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  • Karen and Homeless?

    One of the downsides of living full time in your RV is when the coach goes into the factory or dealership for repairs or servicing...where do you live? Most travelers will stay in a hotel or rent an AirBnB for the duration but if you have family or friends near to the servicing location, you might be able to mooch a room with them. Lucky for us, Richard and Nancy Swain, friends from Florida, have a second home about two hours driving time from Elkhart in Hastings, MI. They are both in the Hastings home for the summer and have graciously invited us to stay with them while Trinity is being repaired. We jumped at the opportunity because Karen and Nancy have been friends for years and our circumstance has created a great chance to get together for an extended visit. Unfortunately, Richard is still working so I am finding things to do while Karen and Nancy catch up on some quality girl time. The girls are working out downstairs in the mornings so I move upstairs to eat breakfast while I catch up on emails and do blog writing. I have signed up to do an on-line Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED course to renew my certification and will try to get to the Gilmore Car Museum while they do their thing. So far we have planned a Friday night dinner out with the Swain's and the True's. Jay and Elaine True live in Holland, MI, and are old friends from Redwood Covenant Church days in Santa Rosa, CA who moved to Michigan some years ago. A discussion about taking in a Detroit Tiger baseball game on Saturday is also in the works. So as you can see, we are keeping occupied both physically and mentally. I spoke with Tristen, our point of contact at Alliance RV today and their conservative estimate for completing repairs looks like Monday, June 19. Semper Gumby time! That said, I've arranged to text him this coming Friday the 9th to check on the rig's status. In the event Trinity won't be ready by Wednesday, June 14, we will need to start cancelling some campground reservations and route plans. We still have some time and wiggle room in our travel schedule. We're hoping by this Friday we'll have a better idea of when we might be able to pick up Trinity.

  • It's Back to the Factory

    As many of you know, Trinity, our Avenue 32RLS built by Alliance RV Company has had a rough year since we departed Sonoma County in May of 2022. A number of the repairs were addressed at our first Ally Rally last year, but some of the major issues didn't appear until last November and more has happened through this last month. That said, if you're not an RV'er it is sometimes difficult to understand why so many RV'ers frequently deal with breakdowns and repairs. Well, the simplest analogy boils down to this: every time you move an RV, you are putting the structure, all its contents and complex systems under "earthquake conditions". The more you travel, the more you experience a variety of unfavorable road conditions for extended periods of time. It is a reality many people don't understand and often is considered a negative for living this lifestyle full-time. Every Alliance RV is generously backed with a 3-year limited structural and 1-year limited base warranty. Over our year and a half in this new life we have had nothing but positive experiences with Alliance RV customer service. We can say that Alliance RV has proven to live up to their company values: • Relentless Improvement (dedicated to a higher standard) • Devoted to Relationships (serve everyone with respect through open and honest communication) • Customer Obsessed (to enhance the experience with our Allies) True to form, Alliance customer service scheduled us for an appointment at 10 AM on Monday, June 5 to drop off Trinity for the problem areas to be repaired at the Alliance Avenue RV Campus facility. We have been in the capable hands of Jim Bonacci, Customer Service "Hotshot", and as we approached our scheduled date we got to meet Tristen Singleton, Production Service Manager on Wednesday at the 2023 Rally event. He came by to get "eyes on" the issues and we're confident he will take good care of us. So, Trinity is going back home to get fine tuned. Using a naval metaphor; she has had her "shakedown" cruise and is going into dry dock for some much needed repairs. We arrived at the factory on Monday after prepping the unit for the repair process. Preparations included: emptied the refrigerator, fresh water tank and gray/black tanks; shut off the propane tanks and removed our personal belonging for our week away. We met up with Tristen and were introduced to Carl who will be the lead service technician for Trinity. We did a walk through to get Carl up to speed on our coach's issues. On Tuesday, we will receive a phone call with a date when they anticipate all work will be completed. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers. Hopefully by Friday, June 9, Karen and I (keeping with the nautical theme) will be able to set sail again on our great adventure to discover America!

  • We Are FamAlly!

    We arrived at the Elkhart County Fairgrounds Monday, May 29, two days prior to the 2023 Alliance Owner's Rally to get settled in before the official Wednesday start. And much to our surprise, the fairground venue was already buzzing with activity. Approximately 85% of the Rally attendees had shown up already! When we talked to many of them, they told us that Sunday was crazy busy, so I'm glad we scheduled our arrival on Monday afternoon instead. Our first scheduled item upon arrival was to get the truck and trailer weighed; this only took about 15 minutes. From the weighing station, we drove to the check-in area and were escorted to our site in the northeast area of the fairgrounds. The site was on grass and quite spacious compared to some other full hookup areas. We had 30 amp electrical and water but no sewer, which is never a problem for our rig's capacity. We were parked between Sean and Kathy from Erie, PA and Mike and Maggie from Indiana; two lovely couples who we would see and occasionally hang out with over the next 5 days. Even though the Rally didn't officially kick off until Wednesday morning, the playful spirit of this RV community was evident throughout the fairground. There were RV's parked side by side as far as the eye could see, We saw E-bikes, golf carts, flags and banners flying along with many rigs circled with clusters of folding camping chairs around fire pits. We heard and observed groups of gathered friends and acquaintances in happy conversation with laughter filling the air throughout the energized fairground setting. The anticipation was electric as "Allies" got ready for the 2023 Alliance Rally. On Tuesday afternoon Karen and I picked up our welcome bag full of "goodies" and had a light lunch of pulled pork sliders and "Texas style" margaritas courtesy of a group of Texas! Wednesday morning we headed to the main event building for the first breakfast. Upon entry into the building it became clearly visible just how popular the Ally Rally has become as we looked for a table; ots of people from one end of this massive building to the other. According to Alliance hosting staff, 288 RV's were on the property with 600 registered attendees at this Rally event. For the next three days we attended owner empowerment workshops, shopped for RV items we didn't need, ate some great catered meals and hung out with old and new friends. We met Dave and Donna from Cape Cod, Mass and connected again with Brad and Bonnie from Battle Creek, MI. Friday night was the "Hawaiian" themed potluck dinner. We had enough food to feed three times the number of attendees. During dinner the two team finalists competed in the corn hole competition on the stage. Following dinner, the Alliance staff announced that this years attendees helped raise over $16,000 for the Elkhart County Boys and Girls Club during the silent auction event. The evening ended with the rally raffle numbers being pulled including Karen's raffle ticket and she won a Magic Bullet personal kitchen I guess I'm off the hook! Finally, a big shout out and thanks to the Alliance RV team! The company management, customer service, factory and maintenance staffers who put on this complex and comprehensive event treated us well. While we were all having a great time eating, drinking and making merriment, an army of trucks and golf carts from the service team ran from one RV to the next addressing equipment problems, large and small, to one and all in attendance. Alliance RV staffers YOU ROCK! You really live up to the company motto, "We do the right thing".

  • Ally Rally and Repairs in Indiana

    We departed Georgetown, Kentucky on Friday, May 26 and drove 329 miles to Elkhart, Indiana for the Memorial weekend. It was a long day of driving, not the typical distance we travel, and it took over six hours to get to the Elkhart Campground. This would be the staging location with many other Alliance RV owners prior to the rally event and our home for the three day holiday weekend. Monday, May 29 is when we check-in at the Elkhart County Fairgrounds just 19 miles away. This is the annual national Ally Rally venue where Alliance owners (Allies) from all across the US and Canada gather to rally around the brand. Allies, as we are called by the company, are able to meet and make friends with other Allies, share RV travel adventures and compare various aspects of our Alliance RVs. We attended our first rally in May 2022 and found it a great opportunity to learn more about our RV and how to maintain it, as well as meet fellow travelers. At the rally, Allies have opportunities to do crafts and play games, attend catered meals with live music provided by the company and, best of all, the company provides a small army of technicians to do complimentary minor service work during the event. We will have opportunities to meet the founders and other key employees of Alliance RV as well as learn about the state of the industry, the state of Alliance RV and what they feel the future holds. This and much more all happens over a 3-day period. We enjoyed our Rally experience last year and attempted to sign up the first day of registration. When we logged on, the event was completely booked! Fortunately, after being on a waiting list for a few hours, we were able to register. Alliance is anticipating over 300 RV's units and 600+ Allies at this year's event. While at the rally, we've scheduled to get the trailer and truck weighed to make sure we are within our safety limits. We may even get the rig washed professionally while there. After the rally, we'll drive our rig to the Alliance factory in Elkhart for some much needed major repairs that have been chronicled on our blog. These will include repairs to the rear RV exterior/interior wall, the cracked fresh water tank and bedroom Schwintek slide motor assembly. We're hoping some of the minor issues can be addressed at the 3 day rally to expedite the process. Our "punch list" has about 14 items to get repaired. Alliance has scheduled our rig to be in the repair facility for five days, from June 5 to June 9. We have to move out of the trailer during the repair period and plan on staying with our good friends, Dick and Nancy Swain, who have a home in Hastings, Michigan about an hour and a half away from Elkhart. We're hoping and praying that all the repairs can be accomplished in one week so we can make it to Vermont in time for Karen's cousin Elizabeth's wedding on Saturday, June 17.

  • Slugger Museum plus Day at the Races

    After visiting the Kentucky Horse Park, Karen and I discussed driving to Louisville to go to Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, to go to the races on Thursday, May 25. It would be a bit of a drive from Georgetown but we decided to get an early start and hit two venues in one day. Our first stop was downtown Louisville Main Street to see the Hillerich & Bradsby Museum & Factory, the maker of Louisville Slugger baseball bats . This H&B facility is the fourth location where Louisville Slugger bats have been made. The original shop was on South First Street in Louisville between Main and Market Streets. It was there that family legend suggests J. A. "Bud" Hillerich made a bat for Louisville Eclipse star Pete Browning after Browning broke his bat during a game in which Hillerich attended in July 1884. The next day, Browning got three hits with the bat and the legend was born. The museum showcases the story of Louisville Slugger baseball bats in baseball and in American history. The tour of the Louisville Slugger bat factory consists of five stops showing how the famous bats are made. Our tour took about 30 minutes and at its conclusion we received a complimentary mini-bat. Approximately 75% of pro bats are made from maple wood, 20% are made from birch, and 5% are made from northern white ash. The best timber comes from parts of Pennsylvania, New York, and other northeastern states where the terrain and climate are most favorable to its growth. The company's harvesting plan includes re-forestation, so the company plants more trees than they cut down. A single tree, which grows for 60 years, generally produces about 30 or 40 bats. But not all those bats will make it to the Major Leagues. Not even close. Louisville Slugger holds the designation of 'Official Baseball Bat of Major League Baseball'. Their bats are the second-most used among Major League Baseball players with 18% of all players choosing a Slugger. While touring the museum I got to hold a piece of baseball history - a Babe Ruth bat model R43 at 36 inches and weighing 42.5 ounces. This is heavy by today's standards but not the heaviest. Hall of Famer Edd Roush holds the distinction as the player who used the heaviest bat in MLB history. Roush, who debuted with the Chicago White Sox in 1913, used a 48-ounce behemoth. From baseball we then visited another "place of champions"; Churchill Downs, the home of the Kentucky Derby. We arrived just in time to park and walk to the entrance gate as they opened. The first race was scheduled for 5 PM so we had an hour to walk around and even get a personal explanation of the racing form. Karen had been to Thoroughbred horse races growing up with her family; I, however, was a total neophyte and had plenty to learn. We decided to place a couple of $5 bets on the first race. I learned that the racing form provides lots of information to factor the many variables necessary to place a reasonable wager. Out of an 8 race day, we stayed for 6 races and won money in five out of six races! We even left with $20 more than we wagered. Karen shared many memories of her going to the race track with her family. I had a great time seeing her get so excited as the horses raced for the finish line. It was a great experience and we would love to do it again; maybe another Triple Crown venue later in our travels at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York or Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland.

  • Museum Dedicated to the Horse

    Not far from our campground in Georgetown is the Kentucky Horse Park and Museum. We took Wednesday, May 24 to visit this working horse farm, international equestrian competition venue, and an educational theme park opened in 1978 in Lexington, Kentucky. The stated mission of the Park has been to celebrate our relationship with the horse through education, exhibition, engagement and competition. Owned and operated by the Commonwealth of Kentucky, each year they welcome over 500,000 visitors from around the world. As we walked the beautiful grounds we visited the International Museum of the Horse (IMH), a Smithsonian Affiliate, which examines the role of horses throughout world history, from ancient times to today’s most popular sporting events. In addition to permanent and featured exhibits, the IMH exhibits a collection of equine art from artists around the world. The excitement of the racetrack is brought to life by the elite group of champion horses that reside at the park's Hall of Champions. Thoroughbred legends Funny Cide and Point Given are current residents of the Hall of Champions. Winner of the 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, Funny Cide earned the nickname “Gutsy Gelding” as he achieved a number of firsts to become the “people’s horse.” Sent off at odds of nearly 13-1, Funny Cide scored a decisive win in the 2003 Kentucky Derby, defeating the royally bred favorite Empire Maker. He became the first New York-bred in history to wear the blanket of roses. Two weeks later, in the Preakness Stakes, he proved the Derby was no fluke, winning the second jewel of the Triple Crown by over 9 lengths. Funny Cide became the 30th horse in history to win the first two legs of the Triple Crown The Belmont Stakes brought Funny Cide home to New York. In torrential rain, a record crowd of over 100,000 fans greeted the hometown hero. However, the fairy tale ending was not to be. Funny Cide battled through the long stretch to finish third in the Belmont Stakes, losing the race, and the Triple Crown, by only 5 lengths. Point Given was the first Thoroughbred in history to win four consecutive million-dollar races. Massive, powerful, consistent, determined, and sometimes hard to handle, Point Given showed early on that he had speed and stamina: two essential elements for a horse vying for the Triple Crown. “POINT GIVEN IS A CROSS BETWEEN AN EATING MACHINE AND A LOCOMOTIVE.” BOB BAFFERT, TRAINER OF POINT GIVEN. The Big Red Train began his three-year-old season as expected, with easy victories in Derby prep races, making him the horse to watch in the upcoming Triple Crown races. Point Given entered the Churchill Downs starting gate as the 9-5 favorite. He tracked the leaders while chasing a blistering pace, but weakened in the Derby stretch, finishing a disappointing fifth. His fifth-place finish in the 2001 Derby was the only off-the-board finish in his entire career. The “real” Point Given showed up in the Preakness Stakes, where he took command early to win easily. Five weeks later, his stretch run in the Belmont Stakes brought back memories of another stellar chestnut: Secretariat. Point Given trounced the competition in the Belmont Stakes, winning by more than 12 lengths. On our way way back to the parking lot we stopped by the burial site of the great Man o' War, the most famous Thoroughbred race horse of the 20th century, buried at the park in a memorial with a statue dedicated to his life. Buried with him are some of his offspring, including Triple Crown winner War Admiral, who was upset by Seabiscuit in their famous match race in 1938. It was fun to see Karen in her "Happy Place" and I enjoyed learning more about this very complex subject and elaborate history of the horse. The relationship between these beautiful creatures and humans is truly an amazing story.

  • The ARK Encounter

    Ark Encounter features a full-size Noah’s Ark, built according to the dimensions given in the Bible. Spanning 510 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 51 feet high, this modern engineering marvel amazes visitors young and old. Ark Encounter is situated in beautiful Grant County in Williamstown, Kentucky, halfway between Cincinnati and Lexington and right off I-75. Here's some information I found as we toured this remarkable exhibit. "As you enter Noah’s world aboard the massive Ark, you’ll tour three decks filled with scores of world-class exhibit bays. These stunning exhibits allow you to experience what Noah’s life may have been like." "The Bible says that God told Noah to take two of every kind of animal on the ark and seven pairs of the clean animals and flying creatures." "Does this mean every species was on the ark? No. Species is a term used in the modern classification system. The Bible uses the term “kind.” The created kind was a much broader category than the modern classification term, species. The biblical concept of created “kind” probably most closely corresponds to the family level in the current taxonomy. A good rule of thumb is that if two things can breed together, they are of the same created kind. It is a bit more complicated, but this is a good quick measure of a “kind.” There can be a tremendous amount of variation within a created kind. For example, various types of dogs, such as wolves, dingoes, coyotes, jackals, and domestic dogs, can often breed with one another. When dogs breed together, you get dogs—so there is a dog kind. "Recent studies estimate the total number of living and extinct kinds of land animals and flying creatures to be 1,398. With our “worst-case” scenario approach to calculating the number of animals on the ark, this would mean that Noah cared for 6,744 animals." In addition to the ARK exhibit, we attended three presentations in the "Answer Center". The 'Building of the Ark Encounter' was about the genesis of the project idea and how it was eventually constructed over a two year period. The second live presentation was with Patricia Engler, 'How to Think About “Facts” that Challenge Your Faith'. Patricia Engler serves as a speaker and author for Answers in Genesis on the subject of apologetics. The last dramatic presentation was an all-student ensemble cast from Bob Jones University presenting the Peter and Georgi Vins story of Russian persecution, imprisonment, and hope. Live and computer-generated characters interact against a spectacular 70-foot LED backdrop. Is Jesus more precious than the approval of any government? This true-life father-son story inspired both of us to hold fast to our faith—no matter the cost.

