Monthly Archives: October 2022

202210(11-17) – Accessory Building Update

[ Note:  This is an update post on the accessory building (barn) we had built while we were traveling in Eastern/Atlantic Canada and New England.  It is long, and contains 12 photos with captions. ]


TUESDAY 11 October

Our barn builder (Chuck) was due to come by today to meet with his insulation sub-contractor (Mike), and then meet with us.  He texted me mid-morning to let me know that he and Mike would be here at 11:30 AM.  Mike got here first, so I walked down to the barn and introduced myself.  Chuck showed up a few minutes later.  The three of us looked at the insulation part of the job, and discussed a few options.  When it sounded like we were all on the same page, I left them to discuss business.

The view of the SE corner of the barn, on a cloudy fall day, looking towards the NW from the existing driveway near the utility pole.

We were not insulating the entire barn (that would be a big/expensive job), but we were insulating the shop room on the main floor and the storage room above it.  The original plan was to spray foam the walls of both rooms with closed cell foam, and use blown-in insulation above the ceiling of the storeroom.  After talking it through, Chuck and Mike agreed that it made more sense to go ahead and spray foam the top side of the storeroom ceiling, which would have a layer of OSB on the underside anyway.  That would make the entire envelope for the two rooms really tight against air infiltration or leakage, so I was OK with that change.  (Note that the floor of the shop is concrete with 4” of foam insulation underneath.  The floor of the storeroom is plywood, and the joists are exposed and will not be insulated.)

Once Chuck and Mike were done, and Mike took off, Chuck, Linda and I walked the barn.  It was the first time since we left on our trip that we were able to talk to him face-to-face, and in the barn.  We had a few questions, which he answered, and there were a few details to discuss, which we did, and he gave us an approximate timeline to finish the job.

A closer view of the SE corner of the barn looking towards the NW.  The stairs to the storeroom are just visible through the large door for the smaller bay on the right.  The tall, narrow green trim on the side near the front of the building is the location of the electrical service entrance.

There was a modest list of smaller things that needed to be done, including removal of some of the OSB that currently enclosed part of the underside of the stairs to the storeroom (which my plans indicated should be open on both sides).  Most of the tasks should be completed by the end of October, but the job won’t be completely finished until the two large roll-up bay doors are installed sometime in November, the driveway and finish grading are completed, and the final inspections have taken place.  The driveway and grading work will happen as soon as Phil (Precision Grading) is available and the weather allows the work to be done properly.


Chuck indicated that the next building inspection might happen as soon as this coming Friday, but the storeroom ceiling had to be installed before the insulation could be installed.  The insulation will likely be installed early next week (if the storeroom ceiling is in), followed not too long after that by the electrician, who has to install the meter can, the 200A distribution panel, and one electrical outlet (per code).  The tunnels and diffusers for the four sun tunnels still have to be installed, along with three insulated entry doors:  The main entrance (between the two big bay doors) and the doors for the shop and storeroom.


WEDNESDAY 12 October

This view is of the entrance to the shop (main level) and the staircase going up to the storeroom, as seen from the east side (smaller RV bay).  The OSB enclosing the space under the stairs has been partially removed at my request.

The lead carpenter (Garrett, I think) and his two assistants were here today, so I walked down and introduced myself.  By the time I got to the barn, they had already installed the OSB ceiling in the storeroom, including the sun-tunnel and diffuser, and were working on cutting out the portion of the OSB on the sides below the staircase that I wanted removed.    I spite of having just the door opening (no windows) there was enough light to see clearly.  Artificially lighting will be needed, of course, but I was pleased with the effectiveness of the sun-tunnel/diffuser.  I only stayed a few minutes as they were clearly busy.  I texted Chuck to let him know they were here and that I had met them briefly.


THURSDAY 13 October

This view is of the entrance to the shop (main level) and the staircase going up to the storeroom, as seen from the west side (larger RV bay).  The OSB enclosing the space under the stairs has been partially removed at my request.  A small portion of the shop room is just visible through the door opening.

 Yesterday, I finally managed to get on the DTE website and locate the information I needed on the process/procedure for getting electrical power to the barn.  I had printed off the instructions and called one of the indicated numbers, but it was already after hours, so I had to wait until today to pursue this further.


After breakfast I made the call to DTE.  Actually, there were two phone numbers, one for commercial and one for residential.  I called the commercial number first, as that’s what the instructions seemed to indicate I needed  to do.  The voice menu made it fairly obvious that this number was for builders and I needed to call the residential number, so I did.

I spent about 15 – 20 minutes with Jennifer, the customer service representative, at the end of which time I had a work order number and a phone number for the service center.  She said to give them four business days to contact me, but to call them if I had not heard from them by then.  She reiterated the information in the website instructions:  I will have an initial phone call with a planning consultant and then do whatever I need to do as a result of that.  There will then be a site visit, after which we will have costs and then make decisions and service commitments.  Getting power to the barn is a big deal, and doing it in the best, but also most economical, way is important to the overall project, both in terms of  capability and cost.  There are really only two main options:  1) Have DTE run a cable to the barn from a transformer, or 2) Pull a cable from the house to the barn.  This second option does not involve DTE directly, unless we would need to upgrade the power to the house, which is likely.

This is a view of the 2nd story storeroom as seen through the door opening from the landing at the top of the stairs.  The two walls that are visible are the exterior walls of the barn.  Not obvious in this photo is that there is space between the wall studs and the exterior wall, eliminating any thermal bridging.  The white material on the walls is house wrap, and it extends around the two interior walls as well.  Besides providing a vapor barrier, the house wrap will prevent the spray foam insulation from contacting and adhering to the exterior siding.  The OSB ceiling has been installed along with the sun-tunnel and diffuser, which are nicely lighting the windowless space.

I think the most straight-forward approach would be to run power directly to the barn from the existing pole that feeds the house.  (This pole is actually closer to the barn connection point, at 88.5 feet, than it is to the house service entrance, at 95.5 feet.)  DTE might be able to piggyback off the existing transformer, install a larger transformer as a replacement for the current one and then piggyback the two feeds, or install a second transformer just for the barn.

Regardless of those options, which would be determined by DTE, we would end with a second meter.  Our neighbor has this exact setup, and the readings from the two meters are combined into a single residential rate bill.  The main disadvantage is that we would not have any backup power to the barn, at least initially, if the grid goes down.  That would be a major issue in terms of a heating system for the shop and storeroom, and more minor issue for the chargers that maintain the batteries in the bus and travel trailer.

The main advantage to pulling power from the house is that we have a 20 KW Kohler whole-house backup generator with grid-monitoring and an automatic-transfer switch.  One of the downsides, however, is that the closest straight-line distance between the house (garage) and barn is ~155 feet, and the required wire run could be 30 to 40 feet longer than that.  That’s a long run, and would require really large size wires in order to properly support the 240V/200A main distribution panel in the barn.  The other downside, which relates to the first, is that we already have a 240V/200A main distribution panel (for the house) and 240V/125A main distribution panel (for the garage and library).  I doubt that the existing service entrance cable from the transformer to the house is adequate for that total (525A) potential load.  Of course, some of the loads will be shifting location as I relocate the shop from the garage to the barn, and the reality is that we never draw anything close to 325A now.  And we never will, but everything has to be sized correctly to work safely as a system.  It’s going to be an interesting process, regardless of the final solution.


FRIDAY 14 October

This is the view from the landing at the top of the stairs to the storeroom, looking south toward the inside of the front of the barn.  The entry door is visible between the two larger bay door openings.  (The doors will not be available for installation until sometime in November, 2022).  The wall structure and headers over the large door openings are visible as are some of the roof trusses.  The trusses are set on a 24” spacing, and the bottom members of are 38’ long, spanning the 36’ width of the building with a 1’ overhang/soffit on each side.

Around breakfast time, I got a call back from Sharon in the DTE Northwest Planning office.  She confirmed that the work order for my service request had been created, and verified my information.  She followed that up with an e-mail giving me the name and contact information for the planning consultant (John) who will work with me.  She requested that I send/e-mail him a site plan and that it identify the location of the current electrical service (pole/transformer) and distances to the house (existing) and barn (new).

We were outside working on the trailer when a vehicle pulled in the driveway by the barn.  I suspected from the lettering on the doors that it was the Livingston County building inspector, who Chuck had indicated might be here this week, so I walked down and introduced myself.  He needed the approved plans for the building, which I did not have, but then he spotted the 2’ long piece of 4” plastic pipe with the rubber end caps, and surmised that the plans were probably in there.  I had picked up this tube on Monday when I saw it, but it was very light and I don’t recall opening it to see what was inside.  It was, indeed, the plans for the project, which were required to be on site at all times.


This is the view of the space under the stairs after some of the OSB has been removed from both sides.  Opening this up will allow me to keep rolling tool and parts carts here that I can easily move to the bus, trailer, or anything else I might have in the barn to work on.

I was helpful, to the extent I could be, but was careful not to say too much as I was not the builder and the permits were not issued to me.  The inspector was confused initially by a notation about a 12×42 something, until I explained that the building was sitting on 12”W x 42”D trenched concrete footing.  He then had a moments hesitation when he realized the 16’ tall 6×6 engineered posts did not extend below the surface of the concrete. (I think he was expecting this to be a pole barn.)  Again, based on my conversation with Chuck on Tuesday, I was able to explain the anchoring system used to secure the posts.  The only thing he found, and wrote up as a “deficiency,” was the lack of proper handrails on the stairs going up to the storeroom.  Deficiencies do not halt the project, but have to be taken care of before the final inspection.


I texted Chuck to let him know the inspector had been there and what he had cited.  Chuck called me back to discuss handrail options and we agreed on a straight wooden handrail with a gripable profile that could be applied to the top of the 2×4 cap that is already in place.


SATURDAY 15 October

Here’s another view of the space under the stairs as seen from the smaller/east RV bay near the shop and looking ~WSW.  A small portion of the low end of the staircase is still enclosed down to the floor to provide additional vertical strength (to prevent sagging and bouncing) and prevent any side-to-side motion.  The OSB on the sides is attached to 2×4 studs sitting on base plates that are anchored to the concrete floor.  I have been up and down this staircase several times, and it is very solid under foot.

My existing site plan for the barn project did not include the existing utility pole location, or distances to the house and barn service entrance points, that DTE needed, so I spent part of the day modifying my QCAD drawing to include those features.  Although I had determined the location and this pole, and the approximate distances involved, on more than one occasion, I was unable to immediately put my hands on that information.  It was thus easier, and less time consuming, at that point to get my 100’ tape measure and a stake, and just measure it again.

The distance to the service entrance point near the southeast corner of the barn was ~88’6” and the distance to the house service entrance point (southwest corner of the garage) was ~95’6”.  I had previously told DTE the distance to the barn was less than 100’, so I was relieved that this was actually the case.  Also, as the service entrance points were now both known locations, knowing the distances from each of them to the pole allowed me to draw auxiliary circles centered on each point with the corresponding radii, and thus accurately locate the pole on the drawing.  (I was pleased that the pole ended up adjacent to the north side of the west driveway, where it is actually located.)  While I was at it, I marked the (approximate) location of the other three utility poles on our property, as well as the pole just off our property near the northwest corner, and added notations for some of the other things on the drawing.  (The distribution line was already shown, as was the location of the Consumers Energy gas line.)  Once I was satisfied with the revised drawing, I saved it as a QCAD dwg file, and then again as an 11×17 PDF.  I then e-mailed the PDF to John, the DTE planning consultant.


SUNDAY  16 October

Here’s another view of the space under the stairs as seen from the larger/west RV bay and looking ~ESE.  A small portion of the low end of the staircase is still enclosed down to the floor to provide additional vertical strength (to prevent sagging and bouncing) and prevent any side-to-side motion.  The OSB on the sides is attached to 2×4 studs sitting on base plates that are anchored to the concrete floor.  I have been up and down this staircase several times, and it is very solid under foot.  There is still a small space enclosed on both sides where I could store something, but I have no idea at this point in time what it would make sense to keep there.

Today was Sadie’s 4th birthday party for family at her parents’ house in Ann Arbor.  (Her “Buddies party” was last weekend at Domino Farms).  On the drive home in the afternoon (Linda was driving) I texted Phil at Precision Grading, to let him know we were home and to check on the completion of the driveway and finish grading for the barn, as well as the possible timing for redoing our French Drain in the valley behind the house.  Phil has done all of our driveway and septic tank work since we bought the house, and built a French Drain for the west portion of our property that works really well.  But he is also the sub-contractor for the excavating, grading, and driveway work on the accessory building.  Indeed, Phil referred us to Chuck (the builder).








MONDAY 17 October

This is a view from the staircase landing by the storeroom door looking down towards the large west bay door opening.  The trailer that is visible through the door opening holds the spray foam insulation equipment and materials.  There is a large air-compressor at the front of the trailer along with an air dryer.  The mixing unit in the center of the trailer draws the two chemicals out of 55-gallon drums (one is visible to right towards the rear) that weigh ~500 pounds when full.  The two chemicals are mixed in the spray nozzle at 1,200 PSI at the end of a heated hose bundle that keeps the materials at 110 degrees (F).  The Westinghouse portable generator sitting on the floor in the barn is rated at 28,000 Peak Watts and was used to run the equipment as we did not yet have power to the barn.  For comparison, our Kohler whole-house natural gas generator is rated at 20,000 Watts (continuous) and the genset in our bus, powered by a Yanmar 4-cylinder/4-stroke turbo-diesel engine rated at 28 HP, can produce 17,500 Watts (continuous).  Mike said the portable generator weighs between 500 – 600 pounds, and burns a bit gasoline when in use.

I had to drop-off the Airstream at the dealership in Grand Rapids today.  When I got home at 3 PM, there were two trucks and a trailer in the driveway by the accessory building (barn).  I suspected it was the insulation sub-contractor, as Chuck (the builder) had said last week that they would probably be here early this week.  I walked down to see, and that was, indeed, the case.  They were in the middle of spraying closed-cell foam in the shop, however, so I did not linger or talk to anyone.








From left to right, the west (interior), north (exterior), and part of the east (exterior) walls of the storeroom after being spray foam insulated on the inside with two inches of closed cell foam.  Mike’s assistant is scraping off any foam that got on the interior face of the wall studs, or other surfaces that would prevent the OSB wall panels from being installed properly.

I went back down later when it appeared they were finished spraying, and got to see the finished result of their work.  I was also able to chat with Mike (the owner) and his assistant for bit while they were cleaning up the site and packing up their equipment.  Per his agreement with Chuck (the builder), Mike had foamed the walls to ~2” thick and the space above the storeroom ceiling to ~3” thick.  He had actually sprayed the exterior walls (two for each room) slightly thicker and the interior walls (two for each room) slightly thinner to maintain an ~2” average use of material.

Although I would have liked a thicker application of the spray foam everywhere, it would have cost more and wasn’t really necessary for the intended use of these spaces.  For much of the winter they will be maintained at 40 – 45 degrees (F) except when I want/need to work out there, and the amount of spray foam that is there will allow me to do that fairly economically.

This is the view looking NE from the shop door opening showing the spray foam insulation on the inside of the north and east exterior walls.

Phil (Precision Grading) called me around dinner time and we had a nice, long chat.  We don’t talk too often, as Phil is a very busy one-man business and works long hours, but we always have a good conversation when we speak.  Phil has done all of our driveway and septic tank work since we bought the house in February 2013.  He recommended Chuck (Patriot Builders) for our accessory building project, and is the sub-contractor for all of the excavating, grading, and driveway construction.  I also have him lined up to replace the failing drain in the valley behind the house with a properly constructed French Drain to get the water away from that part of the yard and out to the wetland at the northeast corner of our property and then into the pond to our east.  That was one of the reasons I had texted him yesterday.

20221011-17 – Post Trip Tasks (It’s Not Over ‘til It’s Over)

[ Note:  This is a long post without any photographs.  There will be a separate update post, with photos and captions, about the accessory building (barn) project. ]


TUESDAY 11 October

The driving portion of our grand tour of Eastern/Atlantic Canada and New England ended yesterday, but the trip itself wasn’t really over until all of the post-trip tasks had been completed.  This post covers the seven (7) days following our arrival back home.  A big part of returning home, of course, was the accessory building (barn) we were having built in our absence, but I will cover things related to that in separate, ongoing posts.

Top of the list was emptying out the trailer and moving back into the house, much of which we did as soon as we got home, and some of which I described in the post for October 10.  But there was a great deal more to do than I described there, and today we continued with the “things that must be done.”

Foremost for us was washing and Walbernizing the Airstream, as the weather forecast was for a dry, partly sunny day with an afternoon high temperature in the 70s (F).  But it wasn’t the only thing on the list; high on my list was laundry.  After coffee and bagels for breakfast, I sorted the soiled laundry into the requisite categories (white-hot, white-cold, dark-warm, dark-cold, bedding/linens-warm, and blankets/bedspreads-cold), and put the white-hot load in the washing machine.

Washing the Airstream wasn’t a matter of simply turning on the outside water.  I had to get the tall (8’) step ladder out of the shed, along with the 100’ hose/reel and one of the wheelbarrows (to use for moving stuff between the trailer and the garage).  We have a 2-tank water deionizing system, so I had to get that out of the library.  Other items included:  McGuire’s Automotive soap; the spray nozzle for the hose; the long-handle brush; the bucket for soap; and the medium (6’) step ladder, all of which had to be moved from the garage to the wash area in the driveway in front of the house (where the water faucet is located, and the gravel drains well).  And, I still needed to empty the three outside storage bays in the trailer, and empty out the back of the F-150.  Linda helped with many of these tasks, of course.

On top of all that, our barn builder (Chuck) was due to come by today to meet with his insulation sub-contractor (Mike), and then meet with us.  He texted me mid-morning to let me know that he and Mike would be here at 11:30 AM.   Tuesday was also grass mowing day, so our lawn care guy (Keith) would be showing up sometime around noon.  We have not seen him since the Tuesday just before we left in June, so we knew there would be some catching-up conversation.  Besides maintaining the yard, Keith had sent occasional photos of the progress on the barn.  At a minimum, he had already mowed more times than we prepaid, so we owed him payment for services rendered.

But I digress.  We wrapped up our conversation with Chuck, as described in the separate post on the barn project, and he went on to his next appointment.  By then, it was lunch time, so we had grilled cheese sandwiches.  Very tasty.  I transferred the laundry from the washing machine to the clothes dryer, and then we turned our full attention to washing the trailer.

While not as big as the bus, it was still a lot of work.  I started with the roof (of course), which required me to work from the 8’ ladder.  Even then, it was sometimes an uncomfortable reach to get to some of the areas, and almost impossible to reach others.  For as streamlined as the Airstream trailer is, the roof is littered with stuff that is not very aerodynamic, and is hard to clean.  Too make matters more difficult, walking on the roof is ill-advised, and you have to be very careful where you step.

Linda stayed on the ground (she doesn’t like ladders) and managed the soap bucket, brush, and hose.  The procedure was as follows:  climb the ladder, get the hose from Linda, spray an area, give the hose back to her, get the soapy brush from her, scrub the rinsed area, give the brush back to her, get the hose from her, rinse the area I just washed, and give the hose back to her.  Climb down the ladder, move it to the next location, and repeat; at least a dozen times, probably more.

(Once we have the bus and the trailer in the barn, I will be buying a taller step-ladder, probably 14 feet, and some sort of adjustable platform that can go between two ladders to provide a stable work surface.  Alternatively, I might but some scaffolding with wheels.)

Once the roof and the end caps were done, I could reach the rest of the body from the ground.  Working from the top down, I did the upper half and then the lower half.  (This is not true for the bus, as the upper half still requires a ladder or work platform.)

We were busy enough all day that I wasn’t keeping a close watch on the time.  I think we actually started washing the trailer around 1 PM and finished sometime around 5 PM, but that included an extended time-out to chat with Keith.  It was probably 5:30 PM or later by the time we had cleaned up our equipment and put everything away.  But the trailer was clean and ready for the Walbernize One-Step Cleaner & Sealer.

AMAZON was having their 2-day pre-something-or-other event today and tomorrow, so Linda put some things in our cart.  Among them was a new 2-slice toaster with openings wide enough to toast bagels.  It also had a bagel setting, so it would only toast on one side, essential for proper bagel toasting.  She also ordered a new frying pan, some baking sheets, and a pair of adjustable carbon-fiber walking/trekking poles.  I had been keeping an eye on a propane tank level monitoring kit.  It was still available, and still on sale for the same price I had seen previously, so I investigated a bit further into how it actually worked.  It turned out to use sonar, and was made by a company that makes various products using this technology for industrial applications, so I put it in the cart as well.

As I did not finish the post for this day until a week later, I no longer recall what we had for dinner, but whatever it was, I’m sure it was delicious, as always.  Being Tuesday, after dinner we watched the FBI shows on CBS.


WEDNESDAY 12 October

The forecast for today was for intermittent rain with cooler temperatures and overcast skies.  We had planned to treat the exterior aluminum on the trailer today with the Walbernize One-Step RV Cleaner & Sealer, but the weather was not conducive, either to the task or to our mood for doing it.  We were both a bit tired after the last two days, and decided to take it easier today.  Besides, I still had laundry to do, and wanted to work at my desk for a while to wrap up my blog post for Monday (October 10th).

I needed to get the F-150 in for service, specifically to have the brakes checked/repaired, so I called Brighton Ford and made that appointment for Monday 24 October.  We also needed to pick up Linda’s car, and our mail, from our daughter’s house, and drop off some gifts we had picked up in our travels.  Linda contacted her to check on timing and the reply was “any time after noon.”  It’s a nice, 45-minute, drive in the country to get to her house, so we timed our departure to arrive around 12:30 PM.

Before we left, however, I noticed a blue car in the driveway by the barn, so I walked down to see who was there.  There was at least one other vehicle there, and it was the lead carpenter and his two assistants.  I introduced myself and we chatted for a few minutes and then I left them to their work, which I will describe in separate posts about the barn project.

We visited with our daughter for a bit, but did not overstay our welcome as she was in the middle of a project.  She is redoing floors (wood and tile) and bathrooms (vanities, fixtures, wallpaper, etc.) and has already redone most of the lighting and installed smart switches and dimmers throughout the house.  She also put in remote controlled window shades, and has done a lot of painting.  She’s incredibly handy, has excellent taste and color sense, and is meticulous in her work.

On the way home, I ran some errands while Linda did some grocery shopping.  I topped up the fuel in the F-150 ($4.49 for regular / 87 octane) and then got the truck washed.  I used the same drive-through car wash I have used for a long time, but this time the final overhead brush in the drying area bent my antenna in two places.  That had never happened before, so something had obviously changed with their equipment.  But it won’t happen again, at least not there.  I did not even bring it to their attention (there would have been no point) and instead drove directly to Brighton Ford to see if I needed to add this to my service list for the 24th.  It turned out to be an easy, user-serviceable, job to replace the antenna, so I went to the parts department to get one.  They were on back-order (of course), so I ordered (and paid for) one.  I picked up a pair of replacement windshield wiper blades while I was there, and replaced them as soon as I got home.

Back at my desk, I finally managed to get on the DTE website and located the information I needed on the process/procedure for getting electrical power to the barn.  I printed off the instructions and called one of the indicated numbers, but it was already after hours, so this had to wait until tomorrow.  I will cover the details of this in my accessory building project update post, as all of this has to do with the barn project.

I did contact our friend, and fellow bus owner, Chuck (not-the-builder) to arrange a dinner get-together so we could catch up with him and Barb.  Saturday, 5 PM was agreed upon at the La Marsa in Brighton.  I also contacted our friend, and my former co-worker, Kate about getting together.  Tuesday the 18th was agreed to, with the place TBD.  Part of being gone for so long is that we were eager to reconnect with friends and family in person and (hopefully) they with us.

For dinner, we had breaded chicken cutlets, brown rice, and corn, with turkey gravy.  All vegan, of course, and all very tasty and satisfying.

After dinner, we had a ZOOM call with Paul and Nancy.  They had finally taken delivery of their 2022 Alliance Paradigm 370FB 5th wheel trailer (RV) and had it delivered to the RV park in Gulf Shores, Alabama, where they plan to keep it, and will have it moved in/out of storage seasonally for their use.  They had been busy getting the things they needed for it, and getting it set up to live in.  It was great to chat again, and get a real-time video tour of the interior.  It was very nice, of course.

Wednesday is not one of our regular TV nights, but this past Sunday we missed the 3rd/final episode of Van Der Valk (for the season), so we streamed that.  It was followed by an episode of NOVA on Computers and Crime, so we watched that as well, and then went to bed.


THURSDAY 13 October

Today was someone’s 4th birthday; Happy birthday, Sadie Rose!  She was in pre-school all day, of course, so a happy birthday Facetime call had to wait until after dinner.

The weather forecast still had a possibility of rain today, so we deferred the Walbernizing of the trailer for another day.  Our main focus instead became finishing the job of completely emptying the inside of the Airstream and then thoroughly cleaning the inside as well as everything that had been stored in it, especially items that had to do with food (storage, preparation, consumption, cleaning, etc.).  That also included laundry, of course, which I continued to work on.  Before that happened, however, I was able to chat with Erich, the Service Manager at Woodland Airstream, about our upcoming appointment and list of issues, most notably the furnace and the transverse hump/bulge/ridge in the kitchen floor.

Breakfast was waffles with some of the Maple Butter we got at Domaine Acer in the Gaspé Peninsula.  It was just as delicious as we remembered, and brought us back briefly to the wonderful discovery of that place and its products.

After breakfast, I called the DTE phone number in the instructions.  Actually, there were two phone numbers, one for commercial and one for residential.  I called the commercial number first.  The voice menu made it fairly obvious that it was for builders, and that I needed to call the residential number, which I did.  I will cover the details of the conversation, and follow-up actions in my accessory building update post, as all of this had to do with the barn project.

As long as we were on a roll, we both logged in to our MyChart app on our iPads and set up our Annual Medicare Wellness Visits with the HFHS Columbus Medical Center Internal Medicine Department in Novi.  Our primary care physician retired in July, so we will both be seeing new, and different, doctors now.  I then used the CVS app on my iPad Pro to schedule both of us for our seasonal flu shots and the newest bi-valent CoVID-19 booster next week.

We also did a partial winterization of the fresh water system and the drain traps in the Airstream, which went something like this:  Drained the fresh water tank;  Opened the hot and cold low point drain valves;  Removed the drain plug from the water heater;  Used an air-compressor to blow out the fresh water lines and water heater as best we could;  Drained the little bit of water in the gray tank (onto the ground);  Filled the two sink traps and the shower trap with enough potable antifreeze to make sure some of it ended up in the gray tank;  Added potable antifreeze to the toilet flushed it into the black tank, and left some on top of the valve to keep the seal moist.  (The reason for the antifreeze in the waste tanks was to keep the knife valves from freezing if there was any residual water left in the tanks.)

Lunch was leftovers (chicken cutlet with gravy, rice, and corn).  Yum.

We were done working on the trailer by 5 PM, and ready to quite for the day.  We continued to be amazed by how much stuff we had brought into the house and garage as a result of emptying out the trailer and truck.  Linda continued to sort and separate stuff, setting aside things she does not intend to put back on board, and ran several loads through the dishwasher.  We wanted everything to be clean before we packed/stored it until the next time we use the tailer.  And at this point, we do not yet know when that will be, exactly or even approximately.

I was still working on this post the following week, and no longer recall what we had for dinner.  Whatever it was, it was undoubtedly good, after which we Facetimed with her Sadie, and sang happy birthday to her.

