New England Trip Spring/Summer 1999

Hi all,

Betty and I are getting ready to leave on a several-times-delayed trip to the East Coast, and in specific, New England.  We will be traveling with our good friends from Arizona, Keith and Virgilee Scholl in our motorhomes, leaving from there the first of next week.  We expect to be gone about two months.

I plan to try to do a write-up of our daily adventures as I have done for our last several trips, and plan to email them periodically as we progress.

We have planned to include you on our email distribution of these reports.

It is always fun for us to share our adventures with our friends and relatives, but I understand there are many reasons why you might not want to receive them, so my feelings will not be hurt.  If for any reason, you would just as soon not receive these email messages, please let me know and I'll remove you from the distribution.  

I plan to try to connect to the Internet about twice a week, but this can certainly vary.  I'll probably send my reports about once a week.  

We always enjoy receiving email while on the road, so if you would like to contact us that way, please do!

Till then,

Dick and Betty Mason

We are finally off on our long awaited, several-times-delayed trip to the New England states.  

Our general plan is to first drive to Forest Lakes, Arizona to meet up with Keith and Virgilee Scholl, who will be traveling with us in their Coachmen motor home for most of the trip.  We will then head to Higden, Arkansas to visit with Fred and Judy Pfafman for several days over the Memorial Day weekend.  

From there we head east, probably splitting up for several days while we visit friends and relatives.  From there we rejoin and head north to the New England area where we will concentrate the major portion of our planned two month trip.

We will then head back to the Wayne, New Jersey area and see some of our GEC friends, and see how the plant where I spent the year of 1994 is doing.

We will head home passing through Dayton, Ohio and see the air museum there.

Saturday, May 22

We arose at 4:00 A.M., loaded the last few items (including Betty and our cat, Muffy) into the motor home, secured the house and pulled out the driveway.  As I have gotten concerned about trying to hook up the car on our steep driveway, I now park the motor home on the street below ours, walk back home, get the car, drive it down to the motor home, and connect it up there.  This takes a bit longer, but is far less hazardous.   I drove our 1997 Saturn (new for this trip) down and got it all hooked up and double checked.  We pulled away at about 5:20.

We had a fairly smooth trip, encountering drizzle for about an hour from around Temecula to Banning.  We had the normal high winds in the Palm Springs area, and again on I-10 around the Colorado River area, but none were any problem.  We made this leg with no mechanical problems other than an intermittent cruise control.  I'll have to check that out at the Scholls'.

We arrived at the Scholls', a distance of almost exactly 500 miles, at about 4:00 P.M. after making a number of rest stops, a couple of fueling stops, and one meal stop along the way.

We normally don't try do go that many miles in a day, and don't plan to again this trip.  Keith was interested in the mattress we had removed from our motor home, and after loading it on our bed for transport, (on top of the foam mattress which replaced it), the bed was almost too high for me to climb up onto, and certainly too high for Betty.  We had weighed our options, and decided the easiest all around was to drive here in a single day.

We arrived feeling quite good.  It was at least an hour or two before I suddenly felt totally exhausted!  We hit the bed early.

Sunday May 23

Today was a relaxing day.  We plan to have a lot of that type during the next couple of months!  Keith and I puttered around doing several small projects.  I checked wiring, cleaned contacts and valves on the cruise.  I installed a couple of hooks in the motor home, and we spent a bunch of time on Keith's computer.  We will finish a couple of Keith's projects tomorrow prior to leaving on Tuesday morning.

Monday May 24

Today I did such major tasks as washing the windshield.  Keith and I installed a swing out handrail on his motor home.  We then decided to do a radio check on our various CB's.  Everything checked out fine on our motor home radios, but the unit I temporarily installed in the Saturn gave him a strong carrier, but no voice modulation.  I figured that the microphone was a likely suspect, so I opened it up and found a broken wire inside.  After re-soldering it (yes, I do carry solder and an iron in the motor home), all worked fine.

We figured a sequence of moves in the morning that will let both of us face down his driveway and attach our towed cars.  Keith and Virg have a new Subaru Forester that they will be towing.

I think everything is about ready for an 8:00 A.M. (or so) departure toward somewhere in New Mexico.  We expect to make it to at least Moriarity.

Tuesday May 25

We got all battened down for travel and turned the motor home around.  We hooked up the Saturn and were ready to go.  It was spritzing lightly.  Keith suggested that we head out of the development before the rains really started and turned the roads into mud.  He was about 30 minutes away from leaving.  

We headed out to the highway and found an area where they had graded for an additional lane and parked well to the side of the road.  After a bit Keith called on the CB that he was approaching and we headed out.

During our drive today, we had light rain on and off for most of the day, but none of it was ever more than a couple of minutes at a time and it was quite windy all day.    We occasionally had lightning in the distance.  The only time it was close was as we were in the office of the campground registering, there were a couple of nearby hits.  It then cleared up and the wind quit. 

The cruise control worked every time!

A couple of years ago, we signed up for Sprint PCS portable telephone service on their "Pioneer" plan.  During a very limited time during their introduction of service in the San Diego area, they offered plans with a lifetime no monthly service charge.  It has been great around home, but there is almost no PCS digital service in other than metropolitan areas.  It hasn't been worth much on the road.

This year I was investigating cell phone plans trying to find one I could afford.  In talking to Sprint I was told that by changing my phone to a dual band phone, I could have cell phone service over most of the country where the PCS did not cover, and that my Pioneer plan would still cover it!  I bought a Qualcomm.

Today I had cellular coverage the entire way!  I like it!

After we got set up in Moriarty for the night, we unhooked the Saturn and went into town.  We bought a new windshield wiper blade and then stopped at an authentic Route 66 restaurant, El Comidor.  Built in 1952, it enjoyed over 20 years of prime Route 66 business before I-40 was built.  There have been four generations running it from its opening till the current time.  One wall was covered with pictures of the owners with presidents, country singers, and many other personalities.

Our dinner was very good, but way too much food!  We brought home enough for another meal.  

Tomorrow we head to Texas.  We will stop just short of the Oklahoma border in Shamrock, after traversing most of the width of the Texas panhandle.

We are heading into an area that had heavy weather today, but the forecasts show that we will be just skimming the northern edge of the area, and that it should subside by mid-morning.  We will pass through later than that.

Wednesday May 26

We just pulled into our campground in Shamrock, TX, and the lady in the office said I could use her private phone line to send this.  I will include the events of today in my next episode.

We left camp this morning at about 9:00.  It seemed later as we had already set our clocks ahead yet another hour, in anticipation of crossing from New Mexico into Texas with the associated change to Central time.  (Two hours in two days is just too much.  Next we will be getting Jet Lag in our motor home!)

The drive today was mostly perfect!  There was no rain, no wind, and there was a broken cloud cover of small cumulus clouds all day, keeping the trip comfortable.  I didn't even get a shower to allow me to test the new wiper blade I put on my side of the motor home last night!

We drove about the same mileage as yesterday, around 325, and ended up in the same campground again as last year.  It is the West 40 RV Park on historic Route 66 near Shamrock, TX.  We are just a few miles from the border into Oklahoma.

At one of the rest stops today, we parked across from 5 motor homes that were obviously traveling together.  We spotted them again just pulling out of a gas station as we drove past.  Shortly after getting settled into our spots tonight, in drove the 5 rigs.  After registering, they parked in the 5 spaces next to ours.  It turns out that they are wood carvers from Southern California.  There is a two week seminar in Northwest Arkansas they are attending.  The fellow parked next to us showed me a couple of items he carved: an Indian head and a back scratcher in the shape of a long, skinny man.  He said he was just an amateur, but I thought his work looked great!  He also said their group (the larger group, not just the 5 here) had some Master Carvers.  One of them sells work like the Indian head I saw for in the neighborhood of $4000 each!

Tomorrow we head for the Lake Eufaula area in Oklahoma, a distance of just over 300 miles.  Friday we should make it to Fred and Judy's with a somewhat shorter drive.

Thursday, May 27

We woke up this morning at around 4:00 A.M. to the patter of rain on the roof.  It continued raining, sometimes fairly hard, from that time on.  The Weather Channel on our DSS set (I do love my toys!) showed that we were on the very Northeast corner of almost the only precipitation on the map!

We pulled out at 8:30 and headed East on old Route 66 through the town of Shamrock.  The loss of the main highway through the center of town really took its toll!  There were a lot of old abandoned gas stations, restaurants, etc.  There was still some life in the town, but it was depressing to see the other parts.

We entered I-40 eastbound in moderate rainfall.  My new wiper blade got it test this morning!  It works just fine.  We stopped for fuel after about 30 miles with the rain almost stopped.  After buying fuel (we got 11+ mpg this tank!) it was raining harder.  The disturbance had caught up with us again.

We actually drove out from under it to broken cloudiness and no more rain after another 45 minutes or so.  The rest of the trip was free of any weather problems.

As we approached Oklahoma City I noticed my PCS phone was actually in digital mode.  It stayed in that mode for almost an hour!  I guess Sprint is enlarging their infrastructure as time continues.  I have yet to see the phone report that there is no signal since leaving the Scholls' house!  That is very reassuring while traveling and using the phone as an emergency aid!

Last year as we were passing through Oklahoma City, we saw signs saying we should take the construction bypass.  When we finally saw a very small sign labeling the construction bypass, it was through our side window as we passed it.  The trip through the city was very slow and agonizing!

This year we planned our bypass route in advance.  We saw the same signs warning us to take the construction bypass, but never saw anything labeling where that was.  After we turned off on our bypass route, we saw signs saying we were truly on the construction  bypass!  We sailed around town, never slowing at all!  It was a MAJOR improvement over last year!

While on I-240 on the latter part of the bypass, we passed near the town of Moore, the site of the F5 tornado several weeks ago.  We drove by a section of total devastation!  On the right was a swatch of pure rubble.  On the edges of this were numerous structures still standing, but heavily damaged.  Across I-240 was a forest of trees with a whole section uprooted, laying on their sides.  Many trees were still loaded with debris of all types stuck in their branches.  We were past it all in a few seconds, but the emotional effect was monumental.  You see scenes like this on television, but it has so much more impact when you drive by and see it first hand.  It is an image we will not soon forget!

Today we passed the transition which we like so well.  The open rangeland turned into lush vegetation.  There are trees everywhere, and the center median and the shoulders of the road are all rich green grass and wildflowers.  Of course we passed our share of mowers hard at work also.

We were still doing OK when we reached the turn off for the Eufaula Lake campgrounds, so we decided to push on another 40+ miles to Sallisaw, OK.  Here there is a beautiful little campground we found in our Passport America book.

Passport America is a discount camping program that costs 39.95 a year and gives a 50% discount on a large number of campgrounds.  Some limit the discount to 1 or a few days, and some have blackout periods, but most do not have restrictions.  It will not take too many campgrounds on this plan to pay back the yearly investment.  We paid $7.50 for this camp.

Our cat Muffy seems to be adapting to her new gypsy lifestyle.  We have taken her with us on several short trips to acclimate her, but this is the first major trip for her.  When we start traveling, she crawls under the skirt of our swivel barrel chair and stays there almost all the time we are moving.  The other day, she actually came out and visited us for a few minutes on the road, but went promptly back under her chair.

As soon as we stop, either at a rest stop, or at camp, she comes right out and is very sociable.  I think she far prefers to ride with us than to be left at home alone, except for the periodic visits by our daughter, Debbie.

Keith discovered a black widow spider nested in the compartment where his fresh water hookup valve was at his site tonight.  He and Virg both tried to get her out, but she darted back and forth rapidly and finally disappeared under the lip.  Keith decided to hook up his water line to an empty adjacent site!

There is one problem with all the lush vegetation here.  The mosquitoes are numerous and aggressive!  I have several new welts that showed up this afternoon.

After getting all set up, Betty and I drove the Saturn into town to look it over.  We passed a Braum's Ice Cream Parlor similar to the one we enjoyed so much near Eufaula last year.  On our way back, we just had to stop!  I am afraid that we each spoiled our dinner there.  What am I saying? . . That WAS our dinner!  They have absolutely the best limeade I have tasted!  Their ice cream items are great also!

I need to get up a little early tomorrow and dump our tanks and fill the water.  I am also going to fill the propane before leaving.

Friday, May 28

As we had a shorter drive ahead of us today, we decided to not leave until around 9:00.  I got up did the various tasks around the motor home such as filling the fresh water tank, dumping the holding tanks, and readying everything for travel.  We drove up to the front of the campground and had our propane tank filled.  I then pulled forward somewhat and walked back to our site and got the Saturn and drove it up to the motor home and hooked it up.  Keith left for the gas station back at the corner.  We headed out, filled up there also, and hit the road.

Some of the Oklahoma roads and most of the Arkansas ones are concrete, with a repetitive roughness.  As you drive it goes "bumpity, bumpity" all the time.  For one stretch of road in Arkansas, it was obvious they had recently ground the surface of the road for several miles.  The ride here was perfectly smooth.  Maybe there is hope for the future!  Unfortunately, the reworked road ended and we went back to the normal bumpy surface.

Last year as we entered the town of Conway, we had to wait at a stop sign for a clearing in traffic (which never really came) and then turn left.  It was horrible!  This year we drove to the next off ramp two miles later, made two left turns at signals to re-enter the highway heading the other way.  We then used the off-ramp we wanted from the other direction, making a right turn right into the flow.  We then became part of the traffic the other poor folks had to wait for before making their left turns!  It was all very smooth and stress free!

We had no problems on our drive and ended up at Fred and Judy's mid-afternoon.  After a short session of driving on blocks and leveling we were camped.

Their house looks totally different than it did last year!  They have added 19 feet across the entire front of the house, and added a garage at the end of that.  It really makes a difference!  We received a tour of the inside and it really is nice.  They look down through the trees to the lake from the original part of the house.  It is a very pleasant setting.

Judy fixed a delicious dinner and we did a lot of catching up.  Fred promised we could go boating tomorrow!

Saturday, May 29

We slept in this morning.  After puttering around a little we all got ready to go boating.  Fred and Judy had put the boat in the water before we arrived and it is tied to the shore of their property, with the front of the pontoons resting on old tire casings.  The three of us guys went out for two or three hours on the lake.  There is a lot of boating traffic on this holiday weekend!  The weather is quite comfortable, with the temperature in the 80's and a mostly overcast sky.

We headed back to the motor home for a nap.  After naptime, I got this journal up to date.  I will head into the Pfafman's house shortly and get this episode sent and see what new messages await us.

Sunday, May 30

Last night when I sent episode #2, I also received the weekly calendar of events from the church.  I massaged it into the correct .html format and updated the church web page.  I hope to be able to keep the web page up to date while I am on the road.

We decided to not accompany Fred and Judy to their church service and Sunday School this morning.  Instead we had a planning session with Virg and Keith.  As we had not really sat down and discussed the balance of our trip we decided it was something that REALLY needed doing!

The primary change in our plans is to skip Niagara Falls this trip.  It added several days and quite a few miles, and didn't really fit the focus of the trip which is New England.  We agreed on our general route and other details of the master plan.  We did a little specific planning for the near-term events.

Shortly after returning from church, Judy and Fred brought out a marvelous meal!  We had barbecued fillet mignon, beans, a couple of salads, and a choice of several items for dessert.  I don't know when Judy had the time to fix it all!  It was delicious!

We had a thunder shower late in the afternoon, which persisted as a light drizzle for a number of hours.

Fred and Judy invited us to their evening church service which tonight was featuring a visiting gospel quartet, Heaven's Echos.  They really put on a performance.  I felt really badly for the Soprano, who was the lead singer.  She had throat surgery a couple of years ago for suspected cancer.  The operation was successful and she is cancer free.  Tonight she was having troubles (hopefully a temporary Laryngitis) with her voice.  She had to back out of singing several of the numbers, but when she did sing, she had a beautiful voice.  It was a very enjoyable and inspirational evening.

We went back to the motor home when we returned.  Instead of going to bed early, we stayed up and watched "Herbie Rides Again" on the Disney channel.

Monday, May 31

Today is Memorial Day.  We slept in until almost 9:00 (well, really only 7:00 California time!)  I made copies of my NEA reports #1 and 2 for Keith and Virg to read.  I printed them out yesterday to snail-mail to Mother.  I haven't been able to convince her she NEEDS a computer and the associated email.

It is mostly overcast today, with the possibility of isolated thunder showers again this afternoon.

We spent some low-effort time for most of today.  I helped Fred change the processor chip in his computer.  He has a Compaq which used an SX chip.  His son David had given him a DX chip which includes a numeric coprocessor.  The change did not speed up the basic system, but made a significant difference on a number of his programs.

Later we looked at an air compressor of Fred's which would not run.  We found the problem to be a seized up compressor head.  It had failed from a lack of oil.  We managed to free it up and add the proper amount of oil, and all seems to run OK.

It never did rain today.

Tuesday, June 1

We got up around 7:00 (Arkansas time) and saw Judy off to work.  We went through our get-ready-to-leave chores and pulled out of our site at about 8:00, went out on the road and turned around.  We stopped across from the Pfafmans' house and hooked up the Saturn.  We were underway by 8:20.

The navigation today was as complex as we have had on any of our trips.  We had about 10 or so individual legs which we had to find the turn offs for.  I only missed one!  I was able to call Keith and have him make the turn while I made a U-turn and came back to it.  As we approached the campground, we found a sign for it, guessed which road it referred to, and came to a place labeled only "Private Resort, Admittance by pass only".  I went into the office hoping they could at least direct me to the proper campground.  We were there!  We were directed to a couple of sites right on the shore of Kentucky Lake!  This is a Passport America park, so our fee was $8.00.  Very Nice!

We were in 4 states today: Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, and Kentucky.  We ended up at the Southern Komfort campground.  On the other side of the lake we face is the Land Between the Lakes.  This is a TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) development which is administered by the National Park Service. We were camped at another location on this same lake about three years ago in our previous motor home.

Tonight, just after dark, we began to hear what sounded like distant thunder.  We were facing the lake with the windshield curtains open.  Shortly we started seeing occasional flashes of lightning.  These gradually became almost continuous.  We watched for about an hour before it started to fade into the distance.  It never really got close to us, but was very active on the other side of the lake.

Wednesday, June 2

We had a drive of less than 200 miles today, so we were in no hurry to leave.  After carefully maneuvering the motor home out from under the tree the manager had so carefully directed me far too close to, I backed out onto the road.  The CB antenna seemed to have survived the encounter with the tree.  We hooked up the Saturn and hit the road by around 9:30.  We decided to take "The Trace", the road that runs up the center of the Land Between the Lakes.  We stopped at the visitor's center and looked around for a short while.  We then continued up The Trace for about 18 miles of totally beautiful scenery.  Betty and I were on the lower portion of The Trace when we were here in 1996.

Our campground for tonight and tomorrow night is just south of Elizabethtown, KY.  At about $17 a night, it is NOT a Passport America park!

We used our cell phone and called for reservations at Mammoth Caves for tomorrow afternoon.  They offer a "mobility impaired" tour, which is the one we selected.

We drove into Elizabethtown this afternoon and explored.  We finally found a Wal-Mart and picked up a number of pharmacy and grocery items.  We also found a small magnifying glass for Betty to use to read the fine print on maps while we are driving.

After telling Keith and Virg where we found Wal-Mart, they left to do their shopping a short while ago, at around 9:00 EDT.  Yes, we lost yet another hour today, and are now on Eastern time.  I left the clocks set on Central time for the moment, as Mammoth Caves are about a 35 mile drive, and are back in the Central time zone.  After returning from the caves, I'll set the clocks ahead.
Tomorrow morning we plan to see some of the local historical attractions before leaving for the 3:00 cave tour.

I think I will try to send this using my cell phone modem.  If you get it, it must have worked!

Thursday, June 3

Well, the last message you received was not sent via my cell phone!  I tried several times and the phone never dialed.  I tried many variations and tests, but no success.  I tried to call Qualcomm tech support last night, but as I expected, they only operate weekday business hours.

Shortly after 9:00 this morning here, I tried again and talked to their technician.  The bottom line is that Windows 98 has a bug in the power management of cellular modems.  It seems that the power is not turned on to the modem until after the command to dial the number.  The tech gave me a download site to get a program to correct this problem.  One slight problem:  If I cannot connect to the net, I cannot download a file from a website!

I went into the office and asked if I could connect using their phone line.  The lady said no one had asked before and was not sure it would be OK.  She finally said "Sure, go ahead!"  I sent and received my email, and downloaded the program.  The description of the program said that most cell phone modems WOULD NOT work under W98 without this program.

While in the office, the lady asked where we stayed before coming here.  We told her Southern Komfort and she laughed and said it was run by one of her very best friends!  She asked us about the damage to their restaurant and office.  She indicated they had been damaged by a tornado and then burned.  We had seen the burned shell as we left camp.

As we were definitely behind schedule by now, I left the computer till later, and Betty and I headed south to find Abraham Lincoln's birthplace.  We drove down the interstate for a few miles, cut across on a narrow country road.  This connected to several other narrow country roads.  On one of them, we followed a horse and buggy for about a mile.  We finally got to a safe spot to pass.  This was a typical Amish buggy, except there were no rear lights, bright tape, mirrors or anything else added for safety.  We kept seeing signs directing us to the monument.  As we got close, we arrived at a Tee.  There was no sign directing us either way, and the highway number did not agree with Betty's map.  Our mileage since the last sign indicated we were within a mile of it.  We tried left- nothing.  We tried right - nothing.  On heading back, there was a sign heading us back on the road we came in on.  This time, we saw a green sign to turn.  All the previous signs had been brown.

The monument for his birthplace was very interesting and well laid out.  The visitor's center had displays, including the Lincoln family bible.  We saw a movie that chronicled his early life.  He was born in Hodgenville, KY in a very small one room log cabin.  He then moved with his family twice by the age of seven.

Most visitors exited the center from the front and walked a couple hundred yards to the base of some monumental stairs.  There are 56 steps up to the top level, one for each year of Lincoln's life.  At the top was a marble, columned building, somewhat reminiscent of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.  We, on the other hand, exited to the opposite direction and got on a long boardwalk.  This wound around through the woods and finally ended on a paved path that took us to the top level of the building.  I wheeled Betty into the back door of the monument.  Inside is a reproduction of Lincoln's birthplace cabin.  It is built as close to the original size, construction, and location as the experts could establish.  It may even have been built with some of the original materials, but no one can prove or disprove that.

The cabin is 16 feet wide and 18 feet long.  There is one door, and one window.  The window did not have glass, but some form of oiled paper, or thin animal skin for protection from the weather.  There is a fireplace in one end that served for both the cooking and the heating of the cabin.  This is not the cabin where Lincoln is depicted as lying in front of the fireplace reading, as he moved at the age of 2 to another cabin a few miles away.

