Gatlinburg & More Mountains

Onward and upward – literally.  We last left you outside of Asheville.  Since then we ventured over the Great Smoky Mountains to Gatlinburg to visit with Seester and her husband.  They have a mountain oasis right up the road from one of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park visitor’s centers.  It is a beautiful cabin and from their deck I even caught a glimpse of a big black bear crossing the road.

Clingman’s Dome

Pat wanted to revisit the highest peak on the Appalachian trail (a fact we learned on this trip) since he had fond memories of hiking there with a high school buddy.  Of course this was many moons ago when I finished grad school and some things have changed.  The hike up to the top is now paved, but still a steep half mile hike.  We huffed and puffed and made it to the top.

On this day, the 6,644 foot elevation was completely socked in with cloud cover and mist.  As I’ve said before, I like a little grumpy sky and especially like misty weather.  Just another of the many mountain personalities and the hand we were dealt for viewing that day.

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Clingman’s Dome Trail

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Northern View from Clingman’s Dome Observation Tower

This is the shot from the observation tower looking North.  You can see what it looks like on a clear day from the display picture vs what we were able to see.  You’d think we were in the Pacific Northwest from that shot.  One of the many faces of the Smokies.

Pat poses by the Appalachian Trail marker and at the overlook.  On the way down we had a brief sighting of the sun to brighten things up.  Seester (Elaine) & husband Jimmy along with Pat make the trek downhill.  We finally catch our breath.

The break in the clouds was a perfect opportunity to photograph some “wildlife”.  Look closely in the bottom picture for the ladybug and Mr. Daddy Long Legs.  Got a great shot of a fly getting some pollen.  We didn’t know they even did that.  I did manage another honey bee shot.  Their legs were loaded with bright yellow pollen.  Finally my montage would not be complete without the butterfly who complied and landed right in front of me.

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Newfound Gap

We stopped at Newfound Gap on the way down to get a shot of the valley, and I snagged this shot below of the forest while we drove.

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Hemlock Forest

Jimmy told us about the disease killing the hemlock trees.  Sad that they are dying, but makes for very interesting forest shots.

Jackson’s Outing

Since we had a very sad dog from our sightseeing junkets away from him, we took the next morning just for him.  The bears are very active in the Smokies, so the park rangers only recommended one trail in the area as dog-friendly.  The Gatlinburg trail is behind the Sugarland Visitor’s Center.  On this day, August 25th, 2016, it is the National Park Service’s 100th birthday.  We saw soooo many rangers coming to the ranger’s luncheon and noooo parking spaces.  I did manage to snag a spot in one of the close pull-offs and we set out.

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Jackson on the Gatlinburg Trail

I think we just about overdid it with him, but he had a good time wading in the stream and drinking the cold mountain water.

Apples & Beans

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Carver’s Apple Orchard

After the dog morning, we drove to the nearby apple orchard.  Nice view of the orchard from our lunch table at Carver’s Applehouse Restaurant.  With lunch, you get apple cider, apple fritters and apple butter.  Apples, apples everywhere.  I was really looking forward to getting some apple jelly from their country store, but alas, they only make apple butter and carry apple jam from another farm.  Apple jelly is the flavor from my childhood and kinda hard to find.  I settle for grape mostly and strawberry when I can get it, but apple, now that is the ticket!

I am happy to report that they do carry T.O.E. Jam.  I am not kidding and took a picture to prove it.

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Homestyle T.O.E. Jam

You are wondering what’s in there, right?  It is tangerine, orange and elderberry jam.  Things went downhill from there, we started trading Monty Python quotes, and also laughed at the “Traffic Jam”.  Can’t tell you what was in that one since we were totally taken with the T.O.E. Jam and how your mother smelt of elderberries…  We did buy some local honey and a half a peck of apples.  Ok, this sends me into another song.  Anyone know “I love you, A bushel and a peck, A bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck”….  And I digress again.

We like factory tours and discovered that Bush’s Beans is located just a short drive away from the apple orchard.  Off we go to travel the path of the bean.

