Tag Archive | roadtrip

Circus Trip 2018: Birthday Lobster

Day 52, Wednesday, September 5, 2018
Beal’s Lobster Pier, SW Harbor, Maine

When you are alone, holidays can be hard…  So I wasn’t sure what to expect from my road trip birthday.  Did I want to mark it in any way, or just let it slide by unnoticed?

Being in Maine at my birthday was fortuitous.  I had always wanted to try whole lobster, and what better place to experience it for the first time than Maine, where I could have fresh whole Maine lobster right at the source!

I asked around that morning and learned that Beal’s Lobster Pier was recommended as the place to be for Maine lobster.  It was near Acadia National Park, so when I finished my days’ touristing, I headed over to check it out.  I arrived fairly early; if I remember correctly it was just before 5, and it wasn’t too busy yet.  I let the man at the counter know I had never had whole Maine lobster, and he set to work picking out a good one for me.  And the sides, you can’t forget the sides…  Coleslaw, corn on the cob, and cornbread…

After I paid, I wandered out to find a table with my glass of Vinho Verde, and had the most incredible view of the harbor from my seat.  It was a warm evening, and I felt so at peace on the water, seeing the occasional boat come in.

My lobster came with instructions on how to crack and eat it, and I was so grateful!  I made sure to take a photo so I could have it in case one day I needed them.

My meal was amazing!  So fresh, and so simple, and easily one of the best meals I have ever had.  It was delicious, and I felt like it was a birthday dinner done right!

Note: For those of you in the know, this was the day before my actual birthday.  It still counts!

Circus Trip 2018: Shelburne Museum

Day 48 & 49, Saturday & Sunday, September 1 & 2, 2018
Shelburne Museum, Shelburne, Vermont

September brought a new state under my belt – Vermont!  I had crossed the border the evening before, and booked a few nights at the Lake Bomoseen KOA for the Labor Day Weekend.  It was a great place to stay, with large wooded campsites, a lake to fish in, a little movie theater, game room and store.


The next morning it was time to visit a museum that I was super-excited about – The Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, Vermont.  The museum was founded in 1947 by Electra Havemeyer Webb, a wealthy collector of American folk art.  In addition to collecting art pieces, she also undertook to collect 18th and 19th century buildings to house the collection, including houses, barns, a schoolhouse, a lighthouse, a jail, a general store, a covered bridge, and even a 220 foot long steamboat!

I wandered from building to building checking everything out, and thoroughly enjoyed everything I saw.  The steamboat Ticonderoga was incredible; moved here after plying the waters of Lake Champlain.  I would have loved to be a passenger on that ship! The lighthouse was cool, the unusual two lane covered bridge was fun to see, and the round barn was fascinating.

The collection currently contains over 150,000 paintings, folk art, textiles, quilts, furniture and other types of art not commonly seen in museums.  There are entire rooms of duck decoys, farm implements, dioramas, automatons, and other interesting folk art!

The museum is huge, with over 39 buildings total to explore.  The $25 admission is admittedly a bit steep, but they do give you a two day entry for that price, and if you have the time, there would absolutely be enough to keep you busy for two days!

The next day, I had a quiet day at the campground.  I blogged, read, took a walk and even watched a movie.  I also met Bill and Jean, a kind retired couple who were raising their three grandchildren.  They invited me over for dinner and conversation.

Enjoy the photos!

Circus Trip 2018: Fort Niagara

Day 44, Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Fort Niagara State Historic Park, Youngstown, New York

Fort Niagara has a history of white colonial settlement that spans over 300 years.

The first fort on this site was established by the French in 1679; they named it Fort Conti, and it wasn’t occupied for long.  The French returned again to establish Fort Denonville between 1687 and 1688.  It wasn’t until 1726 that the first permanent structure was built; a stone building known as the French Castle that still stands on site today!  Additional structures were built between 1756 and 1758.  In 1759 the British gained control of the fort during the French and Indian War, and it was British until the Revolutionary War was won, and the Americans were the proud new owners of Fort Niagara.

Of course, the British weren’t known for giving up so easily and they briefly reconquered Fort Niagara between 1813 and 1815, during the perhaps not-so-aptly named War of 1812.  The Americans got it back at the end of the War of 1812, and Fort Niagara never saw combat again.


The Fort did continue operating as a peaceful border post, and American troops were stationed here during the Civil War.  It was common during the early years of the Civil War to parole enemy troops, with the condition that they not return to fighting for a year.  The parolees at Fort Niagara were put to work building stuff.  Troops were trained here during both World Wars as well, and the last troops were finally withdrawn in 1963.  Since then, the Coast Guard is the only military branch that is on site.


Of course, Native Americans from the Seneca tribe were in the area long before the Europeans came along.  The Seneca was using the area around Fort Niagara as a seasonal hunting and fishing camp through the 1600s.

While I was there, I got to explore the buildings, and I also got to see both a cannon firing and a musket firing demonstration!  Apparently they used to lob tennis balls into the water when they did the cannon firing demonstrations, but the Canadian government asked them to stop, so now the demonstration does not include a projectile.  That’s better for the environment!


This was such a cool place to visit!


Circus Trip 2018: Fort Phil Kearny

Day 10, Wednesday, July 25, 2018

After lunch, I drove to Fort Phil Kearny State Historic Site, which is about 25 miles east of Sheridan.  Fort Phil Kearny was a short-lived US Army outpost set up along the Bozeman Trail, the wagon road that linked the Oregon Trail to the gold fields in present-day Montana.  It was first constructed in 1866, and was tasked with protecting travelers who were heading northwest along the Bozeman Trail; there were about 400 troops stationed there.  However, from the very beginning, the Native Americans in the area had a issue with the fort’s presence, and they ended up fighting several battles over control of the North Powder River in the area.

The Powder River country landscape

When the Army first envisioned the forts along the Bozeman Trail, the land was occupied by the Crow tribe, who believed that cooperating with the US Government was in their best interest; they accepted the forts on their land, which had been “granted” to them by the 1851 Fort Laramie Treaty.  However, dwindling herds of bison meant that the tribes were moving around more to seek food;  the Lakota tribe took control of the area, decided to ignore the treaty boundaries, and were decidedly less accepting of the presence of the US Army.

The tribes had seen the devastation inflicted on the land and the natural resources by white settlers traveling on the Oregon and California Trails, and they were determined to protect this area, one of their last open hunting grounds, which was critical for their way of life.  The Lakota, cooperating with the Northern Cheyenne and the Northern Arapaho tribes, launched a series of small scale attacks on troops, travelers, and civilian laborers working out of the forts.  One such skirmish erupted further; the Fetterman Fight in 1866.  However, as that battle was fought about three miles away from the fort, I will talk more about it in a later post; I visited the battle site the next day.

Sculpture of Native American scouts on the ridge line

It costs $5 to visit; $3 if you are a Wyoming resident.  When you visit, the Visitor’s Center has a brief film that goes over the details of the fort, the Fetterman Fight and the Wagon Box Fight that occurred in 1867.  There is also a diorama of the layout of the original fort. There is a lot of imagination that goes into your visit; the original fort was burned in 1868 and the replica buildings have not been constructed.  The fort site has had some excavations; a map and signs mark out where the original buildings were located.  There is a rebuilt section of the fort wall, so you can try to imagine what it would have looked like.  The cemetery down the hill also contains burials of some of the soldiers and civilians who were killed during the Army’s short occupation here.

Today it is a peaceful grassland, and it is still a sparsely populated area.  I can only imagine how remote it was back in the 1860s; the fort was 236 miles from its nearest neighbor, Fort Laramie.  That would have been an incredibly difficult journey on horseback or in a wagon trail even in the best weather, not to mention temperatures of 30 below zero during a harsh winter.

