Bill and Kit’s 2018 Excellent Adventure, Journal #17

“This Year Marks Our 10th Winter RV Trip”

Travel does not exist without home. If we never return to the place we started, we would just be wandering, lost. Home is a reflecting surface, a place to measure our growth and enrich us after being infused with the outside world.
Josh Gates

Monday, May 14, 2018: Underway from cousin Mary Kate’s home at 0919 hours under drizzly skies and a temperature of 58 degrees. There are two main routes to our next destination…The Garden State Parkway, not my favorite, and PA-32 that parallels the Delaware River which is far more peaceful and scenic…so that’s the one we choose.

The road was narrow, winding, and in some places a bit steep…the kind of road we like. However, the camper, was not too fond of our chosen route. Added a few additional battle stripes and scars to the rig, but oh well…if you don’t travel where you want, why own an RV?

It was a beautiful drive paralleling the west side of the Delaware River, however at some point we needed to get to the far shore and start heading for the northeast. Not that there weren’t a few bridges along the way that would get us there, but they all were truss construction style with clearances lower than the top of our camper. Then when we noticed a bridge that was clear of obstructions…the weight limit was 6 tons and we top out at close to 10 tons!?!? A local constable seeing our plight helped us turn around and directed us back south a few miles to a suitable crossing, so all was good.

Around 1645 hours we pulled into our destination for the next few day, Round Pond RV Park, on the grounds of the US Military Academy at West Point, New York.

Just before a major thunderstorm was due to engulf us.So, I left truck and camper connected and plugged into shore power as the Weather Armageddon hit with strong winds, torrential rains, thunder and lightning…going to be an interesting night!

 

Tuesday, May 15 through Saturday, May 19, 2018-West Point, NY: An evening of rocking, but fortunately no rolling, was endured…actually felt similar to being aboard ship in moderate seas.

Following breakfast, we took a walk about the campground to survey the damage which was remarkably light.

The radio reported many trees down in the area which brought the power grid to its knees in many localities, however our power remained on and the rig came through the storm unscathed.

In years past, being this close to home, Kit and I would be making tracks for Maine…however this year our granddaughter Katie is graduating from Manhattan College a few miles to the south, so we are delaying our return to attend this momentous occasion.

Manhattan College is a beautiful and vibrant campus located in The Bronx, the northernmost borough of New York City.

Established in 1863 as a Roman Catholic liberal arts institution, the college was moved from Manhattan to it’s present location in the Riverdale section of The Bronx in 1922. A compact campus nestled within a residential neighborhood, the college has a real homey feel…

…and is very walkable due to its many beautifully landscaped paths.

Katie, shown below with proud parent’s son Joe and daughter in law Ann…

…was honored with an athletic scholarship to this Division One school due to her talent and prowess in High School Lacrosse. A high achieving scholar, Katie graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Baccalaureate Degree in Accounting and another in Finance.

Which led to her being offered a job at one of the worlds largest banks in the financial capital of the world…New York City.

Katie was joined by fellow Manhattan College graduates, boyfriend Brendan…

…and college roommate Molly…

…shown in the middle, along with new apartment roommate Liz to the left.

Also attending this auspicious occasion was Katie’s OPA from Vermont…Monk.

Sadly, Katie’s Vermont OMA passed since this high school graduation was taken.

However, we felt her loving presence as Betty watched with pride from her vantage point in heaven.

Following the commencement ceremony, we walked down the block to a nice Italian Restaurant to continue the celebration.

Kit and I thoroughly enjoyed the day and are immensely proud of this fine young lady with all she has accomplished and are thrilled to follow what will assuredly be a very bright future…Love you Katie!!!

Returning to the campground on the campus of the US Military Academy, we took a drive around the grounds of this venerable institution and paid a visit to the museum.

Established by Thomas Jefferson in 1801, West Point is the oldest of the five US Service Academies where Cadets earn an academic degree and receive military leadership training while participating in mandatory athletic events.

The museum is full of US Army artifacts such as this “Special Tractor” used during the first World War.

And the little tracked vehicle in front is an early drone prototype…a self-propelled vehicle controlled by an unspooling 2000-foot wire sent the explosive laden demolition vehicle into battle. Not very successful as the control wire was susceptible to damage which would cause the slowly moving bomb to wander amuck about the battlefield.

A great stay at West Point, but tomorrow will be an even better day as Kit and I finally head home to reconnect with family and friends…we are getting excited!

 

Sunday, May 20, 2018: Up and on the road at 0745 hours. This older area of New York state has many low clearance bridges, so we had to follow a convoluted path…south, then west, then north in order to get to an Interstate.

The trip toward Maine was pleasant with light traffic on this late spring Sunday.

