Friday, July 11, 2008

day 11

today we drove home.

bummer...tomorrow begins the cleanup of the camper & laundry!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

day 10

playing in hershey, pennsylvania.

we'd heard that the town smells like chocolate due to some waste product being used for mulch. we didn't smell it.

had a blast at the park. took advantage of the free shuttle & 1 hour early bird pass from the campground.

kiddos hit some fun rides before the entire park opened. the carosel goes 13 miles an hour. sit seemed fast to me! good times. hopefully we get pictures up soon.

luke & rachel rode a BIG roller coaster. they said they wanted to ride it because it was 2 coasters racing each other--thunder & lightening. we rode lightening which won every time! they were scared & screamed from the crest of the first hill. oops! their faces on the picture they take was great, but we opted to not pay ten dollars for it. after about a half hour, rachel decided she would ride another coaster. luke says never again in his life.

we played at the boardwalk--the water park. it has a fun play place with body slides. matt & rachel rode a big slide on a double innertube. there is a kid wave pool that only is about 3 feet deep, but had some good waves. matt, rachel & luke also did the wave runner. it's a simulation wave ride--almost like a halfpipe with water rushing up. you dive in on a boogie board & ride the wave. rachel & luke went at the same time which made it hard to watch & take pictures. rachel rode the wave off the side & had to restart. for some reason, she climbed on the board backwards & rode the rest of the time facing up rather than down--we didn't see anyone else ride this way. luke had a momentary look of fear & then huge smiles the whole time. you're supposed to ride for 45 seconds. at the end of their time the guards & ride operator are all blowing their whistles for them to go off to the side, but they couldn't figure out how to get there & they weren't wiping out. they finally turned the water off--something else we never saw happen. they were embarrassed, but did GREAT! very fun.

we trekked back to camp for dinner. a quick meal & rest then back to the park.

matt & luke went to the 'really big 3d movie'. rachel & mama rode the comet, a smaller coaster. then we rode a couple of rides we liked earlier in the day as well as the monorail that takes you around the park & out to see the hershey factory.

home & to sleep rather quickly!

tomorrow is our long drive home.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Day 9 CT to PA

The theory is that Hilary is OK...we believe that the service engine light yesterday was due to the gas cap being not tight enough. Go figure!

Today's trip smooth. We picked up a CT and a NJ geocache along the way--both WalMart parking lot park & grabs.

We arrived at Hershey Meadow campground at 6:01pm. Time for dinner and a swim. We had a fire & naturally that included s'mores. We visited with a nice family from Greencastle, PA. Rachel is hoping to be penpals with their daughter.

Tomorrow we are headed to HersheyPark for some amusement. The boy is greatly anticipating the tour of how chocolate is made & the sample that comes at the end. The girl is wild about spending time at the waterpark and says she'll try a roller coaster with mama and the ferris wheel with daddy(cause mama won't do the wheel!)

the simmonds family

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Day 8 Maine to Connecticut

We ate a quick breakfast, packed up camp & headed out! Our travels included a stop for gas, lunch and a brief time at a Quality Inn to plug in the computer to find geocaches for MA & RI. We found a MA cache just off the road near the hotel. Mama trekked into the brush to find this one.

We travelled through Boston and got caught in a little traffic, but saw some of the city. Headed toward Providence, RI. Just 30ish miles from our destination, we blew a tire on the camper! YIKES--right in the middle land on I95! Daddy got us over to the side of the road, we called for help! Two very nice RI State Troopers arrived & they called for the CVS Good Samaritan roadside van. Glenn, the very efficient CVS dude, got us up & running while daddy chatted with the troopers. The kiddos meanwhile were playing a thomas the tank engine game on the dvd player! It's amazing what doesn't phase them. We were on the road in 30 minutes! We spent the next 90 minutes circling the area to purchase a new spare tire--4 stops!

The last 30 miles was strenuous to say the least. The hungry kids, grumpy grownups and limping saturn barely made it to Mystic. (Our service car soon light came on, but then went off. We'll get it checked somewhere along the way tomorrow.) This KOA is very large and has lots to do. While Mama cooked dinner, Daddy & the kids went to the pool. Next we did some laundry & dishes. Mama & the boy went out in search of Dunkin Donuts & milk. After passing the DD at nearly every exit today, we couldn't resist any longer!

Some donuts & icecream later, we finished laundry! Luke also decided this was a good day to ride a 2 wheeler w/o training wheels. He had a successful 20 yards a month ago & hasn't been willing to try since. Today was the day! Go figure! He was also riding Rachel's bike.

