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What's New from October 2002

October 1
We are a little sad to leave Vermont; it was such a wonderful visit. I will post our story soon. We are heading south this morning, but not too fast. We will spend a couple of days at a membership campground (coast to coast) in the Catskills (New York) just a little over 150 miles down the road. From there we will go to New Brunswick, New Jersey, to visit Ron's sister then a few more stops in New Jersey before we head to the Shennendoah Valley of Virginia. 

I have posted our new articles. It's So Easy is my new article. Don't Wait Too Long is Ron's new article.

Mystery Picture
Only two guessed last month's mystery picture. I hope you do better this month. It wasn't very long ago that we were walking around a city and found this lovely playground. Ron climbed up into the wagon for me so I could show the size of this wagon. Now it is up to you to guess where we were. To play from this month and other months please go to our Guess Page.

October 6
We had a nice visit to Wurtsboro, New York. We took a couple of long drives and couldn't get over the many shabby towns which were very ghostly. Mountaindale, for example, had all sorts of stores on their two block main street which were boarded up; it looked like hardly anyone lived there. Once upon a time it must have been a thriving community. What happened? The communities we saw were probably summer resort communities because they were up in the mountains. Did the people just quit coming? If of you know anything about those towns, please let us know.

We spent two nights parked in the Memorial Lutheran Church parking lot in East Brunswick, New Jersey, which is where Ron's sister, Linda and her husband, Ken, live. Ken is the pastor of the church so we were offered a nice parking place. On Saturday Linda, Ron and I left New Jersey early and we headed into New York City. First we stopped to view Ground Zero then we stood in line in Times Square for about an hour to get tickets for which ever play we could see. They sell whatever tickets are not sold yet for half price just a few hours before show time. We were able to see Aida which was fantastic. While waiting for the show to start, we walked up and town Broadway, 5th Avenue and Madison Avenue. It was such fun. I want to go and stay in a hotel there to go to more shows and see more things.

Linda and Ron looking at the plaques listing the names of all who died when the towers were struck on Sept 11. Linda and Ron at St. Patricks Cathedral.

Scenes from Times Square

Linda and Ron again
Ron did the driving in the city (in his sister's car) and did a super job. He does not want to drive the motorhome there although we saw big tour busses being driven down the busy streets. It was bad enough driving in New Jersey. 

We are near Atlantic City for a few days. On Wednesday we will go towards Philadelphia but we will camp in New Jersey close enough to get into the city in the car. 

October 9
We had been to Atlantic City before and didn't like it then; we still don't much care for it. It doesn't compare to Las Vegas and the whole area seems shabby. Even the boardwalk is lined with dumpy tourist shops. Of all the casinos (and we didn't go into all of them) we really liked Bally's Wild Wild West. It reminded us of Arizona which we are missing. The Sands was the very worst casino; many of the machines were broken, the bathrooms were horrible and the clientele matched the casino. I suppose there is more to Atlantic City than the boardwalk, but after what we saw, we didn't even try to find it. This  morning we are going to Clarksboro, New Jersey, (less than 100 miles west) for our short stop near Philadelphia. But we are really anxious to get back out into the country.

October 13
Our trip to the Philadelphia area was way too short. The campground could only give us two nights (even though we had called ahead of time to reserve) so we made the best of it and spent one whole, cool, rainy day in Philly. We were able to tour the major historic area and felt humbled to be at the spot where our nation began. 

There was so much we wanted to see and we knew we wouldn't have time, so we took a tour with American Trolley Tours and enjoyed it very much. Our tour guide was well informed and easy to listen to. What we realized early on was that we need to come back some day. The art museum that we passed is huge so are many other museums. We didn't get to go to Ben Franklin's house and museum, Poe's house, and Betsy Ross's house. Besides being so very historical, Philly looks like a very nice city. The best fun we had that rainy day was our lunch stop. The trolley dropped us off at the Reading Terminal Market which takes up a whole city block. It is so huge and with so many different food areas that we had a hard time deciding what to eat. We split a  Philly cheese steak sandwich from Rick's and had ice cream from someone else. It was really frustrating because we wanted to try it all. I took a lot of pictures but am putting them on in thumbnails so you don't have to wait for them all to load and you can click on any one to see it in detail.
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When we left Clarksboro, New Jersey, the next morning it was raining hard and we knew we had a tough drive ahead of us. Little did we know how tough it would be. We don't like freeways but there was no other way to get to the Shennendoah Valley easily. We headed off on I-295 then figured we could get through Baltimore easily on I -95 rather than taking the bypass that went so far north. First of all there was a toll bridge and we were shocked at the toll. Twelve dollars seemed high. We go over the Mackinaw Bridge in Michigan for a fraction of that. Then we saw signs saying no HazMat in the upcoming tunnels. We ignored it at first thinking that we aren't hauling but realized that the signs meant us. So we go off and tried to wend our way through the inner harbor. With the help of our new toy (GPS) we made it back onto I-95 only to encounter stop and go traffic. Accidents slowed things to a crawl. Around DC we took the bypass to I-66 when we finally headed away from the busy cities. We love the big cities like New York and Philly even Washington DC, but it is no fun to get there. Maybe flying in and staying in hotels is the answer.

