We’re Off

The RV is packed. The house is sold. The car is hitched, ready to be towed. Cincinnati lies behind us as we go.


House is sold

Car is hitched up

We’re headed north to Alum Creek to spend some time, about week, to say goodbye to family, for now.

Then we’re headed east to the state of Maine, driving slowly in the right lane, to Acadia National Park.

From there we travel down the coast, stopping where we like it the most, before heading west to Colorado.

California is next on the list, for the winter months. The cold won’t be missed. Ohio is best for the spring and the fall.

We’re Off… Sort Of

At 4:00 we close on the house and take off to load the remaining items we own into the RV and head out for Alum Creek north of Columbus to get used to the RV lifestyle and spend some time with my son, his wife, my 5 month old grandson, and my other son before heading up to Acadia National Park in Maine.

Then the misadventures begin, one right after another! Somehow, we get locked into the RV. Yes, you heard correctly. As Jeff and I remain calm, we both try unsuccessfully to open the door from the inside so that we can exit. We laugh and try again and again. Eventually we stop laughing and Jeff jimmies himself out of the passenger’s side window. He tries to open the door from the outside. He tries to open the door with the key. Nothing works! I am trapped inside with two dogs and Jeff is trapped outside! The RV dealership’s service department, of course, is closed for the day by now. What are we to do? We frantically search for our Roadside Assistance Emergency phone number and talk to a dispatcher who attempts to find us a locksmith ASAP which translates into within the next hour. We have no home except for the RV and we are stuck on the storage lot in Miamitown. While we wait and hope for help, Jeff successfully hitches the tow and car. This was his main concern, not getting locked out from both inside and outside the RV!

We are off Casey

Meanwhile my son from Columbus texts me asking if we are on the road yet. I text him our situation and he calls me. We laugh and make jokes about the useful situations for having a supply of Depends Diapers on hand.

Roadside Assistance updates us that there is a problem locating a locksmith but an RV tech has been contacted who will try and walk us through troubleshooting our problem with the door. We wait. My BFF has already offered us a place to stay overnight. Then a miracle happens! Jeff attempts to open the door from the outside with the key once again, and it works!!!!!!! Jeff and I practice opening and closing the door several times with success and we pull away towards Alum Creek as I try to contact Roadside Assistance. Eventually the RV tech calls and we discuss some mumbo jumbo about oiled latches which Jeff and I translate as crappy door locks.

We end up driving in the dark which Jeff NEVER EVER wanted to do and then it starts raining, of course! I text high fives to my son and his wife and receive a call from my third son in California and relate to him our hilarious and harrowing experience. All is well. Hold that thought!

Shortly after we leave Cincinnati I learn that my husband does not have directions to Alum Creek campground, does not quite remember our campsite number, and cannot pull up the confirmation number on his phone’s email. I google map directions to Alum Creek State Park and we arrive in the middle of nowhere at 11:00 PM. I re-google and we find the campground but it is too dark to see the campsite numbers clearly AND the numbers we can see don’t seem to be in a logical order. So, we pull into an empty site, unhitch the car and tow dolly and move the RV once again around to the dump station to fill up the fresh water tank in the dark, may I add. As Jeff starts filling the tank we hear water gushing out from somewhere. Jeff discovers that the tank needs to be plugged but he has to lay underneath the flowing water to do this. Jeff gets soaked as he fills the water tank. Then, when he starts the water pump NOTHING HAPPENS! We have no water! It is 12:30 AM and we are exhausted, frazzled, and barely talking to each other! We return to our empty site and Jeff pees in the brush and I pee in a cup. The nearby bath-house takes care of our other needs.

First Night… Next Morning

In the morning we troubleshoot our water pump problems and decide to fill the fresh water tank fuller. Maybe we didn’t have enough of a water level for the pump to operate properly. Since our campsite is electricity-only we have to take the RV to the dump station to fill up with potable water. We secure the inside contents. Actually most of them are in containers sitting on the sofa, bed, and table benches. We haven’t even moved in yet.



The slides pull in. The stabilizer jacks rise and we pull away to fill the fresh water tank. As we arrive at the waste station, another vehicle pulling away suddenly stops. The driver runs over to my window and informs us that we are dragging our electrical plug-in cord! Sure enough, we can see it sticking out like a tail from the rear camera! Jeff and I thank him sheepishly and once he leaves we have a good chuckle as we imagine ourselves in the movie, National Lampoon Vacation!! But wait, there’s more. As Jeff collects the cord and wraps it up into its storage compartment, he takes out his frustration on locking the storage unit. Did you guess the result yet? You’re right, the key breaks off in the lock! Luckily we have a spare set but with our luck we decide to lock up only when necessary and to be very careful when using the key.

Needless to say, the filled water tank does not take care of the water pump problem so once again we are on the phone with Roadside Assistance. They know us by name now! Secretly they probably call us the Griswolds! We stand by waiting for a call from an RV technician who will try to walk us through the fix. Meanwhile we call Reserve America to find out which site we have reserved. Luckily it is just around the bend. Not so lucky is that we have to move two more times during our eight night stay.

Back to the water pump… Tech support calls and Jeff runs in and out and out and in again doing this and that. It still doesn’t work. Finally the technician diagnoses the problem as an improperly installed water pump and advises us to call our RV dealer. Instead of the Service Department we call the sales person who sold us our RV back in Cincinnati. Luckily there is a Colerain RV dealership near Alum Creek and we get taken care of ASAP.

Colerain RV alum creek rvdealercolumbusohio.com

Thank you, Dave, for your clout and concern! It turns out the problem with the water pump was a missing drain plug to the fresh water tank. Apparently Jeff had inadvertently closed off something to stop the fresh water from pouring out and this disabled the pump. But for now the problem is solved and we have running water and a flushable commode. We opt to take showers at the bath house, however, to minimize our need to keep filling up the fresh water tank and emptying the black and grey tanks.

This is how I coped:



We spend the rest of the day finally settling in to our RV and finding a place for everything so that we can keep everything in its place.

Ollie Land

No problems today. I even get an hour and twenty minute walk! Jeff goes to the grocery store and I make plans to pick up Brian from work so that we can pop back to his house and pick up my grandson from day care. It starts pouring down rain at Alum Creek and the storm follows me to Columbus. Instead of picking him up from work, I wait for Brian and Jen at their house and he and I drive to the day care to pick up Oliver. Oh, has he grown! He came home with a plastic bag of soiled clothes. Yep, he had a poopie blowout at day care!

poopie blowout

I notice how excited he is to see his Dad. He smiles at everyone but there is a certain twinkle in his eye when he looks at Brian. Jen’s parents bring pizza for dinner so I get to enjoy some time with them too.

Jeff’s Birthday

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JEFF! He and I are now the same age for 23 days. He has caught up with me once again. Tomorrow is the day we have to move into a first-come site for one night. Something tells us to double check the availability of a site. We walk to the camp office and discover all of the “walk-in” sites are already taken for Friday!!!!??? A young man and his fiancée offer to let us park on their site for an evening since they are tent camping. Abby, the campground host, finds us a site across from our final destination. Remember, we have to move two times in our eight night stay. She is as perplexed as we are and blames the “walk-in” confusion on a non-experienced reservationist with whom she shares her position. We spend the evening with Brian, Jen and Ollie sharing an expensive bottle of champagne Jeff’s former boss bought him as a goodbye gift. I give Oliver a bath, Jen nurses him and then he coos himself to sleep. Precious!

The RV Gets a Bath

We have a 9:00 AM appointment to get our RV washed at the Alum Creek (Delaware, OH) Colerain RV dealership. Call me crazy but I wanted to get all the cobwebs and crud off from its days in storage. It has not been washed since we purchased it on June 9th and I want to give a little business to the place that trouble-shooted our water pump problem so quickly. For $99 we get the $199 package because of a mistake on their part. Is our luck turning?

Meanwhile, during the two hours we wait for the RV, we take our dogs to the dog park, explore the marina and beach, and stop at the Alum Creek Welcome Center.

alum creek dog park picsant.com

fran_donn_031_alumdam08072011_l usgs.gov

On our way back to our campsite we empty the black and grey tanks, refill the fresh water tank, and move into our new site for the night. I start my LIVE THE LIFE YOU’VE IMAGINED (Thoreau) Journal, a gift from a very special friend. Jeff reads. We plan our menu for Saturday when Andy, Dewey, Brian, Jen, Oliver and Faelan come to visit us in our new home. We order pizza for delivery and go to bed.

The Family Visits the RV

Our family spends the day with us at Alum Creek. We grill burgers, Smoking Goose Kitchen Sink Sausage, and Johnsonville Apple Sausage links on Andy’s grill. Jeff prepares homemade potato salad and together we follow the recipe for Confetti Quinoa with Cashew Kale. Brian brings sauerkraut, snacks and jugs of water. Andy brings Corona beer and limes. I spend my time holding Ollie and playing with him. After we all eat, Brian, Jen, Faelan, Andy, and Dewey walk to the beach so the dogs can play in the water. What a wonderful day!


Ollie and Jen

dogs in water

grammy L and ollie

Cleaning Day

Jeff and I sleep in until 10:30! We clean the RV, dump the black and grey tanks, refill the fresh water and drive to the Kroger store to gas up the RV. Meanwhile, I buy some snacks and beer to take over to Brian and Jen’s. Jeff stays with the dogs at Alum Creek while I spend an evening with Brian, Jen and Ollie. Brian and I share a six pack of beer, I eat sour dough pretzels and cheddar cheese popcorn, and we bathe Oliver. After Jen nurses Ollie and puts him to bed, the three of us play SORRY. What a lovely, comfortable, and relaxing evening!

image amazon.com

Labor Day Weekend


Brian, Ollie, Faelan, Andy, and Dewey visit us for lunch. Jeff and Andy make a fire in the pit and we roast Boar’s Head beef franks. Along with the “dogs” we devour a wheat berry salad and coleslaw from Kroger’s Deli Department. Pretzels, Triscuits, hummus, and cheese tie us over as appetizers. We eat S’mores for dessert. I cry as my family leaves. Then Marylee, my BFF calls and I cry all over again. Oh, to love and be loved!

jeff and ollie

ollie and grammy L

ollie driving RV

Alum Creek Dewey

ollie and brian

alum creek fire

ollie 5 months

so big

About Alum Creek

image parks.ohiodnr.gov

Located in central Ohio near Columbus, the state’s capital, Alum Creek was a forest valley and home to the Adena culture. In the 1700s the Delaware Indian tribe settled here on the banks of the Olentangy River when the Iroquois nation forced them from their home in the Delaware River valley in the northeastern United States.

Colonel Moses Byxbe from Massachusetts built the first house on Alum Creek in 1805. With the threat of the War of 1812, blockhouse fortresses were built to defend this frontier from Indian attack. Fort Cheshire stood in Alum Creek until the Civil War and was later used as a schoolhouse. There is a bronze plaque in the family campground where the fort once stood. The next time we visit I will have to look for it!

image mobilmaplets.com

The Sycamore Trail guided over 40,000 slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad. The white bark of the sycamore trees cast its ghostly glow in the shadows of the night acting as guideposts. Africa Road received its name from the 30 newly freed slaves from North Carolina settled near friendly homeowners in this area.

Today Alum Creek is part of the flood control plan for the Ohio River Basin authorized by Congress in 1962. The lake was started in 1970 and completed in 1974. Its 3,000-foot beach is the largest inland beach in all of Ohio’s state park system. (from Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ brochure)

image fineartamerica.com  Photograph by Monica Lewis