Kentucky

Continuing on the 231 that we climbed out of Tennessee on, we noted that the standard of roading dropped a bit – that was until we got ourselves through to the town / city of Scottsville. The roading improved, the houses got bigger, the properties were large with big fenced paddocks, but where were the horses? Another observation across pretty much all of the US is the total lack of fencing – houses / yards are rarely fenced. From Scottsville it was an easy run on the 231 into Bowling Green – Corvette country. Bowling Green is the home of Corvette in the US – their main production line is based here and as a result they have the National Corvette Museum – our destination for today. There’s a long running GM worker strike at the moment and workers made sure to be on the corner near where you turn into Corvette Drive to go to the museum and also where the factory is. The museum was good – I’m not going to say great as I was, yep, disappointed that a couple of key Corvette cars that I had expected to see / be on display, were not. You don’t come all this way not expecting to see what I think many Corvette enthusiasts will say is ‘thee Corvette’ to see in the flesh – the ’63 Split Window. Alas, no original ’63 was part of the collection / display today. The museum made headlines back in 2014 when a large sinkhole opened up in the museum and ‘swallowed’ 8 cars in the collection. Unfortunately 5 of the 8 were so badly damaged that it was deemed in practical to restore / repair, so now the museum has a large central display – in the area where the sinkhole occurred, to remember the vehicles involved – 3 of the restored and the other 5 looking pretty much as they were when dragged out – caked in mud / dirt, and smashed.

Having had a good look around the museum we had a walk around the nearby area – across the road from the museum is the smartly located Artz Classic Cars – he has quite a collection – Corvette’s are popular in number, but he had a pretty amazing collection of 50’s onwards American classics and muscle cars – all for sale – if only. Supposedly buyers have come from all over the world to buy vehicles from Art – he has some reputation. Having had a good Corvette fix we found a spot to park for the night – yep, in a central Bowling Green shopping complex car park – it wasn’t too noisy so all and all not too bad. On Sunday we had a wander around and then got ourselves, and Romin moving on Interstate 65 for our run across Kentucky today. The Interstate points us north towards Louisville, Kentucky’s largest city. Coming into the city you pass the Louisville International Airport – appears to be a big UPS hub as there were a load of UPS planes in the area. We pass Cardinal’s Stadium – the state’s NFL team – all of these stadiums are impressive – just need to get along to a game sometime. Navigating the spaghetti junction, we are running out of state. Bordering Kentucky and Indiana is the Ohio River – we cross that and we have crossed out of one state and into another – I think there were 4 bridges spanning the river all within a kilometre of each other.

Tenessee

We cut into the state of Tennessee to the east of Chattanooga on Highway 225, and made our way through to Cleveland and then up an onto the busy Interstate 75 again – where does all this traffic come from? We were swamped with trucks and cars roaring north on the interstate – all passing us with ease as we struggled at our desired 60 mile an hour max. We pushed on up the interstate around 25 miles to a rest area and parked up. We still had daylight so I got the barbe out and cooked up some sausages for us – nice easy dinner. Rest area was popular with the trucks – we were hemmed in by them and were rocked to sleep as best you can with the hum of the truck generators that seem to be kept running overnight. On Saturday morning we got on the road early – A) to try and beat some of the traffic, and B) because we had a bit of a run ahead of us, around 200 miles to get up and into Kentucky to the Corvette Museum in Bowling Green. We had a nice run up and through the state of Tennessee this Saturday morning – Romin got running okay so that was the main thing for us. We had plans to probably come back to Tennessee to ‘park the camper’ in November, so weren’t too concerned about our only crossing the state this morning. Getting on the road earlier looked to be a good move – the Interstate wasn’t its usual manic, plus we only had a short run up it before cutting north and west to get up through the state.

Our route took us west on Highway 305 and then connected with Highway 68. This road took us over the Watts Bar Dam – I can’t be sure if it was part of a river or a rather large lake but I do know that just up from the dam there was a large nuclear power plant with the standard chimney plume. On the west side of the dam you climb up to an area called Grandview and then out to the city of Crossville. At this point we hopped onto the Interstate again – I40 for our run west. The I40 runs you all the way into Nashville and we got to around 25 miles from the city before branching off to head north and out of the state. Along the way we managed to gain back and hour – crossing from the eastern to the central time zones – that said, our run across the state this morning still took us something like 5 hours, so gaining an hour was a plus for museum timeframes. We got ourselves onto Highway 231 just after the town of Lebanon – yep, another one of those places that it would be interesting to learn as to how it was named. The 231 gives you one last climb out of the state – Tennessee had rewarded us with a good run today – plenty of variety but no significant climbs so a bit easier on Romin – a good outcome I think. Yep, before we know it we are crossing over into another state.

Georgia

Crossing over the Savannah we were now in the southern state of Georgia. We pulled into the rest area just over the river aiming to park up for the night only to find that overnight parking wasn’t allowed so we pushed south on Interstate 85 to a truck-stop for the night – busy spot and also noisy but needs must. On Friday morning we made the call that we would stop to take in some sight in the state, so I found details of the Georgia Motorsports Museum so we made our way north and across to the town of Dawsonville. Looks like Georgia was one of the key states that was heavily involved in the running of moonshine. As a result, the local moonshine runners developed great car craft and many were selected to become the first NASCAR drivers – story goes that some would run moonshine before and after the races. Georgia is another very strong NASCAR state, and Dawsonville is home to the Elliot family – another strong name in NASCAR history. The museum in Dawsonville has a load of info relating to the Elliot’s and other local motorsport identities and was very good. Next door to the museum is a Moonshine Museum for those interested in that. Getting back to Romin, she started to run a bit crazy on us – the speedo isn’t working – its flat lining when first started and then once running it flicks back and forth something crazy. As a result the transmission is struggling to work out what gear to engage in, so when we do get running we are best to keep running. So we carried on west on Highway 53 to cut across to Interstate 75 before then running north to the top of the state on Highway 225. We were running albeit it not well, so we pushed on and yes, left another state behind us whilst there was still daylight.

The Carolina’s

For me I associate the Carolina’s with NASCAR – Days of Thunder and all that, and so whilst not a huge NASCAR fan it would be rude not to check something heart here in the heart of NASCAR country. Crossing into North Carolina we stopped at the Visitor Centre and I picked up on some NASCAR options. Any true NASCAR fan would head straight for Charlotte and the surrounding areas as this is where the big speedway is and a big number of the main NASCAR teams have their workshops here, and as a bonus to the tourist, they invite tourists to come and check them out. With our current fear of big city driving we had made a call that we wouldn’t head into the heart of Charlotte – that represented something just a bit too busy for us. Instead we headed for the home of the King – no not Elvis Presley – the NASCAR King Richard Petty. We headed south on the 29 through to Greensboro and then dropped down on Interstate 73 (a really nice piece of road, in fact all the roading through North Carolina was pretty good – much smoother and better maintained than some of the states), through to the small town of Randleman – or King Country. The local road / Interstate section is named after the King and so forth. We looked like we were out in the countryside somewhat and thinking to ourselves there can’t be anything much of a museum out these ways, when we found the ‘Petty Compound’. You have the Petty Museum, the old Family home, and then you have a series of workshops which is Petty Motorsports where they tweak hot cars with the ‘Petty touch’.

The museum itself was really good – I’d been a big fan of the King since I’d seen NASCAR as a young fella and the museum chronicled his life in racing. Petty won 200 NASCAR racers, and 7 championships – no one has come close to his 200-race record to date. The museum is full of his trophies and some specific cars, but also a huge collection of guns, knifes and belt buckles – all things he loved to collect. He had model cars as far as the eye could see – yep, loads more than I have. He had a bit of everything. The King had a cameo in the film series ‘Cars’ with Lightning McQueen so there was a section in the museum dedicated to that. Richard’s wife of 50 odd years was a huge part of the racing family and she was also included in the film as one of the ‘support wagons’ at the races. The Petty’s are a NASCAR legion – Richard’s dad Lee was one of the first NASCAR champs, and then after Richard his son Kyle was a NASCAR legion as well. Kylie’s son Adam also raced and won a NASCAR event and was showing real promise to continue on the family heritage, when he died in a race event aged only 20 years old I think. Out the back of the museum you get to have a bit of a look at the Motorsport workshops where they ‘tweak’ vehicles – in effect you bring your new sportscar to Petty Enterprises and they ‘hot it up’ with some Petty parts and tweaks. The workshop looked to be very busy. As we were coming away from the museum we even had the pleasure of meeting the King – he was pulling out of the yard in his Cadillac and stopped to say giddy to us and shake hands – pleased to learn that some Kiwi’s had come a calling at his museum to day (the museum is a family run affair). In the excitement I overlooked to get a selfie with the King – missed opportunity I know. Before we knew it, his Caddie was moving off and we headed back to our stead – Romin (not sure of his exact age, but the King is 80 plus now and comes into the workshop every day that he isn’t off at a NASCAR event – pretty sure the Petty’s still have an active NASCAR race team).

