First Time Meeting People from the Internet

It’s a funny thing to meet people who you have only gotten to know on the internet and something neither Lee or I have ever done before.  I will say it has been an awesome experience, but you have to leave what you think you know about a person from what they right and get to really know them as n the flesh people.  Some folks are exactly the same as you pictured them and others are different…not bad just different.  We spent last night and today meeting so many people who I have been talking to in the forums and it has been really wonderful. Usually in every couple there is a one person who posts and another who gets told to read certain posts lol.  In our little group it’s been mostly women doing the posting but the guys that do post are extremely knowledgeable and active.  One of my favorites is Red and he and his wife got to come when they took the spot of a last-minute cancellation.  Red and Pam have been camping for years, but just started full-timing when they both retired.  Lee and I just immediately felt so comfortable with both of them.  They are very kind and helpful but are careful to say they don’t know everything….I think they do but appreciate the humbleness 🙂  One quick story to tell you what kind of people they are…we had told ourselves the very first thing we would buy was a surge protector…because we had heard horror stories about folks who didn’t have one and lost their entire electrical systems in a storm.  Did we buy a surge protector first…nope..why because they  are very expensive and there were more fun things to buy.  So we get to the campground and the mother of all storms is coming in…tornado warning, flood warning, and heavy thunderstorms.  It’s 7pm when we realized we had a serious problem and decided we would have to unplug everything all night…not the greatest prospect.  Red leaned over to Lee and quietly whispered “I have an extra one you can borrow.”  He didn’t make a big deal about it…as a matter of fact he went out of his way to say it quietly and then took Lee and gave him a rundown of what he recommended us buying and why.  Long story short the next morning we drove to camping world and bought exactly what Red told us to buy…and yes it was extremely expensive (around $800 with the Good Sam discount)  but replacing the electrical system can run $2500.  You have those moments in life when God/universe  puts the right person in front of you at just the right time…and I really believe this was one of those moments.  Ok so this is what Lee bought…one is a surge protector and the other is a voltage regulator.  The surge protector stops the electrical system from getting fried and the voltage regulator “boosts” the power you are getting from campsites with low voltage.  It’s really cool how it does it.  It takes in juice and holds it and then adds to it so you always have the correct amount of power.  Power drops can hurt your TV and computer and this stops that from happening.  Think tape delay when watching a live television event 🙂

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We also met several other couples who are our age and who  just bought new 5th wheels or Class A’s.  I had been communicating with many of the wives online because we all were asking similar questions and going through the same things at the same time.  We totally bonded over the RV-Dream forum topics and meeting in person solidified that.        Some of my favorites so far are Kelly and Bill (screen name Jersey Girl),Jo and Ben (Jo and Ben)  Cori and Greg (bylandandsea), Linda and Scott (Liberty Linda), Jo and Craig (Mary Sunshine),  and Debbie and Steve (Debbie M).  In addition to folks I “knew” we have met several other been doing this a long time… couples such as Greg and Sue and Neil and Connie.  Plus when you meet people you get to see the insides of their rigs which is awesome for great ideas on how to maximize storage space.  Pam had put tension rods up high in her shower to hang towels on and we LOVED that idea and have already copied it in ours.  thanks Pam!!!

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After spending the day meeting people on our own we finally registered for the actual educational rally.  The introduction was fantastic and Linda had everyone organized and having fun in no time.  Howard and Linda (RV-Dreams) have been traveling the country for the last 9 years and they host and teach at these rally’s.  Linda had everyone stand up in different categories…do you own a Class A, Do you own a Fifth Wheel, who came the farthest etc…which not only got everyone involved but allowed people in the group to see who they might want to talk to.  Many people haven’t bought an RV yet and are staying in a cabin or nearby hotel and Linda made a point to ask those of us who had RV’s to invite folks back during lunch to see our rigs.   She did a VERY good job getting people loosened up and then we all played a game where one representative at every table was a jockey in the Kentucky derby.  I have run a couple large training seminars and the logistics are crazy…Linda was awesome at corralling 150 head strong people in a fun way with a very personal touch.

Howard and Linda

Howard and Linda

 

 

 

 

Kentucky Derby Game

Kentucky Derby Game

We headed back to our site around 9 thinking it was time for a good nights sleep and then Bill and Kelly came by walking their dog and we all sat and talked until 11pm 🙂  We are usually in bed really early so for us that was a late night and we had such a wonderful conversation it was hard to go to bed.  Can’t wait for tomorrow when the classes start…yes I know I am a geek but can’t wait to post more lessons learned 🙂

Lessons Learned

  • No seriously buy the surge protector first
  • Invest in a voltage regulator
  • Go to a Rally you meet the nicest people
  • Meeting people from the internet can be really cool (yes I know we are late to this party but better late than never!!)

