It sure was sweet to get back into Suite Retreat, our 2020 DRV Mobile Suites fifth wheel, now that all repairs related to the tire delamination were completed. Indiana Interstate did a terrific job of making Suite Retreat good as new. We truly appreciated the exemplary customer service and communications of Kay Cross and the superior technical skills of Paul Cross, who was a shop supervisor at DRV in its pre-Thor-owned days. What a pleasure to meet and deal with true professionals. Indiana Interstate earns a coveted Rambling RV Rat 5-cheese award!
We were anxious to revert to our previously scheduled road trip: a tour of Civil War historic sites from Virginia to Mississippi, as we traversed back to Texas . As members of Harvest Hosts, our first evening was spent at a law enforcement canine training center in Ohio. The RV site was surrounded by cornfields and sunflowers, and it was very easy to access. Though we only met them briefly, the canine cops-in-training demonstrated strength, obedience, and intelligence, and I was happy to bust into my cheese bank to donate to this worthwhile organization.
|The corn stalks were VERY tall, as demonstrated by Dad.|
|The canine cops left behind some presents for me--a shovel and poop! Guess they heard I was the leader of the 3 Muckateers at Aunt Maureen's Misty Lee Farm!|
We returned to the road early the next morning, and experienced lots of rain as we entered Maryland. In fact, we arrive later than anticipated at the Harvest Hosts creamery at which we were staying overnight because of road closures/re-routing due to Hurricane Ida. I was so looking forward to eating lunch at the quaint café established at the creamery, but it was closed by the time we arrived. So, instead we patronized the country store. The fresh eggs Mom purchased for herself weren’t quite as tasty as those we bought from Misty Lee Farm in New Jersey but a vast improvement from those at the grocery store. The sugar snap peas we picked up for Dad were fresh and delicious. Me, I enjoyed a small sampling of my favorite food! The parking area was huge and offered wonderful views of the surrounding countryside.
We arrived the next day at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. We visited here nearly 3 decades ago, well before our RVing days. So, this time around we reserved a spot at Loft Mountain Campground within the Park. But to our dismay, we could not fit on our reserved semi-circular pull-through site courtesy of a huge tree residing inside the turn radius. The Ranger provided us a listing of 3 other vacant sites that might be able to accommodate our oversized needs. It took till the third site to get “just right” on size and angle, and it came with the bonus of a private “backyard”. None of the sites have any electric, water, or sewer hookups. However, there is a dump station and water fill area, though there was too much of an angle on the curve for us to access. The Campground provided us the perfect opportunity to chat with camping neighbors, celebrate Dad’s birthday, and relax/de-stress from the delamination saga. However, cell service and internet are virtually non-existent here. So, one day we traveled 26 miles back down the mountain to Elkton and settled in for the afternoon at Stonewall Memorial Park. The signal there was great, so we made phone calls and emailed our paperwork for the Goodyear tire delamination claim. I must say, Goodyear was very fair. After submitting all supporting documentation, they reimbursed us costs for the new tire, RV repairs, the hotel stay, and the fees associated with cancelled/revised RV Park reservations (two parks would not return our money, but gave us gift certificates for the full value for future use, so we didn’t include those in our claim). And although Goodyear probably would have paid our restaurant meals, we did not include them in our claim either. We wanted to be fair, and our belief is that we had to eat regardless of whether we incurred the delamination.
|We celebrated Dad's birthday with Mom baking a plant-based cheesecake. I must say, it wasn't half bad!|
|A new gadget for my handyman Dad to add to his Ryobi collection.|
We had awesome weather to enjoy hiking along a portion of the Appalachian Trail from a trailhead within the Campground. We hiked other areas of this 2,200 mile trail many moons ago within Tennessee, Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey. But our hiking endeavors represent only 5 of the 14 states through which the Trail runs. We visited all the viewpoints/pullouts along Skyline Drive, too. Sadly, the trees/bushes are so overgrown that you see bupkus at many of these lookouts. Stonewall Jackson strategically used these forested Blue Ridge Mountains to conceal his troops' movements in his Shenandoah Valley Civil War campaign during 1862. Our 4-day stay at Shenandoah National Park was before fall foliage, so we did not see the beautiful color change.
|The bees were feasting at the various wildflower buffets.|
We ventured to our next overnight location, a Harvest Hosts winery, just a few hours away. Dad was a bit apprehensive about maneuverability since the winery is nestled at the top of hill via a winding, curvy, road. So, Mom and I scouted things out. When we reached the top of the hill, I was awestruck like Dorothy when she opened her house door to Munchkin Land. The views were magnificent! And the flat, open fields on which to park were dry and solid. We scurried down the hill to give Dad the good news. While my parents did rig set-up and got our tabby cat resettled, I checked out the venue. It offered live music, food trucks, and games like horseshoes and chess. I opened my cheese purse strings to make my family’s obligatory $20 minimum purchase from this Harvest Host. But I sure was upset when I had to plunk down $26 for the cheapest bottle of wine available for purchase. Now I know for wine connoisseurs, this is quite inexpensive. But for a family who rarely drinks and a stuffed rat who values his cheese money like other folks value their children, this was crushing. Do you know how many bags of Cheez Doodles I could have bought!!!! But when I looked around me the next day when the winery was closed, I realized the serenity and tranquility of this mountain setting was priceless. I can’t help but feel spiritually enriched when I witness such unadulterated beauty.
|A foggy morning for departure.|
Next up on our itinerary was Bull Run Regional Park. This is a gorgeous 1,500+ acre campground and day use Park in Centerville, Virginia. It is laid out beautifully, with spacious, private pull-through sites. They have several RV sites with full hookups, and others with just water and/or electric, but there is an easily-accessible dump station available for use. I was anxious to start touring Manassas Battlefield Park, location of the very first major battle of the Civil War in July 1861. This conflict was known as the Battle of Bull Run by Union forces. A second engagement of Union and Confederate troops ensued nearby the following summer. Both battles were considered victories for the Confederates. There are tons of trails from which to choose to hike through Battlefield Park and even an auto tour. But my Mom derailed all my plans. She was in dire pain and suffering a severe infection from an abscessed tooth. Now my Mom doesn’t do doctors—she avoids them as often as possible. Wish she avoided them this time. Instead, Dad took her to an urgent care clinic to get an antibiotic to which she suffered a negative reaction (this has occurred each of the 4 times during her adult life that she actually has taken any antibiotic). She discontinued usage after 1.5 days, so the infection persisted. After 3 days of excruciating pain (and Mom’s got a high tolerance level), Mom asked if we could return to Texas. She did not want to seek further treatment with doctors/dentists on the road and instead wanted to deal with her trusted healthcare professionals in Texas. So, we hightailed it back to Livingston, covering 1,200 miles in 4 days. And that’s how our Civil War historic tour ended BEFORE IT BARELY STARTED!
The good news is that by the time we got back home, gargling with peroxide cleared Mom’s infection (and we have since learned garlic can also do the trick). Conroe Family Dentistry, who are compassionate and caring and come highly recommended by yours truly, granted Mom’s request for an emergency appointment within an hour of arriving home and before their weekend started (they do not see patients on Fridays/Saturdays/Sundays). Dr. Robins was able to deal with the decayed tooth that caused the problem in the first place.
In hindsight ('cause once again I am behind in chronicling our travels), arriving back to Livingston a month earlier than planned was a blessing in disguise. I’ll tell you why in my next blog.
Talk to you again soon.