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We stayed in the Atlanta area for a couple of weeks to take care of doctor and dentist appointments, and to visit with our kids and grandkids who lived in the area. While we were there, Raven turned two years old, so one day we took the kids to Chuck E Cheese for a little party (oh lucky me). :-) Luckily, it was during the week and the place wasn't mobbed, so it wasn't as noisy and loud as it probably is on the weekends when it's packed. Whew! It was fun to watch the kids climb on the play gyms in the place, and ham it up in front of the blue screen while watching themselves on TV. Of course, I enjoyed the pizza.
A very good, and longtime, friend of Diane's who lived in South Carolina, Nancy Fisher, had hoped we'd be going that way on our journey. It turned out that we weren't going that way this year, so she said she would like to drive to Atlanta to visit for a day. It must have seemed like old times for Diane and Nancy as they went out to lunch and talked for hours. Diane was very glad that Nancy decided to make the drive to Atlanta for a visit.
We did the usual things with the kids and grandkids when we visit: eating out; hanging out; taking grandkids to the movies; watching Richard play baseball; and I even went out to pitch some batting practice to Richard and field some fly balls. And I wasn't even very sore after that outing.
Diane and I own a time share week at Tropic Sun Towers in Ormond Beach, FL, but we've always traded out to other places. This year we decided to go to Myrtle Beach for the week. We got a hit for a week in April. We were able to park the motorhome in the parking lot near the pool while we stayed in the condo for the week. My brother, Charlie, flew up for the week and we had a great time playing golf, seeing a show, and eating out. One day, Charlie was sitting out on the patio and met the folks in the condo next door, Hank and Diane Hartle, from Missouri. It turned out that Hank was quite a golfer, as in almost a scratch golfer, which means low, or no, handicap. We invited him to play with us during the week and we played four times together, and then I played one more round after Charlie flew out to go home.
Charlie, Diane, and I went to see the Legends show, which was a cast with imitators or stars. We saw Neil Diamond, the Blues Brothers, the Andrews Sisters, Kenny Rogers, Liberace, and Elvis. Great show. The show is based in Vegas, but they rotate talent to Myrtle Beach. The resemblance for Neil Diamond and Elvis was striking. It was like looking at a young Elvis, not like one of those Elvis impersonator wannabes. This guy was great, including his voice.
We had a great time all week visiting with each other. The two Dianes went out shopping while we played golf, or just lounged around the condos. It was also a great opportunity for Diane to visit with her Aunt Gladys and Uncle Karl who lived in the Myrtle Beach area. All in all, a great and relaxing week. I guess you could say we took a vacation from our full-timing lifestyle.
We would now start to seriously move north. Our first stop would be an overnight in the local Wal-Mart to visit with some former neighbors from when we lived in Poughkeepsie, NY, Joe and Roxanne Larotonda. Back in 2000 when we did our maiden voyage, the Friends and Family Tour, we stopped overnight for a visit with them, but Joe was ill at the time and we only got to visit with Roxanne. In the meantime, they decided to make the move to the house they owned in Southport, NC. They live in a great golfing community called St. James. As I've said before, that would be my Plan B if we weren't living the RV full-timer lifestyle. If/when we come off the road, I would want to live in such a community. Roxanne came to pick us up at the Wal-Mart and took us for a tour of the town and the community, and then to their house for dinner. We took a short walk on the golf course after dinner and had a great visit catching up on everyone. Diane and I really loved the town and decided that we'd have to research a campground not too far away to see if we could get our rig in their for a future visit that would be longer than just one day. And of course, I really would love to play the golf courses in St. James.
Jim Hollis was leaving the department that I worked in right at the time I was joining that department. It's interesting how sometimes you form a bond with someone based on very little contact, and sometimes you work with folks for many years and they remain only work acquaintances. That's what happened with Jim and I. I think we only worked together twice, and only for a few weeks each time, and then he was gone. Our paths crossed seldom over the next several years, but we maintained contact, especially in the past couple of years since I retired. So a visit to Manassas to visit with Jim and Joanne was on our list of places to stop. Given that Diane and I had never been to Washington, D.C., we were able to also spend a couple of days in the city.
We arrived in Manassas after a day's drive from Southport. Unfortunately, the drive was not without incident. Somewhere on I-95, between the first rest area and the Flying-J a bit further north, lies the hot water heater door from our motorhome. We always do a walk around before we hit the road after a stop. The door was there at the rest area, but I never would have thought to check the latch to make sure it was in the right position. It was never a problem during the two years we'd been on the road, and I never heard about any problems with the door, at least not until I posted MY experience on RV bulletin boards. It was then that I found out that losing a hot water heater door wasn't all that unusual. So $175 later, the new door is wired shut. I would also like to mention that Newmar stepped up and agreed to cover the cost of the new door and reimbursed me.
