This was just supposed to be a quick entry today to establish our new location in Vermont so I could get back to finish my New York entries. But...oh brother...where do I start? I suppose at the beginning.
Wednesday was the day the DirecTV technician was supposed to come to look at our TV problems. If you recall, we stayed at our campground in New York 3 extra days because August 2 was the earliest day they could fit us in (when we called on July 21). On Tuesday, we had gotten a call from the Wisconsin service dispatcher informing us the work order had gone to their office instead of the office in New York. (Our billing address is Wisconsin.) After literally more than an hour on the phone, Fred got them to say they would still be coming the next day (Wednesday). The time period was between 1:00 and 5:00. So I stayed at the coach waiting for the technician. Fred drove our granddaughter, Monique, to the Newark airport for her flight home. He would stay with her until she got on the plane as this was her first solo flight.
Meanwhile back at the ranch, at 4:55 with no technician in sight, I got on the phone for another marathon call to DirecTV. By 5:30, after being on hold several times, I was told that our work order had again gone to the wrong office, this time in New York, but the wrong office nevertheless. By 6:00 I got through to the correct office, who had just gotten the order, but of course, they could no longer get anyone out there yet that afternoon. I explained how unacceptable this all was and that we were due to leave in the morning. She told me someone would be out in the morning between 8:00 and Noon. I insisted we be the first call so that we could still leave the campground and she said it would be on the work order, but no guarantees.
So Thursday morning we waited until 9:45 and then hitched up to leave. I called my new best friends at DirecTV to investigate the whereabouts of our technician and was told he was getting a late start and would be to us between 11:00 and 1:00. I politely informed them not to bother, that we were leaving and would call someone when we got to Vermont. By 10:00 we were hitched and ready to depart when guess who showed up? You got it: our friendly DirecTV technician. He actually was a very nice guy who tried his darnedest to figure out what our problem was. But he determined all the equipment was working properly. All along, Fred had figured that it was possible to have the internet satellite connected, but be slightly off on the TV satellite. I didn't think it was probable. Possible, I suppose, but not probable. And since we have moved the coach around 3 times, I thought he was wrong and I was right.
But now, we would just have to go on down the road and check it out at the next campground in Vermont. The campground we had selected was Pine Hollow in Pownal, VT. It was the closest campground to Bennington (about 6 miles south) that had full hookups. There was another one that sounded a bit nicer, also close, but no sewer. My laundry was piling up and there was no way I would go into a "no sewer" situation at this point. And Pine Hollow not only had the full hookups, but 50 amp service! That was another feature we had come to appreciate. We've been in 30 amp campgrounds continuously for quite some time. It's usually not a problem, but with the heat wave, days in the 90's and 100's and nights in the 80's, the air conditioning runs 24/7. When the A/C is running, I cannot run the clothes dryer, or the toaster, or the microwave. Every time we use one of those appliances, we have to turn off the A/C. Not a problem for the few minutes to make toast or reheat a cup of coffee, but definitely a problem to dry a load of wash.
So by this time, the clothes hamper is jammed full and I'm starting a pile on the floor next to it. YUK, it's driving me crazy. So I told Fred we needed 50 amps and full hookups, no exceptions! Fortunately, at Pine Hollow we would have it all. I inquired about the ability to point our satellite at the southern sky and was told maybe...maybe not. But they had free WIFI throughout the whole campground, and cable TV for $1 a day. Fine with me.
By the time we got to Pine Hollow it had been a long day. Including a quick lunch at the travel plaza, we were on the road over 4 hours. The cats had been extremely restless the whole way. They took turns whining and laying on my lap all afternoon. I figured it was because we had stayed in one place for two weeks and they forgot how to travel :) We were all glad to finally arrive at Pine Hollow. And a pretty little campground it was with a small fishing pond with a fountain in the middle. A quiet and bucolic setting, just what we needed for a week of relaxation.
We were shown to our site and saw that satellite would be "iffy". We inquired about a couple of other sites that appeared open, but learned they were reserved over the next couple of days. We took our site, backed in, plugged in the electric and I went inside to fire up the satellite. These days, we do that before anything else. It's easier to make adjustments if we haven't started settling in.
We were indeed having difficulty getting a satellite connection. Fred pulled the coach out as far to the road as possible. Still no satellite, so we resigned ourselves to use their WIFI and cable, and proceeded to set up, including putting the jacks down, chocking the wheels, slides out, and unhitching. As I was settling inside, Fred went out to hook up the water and sewer. Did I say it had been a long day and we were tired? Fred came back in with a long face. We had pulled the coach out so far the sewer hose did not reach the sewer. We have a 10 foot hose for short hookups, and a 20 foot hose for a long hookup. What we needed at this point was a 30 foot hose, or both of our hoses hooked together. We had neither a 30 foot hose, nor a connector to put our two together.
We decided we would worry about it tomorrow. Find a Wal-Mart and buy a connector. We hooked up their cable TV and Fred flopped down in his chair with his computer and proceeded to connect to their WIFI. Or at least he tried to. He could not get their WIFI network to come up on his computer. I could get a weak signal on mine that fluctuated between connected and disconnected. And on top of it, my computer had a virus, or at least it thought it did.
I went back to the office and whined about the situation. Not only could we not get our satellite signal, but we could not adequately pick up their WIFI. She showed me their two WIFI antennas, one on the garage next to the office, and one next to the pond, further away from our site. She told me no one else complained and she had no problems in her office. She did tell us one of the overnight sites near the office would open up in the morning if we wanted to try moving. It was only a 30 amp site. We said we'd think about it. Fred was pretty disgusted with the whole situation and told me he'd rather just stay overnight and go somewhere else in the morning. He then proceeded to fall asleep in his recliner, something he never does. After a short nap, I got him to go to bed and he was asleep before 9:00. It was a tiring day.
That brings us up to this morning. We awoke to a steady rain. Hitching up and traveling in the rain are not my favorite things to do. As the rain stopped, I realized what a pretty view of the pond we had out our bedroom window. If we moved to the other site, we would be turned around and the only view out the window would be the trailer next to us 6 feet away. And the site was all dirt, no grass like our current site. So I suggested that we push the trailer back the 4 feet we needed to connect to the sewer and stay in this site, using their cable TV and just my computer with its erratic WIFI connection until Sunday and then move. It is a nice quiet place, and we are trying to relax and lay back for a bit. Fred agreed to give that a try if we could get my computer fixed.
Even though my computer seemed to have a virus, (I was getting virus message boxes that would not go away), I was able to kind of work in the background. I researched the internet for computer repair in Bennington and came up with what sounded like a small shop to try. They opened at 10:00 so we just jumped out of bed, dressed and drove to Bennington. Before we left the campground, I told the owner we would not be moving to the other site, and would stay in their campground until Sunday.
The computer guy turned out to be a real find. He was a little one-man shop on Main Street. He said my problem was probably the Norton Anti-virus program not being able to corral the virus properly, and that he sees that all the time. He recommended a free anti-virus program you can get from the internet. He said he would take my computer and using that program, find and delete the virus, and I could come back for it this afternoon. His estimate for his time was no more than ½ hour labor (the rest of the time the computer would be working on its own). Fred also brought in his computer to see if he could figure out why he can't connect to the campground WIFI, and the guy figured out exactly what the problem was, and spent the time to reconfigure his WIFI card and sent us on our way. Wow, what customer service! This guy was like a little computer doctor, and seemed to really know his stuff.
We stopped for breakfast at a restaurant down the street called The Happy Cook. I thought that sounded like a cool name for a restaurant. It was just a little diner, and the cook was indeed happy, and breakfast was good. I was starting to get in a good mood. I was in beautiful Vermont, my computer was getting fixed cheaply by the computer doctor, and we were staying near Bennington where there are lots of neat things to see and do. I was reading to Fred from the little guide book about all the things I wanted to see, and feeling slightly conflicted because we said we were going to "lay back for a while in Vermont". We say we want to relax and take it easy but we never do. I think it's just the way we are; it's the way we've always been. Fred said, the only laying back we'll ever do is when they finally "close the lid" :) I think he's right!
When we got back to Pine Hollow, Fred immediately wanted to see if the new configuration of his wireless card helped him connect to the campground WIFI. It did, but barely. He was on for a moment, then not. So we took his computer and walked to the other site near the office. Much better connection, so we decided we wanted to change sites after all. We went to the office to tell them we had changed our minds, and wanted to change sites, and that's when we were politely "kicked out" of Pine Hollow. She told us she had just rented that site out (LIAR, it was empty) and that we were probably better off just settling up for our overnight since "you were never happy here anyway." Can you believe that? These folks are really uptight.
That was probably the fastest we ever hitched up. My good mood was quickly deflating. I found another possible campground north of Bennington about 12 miles, but due to poor cell phone reception was not able to call them. We just got on the road and headed to Bennington. As we drove, I was finally able to get through to "Camping On the Battenkill" campground in Arlington, VT. They did not have a full hookup site available through the weekend. She could put us in the overflow field with water and electric until Sunday, and satellite hookup should be no problem. We can move to full hookups Sunday, but only through next Friday. At that point I was just happy not to be homeless, and close enough to Bennington to come back for my computer this afternoon, and do some sightseeing this weekend.
As I sit here this evening, writing this entry on my newly cleansed computer, I'm reminded of just what a crazy life this is. We're in the big overflow field with our satellite and TV connected just fine. (Guess Fred was right about the TV satellite after all.) Tomorrow, I'll put all my dirty laundry in a big black garbage bag and try to find a Laundromat. At least the heat seems to have subsided. It's cool enough tonight to open the windows and turn off the air. I can hear the crickets singing their evening siren. I'm sure we'll awake to the birds chirping. And no matter how difficult things seem, it could be worse.
I could be sweating a bid deadline, or worrying about my sales figures, and sleeping restlessly until the alarm goes off at 6:00AM. A crummy day in the RV life is better than 10 good days at the office!