Category Archives: RV-Travel

Posts related to our active involvement in RVing.

Special Blog Post for 20230130 – Accessory Building Project Update

There are no photos for this post. ]

TUESDAY 31 January

Looking back on the last two (2) weeks, it had been an amusing, confusing, slightly sad, but exciting and gratifying time.  The electrical service work for the barn (with upgraded power for the house) was done.  The crews had all been very professional and had done the work well.  But they were also friendly and helpful, as they put up with my presence, questions, and photography with good humor.

The only question that remained, power wise, was when a crew would show up to change out the pole in the SE corner of our yard.  This pole does not have a transformer on it, but it does have the tap for our Comcast/Xfinity broadband cable to the house.  It supports the electric distribution wires that run E-W down our side of the street, along with the AT&T and Comcast cables.  These lines also T-off and go across the street to a pole in our neighbor’s yard to supply services to their house  It does not have a transformer on it, but it looked to me like the T would make installing a new pole tricky.  I guess I will find out just how it’s done when someone shows up and does it, assuming I am at home when the work happens.  Never once have we been contacted in advance to let us know that a crew was scheduled to be onsite.


Special Blog Post for 20230130 – Accessory Building Project Update

This post has 9 photos. ]

MONDAY 30 January

Expect the unexpected, right?  For me, that’s inline with the idea that “things happen beyond our control, but how we deal with them is up to us.”  After a week of somewhat strange communications, but no additional work, a crew from Rauhorn showed up today.  Rauhorn is another DTE contractor.  I think they do both overhead and underground work, and were prepared for both, but the remaining work was mostly underground.

The small excavator was used to “hang” the large spool of 3-conductor, 3/0 AWG service conductor cable so it could unwind easily as it was fed into the 2” Schedule 40 PVC electrical conduit through the bottom of the meter enclosure.  The conduit is visible coming out of the bottom of the meter enclosure and into the ground.


I was already familiar with Rauhorn as they did some of the work on the power upgrade for our neighbor’s house across the street back in mid-November.  When they were finished doing that work, I asked the crew chief if he had a few minutes to came over and look at what I was planning to do, conduit-wise.  He did, and gave me some very useful suggestions as to how to do it to make it easier on whatever underground crew eventually showed up to install the electrical cable to the barn.

The trench from the open end of the conduit towards the pedestal with the service conductors already pulled through.  The open end of the conduit is at least 24” below grade, but they did not trench that deep all the way to the base of the pedestal.  There is no conduit from this point to the pedestal, as the cables they installed are rated for direct burial.  That also means it does not matter if dirt or water gets into the conduit.  The conduit was optional, but it saved me the cost of having DTE (or a contractor) dig the whole trench, allowed me to route the cable away from some trees, and will provide external protect in the event that someone ever decides to dig in this area.



This crew was here “to complete the installation of power to the barn,” but were surprised to find that major pieces of the work they planned to do had already been completed, specifically the pedestal and the 350 kcmil service drop conductors.  (I was not surprised that they were surprised.)  But they were fine with the situation.











The trench for the barn service conductors to the base of the pedestal.  The top cover of the pedestal has been removed to allow access to the junction blocks.



I explained about the advice I got from one of their guys before trenching in the 2” Schedule 40 PVC electrical conduit, and pointed out the stake that marked the location of the free end near the new pole.  With the small excavator (12” bucket), they came prepared to dig a trench, but only had to use it to unearth that end of the conduit (and hang the large cable spool).  They dug up to the base of the pedestal by hand as there were live conductors buried there.




The 3-conductor, 3/0 AWG service conductor cable being fed into the 2” Schedule 40 PVC electrical conduit through the bottom of the meter enclosure.

They were glad to have the 7/16” rope already through the conduit and used it to pull the 3/0 AWG, 3-conductor underground service conductor (USG) cable from the meter enclosure up to the pedestal.  To does this, they suspended a large spool of the USC cable off of the excavator bucket so that it could unwind horizontally.  The free end of the cable was attached to the rope in the meter enclosure in such a way that it would not pull loose.  One guy helped guide/feed the cable into the conduit attached to the bottom of the meter can, while two guys pulled it through the conduit from the other end by hand with the rope.  They stopped with enough cable still at the meter enclosure to make the connections to the meter lugs.



The barn service conductors through the conduit and up through the pedestal.  They were then trimmed to the length needed to fit into the junction blocks.  At this point, the crew was dealing with live (energized) un-fused wires.  They knew what they were doing, and had the right personal protective equipment, but this was still not work for the faint of heart.

On the other end, they opened the top pedestal cover and routed the cable from the barn up through the bottom and out the top.  They cut each wire to length to fit into the large junction blocks that were already there.  As they were working, I noticed that one of the hot conductors that had been terminated by the previous crew had about an inch of exposed conductor below the insulated junction block.  That was a major oversight that could have led to a short or an energized pedestal cover (the covers are made of metal).  Rather than try to cut the live exposed metal strands shorter, one of the guys removed the conductor from the junction block, wrapped electrical tape around it up past where the wire insulation ended, reinserted it, and tightened it.  He was wearing proper personal protection equipment, (PPE), and clearly knew what he was doing, but all of this was on a live, unfused wire.



The barn service conductors enter the meter enclosure from the large conduit on the left and are attached to the meter socket lugs at the top.  (Meter enclosures/sockets have been built this way for a long time, going back to when almost all utility conductors ran overhead and entered the meter enclosure from the top.)  The black, red, and bare/aluminum conductors attached to the bottom meter lugs are the service entrance conductors.  They are enclosed in a sheath as they exit the meter enclosure at the lower right and go through a hole in the side of the barn, where they are then routed up into the bottom of the main load center and connected to the main breaker (first disconnecting means) at the top of the enclosure.  Because this is a sheathed cable assembly, it is not required to be in conduit.  Although I would have preferred that it was, this work was done by the electrician, under permit, and inspected/approved by the County.  As such, it was not appropriate for me to change it (and would have been a bit of work to do so).



ep was to install a meter, at which point we finally had power to the barn!  I closed the main circuit breaker (which serves as the main disconnect for the barn) and then closed the circuit breaker for the Siemens FirstSurge surge protection device.  Two green lights indicated that I had power to both buses of the panel.  (I later checked the GFCI receptacle the electrician had installed way back when, and confirmed that I had 120 VAC and the GFCI feature worked.)















The trench with the barn service conductors bending into the bottom of the pedestal. This photo shows that the wires, which are direct -burial, are not buried very deep at this point.




The final step was to put the upper cover back on the pedestal and secure it, and use the excavator to push dirt back into the trench and up to the base of the pedestal.  One of the crew members said they would transmit the meter number to DTE.






Almost done.  They meter was seated in the socket and, just like that, we had power to the barn!  It was obviously nice to finally have power to the barn, but the five (calendar) days it took to do this work were fascinating for me to watch and document.  I learned a lot from the various crews, who were all (mostly) good sports about me being around with a camera and asking lots of questions.

As the trench by the pedestal was being filled back in, I took this photo to show that the bottom cover of the pedestal does not extend very far below grade, and the wires going to barn bend almost immediately as they leave the pedestal towards the conduit.  The same is true for the service conductors going to the house.  Any digging within a 5’ radius of this pedestal would risk contact with these conductors.  They are all insulated, of course, but still …


I e-mailed the DTE case manger and the planning consultant (with a couple of photos) to let them know the work had been completed and I had power to the barn.  As far as I knew, I was now done dealing with DTE other than to get the account number for the new meter and pay the bill each month.



The meter enclosure cover installed and secured.

Although I was not going to pull an electrical permit until mid-March, and probably not start wiring the barn until early April, it was time to work on the electrical plan in earnest.  As soon as we returned from our travels I would need to be ready to start buying electrical materials and devices and staging them in the barn.  Of course, I needed the big roll-up doors in order to do that.

