Friday, May 25, 2018

Head 'Em Up.. Move 'Em Out!

   Late Thursday afternoon I decided it was time to buy clipless pedals for the bike I bought in California to replace the one that was stolen at Indian Wells RV Resort. As it turned out, I had to buy pedals and replacement cleats for my bike shoes. Gettysburg Bicycle didn't have pedals to match my cleats. After installing the new pedals & cleats and pumping a few lbs. of air into my tires, I donned my riding shorts, shirt and shoes, grabbed my helmet and hit the road. My intention was to ride just a few miles... three or four, to test out the new pedal setup. About a mile up the road from Artillery Ridge Campground is an entrance to Gettysburg National Military Park. As I reached the first monument, and being satisfied with the feel of the new pedals, I decided to ride the entire 10.5 loop around the main portion of the battlefield and back to the campground. I needed the exercise and it was a beautiful afternoon for a ride.

    The previous day we spent a few hours in Old Town Gettysburg having a delicious lunch at The Pub & Restaurant and browsing through Gallery 30, a really cool art store selling, among other things, elaborately decorated gourds.

   After leaving Gallery 30 Suzanne checked out a gift shop while I investigated the local cigar shop. Neither of us found anything worth purchasing.

   This morning, before departing Artillery Ridge and heading for our next destination, Lancaster, PA, we drove back into Old Town for breakfast at One Lincoln, a great little restaurant on the traffic circle with sidewalk seating.
   Upon check-in at Artillery Ridge we were given free passes to a couple Gettysburg attractions, one of which was the Gettysburg Diorama. So after breakfast, before returning to A.R. to prepare the coach for departure, we redeemed our free diorama pass. We were the only people in the theater and therefore had no problem securing the best seats in the house. It was really quite an impressive (and huge!) model of the battlefield and explained the events leading up to the battle, and the battle itself, leaving us with a better understanding of just what went down July 1-3, 1863.

   We pulled out of A.R. Campground at 1:00pm following Rt.30 northeast and arriving at Old Mill Stream Campground in Lancaster, PA  a little after 3:00pm. Google maps said it would take only 1 hour and 23 minutes.

   Site #608 is a 'back-in'. However, backing in would have put our plumbing and electric hookups on the wrong side of the coach so we opted, instead, to drive in. The entrance into the site is pretty steeply pitched and I was just a little nervous about the maneuver. I could see the coach was going to list heavily to port and there was the possibility of bottoming out, so I had Suzanne spotting me outside with her walkie-talkie. It all went off without a hitch and we were set up and walking the dogs within half an hour.  These pictures look pretty tame but believe me, I've wiggled this thing into all sorts of funky parking spaces - this was unlike anything I've ever done before.

  Travis & Winnie waiting patiently to go for a walk while we get set up...

   Burgers and salad were on tonight's menu.

  Thanks for checking out the blog!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

On We Go!

  We pulled out of ORC at precisely 11:05 this morning turning northeast on SR-340, stopping a couple miles up the road just long enough for me to top off the fuel tank while Suzanne ran (walked briskly) across the street to McDonald's to fetch a couple breakfast burritos. I was only down a quarter of a tank but $3.05 is about as cheap as I've seen diesel fuel in these parts and - why not top off? Besides - we were hungry!
   Outlander's River Camp is our favorite place to camp in the Shenandoah and we're always a little sad come departure time. This time, however, it rained five of the seven days we were there and we were both a bit anxious to haul anchor and move on to our next destination, Gettysburg, PA.
   We've been to Gettysburg several times over the years. My first visit was as a pre-teen with my family on Summer vacation. Suzanne made the same pilgrimage with her parents.
   We lived in New Jersey from 1987 to 1992 and again from 1996 thru 2008, during which time we made three or four camping trips to Gettysburg. My son, Aaron had an interest in history from a very young age and particularly enjoyed our Gettysburg outings. My daughter, She enjoyed the horseback riding, hay rides, campfires, s'mores etc. Later on, as a junior or senior in high school, Aaron attended some sort of Gettysburg/Civil War Summer camp. He now conducts occasional tours of the battlefield when his busy D.C. tour business permits.
   The majority of today's journey was spent on SR-340 NE changing over to SR- 15N in Frederick, Maryland.  It was a very pleasant ride through the Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland countryside, crossing the Shenandoah twice and the Potomac at Harpers Ferry. It took us about 3.5 hours to compete the 125 mile drive.

