A Week of Firsts!

16 days into the trip and we’ve already been to Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland. Mark created this video of our visits to:

  • Colt State Park, Green Animals Topiary, and Newport Cliff Walk (Rhode Island)
  • Gillette Castle and Devil’s Hopyard (Connecticut)
  • Nockamixon State Park (Pennsylvania)

Since our last post, we’ve had a series of “firsts” that we’d like to share.

After our visit to Gillette Castle in CT, we had a quick overnight in NJ. We stayed at Donaldson’s Farm in Hackettstown through our Harvest Hosts membership. It was a peaceful place to sleep that night, along the edge of their corn fields. The next morning we enjoyed shopping at the farm stand before heading off again. We stocked up on fresh fruits and veggies, plus some baked goods.

Our stay at Donaldson’s was our first boondocking experience (also referred to as dry camping) which means we were not hooked up to any services. No water, sewer or electric. We learned a little more about balancing our battery/solar power that night. We knew we would need to keep our fridge running, use some lights, and turn on the water pump for flushing or using the sinks. We relied on our charged battery and some additional solar power, and we stored some fresh water in the tank before leaving our previous location. We had also followed the weather reports and noticed it would stay in the low 50’s overnight, so we wouldn’t need the heater. The next morning, the RV was nicely warmed by the sun. Everything went well, and we are happy to have that successful experience under our belts! We like the Harvest Hosts concept and now we’ll feel more confident using it in the future.

After New Jersey, we booked a few nights at a campground in PA, and since it was during the week, the place was super quiet. We had the whole back area of the campground to ourselves. It was there that we had our first campfire of the trip. With 2 large logs and only a small amount of kindling, it was a challenge to get the logs to catch. Mark fanned the flames for a long time, but those darn stubborn logs wouldn’t fully catch, no matter how hard he tried, so he eventually got out his battery powered air pump to create a blast furnace effect, which finally did the trick. That was a funny sight! While sitting around the campfire, we popped open a bottle of champagne to celebrate our first full week on the road. Cheers to new adventures!

The next day, we visited Nockamixon State Park where we had another opportunity to enjoy our bikes. The park is beautiful with wide, paved trails for walking or biking, interesting bird life, and great water views all around. However, the highlight of our time in PA was our visit to Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square. Fortunately, our schedule is flexible, so when we saw clouds predicted for Friday, we changed our plans and went to Longwood on Thursday instead. We had a perfect sunny day for exploring the extensive grounds. There are many different garden areas, a conservatory, several fountain gardens, an outdoor theater, a few large tree houses, a children’s area and an old homestead. We took a guided tour of the current exhibition, Blooms and Bamboo, and later in the day, we took a tour of the Homestead, which focused more on the history of Longwood. A highlight for visitors, are the musical fountain shows offered several times each day, especially the illuminated evening shows. For anyone visiting the PA area, Longwood is a great day trip.

Late Thursday evening, we rolled into the Delaware Seashore State Park. Our site was on the end of a row, overlooking the Indian River Inlet. In fact, we were right at the point where the river meets the sea, which makes for very interesting water patterns. It was cool to watch as the river and the sea struggled together.

We could watch the river from our dinette but a five minute walk led to the surfers in the sea.

As you might imagine, campgrounds and campsites vary quite a lot, and we are continuing to figure all of that out. Our Delaware site was very flat, which is a nice feature in a campsite. At our site in PA we had to gather large, flat rocks to put under our tires to level the RV, and that was not the first time! After that, we went shopping and bought our first set of leveling blocks. Super handy!

Friday was a bit gray, and a little chilly, so we decided to spend time on some chores. We tidied up the RV, which takes about 15 minutes from top to bottom! Lori likes this a lot. Then we drove off to a grocery store and our first trip to a laundromat. It was handy moving the groceries from the cart and straight into the RV fridge/cabinets. So convenient – as was sitting in the RV having our lunch while the clothes were in the washing machines. When Lori returned to move the clothes over, she got into a conversation with our “dryer neighbor” – a retired teacher. They chatted until all their clothes were dried and folded. Big surprise! :-)

On Saturday, we drove an hour over to MD and spent the day at Assateague Island National Seashore, our first National Park. Lori had wanted to visit this area since our son, Tyler, camped here a few years ago. It was also the perfect opportunity to pick up a National Parks Pass. We’re all set now for entry into the rest of the National Parks on our list. Assateague Island is known for their wild horse population. These beautiful animals roam the beaches and marsh areas freely, untamed, and truly wild. It’s quite a sight, but visitors must also be cautious. There are warnings everywhere to keep a safe distance from any horse you encounter. Forty feet is the recommended distance. If they feel threatened, they will bite. If they get spooked, they sometimes run towards the road and get hit by cars. While riding our bikes, we came upon several wild horses grazing along our path. We watched them for a bit and then gently biked passed. The island is home to a variety of other wildlife – such as deer, rabbits, raccoons, turtles, various sea creatures and a huge selection of birds, including bald eagles. We saw a beautiful grand egret along one of the marsh trails.

We’re currently in Maryland at Little Bennett Regional Park. After a brief visit with a friend in the Baltimore area, this was a convenient stop along the way to our next destination – Shenandoah National Park. We’ve got a few sunny days ahead, but the nights look rather chilly, just above freezing overnight, brrrr. Perhaps we started south too late! We haven’t been planning more than a few days ahead though, so we could always adjust the course toward warmth if we decide to skip the Blue Ridge Mountains. But that would be a shame. We’d miss the place John Denver told us is “almost heaven”. C’mon, sing it!

Almost heaven, West Virginia,
Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River..

– John Denver et. al.

There are also some neat caverns near Shenandoah park, and Lori has never seen giant stalactite/stalagmite formations (do you remember which is which?). We need to remedy that. Fortunately there are many spectacular caves along our route, so if not here, we’ll get to one eventually.

Something we’ve noticed about our living patterns since starting this adventure – they haven’t changed much! We still stay up too late most nights and generally sleep in most mornings. Today was super lazy, and we didn’t get out of bed until 10. Somehow, we thought this might be different in the RV. Turns out, we’re still not morning people, no matter where we live. And we’re okay with that.

Until next time…

9 thoughts on “A Week of Firsts!

  1. Thanks for the update. It sounds like you’re adjusting and learning as you go, and you’ll be pros in no time. Also A:stalactites hang from the ceiling ;-)

  2. Hi! Love reading updates. School is going great. This year we have kids adopting a tree near their homes to observe (like we do with plants/and the tree behind the school). Will call you soon.
    Love you! Rox

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