Which is unusual for the historically congested Northeast Corridor. Kit and I really like living in Maine, however the travel environment south of the border is a necessary evil when returning to our home state from these trips. Which in the past is one of the reasons we generally choose to return via a more northerly route.

To pass the time, Kit and I started reminiscing about the past ten years of our Excellent Adventure Trips, starting out in 2009 with a 22-foot travel trailer.

Wow, who would of thought that on January 16, 2009 when we departed on Excellent Adventure #1 that we would still be at it ten years later! A lot has changed since that first frosty morning including us!

And our rig.

Which, being smaller and lighter, we took to areas of our great country that would make the manufactures warranty department squirm!

Yes, a lot has changed, but we still visit our ancesteral hometown of San Diego and of course photograph many of our restaurant meals.

And stop to see family and friends along the way, especially these two Vegas Munchkins, Tucker…

…now age 11, and Jack…

…now age 13!

Also, the hundreds of western sunrises and sunsets are still as spectacular as the very first one we posted!

So, here’s to another 10 years of adventure with the best traveling partner in the world…

… love you Kit!

Also, just for fun, here are some facts and figures compiled from all ten of our Excellent Adventure trips:

1. Total time on the road: 1,439 days
2. Longest trip: 207 Days
3. Shortest trip: 99 Days
4. Total distance traveled: 118,503 Miles
5. Total fuel consumed: 11,202 Gallons
6. Average price per gallon: $3.25
7. Average cost per night for campsite: $25.83
8. Average spent on campsite fees and fuel per year: $6,714.42
A side note: If one takes that $67,144 in one-dollar bills and lines them up, they would reach all the way to a Corvette dealership…just saying!
9. Number of nights camping for free: 303
10. Lowest elevation visited: -279 feet at Bad Water Basin, California
11. Highest elevation visited: 11,158 feet at Vail, Colorado
12. Lowest temperature experienced: 26 degrees at Coconino National Forest, Arizona
13. Highest temperature experienced: 102 degrees in Globe, Arizona
14. Number of states visited: 46, only Rhode Island, Washington, and Alaska remain.
15. Number of National Park’s enjoyed: 27
16. Number of Canadian provinces visited: 4-Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.
17. Number of Excellent Adventure Journals issued: 249
18. Number of hits on our webpage: 130,661
19. Number of address’s in group notification email list: 203
20. Number of folks signed up for notification of release of latest journal: 68
21. Number of comments from readers: 1,936
22. Top commenters: Chet G, Pat C, and Nancy G…Thanks Folks!

It was fun reviewing our early years, but now back to the present. Trundling up Interstate 95 we viewed this welcome sight shortly before 1400 hours…

…as we crossed the Piscataqua River and into the state of Maine.

Traditionally, we make a stop in the Town of Kittery to take a break and grab some Maine seafood for lunch…and this trip was no exception as we pulled into a large parking area across from the Weathervane Restaurant.

Where Kit enjoyed some Fried Haddock and I consumed their signature Fried Clam Dinner!

What a treat! With all the great regional cuisine we enjoy during these Excellent Adventures, nothing beats the succulent Maine seafood!

An hour later, we were back on the road heading north and within another hour pulling into our coastal hometown.

And down our treelined street.

Where family and neighbors welcomed us home!

Great to be back in Maine at one of the most beautiful times of the year…and just in time to enjoy some of grandson CJ’s playoff lacrosse games and proudly watch him graduate with honors from high school.

CJ will be attending college in the fall at a university in Rhode Island.

And, last but not least, spend some time with oldest grandson, Joe and his delightful girlfriend Whitney.

Before they head north to guide for the summer on the Penobscot River.

Well, that brings to a close this, our tenth year of adventure travel…it has been a fun ride, and so glad to have you all along!

Here are the statistics for our 2018 Excellent Adventure:
Length of Trip: 172 Days
Total Distance: 11,588 Miles
Total Fuel Used: 1,058 Gallons
Average Fuel Economy: 10.57 MPG
Highest Diesel Fuel Cost: $4.99 in California
Lowest Diesel Fuel Cost: $2.56 in Louisiana
Highest Camping Cost with Hook-up’s: $78.00 in Surprise, Arizona
Lowest Camping Cost with Hook-up’s: $10.00 in Gila Bend, Arizona
Average Camping Cost: $25.83 per Night
Freebie Camping: 27 Nights, “THANK’S FOLKS!”

Kit’s Bit’s: Wow! It’s hard to believe we’ve been doing this for 10 years! I’m so glad we’ve had the opportunity to travel through most of the US. From the very beginning of our life together, we have always talked about traveling the country with an RV. We were fortunate enough in the early days of our marriage to be able to travel across the country to new duty stations, courtesy of Uncle Sam. However, in those days, we were always on a mission to get to our destination quickly. On those trips, we always saw things we wanted to stop and see but never had the time. Since we always seem to seek out the unusual sights, RV travel fits the bill perfectly! We’ve enjoyed every minute of these trips and look forward to many more adventures! Many thanks for all your comments on the journals!

