Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Springtime at Cha-Wi-Ma Campground

Natchaug River, Chaplin, CT

When we arrived at Cha-Wi-Ma Campground, our home base for the summer, nothing was green. It took some getting used to since we normally return the first week of May. But we needed to get the RV Toy Shoppe opened for the 15th, which we accomplished. The weather has been unseasonably warm (until the past few days) so spring seemed to pop out all at once. I love these double daffodils!

Marsh marigolds grow at the bottom of the hill behind our motorhome near the swampy area that drains into the Natchaug River.

Bluets grow in clumps near the riverbank.

One of our neighbors has bleeding heart about to bloom.

Duncan sure is happy to be back to walks in our woods. We do miss Miss Roxie, though. She loved the woods too.

The woods are still pretty barren but there's a few fiddle-head ferns if you look closely.

In summer, the woods will be loaded with green ferns. I'm looking forward to that!

Friday, April 25, 2008

My Dad gets new wheels

This post is a bit off topic, having nothing to do with RV travel. It's about my Dad and his new-to-him Honda Civic. A little over a month ago, Dad was rear-ended at a traffic light by a guy going 40mph. Thanks to Divine Providence and Honda engineering, Dad was not the least bit hurt. But this was the result:

Ouch! The insurance company declared the 2001 car a total loss. So when I got back to CT, Job #1 was to get Dad another, newer, silver Honda Civic. We found this 2005 model which was the last year before they redesigned the body style. We picked it up this week and here's a couple of views of my very happy Dad.

We found it at Boch Honda in Norwood, MA, just outside Boston. They claim to be the largest dealer on the planet and their no-haggle price on was the best around.

Congratulations Dad!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

James Madison's Montpelier

On our way back to Connecticut, we spent two nights in Virginia and took a day to visit Montpelier, the home of our former President, James Madison, called the Father of the Constitution. His stately brick home in Orange, VA is undergoing a complete renovation. The guided tour inside is limited in scope due to the ongoing work but it is fascinating. You can see the lath inside the plaster walls being carefully cleaned and restored with horsehair from the animals that live on the farm here. Unfortunately, photos of the inside of the house, even unrestored sections, are not allowed. But here are the working barns behind the main house.

James Madison died in 1836. His widow, Dolley, sold Montpelier in 1844 due to financial difficulties. The home changed hands several times until it ended up with the Dupont family of Delaware, associated with the chemical company. The wealthy family constructed numerous wings onto the sides and back of the house, stuccoed over the brick, but never substantially altered the front and main sections of the house. They were aware that they owned a historic property and were careful to save or reuse as many original components as possible, such as doors and fireplace mantles. In 1984, Marion duPont Scott, the last family member to own Montpelier, passed away. By her bequest, the house transferred to the National Trust. After years of feasibility studies and historical reserach, the restoration to return the house to its style in 1820 finally began in 2003. The exterior was completed in 2006 and the interior is expected to be done in September of 2008. Furnishing the interior will be the next step. The woman on the left was our guide as we stand ready to enter through the front doors.

The logo symbol used by the Montpelier Foundation is "The Temple." This place was built by Madison as a place of quiet reflection for "Liberty and Learning." The ornamental structure also served a practical purpose. Underneath, Madison had an ice house constructed. That way, Dolley could serve ice cream, her favorite dessert, to guests.

When Madison lived here, these brick walls housed the vegetable and herb gardens.

Today, they contain formal flower gardens. During our visit, there wasn't much in bloom due to the time of year. A note to geocachers: there is one virtual geocache at Montpelier. The clue is to find the inscription, "Feare God and Obey the King." It's found here in the garden but I won't spoil it for others. But I did note the irony in the inscription in the garden of the man who drew up the United States Bill of Rights.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Pedro's Campground at South of the Border

On the day we left Savannah GA, heavy rain, wind and thunderstorms were forecast for the afternoon. We didn't quite make it to Fayetteville, NC as intended but decided to get off the road early because of the weather and check out the campground at South of the Border. It's actually in South Carolina, just south of the North Carolina border.

Anyone who has ever traveled I-95 in the Carolina's knows exactly what I'm talking about. Like Wall Drug in South Dakota, cutesy billboards advertise the place for 200 miles before you get there. The campground was $24.00/night for full hook-ups, had a lot of pull-through sites, but no WiFi. Because of the storms, we didn't get to explore the kitschy shops and restaurants. Maybe on another trip we'll ride that glass elevator tower with the sombrero on top!

Next stop: Charlottesville, VA.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Fort McAllister State Park; Richmond Hill (Savannah) Georgia

After saying our good byes to the Pronovost family of Orange City, FL, we moved on to Fort McAllister State Park, located about 20 miles south of Savannah, Georgia. We spent two nights here and it was so refreshing to be actually camping, as opposed to living, in an RV. We've been parked in rows of spaces all winter. State parks give us room to breathe, woods and trees, and at Ft. McAllister, nature trails and fishing.

The fish weren't biting yesterday but some folks had caught quite a few crabs. Seagulls and cormorants also made use of the fishing dock.

We checked for geocaches and found just one - a virtual cache. To get credit for it, we had to hike the Redbird Trail and count the number of steps up to the observation deck. It was a three-mile walk but the opportunity to score credit for a cache gave us the incentive. Some of the trail crosses wetlands. The tide was out for our walk. Little sand crabs scurried about as we watched from the bridge.

Views of the salt marsh were enhanced by standing atop the observation deck. But I won't spoil it for other geocachers by revealing how many steps up!

The Civil War-era earthenworks fort for which the park is named is worth touring as well. We visited on a previous trip so no photos this time.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Legends Field Rededicated as Steinbrenner Field

On March 27, 2008, Legends Field in Tampa was rededicated to honor George Steinbrenner, owner of the NY Yankees baseball team since 1973. The occasion was the last spring training game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, which I attended with my #1 Yankees fan.

Mr. Steinbrenner arrived with his family on his golf cart. He is the man with the silver hair, blue blazer, and sunglasses, being photographed.

The Hillsborough County Commissioner spoke of Steinbrenner's contributions to the sport of baseball and his philanthropy to the community, particularly here in Tampa.

After the speeches, the Steinbrenner family made their way on two golf carts around the stadium to the scoreboard, cheered by the fans. Here they stand ready to pull the cords holding the cover over the sign that used to say "Legends Field."

The new sign, "George M. Steinbrenner Field" in unveiled. The smoke on the left behind the sign came from the fireworks.

Three Sheriff's Dept. helicopters did a flyover immediately after the unveiling. (Anyone know what kind they are? Dad? I'll bet you know even from this angle!)

OK, it was finally time for a baseball game. George's wife, Joan Steinbrenner, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Our favorite player, Derek Jeter, hits a home run! Unfortunately, it wasn't enough for a win.

Alex Rodriguez aka A-Rod, another fan favorite, is at bat.

I am amused every time the groundskeepers come out in the middle of each game to smooth the dirt. They work to the sound of the Village People's song, "YMCA". And it cracks me up when they stop dead for every chorus to sign the letters "Y-M-C-A" with the crowd.

Ed & I thoroughly enjoyed our Yankees season tickets for the spring training games. The ticket prices were reasonable and we got to see so many famous players up close and check out the talent for the future as well.