Special Blog Post for 202301(24-29) – Accessory Building Project Update

There are 3 photos in this post. ]

TUESDAY 24 January – SUNDAY 29 January

When the Motor City Electric Utilities crew finished their work on Monday the 23rd, the project was well on its way to completion, but not quite finished as we still did not have power to the barn.  During the week, I got an e-mail from our DTE planning consultant with contact information for the “case manager” who would schedule the work, and letting me know that I would now be dealing with her from now on.  I e-mailed her and introduced myself, and cc:d the planning consultant.  I included photos, and let them know the work was almost completed, and that all that remained to be down was to pull the underground service conductors from the barn meter enclosure to the pedestal, terminate them at both ends, and install the meter.  Once again, the reply that I received was basically “what?”

By this point, and after discussion with some friends, I had come to the conclusion that my customer satisfaction survey reply, and subsequent conversation with a customer service representative, appeared to have triggered a response from DTE.  While I was glad that the work was getting done, I was saddened that the people responsible for planning and scheduling the job, and with whom I had worked closely, appeared to be unaware that the work was taking place.  Indeed, the planning consultant indicated that he had only just released the work orders for scheduling.  And that was not right; it’s never right to bypass people.  Go through the reporting chain to the people responsible and make a higher priority of the work, sure, but do not go around them.

Sometime during this week, the builder also got word that the roll-up doors would not be available by the end of the month and he was trying to pin down a delivery date.  At this point, it almost didn’t matter.  We would be traveling from late February to early March, and I would not be starting the wiring until we got back.  In fact, I had to do some painting even before the electrical work, which I couldn’t do until the temperatures were warmer and would stay that way overnight.  Also, I had no interest in doing electrical work in the cold and neither did Marty, who offered to come down and help.

The main load center for the barn with the Siemens FirstSurge device mounted externally, lower right and connected to a 2-pole, 20 Amp circuit break, lower right in the enclosure.  This was the only wiring I intended to do on the barn before apply for an electrical permit in mid-June, but I wanted this device in place before the electrical service was energized.

I did, however, manage to accomplish two small things in the barn this week.  A while back I bought a Siemens FirstSurge Type 2 “whole house” surge protective device (SPD) and wanted to install it in the main service panel for the barn before utility power was connected to it.  Type SPDs get installed after (downstream of) the main disconnecting means, which in this case is the 200 Amp main breaker in the Siemens load center.

The unit is large at approximately 3” x 6” by 2” deep.  It is a sealed unit, with four wires coming out a female threaded stud.  I had intended to mount it directly to one of the knockouts on the load center, using a male threaded adapter from inside the enclosure, but I ultimately decided against that approach.

As shown in the photo, I ended up mounting it with four screws to one of the horizontal skags that the enclosure (and the siding) is attached to, and connecting it to the enclosure using a 12” piece of liquid-tight flexible non-metallic conduit.  The two hot leads from the device were wired to a 2-pole, 20 Amp circuit breaker, installed in the lowest two positions in the right circuit break bank.  (The neutral and equipment grounding conductors were terminated in the usual way.)

Type 2 SPDs are also available in circuit breaker form, which is the most convenient way to add one to an existing panel.  However, I really liked the more robust specifications of the FirstSurge device.

The sub-panel on the south wall of the shop just east of the door.  This is a lug-style panel (no main circuit breaker) that will be fed from a 100 Amp 2-pole circuit breaker in the main load center through fairly large feeder cables.  Although both the bus and the travel trailer have 240V/50A (120V/100A) electrical systems, most of the power used in the barn will be used in the shop.



The other thing I accomplished in the barn was hanging the sub-panel in the shop.  No wiring was involved; just deciding exactly where I wanted to place the enclosure.  I wanted it to be convenient to the door, but comfortable, as I will be using many of the circuit breakers as switches.  But I also had to make sure the location was compliant with the NEC.








Last, but not least, I continued to read the 2023 NEC Handbook and started working again on the electrical plan for the barn, as well as researching light fixtures and other devices for the project.

As an aside, The Motor Cities Electric Utilities crew on the 23rd, reattached the riser conduit for the AT&T cable and terminal box to the new pole as best they could.  They stapled the cable to the pole about a foot above the terminal box, as that was as much slack as they had to work with.  If you look closely you can see the wire goes directly (through air) from there to the junction block on the main cable.  It should be stapled all the way up the pole, but that will require a longer wire.  I was told that it would be up to AT&T to remedy this, ditto for Comcast if it involves their cables, but that I might have to call these companies myself and be “persistent” in getting them to come out and do something about it.  Ugh.  I just don’t see why I should have to deal with that situation.  Presumably DTE reports to Comcast & AT&T that they have replaced this pole and additional work needs to be done.

Special Blog Post for 20230123 – Accessory Building Project Update

There are 19 photos in this post. ]

MONDAY 23 January

Digging to find the underground service conductors and the AT&T cable from the house.  The wooden stake with the red tip, behind the crew member, is where our DTE planning consultant thought the ground pedestal should (might) be located.  The stake to the right, with the orange top, marks the location of the free end of the 2” Schedule 40 PVC electrical conduit that Marty and I installed back on November 22nd.  A comparison with the three (3) previous special blog posts makes in clear that we had snow yesterday.  Still, the crew said the ground was not frozen and was easy to dig.  They extended their digging from the old pole to the new one, as new wires would be run in that area.



did not expect work to be done on Sunday, and none was.  I also did not know when a crew would be out next to continue the project, but I did not have to wait long to find out.  Around 9:30 AM, a three-person crew showed up from Motor City Electric Utilities, a DTE contractor.  They arrived with a crane/auger truck and a bucket truck, but they also had a trailer with a small excavator (back-hoe) with a 12” bucket.










This photo is from the south facing north.  The new pole is on the left.  The existing underground service conductors from the house are clearly visible running up the old pole on the right.  The AT&T cable is also visible at the right/lower end of the small PVC conduit lying on the ground.

The insulated disconnect pole is hanging from the neutral distribution line after being used to disconnect power from the house.  The crew member in the bucket is dis-mounting the Comcast cable from the old pole, using the bucket to lift it up, and mounting it to the new pole.


The first thing then did was start hand digging (with a shovel, obviously) by the old pole, looking for the underground service conductors from the house.  The AT&T line to our house (no longer in service) also runs underground, along the same/parallel path as the power lines. (The service conductors for the house run underground from the meter, at the SW corner of the garage, to the old pole and then up to the transformer.  I presumed these were one continuous run, but splices were eventually found underground at the base of the old pole.)





The lower/AT&T cable being moved up and anchored to the new pole.

The next thing they did was open the disconnect switch so they could work safely around the conductors from the transformer secondary taps to the house.  But first they worked on disconnecting the AT&T and Comcast cables from the old utility pole, raising them up, and securing them to the new pole.  As part of this work, they had to route the existing AT&T cable down the new pole as best they could.  (The Comcast/Xfinity cable comes to our house from a different pole in the SE corner of our yard.)



This crew used the hoist on the end of their crane truck to support and lift the broadband and phone cables.  The latching hook is the orange thing visible near the center of the photo.


At this point, the existing house underground service conductors were disconnected from the new transformer and the old pole, and cut off about 4’ above where they exited the ground.  The AT&T cable was also disconnected from the old pole, but not cut.  (Note that our Comcast/Xfinity cable comes to our house from a different pole in the SE corner of our property.)  With everything disconnected from the old pole, the crane truck was then used to pull it out of the ground then lay it down.  It was then lifted and put on a pair of racks on the crane truck to be taken away.  The hole left by the old pole was partially filled in, but was reused to install the new ground pedestal (junction box).



The crane truck is used to pull the old pole out of the ground.











The bottom section of the old pole is loaded onto carrying racks on the crane truck.



