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!

Monday, June 4, 2018

The Adventure Continues...

  When I last blogged we had just arrived at Old Mill Stream RV Park in Lancaster, PA.  Suzanne and I have been to this part of the country several times camping with the kids - and later, while attending three or four annual motorcycle rallies held in Intercourse, PA. It was during one of these rallies, having taken Suzanne for a ride on a friends Harley Ultra Classic, that I phoned Moroney's HD in Newburgh, NY and ordered my first Ultra Classic. Good memories.
  The RV park was nice enough - very well maintained and well laid out. We were lucky to find a spot at all as it was Memorial Day weekend and the 5 other parks I called prior to OMS were completely booked! An Amish family rode through the park in a horse drawn wagon a couple of times each day selling preserves. I wanted to buy something but the one time I spotted them as they neared our site I was sitting outside with Travis. He was getting a little too excited about the approaching equine and I didn't want him spooking the poor creature so I had to stay with him, maintaining a calm and submissive demeanor throughout (yes, I've watched the Dog Whisperer).
   We had a late lunch/early dinner one afternoon at Good 'N Plenty , a family style authentic Pennsylvania Dutch restaurant in Lancaster. Sharing our table was a family visiting the area in their two motorhomes - grandparents in one, their son and his wife and their two young daughters in the other. Needless to say, conversation centered around motor coaches, experiences on the road, where to stay, where not to stay, where not to go for repairs etc. It was an enjoyable meal.
   In my last blog I wrote about the somewhat precarious nature of the site we were in and how it caused the coach to list pretty severely to the driver's side when I entered. I was a little concerned about backing out. At a certain point, while entering the site, gravity took over and I just allowed the coach to kind of coast into position. Backing out was going to require a bit of velocity to avoid spinning the tires and just the right angle to avoid bottoming out. After wiggling around a little to position the coach at the proper angle, we were up and out without incident.

   Our next destination was Scotrun (which we referred to as Scrotum), PA. A little town in the Poconos, just off I-80 and a couple miles northwest of Stroudsburg, it seemed like a good spot to spend a few days on our way to the Berkshires.
   In short, it was a disappointment.
   Being a Passport America park, at $21/night the price was right. However, the park was run down with many full-time residents and many old, tarp covered trailers (presumably covering leaky roofs). We had no sewer hookup and only 30 amp electrical service. With a 105 gallon gray water tank and a 53 gallon black water tank, the lack of a sewer connection wasn't really an issue. We only had to run the a/c for a couple hours after arrival so the 30 amp service wasn't really an issue either (I can run one of the two a/c zones on 30 amps). But we've gotten used to having both sewer and 50 amp electric - and accustomed to taking leisurely showers and not worrying about electrical consumption.  In addition, our Verizon signal was abysmal, there was no cable hookup and the only over-the-air TV channels I was able to pull in were three 'come to Jesus' stations. With my phone placed in the right orientation we had just enough Verizon signal to stream Netflix and binge watch Mad Men.
   We were anxious to leave.
   We did, however, have a couple very good meals. One at Smuggler's Cove where I had crab stuffed cod and Suzanne had some sort of beef special (who has beef at a place called 'Smuggler's Cove'?) and another at Pocono Brewery Co. where I sampled two of their brews (a stout and a strawberry ale) and Suzanne had two glasses of Chardonnay (again, who drinks Chardonnay at a brewery? She's a little different).

   We departed Scotrun on Friday a little past 11:00 am, stopping at one point somewhere along Rt.7 in Massachusetts for an hour so Suzanne could participate in an important conference call she had scheduled, and arriving at Bonnie Brae Campground in Pittsfield, Ma. at 6:15 pm.
   Bonnie Brae is a charming little campground on a hill on the eastern shore of Pontoosuc Lake. It's a small campground and it was a bit of a challenge getting our 43' coach into our site. In fact, I had to have Suzanne stand outside and push back on a big branch that otherwise would have scratched along the side of the coach.  As was the case in Scotrun, we only have a 30 amp electric service but the weather has been such that we haven't had to run the a/c. We do, however, have sewer.
   On Saturday we visited Herman Melville's Arrowhead, his home from 1850 to 1863. We had a very interesting tour of the house and grounds and I even got to sit at the very desk where Herman Melville penned his greatest novel, Moby Dick!

   Melville's upstairs study...

   Though you can't see it in the photo, the window affords a perfect view of Mount Greylock, the highest point in the state of Massachusetts and the shape of which reminded Melville of a great whale! He used the mountain as inspiration while writing his epic novel.
  Kind of cool, right?
  Sunday we visited Hancock Shaker Village, a former Shaker village established in 1791. It was a beautiful day for this fascinating walking tour. My favorite thing was the water powered wood working shop and the water turbine demonstration.

   While in Scotrun I decided to buy a Black Card membership at Planet Fitness which, for $21.99/month gives me access to all their facilities nationwide. Quite often, during our travels, it seems like there is a Planet Fitness not far from where we're staying. Though it's my least favorite form of cardio vascular exercise, I often jog while we're on the road. I much prefer going to the gym and for a $1.00 membership fee and $21.99 a month, it seemed like a pretty good deal. There's one here in Pittsfield where I worked out yesterday and will head there again after finishing this entry.

   We'll be here at Bonnie Brae until Thursday morning when we will haul anchor and head for Colbrook RV Resort in Barre, Ma. and look forward to my nephew Nick's wedding on Saturday.

   Thanks for reading the Blog!