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First Time Parking at In-Laws

We got up early on Saturday and headed to Columbus to spend the night with my in-laws.  Lee and I are originally from Columbus, OH and Lee hadn’t seen his Mom and Step-Dad in a while so he was  very excited to stop along the way…plus we wanted to see what it would be like to park the Fiver in front of someone’s house on a residential street.  It worked OK, although it was a bit of an inconvenience for the neighbors and I wouldn’t want to do it for more than one night.  My in-laws are extremely energetic people who are “semi-retired”.  I say semi-retired because they took their passion for landscaping and flowers and now work in a greenhouse.  It was a big sale day for flowers but they left early and met us at their house.  It was so great showing off the RV and they really really liked it. Plus being the super generous people that they are they kept finding stuff in their house they knew would work well and they loaded us up with stuff. I told Lee we were supposed to be getting rid of stuff not getting more but DeDe and Denny always have the coolest stuff and they were very careful to only give us things that had two purposes. I love that they remembered the rule that everything had to have two purposes to go in the camper and it was fun receiving some neat treasures.  My favorites were three connected collapsible bowls (Update:  Love the concept but turns out I never needed them.  Still have them in a box in the basement but haven’t used them one time)  and two solar-powered Chinese lantern lights.  Lee loved the battery charger set and the collapsible hose.

Unfolded Bowls

Unfolded Bowls

Folded Bowls

Folded Bowls

 

They are absolutely the best in-laws ever and I am not just saying that because they both read my blog 🙂 They read my blog because they are truly interested in our lives.  One of the first questions DeDe asked was where had we put the magnets.  She remembered that I collected magnets from the campgrounds we went to and saw there was no metal in the camper to hang them on.  Lee showed her the custom piece of metal he had cut and placed inside one of the cabinets and it meant the world to me that not only did she remember I collected magnets, but worried about where I would store them. How sweet is that.

For my magnets

For my magnets

Also we had been wanting to go to Lee’s mecca…The Container Store, and they were very patient following us around for over an hour as we bought lots of little containers for stuff.  Lee was very restrained considering how much he loves boxes and it was only $226 but hey, you only setup your new RV once!!

Sunday Morning we left their house and headed to Louisville, KY.  I am an avid RV-Dreams reader and early in his travels, Howard had a custom truck bed cover made in Louisville, KY.  Lee wanted one just like it and since Louisville is only 4 hours south of Columbus had made arrangements with the same person to do one for us.  It was going to take around 6 hours to do, but we had really thought it would be important to extend our storage area to the truck and keep our wood dry so it was worth a side trip.  Lee called James when we were about an hour away and asked where we should drop the trailer since he would need the truck unencumbered and he recommended a Cracker Barrel about two miles from his house.  Many Cracker Barrels have extra-large parking spaces for Semi’s and RV’s but this one did no,t so we were a bit stymied.  I saw a Pilot station nearby and thought we should find out if they would less us park there for six hours.  As a side note we absolutely LOVE Flying J’s and it is definitely solidified as our stop of choice to get gas…the ones with RV lanes are totally amazing and by far the easiest in/out we have found.  That being said they are not very scenic places to stop and have lunch, so we have started using rest areas for lunch and just gas up at the Flyng J’s.  Sometimes you get really lucky at rest area…check out this picture of the view we had during our lunch today…right outside our camper window…amazing.

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The Pilot station was very happy to let us drop the trailer. There was no fee of any kind and they thanked Lee for coming in to notify them.  That being said it was super crowded  and I wasn’t thrilled about spending 6 hours in a busy truck stop.  Luckily James came to the Truck stop to meet us and saw within about 5 minutes the truck cover would not work.  Our hitch was too big and there wasn’t enough area to pool water??  I didn’t really get it, but Lee did and I realized we could push through and get to Riverside Plantation by 5:30.  Wow, that was awesome!  I called the campground and our spot was open and they extended our reservation one night…fantastic!!

