Sunday, June 20, 2021

in the POD - an extended road trip .....


Wright Brothers National Memorial
Kitty Hawk, NC


With the world, once again, begging us to engage we decided to take our newly completed POD, our vaccination certificates, and the need for adventure out for a spin.  A 3 week spin. The first goal is to continue to test the systems of the van in new situations, off grid, and in heat. The second - and probably the most important - is to reconnect with distant friends that we have not seen in years! 

Our first real stop was in Raleigh, NC to spend an afternoon and evening with some dear friends that we have not seen in 7 years since they relocated from Florida to NC! Allyson and Mike have created a wonderful home for themselves and their two young girls, Emma and Morgan (and their dogs, Bailey and Zipper!) - each of them welcoming us into their home and life. We all caught up and settled in for relaxed conversation and an amazing dinner that Mike had prepared! I must admit the fig, arugula, prosciutto, goat cheese and SMOKED walnut pizza was my absolute fav!!! As well as the smoked Bourbon Old-Fashioned!!! Mike is VERY into smoking.
The thing about relationships with good friends ..... they never dissipate! 

Alas.....There are no pics from this perfect get-together .... we were too busy enjoying the company! 


We left Raleigh the following morning and headed east to the Outer Banks. The Outer Banks are a 200 mile string of barrier islands along the South Virginia and North Carolina coast.  Traversing over 10 miles of bridges we entered the series of islands just south of Nag's Head and headed south along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. 
Along our right we could see the low grasses that led out to the intercoastal and on our left were, first, stilt homes piled together and then ..... dunes. 
It was 60 miles of this - and a few bridges - to get to the south end of Hatteras, Frisco, NC. We camped at Frisco Campground, a NPS maintained campground. Scattered among the dunes the camp was bare, isolated, and perfect. 

the boardwalk from the campground to the beach


We love barrier island beaches - and this 60+ miles of beach was over whelming to say the least. However, I was very surprised as we climbed over the dunes to reach the ocean (yes... you can actually walk on all these dunes except for those areas specifically marked by the rangers) because I did not expect to see a beach filled with  SUVs! All of the beach is 4 wheel drive accessible - which I guess makes sense because it is so big and wide. 
The picture below does not clearly capture the number of vehicles - all lined up next to each other - with added tents, awnings, inflatable pools, fishing equipment.......
I believe it was the most crowded beach I have ever been on!

Frisco Beach, Cape Hatteras NC

It truly is a beautiful beach. The water was crystal clear and quite warm. We walked the beach in awe of the amount of people and, unfortunately, also in awe of the amount of HUGE "Trump 2024" flags planted in the sand ...... ugh. We headed back to camp after a few miles deciding that an early morning beach walk might just be a bit more relaxing. The evening was star-filled, quiet and very warm.



The next day we visited the Wright Brothers National Memorial at Kitty Hawk. Of course, we all learned about what these men had accomplished - but it was really quite inspiring to see the spot - the approximate 100' high sand dune (now planted with grass so that it does not shift/disappear) that they had carried the glider up for each test, the wooden shacks they lived and worked in, the markers where they did each of the four test flights from ...... each flight teaching them something new and each flight going just a bit further! 

The exhibit in the visitor center was also very well done explaining their process and the principles of flight that they slowly learned and there is also a replica of the plane they built for these first historic sights. 

Replica Wright Brothers airplane 1903


We saw the original plane at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. However, that one is suspended very high above and actually difficult to see up close. It was wonderful to be able to walk fully around the replica no more than 10' away and truly understand the scale of it.

monument on the dune at Kill Devil Hills
Wright Bros National Memorial


Wanting to experience another NPS camping site on the Outer Banks, we moved into Oregon Inlet Campground which was much closer to the center of the island near Nag's Head. 
Also nestled within the dunes, this campground did provide some electric hook-ups (which we did not choose) but the slots were spaced very close together and it definitely was not as relaxing as the last. 
We were only there for one night ...... so it was fine.

