Flashback Trip – Parkersburg, West Virginia

When we are not traveling, I am going to try to post a ‘Flashback Trip’ once a week. We have been so many places before buying an RV, that this might give people a chance to learn a little more about us –  What we like to see, do and find interesting when traversing the globe. Today I am going to wax poetic about West Virginia. West Virginia is a beautiful, beautiful state filled with impressive mountains, lush views, and winding rivers. We lived in Charles Town for 2 years (when we thought a 1.5 hour commute one way into VA & MD was ok).  In September of 2004, we decide to weave around the state of West Virginia, staying at a few B & B’s along the way. Even with the tropical storm that blew through, we were blown away by the beauty – but of all the towns my favorite was Parkersburg. I am an old house junkie, as is Keith. We like them for the architecture, the attention to detail and just the grandness they portray. Parkersburg, situated at the confluence of the Ohio and Little Kanawha River, suffered from a horrible flood when we were there, but we were still able to geocache, and do a lot of walking around while staying away from the areas that were flooding. We missed the antique stores because of this flood, but got to walk around neighborhoods featuring amazing houses like Julia Ann Square.  We even got to tour a house that was under renovation – people were that friendly! This is just what I imagined a small river town to be – although Parkersburg does have an interesting divide between historical and, well, not. As always when you are traveling, you don’t get to see everything. We missed out on the Fenton glass tour in nearby Williamstown, but that just gives us incentive to head back this way someday.



The Dangers of a Tick Bite

It has already happened, well before we head out to the wilderness and brave the wild world of nature. Keith was bit by a tick. It isn’t the first time, as when we where living in WV it happened, but it is the first time a doctor visit was required. (ok, technically the first time should have required a doc appt to make sure but I didn’t win that argument!)

We are currently renting a place that has a 100 acres, which means plenty of walking in taller grasses and around the ponds where a ton of animals & deer hang out. This equates to tick paradise and even though we do a ‘tick check’ on everyone after taking a walk, it’s no guarantee we got them all. As a precaution, I have also started to spray my ankles, pants and shoes with insect repellent, which should help. But back to the tick bite.

Something was bothering Keith’s back & he asked me to take a look. There was a huge red splotch and what looked like a dead bug. I didn’t even think about it being a tick (because it was dead and not engorged), and yanked it out. Well, that left some of the bug (tick) inside. After a few days, the rash did not diminish and seemed to get larger. I suggested Keith go to a doctor (which of course he declined). I know the best way to deal with these situations is to arm myself with facts, so out pops the laptop to read up on Lyme Disease. I know some of the symptoms are flu like conditions, which Keith wasn’t suffering from, but the rash was really bothering me.

I turned to The American Lyme Disease Foundation and began reading. Turns out, an expanding rash is one of the first symptoms. Keith made the doctor appointment. 😉 According to the doctor, there is no definitive test for Lyme Disease (?), so Keith will start a course of antibiotics to hopefully squash any other symptoms that might crop up. We’ll keep a watchful eye just in case, but it looks like the best thing that can be done is catch it early.

This is no way deters us from walking around the property, nor will it deter us from hiking trails wherever we travel. But it’s something that everyone should be aware of and to not delay in seeking a doctors opinion. Oh, and don’t go yanking out dead stuff out of your significant others body without taking an extra second to identify it. Just saying…


Our O’Day Sailboat is Sitting At The Road…

…Ready for another owner. As we downsize and sell off or donate things, most items are pretty easy to part with. We have a lot of ‘extra’ stuff that doesn’t really tug at the heartstrings. But this little boat that kept us afloat in the mean waters of Lake Ontario does a little tug. We had high hopes of sailing her more than we did, and we didn’t even get a chance to put her in the water down south (thank you broken leg!) We purchased the boat as a test for a long term plan. Keith had always been excited about sailing around the world, and while I thought it was a cool idea, didn’t really think I could do it. I started searching for blog to read about experiences and stumbled upon Handley Sail. Here was an older couple that were sailing around the world and having the most amazing adventures! (I highly recommend starting with year 1, they are on year 5 now and a few months from finally getting home to spend time with the grandbabies) Keith found it funny when I would pop into his office and say things like ‘ OH MY GOD, THEY HIT A WHALE’, or ‘The Handleys got caught in fishing nets in the middle of the ocean’, or ‘How cool! They are visiting with gorillas today’ When I broke my leg last year, I had to search to read again how she managed ON A BOAT with a broken leg. As you can tell, these people I have never met are my heroes. Keith appreciates them too because sailing around the world wasn’t nearly as crazy of a concept anymore.

So we bought a little 22 foot O’Day and sailed her on Lake Ontario for a few years. We had some scary moments trying to learn on such unpredictable waters & winds – but it was exhilarating. The bad thing? We couldn’t take our animals on an extended trip so we were on a 10 year plan of being ‘normal’ until we could take off. One of the things I was determined to do was to see the USA before we left, since I remain skeptical that if we leave, we would come back often. While we have both done a great deal of traveling & have seen the majority of states, there is still so much to see in this country! Enter Keith’s crazy idea #2. Living in an RV.

Take the animals in the RV? check – we can do that! See the rest of the country – check – we can do that in an RV! Work contracts until we can figure out how to work totally remote – check!  So here we are, on a countdown to RV fulltiming by the end of the year. Sadly, that means the evidence of Dream #1 has to go. The dream is still around though, and that is what matters. We hope someone will buy ‘Prelude’ and take very good care of her.

