The Great California Escape – Eight Weeks Under our Belts

The Great California Escape – Eight Weeks Under our Belts

We began our great escape from California almost eight weeks ago. The trip has been loaded with blessings and sprinkled with challenges. I last posted about our travels after we visited Ohio. We went there to see friends that we met on last year’s trip to Florida. We have been blessed to meet the most wonderful people on our RV excursions over the past four years. It’s been great to have folks to visit all over these beautiful United States.

From Ohio, we headed to Pennsylvania on route to pick up our tow vehicle in Maryland. We sold practically everything we owned before departing the not-go-golden state for good. With the recall of gruesome Newscum going down to defeat, we couldn’t be happier to be out of it. We sold all of our vehicles because we didn’t intend to give California another penny for registration, and my car was not flat-towable. As I mentioned in my earlier post, we saved over a thousand dollars on the motorhome registration alone when we switched it to South Dakota, our new legal domicile. We have to return to the state every three years and stay at least 24 hours in Pennington County to keep our residence up to date. If you are thinking about becoming a full-time RVer and have questions about this process, please email me, and I’ll be glad to offer advice.

Tommy had been searching the internet for a flat towable car that had all of the proper towing equipment included since we left California. He’d done a lot of research, and we have talked to many fellow RVer’s. The Blue Ox system has had fantastic reviews, and it’s what Tommy was hoping to find. He saw a few possible matches, but they were never anywhere near us. Last month he found a 2009 Ford Explorer with one of the top Blue Ox tow packages in Maryland. The gentleman that was selling it was going to New York for a week. So, it wasn’t a problem for him to wait for us to make the drive from Ohio. The date was set. I found a KOA close to his house to stay at while we took care of the transaction. Talk about a blessing! This car is so clean that it looks brand new. Mac, the car’s owner, takes care of his stuff. We are thrilled with our purchase.

Back to our drive to Maryland. The drive to Ohio had been stressful, and we hoped for a more pleasant exit from the state. It didn’t start out very well. Despite doing plenty of research on Google Maps and RVTripWizard, we ran into some problems. We’d chosen what looked to be the best route, and I had a picture of it on my phone. We entered the destination address into the motorhome’s GPS, and the blue course it offered seemed to match the one on my phone. Off we went, and it was a beautiful drive. The county roads that lead to the highway were windy and small, but the views were gorgeous. Beautiful scenery doesn’t impress Tommy one little bit when he’s driving a 40-foot motorhome at a snail’s pace, tight turn after tight turn. He was handling the situation pretty well when Samantha, that’s our GPS guide’s name, told us to make a left turn on Crooked Road. Could the road get more crooked, we wondered? On the approach, we saw that a huge truck and trailer were backing up into the road, and it looked to be having difficulties. I hopped out of the rig and went to ask the man giving the truck driver directions if turning there was a good option. That’s when I noticed that it was a dirt road. Needless to say, he suggested that we didn’t take the Crooked Road. He told me that he was sure we’d find a better option if we kept going straight. One catastrophe was avoided because of God’s timing. A truck blocking the road wound up being a blessing.

We had three days to get to Maryland, and I hadn’t booked any stays in between because I wasn’t sure how far we’d want to go. What I did know was that we needed to do some serious shopping. I don’t remember the last time our refrigerator was that bear. We headed towards Pennsylvania and were on Hwy 36, which looked to be in the middle of nowhere. In Coshocton, Ohio, right off of the freeway, was a super Walmart, Yahoo! We have been trying to boycott Wally World as much as possible because we are angry about them replacing all of their checkers with self-check cash registers. We feel like their loyalty is misplaced, and they are doing severe damage to working Americans with this policy. Not to mention that self-check is a pain in the butt. We have stood in long lines in the only check stand operated by a human being because we refuse to scan our own groceries. If you have any produce in your cart, it’s not a game you want to play. Not only was this Walmart almost empty, but three checkers were waiting to serve us. We walked right up and put our groceries on the conveyer belt. Our checker was very pleasant, and we were out of the store in record time. Blessing number two. Thank you, Jesus. We had a fully stocked frig, and it wasn’t even 10:30 a.m. What a wonderful surprise.

On travel days, we try to stop and get a nice lunch. I hate cooking after being on the road. We usually have leftovers, so I don’t have to worry about fixing dinner. Low and behold, on I-77 in Kimbolton, Ohio, we found Jackie’s Family Restaurant. I’d Googled restaurants near me, and it wasn’t too far off of the interstate. As it turned out, it was pretty easy to park the motorhome. That in itself was a huge blessing. You never know when you bring up a restaurant in your search engine if you can park close to it. We’d attempted to go to another restaurant where parking was a challenge. Tommy did his thing, and we found a spot. After walking to a place with five-star reviews, we were greeted by a sign on the door that said a water main had broken, and they were closed until further notice. With our heads hanging down, we headed back to the motorhome. We stopped at another restaurant that we’d passed on the way, and it too was closed because of the water main issue. It was another 30 miles to find Jackie’s, and we were glad that we did. Tommy had liver and onions for the third time on this trip, and it was the best that he’d eaten. I had a great burger served by our lovely and overwhelmed waitress, and we left with happy tummies. The service industry is in dire need of people that want to work for a living. We are always sure to tip well and be patient and kind to the great people serving us.

We felt so accomplished, and since we had three days to make our journey, I suggested to Tommy that I start looking for a place to spend the night. I found the Spring Valley Campground in Cambridge, Ohio. They had just received a cancelation for one of their larger sites. It was only $38.00 for the night, and it was a great little campground on a small lake. Since we didn’t need to leave early the next day, I was able to take a fantastic walk and got to see more horses. I do love my horses. I couldn’t pet them because a sign next to the electric fence said they might bite. It was a lovely final morning in Ohio. It is by far the greenest state we have ever seen, and we’ve been to 39 of them. We will definitely be returning to it. It may even be a good option for an extended seasonal stay.

I’d made some calls to RV parks in Pennsylvania the day before, and many were booked up. I left messages at a couple of parks and emailed one. I told Tommy that I may had blown it by not having a destination to stay at for Friday and Saturday nights and when we’d gone to bed, I had no idea if we’d find a place to stay. The following day when I opened up my email before my walk, there was a message from the Saunderosa RV Park in Mercersburg, PA. The message said that she’s had a cancellation and could put us in a nice big site for two nights. They were also having a festival on Saturday. It was a fabulous park on a small lake. The seasonal campers had their sites set up beautifully. It was a pleasure walking around and checking them out. There were Trump signs all over the place. I thought Pennsylvania was a blue state? I’m looking forward to them doing a recount of the November election votes.

The Tractor Festival was fun. We tried the hatchet toss, which we weren’t very good at, had a smoothie made with a local distillery’s vodka, and grabbed lunch to take to the motorhome. We’d enjoyed the miniature golf course so much on our first night there that we played again after we ate dinner. The stay at this park was a huge blessing. We have experienced many God-incidences on this trip. He always makes a way for us.

We were staying at the Washington DC/Capitol KOA to meet up with Mac, the soon-to-be ours Ford Explorer owner. It was only 118 miles away, so it should have been an easy trip. Like Ohio, Pennsylvania has many small windy county roads. Once again, we’d done plenty of research on the most desirable route. We were taking it slowly through lots of twists and turns, and I noticed that there was a sign that pointed to the left with the country road number that we were on. Since Samantha didn’t say to turn, Tommy went straight. Within a very short distance, we found out that it was yet another dirt road. Thankfully, Tommy found a place to turn around, but it was no easy feat. If we had our tow car behind us, we would have been in real trouble. We managed to make it to our destination before noon and were set up by the time Mac showed up with the Explorer. As I said, we were delighted by the condition it was in. Mac was accommodating in showing Tommy how to hook up the towing equipment. Not only was the car pristine, but he included the correct attachment for our bicycle rack. He was pleasant to work with. After spending quite a while with Tommy on Sunday, he returned Monday to take Tommy to the DMV to handle the paperwork. My honey said that they walked right in and had everything handled in minutes. That wouldn’t happen in California.

We stayed at the KOA for three nights and enjoyed our stay. The pool was closed for the season, which was a drag. When it’s 85 degrees outside, a dip in a pool would be enjoyable. The folks that worked there were pleasant and helpful, and they had a great laundry room. I washed our bedding and took a fabulous walk around the beautiful neighborhood. The houses in Pennsylvania are huge! On my return trip to the RV, I noticed a pool table behind the covered swimming pool. I’d purchased a set of balls and cue sticks last year.  We found ourselves in many campgrounds with pool tables but couldn’t play because of COVID restrictions. I’d begun to wonder if we were ever going to use them. Tommy kicked my butt, and we called it an evening.

We are currently at Fort Eustis in Newport News, Virginia, visiting grandkids and great-grandbabies. It’s been quite interesting so far, but I’ll share those stories in my next post. Happy trails, and keep praying and believing. God’s not done with these beautiful United states yet. I believe that great things are ahead for our county. It’s always darkest before the dawn.

God bless, Cat

We Must Never Forget!

We Must Never Forget!

