Planning a trip? Dreaming of travel? Perhaps some of our adventures could inspire yours! Over the last several years we’ve had the distinct pleasure of many cross country journeys traveling though the Lower 48 in tents and our various teardrop campers as well as an amazing Alaska adventure that did not involve a camper. To learn more about our day to day adventures, recent blog posts are below. To learn more about Steve & Karen, click on the About Us link. All Things T@B is about using and caring for T@B trailers. Every other link is about travel adventures. Enjoy exploring, and leave us comments! We love hearing from you. And if you’d like to follow us, Subscribe by signing up at the bottom of this page.

Four Weeks in London

Sorry for no pictures with this post. We haven’t been blogging recently because we’ve run into software issues preventing us from uploading photos. Hopefully we’ll get it sorted when we’re back on our home turf but we want to share a list of at least some of the experiences we’ve had this past month. It’s been an amazing stay. We’ve been here long enough that Apple Maps has identified La Gaffe as “Home”. We really did settle in here in Hampstead and did our best to live like a local here. Thank you Amanda for a fabulous orientation. Thank you Lorenzo, Giuseppe, Decca, Alex, and Mateo for making our stay so comfortable

✓ Explore Hampstead Village

✓ Walk through the Heath

✓ Visit a local fun fair

✓ Hear Big Ben chime noon

✓ See (but not ride) The London Eye

✓ Visit Highgate Cemetery – Douglas Adams

✓ Dine at Rules – London’s Oldest Restaurant

✓ Enjoy Steak & Eggs at Coffee Cup in Hampstead

✓ Touch a Roman Wall

✓ Walk on Tower Bridge

✓ British Museum – Rosetta Stone & Elgin Marbles

✓ British Museum – Sutton Hoo

✓ National Gallery – two Vermeer paintings and a new favorite Van Gogh

✓ British Library – the Magna Carta, original lyrics by The Beatles

✓ Tower Church

✓ Westminster Abbey – Aphra Behn, Dickens, Hawking, Darwin, and too many kings and queens to count

✓ Ride a River Bus

✓ Cutty Sark

✓ Royal Observatory

✓ Caryatids at New St Pancras Church

✓ Kings Cross – Platform 9-3/4

✓ Admiral Lord Nelson Monument

✓ Walkers of Whitehall Pub (George)

✓ Taste Bitters Beer

✓ Punting on the River Cam in Cambridge

✓ Visit a 12th Century Church

✓ Walk to a 16th Century Pub

✓ Have tea in a local’s kitchen

✓ 221B Baker Street

✓ Old Cheshire Cheese Pub

✓ Dinner at Rules Restaurant

✓ Yeoman Warner’s Tour at the Tower of London

✓ Dickens Inn at St Katharine’s

✓ Amathus in Hampstead

✓ Clothes Shopping in Hampstead

✓ “SIX” at Vaudeville Theater ( The wives of King Henry VIII each tell their own story.)

✓ Tour Churchill War Rooms

✓ Dine at King William IV Pub

✓ British Museum – Tower Church Tile Victorian G47 14thC G47

✓ British Museum – Viking Sword from Temple Church G41

✓ British Museum – Lindow Man G50

✓ British Museum – Egyptian Mummies G63-64

✓ Proper Fish & Chips at Marquis of Granby Pub

✓ Jive Aces at Ronnie Scott’s

✓ Fish Pie at St George Tavern

✓ State Rooms Tour at Buckingham Palace

✓ St Paul’s Cathedral – Duke of Wellington, Admiral Lord Nelson, Christopher Wren, and lots more

✓ Ham & Eggs and Chios at Ye Olde Watling

✓ Shipping stuff home from UK Post Office in Hampstead

✓ One more Fish & Chips at Coffee Cup in Hampstead

Now we’re nearly packed and ready to depart tomorrow morning after one more Continental Breakfast at La Gaffe. We’ll Uber to Waterloo Station and take the train to Southampton for an overnight before we embark on the Queen Mary 2 for our westbound Transatlantic voyage to New York. Hopefully we’ll visit the Titanic Exhibit at the SeaCity Museum there.

But we already have plans to return next year so we may still be able to experience some of the adventures still on our wishlist.

◦ Cocktails at Winter Garden

◦ Hampton Court

◦ HMS Belfast

◦ Fortnum & Mason est 1707

◦ Statues in Leicester Square

◦ William Smith Map at The Geological Society

◦ Jersey Boys at Trafalgar Theater

◦ Kings Cross – Nigel Gresley Statue

◦ Kings Cross – Ice Well in Canal Museum

◦ Secret London Walking Tour

◦ National Maritime Museum

◦ Museum of London Archeology

◦ The Brunel Museum

◦ Farmers Market – Parliament Hill

◦ Permissive Footpaths

John Harrison and the Marine Chronograph

Late in the morning this past Saturday we trekked out with Amanda in search of a light meal and adventure. After getting some takeaway from Ginger & White, proceeded to some benches outside St John’s Church in the center of Hampstead. As we munched our sandwiches and listened to bits of conversation around us, we became fascinated with the famous burials in the churchyard here. But the story that has reached out and pulled us in is that of John Harrison. Born in 1693 in Yorkshire in the north of England he was a self-taught carpenter and clockmaker. When he was twenty-one Parliament passed the 1714 Longitude Act and set the course for Harrison’s life as he set off on a quest to build an accurate marine chronometer. We learned much more about him and his quest when we visited the Royal Observatory at Greenwich on Tuesday. Ultimately he developed four timepieces dubbed H1, H2, H3, and H4 and although never officially won the prize offered by the 1714 Longitude Act he was richly compensated for the development of the H4 near the end of his life and is recognized as having solved the problem of determining longitude at sea. Then 250 years later, he earned a spot in the Guinness World Records for designing a clock that lost only 5/8 of a second in a 100 day trial!

Full English Breakfast

It’s a cultural experience, certainly not a daily ritual for Brits or anyone else, but the Full English Breakfast is a delightful and truly filling meal. Along with Fish & Chips and Bangers & Mash, it’s a traditional meal served in most of the pubs and restaurants we’ve visited. That said, the food scene in London is quite diverse. Crave Asian? Indian? Mediterranean? Italian? French? Just walk down the High Street in any neighborhood. But we’re here to taste the British foods we read so much about. We’ve tried the Steak & Kidney Pie, Sticky Pudding, Scotch Eggs, Treacle Tart and more. We did a proper Afternoon Tea aboard the Queen Mary 2. But we’re still on the lookout for more ways to expand our experience and hopefully not expand our waist measurements!

Fish & Chips at Old Cheshire Cheese, the oldest pub in London
Bangers and Mash with Black Pudding
Steak & Onion Pie and Apple Sausages & Mash at Westminster Arms
Chicken Schnitzel & Chips and Bangers & Mash at Walkers of Whitehall

P.S. Thanks for bearing with us as we pour our energies into experiencing London. Time enough later to document our adventures here. Be on the lookout for more posts.

Fifty Years Ago

We’ve been celebrating all year, partied with family and friends in May, and most recently sailed across the Atlantic to celebrate our 50th Anniversary today here in London, England. We chose Rules, London’s oldest restaurant for our celebratory dinner. Everything was fabulous from the cocktails, to the Steak & Kidney Pie, to the Sticky Pudding, to the service. And we topped it off with Cognac once we got back to La Gaffe. It’s been wonderful way to celebrate our fifty years together. And yes, we plan to keep on celebrating all year long, and next year, and for years to come.

We arrived in Maiden Lane half an hour before our reservation
So we made a visit to the Shrine of Corpus Christi

Then enjoyed a fabulous meal with very attentive service.

Welcome to Hampstead

Disembarking at Southampton Ocean Cruise Terminal we found Amanda waiting for us. She quickly booked an Uber ride and shepherded us to the taxi pick up lanes. Next stop, the train station. We booked an anytime return ticket and almost immediately we were aboard the South Western Railway 10:40 train to London. Just two hours later we were arriving at Waterloo Station and transferring to the London Underground Northern Line toward Hampstead Station. Next was the short uphill trek to La Gaffe to check in at what will be our home for the next four weeks. In the lobby as we three shared a pot of tea Amanda guided us through the installation of an UK SIM card in one of our phones. From there we ventured down Heath Street to Mani’s Cafe just off High Street for some lovely salads at an outdoor table. We followed this with some amazing, potentially habit forming, gelato at Venchi, then back to La Gaffe where Alex mixed us a round of custom cocktails. It’s been a fabulous day hopefully foreshadowing good things to come as we settle into making the village of Hampstead our home for four weeks! Thank you Amanda, Giuseppe, and Alex for the wonderful welcome.

Transatlantic Crossing

It’s a first for us, a transatlantic sea voyage and our first trip to England! Although we’ve cruised quite a few times, this is different. Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 is an ocean liner rather than a cruise ship. She was purpose built for transoceanic travel and has provided us an amazingly smooth passage from New York to Southampton, England these last seven days. On this journey every day has been a day at sea filled with so much opportunity for excellent food and drink, invigorating long walks along the deck, fabulous lectures, quality entertainment, opportunities to make new friends, chances to stay up much too late or stay in bed way too long. There were so many wonderful choices that we weren’t able to take advantage of them all. We’ve truly enjoyed traveling Cunard. It’s a fabulous tribute to the golden age of sea travel. Not only that, it’s a gentle way to travel across five time zones. We set our watches forward one hour at noon most days. The two of us relished the opportunities to learn about various aspects of British history in World War II, take a virtual tour of the Tower of London, delve into some royal genealogies, and learn about the search for inhabitable eco planets, as well as enjoy the only planetarium at sea. We danced to the sounds of the Big Band era, conversed with friends to the sounds of jazz, savored traditional Afternoon Tea, and explored various international foods. Now we are docked in Southampton and ensconced in our stateroom waiting for our turn to disembark, to meet Amanda by the pier, and to get connected to wi-fi to publish this and to get back in touch with the wider world.

Fabulous immense artwork gracing the far wall of the Brittania Restaurant
At our table for two in Britannia
Harp music in the Grand Lobby
Treated ourselves to a Sheltered Balcony for this special occasion
Amazing artwork everywhere
Missed any opportunity to have someone take our picture on the first Gala Evening
Spent an inordinate amount of time in the Planetarium and the Theater for great lectures and shows.
Where’s Homer? One of a few Easter Eggs aboard QM2
An opportunity to cut a rug one night in the Queen’s Room
Jazz Trio in the Chart Room
Gala Night II
Jimmy served us beautifully
Our Aussie friends at dinner.
An Anniversary Gift of flowers champagne, and chocolate truffles were waiting as we first entered our stateroom.
Admiring the Commodores Cufflinks aka the spare propellers on the bow deck
They are purposeful, not just modern art.
Wild Mushroom Haggis Croquette – delicious!
Fabulous culinary artistry
Fog one day, rain one day, but a lot of beautiful weather.
Deck Seven was great for walking laps
In Southampton at last. Time to move on to the next phase of this adventure.
It’s been a wonderful experience and we’re glad to know we’re scheduled to travel on QM2 two more times!

Brooklyn Cruise Terminal

It’s here! It’s finally here! After a breakfast from the 9th Ave Gourmet Deli at the corner and some great coffee from Arvaci next door then making sure we were packed and ready, we summoned an Uber ride and enjoyed chatting with our driver. Now here we are at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, checked in, and waiting to be summoned to board. Got disappointing news this morning, friends we expected to see on board have had to reschedule their trip, we’ve promised to raise a glass to their future adventures. Now we’re about to hear the call us for to board. Let the party begin! Life is an Adventure!

Follow the Queen Mary 2 on Cruisemapper.

More photos later but we want to post this before we sail on under the Verrazano Bridge and lose our connectivity until next Friday.

