A Higher Plan

Recently, I shared a post on Instagram in which I wrote: “Every once in a while, life throws us a speed bump. The key to successful navigation is to realize that there is still a road ahead on the other side. Press on! (Philippians 3:12-14).” Here is the beginning of the story behind that post.IMG_20180630_092142_090

Sharon and I had a week of vacation set in our calendars for quite some time. That week finally arrived at the end of work on April 27, 2018.

As we pondered what to do with the time, we decided to just head out – no reservations – in whatever direction felt right. We considered heading west toward Michigan, then as the weather continued to be cool up north, we decided to head south instead; perhaps toward the beaches of South Carolina.

Although we are campers, we decided to go the hotel route this time. However, camping is in our blood, so we were going to throw the tent and sleeping bags in the car, just in case the weather and location aligned for a few nights of sleeping on the ground.

As we were near the middle of our last work week before vacation, we received news that Sharon’s mother was heading to the local hospital. Over the next couple of days, it seemed that she had a touch of pneumonia and would be fine. I kept in conversation with Sharon about whether she thought we should stay home. She felt like things were going well enough that we could go. There are other family members that live close enough to stay connected to our loved one.

We were planning on heading out on Saturday morning. But then everything changed. The phone rang around midnight Friday night with the news that they were going to transport my mother-in-law to Pittsburgh by ambulance. She had a collapsed upper left lung. We knew then that we wouldn’t be heading south in the morning.

When we got up and around on Saturday, I called Bear Run Campground near Portersville, PA to see if they had a full-hook camp site available. It was still early enough in the season that finding what we wanted was no problem.

The reason for the campsite was that we are a 90-minute drive from the hospital at home, but only 35 minutes from the hospital at Bear Run Campground. Not knowing what was ahead, I booked the campsite for three nights; Saturday, Sunday and Monday with a Tuesday departure.

The next few days were spent at the hospital with nights at the campground. As Tuesday approached, it became evident that our stay needed to be extended, so I paid for two more nights.

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On my in-laws 63rd wedding anniversary, my father-in-law came to visit. As the day progressed, he ended up admitted to the same hospital and the next day, was put in the same room as my mother-in-law. The hospital staff told us that they were the talk of the hospital for having spent their anniversary together there.

There were a lot of family members visiting each day, so I took one day to stay back to camp while Sharon took her sister along to the hospital. On that day, I went for a hike at McConnel’s Mill State Park, which is not far from the campground. I stopped at the Pilot station close-by to fill the truck with gas and have lunch at the Subway inside. Back at camp, I took some time just to sit in my chair, under the canopy with my feet up. It was finally barefoot weather in western Pennsylvania!

The owners and staff at Bear Run Campground were very gracious and understanding to us during the week. When our new departure date came, we found the need to continue our stay. I was going to reserve for the three more nights that would take us through to a Sunday departure, but found that our site was booked for the weekend. Thankfully, the campground had other sites available and I reserved the three nights at a different site. But then the blessing happened. When we arrived back from the hospital our last night before having to pack up and move to another site, the campground staff told us they had called the folks who had our site reserved. They explained the situation to them and asked if they would be willing to take a different site so we could stay put. They agreed and we were thankful.

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Binx, the Camping Cat, came along

No one wants to experience a week of vacation spending every day in the hospital. But, we are family and that’s what family does. Sharon apologized to me at one point during the week, saying she was sorry that our vacation turned out like this. But I told her that this was important. We had talked many times through the last few years about what it might take to give our parents the best experience possible as they entered this phase of their life. I told her that as time moves forward, we will never look back and regret that we took this week to be with them.

God was working through the whole week. It was easy to see. First-off, consider that we didn’t have any reservations made for this vacation. We had planned to just head south and go as far, and in whatever direction felt right at the time. So, we didn’t have any backtracking to do to cancel arrangements, possibly losing deposits.

Consider that our week of vacation was this particular week. We could have chosen a week before or after, but no; we chose this week. God knew where the need was and directed our timing.

Consider the kindness of the campground to work with us as the week went on. They made our stay a stress-free part of the week; especially when they arranged for us to not have to move to a different campsite. God knew where to put us for this kindness to happen. We certainly felt genuine concern from the camp staff as they asked us daily how things were going.

Consider the fact that Sharon’s sister from Virginia needed a place to stay when she came to visit that week and we just happened to have room for a guest in our camper. God was at work for her as well.

There is far more to the story than I could ever tell here. But there were two things that stood out to me that week: 1). Family is so important and; 2). When going through tough times, God is very near. We just need to call on His name and trust His plan.

