The Journey Begins

After spending about a month in our daughter Jill's driveway, it was time to say goodbye.  We knew it wouldn't be an easy thing to do, especially for Jill.  There were hugs and tears, and then I cranked up the engine and pointed our home on wheels of the driveway.  Diane experienced two episodes where it hit her that we were actually pulling up stakes and starting a new lifestyle. The first one was back in May when we drove out of our subdivision to go to Indiana to pick up the motorhome and she cried for a few minutes, both because of joy and apprehension. The second was after we pulled out of Jill's driveway.  She presented a strong face to Jill and the two older grandkids, who think what we are doing is cool, but she started to cry as we got out of site of Jill's house.  But we were both sure this is what we have always wanted to do, so off we went and The Journey Begins.

It's hard to believe that it has been almost three months that we have been on the road.  We have covered a lot of ground during the past three months and visited lots of folks.  The first three months of our new lifestyle have been primarily a "Friends and Family (F&F) Tour".  This travelogue covers our travels from the time we left Atlanta on July 9 up to the FMCA convention in Maine in mid-August, which kind of represented phase 1 of our F&F Tour this year.  It also includes a few stories about how we got ourselves trapped with our 50-foot rig and had to extricate ourselves, and also about friendships.  The next travelogue will pick up our travels in Maine as we traveled into Canada and started phase 2, which ended with our return to Jill's house in early October.  

As you can see, I am way behind in keeping up with writing about our travels.  I guess that's because we've been playing a lot and having fun.  It seems like we've been busier in the past three months than in the past several years of work when we were doing lots of worldwide traveling.  The proof of that is the stack of magazines I don't seem to have time to read.  I never had that problem when I was working, not that I plan to go back to work so that I can keep up with my magazines.

There will be lots of photos on the two photo pages for this travelogue, including a new 'do' for what was left of the hair I had on my head.  I have my friend Frank to thank for that.  You can click on "photos" to get directly to the first photo page, which has a connector to the second page, or you can click on specific links in the text to get to the photos associated with that part of the travelogue.  Unfortunately, I don't have photos of everyone that we saw during our travels and I apologize for that.  Sometimes I don't focus on taking the camera with us.

So where do I start.  I think the best way to do this is to present it mostly in chronological order with some tangents along the way.  Our first stop was Myrtle Beach to visit Diane's Aunt Gladys and Uncle Karl.  They used to live in Connecticut, but finally had enough of brutal winters.  So they ended up in Myrtle Beach.  It is so great to have lots of time and not feel time-pressured. We took two days to drive there and spent the travel night in a Wal-Mart parking lot in Florence, SC.  That brings the number of Wal-Marts we have stayed at to four.  

As we were making our way to Myrtle Beach, we weren't sure about which way would be best to approach it and we missed a turn.  No problem.  Just hang a left off of the 4-lane divided highway and go 'around the block' and fix our route.  However, after we made the turn and pulled over to look at a map, we decided we were going in the right direction after all.  It looked like all I needed to do was hang two left turns and be back on track.  Nope.  There was no way to make a left turn because the road we ended up on fed us back onto the main road GOING IN THE WRONG DIRECTION.  OK, no problem.  I could see cuts in the median and I thought I could U-turn the behemoth if I swung far enough to the right before turning hard back to the left.  It got a little dicey because I was towing the car and, if we didn't make it all the way around, we'd have to stop traffic while we unhitched the car and backed up the motorhome.  You can NOT back up a motorhome when you are towing a car.  That is definitely verboten.  Plus it probably won't work and it could do some damage to the car, the motorhome, or both if the car ran up the tow bar onto the hitch.  So there I was trying to engage my brain to see what my eyes were telling me and I decided I could do it. First, check to make sure no cars are coming for about the next hour, or so.  Then say a quick prayer because it would be a tight turn.  Then commit.  I knew it would be close because there was no where to go on the other side of the road as I made the turn. Very little shoulder and then a DITCH.  Sigh.  

