Monday, September 9, 2013

The Final Days - 81 to 89 Family Time

To see earlier posts, click on the arrows beside the dates under Archives 

Sunday, Sept 1st - Monday Sept 9th

The following week flew by.  I helped my daughter around the house, we went shopping, and I finalized the details of the shower.
The Motorcycle Diaper Cake and Baby Carriage fruit salad I made
for my daughter's Baby Shower

I also got to know this wonderful man that she married. I never thought she would meet and fall in love with someone I deemed worthy of her, but this man far exceeds my criteria for "perfect husband".  Thank goodness !

Laura enjoying her special day
Living in Florida, I don't get to spend the time with my daughters that I would like ( even though one lives just an hour away, her busy work/school schedule doesn't leave much time for "Mom" ), so this unexpected stay was really a treat.  I guess I will have to adopt a new strategy of  forcing myself on my other daughter since this worked out so well! 

The Baby Shower, which was held at my ex-house, by my ex-husband and his wife, went really well.  There were about 60 people, both men and woman in attendance- many of them from out of state. Did I feel awkward?  Not at all!  We all get along very well, and Patti, the hostess, is extremely gracious. 

Laura and Mike cutting the Wedding Cake.
The shower started with partaking of a huge selection of finger food, while Laura tackled the mountain of gifts. As the afternoon faded, an incredible buffet was served featuring both Greek and Italian foods (with the exception of the fried clams from Essex, Ma ) in honor of both their nationalities.  

It was so great to see and catch up with all the relatives from my ex-husband's side of the family that I had not seen in many years! 

Tuesday, Sept 9th 2013  

Norm has been back in Florida for several days and has been working very hard to get the house back up and running.  His trip was uneventful, driving the distance in 3 days, stopping only for gas and a quick lunch during the day. 

My daughter brought me to the airport, and thankfully, since I know I will be back in a couple of months, not too many tears were shed.  ( She was probably glad to get back to her "honeymoon"  that I so rudely interrupted ). 

I guess this is the end of my great Summer of 2013 Adventure!  I still am not ready for it to end.  I love The Villages Retirement Community, but it is really wonderful out there in the "RV world ".  Traveling around, seeing and experiencing such unique places, while meeting so many fascinating people.  Each day was all about "fun and adventure", and best of all- house cleaning a 200 square foot home takes only a couple of minutes!  What's not to love? 

We had a marvelous time, once again.  Total miles driven in the RV - 5,500     
Total in the car ( not counting miles towed ) ...... will answer that after it gets driven home from Boston.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Days 79-82 Salem Witches, and Septic Woes

Thursday, August 29th, and Friday 30th

When we passed through Massachusetts on the way north, we decided to make reservations for Labor Day weekend at a totally different kind of place. Much like Walmart parking lot camping, ( which we have not yet tried ) only better.  Much better, for a "parking lot ".
The view from front of RV.  Can't get much better than this!

Here at the municipal park on Winter Island, in Salem Massachusetts, the most sought after RV campsite were, of all places, in the parking lot!  But oh, this acre of asphalt was right on the water, with the welcome addition of 50 amp electrical service and water!  How lovely to sit inside or out, and watch the boats sail by. So relaxing!

Salem, a city known for it's haunted happenings and Witch trials, is very near my daughter and her husband ( I love the sound of that - "her husband") and close proximity to my hometown and old friends and relatives. There is so much I want to see and do here while we wait for my daughter's baby shower in 10 days.

View from the side window
Because we were not sure we would enjoy this type of "campground", we made reservations here only for the long weekend.  We soon wished we had booked for the week, but of course, they were now all reserved.

Such a nice setting to wrap 50 baby shower "favors"
That night we noticed that the sewer holding tank was showing full, when we had just emptied it the day before.  Norm and I looked at each other suspiciously, wondering if the other could have possibly filled 45 gallons worth of septic "stuff ".  When we assumed it was not humanly possible ( we hadn't eaten THAT much fiber )we decided not to use our lovely private bathroom, and to use  the public facilities that night. The next day we planned to go down the road to the dump station and try to figure out what is going on. Hopefully it just needs a good cleaning.

