Once Upon a Time I Had a Blog

Well, it has been almost 6 months to the day that I last blogged! And I have missed it! I am starting fresh on a new blog home today. I have wanted to switch over to a WordPress format for awhile so I figured this was as good a time as any. So switch your bookmarks and feed readers to melsuniverse.wordpress.com or www.melsuniverse.com or subscribe on the sidebar for email notifications.  Here we go:

I have been nostalgic over our RV trip and was reading through some of the old posts. I finally got around to printing some of the photos recently and I know I need to finish up the last 10 days of the trip! As you can imagine, there is a direct correlation between how busy I am and how much I post here… I am finally settling into this crazy real estate market and now I am trying to find some time for my creative outlets. I need a little bit better balance. I am setting some personal goals to remedy that. Including getting this blog back on track. I have not worked on my Project Life all year. It makes me sad so I am doing something about it. I refreshed the look here. I am cleaning the real estate stuff off my craft table and using is as intend, for crafts darn it!

And to update you here is 6 months in a nutshell:

  • Return from Epic Road Trip and try to find some motivation to work.
  • Plug back into work  and play catch up after being gone for a month (did I mention it was hard to get back to work?)
  • Crossed a few more things off my life list
  • Celebrated the Holidays
  • Finished up 2012’s 52New Project (I owe yall a few posts here)
  • Set some crazy 2013 professional goals
  • I have almost figured out the shift in the real estate market from normal to sellers market and having to react to everything in minutes
  • Traveled to: Lake Tahoe, Seattle, New Orleans, Dallas, San Antonio, Gulf Shores
  • Formed our own real estate company and got my broker’s license. We are still with Keller Williams but there is a whole accounting side I am figuring out now.
  • Remodeled my master bath
  • Discover Instagram might be the downfall of my blog and Facebook. So easy, so quick, and so fun. Follow me at instagram.com/melsuniverse and there is a little feed over to the right —>

So… the moral of my story is that I am going to try and get back in here and do some updates on last year. I have lots more RV tripping to discuss. I may even try a new post here and there.  Wish me luck!

RV Road Trip Day 22: Washington DC Area

Day 22: Washington DC Area

Basic Details: 157 Miles from Gettysburg KOA to Pohick Bay Park Campground, VA

to follow our
route and stops in close to real time check out my google map:
2012 RV Road
Trip Map
or my Picasa
More Photos of our RV Adventures

DC is one of my BIG to do travel places… We knew this trip would take us close but also knew that this was not a DC trip. What I mean is that museums, sites, restaurants were not our destinations on this adventure. When you are driving a house on wheels getting in and out of places can be quite a challenge. State parks, drives, scenic vistas were the focus. Yet, I still was thrilled to be heading that way. West Virginia was covered in 2 feet of snow so we headed southeast from Gettysburg to drive through the big city. Just a glance at all the monuments was enough to thrill me and makes me want to go back sooner rather than later. We did stop and visit with Ryan’s aunt Lesa. Her and Bob were nice enough to take us to dinner at one of their local favorites: Hard Times Cafe. And I did manage to get in a manicure. Hey, I am not a roughing it kind of girl. 30 days is a long time. 
Bob and Lesa
Here is a peek at our peek:
Washington Monument, Capitol, Lincoln Memorial, White House
And I am going to share a little secret. Look how great the Lincoln Memorial looks. Like we were up close… nope. Just a little creative cropping. This is the original photo:
And it was taken across the RV with Ryan’s chin in the frame. 🙂 I am excellent at taking moving photos now.  

RV Road Trip Day 21: Gettysburg, PA

Day 21: Gettysburg

Basic Details: 38 Miles from Roundtop Campground Gettysburg to KOA Gettysburg  

to follow our route and stops in close to real time check out my google map: 2012 RV Road Trip Map

So technically we are back home  and I am waay behind catching up on the trip but I do want to continue to update the blog on our adventure. 

After hiding out fron Sandy and then driving 400 miles we were ready to see some sites. When looking at the map we decided Hershey PA or Gettysburg. History won out over chocolate. After seeing Lexington and Concord Gettysburg felt like a huge site. In fact it is. Miles and miles of battlefields. 100s and 100s of markers commemorating lost lives and significant milestones. It is amazing how much more the stories you learn in school come to life when you can stand where events occurred.

While I knew Gettysburg was a bloody battle I didn’t appreciate what that meant. Over 3 days there were over 50,000 casualties. As I recall about 8000 died in battle and the rest were wounded or missing. The thing that struck me is that after the 3 days of fighting the war moved on. The people of Gettysburg were left to care for and bury the remaining soldiers. I can’t even imagine. Every home in Gettysburg was basically turned into a hospital. The devestation must have been overwhelming.

We started the day at the Museum which had more artifacts and information than we could have ever read. We also saw the Cyclorama and watched the movie offered. They were both well worth the time.

confederate and union uniforms

After the museum we were off to see the battlefields. We were advised to get the CD the gift shop sells and do the self guided driving tour. It was good to be able to go at our own pace and spend more time at the sights that we were more interested in.

North Carolina Memorial

Standing atop these hills you could picture the lines of troops and direction the battle took
Governor Warren statue at the top of Little Round Top

There were a number of lookout points you could climb to get a better vantage point. It was cold and windy so I passed on them but Ryan made the trek up. You can see the RV and me standing next to it for a bit of perspective.

Cannons are scattered all over the battlefields. This is a Napoleon Cannon which we learned all about. 

We couldn’t leave without a stop at the Gettysburg National Cemetery. It was a very somber environment with so many buried. And do many buried without names. You can imagine it was difficult to identify many of the bodies. After touring the battlefield and imagining so much devistation it gave me a new perspective on the Gettysburg Address.

Many of the graves are simply numbers.

There is actually a bit of uncertainty of where Lincoln stood when giving the address. There are a number of markers commemorating it but this memorial is supposed to stand on the site where the address was delivered.. The weather was fitting given the somber environment of so much loss.

We did end the day on a lighter note. Since it was Halloween we had dinner at the oldest building in Gettysburg. No ghosts but we did have some delicious soup and cocktails!
Dobbin House

RV Road Trip Days 18-20: Running from Hurricane Sandy

Day 18: Rhode Island
Basic Details: 96 Miles from Fishermans Memorial Park, RI to Brialee Campground, CT

to follow our route and stops in close to real time check out my google map: 2012 RV Road Trip Map
Ryan and I were both excited to spend some time in Rhode Island. Neither of us had been to this state and it looks much like Maine. We wanted some more lobster and to spend some time on the coast. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. The last few days we have been watching Hurricane Sandy and hoping she would turn back into the Atlantic as a couple models predicted.  We were still trying to decided where we would head but didn’t have to decide for a little while. We had another great dinner at a place called Charlie O’s and met some really fun people. One even invited us to park the RV at his home if we needed to. We also had steamers for the first time. We had to be taught to eat them but that was half the fun! Sunday morning we awoke and realized that our  RI coastal adventure wasn’t going to happen and we should probably head inland. Sitting on the coast in an RV with a hurricane approaching doesn’t seem like a very good idea. We needed to be a little bit further inland and we still had the problem that several places were closed for the season. Finally we found a winner: CT.
The park was pretty quiet with just a few people there. We felt like we were on high ground and about 80 miles from the coast so we should be pretty good for the storm. As the power went off, and then gasp, the cable, we contemplated the genius of the RV as a hurricane vehicle. I mean first off, you can drive away from the storm. Hello. Brilliant. We also have a fridge, generator, AC (or heat as it turns out you need for an east coast hurricane), and until a few minutes ago we had cable. We were going to be just fine.
Day 19: Connecticut
No miles…. Weathered the storm at the Brialee Campground
campsite number 2
Sandy is going to  hit today. It is a bit rainy so we will be inside all day. Since we needed something to do we moved campsites (so I guess technically we drove about half a mile). After all, this place is pretty much vacant and there are a number of trees around us. Just in case, we moved to a spot a bit more open. Then we commenced the movie watching and relaxing. I thought I would take this opportunity to show you a little of the inside of our home so you can better appreciate why being inside all day is a little tough.
There is no way I would show photos of how it is now.
These were taking before we rented it. It looks so much nicer without all our stuff everywhere.

