|The Month that Was (mid-June to mid-July)
||[Jul. 23rd, 2010|08:32 pm]
Boy, am I glad that’s over. Short form: we took the latter half of June to make our way back up to PA, weathering a broken leaf spring, a tire blowout, and the summer heat wave(s). MIL had her surgery at the end of the month. Based on her experience I must caution anyone who is considering abdominal surgery not to schedule it just before a major holiday, but eventually she made it out ok. The family reunion for my father’s side of the family was delightful and I got to see cousins I hadn’t seen in over a decade. We were back at the house for seven whole days after the Fourth, during which I went to quilt guild and met up with my crazed quiltr grrls as J calls them, and also brought home MIL’s new cat, who has not yet been introduced to the cats-in-residence but is settling in quite nicely by all reports.
The last of these travelogues had us in western Georgia in mid-June, preparing for a leisurely trip home to arrive before the end of the month. We’d decided to take a few days to relax at the shore, and drove to Savannah on Sunday. The campground (Skidaway Island State Park) was gorgeous. We walked it first to find a site, as Georgia State Parks don’t reserve specific sites. It’s a huge place, all pull-through sites which are small loops off the main road rather than straight sites with a road on either end. This results in lovely large private sites in a picturesque campground full of giant trees draped in Spanish moss. It seemed that many folks took the first available site which meant that there were quite a few perfect sites further into the park. It was worth the walk to find them, even in the severe heat. About half the sites have 50 amp service, which was great in the heat; we had no trouble running appliances, tools and AC as needed. All of which turned out to be very needed indeed.
We got ourselves set up in the site and walked into the camper to find it in disarray. We’ve occasionally knocked things around a bit on rough roads, but never like this. The small end table which sits between the recliners was in pieces, both recliners were over to one side of the rig, and the shelf over the RV in the entertainment center had fallen down onto the TV, spilling DVD cases and electronics everywhere. Clearly something had happened. While I went out to the hardware store to buy materials and tools to rebuild the entertainment center, J called the factory. They put him in touch with the company that builds the underpinnings (frame and axles) and while he was crawling around underneath the rig looking for serial numbers, he discovered that what had happened was that the right-side leaf spring which holds the rear axle to the frame had broken. All four ‘leaves”, broken all the way through. By the time we parked in Savannah, there was a half-inch gap between the two halves, and I can only credit my Divine Being for the fact that we never took the last few bounces which would have completely separated the axle from the rig.
Since we had a fixed date by which we had to return to PA, J gritted his teeth and spent the necessary to have the new spring and hangers sent priority (more than the cost of the parts.) We spent a day pulling stuff out of the entertainment center, measuring and planning and buying tools and supplies. The next day I rebuilt the shelf and made another to go above it, which is a mod I’d wanted for a long time. That was finished first thing in the morning, the spring arrived midmorning and we spent the rest of the day under the trailer, carefully jacking it up, pulling the broken parts and making the repair. We wound up cutting off the end of the bolt holding the shock in place, since we couldn’t get the nut off the shock. I now own a nut splitter. But that was the only real stumbling block, and everything went pretty well, aside from kitty freakage at being on a tilt all day.
It was hotter than blue blazes and humid to boot, and we were both exhausted after the repair was finally done. We drove out to Tybee Island, swam and napped in the brisk shore breeze for a restorative hour or so, got takeout fried chicken for dinner, and elected to extend our stay for a day there in Savannah. The next day was sorely needed for recuperation and recovery, catching up on all the little chores and putting up that had gone undone while the construction was underway.
On Friday we got on the road with a long drive ahead to our next stop in Hollister, NC. We had just crossed into South Carolina when there was a sudden BANG! J said “Blowout!” as I steered for the side of the road. Mercifully, I could still brake and there was a wide shoulder that we were able to get over onto immediately. That kept the damage to the rig to a minimum (black marks, some bent sheet metal.) I had thought that it was the driver’s side tire that blew based on the noise, but it was the trailer’s front tire on the passenger side. On thinking about it, that was something we should have anticipated; that tire was bearing most of the weight of that side of the rig before the spring was fixed, which is a lot more weight than it is rated for. J changed the tire by the side of the road, and once again it was brutally hot. Another fifthwheeler stopped to help and we were happy to accept his assistance and the use of his compressor to air up the spare faster than our little air compressor would do it. A sweaty hour later we were back on the road. The worst part of that, other than J courting heat stroke, was Mercedes being terrorized by the traffic whizzing by when J had to open that side of the truck to get the torque wrench and the breaker bar. Mister Guy prefers to see what’s making the scary noise and merely moved to the back of his carrier and sat resigned. Mercedes got a good look at the scene outside the truck and just started crying until the door was shut and she was safe again.
The rest of the trip to Hollister was fairly uneventful. I was a little peeved to find that the directions to the park took us over a closed bridge, but there was a pretty easy workaround. Medoc Mountain State Park, named for a wine region rather than any actual resemblance to a mountain (or even a hill) was pretty and quiet. We changed sites when it became clear that as tired as we were we were not going to be able to get into our reserved site. Fortunately there was a pull through site open so we just moved the tag, and that was fine with the ranger when we talked to him later on. We took a rest day in Hollister, and had the best biscuits ever at a little diner in the town up the road.
Our last leg of the journey back to PA took us past the house, to Birdsboro and French Creek State Park. Compared to some of the State parks in other states, French Creek is pretty rustic. The sites are narrow and electric only. But we had a beautiful site , easy to get into. With only a few days in Pennsylvania before it would be time to drive to New Jersey for my family reunion, we opted not to transfer the cats into the house, which always stresses them a bit. Instead we stayed at the park, the cats got a rest, and we drove down to see MIL every day.
J and I took different vehicles to the shore so that we could bring my MIL down once she got out of the hospital. This worked out great, because I was able to easily pick up my cousins on the way and drive them down too. We had a great time. One of the aunts by marriage opened her house in Cape May and we were all able to get together and spend an excellent weekend. We went to Wildwood to the boardwalk one evening, and it hasn’t changed a bit from when I used to wander the boardwalk as a teen lo these mumble years ago. Really, it hasn’t changed. The same barkers, the same games and rides; even the T-shirts cost about the same as they used to, adjusted for inflation. The raucous call that will always take me and anyone else who’s been there right back to the boardwalk: “Watch the tram car, please!”
The trip to Cape May was the week surrounding the Fourth of July. On the friday after the Fourth, we headed back to PA and put the RV in storage for a week. That was just long enough to get the house more or less in order and make sure that my MIL was going to be ok for our next long absence. Before she’d gone in for surgery she’d arranged to adopt a cat from Cat Angels, our local PetSmart shelter. We think these folks do great work so we’re always happy to be able to help. She’d found an older cat, name of Shawnee, good alone and also friendly to other cats. That’s just what we need with our cats being in and out of the house and her traveling with us from time to time. We had thought we would be able to pick him up over the weekend so everyone would have a chance to meet and get to know one another, but as it turned out he’d caught a cold, so his fosterer wanted to keep him for a few more days to make sure he was completely healthy before we took him home. We wound up picking him up on Thursday the day before we left, and he stayed in her room for the one night that everyone was home together. He’s settling in pretty well according to her, he sits on the back of her overstuffed chair while she knits and they enjoy each other’s company.