Tuesday, October 29, 2013

From Ohio to Arkansas

Leaving Dillon State Park, we see the forecast is for some rather cold weather.  The plan forms for some mileage and a "left" turn towards the south.

Meanwhile, still in Ohio, we head for a well known and locally favorite state park, Hocking Hills.

One of the reasons for its popularity is the location next door to a group of caves featuring the Old Man's Cave.

This picture, and some others to follow, are from an earlier visit in 2007.

Be ready to climb up and down some steep trails, but the effort has rewards.

This is the Old Man's Cave.

Besides the caves, there are also some waterfalls along your hike.

    The color at Hocking Hills can be quite intense, but not so much this year.  This picture is from 2007 of our old 5th wheel and truck.

We seem to arrive at Hocking Hills during the Halloween season.  I say Halloween season because the campground fills up for a whole week.  This allows the local campers to set up their sites and also all of their decorations.

Halloween is big at some campgrounds.

So off we go to Paint Creek State park.  One of our favorites.

This is the view from our back window this year.

A very quiet campground, lots of open spaces, and each site is large and well separated from others.

This picture of Jan is from the nicest site in the park( we think), number 116, that we were able to have in 2007.

This view is from the deck ---on our site!

While Hocking Hills is listed as perhaps Ohio's most popular state park, we vote for Paint Creek.

Of course, we prefer the quieter parks with more separation between sites.

We find that people seem to either love Halloween or definitely not.

This is typical of some of the campers who love to decorate and celebrate for Halloween.  We try to imagine how they even managed to get all of these decorations to the park.  We think, maybe, they all live fairly close by.

This was at Levi Jackson in London , Kentucky.
It is a state park that is reviewed with 10's and 9's, but not our numbers.  We stayed one night.

One of the nice things about driving from Kentucky southwest into Tennessee is the beautiful rural views along the way.

There are some wonderful Amish farms and horse farms along the back roads.

Also, very little traffic.

Sometimes, we had the whole road to ourselves for quite a while.

This is actually a picture from Ohio's Amish country.

Just had to include it here.

Coming up over the top of a hill in Amish country and there is  a sign for a bakery.  Nothing but farms all around.

We stop!

A large bakery, filled with breads and fry pies and pies ------lot of them.

In the store are at least 8 or 9 Amish girls and women working at baking and packing and selling.  We found a number of fruit fry pies , a donut, and a wonderful, fresh loaf of bread.

From Kentucky into Tennessee, we quite often see these barns along the way.

The doors--sometimes quite a few on the barn--are open to air out the tobacco which you see hanging.

Sometimes you will see the barns, decorated with hex signs.  Also , you might see freshly painted barn sides with a big sign for Mailpouch Tobacco.

We had a chance in 2012 to look at this beautiful state park in Tennessee called Natchez Trace State Park.
This year we stopped by and found ourselves a good spot with a wonderful view.

Pin Oak is one the campgrounds within the Natchez Trace State park.  We could say that it is right off Route 40.

The state park does start right off Route 40, but you must drive about 14 miles within the park just to get to the campground---well worth it.

Each site is large clean and very flat.

They have imported some fine white sand for the beach area.  Also at this area is a large new style playground and picnic shelter.

From our back window on one of the below freezing mornings, it was a wonderful sight to see the "smoke on the water".

What was hard to understand was that this was a weekend.

And there were no fishermen at the lake???

I did talk to some locals in the campground and at our oil change stop.  They indicated that there was good fishing here.  But, there are many other larger lakes to fish.  By talking with a number of locals, we found our way to Lexington and then to Jackson, Tennessee to a place called Best One Tire.  Not sure why it was so difficult, we stopped at several places including a Ford dealership, but people were friendly and the manager at Best One was great.  Lady Blue was well taken care of with an oil change, rotated front tires, new air filter, and a new oil filter.  Route 40  right off of exit 79 if you are in the area.

The view out our back window this morning .  This is at another of our favorite private campgrounds.  We are heading to some camping at Corps of Engineer and state parks in Arkansas, but this is always a fun stop.
The campground is Tom Sawyer in West Memphis, Arkansas.  Across the river and to the left (north) is Memphis, Tennessee. Across the river and not too far to the right(south) is Mississippi.

This tug is pushing about 30 barges , all tied together. The larger ones are 5 across and about 6 barges long.
This is a typical larger tugboat.  The exhaust stacks would seem to indicate two good sized diesel motors.  To get an idea of how large these are --note the man standing just to the right of the window towards the stern.  The river is low this year, but still higher than it was last winter when they had to limit the traffic on the river.  Some of you remember when we had to leave this campground because of imminent flooding a few years ago.  There is a building in the campground with a large sign about 20 plus feet off the ground marking the high water mark in 2011.
This is the first time that we have seen a large paddle wheel  boat on the Mississippi River. You will note that the fake smokestacks in the front section are laying down to get under the bridges.  Under the arches , if you enlarge the picture, you can see the rooms for the passengers.  Some are sitting outside , under the arches.  These boats will stop at plantations and other spots along the river.   The front section can be lowered to the beach or they can pull up to a dock.  This seems similar to some of the barge or river trips that you can arrange while traveling in Europe.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Pymatuning State Park to Dillon State Park, Ohio

On from Allegeny State Park in New York to Pymatuning State Park in Jamestown, Pennsylvania.
On this reservoir there is one park in Pennsylvania and across the reservoir are two more campgrounds in Ohio.

