Last Christmas, my daughter, Talia, gave us tickets for a riverboat cruise in Washington, D.C. I really liked this gift because it meant she wanted us to visit her. When we started thinking and planning this trip, we realized we could visit her in D.C. and also watch our St. Louis Cardinals play in Pittsburgh. Thus a trip was born and an itinerary set. D.C. first and then Pittsburgh which turned out to be a really good way to do it. During this trip, we stayed at 4 different types of campgrounds. Come along, and read about what we did and my thoughts about each type of campground.
|Ohio State Fair Campground
Our first campground was the Ohio State Fair Campgrounds in Columbus. This was a full hook up site but a no frills stop. There are hundreds of sites so no reservations are needed, unless it is during the state fair. Turns out, we were the only campers in our field. There were 2 other campgrounds, but we could only see a couple of other campers far in the distance. I would describe it as utilitarian. It did serve the purpose; however, I was uncomfortable with nobody, and I mean nobody else, being around. In fact, we didn’t even pay as there was nobody around when we arrived nor the next morning when we left about 9 am. Sorry, Ohio.
|Cherry Hill Park
Our next campground was the beautiful Cherry Hill Park in Washington, D.C. This place was deluxe, the best we’ve stayed at so far. It offered full hook ups, lots of amenities, and yes, plenty of people around. We stayed here for a full week. Our site was $77 per night, but we received a 10% AARP discount off of that price. As a side note, there are other facilities people can rent for those without an RV. During our week in D.C., we visited my daughter and enjoyed our D.C. river cruise gift which gave us a unique and memorable view of the city.
It was great to see Talia’s hip apartment and her Navy Yard neighborhood. We also toured the D.C. monuments, the F.B.I. building, the Ford theater, the Peterson house across the street, and the White House. This took us 3 days, and miles of walking. I came away with a new perspective of how the F.B.I. operates and responds to the evolving types of crime. I was filled with deep sorrow when I saw the F.B.I. Wall of Honor with pictures of all those who have lost their lives serving us in the pursuit of the F.B.I. mission. I stood in the place where Abraham Lincoln was shot and saw where he died the next morning. In the White House, we were in the room where Jefferson met with Lewis and planned that famous expedition. We saw the china of presidents from long ago, and a grand piano once played by Paul McCartney.
While in D.C., we planned a side trip to Philadelphia to visit Longwood Gardens, a botanical park with recently renovated fountains. We had tickets to the Fireworks and Fountains event, which occurs just 6 times a year. This event, other than being with my daughter, turned out to be the highlight of the trip for me. As a writer, I can’t put together the words to describe the beauty, the elegance and the enchantment of this 40 minute show. The choreographed water, music and fireworks delighted my eyes, my ears and my heart with movement and color and sound. Watching this show, I was so grateful to be there and to be sharing this experience with Dan and my daughter, Talia. It was one of those moments in my life where it felt so wonderful to be alive.
|My beautiful daughter, Talia!|
|and bugs at Longwood Gardens.|
|Fabulous Fireworks and Fountains!!|
From the practical perspective of being in D.C., we took the Metro for most of our trips into D.C. Our campground had a Metro bus stop right in it which took us to the College Park station, where we only had to ride the Green line in. The bus stop gets a mixed review for various reasons, but the Metro is gold all the way. We also rode the Circulator, a free bus line which runs every 10 minutes all around D.C. It doesn’t just run around the National Mall; although, one has to look carefully at the brochure to catch this. Also, on our way to the College Park metro station I noticed the newly opened “Lidl.” I know about Lidl thanks to my hero, Clark Howard. Lidl is a strong competitor of Aldi’s, so that’s where to shop for groceries. As a final note, many of the attractions in D.C. are free. All of the sites we visited were free, and while there was so much more to see, it was time for us to move on.
|Watch for awning clearance when camping
at Indian Brave Campground!
