We're behind on our updates - where has this summer gone!!! Our July and August goings-on will be combined with just the highlights.
First off, this has been the summer of visitors - friends, family and four-legged critters. First the friends: Fellow fulltimers, Paul and Margery, and authors of the Living Our Dream blog, were traveling in the area - we met them for lunch at Michael's Restaurant in Stockbridge. A great choice - a quiet place to play catch up, not be rushed, and a good meal to boot.
Rick and Eileen, friends and former Alabama neighbors when we had a stick and brick house, headed up north from Florida, taking a break from Rick's business, Grasshopper Airboat Ecotours. They stayed in the Tillotson B & B (also known as the fifth wheel on our other site here in Klondike). Looks like we were too busy for photos?
Habitat friends Tom and Diane, on a road trip from their home in Vermont to Rhode Island, parked on our lot in their motor home. Their visit was too short but we crammed in a lot of talking, as well as an afternoon's visit to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge.
Lucille's brother Roger and Kathie drove out from Arizona in their new-to them fifth wheel toyhauler on their way to our family's gathering in upstate New York. Their three-day stay turned into eight days. Most of our guests will visit the local museums and such, but Roger decided he wanted to check out the local walk-in clinic as well as the hospital in Pittsfield. What started off as an infected elbow ended up with his being admitted to the local hospital for several days while they administered IV antibiotics. In the meantime, his truck conked out. We're not sure how fond their memories will be of their visit here but both he and his truck are back on the road.
Lucille's brother Ray and family spent a couple of weeks on our other site so we enjoyed getting together with them. And when the Tillotson B & B was available between guests, Larry's brother Brian and his wife Bonnie were here.
We took a road trip in August to the Watertown, New York area for a Dupont family gathering. The rest of the family had rented a house on Lake Bonaparte while we stayed at the Adirondack 1000 Island Campground in nearby Natural Bridge. During our family gathering, cousin Angela, husband Rick and daughter Emily came down one day - we hadn't seen them in thirteen years when Emily was just a babe. It was great visiting with them, with plans not to wait thirteen years again. Another day, cousin Sue, husband Verne, Aunt Alma and her husband Bud came down for the day. Besides lots of laughs, there was no shortage of great meals - lots of wonderful chefs in the family. There was a talk of a family diet plan after this family gathering.
While still in New York, and as long as we were halfway to Pembroke, Ontario, we made a quick trip to visit friends Harry and Marie, with our motor home parked alongside their home facing the Ottawa River - a fabulous view. Crossing the border is always interesting and going into Canada this time was no exception. The border agent decided we needed further inspecting and asked us to pull over. Unfortunately, we had to park nose-in with no way to leave the area without backing out and if you are familiar with motor homes towing cars with all four wheels on the ground - you can't back up with the car attached. After we passed inspection, we disconnected the car, got Larry backed up, then parked in an out of the way area to reconnect the car. While there, another border agent wanted to know what we were doing there. After we explained our dilemma, he left us to finish connecting and get back on the road.
Let's not forget our four-legged critter visitors. A juvenile porcupine was enjoying apples from a tree on our site. We were sitting in the gazebo and kept hearing humming and when we poked our heads out the door, there he was enjoying the fruit before waddling across the driveway and up a tree, maybe to take a nap?
And what a season we've had with black bears - the talk of every Klondike gathering, or anywhere else in town for that matter. We'd seen a curious bear walk through our site earlier in the season but a bolder one came by one morning. We'd just heard a neighbor's whistle, which meant to be on the lookout. Sure enough, this guy came from behind our site, sniffed at our grill, walked around the shed, and when we heard a racket, we knew he'd broken in to the shed. We grabbed some noisemakers and quickly chased him out. He wasn't in there long enough to get into anything, not that there was much to be found as the garbage is bagged and sealed in a tight aluminum can with mothballs masking any odors. He found his way in one window and out the other. Needless to say, the windows stay closed now and when we're home we make lots of noise. These bears were quite brazen this year - several park models were broken into with bears helping themselves to food in the fridge and freezer. One pulled out a window air conditioning unit to get in, then proceeded to leave garbage all over the yard. Despite being warned about leaving windows open, some places were just too inviting. One of the park models had a mother and cub frequently visit it till the owners finally blocked the broken window.
Some of the day trips we took: The Otis Senior Center had yet another great and very affordable tour - the Essex Steamtrain and Riverboat ride in Essex, Connecticut. Our two-and-a half-hour tour started at the historic 1892 Essex train station. Vintage rail cars are pulled by Steam locomotive #3025, one of the less than 100 steam locomotives still in scheduled service in the U.S. Consider that at the height of the steam era, there were approximately 180,000 steam locomotives chugging along the rails.
