Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Ships of all kinds..........

We are happily settled in Normandy Farms Family Campground with Andy and Mason.   It is located about 30 min from Boston and close by Gillette Stadium which the Patriots call  home.    When we begin searching for a place to take the boys, I felt we needed a swimming pool , a place to ride their bikes safely and a clean wholesome campground.    This is waaaay beyond my expectations.     It is huge but easily walkable to all activities.   It has 4 pools including a heated indoor one with a sauna and two hot tubs in the same area.    There is a very large lodge for assorted activities including dances, ping pong, crafts and recreation for all ages.    There is a disc golf course, a bike riding area with jumps and bumps and a dog park.    The sites are large and clean.    And it is crawling with kids of all ages.    Motorhomes of our size are the minority and mostly it is family trailers and tents.    The activity schedule for each day goes from 9 am to evening with something every hour and for  every age.      Plus, it is very well landscaped with blooming plants and well tended shrubs and trees.     Neighbors say that it is packed on the weekends and holidays need to be booked 2 years in advance.   
 And, if I don't feel like cooking, there is the Kampers Kitchen for take out meals all day long....... Mason likes their French toast.

Today, we drove over to the waterfront in Boston to see the USS Constitution.   The boys have a thing for ships of all kinds....and have built models of Navy battleships and Lego pirateships.  
 I took the big camera with me but trying to shepherd 2 kids and view the scenes with an artistic eye proved to be beyond my capabilities.  
 There is a new interactive center designed to give kids of all ages a taste of living on "Old Ironsides" ..... Mason succeeded in bringing a goat on board.
 We took advantage of the water taxi to transport us over to another portion of the waterfront......and to walk the Freedom Trail for a bit.   They began to lose interest once we passed lunch so our mission became to find a place acceptable to them.....of course, McDonalds won.  
 Here they are waiting for the ferry to arrive for the trip back to the car....it is sitting on Mason's head.  
The harbor was busy and the weather cooperated.    It was mid 70's with a breeze and the rain held off.
The old people came home, built a nice fire, uncorked the wine and relaxed......but only until the GK's needed to head to the pool for another swim.  .....   there's a reason that only the young have young......

Friday, June 22, 2012

Camp Andymason

We pulled up to our new location after a couple days of leisurely driving from North Carolina.    Despite the lousy rain that one day, we had a pleasant scenic drive and spent the previous night at Twin Grove Campground near Hershey Pa.    This campground was quite the place.   Wide open spaces, large pool with huge slides, a restaurant, an amphitheater, large playground, a small train ride thru the grounds and close to Hershey and all of it's attractions.    It would be a good base for exploring the area.      There were also small log cabins for rent.    At 2:30 am, I was awakened by loud teens using typical gross teen language and being roudy and annoying.    At 8 the next morning, I wanted to go beat on the doors of their cabins and return the wake-up call favor.      
We took our time and arrived at our destination about 5 pm.    It was the boys last day of school and they were very excited about our arrival.      We will hang around here until Monday when we take them up to Massachusetts with us for a few days.  
Meanwhile, Jon found this picture in the archives of Mason at the wheel of our new Itasca Suncruiser about 6 years ago.  
The boys have been read to since they were tiny infants.   Every night , 9 years for Andy and 6 years for Mason.   As a grandmother, this is such a special time to spend with them.    I felt they were old enough  to begin the Harry Potter series.   I read the first book to the Colorado kids many years ago and Becca still remembers that.    
Of course, we had to  read in the "Raven"......we cuddled on the couch (in the shade of the case of "3 buck Chuck wine") and read 2  chapters.  They made me promise we could read some more in the morning.    

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Moving day

Reluctantly, we packed up and headed north.   It is always more of a process when we've been sitting for awhile .....or when you have a shiny new MH and a departure check list as long as your arm.   (mostly, because we can't remember our names at times so we have to write EVERYTHING down).

