October 14 – day 14 of our USA tour – we have made it to North Carolina – visited four campgrounds – all different with a range of comfort, vistas, and weather. We have spent time with new and old friends and family. We have encountered all kinds of things from pouring sideways rain in Florida NY to bug infestations in Carlisle PA, heavy ground fog in Staunton VA, and glorious starry nights in Mt Airy NC. It has been both a learning experience, and great fun along the way. We have struggled with terrible WiFi, poor water pressure and hard water from wells, bugs, bugs and more bugs! But we have loved this experience and all the adventure.
We stayed a Big Bear Campground in Florida NY – a small town 46 miles north of NYC – we had a great New York City bus tour with stops at Ellis Island / Statue of Liberty, and Ground Zero/World Trade Centers Memorial – a touching reverent place. We had yummy pizza in a NYC pizzeria, a bumpy windy boat ride to the Statue, met some great folks from Fort Worth Texas with an Entegra Cornerstone motor home – a sweet ride! We spent two whole days in the bus sheltered from the rain during the early October storm.and left for Carlisle in the sun finally. There we spent four days visiting with Navy friends who we met in Boston 20 yrs ago – Bob & Sue – they took us to Gettysburg National Memorial Park & Museum – that was a very moving experience – the battleground is preserved perfectly with memorials scattered around the fields to the soldiers who fought and died – both North & South – over 21,000 in three days. The Museum was terrific, – the cyclorama oil painting of the battle first shown in Boston in 1913, has been restored and placed in a great new building. This museum presented the battle in great detail and it is a must stop for all Americans – a heavy reminder of the violence and vagaries of war. Day 2 in Carlisle area was spent in beautiful Lancaster County – Amish Country – where we visited farms, a home and learned a great deal about the Amish – they are simple, peaceful people who live among the English as they call those who are not members of their faith (us). They do not live in separate communities here but make great neighbors and are industrious and hard-working people. All of their work is done without machines, personal telephones, televisions, computers, cars, trucks etc. They use propane or wood to heat their homes and might have 1 emergency telephone that they share with other families. They farm large tracts of land with horse & mule drawn tractors and plows. They raise corn and other crops as well as herds of milk providing cows. They pay taxes but rarely vote and do not participate in politics – they say it takes them away from God. We stopped at a market to buy some produce and jellies.jams – they were very welcoming – it was a delightful experience. We were impressed by their kindness and support of each other. They treat each other – men & women equally and all share in the work and benefits of their productivity. They have a great community spirit we could learn from, although we found their lack of buttons & zippers on clothes to be odd. The Amish came to America by the early 1700s upon invitation from William Penn. They sought refuge from persecution in Europe for the practice of their faith and their culture has not changed much since then. We saw a number of schools – the kids attend only until eighth grade and then they work full-time with their families on their farms ands business. It is worth a visit and it is a good reminder of how many people are here in America for their freedom!
The following day we went in the opposite cultural direction – The Hollywood Casino & Penn National Racecourse – to enjoy a relaxing dinner while watching with horse races. It was a cool way to spend an evening. Carlisle was an interesting place to visit with some typically American small city architecture – surrounded by growing suburbs that have not lost their rural feel – especially with occasional Amish farms along the boundaries. The farmland is rich and productive with sweeping vistas of corn and cows. We departed Western Village RV Park on a great sunny day to travel.
We made it to Staunton/ Walnut Hills KOA by early afternoon and had time to drop into our grand-daughter Rachael’s volleyball game at her high school in Highland County. Friday was spent relaxing little as we try to do after each travel day. That evening we joined our son and his family – grand daughters, Rachael & Katie at their beautiful home high atop a hill in Doe Hill VA. I had a night ride in a ATV with Katie driving to fetch some hay for her horses. I did wear a helmet, but she’s a mighty good driver! On the way back to the house we awakened some cows and saw two big deer darted across the path in front of us. Rachael introduced us to her menagerie of pets – even a small hedgehog. Lenny enjoyed meeting dogs – Gunner & Molly as well as two cats who were pretty friendly. Saturday was spent at the Virginia Horse Center watching Katie ride Darby in several courses. It was cloudy and cold so this was not an optimal day but we did meet Katie’s new horse Bly, who is a beauty. We brought Rachael back to the Taj with us to get warm and tour the bus. The family joined us for a visit that evening. On Sunday Chris et all took us to the mountain nearby where Bradford proposed to Amy and we had some great foliage photo opportunities. I also got to meet some cows up close & personal including Katie’s prize wining Angus cow. It is beautiful country and we were lucky to be there in peak leaf peeping season. The hair pin turns through the mountains to Doe Hill were great photo chances – but neither Lenny or I loved them – Rick did a great job driving the CRV – we did not take the Taj… We plan to return to Staunton & this KOA in late April 2016. It was great to spend a few days with them all, catching up and getting the tour of their home & community.
Mount Airy was our next stop – the home of Any Griffith – which we did not know until we arrived! At Mayberry Campground we have a spectacular site overlooking the park – this is just below the Blue Ridge Mountain Plateau area – after traveling south from the Appalachian and Blue Ridge Mountains, this is a welcome change. The stars at night here are spectacular as we are far from the glow of city lights. Yesterday, we visited the small Andy Griffith museum and enjoyed memories of a calmer time in our lives. This stop here was a chance to recharge our human batteries after a week and half of driving, setting up camp every four days and visiting friends & family.
We depart Mt Airy NC tomorrow for Mount Pleasant/Charleston KOA where we will be for two months – till early December. Photograph coming shortly – after I download them.