Category Archives: Maryland

Maryland Part III: Displacement

It is a good thing that our first impression of Maryland was positive, because our last week in that state was completely frustrating. We needed repairs to the interior and to the engine. We had to move out for the work to be done and the logistics became very convoluted as time passed.

We left the KOA on Sunday, July 6th, and drove the Monaco to the front parking lot of the Custom Coach location. We stayed there overnight because we wanted be there when they opened at 8:00 AM, without battling morning rush hour traffic. It wasn't in the nicest neighborhood, so we stayed inside with the door locked and window shades drawn. We only went outside a few times when the dogs needed a potty break.

We left the KOA on Sunday, July 6th, and drove the Monaco to the front parking lot of the Custom Coach location. We stayed there overnight because we wanted be there when they opened at 8:00 AM, without battling morning rush hour traffic. It wasn’t in the nicest neighborhood, so we stayed inside with the door locked and window shades drawn. We only went outside a few times when the dogs needed a potty break.

Since we were displaced while the work on the coach was completed, we rented a carriage house through vrbo.com. The location was in a suburb north of Washington D.C., and the online description and photos made it seem like a quaint option for us. However,  words and photos can be deceiving. The place was a total pit. I think they furnished it with pieces they pulled out of a dumpster. The air conditioning control was in the main house, so we had no control of our own interior climate. The weather temperatures were very mild that week, but since there were no screens on the windows, we could not even open them for fresh air. The bed was so soft, it was like sleeping in a hammock. Even though they said the kitchen was fully equipped, there wasn't even a coffee maker. The only redeeming factor was that we could watch deer graze in the yard each evening. We were there from Monday until Friday.

Since we were displaced while the work on the coach was completed, we rented a carriage house through vrbo.com. The location was in a suburb north of Washington D.C., and the online description and photos made it seem like a quaint option for us. However, words and photos can be deceiving. The place was a total pit. I think they furnished it with pieces they pulled out of a dumpster. The air conditioning control was in the main house, so we had no control of our own interior climate. The weather temperatures were very mild that week, but since there were no screens on the windows, we could not even open them for fresh air. The bed was so soft, it was like sleeping in a hammock. Even though they said the kitchen was fully equipped, there wasn’t even a coffee maker. The only redeeming factor was that we could watch deer graze in the yard each evening. We were there from Monday until Friday.

We spent most of our time during the vrbo stay waiting on the shop to call (or not call), and let us know when the repairs would be complete. We did get out one day and take the metro into D.C. so we could visit the National Air & Space Museum.

We spent most of our time during the vrbo stay waiting on the shop to call (or not call), and let us know when the repairs would be complete. We did get out one day and take the metro into D.C. so we could visit the National Air & Space Museum.

My absolute favorite thing in the museum was this record that went up in each of the Voyager flights. It was something that could be shared with any other possible alien civilizations to tell them about Planet Earth and its inhabitants. The scientists were so smart, they even included instructions on how to build a phonograph in order to play the record. Brilliant!

My absolute favorite thing in the museum was this record that went up in each of the Voyager flights. It was something that could be shared with any other possible alien civilizations to tell them about Planet Earth and its inhabitants. The scientists were so smart, they even included instructions on how to build a phonograph in order to play the record. Brilliant!

Since I tend to drag Mikey to every imaginable botanical garden we encounter, I figured he would appreciate spending an afternoon learning about a subject he is actually interested in!

Since I tend to drag Mikey to every imaginable botanical garden we encounter, I figured he would appreciate spending an afternoon learning about a subject he is actually interested in!

It is funny to me that a sophisticated scientific tool like the Hubble Telescope looks like it is covered in Reynolds Wrap.

It is funny to me that a sophisticated scientific tool like the Hubble Telescope looks like it is covered in Reynolds Wrap.

We finally got the Monaco out of the Custom Coach location, and decided we should have an oil leak in the engine examined while we were already displaced. We picked it up from the first shop and drove it a few miles down the road to deliver it to a Cummins repair shop. Our reservation at the VRBO location had expired, and we could not extend our stay because they had already booked their next guests. We packed up all our gear (including the contents of our fridge and freezer), and moved into the Marriott Towne Suites down the street from the NSA complex in Annapolis Junction.

We finally got the Monaco out of the Custom Coach location, and decided we should have an oil leak in the engine examined while we were already displaced. We picked it up from the first shop and drove it a few miles down the road to deliver it to a Cummins repair shop. Our reservation at the VRBO location had expired, and we could not extend our stay because they had already booked their next guests. We packed up all our gear (including the contents of our fridge and freezer), and moved into the Marriott Towne Suites down the street from the NSA complex in Annapolis Junction.