But, before we could really get out of town, we headed over to the truck scales to get the coach weighed.  It should have been done when we were at Lazydays but apparently, no scales around.       Now, some of you might think like I once did...that since this thing has so much storage in in, you can just take everything you own and everyone you know.......NOT !   There are very definite limits on the axles and besides adhering to load limits, it also needs to be balanced...(much like an airplane which I also know nothing about).   But fortunately I've been hanging around with  the right guy for almost 50 years (but that's  another story:)....and he does treat this thing like an airplane in many respects.  
I should have grabbed a pic of the weighing event but I was DRIVING it back and forth so was kinda busy.....   anyhow, we apparently are well balanced and have tons more room for anything I want to buy !!!
 The drive was pretty, NC and Tennessee are mountainous and the day was nice and clear.     Freida, we waved at Kingsport as we lumbered by....
 These pics were with my iPhone and I'm always surprised that it stops action so well and is rarely blurry.  

I did manage to get behind the wheel and drive.   It is very smooth and feels very heavy.   I am very aware that my ability to stop quickly is severely altered so we keep well back from the pack and my co-pilot is my 2nd pair of eyes.    As usual when I drive, we hit rush hour traffic, construction and the dreaded heavy rain.  
 This storm appeared quickly on the horizon and it was torrential.   Luckily, the highway was a bit wider on the shoulders and in the blinding rain and wind, I was able to pull completely over to wait it out.  
Most everyone else pulled over as well and this pic was taken well after the worst of it.   The wind was fierce with the trees bending over and the highway littered with debris.    I gave up driving after this nerve-racking event and retired to my corner and my knitting.    For those of you with good eyes and are wondering about the blue tape in the left corner......that is a guide we put on the windshield to line up with the center line so we stay centered in the driving lane.    It is tempting to shift more to the right in these things so this keeps me properly positioned.    
We are currently Shenandoah Valley Campground in Virginia.    It is quite the place but I think we are the only large MH in here.    It is heavily treed with 5th wheels and trailers and lots of families.    A river is along the perimeter and tubing seems to be the favorite pastime.....it is slow and shallow.    It looks like a fun and busy place for active families.    But, we'll  continue our trek north today...into the heat wave.      Talk later..........

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Father's Day walk in the woods.....

We headed to the hills again, this time to another waterfall area off the Blue Ridge Parkway.    We use a  guide book which isn't always clear about the trails that we choose and we don't always agree with their ratings....but then, we aren't 16 or 25 or even 50 so we take their "easy" rating with a bit of skepticism.    

We walked down to Lower Falls on a loooong wooden steep stairway.   I guess it is popular enough so they want to make it accessible....but we found the stairs to be steep and narrow and didn't see anyone other than the young and energetic going up and down  (except for US of course) !  Then we decided to continue on towards Upper Falls, still considered "easy" in the guide book.      This was mainly a narrow, well worn trail with some areas requiring use of our 'new hiking poles' for assistance.   I thought they worked very well.....I think P considered them a nuisance or too reminiscent of needing a crutch to get around.  

The signage was pretty good altho there were many trails meandering off.    The trails were busy and it was good to see many many families and teenagers and young teen couples.    And, again, I heard many comments about my shoes......I just can't believe that I'm the only one wearing these....I see similar ones in the stores and didn't expect them to be such a novelty.....maybe its just the neon laces.
It was very green and mossy in places and much of the coverage was the rhodendrom  forests.....many blooming.
We never did get to Upper Falls....the trail got narrower and muddier and it began to rain and then it started a very steep ascent.    Two teen girls who had passed us earlier were on their way down and said "the falls weren't much"....that kind of sealed our decision to turn around......Granted, their opinion of the falls was probably waaaay different than ours would have been but they also weren't sweating like we were.       We ambled for about 2 miles over a couple of hours.    It's always good to get back to Mother Nature and we are thankful that we can still trudge along under our own power in the rarified air (5100 ft !!)
Driving back to Asheville, we passed Cold Mountain of the book and movie fame.....and you can see why this is called the Blue Ridge Mountains.

video
Here's my attempt to post a video taken at the falls today....You can click on the arrows on the corner to make it bigger but not necessarily better...........

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Wandering the Biltmore Estate......

If you ever need a place to hang out in the summer, head for the Blue Ridge Mountains.    The weather has been exceptional....it was 54 this morning and just perfect for the morning walk and then warmed up to mid 70's.   It will get warmer but for now, this is ideal in every way.    

We headed over to the Biltmore Estate yesterday....not to see the mansion but to have lunch over at the Bistro at Antler Village.   They grow much of the food used in their menu.    There is also a winery and vineyard.     I had the Carrot bisque soup with creme fraiche....so fresh and complex..  There was a homemade oatmeal bread for dipping in the oil and balsamic....the balsamic was VERY intense and almost bitter.     Then, we split one of the specials....a pizza with a very thin crusty crust, topped with  red onions, red sauce, cheese (a light variety) AND pulled pork.  It also came with jalapeƱos which we skipped.   This sounded better than it tasted.    The pork was just piled in the middle and was a combo vinegary / BBQ taste....Not my favorite but interesting.     Enough of my food critique.   We have tried to find interesting and different places for lunch.....And trying to avoid the poundage that can come from too many dining experiences.....so we eat at home much of the time.   

The flowers were in full bloom throughout the manicured grounds.
 I have seen this at the NY Botancal Gardens as well and I'm too lazy to look up it up but it is sometimes called something like Ball gown.....All you gardeners will recognize it and call it by it's real name.  
Our days are winding down and we will head north in a few days.    We'd hoped to get in some more plays/concerts but there seems to be a lull in the activities.   We did see a wonderful twin piano concert in Asheville the other evening.    We bought the CD and are enjoying the energy of the Rachmaninoff and Gershwin tunes.  


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Ditto.........

More of the same on Wednesday......the day dawned sunny and perfect for a walk in the woods.     Transylvania County is known as the "Land of Waterfalls"  and we found another in Dupont St Forest.    
 This is High Falls....  at the top is the covered bridge, which we walked to but it is new with little character but  is a nice touch.    This picture thru the trees is not so good as I couldn't get a clear view from this spot.   And then there's the shoes.....I left my hiking boots at home as we aren't into serious death-defying jaunts so my walking shoes are fine......and I forget that they are 'glow-in-the-dark' bright so was initially surprised when I got so many comments....especially from teens and kids.  
We had thunder and raindrops again so no sunlight for the pics....a rather gloomy walk with only my neon shoes to light the way.

On the way home, we stopped at REI...don't ya just love that place with it's high priced stuff for camping, hiking, kayaking and climbing ?....And the useful and proper clothes for doing the above.   I found a perfect rain jacket for $249 but instead bought these practical hiking poles.  
Years ago when we lived in Colorado and did some serious hiking/skiing, I had a Member's card from REI and they gave you back a percentage of your purchases each year.    Fast forward to yesterday when the young athletic clerk asked me if I had said card......I said that I used to and she started searching around in her computer and it came up with my name and my Florida address !!    All I gave her was my name and the Co. town we lived in......there's way too much info about me out there.....fortunately, it's all pretty boring.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Hunger games.....


For those fans of Hunger Games,  a trip to this area would  likely bring you back to some of the scenes  in the deep woods.    We headed over to Dupont State Forest.   There is a 

handout at the Visitor's Center giving directions to some of the accessible  location scenes.    Our destination was Triple falls, where Katniss finds a wounded Peeta camouflaged in the rocks.    
We had intentions on continuing to the next falls as well but it was muddy, steep and drizzly along the path.    
This was a very wide path but still very steep, which the pic doesn't capture.   I've been pushing for hiking poles and they would have been very handy slogging uphill  and slipping down.
I was surprised to see that the massive numbers of rhododendrons were still in bloom....I had expected the season to be over but there were budding flowers scattered about.
The humidity was very high between the raindrops and we were properly dampened ......fortunately, we arrived right after the downpour and the groups of young people in the parking lot were thoroughly soaked.   There are tours that shuttle the interested around to other locales but many of the scenes (cave) were filmed on a set.

We headed over to Brevard....a lovely culturally rich community nestled in the hills.   It is home to the Brevard Music Center which is a summer program for gifted young musicians.    We have always wanted to attend one of their concerts but so far, our schedules haven't meshed.

We stopped for an early dinner at a favorite place.   Last year we had brunch outside but this time, we ate on the porch and watched the rain.   Marco Trattoria serves northern Italian dishes.   I had the most perfect salad...... An entire stalk of Romaine lettuce (trimmed) with perfectly seasoned grilled chicken and a warm butter, cream , Gorgonzola and Applewood smoked bacon sauce drizzled over ......it was decadent.!!
Paul had one of his favorites....clams with linguine.    It was the perfect
finish to the day.

Addendum:     I have not been happy with how my pics look on the blog....I do some light editing but they still looked dark and small.....then the lightbulb went off in the old brain.... and I made them BIGGER .....voila !   They look better....or at least I think so.    Blogger has changed significantly and I have still been using my old methods of adding pics and  narrative.....it looks like I need to keep up with the times !!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Exploring.......

So you were expecting pictures of far-off vistas from the mountaintops?  

 We have done some wandering but having to argue and plead with the Sync Navigation system on the Ford takes all the concentration we have and the scenery takes a back seat to trying to get to our destination.   It is very frustrating and even tho they did an upgrade, it still gives us fits and we find we need to use our phones when we get to the point of wanting to rip it out of the dash and say bad words.    

Anyhow, we did manage to find our way to the Blue Ridge BBQ Festival yesterday........lots of music, LOTS of food and a variety of refreshments containing alcohol.    I was surprised at the  number of stands that sold brew beers, hard lemonade, hard cider and fruity wines in foil pouches.   We stayed with water, both to drink and to wipe the BBQ sauce off our faces and fingers.   

The ribs .........


We're back in the land of robins......we don't have them in our backyard or anywhere in our part of Florida.   But they are in abundance around our site and reminds me of Connecticut with the birds and trees.    The day before, we were having lunch at a golf club (investigated, didn't play) and a delightful little Bluebird (of happiness, I'm sure) perched on the windowsill beside our table.   Not long enough for a picture but it made my day.

Last evening we headed over to the Flat Rock Playhouse to see a production of the Spitfire Grill.    It was outstanding and the lead had an amazing voice.   Ellen Burstyn had this role in the movie version but I don't remember hearing about it before.     While wandering the grounds, we came across this gorgeous tree.....I have never seen this before and others were asking about it as well.    It is a Royal Purple Smoketree and the leaves turn a brilliant red in the fall.  The flowers create a beautiful haze.    I think it is usually shrub- sized but this one and another were very large.   
 
On Friday night we wandered over to Hendersonville nearby.    This area is big with retirees so I expected to see a 'Village-type' crowd at the weekly Friday night street dance.    There were the grey hairs but also, many many families, teenagers and all ages.   The restaurants and shops were inviting and the weather was perfect.    We're so used to being surrounded by the Medicare crowd that we really notice and relish the mingling of the ages.

We're still in love with our new house......It is so roomy and convenient and comfortable and pretty........did I tell you that Andy and Mason decided to name it ?    Being boys, being enamored with Star Wars, Avengers, Transformers and everything good vs. evil,  after seeing a picture, they tagged it "The Black Raven".......!!    Sounds rather ominous but have to consider the source.....had Lizzie named it we'd probably be driving around in Tinkerbell !!     (no offense Lizzie.....I know that you're growing up but I think you still like Tinkerbell.........but Hunger Games or Harry Potter just doesn't have the right visual as a name).    I suspect "The Raven" has stuck but doubt we'll have one airbrushed on the back.



Thursday, June 7, 2012

Mr Fix-it.......

....... did his thing again and we now have a refrigerator that works as it is supposed to.    But, this required him to wiggle into small space in the belly of the beast, hold a flashlight while troubleshooting various circuit breakers and wires and correct some mis-wiring issues.    All the while, his trusty assistant was offering words of encouragement while reclining in the shade.....we make a good team.      Getting into that spot was one thing, but  getting out was even more of a challenge.    (for those of you wondering, the blue pool noodles on the corners avoids a trip to the ER for stitches when you bang your head into those sharp points.)

While reclining in my chair in the shade of a lovely tree about 10 feet from our door, I happened to look up when a pesky insect buzzed me.......well, obscured by the dappled sunlight and shades of green, was this condo in the making.....the hornets were very industrious  and 
had managed to complete a lovely structure about 6 inches in diameter.    They really are amazing and the design is exquisite  but unfortunately, they picked a bad location to build their house.      
Paul came out armed and ready with his long range hornet killer.
Being naturally pessimistic and cowardly, I vetoed this idea as one we might not win.......I opted to alert the managers and let them do their dastardly deed for us.    We're still waiting.....  it rather puts a damper on enjoying the ambiance of the outdoors for the moment.   
We actually carry the hornet and wasp spray as security measure against 2 legged intruders.     It has a long range, is very toxic and easy to use.....vs. the possibility of shooting myself in the foot with something more lethal.    However , the best protection is to avoid  places that might harbor those situations  (such as parking in remote areas or unsavory Walmarts).   
We're basically hedonistic and prefer the luxury of spacious, scenic, welcoming campsites surrounded by the elderly and their small white dogs.    

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Ahh, mountain air.........

No pics today.....rainy, gloomy, cool yesterday and today.   And we love it ! It was 56 when we arrived last evening in Flat Rock, NC, about 30 min from Asheville.    We have camped here a few times and find it clean, comfortable and convenient for exploring.     It rained overnight and it was like sleeping cozily in a tent with the raindrops.
The drive over was long.... again P did it all as road conditions and rain were too intimidating for me to practice and for him to monitor.    We got off the interstate for awhile and followed Georgia's Antebellum Trail.    We caught just a glimpse of some historical sights and plantations.....must add it to the "to-do-someday" list.

Today it is time to catch our breath, organize and get comfortable and maybe have a bit of the wine in the cool mountain air.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Maiden Voyage

In November of 2006 we departed in a new-to-us motorhome for a 3 month journey. We left with a lot of enthusiasm and confidence. A few miles down the road, the refrigerator decided to quit and despite attempts at repairs along the way, we ended up using it as a cooler with lots and lots of ice until we got to Denver. That issue was resolved but it never ever worked well and was a big annoyance. Fast forward to today. We drove off with enthusiasm and more wisdom this time and a few miles down the road, the LARGE shiny Kitchenaide refused to work as forecast !!! It works only on generator power while driving. If just using the engine, it turns off. This time it is not a major problem as we can run the generator while tooling down the highway and when we are in CG's , we can just plug it in and it works fine. I had a moment of deja vu and panic when I found it off.......I had loaded it up with prepared meals, a freezer full of salmon, tilapia, chicken but no ice cream (darn, we are being sooo good ). A call to our Tech at Lazydays gave us a few ideas to try and we will wait untl we are settled to investigate. But we understand only too well that's "it's always something" !!



We crossed into Georgia and are enjoying a relaxed evening after traveling about 275 miles. P did all the driving today. The truck traffic was heavy and a strong crosswind didn't help. Normally, I share the driving but I'll have a bit of a learning curve so will do my check ride on a calmer day. The coach rides soooo smooth and is much quieter and we can enjoy the radio and hear the sultry voice of the GPS....




We're learning the nuances of this machine and so far, can't find an outdoor temp indicator. It's here someplace among all the gauges and electronics I'm sure. The radio said it was 95 so running the generator helped keep the interior cool instead of just relying on the dash A/C which doesn't do well at those temps.

We were looking forward to a good evening walk but there are bugs out there. After my experience at Sebastian Inlet with the no-see-ums and my intense reaction, I have been a bit timid about getting bit again. And then, the other night at the storage lot, I was bitten on my big toe by a fireant.....it is now swollen, red, blistering and itching. I've been using hot soaks all day with Bacitracin and it is a lot better tonight...... but had to give up on the evening walk. I'll try slathering myself in bug spray in the morning and walk fast.

Enough chatter......tomorrow we'll have another 6 hours of driving to get to Flat Rock, NC, near ASheville. And then its about 10 days of no driving as we settle in, have some wine and read the operating instructions.

Location:Twin Oaks RV Campground, near Perry, Georgia