Sunday, August 16, 2015

Addison Arrival

Pleasant River Campground, Addison, ME 8-16-15

I wanted to get an early start much to EJ’s consternation as she had envisioned a more leisurely morning. I was determined to vacate our campsite at Mountain View RV Park by the 11AM deadline. I attempted to extend our stay by another day, but was told that our site had already been rented and we would have to move.

An interim move was what I was trying to avoid. The RV Park we were going to had told us we would have to park in overflow for one night before we could move into our permanent spot. If we stay here we have to move for the night too. Dang it, I only want to move once. No since in doing something twice if you don’t have to!

One more phone call to Pleasant River RV Park to let them know we’re willing to tough it out in their overflow spot. But wait, there is good news. They will let us have the permanent spot and move the other RV to overflow since they haven’t arrived yet. But, they caution, once we see the overflow spot we may not want to move.

Now the Pleasant River RV Park is a little different than any other park we’ve visited. The owners have elected to keep it very small, having only 6 rentable spots, and 4 trailers already set up that you can rent. Then there is the overflow spot you can only rent if none of the other sites are available. They don’t rent by the season as so many other campgrounds in the northeast do, but you can rent monthly all season long. (If you can get a reservation) Some folks have been coming here for years, so the chance of getting one of the prime spots is non-existent.

Pleasant River RV Park

We roll in at 12:30PM and we look around. No one is around so we wander the campground. The site that looks like it might be available for us would be OK. Apparently we interrupted the owners lunch and as they come out to greet us, they are still chewing their food. OK, we feel bad now.

They show us the spot they are holding for us and we hem and haw about. Then they show us the overflow spot, up high on a hill, next to their garden, trees to provide afternoon shade and with full hookups. Uh oh, this looks pretty good and we would have an nice view of the Pleasant River. OK, we’re hooked. We rent the overflow spot for a week.


We busily go about the business of getting hooked up and leveled. Next comes the true test, can the Dish satellite connect? There are a few shows we enjoy watching and we record them on our Dish DVR. That means we can watch them with it’s convenient for us and we don’t have to watch commercials.

I push the button and we wait while the rooftop dish whirls around and around trying to find those Dish satellites in the sky. finally after about 20 minutes I put it out of it’s misery and shut it down. Those nice shade trees are in the way!


During this time it’s about 80 degrees or better, and there is not a cloud in the sky. And it’s not getting any cooler.

Plan “B” is to drag out the old manual dish and try to get it elevated, skewed and “azimuthed” towards those 3 Dish Network satellites up above. Having not set it up in at least two years if not more, it’s a challenge to just to find all the parts since it has to be completely broken down to fit into the various little spaces available.

Finally all the big parts are located and the assembly process can begin. First the tripod has to be located in a spot where the southwest sky is obstruction free ( ie no trees or structures in the way). Then it has to be leveled. This part involves shims and metal stakes to hold it in place. Then the dish has to be attached to the LNB arm which is then attached to the tripod without screwing up the level. Then the satellite meter is attached to the LNB leads and you start swiveling the dish to try and get the meter to indicate it’s found a signal. After several false signals, I get out the instructions.

During this time, I’m sweating up a storm because I have to be in the sunlight where there is nothing interfering with the manual dish seeing the  southwest sky. EJ is bringing me ice water by the glassful and I am not about to admit defeat to pile of metal parts.

Perusing the instructions, I realize the manual dish is setup for more southern latitudes than where we are currently located. Just where were we the last time we used this thing?  So the upper part of the assembly has to be disassembled, set up for more northern latitudes and reassembled. By this time, I’m taking breaks and drinking more of that water EJ Keeps bringing me.

Finally, after 2 hours, we emerge victorious over the pile of what by this time, is almost scrap metal. The only reason, I tell myself, that we did this is because we are going to be here 7 days.

P1020260 I’m going inside. I’ve about used it all up for the day.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Erie, PA–Redux

Lampe Campground, Erie, PA – June 25 thru 29, 2015

We arrived at Lampe Municipal Campground and Marina midafternoon. It as still early enough after we got set up that we decided to run out to Presque Isle State Park which envelopes some of the shore of Lake Erie.

There we let a little of our inner child out and stuck our toes in the sands, skipped rocks on the water then chilled out and watched the sun set over the water.






While we were in Erie we sampled several breweries and found one worthy of filling our 49th State growler. It’s name? The Brewerie.


The Brewerie is located in the old train station. Another great example of repurposing buildings instead of building new ones. It also contains a great restaurant which we naturally had to sample along with their beers.


At the campground we chatted with the hosts who work very unique hours. The left the campground at 7AM and returned around 3PM. They handled no problems, enforced no rules but they would take your money to pay for the camping fee.

One day the warned us that they were vacating the campground because bad weather was coming. Supposedly 40-50MPH winds and lots of rain was forecast and the campground was right in the path. They were high tailing it and deserting the rest of us. We battened down the hatches and brought in the slides but the storm turned out to be a non-event.

Presque Isle has a great paved bike path so one day we took advantage of that.


I borrowed an aerial photograph from the web to show the shape of Presque Isle. The bike path runs the length of the Isle. In the War of 1812 Admiral Perry successfully defended the bay from the the attacking British. The obelisk in the first picture is a monument to Admiral Perry.


To add a little excitement to our lives, one of the lug nuts on the Element decided to take its leave. Hmmm, the last people that touched the lug nuts were the folks at Orange Park Honda back in Florida. I guess they forgot to use the big wrench.


A trip to the local Honda dealer fixed that. When we got back to the RV I tightened all the lug nuts, but I didn’t bring my big wrench either so we’ll hope for the best.

