Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Windshield woes.

 After many miles and some small challenges we got to one of our “Target” destinations for this year, the Finger Lakes Region of New York.

The Finger Lakes

For our many American friends “upstate” New York is self apparent but for our UK friends some explanation may be helpful.

Most Europeans think of New York as a city, not realizing that there is a complete state of New York that stretches from the Atlantic Seaboard across to the Great Lakes. This other “New York” is further North and West of the city and so is referred to being “UP” State. The region is rural and very picturesque. In the far west of the state and just south of Lake Ontario are several long narrow lakes that align in rows north south. On a map they resemble fingers hanging down, hence the “Finger Lakes”.

The National Warplane Museum

WW1 Fokker DVI

This is a renown tourist area and one that we have never explored before now. That is why we arranged for the windshield repair on the RV to be done near Rochester, that being the major city in the North West corner of the Finger Lakes.

We decided to stay at the Elks Lodge in Brockport. Not far from Rochester and having the electric, water and dump facilities we would need if our stay turned into something longer than we had hoped, plus friendly people and a cozy bar!

The rig was pretty dirty after several rainy days and covered with bug guts after driving thru a couple of Cicada swarms. It took a couple of days to get it shiny again.

The windshield repair started turning into a melodrama. First the insurance company couldn't find a mobile company to come to us, then the first one wanted too much money to fit the new screen. Then they found a company and had the new screen delivered, only to find that when they opened the packing case that the new screen was broken already. Another replacement was shipped in but arrived too late to be installed before the 4th of July long weekend. 2 Days of forecast rain meant that it was another full week before it was scheduled to be installed.

Lobster salad sandwich at Captain Jacks.

We drove along the shores of Lake Erie and discovered Sodus Point, a quaint little town with 2 lighthouses and a great bar/restaurant called Captain Jacks who served Lobster and craft beer. To our delight the day after we visited we got a Face Book message from our friends Larry and Marilyn saying they were in Oswego a little further West and would we like to meet up for lunch somewhere, so we got to go back and enjoy Captain Jacks again! This little surprise get togethers are one of the best things about fulltiming.

Marilyn, Larry and Barbara 

The insurance company had another windshield shipped and we explored more of the area. The “Grand Canyon of the East” was nice and due to local drought it was strange to be able to see the base of the dam on both sides!

Letchworth SP and the dry dam

The Grand Canyon of the East

A longer trip was to Hammondsport which is the site where Glenn Curtiss grew up and became in turn a bicycle, motorcycle, aero engine and aircraft manufacturer. The museum covers the whole story and to my delight (But not Barbara’s) I spent most of the day happily wandering around.

Curtiss Motorcycle

Glen Curtiss invented the Sea Plane

Modern motorcycles too

The Curtiss Commando WW2 transport.

The weather turned extremely hot and humid for several days and we stayed firmly in air conditioned places.

At the Lodge they told us they had a celebration of life for one of the Elks Rider motorcycle group and we were invited to take part. There was a tremendous turn out of both motorcycles and trucks, both of which Steve had been involved with. He was obviously a well liked gentleman and his many friends and relations gave him a tremendous send off.

We also found the Genesee Country Museum in which historical buildings from across the county had been moved to the park and restored. A living history kind of place with demonstrations of crafts and industries appropriate to the age of the buildings. I was pleased to find that I wanted to take photographs with an intent to draw and paint next winter. I think I might be doing some paintings of barns and old buildings.

Genessee County Museum

The number of nice old barns around here is amazing and that started me thinking of painting some of them so we drove around taking hundreds of pictures.

Old Houses in Geneseo

Lots of old barns too

The windshield was supposed to be installed Thursday but after the long July 4th weekend the weather forecast had switched around with better weather on Tuesday and Wednesday but torrential rain on Thursday. We had made reservations in a B&B in Geneseo on Thursday night.

Temple Hill B&B

The Japanese Tea House

When we called the glass installer they checked their weather and suddenly said “Bring it over NOW!”. Barbara had just got in the shower! We hurriedly packed up and made it to the place by noon.

We called the B&B and they were happy to change the reservation so we moved in there that afternoon.

What a nice place Temple Hill B&B was and very accommodating. They blocked the room in for us thru Friday just in case we needed it.

The house was an 1850’s school house that had been converted to a private house around 1907. Thru the years it had a swimming pool added and 2 Japanese Tea Houses! A truly beautiful place, if you are looking for a place to stay south of Rochester, I would highly recommend this one.

New windshield at last!

On Wednesday around 11am the glass installer called and said we could pick it up so we slowly drove over there after checking out of the B&B and before long we were heading North about 15 miles to the Rochester Elks in Henrietta NY where we were booked in for Philly Cheese Steaks on Wednesday and Shrimp and Crab Boil Dinner on Friday, Should be good!

