First Time at The Book Barn

As many of you know Lee and I love real books. But since we read them and donate them we try to usually get good prices and used book stores and thrift stores are our favorite places to find them. Over the years we have been to used bookstores all across the country, so when Lee mentioned the Book Barn I was all in. I was expecting a pretty standard used book store, but boy was I surprised. First of all it is not one building but several and in mutitple locations throughout the town of Niantec, CT.

I should have known it was something special when we pulled up and the parking lot was full. Not only that but there was a line of people waiting to drop off books and they had multiple people working the station where they paid for the books they received. The books store claims to own 500,000 books and from what I saw that may very well be possible. Better still almost all paperbacks were only $1 and hardbacks mostly ranged from $4 – $7. Those prices were fantastic and when I wondered how they could make a profit with such low markups, Lee said “Volume”. Which is probably true.

Right off the bat I walked into the $1 hardback section and it was hard to get me out. I loaded up on cookbooks and took them out to the car and then kept looking around. The property was surprisingly large and had several smaller buildings, a kids play area, a garden, and live goats.

The main building was a bit of a disappointment, but I did think the labeling on the shelves was great. It was mostly reference material but I couldn’t find any of the books in the genres I like.

There was tons of staff, but despite that I did have some trouble getting my questions answered. It turned out that my two favorite genres were actually located in separate buildings in different parts of town which to be honest annoyed me. I was going to not even go see but Lee talked me into it and I was so glad he did. Not only did I find the largest collections (and I do not say that lightly) of fantasy, science fiction, and paranormal novels I have ever seen but everything was $1. It was really fantastic and the employees at the annexes were much nicer than the main building. They were experts in the genres and made some great recommendations on new authors to try. I was in heaven.

One good thing about going to the annexes was we got to see more of the town. They had some beautiful seaside inns and a nice restaurant (fantastic clam chowder) along with an Italian bakery. I really enjoyed the small town of Devens, but the Book Barn is the definite draw. If you are ever in the area and love books like us I definitely recommend it just make sure you give yourself plenty of time because it is quite the adventure.

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First Time at Wesleyan College

I haven’t talked about this much, but one of the main reasons Lee and I were able to become fulltime RVers at such an early age was because we didn’t have college debt for ourselves or our daughters hanging over our heads. Lee never went to college but instead joined the military right out of high school like his mother and father before him. My two oldest daughters did go to local colleges for some credits, but both primarily worked in the restaurant industry and school wasn’t a huge priority for them. My youngest looked at her options and since she wanted to become a linguist joined the Air Force and spent 6 years as a Korean linguist in the Air Force. These choices allowed Lee and I to stay out of debt (my college was paid for primarily by my employer) which was great, but we never got the traditional university experience that many people have with their children.

Fast forward to last year and our youngest left the military and entered Wesleyan College on a full scholarship through the Posse Foundation, which takes military leaders and supplement the GI bill so they can go to more expensive schools. Wesleyan is considered a “junior ivy” and we were both thrilled when she was accepted into the program and that college. Unfortunately due to COVID restrictions we couldn’t visit her at all last year, but this year we finally made it to see her school. I was lucky enough to attend a university when I was younger and live on campus so I understood the college experience, but this was a first for Lee and the environment was as foreign for him as our visit to the Air Force base was for me.

We started with a tour of the campus to get acclimated and I have to say it is huge despite only having around 3,500 students. It is also interesting that the buildings are so diverse, because the school has added on over the years (or bought up surrounding property) and the buildings are all very different. It was also a beautiful, crisp autumn day when we walked around and there was a live football game happening which added to the fun. It was everything a university should be in my opinion, but let me just show you with my pictures.

One of my favorite buildings was the big library on campus which was absolutely gorgeous. They had extended the original building but left the façade inside which gave it a cool building in building look. Lee was suitably impressed by the stacks!

Kay did an excellent tour and it turns out that many famous people have gone to Wesleyan college. I was the most excited about Bill Belichick the coach of the New England Patriots, but Kay talked the most about Lin Manuel Miranda, the creator of Hamilton. He actually wrote the play In The Heights while he was a sophomore at the college and held dress rehearsals in one of the buildings there. Because the college has a well renowned film department there are also many other alumni including Joss Whedon and Michael Bay. It was cool to see the areas of the school that were dedicated to its alumnus in particular the dormitory where the writers of How I Met Your Mother lived as students. They included Wesleyan references in the TV show but I never really put two and two together until I walked the campus.

I loved that they added a picture of Lin-Manual next to former presidents of the school.
This is the dorm the How I met your Mother writers lived in

I would love to say I saw the entire campus but after around 12,000 steps I had to call it quits. We did see the major stuff though and the next day we came back to attend the monthly meeting of Kay’s campus Vets group. This group of young people from all branches of the service were really interesting to meet and I loved hearing about their experiences adjusting to campus life. Going from the strict military to an ultra liberal college campus is not easy for everyone and the group is about helping make that transition easier for people. I even made a big pot of chicken and noodles for the potluck and was glad I got to meet these people who were such a huge part of Kay’s life. We also got to visit Kay’s apartment and I finally met my grand dog Tonka. He is a rescue and a real cutie and her place is a nice apartment in college owned housing. Her roommate Elle is also a vet and a grownup and they seem to have a good thing going. Where to put vets is part of the problem as they don’t do well with the younger college students. They try to provide single housing or pair them up to help with the transition.

Lee and I are are excited about exploring the rest of the area and we have made a list. Kay has a pretty busy schedule but she will come with us when she can.

Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

Connecticut State Sticker

Before I jump into Connecticut, we had to get there, and unfortunately once again we had truck issues on the drive. The first day wasn’t terrible, but the second day we were back to little to no power when we went up hills. This led us to believe that we might have some sort of pinhole leak in the new radiator and the smell of burning coolant supported that. Thankfully engine temperatures did not require pulling over, but babying the engine did add time to the drive. The good news is the insurance company was extremely apologetic and agreed we could take the truck to a Ford dealer in Connecticut. We also learned that eventually we would be getting our $1,000 deductible back from the other insurance company which was welcome news as well. The hardest part of the drive though was Jack getting used to his new seat in the truck. He likes being up high and was not happy when he wasn’t eye level with us so we piled his two dog beds together and made a temporary solution. I told Jack that the grandbabies came first but he was unimpressed by my argument.

Jack being unimpressed by his new seating arrangement

Those of you who have read the blog for awhile know that we have criteria for when we get a state sticker. For us we not only have to spend the night in our RV in the state, but also do something unique to the area. As we are finishing our seventh year we are down to just a few states, but those have been super tricky to get. You would think it would be easy, as most of the remaining states we have driven through, but the coordination has been tough. Since my youngest daughter Kay is going to college in Connecticut I thought that one would be easy, but finding a place to stay was challenging.

We have spent lots of time with her sisters over the last two years, but because of her school COVID restrictions have not been able to visit. When Lee started looking for a place in Connecticut near her there weren’t a ton of choices and the later we got into October the worse it was. Finally I called a place that closed October 15th and explained our situation and asked if they could extend for us. It turns out that the campground has 8 full hookup spots that they leave open longer and the owner thought she might have a spot. Ultimately she took pity on us and squeezed us in and I was happy to pay $1000 in cash for the month. The spot itself is really huge and best of all there is a giant field that Jack can run in. The only downside is we are under walnut trees and the the loud crack of walnuts hitting our RVs is a little distressing at times. Still I was thrilled we found a place only 20 minute drive from our daughter and it is really beautiful.

Kay is going to Wesleyan College which is in Middletown, CT and I was surprised by how familiar the surrounding area was. When I used to travel for work, before we hit the road, I spent a ton of time in Berlin, CT which is right next door to Middletown. I was thrilled when I learned that a couple of my favorite restaurants were pretty close by and had a blast taking Lee to the Cromwell Diner and Puerto Vallarta Mexican restaurant. When you visit a place enough for work you get a favorite hotel and favorite restaurants and there was nothing better after a long day of working than pot roast at the Cromwell diner. It had been 8 years since I had been to the restaurant but it has the same owners and the pot roast tasted exactly the same!!

As we were roaming around I was hit with a wave of nostalgia and it was great showing Lee all of the places I knew in the area. I was particularly excited when we drove by Stew Leonards grocery store and Lee and I had to stop. One of the interesting things about traveling is all the different grocery stores we visit but NONE and I mean none is as unique as Stew Leonards. My best explanation is Kroger meets Chuckie Cheese meets IKEA. The grocery store has a path (like IKEA) and each section had cool animatronic characters and design. There are tons of employees, lots of in house made product, and videos that show how things are made. I would have loved to have taken my kids here when they were small and even though the prices are on the high side the entertainment value more than makes up for it. If you are ever in the area, please take the time to stop in. It earned our state sticker for us and is definitely a unique place.

We also were excited to find several disc golf courses in the area and Lee took Jack to one that was dog friendly. They had an absolute blast that day and as we all know a happy Jack makes for a happy family. Have I mentioned lately that it really is all about Jack? Yes I have become one of those people.

The best news is we are only 30 minutes from the beach and it allows dogs after September 1st. I missed the crashing waves, as the water is actually the Long Island Sound, but we did enjoy a beautiful walkway that meandered through the dunes. Going to places like this off season is the best because it was clear from the parking lot the state park would be packed in season. It was another nice way to see the area and a first for both of us because we had never seen the Long Island Sound.

All in all it was a great way to get our state sticker and next up we are touring the Wesleyan campus with Kay. It’s an absolutely gorgeous campus with a variety of architecture and definitely deserves its own post.

Lots of cool stuff for such a little sticker

Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
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Back Seat’s Back…All Right!

First off, sorry for the cheesy title, but I just couldn’t help myself. I’ll get to why it makes sense in a little bit, but first I need to catch you up. A lot has happened, so hold on! Lee and I rolled out of Columbus with our newly “fixed” truck, excited to be back on the road again. Unfortunately right off the bat there was a terrible accident in WV so we rerouted ourselves to head north towards Pittsburgh. Normally this would have been just fine, but about 2 hours into our day the truck started acting funny.

When we were going up hills, or really anytime the turbo should have kicked in, the truck was seriously lacking in power. Our choice was to keep going or head back, and for a variety of reasons, we decided to just keep going and see. The thermostat temps were OK, the truck was just a little sluggish and it wasn’t clear what the deal was. But we kept tackling some crazy grades and except for one stop in Pittsburgh to let the engine cool a bit things were stressful but OK.

It’s hard to drive when something might be wrong, but maybe not, and with the trailer its not like you can just pull over and find service. Since we knew Bill and Kelly were on the other end of our drive we thought it was best to keep going and finally made it to Hickory Hollow.

We love Hickory Hollow and not just because Bill and Kelly are there. It’s a huge beautiful campground with really nice owners and lots of space for Jack to run around. Jack was thrilled to see his friends again and Bill used his meter to check and see if we had an error code and discovered that the repair shop didn’t add enough coolant into the secondary coolant well. Turns out the truck put itself into a slower mode to protect itself due to the lack of coolant. Insanity but we were glad we made it and were cautiously optimistic adding the coolant would solve the problem.

Hickory Hollow is near the small town of Somerset, PA and since we had scheduled 8 days we decided to really check out the area. Kelly and I went to multiple thrift stores together and Bill and Lee went and played disc golf. We also ate at several really cool local restaurants and had campfires a couple of nights. One of the coolest places we went is called Bargain Clothing. It is only open 2 days a week and has stacks and stacks of new clothes. Insanity really, but Kelly and I had a blast pawing through all the stuff and looking for stuff in our size. We both found some treasures.

Another day we went to see the wind chime installation at the 9-11 memorial park. The chimes were not fully installed when we came last year and unfortunately there wasn’t enough wind (it needs to be 10-15 mph) for sound on this visit. It was still pretty though and we got some great pictures.

On the way back from the chimes though something really cool happened. We passed a salvage yard in Stoystown and it was huge. I have been looking for months in multiple cities for a back seat for our truck. Told you I would get there! About a year into being on the road Lee removed our back seat and put in his tool chest. Later this came out and he built a wooden stand for storage that let the dog sit up high. We never missed the backseat, and then we had grandkids. With babies you need a rear seat to attach the car seat to and the last couple of years it has really put a crimp in our taking Oliver places. This would also be an issue with Elliott so the seat became a priority.

Unfortunately new ones are $1,000 just for the part and I didn’t want to spend that much. Imagine my excitement after months of searching when Stoystown had one!!!. Lee went right away and it only cost $100 for the seat and then another $100 for the seatbelt hardware. $200 was a huge bargain and in a few hours we had a back seat again!!

Lee did an excellent job and we both felt that the universe was smiling at us. Now if the transmission fluid fixed the turbo problem we would be all set driving. We had a great time with our friends and were so grateful for their help but off we go to see our daughter Kay!

Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
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September 2021 Budget

Well, another hefty month of expenses. We had to pay extra for campsites with the truck accident, $100 for someone to move the truck to another site, and $1,000 on the deductible. We may get the deductible back IF the other insurance company will refund it but that is far from certain. This whole month was a bit of a mess honestly and we blew the budget in almost every category.

Dining Out – We took a ton of people out to dinner and ate out ourselves like crazy.

Home Repair – We bought two ice machines. One broke and we couldn’t get to a camping world to replace it under warranty. We also had to buy extra hoses and power cable to fit into our new site.

Truck Maintenance – This is the $1,000 deductible

Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

First Time Playing Disc Golf

While we were waiting on our truck to be fixed we found out that we had some extra time on our hands. It was nice because it gave us a chance to see more people from home and Lee had more time to play disc golf. For those of you who don’t know, Lee doesn’t play sports. That is not hyperbole. He doesn’t play ANY sports and that includes when he was a little kid. His dad put him in Little League when he was a kid and he spent most of his time sitting in the outfield day dreaming and playing in the dirt.

So it goes without saying I was deeply surprised when his friend Bryan (Noodle to those in the know!) talked him into trying disc golf and he actually liked it. Not only liked it but played numerous times (10!!!) and even bought the equipment. My curiosity got the better of me so I finally said I would go and play a round with him. I do play sports (varsity soccer in high school) but neither golf or disc golf is really my thing. Still if Lee liked it I was willing to give it a try and if nothing else it would be a nice way to get some extra steps in. Plus we could take Jack and since he had been pretty cooped up that appealed to me as well.

Turns out it was pretty fun. The frisbee part was ok (I did better than I expected) but the walk was beautiful. Just like regular golf there are harder and easier tees (we did easy) and there are different type of disc for short, medium, and long throws. This course had holes in the woods, by the lake, and in fields which made for a great walk.

The goal is to get the disc in the basket. The chains help stop it from overshooting, but you have to be careful or its easy to lose a disc
This was a super fun hole around the water
Jack drinking from a disc…that was handy

Overall I liked it and Jack LOVED it. The good news is there is an app that not only keeps your scores but also shows the many disc golf courses in any area. Lee played several while we were in Columbus but they are kind of everywhere. He’s lost 5lbs so far from playing and its a good way for us to get out and move. Plus Lee is finally playing a sport. How cool is that?

He crushed me 🙂

As I mentioned we also got to spend more time with family and friends. I didn’t take pictures of everyone, but I saw my college roommate Sandy, our best friends kids, and a friend of mine Dawn and her husband George. We also ate at at one of my favorite Mexican restaurants El Vaquero and I took advantage of the cool “honor system” farmers market across the street from the state park.

We also had lots of time for grand-baby facetime. Elliot is getting really big and Oliver started pre-preschool! I love the pictures we get from them and we talk at least once a week. Kat is moving into a bigger apartment and Kyrston is flying up to be with her for a week. I love that my girls are bonding over their babies and cant wait until we are all able to be together in one place.

Kat and Elliot. He’s going to be tall..look at those long legs

Finally, we got our truck and off we went to Pennsylvania to see Kelly and Bill. The bodywork looked fantastic, but the engine work was still to be tested. More on that next time!

All shiny and new!!

Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

Ohio Renaissance Festival

While we were waiting for the truck to be fixed, we decided to visit the Ohio Ren fest. In 1990, when we were newly married, someone built a permanent outdoor venue for a renaissance festival in the small town of Waynesville, Ohio. It seemed crazy at the time because there was next to nothing in this farm town, but it’s proximity to both Cincinnati and Columbus made the crazy idea work. Plus there were lots of people in our generation who loved cosplay (although it wasn’t called that back then) and loved to dress to come to the venue.

When our kids were small, we made the hour drive to visit the fest and although it was an expensive day it was always worth it. Many people we knew went religiously every year but for us it was only something we felt we could splurge on occasionally. Once we moved to New England, we never found anything quite like it, so it had been 20 years since we last visited.

We weren’t exactly sure what we would find but it turned out to be a great mix of the old and new. The structures were the same (although they have expanded the footprint by more than double) and the actors still greet everyone at the opening. After dropping Jack off with my dad for the day, we arrived about 15 minutes before they opened and were surprised that a pretty big crowd had already formed. We were also delighted to see about 50% of the people in costumes, many sporting pirate costumes because that was the theme of the weekend. That was something new, the themed weekends, and I think its brilliant because it taps into all different types of folks who like to dress up.

The crowds were a mix of regular folks, dressed up people, and performers. The performers are spread throughout the facility and all the acts are free, which is great. Tipping is strongly encouraged though, because that’s how they make their money, and since this group of performers has been hit particularly hard by COVID we tipped generously. Our very favorite act has been around since the beginning and we made sure to catch the very first show of Theater in the Mud. Two of the performers were the originals from when we brought the kids and they do versions of classical plays in a mud pit. It’s highly entertaining and a big favorite with the kids, although it’s almost impossible to not get some mud on you no matter where you sit. We watched a newer play called Jerkules and the crowds roared as the mud flew. Its hard to explain unless you see it in person, but here’s some pictures.

Before the show started one of the original performers came out and talked to some friends and I shamelessly eavesdropped as he talked about his life. He said he was finally in a place where he was comfortable with who he was (I can relate) and one of the benefits was that his kids felt like they could do anything they wanted with their lives. It was very nostalgic for us to see the two original players and it made me remember when the kids were small.

Another show that we really liked was new to us and the Kamikaze fireflies had been on AGT. They put on a great show and were very open about how grateful they were to be performing in public again. I hadn’t really thought about what a hardship COVID had been for these small traveling performers, but they were really excited about being back and that excited was contagious. The cool thing about the shows is they are very interactive and the crowds are encouraged to participate.

My other favorite part of the Ren fest is the shopping. The crafts are all handmade and range from the very inexpensive to the elaborate. They have beautiful handmade clothes, weapons, and many other items and I think we walked into every shop. It’s a good thing I am not into Cosplay or I would spend thousands of dollars on the clothes. As it was it was super hard not to buy something, but I managed.

The only part of the entire experience that I didn’t like was the food. In the past they had all kinds of cool things like turkey legs and other “old” food, and although they still had these the prices were much higher. They also had limited shaded seating to eat in and since it was a very hot day that was a factor. I probably could have lived with the food situation though if the drinks weren’t so screwed up. None of the food vendors was allowed to sell drinks (not even water) so we had to wait in a separate line to get something to drink. There are no public fountains and it was crazy hot so we spent a ton of money on water and had to wait in long lines to get it. I am pretty sure that the venue itself controls the drinks which is why the arrangement was so strange but it really put a damper on the day for me. Around 2pm I actually was feeling nauseous from the heat and crowds and asked Lee if we could go home. He really didn’t want to and there was certainly more to see but I just wasn’t feeling that great. If I would have had ready access to ice water I am sure I would have been able to stay longer but I just couldn’t handle it.

So we missed seeing several acts, which was a bummer, but I am glad that we were able to experience it again. Unfortunately I don’t think I will go back anytime soon, but if you are in the area and have never been I would recommend going at least once. Just get there early!

Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

Delaware County Fair

I love county fairs. And when I say that I mean old-school, 4H driven county fairs. I don’t mind the rides and games, and the fair food is definitely fun, but the major draw for me is looking at all of the cool 4H exhibits. So when I saw the fair agenda was packed with 4H events I was in. We also decided to go first thing in the morning which turned out to be a great thing. There was lots of activity around the 4H barns and we beat most of the heat that came later in the day. The animals and people were bustling about and I really loved seeing all the activity. We even got their early enough to watch the fair opening ceremony which included a flag raising and 21 gun salute.

I am not much of a people watcher when there are animals about, but watching all the healthy and excited young people was great. Who doesn’t love watching kids show off their prize llamas, or little kids with wader boots scooping out stalls? For me its some of the best of Americana and I wish all kids got an opportunity to participate in these types of events and not just the ones that live in rural areas.

Plus its somewhat interactive as its OK to touch some of the animals. It’s important to be careful with this and not just go poking at another person’s animal, but sometimes its OK and Lee got some up close and personal time with a couple of goats. That sounded weird the way I typed it but you know what I mean!

It’s not all about the animals though as there were also buildings with crafts, crops, and we even got to see a kids table setting competition. I remember being bored to tears by these exhibits as a young kid but now that I am older I really enjoy them. If we ever decide to settle somewhere I told Lee it has to have a good county fair and maybe I will enter some of the competitions myself.

Kids area
This best beginner cake was amazing. Looked so much like a watermelon.
Adults area

My favorite part of the adult area was the quilts. There were some beauties and I loved how they were displayed.

In addition to the craft booths the fair had some vendors. I enjoyed walking through these and we bought several kids books from one stall. I also loved the Tupperware booth (they have their own pressure cooker now) but didn’t really need anything. Nice to see they are still in business though.

Most county fairs have something unique to the region and in the case of Delaware county it’s harness racing. There is a permanent race track and facility on the fairgrounds and the last night of the fair they hold the Little Brown Jug Race which is akin to the Kentucky Derby in harness racing circles. Lee and I spent some time watching the horses warm up, but it was getting too hot to stay for long.

And of course it wouldn’t be a fair without rides, games, and food. Lee and I have been really watching our diets and to be honest none of it looked good to us. We are air frying everything at home now and oil fried food just tastes too greasy. It was fun though to see all the different types of food, but when it was time to eat we decided eating that in the hot sun wasn’t for us. Instead we took a final walk around the facilities and left before the crowds got too heavy. Loved every minute of it though and so glad we decided to go early!

Love me some Smoky the Bear

Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

Warren G. Harding Home and Memorial

Since everything was closed Saturday morning and we couldn’t do anything about the truck, Lee and I decided to keep our plans and visit the Warren G. Harding Home and Memorial This location was only a little over an hour away and I was ashamed to say I have never even heard of it let alone been there. Marion, Ohio is a nice sized town north of Columbus and I have driven past it more times than I count. The presidential library is right in town and only 5 miles or so from the freeway.

The library is a beautiful white structure that has a small museum inside. Behind the museum the house he lived in is available to tour and this was particularly interesting because he conducted a large portion of his campaign from its front porch. He ran for office right towards the end of World War I and his entire campaign was around returning to simplicity. Since he owned the Marion Star newspaper he was able to reach a wide audience from his front steps. This tactic also allowed his wife Florence to campaign with him because she had a kidney ailment that made it difficult for her to travel.

The view of the back of the house from the museum

The house tours ran on the hour, so after we arrived we took a look at the museum first. It was very small with minimal artifacts, which is surprising since we later learned they have a warehouse full of treasures they rotate through the museum. I did like the way it was laid out though and particularly enjoyed how much they talked about Florence. As I mentioned before learning about the first ladies is one of the most enjoyable parts of these visits for me and Florence was absolutely a modern woman.

One of the most famous things about Harding was his dog Laddie. He adored that dog and it was very famous across the country. We actually learned that several years ago the house was broken into and the only thing that was stolen was Laddie Boy’s collar. He was a complicated guy but I give him credit for loving his dogs and he was also a very hard worker. He usually worked from 8am to midnight and by all accounts he personally completed large quantities of work.

The fact that he owned a newspaper was a huge advantage when he was running for office although the lack of a lawyer’s degree and much higher education did not make him a likely candidate for president. Like many others he originally wasn’t a front runner, but he was chosen because he was an “average man” from a middle state. He was also very healthy and had a big personality in stark contrast to Wilson who had a stroke while in office and was frail. It’s actually ironic that Harding died before Wilson. After visiting Alaska, Harding had an acute gastrointestinal attack and ended up dying suddenly.

His death shocked the country and there were huge lines of people at both his burial train procession and in DC and Ohio.

Despite a relatively short time in office both the president and first lady accomplished quite a bit. Florence was a women’s advocate and met with several famous women of the time. She provided a forum for women scientists, athletes, and musicians and was a patron of Girl Scouts of America and fought for women’s equality.

Despite its size the museum was interesting, but once again the house was the star of the show. Harding built the house for his wife when he was only 25 so it was not situated on a large estate but on a regular street. Over time the two houses on either side were bought by the parks system and torn down, but originally it was a fairly modest home. He did add a press house during his campaign and the front porch was added later as well. The porch is where he made his famous campaign speeches and he had two a day every Tuesday and Friday. People would travel by train to Marion to see him speak and would walk the 1/4 mile to the house. Often 5,000 people would crowd the streets to see him talk and even more interesting was the fact that he wrote all of his own speeches himself.

The tour of the house itself was fascinating and the tour guide himself was very good. Several questions were asked about the Harding’s personal life and the guide did not shy away from those topics. We learned that Florence was married prior to her marriage to Warren and had a son who was raised by her father. Warren had several affairs over the years and the woman right before the presidential campaign was actually paid off with a years tour in Europe with her husband during the campaign. Although Florence and Warren had no children together, he did have an illegitimate child with another mistress and DNA testing has proven that her line came from him. We learned all this standing in a very simple foyer and it definitely added to the tour. These were real people with real challenges and those facts were woven in as we explored. The house doesn’t have the grandeur of many others we have visited but I liked that it was a true slice of how people really lived in the 1920’s.

Thousands of people came to this simple house and ultimately that was why his campaign was a success. Florence would let the children come into the house and play with Warren’s elephant collection and there was a horseshoe pit in the backyard. At night they would roll their record player out on the porch and folks would dance and sing. Despite Warren being for Prohibition, drinks could be had and the men smoked big cigars outside. The house really came alive with those stories and for that reason if nothing else I am glad we visited.

Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

First Time Getting Hit by a Drunk Driver

There is an expression in the full-timing world that our plans are made in sand. That is because unexpected things happen pretty frequently that can really blow up your schedule. As we have traveled we have changed plans for family emergencies, RV repairs, and work changes, and last year we had to change our plans last year on my birthday when we got hit by a driver in a McDonalds parking lot. That was a real pain in the butt, and an anomaly I thought, but nothing close to what happened to us on the Friday of Labor Day weekend.

A series of odd coincidences led to us being in that area at all, and since I don’t believe in coincidence to this magnitude I have to believe we were in that place and time for a reason. It started with us traveling slightly out of town to visit a friend of mine I hadn’t seen in twenty years. Originally we were going to see her on Saturday but plans changed and we went down for dinner on Friday evening. On the way back we took a longer route so we could check out a campground on her end of town. It’s a struggle finding decent places to stay in Columbus, but unfortunately I really didn’t like the campground at all. It was still light out, but getting a little later when we headed up a major road towards our campground.

There was a motorcycle in front of Lee and we were in a little speed trap of a town called New Rome, so Lee was going 25mph. The motorcycle stopped suddenly and Lee stopped behind it because there was a car traveling in our lane but the wrong direction. The car hit the motorcycle head on and pushed the motorcycle into us. Let me say it was terrifying because I was sure the motorcyclist was going to die. Lee saw the motorcyclist fly up in the air and land in front of the truck, but I squeezed my eyes shut and just heard the crunch of the bike.

Showing a tremendous amount of courage Lee ran out of the truck to the motorist and yelled at me to call 911. I was looking down and fumbling through that, when the driver and passenger of the car who hit us switched seats. Neither of us saw it but thankfully a passerby did and I turned the truck off and jumped out and ran around. I truly expected to see the guys brains splattered on the ground (he wasn’t wearing a helmet), but he was laying on the ground and actually conscious. He had a nasty cut on his head, and another on his arm but he knew his name. Lee talked to him and his name was Sergei from Belarus and he told Lee he was a music teacher. Lee got him to stay down and then helped the woman out of the car that hit us. By this time we had drawn a crowd (including a nurse) and the sheriff’s and ambulance started to arrive.

The biggest concern then was the liquid pouring onto the ground which I originally thought was diesel. It turned out it coolant because our radiator was punctured. The EMT’s got the motorcyclist onto a gurney and into an ambulance, but because he was sitting up and talking everyone thought he would be OK. At that point I called our insurance company and started taking pictures of the scene. I learned from our last accident that documentation is critical so I took as many pictures as I could.

You can see from this picture that Lee didn’t leave our lane. Important to show the other car went left of center and hit hard enough to spin around to our passenger side. .
The front shot shows where the bike was, you can also see where Lee tried to get the truck into the turn lane to avoid a collision but didn’t have time before the motorcycle stopped. .

After giving statements and talking to the police here is what we have pieced together. The blue car actually hit our truck on the drivers side which punctured our radiator. Our truck, which is amazing, didn’t even move so the blue car spun around (largely missing the motorcycle) and hit us again on the drivers side. By some miracle (and I believe it was) the motorcyclist himself was largely safe in the pocket between the two hits. The guy was definitely an idiot for not wearing his helmet, but he definitely wouldn’t deserve to die because of that and hopefully he learned something important.

The drivers side, it doesn’t seem like enough damage to puncture the radiator but that’s where the fluid poured out.
The left side.

The driver of the other car was physically fine and if there hadn’t been a motorcyclist it wouldn’t have been nearly as difficult. Well maybe it would have because it turned out that both people in the car that hit us were altered. They had open containers in their vehicle and both of them had outstanding warrants. I am not sure what the point of switching drivers was, but the woman driver also had 7 DUI priors and no license. Thankfully the car was owned by the guy so his insurance should kick in.