The crew had decided early on that they were going to install the new ground pedestal (junction box) in the hole left by the old pole.  At this point, they dug up the underground service conductors from the house for a few feet back from the pedestal location.  A new cable assembly, consisting of three (3) 350 kcmil conductors, was then routed down the new pole to provide the service drop to the pedestal.  (At 350 thousand circular mils, these are big multi-strand conductors.)



The 3-conductor, 350 kcmil cable that will run from the rack to the pedestal.


At the upper end, the three wires were joined to the secondary transformer wires at the rack.  The bottom end was left loose initially.  The support post for the pedestal was then set into the ground and the conductors from the pole and the house positioned so the bottom pedestal cover could be attached.  The two sets of wires were then spliced together using very large, insulated terminal blocks for the hots and an uninsulated junction block for the neutrals.  The upper cover was put in place and secured, and all areas that were still excavated were filled back in.




Two of the crew set the support post for the pedestal, part of which is lying on the ground to the right.  The large 3-conductor 350 kcmil cable has not been cut to its final length, positioned underground, and secured to the new pole.













The underground service conductors from the house have been routed up into the bottom have of the pedestal and the crew is working to free the AT&T cable so they can move it out of the way and relocate it to the new pole.













This X-shaped cable stripper was the biggest wire stripper I have ever seen.  The house service conductors were 3/0 AWG, smaller than the 350 kcmil conductors the ran down the new pole, but still big.  (The 350 kcmil conductors will supply power to both the house and the barn.)













The junction blocks used to connect the cables together are visible in the center of the photo.  The orange thing is the handle of a large T-style hex wrench.  The junction blocks for the hot conductors are insulated, the one for the neutral is not.













A closer view of the junction blocks in the pedestal as the upper cover is put in place.











The 350 kcmil conductors are positioned underground and the first piece of protective PVC cover is secured to the pole.












A final look at the large conductors (for now) before they are re-buried.









Filling in the hole and making it safe.









Using the bucket, the protective covering for the 350 kcmil cables was attached all the way to near the bottom of the rack.  The conductors were then spliced together with the conductors from the transformer secondary taps at the rack.




Last, but not least, the disconnect switch was closed and utility power was restored to the house.  I e-mailed our planning consultant and included photos of the ending status of the work.







The finished installation connecting the new transformer/rack on the new pole to the new pedestal and the existing house underground service conductors.  The disconnect switch has been closed, and the house is back on utility power.

Although the crew was done working on the DTE-related project of getting power to our barn, they were not done working at our property.  The repositioned their equipment near the SE corner of our property and proceeded to grab one of the new 45’ utility poles from the ditch down the street and drag up to our place.  They had a work order for this pole as well, and used their crane truck to pick it up and deposit it in our yard.  They then spent a bit of time looking at the pole they had to replace.    In the end, they left without doing anything else, but I don’t know why.  Perhaps they did not have everything they needed, or it was just too late in the day to start.  It looked like a tricky job to me, as power, phone and broadband lines T off at this pole and go across the street to the pole that supplies our neighbor’s house.



Done for the day, and moving on to the next thing.

As always, I e-mailed our DTE planning consultant and included a few photos of the work.

Special Blog Post for 20230121 – Accessory Building Project Update

This post has 11 photos. ]

SATURDAY 21 January

Friday came and went with no additional work being done, and no indication of when another crew would be on site, but sometime in the morning, a different DTE crew showed up, again with multiple trucks of various kinds.  Working from a bucket truck, they opened the disconnect switch, disconnecting power from our house.  The whole-house generator quickly came online and took over providing power to the house.

Bucket trucks positioned for the aerial work.  The bucket on the left has an insulated pole that was used to operate the disconnect switches (old and new).

Their first task was to disconnect the conductors from the existing transformer primary to the two distribution lines.  The bucket was then used to support each line (in turn) as it was disconnected from the existing insulated stand-off and then lifted up and attached to new insulated standoff on the new/higher crossbar.  This increased the height of the lines over our center driveway and over the road to the west where it cuts through the SW corner of our property.  Indeed, getting these lines raised was one of the reasons the existing pole was being replaced.  The other reason was its age and condition.


The second bucket getting ready to go up.















Two buckets, each securing on one of the distribution lines to the new cross-bar.  The line on the left is the “hot” (notice the disconnect switch).  The line on the right is the neutral.  Besides being connected to one of the primary taps on the transformer, the neutral is bonded to the bare copper ground wire that was installed the full length of the new pole and establishes a local earth reference for the voltage.












Disconnecting the old transformer.

One of the bucket trucks was positioned to disconnect the house underground service conductors from the existing transformer secondary taps and then dis-mount the existing transformer while the other one, which included a hoist, was used to support and lower the old transformer as it was removed from the old pole.






The old transformer on the ground.

The old pole was then “topped” a few feet above the AT&T and Comcast cables.  The new 50 KVA transformer was then hoisted up and hung on the new pole.  The rack was already installed just below it, but I’m not sure when that happened.  The rack is a large vertical assembly with three (3) insulated standoffs.







The new transformer being hoisted into position.  Note that the new transformer is pre-wired with both primary and secondary conductors.  Note also that the old pole has been “topped” to make more room for the buckets to get into position.













Both buckets work together to get the new transformer on the previously installed mounting bolts.

The primary taps of the transformer were connected to the neutral conductor and the disconnect switch for the distribution lines and the wires from the secondary taps were secured to the rack.  The ground conductor was also attached to the distribution neutral and the secondary center-tap on the transformer.  The existing service conductors for the house were then temporarily routed to the rack and connected to the secondary transformer conductors.  The disconnect switch was closed, and power was restored to our house.





The bucket that was used to hoist the new transformer up was also in the best position to attach the wires from the secondary taps to the insulated stand-offs of the rack.  The rack has three stand-offs, one for the neutral conductor and one for each of the two hot (240 V) legs.













In this photo, the existing house underground service conductors (USC) have been temporarily spliced to the new transformer secondary conductors at the rack.












In this photo it is a bit clearer that the house underground service conductors are still attached to the old pole.  The Comcast/broadband (upper) and AT&T (lower) cables are also still attached to the old pole.













The crew is done for the day and pulling out.  Our house is now running off of the new 50 KVA transformer.  I checked inside and the voltage seemed to be a volt or so higher, and less subject to dropping when loads were energized.  (We have uninterruptable power supplies throughout the house to protect sensitive electronics.  The units we use have a digital voltage display, so I can keep a close eye on what’s happening vis-à-vis electrical power.  We also have a DTE EnergyBridge device, which monitors and reports our electrical energy usage in real time, via our smart meter, but also gives us access to historical data.)

Significant progress was made today towards having upgraded power to the house and, eventually, to the barn.  I e-mailed the planning consultant and included a couple of photos.

Special Blog Post for 20230119 – Accessory Building Project Update

There are 6 photos in this post. ]

THURSDAY 19 January

The DTE crew that was here yesterday and did, in fact, return today and got a lot accomplished.  Not everything, of course, but based on what had previously been explained to me, I did not expect them to complete the job today.  DTE has crews (and/or contractors) that do “overhead work,” crews/contractors that do “underground work,” and (apparently) crews/contractors that do “fusing work.”  Which is fine; each of those kinds of work requires different equipment, knowledge, and skills.  Our project required all three types of crews (or at least overhead and underground ones).

The new, 45’, utility pole in the driveway near the existing pole and the new hole that was dug yesterday.

The new pole is lowered onto a cradle, allowing the top (narrower) end to be off the ground high enough to attach various things to it.

The work today was fascinating.  They started by pulling the new pole out of the drainage ditch (where it had been for a while), down the street, and then up the driveway.  They positioned it in the yard close to where they needed it, but off of the driveway where they could work on it without being in the way of the trucks.  Crew members drilled holes for the mounting of the new crossbar, transformer, and the rack and attached a bare copper ground wire along the full length of the pole.

The new pole resting on the cradle.  The cradle is hinged, and folds flat for storage.

One of the crew attaches an insulated stand-off to the crossarm near the top of the new pole.  The insulated standoff and disconnect switch for the hot line are already installed.