Our train ride took us through the scenic Connecticut River Valley, with the a stop to board the riverboat Becky Thatcher. This triple-deck Mississippi-style riverboat slowly cruised the Connecticut River, with views of Gillette Castle and the Goodspeed Opera House. Gillette Castle was the home of actor William Gillette, known for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes. The 24-room home, built along the lines of a medieval castle, is situated on 184 acres and is now all part of the Gillette Castle State Park. Based on our narrator's description, we'll need to make a return visit to view the castle.
The train then returned us back to the station and back to our bus. Thank goodness our comfortable touring bus was nicely air-conditioned as it was probably the hottest day of the year. The heat was brutal in the rail car - few folks sat on the sunny side and all windows were wide open. The Becky Thatcher riverboat was a bit cooler, plus cold refreshments were available.
A lunch stop at the historic Griswold Inn was included. Lots of history there - the Inn, the first three-story frame structure build in Connecticut, opened for business in 1776, offering first class accommodations to travelers. Since then, it has been run as an inn catering to neighbors, yachtsmen and overland travelers. Scattered amongst the many dining rooms are collections of marine art, steamboat memorabilia and firearms. Even the rooms themselves are historical - one, the Covered Bridge, is a dining room built from an abandoned New Hampshire covered bridge and moved to Essex. The Tap Room was built in 1738 as one of the first schoolhouses in Essex and now houses a beautiful wooden bar. We missed seeing the mural of Essex that rocks slowly back and forth to give you the illusion of being on a boat - sounds like a great reason to return. Did we mention that the food was pretty good too?
En route to Essex, and as we passed through Granville, Massachusetts, a fellow passenger was telling us about all the interesting things to see there. One day we went out to see for ourselves and we can now say we ate our way through Granville. First stop was the Granville Country Store for some locally famous Granville cellar-aged cheddar cheese. It just happened to be lunchtime (what a coincidence!) so we enjoyed homemade macaroni and cheese and a grilled cheese sandwich, both made with their wonderful cheese. And of course, we had homemade ice cream at the Gran-Val Scoop, and a stop at the Nestrovich Orchard farm stand for fresh peaches. Another day we visited the Noble and Cooley Drum Company, a seventh-generation family manufacturer of drums. Originally started in 1854, they were known for their military and toy drums. Today, they make specialized drums for musicians as well as a line of toy drums. Their largest drum was eight feet in diameter, originally made for an 1869 Boston celebration and again for the 1876 Centennial celebration. Most of the equipment is original, with some modifications made to convert the machinery from water-power to electric-power. We spent a couple of hours on the personalized tour led by family members. With the passion we saw from our guides, a brother and sister, Noble and Cooley will be around for many more generations.
We rarely missed any of the scheduled Klondike Saturday evening dinners and Sunday morning breakfasts, the mid-week potlucks, and the occasional happy hour get together with fellow Klondikers. Larry continued to run the zero-turn mower, keeping the Klondike lawns groomed, and he didn't even need be towed out, thanks to a combination of experience and drier weather.
Larry decided to replace the shed's shingled roof, which had a leak, with metal panels. He and friend Louie (also replacing his shingles with metal) went up to Dresser and Hull, a lumber store in Lee, to custom-order the panels and fasteners. Prices were competitive with the big box stores, and when you factor in the personalized service and free delivery - wotta deal! Both sheds now have new roofs. We then repainted the shed's exterior after replacing some rotten boards. The first color we chose, closer to French's yellow mustard (trying to match the gazebo's yellow pine stain), was too much in your face so the second coat toned it down. It's now more of a pumpkin color, with brown trim - looks great! Next year's major project will be re-staining the gazebo but no more big projects for this year.
We'll be hitting the road south and west in a few short weeks. Our final time here will be spent getting both sites ready for the winter and cramming in as many last minute visits with family and friends that we can.
Coming up: we head to Mountain View, Arkansas - we haven't been there since 2008, with stops en route in New York, Ohio, Illinois and Missouri. Our first week of the month there will be participating in the Gathering, a dulcimer workshop and festival. We look forward to seeing Karen and Galen there as well as many of the friends who gather there at the same time. We'll be in Huntsville, Alabama in October for about a month, taking care of annual medical and dental appointments; a two-week Habitat build in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, then on to Camp Carr in the Savannah area for the end of the year.