We didn’t have any Thursday evening TV programs we were watching at this point, so we streamed Masters of the Universe – Dr. Strange: The Multiverse of Madness.


FRIDAY 14 October

Around breakfast time, I got a call back from Sharon in the DTE Northwest Planning office, regarding the service request I had initiated yesterday.  More details about this call will be in the separate update post about the accessory building project.

Late morning, we finally got around to putting the Walbernize One-Step RV Cleaner & Sealer on the exterior of the Airstream.  It was cooler than we would have liked, and a bit breezy, which wasn’t great.  But it was also cloudy, which was good, as the product is not supposed to be applied in direct sunlight.  I worked on the upper half of the body, using a ladder, while Linda worked on the lower half from the ground.  It was an easy enough product to use:  wipe on, let dry to a haze (doesn’t take very long), and wipe off, always working with the grain of the aluminum.  The results are always very nice, and the body is slick to the touch afterwards, it’s just a lot of surface area and takes a while.

I was still working this post on Tuesday, the 18th, so I no longer recalled details of what we had to eat today, or other such minor considerations.  I do recall that after dinner we watched an episode of Star Wars: ANDOR and The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power and then the latest episode of The Great British Baking Show.  Our tastes in TV and movies are, if nothing else, eclectic.


SATURDAY 15 October

We were finally getting back into our normal “at-home” routine, starting the morning with coffee and our iPads.  Saturday mornings are also the weekly breakfast gatherings of members of the South Lyon Area Amateur Radio Club (SLAARC).  We did not go today, but I am looking forward to resuming our attendance at these gatherings.

Breakfast was scrambled eggs (Just Egg) with bacon, two slices of toast (expertly toasted in our new toaster), and an orange, split equally between us.  There might have been orange juice involved as well, but I don’t recall at this point.

We had enough recyclables to warrant a trip to Recycle Livingston.  Our membership had expired last month, so Linda made out a check for the renewal before we left.

My existing site plan for the barn project did not include a few pieces of information that DTE needed.  I spent part of the day modifying my QCAD drawing to include those features and e-mailed it to the DTE planning consultant (John).  Further details about this will be in the accessory building project update post.

The final task in cleaning the Airstream was to apply 303 Aerospace Protectant for the window and door seals, and adjust one of the window latches.  It was chilly outside, so this was a less-than-completely-comfortable task, but I got it done.  Except for the seals for the three bay doors; I forgot to do those, and just let it pass for now.  The window seals tend to stick, but the bay seals do not, so it was merely for preventative maintenance and could wait until spring.

We both got showers and left around 4:40PM  to join our friends, Chuck and Barb, for dinner at La Marsa.  It was great to see them again.  We were glad we could all fit in dinner as quickly as we did, as they have an early November departure planned for their winter RV resort in Naples, Florida.  They plan to be back, however, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, so we should have another opportunity to get together with them yet this year.  The meal (food), however, was a disappointment.

We both had Koshary, a dish we have had many times at this, and other La Marsa locations, and it was not as good as normal.  The caramelized onions they put on top had been burnt to a crisp and were not tasty.  The dish has always included some amount of capellini (angel hair or fine pasta) but this time seemed to be made with spaghetti, which was too thick, and there was too much of it.  Linda also thought it had too much tomato paste, so both the taste and texture were “off.”  We didn’t complain, but I doubt that we will order it again any time soon.  They have other things on the menu that we can eat, and like, so we have not given up on the restaurant.  We were reminded, however, of how quickly a restaurant can lose their regular customers if someone is not paying attention to the consistency and quality of the dishes, especially ones (like Koshary) that are both signature items for this chain, and a dish we have never seen on a menu anywhere else.

Back home we watched Father Brown and Midsummer Murders on PBS.  Death in Paradise had been moved ahead of Father Brown and Broadchurch, which we had already seen, was put in the 10 PM time slot.  It was fabulous (another great Nicola Walker role), but we had no desire to see it a second time.  We might have streamed something else instead, but I no longer recall what we did.


SUNDAY 16 October

Today was our grand-daughter Sadie’s family birthday party and brunch.  She turned 4-years-old this past Thursday, and it was the first time we were able to see her, and big sister Madeline, (and son, Brendan and daughter-in-law Shawna) in person since we got home.  Our daughter (Meghan) and son-in-law (Chris) were there, along with Shawna’s brother, Rob, and his family (Becky, Jack, and Juniper).  It was nice to see everyone, the food was wonderful, and the kids made sure it was an energy-filled gathering.

On the drive home (Linda was driving) I texted Phil at Precision Grading, to let him know we were home.  Phil has done all of our driveway and septic tank work since we bought the house, and installed a French Drain in the west portion of our property that works really well.  But he is also the sub-contractor for the excavating, grading, and driveway work on the accessory building.  We are on his future project list to replace the drain in the valley behind the house with a proper French Drain, so I needed to check on that as much as anything else.

At home, I went ahead and put the stinger for the Propride 3P Hitch into the receiver of the F-150 and lined it up with the hitch on the Airstream.  Linda then came out and assisted with the actual hitching up process, following the procedure we had now used for almost four months.  With the trailer secured to the truck, we removed and stowed the chocks and the tongue jack stand, and the combo was ready to go in the morning.  I was going to finally need to use the Lot Bar, which we bought at the same time as the hitch in October 2019, so I made sure I had the necessary tools in the truck to install it once I got to the Airstream dealer tomorrow.

For dinner, Linda prepared home-made Raman from scratch (except for the noodles, of course).  It was amazing (naturally), and I suggested it be added to some regular menu rotation for the coming winter months.

Sunday evening is one of our two PBS nights, featuring Masterpiece Theater.  Tonight, was the first episode of the new season of Miss Scarlet and the Duke, followed by the premier of the Magpie Murders and then the US premier of Annika, staring Nicola Walker, whose work we have come to really enjoy and respect.

Tomorrow would be an early/busy day for both of us, so I set an alarm on my phone for 7 AM before turning in for the night.


MONDAY 17 October

I took today as the final day of our post trip tasks, as well as the resumption of some of our “at home” routines.  My me that meant taking the travel trailer to Woodland Airstream in Grand Rapids, Michigan for the scheduled appointment to take care of our list of service items before the factory warranty expired on November 8, 2022.  For Linda, that meant the first trip (of probably many) to Ann Arbor to provide child care for one or both of the younger grand-daughters while their parents worked.  Today, that meant watching (playing with) Sadie, as her Montessori pre-school was closed today.  She also had to hang around long enough to also spend time with Madeline after she got home from school while dad took Sadie to her ballet class.

I was scheduled to arrive at Woodland Airstream between 10 and 11 AM, and Erich (the service manager) had me on his calendar for around 10:30 AM to go over the repair list.  I pulled out of the driveway at 8:15 AM for the approximately 1-hour and 45-minute drive to the northeast side of Grand Rapids, Michigan.  There was a light mist as I pulled out, and I drove in and out of rain of varying intensity for the entire trip.  I missed the morning rush hour traffic in and around the Lansing, Michigan area, and the trip went smoothly even with occasional construction zones.

I arrived right around 10 AM to a very light-to-intermittent rain, and parked the truck-trailer combo in a convenient spot that was not blocking traffic or parked vehicles.  I checked in with Joyce, the service writer, and then checked in with Erich to see if they had chocks and blocks I could use to secure the trailer while I unhooked it.  (I did not want to leave my personal chocks or jack stand, if possible.)

It was probably 10:30, or a bit later, by the time I had the truck unhooked and the Lot Bar installed.  The Lot Bar is an accessory for the Propride 3P Hitch that allows the trailer to be moved around (at low speed) by a tow vehicle with a conventional trailer ball, such as on an RV dealer’s parking lot (thus the name of the device).  Woodland Airstream has several of these devices, but they now charge $50 to install and uninstall them.  Which is fair, as it involves some amount of time of their labor to do this if the customer doesn’t take care of it themselves.  I didn’t mind doing it, even in the very light rain, as I have had this accessory since we bought the hitch, and had yet to use it.  I knew exactly how it had to be installed, but had never actually done it.  It was very easy.  We never leave home without.  In the event that we had to have unexpected repairs attended to while traveling, it is highly unlikely that most RV service facilities would have one.

Erich met with me around 10:45 AM and I walked him through a few of the items on our list that I thought would make more sense if I could just have him look at something while I pointed to the problem area.  He was very attentive and, in spite of always being very busy, took the time and gave me his undivided attention.  I then met with Joyce to go over the paperwork, sign it, and give her the keys.  The estimated time to turn the trailer around was 3 to 4 weeks, but I told her we had no plans to use it again until spring, and it was fine with me if they took the time they needed to address everything correctly.  Most of the items were already identified as warranty, but I anticipate there will be things we have to pay for, beyond the winterization.  At a minimum, I want to get a couple of spare “sail switches” for the propane furnace and a spare fresh-water pump to carry as spare parts.

I had hoped to chat with Steve, our salesman, but he was tied up with a customer.  I was standing near the front door, waiting to see if Steve was going to have a break, but perhaps looking a bit lost, when a gentleman standing there asked if he could help me in any way.  Long story short, it was John, the CEO of Woodland Airstream, and the GM of the Grand Rapids location.  We had a really nice chat, but since he asked, I shared my concerns about the bulge in the floor.  He was confident they would be able to take care of it.  I made sure he knew how pleased we were with all of the employees we have interacted with, starting with our very first contact with Steve in August 2019.

Woodland Airstream recently opened a location in Indianapolis, Indiana and John said it was doing very well.  I also learned that they are about to break ground on a location in Clarkston, Michigan (much closer to our house) that will allow them to conveniently serve the whole southeast Michigan market, and possibly take in northwest Ohio.

While I am not completely happy with Airstream at the moment, as I think there are way too many items on our list for a 3-year-old trailer with no more than 10,000 miles on it, Woodland Airstream has been an absolutely top-notch, first-class group of people to deal with.  Woodland Airstream is an Airstream exclusive dealership, as a result of which they have a great relationship with Airstream and their customers ultimately benefit from that.

It was 11:45 AM by the time I was done at the dealership.  I texted Linda that I was about to head for home, but then decided to drive the short distance in the opposite direction on Plainfield Avenue NE to Anna’s House.  So, I texted my change in plans.  Anna’s House is local chain of restaurants that is well known for their breakfast offerings, including vegan ones.  I was in the mood for lunch, however, and ordered their vegan hamburger with French fries.  I should have ordered breakfast, as the burger was very disappointing.  I texted Linda again when I was ready to leave the restaurant, and again when I got home around 3 PM.  It’s been a long-standing practice of ours, ever since we finally had cell phones with text messaging, to let each other know when we are on the road and have reached our destinations.

Back at the house, there were trucks and a trailer down by the barn, so I figured the insulation crew was there, and walked down there to check on things.  There will be more details on that in the separate accessory building project update post.

Phil (Precision Grading) called me around dinner time and we had a nice, long chat.  We don’t talk too often, as Phil is very busy and works long hours, but we always have a great conversation when the opportunity presents itself.

For dinner, Linda made sandwiches of vegan deli slices and cheese with lettuce and vegan mayo on toast.  We had a few Fritos and orange slices on the side.

Monday is one of our two CBS nights, so we watched our usual programs and then went to bed.

20221010 – Our last travel day; Streetsboro-Cleveland KOA (OH) to Home (MI)

MONDAY 10 October

The forecasted low last night was mid-30s (F), so during the evening we switched the HVAC controller for Zone 2 from heat-pump to furnace and set the desired temperature to 64 (F).  I set the thermostat to 58 (F) before going to bed around midnight.  The furnace ran perfectly all evening and through the night, as it has all summer, until sometime in the early morning.  I was half asleep and heard it short cycle, which is to say, the blower came on, ran for about 15 – 20 seconds, and then shut off.  That was a sure indication that the burner had failed to ignite.  As soon as I heard that, I was wide awake and got out of bed to investigate.

The temperature in zone 2 was 56 (F), confirming that the furnace had failed to run, as the actual temperature never drops 2 degrees (F) below the set point.  I turned up the desired temperature to 62 (F), but the furnace still did not come on.  (ABIR, I think it has a lockout feature that prevents repeated attempts to start after some number of failures.)  I thought that perhaps we had used up a tank of propane (highly unlikely) and that the valve on the other tank was shut, so I turned on one of the burners on the range to check.  It lit right up, so I knew we had propane.  I went outside anyway and opened the valve on the 2nd tank.  I came back in, now slightly chilled as it was 34 (F) outside, and put the water on to boil (electric kettle) to make coffee and wait for the sun to warm up the outside air to the point where we could run the heat-pumps in heating mode.

The most obvious reason the furnace had failed to ignite was that the “sail switch” had failed to detect air flow.  If so, it was not the first time this had happened; the switch is (apparently) delicate, and we have had this switch replaced once already.  I also do not know how to access it and replace it, but was feeling like it was time to learn, and carry one or more spares when we travel.  I would not, however, have undertaken that repair this morning as it was last travel day of our grand tour of Eastern/Atlantic Canada and New England.  By mid-afternoon, we would be parked in our driveway and moving back into our house, thus no longer dependent on the trailer for a creature comfort.  The failed fresh water pump was actually more of an issue, as I could not fully winterize the fresh water system without it.

Last night was our 117th night on the road, and today was our 118th day.  As of this morning, we had put close to 10,000 miles on the truck since we left home on June 15th.  We had estimated the towing miles at just under 6,000 and the touring miles (not towing) at ~3,000, so we were a few hundred miles over that, with the difference probably in the touring miles more than in the towing miles.

We were both up early enough to have a cup of half-caffe coffee and a light breakfast.  Checkout time was noon, but we had no reason to stay at the Streetsboro-Cleveland KOA Holiday until then.  We were not in a rush to leave either, however, as we wanted to let it warm up enough outside to be comfortable when breaking camp.

