Sunday, May 29, 2011

Simple Pleasures

Although Denny spent several years living in the Cleveland area, this area of northeast Ohio is all new to me so when the rains finally quit for a few hours I suggested a trip up to Geneva on the Lake. (The picture below is not a creek in the campground but simply a low spot between our row of camp sites and the row of camp sites behind us) Geneva on the Lake has been popular as a vacation spot in Ohio since the mid to late 1800s thanks to the foresight of the Spencer family who settled here and built a tavern for travelers and businessmen. Sitting on the banks of Lake Erie, the area soon became "the" vacation spot for families who wanted to get away from the larger cities. Even Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller and Harvey Firestone would come here to camp, fish, swim and relax together. A small amusement park sprang up, along with campgrounds, followed by small cabins, motels and motor courts, restaurants and dance halls.
Like many small resort towns, Geneva on the Lake lost clientele when the larger amusement parks were built but the town hung in there and once again families have returned to wander the streets, play some golf, splash in the water park/amusement park, picnic at the parks and explore the many shops and wineries. I told Denny if a person couldn't find something they liked to eat here, especially if you're into fair food, then you're just too darn picky. There's a little something for everyone but the place to eat seemed to be Eddy's Grill which had a continuous line of waiting customers snaking outside their door and out onto the sidewalk.Denny and I chose instead to have a picnic at the somewhat soggy park looking out over Lake Erie. I might have wished for a sunnier day for taking pictures, but there was a nice breeze blowing off the lake and it was a very pleasant way to have lunch. We stopped for ice cream on the way back, where we saw this motorcycle that we've seen advertised on TV:One of the reasons I had decided to visit Geneva on the Lake was the fact that the town was sponsoring a flea market and the Old Firehouse Winery (which had no wines on display that I could see) was sponsoring an arts and crafts show on its grounds. The flea market was just getting started and was a bit on the small side due to the imminent threat of rain, I imagine. Denny and I were a tad too early for all the craft booths to be open but we did see a lot of unusual hand made items, a huge painting of birch trees and chickadees I would have bought in a minute if I owned a residence that had wall space and even some booths with Amish baked goods. I walked away with this: An unbreakable cocktail shaker with silver wire and blue glass bead decorations. Because I bet John D. Rockefeller had a snazzy cocktail shaker when HE camped up here!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Detours

I think this will be our year for playing catch up. As in catching up with friends and family and those we have yet to actually meet, other than being online friends. So far Denny and I have made a good start on that resolve, since we spent a month with part of our Myrtle Beach gang in February, only we did it in Harlingen, Texas. We made a point of seeing older friends and relatives when we were in Ohio because our own personal aches and pains have become a reminder that time is passing, no matter that we are still youthful in our own minds. More and more often on Facebook we read posts notifying us of the passing of someone we know, or the diagnosis of a serious illness. That social network that brings us together also quickly tells us of our frailty.

This past week we were in central Ohio visiting our youngest son and his wife with the intent of heading northeast to the Buffalo area to see our oldest son and his family. But an email from a RVing couple we had met years ago through my parents made us add a quick detour towards Pittsburgh so that we could spend an afternoon with them. Sue has had some heart issues and her husband Joe is currently undergoing dialysis three times a week, but I don't think I've ever meet a couple who is so full of life and knows so well the joy of living life to its fullest. In their early 80s, they finally gave up their motorhome travels three years ago, not because of any driving issues but because Joe was no longer able to do all the maintenance and repair work on the motorhome himself. It simply was not his way to allow someone he didn't know to work on his motorhome, so they sold it. And in a funny follow-up, they sold it to an eighty-five year old man with a new sixty-five year old wife. It seems the two were dedicated tent campers but the newlyweds decided that perhaps it was time to camp a little more comfortably! Yay for them!

Long story short, we had a fabulous afternoon after having a really good lunch at a little local Italian restaurant, recalling memories of the times we spent together and sharing memories of individual RV travels. The time passed quickly and Denny and I said our good-byes when we realized Joe was getting tired. The two of us drove home in a glow left by the warm friendship.

As a result, I foresee us making more detours this year as we attempt to finally cross off those final five states from the list of fifty. There are a couple of people we have yet to meet as we work our way from those eastern seaboard states to our rendezvous with the surf and sand of Myrtle Beach, so we'll make the little zigs or zags necessary to stop for a hug or two along with a margarita or three.