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Bill and Kit’s 2018 Excellent Adventure, Journal #16

“This Year Marks Our 10th Winter RV Trip”

The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.
Eleanor Roosevelt

Monday, May 7, 2018: Departing Virginia Beach at 0915 hours, Kit and I slowly made our way north across the Chesapeake Bay under gloomy skies and the threat of rain.

This huge 4,479 square mile tidal bay has a shoreline of over 11,500 miles! To put those numbers in perspective, if we were to circumnavigate the bay with our rig, the travel distance would be about the same as our annual Excellent Adventure miles!

To conveniently cross this vast body of water one must use the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (CBBT) system.

Wiki Image

Constructed in the mid 1960’s, this 17-mile transportation link connects mainland Virginia with the Delmarva (Delaware-Maryland-Virginia) Peninsula to the north. A civil engineering marvel, it provides travelers with a much shorter route up the Eastern Seaboard, saving 95 travel miles, and is a preferred alternative to driving through the Baltimore/DC congestion.

Being a fixed link bridge, two separate 1-mile long tunnels were laid on the ocean floor to allow ship and boat traffic unimpeded transit to the economically significant harbors of the bay, as well as quick access of US Navy warships from the bases in Norfolk and Virginia Beach.

Back in the 1970’s, while stationed on a Navy frigate out of Norfolk, I transited over these tunnels many times and often wondered if the hundreds of auto travelers zipping along inside the 39-foot diameter tube lying 134-feet underwater had a clue we were cruising on the surface above their heads.

Exiting the CBBT finds us traveling through the Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge.

And a pleasant drive up US-13, through Virginia, Delaware, and Maryland…

…brought us to our next overnight destination, Assateague Island National Seashore.

Where we found a nice campsite separated from the Atlantic Ocean by coastal dunes.

As the sun set in the west, Kit and I enjoyed a nice meal with a glass of fine Cardbordeaux wine…

…while watching the antics of our fellow island inhabitants…

…as the sun set in the West…goodnight!

 

Tuesday, May 8 and Wednesday, May 9, 2018-Assateague Island National Seashore: Woke to cool but sunny skies, with yesterday’s storm rolling out to sea.

After breakfast, Kit and I bundled up and walked across the dunes to the shore.

Being low tide, the beachcombing opportunities were great, and I was able to collect a few of nature’s souvenirs.

After lunch, we made the pilgrimage to the Assateague Island Visitors Center.

We learned that Assateague Island is a 37-mile long, 1-mile wide, barrier island off the coast of Maryland and Virginia. Largely undeveloped, the island is home to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, as well as the National Seashore we are camped at. We also learned about the islands famous wild ponies…like these fellows who were grazing outside our camper window this morning.

The beautiful and inquisitive animals have the run of the island and frequently visit the campground and other public places. These feral ponies are descendants of colonial stock that were pastured on the remote island by early mainland settlers in order to dodge the “Fence Tax” levied by the British government. Technically horses, their diet rich in salt causes their stunted growth to pony size.

As docile as they appear, these animals are wild, receiving no supplemental food or veterinarian care and have been known to be aggressive…as many other animals in the wild can be.

As in most National Park units, this campground does not have hook-ups to electricity or water. However, with our stay being only 2 days, we filled our 82-gallon fresh water tank to capacity and ensured the two 12 Volt batteries were fully charged…so we managed just fine.

Any ocean front camping has the propensity to provide for excellent kit flying opportunities, and Assateague was no exception. I spent many hours flying in the fresh ocean breeze…Kit was able to grab this shot across the coastal dunes from the comfort of our campsite.

Before we leave this beautiful spot, a few words about my camera of choice.

Over the years, folks have asked about my photography equipment and as you can see, it is pretty basic…a Canon compact (pocketable) camera. It is however, a high-quality compact stuffed with a considerable amount of pro level electronics and image capturing technology. What it lacks is a large zoom capability, high output flash, or a detachable lens. Nevertheless, it is the perfect camera for me considering the nomadic way we travel…I carry it always which makes the camera convenient to capture any view that pops up!

Well, Kit and I enjoyed a great stay at the National Seashore, but tomorrow we continue motoring north.

 

Thursday, May 10, 2018: Good morning…it’s 1000 hours and we are heading back to the mainland traveling under sunny skies and warming temperatures.

Kit and I are on our way to visit family in the Philadelphia area for the weekend, but first a quick overnight stay at the US Air Force campground in Dover, Delaware.

Traveling through the base, a poignant moment occurred when we passed the Department of Defense Mortuary Service Command. This hallowed facility is where all military killed in action first return to American soil. Please remember the sacrifices of these brave heroes, and their surviving families, come Memorial Day.

The RV Park at this military installation is small with only 10 full hookup sites, and it’s located clear on the other side of the runway from the gate…but the spaces are roomy, and beautifully landscaped.

Spent our time here doing some laundry and resupplying the pantry from the base commissary, followed by an entertaining evening watching military aircraft departing to or arriving from parts unknown…goodnight.

 

Friday, May 11, 2018: Underway at 1050 hours for the short haul into the town of Springfield, Pennsylvania which lies just west of Philadelphia, and the home of cousin Mary Kate…where we will be dooryard surfing for the next few days.

That evening, as we customarily do, Kit and I treated or dooryard host to a meal out at one of their favorite local spots…this year they choose Nick’s Roast Beef Restaurant.

A neighborhood joint that specializes in local brews and all things roast beef.

Their signature sandwich was delicious, but the side of “Gravy Fries” were incredible! If you like Roast Beef, you’ll love Nick’s! Then, with full bellies, we returned to the camper…looking forward to a fun family weekend ahead!

Saturday, May 12 and Sunday, May 13, 2018-Springfield, Pennsylvania: My mother’s side of the family is so large, numbering over 50 folks, that Mary Kate had to organize a two-day reunion so most everyone could attend at some point. The entourage was led by the family patriarch, my Uncle Don, who is my mother’s younger brother.

A large, close knit, Irish Catholic family, they love to get together and party at the slightest provocation…and even though it was Mother’s Day Weekend, we were able to visit with most everyone in town! What transpired was basically a two-day party with family members gathering for food, fun, and frivolity.

Folks we enjoyed seeing during our all too brief stay in the area included cousin Don and Pat.

By the way, the Mars Rover that Don had a hand in developing is still roving about the red planet. Accompanying Don and Pat were one of their offspring, Sarah…shown with her boyfriend Jonah.

The two of them work for NavSea Philly in the Naval Foundry and Propeller Center…while working for Lockheed on the Navy’s newest ships, I always wondered where those props came from.

Then there were Cousin Anne and Buck with Alli, Kevin, Megan and Tim.

A fun-loving family with professional acting and musical accomplishments to their credit, this versatile and talented group enjoys entertaining.

Also, Cousin Joe and Dolores with newly married daughter Veronica and son Ryan.

Joe has been our go-to resource for quirky attractions and offbeat places to explore in the region…a road-trip pied piper, he is usually accompanied by other members of the extended Philly family.

Then cousin Mark and Ruth with college student Katie and son Stephen.

Readers may remember several years ago when Kit and I travelled with Marvelous Monkey, which was a school project of Stephen’s to see how far the students favorite stuffed animal could roam. Also, you may recall that Katie was instrumental in helping to locate a long-lost gravesite of my mom’s birth mother.

Cousin John and Denise with their offspring Neil and Owen, along with his girlfriend Maggie were able to attend.

The two boys are budding film producers with a few high school and college film credits on their resumes…look for them to be in Hollywood soon. Their daughter, Erin Marie was unable to attend due to her teaching job in Kentucky.

Next, our consummate hosts during the stay…cousin Mary Kate with daughter Alora and sons Jack and Jimmy with resident pooch Gidget.

Alora’s longtime boyfriend Ricky was able to spend time with us as well.

Alora recently graduated with a PhD. in Occupational Therapy and will soon be pressed into service caring for us aging baby boomers.

And the youngest cousin, Matthew, was celebrating his 42nd birthday!

An inspirational and loving young man, Matthew lives nearby with other challenged adults and is always included in family gatherings…Happy Birthday Matt!

And representing my departed Aunt Joan (my mom’s sister) and Uncle Jack’s family were cousin Barbara and husband Jason.

Always fun to see Barb, and Jason is restoring a vintage motor scooter, so he and I had a nice “gearhead” discussion!

Also, from that side of the family, cousin Jane and husband Larry were able to stop by.

We enjoyed visiting with these folks who are currently expecting a new grandchild.

Well, Kit and I had a great time in Springfield…thanks again Mary Kate for your hospitality!  Tomorrow we’re back on the road as we have a very important function to attend in the Large MacIntosh…stay tuned for the final episode of Bill and Kit’s 2018 Excellent Adventure.

 

Kit’s Bit’s: As usual, I thoroughly enjoyed visiting with the Byrnes Family. My mission this time was to learn the “order” of all the cousins, which I was able to accomplish, with their help, of course. So, here goes: on the Byrnes side, Donny, Anne, Joe Byrnes, Billy, Mark, John, MaryKate & Matthew. On the Morrissey side: Patty Ann, Jackie, Barbara & Jane. We always enjoy our time visiting with the cousins and their families! Thank you, MaryKate for hosting us.