After seeing his cabin, we went back around the boardwalk to the base of the stairs.  Nearby is the original spring.  The farm was called Sinking Spring apparently because of the large cavity the spring water dropped into.  The spring is still there and still running.  It is located about 100 yards from the cabin and is now reached by descending about 20 steps.

We left the monument and headed back to camp.  We had only a little over an hour before we needed to leave for our tour of Mammoth Caves.  One of the last farm roads we crossed on our way to the monument was road 222.  This is the same road our campground is located just 3/4 mile from.  We tossed caution aside and took it!  It was a marvelous drive.  A narrow two lane road that connected many small farms.  We would drive perfectly straight for a while, then make a right angle turn.  In one place we made two right turns in short succession, then finally turned back in the direction we needed.  Eventually, as we  came over a rise I could see a tall service station sign I recognized.  We were almost there!  I'm sure we saved time getting back, and it was really fun, but there was always that nagging fear that it wouldn't really go as far as we needed.  Fortunately it did!

We had a quick lunch and gathered our jackets and cameras.  Keith and we headed for the caves.  Virg stayed back and dog-sat.

The drive to Mammoth Caves was about 50 miles.  We got there about 20 minutes before we were told we needed to pick up our tickets.  We spent our spare time in the book store and in the gift shop.

At 3:00 we were loaded into a wheelchair van which took us to the entry point for our tour.  They have a great variety of tours ranging from our easy, mobility impaired tour, to moderate, strenuous, and extremely strenuous tours.

The cave has over 300 miles of known passages, with current exploration constantly expanding it.  There are 5 main levels.  There currently are 22 entrances large enough for human passage.  Of these, only one is a natural entrance.  There are probably hundreds or thousands of small, animal size ports.

Our tour is the only one that uses an elevator to descend into the cave.  We went about 265 feet to the third level.  This portion of the cave is basically one long, large tunnel.  We went about 1/2 mile on paved, relatively level trail.  The three of us were the entire tour group.  Charlie, our ranger tour guide, was very good at telling us the history of the cave and answering our many questions.  

Keith asked if there were any bats in the cave, and Charlie told him there were, but not like in Carlsbad Caverns.  He said that the type of bat here was anti-social, both toward humans and each other.  He said he would look for one in our area, and within a few seconds spotted one about ten feet from us.  We gathered under it and could have reached up and touched it.  He pointed out its tiny thumb and its tiny feet which all have very small, sharp claws.  The bat is very good at locking these into any imperfections on the surface it hangs from.  It can walk on the ceiling using these claws.  He told us about one of these bats he once saw hanging on the outside of a vertical piece of window glass.  It found tiny imperfections and got a grip using them!  It was very interesting. 

Our tour probably lasted a total of about an hour and a quarter, with about 40 minutes actually inside the cave.

After returning to camp, I hooked up the Saturn ready for tomorrow's departure.  I then installed the newly downloaded program and tried the cell modem.  I immediately connected and received two more email messages.  It works!

Tomorrow we have a short drive of only a little over a hundred miles.  We expect to take one of our factory tours tomorrow afternoon.

Friday, June 4, 1999

My dad was born on June 4, 1899.  He would have been 100 years old today!

We got up this morning and finished securing the motor home contents for travel.  I dumped the tanks and filled with water.  

We headed out just before 9:00 and headed for the Lexington, KY area.  We decided to take a loop road, Man-O-War Drive, several miles south of the freeway loop road around the city, figuring that traffic would be less a little farther from the city.  Bad decision!  There were about 20 traffic signals between where we entered Man-O-War drive, and where we exited it.  We would periodically lose sight of Keith and Virg, then several signals later we would catch up again.  We managed to maintain radio contact the whole way.  Next time, we will certainly drive a few more miles and stay on freeway status highways!

The area around Lexington was really beautiful!  There are a lot of horse tracks and horse farms.  There are literally thousands of acres of Kentucky Bluegrass (I assume) fields with rail fences around them.  As we passed the airport, there were huge lawns around it with the same rail fences.  It was a really scenic area!

We had our first destructive mechanical failure this leg!  The window shade over the dinnette slipped out of its mounting clip and crashed to the table, splitting the edge of the plastic (2 for $1.00 type) bin I had attached to the table for Betty to keep some of her necessities in.  I think some duct tape will repair the damaged basket.  I did a little re-forming of the clip and I think it will hold the shade better now.

We reached our campground, the Fort Boonesborough State Park, located on the Kentucky River, before noon.  There are about 150 sites here, well spaced, with lots of grass and trees.  This is definitely a "destination park".  There are a lot of kids riding bicycles, people with elaborate setups around their rigs, and lots of people out walking and sitting by their units.  The trailer across from us has a plant stand that drives into the ground and hangs several plants, a couple of miniature mailboxes on posts in the ground, a couple of small duck figures, a couple of other decorative items out front, and of course the little lanterns on the fringe of the awning.

After settling in, we left the park to find Churchill Weavers, in Berea, about 25 miles away.  This is a company which makes woven products strictly by hand.  The looms were designed and built by the original owners, and have some powered parts, but all the pattern selection and shuttle operations are done manually.

When we arrived we were told the weavers finished their week's work by around noon, and all had gone home.  When we started to do the tour, we found they also locked up the weaving room!  No weavers, no tour.  So much for Friday afternoon tours!  We did look around their gift shop and saw some very nice merchandise.  Their "throws" were very soft and (as Betty says) cuddly, and were priced generally over $200.

We headed back to camp, and stopped just short at the Boonesborough Fort.  It turns out that the "Fort" was built in 1975.  It is a recreation of the actual fort which is some distance away.  I may be a cynic, but the new fort may be better located for tourists.  There is an entrance fee.  The monument out front is dedicated to the members of the Boonesborough Society, not the victims of any hostile actions at the original fort.

We went into the gift shop and looked at some very nice merchandise.  We even bought several items.  It was an interesting stop.

Tomorrow we separate from the Scholls for several days.  We will head into West Virginia for an overnight stop on our way to Lexington, VA.  From there we will drive the Saturn to Lynchburg, VA to visit Betty's brother's youngest daughter, Jane, and her family.

Keith and Virg are going to Morristown, TN to visit a cousin of Keith's he has not seen since childhood.  We will meet the Scholls again at our campground in Lexington on Monday.

Saturday, June 5

It was very quiet last night.  With so many people in the park, we figured there might be parties or noisy people in general.  When we got up around 8:00 it was still quiet.  There weren't even any of the many kids out yet.

We had a back-in site here, so we had to pull out and hook up.  We said our goodbyes to Keith and Virg, made sure we all understood where to meet on Monday, and pulled out.

We had good highway to Charlestown, West Virginia.  Just after passing the gold domed capitol building, we turned of onto US60.  This is a secondary road which basically follows the Kanawha River.  This road passed through one small town after another.  In some of the towns, there were houses on both sides of the road, the railway tracks behind the houses to our right, and then the river.  In other towns, the porches of the houses and some of the commercial buildings extended right to the edge of the road.  It was very strange to be driving that close to some of these structures.  In general we were able to travel 55 between towns and 35 to 45 through them.  

Then we got to the mountainous section!

The road was narrow, winding, and steep!  Most of the turns were marked 15 or 20 mph, and they meant it!  The road seemed to be reverse banked, although I'm sure it wasn't really.  The road went either up or down.  It didn't seem to have any level sections.  The grades were all marked at 8%.  Our poor little(?) motor home performed admirably, huffing and puffing her load, including us, Muffy, all our stuff, and the Saturn up and down and around all the obstacles without a complaint.

It was a very interesting drive and I (mostly) enjoyed it, but I would not want to do it again!

We reached camp around 2:15, found a very long site and tucked ourselves way in the back of it.  After getting all squared away, we took the Saturn and toured Bradford State Park and the surrounding areas.  It is beautiful country!

After going to bed, I looked out the bedroom window to see if I could see any lights of other campers, and noticed something out of the corner of my eye; it was fireflies!  As I watched, they blinked here and there.  I'm not sure what conditions are required for fireflies, but this is the first time this trip we have seen them, and only the 3rd or 4th time I have ever seen them!

Tomorrow we head for Lexington, VA to stay for a couple of nights.  We will visit Jane, Shan, and their kids in Lynchburg in the afternoon, and help Joshua celebrate his 12th birthday.  Monday is a "free" day for exploring, shopping, maybe a haircut (badly overdue), and relaxing.  The Scholls are due here tomorrow.

Sunday, June 6

We have a short drive today of a little over 100 miles.  We got up, hooked up, and were out by about 9:00.

We had a few more miles of US60's twists and turns, but then it got much better.  The last 2/3 of the trip was on divided highway.  

We stopped in town and fueled up the motor home.  We were quite disappointed at the high price.  We had to pay $1.05!  (Shows how quickly we Californians forget!)  We have paid from .94 to .99 the last few states.

We found our park in Lexington, VA without a problem, but wondered a little as we drove down a very steep driveway into the park.  We then drove up, around, and down again after registering and backed into our site and were totally level.

It is a rustic camp, hewn out of the forest.  It is very pretty.  Three sites down from ours there is a tree stump that has been carved into the shape of a giant standing bear, about 10 feet tall.  There is a rec room with pool table, air hockey, and several video games, and the office has a small camper's store.

This is another Passport America park and our two night's stay was $18+.  We have now saved over $33 against our 39.95 investment - and we have six weeks to go!  We reserved the space next to ours for the Scholls who will meet us here tomorrow.

Shortly after getting set up, a cardinal flew right outside our windows and landed just across the street.  After foraging a bit, he flew right back, just feet from us.  They are a beautiful bird and we have now seen several during our various trips.  This is the first for this trip.  We think he lives just behind where we are parked, because we then saw him and his mate a number of additional times.

I walked up to the office and called Jane and Shan, and finalized our plans to visit them.  They gave us detailed instructions to get to their house and they agreed exactly with the route we determined from my computer map program.  

We had a good drive over to Lynchburg, even though much of it was via the dreaded US60!  This section was quite good and no problem at all in the Saturn, and really would not have been a problem in the motor home either.  We had allowed about an hour for the drive, but it took somewhat longer.

We had a marvelous visit with Jane and Shan and their children Brianna, 16; Joshua, 12 (as of today); Rian, 10; and Emily, 7.  Jane is Betty's niece.  Her father, Dick Lindley is Betty's brother.  Living in Virginia, while most of the rest of the family is in California, they don't see too much of the family, and we were  welcomed with open arms.

They recently bought a house of their own.  It is a really nice three level (two stories plus a finished basement) brick house with a large yard.  The street can get quite busy, but their driveway extends clear past the house and turns to exit on the side street.  Their lot is L shaped with a section behind their next door neighbor.  Besides the driveway, they have a small shed and a number of fruit trees on this section.

We helped Joshua celebrate his 12th birthday by wolfing down massive quantities of pizza and root-beer (I'm speaking of myself, not Betty here), and wearing party hats under the crepe paper streamers.  It was a very festive occasion.

I borrowed their phone line and updated the church web site and sent and received a number of email messages.  We used their sit-down-inside-on-a-comfortable-chair type telephone and called several 800 numbers to verify account balances on credit cards so we can pay them on time.

We totally enjoyed our visit.  We had last seen them in 1994 during our year in New Jersey.  We had intended to stay about 3 hours, and ended up staying over 5 1/2!  We left about 10:30 and got back to camp at 10 minutes to midnight.

Monday, June 7

This is our "free" day, so we slept in!  I got up and worked on this report and did a couple of things around the motor home.  I then ran into town and found a barber.  After waiting for about 2 1/2 haircuts ahead of me, I finally got my WAY overdue haircut.  I had tried to go to my regular barber just before leaving home, and found he was in New Mexico until a couple of days after our departure, so I postponed it.

Then Betty and I drove to the Blueridge Parkway and drove it for 40 miles.  The first 15 or so miles are the same ones we drove in 1994 during a heavy thunderstorm.  It was gorgeous today!  This is such a beautiful drive!  The entire roadway is lined with bright green grass to the edge of the road.  The trees and bushes are almost solid and extend up on each side of the road.  There are rhododendrons in bright pink bloom along many areas of the drive.  It is really pretty!

Getting back to Lexington, we drove around the town.  Virginia Military Institute (VMI) is here and its campus is beautiful!

We then looked for a market to buy some milk and a couple of other food items.  We could not find one!  We decided to drive past highway 39, where our park is located, to see what is in that direction.  About 500 feet past the highway is a Wal-Mart super center.  We went in and got our items.  As I got back in the car to head back to camp, the right lens fell out of my fairly new glasses.  I looked (as best as I could without my glasses) and the clamp screw that holds the lens in had fallen out.  I walked back into Wal-mart to the vision center, and in 5 minutes they had repaired my glasses and would not charge me!  I'm impressed!

We got back to camp about 6:00 and found Keith and Virg waiting for us.  They said they had had a marvelous day with Keith's cousin.  Although they had not seen each other for almost 50 years, they were right at home immediately.

In the course of their conversation Keith mentioned that their grandmother had shown him a light bulb many years ago.  His cousin interrupted him excitedly saying that she had it!  She brought out a special box and removed a light bulb.  It was very old with a slim looped filament.  When you touch the bulb, the filament vibrates so fast you cannot see it for a number of seconds.  Inside the glass support for the filament is a small piece of paper with the name Edison. It really brought back memories for Keith to see it again.  

According to his cousin, the bulb still works!

Late this afternoon, as I was talking to our next door neighbor, who is driving a Gulfstream Sun Voyager, Betty called that the phone was ringing.  I ran in and answered it.  It was a friend for whom I sometimes do computer work, wanting to know if I could work on his system tonight.  I answered that it could be arranged for enough money!

This was my first received call, and proves that the system works!

Tomorrow we are heading up to Middletown, VA which is just north of the northern end of the Shenandoah National Park.  It is a short drive which will allow some time to drive into the park in our cars.

Tuesday, June 8

We got up and connected, and left before 9:00 heading north toward Strasburg, VA.  We had a very smooth drive of just about 100 miles.  A couple of miles out of Strasburg is Middletown where our campground is.  We pulled into the Battle of Cedar Creek Campground and got set up.  Later, talking to the lady who runs the campground, I found that this is the only location where, during the Civil War, both sides each won and lost a battle on the same day.

The Northern troops were camped just north of here.  The Southern troops circled around a mountain and came in above the Northern troops.  They literally chased them out of camp in their underwear, with their coffee still on the fire.  They gathered up as many supplies as they could and proceeded south.  They were bottlenecked getting across at the bridge just below the current rec hall at the campground, where General Slauson's(?) Northern reinforcements from Washington D.C. arrived and retook the bridge.  This was known as Slauson's Run.  (I think she said his name was Slauson, but it's been more than ten minutes . . .)

We are camped in a very historical location.  This whole area is just loaded with history!   As we drive around we encounter historical markers everywhere.

At our last site in Lexington, we were surrounded by tall trees, and I figured I would really have to work to find a location for our satellite dish.  Just for kicks, I cranked up the rooftop dish and swung it around to the correct heading and elevation.  I had a signal of 65!  I couldn't believe it.  I must have been just in line with a small hole through the foliage.

Today we parked in another stand of trees with very few openings to the south.  I again cranked up the roof dish and got a signal of 80!  This is higher than I get at home.  I have always said it is better to be lucky than good!

After getting settled in, eating lunch, taking a short nap, and gathering our "stuff", we headed out for a drive on Skyline Drive along the ridge in the Shenandoah National Park.

It was a few miles in the Saturn to the entrance to the park.  Once in, we started south on Skyline Drive.  It is another totally gorgeous drive!  The best comparison I have is to compare it to I-163 through Balboa Park which I think it is the most beautiful roadway we have in our home area.  This drive was like 35 miles of Balboa Park, with numerous scenic overlooks.  The Shenandoah Valley was quite hazy today, but the view was still spectacular.  A slide show we saw at a visitor's center, said the haze is very common due to the moisture given off by the many trees.  It also noted that the problem is made a lot worse by pollution joining with the natural haze.

All in all, Skyline Drive is over 100 miles long.  We covered the northerly 35 miles of it.

Tomorrow we head to the Gettysburg area.

Wednesday, June 9

Today was a fun day!  We were on the road to Gettysburg by about 8:45 and had a fairly smooth drive.  We drove about 120 miles and were in 4 states!  We started in Virginia, quickly crossed into West Virginia, then briefly into Maryland, and finally into Pennsylvania.

The only "fun" part of the drive was getting into Gettysburg.  We went along several miles of narrow two lane road with lots of towns and a few signals.  We knew we could get to the highway we needed by going into the center of town.  It also looked like we could cut across before town on one of two roads.  We could not find street signs for either, so we went into town.  At the very center was a traffic circle, with a number of spoke like roads exiting from it.  We only had to go around to the adjacent spoke.  I waited quite a while for a break to enter.  Finally I saw a gap slightly longer than previous ones and I pulled in cutting off a local sheriff.  He didn't seem to mind.  Keith had a little more trouble getting into the circle, but finally got in before I was totally out of sight.  We then had to make a couple of sharp turns from narrow road to narrow road.

We found the campground which has 300 spaces!  It is a corporate operation with very stringently followed rules.  Since we arrived before 3:00 (it was about 11:00), the check-in time, we had to pay an extra 1/2 day's fee.  Camps in this area are very expensive.  The regular rate was 28.00 plus 3.00 to use air-conditioning.  Fortunately this is a Passport America park and our total, including the 1/2 day was $25.40.

After lunch, we headed to the Gettysburg National Park Visitor's Center.  There we bought admission to the Electric Map and to the tour of the Eisenhower Farm National Historic Site.

The Electric Map is a large scale model of the Gettysburg battlefield, in an auditorium surrounded by stadium seats.  There is a 30 minute program which describes in detail the three days of battles there.  Electric lights embedded in the model light to show the locations of the troops, the cities, even campfires of the troops.  It played out the movements for all three days, and really gave me an appreciation of what actually happened there.

We went out to the parking lot immediately after the show, and parked behind a school bus type vehicle that is used to transport tourists to the Eisenhower Farm.  We were given a windshield pass that allowed us to follow the bus.  We drove for about 10 minutes, and then turned into a totally unmarked long driveway.  The only marking was "No Vehicles Beyond This Point".  As we drove in we could see a large barn and a moderate size house.

The ranger that gave us the initial tour was a retired school teacher who was born and raised in Gettysburg.  He added a lot of personal insight to the talk.  At one point during his early part time service for the government, during Ike's presidency, he got a call to "lock the gate".  There is a tall observation tower, built over 100 years ago, that overlooks the battlefields and the Eisenhower Farm.  Whenever foreign dignitaries visited the farm, they would lock access to the tower to eliminate the possibility of a terrorist sharpshooter.  He had no idea why the gate was to be locked, but later found out he the visitor was Nikita Kruschev!

Ike hosted many other heads of state including deGaulle, Winston Churchill, Nehru, etc. Regardless of who the visitor to the farm was, the tour always started out with Ike driving them around the farm on a golf cart.  He would show the barn, the cows, and the other out door features of the farm.  Our ranger told us he often used this tour to size up his guests, and to start the bonding process.  In a very short visit by Kruschev, the two men started to get quite close, to the point of talking about their grandchildren.  This closeness was destroyed permanently several months later with the Francis Gary Powers U2 spy plane incident.

We then toured the house.  We first went into the formal living room, which our guide stated was not used for Eisenhower living at all.  If you were his guest, you would go into the living room where all the portraits, gifts, and other fine objects were displayed.  You would not be offered a seat, but would be quickly ushered to the sun room, an enclosed porch where they practically lived.  Here you would be seated, maybe play a game of bridge, have a discussion, or watch TV.  Ike once said that if he ever had to remodel another house, he would start with the sun room, and then stop.

It was a very interesting tour.  Betty could not go upstairs, but was shown a book of photos by the guide while the others and I went upstairs.

After seeing the house, we took a brief tour of the grounds, ending up in the Reception Center, which has displays of Eisenhower's life and career, a short video of his life playing on a couple of TV sets, and a book store.

On our way home after the tour, we reached a milestone on our trip.  We found our first Friendly's!  This is a chain of coffee shop / ice cream parlors which are primarily located in the Northeast.  The year we were in New Jersey, it was our absolute favorite!  Dinner tonight was great!

After returning to the campground, we decided not to leave early tomorrow, but to go for a tour of Snyder's of Hanover, a pretzel and potato chip manufacturer.  We will then head for our selected campground in the Lancaster, Pennsylvania Dutch, area of the state.

Thursday, June 10

Report #5 went out last night very smoothly via cellphone!  It works so well, it's a shame it costs so much.  Actually I connected twice last night.  Our daughter, Debbie sent a message about business that required an answer, so I connected using the cell phone again and sent it.  Technology is marvelous!

We got up this morning, a travel day, and didn't worry about getting the motor home ready to travel!  Instead Virgilee, Betty, and I (Keith stayed to dog sit) went to the factory of Snyder's of Hanover, in Hanover, PA.  about 12 miles the other side of Gettysburg.  In reality, I think it was considerably farther.  It was actually all the way through Hanover and into the adjacent city.

They make pretzels, potato chips, tortilla chips, and a variety of other snack foods.  They offer factory tours, but in calling before leaving we found out that although the store is accessible, the tour is not!  We decided to go anyway.

Upon arriving, we asked about joining the 10:00 tour and were told that you need to reserve a place 24 hours ahead of time.  The lady then said she would see what she could do and paged someone.  A little time later, Ray came down and introduced himself.  He was very apologetic about his appearance.  He usually dresses in a tie and coat for tours, and today was dressed like a normal person.  Betty stayed in the store, while Virg and I took the tour.  We were the tour!

It was very interesting.  We went up a flight of stairs to a hallway with windows overlooking the factory on both sides below.  The tour was not in the correct sequence of manufacturing, but that didn't matter.

First we saw the warehousing area with bales of cartons, stocks of all the required packaging materials, sections of finished product on pallets, and some of the raw materials.  He pointed out that this was merely a staging area for the finished product.  None of it ever spends more than 36 hours on these shelves before being shipped.  The factory runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, except on national holidays.

Next we went to a huge room where overhead conveyors were transporting boxes of pretzels just under the ceiling, looping around while descending, and ending up feeding a series of machines which each had a number of separate "lanes" the box could be fed to.  A predetermined number of boxes would stack up in the first lane, then the gate shifted to fill the second, etc.  When the pallet sized area was fillet with boxes, arms moved them to the palletizer station which stacked the proper number of layers on a pallet and wrapped them.

