I can’t quite remember when I first heard about Mackinac Island in Michigan, but from the moment I did I knew it would be a cool place to visit. On a recent road trip with my dad we decided to visit since we were in the area snagging a few highpoints anyway! What makes the island so special? You have to take a ferry to get to it and NO CARS are allowed – only bikes and horses. Sounds pretty perfect, right?
I love anything that has to do with The Beatles, so when I saw there was going to be a Beatles themed escape room I was all for it. I had never done an escape room before so I had no idea what to expect. I saw the tickets were selling out quickly so I rounded up a group of fab-four family members (plus my little nephew who was our mascot) and we headed over to Ridgewood Winery in Birdsboro, PA to check it out.
HAPPY NEW YEARS EVERYONE!!! I HAD to get up early to try out the star mode on my new camera – well more specifically the star portrait mode. It takes a photo of someone and then another photo of the stars behind and lays the 2 images on top of each other. Of course I wanted to use JoJo as my model!
I had the pleasure of heading out to Assateague Island with Kevin and JoJo over the weekend. It’s a place that’s far enough away that we don’t go a lot, but close enough that when we do go it’s not a horrible drive.
JoJo LOVES going to the beach so I thought I’d put together a list of the top 5 things that help make the day go smoothly:
I absolutely love petroglyphs (pictures carved into rock – most are so old no one knows what they mean anymore). There are some amazing petroglyphs in Red Rock Canyon and Vally of Fire which I have seen on other trips to the Arizona/Nevada area so when I was planning a trip to Flagstaff I decided to see if there were any close by.
I found the V bar V heritage site which was about 45 minutes away. The area used to be a ranch and in 1994 became part of the Coconino National Forest to preserve the petroglyphs. The site was easy to find – we parked in the lot and headed down to the visitors center to get a parking pass ($5).
On the way back from my camping trip to Watkins Glen we stopped off in Centralia, PA – this is a whole town that was evacuated due to a fire that started in the Coal Mine below. The fire has been burning since 1962. Some people didn’t want to leave, but eventually most of them were forced out. I am always surprised at how many people come to see this — well — area of nothing but shrubs, weeds and cemeteries – there was even a person selling hotdogs at a stand on the side of the main road (that’s a new one).
You can wander around the abandoned roads and hope to see smoke that still escapes from the cracks in the pavement and dirt to this day, although to be honest each time I go there, there is less and less smoke visible. We didn’t see any on this hot summer day. I am going to go back in the winter because supposedly you can see it better then so I’ll talk more about the town in that post.
I can not say enough great things about this campground and State Park – I love it here. This trip was not the first and certainly won’t be the last time I will visit. The campsites are large with a picnic table, fire ring and room to park your car. There are flush toilets, warm showers and electric in the bath house.
I brought my friend Cathy with – this was her first camping trip and she LOVED it. We were driving up right after work so I called and told them we would most likely get there late. They told us that wouldn’t be a problem, just to set up when we got there and check in in the morning. We ended up arriving at 9:30 which meant unfortunately it was dark. Setting up the condo (as my tent is lovingly nicknamed) in the dark is a pain – actually setting up the condo in the day time is sort of a pain because it’s so huge and old. As we were putting it together we noticed one of the tent poles was missing the hollow metal end that fits into the peg attached to the tent – bummer! We couldn’t find it anywhere so we ended up rigging that side of the tent up with extra stakes and the ring attached to the tent that the stakes go through and trying to jam the pole in the hard ground – hey it worked – even if it was a bit lop sided!
Kevin and I got up early to pack the final things we would need for our trip and put them in the truck. We gave Willow (my cat) her insulin shot and set out for Stowe, VT to try to hike Mt Mansfield before they closed the toll road at 5- I knew we would be cutting it close and my heart sunk when I punched the address into the GPS and saw the estimated arrival time was 3:30- that was over an hour what my phone GPS said!! “We’re not gonna make it” I said – it takes approx 20 mins to drive up the toll road – plus let’s say 2 hrs to hike and enjoy the views and then 20 mins to drive back down- the website says all cars must start driving down by 4:45 at the latest because the gate closes at 5. This did not give us enough time. Kevin said his GPS the time always goes down as he drives. We figured we would give it a try and see if we made it- I wanted to be there by 2 to be safe but knew that just wasn’t possible. On the long drive I started looking for options for plan B.
I joined a cycling club a few weeks ago which I LOVE – I have met so many awesome people, although I have to admit I was worried that on my hybrid I wouldn’t be able to keep up. Turns out I had no problems (and they gave me a 20% off coupon to a bike shop which includes bikes—-could we see a road bike in my future?? Probably yes! 🙂 WAHOO!) Anyway – I have done a few rides with this group – the problem? There is no time to stop to take pictures and too much beautiful scenery along the way! LOL!! I knew an upcoming ride was going to go right by this awesome wildflower patch that everyone has been buzzing about lately, but I couldn’t bear it if I couldn’t stop to take a picture – or 100 – so I decided to bike there myself before the group ride. I talked my mom into going along so we picked a spot that was fairly close by to park and cycle there. Now you can just drive up and park in the grass, but what’s the fun in that?? 🙂
We started the long drive back east – we needed to be at the Illinois highpoint on Saturday because it is on private property and only open to the public a few days a year. We looked at a map and figured out ways to split up the rest of the trip so it would put us close to the Charles Mound Illinois Saturday morning so we could continue back to PA. More on that in the next few posts!
Along the way east we drove through the Badlands National Park – I think it is so beautiful here and we had nice weather (unlike last year when it was rainy and very foggy!) The bison are always awesome to watch and the prairie dogs are too cute!!