Tired kids were sent to bed.
Tomorrow is playing here a little & heading to Hershey, PA!
the simmonds family

Day 7 Last day at Acadia!

Our morning began with blueberry pancakes! Daddy really loves us! Rachel did not enjoy the 'hot blueberries' in her pancakes.

We started the day's adventures at the Hull's Cove Visitor Center where the kids became Acadia NP Jr. Rangers! A very kind ranger had them answer some questions & take the Jr. Ranger pledge.

Next we headed around the Park Loop Road to see many more of the sites around the park. We stopped at the Nature Center & Sieur DeMohts natural spring. We waded in the waves at Sand Beach--55 degree Atlantic Ocean Water! We saw Thunder Hole, Otter Bay, an actual horse drawn carriage on a carriage road, Seal Cove, & Bubble Rock.

Our next stop was the Mount Desert Island Biological Labratory or MDIBL. We'd heard about this from Bocko & also this is where our parade neighbors spend summers--he does research here. The free public tour included a 10 minute video about what they do at MDIBL and an introduction from a very wise professor from the University of South Carolina--he used a few terms we were unfamiliar with, but overall he gave us a great introduction about their purpose. MDIBL is a place for medical researchers to research-duh! Over 30 PhDs are on site working on various projects with many high school & undergrads helping out. Some of the things that have come out of here are new glaucoma drugs & kidney research(near & dear to our hearts!). Because many marine mammals have similar organs/processes to humans, but slower metabolic rates the studies can give researchers a great insight to how drugs & toxins and more will affect humans. The highlight was the touch tank! The girl started off cautious, but soon dove in with both hands picking up starfish, clams, sea cucumbers & even a lobster! Daddy held up a lot of critters too. The boy looked on, only holding a clam and touching a seacucumber & starfish. Mama took pictures. We spent almost 2 hours here. Great place doing great research.

We trekked into Ellsworth to shop at the L.L. Bean Outlet! This was a mama requested adventure & we just bought stuff for the typical!

Made dinner at the campsite. Daddy & the kids fished & played at the playground while Mama packed up the campsite. Daddy says to tell everyone he caught a mackeral t h i s big. We made a HUGE fire & had our last s'mores in Maine.

tomorrow is a travel day through NH, MA, RI & ending in Mystic, CT.
the simmonds family

ps more pictures soon...we're catching up on posts.

Day 6 Exploring the Quiet side!

Started off the day with pancakes! Daddy spoils us!

Headed out to the 'quiet side' of Mount Desert (pronounced like dessert, by the way) Island. Started at the Southern tip, Bass Harbor. Checked out the Bass Harbor Lighthouse. There's a keeper's house where a Coast Guard family still lives, but the lighthouse is automated. We climbed out on the rocks & got some pictures much like the postcards we purchased the day before!

Drove to Southeast Harbor to see the Coast Guard station & Daddy held a lobster at a dockside restaurant. Lots of working boats in this harbor.

Next up was a visit to Echo Lake for a swim. The boy & girl had a great time in the water while mama & daddy watched from the beach. The boy met another 5 1/2 year old named Marshall who lives nearby. Marshall shared his sand toys & even left his bucket for the kiddos because we left our specifically purchased sand toys in the camper! After a quick sandwich & snacks in the parking lot, we headed off on the Beech Mountain Trail. This trail was just .7 miles, but it included some steep rocky inclines and 4 iron ladders up the cliffs. The boy & girl thought this was n exceptional adventure. We ended in the Beech Mtn. parking area just below the summit where we met none other than Ranger Mayne from 2 days ago for our Cliff Walk Ranger Program. Both parties were surprised to reencounter each other! We ended up being the only participants and therefore received a private guided walk. The highlight of this ranger program was Ranger Mayne pointing out the only thing you may take from Acadia NP which happens to be wild blueberries! The girl had a difficult time moving along for want of eating many berries! The hike back down to the car included some blueberry collection for tomorrow's pancakes. The boy made it most of the way down & had a late hike assist from Daddy. Both kiddos are excellent hikers & enjoy exploring.

We stopped on our way home at Thompson Island for a cookout. Daddy grilled chicken, Mama made mashed potatoes & green beans, the girl rode her bike & the boy napped. Dinner was yummy, the view was spectacular and we were hungry! After dinner we met a nice family & explored some tide pools. The girl collected some more shells (shhhh...don't tell we brought them home.) The boys were not big fans of walking barefoot in the mucky/shell laden area along the coast.

