Friday, December 29, 2017

Winter time again,.... Time to Cover it Up

Time to put the cover on again.  At first, this was a two person job, but I have found a way to get it done by myself using two ladders, a GoPro, and a Drone.

  1. First, I find it best to have the camper cover laid out open on the driveway or yard with the roof side up just as if it was in place on the camper.
  2. Then, fold one of the sides up and over the top section.  I typically chose the side opposite the camper door.
  3. Fold over the other side back ontop of the other.  This way you have only a plan view of the cover with the sides flopped over the top.
  4. Fold one edge of the roof now about 1/3rd across the roof.  
  5. Go around the other side, and fold that roof edge back over the center again. 
  6. Now, roll from the rear to the front.
  7. Get both ladders positioned at the front of the camper and lift up the roll up ontop of the camper and set in the middle.
  8. Unroll down the center of the camper for the full length, carefully going over the AC and antenna.
  9. Unfold the sections so that the roof is covered, but don't go down the sides yet, time to check the alignment and position on the roof.
  10. Once aligned, roll down the sides and get ready to button it up.
So, that list is hard to describe if you haven't had the struggle with one of these huge covers,.... definitely don't try it on a day with any wind!  Here is a short video from this year to help put action to the description above.

2017 - Trip #7 - Mountain Springs Campground

Sometimes you have to break the routine and try some new campgrounds to make new friends and see new things.  This time, we chose Mountain Springs Campground near Hamburg, PA based on the recommendation of our friends we met and camped with at Lake In Wood.  An hours drive away, just about right to make the trip as soon as the kids get out of school and be all setup and comfortable before dark sets in.
Our full-hookup campsite down on the bottom of of the campground
After all the driving and setup, have to get going with a quick meal before we can go off to fun activities.  Sometimes, I get creative to help motivate the kids to eat before we go play.  Mountain Springs had a very nice arcade, bingo hall, pool, playground, and large pond for fishing, and a well stocked camp store.  Everyone seemed very nice everywhere that we went.

Saturday was a fun filled day full of campground run activities.  Some of them overlapped too so we couldn't get to them all.  Since it was one of their halloween weekends they had costume contests for everything, even a costume dance party at the end of the day!  First up, was the pet costume judging and parade.  Allison always has her "Ike" with her, which is a stuffed black and white dog that she even walks on a leash.  The camp staff was great, and let her participate in the event as well.  So many of the people were encouraging too and some of the dogs were even fooled.  While she didn't win, they did have a prize for everyone to have so she ended up getting "Ike" a dog food dish.

Allison (2nd to right from center line in sidewalk)
Shortly after the puppy parade, the campground began the afternoon trick or treating for the kids and adults.  Lots of fun, and this year we broke out the good favorites, Pac-Man Family!  Since this trip was a short planned trip, we pulled these out of the garage and dusted them off, and they were still a big hit!  There were lots of good costumes though that we saw around the campground which gave us some good competition when it came time to judge.  We managed to get SECOND place in the family / group category!

Besides the above fun activities, we had time doing things around the campground.  Below are some of the fun photos from our highlights!  Lots of smiles, laughs, and good times!
Lilly caught a nice trout

Ally caught a nice bass

Bella loved playing BINGO

And when Madie wasn't dancing, she was being a gymnast

And that ends our 2017 Camping season already.  We had some really good trips this year and some not so good ones,.... but 2018 will redeem us with some new explorations and back out camping with friends.  

Thanks for reading along!

2017 - Trip #6 - Knoebels Craft Fair

The Annual Craft Fair is upon us again.... Lets hope the ladies saved enough money up!

The trip up to the campground was smooth and very light on traffic as we made our trip up early Thursday morning so we could spend some time over at the craft fair before the crowds built up as the days progressed. 

A sample of the fall colors
Not crowded yet...... 
Each year we find that there are some really good new vendors mixed in with the regulars.  One reason or another, someone backs out or doesn't renew in time and their spot is taken by someone on the waiting list.  This year was no exception and we found a really awesome vendor who made plaster castings of your families hands which made a great memory.  The photo really doesn't describe the detail that this captured,.... all the skin lines and fingerprints are there.

Our Prize craft - Our family hands
Someone is growing up way to fast!
We also made sure to have down time over the weekend to stay at the campground and do some fun things with the kids.  Since most of the people there are vendors or are attending the fair, the campground is nice and empty during the day.  I flew my drone from the far side of the lake away from everyone and took this photo of the fall colors and campers.  We are in the patch of trees in the center of the photo just beyond the brown dirt of the lake.
My drone view of the campground
Here is our campsite from the ground, all set up and comfortable.  We like this site as it is set into the trees and lets us have plenty of space and away from the main traffic flow through the campground.
Our camper setup under the protection of the trees
Some of the other activities we did at the campground were crafting, reading, and fishing.  As you can see, it was a fairly warm October and the kids were able to be comfortable in tee shirts and shorts most of the time during the day.  Ally and Bella caught a few fish thoughout the hour or so they were fishing, and even caught one at the same time!
Both the girls caught a fish!

Becky doing a FB LIVE Oil and Makeup Class

The covered bridge at the end of the campground nestled against the trees
I explored the skies a little more and took a photo of this covered bridge at the end of our campground, and drove around a bit looking at some others but they were pretty tight into the trees to photograph.  Neat to use the drone for some unique angles and photos on every day locations.

So, we packed up the truck with all our craft fair findings and knick-knacks and headed for home on Sunday afternoon.  We would be leaving again on Friday for our final trip of the season.

Monday, December 25, 2017

2017 - Trip #5 - Lake In Wood - Part 2 - Return Visit


Ok,... kids are back from Youth Group Camp where they had a great time with their friends and learned a lot about themselves and God.  Even though we go camping with them all the time, they need their own time away and the church youth group is a great support network that they can rely on through middle and high school.  But, with that trip complete,.... school is just around the corner.  We managed to call Lake In Wood to get a site during the middle of the week which was right on the main field of the campground,... a Gold Site, and for good reason.  This site has the views, the level concrete camping pad, space around the camper, full hookups for easy glamping,.. oh, I meant camping.

Lots of room on our site to relax, have a fire, or play in the field.

Down at the lake,.... drowning some worms.

A HOT fire for the night, since we wore pants and jackets in August!

By day, we were comfortable in the sun and lounging out in the pool, but by evening or early morning, we needed to break out the hot water pot and the hot coco!  It was surprisingly cool for middle of August, but made it nice for camping.  I don't think we even turned on the AC this weekend.

Lake in Wood is always a fun place to go away to and it has a great atmosphere for the kids.  We have been making this our favorite camping destination lately and have decided to book again for 2018 a nice multi-day trip.  Stay tuned for that, as it is going to be a friend filled weekend as well!

2017 - Trip #4 - Knoebels Summer Excape

Another Quick Turn around.... back from Assateague and getting ready to go again.

So,... where to begin to get back in our camping groove after that last vacation...... Knoebels!  Well, Becky is still on the mend and we are choosing our camping menu a little differently but it is all for the better anyway.  This way the kids can have a good time in a familiar place with friends.

We loaded up and got on the road early to allow time to stop if needed.  But, for the second year in a row, I was able to make the run direct without gas stop, leg stretch, Daaaad,.. I gotta go,... type stuff.  Makes it feel so much quicker now that we are able to do that.  The girls rested and Becky took a nap and i just watched the miles tick by to get there.  Wasn't long after arrival that we were able to get into place and setup to enjoy some R&R.

Off to the park and around the campground, we packed in the fun along with some downtime, so check out a few highlight photos below.
Catching the rings on the Carousel

Bob taking care of the eggs and sausage

Girls making pancakes on the skillet

First Driving lesson with the Antique Cars

Always a great ride!

Bella, Madie, Courtney (Bella's Friend) and Knoebels gang!

Rob and Bob,.... two crazy pilots who thought a lot alike.

It was nice to be out and have fun and a smooth camping trip.  Still some time to get another trip in before the kids go back to school, but we will be shipping them off to youth camp next !

2017 - Trip #3 - Assateague State Park, Maryland

Preparing and Packing
The trip to Assateague is always the one that fills the camper and the truck, along with all the nooks and crannies in between.  I'm amazed at how much stuff the girls pack.  Plus, on my end, I have to pack the extra gear that we don't take on normal trips like the generator, fuel can, washline, and things.  I test run the generator a few weeks before and check the oil to make sure all is well with that and top it off with gas and some ethanol treatment.  What is nice when down at the beach is a lot of places have non-ethanol gas at many places.

Becky Not Feeling well
The week or so leading up to the trip Becky didn't seem to be all together.  Indigestion off and on for a few days and just not quite right.  Non-the-less, she continued to pack things and plan for the trip.  The day of the trip she wasn't all that well, so we took our time getting the final things ready and into the camper.  Eventually, we made the start of our trip and she nodded off for a bit.