The information display in the F-150 parked in our driveway showing:  9,987.7 miles; 14.2 mpg average; 273 hours 6 minutes, and 14 seconds (~173.1 hours) engine run time.  That computed out to ~703.3 gallons (~2,662.3  L) of gasoline, or ~2.575 gph.  (Thinking about fuel consumption in terms of gallons per hour is an aviation/nautical thing.)

Our drive home was ~210 miles, almost all of it on Interstate and US highway with speed limits of 65 – 70 mph.  Our estimated travel time was 3-1/2 hours.  That meant it would probably take us closer to 4 hours to make the trip, so we targeted an 11 AM departure time.  Our departure preparations were smooth and unhurried and we pulled out of our site just before 11 AM.

We reversed our route from Saturday, heading east on OH-303 to OH-14 and then north to The Ohio Turnpike (I-80/90) Toll Road.  We got on the Turnpike heading west and set the cruise control at 64 – 68 mph, depending on road and traffic conditions.  We passed through a few short construction zones where we had to slow down to 40 – 55 mph, but then did not cause a significant delay.  At Toledo, Ohio, we exited the Turnpike onto I-75 North and then took I-475 West to US-23 North towards Michigan.  The toll road was in excellent condition, as was US-23 in Ohio.

US-23 in Michigan was a different story.  Although it is a limited access (4-lane divided) all the way to Saginaw / Bay City where it merges into I-75, the section from the Ohio border to Ann Arbor was in the same terrible condition that it has been in for years.  This is what visitors to our state first experience when coming in by this route, and it’s a sad embarrassment.

Our truck and trailer, back in front of our house where our grand tour of Eastern/Atlantic Canada and New England began on the morning of June 15, 2022.  It was hard to believe we were back home, and like we had never left.

We exited US-23 at M-59 (Highland Road), headed west towards our house, and a few minutes later pulled into our driveway.  I had pulled into enough pull-through RV sites over the course of the summer that I had pretty much figure out how get the truck and trailer aligned, essentially for unhitching, with the trailer positioned where I wanted it.  I am glad to say that I got it right on the first try this time.

Linda reminded me to take a photo of the information screen for the odometer reading.  I used the Trip-1 Odometer to record the total mileage for the trip.  When I shut the engine off, it read 9,987.7 miles.  We had averaged 14.2 mpg, and the engine had run for 273 hours 6 minutes, and 14 seconds (~173.1 hours).  That computed out to ~703.3 gallons (~2,662.3  L) or ~2.575 gph.  (I have no idea what we paid for that gasoline, but Linda can figure it out from her entries in Quicken.  Fuel wasn’t cheap but, no fuel, no trip.)

As we walked down the driveway we could make out some of the barn through the dense pine and fir trees just west of our house.  This was our first full view of the building, looking NW at the SE corner.  It looked great, and there was no doubt we had picked the right builder to handle this project.

The very first thing on our list, after unlocking the house, was to move Juniper-the-Cat inside.  Linda let her out of her carrier by her litter tray in basement bathroom, just the make sure she remembered where it was located.  We had remotely set the heat-pump (main floor of house only) up to 65 (F) before leaving this morning, and turned it up to 68 (F) when we got home.  I then turned the water to the house back on, plugged in the water softener and filter/sanitizer, and reset the date/time to the correct values.  We had also turned off the main (hot water baseboard) furnace before we left.  That meant we had no hot water, so I turned the main unit back on.  It was cool in the basement, so sometime later I turned on the basement zone and let it start to warm up.

This is the view looking NE at the SW corner of the barn from the north edge of the road.

Before turning our full attention to unloading the trailer and the truck, we walked down the west end of the pull-through driveway to see the RV-Barn/Workshop-Storeroom for the first time.  Although we had followed its progress via photos, it was exciting to finally see it in person.  Since I had designed it, and we both had a clear sense of the size of the bus and travel trailer, we had a sense of its scale, but architecture is 3-dimensional and has to be experienced in person to really grasp.  That said, it was both impressively large and surprisingly not large at the same time.  It’s had to describe the feeling of designing something and then seeing it as an actual, 3-dimensional, functional object.  It’s a great feeling, really.  I took a few photos, some of which I have included in this post.

This photo shows the inside of the barn from the left bay door opening.  Lots of details are visible in this photo:  the concrete floor;  the 16’ wall posts and headers;  the house wrap on the walls;  the roof trusses;  the tall/narrow wall windows;  the shop (main floor) / storeroom (above) in the NE corner, and;  the stairs leading up to the storeroom (the door openings to both rooms are visible, with the shop door under the landing for the storeroom door).

We like to get our RVs emptied out as soon as possible after an extended time away.  As we moved things from the inside of the trailer and into the house, and unloaded the truck (back seat and bed), we were amazed at just how much stuff we had carried around with us over northeastern North America.  The trailer has more interior storage than it appears, and we made full use of it.  Ditto for the F-150.

A view of the shop from the door opening in the SW corner, looking towards the NE corner.

After we had unloaded as much of the inside of the trailer as we wanted to for now, I checked the furnace again.  It lit right up and made warm air, but I also heard the blower on the Zone-2 heat-pump running.  The way the HVAC controller is designed, the furnace is on Zone-2, so we cannot run the furnace and the Zone-2 heat-pump at the same time.  After looking at the information screen more closely, I noticed that the FAN mode was set to Low.  Normally it’s set to Auto.  I switched it from Low to Med with no change, and then from Med to High, again with no change.  I then switched it to Auto, and after a few seconds the heat-pump blower shut off.  The furnace had continued running this whole time.

We have owned this trailer for almost exactly three years, and this was the first time I had ever observed this behavior.  I also had no idea why the furnace had failed to run this morning but was able/willing to run now.  The only thing I could think of was that the trip home, which had its “bouncy” sections (especially on US -23 in Michigan) had jarred the sail switch (or something else) loose.  (I did find a 1-1/2” pan head wood screw with a white painted head on the floor at the air return opening for the furnace, so who knows.)

The east side of the barn.  The vertical green trim, towards the front of the barn, is where the electric utility meter can will go (at the top) and the power cable riser will be mounted (for an underground service entrance).

While Linda was dealing with the kitchen, putting away containers and appliances, I went to my office to resurrect all of the computing and networking equipment and start a second load of laundry.  I had sorted the clothes, bedding, and linens into at least six baskets, and it would probably take me until Thursday to get it all washed, dried, and put away.



By this point we were both a bit tired, so dinner was Amy’s Pad Thai and small glasses of the Auslese Riesling we had bought in Hudson, Ohio.  Always tasty.

At 7:30 PM, we Facetimed with our son and his daughters, but mostly with the older daughter, Madeline.  The younger daughter, Sadie, is about to turn 4-years-old, and is at that age where she understands a video call, and sees it as yet another opportunity to be a clown.  Madeline, however, who is almost 10, was able and willing to give an account of her recent activities, in and out of school, and how she feels about them.

After our online visit, Linda got a nice, long, hot shower while I went to basement to get the SONY TV system operating.  As soon as I turned it on, I was presented with a software update, so I initiated the installation, which took quite a while.  When Linda was done, I also got a nice, long, very warm shower.  The shower in our trailer is fine, and we don’t mind using it while traveling, but …

Being Monday night, we watched our usual CBS programs.  When the last one ended at 11 PM, we were off to bed.

20221009 – Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio

SUNDAY 09 October

(There are 11 photos in this post, distributed throughout the text with captions.  They were all taken on a Google Pixel 6 Pro smartphone.)

Brandywine Falls drops about 60 feet on a tributary to the Cuyahoga River.

True to the forecast, it got cold last night and it as chilly in the Airstream, 58 (F) to be exact, when I got up.  Linda was still sleeping, so I only bumped the thermostat up t 62 (F), but it was enough to take the chill out of the air and warm the floor up a bit.  (Some of the hot air from the propane furnace is blown into the belly pan, where the tanks are located, and then finds its way from there up into the living area. As such, it also heats the underside of the floor, at least above the belly pan.)





Located at Brandywine Falls is the Brandywine Inn.  (Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio.)

I saw these partially backlit trees while we were hiking the trail on the north side of the Brandywine Falls gorge.  (Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio.)


Linda got up a short time later.  I made coffee for both of us, and bumped the thermostat up to 65 (F), and a bit later up to 68 (F).  Linda made scrambled eggs (Just Egg) with chopped up vegan bacon and baby gold potatoes added in.


Although it was chilly outside, the forecast for the afternoon was for temperatures in the 60s (F) and sunny skies.  Perfect weather for the last sightseeing day of our grand tour.  And our main objective today was to visit the nearby Cuyahoga Valley National Park.



A selfie taken from the lower observation platform on the south side of the Brandywine Falls gorge.  (Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio.)


First established as Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area in 1974, it became a National Park in 2000.  It’s 32,575 acres are just a small piece of the much larger Erie & Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area that encompasses the Cuyahoga River Valley from Cleveland to Akron, OH.


The NHA was designated by Congress to help preserve and celebrate the rails, trails, landscapes, towns and sites that grew up along the first 110 miles of the canal that helped Ohio and our nation grow.  The original canal ran 309 miles to the Ohio River. The Ohio & Erie Canalway is an affiliated unit of the National Park Service.  From the following website:

The Buckeye State is home to eight national parks in Ohio managed by the National Parks System. Cuyahoga Valley National Park, located between Cleveland and Akron, is the only park designated as a National Park. Ohio has two National Historic Parks, Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historic Park, and Hopewell Culture National Historic Park.

There are three national historic sites, First Ladies National Historic site, James A. Garfield National Historic Site, and William Howard Taft National Historic Site, along with two national memorials David Berger National Memorial, and Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial. In addition, there is the North Country National Scenic Trail that goes around Ohio and is part of a seven-state trail system.

The trail on the south side of Brandywine Falls gorge was entirely boardwalk as the cliffs were very steep.  (Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio.)


We left around 10:30 AM and headed west on OH-303, through the towns of Hudson and Peninsula, Ohio.  Hudson was unexpected and amazing; clearly an affluent area.  At Riverview Road we went north to the Boston Mill Visitor Center.

The parking lot was full and we did not get to go in ☹.  We drove to Brandywine Falls instead.  It was also crowded, but we got a place to park.  (The park is, apparently, always crowded on nice weekends, and a marathon was being run on the tow path as well.)  We walked and took some photos.  It was nice.  There were steeper trails available, but we passed on those.

Trees are amazing, and will grow anywhere they can get a foothold with their roots.  These trees were near the start of the south rim trail to Brandywine Falls.  (Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio.)


From the waterfall, we then headed towards the north end of the park to the Canal Exploration Center.  We spent time in the Information / Museum building, which was a former canal-side inn adjacent to lock #38, learning about the history of the canal system.  The lock was fully intact, including the gates at each end, both of which were open.  The downstream lock and pond had water in them.  The upstream pond was mostly grown in with reeds, but a small tickle of water was flowing into the lock chamber and on towards Lake Erie.





The rear side of Canal Exploration Center at Lock 38, towards the north end of Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio.  It was a functioning inn during the heyday of the canal system, serving both travelers and local residents.

The front view of the Canal Exploration Center.  Lock 38 is just behind me.  (Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio.)


Like so many places we visited this summer, there was a great deal more to do than we had time for at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and in the surrounding area.  Hiking and biking for sure, as well as lots of history.  It was a wonderful park, and a bit of surprise, tucked in-between Cleveland and Akron, Ohio as it was.

But we had seen and done enough for a first visit.  Unlike most of the places we visited this summer, CV-NP is only a 3 to 4-hour drive from our house, so easily revisited at some point in the future.

The downstream portion of Lock 38, with the gates open and the lower pond just beyond.  (Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio.)

We headed south back to OH-303 and then east back towards the KOA.  On the way back, we stopped in Hudson at the ACME Fresh Market (for wine, a 2020 von Wilhelm Haus Auslese Riesling) and the Shell station (for fuel).

Back at camp, it was sunny and pleasant, so I got the two camp chairs out and then took a few minutes to put the stinger back in the truck receiver and line it up with the trailer hitch in anticipation of our departure tomorrow morning.

The upstream portion of Lock 38 with the gates open and the pond beyond.  The upstream pond was mostly filled in with reeds.  (Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio.)

Linda prepared a couple of bowls of snacks, and we sat outside and each had a small glass of wine and a few munchies.  (The wine was really good.)  Scattered clouds eventually moved across the sun, bringing a distinct chill to air each time.  As the sun finally dropped below the tops of the trees to the west (duh) of our site, the temperature dropped along with it.  Linda went back and I put the chairs back in the truck bed and then joined her.


A view of the entire Lock 38 from the upstream end.  (Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio.)

I copied the photos I had taken at the CV-NP from my phone to my computer and then finished the blog post for yesterday, assembled it in WordPress, and published it.  I then processed the photos from today and started working on the text for the blog post.


We had fish sticks and Daiya Mac & Cheese or dinner (both vegan, of course).  We would normally watch PBS programs on Sunday night, but did not have a usable OTA TV signal, so we streamed another episode of Star War: ANDOR and then an episode of Lord of the Rings:  The Rings of Power.  We had a second glass of the Riesling wine with some Hershey’s Dark Chocolate with Almonds.


It was going on 10:30 PM by the time the second program was done and Linda headed off to bed.  Our sleep needs and schedules are slightly different, so I doodled on my iPad for about an hour and then lowered the thermostat setting and climbed into bed.  We return home tomorrow, so this was our last “sleep” of our 117-night grand tour of Eastern/Atlantic Canada and New England.

20221008 – Another Travel Day; PA & OH Turnpikes

SATURDAY 08 October

Our rig in site #110 at Fox Den Acres Campground near New Stanton, Pennsylvania. (W3W=”lifesaving.mixtue.circulation.”)

