Bits and pieces

IMG_2776Labor Day is approaching.  In Anchorage it made me melancholy.  It signaled the end of an all-too-short—and therefore exceedingly precious—Anchorage summer.   And it meant that the long, gray (exceedingly gray) Anchorage winter was not far behind.  A winter that eventually turned me into a rabid sun worshiper.  This year is different.  Summer may be winding down, but we have an East Coast fall to enjoy and will be moving to warmer weather for the winter.

And, for the first time in decades, we are not workers this Labor Day.  I am savoring the sweet existence of retirement and the ability to do pretty much whatever the hell I want.  So, on Labor Day, I will lift a glass to all the workers who went before and made it possible for us to retire before we became broken down old drones.  And another glass to all who continue to work, wishing them luck in navigating the maze of labor and workplace issues today, with the shell of a labor movement limping, or in some cases, waddling, its way through the confusion.

On a purely selfish level, Labor Day allows us to breathe a sigh of relief because it means that the summer RV/campground season is coming to an end.  Having been insulated by the scarcity of people and immensity of land in Alaska, we did not really comprehend just how crowded campgrounds would be in the Lower 48.  We started this trip before the summer season hit and struggled to find campgrounds that were open.  But that early start gave us the luxury of staying in some amazing, nearly empty campgrounds while school was still in session.  As soon as school let out, we have had to vigilantly plan ahead to make sure that we have reservations some place—any place—every single weekend.

We went from this:

Just us--nobody else-at this amazing campground on the Cassiar Highway.

Just us–nobody else–at this amazing campground on the Cassiar Highway. 

To this:

Just us--and about a thousand other people--at this campground in Massachusetts

Just us–and at least a thousand other people–at this campground in Massachusetts.

Which brings me to the next bit of this post—campgrounds.  We have been relatively promiscuous when it comes to campgrounds.  We have stayed at wide variety, from bare-bone gravel lots to “resorts.” We try to keep an open mind, mix it up a bit, and enjoy what each has to offer.   Last week, in a few hours we moved from the pastoral and ocean serenity of Recompence Shore in Maine to the bustling, efficient Massachusetts family resort, Normandy Farms.

From a working farm,


Sheep in the pasture at Recompence

to a trailer farm.

Trailers in the pasture.

Trailers at Normandy Farms with no farm in sight.

It was a culture shock.  My first reaction was horror at the sheer number of people in the campground (400 plus sites, so well over a thousand people).   But once I left my “what are these people thinking?” attitude behind, I started to understand the place.  It was a bit surreal and Disneylike–huge, meticulously groomed, highly organized, and over 100 cheerful, employees.  But it worked.  The place was enormous, with ball fields, basketball courts, fishing lake, bike park, fitness center, massage, sauna, four pools,  snack bar, bocce ball, Frisbee golf course, children’s ceramics classes, state-of-the-art horseshoe pit . . . you get the idea.  The place does what it does very well, with creativity and zeal—and it’s not cheap.

Normandy Farms streetscape

Normandy Farms streetscape

The recreation hall with its tangle of bikes

The recreation hall 

It was not our style, but we enjoyed seeing families spending time together—and seemingly having a lot of fun.  Kids were riding bikes all over the park, without parental hovering, to a variety of kid-geared activities, while their parents relaxed and socialized. Our neighbors, like many there, were enjoying some three-generational bonding, with a full outdoor set-up of a movie-style popcorn popper, a stack of short 2X4’s labelled “Adult Jenga,” booze, and an elaborate corn-hole game.


Even the dog park was adorable

Even the dog park was adorable,.

and amazing, with a washing area and kennel

and amazing, with a washing area and kennel.

Which brings me to the final piece of this post—the reason we were there in the first place was that we had to make an 8 am Monday appointment for our refrigerator repair and this was the nearest campground to the RV place.  We hitched up the night before so that we could creep out early during the official “quiet time.”  After two days in the shop, our refrigerator is working.   Labor Day and cold food—good to go.

Cold temps to warm our hearts

Cold temps to warm our hearts

We now are happily parked in our kindhearted relatives’ (thank you) driveway enjoying time with them and exploring and revisiting the South Shore below Boston, where George grew up.  We are going to spend some time in Boston and Cape Cod in the next few weeks and then head south.  Zoe may not want to leave because she is in love with everyone here—human and dog-wise.

Path to the dog beach in Plymouth

Path to the dog beach in Plymouth 

Lots of birders in the marshes heading to the dog beach

Lots of birders in the marshes by the dog beach

Dog beach in Plymouth

The beach itself

One happy dog

One happy dog 

With her gorgeous cousin, Smokey

With her gorgeous cousin, Smokey

Enjoy Labor Day.

The Boston skyline from Hough's (or Houghs) Neck in Quincy

The Boston skyline from Hough’s (or Houghs) Neck in Quincy.

Hough's Neck

Hough’s Neck

George's home at Hough's Neck when he was in late elementary school

George’s home at Hough’s Neck when he was in late elementary school

Looking forward to some Boston time

Looking forward to some Boston time


9 thoughts on “Bits and pieces

  1. Thanks for taking me with you with the pictures and story line. As far as the visitors here in Alaska I too will be happy when they finally leave and we have open roadways again, however even though I live up North near Livengood I relish our winters even though a ‘bit” cooler than down in Anchorage! Have a safe trip.

    • Thanks for commenting Pete–I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog. I understand your love for the Livengood winter–although I no longer share it. We lived in Fairbanks for years and, despite the cold, I prefer winter there to Anchorage. It’s the perpetual cloudiness that gets to me in Anchorage. At least in Livengood you get clear skies, brilliant stars, and northern lights (and you’re not far from Manley Hot Springs–a good winter soak).

      By the way, we won’t be in New Jersey during tomato season, but we have had some pretty amazing New England tomatoes!

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on campgrounds. I agree with you on they type of campgrounds we prefer. Our favorite campgrounds are in natural settings with big sites where you don’t have to look out your back window at a row of campers. We have stayed in a few of the resorts when traveling and like you, they are really not our thing. Have you tried any COE parks? As you travel south, you may be able to find some that are open in the winter. We enjoy state and local parks, too.

    • We also prefer large sites and natural settings and tend to head to state and local parks. So many state parks take reservations for all their sites, however, that it can be hard to get in during the summer without planning six months ahead. We were lucky that Camden Hills keeps some first-come-first-served spaces. We haven’t tried any COE parks yet, but will keep them in mind. Thanks for the advice. And thanks for following along, I always enjoy your comments.

    • It’s a unique, lovely part of the country, you definitely should visit. We’re really enjoying ourselves, but everything is crowded–not just the campgrounds. Takes some adjustment. How’s your new RV?

      • It is awesome. There is something to be said for just parking, hitting a button, and relaxing!

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