For the final three weeks of the RV Trip, we visited Glacier, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton National Parks, all the while perfecting the art of clapping while whistling to ensure we did not join the ranks of careless tourists who became a bear’s lunch. While on one of these hikes in Glacier National Park, we heard some rustling in the trees nearby and turned sideways to see two baby bears playing in the trees. Fearing mama bear was likely close by, we clapped our little hearts out, blew our whistles frantically, and ran. Thankfully we never saw the mom and now feeling brave in hindsight we both feel a little regret over not stopping to snap some photos – they were SO CLOSE to us.
Yellowstone is huge. It’s so huge. It took us several days to see everything but it’s so worth the long drives in and out of the park. Alice & Dan met us for this part of the trip and we had so much fun (as we always do with them) checking out the hot springs, geysers, paint pots, lakes and mountains. As we were staying near the west entrance between Yellowstone & Glacier, we relocated after a few days to the south entrance to spend time exploring the Tetons with Al & Dan. We worked up an appetite hiking near Jackson and Jenny Lakes and ate the largest hamburger I’ve ever seen in Teton Village.
After falling in love with Jackson Hole in the fall and vowing to return for some skiing in the winter, we said goodbye to Al & Dan, hopped in Clyde, and headed for Florida. Clyde’s new home is on a beautiful lot overlooking a large pond with a lovely family in Acadia, FL.
It was the most wonderful year of our lives.
It is nearly a year past the date we ended our 13-month trip around the states in Clyde as I sit down to write the final two entries. After sifting through the pictures from August and September of 2018, it doesn’t seem possible that so much time has passed. (And it makes me wonder what we have done with the last 12 months of our lives.) The ridingwithclyde website will remain out there in the world, but my ability to edit it ends TODAY. How’s that for defining procrastination.
After parking Clyde in Wisconsin for a long term stay, we traveled by car to Chicago (a city I truly love, but one that is rather indifferent to RVers). We stayed at my sister’s place for several weeks while visiting friends & family and attended the wedding of one of my cousins – congratulations Duck and Justin! (It is now nearly your 1-year anniversary!) In late August we headed out for the final leg of the trip, first destination: South Dakota. On our way to the Badlands, we stopped for a night in Minneapolis and paid our respects to the late, great Prince. With my jaw on the floor and a slightly bored Johan by my side, I toured Paisley Park and all of its weirdness. Though I feel strongly he should have fired his decorator long ago, it was amazing to stand inside the home where a tiny man recorded some of the biggest music ever made.
Thanks to our dear friend Sue Atkinson, we executed a perfect four days in South Dakota, visiting the 1880 Town (a place we would have blown right by if not for the itinerary she provided, thank you Sue!), the Corn Palace, the Badlands, Sturgis, Deadwood, Crazy Horse, and Mount Rushmore. We’ll head back in 10 years to check on the progression of the Crazy Horse monument.
During the last week of July we traveled around northern Michigan. “Up North” is considered to be the area from Midland to Mackinac (so we’re told) and is not to be confused with The UP, which is the Upper Peninsula. Whatever you call it, we found northern Michigan to be absolutely stunning and just couldn’t get enough of the adorable lakeside communities. We took Shepler’s ferry to Mackinac Island and walked around the island. We saw beautiful homes along the way and wondered with sadness how these poor people lived without Amazon Prime, there being no cars on the island and all. And then our spirits lifted for the island residents when we saw the equivalent of the mainland UPS delivery truck: a horse-drawn flatbed loaded with those familiar brown cardboard boxes with the black arrow. It is a civilized place after all.
We arrived in Charlevoix just in time for a parade followed by their Venetian Festival. In Petoskey we got lost grabbing goodies on sale at the downtown sidewalk sale. We stuffed our $5 sweatshirts in the car and rode our bikes along the lake to Bay Harbor. Then we took Clyde across the Mackinac Bridge to the UP and swore we’d be back!
On the 22nd of July, we left Niagara Falls and stopped in Cleveland for two nights on our way to northern Michigan. Of course our first stop was the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, which is truly a full day’s worth of roaming around reminiscing about great musicians who changed music forever. We paid particular attention to our favorites (Dire Straits for Johan and Prince for me), but of course there are so many amazing bands and eras that were cool to learn about. When I saw a large picture of Madonna I remembered it was the exact poster that was taped to the ceiling in my childhood bedroom, which inspired me to wear too many bracelets and a green headband to class in the 5th grade. That afternoon we took a walk in Edgewater Park, where the sun suddenly slipped behind the clouds and it began to pour. One minute we could see the city skyline and then next minute it was completely gone. Made for interesting photos!
On day 2 we explored the West Side Market, Little Italy, and Tremont. There was an Irish festival at the county fairgrounds where we stayed, so naturally we had Guiness on tap, shopped for Celtic trinkets, and learned the meaning of my grandmother’s maiden name.
