This is Our 2012 Summer Excursion series recapping our experiences from June 3-August 3 by time and location. Please let me know if you would like more details about anything and I will do my best to work them in or reply personally. Follow the TAG to get the full story. It’s the summer that never ends…it goes on and on my friends…
On Day 51 we arrived home from Elkins, WV after a near three week stay. It was a difficult choice for me, as home is one of the last places I want to go, when given the options, but it was a necessary stop for Brent. He had been trying to work on the road all summer, and doing a fairly disastrous job of it. No fault of his own, it’s all mine. I owned all his time.
D52-55: We spent a great deal of time at home being lazy. There was friend time and cooking of real food, hot meals. There was a lot of loafing about, watching the telly. The last full day at home I drove the children out to Target to pick up school supplies and uniform parts. We hunted for items on my long list of things to fix around the house, since we had some extra summer job money. And it was very hot out (as noted in my journal).
Summer and I are not friends. More like colleagues. The sun may put me in a chipper mood after days of cloudy weather, and I do enjoy a longer ‘day,’ but I don’t care for its glare, UV radiation, and heat. Summer, in our backyard, also means mosquitoes. With all the outdoor time we had packed away this summer, I didn’t have a single bite to report until we got home. It was a blood feast in our own yard. Everywhere in the neighborhood actually. It made tending the overgrown garden unbearable. It had me keeping the children indoors. If I recall correctly, it was also a nasty year for West Nile nationwide.
I welcomed the indoor refuge, the air conditioning, and yes, even the cabin of my van on some of these days. I noted in my journal that on that Thursday, July 26, after doing my Barboursville errands, I drove to the Wild Ramp. It’s a bikeable distance, but I was already in my cozy haven away from all that nasty sunshine warmth, and I kept right on to Heritage Station.
We had tried to keep our home AC off for 2012. The late spring time was ok, and early summer not too bad. We ran into an issue when condensation started building up in our basement. A wet basement leads to mold. We tried a dehumidifier and salt trays, but because it’s a walkout basement, we weren’t having much success. Flipping on the AC for a few hours, dried it up quickly. We tried to keep the thermostat higher than usual, to make the transition from indoor to outdoor less dramatic, but steadily it crept down. We attempted a number of other techniques too. Maybe we can find a better solution to energy conservation in 2013.
D56: Friday, July 27, we packed up the van again, for the third time this summer. We tidied up the house for the sitter, and drove back to Heritage Station before departing town one last time. I grabbed some locally roasted coffee beans and quinoa granola to share with our next hosts, very old friends of mine.
The drive to North Carolina was very stormy. We decided at one point to exit the highway and do some grocery shopping until some of it blew over.
We arrived at Janna and Matt’s in Charlotte, just in time for dinner and a movie.
D57: We had a movie mantra working in Charlotte. A marathon of old flicks for the children up to an early dinner time with Janna’s whole family. I have known them all since ’98 and it’s a reunion with every visit. Parents, nephew, sister, and inlaws. This time we had an extra treat of some new friends. It was great to meet Kirstin and Dennis and their fellows. Musicians. Alaskan native. They had a couple of fun travel and children war stories to share. On our way back to Janna’s we threw in a stop at EarthFare and loaded up on some bulk bin goodies. Granola, quinoa and lentils, that would set us up for meals a plenty while on the beach the remainder of the week.
D58: There’s a simple pleasure in the company of friends. Sharing in meals, stories, laughter, the togetherness. We soaked up quite a bit of Matt’s cooking. Hot breakfasts everyday. The children were willingly subdued in their tiny space with more movies and two dogs to love on.
We packed up mid Sunday, and left for South Carolina, where we were meeting up with friends from Florida at a beach house in Murrells Inlet, south of Myrtle Beach. I should probably mention here, we didn’t bring our bicycles for this last portion of the trip. We made a choice to leave the bikes home for this one week. Neither of our friends in NC or SC would be riding with us, and when looking over maps of the areas we would be in, biking didn’t look like a reasonable option.
