Life is better at the Campsite (mostly) – #34

“Life is better at the campsite”.  That saying can be seen on tote bags, coffee cups, T-shirts and other camping supplies.  I agree… mostly. Campsite

I have stayed in some beautiful campgrounds in different parts of the country. 

And I’ve stayed in some that are not so great.  In Middleton, Tennessee, the sites were  overgrown and weeds grew up through the cracks in the tennis court.  Sturbridge, Massachusetts was so muddy after several days of rain that I needed a ranger’s help backing in.  I just hoped I wouldn’t sink down and get stuck!

A campground I really liked was Horseshoe Lakes in Indiana.  It was peaceful with lots of trees, foliage and water.  The mosquitoes liked it too, so I got out my electronic bug zapper.  I sure don’t mind seeing one of those irritating insects get zapped. Bug zapper

Another Indiana campground, in Thorntown, was close to the 1880’s homesite of my great grandparents.  I loved experiencing the long sunsets and seeing the same creek and fields they would have known well.  

A few Texas campgrounds had an abundance of rainfall, and their lakes were more than full.  Lake Tawakoni had a dock and walkways covered with water.  The sign says “No vehicles beyond this point” because golf carts usually drive along the sidewalk!

In Illinois, I camped at the state fairgrounds in Springfield to be near the Abraham Lincoln historical sites.  The campsite I chose was on blacktop with full hookups:  water, electric and sewer.   One morning, I opened my door and was about to step out when I saw my camping neighbor hosing down the pavement.  He sheepishly explained that there had been a “mishap” with his sewer hose and he was cleaning it up.  I looked more carefully at the color of the water running beneath my steps, under my trailer and on down the line of RVs and campers.  It was like a Cousin Eddie scene from Christmas Vacation.  Eddie

Fortunately, that afternoon there was a heavy thunderstorm that washed the asphalt clean.

A campground that I really enjoyed and made a return visit to was Gettysburg Farm in Pennsylvania.  Trailers and RVs camped on a working farm in the cornfields and with a variety of farm animals. 

Recently at one campground, an employee’s weed eater inadvertently tossed a rock into my back trailer window which immediately crackled and looked like this. Jayco window inside

The maintenance supervisor and campground administrator assured me that they would cover the cost of replacement.  I’ve reinforced the window and will have the work done when I’m near the dealer in California. 

A small Colorado town proclaimed on their website that the first night in their municipal campground was free.  I made plans to stay overnight there and went to city hall to get a camping permit.  

“Free” turned out to be $25 because the city council had just enacted a new fee structure the day before I arrived.  I said to the clerk behind the counter, “So yesterday it was free and today it’s $25?  Your offer of a free night is all over the internet.  This seems like bait and switch.”  Since it was late in the afternoon and I had not made any other arrangements, I paid the $25 and got settled in my site.  A couple traveling to the east coast pulled in nearby.  We chatted a little, and since he also assumed it was free, he did not go to city hall, did not get a permit, and did not pay $25.  I was annoyed by all this and emailed a city administrator, mentioning some of the online sites where their city offered free camping.  I asked for a refund, not really expecting much.  Well, the next morning, I received a very apologetic letter from the Community Services Director who admitted that the city should have immediately changed their website and given campers a grace period.  He sent my refund that day.  Moral:  It never hurts to ask!

This is now much of northern Nevada looks.  Wells NV

It was a wonderful surprise, then, to find this campground just west of Wells, Nevada.  Welcome Station is an oasis with lush, green lawns, huge shady trees, artesian well water and a clear flowing brook.  What a restful place to stay!

Frequently, birds or animal visitors make an appearance in the campground.  In Wyoming, Bambi and a friend came to dinner one evening.  Campgrounds by water usually have geese or ducks.

 

On my epic camping trip, I’ve stayed in dozens of campgrounds across the US.  Everywhere I go I meet friendly and helpful folks camping in tents, trailers, and RVs.  It’s the best adventure ever. 

Life really is better at the campsite (mostly).

