Twelve Thousand Miles (and Sights!): Trip Summary

(click any photo to enlarge)

Total Miles: 12,184 miles

The Trip (approximately)

Number of nights: 83

MPG: 14.75 (eek). Chalking that up to lots of freeway speeds.

Trip Theme: Bucket list. Two main goals: (1) See as much of EVERYTHING on our list as humanly possible, since it's unlikely we will drive through the Northeast again and (2) fill in our lower 48 map (map of where Roxie has been). Both goals met, with only a very few exceptions for (1).

Goal at Start of Trip: Fill in East Coast

Farthest Point from Home (Maine)

We crossed the 100k mark in Indiana on way home.

Average Camping Fee: $31. 
  • East Coast fees are expensive because of their short season; 
  • We only had 2 free nights (St. Louis and the lake house in Wisconsin); 
  • We left 4 nights of camping fees (about $80) on the table, all for good reasons:
  1. Blanding’s Landing in IL: Forfeited our $10 after having a tow truck pull us out of the mud. Made sense to move to a commercial campground after that.
  2. Brown County: Forfeited $24.61. Perils of booking ahead and then changing travel plans. But this change allowed us to get to The Greenbrier in WV, which was totally worth it.
  3. Ohiopyle State Park: Forfeited 2nd night of two because site was so unlevel as to be unlivable. Worth the $31.50.
  4. Curt Gowdy State Park in Wyo: Because of our awful campground luck this trip, I got worried that Custer State Park would be terrible for 3 nights. So, I booked Curt Gowdy (reserve only, no walkups) as a precaution for night #3. We knew that was a lovely place, but we lucked out and loved Custer and didn’t want to leave there. $24.50 for piece of mind.
Number of Bad Weather Days: approximately 35-40; at least 40%, as we can recollect. This balances out the Fall 2014 trip during which we had, at most 3 days of weather out of 2.5 months of glorious, balmy fall weather. Lots of driving like this:

Weird Fact: We took seven bags  of Costco's Cadet Bully Sticks (that's 84 pizzles in all) with us to avoid not finding these must-have evening dog treats at Costco, which happened to us on previous long trips. Not gonna have an unhappy 100 pound dog in the tin can.

Eight New States

  1. New Jersey (no overnight, but we did do our Trader Joe shopping there)
  2. West Virginia
  3. Connecticut
  4. Rhode Island (no overnight)
  5. Massachusetts
  6. Maine
  7. New Hampshire
  8. Vermont

Best RV Parks

Gray's Homestead Oceanfront Camping, Southport, ME (near Boothbay Harbor). So wish we could've stayed for days and had a lobster delivered to our campsite.

Paradise Park Resort, Old Orchard Beach, ME. How often can you walk/ride your bike to the beach and a seaside amusement park from your RV park? There were also beautiful bike rides in the area.

Sylvan Lake Campground, Custer State Park. Three days of pure R and R. No driving, no stress, just spectacular natural beauty and beautiful weather.

This side-of-the-road place in Kentucky. Had the place to ourselves. Literally. No host, no other guests. Just left a check in the mail slot. Quiet, convenient, reasonably priced.

Watkin’s Glen State Park, Upstate New York. Beautiful place. Would've been perfect if there were walking or biking trails to all the attractions, but it was very much worth driving to see all of them.

Normandy Farms, Foxboro, MA: concierge staff with folder of personalized recommendations ready upon checkin, dog boarding in your RV or their outdoor kennels, and on site massage! Can NOT be beat.

South Fork Recreation Area: lots of elbow room, expansive mountain views, near Elko and Lamoille Canyon (which we finally got to see--in the snow!). Stayed there coming and going. Bit of a detour off of I-80 but so worth it.

Chatfield State Park, south of Denver. Big sites and an included dog park. Best to have bicycles here.

Emergencies and Weather Issues

KCMo: swollen dog tongue required visit to emergency vet 
Blanding’s Landing, IL: had to be towed out of the mud. Thank goodness for Coach-Net!

Galena, IL: tornado warning (a mere hour after being towed). At check-in, the proprietress mentioned that the storm shelter was in the basement and could hold 100 people. Must've easily been 400 in this overcrowded campground. So glad we didn't need to use it.

Grand Junction, CO: severe thunderstorms/hail

I-70 CO: Snowstorm while crossing the passes and in Denver

Spring Green, WI: severe thunderstorms, 70 mph wind, hail. We survived by pulling in our slide, putting everything away, and preparing to bug out if necessary. Our neighbors did not--awning arm through the wall of a trailer, tenters blown down the field, etc.

    Note the time....

