Posted in: Hiking, National Park, National Parks

Sleeping Bear Dunes: Sleeping Bear Point Trail

We picked the Sleeping Bear Point Trail to hike in the park. It was listed as a moderate trail, but less strenuous than the Dune Hill Climb. It was a 2.8 mile trail loop. We did the trail clockwise, as the app stated that it was a little easier that way.

We started in a grassy forest type of area. I would wear long socks or stay in the middle of the trail, as there was poison ivy along most of that part of the trail.

We did see some great views of the water along the hike. One of the reasons we picked this trail was the “ghost forest”. The dunes shift and over time the trees that become covered in sand will die. There were a handful of trees, but not what I would think of a forest.

Hiking on sand is no joke! We were all pretty tired at the end, but the kids of course had a lot more energy. If you take this hike, bring water, a hat, and sunscreen. Once you leave the tree area, there is no shade.

Posted in: Animal Sightings, Hiking, National Park, National Parks, Sightseeing

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

This was the last National Park on our current route. The name of the park seems sweet, but it is a horribly sad tale. I read two different versions. A mother and her cubs are forced to flee from wildfire into the Lake and have to swim to the other side. The cubs do not make it. The mother bear lays down waiting for her cubs. The other version is that there was a food shortage, and to keep from starving they had to cross the lake. The cubs do not make it. The two small islands pop up as monuments for the cubs.

The main visitor center, Phillip A Hart Visitor Center, was located in Empire, Michigan. It was not in the park. The park boundaries are actually made of 3 sections of land with towns in between and 2 islands. We drove around the park in a few locations, but only saw a ticket/pass booth at the Dune Climb parking lot.

On our first visit, we drove the Pierce Stocking Scenic Dr. I’m sure it had wonderful views, but all we could see was fog! (It hadn’t been foggy at our campground, about 30 minutes away). There was a small covered bridge that was fun to see.

There were several hiking and bike trails in the park, along with beach areas.

Posted in: Hiking, National Park, National Parks, Sightseeing

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

During our first stay back in Ohio in a year, we stayed up north near Cleveland. We visited the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. After the scenic train ride, we drove around for a little bit and stopped at the Boston Mill Visitor Center. This was a nice Visitor Center and the boys picked up their Junior Ranger books.

Maps via Google and NPS

Cuyahoga Valley is a little bit weird in its shape. It is a long, narrow park that exists around private property and state parks.

Cuyahoga NP Signs
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We went to the Brandywine Falls and managed to find a parking spot in the lot. We walked the boardwalk to the Falls. It was a beautiful area and you could see the remains of a small power plant. It was mostly just the foundations, but still neat to read about.

Brandwine and Champion Electric Signs
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It started to rain on us, so we head back home.

DETAILS:*

  • TICKETS: Free. Some activities have a fee. COVID Restrictions: masks required if not vaccinated
  • HOURS: Open daily
  • PARKING: Yes
  • BATHROOM: Yes
  • TIME RECOMMENDED: 1-3 hours
  • *Details correct at the time of posting, but please double check before you go.
Posted in: Museums & Tours, National Park, National Parks, Sightseeing

Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site (Buffalo, New York)

Hey guys, this is another blog post with Will! I am here today to talk about something I love…HISTORY! Today we are going to be talking about the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site, where President Roosevelt was sworn in as president. You have to make a reservation for the site because of Covid, but if you are fine with that I would recommend going. The front of the building is much like it was except with the addition of a modern stairway so that guests don’t ruin the old stairway of the house. The house originally belonged to Roosevelt’s friend who was living in Buffalo at the time. The entrance to the building is where the National Park Service set up their office and reception area.

To start off the tour they play a little introduction with an actor playing Theodore Roosevelt. After that you are allowed to enter the room to the left which is an exhibit for the “Rainbow City”. This is an exhibit on the Pan-American Exposition featuring Edison’s light bulbs, the finished monograph and other wonders of the modern world. See how Americans have welcomed immigrants into the workforce, and how we have tamed the natives of these lands. See our power over nature, and visit the moon in our exhibit: Visit the Moon! Sadly when President Mckinley visited our great city it would be for the last time. While talking to the crowds of onlookers an anarchist shot our fair president. Vice-President Roosevelt has left the city after being told that the President would live bringing his family into the wilds to explore. Sadly I bring news that our president has died. Roosevelt is hurrying back to Buffalo to mourn with the rest of the city over the president’s death, but he is still somewhere in the wild back roads of America.

