Back in the 215/609

I’m just about wrapping up a two week stay in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, my former home.  I’ve had ties to the 215 and 609 area codes since I was 16, when my family moved from the south shore of Long Island, New York to Pennington, New Jersey.  I left at 18 for college, went west, and then returned in 1997 at age 41, settling across the river in Bucks County.  So it’s natural that being here stirs up lots of memories.

Like, my father and my brother Jamie died in the 609.  My mother and my brother Chuck died in the 215.

I really AM trying to dwell on the positive.  This is where my children grew up – there were certainly many happy times.  And I’ve SO MUCH enjoyed seeing friends I’ve missed greatly over the past nine months.  I’m truly thankful for the many warm relationships I still have here, but those sad thoughts creep in just the same, triggered by familiar landmarks in the area.  It’s definitely been bittersweet.

One of the highlights was a three-day side trip to Long Island to visit my lifelong friend Carol.  No RV, just my little car.  We went to the resort-y town of Greenport, way out on the east end of the island, to visit her new grandson, and then had a wonderful night out.  I love her like a sister!

My beautiful friend/sister Carol with her grandson, Michael
Chris and Carol out on the town!

Another highlight was getting back together with my friend Agnes.  She was my BFF for twelve years, and then we had a falling out around eight years ago.  Now we’re just looking forward, and it feels soooo comfortable, natural and – well, just fantastic all the way around.  She took me out to dinner on my birthday last week, which was a real treat – any time spent with Agnes is special.  Here we are, “back in the day” –

Agnes and Chris, circa 2009

Speaking of birthdays, I was excited to turn 62 and qualify for the National Park Service senior pass…well, kind of excited…  But you should know that the price for a lifetime pass is increasing from $10 to $80 sometime this fall – so if you’re 62 or older, get yours now!

I also spent time with friends from my former workplace, my genealogy buddies at the Bucks County Genealogical Society, and my girlfriends Cindy, Denise, Kim, Else, and Nancy.  It was wonderful to be with them all, and I hope it made them feel good to be with me, too.  I’ll carry that feeling with me for a long time.

I’ve done so much socializing that I’ve hardly done any work – that’s a good thing!!  But even with all the hugs and kisses going around, I did still have to get things done.  I met with a genealogy client, and a new one came along that I’m very excited about.  I completed some of my online self-paced genealogy classes, but I’m still one class behind (I take two per month – I haven’t finished one of my May classes, and it’s already June!).

I was also hoping to do a bunch of scanning of my genealogy research files while I’m here near my storage.  I need my files with me as I do my research, but of course I don’t want to lug them around.  I did get SOME scanning done, but not all.  I have a little reprieve because I’ll be making an unexpected (but brief) trip back to Bucks County at the end of July, so now my plan is to scan the rest of them over the next two months, and return a box of files to storage then.

I was able to off-load some stuff from the RV back to storage: a couple of tubs of genealogy files which I’ve already scanned, and a huge tub of books which is VERY heavy (what was I thinking??):

Tote full of HEAVY books!

There are several genealogy books which I need to have and will keep, but for pleasure reading I’ve started buying used paperbacks at book sales, and will recycle them back to Goodwill so I’m not carrying around books I’ve already read.  I also installed an Amazon Kindle on my laptop, and I can get free or very inexpensive downloads from Amazon and other sources.  Slowly trying to change my habits to accommodate my new nomadic lifestyle!

I love the campground here, and except for Memorial Day weekend, I had it pretty much to myself:

A nice, quite campsite
Empty campsites all around

But now it’s time to say goodbye to the 215/609 – except for that quick trip at the end of July, I won’t be back until May of 2018.  Returning to a place I used to call home after being away for so long sure puts a different perspective on life in general.   I’m expecting that next year, with more time behind me, the acute sadness I’m often feeling in this place more than others, will dull a little more.  I’m hoping I’ll be able to simply enjoy the good memories, and all the people still here who I love.  Now, on to the many adventures in store for summer of 2017!!

