May 2004


Our two weeks in the Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD area went by in a flash.  The military campground at Fort Meade is barely a year old, situated next to a small lake bordered by a walking path - a favorite daily walk.  We saw lots of gophers, a pair of beavers, ducks, geese, and a red fox.   A bike ride one day brought us to an old fort cemetery, in which there were several hundred graves, 70% of which were children who died suddenly in the early 50s.  Why that is has yet to be answered, even after a trip to the Fort Meade Museum.   We’ll continue to work on that unsolved mystery.


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The Naval Academy was inspiring.  John Paul Jones' crypt was located below the chapel.

Larry’s Aunt Loretta and Uncle Bill introduced us to the world’s best crab cakes at G & M Restaurant, near Baltimore.  The crab cakes lived up to their reputation and warranted a second stop towards the end of our stay there.  Bill & Loretta were our tour guides for Annapolis and the Naval Academy, where besides seeing the beautiful chapel and John Paul Jones’ crypt, we watched the midshipmen assemble for lunch – very ceremonial and impressive. 

We saw Old Town in Alexandria, VA, on a walking tour, conducted by Lucille’s cousin Richard

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Our walking tour of Old Town Alexandria included historic buildings and a view of the Capitol.

 and his friend Dixie.  Torpedoes used to be made in Alexandria – the building remains on the waterfront and has been renovated with several arts and antique shops within.  Just a short walk down the pier and there’s a beautiful view of the nation’s Capitol Building across the Potomac.  Richard was our tour guide when we went to Mount Vernon on Mother’s Day, at which time we listened to Martha Washington discuss motherhood and hand out lavender sachets from her private recipe.    At Mount Vernon, we learned about rustification – a technique that transformed plain wooden siding into faux concrete blocks.  George Washington also developed a painting technique that converted common pine boards into simulated walnut-grained paneling – a skill that had to be perfected recently when areas of Mount Vernon were renovated.

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Washington's Mt. Vernon was built of wood and used a process called rustification to create faux concrete blocks.

You can easily spend a week in Washington, DC, and still not see everything to be seen.  We condensed our visit to two days, trying to see memorials and monuments we hadn’t seen on an earlier visit years ago.  Most ‘memorable’ this time around were:  the FDR Memorial, a beautifully laid out testament to a very popular president; the Korean War Memorial – 19 larger than life-size soldiers marching in full gear, with their reflections doubled against a marble wall, symbolizing the 38th parallel; and the most special – the new World War II Memorial, just recently opened.  It is not as somber as either the Korean or Vietnam Memorials, but certainly as thought provoking.  A guided trolley tour through Arlington Cemetery got us to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in time to witness the changing of the guard.  Nearby can be found memorials to the Challenger and Columbia astronauts and the mast from the USS Maine, whose sinking may have started the Spanish-American war.  We saw the famed pandas at the National Zoo, still the biggest draw for the zoo according to one of the docents we met. 

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The World War II Monument while not as somber as other war memorials is certainly impressive.

Lessons learned from DC – bring lots of money and tons of patience.  The monuments, zoo and memorials charge no admission but parking, when it can be found, is pricey.  Traffic is atrocious, even during off hours.  Taking public transportation is highly recommended.  And do a better job doing homework than we did – you need tickets to go up the Washington Monument, available on site only, for the next day. 

Since our last update, we’ve been meandering around New England.  We stayed one week at a private campground in Thomaston, CT, close to both of our families. Larry’s mother and his brothers Brian, Bruce, and David, and their families, are in that area, as well as Lucille’s youngest brother Ray and his family.  We met our newest great-niece – boy, are we feeling old! 

 Our timing was perfect - niece Ashley’s drama club put on a play that weekend.  Despite the very warm weather and lack of air conditioning and fans, once these very talented kids started performing, all discomfort was immediately forgotten.  Jessicca, Ashley’s older sister, proudly introduced us to all her friends, classmates and teachers while we awaited the play to begin.  We spent an enjoyable Sunday keeping up with nieces Katie & Jessie (and their parents) at Lake Compounce in Bristol, CT, the longest continuously running amusement park in the nation.  Harry Houdini and Orson Welles performed there in the past.


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Relaxing at the West Thompson Army Corps of Engineers Park.

Next destination was West Thompson Lake, a beautiful Corps of Engineer campground located in the northeast corner of CT, where we had the honor of being the first guests for the season.  Park hosts Jan & Mase and Pat & John stayed busy as we played musical sites.  We had made our reservations online, picking out a site based on a computer-generated map.  When we checked in and actually saw the site, we knew it would be a tight fit for our RV/truck combo to maneuver.  Even with Mase and John helping Larry back up, we just weren’t going to fit.  Online maps don’t show corners, trees, water pipes and poles, so they assigned us another site good for six days out of the seven, moving to a different site on Day 7.  And, because we planned on returning there for a few days after the Memorial Day weekend, we were assigned still another site.  We kidded the hosts that we were actually secret site testers as we had either parked in or attempted to park in 40% of their water and electric sites during our short stay there.            

 Since early March, we have been following spring north and have enjoyed seeing trees leafing out and dogwoods blooming in every state we have been in.  While at the Corps campground, we hiked around the lake.  Larry’s eagle eye spotted Jack-in-the-Pulpits and pink Ladyslippers, as well as rhodendron in full bloom.  New England is truly beautiful this time of the year. 

 Our Memorial Day weekend location was Horseneck Beach State Park in Westport Point, MA, right on the Atlantic, just southwest of Cape Cod.  Larry’s brother Brian and his wife Bonnie joined us for an enjoyable and relaxing weekend.  Horseneck has no hookups and no shade, but the weather cooperated and actually was a little on the cool side.  The park’s description states there is a constant breeze – that is putting it mildly!  Walking on the beach against the wind was challenging and quite a workout.

 Shortly after our return to West Thompson, we visited Larry’s oldest brother George and his wife at their home in Rhode Island – they had recently moved and were less than 20 miles from the campground.  And for those of you counting – yes, Larry has four brothers and we were glad we had an opportunity to visit with them all.

We made a quick round trip to the Albany, NY, area to pick up our Starband satellite internet system.  Starband is just getting into the RV market for portable systems, offering training and certification as part of the package.  Now that we travel full time, we depend on internet access to pay our bills, do our banking, and most importantly, stay connected to our friends and family.  Once we get to a campground site with a clear view of the skies, we’ll play with our new toy.



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