Campground Notes – R Shaefer Heard at West Point Lake

For our second shakedown trip, we decided to just head a few miles down the road to West Point Lake. There are a few campgrounds around the lake, but we stuck to the Georgia side and stayed at R Shaefer Heard, one of the largest. This park is affiliated with the Army Corp of Engineers and if we can find parks like this to stay at, we would be happy campers indeed!

We stayed at spot #39 and loved it. If you are looking to be social, or want a clear view of the lake – this might not be the spot for you. However, if you want to feel like you are the only one in the park (outside the people driving by and the motorboats that is) this is a fabulous spot. Drive through site with more than enough room for your tow (and then some) –  we had thick trees separating us from any other spots, and a short walk to the lake. This spot does have a pretty severe dropoff when you get to the lake however as a warning!

This isn’t the only great spot however – we found the majority of them to be spacious with great views. Some have decks you can use, all seem kept up and level. Many require backing down a hill and have size limitations, but we found that recreation.gov listed the maximum length for each spot. We even saw some people bring their boats right up to the camping spot which was pretty cool.

We were here in early March, so it wasn’t super busy. I can see how this could become quite the party central in the summer with the lake, but it was rather serene when we visited. Sites do not have sewer so come prepared tank -wise. This was our first time at a dumping station and there seemed to be quite a bit of room for lines (even though it throats down rather early making it a little more difficult for people to navigate), and two dump stations available making our wait while leaving minimal.

All in all, we enjoyed our stay here. Lake views, plenty of loops & trails to walk Samantha, and privacy. 

To see more pictures of our trip to West Point Lake, visit the Geeky Explorers page on Facebook. ‘Like’ us as we will be putting all of our pictures that don’t make it up to the site there.



Second Shakedown RV trip to West Point Lake

Hello from chilly West Point Lake in Georgia. Yes, that is about 5 miles from our rental home. 🙂 We wanted to make one more short trip to test out the rest of the RV before we haul it in for new tires & some work. We stayed 2 nights instead of 1 which was nice – we actually had a relaxing Saturday! No wifi and no piles of stuff to sort, sell, etc. I think Samantha liked the break as well – no Great Pyrnees stalking her & her house, no cats to take care of, walks around the park – even if it does include a pesky leash. Everyone needs a little vacation!

Here is what we learned on this trip:

When making popcorn on the stove, vent the kitchen. The smoke alarm works.

When the coffee maker breaks, you can make coffee by boiling water on the stove with a tied up filter & some grounds. I don’t think it will ever be Starbucks approved, but it was drinkable!

Having a tow vehicle is a must – it was nice to drive into ‘town’ (West Point) even if there wasn’t much there to do but walk around. I am impressed that people travel without one!

The TV position wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be, so we will replace it with a flat screen. We watched Once, which we really liked. It’s nice to watch a film that doesn’t have a Hollywood ending and to watch a type of film where both of the previewed films (Waitress & The Namesake) are also now in the netflix queue.

Gray water tank needs to be about 80 times larger. Seriously! Okay, I know that this really means is we need to conserve water a lot better. By Sunday morning we didn’t even take showers yet and the tank reads ¾. Ouch! We do not use paper products, so a lot of it was dishwashing & cook prep. Not sure how this bodes for our boondocking opportunities, but time will tell. Another downside to a gas Class A that isn’t a fully equipped tank wise as some diesel pushers out there. We also found out what happens when the tank gets full. No more water. At least there is no confusion and chance for overflowing. 🙂

I also ran the Splendide washer/dryer and need to research how many gallons of water that takes. I am hoping that is what is pushing our gray water to a high level quickly! I found that this worked WAY better than expected. I did some reading and many people seem to have problems with clothes coming out super wrinkled & unwearable. I was thinking if that was to be the case, it wouldn’t be worth the weight. Well, I will have to give up the idea of only doing wash once a week, but my test load was yoga pants, a thin long sleeved hoodie, a tank top & some undies. Washed & dryed AWESOME with NO wrinkles. Now, I hope to be able to put a little more in but it seems like the key is not to stuff it with clothes. I am sure we will still have to hit the laundrymat but the less of that the better!

We ran into an issue with the propane not heating the water and having to use electric. Because we are 30 amp, we then had to do some switch flipping to use the microwave. Good times. The electric did heat the water, not sure yet why the propane didn’t. It seemed to fire so we are not quite sure on that one.

Speaking of microwave convection oven, my first attempt at brownies failed. I read the instructions, lowered the heat as indicated & they were a TOTAL fail. The tops were still good, but that’s was it! I decided to not follow the instructions when baking dinner, and it turned out perfect. Hmmmm…. I may have said this before, but if this is going to be my home, things we do at home have to transfer well here. I know there will be modifications, but still – we need to cook! So for dinner we made a grain mustard marinated tilapia, a spicy split pea and sauteed peppers. Okay, we cheated on the split pea since that was leftover from dinner on thursday that we made in the house, but still. We could bake in the convection oven & it worked, Keith used the outdoor kitchen for extra space and that seemed to work out. Now to figure out where our wine cellar goes…

For more pictures, visit Geeky Explorers on Facebook & like us – that’s where we’ll be putting all the extra pics for our posts!