A taqueria inside of a Shell Gas Station that was featured on Diner's, Drive-Ins and Dives happened to be just down the road from our hotel room. You can bet I picked up dinner for us while we were so close.

A taqueria inside of a Shell Gas Station that was featured on Diner’s, Drive-Ins and Dives happened to be just down the road from our hotel room. You can bet I picked up dinner for us while we were so close.

We stayed in the hotel for about 4 nights before the manager informed us we would have to check out because they were fully booked. The folks at Cummins gave us different progress reports each day. First they would tell us that they had ordered the part they needed and were waiting for it to be shipped. The next day they would tell us they were waiting for Monaco to call they back so we could order the part... What? I thought the part was already ordered. It is a Cummins engine that is leaking, why on earth do you need a part from Monaco? After we were checked out of our second hotel, we just went to the Cummins lounge and parked ourselves in the Customer Lounge until we got a straight answer.

We stayed in the hotel for about 4 nights before the manager informed us we would have to check out because they were fully booked. The folks at Cummins gave us different progress reports each day. First them would tell us that they had ordered the part they needed and were waiting for it to be shipped. The next day they would tell us they were waiting for Monaco to call they back so we could order the part… What? I thought the part was already ordered. It is a Cummins engine that is leaking, why on earth do you need a part from Monaco? After we were checked out of our second hotel, we just went to the Cummins lounge and parked ourselves in the Customer Lounge until we got a straight answer.

After almost one week at Cummins, a competent Manager dialed into our case, and facilitated what needed to happen for the repairs to take place. When we were set to go, they realized how terrible the service had been and comped the repairs with a simple handshake. Since the original estimate had been over $700, we felt like we were treated fairly in the end. We did not leave Cummins until after 5:00 PM with strong thunderstorms approaching, so we drove about 3 miles down the road and boon docked in a Walmart parking lot. Travel to Pennsylvania would come the next day after the traffic and weather cleared, and after we finally got a good night's rest.

After almost one week at Cummins, a competent Manager dialed into our case, and facilitated what needed to happen for the repairs to take place. When we were set to go, they realized how terrible the service had been and comped the repairs with a simple handshake. Since the original estimate had been over $700, we felt like we were treated fairly in the end. We did not leave Cummins until after 5:00 PM with strong thunderstorms approaching, so we drove about 3 miles down the road and boon docked in a Walmart parking lot. Travel to Pennsylvania would come the next day after the traffic and weather cleared, and after we finally got a good night’s rest.

I was so happy to be back in our own space that I celebrated by cleaning my fridge and freezer before reloading it with all the frozen and cold items we had been schlepping all over the Baltimore/ D.C. metro areas.

I was so happy to be back in our own space that I celebrated by cleaning my fridge and freezer before reloading it with all the frozen and cold items we had been schlepping all over the Baltimore/ D.C. metro areas.

Maryland Part II: Millersville

We were originally only supposed to spend two weeks in Maryland. It is a small state, and we were in a hurry to keep moving north so we could get through Pennsylvania and New York in time to turn south again  – ahead of the cold weather that the fall season would start to bring. However, the Monaco had a different plan for us. You might remember that on our last night back in West Virginia, there was a short (but fierce) storm that sent a limb crashing into our roof somewhere. Guess what… the damage from the limb caused the awful leak over our electronics cabinet to reappear. Mike contacted our insurance company and they helped us line up the repairs. This is where the logistics became a problem. We originally planned to check out of our campground in Woodbine on July 3rd. However, if we put the coach in the shop that day (which was a Thursday), they would be closed for the holiday on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We would have been paying to stay in a hotel while our rig was sitting in the shop with no one working on it. The Woodbine park was fully booked for the holiday weekend, so we could not extend our reservation at that location. We had to find somewhere else to go from Thursday to Monday… then deliver the coach on Monday morning when the repair shop re-opened for business. That is how we ended up at the KOA in Millersville. It was the only campground between Baltimore, Annapolis and D.C. that had an opening.

We made the most of our ‘layover’. We went back to visit Baltimore and Annapolis again. The best part is that this little glitch allowed us to experience the 4th of July in our nation’s capitol. Not something I would ever attempt again, but worth the experience just once!

The KOA in Millersville tags itself as a Washington D.C. campground, even though it is 45 minutes away. This is the second most expensive park we have stayed in (the first was a VERY nice one in Key West). For $70 per night we did not even get a sewer connection or a full 50 amps of power. In the morning, I tried to enjoy my coffee at my computer while our neighbor blew cigarette smoke straight up into my open window. She couldn't help it... she was sitting at her own picnic table. Its okay, we were desperate.