The rest of the drive was largely uneventful. The new truck handled Jellico Mountain very well and this really neat thing happened when we stopped at a rest area.  There was an older gentleman check the torque on his trailer lug nuts, and Lee struck up a conversation because we had read you were supposed to be very careful about the torque on a new camper.  The man came right over and checked ours (finding only one slightly loose) and as we exchanged pleasantries we realized he was from the same small town I grew up in and lived there until the 8th grade.  I asked him if he knew my father and not only did he know my dad, they played little league baseball together and my grandfather coached him.  It truly is a very small world!  I called my dad from the top of the mountain and asked if he remembered and him, and he did.  This is why I love camping…not only are people incredibly nice but there are all these little surprises.

We made it to River Plantation...passing lots of touristy stuff along the way which was fun to look at since it had been largely interstate views up until that point.  Site 401 is “the best” in the campground according to staff and we felt really lucky to get it the extra day.   We did have a lot of trouble backing in (Lee’s first time backing up the fiver) and even more trouble leveling, but at one point I looked up and a nice older gentleman was standing there.  It was Red from the RV -Dreams forum and he was quick to say he didn’t wanted to interrupt us but Howard and Linda were having a campfire at 7.  It was so sweet that he walked down to tell us and I gave him a huge hug…Red is one of the active forum posters and he has owned 12 RV’s  in his life but this is his first 5th wheel.  He told us later he has trouble backing in as well…what a sweetheart.  We ate a quick dinner and then walked down to meet the group.  There was a huge circle of people and all of a sudden I felt intimidated.

You have to understand I have been talking to these folks for months online and I have read every word Howard has written but being there in person was a bit overwhelming. As soon as we walked up though I heard a squeal and Kelly…who I had talked to several times jumped up and immediately gave me a big hug.  Then Howard and Linda stopped what they were doing and came over and introduced themselves.  It must be weird for them, meeting people who know so much about them, but don’t really know them, but it felt like meeting old friends.  I did get a chance to tell Howard how much I loved his journal and how it inspired me to do this blog and he was very very nice about it. I felt a little star struck at first…in the RV world they are mini celebrities…but they are just regular people like us…regular people with thousands of followers 🙂  But hey, I just hit 350 followers so you never know!!

We had a great time meeting so many people I had talked to online and more are coming tomorrow…I am already having a terrific time and we haven’t even really started yet.  I haven’t felt this giddy in years…maybe that’s why I woke up at 2am and am writing this post…way to excited to sleep.  More tomorrow and thanks for reading I think I am going to try to get some more sleep…big day tomorrow.

Lessons Learned

  • Visit your in laws they probably have cool stuff in their garage 🙂
  • Rest areas are way better to have lunch at than truck stops
  • There are some incredibly knowledgeable guys on the internet…don’t be afraid to ask in the forums
  • RV-Dreams is the friendliest forum I know of
  • The Container Store is amazing

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First Time Traveling Long Distances – Bristol, Indiana

Back on the road… Sorry to leave the farm behind and a little nervous about trying to book travel as we go. I have read many posts about how folks don’t book their campsite until very close to the location… Many times just driving in and seeing what they have available. I wanted to give this a try as the allure is maximum freedom, but have been nervous about it all going horribly wrong since before we started the trip. We knew today would be a long day, as we had to get through Chicago. The idea was to follow the GPS and try to squeeze through avoiding rush hour traffic. Might have worked too, but a truck was broken down in the middle lane on the outer belt, leading to a traffic delay that had us hitting Friday afternoon rush hour. Not good :(. Lee and I have been switching off driving every two hours or so, which is working much better, and he got stuck with most of the Chicago traffic. He was a trooper though and while we were creeping along I started to look for campsites.

There aren’t any campsites close to Chicago, so I started looking around Gary, In. Unfortunately Notre Dame was a home game on Saturday and the campgrounds were treating it as a holiday weekend with a minimum 2 day stay. I think I dealt with the curve ball pretty well though, and we decided we would just need to go a little farther down the road. I found Eby’s Pines  Campground in Bristol, Indiana…right off route 80 with an off-season price of $37 per night. I didn’t want to risk just showing up, and I was glad I didn’t because the office closed at 8pm. The lady who checked me in over the phone was extremely nice, stating if we were late they would tape our pass and map to the office door.

Once out of Chicago I took my turn driving and we realized we were closer than we thought because right before Bristol we passed the time zone change and lost an hour. Still fewer miles is good and we made it by 7:30 right when we lost our light. The same woman was at the desk and she was very helpful and we went over to site 172. Lee had never setup the outside totally in the dark, but he got the head lamp out and got started. Unfortunately there was no water near the sewer pipe on this site and he had to stretch the hose to the site next to us. Thank heavens we carry extra hose, because the office was closed by the time we knew we had a problem. A really nice man at the site next to ours came over and offered his assistance and then invited us to hangout at their campfire. Great vibe at the campground with quiet laughter and lots of campfires surrounding us, but because of the water issue and extreme closeness of the sites have to rate it 2 out of 5 pinecones. Still worked good for a quick overnight.