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

The long drag East.

If you read this blog enough you will know that we DON"T LIKE INTERSTATES.
 That being said we have a long one way trip scheduled - San Diego CA to Maine which is diagonally across the entire country. 

3200 miles.

In order to get there and have time to enjoy ourselves before it's time to return we have to get on the Interstate system and put in big mileage (for us). We know I8 from Casa Grande to San Diego like the back of our hands having driven in seemingly hundreds of times since 2014 when we first discovered Sundance 1 RV Resort

Shortly after Casa Grande I8 joins I10 and we have been down that stretch from Casa Grande to Las Cruces NM many times too. We usually stay at the SKP Park in Deming NM but we stretched ourselves this time to reach Las Cruces NM.

Next was Amarillo Texas for one night and a planned 2 night stop in Edmond Oklahoma.

Things don't always go as planned for the good, or the bad, and we had a scare when fueling between Amarillo and Edmond when we were ready to turn out of a gas station. There was construction everywhere and I don't know if that confused the truck driver who decided to drive up the road on the wrong side of double yellow lines. I had to slam on the brakes to miss him.

Shortly after that we were in yet more construction and on horribly bad roads, which seem to be a specialty in Oklahoma. There was a very load BANG on the windshield of the RV. We couldn't see anything wrong but when we pulled into the campground and raised the driver shade there was a large chip which soon turned into a crack.

The damage on the windshield

We stopped for the night and  the weather started deteriorating, with thunderstorms and heavy rain. The day we were to depart there was a flash flood warning on TV and severe thunderstorms were reported all along I44 which were were planning on taking up to Springfield Missouri.

The Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City

We decided to stay were we were for an extra day! We also decided to call out insurance company to file a claim on the windshield. They are aligned with Safelite for chip repair and I thought it would be an easy thing to do, but after 2 hours of miss-direction and an hour on hold, I gave up for the time being as neither the insurance company nor Safelite seemed to be able to do anything productive.

To top all that off we started losing power going up hills but replacing the fuel filters cured that.
We had been pounding the Interstates and driving 300+ miles a day for day after day to give us more time in the North East with 1 night stops at Elks Lodges along the way. We didn't stay at a commercial park until we were East of Indianapolis and that was almost by accident! We intended to dry camp at the Rising Star Casino in Rising Sun Indiana but they had a full feature RV park there too and we decided on the spot to spend 3 days there and recover from the long boring drive. It turned out to be a really nice area with some picturesque small towns. Free wifi, free cable TV and free breakfast every morning, plus Good Sam and Players Club discounts really helped too!.
The Rising Star Casino is actually a river boat on the Ohio River

Near Oklahoma city we stayed at the Edmond Elks who were really friendly people. As we walked in to register they were setting up for their weekly darts game and we rushed out to get our darts! 

After even more days of Interstates we turned off at Ashtabula Ohio and the Elks Lodge there. It sits right on the shore of Lake Erie in the pretty town of Ashtabula. We immediately met Linda and Heinz who have been full timing for 20 years in an Airstream trailer and make us look like beginners! They have been all over Mexico and Alaska too. 

We hit it off straight away and went from our intended 1 night stay to 3 while we all had dinner together and sat outside talking while we watched some glorious sunsets.
Heinz and Linda, lovely people.
Ashtabula was an iron ore port in the 1890's being on a straight lime down to Pittsburg. Badly polluted it is a shining example of how such sites can be cleaned up.

Sunset over Lake Erie

All around the area are covered bridges and wineries which kept us busy exploring.
There must be 30 covered bridges around Ashtabula

Meanwhile we were working with the insurance company to sort out the windshield replacement. They though it might take 3 weeks to locate and ship a windshield, so we decided to do it somewhere around Rochester NY. 

This would give us time to drive there while they found and ordered the windshield and at the same time let us explore the Northern end of the Finger Lakes which has been one of the objects of this trip. Once we get the work done we can move to the Southern end of the lakes and finish off our explorations.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Heading East by Going West.

Dinners and lunches at our favorite places, shopping (that’s what we come to Yuma for) and it gets us into the right frame of mind for the rest of the year.

The run from Yuma to San Diego was routine and boring as we chose to drive Interstate instead of the back roads simply because we haven’t towed the new car very far and so we took the easy way.

Happy Hour with the Shanty Shakers.

Our destination was the Pechanga Casino in Temecula CA about 40 miles north of San Diego. This is a full feature RV Resort and, pleasantly, gives Passport America discounts for week day stays so we have already paid for our $40 annual dues in discounts!

Pechanga RV Resort, nice park.

The purpose of this stop is a rally organized by our great friends “The Shanty Shakers” the San Diego chapter of our favorite RV club The Escapees.