We were pretty worn out & headed home for the night.
Tomorrow is our last day exploring Acadia!
the simmonds family

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Day 5 Acadia National Park (& a lobster dinner)

We all slept well last night! Up this morning and headed out by 9:30am. We started our day with a drive to the top of Cadallic Mountain. This is the highest elevation on the Eastern Seaboard. (Also at the same latitude at Southern France, but not the same climate.) We headed to the summit & found the benchmark close to the top. Then we trekked across the rocks to a small loop with views of Bar Harbor, Frenchman's Bay & the outlaying islands. An added bonus was seeing the Queen Elizabeth, a cruise ship that docks offshore once a year from England.

We checked out the gift shop--of course, then daddy grilled us lunch. Quite a time to grill out with the lovely view! Even gave away our extra burger to another hungry tourist!

We joined Park Ranger Susan Mayne (how perfect is her last name to work in this park?) for the Summit Walk ranger program. Our 75 minute guided walk was filled with information about the mountain, the view, the history of the park & more.

Our last stop at the top of the mountain was another geocache! A virtual one due to the dislike of the National Park service of folks hiding things in the park. We had to find what birthday of the gentleman for whom the North Face Trail was laid in honor of a few years ago.

Next we rode our bikes on a Carriage Road near Jordan Pond. It was a small loop, but filled with great scenery. Rockefeller, Jr. sure did a great thing building these roads over 100 years ago--and what a blessing that he decreed they be off limits to motorcars! The kids thought it was funny avoiding road apples left from the horses who pull carriages.

At one of the Carriage Road Gatehouses

We headed out of the park toward Ellsworth to find daddy some lobster for dinner. It was interesting watching him eat it! When I figure out how to post video, I have a funny one! Everyone else at least tasted a tiny bit! For dessert, the girl had blueberry icecream & the boy got chocolate. The blueberry was YUMMY!

Daddy looking forward to his dinner!

Back to camp for much needed showers & a campfire--which you can't have without s'mores!

Tomorrow is more exploring of Acadia!
the simmonds family

Friday, July 4, 2008

Day 4 In Maine—Bar Harbor July 4th

We decided to sleep through the 6am blueberry pancake breakfast in Bar Harbor—Daddy made us pancakes at 8am instead! Then we headed toward Mt. Desert Island for the Bar Harbor 4th of July Parade. We drove to the Acadia National Park Visitor’s Center & then biked into Bar Harbor as we’d been warned about the traffic. The nice park ranger assured us it was an easy 3 mile trip mostly downhill into Bar Harbor. We started out with a .6 mile incline to another parking area no less. Anyway, we made it into town & found a good spot to watch the parade. The families on either side of us were very nice. Matt & one man found a common bond over IU! The man had on a 7 star IU hat—one star for each IU soccer NCAA title. He’s a faculty member who summers at the MDI bioresearch lab—he had previously taught in Vermont & they have been spending summers here for 10 years or so. The other family is from Bangor, Maine—5 daughters! It was an enjoyable parade as the kiddos got WAY too much candy. Rachel also got a tree service sweatshirt tossed right to her!

After the parade, we followed the crowd to the ‘ball field’ for the 4th of July festival & lobster races. Luke bet a dollar on Little Tubby and won; therefore doubling his money—that he later spent on a small stuffed lobster. Rachel bet on 2Cats & came in a close second. They had children’s games benefiting Special Children’s Friends—united way service like Head Start at home. The boy & girl won some tiny animals as prizes & were super happy! We walked into town to find a place for lunch. We ate at Tapley’s which is a convenience store, gas station & diner all in one! We also found a laundromat because someone woke up and was ‘really sweaty’. Let’s just say that it was an unfortunate accident of a very tired little person. We rode an Island Explorer bus back to the visitor’s center to get the car & head back to Bar Harbor. We decided since we had laundry to do, we’d might as well face the traffic. We started laundry & went back to the park to leave the car & play at the playground.

We also picked up a geocache along the Shore Path, a crushed stone path along the shore that is over 100 years old. Then we explored Main Street, got our nature/fireworks cruise tickets & found a place for dinner.Mama biked back to the laundry, folded & put it in the car then found a parking space closer to the pier. Daddy & the kids went shopping! They found a great deal on some North Face hiker sandals for Rachel—unusual for daddy to shoe shop!

