12.  Remembering history with friends, and discovering America again.

After leaving North Carolina and the Outer Banks we made it to an Elks Lodge in Norfolk, Virginia.  When we arrived, we thought we were in the wrong location and that our GPS lead us astray again.  Little did we know that in back of the low income housing projects and road machinery equipment which was protected by a big chain link fence with barbed wire on top, was a 7 acre plot of land where an Elks lodge was.  We were met by another older couple who was staying there at the Elks.  It had a nice big field for us to park right next to them.  (We had to share the power plug and water.)  We met Bob the 85 year old that took care of the whole 7 acres.  He said he couldn’t do it all anymore, so Kelly helped him that afternoon with hauling branches and cutting up a tree.  We also met the lady in charge of the Elks and she told the story about how they got the property really cheap and at the time it was all pasture and their big building.  Now no one wants to come to that neighborhood anymore and the Lodge there is dying.  It is such a nice facility but only has 20 members left.   A big contrast from some of the other Elks lodges we stayed at.  The Elks in Ephrata Pennsylvania, has a trust and over 800 members!  

We also stay at Supercenter Walmarts when we traveling between locations to help off set the KOA campgrounds fees.  The most expensive KOA we have stayed at was the one in Townsend TN campground in the Smokey Mountains for $85 a night!  We have joined a membership camping club with Thousand Trails but a lot of their locations are out of the way from the places we want to go.  We will use the Thousand Trails at a later date.

We did get to stay at our friends home in Virginia.  Larry and Judy Nelson are former Seaside residents who went to our church, and we have known them for 30 + years. Larry also taught our son Andrew at Gearhart Elementary School.  Their daughter Heather, built a beautiful home on several acres of land in Virginia.  Larry and Judy decided Virginia might be a good place to live and be near their daughter.   They built a cozy cottage behind Heather’s house.  Their oldest daughter Holly was also visiting with her two adorable children, so we got to see them as well.  We had to reluctantly leave a little sooner than we wanted due to an approaching storm that Kelly did not want to mess with pulling a 38′ fifth wheel.  We will just have to come back!  Larry and Judy are the kind of friends that you can just pick up where you left off and not miss a beat.  We miss seeing them at our church and in our community.  Heather started a program called Reining Hope on her ranch.  This is a program for children that need a little extra love and attention or might be developmentally disabled.  Heather sets up sessions with them and they can ride horses, help garden, feed chickens or do anything else on the ranch.  The volunteers in turn can minister to the children and talk to them about Jesus.  The focus is on Equine therapy and many good things are happening with this ministry.  Check out the website at  www.reininghope.com.  Thank you Nelson family!

Fun times… having dinner with Larry & Judy.

Taking the Jamestown Ferry to historic Williamsburg.

The towns folk staying in character.  We saw the leather maker, blacksmith, candle stick maker, wig maker, gunsmith, wood worker just to name a few.  All of the workers were doing their trade as it was done in the 1770’s (Revolutionary War Era).  

On our tour of the Governor’s Palace with our guide.  Colonial Williamsburg was the capital during the American Revolutionary War.  Most of the buildings have been rebuilt and  the town is like a living history museum because of community organizations and the financial support of John D. Rockefeller Jr.  (Son of the founder of Standard Oil)  The Rockefeller family has done so much for the preservation of museums, libraries and other history projects like Williamsburg.  They were very good stewards of their money!

Original site of the church were John Smith and Pocahontas were married in the Jamestown Colony.

Part of the old fort walls in Jamestown.

Kelly’s distant relative King James IV of Scotland.  Do you see the resemblance?

Play day at SixFlags America in Maryland.

And away he goes…. 0 to 55 mph on the Apocalypse ride.

The states are so close together that in an hour or two you are in a different state!  Heading for the Amish country now.

We were the only campers at the Ephrata Elks Lodge.  The people were so nice. I played Bingo with them and lost every time for 10 games.  The local women sitting next to me during the game felt sorry for me and said, “We are going to get you some chubs to take back with you.”  I asked what chubs were and they told me bologna.  I did not tell them I hate bologna, but to my surprise they were like Hickory Farms summer sausage.  They “won” them for me by playing another game of chance that the lodge organizes for its members.  The money is then split 50/50 with a local charity. Two more people bought the scratch off tickets and “won” two more chubs for us!  All three chubs were different and good.  It was so cute to see them all working together to give us something from Pennsylvania, so we would remember them!

In downtown Ephrata, they honor all their military vets by posting these large banners around town.  It was very touching to see.

So many historical and beautiful homes in the town and all over the Northeast.

