Return to Arizona

May 7, 2017

When we woke up at our RV park, someone pointed out there were two bird’s nest in a nearby cactus (one complete with some chicks).

Before leaving Deming, NM, we found this small soul food restaurant and bakery called Elisa’s House of Pies and Restaurant.  I had some cornbread dusted catfish while Maggie had some pulled pork.  We both also had several sides (red beans and rice, mac and cheese, mixed veggies, fried cabbage, and BBQ beans).  It was so good that we got some of the sides to go as well as three slices of pie (coconut cream, millionaire, and key lime).  We then drove on I-10 West to Tucson.

We stopped in Tucson to get tamales from Tucson Tamale Company.  They are always a great thing to get here.  Afterwards, we left Tucson on Highway 77 and 79 (taking photos of Mt. Lemmon on the way).  We made it to Mesa late at night.  We had our reservations for Monte Vista RV Resort.  However, since we arrived at 9pm (and the resort didn’t get our reservation), we were forced to spend the night in a nearby parking lot.

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Close Encounters

May 6, 2017

We went into the town of Roswell for lunch and to check out the gift shops.  Needless to say, they hammer the theme of extraterrestrials home more than a few times for tourist purposes.

We started at what many consider to be Roswell’s best restaurant, which is Big D’s Downtown Dive.   That restaurant didn’t disappoint at all!  While the parking situation leaves a lot to be desired (most of the spots were reserved for nearby businesses other than the restaurant, leaving only 6 spaces open), the food was first-class.  We started with the  Monster Fries (shoestring fries with roasted green chilies, pecan smoked bacon, and a thousand island dressing).  It was a fantastic appetizer (though too much for us to finish).  I had a green chili cheesesteak and Maggie had the Angry Hippie (a potato, black bean, and mushroom burger.  It was the best veggie burger we’ve ever had).  This place’s reputation is well deserved.

After lunch, we walked through Roswell’s tourist area to check out the gift shops.  We bought some gifts.  We also found Hanger 84 (the place where Roswell’s aliens supposedly were held) at the Alien Zone.  Essentially, it is a series of life-size dioramas where you can get your photo taken with aliens.  That’s exactly what we did too.  It was well worth the $1 admission (tell them you saw the price on Yelp).

We returned to the RV, got it ready for travel, then took off west to White Sands National Monument.  We got there just before sunset, when a sandstorm engulfed the area.  Not to be deterred, we drove into the area to get some sand sledding done anyway.  The pets even got to play for a short while (although Kandi did not use the sand as a litter box like we expected).  We’ve always liked White Sands (which is why this is our second time here).  We are always amazed at what we find living here in what is seemingly just sand).

Afterwards, we drove to Deming, NM where we stayed in a little known RV park away from town called El Rancho Lobo RV park.

Taking the Rain With Us Part Two

May 3, 2017

After getting ready, we left the RV park for some lunch.  El Cantarito in Cloverdale served Mexican food.  It was surprisingly good.  (A recurring theme for our trip, as we’ve had so much Mexican food from Phoenix that it all kind of tastes the same).  We liked the salsa and fresh chips and our entrees were well made and inexpensive.

Then, we got back on the road.  We drove west on the I-70, crossed over Illinois and made it into Missouri.  It rained non-stop after we crossed the Illinois border.  Several “lakes” that we saw were really just parking lots that were flooded.  The Mississippi River looked quite engorged.  Some of the highways were closed down as well!  We got dinner in town near the RV park at Riviera Maya (another good Mexican restaurant).  The rain subsided during dinner, then started back up before we got to the RV park.  We set up at Candy Cane RV park in Steeleville, MO for the night.  It was sprinkling when we set up the RV.  We stayed inside the entire night.  When we woke up to get out of there, it was still raining (heavily this time)!

May 4, 2017

With the rain still on full blast, we got the RV ready for travel.  We didn’t get lunch before the start of our travel today.  Instead, we grabbed some fast food from a gas station and sprinted to Vinita, OK.  We stayed at the Park City Motel and RV park for the night and to do some laundry.

