October 15th – A Lazy Sunday

Not a lot to report today.  I wanted to basically take a zero day for myself so the plan was to just drive to the next pick up place.  We met up and decided to head down to Roanoke for the afternoon.  We were in need of getting some laundry done which we were able to do.

We are going to spend the night in another Wal Mart parking lot.  We had to go there to get a new drain hose and it looked as convenient a place as any.  We had great cell signal so we both we able to catch up on some TV shows.

I’ll drive Janet back to the Parkway tomorrow and then head down to Danville where we’ll meet. I plan on taking in the Virginia Museum of Transportation tomorrow.  They are supposed to have some classic cars.  Either tomorrow or Tuesday we both will go check out Black Dog Salvage in Roanoke.

October 14th – A Daring Drive

Until we get to Roanoke, there is nothing but small towns to visit.  I had chosen Buchanon as one to visit as it had 6 antique stores all within a couple of blocks of each other on Main Street.  So I punched my information into Google Maps and away I went.  I followed a highway for a few miles and then was instructed to turn onto Mountain Pass Road which had a sign of “No Thru Trucks”.  As I wasn’t driving a truck I thought no problem.  I could see why they didn’t want trucks on the road because it was narrow and very curvy.  The maximum speed limit was only 35 mph.  It was a well paved road so it wasn’t too bad until I came across a local who obviously didn’t hold to the low speed limit.  Still no problem.

After I had gone some 25 miles I was instructed to turn left.  Now there was a large sign that stated “No Trucks – RV Not Recommended”.  So I had a quandary.  Go or not.  Well it was only 8 miles so I decided to go for it.  Not a smart idea on my part. Very steep inclines and LOTS of very sharp curves along with being very narrow.  I was truly happy when I made it to the end of that road.

So I hit the town and to my disappoint find out that 3 of the stores have gone out of business and two aren’t open.  I found out there was some big annual flea market down the road and those owners were out looking for bargain. Fortunately the Purgatory Emporium was open.  The lady who ran it was very pleasant and chatty.  I had a nice time talking with her.  There was nothing I was interested in buying, but had a fun time looking around.

I would say that 70% of the buildings on Main Street were empty.  The antique stores were about the only commerce going on.  There was a neat old drugstore I checked out because of the fountain sign.

I was hoping that it would be something like I remembered from Jayhawk Drugs when I was a kid.  It might have been at one time, but not now.  The drug store part was a total of 12 feet of shelving that was mostly empty. Anything over the counter medications they had was only a single package of each item.  There was still the old fountain, but it was more like a restaurant to take up the old drug store space.  I still thought the sign was neat.

Well I still had some time to kill so I decided to go check out one more store – Kelly’s Real Deal in Troutville.  This was one of those off the wall kinds of places you find every once in a while.  Can you make out the bucking bronco on the top of the building?

I’m not sure what this building was used for at one time, but they had some fun decorating the interior too.

This place was junk on top of junk.  I was able to find some more View Master discs to give to Violet.  Those things are very hard to come by.

I headed towards where I was to meet Janet at a trail head.  I thought the road I was on yesterday was scary, but Google Maps had a surprise in store in store for me that made that road seem really safe.  It was a gravel road.  That didn’t both me much as I have had a lot of good luck on those type roads with the RV. The problem came in that it was just as steep and curvy as the road was yesterday with a little something extra.  The road was barely more than one lane wide with a steep drop off on my right side.  That wouldn’t have been bad except there were a lot of hunters and fisherman out and they used the road too.  I think I meet 6 trucks on my way down.  I was lucky that all of them got themselves out of my way.  One poor guy had to back up at least a quarter mile where he could get off the roadway enough for me to pass.  He was the only one that looked upset.  Everything turned out just fine.

The trail head that Janet picked out was just perfect.  There was a nice level place to park the RV.  Traffic was very light on the road that goes by it.  I’m looking toward a great night’s sleep.

October 13th – Friday The 13th

The picture below tells the story of where I spent most of this day.  And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

That wasn’t all for me.  I had gone way south to Roanoke.  That meant I had to find my way to the Blue Ridge Parkway by myself.  My map of Virginia doesn’t show many of the access points and those that are the roads aren’t marked.  So I had to resort to Google Maps.  Evidently they don’t know where the access points are either.  I ended up going further south to get on the parkway when I need to go north.  I’m betting I went a good 30 miles out of my way.

There is no place to park overnight on the Parkway so Janet and I decided to stay at a campground. We found a KOA that wasn’t too far away.  Our thinking was that vacation season was over so we wouldn’t have any trouble getting a spot.  Wrong.  They were booked, but fortunately for us they did have an overflow spot with all hookups.  So we go about our normal routine of filling the water tanks and emptying the waste tanks.  Much to our surprise when we pull the drain hose out of the bumper, where it is stored, the end piece is missing and there’s bunch of holes in it.  Evidently someone switched our good one for their broken one at the storage lot.   And people say Friday the 13th is a silly superstitious – HA!

October 12th – Foiled Again!

Well last night was a real adventure.  The parking at the trail head was pretty slanted so we found a level place just across the two lane highway.  I thought this would be no problem since it was a two lane twisty turny country highway.  I expected little to no traffic.  I could not have been more wrong.  All night long 18 wheelers came by.  We were about half way up a long steep incline so the trucks were really straining to get up the hill which made for a lot of engine noise.  And we must have been parked under an oak tree because acorns kept hitting the roof.  They must have been big ones because they made a lot of noise.  I’m not sure if I ever got to sleep.

When Janet took off I headed for Lexington.  I was looking forward to visiting the George C. Marshall museum and the Virginia Military Institute museum.  Both are on the grounds of VMI.  Well guess what?  Once again I had the problem with parking.  Nothing was close to either one.  I could have parked in a lot about a mile away, but it was raining cats and dogs and I had no rainwear.  Foiled again!

So off I go to Duke’s Lexington Antiques.  I was hopeful they had a parking lot that would accommodate me and I was right.  It was a very eclectic place as you can tell from the outside.

I have seen so many Lionel trains and the individual cars are not that expense.  Lucky for Janet we have no room to put up a big track!

I thought these were cool but kind of creepy!

Now this was definitely creepy.  All of the things made from alligator skin.  I remember, as a kid, you could find baby alligators that had been taxidermized like the one on this display. You never see that anymore.

We really had cheesy Halloween masks when I was a kid.  I can’t believe we thought they were good.  Check out where the eyelashes are in relation to where the eyes would be.

I thought I had hit the promised land when I found this booth.  Someone who specialized in old metal beer trays. This vendor included information on each one as to the brewery, where it was located, and the approximate date the tray was distributed.  For the quality and rarity, I thought they were reasonably priced.  I picked out  5 of them with the intention to buy.  When I got near the checkout I turned around and put all back but one.  Maybe the hunting was too easy.

Hopefully our luck will run a little better tonight.  We are once again staying at a trail head, but this time we’re a mile off the highway on a gravel road in the middle of nowhere without cell service.  Fingers crossed!

October 11th – Virginia Again

We spent the last two days making the drive back to where I started with Janet in Virginia.  We spent those two nights at the scenic parking lots of a Wal Mart and a Lowes.  It still feels a little strange to spend the night in a place like that.

It was totally foggy when I let Janet off to start her hike for the day.  It was a little scary crossing a road when you couldn’t see more than 20 feet either way.  Thankfully everyone else was just as cautious as I was.

I had made a list of possible things to do along our expected trail before leaving home.  I decided to start with the place that was actually a little farther north of where our day started.  It was billed as America’s Largest Antique Mall in Verona, VA – The Factory Outlet Mall.

I can’t attest if it truly is America’s largest, but it certainly was much bigger than anything I had ever seen.  It took me about 2 ½ hours to walk the place.  It was the usual mx of real antiques and flea market items.  Many of the vendors specialized in a particular area which made the looking go a little faster.  One vendor had some rare metal toy cars and trucks.

This was an awfully fancy sled that I’m thinking disappointed some rich kid and that’s why it was still in good shape.  I’m not sure how much you could really steer it with the tiller.

