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Friday, May 31, 2013

Nirvana



 
I am telling you the truth when I say this is the view from our campsite!!!! Isn't it fabulous? Before I tell you more about it, let me fill you in our our travels to get here. We left Martin and TJ's at 7:45, after sharing a cup of coffee/tea and discussing what we were each reading lately. Martin was reading Dicken's Martin Chuzzelwit and Tanya just finished Gone Girl. Ron is reading Without a Trace, which is about 8 lost ships and their fates. I'm reading  Untouchable, the strange life and tragic death of  Michael Jackson. Reluctantly, we bid our dear friends goodbye. Martin drove ahead of us and led us onto I77 south and turned off at the next exit. We were ready to see what West Virginia was like.

TJ suggested that our first stop could be at Tamarack, just outside of Charleston. It is a big craft center featuring artists in their studios, such as glass blowing or pottery. I bought a few watercolor note cards and a child's illustrated book of John Denver's song, Take Me Home, Country Road-with cd. As we drove along, we had earlier mentioned his song, so, it was a perfect purchase.

At our first gas station en route, along side of us was a fellow on a Harley. He looked us over, and I remarked about the contrast of how light he was traveling compared to us! He said he was just thinking the same thing and asked where we were from. When we told him we were from Sandusky, Ohio, he said, "I love Sandusky. They have a great bike gathering in June that I go to every year."

We told him to look for us on our lawn next Saturday, when we sit parade style in our yard and wave to all of the bikers as they pass. Small world, getting smaller every day.

Ron couldn't quite make it to the first stop, so, we pulled into a rest area and I chatted with the other rv'ers parked near us. One was driving the Class A Forest River Georgetown, made by the same company at our rental. I commented that Ron felt ours was  hard to handle and that cars seemed to pull up fast along the drivers side. The Class A driver said that seems such because the driver's seat in a Class C is further left of center than a car or his rig. Also, the A sits up higher and you don't get that sensation from that height. They were from Riverside, Ca, right near my family in Temecula and heading south in their brand new motor home. He highly recommended it over his Fleetwood, because of service, and they also decided to turn in the Mercedes diesel, as the cost was too high.( we're getting 6.5 miles per gallon, by the way).

We arrived on schedule at our campground in North Carolina at 4:30 and managed to get into our site without any problems! After setting up camp, we made hotdogs (mine was vegan) and hamburgers, cooked baked beans at 10 pm. We were both exhausted and ready to try out the sleeping quarters of our rv. The cool breeze and quiet was the best possible end to an already super day.

I'm experiencing technical difficulties (Samantha, I need you!) so ignore the photos below for my next blog.





Wednesday, May 29, 2013

On the Road, or Travels with Ron

 Ron and I were ready by 9 and decided to head out to pick up the RV early. The dogs seemed to know something was up and they were too distracted to eat breakfast.  We had time  before our 11 am appointment  at the Neff's RV Rentals, and took a route via a stop at Starbucks. Below is a photo of Bill Neff explaining the sewer particulars to Ron. We spent a good hour learning all about the outside of the RV, the Ford F10 truck features, and every piece of equipment within our "home."



When Bill pulled our rig out of storage, Ron and I both thought it seemed a lot bigger than we expected and we had grave doubts that we were up to the challenge of driving it out of the lot, let alone driving it to Asheville, N.C.!!! Ron gamely jumped in the driver's seat and drove toward Sandusky and I followed in our truck.  At the Rt 250/Rt 2 exit for Sandusky, Ron turned left instead of toward Sandusky and I actually thought he was headed back to the dealer to turn in the rig!

Instead, my geographically challenged husband decided to take a less traveled route back to the house instead of joining the Cedar Point traffic. Pretty smart, I thought.

The loading of the RV was really a snap. I had already planned out what would go where, and Ron actually let me direct the effort every inch of the way. Paulette, Samantha, and Lindsey stopped by to check out the rig and neighbors Diane Ernst and Debbie Phillips stopped by for a tour as well. At 2:45 we hit the road for our first stop, Marietta, Ohio, where we were staying with friends.

While Ron got used to driving the rig, I tried to figure out the built in gps unit, which is also a radio, cd player, ipod dock, dvd player and more. Guess what. I asked Ron to stop at the Amherst thruway truck stop just 40 minutes into the trip. He actually thought I was joking, but, I was getting car sick from the truck's swaying motions and my reading of the gps instructions. Yikes. Ron suggested we head back to Sandusky and get the other car and I could follow him to Asheville. NOT.

After a few minutes rest, some cold water, and tons of A/C, I felt well enough to head on our way. We dug out our own gps and gaining speed,  headed down Rt 77 south, arriving in Marietta around 7.



 
It was great to see Martin and Tanya at their lovely home.  Martin and I were in the same class at Kent State in 1977 earning our Masters in Library Science. Tanya, already working as a branch manger of the North Branch of Akron Public Library, sponsored my practicum at her library. So, we go back a looong way and always have tons to catch up on. We took a tour of the area, stopping at river's edge. Actually, if we had dipped our toes in the Ohio River, we would have been in West Virginia, as that state owns up to the river bank on the Ohio side of the river.
 
Back at their driveway, we discovered that running the generator was too loud for the quiet neighborhood and we headed inside for our comfy guest suite. The best way to camp, I'd say!
 
We head out for our 400 mile drive to North Carolina at 7am. Our ETA is 3:00 at the campground, followed by a 4:30 pickup from Enterprise Car Rental for our wheels for the weekend. So far, so good, you guys!
 
