Hallowed Ground Revisited
  (June 7 to July 5, 2009)

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Thanks to the deep recession the country is in we decided to cancel our plans to visit Greece this summer, and to keep the mileage on the motorhome to 5,000 or less. I figured we could do that by going up to New York to visit family and friends and tour along the way.

June 7: Statesville, North Carolina (306 miles)

I-20; I-77

Campground:  Overnight in a Walmart parking lot

The motorhome indicated a small oil leak that needed to be looked at. We found an Onan CoachCare facility just of I-81 that was on our path heading north so we made plans to stop there to take care of the problem.

June 8: Cloverdale, Virginia (158 miles)

Route:  I-77; I-81

Campground:  Onan CoachCare parking lot

Fuel:  Flying J in Blackburg, SC for $2.389

The oil leak turned out to be a faulty oil cap. It was a $6.87 fix. Whew.

We took the opportunity to catch a movie in town while we waited for someone to look at the oil leak. Lucky for us it was a Regal Theater, which is our favorite chain.

June 9 to June 14: Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (247 miles)

Route:  I-81; WV 51; US 340; US 15

Campground:  Gettysburg Battlefield RV Resort  We stayed here via our Coast to Coast membership. In 2002, we remember having a nice site. This time we were told we could only have a water and electric site and we barely were able to use the dish. The site was very unlevel and they wouldn't let us move to another site. That resulted in our front wheels being about 5" off the ground, and I hate doing that. In addition, the power became very bad when the weekenders arrived. The surge guard in the motorhome kept turning the power off due to low voltage. That forced us to use the generator.

Fuel:  Flying J in Clear Brook, VA for $2.409

We were here in 2002 and loved it, so it was an automatic for us to go back to Gettysburg for another visit. . There is now a great new visitor center with a great movie, cylcorama, and museum.

The first thing we did was to hook up with Joe and Olive Donolli. Joe and I graduated from Island Trees High School in Levittown in 1961. When I saw Joe I told him it was 48 years almost to the day since we last saw each other. Joe and Olive came to the campground to see our motorhome and we then drove to a Mexican restaurant for dinner. Joe recently retired from Gettysburg College. After dinner,
they gave us a tour of Gettysburg and then took us to their home for a visit.

We have encountered more rain this year than in any of our prior years on the road. Joe and I got lucky and were able to play a round of golf one day
.  It was great to see Joe again after so many years.

The last time we were here we toured the grounds in our car and did the self guided tour. This time we treated ourselves to a private guide. The cost for the guide came to just a little bit more than taking one of the tour buses. Our guide was Mike Kanazawich. He drove our car and made stops along the way as he described how the battle unfolded. He was very knowledgeable and made the tour very interesting.

Diane and I took another tour of the grounds in our car via the self guided tour and spent about three hours revisiting major sites on the battlefield.

We met Mary and Tom Williams several years ago and they are also fulltime RVers. Our paths hadn't crossed for quite a while, but we knew they were fairly close in West Virginia. I got a note from Mary one day saying they would be in Gettysburg. We made contact and made plans to visit and catch up over dinner.
One of the best things about our RV lifestyle is the opportunity it offers to reconnect and visit with people around the country. We love it.

This was the second time we have visited Gettysburg and we enjoyed as much as the first time. It truly is hallowed ground.

June 15 to June 19: Poughkeepsie, New York (282 miles)

Route:  US 15; I-83; I-81; I-84; US 9W; Mid-Hudson Bridge; US 44/55; local roads

Campground:  Elks Lodge

Fuel:  Pilot in Newburgh, NY for $2.829

In 2002, we were up in the Hudson Valley, but were only here for a couple of days before getting a 911 call about my mom needing help in Florida. We got to see a few people when we were here, but Diane never got to visit with her sister, Marge. The last time they saw each other was six years ago in 2003 when we were on the way up to the Maritimes. There aren't many campground choices in the area, but there was an Elks Lodge in Poughkeepsie. So this time we went to Poughkeepsie first to make sure Diane could get time to visit with Marge. They had five days together and were able to get out shopping and visiting.

I started my career in Poughkeepsie in 1966 and still have a couple of friends and former colleagues who live here, Al Hechler and Dave Meck. I was scheduled to play golf with Al, but that got rained out, so we spent the day together. We went out for lunch and he took me to his house where I learned more stuff to do on my laptop. Dave came over to the motorhome one evening to visit with us. I hadn't seen them for several years so it was great to catch up with old friends.

Several friends and former colleagues from the time I was a 100% traveler lived fairly close by, so we all met at a Charlie Brown's restaurant in Fishkill. Four of them drove over from their homes in Connecticut and New York to visit with us. Diane traveled extensively with me and knew all the folks with whom I worked. Sue Sinclair, Ann Yu, and Tony Bennet were already working in the organization I joined in 1993 and helped me get started. We traveled many places around the world together and had great times and laughs over many many dinners, as well as touring together at times.

I left that organization for a couple of years and then returned for another two years. By then, Sue was the manager of the group and was very helpful in getting me back into it. Mary Ann Laudano was the director I worked for in 1999 just before I retired in early 2000.

Sue and Mary Ann rank high on my list of managers I worked for during my career. The evening went by quickly and then it was time to say good-bye again until the next time our paths cross. Diane and I appreciated everyone driving over to visit with us.

June 20 to June 21: Cottekill, New York (30 miles)

Route: local roads

Campground:   Boondocked across from Curt's house

Our son, Curt
, and grandson, Talisian, live on the west side of the Hudson River. Curt got permission for us to spend a couple of nights parked at a small roadside pullout across from his house. Sunday was Father's Day so Curt took us out for brunch in Kingston. It was nice to see them again. Unfortunately, it would be the only time we got to visit with Talisian because he worked during the day and got sick during the week and was down for most of the week.

June 22 to June 28: Accord, New York (12 miles)

Route: US 44/55; US 9W; US 209; local roads

Campground:   Rondout Valley RV Resort  This continues to be one of our favorite campgrounds. We were surprised at how crowded it was on a Monday morning. We weren't able to get a 50-amp site, but we were lucky to get a site where we could use our dish.

Tuesday is cheap popcorn day at Regal Theaters, so we went to see "The Proposal" starring Sandra Bullock. It was the funniest movie we've seen this year. After the movie I was waiting outside the rest rooms for Diane when I heard my name.  I turned around and saw Dick and Kay Ackerman standing there.  I knew they were in the area and we had plans to meet for dinner on Thursday. I didn't expect to see them before then.  They went to see the same movie.  Small world.  We haven't seen them in more than a year.

Curt came over several evenings for dinner and to visit. We had planned to take him and Talisian to see Transformers 2, but only Curt could make it since Talisian was still ill. We continued to have rain and more rain.

The huge amount of rain resulted in a tree falling down in our niece, Michelle's, yard. Curt had a chain saw and offered to go over to cut the tree into pieces. Diane and I also went over to help pile up the logs and throw the rest back in the wooded area. My brother, Charlie was also there to visit his two kids and three granddaughters for a few weeks. Michelle then took us all out for a nice lunch.

The week went by quickly and it was time to leave. Our next stop would be a short distance away in Middletown.

June 29 to July 5: Middletown, New York (36 miles)

Route: US 209; SR 17; SR 211; local Roads

Campground:  Elks Lodge The directions to the lodge had us going up Prospect Street, and I do mean UP since the street went up two steep hills. I have never bottomed out the rear of the motorhome, but the second hill was so steep that the motorhome did bottom out on the transition to the second hill. The first thing I noticed that the mud guard in the back was bent. What I didn't notice until the second day we were there was that the tailpipe also was damaged, probably from the mud guard hitting it. The tailpipe got scrunched up a bit at the tip. I found an Onan CoachCare shop in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania so we made plans to stop there next Monday when we leave Middletown and start heading south.

It rained every day we were in Middletown. Once again I got rained out of a round of golf, this time with my brother Charlie. UGH!!!
Three weeks in the Hudson Valley and not one round of golf. Records were being set with all the rain this summer.

The rain gave us a great opportunity to catch up on the last couple of movies we wanted to see. There was an AMC theater at the Galleria with great ticket prices for their matinees. Five dollars. I can't remember the last time we paid just five dollars for a movie ticket. We went to see "My Sisters Keeper" on Tuesday. The free popcorn day for AMC theaters is on Wednesday, so we went to see "Public Enemies" starring Johnny Depp on Wednesday. There was a Borders in the mall so we went there just about every day to sit for a couple of hours and read. It's a relaxing way to spend some time.

In 1969 the most incredible music festival in my lifetime happened and I wasn't there even though I was living in the area.  I have no recollection as to why, but have sometimes wished I had gone.  We were at an Elks Lodge about 35 miles away and I have always wanted to see the site.  So we went to tour what is now the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts.  There is a museum there dedicated to the 1969 festival.  The festival did not take place in Woodstock, but on Max Yasgur's farm in Bethel.

For anyone into the Woodstock festival, the museum would be of much interest.  They did a great job with it as we spent three hours taking it all in.  There were lots of displays and videos.  When we finished touring the museum we went outside to see the actual site.  We walked all the way down the hill to the monument where we could see where the stage was located.  A guy who was on the museum staff (with a very long white beard) was sitting there talking to folks.  He had a very large photo of the venue as it was in 1969 with 400,000+ people who attended.  He was at Woodstock and never left.

The displays and videos in the museum were excellent.  I even learned stuff.

*  I was always into Santana, but didn't know the drummer (who I always thought was fantastic) was only 20 at the time which made him the youngest performer at the festival.  Comments by some of his musician colleagues couldn't believe the solo he did as part of Soul Sacrifice.  A nine minute video can be found on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnamP4-M9ko)

* I didn't know Santana was an unknown band at the time whose manager had to beg to get them into the festival, and for just $1,500.  The going rate at the time was around $10,000, but the promoters were paying up to $15,000 to get big names signed up.  Jimi Hendrix asked for $30,000 and he got it.

* Tickets cost $6 per day and they planned on 150,000 people.  Of course, it turned into a free concert when they couldn't control the number of folks who arrived.

*  There is a movie theater in the museum showing a very good 21 minute movie with some clips of performances.  Santana's performance has been acknowledged as one of the highlights and got the most play.  They showed two clips of Jimi Hendrix, including that electrifying version of the Star Spangled Banner.

Until next time, safe travels.....

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