Sunday, June 30, 2013


Saturday morning I was up early to head out and explore my old stomping ground!   Stopping for the night at Wilmington allowed me to savor the “memory lane” portion of the trip on a fresh day, and after Friday, I needed a fresh day!

I headed out from Cowan Lake the same way I used to go back and forth from camp!  I thought about stopping by camp but I hadn’t made arrangements and I wasn’t sure if they had kids or if the few people I still know there would be there on a Saturday morning.  As I drove around I found that I somehow remembered how to get everywhere I wanted to go, even though I couldn’t have given anyone directions, it all just came back to me!  Many of the landmarks had changed in the 10 years since I’d been there, but a lot was still the same. 

The first thing I wanted to check out was our old house.  I took the scenic route past all kinds of other things and soon was heading down our old street, wondering if our old neighbors still lived there and marveling at some of the changes folks had made to their houses!  Our old house looked mostly the same, however I knew  from Google earth that the new owners had put on an addition in the back so I wanted to try and see it.  I knew there was a trail that went from another street and ran right behind our old house. I drove over to where the trail crossed the road and discovered there was a place to park Roxy on the other side of the railroad tracks!  I changed my shoes, grabbed a hiking sticking and headed out!  I soon remembered that the trails in Indian Hill are meant for horses and they are very torn up! And, it had rained recently, so it was very muddy!  I was getting mud all over my nice clean “going out to lunch & dinner with friends pants”.  ugh.   I walked a ways down the trail and then came to a steep ravine – it was very short but it was nearly a 45 degree angle and it was muddy and slippery and that’s when I said “that’s enough” and turned around.  I didn’t make it see the backside of our old house!

I then continued my tour and visited my old High School – which had been seriously renovated, the church we attended, which had also been seriously renovated, and the mall I used to shop at, it took didn’t look at all the same!  I kinda wanted to go in the mall but I had to get to another part of town to meet my friend Sue for lunch!  I ended up getting to Mariemont pretty early, but that was ok, I could browse the Variety Story next doo to Mios!  Mios is a great local pizza joint and I’d really been looking forward to eating there!  It was amazing to see Sue and chat about everything!  Sue’s daughter Amy was one of my best friends in High School and from hanging out with Amy I got to know her mom too, then I was an intern at our church and worked with Sue there!  We had a great time catching up over pizza and of course Greater’s Ice Cream!

After lunch I decided to head to my campground – Winton Woods – since it was in an area that I wasn’t familiar with! The campground is 22 miles from our lunch spot.  I had to go through a major shopping location and go about 10 miles on the Cincinnati beltway.   It was raining, thunderstorming in fact.  Yet, I didn’t have to sit in any traffic.  none!  Each light I got stopped at I only had to wait through one cycle.  No traffic was stopped on the highway!  Amazing!  I shudder at having to make a similar drive on a rainy Saturday in DC!

Getting checking at the campground was very easy. I got my gate passes and found my site and did a practice back in to see how level it was (it wasn’t) and took off to Jungle Jim’s. 

Jungle Jim’s is hard to describe, it must be experienced.  Basically, it’s an international grocery store and they have all kinds of normal stuff and weird stuff.  It was very entertaining to walk around and see all the stuff they had, even though my fridge is jammed packed with stuff and I couldn’t buy any more food!  After Jungle Jim’s I hit Meijer – kinda like an upscale Super-Wal Mart, very nice store – to get a tire pressure gauge.  One of the tires looked low and I decided I wanted to check it out. 

I checked the tire pressure right in the parking lot – all the tires were at the right PSI, except that label inside the van said “cold PSI” and they weren’t cold.  I’d have to check in the morning.  I did find that it’s *very* hard to get an accurate reading with the pressure gauge I bought – not sure if it’s the gauge or the tires!  It’s much easier to check the pressure for the inner duallys than the outer ones, which seems odd. 

By now it was time to head over to meet my best other best friend from High School, Keri.  We were meeting a LaRosa’s.  Yep, more pizza. When I realized I’d doubled up on the pizza places I decided to go with it – both places are unique to Cincinnati and they are different and I hardly ever eat pizza!  I will say that in a back to back contest, Mio’s is the better of the two!