Pulling away from the museum having both really enjoyed our afternoon there, we were rewarded with the day drying and warming up – making for easier motoring. We got back onto the nice Interstate 73 and pushed south for a time before finding a really nice Interstate rest area for the night – it was big and well off the main road so more comfortable than many we have stopped at.  On Thursday morning we called into the Visitor Centre attached to the rest area for some further info before heading on south on the 73 through to Rockingham – a nice consistent run for us. At Rockingham we cut west to both take us out of the state, but also to take us down and below the city of Charlotte. Upon reflection we both felt that we needed more time in the state – from a geographic point of view the state has a lot more we would have liked to have checked out (if we were running more reliably with Romin we would have taken more time to explore). To the east of the state you have the Atlantic Coast but you also have what looks to be an amazing area called the Outer Bank – in essence a big peninsula that runs out from the mainland pretty much enclosing the entire coastline of North Carolina. You have the likes of Cape Hatteras at its point and you also have the Kitty Hawk area where the Wright Brothers made their historic first flight – there’s a national monument there and I would like to explore at some stage. Then of course you have Charlotte and the surrounding areas with all the NASCAR activity so I’d like to time it to actually come back for a race and to take in some of what is on offer in the area. To the west of the state you have the bottom end of the Blue Ridge Skyline Parkway and I’m pretty sure part of the Appalachian Trial runs through the state, so lots to take in, but for us, too little time this time in state.

South Carolina

Unlike North Carolina we had no fixed plans for stopping in South Carolina as disappointing as that might be – whilst we were running (well Romin that is) we just needed to keep pushing, so today was about primarily transiting the state. As we crossed into South Carolina we were soon rewarded with our first views of cotton fields – yep, big paddocks of cotton wool in essence. We stuck to Highway 1 as it wound its way into the heart of South Carolina. We made our way through to Camden and then cut west on the 34 to join up with Interstate 26. In amongst loads of traffic we pushed north before then cutting west on the 418 to head the west Interstate 85 for the final run across and out of this state (the run across state took us about 5 hours of driving I think – at our pace). Before we knew it we were heading for the Savannah River which is the state border between South Carolina and Georgia – crossing that bridge ended our time in the state of South Carolina. Our brief reflections of the state – the roading wasn’t as well maintained as North Carolina, there were a few cotton fields that we saw, but there were large pine plantations right across the state. The properties were big, and there was a lot of farmland. To the western side of the state we went through an area rich in marble – there was a large marble processing factory, and the local school was clad in marble – a different look. For now we had a river to cross.

Maryland and the Virginia’s

On the basis that we plan to come back to Washington DC towards the end of our travels, our time through Maryland this afternoon would be all too brief. Short to the tune of around only 12 miles on via Interstate 81. We cut south on the western tip of the state where Maryland borders West Virginia. Reality is there’s not much more to tell than it was a straight forward run through this state – too short to form any real perspective of the state and what it holds – hopefully we can see more of it in January / February.

West Virginia

Crossing the state line we were now in West Virginia, and being consistent with our recent pattern, our time through this portion of the state wouldn’t be long either. With the day running out on us we had to find a park for the night – Walmart at Martinsburg was our chosen destination. Martinsburg sit right about bang smack in the middle of Interstate 81’s short run through the eastern corridor of the state. The following morning we got back on the road and after a mere 30 miles we had crossed another state, again, with not too much to report on. Reality is that the state view from many eastern Interstates are pretty nondescript – trees, rolling land, sometimes farm land and then you get the billboards promoting what services are available at the next exit and for me the all-important question, how cheap will their fuel be?