   Our site at Artillery Ridge Campground is a pull-thru. However, as is often the case, there just wasn't quite enough room to negotiate the turn in. Additionally, the site's picnic table was smack dab in the middle of my drive path so I set the air brakes, disconnected the Traverse from the coach and dragged the picnic table to the side. Suzanne hopped in the Traverse and I made my way back to the coach where these guys... 

   ... were waiting patiently.

Leveled, connected to shore power & plumbing, slides and awnings deployed

   Artillery Ridge participates in the Passport America program. As members, our nightly fee is only $30 instead of the $60 non-member rate. Sweet!

   I just recently began breaking in a new pair of gloves. I have two pairs of gloves in the coach. One I use when pumping diesel fuel and the other (these) are for connecting and disconnecting the car to/from the coach. The old pair have not yet given up the ghost, but it's just a matter of time. When they do, the new pair should be ready for service. 

    Suzanne has a light work day tomorrow so we'll be able to do some Gettysburg stuff. I'll go for a run while she's on a couple of morning conference calls.

Thanks for checking out the blog!

Monday, May 21, 2018

One More Night On The Shenandoah

  Not a whole lot to report from Outlander River Camp. We arrived here last Tuesday. It rained Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It wasn't a constant rain, but steady and heavy enough to thoroughly saturate the ground here at ORC. There is a depression in the ground just outside the door of the coach that filled with a couple inches of water - avoidance of which necessitated a sizable stride off the bottom step. The problem could have been avoided if I had only parked the coach two feet forward or backward of where I dropped anchor. Oh well. The weather for the past two days has been very nice, a little humid, but precipitation-free and in the 80 degree range. 

The Massanutten Mountains to the west

   In my last post I wrote about a 45' Entegra coach getting stuck in the mud while attempting a wide turn, from the wrong direction, down the 'pull-thru' aisle here at ORC. While I wasn't able to get a picture of the bogged down behemoth, I did take a shot of the resulting ruts...

   One of those monster tow trucks made quick work of extricating the mired motorcoach from the sodden fescue.

   Oh, Ourisman Chevrolet had neglected to perform an emissions test on the Traverse before sending me on my way. I was notified of the oversight and advised to have it inspected so they could complete the registration process and send me new stickers for my plates (tags). I had the inspection done on Saturday 5/12 and was told by Ourisman  they would send me the registration Tuesday morning. This Saturday, 5/19, assuming it had been delivered and wanting to retrieve it before continuing our journey northward (my registration expires at the end of this month) we loaded the dogs in the car and made the 81 mile trek to the Herndon post office (we put a stop on mail delivery before leaving last week) only to discover my registration hadn't yet been delivered. Imagine my disappointment. I called the dealership but the person with whom I needed to speak was off for the weekend. 
   I'll have to ask my daughter to make a trip from her place in Maryland to the Herndon, Va. post office sometime in the next week or so and forward our mail to Massachusetts.

   As I write this there is only one other occupied RV in the park - a couple in a fifth wheel trailer about 100' from where we're parked. There were probably a dozen other rigs of various sizes and varieties that came in for the weekend, the last of which rolled out around 11:00 this morning.

   Having not made it to the gym before the 4:00pm Sunday closing, I instead logged 3 miles on the gravel roads here at ORC then showered and grilled a couple rib eye steaks to accompany the salad Suzanne had made. After supper we sat outside watching TV, sipping cocktails (a margarita for Suzanne, scotch & a cigar for me) and enjoying the beautiful sunset. 

   This morning I decided to try out a new foam polishing drill attachment I bought at Advance Auto last week. 

...and was happy with the results.