One Day in The City

To minimize the risk of travel delays interfering with embarking on the Queen Mary 2 tomorrow, we scheduled our train ride into Manhattan so we’d have two nights before making our way to the ship. We did experience a two hour Amtrak delay due to severe flood damage in Vermont but arrived finally at the spiffy new Moynihan Train Hall. We easily followed signs for the most convenient exit and walked to our hotel on 37th Street where we flopped on the bed. One of our delights was reading all the thoughtful comments posted by you, our readers, thank you! Today we wandered the streets oh New York. We started with Omelettes at Westway Diner and enjoyed Fish & Chips at Tailor Public House before heading back to our hotel room. In between we concentrated on wandering Midtown. We’re saving opportunities like theater and museums for later and concentrated on enjoying today’s beautiful weather in outdoor spaces. We did venture into the Port Authority Bus Terminal and delighted in seeing the bronze statue of Ralph Kramden, Jackie Gleason’s character from The Honeymooners out front of the terminal. It was cool to walk past B&H Photo on 34th Street. We’ve been online customers of theirs for years. We wandered from 34th & 9th to 50th & 6th, just a tiny section of Manhattan but with the skyscrapers, delis, food trucks, St Patrick’s Cathedral, Rockefeller Center, Times Square, 42nd Street, shops along Diamond Jewelry Way, and Broadway it was a great way to score more than 13,000 steps today. Now stay tuned. Tomorrow we’ll make our way to Pier 12 at Red Hook and head east from there!

Great Omelettes at Westway Diner to fuel us for a day of wandering the streets of New York.
History is everywhere. Where we ate breakfast today was the birthplace of The Seinfeld Show according to Seinfeld.
Jackie Gleason as his NYC bus driver character
Just one of many construction projects in the middle of the city.
Iconic NYC location!
Loving the sculptures
Rockefeller Center Ice Rink in Summer
And of course a selfie is in order
The focal point of Rockefeller Center
The facade of the GE building at Rockefeller Center
St Patrick’s Cathedral
Fabulous artwork facade.
Window shopping in the Diamond District.
Fish & Chips and Guinness at Tailor Public House.
It may be “So 20th Century” but our grandkids like receiving post cards. And there’s one more for CJ since she was with us on our prior visits in 2001 and 2002.

Manhattan in the Rain

Let’s start by saying that we were warned. As we stood in the queue on Deck 3 of Queen Mary 2 awaiting our turn to disembark in Brooklyn, both our phones and those of dozens of other other passengers issued a shrill alert. Flash flooding in NYC especially in Brooklyn. But we all hoped it wouldn’t affect our plans to get ground transportation to Manhattan or wherever we were bound. We blithely gathered our luggage and passed through US Customs and wandered outside the terminal. We gathered under a shelter with others awaiting Uber and other rides. We experienced three denied attempts for an Uber pickup before we learned that all the roads surrounding the cruise terminal were underwater. At that point we joined at least a hundred other fellow travelers and made our way to the ferry terminal just around the corner. On the fly we downloaded the NYC Ferry app and bought two fares while we waited in the rain for the next boat to arrive. We packed in like sardines but made it safely to Pier 11/Wall Street in Lower Manhattan. Along the way we learned that many of the subway lines were flooded. We used Apple Maps to plot a walking route and ultimately walked the entire 4.2 miles through the rain with our luggage to our hotel. We decided early to call this an adventure and make the most of it. We did at one point decide to go ahead and call an Uber for the final 1.4 miles but then in indignation chose not to when we realized it would cost nearly $50. We trundled on along the sidewalks of New York and across granite cobblestone intersections. We saw delightful neighborhoods we might never have ventured into otherwise. We passed Ground Zero and the new towers. We’ve decided that next time we leave on a cruise from Brooklyn, we’ll stay in the Financial District and take the ferry over to Brooklyn. It was interesting to show up with rain running down our faces at the Hilton in Midtown, but we made it and truly appreciated the comfort of our room after the trek. This was definitely an “Oh, Shucky Darn” that became an adventure, and will be a story to be told around a campfire or during cocktail hour aboard a cruise ship! Life is an Adventure!

Five Weeks Flew By!

