The vulnerability of being off-line

In everyday life I’m never long away from being online and able to communicate via mobile phone, email, Facebook, text messages, Twitter, blogs and so on. It’s so much a part of my life that I give these connections little thought. So finding myself last Thursday night without good connections stopped me in my tracks.

First of all I stepped back in time by staying at an inland RV campground called Plymouth Rock. I mean, Plymouth Rock?! I’ve been to Plymouth Rock and it wasn’t in Wisconsin. But this Plymouth Rock certainly is.

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I ended up at Plymouth Rock because of a very late start from the unpleasantness of Illinois Beach State Park. I didn’t want  to get to a campground I had never been to after dark and I wanted one with a decent shower house.

I guess I misread or misunderstood Plymouth Rock on the All Stays app I frequently use and really like. It wasn’t until I was on the road for awhile that I realized that the campground was very far away from my circle tour. It was already about 3 so half-heartedly I laid to rest plans to drive and stop at various lakeside locations and resorted to the fastest route my GPS could get me to Plymouth Rock.

I was tired when I got there at 5 minutes to 5. The woman who I had talked to on the phone and who greeted me was so nice. This late in the season I had my choice of many sites with electric. It did feel a little strange because they were laid out around the circumference of a circle of trees and you parked on grass. I found the site she had arbitrarily given me to be just fine so took 503 I think it was. Not much to it, but an easy hookup of my power cord to an aged but working system.

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It certainly felt like a step back in time. The picnic table was made of concrete, which I found odd and too cold to want to use. The campground was dated with dozens of seasonal park homes with decks and screen porches. There was a corral for golf carts and several outdoor pools with one and a whirlpool still open. It was chilly so no takers. I took care of Henry then checked out the shower house with plans to use in the morning. It seemed small and in need of updating, but clean. I met and had really nice conversation with a couple who have no permanent  home base but travel in many parts of the world doing various things. At Plymouth Rock they had been selling zone memberships for RVers. Next they were heading to Ohio to sell See’s Candy then to on to Spain where they have rented a house for six months.

Henry and I had a relaxing evening. In fact I stayed up quite late and Henry Boy patiently waited laying his head down on my journal that I had put on the bed. His sweet adorableness inspired me to just crawl into bed. Could you resist him?

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As with all good plans, in the morning they changed. I had prepaid reservations for three nights at Peninsula State Park and called to confirm. I had only been able to reserve a site without any utilities and for three nights that felt like a stretch this time of year. However, the staff person mentioned that if I got there at 10 am if one with electric was available I might be able to get it. So my plans for a leisurely morning with shower were abandoned and I was on the road and actually got to the park office just a few minutes after 10.

When I got there she marked me down as second on the list. Nice! But everyone had showed up so not even one of the 130 sites with electric were available. Darn. But I could try again the next morning, Saturday, as long as I arrived again at 10 am.  Geez, I thought, not being able to get out and about until after 10 would reduce my time exploring the Door Peninsula. And it did.

With this inauspicious beginning, the next few days on this important Great Lakes peninsula were both marvelous and seriously disconnected. Hence no posts here until tonight because I’m back to reliable Internet and at a campground! More on my journey in the next posting.

 

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Closer

Yesterday was my last day of work so today I focused on getting ready for my trip. I drove to the storage place and ran the generator while throughly cleaning Ecovision. I was able to accomplish more than I planned getting all the windows sparkling on the inside plus cleaning the dining area, bathroom and kitchen. I put some of the bedding inside and put the quilted aluminum panels from the windows under my couch/bed. I opened all the curtains and will leave them up–except at night when I close them for privacy–until I return in a couple of weeks.

Back home this afternoon and evening I’ve been going through every single item that I want to put back in Ecovision. I had this all done in the Spring and now have to do all over again. I’m washing, discarding, reorganizing and repacking items into large containers for transport. Much of this is in the trunk and back seat of my car to put in Ecovision tomorrow morning. Then I will drive to Camping World for a noon appointment to get ready to travel around the big lake. Fingers crossed nothing is found that will delay my weekend departure.

Below is my new neighbor at the storage lot, a gianormous Winnebago, giving clear evidence of Ecovision’s modest size. With Ecovision getting 13-15 mpg, I wonder what this monstrosity gets. I have a hard time swallowing the mileage I get especially when compared to my Honda Civic hybrid that has averaged 40 mpg over the ten years I have owned it. I remember one FMCA member discussing the mileage he got in his large motorhome in terms of tenths of a mile per gallon. If I remember correctly, he said he got 6.8 mpg with his diesel pusher. Interesting.