I got to LaRosa’s early so had to wait! No problem, I opened the windows and read my book while a thunderstorm rolled through! :-)  I love always having my house with me!

Dinner with Keri was great! :-)  We talked about old times, new times, and everything in between!  After dinner we went back to my place (which of course was parked in the parking lot!) and I showed her around.  By now it was getting dark and I needed to get back to the campground. 

At the campground I backed into my site after dark for the 1st time ever!  I even didn’t run over the tent that was pitched mere inches from my site.  I quickly discovered however that I couldn’t have the RV both level and plugged in.   It was level enough at the top of the site, but the electrical post was at the back, the cord wasn’t long enough.  It was low in the back, which has the dual tires and I don’t have enough leveling blocks to level all 4 tires.  If I pulled in rather than backing in I’d have to level the front tires then pass the cord under the coach to get to the correct side.  Considering that it was already 9:30 and dark, I opted to dry camp a few feet from a plug!  Luckily it wasn’t hot so I didn’t need the AC! It was however, very loud.  There were people coming and going until close to 11 and the people who had their tent pitched just inches from me were up talking very late.  I couldn’t make out their conversation to eavesdrop though. 

Sunday’s plan was to attend church at Clifton United Methodist, which is where my former youth pastor, David, is now the pastor, after church we were going to lunch and then I was heading down the road.  Since church didn’t start until 10:30 I had some extra time which was great! I was up early and went for a walk before getting my shower and breakfast!  On my way out to walk I decided to check the tire pressure, it was a cold as they were going to get.  I’m sure the tenters weren’t a fan of my clanging the tire gauge right by their tent!  Oh well!  Best I could tell 2 of my tires were low so I decided to get air when I got fuel this afternoon. 

I left for church around 9, I didn’t know where I was going or what the parking situation would be.  I’m glad allowed extra time – the church didn’t have a big enough parking lot and I had to park almost a mile away up a big hill in a park!  It worked just fine though, it was easy to get Roxy in and out and she wasn’t in the way or illegally parked!

I really enjoyed my time Clifton UMC!  David introduced me to folks who were very friendly – she’s a teacher and they were heading to Acadia in a few weeks so we had plenty to talk about! Soon other friendly people had joined us and I instantly felt like I had a group of new friends! The service was wonderful – lots of singing great songs, old and new, and plenty of food for thought!  After the service David and I walked to a great little brunch place and devoured yummy omelets while catching up the last 20 years!

All too soon my time among the familiarity of old friends and places I know came to an end and it was time to head down the road! My plan was just to drive about 3 hours to Kickapoo State park, just over the the line in Illinois. 

As I headed out of Ohio the sky was looking dark.  again.  So I decided to stop for fuel and air a little earlier than I’d planned so I wouldn’t have to do it in the rain.  It was more complicated than it needed to me – I drove around doing several u-turns trying to find the best gas station, and finally ended up at the Raceway.  It was a maneuverability lesson to get to the pump, but I did it.  Then I went to get air.  The air machine was high tech – you had to tell it what you wanted the pressure to be and it would put air in until it reached that pressure.  Well, I knew the cold PSI I wanted, but not the hot.  My plan was to put in 10lbs since that’s how far off the cold PSI it was. I put some air in both low tires, and tried to get the tire pressure but I couldn’t get a good reading.  I’ll check again in the morning and if it’s still low I’ll stop at Jiffy Lube or something. 

The drive this afternoon was better than Friday!  :-)  We did get torrential rain and wind, but not at the same time!  The rain came before Indianapolis and the wind picked up after.  I don’t mind either or too much, it’s both together that’s rough!

I’m camped tonight at Kickapoo State park in Illinois.  It’s lovely!  Big sites, very quiet!  It’s going down to 58* tonight too!  :-)

Tomorrow it’s on to Iowa!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Drive Day 2: OMG! and Cowan Lake State Park

Somewhere I got the notion that driving 1700 miles across the country by myself was going to be boring.  Today proved that wrong. 

It was all fine until I drove off site 13 at Rocky Gap!  (at 7:15 am I might note…)

My 1st task of the day was to add fresh water.  Normally I do this at home, however I thought the campground had water and electric hookups and since I was paying $30 I’d just get water there rather than pay extra on my water bill.  Well, the campground had water, just not at the sites.  The spigots were threaded though so you could attach your hose.  I found a spot where I could get Roxy close enough to the spigot and the parking area was even out of the road! I backed down what looked like an old campsite and my back tires hit the railroad tie with a little more force than I’d intended.  When I went to inspect I saw that two of the train ties has nails sticking out of them!  The nails I saw weren’t in danger of damaging my tires, but were there others I couldn’t see?  I put water on and then went to pull Roxy out so I could inspect the train ties to see if I needed to worry about the back tires.  I really thought she wasn’t going to move.  See the back tires had gotten into a groove, I was asking her to go up a decent hill and she’s fully loaded…I held the fuel pedal for what seemed like a long time and I was expecting the tires to start spinning when she finally moved forward!  Phew!  Not sure what I would have done if she’d gotten stuck!  I inspected the railroad ties and there were no nails so we were good to go.

My next stop was the dump station.  The black tank was looking full again and I suspected that it didn’t get fully dumped on Monday, and now that I’d filled up with water I wanted the holding tanks empty so it was all in sync.  This went without incident, other than me noting that the was potable water available in the dump station – this isn’t always the case but I should have checked first! Soon I was headed back to I-68 to continue heading west! It was only 7:45 too, I was 15 minutes ahead of schedule, on track to arrive at Caesar Creek by early afternoon, in time for a swim!

It was a cloudy drizzly morning, which was nice, until the mountains became totally ensconced in fog and visibility was reduced to zero! We were headed up a hill when the fog got dense and I thought there was a truck in the right “slow” lane, I was in the middle.   The slow lane was about to end so I backed off to let him in, if he was there – which he was.  I decided I liked having him in front of me as we navigated the fog because that way I knew what was up there! So I hung back a bit from him and gave him room, but hung close.  We were going about 35-40 with flashers on, not able to see 5 feet from the vehicle. 

Soon though the fog started to lift, the clouds got higher and the sky got a little lighter.  This was about the time the thunderstorm started.  It was a doozy!  It was so close the thunder and the lightening were hitting at the same time, right over me!  The lightening was blinding! The thunder shook the ground.  It was dark as night!  I stuck behind my “Werner" truck and held on for dear life.  Soon we drove out of it and the sky got lighter, the rain let up a bit and life was better!

The drive was uneventful though the Morgantown WV area, the little section of PA, the Wheeling WV area (crossed into WV for the 4th and final time!), across the Ohio river and into St. Clairsville, OH!  Ohio was a new state for Roxy!

In St. Clairsville I stopped for lunch, Smiley Cookies at Eat-n-Park and to see if I could locate a Starbucks Regional mug for one of my parents friends.  After I’d gotten the cookies I was eating lunch and checking the weather.  There was another big storm coming! Headed right for me!  I decided to go to Starbucks, get the mug, and wait out the weather with free wifi.  Good plan, except the weather didn’t do anything.  Just a little rain. I could see big storms on the radar, but in real life there was nothing happening.  So I headed out.

10 miles down the road, the sun was out! :-)  10 more miles down the road, traffic was at a total standstill.  I used my Waze App to see what was up – 10 miles ahead there was a bad accident.  I began plotting an alternate route.  There weren’t many options.  This was rural Ohio!  The next exit was 3 miles from the end of the backup so it didn’t seem worth it.  Until it took me an hour to go the 3 miles leading up to the exit.  I can walk faster!  So I bailed out and took off down some country roads.  I was the only one who took this option too…  I have no idea where I was, I just followed google maps!  At one point I missed a turn and had to turn around.  I turned into a cemetery thinking the road would loop around, it did, but it was kinda scary for a second while I got out on a narrow one lane road on a hill! 

About 20 minutes after I’d left I-70  I was back on past the accident and moving along!  This continued for about 80 maybe 90 miles.  Got through Columbus, at 4:00 on a Friday afternoon, with no real traffic issues and hit 71 S!  This is one section of highway that I’ve traveled many times so everything was familiar to me!  I’d forgotten how flat it is though!

I was getting quite nervous about being able to secure a site at Caesar Creek – I couldn’t make a reservation and I was afraid they’d fill up.  The other options around here are quite limited. 

