Category Archives: Food

DAY 39 – 10/23/2012 – Beached! In which the truck fails…

I just put a pan of Toll House bars in the oven. There’s laundry drying in the shower and the rice and beans leftovers are stowed away.

It’s day two in the Creekview Campground in Rosendale, NY. We’ll be here for a while. Maybe another week.

The 4Runner blew a head gasket on Sunday night. It sits idle on the campsite, waiting for attention.

It’s just another adventure on the Tramper Voyage, sort of “Little House on the Prairie” style! It’s ironic that right now I’m reading A Painted House by John Grisham. It’s not his usual tense legal drama but rather a story based on his own childhood in rural Arkansas in the ’50’s. There aren’t many modern amenities. Hard, hand labor is the order of the day.

While we do have Internet and cell phones we have no microwave, dishwasher or washing machine. The water reservoir must be filled daily. Hot water is produced only after we turn on the water heater, powered by propane which, in turn, also has to be refilled. So, compared with our former lifestyle, we are somewhat roughing it in a small trailer. And, it’s raining which keeps us inside.

But, it could be worse. A whole lot worse.

On Sunday evening, we were finishing a day of driving after a nice hike up Monument Mountain near Great Barrington, MA.

Here's the gully that I dropped David's camera into while on our Monument Mountain hike. The camera dropped, I screamed. It bounced, I screamed again. Bounce. Scream. Bounce. Scream. Then, splash! into a stream. I think it's dead... but it had a good 10 year run.

Here’s the gully that I dropped David’s camera into while on our Monument Mountain hike. The camera dropped, I screamed. It bounced, I screamed again. Bounce. Scream. Bounce. Scream. Then, splash! into a stream. I think it’s dead… but it had a good 10 year run.

We had arrived in the Shawangunks region of New York state and thinking about where to park the Tramper for the night.

There was a description of a nearby trailhead parking lot that sounded good (and free). But, the Shawangunk mountains are a playground for New York City and the trailhead lots were crowded with rock climbers on this beautiful October Sunday. Also, we encountered a tremendous traffic jam outside New Paltz. Everyone was headed toward the interstate back to the city.

Sunset in New York, with the car thunk-thunking.

Sunset in New York, with the car thunk-thunking.

So, we opted to head for a small campground instead. The truck, by this time, was starting to run very rough. The trailhead was on a mountain. The campground was in the valley. We chose the campground, just a few miles away. Good thing we did!

It was full dark when we pulled in. The truck was overheating but managed to pull us into a campsite. We met the manager (or maybe he’s the owner), paid for the night and settled in.

David soon determined that the truck had blown a head gasket. Oy! It will require a pretty big repair. David has spent the last two days on the phone and online, trying to figure this all out. I’ve been mostly reading and washing things. And baking those cookie bars which are now cooling in their pan. The Tramper smells delicious and is nice and warm.

The Creekside is a small independent operation. Maybe a dozen campsites. Hot showers, flush toilets (I know! Sorry! I try not to mention the ‘t’ word much but it’s a reality!) and electric and water hookup for the Tramper. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABill, the manager/owner said he stopped selling firewood a few years back. He didn’t want to deal with collecting the sales tax. He’s a bit of a curmudgeon but he adds local color and is giving us a nice weekly rate.

We landed in a pretty good spot! Imagine if we had opted for the trailhead. Life would be a lot less cushy right now.

My good friend Donna gave me this lamp years ago. It makes a nice glow at night.

My good friend Donna gave me this lamp years ago. It makes a nice glow at night.

There would probably be no cell phone or internet service on the mountain either, even with our hotspot. We’ve run into that situation many times on our trip. Lack of these services would have made it very difficult for David to get help with the 4Runner. Not impossible, just more difficult.

So now, we wait. And hang out in the trailer. It’s very cozy and comfortable in here. The renovations that David did are holding up very nicely! In some ways, it’s easier to live here. There are different chores but a lot fewer chores than at home. Life is simpler and sweet.

Yummy maple syrup we enjoyed on our pancakes this morning. Purchased from Matt, the nice shoe salesperson we met back in Maine

Yummy maple syrup we enjoyed on our pancakes this morning. Purchased from Matt, the nice shoe salesperson we met back in Maine

Tomorrow, AAA will come and tow the poor 4Runner to a shop in nearby New Paltz. David’s been talking with a guy in an auto shop there. David has a talent for establishing an instant rapport with people and the guy seems to want to help us out. Not a discounted-price kind of helping us out. But, he’s sympathetic and maybe won’t rip us off. Fingers crossed!

