Sunday, January 13, 2019

No Snow Here!


  I wrote a really long blog (maybe the longest I've ever written) a couple weeks ago and, assuming it was saved (as I had been saving my work every couple minutes) and frustrated that pictures I was trying to insert weren't loading, I refreshed the page.
   It all went away.
   Two hours worth of work... up in cyber-smoke.
   I had neither the mental energy nor the desire to attempt to recreate everything I had written... and I won't attempt to do it now.
   In a nutshell...
   We arrived at Motorcoach Country Club in Indio, Ca. on December 29th and spent a week. Allie and Andy spent a couple days of their multi-destination honeymoon about 30 minutes away in Rancho Mirage and we were able to get together with them for dinner and for a few cocktails & cigars back at the coach one evening. They had a great time on their honeymoon - which began in Anguilla and ended in San Diego by way of Napa and Rancho Mirage.

   A few pictures of our time at MCC...

Our Back Yard

2.5 Miles of Man-Made Navigable Waterways

   It's a pretty nice place. 
   We hauled anchor and drove less than a mile to Indian Wells RV Resort last Saturday 1/5. The term "Resort" is often used to describe RV parks. Motorcoach Country Club is truly a resort - Indian Wells... not so much. It's not exactly a Hee-Haw-Hell. But a resort?? 
Umm, no.
   At any rate, we're here until March 31. Staying that length of time at MCC would have been outrageously expensive. IWRVR is undergoing a much needed face-lift and is noticeably improved since we were here last winter. I tried to reserve a spot at a nicer RV "Resort" a few miles away but apparently one needs to book one's stay at Indian Waters RV Resort more than 6 months in advance.
   Suzanne is working part-time (3 days a week) for the firm she's worked for for the past couple of years. She's up at 5:30 on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in order to be in sync with her colleagues in NYC and done at 2:00pm. A pretty good schedule.
   I've been keeping busy doing odd jobs around the coach - making minor repairs, cleaning rims, cargo bays etc. We had our friend, Tim over for dinner one night last week and had a great time visiting and watching the Clemson/Alabama game. We met Tim when he was parked next to us in site #50 last year (we're in site #51). He now resides on the 'other' side of the park - a much tonier, more upscale neighborhood (not really). 
   It's nice being back in the desert. Although temperatures have been about 10 degrees cooler than average, it's still much more temperate than Northern Virginia at this time of year ...

... and the forecasters are predicting a return to mid to upper 70s by Saturday.

   A couple other highlights since our arrival...

Cadillac Margaritas at Mariachi's

A Trip to Salton Sea (If you're thinking of making the pilgrimage, don't bother)

Thanks for checking out the blog!

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Almost There!

Tucumcari...Tucumcari... what can I say about Tucumcari...?
 Not a whole lot.
   It's one of those towns on old Rt.66 that time forgot after completion of Interstate 40 back in... I think it was 1957.  A drive through Tucumcari on old Rt.66 is an interesting glimpse into the past. Well, I thought it was cool and interesting - Suzanne just thought it was creepy. There are several abandoned gas ('filling') stations, a couple dozen motels; some still in operation, others long ago abandoned and weather beaten with their once colorful neon signs now rusty and hanging akimbo. A divergence from Rt.66 and into the residential and "Old Town" section of town is, indeed, creepy.  This is a very economically depressed part of New Mexico. If you're considering relocating to Tucumcari, New Mexico... you might want to reconsider.

  That being said, if you're into mid 20th century American pop culture, it's worth a visit. Creepiness notwithstanding, I think it's cool that there are still places like this in existence. I'm a fan of rusty relics of bygone eras.
   I am one!
   Here's a short Youtube video promoting Tucumcari tourism.

   Having arrived Christmas eve afternoon, we had planned to spend Christmas day in Tucumcari. Up to this point, we hadn't spent more than a single night in one location. We have a reservation at Motorcoach Country Club in Indio, California for 12/29 thru 1/5/19. Allie and her new husband, Andy will be in Rancho Mirage 12/30 thru 1/3/19 and we're looking forward to spending a little time with them before they head back home to Maryland. Suzanne and I had to wait a few days after their 12/15 wedding to head out in the coach - so time is of the essence and we've had to maintain an average of 250 miles-per-day in order to arrive on time.
   But I digress...

Cleaning and replacing batteries in malfunctioning tire pressure sensors
(When in Tucumcari...)

   We HAD planned to spend Christmas day in Tucumcari. However, after seeing what Tucumcari had (or hadn't) to offer, upon further consideration, we arose early Christmas Day, prepared the coach for departure and headed further west on I-40 to Albuquerque, NM.

