Monday, July 30, 2018

Time at Oak Haven Family Campground in Wales, MA

A typical day is usually different at each campground where we stay.  Our last stop was at Oak Haven Family Campground.

We picked this campground because it seemed to be about halfway between Hartford, CN and Providence, RI.  Our goal was to visit those two state capitols and we were able to do that.

 We arrived on a Thursday afternoon, checked into the campground.  We had reserved a site with 50 amp service but there was a good chance we would not be able to get a satellite TV reception from there, so we opted for a site that was open.  They put us in a corner spot along the back row.
We had to maneuver around a large 5th wheel to get back there, but we had already unhooked the car and found a level spot and made sure our satellite dish worked.  It did.

We had no sewer but there is a dump station at the campground. We are one 30 amp electric this time.  We opted for an open spot in the campground and had to manage how many big energy items we turned on at once.  For example, we can turn on the TV and microwave. But if we don't turn off the a/c, we get very close to popping the pedestal circuit breaker.  It's something we do to make sure things run OK.  If we don't, we have to turn something off and go out and reset the pedestal circuit but turning the switch on/off.

Once we were settled in, drove into Hartford and saw that state capitol.  It took us about 90 minutes to get there.  After the self-guided tour, we realized that the Mark Twain Museum was a few blocks away and we also did a quick visit to that museum.

By that time, it was a little after 5:00 PM and we found a Chinese place for dinner.  It was a little 'hole in the wall' in a not-to-great neighborhood, but the food was terrific.  We had beef and broccoli fried rice, sweet and sour pork, egg rolls and a fortune cookie.  Dang!  I just realized we forgot what happened to the fortune cookie... oh well.  There was so much food in those two orders, we had a complete dinner of left-overs a couple of days later.

That night we noticed there were a few more rigs showing up and the place was starting to get more busy.  Not real crowded but we were about the only ones in the area where we were parked.  They have 3 or 4 areas of this big campground and we were in the area known as 'Snob Hill'.  Funny.  Hard to know what prompted that name.  Maybe it was because we were the closest to the small pavilion and pool and office.  But being on 30 amp in a grass field didn't seem like it was all that noteworthy.

After dinner, I found the dump station, trash dumpster and laundry facility.  The dump station looked easy enough to get into with plenty of room.  Nothing tricky about that.  30 yards away the dumpsters had permanent stairs between two.  The laundry facility was small but looked clean and orderly.  It was $1.50 and $2.00 for the washer/dryer. There was also a lending library with a bookcase full.

The campground was well maintained.  One thing I look for is if the grass is mowed.  I was surprised to see they hire someone to do that.  They also hanging flower baskets all around near the check-in office.  The office itself was roomy enough for a well-stocked camp store.  Next to it was a good sized swimming pool. It was a quiet evening of reading and TV.

Friday morning, we had a leisurely breakfast of cold cereal, bacon, coffee and orange juice.  We took showers and enjoyed some time together before we left for Providence RI a little after 9:00 AM.  We are in Wales, MA.  It is a small town and we have to drive 15-20 minutes to get to the interstate.

We left a little after 9:00 AM and drove through town over to I-84 and took it into Providence to see our second state capitol in two days.  We were able to drive right up to the building and park on the street which made for an easy walk.  The parking meters coin/iPhone app enabled if that makes sense.  It took me about 5 minutes to download the parking app and register, plus in our license plate number, and pay $2.50 for our spot for two hours.

When we finished up our time in the building, we didn't see any parks real close to us, so we had our picnic lunch in the car.  Pam makes the best lunches.  A simple turkey/cheese sandwich on wheat with some chips, veggies (celery and carrot sticks, radishes and some bell pepper slivers).  Before we left town, I saw that we were about 30 minutes from a Naval site and we drove over to it.

Turned out the map was wrong, no navy base although we did see some Coast Guard boats.  The was more like an old industrial area and a large ship maintenance area of some sort.  There was a large series of General Dynamics (Electric Boat) warehouses and at the end of the road was the ferry to Martha's Vineyard.  Interesting.  We also saw an old Air Force One jumbo jet static display.  It looked like it was open for tours occasionally but not very often.  Small area that looks like it had seen a more active time.