I situated the inside pretty quick and then started the fire in the dark. I had thawed chicken and knew it would take a while to cook. Luckily, I had been hanging onto some instant rice which tasted great with the BBQ chicken and some slaw I threw together. Very filling and relatively easy. We were exhausted at this point and went to bed. Tomorrow is another travel day and hopefully less stressful.

Lessons Learned

  • Don’t drive through Chicago at rush hour
  • Use you Gas Buddy app to check gas prices well in advance.  They could vary as much as 50 cents per gallon state to state
  • Carry extra sewer hose
  • When booking campgrounds on the fly keep in mind the offices are not open 24/7 like a hotel
  • Check for local events around where you think you might say, could impact availability and price

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First Time Camping with Friends

Some friends of ours from Columbus, Ohio (our original hometown) were on a two-week camping trip through New England and we met up with them.   The couple have two daughters aged 12 and 8 and camping with kids is fun but a totally different experience.  We ended up meeting them in Acadia, Maine at the KOA Bar Harbor Oceanside campsite.   Just through good luck we ended up getting to the campsite within minutes of each other, which was great, and we all proceeded to set up.  They are in an ultra-lite, which I thought was very nice but took them very little time to set up, mainly I think because they were in the camping mode already, plus we had a new mattress topper for the bed (down alternative because feathers make me sneeze and VERY comfortable) which I had to wrestle into place.  I don’t really notice the lack of space on either side of the mattress until I have to make the bed and wrestling the mattress topper into place was a challenge to say the least.  At one point I was kneeling on the mattress and trying to lift it at the same time to slip the cover sheet under.. pretty comical I am sure.   Anyway, my point is that apparently I have gotten pretty darn used to my setup routine because trying to quicken the pace, to hang out with friends sooner was stressing me out 🙂  All self-imposed but it’s funny how quickly we can become used to a routine.

The campsite is different from any we have been to before, wide open with RV’s as close to each other as you can possibly put them.  Our spot faces a little spot of the ocean bay, though, and is on a corner which is pretty great.  They have some great  sites right on the water if you don’t need sewer hookup, but really the whole point is to use the campground as a jumping off point for going to Acadia National Park, so it’s not designed to spend tons of time there.  My major disappointment was the lack of the sound of waves crashing, because it is a bay it’s pretty sheltered, but the kids enjoyed walking down to the shore and picking up shells and they saw some crabs.  The bathrooms were very clean, the family uses the campground showers instead of the tiny one in the camper which they have turned into an additional storage area.  Pretty ingenious 🙂  and unfortunately the showers routinely had no hot water.  There were several complaints from both cabin users and campers.  It wasn’t an issue for us though and I have to say we had a great site 105 which has a great view of a little sliver of ocean.  There were some other wonderful sites on the water, but I guess they book up really quick and lots of sites where folks are seriously on top of each other with no view whatsoever.  The view from our site is below which was great.

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The people who run the campground were nice if a bit harried.  It was incredibly busy and because of the tight fits on the campground, every camper is escorted and helped to pull into the correct spot.  Lots of French Canadians at the site, and folks were incredibly polite.  Lots and lots of big dogs, we saw a couple beautiful huskies.  Overall I liked it. Don’t kid yourself, though, this is not ocean side camping like you are picturing in your mind, but for what it is (a place to use to visit Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park) it is a fair value.  The shower issue and extreme closeness of sites requires a downgrade though and I rate it at 3 out of 5 pine cones.

One of the best parts of camping with friends is getting to sit around the campfire with them. The 12-year-old and I spent a very entertaining hour trying to create the perfect toasted marshmallow  (she managed to pull it off; I was close but not quite) and we all chatted into the evening. For the first time I had to worry about when the quiet hours were, which was funny.  We never make any noise when it’s just the two of us.  This time we got to sit at the fun campsite!!

The next day Lee and I went to Acadia Park which although crowded was really fun.  This is a great place if you like biking as there are 42 miles of carriage paths which were changed into bike paths.  We also saw lots of little kids hiking with their parents as there are hundreds of miles of hiking trails.  Since we weren’t really into doing either, we drove to the top of Cadillac Mountain (which is free) and took some great pictures of the ocean.

