Our first weekend at Mill Brook RV was a reunion of old friends. My best friend growing up, Rick, and his wife Marielle (my big sis) had purchased a Grand Design Reflection 5th wheel earlier this year to replace the toy hauler trailer they sold last year. Even with a shortened camping season due to COVID-19, plus some health issues, they've managed to get in a good bit of camping (now glamping) this year. This weekend with friends was the end of their season in New Hampshire. We ended up getting about 10 people around a campfire and some nice grilled burgers and dogs. And wine. Lots of wine. Maybe it was just me having lots of wine. I'm not sure.
The rest of our time in New England was spent reacquainting ourselves and introducing our daughter and grandson to New England food and the Atlantic coast.
The food was covered by roast beef sandwiches (lean roast beef, white American cheese, served on either an onion roll for some or just a plain hamburger roll for others with BBQ sauce as an option), a New England specialty which puts Arby's to shame, or some of the best and freshest seafood on the planet. So a trip to the Clam Box in Georgetown, MA, Costello's in Plaistow, NH, and our favorite - Simard's Roast Beef in Wilmington were hit up early.
And of course, golf had to be played. My buddies I used to work with at Xerox years ago get together each week, and I'm usually able to make a guest appearance each trip up north. COVID shutdowns have caused a change in taking care of reservations for tee times. Some places require you to pay for your entire group at the time of the reservation. Others will hold the reservation for a couple of days while your players call in their individual payments. If a person needs to cancel, many are just giving a credit instead of a refund. Let's just say it's both confusing and a bit irritating.
As to my golf game, let's just say it still needs a LOT of work, as I have not been getting out as much as I planned to do when I first started retirement. But as they say, there I a never a bad day on the golf course.
While I was being taken through the torture rack known as Granite Fields Golf Course just 5 minutes away from our campsite, Barbara and Alicia had to keep Jace occupied and entertained – not always the easiest thing to do. Enter Demeritt Hill Farm. Nice petting area, apple picking, and the always present pictures with head cutouts for photo ops. There is nothing like New England apples fresh picked in the Fall.
One of the great joys about traveling with our grandson, Jace, is his fascination and love of water; in this particular case, the ocean. He loves any body of water, but he REALLY loves waves crashing onto the shore. Big or small waves, he's on it.
The first trip to the shore was to our, and Jace's favorite beach; Wingaersheek Beach in Gloucester, MA. A favorite of my Mom's and my Auntie Marge's when we were growing up as kids, because it's nestled in an inlet so any wave action is benign, and it's shallow so a four year-old can walk way out from shore and not get knocked over. It also features a sandbar that has been there for decades which gets exposed during low tide, but submerges during high tide. You don't even get your navel wet. Getting Jace out there doesn't take a lot of time, but getting him back to shore takes forever. I know; you're shocked, right? An afternoon well spent, and Jace comes back with a few seashells to bring to his Dad.
Next trip out was to a treasured place for both Barbara and me. Nubble Light in York, Maine was the site where I proposed to Barbara all those years ago, and it still holds a special place in our hearts. For Jace, it meant some serious rock climbing with Papa while waves came crashing into the shoreline. Nubble sits on a beautiful rocky promontory and stands as a beacon to provide safe harbor to fisherman and recreational boaters in southern Maine.
A cookout at my sister-in-law Debby's house gives us another visit with Dad, and a chance to see our nephew Mike, his wife Nicole, and their beautiful daughter Phoebe. Jace and Phoebe seem to get along very well, even if they can't get the whole see-saw thing down pat. Earlier in the week we had a short visit with my cousin Gary, his wife, Lisa, and my Uncle Don. Don and my Dad are the surviving patriarchs of the Fudge and Richard families.
IN an earlier edit of this page, I neglected to include another family visit; this time by Barbara's cousin Joy and her husband, Mike. Joy and Mike stopped by our site and brought gifts of wine for us, and activities for Jace. (good thing it wasn't the other way around!) Sorry, guys! It's hard to remember what I have for breakfast some mornings, let alone all the things that occurred almost a month ago!
Our final visit to the Maine shoreline holds great memories for Barbara. Officially known as Cape Elizabeth, it's commonly known as Two Lights. This is because there are actually two lighthouses still on site, as the older one was never disassembled when the newer, taller lighthouse was erected. Barbara's grandparents had a place in nearby Old Orchard Beach, and Two Lights is a short drive away. Many a summer day was spent by Barbara climbing the vast rocky shores. It's also a great place to get inspiration for the painting she used to do, and hopefully will again. Two Lights also features a small restaurant where we were able to have our final fill of fried clams and scallops.
A final night in New Hampshire with our best friends Rick and Marielle (and one of the best pepperoni and bacon pizzas I've ever eaten), and it was time to hit the road again. Bypassing Western RV Village in Carlisle, PA so as not to repeatour earlier boulder encounter, we stop at a place we stayed last year while on the way back from New England – Camp-A-While in Hegins, PA. Less than a mile down a steep hill off of I-81, it's halfway between Hazelton and Harrisburg. They have three pull-through sites they usually keep for transient RV's that need a lot of room without having to unhook our toad. A nice young couple bought it last year and they have been making improvements to the park, and it shows.
One final stop before dropping off Jace and Alicia was in Max Meadows, VA at Pioneer RV Village. It's our go-to stop heading north and south on I-81. Right at the junction of I-81 and I-77, it's a perfect one day drive to and from Georgia. It features large sites with small trees and an open meadow bordered by a meandering creek. Perfect for Jace to throw hickory nuts into to keep him entertained.
While New England is no longer our home, we still consider it to be something close to home. The food, the friends, and the family will always make it so. But our home now is wherever we park it. And even Grover is getting very comfortable on travel days when Barbara has a weak moment.
We're Dave and Barbara Richard, and we're living the ultimate retirement experience - traveling the U.S. and Canada in style in a Tiffin Open Road 36LA Class A motor home, playing golf and stopping at every weird and wacky roadside attraction we can find.