Home Safe In Ohio

The first image at the top of this post is of Sara and Kathy out on the side porch working on cutting material to be used in making masks.

It was a whirlwind February and March with our traveling in the coach from Arizona to Mexico for a couple weeks then back to Arizona by the end of February and by the first of March on over to Florida and ultimately up to Ohio (4800 miles total).

The Covid-19 virus put a screw in the works. When we left Arizona for Florida on March 2nd and traveled through New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama there were no precautions taken by us or anyone else that we knew for that matter … but that all changed shortly after we arrived at the Escapee RV Club Sumter Oaks RV Park in Bushnell, Florida.

Our home base for 2 weeks in February (Bushnell, FL)

From then on we were still able to take the car to visit friends and family but hand-shakes and hugs were strictly a no-no. As time went on we were hearing rumblings of “stay-at-home” orders and the possibility of closing state borders to keep residents safe.

Our original plan included a 3 month “layover” in Sylva, North Carolina where we were scheduled to Workamp at Moonshine Creek Campground starting April 1st and running through the July 4th weekend.

Kathy was going to be working in the office greeting new arrivals, handling check-ins and taking reservations in addition to working in the camp store. This would mean she would be face-to-face with customers every day. I would be mostly outside taking care of the grounds, helping arriving RV’ers get parked along with being responsible for the daily cleaning of the bathrooms in addition to the new added task of 3x/day disinfecting of same.

As we started hearing reports of the virus and the precautions that different states were taking, we started to use Social Distancing as well. We did not go anywhere that there might have been a large crowd – Ooops – I just remembered. We DID go to Weeki-Wachee near Brooksville Florida to see the mermaid show. We went with our good friends Matt and Sherry on March 13th. They had just checked into the same park we were at in Bushnell while traveling from Tampa Florida to their newly acquired RV lot in Hondo Texas. Matt and Sherry had plans of a trip to Ireland in April but by now they knew that wasn’t going to happen.

You can click on any of the thumbnails below to see a larger image

From that point on however we were only with our friends or family and at all times with only 1 other couple at a time. We always kept our distance and washed our hands regularly.

We have always fulfilled our Workamping commitments in the past and felt badly that we needed to back out on this North Carolina job, but under the circumstances felt it best for us to cancel. With all the uncertainty, we didn’t want to get stuck anywhere if they did decide to try to limit travel and close any state lines.

After visiting my sister Marilynn and brother-in-law Rick in Jacksonville, we left Florida and as we traveled northward we stayed overnight at Elks lodges two nights along with one night in an RV park. In all cases, we never saw or interacted with anyone in person. The arrangements for our stay were made either by phone or online.

We are back in Ohio. Although we claim Texas as our domicile now, Ohio is home in our hearts. Our children and their families are here along with so many good friends we’ve made over the last 30+ years living in Mount Gilead. We’ve missed them all so much and now we’ll have (hopefully) plenty of opportunity later this summer to make up for lost time.

The coach is at our son and daughter-in-law’s home about a mile down the road while we are living up in the bunkhouse above the garage at our daughter and son-in-laws home just north of Mount Gilead, Ohio. We made it here late March and spent the first few days getting the bunkhouse organized for us to live in for the next few months. We took some of Sara & Stu’s belongings over to the coach (for storage) and brought other things from the coach over here.

It was kinda funny actually and a good thing that our home on wheels is parked only a mile away. We’d make a list of things to bring over here and drive over to David and Lisa’s place to get those items. Later that day we were already making another list of things we forgot to bring. This went on for at least 3 or 4 days! We’re blaming that on old age …

The Bunkhouse above the garage

In addition to working on the bunkhouse, we’re keeping busy here helping Stu and Sara with the annual spring chores. There’s always springtime tasks like; raking out the flower beds, picking up fallen sticks and branches from the many trees around the house, cutting the grass, and cutting and splitting firewood for the next winter season.

I enjoy doing these chores … I need the exercise and enjoy working outside (provided it’s over 50 degrees and sunny) and the kids can use the help.

Moving firewood over to the splitter
Kathy, grandson Garret, and Herb splitting and stacking firewood
One of my favorite pastimes

The first image at the top of this post is of Sara and Kathy out on the side porch working on cutting material to be used in making masks.

Stu is (thankfully) still working during this time. His physical rehab work at the nursing home is considered essential and so he is still working. Sara, who was driving a mini-bus for the county’s transit system has taken a lay-off. Their normal crew of 18 drivers has been cut down to only five for the remaining runs to medical needs that include dialysis and other essential services.

For years before we left Ohio and hit the road full time, we made a regular Friday night ritual of having dinner with 3 other couples of very close friends. Often we went out to a restaurant and occasionally we enjoyed each other’s company and dinner at one of our homes.

We were certainly looking forward to meeting up with our “Friday Night Gang” again when we eventually got back to Ohio after our North Carolina gig. This would have happened right after the July 4th weekend.

