Tuesday, April 26, 2011

1st Camping Trip of the 2011 Season

We are just back from, not only our first camping trip of the season, but the first trip with our new camper. Last year we started the tradition of naming our campsites...this came after we stayed in New Jersey at a campground on a "farm like" setting. I'm a sucker for rolling hills and baby animals frolicking in the sunshine. Oh sure, they rolled out the piglets, baby bunnies, and newborn lambs. In fact, a goat was born minutes after we arrived - it was adorable. However, we ended up naming that campsite "Toxic Waste Dump" after realizing we must have been on a former landfill. Baby animals or not, Little Kelly doesn't camp on trash. In fact, this is where we inherited the THOUSANDS of ants that invaded our camper (see previous post from last year).

Anyways, I digress. I do ALOT of research on every place we visit. I'll admit it...I have a binder for each trip. It includes our itinerary for each day, menu for each day, frequent recipes so I can just whip them up on the road, and various brochures on the location we are visiting. This trip was no different. I did tons of research and in fact, we initially wanted to stay on Tybee Island but the one campground there did not get good reviews. We ended up staying at a campground in Savannah that got great reviews and even though the website wasn't extensive, the pictures all looked fantastic. And yes, there were rolling fields and animals...a barn full of horses, goats, a beautiful pool, and a fishing pond.

We arrived to find the campground right off a fairly major road....similar to Rt.9. The rolling fields in the picture turned out to be one big open green field with only 12 camper sites around it. There was a fire pit...one small one for everyone in the middle of the field. On the right was a grain store....where apparently every farmer in Savannah, and apparently there are a lot of them, was pulling in every few minutes. The barn did have horses but they appeared to be a bit underweight. The fishing pond was beautiful but you couldn't stay for more than a minute because the bugs swarmed you like a used car salesman on a Sunday afternoon. And yes, there was a pool that looked fantastic...glistening in the sun...but it was locked and we couldn't get in. Apparently there were in the process of being "re-certified"..whatever that meant...and the pool was closed. This was the site we saw after driving for two days. Breathe.

The alarm went off at 2:45 am on Saturday morning. We were on the road by 3:45. Our destination: Kelly & Dave's in Mount Pleasant, SC...a 17 hour drive. It was raining when we left and only got worse. By the time we hit Virginia it was raining in sheets...sideways. Let me be clear, Virginia isn't for lovers...it's for traffic lovers. We spent 7 1/2 mind numbing hours driving through this traffic mecca. At one point, I had dozed off. The car was hot, I had only gotten about 4 hours of sleep, and the rain was lulling me to sleep. I woke up to Tim frantically pulling off the highway mumbling "I can't take it....must stop..." Let's be clear. Timmy never gets flustered by things. He's a steady eddy that just deals with things very calmly. That is until he sits in 7 1/2 hours of traffic, hauling a camper, and being pelted by sheets of rain. It was on this trip that I learned what can break Timmy. We pulled into a Stop & Shop and he walked around the parking lot in the pouring rain. After we all took a bathroom break and we looked at the map, we decided to try and alternate route. Timmy's spirits rose...until we reached the alternate route...and the traffic that was stopped dead in its tracks.

It was at this point that we heard on the radio "There is a tornado warning for blah, blah county...and if you can hear this, that means you may be affected." Now, this isn't the first time we have heard either a tornado or hurricane warning while we were camping. Typically we see or hear it on the news listing a variety of counties that might be affected. We never know what county we are in so on one hand, I appreciated that the warning said we may be impacted, but on the other hand, I didn't want to be meet by a tornado. It was around this time that Kelly started texting me to say that a tornado was headed in our direction and we should use caution. We stopped for dinner and asked the waiter about it...he didn't seem phased at all and said it didn't seem to be a big deal. In fact, everyone and their mother seemed to be out on the road or in the restaurant.

Now, I am not a super religious person but I do have strong faith and I do believe that things happen for a reason...and that God's plan is behind those reasons. Well, I think God was behind the 7 1/2 hours of traffic in Virginia...because if we hadn't hit that snaffu, we would have been right in the middle of the tornados that hit North Carolina. I am a firm believer that God was on our side, after seeing the damage the next morning. We ended up staying just over the North Carolina border for the night and started out on the road around 6 am the next day. Within a 1/2 hour on the road, we came across the devestation. A whole mobile home park had been destroyed..nothing left but what looked like trash. It was actually the homes pulverized into little bits. You could see the line where the tornado came through. There were trees snapped into jagged pieces and billboards were decimated on the highway. There were trees down in sporadic spots for miles. I am thankful for the traffic that day...honestly, I think it saved our lives.

I have so much more to say about this trip but I'm going to break it up into smaller posts. Hopefully you'll be so intrigued with this post, that you'll come back for more! Stay tuned for our visit to South Carolina and Savannah, Ga!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Lip Goiters

When I got on the train this morning I moved quickly down the aisle to an empty three-seater. Turns out it wasn't empty at all, but rather taken up by a sleeper laying down. At that point I had to back track to find a seat....and I took the closest one to me because people were barreling down on me. Imagine my surprise when I realized I was next to the Riiipppper. AAAAHHHH! Lucky for me though, he was not into ripping this morning. Apparently he has replaced this compulsive habit with obsessively highlighting almost every line of a text book. Sqqquuueeak...sqqquueakk. Holy Highlighter.