  • Karen's Old Kentucky Homecoming

    As we stay for 5 days at Whispering Hills RV Park in Georgetown, Kentucky, we’re discovering many fun things to do in the area. On Monday May 22, after driving through quaint Georgetown and taking care of some errands, we drove the 21 miles to Cynthiana, KY. This was the community my (Karen’s) Dad’s family came from back in the 1800’s. Recently, I’ve starting putting together a Hilen family tree to connect the dots of family names. It was so fun to see this beautiful town and experience the historical significance to my family. My great-grandfather, Basil Edward Hilen married Mattie Webb Waits in 1889 after his first wife passed away, leaving 7 children. Basil and Mattie went on to have another 5 children, including my grandfather Charles Osborne Hilen. With the amazing help from cousin Lynne Cunningham in Baltimore, I was able to find the Indian Creek Christian Church located at 51 Waits Road. We believe the Waits family homestead was on this property; I even found a very old stone fireplace on the property that was covered in ivy and surrounded by huge trees. The cemetery adjacent to the church contains the gravestones from many of the Waits family. Pastor Adam of Indian Creek Church was so gracious and helpful sharing the history of the 200 year old congregation (circa 1803), and showing me the many beautiful stained glass windows, including one in memory of Mattie’s parents, Charles M. & Mary Ellen Waits. There was another cemetery across the street at the Indian Creek Baptist Church where I found additional Webb gravestones. However, I found no Hilen gravestones in either location. Perhaps there are Hilens buried in a different cemetery in town? I believe Basil and Mattie Hilen moved to Everett, Washington in 1903. The sleuthing will continue another time! It was a very fulfilling day, making me thankful for a rich heritage. I would have never thought you would find me traipsing through a cemetery reading all the headstones, but it was a successful and fun mission!

  • Thank God for our Guardian Angels

    Friday, May 19 we traversed from Virginia to West Virginia. The four hour plus journey west took us through the Shenandoah Valley with the Blue Ridge Mountains to the south and the Allegheny Mountains to the north. The scenery was a wonder to behold. I can only image what it looks like in the fall. This time of the year everything is various shades of green. With one stop to fuel up and do some last minute shopping, we arrived at the Peaceful Valley Assembly of God church parking lot to find we had company. Another trailer was also using this Harvest Host provider for overnight parking. We set up and went to visit our neighbors Tom and Terri from Colorado Springs. They are also on their way to the Ark Encounter in Kentucky; maybe we'll run into them again! While setting up, I realized I had completely drained our fresh water tank before traveling. Fortunately, I had 3 hoses so I could reach the church water spigot. I filled the tank 2/3 full so we would be able to use our water pump for things like the toilet and dishwashing. We went to bed that night with plans to travel the next day only one and 1/2 hours to Camp Creek State Park with plans to stay there for two days. Saturday morning we're packing up to leave. One of the last things we do is bring in the three slides on the trailer. Well, guess what? One of our slides, the bedroom slide won't retract. Oh boy, okay, now what do we do? It's Saturday; Alliance's customer service isn't open so we go online to YouTube. We discover that there is a slide controller under the slide in the storage bay. It is flashing two green LED lights and 8 red LED lights. This is the code for Motor #2 which has a electrical short. GREAT! Okay, "Houston we have a problem...again!" I won't bore you with the details but the work around, according to our RV Tech buddy Scott Shackelford in Tucson, was to remove motor #2 and manually push the slide side in while Karen activates the slide button inside the trailer to actuate motor #1 at the same time. This whole event took all day Saturday; so we canceled our reservations at Camp Creek, took a rain check with our friends we had dinner plans with, and called the pastor of the church to get permission to stay another night. Everything worked out and we now have one more repair to add to our Alliance repair appointment on June 5th. Getting the slide in Sunday morning was a challenge but doable. It only goes in a couple of inches at a time, but we had success and then used my camera monopod to keep pressure between the interior wall and the slide molding so it wouldn't open while driving down the road. Thankfully, Scott informed us about this precaution. I went to our Trip Wizard App and found a lovely RV park in Georgetown, Kentucky about 4 and a half hour drive that we were able to book for 5 days; Sunday, May 21 through Friday, May 26. We're hoping we can extend for 3 more days through the Memorial weekend if another family makes a last minute cancellation. We are praying and crossing our fingers, so please do the same. Thank God for Scott and Holly back in Tucson; they once again came through as our guardian angels when we needed help on the road. Thank you, thank you...thank you!

  • Thomas Jefferson's "Little Mountain"

    Monticello was the primary plantation of Thomas Jefferson, a Founding Father and the third president of the United States, who began designing Monticello after inheriting land from his father at age 14. Located just outside Charlottesville, Virginia, in the Piedmont region, the plantation was originally 5,000 acres with Jefferson using the labor of African slaves for extensive cultivation of tobacco and mixed crops, later shifting from tobacco cultivation to wheat in response to changing markets. Due to its architectural and historic significance, the property has been designated a National Historic Landmark. While staying at the Powhatan State Park we traveled about an hour northwest to visit this National Historical Landmark on Thursday, May 18. We purchased tickets for the highlight tour which included a 45 minute guided tour of the interior of Jefferson's home and a separate guided tour of the gardens. Prior to our tour we were lucky enough to catch a gentleman portraying President Jefferson, circa 1823 in conversation with some of the visitors. It was a fascinating experience. We learned that Jefferson designed the main house using neoclassical design principles and reworked the design for 40 years, through much of his presidency to include design elements popular in late 18th-century Europe and integrating numerous ideas of his own. Situated on the summit of an 850 ft high peak in the Southwest Mountains south of the Rivanna Gap, the name Monticello derives from Italian meaning "little mountain". Along a prominent lane adjacent to the house called Mulberry Row, the plantation came to include numerous outbuildings for specialized functions, e.g., a nailery, quarters for slaves who worked in the home, gardens for flowers, produce, and Jefferson's experiments in plant breeding—along with tobacco fields and mixed crops. Cabins for slaves who worked in the fields were located farther from the mansion. Thomas Jefferson was accomplished in many areas but his lavish lifestyle left him in tremendous debt at the end of his life. After Jefferson's death, his daughter Martha Jefferson Randolph, sold Monticello for $7,500. She sold the entire property except for the small family graveyard which still belongs to the family. In 1834, it was bought by Uriah P. Levy, a commodore in the U.S. Navy for $2,500, who admired Jefferson and spent his own money to preserve the property. His nephew Jefferson Monroe Levy took over the property in 1879; he also invested considerable money to restore and preserve it. In 1923, Monroe Levy sold it to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation (TJF) for $500,000, which operates it as a house museum and educational institution to this day. After a wonderful day-long sightseeing adventure we returned to Powhatan State Park for the night. Most sites are shady and long enough for most rigs. We really enjoyed our campsite #7. I think our pull-through site must have been over 100 feet long. Check the website for more information. Silly me, I neglected to take any photos while here. Electric and water only utilities were near the rear of our site. The dump station has 4 drains and is easy to maneuver. Nice hosts, park staff and fellow campers. We were in no rush leaving this park because check out time was 1 PM! This RV campground is a definite do-over when in the area. Friday, May 19 we departed at noon and drove to Walmart in Waynesboro, VA for supplies and a lunch break before driving the remainder of our route to the Peaceful Valley Assembly of God Church in Maxwelton, West Virginia. This leg took the entire afternoon and we didn't arrive until 4:45 PM. We found the location on our Harvest Host membership link. The church provides a large, level parking site for boon docking over night and we provide them a small donation for the convenience. Tomorrow we drive about an hour and a half to Camp Creek State Park, WV for two nights. We are hoping to see Matthew and Ana Schaetzle, friends from Kona, Hawaii, who now live in Bluefield, WV.