As I was gazing at the flatness I was also noticing some storm clouds building to the west.  I watched them, but they were in the distance.  It had been windy the whole way from Columbus but around Washington Courthouse – North of Wilmington area the wind really picked up! I could see the trees bending over on the side of the road!  I was being blown all over the highway, it was all I could do to stay in the lane!  I had visions of the RV flying off the road and didn’t know how to prevent it!  It was insane! And just when the wind wasn’t enough, it started to rain.  Pouring rain! I was watching the truckers to see what they did, did they pull over?  Did they keep driving?  They all seemed to keep driving so I did too.  Before the next exit the winds died down a bit but I got off anyway.  I don’t think I packed enough underwear.

I wasn’t sure where I was going when I pulled off…should I take shelter in McDonalds?  Wait it out?  The storm was moving away and the winds weren’t as bad.  I stayed in the van and checked the weather – they said there was a severe storm in the area where I’d been with winds in excess of 50 mph!  OMG!  My exit for Caesar Creek Campground was the next exit so I drove on.  I followed the signs to the park and drove out about 6-7 miles, around an accident, through cornfields.  I saw lots of parts of the park – the picnic area, the boat launch, the beach, but no campground.  I stopped at the park office to ask, luckily there was a county sheriff there answering a call and he told me that to get to the campground you had to go back to 71, cross over and get on another road.  ugh.  So, back I went, past the accident, over 71 and went to turn left and the road is closed!!!!!  WTF!!!!!  I don’t have an alternate plan here so I kept driving towards Wilmington. 

I found another way to get to Caesar Creek Campground – if I’d stayed at the exit I got off at to re-group after the wind I would have been there! ugh.  I decided I didn’t want to go back that way, that storm looked like it was still lingering, so I headed to option #2 – Cowan Lake State Park. 

Cowan lake is out in the middle of nowhere Ohio.  I only know about it because we took the kids from Camp Joy swimming here, before they built the pool at camp.  I managed to take the correct road out of Wilmington to get to the campground easily!  I pulled and found that they were doing self registration – all I had to do was find an available “walk in” site and it was mine.  There weren’t many “walk in” sites, but most seemed available!  I found one that looked level and pulled in.  It had electricity and it was level!  I was happy!  I then needed to register.  It took me awhile to find where to go to register and it started to rain again, but eventually I found it and didn’t get too wet! After dinner and a walk things seemed a lot better!  This is a nice campground – it’s very big, over 200 sites!  Most are occupied tonight!  Seems like a lot of local folks – most of the cars/trailer/RVs have Ohio plates – myself and someone from FL are the only out of staters I saw! There’s a swimming beach, places to fish and boat launches!  Seems like folks get together out here with friends and the kids all play!  Kinda like Rollins Pond, but not as nice!

Looking forward to going to bed!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Drive Day 1: Rocky Gap State Park

This summer I am heading to Colorado!  We’d been loosly planning a trip to Colorado for last summer, but then I bought Roxy and wanted to stay on the East Coast because it was closer!  This turned out to be very good planning when I had to head back to Virginia when Mike died.  This year I’m ready to go further afield and tackle the big drive – although not as far as the west coast. 

Mike’s death last summer is making it hard for me to really get excited about this trip though.  What if something else happens?  What if I need to get back, but can’t because it’s a 4 day drive back home?  If you think about it long enough the “what-ifs” fill your head and it makes it hard to think!  I’m hopeful that this summer will be “drama free" and we can all relax and enjoy life!  A cloud still hung over me today as a I packed, I didn’t want to stay home, but I also kinda didn’t want to go.

This morning I went to get Roxy so I could get her packed and get the fridge cooling.  Like last year my departure was determined by my CSA pick up.  Luckily this year I was able to move my pick up to a different location and pick up today rather than waiting until tomorrow.  I didn’t need to leave until 3:15 ish so I was able to take my time getting loaded!  I’d already put most stuff into tubs and laundry baskets so it just needed to be hauled out.  I did re-think how a number of spaces were used and so far it seems good – I just need to figure out where clothes go when they are dirty! It was cloudy and cooler all day which was very nice packing weather!  The sun came out as I was picking up my CSA veggies and it was nice for the drive!