Who doesn’t remember where you were and what you were doing on that fateful day of September 11, 2001? No American should ever forget that horrific event. As a nation, it shook us to our core, but it united us in a way that it seems only wicked occurrences do. I don’t think that the people of our nation had bonded together like we did since the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in1941. At least for a little while, we were a praying and unified country. It was the good that came out of the ugly.

I had the opportunity to visit the September 11 Memorial in May of 2015. I’d gone to Albany, New York, to attend the Boozefighters National Convention. When I owned Johnny’s Bar & Grill in Hollister, I became very close to the motorcycle club that was at my historic bar in 1947 during the so-called motorcycle riots. They were the most generous bunch of people, and they treated me like royalty at their gatherings back then.

I figured if I was flying all the way across the country, I needed to make it a point to see the 9/11 Memorial. I’d asked around for someone to join me but found no takers. The employees at the Holiday Inn described the trip from the hotel in Albany to the Memorial as not a big deal. Let me say that the assessment couldn’t have been further from the truth.

The hotel shuttle service dropped me off at a bus stop with instructions about which bus I should board that would take me to another bus, which would take me to the train, that would take me to the subway, and then to the Memorial. I’d long conquered my phobia of going places alone, but this was an adventure of astronomical proportions. I somehow managed to find the right buses and made it to the train station. Once there, I relaxed a bit. The ticket salesperson told me to get off the train at Grand Central Station and gave me instructions about purchasing my ticket for the subway. She said I’d know where to get off once on it because the conductor would announce the 9/11 Memorial stop. Easy, peasy, right? Not hardly, but it’s much too long of a story to get into. Suffice it to say that by the grace of God, I made it to the Memorial.

If you have never seen the 9/11 Memorial and Museum up close and personal, there is no describing it. At least not in a way that conveys the purely emotional experience. In the bowels of what was left of the Twin Towers, seven stories below the Memorial, is the main exhibit. You see first-hand the devastation, the twisted metal, Ladder Company 3’s demolished fire truck, and what once were stairways that terrified people scrambled down to escape the horror. The museum is full of artifacts and stories from survivors, first responders, residents, and eyewitnesses. Interactive displays and a memorial exhibition honor all those that lost their lives. It is the most powerfully moving exhibit I have or ever will see.

You come out of the cavernous museum to the Memorial’s twin reflecting pools, which are each nearly an acre in size and feature the largest man-made waterfalls in North America. The almost 3,000 names of the men, women and children killed in the attacks of September 11, 2001, and February 26, 1993, at the World Trade Center are inscribed on bronze parapets surrounding the twin memorial pools. I couldn’t help rubbing my hands over the names. I may not have known any of those people, but their loss and the holes they left in family members’ hearts were palpable.

I’m so glad that I got to experience the Memorial, but I won’t be making that trek again. I have no desire to return to New York, but please don’t miss seeing the Memorial if you find yourself there. It is historical, somber, emotional, and inspiring.

I want to finish up on a lighter note. There is a bit too much gloom going around right now. To say that my return trip, which included a subway ride in New York at 5:30 in the evening, was harrowing would be an understatement. I still haven’t conquered my claustrophobia. Let’s just say that if you suffer from the same affliction, the last place you want to be is on a New York subway at rush hour. I’m pretty sure that there is no limit to the passengers allowed in each car, as long as they can close the doors. I wound up wrapping myself around a pole right next to one of the doors and holding on for dear life.

The fear I was feeling was evidently easy to perceive. I met the nicest people who showed genuine concern and did their best to ease my hysteria. One lovely lady talked calmly to me and asked me questions about myself to distract me for most of the ride. When she got off, she told me that I only had four more stops before mine and continued to talk to me like a mother would to a frightened child. The gentleman standing next to me told her that he was getting off at my stop and would be sure to assist me. I’ve heard tales about New Yorkers being mean and self-absorbed, but the folks I met were terrific.

Not only did the man get me off of the subway at the right stop, but he made sure that I got on the correct train to head back to Albany. From there, I was supposed to take two buses once again and then hail a shuttle back to my hotel. That was not happening! The visit to the Memorial was emotionally draining, and the subway and train expeditions polished me off. I called a cab and was driven right to the door of my hotel at a very hefty price.

I have checked a visit to New York and the 9/11 Memorial off of my bucket list. Can I suggest that if you do the same, don’t do it alone? Take a friend or a family member. Heck, take an ex-wife or ex-husband. Just take somebody with you.

Let’s all say a prayer for the nearly 3000 names etched on the Memorial and for all of the families that lost loved ones that day. Many first responders have suffered illnesses and even died well after the incident because of its health issues. Let’s pray for all of them too. While talking to The Man Upstairs, let’s also pray for our hard-working firefighters and men and women in blue who risk their lives for us every day. God bless them all.