Friday, August 28, 2015

Camping, Glamping...and then there's JELLYSTONE!

Like everything  else in life, there are all kinds of campers... Hard-core back-packers who sleep under the stars, tenters, basic vans, pop-ups, campers, trailers, 5th wheels that can be small, or even bigger and more fancy than the big class A motor homes, big fancy diesel pushers up to 45' with as many bells and whistles as you can imagine, and now many campgrounds have cabins and trailers to rent as well.  So, "camping" has taken on it's own meaning.

In our 4 years of full-timing, we've camped in a couple of rest stops, some state parks, national parks, small and large family owned campgrounds, KOA's, a county park, a city park, two farms, and a few "resorts".  Almost all of them have been quite nice, a few have been really beautiful.  Most have been "natural", peaceful, and quiet...what we would call "camping"... until we came to JELLYSTONE.

Two weeks ago we had the pleasure of meeting up with our eastern grandchildren who live in up-state New York.  Because they are so far East, we don't get to visit with them very often, so when we do, we try to spend as much time as we can with them having fun.  There are five of them, ages 5 to 14, so keeping them entertained, is quite a challenge!  It was suggested that we try camping at the Jellystone Campground at Garrattsville, a half hour away from where they live, as "it has everything!"  So, that's what we did. 

Well..."camping" is a very loose term for it.  Yes, you are in an RV, or a tent, or a cabin, but it pretty much ends there!  First of all, forget about the "peace and quiet", and I'm not referring to the kids, because I expected that (and honestly, they were pretty good) it was all that traffic!  I've never in all my life seen so many cars, trucks, vans, and golf carts coming and going, back and forth, up and down all day & night!  You'd think people forgot how to walk!  Granted, the park was pretty large...but not that large! I also thought how strange that a park who's sole purpose was to entertain kids, had a staff that, for the most part, was completely bored!  Only 4, out of about 20, were friendly and smiled at the kids and interacted with them, while the others couldn't be bothered at all.  Granted, I tend to watch staff a bit closer, having been a supervisor over this type of staff for so many years...but still...

The campsites themselves were a bit odd.  Each area was completely different, and if you didn't know the campground before you booked (we didn't, and really lucked out!) you could be in a great place, or in an awful one.  Our site was in a cul-de-sac (yellow) that was always in the shade, no matter how hot or sunny the day was.  That would be great if it had been in the 80's +, but unfortunately, it wasn't and it even rained several times.  The sites there were very uneven, very lumpy and bumpy, making it difficult to level the rig.  Worse tho, was that the hook-ups were way up front of the "back-in" site.  Now, for anyone reading this that doesn't own a motorhome, what that means, is that, it doesn't work for us - as our hook-ups are in the back!  Weird.  This is the very first time we've ever seen this at any campground we have been in!  We ended up moving 3 times to find a spot that would work!

Now, my son's campsite was just across the road (brown across from the blue), out of the cul-de-sac, and his was in total sun, not a bit of shade!  The one great thing about both our sites tho, was that they were close to all the activities - the pool, the pavilion, the boat dock, the slip-n-slide, the lake and the arcade.  That sure made it nice for all of us! 

The pool and the slip-n-slide were not heated, and the temperatures just didn't stay hot all week, so we still got some "I'm bored", but we all seem to manage.  Rainy days turned into "movie days" (thank goodness for Grandma's movie collection!) and "baking time"!

Like all vacations, it comes to an end.  Dirty cloths, art projects and souvenirs gathered, along with our newly baked goodies, all packed and ready to go back to Mom & Dad's. 
Hugs & kisses given and off they went.  Jack and I sat back, looked around and just sighed.

Don't think we'll do a Jellystone again...just not our style...looking forward to the good ol' fashioned peace and quiet kind of camping...;-)

...On the road to Vermont,  Marie

Saturday, August 8, 2015

A quick visit to Pittsburgh!

I've been remiss in getting a blog out lately... I've had a bad case of the "retired lady relaxing syndrome".  Have you ever heard of it?  It's where you just want to sit around and do a lot of...nothing!  ;-)  So, that's pretty much been my "symptoms"!  I've read a couple of nice "summer books", taken some leisurely strolls around the towns and campgrounds we've been in, done some very mild sight-seeing (with very little photography) and sat and enjoyed late afternoon & evening campfires...and that's about it!  So, not much to talk about...except...I did want to share the last stop we made before we left Pennsylvania, and that was to Pittsburgh!

One day in Pittsburgh was not enough, but we jammed in as much as we could!  We started off at the Cathedral of Learning at the  University of Pittsburgh.  The University itself is quite something to see, but all we took time for was the Cathedral of Learning.  It is a 42 story Gothic Revival building that is the tallest educational building in the Western hemisphere and the 2nd tallest university building in the world!  Building began in 1921 and the first class was held in 1931.

But why we were there, was to see the "Nationality Rooms"!  29 Classrooms, designed to celebrate a different culture that had an influence on Pittsburgh's growth, depicting an era prior to (or in the singular case of the French Classroom, just after) 1787, which is the year of the university's founding and the signing of the US Constitution.  The Nationality Room programs began in 1926 when Bowman decided that he wanted to involve the community as much as he could in constructing the Cathedral, so he proposed that each nationality that had a significant number of people in Pittsburgh would be allowed to design their nationality's room for the Cathedral. Each group had to form a Room Committee, which would be responsible for all fundraising, designing, and acquisition. The university provided only the room and, upon completion, upkeep for perpetuity. All other materials, labor, and design were provided by the individual committees. These were sometimes aided by foreign governments and the rooms contain many authentic artifacts and materials from the country represented.

 They give you a mobile tour guide and a key, and you are on your own to check out each room at your own pace.  Appropriate "theme" music accompanies each of the narration.  Each room was spectacular!  We thought we would just "check out a couple" and then go on about seeing the rest of the city, but we were captivated.  With my love of photographing architecture, doors and windows, I was in heaven!  I have to say, this was one of the most unique experiences we've come across in a very long time!

Indian Room
 Swiss Room

 Polish Room
 Chinese Room

 Chinese Room
Well, that took us all morning, so it was time to eat!  Jack's cousin said to "be sure and head over to 'the strip' to Wholey's Fish Market for the best seafood you'll find anywhere!"  So that's what we did...and he was right, yum!  Cool place too, that "strip" area!  

                            The Strip Mural by Carley Parrish & Shannon Pultz (c2010)

Time was getting away from us, so off we dashed to the Duquesne Incline that goes up to the top of Mt Washington.  This gave us a wonderful view of the city!  It was such a clear day, we could see all over the city and down all three rivers: The Ohio, the Allegheny, and the Monongahela.  Incredible!  

                                                   Duquesne Incline (c1877) elev 400'

Well, by then it was "commute time" for those poor people who still have to work for a, we decided the best thing to do, was to take a little walk down the street and have a nice cool glass of wine and just sit back and enjoy the lovely view and wait for the traffic to clear...and then head slowly back to our nice quiet campsite.  

The rest of Pittsburgh will have to wait until another day...we will be back again, I'm sure! 

...kicking back in New York state,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at: