About HappyCamper50

Born and raised in Bloomington, Indiana. Worked at Indiana University for almost 27 years. Love to travel, garden and read. I will be 50 this year and am on a journey to find out what I want to be when I grow up. I love bacon but, hate it ON anything. I have a fear of wagon wheel pasta. When I go shopping, I never take the box, jar or bag in the front because it's been touched. I've been very fortunate to have travelled to some amazing places and look forward to learning, growing, laughing and living.

Take a ride on the White Knuckle Turnpike

DSCN0235 (2)10/14: we drove to Rochester Massachusetts, via the highway 1 from hell. We should’ve taken 95 south around Boston, but of course where did we end up? I’ll give you one guess…………Yes, we did. I had read a lot about driving motorhomes on freeways and there is a lot of advice out there on the internet so you can plan your route carefully. A LOT of advice. I had read that there were some places that you were not allowed to drive vehicles with propane and all about places with low clearance bridges and tunnels. SO, in all of my infinite wisdom from the internet…when I saw a sign that said “no propane”, I thought that meant me!  I freaked out and exited off of I-95 and ended up on highway 1 going thru Boston! WHOLLY $%%#% !!!!!!!.  This took me down  tiny, bumpy, pot-holed streets where it was VERY apparent that I should not be going in a 34 foot motorhome with a car attached. To add to the sheer fun that I was having already,  the nice people of Boston, clearly did not want to be bothered by some Hillbilly from Indiana driving an RV in their finely potholed streets and were very nice to let me know it. So, I just said “@($*#( it” and got back on I-95…. I went thru tunnels, over bridges, around corners that should only be on racetracks and no one stopped me and I didn’t get thrown in jail…might have had more fun in jail.  To make things even more pleasant. I stopped at a toll booth, I think it was toll booth number 45, and when I pulled forward, I heard a horrible scraping sound. At first I thought, “What the hell?, I’m scraping the top of the toll booth?” But, turns out,  it was my car dolly. Apparently, along the way, the pin came out of my dolly and the ramp had come down. Luckily for me, I found a turn-off  and then stopped in the middle of the road and put my blinkers on. At this point, I was like “just give me a frigin ticket”, I’m not driving around scraping this thing until I find a parking lot big enough to turn around in.   I had to pull toolboxes and bins out from under the camper to find something to pin the ramp back up. Again, luckily, I had put a large bolt from something else in one of the bins. So, we put that on and away we went. Just an FYI, if you have a Mastertow tow dolly, make sure to get an extra pin because NO ONE sells a pin that is long enough to go thru it.  I ended up going to a Lowe’s and getting a really big bolt and a couple of nuts.   So, far….works like a charm.

So, we made it to our campground in Rochester, Mass, without any accidents. Knock on wood. The campground was in the middle of nowhere, sort of. It seems like it’s nowhere, but it’s close to Plymouth, Hyannis, Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, etc… So, it’s a great place to stay for exploring the area. But, it is in a thickly wooded area with unpaved roads and no lights in the campground. When you come back at night, it’s really hard to tell where the actual road is.  Once we got set up, we decided to take a drive around. One of the other campers stopped us and asked if we had power. We did, but apparently theirs had just gone out. We left the campground and about a 1/2 mile up the road someone had hit a power pole and knocked all the power out in the campground. When we got back to the campground the power was still out and we didn’t really want to use the generator and of course our flash light died about 10 minutes after we turned it on, so we just went to bed. I was exhausted from that white-knuckle drive anyway.

10/15:  We went to Martha’s Vineyard. Another first for me. You drive to a place called Woods Hole and catch a ferry over to the Island. Had I known you could take your car, I probably would’ve done that. I guess it costs about $80, but you really do need a car. The island is a lot bigger than I imagined, so we went ahead and rented a jeep when we got there. (The ferry goes at a snail’s pace and it takes about 45 minutes to get there). There were a lot of bicycle rentals near the ferry terminal, but I cannot imagine riding all around the island. It’s not a flat, straight road and the towns are pretty far away from one another. We stopped in several small towns and went to the Gay Head lighthouse. We ate lunch in Edgartown, which was beautiful, with all of their huge island cottages. We also went to this tiny village where they filmed the movie “Jaws”. It was teeny, tiny and not much there, but it was kind of cool to see it. It was a warm, sunny day so it was the perfect time to visit. There were hardly any tourists and I think that during the summer it would be just too crowded and crazy.

Just a side note before I forget: I would like to give a great big middle finger salute….no, make that a two, middle fingers, salute to the fine folks in Massachusetts. So far it’s very apparent that they do not like tourists and especially ones that drive here. I’m a pretty competent driver and these people tailgate you and blow their horns with pure abandon. So….as my friend Patsy would say “duels”. (as in double middle fingers), to you! Thanks for the warm welcome.

10/17: We drove out to Provincetown, Mass. today. It was a really long drive and is at the very tip/end of Cape Cod. The drive is on a two lane road with a mostly 45 mile per hour speed limit…hence the long time it takes to get there. It was nothing like I expected and is a lot of wooded area’s until you get all the way to Provincetown. We spent the day walking around, having lunch and then driving around the area. It was cute. But there is one narrow sidewalk and I cannot even imagine what it is like during the summer months. We spoke to a woman who ran one of the lobster roll stands and she said that they are all closing up next Sunday. So, we hit it just at season’s end.  I’m really glad that I saw it, but I can’t say that I would ever be interested in going back. It reminded me of Nashville, but close to water. I think it’s good that I’m getting to see all the places that I had imagined would be somewhere that I would want to live, but now that I see it…not so much. Of the places that I’ve been so far, I like Bar Harbor the best. But, I would still not want to live there in the winter. I also think that really none of the towns that we have been to hold a candle to Mackinac Island. Maybe it is because they don’t allow cars on that island, I don’t know. I have always loved that place and is somewhere that I enjoy going back to.

It rained all day on 10/16 and the campground  had a lot of big mud holes in the road and  when we came back to the campground that night, it was pretty creepy, trying to find our way around the washed out road and to our campsite. Luckily, we ran into a guy in a golf cart, sucking on a popsicle and he helped us find our way! Seems like it was a pretty good popsicle too, because he sure was enjoying it.  I think I may dedicate an article to all the food and places we have eaten.  I’m sure everyone on Facebook thinks that is all we do, because I post pictures of food all the time, but we have had some really good food so far and I like to take pictures of it.

10/19:  The last two days have been long drives.  Last night we stayed at a campground in the Catskills.  The drive was beautiful.  But, no….I did not see any dirty dancing.    And today we made our way to Maryland.  We will be here a couple of days so we can take the train into D.C.  It was another hair-raising drive today, going thru tunnels and the roads were horrible.  We went thru enough tolls that you would think they could fix the roads.  We paid over $75 in tolls today.  Too bad I didn’t get an EZ Pass before I left home. I’m glad to be stopping for a couple of days so we can enjoy D.C.

Oh….the cord that powers the brakes to my tow dolly came out on the highway yesterday and sheared off part of the plug!  Luckily, I have a roll of electrical tape with me and there was enough of the prongs left to make a connection!  So we went to Lowe’s again and I’ll splice on a new one when we get to Williamsburg.   I’m glad I packed a lot of tools! DSCN0146 DSCN0148 DSCN0155 DSCN0165 DSCN0179DSCN0205 DSCN0213 DSCN0219

Penobscot Observatory and Amiee’s words of wisdom.

We went to the Penobscot Observatory and Fort Knox yesterday.  Who knew that we have 2 Fort Knox’s?  I didn’t.  When we were driving around the other day, we just happened upon the Penobscot narrows bridge and observatory.  So we went back yesterday so we could go up in the tower.  Neither of us had ever heard of it before.  Have you?  It is the ONLY bridge observatory in the United States and one of only 4 in the world.  This bridge cost $85 million dollars to build and 420 feet tall, plus has the fastest elevator in 3 states.  You can find information on it at http://www.fortknox.mainguide.com.  It is truly amazing what you can discover when you go wandering.  I think that instead of sitting in a classroom, maybe we should require kids to travel.  What do you think?  I don’t think reading a book gives you the same experience as actually seeing the places where history takes place.  That was your history lesson for today!  Again…you’re welcome.

I discovered a few things yesterday… Number 1:  I don’t really like lobster.  Or maybe I should say that I don’t really like the WHOLE lobster.  I actually find it disgusting to rip that sucker in half (reminiscent of that Seinfeld episode, with his date with “man hands) and have all of that green stuff ooze out.  Bleck.  The first one, I ripped the tail off and quickly hid the rest of it under a napkin.  But, you still get a glimpse of the “tamale”.  Ick, Ick, Ick.  No I don’t care if it’s a delicacy.  You can have mine, okay? I will mail it to you!  The second whole lobster, I ripped the tail off and then thought I would see what was inside the body.  BIG MISTAKE, even if you have a stomach of steel, I’m not sure how in the world you could find that appetizing.  Someone explain what goes on in your mind when you think…..Oh, that looks SO good, I think I’ll eat it!  Bleck, Bleck, Bleck.   So, I don’t think I will be eating anymore whole lobsters.  I will stick with the lobster bisque, lobster claws, lobster dip…etc..but, you can keep the whole ones.   Actually, if I have a choice, I will always choose king crab legs.  I have NEVER seen green nasty, gunk come out of them.

