Travel Log

January 1, 2008 to December 31, 2008

Go back to 2007

 

1/1/08 through 1/15/08
(Sumter SC)

Here we are a couple of weeks into 2008 and things are going pretty much as they were at this time last year—we're even at Shaw AFB as we were this time last year.

There are two primary purposes for today's entry. One is to let readers know that that the travelog is, in fact, continuing (we've had several e-mails from followers of this site that they'd like to see it continue, plus Jordan called to tell me that if I don't do something people will assume it's been abandoned and not come back—especially since there was no 2008 page).

The second reason has to do with the photographs that I've received from our granddaughter Katlin. Last summer the youth orchestra from her church, The United Methodist Church Of the Resurrection, did a ten day tour which she described as, ". . . very exciting with a little over 100 band/orchestra students . . . sharing the message of God with people who donít normally get that spiritual." Part of their itinerary was to travel to some of the areas that had only weeks before been devastated by tornadoes to help with the cleanup effort. Her journal was posted on Stringbean with some of her photographs to follow. Well, the photographs have now been posted and the entire journal, including photographs, can be seen here.

Several nights ago we had a really big rig pull into the campground after dark. We couldn't make out just what it was except that it was different and it was very big. The next day it turned out to be a custom built 45' fifth wheel. In the front part he has the "living quarters," while the rear part (actually the bigger part) is a fully equipped and operational wood working shop, complete with a 15,000 watt generator that runs all his equipment, most of which runs on 220 volts. He weights in at just under 26,000 pounds (not including the truck). That's more than our complete rig including car and kayaks! I wanted to take a picture of the shop interior but he wouldn't let me. Too bad, it was really impressive.

As it stands now it looks as if we'll be here until the end of the month at which time we'll move on the Charleston to visit with our granddaughter Mary as well as a "cousin" who I recently located after not having seen or heard from in over 50 years.


Traveling woodshop

 

Odometer reading = 93,132
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

1/16/08 through 2/18/08
(Sumter SC)

At this time even I think this site is past due for an update. A few weeks ago Bob and Sherry, who we met at the FamCamp at Beale AFB several years ago, stopped by for several days. They have been using HughesNet's satellite system to access the Internet (as have we), but recently switched to Verizon's Wireless Broadband which they have found to be about as fast as DSL, which is considerably faster than satellite. The upside of Verizon's system, in addition to its speed, is that fact that a thing about the size of a cell phone attaches to your computer via a USB cord, and that's all the hardware necessary to get online. No need for setting up the dish, locating the satellite, etc. Plus, you're online all the time (e.g. driving down the highway, etc.). The downside is that you have to be within range of a cell tower. In recent years, however, we have found that we usually do have cell service. Also, I posted the question of accessibility with Hughes vs Verizon on one of the RV forums (this link will probably expire in a few months) and those that have, or have tried Verizon, find it compares favorably with Hughes, and, in fact, most prefer it. It looks as if we'll be hosting the FamCamp at Hanscomb AFB from May through October. Since they have WiFi throughout the campground we're going to cancel HughesNet when we get there, then when we leave at the end of October we'll sign on with Verizon (our cell service will remain with AT&T).

It wasn't too long after Bob and Sherry left that Denis and Mary arrived. We had met them at Wright-Patterson's FamCamp after we finished the 2006 Fall Escapade in Van Wert, Ohio. We ate with them a few times and Denis and I went bike riding several times (Sharyn and Mary both have bikes and were invited to ride with us but they declined). After a few days they left to visit their daughter in Florida.

For a number of years we've heard about geocaching as something that some RVers engage in—kind of a scavenger hunt kind of thing with a GPS. The other day, having visited http://www.geocaching.com/ we looked for caches in the Sumter area, selected two of them, and then set out to see just what this geocaching was all about, and to see if we could find them. It was neat, and we did find them. Actually the second one was a mini-cach, no bigger than a 35mm film canister. I couldn't see it even when Sharyn pointed to it! We haven't done it again since but I'd like to.

Another day we went to Florence, about 40 miles from here, because someone had told Sharyn there was a nice shopping mall there. We found the mall, complete with a Barnes & Noble. I stayed at B&N while Sharyn checked out the mall stores. She didn't too much care for what she found so she came back to B&N and we went into town (Florence) to the Chinese restaurant where we frequently eat with my cousin Bobby and his wife Teresa.

Not too much else going on. I've taken several books out of the base library, mostly having to do with South Carolina's involvement in the American Revolution and Civil wars. Sharyn likes suspense and murder novels and has been knocking them out at the rate of almost one a day! She has become a library regular.

My bike riding goes on, and now that we're out of the winter weather I'm back on track to get my 200 miles per month (See Bike Stats - requires OpenOffice.org Calc). Last week I rode into town to Baskin Robins. I figured that the bad effects of the ice cream would be neutralized by the 19 mile bike ride—and even if it wasn't, so what?


The sun comes up on the other side of the woods

Sharyn's little teapot left from the night before



Odometer reading = 93,132
Miles for day = 0

 

 

This is just to make note of the fact that today, February 25, 2008, marks the 8th anniversary of our pulling out of the driveway in Charlottesville VA to begin our new lifestyle. It is also the first day of our 9th year of full-time RVing

 

 

2/19/08 to 3/1/08
(Sumter SC)

About a week ago we got together again with my third cousin, Margaret, who has been working for the last ten years on researching the Owen Family which came here from England in the mid to late 1800's. She's actually doing this in a very professional manner, has traveled to England, Canada, and numerous other places collecting all the data that she can find. She plans on having all her work published within the next year. I, on the other hand, sort of play with this stuff, satisfying my curiosity and pursuing that which interests me. I recognize, however, that there is an addictive element that comes into play.

Anyway, Margaret wanted to go out to Bloom Hill Cemetery, located on what used to be the 8,000 acre Bloom Hill Plantation. The cemetery is now on a what is known as the Milford Plantation. Having contacted the land manager she arranged for us to go there. She was particularly interested in locating the grave of Luke Blumer Owen, her great grandfather who was born in Dorking Surrey, England on June 27, 1848 and died in Columbia, SC on December 17, 1886. We spent about 45 minutes at the cemetery.

Some number of years ago my mother's brother gave his daughter, Myra, his copy of a book that had been privately published in 1906, "A Genealogical Record with Reminiscences of the Richardson and Burford Families, by Elizabeth Burford Richardson 1906." Last summer I borrowed the book from Myra and photocopied the entire thing. While I had glanced through the book, and had read that portion concerning the Broadways, I had not read the entire thing until our return from Bloom Hill when I discovered that Bloom Hill Plantation was established by Capt. William Richardson, my 5th great grandfather, in the years leading up to the American Revolution, and that during the Revolution Bloom Hill was used by Gen. Francis Marion, the "Swamp Fox," and his militia as a supply depot and safe haven from the British. Having discovered that information I have since had to buy and read several books on the American Revolution in South Carolina, plus now I have to return to Bloom Hill to photograph the graves of some of my numerous ancestors that are buried there. The only problem is that we won't be back in the Sumter area until next January, and that's only if we don't go back to Quartzsite AZ.

Two things to mention: First, I have struck a deal with Jordan whereby she will digitize and proof read the digitized version of "A Genealogical Record with Reminiscences of the Richardson and Burford Families, by Elizabeth Burford Richardson 1906." At that point it is my intention to post it on the Internet (on stringbean as well as the Sumter County SC genealogical site) so that I might be accessible to others doing research on the Richardson and Burford families. Second, a good book about the guerilla activities of Francis Marion, The Swamp Fox , is oddly enough, "Swamp Fox" by Robert Bass. I particularly enjoyed it because William Broadway, my 3rd great grandfather fought under General Marion in 1782. (He also fought under General Sumter, Col Richardson, and Col Peter Horry).


