Our departure deadline of October 8th from RI was here before we knew it! During the last week, there was so much left to do – a few trips to our very crammed storage unit to put away boat stuff and to bring items back to the coach that we would need for our road trip. One last check on the boat to make sure everything was set there. One last visit with Linda and Herb (BTW thanks for a delicious supper!). Sadly we won’t see them again until perhaps January or maybe even March in Alabama. And one last appointment with our dental hygienist on Wednesday, October 7th. Whew, finally it seemed like we were just about ready.
And one last family visit with my side of the family. After our teeth cleaning appointments, we headed over to my nephew’s house where we had a chance to visit with my brother, Paul and my sister-in-law, Peggy, my nephew, Paul, his wife, Cindy and their three kids – twins Kaitlyn and Jackson, age 8 and Falyn, age 5. Believe it or not, we hadn’t seen the twins since their 3rd birthday party and we had never met Falyn. Not sure why so many years flew by between visits – they lead very busy lives and with us traveling as much as we do, we never found an opportunity to get together.
A great visit with the adults and of course, a ton of fun seeing the kids (along with their 2 dogs and 3 cats)! Like all kids that age, they are non-stop bundles of energy – I hate to admit it but we were exhausted after ten minutes watching them play (guess we’re getting old). Supper was delicious as usual, thanks to my awesome sister-in-law. What a great way to spend our final night in the area. As we left, we vowed to not let so much time go by before the next visit.
Finally our departure day! Woo hoo! Our planned itinerary included a two night stay in Albany to not only visit with Rob’s Dad but to also install/set up our old 52″ TV which had been in storage since we sold our house in 2013. From there we would head to Spartan Chassis in Charlotte, MI for annual maintenance and some minor warranty work on our chassis, then to Entegra in Middlebury, IN for more minor warranty work, then south to Riverbend where we would stay for the months of November and December. Good news – our site is rented from January 11th through March 11th which will cover most of our expenses for the year.
Days 1 & 2 – East Greenwich to Albany, NY
So after saying goodbye to our neighbors, we left Sun Valley on Thursday heading to Albany, NY, about a 3-1/2 hour drive. Great day for a road trip – a beautiful sunny day with a bright blue sky. Perfect for leaf peeping! We weren’t disappointed – it was a spectacular display of colors particularly up the “hill” on the Mass Pike and through the Berkshires.
Our first stop was at Arrowhead Marina and RV Park in Glenville, NY (Our Review of Arrowhead) where we’ve stayed before. It’s about 30 minutes from Albany. At the registration office, we were assigned to site #48, the same site we stayed on last year.
Once we settled in, we headed over to Avila Retirement Community where Rob’s Dad lives – he had made reservations for dinner in their community dining room. Always good to see him! Delicious dinner but way too much food – they sure do get fed well here. With a choice of soup or appetizer, salad, choice of entree and dessert, no one could possibly leave hungry. I had cream of broccoli, a caesar salad while Rob had the appetizer which was some type of vegetable salad. We both had the filet mignon medallions with a baked potato and broccoli rabe. For dessert, I had apple pie and Rob had a brownie, both served with vanilla ice cream. Yikes! Did I mention that it was way too much food? By the time we were finished, we had to waddle out of there. Too late to unload the TV so we saved that chore until Friday morning.
The next morning dawned gloomy and drizzly with a forecast of rain showers off and on all day. But the weather didn’t matter, we returned to Dad’s apartment at Avila for more enjoyable visiting time. Rob unloaded the TV (luckily the drizzly weather had subsided) and spent most of the day hooking it up in his living area and relocating the existing TV to his bedroom. Plus we spent some time helping him with some issues with his PC.