After getting my veggies and stuffing them in the fridge, I can’t eat out during the drive I have *way* too much food with me, I was on my way!  Luckily there was no traffic on 66 and soon I was heading up 81 and cheering as I crossed my 1st State Line into West Virginia.  That joy was to be short lived. 

I was pulling into the West Virginia Welcome Center Rest Area when the radio announcer started talking about an accident on 81 N near Martinsburg that had shut down I-81!  yikes!  Traffic was being detoured.  That didn’t sound like any fun so I turned to my trusty Google Maps to help me find a way around the mess. 

When I was looking for a route this afternoon Google Maps wanted me to go up US522 from Winchester and pick up I68 in Hancock, MD.  I decided that it was going to take too much navigation around Winchester and it would be easier to take 81 to Hagarstown and get 70 to 68.  It was longer, but only by 10 miles.  Now, however, I was wishing I’d taken 522 and quickly located a route to get me there.

The good news was that my route to 522 didn’t have any traffic on it at all.  It was definitely a backroad route, I’m pretty sure I heard banjo music! There was  a double yellow line down the middle of all the roads so that was something!  It was all uphill and downhill and twisty!  Roxy handled it just fine, but anything bigger, or if I was towing a car, and it would have been different! It also involved crossing back into VA for a few miles before crossing into WV again! Finally, after missing just one turn and having to do only one u-turn, I made it to 522.  522 was also traffic free, but it was a 4 lane highway so we were cruising!

Now I turned my attention to needing fuel.  I wasn’t in dire need but I also didn’t know what was ahead – would I be able to make it to Rocky Gap and get fuel tomorrow?  Should I just do it now?  What are my options?  With all the technology I have I don’t have a good way to locate refueling opportunities.  I decided to ask Siri.  I never use Siri because the times I have used her, I haven’t found her helpful.  Tonight I asked her “where can I buy diesel fuel?”  She replied with “I can’t locate any fuel distributers".”   Like I said, not helpful. 

I’d been using Siri at a red light and I was behind a semi – after Siri and I were done the light changed, the semi moved and right in front of me was a Sheetz.  With diesel.  Problem solved. 

Soon after getting fuel I reach I68 and was about 20 miles from my destination for the night – Rocky Gap State Park. 

68 is a really pretty drive!  You go up and over hill after hill and the views are amazing!  There’s barely any traffic too!  Mostly trucks, but not even many of those! At the top of all the hills they have a sign with the name of the hill and it’s elevation.  The 1st one I noted was 960 ft.  The next  1040.  The last one we came down before Rocky Gap was 1289.  Soon I’ll be driving over mountains 10x a high!

I have a wonderful site at Rocky Gap – site 13.  It claims to be a 30ft pull through, it’s at least double that, maybe triple.  It’s very private too!  It have electric because I thought I’d have to run to AC, but it’s nice and cool up here! Once I got parked and hooked up the electricity I went for a sunset walk!  I walked down to the lake and along the edge on the Lakeside Path, then walked 4 loops of the campground.  There are 5 more loops that I didn’t walk through!  Big place! 

Towards the end of my walk I heard a whiporwill.  Whiporwills always make me think of my grandpa, Dr. Ben and the time he almost shot one out of tree while he and my grandma were camping in the front yard.  You can read the story here: Dr. Ben and the Whiporwill.  Dr. Ben died suddenly one morning when he was getting ready for work, not unlike Mike’s sudden death, so this evening when I heard it it made me think that maybe everything was going to be ok this summer. 

This is a very nice park, it’s location is perfect – just mere miles from the highway and close enough to home to get away but still have a short 1st day!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Leah’s First Camping Trip: Lake Anna State Park


Allow me to introduce you all to Leah, many of you may know her from FB!  Leah is my friend Susan’s daughter, she’s 4 and she’s the #1 kid in my life!   She and I spend about one weekend together a month, so Mommy gets a break, and we always have fun!  I’d been wanting to take her camping while she was still small enough to not take up much space in the bed, but old enough to enjoy camping activities.  She seemed like she was ready so I decided it was time to go for it!  She’d seen my van on several occasions and she was asking when she’d get to come with me.  She’d asked a few times to go camping, although it turns out, she really didn’t have much idea what camping actually was!  LOL!

She’s recently graduated from her car seat to a booster seat and she’s tall & skinny so I’m betting it will be years before she weighs enough to go without it so I need to buy one for my car.  Luckily I discovered that in the RV I was going to need a high back booster since there aren’t any headrests.  Before I sunk $70 into a nice booster I decided we needed to take a shakedown trip and see how things went.  Susan and I picked a date and I decided we’d go to Lake Anna State Park in Spotsylvania, which is about 30 miles from Leah’s house.  It seemed a bit ho-hum of a destination at first, but it turned out to be perfect!   The campground was lovely, big private sites, a lake to swim in, pre-schooler friendly trails, and electric hook-ups to run the AC!

We headed out Monday afternoon after she got done with Vacation Bible School!  She was a bit unsure of the van at 1st, but warmed up quickly!  One thing was that since the back seat is also the bed it’s covered with memory foam which caused the booster seat to rock a little more than she was accustomed too.  The booster we were using had a tether strap so I secured it, likely in an unsanctioned way, to the bar behind the couch and that helped the wiggle factor.  No idea if it was safe.  The other thing I was worried about was the heat.  It finally turned to summer here in DC and it was quite toasty.  I knew the dash AC wouldn’t make it to the back and I didn’t want to run the generator going down the road so I opened the windows and ran the vent fan.  She didn’t complain about the heat and she commented that when the van was going fast there was wind.  She also enjoyed the extra bumpiness from riding right over the back tires!  The only other issue we had while driving was that it was very hard to talk to each other.  It’s a long way back there and the noise of the AC fan, the wind & road noise made it very hard.  Luckily, she’s pretty content to entertain herself while we are driving and she was eye level with the window and got a great view!

We arrived at the park and after getting registered our first stop was the dump station.  The sensor told me it was full, but I didn’t believe it because the fresh water was also full.  Silly me forgot that I’d topped off the fresh tank without dumping the tanks.  They were out of sync.  The black tank was precariously close to being totally full!  The design of the dump station and the design of my RV made the dumping process more challenging that it usually is, but I was able to empty the tank and we were on our way to our site.

The campground has about 45 sites and they are HUGE.  The campground was also mostly empty.  We were given our choice of sites so we made a loop, settling on the first site we’d seen that I liked.  It had some shade and was close to the trail to the beach area.

P1130452Our site - #24

The large square area on the left is the tent pad.  It is filled with pea gravel.  I have no idea how that feels to sleep on if you are in a tent, but us it meant hours of play!  Leah was able to buy her toys, search for golden rocks, make soup, the imaginative play options were endless!

It was seriously hot and humid so our first item of business was to get ourselves to the lake.  We put on bathing suits, smeared on sunscreen, packed snacks, towels, beach toys, and floaties and headed down the 1/2 mile paved trail to the beach. 

P1130443 1st view of the lake from the trail!

P1130444 The beach area

Turns out Leah had never swum in a lake before!  She was unsure of the whole experience at first, but eventually warmed up.  As we were getting in she was worried that the bottom was sinking – this was because the bottom sloped away and the water got deeper! And, as we got our further the bottom got squishy and she wasn’t a fan of that at all.  She has a Ladybug Puddle Jumper swim life jacket that she wears when she swims and in the pool she’s quite comfortable paddling around so I was hopeful that she’d get comfortable in the water and play, so I scooped her up and despite her protests drug her out where she couldn’t touch the squishy bottom.  Once she realized that she can float and kick and all she was happier, but wouldn’t really let go of me and if she got more than a few inches from me she’d panic.  We swam a bit and then she asked to go back to the shore where she enjoyed building a sand castle!

P1130445As we were driving I’d seen some big thunderheads blossoming out to the west and the sky just to to the north of us was starting to look iffy.  I had my phone so was checking the radar – there was a HUGE storm just north and east of us.  I had no idea how the storm was moving, but I guessed it would likely push off to the north and hit us directly.  Still, it was looking like it could storm and I’d rather not have to ride it out in the bathroom at the lake so I decided to pack everything up and head back to the campground.  We’d been at the lake about an hour.  boo. 

P1130446It’s hard to tell in the picture but that’s the sky when we left the beach.

We were about 1/2 – 2/3 of the way back to the van (about a 1/2 mile walk) when I heard the first rumbles of the thunder in the distance.  I was very glad we’d left when we did!  Leah didn’t hear the thunder and was unaware that the weather was going downhill.  Back at the van we sat outside – her playing in the gravel, me checking the weather on my phone – as the sky clouded up and the wind kicked up, there was thunder in the distance, but nothing too close.  It was actually very pleasant.  Until there was a clap of thunder really close!  That’s when I moved Leah into the van and put the chairs away.  She was still unaware that there was a storm coming or anything to worry about!  Once in the van we broke out the DVDs and by the time the torrential rain came (about 5 mins after we moved inside) we were happily watching Finding Nemo, with surround sound!

photo(62)There was some very loud thunder but it all managed to coincide with tense moments in the movie and she did not notice at all! The surround sound also helped block things out, although it is quite unnerving to suddenly hear voices from the back of the coach – the sound like they are outside!  After the rain stopped and the storm was moving on Leah finally registered the thunder and said commented that she was scared of thunder.  I told her it had been thundering for over an hour and she hadn’t noticed so I was certain it would be fine!

The rain squashed our dinner plans to roast hot dogs over the campfire, so we had to microwave the hot dogs while we watched the end of the movie.   Ahhh…the joys of RV camping! :-) 

After dinner and the movie the sun was coming back out and we went back out to play! 

                                                P1130448 P1130449

First bubbles!



Then a bike ride around the campground!

When we got back to the site she was adamant that we roast marshmallows.  Turns out, sitting around the campfire and roasting marshmallows were the only activities that constituted “camping” in her little mind!  LOL! I couldn’t get her to understand that it was all camping!  I gathered some twigs in the woods and broke out the fire starters and produced the world smallest campfire.


After she dried her tears because I wouldn’t let her play in the fire, we quickly stuck our marshmallows in.

P1130457  And once hers was suitably warmed, she made her 1st smore!

P1130458Of which she only ate the marshmallow.

P1130460As soon as the marshmallows were warmed, the fire went out.  I think the only thing that was burning was the fire starter.   Leah was quite perturbed by this as she wasn’t done “camping” and wanted to roast more marshmallows.  This time I decided to try and burn the marshmallow sticks – they were dry!  I began breaking them up and got the rest of the fire starters.  They burned a bit better and I was hoping that they weren’t coated with something that would release toxic fumes when burned!  She put 2 marshmallows on a stick, held them by the fire for 30 seconds and declared them done! LOL!

While I went in to set up the bed and do the dishes Leah played in the gravel.  She buried her toy turtle in the gravel and when I told her it was time to clean up she told me she couldn’t remember where it was.  I told her to start digging.

P1130465We never did find the turtle, we finally decided to let it go!   We headed in and got ready for bed.  She watched some Tiny Toon Adventures on DVD while I read and finally around 9:30 we turned off the lights and went to sleep!

P1130464The bed all ready for 2!  

I was pleasantly surprised by how well the night went!  She stayed on her side of the bed and didn’t snore!  She slept all night and didn’t wake up until 7! :-)

photo(63)Sound asleep!

Tuesday morning brought more Tiny Toons while I did chores and then a 2 mile hike down the Railroad Ford Trail!  She was armed with a bag to collect any treasures that she found, but we didn’t find anything that we could bring back!  We saw lots of mushrooms, interesting trees, squirrels, views and even some flowers, but nothing we could collect!

P1130471 P1130474 P1130477P1130476

After the hike the heat was really cranking up!  It was time to hit the beach for one last swim before we headed home!  This time we packed up the RV and drove around.  She wasn’t any happier with the squishy bottom, but she was more willing to kick and paddle and swim on her own out in the deep water.  She was acting like she scared, but she kept cracking a smile so I know she was playing with me! We swam around a little then she was ready for sandcastle building.  She enjoyed the sand while I stood in the water (I hate sand in my bathing suit!).  Soon it was time to go back to the van to get ready to head back home! 