Initially I was just relieved no one was hurt, but the longer we stayed the more angry I became. We were minding our own business and not doing anything wrong and someone came out of nowhere and blew up our plans. They kept calling it an accident, but that just made me angrier. An accident is when someone hits some ice or makes a mistake but getting behind the wheel of a car that drunk isn’t an accident its intentional. I felt assaulted, which is a better word for it, no different than if this stranger walked up to me and smacked me in the face. The fact that both of them were so far gone only made it worse. Initially I thought we needed to get a tow, but since we were blocking a major street the Sherriff’s had to have it towed. They were all incredibly nice, but their mandate is public safety and that was their priority. I will say the tow truck came VERY quickly and our truck was loaded onto a flatbed with the motorcycle. The smaller car was initially pushed into a nearby parking lot and I got some small satisfaction when we saw them scoop the sand and antifreeze into their front seat. Hey, it had to go somewhere.

Since we were on the completely wrong side of town we ordered an Uber and on the way home all of the ramifications set in. We were supposed to leave on Monday to head to PA and see Kelly and Bill so those plans had to be cancelled. After that we were meeting Cori and Greg, and again that had to be cancelled. I was also super bummed that our plans to see Falling Waters house had to be cancelled as well, because those tickets are hard to get and we booked it months in advance. Thankfully they gave us a refund, but that’s twice we have missed seeing one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most famous houses. And finally, and most importantly, we had to move our RV.

I have to say that I am usually not a huge fan of state parks when we are working and traveling. Cell signal is often weak, they have very strict dog leash rules, and hardly any have full hookups. They also almost universally have two week limits and we were coming up to the end of ours. In places where RVing is popular finding someone to move our RV would be relatively easy, but Columbus isn’t a big RV town (they don’t even have a Camping World) and we needed a dually with a fifth wheel hitch to complete the move.

The first step though was to see if we could even stay, but thankfully the camp hosts were very accommodating. As soon as they heard we were full timers they were very helpful and let us pick from one of their four “safety” sites. These are sites campgrounds don’t keep in the reservation systems and they are used when there is a problem with a site, emergency situation, or a double booking. I actually liked the site we picked out better than our current one but we still had to find a way to move the RV. Thankfully the campground manager recommended an RV repair shop close by and for $100 cash one of the salespeople came and moved our RV.

Our next problem was getting the blue boy and water tank out of our truck and thankfully Lee’s parents had loaned us their pickup truck so we could get it. Unfortunately it was a holiday weekend and the tow place was closed for the entire weekend. What??!?!? We knew that we would need to make sure they were paid before we got anything from the truck but had no idea it would be closed for three days. Lee ultimately went and bought some extra hose to stretch to the nearest water spigot and we squeaked by with the existing tanks.

First thing Tuesday morning though we went to the towing lot and it’s a good thing Lee called first because my name is on the title and I had to sign some paperwork before they would allow the repair shop to pick it up. We lost another half a day to getting down there (around my work schedule), but finally we got our blue boy and tank and around 2pm the repair shop picked it up. We were also able to pick up a rental car and again the holiday hurt us. There were no cars available until Tuesday morning but thankfully we had Lee’s parents truck to drive. We would have been really screwed without a vehicle for three days if that wasn’t an option and we were both shocked that all the rental companies were closed (or had no cars) over the weekend.

The new spot, the rental car, and the borrowed truck.

The repair shop was another issue because the first place the claims agent called had a three week wait. Thankfully the office manager is an avid RVer and when the agent explained our situation they put us to the front of the list. It still took three days to get an estimate though and when it came back it was a doozy. They are replacing the radiator, grill, two front headlights, hood, tow rings, and coolant deflector, basically everything in the front. It didn’t seem like the damage was that bad but getting hit twice screwed up stuff on both sides. The estimate for completion is September 21st which considering everything really isn’t that bad. We will miss Cori and Greg, but can still see Kelly and Bill and will probably have to give Cape Cod a pass. I’m just glad this won’t cut into time with our youngest daughter Kay who we have only seen once in two years because of COVID.

And to end on a high note the delay allowed us to attend my dad’s 75th birthday party. I am a big believer that things happen for a reason…even the bad things and I am grateful things turned out OK. It certainly could have been much worse!

From left: Dad, my brother Eddie, nephew Lex, Aunt Susie, Cousin Jimilea, Uncle Don, Lee, Aunt Wendy, and Aunt Cathy

Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.