Another episode in our continuing adventure to see the fall colors in New England (and sample plenty of craft beer along the way). Yes, our wonderful site on the Salem harbor waterfront was really windy last night, so much so that we pulled in the slides to keep from rocking around. But not much rain and it was clear and chilly in the morning. Did the whole disconnect, hitch-up and head out routine on our way back through Salem and off to Rhode Island.
We made it around Boston and then Providence to mid-state to connect with an old friend. It took a little maneuvering to get the motorhome in and around the stone walls to the farm, but with some help we settled in next to the horse paddock at Laurie and Brian’s place. Actually worked out great – a good long walk around the farm with the dogs, delicious dinner and conversation to catch up and back to our own place on a darn chilly night.
Woke to another sunny, chilly morning and it was time for a repeat of the hitch-up, head out routine. This was going to be a pretty long haul to get us into Pennsylvania and close to another brewery on the list: Yuengling Brewing. Lots of historic rivers and bridges to cross on this drive from Connecticut to New York and Pennsylvania: Connecticut River, Hudson River (impressive), Delaware River. Quite a few hills and mountains and very scenic, but not much of the fall color yet. As we headed to Scranton, Jackie checked on her phone to confirm the details of Yuengling in Pottsville, just a little further on. Well, it looks like we were gonna cut it close if we wanted to make it there by closing time at 5 – but then Jackie said it looked like winter hours meant it closed at 3. So we were out of luck and out of time for that brewery.
I was impressed with the mountains around Scranton and how cool the landscape was as we drove through the Poconos and closer to Harrisburg. We decided to stop for the night at a KOA – pull-through site with full hookups. Very nice spot that was only 2 miles from the AT, not that we were planning to hike it, but it must have been close to where our nephew Adam made it (so proud).
I have to take a moment to say that this, like all our adventures, is a true partnership. Yes, I do the driving, but Jackie is busy navigating, checking ahead for the best gas prices, calling ahead to some of the breweries to ask about parking, and being an extra set of eyes when we get into tight situations (including the very tricky gas stations). We each have our set-up and pack-up routines, which helps us remember everything and we aren’t afraid to double-check each other. Anyway, it does take two when you drive a rig like this. And then there is the whole hitch/unhitch the car routine.
So that brings us to another day on this series of travel days. Not too many pictures to share, as it doesn’t work to shoot while moving along and besides, who wants to see an interstate highway? It was a good start leaving the KOA, sunny and in the low 40’s. We did not stop in Hershey to see chocolate world (another time perhaps), nor did we stop at the Lindor chocolate factory that we saw at the last moment, but we did have a nice drive. Southern Pennsylvania heading toward Harrisburg was filled with small farms, the barns and silos dotting the landscape. Green fields were sprinkled between brown cornfields, most in mid-harvest. As we slipped into Maryland and West Virginia, the traffic increased and the hills were a bit more rolling. We crossed yet another important river: the Potomac.
Into Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley was just amazing. Blue skies, green pastures, old homes and farms all with a dark green backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Very cool, but no hint of fall color here. Jackie got back on the navigation and located our next destination: Devil’s Backbone Basecamp and Meadows. We first learned of the DB Vienna Lager while pouring at one of our beer festivals back home and knew we wanted to stop here. Plus, Adam stopped here on his AT hike and said it was great. Up and over the ridge from Staunton, I think it was Rooster Gap, we found our country road and wound our way along. Wow, there is a winery, wait slow down, there is a cidery. A distillery, a brewery …. Gosh the choices. But we kept on until we found basecamp and checked in.
This is a pretty new operation, the campground just opened this year. But is has generous room for rigs, full hookups and dump station, and lots of tent sites for AT hikers and others. The grounds have a bandshell, outdoor bar, lots of outdoor seating, a distillery, breakfast spot and of course their tap room and brewpub. So we walked around with Kodi, who met lots of folks, had ourselves a beer and relaxed a bit in the sunshine. We both liked Gold Leaf Lager, I enjoyed the Cran Gose, a cranberry sour and we made plans to come back for dinner. Dog back in camper, cat fed and we went back for a flight each and a delicious meal. I mean great!
The only moose we saw on this trip:
Jackie ordered nachos with smoked chicken, I ordered a smoked top round (shaved) on Cibatta au jus. Both were amazingly flavorful. On the flights we sampled Trail Angel Weiss (was best with the nachos), UK Lager and Vienna Lager (good with the beef) and a Brut Lager that was very dry, light and crisp. Saving it for last, we tried their Hibiscus Hard Lemonade (6.3%) which was really quite nice. A stop in the gift shop and then a welcome walk back to the camper in the dark. We really like where this spot is going. Definitely worth a stop if you are driving nearby. We learned that the next day the campground was booked with vintage VW Campers … now that would have been fun to see.
Merlin is getting anxious to be home — and we have one more stop before home, somewhere near Bristol, Tennessee. Might not be blog-worthy, we shall see.
As we left the valley at the DB Basecamp it was one wild ride. The hairpin turns and switchbacks on the road up the mountains, and then back down again were a thrill (Jackie disagrees). Crossed under Skyline Drive on the Blue Ridge Mountains and the AT again. The mountains were green, the sky blue and just a bit of mist was rising from the James River as we followed along. What a gorgeous day, but no hint of fall color here.
As we get closer to closing the loop on this trip approaching Knoxville, we end where we began, with a home Tennessee football game causing traffic and trouble. No campsites between Bristol and almost Chattanooga were available. We didn’t make advance reservations for this last part of the trip, since we weren’t sure how far we would drive. So, as we sat in some nasty traffic in Knoxville, we made the decision to push on to home. It made it an 11 hour driving day, but when we pulled in (at our non-moving house), it felt good.
So at the conclusion of this 28-day “Big Loop” to see fall colors, we will have driven through 16 states, two countries, a total of over 3,800 mile (not counting the car excursions) and sampled oodles of craft beer and ate great regional food. It was definitely worth it – all the driving, all the gasoline, the cold nights and the rainy mornings. We caught up with old family friends, did a few hikes, had our share of pumpkins, apples, fall festivals and scary Halloween decorations, saw some new wildlife and definitely got to see all the beautiful colors of fall. Phew! Now one week to do the laundry and pack swimwear, shorts and t-shirts for a cruise to the Bahamas with Dad and John. I guess we are just a bit crazy. Thanks for reading along.
Until the next adventure …
Oh yeah, there are just a few photos that didn’t make the blog the first time around that I thought I would share:
Walking and picture-taking in Acadia:
The rungs, iron rails and walkways of the treacherous Precipice Trail:
The vintage campers from Salisbury Beach State Park: