Fall Waterfall Tour Part 2 – Sept 23 – 29, 2023

Niagara Falls area

We left the Finger Lakes area just before the rain came. The weather forecast was looking good for Niagara Falls. We had a quick overnight at Lakeside State Park, then we headed to Four Mile Creek State Park, which is on Lake Ontario and about a 25 minute drive from Niagara Falls State Park. I forgot to photograph the campsite, but it looked very much like the campsite at Lakeside State Park, posted below.

We set up camp and went to check out Devil’s Hole State Park and Whirlpool State Park. After a lot of walking and hiking, we went to the town of Lewiston, which is about halfway between the falls and our campground. It is a very cool small town. They were just packing up after their fall festival. There was a microbrewery/barbeque place with a nice outdoor patio. It was a perfect way to top off the day.

The next day we went to Niagara Falls State Park. Neither of us had ever been there and we were just blown away by the size of the falls. There were no brochures or maps, just a large sign with a map on it, labeling all of the sights. We just assumed if something was on this map, we should see it (once again, New York State Parks not providing much information). That strategy worked for us. We walked everywhere, all day. We walked to the visitor center, to see if there was any info or history. There was no information, only souvenirs. The popular viewing areas were pretty crowded, even on a Monday in September. I noticed a lack of safety features, some crowded rickety stairs and loose hand railings. We limited our visit to the American side, not wanting to deal with a border crossing. We didn’t track our mileage, but we figure we walked at least 7 miles. The food concessions didn’t look too appealing, so we headed back to the barbeque place in Lewiston.

Allegheny State Park

After two nights at Four Mile Creek, we headed to Allegheny State Park. It was somewhat on our way home and the photos online looked beautiful. We spent two nights there. We hiked, checked out the historic administration building, the fire tower, the dam, Thunder Rocks and drove around the park. The park has a lot of cabins and some very nice paved bike paths. They were not on the map we received at check-in, but I think they are new. The map we had was drawn by hand and probably 30 or more years old. There was no cell service or internet, so we were thankful to have it. We happened to get a campsite that wasn’t difficult to back into. One highlight for us, was hearing an owl while we were hiking late afternoon, the first day.

Eerie, PA

We had never been to Eerie, so we decided to check it out for a night on our way home. Our brewer friend, Kristy, moved there a couple of years ago from Detroit, so we planned to try to meet up with her. Unfortunately she was traveling for work, but gave us some tips on where to go and what to see. Lampe Campground, run by the Eerie Western PA Port Authority, was very nice. The sites are easy, paved back-in sites, perfect for a quick one-night stop. We apparently “won the lottery” by getting a site there. It is very popular with fishermen, as it is located on Lake Eerie, near Presque Isle State Park.

Eerie has a nice waterfront area with outdoor bars and restaurants. It looks like a fun place to spend time in the summer. Mid-week in September, there were no people there and many places were not open. We drove around the city and checked out a couple of microbreweries recommended by Kristy. We had a pretty good impression of the town and would definitely return.

Maumee Bay State Park

We wanted to go someplace new in Ohio, on our way home. We also did not want to tow the fifth wheel through downtown Detroit on a Friday afternoon, when rush hour starts early. Maumee Bay State Park is about 11 miles east of Toledo. It is located at the site of Niles Beach,  a community of vacation cottages that was destroyed in a storm in 1972. The campsites are level, well-spaced and have plenty of foliage between them.  All of the campsites appeared to easily accommodate large rigs. We did not check out the beach area, but the entire campground was really nice. We were fortunate to not be near some large groups and families, meeting up for the weekend. Best of all, we had a short, easy Saturday morning drive through Toledo and Detroit.

The second half of our trip ended up being very different than planned, but it was pretty fun! After 118 nights of camping, we planned to watch the weather and head north again or even camp somewhere near home. After a couple of weeks at home, the weather did not cooperate, so we winterized the rig and stored it for winter. Next camping trip – Florida!

We spent one night at Lakeside State Park, which is about 50 miles east of our Niagara Falls campground. It is on Lake Ontario. It allowed us to arrive fairly early to start sight-seeing the next day. We met a friendly camper there, who told us about Whirlpool State Park and Devil’s Hole State Park, which we had never heard of. We otherwise might have missed them.

