Happy to leave Bethpage, I packed up, battened down the hatches, took the RV for my first dump station experience, and then drove off to Brooklyn to pick up my friend Margaret, who had agreed to join me on this Shakedown cruise. We planned to drive the Jersey Turnpike all the way south through a tiny bit of Delaware, and on into Maryland, to Elk Neck State Park. It was about 150 miles from Brooklyn to the park.
We left just after the morning rush hour, and the rig handled perfectly. There was something rattling in the kitchen and I pulled over a couple times, to try to find it. Still not sure what it was, but I did quiet things down back there.
The weather wasn’t great—cool, gray, 60% chance of rain, so we decided to tour around a bit on our way to the campground. We stopped to get gas, fill up the air shocks, check the tire pressure and have lunch on the turnpike. How do you check or fill the inner of the dual tires on the back of a rig like this? I had no idea. After my hair-raising over-height adventures in Queens and Long Island, it was a relief to see my rig as a little pip squeak next to the big boys in the parking lot.
The turnpike became really interesting to drive as the speeds got up above 70, when a cross-wind blew in from somewhere. Buffeted by the wind, the rig suddenly hopped sideways, putting my right front wheel over the line and into the next lane. Fortunately, no one was there at that moment. Now I understand the speed restrictions imposed on highways and bridges for stormy, windy days. I slowed down and got in line behind a semi, and was very happy to be there. With the wind, it took a bit of work to stay in my lane, and I was still a little anxious due to the size and speed of the beastie boys traveling along, mere inches from my mirrors, it seemed. But we all played nice, and got where we were going, no problems, but I was very happy when it was time to exit the interstate and noodle along on local roads again.
We found our way to the Delaware and Chesapeake Canal museum. A perfect stop for a raw drizzly day. Very interesting to see exhibits about how the locks worked, and amazing to see the giant old wooden water wheel, capable of lifting a million gallons of water per hour, that would fill the lock to float boats and barges up-stream. I am in awe of the ingenuity and grit of the people who invented and made these massive, coal-fired steam engines to do work on this scale. In addition to learning the history of the canal, I love old drop-forged tools, and this little museum had plenty of those on display, so it was a happy hour we spent there.
Temperatures were predicted to be mid-forties over night with rain, so we drove on to the campground. Spring break holiday from school found us, and just a few other RV’s in the park. Evening set-up and dinner was very easy, since I had a few portions of excellent crock pot chili leftover in the fridge. I thought we would play some scrabble, after doing the dishes, but the hot shower in the bath house informed me that what I really wanted to do was be horizontal in my bed with a book. I was happy to find that banquette converted to a lovely bed and was just as comfy as the full size one in the back of the motor home. I think we both made it to about ten o’clock, and then it was lights out.
Thankfully, the rain that had been predicted decided to hold off until evening. We watched a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers find their breakfast on a fallen tree just outside as we ate our oatmeal. Motor home as bird blind! I was surprised how large these guys were in comparison to the little downies I see on my brother’s feeder. Eventually, we dressed and pulled on our hiking boots. Margaret is a research librarian, so when I asked her to map, and print out our route from the city to this spot, she also found some interesting side trips we could have done if it was a total wash-out rainy day, but instead, we got to use the hiking trail maps she had printed. Our hike around the pond loop was pretty and quiet, and we both remembered how much we enjoy walking somewhere we haven’t been before: the smells and textures, sounds of the breeze through mostly bare tree branches, a few challenging inclines to negotiate while remaining vertical. It was good to find we were both still up for a hiking trail deemed intermediate.
We only had one full day in Maryland—didn’t do it justice—but this was about the shake down, not the destination. Margaret never had her vacation ice cream cone, and we didn’t have time to have crabs for lunch. Guess we’ll have to return.