Have Heart, Will Travel

State Parks

Day 16: You win some, and once in a Blue Moon you lose some

Life lessons, RV destinations, State Parks, National ForestNancy Powell1 Comment

As I've written about our travels to the north, I have shared that I only had reservations in one place between where we left home (Texas) and our destination for August (Maine.)

We have had a lot of luck, which I am calling Grand Adventure serendipity, on our side, and even though we've been winging it with almost no reservations in the middle of a beautiful summer, we have had no problems finding a comfortable place to stay.

When it was time to end our most delightful stay in Watkins Glen, New York, our idea was to head to the Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont. Besides wanting to experience its beauty, legend has it (along with lots of websites and rv camping forums) that there are plenty of places to stay for free or nearly free in federal lands, as long as you don't need a full hook up with electricity and water.  That seemed like a great plan for us since we only wanted to spend one night and get back on the road fairly quickly.

My best guess is that we were getting a little too comfortable with our "winging it" luck. Because we loved the state park we were leaving, we did not leave very early in the day. Then we had to drive across New York and into Vermont.  Even though the National Forest is right there on the border, it takes some time to get where you are going. They don't call them the Green Mountains for nothing. Those mountains are legit!

We drove up and down, coaxing (the-yet-to-be-officially-named) RV who did a great job, but was kind of saying something like..."Umm...what??"

 

 Cloud level driving in the aptly named Green Mountains

Cloud level driving in the aptly named Green Mountains

We still haven't fully figured out if the following story is due more to this particular National Forest, our status as newbies, or the nighttime arrival into the camping areas.  Whatever the reason, this was our experience...

I had tried to do a little reading about where a motorhome could camp for the night in the Green Mountains and we headed to a camping area. When we got there, we saw that we had arrived at a "normal" campground--albeit with very tight spaces--not the primitive wide-open fields we were expecting.

Not wanting to disturb anyone further at the late-ish hour we had arrived by unhooking our car and backing into a space, all while shining lights in every nearby camping spots' location and in general attracting more attention than a lightbulb at a junebug convention, we decided to pass on that area and look for a new spot.

We didn't know where we were heading and we were off to find a place in the wide wild forest.

In God's provision, it happened to be the night of a Blue Moon.  We sure would have had it rough without those moonbeams!

 I know this is not the caliber of picture normally found here, but I wanted to give just a sense of of the wonder we felt when we saw this full, bright moon pop up right between those mountains out of nowhere!

I know this is not the caliber of picture normally found here, but I wanted to give just a sense of of the wonder we felt when we saw this full, bright moon pop up right between those mountains out of nowhere!

To make our long night's story shorter, I'll just say we drove around for a couple hours. At every potential spot, we spotted homes or private businesses. Is this normal in a National Forest? We were expecting much more deserted land. We'll do a bit more homework before we plan that again.

We finally decided to "give up" our idea of roughing it in the forest and headed for a state park campground we discovered located within the forest. We made our way there and found out that it, too, was full. When it rains, it pours.

At this point we needed to stop and rest.  We pulled into a thankfully large and empty parking lot of the state park, turned around to be ready to head out as soon as possible, and settled down to a dinner of Honey Nut Cheerios with banana slices before grabbing a few restless hours of sleep.

 

We pulled out very early in the morning before anyone would have to tell us to leave. We put a good number of miles between us and our less-than-ideal camping spot before turning into the quintessential, small town diner for a large breakfast. We got reset, and headed out ready to tackle the new day's adventures.

 My eggs florentine with breakfast potatoes were scrumptious!

My eggs florentine with breakfast potatoes were scrumptious!

 

You win some. You lose some.  You gain experience either way.

Day 12: The Gorge-ous Trail at Watkins Glen

RV destinations, State ParksNancy Powell2 Comments

If Helen of Troy is the face that launched a thousand ships, the internet picture of the waterfall-enchanted-gorge in Watkins Glen is what launched a family of three to Central New York.  I saw a picture and knew I had to see it in person.  So we came and oh, my, did we see. The views and the experience were worth all it took, too; and that was considerable.

For serious hikers, this would be an "easy" trail in that there aren't a lot of difficult or tricky challenges to climb.  Just about 850 stairs. Really.  So, it's not just a walk in the park, even though it is.

I crack myself up.

This hike was the main reason I wanted us to come to this area, so we did it on our first full day here.  We thought the weather was beautiful!  High of 84 degrees was very comfortable for us, although all the New Yorkers were complaining of the heat. Maybe it's not normally that hot here?

The stairs and trail were all in a series of levels, so you got a chance to rest and enjoy the view at one part before moving on to the next.  Around every corner was natural beauty.  We took our time, gave ourselves (okay, me) time to rest, took plenty of pictures and had a grand time.  I'm so glad we did this hike!

For readers who do not know me well, you probably don't know that I have a neuromuscular disease called Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis. (If you're really interested, you can read more about it here.) What this disease means for me is that while "on the outside" I look normal to others probably 95% of the time, I often experience varying levels of weakness, right up to and including full body paralysis.  Fortunately, the full paralysis is very, very rare. Like I can count the number of times on my hands.  However, severe and debilitating partial paralysis, like in my legs and/or arms where I can't walk or get out of bed, is a little more frequent.  I feel incredibly blessed, actually, because I know there are many who have my particular "disability" who cannot even lead an independent lifestyle.  My version has been relatively mild, all things considered, and I've enjoyed just about as close to a normal life as possible. In fact, I believe the knowledge of what I almost couldn't do spurs me on to get even more out of life!  There is no guarantee that I would have been able to do these adventures at this point in my life (I was diagnosed at age 6) much less 25 years from now at normal retirement age.  All of this was certainly one factor, though not the biggest one, in deciding to take this journey now.  None of us are promised tomorrow, and I believe I'm more acutely aware of that fact than most.

Which leads us back to a hike with over 850 stairs. Whew. Physical activity is one of the things that brings on muscle weakness and paralysis, but God has been so gracious and I feel like I've been stronger than ever since departing for our Grand Adventure.  I certainly admired every vista without taking anything for granted. 

I hope you enjoy our (mostly Mark's) pictures. If you ever find yourself with the opportunity to make it to central New York, we give this place a hearty thumbs up!

 Thank you, God, for being so creative and letting us enjoy your work!

Thank you, God, for being so creative and letting us enjoy your work!

 We really couldn't have asked for a better day for enjoying such magnificent scenery.

We really couldn't have asked for a better day for enjoying such magnificent scenery.

 I'm so grateful we could all do this together!  This also gives an idea of how the stairs are in levels with plenty to view at each stop.

I'm so grateful we could all do this together!  This also gives an idea of how the stairs are in levels with plenty to view at each stop.

 There really were a lot of people on the trail that day, which makes this gorgeous picture with only Petunia and I going up the stairs, quite a feat.

There really were a lot of people on the trail that day, which makes this gorgeous picture with only Petunia and I going up the stairs, quite a feat.

 On the bridge and another splendid waterfall. God shows off his glory in this place!

On the bridge and another splendid waterfall. God shows off his glory in this place!

 Hi!

Hi!

 "In her eyes"

"In her eyes"

 We'd come quite a ways up by this point. Petunia's gymnastics training was showing because she wanted to cross this log. Ummm...no!

We'd come quite a ways up by this point. Petunia's gymnastics training was showing because she wanted to cross this log. Ummm...no!

 This is one of the few pictures in this whole post (or blog) that I took myself, and it's pretty much just like the shot that compelled me to come visit this place! 

This is one of the few pictures in this whole post (or blog) that I took myself, and it's pretty much just like the shot that compelled me to come visit this place! 

 Underneath one of the waterfalls.

Underneath one of the waterfalls.

 Mark under the same waterfall.

Mark under the same waterfall.

 I wasn't so sure about playing in the water, but they won me over.

I wasn't so sure about playing in the water, but they won me over.

 We did it! No one was as surprised as I was! Or as grateful!

We did it! No one was as surprised as I was! Or as grateful!

 Post-hike? Kicked back and enjoying a book is about the norm.

Post-hike? Kicked back and enjoying a book is about the norm.

We've had a wonderful time here in Watkins Glen State Park and feel so grateful for the gifts of rest and beauty, activity and adventure, and time together!