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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Marching orders - Day 1405 (Year 4, Day 311)

Williamsburg, VA

This is probably the last post I will be writing from this address.  Mitch got a call this morning and was told he needs to be at his next assignment - in Augusta, GA - on Monday.  Gotta love how they don't give much notice!  He's off work tomorrow and will get as much accomplished then.  Augusta is on the eastern side of the state, literally over the border of South Carolina.  From here, it is about 475 miles.

The hope is to finish up packing on Sunday, leave in the morning, travel about halfway.  We have a friend who lives near that halfway point (St. Pauls, NC) who has a large property where we're invited to "moochdock" (or there's a Walmart up the road where we can park overnight as well).  We'll travel the rest of the way on Monday morning. Not looking forward to that, as the weather forecast is for rain and thunderstorms in the area.  Not fun towing, let alone setting up in the pouring rain.  But no other options with the timing unless we push ourselves all the way on Sunday and arrive after hours (it's about another 3 1/2 hrs).  We'll PIBE (play it by ear).

What's really sad is that a couple just moved in next to us yesterday (they are "workampers").  They not only seem like a real fun couple to hang around with, but are also Jewish, which is a rare thing to find when camping.  I do wish we had more time to spend with them.  Sigh.

See you on the other side!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Summer, then Spring - Day 1404 (Year 4, Day 310)

Williamsburg, VA

On Saturday, Mitch and I actually did follow through on the plans (click to see the previous post) to make the hike up the nature trail and go swimming.  It was 85 degrees, so perfect swimming weather.  We were surprised to find that we had this enormous pool all to ourselves!  After swimming, we hung out in the "activity center" which was a pretty cool place: it was a room filled with all kinds of games - from billard tables, knock-hockey and a foosball table, to life-sized Connect Four and Checkers.  Plus a bunch of board games (and, of course, a number of tables and chairs).  After a few hours, we hiked back to our site.  Oddly enough, we found hiking down the hill a bit more difficult than hiking up.  Perhaps because we had to use different muscles.

Sunday was another day in the 80's (we didn't do anything special that day) so we were convinced that spring had bypassed us, other than the trees starting to fill out nicely and colorful flowers and bushes popping up all over the place (maybe Sunday we'll go back to Colonial Williamsburg to the gardens area.  Must be lovely right about now).  Well... this was not to be the case.  On Monday morning, we woke up to temps in the high 30's and I had to change back to heat pump, fireplace and space heater.  Highs were in the 60s.  It looks like this pattern will continue for the next week or two, so, yes -- Spring has arrived.  The 2 days of summer were only a tease.

On another note, G-d willing, we are planning a special vacation later this year to celebrate our 40th anniversary, and do a renewal of vows.  We've been doing a lot of research and have finally narrowed down the choices to several all-inclusive resorts in Jamaica.  This travel will require passports and I discovered that mine expires this year in June, so I need to renew mine (Mitch's doesn't expire until 2022).  Today I went to have my passport photos taken so I can mail in the application tomorrow.  I smiled for the camera and was told "no, you can't smile.  They have special requirements and it has to be like a mug shot."  Ok, here's my mug shot.  All that's missing are the numbers and a striped uniform!!!

Friday, April 13, 2018

I did it!!! Day 1398 (Year 4, Day 304)

Williamsburg, VA

First, about the truck.  Mitch did get it back yesterday so he only had to suffer one day with the stick shift loaner.  Turned out to be the bad sensor to the fuel pump, which the first mechanic (who turned us away after taking 2 weeks to order the part) had diagnosed.  So hopefully that's it for a while.

I did it -- I took the hike on the nature trail, up the mountain, to the main campground (I was going to attempt it yesterday but I chickened out).  I took my hiking stick and 2 bottles of water.  This was not a cardio outing my any stretch of the imagination, as I took it very slowly, lots of little baby steps and lots of resting.  Since I have arthritis and bursitis in my hip, walking any short distance is difficult, thus the need to go slow and rest.  If anything, this is hopefully good strengthening exercise for my leg.

Many, many years ago, while living in NJ, we did a nature hike in the mountains but the only way to follow the trail was with a map, a compass, and watching for marks on the trees.  This was nothing even close, as there was a very clear cut path; mostly dirt but some areas had gravel (one could also see recent bike tracks).  But there was no way to get lost on it.  Although it was uphill all the way, I suppose by going so slowly, it didn't feel as bad as I expected.  I also took 2 Aleve before I set off to help diminish the inflammation and pain.

It wasn't a very scenic walk but I really did enjoy the silence broken only by various bird songs.  There were a few new ones that I hadn't heard before and I wish I could have identified them.  I did see something bright red fly by, but it was too far away to get a good look.  With a good set of binoculars, it could be a great birding area.  I also did meet a gentleman and his dog walking the trail (he made it back and forth by the time I made it forth!)  I found the other campground to be so much nicer - more resort-y - than this secluded section.  They have a big, beautiful, heated pool,  which is actually open now.

I'm proud that I forced myself to go beyond my comfort zone and attempt this hike.  But I was way too tired to make the trek back.  I went to the office and asked one of the guys for a ride back to my site.  They were very busy there and although they obliged in a sweet manner, I'm sure they were not that happy about it.  I promised not to do that again unless I can either walk back myself or time it so that Mitch can come and get me (I can probably hike back myself if I take a bit more time to rest).

Tomorrow's weather is supposed to be like today's: sunny and about 85 degrees** (tomorrow is Shabbat).  The plan is that Mitch and are are going to hike up tomorrow, taking a backpack filled with water, food, towels,  flip-flops and other goodies, and spend most of the day at the pool.  After several hours, we should be able to hike back (which will be downhill anyway).

** Just yesterday morning, I had the fireplace and my space heater on, and the thermostat set to 74.  Today I put the space heater away for the season and turned the air conditioning on!  Did we go straight from winter to summer overnight?

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Into the Fire - Day 1397 (Year 4, Day 303)

Williamsburg, VA

As you know, as of Monday, Mitch started traveling 120 miles extra per day to his maps.

Yesterday (Wednesday), the truck broke down again!  It started losing power and then just petered out.  Fortunately, he was able to get to the shoulder on time (interestingly, a huge tractor trailer pulled up behind him and stayed there for a little while.  As the driver didn't get out, it's unclear whether he needed the same stretch of road for his own pullover, or if he was there to lend some protection!).  Not a clue what it is this time, but could have to do with the high pressure fuel pump that was replaced 2 years ago (still under warranty).

Mitch was right outside of Richmond, about 45 miles away but chose to pay the extra cost and get towed to Colonial Truck & Trailer, the mechanic we've been using and are very happy with (as opposed to being towed to the closest facility in Richmond where he neither knew anyone and would have to figure out a way to get back home, how to get to work and how to pick up the truck when ready).  He picked up a load of groceries before heading home at 3:30 (before the breakdown).  Finally walked in the door at 7:30 pm.

Now here's the fire part -- last time they gave us a little pickup as a loaner to use.  We asked if they would have something again this time, and yes they did, but it was a Saturn, not a truck.  Sure, that would be fine; Mitch would just need to put his huge gas tank in the back seat.  What they didn't mention was that this was a stick shift (manual transmission).  Now, to those of you who have driven one, it's no big deal.  But Mitch (and I) have never driven one before.  There was no one around at the mechanics (they left the keys for him under the mat in the car) to even show him what to do.  Fortunately, he knew the general concept, but it still stalled quite a number of times (personally, I don't think I could ever get the coordination required to use both feet).  Today his biggest challenge is stopping for red lights and making left turns.  He said it was easier and safer for him to walk across an 8 lane highway than try to drive across and stall.

What really amazed me was Mitch's attitude when he got home.  I'd be shaking, yelling, and overly wound-up.  He just kind of shrugged it off and said "it could have been a lot worse."  And of course he's right.  At least he has a loaner car, even if it's one he had to be thrown into the fire to learn how to drive.

On a completely different note... it was a nice day yesterday and I wanted to take a walk.  I decided that I might do a bit better, especially around this terrain, if I had a walking/hiking stick.  I chose to walk to the back section of the park, into the start of the nature trail where there are a lot of dead trees and fallen branches, to see if I could find anything.  Lo and behold! - there was one very perfect one laying right there with my name on it (metaphorically).  It will be even more perfect when I remove the excess bark, sand it down and lacquer it.  Anyway, having this walking stick, I started walking into the nature trail which leads to the other campground, about a mile away up the mountain.  Not a lot of pretty scenery to look at though - only bare or dead or fallen trees.  I was hoping to spot some deer but only saw and heard some crows.  I got about 1000 feet up the trail and then realized it was probably not a good idea to go it alone (not knowing anything about this trail) and that I should have some water with me, especially since my throat was already starting to feel dry. 

However, the walk did leave me with the feeling of really wanting to do this again.  I think I'll be perfectly safe as long as I take my time and go slowly, use the stick, and take water and my phone.  And I would plan on asking one of the guys in the office to give me a ride back to the site.  Now I just need to get over my fear of going it alone.  They always close the trail after it rains since it gets very muddy and dangerously slippery.  So far it's been pretty dry, so if I'm gonna do it, I should do it within the next few days.  I'd wait until Saturday and go with Mitch but then we can't get a ride back (being Shabbat when we're not supposed to ride; we only break the rules to travel to and from synagogue).  As I'm writing this, I'm coming up with all kinds of excuses in my mind.  It's gorgeous outside right now - I am going out for a walk now and taking my walking stick.  Let's see where that leads me....

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

This weekend's "events" - Day 1396 (Year 4, Day 302)

Williamsburg, VA

Friday night/Saturday was the 8th and final day of Passover, which is also considered a holiday day and when special, additional festival prayers are recited.  We wanted to go to services, but not back to Norfolk, so we went to the place in Newport News.  As expected, the rabbi wasn't there and there wasn't even a minyan (group of 10 men required to recite certain prayers).  In fact, the person leading the services omitted some stuff and when I asked him about it, he admitted that he really didn't attend services very often and was winging it.  Could have just as well stayed home (Mitch disagrees with me; he felt uplifted being with a community).

