After a one-night stopover at a commercial park in Lexington, KY, finally, finally we were on our way into Ohio to reunite with loved ones after three long years. The weather, with the exception of a brief bout of sprinkles as we crossed the river into Cincinnati, was clear and calm. I was keeping everyone updated with excited texts. Our first stop was to be Delaware State Park, about 30 miles north of Columbus and 10 miles from my Brotherman’s home, and we were making great time.
Then, as we approached the capital, a high-pitched scream erupted from the dash, and the Check Engine light illuminated. Not being at a place conducive to stopping immediately, we continued on until we could pull over safely, but TBG could discern nothing obviously amiss, and (older) idiot lights live up to their names in that they don’t at all pinpoint the problem. We called and vectored in a Cummins shop on the west side of Columbus, and headed there when they said they could take a look for us. After a speedy diagnostic test, the extremely nice fellow said it indicated the #5 fuel injector was at fault. It was not a critical malfunction, but it would need to be fixed at some point, and we decided to continue on, mulling over the repair situation as we rolled. The decision we came to would throw the rest of our trip into a bit of chaos.
I’ll let the tale unfold in order using as much prose as I can without talking out of school about family and friends and with photos taken exclusively with someone or other’s phone.
Wouldn’t you know that Delaware State Park was almost deserted except for a few host rigs and one other camper — in the site right next to ours. No matter, we weren’t going to be at the park very much anyhow, and as soon as we got the rig set up, we headed off to see Brotherman (S), Sissy (H), NeFew (F), and Neecie (K).
Sissy was lying in wait to capture the moment of my reunion with Brotherman!
We had four days total in Delaware/Ashley, and we packed a lot into that time.
Clockwise: Sissy’s yummy homemade loose meat (F did the cooking) sandwiches and cupcakes with F, K, and me; TBG sits in some ticks; the boyz and me; siblings share a loathing of the cold.
One day, we visited the beautifully refurbished old jailhouse bunker that now houses S’s office — with a window through which talking is prohibited! — at the County Veterans Services. We had a grand tour, met most of his very affable coworkers, then we whisked him away to hit up the Cabela’s in north Columbus. That evening, while TBG and F played chess, S and I concocted a variety of delicious homemade pizzas, a winner being one made with a cherry barbeque sauce, a few bottles of which S gifted us, knowing how much I love all things cherry.
On another evening, we walked over to the city offices where Sissy works for the water department. Above, I commandeer the microphone to air my grievances before the council.
They have lots of cats, which made me so, so happy. Clockwise: holding Hogan who is a million years old and still tearin’ it up; the beautiful and elusive Snow Patrol (Snowie) who only likes Brotherman — and me! Boo, who is blurry because he is always on the move to avoid the other cats who are mean to him; Bitty, the cuddly sweetheart who is nice to everyone, including Boo; and Mario, aka Chonk aka Mr. Albanese aka Portnoy aka D. R. Railsback aka Margeejoe Lee, just to name a few of his aliases.
We had the whole gang out to the RV for a big pot of my taco soup and cornbread. My sibling and I took a walk in the woods, during which he named all the trees for me, and we tracked some deer that we eventually caught up with. When we returned, we conducted the long-standing family tradition of Bug Eyes.
This is a thing we all do and surprise my Poppy with whenever we can because he does not care for the Bug Eyes. We texted the one on the left to him since torturing one another is what happy families do.
The guys got in some range practice while Sissy and I stayed home to color and chat. For our final evening, S&H treated us all to a ton of take-out Thai/Japanese/Chinese food. We had to say a sad so-long to F that night, K was able to stop by the rig the following morning for another tearful last visit before we headed out, but we would see S&H in another week’s time in our hometown to the north.
Here’s where the curve balls began to be thrown directly at our heads.
We stayed at Punderson State Park, a place I have been to many, many, many times due to its proximity to where I grew up. My mom took us to the lakeside swim beach often during our childhood summers, and we spent many hours on the sled hill during our childhood winters. Speaking of winter…
A few days earlier, they had been enjoying temps in the 70s, and a few days later, it would near 80, but first we had to endure this bullshit, pretty as it tried to make itself.