Along the way in Delaware, our AC decided to act up which made things pretty uncomfortable for her and the girls.  Seemed that the control blasted the heat on my side while she still had some AC, but before to long it was windows open to stay comfortable while my foot felt like it was going to melt, with only 30 minutes to lunch stop we decided to press onward.

We stopped for lunch at our usual place which is easy to access for pulling the camper and I researched the situation on the truck while Becky picked at her lunch.  She actually got up and went back outside to rest in the truck while the kids and I finished lunch.

Luckily for us, the electronic switch/baffle that controls the zone for driver and passenger resets with the computer/power reset after about 4 minutes from power on.  So, I checked things over, and we drove down the road before turning on the AC.  Everything worked for the remainder of the trip and we were all in comfort again,... well, except Becky was still not right.  She couldn't describe it to well just that it was crampy and uncomfortable up high in her stomach area.

Arrival and Setup
When we arrived, Becky got out and made her way to the table while Bella helped me line up and back in to the furthest corner of the parking pad.  Wheels aren't allowed off the pavement, so we go right to the edge of the chock to maximize space and get to park the truck in front after we open the bunk.  Becky just wanted to lay down and must have asked me 5 or six times if I minded if she did and if I could get a bunk down.  Bella and I made sure we were level, opened the front bunk and i started the generator to get power for the fan we have so she could be resting with some air over her.

Two hours later,.. yes, 2,... Becky awoke after the kids and I had everything setup and ready for the week.  Seemed to be better, so we decided to go and see the beach since the kids were very excited to see the waves again.  Off we went to the dune, only about 75 yards, and Becky said she had to turn around and go back to lay down.  The kids and I went onto the beach for a little and then back to think about dinner.

Kids and I had dinner while Becky rested again.  Later in the evening we had to make a decision, she wasn't feeling well and the pain seemed to be increasing, and moving to the right of her abdomen.  Calls to some family with prior Appendix issues, seemed similar but not quite on the same track.  So, we had to decide to either stay the night and see how it was in the morning or head out to the main land and go to an Urgent Care.  Well,... 9pm,... we loaded up and headed to Berlin MD to Atlantic General Hospital....... oh joy.
Becky's new accomodations

H is for Hospital, not for Hotel, but it did have Air Conditioning.  The kids were doing great as they did some lab work on Becky, including an Ultrasound which revealed that she had a gall-bladder blockage and a bunch of gall stones.  After some consultation with the doctors, it was decided to have surgery the next day,... July 4th.  Becky was nervous, scared, and so were the kids.  But at 12:30 am we departed leaving her there and headed back to camp so the kids could rest.
Those late arrival check-ins .... (1am)

July 4th
July 4th was supposed to be a day at the beach doing activities and having a good time before finding some place to find fireworks,..... and so it was!  (Except for Becky).  To keep the kinds mind from worrying to much about Becky we tried to keep the pace going and things in check with activities.  The kids decorated their bikes and participated in the ranger led bike parade down to the nature center and there was some other fun activities that they could do there too.  We couldn't stay for the whole event, but it was a gook start.

As we were prepping lunch, we got a call that Becky's time was moved up,... well that threw a wrench in the works.  I contacted our good friends Gary and Mary to see what we could do with their schedule and made the best of it.  We were so lucky to have them in the area and available to watch the kids for a bit while I was at the hospital with Becky.  I didn't make it for when she went in, but I hung out in her room for a while before the nurse came to get me and take me down to the operating waiting room.  about 5pm, the doctor came in and explained the situation, what he found, and that she did well and was in recovery.  Still would be a little till I saw her, so they sent me back up to her room to wait.

Becky came up and was still pretty out of it from the medicine but was doing well.  Tired, and wanting to doze off, she kept telling me to leave, but I hung out and kept her company for a while until she couldn't keep her eyes open any more.  I then left and went back to Gary and Mary with the kids for some quick food and to watch the fire works with them.  Such good friends, everyone should hope to have a friendship like that.  After the fireworks, we departed and went back to the camp as it had been such a long day for everyone.  It didn't take long for the kids to fall asleep, and I prepared for the next day.  This was a vacation for the record books.

Back at Camp and Recovery
Thursday we talked with Becky and her nurses, and it was all going well.  We had some things we could do at the campground first and the kids wanted to go for a walk on the beach for seashells and to see if there were any horses out there.  Sure enough, they were there and we could get some nice photos of them to show Becky.

