2017 B-14 Rally: Travelling in a Customizable Class B RV

class b rv

Wednesday, May 17, 2017: CruzMobile to B-14 Rally in Williamsburg, Virginia

We leave home at noon in CruzMobile, Advanced RV’s luxury rental, heading for the B-14 Class B Motor Home Rally, starting Friday, just north of Williamsburg. Cruz is built on Fred Ahlgren’s design, with a large, rounded bathroom and shower towards the front of the cabin, wider kitchen countertops, and so many cupboards and drawers we filled only half of them. The real mahogany wood cabinets are stunning, and with the plank flooring, it feels like a high-end yacht.

 

About 8PM, we get to historic, downtown Frederick, Maryland, a place we have been through before, but always wanted to explore. Off Patrick St., Mike pulls into a private parking lot behind a string of downtown law offices, planning on “camping” there for the night. As Mike attaches the bed extension with the back doors open, the driver of one of the last cars in the lot pulls up and asks Mike if he needs help.  Mike says that he is hoping no one minds if we park there for the night.  The driver says if any one objects, we should move over to one of his spaces, behind his law office.  We thank him and he tells us where to find a sports bar to watch the Cavs vs. Celtics game, Game #1 in the Eastern Conference Playoff.

class b rv

 

After he leaves, we deploy the E&P automatic hydraulic leveling system with a push of a button. This is our first time using it, and we are amazed at the stability the four, large stainless pads give the parked camper.  It is like putting it on a concrete foundation.  Also, we appreciate level sleeping, drains not puddling on one side, and the peace of mind from knowing that it will be difficult, if not impossible, to tow while we watch the game.

custom rv

 

We walk down Patrick St to Market St. and find Brewer’s Alley, located in the old city hall. Here, in 1864, the Confederates demanded $200,000 in ransom to not sack and burn the town of Frederick.  The town fathers borrowed the money from five local banks, paid the ransom, and the town was spared.  The town made the last payment on the bonds in 1951.

luxury rv travel

 

Tonight, the Cavs win easily. As we walk back to the camper, we ask a couple on the street where the best breakfast place is and we scope it out for the morning.

 

Thursday, May 18, 2017: Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

After a good, undisturbed sleep, we walk down Patrick St. to Nola Café and have an excellent breakfast. We deliver croissants to the office of the kind lawyer from the night before, and then move the camper to on-street parking near Carroll Creek Park.  We walk the path along the creek from end to end, enjoying the flowering lilies in the creek, stone and wrought iron bridges, old brick buildings, fountains, and plantings.  Back at the camper, Mike goes for a short run.

freedom 

 

Spontaneously, we decide to go west to visit Harpers Ferry. About five years ago, when we were on a bike trip from Pittsburgh to Washington, DC on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal towpath, we passed up a stop at Harpers Ferry.  We planned our October trip to see the turning leaves, but it rained nearly every day, the temperatures stayed in the 40’s, and we often were pedaling through inches of water.  At the turnoff for Harpers Ferry, we decided to keep pedaling to more quickly end the day and get warm and dry.

 

At Harpers Ferry, we drive up the hill to the Park Administration Headquarters and find parking up there. We walk a few blocks to the Appalachian Trail Headquarters, where we chat with a helpful person who directs us to the section of the Appalachian Trail that takes us down to the lower, historic town of Harpers Ferry.  Here, at the confluence of the Potomac River and Shenandoah River, we poke into the historic buildings and museums, learning about abolitionist John Brown’s raid of the US Armory here in 1859; the 1862 Battle of Harpers Ferry; the first manufacturing of rifles with interchangeable parts; the establishment of Storer College, which admitted freed slaves; and, the founding of the Niagara Movement, a precursor of the NAACP.

 

After lunch at the Potomac Grill, the waiter asks if we have done the Maryland Heights Trail. Across the river and high up on a cliff, he points out a clearing where we see a few people.  He tells us that if we take the foot bridge across the river and find the turnoff from the towpath, we will climb about 600 feet along a 2 ½ mile trail to an amazing vista.   It was a beautiful day, so we bought some water bottles and set out.