    Wisconsin: A few really hot, steamy days. The solar blanket helped A LOT!
    At Vicki's Wisconsin lake house

    Wisconsin Riverside Resort--out there all by our lonesome

      All Over New England: numerous flood warnings. The poor people of Vermont were practically in tears with all the rain, given how awful the previous winter had been....

        "Stairs" (waterfall?) at Acadia Visitor Center

        And poor Bago got so tired of it, too. We spent one whole day stuck in our Cape Cod campground with 12 hours of rain!

        Lessons Learned

        1. Many sites throughout the Midwest do not have any kind of gravel or asphalt--just grass. When it's raining so much, we learned that it's key to (a) put blocks under ALL the wheels, (b) when driving off the blocks, make a bee line to the paved road--no stopping!, and (c) bug out if possible. We did that in Macomb one morning and were very glad that we got out. Just drove down to the paved marina in the downpour and got dressed and had breakfast there. Easy peasy.
        2. Take the truck route. Period. Do not follow Google through old New England towns, or you risk low overpasses, weight-restricted bridges, and other surprises.
        3. Being a full-time tourist for 3 months is too much. While we are glad we saw so many things, we shan't be planning another trip like this again.
        4. In addition to other preparations (pulling in slide, putting everything away), consider unplugging the coach at night if there's the possibility of threatening weather and the temperature allows. One does not want to go out in a lightning storm to unplug so we can bug out.
        5. Our coach can withstand 70 mph side winds--no problem. Thank goodness. (See 4 above.)
        6. In an emergency, pursue multiple paths to resolution.
        7. It's a really good idea to have more than one ISP. When we were stuck in the mud, there was no ATT, but there was Verizon, so I could get on the hotspot and summon help.

        Maintenance Issues

        1. Springfield, IL: Cab AC failed. Thank you, Midas guy for squeezing us in!
        2. Allentown, PA and Gardiner, NY: Slideout pin broke when trying to pull slide in; fixed two days later in upstate NY after the kind Allentown fellow braided the ratchet strap into place so the slideroom wouldn't fall out. (This on-call guy regularly braided his show horse's tails!) Good thing I abandoned trying to contact Camping World (they never did return my multiple calls) and ignored the independent repair man's gruff order to let him figure it out (I knew what was wrong, contacted the manufacturer, and had the replacement part FedExed to the repair place (Len-Rich RV) on the day of our appointment for the grand sum of $25. By the end of the VERY lengthy repair (intermittent thunderstorms forced him to stop working a number of times), he begrudgingly said that it was a good thing I'd ordered that part....
        3. New Haven: CT: Flat rear tire and misaligned front tire and over 50k on all tires = 6 new tires. Fellas stayed late to get us back on the road--very good service, even though....
        4. Foxboro, MA area: Cat’s Eye not re-installed properly so rear duallies on right side leaked air every day. Great service!
        5. Portland, ME, MB Dealer (who we do not recommend): 100k maintenance, but they “ran out of time” to do brake fluid and didn’t have proper lift to do the alignment. Grr. Called our local CA mechanic, who blithely told us to drive on back with these things not done. Nerve-wracking noise in front left wheel well turned out to be a big problem with the U-joint that he fixed ASAP when we got home. Lucky that our axle didn’t break!
        6. East Coast: The storage "ottoman" that we use in between the cab seats (and that Bago, unfortunately, stands on a lot) broke down. We looked and looked online for a replacement at a store between Boston and Portland, but no dice. So, MacGyver figured this out: order from Amazon to be FedExed to our car rental place in Portland. I cleared it with the guys at Enterprise, and darned if we didn't pass the FedEx truck on our way in to get the car. Perfect!
        7. Midwest: The shower head fell down off its hook and broke early in the trip. No Camping World anywhere near where we were in the Midwest. We tasked Team Crawley to fix the problem, and Lisa's dad met us in Louisville with the replacement part (and the jillion Amazon boxes we had had sent to her parents' house all through May).

        Dog Swimming Holes

        There were not as many swimming holes as we thought we'd find (which was surprising in the alligator-less North), but we at least dipped our toes in as many as we could!

          South Fork Lake (near Elko, NV)--twice! Going and coming. Our aversion to I-80 has been abated, since we found such good places to stop along the way this time.

        Platte River (Cedar Creek, NE)--Mary's back yard (as the severe weather was just building)

        Prairie Pastures Dog Park Pond (Clinton, IA)--fabulous city dog park in an abandoned zoo. Best $3 ever spent.