I saw magpies and pronghorn in the grass beyond the fort’s boundaries when I visited, and imagined what it would have been like when the area had large herds of bison.  It was worth the visit to see the wildlife I did see!

After my wanders at the fort, I went back to camp for a nice nap!

Antiques Roadtrip to Boise

In late June, Jon and I had an amazing opportunity.  We went to Antiques Roadshow!  I’m sure you are wondering about the backstory…  In case you don’t know what Antiques Roadshow is, you are really missing out.  It is a television show on PBS, where people bring their antique and collectible items to be appraised.  The show has events in 8 cities each year, and they amass an army of appraisers to assess everybody’s items and tell them a bit about them and the value.

Each year, people can enter their name into the lottery for 2 tickets to an Antiques Roadshow event.  You can only enter for one city per year, and you can only enter once.  After the date for entries has passed, they randomly choose 3,000 people per city to receive tickets.  The tickets are free, and it is against the rules to sell them.  If you win tickets, you get a pair of tickets to the event where each person must bring at least one item to be appraised, and you can bring two.

This was the fourth year I have entered the lottery, and I didn’t win tickets when they were in Seattle, Portland or Spokane, all closer to home.  But this year I won!  To the event in Boise, Idaho!  That’s an eight hour drive from home, but I was so excited that I won, we decided to make a weekend trip of it.  The funny thing is, they send you an email to let you know the winners have been selected, and you have to go into the website to see if you won; I was so convinced that I probably didn’t win that I waited the longest time to go check.  Once we found out we got tickets, we had to put in requests for time off!  Luckily, I didn’t have much going on for those couple of days at work…  Jon and I both got the long weekend off, and we left for Boise on Thursday evening after work.  We made plans to make it to Pendleton, Oregon the first night, knocking out a little more than half of the drive.

We headed out a bit late (due to a lost driver’s license and some time spent searching for keys – people who know us will know who lost their stuff…) and were on the road when the trouble started…  We were on our way over the mountain pass when we saw a sign indicating that the pass was going to be closed for rock blasting 10 miles in front of us.  Starting at 8 pm…

It was 7:54

(Insert expletive here…)

I crossed my fingers and prayed that because it was government, they wouldn’t be starting right on time…

But they were…

Right on time…

We were stuck in a dead stop at the top of Snoqualmie Pass while the construction crews worked.  The sign had indicated a closure of 2 hours, with additional time if necessary to clear the road.  Yikes…

There was nothing to do but wait.  I took the opportunity to take some photos of Lake Keechelus, a beautiful crystal clear blue lake at the top of the pass; the source of the Yakima River.  I am almost always barreling by this lake at 60+ miles per hour, so it was kind of neat to be able to just enjoy it for a spell.  Talk about making lemons into lemonade!  Of course, the mosquitoes soon drove me back to the car, and I pulled out a book to read.   At one point Jon decided he was going to go for a run up the road, but fortunately he didn’t  go too far.  The road crew was better than on time and under budget – they had us moving again in 50 minutes, leaving me to wonder if they over-estimate so they can deliver the re-opened road with travelers thinking that they got lucky!

Lake Keechelus at the top of Snoqualmie Pass - You can see the completely empty I-90 in the background

Lake Keechelus at the top of Snoqualmie Pass – You can see the completely empty I-90 in the background on the left side at the edge of the lake

After the closure, we got moving and made good time, but of course we were already an hour behind schedule.  Which meant that we weren’t going to get to Pendleton until midnight.  Oh well, we just kept driving…  Sadly, more of the trip was in the dark, so it was a long, dark, desolate, tiring drive.  It also meant a sad dinner of gas station snacks, because we didn’t want to make any more stops than necessary.  Ugh…

But we eventually we made it, and were able to get a good night’s sleep so we could continue the rest of the way to Boise in the morning!