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Pat poses with Duke and that other guy

You can’t tour the actual factory, but they have a great movie that shows the whole process and some excellent interactive displays.  Did you know that 98% of customers want the chunk of bacon in the can of beans and 96% of people throw that same chunk of bacon away?  That goes in the can first, then the beans, then the sauce and then they actually cook the beans in the can.  A very sophisticated process.

The museum was great, too, and you can see the evolution of the Bush company.  Apparently they are responsible for 80% of the baked bean market these days.  Pretty good market share and they are pretty proud of it.  I have to say that the advertising display of the 50’s and 60’s era commercials was a fun treat.  Can’t you just hear that percolator sound from the Maxwell House “good to the last drop” commercial?  And…”You’ll wonder where the yellow went, when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent”!  I, of course, am not old enough to really remember these, but had avid TV watchers for parents who loved to quote sayings and sing jingles.

We made a few purchases in the gift shop of course.  Had to have their hummus dip mix (just add Bush’s Garbanzo beans) and a can of Grillin’Beans that were Black Bean Fiesta flavor.  Haven’t seen that one in any of the grocery stores we’ve been in lately.

Finally time to head back to the campground and we decide we don’t want to go back on the road we came in on.  Let’s go the “back way” we say.  This turns out to be the road  WAY less traveled and up over some mountain I cannot name.  Pat keeps saying to stay in the center of the road and slow down.  “I’m only going 15 miles per hour”, I say.  But boy it feels SO fast going downhill.  I do all this in first gear mind you since it is just that steep on the way up and we’d rocket off the hill on the way down if not.  On one turn I accused him of sending me into serial killer holler.  This so called 2-lane road is not big enough for even two Bitsy’s and has no center stripe at all.  We hope someone gets to the dog in time if we are never heard from again.  Ah, but we make it back safe and sound and are delighted to see road markings again.

Cades Cove

Our last outing in the Gatlingburg area is again with Lane and Jimmy and they drive us to and through Cades Cove.  On the way, we stop at the Sinks – a very pretty waterfall with huge rocks right by the Little River Road scenic roadway.  Apparently this is also one of the most deadly spots in the Smokies since people drown here most every season.  We did see a few brave souls jump off the big rock formations into the water below.  The ranger warned them, but they did it anyway.

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Me at the Sinks

Cades Cove is an 11-mile loop in a beautiful valley.  Famous for lots of wildlife, but we’re back to hot weather and the animals stayed in hiding.  We did stop at a few sights along the drive.

Pat, Lane & Jimmy check out the old grave markers at the Methodist Church.  Some date back to the 1800s.  This church was built in 115 days for $115.  Seems like a good bargain.  Also a view of the valley from the drive.

Pat was taken with the mill.  They had it grinding away making corn meal when we were there.  We walked to where the stream was diverted to the mill to make it all happen.  Love that moss-covered wheel – slow and steady.

The Meander Homeward

We’re now on what I’m calling the meander home.  Taking it slow since August was crammed with activity and visits with friends and family.  Stay tuned for one more post about this trip where I describe the spot that wins the “Most Peaceful Place” award.  For now just know we are sleeping late, walking Jackson when he makes us and binge-watching TV shows like Bering Sea Gold, American Ninja Warriors and a particularly funny episode of Running Wild with Bear Grylls – the one with Shaq.  A total hoot!

Thanks for hanging in on this long post.  See you on the way!

 

The Mountains Are Calling

And we must go!  We last left you at Creekside in Edinburg, VA.  That was our short trip and one night stay after leaving College Park, MD.  Next stop Claytor Lake State Park also in Virginia, and a lovely park at that.

Claytor Lake

Ahhhh a pretty peaceful spot and we snagged a good site.  Virginia lets you pick from what is available when you arrive.  Helps with the remorse we sometimes feel when we reserve and pick a site unseen in Florida and some other states.  This almost felt like a nice private spot in the middle of the woods, except the dumpster was right around the corner.  On the bright side,  trash was super convenient.