The week before vacation is never good when you are trying to fit in about 2 weeks worth of work so you can actually enjoy your vacation, while trying to get everything packed and ready at home. And by everything packed I mean getting my new Preppy Playhouse ready to go on the road, packing for myself and two kids, cooking and freezing meals ahead of time, while trying to keep my house in order so it doesn't look like a bomb blew up when I get home. Yeah...it's been quite a week.

Yesterday afternoon I could feel the telltale sign of a cold sore coming on. I didn't have any of my "potions" with me so by the time I got home Mt. Vesuvius had erupted. AAAHHH!! For those that have had a cold sore, you'll understand when I say that you think it is as large as a goiter hanging off your face and that EVERYONE is looking at it. I remember going to visit my cousin in NYC, sporting a lip goiter, and I felt like a leper. Here we were going to these fun, funky restaurants and bars and people were literally recoiling when they looked at me. It was a total buzz kill.

I don't get a lot of cold sores but I have recently gotten better at stopping them dead in their tracks so I'll share my secrets with you. For those that live in Hopkinton, our local pharmacy makes its own "secret potion" called Lickety Split. It comes in this container with a homemade label. For all I know, the thing could be made out of cat urine and rat poison...but let me tell you...it does a great job clearing these things up fast. I put a layer of that on, then I double up with some Abreva...it never hurts to double up. However, I think my secret weapon is that as soon as I feel it coming on, I take two Lysine tablets which is an effective vitamin that can counteract cold and canker sores. Technically I should be taking them daily but I forget so instead I take them when I feel it coming on and then for the next few days until it goes away. I took 2 vitamins yesterday, 2 today, and it's virtually gone! Try it out if you suffer from lip goiters.

This week, after all the laundry, cooking, packing, and stressing is done, we will be on our way early Saturday morning (hopefully by 4 am) to our first destination - South Carolina! We are so looking forward to our first camping trip of the season, especially in our new camper. I'm sure I will have some good posts when I return! Rest assured I will have all my "secret potions" with me, just in case.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Things Happen For a Reason

April Fool's Day brought 3" of snow and a morning full of trickery. But, let me back up a bit. When we were in Ocean City, Maryland last year, we saw a camper like ours but with 3 pop out beds. The kids have been sharing a queen size bed since we got the camper, which wasn't a problem initially, but over the last year, we have spent countless camping nights listening to "He's on my side!" and "Her foot is touching me!". Up to this point, we had been able to drown them out with wine. But in the back of our mind, we had been entertaining trading in our camper for one more bed. Don't get me wrong...we love our camper! But, we finally found one we liked and decided to put ours for sale and just roll the dice. We decided if we sold it by last weekend at the latest, it was meant to be. If not, we were happy to keep our camper and head out on our first trip of the 2011 season to Savannah, Ga for April vacation.

We immediately had interest but it didn't sell. The first people that came to see it were very interested...a man, his wife, and two pre-teen daughters. They were pop up campers thinking about moving up. We figured the full bath would be the selling point for them, but turns out, they don't mind using the camper bathrooms. Hold the phone, Peeps. Are you kidding me? Who would rather use a public bathroom as opposed to their own private bathroom? Freaks. Cut. It. Out. They didn't deserve the camper.

The ad expired last Saturday and we began to prepare for our April vacation trip. Sunday morning came and brought a call from an interested party that must have written down our number before the ad disappeared. He came on Monday to see the camper and an hour later Jack saw our camper driving down the road when he was on his way home from school. A little surprising...for all of us.

Tim worked all week to find and purchase our next camper and we had planned to pick it up on Friday in Albany, NY. We decided to surprise the kids on April Fool's Day. We let them sleep in and then I woke them up at 7:30 saying "We all overslept! School is starting right now...we have to get up and get going!" They both had the same reaction..."Yeah, right Mom...April Fool's Day." I said, "Look at the clock...we are late!" They both snapped into action and ran to get dressed. It was then that I told them I had already called them in sick...they were skipping school...and we were driving to NY to pick up our new camper!! They were so psyched! Well, let me be honest...I was so excited to surprise them. I wish people would surprise me more...I LOVE surprises! Mimi bought right into it and loved the surprise. Jack asked if he could go to school instead of driving back and forth to NY. Clearly he doesn't have my genes. When I reminded him that his parents were letting him skip school and he could watch DVD's most of the day, he loosened right up.

It was a long day...we left while it was snowing and it snowed/rained all day...we didn't get back home until 7 pm...but it was well worth it. The new camper is awesome!! It feels enormous even though the camper is only 2 feet longer than our other one. A few upgrades other than the third bed, though...heated mattresses (which will come in handy in the fall), more storage space, built in fans and book lights for each bed, and a double sink. We have been busy this weekend...packing up and doing "tours" for our friends. We can't wait to try it out!

Our first trip will be on April vacation. We intend to travel 17 hours our first day, all the way to South Carolina to visit our friends the Ranneys who recently moved there. We miss them and can't wait to check out Charleston and spend some time with them. I will say, last year when we drove to Disney, we made it this far in a day so we know we can do it...although a bit painful...but it can be done. Thank God our kids have been used to road trips since they were born!

From there we will hunker down in Savannah for the week. Tim and I went to Savannah with a few friends for a long weekend before we were married and totally fell in love with the place. It's rich with history and has a great arts community and we can't wait to introduce the kids to it. We hope to spend a fair amount of time exploring the Georgia coast, specifically Tybee Island and Jekyll Island where they have a sea turtle rescue center...right up Jack's alley.

It will be the first time we don't get dressed up for Eatster...or have Easter dinner. Instead we'll be wearing "comfy" pants and if we are lucky, we'll have ham sandwiches. But I know, above all else, we will have an awesome adventure!