Misc Liisa

Random musings

Day 7- Wandering through Wonder Land

Ok, so I’m still running a few days behind on keeping the blog up to date. Here it is Saturday afternoon and I’m still writing about Thursday (and then it’s Tuesday and I still haven’t posted this!). But there is too much to do and see to always find the time. My priorities are: 1- Explore, 2- Relax, 3- Take Care of Everyone(thing) and 4- Blog. It also took a few days to settle things out with “internet difficulties” before we finally found a wireless network to buy into since the ATT connections are lousy here and so is connectivity with the Verizon mifi card we have. It may look like you have connections, but you don’t. At all. Anyway, here goes with some more of our adventures.

Tom wanted to get in a couple of rides on his bike while we are here are Acadia and I was welcoming a day to sit around camp and work on the blog and some reading in my hammock. He got up and around and after some oatmeal got out on the road headed over to the Park Road. It’s never quick for him to get out on a ride. He likes to tinker with the bike as much as ride the thing and since it had been packed in the car (he refuses to risk damage on his Lemond Poprad by having it carried on the car) he had to put the wheel back on and check things out. But he got off and gone pretty quickly since we had gotten up so early.

One of the things about camping is that you inevitably adjust your schedule somewhat. It’s hard to stay in bed too late with the light streaming in the camper windows in the morning. And after a long day of driving and running around and then cooking over one burner or the fire, it feels like it’s time to go to bed once it’s been pitch black for a couple of hours. So it’s off to bed early (for us any way)!

While Tom was away I puttered around camp. I got breakfast and a shower and walked the dog. I washed up the dishes and straightened up the car and camper. I worked on organizing my rocks and photographers. I uploaded pictures and wrote more for the blog. I lay in the hammock and read some of my book. And before I knew it, Tom was back and it was time to make some lunch.

After lunch, we drove to a spot near our camp to hike out to a place called “Wonder Land”. We figured this short hike would be a good foray for Tenzin and we took a bag along to carry him if he needed to be carried on the way back. Wonder Land is a point that has a very rocky beach and at low tide many tidepools in the bigger rocks.

As we got there, there was a group waiting for an ambulance as someone had been hurt out on the rocks. They had been able to send in an ATV to get the person and bring him back to the road.

It was a beautiful spot and there were many things to explore. We were overly cautious parents, making sure that Tenzin didn’t fall or catch a foot in one of the many cracks in the rocks. He tripped on a rock in the middle of the path on the way out and we were worried that he was starting to get around okay again after his injury earlier in the week.  We found many good rocks and only got a little lost on the trail on the way back. We stopped at a grocery on the way back to camp and stocked up.

When we got back to camp, Tom noticed someone at a camp near us with just a tent and a fully loaded touring bike. He suddenly disappeared and I had no idea where he had gone until about half an hour later when he came wandering back to our camp. He told me that he had met a guy who was on a bicycle trip riding up to Acadia and around for 5 or 6 days. He was fascinated by the idea of a trip like that and intrigued by how little you could carry and how you’d get by. I was fascinated to see that he had gone and started a conversation with a stranger. This is something my dad always does and Tom’s mom does, but Tom almost never approaches a stranger to start a conversation.

That evening we noticed the “King of the Swings” was back at the playground. He was taunting a little kid with a mohawk and then the mohawk kid came back with his hair greased up to be spiky. It didn’t scare the king. The mohawk kid’s parents have moved camps earlier that day from one along the main road to one across the road from us. This particular camp inspires camp moving and we watched several people do it over the course of the week. Some carry their tents. Some load the car and go back and forth in trips. It all depends on how much gear you have and how much you want to break down.

A tall man walked into our camp and it was Austin, the bicycle guy who Tom befriended. He came to hang out and talk and enjoy our fire. We sat around the fire for a while talking about his trip and what there is to see at Acadia. He hung out for a while and left to go to bed even earlier than we do. I guess riding around 60 miles a day is a little more strenuous than the meandering we do!

We used the grill we have for over the fire and cooked bbq chicken and fresh local corn. It was delicious! We were a little freaked to realize that some neighboring campers were killing the lobsters for their dinner by stabbing them on the rocks by the road. I know people here are pretty lobster crazy, but that definitely didn’t seem to be the right way to prepare it for cooking.