It's going to be a good year.

Friday, May 20, 2011

No Joy in Mudville

The golf courses are still under water although the weather forecasters promise sunshine today. And tomorrow. And then it will rain for four days. Sigh.

We've been visiting with the youngest son, futzing around the rig, making plans. This week I met with a representative at my pension board and got the paperwork filled out to start receiving my pension in January. Yep, another hill to be over. But getting paid to be over the hill is not so bad.

I've been working on campground reservations and have discovered how spoiled we are by having "free" membership camping. I have made reservations for two separate weeks in Vermont and am cringing at the prices I had to pay--although I understand why the owners have to charge so much. The camping season in the northern states is understandably short but it's going to be a major hit to our budget to travel along the eastern seaboard this summer. And no, we don't/won't "camp" at W*lmart. And now we hear on the news that this summer will be a bad one for potential hurricanes along the east coast.

Of course it will.

Can you tell I've been a tad affected by S.A.D?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

What We See

In between rain showers and thunderstorms Patches and I will explore what we can of the woods that surround our campground. It means I have to scrape a couple of pounds of mud from my shoes each trip, but spring in Ohio is a beautiful time and this year I've discovered new wild flowers in the woods. This is our fourth time here at this particular campground and although Denny and I have arrived here this early in the spring before I've never seen some of the flowers I'm seeing this year.

Spring larkspur:
This year I discovered an abberation--a white larkspur. I've only found one plant athough there are thousands of the purple ones here.
A Jack-In-The-Pulpit:
Another plant I had to look up--a May Apple. Its single white blossom is hidden under a huge umbrella like leaf. I tilted the plant to get this shot.This year for the first time ever there were purple trillium blooming in the woods along with the white ones, but when I discovered them I didn't have my camera with me and then it rained for several days and by the time I got back out to photograph them, all the trillium had died. *sigh*

I have no idea what kind of tree this is since I can't find my tree identification book and nothing I found about Ohio's deciduous trees online matched the blossoms here. But isn't it lovely in the sunlight?
Spiderwebs and dew. Love it.
Because Patches wanders so slowly, stopping to sniff and investigate every moving blade of grass out there, I chanced to see this through a thicket--a deer carcass.The woods are very lush due to all the rainfall and also filled with poison ivy so I don't get close to the ground to get better shots as I would normally try to do. I just don't look good in rash red.Of course with all the rain we've had here, as soon as the sun came out the temperatures rose to 90 degrees and the humidity was a zillion percent. So stopping and resting on the cool planks of a wooden bridge seemed to be a good idea to Patches. And on a side note, a blogger I follow lost her furkid Francis yesterday. So this is for her. Someday the bridge will be a rainbow bridge.
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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Majestic Springs Golf Club

Yesterday shortly after lunch Denny suggested we go play golf at the Majestic Springs Golf Course which is just a few miles away from our current campground. I suggested we wait until morning, but after checking the weather forecast for the next few days and seeing that rain and/or thunderstorms were predicted for the remainder of the week we decided to play while we had still had sunshine.

The Majestic Springs Golf Club is located at 1631 Todds Fork Road in Wilmington, Ohio. Probably only a mile or so from the Thousand Trails campground as the crow flies, it's a couple of miles further by country road but it's the closest golf course in the area. Carved out of farmland and built as a links style course, the golf course itself has a surprising number of elevation changes, hills, valleys and slopes to deal with. It's walkable, but on a hot, humid Ohio day I'd definitely take a riding cart. Because Ohio summers are killer humid.
Denny and I paid the surprising amount of $15 per person to play eighteen holes of golf using a riding cart, which is their after 1PM price. Since the golf course just opened after the last few weeks of torrential rains there were quite a few folks out there who had also jumped at the change to play some golf so we ended up joining up with a husband and wife duo who play the course frequently. That was a good thing, because we had only played the course one time previously and that was five years ago. Denny didn't remember playing here at all, but I remembered because the sprinklers had been turned on while we were playing and I got soaked on hole number five. The things you remember, right? But I didn't recall the ins and outs of the golf course and that's why it was nice playing with someone who could point out the hidden dangers on any particular hole. And there are some tricky holes here.