We then came to the carton filling stations.  Here on some stations machines would get an empty flat carton from a stack.  Arms would open it, fold the bottom flaps and tape it.  The carton would then slide down a conveyor to a machine that loaded it with the correct number of packages of product.  Another machine would flip the top flaps into position and tape it.  There was a continuous line of full, sealed cartons moving down another conveyor.  In other areas, these same processes were being done by human operators.

The next area we saw was the weighing and bagging.  Here a conveyor had a constant supply of pretzels or chips.  The flow would start and stop as required.  At the end of the conveyor was a large machine that dispensed flavoring in the case of products like barbecue chips.  When the conveyor moved, flavor was dispensed, when it stopped, so did the seasoning.  Below the end of this conveyor was a circular array of 14 weighing hoppers.  Chips fell into all of these hoppers, each of which was constantly weighing its contents.  The computer determined which combination of hoppers added up to the least amount over the package weight, and dropped their contents to a large funnel below that fed the bagging station.  The bag was then sealed, cut, and dropped onto another conveyor.

Next, still working backwards, we saw their ovens.  They have seven of the world's largest ovens, 150 feet long, that each bake between 2000 and 2500 pounds of product per hour.  The belts are about six feet wide and have a constant flow of product out the end, through the salter, and into the bottom section of the oven which is the drying section.  The product is still slightly damp after baking.

We did not get to see the origins of the pretzels, but were shown a videotape.  Their large size pretzels are rolled and twisted.  The process for this starts with about 600 pounds of dough.  Large hunks are cut off and fed into a bank of twisting machines.  These remove a controlled amount of dough, feed it between rollers that roll it to a pencil sized cylinder about 6 or 8 inches long.  These continue down and are wrapped around mandrels to the final shape by machine fingers, and are then dropped onto a conveyor.

All the other sizes of pretzels are extruded.  A huge die has 24 openings the shape of the final pretzel.  Dough is slowly extruded through these openings and cut off with a machine operated knife at the rate of 72 times a minute.  24 times 72 is a lot of pretzels each minute for each station!

We then saw the beginnings of the potato chip line.  A huge hopper was being kept full from tractor-trailers outside.  A steady flow of potatoes came from the bottom into a large machine that washed and peeled them.  They then passed down a conveyor, past an inspector who cut the largest ones in half, and cut out any bad parts.  These then passed into the slicer and another washer.  The raw slices then passed into a huge closed station where they were fried.  As they exited this machine, they were salted and headed along the conveyor toward the packaging stations.  They use over 800,000 lbs of potatoes a week!

We could see some of the same operations taking place at the far edge of the factory on tortilla chips.

We ended our tour back at the factory store.  We almost could not get our purchases (ours and Virg's) into the back seat of the Saturn!

We went back to camp, had lunch, and hit the road.

This was NOT a fun drive today!  First we had to drive back through the center of Gettysburg, through the infamous traffic circle, and out to the northeast.  Initially the road and traffic were fine.  Then we came to a halt!  We spent about 30 minutes inching our way along, and finally found the culprit was a traffic signal!  We then continued on in a drizzle, in heavy traffic for a number of additional miles.  Finally we hit 4 lane divided road, left most of the construction areas behind, and we were traveling comfortably again.

After getting close to our campground, we were again on 2 lane country roads.  We came up behind one Amish buggy with several young children grinning out the open back window.  (We know it was Amish because the buggy top was gray, the Mennonite's buggies have black tops.)  We shortly passed them easily on a clear, straight stretch of road.

We had a little problem finding our campground, but when we figured our directions, did succeed in locating it.  It is another large campground, and we signed up for 3 nights.  It is also another Passport America camp so we paid $45 for 3 nights instead of $90.  We are in the black!  It would have paid for the membership on this camp alone!  I think I mentioned that campgrounds are expensive in this area!  Our camp is about 25 miles east of Lancaster, PA in the heart of Amish country.  We finally got set up in our campsite around 4:00.

Betty and I drove about 45 miles from camp to Newark, Delaware to scout out a restaurant to meet Jim and Anna Harris on Saturday.  Jim was a fellow Wesley House member some 40+ years ago.  We found a place to meet and called Jim and Anna on our cell phone, and made the final arrangements for Saturday.

Trivia Note:  Jim and I were charter members of Wesley House starting in 1957 at Cal Poly University in San Luis Obispo.  The house has continued in operation up to the current time, and our son David (along with another boy, Brady Keays) was the first 2nd generation member.  

The sky has been gray all day, with some light rain, but by the time we returned to camp at around 7:00, the sun was starting to break through.

Friday, June 11

We have 3 whole, luxurious days in one campsite!  Well, maybe only 2 1/2, but who's counting?  This morning we got up, ate, did some motor home chores, and got ready to leave on our tourist business.  

Our site here is not very level, and the hydraulic levelers on the motor home would not pick up the front enough.  We thought it was close enough, but we both notices that we were climbing uphill to go toward the bedroom, and coasting down the other way.  This morning I drove the MH up on ramps under the front wheels, blocked under the levelers and achieved near perfect level.  I also added oil to the engine this morning.

We headed out on our mission as tourists and checked out some of the better known areas first.  Being a weekday, the traffic was not too bad, and we saw a lot of interesting areas.  

We again found Kauffmans Market.  We first found this in 1978 when we and our kids spent over 3 weeks touring the east coast.  Our son, Dave still remembers the extremely tart apples we bought there.  We again found it when we were here in 1994 during our New Jersey year.  It is a small market, but it carries just about everything!  They carry a lot of dry products in bulk, many repackaged in smaller sizes for sale.  They have dried pastas, oatmeal, tapioca, flavored gelatin, powdered soup mixes, powdered cheese, spices, candies, etc.

We are sure it is owned by Amish, and caters to the Amish.  About a third of the parking lot is a rail for tying horses, and it is common to see one or more buggies parked there.  A number of Amish folks came into the market while we were there.

We then headed down the road and stopped at The Old Village Store.  It was just loaded with Betty's kind of stuff.  It had tapestries, stuffed animals, shaped soaps, candles, books, and many other gifts and crafts.  It is not local Amish merchandise.

In the back of the store is a "covered bridge" that takes you into a separate, similar store, which leads across to yet another one.  From this you head toward the street again to a hardware store.  Now we can find worthwhile items!  They carried chain, bolts, cabinet hardware, electrical items, kerosene lanterns, lamp oil, dowels, many galvanized buckets, and some large cast bells that mount on the top of a post.  This was a much more interesting place than the others!  (Dick's opinion.)    

As we headed back we passed a store called Peoples Place.  This was the publisher of a book I bought several days ago, entitled "20 Most Asked Questions about the Amish and Mennonites".  At the Old Village Store I purchased another book put out by them called "Living Without Electricity".  I thought it would be interesting to drop in and see their operation.  It was a very nice building and was a book store.  All the titles referenced in my books were there, along with videotapes and many other region specific books.

Since one of the things we had bought at Kauffman's was a gallon of fresh pressed, flash pasteurized apple cider, we headed back to the campground.

As we neared the campground road, we saw Keith leaving with his motor home.  He had been looking for a place to get his oil changed, and obviously found one.

After lunch, we headed back out.  Now that we had done the main tourist roads, we headed for the back country!  We selected a number of narrow farm roads and followed them to see where they lead, and to see if we could find some less commercialized treasures.

We didn't find nearly as many of the off-the-beaten-track small businesses, usually located on a farm, as we did in 1994, but we thoroughly enjoyed poking around through all the farms and back roads.

In the course of our looking around we came upon our all time favorite restaurant of the area - Shady Maple Smorgasbord.  I am sure we first found this also in 1978, again in 1994, and again now.  They have really good food and have 140 feet of buffet serving tables.  We had dinner there tonight and thoroughly enjoyed it.  I really tried restraint, but, as always, I ate too much!

This has been a wonderful day that we both totally enjoyed!  In the course of our travels we probably saw around 25 Amish and Mennonite buggies on the road, plus one on a front lawn with a sign "FOR SALE  $1250".  Any takers?

Saturday, June 12

Today is the day we head to Newark, DE to meet Jim and Anna!

We got up at a leisurely pace and did a few tidying up tasks.  I went out to talk to Keith and up came a horse drawn wagon with an Amish father and his daughter of about 10.  They were selling baked goods.  The wagon had bread, pies, cookies, cakes, rolls, and some preserves.  I bought a loaf of wheat bread, still warm, and a plate of chocolate chip cookies.  We had some of each, and both were delicious!

Betty asked if we could leave a few minutes early and stop at a farm that had a sign for quilts on the road, so we gathered up our things and headed for Newark.  We stopped at the farm advertising the quilts and drove down a driveway and around behind the house, following the signs.  When we got there, we found a full flight of stairs to get to the porch of the house, so we did not stay.  Later, we tried another place part way to Newark.  There were steps in the back, but the Amish or Mennonite lady who answered the door said there were less in front.  There she suggested we could roll the wheelchair across a section of their lawn and bypass all but one step.  That sounded good to me, when she said "But what about getting upstairs?"  She had the quilts upstairs in the house, apparently in an attic (It looked like a one story house).   I thanked her profusely and we left.

Part way to our meeting place the cell phone rang and it was Anna.  She said they had a delay leaving and were hitting worse traffic than they expected.  We told them we would see them when they arrived.  We scheduled to meet at a Friendly's restaurant at 1:00, and at 1:20 Jim, Anna, and Jim's mother arrived.

We had a marvelous visit.  We saw Jim in 1965, then twice in 1994.  We had a lot of catching up to do.  We were there about 3 1/2 hours, almost time for another meal!

We so enjoyed our visit!  It is a shame we cannot see many of our friends more often!  I was sorry we were not able to find ourselves closer together at a workable time.  Jim and family had to drive over two hours and we drove a little over one.  It was worth every mile!

On our way back we had a simple route:  follow 896 North to 10 North to a road that takes us almost directly to the campground.  Simple, right?  Wrong!  Part way home on 896 we came to a small unmarked intersection with an official vehicle parked across the road.  There had been a shooting ahead, and the suspect was still on the loose and was still armed.  I thought we were out of the areas where that type of thing happens!  The fireman who was manning the roadblock asked where we were heading when I went to him for help.  I told him and he said "Simple.  Just go that way to 796 left to 41 to 10.  We did, and it worked just fine!  I never would have been really lost as I had my GPS with a waypoint programmed in for our camp.

Even with our unscheduled detour a quick gas stop, and a few attempts at sprinkles, we still got home in about an hour and twenty minutes.

I am so glad we got to see the Harrises!

Sunday, June 13

Today was quite a day!

We got up and ready to go, went out to the dump station and dumped our tanks, then we hit the road headed for the Corning, NY area.

About 5 to 10 miles from camp, we were following State Route 10 when it turned and we didn't.  We found ourselves on a narrow farm road winding past a number of back country farms.  There was absolutely no place to turn our rigs around, so we proceded in north and east directions to try and intersect our original route.  A couple of the roads we took were part of a bicycle rally or race and at least 100 bikes and riders passed us in the opposite direction.

Eventually we came to a junction of SR 10!  The only problem was we didn't know if we were before or after the location where we were to change to another highway.  Between 2 navigators, many maps, 1 GPS, and a couple drivers we finally figured out where there was some possibility that we were.  

We were fairly well established on our route again, when we got to the city of Reading, PA.  There is a bypass loop around the west side of the city that we planned to take.  We started out fine, but did not realize that the loop consisted of segments of several different highways.  When we came to a junction we had a choice of two different highway numbers, so of course I followed the one I was on.  WRONG!  Instead of circling around the city, I was now heading due west!  We figured out what had happened, planned a much longer alternate route to get back to our course, and plugged on.

Did I tell you that Pennsylvania roads and maps are not well marked?

To make a long story short we took about 3 hours to arrive at the location we should have been in about an hour!  We still had 3+ hours of driving ahead of us.

After a fairly smooth balance of the drive we were closing in on our campground.  We missed a small sign at a corner and went several miles out of our way.  After discovering this error, we went back around our original route and made the turn.  Now we drove the prescribed route and passed several other signs for the campground.  The final instructions were to go .8 miles on Dee Road.  

We found Dee Road and proceeded up it.  We went well past the .8 miles with no sign of the camp.  We stopped and tried to call the camp via cell phone, but there was no answer.  We then drove up the road and found a place where the field was even with the edge of the road, and managed to make a very rough U-turn.  We went very slowly back down and are sure we spotted the campground.  The only way we could see to get there was through what appeared to be a private driveway that went right past a barn.  Not wanting to get our our motor homes filled with buckshot, there was no way we were going to drive up a non-labeled driveway.  We headed for another campground.
We arrived at the Camp Bell campground in Campbell, NY around 5:00 and got a couple of nice back-in sites.  We set up the satellite dishes and settled in for the evening.  After a couple of hours, we started to hear thunder.  The rain started lightly and quickly became a deluge.  The satellite signal froze for about 10 minutes while the heavy rain came.  Then the rain lightened up and the TV returned.

We'll sleep well tonight!

Monday, June 14

Today we do the Corning Museum of Glass.

We slept in this morning and got a leisurely start.  Around 10:00 we headed into Corning to see the museum.  We were there in 1994 and totally enjoyed our visit, with the only regret that we were there on a weekend and there were no craftsmen working in the Steuben glassware factory.

This time we made sure to miss the weekend.

We arrived at the museum after driving around construction areas and circling a block a couple of times to enter an exit-only driveway as directed by one of the flagmen.  We found a spot and bought our ticket.  

One of the new attractions is the Hot Glass Show.  We headed right over to it first.  It is a small stage with a couple high temperature ovens (about 2100 degrees F, and about 2400 degrees).  There are several banks of TV monitors above the stage and a number of cameras located around the various locations.  It is located above the Steuben glass factory where the finely crafted items are made by artisans.

The demonstration consisted of one of the Steuben craftsmen pulling some molten glass from the first oven on a long tubular rod.  He did some shaping by rolling it on a metal table top then rolling it in a wet shaped wooden paddle. He then blew into the tube, covering the end with his thumb.  Over the next several seconds, a bubble appeared inside the blob of hot glass.  Then with a series of additional blowing and shaping by spinning or swinging the whole tube so centrifugal force could act on the soft glass, along with occasional re-heating in the second oven, he tailored the shape as he desired.  After getting the basic shape right, he dropped the whole thing into a tapered, fluted mold, and blew to take on the shape.  He now did more spinning, blowing, and re-heating.  He occasionally used tong-like tools to neck down portions of the creation.

When he had finished the bottom portion of the bowl, the announcer took a solid rod, picked up a small amount of molten glass on the end and shaped it on the steel table top.  He then placed the glass on the bottom of the bowl and it stuck.  The first craftsman cut off the top of the creation and continued to work it using the newly attached bottom rod.

Now he performed the most spectacular step:  He put the bowl in the second oven with the front doors wide open, constantly spinning the rod.  Gradually the end of the bowl expanded until it was over a foot in diameter!  He then removed it and did a little gravity shaping to make it even and uniform.  The announcer again helped by donning a pair of fiberglass gloves, heating the surface at the mouth of the first oven, then holding the now hard outer diameter of the bowl (now almost a plate).  The bottom rod was tapped off and the announcer was holding a beautiful completed fluted edge shallow bowl with a decorative base.

The bowl had lost all traces of its orange color, but was still very hot (about 800 degrees F).  They dropped a piece of paper onto it, and it burst into flame.  The announcer explained that normally the piece would now go to an annealing step for about 8 hours to relieve the stresses, but all the demonstration pieces get dropped into a bucket of water, where it immediately fractures into a gazillion (or so) pieces.  The remnants will go back into the glass melt for future reuse.

The show was very well done, with the many TV cameras giving the audience an up-close view of a number of the steps, including one from within the second oven!  

We enjoyed this show very much, and actually watched 2 1/2 shows.  Each show made something different.  The first partial show made a deep bowl by almost the same technique except after spinning the large disk, he held it down and let it fall forming folds as the edge drooped bringing the shape to a V-shaped bowl.  The last complete show we saw made a pitcher complete with pouring spout and handle with non-slip ribs near the top of the handle.  As with the shallow bowl, these pieces were dropped into the cold water and immediately destroyed.

Following the show, we went downstairs to where the Steuben craftsmen were hard at work.  We could only see a couple of the stations up close, but we could see many other operations in the back of the shop.  The stations we could see were the engraving and polishing stations.  At the engraving station a man was very carefully cutting out a decal and applying it to a curved block of glass.  As we were watching, he wrote something on a piece of paper and brought it over to the window.  It said "New York skyline from New Jersey".  He held up the piece with a decal on the back of the NY buildings and several bridges engraved in great detail on the front.  It was a beautiful piece!

We then went up to go through the many rooms of glass displays.  Here we were disappointed.  They are working on a major new exhibition area which opens in less than a week.  They have taken the "prime" displays from the many rooms and condensed them to one room.  Items such as Benjamin Franklin's glass harmonica and the first attempt at the 200 inch Palomar telescope mirror blank were conspicuously missing.  (They will be in the new display when it opens.)

We saw the sculptured glass display area and saw items ranging from beautiful to bizarre.  We peeked into the new display area and could see some of the displays past the army of workmen hurriedly trying to finish in just a few days.

We spent some time in the gift shop area.  In the Steuben area, pieces ranged from several hundred dollars to several tens of thousands of dollars!  The common-folks area contained artistic creations ranging from several dollars to several hundred dollars.  In addition they had many boxes of Corelle dish sets and many individual dishes, glasses and plates.  We got out Scott free!

Even though we were disappointed at the reduced size of the displays, and that we missed the opening of their new area by so little, we thoroughly enjoyed our day there.

Shortly after leaving their parking lot, we started getting a few drops on our windshield.  Before we finished the 12 mile drive back to our motor home, it rained quite hard.  We got in during a dry section, and had a couple of hard showers during the next hour or so.  The weather report has a front passing over about now.  It should be dry and clear in the morning.

Tuesday, June 15

This is a travel day.  We head to the Adirondack area for a couple of nights.  From there we will drive the Saturn and tour the Lake Placid area.

We got on the road around 9:00 and headed north.  It was a smooth drive today with about 280 miles to our new camp.  We didn't get lost once, but I did have some problems in a gas station finding the diesel pumps, and then getting past a van that was parked at a gas pump, apparently having breakfast inside.  Finally the driver came out and moved the van.  This allowed me to get through the pumps to an area where I could turn around and approach the pump on the correct side.  After I finished pumping and paying, a man came out the door right behind me and got in the van.  Then they drove off.

Some time later we were heading north on an interstate highway, when we saw a deer bounding along on the edge of the road.  I immediately slowed down quickly (almost a panic stop!), the deer hesitated slightly, then bounded across the highway just in front of us, and over the center rail into the median!  Enough excitement for today!

There was one spot on the drive, shortly after we left a stretch of divided road where the two lane road climbed very steeply for about a mile.  I don't think I have ever climbed as steep a road except maybe my driveway, but that's short.  As we climbed, we got slower and slower.  I had to downshift a couple of times, but eventually made it.  The rest of the trip was smooth and uneventful.

We arrived at the campground around 4:00 and signed in using our Passport America cards.  We will be here for two nights.

Wednesday, June 16

We are heading to Lake Placid today.

First, on our way out of camp, we stopped at the pay phone and got our balances for a couple of monthly bills.  We then headed out for about a 200 mile drive in the Saturn.

The drive was a pretty one.  Initially we drove on the interstate, then we transitioned to scenic two lane roads.  Our route took up past a number of lakes and streams.  Actually we saw rivers, lakes, brooks, and ponds according to their names.

At Lake Placid we saw a number of US Olympic team facilities, both from the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics and for current team training.  Of the facilities we saw, the most spectacular were the ski jumps.  These were totally man made structures rising up from the ground.  They were not incorporated into the side of a mountain.  Most of our views of the jump towers were obscured to some degree by the trees.  We tried to go into the parking lot to see if the view was any better and came to a ticket booth.  For $10 Betty and I could have gone in and ridden the elevator up the tower.  We decided not to.

The town of Lake Placid is very tourist oriented.  We drove a number of blocks through wall to wall stores, snack shops, gift shops, restaurants, etc.  Shortly we were back in the country.  We passed about 12 additional lakes on our way home.

One very interesting lake was Long Lake.  It indeed was long, more like a river than a lake.  As we came into the town of Long Lake, the road passed over the lake and along the left side were several docks with float planes tied up.  There was a local aviation company that was advertising rides, lessons, etc.

Further down the lake we came upon a marina with a large boat storage shed with boats on three levels, numerous docks, and several more float planes.

During our year in New Jersey in 1994, we had planned a trip to the Lake Placid area, but for some reason other things always won out in the priority battles.  We now have finally gotten there and thoroughly enjoyed it! 

The campground owner said I could come to the office and use his phone line, so I think I will send this shortly, after I get a couple of items ready to post on the church web page.

Until our next episode,

Thursday, June 17

We made it!  This is our New England Adventure, and we are now in New England!

We had a good drive today (I think that means we didn't get lost!).  We left camp at about 9:00 after filling the water and dumping the tanks.  We headed north via a fairly complex series of road to road transitions.  

I had each turn programmed into my GPS.  Last night I worked out the last of the problems of programming the route on my computer using Street Atlas 6.0, then transferring the data directly to my GPS using a program called Waypoint Plus.  It is much faster and more accurate than my normal procedure of "driving" the route on the built in map, marking waypoints as I go.  I do like my toys!

After a little driving we crossed the border from New York into Vermont.  An hour or so more and we approached Shelburne, VT.  This is the home of the Vermont Teddy Bear Company.  We visited them in 1994, we even bought some of their stock.  As owners, we had to stop and make an inspection of our company.

They have a brand new factory since we were last here.  We found it and took a few parking spaces in their outer parking lot.  We went in and took their tour of the factory.  The guide we had was really quite funny.  He was constantly describing the processes and operations using bear puns.  He was extremely animated.

We saw the fur being die cut into shaped pieces.  This is done about 20 stacked sheets at a time.  The pieces are then sewn into individual bear pieces, arms, legs, head, and body.  This is all done with the pieces inside-out, so the stitching is hidden.  Each of the appendages is then stuffed by  World War II veterans.  Not the operators, but the machines.  The machines are surplus from a former life of filling military life vests, and in a quick "pssssssst" now fill bear parts.

After stuffing, each appendage is finished with a plastic joint, which leaves a round pin sticking out.  This is placed through a hole in the body, and a large plastic washer is snapped on inside the body.  The body is now stuffed and the back of the body is hand sewn with a special stitch that pulls the fabric shut and hides the stitching.

The bear is then dressed to order and is placed in a special shipping box.  With the new safety laws, they have added an airbag to the box, and to insure that the bear can breath OK during transit, there is a special air hole in the box.

We seem to have left the factory store with a new family member.  She is a vanilla furred lady bear with a lacy dress and purple apron and hair bow.  She hasn't been named yet.

We had our lunch in their parking lot (I got permission from one of the owners!), and then continued on.  We passed through Montpelier, the capitol of Vermont and saw the gold capitol dome as we drove by.

Our campground is about 15 miles out of the capitol.  We arrived and signed up for 3 nights (this is another Passport America park, so was 1/2 price at $7 a night).  The owner is in the process of upgrading the plumbing and electrical, so both were off as we pulled into our sites.  Within a few minutes he had both working.  We had a little trouble leveling as the ground slopes somewhat to the left, but driving on blocks under the left wheels left us almost level, and the levelers finished the job perfectly.

The weather forecast was for the possibility of showers today, but we didn't have a drop until a couple of hours after we arrived.  It then started to rain lightly and increased somewhat for a couple of hours.  The TV weather radar looks like it will be clear by morning and through the weekend.

Friday, June 18

Last night we made the mistake of starting to watch "Hello Dolly" on AMC at 10:00.  Betty didn't last and went to bed about an hour before it ended, but I toughed it out until 12:30.  One of my favorite CD's is the PBS special that Michael Crawford did with Dale Christian.  We wanted to watch the first part of the movie to see him in his role as Barnaby.  His voice certainly has developed in the 25 or 30 years since.

We woke up this morning to the patter of a light rain on the roof.  The front was supposed to pass through last night, but had stalled slightly.  We were planning to leave for the Rock of Ages quarry at about 9:00.  By the time Keith came over at 9:00 to join us for the tour, the rain had stopped.

We headed for the quarry.  The first place we saw was the manufacturing facility.  We wanted to start at the visitor's center, about a mile further up the road.  Here there was a display/gift store with all varieties of granite items.  There were clocks, chess boards, apples, and just about anything you could imagine made from solid granite.

We went over to the corner of the room and watched a video on their history and current operations.  It showed how they drill using mostly blast wands which burn fuel oil and air.  These cut the granite much faster than conventional drills.  They then use prima cord in every other hole to create the split.  Huge derricks lift out the slabs which are then cut into sizes that are more able to be handled.  

We bought tickets for the bus tour of the quarry, then went out back to see the old "historical" quarry which has been closed for a number of years.  There was a combination of wooden and steel derricks here.  Currently, all derricks are steel.  The bottom of the quarry was filled with water forming a small lake.  I'm sure that they either arranged for drainage, or pumped out the water when it was an active operation.

The only remaining steam locomotive, specially designed for operations up and down the mountain to the quarry is on display near the historic quarry.  Five of these were built in a 0-6-2 configuration, with very short wheelbases for the ability to turn tightly.  Also the design concentrates the weight over the drive wheels for maximum traction.  These locomotives typically worked on zig-zag tracks, constantly switching back to climb and descend the steep grades.

It was now time for our tour.  The bus had a wheelchair lift in the back and we quickly got Betty aboard.  The tour was to the active quarry, about a mile away from the visitor's center.  On the way out, we passed a storage yard outside a sawing facility.  There were stacks of granite blocks, plates, and sheets.  These were of various colors, ranging from the local gray granite, to some imported red, dark gray, and other variations.  The tour guide said there were 47 different colors of granite.

We ended at the quarry at an observation point.  We got out of the bus and viewed the operations down in the large hole in the ground.  Shortly after we go there, the work stopped for lunch and the derricks lowered bright yellow houses down.  Workers got into these houses and were lifted out of the hole and placed on the surface.

After the bus returned us to the visitor's center, we got in the Saturn and headed for the manufacturing plant.  We got there with about 10 minutes of their lunch hour remaining, so Keith and I walked through a display of burial monuments, which is the primary product of this plant.

We went into the plant and the first area we saw was the slab polishing.  They use large machines which have "cutting heads" that look like large fly-cutters.  The head moves back and forth, then steps in the other direction and repeats.

We could not see the area that cut the slabs into the size and shape required for the monuments.  Next we saw the area where the layouts were applied to the granite.  Artisans worked with paper overlays, drawing the designs.  Next the slabs were coated with a rubber protector, which has the desired letters and bold patterns cut through.  The slabs go into the sand blasting room and the patterns are cut where the rubber does not protect it.

The next area we saw, and the most interesting, was the hand sculpturing area.  There were a couple of men using air powered chisels, delicately sculpting 3-D images.  One monument was about 5 or 6 feet wide red granite with the names engraved on the bottom.  In the center, the top curved up around an image of Mary and Jesus.  He was still doing the finishing touches on the sculpting.

We saw a giant crucifix we had been told about.  It was a cross at least 10 feet tall with a very detailed sculpture of Jesus on it.  According to the tour guide we had at the visitor's center, the artist has been working on it for about a year!  He was not there while we were.

We headed back to camp after a very enjoyable morning.

After lunch and a nap, we headed out again, going the other direction.  We went about 10 miles to the city of Cabot and stopped at the Cabot Creamery.  They make cheese and distribute it nationwide.

We took the tour starting with a video.  We then went through a hall with observation windows into the factory.  They have a number of huge vats into which they pump thousands of gallons of milk.  They add a starter and heat the tank.  As the reaction starts, they run giant combs through to keep the curds free.  When all is ready, they pump the contents.  The curds go up to a tower where gravity compresses them into blocks of cheese.  The whey is pumped separately for other uses.

At the bottom of the tower, a machine cuts the cheese into about 42 pound blocks, ejects them into a plastic bag, and rolls it down a conveyor.  A vacuum packing machine then pulls the air out and seals the bag.  The block is put into a carton and sent to the aging area.  Mild cheddar is aged about 2 months, sharp, about 6 months.  Extra sharp is aged about 12 months, and their Vintage, up to 36 months.

After stocking up on various cheeses, we headed to the Goodrich Maple Farm.  This was a small wooden building adjacent to a gravel parking lot.  I went in to make sure we were in the right place.  I was.  There was a young girl, about 12, who, when I asked about a tour, said "Well, I don't do tours very well.  Well, OK."  I brought Betty in and we had our tour.  This consisted of viewing a large machine consisting of enclosed tanks and observation windows.

The tree sap is brought to a downstairs tank by hoses from each tree.  There are over 11,000 of them!  Each tree produces about 8 gallons of sap a year.  This processes down to about a quart of syrup.  The factory produces about 3000 gallons of syrup a year.  We didn't actually see any syrup being processed, as they have a short season, having finished for the year early this Spring.  The ownership of the operation is into its 7th generation.

Saturday, June 19

This morning we went to Ben and Jerry's!  My kind of product!  The location we went to is the original factory for the ice cream duo.  They have since added a couple of additional sites in Vermont.

We signed up for the tour as soon as we arrived.  The tour left about 2 minutes later.  We went upstairs and saw a video of their history and philosophy.  Ben and Jerry met in high school.  They got acquainted when in gym class they both lagged the rest of the class in running laps.  The coach told them that if they didn't complete it in 7 minutes they would have to run another lap.  Their response was that if they couldn't do it in 7 minutes the first time, they certainly wouldn't the 2nd.

From there they started a small ice cream business in an old service station, hoping to make enough to survive.  They took a correspondence course from Penn State called "Ice Cream".  The course cost $5.00.  They did things right and they flourished.  When they decided they needed to grow, they offered public shares only to Vermont residents.  About 1 in every 100 Vermonters became co-owners of Ben and Jerry's.  The factory we toured was built with the cash influx from the public offering.  The early investors did very well with their investment.  To this day, they put 7.5% of their pre-tax profits into local philanthropic projects.

After the movie, we moved to a windowed room overlooking the factory.  The tour guide explained each step in the operation.  Only one of the two lines was running today, as it is Saturday.  Monday is also a one line day.  They are closed Sunday.  Half the employees have Saturday and Sunday off, the other half Sunday and Monday.

Most of the manufacturing process takes place inside stainless steel tanks, but the part that has lots of action is the carton loading station.  Operators keep stacks of the cartons loaded in racks.  A turntable loads two cartons in adjacent holes.  The table indexes around and ice cream is squirted into the two.  Another index and the lids are laid down on top and a band completes the lid.  The last station drops the two cartons on a conveyor.  This is a short conveyor which allows the cartons to drop off the end.  As they drop, they turn upside down and land on their lids on another conveyor.  Actually there are two conveyor belts one running just a little faster than the other.  This staggers the position of the two cartons.  An angled bar slides the cartons to one edge and they proceed single file down the line.  They pass under a station that sprays the expiration date and batch number on the bottom.  From here they pass on to the freezer elevator that operates at -40 degrees F. (or C. at -40!).  There is a forced air that provides a wind chill of -70 degrees F. to improve the heat transfer.

After the tour, we were invited to have samples of their Pecan Pie and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream flavors.  Both were very good!  The tour guide related a story about a David Letterman show.  The subject was the top ten flavors Ben and Jerry should NOT make.  One of the flavors he mentioned sounded interesting to Ben and Jerry, so they made it (out of spite).  It actually sold pretty well until they retired it about a year later.

We next went a couple miles down the road to the Cold Hollow Cider Mill.  They produce large quantities of apple cider and have a very extensive gift shop.  Unfortunately, being Saturday, they were not pressing cider, but they had a continuously running video.  

The process starts by washing the apples thoroughly and grinding the whole apples into a slurry.  This is loaded into 16 or 17 stacked frames lined with cloth, then covered with a separator.  A hydraulic ram squeezes with a pressure of about 2500 psi.  The cider runs out around the edges into a tray beneath.  When finished, all that is left are thin, fairly solid sheets of the fibrous portions of the apples.  These are used as livestock feed.

A full press load uses about 2400 pounds of apples.  At about 12 pounds per gallon, a press load yields about 200 gallons of cider.

The cider is then passed through their flash pasteurizing system, which does a good job of retaining all the original flavor while eliminating any possibility of E-coli being present.

On our way back to camp we decided to go back to the Rock of Ages visitor's center.  I was regretting not getting a very realistic looking marble apple they were selling.  We went back and corrected that error.

Then we stopped at Hope Cemetery in Barre, VT which is well a known show-place for the memorial sculptures created by the early Barre stone carvers.  There were many such artisans in the area as the burgeoning granite industry was growing.  There are some marvelous monuments with sculptured figures and innovative shapes.  In addition there are some spectacular contemporary ones include a soccer ball, a race car, and an airplane, all carved from solid stone.

After putting our cider in the refrigerator and freezer, we headed back out to investigate the state park just up the road from our campground.  We drove through one of their campgrounds, and out to a beach to a lake.  The beach looked like it was grass down to the water's edge.  It was a very pretty park.  It would not have been too good an alternative to our present park as it is mostly for tents, and there is no water or electric.  It also cost over 50% more than we are paying here!  We did enjoy our exploration, however.

Keith and Virg went on an interesting trip to a Shetland Sheep ranch in Roxbury.  Following some very obscure instructions received by telephone, about unlabeled dirt roads about so far past the bridge, etc. they actually found the ranch.  The couple raise about 180 sheep, guarded by a "killer" llama.  He is constantly on the watch for coyotes or other predators, and is quite capable of killing them if they attack the sheep.

Virg came back with an assortment of yarns, a couple of pelts, and an internet address for future orders or questions.  Both had an enjoyable time.

Sunday, June 20

We have a short drive today, so decided not to leave until around noon.

Since I determined the way to program my GPS from my laptop computer, I have been having to string a 12 volt extension cord across the aisle to power the GPS.  I decided this morning, that I should have an outlet above where I use the laptop.  I emptied the cupboard, lifted its floor board, and verified that I had 12 volt wiring there.  I then cut a hole and installed the cigarette lighter type outlet and connected it to the wiring.  Voila!  I now have 12 volts that my cables will reach without extensions.

Our drive this morning was less than 1 1/2 hours, so we took it easy and had a nice drive.  The campground here has a number of cabins and about 18 RV sites.  The owners bought it the 10th of May, so are quite new here.  They have done a lot of work in the last month and it is looking quite nice.  They advertise they are "modem friendly", so I should be able to send this shortly.

I'm afraid the quality of my spelling may deteriorate somewhat from now on!  I have been having some problems with my email the last couple of days, so last night I reloaded my email program using Eudora Light.  My Eudora Pro has a built-in spelling checker, and believe it or not, it has been finding occasional spelling errors in my writing!  Now there is no checker!

This afternoon we went for a drive of the local New Hampshire area.  We decided to drive to the base of Mount Washington, where the auto road heads up the mountain.  Mount Washington is the highest point in the eastern United States, and is the location of the highest winds ever recorded (231 mph. April 1934).  Upon arriving we stopped at the toll house and picked up a sheet of auto restrictions. Unfortunately, our Saturn is one of the more restricted cars, only being allowed to carry a total of 300 pounds of passengers and cargo.  The sheet describes limits for a number of specific cars, and generic limitations for all others.  In general, cars with auto transmissions that cannot be held in 1st gear cannot go!  

The toll to drive the 8 mile road is $16 for the car and driver, and $6 each for passengers.

We then went over to the "Mt. Washington Tours" to see about their van rides to the top.  Upon asking about wheelchair access I was told they have no provision, but that they had enough people to push, shove, or otherwise man-handle her into the van.

On our way home we stopped and Betty bought me Father's Day dinner at Pizza Hut.

Monday, June 21

Today was our railway day.  We first drove to the cog railway up the side of Mt. Washington.  This is on the other side of the mountain from the auto road.  I first checked with them about wheelchair accessibility with about the same answer as the van tour.  I could drive the car down a dirt road and let her off, then drive back up to park.  Then with enough people they could probably get her up the 3 large steps onto the train.  At $40 a ticket we probably would not have tested this approach anyway.

We stayed and watched for about an hour and a half.  The railway is a track up the side of the mountain with a lugged rail assembly up the middle.  Gears on the axle assemblies of the locomotives engage this rail and provide a positive drive up he side of the mountain.  The locomotives are all coal fired steam engines.  Each pushes one passenger car up the mountain.  They run very slowly.  I think you could walk as fast as they run, but not as far or on the same terrain as they do.

Below the passenger loading area is a large area with piles of coal.  The locomotives uncouple from the car while passengers unload and reload.  They run down near the coal area to a large hopper built above the track.  The fireman pulls down a chute and pulls a rope to feed coal into the tender.  They fill up the water at the same place, but they just use a hose here.  The coal hopper is reloaded using a skip loader.

The other thing they did here is something I don't really understand.  Ever since we arrived we noticed a fire at the side of the tracks with a large black rectangular tank over one side, and several 5 gallon buckets over the other side.  After filling the tender with coal, two men carried the large tank and loaded it aboard the locomotive.  They then brought 3 of the buckets over and one by one, lifted them into the cab.  A moment later they handed out the lid, then the empty bucket.  

Mason's theory:  My guess is that this was a lubricant of some type.  I suspect the large tank had only a small amount of lubricant in it so as to be light enough to lift in place, and the 3 buckets were to fill it.  I am also guessing that very thick oil has to be heated to flow well enough to be pumped onto the gears that engage the rack-in-the-track.  

NOTE from tomorrow! (I know, it's magic!):  After riding the van up Mt. Washington tomorrow, the driver told us to stay at least 8 feet from the cog railway tracks, as they use a synthetic lubricant and it is very messy!  Now back to today!
The locomotive was then driven back close to the passenger car.  It stopped, some men fired up what I thought was a portable generator, but turned out to be an arc welder.  A man climbed up into the cab and spent about 5 minutes welding up something at the front at window height.  The welder left, they killed the engine on the portable welder and the locomotive connected to the car.  Almost immediately it headed up the mountain.

At about the same time a train left the top heading down.  Near the center there are two tracks and the trains pass.  For some time we could see one train coming down and another heading up.  The "up" trains were easy to see as they put out a LOT of black or brown smoke.  These trains would never make it in California!

We then left the cog railway and headed for North Conway.  We pulled into the train station for the Conway Scenic Railroad and checked out the train schedule.  We decided to ride the 2:30 train into Bartlett and back, a ride of one hour 45 minutes.  We bought our tickets and had almost 45 minutes until the train.  What better way to pass some time than a Ben and Jerry's ice cream parlor?  Betty had Vanilla Heath Bar Crunch.  I had a scoop each of Chunky Monkey and Phish Food.  I was interested in trying each of those flavors after our factory tour the other day, and today I was able to do both at once.  I like efficiency!  Conclusion:  I thoroughly enjoyed today's selections, but I still like Cherry Garcia the best!

We headed back across the parking lot and sat along the tracks waiting for our train.  It arrived about 2:20 and we were promptly taken aboard.  They have a wooden ramp that provides a steep, but doable entry into the train.  Once aboard, Betty was able to get out of her chair and sit in the train seating.

We had our choice of coach or first class.  After seeing pictures of the two, we chose first class!  Coach seating is in the traditional train seats with the flip backs so you can face either way.  First class has individual wicker and rattan chairs which can face the windows for an excellent view.  The first class car is a very elegant creation, nicely restored.  The walls are fine wood paneling with fancy trim.  The windows have wooden frames that lift like casement windows, with cast bronze flippers to hold them up.  There are mirror panels above the windows.  The roof of the car is arched with fancy trim, ceiling fans and fancy light fixtures.  There are stained glass windows on the sides of the ceiling arches.

The train ride was very enjoyable.  We traveled through very scenic countryside.  In some places the woods seemed to continue to infinity.  From the train the woods seemed much more remote and isolated than they do from the highway.  We crossed several rivers and roads.  We passed through several small towns.  The guide pointed out a few old telegraph poles from many years ago.  We saw a number of these, some that still had wires on them, and an occasional one with one or more of the insulators still in place.

Upon reaching Bartlett after about 45 minutes, the engine was unhooked from our car and switched to another track.  After driving to the other end of the train, it was coupled there and pulled us back the other way.  At this time we moved to the other side of the train to get the view out that side.

We really enjoyed the ride.

After the ride, we toured the North Conway area, with all its outlet malls etc.  We did not stop.

On our way back to camp, we drove into the Mount Washington Hotel grounds.  We had seen the other side of this hotel from the cog railway.  It is a huge building!  It consists of 5 stories and has 197 rooms.  It was built in 1903 and is very posh, but none of the rooms have air conditioning.  Rooms go for $249 to $899 for two people (Modified American Plan) on Friday and Saturday nights.  We passed a horse drawn carriage (definitely not Amish!) on the way in.  It is a beautiful hotel on beautiful grounds.

Tuesday, June 22

Today Keith and I decided to try the van to the top of Mt. Washington.  Virg was not too enthusiastic about going, and Betty decided it was not worth the hassle of trying to get in and out.  (It's a shame, because Betty really wanted to go!)

We headed over to try getting there about 9:30.  Yesterday the girl there told Keith that they ran a van whenever they had enough people and that scheduling was not a problem.  We arrived at about 9:45 and were told the next van was at 11:00.  We were not too happy, and gave serious consideration to heading back to camp as we each had plans for the afternoon.  We decided that since we were there, we should go.

At around 11:15 we boarded our van and headed up the mountain.  The road is very interesting.  It is narrow, steep, has no guardrails, has many sheer drop-offs, and is two-way the entire 8 mile length.  It increases from about 1500 feet to 6288 feet in that 8 mile stretch for an average grade of about 12 to 13%.  We had a full van of 7 or 8 passengers plus the driver.  Two of the young ladies aboard were terrified on the ride up.  (I really don't know why they were even there!)  

The driver talked constantly, all the way up and again all the way down.  He had a lot of interesting facts about the area, but seemed to have a fixation on the various people who, in the earlier days, met their demise on the mountain.  He had all the facts - names, dates, locations, cause of death, etc.  Most suffered hypothermia and died.

We had a smooth drive to the top, except the driver was obviously quite put out at a Volvo two cars ahead who was driving VERY slowly.  He passed at least a dozen turnouts and didn't use one of them!  We continued up at a very leisurely pace all the way to the top.

We had 30 minutes at the top.  Just as we arrived, a Cog Railway train was heading down the mountain.  At the end of our 30 minutes, another was just arriving.

From the top we had a spectacular view!  On a clear day, you can see New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Quebec, and the Atlantic Ocean!  Unfortunately, we had ONLY 40 miles visibility, so could not see Quebec or the Atlantic Ocean.  I assume we could see Vermont and Maine, as they are within 40 miles.  I looked, but could not see the yellow lines shown on the map at the state borders.

The driver said that most people think the drive up is much worse than the drive down, and it seemed to be true.  The two ladies didn't scream or mutter dire predictions even once!  I thoroughly enjoyed the ride both ways, and only wished that our Saturn had a 1st gear position on the shifter!  I would have driven readily, now that I know what to expect.

We got back to camp a little after 1:30, had lunch, and Betty and I left for our afternoon activities.

We headed to the Franconia Notch State Park.  We went to the Visitor Center and viewed a 15 minute video, then spent some time in the gift shop.  Betty added to her bear collection twice today.  I bought her a tiny (about 1 1/2 inches) bear this morning, and this afternoon she bought a cute little bear on skis.

We went out and down the road about 5 miles, pulled off into a turnout, and viewed the Old Man of the Mountain.  This is a natural rock formation creating an excellent profile view of an old man.

From here we drove to the Kancamagus Highway.  This is a scenic highway running from Lincoln to Conway.  

I have a complaint!  Everywhere we drive there are signs cautioning to watch out for the moose.  There are moose crossing signs.  There are slow for moose signs.  Gene and Betty Wilkison saw a moose on the Kancamagus Highway last year.  A young couple on the van ride this morning saw a moose on the Kancamagus Highway yesterday.  Where are the moose (mooses? meece?) when we are around?  I want to see a moose!  We have yet to see one, even on the Kancamagus Highway!  (End of complaint.)

We had a few light showers this afternoon during our drive.  We got back to camp and it had obviously rained some here.  After dinner, it started to rain and got very hard for a few minutes.  So much for rolling up dry awnings in the morning!

Tomorrow we head for the Bangor Maine area.

Wednesday, June 23

It is now Wednesday morning and I am about to go over to the office to send this.  This park has the nicest setup for using the phone and sending email.  They have a princess type phone in a small window.  You can access it from within the office, or go outside and open a clear plastic door.  The phone is on a long cord, so you can sit at a patio table outside and use it.  It only works on local or 800 numbers so they are protected against toll charges.  By unplugging the cable from the phone, you can plug it in your computer.  I wish all parks would have this type of setup!

We are in the Bangor, ME area.  This is as far north as we go this trip, and is also about as far from home as we get.  That means that from now on we are heading home!  So far we have driven the motorhome 3991 miles this trip.

We had about a 200 mile drive today to Bangor.  Most was on 2 lane highway through farms, cities, woods, and open areas.  We had speed limits from 25 to 55 often inching up by 5 mph at a time as we would leave a city.