All of our critter sightings took place around the Marina. The Geese going out for an afternoon swim..


A pair of muskrats…


Some rabbits trying to be invisible..


And a Heron…


EJ caught me looking wistfully (she thought) at the boats in the marina. While I was remembering the good times we had in our boats, I am glad we no longer own one. Instead, we have friends with boats, which is much better.


This is the North Pier Lighthouse by the Coast Guard Station next to the campground. And yes, the CG Station still plays revile and taps over the loud speaker system every day.


This is the “Erie Land Light” also known as the Old Presque Isle Light. The lighthouse was originally constructed in 1818 becoming one of the first to be built by the United States on the Great Lakes. Due to poor soil conditions, it kept sinking and had to be rebuilt several times. It is now a small museum.


Hoping not to offend any readers, but our week in Erie left us with the impression that it is a tired old city. Lots of run down buildings, and shuttered businesses. Maybe it was the weather that made everything seem dreary. But this picture kind of sums it up.


And so the sun sets on our stay here in Erie. Next stop Warren, Pennsylvania.


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

New Stuff for Big Guy

Bradd and Halls, Elkhart, IN – June 18 through 22, 2015

We’ve been waiting for this day for over 2 months. We finally get rid of the last of the pleated blinds and our worn out driver’s and passenger’s seats. Those seats have over 100,000 miles on them plus all the butt time from sitting in them at camp sites.

This is the last time we’ll have to fool with these.


The morning of June 18, the big day is finally here. We wait in eager anticipation for the knock on the door letting us know they are ready to begin our project. We wait, and we wait, until finally Frank walks up to the office to see what’s going on. “Oh!”, they said, “We were waiting because some folks like to sleep in.” Having gotten our schedules synced, we pull Big Guy into the shop. Oh boy, Oh boy!


The new stuff, still in boxes is staged and ready to go.


The old chairs come out to transfer bases and cables to the new chairs.


Finally the installation is done and EJ gives her chair a trial run. We upgraded her chair so she now has a power seat and a power foot rest. I think it fits her just right. I can see it now, there goes my co-pilot!


Meanwhile the driver’s seat receives the Mocha seal of approval. In the background you can also see the new cockpit roller blinds.


While we were there a conundrum developed. I liken it to a situation we had in our Brunswick Georgia house years ago. EJ wanted her kitchen sink faucet replaced. The new faucet made the old sink look tacky. Then the new sink made the old counter top look bad. Next the new counter top made the cabinets look bad. The list goes on.

Back in the present, the new roller blinds, valances and captains chairs made our existing loveseat look old and tired. It so happened Bradd and Hall had a loveseat in the showroom that would fit. and the color would work with our interior.


We ended up agonizing over this for days. We even went to the furniture manufacturer since they were close by. In the end, we decided it was too plain and we wanted something a little jazzier. Like red!

Still camped at Bradd and Halls, after all they have 30 amp hookups, we took the opportunity to try and replace some other bits and pieces that had been bugging Frank.

The control panel for the HWH Leveling system was worn out and one of the buttons had gotten real obstinate. In the below image on the right, you can see that the switches have worn through the plastic panel.


Another item Frank wanted to replace was some of the window rubber trim that had mildewed. We’ve ordered replacements that Winnebago swore were the right ones, but they weren’t. We even went to Forest City Iowa, where Winnebagos are manufactured and they couldn’t match the trim. So here we are in Elkhart Indiana where the windows for the Winnebagos and Itascas are manufactured. It only made sense that going to the original source would be the answer. Wrong!! Even Atwood couldn’t match their own parts. I guess we are just obsolete. Here is a picture of the elusive part.


At the same time we were putting some miles on the Element trying to track down all the Quilt Gardens. These gardens are scattered around Elkhart, Goshen and Shipshewana. Planted by volunteers, each of these Quilt Gardens represent something special. The pictures can tell the rest of the story.


Another stop was the Old Bag Factory in Goshen, Indiana. Originally a producer of burlap bags for all sorts of commercial products, it is now home to a restaurant and many artisans. There’s even an antique store here.


We’ve been watching a TV series about Barn Wood Builders, a group of fellows that tear down and repurpose old log buildings. So this building at The Bag Factory naturally caught our eye.


And while EJ shopped, Frank patiently waited.


Uh oh! Busted!


In Goshen we checked out the downtown area and found out they used to have a gangster problem.


And yes, those are gun ports in each of the windows.


Along with the the garden quilts, there were also a number of painted quilts as well.


During our Elkhart stay there was a Jazz festival going on downtown.


In anticipation of the expected crowds, one entrepreneurial fellow had supplied the festival with a mobile hotspot. Guess they were expecting really big crowds.


While Bradd and Hall was graciously letting us camp out in their driveway and suck up their electricity, we checked out another business called RVTech. They renovate, modify, repair and fix RV’s. They say if you can dream it up, they can install it. While we were there we saw an RV that some guy had won in a Maxim magazine picture contest. This RV would definitely qualify as a beast. It was huge. They were installing a 60 foot tall retractable mast so this guy could pick up cellular signals. They were also installing a TV screen mounted on the back end of the RV that stretched all the way from the right edge to the left edge of the rear cap. If you have money, they can figure out how to spend it.

The owner of the business has this older Winnebago that he keeps modifying. It’s really neat!


Oh, I saw this when I was leaving the Iechyd Da brewery one afternoon. EJ didn’t see it so I’m glad I got a picture to really prove it did happen. A parade of golf carts wandering the streets of downtown Elkhart for no apparent reason. Maybe they had been to Iechyd Da as well!


Having mooched off of Bradd and Hall long enough, it’s time to move on. We are still looking for cool temperatures, so we decide to go visit Lake Erie.