See pics of today here- http://bit.ly/aHz2WP

Day 6- Aboard the Margaret Todd

Tom showed Liisa up by using just his 5 minutes for his shower this morning while she needed 10 minutes in order to finish shaving her legs. After 5 minutes you still have a little water to rinse with, but it’s very cold unless you put in another token. And what’s a dollar when shaving off goosebumps is at stake?

We found a health food store in Bar Harbor yesterday where we picked up some pancake mix and Maine maple syrup, so we decided to make pancakes this morning. We put blueberries in them and they were delicious. Actually, pretty much everything you make over the little stove at camp tastes pretty good. I’m not sure if it is the clean crisp air or the effort that goes into cooking this way or the simplicity of the food, but it all tastes pretty yummy.

Tom wanted to see more of the park, so we headed off for the Park Road. Tom had noted that “look, they have one of those crappy nature center things you like”- so we headed there. The nature center wasn’t great, but the Wild Gardens of Acadia were pretty. The parking at the Sands Beach was atrocious and we decided we didn’t need to see it that badly at that moment. After a few more stops, we decided we wanted to check out the Jordan House. There was a serious parking problem there. We wandered from lot to lot circling. I told Tom “We’re from NY. We lived near Palisades Center. We know how to trawl a parking lot.” But of course it still took forever to figure out where to leave the car. We finally found a place along the road and got the dog settled for a car nap. Then we headed over to Jordan House and got our names on the list for lunch.

Since my bloodsugar was getting a little low and from Tom’s grumpiness I figured his was low as well, I went into the giftshop and bought some taffy and chocolate covered blueberries to hold us until we got a table for lunch. It looked like the wait might be excessive, but it wasn’t too bad. We got a table on the patio looking out at the lake and ordered iced teas, popovers and chicken salad sandwiches. Tom and I both judge restaurants on their chicken salad and Jordan House did not disappoint. It was curried with cranberries, which is always a nice combo. We had ordered a side of popovers not realizing they would give us some along with the sandwiches. So we ended up with 5 popovers, which was plenty for us for lunch and then some to take to the dog (he likes a little lunch as much as anyone) and two leftover for another meal. The strawberry jam was excellent and we were inspired to go buy a popover pan to bake our own once we get home (I can’t quite figure out how to bake over the fire- yet). We decided that Jordan House was worth the wait for the parking.

After leaving there, we decided it might be a nice evening to take the 6pm cruise on the Margaret Todd. We headed into Bar Harbor and out to the dock, where we bought the last 2 tickets for that sailing. It left us with a little time to kill in Bar Harbor so we headed into town to try to solve my camera card issues. For some reason, the USB card reader I had with me was not reading my cards. I only had enough pictures left on the cards to get through the evening since the plan had always been to dump the cards to the computer and upload to Flickr as we went. A nice lady at the drug store suggested we go to Radio Shack where we were able to buy a new cardreader. We got the dog settled into the car for a nap while we road the boat and grabbed sweatshirts to go. (Seriously- the dog loves to sleep and he loves the car. He’d stay sleeping in the car all the time if we didn’t make him get out once in a while.)

We boarded the Margaret Todd after having our picture taken. We found space near the middle of the boat on the starboard side and got settled in. We quick did the math and realized that with 150 people per sail and 3 sails a day, they were pulling about $15K a day for this boat. It seemed a more lucrative gig than running a campground, but we figured the insurance and upkeep on a 151ft. schooner were nothing to scoff at. Tom was less than impressed with the fact that we had to leave the harbor with engines and get out to a place where they could set the sails. He was a little more impressed with the hoisting of over 4000 sq. ft. of sail. The boat sailed slowly through the harbor while Tom commented “and this is how they made it to the new world? really?”.

We saw a porpoise’s dorsal fin as it swam through the harbor, but no other wildlife of note. There was a family with a german shepherd on board who whined when he dropped his tennis ball and required constant bribes to stay quiet and not bother the two mastiffs that the captain had on board. With 3 large dogs on the boat, we were glad we left our little one behind.

We saw the Cat Ferry that used to run between Bar Harbor and Nova Scotia and was cancelled in February. They had told us in town earlier in the day that the boat was for sale. We also saw a couple of huge private boats moored in the harbor and lots of fishing boats and other small craft. There was another cruise ship just leaving the harbor and we found out there are about 5 ships a week that stop here.

The sunset was amazing as we sailed and then motored back to the dock. After we got off the boat, we wanted the dog to stretch his legs, so we walked through town stopping to look in shops. Many people told us to avoid Bar Harbor, that it had “sold out”. And though we’d agree it has it’s share of tourist-y shops, we think it is a cute little town with some interesting flavor. It may not be “ramshackle downeast Maine” per se, but it’s not bad.

Pics from today are here- http://bit.ly/blr15N


Day 5- Around Acadia

We wake up this morning and discover that Tenzin’s leg has improved overnight. He is still limping a little, but not hopping and definitely getting better with each step. We realized that he had fallen into a grating walking on Saturday in Falmouth and could have hurt his leg then. We also remember that he refused to walk on Sunday and insisted we carry him when we went to the race. Tom thinks that if his leg had been hurt, carrying him the way he did could have put pressure on it. We resolve to keep an eye on him and keep the hiking expectations for him to a minimum and keep an eye out for him to not get hurt again. He’s an old dog (12 years) and we can’t expect too much.

We decided the best thing to do with this first day at Acadia would be to get a lay of the land. But first, 5 minute showers. Or 10? We both take 2 tokens and Liisa discovers 5 minutes is enough and Tom feels challenged that she was able to do it. We’ll see who needs how many tokens tomorrow! Hmm. Maybe Somes Sound View isn’t so bad.

So after making some eggs and bacon at camp, we head off to see the NorthEast Harbor and then to hook up with the Park Road for Acadia. The day is sunny and just below 80 degrees with a light breeze. There is fog as we head into the NorthEast Harbor and wander around looking at boats.

We find that the roads significantly improve when you are in Acadia National Park. There are definitely crowds here, but the views are spectacular. We check out Otter Point and other spots along the road before making the classic car trek up Cadillac Mountain and getting stuck in a traffic jam. This becomes our first of many experiences of having to circle a parking lot before finding a spot so we could get out and wander. There is a cruise ship in the harbor near Bar Harbor and you can see the fog in patches across the tiny islands in the Harbor. Liisa is impressed with the pink granite that the mountain is made of and resolves to find a small piece for the collection.

Side Note- Tom is calling this the “Find the Perfect Rock” vacation (among other nicknames) because we are collecting a rock a day along the way.

After Cadillac Mountain, we head into Bar Harbor to get some sandwiches and we have a picnic on the lawn by the harbor. We wander the harbor path and note the Margaret Todd, a huge 4 masted schooner docked in the harbor. We add it to our list of possible things to do while we are here. Tenzin enjoys the picnic (he’s a sucker for roast beef sandwiches) and the walk along the harbor path. We are careful to make sure he doesn’t fall into the gratings since they have a lot of them here as well.

We head back to camp to check out the rest of our campground and see if the water access there will be good for kayaking. The path down from the pool at camp is steep and the sites along the way are small. There are several sites right along the waterfront with tiny tents pitched. We realize that the Somes Sound has a pretty significant amount of waves and decide that it isn’t the right place for us to kayak.

The campground is growing on us. Since it is sited on a hill around an old quarry, it isn’t really an appropriate place for people who are camping with big rigs. It’s more of a spot for tents and small campers. The sites are all somewhat unique and many are on large rocks or surrounded by rocks. The whole place is heavily wooded and few sites are sunny, which is rare for many of these places who are trying to pack in the campers. Tom overhears the woman at the desk explaining that it’s expensive to run a place like this and they have to have good months in June/July/August to survive the rest of the year since their season is so short. We get that. People here are pretty serious outdoorspeople who are quiet at night and out during the day. There is almost no one around camp during the day expect for a few new people setting up. At night there are no camps with lots of lights- just a few lights, a few fires and the people wearing their headlamps.

