Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Year of the RoadAbode Crew ~ 2014

Happy New Year!

Here's a short video of the times and places the RoadAbode Crew were out and about in 2014.

It's been a great year of traveling and sharing time with family and friends. We hope that your new year be as much fun (or more) as we had in 2014!
Some of our travels in 2014 we did without RoadAbode this year. Conversely, some of our RoadAbode Trips didn't even get pictures taken.

This year, we were fortunate to take a holiday for a few days in Disney, and then a week-long Disney Cruise to the Western Caribbean. As much as we love RoadAbode, if you have the opportunity to cruise - GO! Besides visiting new warm places in winter months that we could not go with RoadAbode anyway, it's nice to be pampered with awesome food and great service.

Here are some of the places and things we did including RoadAbode:

March Trip to Lancaster, Pennsylvania
April in Aberdeen, Maryland
May in Kutztown, Pennsylvania
June in Central Pennsylvania
July in New Holland, Pennsylvania
July "Guys Weekend" in Havre de Grace, Maryland
August at Hickory Run State Park Poconos, Pennsylvania
September at Hershey and the RV Show in Pennsylvania
Supporting the October Hay Ride Merrymead Farms, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania
Hosting the Hourly America Crew
November Wnterizing RoadAbode in Lancaster, Pennsylvania

If you'd like to know more about any places we traveled, we'd love to share! Just comment below, or use our contact form on the sidebar. Can't wait to see where RoadAbode will take us in 2015! Thanks for checking in!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from the RoadAbode Crew!

Merry Christmas from the RoadAbode Crew
Though RoadAbode is tucked all snug in her bed, with her Crew dreaming of our next destination in our heads, we wanted to wish you all a Christmas and Holidays full with glee, and a New Year with plenty of cool travels in your own RV!
This time of year we dream of where we'll be going as a family, but also how we will be travelling once our girls are done with school and out of the nest. So We'll leave you this week with the lyrics I thought up to the tune of :"Winter Wonderland" Peace and Joy to you this season!

Snowbirding is so Grand

Palm trees sway, can you see ‘em?
Not thinking, ‘bout carpe-diem,
Oh the Sun’s out today,
Maybe horseshoes I’ll play,
Dreaming of Snowbirding is so Grand!.
Got away, from Northern cold,
There I’m warm, not feeling old,
We'd hit the Clubhouse tonight,
Potluck dinner our delight,
Dreaming of Snowbirding is so Grand!
Point the RV toward a South State,
Somewhere where we won’t frost our toes,
Stopping somewhere with a better tax rate,
And we won't have to wear our winter clothes.
Once we’re there, we’ll retire,
Drinking wine, by campfire,
We’ll fish off the dock,
On the beach we will walk,
Dreaming of Snowbirding is so Grand!
In the campground we’ll find other ‘Birders,
We’ll compare notes where we've been,
We’ll have fun with those other ‘Birders,
As we slather suntan lotion on our skin
Where it’s warm, we're so thrilled,
Not shoveling snow, or getting chilled,
Lounge and read a good book,
On a Kindle or Nook,
Dreaming of Snowbirding is so Grand!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

RoadAbode ~ RV RoadTripping ~ Gettysburg, Knoebels, & Jonestown Pennsylvania

An Aeriall View of Knoebels Amusment Park, Elysburg, PA
An Aerial View of Knoebels Amusement Park, Elysburg, PA
For the past ten years, the RoadAbode Crew has taken a family trip in June. For our family it's a great way to celebrate the end of the school year and really get's us into our "summer groove". This year's trip we wanted to stay closer to home and do a tour of Central Pennsylvania. There are plenty of great spots to hit, but we only have ten days to fit the trip into.After a few discussions  (and concessions by me to cut back how many places to visit) the RoadAbode Crew finally decided on our destinations for this year. We've never been to Gettysburg Battlefield, so we wanted to check out the history and what else the area had to offer. We decided to check in on an old family favorite, Knoebel's Amusement Park, with a short visit into the abandoned town of Centralia, and finally head to a campground outside Fort Indiantown Gap Pennsylvania and spend a few days relaxing creek side at Jonestown KOA