#2:  The lighting inside your camper is the equivalent of the lighting in a cave.  When you apply your makeup in your camper, what you see in the mirror is similar to being in a Doris Day movie…with that “fuzzy” soft lighting.  Once you step outside however, you look like a clown/hooker….no wait, you look like someone who just got a make over by that elephant that “supposedly” can paint.    So, here’s a tip: Go outside to put your make up on or get one of those large lighted, magnified mirror’s.  Although I have one of those, I haven’t been using it and looked in it today.  OMG!   It was not pretty.

#3:  You will have to go to a hotel for the night in order to shave your legs.  Even with my experience with the so-called shower’s overseas, which I refer to as “Houdini boxes” (because you have to be a magician to wash or shave in one), the shower’s in your camper or at the campgrounds are NOT made for any kind of hair removal processes with that wispy thin shower curtain clinging to your legs.   Also, If you drop anything…you will not be able to retrieve it, so only take disposable things with you.  Not that you would want to pick up anything once your dropped it in there anyway.

Today we left Bar Harbor and made our way to Old Orchard Beach, Maine.  We will be here for 2 days before making our way to Rochester Massachusetts.  We are finally in a campground that has great WiFi!   Yippee.  AND they have great cable TV….Hey, after days filled with sight-seeing and exploring, having TV is extremely nice when you come back to the camper and are just really exhausted.  I’ve never been so thankful for Funniest Home Video’s before.

Of course, that is not the only thing that I am thankful for.  I wake up every day and think “how lucky am I?”.

This extraordinary life. Clown makeup and all.

**Jenny, I hope you don’t mind that I mention you in my post, but I find you to be the most inspiring, brave, unbelievably positive person that I know. You are one of a kind and I hope that the future holds one hell of an extraordinary adventure.**  Happy Trails.DSCN0061 DSCN0062 DSCN0068DSCN0071 DSCN0089DSCN0100 DSCN0106 DSCN0110

We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.

DSCN0025 DSCN0026 DSCN0028 (2)DSCN0033 DSCN0052 DSCN0054DSCN0047Mom and I did some more exploring today.  We went to Seal Harbor, Northeast Harbor, Southwest Harbor and Bass Harbor.  Driving the winding roads, you see something new with every turn.  We found ourselves saying “wholly crap, look at that!” all day!  Every single time you come around a corner here, there is something that takes your breath away and you have no choice but to stop and snap a picture of it.  We spent the day driving, pulling over, getting out and taking a few pictures, then driving some more.   When we missed something, we would just turn around and go back.  I’m sure the permanent residents of Maine get pretty sick of out-of-towners driving like little old ladies out for a Sunday drive.  Luckily, the small villages all have REALLY low speed limits and everyone has to slow down behind you too.  Plus, the great state of Maine provides plenty of pull-offs, so you don’t end up getting ran over because you are compelled to jump out of your car because that view is AWESOME.

We have been really lucky with the weather, but unlucky in the WiFi department.  This campground is great, but their WiFi stinks and apparently you are not supposed to upload video or pictures because it takes up too much bandwidth!??? WHAT?  So, basically they keep shutting me down because I’m not following the rules.  But, hey, what is a blog about my trip if you can’t see the pictures?  So, I don’t know who “they” are, but I keep trying anyway.  I did manage to get a few of the pictures from today uploaded to my Facebook before they turned my connection off, but I haven’t been able to add pictures to my blog yet.  So, stay tuned!  I may have to go to the local McDonald’s, that has SMOKIN fast WiFi, and do it there.

Tomorrow will be our last day here in Bar Harbor.  I will miss it here and I can understand why people come here and why they would choose to live here.  There is no other place like it and I can just imagine waking up everyday in such a beautiful place.  I cannot imagine anyone would get sick of it, but then I’ve never had to experience a winter here.  The “locals” that I’ve talked to say that the winters are no trouble for them because the road crews are pretty great.  The state probably has a pretty big budget for snow removal…unlike Indiana that has to share a teaspoon of sand and one snow plow.

Bonus for today….we have TV!   Yes, TV!  So Happy right now!  Can’t wait for tomorrow!

Happy Trails.

