Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Visit to the Fire Station

Who doesn't like a visit to the fire department?  Especially if you know a fireman?

We are fortunate to know Reggie, who is the Fire Chief in Yorktown.  After our visit to colonial Yorktown, I got a text from Reggie who asked if we were still in Williamsburg and would like to come over and see where he worked.  Yes, we would!

We've known Reggie for 3-4 years.  He and his wife Melanie are friends of Kelly and Jon.  They have an 8 year old daughter and a 3 year old that is buddies with Brooks.  We see them when we are in Virginia Beach visiting.

I always enjoy it when I get to see the actual place where people work.  It is one of those interesting things about life.  Everyone makes a living somehow, in some place and its fun to put them together now and then.
We were about 20 minutes away and drove over to the Fire Station and met Reggie in his office.
He has done this before and reminded me of when I give people the "tour of the RV".  Reggie used to ride the firetrucks and be on the line, but as a Fire Chief now, he has his own EMS truck and rides to the scene in it.
The first part of the tour was the pointing out the Men's and Women's separate facilities and the common area where they spend a lot of their free time while on shift.  We caught Reggie and the team in the middle of one of their 24/7 shifts.

The next part of the tour was about the trucks and the equipment.  Each firetruck has a specific purpose and role.

This looks a bit cluttered but in fact, it is pre-arranged so the fireman manning this position on the truck can jump into his boots and suit in seconds.  The big unit is manned by four fireman.

This beast is the most impressive of them all.  I forget all the facts and figures of this but it can carry a lot of water.  It also has lines of hoses and then can pump water to the fire using a variety of sources.  Sometimes they get water from wherever they can including a swimming pool if necessary.
Whoever is manning the pump has a lot of responsibility.  This can get tricky making sure the right hose has the right amount of water to get the job done.

On the passenger side rear area is a compartment with a familiar set of tools which is commonly known as 'Jaws of Life'.  That is a brand name that became the generic label of a particular kind of equipment.
I believe he said this brand was made by Genesis.  It has hydraulics to aid the cutting and even has a portable motor to carry a pretty good distance from the road to free a victim.

Next, we looked at one of two ambulances they have ready to go.  He opened the back door and had me pull out the gurney and set it up outside the back of the truck.
It is all automatic.  Just press a couple of buttons, give it a tug, lock it in place and set it up, wheel it away.  Reducing the time it takes to get this in and out of the back end of the ambulance saves precious minutes in an emergency.

They have two different large 5th wheel trailers that haul all kinds of rescue and safety equipment to the scene.  It is pulled by this large truck.
 The side of the trailer opens with all kinds of equipment they can bring to bear on different situations.
It's a little sobering to think about how much the firemen need to know about some many different kinds of equipment.  Then, too, they have to keep in great physical shape and have to learn to deal with awful kinds of situations.  Those of us that don't, probably take them and their work a little too much for granted.
This is a good reminder of what real heroes look like.  Day-to-day they are regular looking folks.  But in an emergency, they are highly trained professionals that put it on the line every day.

It was a real privilege to see the fire station and get a private tour from Reggie.  And to get an inkling of what it is these folks do for us day after day in our communities.  And not only our communities, but sometimes they deploy to other places to join other teams.  Such was the case when Reggie deployed to Puerto Rico last year during their terrible hurricane.

That's it for today's Roadrunner Chronicles!  Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

A Bit of Yorktown History

Years ago, we visited Yorktown, but never visited the Colonial National Historical Park.  We picked a beautiful day and arrived about 30 minutes after it opened.
While we waited for the start of the 16-minute overview film of the Yorktown Historical site "The Siege at Yorktown".
Yorktown was established as a 50 acre plot of land designated in 1691 by an Act for Ports passed by the Virginia House of Burgess.  It had a customs house for the purposes of collecting taxes on shipments along the York River.

It had a population of about 1800 people by the early 1700's and with the primary cash crop of tobacco being grown and shipped out of the region.

Even before the colonial declaration of Independence in 1776, relations with Britain were locked in skirmishes of the Revolutionary War.  In 1780, French forces landed near Rhode Island to aid their American friends.  At sea, the French fleet blockaded the Chesapeake, depriving British forces an avenue of escape.

British General Cornwallis moved his army toward Yorktown to establish a naval base there. With a force of 8,300 men, he fortified the town and prepared for battle against the larger French and colonial forces near Williamsburg that was close to 17,000.

The allied forces began a nine-day round-the-clock bombardment of Yorktown pinning Corwallis and his army down with no escape.  Cornwallis requested a cease-fire to discuss surrender terms  and on October 19, 1781 he formally surrendered his army
We walked through the museum and then down to path to the area of old Yorktown.
The pathway made for an easy walk.  I like the detailed maps along the way.
About 500 yards down the path toward town, the Victory Monument.  With the defeat of Cornwallis, citizens immediately knew the significance of the event.  News reached the Continental Congress a few days later and on October 29, 1781 directed that a monument be erected.
In what may be the slowest construction plan in history, the cornerstone was not laid until October 1881.
As we continued on the walking tour, we passed the Nelson House.  Thomas Nelson Jr. was one of Yorktown's influential citizens.  He was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and owned this home that was built by his grandfather in about 1730.
We walked up the steps and onto the property and found a few shaded benches in the back of the house overlooking an active garden that was being tended by a volunteer.
It was time for lunch and had a picnic.  It's been fun to remember all the places we've packed a lunch and enjoyed the surroundings all over the country.  This simple pleasure has brought us great joy as we've been to different places and soaked in the history and surroundings. 
This home was built in the Georgian architecture style, named after the British kings by that name.
We wandered down the lane of old homes and taverns and walked over to the Yorktown Beach.  This was a surprise.
The Riverwalk Landing is nice little city park with public facilities and a shaded tree line with park benches.  It overlooks the wharf and the York River.

After some time at the Riverwalk Landing, we looked at the city map and found the nearest trolley stop to get back to the Visitor Center.  It was heating up and getting a little humid, but it was a great day in Yorktown.

We felt like we added a little more understanding of the early days in our country.

Thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

4th of July etc

After our short trip south to see friends near Charlotte NC, and to get some yearly maintenance done on the Roadrunner, we found a campground in the

spent the 4th of July camped in Newports News city RV Campground.  It was the closest campground to Virginia Beach under $40.  $36.04 in fact.  So, that was a plus.  We drove over to Kelly and Jon's place in plenty of time for the Thoroughgood neighborhood parade.

Kelly did a put some planning and decoration into the chariot the boys were going to be riding in.
The boys were ready to go and we were all decked out.
Brooks tried out his hat before he changed into his parade clothes.  The hat didn't last long so papa, the wagon-puller wore it.
The boys got loaded into the wagon at the drop off area.
Brooks stayed in the wagon for a few hundred yards, then was excited to see a pal of his riding his tricycle.  From that point on around the parade route Brooks ran ahead of his buddy on the trike.  Those little guys sure have a lot of energy.  Harrison had a more reasonable approach and enjoyed the proceedings from his seat in the wagon.

It was fun chatting with the parents of Brook's friend and taking the long walk around the big block.  It seemed as if families were gathered at every couple or three houses and they waved and talked as we walked by.  On group were sitting across the front lawn in their fold-up chairs and having a good time and had a giant jar of water set up.  They invited paraders to stop by and get a drink of water which was a nice thing to do.

About 100 folks stayed at the Thoroughgood House for the hot dogs and noon day meal/picnic.  We returned to Jon and Kelly's house.

The boys had a bug earlier in the weak but got over it fairly quickly.  Jon got up early that morning, put pork butts on the Big Green Egg and promptly went back to bed where he stayed all day long.  The time or two he emerged from the bedroom he didn't look too good.  Kelly started feeling poorly shortly after the boys went down for naps and then the bug hit her.  Pam and I were on our own when the boys woke up.  Gladly, it was no big deal, we just played with them and fixed dinner, read some books and put them to bed.

Kelly and Jon felt better on the 5th though not 100%.  They got better as the day progressed and Brad and Sue arrived a little after 4:00 PM.  Kelly lived with my brother Brad and wife Sue for a few months when she was looking for work as an Interior Designer about 10 years ago.   They were here in Virginia Beach five years ago for Jon and Kelly's wedding, and it was great to spend the evening with them.

We started with a tour of Goldmanor (Kelly's name for their house and property) and tried to convey the transformation that has happened since they got the property in October.  Brad is an architect (retired) so it was fun to talk about the house and the renovations.

We went inside and continued the conversations while dinner was being made.
We had broccoli salad, pulled pork (from Jon's two pork butts on the BGE the day before), cole slaw and finished it up with Key Lime pie.  After dinner Pam and I cleaned up the dishes while everyone went out front and enjoyed some more time together.  It was a long day for everyone so we left shortly after and drove back to our campground in Newport News.

Since Brad and Sue are also early risers, we decided to meet for breakfast in East Beach, just off North Shore drive at Sand Piper Cafe.  We had eaten there a few times before.  In fact the morning after the rehearsal dinner for Jon and Kelly, a large group of us had breakfast here.

Those selfies in the direct sunlight are tough
It was good to hear a little more of their vacation and road trip, specifically their time at the Biltmore and the Outer Banks.  Sue is due to retire any time, but she hasn't given an indication of when that might be.  She is a high school counselor and it gets real busy for her at different times of the year, especially near graduation.  She is the best at what she does, so her co-workers are dreading the day.  

They headed on down the road to the Duke/UNC area to visit those campuses.  She wanted to see Coach K, but reported back that he was not available...

Pam and I went back to the Roadrunner and things started to deteriorate.  We both started feeling puny with the bug that Kelly and Jon were plagued with.  Pam got the worst of it and was up often during the night.  On Saturday we pretty much just rested/slept and got over it.  Pam's lingered a bit but I was much better on Sunday.

I was able to keep a lunch appointment with Kris and Bill Osborne.  The are former full-time RVers that ended up in Williamsburg, VA.  They were on the road for four years and I they follow the Roadrunner Chronicles.
On Sunday,  I (Pam didn't want to take a chance and pass along the bug), sat down with them and got to know each other face-to-face.  That is one of those unique and fun things we get to do as bloggers and RVers - meet people who we've been friends with for some time.  If that makes sense.

It was a great time to get to know them better and hear about this chapter in their life in Williamsburg.  I think they love it here!  Bill is working in aviation again which is his passion.

The next morning, we got up bright and early, hoisted the jacks and were on the road a little before 6:00 AM heading toward Richmond for our 7:30 AM appointment with Cummins.  We arrived 15 minutes early and were met by the Service Manager and lead mechanic promptly at the appointed time.

We discussed the general maintenance they were going to be doing on the generator and explained the fuel issue on the generator.  We then left, got some breakfast and coffee and returned to the customer lounge.

The fuel issue was a fuel line filter (an extra added item by Tiffin).  The normal schedule of maintenance items was completed and everything was running great.  We left before noon and got back to our campground by 1:30 PM.
That gave us enough time to head over to Virginia Beach, have dinner with Jon and Kelly and the grandkids.  Jon and I went to a men's cohort meeting and Pam and I spent the night at their place.  Tuesday morning we returned to our campground and took it easy for the rest of the day.

Thats about all for this edition of the Roadrunner Chronicles!  Thanks for joining us!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Repaired and on to the Best Austrian Food in Years!

We finished up our appointment at the Freightliner Custom Chassis Repair Facility in Gaffney, SC on Monday at about 5:00 PM.  We had the standard M3 maintenance list plus we added a couple more items like dash air conditioner not blowing cold air.  We also had them check why our coach usually has a hard time starting after sitting for a few days.  We recently had a weird ABS light on the dash come on when we pulled the coach forward after fueling at the last truck stop, so we asked them to look at that too.  We had a Onan 7500 generator problem but they don't trouble shoot issues, they just do the maintenance on it.

I was hoping for a bill under $1000, but that was pretty unrealistic. Labor is $100/hour and they put two guys on it for six hours.  Pam was thinking it was going to be $2000 or more.  The bill ending up being almost $1842 which I thought was pretty reasonable.

You might ask, "What else did they do?"  Just for that possibility, I included pictures of the work orders and invoice which itemizes things:
Work order
 Invoice and notes
M3 Maintenance list
Battery test results
During the afternoon as we waited for them to finish, we were still thinking we'd travel that evening.
We were thinking we'd hop in the Roadrunner and drive three hours down the highway and stay at a campground along the way.

But the more we thought about it, we decided against that plan.  We had gotten up early and we didn't relish the idea of going through Charlotte rush-hour go-home traffic after a long day.  Instead we decided to go dinner somewhere decent and get a good nights rest.

We found an Austrian Restaurant in Spartanburg which was only about 25 minutes up I-85.  Except we hit the evening traffic going that direction and had a 30 minute slowdown.  We were surprised the traffic was that congested on a Monday afternoon.

Then we found out it wasn't usually like that.  We notice there were no cars coming in the opposite direction.
And this was why.  Somehow the truck driver had gotten himself sideways across the entire two lanes of traffic.  And he was seriously into a ditch, so there was no getting that guy out for a while.
We continued on to the restaurant and were in for a big treat.  Gerhard's Cafe is in a shopping center next to a grocery store, so we didn't know what to expect.  We were greatly surprised and pleased to find it was very authentic and the food was really really good.

When we got seated we looked around and there are a lot of memorabilia from Austria.  A lot of thought went into the cafe which could easily pass for a gasthaus.  The ambiance and decor was non-commercial.  The wood floors and ceiling timbers were authentic. You could image looking outside near the barn where the cows were being milked...

The cafe is a mix of fine dining in one section, casual dining, with a small bar and then a larger bar and pub in another area.  It also has outside dining but that was not an option because of the 90 degree weather.

We enjoyed the selection on the menu and ordered Weiner schnitzel and Cordon Bleu.  Pam and I lived in Germany for three great years (and our kids were born there) and loved the food.  And I liked the beer.  I got a draft beer which was delicious.  The glass said it was from the world's oldest brewery.  I don't know about that.

As I recall, dinner in Germany was an event of sorts and not something to be rushed.  Here too, we had plenty of time to enjoy the atmosphere and chatted with the waitress.  We learned that the owner and chef, Gerhard opened the place in 1993 and went back to the home country to bring back three containers full of memorabilia and artifacts.  No wonder the place looked and felt Austrian!
When the main courses were served they looked fantastic.  Schnitzel cooked to perfection with fried potatoes done the Austrian way.
And Pam's Cordon Bleu was equally appealing and delicious.  We had the best time enjoying that food!

We took a different route back to the Roadrunner that was still parked in the Service Center campground and returned in about 30 minutes.  It was the best German food we've had in the U.S. (technically Austrian - but who can tell the difference), ever!  It was a place I'd go back to in a minute.

Another great day on the road in the Roadrunner.  Thanks for joining us today!

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Gold.Dust.Every. Where.!

We pulled into Gaffney yesterday morning just before noon and had our pick of free customer campsites at the Freightliner Custom Chassis Repair Facility.
 We arrived in time for our Monday morning appointment.  We also had the chance to visit with Cindy who drove an hour to come over for the afternoon.  Cindy and I were in elementary and junior high and high school together so we go way back.  But we hadn't talked in 25 years.  It was good of her to track us down and check out the Roadrunner.

We had a memorable day in more ways than one.
She had just arrived about 3:00 PM.  We met Pam and we were getting out of the hot weather and seated in the coach.  I decided to turn the Passenger Side (PS) seat around and have it face back into the coach like we do when we have company or stay somewhere for a length of time.

Then the surprise...
I sat in the seat and pulled the lever to swing it around.  It had trouble going all the way around so I gave it a little shove.  Sometimes the seat belt or something gets tangled up.

Then I hear a pop and a loud SHSSSSSSSS,,,,,,shshshsh and gold powder smoke dust stuff started spewing all over.  It was coming from the floor on my left side and I quickly determined it was the fire extinguisher that was discharging!!!!


Don't panic came quickly to mind, but not much else.

This smoke and yellow dust was not stopping.  I put my hand down over the canister trying to find the 'OFF" button but of course there was none.  I tried covering my hand over the discharge but it still kept coming.  I jumped out of my seat and got down in the stairwell near the front door opening it but it was still filling up the coach.
Finally after what seemed to be 3 or 4 minutes (probably was closer to 30 seconds or less), I got hold of the extinguisher and removed it from its holder on the floor and tossed it outside.  By then it was mostly empty.
But our work had just started!  I tried to get the 'smoke' out side but with the door open, it just kept hovering and blowing back inside.  Pam jumped into action and shut off the air conditioner and she and Cindy opened up all the windows.
It was a mess!  We had dust everywhere!

I got a hand broom but every time I swept the gold dust (maybe the consistency of flour) it developed into a cloud and moved back into the coach.  Yuck.

I heard myself say a couple of times, "This is bizarre!! I have never heard of this happening!"  And it was a little confusing also as I am not exactly sure how it happened.  But at the moment we were getting rags and cleaning up the coach.

Little by little we made progress and I concentrated on the front while Pam and Cindy wiped down the back from the kitchen sink to the front.

I couldn't help but wonder if the discharge was toxic and maybe not too good to be inhaling.  Regardless we had a job to do and we had our heads down and were quickly getting all of the gold dust out.  Pam brought out the vacuum clean and I emptied it and cleaned the filter three times.

After our little exercise in team work and cleaning, we got 95% of it up and out of the coach! The other 5% will probably linger in nooks and crannies of the motor home for years!

That was bizarre, amazing, crazy, etc etc and another day in the life of a full-time RVer! How nuts was that! No one was hurt, we got cleaned up ok and got it taken care of pretty quickly.

One never knows what each day will bring in the life of the RVer.  And yesterday was no exception. We had a great visit from a friend from long ago and as she put it, "Some excitement that was a hoot!".

That's all for now on the Roadrunner Chronicles!  Thanks for joining us.