Thursday, June 23, 2011

Separation Anxiety

I've been slacking on the blog front, but there's a good reason, I promise! Since last Wednesday, our trailer's been in the shop for its defective central air. When Steve called up the technicians to report our troubles from the last trip, he was met with skepticism. They asked questions like: "Were you plugged in?" and "Are you sure you were plugged in?" Wow. Really? It's like the first time they've ever heard of a new RV having some problems.

In any case, Steve drove the trailer over last Wednesday morning before work. Luckily, he didn't have to remove the hitch, which we were worried about (and God knows we're never re-installing that thing again). We thought we'd be back to pick it up in the next day or two, but the techs called Thursday to report the central air was indeed broken and they'd need to order a new one. Hate to say I told ya so, but....

So now it's been a week and we have yet to hear back about whether the new unit's been installed. I'm assuming it can't be ready yet, because I'm sure they'd be anxious for us to pick it up if it was. Unfortunately, we'd been planning to take a mini trip this weekend, but we're going to have to stick around here for family stuff -- and with the trailer in the shop until who knows when, it probably wouldn't have worked out anyway.

Hopefully, we'll be hearing from them soon. I don't like being away from the trailer this long!

Monday, June 13, 2011


Checking out is never fun, and the morning we had to leave Holly Shores was no different. Although we'd set our alarm clocks to wake up early, we ended up sleeping in past 9, and checkout was at 11 a.m. Yikes! To ensure we'd make it out on time, Steve offered to take Lola to the dog park while I worked on putting everything away and straightening things up. The nice part was that I didn't have to pack everything up yet, since we weren't going to do that until we got back home.

By the time Steve came back with Lola, I was already mostly done with my end of the deal, and had started cleaning (another thing I didn't have to do just then, but it certainly wouldn't hurt). While I was inside, Steve unhooked everything and hitched up to the car -- all by himself! Guess he doesn't need my help so much seems to take much longer when I'm running my mouth, anyway!

The drive home was so blissfully uneventful and relaxing that I used it as an opportunity to nap. When I woke up, we were driving over the bridge to Philly, which is where we finally hit some stop-and-go traffic. It wasn't too bad, though -- we made it home in about two hours flat, which is pretty good for a Sunday in June.

Saying goodbye is never an easy thing...
Dropping the trailer off at the storage facility is what I imagine it's like for parents to drop their kids off at sleepaway camp. You know you're going to see each other soon enough, but it's a gloomy time nevertheless. And it seems the longer we're on vacation, the harder it is for us to return to normal life. With work looming ahead the very next day, we decided to put off the rest of cleaning for another day in favor of grabbing lunch and a couple drinks at our neighborhood bar/grille.

Coming home, I was suddenly amazed by the space in our house...we could walk by each other without touching! Lola wasn't constantly underfoot, and I wasn't always on the verge of or in the aftermath of stubbing my toe or hitting my elbow/knee on something! Is that an echo I hear when I speak? And so on. And it's not like our house is big or anything, but I was now appreciating things I took for granted before.

Of course, give me another week or so back home and I'll be itching to get back in the trailer, for sure!

The trip as a whole was extremely successful. We managed to do a little bit of all our favorites, although next time we also want to try crabbing. Staying at Holly Shores was overall a pleasure. Since we'll probably be back at the shore a couple more times this summer, we'd like to try out as many different parks as possible. However, Holly Shores is probably one of the most dog-friendly campgrounds in that area, so there is a chance we could be back if we can't find a suitable alternative.

Now, for the ratings...
Pros: location near Cape May and Wildwood, pool, nature trail, dog park, clean and homey appearance, level site, friendly staff, game room
Cons: bad (and not free) WiFi, camp store not well-stocked

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Wildwood daze

After soaking up more than our fair share of rays last week, we were both feeling sore, itchy and irritated. The aloe vera we picked up at the store wasn't providing much in the way of relief, so Steve suggested cooling off in the pool. Since the sky was overcast at that point, I thought it couldn't do us much harm. We took our lobster-red selves down to the pool, where it was mostly deserted:

Look at that sweet sweet H2O
It seems as though the pool is going to become our favorite destination at any campground. During non-busy times, it's simply the best place to relax, stay cool and have a little fun. It even started raining (first time all week!) while we were in the pool, but we weren't deterred. Neither of us would be called champion swimmers, but we managed to have some pretty exciting races (including one where I was only allowed to use my legs, and Steve could only use his arms. Spoiler alert: I won).

There was also a hot tub "for adults only" that was usually occupied. Once it was free, we made a beeline for it, only to have the on-duty staffer there ask us, "You guys are 18, right?" Really? In most cases I'd consider this a compliment, but I was a little insulted here. How many 18-year-olds do you know who own an RV? I half expected to have her card us. We managed about two minutes of time to ourselves in the hot tub before a random guy awkwardly joined us. Clearly, it's the place to be.

On the boardwalk

When most people think of the shore, their minds probably go straight to the quintessential "beach day." I may be a little atypical in that my favorite thing about the shore isn't the beach. I love, love, love the boardwalk. Especially at night. There's something electric about the atmosphere on the boardwalk after the sun goes down.
All dressed up and ready to go
There's just so many different things you can do, at a time when most places are closed. You can grab a slice of pizza, shoot paintballs at a moving target, throw money into one of those rigged crane machines, ride a roller coaster or ogle the walking fashion statements (and atrocities) that seem to pop up everywhere. (Steve commented that this seems to be the only place where people will buy souvenir T-shirts and then actually, proudly, wear them while they're there.)

This being the Jersey Shore, the shirts/booty shorts at the ever-popular screenprinting/airbrushing shops were typically emblazoned with such slogans as "Come at me bro," "I love Single Ronnie" and "DTF." Class-ay. There was also another one we kept seeing around: "Cool Story Bro" and "Cool Story Girl." (I haven't been able to figure out if that's another infamous quote from Jersey Shore, or something else.) For the life of me, I can't understand what that "saying" would mean, or why anyone would deem it witty and deserving enough to put on a shirt. Even so, we sort of adopted it as our own, and took to responding to each others' observations with, "Cool story, bro."

You can go to the boardwalk year after year, and it might seem like nothing ever changes. But for seasoned Wildwood-goers like us, we notice every little tweak. So we were pleased to see a new bar/restaurant called Cap'n Jack's, a place that's in the vein of Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville.

Lookin' sharp there
Drinking a mojito (or a lager, in Steve's case) on a deck overlooking the boardwalk is the perfect accompaniment to people watching:

While we were there, a group of kids tried to steal a go-kart from the nearby track, and in the process crashed it into the railing of Cap'n Jack's first floor outdoor seating area. And the little jerks escaped! Only in Wildwood...

How far we've come...

In pre-RV days, we used to stay in one of the motels just off the boardwalk. If you sat outside in the evenings, you could take in the sights of underage kids stumbling home, starting fights and yelling at random passersby (and in the last year, the sounds of vuvuzelas ringing out in the night). I worried that we'd miss out on the spectacle (not to mention the convenience), but I found I appreciated the quiet of the campground, too. And with Holly Shores only a five-minute drive away, we really couldn't complain. It also worked in our favor that the campground was down the street from a Kmart, a movie theater and a Rita's Water Ice (supplying all of our needs at once!). Still! If we can find a good one in the future, we'd love to stay at a beachfront site.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Beaches, a Lake and a Crazy Dog

You know how I was lamenting the lack of things to do at Holly Shores? Well, I found something, almost by accident. Lola and I were running through the campground when I saw a small opening next to the dog park area that branched off into a trail. Turns out that's the campground's nature trail, which leads you directly to a lake (I'd known there was one somewhere in the vicinity, but I didn't anticipate it being this close).

Lola, of course, wanted to swim, but the water looked a bit murky. So I just let her sniff around a bit in the interest of keeping her somewhat clean. But it didn't really make much difference because a few minutes later, she hurdled straight through a giant mud puddle, despite my attempts to steer her around it: 

Naturally, she's proud of herself
Needless to say, Steve wasn't too thrilled to see a muddy dog scampering up when we returned, but that's what outside showers are for!

Another bonus of the nature trail: A decent amount of wildlife. I spotted two wild turkeys, and then when I took Steve back there, we saw a turtle. (And some evil biting flies close to the water, which weren't as welcome).

By the time I got my camera phone to work, they were already running away

Not quite as swift on his feet
I was really pleased with myself for finding the lake, because I knew Steve was hoping we'd get some canoe/kayak action in. However, when I gave him the grand tour the next day, he wasn't too impressed. The water did look stagnant, so the waters probably wouldn't carry a boat very far. Still, it was pretty cool to be able to find this little area tucked away in the woods, and fairly untouched by human presence. Score one for Holly Shores!

Our walk behind us, we opted to go to the beach for yet another day: 

More wildlife--Scuttle and Co.
Since we'd enjoyed ourselves so much shopping in Cape May, we thought it'd be nice to try out the beach there as well. Unlike Wildwood, you have to pay for beach tags in CM, but you also don't have to walk a mile and a half just to get to the beach, like you do in WW (okay, maybe it's not that long, but it certainly feels that way). It ended up a disappointment, though. You would think that for a beach that charges a daily rate of $5 per person, they might take extra care of the sand. I understand we're still in Jersey, but come on. I don't want to not be able to walk barefoot because of the sharp stones and shells scattered everywhere. To make matters worse, it was rather windy, so every time a breeze picked up, you got pelted with little pieces of stones and shells. Not fun.

Wildwood's beaches might not be the cleanest in the world, but at least they're free. And look...they even have random motocross competitions, which I doubt you'll ever see in Cape May!

In other news, the other day in Cape May we bought Lola a new toy--something called a Jolly Egg. It's pretty much exactly what it sounds like. The guy at the store promised it was completely indestructible because dogs can't get their mouths around it. Well, this one can, but so far it's still in one piece. I made the mistake of introducing it to her on our campsite while she was on leash, and she got herself all twisted up around the picnic table trying to wrap her jaws around the thing. Good thing we could let her run free at the dog park, because the Jolly Egg is kind of an off-leash activity:

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Visitors of the good and bad variety

At last, we had our first real visitors to the RV--Steve's parents and sister Michelle came down for the day. Although his mom and dad were the first to tour the RV on the day of purchase, they'd never actually seen what it looks like when people live, breathe, eat and sleep in it (and neither of us would win any awards for cleanliness). In preparation, I scrubbed the counters and table, dusted dog hair off the couch and dinette seats, scoured the toilet, sink and shower, and Swiffered the floor. All in about 15 minutes, tops! There's something to be said for the ease of cleaning an RV. I get bored cleaning at home very easily because it seems like it takes forever to see results. Here, the results are immediate.

We were all so excited (Lola too) to finally have visitors. And to top it off, they brought us lunch--hoagies from Wawa! Here we are (minus Steve's dad, the unofficial photographer for the day) relaxing in front of the RV:

Wow...Lola's actually looking at the camera!
Steve and I were fresh off our successful (and inexpensive) trip to Cape May the day before, so we suggested going there first for a bit of shopping. This time, Steve vowed to pick up a knickknack or two so we could finally start decorating. He even had looked up special RV hanging things to affix stuff to the walls. (Who is this person, and what have you done with my husband? He's certainly not into decorating at home. I'm *still* coaxing him into hanging some of our wedding pictures!)

It didn't take long for us to find the first two tchotchkes that will inhabit our humble abode. In keeping with our nautical theme, this is what we chose:

Can you tell somebody really wants a boat?
And I couldn't stick with my spending-free stint for long. One of the kitchen stores had the cutest set of casual dinnerware featuring word-and-picture pairs. I might have passed on them, but I *had* to get at least one of the cups (you'll see why). And because you can't just buy one cup, Steve picked out the other:

If you're as dimwitted as me, here's what they "say": Goof ball and happy camper (yes, it took me a minute to figure these out)
We also had some time to pose for pictures, of course:

Steve's sporting his new shades--pretty fancy for him

After we had our fill of Cape May, we went off to soak up the sunshine at the beaches of Wildwood. The water was actually a comfortable temperature, even though the wind had turned slightly chilly the closer we got to the shoreline. Steve and Michelle, polar bear cubs that they are, almost immediately submerged themselves in the water, but I followed not too long after. Man, those waves were fierce, but it was one of the most fun ocean-swimming experiences I've ever had. Almost nobody else was there, including lifeguards, which made it feel that much more freeing.

We were having such a fun day that upon our return to the boardwalk, I was dismayed to find my hives were back in full force. Always something, eh? (As Steve commented, "It's always an adventure with you.") I'd had some random hive breakouts earlier in the week but didn't think too much of it. Now, though, these little puffy splotches had set up camp pretty much all over every inch of bare skin.

Our theories as to the cause of this apparent allergy included:
1) sun
2) sunscreen
3) bug spray
4) the sheets in our bed (I've complained that they were itchy before)

My mother-in-law graciously picked me up a bottle of Benadryl spray. Unfortunately, this didn't really do much for me until a few hours later, and I'd already popped a Zyrtec by that time. A day later, they're showing no signs of dissipating, but definitely seem to get worse after I'm out in direct sunlight. I was all ready to chalk this malady up to the heat, but then my eyes alighted upon this sign in the RV:

WTF? I allergic to the RV? Interestingly enough, Steve Googled "RV allergy" and found out some people are filing a class action lawsuit after developing respiratory problems as a result of formaldehyde exposure in their RVs. That's not exactly the same as hives, but still. I've never developed any sort of reaction to the sun, sunscreen or any of the aforementioned things before. In fact, the only time I can remember having such a significant breakout is during a particularly grueling shopping trip a few years ago, and even then it wasn't this severe.

Wonder if there's a connection? Either way, whatever it is, it needs to go away, stat!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Midweek Madness

The weekenders at Holly Shores have departed, which means...we're all alone! It's very, very quiet here, which is nice. Now when we go to the pool, instead of having kids do cannonballs and kick water in our faces, we have it almost to ourselves. I guess most people just come down for the weekend, although there are a lot of park models here that some use to stay for the season.

A ghostland

These spots were all filled before
We spent yesterday traipsing through Cape May, which would've been a lot more enjoyable had we not exhausted so much of our spending money on that air conditioner. For me, shopping without being able to buy is like putting an alcoholic in a bar and telling him he can't have a drink. Torture! So we were reduced to browsing, window-shopping and price-comparing. Steve decided we need to have a theme for our RV, and decorate it appropriately. Cape May's teeming with seashore-oriented country stores, so we ended up looking for knickknacks that would fit into our theme (which is going to be nautical or shore-related). Of course, we didn't end up buying anything yet, but we found a lot of possibilities. Our paychecks really need to come yesterday!

View from the bridge going into Cape May
"Shopping"...I'm awkward

The good thing about having limited funds is that we don't have to worry about buying food or other necessities. Everything's all here! I do wish there were more activities at this campground, though. There's supposedly a lake nearby where you can rent kayaks and canoes, but it's not actually part of this property. Other than that, there isn't much else. And you can only go to the pool so many times before your skin burns to an attractive red crisp.

I guess we're starting to get a bit greedy when it comes to campgrounds. After getting a taste of the lush resort facilities at Lake-in-Wood, we've come to expect a different kind of standard. In planning our next long trip, which will hopefully occur in August, we found a park in Myrtle Beach that not only has an indoor and outdoor pool, a lake, and a beachfront location, but ALSO a freaking lazy river. That's it, I'm sold. At a certain point, though, we have to realize that we chose this camping lifestyle because we enjoy nature and simplicity without all the frills of resorts.

Still, though. If I can stay somewhere in my trailer for a reasonable price, and there just happens to be a lazy river on the premises, I'll be the happiest camper that ever was.

Speaking of authentic camping, we finally got around to building a campfire last night. Well, Steve did anyway. The firestarters we picked up at the camp store were a bit pricey, at $1.99 a pop, but they sure worked like a charm. By the time I collected all the s'mores supplies, we had a beautiful blaze going.

He's pretty happy