Virginia is 2 for 2 with state park campgrounds that are clean, well-kept and have great amenities.  A little pricier than some states, but well worth it in our opinion.  We stayed two nights and honestly would have stayed longer, but they were booked over the weekend.

Not only was this on a big, beautiful lake, it was cool enough to sit around our fire bowl.  We hadn’t done that yet this entire trip what with the Saharan-like temps.

Jackson always approves of places with water, of course getting him to drink some is not always easy.  Didn’t crop that lake shot you see, so you can see his traveling water bowl and the separate water bottle we carried along.  Somehow the water in the actual water bowl container does not meet with his approval.

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2020 Olympics – Gymnasts Watch Out!

One of the walking trails had fitness stations put in place as part of an Eagle Scout project.  Pat tried a few of them out and we thought about the Olympics since they were in full swing at this point in our journey.

Blue Ridge Mountains

We bid Virginia farewell and made our way to Asheville, NC.  We’ve been here before and loved it, but hadn’t camped here.  This was a bit of an impromptu spot so we would be closer to spend time with good friends Ann & Steve.  They weren’t too far away in South Carolina and were gracious enough to make the drive up to spend 2 days with us.

Getting there was a grand drive, at least for me.  Pat has to watch the road especially on those mountain grades.  Jackson decided he needed to watch too, especially when the engine noises changed to get us up the mountain – sorta like a dump truck having a baby.  It was a wonderful view approaching the Blue Ridge Mountains.  And no, Jackson does not really drive the RV, but he supervises very closely when he is not completely crashed out.

Max Patch

A few years ago we clipped an article out of our Daytona Beach paper that listed 5 free things to do in Asheville, NC.  We hung on to it in the hopes that we’d get to do the Max Patch hike one day.  It was amazing and I highly recommend it if you are ever in the Asheville area.  It’s about 40 miles West of there off I-40.  They said in the article that the last part of the drive is on a gravel road.  What they didn’t say was you get off the interstate and maybe 100 yards later, the gravel begins.  If not for Max Patch, I think it would be the exit to nowhere.  I drove Bitsy 6 miles up that windy, steep, little bit muddy road to the parking spot.  The last mile is a steep hike up to the huge flower patch at the top with a 360 degree view of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Stunning!  It is a 4600 foot elevation and the Appalachian Trail intersects the Max Patch trail.

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Squinty me at the top.  It actually rained on us as we ascended the trail, but the sun broke out once we reached the top.  Our campground host told us the rain clouds are what you need to really see all the blues in the mountains.  You’ll get no argument here and I love a little angry sky from time to time.  Lots of fab pictures of this outing so indulge me please.

Met a great dog at the top.  Mason was tired and a leaner.  You people with big dogs know just what I mean.  Pat surveys the view of the Appalachian Trail and the Max Patch trail in view.

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Max Patch Flowers

The bees were down to a dull roar and loving all the flowers at the top.

Mama Gertie’s Campground

This is the view from the top of our campground in Swannanoa, just East of Asheville.  We didn’t have spots at the top with this view, but worked on our cardio walking up each day.

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Sunset at Mama Gertie’s Campground

And at sunset, truly gorgeous.  Stubborn dog insisted on one more hike up the campground road or we would have missed this view.

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The rest of the sunset shots.  I just had to put them all in.

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Jackson is all ready for an R-I-D-E in the C-A-R.  We have to spell or he gets excited too soon.  You can see the mud on the side from our Max Patch jaunt.  A view at our Mama Gertie’s site.

The Urban Trail

I mentioned we had visitors during our Asheville stay.  Steven and Ann indulged us and went along on our trek in downtown Asheville.  This is a great town with lots of architecture and history, and I had no idea!  The Urban Trail is superb and has 30 stops along the way with either sculptures or plaques.  We learned about the town’s most famous author, Thomas Wolfe, who wrote “Look Homeward, Angel”.  It apparently has 250 characters which were closely matched to people he knew in town growing up and most of which were not cast in a good light.  Think I might have to read this one.