        Atlantic Ocean (Provincetown Dog Beach, MA; along the Maine coast)
        Old Orchard Beach
        Dog Mountain Pond (St. Johnsbury, VT)--doggie nirvana

        Lake Champlain (?), Burlington, Vermont

        Lake Michigan (Indiana Dunes)

        Lake Beulah (WI)

        Winnebago River (Forest City, IA)

        Robbinsdale Park "Pond" (Rapid City, SD)--not supposed to be a swimming hole, but the off-leash park was flooded. Dogs didn't seem to mind....

        Sylvan Lake (Custer SP, SD)

        Wading in the Wisconsin River at the Wisconsin Riverside Resort in Spring Green, WI

        Three Dog Boarding Experiences  

        This is a really great idea for a long trip (where the dog gets sick of us and the tin can) and a trip that involves hot weather and long tours. 
        1. Nemacolin Wooflands Pet Care Center, Farmington, Pennsylvania (with swimming! while we toured Kentuck Knob and Fallingwater). The vet techs asked if we'd please move closer so that they could see Bago more often.
        2. Spring Green Pet Resort (doggie daycare while we toured Taliesin--Bago did not want to leave)
        3. Normandy Farms (kennel in the dog park, with multiple walks and lots of attention while we toured Boston for the day. Bago became the park celebrity.)

        Six New State Capitols Viewed

        1. Topeka, KS
        2. Madison, WI
        3. Charleston, WV
        4. Hartford, CT
        5. Montpelier, VT
        6. Des Moines, IA
        (Bypassed Augusta, ME and Providence, RI, sadly.)

        Twelve National Parks Visited

        Colorado National Monument

        Nicodemus National Historic Site

        Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site

        Herbert Hoover National Historic Site Toured with gals from the Skinnie Winnie Rally, one of whom was the niece of the architect, which made for an interesting tour.

        Franklin Roosevelt National Historic Site

        Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site

        Cape Cod National Seashore

        Acadia National Park, the first national park in the Eastern U.S.

        Sunset on Cadillac Mountain

        Women’s Rights National Historic Site, toured on the Fourth of July weekend

        Indiana Dunes National Park

        Effigy Mounds National Historic Site

        Seven Presidential History Sites

        1. Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene, KS
        2. Hoover National Historic Site in West Branch, Iowa
        3. Abraham Lincoln Library and Home in Springfield (and his son's home in Vermont)

        4. FDR Library and Home in Hyde Park (plus Eleanor's Val-Kill)
        5. JFK Museum in Hyannis, MA
        6. Bush Family Compound in Kennebunkport, ME
        7. U.S. Grant Home in Galena, IL

        Only 2 remaining official libraries to see: W near Dallas and LBJ in Austin We have a nephew who will graduate from SMU in a couple of years, and a niece who will graduate from UT Austin this coming year. Opportunities exist!

        Four Frank Lloyd Wright Sites

        Fallingwater (Sunset Tour)

        Kentuck Knob

        Dana House (exterior; skipped tour in favor of getting cab AC fixed and having lunch with brother in Pana)


          Four Mormon Historical Sites

          1. Salt Lake City/Heber Valley
          2. Nauvoo
          3. Quincy
          4. Mormon Pioneer Trail

          Three Mark Twain Sites

          Childhood Home, Hannibal, MO

          Mark Twain House in New Haven, CT

          Samuel Clemens Family Gravesite, Elmira, NY
          Enlarge for best viewing.

          With the added benefit of a great soundtrack, Mark Twain: Words and Music.

          Five Sorority Sister Visits

          Amy in Colorado (Janet cancelled, but we enjoyed Amy’s husband James joining us)

          Sandi in Quincy. Great lunch, met both daughters, and Bago got to play in the dancing fountains on a very hot day.

          Vicki in Wisconsin. Fabulous visit with the most level, private RV spot. The Haegers ought to rent that spot out! My Facebook post:

          What a blast at Vice Commodore Bohl's Wisconsin family compound! From the trivia night at the Yacht Club (dang but our team came in second by 1 measly point) to doggie swimming to yacht races and a great RV pad--we may need to make this a regular stop.... Here's to Queen Victoria's Minions!

          Sushi in northern Indiana

          Shari in Huntington, IN

            Eight Family Visits

            Cousins Brian and Madalyn in Grand Junction, CO

            Brother Gary and Pat in Pana, IL
            Uncle Joe in Waukegan, IL 

            Aunt Pauline and Cousin John in Elkhart, IN (both passed away in December 2015, sadly)

            Uncle Dick and Aunt Caroline in Quincy, IL

            Cousins Greg and Mary Jo (godmother) and Jessica in St. Louis, MO

            Cousin Megan and family in Des Moines, IA

            Mom and Dad Crawley, sister Dana and John in Louisville, KY

              Six Visits with Former Hampton-Brownies

              Seija in Utah (both going and coming!)