The campground we decided to stay at was the Greenville Farm Family Campground in Haymarket. They had a few pullthru sites with full hookups that were to our liking and it was the most convenient campground for us to visit with Jim and Joanne and to get to the Metro for day trips into Washington. We spent a week in the area and it was great to catch up on old times with Jim as we had many common business acquaintances.
We used the Metro to get into Washington and it was great. Obviously, we went in after the morning rush hour and went home after the evening rush hour. We did the usual tourist stuff and visited the Lincoln Memorial, Korean War Memorial, Vietnam War Memorial, and Washington Monument, although we didn't have an opportunity to go into it. I was very moved by the visit to the Vietnam wall. There were two names that I know on that wall and found both of them.
Given that we only had the two days in the city, we didn't spend a lot of time in some of the places that we could have spent many hours, such at the Natural History Museum, the American History Museum, and the National Art Gallery. We did watch the IMAX movie, Africa: the Serengeti, which was great. We love IMAX movies. We walked along the mall to the Capitol building, but found out that you need to get tickets, and those are available very early in the morning. The White House was still restricted to certain groups, such as school groups, but we did walk out front and got a look at it.
One day while looking at the local newspaper, I saw that the play, Mamma Mia, was in Washington. I called to see if we could get tickets, but they said only some single seats were available for the dates we could see it. The first day we were in Washington and walking around, I noticed the National Theater where Mamma Mia was playing. So we figured there was nothing to lose to stop in and check on tickets. We found out that tickets were available for the Sunday matinee, however, they were "limited view" seats. I asked how much of the stage was cut off and the guy said it wasn't too bad. Then he told me the tickets were normally $75, but had been reduced to $55 given they weren't selling. So we got two tickets and went to see the show on Sunday. We had great seats and very little of the stage was out of our view. Diane found out that the guy sitting next to her paid $75 and he also couldn't see the entire stage. His seat was not considered a "limited view" seat. So we lucked out. The show was marvelous, especially if you happen to like the music of ABBA. I have always liked ABBA and have their boxed set, so I did enjoy the show a lot.
Diane and I both agreed that Washington had a very nice look and feel about it and deserved a more lengthy visit. We agreed that we would have to return for a week and trade in some of our Marriott points for a week at the downtown Marriott, which we visited when we were in town for the show. It is right around the corner from the National Theater. There was so much more that we wanted to see, plus we would want to walk around the city much more than we were able to in two days.
The day before we left Manassas, we stopped into the visitor center for the Manassas Battlefield. We didn't have much time that day, but we wanted to check it out. There was a very nice electric light map with a voice narration that described the Union and Confederate troop movements in the area during the battle. This electric light map was smaller in scale to the one in Gettysburg, but we thought it was better.
On the list of places that we want to see was Gettysburg. We planned to spend a week in the area, and it was even better when we saw that there was a Coast to Coast park, the Gettysburg Battlefield Resort. We arrived after a short drive from Manassas and just did nothing (one of my favorite pastimes) for the rest of the day. It took a little while to get settled into a site as we played "musical campsites" looking for one on which we could use our satellite dish. We finally found a site, parked the rig, and settled in for the evening. The next morning we took our first ride to the battlefield.
WOW!!!!! That is my reaction to the place. We went to the Cyclorama first to get a feel for the area. It was OK, but we were absolutely spoiled by the fantastic Cyclorama in Atlanta. We decided that we need to revisit that one as we haven't been there for many years and now the older grandkids may get something out of it. Then we walked along one of the trails and went out on the 2-3 hour (depending on the route) auto tour. What is amazing about Gettysburg is the ENORMITY of the battlefield. It was interesting trying to envision 20,000 Confederate soldiers coming out of the woods and forming a line a mile wide and crossing an open field to engage Union forces. I can understand when folks say this is hallowed ground. It most surely is. There were lots of roads that go through the battlefield. There were also lots of monuments all over the area to remember the various fighting groups that were there on those three terrible days in July 1863.
One of the most amazing facts we learned was that more than 600,000 Americans died in the Civil War and about the same amount died IN ALL OTHER WARS COMBINED in which Americans were involved. We also learned that more than 50,000 Americans died in that 3-day battle. That's almost as many Americans who died in the entire length of the Vietnam War. Did you know that Abner Doubleday, inventor of baseball, was a general in the Union army?