  • Leaving the Beach for the Mountains

    Today is our last day in Virginia Beach so we had lunch with the Clements' to say our "goodbyes". We spent some quality time and Karen really got to know these two special people from my past. Virginia Beach has been a great place to hang out and visit. We still need to get to the many sights we missed. We look forward to seeing them again when we return south in the Fall. This afternoon, we then started getting the trailer rigged for travel. All the outside chairs are stowed and the electric bikes are back on their travel rack. Tomorrow we will hook up to the truck, finish cleaning and stowing the inside gear before bringing in all the slides. We need to dump all our tanks and check our tire pressure before we hit the road. On the next leg of our adventures we depart Virginia Beach headed northwest towards Richmond, VA on Interstate 64 and our eventual camping destination at Powhatan State Park, VA. Powhatan State Park is only 341 feet above sea level in the northwest corner of Powhatan County on the historic James River and is about two and a half hours away, so not a long driving day ahead of us. Our two day stay at this particular campground will put us strategically between Richmond, VA and about an hour southeast of Charlottesville, VA. Richmond, the capital of Virginia, is among America’s oldest major cities. Patrick Henry, a U.S. Founding Father, famously declared “Give me liberty or give me death” at its St. John's Church in 1775, leading to the Revolutionary War. The White House of the Confederacy, home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis during the Civil War, is now a museum in Court End, a neighborhood known for Federal-style mansions. Charlottesville is home to the University of Virginia, with its core campus designed by Thomas Jefferson. On the outskirts, Jefferson’s mountain-top plantation, Monticello, includes a mansion and rebuilt slave quarters. Also in Charlottesville is President James Monroe’s home, Highland, retains many original furnishings. The city is a gateway to Shenandoah National Park, along a section of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Let see what awaits us as we journey towards the Appalachian Mountains!

  • Life's a Beach

    Virginia Beach, Virginia to be exact. We arrived on Sunday, May 7 for a ten day respite and visit with my old Navy roommate and his family. John Clements and I were stationed together at Navfac Adak, Alaska in 1973-74 and again at Navfac Centerville Beach, California in 1975-76. We lived next door in a duplex in Ferndale, California and went to school together at College of the Redwood to study radio and television production. I went on from radio to photography and he pursued a career in television. He is still working in that field as a Production Supervisor for CBN here in Virginia Beach hoping to retire in September. He and Ellen came over Sunday night for dinner and we got caught up on life. It was a wonderful visit and a great start to our stay in the Holiday Trav-L-Park RV campground. The Holiday Trav-L-Park a huge resort facility with over 1000 sites with hook-ups not far from the Oceana Naval Air Station. The park has 4 large pools located throughout the campground and a miniature golf course with 18 challenging holes. Plenty of things to do nearby and close enough to the beach to ride our bikes. Our first two nights we stayed at site #531 with full hook-ups. We planned on moving to the RV park at Fort Story on Tuesday, May 9 but ran into problems with base access, so I cancelled that reservation and extended our stay at Trav-L-Park. We moved to an electric/water only site #525 in the rear of the complex. This site is huge, in the trees and remote from traffic. Our nearest neighbor is three sites away so we feel like we are in the woods almost alone. Since Tuesday we've been seeing the local sights with John and Ellen. Wednesday they took us to the Norfolk Botanical Gardens and we enjoyed a beautiful walk and good conversation. On Thursday, May 11 Karen and I took a bike ride down General Booth Drive to the Virginia Beach boardwalk. This is a spacious walkway between the hotels and the Atlantic Ocean with designated bike lanes to travel the entire 6 miles along the oceanfront. We had lunch at one of the many restaurants then rode back to the campground. After the 12 mile excursion we both rested, read and I took a nap in my new hammock. We chilled in our campsite and enjoy a quiet setting punctuated with periodic interruptions by F-18 flights out of Oceana Naval Air Station.

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