 

 

Lightning and Thunder and Wind, Oh My! – #33

While I was in Texas, the weather forecast was for very heavy, severe thunder and lightning storms later in the week.  I was headed for a specific destination and decided to leave a day early so I wouldn’t be traveling in the storm.  In Georgetown, I got settled into my campsite, bought gas and groceries and was ready when the storm began overnight.  The radio kept warning of hail damage and I had no place to shelter my car.  I asked three good friends back in California to pray for no hail as I hunkered down to wait out the weather.  The next morning, the rain had stopped, birds were singing… it was like nothing had ever happened.  And, (thank you, God) there was no hail damage to either car or trailer.Georgetown

A couple weeks later, camped at Lake Conroe north of Houston, I was out and about doing some errands.  Suddenly my car radio crackled to life:  WARNING!  SEVERE WEATHER ALERT!  TORNADO ACTIVITY WITHIN 5 MILES OF CURRENT LOCATION!  I swerved into a Walmart a couple blocks away and dashed inside.  Images of Walmart roofs being ripped away during tornadoes replayed in my mind, but I figured this huge building was safer than staying in my car.  Hurrying into the store, I was surprised that no one seemed concerned.  No. One.  I was freaking out… they were at the registers just checking out!  Walmart

Hmm, so maybe tornado warnings aren’t that big a deal here.  A friend familiar with tornadoes explained that there are different levels of alerts, threats, watches and warnings.  Oh, OK.  Personally, I would take an earthquake any day.  

The heat and humidity that accompanies this kind of weather is rough if you’re not used to it.  I don’t mind heat, but the humidity makes it feel like you’re in a steam room. Even a few simple tasks outdoors can leave you “glowing” and wishing for a shower.

Wild weather is not limited to the south, however.  I discovered lots of rain, lightning and thunder in Indiana and Michigan.  In some of these states, farmers have been unable to plant or have been delayed in putting in their crops this year.  Field

One afternoon in Indiana, my phone received a severe weather warning, so I pulled in the trailer awning, put away my lawn chair and pushed my plants under the steps.  The wind picked up, and later, one of my neighbor campers discovered his awning had torn in the storm.

My trailer has held up well in wild weather:  no leaks and everything intact. Jayco in MI  Sometimes, though, I’ve unhooked from campground electricity in lightning storms, concerned about frying the circuits in the trailer.  And once in awhile, the power goes out for a few hours during these storms.  The refrigerator can run on propane, I have a solar light and quite a few interesting books.  It’s all good. 

 

Wonderful Women in Waxahachie – #32

Waxahachie is a charming town in central Texas.  For the last few years, Sisters on the Fly and The Girl Camper have hosted a women’s camping event: Wonderful Women in Waxahachie.  I joined Sisters on the Fly last year (Sister #9988) and was determined to be with them in Waxahachie this year.

 

 

Over 100 women in vintage and new trailers, motorhomes, tents and cars camped in  Getzendaner Park for the weekend.

 

 

It was a delight to meet Janine Pettit, host of The Girl Camper podcast and website (girlcamper.com).  She is kind of a celebrity among women campers. 

 

 

Each camper received a tote bag full of cool camping stuff.

 

 

The event was held in conjunction with the Crossroads of Texas Film and Music Festival, also in Getzendaner Park, so several of us attended a concert or movie.  I watched the 1984 film Places in the Heart.  The director grew up in Waxahachie and the film was based on stories he heard from his family.  I hadn’t seen Places in the Heart since it came out and was caught off guard by my emotions when the main character is widowed.  It brought back a flood of memories of those first, difficult days.

 

 

One of the interesting speakers we heard was Mary Ellen Andorfer.  At age 31, Mary Ellen left her successful career with a prominent accounting firm in San Francisco and became a river guide in the Grand Canyon.  She vividly described the scenery, the night sky and the experience of being on the river.  Mary Ellen also shared with us the transformation she saw time and again in stressed-out corporate executives and other pressured business managers as she led them on week-long trips down the Colorado River.  

 

 

Kate Dunbar, author of The Campground Gourmet, did several cast iron cooking demonstrations.  

 

 

One of Kate’s specialties is chicken breast skewered with a sprig of thyme which infuses it with a delicate flavor.  She made perfect green beans in a cast iron wok.

 

 

Kate taught us about proper cast iron care and the best way to cook with it.  Later, we were treated to samples of her gourmet creations, all cooked in cast iron over an open fire. 