It is impossible to visit one of these places with finding some Coca Cola stuff.  I’ve heard that there are lots of people that collect that stuff.  There must be people who collect Mr. Peanut stuff because that’s all one vendor had.

Can you find the Ernie the Keebler elf in this picture?   I remember getting on for Hillary when I worked in the stores.

If my brother-in-law, Dan, ever needs correct hub caps for his classic cars I know where to send him.

I was really blown away by this vendor.  Any board game I could remember was for sale in his area.  Of course there were a lot that I don’t think I had ever seen.  I didn’t realize that many 60’s TV shows also had board games – Beverly Hillbillies,  Ben Casey, Lassie, etc.  The picture below is maybe 10 percent of the number of games they had available.

I should have bought this one just for the nostalgia.  This is one I had never heard of before.  The box said “Easily the most exciting baseball game ever created”  Yeah sure!

Looking for that lunch box you had when you were a kid?  I’ll bet this guy had it for sale. This was just a small sampling of what was available.

I hadn’t seen one of this since I was poking around in the storage closet in my parent’s house.  It’s a record made from cardboard.  They did this during the material shortages of WWII.

Being in the South, there were a couple of vendors with Civil War stuff.  Very expensive.  A single bullet was $4.00.  I did see a piece of history that would have been neat to own for a history buff like me.  It is a real ticket to the Senate trial for the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson.  It was in pristine condition, but $975 was way out of my price range!

That was the problem with most things in the entire mall – high prices.  Once upon a time I thought about cladding something in old yardsticks like I had seen on Pinterest.  You can find those around KC for $2-3.  I came across a vendor here that had quite a few and asking $10-15.  For a yardstick!

I net headed off to Staunton to visit the library and museum of President Woodrow Wilson.  I have already been to ten of those across the country.  I had circled this as a “must do” on this trip.  Let me tell you that Staunton is a very picturesque city on the rolling foothills of the Shenandoah mountains.  As such, the streets have lots of ups, downs, and curves which makes driving a bit of a challenge in the RV.  Well I make it to the right location, but find there is absolutely no place to park the RV.  The streets might have been wide when people ran around in buggies, but not for today’s traffic.  Even if I had a car I would have had to park about a mile away in the only parking garage in the city.

With that disappointment, I headed towards where I was to meet Janet at the end of the day.  On my way there I came across another antique mall in Stuart’s Draft.

Does anyone, but me, remember this game?  I can’t recall what was so educational about it.

The cigarette ad states that “More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette” to give the impression that they must be safe.  I wonder how they slept at night?

When I first started working in a grocery store I worked in the produce department.  Back in those days all the potatoes came in 100 pound bulk bags and had to be bagged in 5 and 10 pound bags.  I must have done hundreds of those bags while doing that job.  If I had only known that 50 years later, one of those old burlap bags would be worth $75.   I could be on easy street now had I kept them all.

It is always easier in our travels if we can spend the night at the trail head where Janet stopped.  We are going to try that this evening.  I hope the lack of  parking lot lights don’t keep me awake.

September 2nd – Big Rock Candy Mountain

I checked this morning and I was 1,274 miles away from home!

Well I had a good night, but nobody else did.  It was chilly so we fired up our new electric heater.  It had us toasty warm as we sat around for the evening.  When it came time to go to bed it was decided to turn it down some so it wouldn’t get too hot.  The temperature was just perfect for me.  In fact, I pulled the blanket off of me a little.  This morning I found out that both Janet and Timeless (we didn’t want her to have to be out in the cold) had been very cold all night. All I can figure is that heat rises and Janet and I were up in the cab over bed.  I obviously was blocking the heat from getting to Janet.  Not the best start to their climb up Katadan.

I had some time to kill before meeting the ladies after their summit of Katadan.  I found a great spot next to a lake.

After checking out the lake, I cleaned all the windows and read the latest Travis McGee novel.  When I finished the book I still had several more hours to wait to I decided to head back to Millinocket so I could get cell signal and download the next books in the series.

As I was coming into the downtown area I saw this store.

