Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Let's Do the Time Warp Again! Part 2

When we awoke in the morning for our first day at Fort Frederick the sun was shining but the temperature was chilled. Getting dressed in the Roadtrek is easy, though the two of you do need to move to opposite ends of the floor and give each other a little room to maneuver. It is not much different getting dressed for the 18th Century but it does take some more room and a lot more staying out of each other's way - plus being able to help each other tie things that are behind you and out of reach. There are long full leg length hose to be put on - requiring a full leg stretch out - for a man this is not an everyday thing. The lady's petticoat (what would be called a skirt today) gets one to be a lot wider in the aisle with the yards of fabric in it. Because of the chilly temperature outside that was not supposed to increase much during the day, a few extra layers went on. On a regular day in the 21st Century getting dressed can take ten minutes. Dressing for the 18th Century can take a half hour - and then we have to go outside and smile at all of the gawking campers in the sites around us, and unhook to be able to leave. Then it is back in the Roadtrek and a rundown of the checklist to make sure all is secured, nothing has been left connected outside, and we are good to go. It was well over 45 minutes all together that we were on our way back to the past. Now the Roadtrek was out time machine!

The route to Fort Frederick from the campground is direct and almost all on an interstate. I programmed the Tom Tom to get us there the most direct way - as the Tom Tom's own routing was taking us through towns and mountain side roads that it decided was faster.

Fort Frederick is a Maryland historic park. During the regular season (this event takes place before the park is fully open for the season) the park has camping facilities for tents and RVs but no hook ups. With this event it is much easier to camp outside the park as most of their property is taken up by those participating at the fair including 18th Century tent camping. Most of the sutlers - those selling their wares - are sleeping in the marquee tent in the back of their selling space. Some have wood stoves inside to keep them warm - as it generally is cold at night during this event. One does not have to be a reenactor to attend this event. Anyone from the public can come. And one does not need to dress in 18th Century clothing - though it is much more fun for those that do. Reenactors are always looking for a place to "play" and an event like this is one great playground.

For this event you park on a large grass field that is quite hilly. The field slopes up and down across it. I have some concern when parking here with the Roadtrek because of the inclines and declines on the grass, unexpected holes, and if it has been raining the entire field turns to a muddy mess with a good chance that the heavy Roadtrek will sink into the mud. (Something I don't even want to think about.) We pulled through the field gate and were directed by boy scouts to a parking space down toward the end of the lot. When we got to the space they directed us to pull into we explained that we had to take up both spaces front and back because of the length of the van - no problem the kid said and he went on to park other vehicles next to us. The people getting out of their cars are mixed in dress - some dressed for the 18th Century, some mixed couples where one is and one isn't, and some dressed in everyday 21st Century clothing. As we were closing up inside the Roadtrek and coming out, there was a family getting out of their car next to us dressed in 21st Century clothes. He looked at me in my tricorn hat, coat, and breeches and said, "Your not what I expected to see coming out of that van!" I just smiled. I thought, "Don't you know that the Roadtrek is also a time machine?" I didn't say it; he would not have gotten it. Off we went to the gate to pay our $5 each admission to a day at an 18th Century Market Fair.

This was Friday. The event starts on Thursday and continues through Sunday. The big crowds come in
on Saturday. The market extends throughout the property and around the fort which you can tour and there is a regiment of French and Indian War British and Colonial Regulars within the fort. For a reenactor of the 18th Century, spending time looking through each sutler's tent, shopping, visiting the fort, watching the entertainment, and having a meal at the food area takes a good two days to do it all. For a casual visitor one day is enough. While we are looking and shopping we are conversing with others of the period - "Good day to you, Sir" (or "Madam") (there is no word "hello" in the 18th Century - it comes in the 19th Century). We look for friends who may also be there. We look for sutlers who we know and catch up. It is a time to spend in a most unusual hobby.

What follows will take up a lot of this article so I will talk a little more about Fort Frederick in Part 3. I will jump now to the end of the day. We stayed at Fort Fred until 5:00 pm when the Fair closes for the day. Back at the Roadtrek, I looked out in front of us at the steep hill down toward the exit path and decided that I was not taking the Roadtrek down that angle concerned with bottoming out. I put the van in reverse and the rear wheels started to spin on the grass on the incline before they grabbed and move us back onto the worn path in the grass that would take us back to the exit road by the way we came in. I was happy that the tires did grab when they did as I could see them digging their way down as they spun. This is one of those places where a four wheel drive Roadtrek would be an advantage - that feature was discontinued a few years back but was always done by a third-party company for Roadtrek - and they will still arrange for you to bring the Roadtrek there yourself if you would like the 4WD or AWD option. It is expensive and not necessary except for the rare occasion. It does not make the Roadtrek into an off-road vehicle.