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” – John 15:12

©2018 thetravelingkites.com

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Wintering

Winter in western Pennsylvania can bring some drastic changes in a very short time. Yesterday was one of those days. I picked up my mother for lunch at Amazing Foods Catering Co. & Cafe in Franklin. In the 24 hours previous to our lunch, we saw rain and temperatures nearing 60 degrees. I loved it! But, as we were warned by the weather folks, a big ch20180113_083647ange came. It happened over lunch. When we entered the restaurant, it was 52 degrees outside. When we came out afterwards it was 42. But, it was even worse than that! We dropped 20 degrees within two hours and the downward trend continued as the rain turned to sleet, then snow. When we woke up this morning, there was about nine inches of drifting snow on the ground. I spent an hour-and-a-half shoveling.IMG_20180113_100818_303

If you’ve read our introductory blog post, you know that we are working toward retiring with a Class B or C RV to travel to warm weather during the winter months. We have been following several families on YouTube that have done just that. They bring us inspiration and help us narrow our focus of what we think we would like for the journey.

Although we have not yet entered the fray as YouTube content creators, we have started this travel blog and post my photography to our Instagram page (@thetravelingkites). Things were rolling along quite nicely during the summer camping season, but then winter hit. As I write, there are 55 miles separating us from our Keystone Hideout travel trailer. It is in the mine at Bradys Bend. I wrote about storage day here.

As winter gets long, one thing that we have done the past two years to break up the frozen season is to attend the Pittsburgh and Erie RV shows. The Pittsburgh show is always in January and the Erie show is in February. It was recommended to us by some friends that we try the Ohio RV Supershow this year. Held in Cleveland, this show is proclaimed to be the country’s largest indoor RV show. We had originally planned on going to Pittsburgh today, but the Cleveland show was also this weekend, so we decided to go to Cleveland instead. Then… the big snowstorm! We thought we would rather not show up on one of those YouTube interstate pileup videos, so we called today’s trip off. Pittsburgh is about a one-and-a-half-hour drive and Cleveland two-hours-twenty-minutes. Who knows how long it would take today? So, now we wait a month for the smaller Erie show.IMG_20171201_195642_809

So, at this almost-mid-way point through the winter, I thought it appropriate to check in to let you know we’re still here and looking forward to spring. Binx, the camping cat, is as anxious as we are to get back out there. As for now, I’ll just happily sip my coffee.20180113_110139

A couple of weeks ago, we made reservations for Memorial and Labor Day weekends. It feels good to have a couple of trips scheduled. The planning continues as we consider our vacation travels for this summer. So, stay tuned! The 2018 camping season will kick off in a few months. In the mean-time, stay warm and healthy. We’ll see you after the Erie RV show!

©2018 thetravelingkites.com

Weekend at Virginia’s Beach, PA

First off, that’s Virginia’s Beach, not Virginia Beach. Virginia’s Beach Campground is on Lake Erie, not the Atlantic Ocean. Our weekend spot was at North Springfield, PA; west of Erie and east of the Ohio state line. Now that we’ve established that…

On Friday evening, September 29, we set out for our next adventure; a Friday through Sunday getaway. The drive took about one hour, twenty minutes (due to the 7,500 pound land yacht that was tailing us) and we were able to watch the sunset during our set-up. It was quite beautiful.VB4

There was a significant amount of wind coming off the lake, so we did not extend our awning. The wind, combined with the cool temperatures, made it feel rather cold.

Sharon made us a delicious spaghetti squash dinner, then we put together a puzzle. I’m not much of a puzzler, but I really enjoyed it this time. I think it was because we were together, away from the busyness of the work week we had just left behind. We had a nice evening and went to bed around 9:30.

On Saturday morning, we had a delicious breakfast of waffles, topped with apple and cranberry pie filling, along with some of Sharon’s warm pumpkin drink. We were discussing what it should be called. I noted that we shouldn’t call it a pumpkin latte, because that would mislead someone like me into thinking it had coffee in it. I also didn’t think we should call it a pumpkin steamer, because that would suggest the inclusion of steamed milk. She said that she has a recipe at home and will look up the actual name of the drink.

After breakfast and showers, we took a nice walk around and outside the campground. There is a neighboring camp called Camp Judson that had a really cool-looking silo with a cross on top. We talked to a man from the camp that just happened to be walking by. He said they call it the tower. If you walk up the bank on either side, there is a doorway around back, half-way up that enters into a prayer room with an altar and Bible.VB3

We took a ride over to Fairview to visit a little cafe that I’ve been noticing when I work in the area: Main Street Cakery Cafe. It was getting on toward lunchtime, so we indulged in some treats. I had a caramel latte and blueberry scone. Sharon had a green tea and blackberry scone. By then, it had warmed up enough that we sat at their outdoor tables.

We noticed that there was an antique store a couple of doors down, so we went to check it out. Main Street Antiques is in an old house and has two floors of treasures from the past. We didn’t see anything we just had to buy (practicing our future minimalism skills), but really enjoyed the reminiscing.

Back at Virginia’s Beach, Binx, the camping cat, was enjoying the sun coming in the window of our slide-out dinette. We had stacked some pillows on the seat to allow him a comfortable place to lay and gaze out.VB6

We took another walk in the late afternoon, which included a trek down a long, straight ever-narrowing road in the woods. Then we walked along the lakefront where we found some nice, flat rocks and I found some more photos just waiting to be captured.

A motorhome from Michigan pulled in beside us on Saturday afternoon. It was towing an old Citroen car on a dolly behind. The car had the shape of a VW Beetle and Sharon mistook it for a “bug.” It was in very good shape. The owners had a cat and dog with them. Binx and the neighbor cat sat in opposing windows, watching each other.

Sharon got out another puzzle Saturday evening, but I just wasn’t into it for a second night in a row. I half-heartedly helped, while processing photos and uploading them to Instagram (@thetravelingkites, should you wish to follow us there). Each photo upload was an event because there was not much of a cell signal. I had to push the button, then set my phone against the window for a minute while the bits flew off through the air.

We enjoy going to church on Sunday morning when we are camping. It’s always interesting, visiting a new church. This time, we did not get out and there were no services offered at the campground. But we did enjoy a morning walk around camp and down the woods trail. We really felt God’s presence in the beauty of His creation.

The Michigan motorhome pulled out in the morning. They must have just used this as a stop for the night while passing through either to or from a car event.

While breaking down our camp, we spent some time talking to our neighbors on the other side who also had a Class A motorhome. They were from the Pittsburgh area and seemed nice. They were going to go to the Erie KOA on their next outing.

Our drive home was good. The sun was shining and Binx was happy. We arrived home around 1:30 after having another great weekend.DSC_0187

We have an appointment for October 21 to take the Hideout to Bradys Bend for winter storage, so this may have been our last camping trip of the 2017 season. We shall see.

©2017 thetravelingkites.com

Weekend at Bear Run

Last month, as we booked our mid-September weekend at Bear Run Campground in western Pennsylvania, we had no way of knowing what the weather would be like five weeks later. It can be a bit unpredictable this time of year. As it turned out, we chose the perfect weekend! The weather was stunningly beautiful; sunny days, cool evenings… perfect. It was a windows-open, fresh air-flowing kind of weekend.IMG_20170917_115839569

We set out after work on Friday, camper in tow, Binx the camping cat in the center front seat, toward our destination near Portersville, PA. We had stayed at Bear Run on Memorial weekend 2016 and really liked what they had to offer. This campground is clean with paved RVsites. The campground is nicely appointed with a beautiful camp store, western town feel and family-friendly atmosphere. The stay was all-the-sweeter as we enjoyed the luxury of paying with a gift certificate that our son’s family gave us for Christmas.

You may remember the challenges of the drive to the campground on our last trip two weeks earlier when Binx made things… let’s just say… interesting. This time out, we placed him inside his screen-sided carrier atop a towel on the front seat between us. He seemed to enjoy the security of his carrier as we drove. He is getting used to camping now. This was his third camping trip and he didn’t even cry when Sharon carried him from the house to the truck.

Our son and his daughter met us shortly after we arrived. We set up camp, then spent some evening time making pizza mountain pies and roasting marshmallows. It was a really nice evening together.IMG_20170918_173828_648

On Saturday, Sharon and I took a morning walk around the campground. This is a large campground that is spread out pretty well. There are seasonal RV sites up over the hill, then a path down past a horse pasture to a road lined with electric and water sites on one side and cabins on the other. Another fork leads down a narrow road that winds through the woods in a large tenting section, including some walk-in-only sites. There are quite a number of cabins available for rent throughout the entire campground. This truly is a beautiful place.

Sharon made a special lunch of zucchini that was spiral cut with alfredo sauce. It was delicious. We took some afternoon time just to sit outside and enjoy the fresh air. We did some reading and some talking and took an afternoon off. It felt great to not have anything to do.

We had an ice cream cone for pre-dinner (you can make up meals when camping… it’s OK) from the camp store, then took a one-mile round-trip walk to Lake Arthur. I was able to capture some nice photographs along the scenic dirt road.