   Enchanted Trails is a Passport America affiliated RV park in Albuquerque. There was a note on the office door advising us that the office had closed Christmas eve and would reopen the day after Christmas and that visitors wanting to spend the night should chose a site, fill out a registration form, place that form and the appropriate amount of cash in the provided envelope and slide it under the office door. We did that, set up and settled in for a lovely, New Mexico Christmas day.
   Cornish hens were on the dinner menu, but having arrived early, around 11am, I made a late breakfast and we watched a little TV - something we'd been unable to do for the previous couple days due to remote RV parks - too far from over-the-air TV antennas. In this park a channel scan was able to memorize 50 channels!
   Following breakfast and some chill time we made the 5 mile drive back east on I-40 to the exit for Historic Old Town Albuquerque. Most of the stores in Old Town were closed because of the holiday but we had a good time browsing the few that were open. Suzanne found a pair of New Mexico themed socks and I found an Albuquerque baseball cap I couldn't live without. We also bought a magnet for our collection. Returning to the coach, we began preparing our Christmas feast and cracked open a bottle of champagne. It was a good Christmas.

   Flagstaff, Arizona lies 325 to the west of Albuquerque on Rt.40. The Flagstaff weather forecast called for snow both Thursday & Friday. Wanting to beat the bad weather to Flagstaff, we decided not to stay an extra day in Albuquerque as we had planned and instead, got an early (7am) start and, after taking on 110 gallons of diesel fuel at the nearby Love's service area, rolled out onto the interstate.
   As it turned out, the forecasters were wrong - at least about the Albuquerque area weather. Clear skies were forecast for today. However, we weren't 10 miles into our trip when it started snowing. At times, heavily - and some of it was sticking. There was a serious accident on the east bound side of the highway - a tandem tractor trailer overturned, completely blocking both lanes of traffic. It didn't look like there was any way of detouring traffic around the accident and I'm sure it was at a stand still for hours. Glad I wasn't headed east.

   It was a long drive. The speed limit on this section of I-40 is 70 & 75. I did 55 and 60 for the majority of the trip. It cleared up after 150 miles or so but as we neared Flagstaff I could see the road had just been treated in anticipation of more bad weather and icy driving conditions.
  Change of plans.
  We had planned to stay at a campground just west of Flagstaff but a quick weather Google showed snow beginning earlier tomorrow morning than the weather guessers had initially expected. We decided to push on another 40 miles to Seligman, AZ where the elevation is almost 2000' closer to sea level and the probability of snow, much less.

Much better weather at the end of our day

   And that's where we are now. Temps are supposed to dip into the 20s overnight so we were advised, by management, to disconnect from the water supply by 7pm. We have only 290 miles to go to reach our final destination of Indio, Ca. Our reservation was for a Saturday arrival but in our efforts to beat the bad weather we find ourselves a couple days ahead of schedule. We called Motorcoach CC and arranged to check in two days early. I also made an appointment with the guy who washed and waxed the coach when we were here last winter. He and his crew will show up sometime Friday afternoon to wash 2700 miles of mud, grime and road salt off the rig. It really is a mess. I don't think it's ever been this dirty.

   Time to walk the dogs one more time before calling it a night.

Thanks for checking out the blog!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Making Friends, Arkansas & Oklahoma

  Clarke and Elaine Hockwald happened to be parked just a few miles outside of Nashville when Suzanne and I rolled into town Thursday. Clarke & Elaine have been living full time in their beautiful vintage 1982 Newell motorcoach for six years. Clarke blogs on a regular basis - and by regular, I mean daily. I discovered Clarke's blog 3 or 4 years ago and have been a loyal reader ever since. His daily musings on 'life on the road' are well written, entertaining, educational and have been a great source of inspiration as Suzanne and I spend more and more time traveling around the country in our motorhome. Our paths have crossed a couple of times in the past few years and we met briefly when Suzanne and I were in Lake Tahoe a couple years ago. When I realized we'd be within a few miles of each other this week, I reached out to Clarke and the four of us met for breakfast Friday morning before Suzanne and I rolled out of town. We chatted for well over an hour and had a great time sharing tales of the road. We went our separate ways after exchanging handshakes and hugs and hope to see them again in a few months when, once again, our paths will cross in Southern California.
 It's always fun to meet people who share our love of this lifestyle - and when they're as friendly and as genuine as the Hockwalds, it's an extra special treat.
   It rained for most of our drive Friday but as we approached the Arkansas state line there was a clear north/south line of demarcation overhead where the clouds we'd been traveling under for the past four days gave way to blue, sunny skies. By the time we reached Forrest City, AK, our destination for the day, the sun was shining and it was 60 degrees.
   We did some light grocery shopping at a store within walking distance of our campsite and spent a quiet, restful evening under clear, starry Arkansas skies.

