Our intended trip to New England to visit friends and family having been canceled due to COVID-19 this past June, we FINALLY get the go-ahead to make the trip in late September – early October. Our earlier trip was put off due to private campgrounds and interstate rest areas being closed along our way, and while we could have stayed somewhere in New England to do our visiting at that time, the prospect of me driving 24 hours straight made our June trip impossible.
Not that we still didn't encounter some issues along the way in September. Massachusetts state government kept changing their rules for RVers so much that certain campgrounds stopped taking reservations from out-of-staters because they got tired of refunding money. Maine still insisted on a 14-day quarantine for people traveling from certain areas (areas we had traveled to and from). New Hampshire finally got around to allowing out-of-staters to finally come in to private parks, but not into state parks, limiting our choices And to top it all off, some campgrounds were limiting their discounts to try to recoup losses suffered during the early part of camping season.
It was a mess.
Finally, some friends of ours were able to secure a couple of weekend sites for themselves and a relative for them to camp with, and a spot was also available for us for our 2 week stay. Mill Brook RV Park in Kingston, NH became our go-to campground for the second straight year. It's well situated to hit the NH coast, Maine and Massachusetts from one location, so it was perfect for us.
Also similar to last year, we had our grandson, Jace, with us. Fortunately for us, we also had Jace's mom, our daughter Alicia, with us this year to play the role of cat-herder. Jace is the proverbial cat.
Our drive up was a bit different this year, in that our usual place to stay, Pioneer RV Village in Max Meadows, VA (right where I-77 and I-81 meet) was fully booked for the one night we needed. It's a great park with wide, grassy pull-through sites that are perfect for the one-night stand (and longer stays). So after trying all other parks in the area and coming up empty, we found a Harvest Host site called Draper Village / Draper Mercantile. There were 3 parking spots available at a farm up the road from the Mercantile (don't pull into the Mercantile itself as it doesn't have a way for you to turn around or back out), and you can take a short walk to the Mercantile once you get settled in. Unfortunately for them, we got in late and left early, so everything was closed by the time we got around to supporting our hosts. The Mercantile looks interesting, so maybe next time.
It was very foggy and dark when we left the next morning, which gave me an opportunity to see if the headlights that had been adjusted in Red Bay last November were still working correctly (they were). Barbara followed me through the streets of Draper and onto I-81 North in the Mini, as I didn't want to reconnect the toad in those conditions. Mated everything back up at a rest area about 30 miles north where the sun was up and the fog had dissipated.
Our second night's stay on the way north was, frankly, a disaster. Unless you were Jace. He got a playground. We stayed at Western Village RV Park in Carlisle, PA, a park we used last year as a base for the Hershey RV Show and our trip further north. Barbara had called ahead, requesting our typical pull-through site. The spacious sites up front for “transients” were all booked, but the person on the other end of the line said she did have a pull-through in another section of the park. Understand, we ALWAYS tell people at parks that we're a 38 foot Class A motor home with a tow vehicle when asking for a site.
Well, we got a pull-through, but it was better suited access-wise to a short travel trailer. Narrow site, with large boulders on one side and trees on the other, extending to the back and front of the site, so when morning came there was little room for me to take the turn out of the campsite.
Long story short, the large tail swing on our 36LA was too much to make it's way past a boulder on the passenger side exit, and we caved in our rear basement bay door and some fiberglass on our rear cap. We also bent back the steel fender on our tow dolly. I was seriously pissed!
On our way northbound Barbara called the campground to inform them of our damage and to tell them to never recommend putting a motor home in that site, and the person in the office says, “We never put motor homes in that site!” Well, maybe you should tell the person working the desk LAST night that, ya think? If there is a silver lining in all of this, the folks at Progressive Insurance have been very easy to work with thus far, and we hope to be able to schedule some time in Red Bay in November to have the damage fixed.
Our final stop on the way to New Hampshire is one of the only rest areas I think I'll ever stay at. On I-84 in Connecticut, there is a rest area heading northbound in Southington, CT. What makes it special for me and the rest of us fellow RVers is that it is one of the few (if only) rest areas with dedicated parking for RVs. No cars, no 18-wheelers allowed (they each have their own dedicated areas). It has plenty of room both wide and long to park dozens of RVs, and it gives us the ability to park against a curb so that we can open our slides for the night and run our generator. And of course it's free.
A short 2 ½ hour drive the next day, and we're in place for 2 weeks. Jace is free to be free, and we can start putting together all the visits needed to see everyone we need to see. I have to get my Dad's taxes done because the Senior Center no longer offers that free service due to COVID-19, Enterprise needs to be washed after a couple of thousand miles on the road (thanks again Wash and Wax All!), and we need to prep for visitors coming in for the weekend.
Next up – Sightseeing on New England's rocky shores.
We're Dave and Barbara Richard, and we're planning the ultimate retirement experience - travel the U.S. and Canada in style in a Tiffin Open Road 36LA Class A motor home, play golf and stop at every weird and wacky roadside attraction we can find.