Fresh Adventures Afoot

As we get ready to leave on our next set of adventures, I thought I’d post a few pix from home, to remind us of what we’re leaving behind in July. Among the things I think we’ll miss greatly (besides our dogs) is the elevation’s temperatures that have not matched the heat wave crushing the rest of the country. Our highs over the past few days have been in the high 80s. Like much of the country, we’ve had high humidity due to afternoon thunderstorms, but we’re certainly not suffering like we might be suffering in a couple of days.

So here’s a pictorial Ode to Home.

And some shots from the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Journey’s End

Thursday, January 11, 2018 •

Jack spotted a Cooper’s hawk perched near our site as we drank our morning beverages. There are tons of owls we heard talking to one another last night and this AM—Jack is pretty sure they’re barred owls, as the hoots are not quite deep enough to be great horned owls.

The warm morning (high 40s) has caused a thick blanket of fog over all at dawn. The moon was bright and clear, but all around the ground is fog. At the dock, once the fog lifted (a little wind and a little sunshine) “our” swans were heading in small groups over to the feeding grounds.

We had a leisurely beverage time followed by oatmeal for breakfast, not being in any great hurry to leave, even if we are in a parking lot. When Barbara and Mike were nearly ready to hitch, Barbara gave me a bit of a tutorial on the caravan mover from Safari Condo, and I made their Moon Shadow trailer dance around the parking lot.

We got away in the 11 range again, looking forward to a nice shower at North Bend. With an uneventful drive (saw various raptors) we arrived at North Bend around 2 and Mike and Barbara, who had stopped for fuel, were shortly behind us. We set up in site 51 again, with them next door, in 53. It was really nice to set up our awning, but we did not unhitch nor do a full set-up inside. Rain was imminent, so the awning was nice, and then we had our lovely showers.

B&M had a look around at the varied sites in this open section, showered, and then joined us for a glass of adult beverage and some cheese and crackers. I fixed a “taco pie” recipe (I’d found it on the back of a cheese package) that called for crescent roll dough in a tube for the crust. I fixed it in the Omnia according to the directions, and then (because I used the silicon liner) dumped it on a plate on its head to serve, but it is not a recipe I’d repeat. Camping with a taco salad on the menu, having pre-mixed the taco meat (as I’d done this time) would be far easier and much more tasty. I definitely missed what the recipe for the pie left out (lettuce, tomato, salsa) and I found the crescent roll crust to be too sweet (and it got kind of hard on the bottom).

Anyway, it was a good experiment, and we’re not throwing the leftovers away, but it will be challenging to get back home. Jack figures it would be good sliced while cold and re-heated in a frying pan, accompanied by eggs for an “upside down day” type of dinner.

Read for a while after dinner and hit the hay early, with the rain fully in gear, pounding against the roof, blowing through the trees and a little under the awning. But that’s camping!

Friday, January 12, 2018

The rain kept us awake off and on during the night, but we never had to crank any of the heaters. Early, we decided against the propane furnace (and piled some stuff in front of the exhaust ports outside under the awning) and figured if needed, the electric heater would do (and we have a remote control for it).

But the sleeping was mostly warm, with both of us kicking off our sleeping bags during the night. When we arose around 7A, to a gray foggy day, the temps were 65 inside and 58 outside. Don’t need to bundle up to go for the morning ablutions.

Honda and Roomba are filthy with road grime, even after the rains, so Jack wants to mount an expedition to find a drive through, self-serve car wash en route. The forecast is for very cold nights again in Meadows of Dan starting tonight, and we didn’t see any options for car washes on our way. So we thought we would just re-hitch and take Roomba into Floyd when the weather eases and wash up there.

Got home and our house sitters were still there, so we moved my car and parked Roomba in front of the garage, intending to back it up to the house for unloading (and if the weather cooperated, maybe a hand-wash?). We chatted with our helpers until the rain began again (among the discussion topics was the death of the “box” that runs our internet and TV) and backed Roomba up the drive when they’d gone. I managed to get everything that would freeze out of the camper and the truck, and we left everything else for a dryer day. The house was plenty hot and the rain came down in earnest, but we called to see if a service worker might be in the neighborhood to replace our internet box.

Happily, 20 minutes later, Rocky showed up and he efficiently replaced the old with a new one, and set us all up for weekend entertainment. While he was moving in and out to fetch stuff from his truck, we just left the front door open, it was so warm.

But not for long. By dark, the temperature was plummeting (although the rain had stopped) and we knew that by the morning, we’d have to build a small fire in the kitchen for extra warmth.

It was great to snuggle with the dogs and settle back into the good old home routine. But the birds will be memorable forever. Maybe we’ll go back next year? Maybe we’ll find migrating birds elsewhere. Who knows what next January will bring?

Next up: a trip in April to eastern Virginia, to camp with Alto friends at First Landing State Park near Virginia Beach. At least we won’t have to think about packing for freezing weather.

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Ciao, Occoneechee

We had another leisurely awakening and breakfast for our last day in camp (March 24, 2016). Noticed a lot of pollen on the car, table tops, and Roomba. From certain angles, the exterior appeared green instead of Roomba’s normal blue.

Another short bicycle “prowl” through the entire campground was on the schedule, and we visited closed-off camping areas, two marinas, and took the roller-coaster road out to and back from the equestrian camping center again. Ended up putting about 11 miles on the year’s tally.

During the ride we saw two more red-tailed hawks, and at least two red-headed woodpeckers. It is very weird to hear blue jays mimicking hawks/osprey and they had us fooled several times during our stay here.

