What kind of chemistry is involved in creating a family, and how does that formula change over time? I guess there is no single recipe, but this week I had opportunity to observe a couple of examples of fine family dynamics.
During formative years, sibling rivalry can have a significant impact on relationships. There can be a perception that one son or daughter gets all the attention, while another is neglected. One is the favourite son, while another is the black sheep of the family. The perception that “mother loved you best” can extend for decades, but usually begins to fade with maturity and the death of our parents.
Our youngest daughter, Lisa, has a PhD in psychology and specializes in understanding relationships, so I’m sure she is better equipped to analyse sibling relationships than her dear old dad. Suffice to say, from my simple observations, it was heartwarming to see the love, joy and affection shown this week between Betty and her two brothers, Bill and Jack.
Betty & I had worked our way up the U.S. eastern seaboard, and decided to hold up in southern Ontario until we were fairly sure that the snow was gone from Winnipeg. We were unable to spend more time in the U.S. for fear
of exceeding the “180 day rule”, but we also wanted to have a little time with Betty’s big brothers. Brother Jack, and his wife Christine live in Amherstburg, Ontario – outside the normal snow belt. Her other brother Bill, and his dear wife Heather, were able to make the 5 hour drive down from their home northwest of Toronto, so there was ample opportunity to both reminisce and build new memories. As it turned out, we also reconnected with old friends, Rick & Penny, who stopped by at the beginning of their RV trip to the west.
Of course, it didn’t hurt that historic
Amherstburg has a number of fine restaurants, and sits nicely on the Lake Erie North Shore wine route. Wherever we went in this extreme southern corner of Ontario, we had a great time sharing our lives with family and friends. As we left, there were hugs and kisses all round (and a few tears), and it was wonderful to experience this brotherly love.
Just a quick further example: Betty & I spent Easter Sunday in that Ohio Turnpike Service Plaza while our 9 family members – pictured on the first page of www.reddoch.ca– shared a traditional turkey dinner together. Through FaceTime we sat at the table with them, and observed another great example of brotherly (and sisterly) love. Here’s praying that our grandkids, and all in the next generation, find the loving formula that keeps our families together!
In many of our blog posts, we have used musical references to highlight the vibe of our visit. Whether or not the songs resonate with all generations, they
connect Betty & me to memorable experiences throughout our lifetimes. This week we drove down a kind of musical memory lane, stopping in Cleveland, Ohio for a tour through the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. It was fun to re-live moments – particularly from our youth – that spoke to us through moving, evocative songs in ways far greater than simple words could deliver.
After leaving Washington, D.C., we drove through Maryland and Pennsylvania, catching a section of the Appalachian Mountain range on our way to Ohio. On our first night at an Ohio Turnpike rest area – known as a Service Plaza – we were surprised to see how large and extensive the services were there. While we didn’t make use of it that night, we noted a dedicated RV parking area with 50 & 30 amp hook-ups, a dump station, and drinking water available.
On arriving in Cleveland, we parked in the 1,000 stall lot of a football stadium next to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. We had checked in advance, confirming that we could stay the night there if we wanted, for $36. As it turned out, we were the only vehicles in the lot (except for the security SUV and attendant’s car). We were able to leave the Smart attached to our motorhome during our visit, and decided to move on to our next destination after we got our music fix.
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame contains a wide variety of musical memorabilia from a broad range of artists. We couldn’t help but think of our two talented musical sons as we examined the many instruments on exhibit – from pianos and organs to acoustic and electrical guitars and drums. Costumes worn on stage were prominently displayed, as
were hand written song lyrics, record contracts, and personal items, such as Jim Morrison’s Boy Scout uniform! (lol). Pictures and recordings were present at each display, and a variety of theatres showed videos and movies of artists like the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, U2 and many more. This post only captures a few of the inductees from the years since the Hall of Fame was established in 1983.
Betty & I could have spent much longer seeing and hearing from the artists that influenced us in our formative years. I was reminded of the differences between access to media in the 50s, 60s and 70s, compared to current, immediate
information about artists that is available on the www now. Back in the day, we had to watch Ed Sullivan and American Bandstand to see who was hot or up-and-coming. Then we would have to find a record store that carried the 45 rpm single or 33 1/3 l.p. that had the songs we wanted to hear. A.M. radio stations had very narrow prescribed
play lists, and if you weren’t into “bubble gum” music you had to wait until underground F.M. stations hit the air. For me, it was WABX in Detroit that introduced us to the artists whose songs were too long or radical for commercial A.M. radio. The disc jockey would put on an l.p.. You would listen to the whole side, and a minute after the needle would
start to click at the end of the record, he would come back on and hazily say “Far out, man. Let’s listen to another one!” lol. There was no social media to promote Woodstock and other similar outdoor mega concerts that followed, just a lot of underground word of mouth. It was a different era, but obviously someone who wasn’t too stoned captured it and made the footage available to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Far out man!
