Somewhere in the Republic of Moldova.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Osgoode, Ontario, Canada. Just south of Ottawa.

And where are they going next? We leave November 1st for a six week trip to Romania and Moldova.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

6 months on the road

Tuesday April 15…9:15pm

So we had parked last night at the Walmart at Carlisle Pennsylvania. I got up at about 6:50am and it was chilly…temperature at the bedside was 5C (40F) so I put on the kettle to make coffee and tea, and started getting Sherman ready to move. I pulled back the front curtains and saw a small brown envelope on the windshield and I could read “Carlisle Police Dept” on the front of it.
Sure enough, it was a ticket for “parking on private property without permission”…and the fine was $15.

I admit that we had not checked with the customer service desk at this particular Walmart. When we arrived, I had been on the internet and checked the website and it had 2 reports that this Walmart allowed overnight parking. Also, there were no signs saying that you couldn’t, and every other Walmart we’ve been to that does NOT allow overnight parking has lots of signs letting you know. And, there were at least 10 other RV’s parked there with us. (All of them also had tickets). So we drove over to the police station. At 7:30am we were the only ones in the parking lot. I went inside and asked the girl behind the desk if there was a process for disputing a parking ticket without having to go to court. She asked what the problem was, so I explained the situation. She handed me a form that I was to fill out, and said that they would let me know within 2 weeks by mail if my defense was satisfactory to warrant cancelling the ticket.

As I filled out the form, I overheard the girl talking to a few of the cops in the office behind her counter, and they were discussing the parking situation at the Walmart. I only heard bits and pieces, but enough to know that they were discussing my situation. I finished with my defense paperwork, and when I handed it to the girl, I mentioned that there were 2 other vehicles that were not RV’s that were parked close by and neither one of them had tickets. I said it didn’t seem fair that they were targetting RV’s in particular. Then, one of the cops came in and asked me a few more questions. He ended up saying that Walmart has no problem with anybody parking there, but they only lease at this particular location, and so they don’t own the parking lot. Apparently the owner doesn’t want anybody parking there. I said that issuing tickets doesn’t do anything towards accomplishing his goal…because it is all transient RV’s, they were never going to park here again anyhow…but a new batch shows up every night. So if the owner doesn’t want anybody parking overnight (despite the fact that this Walmart is open 24 hours!) the he would only accomplish his goal by putting up signs, not issuing tickets.

The cop agreed with me, and ordered the girl to VOID my ticket. He said they would get in touch with the owners and have more signs installed.

After our rude awakening, we drove to a small city owned conference center type of building. Nobody was around, and they had a fantastic free internet connection. So we figured out our route for the day. Originally, we were going to go to Williamsport, Pennsylvania. This is where the Little League Baseball World Series is held ever year in August. But we decided that at this time of year, there wasn’t much point in going there. Also, we had found an out of the way campground that supposedly has a nice waterfall and the only way to see the waterfall is to pay the $15 to camp overnight. It’s near the town of Shunk, (yes, Shunk) Pennsylvania. Look that one up on the map! The town even has a website and it says “Conveniently located in the middle of nowhere”. Too funny.

So we drove to Shunk, on a whole bunch of little backroads all twisty and windy through the hills and valleys of central Pennsylvania. It was a really nice drive, but we probably used twice as much fuel as we would have going on the interstate. Oh well…our intention was to see the countryside, not the freeway.

Overlook on the road to Shunk

We got to the Buttermilk Falls Campground at about 4:30pm. It’s not the nicest campground. The facilities are old and the sites aren’t very level. The bathrooms and showers are surprisingly decent though. And, the $15 a night we had read about on the internet was an old rate, and they are now $20 a night. For that price, I would rather be in a State Park, but we’re here now, and there’s not really anybody else here, so we’ll stay the night. There are a lot of (mostly) older trailers here and it looks like they are used by people as summer cottages, although I can’t for the life of me see why.

We went for a walk down to the falls, and they aren’t quite as good as I expected, but still it was a nice little hike down to the lower stream. It’s supposed to go below freezing up here tonight (we are at 1,600 ft elevation), but we have electric so we are going to make full use of our $20 and have our electric heater on for the night.

Buttermilk Falls

 Buttermilk Falls

Kevin on the log at the base of Buttermilk Falls

Buttermilk Falls from the top

Our GPS unit says we are now only about 205 miles from Watertown, NY where Alex is going to school, so we are on track to be there for this weekends baseball games.

We have now been exactly 6 months living in the motorhome. And we have done over 17,600 km’s (11,000 miles), which is far too much in 6 months. And as such, our fuel expenses ($640 a month on average) are much higher than we planned on. However, we will adapt over the next year, and that average cost will go down over that time period.

Total Nights Sleeping in the RV… 179

April Fuel $ 405.17

April Grocery $ 201.72

April Overnight Costs $102.33

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