   Saturday's destination was Fort Smith, Arkansas - clear on the other (western) side of the state. We arrived at Spring Hill Campground sometime between 2:00 and 3:00 in the afternoon in nearby Barling, AK. Spring Hill Campground is a federally run recreational area and, with a National park Senior Pass, the nightly fee is a mere $10. It was a very nice park - and if we weren't on a schedule, we would have absolutely spent a few more days relaxing in this beautiful venue located on the banks of the Arkansas River.
   After setting up and walking the dogs, Suzanne and I drove the 6 or so miles into the town of Fort Smith to explore Historic Fort Smith. Though the visitors center and other buildings were closed, due to the partial government shut-down, we still had a fun time walking around, exploring the grounds and reading the markers. Though it wasn't filmed there, portions of the movie True Grit take place at Fort Smith. It's where John Wayne delivers his prisoners and meets up with Kim Darby and Glen Campbell. So there's that.

   After our tour of the fort we decided to have an early dinner at La Huerta Mexican restaurant, just a couple blocks away. I had the Burrito La Huerta with chicken and Suzanne had the Burrito Mexicano. Both were delicious - as were the accompanying margaritas.

   Which brings us to where we find ourselves tonight... Sayre, Oklahoma. I have nothing of any particular interest to share in regard to Sayre, Oklahoma. It's remarkably unremarkable. The RV park is nice enough... and in reaching it, we put ourselves 310 miles closer to our final destination of La Quinta, Ca.

  We did have a beautiful sunset here in Sayre...

Stay tuned!

Saturday, December 22, 2018

California Bound!

  December was quite  month for us. My son was married to his lovely wife, Molly on the 2nd in a beautiful ceremony in Detroit and my daughter was married just two weeks later (on the 15th) to her husband, Andy in an equally incredible ceremony in Washington DC. Suzanne and I couldn't be happier for our kids and their new spouses. However, winter has come to Northern Virginia and we're becoming accustomed to spending our winters in warmer climates. So last Tuesday, with full hearts, happy in the knowledge that both our children have found their soul mates and are destined to live happily ever after, we shut the water off and adjusted the thermostat in the townhouse, loaded the dogs and the few remaining items on our 'pack list' into the coach and hit the road!
   We were planning to leave Wednesday morning but the cleaning woman came Tuesday morning and Tuesday afternoon, realizing the house was spotless and we really had nothing more to do in preparation for lift off - decided to split.
   Having gotten a bit of  late start, we traveled only 96 miles to Shenandoah Valley Campground in Mt. Jackson, Va. SVC is sort of an RVers pit stop. Just 5 minutes off I-81, it was the perfect place to spend the night and perform a few necessary housekeeping chores before racking up more serious miles over the next several days. Having winterized the coach a few weeks prior, we needed a water hook-up in order to flush all that nasty pink stuff from the plumbing system. That was my first order of business.

   We pulled out of SVC mid-morning Wednesday and traveled 275 uneventful miles further down I-81 to Shadrack Campground in Bristol, Tennessee. The entrance to the campground is a bit tricky - involving a very sharp turn off a heavily traveled road followed by a steep downhill drive to the campsites. We found our site, parked and leveled and upon exiting the coach to hook up to shore power and plumbing I noticed the hub cover for the passenger side front wheel was missing. Thinking it might have popped off upon entering the park, Travis and I took a walk up the hill for a no avail. I lost the driver's side one two years ago - the day we took delivery of the coach! The two front hub covers have a Freightliner emblem in the center and sell for $120! Generic, non-Freightliner caps sell for a fraction of that price and, the following day, at a truck stop, I was able to buy two (one for backup) for $5.99 each.
   Anyway... back to Shadrack...
   After setting up, Suzanne and I hopped in the car and headed into town to do some much needed grocery shopping. We now have more than enough grub in the fridge and cupboards to get us to Southern California.
  We had a bit of a glitch the next morning when, car in tow, coming off a flat section of gravel and onto the steep 30' stretch of pavement leading to the road above, the rear weight of the coach shifted to the tag axle lifting the drive axle a couple inches off the ground. I wasn't going anywhere and had to uncouple from the car in order to back up and get a running start up and onto the paved section - where I was then able to reattach the car. A minor annoyance... but a pain in the ass nonetheless.
   Thursday's destination was Nashville, Tennessee. It rained all day. I'm not crazy about driving the coach in the rain and considered calling it a day about 150 miles in. But when Suzanne informed me that the forecast called for more rain Friday, I decided to power through and at around 4pm we arrived at the Nashville KOA Resort. An hour or so before our arrival Suzanne went online and scored two tickets for the Vince Gill & Amy Grant Christmas Show at the old Ryman Auditorium. So, after setting up, having a bite to eat and tending to the dogs we Ubered into town. I considered driving but after a day of piloting a 45,000 lb bus (with an SUV in tow) 300 + miles over the Smokey Mts.... in the rain... I thought it might be nice to let someone else do the driving. The show was great!

