Weeks 4-5: You Connect, I Cut

It’s been a while, but we’re back with a travelogue covering Weeks 4 and 5 of our epic road trip, which we spent in Jake’s home state, the great and tiny Connecticut.  This will be a long one, so buckle in (assuming you’re also reading from a driveable house), and prepare for an exciting game of that classic Connecticut Rochambeau variant:  Rock, Beach, Mosquito, Goat, Double Bus Explosion.

Black Rock State Park

The first stop in our CT odyssey was Black Rock State Park, located in Thomaston.  We stayed at the nice RV park across the street, but hiked at Black Rock for two days – which unfortunately happened to be two of the hottest days of the year.  The trail was rocky, full of mosquitoes, and at one point appeared to lead through an electrical substation, but it did have a satisfying view from the top.  Overall, we rate the park “sweaty.”

We did not have a car, and moving the RV around is not that easy, so after our hike we needed to walk somewhere to get a late lunch.  Amusingly, the closest restaurant was actually a new location of Senor Pancho’s, a Mexican place which originally opened in Jake’s hometown, Southbury, CT.  Senor Pancho’s’ food is notoriously terrible, so their business model always seemed to be “don’t check IDs.”  That business model has apparently been successful enough for three locations!  As legal drinkers who have tasted actual Mexican food, we wisely chose instead to walk about fifteen minutes in the sidewalk-less heat to a nearby restaurant, Rozzi’s, for a pretty good lunch.

Next time, buddy.

We also met up with Nothing Mundane’s official sister, Kate, and her friend Tanya, along with Tanya’s cute new baby Kennedy.  We neglected to take any pictures, so you’ll have to take our word re: cuteness.

Hammonasset Beach State Park

Next up was Hammonasset Beach, a state park on the Connecticut coastline where the cool kids partied back in the day.  It’s probably the only Connecticut public beach worthy of the name, as the others tend to use “rocks” instead of “sand,” although there are no real waves since Long Island steals them all.  We had a great time at Hammonasset, which suggests we may ourselves have now become cool kids (doubtful), possibly since we get to go to the beach instead of going to work.  We also got to visit with some of our friends and family still cruelly forced to live in the CT.

Our favorite part of Hammonasset was the sunsets.  With beautiful hues of orange, pink, and lavender, they looked like God had thrown up Gatorade and a Yankee Candle all over the sky.  So romantic!  We took pictures, but some things just need to be experienced.

Hopeville Pond State Mosquito Sanctuary

After Hammonasset, we continued our eastward trek, spending some time at Hopeville Pond State Park, an obscure park near Connecticut’s eastern border.  It was fairly overgrown and had very few other residents, possibly because there were no flush toilets.  We, however, scored one of the few sites with an electrical hookup, and so had the unique pleasure of laying in our comfortable, air-conditioned RV, drinking french-press coffee and using our computers and watching TV (more on that later), while the people around us lived in tents, attempted to make fire, and used what was basically an outhouse.

Friends, we are living the good life here.

The only downside of Hopeville Pond, aside from the infrastructure, is that – and this cannot be said properly any other way – there was just a shitload of mosquitoes there.  We tried to hike into a nearby state forest, but the mosquitoes were so thick that even an irresponsible amount of bug spray did nothing to keep them away.  There was an actual cloud of them following each of us.  The huge amount of flying insects also supports an equally huge amount of spiders, so the narrow trail was full of spiderwebs, lined up right at mouth level.

You may not be surprised to learn we did not complete that particular hike.  What you may be surprised to learn (we were!) is that a cloud of mosquitoes will follow you forever, through the woods, out onto the road, and even down the road, and they do not care if you you walk quickly and then jog and then run.  They do not care even if you just start sprinting, confusing the passing cars and especially your own body, because mosquitoes are Liam Neeson from Taken mixed with vampires.

We probably will not be back to Hopeville Pond, but we did snap a few pictures of the forest in between swats.

Niantic, CT

While in eastern Connecticut, we stopped to see Jake’s dad, who was gracious enough to put us up for a night and let us store some stuff at his house.  He also spent a few days helping us with some RV fixes and enhancements, using a technique we hadn’t tried called “actually being handy.”  The sweetest of these was figuring out a mounting system for our 55″ television, which happens to fit perfectly onto the long shelf in our tiny bedroom.  (We take it down to travel.)  The result is getting to watch what feels like a huge screen while laying in our own bed, an experience you can’t get at the big chain cinemas without a lot of negotiation.