 

Across the river, we come to the junction with the C & O Canal towpath, where on our bike trip we had decided to skip Harpers Ferry. We walk up the towpath along the Potomac, find the Maryland Heights Trail, and start climbing.  The trail is steep, but well-marked and groomed. After about an hour, we arrive at the clearing overlooking Harpers Ferry.  It is an amazing view of the town, the confluence of the two rivers and the surrounding hillsides.  It starts to rain on our way down.

off the grid 

 

About 6PM we get back to the camper, and our watches tell us that we have walked 15 miles today. We set out for Fredericksburg, Virginia, about 1 ½ hours away.  It starts to storm, with gusting winds, hail and blinding rain.  Shortly, the road is completely blocked by a downed tree and electric wires.  The local ahead of us in a pickup truck, tells us to follow him.  We drive through flooded gravel roads and finally pick up the highway we want.

 

We arrive in Fredericksburg about 8:30PM, exhausted. We park in a downtown municipal lot, along the Rappahannock River, where the sign says, “Parking Prohibited between 5 AM and 8 AM.”  We decide to ignore it.  We have a salad, smoked salmon and cold beers from the refrigerator and are asleep at 9PM.

mercedes rv

 

Friday, May 19, 2017: Fredericksburg, Virginia and arriving at B Rally

This morning, once again, we experience the advantages of “sleep-stopping” in the center of interesting towns. We walk downtown historic Fredericksburg, admiring the well preserved historic buildings.  One of our favorite shops was called “Sorry Mom Tattoo.”  Our Irish friend Harry loves amusing public signs so we texted this photo to him.

customizable class b rv

 

We join the locals lined up for coffee at the Hyperion Café. We chat with the couple ahead of us about what Hyperion means.  They guess he/she is a Greek god and then the barista chimes in to say that Hyperion is the Greek god who carries the sun across the sky.  Now, the mural on the wall makes sense.  Outside, drinking our coffee, we talk with a city commissioner about everything from politics, parking rules, and historic preservation to health care.   On the first couples’ recommendation, we walk back to Caroline Street to Irene’s, a bakery in an old church, where we enjoy quiche, wraps and a delicious apple fritter.

 

Back at the camper, we turn on the AC and take showers in Cruz’s luxuriously large bathroom. We are on our way by 10AM.

 

We arrive at the American Heritage RV Campground in Norge, Virginia before noon. We park amid the other Class B’ers at the Rally. It is already 90+ degrees so we turn on the AC.  We set up the Clam Shelter in about three minutes, put our folding camp chairs and table in there, and enjoy a bit of shade and no bugs. At this Rally, there are over 40 campers and seven of them are Advanced RVs.  The Rally Tavern opens at 3:00PM and it is great to see old friends and make new ones.

Sprinter rv

 

We learn that tonight everyone is asked to bring a side dish or dessert to add to the Barbeque Dinner. Mike and I, busy with Advanced Fest, had neglected to check the Rally website, so we had nothing to bring.  One of our good friends with an Advanced RV gives us cupcakes to bring, since she had a salad ready, too.  So kind and generous, feels like family.

 

Saturday, May 20, 2017: Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia

The temperature has dropped 20 degrees to a comfortable 70, with a breeze. We have breakfast with the Rally group and take the 10AM shuttle to Colonial Williamsburg.  We walk the colonial village, stop at the silversmith, blacksmith, and pottery store.  We enjoy lunch at King’s Arms Tavern, with delicious peanut soup, corn chowder, and chicken pot pie.  We are served by a Chinese waitress in colonial garb, who came here as an exchange student and returned to live.  We join a tour at the Capitol Building, with possibly the best

guide we have had anyplace. She delivered a fascinating script, like a stage actress, describing the founding of Virginia as an independent state, and helping us hear Thomas Jefferson’s language that later evolved into the U.S. Declaration of Independence.

 

Tonight, for the Rally dinner, we are asked to wear something representing colonial times. I buy a wide brimmed straw hat with a ribbon and Mike buys a T-shirt printed like the uniform of a Revolutionary War soldier.  Back via shuttle at 3PM, we have a cold beer in the Rally Tavern.  Dinner from a local Greek restaurant is excellent. For entertainment, we enjoy an eclectic range of songs from two talented singers and a good keyboardist.  They inspire lots of dancing.

 

Sunday, May 21, 2017: Back home in a day

We are up at 6:10AM and depart for home at 6:30. We arrive home at 3:30, glad we made this trek to the B-14 Rally.

 

Want to see different motor home designs? View a gallery of Advanced RV’s customizable class B RV builds on our website here.

 

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