We ended up being out in the battlefield for 2 1/2 hours. The battlefield is many many miles of rolling hills and woods. Quite beautiful; quite peaceful now; quite moving if one thinks about what went on there. This was turning out to be one of the best places we have visited on our journey. I happened to see the video tape for the movie, Gettysburg, for sale in a gift shop, so we went to Blockbuster after breakfast and rented it. It was a rainy and stormy day, so we watched all 4+ hours of the movie. It was amazing how much more interesting and meaningful the movie was now that we had toured the battlefield and were somewhat familiar with the names.
I know that Lee was one of the most beloved Generals in American History, but I don't get it. He clearly blew it at Gettysburg and Gen. Longstreet had a better head on his shoulders. If Lee would have listened to Longstreet, the Confederates may have won that battle. Lee seems to have had a big ego and wouldn't listen to anyone else, including his generals. Good for the Union, not for the Confederacy. This could be a totally different country today if Lee had listened to his generals and maybe helped win the war for the Confederacy. Likewise, we learned that Gen. Meade was faulted for not pursuing Lee's army after the battle and the movie made it clear that he could have routed the Confederate army and maybe even captured Lee if he had done so, which would have ended the war sooner.
We did more touring around Gettysburg over the next three days of our stay. On the Friday before Mother's Day, the USA Today had a list of "The 10 Best Places to Take Mum for Tea". One of the tea rooms was in Gettysburg, Civil-la-Tea (http://www.civil-la-tea.com). So we went to check it out since Diane is a big tea drinker (never touches coffee). We found it in town just down the street from the traffic circle. It was a nice little room with a few tables in the back of a gift shop. Linens on the table, different tea cups at each place setting, and served by someone who knew her teas and made for a very nice setting. The tea menu was fairly extensive, with lots of choices of teas that were all freshly brewed. We had tea and scones and noticed they had a nice little lunch menu. So we promised to return, which we did one day for lunch.
One of the highlights of our visit to Gettysburg was a small reenactment in the campground we were in. There were lots of reenactment groups in the area that staged skirmishes from the Battle of Gettysburg. We saw one at the campground. It was just a small battle, actually a skirmish between 5th Virginia and 49th Pennsylvania (the south won this one, but the north will probably win the next one later in the day). The skirmish was fairly loud and I can only imagine what the sound must have been like with thousands of guns and cannon going off. The hospital display of a leg amputation was quite real looking and well done, but maybe not for the faint of heart. It actually looked like the doctor took off the leg below the knee.
Capping off a great week in Gettysburg was a performance by the Dixie Hiway Band in the clubhouse over the weekend. They were a very good country group consisting of a drummer, lead guitar player, and a husband (on bass) and wife (keyboards). The gal on keyboards was excellent. She also played drums and flute. We got to chat with them and found out they formed the group while down in the Keys many years ago, hence the name of the band, and were a professional group that toured with some big name groups. They decided to settle in Gettysburg as that was home prior to touring. Now they had kids and played on weekends. They were involved with the Boy Scouts and the deal they got was that they would play at the campground in return for some campsites for the boys. Sounded like a good trade.
Our final day in Gettysburg was Mother's Day. We drove to Hanover to see a movie and then to Abbottstown for dinner. The place that caught our eye was the Hofbrauhaus. That was funny because last year we spent Mother's Day in Colorado and ended up eating at a German restaurant in Dolores after driving the San Juan Scenic Byway all day. I guess we've started a tradition to eat at a German restaurant on Mother's Day wherever we may be parked at the time.
It wasn't a very long drive from Gettysburg to the Hudson Valley. We would stay in the area for about three weeks visiting family and friends. I lived in the area from 1961 to 1977, and Diane lived in the area for part of that time frame. Our first stop would be a short stay at the KOA in Newburgh. Although we don't frequent KOAs because they are a bit pricey, we wanted to stop here to make it easy for a manager that I once worked for to drive up to visit with us.
Mary Ann Laudano was a director, and my second line manager, in the last year and a half, or so, that I worked. In another of those small world stories, it turned out that she had worked in the same organization that my brother worked in when he was in the Sterling Forest location. In 1999, the manager I was working for at the time took a new assignment, which left Mary Ann as the first line manager of our department. It wasn't easy to fill the position, so she ended up acting as first line manager for a lot of that year. That turned out to be a good thing because it was Y2K year and I was leading one of the two teams doing Y2K audits in the company and there was always lots of contention. Mary Ann not only had the clout to squelch some of the contention, but she was one of the most even keeled people for whom I have ever worked. Great demeanor and business sense. Considering the difficulty of doing audits in 1999, she made it bearable.
