Friday, March 2, 2012

On The Road Again...

Funny that the title of one of my least favorite recordings, Willie Nelson's "On the Road Again", would be too perfect a title for this first post of our second tour...

But indeed we are back on the road, having pulled Gigantor and the Whale off of the market so that we can do it all over again in 2012! Most of you readers will know that Nancy sold her business, Network-IT, and plans to start classes towards an MBA in September. Then there's me, back at work designing for Mark Levinson audio, and requiring only an internet connection to be productive. So, once more, we saw the opportunity to live "location independent" and began preparations to depart. But this's all about the girl!

It was Nancy who was hunched over a keyboard, her face illuminated in the cold blue light of a computer monitor, stressing over her business, trying to earn enough income to pay for our campground fees and diesel fuel. I was the one planning our stops, preparing meals, doing dishes, cleaning house, walking dogs, going for hike and bike rides, until she was free for the day. This time it'll be reversed, mostly. I'll be the one clicking a mouse, poking at keys, designing audio components for the super rich, earning our keep, and Nancy will have her turn at enjoying more of the scenery and life about camp. This is for her - it's only fair!

My remote office:
She's got an awesome new mountain bike with which to attack the trails - a Trek Mamba hardtail 29er. Sweet! We put it to use at our first stop, Lums Pond State Park in northern Delaware. But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself. First, we had to get there...

So, Gigantor and the Whale were both all shined up for sale. It was nice to have them both so showroom perfect, but I couldn't help wish I'd known we'd be going back out when I spent a week unloading, and now spent another week loading it all back in! Anyway, the day of departure dawned, with just a few simple tasks remaining to put the house to bed. But it wouldn't be that easy...Gigantor refused to start! It was a cold morning, in the low 20s, and the old girl doesn't like to get her diesel going when it's chilly out. But she's never failed. Now it seemed the batteries were spent (it takes two big ones to get her started, if you know what I mean). I tried every trick I knew, but nothing worked. AAA came when called, and still she put up a fight. Not until I laid down my money to replace the one bad battery did the engine roar to life. So, two hours delay, still enough time left in the day to make it to our destination, so Nancy, Kinsey, Toby and I hopped in the truck and off we went...

...down the Connecticut coast and right through New York City.
Seemed like a good idea at the time, but let me tell you this: I've driven this rig all around, coast to coast, through 38 states and 5 provinces, towing 24000 miles, and no where (NO WHERE!) are the roads as thoroughly disgracefully miserably disgustingly rough, potholed and uneven as those in the greater metropolitan area of New York City. We took a beating! Anything that wasn't nailed down in The Whale was scattered throughout. Our bikes beat each other up and the new bike-rack's bolts all loosened. One of the storage hatch doors came unlatched. It was brutal. Never again. It's like the song, you know the words:

If you can make it (through) there, you'll make it (through) anywhere, New York, New York!

But we did make it through, and I never thought I'd say this, but it was with great relief that we settled into a comfortable cruised down the New Jersey Turnpike... arrive at the nearly deserted campground at Lums Pond State Park, in Bear, Delaware. Here we got set up and began tallying the list of items that we forgot to bring! Nothing critical. Then Nancy managed to slip on the steps in the camper and injure her pinky toe, so she was limping around.

During our day at Lums Pond SP I had my first work-day away from my home office, and had no problem getting my hours in and still taking time to walk dogs and go for a nice long mountain bike ride around the pond with Nancy. She did great. It was mostly level, but had a few spots criss-crossed with roots, and some rutted mudholes, all of which she powered over and through. One short, steep climb she cranked up, passing an older man who had just walked his bike up. He was impressed!

Our next drive took us farther south, around Washington D.C.'s beltway, and into Virginia, where we set up camp in Fredericksburg. The next day we were to tour around the copious Civil War attractions, but it rained like end of days, so we hunkered down, working and watching the puddles rise and become one, and the rivulets of water passing through camp become babbling brooks. I dangled a line out the front door and caught a trout! OK, that didn't happen, but the rest is true...

The next day was sunny and 70 degrees, and it felt soooo goooood! I forced myself to put in a few hours of work in the morning, then we headed back to Fredericksburg to check out some of the living history, like Doctor Hugh Mercer's Office and Apothecary...

...where we learned about the medical practices of the 17th century. (Bleeding by leaches, anesthesia by drunkenness, purging with antimony or mercury, etcetera). Then we checked out the National Park Service's Battlefield Visitor's Center and walked along the site of a bloody civil war battle, Mayre's Heights, where Confederate soldiers hunkered down behind the sturdy stone wall along Sunken Road and mowed down advancing Union divisions. Not a good day for the North.

The house situated along the wall was perforated with gunfire, but survived, along with the lady who lived in it, even as war raged around (and in) her home:

And we strolled through the graveyard where over 15000 soldiers, or fragments thereof, were laid to rest. All but a few hundred were unidentified at the time of burial. It's a sobering sight, and as Robert E. Lee is credited with saying "It is well that war is so terrible lest we should grow too fond of it."


  1. Hey Matthew and Nancy, glad all is well and you guys are off, have a great voyage!

  2. Very Cool! Hard to think of being in a house again...sometimes, we house sit for people along the way....and thinking we like our "pod" better! Ha! you have any plans to go to Northern New Mexico this summer? It is AWESOME up there....we will spend the whole summer there again as we did last year. Heron Lake S.P. is beautiful. Be safe and enjoy!

  3. Very cool adventure. Good read too.