Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Blog shutdown

There isn't much to write about now with all the work done, legal domicle transfer and such, so I won't be blogging for the next few weeks.  I have some things to work on for the next couple weeks that won't be that interesting to write about, so I won't bore you by doing so.

I should be back on line in 2-3 weeks, so check by in then.

Take care and thanks for reading my blog.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Paperwork & New Recipe

Today was the day to clean out a lot of outdated and useless paperwork.  We keep records back 5 years for tax purposes and keep our tax filing papers forever.  It is amazing how much paper accumulates in a year and we carry 2 years of data with us when we are on the road.  Not a very exciting or interesting job and we put it off as long as we can.  Neither of us likes this task, but it has to be done.

Gerry fixed a new meal this evening and doesn't know what to call it.  She mixed chicken, carrots, rice, celery, onions, garlic powder, pepper and a can of cream of chicken soup.  She made it into a casserole and it turned out great.  Now she has to come up with a name for the recipe and can't decide on what to call it.  Any suggestions?

She has other recipes that she calls gobbly gook, batwings, and other tasty names.  Batwings are strips of steak, onions and teriyaki pan seared.  When we were in Abidjan a friend of Larry Jr's  wanted to spend the night and asked if he could do so.  A quick call to his mother confirmed it was ok and he was good to go.  When it came time for dinner he asked what we were having.  Batwings!  You should have seen the look on his face.  They had huge fruit bats in Abidjan and he thought we were having them.  Gerry led him on for a few minutes until he started to turn green.  Then she told him what they really were.  I bet he never forgot that meal.

It was a beautiful day up here on the mountain with a slight breeze and cool temperatures.  We didn't have the a/c on all day and were comfortable.  This is how we remember the cabin from years past before we had an a/c.   It is about to change with more rain in the forecast for the next few days.

There was an article on the internet about a Pennsylvania man killing three people and escaping with his 4 year old daughter.  I see so much of this lately and didn't bother to read it.  Then on the news tonight I saw where all this happened in Quincy, PA which is about 10 miles from us.  It's a very small town and only has a few stores and houses.  What a shock to hear that it happened there and not in some big city.  It happened very near where I rented the gas powered polesaw a couple weeks ago.  

I read a number of blogs and notice that most of them are about shut down for the summer.  They are mostly blogs by snowbirds and fulltime rvers.  The ones still on the road are interesting, but like my blog the others don't really have that much exciting to write.  I hope that will change when we get back on the road in about 7 weeks.  

As everyone knows the Olympics are going on in London and are being shown on NBC.  I used to look forward to the Olympics but they haven't been for amateur athletics for so long that I have lost interest.  There is so much politics and money involved now that it destroys the sport.  I just read where India is spending $15 billion dollars to get ready for the Olympics there in 2016.  I wonder what the ticket prices will be then?

I haven't included a picture lately so this one of a beautiful butterfly will have to do for a while.

Friday, July 27, 2012

End of a Era

Maryland issues license plates and then each year thereafter you pay for a sticker to show when the plates expire.  We bought our first motor home license plate in June, 1995 and they have been on our two previous motor homes since that time.  Now that we have South Dakota plates, it was time to turn in the no longer needed Maryland plates.  So, it was off to the MD DMV office on a Friday afternoon to complete this task.  We were both thinking the DMV office would be swamped with people, however there were just a few ahead of us in line.  Handed in the registration and plates and we were out of there.  Plus, we get a refund since the plates are renewed two years at a time.

We decided to celebrate and have dinner at the Outback Steakhouse and treat ourselves to a nice meal.  We got there early enough to grab a seat at the bar and have a happy hour drink.  The bartender noticed a booth opened up behind us in the bar area and said bar customers have first choice on the booths and didn't have to wait to be called by the pager.  Good deal.  Back went the pager and we were seated in no time.   The meal was great, but we couldn't eat it all and brought back lunch for Saturday in a doggie bag.  We also ordered Key Lime Pie, but brought it back also for later.  

We visited with Jack for a while and headed back to the cabin to get to bed and catch up on our rest.   The trip took more out of us than expected and we went to bed early.

That was our exciting day, how was yours?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Back at the cabin

We were moving very slowly this morning and ambled down to the breakfast room at the motel.  There was a group of young baseball players from Kentucky ahead of us in line.  They were in Richmond, IN for a Babe Ruth baseball tournament with the winner advancing to Utah for the final games.  One player said they were 13-15 yr old and a couple looked like they could have been 18 or older.  They were a polite and respectable group and it was a pleasure to see them.  We wished them good luck in their game today against a team from Michigan.

We finally were on the road around 9:30am and heading east on I-70.  We made really good time driving and arrived in Zanesville, OH in time to do some shopping at the pottery stores.  I won't say what we bought, but our oldest daughter is going to be happy with the purchase.  Sorry about that Henry!

They were calling for some severe weather in the area and I was anxious to get back on the road before it started.  As we headed east on I-70 our luck ran out with a 5-6 mile backup and traffic down to one lane for construction.  We finally got through that only to run into another backup a few miles down the road.  This one wasn't so bad and we made it through there without too much delay.

The two delays got us into Wheeling, WV just as the skies opened up and dumped about 2-3 inches of rain on us.  It was raining so hard that the big trucks even slowed down.  We had the windshield wipers on full blast and it was very difficult to see around.  The emergency flashers were on also and that helped others to see us.  It rained like that for a few miles and then eased up.  Later in PA it rained so hard that we got off the interstate and stopped at a small gas station.  It was full of cars trying to avoid driving in the heavy  rain.  We left after 20 minutes and drove slow to let the rain clouds move east of us.  

We had another heavy downpour the last 30 miles as we approached the cabin.  One road was shut down due to a very bad accident.  We used the GPS to navigate on country roads around the accident and get back on a major road.  No problem.