She drove up to see our house on wheels and then took Diane and me out to dinner at a nice quiet place down the road from the campground. We spent several hours chatting about old times and catching up on folks who are still working in the group. It was nice to see her again, and to learn that she had taken a three-year assignment in Paris. She made us promise that we would come visit with her sometime during her stay in Paris. Now that didn't take much arm twisting, so Diane and I will most certainly try to live up to that promise. A free room in Paris? Wow. :-) Not to mention that Diane and I loved the many weeks we spent in Paris.
On our second day at the KOA, Diane drove over to Fishkill to have lunch with her sister, Marge, while I started working on this update for our website. She had a nice visit and made plans for future visits with Marge after we moved a bit further north to Accord.
We arrived in Accord at what turned out to be one of our favorite campgrounds, the Coast to Coast park Rondout Valley RV Resort. We were only able to stay there a week, but we loved it and, as you will see later in this travelogue, we returned for another week before heading west across New York State. My son, Curt, came over for dinner after work and we had a nice evening chatting. It had been two years since we last saw him and our grandson, Talisian, and Marge.
My brother, Charlie, was up from Florida for his second granddaughter's first birthday. Charlie was staying with his stepdaughter, Sherry and her husband Jimmy, and asked if we'd like to meet him and go visit with my nephew Mike and his family. I hadn't seen Mike and his wife Lisa for several years, and had never seen his kids, Olivia and Isabella. It was great to see him again and meet his kids. They were real cuties. On the way back to Sherry and Jimmy's place, Charlie suggested we walk around Wurtsboro, a small town with quaint shops and a coffee shop that we stopped in for a snack. We went to dinner with Charlie, Sherry, and Jimmy, and then it was time to say goodbye to everyone and head back to the campground. It would probably be in the Fall or Winter before we'd see Charlie again.
Since we were only allowed to stay one week at the Rondout Valley campground, we had to move the motorhome. A high school friend of mine lived in the area and offered for us to park our rig on their property on Mirror Lake. We took a ride over to check out whether we could get the rig into the property and stayed for dinner. I hadn't seen Tom McInerney for many years until our 40th high school reunion last year on Long Island. Tom and his wife, Barbara, were there and we renewed our friendship. They had lived in the Ulster Park area for a long time and it wasn't until after we left the area in 2000 when we visited family and friends that I learned that he lived right there. Not only that, but there was an overlap of many years when we were all much younger that we all lived in the Hudson Valley and didn't know it. I think that's why I try to stay in touch with people as much as possible, to avoid not knowing folks are close by.
Tom and Barbara were going away over Memorial Day Weekend and left the property to us. The location was marvelous, with a lake just several feet away and shaded, although it wasn't very hot that weekend. We just lounged around and took Curt and Talisian to see the new Star Wars movie that had just opened. One day, we had Curt (Talisian was away for the weekend), and Marge and her daughter, Michelle, and our friend, Bobby and his daughter Taylor, over for a BBQ. Taylor was the only one brave enough to go in the cold water. It was a nice and relaxing day.
Bobby Lonie and I go back to 1963. He was a drummer in a professional bar band called The Argoes. There was Bobby on drums, Timmy Jones on lead guitar, Gene Allen on rythmn guitar and lead singer, and Johnny on bass guitar. I can still remember that Sunday afternoon when we met them. They were all out of New Jersey, and we were all about the same age. They sometimes toured as an opening act with some name bands from that era, such as Jay and the Americans, the Duprees, Fats Domino, and Dion and the Belmonts. Alas, stardom wasn't in the cards, but music was their life, so they toured the bar circuit as a professional bar band. They were kids, as were my brother and I (drinking age in NY at the time was 18). The band would play every night from Tuesday to Sunday, with an afternoon and evening session on Sundays. Charlie and I met them at the afternoon session and told our folks about this great band we just met and they were just kids like us and they were living out of suitcases at the Hotel Washington in Newburgh and wouldn't it be nice to invite them over for a home cooked meal. ;-) Of course, Charlie and I knew they'd say yes because that's the kind of house we had growing up...an open house. We told our mom that we didn't want her to go through a lot of trouble, maybe just some pasta and meatballs. Well, my mom doesn't ever do JUST pasta and meatballs. We invited the guys over on Thursday evening before they had to go play and my mom put out a spread that would have made the Pope happy and content.
After dinner, the guys left to get ready to play and Charlie and I asked our folks to come out and listen to them play. We knew it was a work day the next day, so we suggested just a short stay. They stayed several hours and it was the beginning of a long friendship between the guys and their eventual families, and my mom and dad, and Charlie and I and our families. We always looked forward to them arriving in town.