She was not terribly happy about going home, said she wanted to stay forever and that today was an AWESOME day! :-) 

Leah’s 1st camping trip was a huge success and it won’t be her last!  Now, I’m off to buy a high backed booster seat!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The C.O.S.U

C.O.S.U = Console + Ottoman + Storage Unit

I was having 3 problems in the RVing that needed solving:

1) There was no place to put anything when I was driving.  No place to stash a granola bar or a tissue.  The passenger seat is too far away and the seats are so high that the floor is out of reach.  If something gets dropped it falls in the “no man’s zone” and cannot be retrieved until I stop.  In many ways this is a good thing because the fewer distractions while driving the better, but I really felt like it would be better if I had a place to put stuff.

2) The passenger seat swivels to become the “living room” seat while I’m parked.  I don’t always use the feature – the passenger seat is always covered with stuff that I’d have to move, but it’s nice when I don’t have a picnic table to eat at or if it’s too cold to be outside.  The seat is so high that my feet don’t quite touch the floor when the seat is swiveled and it’s uncomfortable.  I needed an ottoman.

3) I’m re-thinking how I’d like to arrange the closet and looking to put some plastic drawers in there, which means I needed to find a new place for my shoes. 

I was rolling around ideas for what would work and how to solve all three problems with 1 new piece of furniture. 

I found a crate in the basement – it came home from school with me at some point, I have no idea when or how I acquired it or who’s it was before it was mine!  The crate fit perfectly between the front seats and was the right height for the ottoman.  I took the crate with me when I went to Williamsburg over Memorial Day weekend, thinking Mom and I would come up with something. 

I’d seen some ideas on Pinterest for Milk Crate Stools and was thinking that I needed a lid for the crate and then I could create a cushion for it.  Mom helped me hatch the plan for the organizer on top…just glue some baskets to the back of the lid and flip it depending on what you need! Genius!

I needed a lid of some sort so we looked around the garage and came up with several options – a thick piece of plywood, a thiner piece of what looked like white paneling – looks like it would be a good back for a bookcase, and some other stuff I can’t remember.  I opted for the paneling and Dad pulled out his tape measure and saw and in about 10 minutes had the lid made.

I took the crate and the lid home and once home found a stash of fabric that had several good options, I also discovered a pile of polyester batting, and more than enough hot glue sticks!  I was going to be able to make the entire project without spending a penny!

Today I assembled the new piece of furniture!

The crate:


The lid Dad cut – it looks like it’s a white board, but it’s not really:


The fabric choices, the batting & the hot glue gun:

IMAGE_03EE9B7F-1242-4B73-9776-2B4911BCC184I was very close to using the striped fabric, but the hot pink was speaking to me this morning!  I think it works better with the purple baskets than the stripe would have.  I hadn’t even decided on the purple baskets when I picked the pink though!

To make the cushion I measured the fabric 3 inches larger than the lid I just guessed what I thought would work…and it worked, then folded a piece of batting up until it would fit on the lid with an edge around it so it would sit in the lip of the crate, and then glued the fabric to the lid.  I used hot glue to attach it, but I didn’t think it was going to hold long term so I decided to cover the fabric with Modge Podge.  This worked perfectly – the Modge Podge soaked into the fabric and stuck it like cement to the lid! 


I’d originally planned to put some trim around the edges of the fabric on the flip side of the lid (the side that was going to become the console), but when I actually did it I decided that the baskets I was attaching would cover the edge just fine!

Before I applied the Modge Podge I wanted to test the basket placement and make sure it fit when I flipped the lid over.  I attached them baskets with hot glue, thinking I’d just pulled them off since the fabric wasn’t sticking very well.  I was wrong.  The hot glue held those baskets like super glue! I was able to get them off, and applied copious amounts of Modge Podge!

After the Modge Podge dried I used hot glue to re-attach the baskets and I was done! :-)  Hopefully the hot glue holds for life, but it it doesn’t superglue is readily available!

The finished product: 

Set up as an ottoman:


Lid flipped over to reveal baskets for holding snacks and other necessities while driving:


Filled with all my shoes I’m taking (except my hiking boots…those are in the RV, hopefully they fit, but one pair of shoes will be on my feet so that will make room):


3 problems solved! A few hours of time!  And not a penny spent! :-)