Town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Regiment Cannon on Battlefield at Gettysburg
Pennsylvania Regiment Cannon on Battlefield at Gettysburg 
The Battle of Gettysburg took three days in the heat of July 1863. Thinking you can experience and learn about this pivotal battle or tour the area in the same time just can't be done. 
There are plenty of options to camp in the Gettysburg area. When we learned that we could stay next to a creek at Gettysburg Campground we decided to stay there. The girls love searching for crawdads fish and other creatures when we relax at our campsite. The campground has over 260 sites, including those for tent campers. Some of the sites do back up to Marsh Creek, Our site number was 52, and though we did back up to Marsh Creek, the bank at our particular campsite was steep and overgrown with underbrush, no easy access to the stream bank at all. If staying and you want creek access, we would suggest sites 54 through 58 and 235 thru 238. The campsites are all gravel, and all seem quite level. The amenities at the park are great, including a fully stocked store, clean restroom/shower facilities, and landscaping that was well kept. Though we didn't use the pool on this trip, looks like plenty of people were enjoying a dip. Another plus of this park is JR's RV repair shop right on the property. We could see that as being handy if you needed something repaired while vacationing in the area. Molly enjoyed the large dog walking area near the entrance to the campground. The campground is on the outskirts of the town of Gettysburg, but close to drive to the fields where the Northern and Southern armies engaged, and see historic farmhouses where the injured were taken to be treated.
Pennsylvania Monument at Gettysburg
State of Pennsylvania Monument
The Battle of Gettysburg lasted for three days in the heat of July in 1863, and has become known as the turning point of the American Civil War, and inspired Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. The fierce battle and loss of life changed how future wars the United States would be involved in were fought.
On this trip, I'd be correct in saying we discovered our girls are not civil war buffs. As we toured, places I would have stayed and learned more about the reason and story behind monuments, they were ready to run to the next item on our list. I had downloaded some really well done podcast audio tours and maps of the various important battle areas. Though really interesting to me, the podcasts did not hold the girls interest. Nothing wrong with the podcasts, they are informative and interesting stories, just not something that 20something and teen girls wanted to sit still for. We did stop at the Pennsylvania Monument. The State of Pennsylvania Monument is the largest monument on the Gettysburg battlefield.  On top is a statue of Winged Victory which stand on top of the dome; its metal came from a melted down Civil War cannon. Just thestatue is over 7000 pounds. The girls climbed up the stairway to the roof to glimpse beautiful views of the battlefield and surrounding land. 
Another area the girls did find interesting was the Cyclorama found in the Gettysburg Museum and Visitors Center, which is administered and run by the National Park Service. I don't want to give away spoilers, but I felt intrigued by both the portrayal of the battle, and the background history of the  Gettysburg Cyclorama. Talking back at our campsite, we felt the Museum and Visitors Center were the highlights for our Gettysburg portion of our RoadTrip. Take the time, and wander through the museum. Learn more about the individual stories of the young men on both sides of this conflict that gave their lives fighting for what they believed was right.
Devil's Den as seen from Little Round Top
Devil's Den as seen from Little Round Top
Interest of individual locations of engagement will vary by what state you are from, or what story catches you. One storied battle area that I personally found interesting was Devil's Den. The stage for this battle was set by an outcropping of large boulders located in a valley facing Little Round Top. Confederate sharpshooters took cover among the crevices and in between the large rocks. Though only a few men, they succeeded in holding their ground while picking off Union artillerymen and officers. Having read about this particular battle, I was interested to see and walk the topography of the site. To understand  how this Confederate standoff occurred, it really helped to visit this particular site. We saw that kds love to climb the boulders of Devil's Den and of Little Round Top, but make sure if your do, they are supervised and make good choices. Even though run by the National Park Service, you need to be cautious as terrain can be uneven with steep slopes and drop-offs. It's worth the trip - even if you are not into the history of the civil war, to understand what these men went through can be stirring. For some visitors, perhaps the spectacular views of the countryside from Little Round Top are worth the visit.
When roadtripping in RoadAbode , I always enjoy sampling some local fare. Since this trip was closer to home, we already are familiar with Philadelphia scrapple and cheese steaks, or shoo-fly pie and sweet & sour chow-chow of Lancaster. Though I had read about the historical staples for both the North and South, I didn't see any hardtack or salt pork for sale, which were the two most common foods provided to Civil War soldiers on both sides of the battle. Probably not something I'd want to eat a lot of, but I'm always up for a new taste! Instead we enjoyed some regular fare. Tommy's Pizza, was our favorite! I've caught conversations of the girls still talking about the hand-formed dough - crisp yet still soft on the interior; and the fresh toppings we had on our vegetable pizza. It was the first pizzeria we've been too that the wanted to revisit the next day for more of the same. If the girls come back to Gettysburg, part of the reason will be fror Tommy's Pizza. General Pickett’s Buffet in the "all you can eat" style of dining was great after a day touring out in the battlefields, This eatery offers a variety of standard buffet fare, with plenty of choices so everyone can find something they like. It's not fine dining, but sure was tasty and filling. General Pickett's also has a gift shop and "Battle Theater". Though we did not take time to visit this attraction, it sounded interesting, featuring a miniature diorama, which depicts scenes from the famous battle. The main attraction is a 30-minute sound and color presentation that describes battle times and places, army advance and retreat paths and a complete animation of the three days of battle. Both Tommy's Pizza and General Pickett's Buffet are on Steinwehr Avenue (Business Route 15).
After dinner, we strolled along Steinwehr Avenue past quite an array of touristy shops, bed and breakfasts, and various fooderies. There are plenty of tours of the battlefield and surround area to chose here, from tours by dressed re-enactors to nighttime ghost tours, and tours by horse-drawn carriage or air conditioned coach. One unique aspect of the tours of Gettysburg is the "Association of Licensed Battle Guides" The battle guides association is close to 100 years old. Guides need to pass a certification process sanctioned by the US Government. Today, more than one hundred Association guides conduct thousands of tours for visitors around Gettysburg and other battlefields of the Civil War each year. For the RoadAbode Crew, all this would have been lost money on our uninterested girls. Next Time I'll maybe go without them! I really enjoyed learning about the history of Gettysburg.
Perhaps when I visit Gettysburg again, I'll make it an awesome "Guys Trip". Besides the over 1300 monuments to the soldier on both sides of the conflict, there are plenty of attractions to take part in. Museums, Soldiers National Cemetery, theaters, wineries, a Cidery, brew pubs, and more. Looking forward to going back!
To research more and make a trip to Gettysburg of your own, check these links:

Knoebels Amusement Park, Elysburg, Pennsylvania

Knoebels has been America's largest free admission park for over 85 years of operation. Sandwiched  between mountains in a wooded grove straddling Columbia and Northumberland Counties, the award winning amusement park has been highly rated for it's rides and food. The park originally started as a place to picnic and swim in the waters of Roaring Creek which run through the grove. In those first years the Knoebels family added a carousel and a pool of filtered water - Crystal Pool - and the amusement park was born from there. 
Knoebels Tilt-a-Whirl
Knoebels Tilt-a-Whirl
The RoadAbode Crew love Knoebels for it's family friendly layout and the no entry fee policy. Parking is even free. It's great to bring along grandparents who don't "DO" the rides anymore, but still want to enjoy watching the kids have fun. Also, it's wonderful that Knoebels has great rides for all, from toddlers to teenagers. There are size and age appropriate versions of older kids rides for wee ones to get thrilled on. Some of the rides have been here for decades, yet are well maintained and lovingly cared for. The Main Carousel (one of two traditional carousels in the park) is a "I gotta do that" ride. With moving and stationary horses, and even comfortabe benches, the ride is appropriate for everyone. Sit on the outer horses for a chance to grasp the brass ring! If you missed it, don't worry, you can buy an engraved keepsake at the Carousel Museum.Our girls love coming back year after year for old favorites, from bumper cars, Italian Trapeze, two miniature steam engines, to the motorboat ride they can steer through part of the park. Not all the rides are "old school" and Knoebels is known by Roller Coaster enthusiasts for the Twister, Phoenix, and Flying Turns Coasters.  Also announce is the building of another massive coaster to be called Impulse. Other favorites for youngsters and oldsters alike are the shows featuring bands, singing groups, or other talent. You can even learn something in museums of carousel horses, Knoebels history, and of coal mining. There are plenty of places to sit on a bench in the shade and take in some people watching and the menagerie passing by.
Enjoying the Parachute Ride at Knoebels
Enjoying the Parachute Ride at Knoebels
What's great about Knoebels for RVers are their two campgrounds; one right next to the amusement park and one a short shuttle or car ride away . The campground next to the park offers limited electrical connections and water fill connections in each loop or section. For those really into roller coasters, there are even campsites right next to the Twister. Lake Glory Campground offers full hookups for each site. Both Campgrounds offer well stocked camp stores and cabins for those friends you invited without a tent or RV. We have stayed at both campgrounds, and though we like having the ability to walk right into the amusement park from our campsite, we prefer the full hookups at Lake Glory. The Lake Glory campsites are more of a wooded setting,  and feel more spacious. It's nice after being at the park all day and coming back to a quieter setting.
antique cars at Knoebels
Our girls & friends riding one of the antique cars at Knoebels
If you leave Knobels without trying the food in the amusement park, you've missed half the experience. Local birch beer, and favorites like pierogies, tri-taters and the fresh hot waffle ice-cream sandwich are just a small sampling of the home-cooked goodness that awaits at the amusement park. There are choices to grab wherever you are throughout the park, and even a sit down full service diner. The International Food Court near the Phoenix roller coaster features tastes from around the world. Knoebels has been the Golden Ticket winner for food quality and value for over the past 10 years They were just edged out in 2014 by Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The food at Knoebels is one reason I'm always up for a trip there!
What our family loves about Knoebels are the rides, the food and the overall relaxing fun. It's a family-friendly place, and a good value. It's a unique piece of Americana that we recommend you visit!
Other attractions near Elysburg include the Knoebels Golf Course, a beautiful natural area called Weiser State Forest, and the Pioneer Tunnel Coal Mining Tour.
Warning Sign at Centralia, PennsylvaniaOur Side Trip ~ Centralia, Pennsylvania
 Not a far drive from Knoebels is the town of Centralia. Not officially an attraction, it is infamous as the town that is burning underground since 1962. This is "coal country" and the hills here have a rich history of miining. I had previously visited Centralia by myself a few years back, and now that the girls are a bit older, wanted them to see this town that has become equal parts legend, truth, and folklore. I drove the girls around the grid pattern of streets with no homes, just plots with overgrown trees, sidewalks, street signs, and fire hydrants. We walked together and I showed them fissures in the ground near the dump where the underground fire started. Wisps of smoke and gases still rose up and you could feel heat coming from deep within the ground, still 50 years later. There are far less warning signs than I remember. What are left still remind of the hazards of noxious gases and possibilities of cave ins.. We also hiked down the closed section of Route 61, with it's deep cracks from the underground fire and surface covered heavily with graffiti . Must be a right of passage when graduating high school to tag the road with your name or other symbol. There are fewer then ten residents living in the area, and we continually saw the curious stop, get out, take a few selfies with smartphones, and move on. It's curiously sad and eerie at the same time. If driving to the Centralia area with your motorhome or trailer in tow, know that the area is mountainous and there are some steep and long inclines to travel up AND down.
For more information on Knoebels, and other area attractions, Check out:

Jonestown KOA, Jonestown, Pennsylvania 

Jonestown is not a mecca for tourists. It doesn't have tons of award winning restaurants, or must do attractions by the handful. Even the State Park is not on a list of biggest or best. For the RoadAbode Crew, that is fine by us. This small town community may be a little off everyone's radar - and is exactly what we are looking for to just put up our feet and relax toward the end of our week. Jonestown KOA, formerly named Lickdale Campground, is a medium-sized campground with great amenities. The campstore also operates as a local Ice Creamery and convenience store. Want a broasted chicken, or sandwich along with that pack of firewood? They've got you covered. (and they can deliver too!) Whenever we go, we book one of the "pull up" stream-side campsites. Not exactly a pull-thru, as you are parallel between the road and the Swatara Creek. Swatara is also the name of the State Park that Jonestown KOA is linked to via the local trail system. The campsites along the "Swattie", as the creek is called locally, have a concrete pad, and steps leading down to the water. The waters of the creek by these campsites can move pretty well, but unless rain swollen, are easily waded in. The girls have a blast (and me too!) trying to catch crawdads, fish, and other creatures found there. Jonestown KOA also acts as a local water-sports outfitter, so you can rent canoes, kayaks and tubes to go for a float. The campground will even transport you a mile or two upstream, and you can float back to your campsite.
Helicopters on display at  Fort Indian Town Gap
Helicopters on display at  Fort Indian Town Gap
If you don't want to just relax at your campsite or float the Swattie, there are great things to do close by, or within a 30 minute drive. The Indian Town Gap Military base and the VA National Cemetery are just up Fisher Avenue from the Campground. Though we haven't figured out how to tour any of the facility, there's plenty of military hardware on display. Helicopters, transport planes, jets, and tanks are on display to check out. Most have signage relating to their history or what engagements they were a part of.
If you are into motorsports, then check out the Friday night excitement happening at Linda's Speedway. Every Friday night this small dirt oval track turns local drivers and wrench turners into heroes going for the honor of hoisting the checkered flag on the victory lap. There's loud noise, a few spills, and plenty of sights to entertain as they race around in specialized vehicles. Jonestown KOA is even a driver sponsor. Most of the racing is with Sprinter and Slingshots classes, which to the untrained eye (which would be me) look like radically souped up Go-Carts with wings. Check the schedule on Linda's website, because though the Sprinters are exciting, the Legends and Charger classes take the adventure up a notch. Legends remind me of 1940's coupes, while the chargers give off a distinctly mustang stock-car look. Whatever race you go to it's great fun, and the pricing won't break the budget. 
Shakedown BBQ near Jonestown KOA
Close to the Jonestown KOA there are plenty to chose from to relieve your hunger pangs, but for true country cooking, I have two places in mind. First, the Farmers Wife's Restaurant in Ono, PA is a great homey diner experience.The interior has exposed beams for an old barn style look, but all the food inside is fresh. We love hitting this eatery for breakfast. Huge piles of hotcakes, Belgian waffles, and eggs any way you want them. They's got plenty on the menu for lunch and dinner - one day we will eat those options as well. I'm pretty sure it will be just as tasty. Our other favorite looks like a Feed store in the middle of a corn field. But as their tag line says "Follow the Smoke" for some of the best barbecue I've ever had. Shakedown BBQ in Grantville, PA is THE place for pulled pork, beef brisket, baby back ribs and even turkey and sausage. The sauce is tangy, the meat tender, and the sides are just as tasty. The whole feel of the place is laid back and friendly. When waiting for your order it's interesting to see the mix of clientele. Burly guys on gleaming Harleys, sweatered dads pulling up in Beemers or Land Rovers, and college guys in whatever junker makes it up the driveway are all in line - and even talking together. Want world peace? Get everyone talking round some good food! Check Shakedowns website to see if a local blues or country rock band will be playing to double up on a great experience.
View from our Campsite at Jonestown KOA
View from our Campsite at Jonestown KOA
Jonestown KOA is pretty close to other attractions. In season they even have a shuttle to Hershey Park. Indian Echo Caverns is also a cool (literally) place to visit. But for us, they are just a bit far at 30 minutes or so away. If you are not from Pennsylvania and staying for a while, it's a good location to use as a "home base" to visit the Hershey area as a side trip.
Check out these links to plan your visit to Jonestown KOA and the surrounding area to make your own adventure:

We love visiting and exploring the Central Pennsylvania area. We know there's still more to experience, and we don't want to miss out! If you have a favorite place to visit, explore, or to grab some good food - we'd love to hear about it in the comments section below. Happy RVing!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

RoadAbode ~ RV RoadTripping & Exploring Watkins Glen, New York

Beautiful Rainbow Falls Watkins Glen, New York
Rainbow Falls, Watkins Glen Gorge
During the winter months, the RoadAbode Crew dream about where we want to go for our spring, summer and autumn outings.  Sometimes we'll remember and discuss the awesome places we've been. The RoadAbode Crew love to explore new places, but sometimes it's fun to revisit a place we had a blast at before. The Watkins Glen area in the Finger lakes region of New York is one that we really enjoy and can place in both categories. We've been back to the area multiple times, and each time we discover new things to do, along with revisiting the places we've enjoyed before.
Below, the RoadAbode Crew want to help you explore some of Watkins Glen's surrounding natural beauty, it's racing history, a little of the Wine Country of Seneca Lake and options to tempt your taste buds. The Corning Museum one town over and the campgrounds the RoadAbode Crew have personally enjoyed are also below to check out. If you have not visited Watkins Glen New York yet - put it on your "gotta visit" list!

The area now known as the Village of Watkins Glen was originally named in 1842 as Jefferson, but was renamed after Dr. Samuel Watkins. Doctor Watkins helped to create and build the community. After his death, the area was renamed to Watkins. The current name Watkins Glen was adopted in 1926, after the area became a popular tourist spot because of the beautiful cascading waters of the Gorge of Watkins Glen. The Village of Watkins Glen is nestled at the foot of Seneca Lake in Schuyler County in the Finger Lakes region It's also not far from Ithaca New York ~ home to Cornell University.

Exploring Watkins Glen's Natural Beauty

Watkins Glen Gorge
Waterfalls at Watkins Glen Gorge
The Watkins Glen Gorge is a wonderful hike that will definitely make memories. Past nineteen waterfalls, the trail follows the water carved gorge, allowing hikers to see the power of water against stone and step back in time.  The Gorge is not flat hiking terrain. There are many steps and even tunneled stairways through the rock as you make your way along the trail. Understand that and be ready to be awed on your journey. The trail passes above, beneath, and even behind some of the waterfalls. The creation of the trail itself, is amazing early 1900's engineering. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930's replaced dangerous wooded plank paths with the beautifully crafted stonework still standing today. Just think how workers created the trail as you travel along the constant incline,
 If leaving from a campsite at the State Park itself, the feeder trail from the campground will drop you to the South Rim trail, and from there the Mile Point Bridge will bring you just above the wonder of Spiral Gorge. Just remember as you hike past the beauty of stone carved out by water "What goes down must go up" and at some part of your journey you'll have to hike back to the top of the rim. Make sure to have a water bottle and stay hydrated. You can refill at the gift shop at the main entrance, or the snack shop at the upper entrance. And just a warning ~ the "Couch Stairs" trail back to the South Rim is steeper and longer than it looks! There's a reason you need a "couch" at the top! The RoadAbode Crew recommends starting at the Main Entrance, taking the shuttle to the top and enjoying the hike down. Even so, be mindful there are plenty of steps. Here is a NY State Parks map including descriptive highlights of Watkins Glen Gorge.
The Gorge and State Park are not the only place to enjoy natural beauty in the area. Take a stroll along Seneca Lake at Lakeside Park, or explore the Queen Catherine Marsh area and hike to the birding observation platform on Rock Cabin Road. On our guys trip we drove Rock Cabin Road - a small dirt road - be careful not to drift to close to it's edge) and sat at the bird observation platform for about 40 minutes. It overlooks the marsh, and was beautifully peaceful in it's solitude.
For more water-based fun, take a fishing charter out onto Seneca Lake. Trout, Bass, Perch, Pike and even Atlantic Salmon are found in the deep waters of Seneca Lake. More information on fishing can be found here.
Sightseeing excursions and dinner cruises  are a great way to get on the water and just relax. For more adventure try renting a boat to explore the lake; or kayak, and canoe the lake and inlet to the marsh. The Glen Harbor marina is located right next to Clute Park and Campground.
 Fun Fact: Because of it's depth and length, Seneca Lake is home to a sonar and submarine equipment testing facility run by the U.S. Navy. There have been sightings of submarines in the lake, though unconfirmed by the Navy.

Exploring Racing at Watkins Glen

Watkins Glen International
"The Guys" at "The Glen"
We love to watch NASCAR, and other road events, but have not attended one at Watkins Glen International ourselves. Watkins Glen has a rich history of racing, and on race weekends it does keep the town hopping! "The Glen" as it's called by racing enthusiasts annually hosts one of the nation's premier vintage events, the Zippo U.S. Vintage Grand Prix The featured highlight of the Festival is a tribute to the original Grand Prix races using the original 6.6 mile road course. The Watkins Glen Grand Prix Tribute is designed to recreate the ambiance of the 1948-52 Watkins Glen street races.  Initially, public roads in the village were used for the race course. In 1956 a permanent circuit for racing was built.
On our Guys Weekend, we happened to to go on the weekend of the NASCAR Sprint Series at the Racetrack. (as of 2013 named "Cheez-It 355 at The Glen")  Even though the town was full of race fans, we still had no problem getting around. We even took a ride up to the track and walked around. (the outside perimeter, tickets just to walk inside were $100!) We even saw a time trial accident on one of the Jumbo screens surrounding the track. In town, there were plenty of memorabilia vendors to check out, along with a few cars and parts on display. It seemed the diffrent race teams were "crusing" the main drag with tricked out semis the eveing before the race. A real party atmosphere. If you are into Motorsports, "The Glen" should be on your list to check out.

Exploring a Small Taste of Seneca Lake Wine Country

Seneca Lake has a perfect location for growing grapes and making wine. The hills slope and almost seem cradle the deep cold lake. The lake itself does not freeze - this is because of springs that feed it, and the circular current that is created deep within the lake. The unique macroclimate of the lake and the depth of soil together with how the soil percolates make the area excellent for grape production. There are over fifty wineries surrounding Seneca Lake, and at least thirty are on the Seneca Lake Wine Trail. We can only speak to a few we've visited near Watkins Glen, at the Southern end of the lake. But what we have sampled we have thoroughly enjoyed! We are relative "newbies" to wine tasting, and if you have not tried it - the Seneca Lake area would be the place to truly learn and experience good wine. The vintners we met were more than happy to help us understand the ins and outs of tasting and developing a "nose" for a good vintage. Really, it comes down to what you sense of smell and taste tell you! It's fun to pick out the unique "notes" that remind of other flavors that come out of the fermented grapes.  Here are the Wineries we visited on our "Guys Weekend":
Lakewood - The tasting room was close to Watkins Glen, and near the lake. Our tasting was fun and laid back, Our server was both knowledgable about the wines, and the local area - and had a great wit to boot. I really enjoyed their Riesling, but I do tend to like toward the sweet white side.
Castel Grisch - Both a restaurant and winery, I was disappointed that the long gravel road didn't lead to an actual castle, but my disappointment was quickly diminished by the informative and talkative ladies that help us sample not just wines, but cheese pairings as well! (There is a whole Artisan Cheese-making trail in the area that we have not tried yet!) At Castel Grisch we enjoyed the Taminette and Cayuga White wines. I wish I remember the cheese we purchased, but it was  creamy, herbed, and we  thoroughly enjoyed with more wine relaxing back at RoadAbode that the evening. We did not dine at the restaurant, but the German-Hungarian menu items looked tempting. Definitely want to return and do some more in-depth "sampling".
Red Newt Winery & Bistro is on the western side of Seneca Lake, We had wanted to stop by earlier for a special "Summer of Swine" Roasted Pig. The festivities were over by the time we got there. However our server was able to talk to the chef and procured pork sandwiches for us, and suggested a superb  red wine to pair with, making for a great dinner. Thanks to Bonnie our server for going the extra mile!
Finger Lakes Distilling
Surrounding the Southern portion of Seneca Lake we have visited are not just wineries, but great brew pubs and from our Guys RoadTrip - the favorite stop - Finger Lakes Distilling, also on the western side of Seneca Lake. Finger Lakes Distilling is the region's largest craft distillery. They use locally grown fruit and grains to produce their high quality, handmade spirits.
Ed, one of the guys along for the weekend is a real connoisseur of spirits, especially whiskies and gins. The woman who helped with our tasting was a fount of knowledge and actually owned a small bed and breakfast in the area. She and Ed had fun comparing notes while tasting and because of the rapport and her kindness, took us on an "unscheduled" tour for a behind the scenes look of the distilling process. Ed was impressed enough to buy a few bottles, and I as usual led with my sweet tooth and purchased their MapleJack liquer. It starts as an apple brandy, aged in oak barrels and then sweetened with local maple syrup. It's really good over ice cream. Yummy!

Exploring Watkins Glen with your taste buds

RoosterFish in Watkins Glen
Cool Little BrewPub
When we go RVing, one of the ways we enjoy relaxing is to go out for a meal. Watkins Glen area has plenty of opportunities to enjoy a breakfast, lunch or dinner out. Jerlando's Ristorante & Pizza Co offers Italian Specialties in a family friendly atmosphere. Next to Lafayette Park, Tobes is a great place to stop for breakfast and since you are on vacation, grab a freshly baked doughnut too! This place doubles as an ice-cream parlor after breakfast. If you like pancakes, omelets, and hash browns, this places serves them up with a  small town diner feel. If you are on the main drag and in the mood for craft beer, try The Wildflower Cafe, which is also home to the Roosterfish Brewpub. Their fare features local and fresh ingredients.
If you are in the mood for a margarita with your meal, head over to  Garcia's Mexican Restaurant. And for something a little more fancy, Seneca Harbor Station, a converted railway station, has beautiful views of Seneca Lake from either the restaurant, deck, or beach-side tables. a fancier dining experience, with pricing to match.
For dessert, stop by Great Escape, Colonial Creamery or Glen Dairy Bar for ice cream and yogurt based treats. Some cool, unique flavors!

Explore Corning

Corning Museum of Glass
Only 30 minutes from Watkins Glen Village is the town of Corning. The big draw for us is the Corning Glass Museum, The museum is a Science, History and Art Museum all rolled into one. There are live demonstrations of creating glass objects, and the science of how glass helps us in everyday life, from fiber optic cables, windshields on cars, to the "Gorilla Glass" used in smartphones and tablets .The town offers many more reasons to visit. In 2013 Corning was chosen by Rand McNally as "The Most Fun Small Town in America"  From the Rockwell Western Art Museum to the various festivals that happen, We haven't discovered all this town has to offer yet. We do love the brick oven pizza at Apollo Pizzeria on East Market Street!

Exploring Three Campgrounds ~ All Great Choices

Watkins Glen State Park Campsite
Watkins Glen State Park Campsite
When RVing, a campground can make or break your impression of an area. The Three campgrounds we've enjoyed are all different, and we like them for different reasons. The Watkins Glen/Corning KOA is great for young families. This campground between Watkins Glen and Corning New York features a heated indoor pool, a pirate ship, lazertag, zipline and more activities going on to keep the kids and active parents happy. Meetup with non-RVing friends who can stay in the on-site cabins. The campground features over 100 RV sites, including premium sites with a concrete patio and full hookups. Our girls really enjoyed the indoor pool and strolling along the hiking trail and over to the fishing pond to see what was being caught.
If you're looking for more of a wilderness experience for friends and family, Watkins Glen State Park Campground is located within a short hike to the Gorge There are over 300 campsites with centralized  restrooms, hot showers, and a dump station. Many sites have electric, with water fill stations located at locations on each camping loop. There are no full hookup sites. The park has its own Olympic-sized pool (used by campers and other visitors) and overlooks Seneca Lake.The woods provide plenty of shade in the summer months, and spectacular colors in the fall.
The third campground we have used for a guys weekend, and a year later a girls weekend away. both "adults getaway" weekends. Clute Memorial Park and Campground is run by the parks and recreation department of Watkins Glen Village. It is alongside the city boat launch and within walking distance of a Super Walmart and downtown Watkins Glen. This campground has amenities for kids, but no pool and the one shower house seemed a little more worn, but very nice. The Girls from their weekend stated that the showerhouse by the office was great. There are limited shaded spots to setup at this campground, but it's the location that is the draw for us. There is a swimming beach across the road in Seneca Lake. For our adult getaways, we liked the location because of the easy access to Watkins Glen downtown, the Gorge. and it is a great starting point for our Finger Lakes Wine Tour. We also like having full hookups with less cost than the KOA. For our guys weekend, we just drove five minutes up the road to take a swim in the State Park pool.  Being able to walk along Seneca Lake, or to go shopping  or dining in town was a big plus for us.
All three campgrounds are great - each a unique experience. Which to choose all depends on who is along on your trip, and what they enjoy and feel are necessities when RVing.

Hope the info above helps convince you that Watkins Glen NY  and the surrounding area is worth checking out. We truly love what the area has to offer for those RVing in the mid-Atlantic states.. I'm sure the RoadAbode Crew and friends will be back - there's still tons to discover, and plenty we want to re-visit. From festivals, to wine tasting, to great eats, Watkins Glen is on our short list of "Hey - let's do that again!"
If you have other tips about what to do and see in the area, we'd love for you to share! Please comment below if you have tips - or questions we could answer for you. Enjoy life ~ Go RVing!

For the "On the Spot" posts from our Watkins Glen and Corning Adventures check these links:
Synopsis of Guys Trip 2012
Our Girls at Corning Glass 2011
Watkins Glen SP Campground

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Why an RV Trumps a Man Cave

Welcome to the Man Cave - RV's make better Man CavesDuring the recent holiday, one of the topics of discussion with friends was the idea of the "Man Cave". For those unfamiliar with the term, according to Wikipedia:
A man cave is a male sanctuary, such as a specially equipped garage, spare bedroom, media room, den, or basement. It is a metaphor describing a room inside the house where "guys can do as they please" without fear of upsetting any female sensibility about house decor or design.
Paula Aymer of Tufts University calls the concept of the man cave the "last bastion of masculinity".
Many guys dream of having a place of their own. Elvis had his Jungle Room, and Thoreau his 10x15 foot home on Walden Pond. Even our heroes have them - Batman has the Bat-cave, Superman his "Fortress of Solitude", and Iron Man inventor Tony Stark has his garage full of expensive toys with computerized aide Jarvis. For regular guys, a man cave usually gets carved out from unused or unwanted space. A spare bedroom, part of the garage, cellar, or the garden shed out back are all spaces of manliness which can be converted into a man cave. Given time, money, or effort, a man cave can be created as simply as a lounge chair in a quiet room,  a mecca of teched out gadgets and electronics, or perhaps a dramatically designed whole basement mock-up of a hunting lodge in the woods.
RV's make better Man Caves
From Amazon ~ Man Cave Sign
No matter the space, man caves give guys a place to escape and spend time in solitude, or in the company of other "like-minded" men. I love the idea of a man cave, but I think there is a better way. Read on below as I list just some of the ways men would be better off with a Recreation Vehicle, or RV, than investing in a man cave.
I'll admit it, I love RoadAbode! Not in the same sense as I love my wife, kids, or even the family dog. But RoadAbode offers more to myself than just a get away for our family. This RV also offers up a chance to use or learn skills, contemplate quietly, or in some sense be a hero. Here's my top reasons I'm glad we have an RV over a man cave:

1 -An RV Comes Equipped for FUN

RVs come in all shapes and sizes
RVs come in all shapes and sizes
RVs, come in all shapes, sizes, and can fit every budget. Popups, trailers and motorhomes all can become your man cave. No matter new or used, you get to make it your own. What's nice about all RV's - they come equipped with whatever you need! A bathroom, running water, place to lounge. You don't have to add a lot to an RV for the fun to begin. The basics are already included!
A man cave is usually four walls. You get to pick the decor, but there's plenty of work and time to invest to get to all the amenities an RV starts out with. Installing the plumbing, electric, and electronics in your usual RV wold take both time and money. An RV has enough of what you need to enjoy right away, and still add on your favorite decor or tech to include your favorite hobbies or sports.
Since I live in the city, we store RoadAbode in a storage facility outside the city. It's nice to go out and relax, run the generator, watch a movie, listen to music, or read. Other times it's fun to work on RoadAbode for our next adventure. Either is a great way to relax and restore.

2- An RV Can Go Where the Action is - or isn't

RV man cave riding into the sunset
Riding into the sunset
Whatever your like to do, an RV is there for you. For sports, RVs make a parking lot tailgate party great. If you like to motocross, ride ATVs, mountain bike, or snowmobile, Toy hauler RVs have space to bring them along. If you enjoy the simplicity of fishing, your RV becomes your stream-side fishing camp. Want to be in the middle of a NASCAR race? Join the other RVing fans and be part of the excitement camped on the infield. If all you want to do is watch the sunrise or sunset. your "Man Cavemobile" will not only get you there, but allow the experience in comfort. A converted shed, attic, or other space can be changed by what tech or interior decor changes you make. What is awesome with any Recreational Vehicle - just take it to a different spot to change your perspective or view. One of the best times with buddies I had was taking RoadAbode to camp at a car show. We could check out the various cars, relax and use RoadAbode as a base camp. We also hit a local raceway and found a great local barbecue place. All that would not been possible with the usual idea of a stationary man cave.

3 - An RV has a Full Kitchen

From Amazon - Cooking for the Man Cave
Whether you are happy with microwave popcorn, a brat on a roll, or want to create gourmet meals, an RV has you covered. Most RVs have gas cook top, electric microwave, and regular or convection oven, or at least a combination of two. A refrigerator for your favorite brew, and freezer in case you want to stock up on some Ben & Jerrys "Chubby Hubby" ice cream are standard. So whether you tend to be a simple snack-a-holic with a craving for some microwave popcorn, or enjoy making a multi-course gastronomic event, your RV has a full kitchen ready and waiting. Unless you built it into the budget, most man caves have to share the cooking area with the rest of the household.
If you need help cooking in your mobile man cave this book would be worth a read. Manly recipes for tailgaters, beer enthusiasts, sportsmen, fisherman, hunters and more.  If you're looking for recipes for these "manly" occasions, you'll find plenty of great options in this testosterone-laden cookbook.

4 - An RV has a Bed - or Two

Falling asleep in a barcolounger or sofa is OK, but wouldn't you rather be able to just full-fledged sprawled out nap in a bed with your man cave? When selecting furnishings , your wife  may raise an eyebrow at a bed  going into your man cave. An RV usually not only has a full, queen, or even king size bed, but many times the couch or dinette convert into a sleeping area too! For that real "cave" feel, Class C RVs have an overhead bunk that can give a more closed in feel  making it your own "man cocoon". Some RVs today even have mattresses that will adjust the firmness level. Pretty cool for your man cave-mobile. Extra beds can come in handy for a guys weekend. Some RVs can hold up to eight people, but most would be comfortable to include four to six.guys. Invite the guys for a "man cave sleepover" in comfort, and in a location that complements your interests.

5 - An RV can be a Media Center on Wheels

Many RVs already come loaded with large screen TVs, DVD or Blue-Ray players, Hi Fidelity speakers systems, and even satellite systems. Larger A Class (Bus looking) RVs even have media centers outside for those tailgating opportunists. You can start simple and upgrade as you want or can budget. For RoadAbode, I've utilized and upgraded to an led TV, incorporated WiFi, and even upgraded speakers to include a sub woofer to give the feel of being in action and adventure movies.. It's pretty cool when we can watch a streaming movie over our data plan, and pausing it to go check on the crab trap at the dock alongside RoadAbode. It really is a glorious mix of man cave and RV lifestyle!

6 - An RV has a Bathroom

Amazon - "Manhole" toilet seat cover
If you have to run out from your man cave right past your kids room which is full of "Frozen" posters when you have the need to pay a visit to the bathroom - aka -"manhole", doesn't that kill the whole man cave vibe? The beauty of having an RV is it has a complete bathroom, with running water, even if you are getting solitude in the middle of nowhere without ANY outside water hookups. An RV has tanks and a pump for fresh water, and holding tank for waste water. There is also something satisfyingly manly about the whole process of emptying your black tank when needed. Connecting the hoses, hooking up to the sewer and the whole "dumping" process is, well cleansing, in almost a calming way. Plus, what man doesn't look at his poop? All kidding aside, an RV has the convenience of a toilet, sink, and even a shower only a few steps away. And it does help to have the vent cap with an exhaust fan right there to help air out the area.

7 - An RV You can Share

Lots of people believe that a man cave is a selfish use of space, and for some families that could be true. It does take up space that could be a kids bedroom, or playroom. The gardening tools still need to go somewhere if the man cave has taken over the shed or part of the garage. Or, maybe you try to have the space "designed" as a dual use spot in the house. Have you seen what happens when your kids start using your man cave? Do they leave lego and board-game pieces in the middle of your floor? TV always on the Nickelodeon Channel? With your RV man cave, you can still use for the family - on your terms. When you schedule family vacation time, or bringing your buddies along for the guys weekend, it's a win to all involved. Welcome to being the hero! Treat the soccer team and let the kids ride in style to the game, then during the game offer up the other dads an "adult beverage" and a chance to relax or catch up on your favorite teams scores. With an RV you can enjoy solitude, guys time, and family time. You can share the space and the possible fun times easily. Your RV man cave can serve both family, and friends.

8 - An RV has Better Views

RoadAbode in Salem
RoadAbode at Salem, MA Harbor
The best part of having an RV over a man cave are the ever changing vistas it can provide. While driving down the road, or once at a destination, everyone can enjoy the beauty and scenery.. I've had RoadAbode parked along mountain streams, lakes, and ponds. Nestled in groves of trees or nearly beneath a roller coaster. I've set up camp by the beach, along docks, and even near the mouth of a cavern.
Even when it's not the most beautiful of views, it's still unique or different than home. Only a man cave on wheels can give so many perspectives. And if the view is really that displeasing, just move along down the road, and explore the next highway exit or meandering backroad.

An RV is the Ultimate Man Cave

So if you are thinking about taking that unused spare bedroom or the dingy corner of garage and calling it your space, think bigger. Think better. Think what you could do with a new or used RV. Think about the fun with your guy friends,  Explore into taking your man cave dream on the road. If you have an RV already, I'd love to hear how you make it your personal man cave in the comments below. Happy RVing!

Amazon ~ Man Cave Shirt