Right now we are just about ready to hit the hay and sleep in as long as we can in the morning.

We drove 2800 miles in 6 days and completed all the work we had in Sioux Falls.  There was also some time devoted to geocaching and just being tourists.  The car ran fine and we averaged 27mpg on the trip and that was a pleasant surprise also.

Not much else to report, so good night all.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Long Boring drive

We got into Des Moines a little late last night and by the time we got to bed, it was even later.  We had to drag our tired old bodies out of bed early again today so we could get on the road.  We had breakfast of waffles and syrup, plus coffee (lots of coffee) and finished getting ready to get out of there.

It was a long 10 hour drive today and we covered 560 miles with two stops for fuel and lunch.  One rest area stop also was on the agenda and it was one of the nicest rest areas we have seen.  Very nice decor, open and spacious.

I wish there was something interesting to say about today, but nothing comes to my mind.  We did drive about 80 miles on backroads to avoid Indianapolis during their rush hour.  There some interesting small towns on the way and we enjoyed seeing them with vibrant main streets.  At least some of these towns are doing something right.

One more day and we will be back at the cabin.  Then we will sleep in a couple days and back to work and on the road again to North Carolina.  

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Geocaching & Trip Back

We got up early once again and started on finishing up our business here in Sioux Falls, SD.  Gerry ran into a minor glitch and was able to work around it and we got our South Dakota drivers licenses and tags for the motorhome.  Long story, but will tell it later.

After all the paperwork was finished we decided to pick up a few geocaches in the area and head back to Maryland.  It was a 4-fer day for us with geocaches found in Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa.  That is a first for us finding caches in 4 states in one day.

The last cache was found at the Freedom Rock in central Iowa near exit 86 on I-80.  An artist has painted this huge rock for the last 8 years or so honoring our armed forces personnel.  The rock sits along the side of the highway and there is a small kiosk and a picnic table with a cover over it.  It was well worth the small detour to see the rock and the area.   You can read more about the rock at www.freedomrock.com.

We had planned on stopping at the rock on our way back and our friend Gloria reminded us that it was worth seeing also.  We fully agree with her on this subject.

Gerry and I have been through Iowa a number of times, but were pleasantly surprised this time to see how beautiful the state is in the western part.  The gently rolling hills are covered with soybean and cornfields and have neat designs.  There are also some very beautiful farm houses that you can see from the interstate.

We hadn't planned on driving back to Des Moines since we left so late from Sioux Falls, but there aren't a lot of motels in the western part of the state and most of them were full by the time we got around to stopping.  So, we drove back to Des Moines and will leave here in the morning for Ohio.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Sioux Falls & Elk Horn

We had another early morning wake up and a quick breakfast at the motel.  Gerry was happy to see they had waffles and we both stuffed ourselves with them.

A quick stop for a geocache and picked it up fairly quickly.  It was in a parking lot where they has signs saying parking was $50/hr for those not eating in their restaurant.  We were almost afraid to even stop and get the cache.

We were back on I-80 early and made very good time with the cruise control on 73 mph for long periods of time.   There were two construction zones where it was down to one lane, but it wasn't a problem.  There weren't any workers present for the 5-10 mile stretches of road they had down to one lane.  

We saw signs for a Danish Windmill at Elk Horn, IA and decided to check it out.  Elk Horn is about 5 miles off I-80 but there was a good two lane road leading there.   Evidently Elk Horn was settled by Danish immigrants around the 1840s and there are a lot of Danish flags and shops around.  They had a very large Danish Immigrant Museum and we went to check it out, but it was so hot outside we decided to just admire it from the car.

Danish Immigrant Museum
 The Danish Windmill is now an Iowa Welcome center and it was housed in the windmill that dated back to 1848.  It was in great shape and still looked like it could be made operational easily.

Danish Windmill
Thirty years ago the crazy dream of Harvey Sornson of reconstructing an 1848 Danish Windmill in Elk Horn was in full swing. It took one year and 300 volunteers to rebuild and restore the now 158 year old mill back to life. 
The Danish Mill Corporation Board of Directors has recently taken on a project to further demonstrate its Danish heritage and entertain its many visitors. The construction of a VikingHjem (Viking home) on the windmill’s grounds will offer tourists a chance to really take a step back in time. The two structures, the Mill and the VikingHjem, will complement one another through their historical significance.

The Danish community of Elk Horn, Iowa offers tourists a taste of the Old World with no passport required. The town’s Danish heritage is showcased by the 1800s authentic Danish Windmill. You can take a guided tour of the Windmill which starts with a 15 minute video, and then you can climb to the top and see the shuttered sails, grinding stones, and gearing made of wood and iron cogs. See how it all works together to grind wheat and rye flours with wind as they did 150 years ago.

The new VikingHjem demonstrates a typical structure used throughout Scandinavia and Northern Europe during the latter Dark Ages to the early Middle ages. You can experience the life of a Viking Smithy in 900 A.D. from the blacksmith shop and woodworking area to the demonstrations and lectures.

We arrived in Sioux Falls in time to tour the city a little bit.  We were surprised to hear there are around 200,000 residents in the area.  It has a vibrant downtown area and looks to be a booming town.  What a difference between Galesburg, IL and Sioux Falls, SD.

A trip to the Falls that was the center of the city was first on our agenda.  There is a beautiful park around the falls and they have partially restored the old mill and power station that were at the base of the falls.  Once again it was too hot to tour that much, but we did get out and get some pictures of the Big Sioux River and the falls.  The falls are carved out of quartzite that is harder than granite.   Many buildings in Sioux Falls are made out of the quartzite stones.

I included pictures of Gerry and me to prove we were actually here.

It was a short drive of 280 miles today and hardly any traffic so we made excellent driving time.  

Since we left Maryland, we have crossed the following major U.S. rivers:  Potomac, Ohio, Wabash, Illinois, Mississippi and soon to cross the Missouri river into Nebraska.  I need to pick up a geocache there to add to the list.  Funny the things we do to amuse ourselves.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

On the road day 2

We got up early again and enjoyed a nice breakfast at the hotel.  The hotel is converting to a Motel 8 the 1st of August and will discontinue the free breakfast.  That is too bad since it is apparent a lot of people stop because they do have a nice breakfast buffet.

We took 5 minutes out of our drive to pick up a geocache that was at the Cracker Barrel restaurant next door.  It was an easy find and we signed the log and hit the road.

We stopped in Galesburg, IL to get some gas and a Dairy Queen fix for Gerry.  We were surprised to see how run down and sad looking Galesburg is now.  It looks like it may have been nicer in the past, but not now.  Sad and depressing.  The main street is basically dead and businesses have moved out of town, which is typical of many small towns in America now. 

We did take time out to visit Carl Sandburg's birthplace in Galesburg.   Sandburg was a poet and historian and born in the three room cottage shown below on Jan 6, 1878.  He was the son of a Swedish immigrant railroad worker.  Carl attended Lombard College in Galesburg, and his first poetry was published in this town.  He later became a journalist and prolific author.  First gaining prominence in Chicago. his Complete Poems and a biography, Abraham Lincoln, The War Years won pulitizer prizes.  He also wrote a novel, an autobiography, children's stories and folksongs.  After his death in 1967, his ashes were buried beneath Remembrance Rock behind his birthplace.

We continued on down the road after that and stopped near Grinnell, IA at a rest stop and saw these two plaques about the history of Grinnell.  I thought they were interesting and thought I'd share them with you.

We are starting to feel like Sherwin & Linda after driving 580 miles today.   Monday will be a shorter day of only 285 miles and we should have a chance to look around Sioux Falls a little and see if they have anything touristy to check out.

That's all folks.  

Saturday, July 21, 2012

On the road again.

We got up early this morning to put a blanket on the bed.  It got so cold last night that we were freezing.  No joke.  The temps must have been in the middle 50s around 6am.   

We finished up some last minute chores and loaded the car for our trip to Sioux Falls, SD.  It was raining and 60 degrees when we left and never got above 72 degrees until we got near Columbus, Ohio.  Other than the rain showers being heavy at times, it was a great day to be on the road.  We drove over 500 miles and stopped for the night in Richmond, IN at a hotel near the Cracker Barrel restaurant. 

Nothing much else to write about unless you want me to make up some stories.  Sunday night we hope to be in Des Moines, IA and on into Sioux Falls by Monday night.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Wheel Balancing

Our front tires needed balancing so I called and went in to have it done today.  The tires were pretty well worn so I decided to get new tires for the Saturn.  The original tires were made by Bridgestone, but they no longer manufacture this particular tire.  I wound up getting two new Uniroyal tires and had them installed.

While the wheels were off I checked the brake shoes and they were worn down almost to a nub.  Ok, lets get some brake shoes and get this car back on the road.  My, the dollars sure do seem to flow easily the last month or so.  I have spent all my communion money and then some.  Cost of doing business. 

I checked it out and everything seems to be working well for our trip this weekend.  We leave Saturday for Sioux Falls, South Dakota and will be changing our legal domicile as mentioned in an earlier post.  We have an 11am appointment on Tuesday with the mail forwarding company and hope to get all the paper work done and obtain our driver's licenses and tags for the motor home and car.

We had a nice little storm come through here again for the 3rd night in a row.  This one wasn't as windy as last night, but we got a nice downpour for an hour or so.  We sure don't need any more rain up here and the humidity is really up there.  At least we aren't suffering through the unbearable heat of a week or so ago.

One of my readers took the time to correct me on a spelling error in yesterday's blog.  I had spelled backhoe incorrectly and being an old retired school teacher, she pointed out my mistake.  Thanks.  She really isn't old, but was a school teacher.  Her identity will have to remain a secret to protect her from any wrath of other readers.  (This was written with tongue in cheek)

Slow day for blogging, but some days are like that.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Duct tape & Plumbing

We've had problems with the plumbing at the cabin for the last 5 years and had it worked on a number of times by different plumbing companies.  It had gotten so bad that it was impossible to live with and work around, so I called a local plumbing company and had them come out today with the hope they would do the job right.

In the past they would want to roto-rooter out the pipes and say the job was done.  Wrong!  It would work for a while and then back to the old ways.  When I called them I made it clear I didn't want the pipes cleaned out, I wanted them replaced.  Even then it was difficult getting the workman to understand the problem.  He still wanted to trouble shoot it and try the clean out.  I explained that was not what I wanted and he finally came to the conclusion that the pipe was broken.

He started to dig to find the pipe coming from the septic tank into the cabin and after an hour of digging he hadn't made much progress.

About this time I realized he wouldn't be able to find the pipe and if he did find it, the job was much bigger than he realized.  I asked if they had a backhoe to help dig the pipe out and the light came on with him.  Yep, he called for help and another worker showed up and a little while later this guy shows up.  Of course, he asked how in the world did we ever find this place in the first place.

He sized up the situation and off loaded the backhoe and came chugging over.  I sure would love to have one of those to play with and move dirt around.  Anyway, he seemed to know his stuff and figured out how large our septic system was and then began to clear the dirt away from the side where the plumbing pipe came in.  It was at least 3 1/2 ft down, much to everyone's surprise and the pipe was indeed broken and the soil soaked from being blocked. 

Backhoe in action

The original plumbing pipe was very thin and had broken in a number of places.  We think it was broken under the cabin also, so the new pipe was put in just above ground and then dropped lower as it got closer to the septic tank.  It has a good slope and runs cleanly and I think that solved our problem.  You can see the white pipe in the view below as it enters the septic system.

By now you may be wondering what duct tape has to do with all of this.  One of the previously mentioned attempts at a remedy for the problem was by wrapping duct tape around a hole in the pipe.  That part was intact, but the rest of the pipe was broken in many places.  So much for that earlier company's repair job!

They also installed an air vent to supply air to the pipes.  The workers were amazed that the septic system even worked without the air supply.  Now we have a pretty white pipe running up to the roof of the cabin.  I wonder how long it will take for Gerry to want the pipe painted red to match the cabin.  (Comment from Gerry - I already thought of that.)

Now the difficult part ahead of us is paying the bill for all of this work.  Plumbers aren't cheap and excavating equipment and operators are not cheap, either.  In any case, it had to be done and done right, so whatever the cost, it will be worth it.  I may have to set up a Paypal account so all my loyal readers and friends can chip in to help me in my time of need.  Ya, right.

I would ask "what next", but I am afraid to even ask.  

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The big baby is home.

Today was the day we went to pick up the Bus at the Cummins shop in Harrisburg, PA.  It's been there since June 28 waiting for parts and when the parts came in, a truck driver damaged the mirror and it had to be replaced.  Would you like to see what a $1,000 mirror looks like?

It was scraped enough to remove the chrome and also bent the mirror shaft enough to make it unusable.  Penske Trucking paid for the replacement and repair, much to their dismay.  They were used to truck mirror repairs but didn't have any idea of the cost of a mirror for a motor home.

We picked up the motor home and brought it back to the cabin.  I had some doubts about actually being able to bring it back here in the woods and getting it parked.  The branch trimming the last week or so paid off and we were able to carefully drive it down the narrow & curvy lane approaching the cabin.  Parking it in the pad was a little more difficult, but we had cleared trees and stumps enough to make it fit.  It's all hooked  up to water and electric and ready to serve us well.  It's a relief that stuff is behind us and we can take a little break.

The temporary tags had expired on Saturday and I drove it back with the expired tags on the motor home.  I didn't have much choice in the matter and just took it easy and obeyed all the speed limits and rules of the road.  No problem.  A couple years ago I drove the previous motor home over 6 months on expired tags; however, that was because I didn't know they were expired.  The renewal came in before we got back in the summer and was lost in all the mail we had waiting for us.  We were in Texas when the discovery was made and Gerry called the Maryland DMV right away and ordered the tags and explained the situation.  They said there wasn't a problem and they would mail the tags to us at our Maryland address.  They also sent a temporary registration to my email address and said to use that if I had a problem. 

Gerry discovered her camera could take 3-D pictures today and I snapped this one of the road leading out of South Mountain.  I stopped in the middle of the road to get the picture just to see what it looks like.  I'm not sure if the details will show on the computer, but it looks great on mine.  This stretch of road is in the Michaux State Forest and is heavily wooded.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Car search

No more tree trimming or cutting today for us.  We are finally finished with that chore for this year.  It's about time that is all behind us and I'm glad.

Not that we didn't have another chore for today that was even more unpleasant than cutting trees.  The plumbing in the cabin has been a problem for the last few years and today was the day to work on it.  I have a snake and ran it through the pipes, but there still is a problem.  I think the tree roots have gotten in the pipe and is clogging it up.  I've tried to get a plumber to come out and work on it, but nobody is interested in the repair.  It looks like this is the case of if you want it done right, do it yourself.  Anyone interested in helping out?   Naw, I didn't think so.

We ran a few errands and wound up at a car dealership to see if they had any GMC Terrains on the lot.  There were a couple there, but nothing that interested us.  We did see this beauty of a used car there and I don't know if it is for sale or not.  What do you think, would it be a good buy?  Check it out.

We decided to go out for dinner and went to one of our favorite places in the area.  The Ott House in Emmitsburg has the coldest Yuengling beer on tap and they make a great crab cake sandwich.  I ordered my old standby Club sandwich and we had an appetizer of hot wings.  They coat/glaze the hot wings in a sweet sauce and they melt in your mouth.  

The Ott House is always busy with firemen who are attending classes at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg.  The restaurant provides transportation between the Academy and the restaurant free of charge.  As expected, there is a lot of talk about fire fighting and such.  

Check it out if you are in Emmitsburg around lunch or dinner time.  It's a neat place. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Rain Dance

Today was the big day to cut down the 60ft tree that was in the way of parking the motor home.  It wasn't that big of a tree in diameter, but was about the size of a telephone pole and straight as an arrow.  It had a slight lean and I decided to drop it the way it leaned.  After careful calculations and measurements, it was time to take it down.   Luckily, it fell where I wanted it to fall and stopped about a foot from taking out Gerry's clothes line.  Like I said above, careful calculations, etc.

Jack and I started to cut it into fireplace lengths as quickly as possible since it fell across the road.  There is only one couple living down the road and they were gone for the day, but I wanted to finish it quickly.  After cutting it up the kids loaded the firewood into the back of Cassie & Jack's pickup truck and then stacked it in the firewood area.  Another job well done.

Meanwhile, Gerry was up to her pyro tricks again today and burning more old branches.  She had a blazing fire going and was making great progress when the thunder started up.  Then it started to rain once again and I think Gerry has some magical powers to call in the rain whenever she starts a fire.  It was a short rain and the fire kept going, so after it stopped she began to feed the fire again.  Later on after dinner it really came down cats and dogs for a half hour or more.  So much for the fire after that downpour..

All the above managed to take us about 4 hours and shoot down Sunday once again.  We finally are ready to bring the motor home up to the cabin and hopefully pick it up on Tuesday.  It should be ready on Monday, but we have plans for then and can't take the time to go there and bring it back home.   We will be able to wash clothes and have access to stuff in the motor home.  It is amazing how many times we need something and it's in the motor home.  We have most of what we really need here at the cabin so it hasn't been that difficult..

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Stump Work

By now I am sure everyone is getting tired of tree trimming and motorhome stuff.  So, tonight you are in for a real treat.  Change of subject is in store for you.

Today was stump removal day at the cabin.  We had some trees cut down a few years ago and they left the stumps showing from 6 to 18 inches above the ground.  Of course these stumps are right in the path of parking the motorhome in the pad.  Three stumps to be exact.  You would think that 3-5 year old stumps would have rotted out by now, but that isn't he case.  We had to dig out around the stumps and then use the chain saw to cut them down level with the ground.  What a job that was.  The center of the oak stumps were as hard as rocks and were a pain to cut through holding the chain saw level.  My how I wished I had some dynamite to speed up the process, but what I had was about 3 gallons of sweat rolling off of me.

Jack helped me with this job and was worn out about as much as I was.  We had to finally use an axe, sledgehammer, maul and muscle power to finish the job.  Once again, I am in awe of the pioneers who cleared acres of trees with primitive tools and planted their crops.  What a task that was for them.

Gerry worked right along side of us and was raking and clearing the area where the motorhome needs to turn around.  She also held the maul while we whacked on it with the hammer.  Brave girl!  Then she went in the cabin and prepared a delicious home made hamburger Stroganoff dinner with noodles.  We had a salad and used some of the romaine lettuce that a neighbor gave us a couple days ago.    

The next job is to cut down a 60 ft tree and cut it into fireplace logs.  The tree is also right in the path of parking the motorhome and has to go.  I just hope that the chain saw isn't too dull to cut after tackling the stumps.

The other day we started a bonfire to burn a lot of branches and the sudden rain storm put an end to that.  The branches had dried out somewhat and we finished burning the junk today.  It took almost 6 hours of burning to finish the task, but that phase is finished.  Sunday will see us back out there burning more branches and cleaning up around the cabin.

I don't know why we do this every year since all the stuff reappears again in the spring time.  Must be a reason, but I haven't found out what it is yet.

That was our day, how was yours?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Dinner, Bikes, Trek and Phone calls

We had a very busy and interesting day and most of it wasn't planned. It started off with our starting the only planned chore on our long list of things to be done. We have to level three tree stumps and that was high on our list to be finished. We made a lot of progress on the first stump and then all our plans went out the window.

Our contact at the Cummins repair garage called us to say the final part came in to fix the radiator fan, but the extended warranty people hadn't called back to authorize the repair. They tend to be very slow when their money is being spent and quick when you owe them; much like the government tax collectors. After a series of phone calls to various people we finally got the ok for the repairs to begin. They should be finished by Friday with that part of the work.

The extended warranty people are balking at paying for a drive shaft for the radiator fan repair saying it is an upgrade. Since they don't make the part any longer for the old fan motor and the new one only takes a shorter shaft, I don't see how it could be considered an upgrade. I have read many horror stories on the internet about rvers having to deal with these companies and all the tricks they pull to not pay for repairs. I made a call to Lazydays, who sold us the warranty, to see what they could do in this regard. More to follow.

As mentioned in a previous posting, the mirror was broken. The trucking company responsible said they had authorized the repair and the ball was in Cummins' court. Only thing is, Cummins never received the authorization from them. More phone calls and finger pointing and I think we have that resolved, also. The mirror was ordered and should be in Friday. Just in case you were wondering, the mirror is in the $700 range. Don't mess up diesel pusher mirrors unless you have a desire to part with your money.

Our son-in-law from North Carolina called us and since he was in York, PA, wanted to see if we could meet him for dinner in Gettysburg, Since it is bike week there, I suggested we meet in New Oxford which is between York & Gettysburg. It was closer for him and only 30 miles from us, so we had dinner at Scozzaro's Restaurant in New Oxford. We all enjoyed the meal and sat around and talked for a couple hours. It was great to see him and get a chance to catch up on the happenings with the family down there. He has an appointment east of Harrisburg in the morning and then will make the long drive back to the Charlotte area. He is also know as FSILINC. For those who read the blog comments, you may have seen that used in the past. Great guy. We enjoyed the visit FSILINC.

The drive there took longer than we expected since it was bike week in Gettysburg. There were hundreds of bike riders all over the place. Some were single riders, but mostly groups of 4-10 riding in a pack. It isn't like Sturgis and all the stuff that goes on out there, since the Gettysburg police dept keeps a lid on any trouble. It was a good thing we didn't meet in Gettysburg, since we would have had to wait a long time to get a table at any restaurant. The event runs from July 12-16 and has concerts by the Charlie Daniels Band, Blackberry Smoke and KIX.

On our drive back we turned off Rt 30 onto a forest road shortcut and had quite a surprise in store for us. As we got near the cabin, we saw a number of people along side of the road and they were pulling carts that looked as big as small Conestoga wagons. We stopped to chat with a man who explained they were LDS Mormons and on a Trek. The Mormons of the mid 1850s made the trek out west with pull-carts and the church reenacts the Trek each year. One of my ancestors made the Trek for real from Nauvoo to Salt Lake City in 1852. The ones today were mostly teenagers from this area with some adult guidance. They were pulling the carts and they numbered over 140 people. I felt sorry for them since they were on a hilly forest road at 8pm and didn't know exactly where they were going to spend the night. At the bottom of the hill they were on there was a small clearing near a stream and that would be the most logical spot for them. Their Trek leader had their stops and route planned out.

They were all dressed in period costumes and were a very polite group of kids. I think all teenagers should take a Trek and see what our ancestors had to go through. That would be a problem for many kids now days since they couldn't take their couch and electronic games with them. Plus, they would have to work.

