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!


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 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.


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!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

The Lobster Capital of Maine - Stonington

We spent the day over at Stonington, ME.  It took about an hour to get over there from our Forest Ridge Campground in Ellsworth, ME, on some smaller county and state roads.

It was foggy much of the day but we had glimpses of some interesting things.

First we came upon a Produce Market and had to stop.
There were a mix of crafts and produce on display.
I stopped for a few moments and talked with the owners of the VW pickup truck who brought some produce to the market.
The guy in the green sweatshirt was the owner of the 1964 VW.  It had been completely restored and painted and had the nice canvas cover over the top.  It was a real beauty and had been in his family for a long time.  I asked how it did on the road and he said it could even get up to 50 mph!

Next, on to Stonington.
Our new friends Randy and Pat recommended the quaint little town and we found it to be a great day trip.  It immediately looked like a Maine fishing town.
There were boats in the harbor and a number of working warehouses in site on the water.

The town is small and we drove through it on Main Street before turning around and finding a parking place.  Parking is free so that was nice.  Just like most of the parking in Bar Harbor.

Our first order of business was to find a place for lunch.  We looked at this little row of cottages and the restaurant associated it.  But we went inside and waited for a table only to find out it was a private dining area for guest at these quaint cottages.  Yikes!

 The fog was rolling in and out and we opted for an inside restaurant on Main Street.
The bay window was a great place to see the bay, enjoy the meal and chat with some other vacationers in the restaurant.
The sights in town were another exclamation mark in our Northeast Trip.
 After lunch, we strolled down to the wharf and went to the Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries.
Here's what their website says about the mission and purpose:
Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries is a non-profit organization that works to secure a diversified fishing future for the communities of Eastern Maine and beyond. We do this by developing and implementing innovative programs that provide value for today’s fishermen and drive more sustainable management approaches for future fisheries. An essential component of our work is connecting the knowledge of fishermen, the findings of scientists, and the world of policy makers.

We talked with Sam, an intern from Iowa who showed us samples of some of the fish life on display.
We saw a purple lobster, crabs, mussels and some other sea creatures.
A manager at the facility said that the working warehouse in town were really busy and harvesting a lot lobster.  In 2017, they had a banner year with over 20,000,000 pounds of lobster in Stonington alone.  An average year is about that for the entire state of Maine.

It was a beautiful warm day and we really just walked around and enjoyed the small town feeling on the waterfront.  It was surprising to me that there was not a larger commercial advertising presence.  The only sign I saw that named the town as the biggest lobster port in Maine (and therefore the world?) was the small sign at the edge of town.

I suppose, to their credit, they liked the small town atmosphere and were willing to put up with the high traffic in the summer time, but at the same time they didn't want to bring in huge numbers of tourists and change the culture.

Before we left the area, we drove around the outskirts of town and saw some neat neighborhoods with little homes perched on the side of the hills for good views of the harbor.
We also came upon a large boat repair facility with a huge boat mover.
The whole contraption was being 'driven' by a guy who was walking behind it and operating it from a remote control joystick.  We don't see that every day!

We loved our time in Stonington.  It was a memorable day.
This definitely was a 'find' and a great way to spend the day.  Seeing Stonington was a bit of change from Bar Harbor and Acadia and a chance to see an interesting place.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!