This is the spiel of the guide as he walks us through the exhibits and shows us several pictures and videos that have been gathered by the park service. Next we walk through a narrow corridor to the right of the entrance to the room, and come into the main part of the house. To the left is the dining room where Roosevelt dined with his friend’s family, and up ahead is the front door. To the left of the front door is a room that our guide brings us to, but first we must go to the room on the right. This room features the problems that Roosevelt faced as the new president, such as what to do with the military, how to face racism, and the problems of the working class. Then we watch a short video on president Roosevelt’s inauguration, or swearing in, as president. Then we get to walk in to the room on the left which is where all of the action really happened. This is the recreation of the room that Roosevelt was sworn in as president. There are even some original pieces such as the book shelf in the right hand corner of the room which was originally going to be thrown in the garbage, but was saved by the neighbors. They also have books from before the 1900’s that might have been featured in this room. Sadly, there are no photographs of the inauguration as Roosevelt wanted the attention to be more on McKinley’s death rather than the new president.

Next the guide led us up the steps and through a barren room with a fireplace, and through another room decorated as a parlor. Next we are led briefly through another corridor filled with signs, which I wish we could read, but our guide had other ideas. Lastly, we enter an interactive room where we can pretend to be president and make decisions and see what Roosevelt did instead. We also got our pictures taken in the president’s chair, and got it sent to our emails.

After the tour we got our National Park passport stamps, and left. Thank you guys for reading my blog and make sure to check out our YouTube videos where we have a lot of good content. See you guys next time!

DETAILS:*

  • TICKETS: $12/adults, $7/child. Included in the America the Beautiful pass. COVID Restrictions: masks required, prepay/timed entrance (does require a $1 fee if you are an America the Beautiful pass holder)
  • HOURS: W-F (10:30am-3:30pm, tour every hour), S-U (11:30am-3:30pm, tour every hour)
  • PARKING: Yes
  • BATHROOM: Yes
  • TIME RECOMMENDED: 1 hour
  • *Details correct at the time of posting, but please double check before you go.
Posted in: Hiking, Museums & Tours, National Park, National Parks, Sightseeing

Saint-Gaudens National Historical Site

Will and I explored the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site. This park was located across the river in New Hampshire, but was only about a half hour drive from our campground in Vermont.

Saint-Gaudens was a sculptor and the grounds contained information about his pieces and life. The house was closed, but the other buildings were open. I would not recommend this one for younger kids, as it was a lot of reading and not really interactive. There were some trails, including the Ravine Trail (which the Ranger told us was really more of a moderate path). However, since there was a heat advisory out (92℉), we did not do that trail.

The park also had a phone audio tour available, which was a nice feature to learn a little more about the pieces shown. Will completed the Junior Ranger program there, and they had a neat looking badge.

DETAILS:*

  • TICKETS: $10/adults, children 15 and under free. Can use America The Beautiful Pass. COVID Restrictions: masks required, House closed
  • HOURS: May 29-October 31 (9am-4pm)
  • PARKING: Yes
  • BATHROOM: Yes
  • TIME RECOMMENDED: 1-3 hours
  • *Details correct at the time of posting, but please double check before you go.
Posted in: Animal Sightings, National Park, National Parks

Driving The Park Loop Road in Acadia National Park

Acadia has a great Park Loop Road that shows you some of the amazing views in the park. There are several spots for pull-offs along the way for views and trailheads. We somehow turned off of the Park Loop at an intersection and had to find our way back in from one of the little towns. Cell phone signal is very spotty around the park, so get your GPS started while you have a good signal. (NOTE: You can get your park pass at the Hulls Visitor Center, Jordan Pond House, or there is a ticket booth area on the Loop.)

