Tri-State Camping

There was low lying fog covering the campground this morning when I went out to walk the dogs. Crisp and clean with a sheen of dew coating the grass. We ate a leisurely breakfast, maybe a little too leisurely as we soon realized we would be racing the clock in order to make it to New Bedford, NY by our 1:00 appointment time. We were to meet a tour guide at Stepping Stones, the house where Bill Wilson, the founder of AA, lived out his later years with his wife Lois. The old residence is in an upscale little wooded neighborhood where the fussy neighbors complain about visitors coming and going so they have a strict set of rules, one of which is no RVs are allowed. We have to park Wilson in a shopping center in town and catch a ride from there. I set the GPS for the Kohl’s department store in Bedford and we hit the highway.

Before long, Google maps guided us onto a magnificent little parkway rolling through colorful fall foliage in back country Connecticut. The Merritt Parkway is designated as a national scenic byway, but nobody told us that vehicles over 8 feet tall and weighing more than 8,000 pounds are prohibited on the road. We learned this while stopped at a travel center (read gas station in the middle of the highway) where a yellow vested attendant came out and explained the rules. Crap we were closing within 15 miles of our turn off and I had no clue where else to go so we bucked up and embarked on a criminal path. The parkway is known for its quaint architectural bridges that we thought were cute before but now came to realize that they were dangerously close to our 11’ 1” clearance. Some of the arched ones we had to swerve into the center lane when we saw the heights listed. The lowest we saw was right our 11’ 1”. Yikes, we haven’t even broken the RV in and we’re threatening to sacrifice the air conditioner to the highway.

Soon enough, we reached our turn off and wound our way down narrow country lanes until we emerged in the small town of Bedford and parked ourselves up at the Kohl’s. Dialed up an Uber and Gary was there in less than 7 minutes. We arrived about ten minutes late and the volunteer leading the tour was already well into his spiel with the 3 people already present. Another volunteer pulled us aside and gave us more rules to follow. Three other visitors showed up after us so I didn’t feel so bad about being a little tardy.

A nice gentleman led us into the house where things were left intact just as they were when Bill and Lois were living there. The furniture they had brought with them from Brooklyn, books, chotchkes and tons of old photographs. There were only a few places where photos were allowed inside. The first was at the table where Ebby had brought the message of the Oxford group to Bill at the old house on Clinton Street. PJ and I sat there for a moment and contemplated what effect that meeting has had on countless lives including ours. The nine of us walked through the house as the host gave us facts and background on the history of AA.

Back outside, we took some pictures of the house and the grounds then walked up the hill to Bill’s little hut which he called Wit’s End. Kind of the original man cave. In this office area, we sat at the desk, also brought from Brooklyn, that he used back then when writing the book “Alcoholics Anonymous”. Pretty cool stuff.

We visited the gift shop and picked up a couple of souvenirs then milled around outside until our Uber ride home showed up, a kid from El Salvador named Mario. Back at our kitchen table, we had some decisions to make. Going with my original plan to continue another couple of hours to Panther Lake would have involved back tracking on the illegal road going a bit south then west, so we consulted the map and noticed that following a northerly tack would get us on 84 west and we could make some progress going that way. Google came up with Tri-State RV Park at about 120 miles further on down the road, so we set that course and headed off.

It was tedious going, lots of traffic and sun in the eyes but also lots more gorgeous fall colors, lakes and crossing the Hudson River over the Hamilton-Fish Bridge. It was late in the day when we pulled into the campground, a gravel parking lot loaded with mostly fifth wheelers and overnight travelers. I was beat and was bracing myself to suck it up and spend the night. Across from the office was a large grassy area fronting the Delaware River. Linda, the camp host had pity on us and gave us a spot along side an old building right on the river off by ourselves. We parked up and walked the dogs down by the riverbank. Straight across the river is New York, a few hundred meters south is New Jersey and where we stand on our side is Pennsylvania, thus the Tri-State moniker. We cooked some dinner and plotted out the next few days of driving then called it a night.

New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, all in this one small photograph

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