Another happy hour

Everyone was ready for a good time after being locked up for the last year and it showed at the daily “Happy Hour”. We had a lot of catching up to do with everyone, it’s been about 3 years since we saw everyone. We also met some of our RV neighbors who were full timing with their kids, they hadn’t found the different discount camping places, or the apps to find camping and the cheapest gas so we wrote everything down for them. A day later we met a second couple and did the same for them. We love to share the resources.

The Bourbon, everyone wants the bottle!

We all went to Ritchie’s Diner in Temecula for lunch and it was really good. Later there was an auction to support the CARE facility in Livingston TX. Those who wanted to donated wrapped gifts worth between $50 and $100 then we all bid on them but didn’t know what was in the packages. I lucked out and won a large fancy bottle of Willets Kentucky Bourbon. Best of all we raised about $1000 !The week just flew by.

Ritchie's for lunch.

We moved south to the Thousand Trails (TT) Pio Pico park near Jamul. Not one of our favorite places but as we have to pay TT annual dues and we didn’t use them even one time last year, we need to make maximum use of their parks this year to break even. I’ve said plenty of things (Usually bad) about Pio Pico so I won’t repeat myself!

Pio Pico

We called our friends Gene and Annette Stout and got invited to join them at the El Cajon Elks on Saturday for the Taco Lunch. When we got there the half of the Shanty Shakers who weren’t at Pechanga were there at the Elks! It was like another rally. In the evening we went round to Ken and Gloria’s for Kens tasty Smoked Pork and to hang out with Mike, Dana, Fey, and Tammy and catch up with all the shipyard and motorcycle news. 

Plans were made and re-made but life happens and we move on. This gave us a chance to visit some of our old haunts like Torrey Pines. Barbara worked across the road at UCSD and I flew paragliders there for a couple of years. Not much has changed there, it’s still a very tranquil place.

Torrey Pines paragliders

Less tranquil but still a fun place has been Shakespeare's Pub down on India Street near the airport. This has been the scene of many office and personal parties and still has the best Fish and Chips in San Diego. We sneaked in for lunch the day before we had a reunion of the old crowd there, more happy memories!

We strolled thru the area called Seaport Village and were pleased to see it has been tidied up since the last time we visited as it had become pretty run down.

The Star of India on the Embarcadero

I’m out of practice writing the blog and clean forgot to take pictures of the reunion! It was amazing. I am proud to say that our colleagues are also our friends and a bunch of them showed up! Barbara, Travis, Dean, Amin, Marcos, Carlos, Steve and Eric amongst many. Thanks so much.  I didn’t know which way to turn there were so many conversations going on! I hope nobody thought I was ignoring them. Everyone wanted to talk about our adventures and where we were going next. By the time we left I thought it was around 7pm, but when we got back to the rig it was 10.30pm!

Breakfast with the Shanty Shakers was followed by dinner with our ex neighbors and good friends Jason Ruby, Mike and Cathy and their kids Molly, Angus, and Sienna. How great to see everyone again.

Barbara and I with Mike Cathy, Jason, Ruby and Sienna, Molly and Angus
We squeezed in a couple of trips to our favorite places Balboa Park, Old Town, Seaport Village, The Embarcadero, Mount Soledad and Coronado.

Balboa Park Arboretum

Gene and Annette took us to their favorite lunch spot, The Junction in El Cajon. Ken and Gloria had us over again to work on the Edge to fix the lighting socket and more food.

And suddenly 3 weeks had gone by!

Thanks EVERYONE for a great time.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

2021 here we come!


The time to pack up and leave has suddenly arrived. Barbara’s doctors appointments have been done and she has been told she is fine. More appointments in October to check so we can get going.

We had planned on stopping in San Diego for a couple of weeks and now an RV Rally has popped up so 2 weeks has turned into 3, with stops in Yuma along the way. We plan on reaching Maine this summer and naturally that brought up the thought of yummy lobsters, which in turn brought up thoughts of Lobster Fests and Lobster Rally’s so we made reservations for those too in August.

The rig needs the usual maintenance doing before we set off, so tires, slide seals, slide mechanisms, jacks, hoses, water tank flushing and a dozen other small tasks had to be done.

The new tow car a 2014 Ford Edge

We have a “New” to us car, a 2014 Ford Edge SUV which had already been set up for towing but the tow bar mechanicals and electrical needed getting revised and tested. When we plugged in the car we got no lights. The rig and the car individually had lights but nothing in the tow mode when the signals, brakes and running lights come thru an “Umbilical” from the rig to the car.

