We stayed at North Fork RV just outside Front Royal, VA. David and Terry met us there and after time on the coach chatting we went to dinner at the Stonewall Jackson Tavern which was pretty average, although it seemed better than most of the alternatives. We had a great visit with David and Terry, although the beginning was not hopeful as the GPS mislead us and sent us on a wild goose chase that cost almost 30 minutes in getting to the campground. Terry and David were patient, waiting for us and convincing the gate person that we had made a plan with someone on the phone to reserve a space. We would need to see the place in better weather as the site was wet, not quite underwater and quite unlevel. Being in a hurry to set up I left the right front tire hanging in the air with several inches between it and the ground. This made for some sway, even with Carol walking around.
We moved on to Roamers Retreat Campground in Lancaster County for a couple of nights. Dinner at Millers after walking through Roots Market and Auction provided the entertainment as did watching Michael Clayton from Netflix. We were in touch with Mike at Camping World in Churchville and Ron at Colton’s RV in Niagara Falls. Ron won as he had the Phaeton we were interested in on the lot. Mike was still waiting for the Journey to arrive from someplace. We are camping in Colton’s lot for a couple of nights. We spent an hour or so walking through the Phaeton when we arrived and then had dinner on Gee 2. We arranged to meet Ron at 9:30 to tour the exterior and get down to business. At 8:30 AM he showed up at our door with Tim Horton’s Bagels and coffee for me and tea for Carol. Nice touch! The next morning we expect champagne and lox (vegetarian for Carol)! He spent several hours with us including a driving experience on the coach. Finally, after a late lunch we sat down to the classic car/RV salesmen’s closing experience in the subject coach at our soon to be kitchen table. By then it was clear that the only question left was how much. The answer was, as always, too much from our standpoint and . . . well Ron was smiling when all was said and done and so were we. In about ten days we will exchange money and Gee 2 for Gee 2 V 2.0 or what ever name it earns for itself.
We are elated, we are a bit sad, we have mixed emotions. Gee 2 has given us a wonderful 8 years and although you have read of our exploits self caused, mechanical, and bad luck, for the most part Gee 2 has not failed us nor have we lost any significant time or money to any serious failure. Certainly it has provided us with secure, comfortable travel for 100,000 miles, crossing the continent 8 times round trip and traveling to Alaska, Nova Scotia and the other corners of this continent reachable by road. And yet, and yet it has been well used and needs to be put into service by people with less need to roll up the miles or who have as great a need as ours but fewer resources.
We are elated because the new coach is a Phaeton QSH 36 with stuff we thought we never wanted. It has a Washer/Dryer (sorry Pat) and a table and chairs instead of a booth. It has too many TVs for people who seldom watch – four! – and two sofas and no easy chair. It is a diesel pusher which means the engine is 30 feet behind us, not under our feet and so seems very quiet. We will have to add solar panels when we get to the desert. But there is not much else it needs. We look forward to several short exploratory trips this summer to get to know it and to shake out the kinks. Then come the Fall we plan to resume our usual travels.
I suspect this will be the last post from “Gee 2 on the Road” well, I will keep the blog name anyhow. Since many continue to refer to Goliath, which has been gone for 8 years, I expect the name will go on into family history.
Tomorrow is Tax Day for 2011 taxes. It is also my “age change” day. After many years in the insurance business I am all to aware of halfway point when the nearest birthday is the one ahead not the one behind. Also I am exactly one year away from Required Minimum Distributions from my IRAs. The last birthday that fazed me was 39. This coming one suggests that I may have to stop claiming to be “late middle age”. I will not go willingly into old or elderly or . . . although we both know that we are no longer kids – our “kids” are in their mid 40’s – we don’t feel particularly old. We still drive the coach comfortably, if more slowly than we used to. We still love to hike and swim (well I like to swim) and getting out in a small boat with paddles is lots of fun.
I am looking forward to finally getting a diesel pusher to replace Gee 2. Gee 2 is also getting on. There are plenty of miles left in it and everything works just fine. The front cap bears the signs of many rocks and pebbles thrown up by passing trucks and cars over the 99,500 miles so far and the reminders of some of our learning experiences show on the corners, most recently a traffic cone that was badly placed left a rub mark on the right front, I’ll rub that out when I feel like it. The carpet and upholstery shows the expected wear of eight years of use (well 4 or 5 years if you allow for the fact that we average about six months use each year). Time for us to move on.
The weather has been weird this year. We have had more warm weather than we are used to and yesterday, south of Charlottesville in the mountains, the temperatures were in the 80’s and today it could get as high as 90. Then it will go back down to normal temperatures – mid 60’s later this week and there will probably be a frost by the weekend (I made that up, but you never know these days). We will take the hot while can get it. People around here would appreciate some rain, as would those in Texas.
My construction projects on the farm have been minimal this visit. Most of the building is done and the time devoted to the boys baseball really cuts into time for much of anything else. Fortunately the field is only 15 minutes away including the drive to the highway. I have done a fair amount of cleaning and maintenance on the coach while others are doing other projects. This upkeep is habitual, I really do not like seeing things less than perfect. The car has had new brakes and front disks installed to recover from the damage the Meyers Lemon caused – that was one expensive lemon. The clutch was adjusted and that cost us the cruise control so it is in the process of being readjusted so we can use the clutch AND have cruise control. Dan’s mechanic Robert Hunt is really great and I do appreciate his expertise. If you are ever south of Charlottesville and have a car that needs service give me a call and I will provide the contact information. He operates out of his farm yard and is a retired Toyota Service Engineer, very knowledgeable and skilled.