A new crossbar was attached near the top of the pole and new insulated standoffs and a disconnect switch for the distribution lines were mounted.  The crane truck was used to hoist the pole up with the crossbar parallel to the distribution lines so it would pass between them.  The pole was then lowered down into the new hole (dug yesterday) and then turned 90 degrees so the crossbar was above, and perpendicular to, the power lines.  They sighted the pole for plumb from two directions, about 90 degrees apart.  When they were satisfied that it was vertical, a 2-part epoxy was mixed and poured into the hole.  After a suitable amount of time, they then partially back-filled the hole with 1”-size gravel to secure it in position.




The crane truck has lifted the new pole between the distribution wires with the crossarm parallel to the wires and going up between them.  Ground crew have then turned the pole 90 degrees so the crossarm is perpendicular to the wires.  The crane has set the pole into the new hole.  The crew member nearest the camera is checking the pole for plumb.

The new pole was 45’ long, compared to the old one at just 40’.  They were both in the ground to about the same depth, and the top of the new pole was now a comfortable 5’ above the top of the old one.  This added height was one of the main reasons for the new pole.  The other reason was the condition of the existing pole, which had been there since the early 1970’s (best estimate).


All of this work was done without disconnect the existing transformer primary taps from the distribution lines.  The crew obviously knew what they were doing, and had all of the necessary personal protective equipment (clothing) to be working with energized, un-fused, high-voltage wires, but it was still impressive to watch.


The new pole, secured in the new hole, with the primary taps on the existing transformer reconnected to the distribution wires.  The service conductors for the house are still attached to the old pole, as is the AT&T cable.

With new pole secured in the new hole, the disconnect switch was closed, restoring utility power to our house.  The power was only disconnected for about an hour, but the house was never without power as the whole house generator started up and ran flawlessly the whole time.


Again, I e-mailed our planning consultant to let him know what had been accomplished today and included a couple of photos.  Again, he seemed surprised.  I thought that was odd, but I was just pleased that crews were at our house and the work was getting done.



Special Blog Post for 20230118 – Accessory Building Project Update

[ There are 6 photos in this post. ]

WEDNESAY 18 January

Without any notification, a 4-person DTE crew showed up around 9 AM with three huge trucks and a pick-up truck.  I presumed they were here to start replacing the existing utility pole and transformer that feeds our house with a new, taller, pole and a new, (much larger), transformer, as this  new transformer will now also supply power to the new barn.  I bundled up and went out to introduce myself.  I would hang with them for the duration of their visit, chatting with them about the work and taking photos.

The vacuum excavator (hydrovac) truck arrives.

The hydrovac truck in position by the existing utility pole.  Some of the DTE trucks are also visible.

One of the trucks was a crane with an auger, but they did not use it.  They had to dig a hole for the new pole close to the existing pole, which meant it would also be close to the existing underground service conductors from the house.  In this situation, they prefer to dig the hole with a “hydrovac” (water jet / vacuum) truck.  Even though the location of the underground wires had been marked by MISS DIG, the DTE crew said the marker flags can be off by several feet from the actual cable location.  Ditto for the underground AT&T cable.  DTE uses a contractor for the hydrovac work, and a truck was on the way from Roseville on far east side of the Detroit Metro Area.  (We are on the far west side of the Detroit Metro Area).

Operating the hydrovac truck is a 2-person job; one of them controls the high-pressure sprayer and vacuum tube, while the other one controls the equipment at the truck.

The first 12” of the vacuum tube (orangish color) is a hard metal collar with a fairly keen edge, allowing it to “cut” into the ground while retaining its circular shape as the dirt is loosened by the high-pressure water spray.

The hydrovac truck eventually arrived, got positioned to do the work, and proceeded to dig a 6.5-foot-deep hole some 12” – 16” in diameter, about 30 inches to the west of the existing pole.  As the dirt was blasted loose, the vacuum hose sucked it up, along with anything/everything that came loose, including some larger rocks.

It took at least 90 minutes to dig this hole, which surprised me, but the operators worked carefully to get it right.  There wasn’t much for the DTE crew to do while they waited for this hole to be dug.  One of the bucket trucks, however, had the new 50 KVA transformer, and that crew member went ahead and prepared/attached the small conductors that would go from the primary taps to the distribution wires and the large conductors that would go from the secondary taps to the “rack” below the transformer on the new pole.

[ As an aside, we have two main load centers in our house, a 200 Amp panel in the basement and a 100 Amp panel in the garage.  Although we would never draw the maximum combined amperage of 300 Amps, even at an 80% derated current of 240 Amps these panels represent the possibility of a 57,600 VA (Watt) load on the transformer.  The barn has a 200 Amp main load center, which at an 80% derated current of 160 Amps, represents the possibility of another 38,400 VA of load.  Combined with the house, that would be a possible 96 KVA load.   The existing transformer is a 10 KVA unit, and is being replaced with a 50KVA unit.  This will be a good size, in my opinion, but not overkill. ]

(The distribution voltage is 13,200 Volts (13.2 KV), but the current through the primary coil of the transformer is relatively low, so the wires do not have to be very large.  If the transformer was operating at its maximum rating of 50,000 Volt-Amps (50 KVA), the current in the primary wires would be about 3.8 Amps.  By comparison, the voltage between the two “hot” secondary taps is 240 Volts.  If the secondary was supplying the full rated capacity of 50 KVA, the current in the secondary conductors would be about 208 Amps.  That amount of current requires really big wires.)

Conductors attached to the secondary taps of the new transformer.

In what was the first of several “comical” events (from our point of view), the crew was scheduled to be at a required training session in Pontiac at noon, at least a 30 to 40-minute drive from our house.  They left sometime after noon and headed there.  Things got done, but far less than if they had been able to stay and work.  As they prepared to leave, they said they would be back the next day.






The hole for the new utility pole covered and marked for safety.

I was pleased and excited that the work had finally begun.  I e-mailed our planning consultant, as he had indicated early on that I should let him know as things happened and send a few photos.  The reply I got was, essentially “what?”




Special Blog Post for 202301(06-17) – Accessory Building Project Update

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As described in a regular blog post, we left for the long drive to Florida on Monday, December 26, picking up our middle grand-daughter on the way.  We stopped for the night in Chattanooga, Tennessee and arrived at our destination in Orlando the evening of the 27th.  We started the return drive home on Tuesday, January 3 (2023) and spent that evening in Macon, Georgia, with a stop the next evening in Covington, Kentucky just across the river from Cincinnati, Ohio.  We arrived home the afternoon of the 5th, after first returning our grand-daughter to her parental units and younger sister.  The barn project was not on our minds (much) during this time, as we were visiting “the happiest place on earth” with our 10-year grand-daughter while hanging out with our friends, and Eastern/Atlantic travel companions, Nancy and Paul, and their family.  No progress was made on the barn project during this time, nor was any expected.  We knew before we left that the roll-up doors had been delayed until (at least) the end of the month.

FRIDAY 6 January – TUESDAY 17 January

This was mostly a waiting period, but I did stay in touch with our DTE planning consultant.  No pressure, though; winter had settled in and I would not be doing any electrical work on the barn until spring.  Also, my copy of the 2023 NEC Handbook had arrived just before Christmas, so I spent a lot of time reading this 1339-page book.

The NEC is incredibly comprehensive, covering residential, commercial, and industrial electrical installation.  I paid particular attention to the residential requirements, of course, but read much of the other material as a matter of curiosity.  In spite of two degrees in Electrical Engineering, my exposure to power engineering is limited, and I am certainly not an electrician (which is a primary audience for the NEC).  As I would be doing the final wiring of the barn, I was glad to have the time to study the CODE.  The Handbook version is longer than the basic CODE book, and especially nice as it contains a lot of additional commentary, drawings, and photos, to clarify and illustrate much of the CODE text.