Medical Stuff

People often ask me how I manage my medical care on the road:  how do I get my prescriptions refilled, what do I do for health insurance, what happens when I need to see a doctor?  I’m very fortunate to be a generally healthy person at the moment, which makes all of this much easier.  Since I’m back in Bucks County right now taking care of a bunch of medical “business”, it’s very much on my mind and a good time to write about it.

First, health insurance.   When I was working, I was contributing about $600/month for medical insurance for me and my son.  It was platinum coverage – co-pays were generally $10 per doctor visit, and there was no deductible or coinsurance.  When I first retired, I stayed on the same plan through the retiree group at a cost of $1,300/month for just me (my son graduated from college and went out on his own), but I knew it wasn’t sustainable.   I had three and a half years to go before Medicare would kick in; I needed to find a less expensive solution.

So I decided to check out Obamacare.  As you probably know, the exchanges are state based.  Although I was a resident of Pennsylvania when I first retired, I planned to become a resident of Florida shortly thereafter.  So I started out with the expensive retiree group coverage through my former employer for the first few months, and then switched to a high deductible, low premium plan on the Florida state exchange once I became a resident there.

On the Florida exchange, I had a choice of over 50 plans offered by several insurance providers.  I was especially concerned about coverage while traveling, so in addition to cost, I focused on how the insurance company defined in-network versus out-of-network medical providers.

I was thrilled to find a Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) plan with a nationwide network, which costs me about $275/month, with a deductible of $7,500.  If I’m healthy, I save a tremendous amount in premiums.  If I’m sick, I figure that the monthly premium plus the deductible is still less than the premiums for the retiree group plan through my former employer.  And perhaps most importantly, BCBS providers are all over the country, so I can go to doctors in any state and still be in-network.

Second, prescriptions.  For years, I went to my small neighborhood pharmacy to get my prescriptions filled.  So I had no idea that large national pharmacies offer very high-tech services, which are essential while traveling.  They allow customers to monitor the status of their prescriptions online.  You can see exactly when you’re due for a refill, which doctor ordered the medication, and how many refills you have left.   The very best part is that, with just a few clicks, you can have your prescriptions filled at the pharmacy closest to you, and it can be a different location every time.  It’s all done electronically, and it’s so quick – hit the “EASY” button!!

I started with CVS but I’m with Walgreens now – both have the same service. I take just two daily medications, and the cost for those is very low – about $10/month.  But, this time I needed a prescription filled for a tube of cream I use occasionally, and that cost me $48!  So I’m still feeling my way through what things cost, what’s covered, and what’s going toward my deductible.

Third, doctors.  As I said earlier, I’ve been extremely fortunate to be generally healthy.  I haven’t needed a sick visit to a doctor as yet.  If I did, I would go to the closet Urgent Care, first checking online to find a facility in the BCBS network.

For my well visits, annual checkups, and cancer screenings, I’m keeping the same doctors I had when I lived in Pennsylvania. Thankfully, they’re all in the BCBS network.  I’d rather retain continuity as long as possible, so I’ll plan a trip to Bucks County once a year for for these “well” doctor visits.  I will eventually settle down and find doctors in my future location, and I don’t want to make multiple changes.

One of the reasons I retired early is my very strong sense of how short life is, mostly because both of my younger brothers died before me.  None of us knows how long we have, but I feel like I have extra risk factors.  Three of my four immediate family members had cancer, and I smoked cigarettes for thirty years, which puts me at high risk for lung cancer.  So my lung health is my number one concern.

I’ve been seeing the pulmonary specialists at Fox Chase Cancer Center for a couple of years because of lingering issues from two episodes of pneumonia.  Last May, they declared my lungs stabilized, and now I’m in a program which provides annual screenings for lung cancer, for which I’m very grateful.  This week, I had my first one.  No cancer, thank goodness, but there is a little glitch.

