Old Stomping Ground

Thursday September 20th 2018

The sun broke through the clouds for a few minutes today, but for the most part it was a dull cool day. The temperature peaked in the mid sixties. It’s forecast to get down into the fifties overnight.

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There are more chipmunks around this campground than there are people.

I spent some time today in my old stomping grounds of southern New Hampshire. I was driving on roads and visiting places that I have more than thirty five years experience with. It is amazing the things and patterns you fall into without thinking. I was always in the correct lane at stop lights, I took all the short cuts without thinking and more significantly I knew were to find places. There is something comforting about familiarity that I don’t find often during my travels.

There are other areas of the country that I have become very familiar with, but it doesn’t bring this level of comfort and understanding. I have spent enough time in some areas of Florida to have some of these feelings and was starting to get comfortable with Las Vegas last winter. I think it takes years of living and growing with an area to really develop the sense of belonging that I feel in the southern New Hampshire area.

All of that said, I still need the exploration, exposure and experience that the travel associated with this life style brings. Seeing new areas of the country and getting to experience the things unique to those areas is why I’m on the Rambling Road Trip. I’m not a thrill seeker, but the adventure associated with travel is what I’m all about. My RV is my home regardless of where it is parked.

Here at the RV park the weekend residents are starting to arrive. I don’t even need to see they their license tags are from the local area to know. The weekenders setup far more of a camping home when they arrive than most travelers. When they roll out the lawn carpet, tie down the awning with stakes and get out more chairs than there are people, you know they’re here for a while.

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Blossom of the day.

A Regular Day on the Rambling Road Trip

Wednesday September 19th 2018

Today was a routine living day in my RV home. It was a cloudy day with cool temperatures that only reached the mid sixties. The woods surrounding my RV combined with the cloudy day made it necessary to have the lights on all day to keep the dreary away.

I spent some time today working on my travel plans. In the near term I have to come up with a plan for November. The open question is how far south in Florida I will go. I’m trying to balance travel efficiency with exploration. I need to be in the Orlando area at the beginning of December so there isn’t a lot of time to do south Florida right. The decision really depends how I spend February and March.

I’ve been holding off committing to a plan for February and March. I tried to get reservations in the state parks on the gulf coast last spring when the reservation window opened. It is so competitive that only a few succeed and I wasn’t one of them this year. I’ve been working on an alternative that involves more moving around. South Florida is part of that plan. Unfortunately, that plan also requires a lot of reservations that I can’t really make until I have all the pieces in place. The fall back is a two or three month stay at one of the bigger campgrounds in the center of the state. I know there are still openings at at least one place, but it isn’t a great location. There is also always the possibility of heading west earlier, but that has its on set of issues.

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Watching these little guys running around my campsite is entertaining.

One thing I accomplished today was the laundry. Now that all the Airstreams have moved on the campground laundry facility wasn’t as busy.  The Airstream Caravan started leaving in staggered groups around eight this morning. The campground looked empty at mid day today after the twenty five Airstream trailers left. By this evening many of those sites were occupied by more travelers. This campground is near full most nights.

 

The Rainy Day Arrived

Tuesday September 18th 2018

The remnants of hurricane Florence arrived as rain at midnight. It rained steadily until about two this afternoon. This area got around three inches of rain with some areas getting a little more. Considering all the rain the storm has already dumped on the US mainland, it is surprising it can still find enough energy to continue to rain on us.

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The only pool of water near my RV was right under my step. The rest of the hilly rocky area just showed the signs of flowing water.

I wasn’t completely asleep when it started to rain, so it took some time to get accustom to the noise on the roof of the RV. Once I got to sleep I was oblivious to all the rain that came down. I slept until near nine in the morning. Outside it was dark from the woods that surround my site and very wet. It wasn’t very inviting outside. Inside the TV was warning of floods, severe thunderstorms and even a possible tornado to the east. Everything added up to a good morning to stay inside.

This afternoon I finally made the grocery run I started thinking about last Wednesday. I had a list of about forty items that I remembered to bring with me. What I didn’t remember was to consult the list while at the store. The act of creating the list was sufficient for me to remember everything but two items on the list. Those items aren’t so important that I have to return to the store specifically for them, so my grocery shopping was a success. It was also a very extensive trip. Judging by the final bill it may be the most stuff I’ve purchased at a grocery store in a long time. One reason for that is stocking up on familiar brands that I haven’t found in other parts of the country.