 

 

Gail Bable shared with us her experience as a campground host at Beaver Creek State Park in Ohio.  Gail is a certified naturalist with tons of information on the seven “Leave No Trace” principles of camping.  My biggest take-away from her talk was to “take out what you brought in”.  

Gail 2

 Some of these women campers are super creative in decorating their trailers.

 

 

This Texan’s trailer gave me a chuckle.

 

 

So did this sign.Trailer 3One mother and daughter brought a 1933 Gilkie towed with a bright yellow truck.  They rescued it from a museum in Maine that was closing.  Who knew there were popup campers 80+ years ago!

 

 

We shared meals together, had a fun drawing for various camping items, and enjoyed sitting around the campfire.

 

 

Wonderful Women in Waxahachie was a great time of making new friends, chatting about trailers and RVs, and camping together for the weekend.

 

 

A bonus connection for me was when a Facebook friend who lives and works on the other side of the world posted that his parents live in Waxahachie!  I was able to meet up with the D’Agosta family that I knew in Hemet, California.  My husband was the math and science teacher years ago for their now grown-up kids. D'Agostas

Until next year, Girl Campers, keep on going places and doing things!

 

 

Spring in Texas – #31

Early in April, I resumed my nomad life and left California, heading for a women’s camping event in Texas.  On the way, I visited my niece & family in Tucson.  We took a hike in Sabino Canyon which was pretty and flowing with lots of water in spring.Sabino hikeMy niece suggested that I stop at Caverns of Sonora on my journey, so I did.  There was a nice campground there in a ranch-type setting and I stayed the night, ready for a cavern tour the next morning.  While hooking up, I reached into the electrical box to plug in and found a wasp next!  One of ‘em got me but not bad.  Lesson learned:  Look before reaching in!

Lake Medina, Texas was my campground for a few days.  While there, I drove into San Antonio to visit The Alamo and the Riverwalk.  

I also took a tour of Bible Study Fellowship Headquarters, something I’ve always wanted to do.  My former Teaching Leader in California works on staff there, and we spent awhile catching up. I was impressed with the efficient printing, packing and shipping areas, and I even got to see this fall’s study in Acts coming off the press! 

Despite thunder and lightning storms that delayed me for a day, I made it to Waxahachie later in the week for my Girl Camper event, “Wonderful Women in Waxahachie”.  That’ll be the next blog post. WaxahachieAfter all the Girl Camper fun, I received a message from one of the other campers I had met in Waxahachie.  She lived nearby and wondered if I would like to see her part of Texas.  Julie and her daughter met me in Abbott which is the childhood home of Willie Nelson.  He owns several buildings in the town, including the church where he grew up singing as a child. 

Julie told me that much of this part of Texas was settled by Czech immigrants.  We went to Slovacek’s for lunch.  It’s a good-sized travel stop with lunch counter, meat market, bakery, and endless gift shop.  Lots of yummy Czech food here! (Jak se más is a greeting roughly translated How are you… or in Texas, Howdy!) 

We also drove around the town of West, Texas.  West… West… What was it about that name?  Julie mentioned that it had been the scene of a disastrous fertilizer plant fire a few years ago.  That’s right!  I remember that it took days to put out and there were several fatalities.  We drove to where it happened.  Much of the affected area has been rebuilt, but not this apartment complex.  Pictures are of that day in 2013, and as it looks now. 

West is a charming town where many of Czech heritage still live and work.

Julie & June showed me where their family lives and I got to meet their friendly pups.  It was a wonderful day with warm, hospitable Texans.  Thank you Julie and June!  

While in this area, I attended a live event for a podcast I enjoy: The WORLD and Everything in it.  It was fun to meet the people behind the voices and see how a daily podcast is produced. WORLD podcast 2

My nephew from Missouri was in Texas for two weeks of Army Reserve training.  So, I drove a few miles and was able to have dinner with Shawnn and one of his Army buddies.   Shawnn and me in HoustonI kept hearing tornado alerts, forecasts for hail, and severe weather warnings.  The heat and humidity in this part of Texas were pretty uncomfortable for a California girl, so I headed north for some (hopefully) cooler weather. 

 

Winter in California – #30

Last December, I found myself in Texas wondering where to spend the winter.  I could go southeast to Florida, or I could just go home to California.  Looking at a map, the west coast didn’t look much farther than Florida, so I headed west. 

