We've been at our destination for a week now, not quite as long as we were in Raleigh, but it is starting to feel like home.

Our first impression of the place is, this is a real campground.  Not a parking lot, like some of the other places we've stayed.  (Of course, most of them were parking lots.  Literally.)  The place has trees galore, and rocks and sticks and mud.  Right now, lots of mud.  It seems we brought the rain with us here too.  And even nicer, this place has space.  We were in the trees at Pine Acres, but we were stacked side-to-side with other RVs.  Here, we have spacious camp sites.  You could fit a house in ours.

There are beavers here.  And bullfrogs.  I haven't seen any of them but I've seen the beaver dam and the chewed trees and heard the frogs.  These frogs sound like someone built a big cello the size of a house and is plucking the strings one at a time.  I've never heard frogs like this before.

Deer standing on the other side of a pond

Horses in a fenced in area

A house with a high wall of rocks bordering the driveway

 

Our arrangement with the owner is to work a certain number of hours a week for our campsite and about the same number of additional hours for pay.  The pay isn't great, but when you think about how much money most people pay just to live, it's a pretty good arrangement.  We have full hookups, of course, which seems a bit of a waste when it hasn't even been hot enough to bother with air conditioning, but it's convenient.  Electric, water, sewer, garbage, all included.  And when we do need air conditioning (which we no doubt will this summer), it'll be here.

We are enjoying the work.  There are two other couples who are also camp hosts and we share the responsibilities.  During busy times, someone staffs the office.  There are restrooms to be cleaned and maintenance work to do.  Everyone just picks something that needs to be done and works on it.  So far everyone is getting along well.

A wall made from rocks marks a boundary from an earlier timeanother rock wall

 

This weekend, being Memorial day weekend, was a peak time for the place.  It was crowded but things went pretty smoothly.  Most of the time during the week things are very quiet, and it's my understanding that over the summer it will gradually get busier until the weekends more closely resemble what it was like here yesterday.

We've had two meetings and a couple of service days to start getting to know the friends in the local congregation.  They've made us feel very welcome.  Many here are Bethelites.  Quite a number were transferred from Brooklyn last year, so the congregation is at a peak of publishers.  However, it's still not very big, maybe 85.  So it shouldn't take very long to get to know everyone.

Next weekend is our regional convention.  The campground owner is very flexible and doesn't mind us taking three days off so soon.

So here we are.  Our trip has ended, but our adventure is far from over.  The campground will be open until October 15, and we are welcome to stay here and work until then.  We are thinking we would like to stay in the area longer; thus we have four months to find a nearby place to call home.  The last time we made a big move, we stayed in our landing spot just two months before we found a more settled spot, so this shouldn't be a problem.

We're still trying to wrap our minds around the fact that we are now living in another state, on the other side of the country.  It's too much to process.  In my mind, we're still traveling, and this is yet another stop along the way.  But we're working, and that makes me feel much better.

I don't know when I'll be posting again.  It's hard to imagine having as many action-filled weeks here in the campground as we've had during our trip across the country, but we'll likely post an update at some point this summer.  By then we'll be used to our new life here, and maybe we'll even have some plans for our next stop.  Or even have already taken that step.  Life can move fast sometimes.  But right now we're on a camping trip, the longest one we've ever taken.

Thank you very much for following us on our journey.  A special thanks to Laura for regularly letting us know you were with us.  We hope you all will stay connected with us in some way.  Adventures are temporary, but friendships can last forever.

I've heard that some things are more satisfying if you have to wait for them.  If you make it all the way through this post, you can tell me whether this is one of those things.

When I was 20 years old I decided to move where the need was greater.  I decided I would buy a camper so I wouldn't have to worry about where to live.  My father tried to talk me out of it, but I wouldn't be dissuaded.

To hold my future camper I bought a 3/4 ton pickup truck.  It was a Ford, it was 14 years old, it got 6 miles to the gallon, and it developed an exhaust leak that cost me a lot to fix.  Interestingly, my motorhome has a Ford chassis and also gets 6 miles to the gallon.  The dials and controls look almost exactly the same as they did on my '76 pickup.  But I digress.

After about a year I realized that it wasn't Jehovah's will for me to live in a camper, so I sold the truck and camper and cut my losses.  It turns out housing was very affordable where I was moving because it was such an economically depressed area.

Those things don't seem all that long ago.  I've discovered time really flies if you stay busy.

I don't buy cars all that often.  I like to get a vehicle that will run well for a long time and doesn't need much maintenance.  Then we usually drive them until they don't run anymore, or are very close.  It's my frugal nature.  We do take good care of our vehicles though, and of the three or four that we've driven all the way until they died, all of them were in such good shape other people fixed them up mechanically and either drove them or sold them.  Digressing again...

Since we like to keep a vehicle for a long time and I'm not overly fond of working on them, we usually try to thoroughly research before we purchase.  My last three vehicles lasted us 14 years, 8 years, and 3 years respectively.  I hope and believe the last two will continue to run well for several more years for my brother and his wife.

As we neared our destination we knew we would need a vehicle other than the motorhome, but we didn't have a lot of time to shop around and no time for research.  We spent the day in Newburgh Monday, since it was the last non-small town we would pass through before we were finished.  My advice is, don't buy a vehicle in Newburgh.  The prices and selection aren't great.  I've heard since that there are better places to buy a vehicle here.  But we had just one day.

We started the day early by looking at a vehicle we thought was being sold by a private party.  It was a 2005 Camry and it was priced below book.  The guy selling it drives a tow truck and it turns out he sells a lot of vehicles.  That made us nervous about buying from him, but at least we had something to compare everything else with.  Few of the dealerships had anything we wanted and the one that did wouldn't bargain with us.  Oh well.  But I couldn't stop thinking about the Camry.  Toyota makes cars that tend to last a long time.  I decided buying an old one might be a risk, but it would be a less expensive risk than buying a newer used car on impulse.  It just so happened we found a 2003 Camry online that was only 20 miles away, in a picturesque but much less populated place called Haverstraw.  The car had been sitting for months and the price we paid was slightly more than half the original price they'd been asking.  Probably because it has an exhaust leak.  Did I mention it's 14 years old? But the similarities to my old Ford pickup pretty much end there.  For one, this car gets much better than 6 miles to the gallon.

You've made it this far because the headline made you expect something interesting, right?  I'll try not to disappoint.

We'd owned the car a couple days and were on our way home from Wednesday night meeting.  The girls decided to stop at the store and I waited in the car.  Julie realized she'd forgot her wallet and texted me to come in and pay.  So I unlocked the door and started to open it.  Beep, beep!

Yes, it was the car alarm.  I was in the back seat because Jaden likes to drive and Julie likes to ride shotgun, and I don't care where I sit.  But my options were limited.  I couldn't reach the front, and I'm not sure it would have mattered if I could have, so I got out my key fob and started pushing buttons.  I pushed and pushed.  Beep, beep!

By this time I'm getting a little worried and wondering what to do next.  I couldn't seem to open my door.  Apparently the car has some kind of security lock that prevents you from unlocking the doors while the alarm is sounding.  I can tell you now, I'm even less inclined to break into one of these than I would have been before.

I'm starting to feel a little unsettled at this point so I start pushing buttons even more frantically.  Besides the lock and unlock buttons there are two other buttons that I had no idea what they were for, so I started pushing them too.  Suddenly the alarm stops, to my relief.... 

And the engine starts.

There's something about panic that alters your sense of time, so I don't know how long it took me to realize exactly what had happened, but I do know it took me exactly two minutes to get into the store to pay for the groceries.  Because Julie sent another text after the first one asking when I was going to come in, which arrived just as I was walking in the door.

