Right after our nephew’s wedding in Sargents, Colorado, we headed east with some haste because a friend and family member was very ill. We wanted to be around to help out if we could. So, we broke with our usual habit of taking the slow route and drove on Interstate Highways all the way east. We still really dislike that kind of travel with Shiny but it got us where we wanted to go in good time. We took advantage of Boondockers Welcome, Harvest Hosts and Airstream Courtesy Parking programs and found very pleasant places to stay near the highway. As always we are amazed by peoples generosity. I mean, they don’t know us from Adam but these people let us stay parked near their houses and businesses for the night. This sort of thing should be in the headlines. Right?
Our first stop was a Boondockers Welcome host in Pueblo, CO, where we met our host’s pet tortoise, the charming Soupy!
We were reminded of just how big and how flat the middle of the country is at our next stop, another Boondockers Welcome in Ingalls, Kansas. “As far as the eye can see” is a pretty long way.
We had a lovely stay for the night with a Boondockers Welcome host in Wichita, Kansas. This tree lined street with 1920’s bungalows was so cute. Neighbors sat on their porches and waved to us as we walked by. I found myself thinking that I could live in a place like this and then I remembered that it was in Tornado Alley. Hmmm. Every place has its risks. Would you agree?
The beautiful Botanica Gardens were within walking distance of Shiny and, despite the heat, I had a great time enjoying the sites.
We spent the night in Richfield, Ohio at a fellow Air streamer’s house. That might might not seem noteworthy except that the owners of the property did not know us. Larry had texted with him a few times after he had found their name through the Airstream Courtesy Parking program. It turns out that the owners were not going to be home but they let us stay there anyway. That was pretty special.
Our last stop before NH was at Abbott Farm in Baldwinsville, NY. This fifth generation farm was a busy place complete with a farm stand, a petting farm, orchards and playgrounds. It had spaces for about ten RVs to park. We bought delicious cheese and meats at their store. Actually, we probably spent more than we would have if we had stayed at a campground. But, the food was top notch.
Once again we are amazed and humbled by people’s goodwill and charity. A farmer in NH let us stay near his barn for a month all the time regaling us with fresh veggies and good company. It was great to be back in New Hampshire and to visit with family and friends.
On August 19, 2021 we lay to rest my Dad, Richard E. O’Shaughnessy. He died in December but because of COVID, we had to delay his funeral. His service was a beautiful testament to a remarkable man. Dad’s good friend, ‘brother’ and pastor, Father Cole, led us all in a fitting tribute of love for my father. Larry played a beautiful rendition of Amazing Grace on his fiddle and cousin Patty led us all in song.
After my Dad’s funeral, I headed south on a flight to South Carolina with, Brooke, Dan and Connor so that I could help out after Brooke’s surgery. It was a cliff hanger between hoping Brooke’s COVID results would arrive in time, praying that COVID hadn’t shut down elective surgeries, and crossing our fingers that the approaching hurricane wouldn’t cancel the fight. Well, everything worked out except that poor Larry had to drive down with Shiny through the rain brought by the storm. He says it was some of the worst driving of his life.
So, Larry made it to SC. He and Dan were in charge while Brooke and I were in Atlanta where Brooke had a very successful surgery. About three weeks later, we learned that Dan’s Dad had died.
On September 11, 2021, our friend, our son-in-law’s father, our grandson’s Poppa, Steve Foley, died after a four year battle with cancer. Steve was a good man and we miss him and grieve with his family. Connor says that Poppa is with the Angels. I think he’s right.
We headed up to NH with Shiny to attend Steve’s services. Then, in the third week of September, with heavy hearts, we headed for the Eastern seaboard, a trip that Larry had planned a year ago.
Our first stop was at Schodack Island State Park which is south of Albany and very near where my Mom grew up in East Greenbush, NY. It’s located between the Hudson River and Schodack Creek. I was able to visit a friend from my Burlington days back in the 80’s and that was great fun. Where does the time go? Alas, we did not take a picture. But, hey, here’s one from our glory days.
We moseyed our way through the Catskills and it was a beautiful drive with rolling hills, farm land and small towns. Our destination for the night was a Harvest Host spot, Home Grown Farm in Bovina, NY. It was a lovely place and we stocked up on great organic beef and lamb.
Continuing on, we spent the next night at another Harvest Host, Pocono Organics in Long Pond, Pa. It was a good place to stop and we had a great breakfast at their restaurant the next morning. We were right down the street from the Pocono Speedway. We were glad that there weren’t any races the night we were there!
In order to get to Delaware, we had to drive through some of PA and New Jersey. We refer to this East coast driving as “driving through the bowels of hell.” It’s no fun driving a car there but it’s more nerve wracking pulling a camper. Larry did a fine job but we were glad when we got to Newark, Delaware.
We stayed at a Harvest Host location in Newark. The parking lot of the Midnight Oil Brewery. We were joined by friends Shel and Susan, Todd and Beth, and Pete and Kellie. We drank good beer, ate wood fired pizza and the musicians played some nice tunes. Fun time.
We spent 3 days at Henlopen State Park in Lewes, Delaware. This park and all of the subsequent ones on this trip were full, full, full. But, how can you go wrong with time spent near the ocean? During World War 2, Henlopen was a coastal defense site and we saw the old lookout towers and the remains of old Battery 519. The area abounds with bike trails and the old town of Lewes is very picturesque. It was settled in 1631 and was the first European settlement in Delaware. A fun aspect of travel is finding new plants and at Henlopen, I saw my first persimmon! They are about the size of a small apricot.
Our next stop was Delaware Seashore State Park in Bethany Beach, Delaware. There were lots of fisherman fishing for tautog here, a strange fish, the teeth are just plain weird. Here’s a picture from the internet.
The campground was near a good sized bridge but, like I say, we were near the ocean and that felt good.
After that, it was on to Assateague Island State Park in Sinepuxent Bay, MD. We had fun watching the wild horses and spent much time shaking our heads at the people who would get close to the horses despite warnings to stay far away from them!
Adjacent to the state park is the national park which has fewer amenities but quieter and less crowded. We got to meet up with Annie, whom we met in Arizona a few year ago, and some of her friends. Larry got to play some music and that was fun.
By this point is it Columbus Day weekend and we couldn’t find a place to stay, so Annie was nice enough to let us stay in her yard even though she was going to be away. Did I say that people are kind? We had a nice four day rest stop there before we headed towards South Carolina.
Before we could get to our next stop, we had to cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Wikipedia states that, the 17 total mile bridge, “Because of its height, the narrowness of the spans (there are no hard shoulders), the low guardrails, and the frequency of high winds, it is often cited as one of the scariest bridges in the United States. Several weather-related incidents have caused complete closures of the bridge”. You may not know this about me, but I have a Panic Disorder and one of its primary manifestations is a fear of bridges!! I am happy to report that, thanks to some extensive therapy and a little luck, I did not need to resort to breathing into a paper bag.
Next on our trip was First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach, Virginia. My hopes for the place were not high. The park was described as an ‘urban park’ and so I imagined being in a parking lot in the middle of a city. But, low and behold, it was a beautiful place. The campsites were spread out and pretty private. There were lots of walks and nature trails. We took a walk along along a Cypress Swamp and learned some fun facts. What is the difference between a swamp and a marsh? One of the differences is that a swamp is mostly in the shade due to overhanging trees. Why is the water so dark? The tint of the water comes from tannins from the leaves and other vegetative matter from the trees. The tannins add to the acidic nature of the water. So, when early European sailors looked for water to bring with them on their return trips, they looked for this dark water because it was less likely to be a petrie dish for algae and other organisms. I have tried to find a source for this but I am unable. Suffice it to say, that this is what the park ranger told me!
Also, there are several Navy bases nearby so every morning and evening we were regaled with Reveille and Taps and other bugle songs. That created a fun rhythm to our days.
One unsettling part of the history of this park is that it was racially segregated until 1965.
When I had looked at Cape Hatteras on the map, the Outer Banks looked so tiny that I envisioned the area being remote and largely uninhabited. Imagine my disappointment when we drove through mile after mile of stop lights, tourist shops and adventure parks. Oh well, as with the rest of life, “Take what you like and leave the rest.”
Our last ocean side stop was at Frisco National Park at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. We were camped about 1/2 mile from the ocean’s edge. Our campsite was private, without electricity or water, and the dunes were lovely! It is a mecca for fisherman who line the shore. I’d have to say that this was my favorite ocean side park.
We put a lot of miles on Blue and Shiny this summer. We count our blessings every day. Life can pull you in directions that you hadn’t planned and always, love guides the way. I feel so grateful for the life that I have been given, for friends and family and for the opportunity to live on this beautiful planet. Safe travels to you all and especially to Dad and Steve. Until we meet again!