THURSDAY 15 September
(There are no photos for this post.)
Today was another travel day, but with slightly different timing than usual. Yesterday morning, we signed up for the “honey wagon” service for this morning, as it would be a lot more convenient than stopping at the sewage dump station on the way out of the campground. The campground provides the service, and they start emptying waste tanks at 8 AM. They prioritize rigs that are pulling out that morning, but could not tell us more specifically when they would get to us.
As an aside, it is the 15th of the month. We started this trip on the 15th of June, and this was our 93rd day/night on the road. We will be home in 25 more days (24 more camping nights after tonight).
We had an estimated 4-1/2- to 5-hour drive to our next campground, which had an earliest check-in time of noon. We would have had to leave at 7:30 AM to be there by noon, but there was no reason to do that, and we needed to have the waste tanks emptied before we pulled out. There was a chance we would be the first rig they emptied, so we wanted to be up and ready in case they got to us early. Linda set an alarm last night on her Fitbit for 7 AM, but we were both awake and out of bed a little before that.
We each had one cup of coffee, half-caffe for me and high-test for Linda, and I had a banana for breakfast. We then started working on our departure preparations. While Linda started getting the interior of the trailer straightened up and battened down, I started on outside tasks. I moved the hitch stinger from the back seat floor of the F-150 to the receiver and secured it. I then packed up and moved our technology to the truck for travel, along with our wine box. (All of that sits flat on the floor in the back seat.)
Linda had finished the dishes, and our fresh water tank was at 56%, so I started disconnecting and stowing our shore water components. I hadn’t gotten very far when the honey wagon showed up around 8:15 AM. It was one of the older guys who works at the campground. He was very pleasant, and hoped we had enjoyed our visit to the area and our stay in their campground. Except for the initial problem with our original site (#24) we had, in fact, had a very nice stay. (The annoying things, like $4 for a load of laundry and pay showers, weren’t actually annoying as we did not need to use them.)
I finished disconnecting the shore water components and Linda helped drain the hoses. With all of that stowed away, I positioned the truck in front of the trailer with the stinger lined up with the hitch. I got it close on the first try and close enough to work on the second try. It usually takes more tries and adjustments than that. Linda turned the LevelMatePro+ on and I used the app on my phone to recall the hitch height for connecting the truck and trailer. It was only slightly off from the hitch so I adjusted it by eye, and proceeded to back the stinger in with no problem.
We secured the hitch and connected the safety chains, breakaway switch cable, and umbilical cord. When then set the WD jacks to the pre-determined height that we have used the whole trip (3-1/2” protruding). We pulled the rubber chocks and removed the X-chocks, and stowed them in their respective places. I then needed to pull forward to get the Andersen Levelers out from under the driver side trailer tires. Unfortunately, we had done some things out of their normal sequence and had stopped referring to our hitching list, which resulted in me pulling forward without raising the trailer tongue jack. That was a big mistake that could have had very undesirable consequences. Thankfully, it didn’t, but it was a mental lapse on both our parts, and the first time we had made this particular mistake.
The last steps were to move Juniper-the-cat from the trailer to the truck (Linda) and disconnect and store the shorepower cord (me). A final walkaround, inside and outside, and we were ready to go. We pulled out of our campsite at 0920 with an ETA of 1348. Five miles, and 10 minutes later, we crossed the bridge on ME-3 over the Mount Desert Narrows and said goodbye to Mount Desert Island and all that it had to offer. We had thoroughly enjoyed our visit, but we had a schedule to keep and had to move on.
Our destination today was Timberland Campground in Shelburne, New Hampshire. We had looked at routing options last night, and initially thought we would travel north from Mount Desert Island to Bangor, and then SW on I-95 to Augusta, and then head west on ME-219, picking up US-2 in Bethel, Maine. The detailed directions, however, seemed to involve more road changes than that, and I wanted to simplify the navigation today. We decided to take ME-3 north to Ellsworth, pick up US-1A north/west to Bangor, and get on I-395 west. At the interchange with I-95, I-395 ends and becomes US-2. Timberland Campground is on US-2, so that should have been the end of that.
To get the navigation system in the F-150 to go the way we wanted, we had to choose the “shortest” route option. We should have known better, as that inevitably leads to some strange routing decisions where it takes us off of a main road, like US-2, onto smaller backroads (or through subdivisions) in order to save 0.1 miles. Linda was following along on her phone, and spotted most of these diversions, but we both missed one for lack of a road sign indicating how to stay on US-2. No worries, though; the system knew our campground was on US-2 and took us back to the highway. My reason for wanting to stay on US-2 was that US highways are usually truck routes, which means then have the height clearances and weight capacities needed for semi-trucks. And if they can make it through, we can make it through. In this case, I was also trying to minimize the number of different roads we would have to navigate.
We were still driving through low mountains for most of the day, so the roads had lots of curves and lots of up and down. The entire drive was very nice, however, with partly cloudy skies, cool temperatures in the low 60’s (F), and signs of fall in the colors of some of the trees. We did, however, have strong, gusty winds that made us feel like we were back in Atlantic Canada. It also reminded us how well the Propride 3P hitch works, and how glad we were to have it. Did I feel the wind? Sure, just like I feel bad road surfaces. Did the trailer ever give any indication that it might sway? No, it did not; because it can’t (it’s mechanically impossible).