Virginia

Crossing yet another border we did so knowing that with this state atleast we wouldn’t be crossing it in only a day – we had some plans. Just over the border there were a really nice Visitor Info Centre at Clearbrook and the lovely volunteers set us up nicely with some state-based info and advice. Virginia markets itself as the ‘love state’ – you will love doing this and love doing that in Virginia. The state was celebrating 50 years of this marketing and so the likes of the Visitor Centre had a large ‘love’ monument out front and lots of associated ‘love’ tokens around the place. Getting back to Romin and thinking about the road again, the dilemma for us was around the fact that at some point we would have to cross some mountain (I say mountains, and yes there would be up’s and down’s, but we were probably talking less than 5-6000 feet), in order to be able to work our way west again. Cutting through the back of Virginia and West Virginia you have the likes of the Shenandoah Mountain range so we made the call the largely bypass West Virginia and make our run south in order to lessen any impact these ranges have on the lower eastern states. Our experience of the past week with Romin was that the less impact the better – flatter running was preserving her wellbeing. That said, we did decide we couldn’t not be in Virginia and not take in part of the Shenandoah Ranges so we headed south on Interstate 81 around 100 miles to the town of Staunton where we then cut east on the 250 through a dip in the ranges (a saddle maybe) to the town of Waynesboro. There we stopped at their Visitor Centre and besides getting direction of the pending run through the hills, the volunteers were able to set us up with state maps for below and west of Virginia (a lot of state Visitor Centres only hold maps pertaining to that state).

Waynesboro is the gateway to the Blue Ridge Skyline Parkway. The parkway is at the southern end of the Shenandoah ranges and is a little lower to navigate, but is still a roadway that in essence runs south right along the top ridgeline of the ranges. The Skyline Parkway actually runs right through to the bottom of Virginia and then also down through North Carolina – we would only be taking in a stretch of around 50 miles today – enough of a test for Romin we felt. From Waynesboro it’s only a comparatively short climb to be up and on the ridge line and then you travel south on a winding, sometimes up and down road. On the plus side for us and Romin – speed limit on the road is only 45 and that is only on some stretches – most of the road you travel at around 35 miles and hour so a good pace for us – yes, almost our normal cruising pace. Along the Parkway there are stops and points of interest. We stopped at the Humpback Rocks Visitor Centre where they have preserved a farm-let from the era. Was all very rustic and got you thinking about the hardships people endure for where they live. At Humpback there are some rocks you can walk to – and the pictures looked pretty impressive but we settled for our wander around the farm and amused ourselves with the squirrels dancing around. Getting back in the parkway we enjoyed the vistas that ‘riding atop a mountain range’ provide.

Our Boondocking website directed us to a Forest Camp just off the Parkway so we headed east and down the valley on the 60 and soon found a quiet little spot called the Oronoco State Forest campsite. We settled in and got the deckchairs out for a time before we started to lose the sun and had a good walk up the valley as the sun dropped down. The camp had a couple of other groups staying as well – we got to talking to one chap that was driving back through to Texas – we heard him rise and get away early the next morning, as the following morning greeted us with very heavy rain. We got on the road early and wound our way slowly down the valley to the town of Amherst, and after some breakfast we pushed on south in the heavy rain, sticking to Highway 29 through to Danville in the south of the state. We had a good run south (around 75 miles) but again it was time for us to move on through and into another state.

New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania

Traversing Interstate 84 west across Connecticut is going to bring you back down into southern New York State. In need of a spot to park up for the evening we found a roadside rest area at Stormville, about 25 miles into the state. Rest stop was a popular spot to pull in and rest for a while and I was talking to a couple of chaps that had driven that day all the way from Nova Scotia through to where we were, but they were planning on pushing on west all the way home to Ohio – obviously taking it in turns to do stints driving. They had been bear hunting and wanted to get the bear home whilst it was still fresh – commitment there. We got in the road again early Sunday morning and continued to cut west across the state – which in reality isn’t a great distance – something like 75 miles if you still to the main east to west Interstate. We headed through to Middletown and then took a secondary road – the 284 through some smaller towns to cut across the state and drop down into another.