It got much more crowded by showtime

...and following a post-performance stroll down Music Row, we summoned our return ride to the RV park and hit the sack. Nobody had to sing me a lullaby. Both Suzanne and I were out like a light.
     We're now in Fort Smith, Arkansas. There's more to tell about yesterday and today but it's getting late and the dogs need to go for a walk before calling it a night. I'll catch up tomorrow.

Btw, it's been a while since I've recorded any new Christmas songs - but if you haven't yet been Christmas-songed to death, you might want to listen to a few of my recordings from Christmas' past here, on my website.

Thanks for checking out the blog! 

Sunday, July 15, 2018

And We Roll...

   Our plan was to move from Patten Pond RV Park to Bar Harbor Campground where we planned to spend a week before heading for my brother's place in Massachusetts. During a phone conversation with an employee at BHC I had been assured that, even though the upcoming week included the very busy 4th of July holiday, they would have a spot for me. They operate on a first come first serve basis and if I showed up early Sunday morning, people having spent the weekend would be heading out and I could move into one of the vacated sites.
   There was, however, another campground about 7 miles from Patten Pond that we had passed several times on Rt.1 on our way to Ellsworth. On one such excursion I took the opportunity to pull into Forest Ridge Campground and inquired as to site availability for the week of the 4th. The young man in the office offered me a map of the property on which he highlighted 4 or 5 available full hook-up spots that would accommodate our 43 foot coach.  It was a nice looking campground and the price was right (about $15 less per night than Patten Pond). I paid for six nights. We would arrive Sunday morning and leave the following Saturday morning - June 7.
   Sunday morning we packed up and traveled the 7 miles down Rt.1 where we slid comfortably into site #2 at Forest Ridge Campground. It's the shortest distance we've ever traveled between RV parks.
   Sometime in the intervening days a beautiful 1998 Prevost XL 45 had moved into the site beside ours. Temperatures were such that, during our stay, much of our time at the campground was spent inside in the comfort of our air conditioning. The same was true for most of the guests so that the opportunity to meet the owner of the Prevost didn't present itself until Friday, when they were packing up to leave. I'm a big fan of these stainless steel and aluminum clad beauties and would someday like to get a tour of the interior of one.

   Suzanne had a couple of very busy work days so I amused myself with a hike up Cadillac Mountain with Travis one morning and a 26 mile bike ride another. We drove into Bar Harbor on Wednesday where the dogs and I waited patiently in the car while Suzanne had her hair cut and colored. There is no shortage of lobster 'shacks' along Rt.1 between Ellsworth and Bar Harbor and during our stay we shamelessly sampled lobster rolls from three... possibly four of them.
   We had a night of steady rain and I discovered a small leak in the roof where two FM radio antennas are located. I think it was a result of the low hanging branch at Greenlaw's RV Park I mentioned in my previous blog. I decided to just remove the antennas for now and fill the holes with Dicor RV roof sealant. The antennas and mounts are looking a little frazzled. I'll order new ones when we get home.

   We left FRC Saturday morning as planned, driving 300 miles and arriving at my brother's place in Phillipston, Massachusetts around 2pm where we spent the next week. Well, I spent the week there. Suzanne had business in Boston and Manhattan. I drove her to her hotel in Boston Sunday afternoon where she spent the next two days. She then flew to NYC Wednesday morning and returned to Logan Friday evening. I retrieved her from Logan at 9pm.
   I managed to keep myself occupied during Suzanne's absence by completing a few projects on the coach, exercising at the local Planet Fitness, taking a long ride on my bike and spending quality time with family, particularly my mom, who lives with my brother Bob. I really enjoyed spending time with her!

   Travis & Winnie had a good time in Phillipston as well...