Also saw an indoor mall which was the vision of a man named Grove.  Magnificent building that houses lots of cool shops and was his vision before the Great Depression.  A man ahead of his time.

The art deco city hall put the Federal building right new door to shame and the Basilica of St. Lawrence boasts “North America’s largest freestanding elliptical dome, unsupported by wood or steel”.

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Basilica of St. Lawrence

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Under the dome

Of course we had to have a little fun with the sculptures.  Pat took my picture with Ann at an Urban Trail favorite stop.  The giant flat iron is a replica of one used at a local laundry and reflects the nearby Flat Iron Building.

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I did not take a picture of the building, but picture a tall slice of cake with two streets running along both sides of the slice.  That is what it looked like.

If you are in town and need to balance the nature walks, this one is fun and can take 2-4 hours depending on how long you stop along the way.  It took us 4 hours since we went inside the Basilica, stopped for a great Mediterranean lunch, tasted olive oils at a cool shop and bought a homemade oatmeal cream pie & bag of coffee at a cafe.  (Said grounds, but is really coffee beans – guess I need a coffee grinder for my birthday!)

Just a few more architectural shots.  Turns out I really like gargoyles.  Loved the ones at the top of a downtown building.  I believe the one on the right is named Ben.

Last but not least.  If you have a favorite pinball or arcade game from your childhood, you need to go to the Asheville Pinball Museum.  For a flat $13 fee, you can play all the games all day!  Or for free you can look around and reminisce.  They had a cool Captain Fantastic pinball game – yep – Elton in platform shoes with all the bells and whistles.  The back room houses everything from Dig Dug, Ms. Pac-Man, Galaga and Tempest (Pat’s personal fav).  They had Qbert, but I remember falling off every single time.  This was also an extra stop for us and not on the trail, but a bonus!

On The Way

We went to church in Swannanoa during our 4-day stay and were treated to an excellent homily as well as a double rainbow as we left.

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Father Matt said we are all “on the way” and we should keep that in mind and be patient with each other since that way is different for all of us.  We needed to hear just that!  So, I’ll leave you with that rainbow, wish you easy travels, and see you on the way.

 

 

Loose Ends

On The Road Again

We finally left College Park after our 2 week stay, but only traveled about 112 miles.  This was by design to get us around the beltway midday with only a short journey in case it was a rough start.  Good news – not a rough trip considering it was the beltway and we arrived by 2 pm to our overnight destination.  More about that later.

I thought I would use a catch-up post to fill in some things I forgot along the way in other posts.  Since I’m using the blog as a travel “scrapbook” as much as a communication tool, I am backing up the truck so to speak to fill in those blanks.

Grey Water vs. Black Water

It has come to my attention from my adoring public that there was some confusion about the grey water flood I mentioned in an earlier post.  Lest you think we are complete nasty slobs, I thought I’d clarify.  RVs have several tanks on board.  The freshwater tank is of course a good guy and we always carry some fresh water even though we get water “most” of the time at campgrounds.  I say most of the time since we were surprised on this trip by one stop that did not have any water at the site.  The helpful camp host offered to run a hose across the road to us.  We politely declined since we did have enough  with us.

But I digress.  The other two holding tanks are for grey and black water.  The black water tank is for the unmentionables that go down the toilet never to be seen again – oh we really hope so!  The grey water tank is for the sinks and shower.  Our big flood was GREY water and although a bit smelly due to food bits from dish washing, soap , etc., it is NOT the bad stuff.  Now don’t you feel a little better about that rug we hosed out and continue to use?

THE One Vermont Sight I Forgot To Mention

I don’t know about you, but when I think Vermont, I think covered bridges.  Probably a New England thing in general.  I so wanted to not only see one, but drive across one as well.  On the day we went to Lake Champlain, Pat indulged me and we Google mapped our way to the closest drivable covered bridge – Holmes Creek

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Holmes Creek Covered Bridge

I must admit that I did not take this photo – found it online.  We pulled over at the first spot after driving across – I’m swooning as I drive across – but it is a NO DOGS ANYWHERE, ANYTIME place and they wouldn’t even let us out of the car since we had Jackson in tow.  Harumph and no picture.  Anyway, the bridge was awesome and just what I was looking for, although a mere 41 feet long.  Pat says there were holes in the bottom, but I didn’t notice any of those.  Good thing we were in the Bitsy car.

Tractors and Deer

We loved the road signs that we don’t see in Florida.  I particularly liked the tractor sign.  We saw these mostly in Vermont along with signs promising slow-moving farm equipment.  Leaving Vermont, we actually saw some huge farm things on the road.  I say “things” since they were huge and no clue what they actually do.  Fortunately they were going the opposite direction and did not slow us down.  Finally, something slower and bigger than us on those 2-lane roads.

The prancing deer signs were all over the place – Vermont, New York and Pennsylvania.  We joked about the picture until we saw a deer that leaped exactly as pictured across our two lanes of the interstate, across the huge median/ravine and then after a little hesitation across the far two lanes.  Right in the middle of the day, too!  Our favorite signs were obviously doctored and had red noses.

Parting College Park Musings

We are so very tired from all the moving events with Ethan in College Park, but glad we had the time and flexibility to help him get settled.  We managed to muster one more sight-seeing day before our departure.  Ethan and his girlfriend wanted to go the National Zoo despite record-setting temperatures and heat warnings.  The radio announcer said it was “beat you up and take your lunch money hot”.  Yes indeed.  Throwing caution to the wind, we hopped on the Metro and bravely set out to see all those animals.  Keep in mind that the animals do not like those hot temps any more than we do and many of them chose not to participate.  We pictured many critters deep in those holes and caves we saw.  Fab enclosures and we assume something was in each one.  Alas, did not see the famous sloth bears or any tigers.

The giant pandas were good sports though, and entertained us in their INDOOR enclosure.  Mostly the parents (Big Daddy – Tian Tian on the the left and Mommy Mei Xiang on the right) munched on bamboo with baby (not sure if it was Bao Bao or Bei Bei – yes the actual names) playing all over the place.

We enjoyed the sculptures all over the zoo grounds made from garbage washed up on the seashores.  No kidding!  These were amazing and portrayed different kinds of sea life.  I liked the swordfish best.

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Not a great picture of the swordfish, but Pat says he was going for a good people picture.  Good people shot indeed – my baby!

Of course since the real animals would not cooperate, Ethan and Stephanie “caught” about 80 Pokemon.  Yes, Pokemon Go is alive and well in the twenty-something set.  They weren’t the only ones since the Zoo is apparently a good place for all sorts of Pokemon.  Ethan hatched an egg while there.  That’s all I know about that….

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Not sure what they are catching – but something really awesome with a weird name.

Last two things of note from the College Park stop.  We had a grand thunderstorm two nights in a row, with the big one the night before we were planning to leave and after the scorcher at the zoo.  All this to say that one of the sump pumps in Ethan’s basement apartment stopped working and the flood waters started pouring in.  Pat estimates we wet-vac’d up 72 gallons of pretty nasty water before the landlord managed to get the handyman on site to help.  I am happy to report that all was well on our departure day with the problem resolved a new dehumidifier in place and nothing damaged that belonged to Ethan.  Some long overdue cleaning (by people other than us!) also ensued with more to come.  Hopefully this is the last of the unfortunate new apartment events.  Ethan now has his new UMD ID and is ready to start classes and training.

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Fear the Turtle!

I said two things so here is #2.  We were at College Park for 2 full weeks.  Long enough for the sugar ants to find a way into the RV.  We discovered them on Pat’s chocolate chip cookie he was saving for ice cream.  He thinks they climbed up the fresh water line and into the coach from there.  So, we shall take critter/insect precautions at our next long-term stay.  Another learning moment.

Shenandoah Valley – Again

Now to our current spot.  We are in the Shenandoah Valley again, but not the same park as twice before.  We’re actually on the bank of creek and I’m calling it the babbling brook.  It sounds just like and such a welcomed sound compared to two weeks of constant road noise next to the beltway – the one downside of that College Park campground.

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I even fed the ducks and geese after dinner.  We went across this bridge in Lucy if you can believe it.  Not sure we were supposed to, but sometimes Google doesn’t send you the best RV way and I didn’t figure that out until too late.  No worries.  We made it and the bridge is still standing.

On the road again tomorrow for more Virginia travel.  Hope you are staying cool.  We’re looking forward to the mountain respite.  See you down the road!

 

 

The Big Move

Bye Bye Vermont, Hello New York State

The big rally is behind us and Ethan’s move to grad school looms ahead.  We left Vermont a few days early to give us a more relaxed pace for travel to College Park, MD –  the site of University of Maryland and Ethan’s new home.  Our first stop is outside Schenectady, NY on the banks of the Mohawk River.  We’re practicing being loosy-goosy with the schedule and actually called for reservations while on the road.  Way outside the plan-ahead box for us, but worked out just fine.

This park was a pleasant surprise and turns out the Mohawk River is park of the Erie Canal System.  A big yacht even pulled up to their dock to spend the night when we were there.

Jackson is in his element with water nearby and they even had a brand new dog park with a bag of balls ready for play.  Nice touch.  It was a pretty peaceful spot and the trees just seemed to be talking.  Leaves were rustling and lulling us into a little relaxation.  It was a very nice change of pace from the packed in fair grounds at the rally.

Yuengling Brewery Tour!

As I’ve said before, the surprises along the way make for some of our best experiences.  We had a 2 night rest stop in Hegins, Pennsylvania and turns out we were only a few miles from Pottsville, PA – home of the oldest brewery in the nation.  Yuengling offers brewery tours and samples for free!  I’ve been out of beer for two days and this is just perfect timing.  We are inspired by the tale of the 19 year old who came over from Germany and started this business in 1829 and is still in the family today.  Each generation has to purchase the business from the one before it to ensure they take good care of things.  Apparently the current owner is there every weekday starting at 4:30am.  The employee tour guides could not say enough good things about Dick (owner) and the company.

Pat poses next to the kegging apparatus.  This is now done at another site, but it was a good look at that part of the operation.  We were there on canning day and they fill 775 cans per minute.  That explains why they are whizzing by in my picture.  Totally awesome operation to see in person, and yes, we did get to taste.  I tried the Oktoberfest since that is one of my favorites in other brands.  They were just making it available for tasting that very day.  Pat tasted the Yuengling Traditional, but also a pretty good root beer.  Says he, since I hate root beer and used both my tastings on actual beer.

Sorry, but I have no pictures of the outside of the brewery.  We intended to take some on the way out, but were carrying too much beer from the gift shop!

Catching Up on Chores

Everyday cannot be fun day unfortunately.  RVs take a bit of maintenance along the way, so we did at bit before moving on.  Our big accomplishment was lubricating the slide-outs or “slides” as they are called for short.  We have two on Lucy and they essentially give you more space inside, and for us, create a full living room.

My job when we get somewhere is to spot for any obstacles and give Pat the high sign to put out the slides.  Let me just say our passenger side slide is completely embarrassing.  When Pat flips the switch to put that one out it sounds like a car accident in progress.  Metal on metal screeching and grinding.  I look around like I don’t know where that horrible sound is coming from.  To be fair, Pat has looked into improving this before with no luck.  This time he takes off a few more pieces and is able to get lubricant to the offending parts.  Hurray – we are stealthy again.

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Slide Lubrication with Jackson Supervising

Shenandoah River State Park – Take 2

We decided that the Shenandoah River State Park on Virginia’s Skyline Drive was so lovely that we’d stop there again on the way back.  We took a 2 night rest here and enjoyed the fierce beauty of the thunderstorms and the sunny aftermath.