For those of you who have never driven a big motorhome where the wheels are BEHIND you, as they are in a diesel pusher, it is a different feel.  In gas motorhomes, you are either right on top of the wheels or they are slightly in front of you.  I aimed the front of the motorhome straight across the road as far as my eyes and brain would allow me to do that and then started turning hard left.  All the time I was trying to focus on where the wheels were, not where the front of the motorhome was.  After a few seconds, I knew I would be OK and not put us in the ditch.  The view for Diane, however, was quite different in the passenger seat.  What she saw was that she was about to roll over into the ditch and started informing me of that fact.  Actually, she was pretty frantic and yelling at me to "Stop. You are going into the ditch."  As I continued the turn, she became a little more frantic and started leaning to the left in her seat, as though that would have prevented the motorhome from rolling over.  But yours truly had the situation well in hand and we made the turn just fine and continued on our way.  Diane's color returned to her face and she was able to breathe normally again.  I think it was then that she decided that maybe driving the beast would be a bit more of a challenge than she thought.  

Our stay in Myrtle Beach was enjoyable.  We did eat at a Calabash seafood place and visited with Diane's aunt and uncle.  She had a great visit one day with her aunt as they reminisced about old times while looking through old family albums.  If there was a downside, it was for me to be surrounded by more than 60 golf courses and not getting a chance to play.  That's mostly my fault because Diane told me to just go out and play.  But I much more prefer to play with someone I know than to go out and just join up with three strangers.  I've done that many times.  Sometimes it works and sometimes you feel like an intruder on the group.  

One other interesting thing happened while we were there.  I was getting a fault light on the inverter and called the company to see if they could diagnose the problem.  The guy I spoke to said he knew of the problem and would ship me a new board for the unit and I'd have it overnight.  It arrived as planned and I found a local guy who said he could do the warranty work to install it.  He said he would be at the campsite at 8 AM on the day we were leaving for Raleigh.  He showed up early on a very rainy morning.  I mean it was pouring.  He said he'd give it a shot, so both of us went to the bay in which the inverter was installed and he started working to remove the cover.  Now picture this pretty big guy who was wearing one of the two ponchos we carry with us, and me holding a golf umbrella over him that was doing absolutely no good against the blowing rain.  We were both getting soaked. Well, he got the cover off and decided he couldn't install the board without removing the unit.  I asked him if he really wanted to do that given the pouring rain and he said 'no'.  Whew.  So he put the cover back on and left.  Then we started our trip to Raleigh, which was the stopping point for our journey to Massanutten, VA and a week in a time share unit.  

We spent one night in Raleigh to visit some former neighbors of ours, Joe and Roxanne Larotonda, from when we lived in Poughkeepsie.  The stopping place for the night was a Wal-Mart parking lot.  Unfortunately, Joe had been ill for several days and not up to going out to dinner.  But Roxanne came down to meet us at the Wal-Mart since it turned out we were very close to where they lived.  It was great to see her again.  We had a great dinner talking about old times and what the kids were up to.

Then it was on to Massanutten, VA in the Shenandoah Valley.  This was a week in a time share unit that was scheduled a year before we got the motorhome.  Diane has some very long-time friends, Ed and Emily Herzberg, from when she lived in New Jersey.  They were going to be at Massanutten for two weeks and Emily suggested that maybe we could try to trade our time share week for the same place.  We got lucky and were able to get a unit not far from theirs.  We parked the motorhome at the top of the ski resort and left it there for the week.  Diane enjoyed seeing her friends again after many years.  They talked for hours while Ed and I went out a couple of days to play golf.

We took a couple of days to do some siteseeing in the area.  One day we went to Luray Caverns and another day we went to see the Natural Bridge.  Luray Caverns were discovered by accident in 1978 by a tinsmith and a local photographer.  As with other caverns like this, there were large chambers full of stalactite and stalagmite formations, as well as lakes that reflected these formations.  In one room, the Great Stalacpipe Organ played music by using various stone formations to provide the tones for the notes.