I was up at 6:45 AM this morning, a bit earlier than the last few weeks.  Juniper-the-Cat was prowling the beds looking to get someone up to feed her, even though she still had some kibble left in her bowl.  She also likes to have her water freshened, even though the bowl is not empty.  We had left the main (larger) heat-pump on last night in heating mode with the thermostat set to 60 (F) as the overnight low was forecast to be 41 (F).  The heat-pump can operate at that temperature, but is close to where it will switch into a “defrost” mode occasionally.  I was already half-awake because of the cat, and heard the heat-pump go into defrost mode, so I figured I would just get up and switch the system to the propane furnace, with is much more effective than the heat-pump below 40 (F).  As long as I was up, and put the kettle on and made a cup of half-caffe coffee.  Linda got up around 8 AM, and made her cup of coffee.

At 8:30 AM. we had a light breakfast of Linda’s homemade granola, which we managed to make the granola last the entire trip.

Today was another travel day, one of the very few times on this trip we have had back-to-back travel days.  Our destination was the Streetsboro / Cleveland KOA Holiday in/near Streetsboro, Ohio.  As with yesterday, our preferred route was almost entirely toll road, I-76 and I-80.  Our EZ-Pass is actually from Ohio, so we will sail through the electronic toll plazas with “ease.”  The Pennsylvania Turnpike (I-76) becomes the Ohio Turnpike (I-76) and then I-80 becomes the Ohio Turnpike where I-76 and I-80 meet.

Google Maps indicated the driving distance today was 136 miles, and estimated a travel time of 2 hrs. 9 mins.  Check-in time at the KOA was 2 PM.  That might have been a problem except that check-out time at Fox Den Acres was noon.  That allowed us to target an 11:30 AM departure (we almost always miss our target and pull out a bit later).  Also, the overnight low temperature was 41 (F) and was forecast to only be 45 (F) by 11 AM.  Burrr.  But we had the gloves we bought yesterday at Walmart, so we were prepared to deal with handling things in the chilly temperatures.

We  started our departure preparations in earnest around 10 AM.  We had full sun and no wind so, in spite of the mid-40s (F) ambient temperature, we were very comfortable working outside, thanks in part to our newly acquired gloves.

We had studied Google Maps ahead of time, and so I had a clear mental image of how we had to get back on I-76 W.  It was still confusing, and I thought I missed the entrance ramp to the toll road, but the road I was on also went to the entrance ramp, so it was all good.  The only other unexpected thing on or route was near the end.  We exited I-80 W and had our EZ-Pass scanned as we rolled through the toll booth and then immediately found the ramp to southbound OH-14 (the one we needed) closed.  We took OH-14 North instead, because we didn’t have a choice.  Less than mile later there was an exit and a posted detour.  We crossed over OH-14, made the left turn, and got on OH-14 South.  After that, it was just a matter of turning on Market Square Drive to cut over to OH-303 and head west to the KOA.

The registration building and access control gate at the Streetsboro – Cleveland KOA Holiday in Streetsboro, Ohio.  The registration building also had a store and laundry room on the main floor and an arcade/game room in the basement.  The entry gate had a touch screen to enter the access code.

The entrance to the Streetsboro – Cleveland KOA Holiday was easy to spot, thanks to their iconic sign (large, yellow, with red teepee that looks like an X) and was wide enough for an easy turn.  Most of the campground was set far back from the road, so there was a long, winding drive to get to the registration building and access control gate.  It was just after 2 PM when I stopped and Linda went in to register us.

Our rig happily situated in site #507 at the Streetsboro – Cleveland KOA Holiday.  (W3W = “modern.downsizing.forwarded”.)

We were assigned site #507, a full hookup / 50A pull-through site in the far back of the park.  They only have 15 pull-through sites, all in this area, and it appeared that they were used for shorter-stay transient campers, like us.  The campground also had 12 cabins and 16 tent sites, two playgrounds, a swimming pool, and three lakes (two for fishing).  There were also an (uncountably) large number of back-in sites, many of which were clearly in seasonal (permanent) use.

I was able to locate the trailer on the site so that it was level, side-to-side, to within 1/4”, so we did not have to use our leveling devices.  It was about 4” low in the front, so that was easily handled by the trailer tongue jack.  Since it was early in the day, and we had no plans to leave the campground, I did a full exterior camp setup (electric, water filer/softener, and sewer).  They only thing I didn’t do was deploy the awnings, which we have not had out for many weeks now; no need with the lower sun angle and cool temperatures.

We had grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch.  Linda searched for OTA TV stations, but was not able to find a PBS affiliate with a usable signal.

The “Holiday” designation identifies the campground as a destination, not just a place to stop.  To that end, the campground, and many of the sites, were decorated for Halloween.  A sign listed all of the activities that were taking place today, including a central gathering, and hay wagon ride, and trick-or-treating from 6 to 7 PM.  It was fun to watch everyone in costume, children and adults, walking through the campground.

For dinner, we had oriental dumplings with soy-ginger sauce and corn kernels on the side.  As the sun set and the outside air temperature dropped we ran the main (zone 2) heat-pump to keep the chill at bay.  The forecasted overnight low temperature was 36 (F), so 34 was not out of the question.  As the outside air temperature approached 40 (F) during the evening, the lower limit for the heat-pump, it finally went into a “defrost” cycle.  Once that cycle completed, I switched the system to the (propane) furnace and set it to 65 (F).

After dinner, we streamed two episodes of Star Wars: ANDOR and one episode of Lord of the Rings:  The Rings of Power.  Linda headed to bed after the programs, and I lowered the thermostat to 62 (F).  I worked for a while on this blog before turning in, and lowered the thermostat again, this time to 58 (F), to keep the furnace from just running continuously all night.  The bedroom end of the trailer is always cooler than the kitchen/dining/living end.  When it is cool/cold outside, the bed is always chilly when I first get in, but I have more than adequate covers, and warm up quickly once I do.

20221007 – A travel day on the Pennsylvania Turnpike

FRIDAY 07 October

Today was another repositioning day.  After five (5) nights at the Hersheypark Camping Resort it was time to move on.  Marilyn had been staying at Ron and Mary’s house, but it was time for her to return home as well.  Linda and I each had a cup coffee as soon as we got up.  We had toast and jam for breakfast and split our last banana.

Each section of Hersheypark Camping Resort had a name.  Our section was Carrousel Circle.  It did not have a Carrousel, and was not in the shape of circle.

Because we spent all of our time here visiting with family, we never walked or drove the campground.  We like to stretch our legs before driving for hours, so we went on a short walk around the front part of the resort and I took a few photos.  Back at the rig, we were working on our final departure preparations.  Linda turned on the fresh water pump and … nothing.  Bummer.  I could hear a faint hum when the switch was on, and the hum went away when the switch was off, so it appeared that the unit was getting power.  I suspected that the diaphragm had failed, as this is a common failure on RV water pumps, but I was not going to take the time right then to diagnose the issue, and I had not repair parts with us anyway.  Linda made a note to add this to the list of warranty/repair items for the dealer when we get back.  (The trailer goes back to the dealer on October 17, an appointment we made back in May.)

Our destination today was the Fox Den Acres Campground in/near New Stanton, Pennsylvania.  The distance was 183 miles, but it was almost entirely on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, so the estimated driving time was ~3 hours.  We knew it would take longer, and figured on 3-1/2 hours.  Check-in time was 1 PM, so we targeted a 10 AM departure.

Seen in this photo is part of what makes this a resort; two swimming pools.  Both have already been drained for the coming winter weather.  There was also a lot of mature landscaping (trees), a playground, a recreation room, and a free shuttle service to the Hersheypark complex itself.

We were ready to go on time, but had to exit our site differently than we intended.  I have mentioned previously that the interior roads (at least in the Carrousel Circle section) at Hersheypark Camping Resort are narrow and the sites are short.  As a result, tow vehicles (for trailers) and towed vehicles (behind motorhomes), end up parked across the front or rear of the sites rather than inline with the main unit.  This also means that when reattaching vehicles, they are out in the street blocking traffic from getting through.  The roads are also one-way.

The camper to our left had his truck parked with the rear end protruding into the front of our site such that I could not pull out forward and get around him.  That was not a problem, however, as the sites behind us had been vacated, and I could back straight out of our site into the site behind us and then go forward to the left to exit.  As we were getting the rig ready to go, the neighbor let me know that he was leaving to go to the AACA meet, and would not be in our way.  Great!  I could just pull out after all.  But right after he left, another camper a few sites down to our left (naturally) positioned his pickup truck in front of his trailer and proceeded to hook up.  We were ready to go, so I followed ‘plan B’ and backed out of our site at 10:15 AM.  By the time we got to the stop light, at the exit from the park, and turned right onto PA-39, it was 10:30 AM.

Our rig in site #200 in the Carrousel Circle part of Hersheypark Camping Resort (W3W=””).  This section had three rows of RV sites, all pull-through with full hookups (including cable TV) and 50A power.  The roads were asphalt and the sites were gravel and reasonably level.  It was the only section of the part with these specific features.  Other sections had back-in sites with grass, or tent sites, some sites with W/E, and some with no hookups.  The resort also had sections that were just cabins.  But our site more than met our needs, as we basically slept there at night and had breakfast there in the morning before leaving for the day and evening.

PA-39 only went a short distance in that direction (S/E) and we were very quickly on US-322 West.  This highway was posted at 50 to 55 mph, but a disabled motorhome at one of the stoplights had a lane blocked and traffic backed up for quite some distance.  I think it took at least 15 minutes to get past the restriction, but it seemed a lot longer.  I felt sorry for the motorhome owners, but a police car was positioned behind them with the emergency lights flashing, so they were safe while they waited for the tow truck.  Still, we knew the feeling of being broken down

From US-322, we took I-283 South to I-76 West, southeast of Harrisburg.  I-76 is the Pennsylvania Turnpike (toll road).  It no longer has toll booths and operates on the EZ-Pass electronic tolling system or Toll-by-Mail.  We have an active EZ-Pass transponder, so we were able to roll right along; 161 of our 183 miles were on the Turnpike.

The Turnpike was in much better condition that we remember from years ago.  It was posted 70 mph in most places, and the road surface made that a realistic speed.  I set the cruise control at 64 or 65 mph unless the maximum speed was posted lower.  That was just fast enough to allow the transmission to shift up into 9th gear and drop the engine rpm back to around 1,700 rpm.  The weather was nice initially, and it was an easy, beautiful drive through the mountains.

Between Harrisburg, where we got on I-76, and New Stanton, where we got off, there were four tunnels:  Blue Mountain, Kittatinny Mountain, Tuscarora Mountain, and Alleghany Mountain.  Atlantic Canada doesn’t bother with tunnels, they just run their roads straight up and down the sides of steep terrain.  U.S. Interstate highways, on the other hand, generally limit the grade to 6%, up and down.  After spending most of the summer in Atlantic Canada, the F-150 pulled the Airstream up and down the modest grades of I-76 with ease.  We had researched tunnel restrictions, and paid attention to the signs while driving, and concluded that we did not need to shut off our propane refrigerator to go through the tunnels.  We made it through all four tunnels without incidence.  (Obviously if we had had a problem we would have been on the evening news.)

We stopped at the Sidling Hill Service Plaza but all of the truck/RV parking was back-in, so we didn’t stop.  We finally stopped at the North Midway Service Plaza, which had pull-through Truck and RV parking, to use the restrooms and stretch our legs.  (Remember, our fresh water pump decided to fail this morning.)  Those two stops, combined, added about 20 minutes to our arrival time at Fox Den Acres Campground.

I-70 comes in from the south and joins I-76 in Breezewood.  The Turnpike carries both names until they separate in New Stanton, I-70 heading west towards Columbus, Ohio while I-76 heads NNW towards Pittsburg.  Somewhere after this merger, we finally caught up to rain, which varied from light to heavy enough that I had to put the windshield wipers on the slower continuous speed.  At New Stanton, getting from I-76 to Fox Den Acres Campground took us through one of the most interesting (and convoluted) set of highway interchanges I had even driven.


Our truck-trailer combination is 49 feet long.  Our site at Fox Den Acres Campground was long enough to hold a second RV of the same length.  I selected this angle for the photo to show the all colors on the hill behind the site.

We arrived at Fox Den Acres Campground at 2 PM.  The office was closed, but our site information was on a posted list and campground maps were available.  We were assigned site 110 in the pull-thru section (W3W = ”lifesaving.mixture.circulation”), which was mostly empty.  The pull-through sites appeared to be about 100 feet long.  Our best guess is that each site used to be two back-in sites, as there are still double water spigots, double sewer connections, and double cable TV hookups but only one electrical box, all with 50/30/20A power.

Even though we were only here for one night, we did a complete camp set up.  We had left the rain behind by the time we arrived, so we did not have to make camp in the rain.  I presumed the campground was on a well for fresh water, so this included the water filter and softener, the sewer hose, and the grey hose that we use for the black tank rinse connection.  I filled the black tank to 80% of its capacity, dumped it, and then filled it to 50%.  We have been getting false readings of 35% full after I dump the black tank, indicating a buildup that confuses the sensor, so tomorrow morning I want to get it full, dump it, refill it, and dump it again before we pull out.

When camp was made, Linda located a Walmart Supercenter in Greensburg, about 5 miles away.  We have overnight lows in the 30s (F) starting tonight, and needed some basic gloves for working outside when we break camp.  It was 3 PM when we left, and traffic was crazy heavy, on the narrow, twisty back road we decided to take.  We stopped at a Sheetz filling station in south Greensburg on the way back to camp and re-fueled the F-150.

Dinner was leftovers from last night’s meal (vegan Italian sausages with sauteed onion and red bell pepper, and broccoli) plus Wegman’s Baby Gold Potatoes (microwaved).  After dinner, I e-mailed Woodland Airstream with three additional repair items, including the water pump, and then worked on this blog post after dinner while we finished the open pack of Golden (Lemon) Oreos for dessert.  We had popcorn later while watching the newest episode of The Great British Baking Show.

202210_03-06 – A family visit and miscellaneous stuff, Hershey, Pennsylvania

MONDAY 03 October

(There are 8 photos in this post, distributed throughout the text with captions.  Seven of them were taken with a Google Pixel 6 Pro smartphone.  I don’t know what phone was used for the barn photo.)

Juniper-the-Cat is not really fond of travel days, although she has gotten to be a much better traveler over the course of our trip.  She doesn’t like the motion of the truck, especially on bumpy roads (who does?), and she does not like being confined in a carrier, even though we use the one we got from Paul and Nancy, which is about 4 times the volume of the small one we use to move her between the truck and trailer, and allows her to sit or stand as well as lie down and easily change positions.  I think it’s more a question of being resigned to her fate, but she no longer complains very much like she did early on.

Or perhaps it’s because Linda started keeping her informed about our travel and camping situation.  She tells Juniper the day before we move the trailer that “tomorrow is a travel day,” and when we get where we are going, she tells her how many “sleeps” we have before we have to move the trailer again.  Sleeping is very important to Juniper, at least I presume it is because that is what she spends most of her time doing.  Juniper is a very smart cat, of course, so I’m sure all of this makes perfectly good sense to her and relieves the anxiety of the unknown.

Our main reason for being in the Hershey, Pennsylvania area was to visit with Linda’s brother, Ron, and her sister, Sr. Marilyn.  We had planned to visit with Ron’s wife, Mary, too but she had to travel back to Connecticut to help nurse her oldest brother following a kidney transplant.  Mary is actually a nurse, with a Ph.D. so highly qualified to provide the needed care and assistance.  We were sorry to miss her on this visit, but understood the necessity of her being away.

We are in the Carrousel Circle section of the Hersheypark Camping Resort.  All 86 sites in this section are pull through 50A FHU with cable TV.  The entire RV park lies along a roughly NE to SW line, and our site is oriented with the front of the trailer pointing ~EES, such that this time of year we get the morning sun coming almost straight in the front/bedroom window, which is nice, actually.  The entrance is off of Hersheypark Drive / PA-39, which runs N-S at this point (even through it is an E-W highway).  Swatara Creek runs along the N/NW edge of the park and a Freight Line (train track) runs along the SE edge of the park and is marked as “Operational 24/7” on the park map.  It’s a much bigger park than just the section we are in, but due to rain, and wanting to spend time with Linda’s siblings, we never managed to walk or drive the rest of the park.

We left around 10 AM to drive to Ron and Mary’s house.  We brought the Instant Pot and a couple of bags of food items, to be used later to prepare dinner.  Today was mostly a day to just sit and visit and catch up on the big and little aspects of our lives since last we saw each other in person.  But one of the reasons Marilyn was here, was so the three siblings could go through the many boxes of possessions Ron brought back to the house when their mother moved into assisted living almost 20 years ago.

The boxes were all stored in a crawl space off of Ron’s woodworking shop in the basement, so step 1 was to get them out of there.  Ron worked in the crawl space, moving boxes to the opening.  I stood on a workbench at the opening and moved them down to the extension table on his table saw.  Linda and Marilyn then moved them to the floor.  All told, I think there were about 3 dozen boxes.  Fortunately, most of them were labeled.

At 3 PM I drove back to the Hersheypark Camping Resort (HpCR)  to give Juniper her afternoon kibble and refresh her water.  I tend to take PA-422 back and forth as it is the most direct route between the resort and Ron’s house.  PA-422 goes through Hershey and Palmyra and is posted 35 mph except in those two areas, where the speed limit is 25 mph.  From mid-morning to late afternoon, it is chocked with bumper-to-bumper traffic that often does not even move at the posted limits.  I took a slightly different route back using Hersheypark Drive and PA-39 east, which took me past the Hersheypark complex with the Giant Center where the Antique Automobile Club of America’s (AACA) Hershey Meet (antique car show and meeting) would take place starting tomorrow and running through Saturday.  It’s a very large gathering, and there were vintage vehicles driving around on the streets in town.  We had even seen them heading south towards Hershey on US-15 yesterday.

For dinner, Marilyn made a salad and Linda made Pozole.  Mary called sometime after dinner and we had a group chat with her.


TUESDAY 04 October

We each had a cup of coffee this morning, but did not have breakfast in the rig.  We left around 9 AM to drive to Ron’s house, but stopped at the Panera near the RV Resort and got some Hazelnut coffee (our favorite).  Linda got an everything bagel (her favorite) and I got cranberry orange muffins (my favorite).  There was a WEISS supermarket in the same shopping plaza, so we popped in there for a few things for lunch, snacks, dinner, and dessert.  At Ron and Mary’s house, there was no room in the freezer for the Marie Callender’s Crumb Top Apple Pie (which happens to be vegan), so Ron baked it right away.

The three siblings spent most of the day going through the boxes of their mother’s things and sorting them into disposition categories:  trash, donate, sell, and keep.  Linda was tasked with seeing if our daughter would be willing to handle selling things on Ebay.

This photo of the bus barn was from our lawn care guy (Keith).  He said it had not rained during the preceding week.  The east side of the roof was mostly shingled and there were two guys up there working.  I don’t know if the west side of the roof had been done yet, but I was glad to see this finally being worked on, especially after an absence of rain.

I kept my nose out of their business, worked puzzles on my iPad, and checked on propane restrictions on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, which will be the major portion of our next re-positioning.  I drove back to the RV Park around 2:30 to check on Juniper-the-Cat.  On the way I stopped at Fine Wine & Good Spirits (state wine & liquor store), in the same shopping plaza we had visited this morning, to buy some Black Tower Rivaner wine.  I had checked online, so I knew they had it in stock, but it turned out they only had one bottle, and it was the larger size.  I really like this wine, however, so I bought it.  If nothing else, it will serve as a reminder when we get home that I need to find a way to get locally, or have it shipped from somewhere if that is possible.  I then stopped at the Sheetz filling station on the other side of PA-39 to fill the F-150.  I hung around the trailer for a while to spend some time with Juniper and work at my laptop computer.  While I was there, I got a text message from our lawn care guy (Keith) with a photo of the barn.

When I returned to the house, the crew had knocked off for the day and were watching a movie, Margin Call, so I got to see the second half.  One of the more interesting things they had found while I was away was something than none of us had ever seen or even heard of before; fractional currency.  From Wikipedia:

Fractional currency, also referred to as shinplasters, was introduced by the United States federal government following the outbreak of the Civil War. These low-denomination banknotes of the United States dollar were in use between 21 August 1862 and 15 February 1876, and issued in denominations of 3, 5, 10, 15, 25, and 50 cents across five issuing periods.

The obverse (front) side of the three fractional currency notes sealed in a plastic sleeve, with the obverse side of a modern US Dollar bill for size comparison.

The reverse sides of the same three fractional currency bills, with the reverse side a modern US Dollar bill for size comparison.

For dinner, Marilyn again made a salad and Linda made vegan Cioppino (fish stew) in the Instant Pot.  We had the Marie Callender’s apple pie (with Cool Whip) for dessert.  Yum.  After dinner we played Bananagram.  It’s a word game, so it was not my forte.  Mary called while we were playing.  We stopped to have another group chat with her, so I got a temporary reprieve.

Back at camp, we caught the last half of FBI International and the full episode of FBI Most Wanted.  Linda headed off to bed right after that.  I stayed up and put the finishing touches on the blog post for Saturday and Sunday and published it.  I also copied the most recent photos from my phone to my computer and selected/processed some for this post.


WEDNESDAY 05 October

Breakfast was egg and cheese sandwiches using bagel thins.  Because they are bagels (hole in the middle), it’s important to have the cheese side up.  We learned this lesson the first time we used them for a heated sandwich.

Since we would be at Ron ad Mary’s house again for most of the day, and they have a clothes washer and dryer, today was laundry day for us.  Since I wasn’t involved in the selecting and sorting of their mom’s possessions, I took on the laundry duty.  I do the laundry at home, but the task seems to have fallen to Linda on this trip.  On previous trips south during snowbird season, I usually did the laundry.  I think the difference this time was that we were initially using the machines in Paul and Nancy’s American Eagle motorhome, so Linda would take it there and then hang out with Nancy and work on meal planning and/or preparation.  It is also often the case that RV park/campground laundry rooms are being used by women.  Not exclusively, of course, as there are solo male RVers, but that has never deterred me in the past.

We visited Hershey’s Chocolate World store to pick up the last of our souvenirs and gifts before we return home on Monday.  We were there on Thursday the 6th, but I have positioned the photo here.

We left around 10 AM and went by way of PA-39 west and Hersheypark Drive.  This route took us past the Hersheypark complex where the AACA Meet was taking place, and I wanted Linda to see it.  The meet started yesterday and runs through Friday, and is a really big event.  The complex includes the Giant Center, Hershey Arena, and Hersheypark Stadium, as well as the Amusement Park and Hershey’s Chocolate World attraction and store.  The extensive parking lot was packed, and the grass area on the other side of Hersheypark Drive was in full use for additional parking and dry camping.  This venue is also used for the Hershey RV Show is held every September, which vies with the Tampa RV Supershow (in January) for being the largest RV show event in the country.

When we arrived at Ron and Mary’s house, Ron, Marilyn, and Linda resumed working on their mom’s possessions.  They had unboxed everything yesterday and Linda was using Google Lens on her Pixel 6 smartphone to identify objects and research what value they might have.  Ron went out for a while at 11 AM to deliver food boxes, something he and Mary have done for a while.  As I mentioned earlier, I started doing the laundry, and worked multi-Sudoku and Pic-a-Pix puzzles on my iPad, to pass the time.  Linda and I both made use of the guest bathroom to take nice, long, hot showers.

By early afternoon, the siblings trio had finished what they wanted to get done and come back upstairs from the basement.  Linda had chatted with our daughter (Meghan) to see if she would be interested in trying to sell any items of value on Ebay.  She was, so we will have to return to Ron and Mary’s at some point in the future with just our F-150 so we have room to transport everything.

This photo of Ron and Mar’s house was also from Thursday the 6th, the only day of really nice weather we had during our 5 nights and 4 full days in the Hershey, Pennsylvania area.

We had leftovers for lunch and then Marilyn prepared a batch of brownies in a 9”x9” glass baking dish and put it in the oven to bake.  We then settled in to play a few rounds (10) of Mexican Train using and set of “double-nine” dominos.  A standard set of dominos only goes up to a double-six, while Mexican Train is often played with a set of “double-15” tiles.  Ron’s son, Brian, had called while Ron was out and Ron called him back.

At Mary’s (long distance) recommendation (last night), we went out to Sawasdee Thai restaurant in Hershey for dinner.  Linda had also found it using the Happy Cow app and it had 4-1/2 stars on Trip Advisor.  With the AACA Meet in town, we were a bit concerned that all the restaurants in the area might be slammed at dinner time, so Ron had called and made a reservation for the four of us at 6 PM.  It turned out to be unnecessary, but it was nice to see our booth waiting for us with a “Reserved” sign on it.  The restaurant was on the small side, seating perhaps 40 people when full, but there were about half that many in the time we were there.  It had a clean, contemporary décor with small touches of Thai culture, and I found it a pleasant place to eat.

One woman was handling all of the tables.  She was busy, but very good.  Linda ordered (vegan) Drunken Noodles, a stir-fried dish made with wide rice noodles, tofu, dark soy sauce, bell pepper, egg, onion, carrot, broccoli, and Thai basil.  I ordered (vegan) Thai Smoked Chili and Cashew , also a stir-fried dish with Thai smoked chili, tofu, carrot, pineapple, cashew, onion, and bell pepper with dark brown sauce.  Marilyn ordered Pad Thai with pork (a classic), and Ron ordered Pineapple Fried Rice with shrimp (also a great choice).  Linda and I shared our dishes, while Marilyn and Ron shared their dishes.  It was agreed by all that the food was very good.

On Thursday afternoon (the 6th) we were hiking (walking) along the north side of Quittapahilla Creek in the Quittie Creek Nature Park (Annville, Pennsylvania) when I saw this fisherman in the water.

We had dessert back at the house.  Linda and I had the last of the apple pie from yesterday, while Ron and Marilyn had some of the brownie that she had made earlier in the day.  We had just finished dessert when Mary called for her evening chat.  Ron put the call on speaker so we could all be part of the conversation and we all talked for quite a while.  When that was concluded, Linda and I took our clean laundry and our iPads and returned to our trailer.  I took PA-422 most of the way, as it was basically deserted at 9 PM.

As soon as we got back to the trailer, we put all of our clean clothes away and then slipped into our evening “comfy” clothes to relax for a bit before going to bed.  I worked on this post for a while, adding the bits and pieces from today and filling in details from the previous two days.


THURSDAY 06 October

The weather forecast for today was for partly cloudy skies, no rain, and a high temperature in the low 70s (F).  Linda had originally planned to get out our propane grill and cook / serve the main meal of the day for the four of us at our trailer at the Hersheypark Camping Resort.  She changed her mind yesterday, realizing that it would be more convenient and comfortable to prepare, serve, and consume the meal at Ron and Mary’s house.  We wanted Ron to see the trailer, however (Marilyn had seen it before) so we devised a plan.

We drove back to Ron and Mary’s house around 10 AM and stopped at Duck Donuts on the way.  I didn’t know anything about before going in, other than the fact that it was o PA-422 in Hershey and looked like an interesting place.  And it was.  They only made/sold cake style donuts, and they were all made to order.  They had a machine that featured a depositor and frying tray and you could watch your donut(s) being made.  They were not filled with anything (cake donuts never are) but they had a wide variety of topping combination.  I got a maple cinnamon sugar donut.  It was still very warm when they put it in a box for me, and I took it with us to Ron and Mary’s house.

For our hike through Quittie Creek Nature Park on Thursday, Ron lent Linda a set of hiking poles and showed her how to adjust them correctly.  She got used to them walking on the flat trail that ran along the north edge of Quittapahilla Creek.  We then headed into the woods on a trail that had elevation change, and she got to put them to the test.  I think someone will be getting a nice (serious) pair of hiking poles for Christmas, if not sooner.