That evening we met Rob’s brother, Dave, his wife Nancy and their son, Jonathan, at a nearby Texas Roadhouse for dinner. We appreciated their taking time out of their very busy schedule – they were leaving the next day at 3 a.m. to go on a bus with Jonathan who was playing the French Horn with his school’s marching band at West Point during half time of the Army-Duke football game. Our niece, Katie, is away at college – she is a senior at WPI (Worcester Polytechnic Institute) in MA so we didn’t get to see her. During her four years, she has spent time in Guatemala and will be traveling to Paraguay in the Spring as a member of the Engineers Without Borders team. Because of her work in this field, MIT is wooing her for a masters program under a full scholarship. Prior to college she attended Holy Names Academy. Because she was one of their top students, she is featured on their sales literature. Way to go Katie! Great catching up with everything going on in the family!
Besides the family visit, we had another visitor during our stay at Arrowhead. When Rob got up one morning and headed from the bedroom to our half bath, he uttered a very surprised expletive. In the middle of the night a huge spider had woven a wicked web spanning the entire doorway. Egads (no that’s not what he said, that’s what I was thinking)! It was the width of the doorway and a least 3 feet tall (the web, not the spider), so he had to almost fold himself in half to walk underneath it. Now we do enjoy seeing spider webs outdoors, often taking pictures of these intricate works of art but in our bedroom? Totally creepy! Yours truly was very happy that it was in a doorway and not in our bed! Sorry to report that he wasn’t given the opportunity to enjoy the rest of the trip with us.
Day 3 Albany, NY to Cuba, NY
The next day, Saturday, we were on the road again. Instead of taking our usual route (I-90W the New York Thruway), we decided to try a different more southerly route, taking I-88W, then picked up I-86 in Binghamton, NY which eventually re-joins I-90 near Erie, PA. So glad we tried this new route! This will be our new route of choice across NY state. Even though it is 22 miles longer than I-90, its easy driving and we save about $60 in tolls. Some stretches of the highway were a bit rough (gotta love those expansion joints – kerlunk, kerlunk, kerlunk…), but overall it was a very enjoyable drive. Divided four lane highway with very little traffic (despite it being a holiday weekend), just an occasional truck and beautiful scenery as we drove through the Catskills. Would anyone like to hazard a guess at how many pictures of leaves I took? Lots! Not to worry, I promise I won’t display all of them. But I have to say the foliage along this drive was even more spectacular than our drive through the Berkshires.
Saturday night, October 10th, after a 300 mile drive, we stopped at Maple Lane Campground in the little town of Cuba, New York for the night. At $35/night it is a little pricey considering what they have to offer which is basically nothing – besides full hook ups there are no amenities whatsoever. Basically a field with utilities and nothing more. The only selling point is that it is located immediately off the interstate making it a very quick and convenient overnight stop. Our Review of Maple Lane Campground.
Interesting to find out that “during the early 1900’s Cuba was considered the “cheese center of the world”. The price for cheddar cheese was established at a meeting in Cuba each week at the Hotel Kinney, a prominent hostelry in its day, and was accepted as “The Price” nationwide. Numerous small cheese factories were scattered across the countryside at various crossroads in the late 1800’s and the first cheese company was formed in Cuba, NY in 1871. The company purchased and cured local cheddar cheese and in 1888, the company bought the building where the Cuba Cheese Shoppe is presently located.”
Since cheese is my favorite food group, we just had to stop at the Cuba Cheese Shoppe. One 2-1/2 pound block of sharp cheddar cheese and a beef summer sausage later (both were delicious), we decided to see what else this small town had to offer.
A short distance down the road we stumbled upon the McKinney Stables of Empire City Farms, aka The Block Farm, a cement block structure located on the southern edge of the village. Constructed in 1909, the building is 347 feet long and 50 feet wide. It is entirely fireproof because it is made of concrete block with poured cement floors and ceilings. A New York City business man, William B. Simpson, had the stable built to protect the bloodline of his famous stallion “McKinney” whose trotting record was known worldwide. It is said that the Czar of Russia once sent some of his mares to Cuba to be bred so that the famous McKinney strain could become part of his stable.
Although we didn’t see it, another significant historical landmark at Cuba is The Seneca Oil Spring. The site is “located near the spillway end of Cuba Lake on the Oil Spring Indian Reservation. It is the site of the famed spring described by the Franciscan Missionary Joseph De La Roche D’Allion 1627, the first recorded mention of oil on the North American Continent. The New York State Oil Producers Association sponsored the dedication of a monument at the site in 1927, describing the history of the oil industry in North America.”
Once we were done there, we took a ride around Cuba Lake, a man-made lake at 1545 feet above sea level and the highest reservoir in Allegany County. On the shores of the lake was a combination of older cottages mixed in with a few very modern and more high end homes.
Day 4 Cuba, NY to Geneva, OH
Before continuing our journey, on Sunday, October 11th, we drove to downtown Cuba where we had breakfast at the Kopper Keg Restaurant. We each had our usual breakfasts (do I need to provide more detail? Probably not)! Decent breakfast at fairly reasonable prices.
Today would be a little bit shorter drive – approximately 200 miles or 2-1/2 hours to our next destination, Willow Lake Campground in Geneva, OH. It was another nice day, making for a pleasant drive, passing through New York’s wine country and eventually catching glimpses of Lake Erie. The foliage wasn’t as vibrant as it had been, perhaps because of the lower elevations. In Erie, PA, I-86 ended as it merged onto I-90.
As we have found in the past, the roads through the town of Geneva can be annoying. The streets are lovely, many lined with beautiful trees, but with low hanging branches. Our CB and AM/FM antenna’s were boinging like crazy as they brushed the tree limbs. No damage results but it does sound pretty awful.
On previous trips we had stayed at Indian Creek Camping and RV Resort but it’s very pricey with off season rates over $50. They are part of Passport America but not on weekends. Since we were there on a Sunday night of a holiday weekend, the PA discount wouldn’t apply so we decided to try something different and cheaper this year – Willow Lake Campground. At the office we were assigned to pull thru site A-2. The campground was closing on October 15th so it was pretty empty.
What a lovely campground! Very clean, well maintained and friendly staff – see Our Review of Willow Lake. And at a daily rate of $38, much cheaper than Indian Creek. It was a quiet evening for us.
Day 5 Geneva, OH to Archbold, OH
Almost there. It was Monday, October 12th and our destination on this night was Sauder Village in Archbold, OH. This would be an uneventful run of about 200 miles along I-90. We could have made the run all the way to Spartan in Charlotte, MI , but we wanted another night with full hookups so we could prep for our stay (of unknown length) at Spartan where we would have no water or sewer.
We had wanted to stay here last year but no sites were available. Being off season, this time we had no problem reserving a site for an overnight stay. Not only are there RV sites here but there is a hotel, shops, a historic village (unfortunately closed on Mondays – the day we were there) with 40 historic homes and shops, costumed guides and working craftsmen and unique hands-on activities, the Doughbox Bakery and the Barn Restaurant. Plus a small pond appropriately named Little Lake Erie. Quite the place to say the least!
Check in for the campground is in the hotel where we were assigned to back-in site #42. Their recently expanded campground offers 77 campsites and 10 tent sites. Our site was in the newer section towards the back of the campground. We were the only RV out there! A few young trees had been planted but there were stakes indicating more were slated to be planted. Probably in another few years when this section matures, it will be pretty nice. Another quiet evening, we took a short walk around the fish and release pond and watched a gorgeous sunset. Our Review of Sauder Village Campground.
Day 6 Archbold, OH to Charlotte, MI
The next morning, we drove to a nearby restaurant, The Home Restaurant, for breakfast. Decent breakfast – eggs, hash browns, toast and sausage patty for Rob, bacon for me. Decent breakfast at reasonable prices.
Today Spartan Chassis in Charlotte, MI would be our destination. Fortunately it would be a short drive, a little less than 2 hours. We arrived at Spartan in the early afternoon, grabbing one of the back-in sites (#15) near the service center. There was an Entegra themed Spartan Chassis training class going on (we took it last year) so the majority of the sites were occupied by Entegra coaches.
Stay tuned for more about our Spartan visit!