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Next we took the park loop road ($20 for a 7 day pass) and stopped at various scenic sites along the way.  Did you know that seniors 64 and older can purchase a lifetime National park pass for $10 that gains entry into all National Parks in the country??  Say what you want about our government but there are some things they do right.   My favorite part of the loop was when we stopped at Thunder Hole and got down on the rocks and watched the ocean come crashing in on the rocks.  It was great, and you could get as close to the water as you wanted.  All and all a lovely day.

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We also visited Bar Harbor which was pretty touristy but fun as the harbor was fogged in and seeing all the boats amid the fog certainly added to the experience.  A great family style steak dinner at night and more time around the campfire capped off the experience.  Great time hanging out with friends and we are now e packing up and headed to inland Maine and they are branching off to Cape Cod.

Lessons Learned

  • Walkie talkies are a fun way to communicate when you have two vehicles and it’s great for kids
  • When camping with a group allow plenty of time for folks to do their own thing, but make sure you meet up at night for  campfire and adult beverages

 

Perfect Lemonade

(Taste tested by an 8-year-old and declared pretty good)

  • 5 cups of water, divided
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 3 lemons
  • 1 cup sugar or Splenda

1.  Combine 4 cups of water and lemon juice

2.  Chill 30 minutes

3.  Peel lemons leaving inner white pith on fruit (reserve lemons for another use)

4.  Cut lemon rinds into strips

5.  Combine rind, sugar, and 1 cup of water in a saucepan

6.  Stir over medium heat until sugar melts

7.  Bring to a boil and boil for 7 minutes; stir frequently

8.  Let cool

9.  Mix with lemon juice/water mixture and chill 2 hours before serving

 

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First Time at a “Back In” Campsite

Finally we have a chance to stay at Oxbow Campground in Hillsborough NH which was my absolutely favorite from our two-day trek visiting all the local campsites.  Also to add some excitement we were going to try backing into a campsite.  Thus far it’s been all pull through’s, which has been great in most cases, but in this campground we wanted a site up in the corner and we needed to back in.  One good thing, is because the site is on a corner Lee was able to pull straight up the road and then back straight in.  This made things much less stressful.  Plus we had our handy walkie-talkies and wow, was that helpful.  The alternative would be us yelling back and forth to each other, I am sure to the amusement of the neighbors which is really not my style and frankly could devolve into something less pleasant quickly.  By using the walkie-talkies we could talk in a calm voice which I think helped considerably.

First we both got out of the truck and walked the site and agreed upon where we wanted to be.  This was important because we both got a say on exactly where we would be, the main conversation being around the length of power and sewer hose and how close we wanted to be towards the fire pit.  Fantastic fire pit by the way, surrounded on three sides by stone, really nice.  Anyway, after we decided it was simply a matter of me directing him to that spot.  It went pretty well, but once we were in we noticed that the camper wasn’t level. Before unhitching, we went into the camper and there was a definite lean.  Lee tried to use a level to see how bad it was and in what direction, but didn’t find it that helpful and instead put his tube of ChapStick on the table and it rolled right off.  I definitely felt like I was falling over and after some discussion we decided we didn’t want to feel like that all weekend. We had to move it twice more each time getting closer to the center of the site and farther away from the fire.  Unfortunately the fire pit ended up being behind us (although that worked out fine in the end) and we lost a lot of room on the lot.  The good thing was because we were on a corner our view was great, so it didn’t matter so much we were in the middle of the site. Lee says the solution is leveling blocks which we don’t own.  Kind of surprised we haven’t run into this until now but I suppose sticking to pull through sites has made it a non issue.  It worked out ok in the end but definitely a lesson learned.

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The campground was really great, everything I remembered.  The owner is very nice and very attentive.  We saw his presence several times.  He even helped our neighbor get his slide out to deploy when he was having issues.  It’s a large spacious campground and immaculately groomed.  Grass was cut, campsites free of debris and obviously well cared for.  Bathrooms were clean and numerous and my favorite part was that it had a little pockets of camping for different styles.  There was a nice meadow (wooded on the edges) for those that like that type of camping.  another meadow had a fantastic view of the valley.  Several pull-throughs close to each with additional parking for guests, the area in the back that was wooded and less campers, pond views, wood views, and even a set of sites by a stream.  The campground has a catch and release fishpond, a swimming pond, and a small boat pond with free paddle boats and a canoe.  Seriously, aside from a lake or an ocean, this campground has a little bit of everything.