 I

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Early morning bike ride in Sandusky


 
For the past two days, I've taken a bike ride in the early morning. Really early for me. 6:30 a.m. early. This requires a great deal of stealth on my part. I have to wake up very, very quietly, and very gently step around the dogs without waking them. This has worked for Marilyn and Kate, but, Jack raises his head, looks at me, then settles back into the pillows. They think I'm just getting up for a bathroom break and will be back in a minute. But, instead, I quietly put on my bike gear and tip toe out of the house, heading to the garage. So far, so good. No barking! 
 
A 5 minute ride takes me to the Sandusky Sailing Club. I kept my sailboat here from 1977-1986.  I sold it to a fellow who has yet to take it out of his backyard. The boat is a 19 foot Victory Sloop, made in 1947 and purchased for me by my dad when I was 16. 
 

 
 
Heading to the other end of the waterfront is the Shelby Street Public Boat Ramp. This is near the coal docks, shown above. Yesterday there was a freighter there from Canada. Today, the train cars filled with coal were being readied for the next freighter. Ron used to row his Little River single shell here. It is smooth water in this area when the fishermen aren't racing out and about.
 
In between the east and west waterfront areas I spotted this fire boat. I don't know if it is visiting, or if it is located here. The guys were heading to the boat, armed with coffee carryout mugs when I rode by.
 
I stopped to check out the waterways that used to be used for barges, but are now bridged to a series of slender parks.
 
Loving KW as I do, I did a double take when I saw the Key West Sandusky sign at one of the boathouses! I bet the owner resides in KW, FL in the winter and KW, OH in the summer.

Here is another shot of the boathouses. Many of these have nice apartments located above or beside the boat garages, some of them in use year round. This circle tour takes me about 45 minutes if I add some side loops in parking lots and up and down some residential streets and is turning out to be a nice way to start the day.

Just as Ron and I head to Asheville, N.C. for our camping expedition, I'm reminded that the best place to take a vacation is right here in Sandusky. Maybe next year, I'll remember to book a "staycation"  here. How about you, home or out? which will it be?

 
 
 
 
 



Saturday, May 4, 2013

Camping obsession

It all started with a conversation at breakfast a few weeks ago. I mentioned to Ron that I'd like to go someplace to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. We discussed Key West, our favorite vacation destination, UP of Michigan, a place we've never been before, or Seattle. Then I suggested we consider renting an RV. I'd already investigated renting a vintage camper and discovered that just doesn't happen. I can see why no one would want to share their vintage gems. I thought we could find a vintage camper rally and just chat with various owners about their tiny rigs. In any event, we googled renting an RV and discovered a rental place just 20 minutes away.

Thomas Wolfe's writing muse draws upon his life in Asheville, N.C.


 We hopped in the car and headed over to inquire about renting a for a week in June. (I learned that we were looking at Class C rv's. Their calendar was already filling up, but an early June booking was open! The 2014 campers had not yet arrived from the Forest River factory, so we had to wait a few weeks before we could see what we had rented.

I found a dealer that sells the same model and convinced Bob and Paulette to go with us to see a variety of models. The salesman was very informative and commended our choice of rental. We suggested that if all goes well,  we'd be back next spring to talk about purchasing a new one. After we arrange for a second house mortgage...these rigs are not inexpensive! You can get a 20 year loan and if it has a toilet, shower, and kitchen, it is a tax deductible purchase. Oh yeah! I was already California dreaming, and headed for the Rockies.....fiber festivals here and there, and early retirement was calling my name!

Kate wants to go with us. And most campgrounds accept petso n a leash. At this point we hadn't determine where to take our first adventure, but, we picked up some campground directories and learned about the various amenities of RV camping. 50 amp/sewer/city water hookups, camp stores, swimming pools, game rooms, golf cart rentals and so on.

Allie wants to go, too. She hasn't ventured outside since the day we brought her home, but, she looks out the windows of the house and reproachfully notices the dogs go in and out and in and out and....

 
Jack is already in the cab! and Marilyn want to be wherever I am. Always and forever.
Having NEVER driven with Ron longer than 4 hours, and that was for a 3 hour drive, I knew it would be a challenge for him to take a real road trip. In the spirit of wedded bliss, he cheerfully gave me free reign to select our location. I first considered Charlottesville, Va. where Paulie and I traveled last fall. Then I remembered some of the white knuckle winding roads through the mountains and thought that might not be such a great idea for our first ever 31 foot truck camper drive. I looked at the coast of Virginia, eager to see the wild horses of Chincoteague and decided it was too restrictive for camping with pets.
 
I researched the Smokies, the Poconos, the UP, and we poured over atlases and maps together. I eliminated most campgrounds as being too citified, which I was beginning to learn is the nature of RV "camping". Others were naturally geared to family activities, some were too close to Interstate highways, or other conveniences that I doggedly (get it) wanted to avoid on our first time out.
 
Ron's only request was to have access to a campfire for cooking (this, when we have a microwave, 3 burner stove, oven and full refrigerator/freezer on board) and at the top of my wish list was a VIEW from the campsite and enough space not to hear camping neighbors snoring, watching TV, and /or other activities. Ahem.
 
I finally found the perfect (I hope) location near Ashville, N.C. And so it begins. My obsession with camping. I started a list, read the RVer's Bible (twice), the Idiot's Guide to RV Camping, and guidebooks on North Carolina, and have begun a staging area in our dining room! Here's the plan. Pick up camper at 1:00, get a one hour instruction on......hookups, flushing, running the A/C, chemicals needed in the commode, how to back up and level a camper, use the automatic awning, slides, and generator, ....and, head back home to load 'er up, hit the road by 5, and drive at least 3 hours south (no sense in breaking our driving distance record) yet.  Stay tuned for blogs on the road, I think the campsite has free WIFI. Oh, we haven't decided yet about taking the rest of the family. I'm not sure we're ready to add that to our camping learning curve yet.