Showing Off My Home State…

Our first days of work complete, we were very excited to be welcoming some company!  My Mom, who drove down for the day (she’s staying with a friend while visiting from FL) and our dear friends, Steven & Linda!  You may recall, we spent 3 weeks with Steven & Linda traveling up to AK, and then more time when they visited Seward.  That was a glorious trip and we hadn’t seen them since they left the Kenai Penninsula in July 2016 – seems like a lifetime ago!

My Mom arrived about 11am.  Bill and I had already started preparing our yummy lunch of AK salmon and a sauté of root veggies Bill had been wanting to try.   Yummy! 


We enjoyed catching up with Mom while we ate outside and soaked in the spring sun!  I caught her up on some wedding plans and she brought us a bunch of mail that she carried up from FL.  Sadly, none of us got a pic!  Except the food one above!  

Steven & Linda pulled in around 2 pm, after a short travel day from Lewes, DE.  They had started their year back in TX, leaving there at the end of February, and have been making their way across and up the east coast.  They’ve included some awesome stops along the way, as well as some varied travel methods, utilizing the ferry system in OBX NC, Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnels in VA, and most recently the Lewes DE to Cape May NJ ferry.  You can check out their blog – and Stevens awesome photos here:  The Chouters.  

After a quick set-up, I was happy to have them meet Mom.  I know my Mom also likes meeting our friends.  As a Mom of adult children now – I always like meeting my kids friends.   

Mom took off about 3:30pm after a quick taste of a ginger/lime/tonic water drink Bill made and then Happy Hour officially began!  I know – it was early, but we don’t get crazy with a lot of drinking.  It’s more a state of mind.  

Bill and I had planned baby back ribs, Mac & Cheese and salad for dinner, but somehow the salad got forgotten about!  We weren’t lacking for food – no excuse to come away from dinner hungry!  Check this out:

I used my Goddaughter, Jessilynn’s, spice rub (rubbed them the night before), then cooked them in the Instant Pot before finishing them on the grill with Sweet Baby Rays – falling off the bone delish!


We chatted into the evening and firmed up our plans for the next day.  

10am we were loaded into the CRV and headed north!  The weather could have been a bit more cooperative, there were lots of heavy clouds, but we were determined to make the best of it!  

We got off the Garden State Parkway at exit 105 and turned east toward Long Branch on Rt 36.  We turned north again, onto Rt 35, when the ocean was in front of us.  We passed through shore towns along the way with the Atlantic on our right.  Bill and I love that drive, and each scene that we passed invoked happy memories, notably Long Branch pier, where I was scared witless at the Haunted Mansion, and McCloons Rum Runner restaurant, where we celebrated many occasions.   We took turnes telling stories of our growing up NJ style – hopefully not boring Steven & Linda too badly with our reminiscing.  

The first stop of the day was Twin Lights Lighthouse, with its unique double lighthouse.  The museum was open, as was one of the towers, which we easily climbed.  Twin Lights were built atop the bluff, and there are sweeping views of the Atlantic, the mouth of the Raritan Bay, and beyond.  While we could see some of it through the cloudiness, on a clear day, Manhattan, including the new Freedom Tower, and even Coney Island are visible.  We could see the Tappan Zee Bridge, but it was somewhat hidden in the clouds.  

When we were in Homer AK, the Homer Spit kind of reminded me of Sandy Hook, without the mountains of course!



Next stop was my fav lighthouse, Sandy Hook.  We opted not to climb it – even before we realized it wasn’t open to climb anyway.   We drove around Fort Hancock, imaging what it might have been like to live out on the “hook” back in the day.  The views of Highlands and Twin Lightes are amazing from out on the end.  


After a quick drive by of Bill and I’s first house and historic Keansburg boardwalk, Linda wanted to stop in Union Beach to see her Aunts former home.  Linda spent time each summer there for years and wanted to see if the house survived Super Storm Sandy and if so get a pic.  Well – the house looked just as she remembered; pics were taken and forwarded to her Mom.  

This was our first house! It was blue when we lived there but I do like the red!

Linda got back in the car after getting the house pics and we were all starving – so next stop was another fav – Keyport Fishery.   We parked the car and crossed Front Street to the take-out only restaurant.  The Keyport Fishery has been in business since 1936, before that it was known as Wilsons; many older locals still call it that. They still take and keep track of orders the old fashioned way – writing orders on the paper bags they will go into when ready.  They still take your initials to call out so you can grab your yummy soups, sandwiches and platters before heading back to your car.  Unless you are heading home, most locals will move their car closer to the bulkhead to sit by the water and eat their meal, always saving some of the generous portion of French fries for the spoiled sea gulls.   

Linda opted for a platter with shrimp and flounder


Interestingly, Linda actually got married in NJ (not to Steven – but to her first husband) – AND – in the same exact church as Bill and I! Of all the places in the world to get married! AND – also by the same minister, Rev Riley.  After the sea gulls got the last of the fries, we back-tracked a little to go see St Johns United Methodist Church.   We parked and got out to get a pic.  I still can hardly believe the coincidence!  


