Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Lucy Got Her Feet Weighed and More Friends and Food

Sunday morning, I crawled out of bed around 8:00, found my way to the coffee pot, poured a cup and fired up the netbook.The trains were really rocking Goshen that morning. There are approximately 84 trains that go through Goshen each 24 hours. Crazy huh? On Sunday, I think 80 of them did the run between 8:00 and 10:00 Smile  I usually read my mail and blogs in the morning while I have my coffee. This morning, there was an email from Howard and Linda asking if any of us in the area were interested in Happy Hour and a cook out later in the day. Well, sure! That sounds like fun!  So, the plan was made for everyone to show up about 5:00 with their choice of beverage and whatever else they wanted to share.  We had some  brats and buns in the freezer and I had the makings for a salad so we were all set.

I did a Walmart run after brunch to return a Redbox movie. It took us until a couple months ago to realize what a wonderful thing Redbox was! Wow! I have now officially seen more movies in the last 6 weeks than I’ve seen in the last 6 years! Pathetic, isn’t it?

While at Walmart, I grabbed some tortilla chips and salsa to take to the cookout as well as a bottle of wine for Happy Hour Smile I got to the checkout where the very nice lady said, “I’m sorry Ma’am, you can’t buy alcohol in Indiana on Sunday”. To which I said, “Wow! I come from the southern bible belt and even we can buy wine after noon on Sunday”. It wasn’t a very persuasive argument, apparently, and I left and she had my wine Sad smile Oh well, luckily, we had a bottle at home Smile

Later that day, we loaded the food, wine and our grill (for extra grilling space) and headed for Howard and Linda’s. We had a really nice group of people, Howard and Linda, Jim and Chris, Kathy and Ken, Robin and Kevin and Rick and I. A good time was had by all Smile

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Howard, Rick and Kathy

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Kevin, Robin and Ken

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Linda and Chris

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Kevin and Robin

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Our cooks, Howard and Rick

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Kevin and Robin brought dessert. The cake said “Dreams and Geeks”.

The next morning, Monday, we got up preparing to leave. But it was raining. The weather radar showed some nasty storms to the west of us-the direction we were headed-so we stayed another day Smile 

We still broke camp and met Howard and Linda for Lucy’s weigh in at 9:30. I am very pleased to announce that Lucy is doing quite well Smile Howard actually said that she was as well balanced as any he has weighed. Yay! That’s not to say we don’t have to do a little shifting, but it’s really just a little. I was concerned about our passenger rear corner. That’s where the W/D is located and also the freezer. We do have a little more weight on that corner than the opposing but now that it’s confirmed and we know what we’re looking at, we can shift cargo to even things out. And, it was no where as big a difference as I was afraid it might be Smile I’d have some pictures of the weighing, but I was told to get back in the rig!!! I had forgotten I had to be in there…I was part of the weight! Smile

We left Goshen this morning and are now in North Utica, Illinois. We are just here overnight, but  Hickory Hollow Campground is a very nice place and we’d definitely come back again.

That’s all I’ve got for this evening. Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

We are in Goshen, Indiana

Once we left the Buffalo area on Monday, we breezed through Ohio in 3 days only stopping twice. We’ll have to come back to explore this area because we did not give it the attention it deserved. One of the reasons we were rushing to Indiana was to have Lucy weighed by Howard and Linda of rv-dreams.com. Howard and Linda have recently partnered with RVSEF and are now offering 4 wheel weighing. We had Lucy weighed in April in NC. That was at a truck stop and only the front and rear axles were weighed. We knew we needed to weigh all  4 wheels but that’s easier said than done. There aren’t many places that do that. We need to know what our wheel weights are  so we can  be sure our tires are inflated properly and re-arrange/balance our load if necessary. We want to be as safe as we possibly can driving down the highway. Too many people are unaware of the impact they and their RV have on the highway. It can be very scary. We do not want to be one of those people :)

We arrived in Goshen, IN on Thursday afternoon and are parked at the Elkhart County Fairgrounds. We joined Howard and Linda for some coffee, dessert and conversation later that evening. It was nice visiting with them and getting to know them a little better. We’ve attended 2 of their rallies but this was the first time we’ve actually sat down and visited.

Friday found us driving around the area seeing what we might find :) We are, after all, in the RV capital of the country so thought we might be able to find a new ladder for Lucy. We’d like to replace the ladder that’s attached to the back of her. It is starting to crack at one of the anchor points. Rick uses this ladder to climb up on the roof so it should be safe. We tried RV Surplus in Elkhart, but the ladders they had were the wrong type. Then we tried the local Tiffin dealership. They had the lower part of the ladder, which we didn’t need, but not the upper.  Oh well. I’m sure we’ll find one eventually :) After a quick stop at Walmart, we headed home and took a short nap before dinner.

We joined Howard and Linda, Chris and Jim Guld of Geeks on Tour and another full-time couple staying at the Fairgrounds, Kevin and Robin, for dinner at Essenhaus in Middlebury. This is a typical Amish buffet and the food was excellent and plentiful. We all waddled away, totally stuffed :)

From L to R  is Rick, Chris, Jim, Robin, Kevin, Howard and Linda.

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Today, Saturday, we are doing domestic things like laundry, changing the water filters, paying some bills and going to the post office. Not exciting stuff but somebody has to do it :)  We are staying here until Monday morning. Howard and Linda will weigh Lucy just before we leave. Hopefully, we’ll have good news to report on that.

Have a nice weekend, everyone, and thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Niagara Falls

Several years ago we stopped to see Niagara Falls on our way through to another destination. On that trip, we parked on the street and viewed the Falls from the sidewalk. We were not impressed. We were expecting more. Everything was dirty, there was litter everywhere, it was not what we expected and we were very disappointed.

Fast forward several years (at least 20). Today, we made our second trip to Niagara Falls. This time we parked in a municipal lot, got a map and entered through the state park. What a difference! Not only did we see the Falls, we enjoyed the very beautiful park itself. It’s spectacular!

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I tried to get a few different angles. All these shots are from the US side. We didn’t realize, until we were almost there, that we had forgotten to bring our passports with us Sad smile That would have allowed us to cross to the Canadian side where I could have gotten even more pictures! Smile

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In the summer, approximately 675,000 gallons of water go over the Falls every single second. That just blows my mind.

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We took a tour, partially by trolley and partially by foot via the walking trails.

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It was a hot, sticky day and the mist from the falls would have felt wonderful. Unfortunately, the lines were very long, as shown below,  for any of the activities that would have gotten you up close and personal, so we just kept going. Smile

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We toured Goat Island and the 3 Sisters Islands. Everywhere you looked, there was gorgeous water views!

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We are so glad we came back for visit #2. It definitely changed our previous opinion of Niagara Falls.

Did you know that Niagara State Park is the oldest state park in the United States?

Thanks for stopping by and Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there Smile

Friday, June 17, 2011

Buffalo, NY

Thank you for all the nice comments left about Lucy and our breakdown. It was a little stressful but nothing major. We didn’t have to be anywhere. We were comfortable the entire time, in our own home, our own bed.  In other words, it was a minor, although expensive, inconvenience :) Oh well. Seriously, the worst part for me was not being able to use our aircard :) We were less than 1/2 mile from the Quebec border and I was scared I’d connect to a Canadian cell tower and make our little adventure more expensive! They had free wifi the first night we were there, but it went down after that and we never were able to connect again. The first thing I did after we were back on the road and about 10 miles from the border was to fire up the laptop! I have little problem with no TV, but I struggle with no internet :)

We drove as far as Herkimer NY once we were back on the road Wednesday. We stayed overnight at the Herkimer Diamond KOA. This is a very nice park; a little pricey, but very nice. It ran $47 a night which is not particularly out of line for this part of the country. It’s just higher than we’d prefer to pay.

Thursday, we continued on to the Buffalo area. We are staying at Colden Lakes Resort in Colden through the weekend. This is a nice park also. Our area  of the park is newly developed  so it’s pretty wide open with not much ambiance, but it’s a nice level site. The thing that won me over is the fact that  they have a most wonderful restaurant/bar on premises! We ate there last night and again today. The food was excellent and reasonable. What more could you ask for?

Today we had a very special visitor. My friend Marcie lives here and has for most of her life. She took a break for a few years and moved to Houston which is where we met. She became a very good and special friend and was my maid of honor when Rick and I married in 1985. She left and moved back to Buffalo around 1989. We left and moved to NC in 1992. We hadn’t seen each other in all those years until today.  We connected on Facebook  a year of so ago, so I contacted her when I knew we’d be coming through and she drove out to meet us. We pretty much spent the day together talking about old times, old friends and “what were we thinking?” experiences :) Believe it or not, we did some pretty dumb things in our younger  years :) Shhh! Don’t tell our kids!

Thanks, Marcie, for driving out here and reminiscing with us…it was wonderful and I do hope we can do it again, sooner rather than later :)

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Tomorrow we plan to visit Niagara Falls. It’ll be our second visit there but it’s been many years, so let’s see what we think on visit #2 :)   Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Tale of a Dead Lucy and our First Encounter with Coachnet

We rolled out of bed on Monday morning ready for the day ahead of us. We were leaving Iroquois Campground and heading further west. We had our coffee, read our email and blogs, jumped in the shower and by 10:00 we were both done with our respective checklists and it was time to leave. I always start Lucy and bring up the jacks while Rick disconnects us from shore power. We want  the alternator to be charging the house batteries before cutting power from the pedestal.

I turned the key and she turned over a couple slow, sluggish turns but didn’t start. Hmmm, that didn’t sound good. A second try proved even more futile. We both thought we must have a very low battery. Our coach is set up so that we can jump the chassis batteries with the house batteries, in an emergency, by holding down a switch while turning the key. When I tried that, I got absolutely nothing at all! Not even a click! We knew our house batteries had a full charge so they should have jumped the chassis batteries easily if that had been the problem. Further investigation showed that our chassis batteries also had a full charge. There was no battery issue. But, we did have a BIG issue of some kind! Lucy was dead :(

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While I notified the campground that we’d be leaving a bit late, Rick called Coachnet, our RV Road Service and explained our situation. After 20 questions, they connected him to Tech Support. A few more questions and they determined we needed to be towed to a Cummins Service Facility. Then the fun began :)  There was a Cummins authorized Peterbilt facility in Champlain, about 25 miles north of us. That was the easy part. There are no wreckers large enough to tow us anywhere in this area. They had to bring one in from Colchester, VT! Kudos to Coachnet for working with us until help could be found. It took a couple of hours for them to get to us, including a ferry ride over Lake Champlain. Then more fun :)  The coach suspension had to be aired up to raise it high enough to tow. We couldn’t air it up because we couldn’t start the engine. The driver crawled underneath and manually inflated the tanks with his compressor. There was much maneuvering going on at our camp site and we even drew a few bystanders  watching all the action :)

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Finally, at 4:00 PM Lucy was towed out of our site and taken to the shop. Of course, by the time we got there, it was almost 5:00 and they were all ready to leave for the day. They gave us a place to park where we could boondock for the night (for those unfamiliar with the term, boondocking is going without any hookups relying only on your batteries and generator for power) and said they’d see us in the morning :) Luckily for us, this is also a truck stop with a 24 hour restaurant and we were hungry. All that sitting around waiting all day worked up an appetite! Well, that and the fact we hadn’t had anything to eat since breakfast. Burgers, fries and onion rings really hit the spot! :)

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Tuesday morning they pulled us into the garage at 8:00 AM and it was determined that the starter was dead. (We had already figured that part out but they confirmed it) They removed the starter, but they didn’t have a replacement. They called around locally but no one had one in stock. They finally found one, I’m not sure where, and it was to be over-nighted and installed on Wednesday. That meant one more night boondocking in their parking lot. As we’d never boondocked before, this wasn’t such a bad thing. It gave us a much better idea how long our batteries would last and how long we needed to run the generator to recharge them. We found it wasn’t so hard to make do without hookups in a pinch. We might even try it again on purpose :)

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If you’re going to breakdown and be stuck at a service center for a couple of days, you could do worse than being stuck in the same town your brother and sister-in-law happen to live in :)  Linda had us over for dinner that night which was such a nice thing for her to do. She’s a teacher and Tuesday was her last teaching day of the year. Instead of coming home, putting her feet up and celebrating, she cooked for us! How nice was that? Thanks, Linda!

Wednesday morning, the waiting game started. One of the mechanics told Rick that the overnight deliveries usually get in around 11:00 or 12:00. So, we made ourselves comfortable and read our Kindles all morning. About 11:30 we felt a thump and then some shaking. They were working on us! Yay! By 11:50, the new starter was installed. We turned the key and Lucy came right to life :) Actually, Lucy had never come to life that quickly before. This was instantaneous. Maybe the starter was going out for awhile and we just didn’t know it. After settling the bill, filling up with diesel and hitching the Jeep, we were back on the road at 12:40.