Only five more wheels to go

   I took a break from wheel polishing to toss a load of laundry in the washer but when I pushed the start button, nothing happened. My first thought was that perhaps the circuit breaker for the washer had been tripped - but it hadn't been. There are three electrical outlets inside the master bath vanity beside the washer and dryer. One is for the washer, one for the dryer and I'm not sure what the third one is for. I unplugged the washer and dryer and plugged the washer into the dryer outlet. It worked! When the wash cycle ended I plugged the dryer into the washer outlet and IT worked as well. I guess the washer just needed a 'hard reboot'. 
   Time to head for the gym for my last FREE workout. We haul anchor and head for Gettysburg, Pa. tomorrow morning.

Thanks for reading the blog!





Thursday, May 17, 2018

Today's Lesson: Don't Take 45,000 lb Coaches Off-Road

   Grey skies and occasional rain continue here at Outlander River Camp on the Shenandoah in Page Valley. There's a low spot just outside our front door which makes taking the dogs out for potty breaks not a whole lot of fun after a rainy spell.  I've been keeping Travis on his leash when we go for walks. He's used to running free here and we usually take long walks down along the river but I've been finding ticks crawling on him (and one on me) after our morning games of fetch. I even found one on Winnie after a brief outing. I know people who've had long lasting issues as a result of tick bites. I may be a little paranoid, but we're gonna restrict our grassy area activities for the next few days.

      Winnie had an 'accident' on the bedspread last night before going in her bed for the night. The washer and dryer in the coach don't have a large enough capacity to handle a blanket so I popped it in a commercial-size washer at the local laundromat before going to the gym this afternoon. It's been quite a while since I've been in a laundromat. I thought it only cost like $.75 to do a load of wash. Nope... $3.00!

   Speaking of gyms...
   Since it was raining yesterday I decided to check out a local gym I've been curious about since we first started coming out here. The PMH Fitness and Wellness Center, located near downtown Luray, has an unassuming facade and shares an interior wall with the grocery store in which Suzanne and I found a package labeled "Miscellaneous Meat" during a camping excursion last Summer. My expectations were low but I was pleasantly surprised to see a clean, spacious, well equipped facility. They even have towels! I left Gold's Gym in Herndon a year or so ago when Allie moved in and talked me into joining the nicer, better equipped (and more expensive) Worldgate Sport & Health. One thing I like about Worldgate as compared with Gold's is their limitless supply of towels. It takes three to get me through my workout.
   "How much for a day pass?"
   "Five dollars."
 I was surprised. My gym charges $20 for a day pass.
   "I'm here for a week. How much for a week pass?"
   "Fifteen dollars"
 I got my wallet out and handed the guy a $20 bill. I'm guessing he didn't have a five to give me for change...
   "Hmm... you said this is your first time here?"
   "And you're here for a week?"
   "Uh huh"
   "You can work out for the week for free."

   PMH Fitness and Wellness Center, my new favorite gym in the Shenandoah Valley...

   A guy came into the park tonight in a big Entegra motorhome. He accidentally bypassed the turn for the pull-thru sites, circled around past the front of our coach and attempted to make the turn down the pull-thru aisle from the opposite direction. The turn into the pull-thru aisle is possible only while entering the park - not while exiting. What he should have done was driven out to the large parking area in front of the office, made a 3 point U-turn and re-entered the park. Instead, he made a wide turn from the wrong direction straying well off the gravel road and onto rain-soaked grass burying the front wheels to the bumper. Bonehead move. I walked over to see if I could be of any help  and suggested we put blocks under the front jacks and lift the front end up far enough to get blocks under the tires - but he said, with his coach, the air has to be purged from the system before the jacks can be lowered. Since the chassis was already pretty much bottomed out, that wouldn't have been a good idea. The jacks in my coach can be lowered without purging the air. Anyway, a big-ass tow truck was summoned and within a few minutes he was out of the mud and heading for his site. Happy ending. I made chicken fajitas and went back out to take a picture.. but was too late.