The KOA in Millersville tags itself as a Washington D.C. campground, even though it is 45 minutes away. This is the second most expensive park we have stayed in (the first was a VERY nice one in Key West). For $70 per night we did not even get a sewer connection or a full 50 amps of power. In the morning, I tried to enjoy my coffee at my computer while our neighbor blew cigarette smoke straight up into my open window. She couldn’t help it… she was sitting at her own picnic table. It is okay, we were desperate.

Another excellent recommendation from my friend, Dina, was to eat more crab at Cantler's Riverside Inn outside of Annapolis. There was a two-hour wait for our table, but this was our view while we passed the time and the bar let us take drinks outside to the waiting area. It turned out to be a great Saturday night outing.

Another excellent recommendation from my friend, Dina, was to eat more crab at Cantler’s Riverside Inn outside of Annapolis. There was a two-hour wait for our table. However, this was our view while we passed the time, and the bar let us take drinks outside to the waiting area. It turned out to be a great Saturday night outing.

We went back to Baltimore one last time while we were parked at the KOA. On our first daytrip, we found a great little place in Fell's Point that had outside tables where the dogs were allowed. Every hour they rang a big bell and all drinks at the bar were 1/2 price for 5 minutes! Mike really loved it there, so we went back!

We went back to Baltimore one last time while we were parked at the KOA. On our first daytrip, we found a great little place in Fell’s Point that had outside tables where the dogs were allowed. Every hour they rang a big bell and all drinks at the bar were 1/2 price for 5 minutes! Mike really loved it there, so we went back!

While we were wandering around D.C. on the 4th, I saw this beautiful building. A few days later I was watching the news and saw a story about how Trump was in the process of converting it into a new luxury hotel. Wouldn't mind staying there once it is finished!

While we were wandering around D.C. on the 4th, I saw this beautiful building. A few days later I was watching the news and saw a story about how Trump was in the process of converting it into a new luxury hotel. Wouldn’t mind staying there once it is finished!

The Washington Monument was still covered in scaffolding the last time we came to D.C. from Virginia. What a treat that the repairs were all complete by the time we returned!

The Washington Monument was still covered in scaffolding the last time we came to D.C. from Virginia. What a treat that the repairs were all complete by the time we returned!

The crowds on the mall thickened as dusk arrived.

The crowds on the mall thickened as dusk arrived.

We completely lucked out when we stumbled upon this restaurant called Oyamel while looking for some lunch on the 4th. Delicious authentic interior Mexican food. We sat at the Ceviche bar, and watched the other tourists and homeless people mill about the sidewalk outside while we had a little taste fest in the air conditioning.

We completely lucked out when we stumbled upon this restaurant called Oyamel while looking for some lunch on the 4th. Delicious authentic interior Mexican food. We sat at the Ceviche bar, and watched the other tourists and homeless people mill about the sidewalk outside while we had a little taste fest in the air conditioning.

Of course the fireworks didn't start until dusk at around 8:00 PM, but the mall was already starting to fill up as early as 3:00.

Of course the fireworks didn’t start until dusk at around 8:00 PM, but the mall was already starting to fill up as early as 3:00.

Now the Capitol dome is about to be covered in scaffolding, but we were lucky enough to see it all lit up in the dark before the work begins.

Now the Capitol dome is about to be covered in scaffolding, but we were lucky enough to see it all lit up in the dark before the work begins.

Here is our proof that we were in Washington D.C. on July 4th.

Here is our proof that we were in Washington D.C. on July 4th.

We spent so much time trying to get the perfect selfie, we almost missed all of the pyrotechnics!

We spent so much time trying to get the perfect selfie, we almost missed all of the pyrotechnics!

Finally, we turned around and looked at the sky with our eyes instead through the lenses of our phone cameras.

Finally, we turned around and looked at the sky with our eyes instead of through the lenses of our phone cameras.

Happy Birthday, America!

Happy Birthday, America!

Maryland Part I: Woodbine

Our first stop in Maryland was just outside the Baltimore Metro area in the farming community of Woodbine. We stayed at Ramblin’ Pines Campground for two weeks. The weather was wonderful, the campground was very nice, and our daytrips were lots of fun. We were within driving distance of not only downtown Baltimore, but also Washington D.C. and Annapolis. This stop gave us a great first impression of the Old Line State.

This was one of the roads from our camp to the nearest shopping center. The short drive was so pretty and peaceful, I found myself making up excuses to run errands!

This was one of the roads from our camp to the nearest shopping center. The short drive was so pretty and peaceful, I found myself making up excuses to run errands!

There was a Saturday Farmer's Market about 20 minutes north of us in Westminster. I went both weekends we were at Ramblin' Pines Campground. All the produce was so fresh and delicious, but the best discovery was the booth that sold fresh cakes and pies. On my first visit I bought 1/2 of a Hot Buttered Rum Pound Cake. The second weekend I bought another 1/2 of the Peach Schnapps flavor. If we had extra room in our freezer, I would have bought several others and frozen them.  They were absolutely delicious.

There was a Saturday Farmer’s Market about 20 minutes north of us in Westminster. I went both weekends we were at Ramblin’ Pines Campground. All the produce was so fresh and delicious, but the best discovery was the booth that sold fresh cakes and pies. On my first visit I bought 1/2 of a Hot Buttered Rum Pound Cake. The second weekend I bought another 1/2 of the Peach Schnapps flavor. If we had extra room in our freezer, I would have bought several others and frozen them. They were absolutely delicious.

The countryside around our campground featured charming vistas of gently rolling hills patterned with various crops in different stages of growth. There were dozens of times I would reach the top of a hill while driving to see the most charming landscapes. I couldn't pull the car to the side of the road every three minutes, but this might give you an idea of the scenery that surrounded us.

The countryside around our campground featured charming vistas of gently rolling hills patterned with various crops in different stages of growth. There were dozens of times I would reach the top of a hill while driving to see the most charming landscapes. I couldn’t pull the car to the side of the road every three minutes, but this might give you an idea of the scenery that surrounded us.

Our campground was family owned and extremely well maintained. One of the fun activities that was available was a mini Putt Putt course.

Our campground was family owned and extremely well maintained. One of the fun activities that was available was a mini Putt Putt course.

They also had live music on Saturday nights.

They also had live music on Saturday nights.

Our spot was directly across from the office, next to this quaint pond. It was a very nice view from our bedroom window... although I never discovered the relevance of the fake tiger hiding behind the plants.

Our spot was directly across from the office, next to this quaint pond. It was a very nice view from our bedroom window… although I never discovered the relevance of the fake tiger hiding behind the plants.

The pool at the campground was open from noon - 4 and 5 - 8. Kind of strange hours, but we took advantage when the weather was nice.

The pool at the campground was open from noon – 4 and 5 – 8. Kind of strange hours, but we took advantage when the weather was nice.

Meet Jack and Jill. They lived in a large pen at the campground. Jack was a HUGE flirt, and Jill was a little bit shy. They were very entertaining every time I walked over to visit with them. One of the caretakers said they get two each year. They come as babies around the holiday season, and leave in the late spring when their 'owners' come to pick them up. The new season brings two more. Although I have a hunch, I did not ask why the pair got picked back up after they were grown, or where they 'went'. Since they were always replaced with two new ones, I didn't really want to hear about the details of their lives after the departure. Maybe I was in denial because I really love to eat 'cabrito'.

Meet Jack and Jill. They lived in a large pen at the campground. Jack was a HUGE flirt, and Jill was a little bit shy. They were very entertaining every time I walked over to visit with them. One of the caretakers said they get two each year. They come as babies around the holiday season, and leave in the late spring when their ‘owners’ come to pick them up. The new season brings two more. Although I have a hunch, I did not ask why the pair got picked back up after they were grown, or where they ‘went’. Since they were always replaced with two new ones, I didn’t really want to hear about the details of their lives after the departure. Maybe I was in denial because I really love to eat ‘cabrito’.

Although this barn was at the front entrance of our Maryland campground, it is really a reference to Kentucky. In the Bluegrass State, almost every barn has a big quilt pattern displayed on the front at the top. I could never take a picture because we always passed them in the car and we were going too fast to get a photo that was not blurry. I thought that small detail on every farm was so charming. It was like the American version of a family crest.

Although this barn was at the front entrance of our Maryland campground, it is really a reference to Kentucky. In the Bluegrass State, almost every barn has a big quilt pattern displayed on the front at the top. I could never take a picture because we always passed them in the car and we were going too fast to get a photo that was not blurry. I thought that small detail on every farm was so charming. It was like the American version of a family crest.

Of course we enjoyed our first-night martinis after checking in and setting up at Ramblin' Pines Campground.

Of course we enjoyed our first-night martinis after checking in and setting up at Ramblin’ Pines Campground. Since the Longhorns were playing in the College World Series, this happy hour took place in front of the outside television.

 

We drove down to Georgetown one day from this spot. We took the dogs and walked around the commercial area as well as the University campus.

We drove down to Georgetown one day from this spot. We took the dogs and walked around the commercial area as well as the University campus.

I could have spent an entire day wandering in and out of every store front along the streets of Georgetown. Maybe Mike suggested we take the dogs on that daytrip to prevent just that!

I could have spent an entire day wandering in and out of every store front along the streets of Georgetown. Maybe Mike suggested we take the dogs on that daytrip to prevent just that!

This was our first meal in Baltimore. One of my former neighbors, Dina, is a native of the area and suggested Bo Brooks on the water for Maryland crabs. I was very grateful to her for this recommendation, along with dozens of others that she offered. We ordered cream of crab soup, crab cakes, and 4 jumbo steamed crabs. After we made a huge mess of the table and ourselves, we moved to the bar and watched some World Cup soccer.

This was our first meal in Baltimore. One of my former neighbors, Dina, is a native of the area and suggested Bo Brooks on the water for Maryland crabs. I was very grateful to her for this recommendation, along with dozens of others that she offered. We ordered cream of crab soup, crab cakes, and 4 jumbo steamed crabs. After we made a huge mess of the table and ourselves, we moved to the bar and watched some World Cup soccer.

One of the views from the patio outside Bo Brooks Restaurant.

One of the views from the patio outside Bo Brooks Restaurant.

We went back into Baltimore another day with the dogs in tow and walked around the Inner Harbor for HOURS! We walked from Fell's Point all the way around to Federal Hill, and back (that is basically PAST the buildings you see off in the distance across the water). It was a fun day of exploration.

We went back into Baltimore another day with the dogs in tow and walked around the Inner Harbor for HOURS! We walked from Fell’s Point all the way around to Federal Hill, and back (that is basically PAST the buildings you see off in the distance across the water). It was a fun day of exploration.

The Ravens and the Orioles play in arenas next door to each other in downtown Baltimore. It was baseball season while we were there, but we did not make it inside Camden Yards during our visit.

The Ravens and the Orioles play in arenas next door to each other in downtown Baltimore. It was baseball season while we were there, but we did not make it inside Camden Yards during our visit.

Mike insisted on watching EVERY game of the FIFA World Cup Series. I joined him when the U.S. team was playing. We went to the local Woodbine Inn Tavern to watch our team play (and lose to) Germany. Since I really don't care about watching soccer, I ordered 1/2 dozen steamed crab and picked them clean to avoid boredom during the game. I took home the leftovers and tossed my bounty with some angel hair pasta and Mediterranean veggies for the next night's dinner.

Mike insisted on watching EVERY game of the FIFA World Cup Series. I joined him when the U.S. team was playing. We went to the local Woodbine Inn Tavern to watch our team play (and lose to) Germany. Since I really don’t care about watching soccer, I ordered 1/2 dozen steamed crab and picked them clean to avoid boredom during the game. I took home the leftovers and tossed my bounty with some angel hair pasta and Mediterranean veggies for the next night’s dinner.

The view in front of me at the beginning of the soccer game.

The view in front of me at the beginning of the soccer game.

Tired dogs after one of our daytrips.

Tired dogs after one of our daytrips.

We drove down to Annapolis on another day during our stay at Ramblin' Pines.

We drove down to Annapolis on another day during our stay at Ramblin’ Pines.

The Maryland Statehouse.

The Maryland Statehouse.

The dogs went with us to Annapolis. Cessna found the brick streets and historic buildings to be very quaint.

The dogs went with us to Annapolis. Cessna found the brick streets and historic buildings to be very quaint.

We were building our campfire one evening when we looked up to see this random hot air balloon that had just lifted off the ground somewhere in the neighborhood. They were still ascending into the sky when we spotted them above us!

We were building our campfire one evening when we looked up to see this random hot air balloon that had just lifted off the ground somewhere in the neighborhood. They were still ascending into the sky when we spotted them above us!

Judging from the inventory in it's marina, I'd say the Annapolis Yacht Club has some high rollers among its membership.

Judging from the inventory in it’s marina, I’d say the Annapolis Yacht Club has some high rollers among its membership.

Another view of the Annapolis Harbor.

Another view of the Annapolis Harbor.

The sunset on our last night at Ramblin' Pines was a perfect ending to a nice stop during our adventure.

The sunset on our last night at Ramblin’ Pines was a perfect ending to a nice stop during our adventure.