It was now time to start heading back south.   The day before, when discussing potential routes, Bill had come up with the idea of stopping at another local landmark – Delicious Orchards.  Apple Cider Donuts anyone?  Another quick drive by – of the old Bell Labs water tower this time – and we took back roads through Holmdel all the way to Scobeyville.  Most of you are probably asking “Scobeyville? – where is that?”  Even NJ natives might be thinking I’m making that up – but no!  It’s an actual small town, right next to Colts Neck.  Another drive-by, this time at the place where Bill began his career in beverage manufacturing, Laird and Company.  I worked there first, in the office, and told Bill about the job opening in the quality control lab.  That was way back in 1984!  WOW!  Going on 33 years ago!  


Laird and Company is “Americas oldest native distillery” per their own website.  It is still owned and operated by the Laird family, as it has been since 1780.  Their largest product is Lairds Applejack, which is a whiskey distilled from apples.  They also produce Apple Brandy.  The company survived prohibition by making apple cider, applesauce and other products; in 1933 Laird and Company received a special Federal grant to produce applejack for medicinal purposes.  During Bills 9 year tenure working for Lairds, along with their products, they also did contract bottling for Hiram Walker, bottling Kahlua, also Cruzan Rum, Smugglers Scotch, etc.  

Next up was another NJ fav – Delicious Orchards!  This used to be, again, back in the day, a small Mom & Pop kind of place, with apple picking, pumpkins, fresh picked local veggies and their homemade delish pies and BEST EVER Apple Cider Donuts.  The donuts come in sleeves of 6 and you always needed to buy at least 2 because there was a better than average chance one sleeve (yes – 6 donuts) wouldn’t make it home.  Delicious Orchards is now a HUGE place, still selling fresh local fruits and veggies, still have their fresh homemade pies and Apple Cider Donuts, among the other desserts, but now they also have a fresh butcher area, fresh seafood, fresh deli, homemade preserves and dairy products.  (I think that’s it!). We headed inside to be awed by the selection!  

Looking toward the butcher and seafood sections

Check out the tiny personal size pie!

Dairy area

Pies and other desserts

The world famous Delicious Orchards Apple Cider Donuts! They come plain, powdered sugar and cinnamon sugar


We all started out with the idea that we would get some donuts, however, what we left with was much more, little pies, cannoli, brownies, jams, salad fixings, and more.  It’s a yummy but dangerous place!

I’m not exactly sure what Steven got, but it was cream filled and yummy!

Linda savoring her cinnamon sugar donut

 

It was now time to continue south toward home, before serious food coma set in!  

Stay tuned – next up – boardwalk tours!  

First Week – Lots to Learn!

I realized after posting last time that I didn’t include any pics of the boardwalk or ocean!  How did that happen?  I’ll include a few here!  Sorry about that!





There is so much to learn when starting a new job!  These are our first “traditional” campground type jobs – where the husband works outside doing the “manly” things, like landscaping, maintenance, taking care of the pool, doing hayrides, etc.  and the wife is inside doing reservations, answering the phone, checking people in/out, checking out purchases at the campstore.  I know those roles sound sexist, but they suit us just fine.  

Country Oaks Campground is fairly small, relatively speaking compared to other behemoth 500+ sites Jersey Shore campgrounds, with 140 sites and 2 cabins.  All but 40 of those sites are seasonal, where people park their rigs and come to enjoy during their vacations and weekends throughout the summer.  The other 40 sites are transient, 10 of those are pull-thrus.  I personally love the size, as it’s large enough to have plenty of activities for the family, but small enough that it feels like a place everyone gets to know everyone else and you can make lifelong friends.  

They have a really nice pool, complete with a snack bar and a separate small kiddie pool for little ones.  There is a horse shoe pit, game room with pool table, also volleyball and basketball courts.  They offer themed planned activities on weekends, complete with craft shed where the kids gather to make works of art, and dances for the whole family!  The adults get to win prizes during weekly bingo!  All this and about a half hour to the beach!  Because of that half hour to the beach, their prices are more reasonable, vs the parks that are only 10 minutes to the beach.  Down the Jersey Shore – that matters!  

So – what are we learning?  Good question!

I am inside the office – answering the phones, making reservations – except monthlies and seasonals – Lynn handles those.  Lynn gave me a big pile of guest reservations that were taken over the winter; I’ve been figuring out how much they owe for deposits for their stays (a lot of our guests come multiple weekends), then calling to accept those deposits over the phone.  Those deposits then have to be entered in the computer after running the credit cards.  They have a great little camp store, so I check out people making purchases.  I check people in when they arrive; some people leave a $10 (returnable) deposit for a gate card.  There is a gate to get in and out – the going out side goes up on its own when you pull up to it.  

One of the things I’ve been really enjoying is Lynn has been really awesome about explaining the “why’s” of how things are done.   It’s not complicated, but sometimes the reasons for things are not immediately apparent.  It helps a lot vs just being told “Do it this way” and you have no idea why.  I feel like I am learning a lot about running a CG, not just my specific responsibilities, and I am appreciative of that.  To me, it’s always good to expand your knowledge base.  

This past weekend was Easter and we had a lot of the seasonals here; the new seasonals we’re moving their rigs onto their new summer home site.  The week before there were some people here opening up their rigs for the first time this spring.  There was a lot of leaves being raked, pipes being unwinterized, windows being washed, etc.  

Country Oaks had some special things going on for the holiday.  I filled plastic eggs with quarters and candy for the Easter egg hunt.  The Activity Director, Katelyn, helped the kids make Easter Baskets; the Easter Bunny visited and filled them Saturday night.  

It was fun being an Easter Bunny helper!


Bill has been busy also.  He has been using the giant leaf vacuum to suck up all the leaves (and some rocks and dirt, etc) that guests raked out of their “yards”.  He has been using a splitter to split wood into firewood guests can purchase for $25 a cart load, which he delivers to a site after they pay for at the office.  He has learned how to drive the front loader tractor for the “hay ride” – which the kids seem to really enjoy!  


For dinner one night, we went to Mays Landing Diner.  I was wanting breakfast for dinner!  Scrambled eggs, crispy home fries with onions, pork roll and wheat toast is what I ordered!  It was good – not the best I’ve had but not bad!  This is not a 24 hour diner but I doubt we will need to be out getting food at 2am, so it’s all good!  There are other places we will be trying also.  

Our first week went off without a glitch!  Hope that’s a sign of how the rest of the summer will go!  

We Have Arrived: Our NJ Summer Home!

A quick breakfast, lots of hugs and “see you soon’s” we pointed the rig east on the PA Turnpike; our destination: Country Oaks Campground in Dorothy (Weymouth Township near Mays Landing), NJ.  Bill and I both feel so lucky at having secured this summer job in our desired location.  NJ is our home state – it’s where we were born, went to school and grew up.  We fell in love, married and started our family, here in the Garden State.  Bill’s brother still lives here, as does my brother and our longest held and dearest friends.  I don’t think it matters where else we go – this state, especially down the shore, will always be “home”.  

Signs of spring along the PA Turnpike


Our last residence here in NJ was in Toms River, in Ocean County.  We lived there for 8 years; both our children were born there, went to pre-school and our oldest started kindergarten.  We belonged to a United Methodist Church and had lots of friends, we still keep in touch with a few.  Our kids spent a lot of the summers at the beach, playing in the sand, jumping in the waves.  We took them to the boardwalks and let them ride the amusement rides.   I could go on and on, listing happy memories for hours.  

When we moved, in 1996, when Bill and I were 31 years old and our kids were 5 and 6, we packed them up and moved to KY.  Bill had accepted new position, which moved him quite a few rungs up the ladder career wise.  What a culture shock we (ok – mostly me!) experienced.  It wasn’t bad place to be, just different.   Took some getting used to.   Each of the 6 full summers we lived in KY, we traveled back to NJ with the kids to visit family and friends and get our beach fix.  This summer will be the longest we will be in NJ since 1996 – WOW – 21 years! – and we are happy to be here!

We’ve met the owners, Bob & Lynn, and they seem like great people!  I feel like they will be easy to work with and we will be enjoying our time here!  I’ve asked Lynn about blogging about our time here and I’m waiting for her answer before saying too much – I’ll let you know!  

In the meantime – I doubt she will have a problem with me showing some pics of the place!

Keep right when entering! Love that there’s a gate!

Check-in, camp store and community room

Playground for the little ones!

Laundry gets done here

Lots of trees!

Huge pool – but also a smaller kid pool too! Opens for Memorial Day weekend!

This is our temp site until some blue stone is added to our regular site – very nice pull-thru!

We spent some time Tuesday getting the lay of the land with Lynn.  She gave us more info on the CG and explained in more detail what we would be doing.   Sounds like we will get along just fine.  

Since we’ve arrived we have gotten some shopping done at the local ShopRite and also Sams Club. 

Once we were stocked up, the next priority was Ocean City!  We LOVE that town and boardwalk!  We enjoyed a slice of Manco & Manco (formerly Mac & Manco – Mac sold out) pizza!  BEST boardwalk pizza!  Also stopped for a kid size orange/vanilla twist at Kohrs Bros!  We took note that a lot of the boardwalk boards have been replaced since we were there last in August 2015.  

Our second Ocean City visit included getting our bikes exercised – they’ve been keeping the rack company since FL!  It’s nice to ride on the streets right now, as there aren’t many cars yet.  That will change as the days grow warmer!  

We also found ourselves in PA for the day helping Billy move into his new apartment. Thankfully the weather was cooperative, it made the 2 trips to get the bigger items much easier!  He will be getting the smaller stuff on his own.  Back in November, when he had placed 4 items at a local consignment shop, 2 dressers, a couch and a loveseat.  The loveseat hadn’t sold, and he needed to either allow them to donate it or come get it.  Now that he was going to have more room, we went over to pick it up – basically they stored it for FREE for 6 months – and had cleaned it!  How cool was that?  

TV fits perfect in the back

Dresser

TV table

Last item coming down

Buh-bye old apartment!

Everything is tied down securely!

Last thing – loveseat – going up!

Hello new home!


Some of you may be asking why didn’t we just bring that huge dually truck of ours?  That is a perfectly reasonable question, my son asked the same one!  The answer is we have a lot of stuff in the bed of that truck!  It would have taken a long time to empty it all out, Bill has all his roofing stuff back there – plus the hitch, tool box, firewood, extra fuel – all kinds of stuff!  We knew all the items we were moving would fit between Billy’s van and my car – and it did! Bill didn’t have to spend hours emptying and repacking the truck!  

Our regular site was ready and we moved in earlier today.  It’s a really nice site, we have a sidewalk and patio.  I swept and set up our “long visit” stuff.  I do believe we are going to be very happy here!  Our site goes all the way over to the Big Horn – HUGE!

Working on the Wedding! 

Since it is still so early in the Northeast camping season, meaning our preferred CG isn’t open yet, Michelle and Derek graciously offered to let us stay on their driveway for the 10 nights we will be here.  It is actually very convenient since we have so much wedding stuff to do!   

Bill got us parked with minimal damage to their grass – which was only damaged because it had rained for a few days and the ground was wet and squishy.   Had it been dry there wouldn’t have been any damage at all.  It wasn’t a big deal though, Bill smushed it back down into place with his foot.


The wedding is now 6 months away!  So much has been done but so much still to do!  It’s so exciting!  

First up was a tasting at the venue.  Bill and I, along with Michelle and Derek met up with Tracy (Dereks Mom) and Autumn (Dereks sister and Best Lady) for our 4pm appointment.   Having never done this before, I didn’t know what to expect.  Teresa (the owner and wedding planner) confirmed what we would be tasting, and it all sounded wonderful!  

We started with a cup of corn chowder – all guests will be having the same soup and this one is Dereks fav.  Good choice – it was amazing!  Next up was the spinach salad with bacon vinaigrette and goat cheese – very yummy!  

There were 6 different dinner entrees being served family style, so we each got 1/6 of each dish to try.  The goal was to eliminate 3 dishes and then be able to offer 3 options to guests.  

Oh!  And we also sampled 3 white and 3 red wines, from which one of each were chosen to be offered during dinner.   

All dishes were delicious and very much enjoyed.  To me, it would be perfect to have 2 or 3 bites of each meal on the day, but neither Michelle or Derek wanted a buffet, and honestly, I’m glad as I prefer a sit-down dinner at a wedding.  

The bride has chosen to have bison for her dinner, while the groom decided to have the duck.  I have to tell you – both were perfect! – but it will different options for the rest of us.  We have to choose between Filet Mignon, Chicken Cordon Bleu and Stuffed Portobello Mushroom – which is the vegetarian meal.  


That was fun!  

The following day was no less busy – my dress had come in a while back and I wanted to see it!  Back in November I had tried it on in navy, but it actual color is cranberry.   It fits for the most part, needs to be altered just a little bit (including a hem) but it’s too early for that, plus I need shoes.  

After my dress was safely back upstairs at the dress shop we headed to Jos. A Bank to shop for the father of the bride.  Bill was a very good sport, and it didn’t take long to have his wedding day outfit picked out and ordered.  Michelle decided it was a good idea to just go ahead and get Billy’s clothes also.  We estimated his sizes as best we could, and when we see him, we will exchange at his local store as needed.  I think he will be happy with what his sister picked out for him! 

You might think 2 days in a row was enough but no!  The next day Michelle and I were up and out early for the first planning meeting at the venue.  We met Teresa at 10am and 1 hour 45 mins later we were back on our way home, initial decisions made and starving for lunch!  Teresa was very organized and walked us through what the entire day would be like, decisions being made for each step.   What time would the bride arrive?  We ordered some food to be served for lunch for Michelle, Jaime and myself for while we were getting ready.   What time would the groom and other VIP’s need to get there?  Who’s been hired for photography, floral, officiant, cake and DJ?  Who’s walking who down the isle and in what order?  So many details!  

For the reception – more decisions!  Food for dinner had already been chosen, but what about appetizers while photos are being taken?  What beverages would be offered?  What time would things happen?  Who’s going to be offering a toast?  Will we be doing the western PA “money dance”?  I don’t even know what that is!  

Believe it or not, there are still more things to decide – like music – for the ceremony, first dance for bride and groom, father/daughter, mother/son, etc.  

Even though invites haven’t been sent yet, Michelle and I spent a few minutes talking about seating arrangements, as an “in the future” decision will be how many tables and what sizes?  Teresa will actually draw out where the tables will go, what size will they be and what numbers will go on them.  

While doing all these very important things with my daughter, I’ve been remembering my own wedding.  I’m not fully sure if it’s just so long ago (coming up on 32 years!) but I don’t recall all these little details.  They had to have been taken care of and my assumption is my Mother must have done a lot more than I realized at the time. Even when I was my sisters Matron of Honor – I don’t remember all these details.  My Mom must have handled a lot there too.   Thanks Mom!

It is somewhat more challenging being Mother of the Bride while not living nearby.  How busy we were this week is evidence of that.   I’m here a week so things cannot be spread out, checking items off the list a little here and there, it needs to be condensed into a shorter time span.  We will have more of this condensing when Jaime, the Maid of Honor, and I plan a couple of days out here later this summer – probably early August.  The upside of our lifestyle is we will be here 100% for the month before the big day – plenty of time to make sure the planning list is fully complete!  

Of course, Michelle is doing some things on her own, she is making a display box for cards, she has hired all the needed vendors, is updating their wedding website.  Just the other day, after dinner options were chosen, she ordered the invitations.  If any of you are getting married or know anyone who is, she has found a website called “The Knot” VERY helpful.  


How cute is that?  

In other news – I am very happy and relieved to report that our son and his roommate finally signed a new lease!  Whew!  It’s in a great location for him – close to his job; also great for us as it’s closer to the Ephrata Elks!  Awesome!  

Our driveway surfing days in Berlin, PA passed by quickly, but all the wedding planning boxes for the week were checked! I even got the fall leaf garland put together!  

We enjoyed meals together – my daughter has become quite the cook!  We watched some movies, including Bridge of Spies with Tom Hanks. Bill and Michelle planted trees one day, Michelle had ordered them off the Arbor Day website.  Bill put together a new filing cabinet Michelle ordered – there’s was a lot accomplished!


I think he misses putting things together sometimes



Apparently a visit to western PA wouldn’t be complete without some snow!  We had hoped we were late enough in the spring to avoid the white fluffy stuff – but NO – we had about 2″ fall during our stay!  Thankfully the below freezing wind chill didn’t last very long and temps quickly returned to normal for this time of year. 

Our last full day arrived and we decided to check out a Farmers Market type place about half hour away in Grantsville, MD.  What a great find!  They had homemade jams, candies, fruit and veggies, spices and stuff for baking.  All that and the prices were really good! 




We are very excited to moving on to our new Jersey Shore home.  We will be working at Country Oaks Campground in Dorothy, which is near Mays Landing and about 30 minutes from our fav boardwalk, Ocean City!  We already have some friends dropping by for visits – if you are in the neighborhood – look us up!  New Jersey is our ole stomping grounds and we’d love to show you around!  

Back “home” in Ephrata…

 It may seem odd I referred to Ephrata as “home” in the title of this post.   I’m saying it this way because we are, once again, staying at our home Elks Lodge, where Bill officially joined back in December.  Our spot was waiting for us; we had hoped the water would be able to be turned on, but it’s still getting too cold at night.  

Considering we had a stressful drive arriving here, it was good we were able to easily get parked and set up before heading over to our sons apartment.   

Sunset from up near the lodge


The drive was stressful mostly due to moron drivers.  Honestly – my last post included a link to our first ever YouTube video of Bill getting seriously cut off, and while thankfully that was not repeated, there was a lot of volume and crazy people. At one point, I was coming up around a curve on the PA Turnpike, and I saw flashing lights – the yellow ones usually seen on a tow truck.  It initially looked like it was on the shoulder (there was a wide guard rail blocking the full-view) and it was either moving extremely slowly or was stopped.   As I came around the curve more, it became clear it was in the lane of traffic – right where I was!  Thankfully there was an emergency pull-out right there and I pulled into it, as I wasn’t fully sure I would be able to slow down/stop in time.  Scared the sh** out of me!   Bill was back pretty far and I immediately radioed him to slow down and move over – which he did and within a few seconds blew by me.  It took me a minute to finally calm down and pull back out – I passed the tow truck and I’m guessing he wasn’t going but 20mph!  Maybe not even!  The speed limit in that area was 70!  We never travel that fast – I usually set the cruise on 62.  While I was sitting in the pull-out – several cars had to slam their brakes to avoid hitting him!  It was crazy!  

Whew!  Nothing a shot of Jameson couldn’t help with when we got to Billy’s!

I’ve been taking care of some wedding things since arriving; also had my haircut by my fav stylist and lunch with friend, Cherie!  Totally forgot to get a pic – but here’s one from last time.  


It’s been convenient having my own car, as the day I drove to Reading, Bill spent the morning with Ken, went to pick up Billy and they were back here waiting for me when I got home.  Worked out perfectly!  

Billy stayed the night and the following day was his day off.  I had checked TripAdvisor for something new to do.  After living in this general area for so long (12 years before we went full-time) and visiting many times, it isn’t easy to find new things to do.  As usual, TripAdvisor came through for us and we found our way to A Wolf Sanctuary near Lititz.  What an awesome find!  Reminded me of a place in Tampa we’ve visited many times – Big Cat Rescue – except wolves instead of big cats.  

The sanctuary gets donated road kill – and the wolves love it! This wolf is guarding the deer.

All tour guides are volunteers and are very passionate about the wolves

This female is 1/4 German Shepherd

This male is 1/4 wolf and 3/4 German Shepherd and used to be someone’s pet. When the original owner passed away he couldn’t bond with another family so was sent to the sanctuary.

This is all resident wolves that have passed away.

There has been a fair amount of time spent looking for a new apartment for Billy.  I am probably driving him a little crazy “helping” him.  He is so mellow and chill about stuff and I, never having had to look for an apartment for myself, am just anxious for this process to be over so I know where he will be moving to.   His current lease is up the end of April.  I had a goal of wanting to know where he would be moving to before we left but that was not to be.  I’ll be waiting for his call or text to let me know when he’s found a new place.  

On our last full day in the area, Bill and I decided to head into Reading to Fairgrounds Farmers Market to stock up on some our fav items.  Both our kids also like certain items that can be purchased there, so as we were on our way, with Bill behind the wheel, I texted both Michelle and Billy to get their requests.  

It was busy as usual when we arrived, as it is only open Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  Lots of people go for their produce and meat supplies for the week, as the prices are good and most stands are Amish, so local and fresh.  

Our first stop – had to get 3 cannoli from the best in the area – sadly the bag was left somewhere and we didn’t get to eat them!

Next stop was for broasted chicken wings – so good!

Had to get some beans, peas, quinoa and chickpeas for Michelle at Lbs & Ounces


Next stop – everyone got tea and some coffee

We didn’t get anything here, but I was tempted – yummy pretzel dogs!


Picked up some goat milk and yogurt for Michelle


Single scoop is enough – Cherry Coconut for Bill and half scoop each Black Raspberry and Cookies and Cream for me!

As much as I LOVE their homemade meatballs – no room for the 10lb bag in the freezer

Last stop for some Jambalaya- best I’ve ever had!

Our last evening with our son we grilled some rib eye steaks and watched a movie, and talked about the summer.  Since we will be so close to Billy while working on the Jersey Shore I’m sure we will be seeing him at least a few times.  

Friend Time in New Bern…

The name of this town may sound familiar to my long time readers, as we’ve stayed here at Flanners Beach, NC before.  It was 2 years ago, almost to the day, that we began our month long stay here camped beside the Neuse River with Jo & Craig.  We will only be here about 9 or 10 days, and with Jo & Ben this time!

Before I jump too far ahead, I want to tell you about our trip getting here from Greenville, SC.  Our drive from the Elks Lodge to our overnight stop-over at the Walmart Supercenter was uneventful.  We got parked next to the far edge of the lot and after getting Callie settled, went inside to stretch our legs.

We slept well during the night; it was quiet and no one bothered us.  I’ll admit I was a bit nervous considering the last time we stayed in a public place was when we were woke at 2am by some guy wanting money.  (see full story here: Knock on the Door at 2am)

We filled up on fuel and were on our way fairly early.  I originally thought we would want to hang out a little bit to wait for rush hour to finish, but then it hit me that it was Saturday – no rush hour!  YAY!  ETA in New Bern was about 11:45am!

So, we are driving along – no issues and were coming up on a traffic light when all of a sudden Bill gets cut off really bad by someone wanting to make a right at the light – Bill uploaded the footage to YouTube – you can watch it here:  5er cut off by car

I gotta tell you – I am so glad we have this dash cam now!  I mean – let’s say this guy had slowed down, just a little bit more, and Bill had hit him – usually when you hit someone in the back it’s your fault right?  The authorities would say you were following too close and that’s why you hit the guy when he slowed down to turn – BUT – our dash cam clearly shows this (insert colorful descriptor) person cut him off badly!  Therefore, not Bills fault if he hit him!  

You can clearly see the front of the truck take a nose dive when Bill all but slams the brake!  You can also hear the king pin slam the hitch!  I am in the CVR in front of him and see it happen in my rear view mirror (you can hear me say “WOW!” over the walkie talkie – a few seconds later I ask if he’s ok) and I could hear him lay on the horn!  A few friends have suggested we upgrade to an air horn – may be a good idea!  

The lesson in this is that, especially when towing, be very aware of your surroundings – because regardless of being able to prove it wasn’t Bill’s fault – had he hit the car – someone could have been hurt and/or it would have been a HUGE inconvenience to take care of any repairs.  

Now on to New Bern!  We arrived around noon and set up in the exact spot we parked in last time, which is a double site.  As before, we pulled into it, vs backing in, since we have my car we don’t need the truck.  

We took a walk around the CG and remembered fondly our previous visit.  If you’d like to read about it, here’s the link:  New Bern 1 and New Bern 2

I am now typing at the very end of our stay in New Bern.  We are leaving today!  I’m sad b/c our time with Jo & Ben is ending but happy b/c my son is waiting to see us in PA! Weather here will be amazing – in the 60’s and sunny and we are headed to 40’s/50’s and only some sun!  Oh well – just gotta roll with it!

We’ve had a great time here in New Bern!  Weather has been fairly mild – haven’t needed the furnace, as the electric heaters have been keeping up just fine!  We have had some rain – even a short thunderstorm – but also a bunch of sun!  We’ve done some exploring and also a bunch of hanging around.  Life is all about balance, right?  Ha!

It had been 7 months since we spent time with Jo & Ben (and their Malamute, Peyton) in Homer AK.  They are traveling nurses and are still searching for a balance between their work schedules and time off. They had been working back to back contracts, with only a week or so in between for moving, but now are taking more time, like a month or so, which is how we were able to see them now.  

What have we been doing?  We’ve driven to the ocean, had lunch in the cute little town of Beaufort, toured nearby Fort Macon, taken walks, watched movies, drank lots of wine and cooked/eaten lots of yummy foods!  

Bill reorganized his work supplies in the truck – between that and the basement it’s a never ending chore…

Snow flurries! Didn’t last long or stick at all thankfully!

Bill decided it was a good day for bean soup!


After Jo & Ben arrived – we got familiar with our new temporary home!

Inside the Birthplace of Pepsi


We will be needing a lot more walking after this stop!

Inside Beer Army – very cool!




The town of Beaufort (pronounced Boo-fort in NC vs Bew-fort in SC) is so cute!

Our view for lunch – was just a bit too chilly for sitting outside

All that walking made us hungry!

Local art gallery

Ben has been a BAD boy!


Since we had a big lunch in Beaufort on St Patty’s Day – I made the corned beef the following day – delish!  


Another drive took us to Atlantic Beach and Fort Macon

There is a very nice Visitor Center

Walking into the Fort itself

Enlisted men’s quarters

The pic above and below are of the officers quarters – all that space for one man

It said wives of enlisted men worked doing the laundry

Prisoners had a huge “P” on their backs

Inside the fort

Big guns!


We were originally undecided if we wanted to leave Monday or Tuesday, but when Monday’s weather looked like it was one of the best days so far – we had to stay!  It’s easy to see why!  

I think I need some practice taking group selfies


First Install – status: Complete!

As I begin this post, it is a very chilly Friday morning.  I just kissed my hubby as he left for “work”.  Today is his second day at his first install for RV Armor.   Thankfully the sun is shining and temps are on their way up!
We are parked at an Elks Lodge in Greenville, SC.  From the street, it looks like we are in someone’s driveway, as there is a house in front of the actual Elks Lodge, which the Elks must also own.  We have 30amp electric and water.  It was a bit tricky getting into the spot, as there is little “swing” space for the truck, but Bill, as always, did a great job!


Our first night here, we had been invited inside for our free first time visitor drink at the bar, which we gratefully took advantage of.  Bill enjoyed a Yuengling draft and I ordered a Myers and Coke.  That night was a special one, as dinner was being served and 6 local high school seniors would be receiving a scholarship, which they earned by writing an essay.  While having our drinks at the bar, we were introduced to the attending Elk members by the bartender, Dan.

When dinner was announced, we followed others into the dining room, where they had chili dogs and chips and pudding cake for dessert.   We were joined at our table by Bob & his wife (sorry, forgot her name) and learned about the history of the lodge and about a lot of the programs they offer.

Feeling tired after our drive, we opted to not attend the actual ceremony where the scholarships would be handed out.  We thanked everyone for their hospitality and walked home for some relaxing TV time before getting some sleep – tomorrow was a BIG day!

I have to take a minute and thank Linda & Steven (of The Chouters), initially for suggesting, and later sponsoring us to become Elks members.   I was skeptical at first, but I must say now, I am sold!  This is our 5th Elks stay, and while all spots have not been ideal – in the sense that we are parking in a parking lot/driveway instead of a nicely appointed CG site – everywhere we’ve been, we’ve been welcomed and made to feel at home.   The locations have been awesome, nearby exactly where we wanted to be!  And, so far, only the Wasilla, AK location has actually had a “fee” (which you may recall – they only charged us the member fee of $15 per night vs $25 per night non-member fee); all others ask only for a donation.

We have been trying to come up with a method to figure out how much of a donation to give.  We want to cover our expenses (water and electric), plus extra.  So, we’ve loosely decided that for 30amp and water, we will donate $12 per night.  If we use a lot of electric (a/c and/or electric heaters) we will bump that up to $15.  During our stay in Atlanta, the electric outlet went out at the pole, and we needed to rely on solar and used our gennie when cloudy, so we took that into consideration.  We will also consider kicking-up our donation for other factors, such as if any efforts were made for privacy, if there is sewer on site, or a dump station, etc.

Overall, we are very happy we decided to follow Steven & Linda’s advice and become Elks members!

So – Bill is doing his first install.  He was fine, but I was a bit nervous for him on his first day.  He had called, as required but just plain smart to do, and confirmed the address, that there was water and electric there, and that the owner would be there (at least for the first part of the day) in case of any changes.

When I brought him his lunch, he was doing just fine.  My concern was for nothing.  He had completed the cleaning and most of the inspection.  He also has to measure the roof, to confirm the number the customer provides when they schedule the install.  On this job, this step was extra important because it seemed there could be a discrepancy.  The customer had said the roof was 30′, but when Bill looked up the model – the specs said the coach was 37′ in length.  Well, I guess the caps, which aren’t included in roof size, amount to 7′, as the customer had given the correct size.

I have been keeping busy, home on my own.  I’ve done some cleaning and shopping (finally got a new pocketbook!) and had dinner cooking in the Instant Pot when Bill returned home.  It’s been quite a while since I’ve had to say “Have a good day Honey” and send him off.


The first two days of the install have gone fairly smoothly, the only thing that has slowed him down a bit is removing some silicone caulk.  Dicor (what is usually used on RV roofs) can be cleaned and gone over, but the product won’t stick to silicone so it has to come off.  The weather, while sunny and gorgeous, has also slowed him down a bit – temps have been high in the low 60’s – so he cannot start as early as he’d like and needs to quit as soon as the sun gets low.  He’d prefer to work full days – say 8am – 5:30pm or so, but has only been able to do 10 – 4:30, which will probably have the project taking an extra day.

I want to tell you about something else I’ve been working on!  I’m really excited about it!  I’ve been updating my blog!  It is my intent to be finished before this post goes live – so be sure to check out the new stuff.

I’ve added a page called “The Man Cave” which has links to all the mods, maintenance, repairs and upgrades Bill has done to our rig and truck.  It’s basically just links to the original posts in one neat little place so they can be more easily found.

Another page I’ve added – and I MAY change the name of it – is Summary of Summaries.   I thought since a lot of people like that kind of info – I would separate it out to make it easier to find, like the Man Cave page.

I am also committed to catching up on CG reviews.  Sadly, at this point, I’ve forgotten some details since it’s been so long, but I’ve decided to just say what I do remember and include a link to the post when we stayed there.  I actually think it’s better to include the link – as you can then read what we did in the area when we stayed there – might give you an idea or two.  Going forward I will do my best to keep up better.  Hold me too it, ok?

It’s been a few days and I’ve been busy -working on some blog stuff, getting laundry and grocery shopping done, finding us a place to go when our time here (yes – we are still in Taylors, SC) is done, and also working on a few wedding things.  Bill has been spending his days (at least part of them) installing the RV Armor roof.  He has also set up a few spread sheets for the business – one for our personal info and one for tax purposes, as well as one that keeps track of how much time he it is taking to get the job completed.   It is fair to say at this point we’ve been here longer than we initially thought and hoped we’d be, I’ll get into the reasons for that later.

We did take a break and went out to dinner one night.  There is a Thai place about half a mile up the street and it has very good reviews on TripAdvisor, so we decided to give it a try.  What a great find!  Yummy food and reasonable prices.  Awesome combo!

In other news my friend, Tracy, of Camper Chronicles, has self published her first book!  It’s an awesome cookbook made especially for RVers.  Bill and I contributed a few of the recipes, as did other friends.  She really did a great job – you can check it out and purchase it if you want here:  RV Living Cookbook

 Ok – we’ve FINALLY moved on from Taylors NC – the install is complete!  I know you’ve all been anxiously waiting so here goes – the summary of Bill’s first install!  In his words. 

So here are some pictures of the roof before. Pretty dirty. The roof needed a good cleaning so our system would properly adhere 

This is the same skylight with our Armor Clean cleaner applied. It eats the grim and dirt away so you can rinse it off. 



After the cleaning all of the sealant need to be inspected and repaired or removed if necessary. 


Two minor repairs were necessary. One of the Maxx fan vent covers was missing a nut and bolt. Another was installed improperly as it was screwed directly to the roof instead of the side. We include 1 hr of basic repair time with our system. As it didn’t take that long to repair the customer was not charged.  He was thrilled by this!

 

After the A/C and vent covers are removed I prepared the roof penetrations for the first step. Roof penetration and termination bars are where most roof systems fail. Most people simply don’t maintain them or don’t recognize an issue when they see it. The RV Armor system pays close attention to these critical areas so the customer will never have to worry about them again. 


Next the base coat is applied.


The A/C covers were temporary reinstalled due to the rain forecasted overnight. I always make sure the roof is watertight before I leave. Weather forecasts are known to be wrong!

Next more attention is paid to the roof penetrations to make them even more robust.


The last and final coat can be applied. I reinstall the covers along the way working my way to the back of the rig. The radius also gets several coats. 



The finished product. The customer also had a hole in his rear A/C cover. I repaired  it with tape and some gray coating. No charge. 

All in all the job went fine. Rain and low temperatures delayed the job by a few days. This roof also had an unusually large number of penetrations (2 A/Cs, 3 maxx vents, 2 plumbing vents, fridge vent, sat and regular TV antennas, 2 whip antennas, 2 skylights, and 2 air horns. All this on a 30ft roof. Made it difficult to work around sometimes. Start to finish it took just shy of 40 hrs. Given the circumstances and this being my first roof I would say that should be reduced to about 24 hrs with some experience. 

If you are interested in a lifetime roof please reach out to me for additional information. If you want to get a new roof don’t forget my referral number 17051. You will get $100.00 off your roof!