By now it was past 2:00 PM and we had 1 1/2 - 2 hours to get back to the campground so we left and made it back to Oak Haven.  After our return, I sorted through our brochures and information sheets and did some blog writing.

Something was going on in the pavilion next to our campsite and I found out it was a family reunion. About 80 folks from all over converged on that area of the campground for the afternoon. They were having a good time and had about three or four things going on it seemed.  Inside (the pavilion was a covered area with a wall on one side and three open access sides) they were playing music and eating and drinking.  In the field next to them I saw potato sack races and a tug-of-war for the kids.  Up near the pool a few teams were playing horseshoes.  This place is perfect for families.  It was a fun and well-behaved group.

It was another beautiful (and hot) New England day and I went over to the pool to do some more writing.  Since the campground office was only a few yards from there, I stopped in to talk with the  campground managers.  It seems as if we were now boxed in at our site with no access.  We were leaving the following morning and wanted to be sure we could get out of our campsite.  We were directly behind a 5th wheel in front of us.  He would have to move his picnic table and truck for us to get out.

When we arrived the previous day, we pulled into our site and turned around from the other side of the 5th wheel in front of us.  But at that time, the area was mostly empty and wide open.  Now however,  people were arriving for the weekend and they parked three rigs next to the guy in front of us.  Those rigs did not unhook their tow vehicles and they extended well into the row we were on.
Nowhere to move.

The front office assured us those folks were leaving early the next morning.  We didn't know what early morning meant to them, but for us it was about 8:00 AM or earlier.  They said, they'd speak to the campers and make sure we could leave when we wanted to.

Then, it was on to the pool.  I snuck in a little nap and then found my iPad did not like the direct sunlight.  The error message said, "Hot!" turn off and reduce the temperature.  That solved that for now.

I talked with the woman next to me.  Her husband and her, along with their two kids, had been coming to the family campground for years.  It was a summer get-a-way for them and they had a seasonal site.  Turns out I before I went swimming I paused at the horseshoe pits and watched the competition for a while.  I used to pitch horseshoes back in the day so that was fun.  The lady's oldest had just graduated from the American Institute of Culinary Arts near Hyde Park.  Their daughter was a new high school graduate and already had a job.

She mentioned there was going to be a "Taste of Oak Haven" food competition going on later in the evening in the pavilion.  It started at 7:00 PM.  People who entered the contest brought their favorite food.  For a quarter, you get a sample of their food in a little cup about the size of a cup cake wrapper.
Nice people. I thought I might have to try it and see what people were serving.

It was getting to be a little after 5 o'clock so I left and returned to the Roadrunner.  Pam had put a roast in the crock pot so we had that for dinner.  We watched some news and then baseball.  Meanwhile at the pavilion I could see the mass of people there for the reunion were packing up and leaving.  They cleared out the place in plenty of time for a different group who were participating in the Taste of "Oak Haven".
At about 20 minutes after 7:00 PM I took my four quarters and participated in the "Taste of Oak Haven".  I almost gave myself indigestion because of poor planning.  I just stopped at couple of dishes that looked good and almost had indigestion.  Some dishes did not mix that well.  My first choice was "Lava Rock brownies".  Rich and fluffy, with a shot of whipped cream on top, it was worth my $.25.  Next, I sampled a large smoked meatball wrapped in bacon. As I was eyeing my next taste, Kristi (from the pool) saw me and took me over to meet her husband and kids.  Their son the chef had an Asian mushroom beansprout mix that was great.  Their daughter had a simple blueberry cheesecake.  Yikes!  I was sooo full!   It was fun to meet the rest of her family and to try out some of other Tastes of Oak Haven.

When I returned to our site, I met the owner of the 5th wheel parked in front of us.  We chatted for about 30 minutes.  It was fun to hear his story.  They had been on the road in their new rig and returning from time in Montana.  They were headed back to Maine.  He was more than glad to move his truck and the picnic table.