We pulled into the carport of the beach house (under the house) moments before our friends Nick and Angela, who spent their entire day on the road with two small children. Throwing frozen pizzas in the oven for dinner, we gave huge hugs to our old Huntington friends, divided up bedrooms and called it a day.
This is Our 2012 Summer Excursion series recapping our experiences from June 3-August 3 by time and location. Please let me know if you would like more details about anything and I will do my best to work them in or reply personally. Follow the TAG to get the full story. Maybe I will get through the whole trip before 2013 (it’s NYE, so maybe not)!
D33: July 4 should have been full of fireworks and bbqs and flags and maybe even parades, if you have some sort of traditional holiday flair you follow. While I am not into tradition, it was great to have been invited to a block party on our first day in a new town that had all of the above. As our history would have it, we lived in Buckhannon, WV (west of Elkins) for two years, and I worked in Elkins for part of that time. We met some great people and fell in love with this mountain community before moving to Huntington six and half years ago. One of those great people, Beth King, handles the community arts center, where I worked. She invited us to the block party! Hurray for Beth! As time would pass, many of those faces would cross our path again at the bookstore, bike shop, tennis camp, grocery, and on the street. A small town intimacy; warm and welcoming.
D34-49: The four children and I filled our days as best we could while Brent worked 12-14 hour days. We dined together as a family every night in the Davis & Elkins cafeteria and enjoyed breakfast at the Graceland Mansion every morning. Lunch was a toss up. Some days we had lunch together, and some not. Having the opportunity to be on campus with him for those weeks was invaluable to the children and for our relationship. I may not have been able to get any time away from the children, but knowing I might get 30minutes of shared parenting a few times a day gave my mommy voice a rest, and let me close my eyes just a bit to the hyper-vigilance we kept while living in a hotel. Last year we stayed in Huntington while he worked the Governor’s School for the Arts. It wasn’t impossible for me, I enjoy temporary challenges such as these, but it wasn’t ideal.
To make this entry less cumbersome, you can browse the photo gallery below, complete with captions, of our Elkins stay. It covers what we ate since we didn’t have a kitchen, how we kept our sanity living in one room, with two beds, the local bike culture, where we spent our money on extra-curriculars for the children, our geocaching finds, the views, the people, the fluff.
Spoiler: In terms of bicycling, Elkins was the best! We never drove in town, we didn’t need to, everything was very, very close to where we were staying. We walked most places and biked when we needed/wanted to save time/have more fun. I never saw another child on bikes outside of the bike parade and the park. I rarely saw other riders in general. Not sure why. Maybe they are more of a walking community? It was ideal for us. I was so spoiled, that thinking about going home to a 2.5mile ride to grocery was daunting.
I drove to Beverly twice, 10miles south of town for London’s Girl Scout camp, and utilized a carpool for her other trips to camp. Otherwise, the van just sat in the parking lot until the day we left. It even attracted ants. Ever have a vehicle with a pest problem?
D50-51: The day before the summer program ended we were presented with a room charge for some of the damages the children inflicted on the hotel. It’s an unsettling story involving play dough in the carpet and a five year old who wet the unprotected mattress, (I don’t want to get into details but feel welcome to ask me about it anytime. Great reason to invite us over, stop by, or meet up, eh?).
So on day 50, Saturday July 21, the program ended. We had the car packed up and we drove off to Buckhannon for dinner and a drive around our old stomping grounds. We booked a hotel in Charleston, WV, an hour from home, so we could swim and jump on the beds and decompress before tossing our house sitter out one more time before our full Summer Excursion would end.
Our plans to bike and camp the Greenbriar Trail system with friends never came together. Brent was concerned about work at Marshall and an exhibit he was invited to participate with at the Clay Center. We headed home before our beach trip. I was glad we weren’t out on the trail, post derecho, in the rain, as forecasted, but I wasn’t happy to be going home. My heart is with my family and friends (new and old), following a map around the country side, city scape, coast lines, and mountain towns. Such a gypsy.
That’s Elkins in a blog-post nutshell. Wasn’t it dreamy? Next up, our spat at home and our last week on the road, in Charlotte, NC and Myrtle Beach, SC.
Note: I tried to include as much photography as I could, but I left out a great deal! I don’t know where it went. Maybe on the phone? Anyway. It was fun, fabulous and we hope to have more of the same again. More small spaces, more outside adventures, more new people, more crazy.
This is Our 2012 Summer Excursion series recapping our experiences from June 3-August 3 by time and location. Please let me know if you would like more details about anything and I will do my best to work them in or reply personally. Follow the TAG to get the full story.
We spent all our travels without a cooler or a stove/oven. The cooler would have taken up precious space and require the purchase of ice constantly. We did carry a camp stove with us (borrowed from a friend), but never brought it out. We thought we were going to use it, but found that with the quantity of food we needed to prepare, it was going to take a pot too large for the stove, or too much time, and too much fuel. We ate from the grocery. If we purchased dairy, we consumed it straight away. The vegetable peeler and the can opener were essential tools. I had one plastic container with a tight sealing lid we made an ever lasting and forever changing trail mix in, dumping new goods into it all the time. There was always peanut butter. We started with bread loaves, but then moved to tortillas. Those lasted longer, didn’t crush and took up less space. We tried to stay close to real food as much as possible, but understood the grain hungry children and bought crackers, pretzels and such on occasion. We never ate fast food, we ate out occasionally for a meal, and always for ice cream.
Not many people knew were were back in Huntington, so we saw the neighbors, and little of anyone else. I cleaned the house top to bottom, washed the van, caught up the laundry, and read a couple months worth of magazines in our mound of mail before the electric returned at 4pm.
Many people in the area wouldn’t see relief from the heat or refrigerators with power for another week (some longer).
July 2, a Monday, I spent a great deal of time ‘catching up’ online. I checked on bills, checked in with social media. Brent rode to work and to get groceries and we made a hot meal for the first time in a month. Scrambled eggs and veggie rollups and pasta with sauce. Quick and easy.
Day 32: Fortunately Elkins, WV returned to the grid well enough for us to head that way on Tuesday July 3. We wrapped up laundry, repacked, leaving behind the bike trailer, the camping stove, pot and cooking utensils, and anything we felt we might not need on the second half our summer. We were scheduled for three weeks in Elkins, followed by some undetermined travel (options included the Greenbriar trail for bike camping, Charlotte, NC, extended time in Elkins, Washington DC), then a week in South Carolina with friends at the beach before return home to start school and classes.
We left our drive way one more time at noon thirty, July 3, with 2837.9miles on the trip-odometer. It took $53.30 to fill up the tank before leaving the city limits. We managed a non-stop drive to Elkins in 3 hours. Brent checked us in to the Graceland Inn (inn side, not mansion side), where the faculty had accommodations and we ended up crashing piling in as well (we tried all year to find another place). He attended a faculty meeting, then we all went to a family and staff dinner at the program chair’s house.
It was an interesting discussion. We had driven all the way to Elkins, parked at the inn, looked at the map to the hosts house and decided to drive there. Being such a very small town, in hindsight, we should have ridden bikes, however, we took a tour around town in the car to scout out possible bike routes and find the grocery. It’s all about access to food with me.
After we returned to the inn, where we would set up ‘house’ for the following three weeks, we re-introduced the children to geo-caching. Tina and Matthew had taught us all about this scavenger hunt like hobby in Yellow Springs, OH. It became our go-to activity in Elkins, filling little voids of time and making for some interesting adventures. I surprised myself by paying $10 for the app (I’ve never paid for apps). This small purchase was an indicator for more frivolous spending to come. The gateway way saying of “it is just/only” $10.
Davis and Elkins, the campus we were staying on, had three caches. We searched for two, and found one. It was the beginning of what would be three wonderful weeks in the mountains.
There’s a huge gap in posting Our 2012 Summer Excursion series that recaps our experiences from June 3-August 3 by time and location. Thanks to a friendly nudge, I thought I might try to wrap up our 2012 events before we all turn in to toads in 2013. Or is it royalty? Who has been kissing who around here?
Don’t hesitate to be confused, or lost as to where this story started. Ask questions, or if you care to, go back and read all about it! It’s tagged.
D26: The whole while we were in Deep River, CT with my aunt and family we envisioned making an overnight stop in NYC. We thought we could catch up with my cousin in Brooklyn, make a stop into Rolling Orange, and show the children a truly enormous city. As we took stock of our days and nights, we opted for driving through, waving at the tall, tall buildings, on the most economic route (some bridge tolls were $25, we avoided those), and staying in New Jersey.
We had arranged to meet up with Megan, her husband and two boys (and now one girl, it’s been too long!!) in Ocean Grove, NJ as a part of the interviewing we were taking on for Liz Canning’s Less Car, More Go documentary about the cargo-bike revolution. If you have been following along with our involvement, you may also recall that it was formerly under the working title (R)Evolutions Per Minute.
Megan recommended Allaire State Park, so on our way through the Bronx, I called and made reservations for the night. Putting that cell phone to work. I have a whole rant about that iphone for later. Remind me to fill you in.
We felt at home with the Soul Learning (Now Days with the Grays) family and were quite smitten with the Jersey shore. It was the deepest beach I had been on, with a wide public, pristine boardwalk, and homes set back behind the front road that angled inward so every front or back porch had a view of the ocean. None of the homes were on stilts, another beach icon I was accustom to. There was a small carnival flair about the shops, not a touristy, buy here, buy now demanding atmosphere. It was hometown meets vacation destination. Ocean Grove earned its place on our “must return for a visit” list. So far, what and who hasn’t?
D27: Brent nudged me awake at 6:00AM to help decide if we should strike the camp or throw the fly over the tops of our open air tents. My intentions were to head back to the beach and pow around with Megan, but that wouldn’t be for several hours, and if the tents get wet from the incoming storm, then we would have to pack them up wet and drag them out later.
We chose to pack up and shove off. Who knew how long the rains would last? It was a 20 minute clean up, carry the sleeping children into their seats, finish tearing down the tents and drive away moment. We weren’t even to the park exit before the sky opened up and the rain came pouring down.
We finished out our route through NJ, crossed into Delaware for our first ever Waffle House experience. Brent still gets a chuckle out of the idea that I asked our server what fruits and vegetables they could serve. “This is a grits and grease place, hun.” Thanks. Feeling better now about having never taken my family to Waffle House.
The Delaware stop was intentional. I had never been to Delaware.
We picked up some groceries then kept on trucking. The skies were clear, having driven away from the storm, and we started the process of determining where to go next. I was thinking we might go to Washington DC. There were several people I emailed about visiting as we passed through. We had two nights left before we were to report in Elkins, WV for a three week appointment Brent had taken. If we spent one night in DC and one night in Virginia, or two nights in DC, or what if we spent two night in VA? And so it went. The closer we edged to DC the more we wanted to keep driving. There was a lot of traffic. It was still very early in the day, considering our early start, and staying in DC would cost a lot more money than camping in hills along the Shenandoah River.
We eventually settled on Watermelon Park, south east of Winchester, VA. This place was nestled on the river, down a dirt road. Seeing that it was 100F we found a small shady spot, striped down and climbed into what we hoped would be a cold river. It wasn’t. Brent set up camp, the children and I squinted into the noon day sun.
In setting up camp, Brent assembled the bikes to get around the grounds. We made a few camp store trips for all the necessities (and the air conditioning). We were going to do this camp thing “right.” Fire wood. To go along with the chocolate, Jiffy Pop, marshmallows and graham crackers we picked up earlier in the morning. Our other two camping nights were just for sleeping, this one was for playing. We kicked around the water, skipped a few stones, and burned things. Oh, and we used a pay shower. Cool. Nothing like depositing quarters to conserve water and time. It was better than any gift giving holiday. Childs play.
With everyone clean, fed and waiting for some drop in temperature before attempting to settle into tents, Brent checked the forecast. Could we leave the fly off again tonight? It really is great to fall asleep and feel the dewy air settle around you. That is, it is great for me. Brent can’t tolerate what he calls “noises,” fly or no fly. He never sleeps well.
There were forecasted storms at 1AM. Move the tent away from the tree? Closer to the tree line on the west side? Pack up and find a hotel? It was a subtle argument. If we stayed, which I wanted, he would be nervous, scared, miserable, which I didn’t want. If we left, I would be bitter about money and the loss of opportunity to camp, which he didn’t want. I didn’t care to camp in a storm, given that one of our tents was bound to leak buckets. I was unsure of where to put a tent during a storm, under the tree? Out in the open? It didn’t really matter. We rushed around again, without inciting panic in the children, and stuck yet another camp, for the second time in one day. All before sunset (9pm ish).
As we headed back out that dirt road I started looking for hotel vacancies. There were few. Then it began to rain, far earlier than forecasted. As we approached Winchester a wall of wind rocked the van. We pulled over immediately. Flipped on the hazards. We held hands. The wind was pushing everything over a ridge above us. A perfectly horizontal force beating rain, sticks, dust, and debris. We watched trees bow down. Minutes passed as we whispered “tornado?” “do we drive?” “get out and lay in the ditch?”
Everyone around us was stopped as well. The sky was dark, so not knowing what was happening up and out there was intimidating. There was an interstate on ramp and over pass in front of us. We saw a break in the wind and headed straight for town. I knew there was a hotel on the other side, without vacancy, but with resources. We pulled into the hotel overhang, driving over branches and fallen glass lamp covers. Wind still racing. Rain still falling. A man was in the hotel door way. Initially we couldn’t open our van doors. We took stock of how many children to carry at once and who could/would run on their own. I yelled at the man for some help (not very politely), grabbed the baby and Avery as Brent carried Elliot, who was terrified and crying.
Anyone else remember the night of June 29th? We hunkered down in that lobby for a good while, with a bunch of other great people. The desk clerk found us a hotel room the next exit down, for when the derecho had passed. We drove down an interstate littered with trees that had been broken apart by barreling through semis. We slept light, and thankful, that my stubbornness relented and we made the decision to pack up camp.
D29: With the intention of driving onto Elkins for our three week stay, we check out of the hotel and went into Winchester the next morning to do laundry and play at another children’s museum (reciprocal pass member!). It was difficult to see where there was no electricity, but there were trees uprooted everywhere. We didn’t realize the devastation of the region until later. The program dean in Elkins called to say the town’s electric and municipal water was down and we couldn’t come to town just yet.
We spent the next many hours calling for hotels, camp sites, anything along I-81. There was either no phone, no cell service (towers knocked down), no electric, or no vacancy. While I understand some of those rooms were full of people who truly needed them. With the extensive heat wave, many of them were full of people who just wanted air conditioning, and it irked me, quite a lot. We drove for nearly 400 miles trying to find a place to stay and then it occurred to us that we could and probably should just go home. We were in our drive way at midnight.
Our house sitter took air conditioned refuge with his own family, who left us a cooler of fruit, drinks and ice, and a battery lantern. We camped under our own roof the night of June 30th.
Welcome everyone! Our 2012 Summer Excursion series recaps our experiences from June 3-August 3 by time and location, and should follow up with more detailed topics about finances, family and finesse. Please let me know if you would like more details about anything and I will do my best to work them in or reply personally.
D21: Many, many years ago I drove through Rhode Island on my way back from Boston to NYC, and I regretted not stopping, at least for a moment. Being the smallest state in the union is pretty special. This time through, it coincided with lunch, which turned into a need for ice cream, and so we found ourselves at the Three Sisters, adjacent a craft and farmers market for a couple of scoops as we went from Boston to Deep River, CT on June 23rd.
My aunt wasn’t scheduled to arrive on the train until bedtime, so we made our first beach stop at Eskers in Groton, CT. The remainder of the evening was spent at the elementary school in Deep River, enjoying dinner, playgrounds and sunsets.
D22: Sunday June 24, we drove to New Haven, CT to meet the Full Hands blog family. They were planning to attend the Arts and Ideas Festival ride to the neighborhood gardens, and we were excited to join them. Once again, the adage of “people are good” remains, and we had a very welcoming stay and wished it could have carried on longer.
I also had the pleasure of riding a most unusual bike, the Bakfiets. Even after nearly five miles (maybe it was more?) to pick up pizza for dinner, I was yet to get very comfortable. It was probably the most fun bicycle I have pedaled, but not the most intuitive. Prepare yourself for the million photos and captions (click for larger images, not sure if this works in a reader/feed)!
There is a bit I would like to say about bicycling in New Haven specifically. It was my first encounter with consistently unfriendly traffic while riding. After this day I had a new feeling about why some people do not ride with their children independently and some do not ride at all. There are certainly different attitudes and styles of driving and riding in different regions/cities. It also explains why there is such a need for bicycling infrastructure. It shouldn’t fall on cyclists to continue the fight for such features. Adjustments to streets and bikeways would also help with auto traffic. Drivers should be aiding in the advocacy of integration too.
This isn’t to say that New Haven was dangerous and flippant, it was just different and surprised me. I felt it was a very valuable perspective to gain and had we had more time to adjust we might have found our groove. This varied greatly to the ease I felt in Columbus, a city I was familiar with. New Haven was an all around new experience.
I look forward to another visit.
D23: We didn’t stay over in New Haven, opting to return to my aunt’s in Deep River. Monday turned into a very lazy, watch the rain fall down, sort of day. When the clouds parted we walked a bit through the old town before driving to Clinton to meet up with my uncle and cousin for dinner. Twelve years is a very long time to go without seeing someone, but when it’s family and good friends, it’s all hugs and a good laugh.
D24: My cousin Rory is quite the Renaissance man. Tuesday, June 26, I drove our van for the first time (Brent had been doing all the driving), and took the children and Rory to the skate park. Rory gave them all some simple lessons, then we headed back to his and his dad’s place for a pasta lunch, glass blowing demonstration and to check out all the interesting hobbies he has developed (bonsai trees, driftwood art, jewelry making, guitar and drums!!). We had a wonderful day catching up on life and interests, while Brent and Darcy stayed behind to work.
That evening we took my aunt to her aikido class on an old working horse farm several miles from town, then drove out to Chester for a snack and carried onto Gillette castle for sunset over the Connecticut River. (again, click for the larger images)
D25: Wednesday we drove down to Essex, where I was fascinated by the dates on the homes and businesses. We had drink in a shop that was originally built as a home in 1720. 1720!
Darcy treated us to the River Museum, which was more fascinating than I initially expected. So much history happened on the Connecticut River, and I feel I am finally at a point in my life were I can appreciate the past, while dragging my own children through it.
After we returned Darcy to her studio, we drove to Mystic to meet up with another childhood friend, Matt Manning and his wife Dorothy and daughter Lily. We began our visit with scoops of ice cream next to a very active draw bridge and then snuck into the book shop, record store (go ahead and try to explain records to your children who grew up on a digital system), and finished with play time at the park. Once again, far too few minutes with great people.
The bell was tolling and we headed back to Deep River to enjoy dinner with uncle Michel, Rory, Bess (Rory’s girlfriend), and Darcy on the eve of our departure.
We never rode our bicycles while in Deep River. The town was so quaint, it was more conducive to walking. It would have been quicker to ride, but everything was worth the time to see and breath in while strolling along. Drivers in this area we also different. Most of the posted speed limits in rural CT were 25-45mph. It was a slower pace of life overall.`
It was such a great pleasure to stay with my aunt. She has given me so many of my first experiences and has had the most influence in my life outside of my parents. Sharing my children with her was a joy. She hasn’t lost touch with the patience and nurturing she showed me as a little girl. Darcy currently lives a car-free life in that tiny town. She rides her bicycle out to the farm for meditation and enjoys the company of good friends who offer her a ride to the train station so she can frequent NYC. She’s built a fabulous community with her family in Deep River.