The walk to the beach from the campground was actually lovely and our early morning dip in the ocean was divine.

morning over the dunes
Oregon Inlet Campground


The next morning we headed to Fort Raleigh National Historic Site. It is the home of the first Roanoke settlements of the 1500's - well known as the Lost Colony - as well as the first Freedmen's settlement in 1862 during the Civil War. 
The visitor center was filled with artifacts and displays of historical information.
I cannot say enough about the NPS and the multitude of sites that they oversee, support, preserve and teach from. At every site we have visited we have always encountered rangers that have been knowledgeable and welcoming. 

We attended a ranger talk on the first Freedmen's settlement which was very enlightening, informative and just so happened to be delivered to us by a young, female Black ranger on June Thirteenth! 
Seemed like the exact thing we should be doing at that moment in time.

Roanoke Island looking into the sound

Besides the visitor center Fort Raleigh has a few walking trails, a theatre that has produced "The Lost Colony" play since 1937 (!), and archeological evidence of structural berns used for protection. Its well worth visit - history!


And of course .... we found a brewery!

Outer Banks Brewing Station
Kill Devil, NC


Friday, June 18, 2021

in the POD - goin' back to Massachusetts.....


Wells State Park


There are 31 state parks in MA that allow camping. We have been huge fans of Horseneck Beach State Park in Westport, MA and have repeatedly gone there over the years. However, this past month we tried out 2 new parks and have been enamored with each one!  Both beautiful - and each totally different from the last. It has kind of made me re-imagine some travel plans ..... we do not, necessarily, need to always plan extended trips. We could do lots of mini road trips to more local places - exploring those spots much closer to home. 

We had a family wedding to attend in Salisbury, MA - at the same farm that Ty and Amy got married at 6 years ago! So we booked a few nites at Salisbury Beach State Park. Located at the southern end of Salisbury Beach where the Merrimack River empties into the Atlantic, the campground is HUGE with over 400 sites and is, by far, the largest campground we have ever stayed in. That said, although a bit "sardined" in, the camp was well maintained and the access to the beach - both on the ocean and river sides - were easy to access and provided for wonderful walking and views.

along the Merrimack River


We wandered around downtown Salisbury - an old beach town and summer tourist destination. Your typical pizza stand, arcades, cotton candy kind of place. We watched as various "getting ready for the season" projects were being undertaken - a fresh coat of paint here and there, repairs on the downtown merry-go-round. 

We ended up having lunch at a gorgeous spot overlooking the ocean - Seaglass Oceanside . Tuna poke and steamed mussels. Perfect.

sky, surf and sand on the Atlantic


Later that day and the next we walked the oceanside and river beaches. 
And for the wedding we actually had to look presentable - for the first time in 15 months!!! 

wedding day!


The following week we headed to Wells State Park in Sturbridge, MA for a 4 day stay. With over 1,400 acres this park has 60 sites - some of which overlook Walker Pond, and 10 miles of hiking trails. Our site was perched on a small hill overlooking the pond. Every camping spot was situated for privacy and you truly felt alone .......


settling in


down by the pond


hiking one of the trails


This was a pristine campground and each spot was perfect in its own way. Could easily return here gain and again ....... except we DO have 28 more state parks to check out!

Saturday, May 29, 2021

in the POD - two visits to Horseneck Beach State Park

A perfect day at the beach
Horseneck Beach State Park, MA


 As we head into a long and extremely rainy Memorial Day weekend I'm enjoying reliving our past two POD excursions to Horseneck Beach State Park. Horseneck Beach is one of our favorite places to escape to - this park is easy to get to, not too big, very basic and picture perfect!

Our first visit was just over a week ago - May 18th - 21st. It was our first extended stay in the POD and since this state park has no hook ups (electric/water) we were making sure that all our off-grid systems were working well. 

A choice spot!