Inside the umbilical cord for the Edge

I bought a tester which showed no power to the plug and I had no idea where to start looking on the coach. Fortunately there is a Monaco Owners web page and someone there steered me to the power distribution box at the rear of the rig where I found 3 blown fuses. I’m pretty sure that was as a result of the umbilical getting pinched by the tow bar late last year, which may have caused an internal short. We always carry a spare so that should sort things out. That unfortunately didn’t fix all the problems as the Edge has a system that charges the car battery as it is being towed. This takes 6 wires and the existing umbilical has only 4. The local Tractor Supply store had a premade umbilical which I cheerily wired the car plug too. We decided on a test run before we left . The darned wire was 12” too short! As a temporary measure we used a good on from the Miata.

This was getting frustrating as no we only had one working turn signal and no brake lights. Worse the car was locked in park and I had no idea why. The owners manual (Always read the manual) showed a brake /transmission interlock that could be manually reset in an emergency. We got it to the Ford dealer and they found a blown fuse.

We eventually got to a NAPA Auto Parts store and they had some 7 conductor wire which let me make up 2 new umbilicals. One more do over when I found the wiring diagram I was working from was wrong (!!**!!^&*!) and we had working lights and a charging system.

The rig is super shiny after getting washed and waxed in the park by a mobile cleaning company we like. We have got the inside dusty carrying in all the stuff that we took to the Park Model last year. It all has to go back again and get re-stowed.

We rented the rig out to some friends who had sold the 5th wheel they owned before being able to move into a house they are having built here. So they had it for 6 weeks. They gave us all their stuff for hooking it up to the water and sewer, so now we have 3 water hoses, 5 sewer hoses and about 4 TV coax cables! We are glad we could help them out nd they took great care of the rig. Thanks Brian and Ruth!

Apart from working on the rig we have of course been hanging out with our friends and we figured out that lots of us had birthdays in April, May and June and Paul had his 80th soon. That got me to thinking (Always dangerous) and I came up with the idea of a “Progressive” birthday party. For our UK readers who may not be familiar with this here’s how it works.

Our back yard is just made for parties!

Usually its a Progressive Dinner in a neighborhood where several families get together. One family has starters at their house then each family hosts a different part of the dinner and you “Progress” from one house to the next until you are done.

Jim and Lani volunteered breakfast and we all brought omelet ingredients that got put in an freezer bag then dropped into boiling water to cook it. Coffee and Mimosa’s too!

Next Dennis and Staranne had Corn Hole (Beanbag toss in UK) but we were all so full of breakfast we just sat in the shade and chatted.

Ed and Ruthanne hosted lunch and laid on a fine spread of salad and sandwiches

Karen and Paul had Margarita's for everyone to celebrate Paul’s 8oth.

Barbara and I had the back yard set up and the grille hot for burgers and Brats and my cooler was soon emptied of the Black Butte Porter and Negro Modello beer I had in it.

We all staggered over to Carols for Ice Cream and by the time we left at 9pm we had all been partying for 11 hours!!

The girls table

Everyone had a great time but we were all exhausted after,

Nice surprise from Mike and Marci

We were recovering from that when we got a surprise call from Shanty Shaker friends Mike and Marci Parker who were at that minute heading towards Casa Grande. What a great surprise! We love surprising people and being surprised by others. Marci was worried we would be too busy to want to see them, Ha!

Draft Negro Modello to celebrate

We took them on a tour of the park, then of Casa Grande and ended at our favorite Mexican Restaurant Taco Giro. We talked for ever. They are fulltimers too and spent a whole summer touring Europe and Russia. All to soon it was time for them to leave. Great to see you.

Then it was time for us to leave too and we headed west to Yuma.

Much as I dislike Thousand Trails we did pay our dues again this year even though we never used them once last year and they didn’t offer a refund or discount on the membership of the extra “Trails Collection” we bought just before the pandemic hit. During the phone call they asked if I wanted to renew the Trails Collection again and I got hot under the collar that they wanted more money when we never got to use it last year. I must have said the right words because they gave it to us free this year!

So we found ourselves in the Foothills Village Encore RV Resort for 4 free nights. Not a very good park being right next to the Interstate and all gravel which makes it dusty. It has some pretty short and narrow spots too but we were put in a wider one due to the snowbird season being over and the park all but deserted.

Back on the road and the Edge finds some good beer.

Yuma has become one of our favorite spots and we hit some familiar places like the Elks Lodge, Prison Hill Brewing Company, Da Boys Pizza, Wally’s World (A great place to shop for RV knickknacks and junk) and the RV Superstore.

A new place was the Cloud Museum just 20 miles away in Winterhaven CA which boasts of the largest collection of Model T cars in the world. I don’t know if its true but they had a bunch. Unfortunately they were closed for the summer season but we got to walk around and peek thru the gate.

The Cloud Mueum boasts the most model T's in the world

A quick trip across the border into Mexico for lunch and a few bottles of tequila was fun.

Algadones Mexico and El Paradiso for Lunch

Dinners and lunches at our favorite places, shopping that’s what we come to Yuma for and gets us into the right frame of mind for the rest of the year.