I’m about 2 months late in putting this together, but… better late than never.
As most of you know, we purchased an amazing unit in which to travel around the country. This year we opted to travel for a 5 month period and wanted to focus on the northeast. Our RV is a 40’6” long fifth-wheel which just gives the appearance of being plain “huge” and requires the towing assistance of a one ton dually. That animal makes it really easy to tow so that is not a problem.
As we left home on June 2, we traveled to our first ever campground in Inverness, Florida. John wanted to visit with his mom, who lives in Lecanto, a smaller community in the outskirts of Inverness in Central Florida. We arrived around mid-afternoon to a fairly empty campground and pulling into the site was not an issue. The issues soon began as soon as we were unable to disconnect the truck from the unit. We never really had practice on how to connect and disconnect and as you know, theory and practice are never the same. So, once we finally disconnected the truck, with the help of the camping staff, we connected the electricity and attempted to connect the water, without success. We tried to turn on the air conditioner and the display read “system failure”. We had no choice but to contact a technical support person who talked us through most of our new owner issues and we were somewhat back in business after 4 long, very hot hours.
We left Inverness and began our trip toward Charleston, SC so we could visit with our son and daughter-in-law. On our way we stopped at a Camping World in Lake City so they could service the items we could not make work. After several hours in the shop and several hundreds of dollars later, we were told they were unfortunately “user error”. Oh well. Lessons learned and we were on the road again.
We had to make an overnight stop in Brunswick, GA where I decided to do a load of laundry. Our entire bedroom flooded and the carpet got soaked. We tried to dry it as best we could and knew that we had to take the unit in for service so that someone could check what was wrong. We arrived in Charleston, SC the next day and stayed at a nice campground outside Charleston which was very wooded. In the meantime, we were keeping up with Tropical Storm Andrea’s path and soon learned that it was headed right for us. Because it had been raining for several days, the ground was saturated and not wanting to risk being in a “tin can”, albeit a really nice one, during a tropical storm, surrounded by large oak trees with the possibility of major property damage due to trees falling on our unit, we decided to leave and go to Columbia away from the storm and use the opportunity for the Camping World there to fix the problem with our washer.
When we arrived at the Columbia Camping World, we were asked to leave the unit with them so they could see what the problem was. We were not gone an hour and received a call that we had to return because they had damaged our unit. No major damage was done, just a dent in the front of the unit which we will have to have to take care of in November upon our return. When the service technician looked at the washer, he had to make sure that it was not “user error” so what did he do? He ran another cycle through and of course, the bedroom flooded again. Time for a wetvac and plenty of notes were made all over the file in the event we have mold issues in the future. Let’s hope that is not the case. The washer was removed and apparently they found “a failure to connect the pipes”. There was a 3” gap between the pipes that neither the manufacturer nor the dealer thought to check. After the washer was properly piped, all was good and off we went again.
We returned to Charleston, SC to properly visit with our son and daughter-in-law and this time we stayed at the Mount Pleasant KOA, which was very, very nice. All the kids had gotten together to present us with a retirement present which contained many very useful items that we use on a daily basis, along with the typical matching “Hawaiian shirts” that retirees usually wear around touristy sites.
We left Charleston and traveled to Washington, DC, with an overnight stop in Richmond, VA. We finally arrived at College Park, MD and stayed at Cherry Hill Campground. This park was amazing. It had a dog run and even a sauna. Jackson was in heaven as this was rabbit territory. He was so excited one day that he pushed through the screen door and we had to chase him around the campground to get him back. We had the good fortune of being invited by our congressman to visit the Library of Congress and the Capitol Building. The following day we drove into town with Jackson to see the monuments. We tried to talk to him about what we were enjoying, but he much preferred the ducks in the reflection pond.
Our journey north continued to the Amish Country in Pennsylvania. We stayed in a small town called New Holland in Lancaster County at a very nice campground called Spring Gulch. All the sites were level and graveled and with plenty of space between you and your neighbor. We met very nice people with whom we hope to maintain contact. We drove around the area and learned a little about the Amish. They are very interesting people. They are unbelievably conservative, yet ironically, some of the names of their towns are Gap, Intercourse and Blue Balls. Go figure! John, Jackson and I took a buggy ride around the various farms and noticed that even the women work in the farms. They use a pulley system to hang their laundry and connect them from their homes to very tall poles. I swear, I will never complain about doing laundry ever again. We learned that the teenagers, once they turn 16 are allowed a year of freedom, which they refer to as “Rumspringa”. During this period of time, they can drink, smoke, drive cars, in other words experience worldly behaviors. After this period, they would have to decide whether to become baptized in the Amish faith or leave the church, never to return, and be banished by everyone, including their parents. As a parent of three, I understand struggles with teenagers. I just can’t understand or even fathom the possibility of not ever talking to them again, just because of a decision they make when they are only 16. However, on the bright side, they bake delicious food and the absolutely BEST ice cream.