While staying with Jake’s dad in Niantic, we stopped at a very cool place called the Book Barn, which features a huge number of books (they claim over 500,000) spread across numerous buildings (some across town).  The main compound is extraordinarily whimsical, and includes a small tower, fairy garden, faux cemetery, chalk body outline in the crime section, goat petting zoo, and about 1000 things more.  It’s weird and awesome.

All bookstores should have goats playing “king of the hill” with a large plastic castle near the fiction section!

Bonus:  We saw what can only be called a “double bus” in a parking lot in Niantic, and no, there was not really any more explanation than that as to why it was there.  As for the explosions, well, maybe Heather added them in, or maybe they actually happened spontaneously in real life because Jake is so damn awesome.  We’ll never know for sure.

But it was probably the second one.

What’s next:  Currently, we are in Massachusetts near Boston, and we just finished buying a car to tow behind our RV!  Now we just need to install the parts so it is actually towable… We’re headed to Maine and New Hampshire tomorrow.

Obligatory social media self-promotion:  If you want to follow along and you haven’t yet, please Like us on Facebook and/or follow us on Twitter (@NothingMundane) and/or Instagram (NothingMundane) to make sure you get all the updates.  We’re also in the market for a deranged stalker; please glue your application directly to our door.

Shamefully missed a prior update?  You can catch up below; we’ll keep your dirty secret in the meantime.

Next Post: Week 5: Underwater


Week 3.5: A Casino, An Art Park & A Lake

Howdy folks!  We slipped on our posting schedule a bit and now have a backlog of travels to get through, so here’s a heads up that this is going to be a longer post.  Lucky you!

A Casino

When we last wrote, we were in the magical hobbit land of Watkins Glen State Park, which we left to spend a night at the (theoretically) magical gambling land of Turning Stone Casino, in upstate New York.  Turning Stone actually has a fantastic RV Park, which just so happens to offer free shuttles to the casino. For some reason, they seem to want to attract well-to-do elderly folks with plenty of stuff in their car to pawn as necessary.

Now, we may not be elderly or particularly well-to-do, but we’re always willing to take a free shuttle bus ride.  So, showing the same business acumen that lead to quitting our career track jobs in NYC to buy an RV, we got dressed to the nines on a Wednesday night and headed in.  It turned out the core demographic was more “sweatpants-wearing chain-smoker and problem gambler” than “swanky cocktail party,” but hey, we didn’t go on this trip just to play by everyone else’s rules.

And friends, once we made it in, we hit it big.  As in, we made enough money from playing our favorite slot machine (Kitty Glitter) with our $10 voucher that we nearly covered the cost of tipping the driver for the free shuttle bus ride!  Of course, we also paid for a nice dinner there, but whatever – gotta spend money to make money.  It’s an investment.

An Art Park

After collecting and then immediately disgorging our winnings, we headed to Albany to visit Jake’s Grandmother and Aunt.  Along the way, we decided to make what turned out to be a not-so-quick stop in Cazenovia, New York to check out Stone Quarry Hill Art Park.  We didn’t know about it before it popped up in one of our “things to do” apps, but it turned out it was recognized as #2 in National Geographic’s “Top Ten Sculpture Parks and Trails.”  The park was only about 30 terrifying minutes away by motorhome over small mountain roads, and it was definitely worth the trip.

The park was created over decades by Dorothy and Bob Riester at their summer home, and currently is home to several artists in residence. The park is huge, beautifully maintained, and completely open to the public ($5 suggested donation).  Cool, funky sculptures are sprinkled throughout the park, accessible by carefully cultivated paths through forests and tall grasses.  We were there for several hours and only got a taste of the park, but what we saw was pretty extraordinary.  We would highly recommend anyone in the area take a look, or just follow along with our captioned tour below.

A Lake

After the art park, we made it to Albany and took a boat ride on Lake George in upstate New York.   We went with Jake’s father, aunt, and grandmother, and spent the entire time hanging out at one end of the boat because they had a DJ (why??) and that DJ was incredibly, almost aggressively terrible (again, why??).

Luckily, they served beer, so everything worked out in the end.  Below are some photos.

While we were in Albany we also got to play with these guys and test out our skills at photographing animals. We don’t think it is necessary to say just how many other photos we took trying to get a good picture of these energetic pups. So we’ll just say hooray for digital film!

What’s next:  Currently, we are in Connecticut near Hopeville Pond State Park, honing our profound hatred of mosquitoes.  Tomorrow, we’re going to spend the night at Mohegan Sun Casino – we’re coming for you, Kitty Glitter!  We’re then spending a week in Rhode Island at a private RV park to try to get this website in better shape.

Obligatory social media self-promotion:  If you want to follow along and you haven’t yet, please Like us on Facebook and/or follow us on Twitter (@NothingMundane) and/or Instagram (NothingMundane) to make sure you get all the updates.

If you like what you see, we would be very grateful if you could share with your friends.  Friendship is fun!


Week 3: Watkins Glen is Magic

To start off Week 3 of our roadtrip, we spent 3 nights camping at Watkins Glen State Park.  Watkins Glen is a jewel of a park located about 30 miles west of Ithaca, NY, where we stayed in Week 2.  It is rated #3 on USA Today’s list of Best State Parks in the United States, and it totally rocks.

Watkins Glen seems like the sort of park that hobbits would build, with a hiking trail that wanders through a beautiful, steep-sided gorge, handcut stone walls and bridges, sparkling waterfalls, and even a lily pond.  The trail is cut into the walls of the gorge itself, and it goes much closer to the water than you normally can at these kinds of parks.  Possibly this is because the park was first built in the 1860s, before we had the word “safety.”  (As you will see in our photos, the park also features what can only be described as a “pre-ADA number of stairs.”)

Whatever the reason, the park is frankly breathtaking.  Rather than try to describe it further, just look below at some of the many, many pictures “we” (OK, Heather) took at the park.  There are captions on some of them if you click through the gallery.  Keep reading after the gallery for a few bonus pictures and some shameless self promotion.

Bonus stuff:  The campground at Watkins Glen State Park was fantastic, with generous camping sites nestled beneath gigantic trees.  Our neighbors were slightly insane, but aside from that, it was as good as it gets.

After hiking, Jake successfully made a “fire,” cementing his place as one of history’s greatest heroes and outdoorsman.  We made s’mores and high-fived ourselves for going on this trip.

On our last night in Watkins Glen, a huge thunderstorm was forecast to hit us dead-on, but luckily just missed to the south.  This was good, since the lightning we could see from our window was enough to scare anyone.

Following the storm, the sky – which, at 6 o’clock on a bright summer day, had gone almost as dark as night – lightened into an amazing sunset.  Heather endured many, many mosquito bites to photograph it for you, so be sure to feel appropriately appreciative.

What’s next:  We’ve had a few adventures since Watkins Glen which we’re going to write about separately, including trips to a ridiculously cool sculpture park and Lake George.  Currently, we are in Connecticut near Black Rock State Park, where it is rocky and extremely hot.  Later this week, we’re traveling to Hammonasset State Park to get our beach on.

Obligatory social media self-promotion:  If you want to follow along and you haven’t yet, please Like us on Facebook and/or follow us on Twitter (@NothingMundane) and/or Instagram (NothingMundane) to make sure you get all the updates.  If you like what you see, we would be very grateful if you could tell your friends and online advertising buyers about us.

If we get ten more followers, we’ll buy one of you a puppy!  So, please check for packages regularly.


Week 2: Ithaca is Gorges

After the numerous short stays we wrote about in our week 1 (ish) travelogue, we decided to try to spend a full week in one location in order to reduce the number of times we had to drive our RV.  We headed to Ithaca, New York, a place where we lived from 2005-2008 while Heather got her Masters in Architecture from Cornell (ever heard of it?).  We loved living in Ithaca, especially during the summers, and our wedding was at the Ithaca Farmers’ Market in Fall 2011.

A lot has changed in Ithaca – R.I.P., Chapter House and Ithaca Commons – but the Farmer’s Market is still there.  The last time we were there we were dressed a tad more formally, but aside from our clothing, it looked pretty much the same.

We spent the week staying at Taughannock Falls State Park, bookended by visits to a nearby commercial camping site.  State parks are cool and very cheap, but they usually have minimal hookups – Taughannock actually had an electric hookup, so we didn’t have to run off the batteries, but there was no permanent water or sewage access.  There are different ways to deal with this, but our approach so far has just been to stay at a commercial RV park from time to time to replenish some tanks and, umm, dump the others.  Traveling in an RV is glamorous!

Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls was very pretty, and we did both the gorge trail and rim trail.  According to Wikipedia (always a good start to a sentence), the Falls are “the tallest single-drop waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains.”  The last time we were here we thought it was a little puny – too much length, not enough girth (nudge nudge) – but there has been a ton of rain in Ithaca lately so it was looking quite swollen.

We hiked for two days in this area and took a ton of pictures.  We also have a new gallery add-on on our website to show them off – let us know what you think!

Ithaca Falls

We also stopped by Ithaca Falls, a criminally underrated waterfall very near the Cornell campus.  As we said, there has been a lot of rain lately, so the Falls looked spectacular.  We took some wedding photos here four years ago, so we’ve got a comparison shot that illustrates it pretty well:

Some bonus photos below.  We included a short video so you can see the huge amount of water that goes over Ithaca Falls.  Despite being older than thirty, we managed to upload it to Vine!  But not before making a typo which now appears to be impossible to fix.

Cascadilla Gorge

Since we were on a tour of our previous wedding photos locations, we also stopped at the bottom of Cascadilla Gorge, which has a cool trail that runs from Cornell into town. Let’s compare with four years ago!

There were at least THREE differences between those two photos.  Did you spot them all??

A few more pics:

Buttermilk Falls

The final stop on our Ithaca picture tour (a.k.a. our “use up our mobile data from uploading tour”) was at Buttermilk Falls, a smaller state park just outside Ithaca proper.  The rain was a little less evident here, but the pools and rock formations were as cool as ever.

Being in Ithaca for the week was a lot of fun, and we loved seeing some old haunts and familiar faces.  Right now we’re in Watkins Glen State Park, which is a truly beautiful and unique place where we took SO MANY more pictures.  We hope you like waterfalls!


Week 1 (ish) Travelogue

Hey everyone!  We’re officially at the 1 week, 4 day mark of our journey (we left officially on Tuesday, June 30), and wanted to catch everyone up on “the haps.”

So far, it’s been busy, but exciting.  Most of our first week was spent staying only 1-2 nights in each location, which was too quick.  Turns out we brought way too much stuff with us, and it all needs to be stowed (semi) safely before we drive the RV around.  Plus, driving a thirty-one foot motorhome through small towns in upstate New York filled with crazy drivers and sharp turns has not been, umm, relaxing.

So, we’ve modified our approach.  We spent this whole week in one place:  Ithaca, New York, where we lived for three years (an increasingly-embarrassingly time ago) and also got married (same).  Of course, for variety’s sake and because we failed to plan ahead, we have had to change our campsite three times this week.  Here’s how we got here:

Day 1:  Frantically move everything into RV with help from Jake’s mother.  Sleep in a Wal-Mart parking lot and buy some sketchy Wal-Mart groceries – including an avocado which, 11 days later, has not apparently ripened in any way.  Horrifying, yet intriguing.

Day 2-3:  Stay at a resort-y type RV park which is painfully expensive but does have availability on extremely short notice.  Experience culture shock when RV park residents engage us in a way that would be completely inappropriate in Manhattan, for example by saying “Hi.”  Crazy!

Side note:  there were SO MANY people just sitting in chairs outside here.  Not talking.  Just sitting, and staring.  (And judging.)

Day 4:  Stay overnight at our friend Joanna’s parents’ house in Red Hook, New York.  They were wonderfully hospitable and Joanna and her brother, Andy, took us on a tour of the area that included some gardens at Bard College, a diner, and Cards Against Humanity – a five star evening.  Thanks Longcores!

Day 5 (July 4th):  Hang out with the Longcores a bit little longer, see Jurassic World (verdict:  “enh+”), stay overnight at another Wal-Mart, and get excited because we totally nailed the parking.  (Our RV juuuust fits in a pull-through parking spot with about a 1 inch margin on every side – see image above.)

Then, realize around 1 a.m. that the nearby fireworks stand in said parking lot is not actually planning to close that night.  Further realize that teenagers are apparently tailgating the fireworks stand, and that their version of tailgating involves only yelling and revving their engines as loudly / often as possible.

Day 6:  Drive to Ithaca, stay at a commercial RV park.  Along the way, stop to see an old friend in Binghamton, and his new friend.

Since then, we’ve been staying in Ithaca, mostly at Taughannock Falls, a state park near Ithaca with a beautiful waterfall and two nice hiking trails.  This post is too long already, but we’ll update again soon with some pictures from Week 2.

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