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While I was at the grocery store the sky started to clear.

Back at the campground all of my Airstream trailer neighbors were starting to pack up. They will be pulling out in the morning. Hopefully, they will wait until after I’m out of bed or at least be quiet leaving. The campground is almost full with a lot of travelers from around the country. In addition to the east coast states and provinces there are rigs here from Iowa, California, Arizona and Texas among others.

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By the time I’d finished my shopping and heading home the sky was looking blue.

Waiting for the Rain

Monday September 17th 2018

The warm overnight temperatures allowed me to keep the windows open. Just before seven this morning I paid the price. The Airstream trailer group in the campground was preparing to leave for a day of tourist activities. Either there are a number of hard of hearing people in the group or they just aren’t thinking. They were yelling at each other from all sides of the campground negotiating who was driving whom. They were gone until about three this afternoon.

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There is still some summer color around.

The Airstream group is on a tour of the Revolutionary War period in the northern colonies. The tour started at this campground last Thursday. The group from all over the country have been visiting Boston and the other colonial era sights in the area. It moves on tomorrow or Wednesday to New York and ends the middle of next month in the Washington DC area.

Tomorrow is forecast to be very rainy with the arrival of the remnants of hurricane Florence in the area. Two to three inches or rain are forecast which is nothing compared to the Carolinas but will make outside activities difficult. I switched my plans for today to work on some of my outside tasks. The one task that I still haven’t gotten to is work on the satellite dish on the roof of the RV. It was still slippery wet from the overnight condensation around noon and I didn’t get back to it before the end of the day. I’ve done all the research and know what has to be done, but I’m not really looking forward to working on the roof twelve feet off the ground. I’m looking for ideal conditions. I was planning on grocery shopping today, but that will be one of tomorrow’s tasks.

This campground is one of only a few locations for travelers to stay with easy access to the historic sights of the Boston area. That is why the Airstream group is here and why so many travelers stop here for a few days. The campground provides directions for taking the train into Boston. Tonight I watched several big rigs get directed into their sites at the campground. It’s a good thing they guide you to your site because the roads are narrow and you need to approach a site from the right direction. Neighboring sites may need to be approached from opposite directions on the narrow roads, but the guides are excellent getting RVs to the sites. There are a few sites that it is hard to get situated in, but for the most part the sites and campground are great.

Travel to Littleton MA

Sunday September 16th 2018

Today was a travel day. I didn’t plan very well. I usually try not to travel on Sundays, but my next three travel days will be on a Sunday. All of the weekenders were hitting the road this morning as well. Traffic heading south got heavier with every mile today. It really backed up at the major intersections and the two toll booths.

I was on the road shortly after the 11AM checkout time. Some of the weekenders were still packing up as I departed. By afternoon the campground was probably almost empty. Today’s travel drama started about ten miles down the road when I stopped for gas. There is a sharp dip entering the gas station. The tow bar for my car dragged going through the dip. The electric line from the RV to the car that controls the lights was caught between the tow bar and the road. The insulation was scraped off and the conductors broken. I made the rest of the trip without lights on the car under tow.

I towed for two and a half years without a problem and now I’ve destroyed the electric line twice in four months. The dragging is a new occurrence. I’m wondering if the back of the motorhome is riding lower for some reason. I’ll investigate more before I move again. The first time this happened I was able to buy a new cord at the Escapees rally. This time I’ll probably have to order one from Amazon. In the meantime I’ll splice and tape up the old cord.

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Site 16 at the Minuteman Campground.

My travel day ended around 1:30 at the Minuteman Campground in Littleton MA. This is a nice wooded campground that I’ve stayed at several times before. It is quiet from road noise, but does have an occasional commuter rail train passing within hearing distance. I’ll be here for two weeks. When I arrived I found out that almost half of the sites are currently occupied by an Airstream group. I haven’t seen so many aluminum tube campers in a long time. It looks like a traveling caravan since they are from all over the country, so they will probably be moving on soon.

