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Friday, October 12, 2018

Hurricane Michael & fighter jet - Day 1570 (Year 5, Day 109)

Virginia Beach, VA

We were very fortunate in that no tornado touched down near us and that after the storm passed, we did not sustain any damage (at least not as far as we can tell).  It was a terribly scary experience, however.  From about 10pm until 2am, the winds were howling and there were a number of gusts that reached 70mph.  I was fervently praying that the trailer would not tip over and that no tree would come thru the roof.

The area itself was hit pretty hard.  We lost power around midnight (now 9am the next morning and it's not back on yet).  Apparently there are 500,000 people without power, as there are loads of downed trees and power lines (at least it will be about 70 degrees today so I don't have to worry about no air conditioning!)  Lots of roads are blocked and traffic light are out.  Mitch has to be out and about working in those conditions!

UPDATE:  I was finally able to get a video of the F/A-19 Super Hornet fighter jet going overhead:

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Catch up - Day 1569 (Year 5, Day 108)

Virginia Beach, VA

Where to start?  Ok, I guess I should start with Hurricane Michael which devastated the Florida panhandle where my brother-in-law lives.  Still waiting to hear news about the condition of their home.  The storm, although it will be downgraded from hurricane to tropical storm with 35+ mph winds with gusts up to 60, are expected to arrive in our area this evening.  We are currently in a tornado watch zone, so keeping a strict eye on the weather.  I pray that at the next post, I will say all was just fine.

Some photos to share:

Here is the view out my front window.  Thankful not to see other RVs (although I do see them out my back window). As always, click on photo to get a better view.

This is a very interesting tree outside my trailer as well (no clue what kind of tree it is, but very interesting branches):

While taking my morning walk, I saw this interesting and award winning decorated campsite. People really get into holiday decorations!  I hope at some point I can get to meet the people who live there.  Can't wait to see what Christmas will bring!

Now, as promised, here is more information about our visit to VA Beach area on Sunday:

All over town, just like other places we visited, local artists decorate or paint structures.  Here are pillars under the bridge:

I took a walk on the sand and went into the water up to my knees.  The water was quite comfortable and had I planned to go swimming, I would have worn a bathing suit (Mitch was wearing long pants and sneakers so he was far from going in the ocean).  I would have given anything to jump the waves, but alas, I would have been walking around all day in wet clothes, so I chose not to.  Here are photos of the beach and me walking back from the water.  I have to admit it was awesome! I love the beach (being that I grew up in a beach area...)


Next, there was potentially a LOT of walking to do.  All along the boardwalk, they rent bikes and surreys.  I have difficultly with balance on a regular bike (not to mention that due to my hip arthritis, I can't lift my leg high enough to mount a standard bike), so we explored renting a surrey, which is pedal vehicle for anywhere from 2 to 8 people.  Here is a photo of me on it.  Mitch and I used it to ride up and down the boardwalk, as well as from the rental place (not too far from where we parked) to the sand sculpture venue:

We rode to the Sand Sculpture Championship tournament a few blocks away.  Amazing is an understatement.  Below is a link to a photo album I created about it.  Each photo has a description on the bottom left side, so watch for those.  (To view the album, after you click on the link, click on the first picture, which will put it in full screen mode and you'll be able to see the descriptions.  Then use the arrows on either side of the photo to advance to the next one.)

My album:

Here is also a link for more professional photos, which also includes status of the winners:

Still a lot of things to do in the area, so looking forward to more exciting posts.  In the meantime, hope to post tomorrow with status after Hurricane Michael passes through.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Fun day - Day 1565 (Year 5, Day 104)

Virginia Beach, VA

It was a really nice day, doing things that will be carved in the memory bank.  I will only give a very brief summary, as there's so much to write about, as well as making a photo album to share, and I don't have the time or energy to do it now.  So, to be continued hopefully tomorrow or later this week ....

  • Went to the beach
  • Went to a sand sculpting championship exhibit
  • Rode a surrey on the boardwalk
  • Visited a farmer's market
One thing I will add about my impressions of the area from driving around... other than the beach section, which reminds me of Panama City Beach and Myrtle Beach, with all the tourist & beach item shops, and numerous restaurants and hotels/resorts, the rest of the area reminds me very much of Cary/Raleigh, NC with numerous "commons" -- kind of like a bunch of strip malls put together, one after the other.

Friday, October 5, 2018

First impressions VAB - Day 1563 (Year 5, Day 102)

Virginia Beach, VA

We thankfully arrived in Virginia Beach safe and sound at around 12:30 pm yesterday (Thursday) afternoon.  We left the rest area at 7:30 am.  We split the driving 50/50, with me doing the first part of the 250 mile trek.  Overall, the drive was uneventful except when we hit a tunnel near VAB and needed to pull over to have our propane tanks inspected (although all they did was ask us if our propane tanks were on; we said they were but Mitch got out and shut them off, and then we were good to to).

I haven't really had a chance to explore the campground yet, so I will post more in the future.  These are just my first impressions.  It is one of the resort campgrounds, with tons of family activities, although the area for extended stay guests is almost a half mile away from everything, and most of the activities end at Labor Day.

We were extremely surprised to learn about their rules & regulations.  After we checked in, we were given a 3 page document which spelled everything out.  I'd say I wish I knew about this in advance, but unfortunately, this was the ONLY place that had availability at this time, so even if we knew, it wouldn't have made a difference (although we are considering moving when something else is available).  Among them were (1) although they state that all sites have picnic benches & fire pits, extended stay sites did NOT have those; and (2) we are responsible for mowing our own lawns!!!   In the 4+ years of travel, we have never, ever encountered this, although from what I can tell, it's really not all that unusual.  On the plus side, we're going into the fall/winter so hopefully there won't be as great a need. Perhaps I can find a kid in the campground who can do it for me.  Also, on the plus side, the amount of grass is nowhere near what it was like at our home in NJ!  And the campground does lend push mowers so I don't need to worry about equipment.  As mentioned, I will post more about the campground itself when I have more time to explore it, as it's a big place.

Also, before we put in an application for an extended stay,  they required we send photos of our RV as they want to make sure the "residents" aren't an eyesore.  It was a major disappointment (and I did complain) that our next door neighbor was indeed a huge eyesore, with weeds overrun the property and broken items laying around.  Interesting, after I complained and after we went out for a few hours, when we returned, all looked very good!  I'm sure they got after their case.

As for the area, still loads to explore but compared to Augusta, GA, there are many, many things to do and places to see, so expect lots of posts here over the next few months. 

Since it was a full day of travel and then setting up home (which also involved a thorough vacuuming and cleaning), I didn't feel like cooking.  Also, since our travel food was nowhere near my diet friendly, I figured why not just have one last splurge and go out to eat?  We did a little research and found a nice Indian restaurant near the Walmart where we needed to pick up a few groceries.  From only that one direction, my impression is that it reminded me much of Cary, NC where there is one very confusing shopping area after another.  We're 2 miles from the beach and I'm sure as we drive around, we will find even more shopping centers and touristy stores.

Another major thing in the area is that we aren't too far from the Oceania Naval Air Station, where they have the Navy F/A-18 fighter jets doing lots of practice runs.  I'm hoping to get a photo or video at some point, as they seem close enough to almost touch!  It's quite a difference watching private planes or commercial jets flying overhead versus fighter jets!  I'm sure I'll get used to it when the novelty wears off, but for now, it is truly awesome!  For today, quite an air show!

As for a Jewish community, I'm sure I previously  mentioned that we'll be a little too far from a Chabad community (25 miles) but there is a Conservative shul nearby, which is extremely progressive.  It will be quite a huge adjustment for us, but hopefully still better than being totally isolated with nowhere to go.  Will let you know in future posts how that worked out.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

On the road again - Day 1561 (Year 5, Day 100)

Fayetteville, NC

We thought, and were hoping that we would have at least one more Shabbat in Augusta and leave for Virginia Beach on Sunday, Oct. 7th (thus also not having to worry about both of us having to take time off of work).  But, alas, Mitch's boss called him at 5:00 pm last night and said he wanted him out NOW.  So we frantically packed up and tried to tie up a lot of loose ends.

We made it to the halfway point and are staying overnight in a rest area.  It's a 450 mile trip total; we drove 230 today.  Plan to leave between 7 and 8 am and hopefully will get to the campground by 2pm.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Almost end of holidays; marching orders - Day 1558 (Year 5, Day 97)

Augusta, GA

So many holidays this time of year; starting from Rosh Hashanah, to Yom Kippur, then Sukkot, which lasts 8 days.  All of which require hours in synagogue.  The last day of Sukkot, also known as Shemini Atzeret, is another very special day and is celebrated tomorrow (Monday, Oct 1st) and then comes Simchat Torah, a celebration which commemorates reading the last portion and then starting at the beginning again of the Torah (Jewish bible; Old Testament).  It's a time of joy, with singing and dancing (often in the streets).  So back to services tomorrow morning and then again in the evening (and Mitch will go back on Tuesday morning). 

Meanwhile, we were informed on Thursday that we need to pick up and leave and go to Virginia Beach until probably around March (right now there's a 95% chance that we'll be leaving next Sunday).  Although I'm happy about the beach, there are several reasons that I'm not at all looking forward to this:  (1) I wanted to go south, not north.  Not looking forward to yet another cold winter; (2) we made our flight reservations for our November vacation based on being assured we'd be staying in Augusta until at least until we returned; now we need to change travel plans (although we're working out logistics for the company to pay the extra fees involved -- we have a verbal ok, but need to get it in writing, thus the 5% chance we might stay until November); (3) it's still hurricane season and that area is one that tends to get hit hard.  On the bright side, it is near the beach and there are many things to do in the area to keep us entertained for a while (not to mention great seafood).  We'll also be near a Jewish community, albeit not Orthodox, but better than being isolated like we were in Williamsburg.  Then again, Norfolk, the closest Chabad, is only 25 miles away.

But it is what it is and you gotta do what you gotta do.  No real options here if we want to pay our bills.  Just need to make the most of it.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Getting ready for Sukkot - Day 1551 (Year 5, Day 90)

Augusta, GA

Once again, the time rolls around to build our sukkah - a booth we're supposed to dwell in for 7 days, to remind us of the booths our ancestors lived in while traveling in the desert, and to also remind us about how fragile life is, but we're always in G-d's protective hands.  It can remind us how we're all equal in G-d's eyes:  for a rich man to leave the luxury of his mansion to live in his sukkah, he realizes how much he has to lose; for a homeless man, it provides him shelter (although not from the rain!)

Below is a photo of Mitch building it.  This link gives a lot more detail, and includes a video of the history behind our specific sukkah:

And now, complete (sans chairs in it).  Note: the tarp (walls) are semi-transparent and due to the way the sun is hitting it, it appears that the picnic bench is inside.  It's actually behind the sukkah.

This is the first time ever when we have "shvitz'd" (heavy sweat) during Sukkot.  Then again, it's the first time we've been in the South for the holiday, where the temps are in the 90s.

There are quite a few events at our shul this week, including sushi in the sukkah on Thursdsay.  Looking forward to it!  We were invited to the rabbi's house to have lunch in his sukkah after services tomorrow (I'm taking the morning and 1/2 afternoon off; Mitch is taking Mon and Tues off).