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.