At the house, we moved our Hersheypark Camping Resort hang tag from our truck to Ron’s minivan.  Ron then drove the four of us to Hershey’s Chocolate World so Linda and I could shop for some souvenirs / gifts.  From there, we went to the RV Resort so Ron could see the campground and our trailer.  We left our Chocolate World purchases at the trailer and headed back to the house to have lunch, which consisted of various leftovers.

After lunch, we headed to Quittie Creek Nature Park in Annville for some easy hiking (walking).  Ron lent Linda a pair a good/adjustable hiking poles and showed her how to set them to the correct length.  We then headed east from the parking lot on the flat trail along the north edge of Quittapahilla Creek.  When we got to where the trail crossed South Spruce Street, we started back and then picked up a branch trail through the woods, which eventually rejoined the Creekside trail.  Back at the parking lot, we all walked out onto the wooden bridge over the creek for the view, and I got a nice photo looking upstream from there.

Before heading back to the house, Ron stopped for gas and then drove to the nearby WEIS supermarket.  Linda and I picked up some plant-based Italian sausages, an onion, and a red bell pepper for our main meal, and a Marie Callender’s Crumb Top Cherry Pie (vegan) and Ben & Jerry’s “Cherry Garcia” non-dairy “ice cream” for dessert.  Ron already had chicken and pork chops at home, but he and Marilyn picked up some broccoli and bread for the meal.

The view of Quittapahilla Creek looking upstream from the bridge near the parking lot of Quittie Creek Nature Park.

Back at the house, Linda started the oven, set it to 400 (F), and got the cherry pie out of its plastic wrapper.  When the oven was up to temperature, she put the pie in and set a timer on her Fitbit.  We then sat outside on the patio under the pergola in the back yard and enjoyed the lovely weather as we had a nice chat.  Around 5:30 PM, Ron lit the grill and started preparing the chicken and pork chops.  Marilyn made a salad and Linda sauteed the onions and red bell pepper to go with our Italian sausages.  Ron sliced and buttered (vegan) the bread and put it in the oven, and then handled the grilling of the various meats / substitutes.  When Linda’s timer went off, I pulled the pie out, added the crumb topping, and put it back in for 15 minutes.

Somewhere in the midst of all that dinner preparation, Linda got a call from our son.  He was on the way back to their house, having just collected his two daughters from their respective schools, and they wanted to chat with us.  Sadie, who will be 4 next Thursday, knew when her birthday was, and how old she was going to be, but both girls also knew that we would (finally) be back home in just 4 more days.

Our last supper (for now) with Ron and Mary was really nice.  It had been both a productive and fun week for all us, but especially for them.  It had been quite a while since they were all together, and they really enjoy each other’s company.  We helped clear the dishes and then gathered up our stuff, which included Linda’s Instant Pot and other cooking related things she had brought over earlier in the week.  Hugs and goodbyes for now, and we were out the door, in the truck, and on our way back to camp.

20221001&02 – A camp day and a travel day – goodbye NY, hello PA

SATURDAY 01 October

We had originally planned to visit Letchworth State Park today, but the forecast was for cloudy conditions and we were both feeling like we could use a ‘down’ day in camp.  We had made good use of our time for the last three days, visiting museums and wineries, and I had not been able to keep up with the blog posts.  It was not that I didn’t work on them, I did, it was just that I took a lot of photos, and we saw some amazing things, and it was taking me more time than usual to process all of that into blog posts.

Linda had scanned for TV channels when we first arrived on Tuesday and found quite a few, most importantly, CBS and PBS.  Besides watching some TV shows in the evening this past week, she was able to watch the University of Michigan at the University of Iowa football game today.

This photo is from last night’s sunset.  The windows in our Airstream Flying Cloud travel trailer are tinted, so I rarely get a photograph of it that shows the interior from the outside.  The dinette is in the rear, and Linda usually sits on this side by the door.  She’s working on something on her iPad.  We usually pull the shades/covers over the windows once it starts to get dark, but had not done that yet.

By the afternoon, the clouds had cleared out and we had blue skies and temperatures in the upper 50s (F), so a visit to Letchworth State Park might have worked out after all.  But no regrets for not going.  We did leave the RV park for a while mid-afternoon to make one last run to Wegman’s supermarket in Canandaigua and fuel up the truck for our travel day tomorrow.

By the time we got back to camp, there were five (5) Airstream travel trailers in the RV park, including ours.  Two had been here since before we arrived and several others had already come and gone.  Even though a lot of rigs had come in yesterday and today, it was still an unusually high number of Airstream units (not in a caravan), and had been that way all week.

One new arrival was just two sites down from us, and we were able to make the acquaintance of Paul and Amy from London, Ontario.  (Airstream owners tend to be especially friendly towards other owners, and have a tradition of flashing headlights as sign of recognition when passing in opposite directions on the road.)  They had recently purchased a 2012 Flying Cloud 27 Front Bed unit, and this was their first big outing.  They were headed to Liberty RV Park in New Jersey (the Statue of Liberty is visible from there) and planned to visit Manhattan.  They were clearly excited to be on the road we enjoyed interacting with that excitement.

Our last sunset in New York State, as seen from our site at Canandaigua-Rochester KOA Holiday in Farmington, and partially reflected in the front window cover of our trailer.

The unit looked brand knew, something that Airstreams are capable of maintaining for a long time with appropriate care.  Amy had done something interesting with interior window covers and we were invited in to have a look.  Paul and I had a quick conversation about RV electrical utilities, “surge” protectors, and turning the powerpole circuit breaker off when connecting and disconnecting.  I wish we had been able spend more time getting to know them, and to make the acquaintance of all the Airstream owners who passed through the park, but we were busy/gone, and/or they were busy/gone, and/or it was chilly outside as the sun got lower in the western sky and we just were not outside very much under those conditions.

Before dinner, and before it got dark, I checked the level of the propane tank we had been using for a quite a while now.  It was close to empty, so I manually switched to the other tank and removed the empty one to have it filled.  I carried it over to the RV parks filling station and they returned it on one of their golf carts.  The guy called in the amount to the office, 6.1 gallons.  At 4.2 lbs/gal that was 25.6 pounds.  It was only the second time we had bought propane since we left in mid-June.  The last time was only 8 pounds, so we had only used ~34 pounds of propane in 109 nights of camping.  We had 8 nights and 9 days left in our grand tour, and will arrive home with plenty of propane to spare.

I went to the office to pay for the propane.  While I was there I bought a couple of sewer hose accessories that I needed.  One of them was a replacement for something I already had that was broken, and I put it in the trash.

In a repeat of last night, the sun and clouds put on another dazzling display of color at sunset so I tried to grab a few photos.

The core of our last sunset in New York was pretty intense.


SUNDAY 02 October

Today was a major repositioning day for us as we moved the rig from the Canandaigua-Rochester KOA Holiday in Farmington, New York to the Hersheypark Camping Resort (HpCR) in Hummelstown, Pennsylvania.  It was a longer day than we usually plan, ~250 miles and a little over five (5) hours driving time.  This was our 6th State of the trip (including Michigan).  We targeted a 10 AM departure as the check-in time at the HpCR was 3 PM.

Paul and Amy (from the 2012 Airstream Flying Cloud) were also leaving this morning, but before pulling out we exchanged e-mail addresses with them.  I chatted briefly with Paul about Harvest Hosts and Boondockers Welcome.  They had heard of HH but not BW, even though it is now part of HH.  They live relatively close to us, so perhaps we will see them at our BW host site someday.

Our route in New York started with us headed west on Canandaigua Farmington Townline Road and then jiggy-jogging our way south to NY-21 South, which we followed through Naples (a lovely town) to Cohocton.  From there we took NY-371 S to I-390 E to I-86 E (through Bath and Savona) to I-99 S / US-15 S.  The drive through New York was both beautiful and dramatic, along deep valley floors bordered by long, high ridges.  We had fair weather the whole way, which was a plus, and saw increasing signs of fall colors in the trees.  We were still a bit early for full fall colors, but the weather was decidedly chilly.  Had we stay at the KOA this evening, the low was forecast to be 34 (F).

The I-99 designation ended at the PA border, but the road continued as US-15 S.  It was still a good 4-lane, divided, limited access freeway.  We speculated as to why Pennsylvania had not sought to make this I-99.  Linda wondered if it might have grades that were too steep to meet Interstate Highway design parameters, but we did not look for an answer to that question.

The sign identifying the Pennsylvania Welcome Center on US-15 S just after entering the state from New York.

A few miles into Pennsylvania, we stopped at the Pennsylvania Welcome Center around noon to use the restrooms and stretch our legs.  Besides information, it was a truck weigh scale, a scenic overlook, had food and beverages available, and was just a really nice building with a great view of a lake, dam, river, and valley to the west.  Because of the length of the trip, we snacked on pretzels and veggie sticks, something we rarely do while traveling.

Most of our trip in PA was on US-15 S, until we got near Harrisburg, as it was the most direct route between our starting and ending points.  It was a good road and another wonderful drive through deep valleys, occasionally climbing up and around small mountains.  Eventually the limited access aspect of the road disappeared and then the divided aspect as well, but it continued to be a good road with moderate traffic on a Sunday.

Somewhere along US-15 in Pennsylvania we finally caught up to the rain and it was with us, in varying strength, for the rest of the trip.  Starting in Williamsport, US-15 roughly followed a river that eventually joined up with the Susquehanna River in Northumberland, affording us views of the Susquehanna River Valley and the river itself.

The Pennsylvania Welcome Center on US-15 S as seen from the parking lot.  It was a very nice building with lots of services and a scenic view.

The only place we encountered stop and go traffic (mostly stop, it seemed) was going through the long, commercial stretch of US-15 S in Selinsgrove, home to the Susquehanna Valley Mall.  As we approached the greater Harrisburg area (from the north), we eventually left US-15 for US-22 to I-81 N to I-83 S to US-322 E to PA-39 N and, finally, to Sweet St. (no kidding), which was the entrance to the Hersheypark Camping Resort.

We arrived at the HpCR and queued up behind several rigs at 15:21.  It took about 10 minutes for Linda to get us registered as there were three check-ins ahead of us.  The rig in front of us pulled out, and I pulled up, just as she returned to our truck.  We were assigned site #200 (W3W=”“) in the large section of 50A FHU pull-through sites that bordered the entrance road.  The campground is just off PA-39, but was very quiet.

The campground was already busy and expected to be busier, as we had (unknowingly) booked our five nights here to coincide with the annual Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA) Antique Car Show—the largest show of its kind in the U.S.—at the nearby Hersheypark Arena and Giant Center complex.  This is the same venue used for the massive Hershey RV Show each September.

The Pennsylvania Welcome Center on US-15 S as seen from the rear deck.

The interior roads at HpCR were a gravel embedded asphalt while the sites were a hard-packed gravel.  Both were a bit narrower and more closely spaced than we expected, and this section of the Resort was heavily treed.  That might have been a challenge, but the sites were angled, which made it relatively easy to get the rig into the site and get the truck aligned with the trailer.  The sites were also short, so once the truck was unhooked we had to park it at an angle across the front of the site/trailer to get it off the road.

From what we could see, it was a nice enough RV park, just not what we had expected given the price and that it is owned/operated by Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company.  I think we had envisioned something a bit more like Walt Disney World’s Fort Wilderness.  But it was fine for our needs, and was in a prime location.

We had to make camp in a light/spotty drizzle, but were glad it was not a heavy/steady rain.  We had the trailer leveled and the truck unhitched, water and electrical power connected, and the trailer ready to use, inside and out, by 16:01, just 40 minutes from when we arrived.  Because the Resort is on municipal water, I did not hook up the fresh water filter and softener.  If I had done that, the complete set up process would have taken an hour.  The utilities were all conveniently located close together, and the 50A RV electrical socket was in good condition (often not the case) allowing for a tight connection.  The box also featured cutouts on the bottom edge for the shorepower cord, allowing the cord to hang straight down and the lid to be (mostly) closed.  That was a nice feature that I rarely see.  (Even our RV electrical boxes at home lack this feature).

Once we were settled in, Linda called her brother (Ron) to him know we were here.  After a long travel day, and with persistent rain, we were content to just relax at home for the evening.  We had left-over vegetable soup and hot dogs for dinner and watched a couple of PBS programs later.  After the TV programs, I finished the blog post for September 30, as well as a special post with some miscellaneous photos that Linda took over the last week or so, but not make it into blog posts at the time.

HpCR lies between a small tributary to the Susquehanna River and an active rail line.  The trains came through every now and then, but rarely sounded their horns.  Mostly we heard and felt the deep rumble of the locomotives and a faint clickity-clack of the wheels.  I was unaware of them once I went to bed and fell asleep.

20221000 – Miscellaneous Photos Taken by Linda

Special Blog Post

At the end of September 2022, I was going through our photos (Sony SLT and two smartphones) to make sure they were backed up to our Western Digital Passport portable disc drive, as well as backing up the Word documents and processed photos for each blog post.  I try to keep up with this task on a daily basis, but sometimes I get behind.  In backing up the photos from Linda’s phone I came across some that I really liked but had not used in a blog post at the time they were taken.  We take a lot of photos, and only a small percentage of them end up in the blog.  Here are six previously unseen photos, all taken by Linda on her Google Pixel 6 smartphone.

Our Boondockers Welcome host, Rob (The Lake House) baked a loaf of bread (walnut & date) and some cookies for us.  He knew from our Facebook interactions that we were both vegan, so the break and cookies were too.

When we were trying to set up our travel trailer in site #24 at Hadley’s Point Campground in Bar-Harbor, Maine, a fellow Airstream  owner stopped and gave Bruce a small, pink flamingo.  Linda put it on the end of the cabinet by the door, just above our keys.