During this window, we received a generic customer satisfaction survey from DTE.  We have been pleased with the quality of power we receive, the response to outages when they have occurred, and the attention to preventative maintenance, such as tree trimming, so I filled out the survey to reflect our general satisfaction with the company.  There was a box at the end asking if there was anything other feedback we wanted to provide.  Well … since you asked.  While my interactions with our DTE planning consultant have been positive, and I said so, I was disappointed that the company was “quick to take our money, but slow to do the work, and that I had no idea when the work would actually be done.”  I clicked “SUBMIT,” figuring nothing would come of it.

Well … I got an e-mail acknowledging receipt of the survey and thanking me for taking the time to submit it.  An automated response, I presumed, so again, I did not expect anything to come of it.  I then got an e-mail indicating that my comments had been reviewed and that someone would be contacting me.  “OK, sure” I thought.  But someone did call.  We had a nice chat, which I appreciated as I had a chance to explain more clearly the feedback I was trying to provide.  Again, I figured that would be the end of it.  Not long after, however, the project took a decided turn, and I will cover that in the next five (5) special blog posts on this project.

Blog Post for 20221226-20230105 — The Happiest Place on Earth, and more

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A while back our friends, and travel companions, Nancy and Paul, had invited us to join them over the holidays at one of the Disney Resorts.  Our 10-year-old grand-daughter, “Mads,” joined us for this adventure, but only found out she was returning to Walt Disney World a couple of weeks before we left.  While I plan to do a more in-depth post (or series of posts)about this adventure, here is a very short synopsis of our trip.  I have several posts to upload related to work that too place on the barn project starting in January, but wanted to at least have a short post about our holiday travels in the correct chronological position.

We left for the long drive to Florida on Monday, December 26, picking up our middle grand-daughter on the way.  We stopped for the night in Chattanooga, Tennessee and arrived at our destination in Orlando the evening of the 27th.

On the 28th the three of us visited The Magic Kingdom.

On the 29th, all eight of us spent they day doing a private escorted VIP experience at Universal Studios, Orlando.  This was our first time there, and we were both surprised and impressed with the place.  The Harry Potter area was probably the highlight, but the whole place was amazing.  No doubt being on a private VIP experience enhanced our perception of the place.  Our host, Robbie, kept track of how many rides we went on, and the calculated that we had saved 33 hours of waiting in line.  Wow.

On the 30th and 31st we visited the theme parks on our own while Paul and Nancy spent time with their family members.

On January 1st, all eight of us spent the day on a private, escorted VIP experience of the four Disney World Theme Parks, starting with the Star Wars area at Hollywood Studies.  It was a first-time experience for Mads, and she was suitably impressed.  Indeed, compared to her visits when she was 6 and 7 years old, she had found the courage to try rollercoasters and fell in love the experience.  In the end, it was mostly her, me an Evan (in his 20’s) who did the rollercoasters.

On the 2nd, the three of us spent a bit more time in the theme parks during the day but returned to the resort for dinner.  Around 6 PM we headed to The Magic Kingdom and staked out a viewing spot for the evening show, which is done by projecting amazing animated images onto the castle, using it has a screen.

We started the return drive home on Tuesday, January 3 (2023).  We spent that evening in Macon, Georgia, and the next evening in Covington, Kentucky just across the river from Cincinnati, Ohio.  We arrived home the afternoon of the 5th, after first returning our grand-daughter to her parental units and younger sister.

The barn project was not on our minds (much) during this time away, as we were visiting “the happiest place on earth” with our 10-year grand-daughter while hanging out with our friends and Eastern/Atlantic travel companions, and their family.  No progress was made on the barn project during this time, nor was any expected.  We knew before we left that the roll-up doors had been delayed until the end of the month.

Special Blog Post for 202212(01-31) – Accessory Building Project Update

[ There are 3 photos for this post. ]

As November gave way to December, it became clear that we had reached the stage in this project where sayings such as “the last 10% of a project takes 50% of the time” always seem to come into play.  Not labor hours, of course, but calendar time, and visible milestones, for sure.  The building is constructed; the electrical service entrance (meter enclosure, main panel, and outlet/receptacle) is installed, inspected, and approved; and the driveway is finished (for now).  Separate from the building contract, the 2” Schedule 40 PVC electrical conduit has been trenched in from the meter enclosure to near the existing utility pole.  Other than wiring the building, which is on me to do, it looks/feels like we are very near completion of the builder’s portion of the project, but big things remain to be done.

FRIDAY 02 December

Chuck, the builder, let me know that he had finally gotten an estimated availability date from the vendor for the two large roll-up doors … December 28th (of this year).  There is always a list of a few minor things that need to be done or corrected, but these doors are one of the two remaining major components of the actual building construction, the other being the gutters.  At this point, I presumed that they would not be installed until early in the New Year.  Work on this project started in the second half of June, not long after we left for our 4-month journey through Eastern/Atlantic Canada, so mid-January would mark the seven (7) months point.

TUESDAY 06 December

Today was a big day; we finally received the costs to have the electric power on our property upgraded and extended to the new accessory building (RV barn, workshop, storeroom).  Also, sometime today (or yesterday) the gutter sub-contractor was apparently here and installed the gutters and downspouts on the two long sides of the barn.

WEDNESDAY 07 December

Today was, perhaps, an even bigger day than yesterday, as I finally received the actual contract for the electric utility work.  All that remained to do was read it carefully, sign it, scan the pages, and e-mail them back to a special e-mail address at DTE Energy.  I looked the contract over, especially the costs.  The language used throughout the documents was specialized for DTE’s purposes, but I had a sense of what was what, and everything appeared to be in order.  I was missing a diagram that the cover letter said I was supposed to have, and had a few other procedural questions, so I e-mailed our DTE planning consultant back.

The most expeditious way to move things along was to scan the signed documents and e-mail them back.  This would trigger a reply e-mail with a link to a special payment website.  I decided to hold off submitting everything until tomorrow so I could read all of the boilerplate contract language.

The way the project was now moving, and with real winter just around the corner, it appeared that I might not get any wiring done in the barn until spring.  Since I would have time between now and then, I had been considering purchasing the 2023 version of the NFPA 70 / NEC (National Electric Code) Handbook, which will be available on December 15, 2022.  It’s a bit spendy, but the Handbook contains the complete text of the CODE along with extensive inline commentary, diagrams, and photos that “explain/illustrate” what the CODE language means, and how it is applied in practice.  That sounded like some interesting and meaningful “home study” over the early winter months.

The builder was here today to see what was wrong with the shop and storeroom doors, and fix them if possible.  Before looking at the doors, we were both surprised to see that the gutters had been installed (on the long sides of the building).

Both doors are very difficult to open, and both of them have dead-bolts that will not slip into their strike plates, even with jiggy-jogging them.  Chuck determined that the difficulty in opening was due to bottom sweeps that were a bit too thick, although they might become a bit more compliant with use and age.  The sweeps snap in and out fairly easily, and he will try to get slightly thinner replacements for both of them.

The storeroom door appeared to be installed correctly, with an even reveal between the door and the frame on the inside and with everything square.  The solution for the dead-bolt will be to grind the strike plate, which is OK with me.  (It’s what I would have done if I was fixing it.)  He would have to come back to do that.

The Shop door, however, was not installed correctly, being slightly out of square and not having an even reveal between the door and the frame from the inside.  Chuck said he would be out in the next few days to remove it and reinstall it, or have one of his carpenters do it.  It’s already trimmed out, so I don’t know if that means removing and reinstalling all of the trim, but he said it was the only correct way to fix the problem.

THURSDAY 08 December

Linda had to go into the bakery today, so during the first part of the morning I read over the entire DTE contract package.  I then signed it in the two places that I needed to, and scanned those two sheets, saving them as PDFs and renaming them for clarity of content.  One was the “Line Extension Agreement” and the other was the “Secondary Services Agreement.”  I attached both PDFs to an e-mail and provided additional contact information per the information from my DTE planning consultant, and sent the e-mail off to the special DTE e-mail address.  I wasn’t sure how long it would take for DTE to respond, so I left to run some errands.