Now the bars are ready to eat…

– Jane

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI outlined nearly this exact scenario when we were “truck shopping”.  No amount of prep can eliminate all risk.  When buying the ’95 4Runner for 2 grand I stated, even if we blow the head gasket or transmission, we may just have to throw another thousand at it.  We’ll just meet some new people and settle in biking and waiting.  If you recall the “blacksmith’s hammer” of pre-ignition, it is pinging that likely killed the poor head gasket on the anvil of mountain climbs and sometimes highway paces.  Fortunately, Toyota has a revised MLS, Multi-Layer Steel gaskets that reportedly hold up better.  I wish the truck were nestled in my own garage where I would disassemble, measure and repair everything with the help of a local machine shop…but I won’t be dropping bolts on the ground here where the weather could change overnight and it’s raining right now.

I always believe our problems are only as big as our hysteria.  Sometimes, I almost think I like it when I have trouble.  No, I don’t really like problems, but have always enjoyed a methodical reaction.

In my teens I was on a school bus shuttling skiers to the Trailside Lodge in Vermont.  When it became stuck on ice, sliding slightly into a shallow ditch nearly everyone sat still worrying about being late for dinner.  Even though I knew I couldn’t budge the thing by pushing, I went out, walked around for a look.  I managed to direct a few willing strangers and a friend to lay branches under the wheels in the culvert, then safely orchestrated pushing and rocking from our team to free the bus.  Thought and caution are good reactions.

We will sort this out.  (At least it is not ruining a treasured one-week vacation) And, who better to be stuck with? ..than Jane

– David

Day 22 10/6/2012 Our Tremendous Quebecois’

In life you sometimes meet someone, totally by chance or maybe at work, who YOU KNOW YOU WILL KEEP IN YOUR LIFE!  I was mountain biking one winter day about 8 years ago, and as I headed out of the woods I was surprised to meet another rider. He seemed more surprised to see me…there was 3″ of snow on the ground and he was Canadian (favoring the blue and white Fleur de Lis flag of Quebec, not the “maple leaf”).   Who in Maryland would bike in the snow?  Well, his name turned out to be Jean-Philippe. His wife Anne was in Baltimore for our famous Hopkins and Hubble Space Telescope.  J-P and Anne’s 31/2 year contract in Baltimore flew as Texas became the next place to work (it won over Vancouver, Hawaii and some other renowned telescopes).  We, of course, strive to share our fondness staying in touch (emails, calls….infrequent by busy-ness, but always greeted with the same gracious response).  These friends never scold for timing or say “you never call” or “you should call more”…we just take up at the moment.  Grateful for those around us, sometimes surprised by the resonance of reception.  Surprised by what they see in kind?100_6957


One of our survival techniques, a way to see as much of them as possible, has been to ski or vacation together.  In Feb-Mar 2011 we met them and shared an incredible week in a rented ski chalet in Utah.  Skiing with them at Brighton, Snowbird and Solitude won’t be forgotten.  But that is another little set of stories.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis day we arrived to meet Anne and Jean-Philippe in Moncton at the Riverview Walk and flushed a pheasant from the rushes where he lay.  The river there seems to be tidal also, but its hard to imagine this being so many miles inland from the bay.  The muddy tall banks confirmed it as we walked to find a brew pub in a new town.  Neither they nor we had ever been into Moncton.  The Oktoberfest menu lured us to try Bratwurst and “Keg-conditioned” (probably small-batch) ale.  Yummy enough (for beer, as I am not the biggest fan, drinking only about 4 or 5 glasses per year), smooth and well picked.  The food was good too, although we perhaps forgot to take a picture to share.

We spent the eve catching up and went to bed fairly early after all.  The Hopewell Rocks and Fundy National Park lay ahead.  Even though I warned J-P and Anne about my highway speeds, they still seemed to have to work hard to keep slowing down to my crawl.  Flashers on and the occasional car stuck between us did not impede our safe bobbing arrival.