It was a nice little antique store.  I got a chuckle when I saw a full compliment of the Pfalscraft (sp) plates that Janet and I had when we first got married.  That was over 30 years ago which would make them antiques I guess.  I found a nice beer tray for a brand I had never heard of before – Topper.  I found out later it was made in Rochester, NY.  It was a true bargain at $5.00.

When I went back to Baxter State Park I found a great place to park.  I only had to wait about 20 minutes before the ladies and their friend “Colonel” showed up. On the way back to town I stopped at the North Country Trading Post which I had found was a great souvenir store.  All three hikers found several items for purchase.  In front of the store was this local art.

Back in town we dropped off the Colonel and went to the Appalachian Trail Cafe so the ladies could sign the ceiling.  Only thru hikers get that privilege.  We all enjoyed a very nice meal of burgers and fries. I had Janet pose outside the cafe.

We drove to Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, ME to spend the night.  Timeless is going to spend a few days resting here.  We got a good look at the Atlantic Ocean.  Tomorrow we start winding our way back to Kansas.

I couldn’t be more proud of what Janet has accomplished.  It’s been great following along with her these several months.

September 1st – Much To My Surprise (Gordon Lightfoot)

Last night was a 3 blanket 2 dog night for me.  The wind was gusting so hard that the RV shook and the tree branches scrapped along the top.  The temperature was in the low 40’s so the wind chill was much lower coming off the lake.  It was so cold!

I had one of my sleepless nights I usually get after an infusion treatment so I was up early at 6:30 AM.  It was hard to get out from under those blankets.  I immediately started the truck and turned the heater on high.  I didn’t want to leave too early for Baxter Park so I took some time getting everything straighten up and did a little cleaning.

It was 8:30 AM and I was just about 5 minutes from taking off when I looked through the front window and to my surprise there was the lovely face of my wonderful wife.  Of course my first reaction was elation and then a concern that something was wrong.  I wasn’t supposed to see her at the campsite and that early in the morning.

I soon found out that conditions on Katadin were very bad and the ladies had made the wise decision to postpone their ascent until tomorrow.  The bonus for me was I got an unexpected whole day with Janet.

I mentioned to Janet that I had found a McDonald’s in Millenocket.  That’s all I had to say and we were off to get breakfast for everyone.  We stayed there for quite some time as we all ate our breakfast and published several days’ blogs.

As I had already scoped out the town I gave the ladies a little tour.  We took Angela by the bookstore so she could check it out.  She found it interesting enough to stay a half hour.  After that we did a little souvenir shopping and then off to the campground.

I think I have mentioned that there is some special events going on in town plus the Labor Day weekend that had all the campsites booked.  The only thing I could get was a spot in the overflow area of the Wilderness Edge Campground.  No services, but at least it was a safe place to stay.  I had a second stroke of luck for the day.  One of the campers isn’t coming in until tomorrow so one site was open for tonight with water and electricity.  I took it in a flash.  When the owner found out that Janet and Timeless were thru hikers she asked them to come into the store so she could take their pictures.  That something they have been doing since they bought the campground.  With electricity we will be able to run the electric heater I bought the other day.  No three blanket night tonight!


August 31st – Girls Just Wanna Have Lunch (Weird Al Yankovic)

Something of a restless night last night because of the dogs.  I always take them out around 8:30 PM so we have no issues, but last night Dodger woke me at 3:00 AM and needed to go out.  The wind was coming across the lake and made it very cold.  It took some time to warm back up.

Today was a cloudy, blustery day.  For most of the day the wind was really blowing.  That combined with the sun behind the clouds made it very chilly outside.  I heard that it was 43 degrees this morning.  Wind chill was much colder than that.

For most of the day this is the view I had of Katadin.

Finally around 4:00 PM the clouds started breaking up and this was the view.  Still couldn’t see the top, but I’m hoping that meant better weather for the ladies as they completed their hike today.

The ladies arrived a little after 10:00 AM.  Both were tired from hiking 30 miles yesterday.  They did that to have a shorter day today before the climb of Katadin on Friday, plus that would give them some time to spend with me.  It rained for a little bit just after they arrived so their timing was good.  I know that both enjoyed getting to sit down on our couches.  They spent quite a bit of time reviewing a map of Katadin.  There are multiple ways up and down and wanted to select the best for them.

