Sunset in PV

Sunset in PV

Thursday, June 23, 2011

June 23, 2011 "America - Our Homeland"

If you have been following us for the past 3 or 4 months, you already know that we have visited many of the historical sites that helped form our great nation; some inspiring, others devastating. But the one common thread was they are what shaped and formed our homeland.

During our journey, CC and I have witnessed a vast amount of knowledge, history, geography and had human interaction with persons of different cultures and socio-economic backgrounds. While this blog is in no way a political statement or platform, in keeping with our mission statement of finding "obscure diamonds in the rough", the following article summed up our travel observations of the past 3 months. Just click on the image below to enlarge and make it readable.

I'd like to know how you feel. Is this the way you perceive America today? Just leave a comment. I'm just curious what you think, and hear your thoughts; pro or con.

Until next time, take care and stay well.....................

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

June 13 - 20, 2011 "Florida (NY) to Niagara Falls, NY"

The tour bus picked us up at the rig at 7:45 am, and it was off to the Big Apple. A few minutes later we were solidly in the middle of a traffic jam that took nearly an hour to clear, so our arrival time in NYC was 10:15 am, and we were soon standing in Times Square. (As usual, click on any image to enlarge).

Next stop; Ground Zero. Words alone cannot describe the emotional feeling of standing on the same ground that cost over 3,000 Americans their lives, at the hands of lunatic religious zealots, that have no respect for human life, no matter how strong their tainted beliefs are. Partial justice has been served, thanks to our well trained Navy SEALS, but we, as Americans, should not rest, until all of those responsible for this cowardly, evil act are brought to justice.

The cross is an actual piece of the World Trade Center, and on the left side is an actual piece of one of the ill-fated planes. It will stand as a reminder for generations to come, of the worst terrorist attack on US soil since Pearl Harbor, and for those old enough to remember, the outcome of that cowardly action involved the Enola Gay.

Liberty State Park, on the shores of New Jersey, acted as a morgue in the days following 9/11, where family members would come and pick up the remains of loved ones. To think back, in the early 1900’s, this was the site that LEGAL immigrants departed via train, after they were admitted into the US from Ellis Island; what a dichotomy.

After going through TSA security, we boarded the ferry for the short ride to Ellis Island. (Leave those knives, fingernail files, and tweezers at home, if you want to keep them.)

Another short ferry ride to the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island. I had not been here since 1965, and was surprised to learn that if one wanted to go to the top of Miss Liberty, a special ticket was needed. No extra cost involved, but reservations need to be made months in advance, as only a few hundred visitors a day are allowed into the crown. Why are there seven points on the crown? Pop quiz to follow.

From the shores of Liberty Park, a view of Manhattan, and the Empire State Building. A memorial to 9/11 is being erected here, and visitors will be able to view Manhattan, looking through the monument, at the skyline that existed before that dreadful day; opening is scheduled for 2013

Back on the bus at 5:30 pm, we arrived back at Black Bear Campground shortly before 7 pm. The cost for all of this, you asked? A mere $90 per person, with our super informative and funny tour guide, Al Kaufman.

Today we traveled from Black Bear, via I-17, to Endicott, NY, not only the home of IBM, but our new home as well, at Pine Valley Campground. Aaahhhhhh!!!! I needed this. Initially we had planned on staying for two nights, but the weather and scenery were so perfect, we extended for two more. We both agreed, this little campground was really a diamond in the rough, and we can highly recommend it to anyone; as close to a 10 as we have found.

After a day of R&R, we ventured to Watkins Glen. CC and I were both amazed at the numerous waterfalls cascading down the gorge.

We then proceeded to tour a few of the 34 wineries located on the hillsides of beautiful Lake Seneca. After stopping and doing some wine tasting, and purchased a few bottles, we departed for the 90 minute drive back to our home. Since I was the designated driver, I sampled, but did not swallow; I left that task to CC. (OK Carl, Rick, Dave, Terry or George; no comments on that last statement. This blog is Rated RV-13)

Travel days come too quickly, but we have places to go and people to see. We departed Endicott via I-17 in route to Niagara Falls, and got set up at our new home for the next few days, the AA Motel and Campground. (Definitely NOT a 10, but one of the closest RV parks to the Falls in the area, and NOT a bargain at $49.95 per night for 30 amp service)

We decided on the four hour tour of Niagara Falls that departed at 5:30 pm, and doing so would give CC the opportunity to see the falls illuminated at night. I think I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Thus ends our Eastern Adventure. Tomorrow we venture westward, back to God’s country. Thanks for stopping by. Until next time, take care and stay well………………….