The road when we started was pretty bad, and we were really questioning our sanity in choosing this route.  After a few miles the road gained shoulders, it smoothed out, and it was not nearly as curvy.  In all, we took our time and had a good drive.  We only came upon one tractor pulling a hay wagon the entire way.

When we reached our campground, we asked for 3 nights, Keith and Virg wanted sewer connection, we did not need it.  The manager hemmed and hawed and walked out with Keith to show him a spot.  It was a spot between two other rigs with a shared electrical hookup.  It was all he had with sewer.  He then said he would see if he could find something for me.  He flipped through his book and found a line that had been erased out.  "Oh, you can have that one as long as you want it." he said.

It is a nice grass site right on the edge of the Penobscot River.  I had to put all my blocks under the rear wheels and rear jacks.  Full extension of the rear jacks got the motor home almost level.  If we have a problem tonight, I'll turn the rig around tomorrow and face the river.  I can stand a little nose low as we then sleep head high.

After the problem getting our sites here over a Friday night, we called ahead and reserved our sites for Saturday night.  We are currently determining where we will be over the July 4 weekend and plan to get reservations for that tomorrow.

We called my Aunt Sue who lives in Bangor and arranged to have lunch with her tomorrow.  She is the widow of my mother's brother, Carl.  We were fortunate enough to be able to see her on Thanksgiving weekend when we were here in 1994.  Apparently she is not able to get around as well now as she was back then, but was sure she could make it to the restaurant without problem.

Aunt Sue suggested I make reservations at the Pilot's Grill, so I went into the office and asked if they had a BANgor phone book.  He said "No, but I have a BanGOR one!".  So now I know to fully pronounce the "O"!

I started to print out a map to her place and it printed about 2/3 of a page.  I am out of ink!  I can't understand it.  I just replaced that cartridge when we visited the Pfafmans - in Houston!  That was in September 1996!  Maybe it lasted pretty well after all!

Sitting in our motorhome this evening around 7:30 the trees started to whip around sharply and thunder started to rumble in the not-to-far distance.  I had rolled up my awning about 10 minutes before.  Keith had just come over for a planning session and hurried back to take down his awning.  We got a few drops and then the thunder was the other side of us.  A little later we did have about a ten minute shower, but most of it missed us tonight.  (so far!)

Thursday, June 24

We left camp about 9:45 this morning to head the 25 miles to Bangor.  We thought we would make a couple of stops on our way.  Within about 5 minutes after leaving camp, it started raining.  It got fairly heavy for a short while, and continued to rain lightly all the way into Bangor.  

We arrived with about 45 minutes to spare, so headed to where we thought the AAA office was.  We got to the corner, turned into a shopping center, drove along it for a short distance and there it was!  In the past we have followed instructions precisely and still not found them.  I went in and got a replacement New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine map.  Our old one is rapidly becoming shreds, and we still have another pass through those states ahead of us.

We were across the street from a large shopping center, so went in to see if we could find a Staples, Office Depot, etc. to buy my printer ink cartridge.  As we drove in and decided to try to the left first, there was a large Staples.  It took about two minutes to find the cartridge and check out.  It had stopped raining by now, and we still had some time, so we looked for the restaurant.  It was a little farther out than we had thought, but we found it with no problem.  We headed back to where Street Atlas said my aunt lived and found her with no problem.

We had a marvelous visit.  She is suffering from osteoporosis and walks with difficulty with a cane.  She has had two major fractures in the last two years, so has cut back on her activities a lot.  She is having in-home care during the days.

We all went out to the car and headed to the restaurant.  I had to take my aunt and Betty in in two separate trips, but our table was waiting with a reserved sign on it.  I had grilled haddock for lunch and it was delicious!

After lunch, Aunt Sue asked how far our camp was, that she was interested in seeing our motor home.  I told her it was about a 30 to 40 minute drive, and if she was up to it, I would love to show her.  We drove to the campground, I let her use Betty's lift into the motor home, and she saw where we live and met our cat, Muffy.

We had a nice drive back to Bangor and said our goodbye's.  We were home by 4:30 after a very nice visit.

Keith made our reservations for the July 4th weekend in Bennington, VT.  They do not accept credit cards, so could not use a number to confirm the sites.  Keith and Virg wrote a check for the total camping bill for both of us and ran it to the post office in Bucksport, just a few miles north.  When the campground has the check, we will officially have our reservations, but at least we are in their book now.   

Our cat, Muffy has adapted to motor home living quite well.  She has "her" places (and that list keeps expanding).  Whenever we are driving, she crawls under the floor length skirt of our barrel chair (the one I am sitting in while typing this).  As soon as we stop at a rest stop, filling station, or camp, she pokes her head out, looks around, and when she feels all is OK, she comes out to be with us.

She does get a little frustrated at times.  It seems that wherever she decides to lie, it is in our way, so she moves, often to where our next step will be.  Her favorite places other than the middle of the floor seem to be lying on the dinette seat, on her carpet swatch just under the dinette, or on the floor in the corner of the bedroom on Betty's side.  This is her reclusive spot.

Friday, June 25

Today we headed for the Bar Harbor / Acadia National Park area.  We got away about 8:30, figuring it would be clearer in the morning than in the afternoon.  We drove the 30 or so miles and stopped at the park's visitor center.  They tried to make the center as difficult to get to as possible.  There were 52 steps most people had to climb to get there.  We followed the handicap signs around to the back, and had to push the wheel chair up a fairly steep gravel path, then take an elevator up to the main floor.  We watched their video and headed out.

We got on the loop trail and headed for Cadillac Mountain.  This is the most spectacular of the views to be had.  From the top of the mountain you can see about 270 degrees.  Bar Harbor is directly below you, and you can see the dozen or so islands in the bay and offshore.  The visibility was not very good today, so all these attractions were somewhat hazy.  We probably had at least 40 miles visibility, but the haze dimmed everything.

Next we drove through the town of Bar Harbor and entered the loop road at a different location.  We drove by Sand Beach and to the Thunder Hole.  This is a notch in the rock that the water surges into.  At the end is a pocket in the rock that traps air.  When the wave hits just right, the water explodes out of the pocket, driven by the air compressed behind it.  It is very interesting!  While I was there, there were several kids cheering on each wave and applauding the better results.

We then drove by the Bar Harbor bay, past the ferry to Canada, and then headed back to camp.

In driving to Aunt Sue's, we had passed a large factory at the edge of Bucksport.  It was called Champion International.  We could find no indication of the type of product they produced, except for a large pile of logs in one of their yards.  We guessed plywood or particle board.  When we got back yesterday, Betty looked up the factory in our AAA tourguide and found it is a paper mill, and that they give tours on Monday, Wed. and Friday, 9:00 to 3:00.  I called to find out about their accessibility, and found that there is none.  They have several major flights of stairs on the route.

We decided to head over there and I would take the tour while Betty waited in the car.  I went in and verified that they did not have an alternate method for wheelchairs, and then signed up for just me.

They issued ear plugs and safety glasses, then passed out Radio Shack 2 way FM radios with a headphone, boom mike, and small belt clipped box.  When in noisy areas, the tour guide would use the radio, and we could ask questions by pressing our TALK button.

He took us into the area where they chop the 4 foot logs and the chips into pulp.  There are huge grinders that do this.  They also accept recycled paper stock in this area.  The pulp fibers are passed through fine filters and watered down to a 99.5% water mix.  This is sprayed on wide belts on huge paper processing machines.  From here it is pressed between rollers and dried gradually over many rollers.  It is then coated, on one side, dried, coated on the other side, dried and rolled.  The paper is still somewhat wrinkled at this point.  Next it passes through another series of rollers which does the final smoothing.  The paper now passes through an inspection station where optical sensors detect flaws and cause the paper to be marked at the edge with blue or with red depending on the severity.  The finished roll is then placed on a rewinder where it is loaded to another reel.  Sensors detect the red or blue marks and automatically cut out the defects then apply glue and lap the paper back together.  This all happens almost invisibly at full velocity of the paper.

Next the huge rolls of paper are cut into shorter rolls of 3 or 4 feet width and are sent to the wrapping station.  Here the rolls are on a pair of rollers, and are fed lengthwise along them.  At one station, the roll is rotated and ends up with a wrap of heavy kraft paper.  This has all the labeling data on it, including a bar code for tracking.  The rolls are pushed off the rollers and roll down a slight incline to another pair of rollers.  Here a couple of mechanical plates each hold a circle of heavy kraft paper using vacuum cups.  The paper is placed against the ends of the roll, inside the overhang of the overwrap.  The roll starts spinning as a pair of lugged wheels fold the overhang over the ends.  The roll then is rolled down to the next station where another paper disk is placed over the folded paper on the ends, then is pressed between a pair of heated plates that press against the ends, fusing a glue layer on the end disks.  The finished rolls are then moved to the shipping area.

The only product this mill produces is a thin, coated paper for use in magazines.  All their output is in the form of these large rolls of wrapped paper, made to the size and roller tube details as specified by their customers.  There is a large list of magazines that use their paper.  These include Readers Digest, People, PC Magazine, and about 20 others that were on display.  As we toured the factory, there were short rolls left over after cutting the maximum number of full size rolls from the full width.  There is also an occasional section that does not pass the inspections.  All this paper is reground and fed right back into the system to be remade into paper.

It was a fascinating tour, although an uncomfortable one.  Temperatures during most of the tour were quite high, with parts of it being almost unbearable, according to the pre-tour information, up to 120 degrees.  (It felt higher than that!)  We got to keep the ear plugs and the safety glasses, but we had to give back the two way radios.

Saturday, June 26

Happy 50th Aniversary Virg and Keith!!!!!

We had a drive of a little over 100 miles today.  We chose to follow highway 1 (the coastal route) as far as we could.  It was really beautiful, but we did have traffic in a few places.  We found our campground a little after noon, and as we had reserved here, our places were waiting for us.  It holds up to their claim of "Wilderness Camping".  We are tucked back in among a large stand of trees  with enough space to not be bothered by the presence of our neighbors.

We got settled into camp and relaxed a short while.  We made a couple of phone calls at the office pay phone, then headed out to explore the Freeport, ME area.  As I pulled out from the campground, I noticed that the Saturn did not have any pep, as though the transmission was in 3rd.  Down the road at a stop sign, it did the same thing.  I decided to find a place to pull off, shut off the engine and restart it, as the transmission is controlled by the car's main computer, and maybe it didn't reset correctly or something like that.  BIG MISTAKE!  When I tried to start, it just went click, then silence.  This is not good!

We were near the top of a hill, so I pushed the car back onto the road and let it coast.  I tried to pull it into gear after gaining speed, and nothing.  I ended coasting about 1/2 mile until the road started back up.  I made it almost to an intersection and pulled over.  We were right in front of a doctor's office that was also a home.  I went to the front door and there were saw horses in front of the steps.  It looked like they had just been painted.  I went around back and knocked, but no answer.

I started to cross the intersection to a house on the opposite corner and waited for a car to pass.  IT WAS KEITH!!!!!!

He gave me a jump start and we both made it back to the campground.  I measured the battery voltage and it was about 9 1/4 volts (12.5 would be about right).  With the engine running, it was a little less.  My alternator is dead!

We decided not to tour Freeport this trip.  We did that in 1994 and we will pull out our videos from then.  We are heading to the outskirts of Boston tomorrow and will look up a Saturn dealer in that area.  Hopefully we can get the alternator replaced on Monday and be business as usual.  (It should be fully covered by the new car warranty we inherited when we bought the car.)

While in that area we hope to get together with some school friends who live in Beverly, MA, Jim and Nancy Winter.  Along with Jim Harris whom we saw a couple of weeks ago, Jim was also a charter member of Wesley house, and has lived in Beverly for many years now.

This campground is "modem friendly" and I should be able to hook up in the office either tonight or tomorrow morning and send this.

Sunday, June 27

Well, I guess I am officially old!  As of today, I qualify for just about all the Senior discounts and Social Security (early benefits, thank you!).  I can even get my own Golden Age card to let me in all the national parks and monuments, etc.

Last night I went to the office and sent #10 and received my email.  One of the tasks I have been reasonably successful at doing this trip is doing the weekly updates of the church webpage.  Since all the correspondence is by email anyway, it really doesn't matter where I am.  The only difficulty is getting a timely connection.  Actually two timely connections.  The church office usually has the calendar ready by about Wednesday, and I need to post it by Sunday morning.

Last night I received the weekly calendar of events from the church office to convert into the proper format and post on the web page.  When I got back to the motor home and read my messages, the events page included a warning that the message was too long and was not sent.  The estimated size was 65k!  This is much larger than any before on this trip.  I have my email program set to not receive anything larger than 40k.  Doing this prevents anyone from sending me a huge file and essentially locking me up with my slow connection speed.

I grabbed my computer and walked back to the office (the full length of camp) and they were closed.  It was after 7:00 P.M.  I came back and checked my cellphone and had 4 bars, so plugged in my cell modem and in 3 minutes of connect time downloaded the file.  It turned out that the file was so large because of a very nice graphic that had been inserted into the original bulletin of which I get a copy.  I ignore the graphics and use just the text.  I hope to send the webpage updates this morning before we leave.

Well, it's now evening and to continue the above thought, I was not able to send the webpage updates.  For some reason, the GBGM server (a Methodist organization which hosts our web page) just would not respond.  I quickly wrote an email to Dick Kendall at our church and attached the files.  I hope he can get them posted.

We had a drive of about 100 miles this morning to Salsbury Beach State Reservation, in Massachusetts, and decided to cheat and use the interstates, our alternate would have been an increasing density of beach communities and their associated delays.  The only problem with taking this route is that most of it is toll roads.  We first stopped and donated $1.55, then $4.85, then $1.75.  The toll was more than our fuel costs for the miles traveled!  I am not sure of the formula for motor homes towing a car, but the first two tolls were just a little over 3 times the auto rate and the last (in New Hampshire) was less than twice.  It was an easy, fairly quick drive until we arrived within 5 miles of camp.  Now we were on two lane country roads with very major Sunday morning traffic, all heading to the beach or to the park where we were heading.  Of course there were merges and signals helping to hamper the traffic flow.  As we approached the park road, the basically stopped traffic turned right into the park road.  This was about a half mile long and a very slow trip.  We finally made it to the campground turnoff, and all the traffic went the other way.  We got registered and parked.

This is a huge campground with over 400 spaces.  There are about a dozen roads through a large area of land.  Each road has spaces on both sides, fairly close to each other, not quite a parking lot, but close.  This is definitely a beach camp.  Most of the campers are families with kids.  There are very few other people in our generation.  One of the reasons the camp is so popular, other than its proximity to the ocean, is its rate structure.  It is only $9 a day with water and electric hookups.

This afternoon we headed out of camp to find a grocery store.  The Saturn battery was fully charged, and I had pulled the relay that controls the daytime running lights to minimize the current draw.  We fought some traffic leaving camp and first drove into the town of Salsbury Beach.  It didn't attract us much as it consisted mostly of bars, amusement parlors, small eateries, etc.  There was very loud music coming from one of the establishments, but we didn't hang around long enough to find out where.

Next we drove over to Newburyport, MA., just across the river.  We looked and looked and finally decided to ask.  I pulled into a Mobil station and the attendant was very nice.  I asked for 1) a Saturn dealer, and 2) a grocery market.  He said he thought the nearest Saturn dealer was in Peabody (pronounced PEE-bdy).  That is about 30 miles from here.  He then told me to turn left and go down the road about 1 1/2 miles and there was a Shaws supermarket on the left.  We looked constantly and did not find it, but at about 2 miles we found a Market Basket which did just fine.

The battery voltage had now gone from 12.1 volts to about 11.7, still OK.  We continued home and watched all the traffic heading in the opposite direction as we sailed into camp.  When we got there the campground was full!  This really supprised us on a Sunday night.

We made it back just fine with a final voltage of about 10.9.  I wouldn't want to have gone much further!  This time I did have my battery charger, 50 feet of extension cord, my jumper cables, my GPS, and my cell phone with us, just in case.

We have been trying to reach Jim and Nancy Winter, but have just gotten their answering machine so far.  We will try again tomorrow.  First thing tomorrow I will call the Saturn help number and verify the closest dealer.  It is not a major job, so hopefully it can be done expeditiously!

Monday, June 28

After some fumbling with a wrongly transcribed phone number and an attempt to reach them before they opened in the Central time zone, I contacted the Saturn customer help line.  They gave me the number of a dealer in Haverhill, about a 22 mile drive to the west.  A call to the dealer and I have an appointment at 1:30.  He said it should take no more than a couple of hours to fix. 

Still no answer at Jim and Nancy's.

I headed over to the Saturn dealer and got there about 20 minutes early.  The service tech assured me that was no problem and he took the car in almost immediately.  I settled in reading magazines in their lobby.  A little before 2:00 I was called and told it was done.  That was less than an hour!  I assumed they had found something simple and fixed it.  When I asked, he said it was the generator (Saturns seem to have "generators" instead of alternators, which they really are.)  I asked how they changed it so fast when it was almost inaccessible on the bottom side of the engine.  He said they have to drop the engine down on one side to reach one of the brackets.

I signed the "no cost to owner" warranty receipt and headed home, all well again.  The dashboard had 3 wrapped dinner mints on it.

I was home by 2:30.  I tried Jim and Nancy one last time and still got their answering machine.  I left a message expressing my regrets that we missed them, and that we would try again some time after July 4 when our zig-zag course brought us back to the coast, south of them.

We decided to not waste the rest of the day, as our tourist duties had been delayed by the Saturn's illness.  We headed to Gloucester (pronounced Glouster).  There we looked up the famous statue of the fisherman at the helm which is dedicated to the men who go to the sea.

While we were there we saw an amphibious "Duck" tourist vehicle chugging across the water in front of the statue.  It then turned left, drove up the beach and left via the highway.

We had promised ourselves a Maine lobster dinner, but had not followed through.  We decided to have that dinner tonight.  The only problem was we were in Massachusetts, not Maine.  We decided to drive up to Maine and have that dinner.

It took less than an hour to drive back up near our camp and on to Kittery, Maine.  The drive through New Hampshire is 16 miles on I-95, though it carries a $1.00 toll for that length.

We arrived in Kittery and realized that we only had a Massachusetts map.  We stopped in a grocery store to try and buy one, and were given a tourist type cartoon map.  This was great, as it showed all the significant local businesses, including the lobster restaurants.  We chose Warren's Lobster House.

Walking in we passed a display case with a menu on display.  As we walked by I was amazed by the low prices - in the $6 to $8 range for most of the offerings.  I figured it had to be an antique menu.  When we got our real menus the prices were much more like what I had expected all along.

We had lobster tails after a very complete salad bar, including soup, rolls, and cheeses.  It was all delicious!

While we were eating, we looked through the clear areas of decorative, etched windows and saw water running off the roof.  It was raining!

It continued to rain all the way home, starting to slack off as we got closer to camp.  We pulled in and I went to open the motor home.  There was a note under the door handle.  It was signed by Jim and Nancy!  They had come out to see us and had missed us.  Just then a car pulled up and it was Jim and Nancy!

We went into the motor home and had a marvelous couple of hours.  They had been at Cape Cod for the last week.  They had just returned around 3:00 and found my 3 messages on their machine.  They called the park, found out where we were parked and that we were leaving in the morning, so decided to come out to see us.  When we were not there, they set up chairs and sat out by our motor home for about a half hour.  They gave up waiting for us to return in time for us to all go to dinner and went by themselves.  They then came back for another try just as we returned.

We would not have had any better luck contacting them on our next pass to the coast, as they leave for Switzerland on Thursday.  We are so happy that they came by, and that they had enough perseverance to keep trying until we returned home.

We got the Saturn fixed; we did our touring; we had our Maine lobster dinner; and we got together with Jim and Nancy Winter.  This was good day!

Tuesday, June 29

We got a little later start this morning than on most travel days, as we had not had our planning session last night.  We settled on our course and destination and headed out, after dumping.  We had plans to find a rest stop about half way to our campground, and very near The Fiber and Yarn Studio in Henniker, NH, where Virg was interested in going.  We got to the area and could not find the rest stop anywhere.  We got on a frontage road near where it was shown on the map and found a driveway and parking area with a hot dog stand set up on it.  It was laid out like a couple of rest stops we have seen on the smaller roads.  We pulled in and asked if this might be the rest area shown on the map.  The man said that he owned it, but that we were welcome to park there, and that he knew of no rest areas anywere near.  Keith and Virg headed out to the shop while we bought lunch from our generous host.  About an hour later, the Scholls returned, bought lunch and we headed out.

Well, almost!  As I went to start the motor home, nothing happened!  I jiggled the shift lever, turned the key on and off, and still nothing.  To expedite matters and get out of the parking lot, I went back, lifted the bed, and started it using a jumper lead.  All that worked fine.

We drove the rest of the way to camp in Quechee, VT.  It is a really nice camp.  There is lush green grass and beautiful trees all around.  We got set up and I went under the motor home to check out the neutral switch on the transmission.  It was OK.  It started to rain and I went inside and checked out the ignition switch and the starter solenoid, all OK.

We did our normal activities, and I would occasionally make an additional test for the starter problem as I would have another thought.  Everything checked out OK, it had to be a wiring problem, right?

WRONG!  Have I ever told you I do not like Mickey Mouse gadgets?  I don't, and this motor home has one.  When I bought it I noticed a small socket next to the steering column.  A small circuit board was plugged into this socket, and could be removed and carried on a key ring or in a pocket or purse.  Guess what happens when the board is removed?  THE VEHICLE WON'T START!  I finally discovered the board was partly unplugged after trying to trace wires.  One went right to this socket, which I haven't even thought about since right after buying the motor home.  I plugged the board in fully, reconnected all the wires I had dangling for test, and all worked correctly.  I could have fixed the problem in about two seconds if I had only thought about this ridiculous "security" device installed by the previous owner.

This campground is "modem friendly", and has a small desk with a phone jack in the office for connecting your computers, so I should be able to send this in the morning.  

Wednesday, June 30

Today dawned a beautiful day after last evening's showers.  We were up fairly early and left to do some exploring.  We headed to Windsor, VT, just a few miles down the road.

We found the Simon Pearce factory in Windsor.  This is an outfit that makes fine hand blown glassware, and some high-end pottery items.  They have a fully accessible self guided tour.  We first went into the glass blowing building.  An elevator took us upstairs to the gift shop.  Here they had all their products for sale, including a "seconds" area.  

We went through a door to a wide overhead catwalk.  From here we looked down on the workers, the ovens, and all the activity of making these beautiful glassware items.  There were three pairs of workers at each end of the factory.  In the middle was a large furnace which contained all the melted glass raw material.