 On Thursday of last week, Mitch got a call from his boss telling him that he'll be working on maps in Mechanicsville/Hanover VA, which is about 60 miles from here.  Due to NASCAR coming to the area, camping season having just begun, and the fact there are only 5 campgrounds within a 30 mile radius, it was impossible to find a place to relocate.  So Mitch is now traveling an extra 120 miles (2 hrs) a day.  At least he gets paid for time and mileage.  Still, a lot of $ for gas and wear & tear on the truck.

So, getting back to this weekend... on Sunday we started off the day with Mitch fixing up a few minor things around the rig (such as cleaning out the air vents and fixing the screws on the dining room chair).  We then went out for a bit of shopping: looking for a new tablecloth and placemats, but didn't see anything we liked (plus we forgot to take measurements!)  It was a nice day and I didn't feel like going back home; I was itching to take a walk.  Mitch suggested around the campground but I was really restless and getting sick of the same scenery.  He was also tired and not in the mood, but he worked really hard to please me.  He had to get propane at the main campground, and I noticed there are about 6-8 geocaches there.  So rather than going to the state park at the end of the road which borders on the York River (still a goal), we did a little geocaching.  They were pretty easy to find, but I discovered that the other campground is even more hilly than this section, so we did a lot of climbing just on the roads!

The first was in the jumping pillow area and the second one was in a tree near the bathhouse.  Maybe next weekend we'll go back and look for more (or go to the park and find those).  We found 8 so far, but we have a friend who has found over 4000!!!


Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Seders and goodbye URB-e's - Day 1389 (Year 4, Day 295)

Williamsburg, VA

First, we got the truck back on Monday afternoon.  Glad to have it working again!  Part was only a few hundred $, but with all the labor of taking the engine apart, it was still over a grand.

We took the loaner truck down to Norfolk.  We stayed at the EconoLodge near the airport, about 7 miles away from the shul.  What a total dump, but I guess you get what you pay for.  Anything closer was about $125/night (this was $49).  Services themselves were enjoyable and the food was delicious (totally went off my diet with all the matza and gefilte fish!)  I did not really find the congregation members to be especially welcoming to strangers.  But who knows -- maybe there were so many strangers there, that the regulars didn't know who to welcome first?  And the rabbi apologized for not having time to spend with us personally as he was extremely busy with all the seder preparations.  I probably would give the place another try at a less busy time, if we were in the area.  Not planning to travel there again from W'burg.

We were finally able to find a buyer for the urb-es and we handed them off yesterday.  One last photo to remember them by (collapsed):

It just didn't make sense to keep them since I'm mostly afraid of riding it anywhere (having some balance issues) and Mitch is hardly using his for work any more.  These days they're just taking up more space than being used, and the cash is better off in our pockets.

Still no news about our next move (we were supposed to be here until mid to end of March.  Yeah, right!)  Actually, the main section of the campground is open now and very crowded, whereas this section has emptied out a bit.  My neighbors on both sides have left, which means I have more scenery to view out of my windows instead of other RVs.  I do like that.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Passover & truck - Day 1385 (Year 4, Day 290)

Williamsburg, VA

Well, the truck is still not ready.  We're told it will be ready this afternoon, but probably not until after we need to leave for Norfolk, so we'll pick it up on Monday.  At least we know they've been working on it.  Turns out it was NOT a bad fuel injector, but rather a bad O-ring in the high pressure oil pump (the entire pump having been replaced 2 years ago).  Thankfully, this means that the cost will be far less than expected, and we're still grateful to have the loaner truck.

That being said, it has been a busy few days koshering the place, but at last all is finished, with foil and plastic covering all surfaces, chometz sold or disposed of, Passover plates, pots & pans, and utensils out.

It has been our tradition that on the night before Erev Pesach, since the kitchen is newly koshered for the holiday, but Passover hasn't started yet, I can't cook non-KP foods in the kitchen, so we always go out for dinner. We decided to splurge and go to the place I wanted to go to for my birthday: Food for Thought.  As a reminder, this place has a literary theme (also has a little library!).  Even the menu is rather literary and charming.  You really do need to read every word for entertainment:  Here are some photos of the place (the walls are also decorated with pictures of famous authors, scientists and other key innovators, as well as numerous quotes):

Logo, with Ben Franklin

Little library nook when you enter

Huge painting of Roman scholars, directly in front of you when you enter

Sculpture, also when you first enter

For at-the-table entertainment (in case you can't think of anything to talk about), they have 2 sets of trivia card games and "Food for Talk" on the table

This Sunday is also Easter Sunday, so to all my Christian readers, Happy Easter! 

I'd also like to give a special "warm" welcome to Spring, which I think has finally arrived.  Temp was about 85 degrees yesterday (back in the 70s and 60s for the rest of the week and next), but I think the 30's and 40s are behind us for at least another 9 months!  Trees are starting to bud, and there are daffodils and azaleas in bloom.  Life is returning.  Such an appropriate time of year to celebrate rebirth.