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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A change in plans

 
While a sunset is beautiful over Lake Erie, I've discovered a sunset over a small pond in a meadow is equally stunning. This particular pond is the view from our new home away from home. That's right, Ron and I took our camping experiment to the next level earlier this week....we purchased a beautiful Class C motor home! Ron calls me Camper Girl, and that just about nails it. Paulette remarks that only a few years ago, I didn't even like to sit on our back porch, let alone, sit in a meadow!
 
 
Bob thinks it will blow over in a year, but, I am betting that it goes the other direction, this camping, traveling thing. Ron seems just as enthusiastic as I am. Paulette is bitten by the bug, and I don't mean mosquito, so, we think Bob better just throw his golf clubs and fishing rods into the rig and go along for the ride.
 
I was settling in for a year of rv hunting, ordering books on motor home reviews, scanning the Internet for camper reviews,  planning trips to rv dealers, and at the same time, keeping my new membership to the Tincan Tourists, a vintage camper clan, front and center as well.
 
Yet, all along, my girl was just up the street, waiting for me to take her on the road. Earlier this spring, when the rv idea was starting to grow as my idea of a retirement incentive, I spotted this beauty in the driveway of Don and Laura Notestine. It was still cold and damp, but, I mused about the adventures the family must be planning for the months ahead. Whenever I drove by, I glanced to see if she was still there. On Thursday (can it only be 4 days ago?), she was facing nose out toward the street. Wow, I thought, I bet the family is getting set for their first trip of the summer! Then, I noticed the for sale sign in her window!!OMG!! As I was on my way to a luncheon, I couldn't stop. I was in a hurry to get back to work after the lunch and couldn't stop then either. After work, I headed over to Paulette's for a glass of wine and asked her to look in the Classified section of the paper to see if an rv was listed for sale.....it wasn't! We looked at each other, set the wineglasses down, and said, let's go look at it! Ron, btw, was at home, setting up the grill for a dinner, knowing none of the above.
 
 
One hour later, she was ours! Here she is, at her new seasonal site, at Gotta Getaway, near Bellevue, Ohio. Jackie Lang, longtime staff member at the Library, and her husband, Paul,  bought the campgrounds last fall and we are thrilled to be part of their dream.  Paul, for years the head chef at the Cawtawba Country Club, took the leap to campground ownership and I can imagine how proud they must be to own 26 acres of beautiful meadows and woods. This is the perfect spot for us to settle into a gentle learning curve before we head out this fall for Asheland, N.C. again.
 
Don and Laura were gracious, generous, and very supportive as they gave us their treasure. The 2008 Jayco Greyhawk 31ss has just 4,300 miles and is, for all intents and purposes, brand new. Vacation Land Credit Union, aptly named, matched me with Shelly Luipold, a lender/friend, and by the end of the day, we were ready to hit the road with Bob and Paulette for site 75, a corner lot in the meadow!  Paulie, ever the hostess, brought champagne, hummus, and crackers, and we celebrated in high style until way past our bedtimes on a work night.
 
Next on the agenda:  find a similar rig for Paulette and Bob.....the plan is in place.....let the camping adventures begin!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Camping recap

No photos, just a summary of our best ever vacation. I loved having the 25th anniversary as our focus for trying out camping, and the focus of retirement options was a great focus as well.

The only way we could get out of the campground was knowing  that we were returning in 4 months. I just can't describe how happy we were with the whole experience and how much we are looking forward to future expeditions.

Our drive back was a bit dicey. We left later than expected due to fog. We were further delayed by a terrible rush hour traffic in Cincinnati. We arrived home at 10pm, a 12 hour drive. I stayed in the camper in the driveway, with Jack and Marilyn. We reluctantly returned the camper the next morning and Ron stowed everything back in place.

Stay tuned to our further explorations into the world of campers. jb




Monday, June 3, 2013

Walkabout

This morning's view from our rig before the sun came out to show us a sunny day.

 
We counted 9 campers in residence on Sunday. This included 4 tent campers. All campers left the campgrounds for a day of exploration, leaving us the only ones on the 110 acre site. We ate breakfast outside, under the awning and in the screened porch, while the rain came down around us. 
 
Trying to fight off laziness, we decided to explore the campgrounds during a break in the clouds.
 
 We looked at the tent sites, the yurt sites, the cabin sites, and enjoyed the flowers in the woodlands. It is pretty hilly, so I had to pause more than I thought I should have to, and had to remind myself that the only "hill" in Sandusky is the railroad underpass on Columbus Avenue, at that is the excuse I told myself!



 In the afternoon, we read, I helped teach a neighboring camper how to knit, and,we read some more.
This is truly a vacation in every sense of the word. Today, Monday, is our last day here. We decided to stay at our site again all day rather than explore the area. We have to return the car to Enterprise at 5, make our last campfire dinner, and commence packing for an early departure tomorrow morning. The Biltmore will have to wait for another time.
 