We spent several hours just catching up on what each of us had done.  I was the only camper for most of the day so the ladies had the showers all to themselves.  All 160 gallons of hot water.

Normally the big meal of the day for them is dinner, but today it was lunch.  Caesar salad, rolls, and spaghetti & meat balls.  They did make a sandwich to take with them for dinner tonight.  Janet packed herself the usual goody bag of treats to take along.

This campground caters more to water sports than hikers.  Those are the type of campers that have been arriving during the day.  I did see 6 thru-hikers up at the campground store this afternoon taking a break before heading into Baxter Park.

I got this sticker for the back of the RV.  I thought it was perfect that it was a silhouette of a female hiker!

Janet had found a road that ran parallel to Golden Road that looked like it would take me to Baxter Park tomorrow.  I checked with the campground owner and found out how to connect with that road.  It appears Google did me wrong again.  I could have stayed on a paved road yesterday until I had gotten much closer to this campground and missed the worst road in Maine!

The plan for tomorrow is to get out of this campsite by 9:00 AM and make the trek over to the Information Center at Baxter Park.  Hopefully there will be some cell signal there so I can catch up on the news.  The ladies will meet me there once they come down the mountain.  We’ll then head into Millinocket to the Appalachian Trail Café to celebrate and for them to write their names in the ceiling.  Once the celebration is over we’ll go to the Wilderness Edge Campground where we have a spot in their parking area.  No hookups, but at least a place to stay for the night.  Saturday we head to Acadia National Park to say goodbye to Timeless and start traveling home to family and friends.

I forgot yesterday to include the beautiful sunset on the lake.

August 30th – Bless the Broken Road (Rascal Flatts)

We had a wonderful night in the Pratt Brook campsite.  We were so far off the road that we had no traffic at all.  The night was cool, but warmer than it had been the last several days.  The ladies planned on a 30 mile day so they hit the trail pretty early after a couple of cups of coffee.

There was nothing for me to do but head towards Millinocket, ME.  This is the farthest north in Maine I will have to go.  I’ll be there for the next 3 days.  We have it planned that Janet and Timeless will stop by tomorrow for lunch before they hike on to the base camp for the climb up Katadin on Friday.

Millinocket is a fairly large town for Maine.  I was hoping there would be an antique store or two in town.  No such luck.  I did find a laundromat.  Janet had told me that there wasn’t laundry at the campsite she had chosen for me to stay.  It is amazing how many clothes a hiker can go through in 5 days.  While I was there some poor fellow in his forties came in with a load.  Poor guy had obviously never been in one before.  I had to show him where the change machine was, how to get soap, and tell him how long the washers took.  My helpful deed for the day.

While Millinocket is a relatively big town for Maine, it is not that large.  Here are a couple of pictures of Main Street.  There were a few empty buildings, but most were occupied.

I wish I had known about this business before I did laundry.  It was call Turn The Page.  All in one building was a laundromat, book store, and wine bar.  What a relaxing way to get a chore done.  Start the washer, grab a glass of wine, and sit down and peruse a few books.

This is a famous place for hikers Appalachian Trail Café.  They have a happy hour for AT hikers from 4:00 – 6:00 PM.  They have a tradition of thru-hikers signing their ceiling after reaching the summit of Katadin.  I plan on taking the ladies there to add their names to this hall of fame.

After I got everything done in town I drove towards the Abol Bridge Campground where I will be the next two nights.  It would have been better to stay all three, but I couldn’t because all the sites in all the local campgrounds were reserved for Friday and Saturday.  The local Penobscot Indian tribe has some sacred ceremonies this Saturday and Sunday that has everything booked.  I did find a spot in another campground closer to town that will let me stay in their day parking area for a nominal fee.  In the end that works out better because I’ll have cell signal.  There is nothing at this campground, so it looks like cleaning and reading books to pass the time.