Winnie being a good girl

   I've made reservations at two RV parks - one just outside of Gettysburg and another in Lancaster, PA where we will spend Memorial Day weekend. I called five other parks before finally finding an available spot in Lancaster. Memorial Day weekend is kind of a big deal in the camping community and reservations are made well in advance.
   We've had Outlander River Park pretty much to ourselves for the past couple of days but the weekenders are beginning to roll in. 
   Looks like more rain Friday and Saturday. Wonderful.

Thanks for checking out the blog!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Back In Business!

  It's been a few weeks (I think about six) since we were last out in the coach. The main reason for the moratorium being that our 'toad' vehicle, my little 2003 Suzuki Grand Vitara, was in a bad way. I had replaced the worn out tie rods and front CV axles, but a whining noise had developed in the rear end. It was getting progressively more noticeable and one day, after returning home from a drive to Alexandria, I got out and knelt behind the car to feel the differential. It was too hot to touch. The next day we traded in the Suzuki for a 2012 Chevy Traverse I had found online at Ourisman Chevrolet of Alexandria. It only had 29k miles on it and I paid well under the Kelley Blue Book valuation. Not all vehicles can be towed 'four down'. The Chevy Traverse is one that can be, and it's the vehicle I was most interested in.  I had read good things about it and wanted something a little bigger and maybe just a tad more luxurious than the Suzuki. Travis needs a little more space in which to stretch out.
   The Blue Ox towing system I have requires the installation of a 'base plate' on the vehicle being towed. The base plates are vehicle specific so I couldn't simply remove the old one from the Suzuki and install it on the Traverse. I had to buy a new one along with a new installation kit for the Air Force One braking system I would be transferring from the old car to the new along with a Hopkins wiring harness to be installed in the Traverse allowing the rear lights, brake lights and turn signals to work off the coaches lights. The ordering and installation of all this stuff took time - especially the base plate installation. It was more involved than the Suzuki installation had been, requiring two sections of frame rail to be cut out. That was just a bit intimidating. I had actually forgotten I would need a wiring harness and didn't think to order it until after having completed the base plate and brake system installs. The harness was back ordered, further delaying completion of the job.
   The harness arrived last Friday and I finished everything up Monday afternoon.
   So we're back out on the road! My nephew, Nick, is getting married June 9 in Massachusetts. We thought it might be fun to head out a little early - spend some time in the Shenandoah then up into Pennsylvania (maybe Gettysburg) eventually arriving in central Massachusetts in time for the nuptials.  My mom, sister and brothers live in the area and I haven't seen them in almost a year, so we're looking forward to getting back together with family. After the wedding we may head up into New Hampshire and Maine. I have a hankerin' for various steamed and fried crustaceans and mollusks.
   I had my fingers crossed as we attached the Traverse to the coach for the first time at the storage facility in Manassas. I had wired the 'six round' receptacle on the car according to the industry standard, knowing not all RV manufacturers adhere to that standard. Luckily everything worked as it should and we were off and running ...with lights, brakes and ev-uh-thin!!

All hooked up and ready to roll! 
(And a nice color match - don't you think?)

View of the Traverse in the rear view monitor

   The forecast was not favorable for the drive out to Luray Tuesday evening. We had had some pretty severe weather the night before, complete with tornado warnings and no-nonsense National Weather Service cell phone admonitions to head for your basement - which we did. 
  I had washed the coach a few days earlier and was hoping for a precipitation-free run to the Shenandoah. But it was not to be. The good news is that the roads had been washed fairly clean by the previous day's downpour. The coach looks...okay.

   Winnie settled in beside Suzanne and slept for the entire trip. I have a feeling she's gonna be just fine with this nomadic lifestyle.

   This morning we did some grocery shopping at the Luray Walmart Supercenter and took Winnie for her first shopping cart ride. She seemed to enjoy the experience!

   Monday was Suzanne's birthday. Here she is at her workstation in the coach behind the bouquet of roses she got from Allie and Andy...

   It's overcast now and the forecast is calling for rain for the next few days. I have several projects I'd like to complete before rolling out of here next Tuesday morning. With a little cooperation from mother nature, maybe I won't get soaked in the process.

Thanks for checking out the blog.