There seems to be an infection and/or inflammation in a new area of my lungs.  They want me to have another scan in two months to see if it’s resolved itself, and meet with the pulmonary specialist. I’m not worried about it, but I’m glad they’re monitoring it.

In two months, I’ll be just starting my stay in Albany, about 200 miles away from Bucks County.  So, I’ll plan to leave the RV at the campground in Albany, drive down to Bucks County in my car, stay with a friend overnight, and then drive back to Albany after the appointment.

If more scans will be required, then it will get a little more complicated – and a lot more expensive as I travel farther away in my RV.  Hopefully, this strange infection will resolve itself by the time of the next scan, and I’ll be good to go!

 

 

 

 

 

NGS Annual Conference

It’s an incredible feeling to be in the same room with 2,000 other people who share your obsession with genealogy. The first time I attended the National Genealogical Society’s Annual Conference was in 2011 in Charleston, South Carolina, and I remember very clearly the initial thrill of being with so many like-minded people.

The following year, in 2012, I chose to use my vacation time to go to the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh instead.  In 2013, I was taking care of my sick brother.  In 2014, I attended the NGS Conference in Richmond, Virginia, which was also fabulous. In 2015, my mother had just died and I was putting the house up for sale. In 2016, my son was graduating from college the same weekend as the conference.  So I spent this week in Raleigh, North Carolina in 2017, attending my third NGS Annual Conference, and I’ve been extremely happy to be here!

National Genealogical Society’s 2017  Conference Banner

The four day conference was jam-packed with classes from 8 in the morning till 5 at night, with visits to the Exhibit Hall in between.  There were lots of options for group luncheons and dinners, but I didn’t sign up for anything extra (frugal me).  I would have enjoyed them I’m sure, but they’re pricey and could easily double the cost of attendance.  I have my cool little pink lunchbox that I take with me on research trips, so that’s what I did here, too!

Raleigh Convention Center

J. Mark Lowe presented the Opening Session, which was extremely inspirational and moving.  Among other things, he spoke about his work with a high school history class.  These kids did genealogy projects which involved creating presentation boards, including QRC codes to access recordings of the students telling their favorite story in their own words and voices.  It really inspired me to consider working with young people in the future.

Lately I’ve preferred taking classes which involve technology because I feel that’s where I need to learn the most – DNA, using Google maps, scanning and organizing digital photo files, and that sort of thing.  I also like to attend presentations by nationally known speakers, including top genealogists Elizabeth Shown Mills, Thomas Jones, and Judy Russell.  And depending on the other choices in a particular time slot, I attend lectures on German research, since I have generally avoided those branches of my family tree!

I have to say that the conference overall was nothing short of incredible.  The choices of high quality lectures made it difficult to choose just one to attend.  It always amazes me how many extremely intelligent people are involved in genealogy – many of the speakers had PhD’s or were Certified Genealogists.

I think the sessions I enjoyed the most were the DNA lectures with Blaine Bettinger, Judy Russell, and Diahan Southard.  They all packed the room – I think DNA was the most popular topic at the conference!

I’ll miss next year’s conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan, because I’ll be over in England for the winter and early spring (more on that later).  In 2019, the conference will be held in St. Charles, Missouri, the same place it was held in 2015.  They say it was a great location, and that’s why they’re holding the conference again there so soon.  I’ll definitely plan to be there, especially because for years, I’ve wanted to go the St. Louis NARA location, where all the military records from World War I and II are kept – at least those which survived the 1973 fire.  It’s on my extended calendar!

It was NOT a great week from a camping perspective.  The closest campground to the downtown Convention Center was at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds.  It was just not a very attractive place.

