Archive for August, 2009

Passing Beauty

Monday, August 17th, 2009

Many people think of  New York and Pennsylvania as states full of big cities and tall buildings.  They are that, but so much more.

It would be pretty serene to have one of these New York homes  along the Hudson River.


And also, in the Hudson, we spotted this small fleet of sail boats.


Pennsylvania has rolling hills and beautiful rivers.


How about this scenic town.


As confirmed “Flat Landers” we can’t deny the beauty.

Fort Bellefonte Campground

Friday, August 14th, 2009

Click for Bellefonte, Pennsylvania Forecast

We left Connecticut and breezed through New York on I-84 and then I-80.  We got a late start and covered 324 miles before we stopped in central Pennsylvania.  We looked through our various books and selected the Fort Bellefonte Campground, a Good Sam park, just off I-80.

This place turned out to be a great choice.  The common buildings and grounds are extremely well maintained.  Someone even has a green thumb.


This photo shows the office area from the highway.


They have about 80 huge, level sites with all the services that you could want.  There are lots of things to keep kids busy.

Here are the particulars:

Fort Bellefonte Campground,  2023 Jacksonville RD, Bellefonte, PA 16823


Lat: 40.953762 Lon: -77.702171

A Mystic Experience

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

Click for Mystic, Connecticut Forecast

Rick’s brother, Gary, and his wife, Meg, offered to take us on a day trip to the Mystic Seaport.   We thought that we were heading to the coast, taking a few pictures, wading in the seashore, and heading home.  We were soon to find out that the Mystic Seaport is also known as “The Museum of America and the Sea”.

On the way to our ultimate destination, we stopped at The Rock Garden, a rock store that did a big business and provided educational programs for youths.  The place is easy to spot  with this commercial dinosaur in the parking lot.


An interesting exhibit was a darkened room with a display of luminous rocks.


They had all kinds of prehistoric specimens.


Specimens included some ancient geodes and other nice specimens.


Then off we headed to the Mystic Seaport. The museum covers several acres that included complete neighborhoods of early sea life, including churches and shops.  There were a number of ships that have been restored and can be boarded for viewing.


Several actual buildings used for the clam, crab, fishing and lobster industries have been preserved.  Several of them have actual working displays of barrel making, shipsmithing (like a black smith shop), printing, etc.


Several buildings displayed numerous nautical items.  One of my favorites was the lamp shop.


Mystic sports its own shipyard for the rebuilding of antique ships.


Ironically, Hurricanes Katrina and Ike have provided the ship rebuilders with a nearly unlimited supply of wood from live oak trees.  This is a favorite wood in ship building and some trees, as old as 600 years, have found their way to Mystic.  This 6-foot diameter log is an example.


The Mystic Shipyard is in the early stages of a gigantic undertaking.  They are rebuilding the last of the old wooden whaling ships, the Charles W. Morgan.


The Morgan is 105 feet long and was built in a period of nine months in 1841.  This restoration will take at least three years.  For a long period of time at the beginning of this restoration efforts are underway to remove the 9 or 10 inch arch in the keel that has appeared over the years from various repairs.  Jacks at both ends of the keel are forcing the ends up and gravity is pulling down the center.  Caulking is removed from various side planks to allow the ship to squeeze the planks together as it regains its shape.

A large hole has been cut in the hull under the water line to allow the rebuilders to pass new boards, up to 40 feet long, into the ship.


Visitors can climb up into the ship to observe the progress.


From the stairs heading to the deck, you can see how the ship dwarfs everything around it.


We spent about six hours at the seaport and didn’t see everything.  On the way out, you couldn’t help but notice this old, partly wooden, anchor.  I had never seen one with this type of construction.


We want to thank Meg and Gary for taking the time to show us this coastal gem.

Family in Connecticut

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

Click for Farmington, Connecticut Forecast

We cruised across Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. We were very impressed with the  beauty of each state.  It appears that we can see the light at the end of the “tunnel”.


The purpose of this trip was to visit with Rick’s mother and his brother, Gary, and family who live in north central Connecticut.  It is difficult to relate to the size of this state.  The distance from north to south in Connecticut is  a shorter distance than crossing the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.

We enjoy the old architecture, but not everything is “Big Rig” friendly.  This gas station is an example.


One of the quaintest towns was New Hartford, its buildings just oozes  early 1900’s.


It seems like all of the cemeteries are on hills.  As a confirmed “flat-lander”,  I wouldn’t want to be a pall bearer in this area.