Dinner at Route 66 was an eyeful & a stomachful! Yummy food and a great atmosphere! Off to the pier for our nature cruise. We saw the harbor & learned some about the history of the area, saw nature—birds, seals, harbor porpoises, trees, landscape & etc.

a view from the boat of a scooner & the bar harbor inn
After about 90 minutes, we docked to watch the fireworks. Our boat was about 50 yards from the town pier where they launched the fireworks from! We enjoyed watching the men with flares hand light the fireworks individually—didn’t know they still did them that way. We hiked back to the car at the end & spent WAY too much time getting off the island and back to camp.

Tomorrow is exploring Acadia NP!
The simmonds family

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Day 3 Vermont to Maine!

A longer day in the car than we had anticipated—it helps when you look at the right day’s mileage! Left Vermont in the morning for our drive into Maine. The scenery was fabulous and the kiddos were cooperative!

We had scoped out some geocaches along our route so we could claim one in each state of our journey. The one in New Hampshire was at a Stop & Shop (think Meijer). We got gas across the street & saw 2 monster trucks(Black Stallion & Iron Warrior) at McFarland Ford. We pulled in to check them out & realized it was a 40th anniversary celebration complete with monster trucks, drivers & free hotdogs, burgers & drinks! Super deal for lunch! Ate a quick bite, took some pictures & headed out on the road again.

Arrived at Lamoine State Park in time to fix dinner and check out the park. We biked through the park to the pier and enjoyed some time looking out at Fisherman’s Bay and wandering along the shore. Rachel, our nature girl, collected quite a load of shells & rocks. Luke learned to skip stones & was very happy to get one with 3 skips!

tomorrow is the 4th & we're heading into Bar Harbor for the festivities.

the simmonds family
A good nights sleep & we’re headed into Bar Harbor tomorrow for a full day of fun.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

day 2 niagara falls touring and travel to east dummerstown, vt

slept to 8:40! ate, showered, packed up camp & headed out by 10am.

parked at the niagara gorge visitor's center & caught the trolley to the cave of the winds. started our morning with an adventure to the hurricane deck that lies just 20' from the bridal veil falls. the boy & the girl thought that was very cool. ascended the elevator much wetter, but happy for the experience.

caught the trolley to the top of the falls visitor center & some lookout that we can't remember the name of right now. daddy, the boy & the girl had fun playing on the hill. they chased each other & ran up & rolled down the hill! amusing for mama & many others.

then toured the reminder of niagara falls state park from the trolley. learned that this is the oldest state park in the country and was bought for 1.4 million in 1901! the first person to survive a trip over the falls was a schoolteacher from michigan who went over in a specially made barrel on her 63rd birthday! another interesting survivor to go over was a 7 year old boy who fell out of a boat upstream. he was wearing only a lifejacket & was rescued at the bottom by a maid of the mist boat.

got off the trolley & checked out the aquarium of niagara. small & old, but had a great seal show & the kids liked the magic show(odd to be at the aquarium, but hey.).

ate some lunch & headed out for the 379 mile trip to east dummerstown, vermont at 2:45.

stopped in bennington, vt for a geocache in the cemetary where 6 vermont governors & poet robert frost are buried. the road from here was windy, hilly (through the green mountain national forest) and included 2 covered bridges!

arrived at our campground about 9:45. happy day for sure!

tomorrow we're off to maine.
the simmonds family

Day 1-fishers to niagara falls. ny

departed fishers at 5:45 am!
made 5 stops and arrived at niagara falls north koa at 3:15pm.
we set up camp, cooked chicken on the grill & headed to see the falls by 5:00.

purchased our discover niagara passes & started out with a boat ride on the maid of the mist. our handy dandy blue ponchos kept us mostly dry. it was a great, up close look at the falls. the little people really liked the observation tower as well, though it was super windy.

next we walked over rainbow bridge to canada! our kids are now international travelers! we must say, the canadian side is quite the tourist trap. clifton hill was a wacky international, commerialized spot. most certainly a destination for many. we saw many people from many places speaking many languages. a pretty garden & a look over the side & we headed back to good ole USA--after paying a $.50 toll each! you'd think citizens would be free!

International travelers on the US/Canada border at rainbow bridge

we had a tasty, yet overpriced dinner at the 'twist of the mist' restaurant--a recommendation by the border patrol. dinner entertainment was luke's frequent and spontaneous war cries & chase of the pesky begging seagulls. a chocolate cone & a vanilla cone & we were headed back to the falls to visit goat island. we rode the trolley over to the island, checked out the visitor center & waited at prospect point for the fireworks celebrating Canada day.

long day, but a fun one. back to the campsite where we all fell asleep quickly!

simmonds family