounds we visit that advertise “free” Wi-FI and there is weak or no connection. Our site had water/electric only, no sewer connection, but a dump-station was conveniently located. Ed explained that Prospect Mountain Ski is no longer a commercially run resort, but now a not-for-profit, owned by the Schools/Colleges and used for events and cross-country ski-class training.
For dinner our first night, Ed recommended the Publyk House Restaurant. The patio dining views were so pretty with mountains and the Bennington Battle Monument in the distance. Their “all you can eat” salad bar was really good and Karen wishes she would have just ordered the salad bar. The baked cod was delicious and Bill enjoyed scallops, it was just a lot of food!
Early Monday, we drove to visit the Bennington Battle Monument http://benningtonbattlemonument.com/index.html a 306 foot tall structure with an elevator taking visitors up 200 feet (the last 100 feet is used for service only) for magnificent views. Wall-mounted maps provided descriptions of what you see in each direction from the tower.
We also drove to the three (3) red covered bridges that were located closest to us: Silk Road Bridge, Paper Mill Bridge (lots of construction around this bridge) and our favorite was Henry Bridge which has a creek running underneath and provides a larger parking area so visitors can spend more time for photos. The other two bridges only offered a small off-the-road pull-over that discouraged spending much time. The bridges are active in service crossings to the river and it was cool to be able to actually drive into these historic covered bridges.
On our way to Arlington we stopped by a Mom/Pop country store (located behind their home) for the infamous Vermont Syrup. The owner was pleasant and showed us his Christmas tree farm in the acres behind his country store and house. He explained that he gets his trees at their 12-16” stage of life, not from seedling and it takes 4 to 5 years before they are ready to harvest and sell.
One of the things listed “to-do,” in the area was to visit the Norman Rockwell exhibit in Arlington, just a short drive from Bennington. It was a little disappointing in that it was more of a gift-souvenir shop. However, they did have both a dedicated exhibit room of reproductions and a quite interesting 16-minute film running in the barn for visitors to watch the life of Norman Rockwell. The barn also included their machinery used to make the homemade syrup and has a display of small bottles of the various types of syrups displayed with a poster describing each. The gift-souvenir shop had a full room of copies of Rockwall’s art for sale, they sold hand-dipped ice cream that Bill could not refuse, cheeses including smoked Virginia cheese for sale which Karen could not refuse. Overall it was a nice drive to Arlington with nice views of the small towns in the Shires.
Tuesday, August 28, we departed Woodford, VT for York, Maine. We were so happy that we purchased a dash-cam video camera that mounts to our windshield. Karen had attended a seminar at the FROG Rally where they demonstrated and explained how a dash-cam allows the RV Road Trippers to capture the beautiful roads while driving. The seminar described the importance of editing out the uninteresting portion of video and editing it down to a usable video covering highlights of your trip. We ordered a ROAV dash-cam through Amazon and had it delivered to our first over-night stop after the Rally. We are testing the dash-cam video camera at this time to evaluate if it will do everything we want it to do; in the meantime, it is capturing fabulous views on our drive out of Woodford through the little New England towns. Bill will not be editing the long recordings until we get back home from this road trip, we may possibly add YouTube links to our blog after the edits are complete.
Libby’s Oceanside Camp, York Maine (3-Night’s Stay) https://libbysoceancamping.com/:
Tuesday, August 28 we arrived early afternoon at our new destination. The area was under a “heat” advisory with temps at 83 degrees, feels like 95 degrees. It took a few hours to cool off the RV with all the shades pulled down from the hot sun. Libby’s is walking distance to Long Sands Beach, but this area of the beach has only a few restaurants and no retail shops along their seashore. Short Sands Beach is a short drive with public parking or a Trolley ride (Trolley stop in-front of Libby’s). Short Sands is a smaller beach and more crowded, but has nice retail shops and many restaurants, including many places to purchase ice cream, Bill’s top-of-the-list requirement, one retailer close to the beach also rents beach umbrellas.
Our first night we had a nice dinner at “Lobster Cove”, a restaurant walking distance from Libby’s on Long Sands Beach. However, since we had taken a 1.7 mile walk on the beach from our campground and were now too tired to take the 1.7 mile walk back, we jumped on a Trolley and had it stop at Lobster Cove. Our table had nice views of the Atlantic Ocean.
Dogs are allowed on the York beaches, but only at designated times (6 am-8 am and 6 pm – midnight). We took Gabby out on Wednesday morning just a little after the 8 am designated time and she had so much fun running (zoomies) and, trying to catch the seagulls. The beach had only a few people when out from no-where appeared a lifeguard who kindly told us that dogs were not allowed on the beach after 8 am. Gabby was able to play just long enough to exert her stored-up energy, and just long enough to get so sandy she needed a bath afterwards.
A neighboring camper we had met in Port Huron was from Maine and she had recommended visiting Ogunquit Beach. She mentioned a few shops and a Theater (http://www.ogunquitplayhouse.org/) that has good summer musicals/plays, many with Sally Struthers. “Grumpy Old Men” was playing through Labor Day weekend, but all of the performances were “sold-out” during the times we could have gone. Ogunquit is just a short drive from York and is more commercial with lots of cute shops, restaurants and nice sandy-beaches. This beach was the most-crowded of the York beaches we visited.
Our time in York was enjoyable and relaxing. The last night we learned there was a place to purchase fresh lobster right off the boat dock. It’s called “Off the Boat Lobster” https://offtheboatlobsters.com/, their story is interesting to read on their website and they will ship lobster.
Bill had not quite had his fill of lobster yet, although he had already had two at Lobster Cove and a lobster roll at the beach. So we drove the short distance to Off the Boat and were so happy we did. It is a beautiful area and the entire experience was really cool. This is not a restaurant, there is no place onsite to eat your lobster, but they will cook it right on the dock in pots heated by outdoor gas burners for you take home. We purchased four (4) 1 ½ pound soft-shell lobsters and took them back to the RV where we sat outside and ate them on our picnic table.
We drove over to Nubble Lighthouse which we had seen in the distance from York Long Sands Beach and the area surrounding the Lighthouse was scenic, beautiful; however, we were disappointed that Nubble Lighthouse is under major reconstruction, and was not open to the public. Karen was able to get a few nice pano pictures of the views.
Friday, August 31, 2018 off to . . . Tuxbury Pond RV Resort – South Hampton, NH, Chapter 4 of this road trip.
“Thus I establish My covenant with you; never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” Genesis 9:11