My site at the North Carolina State Fair Campground

There was virtually no shade, and I wasn’t able to get my awning to work to create some.  Fortunately,  I wasn’t “home” very much, the weather cooperated by not being too hot,  it was a terrific location for my daily commute to the conference, and the price was right at $210 for the week (versus the cost of a conference hotel at $120 and up per night), so it absolutely served its purpose!

Tomorrow I’ll drive about 200 miles to my cousin Betsy’s house near Richmond, Virginia, where I’ll stay a week in her beautiful home, and have some much-needed “sister time” – can’t wait!!

Time for some fun!!

I truly love being able to spend loads of time doing my genealogy research. Mostly, I’m either researching on-line, at a courthouse or an archive, at a cemetery looking for gravestones, or I’m on the computer processing digital images from the courthouse or the cemetery, or taking online genealogy classes.  I’ve spent many, many days doing nothing but these activities.  I love it, but there are two major downsides.

The first is that, too often, I’m on the computer all day long.  And the second is that I’m alone.  Even though I enjoy it tremendously, sometimes it feels more like work than fun.

So, when a friend let me know that she and her husband were heading to Georgia in their RV, I was more than thrilled.  I met Sandra when we both lived in California, while taking our babies for a walk in their strollers around the neighborhood – and our daughters are now 27 years old.  In a complete coincidence, Sandra and Bob also retired last year and began living in an RV, and they’ve finally made their way to the east coast.

I didn’t even realize how much I was missing being with friends until they arrived.  They stayed at my Georgia campground for three nights, so we had two full days together.  We went out to eat (which I don’t do by myself), went on a couple of lovely hikes, had dinner and wine together at the campground, and sat out at the picnic table until after dark.  It was fantastic!!!

My campground was planning to move me to a much less desirable campsite for the last 5 nights of my month there, so instead, I decided to leave Georgia early, and meet Sandra and Bob in South Carolina.  I had to give up some of my Georgia research time, but frankly, I needed a break!  It was wonderful to be away from the computer and spending time with these very dear friends instead.

It was just a two hour drive on a gorgeous sunny day up to South Carolina’s Table Rock State Park, just near the North Carolina border and about an hour away from the artsy mountain town of Asheville.

My rig arriving at Table Rock State Park, South Carolina
View from the Visitor’s Center, Table Rock State Park, South Carolina

We set up camp in wooded, adjacent sites.  Bob and Sandra are avid hikers, so that was the primary daily activity.  On TWO of the next four days, we hiked TEN MILES each time, and I capitalize those words because I’m amazed that I was able to do it TWICE!  One of the long hikes was particularly difficult because there was a long uphill climb.

A waterfall along the way
The view at the top was worth it!!

We had fabulous dinners together every night, played Cribbage in the evenings, spent a day in Asheville, and even had S’mores over a campfire one night!  We also went to a local seafood buffet (think frogs legs and catfish) with a live gospel band – the whole experience was extremely entertaining.

It was a terrific break “off the grid” – there was no cell service or internet access there – and I loved being with Sandra and Bob.  We’ll be planning to rendezvous again soon, as we make our way up the east coast this spring, and around upstate New York and New England this summer.

Back to my serious genealogy world this week, as I attend the National Genealogical Society’s annual conference in Raleigh, North Carolina – lots of fun in a different way!

Florida to Georgia

After lots of packing and cleaning, both the RV and the Sarasota house, I’m back in my little traveling home.  Last Sunday, I drove 500 miles from Sarasota, Florida, to the Athens, Georgia area, where I’ll stay for a month.  It’s the perfect place to get re-adjusted:  I’m familiar with the campground because I stayed here last November, and there’s a truly amazing mobile RV mechanic here who doesn’t mind when I call him on a Sunday with a stupid question!

Before I left Sarasota, I took the RV in to a local dealer to have them inspect the engine, do an oil change, replace the little awning topper on the slide-out, and flush the water system.  Everything checked out, and we were both rarin’ to go!

The trip took me about 8 1/2 hours, including three quick stops along the way.   I love to get on the road really early on a Sunday morning, like 4:30 or 5 am – that way, before I hit any traffic, I’m already halfway there.  Maybe I like to do it that way because it’s what my parents did when we did car trips as a family, and it worked well.  I get to my destination well before dark, with plenty of time to set up camp and put dinner together.

After a four month hiatus, I was kind of worried that I would forget everything Eric taught me about operating the RV.  I had to do everything slowly and deliberately at first, but it all came back to me just fine.  I knew I must be pretty comfortable with it when I was deep in thought, and then suddenly realized I was going 75 mph and passing a huge truck!  And I set up camp just fine on arrival in Georgia, including slapping on some stickers which my thoughtful son gave to me for Christmas:

My son knows his Mama!!

I love it here!  My little campsite faces a pond so I have a lovely view and lots of privacy.  Spring is here and the weather is PERFECT, in the 80’s during the day and 50’s at night. I keep all my doors and windows open so I can hear the birds all day, and the crickets and frogs all night.  Probably about ten times a day, and also when I wake up during the night, I find myself saying out loud, “OMG, this is so friggin’ awesome!!”.

My happy home in Georgia
View from the front door

During the day, I work outside under the awning at the picnic table or in my comfy chair.  I take long walks around the campground, chatting with people here and there.  I’m in the middle of reading a long novel.  I spent one day this week doing deed research at the Elbert County Courthouse in Elberton – more on that in another post.  And I’m trying to finish up a series of genealogy classes toward earning a certificate, which I started a few years ago.

So, to quote my favorite Native American saying, my heart soars like an eagle these days.  I get to be outside as much as I want, and do genealogy all day long – I am one lucky lady!!

Spring 2017 Schedule

I checked on my RV the other day – it’s been in storage since December 1st – and it started up just fine.  Seeing it generated a flood of great memories from my travels last fall, and I realized how much I miss it!  So I’m really looking forward to getting back on the road in early April after my trip to Seattle and China beginning next week.

My first stop will be at a campground near Athens, Georgia, where I’ll stay for a full month.  I was there for about three weeks last November, and barely scraped the surface of the research I need to do in Walton and surrounding counties.  That’s partly because Eric and I had the agenda of cleaning up the family cemetery and visiting places from Eric’s childhood, which was great fun.  But this time, I’ll focus on courthouse research.

Eric’s family goes back more than 200 years in Georgia, and the campground’s location is central to various county seats I’ll need to visit.  The weather in Georgia will be stunning, with all the flowers in bloom which we don’t see until May in the northeast.   And it’ll be really helpful to have my first stop be a full month, so I can get organized for the season, which will include several visits from my new BFF, the local mobile RV repair man!

In early May, I’m heading up to Raleigh, North Carolina to attend the annual National Genealogical Society conference.  I’ve been to a few of them over the years, and always enjoy it tremendously.  I especially love the feeling of being with thousands of my “peeps” – they’re all just like me when it comes to genealogy!

After a week in Raleigh, I’ll go to a little town north of Richmond, Virginia to visit my cousin Betsy for a week (the same special cousin who lets me stay at her house in Sarasota).  I visited her last fall for a few days, but we both decided it wasn’t long enough!  She has a lovely home and sheep farm and I just feel so comfortable there.  If I want to, I can visit the fabulous Library of Virginia in Richmond to do some genealogy research.

Next, I’ll be going back to my former home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania for two weeks, spanning Memorial Day weekend.  I have some annual doctor appointments scheduled, and will hopefully spend time with people who I miss very much, including my wonderful friends at the Bucks County Genealogical Society, and my former workplace.   And, I’ll do an RV clean-out, dropping some things off at storage and picking other things up.

When I leave Bucks County at the beginning of June, I’ll head out to the Pittsburgh area, where I’ll stay for a month, through the 4th of July weekend.   On the way there, I’ll stop at the home of my second cousin, Melody, for a few days – that’s a whole  ‘nother  exciting story which I’ll share when I get there!  Melody will join me in the Pittsburgh area, where we’ll do research together, visit the family cemetery, and spend some time at her mother’s house in Belle Vernon, going through photos and boxes of family memorabilia (Yay!! I can hardly contain my excitement!!).

Last fall, I ordered a stone for the grave of my parents and my two brothers, and it’ll be installed this spring.  So the trip to the cemetery will be especially meaningful for me.

At the end of June, just before leaving Pittsburgh, I’ll attend a week-long class at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (“GRIP”), held on the campus of LaRoche College.   I registered for a course called “Mastering Genealogical Documentation”, taught by Dr. Thomas Jones, one of the top genealogists in the country.  I attended GRIP in 2012, and intended to go each year since it was low cost, and easy to get to from my home in Bucks County.  But, it just never worked out – there was never enough vacation time, especially since I used every day of accumulated time off to take care of my brother in 2013.  So, I’m extremely happy to be finally attending GRIP again!

I’ll post more details about my summer plans when the time gets closer, but generally my path will go through upstate New York and western Vermont, looping back to Pittsburgh for another conference at the end of August, and then I’ll head west after Labor Day.

I’m so excited about every single stop this spring.  At the risk of sounding extremely trite, the truth is that Willie Nelson’s song keeps invading my mind:  I just can’t wait to get back on the road again!!

End of the Road for 2016

It’s the beginning of December, and time for another change in my life! Last Thursday, I put my RV into storage in Sarasota, Florida, and I’m renting my cousin’s Siesta Key house for the winter.

The past few months have flown by and have truly been a time of transition. Here’s where I’ve been:

Fall 2016 RV Route
Fall 2016 RV Route

I’ve driven about 2,650 miles since leaving  New Jersey on September 20th, and spent $750 in gas.  Campground fees averaged $1,000 per month, even with some “free” time in there for visits with friends and family.  I’ve learned that it’s less expensive, both in gas and campground fees, to stay put in one place for a month at a time.  The per night monthly rate at a campground is often half the daily rate.  And why not?  I’m certainly in no hurry!

On the genealogy front, I’ve barely scratched the surface of the work I need to do.  At the beginning, I thought that a week of genealogy research in one place would be oodles of time. After all, a week was the length of a normal vacation from work.  As it turns out, a week is no time at all. Another reason to stay put in one place for a month!

I found that after a week of research in Washington County, Pennsylvania, a week in Cattaraugus County, New York, and a week in Cortland County, New York, all back to back, and then a couple of weeks in Walton County, Georgia, I have accumulated masses of papers and digital photos which have not been processed.

My pile of papers is similar to this!
My pile of papers is similar to this!

All the papers and photos need to be uploaded or scanned, cataloged, abstracted, and/or transcribed.  Someone once told me that she doesn’t do any more research until she’s processed what she has.  Smart.  Clearly, I didn’t have time to process the first batch of research, when all of a sudden it was time for the next.  Lesson learned!

Obviously there were many lessons learned about RVing, especially since when I started, I hadn’t ever driven one, or towed a car, either.  When I look at the rig, I think it’s amazing that I am actually comfortable behind the wheel.  What a ride!

I remember reading a blog which was recommending that a single person NOT try to hitch a car up to an RV alone.  If anyone reading this is considering towing a car,  my advice is that it’s a necessity to have a vehicle to drive that’s separate from the RV, and a single person can hook it up in a snap.  It’s a non-issue.

Hooking up the Cooper
Hooking up the Cooper

I was also told that managing the awning is a two person job; I’ve mastered that task on my own as well.  It’s been quite a learning experience finding that all these new things are completely do-able!

It was sad to say goodbye to the RV for the winter – I’ll miss it!  It has been my little home, and I’ve grown to love it.  I’ll write more about my winter schedule soon, but for now I’ll just say that I’m planning to get back on the road again in early April.  Meanwhile, I’m going to enjoy having a full kitchen, reliable internet, a bathtub, and a laundry which doesn’t require quarters!

Domicile

As a full-time RVer, I love the feeling of freedom that I have, not being tied to one place.  Like a turtle, I take my home with me.    RV supply stores have a sign you can buy which says “Home Is Where You Park It”, and that’s exactly how I feel!

home-is-where-you-park-it

Still, I have to be a resident somewhere in order to have a driver’s license, register to vote, register my vehicles, pay taxes, and so on.  I’ve been a resident of Pennsylvania for twenty years, but it doesn’t make sense to retain my residence there now.  Since I have a choice, I want to find a state which has no state income tax or inheritance tax, and one which I could conveniently visit to take care of business (for example, Alaska would NOT be convenient!).

Other considerations include whether or not the state requires a vehicle inspection (which would mean an annual trip to the state of domicile), and remote/online flexibility for renewals, absentee ballots, and so forth.

After doing some research, I found that the three states which are the most “full-time RV’er friendly” are South Dakota, Texas, and Florida.  For me, it made the most sense to choose Florida, since I have ties in the state and it’s possible that I might buy a house there eventually.  So, when I was considering which mail forwarding service to use, I chose one in Green Cove Springs, Florida.

Over the past three months, I’ve been in domicile limbo.  My mailing address is Florida, but my driver’s license is in Pennsylvania.  This created complications in all sorts of ways, so I was very happy and relieved to finally arrive in Florida last week, and become a Florida resident!

6767979825_bc3ca443bf_n

I was absolutely amazed that the whole process took about an hour and a half.  Interestingly, the first action was to go to the Clay County Courthouse and file a domicile intention form, which is actually recorded and becomes public information.  I definitely thought about future genealogists tracking down this document!

I wish I could post a photograph of my driver’s license, because it’s very unique – my address is the license plate number of my motorhome!  Now THAT’s an RV-friendly state!!

South for the Winter

My first cousin lives near Richmond, Virginia, which is conveniently located along I-95 and a perfect stop on the trip south.  So I left my BFF in Suffolk County, Long Island at 4am on the 27th, headed to Jackson, New Jersey in the Mini Cooper to pick up the RV from the shop, hooked up the car, and drove to Richmond.  It took me about 11 hours from start to finish.  I knew that the Baltimore Tunnel doesn’t allow propane through it, so I had to plan a detour around that.  Otherwise, there were no issues, but I was really surprised that the tolls between New Jersey and Virginia for the rig totaled $54.45.  Ouch!

I just loved the few days I spent with my cousin.  Betsy and her husband have a lovely home and sheep farm.  Among many other subjects, we chatted about our mothers, who were very close sisters.  I found it very comforting to be with family and talk about family.

We spent a terrific day in Williamsburg and Jamestown, including lunch at a colonial tavern.  It was fascinating to see the authentic homes and shops in Williamsburg, and the ongoing archaeological dig in Jamestown.

Scene in Williamsburg, Virginia
Scene in Williamsburg, Virginia
Outline of first church in Jamestown
Outline of first church in Jamestown

Archaeologist William Kelso discovered the location of the Jamestown Fort in 1994, and the dig is ongoing.  Mr. Kelso was actually present at the site when we were there!  And there’s a fascinating museum filled with artifacts found there over the last 22 years. If you’ve never been – I highly recommend it.

Leaving Betsy’s on Sunday the 30th, I had another long driving day.  I like to leave really early in the morning so I can get a few hours of driving in before everyone else is on the road.  So I left Virginia at 4 am, and arrived in Monroe, Georgia at 3 pm, much earlier than planned.  550 miles in 11 hours is very good time for an RV towing a car!  I found that I was comfortable going at least the speed limit (which was often 70 mph), and was even passing slower vehicles.