I forgot to mention that, while in camp yesterday AM, we watched a (probably) nursing momma squirrel emerge from her cavity nest and just sun herself on the side of a tree, alternately stretching her front limbs, and taking an enormous yawn. Then she just “hung” there, plastered to the side of the tree, head-downwards, presumably warming herself for a while before returning to her hole.

It was pretty hot as we returned to camp, but the wind picked up (again), and we had lunch before beginning the stow-and-pack process. We began rolling out toward the dump station, to finalize the de-winterizing process, at about 2:30P.

  
Completely uneventful drive home, although we felt like it was almost entirely uphill from Danville to Meadows of Dan: about 2 hours of the drive. By the time we were trying to back Roomba up the gravel drive into the garage, the Soobie-Roo was decidedly hot. Had to take a few re-tries to get everything aligned right, and finally unhitched to let the TV (tow vehicle) rest and cool down.

We had a brief thought that we’d make Happy Hour at our local in Floyd (Dogtown Road House) but it was simply too late and frankly, we were tired. Strange, how sitting in a car for a few hours can make one feel exhausted. But, as light as an Alto is, hauling any type of trailer is just somewhat more stressful than simply driving. In addition, I always stress out trying to back Roomba into his chalet.

Saved all the unpacking until Friday, and we’re definitely getting into a “groove” on that front. It went quickly and easily, especially since we planned very well for our food needs this time, and didn’t have too much left to remove from Roomba’s ‘fridge to the house.

We’re thinking this will have to be a more frequent trip than only on our anniversary. Occoneechee State Park is truly lovely and there’s lots of cycling opportunities at and near the park.

Ciao, Occoneechee. Until next time.

  

The End

Posting my last entry about our Baltic Adventure from home.

After the 12-hour train ride south from Copenhagen, we dragged our tired selves onto yet one more train ride from Munich Central out to nearby Dachau City. Our lodging for the two nights there was a lovely family-operated, cozy place run by folks who were kind enough to await our late arrival. It’s the Hotel Drei Löwen, or Hotel Three Lions, and I totally recommend it. It is nicely decorated, too, and offers an enormous aquarium in the breakfast room, plus a cocktail bar.

Our first night, we ate at an excellent Greek restaurant called Santorin — ate extremely well, I must say. It is not often that a restaurant serves up more food than Jack and I can eat, but this one did. Possibly, the fact that it was about ten o’clock at night had something to do with it, but we ate until we were stuffed anyway, and still had to apologize for sending food back to the kitchen.

Dachau is far more than the concentration camp memorial. It is a quite lovely, very Bavarian mid-sized city with a thriving arts scene and an old town to visit. We even walked past a gay bar on our wanderings. We were unable to do the actual city its deserved justice on our short visit, and it is definitely one of the places we have put on our “do-over” (or “more”) list.

After our full day at the memorial and museum, we had another splendid meal at an excellent Italian restaurant, so the eatings in the city are worth the visit, also. We tried to find the Bavarian restaurant our hosts recommended, but either we misunderstood or it was closed the nights we were there. So no schnitzel while we were in Bavaria, I’m sorry to report.

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It was rainy for the entirety of our visit, so I don’t have many photos outside of the memorial. The weather was totally appropriate for our primary goal in our side-trip to Dachau, which, of course, was to visit the memorial itself.

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The Dachau Memorial is a really great exhibit, even if the subject matter is difficult and troubling. Everyone should visit this place because there is much to be learned that did not make it into the history books. The organizers have done a wonderful job of making it accessible, with tons and tons of period photographs and documents preserved, presented, and explained. The audio guide offers loads of reference points and you can call up oral history remembrances of certain aspects of the camp’s routines, people, facilities, history, and culture, recorded from survivors of all nations and heritages. It is definitely worth the 3.50 Euros to get the guide.

There are at least 5 of the original buildings to be walked through, and the gate house and watch towers are all in their original positions. Exterior to the memorial grounds are buildings that were used by the SS then, and are now being used today, but are not part of the exhibits. The enormous museum, which begins its exhaustive exhibits with an entire room of information that goes a very long way toward explaining how fascism was able to gain a significant foothold in Germany after WWI, is enough of a destination that it should probably be a stand-alone exploration, while the camp itself (which is enormous) could use up an entire day itself. If time is tight, it was for us, the entirety can be done in a very long day (we were there for about 5-6 hours). It is a must for any European history buff.

There are several faith-based memorials on the grounds placed since the camp has been converted into a historical exhibit, and they are interesting and lovely in and of themselves. Other memorials (to the liberators; to the unknown/unnamed dead; to the survivors; etc.) reside in the camp, all of which encourage us all to remember, and to learn.

In case the subject matter is NOT something you would want to explore further, I have decided to hyperlink the photos I took with the iPhone, rather than directly upload them here. So, if you ARE interested in seeing a sampling of what I saw, feel free to check them out HERE.

Because we expected more rain on the 20-minute walk to the rail station, and because of our uncertainties regarding finding the linking train from Munich Central to the airport (that walking and training choice would have forced us to begin our travels some hour-and-a-half earlier than we did), we caught a cab at 7:30AM, and in 20 minutes, began the check-in process for our flight home. As it turned out, we left before any rain began, but I’m glad we spent the 50 Euros for the cab anyway, as our total travel time to get home was 21 hours as it was (including a 4-hour layover in Atlanta).

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Munich Airport Blue Skies

We rolled into the driveway from the Greensboro Airport at about midnight EST. Stef has kept the home fires warm and the critters happy, and all is well with the world, as we try to re-integrate into our “normal” lives.

Next stop: Falconry Season!

Thanks for listening.

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