Jungle Jim’s Adventure

Tuesday, June 14:  You know a store is big (in this case huge), when it comes with its own Store Map, as well as a separate guide to their International Market section which features more than 180,ooo products from 75 countries.  Needless to say, Jungle Jim’s is not just a market, but a destination!

Last time we were in Cincinnati we visited Jungle Jim’s twice, so we knew what to expect.  We started off full steam ahead, but slowed down considerably an hour later, when we just made it out of the International Market.  We spent another hour shopping the “regular” grocery isles as well as their Natural Foods, Olive Bar, Cheese Shop, Beer Cave, Deli and Cookware areas.  We even dared to buy a Chocolate Sea Salt “Cricket Bar” from the Bug Candy display.  This bar was manufactured by “Gym-N-Eat Crickets” in Iowa and is considered an alternative and sustainable protein source.  Of course, I’ll let you know the verdict once we sample the bar. 

It was already in the mid-80’s by the time we got back to Zephyr.  Because our RV refrigerator isn’t efficient in such high temperatures Fester wanted to add a few cooling fans to the system, in anticipation of the 90- and 100-degree temperatures we will experience in the next few weeks.  Fortunately, he had a little shade and a “mister” fan which provides evaporative cooling while working on his fan contraption.   

We’ve noticed a really nice older rig in the campground that was worthy of a few photos – I just love the whimsical cube theme. The coach’s license plate says “ITSHOME” and the license plate on their toad (RV slang for a towed vehicle) is “GUESTRM.” I think we would enjoy meeting that couple.

An addendum to last night’s post… As luck would have it, Fester did get to meet them. Fester had made a run to Home Depot to pick-up a few battery-operated fans.  I wondered why he had been gone so long and was starting to worry (as usual, he didn’t bring his phone).  Turns out he was parked just down the road from Zephyr, chatting with the ITSHOME couple. The couple, Tom & Marion, have lived aboard their Foretravel RV for 18 years – and, they were definitely worth meeting.  Tom, also a mechanical engineer, shared a lot of valuable, hard-earned information on “everything RV,” which explains why Fester was late returning from his Hope Depot excursion. I had no idea he spent almost an hour chatting with Tom and Marion and would have noticed his Jeep if I ventured out for a Sadie walk. I eventually met Tom and Marion as we were hooking up the Jeep Wednesday morning, getting ready to pull out of FMCA.

On the road again!

Tuesday, June 14: Yesterday morning we began a three-week summer RV adventure which will take us from home to Cincinnati, OH, to Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky, to Nashville, TN where we will attend the Escapee RV Club’s 61st Annual Escapade at the Wilson County Fairgrounds/Expo Center in Lebanon (about 30 miles West of Nashville). After the Escapade, which takes place June 19 – 24, we’ll make our way to Ashville, NC, to visit with Fester’s dad. We’re fortunate that Fester’s brother, Jim, and wife, Cookie will be passing through Ashville during our visit.

We plan to arrive at the Fairgrounds early (June 17) so we can explore the area and get the “lay of the land.” We’re staying two extra nights as we’re registered for two special Escapade motor coach tours, called HOPs which stands for Head Out Programs. On June 24 we’re on the Best of Nashville HOP and on June 25 we’re taking the Nashville Civil War HOP. We’ve never attended a HOP, so these will be an interesting way to explore Nashville with new RV friends.

After a late start (due to my never-ending procrastination) and five hours on the road, we’ve settled into a two-night stay at the Family Motor Coach Association’s (FMCA) campground in Newtown, Ohio, which is just outside of Cincinnati. We’re familiar with this members-only campground because we stayed here last October on our way to the Xscapers Convergence in Lake Havasu, Arizona. As FMCA members, we can stay free for two nights every month.

We arrived at FMCA’s campground around 4pm and set up camp in 94 degree heat (with humidity to match). After getting Zephyr set to cool down, we took the Jeep and Sadie to a familiar spot just a few miles down the road – the Fifty West Brewing Company and Beer Garden.

Being an early Monday afternoon, we had the place pretty much to ourselves, except for some die-hard pickleball players. I was able to enjoy their ice-cold craft American Lager in the shady Beer Garden, while Fester had their specially crafted blackberry soda (Sadie had water). Before sitting down, we took Sadie for a quick walk on the Little Miami Scenic Trail which has direct access to Fifty West and the the Little Miami River. As we enjoyed our “linner” (similar to brunch, but lunch and dinner) we watched and felt a storm brewing. The brewery/restaurant/outdoor center is pretty cool. During our visit last October, it was packed with families and drinkers alike. Aside from abutting the Little Miami Scenic Train, Fifty West also offers customers the opportunity to play pickleball, volleyball and cornhole. While we didn’t check it out, there’s supposed to be a futsal court too. For those like me who have no idea what I’m talking about, a “Futsal is an association football-based game played on a hard court smaller than a football pitch, and mainly indoors. and other games.”

The Fifty West Brewery & Beer Garden is on US 50W, hence its name. Some Wikipedia trivia about U.S. Route 50 or U.S. Highway 50… Paraphrased, “US 50 is a major east–west route of the U.S. Highway system, stretching 3,073 miles (from Maryland Route 528 to Interstate 80 in West Sacramento, California.

US 50 was created in 1926 as part of the original U.S. Highway system and passes through a total of 12 states including Maryland (as well as the District of Columbia), Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Nevada and California.” We may have to add Route 50 to our bucket list, along with Route 66.

We decided to return to our campground because the sky was darkening, thunder grumbled and the wind was starting to pickup. We heard the awnings flapping and Fester made a made dash to pull them in, before they broke. Sure enough, shortly after getting back to Zephyr, the storm let loose and poor Sadie shook from the loud commotion. Sadie is not a fan of thunder, fireworks or gunshots. Fortunately, with the heavy rain came cooler temperatures (72). Yes!!!

Thanks to the lower temps and good air conditioning, we had a good night’s sleep. It is amazing how quickly the three of us adapted to life on the coach. After coffee, Fester and Sadie took a nap and I practiced yoga. It’s 74 out right now, and the expected high is 97 – yikes! Fortunately, it will be mostly cloudy – but 97? That is crazy – we’re not sure if we want to leave Sadie alone in the coach during the heat of the day, in case something happens to the air conditioner.

After Sadie’s nap, we took a walk on the Lake Barber Walking Path while I finished my coffee and Sadie did her business. The trail is right behind our campsite and I was able to enjoy views of Lake Barber (before it gets too hot).

We’re planning to hit Jungle Jim’s this morning for a much-needed grocery run. Due to my procrastination, we have no quick breakfast grub like cereal or yogurt. Jungle Jim’s is an experience unto itself – which I’ll share later.