Saturday, August 30th 

This section may be of more interest to fellow RV'ers  ( or perhaps maybe not )

The first order of business was to find out why the holding tank is having "issues".  We packed up, pulled in the slides, put up the jacks, and headed down the road a short way to the public septic dumping station.

Norm did his usual duties of dumping the tank ( which he does so well ).  When we saw that it was still reading semi-full, we decided to bring a hose in through the window and rinse the tank from the top end.

We did this a couple of times, ensuring nothing would be "stuck" on the sides or the gauge. Know the expression " third time a charm?"  well, it wasn't too charming, trust me.  Norm pulled the handle to release what was now a full tank of water, and Swoosh! Something gave way and all the water ( thank God it was now clean , well, pretty clean ) came out from everywhere!  A pipe up in behind must have come loose!  Now what!???

We brought it back to the campsite and as I was making phone calls to authorized Winnebago dealers, trying to find someplace to take it.  The only place I could find whose service department was open on a long weekend was in New Hampshire.  Not so far away.  Heck, we are talking the major convenience of inside plumbing here! ( boy, have we come a long way getting spoiled ).

A very knowledgeable tech said it could be either - just a pulled pipe, which could take a day or two OR a cracked tank which would likely take a month and a half!  While I was making these calls, Norm was out with a neighboring RVer seeing if it was something a "manly man" could fix.
They deduced it was too hard to get behind there to even see what had to be done. Darn!

End of info that might just be "too much information ".

That night, we kept our plans to have my daughter and her husband, and my cousin Kathy and her husband come to dinner.  We all had a great time getting to know each other after so many years. Kathy and I vowed to see each other more often, and at occasions other than funerals.

Sunday, Sept 1st

After spending the night without a bathroom, we realized just how spoiled we have become!  We checked to see exactly where we are staying over the next couple of weeks, and how far from our campsite  the public toilets are going to be.

Wow.  Our desire to be as far away from them as possible for the sake of the lights and noise has suddenly backfired!  I get really nervous truging off in the middle of the night to find the ladies room.  You never know what sort of beast ( animal OR human ) might be lurking.  At my age and conditioning, let's face it - I won't outrun them!

Norman said he really wanted to take the RV back to Florida for repair, and the sooner the better in case it started to smell.  Can you imagine?  I personally think he didn't want to hang around Boston for another 10 days waiting for a Baby Shower being held at my ex-husband's house. That's OK, I don't blame him.

The problem was that this is the Sunday of Labor Day Weekend, and the traffic on Monday could be horrendous from Boston to DC.  He wanted to leave immediately!  
Norm heading back to Florida from Boston all by himself!  I felt so bereft staying behind!

We decided to leave me with the tow car so I would have transportation both now and when my daughter's baby is born in November. I finally got in touch with my daughter to ask if I could stay with the "newlyweds".

Once we got the OK from them, Norm was on the way within the hour. My head was spinning.

As I watched him drive down the road, I was overcome by grief.  I didn't want this adventure to end yet!  I also was really having second thoughts about leaving me with the car.  Would I really have to drive this crappy car all the way to Florida? It will take me a week!  It is much more pleasant dragging it behind the motorhome, while I sit happily killing time on the internet.   I came very close to calling him and having him pull over and wait for me!  The only trouble with that scenario, is that we would get home about Wednesday or Thursday, and I would have to fly back to Boston on Friday for the baby shower. It really didn't make a lot of sense.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Days 73 -79 Technology Hell

August 23rd - 29th 2013

We moved from Cape Cod back to Minuteman Campgound in Littleton, Ma one of our favorite places to stay in the Boston area.  You never know what site you are going to get there, some are better than others. This time we had one of the best!  Behind us was the woods, the lot was flat and quite roomy.  Plus, we had the bonus of a campfire!

Our lovely wooded site.  Mosquitoes and all!

We quickly were reminded of the huge and hungry mosquitoes here, and the TV news reported West Nile Virus in the area ( a mosquito borne illness ).  Since we really didn't need the threat of disease to dissuade us from quenching the thirst of these miniature vampires, we unfortunately spent the evenings mostly inside.

On Sunday we went kayaking with Norm's daughter, Jackie, on the western portion of the Charles River.  It was a beautiful day, and we had a great time.  It was so good to spend
"quality time " with her.  At one point we were near the local shooting range, and it was rather nerve-wracking; hoping some stray bullet didn't venture our way. I don't know how soldiers do it.

Wow!  Our first "rapid"!  We are soooo brave! ( not!)
Norm and I on a portion of Boston's
 Charles River

We went back to the house, and had dinner with Jackie and her husband ( just married June 1st if you remember ).  We looked at all her wonderful wedding photos, and enjoyed once again, an incredible meal! Joel is quite the master of the grill. 

Over the last last couple of months, things had been going pretty smoothly.  All the technical problems we had early on pretty much mysteriously solved themselves. Not a lot of play time was lost speaking with technical people from far away places, struggling to understand what we think might be the English language.

All that was about to change. 

Apple store in Nashua, NH
We discovered my iPad was using an incredible amount of data, without my even having it with me! After arguing with Verizon that I was NOT streaming movies day after day,  I took advantage of the nearby Apple Store, and set out to find why this was happening.

Norman stayed back at the campground and did a few maintenance things.

After nearly 8 hours of help, the Apple folks realized my iPad was sending out data all by itself! They could not believe it! It was "possessed"!

Thankfully it was under warranty, so they gave me a brand new one, and I went happily, albeit tired and brain fried, on my way.

I returned to the RV to find that Norman was having problems of his own with his computer.  He had spent the better part of the day with” Hamid” in India.

That was just the beginning.  Norm spent  2 ½ days, around the clock, ( enduring many shift changes ) with Best Buy’s Geek Squad ( and other technicians doing a poor imitation of the English language ) inside his computer trying to figure out why it was crashing.

While Norm patiently waited for the departure of the technicians who had taken up what seemed like permanent residence inside his computer, I went to my daughter’s mother-in-law’s so we could work on the plans for the Baby Shower.  One project I have been very excited about was making a motorcycle Diaper Cake for the shower.  ( Both she and my son-in-law are motorcycle instructors ). It took more time than I thought, so I finished the diaper cake back at the campsite.

The wheels are diapers, handlebars and the thing his feet are on are
receiving blankes, the headlight is a baby bottle, a pair of socks on the

handlebars, and of course the fenders are bibs! You can do anything
with YouTube!  Even in the middle of a forest!
A few weeks back, I had spent hours shopping on line for the various items needed.  Finding the perfect animal for the “rider” was very difficult to do on the world-wide-web.

 Without being able to touch and feel, I just could not make the decision!   I was up till the wee hours of the morning searching for that sweet-faced, adorable animal that looked like a potential “biker”.

One morning I called the Gund factory ( my favorite stuffed animal manufacturer ) and asked them to take various measurements;  Butt to head, length of leg.

 After the really nice girl in customer service looked online at the motorcycle diaper-cake I was about to make, she got really into it, and went to search out the best character!

 Norman could not understand how I could take so much time trying to decide on "a damn bear".  I finally chose " Sophie " the bear, and arranged for shipment.

I got together with Laura's Mother-in-law, Bev, and we worked on the baby shower arrangements and started to put together the diaper cake.  I finished it back at the campground.  Cute, eh?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Days 69-74 off to Cape Cod, Massachusetts

August 19th -23rd, 2013

I have not had a moment to concentrate on updating this blog!  But I will try to catch up now.

My daughter's wedding day came and went all too quickly, and every time I think back over the ceremony, I get teary-eyed!  

Oh, to be young, to be so very much in love, and to have a baby on the way!  It makes me so very happy to know my daughter has a life ahead of her with an incredibly loving and caring man!

