As mentioned in a previous post, we are doing these New England states “out of order,” i.e., not along the most time or distance efficient route, in order to best position ourselves to pick up relatives in NYC and take them with us to Maine. Having visited Newport, RI and Cape Cod, MA, we now had three days before our planned rendezvous. After going through a number of options, we decided to position Serenity about half way between NYC and Portland, ME, stay there for three nights, use our Geo Tracker for the round trip to the city, and have Titi Maria and KayKay stay with us in the RV one night before continuing on to ME the next day.
Looking at our route options, northern Connecticut was our preferred staging area, and after research via AllStays, Passport-America, and RV Park Reviews, we selected Chamberlain Lake Campground in Woodstock, CT. We secured four nights, three of them at the 50% discounted PA rate, though the first night was full price since it fell on the weekend, an excluded day by there policy. This placement would give us a 140 mile car trip to NYC in each direction and then roughly 190 miles in Serenity the next day to get to our Maine campground.
Chamberlain Lake Campground turned out to be quite nice, in appearance closer to what we expect from a state park: heavily wooded with spacious sites on a nice lake, complete with docks and natural swimming areas. We were on the power and water only rate, but the usual on site dump station was easily accessible on our departure day. The park also offered a cable TV option for a couple of bucks each day, which we selected as well. Though there was no park wide WiFi, we were provided with the access code for the office/recreation room connection, which worked fine in that vicinity, particularly since we never saw anyone else using it during our stay.
With what would no doubt be a whirlwind of impending activity in Maine, including parties, family gatherings, dining out, trips to the airport, wedding preparations and the like, we took advantage of this calm before the storm to do, basically, nothing. Once hooked up we didn’t leave the park for two days, venturing out on the third solely to restock groceries. We took the time to appreciate the beautiful local surroundings, particularly after the bulk of the campers left at the end of the weekend.
On our fourth day we headed south to NYC, braving not only the toll roads and bridges, but also the downtown Manhattan traffic, venturing all the way to the South Street Seaport in order to have lunch with Rosemarie’s sister, Melissa. Though the drive was a bit stressful, it was the parking that nearly did me in. Fortunately we stumbled across a very short pay spot after circling several blocks, and we reaped the advantage of having a car less than 12′ in length. With Rosemarie providing exterior guidance, we were able to parallel park with only four or five back and forth moves.
Melissa took us to her favorite pizzaria in the area, which was the primary thing we wanted in the city. We had an hour or two of catching up with her before we needed to head out and pick up Maria and KayKay. The short drive took us an hour due to the usual Manhattan traffic, but we scooped them up and fled across the Triborough Bridge just as rush hour was hitting. It took us over three hours to get back to the campground, partially due to my having to slow Loki down to about 50 mph the last hour of the drive due to a progressively worsening vibration which I suspected was the result of a deteriorating tire.
We arrived before dark with plenty of time to show Titi and KayKay the park, especially the lovely lake. That evening, with adult beverages flowing as fast as the stories, along with a viciously competitive game of Uno, I am pretty sure we were, for once, the loudest site in the campground. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, we provided such a positive RV experience for Maria and KayKay that we ended up keeping them an extra night with us once we arrived in Maine, rather than drop them off at Junior’s right away.
The next morning I headed off to the nearest town in search of a tire shop. The first place wouldn’t even look at the problem until I secured an appointment, which they might be able to provide late that afternoon. Thank goodness for Kelly’s Tire in Putnam, the second place I checked out. I would later learn that this family owned business has been around since the 1930’s and in the same location since the 40’s. They also have the interesting distinction of running a full service gas station at the same price per gallon as the area’s competing self serve places. Very old school, with the energetic attendant not only pumping the gas, but cleaning the windows, providing dog treats, and checking tire pressure and adding air if requested. The locals clearly appreciate it; they were running pretty much nonstop while I was there.
After describing my symptoms to the manager he immediately came out to inspect the rubber, having me pull forward slowly to see all sides of each tire. He spotted the problem right away: two of the tires exhibited an almost serpentine wave to the tread along with some bulging, a sure sign of major tire deterioration and impending failure. Since I was already running on a very old spare after having run a screw through a sidewall while in Florida, and because all of the originals were nearing at the end of their tread life, I elected to replace four tires instead of two. Our June budget included paying for one new tire on Serenity already, so now it looks like our July plan to buy a luxury item with our flex money has been overtaken by events. Ah well. Kelly’s had me on my way in about an hour.
After returning to camp I found that Rosemarie and crew had the interior of Serenity ready for the road, so after disconnecting services, dumping tanks, and connecting Loki we were on our way towards Maine. Thanks for a great RV experience, Connecticut, hope to do it again sometime.