We settled into our favorite camping spot - on the end of the front row with a full ocean view! The sound of the waves and the sweeping clouds made the best company and we fully enjoyed the stillness that being in nature envelopes us with. Truthfully, I had not been this relaxed and peaceful in over a year! In the middle of our second day there both Tim and I felt that we had been there a week!! 

We walked and we biked every day because the weather was simply glorious. And we tried to figure out a "traveling" exercise routine...... Normally, we each start our days with @ 40 min of yoga/stretching or floor exercises. Because of space constraints that is difficult to do in the POD so we tried to work on some modifications because it will become more crucial as we begin to travel more and for longer periods of time. 

At the western edge of the campground there is a 2 mile bike/walking path between the dunes from the campground to the large public beach. The dunes are filled with both pink and white rosa rugosa and are the perfect habitat for the nesting plovers this time of year. We have often seen mothers herding their chicks up over the dunes away from the path!  From the east there is a small path out to a road which takes one over a small causeway to Goosberry Island (Gumby's Head on some maps). We love to walk out there - the east side of the island is mostly sandy and usually quite calm while the western side is very rocky with a much more active surf. Approximately 2 miles from the island - along a coastal road - is a small restaurant we often bike to for an afternoon meal, The Bayside. They have generous outdoor seating and views of Allen's Pond Wildlife Sanctuary across the road. The food is excellent.

Western edge of Gooseberry Island


Tim spent much of his time working on a POD manual. Since it is his "creation" he realized he needed to begin documenting all the how-tos and where-ares! This seems like a perfect follow-up project for him ..... and it should take some time. When I wasn't simply staring at the sky and letting my mind wander and relax I did spend time reading and doing a bit of drawing. 
We did not want to see these four days come to a close......

absolute perfection!


Literally before we left the campground I went online to see if there was any single date available the following week. We so wanted to take Rosie there for an overnight! Which is how we ended up back there on Thursday, the 27th with Rosie all excited about a new adventure.

A fish in the making.....


Thursday morning arrived and we knew that an impeccable beach day was in the making. Check in time at the campground isn't until 1 pm so we headed first to the public beach so Rosie could get some sand and surf time in before we went to the campground. The beach was pretty crowded for a mid week day but the sun was shining and the waves were crashing and.... well.... she LOVED it! Mostly fearless she tried jumping over the waves, tried pushing them back, yelling at them, and was fascinated by the strength of the waves as they pulled her legs back into the ocean. 

As soon as we got to the campground she wanted to head to the water again! Unstoppable. Bucket in hand we collected lots of shells, rocks, 1 dead crab, and, of course, we were back in the water numerous times. By the end of a very full day in the sun day we were all in need of some quiet time. Rosie calmed herself with an art project and Tim and I calmed ourselves with a beverage........

how big is your world?


traveling art show


We cooked dinner outside (on our butane burner sitting on top of the pit grill!) so that Rosie could have a full camping experience. She was so eager and helpful and the full day obviously gave her quite the appetite because she ate a hot dog AND a piece of chicken!

perfectly helpful; in every way


The day ended with watching the sun set - brilliantly orange as it dipped below the horizon. Rosie had never seen a totally unobstructed sunset before and she was in awe! It was difficult for me to decide what to look at - the beauty of this rich sunset or the stunning curiosity and wonder on Rosie's face.......
guess what I chose?

That evening we sat in the cab windows as twilight came and talked of life and camping and the ocean and where the sun goes on the other side of the world. I read "Digging to China" by Donna Rawlins to Rosie as we settled into bed. This was a book that Tyler loved as a child and the first time I've read it to Rosie. It was perfect.

The following morning, after breakfast, we had a beach walk at the campground, checked out by our 11 am check out time and then proceeded to drive over to Gooseberry Island to wander the the beaches there.

leading the way


We walked for close to 2 miles - which, in retrospect, was a bit too much for Rosie. But she was a champion and held up until very close to the end. She was excited to get home and see her Mom and Dad - one night and close to 2 days away is just perfect right now for her. And for us - we each get special time with her and .... its probably just the perfect amount of time right now for us.

Gooseberry Island


meeting of the minds......


Tuesday, May 4, 2021

in the POD - Our Kids Farm

Nigerian Dwarf goats


We recently joined Harvest Hosts - a membership program for self contained RVers who want to stay at vineyards, farms, and other unique locations! There are a lot of fairly local options that we are eager to try out and decided that a one night stay not to far away would be a perfect first experience for Rosie to join us!

We chose "Our Kids Farm" in Canterbury, Conn. Just over an hour away, this small dairy goat farm raises Nigerian Dwarf goats and makes soaps and cheeses. Their farm store sells these products along with other locally made items. The farm has many other animals too - including horses, donkeys, cows and chickens. 

All alone at the farm.


We were the farm's only guests for the night although the farm store did have a number of customers throughout the afternoon. There was a lot of acreage to wander - fields and woodlands - and Rosie felt very comfortable exploring the area .... always 20' or more ahead of us. Racing ahead and then back to us. 

a whirlwind


Pre-dinner craft time!


I packed an art case especially for Rosie filled with supplies, along with a few craft kits. And just like clockwork, as Tim began to cook dinner, Rosie said; "Oh, I wish we had a craft to do...." 
And just like that I was able to supply the magic!

We dined simply on soup and grilled cheese sandwiches with ice cream for dessert. 

6:30 am. Looking out the window and drawing what she sees


Morning came quite early and Rosie busied herself with drawing a picture of the farm 
while we - slowly - woke up!

After breakfast and a mid morning walk we proceeded to Old Furnace State Park for a short hike and lunch before heading home. All in all, Rosie was a pretty excellent camper and is already looking forward to her next time in the van!
So are we!!!!


Tim and Rosie celebrating that the van is completed!!

Thursday, April 29, 2021

in the POD - welcome aboard!

Dining table set up in the cab area. 
Seats swivel to accommodate.


We are actually DONE ..... and boy does it seem strange to not have lists upon lists of things to do every single day! It has been an arduous, but enjoyable, 10 month process. Countless hours, a whole lot of learning, lots of experimenting and lots of doing over, and over, again. And we did it without killing each other in the process and are still looking forward to spending extended amounts of time in @ 190 sq ft together!


POD 3.0 comes in at 25' (plus an additional 1' for the bike rack/bikes) and 9,000 lbs fully loaded. 

Here she is...........

Looking from the cab to the back of the van. 
Seven storage units above, 9 drawers in kitchen, 4 deep under-bed drawers in the bedroom and one closet. 


Kitchen has expandable counter, convection oven, both regular and filtered water taps, 
and a induction cooktop as well as a propane burner stored in the bottom drawers.


Behind those doors is the bathroom - toilet and recirculating shower. 
Refrigerator and additional counter round out the kitchen area.


Beds can convert to a full bed or we can add a 1/2 bed in the middle for Rosie.
Dining table can also be set up back here.


Cozy sitting, reading, and sleeping spot with custom made bed sacks and wall storage with charging station. Also personal reading lamps and fans.




We have a few short term (3-4 day) outings booked over the next month. Horseneck Beach, Nickerson State Park, Salisbury Beach and Wells State Park will allow us some off-grid time to work out any issues before we head into longer treks. 

Of course, there are still a few things to finish up. But, right now, they are just details. We're sure that once we spend more time in it we will want to modify and change a few things - we'll have to see how she behaves in day to day living. 

Looking back to the front which has over cab storage. 
For travel the portable table top is stored on top of the 2 person jump seat.
It can also be used in this position at bar height.


Nothing but the road ahead!
Happy trails! 


Tuesday, October 6, 2020

in the POD - how much imagination do you have?


and first came the bathroom.....


