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On the Road with Frank

Immediately after retiring from the United States Navy Frank started a blog he named On The Road With Frank. The purpose of which was to share the travel experiences he and his wife were to have as they wandered around North America in their motorhome. While On The Road With Frank certainly fulfilled that goal, it also provided a venue to display some of Frank's photography. With the emergence of Frank Madia Photography, it was fitting to move the blog to FrankMadiaPhotography.com.  After the summer season of 2018, Frank and Connie gave up the RV lifestyle.  They now travel the country and hopefully the world by car or plane.  Frank remains passionate about photography.  However, he has come to the decision that his long-standing policy to avoid politics in his blog may not have provided the best use of his voice.  Starting in September of 2019 his blog will contain the traditional travel posts complete with photographs, but there will also be opinion pieces on the state of politics in the United States of America.


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What a Spring!

As I write this it is June 24, 2008. When I last posted we were somewhere in Indiana on our way to Elkhart. I started a post some time well after Elkhart where I tried to catch up, but a nearly continuous string of distractions prevented my finishing the article and getting it posted. I am now a full two months behind and getting further by the day.

With that as my situation I have decided to update only as to where we went and why we went there to get you caught up as far as our travels are concerned if not as to the details of each stop. As we go forward, I will try to bring back the details of the more important of those stops. I think this is the best way to regain currency in this blog while not drowning the reader with a single post.

Hopefully, this will also serve as a barricade blaster in removing the apparent writer’s block that seems to have affected me.

So, we left wherever we were to go to Elkhart, Indiana, to visit the Damon plant and get a tour of place where our home on wheels was built. We planned for three nights there in order to not only visit the plant, but also the RV Hall of Fame and Museum.

From Elkhart we continued east to a state park outside Fayette, Ohio. We were there because it was on the way to Marblehead, our next destination. We were in Marblehead to meet up with a number of our birding friends, all of whom were to stay at a rather famous old stone house on the south shore of Lake Erie. We stayed in a little less than perfect RV Park, Motel and Bait Shop just down the road a quarter mile. While there we birded a lot, ate a lot, drank a lot of wine and, in my case, along with Jan played one round of golf. We also got to see our good friend Gary on our last full day in the area. It was a wonderful get together but boy was it exhausting.

After a week in Marblehead we drove all of 107 miles to Statesboro, Ohio. Statesboro is adjacent to Hudson where Connie’s nephew Tim and his family live. We stayed in a really nice KOA Kampground and hosted our first over night guest in this motor home, Tim’s youngest daughter, Mary Beth. Since school was still in session, Mary Beth had to go to bed at her normal time and we had to get up much earlier than our normal time to get her fed and off to school. We think she had a good time, but you can never be too sure. We were fortunate that Tim had taken a day off work to spend with us. As a result we were able to visit some birdy places we probably would have missed without his knowledge of the area. We were able to spend some time with the rest of his family minus their son, Luke, who was still away at college.

From Statesboro we had another challenging 124 mile drive to a campground in Delaware, Ohio, just north of Columbus. We were there to visit three couples. The first was Tony and Corine Konecny both of whom had been shipmates of mine while on the USS Hunley many years ago. Tony was out of town on business so we got to spend a full evening catching up with Corine. It was fun. The second night we met up with Connie’s cousin Harry and his wife Nancy. We had not seen them since Connie’s mother’s funeral in the fall of 1993. In fact that was when I met them. It was great to catch up with them, but we could have used more time. Finally, after a day of getting lost trying to find an outlet mall we met up with a nursing school classmate of Connie’s, Dal and her husband Jerry. It was great fun watching Connie and Dal reminisce about their school days and the rest of their classmates. It was somewhat remarkable that they knew where many of them are currently living and working. Of course the common denominator in all three of these get togethers was good food. Since we were in civilization we got to eat three different cuisines over the three nights.

From the Columbus area it was a 206 mile drive to Pittsburgh. We purposely chose to arrive in Pittsburgh on a Saturday as we would park the coach in a commercial warehouse parking lot in downtown Pittsburgh. We did not want to deal with weekday traffic and the commotion that accompanies a large commercial terminal such as the one in which we were going to store the rig. Our late niece’s husband, Joe, works for a company that shares warehouse space and has offices in the compound. He had prearranged for us to park there. We were comfortable doing so as the lot is fenced and has controlled access and Joe would be there during the weekday days keeping an eye on things for us. Of course our reason for going to Pittsburgh was to see Connie’s family. We were able to do some touring things with Connie’s sister Barbara and her husband Jim. We took in one baseball game to watch our youngest grand nephew Brian play. We stayed at Cinda and Scott’s home. We were able to see most of the grand nieces and nephews including Alison, Emma, Kelsey and Greg, Eric, Drew and Brian. Matt and Nick live and work in Chicago and New York respectively, so we were not able to see them. Reva was still away at college. We missed her by only one day as Joe left the Saturday before we did on Sunday to pick her up. And finally, Annie lives and works in New York City. Given that there are ten grand nieces and nephews who grew up in Mount Lebanon and half have graduated from college, it was pretty remarkable that we were able to see six of them. The day we left was the one year anniversary of the loss of Celia to ovarian cancer. Although we would have liked to have participated in the family get together that day, we were really happy to have spent time with the family in the better times that have emerged.

From Pittsburgh the plan was to make our way to Boston. Our first stop out of Pittsburgh was 90 miles away in Duncansville, PA. We chose Duncansville only because it was a short drive and there was a campground. Had we opted to go further we would have had to drive too far given the availability of campgrounds and the late start due to having to re-inhabit the coach prior to underway. Duncansville turned out to be a good choice as we got to see some railroad historical areas and get reacquainted with the motor home.

From there we moved on to LaPorte, PA. and the beginning of issues. As we were trying to get into our space at what seemed like a really nice campground outside LaPorte, the engine on the motorhome stopped. We spent the next several hours trying to get it running long enough to either get it into the site or out of the park so as not to block the road through the park. We finally opted for leaving the park as the back-in was just too hard requiring starts and stops and back and forth movement. By heading out of the park I could sort of gun it and go as far as I could roll between stalls. We ended up spending one night in a truck parking lot just outside the campground. We were towed to a garage to spend the next night and following the replacement of our fuel pick-up pump the next day we were off and running just after noon. The details of this story are much more exciting and exhausting.

While the fuel pump was being replaced Connie and I made the decision to bag the New England leg of our journey. We were mentally and physically exhausted from all the visiting and the breakdown. We were also a bit in shock over the cost of operating the motorhome in this near $5.00 per gallon of diesel fuel era. We decided a rest was indeed appropriate and we felt that by not burning so much fuel we would enjoy the rest even more.

So, instead of heading northeast we headed south to a commercial campground in Winfield, PA called Little Mexico. I am not sure how the campground got the name, but the owners do a pretty good job of carrying the theme throughout. We stayed there four nights doing some local exploring during the days although we concentrated on resting most of the time. We even had campfires two nights out of the four. That was a hoot as the wood was a bit wet and there was little in the way of kindling. I had one heck of a time getting a fire going at all the first night. The second night I was able to scare up enough small stuff to get the dampish paid-for-firewood hot and dry enough to burn. Of course we really did not need campfires the evening temperatures were in the high 80’s. We did get some much needed rest and that was important.

From there we moved 183 miles to Camp Meade, Maryland. Camp Meade is an Army base, but there are nearly as many Sailors, Airmen and, I guess, Marines here as there are Soldiers. There are also a lot of civilians as the base is also home the National Security Agency. The RV Park is situated far from the spooks and for the most part is really quiet. It is a well maintained park, but the management model needs some adjustment in my opinion. We arrived here on June 9 and will depart on June 29. More rest.

Actually, we have done quite a bit since our arrival. We spent one day in Springfield, VA, visiting Kennon and Barbara. That was fun. While we caught up on each others’ lives, we watched the third round of the US Open Golf Tournament. We also got to spend time with another good friend, Pat. Pat let us use his hot tub prior to going out for all-you-can-eat crab, only there was no crab. That’s a story for another time.

One of the most important things in my opinion that we were able to accomplish here was getting the coach cleaned. We had been towed during a dark and stormy night and the coach was covered from stem to stern with sand and mud. Neither of the places we stayed allowed on site washing of motorhomes and the only truck wash we passed along the way was closed due to high temperatures. So, I spent the better part of two days hand washing the coach with a spray bottle and rags thereby not violating the no hose or bucket rules. The coach is once again acceptable to look at. While I was working on the outside, Connie did a number on the interior making it look new again. So, we will arrive in Delaware well rested with a coach to be proud of. There have been other highlights here, such as the round of 90 I shot with Kennon at Andrews Air Force Base. We played the shortest of the three courses, but even at that I was playing from the fairway most of the day which is a real rarity.

Okay, now I am caught up. Hopefully, I will be able to stay caught up for the next few months while we are camp hosting. Stay tuned, because as I said at the beginning of this, I may go back and provide some detail to some of our adventures of the spring of 2008.

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