As we walk back up to camp, we stop by the bathhouse which is close to the playground. Tom overhears one big kid on the swingset tell the others “Hey- you homeboys better go home! I am king of the swings here!”. Tom tells me he thinks maybe he wants to be king of the swings. That’s nice honey. You have to go near the swings to be king.

We made a nice supper and got ourselves snugged into the Shadow to watch an episode of Better Off Ted on the iPad before reading and going to sleep.

Pics from today are here- http://bit.ly/926krs

Day 4- And the inevitable mishaps begin…

Start- Saco KOA, Old Orchard Beach, ME

End- Somes Sound View Campground, Somesville, ME

Miles- 182.4

Total Miles- 752.3

After dinner last night as we were packing in the kitchen, Tom closed the back hatch and I heard something. I pulled back up the hatch and discovered that he had left a steel cup in a spot where it would hit the door and it had created a semicircular crack in the birch ply of the back cover. It made both of us sick to see how easily this part of the trailer can be damaged.

During the night Tom awoke to the sound of rain and realized we’d left chairs and lamps out. He got up and moved everything under the trailer. We awoke in the morning to discover we’d survived our first serious rainstorm and were dry and snug in the Shadow. Our gear wasn’t much worse for the wear and we got around and Tom went for a run while I walked the dog. Tenzin and I discovered another similarly marked shih tzu on our walk and his owner noted that they were like “two chinese gentlemen” greeting one another.

After showers and breakfast, I noted that lots of people seemed to be packing up and I checked the “rules” sheet. Right. Check out was in 10 minutes and there was a charge if you were late. Seeing how they had been sticklers for most other rules, we packed up fast and got out of there.

It was still overcast and rainy and we headed for Portland to visit the L.L.Bean flagship store. The roads had been rough along the way and I thought I had heard something with the camper as we headed into town. We were stuck in traffic when someone ran into the road and knocked on my window. He said that the stabilizing bar of the camper was down. We got off the road and Tom got out to check. He said it seemed loose. He got it tucked back and I noted that it hadn’t seemed right when we left camp that morning.

We hadn’t realized that Portland is just a big outlet mall.  It was packed to the gills with people who were avoiding the rain and doing some shopping. It took forever to find a school parking lot where we could park the trailer. We left Tenzin napping in Blubaru while we headed over to the shops. We noticed a couple of L.L.Bean guys with a clipboard making notes in front of a couple of houses that were for sale. We joked that they were making plans to buy up more houses to expand the “campus” and then realized we were probably right.

We both stocked up on a few cool weather items at L.L.Bean and took pictures of the big boot. We got some camp stove fuel and found Tenzin a pillow (we hadn’t packed his and he’ll steal yours if he doesn’t have his own). We checked out Horny Toad and Patagonia. Then we decided to get some lunch and get out of Dodge. As we left, we noticed that the library building had been taken over by Abercrombie and Fitch and that the church across the street had a sign that said “God Is Still Speaking” as if to warn people away from thinking the building would make a good store.

Back on the road, we kept noticing that after bumps in the road we’d hear sounds. We kept stopping to check and sometimes the stabilizing arm would be down and sometimes not. It made for worrisome travel. Eventually it got to a point where we had to just stop and get out some tools and try to figure out what was going on. We discovered that the spring that holds the arm had come off but was still there. We called Preston from Miller Trailer to see if he had any ideas about how best to fix it. He gave us some ideas, but we didn’t have the needle nose pliers handy that would be necessary. In the end, Liisa was able to bungee the thing tight enough to hold it until we could get to camp. And fortunately our next step gives us a week to figure out how to get the thing fixed before we’re back on the road.

We got to the Somes Sound View Campground at around 7pm and it was still a little rainy out. When we pulled in, I was concerned that this would be a good camp since we are staying here a week. It was so hard from the internet to know exactly what each camp would be like and every camp had both positive and negative reviews. We were initially annoyed by the fact that though the camp is expensive, it has paid showers. $1 for 5 minutes.  Then as we headed towards our site, we were nervous that we were so far up a hill and away from the bathhouse. We managed to get the trailer into the site pretty easily and it was a nice site, but close to the road. We couldn’t decide right away if we liked it here or not. On one hand, the sites were nicely spaced apart and there are lots of trees. On the other hand, the bath house is a serious walk down a hill away from us and we are close to the main road. We guessed it might take a day or two to decide whether we loved or hated this camp.

After we got things setup, Tenzin got out of the car and suddenly couldn’t walk on his left back leg. It had been fine earlier in the day and we weren’t sure if maybe his leg was just asleep from having laid on it in the car for so long or if there was something more serious going on. He seemed to want to try to walk a little and circled the campsite a few times limping along. We figured we’d go to bed and if it was still bad in the morning we’d head to the vet we passed on the way onto the island. (Yes, I’m one of those people who notes when I pass a hospital or a vet or a grocery I might need later)

Pics from today are here- http://bit.ly/8X2Ton

Day 3- The Infamous Falmouth Road Race

Start- Bay View Campground, Bourne, Cape Cod MA

End- Saco KOA, Old Orchard Beach, ME

Miles- 193.6

Total Miles- 570

We packed up most of our stuff the night before since we knew we needed to get out of camp early in order to get to the race and find a spot to park the camper. We were up and showered and out of the camp pretty quickly- before many others were around. Originally we had come here because Tom was going to work one of the splits for the race. We’d found out the day before that the race organizers had nixed the split and that there really wasn’t work for Tom. But as a visiting race official (he’s got certification in 5 areas of judging from USA Track & Field) we had access to the finish area and the VIP seating in the tent and Tom is always interested in checking out how others run finish lines and score events.

We quickly ran into traffic getting into Falmouth. One of the things about bringing 9000+ people in to run a road race is that they come with cars (and lots of other stuff). We had eyed a large parking lot not too far from the finish line the day before as a good place that had possible pull-through spaces. Once we got there, we realized we weren’t the only ones who had eyed that lot. It was full. So we found a building with an “opening soon” sign in the window and parked in their lot since it didn’t look like they could possibly open in the next few hours. We got to the finish line and Tenzin and I got settled in some chairs in the back of the tent. Tom went to sit with David and check out the scoring operation.

The race at Falmouth started back in the early 70s when a bunch of guys who had been drinking at a bar in Woods Hole decided to run to another bar along the beach in Falmouth. It happened to be 7 miles and after running it, they thought it would be a good race. Tom’s college landlord, Dave Douba, was the winner of the first official Falmouth Road Race in 1973. Now there are more than 9000 people who come to Cape Cod every August to run the race. It’s a nice course through town and then along the beach road.

Tom thinks that we were bored at the race. Not so. It’s just that Tenzin had settled into a nice nap on my lap with his head on my purse and I didn’t want to wake him or bother any of the spectators who were actually there to see people run. So we sat and read. After the race, I got a picture of the winner with Meb by the port-o-john. Nice. And we got to see Frank Shorter.

We got back to the camper and back on the road, thinking we’d have an easy time getting to Old Orchard Beach. We almost immediately got caught up in the onslaught of racers leaving Cape Cod. At an entrance ramp, a particularly rude driver cut me off without even looking. The woman in the car leaned over and waved and Tom realized that it was Joan Benoit-Samuelson and her husband and two girls. She had just run the race. (For those of you who don’t know- she’s a US marathon celebrity having won the NYC Marathon more than once) I hope her husband isn’t that aggressive when he’s driving his UPS truck!

We stopped for lunch at Panera, which is what we consider to be acceptable fast food so we eat there a lot. It also happened to have a lot big enough to get the car and trailer into. And there was a Trader Joe’s next door, so we were able to pick up a few things for our on the road pantry.

We got to the camp at Old Orchard Beach in the early evening. It was a KOA, so on one hand there is always an expected level of service and on the other hand there are always rules. Tom was immediately annoyed by the fact that it had a gate that you had to give a deposit for a keycard to get out of. And they had a “greeter” who took you to your campsite. I was just happy that he didn’t stay around to “help” me park the trailer. We got settled in and camp setup pretty quickly.