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Kitchen Lite

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My motorhome is very very small. In fact when I walk down the aisle Henry has to back up because we cannot pass each other. I’m always trying to pare down to the bare essentials including in the kitchen. Today I enjoyed reading Clothilde Dusoulier of Chocolate and Zucchini‘s post on her minimalist kit for the traveling cook. Chocolate and Zucchini was the first blog I ever followed as I ventured into food and fell in love with Paris. Clothilde is such an interesting person and over the years I’ve even bought two of her cookbooks. I found it interesting that my essentials pretty much mirrors hers such as a paring knife, vegetable peeler and good olive oil. Traveling in a motorhome is pretty much glorified camping so nothing really good or precious–especially my favorite Shun knife–ends up in its kitchen drawers. Instead I’ve moved old, worn, still-functional items to the motorhome. For some reason using a 30-year old dishcloth or my mother’s hand-me-down pan is like getting a much-needed hug on the road.

September it is

I’m not only resigned, but quite happy that Henry and I will start to circle Lake Michigan in mid-September. The weather will be cooler, campgrounds and shorelines will be uncrowded and I’ll have the Labor Day weekend family reunion behind me. Fall colors should be starting so photographs in various campgrounds should be stunning.

Leaving after the family reunion also will give me a little extra time so I am hoping to stretch the original two weeks into three. I can’t leave before September 15 and I do have to be back by October 11 to give a public lecture on the Great Lakes at Washtenaw Community College.

I have decided to just replace the van battery. My daughter-in-law and son will help me switch the old for new when they get back from their vacation in Montana. Or I should say I’ll help them because they are handier than I am. Anne replaced her car battery in minutes while I helped watched! For now I’m going to figure out which size I need and shop around for prices over the next week or two. I’ll also share here how I budget for RV travel.

Meantime here is a slide I put together adding a favorite quote from Thoreau about lakes onto one of my images from the north shore of Lake Superior. Enjoy!

Memorial Day Gratitudes

It has been a blur since I got back from North Carolina and Virginia. I think my first trip with Ecovision is going to be mid-June and not more than 20 miles from here. A new friend (thanks to Kathe for introducing us) who is considering solo RVing has invited Henry and me to camp on her property for the weekend. She has power I can hook up to and I understand she has glorious gardens. She can check out my RV and learn what it takes to manage one on your own, and I can enjoy a few days in Ecovision with my sweet Henry Boy in tow. We’re both very excited. I hope she likes Scrabble or gin rummy, which I find good on the road with new and old friends.

Meantime I’m teaching “Understanding the Great Lakes” followed by “Islands of the Great Lakes”. They each meet once a week for four weeks and the students who take these classes love the lakes and islands as much as I do so it’s deeply meaningful all the way around.

I’m also going to take an advanced class in digital landscape photography starting this Wednesday night. It’s six Wednesday evenings plus 2 all-day Saturday field trips. This is my final class in the series I put together with Bryce Denison of Midwest Photography Workshops. I created my own certificate program and it’s been a wonderful and challenging experience.

I’m always taking a class or learning something new, and now I’m teaching in LifeLong Education with people with a love of learning just like me. It is marvelous.

Henry’s just glad to have me back home with a knee to rest his head on each evening. Life is good.

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RVing Women

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I actually joined RVing Women (RVW) before I bought my motorhome, Ecovision, in 2009. I had been to a women-only Elderhostel (now called Road Scholar) in Oregon called something like “Writing, Walking, Yoga”. The week was awesome–think breaching whales, beach walks, bald eagles, great people, sunsets, tide pools, seafood, yoga, writing and learning. The organizing group was Coastal Journeys and Carol and her husband were fantastic.

While there I got to know a retired professor who arrived in her motorhome and was heading to the Baja with RVing Women. Just what I was looking for!  So I joined online right there, contacted the Great Lakers chapter and starting going to meetings when I got home.  Then in October 2009 I bought Ecovision and the rest is history :-) I even kept a blog for several years that now kinda languishes with move to Ann Arbor, writing, photography, working part time and circling the lakes getting hold of me.

Anyway, RVW is wonderful and I just renewed for another year.