We met a very nice couple from the area who knew a lot about the Pennsylvania state parks and also about other parks in Ohio to Florida.  He used to be a tour bus driver, like Uncle Carl.
You meet a lot of interesting people on the road with a lot of interesting stories and backgrounds. That makes this a good time to recommend to you some of the blogs listed to the right side.  For example, if you go to visit Jimbo's blog and also Ed and Carol's blog , you can scroll down through their latest postings and see some great pictures of the Albuquerque Balloon Festival a week or so ago.  They were a part of a number of Lazy Daze people who gathered in a perfect spot close to and sometimes right under the balloons.

From Pymatuning we travel to Salt Fork State Park in Ohio.  It is basically west of Wheeling, West Virginia close to Cambridge , Ohio.  This the largest Ohio State Park on Salt Fork Reservoir , an unusually shaped body of water.  It is relatively narrow , but quite long and winding. 

There are a large number of rental cabins all around the reservoir with two good sized marinas and other boat facilities.  As you might expect, there are a large number of pontoon boats docked here, but also various fishing boats.  Not much sign of the larger yachts we saw in New York.

Like a number of other states, Ohio has a beautiful lodge within the state park that offers much to the business man and vacationer alike. 

The lodge has a full offering dining room as well as a snack bar and a coffee shop and a lounge.

Not only those , but also full sized outdoor and indoor swimming pools.

As we were walking through, there were at least two business meetings taking place in conference rooms.

We give credit to Ohio for maintaining this property. Besides all of the wonderful campgrounds and campsites for RVers and horse campers, there are well maintained hiking trails, marinas, and a beach, and an 18 hole golf course.  Boaters can even camp on their boats.

In addition they completely renovated this 1840 stone house built on the property.

When they said stone house, we were expecting a brick style house, but you note these are quite large stones.

Unfortunately, we were here on a day  that the Stone House was closed.

But from outside we were able to see how the interior has also been refinished and refurnished to 19th century period style.

This all looks very warm and comfortable for a stone house.

The view from the hill behind the house gives you an idea of the access to Salt Fork Reservoir.  On the left is the original root cellar.  The right side addition is recent

From Salt Fork, we travel to Amish country , basically north and west of Salt Fork. 

We had been to this section of Ohio years ago, but this time we stopped at a few different places.

Previously, we had visited Walnut Creek and Berlin for different Amish restaurants and local cheese and wood products.

This time we stop at Yoder's Amish Farm and take a tour.  The building on the right was the orginal built around 1860.  In the old tradition, it has no amenities inside.  The stove is wood fired.

The house on the left is newer and has propane and other amenities, but still no connection to outside electricity.

Travel in Amish country means watching for buggies along the way.

The Amish barn interpreter indicated that the buggy horses are usually former race trotting horses bought at auction.

For field work, the Amish like to use Belgian work horses. 

The small house garden provides some nicely fresh greens of lettuce and cabbage among other offerings.

The Amish believe in separation from the outside world.  This means keeping modern amenities outside the house.  Yes, that is an outhouse.

Also, younger people take note that there is no television, cell phone, phone, car, refrigerator, computer, or other modern devices.

Young people play games and read. They learn three languages--Low German, High German, and English. 

We also learned that the strict Amish are those that have no electricity and use the buggies and horse teams.
The Mennonites will use electricity and some other modern tools as well as drive autos.

Jan and I are happy to purchase some great cookies, bread , and brownies made by Leah in the Amish kitchen

Drivers in this area are prepared to slow down for the buggy traffic.  Ohio has the largest Amish population, followed by Pennsylvania and Indiana.

There are many great cheese factories in Amish country.  This visit we stop at Pearl Valley Cheese in Fresno, Ohio.  This is a fourth generation cheese factory. About 25,000 pounds of cheese are made daily from milk supplied from 100 dairy farmers in eastern Ohio.

Our purchases include their own American cheese, lacy baby Swiss, marble, and a great salami cheese.

At day's end, we find ourselves in the center of Ohio , close to Columbus , at Dillon State Park. 

Deer in our back yard and lots of young families.  We are happy to see that camping is still quite popular with young families--all here with tents,tent trailers, and larger tag-alongs and fifth wheels.

Columbus is home to Ohio State football.  And this is homecoming weekend!  It's always interesting to see the fan support for the local teams wherever we might be camping.  So far, we would have to give points to Tennessee Volunteer fans and LSU (Louisiana)fans.  But don't quote me on that!!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Lazy Daze Advantage

To the right is a picture of a very nice boat traveling down the Mohawk River in Glendale, New York.  This is from our campground at Arrowhead Marina. 