I wanted to go down to the beach and see the amusement park there, so we packed the dog into Blubaru and went. This is always a struggle for us because I love these cheesy old amusement parks as being reminiscent of my childhood and Tom gets sick at the idea of something spinning. We wandered through the park and I decided to ride the Matterhorn while Tom took pictures. We were unimpressed by the beach, but a little frightened by the size of the bleeding sea birds who seemed at least 2 or 3 times as big as the gulls at the Cape. Then we got in a little skeeball action. The woman laughed at us for taking a few minutes to decide on whether to get the deck of cards or bouncy balls with our tickets (we got the cards). We debated whether to stay and try to win the 250,000 tickets necessary to get an iPad (we estimated it would take no more than $600 worth of games to get it). But instead we headed back to camp and made mango chicken sausage with yellow pepper and israeli couscous for dinner.

Pics from today are here- http://bit.ly/czbzQu

Day 2- Circumnavigating Cape Cod

Start- Bay View Campground Bourne, Cape Cod MA

End- Bay View Campground Bourne, Cape Cod MA

Miles- 124
Total Miles- 376

Today we got a leisurely start. Tom went for a run while Ten and I strolled through the campground. Then we grabbed showers (had to get the marshmallow from s’mores out of my hair) and had oatmeal and coffee at camp.

We met up with our friends David and Jermaine who are in town from Detroit for the race. The four of us and Tenzin wandered through Falmouth and we sat outside at Laureen’s for lunch. Tenzin and I enjoyed some lovely chicken salad with cranberries (he’s nit as discerning about chicken salad as Tom and I are, but he enjoys it just the same). Tenzin was well behaved and sat on top of my shopping bag (he prefers to not sit on the ground)- note to self, take him a little mat. We were happy to hear that David had recently settled a difficult legal battle he has been going through with a former business partner.

After lunch we decided to drive towards Provincetown and check out some beaches and we meandered through a bunch of towns.

One of the interesting things we noticed about Cape Cod is the large number of bookstores. Every town has at least one little independent store and likely a used store as well. There are significantly more bookshops than ice cream shops which either says something about what these folks like to do with their leisure time or something about how many months of the year it is not ice cream weather.

Another thing we noticed about Cape Cod is that in Massachusetts they seem to like using “mouth” in place names the way New York uses “kill”. They have Falmouth and Yarmouth and Weymouth and Plymouth. We have Fishkill and Peekskill and Plattekill. Our kills were named by the Dutch for creeks. And from the map it is clear their mouths were named for round bays shaped like mouths.

We ended up at a beach out at the Cape Cod National Seashore. One with cliffs and a steep slope down to the beach. I was cautiously inching my way down the slope when Tom ran back and pulled me down the last little bit. We walked the beach and realized it was cold and rocky, but pretty. Back to the car and we drove for miles to find an ice cream shop. It was one of the best hot fudge sundaes ever and Tenzin totally enjoyed his vanilla cup. I started to worry that dogs might get ice cream headaches.

We got back to camp just before dark. Tom was dismayed to realize that the open air theatre where they had a live band playing loudly was on a cliff overlooking our camper. After we found out that the band would play till 10pm, I tried to convince him to just go with it. We have 3 weeks to talk to one another. One night of listening to the Klassics play Elvis covers won’t kill us. After a dinner of steaks cooked in our fire pie cookers and some pasta and snow peas and wine, he even did the big shoe dance on the picnic table. We were tucked into the Shadow by 10pm since we had to get up and out early in the morning to get to the race. We heard a weird noise and I got out to check. Our neighbors had a blender and were making margaritas. They partied much of the night.

FYI- our Internet access is somewhat sporadic, so I’ll post when we can.

Pics from today are here- http://bit.ly/ceTmXn

Day 1- It’s never easy to get out the door

Start- Home Garrison, NY

End- Bay View Campground Bourne, Cape Cod MA

Miles- 252
Total Miles- 252

Accidents seen- 1 car in the median that had just rolled and several cars off the road.

We started on Friday thinking there were just a few more things to take care of before we left and we’d be on the road at noon. Most everything was packed, the car was looking like everything fit, it all seemed simple Thursday night. We just needed for Tom to pick up glasses and me to put stuff on iPads and drive some notes for our cat sitters and get their stuff together. I got up early and had a plan. But it was wishful thinking.