And that is the story of a dead Lucy…now reborn and better than ever! :) Not to mention her 2 very happy occupants!

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

au revoir, arrivederci, adios, hasta la vista, baby

It’s time to say good-bye to family and this part of NY state. We have enjoyed our time here but it’s time to move on. The hitch-itch has kicked in :)

We said our good-byes today, enjoyed a wonderful lunch, played some cards and ate some more. It was a very nice day and great ending to our visit here.

Tomorrow we move on. We are headed west through Northern Ohio, Indiana and Illinois on our way to Wisconsin to visit more family :)  It’s always nice to be with family, chill a bit and just kick back. We will definitely come back to Iroquois Campground the next time we are in this area. We really liked this park and it makes a great home base while we’re here.

The plan is to get to Herkimer, NY tomorrow. That is around the Utica area. After that, we head towards Buffalo.

That’s all I’ve got for today. Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Short Ferry Ride to Vermont

This morning, for lack of anything better to do, we took the ferry to Vermont. We usually do this at least once while we’re here. Although Vermont is a next door neighbor, in this part of New York, the 2 states are separated by the very large Lake Champlain. There is a way to drive around to get there, but it’s much shorter and quicker to take one of the ferries. Due to the flooding, only one of the ferry terminals in the area was operating-Cumberland Head.  The others are closed, some under water. As we drove to the ferry dock, we passed Cumberland Bay State Park. What you’re seeing here used to be a campground. Sorry for the picture quality. I took these as we were driving by through the Jeep windows.

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There were sandbags all along the edges of the properties on this road. It looked like it may have helped some, but not all. We arrived at the ferry terminal, bought our round trip ticket ($25 r/t for 2 people and the Jeep) and got in line.

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It took no time at all and we were boarding the ferry.

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The trip takes all of 12 minutes. Here is Vermont from across the lake. It was very hazy and windy, so it was difficult to get a clear photo. Seas were a little rough but not horrible and it wasn’t raining, so all was good Smile

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As we approached Grand Isle, VT we could see the reconstruction they had started since this terminal had also flooded out.

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It was easier to see when we got off the ferry. There were gravel piles and wheel barrows and construction equipment everywhere. It appeared that the road we got off on was a new temporary solution. Once on the highway, it was obvious that the Vermont side was in no better condition than the New York side. Water was up to the roads but, at least, no longer OVER the roads. The lake level on Lake Champlain is at the highest ever recorded. Mother Nature has sure done a number on the U.S. this spring, hasn’t she?

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As we got a bit further from Lake Champlain, the terrain just looked lush and green.

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This area is very close to Burlington, VT. Our destination in Vermont was Costco Smile Although New York has several Costco stores, 99% of them are in NY City or close by. We are several hours north of NYC, so that didn’t help us any. Vermont has one Costco which is in Colchester, just outside Burlington. This had to be the busiest Costco I have ever been in! Rick said it raised his stress level just being in there and trying to avoid running someone over…or being run over! We were able to get what we came for, check out and get it all neatly stashed in the Jeep. Then we went back in to see if we could get new passport photos taken as it’s time to renew. That 10 years sure went by fast! Too bad you can’t use the same picture. I looked 10 years younger on the old one Smile The photo department was not anywhere near as busy as the rest of the store. In about 15 minutes we were finished and paid.  Unfortunately, while we were smiling for the camera, the sky opened up! It was pouring like crazy and didn’t look like it was going to stop for awhile. Neither of us had an umbrella but it’s doubtful one would have helped. Even if we could have gotten to the Jeep, it was pouring too hard to drive. So…time for lunch! We hit the Costco snack bar, got one of their big honkin’ hotdogs and a drink and found a place to sit until the rain stopped and the sun returned.

Driving back to the ferry, we were enticed to stop for gas. It was exciting to see Unleaded for $3.849 a gallon! Our last fill-up in NY was $4.019. Now, that’s for the Jeep. Don’t get me started on Diesel! Smile Stopping for gas also gave me the opportunity to get my ‘picture of the day’. I thought this was a cute play on words for an antique shop. I did not go in. I can’t buy anything in a place like that that would fit in Lucy!

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That pretty much sums up our day. We came home and had a delicious dinner of Costco roasted chicken, one of THE very best reasons for going there! Smile

That’s it for today. Thanks for stopping by.