   Our journey back to Virginia began yesterday as we left Phillipston and headed for Cape May, New Jersey by way of Easton, Connecticut - where we spent last night at Silverman's Farm.
   A few months ago I ponied up $49 and joined something called Harvest HostsHarvest Hosts is a network of vineyards, orchards, farms and the like offering free overnight camping to RVers. We hadn't yet stayed at a Harvest Host and were looking forward to our first HH experience. Silverman's Farm was about 15 minutes off the 'beaten path' but well worth the detour. Our host couldn't have been nicer or more accommodating. We parked the coach in a large open field across the road from the farm stand and a hundred yards or so behind their animal farm. It was mid afternoon when we arrived and still rather warm, so I ran the generator and a/c until the sun set and temperatures dropped to a level where I was able to shut down the genset, open the windows and turn on the ceiling vent fans. The coach's inverter, powered by its six AGM deep cell batteries is able to power everything in the coach except the air conditioners.
   After walking the dogs and getting things set up we walked over to what Silverman's calls their 'farm stand'. It's really more of a farm stand/gift shop/florist/craft shop/pie, ice cream & preserves emporium. It was really a cool place. We ended up buying a cherry pie, a quart of Tahitian Vanilla ice cream, a loaf of cranberry bread, blue corn tortilla chips and a jar of sweet vidalia onion salsa. Yum.

Our spot at Silverman's

   Oh, a week ago I decided to order a Garmin dezl 770LMTHD, a truck specific GPS. We've been using Google Maps and it's just not up to the task. We've ended up on too many size-inappropriate roads, detoured around unexpected low overpasses etc. The coach has in-dash navigation but it too is unpredictable and has gotten us into some tight spots. I had read lots of good things about the Garmin Trucker GPS and finally decided to pull the trigger - and take some pressure off my navigatrix... Suzanne.

   We used it for the first time yesterday and it did a great job and raised my comfort level several points! The drive from I-95 to Silverman's farm took us on some winding rural roads but I knew, because the coach's dimensions and weight had been programmed into the unit, we wouldn't be asked to navigate anything that wouldn't safely accommodate our rig. Maybe the best $375 I've ever spent.

   Today, once again, the new Garmin Trucker GPS performed flawlessly. It rained for a good portion of our 210 mile trip, spoiling the wax job I had performed in my brother's driveway. 

   I had planned to take I-287 over the Tappan Zee Bridge, thereby avoiding the very bumpy and heavily trafficked Cross Bronx Expressway and George Washington Bridge. But at the last minute, seeing that Sunday morning traffic was lighter than anticipated, we decided to stay the course and continued down I-95. We had only a brief slow down during the approach to the GWB. 

Good call.
Crossing the GWB

We stopped at a service area about 15 miles from our destination and topped off our half empty diesel tank. I was expecting something in the neighborhood of $3.50 per gallon but was pleasantly surprised at the $3.15/gal price tag.   

   Tonight we are in Big Timber Lake RV Resort in Cape May Court House, NJ - a Sun Resort. BTLRVR is a Passport America RV park and I was able to get 50% off the nightly rate for our entire 5 night stay. According to the PA notes on the park, the 50% discount is only supposed apply to the first two nights. But when I made the reservation earlier in the week, I was quoted a price that reflected a 50% discount for the entire stay. I didn't argue the point. 

   Thanks for checking out the blog!

Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Maine Thing

 Last Friday's lunch before leaving Plymouth on Saturday...

 Driving through, or rather under Boston last Saturday morning...

   Stonington Maine is home to a fleet of more than 300 lobster boats (it's the largest 'lobstering' port in the state) and just about the cutest little seaport town you'll ever visit. Though the bridge to the island elicits a bit of a 'pucker'...

   ...the drive along SR15 was beautiful.

   If you look at the home page for Greenlaw's RV Park & Campground, you'll read, in paragraph one that, "Wi-Fi is available and we have have good cell service". More on that in a minute...
   GRVP&C was a charming little campground. Pretty obviously built several decades ago and although not ideally suited for big rigs such as ours, it is wonderfully secluded and very conveniently located just a couple miles from picturesque 'downtown' Stonington and the harbor. As we rolled up their long, windy gravel driveway, coming around a bend we spotted the owner, a woman in her 70s and a friend waiting for us by her car. I guess the arrival of a 43' coach isn't an everyday occurrence at this little campground and warrants a special greeting. I unhooked from the Traverse - into which Suzanne hopped and followed me as I followed the two women, in their car, to our site - raking a low hanging branch along the length of the roof along the way. 😕 A subsequent roof inspection revealed no damage. Just a bit of foliage in the TV antenna.