Sunday, June 12, 2011

June 7 - 12, 2011 "Atlantic City to Florida (NY)"

We departed Bull Run Regional Park in Centreville, VA at 10:00 am, hoping to miss rush hour, but that wasn’t the case. Stop and go traffic as we skirted around Washington DC on I-495, it finally broke as we neared Baltimore, but only briefly, and we were once again in the yin and yang of it. Our Garmin Nuvi said it was 169 miles to Atlantic City, with an ETA of 1:30 pm, but we decided to stop for lunch and quench the thirst of Ms. Sol Crucero just north of Baltimore in Aberdeen, MD.

Finding a gas station with easy in and out accessibility for the rig plus toad is always a challenge when you’re pushing 60 feet in length.  Sometimes we get lucky and find one in close proximity to a large parking lot to have lunch, as was the case today.
Back on the road, passing through Delaware and into New Jersey, we finally arrived at our home for the next few days, Chestnut Lake RV Park, shortly after 3:30 pm. After getting set up, we were both ready for an adult beverage, as the temp was 101. Today was a first in our travels; moving through four states in one day.

Since the temps were again predicted to be above the century mark, we decided to enjoy the air conditioning in Atlantic City at Harrah’s. Signing up for a player’s club card entitled us to a coupon book with $10 in free play each, and coupons for free drinks and half price meals. It also contained a free parking pass. This is the first casino I have ever been to that charged for parking, but this is NJ, and these Northeasterners NEVER miss an opportunity to charge for something, that anywhere else, would be free; Capitalism is alive and well in Atlantic City. Did I mention the $50 in tolls we paid to get here from Washington DC? (As usual, click on any image to enlarge)

We managed to play and stay cool for about five hours and after being down $$$, CC hit four aces with a kicker on $0.25 Video Poker, which paid $500. She immediately hit the cash out button, and said to me, “We’re outta here”; Right, no argument from me.

The following day, the weatherman again predicted temps of 100 and above, so after some much needed provisioning and lunch, ventured to Bally’s, another coupon casino, to take advantage of the cool and free play/parking. Today was my lucky day, hitting four aces for $300, we decided it was time to rat hole our winnings and head for the house around 5:30 pm. All in all, we had a hot time in Atlantic City.
Another hectic travel day already? We were both a little nervous about navigating both Newark, NJ,  and The Big Apple, on the Garden State Parkway,  so CC routed us around both on I-287. A wise choice as it turned out, traffic was moderate but no delays, and we managed to make it to our new home at Black Bear Campground, in Florida, NY by 2:00 pm.
Upon check-in, we received a booklet entitled, “Orange County Travel Guide”, and inside the cover were listed the top ten things to do. To my amazement, Orange County Choppers was listed. For those of you unfamiliar with this establishment, they have a TV show, “AmericanChopper “, on the Discovery Channel. 

One of the bikes on display is the one they built to honor the Police and Firefighters that perished on 9/11. There are a total of 20 – 30 bikes on display, but this one has a special place in the showroom, and I can only imagine, in Paul Sr’s heart as well.

This is one that I had not seen on the show, probably because it’s a bicycle, but it does showcase the talent and creativity of Orange County Choppers.

Tomorrow, we are going to The Big Apple to see The Statue of Liberty, Rockefeller Center, The Empire State Building, Ellis Island, Times Square, Ground Zero, Fifth Avenue and The Theatre District (my personal favorite (?). It should be a busy day, as we will be leaving here at 7:30 am and returning around 6 pm.

Until next time, take care and stay well………………………….

Monday, June 6, 2011

June 1 - 6, 2011 "Washington DC"

The broken record plays the same song again, “Where has the time gone?” A week in the Washington DC area, and trying to see so much is insane. Who me? OK, I’m guilty. For those of you that are planning a visit here, be VERY, VERY selective on exactly what you want to see and do, as there is far more here than can be accomplished in a week, or for that matter a month; just so much history here to absorb (the easy part) and try to understand. For those of you that have been to any one of the 19 Smithsonian’s, you can relate, and for those that haven’t, trust me, your brain will feel like it wants to burst, and if you walk the town, as we did, your entire lower body will be screaming at you in the morning.; that is, UNLESS you are used to walking 8 – 10 miles per day, then you should be fine.

On with the show. I have narrowed this blog entry down from over 200 photos that we took, which is in itself mind boggling, as everywhere one looks in this town, a Kodak moment arises. OK, OK, on to the snapshot of our visit.

Our home for the week is Bull Run Regional Park in Centerville, VA, about an hour drive west of downtown DC, almost due south of Dulles International Airport. The Smithsonian has opened a new Air and SpaceMuseum on the south end of Dulles, and being so close, we decided to take advantage of the opportunity. Admission to any of the Smithsonians are free, but at this Air and Space Museum there is a $15 charge for parking. Politics has found it's way into every aspect of our society. Is it only a tax if the Government CALLS it a tax? Or could it be a tax disguised as something else? Why don't they just come clean and call it what it is? Free admission but a charge for parking? Please. (As always, click on any image to enlarge.)

One of the historic planes on exhibit is the B-29 that flew the mission that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima Japan, to end World War II, the Enola Gay.

The Space section of the museum is large enough to house one of the Space Shuttles, the Discovery.

The following day, we decided to “Do the Monuments in DC”. We drove the Jeep into Arlington, VA to meet with one of Jason’s friend and classmate, Christy, who is now working for our Government in DC. CC and I are both very proud of the woman she has become, but knew from the beginning, when we first met her over 10 years ago, that she was cut from the “Right Stuff”. She graciously agreed to play “Tour Guide” and we are so grateful she did; it MADE our visit perfect. Here we are pictured in front of the WashingtonMonumentat the start of our 8 – 10 mile walking tour.

The National Mall, which is the area that contains most of the monuments, and runs from the Capitol on the East end, to the Lincoln Memorial on the West end, a distance of about 2 miles, with the Washington Monument and World War II Memorial located between the two. As a child, I had the opportunity to visit, and the only monument to any war at that time was the World War I Monument.

The World War II Monument was opened April 29, 2004, and it is truly a heart touching experience to experience the loss of over 400,000 of our brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for OUR freedom. To stand there in reflection, I have a hard time understanding how any US citizen could be critical of our Military, and the price they have paid to insure the many privileges that We, the living, enjoy day to day.

Another new monument to me, is that of the Korean War, in which both of our fathers served, and were lucky enough to come home to us in one piece. The memorial was dedicated on July 27, 1995.

The Viet Nam Veterans Memorial – The Wall USA, was dedicated on November 1, 1982.
By now, it’s time for a break, AND a bottle of water, a bargain (?) at $3 on the mall. At this point I’m thinking, OK, we’re about half way through the tour. Boy was I wrong. We still had another 5 – 6 miles to cover, so time to gather our tired bones, and hit it; on to the remainder of the Presidents Monuments.
The Lincoln Monument seems to be pale in comparison to the Washington, but only from a height perspective. I had to chuckle, as we climbed the stairs, and entered the memorial, there was a sign that read, “Quiet Please In Respect of Others”, HaHaHAHa, it sounded like an NBA Playoff game in there. Either there are more illiterate people in the US than I thought, OR people don’t know how to be respectful, OR the signs are meant for everyone BUT them, the self proclaimed privileged few; I surmise a combination of the latter two.

There is a lot of construction going on in the area, new and that of a refurbishing type, so the walk to the Jefferson Memorial was quite a hike, considering the World War I Monument was fenced off, and we had to walk around. Next detour was a fence around the construction of the new Martin Luther King memorial, due to open later this year. Around the lake, bordered by Japanese Cherry Trees (not in bloom dang it) we made our way to the FranklinDelano Roosevelt Memorial.

More construction in route to the Jefferson Memorial, altered our path, but we were determined to make it. Jefferson was, in my opinion, the one person that made our country what it is as we know it, as author of the Declaration of Independence, served as third President of the US and commissioned the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Now, only a mile walk to the Metro. Get home, get some rest, for another day tomorrow.
We had plans to meet another friend, and former roommate, Gretchen, and catch up on what we have missed since seeing her last. I won’t go into any details here, but she is one tough lady, a side of here we had never known. We played phone tag all day long, and finally made plans for dinner. It was fantastic seeing her again, and re-acquainting. The meal was secondary to the visit, and it ended much too soon, but all good things must come to an end. Take care of yourself and those precious kids.

OK, back to DC, and the Smithsonian Museum(s). This is where I really had to cull pictures, but I’ll post a few “teaser shots”. The Smithsonian Cathedral houses the Visitors Center.

The most famous diamond in the world, the Hope Diamond.

Probably the most photographed house in the world, wasn’t high on my list of “must see’s”, but, as long as we were here, coupled with the fact that this was CC’s inaugural visit to DC, I succumbed to the pressure, and the walk, and made our way to The White House, home to the President.

A personal observation on Washington DC. This place is so out of touch with reality it amazes me. Walking through the Georgetown area, we noticed a gas station selling regular unleaded for $5.09 a gallon, while just 45 minutes west, close to where we are staying, it is selling for $3.69. CC and I had lunch at one of the Smithsonian Museum Cafes, and it was $26 for two sandwiches, 1 small bag of chips, and one iced tea; and I might add the sandwiches were not near as good as the pre-made ones you buy at 7-11 out of the cooler. The attitude of residents of the area seem to be, "What's your problem, pay up". So my question would be, does THIS Governments attitude toward money affect society, OR does societies attitude toward money affect this Government?

CC and Christy, looking like they have just swallowed the Hope Diamond!
Whew……………..(deep breath)……………What a week! Tomorrow, we have decided to move about 220 miles north to Atlantic City, for a little R&R. I can only speak for myself, but I need a little time to download. Until next time, take care, stay well, and thanks for dropping by.