With much of Cape Cod still undiscovered, and many miles to cover before colder weather set in, it was time to move on. People frequently ask me how I plan my route. It’s often friends or family members who draw me to a certain place. Sometimes it’s a project, and in some cases I’m simply drawn to a place I’ve always wanted to see.
Sometimes though, there are many miles between one inspired stop and the next. I would love to be able to say that those miles are completely spontaneous, but I can’t. Being spontaneous on my journey is great when it works out that way, but it’s not that easy. As carefree as I would like to be I have to be aware of my limitations as well.
My biggest limitation this time of year in the northeast is that most of the campgrounds are closed for the season. “Boondocking” (parked with no plug-ins) works now and then, but doing so has to feel safe and comfortable to me, and as the weather gets colder (and wetter) and the days get shorter this option doesn’t always work. The cold is secondary to feeling safe. This time of year the dark of night lasts much longer, and it feels that all of humanity is hidden indoors. That leaves me feeling more alone and vulnerable when I’m not parked near other travelers like myself. So… I often spend countless hours online researching the path ahead of me… in search of places I’d like to see as well as open campgrounds along the way.
My next planned stop was at the home of my very good friends, Bonnie and Scott in Waterford, Virginia, but several states lie in between. While online I read about Gillette Castle which sits high on a ridge above the Connecticut River. The drive from Cape Cod to the campground I found near there might have taken only 3-4 hours, but it’s not my nature to always take the easy route. Instead of taking the interstate I plotted my course through Newport and Jamestown Rhode Island. This is not a route I would recommend for a large motorhome. The narrow streets aren’t exactly designed with big rigs in mind, nor could I find a place to park and unhook my tow car. It was a pretty drive though and took me over three large bridges.
Staying off the interstate and taking the road less traveled made for a long day of driving and I arrived at my campground much later than expected. My compliments to the staff at Wolf’s Den in East Haddam for the friendly and speedy check-in so I could get to Gillette Castle before closing. As it turned out getting there before 5 brought needless stress into my day. The interior was closed and I was horribly disappointed to find the exterior covered in scaffolding. The shot below was my best attempt at hiding it. The saving grace was the view of the river and three friendly couples I met that evening.
The following day I set out in the pouring rain to meet an old high school friend, Tom Huffman, for lunch and then followed another meandering backroad journey to the northwest corner of Connecticut where I was told I might still find some color.
The remainder of my drive to Waterford was in a complete downpour. I traveled down very challenging backroads of Pennsylvania… windy, narrow, and hilly with overhanging trees that had me taking my half of the road out of the middle every chance I had. And I camped in a completely deserted campground. It was the last day of the season, and once I was checked in the OWNERS even deserted the place! I can’t tell you how happy I was to see the smiling faces of my friends Bonnie and Scott when we arrived in Virginia.
Two relaxed days later I left Jazzy and Sadie in the care of Bonnie and Scott and hopped on the metro into Washington DC. While there I got some time with another great friend, Glen, who was in town on business and my former sister-in-law, Kristi, who lives nearby in Virginia. I’ve been to DC twice before but it’s one of those places where you could spend months and never see it all. I got out for a little walkabout on Capital Hill before Kristi picked me up and played tour guide on our way to lunch in Georgetown. Unfortunately the clouds rolled back in by mid day and stayed.
The following morning I wanted to see a few more of the monuments before hopping back on the metro, but didn’t really have time to do it on foot. As luck would have it I discovered my hotel had bikes available to check out. With camera in hand (literally in-hand) I spent a couple hours cruising and shooting. Still cloudy (which equates to bad lighting for a photographer), but great fun!!! I especially enjoyed the Korean War Memorial (almost an eerie presence there) and the FDR Memorial. I was amazed to find myself alone while there and loved the tranquility of the place.
I’m still running a few weeks behind on my blogging, but hope the holiday down time will get me caught up. I have to admit that as frustrated as I’ve been with the weather and lack of color this autumn, I am WAY less behind than if I’d been out shooting every day!! Next up… more of Virginia and my refuge from Hurricane Sandy.
Reminder that during the month of November part of the proceeds from my new 2013 Calendars as well as my books will go to American Red Cross to help those effected by Hurricane Sandy. For information see Red Cross Fundraiser and to order go to Art, Books and More.
For the benefit of those considering a purchase I would love to hear thoughts on the calendar and books from readers who have already purchased them. Share a review in the “comments” section below.
Wishing you all a joyous Thanksgiving!!!!!