July 2008
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Having 250 sites spread out on about 50 acres of rare flat land in the Susquehanna Valley, J & D Campground near Catawissa, Pennsylvania was our home for the month of July.  We had arrived here on June 30 and were assigned a site in the newest section of the campground-used mostly by weekenders.  We were grateful that the owners of the park were able to find us a site when we had called in mid-June after our daughter, Ann, had sold her house in Illinois and the moving date was scheduled far earlier than any of us had expected.  It is usually next to impossible to find a site in most campgrounds on a mid-summer weekend, especially a holiday.  We were quite pleased with our site and the campground itself.  There are quite a few "seasonal" sites but they are mostly in an area towards the back of the campground and are also very well kept and clean.  After ten days, we were asked to move to another site, where we have remained for the rest of our stay.  The new site is actually much nearer to the pool, miniature golf, office and the entrance and exit.  The entire park is laid out with fairly large sites, beautiful shade trees (not good for satellite TV, but we had great cable service) and huge open areas to the rear of the sites where fire pits are located and there is space for games, activities and gatherings.  The park also has several large pavilions used most weekends by rally or family groups.  Ann and her family joined us often for picnics, swims and meals and the girls enjoyed the playgrounds and the opportunity to spend the night with us.
 
 

Our site at the J&D Campground near Catawissa, PA.  We had to have the trees trimmed to get into our site.
On the 4th of July we attended the band concert at the city park in Bloomsburg...it was an old-fashioned celebration.......
complete with a fantastic fireworks show along the river.
Close, Merrick and Coffey enjoy playing with their Dad in the pool.

The campground is about four miles from Ann and Matt's new home in Elysburg...making it easy for us to make numerous and easy trips back and forth.  The list of "things to do" was somewhat lengthy when we arrived, so we picked out the ones we felt  we could tackle and went to work.  Over the course of the month Tom seemed to do more physical work than Mary did, but many days we both returned to the Dutch Star exhausted.  Among our major projects were digging out a hillside at the bottom of the deck stairs and building some terraces; painting the block foundation; cleaning, stripping and staining and sealing the deck; installing landscape timbers along the bottom of the new fence around the (big) back yard; making new valances for the bedrooms; making covers for chair cushions; putting together newly purchased furniture; unpacking boxes; moving furniture for the carpet installers; installing pegboard in the workshop and organizing the tools; replacing all the cabinet hardware in the kitchen and bathrooms; cooking, cleaning and laundry....etc.     Are you tired yet??   We quickly lost count of the trips to Bloomsburg to Home Depot, Lowe's and Wal*Mart.  After a couple weeks of almost daily trips to the more local hardware store, Knoebel's, (the kind of place where you can ask questions and get lots of help and buy just the pieces and parts you need) Tom was asked if he was a contractor as he seemed to have so many different projects going. :-)
 
 

Tom and Matt cut railroad ties to terrace a hill from the deck steps down to the basement door.  Ann filled them in with gravel and stepping stones.
A new fence was installed around the back yard and it took less than a day for one of the dogs to escape by pushing out under the bottom.  So we put timbers along the bottom edge.
Mary had made comforters for the girls' beds several years ago when they all shared a room.  They now each have their own room and needed new valances to match.  They each picked a color from the print and painted their walls different colors.

In between all the projects we all did take time for some fun.  Tom has played three different golf courses.  Mary and Matt have played with him on several occasions as well.  The guys have also been to the driving range several times.  All seven of us piled into the van and drove to Philadelphia one day.  We toured the US Mint and the Federal Reserve Bank and made our way through the crowds in Independence Mall.  On the way home we made a several hour stop at IKEA where we loaded up on "goodies" for Matt and Ann's house as well as for the RV.  Tuesdays became the day for the "girls' day out."   The mall in Bloomsburg has a children's program each week and the Farmer's Market offers beautiful fresh produce in the downtown square...next to the library where our three granddaughters load up on books to devour.  They usually had a long list of errands to run as well, and places to check out such as swimming pools and dance studios that might work into future activities.  We made trips to other neighboring towns to check out shopping opportunities (or lack of them!)        Close Ann helped the family learn about local medical care after she fell off her bike one evening and required some x-rays at the huge Geisinger Medical Center in Danville to determine if she had broken some bones in her hand. (She hadn't!)  For weeks we've been able to see some giant antenna dishes on a distant mountaintop as we drove into Bloomsburg.  We joked that somebody must be trying to call Mars or getting TV reception from the moon.  One day on their "tour" of country roads in search of a swimming pool, Mary and the girls came across "Earth Station Road."  So, off they went down the road - and after winding around and around and up and down the mountains of the area, they came face to face with the antennas.  Sure enough, the sign on the fence, besides telling us to stay away, said the antennas were property of AT&T.  I guess they could be trying to call Mars!
 
 

We weren't allowed to take photos inside the Mint or the Federal Reserve...but they really did give us free samples!  We each got a bag of shredded currency once worth about $100.
Calling all aliens!!!   These antennas are really huge and can be seen from miles away.  The black spot to the lower right of the building is two cars.
Knoebel's Three Ponds Golf Course is halfway between the campground and Ann's house...very convenient!  The course goes up and down the mountain ridges and has magnificent views in every direction.  And it must be gorgeous in the spring as it has tons of azalea, lilacs and rhododendrons.

This part of the country is certainly beautiful.  The road from the campground to Ann's house, as are many others,  is carved out of the forest through the mountainous area.  Everything is a lush green.  We've found ourselves going around in circles on occasion as we tried to find our way around.  We don't think any road around here goes straight in any one direction.  There are 8% grades all over the place.  As we drive the winding and hilly roads suddenly we'll come upon a bit of wide open space, sometimes almost flat...and crops are growing or a golf course appears.  Homes and stores are mostly built on or into the hills and many towns in the area are filled with old-fashioned "row houses."  Buildings are close to the streets and roads and have little in the way of yards or green space as it is so difficult to build and grow in the rocky soil.  There are anthracite coal mines nearby and gravel in this part of the country is always black.  Ann and Matt's home is built on one of the open areas at the top of a ridge.  They do have a small wooded area at the back of their property and the view to the sides is all rolling and mostly green.  The weather has been pretty dry...great for outside activities, but Matt has used his new lawn tractor only a couple of times.
 
 

We ended many a hot work day with a picnic dinner and a dip in the campground pool.
All the sites at J&D have a shaded "rear yard" where you can gather around the firepits or set up games...and ours backed up to a several acre open space.

It will be hard to move on after having spent so much time with the granddaughters.  We'll miss them greatly!  But we plan to head west again in just a few days.