The bingo ladies told me we had to go to the town of Lititz.  It was founded by members of the Morovian Church and was named after a castle in Bohemia.  For a whole century, only Morovians were allowed to live in the city.  They had created like a commune with many large buildings.  One building was used as a hospital during the American Revolution and some were used as part of the oldest all girl boarding school in the United States.  The town is also home to Wilbur Chocolate Factory and Keystone Pretzel Bakery, and a large artist community.  In 2013 Budget Travel named Lititz “America’s Coolest Small Town.”  What more could you want!

 One of the many master gardens in Lititz.

Every kind of chocolate to sample!  The photo above was part of the chocolate museum.  Wilbur has been making chocolate since 1848!  YUM!

We arrived in Lancaster Country on Labor Day weekend.  We did not think the Amish would take Saturday and Monday off, but they did.  The only places that were open were a few places until 2 pm.  So we ate lunch at an Amish buffet “Yoder’s”, and went to Kitchen Kettle for some retail therapy and then took a long drive in the country.  These buggies were common to see on the roads, but make sure you don’t let them see you take their pictures.  They want to be remembered by the lives they lived and the examples they left, not by physical appearance.

  Since it was one of the only places open, it was really crowded!  Time to move on.

From one extreme to another and only 200 miles away!  We made it up to Woodstock New York.  Even though the famous rock concert was actually held in a town 60 miles away in Bethel, the concert was originally planned to be held in Woodstock so it kept it’s famous name.  Kelly was “hip” hanging out with the Blues Brothers.

A wax masterpiece at a local Woodstock candle store.

Catskill mountain and frontier men, Kelly and Daniel Boone.

A short drive from Woodstock is the town of Saugerties, New York.  Several months ago on the Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallen said that he tweeted that his childhood home was up for sale.  He said he wanted it to go to a cool buyer because it was such “a great place to grown up.”  Well since we were so close, I made Kelly stop by and take my picture of the house (on trash day.)  LOL

We had a short hike at low tide to this unique lighthouse.  You can actually stay here on weekends as a bed and breakfast.  The lighthouse keepers stay in the other part during your stay.  It is $250 per night and includes a really nice breakfast according to the young couple we met on the deck that were staying the weekend there.

It has a nice picnic area and two canoe to use during your stay.

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In the morning while it was relatively cool, we decided to go on a hike called Overlook Mountain.  The hike was rated as moderately difficult and was a 5 mile round trip hike up a mountain.  I decided to go for it.  Kelly was excited to take on the challenge.  The trail was an old carriage road that led up to a hotel.  It was a steady climb up to the peak of the mountain (3,140 ft).  I had to take several breaks checking my Fitbit every so often because my heart rate was up there.  I have a high heart rate anyway.  We finally made it to the hotel, then the ranger station, onto the rock cliff lookout and then climbed a fire tower!  As you could see my hair was wet with sweat!  What a workout and view!  Even Kelly was sore the next couple of days.

On the top you could see 5 states, the Hudson Valley and the Catskill Mountains.

Across the street from the trail head was a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery called “Karma Triyana Dharmachakra”.  I bet you can’t say that name three times!  

We moved on to the capital of New York, Albany.  It is a very old city with amazing buildings everywhere you look.

This is the outside of the capital building built in 1899.  After three architects were fired, the fourth architect kind of finished it. The building really is not complete, some pillars and artwork are still left undone because when Grover Cleveland was elected as governor he said NO MORE!  It is the most expensive government building of its time.  Even more than the Capital building in Washington DC!  The cost in today’s dollars would be over $711 million!

The special Sandstone throughout the building was imported from Scotland.  The artists carved each area of the building differently.  Even put their own family members and pets into some of the designs.  One sculptor was fired for taking to long, so one night he broke into the Capital and carved a small image of the devil into the Sandstone.  Our guide showed us the 3 inch carving that was finally spotted many years later.  Also some of the marble in the building was cut by state prisoners at Sing Sing.  I guess they wanted to make up the costs by getting cheap labor.

The carvings were endless!  Everywhere you looked!

This staircase at the time cost a million dollars.  

We hiked down a path to see this pretty pond.

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Kelly toured Fort Ticonderoga, which was known for it’s role in the American Revolutionary War.  This view was taken from the Fort William Henry at the South end of Lake George.  It was a British outpost to protect the colonies in the South and to hold off the French who occupied the North end of the lake at Fort Carillon.  It is a very big lake!

Lake George has a marina and “Million Dollar Beach” that is surrounded by mansions built by wealthy New York City weekenders who come up to enjoy the beautiful lake.

We happened to be there on one of the busiest weekends.  The 28th Annual Adirondack National Car Show which has on average 1500 cars on display each year.

This was one of my favorite cars at the show.

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We also went rafting with our guide Dillon down the North River and met a great young couple John and Danielle from Rochester New York.  That is all for this segment of RVHAVINGFUNYETBLOG.   Next up-  Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

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