Yesterday morning we got up our normal time yesterday morning, cleaned up, packed up and saw we had a clear path to exit.  We moved around the 5th wheel in front of us at about 7:30 AM.  We made our way to the dump station, emptied our tanks, hooked up the tow car.  By 8:15 AM we were on the road headed for 4th Cliff Military Campground in Humarock, MA.

Our time at Oak Haven Family Campground was another typical good park and memorable few days.

Thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

If you haven't left a comment in a while, feel free to do so - its always great to know you are out there!  Thanks!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Camping Our Way From Virginia to NY - Summer 2018

Thought I'd give an update of where we've been over the last few weeks.  We are now on our 'Summer 2018 Trip' to the Northeast.
Malek Visitor's Center, USMA, West Point
We're currently at the military campground at the United States Military Academy at West Point.
On the map below, our location would be at the northernmost point (F). We were here six years ago.  The campground hasn't changed much but the Visitor's Center at the USMA is brand new.  More on that and some of what we've been seeing.
We stayed in Virginia Beach all of May and most of June.  
Sea Mist RV Campground, Virginia Beach, VA
The last day of June, we made a quick trip
Rest Stop Along the Way
to South Carolina for some annual motorhome maintenance
Cross Country RV Park, Denver, SC
and got to see D and Jackie in Lincolnton, NC and Cindy in SC.  We headed back to the Virginia Beach area for a couple of weeks near Williamsburg, VA.   Our first stint for a few days was in Newport News.
 Newport News City Campground, Newport News, VA
King's River Campground, Cheatham Annex, Williamsburg, VA
There we got to see Bill and Kris and spend more time with Kelly, Jon and the grandkids.  Before we left we spent some time with Jon's parents (Diane and Marty), up from Augusta GA for a few days,

We drove a long day after departing Williamsburg and made it to out reserved site at Mountain Springs RV Resort just north of Shartlesburg, PA off I-78.
 Mountain Springs RV Resort
We hit the rains the whole way from Virginia Beach, but it hasn't been too bad.  They have been a series of hard rains, light rains and then now rain.  It hasn't been a constant downpour.  We carry an umbrella and wear rain gear and have kept dry.
Round Pond Campground, USMA, West Point
We snagged this site which is pretty level.  We are glad to be able to get satellite TV.  The internet and cell phone reception is sketchy at best.  I'm posting this from Starbucks at West Point which has great Wi-Fi.

We've seen a lot here and along the Hudson River Valley.  Over the last few days here, we re-visited the USMA Museum which is outstanding.  We also took another windshield tour around the premises and got some great views of the Hudson River.

Earlier we took a day trip over the Hyde Park (FDR home, Presidential Library and Museum), Val-Kill (Eleanor Roosevelt's Retreat) and the Vanderbilt Mansion.  Earlier today we made the two-hour drive to see Martin Van Buren's home in Kinderbrook.  We'll be telling those stories about our times there in the coming weeks.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Monday, July 23, 2018

The Best $1 Museum We've Found

While at Cheatham Annex Military Campground near Williamsburg, VA, we ventured over to The Mariner's Museum in Newport News.
We hadn't read up on it and didn't really know what we'd find. It turned out to be quite a place with much more than just things associated with mariners.

We opted for the movie:  D-Day.  Not sure what it had to do with mariners, but we enjoyed the Tom Brokaw-narrated History Channel movie.
The movie was pretty long so it was lunch time by the time it finished.  We had plenty of shade trees near the parking lot and we chose one for another picnic lunch.
It's one of life's simple pleasures, just eating lunch outside and enjoying the day.

Back inside the museum we saw the most complete gallery of the Iron Clads and development of iron ships in the United State.  I grew up thinking the two famous ships "Merrimac" and "Monitor" fought to a duel in the Civil War.  We learned here the "Merrimack" or "Merrimac" was the name of original ship.  When Virginia seceded from the Union, the ship was in the Norfolk Navy Yard.  The Union burned it to avoid having it fall into Confederate hands.  The rebels raised it, and rebuilt the ship, and renamed it the CSS Virginia.
It was built as an ironclad with the hope that it could sink the Union ships blockading Hampton Roads.  The museum is the best account we have seen of the Ironclads.  It had a mockup of what it might have been like inside the CSS Virginia.  It dueled the USS Monitor in Chesapeake Bay, fighting over two days to a standstill.  It is regarded as one of the most important battles of the Civil War in terms of introducing new warfare technology, e.g. iron ships.