Map (2)

I spent awhile in The Lone Star State, seeing former California friends and visiting a cousin I knew about but never met.  Evelyn’s dad and my grandmother were brother and sister. 

Cousins

Driving west across Texas, I came across the National Center for Illustrated Children’s Literature in Abilene.  For a former school librarian, this was like Disneyland.  I was able to see original works of art that had been published in familiar children’s books. This center hosts notable children’s book illustrators a few times a year. 

In Midland, I stopped to see the childhood home of President George W. Bush.  That evening I camped in Monahans State Park which is surrounded by sand dunes. 

It was kind of exciting to reach I-10, even though I was still several days away from home.  I-10 is a familiar California freeway.

In Arizona, I stayed in Benson and visited Tombstone, an interesting wild west town.  Now I know more about the Shootout at the OK Corral.

My niece & family hosted me for a few days in Tucson.  It’s always fun hanging out with Kim, Harrison and their girls.    Nieces

Ah… now I was back on familiar roads and enjoyed driving west on I-8.  On December 20, I pulled into a campground east of San Diego. My calculations showed that I had driven 17,000 miles since leaving California in July, crossed 31 states and made two trips into Canada. 

A few days later, I was in Riverside celebrating Christmas Eve with family and good friends.

Something I missed on my adventures was driving in familiar cities on familiar streets.  It was really nice being on streets and freeways I knew.  I could put the GPS away for awhile.  I was hoping for typical warm weather and sunny days in Southern California.  However, this was one of the coldest and wettest winters California has ever experienced. 

I loved connecting with friends and family.  My kids and I celebrated a birthday and attended a play together.  One week, I think I had coffee, lunch, dinner or yogurt with someone every single day!

 LHH

It was great being back in my home church for a few weeks.  This was also a good time to get my car serviced, arrange for new eyeglasses and see my tax guy. 

The trailer needed maintenance, so I left it at the dealer for a week.  BFF Angela (See #27 – Lucy & Ethel) asked if I would help her display at a trade show.  At the end of January, we drove to Las Vegas and set up a booth for her company, Classy BottleToppers (classybottletoppers.com).   We learned a lot, made some sales and connected with other entrepreneurs who are successfully marketing their products.  On our last evening there, we went to the Cirque du Soleil production of The Beatles LOVE.  

Back in Southern California, it rained and rained and rained.  One afternoon, ducks were swimming through my campsite! Ducks

Spring slowly returned to the Southland.  I enjoyed hiking and seeing wildflowers in Palm Springs.  One Saturday, the ladies from my church visited Shields Date Gardens and I was able to join them.

My daughter and I went to a bridal shower for a young cousin and a few weeks later, our family was at her beautiful outdoor wedding. Wedding

Cousin Millie & Rob took me to the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve to see the amazing poppy bloom this year.  While there, I had a dent on my car fixed, thanks to a good friend of Rob’s. 

 I also got to visit my oldest first cousin, Richard, age 93, who passed away just a few weeks later.

Richard

When April arrived, I knew it was time to get back out on the road.  I wanted to allow plenty of time to travel to Waxahachie, Texas for a women’s camping event.

My winter in California wasn’t always sunny & warm, but it warmed my heart to be there with people I love.   red-heart

Punxsutawney Phil and other Pennylvania Peculiarities – #29

Every year on February 2nd, a groundhog in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania makes an appearance (or not) to predict the weather for the next 6 weeks.  In October, I was camping a few miles from Punxsutawney and decided to see where Phil, the groundhog, hangs out. 

punxsutawney sign

It was surprising to see the influence that Groundhog Day has over this quaint town.  I saw Groundhog Lanes, Groundhog Plaza, Groundhog Lube and Oil, and many other businesses with Groundhog in their names. 

All around town were these cute figures of groundhogs representing whatever business they were planted next to.  My favorite was the US Postal Service groundhog.

A few miles away is Gobbler’s Knob, the actual site of annual Groundhog Day festivities.   It was deserted the Sunday afternoon I visited. 

In fact, I went right up on the platform and looked into Punxsutawney Phil’s house.  When Groundhog Day events make the news on February 2nd, I’ll know exactly where they take place!

What is a groundhog, anyway?  It’s also known as a woodchuck and is a member of the squirrel family.  German immigrants brought the groundhog story and tradition with them when they came to America.

Leaving Gobbler’s Knob, I was soon in Amish country, as evidenced by this sign.   I saw a buggy up ahead of me on the narrow, curving road.  There was an endless double yellow line which meant I couldn’t pass.  So I slowed down to a horse trot and enjoyed the scenery until there was a place to go around the buggy carrying a young Amish couple.

buggy sign

Driving around this part of Pennsylvania, I scanned the area radio stations.  That’s how I stumbled onto WKHB, AM 620 in Pittsburgh and Frank Powaski’s Polka Festival.  It was kinda fun listening to upbeat polka music while meandering the backroads.  

polka dance

Arriving back at my campground, I thought about having some ground hog (a hot dog) but decided that a bowl of chili on a rainy fall day sounded better.

 

 

Sunday Mornings – #28

Over the last several months, I have had the privilege of attending different churches with friends and relatives as well as by myself.  Some churches were huge (Hot Springs, Arkansas) and some had fewer than 30 people (Eagle Point, Oregon). 

Friends in Montana took me to the “Bluegrass” worship service.  Songs were accompanied by banjo, guitar and fiddle.

In Minnesota, I visited Paul and Janice’s Lutheran church.  I loved the liturgy and hymns accompanied by a pipe organ.

While visiting my nephew’s family in Missouri, I got to see my 16-year old great nephew play in the church orchestra.

Massachusetts had some really old churches.  I attended a Congregational Church near my campground that was established in 1703.  Their building dates from 1837.  

Near Sturbridge, Massachusetts, I worshiped with a much newer congregation that had only contemporary music.  On the way in, I met another Lorraine who invited me to sit with her. We found much in common besides our names!

Quaboag

In Dubois, Pennsylvania, I was very happy to attend the church of Pastor Mark who I had known in California.  He is not only the pastor, but also administrator of the Christian school affiliated with the church.  It was great sharing a meal and renewing friendship with Mark, Deb and their family.

In another part of Pennsylvania, I decided to attend Calvary Chapel of Lebanon.  This church was in a stately brick building that had been a Catholic school.  It was interesting to see a few women with head coverings, and it made me wonder if maybe they had a Mennonite background.  I was in Amish and Mennonite farm country, after all.

In the Calvary Chapel I visited near Richmond, Virginia,  several men wore suits and ties, including the pastor. The church met in what looked like a former shopping center.  The music for this service was hymns only, accompanied by guitars.

CC

On a November Sunday at Bridgepoint church in Gloucester, Virginia, the singing started out with “You Make Me Brave”. I had heard it on the radio but never paid much attention to it.  Seeing the words up on the screen kind of got to me and I had trouble getting through the song. 

For You make me brave
It’s You who make me brave
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves
It’s You who make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the promises You made

People have told me I’m brave, but really, I’m not… just crazy adventurous, I guess.  Christmas decorations were beginning to go up around this part of Virginia.  I wasn’t feeling very brave that Sunday in rainy cold weather, with trailer water heater troubles. I looked up the song on YouTube later and played it about 10 times.  It’s my new favorite.

In North Carolina, I attended a church that was established in 1793. I was in tobacco country.  A few folks lit up as soon as they left the church building.

Martin Luther King once commented:  “… the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o’clock on Sunday morning”.  Sadly, I found that to be true as I traveled farther south.  

The churches I chose to visit were pretty much the same in format, but with regional differences.  It was wonderful being able to worship with people all over the US in many different settings.  I always left filled up and glad I went.  Folks were friendly and welcoming.  Several times, I was invited to stay for coffee and fellowship following the service.   It’s encouraging to me to know the Church is alive and well in our country.

Steeple

 

 

Lucy and Ethel – #27

Angela is the sister God gave me when I was all grown up.  We have been best friends for over 35 years.  Our husbands taught together at two Christian schools.  We were next door neighbors for 14 years and our kids all played together.

Kinneys Fritches 1989

We call ourselves Lucy and Ethel because of the crazy adventures we’ve taken together. A little over a year ago, Angie went with me to the RV Show in Pomona when I was starting to look at travel trailers.

RV Show

Recently, she flew to NC and stayed with me for a week.

 

Our first stop was at the home of Angela’s cousin, Danny near Canton, NC.  We parked the trailer at his home for a few nights and enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner with his family.