              Mary in Nebraska

              Renee in Iowa
              With her miniatures

              The Michaels in Massachusetts

              Kathleen in Portland, ME

              Sightseeing in Portland

              Portland Head

              Really Great Tours

              The V/N National Rally and the Amana Colonies

              May Day Decorations

              Lucas, Kansas: Bowl Plaza,  The Garden of Eden, Folk Art Center, and WLCoWSVoWLT
              (The World's Largest Collection of the World's Smallest Versions of the World's Largest Things)

                 Post Rock Scenic Byway

                Field of Dreams in Dyersville, IA

                Kansas City Central Library Community Bookshelf

                Glore Psychiatric Museum in St. Joseph, MO

                Quincy Museum and John Wood Mansion and all the other beautiful places in Quincy, IL


                Plus the old family homesteads in Quincy:

                2522 College
                2018 Spring

                Grandma and Grandpa Cason's House (with additions)

                National Quilt Museum

                Lantern Festival, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis

                Greenbrier Hotel: The Bunker Tour (no photos! Poor weather and photos not allowed inside plus we arrived 2 minutes before the almost fully booked last tour of the day started, so we just went for it.)

                Newport, RI Cliff Walk (and driving through scenic towns like Mystic)

                Pilgrim Monument, Provincetown, the tallest all-granite structure in the U.S. (Lisa visited this on her own one morning.)


                Cambridge, Boston and the “new” North End

                39 Stillman Street (our 1st apartment)

                 5-7 Fleet Street (our 2nd apartment)

                12 Haskel Street, Cambridge (3rd apartment)

                Biplane Flight Over Acadia

                Dog Mountain, Vermont

                Ben and Jerry’s Tour, Vermont

                With the added benefit of celebrating Marriage Equality Day there!

                Corning Glass Museum, upstate New York

                Tanglewood, the Berkshires, Mass. (Typography matters.)

                ChesterwoodStockbridge, Mass.--the home and studio of the sculptor most famous for the Lincoln Memorial

                Hildene, the Lincoln Family Estate in Manchester, VT, thanks to tip from a sorority sister following our trip on Facebook

                Norman Rockwell Museum (with Roz Chast exhibit),  Stockbridge, Mass.
                (Another trip coincidence: we had seen an exhibit of original Rockwell illustrations for Tom Sawyer when we were in Hannibal, MO)

                Shipshewana, Indiana

                RV Hall of Fame, Elkhart, IN

                Notre Dame walking tour with Sushi
                Touchdown Jesus

                I lit a candle for my mom and our then-ailing friend Schileen in the grotto.

                Winnebago Factory Tour, Forest City, Iowa

                Iowa Avenue Literary Walk, Iowa City, Iowa

                The Paine Art Center: Dressing Downton, Oshkosh, WI


                Saratoga, WY free public hot springs, "The Hobo Pool" and soaking in the hot muddy river, too


                Antique Archaelogy (American Pickers): touristy and and overpriced, but a bucket list item nonetheless

                World’s Tallest Filing Cabinet, Burlington, VT: Seemed like such a good idea to find.

                So very many RV Parks in the Northeast (e.g., in the Berkshires and Burlington, VT in particular) that were crowded, overpriced, and generally icky. But the creepiest was in Saratoga, Wyoming--lots of permanent,  scary dogs, and unpotable water.

                Having to skip the southern Indiana sights on our bucket list—French Lick and Brown County. Plan is to visit Lisa’s parents and go see those sights with them on a future fall trip.

                Missing the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland for a SECOND time. No RV parking, hot weather, short on time, etc. Consider tacking this onto a Midwest visit sometime with a rental car.

                Bypassing Cincinnati and the American Sign Museum. Think we'll go instead to Las Vegas' Neon Museum this next year.

                Couldn't find a parking spot to save our lives at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY.

                Interesting Surprises

                Seeing my dad's alma mater, Dartmouth. Beautiful campus.

                How very many things there were to see in Vermont (and how many we COULD see):
                Few Stones Left Unturned in VT

                The enormous storm that blew in as we were finishing our "sunset" tour of Fallingwater. The scenery was so beautiful and ominous at the same time. I shall never forget our run to the RV as the heavens started to open and pitching their loaned umbrella out of the window as we departed.....

