Day Trip: Exploring Northeastern NY State

Ausable River runs through Keeseville New York

Friday we took a ride up U.S. Route 9 to Plattsburg, NY for lunch, with stops along the way to visit a Summer Festival in Keeseville, an Ausable River suspension bridge and the overlook at Ausable Chasm – “The Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks”.

We had read about the suspension bridge in Keeseville that crosses the Ausable River and had to have a look.

Keeseville Suspension Bridge over the Ausable River
Keeseville suspension bridge over the Ausable River

This pedestrian suspension bridge – called the swinging bridge by the locals – dates back to 1842, replacing an earlier version that had collapsed into the river. A corps of militiamen had marched across the earlier bridge in cadence, creating a swing pulse that snapped one of the bridge’s suspending cables. Forty people were on the bridge when it fell; 13 were lost in the river below.

(Oh yes, I can attest to the fact that this swinging bridge still swings today with any breeze or foot traffic.)

Keeseville is a small village of about 1,800 people as of the last census and had its start as a mill town beside the fast moving River. The Village is separated by the River with the Northern portion being in Clinton County and the Southern part in Essex County. Not long ago they voted to dissolve the Village and be absorbed by the larger surrounding Towns of Ausable and Chesterfield.

Ausable River runs through Keeseville New York
Keeseville, New York – A River runs through it

This photo shows the former Presbyterian Church (1852) – and the clock still works – beside the former Keeseville National Bank (1870). The Stone Arch Bridge (1844) crosses the Ausable River. The building at the river’s edge is the abandoned horse nail factory (1852).

Not far North of Keeseville the Ausable River travels through Ausable Chasm on its way to emptying into Lake Champlain. Route 9 crosses the Chasm on a very high bridge that affords parking areas and an overlook into a portion of this sandstone channel.

Ausable Chasm is the
Ausable Chasm – “Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks”

We did some shopping in Plattsburg and had lunch at the Hong Kong Jade Buffet on Cornelia Street where the food is pretty good and the patrons can be a little rude.

A visit to Plattsburg Air Force Base – in the early 60’s – is where I saw the USAF Thunderbirds (http://afthunderbirds.com/site/) perform for the first time and it became a big factor in my decision to join the Air Force after graduation.

More about Plattsburg and Lake Champlain in a future post and more gabbing about our Snowbird adventures on our website at http://www.snowbirdrvtrails.com/.

Advertisements

RV LIFE ON THE ROAD – Laundry Day with “The Panda”

The compact Panda washer is perfect for RVing

As much as we try to ignore the growing pile in the dirty clothes bin, there comes a time when the scales have tipped and the clean clothes drawers are pretty much empty.

In the beginning we used the campground’s washing machines and dryers until we started finding all kinds of crusty remnants from the odd dog or horse blankets or sandy beach towels. Most campgrounds try to keep them clean but they really would almost have an attendant standing by 24/7.

We did have fun going to local laundromats for awhile where we met and talked with some seriously interesting people but that also got old and expensive after awhile.

In doing some research in late 2012 we were trying to decide if we wanted our new 5th Wheel to come with the combo washer and dryer or if we would rather have the storage space – the combos are normally placed in a bedroom closet.

The compact Panda washer is perfect for RVing
It’s a Panda!

Enter the “Panda” – it’s a compact washer/spin dryer that we learned about from reading reviews posted on the Internet saying how great they were for people with small apartments and in dorm rooms for the college bound.

Long story short, we bought one in 2013 and its been traveling with us in our 5th Wheel ever since. It’s lightweight, portable and very easy to use.

We fill the washer side half full with water, throw in some clothes with a HALF TEASPOON of laundry detergent (not a misprint!), fill it the rest of the way with water, set the length of time we want for the wash cycle and turn it loose. When this cycle is over we fill with water again and add a half teaspoon of fabric softener and run the rinse cycle. Then it drains easily in the sink and we transfer the clothes to the spin side of the machine and turn it on. It spins so fast that the clothes are just damp when we hang them up to finish drying.

More pictures and info about our “Panda” on our website at
http://www.snowbirdrvtrails.com/pandawasher.htm.

Best WiFi Booster Antenna for RVers? Making life on the road a little easier department!

Best WiFi Antenna for RVers?
Best WiFi Antenna for RVers?
Best WiFi Antenna for RVers?

Niki and I have a need to be able to access the Internet pretty much on a 24/7 basis. As you know, many campgrounds and RV parks advertise “Free WiFi” – and they do have it – but being able to access it is quite another matter. Maybe the fine print says “access it from the office porch or activity center” or maybe it’s a question of where you are in the campground in relation to the main transmitter or repeater stations.

We did our research, made our selection based on over 200 reviews. purchased it and put it to the test on our latest RV Route. You can see our review with some pros, cons and pics on our website at http://www.snowbirdrvtrails.com/bestwifiboosterantenna.htm. -Jack & Niki

Summary: A Popular Snowbird RV Route Florida to Upstate NY, Canada and New Egland

Map of our RV Route Tampa to the Northeast
Map of our RV Route Tampa to the Northeast
1,512 miles – Tampa,FL to the Northeast

Snowbird RV Trails
July 7 – July 15, 2015 – 7 Days & 6 Campgrounds
Start: Tampa, Florida
1.*Walkabout Camp & RV Park – Woodbine, Georgia – $17.60 – 228.2 miles
Blog Entry: Woodbine, Georgia
2. *Jolly Acres Camp – St. George, South Carolina – $17.12 – 187.3 miles
Blog Entry: St. George, South Carolina
3. VanHoy Farm Family Campground – Harmony, North Carolina – $45.00 – 223.7 miles
Blog Entry: Harmony, North Carolina
4. *Shenandoah Valley Campground – Mt. Jackson, Virginia – $24.74 – 263.5 miles
Blog Entry: Mt. Jackson, Virginia
5. Western Village RV Park – Carlisle, Pennsylvania  – $42.00 – 141.1 miles
Blog Entry: Carlisle, Pennsylvania
6. River Beach Campsites – Milford, Pennsylvania – $32.00 – 198.5 miles
Blog Entry: Milford, Pennsylvania
End: Magic Pines Campground – Lewis, New York – 257.8 miles
* – Passport America half-price parks

Totals:
1512.3 Towing Miles
Camping: $223.46
Food: $177.42
Gas: $414.70
Trip Cost: $815.58

Highlights:
Shuggs Southern Soul Cafe Restaurant – St. George, SC
The Shiloh General Store – Hamptonville, NC
Family Picnic – Harmony, NC

Thoughts:
The Interstates are in a sad state of disrepair in general and becoming worse each year. The bridges are patches on patches; the sub-structures are crumbling.
The traffic pattern around Charlotte, NC (I-77) is horrendous with bottlenecks backing traffic up for miles at drive time. Try to make it before or after the main rush or make sure you have a full gas tank.
I-84 from Wilkes-Barre to I-87 in New York is torn up and re-routed to opposite lanes for miles. The drive through the “chutes” (concrete barriers lining both sides of the 10′ wide lanes) seems endless. It will probably be under re-construction for a couple of years.

Conclusion:
America is beautiful and its people are warm and friendly. One day stopovers are not the way to see America. We normally spend at least 2 nights at each campground but due to our late start for this “Spring” Snowbird trip North, we opted for quick. We missed seeing a lot this time and are totally tired from the trip. It’s not the way to see the USA.
That said, this is a good and very popular route from Florida to the Northeast. It avoids much of I-95 and the big cities of Washington D.C., Philadelphia and Baltimore.

I do think we would definitely consider taking I-78 from Pennsylvania to the NY/New England area and avoid  I-84. Another option we often use is taking I-81 to Binghamton, NY and then I-88 to Albany and I-87 North toward Canada or I-90 East into New England..
If you have any questions about the route send us an email to snowbirdrvtrails@gmail.com and we will do our best to answer.

