Go Fetch It Chapter 6

image0011The Bill and Kit Go
Fetch It Trip (Maine to Minnesota and Back)-Chapter Six

The End of the
Road………For Now.

Thursday, October 9, 2008:

Heading towards Maine this morning. But not before stopping at the CP Dudley Store in East Montpelier: 

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Dudley’s was the store we shopped at when we lived in the area 28 years ago as it had virtually everything:

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We then drove up into Barre Town to see our old place which pretty much looked the same:

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Decided to head up Route 2, through St. Johnsbury, across the top of New Hampshire and into Maine. The ride was very pleasant and picturesque. Traffic was light and everyone behind us waited patiently until we could pull to the right and let them pass. Did not get that courtesy in the bigger cities.

Found gas for $3.17/Gal in Plainfield, VT. In the middle of nowhere!? It has to cost more to get the gas to little Plainfield then larger towns. Don’t understand it.

Crossed into Maine mid day and then enjoyed the ride through Rumford, Bethel, and Oxford on the way to visit our friends Don and Jane at the Freeport KOA. We spent a few hours enjoying their hospitality and seeing their new RV.

Arrived back home at 7:00 PM. It was good to see Kimber and Joe when we got home. We surprised them, coming home a day earlier than they expected. They managed just fine without us and continued on with their super busy lives and schedules. We need to see Joe T. and Crew soon, too…..

After three weeks on the road living the RV lifestyle we believe we made the right retirement decision. Traveling about the countryside in a 12 MPG truck pulling our shelter and worldly belongings does not make economic sense. However we believe it is the right choice for us at this stage of our lives. This is a 20 year dream and although we may regret this decision due to the tough economic times we believe we would regret it more if we did not fulfill our retirement dreams and instead just hunkered down in Brunswick.

Next trip…..south, then west…..then?????

Love, Bill-Dad-Poppy and Kit-Mom-Guma

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Go Fetch It Chapter 5

image0011The Bill and Kit Go

Fetch It Trip (Maine to Minnesota and Back)-Chapter Five

Wednesday, October 8, 2008:

Set a course for Burlington VT. No particular reason, just wanted to see the eastern shore of Lake Champlain and see how Burlington had changed during the past 22 years. We lived in Barre, Vermont for 5 years before moving to Maine in 1985 and shopped frequently in Burlington.

Took a detour back into NY when I spotted a sign for Whitehall, NY. Just had to make a pilgrimage for obvious reasons:

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Nice little town but didn’t spend enough time to see enough of it…..we will have to return.

Crossed back into Vermont and went over the Batten Kill River…..supposed to be world class fishing then stopped at a farm stand for freshly made muffins and an apple pie.

Kit’s turn…..We popped in (after a couple of phone calls) on our good friends Bob & Fay Gallant in Woodbury, VT. It’s always great to see them, Fay fixed a wonderful meal for us and their family Kirk, Kim, Kameron and Katie joined us. We hadn’t seen Kirk since he was a teenager so it was good to visit with him and also to meet Kim. The girls showed us their playrooms, and provided some great entertainment for us. Bob took us on a tour of their property showing us all the changes they’ve made over the last 20 years or so. All in all, it has been a great time.

This is their home nestled in the woods:

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And their family:

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It’s still Wednesday, October 8, 2008 in Woodbury, Vermont-Bob and Fay live on Dog Pond Road. In order to get there Lucy (remember Lucy?) took us on a 9 mile tour of backwoods Vermont along Horn of the Moon Road out of Montpelier. Another shake down (literally) test for the truck, trailer and occupants. We wouldn’t have it any other way…..Interstates are boring, generic and mundane by comparison.