We found an RV park, White Pines Campsites, which were located on top of a mountain.  There are easy ways to get there and really steep ways.  Our GPS had us turn the wrong direction and we were forced to go down a 12% – 15% grade for 8/10 of a mile.  The brakes were smoking when we reached the bottom.(Front pads and fluid changed out, another $300.00)

The campground is very busy on weekends.  They get tons of day people to use the pool, horseshoes, RC car track, and other activities.  They even have a hayride with “Mr. Hayride.”  That conjures up visions.


There’s no hay, and they pull it with a lawn tractor, but the kids enjoy it.

They have had so much rain that we were unable to get into the slots that would have allowed us to use our satellite TV dome.  Too many tall trees.  They ended up putting us on 3 RV spaces with water, electric and cable TV.  Most of their sites have gray-water sewer, but not ours. They came around and drained the gray and we fully dumped upon our departure.  Trees and low wires hindered the access to the dump.

We had a great visit with Rick’s brother, Gary, his wife, Meg, and son, Noel.  They were great hosts and kept us busy throughout the visit.  I don’t know how they do it.

We were happy to get time with Rick’s mother, Nelle.  Rick was able to get her computer tuned up.  She had been having problems with it.  A defective UPS was the culprit. That and a new mouse had her up and running like new. We really enjoyed our visit with her.

Nelle’s brother, Dick, also arrived for three days of visit during our stay.  We stopped at Dick’s house in St. Louis back in mid-July.

Bringing the Montana Home

Friday, August 7th, 2009

Click for Elkhart, Indiana Forecast

While we were near Indiana, we decided to head over to the Keystone factory and get a tour of the facility where they make Montana 5th wheel, our home on wheels.

On the way, we  stopped in at a McDonalds in LaGrange, IN and found ourselves in the backyard of Dometic, the manufacturer of many RV products such as refrigerators, air conditioners, toilets,etc.


Leaving LaGrange, we spotted a number of Amish traveling in their wagons. This entire area is very heavily populated with the Amish.


When we arrived at the Keystone RV plant, which is actually in Goshen, IN., we pulled into the driveway and found our way to the delightful Brittany in customer service.  We made arrangements with her to stay in one of their four visitor RV sites.  Brittany also arranged for Denise, a customer service technician, to visit us in our rig, the next morning, to discuss some pending service questions.

We had noticed that the tires on the Montana were demonstrating excessively wear on the inside of each tire.  Denise set us up for an immediate appointment with a local dealer, Tiara RV, to have our alignment checked.  It turned out that all of our springs were flattened, We’re not sure whether it has been from overweight or from rough roads.  Perhaps having the “G” rated tires has added some excessive stiffness to the system.  For most of our travels, we have had a generator hanging off the back of the rig.  Perhaps that played a role. We’re not sure.

Even though we are full time, we’re not excessively loaded.  We don’t collect rocks or anything and we have removed the generator and left it in Texas.

The people at Tiara RV are great as they set us up for the night at their place so they could start our spring replacement in the morning.   Unfortunately, the axle folks don’t supply a heavier duty spring for our application, so they went with an original replacement.  They ordered the parts and promised to have us on our way by  noon the next day for a mere $950.00.

Unfortunately we missed the plant tour at Keystone because of this, but we thought that the repair was more important.

The next morning, while we waited, we had breakfast at Cracker Barrel.   While wandering around, we spotted a place called The Dually Depot and decided to stop and have an alignment performed on our dually truck.  These folks have a large business and cater to all of the people who haul the trailers to the dealers and are real professionals.

Have you ever heard this?  “Sorry, we can’t align it because your ball joints are bad.”  Well, $1,035.00 and 5 hours later, we were on our way back to pick up the 5th wheel and we finally got on the road by 6:00 PM.

We had to make up a day because we had firm reservations in Connecticut that we needed to make.  By 10:30 PM, we had knocked off about 250 miles and stopped at one of the wonderful rest areas along the Ohio Turnpike.  We pulled in, fueled up and found one of the “Handicapped” truck parking spot which allowed for space enough to send out our bed slide-out.  We spent the night there and hit the road again about 9:00 AM and were back on schedule, at the Pocono Vacation Park, by evening.  Watch the eastbound 5% downhill grade that continues for 5 miles just before you get there.  I-80 had been very well maintained until this point, but this downhill section is extremely rough.