There are four sets of tees to play from; championship, men's, seniors' and women's. The yardage from the championship tees is 6464 with a rating/slope of 70.9/129. From the women's tees the yardage is 4487 with a rating/slope of 65.9/106. Par is 71; there are four par 5 holes, nine par 4 holes and five par 3 holes on the course.Because it has been raining in the Midwest for the last six weeks, the fairways weren't cut as carefully as they normally would be, the rough was higher than normal and there were soggy, boggy areas still. At the fifteenth hole which is a par 5 hole we had to stay on the cart path which ran along a ridge line and slip, slide down the muddy hillside on foot to the fairway to play. Normally this would be a fun hole but it was a bit too squishy for my liking on this day. There are nine ponds on the course and a creek wanders back and forth across the grounds, especially on hole number two where the creek crosses the fairway not once but three times. The creek was really high and the current was quite strong as local creeks and rivers are all still flooded here in Ohio so there was no looking for balls when Denny and Dan hooked their balls into the creek. On this hole depending on where you were, you could hit the creek whether you hit a slice or a hook. Fun hole.

Currently the sand traps aren't in play due to the fact that they are filled with water, but the course has 58 of them scattered around so they could be a problem on nice days. The guys clipped a few trees also here and there so there are plenty of challenges on this course. And the noisiest thing we heard was a peacock screeching at the farm next to the golf course; no road noise, no trains, no planes. Nice.
This is definitely a golf course we'd play again.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Pros and Cons

I've noticed a lot more full timing singles lately out on the road. Last month I received a comment from a recently widowed lady who had just purchased a new truck and fifth wheel with her husband with the intent to hit the road as full timers. Unfortunately he became ill and passed away quickly shortly after their purchase. This gal (calling herself "another Linda") mentioned that she had been thinking of selling the 5er and truck for a small motorhome before reading my web page about the pros and cons of each.

Truth be told, while I love the space of our Beast, I think if something happened to Denny I would seriously consider trading in our rig and truck for a Class C motorhome. My thinking on this would be that it would be more fuel efficient (since I would have less income), I could fit it into camp sites that are currently unavailable to me due to the size of the Beast, I could pull it into the driveways of friends and family for visits, I could tow a small fuel efficient car (or even a scooter!), engine oil changes/maintenance would not be as high as a regular size motorhome, the tires would be the same size as a car or truck and therefore not as expensive as a regular motorhome, for personal safety I could immediately pull away from a camping spot without leaving the safety of the Class C if need be, I could stop at area attractions while driving from campground to campground and not worry about being too big for the parking lot and I could boondock for a night or two in places where the Beast could never go. And those are just for starters.

Granted, two motorized vehicles (the Class C and towing a small car) means a difference in insurance costs, but currently we pay a bit more due to our truck which is considered a medium duty vehicle so I think that would almost balance out. I think I would feel more secure in a setting that was a little more cocoon like if I had to travel on my own. I certainly don't need the tall ceilings that Denny needs and I think that having to once again use laundromats would have the benefit of meeting people who could tell me about the good places to see and great restaurants to try in any one area. It would mean downsizing the "stuff" I own even more but I think that would be do-able also.

So, Another Linda, there are always options. If you keep that lovely new fifth wheel I'm sure you'll enjoy it. And while you're out there, check our itinerary at the bottom right side of the blog to see where we'll be--perhaps we'll run into each other out there somewhere.

I hope so!
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Saturday, May 07, 2011

Again With The Rain??!!??

funny-pictures-cat-asks-you-to-open-door
see more Lolcats and funny pictures, and check out our Socially Awkward Penguin lolz!

This could be Patches this past month. So many times she has gone to the door, wanting to go out for her walk. I open the door to show her that it is once again raining. So she stands in the doorway, waiting for it to stop or perhaps waiting for the portal to the next dimension to open so that she might have a sunny day for walking in that world. I would never presume to understand the thought processes of a cat.

Except for the part where we would both like to be dry and warm. That I can understand.
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Holly Hills Golf Course

What happens when your husband trusts the Weather Channel instead of the visual evidence of black clouds? You play golf in the rain. Badly. Goodness knows, we needed more rain in Ohio right now. And yes, that was me being sarcastic.

As we were returning home from a trip to the grocery store we drove past the local Elks Club golf course and noticed that there were golfers on the course. Since Ohio has had rain for the the last three weeks all of the local courses have been closed or not available for play. We stopped in at the course to check the cost (very reasonable with a BOGO free special over Mother's Day weekend) and the pro shop employee told Denny that Holly Hills might be open also.

Well, that's all it took. Holly Hills Golf Course at 4966 N.State Route 42 in Waynesville, Ohio is the first place Denny took me to play golf. We went as a foursome, me and three men. I had never played golf in my life, had never even swung a club so Denny rented a set of clubs from the pro shop. Understand, I am left-handed. What was available to rent were sets of men's right-handed golf clubs, so that's what Denny got for me. He took me to the first tee, handed me the driver and said "swing away!" And that was my introduction to golf. To this day I play right-handed, but last year we finally broke down and bought me some ladies golf clubs.

Since that time, Holly Hills has been on of our favorite golf courses. From the men's blue tees the course is 6785 yards with a slope/rating of 126/71.6. The yardage from the women's tees is 5402 yards with a slope rating of 117/70.3 There are also white and yellow (senior) tees. The golf course is mature, having been built in 1962 and over the years the only real changes have been the height of the trees. When we first started playing here we walked the course which is a terrific workout since the course is aptly named; there are quite a few hills and slopes to climb. Now, we take a golf cart.

There are sand traps here on the course but they are avoidable. A couple of tiny creeks (little more than washes) cross a couple of the holes and there is a small pond to the side of the fifth hole which doesn't shouldn't come into play. With the design of the course, sometimes you are hitting uphill to the green and sometimes you are hitting down to the green and all of the greens are pretty fast, even when sodden with rain.Currently, the course is badly waterlogged but overall for just coming off the winter months it was in surprisingly good shape. Right now the act of the groundskeepers cutting the grass is tearing up the fairways a bit but I'm sure once this area dries out they will be hard at work getting it back into shape.
The sun did finally come out yesterday, but only after we were thoroughly drenched. I would like to think our scores would have been much better had the course not been so boggy and we weren't rather stiff and tense from the cold and wet. The double dog leg at the second hole continues to challenge me with its par 5 length, but this time around I actually conquered my nemesis--hole number thirteen.
Hole number thirteen is a par 3 hole where you have to hit your ball through a small opening in the trees and over a small creek to the green. The tee boxes are on a hill and the green is on a hill with lots of room to lose your ball in between. For the first time in all of our years playing here, I almost parred this hole, which almost made me forget how cold and wet I was.

Prices to play golf at Holly Hills are reasonable. Before noon a senior (age 50+) will pay $25 to play eighteen holes using a riding cart. After twelve, the price drops to $21 for seniors. Not a bad deal for a course that will challenge your playing skills.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

You Have Mail!

As full time RVers who move on to a new location every week or so, people ask us how we get our mail. It's often the first question we are asked about our lifestyle. Denny and I belong to an organization called Escapees that is based in Texas and they have created a mail forwarding system for those of us who travel. We have all of our mail sent to them and once a week/bi-weekly/monthly/whatever we tell them by email where we're going to be and they will package up our mail and send it to that location or campground. Naturally over the course of the years we have winnowed the amount of mail we receive, cancelling all magazine subscriptions and catalogs and having automatic bill payments made so that we aren't paying extra to have unnecessary items mailed to us. But like everyone else, we still love that anticipation of opening up a big envelope or box to see what surprises await us.

This week I received a note from my cousin (handwritten notes--yay!) and she included a couple of snapshots she had found in one of her mother's photo albums. For years my cousin's mother and step-father spent several weeks camping at Myrtle Beach with my parents. The first couple of years my parents went along with them they stayed in my aunt's travel trailer but eventually they purchased their own pre-owned pop top trailer which they only used to camp at Myrtle Beach.

I had to smile when I saw these photos because my father was a perfectionist and a "children should be seen and not heard" type of person. We, his children, rarely saw a playful side so these two snapshots were a gift. Mom and Dad are both gone now; Dad died in 1996 from ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) and Mom passed away two years ago from complications of surgery.

Thank you, Datha, for both the lovely note and sharing your photos with me. Thanks to your mom and thus later my parents Denny and I discovered Myrtle Beach where we too have passed many peaceful and joyous weeks.

Isn't mail fun?


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