We hiked down about 1000 feet on Devil’s Hole Trail in Devil’s Hole State Park. It was a great warm-up for the following day at Niagara Falls.
Devil’s Hole Trail in Devil’s Hole State Park
The Niagara River at Devil’s Hole State Park
The Niagara River at Whirlpool State Park
The Niagara River at Whirlpool State Park
Lewiston, NY
American Falls at Niagara Falls State Park
Horseshoe Falls at Niagara Falls State Park
Niagara Falls State Park
Niagara Falls State Park
Horseshoe Falls at Niagara Falls State Park
American Falls at Niagara Falls State Park
Our campsite at Allegany State Park, NY
Allegheny State Park, Salamanca, NY
Allegheny State Park, Salamanca, NY
The hand-drawn map we were given at check-in had “Thunder Rocks” highlighted. We had no idea what it was, but drove up to check it out. On that chilly fall weekday, we had the place to ourselves. I have been reading the
Outlander books and felt like we were at Craigh na Dun. (Fortunately, we were not transported back to the 18th century.) Allegany State Park, NY
Thunder Rocks at Allegheny State Park, NY
Science Lake, Allegany State Park, NY
Allegany State Park, NY
View of Red House Lake from the patio of the Red House Administration Building. The lake was formed when red House Dam was built in 1929. Allegany State Park, NY
Red House Administration Building, built in 1929 at Allegany State Park, NY
Red House Administration Building, built in 1929 at Allegany State Park, NY
The Brewerie at Union Station, Eerie, PA
Eerie, PA
South Pier near Lampe Campground, Eerie, PA
Lampe Campground, Eerie, PA
Our campsite at Lampe Campground, Eerie, PA
Lampe Marina, near Lampe Campground, Eerie, PA
Our beautiful campsite at Maumee State Park, OH. We were happy we stopped at this campground. It is a true gem! We walked through most of the campground and ALL the campsites were this nice – large, level, well-spaced with foliage between sites. We didn’t get a chance to check out the beach area on Lake Eerie, but we will be back. It was a great way to get closer to home and time our drive through Detroit, to avoid rush hour.
Maumee State Park, OH
Dave and Slushie chilling out at Maumee State Park, OH

Fall Waterfall Tour part 1 – Finger Lakes region, New York – Sept 12 – 22, 2023

I have named our fall trip “Fall Waterfall Tour” because we saw more waterfalls within a couple of weeks, than we ever have before. We headed east, with plans to explore the Finger Lakes Region in New York, then head south to Shenandoah National Park. We had all or our campsites booked in advance, with the end of the trip left open, in case the weather was good and we wanted to stay out longer.

Following our normal approach to RV travel, we monitored the weather and other factors that could affect our plans. We have learned that in the fall, hurricanes quite often eventually move toward New England or the midwest, after making landfall and downgrading. These enormous weather systems can stall for long periods over an area, causing days or weeks of rain, where we have plans to camp.  This year, Tropical Storm Ophelia did just that, resulting in a very different second half of our trip.  This post covers the first half.

1 night in Ohio then Letchworth State Park, NY

We left our house on a Tuesday, just after rush hour, heading to our first stop at Geneva State Park, in Ohio. We chose to avoid going through Canada, since Dave has been hassled by US border agents in the past (no problem with the Canadians). We figured crossing the border with an RV increased the chances of being hassled. It was a great 1-night stop, where we could pull in, stay hitched and do plenty of walking around the park before dinner.

We spent 4 nights at Letchworth State Park in New York. When we checked in, we were told we had one of the best campsites. We had a partial view into Letchworth Gorge and lots of space around us. We hiked every day and checked out the spectacular waterfalls and scenic views throughout the park.  There are nearly 30 different waterfalls and cascades in the park. We walked nearly every inch of the campground and through much of the park. We visited the museum and gift shop.

It was our first New York State Park and our first realization that the park system does not provide much information about a park, once you are there (accurate maps, directories, what to see, history of the park, conservation information). With no cell service, you should really research the trails and what waterfalls to see before you go. Of all the parks we visited on this trip, this was the only one that had information on the history, but only at the museum.

The New York Park state park system seems to be far less concerned with visitor safety than other places we have been to. With the exception of the fence between our campsite and the gorge, there were few safety railings or barricades. I imagine there have been many deaths there, accidental or not. My fear of heights kept me away from anything too dangerous. We managed to see a lot and stay safe. We really loved Letchworth State Park.