We saw wild turkeys, the water hitting the cliff areas, and lots of lakes and ponds. We stopped at Sand Beach and walked down to see it. It was a beautiful area with a sandy beach. Most of the beaches in Acadia are rocky, but this one had a nice fine sand.

Posted in: Museums & Tours, National Park, National Parks, School, Sightseeing

Exploring New Bedford, Massachusetts

We ended our stay in Massachusetts by going to New Bedford to see the Whaling Museum. (Questions we got: What about Nantucket and Boston? My sister lived in Boston for awhile and we had visited her and explored the city. The main goal of the trip was to see new things. Ben really wanted Nantucket, but the ferry itself was $300, plus whatever we would spend in town.)

New Bedford is a fishing town. They were big in the whaling industry and now do a lot of commerce in scallops.

We managed to find parking on the street (it looks like it is all resident pass or pay parking) near the New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park. The Visitor Center was closed and only had a table open to get a map and Junior Ranger material. (The boys did not get their badges yet because the Visitor Center closed by the time we were done walking around. The ranger told us we could mail the booklets in to get the badges.) The National Park Service museum had a lot of outdoor signs around the town. The map had a nice outline of where the park’s boundaries were.

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We stopped at the other New Bedford Whaling Museum. This one was not part of the National Park Service and had paid admission. However, when we went to check it out, they told us the lobby was free to look around. The lobby had skeletons of different whales and some really neat information. The one skeleton has a piece of tubing attached to the skull and it leads to a beaker. It has been collection oil for 10 years!

click to enlarge
click to enlarge

Next, we headed down to the Fishing Heritage Center. It was also free the day we were there. It ended up being surprisingly good! It was very interactive with a movie, multiple buttons to push to hear different sounds and fishing stories. There was even a fishing bucket the kids could pull up. It gave a nice detailed history of fishing, especially in the New Bedford region. It was really well done and everyone enjoyed it.

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click to enlarge

The town was pretty cute. However, I would stay near the museums. The farther out of the touristy area we got, it got to be a rougher part of town.

Posted in: National Park, National Parks, Sightseeing

Salem, Massachusetts

We’ve made it to Massachusetts! We have a few things we wanted to see while we were here. We had already been to Boston, since my sister lived there for awhile. However, Salem was on our list of places we wanted to see and it was about 1.75 hours from our campground. It has been on our bucket list for awhile, so we took the trip with my parents who were visiting us.

Salem wasn’t quite what we thought it would be. It was very new, very modern, with only a few historic houses. The The houses under the National Park Service were not open, but the House Of Seven Gables was (had to purchase tickets ahead of time online). The National Park Service had two Visitor Centers for the Salem Maritime National Historic Site. The boys got a Junior Ranger badge, although the booklets/pamphlets were not available since they were still building some of the exhibits needed to work on the books.

We did get to see the Friendship of Salem ship and walk onto the deck. We were not allowed underneath though (COVID). We walked down and saw the lighthouse as well.

Sights around Salem

We grabbed lunch at Brodie’s Seaport. I had the chicken pecan salad, which was delicious.

Physical menu on a board outside had pricing, whereas the scan by phone QR code menu did not

I’m glad we went, since it was on our list of cities we wanted to see, but I would not go back again.

Posted in: National Park, National Parks, Sightseeing

New York City: Walking Around The City

Once we got off the ferry at the Brookfield terminal, we walked around New York City to see some of the sites before our tour bus was due down at Battery Park.

We stopped by the 9/11 memorial. The area was gated off and the museum wasn’t open yet for the day. We could still see the fountains/pools that were made in the footprints of the towers. Ben and I both remember hearing the live broadcasts over the radio. The boys have learned about it in school, but it is something else to see it in person.

We walked to see Wall Street and the Charging Bull statue. There was only 1 other person there, so we didn’t have to wait in line long at all. I will say the backside of the bull had some very shiny parts.

We made our way down to Battery Park and got to see the Statue of Liberty! Ben and I saw it on the ferry coming in (the boys had fallen asleep), but we still enjoyed seeing it. We did not take the ferry over to the Statue of Liberty island, as you could not walk up to the crown (COVID restrictions). NOTE: Currently, the ferry is only available from the New York side at Battery Park. The New Jersey terminal should open May 29.

Will liked seeing Castle Clinton, although it seems like this battery is now used mostly for tickets to the Statue of Liberty. There were not a lot of informational signs available, as the only two we saw were hidden behind construction items. It looks like they are doing renovations. The restrooms were open, which were a big plus as many others were closed (COVID).

Battery Park had some nice green space and a fun looking carousel (Seaglass Carousel). There was a Starbucks across the street, so we got a coffee and a bagel to enjoy while we waited for our bus tour.

Later in the day, we visited Times Square and explored the M&M Store. Nick found a pressed penny machine and added two new ones to his collection. Will got a large warm pretzel from a street food vendor. The Krispy Kreme had the Hot Now light on, so we stopped in to get a warm donut. There was a little bit of a line, but it moved pretty fast. We got to see the donuts getting glazed on the conveyor belt. There was one cool looking donut, The Big Apple, but it was $11.99! The kids loved being able to finally try the hot glazed donuts (it only took us 10 months to have the right timing!).

At the end of the day, we had over 25,300 steps from walking. We were all exhausted, tired, and sore. The city was incredibly empty compared to what it used to be. It did get a little busier in the afternoon, but was still really down from what the city was pre-COVID. It did make for easier sightseeing though.

Posted in: Campground Review, National Parks, Sightseeing

Timothy Lake South RV: Campground Review

Have you ever heard of East Stroudsburg in Pennsylvania? We hadn’t either! We stayed in Timothy Lake South RV Campground in East Stroudsburg, in the Poconos.

The campground offered quite a few pull-throughs and some back-ins. The back-in sites seemed mostly along the edges of the campground. Many of the pull-throughs were very long. We could have stayed hooked up to the truck it was so long. They were a little on the narrow side though. There were plenty of trees throughout the campground, so once the trees have all their leaves, I’m sure it will be quite shaded.

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The campground had a laundry room and office/store. However, the store was closed for COVID. You could walk up to the check-in window to buy ice ($3/bag) and firewood. The campground had a sister site, Timothy Lake North, whose amenities you could also use (per the website, we did not go).

Laundry was $2.00 for washers (or $2.25 for super wash) and $1.75 for dryers. The laundry room was limited to 1 person at a time and you had to check out the key from the check-in window. Reservations were not accepted. They did not have quarters/change machine, although the machines were quarter run.

Our Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile were spotty around the campground and the mountain areas. We ended up paying for the campgrounds WiFi for the week to make sure we could connect for work and school. Even their internet was spotty at times. It was also not a very fast internet.

The campground was 12 minutes from Super Foodtown grocery store and 16 minutes from Price Chopper grocery store. There were several restaurants within a 20 minute drive. The Delaware Water Gap was also close (12 minutes to a close trail or 25-30 minutes to the hike we went on).

Getting There: I would take it slow on these roads. The roads are pretty narrow to fit two cars (especially one being a truck and RV) around some of the turns. The roads are hilly and twisty as well.

If you enjoy quiet with no electronics and lots of nature and hiking, you may enjoy this location. However, everything was closed in the campground (not including the laundry room) and there was just not a lot of things to do besides hiking (or kayaking if you had your own). We would not stay here again. If things were open, maybe it would have been a different experience.

SUMMARY OF CAMPGROUND:

Our rating: 2 out of 5 hitches

Cell Phone Reception: AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile (all of our connections were slow/spotty depending on where we were in the park)

Laundry: Yes

Bathrooms/Showers: Yes

RV Sites: Pull-through and Back-in (grass)

Pop Up Tents/Gazebos/Outdoor Rugs On-Site: Yes

Amenities: picnic table/fire pit/grill at sites, playground, pool (closed for season while we were there), shuffleboard. (Paid for cable and WiFi)

Cabins: Yes

Tent Camping: No (sister site Timothy Lake North does)

Full Hook-ups: Yes

            Amps: 20/30/50

Pool: Yes

Food On-Site: No

Camp Store: Yes, closed due to COVID

WiFi: No free WiFi, Paid WiFi (a little slow, not what I would call high-speed internet)

Accepts Mail: No

Fishing: No