The DCNR people were working with them and had given them permission to travel on some old fire roads in the area. I don't know if that was a favor or not, since those roads are very rough and not the easiest roads to travel.

So, we went from one dull task to seeing many new things. It's all out there, you just have to go out and get it.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

It's all in the timing.

We were worn out from yesterday and decided to burn a lot of old branches and stuff that is around the cabin.  We have a number of Hemlock trees and they have all died off the past couple years.  The ones closest to the cabin were over 90ft tall and in danger of falling down, so we had them cut last summer.  Many of the branches were piled up and left to rot or burn and today was burn day.

Cassie & her 3 kid crew were going to join us to help drag the branches over to the fire pit area and keep the fire going.  Gerry and I started on the task while we were waiting for them and reduced a number to ashes.  Cassie had to take Lexa to a dentist appointment and then headed up this way.  It was bright and sunny when we started, but by the time they were due to arrive it was getting cloudy and dark.  They managed to work about 10 minutes and the heavens opened up with a heavy downpour for 30-40 minutes and doused the fire.  Like the subject line says, it's all in the timing.

They had stopped off at the Fickle Pickle to pick up some sandwiches for lunch and we enjoyed the great sandwiches.  Thinking the rain would stop and we could get back outside working they hung around for a while.  No such luck, by the time the rain eased up every thing was soaked. 

We have modern tools like chain saws, clippers, etc and have really been working at clearing up the branches.  I can't imagine how difficult it must have been for those early pioneers to clear the forests in the U.S. back in the 17 & 1800s with the primitive tools they had.  You were either of sturdy stock or the work didn't get finished.  No government assistance other than land grants if you served in the military.  What a tough life it was then.

We finally got a chance to sit on the screened in porch and enjoy seeing the deer in the meadow across from us.  There aren't as many this year as in the past for some reason.  I don't know if it is a sign of the times and people are hunting for food year around rather than just in hunting season.  We did run across a large brood of turkeys the other day. There were a couple adults and 13-15 chicks in the group.  We caught them as they were crossing the road and the last couple flew right in front of us.  They were too quick to get photos of, but we enjoyed seeing them just the same.

It has cooled off considerably up here on the mountain the last couple days.  Gerry thinks we will need a blanket tonight and I may have to close the bedroom window.  I love it when we can sleep with the windows open and have a cool breeze.

We watched two movies tonight that we had on VHS tapes.  They were "Son in Law" & "Trapped in Paradise".  We hadn't seen them before so it was just like they were new releases to us.  They were entertaining, but not what you would call a work of art.

The crew with Cassie today were children 13, 15, & 16 years of age.  The youngest hadn't ever seen a VHS tape and I explained it was sort of like an old fashioned DVD and she could relate to that.  The 15 & 16 yr old kids knew what VHS tapes were and had seen them.  Technology changes from generation to generation and old stuff dies out quickly.  Don't even get me started on cell phones.

With that, I bid you a goodnight.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tree Trimming pt 2

Warning, this is about tree trimming.  May bore you to death.  You have been warned.

Gerry and I were out trimming the tree branches over the road today and our neighbor Greg came out to help us.  He is a lot younger than we are and in pretty good physical condition.  We were trimming in front of his cabin and he was a little concerned that we would cut the low lying brush that shielded his place from the road.  He hadn't used a gas powered pole saw before and wanted to take it for a test drive.  Have at it was my reply.

The saw blade was dull, so we changed it out for a fresh one included in the rental package.  They supplied the gas, gloves, tools, 3 extra saw blades along with the saw.  I was pleasantly surprised to see what all was included in the rental.  This is a rental store that knows their business and takes care of the customer.

Greg fired up the pole saw and I used the manual saw and we started hacking away at 10 yrs of branches, small trees and shrubs that had taken over the road.  It's a forest road and with the tight budgets, we were low on the totem pole for any attention.  Greg worked with us for about 2 hours and we made a lot of progress and cleaned up about a 1/4 mile of the road.  The remainder of the trimming should go much easier since it isn't so dense and the road is also a little wider.  

While we were trimming Gerry was clearing the cut branches from the road and piling them up in bunches.  She worked continuously for about 3 hours and was bushed.  I am sure she will pay for it with sore muscles in the next few days.  She is quite a trooper and really pitched in and did what had to be done.  She is a keeper for sure.

We called it quits there and came back to the cabin for a short break and then continued to trim the private road leading into the cabin area.  There were some dead hemlocks that had wicked looking branches sticking out over the road and they would have caused a lot of damage if  I ran into one of them.   A couple more hours on Wednesday and we should be finished with the trimming.

Then the burning of old branches begins at the cabin.  We have a lot of dead wood up here that is on the ground and it needs to be cleaned up.  There isn't a burn ban, so that is the easiest way to get rid of the almost three inch thick branches.  That should take up most of the day and except for a few more minor chores we should be ready to get the motorhome up here.

You may ask --- "Where is the motorhome now?"  We had a minor repair to be made on the Bus and took it to a Cummins dealer for the 3 hour job.  That lead into a series of goof ups that have continued to this day.  They ordered the wrong part from Tiffin and when they tried to order the correct part, the Tiffin factory and parts dept were closed all week around the 4th of July.  The correct part came in today and they say the repair will be finished by Thursday morning.    THEN, a call came in later from the Cummins dealer telling me a Penske truck had clipped the passenger side mirror and it needed to be repaired.  Unbelievable!!  I called the Penske guy and he said for them to send over a picture of the damage and an estimate to have it fixed.  Are you following this?  More parts to be ordered most likely more delays.  Who knows when the Bus will be released????

The only good thing about all of this was that it gave us time to clear a path into the cabin parking space for the Bus.  Otherwise we would have to park at a campground and drive over every day to finish all the work.  So, I guess there is a silver lining in all things.

We are both tired and it is time for showers and feather bed ball.  Goodnight all.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Tree Trimming pt 1

Gerry and Cassie drove down to Baltimore for a doctor's appointment today.  It wasn't exactly successful since they had neglected to have Cassie do a prep for the appointment.  Now she has to make the drive back down to Baltimore once again.  It is a 200 mile round trip and takes at least 2 hours each way.  No problem for them, but it sure shot down the day for Cassie & Gerry.

When Gerry returned to the cabin we went up to the rental place to pick up the gas powered pole saw.  We trimmed some branches from the trees over hanging the road and put a little dent in what has to be done.  The pole saw was much heavier than I imagined it would be.  I cut down a number of branches higher up and Gerry picked them up and stored them in a pile.

One of our neighbors came out and cut some branches in front of his cabin and helped out a little.  We will be back at it the first thing in the morning and see if we can make some headway.  I hope we can cut enough on Tuesday to make a bigger dent in what has to be finished before we can get the motor home up here.

I only rented the gas pole saw for 24 hours and have to have it back by 5pm on Tuesday.  It doesn't cut as well as I thought it would and will change the saw blade before I start tomorrow.  Hopefully that will help with making the trimming much easier.

Not much else going on around here of any interest.  We are back at watching some old movies that we have on VHS tapes.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

It's Hot here

We had intended to cut some more branches by the road today very early, but by the time we finished breakfast it was so hot we decided to forego it for another day.  We cranked up the a/c in the cabin and worked on some chores inside.

Later on in the evening we had to pick up some groceries and it had cooled off by then, down to 92 degrees.  We've spent Julys up here where we've had the fireplace running in the evening to heat up the cabin.  Not this year.  The weather forecast for Monday looks like it will be back to normal temps for a while and hopefully we can get back to the trimming business.

What an exciting life we lead up here on the mountain.  

We don't have cable tv or even Dish tv, so we watched Thunder In The Sun from 1959 with Jeff Chandler & Susan Hayward in the lead roles.  The rest of the cast were French actors playing Basques settlers heading to California with grape vines.  It was a little hokey, but overall an entertaining 81 minutes.  

We had the movie on a VHS tape and played it on our 1992 19" Panasonic tv with a built in VHS VCR.   If it isn't broken, don't fix it and the tv works fine after all these years.  No, I don't want to sell it!

A friend sent me this moving rendition of the Battle Hymm of the Republic performed by high school and middle school choirs.  The music is great and I wanted to share it with you all.

Keep cool out there wherever you are.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Tree trimming & Heat

Gerry and I had planned on renting a gas powered polesaw today and cut back the huge amount of branches hanging over the road to the cabin.  Nobody up here bothers to trim along the road and the young saplings grow toward the center of the road in order to get as much sunlight as possible.  What we wind up with is a tunnel effect and when it rains or snows, the branches actually come down to the top of a car.  You can imagine what it does to a motorhome that is 13ft high and wide as a barn.  Major pin striping takes place as you run the gauntlet.

I had checked the weather forecast and it was forecasting the high 90s for Friday and over 100 for Saturday.  We manually cut some of the branches today and were totally wiped out after almost one hour.  Whoa Nellie, this isn't going to work.   Monday's forecast is for a high of 73 and that is more manageable for us.  If it doesn't rain, we will rent the polesaw and hack away at the branches and shrubs.  Hopefully we can cut them back enough to get the motorhome out in September without having to do it again.

Other than settling in and trying to stay cool, we haven't been doing that many interesting things.  We did stop at the Fickle Pickle today and grab something to eat.  Judy, the owner of the shop was there and was very talkative filling me in on what's been going on up here on the mountain.  She have been trying to sell the sandwich shop, but haven't had any takers so far.  I think her customer base is too small to make it worthwhile to make a living there.

We did see two rvers up here on the mountain that are obviously boondocking.  That is the first time we've seen boondockers here in the area.  One unit was quite old and had set up in a parking area where the horse people park their trailers and the other was a new 23ft Class B unit powered by a diesel engine.  I wonder if it is the sign of the times that they are there or just some people taking advantage of free camping for a while?  We are close to Gettysburg and camping there is quite expensive, so maybe they were taking day trips there and back for the night.   Boondocking is quite common out west and you see people all over the place doing it.  Not so common here in the East.

We watched the movie Unstoppable last night and it was really good.  It is based on a true story and kept you on the edge of your seat during movie and the suspense was killing us.  It came out a few years ago, but this was our first chance to see the movie.  I highly recommend it if you like action movies with a storyline.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

4th of July Celebration & Family

Happy 4th of July everyone.

Larry Jr & Sr - Abidjan 1986
Gerry, Larry Jr. and I lived overseas for a number of years and weren't always able to celebrate the 4th of July in the USA.  That doesn't mean we didn't celebrate the birth of our nation, it just meant we celebrated it somewhere else.  Usually the Americans in the Embassy would have the celebration at a large hotel, or on the grounds of the Ambassador's home.  It was always a holiday to look forward to and think about how we are a free people.  

You don't really understand what freedom is until you spend time in countries where freedom isn't on the menu.  We can voice our opinions about our political leaders and that is accepted.  In many countries that will land you in jail or worse.  I could go on and on, but will just cut this short and say that I thank God that I am an American.   Also a special thanks to those who have fought and died for our freedom since 1776.  A number of my ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War and I am proud of that heritage.

We will be joining Cassie, Jack and the girls for an old fashioned picnic dinner at their house.  In the past we always ate outdoors and played catch, volley ball, badminton, croquet or other games.  We may forego that this year due to the heat and just relax in the house and cook hamburgers and hotdogs outside on the grill.  Gerry prepared her famous potato salad and Cassie is preparing the baked beans.  I am sure nobody will go hungry or thirsty today.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Flamingo Restaurant & Minor Rant

Gerry and I decided to go out for breakfast this morning.  We were headed for a Perkins Restaurant when I noticed a small restaurant along the side of Rt 30 on the way to Chambersburg, PA.  Hey, lets try this place out rather than a chain restaurant.

We were seated right away and the waitress came around and asked if we wanted coffee, which we did.  A small spill of the coffee through no fault of the waitress occurred.  She walked by and saw the spill and came back with napkins to clean it up.  None of the above is out of the ordinary, but the fact that she saw the spill and did something about it impressed me.  I asked how long she had been a waitress and she said 20 years, 17 years at the Flamingo Restaurant.  It showed in her service to us.  She knew her job and took an interest in providing good service.  At so many other restaurants that isn't the case and we would have had to ask for a napkin to clean the spill.  It's nice to see someone take pride in their work.  Oh, the food was great also.  Try the place if you are in the area.

We then drove to Walmart and picked up some needed items.  When we were checking out I asked the cashier if they still gave $.03 off with the use of a gift card from Walmart.  You would have thought I asked her to explain a complicated mathematical formula.  She had no idea what I was talking about.  I stopped to ask a cashier at the self service line the same question.  Another blank look, but she did find a Walmart gift card, but had never heard of the $.03 off  deal.  I find it hard to believe that they worked there and didn't know anything about my question.  I still don't have an answer.

We visited with Cassie and the girls and then picked up some more food items and headed back to the cabin.  As usual, there are a lot of chores to be done to get the cabin in working order.  Nothing major, but time consuming just the same.  At least it is 8 degrees cooler here on the mountain top than below in the valley.

We saw our first deer of the season up here.  It wasn't used to us being around and walked very close to the cabin.  I think it has a sleeping spot in the back of our property and was looking to bed down for the night.  It is always nice to see them up here, unlike the 15 deer herd we had at the house who ate all my garden, flowers and anything else they could reach.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Pittsburgh Pirates Fan

WARNING.  This blog is about baseball.  You have been warned.

Gerry and I grew up in South Central Illinois which was St. Louis Cardinal country and also had some diehard Chicago Cub fans.  For some reason, I took a liking to the Pirates and have been a fan of theirs since I was about 13 years old.  Over the years they have been one of the worst, best and somewhere in the middle.  

I remember well listening to Bob Prince broadcast their games on KDKA (which claims to be the first commerical radio station in the world and was created on Nov 2, 1920).  He had a very distinctive voice and was well liked by the players since he didn't second guess or criticize them, unlike the aggressive style of modern day announcers.  We lived in the Washington, DC area during the late 1950s and late at night I could get the games on radio if they were playing west of the Mississippi river.

Nat Albright of the Brooklyn Dodgers ( yes Brooklyn)  read ticker tapes and made up the game as it went along.  He was always an inning or two behind, but at least you could hear what was going on in the game.  One night a friend was listening to Bob Prince live and Smoky Burgess hit a pinch hit home run to win the game against the Dodgers.  He went downstairs in his apartment building to tell a fellow Pirate fan they had won the game.  Wins were scarce about this time.  The friend downstairs was listening to the ticker tape broadcast and it was only in the 8th inning.  Friend one bet the other that Burgess would pinch hit and get a home run.  Easiest $5 he ever made.

It is hard to imagine how different it was then before ESPN, the internet, MLB Network, Cable and all the offerings of today.  It was somehow more exciting to hear the game and visualize what was going on.  Maybe that is where I got my imagination.

Anyway, the Pirates are now 1/2 game out of 1st place in their division and playing good baseball.  They have a team salary of $63 million, while the Yankees team salary is $198 million.  I love to see those overpaid teams get beaten by the lower budget teams.  . 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Miles, Countryside & 500th post

This is my 500th post on this blog and it hardly seems possible that I have been boring people for this long and I haven't been shot or assaulted. 

This is our son in law Jack's birthday and I wanted to wish him very happy birthday from Gerry and me.  It didn't go too well for him since he is having some car trouble, but he is a smart guy and will have it running soon.

Happy Birthday Jack 

We made a Costco run today at their warehouse in Lancaster, PA.  It was so hot outside that we didn't feel like doing much touring and sightseeing, so a cool shopping trip was in order.  I found a spot close to the entrance and pulled into the space and noticed the odometer on the Saturn has turned over to exactly 107,000 miles.  It was just last September when we had 94,000 miles so we are running about 16K miles a year in the car.

 Yes, I know it isn't very interesting to you all, but we like to see when the odometer turns over 1K miles exactly.  Call us crazy.

We decided to take a tour of the countryside and enjoy the beautiful views up here in the Lancaster County area.  There are a number of dairy farms run by the Amish and others and the farms are immaculate.  The barns are huge and look like well over 100 milk cows would fit in them at one time.  

Lancaster Dairy Farm

Stone house and nice lake.

What are you looking at?
 We drove around the area for a while and enjoyed the views.  There was a soccer tournament going on near Manheim and there were 10 fields in play at the same time.  I can't imagine either playing soccer in that heat or even watching the games.  Even though, we used to play softball from 1-4pm every Saturday while we lived in Abidjan, Ivory Coast for 4 years.  It was more or less the same temperature, but I was about 25 years younger and in better shape than now.   Gerry came to most of the games to watch Larry Jr. and me play softball.  She was the best water girl around the diamond.  She is the pretty girl with the yellow outfit in the picture below.

My cousin Sharon and her husband, Al received some good news recently.  They may have their home rented and if so, they will hit the road fulltime in their 5th wheel trailer around the 1st of September.  They have been planning this for a number of years and it looks like they will finally be on the road.  Congratulations you guys.