May 5, 2017

After waking up, we drove down the road to the Hi-Way Cafe for some breakfast food.  The biscuits and gravy and pancakes were smaller but still reasonably priced and homemade.  It’s a very good hole-in-the-wall restaurant that you’d likely drive past if you’re not careful. (No photos since we were in and out).  We continued west, crossed Texas, and made it to Roswell, NM late at night.   We stayed at Midway RV park south of the town for the night.

What to do tomorrow: Check out the town.

Taking the Rain With Us Part One

May 1, 2017

Now we start the trip back to Arizona to get the rest of our kids out of boarding and to pick up our stuff.  We were glad to have gone to Niagara Falls yesterday (our original plan was to go today), as the rain hampered our take down of the RV.  We left the RV park on Grand Island and got back to the I-90 in Buffalo, taking it to Ohio.  Dark clouds followed us and sprayed us with rain on and off for most of the ride.  We bypassed Cleveland and stopped at River Trail Crossing in Butler, OH (a very nice, quite campground with spacious berths.  A stream trickles past it as well).  The rain stopped as we approached Columbus.

May 2, 2017

After taking down the RV, we drove into town to get something eat.  Der Dutchman is an Amish restaurant in Bellville, OH.  They feature a buffet (complete with salad bar, Broasted Chicken, side veggies, soups, and lots of pies).  We both had the lunch buffet, which was decent.  Before leaving, we also bought some groceries from the attached gift shop.

We got back on the road and drove on the I-70 to Indianapolis, IN.  Once we got there, we went to Shapiro’s Deli.  They served delicious pastrami and made some interesting macaroni (a lot of solid cream rather than cheese), but the German potato salad wasn’t to our liking (just potato salad with a lot of mustard).  We did appreciate it was close to the higway and had ample parking for our trailer.  We stopped at our campground for the night in Cloverdale, IN.

Niagara Falls

April 30, 2017

After getting ready for the day, we got lunch at Duff’s Famous Wings.  We wanted to get buffalo wings in Buffalo and we heard that Duff’s was the local favorite for it (as in better than the buffalo wing’s true birthplace, Anchor Bar).  We ordered a plate of wings and a plate of boneless wings, as well as a salad and a BLT and fries.  I did like the BLT and the regular wings were good, but neither of us were impressed with the boneless wings.  I guess we aren’t used to the way they make them (they made them very bready and drenched in sauce).  But, at least we can say that we’ve had buffalo wings in Buffalo.

Afterwards, we drove to Niagara Falls and parked near the Visitors Center.  We took the trolley around to see the area first to get the lay of the land.  We visited each waterfall, which were sights to behold themselves.  We also paid tribute to Nikola Tesla, whose history is entwined with the area.  As if it didn’t get better, we got on the Maid of the Mist boat tour and felt the power of Horseshoe Falls!  We also bought a few souvenir mugs (which will make our Hot Toddies taste better).

It was a great experience and a perfect example of the beauty of the country we live in.  We felt we went at a great time, when  it wasn’t very busy and the weather was perfect.  We didn’t even have to pay for the parking since we stayed after 6PM.  After the Falls, we returned to the RV park to check on our kids.

What we wish we could do: We would have liked to have done the Cave of the Winds, but it wasn’t open at the time.  I guess that’s something to look forward to next time.

What we will do tomorrow: Start the drive back to Arizona.

Lake Ontario

April 26, 2017

From the Spruce Creek campground in Salisbury, we went west on the I-90 past Rochester.  Then, we traveled north to the Lake Ontario State Parkway.  We stopped at the Black Willow Winery in Burt.  We weren’t in the best shape by the time we got here.  We must have caught some sort of cold in Washington or Philly.  Before we visit Niagara Falls, we want to be in better shape.  We decided to stay a few days here.  After setting up, we went to the Hilltop restaurant in Lockport (it’s supposed to be well-regarded).  It was supposed to be 50 cent wing night, but they ran out of wings (what a jip!).  Maggie and I had some Sweet and Spicy Shrimp to start.  She had some French Onion Soup and a Greek Salad while I had the Tomato Bisque and the Greek Stuffed Pepper (stuffed with sausage, broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes, and feta cheese.  All of the food was delicious, so this place lived up to its reputation.  Afterwards, we got provisions and fuel from the local grocery store (called Tops) and called it a night.

