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The Telegram
  • Out of this world visit at Herkimer Diamond Mines KOA

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  • When the Herkimer Diamond Mines KOA Resort began the construction of an astronomy lodge this past spring they never imaged anyone arriving in a space-mobile.
    However, that is what happened recently. As the Harvest Moon arrived in September, so did a pair with unique traveling accommodations. Just as the Herkimer Diamond Mines did not expect such a unique visit, Pam Chambers probably never thought her aunt would buy a van with a space mural — let alone that it would one day come to be hers.
    Chambers and her husband, Gary, were on a trip throughout the Northeast when they pulled into the Herkimer Diamond Mines KOA Resort on Sept. 26.
    “While we have many special guests who have stayed in our new Astronomy Lodge, these guests commanded a lot of attention. From the moment they pulled in guests and employees alike across the property were drawn to the couple’s unique mode of transportation,” said Dr. Renee Scialdo Shevat, president and owner of the Herkimer Diamond Mines KOA, in a news release.
    The van was light blue with a space-themed boarder and a mural covering the entire top half of the van. The mural was complete with the moon, planets, stars and a satellite. The couple, who reside in Alliance, Ohio, started their trip in Maine on Sept. 13. This was their last stop on their way back home.
    The van was originally purchased by Ruth Morgan, Pam Chambers’ aunt, in 1978 as a brand new, space mural painted vehicle.
    Once Morgan turned 77, she retired the van and it sat stagnant for 15years. That was when Gary Chambers suggested the idea of getting it back on the road and back in shape, which is exactly what he did.
    The van itself has an ice box, fridge, sink, bed, bench and table set, along with, of course, its original shag carpet.
    Pam Chambers joked, “People will drive by to pass us on the road and then slow down to see who is driving. They’ll see the van in the parking lot at a diner and then go inside to try and figure out who owns it.”
    While this was Gary Chambers’ first trip to New England, Pam Chambers has been camping throughout the area with her aunt, who originally introduced her to KOA.
    “Every stop, with the exception of one, throughout our trip was at a KOA Campground,” she said. “I had seen the Herkimer Diamond Mines KOA Astronomy Lodge in an email this spring and when we arrived with our space mural van it was on the night of the Harvest Moon, which is the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox. How perfect.”
    The Astronomy Lodge, which was unveiled earlier this year, carries an astronomical theme throughout, has an exterior raised deck holding a shed pod with a high powered celestron telescope. The telescope uses GPS technology to take the guesswork and effort out of aligning and finding points in the sky. The telescope is housed in an eight foot wide lunar pod dome. The cabin, which sleeps six and features a full-size kitchen and queen bed, also features a glow in the dark star finder, a star theatre planetarium and smaller more compact portable telescopes ideal for terrestrial observations.
    Page 2 of 2 - Visitors Pam and Gary Chambers came and left along with the Harvest Moon. They pulled their space vehicle away from the Herkimer Diamond Mines KOA Resort Astronomy Lodge with a continued sense of KOA loyalty as they headed home to tell their aunt, now 99 years young, all about their trip.
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