Will I stop worrying about my fully grown "little one"?  Probably not.  Will I give my opinion when it was not requested? Probably.  Do I already love this unborn person? Unbelievably so!

Well, enough of that nauseating banter.  Let me tell you what has been going on in the last few weeks.....

The day after the "Wedding Weekend", we moved the RV to Cape Cod, Massachusetts to  Dunroamin Trailerpark in Sandwich.  The campsites themselves were very nice.  Roomy enough, with nearly complete privacy between sites, which is a much appreciated rarity.

 Getting to said site was another matter, however.  The roads within the campground were so rutted, that even with Norman traveling at a speed that could barely be registered, our beloved home on wheels pitched violently from left to right causing cabinets to open and contents to crash to the floor!  We had vowed to avoid campgrounds with roads like this, but how could we know?  We hoped there was no permanent damage to the body or internal parts as a result.

Over the next couple of days, Norman patiently either waited or accompanied me as I did many errands collecting needed items for the Baby Shower that would be held in a couple of weeks.

A lobster roll of gigantic proportions!  No filler, and this
meat is not only flowing over the top, but stuffed down
inside this roll.

A highlight ( for me ) was to go for a lobster roll at the Raw Bar in Mashpee, Ma.  We had discovered this place a few years ago after watching the Phantom Gourmet  do a review on TV about the "best lobster roll in New England".  We were so happy to learn that the most highly reviewed roll was literately in our backyard! These succulent delicacies were noted for their lack of fillers and gigantic proportions.  I didn't think they were quite as huge this year, but I am sure they are still the biggest on this planet. Currently still an amazing value at$24.99.
The Raw Bar - a tiny little "hole in the wall" with a
few bar stools and no tables.  But what a business they do!

                                                                    One evening we had friends from The Cape over for dinner that we hadn't seen in years, so we had a great time catching up on each other's lives.

We played nine hole of golf at one of our favorite golf courses: Falmouth Country Club.  It was a positively gorgeous day, and as we walked the course, we talked with a lovely couple who we had invited to join us.  They told us about a bike path we had totally forgotten about, and the best place to park as well as which direction to travel it.

Lobster Compost?  You have got to be kidding!
They sure do like their Crustaceans around here!
We finally got our poor bikes out of "storage" on the back of the RV and had a very nice bike ride
on The Shining Sea Bikeway, named for a line in the song America The Beautiful.  In the 1970's the town of Falmouth purchased the right of way from Old Colony Railroad and tore up the tracks and opened 3.3 mile Shining Sea Bikeway. In 2009, a new 7.4 mile section was added due to a $3.2 million dollar grant ( thank you, everyone ) now making the trail run from North Falmouth to Woods Hole.
Riding by one of Cape Cod's many cranberry bogs

It was a wonderful ride, passing through Sippewissett Marsh, by cranberry bogs, and overlooks of Capaquoit Beach.  The entire route avoids much of Falmouth's notorious summer traffic by winding along the coastline and crisscrossing the Salt Pond Bird Sanctuary.

After our nearly 20 mile ride, we followed our newly developed ( not one I am particularly proud of, but Norm has embraced ) tradition of an ice cream cone.

As our days in Cape Cod come to an end, we look forward to moving back to Minuteman Campground in Littleton, Ma.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Day 66 and 67- The "Big Day"

Friday August 16th 2013

This morning  Norm brought me to Marlbourgh so we could pick up a car rental there.  There will be hundreds of miles driven in the next three days,  so a bigger, more luxurious car would be a treat.  Also, since I will be with my daughter, it will allow Norman some “wheels” to play golf, visit friends, or whatever he would like to do.

My first order of business was to pick up my daughter Laura, and my other daughter who was here from Daytona Beach with her boyfriend for the wedding and go to her gown fitting.  Next was a very important hair appointment for me.  I don’t want to bore you will all the details, but let’s just say there was a lot of last minute running around.

Saturday  August 17th 2013

The big day!   Because my daughter’s wedding is being held clear across the state, I think it was more hectic than usual for the bride.

