Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Epic Adventure 2: The Journey Begins... (Part 1 of 6)

Our U-haul CT-13 fiberglass camper and 2011 Kia Sorento loaded up to head out on our epic adventure.
Three years ago we took our camper out on what we called our first epic adventure. The ten day trip to South Dakota and back was the longest road trip we'd made since having kids. We had a blast and it proved to us that we could handle long road trips as a family with our little camper. As soon as we got home, we started discussing what other adventures we'd like to tackle. Life has been busy in the past few years. My wife has gone back to school and my job has changed and gotten busier. This summer we knew my wife had a break in her schedule and wasn't going to be taking classes. So we set it as the target for our next epic adventure with our family and little camper. Unlike my first epic adventure post, I'm going to split this one up in to multiple posts because an epic adventure deserves a bit more space. So sit back and I hope you enjoy the tale.

My wife grew up like a lot of young girls in 80s as a big fan of Anne of Green Gables. This love of the book and the movies, would make it her heart's desire to see the land of Anne some day: Prince Edward Island. This became a life long dream of hers that would hopefully come to fruition this summer if I could make it happen. I spent the spring planning routes and details for the trip and prepping the camper and our tow vehicle for it's longest voyage yet. This journey was going to be close to 4000 miles.

We had wanted to get the camper painted since we got her but had never made it a priority. I decided in May to get her painted and cleaned up before the trip. I also did some other maintenance jobs on the camper like new tires/wheels and adding a second spare tire. I also spent some time really focusing on how I would pack for this trip. As we learned with our first long haul, when you have to use your camper to sleep in along the way to the destination, you can't store everything in it unless you want to shuffle stuff between the car and camper all the time. Some maintenance and modifications were done to our Kia Sorento (tow vehicle) also in preparation.

We had talked about this trip for many years and had roughed out ideas of how to make it happen. Since I work remote, I could work some of the trip but I didn't want to be buried in my work the entire time. So a plan developed in which I would solo with our dog and work/camp up toward Maine. My wife and the kids would fly up and meet me later. Flights to Manchester, New Hampshire were cheaper than Maine so we booked and planned for me to pick them up there. Then we would head off for Prince Edward Island and work our way home through Acadia and some New England states trying to visit some friends and family along the way.

On June 24th, I left out of our Georgia home and said good bye to the wife and kids. Zelda (our dog) and I were packed and ready to begin. I drove the first day to Apex, NC, where a cousin of mine had moved to and got to spend the night with their family. It been a few years since I'd seen them so was great to catch up. I arrived just in time for a gully washer that revealed a leak with the new window I had installed. So there was something else to fix when I had time.

On Sunday, I left Apex and headed for Washington, D.C. My corporate home office is located there and I thought I'd stop in for a couple days and check on the rest of my team at work. The driving was good, the weather was nice that day. I took the I295 bypass north around Richmond as it was supposed to be faster but I had to slow down due to the road being rough and causing a lot of trailer bounce. I hate the bounce of concrete roads; much prefer the smoothness of asphalt. It seemed like every bridge transition had a major dip which would cause a lot of bounce. So I'm not sure that I really saved much time due to having to drive slower.

U-haul CT-13 fiberglass camper at campsite in Cherry Hill Park.
Basically the site was all gravel under nice shady trees.
In DC, one of the closest campgrounds is the Cherry Hill Park. Technically, it's in College Park, MD. but it's near the I495 perimeter and I95 on the north side of DC. It's not far from the Greenbelt metro station so you can ride the metro into the city (which I always do when I fly in for work). Cherry Hill Park has a lot of amenities. They have a camp store, cafe, 2 pools, splash pad, hot tub, fishing pond, laundry rooms, movie theater and an exercise room. There are also several playgrounds for the little ones. All the sites are full hookup except for the tent only sites and Wifi and cable are included. Of course you are paying a premium for location and all these features. With my GoodSam discount it came to $63/night for a small shady back-in site. However, that's a lot cheaper than a hotel in DC I can tell you. It's less than half of what my hotel cost per night for my previous trip in March up there. The staff was very friendly. I had asked about late checkout option and they told me I could check out at 6pm for a half-day fee when I had originally booked my site. I called the office while I was there just to verify that they were still ok with me staying late. The lady told me yes. She then called me back a few minutes later because she forgot to mention the cost and wanted to make sure I was ok with that (which of course I was since they'd told me that originally).

our dog Zelda taking up one of the kids spots in the back seat for the first week of our trip.
Zelda got to ride in the kids seat for the
first week while it was just the 2 of us.
Enjoying her setup with the kids book box,
Doubles as water cup holder and dog food mat 
I ended up in site 1512. I had asked for a shady site and this site fit the bill. It was also extra wide compared to most of the other sites. Across from me were some tent only sites. I walked around the campground and it's huge. I can only guess they probably have over 100 sites. Some of the sites are definitely close together almost like a parking lot but they do have grass and a fair number of trees around the campground. There are 3 bath houses and the one that was closest to me was still a bit of a hike to get to. One nice touch is that they have street lanterns on the end of each row with a sidewalk path. So I didn't even feel like I needed to use my headlamp at night walking to the bathroom.

The weather was refreshing in D.C. The first night it got down to around 60F and a bit cooler the second night. Highs were low 80sF the first day and high 70sF the second. There was also a good breeze most of the time which made it feel amazing. The week before they'd been in the 90sF so I was happy the weather had shifted cooler for a bit. Having camped in Georgia in 90sF with no AC, I can tell you it's not fun.

Tuesday late afternoon after a full day of work and meetings, it was time to head on and put some miles between me and DC. I was adjusting my schedule to work in the mornings and drive in the late afternoon/evenings. I had till 4pm on Friday to make it to Manchester with no real solid plans in between other than some conference calls and meetings I was going to need to pull over and deal with along the way.

The adventure continues with Epic Adventure 2: The Soloing Stride (Part 2).