Month 3 out of 4 of my MD summer trip is now in the record book. It was a great month, filled with lots of time spent with friends and family. That leaves the month of Aug remaining of my time here in the north, before I depart heading south back to my home base in Lake Wales, FL. Its been a glorious summer so far, and with only one month to go, I need to visit with a few more friends before I depart. That, and spending lots of my remaining time with the the kids and grands. As they’ve all been so far, I suspect this final month will zoom bye before I know it, and it will be time to pack up and head out of here. While I look forward to returning to my FL getaway, I’ve really enjoyed spending so much time catching up with family and friends. But alas the nomadic roads are calling me, and I’m hopeful that I can get back on track with my cross-country tour, and next spring, I can pick up where I left off last year. We’ll see! Pictured above, despite the “slop” look of it, this is one of my all time popular dutch oven chicken and rice dinners. It is one of Ashley’s favorites, and was requested specifically during our family camping trip to Yogi Bear.
The Next Yogi Generation
When the girls were young, we spent many a camping weekends at the Yogi Bear Campground in Hagerstown, MD. Easter and Halloween weekends were our favorites, and the campground was always busy with events and festivities. Fast forward 20 years and now we introduce the next generation, my grandkids, to this wonderful family fun adventure. It was AJ’s birthday, so we decided to rent a large cabin at Yogi and all go there for a 4-day, 3-nigh mini vacation and birthday celebration. The park has changed and grown over the years, now sporting a multi-million dollar water park, significant expansion of both RV site and cabin rentals, and the additions of Boo Boo’s Ninja Camp, pedal cart freeway, jumping pillow, and lots more. There’s even a lazy river under construction that will likely be operational by next year. But with all this expansion, so too has the cost of both RV site and cabin rental gone through the roof. What was once an affordable weekend vacation spot for the RV owner, it’s now priced so high that it’s a wonder any young family can even afford it anymore. But I guess that’s progress.
But even with the rising costs, this place continues to deliver an exceptional family fun adventure each and every day. Arts & crafts, candy bar bingo, scavenger hunts, hay rides, the pool, and nightly outdoor movies and dances, make for an expansive agenda that keeps you thoroughly busy throughout the day. Certainly never a dull moment! The kids did rock painting, t-shirt spin art, sand art, and many other activities. AJ played candy bar bingo twice, and won both times coming back to the cabin with bags full of candy bars (which he was more than happy to share). They spent afternoons cooling off at the water park, where the little ones enjoyed the walk-in shallow water features, and the older ones made runs down the 400 foot water slides. Trips to the play ground and put-put golf course rounded out the many activities we all enjoyed.
And of course, what visit to Yogi would be complete without visits with the characters. Yogi, Cindy, and Boo Boo made several appearances throughout the week. While Raelynn was eager to pose for pictures and even hug Yogi, Savannah was not quite as sure of these foreign looking creatures. We also had a couple nights of roaring campfires where many a marshmallow was cooked (some burnt) and many a S’more constructed and eaten. Ashley’s guest Jason was also introduced to Banana Boats – which are bananas filled with peanut butter, mini marshmallows, and mini chocolate chips, then wrapped in foil and placed in the the campfire for all the ingredients to melt and the banana to become warm and mushy. Unwrapped then eaten out of the peal with a spoon – Mmmm, Mmmm, Good!
Overall, it was a wonderful trip! I think Samantha captured it exactly spot on in one of her Facebook posts about the trip – “First Ketchum Family camping trip to Yogi Bear! Man this place has changed A LOT since I was a kid but the fun is still there! It’s a very different experience going as a parent than I remember going as a kid. Bruce Laliberte – I don’t know how you put up with me and Ashley going camping several times each summer but the memories are priceless and now we get to make them with our kids and your grandkids!” Well said Samantha, and I could not agree more – and am thrilled that the next generation of campers are now in training. Keep it up!
Fun Day with Ashley
Ashley comes up with the greatest ides of ways to spend the day. Not long ago, her and her friend Jason spent the day visiting several different restaurants evaluating their crab cakes. They went to about five different places and had traditional MD crab cakes at each one – evaluating them on a series of criteria ranging from construction to taste. She journaled the entire thing on Facebook, and it was a lot of fun to read and follow. She planned a similar event, this time going to various sushi restaurants and evaluating each on some similar sashimi, and their signature sushi roll. She invited me to tag along, and of course I had to participate. We ended up only visiting three restaurants, but only eating at two of them as the third one was closed to food service mid afternoon between lunch and dinner. Oh well, we settled for cocktails instead and decided that we had overdone it a bit and were all pretty full anyway. Besides, Ashley had an appointment later in the afternoon so we ended up calling it a day. It was a lot of fun though, and the sushi was AMAZING! We plan to reschedule a part two session to finish up with the restaurants that we didn’t make it to. So, more to come on that soon.
So, it turns out the appointment she had made was taking Jason to a special place to celebrate an achievement Jason had made (I can’t say what though cause it still not finalized). Turns out, she booked him and her with tickets to iFly – an indoor skydiving place. They invited me to tag along and participate if I was up for it, but alas I much rather keep my two feet on the ground. I offered instead to come and watch and to take pictures and videos. It was actually really cool to watch. I’ve seen these types of places in pictures and in videos on youtube and such, but never in person. It was very interesting to watch. Though never having done it before, Jason was an absolute natural, and assumed the stable flying position within seconds of entering the wind tube for the first time. In fact, Ashley was also very adept at it, but she admitted she had done it once before. Both did real well on the movement controls, and each did excellent with their spinning trips lofting up high in the tube. This really topped off a wonderful day filled with sushi and adventure. Thanks Ashley for inviting me along. I’ll be ready for Sushi round two whenever you are!
Friends & Family Gatherings
On the 4th of July weekend, my brother and sister in laws were kind enough to host a family BBQ. There was lots of old friends and family there, and it was great catching up with them all. I was a nice day, so the pool and hot tub got lots of use by all the young ones. We had tremendous amounts of food, and as is always the case, lots of wonderful wine to enjoy. Thanks Mike and Helen for hosting a wonderful day!
When I was in visiting Muskegon, MI in the summer of 2019, my friend and former Air Force roommate Scott, who is originally from Muskegon, asked his sister who still resides there to make me one of their famous fresh blueberry pies. In fact, I was so humbled by the gesture and so amazed by the quality of the pie, I wrote about it in the blog for that trip (HERE). Anyway, that was, and continues to be, the best damn blueberry pie I’ve ever had. Scott was kind enough to have shared the recipe, so I thought I’d take a shot at making it myself to bring to the family BBQ. I asked Mike how many I should bring, and he was quick to answer Two – one for the party, and one for the hosts. I was happy to oblige and so I made two fresh blueberry pies according to Scott’s recipe. They actually turned out pretty good, but I do think I should have put a bit more of the glaze in with the blueberries. Oh well, next time I will. Anyway, so off I went in the early afternoon on the day of the event, with both pies sitting on the passenger seat of my truck. Sadly, along the way, some knucklehead decided to pull out in front of me, and when I slammed the brakes to avoid an accident, one fo the pies went flying off the seat and into the foot mat of the truck. So, only one pie survived and made it to the BBQ, but it was enjoyed by many, and received lots of kudos.
Lastly, I got to spend some time with my good friends Tom and Mary Ann at their new house in Delaware. Recently, they sold their Delaware summer home in the beautiful golf community, and purchased a new, bigger home in the same community. While many of us retirees are downsizing, they saw fit to upsize a bit. The new place is in fact very beautiful with deck views of the magnificent golf course clubhouse and 18th hole, and has wonderful guest accommodations that make you want to stay forever.
In fact, that might be what happens to me. As you can see at left, my truck is being towed. After spending several wonderful days with them, it was time for me to head back to MD. After only about 30 minutes from their place, my truck lost power, idled uncontrollably, and was pouring out white smoke from the tailpipe. So I pulled over as soon as I safely could, called for a tow to the local Ford dealership, and Tom and Mary Ann came to rescue me from the side of the road. Turns out, there is a serious engine issue. There’s only 81k miles on this truck, and for a diesel that is supposed to go many hundreds of thousands of miles, this failure is very concerning. So now the engine is going to be removed and tore apart to determine root cause. Being out of warranty, I’m looking at some significant repair bills if I can’t get Ford Corp to get involved. The engine removal and tear down was the first requirement before they would even entertain any type of support. Let’s hope in the end that Ford covers all or most of the repairs. Otherwise, I’m in for a very large bill. I’m back in MD now awaiting the news and ultimate repairs. Fortunately, the scoot is allowing me to take care of errands in the mean time. Stay tuned for more details, and the final outcome of the truck repairs. Keep your fingers crossed for me!
So, one month remaining here in MD, then its off on the road again heading back south. I really look forward to spending the winter in FL again this year, and hopefully it will be under better circumstances. Many of the community gatherings and activities were curtailed last winter due to the virus. Sadly, it’s currently looking like a new wave is working its way through the country, with Florida smack at the top of the hit list. I’m hopeful this is a brief event, and I can enjoy a winter filled with pot luck dinners, community gatherings, and club events. But, time will tell I guess. Here’s hoping all of you have a wonderful remainder of the summer, stay healthy, and safe travels. Till next time! P.S. Depending on the outcome of the truck repairs, I was starting to do a bit of research on replacements. Thought this one might be interesting to drive around in!