Laura and her sister had their hair done in the morning, while  Jen’s boyfriend picked up the bridal gown -  finishing at noontime.

We ran home, had lunch, and finished packing, picked up the flowers and took off within the hour.  We arrived at the Orchard Hotel, ( where we were all staying) in Williamstown, Ma  and checked in at 4:15, giving us all 45 minutes to get ready for a wedding!  Not nearly enough time!

After discussing who would ride with whom, we headed for the top of Mt. Greylock only 20 minutes late.  ( I really hate being late, and this disorganized . I was way out of my comfort zone, but I hoped I appeared outwardly calm ).   Well, perhaps my calling  out  “ 10 minutes !” like they do on the cooking challenge shows when she was not even dressed yet, might have incited a little panic among those getting ready) – including me.

 I could not find my dress anywhere, and thought I left it back in Peabody.( we found it hidden under Norm’s garment bag ). 

As we rushed off to the top of the mountain, Norman soon realized we had forgotten the flowers we had left at the front desk!  We quickly rushed back, and resumed our 30 minute drive up an incredibly steep and winding road to the top of Greylock Mountain,  and as we reached the top, I could not believe the view!

Remember this one?  Our view
from the top of a mountain?

 No clouds, no fog, no wind, and with the sun starting to descend, it was simply breathtaking!  I could not believe their luck! How many times have we hiked to the top of a mountain to be greeted with a "white screen" of fog or cloud? More often, than not, I am afraid.

                                   Laura was absolutely stunning, and they made a beautiful couple as they became a family.  Tears of happiness were shed, several toasts were made, and pictures were taken as we happily witnessed this momentous occasion!

Sunday August 19th

The next morning the wedding group met for a lovely
breakfast out on the patio of the hotel before we all headed on our way to our homes.

Unfortunately, I had forgotten my very special pillow back
at Laura's house, so we had to drive an extra hour ( each way ) to pick it up. That long, three hour drive became 5 -
we really appreciated the better car.

Jen and her boyfriend, Phil, joined Norm and I joined the newlyweds as we all enjoyed take-out
pizza.  It was wonderful watching them bask in their post nuptial glow, relieving one of the most important days of their lives.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Days 64 and 65 Return to the good 'ole USA

Wednesday, August 14th

A complete map of our travels while in Canada 2013
The orange dots are places we stayed
Today, with an hour delay at the border, ( US customs agents were boarding EVERY motorhome ) we left Canada behind.  Although I would really like to go back and stay for a while ( or forever ) in Grand Manan Island, there is a big world out there, and we have not seen much of it. The saying  “Life is short” can really put everything  into perspective, so it is not too likely we will be returning.

Going through customs took over an hour as the agents
boarded EVERY RV. I wonder what they were looking for?

Our destination was Pumpkin Patch Campground in Hermon, Maine.  After we arrived I took the car and drove into Bangor to a Verizon store and they helped me change the internet service from Bell Atlantic to Verizon.  The traffic was crazy and I already yearned to retreat to any of those quiet sleepy towns we visited.

When I was at Pumpkin Patch in June, we ate at the little restaurant  there and I had THE BEST seafood chowder I had ever eaten!  I must have had 10 chowders throughout our trip, hoping to have another as delicious.  I have been dreaming of this chowder for more than 6 weeks!  No chowder came close to that epicurious delight, and I could not wait to go back and have it again!   It was absolutely horrible.  It had a heavy layer of butter floating across a chowder consisting of only fish- a lot of it, mind you, but over cooked and no flavor at all!  Gross.  I ate very little of it.  Such a disappointment.

My brother, who lives about 30 miles away, drove up with his friend and we had a wonderful evening, listening to family stories I had never heard before.  Steve is a great story teller.   It is so nice to visit with family. 

Thursday August  15, 2013
Nothing like paying $2.00 less per gallon to
put a smile on a man's face! ( especially when we get 7 MPG )

Today , well yesterday actually, is the beginning of a very busy time.  My daughter’s wedding is in a few days, and there is a lot of loose ends to take care.  As soon as I hit Massachusetts, I will take off running. 