                The hilly, lush beauty of NE Iowa, along the bluffs of the Mississippi

                Stumbling across the set for Gone Girl

                The pretty steep hike up the hill to FDR's beautiful Top Cottage (and the fast walk down to beat yet another storm!). Loved hearing the story about how FDR served hot dogs to the Queen and King of England at Top Cottage and how much they adored the whole picnic.

                These visitors to our breakfast view, near Macomb, IL

                Revisiting KCMO with Bago. Country Club Plaza is dog friendly--water bowls, treats, and a Canine Cam!

                Farmer's Market, Burlington, VT  Dogs welcome, hipsters and hippies everywhere, and they included local vintners and distillers. Lisa is still enjoying her Elderflower Rum....

                Learning how to play LCR (which Jeanette, here, won!)

                The streetlamps in Hershey, PA


                And this.

                Bank robberies in Portland, ME, right next to our al fresco lunch spot.

                The entire Hyde Park area--we really loved it there. Could easily go back.

                So many different ways of saying things back East.

                10++% grades on US 40 SW Pennsylvania. I've NEVER seen 10mph speed limit for trucks. Wish I'd have captured those signs (and emptied our tanks!).

                Low clearance 11’6” in Acadia (and lots of upstate NY towns) and lots of places RVs could not go

                Finding out we were on the It’s a Wonderful Life bridge

                Crossing a VERY narrow metal arch bridge over the Mississippi and passing a semi truck at the top (and this 8'6" tiny toll bridge on the way to Mary's Platteview, NE house)

                Sabula Island, the Key West of Illinois

                Being able to walk to an island at low tide (Bar Harbor)

                Meeting Amy Kinker's bartending friend in Bar Harbor at his pub, Leary's Landing, and the whole town of Bar Harbor, for that matter!


                Putt putt!!

                Roadfood—Best Trip EVER for This

                Pork tenderloins in several Iowa and Illinois locations

                Cozy Inn Burgers in Topeka, KS

                Lambert's, Home of the Throwed Rolls
                 Sikeston, MO

                Jerky and housemade bologna from Brant's Meat Market in Lucas, KS.

                Q: "Where you girls from?"
                A: "California."
                Q: [pause] You lost?

                Great deli and baked goods at Kirchoff Bakery, Louisville, KY

                Maple syrup, maple cremee, maple BBQ sauce and apple cider in Vermont

                Rhode Island clam chowder and fried clams

                Ice cream: Grays in RI, Mount Desert Island in ME, Ben and Jerry’s in VT, Culver’s in WI

                Sweet and savory pies at BJ Bulls going and coming (that awesome sauce)

                Cannoli in the North End--comparison between Modern and Mike's. Both very good, but we sure miss the old vibe. No Italian fellas saying, "Two cans wit' wings!" this time; just young hip employees.

                King Arthur Flour Visit

                Wisconsin corn bread

                Minnesota minestrone mix

                Drive-in near Cleveland. Cool to get curb service in an RV.

                Elegant Farmer near Troy: paperbag pie!

                Bison in Custer

                Maid Rite in Quincy

                but not THIS Maid Rite

                Joe’s KC BBQ: burnt ends sandwich, Z-Man sandwich for lunch; take-out ribs for dinner

                Justus Drugstore (!), Smithville, MO, our only 5-star meal of the trip. Boy, was it worth it. The article that led us there.

                Breitbach’s Sunday buffet in Sherill, IA because we'd seen it on the documentary, Spinning Plates

                Eveready Diner, Hyde Park

                Lobsta rolls: Evelyn’s Drive-in (per Robin) in Tiverton, RI; Clam Shack in Kennebunk, ME; The Friendly Fisherman, Eastham, MA

                Lobster dinner: Bar Harbor

                Frank Pepe’s clam pizza in New Haven. If you're gonna have a flat tire, have it in front of the most famous pizzeria in Connecticut, so you can have lunch while you figure out where to get service. Turns out there was a Firestone Tire place around the block and it had a DOG PARK across the street. THE perfect place for a breakdown.

                Regina Pizza (anchovy!), in the old neighborhood in Boston

                Rise 'N Roll Amish breads in Shipshewana, IN (sausage bread!, fritters)

                Green Mountain smokehouse!!!! Loaded up the freezer for days.

                Vermont Country Store (shopping and lunch at the Bryant House—awesome pot pie!)

                Beef on Weck and Buffalo Chicken Wings at Bar Bill in the Buffalo, NY area. We had missed this on our Niagara Falls visit a few years ago; it was WELL worth picking it up this time. OMG.

                Pepperoni Rolls, Morgantown, WV at THE original place, the Country Club Bakery, Fairmont, WV

                Chocolate in Hershey, PA

                All the different kinds of local brew!