We stop here often as a takeoff point into the south(Pennsylvania center) or west ( Finger Lakes to southwest NY and beyond.

Many times, like this weekend, we see boats this size and much larger.  We had to ask the locals, but the answer is that the Mohawk River connects via a system of locks to the Hudson River and the St Lawrence Seaway.  From there, among other destinations, boaters can travel the Intracoastal Waterway, a 3,000 mile series of canals and rivers, all the way to Florida's West Coast.

This year, it's off to Sampson State Park on Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes region of New York.

If you are wondering about the title for this blog issue, it's that we once again can see the advantage of our Lady Blue Lazy Daze. 

Even on busy weekends we are fairly sure that we can find a spot to camp, because our motorhome is fully self contained.  With batteries fully charged, a full tank of fresh water, and empty gray and black tanks, we can stop almost anywhere.

At Sampson we do find a large , open site with electricity. 

This park was the location for thousands of Navy trainees during WWII.  The roads and some of the buildings are still visible around the huge park.

Memorials to the veterans are visible around a museum near the entrance to the park.

An early jet makes note of the Navy air presence.  The US was not successful with jets during WWII, but they were developed for use during the Korean War shortly after.

This Air Force jet is from the Korean War era when Sampson was used for trainees in the Air Force.

After 1960, the park was turned over the state where it was developed to its use today.

You get a little idea of the great spacing in this park.

Plenty of room between sites.

There are possibilities for long walks within the park.  This picture is from the waterfront with the marina in the distance.  The west shore of Lake Seneca is a good ways distant.  All along the shores of these lakes are many wineries and other farms.  When we left Sampson, we stopped at an Amish farm stand for some vegetables and homemade cookies.  I have a hard time passing by  home baked goodies.

Dr. Frank was one of the earliest vineyard owners to successfully operate in the Finger Lakes.  The winning wine was a Riesling.  Now there are many winning wines from the region , including Pinot Noir and others.

Almost ready to pick.  The red varieties have already been harvested.  The wine growers can go on at length about how crucial it is to pick grapes at the proper time.

The sales and tasting building is very pleasant and the free wine tasting is quite enjoyable.

To the left are the production buildings, quite active with many workers.

To the right, down the hill is a beautiful view of the lake and the vines.

This is the view from Dr. Frank's tasting porch.

Some customers take a glass or two out on the porch and sit in some very comfortable chairs to enjoy the view out over Keuka Lake.

There are worse ways to spend an hour or two on a Fall afternoon.

Another view from Dr. Frank's.  Acres and acres of vines and then a beautiful view of the lake. We stayed close by the vineyard at Keuka Lake State Park.  It was another very private , wonderful site.

With the government shutdown, we could not count on the Corps of Engineer parks and National Forest parks to be open.  So we continued with the New York state parks.  This is the administration building at Allegany State Park in southwest New York.

This is the largest park in the New York system.  There are two separate and large campgrounds. This building is in the Red House area. The second floor houses a very comfortable restaurant and the first floor has a small store, museum, and lounge area that overlooks the lake.

A number of buildings are from the Civilian Conservation Corps.

There is a bike trail that goes all around the lake.  This view is of the main building from that bike trail.

There are also 95 miles of hiking on 18 hiking trails. There are 35 miles of cross country ski trails and 360 cabins.  150 of the cabins are winterized.

The bike trail even includes a covered bridge.

The park has a well developed beach area with boat and bike rentals.

We managed to find a spot on Columbus Day weekend--not easy-- and observed many, many families using the park with cookouts, games, and Halloween festivities.

In spite of the look of this picture, these sites are closer together than those at Sampson or Keuka.

But after the weekend there are many choices with more space between.  We had a nicely burbling brook to watch and listen to behind Lady Blue.

This brings us to a big Lady blue advantage. It is Sunday of Columbus Day weekend and we know the parks are still full.  Jan and I leave Red House area of Allegany State Park and head over to look at the Quaker Lake area.  Also a very nice campground and lake, but we decided that we would still prefer the Red House area.

We head west and south to Pennsylvania and the Pymatuning State Park in Jamestown, Pa.

The view of Pymatuning from Lady blue's back window.  The campground on the other side is in Ohio , part of the Ohio State Park system.  The girl at the office doesn't mention this site because there is no electricity on the site.  But when we look around, we can see that it has to be one of the best sites in the park.  Most of the other sites are occupied---why not this one?  Because most campers want electricity. 
Advantage Lazy Daze?  We are self contained and with our 100 watt solar panel and fully charged glass mat batteries , we do not need electricity or other hookups.  Another advantage---when we arrive, it starts to rain--hard.  No problem.  We just park and walk back into our Lazy Daze--- without even going outside--and enjoy the view--no setup necessary!