But in the meantime, we’re using ZOOM to meet virtually. We tried it Saturday night and it worked great! There are four couples and each of us had a corner of the screen and we could all see each other during the whole 40 minute meet-up. It was great and so much better than emailing, texting, or even talking individually on the phone. What made it so special and fun was that we could all see each other’s expression and body language just as it would be if we were around the dinner table from each other. And when any one of us said something funny, we could all laugh together! Although we couldn’t give and get hugs, it was wonderful to have that personal connection again. We’re making a date for 7:00 p.m. every Friday night from here on out until we can once again meet in person.

Here’s an example of what the ZOOM app looks like on your computer

So we are doing very well under the circumstances. We miss seeing our friends, we miss being able to come and go as we please. We are staying on the grounds here at Stu and Sara’s home as Sara is doing the grocery shopping. There are plenty of projects to keep me busy, although Stu is the one to stop at Home Depot or Lowes on his way home from work to pick up any materials or supplies we might need.

I was saying to Kathy just this morning … I want to go out for breakfast again … but that’ll have to wait.

What about you? How are you handling the situation we find ourselves in? What are you doing to occupy your time if you’re quarantined? Are you still able to work either from home or at your work location? If you’re working away from home what are you doing to stay safe?

That’s the main thing – stay safe by staying home if you can. Use a mask if you go out in public while maintaining the 6′ distance from others and then wash your hands as soon as you get home. Use hand sanitizer as soon as you get back in the car so you are not transferring anything from your hands to your steering wheel and ultimately back to your face.

We look forward to hearing from you.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Our Visit to the “Voice Of America”

One of the benefits of attending the Dayton Amateur Radio Association “HamVention” every year is to spend time with my long-time (notice I didn’t say “old”) friends.  Dave, Ed, and I grew up together in the 60’s in Redford Township, Michigan – a western suburb of Detroit.  We played together, we rode bikes together, we got in trouble together and we attended school together (since the 2nd grade) and we also got our ham radio licenses together – all first licensed in 1969.

This year at HamVention we decided we’d like to take a trip away from the main venue and visit the site of the Bethany Transmitting Station of the world famous Voice Of America (VOA) located just off I-75 between Dayton and Cincinnati.

VOA Bethany Transmitting Station

The VOA Bethany Relay Station was designed by the Crosley Broadcasting Corporation.  Although the actual recording studios were in New York City and later moved to Washington, D.C., the signals were relayed through dedicated AT&T long distance telephone lines to the transmitter site near Cincinnati.

The VOA began in 1942 as a radio program designed to explain America’s policies during World War II and to bolster the morale of its allies throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. After the war, VOA continued as part of America’s Cold War propaganda arsenal and was primarily directed toward the western European audience. In February 1947, VOA began its first Russian-language broadcasts into the Soviet Union.

With the words, “Hello! This is New York calling,” the U.S. Voice of America (VOA) begins its first radio broadcasts to the Soviet Union. The VOA effort was an important part of America’s propaganda campaign against the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

The initial broadcast explained that VOA was going to “give listeners in the USSR a picture of life in America.” News stories, human-interest features, and music comprised the bulk of the programming. The purpose was to give the Russian audience the “pure and unadulterated truth” about life outside the USSR. Voice of America hoped that this would “broaden the bases of understanding and friendship between the Russian and American people.”

The Bethany site encompassed hundreds of acres of land for the huge rhombic antenna farm that could be switched to direct the 1.2 million watts of radio frequency programming to different locations around the world, depending on the time of day and atmospheric conditions.

In one of the pictures above you can see my friend Dave talking to the last remaining employee of the VOA at this site — Dave’s getting quite a history lesson.

Note the windows at the top of the tower in the first picture – It kind of looks like an airport control tower.  I asked our tour guide the purpose of that tower.  His response … “for sharpshooters”.  This Bethany Relay Station was specifically placed here because of it’s distance from the east coast stations where they could be more susceptible to enemy attack.  Even though the Bethany Station was so far west, they still stationed military armed personnel to protect the Voice Of America to make sure the message always got out.

Due to new satellite and internet technology, the need for the high power RF radio broadcast stations has diminished and the station was closed as an active transmitting site in 1994.  Fear not however as the Voice Of America still broadcasts every day from their studios in Washington D.C. and their programming can be heard on the internet and on some local PBS network stations around the country.  Find out more and listen to VOA live at https://www.voanews.com/

And thanks to dedicated volunteers, we were able to tour the museum.  Take a look at the pictures below.

Here’s a few pix of us boys at the Dayton HamVention and at the VOA

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

“Driveway Surfing” Is A Blast!

Not sure if there’s an official definition of Driveway Surfing, but my definition is; When an RV’er spends the night on someone’s (often a fellow RV’er) property rather than in a commercial campground or RV park.

Our spot near Ocala, FL in the coolness of the towering pines

This is not only a less expensive alternative to commercial facilities, but much safer than the often-used boon-docking (dry camping) at Wal-Marts, Cracker Barrels, Truck Stops, highway Rest Areas and the like.

The term “Boon-docking” by the way, also known as “dry camping” in the RV’er’s world is stopping/staying at a location that does not offer any utilities or other amenities.  Most RV’er’s are traveling in self-contained units meaning they carry their own water (and waste) tanks and have a means to provide limited electricity to the unit for lighting, water pumping, and sometimes more.

We’ve found that the big added benefit of these overnight stays are the wonderful welcomes we get from our gracious hosts.  We often spend the afternoon and into the evenings together sitting around the bonfire trading stories of our RV’ing and life experiences.  Sometimes we even have dinner together.

Although Kathy and I first became aware of this wonderful benefit of full-time RV life through our membership in Boondockers Welcome, we soon found out that there are other opportunities out there as well.  We’ve found that the Airstreamers (Wally Byam Caravan Club International) along with FMCA (Family Motor Coach Association), and Escapees RV Club members have programs similar to the Boondockers Welcome program.  Another program mentioned to us by many other RV’ers is Harvest Hosts.  Although some of these programs require a nominal annual membership fee in order to access the database and reservation software, others are free to club members.

Here are some pictures we’ve taken as we’ve traveled and met other RV’ers using our “Driveway Surfing” privileges utilizing BoondockersWelcome.com.

Roger and Jan – Randall, Kansas

We were warmly welcomed by our first BoondockersWelcome hosts Roger and Jan to their farm near Randall, Kansas in spring of 2016.  Roger and Jan have a beautiful “earth” home that they custom built on the family farm that Roger was born on.  While Jan prepared dinner for us (a very welcome surprise!), Roger took us on a tour of the 1000+ acre farm that their son now manages and farms (along with Dad’s occasional help).  Roger and Jan have traveled all fifty states, 6 of the 10 Canadian provinces, and down into Mexico.

Click on any of the pictures to see an enlarged view

Coyote & Angel – Ocala, Florida

Our next fantastic visit was to Coyote and Angel’s log cabin retreat near Ocala, Florida.  And what a treat it was!  They’re both retired now, but both have a colorful past and have enjoyed rebuilding over 30 classic and antique cars and trucks in their retirement.  They’re also very creative and have built a wonder-filled outdoor experience that  the pictures below can only begin to explain.  Utilizing BoondockersWelcome, they invite RV’er’s to come and spend the night and they offer their retreat to host car shows, weddings, and other private events.  Since our visit Coyote and Angel have sold their motorhome and bought a vintage Airstream travel trailer and are planning on taking a trip up to Michigan this summer and we’re looking forward to seeing them again up there while we are at our Workamping job at Baldwin, MI.

Click on any of the individual pictures to see an enlarged view

Perry, Ginny, and Georgia – New Boston, TX

Now Perry and Ginny (along with Memaw Georgia) eagerly welcomed us to their home near New Boston, Texas and they showed off their southern hospitality by treating us to a great BBQ rib dinner.

We also enjoyed meeting another Boondocker couple there (Brad & Elaine) who had just returned from a month long trip to New Zealand to visit their daughter.  We all had a great evening together talking and laughing.

Be sure to check out the video below of Ginny and Perry’s “Alpine Village” that they’ve put together over the years.  Ginny told us that after we leave they were going to take it all apart to dust and clean and then put it ALL BACK TOGETHER AGAIN!  Glad it’s not MY job!

Click on any of the individual pictures to see an enlarged view

 

Germantown, OH – Lynn & Jackie

On our way back to “the old home place” in Ohio this spring, we took advantage of the invite by Lynn and Jackie at Germantown, Ohio (near Dayton).  They had us in for a wonderful home-cooked spaghetti dinner and the next day (we stayed two nights) Kathy and I toured the U.S. Air Force Museum adjacent to the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.  We also toured the Wright Brothers Museum and the original Bicycle Shop, then spent the late afternoon at Carillon Historical Park where they have nearly 35 buildings there originally built anywhere from the 1870’s to the 1930’s.  The second evening we went out to a local Mexican restaurant and then Jackie and Lynn treated us to a wonderful farewell waffle breakfast just before our departure!

Click on any of the individual pictures to see an enlarged view

Jason – Fairhope, Alabama

This stop was different in that we were not in the driveway of someone’s home, but rather their business.  Jason, a former school teacher turned restaurant owner is a RV’er wanna-be.  Having some restaurant experience in his past life, Jason opened this restaurant about 11 years ago and now is ready to sell and hit the road.

He’s joined all the RV clubs out there, is constantly reading RV’ers blogs and watching YouTube videos about the RV lifestyle and invites RV’ers to his restaurant so that he can have the opportunity to meet and learn from others.

RV’er friends of ours (that we had met in Arizona in 2016) were staying at an Escapees RV park just a few miles away, and so they came on over and we had a great night together enjoying shrimp PoBoys and fried clams.

In the morning, I went on over to the kitchen early while Jason was prepping for the lunch crowd.  I followed him around enjoying the fresh hot coffee and talking about our life histories and RV’ing.

Click on any of the individual pictures to see an enlarged view

 

As we’ve said before, “although seeing the sites as we travel around the country is great … the really wonderful experiences are the new friends we make along the way”, and we thank Boondockers Welcome for helping us to that end.

Driveway surfing is just one more way to experience the good life … maybe you’ll try it someday yourself!

 

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy
NOTE: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.