   Up to this point, no money had changed hands. They don't accept credit cards at GRVP&C so we were advised to take our time getting set up then stop by the office on our way into town later on to settle up. Before leveling and deploying the slides, I though it wise, given our remote location, to perform a signal strength check on our cell phones. As I've mentioned in previous blogs, Suzanne works remote and needs a good cell signal for her conference calls. Also, as RV park wi-fi is, more often than not, pretty sketchy, we usually end up using our hot-spot for internet connectivity, an absolute necessity in her line of work.
   Our signal test showed two bars of 1X - which is roughly equivalent to sending smoke signals. Even when placed next to our new wiz-bang Weboost antenna, there was no significant improvement in the signal. And there was no wi-fi.
   "Wi-Fi is available and we have have good cell service"??... Umm, no.
   I jumped in the car and drove to the office. Sharing the disappointing news with the proprietor and pointing out the misleading information on their website, I decided to pay for one night (we had planned to spend the week) and try to make other arrangements.
   Returning to the coach to retrieve Suzanne, Travis & Winnie, we struck out in the car, heading back toward civilization, and hopefully a Verizon tower. Our abysmal signal was such that we couldn't make a phone call or do any sort of online search for another RV park. We had to get to a location where we could communicate with the outside world. Thirty-five miles later, it happened. We got a signal.
   Patten Pond RV Resort is a very nice, albeit pricey, campground in Ellsworth, Maine.

   It's located on the mainland and only 18 miles from Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park by way of routes 1 & 3. The pond (which looks more like a large lake to me) is beautiful, the sites spacious, but most importantly, we have 4 bars of 4G LTE!!! It's where we've been since last Sunday.
   Oh, I forgot to mention that, before striking out from Stonington in search of a cell signal, we drove down into the village for lobster rolls and ice cream. We have priorities.
  Also, before departing GRVP&C Sunday morning, I got up bright and early and washed the coach. Many RV parks have rules prohibiting RV washing. I was pretty sure Patten Pond would have such a rule but there was nothing in the GRVP&C literature stating their policy either way ... and the owner lived off premises... and it was early on a Sunday morning.
What off-premises-living-RV-park-owner is gonna come poking around my campsite early on a Sunday morning? Ya follah?
   My roof, in particular, was filthy - not having been cleaned since we left Indian Wells RV Resort in SoCal in February. It had to be done.
   So, what else has been going on...

   The weather has been idyllic - except for today. It's been raining heavily all morning.

   I've been running with Travis the last couple of days. He's not much of a jogger. His pace improves when he realizes we're headed back home. But constantly having to encourage him not to lag behind me makes the task of completing three miles in less than 30 minutes just a little more difficult. He may be staying home during my next outing. The other annoying thing about jogging in these parts is the horse flies or deer flies or whatever the hell they are. They're tenacious little bastards - and their bite hurts!

   I grilled scallops and zucchini Tuesday night...

When in Maine

   I've done a few minor repairs on the coach over the past couple of days. There was a rusty access panel on the 10,000 watt Onan diesel generator cover that needed sanding and paint, a couple of woodwork screws whose holes had stripped, wheels that needed cleaning, cargo bays in need of reorganization, a shower drain in need of snaking. Stuff like that.

   Yesterday morning Travis cut the under-side of his tongue pretty badly on a marrow bone. I didn't notice it until after licking himself for several minutes, all four paws, legs and his belly and chest were a bloody mess! I realized pretty quickly what had happened and sat with him on the floor, keeping him settled until the bleeding stopped - which took quite a while.

   We are scheduled to leave here Sunday morning and relocate to Bar Harbor Campground where we will remain until Saturday, July 7th. BHC is a little unusual in that they don't take reservations. The owner assured me, however, when I spoke with him Monday morning, that he would have a spot for me and that I should arrive as close to opening time (8am) as possible. 
   This morning, as an afterthought, I logged onto the Passport America website to see if there were any participating RV parks in the area. To my surprise, we are in one! When we checked into GRVP&C last Sunday I made it known that I was both a Good Sam and a Passport America member. I'm not sure if the woman didn't hear me or if she was new and unaware of the campgrounds PA affiliation. At any rate, I donned my rain gear and headed for the office where I received a $100 refund to my Amex account. That's always a good thing.

I guess that's about it.

Thanks for checking out the blog!




Friday, June 22, 2018

Pilgrims & Stuff...

   Late one night, a couple years ago, Suzanne had gone to bed and I was sitting on the couch watching TV and checking email on my laptop. I was about to delete an email from from my spam folder but instead, decided to open it and see what they were trying to sell me. It was a free one month membership.
   I decided to give it a try.
   Entering my credit card information, I wrote the date on a post-it and stuck it on my laptop, figuring I'd cancel my subscription the day before the automatic renewal kicked in.
   Three hours later, after following the branches of my family tree I thought most likely to lead to something interesting (all of which dead-ended about five generations in) and about to call it a night, I decided to see how far I could shimmy out on my paternal grandmother's branch of the tree. She came from very humble beginnings so my expectations were low. I expected records would be hard to come by and my search would yield nothing of real interest - probably hitting a wall three or four generations in.
   I was wrong.
   In fact, four or five generations in, I had discovered and saved more birth certificates, death certificates, marriage licenses, census and military records etc. than all previous paths had yielded. It seemed the further in I got, the hotter things got.
   I found a multi-paged document containing correspondence between my 3x or 4x great grandmother (and her attorney) and the federal government in an ultimately successful attempt to secure widow's benefits as a result of her husband's death as a Union soldier in the Civil War.
   Another distant grandmother was murdered my a mentally disturbed fellow from down the street.
   Compelling stuff.

   I guess it was around six generations in that the surname Bradford appeared, which ultimately lead to William Bradford, author of The Mayflower Compact and Governor of Plymouth Colony.
   Not just any pilgrim... THE pilgrim.

   It took me over a year to gather all the documentation required to submit with my application to the Mayflower Society. My first application was denied and I had to gather more evidence in support of an as-of-yet unestablished link in my proposed line to William Bradford. In actuality, there was another line to WB that I could have used. My great grandfather married a cousin (yeah, I know) who was also a descendant. Her line to WB had been established and would have been an easy lift. I saw the other line as a challenge however, and really wanted to lock it down. Creating and documenting a new line to William Bradford seemed like it would be a cool and fun thing to do.
   I acquired the missing evidence, satisfying the Mayflower Society's requirements and creating a newly established line in the process. My application was approved and I have been a member in good standing ever since.

   All this to say that, although Suzanne and I have visited Plymouth, Ma. in the past, this is the first opportunity we've had to visit this historic location since discovering my relationship to William Bradford. Everything here seems just a little more interesting to me this time.


   We arrived here last Friday (6/15) and will be leaving tomorrow, Saturday 6/23. The weather has been beautiful, the seafood delicious and the history fascinating. We visited the Mayflower Society headquarters and Pilgrim Hall last weekend and found both to be very interesting. Pilgrim Hall has a very cool collection of Mayflower artifacts, some of which belonged to 'Grandpa Bill'.
   This was his bible...

   His Chair...

   William Bradford's grave site on Burial Hill...

Nice view of the harbor

   Ellis Haven Campground is a very nice place with all the amenities, conveniently located just a few miles from downtown Plymouth and the waterfront. With the purchase of seven nights you get an eighth night free - hence our departure tomorrow morning. There's a beautiful lake for swimming with a long, sandy beach, a restaurant serving breakfast & lunch and plenty of wide open spaces for Travis and me to play ball. 
   There's a pretty little pond a hundred yards or so from our campsite where geese, turtles, frogs and blue heron like to hang out...

   Sunset over the pond...

   Suzanne had to fly to Newark, NJ on Monday. Her flight was scheduled to depart at 3:00pm so we left EH campground for Boston's Logan Airport at noon and I dropped her curbside a little past 1:00pm. She called me about 30 minutes later to tell me her flight had been cancelled and she'd be sitting in the airport until 7:00pm waiting for the next available flight. What a drag.
   I got into some hellacious traffic making my way back to the airport Wednesday afternoon for her 3:00pm return. I've driven in LA and NYC commuter traffic on several occasions but I have to say that Boston traffic, if this was typical, is the worst. I grew up in Massachusetts and had driven in Boston commuter traffic years ago but don't recall it being anything like this.  

Travis & me at the waterfront on Tuesday

   Last evening we drove into town for dinner at The Waterfront Bar & Grill. I inadvertently parked in a space reserved for vehicles towing boat trailers and returned to find a $20 ticket on my windshield.    Oh well. 
  The food at the WB&G was fantastic as was this uniquely labeled bottle of Pinot Grigio... 

   Our destination for tomorrow in Stonington, Maine. It's a bit of a hike but looks like it'll be a beautiful place to spend a week or so.

   And Winnie says "Hi".

   Thanks for checking out the blog!




Friday, June 15, 2018

Rolling Our Wheels...

   Haven't blogged in a little over a week.
   We arrived at Coldbrook RV Resort in Barre (pronounced 'Berrie'), Massachusetts on Thursday, June 7 and left this morning, Friday, June 15. It was one month ago today that we pulled out of the RV storage facility in Manassas, Va.
   We really enjoy the time we spend traveling in the coach. In fact, the more time we spend on the road the more we look forward to selling or leasing our townhouse and spending all our time living and traveling in the coach.
   The other day someone was asking me about the amount of space inside our coach.
   I was just looking at the brochure for our 2011 Winnebago 42qd and the square footage isn't shown in the specs. I like knowing the various measurements, weights, capacities etc. of our rig and keep meaning to measure the floor space - maybe I'll get out the tape measure tomorrow.
Here's a diagram of the layout.

   With the three slides extended, there's more than enough room for two adults, a golden retriever and a crazy-ass little shichon to peacefully coexist. As soon as she stops latching onto Travis' tail and 'getting him going' it'll be even better.

   But I digress...

   One reason for our northeastern excursion was the wedding of my sister's oldest son, Nick. The wedding took place last Saturday, June 9. Both my kids and their fiances flew up for the occasion - so in addition to celebrating the marriage of my nephew (their cousin) it was a wonderful opportunity for family members who had not yet met Andy and Molly - to do so.  
   The wedding came off without a hitch. Well, there was the intended 'hitching', which was quite lovely and perfectly executed. Everyone had a great time at the reception, where there was plenty of dancing, socializing and all the attendant festivities associated with such an occasion. At one point during the celebration it was requested that all married couples take the dance floor. As the music played the DJ asked that all couples married for less than five years take their leave - then ten years - then fifteen...etc. Suzanne and I were the last couple standing - winning a gift certificate and a bottle of wine in honor of our 38 years of marriage. 
   So that was fun.  

   Aaron and Molly won a lottery scratch ticket in some sort of contest/game. 
   At first they were excited...

   Then, not so much...

Suzanne and me with our kids, my mom, and future son-in-law and daughter-in-law

   I told my brother Jim's stepson, David that I'd mention him in my next blog. Here's your shout-out, David! I'm a man of my word. Seriously, it was good seeing you. Come down to Virginia and visit sometime!   

   Aaron and Molly spent Saturday and Sunday nights in the coach with us. On Sunday, Allie and Andy joined us at the coach for breakfast then drove to Boston for a Red Sox game and to visit with friends before flying back home. Aaron, Molly, Suzanne & I drove to Concord where we walked around Walden Pond, visited the Louisa May Alcott house, dined at the Colonial Inn and explored an historic cemetery - a fun and interesting afternoon.

Molly & Suzanne preparing breakfast Sunday Morning

   As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, we stayed in the area at Coldbrook RV (not-a) Resort until Friday (today) - spending time with my mom, brothers and sister and their spouses. It's been a year since we last saw each other so it was great to catch up and spend some quality family time. We're a pretty close bunch and always have a good time when we get together.

   Yesterday I installed a Weboost Drive 4G-X in the coach. It's an antenna/booster gadget that significantly increases cell signals. Suzanne depends on strong cell signals when using our hotspot for work related internet connectivity. We also watch shows on Netflix with some regularity. The installation was pretty straight ahead. Planning the routing of the cables and location of the components took more time than the actual installation. It was very cool to see the substantial increase in signal strength when I plugged it in! It'll be even cooler when we're able to get a signal in a location where we would otherwise have no signal.

   Our next purchase is going to be a Garmin Truck Navigation device. We've had too many stressful navigational experiences - today being one. While following Google Maps directions I had to make a last minute detour to avoid a 12' 6" overpass (the coach is 12' 11"). Luckily, I spotted the height sign in time to make the only turn possible (in a busy downtown location) in order to avoid an embarrassing situation. I'm confident I wouldn't have attempted driving under the bridge - I would have recognized the potential problem without having seen the sign. But unhooking from the car and getting turned around in a busy part of town wouldn't have been a whole lot of fun.
   There's an in-dash bus-specific navigation device in the coach but it sucks. It's taken us on a few wild goose chases and has, on more than one occasion, asked us to make U-turns where U-turns aren't an option. 

   So, we are now at Ellis-Haven Campground in Plymouth, Massachusetts where we will remain for the next seven or eight days. For a couple of those days it'll be just me and the dogs as Suzanne has to fly to Newark, NJ for meetings & such. Upon her return, we'll head for the coast of Maine for a week of seafood and recreation. 

   Thanks for reading the blog!