While I was out, I got a text message with the payment link.  So far, so good.  When I got home, I also had an e-mail with the payment amount.  But I had a second e-mail indicating that I had not submitted all of the required documentation.  I spent the second half of the afternoon scanning the rest of the pages into PDFs, renaming them, attaching them to an e-mail (along with some additional information), and sending it off to the special DTE e-mail address.  By then, it was late enough in the day that I was tired of dealing with this and ready to sit on the sofa and work a puzzle or watch a Youtube video while I waited for Linda to get home.

After an easy dinner of salad and pizza, Linda used the payment link and paid the invoice.  Correct documents or not, they were more than happy to accept our money (CC).

I will check e-mail tomorrow morning to see if I got it right on the 2nd try.

FRIDAY 09 December – WEDNESDAY 14 December

Well, the contract was accepted as complete and we received verification that our payment had been received.  I contacted our DTE planning consultant to let him know.  He replied back that it might take a couple of days for him to receive official/internal confirmation, at which point he would generate the work orders needed for the project.  That internal communication eventually took place, at which point I was notified that the work would “probably” be completed by the end of January, but not later than 17 February (2023).  That was discouraging to hear, but this was the first time I had dealt with DTE on a project like this, so I was not familiar with all of the steps or the timelines involved.  Regardless, it was out of my control.

The free end of the conduit near the utility pole with the 7/16″ rope passed through the hole in the end cap and everything taped to prevent dirt and water intrusion.

Sometime prior to the 14th, the DTE planning consultant made another site visit to have a second look at the utility pole replacement and the conduit we had installed from the pole to the barn.  Because the conduit runs downhill from the pole location to the meter location, he suggested I try to seal up the open end by the conduit as best I could to prevent water/dirt from getting in.  Given the time of year, if water got into the conduit and froze it would prevent the cables from being pulled through and we would have to wait until the spring thaw to get the service conductors installed from the pole to the barn.  He also marked the location for the ground pedestal (junction box), but indicated that the crew(s) that did the work might place it in a slightly different location.



A view of part of the trench, filled in and raked out.

Marty and I had placed a 7/16” rope in the conduit after we assembled it and put it in the trench.  One end was tied around the lugs in the meter can, and the other end came out the open end of the conduit and up a wooden stake marking the end of the conduit, as we planned to bury it, where it was tied at the top so the end could be easily located later.  I had tried to seal the open end with a rag, but this was not adequate.  I had a cap with a domed end, so I drilled a 1/2” hole in the end of it, fed the rope through the hole, and slid the cap over the end of the conduit.  Although not glued, it was a snug fit.  I taped around the rope at the hole, and around the cap and conduit with Gorilla tape.  I retired the rope to the wooden stake, and then buried everything.

The trench beyond the free end of the conduit has been back filled and marked with a stake that secures the rope. Plywood has been put down and covered with plastic and dirt to keep as much water out as possible.










THURSDAY 15 December – SATURDAY 31 December

With the holidays coming, and a trip planned between Christmas and early January, not much else happened on this project the rest of the month.  The builder was notified that the roll-up doors were now delayed until the end of January, 2023.  Oh well.  Again; out of our (and his) control.

Special Blog Post for 202211(15-30) – Accessory Building Project Update

[ Note:  This post mainly consists of 26 photos with captions.  All of them were taken on a Google Pixel 6 Pro smartphone and processed using Faststone Image Viewer. ]


TUESDAY 15 November – WEDNESDAY 30 November

As previously noted, the electrical service entrance was prepared on Thursday, November 10.  By this time, the weather was changing, becoming cold enough that I could no longer paint.  Any painting that remained to be done, such as the outside of the two interior shop/storeroom walls, and the sides of the staircase, would have to wait until spring 2023.  With my painting activities curtailed for the winter, and with the electrical service entrance work done, I turned my time and attention to designing the electrical plan for the building using QCAD.  Indeed, I started with the building floor plan, turned off details that were not relevant, and added new layers for all of the electrical stuff.  Outlets, switches, a sub-panel for the shop/storeroom, and wiring would be fairly straight forward; it was just a matter of how many devices, where they would be placed, and how/where the wires would be run.  Lighting, on the other hand, lead me down something of a rabbit hole researching lighting requirements and fixtures.

With a 16’ clearance to the bottom of the roof trusses, I need to use “high bay” light fixtures for the RV bays.  These fixtures are much brighter (8,000 to 35,000 lumens) than the typical “shop/utility” tube lights used in many residential garages and workshops (2,000 to 4,500 lumens).  Selecting fixtures that will work the way I need them to, required me to jump back into lighting parameters such as illumination (in lumens), color temperature (in degrees Kelvin), Color Rendition Index (CRI), beam patterns and coverage (as a function of height above the working surface), mounting/wiring methods, suitability for use in unconditioned spaces (the RV bays), and energy efficiency.  The last one was easy, as all of the lighting that I install will be LED, which has a 10:1 energy advantage over tungsten filament bulbs.  (LEDs use ~1/10 the energy of a tungsten light source for the same amount of illumination, or provide 10x the amount of illumination for a given energy consumption.)  LEDs also have a lifespan that is 10 to 50 times that of tungsten bulbs, and come in a variety of color temperatures, specifically 5,000 K (Daylight) which is appropriate for areas where work is being done.  A comparison to fluorescent lighting would probably be more appropriate, but LEDs still come our way ahead on all of these parameters.  I will have more to say on this subject once I have actually selected light sources.


The electrical service work (meter box, load center, and one duplex outlet) was inspected and approved on Wednesday, November 16.  This was a critical milestone in the project, as DTE Energy won’t do anything relative to getting power to the building unless/until this work is completed, inspected, and approved.  I e-mailed the DTE planning consultant (John B.) late in the evening to let him know this work was done.  Following this approval, I purchased the 2” Schedule 40 PVC electrical conduit and couplers from City Electric Supply in Waterford, Michigan.  They did not have the sweeps I needed, or the 22.5-degree elbows.  I found the sweeps at Lowe’s and/or Home Depot, but had to order the 22.5-degree elbows online (Amazon).


MONDAY 21 November

In spite of the cold weather, and 4” – 5” of snow on the ground, there was work that had to be done.  On the couple of occasions when it had snowed prior to today, I used a gasoline powered backpack leaf-blower to remove the snow from the electrical cable paths from the existing utility pole to the house (which had been marked by MISS DIG 811) and the area from the pole to the barn where I intended to dig a trench and install the conduit for the electric service entrance cable.

I had a few errands to run today, and when I returned I found two DTE subcontractor trucks parked in the street in front of our house, with one of them blocking the first driveway entrance.  That wasn’t a problem, as the bus is currently parked in front of the house and I had no immediate use for the first entrance.  Still, I was curious why they were there so I walked over and talked to the guy in the lead truck.

They had spent the morning working at our neighbor’s house across the street.  Our neighbors are the third owners of the first house built in this subdivision.  Built in the late 1960’s, the house still had its original 240/120V, 100A electrical service.  They are upgrading it to 200A, and that meant a new main panel, a new meter/box, a new transformer, and new cable from the pole to meter.  Their existing service was overhead wires from the pole to the house, but DTE will not upgrade those wires.  As with new construction (like our barn), they will only run cable underground from the pole/transformer to the meter on the side of building.  They also install a terminal strip on the pole a few feet below the transformer and connect the wires from the house and the transformer together at the terminal strip.  These particular sub-contractors where an “underground” crew and had spent the morning digging a trench from the pole to the meter location, installing direct-burial cable, leaving enough of it coiled up on a hangar on the pole to reach the terminal strip, and then back-filling the trench.  A DTE crew will come out and remove the old overhead cable and transformer, mount the new transformer and terminal strip, route the new cable up the pole, and make all of the connections.

The sub-contractors were on a break, and I asked if the guy would be willing to take a few minutes to look at my situation.  The thing that has been a source of confusion for me was where to end the trench/conduit, and what direction it should be pointed.  My DTE planning consultant had simply indicated “about 10’ from the existing pole.” But that lacked the specificity that I wanted as we were (apparently) also getting a new/taller utility pole that would (probably) be installed “about 5’ to either side of the existing pole.”  It would, of course, be in line with the existing overhead cables (power, broadband, and phone).  I knew that DTE would also install a ground mounted junction box/pedestal and that the wires from the house, barn, and transformer would be joined in this box.  But it was not clear exactly where the pedestal would be placed relative to the existing pole, much less the new pole in an as yet undetermined location.  My confusion/concern was also partly fueled by not having ever dealt with this before and not understanding exactly what was actually going to happen.

The sub-contractor looked at my proposed path and filled in a few critical pieces of missing information.  I learned that the junction box would (likely) be installed about 3’ from the new pole, directly away from the edge of the driveway.  If I located the end of the conduit in-line with a line offset from the existing pole by 3’, and stopped a few feet short of the possible closer junction box location, it would be a perfect setup for a crew (like his) to do what they need to do.  I also learned that they will NOT install additional conduit from my conduit to the junction box; all the cable they use is rated for “direct-burial” and does not actually require conduit.  (Conduit is nice, however, especially in rocky soil or other situations where it might be subject to damage.)  They will simply trench from the end of my conduit to the junction box/pedestal location, as well as from the pedestal location to the new pole location.  Finally, he assured me that I would not have any difficult bending the 2” Schedule 40 conduit along my indicated path.  Based on what I learned, I staked out the actual path for the trench/conduit from the barn to near the existing utility pole, using landscape flags.


TUESDAY 22 November

Today was spent digging a trench and installing approximately 90 feet of 2” Schedule 40 PVC electrical conduit, including a 36” radius sweep (quarter circle) and a 12” long 22.5 deg elbow.  The conduit will house the service entrance cables that the power company will run from the pole to the building.

My friend and fellow converted bus owner, Marty, who is a licensed electrician, agreed to come over and help with this task.  I was glad to have the help.  The work proved to be quite physical, and often required coordinated effort; I doubt that I could have accomplished it by myself.  Linda also helped, off and on throughout the day, taking breaks from her accounting work to take photos, fetch things that we needed from the garage, fixing a light lunch, and taking on the task of cleaning the rented trencher with our power washer once we were done digging.  (We had chosen this day to do the work because the high temperature was going to be well up in to the 40’s.)

But before that happened, I used yellow marker paint (spray can designed to work when inverted) and “painted” the path that I had marked with flags yesterday.  I then unloaded the 36” trencher from the trailer as I wanted to be ready to work as soon as Marty arrived around 9 AM.


On Monday evening, November 21, I rented a 36” trencher from the local Home Depot for 24 hours.  This would allow us to use the machine all day and still be able to clean it and return it on time.  (The 24-hour rental was only 22% more than the 4-hour rental.)  This particular machine digs a trench approximately 5-1/2” wide.  This photo is from 8:30 in the morning as I prepare to back the trencher off of the tilt-bed trailer, which was part of the rental.  The machine was chained down to the trailer for transport.  The only issue I had was releasing the tension on the front chain, but I eventually figured out how to loosen it.  (Photo by Linda.)


I had never operated a piece of equipment like this, but last night I studied the directions that came with it, and it seemed straight forward enough.  In this photo, I have backed the trencher up enough to cause the trailer bed to tilt down and touch the ground so I could back the trencher off onto the driveway.  (Photo by Linda.)


Marty and I decided to dig the trench for the conduit starting at the meter and working towards the utility pole.  In this photo, I am driving the trencher over to the meter box location.  Although not obvious from these photos, the overnight low temperature was in the low 20s (F) and the ground was initial quite firm.  It was not deeply frozen, however, and was easily dug.  By late morning the temperature had risen above freezing and we had a clear sky with a bright sun.  All of the areas of bare dirt (not grass) within a 15-foot radius of the meter box turned to mud, which only got worse as the day went on, with a high temperature in the low 40s (F).   (Photo by Linda.)


When digging, the trencher is driven backwards.  The operator stands on the platform at the rear and can see the digging chain when it is raised, but cannot see it when it is lowered.  I’ve just dug a short section of trench coming out from the riser conduit into the meter box, and have lifted the chain out of the ground.  Where the chain meets the body of the trencher (yellow) a horizontal auger is just visible.  When digging, the auger moves all of the dirt off to the left (when facing forward).  Visible on the safety bar above the blade is a piece of white tape.  It was already there when I picked up the machine, but turned out to correspond to an ~27’ trench depth, which is what we were aiming for.  DTE Energy requires the top of the conduit to be at least 24” below grade.  (Photo by Linda.)


I did not get a photo of the control panel, but it consisted of a choke and throttle for the engine, a control lever to lower/raise the blade, two drive controls for the left and right drive treads (like a bulldozer), and a lever to engage/disengage the chain.  The engagement lever moved sideways, and had to be pulled over with my right hand and held there while also operating the right drive tread.  It was actually easier than it sounds, and I got the hang of operating this beast fairly quickly.


Marty spots me to get the tip of the blade as close as possible to the riser conduit into the meter box, and let me know when the blade was at the correct depth.  (When the blade was lowered and digging, I could not see any of it, including the piece of white tape that served as our depth gauge.)  Because the trencher is driven backwards while digging, I was able to see the yellow stripe (about 2” wide) through the operator platform, which was perforated and ridged for good traction.  (Photo by Linda.)


Conduit assembly started at the meter box end.  I held a 36” radius sweep against the riser conduit into the meter box with the other end at the bottom of the trench while Marty marked the point where we needed to cut the riser so we could join it to the sweep.  The upper portion of the riser had a threaded fitting already installed into the meter box.  A nut inside the meter box threaded onto the fitting to secure the riser to the box.  (We set the lower portion of the riser aside after cutting it, and eventually used it as the last piece of conduit at the pole end.)  In this photo, we are adding a 22.5 deg elbow to the end of the sweep.  I held one end of the sweep against the side of the barn so that it was parallel (vertical) while the other end rested on the concrete apron (horizontal) and Marty loosely fit them together and marked them at the position where the elbow was flat on the concrete and bending in the correct direction.  We then lay the pieces down on the apron for assembly.  We could not trench in a direct line from the meter box to the pole because of several trees, but the combination of the sweep and the elbow got the conduit pointed in the direction of the straight portion of the trench.  Part of the trench is visible behind Marty.


This is a view of the trench from near the existing utility pole.  (This pole will be replaced with a taller one located within 5 feet either side of the existing one.)  The end of the conduit is propped up above the trench so we can add an additional piece to it.  The first 30’ (approx.) after the sweep/elbow is straight and angled away from the trees.  It then curves around the trees in a broad sweep.  At the pole end, the conduit is running approximately parallel to the edge of the driveway and about 3 feet farther away than the pole.


DTE requires a minimum depth of 24” from grade to the top of the conduit.  This photo shows that we are at 27” (the trench depth varied from 27” to 30”).  A single piece of this 2” Schedule 40 PVC conduit does not appear to be at all bendable.  However, the DTE contractor that was here yesterday assured me that a longer run would bend just fine for the curve I had marked out.  We added two 10’ pieces (“sticks”) at a time, and then pulled it around into the trench with no difficulty, keeping the free end out of the trench and resting it on a shovel handle set across the ditch so we could install the next piece(s).