Watkins Glen State Park, NY

We spent 6 nights at Watkins Glen State Park.  We set up camp and then went to check out the town and harbor. We hiked the Gorge trail on our first morning there.  The trail is 1.5 miles, 500 feet elevation gain and feature 19 waterfalls, sheer rock walls and 832 staircase steps. It was so beautiful I did not even notice the steps and elevation gain.  I have really never seen any place like it. We went through pretty quickly with a plan to return really early another day, when there were less people. By mid-morning it was packed.

We explored the area around Seneca Lake and Cayuga Lake. There are countless breweries and wineries with great views, our favorite being Two Goats Brewing. We visited the town of Montour falls for more waterfall viewing.  We spent a morning walking around the Cornell campus in Ithaca and visited Taughannock State Park. and the Cayuga Nature Center. We also went to Geneva, NY, which was a bit disappointing, as nothing was open and it was quite deserted. We hiked the South rim trail in the park, which was uncrowded and beautiful. We never did return to the Gorge trail, as  it became increasingly more crowded with day visitors. We believe it was likely near the beginning of leaf-peeping season.

Near the end of our stay there, the weather was starting to turn. Tropical storm Ophelia had moved north from the Carolinas and had become a tropical depression.  It was approaching Shenandoah National Park and was headed north. At the same time we were watching the news regarding the funding of the federal government and were concerned that there could be a government shut-down, which would close the campgrounds there.  We didn’t want to drive all the way there, only to head home right away. The rain was moving in toward us, at Watkins Glen, The beauty of camping is that you can watch the weather and change your plans at minimal cost (unlike canceling hotels and airfare). We canceled our reservations at nearby Robert Treman State Park, as well as Shebandoah and left the Finger Lakes area early. We headed toward Niagara Falls, where we found available campsites and the forecast looked good. Neither of us had ever been there, so we were excited to go.

We had a nice, level campsite at our first stop, so we did not need to unhitch and then rehitch in the morning. Geneva State Park, Ohio
This was only the second time in my life, that I have been to Lake Erie. Geneva State Park, Ohio
Genessee Arch Bridge and Upper Letchworth Falls
Genessee Arch Bridge, Letchworth State Park
Middle Letchworth Falls
Our campsite at Letchworth State Park had a lot of space around it and a view into the gorge.
Letchworth State Park is commonly referred to, in New York, as “The Grand Canyon of the East”
Geneseo, NY is a college town, home to State University of New York (SUNY)
We stopped in for a cold one at the Dublin Corners Taproom. It’s always fun to chat with the locals in a new town. Geneseo, NY
A mastadon skull at the William Pryor Letchworth Museum. Mr. Letchworth donated 1000-acre estate to the state of New York for use as a park , with the provision that he could remain there for the rest of his life.
This old stone footbridge built in 1935 by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) provides a great view of Lower Letchworth Falls. The main trail to this area was closed for maintenance, so we had to take an extremely steep, wet, slippery path down to this area. Hiking up was a workout, but much easier!
Lower Letchworth Falls, Letchworth State Park
Hiking in Letchworth State Park. This trail had great views and many hawks.
Strange Design Public House was originally built in 1879, as an addition to the County Poor House. It was purchased and remodeled in 2018 and would be Geneseo’s first brewery.
Inside Strange Design Public House, Geneseo, NY
Letchworth State Park Camp store has a produce stand with fresh local produce. The sweet corn was really good!
Letchworth State Park
Our beautiful campsite in Watkins Glen State Park
Enjoying a pumpkin spiced ale at Horseheads Brewing Seneca Lake in the Watkins Glen Harbor
The Gorge Trail, Watkins Glen State Park
The Gorge Trail, Watkins Glen State Park
The Gorge Trail, Watkins Glen State Park
The Gorge Trail, Watkins Glen State Park
On the deck at Two Goats Brewing on Seneca lake near Watkins Glen
We had a great carry-out dinner from Nickel’s Pit BBQ, Watkins Glen, NY
Geneva, NY
Geneva, NY We were surprised at how deserted town was ona Tuesday afternoon.
Aunt Sarah’s Falls in Montour Falls were nearly dry. Montour falls, population 1,583, is just 5 minutes outside of Watkins Glen, NY.
Shequaga Falls is located in the center of town in  Montour Falls, NY.
Some of the buildings in Montour Falls, NY date back to the mid 1800’s.
Eagle Cliff Falls in Havana Glen Park, Montour Falls, NY
Deckertown Falls, Montour Falls, NY
Hiking above Deckertown Falls. The trail was pretty sketchy with a steep drop-off, so I stopped where I was…
Upstate Brewing Company, Watkins Glen, NY
The 6-story tree house at Cayuga Nature Center, Ithaca, NY. There are several rescue animals housed there who cannot be rereleased into the wild. There were foxes, a red-tailed hawk and a raven. I won’t post any photos because it is too sad to see their tiny cages.  I really hope they will be moved to a better place some day.
The lower falls at Taughannock State Park, on Cayuga Laken near Ithaca, NY.
The main attraction is Taughannock Falls, a 215 foot waterfall. It wasn’t possible to get a good photo in the afternoon, as the sun was just behind it.
Pond on the South Rim Trail in Watkins Glen State Park
Campfire at Watkins Glen State Park

Summer part 2 – home, Frankfort and Lelenau – July/August 2023 (updated 1/1/24- bear encounter)

Writers Block, 808 Day and a massive tragedy

I have been really behind on this blog (the post dates are aligned with the dates we traveled, rather than actual date I posted). I have been having a sort of writer’s block, due to a tragic event that occurred on August 8. I always celebrate August 8 (I call it 808 Day) for a couple of reasons. One reason is that 808 is Hawaii’s area code and another is that it is my birthday. That number seems to show up in my life on an almost daily basis. It started happening while I was deciding whether or not to retire from my corporate job. Since then, I have seen it as a sign from the universe that I am on track with what I am supposed to be doing.

August 8, 2023 was a great day in the Eastern Time Zone, though not in the Hawaii–Aleutian Time Zone. We spent the day doing our favorite things in Frankfort. Dave didn’t tell me, but he had read that a fire started in Lahaina, but it had been put out before we went to sleep. The next day we learned the entire town had burned. We were scheduled to head downstate to restock and catch up on things around the house. All the way home I was on my phone looking for updates or news. We were sick with worry and many other horrible feelings, including loss. It took quite some time to learn anything because of the power outages there.

By that evening we confirmed that our friends, Ron and Rhowenna were home and okay. We also got a text from our friend Dave describing how he drove himself, Charlotte, her sister and the dog and cat out, barely escaping with their lives, by speeding over sidewalks, with the girls screaming and shouting the whole time. The next few days we would be searching online for any news of people we know. We have been going to Maui together for about 25 years, usually going twice a year. We have some close friends there and many casual friends. We belonged to the Lahaina Yacht Club for many years, where we met a lot of people. We have many wonderful holiday memories in town. It really is a small town, where everyone knows everyone. Since most people are not from there, everyone is like family (ohana, in hawaiian). There were so many people we were worried about.

We would learn that dozens (or more) people we know lost their homes and/or their place of work. There were countless stories about people we know and don’t know, running for their lives, as I’m sure everyone read about in the news.  There was one guy we knew from the yacht club who was missing and confirmed dead, weeks later.  The loss of life, pets, people’s homes, historic buildings, wonderful waterfront restaurants, art galleries, cool shops, the harbor, and boats is just gut-wrenching to think of.

I spent the next 2 weeks scouring the news, looking for updates, and worrying about where people would live. We donated and helped raise some money for some friends there. Eventually, I had to cut back on the news searching and get on with life. Heading north again and planning our fall trip really helped take my mind off of it.

Until now I have just been at a loss for words.  I have not wanted to write about how great my life is, while so many people I know are suffering (At this point many are still homeless or jobless). The need to wrap up my posting for the year is the only reason I am writing. It is nice to review all of the fun times. I am not sure what I think of 808 Day, at this point…..


I am updating this post on New Year’s Day, as I just recalled a highlight of the summer.  One morning, I was in the outhouse at the northern outpost. I looked out the screened window and saw a bear. It was roughly 2 feet away from me, with only the outhouse door between us. I  immediately gasped, which startled the bear. It quickly turned and bounded off into the woods. It was pretty small, so I assumed it was a cub and I was terrified that the mother was nearby. I did not have my phone with me. Dave was in the RV and the generator was running. I knew if I yelled, he would not hear me.  I stood, shaking in the outhouse for about 15 minutes and finally hurried back to the RV.

Later, I did some research about black bears. Based on the bear’s size and the time of year, it was likely a juvenile that had just started off on its own. We have been aware that there are bears in the area. They are likely in the area because of all of the orchards. Our neighbors had to get rid of bird feeders because of a bear. Our friends nearby, in Benzonia had recently seen a bear near their house. We also saw a bear one morning, while riding our bikes on the Betsie Vally Trail. It was crossing Mollineaux Road, near Crystal Lake, its massive size covering an entire lane.

Dave saw a bobcat near the outhouse a few years ago. I saw what I think were juvenile bobcats a couple of years ago. I no longer ever go to the outhouse without my phone!

Leelenau State Park, Northport, Leland and Frankfort

We continued the rest of summer, alternating time between up north and home every 7 – 10 days.

We went to Leelenau State Park for some car/tent camping. We had a beautiful lake front site. We enjoyed time in Northport, first at a microbrewery, then at a restaurant for great tacos. It’s a very cool town. We hiked a beautiful trail in the park, on our way out the next day.  On the way home we stopped at Leland where we went to the beach to look for “Leland Blue” stones. We had no luck but enjoyed walking around historic Fishtown and had a great lunch.

In Frankfort we rode our bikes or hiked nearly every day. We spent time time at our favorite beaches and went to our favorite microbreweries. We met up with several sets of friends in the area. We listened to live music in Beulah, Traverse City, Benzonia and Frankfort and ate at our favorite Mexican Restaurant. I spent time identifying birds, trees and butterfies and picking wild raspberries.

Our last night at our Northern Outpost was September 2. It was our 44th night in northern Michigan, this year, and 97th night camping since we headed south on March 23. No, we were not finished yet! We headed home to do our annual RV maintenance and prep for our fall trip to Finger Lakes, NY and Shenandoah National Park.

Our deluxe, top-of-the-line outhouse at the northern outpost.  The bear was right at the “porch” and appeared to be coming closer. (The angled board in back and trench on the side direct rain and snow away from it.)
I might as well take this opportunity to share some details, as we are both quite proud of this structure. Dave designed and pre-built most of it in our garage downstate. I made the sign and designed the closeable window with screen – perfect for light, ventilation, keeping the flies out and for wildlife viewing!
View from inside the outhouse. We often see Indigo Buntings, as they like to nest in the area.
The structure is quite roomy, so we can use it for tool and lawnmower storage.
Slushie at our campsite at Leelanau State Park, Northport, MI
Slusie’s first time in a tent
Morning coffee on the beach, Leelanau State Park, Northport, MI
Grand Traverse Lighthouse, Leelanau State Park, Northport, MI
We hiked a beautiful trail in Lelenau State Park that led to this beach
View of the waterfall and Falling Waters Lodge from the docks in Fishtown, Leland, MI
You can’t go to Leland, MI without getting a gourmet sandwich at the Village Cheese Shanty in Fishtown, Leleand’s historic district.
Enjoying a Green Pepper, Onion, Spinach, Cucumber, Olive Spread, Tomato, Dill Havarti and Guacamole on pretzel bread sandwich in Fishtown. The cheese and spreads are phenomenal.
Campfire at the Northern Outpost.
Peanut butter s’mores!
This year we bought a 100 watt solar panel and new 100 ah AGM battery. We didn’t upgrade the converter, yet, so the battery only runs lights, the pump and the refrigerator. The panel keeps the battery charged. We no longer have to rely solely on the generator to charge it or to haul it back to the grid for charging.
There are butterfies gallore at the Northern Outpost. This American Admiral is checking out our stickers and taking a shade break on our RV.
The view from Arcadia Scenic Turnout, off of M22 in Arcadia, MI. It’s no wonder I love this area so much. One of my favorite memories as a kid, was spending a week at Camp Arcadia with my church confirmation class (I had known many of the kids since kindergarten)
Checking out the Bassmaster fishing tournament at the park near our house in SE Michigan
This cabin was built in 1932 and is now ownd by the National Park Service. It is located on one of our new favorite trails in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
Point Betsie Lighthouse, Frankfort, MI. We have been there countless times, yet I still feel the need to take photos every time I go.
Morning walk on Elberta Beach, Elberta, MI
Hiking Platte Plains Trail at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Upper Herring Lake near Frankfort
One of many hiking trails through the woods near Frankfort
The fishing dock on Betsie Bay in downtown Frankfort
View of Frankfort Michigan, across Betsie Bay. We had been out watching the sunset and stopped at the Elberta Waterfront Park to take a look. When I took this, I was remembering the view of Front Street in Lahaina, from near the old public library. I was thinking I should seer this image into my memory because at any moment it or I could be gone.


View of Front Street from near the old library in Lahaina. Gone forever, but forever in our hearts.