Pop on over to Acadia and driving the scenic route 1.

imageWe went to Acadia on 10/7.  It was another sunny beautiful day.  I had never been to Acadia and it did not disappoint.  We didn’t get to hike though.  Dad is still recovering from another knee surgery, so we took the Park Loop Road around the park.  It is a scenic 27 mile loop, but it took us about 4 hours to complete it.  We stopped at all of the scenic overlooks, Thunder Hole, Cadillac Mountain, Sandy Beach and the not to be missed Jordan Pond Lodge that is famous for their popovers.  I’m not a big fan of popovers, but they certainly know their stuff and served them piping hot with butter and homemade strawberry jam.  Of course the day was not complete without my obligatory lobster.  So, I had my first lobster roll.  I have to be honest and tell you that I am getting sick of lobster!  OMG!  I never thought that I would say that, but it’s true.

The park is a stunner.  The trees are at their peak right now and every time you stop, it takes your breath away.  I was sadly reminded again that I had left my camera at home.  My phone and iPad take okay pictures but I’m sure they are not as good as if I had had my camera.  I’m sure that no picture would do it justice though.  We intend to go back in a couple of days and take the carriage ride thru the park that goes over the 7 stone bridges that apparently were built by Rockefeller.  Driving up to Cadillac Mountain is not for the faint of heart.  You drive on, what looks to be, right on the edge.  Several times, I just had to look away from the side and concentrate on the road because it made my stomach flutter.  I’m by no means a wimp either, but it was pretty scary.  Mom kept saying “Don’t LOOK!”.  I tried not to but I wanted to see the view.  At one of the over-looks we also saw a boat sink.  There was no one on board and there was a coastguard ship circling it as it sank.  There were a lot of people that had stopped along the road to watch.  No one was sure why the coastguard didn’t do anything.  But, I doubt they could’ve saved it.

Yesterday was the first crappy day we’ve had.  It rained all morning and dad decided to go home.  He is still having trouble with his knee and needs to go home and recuperate some more.  Unfortunately, the flight that we booked him on, out of Bangor, was cancelled.  The gate agent said that it had to do with the fire that was set in the airport in Chicago.  I believe that was done a couple of weeks ago and we were not sure what that had to do with anything.  She wanted to book him on an early morning flight this morning, but it would’ve taken him 12 hours to get home and they didn’t have another available flight out of Bangor until next week.  She gave me an 800 number to call and I was on the phone in the airport for 2 hours talking to someone from India, trying to get another flight.  We ended up getting a flight out of Portland this morning and he got into Indianapolis today at 11:14am.  So, dad is home now, but we will see him Christmas or maybe earlier if he feels better and wants to fly somewhere and meet us.

Since we had to be in Portland so early, we drove down last night and spent the night.  After dropping dad off at the airport, mom and I took highway 1 back up the coast.  We stopped in all the small towns along the coast: Bath, Booth Bay, Falmouth, Camden, etc… and we found a Walmart along the way so that we could get a camera!  It took us 12 hours!!!!    But we did stop for lunch and dinner, so I don’t think it counts as driving for that long.  I still think that I like Bar Harbor the best though.  It is the most picturesque.  Booth Bay is now kind of cheesy and over- run with cheap, crappy t-shirt stores.  And not good t-shirts either.  Mothball smelling t-shirts.  You know the kind I’m talking about.

So, We are back now and I’m exhausted.  I hope my dad gets feeling better soon.  We met a couple from Michigan and a couple for Minnesota that are one their own travels and they are now headed to Niagara Falls, so they are sort of doing the reverse of what we just did.  I wish them happy and safe travels!

Good night.  Happy Trails.WP_20141007_001 WP_20141007_004 WP_20141007_007image

Fall colors, rocky coastline and Lobster oh my!

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Beautiful BAAA HAAbor.

Arrived at our campsite at the KOA in Bar Harbor via the stunning drive up the Maine Turnpike on 295/95. The trees are finally changing and it is really spectacular. Indiana has beautiful falls, but it does not compare to the fall colors here. The hills are studded with large dark green pine trees interwoven with the reds, yellows and oranges. I can certainly see why tourists make their way up here to take in the changing season colors. I also have to say that Indiana needs to take some lessons in highway construction/maintenance from the great state of Maine. Narry a pothole to be seen and they got 125 inches of snow last year, so I wonder what their secret is? We lucked out again and had a sunny, clear day for our drive.

I was not expecting much of the KOA here (trying to abide by my new, no expectations rule) and we were all pretty excited when we pulled into camp site 369. We are right on the water and can hear the lapping waves while sitting on the couch in the RV. Couldn’t get any better than that. Donny is a KOA camp host and brought us to our site. He said that the night before they had quite a storm and the wind was rocking and rolling everything, so we are very lucky we missed that. He told us that when it’s high tide the water comes right up to the camp site. My dad didn’t believe him, but about 7:00pm, the water was RIGHT THERE!

The coast line is like no other that I have seen with the huge rocks and boulders jutting out the beaches. Did I say it’s beautiful? Well I’ll say it again, it’s absolutely beautiful up here and I’ve only been here one day. We went to a small qaint restaurant in Bar Harbor called The Chart Room. Our waitress, Cate, is a year round resident and she waitresses during the “season” along with landscaping and in the winter she does house cleaning and a lot of caretaking for houses of people that are seasonal residents. She said that the roads are always cleared in the winter and she was used to the winters because she has lived there all her life. I had my first Maine lobster there, but I have to say that I’m lazy and prefer the tail. The whole lobster is cheaper then just the tail and I now know why….because it’s a lot of work. AND I’m not a fan of the tamale stuff…it’s just too gross looking, I don’t care if it’s a delicacy. Oh, and mom and I shared a piece of blueberry pie with blueberry ice cream. Yes, it was the best blueberry pie I have ever had. I am not exaggerating. It was SO good. We all got up in the middle of the night with horrible heartburn, so that has to tell you how good it was! Or that we had WAY too much butter..

Oct. 6:

We went whale watching today…..well….we “watched” for whales for about 4 hours and needless to say, we didn’t find any.  We did see a pod of dolphins, but not whales.  Unfortunately, what I mostly saw was a whole lot of people vomiting.  The boat ride out to the “whale grounds”, whatever that means, was over an hour and by the time we got there people were dropping like flies!  I had never in my life seen so much vomit or bags of vomit being carried around.  One poor woman ran by and went head first into the trashcan.  Ick.  My mom and I were luckily not effected by the unsavory display of puking.  As soon as the first person started retching, I made a beeline to the top of the ship to avoid being apart of the vomit domino effect.  I felt sorry for those people because they had another hour and a half boat ride back to shore.  It was also very cold and I couldn’t feel my feet by the time we docked, but I was NOT going to go inside where it was like puke-poloosa.  After that WONDERFUL experience, we did go to a restaurant and have some wonderful lobster bisque.  I did not let that vomitorama deter me  in my quest to eat lobster at least once a day while I was in Maine.  I also thank god that it was a nice sunny day and that I have a stomach of steel.  You have to be thankful for that.  I have a short video on my Facebook of the short dolphin sighting.  I did not video any of the vomiting……you’re welcome.

I think tomorrow we are going to Acadia and hike a few easy trails.  Mom and dad tell me that the Acadia lodge has the most amazing popovers that you will ever eat….so, I guess I’ll have to go there, if forced, to try them :). I’m not sure how I can endure such hardships! But, I’ll try.  Hopefully, I’ve seen the last of the motion sickness bags to last the rest of my life and tomorrow brings more sun, more lobster and less puke.

Happy Trails!

Niagara Falls is a barrell of fun!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWP_20141002_003 WP_20141002_010 WP_20141002_013 WP_20141002_027 WP_20141002_029 WP_20141002_032 WP_20141002_035 WP_20141002_059 WP_20141002_038 WP_20141002_048 WP_20141002_049  If I had known how much there was to see and do in Niagara Falls, I would’ve planned on staying longer and probably would’ve remembered my camera!  (Thankfully, I had my phone and it takes great pictures and video.)  It is absolutely beautiful up here!  We are stayed  at a campground called “Branches of Niagara”,  It’s a well maintained and it has a small lake with a zip line over it.  We didn’t spend much time in the campground, just to sleep and shower, but you could tell that the people running the place really cared about it.  It’s about 3 miles from Niagara Falls.

We took a tour with a company called Greyline tours and went on the Maid of the Mist and to The Cave of the Winds.   I cannot believe how close you get to the falls at both attractions.  I had never heard of The Cave of the Winds and don’t know why they don’t advertise more.  They give you a pair of sandals, that you get to keep and to everyone’s surprise were extremely comfortable.  I wore mine the rest of the day. (If you are thinking “dork!” right now, you will just have to see them, they are pretty nice sandals…seriously!)  You also get a plastic rain poncho and a plastic bag to put your other shoes in.  Regardless of how hard you try….you WILL get wet!  Don’t fight it!  Just get soaked!  That’s part of the fun and about ten minutes after you leave, you will be completely dry.   I think I enjoyed going to Cave of the Winds as much as the boat ride.  You go down in an elevator 175 feet and walk out on these walkways and platforms, RIGHT next to the American Falls.   It is incredible!