Bob and Fay have a beautiful 24 acre compound that includes a house, barn, trout pond and a nice beach on an incredible lake. Bob said Kit and I could get down to the lake easier if he took us on the mule. A little hesitant but it worked out ok: 

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And what a beautiful lake: 

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As a fellow RV’r, Bob hooked us up with all we needed to spend a very comfortable evening in their dooryard. However his RV intimidated the heck out of ours:

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Love, Bill-Dad-Poppy and Kit-Mom-Guma

Go Fetch It Chapter 4

 

 

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The Bill and Kit Go
Fetch It Trip (Maine to Minnesota and Back)-Chapter Four

Monday, October 6, 2008:

I guess I spoke prematurely yesterday. Day light brought the true character of thiscampground to life. It was a bit quaint, well used and had the feel and look of the proverbial “crazy hermit that lived in the woods” place. Campground guides are a bit like realestate listings. Words like, near by, or rural, or seasoned, or quaint can have vastly different meanings.  This place had a lot of natural beauty but the facilities themselves were pretty run down. And it had one of the highest site fees we’ve paid!? It must be that trickle down economics we’ve heard about…..you trickle down a 10 mile country road….. late on a dark night…..where there is only one campground…. and you pay what they ask. Oh yea, it was called The Happy Hills Campground. I’m sure it’s the moonshine that makes the hills happy.

Much to my chagrin, I forgot to mention that we are traveling with our mascot and faithful companion. He is low maintenance, quiet, and very flexible. A lot of folks travel with tiny dogs but our buddy beats them all:

 

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Note: Made additional mileage readings with our new toy in tow (say that a hundred times real fast!):

Speed | Duration | Truck | Truck with Trailer

55 MPH_10 Min___19.4_____12.5

60 MPH_10 Min___17.7_____11.4

65 MPH_10 Min___16.4_____10.2

70 MPH_10 Min___15.6_____Ugh!

Forgot to mention yesterday that we crossed the Eastern Continental Divide at 2610 feet near Keyser’s Ridge in Maryland. Also since we are trying to travel the “back roads” on the Blue Highways (we need to read that book!), we roll through quite a few small and interesting towns, hamlets and villages (not sure that makes what). The visits have been for the most very pleasant but the roads have been narrow, winding, no shoulders and at times pretty rough. Most stuff in the trailer migrates around to new locations as we rumble along. It’s either that or the Kit puts stuff in different places each day so Bill can play hide and seek with his socks. It doesn’t take much to keep pensioners entertained.

A “tire pressure problem developed on the truck. Somehow, overnight the right rear tire lost 6 PSI. (Maybe the rifle toting good old boy on the confederate flag ATV snuck back and inhaled from it). Anyway I probably would not have noticed except the trucks fancy Driver Information Center (DIC) rats on itself. Don’t ask….GM named it I didn’t. In the past we would have rolled on in ignorant bliss as the tire was self destructing. So I just “had” to get another gadget to solve the problem and put our minds to rest. Using the recently purchased Tire Inflator I brought all eight tires to their proper pressure.

Headed North toward Altoona, Pennsylvania traveling an incredibly picturesque state (blue) highway. Rolled through Picture Rocks, Tivoli, LaPorte and Loyal Sock Creek (Huh?…..Gonna have to look that one up). Pulled in for the night at a KOA in Bellefonte, which is just outside State College, PA. The place should have been called Super Large Expensive Motorhomes With Penn State Logo’s Plastered On Them Ville. I’m not even sure what a Nittany Lion is but we were surrounded by their rolling palaces.

 

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The park was very nice and had a few hiking trails we used to stretch our legs a bit. Well, actually Kit tried to stretch her legs…..mine are long enough already but I accompanied her anyway.

Wondered about the town’s name however. I did notice that all the men and some of the women had long hair and full beards…..I guess they were the town’s namesakes as they sure were hairy.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008- This morning the right rear was low again; I’ll just top it off every morning rather than bother dropping the trailer, pulling the tire and getting it repaired. We are amassing quite a list of “must have” items to ensure safe and comfortable RV traveling. I’m willing to share the list if anyone is interested.

Hit the southern NY border south west of Albany around mid afternoon. We stopped at a Good Sam campground, Lake Lauderdale very near the Vermont border. The couple has owned it since 1987 and winter over in their own “park model” style trailer. They were in their 60’s and seemed like hardy folks. The road to the place was once again, narrow and twisty. I guess our decision to stay off the interstates will likely force us into these smaller, backwoods campgrounds. Which is OK by us.

An unplanned treat (actually very little of this trip has been planned) is traveling through the foliage band as it creeps south. The weather has been clear and crisp with temperatures in the upper 50’s. Views from the many high elevations are quintessential New England. Pastoral valleys nestling quaint village surrounded by bright yellow, orange and red foliage.