OK - moving on. We left Fort Fred and headed back to our campground. We arrived at the entrance, pulled through to the section that our site is in, and as we approached our site there was a large trailer in our space. Gone, also was our flag. What?!? I have heard about this happening. I did not think it could happen in a commercial campground where all spaces are accounted for by the campground. We decided that the best thing was go to the office and let them deal with it. There was no sense it confronting the people in the trailer and having a fight. We would let "Ranger Smith" have the fight!

We are still dressed in our colonial clothing. The campground now was getting crowded as people were arriving for the weekend and people were walking around the grounds - mostly on the roads. We made our way in a big circle back to the office, parked, and went inside - in our colonial clothes. "May I help you?", a guy behind the desk asks. "Yes, I am, we arrived yesterday, and there is a trailer in my space." A voice comes out from behind a glass partition on other side of the room. "Oh yes, we can explain that." We moved to where the voice was coming from - and we were both enraged and trying very hard to hold our tempers. The story we got was that when we were moved the afternoon before to a level site we were moved to a site that was reserved. Still holding my temper I said that we were moved to that site by their employee who said he was coming back to the office to put the change into the computer. The response was - oh, we tried to reach you but you were gone. Really, as you read in Part 1, we took a walk for an hour after we were moved to that site and we passed "Ranger Smith" on the road while walking - who did not say anything to us about a problem. There was no response. It now became all matter of fact - well, the space is not yours any longer. You can pick another site out of these five - all of which were in the section in the woods.

"Where is my flag!?!"

"Oh we have that here for you."

"I had markers on the gravel marking where my RV went to be level - where are they!?!" "We have no idea about those - we will have to find out."

I was handed our flag and holder and Meryl was handed a site map with five sites circled. I was waiting for an apology. None came. Then she said that we had a small refund of a few dollars coming because the site we had yesterday that we no longer had today was more money than the site we were being put on. Really? When we made the reservation we were told that the preferred sites were the same as the standard sites - but apparently this only was for Thursday and Friday is considered the weekend. And still no apology. It occurred to me that had this happened someplace like a hotel they would be offering me this night free - lots of luck!

Both of us were fuming.We got back into the Roadrek and headed over to the "woods" where the road was narrow and the boulders and trees lined the edge and the edges of the entrances to the spaces. During the day it was maneuverable, but as I learned last year at this campground, at night in the pitch black it can be a disaster waiting to happen pulling the Roadtrek through.

We made our way to the first site. It was off on an angle with a large rock taking up one full side. I did not even try to pull into it. We went to all five sites. Just as the day before, the sites in this campground are not level - and now not only were they way off front to back but also side to side. we headed around again, and went back into the one that was the least off. I pulled around the space looking for some area that we could be close. I got to one point where it was close side to side and the front was at least lower than the rear and not the other way around. Still furious, I asked Meryl to call the campground that we were going to on Saturday night in Pennsylvania with hope that the site was available tonight. She tried and the office there was closed. This would have to do and when we came back from dinner at night we would have to be extremely cautious getting back to this space.

Now, we are still in our colonial clothes. Meryl headed off down the road to the office to tell them where we are and to find out what happened to our ground level markers. She was gone for a very long time. Cell service was marginal here and I was able to get through to her once, got cut off and she got through to me but could not hear me. Messages did get through. The markers were found by the people in the trailer and they gave them to a passing "ranger" in a golf cart who was on her way to give them to me. At one point they were at the office and Meryl said that they were very nice - and it was not there fault that the campground screwed us over. What made me even madder was that a year ago at this same campground when we arrived to check in there was someone in our space and instead of putting us there - or in an adjacent space moved us to the "woods" where we were now. I have to wonder if a little RV like a Roadtrek gets the same consideration - while paying the same money - as a larger RV. It sometimes does not seem that it does at some campgrounds.

While Meryl was gone, I changed back to my everyday jeans and shirt. She arrived and did the same and we then went outside to check the electric connection for the first time in this space. The electric box was barely connected to the post it sat on. As we opened it to plug the polarity tester to the outlet, it wobbled around. Wonderful! The polarity tested fine and the voltage was within range. We would have to be very careful when we connected the heavy portable Surge Guard to it that night.

The saga of the campground continues and we return to Fort Fred on Saturday. That will continue in Part 3 next week, but before I go I have to tell you what I found when we got home days later. On our answering machine AT HOME, was a message from the Yogi Bear - it was time stamped by our machine on Friday afternoon at about 1:30 pm telling us that they just tried to find us to tell us that someone else had our site reserved and that we should come to the office so that they could move us to another site. Friday afternoon - not Thursday when they claimed to try to find us. And with this message at my home- the answering machine outgoing message that we have at home is clearly not for a cell number - how would I hear it to go to the office - unless I was home!?!

End of Part 2.
Part 3 next week.

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