While in Pennsylvania, we drove to nearby Hershey the the west and Chestersprings to the east where we met some old friends, Penny and Ed Keenan for dinner. We left Lancaster County, Pennsylvania to travel to the southern portion of the Finger Lakes in New York. Although rainy and foggy for most of the time there, the vineyards were very pretty, especially against the backdrop of the lakes.
Bellhurst Castle in Geneva, NY
During our stay at the Finger Lakes, we got locked out of our unit in a very unique way. We closed the door to our unit and unbeknownst to us, it locked (without the key, which is very unusual). We normally require 50 amps to run everything in full capacity, but this was the very first campsite with only 30 amps that we had stayed in and I needed to do laundry so I turned off the air conditioner and decided to open the windows just so that the unit would not get too stuffy. John had not hung his keys by the door, as he usually does, but left them on the kitchen island, which happens to be across from the dinette’s window. A neighbor connected two awning rods with duct tape and was able to get his arm through the dinette’s window, which only opens 3 inches anyway, and after several attempts, he successfully fished the keys from the island. Had he missed, or failed, we would have had to succumb to the Miami method which was to break a window, as ALL of our keys, phones, etc. were inside the unit. Lucky break! As soon as we had the opportunity, we made additional copies of the unit and truck keys and hid them in the unlikely event we need them again. Who would have thought that.
We traveled to Niagara Falls, crossed the Canadian border, spent time enjoying the Falls and visited one of the most beautiful little towns we have ever seen, Niagara-By-The Lake. Every house was absolutely perfect. All were painted and kept up and their yards were perfectly manicured. I’ve never seen this throughout an entire town.
We then continued our travels to the southern part of the Adirondacks and stayed at a campground way on top of a mountain with beautiful views of the Adirondacks from the front of the unit and a really cool farm from the rear.
From there we continued on to Lake George, NY. John received an assignment to attend a conference there so we stayed at the Fort William Henry Hotel for a few days. We parked the unit in their parking lot and Jackson stayed at a wonderful pet haven. Lake George is such a touristy place, it reminded me of Gatlinburg, TN with so much to do for the entire family. We had an opportunity to go on a 34’ SeaRay on Lake George and got to actually swim in the lake. Although cold at first, you get used to it and then it is just magnificent. I have never seen such a clear lake. You could see almost 10 – 15’ deep. So, typical of me, we are underway very slowly around this particular section where people were standing in chest deep water and I scream at a guy “I can see your wee wee”. The guy immediately looks down and frowns, not quite comprehending what I yelled at him, seeing I caught him off guard. So everyone in the boat began to laugh, the ice was broken and the fun began.
View from our room at the Fort William Henry
We had lunch at the Algonquin Restaurant.
When we left Lake George we traveled to Lake Placid. We got to climb Whiteface Mountain with Jackson and had a wonderful time. We visited the Olympic venues and had a new appreciation for how difficult these sports really are, especially in the winter! John wanted to go on a bobsled ride, so reluctantly, I agreed. The ride took no longer than about 45 seconds and it whips you really good and they are not really going fast at all. There are four people to a sled. John asked the brake guy if he used the brakes at all when going around the bends and he responded “only at the end, when we have to stop”.
We got on the gondola afterward and I learned that John was afraid of heights. Fine time for him to tell me. I never really knew that as he said he just dealt with it. This was a trip that Jackson had to miss, as pets were not allowed.
So on with the trip and we are heading eastbound to Plattsburgh. We were told not to take the ferry to Vermont, but we did anyway. It was an easy, affordable and a great experience. Way better than having to drive all the way around the north of the lake. We stayed at Apple Island, one of the most beautiful campgrounds we had seen thus far. It has a view of Lake Champlain and very strict rules on how clean and manicured the properties have to be kept. We had dinner at the Blue Paddle close to the campground and the food was absolutely amazing! We drove to Burlington to take Jackson to an off leash dog park, got to walk around the waterfront and Church Street. We absolutely loved Burlington and vowed to return!
First on and first off.