Home Away From Home

Sauder Village, Ohio

Up and out at 6:00 again. Doug, the technician told us that it was a five hour job so we knew we wouldn’t be leaving Nappanee today. We headed over to the lounge along with the other displaced RVer’s, drank our coffee and chatted for a while. Finally about 7:30 it had begun to rain and Jerry suggested we go to a nearby restaurant, the Dutch Restaurant for breakfast. It was very good but I definitely got my week’s worth of salt.

I looked up the weather in Archbold, home of Sauder Village (where we were supposed to spend last night) and the weather was good. Since the forecast for Nappanee was all day rain we decided to go to Archbold despite it being 100 miles away. We didn’t have anything else to do or anywhere else to go and we didn’t want to spend the day in the lounge.

We started out in moderate rain and it kept up for about an hour but gradually began to clear as we got closer to Ohio. I nearly missed the “Welcome to Ohio” sign but hopefully I can get another tomorrow as we head to Port Clinton.

We arrived at Sauder Village a little after 11:00 and went directly to the Welcome Center. We wandered around there for just a bit plus roamed around the gift shop. I saw a magnet I wanted but decided to wait until later to buy it.

We bought our tickets and headed on out to view “Ohio’s Largest Living History Destination”. The village consists of 40 buildings and they were numbered so we just followed the path. Each shop had a volunteer who could tell us a bit of history about the shop and the surrounding area. Sauder Village is actually located in the Black Swamp. It was the last part of Ohio to be developed and when the people moved to the area they had to dig trenches around their homes so the swamp waters could recede. This was a continuous process until they had enough land to live on and farm. Some of the shops included a tinsmith’s shop, a barber shop, a basket shop, a cabinet shop, a spinning shop and an herb shop. There were also two schools and a couple of churches. After we had visited about half of them we decided it was way past lunch. Jerry wanted to try the Barn where they had a buffet until 2:00. It was 1:50 so we hustled over there. After the disappointing buffet we had on Sunday I was reluctant to try the buffet so I had the salad bar which was very good. Again we were served rolls with apple butter. They were really good. Jerry said his meal was the best meal he’d gotten in a restaurant on the entire trip. I sampled some of his and it was very good. He even asked the very nice waitress for the recipe for one of the desserts. She didn’t give it to him but did tell him how he might be able to make a diabetic version of it.

Relaxing by the Grist Mill
We went back to the village and continued to wander around. We ended up at the Grist Mill where we sat on a bench and enjoyed the cool breeze and shade. Since we had just finished lunch we passed by the ice cream shop even though they had some sugar free ice cream. After visiting the toy shop we decided that it was about time to head back to Newmar.

During the afternoon we got a call from the service technician saying our RV was ready. Since we were over two hours away we couldn’t get back today but told him we’d be ready to check out at 8:00 tomorrow morning. Since we will only have the afternoon in Port Clinton we want to get an early start. Hoping for pretty weather.

We got back to the campground a little after 5:00, got everything set up again and then stood outside talking to our neighbor Don who owns a Bay Star. Interestingly enough he is from Concord, North Carolina. It’s amazing how we have parked twice next to neighbors from North Carolina and when we were on the tour at Notre Dame there were people from North Carolina on the tour and to top it off, they were NC State fans! Again, small world. We talked to Don until it just got too hot to stay outside. Since he and his wife had only been RVing since October we offered what little knowledge we had gained in three years.

We had decided that since we had such a nice lunch we wouldn’t have a big dinner so when we came in we just got on the sofa and started reading. A knock on the door and it was Don. We had suggested that they might like visiting Sauder Village but he had forgotten where it was. This time he was armed with his notepad and wrote down some of our suggestions.

Probably our first suggestion to any new RVer is to to join FMCA. The benefits are well worth the minimal cost. We also recommend getting the America the Beautiful pass to the national parks. Right now it is $10 but is going up to $80 August 29, still an amazing deal at that. Oh, you have to be over 62 years of age. With the pass you get access to all of the national parks plus access to all Corps of Engineer parks at half price which is usually about $11 and so far every place we have ever been has been beautiful. Of course by joining Passport you can get half off of your site but you need to do your homework and look at the reviews before you choose one. We have stayed in several and broken even with our $40 yearly fee and only once have we elected not to stay at one because of its appearance. With Good Sam’s you get a 10% discount each night which isn’t much but it adds up so you can quickly get your $25 yearly fee. We forgot to tell Don about KOA but it too offers a discount for each night. KOA generally has a lot that we are not interested in, i.e. playgrounds, etc but you can usually rest assured that you are staying in a nice clean and safe place.

It felt good going to bed knowing we didn’t have to be up at 5:00 in the morning although we did plan to leave as early as possible. Doug had called and scheduled check out for 8:00 so we hope to be on the road to Port Clinton, Ohio well before 9:00.