I am off to see Robert one more time for a final clutch adjustment. Tomorrow we visit Malena’s dad and on sunday we will drive up the Skyline Drive and camp in Front Royal to have some time with David Lovenheim and Terry. Then we think we will change plans and stop in the Lancaster PA area for a day or two before going into New York.
We had an easy 80 mile drive from Natural Bridge to Malena and Dan’s home. We timed our arrival while Dan was at work and Malena was just getting ready to take the boys into town for a lesson and later for baseball practice. With a minimum of pain we got Gee2 set up in its usual place in the driveway, electric and sewer connected and plenty of fresh water in the tank and available at the spigot when needed. We expect to stay about three weeks. Carol and I are still negotiating the route to Rochester. I want to stop by Falling Water, the house FLWright built for Kaufmann outside Pittsburgh. Carol agrees but she also wants to stop in the Lancaster PA area. We also want to make a stop in Niagara Falls to see a coach at Colton RV. Not sure how we make all that happen.
Activity at the house is intense. Both boys are playing baseball at Cove Creek, an amazing facility with at least 7 fields ranging from a “T-ball” field for the youngest players to a regulation field with 90 foot base paths. Most of the fields are little league standard. I have not referred to this a Little League facility since it isn’t formally affiliated. When the county wanted to build a baseball facility in the area there was a lot of objection because they insisted on lighting the fields and there is an astronomical observatory nearby and the light pollution would have blinded them. John Grisham lives in the area and he agreed to build the facility with no lights on his own property at his own expense. I do not know why it is not affiliated, but it may have something to do with his independence streak. It sure costs less than participating in the Charlottesville Little league which runs $250 per child. This is only $40 and the travel teams are paid for as well, parents are expected to pay their own expenses. It’s nice to have money and spend it on something you love that benefits the entire community.
All of that is to explain that every spare minute is devoted to practices and scrimmages at the park, which fortunately is only 15 minutes from the house, including getting out to the highway down the long gravel road. We have gone to the park several times each already and I expect there will be more trips during our stay as practice ends and season play begins with each boy in a couple of games a week. Naturally they are not on the same team so do not have the same schedule. I did say spare minute. They don’t have many with music lessons and other activities such as Alexander’s volunteering at the library.
Seder was at Latifa and Peter’s home. She is a leader of the Renewal Chavurah that Dan participates in and also Alexander’s Hebrew teacher. The time slipped by unnoticed as we followed the Order (Seder). From sitting down a 5:45 I first noticed the time at 10 PM as the meal was cleared. To dwell on the Seder is considered meritorious, but I won’t do that here other than to acknowledge that the first question we were addressed before the formal beginning was “who is not here that we could wish were by our side?” I realized that although she had not been present at any Seder of ours in many years, this was the first Seder since my mother died and all of sudden I missed her terribly. Strange how that sneaks up on me when I least expect it.
Somehow we got ahead of ourselves as we moved towards Virginia. In my usual manner, when we have many miles to cover I set up a basic route using DeLorme Street Atlas. The trip planning section lets me set up basic parameters such as miles per day, expected fueling requirements, and I can insert “vias” and “stops” with expected times for the stop such as “overnight” or “2 hours.” This gives us an idea of the number of days of driving it will take to cover the distance from say Phoenix to Covesville. At the end of each travel day – or the next morning – I reset the start point to our current location, giving us the remaining drive time to our ultimate destination. we had planned to spend time along the Blue Ridge Parkway after we left the Asheville area, but we forgot that at this time of year the campgrounds are closed because there is still a likelihood of a hard freeze. We have joined the many flowering plants in being fooled into thinking it is late Spring rather than barely Spring, after all, today is April Fool’s Day not May Day. With the National Parks campgrounds closed and the National Forest Service Campgrounds closed we spent a night in the Salem, VA Super Walmart, not the worst place, but not the best either. After reviewing all of the options along the way we remembered that the Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Natural Bridge Park is not as bad as the name would have one think, at least off season. It has the further blessing of being Passport America, half off on weekdays. When we checked in on Saturday they gave us half off for the two night stay, not sure if it was a mistake, but we took it. The place was far from full, but we were one of only a couple of units that did not have many children. This morning, Sunday, there has been a parade of trailers headed out to get the little ones to school tomorrow, and Mom and Dad back to work – oh! there is that four letter word! Sorry.
Carol is assiduously working at her computer writing posts and working on images. I have been doing as little as I can and will return to reading the NYTimes on the Kindle over lunch. Later today we will take a walk in the woods. It is getting late to take a long hike. Then tomorrow we will get back on the road late morning for a 90 minute drive to Dan and Malena’s where we will perch until it is time to roll on to Rochester. I will really try to find more to write about along the way and in Covesville. We will continue to shop for Gee 2’s successor as well.