Danny lives on property that Angela’s great grandfather, a Confederate soldier, obtained after the Civil War.  There are still some old buildings on the site of the original homestead.  Nearby is a cemetery where Angela’s great grandparents are laid to rest.

One day we toured The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, the largest privately owned home in the US.  Built in 1895, it was elaborately decorated for Christmas. 

Later, we drove to The Grove Park Inn where we had been told there was a National Gingerbread House Competition.  As we pulled up near the parking lot, a woman was stopping each car and speaking to the driver.  I told her we wanted to see the gingerbread houses.  She said we had to have dinner reservations at the hotel in order to see the houses, and that there was no parking available.  We pulled into the parking lot to turn around and Angie said something about trying to get in anyway.   Ahead of us was a friendly-looking parking lot attendant.  We asked him about the gingerbread houses, and he informed us that we could park in the multi-story hotel parking structure, so we did!  We made our way up to the 8th floor, got off the elevator and found ourselves in a hotel service corridor.  We didn’t know where to go, but straight ahead of us was a door marked STAFF ONLY. Staff onlySo of course, Angie opened it and we went right in.  Suddenly we were in the busy hotel kitchen!  We got some funny looks from the staff but just kept walking until we came out into a large banquet room filled with guests enjoying the holiday buffet. 

Soon we saw the first of several displays of gingerbread houses that were placed throughout the hotel.  The entries must be completely edible, except for the base, and 75% has to be gingerbread.  They can be any shape, not just houses.

After viewing several displays and watching a video about the winning entry (Gearing Up for Christmas with the pink racer), we settled into a couple of rocking chairs on an upper floor to watch the sunset. 

I told Angie I was NOT going back through the kitchen, and eventually we found a legitimate way back to the parking garage! 

A few days later we stayed with Angie’s former co-worker who retired and moved to Tennessee last year.  We moved into Judy’s house for a couple days.  It was nice to sleep in real beds, enjoy plenty of hot water and watch Hallmark Christmas movies.  Judy took us all around her beautiful lakeside community.  We saw deer in her back yard, and she fed us like royalty.  The day we left, there was a light dusting of snow in the morning, but the roads were clear as we made our way to Nashville.

After setting up in our campground, we drove around the grounds of The Grand Ole Opry.   Stopping at Will Call, we picked up our tickets for the next day’s Backstage Tour.  The Opry gift shop was filled with all things country music.

Later we followed Guy Fieri’s recommendation and ate at Martin’s BBQ Joint for delicious, genuine Southern Bar-B-Que!

The next morning, I discovered that my outside water hose had frozen in the 24 degree temperature overnight.  It was hard getting the frozen hose off the frozen faucet with my frozen fingers and then hitching up the trailer.  I was very glad we had good heat inside so I could thaw out.  While Angie was getting ready, I said, “We need propane.  I’m going to go up to the camp store and get some.”   So, completely forgetting that I had already hooked up the trailer, I pulled out of the site and drove to propane location.  One of the campground workers ran toward my car, waving his arms and said, “You’re dragging a cord.”  I looked out, saw my trailer behind me (!) and my electrical cord bouncing along.  I stopped the car, rushed back to the trailer and discovered Angie laughing uncontrollably.  She had just rescued my coffee maker and saved it from crashing to the floor.  Oh my.  It was a total rookie mistake and could have been a lot worse.  After I got the propane, we went back to the campsite, hooked to the electricity again and finished getting ourselves ready for the day.  Embarrassing. 

Despite the crazy beginning to our day, we enjoyed the Backstage Tour of The Grand Ole Opry and lunch afterward at the nearby Opry Mills Mall.  I have to admit that I don’t know much about country music.  The tour guide kept mentioning names of performers that everyone else recognized.  I just smiled and nodded.  

Grand Ole Opry

That afternoon we drove to Memphis and again camped in temperatures that dipped below freezing at night.  This time, I didn’t hook up the water hose!  The next morning, we drove to Elvis’ Graceland.  His home is pretty much the way it was when he died over 40 years ago and contains lots of interesting memorabilia and facts about his life.  A separate building houses some of his cars and costumes.

We ate at Gladys’ Diner, named for Elvis’ mom.  A feature on their menu is the Grilled Peanut Butter and Banana sandwich, a favorite of Elvis.