Butterflies, thistles, bumblebees and some leisurely walks provided for some artsy shots.  This is the place for rabbits big and small.  I had a great time counting them on every walk.  We even flushed out a foursome of deer a few times.  They were right behind our campsite one evening.

Grad School Here We Come

The time for resting is done and we need to get to Cherry Hill Park in College Park, MD.  I have a flight on 8/2 back to Florida, so no lolly-gagging.  We planned a short day from Shenandoah so we are fresh for our trip around the DC Beltway to the RV park.  Fortunately traffic wasn’t too bad and we made it with only one very close call – the car that shot around us out of nowhere to take an exit.

Pat takes me to BWI the next day for my flight.  Turns out my reward in advance for driving the moving truck 850 miles in 2 days with all Ethan’s worldly goods is a bright yellow VW Bug rental car.  This car was the most fun thing to drive and it had some surprising power.  I passed quite a few people on the way home from the airport.  My sister took this great pic and dubbed the car a “little pat of butter”.

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Time for packing, haircut, bank deposits, mail sorting and general errand catch-up after a month away.  We stage everything in the garage, pick up a U-Haul truck and call for Ethan’s friends to help load.

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Three days later we are loaded up and ready to roll.  Many thanks to my seester for her packing help and to Ethan’s great buds Isabelle, Maxx and Nathan for the loading muscle.

I am happy to report that Ethan, poor frightened cat Charlie, truck, worldy goods and me arriving safely 2 days later to the campground.  Ethan and I did have some fun listening to everything from 80’s, top 40, country (money can’t buy happiness, but it could buy me a boat…Google Chris Janson lyrics – hilarious), and Science Friday on South Carolina public radio.  It was a sad little wasteland of radio in SC, but we learned a few things on Science Friday and listened to a very disheartened Republican on the show before that.  Not even going there.

Move-In Days 1 through 4

We met the landlord at Ethan’s new place to get the key and unload the truck – day 1.  He is actually renting a room in a house with 4 other roommates, and has a basement room with his own bathroom and shared kitchen and living area.  Turns out that his roommates are all on the University of Maryland football team and 3 of them are starters.  His downstairs roomie is 6’3″ and 305.  He walked in and literally blotted out the sun.  Very polite and friendly young men, but terrible housekeepers.  They all headed off for 10 days of pre-season training camp and we cleaned for 3 days straight- thus days 2-4.  Finally after 4 days, Ethan actually spent the night there.  Charlie joined him on his 3rd night after the unpacking included her litter box and feeder.

Exhausted, but determined to do a little sightseeing, we head to Washington, D. C. by Metro.  We had a good time with a surprisingly good lunch – a place specializing in burgers, beer and bourbon.  Alas, it is the middle of the day so we stick to water and only indulge in one of the three.  Superb burger, roast chicken and a pasta dish that Pat was very sad to let go without a to-go box.

It is extremely hot, and we’re calling it Savannah hot.  Actual temp is 96 degrees that feels like 106.  We trudge on and get our National Park stamps for the Washington Monument, Pennsylvania Ave NHS, WWWII Memorial and National Mall.  Our respite is in the Bureau of Engraving and Printing building.  Did you know that green was selected as the color for our money since that color of ink was in large supply and less susceptible to chemical changes?  Also, they have folding machines to test the amount of folds that the bills could handle.  Bills should be able to handle folding 4,000 times on the same fold line.  Test that one out and let me know if it is true.

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My Monumental Men

We’re still helping Ethan with errands and odds and ends.  Also catching up on our rest and laundry.  Jackson had a brief stomach flu (that’s what we’re calling it), so he’s resting up, too.  We’ll be here a few more days and then continue our meandering trip home.

I’ll leave you with a picture of our young man on his new campus.  He will start his classes and Teaching Assistant duties by the end of August.  The University of Maryland is a beautiful campus and we know he’ll be happy here.

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See you down the road!