We stopped in New Market, Virginia, for two nights so we could visit the northern part of Shennendoah National Park and we did that now we are moving south only 50 miles to Staunton but that campground offers a phone line at our site so when you read this you will know that I have uploaded Three Views of Vermont. We will stay in Staunton for a week so we will have much to report before we leave. 

October 14
I had to take the music off. Because of the thumbnails it became a pain. I may put it on again when I don't have so many links to take people back and forth. Sorry about that. By the way this is a great area of Virginia. There is tons to do and we will do it all and report on as much as we can. 

October 16
We haven't done much touring yet. When we went into the Shennendoah National Park the clouds were so low that we couldn't see much. In fact we were driving in fog some of the time. Yesterday we toured the Woodrow Wilson birthplace and muesum. When we had volunteered at Yosemite 11 years ago it was living history and we had to pretend that we were living in 1915. While in that mode we talked about our president, Woodrow Wilson, so it seemed fitting that we would visit his birthplace. Although he only lived in Staunton (STAN-ton) until he was three it was a good tour and they have done a good job in the museum. It started raining last night and promises to rain all day so we will stay home, read, nap, play computer games, play the rest of our fall or whatever. Tomorrow will be sunny but cold. That will be fine for touring.

October 20
We went up to Shennendoah the other day after the sun came out. The skyline drive is beautiful, but there wasn't much color. Must be a result of the drought again. We stopped in at the visitor center and learned that this national park is a wilderness park and the best way to see it is to hike one of the hundreds of trails. We didn't feel like hiking though; it was cold or we were just plain lazy. We checked out the campgrounds and they are wonderful. There are lots of big, big, beautiful sites. But none of the park's sites have any hookups. We stayed in such campgrounds in our early full-timing days but I like the comforts of heat and electricity now. We would stay there in the summer when we could have the windows open to smell the fresh air and hear the birds. 

The Blue Ridge Parkway begins where the Skyline Drive of Shennendoah National Park ends. It was specifically created to bridge Shennendoah Park with Smoky Mountain National Park and was a way to employ thousands of Conservation Corps workers during the 30's. We drove part of the northern part. I liked that a lot better, because it contained a history of the people that once lived there. I happen to like history and people better than nature, I guess. When Shennendoah was made a national park, the park service moved every one who lived there and tried to restore it to its original wilderness. That's nice, but we have seen so much beauty and hiked in almost every national park that I wasn't that excited about getting on yet another trail. That may be an effect of being on the road so long. I got real excited at our first stop on the Blue Ridge Parkway though. Here was a dwelling. A place where real people lived and struggled to eke out a living and life. The air was crisp and the smell of a wood fire coming out of the cabin made me want to go back in time for a little while.

We left the Parkway and drove out into the country. It was a beautiful drive and as we headed towards West Virginia, we saw more color. Don't know why. But I snapped a few photos to try and capture the feel. This is beautiful country. The hills are awesome.

I didn't take pictures of downtown Staunton and I should have. The buildings there represent many different styles and much history. We especially loved the railroad station and enjoyed eating lunch at the Pullman. Just as we were being seated a train rolled right past us. It is still a working station and has not one, but two restaurants. Enchanting!!! I love trains. too.

When we walked downtown Staunton, we were disappointed in all of the empty stores; there were a lot. The ones that were still in business seemed to be doing okay. It is a shame when a town dies. 

We are moving south tomorrow to Wytheville.  I will miss having the land line that I have had this week. 

October 25
It doesn't look like we are still in Virginia does it?  We were ready to leave Virginia. Although the days were pretty, the nights were cold and the mornings heavy with fog. Rain was predicted for three out of four days and quite frankly we were also tired of touring; we had planned on spending a week or two in Georgia then slowly meandering to Florida. But Ron (while eating popcorn) broke two teeth from his bridge. We tried to find a dentist in Wytheville (and would have stayed longer) but they were booked solid. We called the chamber of commerce in several different places in Georgia where we had wanted to go and got phone numbers of dentists. We thought that calling ahead of time would enable him to get an appointment, but that didn't work either. Everyone was too busy to squeeze him in. We decided that we needed to be near a big city to find dentists with labs nearby. Jacksonville, Florida, seemed a good location and the first dentist we called (again with the help of the Chamber of Commerce) gave Ron an appointment. So we are at Hanna Park (a Jacksonville city park on the ocean) with 20 miles of bike paths and many miles of hiking trails not to mention the beach. While we are here (two weeks) we do not plan to do any touring; we will just walk the beach and enjoy the park and I may try to add some old newsletter stories to the web site. They don't have a modem here in the park, but there must be a Kinkos nearby.

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