Later that day, we drove to Little Rock and settled in to an RV park along the Arkansas River.   At a Kohl’s store, Angie bought a top to wear on the plane ride home.  Many of her clothes have sparkles or sequins, and when she flew to North Carolina the week before, she set off a bunch of alarms at the airport TSA checkpoint!

Jeans sparkle

The next morning, we hugged goodbye at the Little Rock airport.  What a wonderful gift to have my BFF with me for a week and another Lucy and Ethel adventure to remember!

lucyandethel

 

 

 

 

My New Hampshire Blakes – #26

Hampton, New Hampshire is a beach town.   

Hampton Beach NH

Hampton is where my first Blake ancestors from England settled.  Jasper Blake arrived in the area sometime around 1643.  I was born with the name Blake and am ten generations down from Jasper.  My curiosity led me to find out where the early Blakes forged a life on this continent.    

Hampton NH map

My search took me to the Hampton Historical Society located in the Tuck Museum of Hampton History.

A staff member greeted me warmly and asked how she could be of help.  I told her I was a Blake descendant and asked for any information on early Blakes in the area.  She knew about Jasper Blake and started me out with a large red book.

Jasper Blake book

There was verification of the same lines of descent in this volume that had been passed down to me through my family.  Good to know it was documented by others. 

Across the street from the Tuck Museum is Founders Park (dedicated in 1925) with stone monuments to the area’s first settlers.  Jasper Blake has a stone in the park among them. 

Some other folks at the historical society told me about Blakesville, an area of Hampton where Blakes for generations built homes and owned farms.   The neighborhood included Blake Lane and homes that had once belonged to Blakes (and maybe still do).

Pine Grove Cemetery is where the many of the founding settlers were buried.  Early graves were unmarked, had a common rock, or a wooden marker that has disintegrated over the last 350 years.  I didn’t find a grave for Jasper Blake who died in 1674.

Pine Grove Cemetery

I wondered where Jasper Blake might have had land or a farm.  Some of the other books at the historical society indicated where he may have lived.  When I drove out that way, I saw rolling hills, broad expanses of green meadows, thick woods and new homes in landscaped clearings.

My Blakes eventually moved 50 miles west to the community of Louden, NH. There are a lot of Blake names in that area, too.  (Blake cemetery on Blake Rd, etc.)  A few of my family migrated south to Boston, Massachusetts, including my great grandfather William Ashton Blake.   He always loved New Hampshire, though, and wrote a poem about it in 1917 when he was living in Oregon.  

It’s a long way to old New Hampshire,                                                                                           It’s a long way to go                                                                                                                           To the old homesteads of our grandsires                                                                                    That we cherish and hold so dear.                                                                                                  It’s far to dear old Granite State                                                                                                    And its legendary lore.                                                                                                                      It’s a long, long way to old New Hampshire,                                                                                But my heart’s right there.

I loved New Hampshire, too, and was glad to see where my people settled generations ago.

 

Maine Lobster – #25

Disclaimer:  Vegetarians might want to just skip this one.

For years, I subscribed to Yankee Magazine and often read about Lobster Rolls.  It seemed that every so often, Yankee did an article featuring the best places in Maine for Lobster Rolls and other lobster cuisine. 

Yankee lobster

I wondered:  What exactly IS a Lobster Roll?  I found out when I camped in Wells, Maine.

Wells Maine

According to Wikipedia, a lobster roll is “a sandwich native to New England made of lobster meat served on a grilled hot dog style bun with the opening on the top rather than the side.  The filling may also contain butter, lemon juice, salt and black pepper.”

Lobster cartoon

A local at the campground recommended Fisherman’s Catch for lobster rolls.  

I ordered the special which featured a lobster roll at market price, French fries and coleslaw.  Market price turned out to be pricey, but hey, how often am I in Maine?

Lobster Roll

The restaurant had a cute outdoor eating area arranged around a boat, so I perched out there to enjoy my dinner.

Lorraine in Maine

 

 

A couple from Massachusetts joined me, and we struck up a conversation about their state.  They were visiting Maine for a few days and, like me, had also decided to have the lobster roll special.   

 

 

 

My view while savoring lobster and crossing another item off the bucket list!

Wells beach