Home Away From Home

On the Way Home

We left this morning around 8:30 in a heavy fog. By the time it lifted we were in Pennsylvania and things were a lot greener. The leaves were just beginning to change in New York and although they were not at their peak with vivid reds and oranges we did see a few peaks of red amidst the oranges and golds. Temps were in the low 50’s when we pulled out. Where are we going? Not sure. We’ll drive until Jerry wants to stop. I’ve done a lot of research on possible campgrounds along the route and hopefully we won’t have any trouble locating an overnight place. Guess we could be really RVers and stay in a Walmart! Not sure I’m that brave yet but time will tell. We’re following the Garmin GPS today so hopefully we won’t go through any state parks in Maryland.

What an easy ride and drive today. No state parks in Maryland. In fact, it was four lanes all the way although we did have to go through a couple of small towns in Pennsylvania. Still, all in all, it was an easy trip. We kept riding along and stopped only for gas and then for lunch. We decided then that we could drive on to Natural Bridge and I had the information for a Yogi Bear Jellystone there. It is a Passport campground so it’s half price. I called and we were able to get a drive-through site FHU.

As we got closer to Natural Bridge Jerry asked me if I wanted to go to the museum and get a magnet. Well, of course and luckily we went right by there so he dropped me off and I ran in to get the magnet. They must be slowing down for the winter and possibly getting ready to close (I didn’t ask) because the store looked a bit forlorn and believe it or not they were out of magnets.  On earlier trips we always tried to buy some treasure that would remind us of our trip but we decided that we truly had enough trinkets, plates, bowls, etc. so I started buying magnets at each significant place.  We put them on the refrigerator and they quickly remind us of our travels.  We picked up several in the Finger Lakes!

We continued on to the campground and it was a winding narrow road, not the worst one we’ve been on though. As luck would have it we passed the campground and ended up near a trailer park. Jerry saw someone turning around so he asked for directions to the campground. Yep, we had passed it so we were able to make a loop in their drive-way and head back towards Yogi Bear. It is not an easy campground to find for sure. When we finally got there I went in and there was no one in the office. To make a long story short someone finally came out, looked at the site we were assigned and changed it since we were just over-nighting. Someone led us to the site fortunately as I don’t think we would have easily found it. There are a lot of turns and hills but surprisingly enough our site is quite level. I have almost decided that having a level site is the second most important thing to have. Wi-Fi is first and they have that. Cable is nice but not necessary as I’ve found I watch very little TV when we’re traveling. Jerry is enjoying the football games though.

We easily and quickly got settled and then sat outside for a while until it was time for dinner. Had leftovers and have nearly cleaned out the fridge. I checked the mileage to see how far we had gone today – 448 miles. We have really thrown out our usual rules of stopping at either 3:00 or 300 miles. I don’t think we want to make a habit of this but Jerry has gotten along well with the two days of long driving.

Jerry called Tom Johnson about the leak in the bin and we are supposed to take the coach to them on Friday after we leave Clemmons. There we’ll empty everything into the car (oh joy) and then leave the coach and then pick it up when we head to Florida.

The next morning we took our time leaving as we only had 187 miles to go to get to Clemmons – that is according to the GPS.  Instead of taking us back to the Interstate though we got the scenic tour through the curvy mountainous roads for nearly an hour.  I WILL have a paper map on our next trip.

We arrived at Tanglewood Park a little after 2:00 and quickly got set up.  Emma came over for the afternoon and then David, Jane and Eli came and we had hot dogs on the grill.

On Friday after Emma’s Grandparents day that began at 7:00 a.m. we came back to the coach, cleaned up and got everything except the food in the fridge and freezer packed in the car so we could quickly leave after dropping the rig off at Tom Johnson’s.

We got to Concord around 11:30 and were hopping to be gone by 1:00.  Apparently their was a mix-up about getting the coach looked at and instead of us leaving it they were going to address the issues right then – or in a while.  We sat around for a while and finally got comfortable on the sofa reading before they eventually started dealing with the leak which had mysteriously healed itself.  Oh well – we pulled out of Concord a little after 2:00 and through the pouring rain and stop and go traffic in Raleigh we finally pulled the motor home in the warehouse about 8:00.  Of course it was pitch dark in there and pretty hot but we were able to get the car off of the dolly and the fridge and freezer emptied into the car.  The motor home is parked in its usual place although I’ve never seen it quite so crooked but it is there!

Two exhausted travelers finally got home around 8:30 after a wonderful trip.  We saw lots of interesting and beautiful things.  Jerry did a terrific job of driving sometimes under very difficult conditions and went well despite my original misgivings.  Thank you Lord for safe travel and safe arrival in Kinston.

Home Away From Home

Headed to South Carolina

it’s May 3 I think – Sunday and we’re on our way to Townville, SC, Lake Hartwell Camping, a Passport campground.

After I got up I enjoyed my cup of coffee and then went on to get my shower, dress and began securing everything in the back for our day of traveling. I knew Jerry wanted to get on the road as quickly as possible. Had he known that we would be traveling around Atlanta he might have suggested leaving even earlier. As it was we pulled out of the campsite at 9:08 and were on the road soon. There was right much traffic going around Atlanta but it was Sunday morning so I’m sure it was lighter than normal. Thankfully we didn’t go through Atlanta. I’m learning about routing and hopefully will do better in the future. Land is getting a lot flater and we don’t hear the coach go into overdrive nearly as often. Glad we don’t need any gas because gas in the Atlanta area is the most expensive I’ve seen on the trip.

When we realized that we would be passing near Dawsonville I called Debbie, Jerry’s sister to see where she was. Of course she was in NC.

It has been a nice sunny day for travel. Constant traffic most of the way but not stressfully heavy. We’ve talked a bit about favorite campgrounds, least favorite, how many miles to drive in a day and what would influence that decision. Overall a nice ride but quiet. I have offered to drive a couple of times but Jerry says he’s OK.

12:50 brief stop at the Visitor’s Center just as we entered South Carolina, only about 20 minutes from our destination – I hope!

We arrived at Camp Hartwell Camping at 1:15 but unfortunately the office was closed with a note that they’d be back at 12:45. Someone arrived at 1:45 – couldn’t set the clock? When she finally came back someone in front of me was paying for storage or something with $1000 cash. I had to wait quite a while but understood that her $1000 was much more important than my $19.80 that had already been paid. We finally got to the campsite after 2:00, a little tricky coming in but it was a pull through. From the looks of the place though I asked Jerry if he really wanted to stay here. His comment of course was “we paid for it”. It was a nice looking campground but people unfortunately looked a little sketchy and across from us was a “cabin” (really a trailer) and a couple of yelping dogs.

Oops, change of plans. After two attempts Jerry could not get the rig level and with everything else he said let’s go on so he headed to the office to the office to see if we could get a refund. Of course not! On our entire trip the best campground we stayed in was a Passport and the worst – this one, is a Passport. Guess you never know.

We were leaving by 2:35 and on the way to Tom Johnson Camping in Concord. We had Adkins bars for lunch as we rode along hoping we could even get into the campground. I called several times and each time got transferred to Charlotte Motor Speedway, something about a big concert week-end. Someone from the Speedway was trying to contact the campground and was supposed to call me back. In the meantime we were headed there. We had no electricity with the battery – fridge was not working – so we needed hook-up tonight!

We stopped in Gaffney, SC to get gas and Jerry asked me to drive for a while – bad decision. I had only been driving a little while when the traffic began to pick up. As we passed a Rest Stop Jerry asked if I was OK and I lied and said yes. Traffic began to get even heavier with an additional lane and I was in the middle with cars and BIG trucks passing me on both sides. I finally told Jerry that I was about to have a nervous breakdown. It took us a few minutes to find an exit so we could stop and exchange seats. We pulled into a shopping area but that didn’t work and getting out of there was very difficult. We finally turned into an empty Hobby Lobby parking lot, exchanged drivers and as we were pulling into the street the car dolly drug, the coach swayed, the pantry door opened and cans began rolling out. Fortunately the coffee pot was plugged in or it too would have been on the floor. Perhaps this was an omen of what was to come.

I was really disappointed and thinking this was not a good way to end a trip. The poor campground shook my confidence in finding good places to stay and the driving experience surely took away what little driving confidence I had away. Of course Jerry tried to make me feel better by saying it was a poor decision to ask me to drive into the Charlotte area and traffic. He also said I needed to do two things – drive more to the center line and we discussed how to do this and he also said I needed to relax! Ok – I’ll do that – one day maybe!

When we pulled into Concord and up to Tom Johnson it looked like Woodstock must have looked. Tents, campers, cars, everything everywhere. I could see why they never called us back. We found out later that it was the Carolina Rebellion, intense heavy metal music for the entire week-end. We pulled in the drive at Tom Johnson and Jerry decided if I moved the cone he could drive in and get us back out on the highway. First time I’ve ever defied authority and moved a cone but I did it. We idled next to Tom Johnson while I looked for a nearby campground while listening to deafening music. I found Apollo Campground, called and they had an empty site.

We went over – it was only .8 of a mile away and behind a couple’s home. They were elderly and so sweet. The man led us to our site and we finally got parked. As Jerry was leveling and we were setting up we met the couple next to us, Sandee and Mitch from Florida in their Tiffin Allegro – we have seen so many of those this trip. After getting set up and warming up dinner we went next door and visited with them until after 10:00. The music stopped somewhere around 10:00 finally. Sandee said it had been going on since 9:00 Friday morning stopping at 11:00 each night. It was so loud it shook the ground where we where! They were a delightful couple who gave us some good ideas and encouraged us to look into COE parks. That I will do for our next trip.

It was a difficult and depressing day but ended on such a good note. Made me not want to end our trip but alas, home was calling.

We got up the next day, packed up the car with nearly everything in the RV and took it to Tom Johnson’s. We went over the list of concerns, about 15 items, and then after lunch at Olive Garden we left Concord about 1:00. We stopped for gas and for a break at a Rest Stop and were home before 5:00. I unpacked while Jerry started mowing the grass!

What a wonderful trip and I’m ready to start planning another.