While we were camped in the Bar Harbor, Maine area we played a round of miniature golf at Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf.  This is Bruce lining up a shot.

While driving through Gorham, New Hampshire on US-2, we spotted this house.  We were camped in the area for four nights, so the next time we went past it headed east, Linda got this photo.  As the saying goes “our kids and (some of) our money went to U of M.”  (It was money well spent.)  It’s not our Alma Mater, but it was still neat to see this so prominently displayed so far from the center of the(ir) collegiate universe.

We had read reviews about the “camp store” at Brookwood RV Resort in Ticonderoga, New York.  Since we were camped at this RV park for two nights, we checked it out.  It was more like a general store than a camp store.  Linda made me try on the moose hat for this photo, but wouldn’t let me buy it.

I did a whole post on our visit to the Star Trek Experience – Original Series attraction in Ticonderoga, New York but did not include a photo of this partial mock-up of the NCC-1701/7 Shuttle.


20220930 – Finger Lakes Wine Trails and Watkins Glen State Park, New York

FRIDAY 30 September

(The wine trail photos were shot on a Google Pixel 6.  The Watkins Glen SP photos were shot on a SONY SLT a99v.  The sunset photos were shot on a Google Pixel 6 Pro.  All photos in this post shot by Bruce.)

I was still working on this post on Sunday evening, so some of the details had already faded.  As best I recall, our day started much like most other days, except possibly for the Just Egg scramble with potatoes that Linda made for breakfast.  Beyond that, our day was mostly about wine and related beverages, with a brief pause in the middle to visit Watkins Glen State Park.

We originally intended to venture as far as Ithaca and dine at the Moosewood Restaurant, but that didn’t happen for several reasons.  First, and foremost, was that they were only open for lunch and dinner but not in-between, when we would have been there.  Secondarily, it is primarily a vegetarian restaurant (not vegan) and it was a long drive to get there and back.  Ithaca is a lovely town, of course, and home to Cornell University, so we would have liked to visit there again, but it was far enough out of our way that we needed a compelling reason to go.  Linda looked online and found another vegan place, but it was carry-out only, and you had to order online.  Eh, no.  We decided we would just taste wine, and buy some if we liked what was on offer.

The rest of this post is mostly photos with captions.

The Earle Estates Meadery on the west arm of the Seneca Lake Wine Trail.  It was not crowded while we were there, and we had a wonderful interaction with the young man who waited on us.  We found several offerings here that were to our taste and bought them.

The Fruit Farm Winery had the broadest offering of “fruit” (100% non-grape) wines.  We would a few things that we liked and bought them.  It was the only winery / tasting room we visited where we felt the staff needed some training in how to deal with people looking to try, and possibly buy, expensive fermented fruit juice.

There are dozens of wineries just around Seneca Lake, and over 100 wineries / tasting rooms, as well as cideries and distilleries, in the Finger Lakes region.  But many (most) of them do not belong to the Wine Trail associations (one for each lake), so we did not have much information about most of them.  The meadery and winery mentioned in the two photos above were the only ones where we planned to stop, so from there we just enjoyed the drive down to the Village of Watkins Glen to visit the eponymously named State Park.

The entrance sign for Watkins Glen State Park in Watkins Glen at the southern tip of Seneca Lake in New York.  Admission was free and we were able to find free parking on the street just across from the sign.  There was also reasonably priced and convenient Park parking nearby.

Linda on the path into Watkins Glen State Park across from the Visitor Center and Gift Shop buildings.

This model of the park greeted us on entry.  From the website:  “Watkins Glen State Park is the most famous of the Finger Lakes State Parks, with a reputation for leaving visitors spellbound. Within two miles, the glen’s stream descends 400 feet past 200-foot cliffs, generating 19 waterfalls along its course. The gorge path winds over and under waterfalls and through the spray of Cavern Cascade. Rim trails overlook the gorge.”

Heading into the gorge, we first encountered this wonderful area, but a much less “refined” experience is just around the corner (or across the bridge or up on the bluff).

What appeared initially as the end of small canyon was in fact of outlet end of the two miles of gorge described in the caption about the model above.  A very sturdy bridge, accessed by stairs in a tunnel, eventually took us across to the Gorge Trail on the other side.

Linda’s white shirt is just visible in the lower left corner of this photo.  She is about to head into the tunnel that goes up and to the left to the bridge.

Our first real look at the Gorge from the Gorge Trail on the other side of the bridge.  This is as far as we went.  The full trail was a mile long, wet, and had over 800 steps.  We had not budgeted the time, nor brought the appropriate clothing, for such a hike, but were glad to see what we saw.We left Watkin’s Glen State Park and continued up the Seneca Lake Wine Trail on the east side of Seneca Lake.  We only stopped at one winery but enjoyed the drive.  “Wine country” has it own special look, with acres and acres of vineyards (and orchards) and a wonderful variety of winey tasting rooms.

We returned to Seneca Falls briefly so Linda could pick up a few things at the Women’s Rights NHP gift shop.  We were headed back to the KOA and decided to vector off to one last winery on the east leg of the Keuka Lake Wine Trail.

We stopped at the J. R. Dill winery on our way north along the east side of Seneca Lake after visiting Watkins Glen SP.  The information we had indicated that they made mostly dry red wines, including Cabernet Franc wines and some others grapes we were not familiar with.  I am not a fan of red wines, in general, but Linda likes them, and we are always on the lookout for ones that we can both enjoy.  By this time, we needed something to eat.  They had soft pretzels on the menu, so we each had one.  We did buy a few things from here.

The man at Earle Estates Meadery gave us a card for a free tasting at the Rooster Tail Winery on the east side of Keuka Lake.  He also mentioned that they made a port, so we made that our last wine trail stop for the day and, as it turned out, for our visit to the Finger Lakes region of New York State.  They also had several things that we like, and bought.

We had a nice drive back to the KOA, where Linda started preparing dinner and I reorganized the back seat of the F-150 to properly store/transport all of the wine/mead we had collected throughout our grand tour.  We were finishing dinner when an otherwise ordinary sky exploded with color.  I grabbed my phone to see what I could capture.

This is the view looking west from the empty site just across the road from our site at the Canandaigua-Rochester KOA Holiday.

The view looking south at our patio site (#18) with a pink-purple glow in the sky.

The sunset eventually went orange red.  I zoomed in on a portion of it to try and capture the color.









20220929 – The Women’s Rights National Historic Park (NPS), Seneca Falls, New York

THURSDAY 28 September

(There are 11 photos in this post, all related to the Women’s Rights National Historic Park in Seneca Falls, New York.  They are distributed throughout the text, with captions.  I have used the mnemonic ‘WRNHP’ in place of the full name of the park.  All of the photos were taken with a Google Pixel 6 Pro smartphone.)

The National Park Service sign at the entrance to the WRNHP Visitors Center in downtown Seneca Falls, New York.

Our plan for today was to visit The Women’s Rights National Historical Park (WRNHP) in Seneca Falls, New York, and then visit a few wineries on the west side of Seneca Lake.  The morning was cool and cloudy, and Seneca Falls is near the north end of Cayuga Lake just a bit east of the north end of  Seneca Lake, so we figured we would start there and do the wineries in the afternoon, when the sun was supposed to make an appearance.  We ended up spending most of the day at the WRNHP.  The only winery we made it to was Belhurst Castle & Winery on the west side of Seneca Lake, just south of Geneva, New York., but we did not taste or by anything.

Linda on one of the benches outside the WRNHP Visitor Center.

We left around 11 AM and had a leisurely drive through the countryside, taking Canandaigaua Farmington Line Road east to County-28 north to Shortsville Road / County-13 and heading east.  We passed through Shortsville and Clifton Springs and then joined NY-96 east.  Just after joining NY-96, we stopped at the Byrne Dairy & Deli to fuel the truck, and then continued on through Phelps before getting to Waterloo, where we turned east on US-20 towards Seneca Falls.


All of these towns have a history, of course, and New York has a lot of these towns.  Clifton Springs, for instance, was once one of the many ‘health retreats’ that dotted the state.  Passing through downtown was like driving through a canyon whose walls were made of impressive hotels, now mostly re-purposed, but still very much in use and in decent condition.

The first (street level) floor of the WRNHP consisted of an information station, gift shop, theater and this installation of (approximately) life-sized bronze statues called The First Wave.  Some of the figures are likenesses of the key people who organized and/or were known to have attended the first Women’s Rights convention.  Other figures represent the general public, many of whom also attended the convention or were, symbolically and literally, ultimately affected by what started at this gathering.

In the 1840’s, the six nations of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy spanned across northern and western New York, including Seneca Falls.  Theirs’ was a matriarchal society in which women enjoyed all of the rights that were denied to American women at the time.  It is not recorded whether any members of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy attended the 1st Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, but the organizers of the convention were acquainted with their culture and echoed those rights in their own resolutions (demands).



The WRNHP (National Park Service) consisted of four distinct properties in the Seneca Falls / Waterloo area.  The main site consisted of the Wesleyan Methodist Church and Chapel, with the Visitor Center building in-between, located on Fall St. (US-20) at Mynderse St., in the heart of the quaint downtown district along the north side of the Seneca River (Cayuga-Seneca Canal).  (The falls for which Seneca Falls disappeared underwater as a result of the canal construction from 1905 to 1918).  We found free street parking close to the Visitor Center.  The other three sites were the Elizabeth Cady (& Henry) Stanton Home, on the other side of the canal, and the Thomas (& Mary Ann) M’Clintock House and Richard (& Jane) Hunt House, both in Waterloo.



Linda at the entrance to the Wesleyan Chapel.  The WRNHP Visitor Center sits between the Church and the Chapel, which sits at the southwest corner of Fall St. and Mynderse St.  Only a portion of the two side walls and much of the roof structure is original and the Church is boarded up as it needs serious restoration.  The first Women’s Rights convention actually stated outside the Chapel at that street corner as the Chapel door was locked and no one had a key.  A young boy was enlisted to climb in through a window and unlock the doors from the inside.


The WRNHP was authorized in 1980 to preserve the key historical sites associated with one of the most significant events in American History, the beginning of the organized movement for women’s suffrage, which ultimately became the movement for universal suffrage.  The first Women’s Rights Convention was held in the Wesleyan Chapel on July 19-20, 1848, with some 300 people in attendance over the two days.  Notable attendees included Lucretia Mott and Frederick Douglas.







This sign greets visitors as they enter the Wesleyan Chapel.

But the story begins well before that, of course, and is the reason that the Hunt and M’Clintock properties are part of the NHP.  On July 9, 1848 Jane Hunt hosted a social gathering at her home in Waterloo, just down the road from Seneca Falls,  in honor of a visit from Lucretia Mott, who had traveled to the area from Philadelphia to visit her sister in Rochester, New Yok.  In 1833 Mott, along with Mary Ann M’Clintock and nearly 30 other female abolitionists, organized the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society.  By 1848, Mott was a nationally known figure, but she and Elizabeth Cady Stanton had already crossed paths at the 1840 World Anti-Slavery Convention in London, England; a significant event for both of them.  Thus, the abolitionist and suffrage threads that run though American history were intertwined early on, and the Visitor Center tells the story of the struggle for women’s rights in this larger context of the struggle for human rights for all people.

The inside of the Wesleyan Chapel.  The balconies along the sides were removed long, long ago, but the pockets for the supporting timbers were still visible in the original sections of the side walls.  In place of the balconies, the NPS hung murals depicting convention attendees.  The mural across the back wall depicts five of the key figures in the organization and operation of the convention.  The pews would have been more closely spaced and wider.  (The cost to fully restore the building to the way it existed in 1848 would be prohibitive.)


The central staircase in the house where Elizabeth Cady Stanton resided with her family and carried on much of the work that followed the first Women’s Rights Convention.  The house was modified over the years after the Stanton family lived there.  It has not been restored or “furnished” for display, and there are no plans to do so, so the interior was not particularly interesting, photographically.  But how it looked was not important; what happened here was.


Over the course of two days, over 300 people attended and participated in the convention, so this building was packed with people.  The Declaration of Sentiments, patterned after the Declaration of Independence, was read, amended, and adopted.  Eleven resolutions were then introduced, discussed, and voted on.  All of them were adopted, with only one having less than 100% support.

Besides the Wesleyan Chapel (and Church), the NHP includes three residential properties.  The Elizabeth Cady Stanton House is also in Seneca Falls, while the homes of  Mary Ann M’Clintock and Jane Hunt are in nearby Waterloo.  (Neither of these houses were open to the public during our visit.)  It was through M’Clintock that Lucretia Mott came to be involved in the convention.  At a social gathering (tea) at the Hunt home on July 9, 1848 that the idea of a convention was discussed and the decision made to organize it.  The dates, July 19 and 20, 1848 were selected because the Wesleyan Chapel was available, and so was Lucretia Mott.

A view of the exterior of the Elizbeth Cady Stanton house with the NPS sign indicating is part of a National Historical Park.  The house sits on four acres on the other side of the canal from downtown Seneca Falls.


The whole story of the fight for women’s suffrage in the U.S. has been documented and written about extensively, and the WRNHP Visitor Center gift shop had an excellent selection of books on the subject.  I will simply end with these facts, followed by a few more photographs:  The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed by Congress on June 5, 1919 and finally ratified by enough States on August 18, 1920.  Michigan was the second State to ratify the amendment.




Most of the artifacts and information displays were located on the 2nd floor of the WRNHP Visitor Center.  It was all very well done, as expected, but light levels were low and there was no way to get an overview photo.  Instead, I selected this on, showing a connection to Ypsilanti, Michigan to the events that subsequently unfolded as a result of the convention, and the decades of hard work that followed.


Some of the artifacts in the WRNHP Visitor Center were works of art and craft related to theme of the NHP, which goes beyond the convention and the struggle to secure the vote for women.  That struggle was ultimately about universal suffrage, and was wrapped up in the abolition of slavery.