Friday, September 14, 2018

Getting Out of Harm's Way

We arrived back Virginia Beach on Sunday afternoon.  We got set up at the Ocean Pines military campground and then went over to see the kids.  Jon and Kelly and the boys were returning from a long weekend at the lake and they arrived in the late afternoon.

Wow!  We were gone 9 weeks and those little boys have changed so much!  They talk more and engage even more.  It is amazing.  We got to play with them on Sunday afternoon and then go see them all day Monday.

But the hurricane was building up and we had to come up with an evacuation plan of our own.  We called around and decided the best escape route was north to the D.C. area.  We called ahead to the Greenville Farm Campground in Haymarket, VA.
The D.C. area doesn't have too many great options for RVing (great meaning affordable, great campground and close to the city), but we've stay there and were able to snag a reservation.  We are about 30 minutes away from Fairfax and about 45 minutes from downtown D.C.

The weather reports were looking grim and the military campground had warned us we may have to evacuate.  We didn't wait for them to make up their mind and departed on Tuesday morning.  The drive to Fredericksburg on I-95 and then over to Highway 17 to Haymarket was actually a pleasant drive.  We expected heavier traffic but it was very manageable.

We got to the campground and were told we'd have to spend a night in partial hookups, then could move to full hookups.  So that is what we did.

Partial hookups were water and 30 amp service in the woods.  That meant no TV but we survived.
The next day moved to our more open site with full-hookups and our DirecTV had no problems connecting.

While here, we contacted friends Jeff and Tiffany.  Jeff and I met with a few of his other buddies on Tuesday night while Pam and Tiffany watched a Nationals baseball game and got caught up.  We are going to be able to spend some time tomorrow with son Adam and daughter-in-law Melissa (who live in Fairfax) and are looking forward to that!

We are glad the hurricane did not continue on its initial projected path and are safe.  Jon and Kelly in Virginia Beach got the all clear word earlier this evening.  They were never in an evacuation zone but parts of the city were.

Our prayers continue for the people in its path.  Even though the initial contact with landfall has been less than expected, there has still been plenty of devastation and it is not over yet.

I hope you and yours are safe!

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Mooch-Docking at Bob and Patty's

Now and then, you meet people in Moss Point, Mississippi that become friends. Before you know it, you reconnect years later in Dunedin, FL and end up parking your motorhome in their driveway for a couple of days.

That's basically what happened with us and our friends Bob and Patty.  We first met volunteering at a NOMADS Disaster Relief site in January 2011.  And then we met up again in Florida in January 2012.   A few months ago, after we posted our travel schedule for our NorthEast Trip, Patty got in touch and we made a plan to see them.  They live in Warren, PA and we could not find a campground close by.  They were generous enough to invite us to park on their property.  So we did!
 I first heard the term "mooch-docking" used by Howard Payne of RV-Dreams.com

We arrived in the early afternoon at Bob and Patty's and got set up.  They have enough room along side and in front of the workshop for us to maneuver a little bit.  That allowed us to get a good satellite TV signal.  With electric and water, we were all settled in.  Once that was done, we wandered over to their home and got a tour.  Patty keeps their very large A-frame Spic and Span clean.  It is immaculate!  They have a beautiful A-Frame that Bob built years ago.  But it looks like is less than five years old.  It's really a nice place.

We enjoyed hours on their deck reminiscing and hearing about their stories on the road.  They full-timed for over 8 years.
The next day, they took us on a tour to see the area.  We stopped first at Kinzua Viaduct (or Kinzua Bridge) that spanned Kinzua Creek and was 301 feet high and over 2,000 ft long.
It was built in 1882 to move coal from the mines to northern NY cities on the more popular railroad line.  It was originally built out of wrought iron and completed in 94 days and dubbed the "Eight Wonder of the World" at the time.  In 1900, it was disassembled and rebuilt using steel to carry heavy trains and cargo over the deep divide.

Tragedy struck in 2003 when a tornado struck and wreaked havoc. Ironically, the bridge was in the process of being upgraded in 2002 because it was showing wear.  They just didn't get the job done in time.

The bridge is owned by the State now and is a popular park with a good sized new Visitor Center.
It has a description of the history and decline of the bridge leading up to the destructive tornado.  An overlook is where the old train tracks were, going out to the farthest point.
Next, we headed to a local spot for lunch.  It had some interesting displays on the wall.
We had more time and made a couple more stops.  The first one was at Kinzua Dam.  Many times we see places and have no idea what the name means.  I assumed "Kinzua" was an Indian name but more than that, it is Seneca for "Place of many big fishes".
Our next stop was Rimrock which had a pretty great view overlooking the Allegheny Reservoir.
After our full day, we went back to Bob and Patty's place and chilled out for a while.  We had such a big lunch, we only had some snacks in the evening.  We had a great time on their back porch again enjoying one another's company and talking.  It was a beautiful evening and after a brief shower, it was quiet in the woods and we could only hear the birds, watch the deer and talk.

Our time with Bob and Patty was too brief, but we were able to make it count in our short visit with them.   We look forward to seeing our friends again.  We are so glad this lifestyle allows us to catch up with folks like these.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!














Saturday, September 1, 2018

Time in Buffalo with Jon and Barbara

We are in the Buffalo NY area to see long-time friends Barbara and Jon.  We attended the same church while living in Hawaii in the 1980's.  We've been in touch ever since.  This was our third visit to their wonderful home and hometown over the years.

We started it off with a visit to the tennis courts where they have a weekly pickleball game.  Jon brings the nets and sets them up according to how many are there to play.  Tuesday night we had 7-8 folks and we had one net.  That worked out well so people could swap out and get a breather after their match.
It was great fun.  I had forgotten a lot of what I learned in Arizona when I started playing.  But it was good exercise, good company, and I loved it.  It helped to have a good group of folks who coached me through the scoring, strategy and Jon even gave me some 1-on-1 time doing some drills on another court.

We stayed at Darien Lakes State Park which was about 30 minutes from them.  It worked out well. On Wednesday, we all drove in to Buffalo and then over to Niagra Falls.  It was a very hot day.  We parked on the NY side and walked across the bridge to the Canada side.
It is such an iconic view from the bridge. And the views along the falls from the Canada side were equally beautiful.
We walked all the way up to Horseshoe Falls before turning around and finding a place for lunch.
We ended up at Hard Rock Cafe and enjoyed the air conditioning.

Next, we walked back to the U.S. side and then drove over to a new and trendy area near downtown Buffalo called River Walk.
It's an area off the river where old silos and warehouses along the waterfront have appealing places to play and eat.  There is a hockey rink, kayak rentals, paddle boats, rock climbing, zip lines and a large brewery.
It is great to see how areas of town that were past their prime have been revitalized and now are a hub of activity.

We returned to their home for a nice time of conversation leading to dinner.  It rained pretty hard for a few minutes but Jon was able to get the shish kabobs on the grill and we enjoyed a great time together.

On Thursday, we returned and ventured downtown again to see the Teddy Roosevelt Inauguration Site.  This National Park Service stop is where TR took the oath of office to become president of the United States.
President William McKinley was in Buffalo attending the Pan American Exposition.  A 28 year-old anarchist shot McKinley twice.  Doctors removed one bullet but were unable to locate the second one.  That proved deadly a week later when gangrene set in and caused his body to shut down.

Roosevelt was summoned and arrived after he passed away.  TR took the oath of office in the Wilcox home which is where he was staying.  That building is the site of the present National Park Service commemoration of the inauguration.  

We learned a lot.  I either didn't know or forgot (same thing?) how TR became our 26th president.  And I had almost no knowledge of the Pam American Exposition.  And I really knew very little about the impact of the Eerie Canal and development of Buffalo as an economic powerhouse in the late 1890's.

The Historic Site had a lot of great displays and interactive informational presentations.  In the first room, we watched a short video that gave the history of Buffalo and the Pam American Exposition which was attended by McKinley and six cabinet members.  It was a marquee event showing off the technological wonders of the present day.
Upstairs, there was a multimedia presentation using recordings and pictures that reminded Pam and I of the cycle-rama at Gettysburg.
There, it was a mural in the round which was the backdrop for stories off the Civil War.  As a story was told, a spot light homed in on a portion of the mural and told the significant story about that piece of history.

At the inaugural site, there were a number photos behind a glass pane that were highlighted as the story was told.  It was very unique and a great way to make it all interesting.

After our time at the Inaugural Site, we went to lunch downtown at one of the craft breweries.  Next, we drove out to the cemetery at Forest Lawn where president Millard Fillmore is buried.
We looked around the beautiful grounds before going over to the Buffalo History Museum.

It resides in one of the few remaining buildings from the Pan American Exposition built in the Renaissance Spanish architectural style.  It was a beautiful building with lots of displays.


I liked the one of Tim Russert who was from Buffalo.  The exhibit was in the Newseum for and has recently been returned to this museum in Buffalo.  He was a long-time host of "Meet the Press".
 It was also next to exhibits of sports figures that were from Buffalo or played for a Buffalo team.
 Jim Kelly's jersey from his time with the Buffalo Bills and a signed baseball from Warren Spahn.
The museum had three floor of displays which we wandered through.  The museum was getting ready to host an event for the evening.  It was time to go and we had seen a lot in the couple of days we were in Buffalo.

The special part of our visit was spending it with Jon and Barbara.  It another great memory we have on the Roadrunner Chronicles.

Thanks for joining us!








Thursday, August 23, 2018

Tooting Your Own Horn

Sometimes you can't help it.  It just happens and before you know it, you are tooting your own horn.  I've thought about the whole idea many times and usually it is not a good idea.  Or at least the best option if you have a choice.

I know what you are thinking...

Or at least I think I do.

But there we were, moving down the highway in Massachusetts, heading west toward Albany.  We were on I-90 had been passed by a couple of long I-beams being escorted with flag cars and State Police.  It was about 1:00 PM and we were cruising at about 62 mph with the Speed Limit posted at 65.  All was well.

We caught up to an I-beam convoy (the I-beams looked like bridge or overpass replacements) that was in the left lane.  The more I thought about it, the more it made sense.  For some reason, the left lane looked like it was a little wider than the right, and merging traffic was less likely to impact their movement.

So there we were, and we approached the last State Police car.  We were about to go even with him and our calm setting developed into a bit of a crisis.

Our air horn went off!

Yikes!

Talk about being a little un-nerving!  I thought maybe I was a bit too casual in my driving and had lapsed into a fog and let my elbow rest on the horn.  Nope!

Wow!  I was thinking, that was rude!  Oh wait...it IS still rude--- this is not over!  I pounded the horn (the space in the middle of the drivers wheel) to get it to turn off, thinking it was stuck.  --- Nope!

It continued to blare away and I was passing the State Police and escort car on the left.  Hmm--need some quick thinking here...

Nothing came to mind-- no such help at the moment.  I pounded and lifted, cajoled and nothing-- it was still screaming away.  Hmm---

Next thought I had was to put on the flashers so the convoy on the left (that I-beam seemed as if it was 100 yards long)  might be able to figure out this was not what I intended.  I didn't mean to be honking at them.  There was no one in front on me and a quick check on the mirrors revealed quite a few vehicles behind me...

Oh great!  Nothing like a little pressure!!

What was causing this??!!!

I was quickly out of ideas of what to do, and about that time (we were probably into minute 2 of this little adventure...) Pam got out of her seat and reached over me to flip the switch on the driver side console (the row of switches including one that said "HORN").

That complicated things.   Now, I couldn't see much as I was driving down the highway.  Oh man!  I calmly told her, (I wish) that I could not see very well and that I had already checked to see if the switch was the culprit.