New Jersey

Before you know it New York becomes New Jersey. We took the 284 and then the 565 through to the city of Newton. I reckon you can measure the size of a city by the volume of car dealers it has – Newton had all the main dealers all along the main road leading into the city (which in reality we would again call a town). Along the way I think we passed an advertisement for a zoo – in the hills of New Jersey – unexpected. We stopped in Newton and went to a nice little diner for some brunch. Timed it well as the town was having its Fall Markets and a car show to boot. Having restocked ourselves with some food we took in the car show – not a big turnout but I’m sure there would be more cars join as the day went on. It was a nice break from the road – sun was shining, we’d had food, and now we got to look at some nice cars – good way to spend a Sunday morning. From Newton we cut south and west on the 94 across towards the border at Columbia. You have to cross the Delaware River here to cross over into Pennsylvania – wasn’t a big bridge but they have a toll in place so you can’t avoid it – $1 for cars, but $6.50 for a motorhome – not sure how they worked that one out. Crossed over we had again, yes again, crossed over into another state – we were ticking off these eastern states pretty quickly I know.

Pennsylvania Revisited

Having crossed the Delaware, we were again back into eastern Pennsylvania. We followed a nice Delaware River Scenic Byway south along the rivers edge through to the town / city of Easton. From there we pushed west taking the easy option of Interstate 78 – it cuts clear across the south eastern portion of Pennsylvania above Philadelphia. You forget just how big this state is – any state that has more than 2 pages dedicated to it in our atlas represents a big state – Pennsylvania has 5 pages to cover all it spans. The 78 took us on a south westerly path across the state cutting above Harrisburg the state capital. You know when you are getting down into this area that you are getting into some history – less New England battle of Independence territory – we were now getting into the thick of Civil War country. Below Harrisburg you have Gettysburg one of the more famous Civil War sites. Not us with our Civil War history, we didn’t opt to visit any of these sites, but we understand there is some real character to some of the homes around the capital and surrounding areas of southern Pennsylvania. As we headed along the interstate we felt very fortunate to be heading the direction we were – on the north bound lanes there had been an accident and traffic – which was primarily trucks, was backed up solidly for the better part of 10 miles – they were going to make slow progress. Thankful to be heading the way we were, we passed the miles off. We’d planned to stop at an interstate rest area but got to it to find it had been closed. A quick check of the Boondock website saw us cut south on the 233 to an area known as the Pine Grove Furness State Park. This area is a bit of a landmark as it is the half way stage for anyone hiking the Appalachian Trail. We were in the trees / woods and Carol was in a very happy space.

The Park office had closed by the time of day we pulled into the area but we noted it state you could ‘overnight park’ so we took that at it’s word and head down to the trail carpark and got the deck chairs out and the barbe cranked to enjoy the last of the nice Sunday afternoon we were experiencing. We got talking to some ‘snowbirds’ – a couple from the Northern states making the winter run to Florida – Snowbirds is the popularised name given to ‘migratory traveller’s’. Pleased with my barbequing efforts (the pork was very good), we were just settling in as the evening was closing in on us. The local Park Ranger then turns up and states we can’t park up overnight – we would have to move (along with the Snowbirds). The Park has a forest camp nearby so we had to pack things away and then try and find a camp spot. We had some fun and games with the park ranger – he found us in the park and was going on that we hadn’t paid, which we hadn’t but considering the time of day we thought we would be able to dirty things up in the morning. Finally we were settled – unlike the Snowbirds who seemed to take offence at the nature of the ranger and packed a bit of a huff as they weren’t anywhere to be seen in the morning.

Monday was a national holiday in the US – Columbus Day so the park was alive pretty early with the sound of young kids running around. As the day went on most of the camp sites packed up and headed back home. Nice advantage was that you didn’t have to be off your site until 3pm so we took full advantage of that. We set out for a nice walk around part of the Appalachian Trail and then on around to Lake Laurel. Along the way we met up with an English chap who was walking the trail – he’s started July 19 up in Maine so had been walking now for almost 3 months – and estimated it would take him 5-6 months to finish the walk. He was only his second pair of shoes – first pair lasted 6 months he told us. He had a decent sized backpack on but didn’t look too loaded down. I could see the thoughts running around in Carol’s head – how cool would it be to do something ‘epic’ like that – the trail. I did say to her I fully support her doing so – just not that keen myself to spend 6 months walking but yes, have to admit, the landscape is very nice. But our walker did say it’s not like this every day – he’d spent some long days hiking all day up in New Hampshire only to progress 10 miles a day – emm, maybe not for me. Did suggest to Carol that maybe we could start with some 3-5 day tramps once we get ourselves back home.

Right, back to the area we were in. Pine Grove Furnace got its name from the fact that an Iron Furnace was built on site around the 1770’s. The surrounding area held a load of iron ore that they excavated and then melted down to make into iron. One of the furnaces still stands in the park today. I understand the 2 lakes in the area were created from them digging out the ore – so man made lakes. Looks like the iron production ran locally up to the late 1890’s when technology put the small furnace operations out of business. Some of the old pictures from the area were amazing – the area today is an Historic Place. Also at the park that have a museum to the Appalachian Trail – tells some stories of some of the characters that have hiked the trail and ‘made the trail their home’. One lady just spent years walking the trail. There was one story about a chap that was kayaking some river nearby when he befriended a kitten who took a liking to him and carried on his travels with him. They ended up walking the trail – the cat walked for about 4 days before the guys picked the cat up and parked him atop his pack – that’s where the cat stayed for the next 5 months – grew in weight from 4 pounds to 12 pounds by trial’s end – then the guy, with the cat on back ‘biked home’ almost a 1000 miles – sounded like a character indeed.

Bringing us back to reality, as we hiked back across the park towards the camp, we saw some massive praying mantis – size of the cell phone, and a small, yes, small snake. We headed back to the camper and got ourselves cleaned up ahead of saying goodbye to the peaceful surroundings. It was getting on for 4pm by the time we cleared the camp, so we headed on down the 233 to the town of Chambersburg before getting onto Interstate 81 for the final push out of Pennsylvania. It’s a big state Pennsylvania with a load of history and diversity. We had the lake at the top, and rolling farm land. The Armish are scattered all over the state and whilst we saw plenty of roads signs warning of ‘horse and carriage’ we didn’t actually see any riding along the country roads. As noted, there’s a lot of history in the state and it would take another trip to try and do some of that justice – another time maybe – for now we were running out of day and running out of this state.

Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut

As fate would have it, and circumstance for that matter, our run through this state was going to be short and sweet as well. By the time we cross over into Massachusetts it was almost dark, so we motored on to find a rest area near Lowell. This put us to the west of Boston – we plan to be visit Boston at the end of the trip minus Romin – the idea of trying to navigate Romin around a city like Boston simply doesn’t appeal at the moment so we will be back to do it in a more comfortable manner later in January all going to plan. For now, our rest and as it would turn out, only stop in this state was a busy Interstate rest area, but we parked up for the night we the hum of the road and the parked trucks humming us to sleep. Saturday morning, we pushed south from Lowell – Romin struggled to get going but clicked into gear – literally and we were off. We cut off the Interstate onto Highway 495 south before turning off at the town of Milton onto the 102 so we could cut through into Rhode Island. Given more time I was really keen for us to head right to the bottom of Massachusetts and out to the Cape Cod area – where Nantucket lies. Would have been nice to have seen the coastline around this area, but again, it will need to be another time.

Yep, like Massachusetts our time in Rhode Island would be short and sweet as well – needs must. Reality is that Rhode Island isn’t big at all – in fact it’s the US’s smallest state by area. We would be only covering the western corner of the state, so unfortunately our time in Rhode Island would be short. We cut through to Slatersville on then south on the 102 to connect with the 6 which would take us west and out of the state – already. Reflections, albeit brief about this state – there is loads of history in this New England area – this is where the English took a hold in the 1700’s before being pushed on. Another general observation of eastern USA is the sheer volume of cemeteries we passed / saw. Obviously this is the older side of the nation, and it seems reflected in the volume of cemeteries we saw – most of which age back accordingly. Another interesting observation is the fact that most of the cemeteries are just so open – they come up to the roadside – no fences for the most part – quite different to what we would see back home.

Before we know it we cross into our third state for the day – Connecticut. We stopped at the old town of Willimantic before cutting west on the 66 in order for us to duck down below Hartford the state capital. The 66 was very stop go – we were going through small town Connecticut and there seemed to be stopped lights everywhere, so a bit of a stop start affair shall we say. Like the other New England states, Connecticut was all about the trees – as far as the eye could see. Tucked away in amongst those trees you have houses here and there and even little towns, but as you crest a hill, all you are rewarded with is the view of trees and more trees ahead of you. Reaching Middletown we then joined up with the 691 and worked our way across to Interstate 84 for the remainder of the state. Being the interstate there were cars everywhere, and yep, trucks zooming by us as we plugged on in the right lane as best we could. An observation that may not be accurate but there seem to be more Cadillac’s per capita in the eastern US states. Mid America is simply all about the pick-up truck, whereas the East Coast was Tesla country – well that was how it appeared to me. We were running out of Saturday as we made our final push west and out of Connecticut – time for enter our 4th state in a day.

Southern New Hampshire

Our entry back into New Hampshire is the very busy Interstate 95 – we were in the thick of later Friday afternoon traffic – everyone rushing to get home or get somewhere, so we plugged on in the right lane of the Interstate as we have right across the US. To make matters worse, we had to make the call to use the toll road – I know, went against all we have been trying to achieve, but needing to take what seemed like the easiest route south, a $4 toll wasn’t the worst thing. Irony is that Interstate 95 is only a stretch of 15 miles across the south eastern side of New Hampshire, so at Interstate speeds, even our speed of around 55 miles and hour, our ‘New Hampshire revisited’ was a short trip. With the day closing in around us, there really isn’t too much more to our New Hampshire experience – the Interstate is wall to wall trees – as it turns out this was a precursor to what the next couple of eastern states would hold in store for us. Again, all too quickly New Hampshire was gone and we are about to hit another state for the first time.

Maine

We crossed into Maine early Friday afternoon – doing well, but Romin wasn’t doing so well. Romin decided to have a bit of a hissy on us – slipping transmission and our speedo is having spasms all the time – all of which combined to take some of the light off the wonderful state that I think is Maine. Maine was our eastern most target for our ‘touch all the states’ quests, so rather roughly running, we arrived. Again, time, and the reliability of Romin would prevent us taking in all that this state has to offer – given more time (and reliability) I would have loved to have pushed as far east in the US as you can out at an area called Lubec which is right up where Nova Scotia hits the US. The coastline along this state looks amazing with islands and inlets – another time / another visit to the state may well be needed, but reality is we are lucky to be here now and to see it when we have – at some point soon the snow is due and the landscape will change for many months ahead.

Back to the here and now – we carried on down the 302 – the inland area is blessed with a load of lakes as well so we have seen on our map a supposed rest area near one of the lakes, but alas it was not to be. My early observations of this state included skis, snowmobiles and boats. Obviously it was that time of year when all the big ski sales were happening, and then everyone was gearing their snowmobiles for the pending snow, and with the boats, they were either being towed to get out on the water – for those still hearty enough, or they were being shrink-wrapped for the winter ahead. The other thing to note through all of New England is the size and style of some of the homes – called the New England Colonial style – they are big multi-level homes with veranda, high stud ceilings etc.  We pulled into the town of North Windham and then pushed east out to the coast at Freeport finding a really good free overnight car park right in the town. Parked, we headed out for a good walk – determined to see the water – emm, was a bit more of a hike that expected, and the water in the end only ended up being an upper part of an estuary channel. On Friday morning we had an easy early start – Carol had a nice call from Perth to catch up with Logan, Tara and Charlie so a good start to the day. From there, and very anxious we located an RV place on the south side of Maine and made a beeline there to try and get some answers for how Romin was running. As fate would have it, she ran well all the way down to the RV place – no figure. RV place weren’t able to assist us but directed us next door to a truck place and yep, she played up. A bit of tinkering under the bonnet we were still no further ahead so it was on up the road to the Ford dealer for some answers. Unable to assist us they sent us down the road to a transmission shop in Wells where the guys had a look and came back with a bit of a crim report – she might keep going, she might blow the transmission – hard to tell.

With the mood somewhat sombre and confused we headed on south as best we could, figuring we’d best not hang around in these northern quarters and needed to head south. First I needed to see the sea proper so we headed out to an area to the south known as York Beach. The area / foreshore road was littered with seaweed – they had obviously had some high stormy tides and as I say, the roadside was awash with seaweed. The coast here consists of the sea smashing in on a break, the road, and then houses right up on the road – I think in some of the big storms, high tides they would be quite susceptible. Able to see the Atlantic – but not touch today – the seas and weather were pretty rough, we instead parked and had a cuppa to take in the view, and sea smells, before a local made us more – apparently we were squashing the seaweed he collected – emmm. Nursing Romin along we headed out to Interstate 95 for the final short run out of this state – again, disappointed not to have more time and ability to savour what this state has to offer. Before we knew it Maine was gone and we it we were crossing out of a state again.

New Hampshire

We entered New Hampshire in a sea of fog through the town / city of Lebanon – yep, another spot with an interesting name – how did that come about? Just west of Lebanon was the smaller town of Mascoma and they looked to be going all out with decorating guys and the like for Halloween celebrations – in fact right from around 1 October onward all we have seen as we cross the country is pumpkins everywhere and loads of properties going hard out with their Halloween displays – many had just pumpkins and guys where as the fancier ones including a raft of inflatable creatures – ghosts, dragons, pumpkins – you name it, they have it. Some states seem to get into the Halloween celebrations and decorating more than others, but Mascoma were certainly into dressing up their guys in an array of costumes / attires.

The countryside throughout New Hampshire was hilly up’s and down’s, and the roads were somewhat narrower – good driving to keep you focused. We pushed east on H104 through to New Hampton and then cut north on Interstate 93 through to Lincoln – the base town for the White Mountains area. We called into the local visitor centre and had a good talk to the team there about the area (and questioned just what Halloween was actually all about). The lady recommended we go back up the Lost River Gorge. We found the desired rest area at Beaver Lake and had a nice look around. The area around here has the Appalachian Trail running through it so we had a look at where that was. Heading back down towards Lincoln we spotted a place – Bob’s Toy Collection – seemed rude not to have a look – and bonus, it was free to have a look at ‘Bob’s’ small collection of automobiles and associated bits and pieces. He did have a really nice old 59 Ford Sundowner out in the yard for sale – that would have been something to pick up. Heading on out of Lincoln it struck us how many bed and breakfasts there are in this neck of North America – Vermont and New Hampshire.

From Lincoln you head east on the 112 into the White Mountain National Forest on the Kancamagus Scenic Highway – a 34 mile stretch through to the town of Conway. The highway is named is named after Mount Kancamagus, and the scenic byway was the first to be dedicated in north eastern USA. And quite the scenic run it was – the fall colours through here were stunning – Carol was up out of her seat looking looking looking with excitement. There are a number of scenic spots to pull into as you traverse the 112 alongside the Swift River – but they weren’t ideal size wise for the RV plus there was a load of tourist traffic in the area so most spots were already full as we reached them unfortunately. On the plus side the speed limit through this stretch of road was reduced so it wasn’t like we were holding up traffic moving at our regular pace – for a change. We did manage to get a park at the Rocky Gorge scenic area and walked down to the bridge and on over to Falls Pond that rewarded those that ventured (which wasn’t all of the tourists in the area) with nice reflections on the lake. You had the colours of fall casting a nice reflection in amongst the wooden surrounds. The gorge had been formed from a glacier many thousands of years ago – pushing up through this valley, cutting it as it had. Apparently over the winter months the gorge still freezes up big time and large chunks of ice are forced through the valley, cutting it out further.

The area had been named for New Hampshire’s most legendary Indians. Chief Passaconaway managed to unite 17 Indian tribes in the Central New England area in the 1600’s. Kancamagus – the Fearless One, was the grandson of Passaconaway. The first European settlers came to this area around 1790. The road or rather trail through the mountain pass was created in 1837 and obviously updated over the years – a very nice drive that is high on the ‘fall colour hunters’ schedule if the tourist traffic and activity through this area was anything to go by. Coming through the pass you drop down / wind around to the town of Conway on the eastern side of New Hampshire. Fuelled up it was time to leave this lovely state already – from Conway we run east on the 113 that then joins into Highway 302 – part of the Roosevelt Trail. Before we know it we have left another state behind and we are about to go as far east in the US as we can this trip.