Timberland Campground is owned/operated by a young couple, Scott and Megan. Linda registered with Megan in the office while Scott moved a picnic table out of our site (#18). (W3W=”digesting.cheaper.reached”.) The campground is gated, and required a $20 (cash) deposit for a Gate card, but we were aware of that ahead of time, so Linda was prepared. Scott also told her to not leave any trash or food outside the trailer, as “the bears are real here.” (There are black bears in this area.)
Our pull-through site was another one of these sites where you “pull-through” an open grassy area to get in or out. (In our case it would be out, and won’t be a problem.) It did not look promising at first, but I managed to easily position the trailer so it was level, side-to-side, and only 3/4″ off in the front. Linda moved Juniper back to the trailer and put out her food and water bowls, and then rejoined me outside for the unhitching process.
Following our unhitching checklist, we put the tongue jack down to take some of the tongue weight and proceeded to install the rubber chocks and the X-chocks on the trailer tires. We then disconnected the safety chains, breakaway cable, and umbilical cord. I set the hitch height for disconnecting using my usual technique of feeling and watching for the trailer tongue to pull away from the hitch and the ball hitch latch lever to move. The over-center-latches (OCLs) released without the truck or trailer moving, which is usually an indication that I have the trailer tongue height set correctly.
However, when I pulled the truck forward, and pulled the stinger out of the hitch, the trailer dropped an inch or so. I never let things like that pass without trying to figure out ‘why.’ My analysis of the situation was that the truck was sitting over a high spot. As I pulled forward, the front/steer axle was going slightly downhill and the rear/drive axle was going slightly uphill, raising the rear end of the truck relative to the trailer and lifting the hitch. Linda would not have seen that unless she was looking for it. Again, no harm, no foul. I adjusted the tongue jack to get the hitch opening height aligned with the stinger height, and saved the setting in the LevelMatePro+ app. I then adjusted the trailer tongue jack to level the trailer, front-to-back.
Linda went inside to start preparing lunch, which was a hot dog, potato chips, and red grapes, while I connected our shorepower. Our “50A” full-hookup site turned out to be a 30A full-hookup site. Not a problem; I have 30A(shore)à50A(trailer) adapters and have used them a lot on this trip. But we booked and paid for a 50A electrical service, which this clearly was not. The price difference was $3/day, so not a big deal for a 4-night stay, but as a matter of principle, Linda went to the office to get the $12 refund.
Scott had left the campground to run errands, but Megan walked down to our site. Megan was surprised that it was only 30A as Scott had assured her that there were outlets for both 50A (4-wire) and 30A (3-wire) service, and she understood the difference. We have managed on 30A service quite a bit over the last 3 months, but were looking forward to the convenience of the 50A service. She said Scott would look at it tomorrow, which was fine with me.
Our driver-side neighbors were a somewhat younger couple with two younger children, but apparently retired and on the road full-time for the last 18 months. The husband noticed the Propride 3P hitch and offered his approval. A quick glance confirmed that he also had one on his F-250 and travel trailer. They also had X-chocks, Anderson levelers, and a Hughes Power Watchdog. He approvingly told Linda later that we “had all the cool toys,” as did he. They were pulling out tomorrow morning and heading to Mount Desert Island where they have reservations at the Bar Harbor KOA. I told him about the Island Explorer bus service, downtown Bar harbor, and the Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf.
With the trailer set up, and lunch taken care of, Linda stripped the beds and added the bedding and towels to what was already in the laundry basket. The laundry room here had four functioning washing machines and four functioning dryers. That is not a given in many RV parks. The washers were $1.75 per load (there were $ 4 at the last place) and $1 for a 30-minute cycle on the dryers. Very fair pricing. I set up our Verizon Jetpack Mi-Fi and got my computer set up to use.
The high temperature here never made it much above 60 (F), and started dropping well before sunset, so we never opened any of the windows in the trailer, and closed the door sooner than we normally would. I turned the furnace on, and set it for 68 (F), but still traded in my shorts and short-sleeve shirt for my sweat pants and shirt.
Dinner was Amy’s frozen entrees, Indian this time, with mixed vegetables, dahl, and basmati rice. Quick, easy, and tasty, but not large servings. We had popcorn later.
The only thing we had discussed wanting to do while in this area was take the cog train to the summit of Mt. Washington, New Hampshire, but it appeared that might not be possible or desirable, due to the weather. Winds of 60+ mph, with hurricane force gusts, were pummeling the summit and forecast to continue tomorrow. Temperatures were dropping into the 20s (F) and ice was forming. We have “warm layers” in our clothing arsenal, but we were not outfitted for those kinds of conditions. The weekend looked to be warmer and less windy, but overcast with a strong possibility of rain. If that forecast holds up, we won’t go but, as has been the case through our trip, the weather/forecast often changes by the time we get close to an event or destination. We will look at this again tomorrow for Saturday or Sunday. Otherwise, we will likely take the truck and go sight-seeing, and possibly search out a winery and/or vegan restaurant.