We went to visit Becky at the hospital later that morning and they told us that it was likely she could be discharged and they showed us the restrictions as well as a list of good things to have.  Well,.... that list just about wiped out our camping supplies so some shopping was in order.  I told the nurses to hold onto her and we would be back later I had some preparing to do.  Worked out fine anyway, as they wanted to give her the last IV medicine which would take some time too.

So,... another $100 or more at Walmart for groceries, wedge pillow, and stuff and back to the campground to get the recovery room situated!  haha.  Why is it that you go to Walmart and almost always spend $100 or so.
Outta HERE!

Dolled her up to get her out and feeling more like herself again

We ended up going back to break Becky out of the hospital later and bring her back to camp.  That pretty much meant,... pick her up, drive slow, help her in the camper, get her into bed and she was out.

Time as a Family again
Friday was better.  Still taking it very slow at the camper and really not going anywhere, but we had the generator cranking and the fan on keeping her comfortable for a good part of the morning.  She thought about venturing out for some AC, so we loaded up and went for a short drive, followed by a stop at the Assateague Welcome Center where there was AC, as well as the things for the kids to do.
Finally a night together

To the Beach
Well, before we head home, we were going to make sure we had 1 good day as a family at the BEACH!  Yes, all of us, together, on the beach.

3 Junior Rangers!

Ghost Crabbing at night

Among the marshes

Girls and I went for a ride while Becky rested

Heading Home
Unfortunately, our typically relaxing family vacation had come to and end way to fast, and without much relaxation during it.  We began our trek home, taking our time and stopping frequently.  Some roads just had the right rythym to cause discomfort for Becky, while if I adjusted the speed sometimes that would help as well.  We made it home, Becky went inside, and the girls and I took the evening and the next to unpack things as needed.

Till next time,... which will hopefully be a little more R&R.

Special Thanks to Gary and Mary for helping out while on Surgery day and helping with my Birthday, even though it didn't go as planned.  We were so fortunate to have you nearby to be able to help us out.  Thank you!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

2017 - Trip #2 - Lake In Wood Campground

Lake In Wood is quickly becoming one of our favorite campgrounds to attend.  It is an easy hour drive with no hectic areas of traffic, similar to Colonial Woods which we liked so much as well which is an hours drive the other direction.  So, off to the land of the Gnomes we go!

Arrival was smooth and simple and Becky picked up the golf cart we rented while I drove back to the site at the far end of the campground.  Having a site upfront is nice since it is close to the activities, but with the hills and distance combined when in the back of the campground it is definitely nice to have the golf cart.  We also were camping with friends that we met last time we were here who have their granddaughter with them, so lots of running with the kids to activities and pool and back to the camper!

Every site we have arrived at I always test the shore power pedestal to see what I have voltage and plug type wise, and after reading the RV No Shock Zone by Mike Sokol, I've learned a lot about my 120V and 12V systems.  When we purchased this RV, we also purchased a Progressive Industries Surge/Voltage protector.  This time, it kept telling us there was an open ground at the plug.  The plug was also loose, so I made a call to the front desk.  After some back and forth discussion, the maintenance guy reluctantly opened up the box to check it out.  The box was not bonded, so he did that, and also tightened up the outlet and checked the ground.   Satisfied, we plugged in and were back in business shortly after my tester reset.  This device has now saved us twice in the past two years.

This trip we are also camping next to friends that we met our last time here which is a lot of fun for the kids as they have another person to play with.  They rode bikes, when on walks, lots of swimming, and more!

There were many fun activities that Lake In Wood offered too this weekend to keep us all busy.  We did ceramics again this year so I was able to paint another Gnome for our campground sign and the kids each did a small ceramic.  Then, we went out and did the Gnome Scavenger hunt that they have at the campground which was a lot of fun for us all.  We rode the golf cart around to find the clues and solve the riddles and earn great little prizes for the kids.  Free Mini-Golf, Ice cream coupons, and more.

Madison starting our Painting at the lodge
Madison, Bella and I went to the lodge in the afternoon because we signed up for one of those group painting classes.  It was a lot of fun and Madison and I did one canvas together.  She did the main backgrounds and then I worked on adding the forground black,.... with some creativity from Madison as she wanted Palm Trees instead of the Bob Ross Happy Tree.  And here is the final result!!
We were quite creative today!  
Becky and I even got out for a little walk around the lake while the other kids were playing back at the site with the neighbors.  It's nice to get out together once in a while!

Our site, could have used about 6 more feet to keep things straight with the Truck.

Launching Rocket Balloons in the field!

Ally, Lilly, Madie, and Bella playing horseshoes at the Pits!