Niagara Falls sort of speaks for itself…you can be the judge from the unedited photos below! The collective Niagara Falls, made up of American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Horseshoe Falls can be seen from helicopter or boat, but we thought the views from land were also pretty spectacular. It was worth sitting in the long line of cars at the border (both ways) to drive into Ontario (our 3rd Canadian province visited in this “trip through the states”) to the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake on the Canadian side. Though you will pass a Botanical Gardens along the way, you may actually find Niagara-on-the-Lake a botanical wonder of its own. The vineyards passed along the way are so beautiful that we decided it’s worth a trip back one day to really stop and enjoy the Wineries of Niagara, known for their ice wines, while staying at the Prince of Wales Hotel with their beautiful flowers.
We stopped for 2 quick nights in Lake George on our way from upstate New York to Niagara Falls. We stayed at the Lake George Schoon Valley RV Resort on the river at the foothills of the Adirondacks. I did some online shopping in preparation for our visit to Chicago while Johan paddled the kayak upstream. On the second day we hiked up Prospect Mountain (short but steep with a great view at the top), tasted some whiskey spirits at Lake George Distillery, and had dinner at Frederick’s in Bolton Landing. A perfect way to break up the long drive to the Falls!
We left Clyde in Plattsburg and drove Bonnie into Quebec for a birthday celebration weekend in Montreal. Montreal is a beautiful city with so much to see. We didn’t get far enough by foot on Day 1, so we spent Day 2 riding our way through the well-marked bike lanes in the city to be sure we saw and experienced everything. Our first landmark was to drive up Mount Royal (which we learned is where Montreal gets its name from). The picture of the city that surrounds Mount Royal is a bit hazy so I guess we’ll just have to go back to get a clearer picture someday. After parking the car, we set off on foot in search of the Quartier Latin, Rue Ste Catherine, the Quartier des Spectacles and poutine. We freshened up at the hotel (and enjoyed 30 minutes of air conditioning), and headed out to Le Local for Johan’s official birthday dinner. We enjoyed meeting the owner of Le Local who was working behind the bar and shared stories about travelling the states in an RV and owning a restaurant (only one of which we know how to do; the other we learned about). We parted ways after exchanging email addresses and handshakes and also after being assured it is not a crime to speak English in the French-speaking province of Quebec. We left dinner determined to stay up all night in the city which seemed especially enegertic late at night. We walked through Old Montreal and saw hundreds of people sitting in the park watching various movies and slide shows on the sides of old buildings. We returned to the Quartier des Spectacles where we expected to see a nighttime parade because of the Montreal Cirque Festival. Instead we found an Irish pub (and a super cool bartender who gifted us a Belgian Duvel bottle opener upon learning it was Johan’s birthday), and an otherwise fairly sleepy street. It seems the performers all went home for the day and frankly it was way, WAY past our bedtime. We rode the bikes to Rue Ste Paul the next day to catch the World Cup final (we were routing for Croatia, but were the minority of course), and visited the Notre-Dame Basilica. Bon anniversaire mon amour!
We got to the Adirondack region in mid-July just in time for Johan’s 52nd birthday. We actually celebrated twice – on his actual birthday we took the Lake Champlain ferry to Burlington, Vermont and rode the e-bikes into town via the Burlington Greenway bike path and had lunch at Splash! At the Boathouse. After lunch we walked around Church Street Marketplace, had an iced coffee (courtesy of Starbucks for J’s b-day), and then ferried back to Plattsburg. The next day we drove around exploring a few of the craft breweries and wineries popping up in the area – watch out Temecula, the Adirondack Coast Wine Trail has a lot to offer!
In early July we left Lubec for Bangor, ME. Fleeing beastly high temperatures inland, we drove to the coast every day, exploring Acadia National Park, Belfast, Camden, Searsport, Wiscasset, Boothbay, and Bath. The next time we hike up Cadillac Mountain in Acadia, we will time it for spring or fall, but the views really do make you appreciate the sweat equity spent climbing to the top. That is, until you discover that everyone else who drove to the top gets the exact same incredible view and looks better in their pictures (no wet spots on their t-shirts or drenched stringy hair sticking to their face). The hike back takes about a quarter of the time it took to get to the top, and we gladly hopped in the car to find Sand Beach and Bar Harbor without using our legs. When you get to Sand Beach you wonder how it is possible to see turquoise water at the base of the mountain as if you suddenly descended on a Caribbean Island. It was beautiful but crowded, as one might expect on a 90+ degree day in July. Bar Harbor is a lovely town that we will go back to explore more one day; while there we enjoyed a walk down Main Street and a beer at Atlantic Brewing Company (and tried not to offend people with our “hiking smell”). Of the other small harbor towns along the Maine Coast, Belfast and Camden are two of the larger ones, although all of them are unique and charming in their own way. We can’t wait to return to enjoy more of their beauty (and lobster rolls).