The 7 mile road to get to this campground is called Golden Road.  It is any but that.  In my opinion it is the worst road in Maine.  The dirt and gravel sections have the worst washboard I’ve hit.  The road was alternating sections of dirt and then sections of asphalt.  Some were only a 100 feet in length.  The asphalt was smoother, but still  was bumpy and had lots of pot holes.  Strangely, about 3 miles in there was a stretch of perfectly smooth asphalt.  That made no sense at all.  I laughed at a 45 MPH speed limit sign.  I thought I was risking the RV shaking apart at 10 MPH.

The campsite has no services, but it does have great views.  I am backed up to a lake.

I have a beautiful view of Katadin, Janet’s destination these many months.

It was a testament to my backing skills to get between the trees without hitting anything.  It took a number of times hopping out of the RV to check where the back end was going.

My next door neighbor here, Martin, came over to say hello.  He had lived his entire life within 30 miles of this campground so he was very knowledgeable about the area.  Martin had a hard Maine accent and an occasional stutter which caused me to pay extra attention to what he was saying.  He pointed out a bald eagle on a tree across the lake.  He noted the areas around the lake where he has seen moose.  Told me about the fire in Baxter State Park back in the late 70’s.  Showed me where the AT comes into the campground so I can be looking for Janet tomorrow.  Martin told me his father-in-law had climbed Katadin over 500 items and written books about it.  Now in his 70’s, his knees are in bad shape from all that climbing.  We talked for over an hour and I must say the time passed very quickly.  Add Martin to the list of wonderful, friendly people I have met in Maine.

A little later I was peeling an old label off the windshield when a caretaker stopped by to chat.  A retired Army guy he has spent the last 9 years moving to a different park with the changing of seasons to work.  He is single and seemed to like wandering.  He told me he typically works 20 hours a week, free campsite, and $100.  With a military pension I would guess that he gets along pretty well.  I found that part of the conversation interesting, but he started gossiping about the family that owns this campground.  He also told me how he would never go back to the parks in Florida because they gave the good jobs to the full-time paid employees.  Too much negativity.  Also he has a small Belgian breed dog that was bred to kill rats on boats.  The dog kept staring at me like I was some kind of rat!

Looking forward to tomorrow as the ladies plan on stopping by for lunch.  It will make a wonderful break in the day.

August 29th – Doctor Please (Blue Cheer)

I got up bright and early this morning to get the RV ready for the day.  Yesterday I had filled the water tank and emptied all the trash.  This morning was a first for me in draining the waste tanks.  Janet had always done it until now.  Very happy to report that I accomplished the task with no mishaps!

My infusion therapy at the local hospital went well.  The procedure was very different from when I go to my doctor’s office in Kansas City.  Here they asked me to take Claratin before coming in.  As usual they took my vitals before starting and asked all the questions about fevers and illness.  At home, they just hook me up and wait for the pump to beep to unhook me.  Here, they took my vitals every 15 minutes.  It didn’t stop me from going to sleep in the recliner!  They checked me again when we were done.  If my blood pressure wasn’t the same as when I came in they would have held me until it was.  Mine was perfect.

Yesterday I had attempted to mail another box to Violet, but went by the only post office between noon and 1:00 PM.  In these smaller towns I think only 1 person works the counter.  So when it is time for their lunch they just lock up the place.  My therapy was over in time that I could mail off the box and a postcard. Then it was off to Jo-Mary road.

The people running the gatehouse were an old couple.  I had a hard time not smiling too much as I watched them interact.  She had a lollypop in her mouth and he was a little hard of hearing.  She would ask him a question and he would reply “What?”.  Then she would pull out the lollypop and in a LOUD voice ask him again.  They did this several times in getting me registered and a campsite.  There were also two friends there talking about being careful in buying a used car because of the floods in Houston.  I doubt any of those damaged vehicles would make it to Maine, but those guys were certainly having a serious discussion on what they would look at in a used car.

Following the map and directions I got at the gatehouse I found the ladies with no problems.  They were sitting on the side of the road patiently waiting for me.   Our campsite is primitive and off the beaten path.  No one should drive by while we are here.  It should be a quiet night with only the crickets making any noise.