Each team was making a different item.  They obviously knew what they were doing.  Each person was constantly busy spinning the tube that had the glass item attached while carefully shaping it, or getting a new blob of glass from the over, or heating the item in one of the "glory hole" ovens at each work station.  Then without a word being spoken, one person would approach the other with a small blob of glass on his ponti stick, a solid bar, he would place it on the bottom of the item, the other person would cut around the neck where his tube was attached and break off the neck of the item.  Now the item was attached to the new rod and the other end could be finished.

The tools used ranged from very modern to almost antique.  Some of the shaping was done in carved wooden spoons, like was done over 200 years ago.  Other was done in pneumatically controlled dies set into the floor.  After the shaping was done in these dies, the top opened to allow the part to be removed.

All the ovens had automatic doors that could be opened by touching a pedal.

No matter how much automation they have on the dies or the ovens, the pieces were still totally made by hand, and were beautiful.

We wandered around looking at different teams.  One was making large raised flat bowls, another square pitchers, and yet another was making goblets.

Each part seemed to take around 10 to 15 minutes to complete.  Only once did I see a worker who was obviously not satisfied with the pitcher he was making.  He walked across the work area with a nearly completed part, and crashed it into a steel bin, breaking it off and leaving an empty tube.

There were signs around the catwalk explaining some of the operations and giving facts about the materials and the processes.  The one I liked best was the five most asked questions:  (I remember 4.)

1)  Is it hot down there?  Yes
2)  Do the glass blowers ever get burned?  Once
3)  Are those real glass blowers?  Yes
4)  If Simon Pearce were alive today, how old would he be?  He is 48

We then walked over to another building and watched the potters at work from another overhead balcony.  One man was using a hydraulic press to form one bowl at a time.  These then went over to another station where a man took them, one at a time, on a rotating wheel.  He very carefully smoothed the edges with a wet sponge and made sure all was right.

The other station we saw was a man at a potter's wheel.  He started with a chunk of clay about 4 inches in diameter by 10 inches long.  He whacked it a couple of times on the table then stuck it to a board which he put on the potter's wheel.  Then using his hands, a lot of water, and a couple of simple forming tools, he created a large vase shaped table lamp base.  It was really interesting to see how he kept the top large enough to put his arm inside until it was almost finished, then closed it to almost nothing at the end of the operation.  There were no templates used, all the shaping was freehand.  To look at a row of finished lamp bases on the shelf, they all looked the same.

We then saw the painting (glazing?) area.  Some parts were carefully plugged with corks, dunked into a huge vat of glaze, then hand touched up with a brush.  Others were placed on a rotating wheel and coated using a spray gun.

I asked about the color that resulted from the reddish-pink glaze they were applying.  The answer I got was that he had no idea.  Most of the glazes were various shades of pink to brown, and that after the firing the colors become quite intense.  We did not see the firing operation.

The two primary finished colors we saw in the gift store were a light avacado green with a crazed finish, and a very dark color, almost black with a high gloss finish.

They also make custom, hand painted plates, such as for weddings, with the name of the bride and groom and the date.  These go for almost $300.  Most of the pottery prices were under $100 each.

We then headed down the road a couple of miles farther to the American Precision Museum, a tribute to the history of machine tools.  This is housed in a several story ancient brick building that used to be a Remington rifle factory.  Guns were the first major benefactors of automation in machine shop equipment.

They have done a lot of work in the five years since we last visited the museum!  All the displays are now organized and well labeled.  There is one area with half a dozen old machine tools driven by an overhead belt system which was typical back then.  There is a push button which starts every thing running for about a minute.

The highlight of the tour is the display of miniature machine shop equipment built to a 1/20 scale.  The machinist who made these tools estimated he spent about 40,000 hours making them.  That's 20 years of full time work!  They are beautifully made, and sequentially run by pressing a button on the display cases.  There are two cases of these machines.

About a block from the museum is the longest two span covered bridge in the world.  It crosses the Connecticut River between Windsor, Vermont and Cornish, New Hampshire.  On the end of the bridge is still a sign which reads "Walk your horses or pay a $2 fine".  The bridge accepts loads of up to 10 tons, and is wide enough for careful two way traffic.

After lunch back at the motor home, we headed out highway 4, which is the one our park is on.  We went first to yet another Simon Pearce location, his original.  The one this morning was only several years old.  The original is one of the most picturesque buildings I have seen.  It is a brick building on the shore of the river.  There are multiple levels (no wheelchair access here for the tours).  Just outside is a weir (they call it a dam) with a waterfall running over the top.  Below the water continues over the rough rocks to the river below.  Just below the falls is a wooden covered bridge, which we drove through to get from the highway to the street where they are located.

Inside, I went through the glass blowing area.  It is very similar to the one this morning, except it is much smaller, and you are on the same level as the workers, just a few feet away.  A few steps through a door, and you are outside looking down on the waterfall, and looking up at the seating for their restaurant.

Walking down another flight of stairs and I was in their generating plant.  They have their own hydro-electric plant with one large vertical shaft generator.  There are a couple of large racks of equipment to control it.

Back up the stairs and in the other direction and I was in the pottery area.  This was much smaller than this mornings's tour.  I was in the same room as the workers with no separating rail.  Not much was going on and I didn't stay here.

We left and continued up highway 4 for about 25 more miles of sight seeing to Killington, a Vermont Ski area.  We then turned around and headed home.

Tomorrow we head for Bennington, VT for a whole 4 days in one spot!  We reserved our spaces here to get us through the July 4 weekend.

Bennington was our favorite travel spot when we lived in New Jersey in 1994!

Thursday, July 1

Wow, July already!

We scheduled a fairly late start of 10:00 this morning as we need to be careful about our arrival time in Bennington, VT.  Our campground has a check in time of 1:00 and we have a 2:30 appointment at Kaiser for a mid-trip lab test for Betty.  We aimed for arriving at 1:00 and made it within 5 minutes.  Our check in lasted almost 30 minutes, as the owners were very thorough at explaining and showing us everything, and they enjoy talking.

I parked the motor home quickly and Betty and I headed the 8 miles for Kaiser.  About a year ago, Kaiser and a local HMO, CHP merged, creating a Kaiser presence throughout New England.  Unfortunately, a newspaper headline a couple of weeks ago announced that Kaiser was pulling out of the Northeast by the end of the year.

After having her blood drawn, we decided to poke around Bennington a little.  We went out to the motel where we stayed a couple of times in 1994, and checked out the little attached restaurant where I had the best fresh blueberry pancakes ever.  I hope to try them again before we leave the area.  We toured the town a little more and headed back to camp.

Our camp is a Passport America park, and the 4 days here will save us another $42.  I think that $39 card was a good investment.

Friday, July 2

We left camp at about 8:45 this morning headed for Sugar Maple Inne, the restaurant associated with the Vermonter Motor Inn.  I had blueberry pancakes with genuine Vermont maple syrup.  They were just as good as I remember them being!  Betty had corned beef hash.

While we were in the restaurant we could hear distant thunder. After we got in our car, we went down the road a fractional mile to the Hennings Auto News building.  I went in to inquire and found it was just the business offices.  All displays were a mile down the road at a Sunoco station.  I got back in the car and saw lightning across the road.  The sky opened up!  We sat in the parking lot for several minutes and the rain diminished.

We then headed to the Bennington Museum.  We had never made it here in '94.  The museum concentrates on Bennington area merchandise and memorabilia.  There is a large room with pianos, sewing machines, telegraph equipment (including a "pocket telegraph"), statues, radio tubes and sockets, musical instruments, etc.

The next area we investigated had area furniture.  There were some very elegant and interesting pieces.

We then went to a large hallway where the Grandma Moses paintings were displayed.  These included 7 stolen paintings that arrived at the museum carefully crated with a note that they were on a 7 year anonymous loan to the museum.  Upon checking they discovered that the paintings had been the property of a good friend of Grandma Moses who had willed them to the museum.  However, upon her death the paintings could not be found, until they showed up a number of years later.  They never identified the thief.

In an adjacent room was a Bennington Wasp automobile.  The company made 16 cars during its existence.  The car on display was never completed by the factory.  A group obtained a chassis and engine from the factory remains and hand built all the body work from the original drawings.

There was an extensive display of glassware.  We saw many times as much glass here as we did at the Corning museum, as they had so much closed for remodeling.  The glass here was well described and sorted.  There was cut glass, blown glass, fancy engraved glass, and many other variations from a wide time span.  They have over 5000 items on display.

They also had a large pottery display.  They concentrated on pottery from Bennington's early pottery factory, United States Pottery Company (1847 to 1858), with over 4000 pieces on display.

They had a room of military display items with sections from the Revolutionary War to WW II.

There was a display of paintings done by 5 generations of Grandma Moses family.  All had a similar style.  Then we entered "Grandma Moses' school house".  This was a room to where many contents of her original school had been moved.  It included many personal items including a tea set she played with as a child.

The rain was intermittent as we left, so we drove around town a little.  We then drove over to the Bennington Battle Monument.  This was built starting in 1887 to commemorate the Battle of Bennington, a key Revolutionary War battle.  The tower is over 300 feet tall.  There is an elevator ride to the observation windows about 200 feet up.  We took this and had a great view of the area.  Actually we had 4 great views.  The walls were about 2 feet thick at this level, and there were a series of narrow windows on each of the 4 sides.

We are thinking of taking our laundry back to town to a Laundromat there.  We also would like to try the Bennington Station restaurant before we leave.

I have a modem connection at this camp, so I think I'll send this episode now, and maybe I can send the next before we leave Monday morning.

Saturday, July 3

We got up to a beautiful day this morning!  The sun is out with only a few scattered clouds, and the humidity is down.  It has been really humid the last few days.

Last night we went back to a Laundromat in Bennington and washed just about everything we own!  We did 1 "giant" (4 time size) and two "double" loads and varying times in 3 dryers.  This morning we finished putting away what we didn't last night.

We then headed for the Arlington / Manchester area of Vermont.  We found the Norman Rockwell museum in Arlington and stopped.  This is located in a 19th century church.  I had to walk down the hill alongside the building and ask that the back door be opened for the wheelchair.  I took Betty in the back.  Once inside I had to wheel her down 3 steps.    

The greeter was Roy Crofut, who had modeled for Rockwell when he was 21.  The girl who had modeled with him was 12 at the time, but Rockwell aged her in the picture.  It was one frame of "The Four Stages of Love", a calendar illustration.  We bought a small matted picture which Roy autographed.  The museum is very interesting, giving a lot of history of his life, and showing his works grouped by various subjects.  We really enjoyed it.

We continued on to Manchester.  This town has marble sidewalks and granite curbs (as did the Norman Rockwell museum).  Manchester is a major outlet center town.  They are everywhere!  The outlets tend to be as dedicated stores rather than in large centers.

We headed back to Bennington and were able to find all 3 covered bridges in the area.  We went south on hwy 7 for a few miles and found the Apple Barn.  We left a little later with fresh cider, a few sundries, and a sugar free apple pie.

In the evening, we had the Scholls over and subjected them to the video I have taken so far this trip.  We got about 2/3 through and decided to finish them another night.  Then we broke out the apple pie and cider.  They were both good.

About 10:00 we heard the light patter of rain on the roof.

Sunday, July 4

Happy Birthday America!

We woke up around 5:00 this morning to the rumble of thunder.  As we lay there and listened, it got steadily closer and more constant, and the thunder rolls seemed to last forever.  We could see the distant flash of lightning almost constantly.  It also gradually got brighter.  The lightning flashes were almost continuous.  I don't think there was a 1 second period without a flash!  As it approached, the light rain became VERY heavy and the thunder was crashing all around us.  After a while it moved on.

By around 8:00, it had mostly stopped raining, except for an occasional light shower.  It is now 1:00 and after periods of low fog, it looks like the sun is about to break through the overcast.

We had Keith over for a few minutes as we discussed tomorrow's campground choices.

It's now about 5:30 and we just got back from what is probably our last trip into Bennington for this trip.  We went to The Craft Store which carries crafts from over 200 local artisans.  The prices were really quite good.  They are about what I think things are worth, which means that they are several times below market.  We bought a few things for us and for our granddaughters.  I won't say what we got them, as Kylie may well be reading this report!

One display consisted of a number of 8 x 10 matted photographs of items in the local area.  The photographer did a wonderful job and all were really nice.  We selected one of a covered bridge in Autumn and decided to get it.  As we were checking out, the lady pointed out that this bridge was the one adjacent to Norman Rockwell's house, and provided him access to it.  That makes this picture even more special to us!

We then headed over to the Bennington Station for an early dinner.  This is the original Bennington train station.  A short stretch of the original tracks still remains just out the door.  The entrance ramp actually crosses over them.  We selected a couple of their "deli" dinners to help limit the quantity of food.  When the waitress brought our plates, they were stacked several inches high!  There was enough on each plate to share and still take some home!  We each took home a fairly full pie plate type container.  The food was very good.

I don't think we will run around tonight looking for a fireworks display.  We had our fireworks this morning!

It is now a little after 10:00.  We are watching our fireworks on A&E.  Each year they broadcast the Boston Pops concert at the Esplanade on the Charles River.  At one time we had aspirations of being there for this concert, but we didn't put all the pieces together to do it.

I lose my easy modem connection in the morning, so I'll send this first thing.

Monday, July 5

We left our Bennington camp this morning.  It was a very pleasant place to wait out the holiday weekend!

We had selected a state park as a goal, but had made backup plans to a private park about 20 miles away in case there was a problem.  The listing for the park indicated there were no reservations, and that the maximum vehicle length was less than ours.  We called and found that length was not a problem, and that they could not tell us if we could get in, as they had not seen the check-out report yet.

We drove about 170 miles and arrived at the state park at around 1:00.  There was a "Campground Full" sign on the office.  I asked how serious they were about that sign, and he indicated they were not too serious.  There was one space on the "trailer loop".  These spaces had water and electricity.  He found a spot on a nearby loop that had electricity only.  I said that would be OK for me.  We verified that we could run our air conditioners as we are in a record breaking hot/humid spell.  It is really hot!

Keith went one way, and I went the other and we found our sites.  I unhooked the Saturn and parked it.  I backed the motor home into the site, leveled it, and connected to the power outlet.  The air conditioner sounded really funny.  It was running but much more quietly than normal - then it stopped with a strange sound.  I turned it off and tried it again with similar results.  I got my meter out and measured the voltage.  With the AC off, it was about 110.  That is OK.  With the AC on, it was 90!  That is certainly NOT OK!

I hiked up the hill behind me to Keith and Virg's site and asked how his was.  He had the AC running and measured 100 volts.  Then he noticed that only the fan was on and turned it to cool.  The voltage was now 85 volts!  We decided that with the heat outside it would not be acceptable to stay without air conditioning.

Long story made short:  We each pulled out, re-hooked our cars and received refunds on our payments.  We then trundled 20 miles down the road to the Canoe River Campground.  We are paying $22 a night instead of $9, but the AC works!!!!!

Approaching the campground we were beginning to wonder if we were really on the right road - we never did see a sign identifying it (only a GPS fix).  We were driving down a small residential street with some very nice homes!  Keith mentioned that if this was the wrong road, we could just use someone's circular driveway to turn around.  Fortunately, just as the GPS said we should be there, we saw the sign for the campground and turned in.  I noticed that when we were in our spot, the GPS said we were within 450 feet of our target destination.  Not too bad for picking a spot from a map and navigating there!

The campground is almost entirely seasonal residents.  It looks more like a city street than a campground by the cars parked almost continuously along both sides of the street.  It is a very pretty setting, in among the trees, but there are a lot of units in a small space!

Pulling into my spot was not the most desirable circumstance.  There were four men standing talking just across the street from my space.  After I unhooked the Saturn and pulled forward to back in, a couple of them actually had to move as my front end came very close to them.  I continued around and backed into the site, to just about where I wanted it, all the while under the close scrutiny of the audience of four.  After I got positioned, I got out and walked around to verify that I was where I wanted to be, and as I came around to the front, one of the men gave me a thumbs-up.  I guess that was a compliment!

I think we can see what we want from here in one day, so this will be a two night stop.

Tuesday, July 6

We headed out fairly early this morning headed to Plymouth, MA.  It took about 45 minutes to arrive.  We looked for Cranberry World, an Ocean Spray facility offering tours.  We drove by Plymouth Rock a couple of times and located the facility shortly after.

It was an interesting place, but I was disappointed that there was really not a factory tour, but one through a museum.  There were numerous displays and several videos that were very informative.  I had not realized that there were both dry bogs and wet bogs.  The dry cranberries are picked with a comb like arrangement that pulls the berries from the plants.  The wet bogs use what they call an eggbeater, a cylinder of bars, to disturb the water and cause the berries to float to the surface.  Here they are gathered using a floating loop that they draw in to force the berries to where the trucks await.

I also learned the origin of the name "cranberry".  The early settlers thought the berry and its flower looked like the head of a crane (the bird, not the lifting device).  They called them "craneberries", but it became "cranberries" through usage.

Cranberries are one of only three fruits native to the United States.  The other two are blueberries and concord grapes.

After checking out their giftshop and sample area, we explored the Plymouth area, perhaps a little more than we intended until we found the correct highway out.

We then planned to head to Rhode Island to possibly take a tour of the Vanguard Racing Sailboat factory.  We tried calling them on our cell phone to make arrangements, and got a fairly upset lady who informed us that they did not have this number anymore! Click!

We decided to head over there anyway and take our chances on the tour.  We found Bristol, RI just outside Portsmouth.  We followed the directions to the factory given in our "Watch it Made in the USA" book and found a building with a business called Hall's Rigging.  I went inside and found that Vanguard used to be in that building, but had moved to Portsmouth.  She looked it up on her computer and gave me the address and number.  I went back to the car and called the new number.  A very nice gentleman there told me I had picked a bad time, as they were shut down this week cleaning up the factory.  He offered to show us around anyway, but I thanked him and declined.

We then headed for Newport to see how the other half lives.

We went to the harbor first and saw some VERY NICE yachts!  Then we took the scenic Ocean Drive around the south end of the island.  It is a beautiful area, with a lot of huge summer homes along the coast and many marvelous views of the craggy Atlantic coastline.  

We then headed to Bellevue Ave. where the Astors, several of the Vanderbuilts, and many other "old money" tycoons had their summer homes.  There were many mansions in this area.  These range from nice, large homes, to castles, to the type mansion seen on escapist TV programs.  Most have extensive property and some form of elegant fence or wall around the property with elaborate entrance gates.

It was an interesting area!

We headed back to camp to plan our drive in the morning to the Connecticut area.

Tonight we had some thunderstorms.  There was a pre-frontal line of storms moving east across New England, but we just got the very tail end.  It looks like our last camp really got hit.  We had half a dozen thunder booms and about a minute of rain.  It turns out that this was a very serious storm further north.  There even was a tornado warning issued, but none formed.  Massachusetts has two or three tornadoes a year.

Later as the front passed, we got quite a bit more rain, but these storms were not nearly as ferocious.

Wednesday, July 7

After last night's front passage, the temperature and humidity are both much lower.  It is very pleasant now!

There is a saying about plans, mice, and men. . .

There is a real scarcity of camps around this area.  We had decided on about the only campground anywhere near where we wanted to go in Connecticut.  It was located in Thomaston, CT.  We decided to call ahead (even though it is against our general principles to do so) since we almost didn't get into our last park.  Keith tried a number of times last night and got either a continuously ringing phone, or a message that the call could not be completed.  This morning we tried again with almost the same results.  (We also got a number of busy signals today.)

We headed out to the camp with some serious concerns.  We stopped at a rest stop not too far from the camp, and had similar results on the payphone.  I tried using the cell phone, but they started to transfer me to an operator to accept a credit card, and I understand that is REALLY expensive.

We drove on to where the camp is supposed to be, but could not find a trace.  There were some new looking industrial complexes in the area.  Maybe they found they could do better by selling out!  After a couple of hair-raising u-turns, we got headed for our next campground in Plattekill, NY, which is near Poughkeepsie.  This cuts Connecticut right out of our schedule.  Maybe we can drive the Saturn back to do a couple of the things we wanted to.

We decided to fuel up part way to this camp.  The first offramp we tried had two stations, one with diesel.  We drove in heavy city traffic past the Shell station and could not turn in over the double-double yellow center lines.  We drove a couple of miles and finally found a parking lot with two entrances.  We turned around and headed back.  At the Shell station, all aisles were full, and I have no idea where the diesel pump was.  I turned the corner to check out the Mobil station, while Keith turned into a large K-Mart parking lot.  The Mobil did not have diesel and we got turned around somehow and joined Keith for our lunch break.

Back on the highway, we headed for exit 10 which was not as near a large city, and showed 3 stations, 1 with diesel.  Keith pulled in and filled up.  I circled the station looking for the diesel pump.  Finally I found it tight against the rear wall of the office building.  I made another pass around the station, but there was no way to make the turn and not drag the Saturn across the building.  I have never seen a more stupid design for a filling station!  Fortunately, I still have almost 1/2 tank (the small half!) left.

We completed our additional 65 mile drive to the KOA in Plattekill.  It is a beautiful park, but very expensive!  It is the most we have ever paid to camp anywhere, at just under $30 a night (after buying their $10, 10% discount card).  We decided to stay here Wed, Thurs, Fri, and Sat nights.  That covers the weekend for which they are almost booked solid.  Friday we will need to move out of our totally tree secluded spots and move to the "Rally area" which is surrounded by trees, but the parking is in the open.  It still looks fine.

This is a modem friendly campground, so I should be able to get this off tonight.

Thursday, July 8

This campground has the nicest setup for using modem connections yet!  They have an adult TV watching lounge (no one under 18 allowed).  There are about half a dozen couches and a number of matching chairs.  In one corner is a table with two soft chairs and a phone jack on the wall labeled "For Modem Use.  Must use a local or 800 number".  It is quiet, comfortable, indoors so sunlight on the screen is not a problem, and the room is open from 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM.

Today we went back to Connecticut to do the things we would have done locally, had we found the last campground.  On the way, we stopped at a CT rest stop with a Welcome Center.  We picked up a campground directory which still listed our campground.  In addition to the other information we already had (step by step instructions to find it), it included a street address.  Just for spite, we decided to try again to find it.

When we arrived in Thomaston, CT, we verified the road we had tried was truly the one named in the address; it was.  We then started tracking street numbers.  We found a couple lower than the camp's, a long stretch of solid tree covered bank, then some industrial locations with numbers higher!  There were no signs of any kind.  There was a road in the area heading back into the woods, but it was named and the address for the camp was on the main road.  We then gave up and continued a few more miles to our destinations.

First we visited the American Clock and Watch Museum in Bristol, CT.  This was in a large 1801 vintage home with large display rooms at one end, and a number of original rooms adapted to displays at the other.

