Wednesday, June 27, 2018

OK, as usual, we're already 3 weeks at our summer spot and I still haven't put a blog up! What else is new?
Well, actually, I don't have a finished one up (yet), but I do have all the pictures sorted and made temporary entrees, so the dates on which they are posted are 'taken' and sort of in order of how they happened. 
Which sounds very complicated, never mind, I don't understand it myself either ... it's a work in progress and I'll work on it in the coming weeks .. hopefully ..

Anywho, like I said, we have arrived, in Akron, NY, and are all set up and have settled into our site at the Sleepy Hollow Lake Campground.

We scored a pretty nice site, only one neighbor at our back and fortunately they're an older couple, no kids or dogs, who are staying for 2 months so we're good.

We're under a cluster of Poplar trees, or Cottonwoods, who will give us some nice dappled shade this summer. At the moment they are pollinating and release their "cotton fluff" into the air, it seems like it's snowing at times!


Fortunately, we don't have allergies!

James had already set up a couple of appointments with contractors in the neighborhood and as far as Buffalo, so a few days after we arrived we spent a day driving around and checking out the various
work situations, campgrounds and surroundings to see where we would want to settle.

But we had also noticed that there seemed to be some work/building going around at the campground where we were staying, and to make a long story short, James ended up taking a job to finish up the new pool house and various other projects for the summer.
He bartered for the site and hookups, always a nice deal, plus a reasonable wage on top of that.
No commute (very nice with the current gas-prices) but a very short walk to work, which also means home for coffee and lunch breaks.

His work is variable, which he likes, some electric, some plumbing, some carpentry, some painting ...

Eeeks! (but it beats having paint in your hair)

Since they want to open the pool on the 4th of July he is working 6 days a week until than, so we have not been able to do much sight-seeing yet, but we did find a Walmart in Batavia, about 16 miles east of us, and a few golf courses that are reasonable priced (through Golf-Now) at about the same distance.

We golfed at the Batavia Country Club on Fathers Day, which was not the smartest thing to do since it was packed, but most of them only played nine, so we had a nice round after all after we made the turn.

So far this place has already been very 'lucky' for me. As you can see I found three four-leaved clovers! I wasn't even looking for them, they just 'caught my eye' ..

Now I don't now if that means I have three times the luck or will be lucky for three times, but it so happened that the next day they were shearing the Alpacas and Llama that are living in the little petting Zoo they have over here, and guess who walked away with the fleeces?


Ha! Pretty lucky eh? Look at all that beautiful, colorful and sumptuous fluff!


It will be a lot of work, sorting, washing, combing or carding before I can do any spinning but I happen to like that whole process and have lots of time to do it, so .. I'm a very happy camper!
 I just wonder if I now have used up one of those clovers and have (only) two more to go?

Well, that's about it for starters. I'll have some more pics of the campground next time and some updates on the fleece process.
By the way, the weather has been quite beautiful, mostly around the low 70's, just about perfect, although we had some rain the last couple of days too. Hey, it's New York ...

We've had some nice, summery, outside meals already ..

Unfortunately next week it's going to be hot, with record temperatures in the 90's, Yikes! I thought we left that behind in Louisiana! Always something ..

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

I guess I left the previous post rather abruptly, but here we are, on our way to Shreve, Ohio! 
This post will be the last one of our spring-travels and it's a loooong one once again, so buckle up, here we go ...

Taking mostly highways, we had an easy drive from Jackson, PA to Shreve, Ohio.
Since we were coming up on the Memorial Day weekend and anticipated fully booked campgrounds, we'd made reservations at the Lake Wapusu campground in advance.

Which was a good thing, since they were pretty much full indeed.
We managed to make the somewhat awkward site work for us, by squeezing in side ways, which actually turned out to be a perfect move, since now we were facing away from all the rather crazy activity around us.

The main reason we'd chosen to spend some time here was the fact that we were right on the edge of Holmes county which is made up  predominately of Amish and Mennonite communities.

When we started touring the pretty rolling hills of the countryside the next morning, it was immediately evident that we were in 'Amish Country' ... there they were ... our first horse-and-buggies!

I was thrilled to see them! It's one thing to see pictures or TV documentaries, but to see them in the wild ... amazing! I almost couldn't believe they were for real ..

But they are. The people in their old-fashioned outfits, the buggies, the farms without electricity  ...
We drove through Berlin, hoping to find the visitor center open but unfortunately they were closed on a Sunday. Just like most shops, and especially the Amish ones of course .. didn't think about that, duhhh ..

One was open though and we took a look inside. This was a sort of tool and antique shop, very interesting all these old-fashioned tools ..

In the back of the shop we came up-close and personal with an Amish couple, looking to have something made for the roof of their house.
Further down the road we came across many unusual shops, like this buggy-factory:

Also some very unusual, but of course very necessary, parking spaces next to shops and restaurants ..


Since most shops were closed we decided to take a tour of an Amish Home, the Yoder's Home, in Millersburg. 

This small farm offers tours of the two homes on the property, an old-order and a newer one. A knowledgeable guide talks a little about the history, religion, habits and rituals and their clothing and furniture.
It's a good introduction to the Amish culture.

In the kitchen women are making cookies, breads, and other baked goods, which you can buy at the end of tour.

Afterward you can visit the barn animals. I got to hold this adorable cute baby goat ...

An Amish girl explained a little about farm life and the animals in particular .. and her father (I think) took us for a short drive around the fields in a buggy ..


Touristy yes, but hey, it's fun to actually sit in one of those buggies for a little and get a 'feel' for it ..
There's an old schoolhouse on the property where a young 'teacher' talks a bit about their school system.

I never knew they only go to school until the 8th grade, which they deem sufficient for an agricultural lifestyle. No high school, no college, nothing ...

But although the formal learning is over, the Amish focus on numerous means of informal, practical learning, such as reading, as well as apprenticeships and mentor-ships.
The Mennonites on the other hand, go to the 'normal' US schools and the New Order Mennonites can also go to College and University.

Since we'd worked up an appetite, how fortunate, now was the time to check out some of the local Amish 'cuisine'!
There were a lot of local Amish restaurants to choose from, but we ended up at Mrs Yoder's Kitchen.

A Country restaurant that serves down-home Amish dishes like baked fried chicken, beef casserole, ham and specialties like home made noodles which you eat on top of mashed potatoes, smothered in dandelion (w/bacon) gravy!
Of course we had to try the latter and it was delicious!
We were too stuffed for desert but had to take some home for later, how about Date-nut pudding or Fry Pies:


Or you can go to the ice-cream parlor:

A lot of Amish and Mennonites are from Pennsylvania-Dutch heritage (which, in contrary of what a lot of people think, is not Dutch but German) but quite a few are also from Swiss decent.
The town of Sugarcreek that we visited is a Swiss-looking village, even has a giant Cuckoo clock in the town-center, and there are several Cheese factories in the area that make (and sell) Swiss cheeses.

We took a tour of Heini's Cheese Chalet, where we saw cheese being made, got away with some delicious horse-radish cheese, and James couldn't resist buying a bottle of peanut-butter/marshmallow (!) spread and a jar of apple-butter.

This area, which is Holmes County, is home to the largest Amish and Mennonite population in the world, in fact they make up 85% of this county's population.
Now, the difference between the two religions is not always that clear, tough practice varies, today Amish and Mennonites share values of non-resistance, adult baptism, and in some cases plain clothing.

There are a number of differences between the two groups, especially when it comes to technology. 
Old Order Mennonites generally allow electricity in the home, as well as telephones. They make greater use of tractors as well.
So if you see electricity going to a farm you know they are not Amish.
Colorful dresses are also a give-away for being Mennonite ...

Some New-order Mennonites are driving cars, even the women, but the bicycle or step is an overall favorite with the Old-order ..

The Amish mainly still plow their fields by horse and plow and by hand.
We saw many men, wearing their traditional straw hats and suspenders, busy working their teams of beautiful draft-horses.

Monday is definitely laundry-day in Amish Country, done with tub-style wringer-washers and than line-dried!
I loved seeing all that laundry flapping in the wind on those loooong lines ...

What an interesting couple of days we had! I'd wanted to see 'the Amish' for a long time and it sure was a very special 'encounter'.
It's not such a romantic live as sometimes depicted, life is pretty tough without electricity, but it definitely has it charms ...

But most of us have to live in the modern world, so let's back to it, shall we?
Our next destination was Conneaut, OH, about 135 miles to the NE, all the way up to Lake Erie. 


We'd booked our campground, the Evergreen Lake Park,through our Passport America membership again ($20/night), and we had a nice, roomy pull-through site.
The park is only a couple of miles from Conneaut and Lake Erie, so the next day we drove about 14 miles E on Lake Road towards North Kingsville, where we'd booked a round of golf at the municipal golf course.

After a coffee break at Sunset Park, right next to the Lake, we went over to the Village Green Golf Course right across from the park.


Booked through Golf-Now, this was a very nice public course, very well maintained and fortunately not very busy.

After the round we continued  touring Lake Rd for a little longer until we reached touristy Geneva-on-the-lake, from where we turned around and headed back to Conneaut.


Most houses along this beautiful road all have a gorgeous lake view, I bet they don't come cheap!


Back in Conneaut we ended the day at the marina at the Breakwall BBQ.
It was a little foggy over the lake so the lighthouse wasn't quite visible but it was warm enough to have dinner on the patio and overlook the little harbor.

The food was outstanding! Good enough to make a fairly large detour for if we had to!

The next day we drove to the city of Erie, just over the state line into New York. 
We're not much for cities but we wanted to visit the Presque Isle State Park, which sits on a peninsula that arches into lake Erie, just north of town.

From the peninsula you have a view of the Presque Isle Bay, the harbor and Erie in the distance.
The Park is beautiful, with many different wildlife habitats who attract lots of rare and even endangered species.

A park ranger pointed us in the direction of a free, scenic pontoon-boat tour offered by the park, that takes you into the interior of the island.
Free? Count us in!


The guide was a little bit odd, but the tour itself was quite nice. Floating quietly through the estuaries, we came across a lot of turtles, birds and abundant plant life, while the odd guide explained about the history and wildlife of the area.

That's a beautiful Yellow Warbler there in the middle

Prime sun-bathing log ...

Eleven goslings, geese have big families!

After the boat tour we finished the 'loop' around the island and started to head back.

We came by the Presque Isle Lighthouse, where we walked out to the lake and even got our feet wet!

Back at the mainland it was time for lunch so we stopped at Sara's, another Triple D, Guy Fiery approved diner!
We ordered the Lake Erie Perch-basket. Very good!

This place is crazy busy, it's clearly a locale's favorite but also tourist from around the world visit here and love the old-fashioned diner atmosphere, the great 50's memorabilia and the tasty basic American hamburgers and ice-cream.

Alright, time for a tour of some of the other famous tourist attractions of the region ... the covered bridges of Ashtabula County!
Ashtabula County has the most public covered bridges, currently 18, of any county in Ohio, which span two rivers, three creeks and more than 100 years of history.  

You can do a self-driven tour by following signs like the one above that are posted in the county. 
Since a lot of these bridges are not build for big trucks like ours, we had to adjust our tour a little, to avoid a few that were either too low or too narrow or couldn't hold our weight.

There were still many left to see though, like the one above, which is the Middle Road Bridge, built in 1868 over Conneaut Creek and the one below, the South Denmark Road Bridge of 1890, spanning Mill Creek.

The majority of the bridges are surrounded by Ashtabula's rural landscape, a mixture of farmland and woodland, with dozens of well-placed wineries and farm stands. throughout
We spent several hours criss-crossing the countryside, and ended up seeing 12 bridges before a thunderstorm made us quit.