April 27, 2017

The cold was worse for Maggie, so we stayed in today.  It was cloudy all day.  I took a bike ride around the neighborhood and winery area.  We ate some pizza from a local Italian place, which was only so-so.

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Sun breaking through the clouds at Black Willow Winery

April 28, 2017

We’re still not up to going to Niagara yet, but we were well enough to visit the lake and pay tribute to ours hosts at the Winery.  We checked out the winery tasting room, which offered wine and chocolate pairings.  Maggie tried a riesling, a blackberry wine, and two wine blends.  Her chocolate pairings were peanut butter and jelly, dark raspberry, sea salt caramel, and a spicy pumpkin bark.  I tried several meads and a peach wine (and some bacon chocolate).  We bought a few bottles of blackberry wine to take with us.

Then, we drove to Wilson Tuscarora State Park to walk along Lake Ontario.  The Great Lake was so expansive that Toronto (on the other side of the lake) was a hazy mirage. The lake has its own tide!  We spent a little time there, watching Kaiser trying to frolic in the waves.  He kept trying to grab some driftwood, but wouldn’t go more than a few feet into the ocean.  The waves kept scaring him.  We gathered some of the flat rocks that washed up to make a small monument there too.

We headed back to the RV to call it a night.

April 29, 2017

We left the winery in the afternoon and drove to the Cinderella Motel and Campground in Grand Island, NY (It’s an island!).  This puts us closer to Niagara Falls and the city of Buffalo.  After setting up, we went to get some brandy so we can have some Hot Toddies, which helps with our sore throats.  We stayed in and had some pizza delivered.

Transit to Niagara

April 25, 2017

Nothing much to report this time.  We got the RV ready for travel and left the park under heavy rain.  We stopped at Brewfish Bar and Eatery again for lunch, since Ch’ale sounds good for this gloomy day.  In addition to Ch’ale, we also had the pretzels again.  I had a Cubano sandwich with Baked Macaroni and Cheese.  Maggie had the Brussel Sprout Grilled Cheese sandwich.

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After lunch, we made our way up to Albany and then east on I-90.  Of course, we had to pay several tolls on the roads of Massachusetts and New York.  Total for all tolls was less than $20 this time, so far.  We stopped in the small town of Salibury, NY to stay at the Spruce Creek Campgrounds.  This little gem of an RV park is quiet and expansive with a nice stream trickling past it.  We spent the night here and had a campfire before it started raining again.

 

Totally ’80s Evening

April 24, 2017

For our final full day in the area, we visited Josh at his place in Fall River.  We started by getting some grub from the Brewfish Bar and Eatery in Marion.  The food here was great, with plenty of seating.  It was raining, so we had some Ch’ale (half clam chowder, half kale soup).  It was so good we ordered some to go (we knew that Josh would want some).  We also had a few other appetizers there, such as the Spicy Thai Calamari, Pretzels with Beer Cheese Dip, and a Quahog (stuffed with grilled corn, applewood smoked bacon, red peppers, and sweet bread).  Just these few appetizers were very filling and priced just right.

Then we drove to Josh’s place in Fall River.  We made it an 80’s movie night, starting with Predator (get to the choppa!).  After the movie, we went to Asia One (an asian fusion place).  We started with sushi and each had an entree (I had the Orange Ginger Duck.  I’m not sure what the others had.) Then, we returned to Josh’s place and watched Robocop (the original and NOT the reboot, of course.  He didn’t have Predator 2, a situation that I’m sure he’ll rectify soon.) (Predator and Robocop movie photos courtesy of wikipedia.com and imdb.com respectively.)  Then we went back to the RV park, bidding Josh farewell.  He had to work tomorrow, and we have to get going to Niagara Falls tomorrow as well.

What we wish we could do: We certainly want to see the leaves change here.  So, we’ll be back in the Autumn (not this year, but probably next year).

What we will do tomorrow: Drive across New York on the way to Niagara Falls.

New Hampshire – An Underrated State (New England Part Two)

April 23, 2017

For today, Josh took me north to New Hampshire, where he grew up (Maggie couldn’t attend).  We visited the neighborhood where he spent his childhood.  We also went to Hampton Beach to check out the sights and view the ocean.  I tried some fried dough from Blink’s.  It was good, just like fry bread in Arizona.  We also played a few games at Playland Arcade, a haven for vintage arcade enthusiasts.

After a game or two (where the controller didn’t work for one of us), we satisfied our craving for seafood at Bob’s Clam Hut in Kittery (Josh’s recommendation, which was a great one).  I had ANOTHER lobster roll with clam chowder and fries (he had some lobster chowder).  We also split a basket of fried clams.

After eating, we drove to Portsmouth to walk around and check out the sights there.  We stopped in several shops to see what was for sale.  We also walked through Prescott Park to see the harbor.

After stopping for a drink (coffee and an italian soda), we returned to Gateway to Cape Cod to pick up Maggie for dinner.  We chose Matt’s Blackboard Restaurant in Rochester.  The decor was cozy, with delicious food (We shared a half grilled pizza.  I had the French Dip with Caramelized Onions and Blue Cheese Butter.  Maggie had the Wild Mushroom Ravioli in a Light Wine Sauce.)  We will definitely be back here when we return.  Sorry, but we ate it so fast that we didn’t get photos of our food.  We then returned to the RV.  Josh returned to his apartment.

40 Whacks with a Wet Noodle (New England Part One)

April 21, 2017 (continued)

After the New York City debacle, we managed to get through it and make it to Fall River a few hours after sunset.  Our very good friend, Josh, lives in Fall River and had agreed to show us his slice of New England.

Of course, we were very hungry after the 10 hour trip.  We dined at the Taphouse Grille downtown.  The food was delicious and the drinks were plentiful (not terribly expensive either).

After dinner, we adjourned to the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast to spend the night.  The place acts as a museum and gift shop that revolves around the most horrific crime committed in Fall River.  An in-house psychic can conduct a seance for you.  You may even catch a glimpse of a ghost.  The three of us stayed the night playing Cards Against Humanity(in the Hosea Knowlton and Andrew Jennings rooms) until 1am.  I guess ghosts don’t like card games (too offensive for them?).

April 22, 2017

After waking up, we went down for our breakfast of johnnycakes, roasted potatoes, and fruit (a good breakfast).  We compared notes with others that stayed, and confirmed they didn’t see any ghosts either.  Oh well.  There was a little downtime until our tour of the premises started.  So we drove the RV to the Gateway to Cape Cod RV Park (also known as Thousand Trails).  By the time we got it there and settled, we missed the tour.  So we got in Josh’s not-so-gently used Saturn for a drive to nearby Plymouth, checking out Plymouth Rock and lobster statues dotting the sidewalks.

Then, we drove to Boston to grab something to eat at Faneuil Hall.  Of course, I got a lobster roll from Boston and Maine Fish Co. and some clam chowder from Boston Chowda Co.  Both were really good (it better be for a $22 roll).  We were so hungry that we didn’t even take photos of our food.  We ate in the communal dining hall, which is interesting (I’m told that it was a fairly slow day despite all the people there).

After eating and exploring the Hall, we felt we had enough time to view the aquarium and take a tour of the city.  We bought some tickets that allowed us to do both at a discount.  Then, we entered the New England Aquarium so we could get through as much of the place in about an hour.  There are some interesting exhibits, but very few things that we hadn’t seen before at a different aquarium.  It was cramped, but we did get through nearly all of the aquarium in an hour, with enough time to get to our tour bus.

Then, we got onto a Boston Duck Tour, which take you around the city (and the harbor) using a  WWII-style amphibious landing vehicle.  We got to see most of the important and interesting facts about Boston from our narrator (a lot of information about Colonial times and the American Revolution), who was both informative and a little eccentric.  After driving around on land, the vehicle would be driven right into the harbor for some sights along the harbor front.

After the tour, we returned to the RV park and tried to start a fire.  Raining yesterday and earlier in the day made our firewood impossible to keep lit.  So we abandoned it and called it a day.

What we wish we could do: Probably catch a few more places of interest in Boston.  Maggie and I can understand why people like this place.

What we will do tomorrow: Drive north to check out New Hampshire.