It was not.  

Yikes!  By now we about mid-way along the right side of the I-beam convoy.  With flashers going and no satisfaction in pounding the horn, or flicking the HORN switch, I decided to speed up and pass everyone.  That way people could move around us.

As I went passed the front of the convoy on the left, the State Police car at the head of them slowed down, thinking ...  ?  who knows what he was thinking?  Meanwhile, I was beginning to surmise this horn was going to blast away forever.  On to plan B.  Or C, or where ever we were in this daytime nightmare...

Thankfully, there was no smoke or fire or any other safety issues that we could see.  Except for the fact there was no shoulder on the road where we could pull off.  By now, we were probably into minute 3 or 4 and we looked for an exit.   We found one a little over a mile away.

Gladly we took it.  My mind was a bit flustered so-to-speak and I was thinking maybe we could find a fuse to pull and turn the thing off.  Hmm,  next question was where was the fuse for the horn?

Meanwhile, the horn was not giving up.  It continued to blare and blast! Oh man...

About 100 yards from the exit, we came to a stop and turned right.  We saw a T-intersection with a turnout about 200 - 300 yards up the road were we pulled off and parked.  I double checked the "HORN" switch on the console again, and I pounded the wheel again hoping it was stuck or something.  No help.

Wow!  The horn was really loud and a bit annoying.  Did you know how badly a loud horn interrupts one's piece of mind and ability to trouble-shoot/execute analytical thinking?

Man - OK, let's see, there is a bay door underneath the driver's seat I could unlock and take a look at. Maybe there was a fuse there that had something to do with the horn.  I opened her up, we both took a look.  No help.  Nothing labeled anything that related to the horn.

We knew there was a fuse box under the middle console, hidden on the floor under the two drawers.  We took those out, shined the flashlight (that horn was really irritating by now and we were a bit on edge) and could see the scheme of things on the inside of the fuse box cover.
Sure enough there was one labeled "HORN".  Yay!  Maybe success was just around the corner... I had gotten a pair of needle nose pliers from the car and Pam pulled the fuse.

No cigar.

What??

Maybe we got the wrong one? ... check and double check... No, that was the correct one.  She tried pulling and replacing a couple other ones with similar results.

WOW!  This is not going well!

Last resort was to call the Tiffin Service Desk.  I semi-calmly (we were probably into 10 minutes of this deal at that point), spoke to the lady on the other end of the phone and she politely asked if I needed the Parts Department? or Service Department?  I asked her, "Can you hear that horn blaring away??--It is stuck in the on position and I need to speak with a tech in Service please"!

Next, there was complete silence on the phone.  After about thirty seconds, the recording said, "There are four calls ahead of you".  Oh my.  I put the phone on speaker and we waited.  A couple of minutes later, the recording said, "There are two calls ahead of you...".

We waited about four minutes and Jonathan answered.

I asked him if he could hear the blaring horn, Yes, -- yes he could.  I may have been projecting a little concern or something there, but I distinctly noticed a difference in his tone of voice as he tried to help.  He asked what year make and model of the coach.  Then he said, "Wait a minute, while I pull up the diagram for your coach".

Yikes, this was going to take some time.  The air horn was still blasting away.  Then things changed.  There was a motor sound or something, but the air horn quit.  To my surprise, the regular horn was working fine and was blasting away.  I flipped the "HORN" switch on driver side console again.  No change.

Now we had a new concern.  We noticed a bit of a 'hot' smell and the motor was whining away against the backdrop of the horn going off.  I was hoping we weren't progressing toward more serious issues...

Jonathan got what he needed and came back on the line, then told us to pull the fuse.

Check.  Did that.  Horn still blasting.

Hmm, he said, "Well I guess the only thing you could do is pull the wiring".   Sounds good to me!  I asked him how I do that?

He said, pop the generator toggle switch under the front driver side bay door (where we had just been), pull out the generator as far as it will go.  Next,  look on the firewall for something that looks like a horn.