We first saw a number of tower clocks.  These were large castings several feet high, with a rugged set of gears, drums, and escapements.  A large pendulum and escapement, driven by a heavy weight, cable, and drum, power the clock.  There is a shaft going up from the top, sometimes many feet, to the clock face, which usually is on the other side of the wall.  These faces can be 6 or more feet across.

We saw some historical displays on the origins of clocks in the USA (mostly in Connecticut, of course), and how Eli Terry had a dream of mass producing clocks so the average farmer could afford one.  Clocks were very expensive, hand built and hand fitted mechanisms at that time.  Eli made machines to build wooden gears (they were cheaper), and all the other parts so they were interchangeable.  This eliminated the labor of hand fitting the parts to each clock.

We saw samples of many of his "shelf clocks" and some of his competitors'.  Most of his rivals had to charge twice as much for their higher quality clocks.  Most of them used all brass gears.

Other areas showed many examples of alarm clocks, grandfathers clocks, factory time clocks, wrist watches, machines using clock type mechanisms, even thought they did not tell time, and some really bizarre clocks.  The one I thought was the most interesting was a small desktop clock with a shaft sticking up several inches.  This had a rod extending out a couple of inches with a cable and small ball hanging from the outer end.  There were a couple of small pins sticking up almost as high near each end of the clock.  The rod/arm/cable/ball would swing around 1/2 or 1 turn until the cable caught on one of the pins, wrapping around it until it was fully wrapped, like a tetherball, the cable then unwound until it was free, and the arm would swing around again possibly catching on the first pin, possibly going all the way around to the other side.  The sign describing the clock said it was a very interesting instrument, but a very poor timekeeper!  But who cares about things like that!

It was interesting at the quarter hours, as many of the clocks are kept wound and are working.  The chimes on the clocks vary considerably, and are very interesting as many of them sound over a period of a minute or two.

We next went about a mile away to the Carousel Museum of New England.  They had many carousel horses on display.  In this case "horses" also includes dogs, lions, zebras, giraffes, pigs, cows, and dolphins.  We had a young girl tour guide who tried to give us all the information on each of the items on display.  She did very well, but will certainly improve with additional tours.

She started by showing us a horse partially completed.  It is built up as a hollow box of about 100 pieces of wood, glued together, then carved to the final shape.  More modern builders have gone to partial or full use of aluminum, and more recently, fiberglass.

They have several miniature models of complete carousels which she ran for us.  They also have a mechanical "band box" from a carousel which she played for us.  It was LOUD!  It played the familiar reed, pipe, and drum music we all know so well, but it was so loud it was almost painful!

When we finished here, we decided to try to locate the Lock Museum of America several miles to the west in Terryville.  We had not been able to reach them by phone, as they have short hours and we always missed them.  We found the building which is open Tuesday through Sunday from 1:30 to 4:30.  It was now about 3:45; we were in luck!  I parked in the back, walked down a fairly steep sidewalk to a ramp going to the front door.  The door was locked!  Oh well, we tried.

We stopped at McDonald's for lunch and continued our tour.  We took a scenic drive heading to the north to make a large loop back to camp.  We almost gave up when, right at the start, we drove over some very rough dirt where the road had been dug up.  They directed us to turn and there were no signs or other indicators where to go for the detour.  We missed the correct route.  After poking around some small streets we got back where we had been a few minutes before and drove through the construction again.  This time we tried a different route and found our way back to highway 4!

It was a gorgeous drive which took us along several back roads and through several small towns.  We made a side trip to West Cornwall to see one of the few remaining Connecticut covered bridges.  It crosses the Housatonic River.  It is an active, single lane bridge with a fair amount of routine traffic.

Upon reaching the camp road, we continued on to do a little exploring of the town.  We tried to find the Plattekill United Methodist Church where Sue Kendall's brother, Hylton Sanders (who served as retired minister at Escondido a number of years) served the Plattekill Methodist Church way back when he was in Seminary.  I estimate that this was about 50 years ago.  (Dick and Sue Kendall are good friends from our church.)  We are going to try to look it up in a phone book if we can find one.

When we got back to camp, we had 214 miles on our odometer since we bought gas this morning shortly after leaving camp.  We probably drove 225 miles today.

Friday, July 9

We had to move this morning.  The totally secluded tree covered spots we have enjoyed the last two days had reservations for the weekend, and we moved to the "rally" area.

It has been raining lightly since about dawn, never heavy, but just a light drizzle.  There is a front moving through and we hope it clears the area by tomorrow noon.  That is when we plan to go to the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, where they specialize in airplanes of the period 1900 to 1940.  They have an airshow every Saturday and Sunday.  As we are leaving for New Jersey on Sunday, we need good weather Saturday!

Shortly after noon today, we left for a drive to the United States Military Academy at West Point.  The rain had mostly stopped and it only took about a half hour to get there.  We went into the Visitor's Center first and looked at their displays of cadet life at the academy.  We also watched a video describing the academy and the advantages of attendance and pointing out how well their cadets do throughout life.

We then drove around the grounds, stopping at the Cadets Chapel.  When we were here in 1994 the chapel was closed for 3 weddings the afternoon we were here.  Today it was open.  It is a huge, old stone structure with a magnificent, world class organ, and many, many stained glass windows.

We went over to Trophy Point and admired the view of the Hudson River and Constitution Island.  Near the point is a short length of the chain that was run between the point and the island during the Revolutionary War to keep the British from sailing up the Hudson.  There are also numerous examples of cannon from the various wars.

On our way home, we stopped at the United Methodist Church in Modena, only about 3 miles from our campground.  Further email correspondence with Dick and Sue Kendall last night indicated that the Plattekill church was combined with two others in the immediate area, many, many years ago.  The result is that this is the church we were looking for. 

Saturday, July 10

Today was a fun day!  We went to the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, about 30 miles from here.  They have the world's largest individually owned collection of 1908 to 1918 vintage airplanes.  Their total collection includes antique cars, trucks, motorcycles, and airplanes to as late as 1940.  Their museum is open daily and allows you to see static displays.  On Saturday and Sunday you get a special treat!  They have an airshow which includes an antique fashion show, a display of old vehicles driving around the aerodrome, and flying by a number of the vintage aircraft.

Before the show started they were giving (selling) rides in a 1929 New Standard D-25 biplane.  Unfortunately, they had to suspend these rides about an hour before the airshow due to unruly winds.  The weather has been a major concern of ours today, as a front is passing through this afternoon.

Prior to the airshow starting we went up a very steep hill to several hangars full of whole or partial airplanes, old cars, and engines.  All were labeled, and quite interesting.

As the airshow started we were treated to barnstormer flying by a pair of biplanes, a Great Lakes Sport Trainer and a Stadt(?) SP4.  They did some minor aerobatics first, then passed over the field and dropped a roll of toilet paper from each plane.  Then, as it fell in a stream to the ground they would see how many times they could cut it with a wing before it reached the ground.  (The winner cut it 5 times.)

At this point we had an unscheduled entry into the show.  One of the supporters of the field was leaving in his new Super Decathalon, a current day fully aerobatic descendent of the Aeroncas.  He gave us about a 10 minute demonstration of aerobatics, then headed away from the field on his way home.

Next they brought out a 1908 Bleriot, which they only taxied up and down the runway as the winds were not suitable for their normal flight the length of the field.  This is the oldest flying airplane in the United States, and is about 50% original.  It was found in an automobile wrecking yard, and restored to its present flyable condition.  The announcer apologized and explained that the reason they have so many vintage airplanes that still fly is that they know when to fly them and more importantly, when not to.

They then taxied out a restored 1912 or 1913 airplane which was powered by an 80 hp. LeRhone rotary engine.  This engine has the crankshaft fastened to the airframe, and the crankcase and cylinders rotate with the propeller.  There is no throttle; it is always run at full power.  The control is by turning the ignition on and off.  This gives a very distinctive on-off-on-off sound, along with the fact that with the rotating engine, there is no way to muffle the exhaust.

They then taxi demonstrated a 1911 Curtis pusher.  This was a very successful airplane in its day and flew quite well.  Curtis was the major competitor to the Wright brothers in the earliest days.

Now came the highlight of the show - the 1917 Sopwith Camel.  This also used a rotary engine with a magneto that allowed cylinders to fire every two revolutions for full power, or every 4, 8, or 16 revolutions.  This gave some measure of power control other than merely shutting off the ignition.  The Camel took off and circled the field.  The engine sounded like it was sputtering and spitting sometimes.  This was the selective magneto doing its thing.  While it was flying, a 1917 Fokker DR-1 triplane using a Gnome rotary engine took off and flew with it.     There were several rounds of simulated anti-aircraft shells fired from across the field, but there was no dog fighting.  The Camel's landing was quite hair raising as the wind was not steady and somewhat across the runway, along with the fact that the plane is very unstable, but the pilot handled it beautifully.  When the Fokker landed a couple of minutes later, the wind was much better behaved and it landed with no problem.

As the winds were not getting any better, they taxi demonstrated an Aeronca C3 and a Curtis Wright Jr. pusher. 

During the show, we had two hoaxes pulled on us.  Prior to the show the PA announcer let everyone know they had a special guest, a WW1 pilot, one of very few remaining whom they would be interviewing.  They later brought him out onto the field and started to interview him.  When asked his age, he responded 101.  When asked how many planes he shot down, he answered 71.  We got very suspicious.  They asked if he would sit in a biplane and pose for photos, which of course he agreed to.  They taxied up a "rare" Davis biplane and helped him in.  As he was manipulating the controls, the engine suddenly revved up, the bottom wings fell off, and he took off in a very "uncontrolled" manner.  He put on a good show.  After openly admitting the hoax, they stated that sadly, as far as they knew, there were no longer any WW1 pilots alive.

Just prior to the start of the show, they announced that the state police just set up a roadblock on highway 9.  They indicated there was an escape from a nearby prison and that all cars were being stopped and checked.  As there are a couple of prisons nearby, this was plausible.  

Late in the show, we heard sirens and an antique sidecar motorcycle roared out onto the field with a stripe-shirted person in the sidecar.  An antique police car was chasing them with lots of gunshots.  They almost had her when she slipped out of their grasp and climbed onto the wing of a handy biplane.  Before she could get into the cockpit the plane took off with her flapping in the wind behind the wing.  She eventually "fell" off and fluttered down into some trees across the field.  She then "rolled" down the hill and was captured.

It was a lot of fun!

We leave our great modem connectivity tomorrow, so I'll send this in the morning.

Sunday, July 11

Today is a travel day again.

We got up and started putting things into travel mode.  I went down to the lounge and sent #15 along with a couple of changes to the church web page, and then we headed out.

We arrived at the Beaver Run Campground, in Hamburg, NJ around 2:00 and got settled in.  We then headed to Franklin Lakes, NJ to visit some very good long time friends, Wilma and Fred Rathjen.  We arrived at about 4:30 and met their daughter Mayna's two children, Christopher and Brittany.  They are almost exactly the same ages as Kylie and Rebecca, our two granddaughters at 7+ and 3+ years.  Later we got to see Mayna briefly as she came by to pick them up.

We did a lot of catching up and had an excellent dinner that Wilma prepared.  As we were sitting in their back yard just feet from the edge of their forest, we saw blinking.  It was fireflies again.  They are so neat!

All of a sudden it was 10:00!  None of us could believe it.  We left about 10:30 for our 45 minute drive home.  It is always a great joy to visit with the Rathjens and a pleasure to see their beautiful "home in a forest" setting again.

Monday, July 12

I have been communicating with a good friend and former co-worker (from my GEC, San Marcos, CA days), Pat Charley, since before we left home.  We agreed to get together and to "double date" with her and her boyfriend, Jim for dinner.  After numerous emails back and forth, we selected today as the evening to go out to dinner.  We also decided that this morning was the best time for me to go back into the plant were I worked for the year of 1994 to see the progress they have made since I left, and to see old friends there.

I left camp about 8:00 this morning, and after about an hour's drive was at the GEC Marconi - Hazeltine (the Hazeltine has been added since I left) plant in Wayne, NJ.  Pat met me in the lobby and took me in where I saw many people whom I had worked with in San Marcos, then in New Jersey, and many others whom I had met and worked with in NJ for the first time.

Bill Shamieh, Tom Cassidy, and Pat, all whom I had worked closely with, took me on a tour of the manufacturing areas.  They have made a lot of progress since I left.  They have a number of new pieces of equipment, a totally new plant layout, and appear to be directing enough personnel and resources toward them to make everything work.

I had expected to be in the plant about an hour, but by the time I left, it was about 12:00.  

I drove over to the restaurant where we are meeting tonight, just to make sure I will be able to find it, and headed back to camp.  It sure brought back a lot of memories driving past the apartment house where we lived, and driving around in surprisingly familiar surroundings.

After a few hours at camp, we headed back to the Wayne area to do a little sightseeing prior to dinner.  We took the turnoff from highway 23 to drive past the apartment, turned the wrong way on the transition, and looked at the plant instead. (It HAS been almost 5 years, and I cannot remember all the details!)  We probably made that transition 100 time in 1994.  We swung around some of the areas we used to frequent and approached the apartment from the other direction.  We came via hwy 46, and as we made the transition we remembered that this approach requires you to stay to the left of a solid line until past the apartment turn-off.  We always had to go past and make 2 U-turns when coming from that direction.

We headed a few miles out 46 to some of our old shopping areas, then turned around and headed for the restaurant.  

We met Pat and Jim there and had an excellent Mexican dinner.  We spent over two hours talking and eating and getting to know Jim.  (Yes Pat, we approve!)  It was a very enjoyable evening!

At about 9:30 we got on the road for the campground.  We made it in 50 minutes tonight.

Tuesday, July 13

We had a much more relaxing day today.  When we first arrived in camp, I looked at the tall trees we are totally surrounded by and decided to not even try the satellite.  When we got up this morning, I noticed that Keith's dish was set up.  He said that after much fiddling, he was able to find a spot that gave him about 22 to 25% signal.  It gave him TV all last evening.  I sighted along his dish, and he apparently is hitting a very tiny hole through the foliage!  I tried setting my dish along side his to the left, to the right, in front of, and finally behind his.  I finally had a signal too.  At 25%, so far my TV is perfect.  (I hope it doesn't rain tonight or I'll certainly lose it.)

We decided to see Washington's headquarters in Morristown, NJ this afternoon.  We went out highway 94 to 15 and were heading out that when all at once we were in a line of stopped cars.  After about 10 minutes and about 2 car lengths advancement we were wondering what to do.  A car coming the other way stopped and talked to a driver several cars ahead, and that car immediately pulled out of line, turned around, and left.  We did likewise.

We drove around and found a parallel road about a mile down the road.  We headed down it about a mile and came upon a stopped train across the road.  We finally found roads that bypassed the tie-up and proceeded.

Washington's Headquarters in Morristown is where the general spent the winter of 1779-1780.  He used the Ford mansion.  Mr. Ford had been killed in the war a couple of years earlier, and one of their sons had died after that.  Mrs. Ford agreed to let Washington and his top men occupy their home.  She and her 4 remaining children were given 2 of the rooms to live in, while Washington and his men took over the rest.  We toured the house and saw the 2 small rooms that the Fords lived in as well as the 2 unheated rooms that both the many Ford servants and Washington's many servants lived in upstairs.  Several of the rooms were set up with desks and pen sets for the secretaries to transcribe all the required documents.  One of the rooms was a meeting place when dignitaries visited, and was the eating room at mealtime.

We will be pulling out in the morning and head toward Punxsutawney, PA.

Wednesday, July 14

We got underway this morning just before 9:00 after aiming for 8:30 (I'm glad we don't have any schedules!).  It was overcast all morning and made driving a pleasure, with no sun-in-the-eyes problems, and no need to either heat or cool the motorhome as we drove.

We arrived in Woodland, PA a little after 2:00 and settled into our sites.  We are in an open area with a few young trees.  I put up the rooftop satellite antenna and immediately got 85%.  After last night's 25 with no problems, I think we are set!

This is a Passport America park, and including these two nights, we have now saved over $200 over and above the price of the membership!  I like it!

Tomorrow Virg is going over to a place where they raise "fiber animals" including llamas and musk oxen, and sell the "wool" for weaving.  I believe they also have a large selection of weaving equipment.

Thursday, July 15

Today is a "kick-back" day.  Virg and Keith have gone to the fiber and yarn place, and there are no particular attractions we are planning for today.

We did a few things around the motor home, and shortly after noon left to see some of the local country side.  We drove a circular route along several of the highways targeting Punxsutawney, PA.  When we arrived, there was a Pizza Hut with some sort of a magnetic force that controlled the path of our car right to their door.  I had my favorite, their Meat Lovers Special while Betty had spaghetti and meatballs.  We now have lunch or dinner for several days in our refrigerator.

As long as we were in such a famous place, we decided to visit Phil.  When we found the library, we went around to the back, and there was a window into the groundhogs' pen.  Inside were Punxsutawney Phil, Phillis, and one other groundhog.

On our way back we found a Wal-mart and picked up a few necessities.

Tomorrow we head toward Dayton and will get a little over half way.

Friday, July 16

I have been looking for a Cummins shop (no, the motor home is doing just fine) to buy some more of the oil I have been using.  It is a Valvoline Premium Blue blended specially for Cummins engines, and sold mostly at Cummins.

We looked in the Cummins book last night and found that there is a shop in Clearfield, just one exit down I-80 from our camp.  I tried calling their listed number (after working hours) and after several rings, received a FAX carrier tone.

I decided to try to run over there this morning before leaving for Ohio.  I waited until after 7:30 and called again - same result.  I unhooked the Saturn and drove over there.  I found the street and drove it from end to end.  I never found the listed number.  Next I drove to a convenience store and asked to look at a phone book.  There was no listing.  I tried the phone number, now after 8:00 A.M., still with no answer.  I headed back to camp to re-hookup the Saturn and hit the road.  My Cummins manual is about 6 years old now, and it is time to get an updated listing of their shops.

We were away earlier than normal, even after my wild goose chase.  We had about 260 miles to go today to Cambridge, OH.  We must have encountered at least 6 road construction areas!  Most narrowed you down to a single lane, often crossing over to the other side to drive tight along a concrete barrier.

We arrived at our campground around 2:30.  Once again we almost did not get in.  They had a reservation which was incomplete and lacked much information.  They decided to give us the spaces and deal with them if they ever arrived ("bird in hand" theory, I'm sure).  The office lady asked if we would like to use our air conditioner, then broke out laughing.  It was almost 100 degrees out.  We paid our $3 a day for both days and can run our air as much as we like.  I notice that many if not most of the parks in this part of the country charge extra for air or electric heat.

We discovered there is a country music jamboree in the area this weekend, drawing thousands of people.  Our neighbors across the way tried to check into a state park a couple miles down the road, and were told it was full as of 9:00 this morning!  We had made no reservations as there are 3 parks within about 5 miles, and we were confident we could get in one of them.  We did not count on the jamboree!

We are here for 2 nights, and will head for Dayton on Sunday.

Saturday, July 17

Today we decided to do some local exploring.  Being a Saturday, the several company tours that Betty identified in the area are closed.  We headed to Zaneville to try to find a large basket making factory, and their associated stores.  We headed out highway 60 and saw signs it was closed in 6 miles.  We had about 8 to go to the factory.  At about 3 miles we found the road closed with a small back country road as a detour.  We drove about 5 miles on that and decided to turn back and approach the factory from the other end.

We got back on the interstate and went to the next exit to find the highway.  When we got there, Betty discovered it did not connect there, but was back in Zaneville.  I started to head back, but she did not want to.  Keith and Virg were more successful, and raved about the size and quantity of shops in the complex.

We stopped at a pottery and china shop and saw many, many items, many of local origin.

We drove through Cambridge, the nearest town to our campground, then decided to go to the local Cracker Barrel Restaurant.  We had delicious dinners, and brought home enough for another.

Tomorrow we head to Dayton to see the USAF Museum.

Sunday, July 18

One of the advantages to being retired, and not having a strict schedule, is that you can change whatever schedule you do have on a whim!  We decided this morning to not move for another day, and to go to the basket factory that we missed out on yesterday.  It is called Longabergers.

We left camp around 10:40 this morning heading for the town of Dresden.  We DID NOT take highway 60 as we tried yesterday.  We did some sightseeing, taking short side trips, on the way over.  When we arrived we saw an absolutely huge complex!  It was almost like entering Disneyland.  There were several parking attendants directing cars to the correct place in the parking lots.  The visitor's center was one of a group, collectively called the Homestead.  Tour buses pick you up just outside to transport you to the factory buildings.  

We went out to catch a bus, and one pulled up almost immediately.  It had a wheelchair lift in the back.  The driver got out and started to work the controls.  The lift jammed and would not come out from its storage location.  I could see what was jamming it and pointed it out.  A little prying at the right time and it came out about 2/3 of the way.  He jiggled and pulled, and it continued out the rest of the way, and dropped slowly to the ground.  We got Betty loaded just fine and went to Building A.  This contained the gallery, where there were displays containing many of their baskets.  Near the front door was a lady giving demonstrations of basket weaving.  They use hard maple wood strips, of various widths and thicknesses for the different parts of the basket.

The basket the demonstrator was making is a cake basket or a small picnic basket.  The only difference is the handles that are later attached.  She starts by weaving a square of 5 strips by 5 strips, using about 1 inch wide strips.  This is done with 2 strips on top of each other at a time.  The strips hang over about a foot on each side.  After tacking several strips to the bottom, she clamps this carefully on a "horse" between a pattern the size of the inside of the basket, and a flat board.  The horse allows her to rotate the basket and tool as she works.  

She wraps an inner border strip around the top of the form and holds it in place under clips on the form.  She carefully forms the overhanging strips from the bottom around the form, and up its sides.  Now she starts with narrow strips, still two thick and weaves them over and under around the form.  She staggers the ends of the two strips and ends them under bottom (now side) strips.  She works her way up the side of the basket, periodically hammering the strips down tight, using a steel bar and hammer.

When the sides have been woven to the top, she does the "haircut" by trimming the excess length of the side strips even with the top of the form.  She then wraps the top border strip, and a narrow trim strip centered on it, tacking them in place all around.  The basket is now finished except for the inspection and final sanding of the top edge.  If she finds any cracked or split strips, she cuts them out and weaves in a short replacement strip.  At the prices they charge, all baskets must end up perfect!

This is the way all their baskets are made in the factory.  They employ about 2000 basket weavers, on 3 shifts. 

We then went into the factory portion of this building.  The building covers 6 1/2 acres!  Inside are many, many, many workbenches.  Each bench has working surfaces at each end with a raised area in the center to hold the raw strips.  The benches will accommodate a worker on each side, with a welded steel "horse" to hold basket forms on each side of the bench.  I did a quick count.  There are 6 major sections in the factory with about 100 benches each.  There is a glass door container in the center holding the raw material maple strips, holding them at the desired moisture level.  A couple of the areas had slightly fewer benches, so say there were 550 benches to accommodate 1100 weavers.  This agrees with what the demonstrator said, that there were currently about 900 weavers on first shift.

The factory was very clean and well laid out.  There were ample aisles, etc.  As it is Sunday, we can only guess what it looks like with a full compliment of workers.

Next we caught the bus to go to building B, the staining, shipping, and warehouse area.  Again, the driver had a lot of trouble with the lift, but got it to work finally.

Building B is 21 acres in size!  (That is over 900,000 square feet!)  There were lots of baskets in the dyeing area.  They have a large machine with circular arrays of hooks.  Baskets are hooked by hand, the conveyor passes them through the spray areas while the groups of hooks spin off the excess.  The stain covers the raw wood and protects it.  This huge building contained storage for the raw materials, packaging, and finished product, as well as the shipping area.  It also had a number of weaving benches in a training area.  They train all their new weavers for 16 paid weeks before they go out on the line.

They produce about 40,000 baskets a day, and shipped about 8 1/2 million baskets last year!

Next we went back to the Homestead.  This time the driver had so much trouble with the lift he ended up taking me back, leaving Betty.  I got our car, drove past the orange cones and picked her up.  I then drove her back to the Homestead.  As you might imagine, with such huge buildings, they are quite far apart.

There are a number of other buildings comprising the Homestead.  Just outside the visitor center is the world's largest apple basket, about 15 feet tall.  Behind was the "Longaberger at home" building.  This is another huge building with two stories of shops and boutiques.  Here they sell all types of clothing, food, teddy bears, and, oh yes, even baskets! in at least 20 different shops.  They only sell 2 specific baskets here so as to not interfere with the business of their "hosts".  They sell all their baskets using "parties" like Tupperware.  Apparently the concept works.

On our way back to camp, we drove through Dresdon and found the world's largest basket (Guiness listed).  It was built by the Longaberger company, and is 48 feet long, 11 feet wide, and 23 feet high.  It took 10 maple trees and about 2000 hours of labor to build.

Tomorrow we truly head to Dayton.

Monday, July 19

We just got into camp just outside Dayton, OH after about 4 hours of driving.  Considering it is very close to 2 major freeways, it is really quite nice.  The noise is not nearly as bad as I had figured it would be, and with our air on, we won't hear it at all.  The biggest plus is that it is about 12 miles from the USAF Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

I just found out they have an outdoor telephone jack for modem hookups, so will head over there right now.  I haven't been able to get online for several days now.

This campground is the first one which gave us a problem with Passport America.  We were expecting to pay $9 a night per the Passport America book.  When we checked in I said we were both Passport America, and shortly later I gave her my card.  She did some paperwork and said that will be $50 please.  When I questioned the charges she said they are not with PPA anymore (I don't know why she didn't say anything earlier).  That is OK.  I can understand someone backing out of an agreement, and that's between them and PPA.  What did bother me was an extra $3 a day charge because I have 2 air conditioners regardless of whether I run them both or not.  I have not had both on at the same time yet this trip - until now!  I like campgrounds with at least a small element of trust!

That aside, this is quite a nice campground.  We are overlooking a pond, through a line of trees.  We have several large trees around us, and we even have a clear path between trees for the satellite dish.

I went over shortly after arriving and used their outdoor modem connection.  It is very handy, and I connected at 26,000+.  Apparently it is a noisy line, however, as the transfers were quite slow.  I had made an error in the email address of Betty's brother, so they have not gotten any of the reports.  I started to send 1 through 16 and it was taking about a minute per report, so I quit after 4 for now.

I did get the latest church calendar, so I can get that posted to the web site, hopefully tonight.

We decided to go into Springfield, a few miles from here to do several things.  Since I found that NAPA carries the oil I need for the motor home engine, I looked up NAPA's in the phone book and found 2 in Springfield.  We also got the address of a Pet Food Warehouse.  It is questionable whether the food we brought for Muffy will last until we get home.  We also selected enough laundry to last until we get home.

I looked up the various addresses on Street Atlas and printed a map.  We headed into Springfield and immediately found the first location - no NAPA.  I later found that I had found a West address instead of an East.  We drove about 6 blocks to the other NAPA, and there it was.  They even had my oil!  Next we drove a few more blocks and found the pet food store.  After getting Muff her food, I looked across a small street and there was a Laundromat.  I went over and found it was air conditioned!  We got our wash done, and while it was drying we went over to a nearby supermarket and did our shopping.

As we exited the market, it was raining and there was lightning in the distance.  We hurriedly got ourselves, the groceries, and the wheelchair into the car and went back to get our wash out of the dryer.  A very successful trip.

In the morning we go to the US Air Force Museum.  

Tuesday, July 20

We had decided to leave for the museum around 8:45 this morning; Keith is going with us.  I got up and tried to turn on the Weather Channel and it took several minutes to find it!  Today is the day DSS is reassigning all their channels.  They bought USSB, who used to supply the premium movie channels, and now they have combined and repositioned everything.

We drove to the USAF Museum and entered.  They have a number of planes parked outside on display, but the majority of their displays are indoors.  We went past the IMAX theater and down a hall to the "Early Days" displays.  Here were many planes from the earliest times to about the WW2 period.  We saw several very similar planes to those we saw at the Old Reinbeck Aerodrome.  We saw a 1909 Bleriot, a Nieuport, a couple of Fokkers, several Curtis Wrights, and a pristine Link Trainer.  Altogether, there were probably 30 or 40 planes in this section.

Next we went to the jet age hangar (we were out of sequence here).  There was a B-70 bomber, a B-52, and at least 50 other planes, mostly jets, but not all.  They had a flight simulator for which they were selling rides.  I figured that since they took up to 14 people at a time, it was just a thrill ride, not a real simulator.

The next hangar we visited contained mostly reciprocating powered aircraft of the WW2 era.  Here we saw planes such as the B-29, Spitfire, B-36, Twin Mustang, etc.  

Keith was going around the displays separately, and also attended one of the IMAX showings.

After completing this hangar, we explored the gift shops, and purchased several books and other items.

We obtained a pass to go to the Presidential Display, in a couple of hangars on the Wright-Patterson AFB proper.  We drove over there and saw two more hangars of aircraft.  In the first one, among many others, were the SR-71 Blackbird, a Chance-Vought tilt wing vertical takeoff plane, a huge MATS transport plane, a Benson gyrocopter, and a ram-jet helicopter, and an F-111 fighter (for which our company, while I was still working, made electronics packages).  

Through a door to the next hanger was the Presidential Display.  The prime exhibit was the Air Force One Boeing 707 plane used by all presidents since JFK.  There was an Aero Commander used by Ike, a Constellation also used by Ike, the first presidential airplane commissioned by FDR, a Douglas C-54C the "Sacred Cow", and several others.

It was a most interesting day!

Tomorrow we are leaving at 7:30 to try making the 300 mile drive to St. Louis with enough time left to visit the arch.  We originally were spending two days there, but traded one of them for the extra day to see the basket factory.  We do not want to slip a day here, because we are set up to tour an organ factory on Friday in Kansas City.  They do not give tours on Saturday.

I will send this tonight as I don't know when I'll have another modem connection.

Wednesday, July 21

We got off very close to the scheduled 7:30 this morning, under hazy, foggy skies.  We drove about 320 miles, through Indiana and most way through Illinois, and arrived in camp around 3:00 by our clock.  Today we got back one of the hours we lost earlier, by entering the Central time zone, so it was really 2:00.  Our campground is Timber Trails Camp Inn in Mullberry, IL.

After getting set up, and relaxing a while, we headed west almost 60 miles into St. Louis to see the arch.  We circled the arch and discovered two massive sets of stairs up from the river frontage road to the base of the arch.  We asked at each of the 3 different parking lots we passed and the best advice we got from one of the lots was "I dunno, lots of wheelchairs come in, but I don't know where they go".

We finally decided that the lot with a sign saying that the casino could validate the tickets, was really a public parking garage.  We drove up to the top level, and were at the level of the base of the arch.

We went into the visitor's center which is underground beneath the arch.  We found that the "tram" ride to the top of the arch is not wheelchair accessible, so I left Betty in the gift shop (very dangerous maneuver!) while I went up alone.  

There are two trams, one on each leg of the arch.  Each tram consists of 8 cars, about like an enclosed ferris wheel seat.  Each is a cylinder that seats 5 people (very closely).  The 8 cars load at 8 landings on a stairway.  They then head up at an angle toward the bottom of the arch.  There they reverse direction as they start following the arch upward.  Every few seconds, there is a noise, and the car changes its angle, to maintain a near level attitude.  As the car approaches the top of the arch, the rotation is almost continuous.

At the top of the arch, the tram stops, again aligned with 8 stairway landings and you get out.  You then climb the rest of the stairs to the top section which is level only at the exact center of the arch.  There are windows along both sides at the very top.  The view is spectacular from about 630 feet up.  This is the nation's tallest monument, exceeding the Washington Monument by more than 100 feet.

The ride down mirrored the one up.  The one comment everyone made was "Boy, is it hot up there!"  It was!  The arch itself was quite hot, but the tram ride up and down was really hot!

I lucked out by being a party of one.  As I stood in line waiting for my assigned tram to be called, a man asked if there was anyone that did not mind being split from the rest of his party.  I informed him that it was just I, and he started to move me up one group of people to fill a vacancy, but then said "I can move you up two groups" and escorted me past about 80 waiting people.  That saved me somewhere between 10 and 20 minutes of waiting time.

We then made a fairly quick (30 minutes) pass through a very well done museum commemorating Western Expansion, tracing the Louis and Clark expedition, and other significant explorations.  There were many displays, animated figures telling us about themselves, huge mural photographs of the scenery along the expedition, and stuffed bison and oxen, etc.

We headed back outside, and my glasses immediately fogged over.  It was very hot and extremely humid outside, and the cool glasses were well below the dew point.  We meandered around taking video and photos, and headed back to the air conditioned Saturn.  Boy am I glad it wasn't the Nissan.  The air conditioning in that car is on its last legs.

We stopped in Greenville, about 9 miles from our camp, on our way home and had dinner at a Taco Bell / Kentucky Fried Chicken place.  It was strange that in this small town, there was a KFC-only store only about a block away.

Tomorrow we head to the outskirts of Kansas City to spend 2 nights.  Tonight's camp and our next one are both Passport America parks, so the price is very reasonable at about $10 a night.

Thursday, July 22

We had a drive of about 270 miles today, across the mighty Mississippi River and almost through Missouri to our campground, Trailside Campers Inn of K.C. in Grain Valley, MO.  We are about 25 miles from the border to Kansas, and just a few miles outside Kansas City, MO. 

It seemed like it took us forever to get out of the urban clutter around St. Louis and back to the pretty country setting.  We then drove through miles of corn and soybean as we have been for the last couple of days, now we are also seeing wheat.  All the wheat we have seen is just the stubble, as it is after harvest.

Friday, July 23

Today we left camp around 8:30, headed to Lawrence, KS and the Reuter pipe organ company.  It was about a 60 mile drive and we went right through the center of Kansas City.  As it turned out there was no problem at all.  We kept full speed even in the heaviest traffic areas.  We hit the toll section and paid 1.25 to go about 20 miles, then back to free.

The company is located just across the Kansas River in a fairly old 3 story factory building.  There is also a newer brick building that houses the engineering and clerical offices.

Ron, our guide took us into the factory and first showed us the area where they are assembling the organ case (pipe towers) for a very large organ for the First Presbyterian Church in Seattle, WA.  It is the largest organ they have ever built, having 107 ranks and over 7000 pipes.  These cases are about 10 feet square and range up to 16 feet high.  With the pipe arrangement for this installation, there were 3 towers that would be out of sight, plus several display ones for the huge pipes that would line the front wall of the church.

We then went upstairs to where the consoles were being made.  They had three consoles under construction.  One was a bare case in the early stages of construction.  We stopped at a table where a craftsman was making the keys for this console.  He had a glued up assembly of wood wide enough to cut the white keys from.  He was meticulously using a chisel to square up a small hole through each eventual key.  The strip is then sawed into the individual keys and they are laminated with bone keytops.  These are made from cow bone.

We then saw the console for the organ downstairs.  It was a 4 manual console with huge stop panels on each side (107 ranks, remember?) and 4 swell pedals, plus a number of stops for the foot pedals.  The four manuals had the bone finished keys like we saw being made.  The sharps and flats keys were made of rosewood, and were gorgeous.

I remember seeing the console for the old pipe organ in the church where I went as I was growing up (Robertson Community Methodist Church, Los Angeles).  It had a fat bundle of hoses going from the console to the organ chamber.  Not anymore!  This organ uses a MIDI interface (a standardized computer music interface).  A cable no larger than a printer cable is all that connects the console to the organ case.  This controls over 7000 pipes as well as the swell louvers, etc.  The console is loaded with small circuit boards which Reuter buys as a system.  These provide more functionality than fully electronic organs.  You can store hundreds of stop combinations, digitally record the keystrokes and play them back with full "original" sound, interface to a computer and save to a disk, etc.  If a disk is made it is compatible with thousands of other organs from various makers.

He then showed us a console for an organ to be built after the large one.  It has all the functionality of the previous one, except it interfaces to the organ case with one fiber optic cable less than 1/8 inch in diameter.  He pointed out that the consoles have to be built ahead of the organ cases to be checked out and ready to check out the pipes.

He then took us to the bottom floor (basement) where the pipes are made.  They make pipes from wood, copper, alloys such as tin-lead, and sometimes tin.  The choice of metals often is made for appearance as much as for tone.  They had a 16 foot rank of pipes made of copper which was flame finished.  This gave a beautiful multi-colored appearance.  They also had pipes made of nearly pure tin.  These were for the display pipes which would line almost the full front wall of the church, along with a set of herald trumpet pipes.  They cast their own sheets of metal for the alloy pipes, and do all the fabrication for each pipe they use.  After they roll the metal into a tube of the correct diameter, the seam is either soldered or welded.  There is a lot of detail work to fabricate the pipe and then to provide a beautiful finish for it.

Upon my questioning him about the action of the valves that control the pipes, he took us back to the organ case.  Here he showed us a couple of pipe mounts.  These have a series of 12 volt coils.  Each one activates a small leather disk valve that allows a vacuum to pass through a channel milled into the wood to the base of a pipe.  Here there is a large leather on wood valve that is pulled open by the vacuum through the channel, thus opening the passage for the air to blow through the pipe.  This is repeated over 7000 times for this organ!  He said the design can be tailored to provide a fast attack or a slow attack depending on the effect needed.

He then showed us their store of various woods, some milled to their exact specs.  They use poplar, red and white maple, rosewood, mahogany, and several other woods normally, plus any special woods they may need to match existing woodwork in the destination church.  They have rolls of various metals for the pipes.

It was a very interesting hour or so!

On our way back we explored a number of the back roads in the area and researched the best route to take in the morning as we head to west Kansas.

Tonight we pretty much planned our stops for the rest of the trip.  These plans have us arriving back in Escondido next Thursday.

Saturday, July 24

We are now officially in "sprint for home" mode.  We have put together a schedule for the balance of the trip, and by driving about 300 to 320 miles a day, we should be home on Thursday!  We have no planned stops other than overnight sleep stops.

Today we crossed most of Kansas.  There really was not a large variety of scenery.  Our day went something like:

City, city, corn, wheat, corn, wheat, bug on windshield, big city, lots of interchange decisions, wheat, wheat, corn, soy, bug on windshield, road construction, corn, wheat, road construction, pay toll, nice road, bug on windshield, rest stop, . . .

In all fairness to Kansas, it is really quite a pretty state.  We are basically past the heavy tree growth we love so much about the eastern US, but the green fields have an appeal of their own.  We ran into a lot of road repair and construction, but the results are worth it.  Kansas has probably the best roads we have driven this trip.  Some of their bridges are quite rough, but the roads are great.

We arrived this afternoon in Wakeeney, KS, at a KOA.  As we pulled in, the park was 5 to 10 percent full.  It is now about 6:40, and the park continues to fill.  It is now about 70 percent full, of the spaces I can see from here.

It was over 100 until a short time ago, when we had a brief shower, but in general, the humidity seems down from yesterday.  Our air conditioner keeps us comfy.

Betty and I went into town a little while ago to see what is here.  It has a number of small stores and shops.  In the downtown area, there is a very wide street a good block long, paved totally with red bricks.  It isn't very smooth, but it looks pretty.

I picked up a couple of tapes to make copies of my video so I can give them to Keith and Virg before we part company on Tuesday.

We stopped at a Dairy Queen to get something to cool us off.  Then on our way back to the campground we stopped at a Subway shop and picked up a sandwich for dinner.  I always maintain that you should eat your dessert first, then the main course if you have room for it.

I plan to fill up our propane before leaving in the morning, as I don't want to take any chance of running out in these temperatures.  Our generator is propane powered, and without it, we would have no roof air in rest stops, or on the road when the dash air doesn't keep up.

Sunday, July 25

We pulled out of our spot at about 7:15 and drove over to the propane supply tank.  After we were filled, we sat for a couple of minutes and the Scholls were ready.  We both went to the end of the block and filled up on fuel, then hit the road.  We drove west on I-70 into Colorado, south-west on US24 for about an hour, then south on I-25 down to Pueblo.

It was a non-stressful run today all on interstates except about 60 miles on 2 lane road.

We arrived at another KOA just north of Pueblo, CO.  We regained another hour today just before leaving Kansas.  We are now within one hour of home time!

Betty and I drove into Pueblo to explore and pick up a couple of grocery items.  We should now be set for food till we reach home.

Tomorrow we head to the Albuquerque area.

Monday, July 26

We got away around 7:30, drove several miles down I-25 to fuel up, and headed out.  We had about 320 miles to go again, all south on I-25.  It was an uneventful drive with lots of afternoon cumulus clouds developing as we drove.  We only drove through light rain for a few minutes.

We found our park and settled in.  It is located about 30 miles north of Albuquerque, about a mile from the Rio Grande River.  After driving around the local area for about 45 minutes we went back to the motor home and were able to watch lightning and rain showers in the distance.  We only got a few drops here.  

Our park here is nice enough, but is quite "sterile".  All the interior roads are nicely paved, all the sites are blacktop with a little strip of gravel alongside, with a little parking spot for a car, complete with blue painted concrete burm.  This is all enclosed in curbs.  There are a few trees and small bushes.  There is a little green lawn on the very end of each row.  There is no natural anything around the park.  The term "Concrete Jungle" comes to mind.  They do have all the amenities, and everything is very clean and well maintained.

We did some more planning about the rest of our trip.  We are about 850 miles from home and are looking at the practicability of doing it in two days.  That would get us home on Wednesday.  We will see.

Tuesday, July 27

We left camp this morning with two possible destinations in mind: Seligman, AZ and Kingman, AZ.  We figured we would see how things were going and decide then.

We had a good drive as far as Holbrook, AZ where we said a sad farewell to the Scholls.  They turned south for the last 60 miles of their trip while we continued west.  

Just about as we entered the city limits of Flagstaff, AZ, it started raining.  We had been heading toward increasingly dense cumulus formations, and had been seeing lightning off to the side for about an hour.  As we proceeded through town it ranged from light rain to a couple of brief torrential downpours.  Mostly it was just light to medium rain.  We stopped at a rest stop between Flagstaff and Williams.  While there I remembered a comment Keith had made at our last common rest stop where we said our formal goodbyes.  He said that as long as we were that close, we ought to drop down through Prescott, AZ and see our friends Gene and Betty Wilkison.  I said something like "Yeah, yeah, sure, sure!" sarcastically.  I pulled out my computer and had Street Atlas route us through Prescott and also continuing west through Barstow.  Prescott was shorter!  That's all it took.

At Ash Fork we headed down US89 to Prescott and pulled into our favorite park there, Point of Rocks.  We pulled into our site and went over to the pay phone to call Gene and Betty.  We had no idea if they would even be home, as they were returning from Purgatory, CO around this time.

I called and Gene answered.  We exchanged greetings and I explained the situation.  Gene laughed and said they had been home from their Colorado trip less than ten minutes, and that in a couple of more minutes they would have left to eat dinner out.  How's that for timing?!!!  They agreed to delay dinner about a half hour, and the four of us had a delicious dinner together at the Dry Gulch Steak House.  Even though all four of us were tired, we totally enjoyed ourselves.  We left their house early so all of us could get to bed.

Wednesday, July 28

We were out of camp and on the road by 6:20 with a little under 400 miles to go.  We had thunder, lightning, rain, and hail between 3:00 and 4:30 this morning, but it was not raining when we left camp.  About an hour into our drive, it started drizzling lightly.  It continued raining on and off until we got to about the California line.

We had figured on fuelling at Ehrenburg, just about a mile on the Arizona side of the line.  We got to exit 1, and there was a line of trucks on the offramp, stopped.  At the head of the line was a truck with a police car parked alongside.  There was a truck with a huge oversize pipe right behind.  Obviously no one could get by.  As we passed the onramp, there was a huge tow truck backing up it to get to the top truck.  We continued on across the CA line, through the agriculture check point, and turned around at the next offramp.  As we exited to the Flying J station, the tow truck was hooking up to the stalled truck.

We filled up and got an early lunch while there.  At least 40 minutes after arriving, we left.  There was a longer line of trucks at the westbound offramp, and an even larger tow truck was now in front of the other one.  They were still trying to clear the ramp!

As we were driving in the Indio area, we saw a large number of wrecked railroad cars along the side of the road.  Apparently there was a train wreck there sometime recently.  I'll have to see if I can find out about that on some of the news sites on the web.

We had a smooth, uneventful drive home and got here, parked, the Saturn home (I have to unhook down the street), and into the house by 4:00 this afternoon.  Now to start trying to sort out the mail and undone tasks.  Naw, tomorrow is soon enough!

Some trip statistics:

We drove the motor home 7942 miles, all towing the Saturn.

We drove the Saturn an additional 4162 miles.

We drove a total of 12,104 miles between both vehicles.  (No wonder I'm tired!)

We drove in 26 states - 25 in the motor home, and one additional in the Saturn.
OH, IN, IL, MO, KS, and CO.  We entered DE only in the Saturn.

We were gone 68 days of which we mostly or totally enjoyed 68 days.

Thank you all so much for your support, your email messages, and most importantly, for riding along with us via email.  We totally enjoyed our trip and hope you were able to experience some of that enjoyment!

Till next time,

Dick and Betty