View toward the bedroom, see the huge kitchen.

a couple of close ups
Day 20: Chasing Sandy
Basic Details: 409 Miles from Brialee Campground, CT to Roundtop Campground, Gettysburg, PA
After the brunt of the storm hit we decided it was now or never. I mean Connecticut was great but after almost 48 hours in a 200 square foot RV we were ready to be on the move. (Did I mention we didn’t have cable??) We planned an aggressive day of driving from Northern CT to Gettysburg in Southern PA. At about 40 miles an hour 400 miles is big. We made better time sticking to the freeways and interstates but it was a long day. We had a stop in a diner in NY to refuel aka get pie. At the diner counter (which has been featured on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives) we met some lovely people that were without power in their high rise but things went well for them during the storm. On our other side we met someone that was part of the Friends of Gettysburg group so we are well prepared for the next leg of our adventure.

RV Road Trip Day 17: Massachusetts

 Day 17: Massachusetts
Basic Details: 177 Beach Rose Campground, MA to Fishermans Memorial Park, RI

to follow our route and stops in close to real time check out my google map: 2012 RV Road Trip Map
or my Picasa Album: More Photos of our RV Adventures

When we arrived at the Beach Rose Campground in MA we were given a recommendation for a local lobster place. It was 3 miles away. After plugging in the RV unplugging, re securing everything to go a couple miles doesn’t seem worth it. So, we strapped on our helmets (safety first) and headed to Markey’s Lobster Shack.  

It was totally worth it!



What better way to spend the weekend before Halloween than with a trip to Salem, MA? The next morning we were up and on our way. What fantastic people watching Salem was! Costumes from period things to modern witch interpretations. It was a spectacle to behold. We happened on the play, Cry Innocent. It is the story of Bridget Bishop, the first “witch” convicted in the Salem Witch Trails. The play is acted out in the street and then taken into a Salem’s Old Town Hall. The play was interactive. We were able to ask questions and clarification. Turns out Bridget just may have been a smartass and probably a liar. Witch? Not so sure but in those days all it took was someone to call you a witch and some form of physical imperfection and that was enough to stand trial. We voted her to stand trial based on the evidence and what was required under the law.


the Ghostbusters came through the play

After the play we had to take in some of the relevant sites:
the Burying Point. The oldest cemetery in Salem. Established in 1637.

Rebecca Nurse was the first “witch” hanged. This is the memorial to the witch trials.

Witch House
The “Witch House” is the only surviving building in Salem associated with the trials. It was home to one of the judges. With lines down the block we decided to take it in from the outside.

Herbie and Bevo visit Salem
From Salem we decided to take in a little more history by visiting Lexington and Concord. Lexington is the site of the “shot heard round the world.” There wasn’t much of a battle here but it was fascinating to see the site of the skirmish and some of the buildings that still stand.
Lexington Green Battlefield and the Minuteman Statue

Jonathan Harrington’s Home
The story goes that Harrington was injured and crawled home to die in his wife’s arms on this doorstep. The houses around the green are all still privately owned.

fall color in Lexington

a rainbow above the Battlefield Green

Herbie and Bevo visit Lexington

After a drive through Concord’s sites we were on to Rhode Island.


RV Road Trip Day 15 & 16: Acadia National Park and Maine Coastline

Day 15: Acadia National Park, ME
Basic Details: 205 Miles from KOA Augusta to The Moorings Campground, ME
to follow our route and stops in close to real time check out my google map: 2012 RV Road Trip Map
(excuse my formatting again. i don’t know what the problem continues to be but i don’t have the energy to fix it. the photos are a little screwy)

We made it into Maine last night! Success. This was our first KOA- Kampground of America. But something tells me it won’t be our last. They have cable. And more importantly they were one of the only places in Maine that was actually open after Columbus Day. Man, this seasonal thing is starting to become a pain! Anyway, we started our mission to find lobster. And 2 strikes. Bummer. We had a drink at the restuarant recommended for lobster by the campground and then headed out in search on our own. We happened into the Old Goat and a great time was had by all. No lobster but friendly people and a surprising crowd for a Thursday night in Richmond, ME.
After a great nights sleep we were off to Acadia National Park. We debated a little going wondering if the coast line and other sites would kind of be the same as the park and we wouldn’t need to go that far north. Our new friends at Old Goat convinced us to go! And we finally found lobster on the way! Woohoo for Testas in Bar Harbor!