Pam reached inside with the flashlight, found the horn,  saw a wire leading to it with a white plastic connection piece in the black plastic housing, unhooked it and SUCCESS!

Our nightmare was over!  Phew!  We pushed the generator back in and secured it.  We locked the bay door and went back inside, put the cover on the fuse box, and put the two drawers back in.

Wow!  Another bizarre and strange deal in the life of an RVer!  Still don't know what may have caused the horn to go off.  Pam was speculating, maybe some of the rain we had been going through earlier in the day had caused a short in the system?  Don't know.  We've been through a lot more rain and that never happened.

We waited for things to calm down some and then continued on our way.  One more item to add to our repair list.  And to add to our list of adventures.  We drove through the little town at our exit to find an access point to I-90 and had no further incidents.  That was enough for one day!

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!



Saturday, August 18, 2018

Cadillac Mountain and a Carriage Road Hike

Cadillac Mountain is a 'must see' in Acadia National Park.
Six years ago when we visited we took it the spectacular view from atop Cadillac Mountain.  And we did it again.   We heard this was the first day it wasn't completely overcast.  It still was a bit hazy, but breath-taking anyway.

The small islands in the distance are the 'porcupines'.  A Park Ranger said years ago, the French ships would hide behind and get the jump on approaching British ships.
We left our campground about 7:30 AM and got to the top of the mountain a little after 8:00 AM.  It wasn't too crowded yet and it was easy to find a parking place.
By the time we left, the parking lot was almost full and there were busloads of people taking a look.  Best to go early if you can.

 I always like an orientation map and here is one from the National Park Service:
You can see Cadillac Mountain in the center of the map.  We are camped in Ellsworth that is about 15 miles away (beyond the top of the map).  Cadillac Mountain is in the heart of the Mount Desert Island, Maine's largest and the sixth largest island in the contagious U.S.
The view showed Frenchman's Bay and we could see over to Schoodic Peninsula and more of Acadia National Park.
After our time on the mountain, we ventured down to Eagle Lake and hiked on one of the many Carriage Road trails throughout Acadia.

The Carriage Roads were one of the contributions made by the oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller, Jr.  He bought a home in the Seal Harbor area and spent summers here.  After the national park was established he decided (along with other wealthy people) to buy property and donate it to the park.  He also got wind of the harmful effects of the gasoline powered automobiles and envisioned a system of horse drawn carriage roads throughout the park.  Years later over 57 miles of roads were built under his watchful eye.

Today those Carriage Roads are used by hikers, bikers and a small portion is available for Park-run Carriage Rides.

The parking lot at Eagle Lake is very small so we parked along the side of the road with many others.
We made our way over to the trail head at the corner of the lake and saw about 20-25 high schoolers with their shirts off.  They were from Vermont and had just completed a 10-mile run
After we passed them we started out on our hike and went counter-clock wise around the lake.  We opted for the easy walk with the gradual inclines.
It was mile after mile of walking through beautiful woods next to the lake.  Not exactly sure when this particular Carriage Road was built but it was perfect.  Back in the 1920's or 1930's there may have been fewer trees on the shoreline so we didn't have a lake view the whole walk.
But there were quite a few observation points where we could peak through the trees or step off the road and see some great views.
We started about 10:15 AM so the road wasn't too crowded yet.  There was some steady traffic but plenty of room for everyone.  We say quite a few runners, lots of hikers, and lots and lots of people on bikes.  It was great to see how many families and youngsters were out on the trail.
We went about halfway around the lake and decided to turn around instead of taking on the more difficult west side of the lake Carriage Road.  We saw a space off the trail for a picnic and spent some time enjoying the view.
I figure after our hike on the Carriage Roads, we only have about 54 miles more to go before we see them all.  Doubt that will happen but they are about the best way we know to get in a walk and to have a beautiful walk in the woods.  We love this place!

Thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles!