Sunday, December 27, 2020

A Very Merry Christmas!

Our son James, daughter-in-law Morgen and grandson Kolya
 joined us for lunch and time in the playground at our RV Park.
Our dinette sat 5 for lunch - big surprise.
What a treat to spend the holidays with our son and our daughter-in-law's family. To do this we all made a commitment to quarantine and then were tested. It was a wonderful week and we are so grateful for it. It has been cold though, below freezing at night. But our trailer stays warm with the combination of propane and a little electric heater.
We'll be off driving south again on Monday, headed for long time friends Walt & Honoree Cooper, formerly of S/V Will O' the Wisp home in Cameron, N.C. We'll stay there until 1/2/2021, celebrating the much longed for New Year. May it bring a better year for all of us. Happy New Year everyone!

Kolya loved the play structure

He is a happy kid as you can see with red
hair like his father and our youngest son.

Everyone had dinner together on Christmas
Eve at Morgen's sister Claire's home near
theirs in Capitol Hill.

And now a view the other direction at the adult's
table. The family tradition is cheese fondue with
fruit salad for dinner.

And for dessert, a Pavlova made by Claire's 
husband Bill's parents.


Morgen's father Karl gave out the presents. 
Stockings were before breakfast and the rest of the
gifts afterward. We stayed the night at Kris & 
Karl's home in Gaithersburg, MD with James,
Morgen & Kolya. Otherwise, we slept in our
Morgen's mother Kris and Kolya - I should have
asked about the pajama protocol. Scott and I were
the only ones other than Claire & Bill's
daughters to get "dressed". 
That's Bill & Claire on the left with their youngest
daughter Nora, James & Kolya
Their oldest daughter Grace inspecting the pile
of gifts - lots more out of view!
Morgen & Kolya with a new puzzle
Bill and Nora
Heather with a present from Sean. He gave me
a new camera - a modern day "Poloroid" to 
document our trip with this display box to show
off the photos. 
The table set for Christmas dinner.
Scott at our dinette on Saturday for
our special breakfast with the beautiful vanocka,
Czech Christmas bread Karl made and 
gave to us.

Here's a close-up! Yum!

Monday, December 21, 2020

Change of Weather Already - Washington DC

 It is rather miraculous that we left our home in Vermont yesterday morning in freezing temperatures and tons of snow and the next day it's 47 degrees with bright sunshine and green grass. I can't believe we actually thought we could take off Saturday afternoon. We barely got started at 9:40 AM on Sunday. There was so much more to do and it took longer than we thought. And we forgot several rather important things despite pages of checklists: Scott's dop kit and sneakers and my plan to bring our favorite cereal/soup bowls. And the tea kettle (from Tall Timbers and packed away for ages) leaks! So we managed to order everything but the sneakers from Target for pick up this afternoon. 

It was an exhausting day yesterday. We had always planned to arrive at our first RV park in daylight as this is all new to us. But it was pitch black when we entered and there were very few lights. We got into a tight corner by mistake trying to find our site and it took a while before we were able to get through. Luckily, a nice resident helped us find our site. There were still pockets of snow there and lots of mud. Poor Scott had a hard time trying to set up the electricity (the post at our site was dead, but he managed to connect to an adjoining empty place).  And we needed water as we couldn't fill it up in Vermont - everything was frozen. We didn't get settled inside until 7 PM. BOY did that stiff drink (gin & tonic for Scott, bourbon for me) taste good. And the Cajan Dirty Rice and Butternut Squash hit the spot. After dinner and checking our emails, we watched some of the Sound of Music on our (live) TV just long enough to make it to bedtime - 9 PM.

This morning was so relaxing. Good coffee and a walk around the Bar Harbor RV Park (lots of RVs, a few cabins, and a lovely spot on the river). But it was cold, gray, and muddy so we packed up and headed further south to Cherry Hill RV Park in College Park, MD. What a change! The sun came out and this large park is spacious, spotless, and free from snow. We're about 1/2 an hour out of Washington, where we are headed next to see our son James, daughter-in-law Morgen and 2-year-old grandson Kolya. We're spending the day with them today but coming back here after dinner. Tomorrow they'll come here for lunch. There is a nice children's playground for Kolya. Then we'll return to their home for dinner. On Wednesday we're all going to Morgen's parents for Christmas Eve and Day. To prepare for this we've all been quarantining and had COVID tests (all negative). 

This is our very nice spot at our current Cherry
Hill RV Park in College Park, MD

A view of the waterfront at last night's Bar Harbor
RV Park in Abington, MD

And this is our site there, we're on the right

This is Bar Harbor management photo of their
site on the river in nice weather!

Kolya a few days ago with his first snow!

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Winter Storm Gail Hits Us Hard

 We are buried in snow here at The Hundred Acre Wood! It is at least 2 feet right now and still snowing. Scott is beginning the shoveling process as it's going to take a long time to get down to our garage. Luckily we did not plan to leave until at least Saturday so we and the rest of the Northeast have time to recover. It has been a long time since we've seen this much snow! Here's some photos and I'll send some more later,., (update at 2:30 PM - 3 feet of snow)

I waded in from our covered front door so you
could see the depth

That's our truck and trailer buried. It's going to
be a job shoveling it out, especially after the 
snow plow finishes our driveway.

I had quite a job walking in this much snow so
I could take a photo looking back at the house. 
We'll have to break out our snowshoes later!

Another view down towards the garage.

Looking along the deck from the front door.

The view out our office - snowed in!
Scott makes a start on the shoveling - it's going
to be awhile before we finish that!
This is the entrance to the stairs going down to
the travel trailer. I guess we'll be going the 
long way around!

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Watching the Weather

 Winter storm Gail is sweeping towards the Northeast starting this Wednesday. We've been watching the weather forecasts carefully to see how it will impact our trip. We rescheduled our COVID 19 tests from Thursday to Wednesday thinking we might get snowed in for a day here. The most recent forecasts show the greatest impact around New York City up to Boston. Our route south takes us south through Bennington over to Albany, down the New York Thruway to the Garden State Parkway and the NJ Turnpike. Our plans are to leave on Saturday so we can get 2 or 3 hours along our route towards Maryland. We would just stay overnight in a Walmart or CamperWorld parking lot south of Albany. On Sunday then we'd have only 4 or 5 hours left for the trip. Hopefully, by Saturday the roads will be good. We could leave on Sunday but that would mean a full 7 plus hour day. 

Our first RV park reservations are near my sister's on the Maryland shore - Bar Harbor RV Park and Marina for two nights, December 20 and 21. Then we'll head south to be near our son James, daughter-in-law Morgen and our 2-year-old grandson Kolya in Washington DC. We have reservations at Cherry Hill Park RV Park in College Park, MD for 5 nights. All of us that will be together on Christmas are being tested and quarantining so we can be inside together. 

Right now the house is a mess with Xmas wrappings and last-minute boxes being mailed. Then there are big plastic containers of food that will go into the truck cab. An inventory of their contents is taped on the top of each. Containers of tools and summer clothes are already packed and stowed away. We could go without a trip to the supermarket for weeks, longer if we didn't want fresh veggies. 
Wish us luck! We'll update you as the situation becomes clearer.

Monday, November 30, 2020

On The Road Again - Land not Sea

 It's been a long time since I've posted, but that's about to change. Scott and I are off on a new adventure. Yes, we know it's in the middle of a pandemic. That's why we aren't returning back to Scott Free this season. Guatemala is having an even worse time of it than we are. They are not only fighting COVID 19 but two destructive hurricanes. The Rio Dulce has recently logged the highest level ever recorded, Constant drenching rain has flooded communities and washed away highways and bridges. Our good friends Tamara and Scott have remained at Tortugal Marina and have kept us up to date with the news and photos. We have a weekly Zoom meeting with Tortugal cruisers (and a few others) checking in from Australia, Canada, the US, United Kingdom, and Germany. Although the docks and some of the buildings at the Marina are underwater, they are taking good care of our boats and Scott Free is safe there until next year.

A number of our friends did not make it back into Guatemala when the virus hit us all and closed borders. They had to leave their boats in Belize and it's been a frightening summer for them with the hurricanes battering Central America and one that went right over Belize. One couple are now in Placencia readying two boats to bring back to the Rio Dulce. Several others have tickets to Belize in December to do the same. On 12/31 all boats there that haven't left will be assessed a temporary permit and charged a percentage of their worth. We feel very lucky that we got back to Guatemala in time last March!

But we did not want to spend the winter in Vermont so - Plan B. Land cruising. After careful research we decided on a travel trailer. A search through RV sales lots around Vermont helped us winnow down the important elements we needed - fiberglass exterior, a separate bathroom & shower, a center queen bed, and a dinette that seats 4. The smallest size we could find that had all items was 24 feet and we found the perfect one right here in Rutland. It's a 2019 Kodiak Ultralite 201 QB - we're the first owners. And the needed tow vehicle was in the same lot - a 2014 RAM extended cab 4 wheel drive black truck. The cost - $19,000 each. 

We leave on December 21 and head to Washington DC for Xmas with our son James and his family. Due to the pandemic, we'll be staying in our RV and managing within the current restrictions for socializing. We have been very careful and followed all of Vermont's COVID 19 recommendations - we are the lowest state in the country for infections and deaths. We plan to continue this was across the country and back again over the next 5 months. 

So come along! I'll be posting regularly from now on...

RAM Marina is underwater - you can't even see
the fuel dock and the restaurant/store is flooded.

Scott and Daphne (owner of Tortugal)

The docks are underwater up to the top of the pilings. Normally the restaurant is way above the water.
It isn't possible to walk out to the road anymore.

One of the cabins, now an island.

Our new travel trailer and truck

Another view in an early snow storm.

Our grandson Daniel is living with us this fall
while he attends both Columbia University and
Edinburgh University Medical School - both
virtually. He's decided to attend the later in 
person next semester. 

We had a wonderful time with him - it has been
a highlight of this year. He loves cooking with

Another highlight of the fall was Joe Biden's election as President. We celebrated with champagne
and friends (masked, outdoors but not socially distanced as you can see - tut tut)

Thursday, July 09, 2020

Enjoying Vermont

Well, if you can't travel to exotic places, you can enjoy your own state. And Vermont is a beautiful one. After months of not straying more than 5 miles away from home, we're starting to explore our local area. And after months of eating my own cooking, we're beginning to eat out, and literally as we are not ready to dine inside.
This last week was a busy one. We picked a piled-up flat of strawberries over at Breezy Hill Berry Farm in Castleton. Happily, it was overcast with a slight drizzle - much better than the sun beating down. They were just going by so lots of overripe ones but we managed to find a good selection. But by the time we got home, many were looking soft. The answer came quickly - strawberry jam! We pulled out our canning equipment and got to work. After a big pot of mashed strawberries were bubbling away on the stove, we sliced up and froze the rest (more than a few went into our mouths).
Our next adventure came on the Fourth of July itself. It was a gorgeous morning and promised to be a hot one. So we left early for the Taconic Ramble State Park, also in Castleton and close to the Hubbardton Battle Site (the only Revolutionary battle fought entirely in what would become Vermont). The Taconic Ramble State park was donated to our state by Carson "Kit" Davidson, documentary filmmaker and author and his wife Mickie, a children's book writer. He invested his heart and soul into the land for over 46 years, blazing trails, preserving wildflower meadows, and building a Japanese garden. He encouraged conservation, public access, and community involvement by opening his land to any who wished to enjoy it. At his death in 2016, the 204 acres became Vermont's newest State Park.
We enjoyed the Japanese Garden and expanse of wildflower meadows first and then climbed to the top of Mt. Zion for expansive views. The trail up from the rock garden had switchbacks but the trail down, clearly marked "difficult" went straight down through the cliffs. It was rather fun for us but not for anyone that feared heights. The trails were all well marked and easy to follow. A trail map is located in the parking lot.
After months of not eating anything but my cooking (not that it's bad!), we are now enjoying eating out. Recently we've been to Tozier's for fried seafood, Sugar & Spice for breakfast, and the Rustic Rooster for lunch. All were outside with well-spaced tables and the staff all wore masks.

Part of the assembly line

We added only lemon juice and sugar to
the mixture

Scott sterilizes the canning jars and lids
While we're in the kitchen, let me introduce
our new Vermont Castings stove, just
installed. Our old one had literally fallen
apart and we wanted to take advantage of
all the rebates available. 
At the Taconic Ramble State Park,
there are lots of chairs scattered around where you can
contemplate the view.
The wildflower meadows are extensive and additional trails that we didn't have time to explore wait for us at another time.
We skipped the ladder just visible on the left and took the
Garden trail more to the right. That led to the Cave trail,
Spring trail, and then the Jan trail to the top of Mt. Zion.
It took a lot of work to design and build this beautiful
combination of rock and water features. 
There is a different view every time you turn your head.
Another time I'd like to just sit awhile and take it quietly in.
We only saw one other group during our stay and that was
briefly on top of the mountain.
You can see the cliffs here in the background.
There is a long ridge on top of Mt. Zion with several views and a well placed picnic table. Next time we'll bring lunch.
Lunch at the Rustic Rooster here in Cuttingsville. We've
been lucky with beautiful weather allowing us to eat
out - literally.