Nine months later, in 1
862, the USS Monitor sank in a storm off Cape Hatteras.  140 years later, it was raised 240 feet off the ocean floor.
The museum did an excellent job of explaining the process and details of the recovery.  It reminded me of the Mel Fisher Museum in Key West that has raised a few sunken ships.

We passed through the model ship gallery which has a good collection of ships that have been built in the area shipyards over the years.

We wandered through the last few areas of the museum and came across a gallery on the most recent America's Cup completion that was held out in San Francisco in September 2013.  We happened to be in the area attending nephew Matt and Sierra's wedding.  The day after the wedding we drove into San Francisco to spend time on the wharf and see Alcatraz.  We took the National Park Service ferry boat out to Alcatraz and on the return we had to stop in order for the America's Cup competition to sail on by.  We had a front row seat!  Read more about it here.
The American's had to reel of 8 straight victories to win the Cup that day.

One of the last displays was information on Newport News.  It grew as a railroad hub and West Virginia coal shipping site during the turn of the last century.  In addition, it became one of the world's largest shipbuilding locations with the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company which at one time was the worlds largest shipyard.

We thought the Mariner's Museum was a wealth of some interesting displays showing the growth and importance of the shipbuilding business in the Hampton Roads area.  It was worth our time and $1 to see the museum!

Thanks for joining us on today's entry of the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Friday, July 20, 2018

A Bit of Jamestown History

We've been to Jamestown at least three times.
Today's visit made an impression on me for a number of reasons.  One was that our National Parks continue to change and get better each year.  Improvements, additions to the displays, new features, etc are all things that we saw today.
As we waited for the 15-minute film explaining the story of the English settlement at Jamestown, we tried to absorb some of the information displays near the theater.  We learned that the area had almost 15,000 Indians in the area in 1607 led by the Powhatan chieftain, whose daughter was Pocahontas.

It seems to me that today was the first time I started to put the 'story' together.  Maybe it was because we took advantage of a Ranger talk.
Our ranger was unique and had his own memorable style.  I liked it.  It was little dramatic, a little quirky, but he knew the facts and history and was in the 'teaching' mode.  He mentioned three facts he wanted us to remember about this place:
  1. Jamestown, established in 1607 was the first permanent settlement in America.  Roanoke Island was settled 20 years before in 1587, but it became known as the Lost Colony when all residents mysteriously perished.
  2. In 1619, Jamestown created the first representative assembly in American with the election of 20 representatives who met in the Jamestown church to decide on "...just laws for the happy guiding and governing of the people..."
  3. Also in 1619, the first Africans arrived, having been intercepted from a ship near Mexico.  Originally all were free then, but by 1660, some were enslaved and working the cash crop, "golden Weed" -- tobacco.
It is always good to get an informative and energetic Ranger.  It was well worth the hour he spent with us.

In the left half of the map we saw where village was laid out with Swann's Tavern and the row house.
National Park Service Map 
After an archaeological dig in the 1930's, evidence was found that laid out some of the buildings foundations of the village.  Historians decided to recreate a brick wall just above ground level of some buildings to show where they once stood.  

After the Ranger talk we wandered over past the Memorial church and the old Triangle fort for some shade.
Statue of John Smith looking out to the James River
The Memorial Church building is the site of a current archaeological dig, so people could only look into the church from the front door.
We made some more memories with another picnic,
this time on a bench where they hold some Ranger Talks just outside of the Triangle Fort.
Statue of Pocahontas near the Triangle Fort
The long poles in the ground show the outline of where the walls of the fort once stood.

 After lunch, we checked out the Vorhees Archaetorium and Archaetorium Museum.  It is a little mind boggling to learn that close to 1.5 million artifacts have been dug out of the ground in the area.  The Archaetorium/Museum sits on top of the a portion of the Statehouse, which was built when the church became too small to hold the representatives and settlers interested in viewing the proceedings.

