Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Relaxed Drive, a Slow Time, and a Little Bit on Our New Way of Living

(This was actually written a couple of weeks ago so there is even more catching up to do, but since I've been delinquent in my postings lately, I thought I'd finish this one and then move on.)

It's gently raining this morning here in the Hidden Valley R.V. Resort in Newville, WI.

“What?” you say! The last we heard you were in New York! How'd you get to Wisconsin?

That's what I stopped by to tell you so let me catch up on our travels.

We were in Glens Falls and Lake George, New York, for the Adirondack Balloon Festival and to visit Barb, Mike, and Pete, Mary's sister and her family. And we had a great time! We'll be back there, that's for sure, but good things have to come to an end and it was time to move on.

We left King Phillips Campground on Monday, September 24, and drove maybe seven miles before we stopped. No, there wasn't a problem. It was a planned stop. You see, I had a telephone call coming in from one of the people I mentor and I needed to have time for a conversation. So we pulled into a southbound rest area on the Adirondack Northway and, while I talked on the cell phone, Mary took a nice long walk around the parking lot.

That's the great thing about the work I am now doing as a LifeCoach for leadership, conflict situations, and ministry (and as a Mentor for some people in ministry). Since most of what I do is by telephone, usually in one-hour time blocks, I can stop and work from anywhere. So I did. After an hour of delightful and stimulating conversation about ministry and various situations, we got back on the road and drove down to the Albany area where I pulled into the parking lot of a Home Depot and took a second call for an hour of coaching with one of my clients.

After the second call was completed, we drove down I-88 to NY 17 and I-86, The Southern Tier Expressway, and headed west. We stopped for the night at Camp Bell, in Campbell, NY, and then got back on the road the next morning. It was a typical one-night stop. Pull into the campground, do a minimal set-up for comfort and efficiency, make supper, relax a little bit by reading, watching some tv, or playing a game, go to bed, sleep, get up, eat breakfast, stow everything in its place, and get back on the road. I don't think we even unhooked the car.

For those of you who aren't familiar with RV living, let me describe the routine of our life a little bit. We drive a Type A motorhome. That's a large box, in our case, 34' long, 8.5' wide, and 12' high. That box happens to have six wheels and a Ford V-10 engine to move it around. Behind that box, we tow a car, four wheels down. “Four wheels down” is RV'er jargon for all four of the wheels of the car are on the road and turning as we roll along. That means that the car is not on a trailer, with all its wheels off of the road. Nor is it on a tow dolly with two wheels off the road and two wheels turning. The car is attached to the motorhome with a tow bar, has an independent braking system, and absolutely CANNOT be backed up (backing up could damage the tow bar). That means that pull-through campsites save us a lot of time because we don't have to take time to disconnect the car at night and reconnect it the next morning.

When we stop at a campground, we pull into our campsite (or back into it AFTER we disconnect the car if we didn't get a pull-through), level the coach with the hydraulic jacks, extend the two slides which give us extra living space in the living room/kitchen and in the bedroom, plug into the electric connection, connect the water, turn the refrigerator back on, and start getting out some of the things we stowed away for driving that make life in an RV comfortable and homey. The next morning, if it's a one-night stand, we reverse the process and drive away.

If we're going to be in a campsite for a while, we also may put out the outdoor mat, extend the awning that gives us an exterior living room and set up the recliners for comfort! It's not a bad life at all … if you don't mind living in approximately 300 square feet (on a rainy day) with an outdoor living room that is limited only by the size of your campsite.

We were in Campbell, NY, for the night before that side trip. Let's get back on track. We left Camp Bell and Campbell, drove across the little bit of Pennsylvania that is between NY and Ohio, and found our way to Kenisee's Grand River Camp in Geneva, OH. We said when we pulled in that this looked like a nice place and that we might stay for more than one night. We did. We spent a second night.

Geneva, OH, is an interesting area. It is just off of Lake Erie and the lake has an effect on the agriculture. This is a grape-growing area and has a number of wineries producing their local version of a variety of wines. We visited a couple of wineries, tasted some good (and some not-so-good) wines, and bought a bottle of one we really liked. In the “old” days when we lived in a stick-and-bricks house with lots of room, I might have purchased several bottles, but now, when every inch counts, one bottle was the limit!

I did have a long conversation with one of the wine makers who just happened to be hanging out in the tasting room of his winery. The conversation was about, of all things, Wisconsin politics. He had been following the happenings on the WI political scene in recent days and was quite knowledgable. And we happened to agree so it was a quite enjoyable chat.

Geneva also is home to many covered bridges, some old, some quite new (usually replacing old ones). The ones we saw were all functional bridges, carrying traffic across creeks and rivers. One of them we saw was the “longest” covered bridge in the U.S. It required modern engineering to stretch the length it did over a river gorge.
Covered Bridge, Geneva, OH

Covered Bridge near Geneva, OH

Another Covered Bridge


We also drove along Lake Erie on a cold, damp, windy day. Despite the gloomy sound of that, it was pretty and delightful.

Lake Erie on a cold, windy day in September, 2012
Lake Erie Haze and Mist
We were trying to stay off of the toll roads of NY, PA, OH, and IN. They are expensive! And, like any Interstate highways, they are high speed. We were trying to travel with less cost and to travel slower, so we stayed on more local roads much of the trip home. The upshot of that was that we drove across northern OH and as Thursday, September 27 drew to a close we were looking for a camp in the vicinity of Pioneer, OH (on the far western edge of the state). We tried one campground that was WAY off the beaten path. No one was home! I called the number provided on the office door but no one answered. I left a message and waited. And waited. We thought about just picking a site and settling down for the night and trying to make contact with the owners or managers the next morning, but I didn't want to poach a site so we finally turned the engine on and headed back to the main road. I know it is near the end of the camping season and this was a mid-week night, but it's hard to keep people in a campground if no one is around to welcome them and give them a place to camp!

Fortunately, it wasn't too many miles before we found another campground and, this time, someone was home and we stopped for the night. The Lazy River “Resort” Campground was a place to stop for the night. I'm not sure that it deserves the name “resort” but its owner thought it did so that's what it was called. Suffice it to say, that this was the one campground we've encountered in all our travels that we simply would NOT use the restrooms at the site. We were glad that our little home on wheels has it's own private facilities for such purposes. Enough said!

Our next stop was a three day sojourn back at the Elkhart Campground. Obviously we liked the place since we went back and stayed longer. And I'll start from there the next time you hear from me.