You will get another flimsy poncho at the Maid of the Mist, which takes to EXTREMELY close to the Horseshoe Falls.  My poncho had a big hole in it even before the boat started moving.   Mom and I stood out of the bow of the ship and the water was rushing and swirling around the ship and made you feel like you were in a big storm.  The noise was so LOUD that you couldn’t hear anything else.  I’m not sure why they call it “mist” because it certainly is not a mist, but more like a gale force storm.    I LOVED it.  I would recommend that everyone go at least once in your life time because it is something you will never forget.    After getting off the Maid of the Mist, you walk thru the park and we saw a man sitting in a chair feeding the squirrels and birds.  He said that he had been doing it for 15 years.  He let me and mom feed the birds.  I was amazed that the birds didn’t care if a stranger held the seeds!  I took video of the Chicadee’s eating out of my hand (you can see the video’s on my facebook page) and  I felt like a true Disney Princess.   It made my day!

Our Tour guide/Bus Driver, Tom, was funny and very informative.  He told us the story of one of the daredevil’s that went over the falls, who had  strapped both arms to the inside of the barrel and tied a 100 pound anvil to his feet.  They found the barrel and the only thing in it was the guys right arm in the strap!  They never found the rest of him!  EEEWWWWWWWWWWWWW.  I had a hard time getting that picture out of my head after he told us that….I will  always remember that story though.

Later that evening, mom and I walked across the bridge to Canada (Dad was at the Casino!).  I have to say that I think they have a better view of both of the falls in the Canadian side.  When you are right next to them or UNDER them, you don’t get the full picture, so it was pretty amazing seeing them both from the other side of the river.

All in all, it was a perfect day.

We left Grand Island, New York and Stayed one night in Glenville, New York at Arrowhead Marina and Campground, which is on the Mohawk River.  Today we drove to Wells, Maine and are staying at the Wells Beach RV Resort.  It rained all day today as we were driving out of the Adirondack’s and into the Berkshire’s.  It was still a beautiful drive, despite all the rain.  Tomorrow we head up north to Bar Harbor and will be there for 5 days.  I’m crossing my fingers for good weather and looking forward to seeing Acadia National Park!   We have been to seven States in 5 days: Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine!  Whewwwwwww.  Cannot wait to see what happens tomorrow!!!!!  Happy Trails!

Out with the old…? Who’s old?

IMG_0789.JPGA couple of weeks ago I sent off our old family reel-to-reel video tapes to have them transferred to CD’s. I opened the box today and the first CD that I watched was an old grainy video from 1968 of one of our first family vacations. We travelled out west in a truck pulling a camper and I was 4 years old. Watching the shaky scenes of Mount Rushmore and Old Faithful, I found myself thinking about my upcoming adventure and what I remember of those trips as a child. It’s so funny the things that we remember and the things that made us happy or sad. I remember my disappointment at the Petrified Forest. I could not wrap my head around the fact that it was NOT a forest but just a flat piece of land, full of rocks. I wanted to see a grove of standing trees made of stone. Even now, I think…How cool would that be? I suppose if I had access to the internet at that time I would’ve been much less disappointed.

I also remember discovering rock candy, the smell of campfires, that marshmallows tasted so much better burnt then right out of the bag and thinking that someone could fall into one of those bubbling geysers so easily, why were there no fences there? And one other very vivid memory: During that trip my parents bought me a little furry stuffed brown bear. He had a little red plastic collar with a short silver chain for a leash and made a crinkly sound when you squeezed him. Although I loved rock candy and the smell of campfires, they certainly did not compare to how much I loved that little brown bear. I had that bear for years until it was so old that it got a hole worn in the fake fur, from me dragging it around on that little leash. Although my expectations of the Petrified Forest, turned out to be a let down, that silly little bear made up for it. It’s so crazy, when you are little, how small things could make everything okay.

while I’m trying to let go of any expectations about this up coming trip. This has been difficult for me because, well… I’m a planner. A planner. An organizer. A schedule keeper. It’s never been easy for me to leave anything to chance. I like to know where I stand, what comes next, who does what and when. But during this excursion, I just want to let things happen. I want to relax, take my time and take everything in. I’m beginning to think that maybe we are all meant to have a mid-life crisis so that we can think about what we have grown into and start again…if we choose to. The uncertainty of my life during the last 9 months, has been a long journey of questions, fears, anxiety and confusion. But now, I’m ready to try again.  Make a change.