Margaret, Louis (the property manager), and Sharyn, at the recently cleaned up Bloom Hill Cemetery
(Luke Blumer Owen's grave is the one in the corner by the fence).

In the 1700's the property to the right was part of the 8,000 acre Bloom Hill Plantation


Odometer reading = 93,132
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

3/2/08 to 3/6/08
(Goose Creek SC)

As I've mentioned before , the longer we've been somewhere, the longer it takes us to get ready to leave. Having been in Sumter for over two months our "getting ready to leave time" was somewhat extended, and that was even after some preliminary getting ready was done the day before. Anyway, it was a few minutes past noon when we pulled out of the campground and stopped for gas. At $3.069 per gallon it cost us $206 to fill the tank. Hearing that gas could go to $4 per gallon we realize that at that price we would have to factor fuel costs into our planning. At $3/gallon it costs us about 40¢ per mile to travel down the highway, and while we are more aware of fuel costs now than we were several years back, we have really made very few adjustments. At $4/gallon our costs per mile (fuel costs only) would rise to 53¢ per mile. At that point some consideration would have to be given to when, where, and how far it is.

Remembering that on other occasions when we stayed in one place for a long time we have experienced low air pressure in the outside rear right tire, I checked the pressure before we got started and it was down to 30 pounds (down from 90 pounds). That tire has been dismounted twice to discover the cause of that leak, but obviously it still leaks. It's slow enough that even submerging the tire in a water tank they were unable to find anything. We're going to have to have it done again, and this time I'll have the seal of the rim wire brushed and a new valve installed. Of course that assumes the leak is not in the tire itself. Anyway, using a little 120 volt compressor that Sharyn gave me we got the pressure back up to 90 pounds, but that little compressor takes quite a while to get there.

Full of gas and air we were finally on our way to the FamCamp at the Charleston Naval Weapons Station which is close to where our granddaughter Mary lives, and is only about 20 miles from downtown Charleston. We stayed here for the first time about a year ago and thought it was really nice. The problem was that this time they had no sites available. We ended up dry camped at the edge of the campground for the first night. The next day we got a site that was available for four days, but now the four days are up and tomorrow we're moving over to the FamCamp at Charleston AFB, about 10 miles south of here.

Yesterday Sharyn and I went to visit another Cousin" of mine, Annie Sue, whom I haven't seen in over 50 years—and who Sharyn had never met. We had lunch with Annie Sue in her apartment where we talked about what has gone on over all these years. The last time I saw her I was probably about 12 years old and she was a "grown up" in her early 20's.

After leaving Annie Sue we drove down to the Battery where we walked along the waterfront, walked up Meeting Street admiring the beautiful old homes and basically enjoying a beautiful sunny day in a very pretty area. Of all the places we've been, Sharyn says that no other place projected the era of pretty ladies strolling along in their hoop skirts, etc. as did the majestic houses along Meeting Street.


Annie Sue

House overlooking the Ashley River near the Battery

Fort Sumter as seen from the Battery (through 320mm lens)

From a bygone era

A window box on Meeting Street

Another magnificent home

This 13" mortar was used by the Federal troop in the bombardment of Fort Sumter in October 1863

 

Odometer reading = 93,242
Miles for day = 110

 

 

 

3/7/08 through 3/9/08
(Charleston SC)

The weather forecast for the day we were leaving the Weapons Station FamCamp called for heavy rain and thunderstorms in the morning, so the night before we put up the awning, brought in the bikes (it gets crowded with the bikes inside), put away all the outside chairs, etc., and disconnected everything except the electric line. That all turned out to have been very worthwhile as the following morning the rain was coming down in torrents. We considered not even hooking up the car but to have Sharyn just follow me and the motorhome over to Charleston AFB. She was concerned that if we got separated she might get lost so we went ahead and hooked up the car in spite of the continuing deluge. Anyway, it was just a short drive to Charleston AFB where we had gone the day before and paid in advance for our campsite.

By the afternoon the rain had stopped and we picked Mary up after school (complete with her bike). We had no sooner gotten back to the motorhome at the FamCamp then she wanted to go for a bike ride, which we did.

By the next day, the powerful cold front having moved through the area, the weather was much improved. It was sunny and cool, but extremely windy. Returning from another bike ride, we turned into the campground and headed straight into the wind. A sudden strong gust brought Mary's bike to a standstill. She thought that was pretty windy! We also did some shopping (how unusual), bought some groceries, and had lunch at McDonald's. It was a good day and we all enjoyed it!

The plan was that on Sunday we'd get everything hooked up and head back towards Virginia, making a short detour to drop Mary off at her house. It didn't happen that way. The real bummer was that Sharyn, who had had some kind of a flu for over a week, and had appeared to be over it, was up sick all night. I ended up taking Mary home while Sharyn stayed in bed. It was 3:30 before she got up for about a half hour, only to go back to bed again. To put Sharyn being sick into perspective, the last time she was sick enough to stay in bed was back in 1986—again with the flu. She just doesn't get sick!

As it stands now I'm not sure when we'll leave here. Even if Sharyn feels better tomorrow I think another day of layover would be a good idea..


Mary with Grandma's bicycle helmut

Me and Mary about to depart on one of our rides

 

Odometer reading = 93,257
Miles for day = 14

 

 

 

3/10/08 to 3/17/08
(Louisa VA)

Sharyn felt considerably better when we awoke and insisted she was well enough to travel. She had no interest in a layover day for further recovery so we headed north to Virginia. We left open the question as to whether we'd drive the entire distance in one day or make it a two day trip. On the one hand we have our 200 mile max rule, while on the other hand I tend to get that horse on the way back to the barn syndrome. The lure of the barn won out and a little after nine we were backing into Jordan's driveway.

At this point we've been here for a week. Sharyn is fully recovered and is looking great! Yesterday being St. Patrick's Day, Phil and his family came over for a corned beef and cabbage dinner. While corn beef and cabbage is not my favorite, Sharyn's is quite good—including the Irish soda bread baked in a cast iron frying pan (of which I ate too much).

There's not much else to write about except to say that this morning we got final confirmation from Hanscom AFB as to our hosting the FamCamp this summer. The campground opens May 1 and we plan on arriving there April 21.

 

Katlin and Philip battle it out with Othello

Katlin, Captain of the School Band, in her band photo


Odometer reading = 93,730
Miles for day = 473

 

 

 

3/18/08 to 4/16/08
(Louisa VA)

As the time to leave here approaches I thought I should fill in with some of what we have done while we have been here (plus there is some pressure to do so coming from the usual sources—Jordan and Katlin). Of course none of this has to do with RVing, so in an abbreviated format, here it is.

We had all the kids over for Easter dinner (except for Greg who still lives on Long Island), visited with our friend Jean who lives down in Lovingston (who lost the entire roof of her house a month or so ago when a freak windstorm—which they insist was not a tornado—wreaked havoc on numerous farms on her road), accompanied Phil down to Raleigh NC to pick up a new company truck, and, not to be forgotten, celebrated our 41st wedding anniversary.

Also, this past weekend, Sharyn, Jordan, and I met and had dinner with Susie, a friend and nursery school playmate of Jordan's, and one of my favorite 4 year olds (whose now 30). Actually, it was Susie's sister Sarah's wedding that we went to in Athens GA in May of last year.

I may have mentioned previously (with age comes repetition) that the FamCamp at Hanscom AFB has wireless Internet throughout the campground so we plan on canceling our HughesNet satellite service when we leave here, use the wireless network for the six months we'll be at Hanscom, and then get Verizon's Wireless Broadband when we leave there. Friends of ours, also full-time RVers switched from HughesNet to Verizon's Broadband several months ago and have been quite pleased with it. Jordan has been using Embarque's DSL service here in Louisa and has been very unhappy with it (customer service rots). She went with Verizon's Broadband several weeks ago and likes it. More importantly for us, I installed the software from her CD onto our computer and using her—whatever you call the thing that looks like a tiny cell phone and plugs into a USB port—use Verizon on our computer while Jordan is at work, and find that it's about four times faster than HughesNet. Another benefit from our point of view (besides speed) is that since our computer is on 24/7, even when we're traveling down the highway or stopped for lunch, with the Verizon system we'll also be online 24/7. The downside would be that if we're boondocked out in the desert or some remote BLM land location out west we may not get a signal. These factors considered, plus not having to carry around and set up the tripod/satellite-dish system to get on line, we think this will be a good move.

On several occasions now I have enjoyed having Jordan go bike riding with me. On numerous occasions I have told her of the health benefits from bike riding, particularly the cardiovascular aspects (she goes to the gym after work most every day), but that made little impression upon her and I still could not get her to go with me. However, one of the girls at work told her what sounds much like what I've been telling her, so now she rides with me (using Sharyn's bike). It must be a genetic thing she acquired from her mother, because it reminded me of something from years ago. Once upon a time, a lifetime ago, I was a lawyer doing a fair amount of matrimonial work when one day Sharyn asked me a question about divorce law. Something along the lines of, "What would happen if . . . ." I answered her, and she told me I was wrong. Over the years, from time to time, this came up in conversation and Sharyn continued to tell me that I was wrong. One day she said, "Do you remember, (whatever-referring to this question), well you were right." I said, "I know I was right, but what makes you think I was right?" She replied, "I read it in Ann Landers." Some things just run in the family.

Tomorrow morning we'll be on our way north, heading for what might be called our "summer employment," with a visit with Irene and Harry as we pass through Jersey. It seems that perhaps we should have left here two days ago, as yesterday we had two equipment failures. First, as DeLorme's Street Atlas was running our route from Jersey to Hanscom our nine year old laptop, running Windows 98, declared some kind of an error or malfunction and now will not reboot. This will be the first time in a long time that we'll have to travel from Point A to Point B without the aid of GPS. We'll have to rely on Sharyn's navigation. The second thing, and this is much more major, is that last night the rear heat pump died as it emitted the odor of burning electrical wiring. The timing on this is probably as good as it could be—assuming it had to die—in that we're at a time of the year when the outside temperatures demand relatively little in the form of either heating or air conditioning. The front unit can carry the needs of the entire motorhome, but we prefer to only run the rear unit during the day so we don't have to have the sound of system running (basically, we've always run the front unit at night when we're sleeping, and the rear unit during the day when we're up). Anyway, there is a Camping World in Chichester NH, about 70 miles from Hanscom, so after we get settled in at Hanscom I suspect we'll be taking the motorhome there for what will probably turn out to be a unit replacement.. Oh, happy day!


Jordan, once again having to deal with her father

Katlin accommodating her grandfather

Philip (trying to be accommodating)

Shane, Jordan, and Phil

Susie, me, and Sharyn after dinner

Jordan and me starting out on a bike ride

 

Odometer reading = 93,730
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

4/17/08 to 4/19/08
(Boonton NJ)

The drive from Virginia to Jersey was uneventful, if somewhat long. We stopped once for lunch at a highway rest area, and then a second time just before we exited the Jersey Turnpike to get gas and ice cream (actually a large TCBY). Continuing on, not too far from Harry and Irene's we passed a National Park sign for "Washington's Headquarters," which we returned to the following day with Irene and Harry. It had been our intention to leave the next morning, but while visiting Washington's Headquarters we learned of a reenactment that was going to take place the next day at Jockey Hollow, several miles from the headquarters and the place where some 10,000 soldiers of the Continental Army spent the winter of 1779 - 1780, so we extended our stay (Irene continued to feed us well) and the four of us returned the next day to see the camp and reenactment.[Everyone reading this should read John Adams by David McCullough—you know about George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, etc., but you probably know very little about John Adams, the man who pulled it all together and made it happen!]

Anyway, on our way to the reenactment we stopped at the Book Barn which sells used books to raise money for the local hospital. After about 45 minutes I had bought six books for $9.00 (having put three back). Now I'm really behind on my reading!

Neil, Irene and Harry's youngest son gave me his old laptop computer to run DeLorme's Street Atlas on, but said he wanted credit on stringbean's website, so here it is, including picture below.


Private home used as Washington's headquarters during the winter of 1779-1780

One of the re-enactors, an officer, who was ready to answer all our questions

Representatives of the Continental Army (I believe it was two Companies)

Some of the woman at the camp

Neil, his wife Andrea (with Neil Jr due in August), their niece Erin, and Uncle Harry

And my favorite, Irene's wren house


Odometer reading = 94,095
Miles for day = 365

 

 

 

4/20/08 and 4/21/08
(Bedford MA)

We left Harry and Irene's at 9:30 and managed to find our way here without the aid of GPS and/or Street Atlas (I couldn't get Street Atlas to load properly). The only thing outstanding about the trip was the $22.50 toll to drive across the Hudson River on the Tappanzee Bridge.

We're at the Hanscom AFB FamCamp where we'll be for the next six months; longer than we've stayed in one place since we started this. We had hoped to get the same campsite that the FamCamp host had last year. It's a very nice site. Anyway, it turns out that that is the host site, so we do have it. In fact, it includes a small garden area that we plan to plant with some tomatoes, peppers, and probably some cucumbers. How's that for a perk?

As soon as we got ourselves organized we ran over to the commissary to get some of the groceries we needed (the commissary is closed on Mondays). The BX is part of the same complex so we walked through the BX as well. One of the items they sell there are snow blowers! I told Sharyn that when we see snow blowers in a store we know that we're too far north too early in the season.

As things settle in and we see/know how it's going I'll write a follow-up.


Our campsite (note small garden area to the left)


Odometer reading = 94,338
Miles for day = 240

 

 

 

4/22/08 to 5/3/08
(Bedford MA)

Having been here for almost two weeks, things have really begun to settle in. While the FamCamp officially opened May 1, we had been busy for several days before that—ever since Sharyn went on the federal payroll—getting the office cleaned and organized, and getting the bathrooms, showers, and laundry room ready to open. Even though I'm not on the payroll—the decision to hire me was only made several days ago and I have not yet had my prerequisite physical—I've been working as if I was. In our own minds we came here as a team and that's the way we're approaching the entire operation; basically, Sharyn runs the office and the business end of the campground while I'm grounds maintenance and other miscellaneous..

So far we've only had a half dozen "campers" check in, although there are probably 15-20 "homesteaders" who spent the winter in the campground and renew monthly (there are a total of 67 sites). The rules on homesteaders vary from one FamCamp to another. As we understand it, the reason there is no uniformity is that each FamCamp is under the jurisdiction of the individual base commander who I suspect has higher priorities to attend to than FamCamp rules and procedures. "Homesteading" is a controversial topic among FamCamp campers. As someone on one of the forums at http://www.militarycampgrounds.us/ stated the issue, "it's a question of whether you want a campground or a trailer park." Fortunately (or maybe unfortunately) that decision is above our paygrade.

Anyway, on to other things. One of the first things we did was plan our vegetable/flower garden—I wanted vegetables, you can eat them; Sharyn wanted flowers, she said they make you happy—so we have both. Unfortunately, several nights ago it went down to 28° and although we covered the garden with a plastic sheet, some of the plants got burned, and the cucumbers are kind of dead! We'll wait another week or so and then replace whatever needs replacing.

There has been a lot of cold and rainy weather since we've been here so the weather, together with the time spent working, have detracted from the time available for bike riding. I've only ridden twice. The first ride I rode to Arlington Center for coffee and a scone. It's a small place along the Minuteman Bike Trail (a "rail to trail" that runs from Bedford to Cambridge—about 12 miles) that I stopped at several times last year. In Virginia, one of the routes I rode was 16 miles with 1,800 feet of vertical climb (which I found to be a good but difficult ride), so I figured that the flat 17 mile ride was a "nothing" ride. I clearly didn't remember from last year. I guess I started off as if it was going to be a sprint—it wasn't!

Several days ago we drove up to Portsmouth NH to see my sister who had three tickets to some kind of a presentation by Cokie Roberts on her latest book, basically a part two of her last book, Founding Mothers. Being somewhat interested in the Revolutionary War and the people and events surrounding it, I was looking forward to reading Founding Mothers, about the wives of the founding fathers, and the part they played in the early development of our country. Unfortunately, she had taken what I thought was a great topic and, instead of writing a serious history, wrote what I would have to describe as a "Women's Lib" version, clearly designed for the similarly oriented female reader. It would be nice if someone like Doris Kerns Goodwin, a serious historical author, would write a book on the topic. It was definitely a female audience; the woman sitting next to me asked if my wife had twisted my arm to make me attend. Cokie Roberts was funny and entertaining, but not someone I could take as a serious historian. Anyway, before the presentation we had gone out to eat and the dinner, as well as the visit, was very good.

Getting more current, yesterday was our 15,000th anniversary—that is 15,000 days that we've been married (I can't believe that Sharyn forgot). In honor of the occasion I gave here a pin to wear, plus we went out to dinner. Sharyn wanted "Chinese" so we went to "The Great Wall," two miles from the FamCamp and had a very nice dinner. We'll go back again. In the meanwhile, today is Sharyn's birthday so we're going to have dinner at the Minuteman Club here on base. We'll report on that another time.


FamCamp office

Sharyn at work in office

Our garden

A gang of these guys walked past the motorhome while I was typing

Sharyn's Anniversary Pin

 

Odometer reading = 94,338
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

5/4/2008 to 6/4/2008
(Bedford MA)

Well at this point the FamCamp has been open for just over a month, I've been officially hired, and all is going well. Sharyn's official title is "FamCamp Manager," while mine is "Rec Assistant." As I've told our kids, what that all means is that Sharyn runs the FamCamp, office, etc., while I clean the toilets, cut grass, pump propane, and miscellaneous stuff like that. Right now Hanscom FamCamp has the cleanest bathrooms in the Air Force! I like the whole package—FamCamp, job, people we work with, location, etc. There's also "Chips," an ex-Navy man who's worked with Outdoor Rec forever and knows how to make it happen, whatever "it" is. Collectively, the FamCamp is our deal and we all like the way it's going. When he's not at the FamCamp, horse trading, or shopping with his daughters, it seems that he's volunteering at the Bedford VA hospital. The pins in his cap represent over 2300 hours of such volunteer work!

Since we're not traveling, there isn't a great deal to write about, in spite of my daughter and granddaughter mentioning that it's time for an update, but I'll post some pictures anyway.

 

First view of FamCamp from entrance road

Some of the wooded sites with fire ring in foreground

Barbecue sponsored by Andrea and Gabe

The force was with us at the first "smores fest"

Sharyn greets new arrival

A quiet evening at the fire ring

Our day off

"Chips"


Odometer reading = 94,338
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

6/5/08 through 6/23/08
(Bedford MA)

A great deal has happened since our last update—some of it good, some of it not so good; somethings more interesting than others.

First of all, the Mattituck Lions Club (Eastern Long Island) were having their 54th annual Strawberry Festival Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of Father's Day weekend and Sharyn had a vendor's booth for selling her jewelry. Also planned for that weekend, but unknown to me, was a surprise 70th birthday party at Greg and Paulette's home in Southold, about 10 miles east of Mattituck. In fact, the Strawberry Festival, while it was real, was Sharyn's cover to get me to go to Long Island for the weekend. The big event which almost killed the Strawberry Festival as well as the birthday party occurred on the evening of the preceding Tuesday when we received a phone call from a very upset Jordan. A violent thunderstorm had occurred at her house shortly before 7:pm, during which the intensity of the wind noise became so extreme that she likened it to the "sounds like a freight train" noise of a tornado bearing down and was seeking shelter in the bathroom (the only room without windows) when suddenly the noise ceased. Looking outside she saw that most of the large trees surrounding the house had either been blown over or broken off, two storage sheds destroyed—one blown over and one crushed from a fallen tree—and her car buried in the foliage of a downed tree. To put the size of these trees in perspective, the largest one which was blown over had a root ball sticking 12' out of the ground and measuring 20' across. These sheds, particularly the one crushed under the tree and inaccessible at the time, contained many of the things that we had accumulated over a lifetime and had stored for safekeeping. The loss, or assumed loss, of all these things was extremely unsettling.

Not knowing what to do, and being unaware of the planned birthday party (Jordan, Phil, and Shane were all going to be there from Virginia as part of the surprise) within the hour I was online checking for flights from Boston to Virginia and telling Sharyn we may have to abandon our plans for the Strawberry Festival. However, over the next 24-48 hours, between Jordan and Phil (and a very efficient insurance adjuster), and in spite of the fact that Jordan's car, which she loved, was totaled, they had the situation sufficiently under control that our trip to the Strawberry Festival was back on.

As an aside, what was that wind/storm that brought those trees down. Was it a tornado? There were no reported tornados in Virginia that day, plus no one else sustained any damage. Houses next door, across the street, down the road—nothing—no damage. Is there such a thing as a tornado that touches down for 150' and then just disappears? Could it have been a microburst—it was clearly straight wind damage, all the trees went in the same direction? We don't know!

Okay, the first event having been covered, now on to the surprise birthday/Father's Day celebration.

When we arrived at Greg and Paulette's no one was at home. We weren't there too long, however, until a car pulled into the driveway and Shane, Jordan, Phil, and Phil's friend J.C. all piled out. Since it was Friday, a regular workday, and the four of them should have been at work in Virginia, I was quite surprised. Being as astute as I am, I immediately suspected that something was up. Subsequent arrivals included my sister (from New Hampshire), my cousin Myra (from Maine), friends Linda and Bill (from Poughkeepsie, NY), and Cathy and Charlie, Jordan's Godparents! It was all very, very, nice, quite a surprise, and I thoroughly enjoyed it all. The party part part continued at one level or another through Sunday night when Sharyn and I joined the "Virginia contingent" for dinner at Orient -by-the-Sea before hurrying down the road the last 200 yards to catch the 8:pm ferry back to New London.

As for the Strawberry Festival, it was less than a stellar success, but since it was being used primarily as a means to get me to Long Island that didn't too much matter. The worse part was sitting in that booth on Saturday with a blazing sun, no wind, and what seemed like 110°.

By about 4:pm I told Sharyn I had to o back to the house to get some relief from the sun, but that I'd be back. When Jordan saw me she said that she'd go back at sit with Sharyn for the remainder of the day. That was very good!!

Several days ago a young couple with a six year old son came into the FamCamp with a motorhome they had rented from Cruise America. They were visiting from Germany and did not realize that this was a military campground and that a military ID was required. Several days earlier that had wanted to visit the Statue of Liberty but were unable to get into or find any campground in the New York City area. Now they had driven to Massachusetts to visit Boston. Sharyn told them they could not stay here, but almost immediately changed her mind and told them that she would sponsor them in the FamCamp. We talked about some of the things to do in the area and lent them our bikes, including a borrowed kids bike, so that they could ride the bike trail to Lexington, and Lexington Green where the British soldiers first fired on the American Patriots. They bought tickets for the Trolley Tour of Boston (which we sell in the office) and, since they are not towing a car behind there motorhome, the next morning I dove them to the subway that would take them into downtown Boston where they could begin the tour and spend the day. That evening, as it began to get dark and they had not yet returned, Sharyn began to worry about them and went down to check out their rig. It was just at that time that they returned to the campground by taxi, having had a great day in Boston. They were a nice family and we enjoyed having them stay here. If we ever get to Hamburg they have invited us to stop and visit with them.

Then this past Saturday we had our first potluck dinner of the season. For those who don't know, a potluck is when everyone comes and brings some prepared dish to share with the others. All of these dishes are set out on serving tables. Paper plates and plastic silverware is provided and everyone helps themselves to whatever they'd like. We had a pretty good showing with about 40 people showing up with a good mix of delicious foods. The FamCamp provided the paper plates, silverware, soda, coffee, cake, watermelon and whatever things Sharyn thought would be nice or appropriate. Everyone had a good time and many of us ate too much. I went kind of heavy on the chicken wings and Sharyn's baked ziti, plus of course the chocolate cake. Then also, it seemed that there were a lot of cookies being left uneaten and my mother always told me it was a sin to waste food!

Finally there is a National organization of retired and active duty military RVers called S*M*A*R*T (Special Military Active Retired Travel Club) that has a 20 rig caravan leaving on a 49 day tour of the Canadian Maritime Provinces. Hanscom FamCamp is their starting point and for the last week or so they have been coming in from all over the Country. They're a nice group with interesting and friendly people. At this point all but four of our 67 campsites are taken and we've really been busy keeping up with everything. Things will quiet down a bit when they leave on the 25th—for the last several days the office has been somewhat of a gathering place for conversation, inquiries, and story telling—but we'll miss the elevated level of activity.

Anyway, tonight we went out for dinner, and we're off tomorrow and Wednesday so we'll see what we do for the next two days.

 

This was the biggest tree. Midway between Jill and the shed you can see some red—that was Jordan's car
(for size reference, that's a 550 gallon tank)

This is only 1/2 of the big shed, the other 1/2 and the other door aren't there anymore

The blocks are the chimney from the big shed, the other shed is to the right

These trees in the front yard took out the other front yard trees

Jordan's new 2009 Toyota

Leaving New London the ferry passes by the U.S. Submarine Base at Groton

Approaching Orient Point, the Eastern tip of the North Shore of Long Island, with the Plum Gut light in the foreground

For swabbing the decks on the ferry(?)

Part of the group at Greg and Paulette's

Another view

Greg, Jordan, Phil, and Shane

Jordan with her Godparents, Kathy and Charlie

Phil with the beard we had not seen before

Paulette, Jordan, and Greg work in the kitchen (Phil looks on)

Sharyn's display at the Strawberry Festival

A view of the Strawberry Festival

Another view

The Ferris wheel

This guy can't fly and should probably make less noise and try to keep a low profile

I use Jordan to set up my camera for the next picture (the bruise is from her skeet shoot the previous weekend)

The six of us together—the first time in a long time

Our friends from Germany in front of their motorhome

Sharyn works on replying to Jordan's text message

FamCamp office with our "hybrid" vehicle parked outside—a cross between a pickup truck and a wheel barrel

Hanscom FamCamp's first potluck of the season

Another view

So how'd you like it?

 

Odometer reading = 94,338
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

6/24/08 to 7/22/08
(Bedford MA)

This will cover a few things that come to mind that have occurred since the last update; probably not in chronological order.

We have had two more events here at the FamCamp (we're trying to do one a month); one to celebrate the Fourth of July, and the second a beer tasting. The 4th of July was not too different than the pot luck we did earlier, but it gives everyone the opportunity to get together for hot dogs, soda, and general gathering together to trade stories, etc. Keep in mind that we always have some campers leaving and others coming in, so the group is continuously changing, even though some people are here for a longer time—some for the season

The beer tasting started off in the planning stage as a wine tasting with cheese and crackers, etc. However, all the initial feedback was that there was little interest in the wine tasting, but substantial interest in a "beer tasting" (something we had never heard of). The "tasting" consisted of 7 different kinds of Samuel Adams and went over quite well. Outdoor Recreation procured the beer, while the Minuteman Club, the on base service club, provided The Ultimate Margarita, made with tequila, plus a pretty young girl to serve it (she was a hit with the security forces when they drove through). We also provided hot dogs and soda so as to have something for everyone. From the comments and complements that followed the event it would seem that it was more than successful.

One morning we had breakfast at an awards ceremony at the Minuteman Club where "Chips" had been nominated for the civilian employee of the quarter from the 66th Services Squadron. That day the FamCamp office didn't open until after 10:am.—everything has it's own priority!

Another event we tried was a "Yard sale/Swap meet." We advertised it as an opportunity to get rid of your old junk and replace it with new junk, but it bombed when almost no one participated. I did very well, however. A few weeks ago we went to Camping World up in New Hampshire where, after looking at several different models, we bought a new Weber barbecue. At our yard sale I came across the better model we had looked at for $199. The sign said, "$5 as is." Not seeing what was wrong with it I knocked on the door and asked what was wrong with it. The lady said it was dirty and she had bought a new one. It probably took me two hours to clean it, but now we basically have two new, and very nice, barbecues. It's too bad this yard sale thing wasn't two weeks earlier!

While this full time work stuff has really cut into my bicycle riding time. As of several days ago I only had 66.7 miles so far this month, but that hasn't kept me from playing with it. I mentioned that back in June my kids had gotten together and bought me a really nice GPS, a Garmin 760. Reading some of the online forums I came across some really top quality mounts from an outfit called Ram Mounts (they seem to have mounts for everything) that would enable me to mount the GPS to my bike—something I had not really thought about. The mount just arrived today and it installed quite nicely. I went for a test ride and managed to find my way back to the FamCamp, so I guess it works!

Having been an ice cream freak for well over 50 years, I find this place to be quite friendly to ice cream fans. We are less than 3 miles from Bedford Farms, a place that sells really big ice creams, and maybe six miles from Kimball Farms, a place that sells even bigger ice creams. Some times we go by car, sometimes I just ride my bike.

In closing, I am beginning to find a lot of big dead bugs as I clean the bathrooms. The other day I swept one up, and seeing he was in such good condition I decided to keep him to see if I could find out what he was. As he had been swept up with all the stuff on the floor, there was some lint between his pincers that I wanted to remove to "clean him up." Luckily I used one of my keys rather than my finger, because, dead though I thought he was, he clamped down on the key with considerable vigor! I took several pictures, but while I was putting the camera back in the motorhome he disappeared. Anyway, that's all for now!


I got started with the hot dogs on the 4th of July

At the beer tasting; the Margarita Girl, our boss Stephanie, and Sharyn, all wait on customers

Chips with his daughters following the awards breakfast

I bought this at the yard sale for five dollars ($199 at Camping World)

Chips most interesting sale items were not on his table

GPS as it mounts on my bike

A rainy night at Bedford Farms Ice Cream

A very aggressive and unfriendly bug


Odometer reading = 94,338
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

7/23/28 to 8/31/08
(Bedford MA)

It is under extreme pressure and duress that this site is being updated at this time. Be that as it may, there are some things to talk about.

The first is probably our trip to Boston. With all the history that took place in Boston, all the things to do and places to go, I'm not sure why it took us so long to get there, but we finally made it. Everyone was in agreement that you do not want to take your car into Boston. We drove to the subway at Alewife Station from which it was only half a dozen stops to Park Street and the Boston Common (of course we went one stop too far and had to walk back to the Common). We walked the Freedom Trail (Freedom Trail Map) from the Common to Quincy Market which took us past about a dozen historical places including the Granary Burial Ground, King's Chapel, Park Street Church, The Old State House (site of the Boston Massacre), Faneuil Hall, etc., and took us all day. The Freedom trail is a 2 1/2 mile walking path through downtown Boston that takes you to 16 historical sites. The trail is marked by a big red line (in some places brick, in some places painted) so you can't get lost or off track. Not having finished the trail (there is LOTS to see along the way) we still have not been to the Old North Church (where the lanterns were placed to let Paul Revere know—"one if by land, two if by sea"), Bunker Hill, or the USS Constitution "Old Ironsides," which is a US Navy warship still on active duty. We will go back again!

One Friday night we had dinner at the Minuteman Club on base. I had prime rib, and opted for the larger size. It was delicious, but it blows my mind that it was so big I couldn't finish it. That's a first!

Several weeks ago we, along with 30-35 people from the FamCamp, went to "Tops in Blue" at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium. Tops in Blue is a show put on by a group of Air Force personnel that travels the world, entertaining more than 250,000 military personnel, their families, and communities, presenting an average of 120 performances at 100 locations worldwide. This is not their job however. They are radar operators, nurses, armament specialists, intelligence analyzers, security personnel, etc. who, having tried out and been selected are, and for one year, become and travel with "Tops in Blue." It was a great show, and while the Air Force provided a bus to take everyone there, the turnout was such that they had to send for a second bus. That delayed our arrival, but the delay didn't matter because all of the seats in the center front had been reserved for people coming from Hanscom AFB. To see and hear just what Tops in Blue is, click here. To see if the show will be presented in your area click on the Tour tab and look at the Tour Schedule—it's always free!

A month or so ago we were getting nothing but rain every day and we, along with everyone else in Eastern Massachusetts, were fed up up with the unrelenting deluge. Well that has changed. The weather has been beautiful for the last several weeks. Sunny with comfortable temps during the day, and quite cool at night—several nights in the 40's. Now, at night, we still set the thermostat on 68°, only with heat, not the air conditioning! It's all a very welcome change.

Several weeks ago FamCamp had an ice cream social for all campers, with all the ice cream you could eat —for free! Not surprisingly, it was a big hit with most of the FamCamp showing up.. An unexpected guest was Col. Parish, Deputy Commander of the 66th Mission Support Group who came with his family on a bicycle. While he was here he noticed what I call our "loaner fleet" of old bicycles leaning up against a picnic table by the basketball court. These are bikes that we've manage to acquire (for free) over the course of the summer for the use of kids who get here without a bike to ride. The Col. told one of the people from Outdoor Rec that there was a bike rack at such and such a place on base and that he should have it brought over to the FamCamp. Several days later we got our bike rack!

The FamCamp office also sells soda, ice cream, T-shirts, and a few miscellaneous items. We also had a small amount of RV related items that weren't really moving. We recently restocked our RV stuff with things that we think will be much better sellers. One of those items was a quality water pressure reducer to be used where you connect your hose to the campground water supply. Many campgrounds have excessive pressure (more than the RV might be able to handle) such as Shaw AFB which has something like 125 pounds. While most RVers use pressure reducers, most, including us, have a cheap $12-15 unit that, while it reduces the pressure, it also restricts the flow substantially. We ordered four of the quality reducers and have already sold three, including the one we bought ourselves. As an experiment, we had one of the people who bought one use the hose to fill a bucket of water. With the $15 reducer it took 48 seconds—with the $75 reducer it took 26 seconds (you can also adjust the pressure on the better unit while the pressure is fixed at 40-45 pounds in the cheaper one). We see and appreciate the greater flow, particularly in the shower.

It was probably last year that I read John Adams by David McCullough, after having read McCullough's 1776. They were both great books. I'm now reading John Adams, a two volume set by Page Smith. All that may have something to do with why, this past week, we visited the Adams National Historical Park in Quincy, just south of Boston. My sister came down from Portsmouth and went with us. Transportation was a snap. We again drove the car to Alewife Station (the west end of the "Red Line," where we took the train to Quincy Center, pretty near the opposite end of the line. Getting off the train, we merely walked down the street a short block to the National Park Office where we got our tickets and the National Park Service tour trolley took us to the two historical sites that comprise Adams National Historic Park—the houses(adjacent to each other) that were the birthplaces of John and John Quincy Adams, and the Old House at Peacefield where John and Abigail Adams were the first of four Adams generations to live. Returning to Bedford we had dinner at Cafe Luigi, and then went to Kimball Farms for ice cream—two great places to go. My sister could not finish either her dinner or her ice cream. She could not believe it!

About a week ago Sharyn suggested that perhaps I should lead a group bike ride; she thought there might be an interest in such a ride. We put signs up in the bathrooms and laundry room, and two days later the FamCamp's first group bike ride, six riders, rode to Lexington for a 3 minute description of what happened at Lexington Green on April 19, 1775 (the first shots of the American Revolution were fired), followed by coffee and whatever from either Starbucks or the place across the street. We all stood gathered on the sidewalk as we talked, drank our coffee, and ate the giant cinnamon twist that one guy had bought before returning to the FamCamp. Actually, as we got closer to the FamCamp, some riders split off and went different routes or places (some to a nearby bike shop). It was a good idea, a good ride, and everyone enjoyed it.

Now, two things entirely unrelated to any of the above. First, it was a year ago this past May that we, with Jordan, went to a wedding in Athens GA. Well the other day, the bride, a nursery school friend of Jordan's, and the daughter of our friends, Jim and Sheila, sent Jordan a picture that the wedding photographer had taken of Jordan and I dancing. It's a great picture, although the one posted below is merely a picture of the picture because, for reasons I don't understand, Jordan has never hooked up her scanner and was therefore relegated to the rather archaic system (I'll scan it when we get back to Virginia). Secondly, yesterday Jordan ran the University of Virginia four miler to help raise money for breast cancer research. She completed the race in 56:49, and the event raised $302,170 for the UVA Breast Center. See how she feels about it in her blog. As for me and Sharyn, we're quite proud of her!

The actual posting of this update will not happen until tomorrow because about four paragraphs someone knocked on our door to tell us that there was a gathering around the fire ring and they'd like us to join them. Unlike the pot lucks or ice cream social, this was a spontaneous happening. Two other things happened at the fire ring tonight. One lady called for and announced a pot luck for tomorrow night, and another lady announced that I was going to lead another bike ride tomorrow morning. Since that's the case, I suggested we meet in front of the office to decide where we want to ride to.


Granary Burying Ground (burial site of Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, and the victims of the Boston Massacre)

Samuel Adams gravestone

Faneuil Hall (Google it)

Pedestrian Mall near Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall

We had lunch at Cheers

Norm directed Sharyn to the ladies room

The Old State House (On March 5, 1770 the Boston Massacre took place in what is now the middle of this intersection. Six years later, on July 18, 1776, the people of Boston heard the Declaration of Independence read from this balcony.

Chips with his latest motorcycle (there is no context for this photo)

FamCampers boarding the bus to Tops in Blue

From Tops in Blue

Beauty and the Beast from Tops in Blue

Another from Tops in Blue

Ice cream social

Two of the ice cream eaters

Some more ice cream eaters

Col. Parish and family head back to the base

Our new bike rack (with all our loaner bikes)

FamCamp host takes a break

$75 regulator and $15 regulator

Sharyn and my sister try to by a "Charlie Pass" so we can get onto the Boston subway system

John Adams was born in this house

John and Abigail Adams home "Peacefield"

John Quincy Adams "fireproof library (located just to the left of the house at Peacefield)

We had a late lunch at this outdoor cafe before heading back to the FamCamp

The first group bike ride leaves the FamCamp

A father dances with his beautiful daughter

 

Odometer reading = 94,338
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

9/1/08 to 10/18/08
(Bedford MA)

Once again it's been quite a while since I've updated this so I'll just proceed as it comes to mind. First thing that comes to mind is that it's gotten cold, meaning it's getting near time to leave. This morning it was 37° and the high for the day was only in the mid 50's. Sharyn has noted that as the weather has gotten colder, the squirrels are still here, but all the chipmunks have disappeared! Anyway, the season ends October 31 at which time we'll once again be happily out of work!

In the meanwhile, the big event was when Jordan came up and spent a week with us. The three of us spent one day walking around Boston, one afternoon riding our bikes into Lexington for coffee, and Sharyn and Jordan spent one very long day shopping. One afternoon we drove up to Manchester NH to visit our grandson Scott who is in his second year of college and was getting ready to go home for what I guess was "fall break."

On another day we drove to the Samuel Adams Brewery to take the tour of their plant. Unfortunately, this brewery is their research facility where they experiment with new and different brews, etc., so it's a rather small operation. Also, the plant was nearly empty as everyone was in Denver for some kind of an awards presentation. While Sam Adams does very well in international beer competitions, they are really a very small operation (with several plants throughout the country). Their annual production is the same as what Anheuser-Busch produces—in one hour! After the tour we all went into the tasting room where we sampled three or four of their different brews (I preferred the Boston Lager). By the time we left, Sharyn's lifetime consumption of beer had doubled!

On Jordan's last day here my sister drove down from Portsmouth and the three of us had dinner at Luigi's, followed by ice cream at Bedford Farms. Other than that we pretty much just spent time together talking or doing rather ordinary things. All in all it was very nice!

Another event, one which we could have skipped over, happened about two weeks ago when our awning became the fourth awning in the FamCamp to be destroyed by the wind this summer. We were back at the motorhome having lunch when Sharyn asked me if the wind was supposed to pick up any more as the afternoon progressed. A few minutes after I said it was not supposed to we heard a tremendous rattling and banging around. I don't know what the sequence was, but within several seconds our awning had been ripped half way across, the attaching hardware was all bent up, and some of the mounting hardware pulled out of the side of the motorhome. Since the fabric was nine years old that in and of itself would not have been such a loss, but we really could have done without the other damage.

As the summer progressed things in the FamCamp continued to go well. Activities around the fire ring continued to occur, the group bike rides became a regular Friday morning event, and all in all I believe that everyone enjoyed themselves. In fact, we thoroughly enjoyed most of the campers who passed through here, a number of whom will be spending the winter at the FamCamp at MacDill AFB in Tampa and we've decided to join them there right after Christmas (I hope we can get in as MacDill is a very popular winter destination).

It seems that the people on the base are pleased with what we've been doing out here at the FamCamp as we were nominated for, and last week at the Quarterly Awards Breakfast we received the 66th Air Base Wing Quarterly Award for "Above and Beyond." That was very nice!

If it wasn't for the way the presidential election seems to be playing out, all would be well. Unfortunately, it appears that Obama may get to be the next president of the United States, and we're afraid that if that happens, with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid running Congress, America will no longer be what we have all known it to be in the past. We will become the North American version of a declining, socialized, leftist, pacifist Western Europe. As our friend Irene says, we should change the words on our money from "In God we Trust," to "God Help Us.!


Grouped around the fire ring

Some more of the group

The marshmallow cooker

Gathering for Friday morning's bike ride

Volleyball at the FamCamp

13 exposure panorama of St. John, Newfoundland that I did last summer

Our friend Charlie framed it for us as a gift and now it hangs in the motorhome

Sharyn in her garden

Scott back at school (after pizza)

Faneuil Hall in Boston (Google it again)

Meeting room upstairs in Faneuil Hall where between 1764 and 1774, Samuel Adams and others patriots lead cries of protest against the imposition of taxes on the colonies.

Jordan, a die hard Yankee fan, found Boston to be a strange place

The area around Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market

Paul Revere's house (the neighborhood has changed)

Paul Revere statue with the Old North Church in the background ["One if by land, two if by sea"]

Jordan and Sharyn in Italian deli in Boston's North End

Waiting for the "T" (Boston's subway)

It was Jordan's first subway ride but she didn't think it warranted a photograph

Our Samuel Adams tour group

The tasting room

Sharyn and Jordan "tasting"

Some guys wear their pants low, but this . . .?

As the season winds down we have plenty of empty sites

Chips puts the tables away for the winter

Unrelated to everything else, our son Phil just emailed us this photo (via his Palm Treo mobile) from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia a few minutes after getting this deer. Nice buck and cool technology


Odometer reading = 94,338
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

10/19/08 to 11/6/08
(Bedford MA)

Well the summer season has officially come to an end. The campers, or RVers, are pretty much gone. Of course the "Homesteaders" are still here and will be here throughout the winter. There are about a dozen of them, some of whom have been here for years.

With the departure of the campers the wild turkeys that were here in April have come back out of the woods and are again wandering through the FamCamp. This time, as opposed to last spring, they pretty much hung around for the afternoon and were pretty unconcerned about my taking their pictures. Actually, when I stopped shooting it was because I had plenty pictures.

The FamCamp closed on Friday October 31 and we were prepared to lock everything up at 5:30. However, midmorning we got a phone call telling us to lock it up at noon, that there was a pizza party at Outdoor Rec at noon. It turned out that that was to celebrate what was seen as the great job we had done with the FamCamp this summer, complete with our bosses, their bosses, etc. We were surprised, and certainly pleased, but it seems that merely doing one's job, even doing it well, should be the norm—the expected. Apparently that has not always been the experience at the FamCamp. Anyway, we were very pleased with the whole affair, and in fact, the entire summer. We enjoyed it all and look forward to returning here next April.

Since we closed we have had a great deal more free time than we had during the summer, and that was nice. One day we went to the Burlington Mall, about four miles from the FamCamp, where we spent several hours walking around and ended up having an excellent, if not inexpensive, dinner at Legal Seafood. Several days ago my sister came to visit one last time before we head south. We all went to The Outback Steakhouse where we really ate too much—possibly to the point of regret.

Tomorrow morning we'll be pulling out of here and heading back to Virginia to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with three of our four kids. Having been here for about seven months, the longest time we have stayed still since we pulled out of that Charlottesville driveway on February 25, 2000, we assume the motorhome will start and that we have an uneventful departure.


Our grandson Scott was a real McCain supporter (he's the "C")

As everything slows down I even get to sit in the office

Chips brings in the picnic tables

FamCamp staff; Chips, Sharyn, me

Pizza party at Outdoor Rec

The turkeys return to the FamCamp

Including "Big Tom"

. . . and make themselves at home

An F/A-18 Hornet takes of from Hanscom right by the FamCamp

End of the Summer


Odometer reading = 94,338
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

11/7/08 through 11/9/08
(Boonton NJ)

It was probably mid-morning that after topping off our propane tank we drove over to the base to top off the fuel tank and say good-bye to the people at Outdoor Rec. We then headed south to visit Harry and Irene, our good friends in Jersey. It was a nice visit and we hope to see then again in February when they visit us in Tampa.

Odometer reading = 94,583
Miles for day = 245

 

 

 

11/10/08
(Louisa VA)

Having extended our stay with Harry and Irene by one day more than originally planned, it was still 11:am before we got underway this morning. When we left we did not know if we'd do the trip in one or two days. It gets dark pretty early and I'm no longer crazy about driving at night. Also, Sharyn does not like I-95, which we usually travel when going up or down the East Coast, so this time we had decided to take US-301 instead and didn't know what that would do to our travel time. As it turned out 301 was a much more pleasant drive than the Interstate and took very little longer (if any longer at all) than I-95. With a few short stops along the way we didn't arrive at Jordan's until almost 8:pm.

It was a good trip and we plan on staying here until Christmas.

Odometer reading = 94,959
Miles for day = 375

 

 

 

11/11/08 to 12/28/08
(Louisa VA)

In spite of the fact that we've now been "camped" here in Jordan's yard for quite some time, there still isn't too much to say that would be of any interest to those outside of the family (and "family" probably doesn't want too much of it said).

Anyway, the first thing that we got to do was see Jordan's new bike that we'd been hearing about all summer. She's been telling us how much she loved this bike, and I have to say it really is quite nice. That's not surprising since it cost more than my and Sharyn's bikes together

The most frequent activity engaged in was, of course, shopping. This was pretty much Jordan and Sharyn who had many, many, "mother-daughter" shopping excursions. Jordan works four 10 hour days so every weekend is a three day weekend—lots of time for shopping! As for me, I did it all on line. Can't beat it—click the mouse and 48 hours later a nice man in a brown truck knocks on the door and says, "Here's your package." What's not to like about that?

The next most popular activity was cooking and baking, and again that was Sharyn and Jordan turning out more food and deserts than we could eat. At one point we had over half a dozen different deserts sitting about which tends to make one eat continuously throughout the day. My personal favorites were the pumpkin pie, pumpkin roll, and mincemeat bars, (in that order) all made from scratch. This all culminated with Christmas and Christmas dinner when everyone got lots of stuff; pretty much everything they wanted (Sharyn and I gave ourselves a 26" flat screen TV), and then proceed to eat way to much.

The problem with so much good food (Sharyn is the best cook I've ever known) is that one tends to get larger. When we arrived at Hanscom AFB last spring I was 180 pounds. Between Bedford Farms ice cream and Kimball Farms ice cream, Thanksgiving, and now Christmas, I have reached 196 pounds and sure do feel the difference! Very not good! My goal is now to get back to 180 by the time we arrive back at Hanscom in April

A few weeks ago Phil and some of his friends went goose hunting and got a whole slew of geese. He said that the best part was probably watching the dogs work. As he described it, those dogs seem to be better trained, and listen better, than any kid you'll meet today. I thought that we should have a Christmas goose instead of the usual Christmas turkey, but when I suggested that I got a resounding NO from Sharyn—and, of course, Sharyn rules! (For those that might be upset that they shot more geese than they could use, you should know that there were anxious takers for all the extras.)

The only drawback to our time here was the cold. I don't do well with the cold and there was plenty of that. In fact, on two night when the temperature went down to around 12° we woke up in the morning to find that we had no water. While I had small thermostatically controlled electric heaters by both the water pump and the water tanks, something somewhere had frozen up. I was both times relieved when the water again began to flow and we did not have any broken lines, etc.

I have said many times in this travelog that our plans are never firm until after the event. That's still the reality! Since leaving Hanscom it has been our plan to go to the FamCamp at MacDill AFB in Tampa for the winter. However, now that we are leaving here in the morning we're not sure whether we are going to go there or the FamCamp at Shaw AFB in South Carolina. I guess we'll know when we arrive.

 

"Camped" in Jordan's driveway

Jordan with her new bike (a Fuji Finest 2.0)

Sharyn and Jordan at work in the kitchen

Phil and friends with 28 geese (and one duck)

Jordan in the cookie factory

Shane takes orders for Christmas breakfast

Sharyn preparing dinner

Sharyn wanted a "non-posed" picture of Shane and Jordan

Shane cuts the turkey

Dinner's over

Sharyn & me

Santa Jordan

Our flat screen TV "installed" in the motorhome

 

Odometer reading = 94,959
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

12/29/08
(Savannah GA)

At 8:45 this morning we pulled out of Jordan's driveway, headed south, destination still unknown. We really lucked out on the weather as it was a beautiful sunny day (no rain). Before getting onto I-95 we stopped and topped off the gas tank in Short Pump were we have always found gas to be the cheapest—this time we paid $1.43—probably the best price we've seen in almost 5 years!

We made but few stops along the way, passing by the exit we would have taken to go to Shaw AFB. Eventually, some eleven hours after our departure, we exited at a Walmart in Savannah to spend the night. This particular Walmart's parking lot had signs prohibiting overnight parking of RVs so we, along with about 30 other people parked next door by Home Depot.


Southbound rest area on I-95 is monopolized by RVs

Some of the RVs spending the night at Home Depot in Savannah


Odometer reading = 95,476
Miles for day = 517

 

 

 

12/30/08
(King's Bay GA)

At one point during the summer we had talked about spending time at the FamCamp at King's Bay Submarine base which is all brand new and supposed to be very nice. Since Savannah is only 100 miles north of King's Bay we decided that we'd stop there for the day. That would give us the opportunity to check it out and see if if it was someplace that we'd like to spend some time in the future. It is very nice. The sites are large, individually landscaped, each has a large concrete pad, full hookups, etc. There is also a large community center for the campers complete with kitchen facilities, lounge area, and free washers and dryers. Unfortunately, due to extreme dumbness I have no photos.


Odometer reading = 95,600
Miles for day = 124

 

 

 

12/31/08
(Apollo Beach FL)

We arrived at Diana and Carl's early afternoon where we again parked in their driveway. The ladder on the back of the motorhome sticks out into the street, but since it's a dead end residential street it didn't really matter. Diana is Sharyn's cousin and this was basically a small family gathering/New Years Eve party that everyone enjoyed. Sharyn and I even stayed up late!


Dinner and conversation


Odometer reading = 95,849
Miles for day = 248

 

 

To see a secret message for all our faithful readers, click and drag your mouse across the box.

Happy New Year!

 

 

 

Skip ahead to January 1, 2009

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Complete Travelog February 2000 through last December
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