cadillac mountain view

jumping ahead….Herbie and Bevo enjoy sunset at Moorings Campground
crusing through Acadia


back to acadia…
The day was topped off by an amazing sunset from the Moorings campground. The new favorite spot. I mean, they had a fantastic restaurant onsite. What more could we want? Delicious clams, shrimp cakes and wine. One of the best days on the trip, Please excuse the excessive number of photos I will be posting now.

Hope and Mombo explore the beach for the first time

fun at Pappa Js

Day 16: Maine Coastline
Basic Details: 240 Miles from Moorings Campground, ME to Beach Rose Campground, MA

to follow our route and stops in close to real time check out my google map: 2012 RV Road Trip Map

Winding roads, rocky beaches, light houses and blue skies.


RV Road Trip Day 14: Vermont and New Hampshire

Day 14: Ben & Jerry’s VT & NH
Basic Details: 280 Miles from Shelburne Camping Area, VT to KOA in Augusta, ME
to follow our route and stops in close to real time check out my google map: http://goo.gl/maps/J60J6
Herbie and Bevo visit Ben & Jerry’s
After Niagara Falls, our next goal was Maine. We are on a mission for lobster. Good thing we have to go through Vermont and New Hampshire. 2 news states for us both! The highlight of Vermont was Ben & Jerry’s. I don’t know how I have missed so many of their flavors but I have. The tour was fun as you’d expect and their grounds were beautiful.

the ingredients
The flavor graveyard might have been my favorite part of the tour.

VT Foliage driveby style

Our New Hampshire visit was brief. It consisted of lunch and driving.
 Herbie and Bevo visit NH
and see what I mean about the blue skies? all the difference!
And I became obsessed with getting a picture of a cow in a field. Not just any cow, a black and white one. I think it is those Ben & Jerry’s marketing people making me want to see their cows. At last!
not bad for a drive by photo. i am actually getting quite good at them.

RV Road Trip Day 13: Adirondacks, NY

Day 13: Adirondacks, NY
Basic Details: 287 Miles from K&G Campground, NY to Shelburne Camping Area, VT
to follow our route and stops in close to real time check out my google map: http://goo.gl/maps/J60J6
Today was about getting through New York and into Vermont. Driving. And it was beautiful driving past lakes and cliffs and boulders and mountains. It was not about taking pictures but you know me, I did take a few from our like side lunch stop. What we have discovered too is that we like the sun. Shocking I know. When it is an overcast day the scenery isn’t a bright and since we have just missed the leaves it feels a bit dreary even though the surroundings are just as beautiful as the day with clear skies. On to another new state: Vermont!


RV Road Trip Day 12: Old Fort Niagara

Day 12: Old Fort Niagara
Basic Details: 203 Miles from Fourmile Creek Campgound, NY to  K & G Lodge, NY
to follow our route and stops in close to real time check out my google map: http://goo.gl/maps/J60J6
Fourmile Creek Campground viewing Lake Ontario
Our campground last night was the new clear favorite. Right on the edge of Lake Ontario. We had an ocean view until the twinkling lights of Toronto lit up the other shore. Magnificent!
And your daytime shot:
Our next stop was Old Fort Niagara. This was going to just be a quick detour on our way west out and out of New York. It turned out to be our whole morning. The fort dates back to the 1600s and has French, British and American history. At one point it was consider the key to the continent but was obsolete in the early 1800s. In the 1920s the area people decided to restore it and open it to the public. We are so glad they did. It was a gorgeous day and we really enjoyed touring around. I took tons of photos and if you would like to see more click the link above to go to my Picasa Album. If only Blogger would let me format pictures… sigh. You will have to enjoy the tiny ones below for now.
the old French Castle at Fort Niagara

Herbie and Bevo visit old Fort Niagara

check out the soldier standing guard

roadside break
And finally we were off for the day. Our next stop was Rochester. We have largely been avoiding bigger cities. The 23′ bus with 5′ of bikes on the back isn’t too friendly for big city driving. Alas, work called and we need to sit down with a computer and spend a couple hours catching up. I don’t know if it is just fortuitous or something else but everytime we stopped something great has happened. In Rochester it was a meal. Some of the best clams I have had. I even felt compelled to write a Yelp review! And oh yeah, the views weren’t too bad. I love a town with a waterfall right in the middle of it.