Love, Bill-Dad-Poppy and Kit-Mom-Guma

Go Fetch It Chapter 3

image0015The Bill and Kit Go Fetch It Trip (Maine to Minnesota and Back)-Chapter Three

Friday, October 3, 2008:

We headed toward Indianapolis to fulfill one of Bill’s Life List (Bucket List) items. Spent 3 hours at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, toured the track, garage and infield area then visited the museum which is in the infield. Very nice tour; was able to see many historic race vehicles from the Indy 500 and the Brickyard 400. A true motorheads dream come true.

The most interesting car was this 1903 Premier.

1903 Premier

1903 Premier

It had a 923 CID engine with 100 HP at 1000 RPM. The only problem was that it exceeded the maximum weight by 300 pounds so the race team drilled 470 holes (look closely) and they were still overweight so disqualified. It did run a few practice laps however circling the track at 59 MPH. Skinny tires on wooden wheels and no seat belts or helmets. It did carry a race mechanic which explains the second seat.

Kathy spent the time knitting in the trailer in the parking lot.

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We enjoyed our short stay in the Indianapolis, and then continued southeast towards Athens, Ohio. We made it as far as Lancaster, OH which is about an hour away from Athens. We arrived at around 9:PM and a good old, bib overall wearing, boy by the name of J.O. helped us to a site in the pitch black of night and even helped us set up. He then registered us at our site and loaned us an electrical connection called a “dog bone” so we could hook up to the 50 amp circuit. The park is called Lakeview RV Park and is a private campground alongside a picturesque lake. We met some nice folks there; a lot of them were seasonal campers. Do to all the visiting we didn’t leave campground until noon.

Lakeview RV Park

Lakeview RV Park

Saturday, October 04, 2008-Arrived in Athens, Ohio around 1:30PM at the daughter of an old friend and neighbor, Zo King. Zo is in an adult care home in the area and her daughter, Amy had arranged for us to visit her in their home.

Kit’s turn…..Putting my full trust (against my better judgment, I might add) in the new GPS, aka Lucy, she took us through many back roads, some which were gravel, to the road where Amy King and family live! Since their home is well into the countryside, I was amazed how close Lucy got us. Finally, I had to eat my words – and, admit that buying the GPS was a good decision. We are still learning to program it, sometimes with some funny results. All in all though, I’m glad we have it. Plus, not having to fight with maps while riding down the road is a huge relief!

While Bill was visiting with her husband John, Amy and I went to pick up Zo from where she lives, not too far away. Keep in mind, Amy knows the roads like the back of her hand – to me though, it was a half hour roller coaster ride!! Up and down and round the bend, I was a bit intimidated but relieved when we drove up to Zo’s home. We brought her back to Amy’s house to visit for the afternoon. We had a wonderful visit, it was great to see Zo and Amy and meet John and their daughters Alden and Ryan. Alden had just returned from a college visit to Oberlin and Ryan was heading to her Homecoming Dance.

Zo and Kathy

Zo and Kathy

Bill’s back-John and Amy live on 70 acres in a beautiful valley in the Appalachian Hills of Eastern Ohio. Even though John is a political science professor at Ohio University you can quickly tell his first love is living off the land in the country. They are pretty well self sufficient even having their own small natural gas and oil well. The gas flows at 100psi into there home and barn for heating, cooking and if need be for light. The oil is hand pumped up 1800 feet and stored in a tank and sold to a local dealer.

John, a political science professor at Ohio University - living off the land

John, a political science professor at Ohio University - living off the land

In addition they have a large garden and a farm pond full of bass and sunfish and raise a lot of there own beef and pork. It was very interesting to visit with them and see their place.

Oh yea, the weather was clear, calm and in the mid 70’s.

From there, we headed south to a little town called Coolville, OH. It was a very small town but we were intrigued by the name. Learning from our misfortune in Normal, IL we picked out the coolest local and said…..”Wuz up, homey? Got a crib we can crash at”? The fella said….”Huh, you guys didn’t get into Normal Illinois either, did you”? I guess he was one of the few dorks in Coolville, Ohio.

So we stayed at a real neat campground in Carthage Gap. The couple who own it are very nice and we spent some time visiting with them. Next to the camp entrance was the road to Deep Hollow.

