4.6.09 Into England- to Bath!

Bath Travel Blog

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4.6.09 Into England- to Bath!


Today we cheered as we crossed the enormous bridge from Wales into England!  We counted that it’s our Country #10 (plus the U.S.) on our trip so far.  (Canada, Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Ireland, Wales, and England)


This morning was “Campervan Organization” time.  Wow!  We really needed to get organized and felt much better afterward.  Everything was ship-shape, we’d donated some extra items in the bathhouse with a note, and I think we have a grip on things.  It was so bad that we took before and after pictures.  We definitely would not have wanted to bring more than our carry-on luggage, given the treasures we’ve purchased so far, we have enough stuff and are hoping Ned will tote some things home for us.


It only took a couple hours to get to Bath today.  The roadways are blue “motorways” that are essentially high speed interstates that became busier as we neared London.  Fortunately, Bath is just a small town of 80,000, but I definitely could tell we were in busier and more populated England than easy-going and rural Wales. 


We did just fine on the roundabouts that occurred literally every half mile or so once we got onto a regular highway (off the motorway).  I bet we hit 20 of them before we made it to the Church’s book excellent GPS coordinates of a Bath campground.


This Newton Mill Caravan and Camping Park is a delightful place.  It was 25L per night with electric (5 extra for the 2 kids), and Janet was very helpful in describing the nearby bus and the 3 mile bike path into town.


After we researched Bath and based on Rick Steve’s suggestion, we decided to pay for a second night.


First we went up to ride the bus into town.  It was up a steep hill through the meadow, but not far.  We waited for 20 minutes for the “very frequent” bus #5.  Finally I asked a Mom at the nearby park if we were waiting in the correct location.  She confirmed and said to get a return ticket when we boarded, that it was 3.40 L per ticket, each direction!  Wow!  That 5-minute bus ride would run about 18L round-trip if we were lucky with kid rates.  While we were contemplating biking, the bus came, and then zoomed right by us as we stood there waiting expectantly!  Oops!  Should we have waved them down?  It confirmed that we might as well ride our bikes in.


So we tromped back down and got the bikes out (which takes awhile with all our gear).  We took off, following Janet’s rather extensive directions, to go “3 miles on the level and traffic-free bike path” into Bath.  Okay, it must be something with me and public transportation directions, but we had difficulty.  We made it on the path out of the campground to a soccer field where the trail simply ended.  A nice man gave us directions across a high-speed road (no crosswalks), where we tippy toed along the sidewalk-less curb, over a railway pass, and then down a *very* steep hill with enormous steps and a kamikaze bike rut beside the steps, down to the lovely, paved bike path. 


We, of course, rode in the wrong direction for a little while.  Then turned around, all went well until the bike path ended. There were signs saying that 500 yards down an active road, the bike path would resume, but had it not been for a fellow biker zooming by us and dipping down the thin path to the right, we would never have seen the bike path again. 


Honestly, the area where this bike path went had buildings covered with graffiti, drunken people passed out, and other unsavory characters in addition to the well-dressed commuters using the bike path.  Interesting!  We did make it to the city center, by which time it looked like rain, was getting dark, and a gang seemed to be headed our way, so we scrammed. 


The hardest part on the return was getting the 4 bikes back up the railroad track hill.  Every bike required two people’s help, which was exhausting.  By the time we crossed the road several times to get to the soccer field, I was signaling cars to stop so we could cross -don’t mess with me.  They were very nice.  I was glad we’d all worn the reflective yellow jackets that the Behans had stocked for us.  We gratefully loaded the bikes onto the bike rack ��" we’ll be quite pleased tomorrow to pay whatever the bus costs to take us into town.


Then we had a wee bit of trouble getting the camper’s leveler blocks just right.  I did fine until Jazy complained that both front wheels on blocks shouldn’t be the same height.  So I tried getting halfway up one leveler and all the way up the second one, which is not easy with a stick shift vehicle, let me tell you!  When I switch from gas pedal to brake, we roll back down the leveler!  And gunning that diesel engine to slowly climb the leveler is attention-getting when I least want it. 


So watching Charles’ signaling beside one wheel and Lia’s signaling at the other, I got Sugar to the very top of one leveler- and went right over!  While Charles and Lia pointed fingers and fussed at each other and me, the neighbors in nearby sites practically set up their chairs to watch the show.  <Sigh>    For those who say “It is so easy!” with leveler blocks, more power to you. Let’s just say, I prefer hydraulic levelers to the free comedy we provide! 


At least Sugar does not have that dreadful backup buzzer that Ciao does!  Now that buzzer is a sure signal for a free show, if you ever want one ��" ha!


We made a terrific dinner of spaghetti- Charles eats so much now that Jazy took a picture of his self-refilled plateful.  We also love the dishes stocked in here. Kieran is a 5-star chef (we did not want to leave their house and his cooking) and it is a joy to cook with these great pans, which we baby.  It is raining now and we are grateful to be snug in Sugar.  She is a most-excellent rig. 


Here are some things I’ve been thinking about…  Internet and pay phones are as difficult to find around here as Mexico!  No campgrounds seem to have wi-fi.  We’ve been on the road for over 2 weeks and are constantly trying to find both internet and working, respectable pay phones.  I don’t see any internet wireless options, not even security-blocked ones from other campers.


We haven’t been able to contact Ned since we left Wales on Thursday night and it is now Monday.  We him send FindMeSpot satellite “I’m OK” messages, but what if something happens to him?  Nobody would be able to find us.  Mom, you’re getting the messages too, I hope.


Here’s what I want:  I want Boingo’s GPS POI’s.  If I could simply download all the Boingo locations, then my GPS could direct me to the closest hotspot.  Lacking that excellent option, I at least want a printed catalog in my hot little hands with GPS coordinates or at least street addresses.  Having to get location info from the internet when I need internet is beyond frustrating.  POI’s are the ideal answer, I think.  How hard would it be for them to insert their GPS coordinates into an Excel document?  Someone call (or email) Boingo for me and ask them to get on that real fast, please.  I would be so grateful for internet access (<shaking from withdrawal>).


Bath is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, by the way. I have all the UNESCO POI’s and it is terrific to double check on the GPS so we don’t miss any.  Stonehenge is less than 30 miles away, so we hope to go there the day after tomorrow.  We’re looking forward to exploring Bath tomorrow!

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photo by: Hummingbird