It took me far less than two minutes to figure out what was happening, but in that moment after the car locked me in and yelled an electronic version of "I've got a thief trapped in my back seat!" and the engine started, I very briefly had the feeling I was being kidnapped by a car.  If it had gone into gear and started driving me to the police station I don't think I could have been more surprised.

By now you've probably figured out what I realized a split second after I thought my car was kidnapping me.  That's right, my car has a remote start capability.  On cold days we could start the car from inside a warm house and let it warm up before we get in it.  Or we can use it to startle our passengers.  In any case, it's a great feature, but normally it's better to know about these kinds of things before the purchase.

Buying used cars isn't the same thing it used to be....

We may have whizzed through Texas and zipped through the rest of the South but we've taken our time here in Raleigh.  Over a week.  The week before was so packed with activity, this week pales in comparison.  For one thing, we've been doing a lot of running around and a lot of resting.  Neither is very exciting to write about.

Julie's cousin Leslie and her husband Darryl moved here last year.  Just before that we spent some time with them in New Hampshire where they used to live.  We had such a great time in New Hampshire we decided to move to the Northeast.  But Leslie and Darryl are part of the reason we had such a good time, and they were leaving.  That thought made us feel sad.

When we decided to go the Southern route to get to New England we realized we would be traveling through North Carolina.  Yay!  More time with Darryl and Leslie.  They each took a day off work so we could all spend a three-day weekend together.  Most of the weekend was spent in spiritual activities and just generally catching up.

Monday we spent the afternoon at Jordan Lake
Jordan lake

(much less crowded than this on a Monday) then it was back to work for Darryl and Leslie.

Our nine nights here we parked overnight in three types of places.  When we got here it was nice and cool, as I mentioned, from the rains that greeted us.  We spent three nights at Wal-marts, one in Wake Forest and the other near Old Wake Forest Road in Raleigh.

Wake Forest is one of the fastest growing suburbs in the country.  I can see why.  It's a pretty place located near Raleigh and not far from beach and mountains.

Raleigh, the capital of North Carolina (which you might remember if you ever had to memorize state capitals in school), was named after Sir Walter Raleigh, who was well known for being famous.

After we were here three nights we had time to scout the place out like we did in Portland and discovered a nice spot called the Plantation Point shopping center.  We found an out of the way place near some tall trees that were shaded until the middle of the morning, the time we usually were ready to go about our business on the road.  We spent three nights there.  We were between two shops that open in the middle of the morning and the one we were parked next to isn't open for business yet.  The construction workers didn't seem to mind us being there each morning, but we probably wouldn't have chanced too many more days in the same spot.  As the sun was starting to hit the side of the motorhome on the last day, future fellow full-time RVer Jay was driving by and we chatted about the RV life for a while.  He's getting ready to make the leap too.  He and I have both learned a lot about RVing from blogs and Youtube.

A La Madeline bakery, almost ready for opening, as seen through our screen doorOpening soon, but we won't be here to see it

Our RV parked with shade trees in the background

Getting sunny.  Time to move on

After six days of relatively cool weather, guess what?  Yep.  The closest campsite was the NC fairgrounds and that's where we spent our final three nights.  We spent a whopping $30 a night, which isn't much but was more than we'd spent on other campgrounds along the way.  It was worth it.  Air conditioning is nice.

Humpty Dumpty parked in the corner site at the fairgrounds campground

A very expensive motor home parked at the campground
Where else can you find homes costing half a million dollars right next to those worth less than $50,000?  A campground is an equalizer of sorts.

Our campground was tucked away and a little hard to find.  The GPS said our "address" was near 399 Gary St.  It was.  You won't be able to drive there on Gary St but I took a walk over to Gary St and here's the end of the street:

bushes at the end of a residential street
Our RV as seen through some bushes
There's a little break in the bushes (see if you can spot it in the Gary St pic above) where you can see through to the campground.  Peek-a-boo!

sign saying citywide speed limit 35 mph
I wonder if anyone in Portland has thought about doing this.  People routinely drive 40 past the Powell Butte KH even though the signs are clearly posted 25.

sign says last NASCAR race on dirt track was held here
Every place is known for something
One building on the fairgrounds with colonial-style arches and towers
NC fairgrounds has some interesting architecture.
The fairgrounds at night
Especially eye-catching at night

Holddowns in the parking lot.  The caption is a sad joke.
There are handy hooks in the parking lot so they can move the cement to another place if they need it.
collage of two moths and an orange bird
What I didn't photograph: fireflies!  I saw a few on my walk and they are so cool!

Jaden stayed with Darryl and Leslie the last four nights.  She had such a good time she didn't want to leave.  Maybe we can convince her to write an entry about it.

I've held off talking about some of the minor issues we've had along the way.  Overall things have gone quite smoothly but I've learned what my fellow RV'ers meant when they talked about always fixing things.  We had some minor malfunctions that were slight inconveniences but didn't really cramp our style much.  For example, shortly after replacing the water pump the water started trickling out again.  I've made reference to this already.  It turned out to be a clog in the water tank.  A little compressed air broke up the clog, and we haven't had any trouble with it since.

Another small problem was that our refrigerator couldn't keep up when the temperature was above 80 degrees or so.  At first we suspected a mechanical problem and I even made an attempt to repair it but then we discovered it was a design issue.  There just isn't enough ventilation to keep the fridge cool when it's hot.  Living in the Pacific NW, the previous owners apparently didn't find this a big enough problem to seek a fix for.  We bought a solar fridge vent in Raleigh.  It's just a vent cover with a small solar panel that connects to a fan you mount above the fridge coils.  Now the fridge is working better.  We've had a couple other problems pop up but they aren't even worth mentioning here.

I'm writing this as we are leaving Raleigh and it's quickly coming to the end of our trip.  Our trip really didn't have an endpoint when we started.  We just took a mental dart and threw it roughly in the direction of Massachusetts.  It was sometimes a bit awkward when people asked us where our destination was and we told them we didn't have one, yet.  But we weren't worried.  I'd read somewhere that it's easier to direct a vehicle that's in motion.  And we were definitely in motion.  Now we have a destination, and the timing couldn't be better.  To be honest I'm ready to get back to work.

Throughout the trip, we’ve managed to keep busy, working on the RV, getting to meetings and out in service as well as our other spiritual activities. But we've still been feeling like we’re on vacation. And now, we’ve started to feel like we need to get back to work. So it’s a good thing we have a job.For the second time in my life, I applied for a job by distance, interviewed by email and phone, and was hired. This is definitely a bit of a dream job. Every time Ed and I would go camping, we’d think how nice it would be to be the hosts at the campground. So now we get to try it. Ed and I are both going to work part-time at a campground in upstate NY. The campground is 45 minutes from Walkill and 90 minutes from Patterson and Warwick. It’s in the rurals, and I mean RURAL! The population of the town is about 700, and according to a sister who used to live there, it has a gas station.It’s only about 25 minutes from the nearest Kingdom Hall. But that’s really too far to be asking for rides for very long, so we are shopping for a car tomorrow before we arrive at the park. Since the car is for service and meetings, we trust Jehovah will help us make a wise decision.Over the years, we’ve made good and bad decisions when it comes to car purchasing, and one thing we’ve learned is, it’s best to buy a car when you don’t desperately need one. Unfortunately, we are definitely needing a car this time, but we’re going to use what we learned and not be afraid to walk away from a bad deal. But I do love shopping for cars. The adventure of the deal, the adrenaline of haggling, the threatening to leave without purchasing anything, the making the salesperson do math as his commission dwindles—it’s all fun to me. Maybe it’ll make a good story. In any case, it'll be nice to drive something with only two axles.