The Natural Bridge lies under what is today known as US Route 11.  It has a long history dating back to the 18th century and the Revolutionary War.  During the war, men would pour drops of molten lead from the top of the bridge.  These lead drops were shaped by gravity into spheres as they fell into the cool water below.  The revolutionary troops used these metal spheres as bullets to help defeat the British.  Thomas Jefferson purchased the bridge and surrounding land in 1773 from King George III for 20 shillings.

We drove along the Blue Ridge Parkway as we traveled to Luray Caverns and Natural Bridge and I have included some "Views from the Blue Ridge Mountains" photos on the photo page.

The next stop was Wilkes-Barre, PA on the way to the Endicott, NY area to visit with my uncle and cousins, and an ex-colleague from my traveling work days.  There were two people I knew in high school, Bob Grant and Marsha Faye, who got married and lived in Wilkes-Barre.  We had arranged to meet for dinner during the one-night stopover.  So we found a local Wal-Mart and parked it there for the night.  It's interesting how some people don't seem to change and are recognizable many many years later.  I recognized Marsha immediately, but would not have recognized Bob.  I doubt either of them would have recognized me in a crowd but, of course, I didn't have a beard in high school, and I DID have hair back then.  We had a nice visit chatting about old friends from high school and the upcoming 40th reunion in July 2001.

It was only a couple of hours drive to Endicott, so off we went to find the campground where we would park the motorhome for a few days.  I definitely had to visit my Uncle Frank, also a retired IBMer.  He is 79 and was always one of my favorites.  So was my Aunt Stella.  She died a few years ago and it was a bit sad not to see her there this trip.  I have EIGHT cousins from my Uncle and Aunt.  They had four boys in a row and then took a break for a few years (to recharge their batteries, I guess).  Then they had three girls and one more boy.  Seven of them live in the Owego area:  Robert, Tom, Raymond, Tim, Susie, Patty, and Jimmy. The other cousin, Kathy, lives in the Phoenix area.  I was fortunate to be able to visit with all seven of them, and even got to play golf with two of them.  Most of my cousins are not very keen on being photographed, so it was a challenge to get photos. I got most of them. 

I stayed pretty close to most of my relatives.  I think that's because I grew up in the era of the 'nuclear family', on both my mother's and father's side.  I had 16 aunts and uncles, and numerous cousins, and both grandmothers, who all lived within blocks of each other in NYC back in the 40s and early 50s.  Then we all started to migrate out to Long Island, but still lived several miles from each other, which meant we got to visit often.  That environment developed strong roots to family that has stuck with me throughout my life.  It was great to see everyone again.

While we were in Endicott we also got to visit with Tuan and Amy Nguyen.  Tuan and I worked on the same team during my last several months of work.  He is Vietnamese and told me that if we ever got to Endicott, he would prepare a Vietnamese meal for us.  So we took him up on that offer.  Those of you who were receiving my travelogue notes from when I was working know how much I love to eat different foods, especially local ethnic food when we were abroad.  You may also remember that I loved the shabu-shabu dining experience in Japan.  Well, Tuan and Amy prepared shabu-shabu Vietnamese style.  It included rice paper, egg rolls, veggies, shrimp, beef, squid.  Yummy.  We had a great evening of dining and talking, and then I was treated to a demonstration of Tuan's marvelous home theater system.  It consisted of a 60" TV, custom floor speakers, lots of electronics.  Wow!  One always should have a "Plan B" just in case "Plan A" doesn't work out.  Our "Plan A" is full-timing in our motorhome, but my "Plan B" would be to own a home in a golf community and then set up a great home theater in the house.  Tuan's system would be right up my alley.  Great visual and audio experience.  Way to go Tuan.

After a few days, it was time to continue our journey and head to the Hudson Valley.  We drove across Route 17, which is a nice scenic route, until we got to Route 52 and then we cut across the Catskills to the Kingston, NY area.  My son, Curt, and his family, including our grandson, Talisian, lived there.  Curt's in-laws, Stefan and Anna Marie Geisel, had enough property for us to park our Dutch Star for the 10 days we'd be in the area. Stefan is a cabinet maker with a shop on the property, so Curt had wired a separate line from the cabinet shop out to where we would park the motorhome. We even had the opportunity to dump our holding tanks when they filled up.  Stefan's property used to be a resort and there were still several cabins nearby that had sewer connections.  However, the motorhome was too far away for the sewer hoses to reach.  Ah, not to worry.  Both Curt and Stefan are very handy and very creative.  They found some old PVC pipe that we connected with duct tape (let's hear it for duct tape, the RVers friend).  With everything connected, we held our breath and pulled the valve lever to let the waste flow into the sewer pipe.  It worked great.  No leaks.  What a 'campground'.

One weekend we went with Stefan and Anna Marie to the Crystal Brook Mountain Brauhaus Resort, which is where they go almost ever Saturday night to eat bratwurst and polka dance.  Well, Diane polka danced a couple of times.  One of my biggest regrets is not having ever learned to dance the polka.  Given that my mother's side of the family is Slavish, and I went to several Polish weddings with real polka bands, it's almost a sin that I never learned to polka.  My grandmother, mother, aunts, and uncles were all great polka dancers.  It's one of those missed opportunities in life.  Sigh.

We had lots of people to visit while we were in the area.  We invited everyone to come see us in our new home.  Diane's sister, Marge and her family, lived in Poughkeepsie, so we visited with them there and went out to eat at a favorite Italian restaurant in the city.  Then Marge and her daughter, Michelle, came to visit us in the motorhome.

I have two long-time buddies in the Hudson Valley, like more than 30 years.  The oldest relationship, with Bobby Lonie, dates back to 1963 when my brother and I were 'feeling our oats' (at 18 and 20 years old) and doing a lot of partying and club hopping.  There was a rock group that toured and would often come to Newburgh, NY, which is where we lived at the time.  They were then known as the Argoes (Bobby, Timmy, Johnny, Gene) and were one of those bands that could duplicate the sound of current hits being played on the radio.  They used to play at the Tradewinds, which was right down the road from Stewart Air Force Base (now Stewart Airport), and would play Tuesday thru Sundays, with a matinee on Sundays.  They were four kids from New Jersey and that was their living.  

One Sunday afternoon, we got to meet them through a friend of my brother's.  What a treat.  My brother and I went home for dinner with plans to return for the evening sets.  You have to understand that we grew up in a relatively open house.  That is, anyone and everyone was welcome in our house.  So we asked our folks if they would mind if we asked these four kids to come home for dinner sometime during the week.  They were living out of suitcases at the Hotel Newburgh and we thought they would love a home cooked meal.  Mom and Dad said sure, no problem (we knew that).  We told her not to fuss, just some pasta and meatballs.  WELL.....our mom doesn't know the term 'no fussing'.  We invited the guys over for dinner on a Thursday evening before they started playing at 9 PM.  My mom not only cooked the requested pasta, but had chicken and salads and dessert.  Our dad offered his good stuff for cocktails (drinking age was still 18 at the time).

After they left, my brother and I asked our folks to come out to the Tradewinds with us for just a little while.  We knew our dad had to get up for work in the morning, but they did come out for a set and liked what they saw and heard.  This little dinner was the beginning of long-term relationships.  We saw these guys settle in the Hudson Valley, get married, have kids.  We shared BBQs and visits on holidays.  My folks came to enjoy going to the club to watch them perform, and even to dance a few numbers.  They reveled in the guys talking to them from the stage and playing their favorite songs when they were in the club.  Lifelong friends all because of one dinner for four kids playing in a rock band.  My parents were cool.

The group experienced a change in which the lead singer left and a new singer, Dave Kennedy, joined.  At that time, the name of the group was changed to The Goodtimes, and that stuck until the band disbanded after more than 25 years.  The one I stayed closest to was the drummer, Bobby.  We became golfing buddies prior to my moving to South Florida and had some great times, including two season-long golf bets that cost me a dinner each time.

I started my career with IBM in 1966 in Poughkeepsie.  In 1968, a crew of new hires joined that would change things in the work environment.  Dave Meck was one of those new hires.  Dave wasn't someone I was particularly friendly with early on.  We didn't seem to have much in common at the time and we were in different social circles.  I guess I was more establishment and the crew Dave came in with were more anti-establishment.  Then after a department reorganization, I found myself sharing an office with him. That turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me in my career.  It was then that we learned more about each other, including views on the establishment.  I wasn't as establishment oriented as he may have thought I was, and he wasn't as anti-establishment as I though he was.  From those beginnings came a friendship that has lasted more than 30 years, including many years playing on the same team in a fast-pitch softball league.  Dave is only one of two folks from my Poughkeepsie days that I have stayed in touch with all the years since we left the area in 1977.  It was great to see him again, albeit for only a short visit.

Other friends that came to visit with us were Linda and Bernie.  I've known Linda since 1974 and, unfortunately, she had been very ill most of this year.  It was nice to see her again and to see her beating her illness.  It was a great visit in the Hudson Valley and we were very glad so many people were able to come visit with us.

The time arrived for us to continue our journey.  Our next stop was a stop inWest Copake, NY, where Jim and Lee Anderson lived.  I worked for Jim when I was in Poughkeepsie back in the late 60s and early 70s, and he is the other person I stay in touch with from the early days of my career.  He ranks right up there as one of the better managers for whom I worked during my career.  After he retired, Jim completed his studies for the ministry and became an ordained minister.  His church and congregation are located in West Copake.  

We had a nice evening chatting about old times.  Jim and Lee have been hikers forever and have visited some very interesting places in the world.  Lee spent a year in China and Jim visited for a while during that time frame.

Then it was on to Pepperell, MA to Frank and Matsuko (Mutchie) Gallo.  Frank and I went to Island Trees High School in Wantagh, LI and graduated together.  We lost touch for about 20 years until the reunion in 1981.  Since that time, we have stayed in touch.  Of course, those of you who were getting the travelogues I was writing from around the world when I was still working know that the highlight last year was being able to visit with Frank in Tokyo.  He was on vacation and I was working there for three weeks.  The timing was perfect for a long weekend visit that will always remain a great memory for me.  

We were looking forward to visiting Frank at his home.  However, it wasn't easy getting into our motorhome into his driveway.  It was one of our first "off-road" experiences with our home on wheels.  Frank took down a limb that would have prevented us getting into the driveway.  Once we were in, it turned out to be a very level place to park.  What a great place to have a home.  It was so quiet and peaceful.  I could see why Frank and Mutchie decided to settle there.

Frank works in Boston and they own a condo there to avoid the long commute.  We were invited to go to Boston on Saturday and spend the night at their condo.  What a great opportunity.  I had been to Boston only once, and that was way back around 1972.  Diane had never been there.  Having Frank and Mutchie as guides, we took a driving tour around the city, and then a walking tour around the Charles River Park area which was where the condo was located.  We had dinner at one of their favorite Italian restaurants, Picollo Venezia, and had a great time talking about old times.  Frank's memory about our high school years was much better than mine and I enjoyed listening to some of the stories that had long since gone out of my memory.

When we met Frank in Tokyo, he had recently had his hair cut down to almost nothing.  It actually looked good, but I wasn't ready to do that.  Well, on our last night at Frank's place, I decided it was time to do something with the hair I had left on my head.  I always said it would either be no hair or I'd grow what's there and put it in a pony tail.  NOT!  So off it came and I have Frank to thank for my new 'do'.

Again it was time to move on.  We were gradually making our way to Maine for the Family Motorcoach Association (FMCA) convention to be held at the Brunswick Naval Air Station.  Our plans were to spend a week prior to the convention in the Boothbay area to visit with an ex-colleague of mine from the days I was traveling 100%.  On the way, we decided to take a little detour to Sabattus, ME to have some warranty work at a Newmar dealer to fix a noisy air conditioner.  So we traveled from Pepperell, MA to Poland Springs, ME (home of Poland Springs bottled water).  It rained the entire trip as we traveled up the Maine turnpike.  Not a fun travel day at all.  Luckily, it stopped raining long enough to get set up in the campground for the night.

The next morning we headed out to find Mountain Road RV for our service appointment.  We had directions to the dealership, as well as map from our Street Atlas software.  And then it happened.  From the time we left Pepperell, and until the time we arrived in Boothbay, our travels presented us with some "challenges".  We were moving along quite nicely until we came to the stop sign.  It was a "T" intersection and we were to turn left.  However, a sign on that road said no vehicles over 10 tons were allowed.  Well, we weigh in at almost 15 tons.  So we decided to go straight ahead to see if we could bypass that road.  Bad move.  We went about a mile further and came to another "T" intersection.  We were at a stop sign and could go straight or turn left.  BOTH choices presented us with a sign that said no vehicles over 4 1/2 tons allowed.  Now we were trapped.  We couldn't go in either direction and there was no way to U-turn the beast.  So we unhooked the Honda from the motorhome, and then I gingerly did a 3-point U-turn in the intersection until I got it facing back the way we had come.  Luckily, there was little traffic and we didn't hold up anyone for long.  Little did we know at the time that this would not be the last time we would find ourselves in a position where we'd have to unhitch the Honda to extricate ourselves.

I called Mountain Road on the cell phone and was told that they had no idea why the first sign we saw was there.  We figured the sign was for a bridge on that road that precluded heavy vehicles.  It turned out that it was there only to discourage large vehicles from going down a semi-residential area.  So we went down that road, found the dealership, dropped off the motorhome, went back down the road to eat breakfast at a local place, and then back to the dealership to get our motorhome and hit the road for Boothbay.

Our adventure didn't end with the road in Sabattus.  We decided to travel across route 197 on the way to Boothbay.  It was a narrow, 2-lane road, but not too bad.  It was, however, one of those roads that always seemed to dip to the right.  I kept having the feeling that the motorhome was going to roll over when we hit those dips.  It wouldn't, of course, but it sure didn't feel good. We were making our way towards Boothbay when we came up to a curve that had a sign staring at us that said low clearance, 11 feet.  Well, we measure in at 12 feet.  We couldn't see around the curve to see what was causing the low clearance, but luckily there was a pulloff on the right.  So I pulled off the road, put the motorhome in park and got out to go see what the problem was. I got around the curve and saw a swing bridge across the river.  The clearance was, indeed, only 11 feet, but only at the sides.  A sign indicated that the height was 15 feet down the center.  I could see that it was wide enough for me to drive the motorhome down the center of the road, so I went back to the motorhome and got back on the road.  There was no traffic behind me, so I stopped to make sure no vehicles were coming the other way, and then I started across.  The bridge was several hundred yards long and all was going well.  Until a car came around the curve and headed towards the bridge.  Now you would think that a reasonable person would STOP their vehicle if they saw a 30000 pound motorhome driving down the center of the road.  Nope. Not this driver.  He started across the bridge.  I was almost across and there was no way I was backing up.  So I stopped to see what this fool was going to do.  He kept coming and moved far right.  So I started forward and moved as far right as I thought I could without taking the roof off.  Then I stopped and let him inch past me.  And yes, I DID lean on the air horn.  UGH.

We arrived in Boothbay without further incidence and parked ourselves at the Little Ponderosa campground.  We would stay there for three nights and then move down the road to Shore Hills campground for five nights.  Shore Hills has a large area for big rigs.  What an incredible site.  It was the first time I'd seen so many "high line" (i.e., very expensive) motorhomes in one place.  It was to be even more mind boggling at the FMCA convention.  There must have been $20 million worth of motorhomes in that area of the campground.  There were Newells, Prevost, Country Coaches, Monacos, some of which would list around $1 million when new.

I had a small world experience at Shore Hills.  A guy, Dave Dyer, came over and started chatting with me because we still had a Cobb County, Georgia tag on the motorhome and car.  Turns out he was from the Atlanta area, too.  Dyer & Dyer are bigtime car dealerships in Atlanta.  As we chatted, I started to have this feeling he knew someone I used to work for in Atlanta.  He started telling me about someone he knew and I said "would that be Larry Norwood"?  Sure enough, it was.  I'm always amazed at these small world incidents.  As Dave and I were talking, another guy came over who was also from the Atlanta area.  He was a much older fellow and introduced himself as Debose Egelston.  Turns out his great grandfather founded Egelston Children's Hospital in Atlanta.  Small world indeed.

Our friend, and my ex-colleague, Tom McGonegal and his wife Tish live in the Burlington, VT area, and have a summer home in Ocean Point.  That's what brought us up to Boothbay prior to the FMCA.  Tom and I worked and traveled together for a couple of years before he left the department for another assignment.  He is now retired and working elsewhere.  I know several folks who are doing that, including my brother.  They retire and get a pension and then go off and work for about the same pay they made prior to retirement.  That's a great deal if one is not ready to really RETIRE.  Diane and I were ready to call it quits and play.  We had enough of work.  :-)

I LOVE lobster or, as they say in Maine, lobsta, and couldn't resist the temptation to fill up on lobster, and I DID fill up on lobster.  I ate some kind of lobster every day, including at least eight pound and a halfers.  Yummy.  Imagine a 1 1/2 pound lobster, cole slaw, corn-on-the-cob, all for $12-15. What a deal.  We ate lobster at the Lobstermen's Coop at Boothbay Harbor, at Robinson's Wharf on Southport Island, and at a community lobster bake with the McGonegals on Ocean Point.

Tom and Tish's cottage overlooks the ocean.  What a view.  They are not on the ocean, but have an unobstructed view.  What a great place to escape to on summer weekends.  They have owned the cottage for more than 25 years and all four of their sons grew up there during the summers.  I'm sure there are lots of memories associated with the cottage.  We had a great visit with them, and it was nice to have a tour guide to show us around the area.  He took us on a tour to see some houses in the area.  One house was very unique in that the owner cut each shingle by hand.  Sort of looked like a gingerbread house.  He also pointed out an island owned by the actress, Margaret Hamilton, who played the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz.

From Boothbay, we headed to Brunswick and the FMCA convention.  This is one of the biggest RV rallies and is held twice a year in winter and summer.  People ask me what we do at these rallies.  Well, there are lots of activities, including seminars in which folks can learn lots of things, from how to cook in a microwave/convection oven, to technical topics about motorhome maintenance, to topics about full-time RVing.  This was our first rally, which was scheduled for three days, and we were so busy the first two days attending seminars, we had no time to partake in some of the other activities, like spending money at the many booths selling stuff for RVers.  There were also about 1000 new motorhomes on display, which was like being a kid in a candy shop.  We got to walk through million dollar motorhomes.  We even saw a motorhome listed as "pre-owned by Donny Osmond".

This RV rally had big name entertainment scheduled:  Melissa Manchester and Lee Greenwood.  There were so many people that they scheduled two shows on the days they performed: 5:30PM and 8PM.  The Lee Greenwood performance was great.  One of the hangars was converted to a theater for the concerts.

We also finally got to meet Bob and Anne Roney who I had known from the RVAMERICA bulletin board (BB).  They also own a Dutch Star.  It's always nice to put faces to names that you've seen on BBs.  We had some nice visits, including the lobsterbake put on by the FMCA.

We bought our Dutch Star from Damon Rapozo at Shorewood RV in Anoka, MN, and we did it all via email, phone, and fax. He was there for the convention so we finally got to meet him.  He had our cell phone number and knew about where we were parked, so he called me and told me he was parked in his car next to this Dutch Star with Georgia plates.  So out we went to meet him.  It was as though we'd known him for years because of interactions on the BB and via email.  It was nice to finally meet our salesman.

I did finally get the board for the inverter installed while at the FMCA convention.  RV companies send techies to these rallies to perform service work and they got it installed quickly, and without having to remove the unit.

Well, that's it for this travelogue.  I know it's a lot, but I guess I'm a story teller at heart.  It covered our travels from the beginning of our RV lifestyle on July 9 through August 20.  The next travelogue will cover the period from August 21 to October 7, which is when we arrived back in the Atlanta area.  It will cover our travels into Canada as we made our way to Goshen, IN for the Escapees Fall Escapade.  After the Escapade, we made our way to Illinois, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Texas (to become Texans).  So until next time......

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