So much has happened since our last post. We’d love to go into greater detail about every adventure but it’s time we got you caught up to where we are now. Hopefully we’ll do a better of job of timely posts going forward. It was way back on Tuesday July 11th that we arrived at Big Rock Campground west of Chicago with the intention of staying one night at this beautiful campground that does not take reservations. We’re not shy about attempting a stay at a “first come” campground if we’re arriving early in the day mid-week and not close to a holiday weekend. It definitely paid off this time. We had our pick of a multitude of campsites and immediately decided to stay a full week. Not only was it a great place for long walks, and we certainly did not take advantage of all the trails through areas of savannah restoration, but it served as a great base for exploring some off the beaten path historic sites.

We had great views of restored savannahs as we walked the trails at Big Rock Campground

In Ottawa, Illinois we visited the Ottawa Historical and Scouting Heritage  Museum. We sought this museum out because we both have strong family histories in the scouting movements but were delighted to learn more about this historic community on the Illinois River.

Then we stopped for lunch at the Bull Moose Bar & Grille in Sandwich, Illinois. The restaurant features the dining car that served President Theodore Roosevelt from 1900 to 1913 and has been at this location in Sandwich since 1931.

The next day we trekked to Dekalb, Illinois to visit the Ellwood House. The guided tour gave us some fabulous insight into the invention of barbed wire in the late Nineteenth Century and into the life of Isaac Ellwood, the entrepreneur who turned Dekalb into the barbed wire capital.

The Ellwood House in DeKalb housed three generations of the Ellwood Family before being donated for the purpose of preservation and education.
Some of the earliest barbed wire was invented in DeKalb where Issac Ellwood set up the first barbed wire factory.

A couple of days later we headed back to Ottawa to soak up history in Washington Square Park, the site of the first senatorial campaign debate between Stephen Douglas and Abraham Lincoln on August 21, 1858.

The Lincoln-Douglas senatorial race debates ultimately played a major role in Lincoln’s successful presidential campaign two years later.
The interpretive signs help visitors understand the historical importance of that day in 1858.
Washington Park places major emphasis on that first debate.

Next we headed to the Wisconsin State Fair RV Park. It was our first fairgrounds camping experience and it worked wonderfully for us. Shortly after we arrived we walked the short distance to Liquid Johnny’s where we enjoyed some good food, good beer, and people watching. We then spent two days in the area with our friend Marlis. Our adventures were wide ranging starting with a delicious breakfast at Yemas Family Restaurant then exploring the grounds at the Dousman Stagecoach Inn Museum in nearby Brookfield before heading to the Basilica known locally as Holy Hill, with an amazing history, an amazing structure, and an amazing view especially if you are brave enough to climb to the top of one of the spires. To finish off the day’s adventures we headed to Pewaukee, Wisconsin to stroll the charming downtown shops across from the beach. On day two we headed into downtown Milwaukee stopping first at EE-Sane Thai-Lao Cuisine for a lovely experience. It’s been a fave of Marlis’ for years. Then on to Colectivo Coffee Cafe to view the preserved 1888 pumping station. While we were along the lakefront we walked the mile long breakwater and watched the sky as the Blue Angels rehearsed for their show the next day. Wow! Then on to the Milwaukee Art Museum. Just the architecture itself makes it worth the trip not to mention the quality of the couple of galleries we had the energy to peruse thoroughly, Sandanavian Art and American Art. On our way out of downtown we passed the location of Rainbow Summer. We didn’t get to the the iridescent balloons inflated but we did see where they would glow later that evening.

The basilica is most inspiring.
And the view from the top is breathtaking.
It’s always fun to have a friend as a local guide.
The preserved pumping station in the center of a coffeeshop was a reminder of how we’ve progressed in technology and environmental stewardship in these last hundred years and more.
It was fabulous to see the Blue Angels perform and not have to be in the midst of a great crowd.
What a treat to visit the Milwaukee Art Museum on the shore of Lake Michigan.
They had great collections of traditional American art,
and some offbeat modern art. The “man” to the left of Steve is an art installation!
The Wisconsin State Fair Park was gearing up for the fair but the RV Park was a pleasant place for our stay.

