Well, we're back. After such a long blogging hiatus, our intrepid travelers return, wiser, stronger, more well-rested and better at crawling. Well, one of us, anyhow. That is the big news. Addie is officially ON THE MOVE.
After 6 weeks staying at Nana and Grandpa's house in Illinois, with plenty of floor space to practice, Addie started creeping around on her belly about a week ago, and only 3 days after reuniting with Lucille the RV, she started crawling in earnest. For a while, we would set her down on the floor, put some toys out of her reach, and instead of crawling, she'd just look at us forlornly, as if to say "really? What gives, ma?" So, not being motivated by toys, I took a lesson out of the E.T. playbook. Cheerios set out in a line seemed to do the trick, and with proper motivation (FOOD), she was perfectly content to creep her way across the floor.
The RV environment is a tricky one for a moble baby. On the one hand, there's not a lot of room. Just one long hallway down the center of the RV for crawling, and unfortunately, several downward-leading steps along one side of it. We watch her like a hawk when she's sitting on the floor near the entrance to the coach, because a tumble there could end on the ground, outside! There is fortunately only one electrical outlet at her level, and very few sharp corners, so that does seem to simplify things. She spent the morning exploring, pulling up to standing on perfectly-sized shower ledges and dinette benches. The trouble will be finding a place for her to crawl around that's nice and open. Plenty of grassy areas in our new home, but since it poured rain last night, still a bit too damp for exploring.
Which brings us to our new home: Big Stone Gap, Virginia, and in particular, Jessie Lea RV Park. Back to the Blue Ridge Mountains, and for real this time. Big Stone Gap is a small town nestled in between ridges. It is unbelievably gorgeous almost everywhere you go. It was a gray, drizzly morning when I departed our campsite to the grocery store at 8am. When I emerged, I looked out over Food City's parking lot and was taken aback; the view, even with a foreground of lined concrete, was breathtaking. The tops of tree-covered mountains emerged from the lower elevations shrouded in mist. I felt lucky to be here.
The campground itself is owned by perhaps the nicest gent you'd ever meet. With a meandering stream and biking path running through the park, lots of willow trees and the cleanest bathrooms you've ever seen, Jessie Lea is an RVer's dream. Just like hotels, campgrounds all have their own distinct character. Pikeville was owned by the City of Pikeville, and it felt like it. Concrete slabs made for easy RV leveling, but hot, impersonal afternoons. The bathrooms looked like the ones from junior high locker room, with institutional metal stalls and concrete floor. Jessie Lea is the opposite. At the office, there is a large pavilion with lots of picnic tables, several gas grills for guest use, and rocking chairs. With only 40 or so sites, it feels inhabited, but not crowded, an accidental village. The owner is a sometime wood carver, his wares are for sale in the office, and an old man carved in a tree by the stream surprises you on the way to a footbridge. And did I mention the bathrooms? They feel like Gramma's house. In a good way. Seriously, it seems like a simple thing, but when you spend your days showering and doing your private business in a place that is not your home, you want to feel comfortable. And CLEAN. These bathrooms are spotless.
Jefferson spent the last six weeks in Columbus, Ohio working at Nationwide Children's Hospital, where he worked 5 days and 50-60 hours a week, not including his classtime and homework. Here in Big Stone Gap, he'll be at Lonesome Pine Medical Center, a much smaller, community hospital. He'll be back to 4 days a week, and back with his wife and daughter, he'll no longer have to fend for himself when it comes to his meals. He's still working his tail off, but at least he gets to see his growing baby every day, and I can fill his belly with good food. These pleasures are pretty simple, and yet, we missed them a great deal during our separation. We get to delight in one another's company again.
Oh, and did I mention Addie only woke up ONCE last night? That, my friends, makes for a pretty fantastic Sunday afternoon.