Last night was the last night I will ever spend in my house and today I moved the last of my furniture into my sister’s house.  I’ll be staying there for the next 4 days until I leave, and my things are in bags, boxes and bins.  I’d lived in that house for 13 years and It was a wonderful home. But, Now I’m happy to pass it along to the next person that will love it and take care of it. Yet I find myself struggling to figure out exactly what it is that I’m truly feeling about it.  I don’t think that it’s sadness that I feel, although I will miss my house because I spent a lot of time, energy and money, making it into what I wanted.   Maybe It just hasn’t sunk in yet and after I clean the house this weekend and hand over the keys..it will hit me. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see. Hopefully I won’t end up in a giant pile of tears and snot…because that is never fun.  And no one wants to see that!

So, in 4 days, I will embark on a new journey.  My home will be on wheels instead of a foundation.  I’m ready to hit the road. Blow this popsicle stand. Take the road less travelled. So far, I’ve just planned where we are going and when. I’ve made all the campground reservations…making sure there is no drive that is too long between locations. But, I am trying to leave it at that so we can do what we feel like doing on any particular day. Letting go of my expectations. Experiencing things the way a kid would.  Enjoying things as they come. If I’m lucky, maybe I’ll discover a part of me that I hadn’t seen in a long time. Or better yet a part of me that I have yet to discover. I want to make some new memories.  Memories that will stay with me forever.  And…. if I’m really lucky, maybe, just maybe, I’ll find a little brown bear with a red plastic collar and a small silver chain leash that will make everything even better!  Keep your fingers crossed!  Happy Trails!

“Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.” –Jim Rohn –

Change is hard.  Duh.  If it were easy, we would all be doing it…..all the time.  What makes change even harder?  STUFF!  The stuff that I’ve worked for, accumulated, collected, stacked up, stored away, dusted and moved from place to place has become…..well….a pain in my ass.  I’m surrounded by years of purchases.  Things that I haven’t seen in years. Things that I look at and think “what the hell did I buy that for”?  Although the sheer volume of crap is currently gumming up my Feng Shui, I am slowly envisioning my life without these things.  And though I have moments of intense attachment anxiety towards those tiny useless salt cellars that I bought for all of those dinner parties that I was going to have, I will let it go.  Just Let It Go.  What else have I learned?  No one else wants your crap either.

Now that that is out of the way…let me tell you a little bit about owning an RV.  The things I’ve learned so far:

As soon as you drive it home, something will stop working.  But hopefully you will have purchased from a reputable RV dealer that will not just say “well, drive it back up here and we’ll look at it”.  So, my first piece of advice is to buy close to home, so you can take it back over there and make them fix it.  In my case I was lucky enough to have a brother-in-law that came to my rescue so that we could avoid the ugly breakdown that I was on the verge of having.  No One Wants To See That.  Anyway, if your leveling jacks will not go down and your room slides will not work as soon as you get home:

1.  There is hidden access in one of your storage compartments that contain your hydraulic system.  Mine was behind a small carpeted hatch that just came open by removing 1 screw.  Apparently a small bolt came loose when I drove it home.  Thanks to Brad, he found it and fixed it and viola!  Everything worked again.  I’m not sure why the dealer didn’t think to have me look at this or even show it to me when we went through the walk thru, but oh well.  I hope everyone has a useful relative like I do.

2.  Every RV is different…kind of like a snow flake!  While there are tons of forums, articles and YouTube videos to help out a new RV owner, finding one for your specific set up can be like finding a needle in a grain silo full of hay.  You will need to just piece together information from other owners experience.  Even calling the manufacturers can be helpful, but in the end, you may need to improvise.

3.  Where oh where is my fresh water tank?  My fresh water tank is in a cabinet in the bedroom, concealed by faux doors that were screwed shut.   I only found it after finding a comment on an RV forum that had theirs in the same location.  And luckily my drain valve was right next to it.  I had read many articles about the importance of sanitizing your fresh water tank and I fretted over the specifics of how to do this for WAY too long.    Bottom line…I finally just used a funnel and poured the recommended amount of bleach directly into my water hose before hooking it up to my freshwater tank and filling  it up.   Then drain and rinse, drain and rinse!  My parents didn’t even want to kill me for using so much water.

4.  There is a small switch located by my steps that turn off the battery connection for the generator. How it got turned off is a mystery but, thanks to mom for figuring it out.  Another crisis averted.

5.  Accessories are our friends.  I installed vent covers for both of my ceiling vents.  You can purchase these thru Walmart for much less than at an RV dealer.  (Plus, you get free shipping). These are useful so that you do not have to worry about closing your vents if it rains and extremely easy to install.  I also added bug screens to the hot water heater vents and the refrigerator vents, also available from Walmart.com.  Sam’s club sells RV toilet paper for a whole lot less than you can buy it from an RV dealer!  Who knew?  Walmart also has a small section of RV accessories in the store.  It is way back by the car stuff….they have: water hoses (make sure the one for your fresh water is designated for drinking), cleaning supplies, black water deodorizers, mirrors, step covers, etc…

Today is another day of packing and moving things.  I’m slowly making headway out of the clutter.  I’ll sign off for now with this: “All great changes are preceded by chaos.” -Deepak Chopra –   Wow! Is he right!

 

East Coast..on down. Here’s the plan for the first leg.

  1. image imageMohican State Park/Ohio
  2. Niagara Falls/New York
  3. Wells Beach/Maine
  4. Bar Harbor/Maine
  5. Old Orchard Beach/Maine
  6. Exploring Cape Cod/Massachusetts 
  7. Washington DC
  8. Jamestown/Williamsburg Virginia
  9. Hilton Head Island/South Carolina
  10. St. Augustine/Florida
  11. Ormond Beach/Florid
  12. Blue Springs State Park/Florida
  13. Fort Wilderness, Disney/Florida
  14. Exploring the Keys/Cudjoe Key, Florida
  15. Everglades/Florida
  16. Fort Myers/Florida
  17. St. Pete Beach/Florida

“Not all those who wander are lost” — J.R.R. Tolkien

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My new RV!

My new RV!

Hi.  My name is Amiee.  I will be turning 50 this year!  Wooop Wooop?  In December, 2013, I was laid off from Indiana University after 26 LONG years allowing them to suck the life right out of me.  It’s taken several months of “rehabilitation” to form myself back into a living, breathing human being.  I still have flash backs, so I think that my mind and my body are still recovering from the trauma of sitting at a desk 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.  After months of going through the grieving process…being angry…resentful…sad…scared….depressed..I’m sure there are many more feelings that I went through but , I’ve made it through the rough times and am starting to feel like a human again.  While losing my job has been one of the worst things I have been through in a while, it has also been a blessing.  Sitting at a desk all day every week day, being told when to arrive, when to eat lunch, when to go home, when to take a break, when to go to meetings….blah blah blah, I believe I became a of “Stepford” worker.  My weekends were filled with the must do’s…laundry, grocery shopping, lawn mowing, etc…  I lived for those once a year vacations that made my life worth living.

I have always loved to travel, to experience new things, new cultures and OH, the food!  I loved almost everything about traveling…with the exception of the “getting there” part.  Plane travel is HARD!  Those of us that travel  know that “getting there” is the most difficult part, but it has always been worth it, in my eyes.  No amount of flight delays, bad weather, sickness or encounters with mean people has ever dampened my love of travel.   I have travelled all over the world and the U.S., but most of the places I’ve visited here, I was just to young to appreciate  or remember.  My mom has this same wanderlust.  I think I may have inherited that from her.  She has always wanted to  just get a camper, hop in and go.  We talked a lot about doing just that, since I got laid off.

After many months of unsuccessful job searching and semi successful soul searching  I decided to turn my misfortune into an opportunity of a life time.  So, I’ve sold my home and am in the process of selling most of my furniture and belongings.  I purchased a Forest River, Georgtown 34-ft. RV.   WHAT?  Yes, I did.  You think I’m crazy don’t you?  Well, my dad thinks so too!  But, I don’t think I’m crazy, I think that for the first time in a long, long time, I’m actually starting to feel something!  Even if it’s being scared…or feeling joy, or both at the same time.  I believe that I had lost myself at that desk.  To the point where I was just going through the motion of living.  When your days are filled with the same mundane tasks…I think you forget, except for those  two precious weeks of vacation time a year, what it’s like to live…really live.  That’s my excuse anyway!  So, here’s the plan:  We are going to travel for a year and see the country.  And after that?  I don’t know.  On this adventure, I may just find out what it is that I want to do when I grow up.

I’m starting this blog because I want to document my experience.  I picked up my RV last month and have already learned many things!   I’m going to try to write about the people we meet, places that we visit, experiences that I have and of course the things I find to eat!  So, This is the beginning of a wonderful adventure, a new beginning and a chance to experience this with my parents….which of course is priceless to me.   I hope that my experience will insight others to start their own adventure.  My trip begins on Sept. 30th, but I’ll share what I’ve already learned in my next post.  Happy Trails!