About halfway through the day, I had my first road crisis.  I heard a big thud against the truck, and then a tinkle – the right side mirror had shattered.  I pulled over to have a look, but could see nothing that might have caused it to break.  It seemed almost as though a rock had hit it.  That mirror is extremely critical when driving the rig, and I debated whether to stop somewhere to have it fixed.  But I limped along, hugging the edge of the road to minimize merges to the right, and I made it to Georgia with no other incidents.

The plan was for Eric and I to meet up at the Roberts Family Cemetery, where we intended to boondock for a few days while we cleaned up the cemetery.  But when I got there, I found the entrance locked:

Locked Entrance to the Roberts Family Cemetery, Monroe, Georgia
Locked Entrance to the Roberts Family Cemetery, Monroe, Georgia

After a quick phone conversation with Eric, we decided to meet at the campground where we had intended to go after boondocking.  Thankfully, the campground had space to take us early, and we settled in for the night.

View from my campsite near Monroe, Georgia
View from my campsite near Monroe, Georgia

After being away from the RV (aka “home”) for about 10 days, I really missed it!  It felt good to be camping again, and also felt good to be back with Eric, my RV buddy.  And, it’ll be relaxing to be in one place for two and a half weeks.

It’s very exciting to be in a place where Eric’s family has lived for 200 years!  Eric has fond memories of the town of Monroe, where he was born, and I can’t wait to hit the courthouse and bury myself in the records there.  But our first mission is to visit the cemetery, which is in the middle of private property formerly owned by the Roberts family for over one hundred years, and lost in the Great Depression.  Next post will be all about the cemetery!

Back in Bucks

I spent six terrific days back in Bucks County last week.  Eric was at the same campground so we were together for a couple of days before he left for South Carolina.

Beaver Valley Campground, Ottsville, Bucks County, Pennsylvania
Beaver Valley Campground, Ottsville, Bucks County, Pennsylvania

The weather was GORGEOUS (sunny and in the 70’s and 80’s), and so was the campground.  It felt good to be back in familiar territory!

One of my projects while in Bucks County was to re-think all the stuff I’m carrying in the RV, now that I have the perspective of traveling in it for a few weeks.  So, I filled the Cooper with a pile of stuff which I took back to storage: a tent, an extra sleeping bag, a duffel bag full of clothes, an entire plastic tub full of small things.  It’s amazing how little you really need to live.  My RV has plenty of storage, and I’m using only maybe 60% of it.

As a counter-balance, I also needed to pick up some stuff from storage.  I’m going to Seattle for Christmas, so I needed to retrieve my winter coat and other cold weather gear.  And, I needed to make sure I had all my important files for taxes.

I also had to make sure I have all the genealogy files I need for my upcoming research.   I’m trying to get everything scanned so I don’t have to drag around heavy paper files, but that’s a long term project.  Since I’m going to Georgia next, I need to have with me all the files on Eric’s side of the family.  And since I haven’t finished documenting all of my research on the families in the places I’ve recently visited, I still need all those paper files as well.

I have a good scanner with me in the RV, so I’ll work on scanning everything over the next few months, and then I can leave the paper files in storage the next time I’m here – probably in the spring.

So, in balance, I’m not sure whether I’m coming out of this lighter, or heavier!

In addition to taking care of storage, I got my flu shot, visited my friends Denise and Cindy, and attended a Board meeting of the Bucks County Genealogical Society.  A great visit!

Last week, I dropped the RV off at a repair shop in Jackson, New Jersey, and drove the Cooper to my friend Carol’s house on Long Island.  Carol and I drove up to Pepperell, Massachusetts to visit our friend Debbie for the weekend, and I’m now getting ready for the drive south to Georgia, stopping at my cousin’s house along the way.  It’s starting to get cold here –time to go!!

I’m excited to see the RV with its new roof and awning, and I’m looking forward to being “home”.  I’ve learned that home is wherever the RV is, and I miss it!