The next leg of our trip took us to Pittsburgh where we camped in a private RV park which included a small section for “travelers” and the rest was for seasonal/permanent residents. It was a secure park with limited amenities. The park was just okay; the restrooms were old but clean, and a bit in need of repair. The travel sites were close together, but we enjoyed low occupancy. There is a different ambiance in this type of park, so while it’s not my first choice, the Pittsburgh area did not offer many options. So, we would camp there again if we visit Pittsburgh in the future. One charming feature of this park was a secure footbridge to the historic town of Harmony. We walked there on Saturday morning. There were a number of shops and restaurants along with lots of historic buildings.
The rest of our time in Pittsburgh was spent cheering on the St. Louis Cardinals as they won 2 out of 3 games against the Pirates. Folks were friendly to us, and we enjoyed the more restful pace of watching baseball as compared to all the walking and doing in D.C.
|Let’s Go, Cards!|
While traveling from D.C. to Pittsburgh, we passed the sign for the Flight 93 National Memorial. I had not realized we were going to be right by this dedicated site. Had I known this, I would have planned for us to stop. Dan and I discussed backtracking to take this in, but it just didn’t work out. However, this is on my must list for the future. We owe it to those brave heroes and victims to honor their memory. I won’t forget.
Our halfway point to home from Pittsburgh was Indianapolis which offered another state fair campground for a $35 fee. However, I really wanted our last night on this RV trip to be at a place with trees and birds and flowers and other campers. I wanted it to be nice, not just utilitarian. Thanks to campendium.com, I found a city park, offering RV hook ups in Casey, Illinois. This was the 4th type of campground we stayed at on this trip. It was a stretch of miles to go in one day, but we made it before dark. Fairview City Park was a nice choice. We enjoyed a friendly area with only one other camper, but we were right on the edge of a park with the surrounding neighborhood. The campground’s keeper lived within eyesight. He showed up shortly after we arrived and was friendly and helpful.
|Fairview City Park in Casey, Illinois|
Since we would be there only one night, we did not unhitch our trailer. While hooking our trailer up, we had an issue with our electrical hookup. The campground keeper resolved the issue for us with an adapter, but not before we changed our dinner plans to PBJ’s instead of spaghetti. This used up the last of our bread; however, I like toast with my fried eggs at breakfast. So, in the morning, we took a walk to see if we could buy a loaf of bread somewhere. When we asked a passerby riding a bike where we might buy bread, he offered to ride up to the IGA and get it for us. He took our $20 bill and said he’d be back in about 15 minutes with our bread and the receipt. You may be thinking, yea, right, but Dan and I knew, we’d get our bread and we sure didn’t need any receipt. Our man returned, and he absolutely refused a tip. While on our trip, we met many nice and friendly people, including this Viet Nam vet. It’s nice to be reminded and see first hand, all the goodness that people still have. I’d like to go back to this town and see all their “World’s Largest” items and check out some of their shops and restaurants. Also, there is some kind of popcorn festival in Casey which sounds really, really good to me.
|Thank you for your service, sir.|
The entire 13 day trip ended up costing $2094. That includes the cost of that bread in Casey as well as tickets for 3 to the Longwood Gardens Fireworks and Fountains show, a hotel for 1 night after the show, tickets for Dan and I to 3 ballgames, and the cost of parking at each of those games. The only cost not included is the food we bought before we left and brought along; however, we would have eaten this food at home even if not traveling. This averages to $161 per day. We ate out a limited number of times. If you are interested is the specific cost of any category, such as gas, let me know in the comments below, and I’ll be happy to reply with the info.
I keep track of what we spend, so we can live below our means and align our resources with our priorities. Traveling is a priority for us. It refreshes my spirit when I see new landscapes, such as the patchwork hills of Pennsylvania or fireworks flanked by fountains 100 feet high in the air. It renews my hope when I experience the kindness of others, such as our bicycle bread friend or the man who gave me his seat on the D.C. metro or the family that gave us their Pirates toy truck giveaway, so we could give it to our great nephew. It deepens my appreciation and resolve when I learn about the tragedies and triumphs of history which made and makes us who we are today.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post. If you have any questions or want more information, please ask in the comments. Thanks for reading, and until the next time… which, God willing, won’t be long!