We began our third year on the road with an overnight stay in Pine Grove, PA followed by a stop in Max Meadows, VA. Our next stop was supposed to be for a visit to Charleston, SC but after hearing about flooding in the area that was only going to get worse we made the decision to visit Charleston another time. We ended up in Hardeeville, SC for a 1 night stop before heading off to St. Augustine, Florida. We had some beautiful weather in St. Augustine and we were finally able to enjoy a visit to the Castillo de San Marcos. This is the old fort in St. Augustine that Claudia and I wanted to visit 2 years ago but couldn’t due to the government shutdown. After that we did a bit of shopping and had lunch on a patio at the Bull & Crown along one of the historic walking areas. We enjoyed some time at the beach the following day with Stella before heading back in time to watch a Pats game at Buffalo Wild Wings. They won of course. On the following day we headed off as planned to our first stop in Orlando. Once we arrived at the campground and as we were bringing out the long slide out, unfortunately we had a problem. The slide out came out but the 2 top cables (one on each side) had snapped. One was completely broken and the other was hanging by a few strands. We found a place that ordered new cables but couldn’t replace them or inspect the slide out until several days later when we were scheduled to be in Fort Wilderness. The question remaining was whether or not the slide out would come back in. In the meantime, all we could do was relax and try to have some fun so we headed off for some miniature golf and an all you can eat pizza buffet. While in Orlando Claudia and I took a stroll down to historic Church Street Station before taking a short walk to meet up with some friends of ours, James & Laurel. Once we met up we had a great time reminiscing while also enjoying drinks and dinner at the Harp & Celt Restaurant & Irish Pub. The following night, we treated ourselves to a dinner show called the Pirate’s Dinner Adventure. It was an awesome show with lots of entertaining music, singing and action in an arena complete with a full scale pirate ship. On the next day, it was time to try the slide out. It wasn’t easy but the slide out did come back in after some manual intervention. That meant we were able to make the short drive over to Fort Wilderness and settle in while we waited for my sister’s family. We headed over to Downtown Disney late that afternoon and met up with them there about 7. We called it an early night and then met up with them again the following day, this time at Magic Kingdom. There we enjoyed riding Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, It’s a Small World, Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain. We had beautiful weather and really enjoyed just hanging out together. That night we headed off to their room at the Old Key West Resort to watch the Pats game and what a great game it was. It was wonderful to watch the Indy’s fans “deflate” when their own team made one of the dumbest NFL plays ever. On the following day, I spent my time at the RV with the RV Repair guys. We had to remove plenty of inside woodwork to get to the cables but the biggest obstacle seemed to be the realignment of the slide out up until a 3rd cable snapped. That meant that the crew would have to return in 2 days, this time with their Service Manager to assist. The next day we brought Stella over to a kennel for the day while we enjoyed a long day at Hollywood Studios. There we enjoyed plenty of rides and shows including Rock ‘in Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror & Star Tours. I headed back to the RV early to pick Stella up at the kennel while Claudia hung around with my sister Linda and some of her family for what she described as one of the best laser, water and light shows she’s ever seen. As planned, the RV service guys returned the following day and after several hours were able to repair all cables and realign the slide out. We still needed to drop the RV off at a certified Thor dealer for more extensive service at some point but we were hopeful these repairs would get us through till then. We ended our Disney trip with visits to Animal Kingdom and Epcot over the next couple of days before we began our road trip to Texas. Regardless of the slide out issues, we really had great time that whole week in Disney with my sister and her family. There were 11 of us in all including 2 kids, Gabby, the littlest at 1 year old and Olivia who is 8. They definitely helped make it magical.
As we pulled into the driveway at my sister’s house where we planned to spend the next couple of months, Stella all of a sudden realized where she was and then literally cried out in delight. At that same moment, my niece’s dog Tank, who had been waiting for us, also saw Stella. The reaction of those 2 dogs crying and playing as they got together after being apart for 10 months was a perfect demonstration of the feelings that Claudia and I felt about arriving back home again. On that first day we were able to spend time with all of my sister’s family as well as with my daughter Melissa and her family including Jon and Grace, now 4 and 2. When they arrived, Jon couldn’t get out of his car seat fast enough while it took Grace less than 30 minutes to be in our arms and running around with us again. So much for worrying that they wouldn’t remember us. We were treated to a great bbq dinner and a nice fire that night where we could just enjoy being with everyone. Over the next week we enjoyed more time with Melissa, Jon and Grace, scrubbed the bugs and dirt off the motor home, traveled back to our old home town in Lexington and made a trip to New Hampshire for a visit with Claudia’s dad. Next we enjoyed visits with my son Billy and his girlfriend Kerri along with our 3 granddaughters and Kerri’s 2 kids in NH where we enjoyed a wonderful visit and a delicious BBQ they had prepared for us. That evening we enjoyed a performance of Disney musical excerpts in which oldest granddaughter Kaylie and Kerri’s son Frankie performed. It was a great show and they were both such naturals. The following weekend we headed off on a planned camping trip at Pine Acres Campground in Oakham, MA. We brought Jon and Grace with us. My daughter and her husband joined us on Friday so we were able to enjoy some quality alone time with the kids before they arrived. They were both so good. We also had with us our 6 year old granddaughter Mari that night. Claudia’s daughter Laura stopped in on Thursday to drop her off until she was able to return on Saturday. That meant we had a 2, 4 and 6 year old to ourselves. They really were great but Grampy and Grammy definitely started to run out of gas. It got easier once Melissa & her husband Josh arrived the next day and then on Saturday we had another break when Laura arrived for the night. During our stay we were able to enjoy both the people beach and the dog beach which Stella used to hone her new swimming skills. We also took advantage of the pool, watched the Princess and Pirate Dance for the kids and of course, ate ice cream. We had several fires and many hours of social time. Once we returned to our home base at my sister’s house we were finally able to make a trip to Cape Cod for an overdue visit with my Mom. It was so great to finally be able to sit and chat with her. I’m not sure if I could keep up on this web page if it wasn’t for her interest and enthusiasm with everything we’re doing. We started September off with a nice visit over Labor Day weekend at our old campground in CT where we were able to enjoy the company of so many of our great friends there. We left that Monday morning after spending almost 2 hours walking around and saying goodbye to everyone. Unfortunately, the day didn’t continue well because as I took the final turn into my sister’s driveway with the motor home, I turned too sharp and the rear of the coach scraped my brother in law’s car causing $10,000 damage to the coach and another $1500 damage to his car. From this point forward began the tedious process of filing paperwork, getting an insurance adjustment and bringing the motor home to a repair shop that could take care of us right away. Fortunately, just after the accident we did have some good fortune in the form of a wonderful distraction. We received the call that we were waiting for from Josh that Melissa was in labor so off we went to their home to care for Jon and Grace. The next morning we learned the wonderful news that we have a new healthy grandson Thomas. We enjoyed the next few days taking care of his brother and sister while also enjoying a visit to the hospital to meet him. Since then they’ve all returned home healthy and happy. We loved the quality time we had with the kids but we definitely felt our age over those 4 days. Next it was time to just wait and see on the motor coach. We learned that there was no structural or mechanical damage, mostly just damage that was limited to the rear fiberglass panel. It could have been so much worse. While waiting on the coach we received the heartbreaking news that we lost a dear friend. The owner of our campground in CT passed away suddenly. This man was the heart and soul of this campground where we spent the last ten summers before retiring and he will be forever missed. He and his wife were good friends who welcomed us into their home in Florida many times. We were glad to be around in order to attend a gathering of his family and friends which was held at his son’s home in CT. Hopefully that gathering will help heal the hearts of so many people who loved him. The body work and the painting on the coach were finally completed on 10/2. Unfortunately, due to the accident in the motor home along with some irritating repair work that our RV Service facility couldn’t seem to fix, we’re heading off without a ladder and with only the driver side wiper that won’t shut off once it’s started unless the motor home is turned off. What can we say? It’s just part of the adventure. This year we had to leave our new grandson behind who will have to get to know us all over again in May when we return. We know the drill since we’ve been through this before 2 years ago with Grace who now knows who we are and gets excited every time she sees us. We do a lot of Face Time with them, and as Jon told Grace: “Grammy and Grampy are just going back into the computer”. This year we also got close to our 1 year old grandniece for the first time so this seems to be an annual event for us. And it’s not only Claudia and I who feel the loss. Poor Stella will definitely feel the loss too. Every day she looked forward to and spent time with one or more of her pack. She’ll miss her energetic wrestling pal Minnie, her lounging buddy Tank and her lovable and energetic friend Simon. Two days before we hit the road we were able to spend a wonderful day at the Topsfield Fair to see Kaylie and Frankie perform in another musical production. We totally enjoyed the show and the kids were great but even more importantly we were able to spend the day with all of our kids and grandkids as well as several members of my sister’s family. It was the best way to say goodbye.
Ed and Claudia always dreamed of retiring and travelling the country in their motorhome. They retired in 2013 and this is the continuing story of their adventures on the road.