Deep Hollow is a small Appalachian enclave of a few dozen hearty pistol carrying folks. They live at the bottom of a steep seven mile road in a dark hollow by the Ohio River. Local legend has it that their family tree looks like a telephone pole. We were advised not to go down there.

Sunday, October 5, 2008-Lounging around the campsite this morning before pulling up stakes and heading into West Virginia. No particular destination in mind; just meandering basically northwest heading for points unknown. The hills and valleys of West Virginia and Northwestern Maryland are truly breathtaking! Not unlike upper New England except a lot less pine trees and the mountains run about 3000 feet. As with most places we have traveled through the past few weeks we could spend a lot more time exploring this area.

Stopped for the night in Hancock Maryland at another very nice private campsite way, way, way back in the woods. Traveling along a narrow country road that wasn’t on the GPS we rolled past the entrance. Apparently that is a common occurrence as someone cleared out of the woods a very large turn around so we could reverse direction. Turning into the campground entrance was a leap in faith as it looked like a dark cave. The trucks headlights and fog lights barley penetrated the darkness. Kit thinks she may have actually seen some shrunken heads hanging from the roadside trees. We arrived after the owners had gone off to attend to their Halloween Haunted House so a couple of local fellows on ATV’s showed us where we could set up. They were on ATV’s and one was painted up to resemble a confederate flag. We expected to see a moonshine still somewhere. Again a lot of permanently set up and winter ready trailers. Not sure if these are folks primary homes or camps like we have in Maine. Everyone has been friendly, helpful and very interesting to talk to. One does not have to travel overseas to meet foreign and unusual indigenous folks.

Kit’s turn……This town is right between PA, WV and MD. PA is north of here, we are actually in MD and WV is on either side of us. It was definitely a ride into the boonies, a long ride at that but we had some company right behind us. Both of us pulled into the campground at the same time and have set up camp next to each other. It’s 8:30 pm. We seem to be getting on the road later and later and setting up camp later each night. Hmmmmm… we need to modify our routine a bit. Setting up camp is much easier when it’s still light outside.

We are discovering that the mom and pop owned campgrounds are as nice as the chain ones but generally are cheaper, have more character and are located in some truly beautiful locations.

Not sure when we will be home. Kind of getting real used to this lifestyle.

Love, Bill-Dad-Poppy and Kit-Mom-Guma

 

Go Fetch It Chapter 2

 image0014The Bill and Kit Go Fetch It Trip (Maine to Minnesota and Back)-Chapter Two

Monday, September 29, 2008:

Took the Arctic Fox back to the dealer for some minor warranty work and to readjust the hitch for safe towing which is a BIG deal to me. Ended up spending 3 hours there as the mechanic realized that our truck was capable of towing 10,500 pounds and the hitch system he normally installs for this model trailer is a 6000 pound version. After checking the weight bias and learning “we” will be bringing some very “necessary” equipment on our travels he upgraded us to the 12,000 pound model. No extra charge…..very nice and competent sales and service staff. Following a final stop at Culvers Restaurant (our third this week) we were off to cousin Billy’s. If you are ever in this area of the country you must stop at Culvers. The best burgers I’ve tasted…..even beats out “In and Out Burger” out west!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008:

Kit’s turn…Spent a couple of days with my cousin Billy and his wife Char. They were kind enough to allow us to park the camper alongside their garage on a concrete pad and provide us with electricity and water. Works great!

Billy and his wife Char

Billy and his wife Char's Residence

Billy took us down to Pepin, Wisconsin to see my mom’s cousin Wilma who is 87 and still going strong. She has lived in the same house she was born in so had many stories and antics to share with us. We were very happy to see one another and she wanted us to stay longer. Billy and Char check on her periodically and take care of things for her when needed.

Afterwards, Billy took us on a tour of Hudson where he and my mom grew up. We got to see his childhood home as well as my mom’s childhood home. I had lived there for a few months when I was 10 years old so it was nice to see my Grandma’s house again. We also went to the cemetery to visit our family gravesites.

Hudson is the home of the world famous “Crutch Fence”:

Hudson - Home of the world famous Crutch Fence

Hudson - Home of the world famous Crutch Fence

There sure are a lot of folks in Hudson, Wisconsin hobbling about!?

We all went to Applebee’s for dinner afterwards, then spent a couple of hours going through family pictures. We brought some home to scan and put on a CD to share with family. Overall had a nice 9 days in the Twin Cities.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008:

On the road south, it’s getting cold in Minnesota! We were on our way to Davenport, Iowa but we would have arrived late and didn’t want to sleep on a couch…..sorry. Much to our chagrin, we missed seeing the “Worlds Largest Frying Pan” in LaPorte, IA. Oh well, one has to leave something for the next time through.

The roads are good, the traffic light and the weather was clear and getting warmer. Gas is still relatively cheap with 10% to 20% of corn based bio-fuel in the mix. The truck seems to tolerate the stuff just fine but the MPG appears to be suffering. However that could be due to its tugging our 22 foot home along. Filled up today at $3.28/Gal. We stayed at a nice new campground in Urbana, Iowa where Kit found the perfect road to set up for the night.

Campground in Urbana, Iowa

Campground in Urbana, Iowa

The RV Park was carved out of a corn field so “since they built it….we came”….sorry.

Field of Dreams?

Field of Dreams?

Only made 220 miles due to a late start out of Blaine, MN. For some reason we are not in a big hurry then we travel anymore. Um……lets see…..we have no particular place to be and no particular time to be there. Gotta love the retired life.

Thursday, October 2, 2008:

Headed East through Illinois and thought about stopping at Normal, IL but they wouldn’t let us in the town for some reason…..sorry. So we pushed on into Crawfordsville, Indiana staying in another KOA. Once again mentioning Don’s name gave NO DISCOUNT! A nice heavily wooded campground with very nice facilities however.

I should mention that the trailer is a dream to tow. I hardly notice it is there. I guess the decision to haul a small trailer with a big truck is bearing fruit. Haven’t formally checked the fuel economy yet but it appears to be in the 12 MPG range. The proportional brake controller brings the rig to a smooth and confident stop. And the sway control, a BIG deal to me, is working perfectly. Many large trucks zoomed past us and nary was a bobble felt. Now if I can keep the shiny side up everything will be bliss in Trailer Towing Ville.

Stay tuned for tales of further adventures,

Bill/Dad/Poppy and Kit/Mom/Guma

Go Fetch It Chapter 1

 image0013The Bill and Kit Go Fetch It Trip (Maine to Minnesota and back)-Chapter one

Friday, September 19, 2008:

Left Maine at 0900 stopping in Falmouth for some grooming and continued on by taking the Mass Pike to the NY Thruway stopping for the night at a Hampton Inn in Utica NY. Received a super good military discount of 50% off and the desk clerk set us up in a deluxe room with a large hot tub next to the king sized bed. Mileage for the day was only 396 due to the late start. Weather has been great (70’s and clear) and the traffic and road conditions have been very good.

Saturday, September 20, 2008:

Made it through NY, PA, OH and into Indiana where we stopped for the night at another Hampton Inn in Freemont. Again received a pretty decent military discount. So far the military discount has been better than AARP. In addition the various desk clerks ask questions about ones service and this guy even said “thanks for serving”. Pretty cool; a lot different than during the Viet Nam era. Another great day, weather wise, however as soon as we passed from Pennsylvania into Ohio the roads turned to crap. We did make 576 miles today.

Sunday, September 21, 2008:

Big Day for lifelong RV fans; we decided to make a pilgrimage to the National RV Museum and Hall of Fame. We wanted to see the history of our recently renewed activity and pay homage to those who have gone before us. But wait…..its closed on Sundays…..bummer! Oh well, we will catch it on the return trip. Weather good, roads good, traffic good…..until we neared Chicago. Pretty congested and everyone is going 70+ MPH, even on Sunday!? We finally escaped into Wisconsin and stopped for lunch in Madison in honor of Frank Slinger. Ate at a neat place called Erin’s Snug Irish Pub. Arrived at our destination of Maple Grove, Minn-e-so-ta in the early evening and stayed at a Holiday Inn. Discount OK but not as good as the two previous nights. Another high mileage day-592.

Note: While in Indiana we performed a mileage check of the truck since the roads were flat, there was very little traffic with no wind and there is a nifty AVG MPG readout in the dash which has proven pretty accurate. Below are the results:

Speed Duration MPG

55 MPH 10 Min. 19.4

60 MPH 10 Min. 17.7

65 MPH 10 Min. 16.4

70 MPH 10 Min. 15.6

Pretty neat, huh? I guess it is true that for large profile vehicles the frontal area wind resistance plays a huge factor in fuel economy.

Monday, September 22, 2008:

Picked up our RV. See the “Happy Campers”:

Happy Camper

Happy Campers

And moved to the local KOA in honor of Don Fellows. Don, I told the proprietors that I personally knew you but….no discount!? They did give us a military discount however! Man it’s great to be a veteran in this day and age!! So far the trailer is working out great and all the systems and equipment are checking out ok. We will stay here for a few days to insure there are not any warranty work needs and to visit family that live in the area. There are a bunch of huge trailers and motorhomes near us making for a David vs Goliath feeling. However we were moved up the food chain a bit by a couple traveling with their dog that pulled in with this:

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Now we don’t feel so tiny!image0073

Tuesday, September 23, 2008:

Off to Wal*Mart, Target, Rainbow Foods, and Menards to outfit “Kit’s Doll House”. We proceeded to get “way lost” when our GPS and Navigator let the map fly out the open truck window and it took a while to find our way back to the KOA. In the afternoon we visited with my dad and his friend Henrietta:

Bill's Dad and his friend Henrietta

Kathy and Bill with Bill's Dad

He is doing well, we had a nice visit and he loaded us up with some family stuff which I gladly took. And……on the way there…..we got lost…..AGAIN! This time the GPS and Navigation system got into a bit of an argument with the driver so it was time to upgrade. Off to Best Buy for an electronic GPS and Navigator system (Garmin Nuvi 260W). Life is good in Bill & Kit Ville again.

Sept. 28th, 2008:

My turn….

Just for the record, I knew instantly, when we discovered that Grandpa Tucker had just bought a GPS the day before we arrived, that Pop would NEED one!! Actually, Mr. Gadgetfreak is having lots of fun with his new toy. And, now I can view the scenery without having to wrestle with the paper map!

At this very moment, Mr. Gadgetfreak is monitoring the big motorhome with a truck full of “toys” get hitched up to leave the campground.

We have been to visit Grandpa Tucker and Henrietta twice now, both times very enjoyable. Grandpa gave Pop a lot of family things and Henrietta shared her beautiful quilting treasures with me.

We have also visited Uncle Howard and Aunt Vi and their two sons, Dave and Mark. We also met Michael, Mark’s son who will be 9 years old on Oct. 8th. A very delightful little boy. He enjoys playing with his Legos while visiting with the old folks. The first time we were there, we were invited to dinner in the dining room at the Eagle Crest Home, where they live. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and are very happy Uncle Howard and Aunt Vi live in such a lovely place with many nice residents and activities. The second time we visited, they took us to a local restaurant for lunch which was very nice.

Uncle Howard and Aunt Vi

Uncle Howard and Aunt Vi and their two sons, Dave and Mark.

This is a great area; we would love to spend a couple of months here to explore. Since we just picked up the trailer, we have needed to purchase a few things to operate a mini household. Many things were brought from home but little by little, we discover things we need. A few trips to Walmart and Target have sufficed.

Today, we plan to hang out around the campground, get some laundry done and begin to pack things up. We’re heading back to the camper dealership tomorrow morning for a minor tune-up, and will then head over to Cousin Billy and Char’s place in Blaine, MN which is just north of the Twin Cities.

I’m back-guess what? We haven’t gotten lost once since Tuesday. This gadget is really cool. However what one puts in is what one gets. I entered the address for Aunt Vi and the gadget spoke with a soft female voice guiding us the proper address. However upon arrival the female voice announced that we had arrived at “Virgin Islands”. Good thing we weren’t going to visit Uncle Hugh Jass…..OK, say it out loud…..sorry.

Oh, yea…..filled the gas tank in the truck today…..$3.39 per gallon. Not bad, eh?

Stay tuned for Chapter #2  . . .

Love, Bill-Dad-Poppy and Kit-Mom-Guma (retired navigator)