To close out our sports Halls of Fame quadrumvirate, we showed Springfield, Mass a thing or two.
Our very own Sundance won the Rick Perry free-throw shooting contest! Which doesn’t sound like a thing at all because who would name a basketball game after the former governor of Texas, but then they explained to me that it wasn’t the Secretary of Energy at all, it was Rick Barry, who was awesome at free throws in the 60’s and 70’s, but I didn’t know that until after we completed our tour of the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame which makes so much more sense. So congratulations to Sundance and to Rick Barry. Maybe you guys can help the Energy Department anyway.
After a nice lunch next door, we headed north to beautiful Vermont. Since we completed the Halls of Fame portion of our mission statement, we instead meandered to Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream factory. Vermont is beautiful, and we broke out the sweatshirts for the first time on this trip and it was heaven. We enjoyed our first campfire meal in more than a week, which even the kids thought was a welcome respite from french fries. The night sky put on a show, and I think we saw stars we didn’t know existed before.
We were only minutes from Hanover, NH, so we strolled the streets on our last evening there. We thought we saw someone semi-famous and sort of stalked him from across a crowded restaurant, but it turned out to be a case of mistaken identity to everyone’s disappointment.
You know how when you lose the tie to your hoodie in the washing machine and you spend the next few years of your life attempting to thread the end of the oversized cord through a too-small opening and then push that string through a cotton tunnel a millimeter at a time, losing ground faster than you make it until that knot finally emerges a little more humble than it began and you want to cry at the momentous accomplishment?
That’s what driving the RV to Cooperstown, New York feels like.
But unlike the sweatshirt analogy, the drive is totally worth it, and I was especially grateful Butch was in the driver’s seat. Cooperstown is the type of place that everyone should visit at some point even if baseball isn’t your jam. The Baseball Hall of Fame is a place that will elicit memories whether you’ve seen 1000 games or a half of an inning. You probably know more than you think, but will learn a lot more despite what you think. And in summer, a leisurely walk through the museum or just down Main Street is a perfect way to spend an afternoon. Our crew of 13 reunited once again after a beautiful wedding we attended, and Louise and Sundance got an extended stay at Niagara Falls.
In this leg of our journey, the temperature has dropped substantially and we are exclaiming our good fortune by the minute. Western New York is a balmy 75 degrees during the day and in the 50’s at night.
Ok, enough about Louise’s wardrobe and her penchant for mud flaps.
Let’s talk about the other heroes of this trip–our poor families.
While we certainly would like to take credit for planning an itinerary that appeals to all, there also has to be a lot of open-mindedness and cooperation and we have received a lot of that over these adventures.
I think Butch and Sundance have the words “Respect the Process,” tattooed on their forearms, and have not questioned much of our crazy until this point. They have good-naturedly jumped through the hoops to pull everything off, even though that isn’t easy 24/7.
Our two smallest passengers–Squish and Big G–have foregone naps, settled for truffle cheese and bug spray for meals somedays, and never know which strange bed they’ll get put down in at night or if that bed will be in the same place in the morning. They are troopers.
Our teenagers are super thrilled to be on this vacation, but they also have been helpful and cooperative and hopefully they’ve had a little fun so far.
And the middles are sweet and patient and are showing incredible grace when things may not go exactly as planned, or especially when they do. They’re doing a lot of the summer reading entailing sports plaques and MLB lineups.
The last few days have held a long rural stop and driving, a car rental and border crossing, to a downtown Toronto hotel all in the span of 28 minutes and a heatwave in Celsius.
But in that short time, we ate at some fun restaurants, visited the Hockey Hall of Fame, swam, shopped, and saw another baseball game from beneath the CN Tower. It was a whole lot of fun. And before leaving Canada, we stopped at Niagara Falls which was amazing. And there still is much fun to be had and beauty to behold.
So thank you little (and big) troops for being you. The whole purpose of this entire journey is to spend as much time with you as we can before your next chapter begins.
We continued our own group heatwave with a trip to the ballpark on Day 3. Translate that to mean we certainly make a splash wherever we go and most of the time we’re a hot mess. But the unsuspecting folks with the Cincinnati Reds were amazing hosts, treating us to a ridiculous experience of delicious food and drink, spoiling us with this summer treat. They even managed to throw in a Grand Slam and a win for the home team.
Our full crew of 15 happy campers sadly dwindled down to 12 for a little while as those job things got in the way of our fun once again. So we spread out a little in our cramp quarters and then fed quarters to the campground laundry room a few weeks earlier than expected to prepare for the next leg of our journey: Canton, Ohio!
If you’re reading this, that means I wrote it, and my fingers didn’t melt into the keyboard as I feared mere hours ago when we began our first full day at our campsite on the surface of the sun.
It’s hot here in Ohio. In a metal can with wheels. With an A/C unit capable of cooling a whopping 3 1/2 square inches. Louise and I did our best to keep the children entertained and cool with our mad Uno skills and me reading the average temperatures in Maine on Weatherchannel.com, but I think the real relief arrived when the rest of the crew showed up and they could commiserate with all of their siblings.
So I’m going to gloss over the heat–mainly because the sheen from our sweat makes us all appear rather glossy–ignore the one vomiting incident and the fact that we’ve used all of our super-jumbo data plan before we crossed our first state line and focus on the wins on Camping Day 1.
~I didn’t hit anything or anyone backing Viktor into the site and hooked up all of the hoses and whatnots like a boss. Even the gross ones.
~Louise can dress a mean first degree burn caused by scalding vinyl jump pads.
~When the sun eventually goes down and they’re rehydrated with a little birthday cake and piñata treats, this is the scene that will remain in your head for a long time.
Alright, enough messing around. We really have to get semi-serious for 6 minutes to pull this off.
It’s logistics day, and I’ll take just a minute to provide some real details on the trip planning before we get back to our regularly scheduled nonsense just in case anyone was looking for some real travel advice (which seems like a huge error in judgement on your part) or are simply morbidly curious.
We’ve been planning this trip since we disembarked from our western adventure two years ago. It turns out the kids ended up having a marvelous time–more so than even first admitted by rolling-eyed teenagers. So over the course of months, we polled and discussed our next dream destinations, and Louise and I came up with itinerary last fall to incorporate a good many of those lofty goals.
We knew we wanted to go in a different direction this time–literally–and decided the East Coast would check off a lot of boxes. Acadia National Park seemed like a popular place amongst our families, so we planned a route that would take us through some other suggested destinations, and the idea of all of the Halls of Fame was born. We also have a joyous wedding to attend in the middle, so that was also taken into account. Oh yes, and all of the business that gets taken care of in early July in the sports world. And school. And graduations. And camps. And college orientations. And new jobs. And old jobs. And paychecks. If those pesky details weren’t a factor, the trip would’ve started in April and we’d be looping around Land’s End for the third time stocking up on summer clearance duck boots and blueberry scones right about now. But alas, reality is a killjoy.
Instead, we’ve compacted it into about 3 weeks, with the Dads, a.k.a Butch and Sundance, traveling for over two of them.
We’ve learned many lessons from our past adventures. We will still keep the same lodging arrangements–the biggest RV site in the campground as well as the the largest and most modern cabin–but this time we will also have a car following to carry stuff and passengers for all of our non-camp excursions, which are many. We have a fairly good amount of hotel stays mixed in there as well, especially at the larger cities where driving Viktor through may result in increased insurance claims and marital separations.
The kids’ ages range from 1-22 and it was a surprisingly easier sell this time than last. I’m still not sure if that’s a compliment on our fun-planning skills or if they just have devised a more sophisticated patricide plan, but we’re risk-takers. Apparently.
They are aware of about 75% of the itinerary I’d say, but through the Herculean planning efforts of their parents, there’s a good deal of surprises that still await. Some items–like getting passports updated and measurements for their trip uniforms obviously revealed some of the treats that were in store, but we’ve managed to keep a few things secret. After we planned our route, we made reservations at each location, secured advance tickets to where we could, even went to the bank and ordered foreign money (but then quickly gave all of said cash back to Costco, Target and Publix so don’t even think about robbing us). There’s very few details that haven’t been anticipated with the exception of where all of this stuff is going to physically go and if a pallet of marshmallows is going to be enough.
After the final load-in today and filling Viktor the RV up with gas, we should be ready to roll to the first destination: Cincinnati. Don’t question. It’ll all make sense as we go.
As will these robes.
You can follow along here, on Facebook or on Twitter, @Subdiva. We’d love to have you join us.
Me: Even if we do laundry twice during the trip, that makes about 90 T-shirts and 180 socks just for reference.
Butch: Over/under that we return with 11 of the original sock total?
Me: Under is how that works.
2. Outdoor Movie System with 70′ Screen and Projector
Sundance: Um, do we really have the space for that and the 90 T-shirts? Me: Yes! Because it hooks up to our Netflix account–which I’ll access from our new Wifi hotspot I’m also bringing aboard–we won’t need to pack physical movies, so it’s actually a space-saving item.
Sundance: Um, I’m not sure that’s how that works…
3. Portable Air-Conditioning Unit
Louise: This might not work on the RV since the exhaust is supposed to be mounted in a window.
Me: I’ve anticipated that, so I’ve purchased a second unit to cool the hot air coming out of the back of the first unit because I’m good at Science.
Louise: I’m not really sure that’s how that works…
4. Portable Ice Maker
Butch: Doesn’t the freezer on the RV do that already?
Me: Technically, yes. But I had to remove the trays to make room for the refrigerant for the new air conditioners.
Butch: Is that the way that’s supposed to work?
5. Portable Propane Grill
Sundance: Don’t all the campgrounds we’re going to provide grills at each site?
Me: Yes, but then we’d have to pack charcoal and lighter fluid and 2 is more than 1 so we’re saving room because I’m even better at math.
Sundance: Now I know that’s not how that works…
6. Extra large capacity Blender
Louise: Should we limit our cocktail choices to selections that don’t need appliances that take up counter space?
Me: Louise, we’re campers not barbarians.
Louise: You’re right–that’s exactly how that works.