Across the lake you can see the Manor House and the cabins. One of the things we were looking forward to was being in the park with S&H, who had rented one of the cabins for four days at the end of our Ohio time. However! Although the fuel injector repair was not an emergency, if we didn’t do something about it before beginning our Wisconsin summer gig, we wouldn’t be able to get it fixed until September at the earliest, and that didn’t seem like a good plan. TBG worked hard to arrange for it to be worked on while we were in Ohio, which was great, but it meant we would need other living arrangements, and we wouldn’t be at the park with S&H. Enter my BFFF (D), who once again (see Ohio 2018) generously offered her beautifully appointed basement apartment to us for the low, low cost of FREE. We still had five days at the state park before the move, three of which were booked with planned appointments. I’m a little ahead of myself, so let’s back up.
After getting settled at the park, we hurried over to my folks’ place, where Momma had a big pot of delicious chili and warm cornbread waiting for us. We had that evening and the following day to relax, HUG, and visit.
TBG and I took a different walking route around town each day. When I was in the first grade, I won a little pine seedling on Arbor Day. My Poppy helped me plant it in the back corner of our yard, and he carefully tended and mowed around it for years, until we moved when it was about sixteen years old. The property has been fenced, the former garage torn down and rebuilt, and several families have lived there since then. Through it all, almost fifty years later, my tree still stands today!
After the weekend, the wild rumpus began in earnest, with routine medical appointments in Cleveland on the first two days, then dental checkups for us both on the third day. Those led to a total of three more unplanned appointments, all of which were able to be taken care of while we were in the area, but which, of course, ate into family and friend time more than we wanted and upped the stress levels exponentially. Add to that, on the night of the third day of the work week, we had to pack up our belongings and clear out the fridge and freezer in preparation for moving into D’s house and getting the RV in for service. On the fourth workday of the week, TBG, with Poppy as his copilot, drove Essie to Youngstown, where she would be for the remainder of our stay. While it was an absolute blessing to be able to stay at D’s only minutes away from the folks’ house, I don’t have to tell our other full-time RV friends how disconcerting it is to not be in your own home, in your own bed, with all your stuff where it can’t be lost or forgotten. With our plans already fraying, my nerves did the same as I fretted we’d lose something important with all the shuffling around of items from place to place. We were eating too much sugar and not getting all our sleep.
My parents kept us fed with good homemade dinners, dark chocolate, and love. Despite the seemingly endless list of unplanned must-dos (add one more in the form of taking in Hond for a wheel bearing repair, which I can’t claim as stress for me since TBG handled that entirely on his own) we managed to keep it together enough to get in solid fun and visiting time.
D treated me to a salon haircut, her first in over a year and mine in over two! While I love my usual stylist, he does not shampoo my head, and that was a soothing luxury. The next day, D came over to the ‘rents house, apron on and flowers in hand, to help Momma and me make the meatballs for our big family spaghetti dinner when S&H arrived on Sunday. Poppy lettered some place cards, and we all relished our “red dinner.”
D and her fella, B, took us out to one of their favorite restaurants, Crumb & Spigot, where we were too busy chatting and enjoying the delicious meal to take any photos. On a sunnier, warmer day, D and I stole away for a pretty trail walk where we managed to get in about five miles, two covered bridges, and lots of good conversation.
Between D’s place and the folks’, I was able to catch up on all the “big” laundry, and both my brother and my Pop gave us gigantic bags of quarters that will keep us in good stead for months to come.
The weather took a turn for the better in the second week of our stay, and it was downright hot for a day we all spent at S&H’s Punderson cabin. H and Momma enjoyed a beverage on the sunny Manor House patio, TBG, S, and I took a boardwalk stroll (chubby muskrats espied!), and S and I went for a swim at the indoor pool. Well, it ended up being only me because although the pool was touted to be heated, it was not all that warm, and S was not having it. He played lifeguard while I did some laps.
Looking back over it all in order to write about it, nothing seems as hectic as it felt while it was happening. The results of all the medical appointments are A-OK, and Hond is operating smoothly again. On a more discouraging note, the RV shop was unable to duplicate the problem, therefore no repair was made. As I said, it’s not a critical or dangerous condition, but after all the stress of having to vacate it, that was frustrating news to hear.
The evening before S&H were to return home, S’s best friend visited. We had lots of laughs sitting outside on the balmy night, so reminiscent of our teenage days. We had a half-day of whole-family time the following day.
New family portraits were taken, then we weepingly waved S&H goodbye.
On our last full day, TBG, again with Poppy riding shotgun, went to retrieve Essie. Momma used her town contacts to help us arrange to be able to park it in the nearby museum grounds lot overnight. I got up early to sneak upstairs at D’s to have our last squishies before sending her off to work. We had a long, lovely morning with the folks, and then — well.