Our next destination was Prairie Edge Farm outside of Madison. Our friends Mary & Jim have spent the last several years lovingly restoring this farm that dates back to the 1850’s. We were delighted to be able to moochdock near their barn, spend some quiet time with the two of them, enjoy watching “The Girls”, their flock of chickens, participate in their annual big outdoor party, dance in the amazing second floor ballroom in their barn, and just marvel at their prairie restoration.

What a treat to be hosted by Jim and Mary on their farm as they hosted a spectacular picnic style party for her birthday.
We started the visit with a Friday night fish fry at the local watering hole, The Pickle Tree Restaurant where we saw our mutual friend, Vicki!

The second floor ballroom in the barn is spectacular. It serves as the center for the local dance community.
Our moochdocking space outside the barn was so very convenient and comfortable.
We were astounded at the large gathering of family and friends! It was a great chance for us to reconnect with friends of ours from the dance community.
While we were out to breakfast the newest member of the chicken flock at Prairie Edge finished hatching!

After that we spend two more nights at Big Rock Campground, three nights at Forrest W. “Bo” Wood Campground on Lake Shelbyville near Sullivan, Illinois where we scored Site #7 with a view of the lake. That’s where we had an awning adventure when a rogue gust of wind pulled out some stakes and bent the arch pole of our Isabella awning. Using the picnic table and bench as a crude jig we did manage to regain enough of the original shape to be able to use the awning again at a later date.

Our campsite at “Bo” Wood on Lake Shelbyville was lovely, but the gravel didn’t give us a strong purchase to really stake down the Isabella awning. We ended up having to take it down shortly after putting it up.

Next stop was a weekend visit with CJ and Phil in Bloomington, Indiana. We camped in their driveway, got an introduction to 3D Printing – CJ’s new hobby, and headed into downtown a couple of times for dining adventures at Malibu Grill one night and the Irish Lion the next not to mention a foray into Soma Coffeehouse and a stop by a limestone disk on the courthouse lawn commemorating the time back in 1910 when Bloomington was the Center of the United States population.

CJ invested in 3D printing equipment about a year ago. She demonstrated her skill by printing us a couple of fidget rings and toys.
One night we went in search of a speakeasy bar but found it to have no vacancy so we enjoyed some local brews instead.
An obscure little limestone disk commemorates Bloomington’s 1910 status as the Center of the US Population

Then after an overnight at the Richmond KOA Holiday in Richmond, Indiana we were back at Pier Lon Campground near Medina, Ohio for ten nights. From there we rendezvoused with Dave, Amy, and girls three times, took care of some personal business, and started packing for the next adventure.

One evening we ventured into Akron to meet up with family at a First Friday celebration. We especially enjoyed the reception we got at the D-Bo’s Food Truck when we ordered Pulled Pork Nachos!
We enjoyed our forays into Medina to take care of some personal business and the just explore the town some more.

On Friday we started heading east. We stopped at a couple of Harvest Hosts sites. Friday found us at Mound Grove Golf Course in Waterford, Pennsylvania as guests of Stephanie & Ed who now own and run the golf club and restaurant located on land that’s been in the family for a hundred years. After decades as a potato and dairy farm it was converted into a golf club in 1993 by her father who opened the restaurant in the 1860’s barn two years later.

As members of Harvest Hosts we were welcomed to spend the night at Mound Grove Golf Course.
And as part of the deal we became customers when we enjoyed some great salads and beer. That was followed by fun convtersation with fellow travelers.

The next night we ate, socialized, and slept at the Prison City Taproom and Brewery in Auburn, New York.

And as Harvest Hosts guests at Prison City Taproom we had some great food truck sandwiches and beverages and hobnobbed with fellow full-time travelers camped near us.

Finally we overnighted at Country Aire Campground in the Berkshires in Charlemont, Massachusetts. A full hookups site there gave us the chance to drain all of our water tanks before heading to Greg’s driveway in Greenfield, Massachusetts where we’ve been enjoying a chance to visit with the kiddos as we put finishing touches preparing the trailer to sit idle for six weeks and to finish packing our bags. Tomorrow we’re off on The Next Adventure!