Fundy flora

Fundy flora

The rocks lay off the shore in the Bay of Fundy, where the tide and thousands of years have formed awesome erosion patterns (and worth the admission figures for throngs of people over time).  The areas and economies brighten as you near the entrance, signs and attractions pop up miles before…then, there you have it: One gate to pass through then some very well-kept trails and viewpoints marking centuries of inhabitants and tourists.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe “flower-pot rocks” are several hundred feet tall, named by their appearance as trees and grasses sprout at the tops, while necks and narrow cliffs and caves are formed by the tides and icing of time.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnne so graciously treated our camping and National Park admissions as we arrived in Fundy Provincial Parc enough before dark to enjoy setting up camp before dark then relaxing around a fire.


Life clings where it can. The seaweed has tiny bladders filled with air that make it float when the tide comes in.

Life clings where it can. The seaweed has tiny bladders filled with air that make it float when the tide comes in.

Jean-Philippe hasn’t been REAL camping for years.  In Texas, he’s lucky to set up a tent near one tree and they don’t allow fires.  We had the traditional hours of watching and tending a nice fire before wind change and smoke chased us to bed.

– David


J-P's campfire

J-P’s campfire

DAY 6 – 09/20/2012 – Vermont or Bust, Vergennes/Verizon

…enough said!

We started with “Second Breakfast” at a diner:  The Hot Biscuit in Ticonderoga or Ti as they call it.

Here was a breakfast we’d share as we’d already eaten. Homemade biscuits with sausage gravy.

Finally receiving good news buoyed our drive out of New York.  We really don’t want to leave, but Fall moves fast up here.  (We want to move North to Maine and New Brunswick at a modest pace so we can turn South and travel as slow as our overall experience and  entertainment suggests.)

Jane has romantic childhood memories of Ticonderoga, (a game that we’re having trouble researching) or a place she’s never been. We saw this as a reason to explore and plunked down about 17 bucks each for the fort museum.  Despite my frenetic ways, independence, and ability to read display signs, I gently lobbied to wait for the tour.  Boy was I glad.  Dan the presenter in period dress, herded about twenty of us to a flat below the ramparts.  A very good speaker, he skillfully painted the times that these places flourished.  A new nation, French and British interests…very lively and informative.  Looked like a great job for a History Major or actor.   We really enjoyed it.  But as will be our way, our feet were soon aching to make some miles toward Vermont.

Dan had us feeling “Revolutionary sentiments”…

Oddly, the brief “service” our phones had given us, they also irritated us.  However much our phones said “looking for service” and we enjoyed being out of touch, what we lacked most was a way to blog.  This feels like an important part of our adventure.  Surely if we only fitfully jot a few things and posts, it won’t capture the immensity of the country or the privilege we’ve stolen to travel within it.

We saw the Big Red Check Mark:  Verizon Store in Vergennes, I pulled right in.  Picking phones and service plans can be pretty tedious stuff.  In Maryland the stores are so busy it can be over half an hour before anyone notices you are there.  Not so in Vermont.   Chase was gracious, informative and entertaining.  Nick too got involved and we couldn’t help telling them about our adventure to explain why we needed a “hotspot” or something to connect for blogging.  We are 4G!   Both of us picked “dumb phones”.  I see an image of people everywhere, standing, looking down at something in their hands.  I see many parents so engrossed in their swiping and texting, they miss excited toddlers crying up for attention.  I don’t want to miss the world around me.  We want to see and hear all we can.

My cousin, Huntley returned my call, sounding almost like she was jumping up and down.  Wow, you’re up this far already?  You’ve got to visit!  We can make Stowe before 930 PM…more nice back roads then about 20 “icky” miles on Interstate 89.  I think it was the 40mph “Minimum Speed” that confirmed our disdain.  My poor little V6  4Runner can’t decide which gear to kick down into and seems to struggle more trying for 60 on the highway than whatever we roll on those back roads.  (Wonder how long it will last?)

– David

I remember having, as a child, a game called “Fort Ticonderoga”. Or was it Fort Ticonderoga Lincoln Logs? It’s pretty hazy. Maybe Nancy or Bob can refresh my memory. Anyhoo, that’s why I wanted to go to the fort. We also took Iris, our little stuffed bunny who travels with us. We have pics of Iris from all over the world.

– Jane