Yesterday, we completed an important milestone in the Great Miller Adventure. We crossed over the state line from New Hampshire into Maine, arriving at the most North Eastern state in the USA. The first chapter of our journey has now been completed. We have traveled as a family of six, by way of motor home, coast to coast across the United States of America. An accomplishment in and of itself worthy of appreciation. Amazingly enough, this milestone is just the beginning of our adventure. Now that we have arrived here, on the East Coast, we’re beginning the second phase of our trip. The East Coast- the land of great American history. The place where it all began. Here our adventure slows down. We will begin to do less driving and spend more time immersing ourselves into all this great coast line has to offer. Spending time visiting cities and landmarks that date back as early as 1507 in colonial history. Places that people like us, born and raised in Seattle, only read about in books. Places like Jamestown, Plymouth, Cape Cod, Boston, Washington D.C., and New York City. Places that, in my past, I (Josh) have only visited in my imagination. The next leg of our trip is an extended stay along the East Coast of the USA. A leg that will take all the years of our imagination and bring them to life right before our eyes. We are grateful and thankful for this amazing journey- the trip of a lifetime.
It has now been 10 days since our last blog post, and we realize we have left you all in the dark regarding what we have been doing and seeing. I will summarize for you the first half of September and help bring you up to speed so you will be prepared to follow us into the future as we head down the coast.
First, a huge shout out to my cousin, Shaunna, who lives just south of Grand Rapids, Michigan. She opened up her home to us over the Labor Day holiday weekend where we spent four nights in one place. Four nights in one place. The longest stop we have had in one place since our trip began. No driving to our next destination. No sleeping in a box on wheels. A great and needed break from the non-stop movement of our great adventure. A time to hang out with family and relax. We spent much time together with her, her husband Andy, and her daughters, Maria (13) and McKenzie (10). My Aunt Terri and Uncle Ron also visited them while we where there and we greatly enjoyed everyone’s company. Most everyday we went swimming in their outdoor pool. We also visited the lake, went to the movies, and ate much more than was necessary.
Also, over the Labor Day weekend, an important event happened. On Sept. 3rd, Mel and I celebrated our 14th anniversary. Mel and I extend our greatest appreciation to Shaunna, who allowed us to borrow her car, leave the kids behind, and have an amazing anniversary date, just the two of us. We traveled west to the shores of Lake Michigan where we enjoyed a romantic dinner and walked on the beach holding hands.
After our blessed stay with family, we loaded up the kids and continued our travels. We drove through a corner of Indiana and made it to Ohio, where we stayed a night at Lake Erie.
The next day, we drove into upstate NY and on Sept. 6th we arrived at Niagara Falls. Knowing that the views of the falls are more amazing in Canada, we crossed over the US/Canadian border, and our kids, for the first time in their lives, entered into a foreign country. Of course the view of the falls was greater than any I could describe using words (just look at the pictures instead).
The next day, we traveled to a camp ground at Lake Ontario where we stayed two nights. Of the five Great Lakes, Mel and I physically put our feet in four of them, the fifth one (Lake Huron) we only saw from afar. We traveled east from there across NY state where we stayed at the Adirondack state park. Then, on Sept. 12th, we arrived at a destination I had been excited to see…Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream in Vermont. Caleb and Lydia’s first grade teacher, Martha Nichols, is from Vermont. She knows Jerry so we had a welcome sign for our family and B&J’s buttons for the kids with their names on them. We took a tour of their factory, saw how they made their ice cream, and, of course, ate way more ice cream than we needed. Thanks to Martha, we spent one night at her mom’s place as well. (Thank you, Karen and Nan, for taking us in!) In Vermont, we also visited Wilson Castle, tasted fresh apple cider and apple cider donuts at a cider mill, and toured a sugar house where we learned how maple syrup was made.
Something to note, as we traveled from New York to Vermont we had a small accident. As I was pulling into a gas station, the wide turn the motor home made was not going to make it to the gas pump. I carefully backed up, straighten out and began to pull forward again. I felt some resistance as I moved forward and an ear piercing, bending of metal, noise came from behind the motor home. Unknown to me, as I had backed up, the bike rack on the back of our motor home had slipped over the top of on old metal bolt that was sticking out of the ground at the edge of the parking lot. When I pulled forward, the bolt hooked onto the bike rack and held it in place and the motor home moved forward. When I got out to survey the damage, I came out to see my bike rack ripped in two. The metal was irreversibly bent and the bikes, still standing, balance on the other half of the rack. I was grateful that the bikes had not been damaged, yet I did not know how I would recover from the damage. Some kind locals came over and helped. We scrapped the broken parts of the rack, re-positioned the bikes on the part of the still intact rack, and finally pulled forward to get gas. I ordered a new rack from Amazon and had it sent to an address we would visit in a week. The greatest damage done was to my pride, as I drove around the country for one week with a “ghetto” bike set up hanging off the back side of my motor home. Mel’s bike got damaged that week as it became the sacrificial bike at the bottom of the pile. I now owe her a new bike. Lesson learned, on with the trip.
Our next stop was the White Mountains in New Hampshire. We stayed at the state camp ground for two nights. It was sunny and warm. The kids played in the river and we dried out our wet clothes we had been traveling with. We visited “The Flume” visitor center and learned about “The Old Man in the Mountain.” The country side and rolling hills where beautiful.
From there we traveled south, just outside of Manchester, NH, where we visited a World Vision Child Ambassador friend of Mel’s. Courtney opened up her home to us and we enjoyed a three night escape from our home on wheels. We enjoyed ourselves immensely as we got to better know her husband, Hall, and their two daughters Molly (14) and Grace (13). We visited the NH coast with them, enjoyed Hall’s gourmet cooking, and stayed up late drinking wine and watching videos of Jim Gaffigan. The new bike rack came in the mail (thank you Amazon) and I had time there to replace the old bike rack with the new one. I also changed the oil in the motor home (5000 miles already). The morning that we left we woke up to a second minor accident. In the middle to the night, it poured down rain. We had left the skylight vents open in the motor home and in the morning, discovered a small sea on the floor and all over our bed. More of an inconvenience, we spend three hours using Courtney’s towels and clothes dryer to clean up the mess. The delay did not stop us from crossing over to Maine, where we are now camped today.