As things would have it, Gene left the group and they became three. They left the area and found Dave Kennedy along the way in Ishpeming, Michigan, and he became the new lead singer. And what a voice Dave had. Also, Johnny left the group and the remaining guys changed the name to The Goodtimes III, shortened to just The Goodtimes. They played together for more than 25 years. I guess the Hudson Valley was to their liking because they all ended up settling in the area. They did have a large fan base and the clubs they played in were always packed. My mom and dad would always go see them play. Dave would always acknowledge their arrival with a nod and smile from the stage. He also knew they had some favorite songs, such as Behind the Green Door and My Way, and he would always play those for my folks. It was a great time. I loved listening and dancing to The Goodtimes. As a frustrated musician, that is, I never got any good at playing an instrument, I loved watching Timmy play his guitar. He was great. Both he and Bobby had solos they would perform from time to time, Bobby on drums with Caravan, and Timmy on guitar with Malaguena. Sadly, Timmy lost his bout with cancer and died in 2001 at the young age of 56. It was very sad news to receive. I'm so glad that the guys allowed me to sit with a tape recorder on many nights in the clubs to tape their sound. I have tapes from as far back as the 60s and some from the 70s to remember them. Every now and then when I feel nostalgic, I put them on and listen and remember days gone by.
Dave still plays in the area. Occasionally, Bobby joins him for a gig. We were lucky to be in the area when he was playing one evening in Newburgh, so Diane and I went down to see them play. There was a younger guy on guitar who was great. Dave recognized us right away although we hadn't seen him in probably 10 years, or more. Bobby can still play those drums, too. He's my golf partner when we visit the Hudson Valley and we got to play twice during our stay. Friendly competition. ;-)
We learned that that Dick Ackerman had a cousin who lived in Shokan, which was very close to where we were staying. Dick and Kay were staying there and were traveling with Bob and Donna Eberly. We made plans to meet at the Hurley Mountain Inn for dinner (scenes from Tootsie were shot at the Inn). We met at 5 p.m. and didn't leave the place until 7:30 p.m. It was great to see them again and introduce Curt to some of the folks we have met out on the road. He thought they were cool. Bob is deaf and he told some of his deaf jokes and had us all in tears from laughing so hard. Curt was impressed at how well Bob could read lips. It is possible to "talk" to him pretty much normally and Bob understands everything. The Ackermans and Eberlys were heading north in N.Y. to Canada and then over to Nova Scotia. Then they head to the mid-west.
We visited with Linda and Bernie back in 2000. Linda had been fighting a battle with cancer and, so far, was winning the battle. She looked so much better than when we visited in 2000. She said she was at her worst back then. What a difference. She looked great. The treatments were working. Diane and I went over to their place to visit for a while and then we all went out to eat Indian food. It was nice to see them again.
We drove over to Poughkeepsie one day to have lunch with our friend, Dave Meck. He retired last year and took a position at Marist College. We always wish we could visit with people longer, and this visit with Dave was way too short.
Then in another kind of small world story, I decided to look up Jon Anders to see if he and his wife, Kathy, were still in the area. I found him via the web and called. They were now living in Fishkill, but were in the process of selling their place and moving to Southport, NC. That's where we visited our former Poughkeepsie neighbors, Roxanne and Joe Larotonda. Jon and Kathy were planning to move to the same community, so I put them in touch with each other. Small world.
I met Jon way back in 1975, or so. We both found ourselves as single parents with young children to take care of. He had two kids and I had two kids. Along the way, Jon met Kathy, who had four kids, and they clicked and have been together since. A little later, I met Diane who had two kids and we would celebrate our 25th anniversary when we got to Maine. We all used to camp together, and I mean TENT CAMPING. We all belonged to Parents Without Partners (PWP) and went camping on the big summer holiday weekends. We got a big site and pitched the tents and set up the kitchen. Imagine 4 adults and 10 kids. It was certainly interesting and the kids loved camping. We had some great camping weekends.
Tom and Barbara returned from Phoenix and we got to visit during our remaining days parked on their property. Of course, Tom and I got caught up on former high school buddies and shared stories about our days at Island Trees High School. One day, Tom took Diane and me to Mount St. Alphonsus, which was a few miles down the road. What a marvelous piece of property right on the Hudson River. He took us up to the tower to see the great view of the Hudson Valley. It's a retreat house and offers lots of quiet places for meditation and prayer. And in yet another small world story, Barbara worked at the Rondout Middle School and knew Curt's former mother-in-law, who also worked there. It was like small town America where everybody knew everybody else.
The rest of our time in the area was spent relaxing and taking in some local sights. Diane would go down to the lake and read, and I would take advantage of having access to a land line to play on the laptop. Diane and Marge took Michelle to see the movie, Spirit. Diane and I went to watch our grandson, Talisian (age 9), ride his dirt bike. One day when Diane was off with Marge, I went for a 2.5 mile walk with Curt and Talisian along the Ashokan Reservoir. This reservoir is a primary source of water for New York City. It wasn't exactly under lock and key, but there was more security than I've seen there in the past. We also went with Stefan and Anna Marie, Curt's former inlaws, to the Mountain Brauhaus for some brats and polka dancing (I watch).
Curt asked if we liked to hike. Well, we said it depended on what he called hiking. He suggested a ride into the Catskills to Kaaterskill Falls for a half mile walk to the falls. We said sure. Well, it was half mile alright.....up a very rocky trail. Diane doesn't like to quit, so she kept going and did make it to the bottom of the falls. I went another level higher with Curt and Talisian, and then they went yet another level higher. It was a nice hike and beautiful scenery. It was a little more tricky going down.
We had one more visit with Marge and her husband, Mike, for dinner at Stone Hedge; and one more visit with Tom and Barbara for brunch at Deisings in Kingston; and then it was time to say goodbye to everyone and head to Boothbay, Maine.
Our plan for the summer was to tour the Canadian Maritime Provinces with Norm and Linda Payne (www.seeya-downtheroad.com). Unfortunately, Norm had to undergo surgery to remove a tumor from his jaw and they are parked for the summer in Louisville. Diane and I decided to change our plans to wait until next summer to tour the Maritimes and go spend seven weeks in Michigan this summer. However, we still wanted to go to Maine and there were two reasons that gave us incentive to do that:
So off we went to spend 10 days in Boothbay. We made the drive from Kingston to Boothbay in a day trip and decided to stay at the Little Ponderosa Campground. There were two campgrounds in Boothbay: Little Ponderosa and Shore Hills. We stayed for a few days in both of them in 2000 when we were there for the huge Family Motorcoach Association convention in Brunswick. I am still in awe about seeing 7,422 motorhomes in one place. It was awesome. Little Ponderosa was a wooded campground, but with relatively large sites. Both campgrounds were fine. Shore Hills was the bigger of the two. There were three reasons we decided to stay at Little Ponderosa for those of you who may visit the area:
We got to visit with our friend Tom a bunch of times, but only a couple of short visits with Tish when she was there over the weekend. She got in on Friday and we met them, and their friends Sally and Alan, at the Carriage House for dinner. Nice place, good meal, great company. Sally and Alan were neighbors of Tom and Tish and they invited us all back to their place for coffee and dessert. They had a lovely home in Ocean Point with a great view of the ocean. We were also able to meet Tom and Tish for breakfast at the Ebb Tide in Boothbay Harbor after church on Sunday just before Tish left for home in Vermont.
During the next week, we traded some dinners with Tom and found out that he is quite the cook (chicken parmesan and steak and a delicious Caesar Salad). Tom, Diane, and I went to visit the Owls Head Transportation Museum in Owls Head one rainy day. Much to my surprise, there was a picture of good old Tom Watson, Jr in the lobby. He was one of the three founders of the museum and was also CEO of IBM back in the 60s and 70s. Those of us who were IBMers probably all wonder just how he would be running the business over the past 20 years. Of course, it's like wondering who's the better golfer, Jack Nicklaus or Tiger Woods. We'll never know. But it was sure great to see the portrait of this handsome man who lead IBM for many years and was well liked and respected by his employees. There were lots of very old cars, motorcycles, and planes in the museum, all in working order. There was the Red Baron, and a Sopwith (think Snoopy), as well as a vintage Corvette, Jaguar, Rolls Royce, and lots more. It was a nice museum and kept us occupied for a couple of hours.
We also did a lot of nothing during our stay in the area, just lounged around the campground. We don't particularly want to be out touring every day unless, of course, we are in a new area with lots to see. We had been there in 2000, so we felt sort of "at home". We did little things, like going into Brunswick to see a movie (Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood), doing some shopping in the area, having Tom over a few times and teaching him a new card game that my brother introduced us to and is lots of fun (Phase 10).
Diane and I celebrated our Silver Anniversary on June 5 at the Tugboat Inn in Boothbay Harbor. It was a nice, clear evening and we got a table with a great view of the harbor. It was a great way to celebrate our anniversary.