At the end of our visit, we moved on to another Ohio Turnpike Service Plaza were we stayed the night with 50 amp electrical service, dump station and water – all for $20.
There are many times in our lives that we just can’t seem to find the right words. On those occasions it’s great to be able to crank up the tunes and let the music speak!
When we left Cape Hatteras, Betty & I intended to spend a couple of days visiting the historic sights of Washington, D.C. On the way, we spent a night at a Flying J truck stop on Interstate 95, just north of Richmond, Virginia, and arrived around noon at Greenbelt Campground, in a national park on the outskirts of the nation’s capital. While not as close as the national park campground on
the Potomac River I remember staying in when John F. Kennedy was President, it is still only 12 miles away from the city centre. Our plan was similar to other city visits. We would spend a day on a local bus/trolley tour that stops at all the significant points of interest. But then the weather forecast changed, and so did our plans.
Last night’s forecast for Washington today was for high winds and potential flash flooding, stalling traffic in tunnels, underpasses and low-lying areas. The storm was moving in from the southwest, where it had already caused significant damage and some loss of life. Should we stay or should we go? Betty & I weighed our options, and came up with a Plan B.
Instead of committing to a bus tour, we decided to drive the Smart around the city, giving ourselves the opportunity to bail (figuratively – hopefully not literally – lol) if the weather changed for the worse. As it was, I’m not sure we didn’t take our life in our hands driving the chaotic streets of Washington, more so than battling a thunder storm. In any event, we lived to tell the tale. And as the rain began, we headed back to a happy puppy, high and dry in our home on wheels.
Sometimes life doesn’t turn out exactly as planned. There are always elements beyond our control. But today Betty & I were able to roll with it, and continue on down the road. Best wishes for the resiliency to successfully adapt in unexpected circumstances!
Before Betty & I set out on our overlandish odyssey, I confess to being something of a news junky. We were daily subscribers to the Winnipeg Free Press, with comparatively well-written local, provincial, national, and international journalism adding detailed commentary to the news gleaned nightly from CBC and CTV national and local programs. As an engaged citizen, I always felt it was my responsibility to remain current on local and international issues. But now, might I venture to say that ignorance is bliss?
On the one hand, it has been more difficult to keep up-to-date with significant news stories as we travel. Television reception is often poor, and quality news programming seems hard to find. If not pre-filtered to express a narrow point of view, the stories often are of a cat in a tree, interviewing the
cat owner; the person whose tree the cat is occupying; the firefighter rescuing the cat; and with a comment from someone on the street who happens to be passing by. Not that I have anything against cats (well, in fact I do. Lol), but in the overall scheme of things, there are usually more important events on which to report. “Now let’s turn to sports” says the news anchor…
On the other hand, those more important events are usually prioritized into “If it bleeds, it leads” formats. Terrorism, wars, mass shootings, earthquakes, hurricanes and tornados resulting in death and destruction all create a context for understanding the world around us. But as they invade our living rooms on a daily basis, do they skew our perception of our level of safety and our need to defend ourselves against unknown adversaries? When we remain in a terrorized state, the terrorists have won.
Ok, I have to admit that, from time to time, I check out the news on-line; enjoy picking up a local newspaper; and make sure that our bathroom magazine rack has the latest edition of Time magazine. (I haven’t seen a Maclean’s magazine since leaving Canada. lol) But for the most part we are cut off from the trials and tribulations of the world around us.
Betty & I are enjoying the natural beauty of our amazing continent and its wonderful inhabitants. We are regularly meeting interesting people from all over, and talking about favourite destinations, with conversations usually steering clear of politics and religion… Whether in an urban park or remote forest, we have always felt safe and have never had any of our belongings stolen on day trips away from the site. Maybe some people would think we are naïve and oblivious to the risks around us. But so far we are prepared to say that: “ignorance is bliss!” And yes, “no news is good news!”
Addendum: As responsible citizens, I’m not suggesting that we should permanently disconnect. A thoughtful essay by Jon Meacham in the April 8/19 edition of Time magazine quotes journalist Walter Lippmann and his early 20thcentury book, Public Opinion. He suggests we need a “…willingness to think before we decide, and to weigh before we weigh in. ‘Every man whose business it is to think,’ Lippmann observed in Public Opinion, ‘knows that he must for part of the day create for himself a pool of silence.” Our current adventure has not only provided a pool, but a whole ocean by which we can
contemplate life. Can Reddoch’s Retreat lead to a time of reconnection with news of the world? Only time will tell…
Three Little Birds, by Bob Marley:
“Don’t worry about a thing, ’cause every little thing gonna be all right. singin’: “don’t worry about a thing, ’cause every little thing gonna be all right!” Rise up this mornin’, smiled with the risin’ sun, three little birds pitch by my doorstep singin’ sweet songs of melodies pure and true, sayin’, (“this is my message to you-ou-ou:”) Singin’: “don’t worry ’bout a thing, ’cause every little thing gonna be all right…”
There are certain reference points in our travels north, south, east and west, that mark our journey across the continent – like dipping a toe in the Atlantic, and then the Pacific. Myrtle Beach State Park was a favourite stopping point in childhood camping trips up and down the U.S. eastern seaboard, and comes to mind whenever I think of “must visit” east coast locations.
The state park doesn’t seem to have changed much in the past 50 years (with the exception of adding wifi, water & electricity to most of its 350 sites, and also sewer connections to some) and that is a good thing. It is situated on the south side of Myrtle Beach on a prime piece of oceanfront property, with about a mile of sand along its
Grand Strand beach. Many hotels have been added to the Atlantic coastline at Myrtle Beach, but it is nice to see the thick maritime vegetation, with numerous hiking trails, picnic areas, and bike paths within the park.
This is a relatively brief visit, as we make our way up the coast to Cape Hatteras, but thought I’d take the time to add a little update while
Betty works her magic in her new sewing centre at the back of our home-on-wheels. It’s been a “must visit”, but will need to be a “must visit again” to get the full impact of this beautiful spot, or as they say in the south: “Y’all come back now, ya hear!”
In documenting our travels, it has become my practice to review our pictures each week and wait for them to tell their story. The message I scribe is most often a joyous one, as Betty & I are very much enjoying what we are seeing on our overlandish adventure. At some point this week – most likely while returning my camera to its bag – the settings unintentionally changed from colour (or color in U.S.A.) to black & white. We took historic city tours through Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina, and are now camped at Sesquicentennial State Park in Columbia, South Carolina, a park I last visited with my parents over 50 years ago. While we are keenly aware of the history of difficult race relations in this part of America, Betty & I have experienced nothing but the warmest of southern hospitality from blacks and whites during this visit. This blog post highlights our brief time here.
After the RVillage rally in Live Oak, Florida, we journeyed east through Jacksonville to Amelia Island, making a brief loop around the island and its many golf courses before stopping for the night in site #8 at Crooked River State Park, just over the Georgia border. (How nice to visit a state named after our youngest granddaughter! Lol.)
A short drive up the coast from Crooked River took us to Skidaway Island State Park on the outskirts of Savannah. A popular park, we were unable to book a single site for two nights, but made the quick trip from site #64 on our first night to site #1 for our second. As has been our practice in many new cities, we took an enjoyable trolley tour around Savannah, whetting our appetite to see more of this attractive, historic city on a future occasion.
Our next stop was Charleston, South Carolina, where we found a full service site (#P3) at Oak Plantation Campground. Since the site was unavailable for a second night, we moved to a local Walmart where we stocked up on groceries, unhooked the Smart, and headed for another guided tour of this beautiful old city.
After dinner at downtown Charleston’s Sticky Fingers, we decided to hook back up at Walmart and head out to an I26 rest area near Orangeburg, SC.
To our surprise, a hose blew off from our water pump shortly after our arrival at the rest stop, and we were without water for the night. But John’s RV in nearby Lexington, SC fixed our plumbing problem and got us back on the road again the next morning. As mentioned, we are now in site 29 of loop 1 in Sesquicentennial State Park in Columbia, SC., trying to confirm or deny a childhood memory that each of the sand-covered tent sites was raked in a herringbone pattern when my family visited over 50 years ago. Well, the sand is still here on tent sites but it is not raked between visitors. Of course, many of the sites now have electricity & water, and gravel has been added as
a parking base. The campground still has work to be done to level quite a number of sites, whose uneven elevation is not apparent on campground maps. But it is still a nice large park on the outskirts of Columbia, the capital city of South Carolina.
During our time in America’s deep south – with its historic plantations and slave cabins – we have purposely sought out encounters with its inhabitants. It is difficult to capture the complexities and nuances in a brief post, especially one labelled Black & White. But permit me to relate a couple of very brief stories (each of which could take a separate post…).
The Haircut: I have always been cautious about who cuts my hair, but purposely chose a barber shop with four black barbers and a shop full of African-American customers. When my turn came for a cut, I had some difficulty describing a “normal” haircut, when no one in the room had hair like mine. Lol. It was my first haircut without scissors being used – just razors – and it took place with the chair turned away from the mirror on the wall, so I had to put my trust in the barber. Would I leave with the logo of a popular sports team carved on the back of my head? Well, due to hair loss in that area, the possibility was significantly lessened, and I don’t have the tight curls that make that job easier. Lol. In any event, I was warmly welcomed by everyone in the shop, with handshakes and heartfelt thanks for coming from each of the barbers as I left. BTW, I’m happy with the haircut, too!
The fiery preacher: For church on Sunday, Betty & I chose the nearest church to our campground, which turned out to be Windsor United Methodist Church with a mainly white congregation, but a lively black female minister. Rev. Leatha Brown’s message on forgiveness – both the need to extend and receive forgiveness – seemed most impactful personally and in a part of America where black & white have struggled with reconciliation.
May we pray that we can all turn the lenses through which we view the world from black & white to see the richness of full color around us?
Last week, Betty & I joined 700 other RVers at Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak Florida for RVillage’s Rally 2.0. We had previously attended a small Good Sam rally in our home province of Manitoba, and a regional FMCA rally near Houston, Texas, and very much enjoyed both events. Being relatively new to the RVillage network, and never having attended a large RV gathering, we were somewhat apprehensive as we made the short trip westward from our last campsite at St. Augustine, Florida. Long story short: We had a great time!
As a fairly private person, I have posted almost nothing on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or any of the other social networks (if that is what they are called…). So prior to the rally, our RVillage profile provided a bare minimum of information about Betty & me. RVillage is a relatively new social network, conceived just a few years ago by Curtis Coleman, founder and current CEO. At a session called “RVillage for Beginners”, Curtis assuaged our privacy concerns and reviewed a whole range of filters that can be turned on or off on the platform, customizing the information shared about us and the information desired from others. Bottom line, the platform is a very useful tool for connecting with, and staying connected to others who share our passion for RVing.
During the four day gathering, a number of workshops were held on topics of interest to RVers: from boondocking with solar; to fire safety while RVing; to managing RV weight; decluttering, downsizing and getting on the road, among many others. A couple of my favourites were “Mobile Internet Fundamentals with Technomadia” presented by Chris Dunphy and Cherie Ve Ard, well-known and well-
respected YouTube personalities who have a wealth of experience keeping in touch while on the road. Also most inspiring was a presentation by Marc and Julie Bennett of RVLove, telling their story of “Living the RV Life: Your Ultimate Guide To Life On The Road”– their recently published book.
Of course, everyone we met at the rally had a unique story. The park was filled with all shapes and sizes of RVs, carrying licence plates from across the continent, and we loved to hear the adventurous travel stories
told with such a wide range of wonderful accents! I guess, in the end, that’s what brought us all together and will keep us connected in future – our wanderlust to see all that we can in the time given to us to travel this earth.
The Suwannee Music Park reminded Betty & me of the site and vibe of the annual Winnipeg Folk Festival, and it was fitting to finish our last night together listening to the harmonies of the New Christy Minstrels (with former member Curtis Coleman), and enjoying the amazing metal “Firebird” sculptures that were set ablaze each night of the gathering.
Wasn’t that a party? Well yes it was! RVillage Rally 2.0 Spirit Of The Road set our spirits soaring and inspired us to continue adventures on our overlandish odyssey, but now better connected than ever!
“Green, green, it’s green they say On the far side of the hill Green, green, I’m going away To where the grass is greener still…
Nah, there ain’t nobody in this whole wide world Gonna tell me to spend my time I’m just a good-loving rambling man Say, buddy, can ya spare me a dime? Hear me crying, it’s a…
Yeah, I don’t care when the sun goes down Where I lay my weary head Green, green valley or rocky road It’s there I’m gonna make my bed Easy, now…
To where the grass is greener still To where the grass is greener still
To where the grass is greener still.”
Songwriters: Barry Mcguire / Randy Lloyd A. Sparks