There is also a nice sense of community with seasonals interspersed through the weekender population.  We saw several volunteers on golf carts and they provide trash bags and pick up your trash at your site every day before 3pm.  There was a lively game of horseshoes that weekend, several groups sitting together at campfires, and several kids of different ages using the playground and swimming areas, but the well-behaved kind 🙂  Lee even got to see a chipmunk which came onto our site in the early morning Saturday and jumped on a log and then scolded him.  Lee’s very fond of the chipmunks.  My favorite thing was a small petting farm with a horse, donkey, and several chickens.  What a great idea and the kids loved it, wandering up to see the animals.

The only down side was no wireless except at the main house and a very small and nearly empty store.  Camper’s World is only an hour away and a full grocery store and McDonald’s is within minutes in Hillsborough (which is a very nice New England small town) but I was surprised they didn’t offer more.  They do have a large rec center with some very old arcade games… Lee and I played a race car game that we had played when we were kids together, an air hockey table, pool table, and a big screen TV.  Despite the wireless issue (we used 4G successfully all weekend) I have to give the campground highest marks definitely 5 pine cones!!

Lessons Learned 

  • First time on a back in site, make sure you can use part of the road to help you maneuver
  • Corner sites are great for a better view and more separation between campers
  • Seriously get walkie talkies 🙂
  • Leveling blocks or leveling pads are a good thing to buy in advance because you never know

Fresh Blueberry Griddle Cakes

An old recipe I found in a cookbook, simple yet so good.  The  fresh blueberries pop in your mouth.. yummy

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 Tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 Tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
  • Pam

1.  Beat egg until light

2.  Add salt and milk and stir

3.  Mix baking powder with flour

4.  Add flour mixture into egg mixture slowly, beating until smooth

5.  Add blueberries you’ll be tempted to add more blueberries leave it at 1/2 a cup 🙂

6. Use Pam to grease skillet and heat until you drop water on the pan and it pops

7.  Drop one large spoonful on skillet or pan and gently spread out

8.  Brown on both sides over medium low heat the cake brown very quickly so watch them closely 

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First Time Alone

Over the next five weeks, Lee has to work on Saturday nights, so we decided to try camping somewhere close, setting up on Friday and him driving round trip to Keene on Saturday while I hung out alone.  I had some reservations.  I travel alone all the time and don’t really mind being solo, but I am careful of personal safety when all by myself.  Wasn’t sure how I would feel in the camper in the dark woods, but since this whole adventure is partly about stretching our boundaries decided to give it a shot.

It helped that the campground is a very nice one.  Tree Farm Campground in Springfield, VT was one of my favorites from the weekend tour we took.  I remembered the friendliness of the people and was not disappointed.   The young man who runs the campground was an absolute doll, incredibly friendly and helpful.  The site (#19) was terrific, a large pull through, well-wooded, with great wooded views.  The fire pits are very nice, made of rings of stacked bricks and generous in size and overall exceeded my already high expectations.  Wireless is free and works just fine, plus when we asked if we could leave late Sunday he said absolutely and there was no extra charge.  They take Good Sam discounts so the site was only $30 a night.  It was super hot so we paid the extra $3 a night for AC  (well worth the price) but I turned it off on Saturday because it was so much cooler in the woods.  Springfield is close by, an old mill town with a decent small downtown area.  There is a full grocery store and a McDonald’s within a mile or two of the campground.  The only downside was a nearby camp site had a barking dog, but after some initial morning ruckus they seemed to get him settled down.  No pool, but there was a neat playground with a mini climbing wall for kids, and all the kids we saw were well-behaved and seemed to be having a good time.  It seems like a place where grandparents hang out and have their grandkids out on weekends and all the seasonals seem to know each other and are friendly with one another.  Definitely 5 out of 5 pine cones 🙂

Friday night I cooked Grilled Chicken Fettuccine pasta and biscuits. I used two new recipes that required numerous steps and Lee jumped in and helped me towards the end when things got a bit hectic.  He loved both of them and I was proud we managed to navigate the small kitchen together on a more complicated dish.  The biscuits in particular were tons of fun to make and I felt all fancy with my recipes.  I love to cook, not much of a baker, but cooking is fun for me.  Unfortunately all those years of managing family dinners on a tight budget kind of sucked the joy out.  This is an opportunity to try some more adventurous recipes and I am rediscovering the joy of preparing food.  It can get a little stressful though especially when part of the food is cooking outside on the grill/campfire and part is inside.