At the end of June we arrived in Lubec, Maine, otherwise known as the Easternmost Town in the U.S. (The sun rises at 4am in the summer!) We stayed at the Sunset Point Campground in Lubec – this campground offers amazing views and definitely ranks at the top of our Best 10 campgrounds in the U.S. list! The main attraction in Lubec is Quoddy Head State Park with its pictueresque striped lighthouse just outside of town, but we would argue the best part is the village of Lubec and the people who run the small businesses on Water Street. Over the course of a week, we ate at Cohill’s Inn, Frank’s Dockside, Water Street Tavern, and the Lubec Brewing Company. We also had the pleasure of spotting a bald eagle and her babies, porpoises, seals, and even a couple of whales with Captain Ralph on his Downeast Charter boat tour. Across the International Bridge is Campobello Island, New Brunswick. Campobello Island was home to the summer house of Eleanor and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. (And the only non US-based home of a US president while in office.) The island is beautiful and has fabulous hiking trails which wind around part of the island and offer views all along the way. Once we finished the hike, we drove to the furthest point of the island to see the Head House Lightstation (the white lighthouse with the “red cross”). Once daily the tide goes out far enough to walk to the lighthouse by climbing down and then up a terrifying long, steep ladder on each side. Get back on foot before the tide comes in or you will be traveling back by boat after the Canadian Coast Guard rescues you! While staying in Lubec, we also visited Eastport and Calais in Maine, and Saint Stephens in New Brunswick. Our time in the Easternmost part of the U.S. earned Maine more “love” points from us, placing it among the top two states we have visited on the trip this year.
We spent a week in late June in Lincoln, New Hampshire in the White Mountain National Forest. This being our first trip to New Hampshire, we had no idea what to expect. The White Mountains are simply gorgeous, with endless trails to walk, hike, bike and drive. Johan went out the first afternoon to pick up some groceries and on his way found a car racing event, which was also an unexpected surprise. Being in the mountains was a change from the coastal towns we’ve been frequenting lately, and we forgot how calming it is to take long, quiet hikes while surrounded by tall trees. On Father’s Day we hiked the Franconia Falls Trail in Franconia Notch. Franconia Falls is about 7 miles out and back, and we tacked on a detour to Black Pond to make the total trip an even 10. Next we took the 26-mile Franconia Notch Bike Trail from the Skookumchuck Trailhead to Flume Gorge, stopping along the way to see the Old Man of the Mountain (though the actual “old man” has fallen off the mountain, they have created a really cool exhibit where you can stand and see what you would have seen before the rocks fell away), Echo Lake, Cannon Mountain and the New England Ski Museum, The Basin, and Flume Gorge at the base of Mount Liberty. Twice we went to the town of Littleton for dinner, it’s an adorable village with some darling shops and restaurants. We had great pizza and beer at Schilling Beer Company, and a really good burger at the Beal House. It’s another town with truly genuine people, and I can only imagine how beautiful it must be in the fall and winter. On our last day, we hiked 3 miles up Mt. Washington, getting just above the treeline to take some pics of the breathtaking views before ducking out of the wind and heading back down. Some very brave hikers (undeterred by extreme wind conditions and in much better shape than we are) go all the way to the top, but we’ll save that for another day. We’ll just call that a stretch goal for a future visit. You can also ride a steam train on the COG Railway to the top and hike down the mountain, getting the views and mileage in but without the whole part where you first have to walk UP the mountain. Before going home for the night we stopped to explore the grounds of the Mt. Washington Resort, so lovely. A convention of Edward Jones employees wandered around with nametags and portfolios reminding us of a time when we worked 9-to-5. Boy do we miss those days. (Ha) We’ll head back to New Hampshire in the winter sometime so Johan can get in some skiing, and in the summer when we have forgotten how many shades of green there are in the White Mountains.
On June 12th we left Cape Cod for Winslow Memorial Park in Freeport, Maine. The views from our site were incredible, and the park itself is located about 15 miles north of downtown Portland. Freeport is home to L.L. Bean and has become a town with outlet stores of all kinds lining the streets in old buildings, which makes for a charming downtown area that feels nothing at all like an outlet mall. We scored some good hiking pants and shirts at the North Face outlet, but after two more stores, Johan was anxious to get out of Freeport. I suppose we don’t have any room in Clyde for more clothes anyway.
There is so much more to downtown Portland than we expected, so we went a few times. We were most pleasantly surprised by the food, which was wonderful whether it was local seafood or a good old fashioned burger. We had great meals at the Blue Spoon in Munjoy Hill, Alisson’s in Kennebunkport, and Gather in Yarmouth. In addition to great foodie food, Portland and the surrounding area surprised us with it’s beautiful landscapes, walking paths, lack of traffic, and cool brewery scene. (Allagash!) For both of us, this was our first time in Maine. It’s definitely up there with Idaho when we consider our favorite places in the states, mostly because while there are many gorgeous parts of this incredible country, there are few inhabited by people who collectively make visitors wish they could become locals someday. Greater Portland is a culture of welcoming, artistic and kind folks who are so enjoyable to be around. We love Portland!