First, the Times got delivered, again. Tom cancelled it more than a month ago and has called repeatedly to get them to stop delivering it. But no. Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday there is still a paper in our drive. Tom got into another debate with them on the phone. He just doesn’t want papers piled up in the drive and another thing to ask someone to take care of while we are away.

I woke up with terrible wrist pain and no strength in my hand. An old problem with a nodule in my wrist that pinches the nerve was flaring up again. I packed my wrist braces.

Then the cat got out and hid in the garden and wouldn’t come when called. All of our cats are indoor cats, but the oldest one has rushed us at the door several times in the last month and then lingered around the house when he got out. We think he thinks that this is a privilege of getting old. He certainly uses it to taunt the others when he comes home smelling of catnip and catmint and telling tales of the chasing of chipmunks. He disappeared for an hour the first time and half an hour the second time. This really slowed us down.

Then we realized the cats had damaged a screen in the basement window and we had to fix it.

Then we discovered that the electric from the car to the trailer wasn’t right and the trailer lights wouldn’t work. This was very frustrating for Tom who feels he doesn’t know enough about how electricity works. With a little trial and error, we got it figured out.

By the time we finally got on the road it was after 2pm and Tom was having some severe hypoglycemia. He needed lunch, so that was our first stop, 20 minutes in to the trip.

And of course we ran into the usual Friday afternoon, everyone headed to the Cape, traffic. We detoured around what appeared as a big red line on 95 on the iPad. We’re not sure that the side roads saved us time, but they gave us the opportunity to discover that when you really have to pee and you have a trailer to worry about parking, a movie theatre is a good option for a stop. Twizzlers and bathroom.

In the midst of heavy traffic, Tom told me that he is always amazed there are so many other people. Then he tells me he is worried that the production crew has had to work hard to arrange all the extras we’ll need (he has a fantasy that his life is a tv show like that movie Truman and that all the challenges in his life are things the production team dreamed up to amuse the audience). I told him that the troubles getting on the road were just their way of buying some time to work out some details for filming in Falmouth. And that if this trip doesn’t go well, the show will be cancelled because the audience isn’t testing well.

Then he tells me he doesn’t remember how we used to get anywhere without iPads in the car. I rend him we used to use paper maps and get lost more.

By the time we got to the camp it was 8:20pm and dark out and I still had the challenge of backing in the trailer (always a good time). It is very hard to back in this little trailer. It jack-knifes very easily. Of course someone followed me and I had to circle around the camp. Then about 8 adjustments into the procedure I was blocking the camp road and cars in both directions. I managed to get out of the way enough to let them by after a few more adjustments and then got the trailer in a good enough spot that we could move it by hand (it’s about 800lbs unladen).

We were setup with a fire and chairs and all ready to camp by 9pm. We slept pretty well last night in our snug bed in the Shadow. It was cool out and we’re in a spot in the trees with high scotch pines overhead.

This morning as I sit by the fire pit drinking camp coffee and writing on my iPad, I can hear the people at the next camp talking about us “and did you see that little dog with the light around his neck and his own chair?” Then I look over and they realize I can hear them and they whisper. Yes, we’re fancy campers. All headlamped and geared out. And with a super cute tiny trailer.

People drive by in a truck and point at the trailer. I think I’m going to have a lot of ‘splaining to do on this trip. It’s a Silver Shadow. It’s a queen sized bed on wheels with a little kitchen. He’s a shih tzu. Yes, that’s his car seat.

More pics from today are here- http://bit.ly/9rzOFV

T Minus 19 Hours

By this time tomorrow, Tenz, Tom, me, Blubaru and the Silver Shadow should be in Falmouth- at Cape Cod. The big sabbatical adventure will be underway and we’ll be setup with the first of 12 campsites along our way.

There is one last big errand to run (Tom needs to pick up his new glasses in the morning) and still lots to get tucked away into the car and camper before we get on the road. Many things that should have gotten done before we left won’t be finished and that’s ok. We got done what we could and what was necessary (my new passport arrived!). Everything else can wait until we’re back.

It’s very surreal that this day is almost here. We’ve been talking about this for what seems like forever, but has actually only been a few months.

Well, back to that list of things that must get done before we go- tonight the miles to go before we sleep are only figurative ones, tomorrow they’ll be real.

Being prepared

Ok, so I was a girl scout. Maybe some of my penchant for preparedness comes from that. And maybe some it comes from having lived as a kid in two places (a house and a boat) and always having to make sure I had what I needed with me. Or maybe it’s because I’m a diabetic and I always need to be prepared for whatever my disease will require. Suffice it to say, I like to prepare and plan. And for a big trip like the the one we’re about to embark on, I’m going all out.

There are some vacations/trips that you may want to wing. But a 22 day, 13 stop camping trip across two countries isn’t one of those trips.

This is the kind of trip where you want to have everything you may need with you. You want to be prepared for all kinds of activities (hiking, biking, kayaking, swimming). You want to be prepared for all kinds of weather (cold, hot, rain). You want to be prepared for “impromptu relaxation” (hammock, kite, marshmallow roasting stick). You want to make sure you can get to where you want to go (car washed, tuned, and window deflectors installed). You want to be comfortable (camper ready, extra bedding, everything tested). You want to make sure the dog is ready (haircut, bags packed, car bed clean). You want to be sure things at home are ok (cat sitter ready, house clean, mail stopped, sick cat staying with trusted friends). You want to have plenty of entertainment (eBooks, movies and tv downloaded to iPads, iPod stocked with driving music, appropriate apps loaded, knitting, painting, photography gear packed).

And though not everything is done yet, by the time we leave tomorrow I (we) will be ready!

Adrenaline junkie

I can have little household projects on lists for months and invariably I put them off week to week in favor of other things to do. But then a visit is scheduled- a houseguest coming from out of town. And suddenly, I must fix things. The day before any houseguest is a time to avoid being around my house (as TK can attest). Because besides the usual cleaning and sweeping, I always find a bunch of things that just have to get done today.

This time, the guest is my niece visiting from Michigan. The cleaning involves both serious vacuuming and washing every bit of fabric to minimize the amount of cat hair she is exposed to (she’s allergic, we have 6 cats- you do the math). And on top of that I had decided that the bathroom needed a serious scrub and new caulking, which I had planned and completed the day before the day before. I had really wanted to do tiling work, but had ditched the idea knowing that there just wasn’t enough time. And I needed to finish painting the trim and door to the guest room- started the day before the day before, but not finished. And yes, I started all that laundry early, but the night before the day before we were making dinner and I heard water. I ran downstairs only to discover that water was pouring into the floor. Apparently the washer drain was clogged. After TK broke the drain snake, I found some drano and crossed my fingers. There was no time for a plumber and finishing the amount of laundry that needed to be done. Later that naught, we were back in business.

So I get up early the day before she arrives, ready to do battle. I just have to finish some paint and do some laundry and make up beds and clean, right? Sure. I make a plan to note when to do what. I realize that if I’m really going to clean the kitchen floor on my knees, I might as well do the super shine stuff as well. I always mean to, but it takes a spotless floor and another hour and when do you find that time? So I work it into my schedule and plan to do it midday between loads of laundry and while the cats nap. Then I discover that I have peeled some paint off a side table and think, well, if I’m going to have to touch it up, I might as well repaint it the color I’ve been meaning to for months. I start without realizing this is enamel paint that takes hours to dry. Ok. Go with it. Then FedX shows up. Then UPS. Right. The last pieces of gear for the trip. Get those unpacked and into the trailer.

Ok, so now it’s 4pm and I’ve gotten a bunch done, but we’re still not ready. And I’m sweltering. And I’ve had 4 low blood sugar episodes. But I got painting done. And a table painted. And the bathroom fixed up. And the kitchen floor all shiny. And the trailer set.

In the end, we got everything done that night but putting the covers back on the living room pillows and furniture, so we got up early to finish.

I don’t know why it always takes this sort of adrenaline rush, but I make the most of it. I got done more in 2 days than most people do in a week.