Lunch on Saturday was good.  I made this absolutely yummy new coleslaw recipe that I loved.  See below for recipe which I highly recommend.  I started a fire and made some hot dogs to go with it and then Lee took off and went to work.  I kept the fire going for a while, being extra careful not to inhale too much smoke.  ever since I saw that Survivor episode where that guy pitched head first into the fire from smoke inhalation I am pretty cautious about that.  And if something happened and I was alone it would obviously be much worse.

One thing I did do was say hi to our neighbors.  I had bought some organic dog biscuits on the last trip and used those to meet the people next door.  We didn’t exchange life histories or anything, but I wanted to know who they were so if something happened I would be comfortable running over.   The side benefit was they had a lot of people over later in the evening, but did a nice job keeping the noise volume down.  I have to believe that partly because I was a person to them and not just the trailer next door.

So I was alone and it was weird.  I can’t stress enough that I like being alone.  After raising three kids (who I love dearly) I have had many years of lots and lots of noise.  So the quiet for me is still a bit of a novelty.  That being said, being alone at a campground is way different from being alone in a hotel room.  For one thing it’s not quiet.  There are animal noises and neighbor noises and oddly enough, noises from the camper settling or something. I finally turned the overhead fan on for some white noise which helped some but I found that I was pretty restless and couldn’t settle into one thing.  I read awhile, I watched a Deadwood episode on HBO Go.   The only time I felt settled was when I was doing chores.   That’s when things got interesting.  I went to wash the dishes and checked the tanks and saw the grey water was full and the black water was 3/4 full.   After a previous adventure with the grey water filling up, I check it pretty frequently now.  Even though Lee does the outside chores, I have been paying attention and on occasion have gone out and tested my knowledge.  So I felt completely confident when I went to open the tanks.  Imagine my surprise when I turned on the black water and stuff starting squirting out the side.  I didn’t panic, but I had absolutely no idea what to do.  Lee was unavailable via cell phone so I turned the black water off and thought about my options.

Option 1:   The dishes could wait and I could probably squeeze by until Lee came home to fix it.  Of course that would mean he would be messing with it in the nighttime.

Option 2:  I could walk down to the nice kid at the office and ask for his help, but if it was something simple I would feel bad for bothering him

Option 3:  I could try to figure it out myself.

I decided on Option 1 and that lasted for a couple of hours.  Finally I couldn’t take it anymore and with an internal speech that I was a smart woman and could figure this out I went back out to take a look.   First problem, no rubber gloves.  Lee said he didn’t need them. Well I certainly did,  so I settled on an old rag as the best I could do.  I looked at the connector and pulled it out then had to twist it pretty hard but I couldn’t see any openings at the bottom.  As you may have already guessed, Lee had left the cap on the sewer pipe, but I didn’t understand that at the time, but after fussing with it I thought I could put the hose directly into the drain without the connector I would just have to watch it carefully.  Next problem the hose was completely full and had rolled off the plastic lifts it normally sat on.  I crawled under the slide out and (with some difficulty) got the hose back on the lift and finally decided to give it a go.  I let some grey water out slowly and it worked just fine.  Breathing a sigh of relief I went back to the black water, finished that and then the rest of the grey.  Overall I was pretty proud of myself and glad that I wouldn’t leave Lee a mess when he came back that evening.

So I went inside and did the dishes.  I looked at the clock and it was only 6pm.  I still had a lot of time to kill.

The main thing I would have to say I learned about myself from being alone is I need to find something to do.  These weekends have been wonderful and relaxing, but if I am going to spend anytime alone, I don’t really have the capacity to sit and do absolutely nothing for hours at a time.  When I am traveling and in the hotel room, doing nothing is great, because I have spent a long day working very hard.  But a full day of this is too much for me and I definitely need to find a way to fill my time.  The good news is for a change I actually have time to fill, which is a very nice problem to have.

Lessons Learned

  • Say a quick hi to your neighbors
  • Carry organic dog biscuits in the trailer, it’s a great excuse to introduce yourself
  • Take the cap off the sewer pipe
  • Pay attention when your husband connects the sewer up, you never know when you might have to do it

Crunchy Cool Cole Slaw

Ingredients

  • 1 (16oz) package of coleslaw mix
  • 1 large carrot peeled into thin strips
  • 1 crisp apple (julienned)
  • 1/2 medium-sized red onion (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup peanuts (shelled and split)
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 1-1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp celery salt
  1. In a large bowl combine first 5 ingredients.
  2. In a small bowl whisk remaining ingredients
  3. Pour dressing over salad and toss well to coat

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Just Camping

We have spent a considerable amount of our camping time taking in the sites or running errands, so this weekend we decided we would just camp. with the exception of one trip to the farmer’s market (which I will talk about in a bit).  Relaxing (for me at least) is not as easy as it sounds, and in my opinion is a skill that for some must be learned.  I personally intend on perfecting the skill 🙂

I was working in Albany this week so Lee and I selected one of the campgrounds that we liked from our weekend research trip that was located somewhat in the middle between Keene and Albany.  We met on the site, landing within 10 minutes of each other and for me it was a beautiful drive across Vermont farm country on Route 11.  Despite the pretty drive it was a bit difficult to just dive right in.  I was still in work mode and did not find it that easy to make the adjustment.   Thankfully the setup went very well, with me focusing on the inside and Lee on the outside and the weather cooperated with a nice and reasonable temperature.  We had gotten our first choice (Site 117) and it was even bigger than I remembered.  This lot is fantastically large.  We easily fit the truck, camper, and my car on it and could have fit several more cars to spare.  It is well wooded which we like and the campsite was quiet and not crowded.  I have to say based on the site alone, any other campground would be hard pressed to match it, and we settled in for a pleasant stay.

Since I was out-of-town, Lee selected a couple of recipes from my growing “try it” pile and completed the shopping.  I don’t think I mentioned it, but for years I have collected old and unusual cookbooks.  Since I travel so much, they have largely been collecting dust, but over the past month while at home, I have been looking at them and cutting out any recipes I thought were interesting.   Yes I did feel a twinge for cutting up books, but many of these I have had for 15 plus years and it was the only way for me to make sure the recipes actually got used.   The end results is a small plastic coupon holder that is now full of recipes to try, and the results of those experiments are what occasionally show up on these pages.  As I mentioned before, I am only experiencing a 50% success rate, but apparently Lee is a better selector than I am because all three of his recipes were good!!!

The next morning we were up bright and early and Lee asked me to try to find a farmer’s market to supplement his meal choices with some fresh veggies.  Perkinsville is really in the middle of no where, and the closest one I could find was 45 minutes away, but he quickly found a farmers market that opened at 10am within a 10 minute drive.  Lee is the Goggle zen master 🙂 So we jumped in the care and drove to the market.  It was basically a large roadside stand, but they had tons of products from local growers.  While there we bought the mushrooms for that night’s dinner and I found some homemade dog biscuits for visiting puppies at the sites.  We decided to not bring our dog on these trips (she’s a bit of a princess and incredibly high maintenance) but I do enjoy talking to other people and petting their dogs.  The organic dog biscuits were just the thing and should be acceptable to any dog owner, even those who have dogs with special dietary issues. In addition they had small chunks of local Vermont cheese… yummy.

After the farmers market we went into town (basically a cross roads and a few stores) and went into the grocery store/deli to pick up some dishwasher soap.  It was amazingly well stocked (if small) and had its own little salad bar and hot bar for $5.99 a pound.  We both made a salad for lunch and Lee got a couple of yummy ribs that had just been cooked to take back to the campsite.  “Foraging” for local food is fun and in this case reasonably priced and absolutely delicious.  Next we went across the street to the local feed store to look for a wire grill cleaning brush.  I had been using a plastic one and it wasn’t getting the job down, and luckily they had exactly what we needed.  In addition, I picked up a great pair of rubber farm boots for $20 and two bags of kiln dried kindling for $4.95 a piece.  I love feed stores and have fond memories of visiting them as a child, but had forgotten how much of an eclectic selection they could contain.

Finally we stopped at one more farmer’s market (I couldn’t help myself it had a statue of a goat outside that grabbed my attention) and picked up a little jar of honey, maple cotton candy, eggs, and some egg salad all locally made.  It was a nice little trip to see the area and only took an hour or so, and then we were back at the campsite.

Dinner that night was an unqualified success, Beef Satay, Mushrooms, and Roasted potatoes then we watched a movie and went to bed.  Oh yes somewhere in the day I took a nice long nap.  In my real life I never nap but the fresh air and soothing sounds of the birds made a nap just the thing, so between some solid sleep at night and the nap I feel VERY well rested. Since the campground is so inexpensive $70 for three full days Fri – Sun, we paid for the extra day and will take our time leaving.  Stoughton Pond is within walking distance and if it’s warm enough we want to try out our kayaks, which Lee brought in the truck.  Overall the trip was very nice and relaxing and definitely showed the value of just camping.

Lessons Learned

  • When driving to the campsite straight from work allow a little extra time to decompress
  • Just camping is fun

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Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.  Search Amazon.com here