A New England Hike

Saturday September 15th 2018

Today followed the same pattern as the last few. It started out foggy and ended sunny with very few clouds in the sky. Today the temperature peaked in the low eighties.

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One tree in the center of this picture is starting to turn dark red.

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My big activity for the day was a hike out behind the campground. There is a trail to a small pond and the Pemigewasset River from the campground. It is not a real long trail but has a fairly steep section giving me a bit of a workout. On the hike it occurred to me how much more comfortable I am hiking in New England. Having lived here for most of my life, I’m familiar with the vegetation and I understand instinctively what the dangers are. I was much more relaxed today as compared with how alert and aware I am when hiking in other parts of the country.

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A few trees starting to turn colors.

I enjoy hikes in other parts of the country but I’m watching for everything animal, vegetable and mineral. In the southeast I’m thinking about alligators and snakes while watching for soggy ground. The southwest brings concerns of rattle snakes, cactus and unknown animals. Then there is always the concern of not surprising a bear in bear country. None of these things keep me from exploring and seeing the great sights. I just don’t relax at all while hiking in those areas and tend to follow more popular trails with other people in the area. My alertness may actually help me spot more interesting things.

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Potted fall display of color.

Today’s hike was fun. I actually found a couple of trees that are starting to exhibit their fall colors. In a couple of weeks this would be a very colorful hike, but I’ll be further south. Tomorrow I move on to south for a two week stay in Littleton MA.

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A Slow Day Watching Storm Coverage

Friday September 14th 2018

It wasn’t a very exciting day, but enjoyable none the less. While waiting for the sun to burn through the thin fog, I got hooked on watching the TV coverage of hurricane Florence. Having watched the hurricane storm coverage the last few years I’ve come to the conclusion that meteorologists don’t like the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale once the threat to life and property is real. It’s a good advertising number when the storm is in the middle of the Atlantic. Once the storm nears land, they spend most of their on air time telling the viewers not to pay attention to the number. It’s the water from the storm surge and rain that’s the big problem. Florence is certainly proof of that.

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This afternoon I watched all of the weekend campers arrive to fill up the campground. The trailer behind me is from Vermont. Before they were finished setting up, the campground was delivering fire wood. I counted six bundles of wood. They started the fire just before dark and it is still going now after 11pm. People from several other sites have joined them around the fire. I’ve heard at least three loud voices. I’m not sure how many quiet voices are present. This group of weekend campers clearly focus their activities around the campfire.

This campground has a lot of recreation opportunities. For kids there is a playground and inflatable bounce pad. There are horseshoe pits, volleyball, and disk golf for adults. The one indicator that it’s after labor day is that the pool is closed. Almost all of the campgrounds north of the mid Atlantic close their outdoor pools right after labor day. I think it is an availability of labor issue more than a temperature issue. The campground needs to get the pool ready for the winter before their summer labor departs.

The weather forecast for tomorrow is a repeat of today. Hopefully, I’ll take advantage of the good weather and do more than watch TV and the arrival of my neighbors.

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Travel to Woodstock New Hampshire

Thursday September 13th 2018

It was a foggy morning, but it lifted before my travel day began. Since I had less than two hundred miles to go, I delayed my departure until close to the 11AM checkout time. As it turned out I left the park closer to ll:30.

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Site 21 at the Lincoln/Woodstock KOA. I’ll be here for the weekend.

Getting the car hooked up for towing proved to be difficult this morning. My site was sloped ever so slightly to the front. It was just enough that the car would roll as soon as it was put in neutral. Blocking the wheels got it hooked up, but I couldn’t get the tow bar arms to lock in position. One arm ended up collapsed with the other full extended. That’s a sure way to bend or break the tow bar. It wasn’t easy to get the car disconnected to try again.

My second attempt was at the bottom of the hill. I drove the car down to the bottom and hiked back up the steep hill to bring the motorhome down. The new location looked level, but for some reason I had a similar problem with my second attempt. The only difference was the arm that didn’t lock was on the other side. The third try worked. In three years of towing I’ve only had one other problem getting everything connected. That was last May on a sloped site in Kentucky. I’m a little paranoid at the moment. I don’t know what’s different.