We plan to make the return trip in one day, traveling I 75 instead of retracing our path. So, are you wondering if we would do this again? The answer is absolutely. In fact, we're making reservations to return in October and hope to convince Bob and Paulette to travel with us. We'd like to rent the Class C 24 to see if that is just as livable and easier to drive as part of our  continuing the research toward a purchase. Of the 4 couples we've chatted with here, each of them recently purchased a trailer (not an rv) and pull it with a large pick up. Two couples were from Georgia and two were from North Carolina. They are either recently retired, or, in the process of retiring within the next three years. Baby boomers all. That might mean that there will soon be thousands of boomer campers hitting the roads over the next few years! Buy stock in rv/camper manufacturers.
 
Last night we watched The Long, Long Trailer (1954) starring Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, directed by Vincenti Minnelli. The stars play honeymooners who purchase a 40 foot three-ton home and take it to Colorado. Let's just say we could relate to quite a few of the gags in the skit! We'll probably watch Robin William's RV again when we get home to bookend two great camping movies and intend to search for a few others to round out a collection. Gotta get to my needlepoint, knitting, spinning, reading, and hiking now. Thanks for checking in. jb
 
 
 
 


Sunday, June 2, 2013

Asheville,North Carolina


 
 
The home of Thomas Wolfe is one of the points of interest that we saw while riding on the trolley tour of Asheville a few days ago.It was a warm and sunny day on Saturday and the town of Asheville was humming with tourists and locals. Our first impression was that the area was very much like Duval Street in Key West after the cruise ships disembark passengers for the day. There were street musicians on street corners and the bars were busy in the afternoon. We met our new camper neighbors for lunch at a pub on Lexington Avenue. Ron got a gumbo with alligator and I got a kale salad. On the  trolley tour we learned the history of the town, which was a tourist center in the early 1900s. Our guide told us that Mr. Grove, a compatriot of Mr. Vanderbilt, designed the city to resemble New York City, and many Hollywood films have been shot here for the 1920s ambiance of New York.
 
We headed back to camp in the late afternoon and I spent some time spinning (yarn, not the bicycle) while Ron assembled the ingredients for salmon with roasted vegetables. Yum. This was another meal cooked over coals wrapped in foil.  As our site is the best for views of the sunset, we met a few more neighbors, one of whom asked if I knew how to knit. She was thrilled when I offered to spend an hour with her to get her restarted with the craft and we made plans for Sunday afternoon
 
We made it an early night, snuggled into our abode, and enjoyed reading while listening to....silence!
Sometime in the early morning hours, we awoke to the lovely sound of rain on our roof. As anyone who knows me can attest, I love a cool rainy day, and I drifted back to sleep happily  anticipating  a rainy day at the campground.
 
 
 
 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

camping bliss

The sunset from our campsite (P8 at www.campfirelodgings.com ) was awesome. It seemed strange that such a sight was totally quiet. Our bed is comfy and the cool mountain breeze contributed to a great night's sleep for both of us. So much so that we had to rush to get ready for our horseback riding reservation in Marshall at Sandy Bottom Trails. We didn't have time to find the directions, so a quick call to Paulie as our personal gps set us on the road. All of the photos that follow are taken while riding the horse-no stopping. I often just held the camera aloft in my RIGHT hand, holding the reins with my left and hoping for the best. Furthermore, I did a great job of editing the photos and then they seemed to have disappeared in the computer somewhere. Giving up, the photos you'll see are UNEDITED. Sorry about that!
 

 

 
 
 
 

Our 4 hour ride was led by "Wild Bill," a 72 year old retired power company worker who has lived in this area for his entire life. Married for 48 years, he now enjoys retirement....a theme that resonates with me in this idyllic setting.

After an hour of riding through the most stunning scenery I have ever seen this close up, we ambled down to a defunct garnet mine, last mined by Tiffany's in the early 1900's. Pick ax in hand, I followed our guide's suggestions and hammered away and found several large perfect garnets and many small ones, too. I, who hates to get my hands dirty, scraped at the dirt, tossed out stones, got blisters for my endeavors, and could have stayed there all day!!! I admit, it was also a change to rest my legs, or rather, my knees, before getting back on Becky, my horse. Ron's horse, George Bush, was a solid rider, but, my was skittish if another horse got too close to her. For part of the ride, the ranch's resident dogs, Peanut, Hillary Clinton, and Jeb, ran along side, often diverting up and down the countryside, into the nearby streams and back to us again. Neither of us have seen dogs running free and it was a delight to watch their antics.


 
We rode over 500 acres, covering 10 miles of trails, up to mountain tops and down into valleys with streams. We stopped to have a quick pb&j snack before heading back to the corrals at 2pm. When we got back to our rv, we took a long nap. As you can see, even Peanut was exhausted.
 
 I am happy to report that this morning I feel great-both knees are functioning and there are no signs of being saddle sore, either.