9/30: Lake George Escape Camping Resort: Just 9 days left here and we'll start moving again! These past few days were spent with some doctor appointments, and cleaning. The Jeep and motorhome both got a very thorough cleaning. Unlike other workampers here, we didn't get much sap from the pine trees. It felt pretty good to not have any schedule to stick to. We could sleep in and do what we wanted, when we wanted. Kind of reminded us of the days of traveling before we started workamping. The trees are changing colors, but not as quickly as we hoped. Next week, we plan to take our last little trip in the area. We'll be driving across Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts, and probably into the lower part of Maine. Our mission is to view some scenic parts of these states, hopefully with the brilliant fall colors of the trees. But we have our doubts for the colors. It appears we'll be a couple weeks too early.
I may have mentioned earlier that we've started our job search for next season. Many of the resorts and campgrounds will close soon and they like to have their work staff for next season already in place. We also like to know in advance where we'll be workamping, to help plan our route. A couple months ago, we applied with a popular hotel and campground located just outside of Bryce Canyon in Utah. At first, everything looked good with a positive response from them. Since then, I've tried to get more of a response from them by Emailing them with some questions. After not getting an answer to these 3 Emails from them in over 5 weeks, we decided we needed to start looking elsewhere. We sent out another inquiry and got an immediate response. Unfortunately, they only paid $5.15 an hour, which is too low for us. So we sent out 2 more inquiries. We got an immediate response from one of these employers in South Dakota. Everything looked good with them and we decided to submit an application. As soon as we sat down to fill out the forms, we received a phone call from them. After a short chat, they got a couple references from us so they could "get a head start". We Emailed off our applications. The next day, our managers at Lake George Escape got the phone call for reference checks on us. Hopefully, everything will be firmed up soon and we'll make plans to head to Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota for next summer. We never did get a response from our other inquiry. I know potential employers are busy, but if they advertise for seasonal help, at least they can acknowledge our questions and inquiries. When we applied here at Lake George Escape, we received immediate replies. This led to telephone interviews in a very short time. There's plenty of workamping positions out there. It's just a matter of finding one that meets our needs. Unfortunately, many potential employers will loose getting some excellent employees by their lack of response.
9/22: Lake George Escape Camping Resort: Bonjour.We took advantage of another short work week and headed to Montreal, Quebec, Canada this past Monday. We arrived late afternoon in heavy traffic. Quebec is French speaking, so that made our visit more interesting. We finally made our way safely to a hotel across the street from the Montreal Olympic Stadium, site of the 1976 Summer Olympics. We didn't go inside, but were impressed by the unusual architecture. Actually, while driving back to downtown after rush hour, we noticed a variety of architecture styles used on the apartments (flats) that lined the streets. Most looked very cozy. Larry is never impressed with cities, especially after fighting traffic and getting stressed out. We didn't have any set plans to see anything specific in Montreal, so Larry wanted to leave the next morning. We made a beautiful drive along the St. Lawrence River on the Canadian side for awhile before catching a bridge back to the U.S.A. Our destination was the 1000 Island Region of New York. We spent a couple nights in a nice hotel on the St. Lawrence River while we toured the area.
The 1000 Island Region is actually composed of over 1800 islands on the St. Lawrence River. Half of the islands are Canadian, and the other half the United States. To be classified as an island, the plot of land above water must remain above water all year and have 2 living trees on it. Almost all the islands are privately owned, with people's summer houses being built on them. We saw one island where the house took up 95% of the island, with almost no remaining land left on it. Besides the natural beauty of the area, one of the main attractions is "Heart Island", home of the "Boldt Castle". George Boldt made his wealth in the late 1800's, managing/profit sharing the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. He commissioned for a six-story, 127 room castle be built on Heart Island as a valentine's gift for his wife. Over 300 workers worked on it for over 3 years, until Mrs. Boldt died unexpectedly in 1903. Construction stopped, and the castle went to ruins for over 70 years. In 1977, the 1000 Island Bridge Authority acquired the island and has slowly been restoring and finishing the castle. It's a showcase of wealth from the early 1900's. While in the 1000 Islands area, we also visited a new winery, only 2 years old. We wish the 1000 Islands Winery the best of luck, as their wine is pretty good.
9/16: Lake George Escape Camping Resort: A lot has happened these past couple of weeks. First, we celebrated our one-year anniversary for being on the road. On September 8th, 2004, we closed on our house and officially became RV fulltimers. It's been a GREAT year. I've written a couple articles on our first year. We've documented our expenses for the first year, and wrote a small retrospective on our first year.
Our fellow workers are starting to pull out and go their separate ways. Some friends moved their 'stuff' to the site they are going to stay in next year. So we moved everything over to this new site (for us) to help guard their 'stuff' from guests. We love this new site, as it's large and full of soft grass. We didn't know what we were missing. We've hosted a few get-togethers around the campfire. There's much more room and we don't feel hidden away. We've also started our fall work schedule, which gives us Monday - Thursday off. For the next month, we'll only work 3-day weekends. But everyone was called into the lodge last Thursday. The owners made the big announcement that they've sold this campground. A large corporation, Equity Lifestyle Properties and Encore RV Parks bought the private owners out. Of course, all the workers are now concerned for the future of how workampers will be hired and treated here. We're not too concerned, as we don't plan to return next year. But many of them do. This company advertises for workampers throughout the nation, but doesn't pay any wages. They want workers to come and work a few days a week for a free site, and that's it. Out of curiosity, we'll have to keep an eye on this place and see what happens.
When Larry was researching this lifestyle and trying to get Connie motivated for it, he asked her "What first destination did she want?" She made a list, and Niagara Falls, NY, was at the top of the list. This was a bit of a surprise, as she's never mentioned Niagara Falls before. We agreed this would be the first place we headed for, but that it might take awhile to get there. After 1 year and 5 days from the time we started traveling full time, we finally made it to Niagara Falls. I've mentioned before that we travel slowly. This was a wonderful "mini vacation", as we left the motorhome behind and stayed in hotels. We drove across the beautiful Adirondack Park and noticed the leaves are starting to change colors. Everyone told us we needed to visit the Canadian side, so we decided to stay there. Besides, it was Connie's first time into Canada. We didn't have any problems with customs crossing into Canada, and stayed in a nice hotel with a 'partial' view of the falls. Another unexpected surprise was the room included a Jacuzzi tub! This was the first bathtub we've used in over a year. The motorhome only has a shower. We were also within walking distance of the falls. Since it's now low tourist season, rates were acceptable. We spent a day and a half amazed at these great falls, taking hundreds of photos including a semi panoramic view of the falls. Of course, we've added most of them to our photo gallery. We bought an Adventurer Pass for $35 that gave us admission to the tunnels and a view behind Horseshoe Falls, Maid of the Mist boat rides, the walkway down into the gorge, and the Butterfly Conservatory. The passes also gave us unlimited rides on the People Mover (bus) and the incline railway up the hill.
Our first impression of the falls was that they were smaller than we imagined. Although not as big as we expected, they were huge. We were most impressed with the amount of water going over the falls. Contrary to what we had thought, the water flows from the USA into Canada. We learned that the water comes from Lake Erie (USA), down the Niagara River, over either the Canadian Horseshoe Falls, or over the American Bridal Veil and Rainbow Falls. The water continues down the Niagara River gorge, and eventually ends up in Lake Ontario (Canada). While we were visiting, the rushing water was at it's highest level for the year. Even though 1/3 of the water is diverted for power, enough water rushes over the falls to fill a million bathtubs per minute. I kept expecting the falls to run out of water. We started our day tour by taking the "Walk Behind the Falls". After descending in an elevator, we walked through tunnels to the base of Horseshoe Falls. What a great view from there! We then walked more tunnels and had views of the falls from BEHIND the falling water. Afterwards, we took the Maid of the Mist boat trip to the base of the falls. Yes, we got pretty wet as we got very close to the falling water. The size of the falls looked more like what we expected from down here! We rode the People Mover bus further down the gorge and took the short Walk Along the Gorge, which got us close to the rushing water in the river. The water was moving at over 25mph down the gorge. We then headed to the Floral Clock, which was nice, but not as pretty in flowers as we had hoped. They change the clock's design each year. Since we had time and included tickets, we also visited the Butterfly Conservatory. I'm glad we didn't miss this, as we had visited the Butterfly Conservatory in Houston, TX. Although this was similar, there were hundreds more very active butterflies. Of course, we got some great photos to accompany our memories. After a little rest, we attended a dinner show with magician Greg Frewin. It was a good meal with a good magic performance. Afterwards, we went to the falls again to see them lit up. We were also surprised with a fireworks show. The fireworks show wasn't on any of the schedules.
After leaving Niagara Falls, we headed to the Finger Lakes region of New York. This is a series of long, thin lakes. We were surprised that the area was also covered with wineries. We concentrated our day around Seneca Lake, visiting a few wineries. Of course, we know how Connie enjoys wine tasting trips. If she had her way, we could have spent a week on this one lake visiting the 42 wineries. This doesn't count the other wineries on the other lakes! At one winery, Connie got her picture taken a few times sampling wine. In a couple months, she may be pictured in the Finger Lakes Wine Gazette! It was a great week, and another of our dream destinations visited. It's back to work for the next few days, then we plan to head to Montreal, Canada, and the 1000 Islands area of New York for next week.
9/4: Lake George Escape Camping Resort: Happy Labor Day! Being a holiday weekend, this place went crazy again. The past week was pretty quiet in the park, which was nice. But came Friday, we had almost 400 campsites being filled. By Saturday night, all 600 campsites in this resort were full. Overall, the guests were in a pretty good mood. The beautiful weather sure makes a difference. Even though, we did have a couple days of heavy rain left over from the Katrina Hurricane. But gas prices have reached $3.69 a gallon!!! We don't like the higher prices, but it won't slow us down too much (yet). We're hoping prices will drop after the holiday, and before we head south to Florida. Fellow workers have already started to pull out. The first couple left today. It's sweet sorrow, because we'll miss our new friends, yet we're all glad to get moving again. But we're here for another month, so we'll see most of them leave before us. As we enter our last month here, we'll only be working 3-day weekends. We're making plans to head to Niagara Falls next week for 4 days.
Yesterday, we headed down to Albany, NY for the day. We were a bit surprised how quiet New York's capitol was on a holiday. We guessed they all headed to the mountains for the weekend. We did a short walking tour of downtown and along the Hudson river. But our main goal was to visit the New York state museum. We had heard about their September 11, 2001 exhibit. We spent quite a bit of time there, reading about the events, watching movies of this tragedy, and looking at various items recovered from the devastation. Although very interesting, it was also very solemn. The rest of the museum was also very tasteful, presenting a variety of information on New York and it's history. Yet, it wasn't shown in a boring manner. Not too much information to get boring, and shown in interesting exhibits. Too bad we forgot to bring our camera, so no pictures today.