We look forward to meeting you on a Snowbird RV Trail one of these times but until then we wish you safe travels and enjoy the journey.

All the best,

Jack and Niki
K.C. & B.B.
snowbirdrvtrails.com

On the RV Road North – Day 7 – Milford, Pennsylvania

River Beach Campsites in Milford, Pennsylvania
River Beach Campsites in Milford, Pennsylvania

River Beach Campsites in Milford, PA  is a convenient stopover when traveling I-84 from Wilkes-Barre,PA to New York and New England. This is a destination campground for tenters, tubers and canoers and the office staff tells me the weekends can get pretty hectic.

They have plenty of tent sites, a line of Seasonal RVers along the Delaware River and a number of pull-thrus of varying lengths near the entrance and office.

The pull-thru sites have water, 30 Amp electric and cable. There are no sewer connections but there is a dump station. There is a small store with some camping and snack items.

There are a couple of pizza places nearby that deliver and Niki treated us to a nice dinner delivered by “Johns of Arthur Avenue” (570) 409-6996

Driving conditions on I-84 are not the best at this time as they have the Eastbound lanes closed and torn up for replacement. There are several miles where traffic is shuffled  to the Westbound side through what I call concrete chutes with retaining walls on either side to separate traffic. Speed is enforced and rigs wider than 10′ are not allowed. It looks like this will be the situation for at least another year or two.

This is the 6th and last campground stopover on this route from Tampa to the Adirondack Mountains. It is also a convenient point from which to begin your own journey East into New England or North into Canada.

Tomorrow the Adirondack Mountain – journey’s end and Trip Summary.

River Beach Campsites
378 Route 6 & 209, PO Box 382, Milford, PA 18337  (178 Miles)
800.356.2852 or 570.296.6030
($32/Night. PT, Water, Elec, Cable, Weak WiFi, Dump Station)
Directions: I-84, Exit 53 – Approximately 3 miles West on Rte 209
Website: http://kittatinny.com/camping/river-beach-campground/
Reviews: http://www.rvparkreviews.com/regions/pennsylvania/milford/river-beach-campground

On the RV Route North – Day 6 – Carlisle, Pennsylvania

Western Village RV Park in Carlisle, Pennsylvania
Western Village RV Park in Carlisle, Pennsylvania
Western Village RV Park in Carlisle, Pennsylvania

Our stop #5 is Western Village RV Park – 141 miles from our previous stop in Mt. Jackson, VA. It is a short run because, as we have mentioned, we like to keep our days on the road to 200 miles. In researching this stretch up through Pennsylvania we found that most of the campgrounds were either quite a distance from the highway or they had less than favorable reviews.

This campground is within an hour’s drive of Hershey Park, Gettysburg, the State Capitol, Lancaster and the Amish Country.

Al’s Pizza and Subs (717) 258-0006 is located nearby and they do deliver. Niki had their Philly Cheese Steak Wrap with a side salad and I had the spaghetti with meat sauce and a side salad. It was delivered fairly quickly and still hot. We both liked the food.

We have stayed here in the past and have written about it on our website at http://www.snowbirdrvtrails.com/westernvill.htm.

Next stop: Milford, Pennsylvania.

Western Village RV Park
200 Greenview Drive, Carlisle, PA 17015  (141.1 Miles)
(717) 243-1179    ($42/ night – NO discounts, Pull-Thrus & Back-Ins, 30/50 Amp, FHU, Free WiFi with decent reception)
Camp@WesternVillageRVPark.com

Directions: Only 2 miles from I-81,Exit 45. From I-81 South, take Exit 45 and turn right. From I-81 North, take Exit 45 and turn left. Greenview Drive will be on your left.

Website: http://westernvillagervpark.com/index.html
Reviews: http://rvparkreviews.com/regions/pennsylvania/carlisle/western-village-rv-park

On the RV Route North – Day 5 – Mt. Jackson, Virginia

Shenandoah Valley Campground in Mt. Jackson, Virginia
Shenandoah Valley Campground in Mt. Jackson, Virginia
Shenandoah Valley Campground in Mt. Jackson, Virginia

Our 4th stopover on this route from Tampa to Upstate NY is Shenandoah Valley Campground. It’s approximately 264 miles from our previous stop in Harmony, NC. We often stop here overnight when we travel I-81. It has a number of nice amenities like pizza and sandwiches available on the premises. That said I would also say it’s a better stop because of the Passport America half price rate.

We have made a day trip from here in the past up onto the Blue Ridge Parkway and through a portion of Shenandoah National Park. (See that excursion on our website at http://www.snowbirdrvtrails.com/shenandoahfamilycg.htm).

Other nearby attractions include Shenandoah Caverns (the only ones with elevator service), the Virginia Civil War Museum and also nearby is Route 11 (potato) Chips.

Next stop: Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

*Shenandoah Valley Campground
168 Industrial Park Rd, Mount Jackson, VA 22842  (263.5 Miles)
(540) 477-3080  (*PA $24.74 – 1 Night, Mon-Thurs. PT, FHU, Cable, Free WiFi with poor reception)

Directions: I-81 Exit 269 – Shenandoah Caverns/Mt. Jackson: If exiting from the South, turn left off of the ramp or right if coming from the North.
Website: https://www.shenandoahfamilycampground.com/
Passport America: http://www.passport-america.com/campgrounds/CampgroundDetails.aspx?campgroundid=3467

On the RV Road North – Days 3 & 4 – Harmony, North Carolina

VanHoy Farm Family Campground - Harmony, North Carolina
VanHoy Farm Family Campground - Harmony, North Carolina
VanHoy Farm Family Campground – Harmony, North Carolina

Our next stopover North from St. George, SC is Harmony, North Carolina and The VanHoy Farm Family Campground.
Shortly after leaving Jolly Acres in St George, SCand I-95 we picked up I-26 heading West to I-77 heading Northwest toward I-81.
The trek to VanHoy Campground was 224 miles. I-26 and I-77 are like all of the Interstates these days – mostly 4 lanes, separated and with some rough patches and construction. Our biggest problem on this run was going past Charlotte in mid-afternoon. It was bumper-to-bumper for miles and the truck thermometer was reading 101 outside degrees. This was a Friday and everyone was leaving work early and heading for their weekend. We are told we were lucky – don’t even try going around Charlotte afternoons at 5:30.

VanHoy Farm Campground is located just a few hundred yards from Exit 65 of I-77 and has decent sized sites with many being shaded. Their website mentions the availability of pull-thru sites with water and electric and a dump station for $33/night. When you arrive they will tell you that FHU sites are available for $45/night. Be sure to ask for your Good Sam discount if a member. They do have a nice swimming pool and a huge barn where they stage different events through the year from fiddlers to country and Gospel shows.

Family picnic in Harmony, North Carolina
Family picnic in Harmony, North Carolina

The main reason we chose the Harmony, NC location this time was to meet up with Niki’s RVing nephew Edd and his family – wife Shawna and daughter Libby; also coming for the picnic was Edd’s sister Becky (Niki’s niece) and Becky’s daughter Devan, and her little daughter Crystie. Niki had not seen Edd and Becky in many years and we had a great time around the picnic table and campfire catching up on family history. Edd’s family spent the night in their RV parked in the next campsite.

The Shiloh General Store, Hamptonville, North Carolina
The Shiloh General Store, Hamptonville, North Carolina

Another great discovery we made at this stopover was our visit to The Shiloh General Store in nearby Hamptonville, NC!
Shiloh General Store is owned and operated by the Graber Family – members of the Union Grove Amish Community. Father, Mother and 6 children all have a part in running the store. Each day starts with Father, Phil Graber up at 4 a.m. to start the dough, followed by son Mark at 5 a.m. to get the fried pies going. They have a full deli with delicious sandwiches made on their own homemade bread, pies, donuts, breads, a full line of deli meats and cheeses plus a store packed with bulk foods and shelves filled with every type of canned fruit, vegetable and meat. We can attest to the deliciousness of the sandwiches, French coconut pie and blackberry cheese rolls – yum!

Next stop North will be Mt. Jackson Virginia.

VanHoy Farm Family Campground
742 Jericho Rd, Harmony, NC 28634 (223.7 Miles)
(704) 539-5493 ($33/Day PT/w/Dump Station)
VanHoy Farms Family Campground is located in Harmony, Iredell County, North Carolina.
They are just 12 miles north of Statesville on I-77 at Exit 65 and NC 901.
Just about 300 yards off of I-77 on Jericho Road.
Campground Website: http://www.vanhoyfarms.com/
Reviews: http://www.rvparkreviews.com/regions/north-carolina/union-grove/van-hoy-farms-family-campground

More Trips, Tips, Maps and Reviews on our website at http://www.snowbirdrvtrails.com/

On the RV Road North – Day 2 – St. George, South Carolina

Jolly Acres RV Park in St. George, South Carolina
Jolly Acres RV Park in St. George, South Carolina
Jolly Acres RV Park in St. George, South Carolina

Our second stop on this RV route from Tampa to Plattsburg, NY and points Northeast is Jolly Acres Campground in St. George, South Carolina. It’s an easy 187 mile run straight up I-95 from last night’s stopover in Woodbine, Georgia.

If you’ve been with us on previous trips you’ll know that this is always a favorite stop for us. It is 5 miles off I-95 in a very quiet and peaceful country setting. Jolly Acres is a half-price Park for Passport America members. It’s gravel surfaced with each site a pull-thru with a cement pad, picnic table, and many have full hook-ups. Personable owner Beckie Horne keeps a very nice and clean RV Park/Campground. There is a laundry facility, propane available and a fenced in fishing pond with ducks.

Shugs Southern Soul Cafe Restaurant at 5792 Co Rd S-18-200 (Main St), St George, SC 
Shugs Southern Soul Cafe Restaurant at 5792 Co Rd S-18-200 (Main St), in St George, SC

Another big reason we like to stop in St. George is Shugs Southern Soul Cafe Restaurant at 5792 Co Rd S-18-200 (on Main St), St George, SC  Phone (843) 563-2300. We have said it before and will mention it again – this is the place for really good Southern Home cooking.

At Shugg’s this evening, Niki chose the Shrimp & Grits Dinner with cornbread and collard greens. I had the Shrimp & Oyster Platter with Collard Greens and Mashed Potatoes. We shared a Hot Fudge Brownie for dessert. It was all prepared perfectly and so delicious.

The restaurant is owned by the Coleman’s. Noah is the Chef and his wife Blanche oversees the dining room. She took some time to chat with us and we enjoyed seeing the improvements since our last visit – a new bar area and a bandstand where weekends can get pretty lively.
For more info about Shug’s: http://shugssouthernsoulcafe.com/

We are staying just the one night but did unhitch so we could drive into Town for dinner.

Tomorrow we will have a longer trip going North on I-26 and I-77 up into North Carolina where we hope to meet with some of Niki’s kinfolk.

More from the road tomorrow….

*Jolly Acres Camp & Storage
289 Horne Taylor Road, Saint George, SC 29477 (187.3 Miles) 843-563-8303   (*PA $17.12 Pull-Thru, 50A, FHU) (PA available Sun – Thurs)
Email  jollyacrescamp@hughes.net
From I-95 Exit #77 (Saint George) take Highway 78 East for 4.8 miles to Horne Taylor Road (At Byrds)(Campground sign on left). Turn Left on Horne Taylor Road and they are 3/4 mile on the Left.
Website: http://www.syrrrun.com/
Passport America Info: http://passportamerica.com/campgrounds/sc/jollyacresrvparkandstorage1982

Find more RVing information on our website:
http://www.snowbirdrvtrails.com/