Once I was on the road I didn’t have any problems. I took the very long way around to get from White River Junction Vermont to Woodstock New Hampshire. I went north on Interstate 91 to St. Johnsbury and then south on Interstate 93 through Franconia Notch to the campground in Woodstock. Traffic was very light all the way. My hope of seeing a little bit of color in the mountains was not satisfied. Everything is still very green.

I arrived at the Lincoln/Woodstock KOA around 1:30. It turned into a warm day after the morning fog burned off. The temperature was in the high seventies and the sun was shinning brightly while I got set up on a site with very little shade. I’ll be here until Sunday when I move south to Littleton Massachusetts.

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My view shortly after sunset.

An Almost Rainy Day

Wednesday September 12th 2018

I slept in this morning. It wasn’t part of the plan, but it happened. I’m parked in the woods and the clouds were thick this morning. If the backup alarm on my neighbors motorhome hadn’t broke through my sleeping conscious, I’d have slept much longer. By the time I’d satisfied myself that the alarm didn’t mean the world was ending, I was wide awake and getting dressed.

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I don’t think I understood the weather forecast for this area. The northern New York area I was in over the weekend was clear and warm today. Burlington Vermont, the location of the TV stations I’m watching, was also warm and much drier today. This location on the eastern side of Vermont is far enough south that it is still in the rain that passed through earlier in the week. By not paying attention I was surprised to wake up to an almost rainy day. There were light rain showers off an on all day. It never cleared up, but the temperature did get into the seventies.

One of the plans for the day was grocery shopping. I even had a shopping list. It is rare that I feel the need to make a list, but I was out of several seldom used items that I probably wouldn’t remember at the store. I drove to West Lebanon New Hampshire around noon to buy some groceries. That’s when the plan started to go south. First I forgot the list and second the Walmart did not have a full grocery section. It was an older and smaller store.

The good news is I’m back in an area with store brands that I’ve frequented for many years. I switched my destination to the Price Chopper and Shaws grocery stores. I didn’t come close to getting all of the items on my list. The brand name package products that I buy frequently and remember the price of were all twenty cents to a dollar more per item. One example, a small can of corn is usually seventy five cents at Walmart. It was ninety eight cents at Shaws. In the long run it wouldn’t have ended up costing more than a couple of dollars more for my entire list, but I was feeling thrifty. I only bought the things that are usually similarly priced less or are of better quality at regular grocery stores like produce, meats and dairy. I got enough to hold me until I remember my list and I’m in the mood to spend money.

When I got back to the campsite to unload the groceries, the heaviest rain storm of the day passed through. It side tracked me from going back out and doing some sightseeing. I settled in to watch the Weather channel coverage of hurricane Florence. The little bit of rain in this area is nothing compared to what the folks in the Carolinas are going to get.

Tomorrow is another moving day. This campground is full for the weekend so I will be moving into New Hampshire until Sunday.

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Blossom of the day.

 

Travel Day to Vermont

Tuesday September 11th 2018

The torrential rain forecast for Monday into Tuesday never materialized. The brunt of the storm went south of the Massena area. It didn’t really rain at all overnight. I woke up to cloudy conditions that were ideal for packing up for the travel day.

I got underway a little after ten heading east across the top of New York state. I crossed the upper part of Lake Champlain at Rouses Point into Vermont around noon. Rather than continuing east to Interstate 89, I decided to work my way south on US-2 island hopping to the interstate just north of Burlington. It was a pretty drive looking out at the various parts of Lake Champlain. Thinking that it’s fall, I expected to see some color in the trees. There wasn’t any. It is probably because it was still summer in the 90s last week.

Once I reached the interstate it was a routine travel day. The sharp turns and gentle ups and downs of the secondary roads were replaced by gentle turns and higher ups and downs of the Green Mountains. Traffic was light to non existent.

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Site 69 at the Quechee Pine Valley KOA in White River Junction Vermont. The sites are terraced on a hill side. Site 69 is at the top of the hill.

I arrived at the Quechee Pine Valley KOA between 2 and 2:30. I was mostly setup and setting the clock on the microwave oven at 3:07. This campground is on the east side of Vermont just up the road from White River Junction. I stayed here once before about ten years ago. I’ll be here for two nights before I move on into New Hampshire for the weekend.