We ate some lobster at the Lobsterman Coop that we liked so much in 2000 when we were in Boothbay. The prices went up, you didn't get as much with the meal (like corn-on-the-cob or cole slaw), and the weather was cooler. I guess the cool weather was fortuitous as it drove us to an inside table to eat our lobster. Two ladies came up and asked if anyone else was sitting at the table (big tables). We said no. They sat down and we started chatting. Turned out it was a mother/daughter and the two husbands were out ordering their food. I can find out a lot about people in about 5-10 minutes of conversation. I just "happened" to mention that I got rained out of a golf round twice during the past week, to which the younger woman said her husband plays golf. Bingo! :-) When he came in, she told him I played golf. I told him I had a $29 coupon to play the Boothbay Country Club, which was normally a $65 round. We made a date to play at noon on Monday. He was a school superintendent in Kansas City, MO, as well as a rules official for the United States Golf Association. He had worked US Open qualifiers, including recently in MO. Low handicap golfer, too. Beautiful course and in good shape. Lots of hills and traps. Not much water. Had a great time playing and chatting with Ron. I don't get to play much golf in this full-timer lifestyle, so I relish the times that I meet someone I can play with.
We had planned to stay about 10 days in Boothbay and then three or four days in the Freeport area. After checking the campground directory, we decided we would just extend our stay another four days in Boothbay at Little Ponderosa. We did the obligatory trip to Freeport (think LL BEAN). Diane decided I needed new docksider shoes and she needed new jeans. She pretty much has to threaten to pull my teeth out to get me to buy shoes and clothes. I'd rather wear them till they're ready to fall apart. Well, not quite that bad, but I'm not a clothes horse.
Before Freeport, we went five miles further south to the DeLorme store located on the site of DeLorme's corporate headquarters. It houses the world's largest globe, named Eartha. It's listed in the Guiness Book of World Records as the world's largest revolving globe. On the globe is a huge printed image of the Earth that was created using computer technology. Here are some facts about the globe:
I was able to get my upgrade for Street Atlas (version 9 now), as well as Map 'n' Go. As a current user, I was able to get the $60 package for $30.
After our visit to DeLorme, we went shopping in Freeport and ended up with a tea and cappuccino at Starbucks before heading back so I could watch the US Open golf tournament. ;-) On the way, we stopped to check out a campground in Freeport and saw a brand new 2002 triple slide Dutch Star. Needless to say, we knocked on the door to say 'hey' and met Bob and Justine Matthews from Fort Pierce, FL. Actually, they were from several places, as he mentioned that he was part owner of a bus company near Rochester, NY and had a condo in Florida (in the community where Sam Snead used to live). They had a Damon Escaper and saw an ad for a motorhome at an RV Show in Port St Lucie. So they went and came home with the Dutch Star. They were on their way to join a caravan for a 41-day trip to the Atlantic Provinces in Canada. They did an Alaskan caravan last year in their Damon. They also were boaters and had a 40-foot yacht that was up for sale. We chatted for a bit about the Dutch Star and then we headed home.
We visited with Tom a few more times and then it was time to leave the area and head back to N.Y. We like to drive roads other than the interstates, so we decided we would go as far as the Sturbridge area and spend the night at a Wal-Mart. When we got there, we saw that the Wal-Mart was posted and no overnight parking was allowed. So we called Wells State Park and went there to spend the night. It was a nice park with some nice sites. Unfortunately, I had a minor run-in with a railroad tie guard rail and scraped the right side of our rig. We all encounter dings and scratches out here given that we park in campgrounds, state parks, national parks, etc, that have trees and other hazards. Still, it had me depressed for a couple of days that I misjudged that turn. My focus was on the rocks I was going around on my left side and I actually thought I had the guard rail cleared. Well, it IS a BIG rig and all my buddies consoled me with their war stories. Sigh.
The following day we planned to drive along US 20 rather than the Massachusetts Turnpike. However, we encountered lots of construction and rough road and decided to get off that road and back on the Pike. On we went to a Coast to Coast park in Schenectady, N.Y., Frosty Acres. The power in this park was horrible. We hadn't had such horrible power since a park we were in out in The Dalles, OR. However, the price was right, so we spent a week there and used it as a base to drive to Cooperstown to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame. This was one of the places on my list of places I wanted to visit. Whereas US 20 in Massachusetts was a horrible road, US 20 in N.Y. was great. Wide road, wide shoulders, smooth asphalt. We spent a day in Cooperstown. It was great to finally visit the Hall of Fame and see artifacts from some of my boyhood heroes, like Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Roger Maris, and other N.Y. Yankees that I followed in the 50s and 60s. Unfortunately, I'm not a fan of baseball anymore. I gave up on the sport when the greed of the owners and players took away a World Series from the fans in 1994. That was a sacrilege and I will never forgive them for that unless they somehow fix the game and assure the fans that players and owners could never again take away a World Series from the fans. Sadly, it looked like the owners and players were on track to take away yet another World Series from the fans in 2002.
After visiting the Hall of Fame, we walked around the town, ate lunch, and then walked down to the lake, Otsego Lake, on the north side of town. It was a beautiful day and we had a great time in Cooperstown. On the way home we checked out Glimmerglass State Park. If we ever go through that area again, we would most certainly stay at this state park. They had some very nice, large sites, and they used their very large parking lot as overflow, so there would always be a place to stay.
The rest of the time in Schenectady was spent lounging around and taking in a couple of movies in a town near Albany. We met our neighbors at the campground, Robert and Dawn Totten, also full-timers. We had a good time playing Phase 10 and said we would stay in touch. They were heading into New England and then maybe to the Hudson Valley. We told them about the great Coast to Coast park in Accord, N.Y. that we stayed at recently and would be returning to the following week, Rondout Valley RV Resort. In a pleasant surprise, Dawn remembered that I mentioned it was Diane's birthday that next week and she called Diane to wish her a happy birthday. That was nice of her and is indicative of the kind of folks we meet out here on the road.
We weren't sure if we would return to the Hudson Valley or just start moving west towards Niagara Falls. At first, it was dependent on our daughter Jill's plans to come up to N.Y. to visit her brother. That didn't work out, but we decided we liked the RV park there a lot, plus it would give us another week to see Curt and Talisian, and Marge and her family. I would also have a chance to play another round of golf with Bobby. So we went back to Rondout Valley for another week.
At that point, it put us in a position where we could go across the state and through Binghamton, in which case it made sense to stop and visit my Uncle Frank and some of my seven cousins in the area. He was 82 now. Other than having some trouble speaking, he was in great shape, as he has been all his life. I always admired how he kept himself in shape. We didn't care for the RV park we stayed at in Endicott back in 2000 due to the very dusty interior roads in the park. This time we stayed in a Coast-to-Coast park near Ithaca, which turned out to be not to far from my cousin Patty's place. We weren't too enthralled with this park and the power was horrible. We ended up having to treat the week as though we were at a rally, that is, using the generator and inverter for power during the day.
We did have a good time during the week and got to see everyone except my cousin Raymond. We were in the Finger Lakes region of N.Y., so we drove around to look at some of the waterfalls and parks. Seneca Falls was at the top of one of the lakes, Cayuga Lake, and it was purported to have been the inspiration for Frank Capra's 1946 movie "It's a Wonderful Life" and the town of Bedford Falls. We drove up one day to see the town. We had lunch in a N.Y. deli and stopped in Bailey's Ice Cream Shop. Then we walked around to find the bridge in town. It looked just like the bridge in the movie. The movie is one of Diane's favorites, so she really enjoyed walking around this make believe Bedford Falls.
Watkins Glen was also in the area, at the southern part of Seneca Lake. We drove over one day with a stop in Montour Falls to see the waterfall right in town and to have lunch in a local cafe. When we got to Watkins Glen State Park we found out there was no charge to walk into the park, but a $6 fee to park. So we drove a couple of blocks away and parked and walked back into the park. Then we started the trek into the gorge. We walked the entire length, all 832 steps, UP. And it was hot that day. When we got to the top, we saw some folks coming down. They had taken the shuttle bus to the top and walked down. Smart folks. We decided one way was enough for us, so we took the shuttle bus down to the bottom.
It was another enjoyable week. We got to eat dinner at my uncle's home (with cousins Robert and Tom), as well as at my cousins Patty's and Susie's homes; watched July 4th fireworks from the front lawn of Susie's neighbor (and they were 30 minutes of great fireworks along with music simulcast on a local FM station); played golf with cousins Jim and Tim. While I was golfing, Patty and her husband, Stan, took a half day off from work and took Diane up to Fairhaven State Park on Lake Ontario, a favorite spot of theirs.
Well, that pretty much sums up our travels during the first quarter of 2002. From here our plans were to head to Niagara Falls for a week, then to Ohio for two weeks, and then start a seven-week tour through Michigan, with most of that time spent in the Upper Peninsula.
Until next time....safe travels.
Copyright © 2002, Roaming America with Rich & Diane Emond - All Rights Reserved
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