(By the way, Ashtabula has way more covered bridges than the "Bridges of Madison County", the Iowa locale made famous by author Robert James Waller and actors Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep, which has only six).


It was a great tour, seeing these bridges take you back to days gone by, and I can imagine the lovely horse drawn carriages crossing these beautiful structures.
Links or 'crossings' to the past, they call them, and that they are ...

Time to leave Ohio and point the truck to the state that will be our end-destination for the summer, Upstate New York!
Although we were only 124 miles from Buffalo, NY, where we figure we'll end up somewhere, we decided on a detour to Jamestown to pay a visit to some of New York's Amish as well.
(As if we hadn't seen enough of them yet ...)
This is the  entrance to the campground and an Amish carriage passing by ..
Top-a-rise Campground, in Falconer, another PA-campground, turned out to be a little outside of Jamestown, in the countryside, on top of a .. rise, indeed!
Going up the steep hill didn't give us much trouble, we just went very slow, but it already had me worried about going down ... oh well, first things first ..

Just like James to have his own town. Show-off ..

Another reason for visiting this town, was the fact they have an honest-to-god 'Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum', if you can believe it! Apparently this is Lucy's hometown. Who knew?

We're not specific great Lucy fans but we always enjoyed her shows and it was just great fun (ha) to see the sets, costumes and memorabilia on display, awards they were both given, and photographs of both their personal and TV live.

They even had a replica of their 'long, long trailer', from the movie we had watched and enjoyed, and which of course is a must see for RV-ers.

Afterward we drove to the town of Celoron, a little further down the road, to see a bronze statue of Lucy:

Funny enough (pun intended) this statue was commissioned to replace another sculpture unveiled just seven years ago. Critics complained the original didn't resemble Ball and it soon came to be known as "Scary Lucy."

Image result for scary lucy 
 I mean .. what were they thinking?

Driving home we passed Chautauqua Lake and stopped for an ice-cream in Bemus Point, a quint little village that has a distinct, laid back 'beach-feel' to it.

Here's for another fun fact ... our campground was, literary, surrounded by Breezewood Links, a public golf course. How's that for convenient?

Of course we played several rounds here. Quite a nice course and a full 18 holes!
James almost talked himself into a job here for the summer, but we already had some people lined up in Buffalo, so we 'kept it in the back of our minds' for now ..

And that brings me, once again, to the Amish!

The visitor center of Randolph, a town close by,  gives out an 'Amish Trail' map which shows all the Amish farms, homes/stores (often one and the same) in the area. 

Around here, the Amish are considered to be Old Order, which is  very conservative.
No electricity, old fashioned farming practices and a more 'plain' dress code, dark colors only, are the most visible traits of this order.
But, like most of the others, they also make a living from farming and handcrafting products for sale.


There are many shops operated from the Amish homes here, you just follow the hand-painted signs in the yards.
We bought some preserves and eggs and also some homemade candy along the way.

 It being Monday again, clothes were drying on the lines, some on porches, some in the yards. Gardens were freshly planted, cows and goats were grazing in the fields. 
It was like time stood still for a little while..

We saw several men and young boys plowing their fields using horses, and passed many (slowly!) in their horse drawn carts and buggies.

How about this contraption for cutting wood ... not the safest according to James!

Quite often the girls are barefoot, what's that about?

Many girls are working the gardens ..

And guess who is doing most of the mowing around the house?

What an extraordinary life this is! Not easy, like I said before, not even talking about this strict religion, but what a relief to not see hurrying people everywhere, busy traffic, or .. gasp .. any cell-phones!

I'll miss seeing these cute people and their pretty horses and quaint buggies ... I hope they'll be able to keep their lifestyle alive and prosper!

Well, I did it! It's finished! These were the chronicles of our Spring-trip north.
I hope you enjoyed it (whom am I talking to?). 
I did, although it was an epic chore, but it was fun reminiscing and sort of reliving the whole journey.

Here's to next adventures, or, to say it with Dr. Seuss: 
"Oh, the places we'll go!"