Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Watkins Glen, NY

The Gorge Trail-843 stairs are on this trail. We did it twice!

This may or may not be our second Ben and Jerry's for the day.

The reproduction of a picture we took 3 years ago.
Aug 17th & 18th

We got up early to break down camp, shower, and make it to church in Lake Placid, about an hour and a half away. Against all odds, one of us lacking a shirt, and all of us donning wrinkled clothes, we made it to the church building with 15 minutes to spare. After a nice service, we continued on our way.

When we arrived at our campground in Watkins Glen, we realized how much the wet and cold had been wearing on us. We recognized it because for the first time in a while, everything was dry. The ground wasn’t muddy, the picnic bench wasn’t damp, and the air felt a bit warm. It was really a refreshing change. We arrived around dinner, and after camp was set up and dinner was eaten and cleaned up, we went for a long walk; just enjoying the pleasant weather. The next day after Breakfast, we walked down to the Gorge Trail then into town to wander around until lunch. We took the Gorge Trail back up to our campground and found the location of a photo we have hanging in our house from three years ago. We reproduced the picture then continued back to our campsite. The afternoon was spent swimming and doing laundry (Thanks, James!).

Sunday, August 17, 2014


August 15th & 16th 
Mt. Philo, VT

"It's boring if you can't run!" -Wendy
The view of Lake Champlain

Vermont is one of the most beautiful states.  The interstate is deserted, snaking through green mountains.  Each town is small, nestled beside a river with a single white church steeple in the middle.  The first stop was Joseph Smith’s birthplace.  There is such a sweet spirit there.  Next we went to a cider press and Ben & Jerry’s.  That place is sweet for a completely different reason.

Our campground was on the shore of Lake Champlain.  We spent our second full day in Vermont climbing a short mountain (Mt. Philo), visiting a farmer’s market (Yum), and downtown Burlington.  To be honest, the main purpose to visiting Burlington was to go to a Ben & Jerry’s shop.  This had nothing to do with the previous day’s tour, I promise!  Of all the towns we visited, of all the campuses, Burlington and U. of Vermont were my favorites. -James

Friday, August 15, 2014


August 13th & 14th

Up until today, we have had excellent weather.  We narrowly missed a thunderstorm on Mt. Evans, instead having perfect temperatures and a gentle breeze.  We had great weather in Indiana and, though we had a horrible thunderstorm in Ohio, it was a travel day so it did not matter.  Philadelphia, New York, and Boston were not too hot.  Even the rain we had on Cape Cod was perfectly timed.  This all changed in New Hampshire.

As we approached our campsite, dark and heavy clouds moved in.  The ranger told us of 100% chance of rain the next day so, as we set up camp, we made sure the flies were on well.  This did not prepare us for the deluge that hit us on the 13th.  It started raining then, as the day progressed, it got worse and worse.  We cowered in an abandoned mall to read, watched a movie, then searched the small town for something to do in a tent.  Just before darkness fell, we floated to our campsite expecting to see the worse.  All the tents were ok so we crowded into our tent to play Monopoly until we fell asleep. 

It rained the next morning and we had enough!  We packed soaked tents into our roof rack and got outa dodge.  Remarkably, it was sunny a few miles down the road.  We dried out our tents as we ate breakfast and made a plan.  After being cooped up for a day, you can imagine how anxious we were to move!  Rachel and the girls did a medium hike paralleling a series of waterfalls.  James did a ridge climb.  It turned out to be a great day. 


Off the Interstate

Our rout from Portland, ME to Franconia Notch State Park, New Hampshire
 took us from the interstate onto some country roads. The going was a bit slow, but the pace was a refreshing change from the city and heavy traffic we experienced on the previous days. While the interstates are a great way to get quickly from one place to the next, it’s not until you get off them that you truly get a feel for the way of life you are passing through. Once you really enter a place where people live, you see potted flowers and clothes carefully hung on the line to dry-evidence that real people live there; people mowing their lawns and riding a bike with shopping bags on the handle bars. Things for sale by owner give you a glimpse into the real lives of those people: a boat, once new and full of promise, now being sold; the family van for sale-maybe all the children have moved on for a life far from home. It’s all a reminder that while I vacation, other people are moving on with their routine, that behind each person I see is not just a person, but an entire life.

This drive also took us from coastal Maine into the Appalachian Range, and seeing mountains on the horizon was a comfort to me, reminding me how much I love them. While it’s easy to find beauty everywhere, mountains make me feel the security of home.


Aug 9th-11th

Our time in Maine was both frustrating and satisfying. We planned to take the coastal route on our way up to Acadia NP in order to experience the quaint coastal towns and see some iconic lighthouses. Our plans were thwarted by stop and go traffic-with an emphasis on the “stop.” We decided to head inland for a faster route, which was a disappointment. However, Acadia National Park was fabulous! The Precipice Trail was a great experience for everyone. It is known to be the most challenging trail in the park, and Wendy did it with style and ease. The views were breathtaking, and the trail was interesting at every turn. NOT for those who are afraid of heights! As a bonus, there were wild berries everywhere. I’m not sure whether we burned more calories or consumed more in berries.

We also got to hang out on the rocky beach, investigate some tide pools full of ocean life, eat lobster in all forms (whole, bisque, stew, roll, ravioli…), and do some shopping and exploring in Portland.

The Precipice Trail-Acadia National Park

August 10th

We did a lot of scrambling. At the top there was really good elevation. We climbed a lot of latters, and we held on to a lot of metal bars and railings, it was fun. I hop you do it to. There were a lot of blue berries! THE END! -Wendy

Monday, August 11, 2014


August 8th

The Freedom trail is a great way to see some of the many historic sites in Boston. The information says it is a 2.5 mile trail, but because it takes you through a variety of areas, there are a lot of distractions along the way. It took us all day. There are 16 official stops including Boston Common, the State House, Park street Church, several burying grounds, King's chapel, the first public school, the Old State House, the Boston Massacre Site, Faneuil Hall, Paul Revere House, Old North Church, Bunker Hill Monument, and finally, the USS Constitution. Each place has an abundance of shopping and dining opportunities. As a side note, let me just say that I am so sick of gift shops, I think I would rather gouge my eyes out with hot tongs than go into another one. On the upside, they do provide ample people watching opportunities and some of them even offer a nice chair or bench that is generally occupied by bored-looking men. It was a hot day, but we survived almost the entire trail with a minimal amount of complaining. At one point, it seemed as if a portion of the family might expire due to hunger, heat, and fatigue; but in the end, we found a local gentleman in a shady (not scary shady, just tree shady) park who directed us to a good Italian restaurant in Boston's North End. After our meal, we found ourselves to be revived and able to take a quick tour of Harvard's campus.

This is the Freedom Trail marker
Paul Revere's old house: Boston's oldest building still in existence (1680)
Paul Revere and the Old North Church, "One if by land, two if by sea..."
Wendy and Nicole taking a break in a wading pool
The State Building
Boston Massacre Site
the oldest continuously operating restaurant in the country
The USS Constitution

Cannons-for the pirates

Apparently, they let anyone drive
Subway surfing

Plimoth Plantation

August 7th

The Mayflower II-Wendy is happy to be there.

17th Century village

A typical garden. As could be expected, I was drawn to them. It really made me miss my own garden.

Um, a loose rooster...

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Cape Cod

August 5-7

The kids wanted to go to the beach. It was on their must-do list. So, we decided to explore Cape Cod. We spent two nights at a campground in Truro. We arrived shortly after dark and still had to cook dinner and set up camp. This is always a challenging situation, as all in the Helfrich family have a tendency to be somewhat cranky when hungry. I gave everyone a pep talk before we got to work. It went something like this: “Everyone’s hungry and would rather be doing something else right now. If you can’t say something nice or useful, don’t say anything at all. We will all be eating and sleeping soon.” As soon as we exited the car to get to work, a very large squadron of mosquitoes dive-bombed us. It tried everyone’s patience to be sure. However we all survived with enough blood left in us to sustain life.

The next morning, we were anxious to hit the beach. About 10 minutes after we got there, it started to rain. We decided to go to Providencetown and check out some of the shopping. The explanation of the rainbow flags really came in handy here. Let’s just say there were a lot of rainbows in the town. Luckily, there were also a lot of interesting shops to entertain us while we waited for the rain to pass. As soon as the sky cleared, we returned to the beach and enjoyed an afternoon hanging out on the beach. We drove back down to the point to go for a walk as the sun set.

In the morning we packed up, ate breakfast, and headed toward Plimoth Plantation.