 And now the real adventure begins! So far this trip has been quite unplanned. A few hours in advance we pick the next destination with the help of  a National Geographic Scenic Drive book and the good old internet. Scenic Byways has been my go to site. Normally at lunch time we pick a final destination for the day and try and find a campground. It was worked  great. We love staying in state parks and made a rule that if people lived in the park full time it wasn’t a place we were going to stay. After the half naked man checked us in the campground in Indiana… we wanted to stick with parks. Today that all changed. Turns out most state parks closed last night. For the season? What the? Season? We don’t know about seasons! We are from Texas! So tonight, it is getting dark and we can’t find a place to stay. Guess what we do? Pull into a Walmart. Gasp! We don’t even know what to do. Do we really just park there and stay overnight???? I made a last ditch effort and finally found a place to stay. Hallelujah! K&G Campground in Oswego, NY. A glorious place. At least compared to Walmart. They even had a restaurant onsite. We had a few drinks with some gentlemen staying there while working nearby. Once again, great people and a fun night after the worrisome Walmart possibility!


RV Road Trip Day 11: Niagara Falls

Day 11: Niagara Falls, Canada
Basic Details: 134 Miles from Allegany State Park, NY to Fourmile Creek Campground
to follow our route and stops in close to real time check out my google map: http://goo.gl/maps/J60J6
or my Picasa Album: https://picasaweb.google.com/101852857241814833590/2012RVTrip?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCN29le_Mk7TZIw&feat=directlink

When you are trapped at a campground in Connecticut waiting out Hurricane Sandy you are able to catch up on blog posts! 
Day 11 started in Allegany State Park just barely in NY. Last night we made some friends at a restaurant called Myer’s Inn. It has been in operation for years and our dinner choices where here or a casino. Whenever possible we choose a local place and Myers fit the bill. Everywhere we have been we have encountered great people. People that are friendly and eager to tell us about their town and what makes it great. Howard was this guy last night. Howard has lived all over the world and retired back to his home town of Salamanca, NY. He bought us beers and gave us tips on what to do as we headed down the east coast. We had a great time with him and a few gentlemen from Canada. One even had a deer behind as a hat.

And then it was on to Buffalo. How could we not eat wings at the home of the chicken wing: Anchor Bar. The wings did not disappoint. They were crispy and had a traditional wing sauce. Delicious. As was the chicken parm!
Buffalo Wings at the original: Anchor Bar
And finally. Niagara. We made it across the border into Canada and had to park waaay far away and walked but the views were worth it. Blue skies and temperatures in the 60s highlighted our walk and views of the falls.

almost there….
The amount of water and force that goes over the falls is amazing.  It was really breath taking and quite gorgeous.
Rainbows everywhere!
Maid of the Mist at Niagara Falls
Herbie and Bevo visit Canada and Niagara Falls
Now, the fun story. Getting back into America. The lines through customs/border control where much longer getting back into the USA. After about an hour in  line we finally got to the toll plaza and were asked to pull aside for an inspection. Hmm. When we went into Canada they asked us about 65 million times if we had a gun but didn’t care much about anything else. Back to the US. We dismantled a cone on our way through the gate and I think that set them off a bit. They actually boarded the RV and looked around. Turns out we were carrying contraband….. firewood. Yep, a couple of logs. Since we bought the logs in NY and were carrying them back into NY we were ok but if it had been Canadian wood… Oh trouble. Beyond bizarre. Apparently there are some scary bugs, borers, beetles, etc out there. Ok to bring it in and out of Canada though.
All and all a great day. And it was capped off by this view: