June 10, 2019

Well, THAT was Fun! (Random Thoughts on Our Recent Journey)

We’re back.  Alan and I just spent a little more than 3 weeks on the road beginning in mid-May, the result of a MAJOR revision to our travel plans early in the year.  You can find the full story on why the vacation we took was not the one we originally intended to take in a post from February entitled, Our Spring Travel Plans Went Right Out the Window” (link HERE).  But let me just say here and now that, although it was an extremely busy vacation, it was also an extremely fun-filled one, too.

Because we both came back to a really long "To Do" list, we’re scrambling to catch up on both business business and personal business.  It took me a full day just to wade through the piles of laundry and sort and prioritize the mail.  I have no medical background, but I do understand the concept of triage, and I can assure you that there was plenty of that this past week.  Since we’re still playing catch up, I only have time for a quick post.  So, I’d like to simply share with you some random thoughts on a vacation that felt kind of like a variety show, along the lines of the old Ed Sullivan Show.  For those of you who are too young to remember the show:  It appeared on TV every Sunday night from 1948 to 1971 and was hosted by (guess who!) Ed Sullivan.  The various acts that appeared included singers, dancers, comedians, acrobats and circus acts – if it was a legal form of entertainment that could be fit into a ten minute time slot, it probably appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show.  And I’m so sorry you missed it – it was a classic.  But, I digress.  As I was saying about this vacation, it really did feel like a variety show because we enjoyed such a, well, variety of people and activities.  I’ll be returning with future posts that contain more details but, for now, I’d like to share some random thoughts and observations on our most recent adventure . . . 

·         Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida were the states we focused on during this trip, although we didn’t stay long enough in any one of them to really do the state justice.  The big event was a week-long stay at Fort Wilderness Campground in Disneyworld, but our shorter stays at other locations were just as sweet.

·         What really made this trip a special one wasn’t so much the places we visited, but the friends and family members we got to visit with along the way.  Our cast of characters included grade school and high school friends, church friends, Alan’s brother and sister-in-law plus our own two kids and our bonus kid (our son’s girlfriend).  It was quite a crew – and quite a trip!

 Just prior to our trip, we installed a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) made by Truck System Technologies (TST).  (We had purchased it earlier this year when there was still snow on the ground and we couldn’t get to the tires of our travel trailer.)  We had one little glitch during the installation, but the system worked perfectly on its maiden voyage and we like it a lot.  I’ll report more details on the TST TPMS in a future post.  For now, suffice it to say that it gets a “thumbs up” from both of us.

Five adults spent almost a full week in our 32' travel trailer at Fort Wilderness and, thankfully, everyone survived.  Who would have thought?!

·       Disney does many, many things right (really right), but there are some things that could use a bit of improvement.  (I can see that one sentence leading to a very long post in the future.)

·         U. S. Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds continue to be some of our favorite places to stay.  The facilities are nicely designed, situated in beautiful water-based locations and are well maintained.  We camped in two of them on this trip – one in Tennessee and one in Florida - and would return to both of them in a heartbeat.

·         Our first experience with the Georgia State Park system was wonderful.  We stayed at Crooked River State Park in St. Marys, Georgia, for only two nights and I really, really wished we had been able to stay longer.  (Why does St. Marys not have an apostrophe?)

·         I saw enough alligators and crocodiles on this trip to last me a lifetime.

·         I’ve come to the conclusion that my relationship with “Samantha,” the GPS unit in Alan’s truck, will always be fraught with tension.

·         I will be extremely happy when one single transponder will be able to handle every toll road in every state.  I know the technology exists and that’s what makes this situation especially annoying.

·         Speaking of technology, we saw the neatest thing on one of our travel days . . . A DOT maintenance guy was directing an independent mower deck via remote control as the mower cut the grass on a small, sloping section of land adjacent to an interstate that would have been too steep and dangerous for someone to attempt with a riding or push mower.  Impressive!

·         Remembering to bring water and snacks along with us in the truck ups the chances for a good day exponentially.  I’m not even sure that’s the proper use of the word exponentially, but I’m sure I’ve made my point.  And I’ll bet you know exactly what I mean.

·         Now that our kids are young adults and we’re no longer planning our vacations around school schedules, we’re remembering why we always loved traveling in the “shoulder” seasons of spring and fall – fewer crowds in the tourist hot spots, lower prices, not as many cars on the road and quieter campgrounds.  Sweet!

·         And last, but certainly not least . . . There is ALWAYS room for Krispy Kreme!

June 03, 2019

I'm Adding "iRV2" to My List of Favorite Places!

Anyone who enjoys the RVing lifestyle knows that RVers are some of the friendliest people around.  They thrive on sharing travel stories and are quick to offer a good tip or even some hands-on assistance when needed.  That's why I love poking around on forums designed specifically for the RV and camping lifestyles.

May 16, 2019

It All Started with the Family Picnic

Regular readers may recall that I use my local library a lot, and the benefit I appreciate the most is being able to request a book or movie from any of the locations within my regional library system.  When you live in a small, rural town with a tiny little library, the ability to request an inter-library loan makes a huge difference in the amount and type of material available to you.  Of course, the larger the library system, the more people who can request books so, sometimes, I end up waiting weeks or even months for something especially popular.  But patience is a virtue and my patience was once again rewarded when I was finally notified that the most recent edition of “100 Parks, 5,000 Ideas” had been delivered to my local library for me.

The book is a beautiful one, thick with ideas and enticing photographs, but what struck me and stayed with me was author Joe Yogerst’s very first sentence in the book’s introduction:  “I cannot imagine my life without parks.”  It actually stopped me in my tracks because I realized at that moment that the sentiment he voiced applied to my own life, as well.  In giving it more thought, I realized that, for me, it all began with the Family Picnic.

May 02, 2019

Knowledge is Power – and Sometimes it Translates into Cold, Hard Cash, Too

Did you know that April was Financial Literacy Month?  No, wait!  Don’t go!  Yes, this is an RV lifestyle blog, but bear with me, please.  In fact, because this is a longer post than usual, you may want to grab your favorite beverage and settle in . . . Many of you know that my employment background is a combination of finance and human resources, and I can tell you that my affinity for numbers has been a huge benefit on countless occasions throughout my life.  Anyone involved in the RV lifestyle knows that RVs don’t come cheap, a dependable tow vehicle or toad (towed vehicle) is critical and travel expenses can add up rather quickly.

I read an article about Financial Literacy Month a couple of weeks ago.  Just before that, I had been giving a lot of thought to some conversations and situations that had recently occurred in my personal life, and this seems like a good time to share them.

April 16, 2019

Ausable Point Campground - Adventures on Magnificent Lake Champlain

Last fall, Alan and I enjoyed a short camping trip to State Parks in Vermont and New York that were completely new to us, followed by a week at a waterfront site on our beloved Great Lake Sacandaga.  I detailed the first leg of the journey in a recent post about Half Moon Pond State Park and our adventures in the Vermont countryside (link HERE).  Our family time at the Northampton Beach Campground on Sacandaga was covered in a post back in October (“I Just Love these Guys to Pieces” - link HERE).  So this post is the third and final one recounting the time we spent on the middle leg of our journey, camping at Ausable Point.  I know that was completely out of order but family always comes first! 

When Alan and I left Half Moon Pond State Park in Fair Haven, Vermont, we turned our wheels westward and made our way to Ausable Point Campground in Peru, New York.  To say that we were excited about this next stop would be an understatement.  Since we are campers and boaters, the opportunity to camp directly on the shore of Lake Champlain held a huge appeal and we were most definitely looking forward to our first stay at Ausable Point.

April 09, 2019

Celebrating National Park Week 2019 – Why It’s Impossible for Me to Choose a Favorite Park

National Park Week 2019 runs from Saturday, April 20th, through Sunday, April 28th, with a “fee-free” day on the 20th to kick off the week of celebration.  Other “fee-free” days during 2019 are August 25th (the birthday of the National Park Service), September 28th (National Public Lands Day) and November 11th (Veterans Day), so mark your calendar accordingly.  Spring is a perfect time of year to get out and enjoy our national treasures, and many of our National Parks have special events scheduled during the week.  Plus, the National Park Service has assigned a theme to many of the days during National Park Week such as Junior Ranger Day on April 20th and Bark Ranger Day on April 27th.  (Yes!  Some National Parks and Monuments do allow pets!)  National Park Week focuses on the beauty and benefits of these glorious public lands – OUR public lands - and the countless opportunities that exist for us to enjoy them.

Photo credit:  www.nps.gov

Many of you know that our love affair with our National Parks began back when Alan and I honeymooned by tent camping across the country on a journey to visit several of the iconic Parks in the American West.  Currently, there are 61 National Parks in existence, but properties managed by the National Park Service number 419 and include National Monuments, Battlefields, Military Parks, Historical Parks, Historic Sites, Lakeshores, Seashores, Recreation Areas, Scenic Rivers and Trails, and the White House.  We’ve made a dent in that list, but we still have a long way to go to see them all.  (Interesting tidbit of information:  The largest National Park is Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska at 13.2 million acres, and the smallest is the Thaddeus Kosciuszko Memorial in Pennsylvania at 0.02 acres.)  With all of those Parks to choose from, (okay, Mike, I admit it should be “from which to choose”), the question that inevitably comes up is, “Which National Park is your favorite?”

March 23, 2019

Half Moon Pond State Park - Fall Explorations in Vermont

Last summer, the push was on to complete a major construction project at one of our rental properties.  Hoping we would be done by late August, but not knowing whether or not we’d actually be able to complete the project by then, Alan and I made no camping plans for the spring or summer of 2018.  However, if all went well, we would be free to take some time off in the fall.  I was reluctant to plan any type of extended or complicated vacation because I had visions of cancelling numerous reservations if the construction project wasn’t completed when we expected it to be.  So, the decision was made to shoot for a couple of State Park visits within a full day’s drive from home.