Our order of 8020 aluminum finally arrived and Tim has been building the supports and shelves for the garage as well as the foundation for the few walls we will actually have. Of course, as the space/walls are laid out the infrastructure of the holding tanks, the wiring, the plumbing etc all have to be put into place as well. Currently, we have a huge puzzle that we are refining as we go along.

Tim in the background working on the garage

Yes, there will be walls around the toilet/shower room. Obviously, it will be a "wet" room so the walls will be PVC board and the whole space will be waterproof and sealed. 


The garage is coming together! Pretty much everything is in and accounted for - adding one more retractable hose to the lower right and we will need to cut 2 access doors for them in the side wall. 
(Yippee - cutting more  holes in the van!) We even ended up with some additional storage space.

Our next priority will be to get the heating system up and running so work can continue no matter what the weather has in store. Tim had set a goal for himself to be able to take a shower at the end of October....... so that means getting the bathroom totally enclosed and completed. 
Fingers crossed.

a working garage!


And we did take a very small breather from all the work..... we promised Rosie a little road trip. 
She has been (not so) patiently waiting for a ride in the van so we finally took her on an overnight to 
Cape Cod. And no, we did not "camp" in the unfinished van.

Ready for her adventure!


Monday, September 14, 2020

learning time when time has no meaning

moving through life


This summer Rosie has begun to understand and track time. It's an important milestone for a child - following the path of the seasons one after the other, days of the week, looking forward to a special event that will occur tomorrow or remembering something that happened yesterday, or just the simplicity of waiting 5 minutes. 

I first noticed it mid summer when she had a sleep over with us. I was awakened, very early, a small voice at the side of my bed. I opened my eyes to see that face smiling broadly, her hand touching my hand,  "Nene, I slept all night and it's tomorrow."

After that it seemed like every day there was another mention of time. "no Nene, that wasn't yesterday that was another day" and "it will be winter soon - and it'll be Christmas!" 

Now that she's back in school (a small learning pod) and on a consistent schedule, Rosie seems even more aware of the weeks' pattern  - 5 "school" days and 2 "home" days. She has taken to remind me that "swing time" is at the end of each day after she gets home from school. Specifically, her request for me to push her on the swing that hangs between two trees in the yard. And, she loves making deals for 1 hour or, if I hesitate, 30 minutes of my time to play American Girl dolls with her. 

Time is real and bargain-able!


It has struck me that this awareness is growing for her while the rest of us seem lost in the fog of trying to remember what day it is, how many months have passed.... The spring, summer and, sadly, even the fall of 2020 have been usurped by a virus that has more control over us than we'd like to admit.  Its been 6 months since all this began, six months and our calendars have lost their relevance, six months since our internal clocks broke. 

“The running joke is, you know, we used to have Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and now we just have Day, Day, Day, Day, Day,” said Dean Buonomano, a professor of behavioral neuroscience at the University of California at Los Angeles, in May. “We’ve sort of lost our mental landmarks or temporal boundaries for days.”


Personally, I too am lost. I'm an artist who's also a realist (crazy) who needs order (still crazier) in their life. I've filled the last 6 months with do-able projects - anything that has a beginning, a middle and (Yes!) an end! 
Gardening; digging up and planting new beds, moving, dividing, creating. 
Cleaning out, organizing and shedding possessions.
Home projects; painting, and even building a new front walkway.
And sadly..... lots of crossword puzzles. Hell, I'm all the way back to 2007 in the NY Times archives!
I need to snap out of this so I can return to the world of the casual, no rush reading of a delicious new novel and the wide open discovery of creating new art. 
No ends are ever needed there - they just miraculously occur. 

I need to connect with that breath that expands forever, that, once again, inspires awe in me. Time is a construct so maybe I just need to give in. As my friend Janet always tells me; "give yourself permission."


Yesterday, while Rosie was pushing me on the swing she commented on how well I was pumping my legs.
"Nene, I'm teaching you how to play!"
I need to live up to that for her.