Inside the museum there were over 4,000 artifacts discovered over the last 20 years at Jamestown.  The museum was built in 2006 and opened in time for the visit of Queen Elisabeth in 2007 commemorating the 400 years anniversary.  
As with most of these great museums and historical sites, it is a challenge to absorb it all.  We had more of an appreciation for the significance and the story behind the history of the area from our history.  

Truth be told, this was our third visit to Jamestown.  We first visited in the 1990's when we lived in Fairfax VA.  Then we came again in 2015.  Each time we learn and remember more.  Each time there are more discoveries to see and the property looks a little different.  

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Visit to the Fire Station

Who doesn't like a visit to the fire department?  Especially if you know a fireman?

We are fortunate to know Reggie, who is the Fire Chief in Yorktown.  After our visit to colonial Yorktown, I got a text from Reggie who asked if we were still in Williamsburg and would like to come over and see where he worked.  Yes, we would!

We've known Reggie for 3-4 years.  He and his wife Melanie are friends of Kelly and Jon.  They have an 8 year old daughter and a 3 year old that is buddies with Brooks.  We see them when we are in Virginia Beach visiting.

I always enjoy it when I get to see the actual place where people work.  It is one of those interesting things about life.  Everyone makes a living somehow, in some place and its fun to put them together now and then.
We were about 20 minutes away and drove over to the Fire Station and met Reggie in his office.
He has done this before and reminded me of when I give people the "tour of the RV".  Reggie used to ride the firetrucks and be on the line, but as a Fire Chief now, he has his own EMS truck and rides to the scene in it.
The first part of the tour was the pointing out the Men's and Women's separate facilities and the common area where they spend a lot of their free time while on shift.  We caught Reggie and the team in the middle of one of their 24/7 shifts.

The next part of the tour was about the trucks and the equipment.  Each firetruck has a specific purpose and role.

This looks a bit cluttered but in fact, it is pre-arranged so the fireman manning this position on the truck can jump into his boots and suit in seconds.  The big unit is manned by four fireman.

This beast is the most impressive of them all.  I forget all the facts and figures of this but it can carry a lot of water.  It also has lines of hoses and then can pump water to the fire using a variety of sources.  Sometimes they get water from wherever they can including a swimming pool if necessary.
Whoever is manning the pump has a lot of responsibility.  This can get tricky making sure the right hose has the right amount of water to get the job done.

On the passenger side rear area is a compartment with a familiar set of tools which is commonly known as 'Jaws of Life'.  That is a brand name that became the generic label of a particular kind of equipment.
I believe he said this brand was made by Genesis.  It has hydraulics to aid the cutting and even has a portable motor to carry a pretty good distance from the road to free a victim.

Next, we looked at one of two ambulances they have ready to go.  He opened the back door and had me pull out the gurney and set it up outside the back of the truck.
It is all automatic.  Just press a couple of buttons, give it a tug, lock it in place and set it up, wheel it away.  Reducing the time it takes to get this in and out of the back end of the ambulance saves precious minutes in an emergency.

They have two different large 5th wheel trailers that haul all kinds of rescue and safety equipment to the scene.  It is pulled by this large truck.
 The side of the trailer opens with all kinds of equipment they can bring to bear on different situations.
It's a little sobering to think about how much the firemen need to know about some many different kinds of equipment.  Then, too, they have to keep in great physical shape and have to learn to deal with awful kinds of situations.  Those of us that don't, probably take them and their work a little too much for granted.
This is a good reminder of what real heroes look like.  Day-to-day they are regular looking folks.  But in an emergency, they are highly trained professionals that put it on the line every day.

It was a real privilege to see the fire station and get a private tour from Reggie.  And to get an inkling of what it is these folks do for us day after day in our communities.  And not only our communities, but sometimes they deploy to other places to join other teams.  Such was the case when Reggie deployed to Puerto Rico last year during their terrible hurricane.

That's it for today's Roadrunner Chronicles!  Thanks for stopping by.