We arrived back in Minuteman Campground in Littleton Mass so this will be our “base camp” for the next 4 days.  I will be staying with my daughter on Friday evening when her fiancĂ© goes to stay with family ( a popular tradition that the groom not see the bride on the big day ), so I packed my things, got organized, and ready to leave in the morning.

Our campsite this time was certainly flat and roomy, but was across from the pool and next to two HUGE propane tanks whose odors I was highly allergic to.  Thank goodness two of the nights I would not be there! 

I ran to the grocery store which was 3 miles away, and the GPS took me on a 30 mile sightseeing adventure during rush hour!  I very nearly threw it into a pond I was passing while driving on a very small, winding back road. The speed limit was only 10 MPH, so I would have had plenty of opportunity to relieve my frustration as I watched it splash! 

We had a quiet evening feeding the mosquitoes as we ate dinner.  We had a campfire for a little while, but were concerned about too much blood loss, so we retreated to the comforts of the RV.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Day 62 and 63 St Andrews and Mission Island

Monday August 12th, 2013

The forecast was for rain, but thankfully, it turned out to be yet another great day!  Norm and I went to the adorable downtown St. Andrews to check it out for a little while, quickly browsing in a few gift shops and the wharf.
One of several buildings with beautiful murals downtown
St Andrews, New Brunswick

Norm had selected certain golf courses that he really wanted to play, and here in St Andrews is the #1 rated golf course in New Brunswick; Algonquin Golf Course.
Algonquin Golf Course

The green fees were steep, and I no longer enjoy golfing all that much, so I decided to stay home and do a few chores, nap, and go browse the shops at my own pace.

Another mural.This one is a replica of the street.
 Note the way this live hedge blends right into the mural.
exactly where it is, on the building!  So very clever!
  While downtown I had a great time, talking with all sorts of folks, and spent about 45 minutes helping a semi-disabled woman photograph her inventory of Inuit sculptures.  Her husband, who ran the shop, recently passed away and at the end of the summer, she will sell the remainder of her inventory to a dealer.  I liked several of the pieces, but of course, those were several thousand dollars each.  I have nice taste!

After I picked Norm up at the golf course I did 3 loads of laundry, made supper, and called it a day.

Tuesday, August 13 2013

This is our last day of what feels like our “vacation”, although we won’t be back home for almost another month.  We will still be having fun, but I fear the “hustle and bustle” of the Boston area with all the drivers traveling at break-neck speeds and passing you on all sides.  Legal travel in the break-down lane has always freaked me out. After spending 6 weeks in the sparsely populated small towns and back roads of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, we are about to have a culture shock, I am sure.

Mission Island can only be reached at low tide.  People drive across the ocean floor 1/2 mile to reach it.

The barn and dairy building.  They pumped the milk
underground to the dairy building back in the late 1800's.
There is another island here in St Andrews that your can access during low tides by driving ½ mile on the ocean floor, called  Ministers Island.

The island is named after the Loyalist Anglican minister, Revered Samuel Andrews who first settled there in 1786 and whose house still stands. (  barely )

We toured the main house, which was built in the 1890’s. This 12,000 square foot home, constructed out of sandstone cut from the shore, was the summer "cottage" of Canadian Pacific Railway president, Sir William Van Horne. There were 50 rooms - 17 of them

Also built from quarried beach stone was a circular bathhouse where Van Horne would spend hours drawing and painting.  Below was a salt water pool.

 We also toured the barn which once held prize winning Clydesdale Horses and a prized herd of Dutch  Belted Cows. 

The main dining room.

Van Horne produced his own milk and cheese as well as exotic fruit and vegetables, shipping them out at night ( by railway, of course ) to his winter home in Montreal  to ensure year round produce.

Sir William Van Horne painted this border for his
grandson born in 1907 

We spoke with the RV Caravan we met in Cape Breton Island last month from Titusville, Florida.  They were once again staying at the same campground, so it was fun catching up.