A Vagabond Life

Our view can change when we want it to!

Category: Food

July’s Journey through Northern New England

It’s hard to believe we’ve been on the road for 12 months. After 25,000 miles, the Vagabond tour reached far into New England and the furthest northeast one can go in Continental US.

July travels began by visiting family at Camp Wulamat on Newfound Lake in New Hampshire. It’s an old boys camp from the 1920s that converted to a family camp after WWII. This is my boyhood summer stomping ground. After 53 years, my sister still vacations here each summer with her family and stays in the same barebones cabins that have been on the property for 90 years. Little changes at Camp Wulamat. The biggest change this year was a wall mounted light switch in the toilet room (there’s just a toilet). It replaced a pull string light that was installed in the 1940s.

We traveled northeast to Maine where we visited friends. Richard and Diane were our neighbors in Arizona over the winter and were fantastic hosts in ME. Diane kept us well fed, and we slept in a real bedroom in a real house! Our side trips with Richard and Diane took us to the LL Bean store (a must for any ME tourist) and to the rocky Maine coast where we went to see the site of the first ME settlement in 1607, which became Fort Popham, a military coastal defense site dating back to the Civil War.

No visit to Maine is complete without a trip to Acadia National Park. We know this is true because every tourist in the state was at the park the same day we were there, at least that’s what it seemed. The scenery was spectacular despite masses of people who had no clue what a crosswalk is used for.

The next day we had a wonderful lobster and steamer lunch with friends Cindy and Kris at their lovely cottage on Penobscot Bay in Belfast. Their warmth and hospitality was truly amazing and we lost track of time – the wine may have had something to do with that.

Having seen the coast, we spent the next week camping in the interior at Great Pond Recreational Area. This is one of those military good deals. It’s a family campground for service people and their families located about 50 miles northeast of Bangor. The camp is nestled among thousands of acres of rugged land owned by the Navy, and it’s on a large mostly undeveloped lake. Nice and quiet!

Our last week in ME was spent in Lubec, one of the most beautiful spots I’ve ever seen. The town rests on the Bay of Fundy where the largest tidal changes in the world occur twice a day. Lubec is a historic town in that at one time it was the sardine capital of the world and sported the world’s first sardine canning factory. The waters were fished out by the 1960s and the town has since declined. Now it’s a budding artist community and a center for lobster fishing.

Lubec is also were you’ll find the West Quoddy Head Lighthouse, farthest eastern point as one can travel in the continental US. The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Bridge connects the town to Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada. We couldn’t resist saying the Vagabond Tour was international so we crossed the bridge and spent a pleasant day touring the island and visiting FDR’s summer home.

Eastern Maine is also home to Wreaths Across America. This military friendly organization provides millions of Christmas wreaths for Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, DC. The family who owns the company provided a free concert for military personal including retirees. Daria and I enjoyed an evening on the lawn listening to Kansas play their hit songs from the 70s and 80s.

The last two days in July, we traveled west along scenic Route 2 through New Hampshire and past Mt. Washington before entering Vermont. Our destination was Burlington on Lake Champlain, and more specifically, the vast Shelburne Museum south of the city. That’s all for now!

 

The Land of Lobsta and Chowda

Last munth, we went to da fish maaket and bought lobsta, chowda and clamcakes. We took it back to ouwa campa and had a wicked feast!

If you haven’t guessed where we are, I’ll give you a clue. It isn’t Alabama. Okay, here is another hint. When you try changing lanes on the highway, putting your blinker on doesn’t help.  In fact, it causes the car a quarter-mile back to step on the accelerator and pass before you can move over.

We’re in New England – my boyhood home! I was born and raised in Little Rhody (Rhode Island). Yes, RI is small, but it has a lot of charm. We’re back visiting family, friends, and eating all the fresh seafood we can get hold of. For those who think I married a girl from Texas to compensate for growing up in the smallest state in the nation, you can forgetaboutit!

I’m proud of my New England heritage. Everyone knows it’s the Super Bowl Champion Capital of the World. Each season NFL teams compete to see who will lose to the New England Patriots. It’s also home to the famous Boston Red Sox and Fenway Paak, the oldest ballpark in major league baseball. We have Bruins hockey, the oldest NHL team in the US, and the Boston Celtics, who hold the most championships in the NBA.

Our first NE stop was on the border between Connecticut and Rhode Island. We had the distinct pleasure of spending the weekend camping with my cousin Mary Ann and her partner Dennis. My Aunt Elaine also came for a day (aunt is pronounced “au” like taunt, not “a” like ant). We had a blast catching up and telling old stories.

I reminded Mary Ann when I was a toddler she and my sister thought it was a good idea to leave me alone at a playground hoping someone takes me so they wouldn’t have to babysit anymore. I didn’t know what to do and started running around screaming until a neighbor stopped me and walked me home. The experience traumatized me for life! (not really).

Our next stop was Fourth Cliff Family Recreation Area about 50 miles south of Boston on the Atlantic Ocean.  This area was the mecca for shipping and shipbuilding in the 18th and early 19th centuries. During WWII, the area was part of the Harbor Defenses of Boston. It consisted of an early radar, fire control towers, and artillery batteries. Today, it’s a recreation area for military personnel and their families. The 270-degree water views afford some the best scenery and gorgeous sunsets on the east coast.

July 31 marks our one year anniversary on the road! We’re preparing a special blog in celebration.

 

Day 121: The November Blog

We intended to blog more often than once per month. Where does the time go? Here’s what we’ve been up to since leaving Corpus Christi in mid-October.

We first stopped at our old stomping ground in Medina, Texas, where we caught up with friends and attended the wedding of Tim and Gali Showell. It was a gala country wedding with Travis Klaassen performing the ceremony.

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Medina is also building a new fire house and we saw the building being framed. This was a long time coming. I was in the fire department as a board member five years ago when a new fire house was in the wishful thinking stage. Communities like Medina have no local government funding for their departments. All the money comes from the local community and an occasional grant from the forestry service. Kudo’s to Medina!

We headed west after leaving Medina. How far west was still unknown at the time. We needed to decide where to spend the winter.  Wherever we ended up was going to be on US soil, have a reasonably warm climate, and decent shopping. We turned the trailer toward the setting sun and off we rolled!

One of our favorite stops along the route was in Fort Davis, Texas. This mountainous area is a blend of drop-dead gorgeous scenery, frontier military history and recent space-age technology.

Fort Davis was formally a rough-and-tumble boarder settlement originally known as Chihuahua.  The military post of Fort Davis was established on the site of an earlier Indian village called Painted Comanche Camp. The National Park Service calls Fort Davis one of the best surviving examples of an Indian Wars’ frontier military post in the Southwest. From 1854 to 1891, the fort protected emigrants, mail coaches, and freight wagons on the Trans-Pecos portion of the San Antonio-El Paso Road and on the Chihuahua Trail. This road was also used extensively by prospectors heading west seeking their fortune during the California Gold Rush. Now it was our stop west.

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Old becomes new about 20 miles northwest of Camp Davis at the site of the McDonald Observatory. The site is part of the University of Texas at Austin, College of Natural Sciences. Davis Mountains offered some of the darkest skies in the continental United States. The first telescope was erected in the late 1930s and much more has been added since.

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Today, the observatory offers a wide range of state-of-the-art instrumentation for imaging and spectroscopy; the 0.8 m Telescope, the 2.1 m Otto Struve Telescope, the 2.7 m Harlan J. Smith Telescope, and the 10 m Hobby-Eberly Telescope; 1 m node of the globally networked Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope (LCOGT), one of two robotically controlled 1.2 m MOnitoring NEtwork of Telescopes (MONET), a 0.51 m telescope dedicated to optical aeronomy, and one of four globally networked Robotic Optical Transient Search Experiment (ROTSE) telescopes. The observatory also operates one of the first and most productive lunar ranging stations. Don’t ask what any of this means but it’s all very impressive to look at!

Heading west for a few more days and we found ourselves in Tucson, Arizona. There is a lot to see in the area and we were told temperatures rarely get into the 30’s. So, we decided to say here for the winter. That being said, the last two nights have been near freezing!

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Another attraction of Tucson is that Las Vegas is less than a one day drive. The Arizona state highway from Tucson to Vegas goes through beautiful desert and mountainous terrain and the scenery is spectacular.  This makes visiting my parents very easy and we traveled to them over Thanksgiving week. The food alone was worth the trip (just joking of course!). The Care Package my mother gave us to take back only lasted a few days. We plan to bring a bigger cooler next time.

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Day 28: What’s for Breakfast?

Do you wonder what we eat in this Vagabond lifestyle? I’ll start out by saying every meal has to be carefully planned out do to our micro-kitchen and the outdoor grills we’re cooking on. This is something I had to adjust to very quickly. I found a lot of help on Pinterest and RV related websites.

Cooking inside is difficult in the south in the summer. The heat builds up too quickly in the camper. We have a handy two burner camp stove and this is how most of our meals are cooked. The small Weber charcoal grill also gets a lot of use. The best kitchen appliance we brought along is the crockpot. Anything can be cooked in it.

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Our breakfast is typically eggs, bacon or sausage, hash browns, toast, or perhaps we create a breakfast taco. Bagels and yogurt parfaits work when the weather is bad or we’re in a rush.

Lunch is easy. We have either leftovers or sandwiches. There’s a small microwave in the camper that we use occasionally to warm up food. The problem with the microwave is that it pulls so much amperage we have to shut the air conditioning off or the breaker trips.

Dinners are a varied mix of everything you can imagine; Italian sausages with peppers and onions, fish tacos with fresh fish, pasta and sauce (which I made and froze), Arroz con Pollo, pork chops and pot roast in the crockpot, steak, hamburgers, grilled chicken, pizza on the grill, etc. I’ve also tried several recipes I found on the internet; beef cabbage roll casserole, beefy cheesy low-carb green chili bake, and crock-pot chicken and stuffing.

We’re not skimping because of our tiny home – we’re just planning carefully. Cookies would taste good about right now, but it’s too hot to bake anything. Rick would like ice cream, but there really isn’t enough room in the freezer (he says we can make room).

We’re also grateful to have been invited to friends’ house for dinner! A big thanks to the Schwan’s and Dosev’s who invited us to dine with them in their beautiful homes.

Bon Appetite!

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