We got back, just in time to hop on a wagon behind a tractor for a wagon ride to the lake, along the same road we had just walked. The man who introduced the ride and explained the safety precautions was quite humorous and everyone enjoyed the ride.IMG_20170916_175039_891

We arrived back at the campground just in time for the evening activities; a mountain pie contest and bluegrass music concert. We only visited there for a few minutes before returning to our campsite for a campfire.

On Sunday morning, our son’s whole family came over for a visit. We had another campfire and enjoyed watching our granddaughter sifting for gemstones across from the store.IMG_20170917_115719154_edit_1505681773952

We are in need of replacing our washing machine at home, so we took advantage of the campground’s coin-operated laundry to clean our clothes before departing.

We packed things up after lunch and headed for home. This was another great time to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation.

The weekend was topped off at home by our getting together with friends at a local ice cream shop. It doesn’t get much better than that.

©2017 thetravelingkites.com

Labor Day Weekend in Waterford, PA

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Our decision to camp this weekend was on relatively short notice; certainly not within the advanced reservation timeline that I am accustomed to. However, we were able to land a full-hook site at Sparrow Pond Family Campground near Waterford, PA for the long weekend. Because of our late decision, we were not able to get a site under trees with some nice shade. The weather this weekend was cool with a good amount of light rain, so baking in the hot sun was definitely not a concern. We didn’t turn on the air conditioner at all, but we did run some heat a few times.

 

Binx, the camping cat, went along for his second trip with us. The hour-long ride to the campground was quite an adventure with him. About 20 minutes up the road, he got sick and threw up on the truck’s front seat between us. Thankfully, I had the forethought of placing a towel on the seat for him to sit on.

After rolling up the towel, we continued on, stopping for ice cream about half-way there. Shortly after leaving Dave’s Place, Binx got down on the floor under my feet. I thought he was just wanting a change of scenery, but he had other things on his mind. He did both #1 and #2 on the floor. The #1 got on my left foot and flip flop. We had quite a stink in the truck for a while until we found a place to pull over. Sharon got some bags from the camper and bagged it up. That took care of the smell, but not my wet foot! Thankfully again, the mess was all on the floor mat, which we were able to remove from the truck.

We adapted to the cooler weather conditions and had an enjoyable weekend of shopping, walking, cooking over the fire and inside the camper, playing cards and enjoying church at Sparrow Fellowship, which meets at the campground. It all makes me wonder if there could ever be such a thing as a bad weekend of camping. Binx seemed to enjoy himself too, as he followed us around the camper (he stays inside).

The ride home was great! Binx was relaxed and had no… ahem… incidents.

So, that’s it for this trip. Next time out, we head to Bear Run Campground near Portersville, PA.

See more photos on Instagram.

©2017 thetravelingkites.com

Meet The Traveling Kites

Hello world! We are Randy & Sharon; decades-long married couple and long-time campers and travelers. Our adventures have taken us from camping trips around our home region (oftentimes with our family) to journeys across this great country and around the world. We have slept in tents at the world’s largest Christian music festival (Creation Festival) and have slept on the cement floor of a horse stable in Tijuana, Mexico as we spent a week on mission, building houses for the poor. We’ve walked the streets of Athens, Greece and stood at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

More recently, we have enjoyed local camping in the comforts of a 2012 Keystone Hideout camping trailer (model 25RKS) that we bought used from a lovely elderly couple in 2015.IMG_20170901_172721019-01

Although we are not yet retirement age, we are starting to dream about what retirement should look like for us. We do not intend to stay at home, but rather look to expand our American travels to hike, photograph and write about our great country.

We have considered all modes of camping transportation, from a small pull-behind teardrop camper to a large, tour bus-sized Class A motorhome and have settled our hearts (at least as of this writing) on a Class B camper van. We would love the freedom of not having to hook and unhook a camper or “toad” (towed-behind vehicle on a Class A or C). We are definitely past the desire to tent or crank a roof up and down. Believe me, we’ve paid our dues on that!IMG_20170829_123927803-01

Our plans and timing for a camper van purchase are as foggy as a fall western PA morning right now, but we have been spending a lot of time virtually walking through many, thanks to the efforts of those who produce YouTube videos, and have even had the opportunity to set foot in a small number of Winnebago Era, Travato and Paseo vans at a semi-local dealership.

Our dream is to live in our home region during the warm months, then set out to travel the warmer climates when things get cold and snowy in the north. Unlike the snowbirds that travel to Florida from our region for the winter, we seek to have a constantly changing scenery before us.

So, join us as we work our way toward the next chapter of our life. Then, when we get there, perhaps we will see you on the road!

Please follow us here and share your own story. We would love to hear from you and learn from your experience.

Here we go!…

©2017 thetravelingkites.com

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