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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
See you down the road!