This is the utility pole end of the trench/conduit.  The stake marks the end of the conduit.  We used a 125’ steel “fish tape” to pull a 100 foot, 7/16” rope through the conduit from the pole end and into the meter box.  (This rope has a 300 lb. pull strength.)  Marty handled the meter box end while I fed the rope into the conduit.  There was approximately 4 feet of rope at the meter box, which Marty wrapped around the meter socket before putting the cover back on.  I had about 6 feet of rope at the pole end, which is just visible in the lower right corner of the photo.  The white object in the trench is a cotton rag that I stuffed into the end of the conduit to keep dirt out.  The end of the conduit is about 6 feet from the existing utility pole (5’ to the west and 3’ to the north.  Everything after this will be done by DTE or their sub-contractors.


WEDNESDAY 23 November to MONDAY 28 November

I was sick with an upper respiratory viral infection during this time (and beyond), and nothing else much was accomplished on the barn.  I did learn on Monday that the ETA for the two large roll-up doors is now December 28 (of this year).  I also emailed our DTE planning consultant to let him know the conduit was installed in the trench and included pictures, as requested.  He indicated that he would (finally) do our plan/quote on Monday, November 28.   On Monday, I also heard from Phil at Precision Grading that he would have the 21aa stone delivered tomorrow and be on site to finish the west pull-through driveway extension to the barn.


TUESDAY 29 November

Phil arrived around 10 AM.  He got his front-loader and bulldozer unloaded from his equipment trailer and then unloaded a large roll of road/construction fabric from the box of his dump truck using forks on the front-loader.  I made myself available to help with placing the road/construction fabric, but otherwise spent most of the day cleaning up the dirt along both sides of the conduit trench.  This included gathering up medium-to-large rocks and using them as fill for the somewhat larger hole near the meter and along the first 5’ of the trench.  I took occasional breaks to take photos of the driveway work.  We both finished up around 4:30 PM.  It was a long, hard day, but a lot got accomplished.


This is a view looking SW from the SE corner of the bar showing the first pieces of road fabric in place on the “1×3” stone and crushed concrete base layer.  Phil is standing in front of the front loader at the left of the photo.  His dump truck and equipment trailer are in the street.  The bulldozer is barely visible at the far corner of the barn.


This is a view looking W from near the existing utility pole at the edge of the existing west pull-through driveway.  The area covered by the road fabric is the new driveway extension/approach for the barn.  This is where most of the new gravel will be placed.  This new area will slope down to the SW, away from the barn and from the yard to the right in this photo.  (Note that the yard to the right will drain to the NW and surface water will flow N along the east side of the barn and then flow W past the rear of the barn.  Phil had previously graded the area around the barn, but will return at some point to add soil and regrade this area to ensure proper drainage.)


This is a view looking NE from the SW corner of the existing pull-through driveway.  The curved edge of the new area to the left is to accommodate the left steer tire of the bus when swinging around from the pull-through driveway to pull into the left RV bay.


This is a view looking SE from the SW corner of the barn.  The pull-through driveway slopes down from just before the existing utility pole all the way to the street.  The yard on the other side of the new driveway extension slopes towards the camera and to the left.  The new driveway extension slopes away from the barn and away from the yard to the right and down towards the street.


This is a view looking SW as the gravel train prepares to back into the driveway and dump the gravel from the rear trailer.  Phil will help the driver get it positioned so that the gravel pile is mostly on the road fabric.


The first load of stone has been dumped and the truck is pulling out while lowering the trailer box.  The driver pulled to the far side of the street and then unhooked the rear trailer so he could back in and dump the main truck box.


This is the second load of stone and is being dumped from the actual dump truck.  The two piles of gravel visible here contain a lot more gravel that it might appear (approximately 20 cubic yards, or about 60,000 pounds).


In this photo, Phil is using the front loader to scoop up the gravel and move it to various locations on the road fabric.


Here, Phil is using the front-loader to deposit/spread the 21aa stone.


Phil needed more stone to finish the job.  He had some at his shop, which isn’t too far from our property, so he dropped his equipment trailer and took his dump truck to get it.  His stone is darker than what was delivered earlier, due to being a bit wet.


Once all of the gravel was placed and spread somewhat evenly, Phil switched to the bulldozer to grade it.


Besides getting a relatively flat surface and consistent thickness, Phil used the bulldozer to carefully grade the stone along the edges.  The bulldozer is very heavy, so it also created some compaction of the stone.


Buy the end of the day, the new driveway extension was a surface that could be driven on comfortably, but was not as compacted as I wanted it to be.  In the next few days, I would use the F-150 to drive back and worth over the gravel from a variety of directions to pack the surface, but that’s for a future post.


WEDNESDAY 30 November

One of the carpenters from Patriot Builders was here today to install the locking door knobs and deadbolts for the entry, shop, and storeroom doors.  The three door knobs and two deadbolts (shop and storeroom) were all keyed alike.


Exterior view of the shop door with the locking door knob and deadbolt installed.


Exterior view of the storeroom door with the locking door knob and deadbolt installed.


Interior side of the entry door with the locking door knob installed.  Besides the window, this door has deeper jams to match the thickness of the wall, protruding 1/2” into the interior to accommodate drywall or plywood, should we wish to add that in the future.


The exterior side of the entry door with the locking door knob installed.  This slightly broader view shows the panel detailing on the lower portion of the door and a bit more of the window.

Special Blog Post for 202211(01-14) – Accessory Building Project Update

[ Note:  This post consists of 13 photographs with captions.  All photos were taken on a Google Pixel 6 Pro smartphone and post-processed with Faststone Image Viewer. ]


TUESDAY 01 – MONDAY 14 November


A view of the shop looking toward the NE corner from the door in the SW corner.  The ceiling/joists and walls have been primed with Killz-2 using an airless sprayer and then painted with Valspar Pro Storm Coat Exterior semi-gloss acrylic white paint.  The spray nozzle clogged frequently and the whole process was messy and inefficient.  Still, it was probably better than doing the joists and the OSB on the ceiling with a brush and roller.

The stairs to the storeroom.  The risers have been primed and painted white.  The treads have been primed and painted light gray using Valspar Pro Deck, Floor, & Porch anti-skid paint.  The stair walls and the spaces at either end of each step have been trimmed in 1x pine but have not yet been primed/painted.  The doors for the shop and storeroom have been installed.

The extension of the west pull-through driveway to the front of the barn.  Phil (Precision-Grading) was here most of the day on the 5th, initially redistributing the 1×3 crushed concrete based, and then finish grading the dirt on the other three sides of the barn.

The view of the accessory building from the NW after the finish grading.  The grades on the E, N, and S sides were sloped away from the building a bit more and tapered gradually into the existing terrain.  That created some extra dirt in addition to the large and small piles that were already there.  Phil had me designate low areas to fill in, and I selected ones that were both obviously in need of some fill and not too far from the building to make it efficient for him.

The main/permanent entry door for the barn.  The carpenters removed the temporary one and replaced it with this one.  Besides the class window, this door has extra deep jams which will allow it to be properly finished off if I ever decide to install paneling/drywall and trim.

Looking straight up the stairs to the storeroom, the risers and trim have been primed/painted white and the treads have been primed/painted light gray with anti-slip floor paint.  Although not visible, the landing at the top of the stairs and the floor of the storeroom have also been primed and painted with the light gray anti-slip paint.  Everything will have two coats of paint when the job is done, although some of that might not happen until spring 2023.

The carpenters trimmed between the OSB and the stairs, under the trim on the top and front of the walls, and along the floor.  I was able to get all of this primed and painted (one coat) before the weather turned too cold.  The Valspar Pro Storm Coat paint can be applied down to 35 degrees (F), but the weekend after these photos were taken, the lows started dropping into the mid-to-low 20s (F) at night and only rising into the 30s during the day.  That signaled the end of the painting until spring.  As is obvious in these photos, the larger walls that enclose the shop and storeroom have not been primed and painted yet, a big job that will have to wait until next year.

The electrician (Bill) was finally able to fit our barn into his extensive commitments and install the service entrance.  Seen here is the meter can and riser conduit on the SE corner of the building.

The meter can with the cover removed.  The black and red wires are the two ‘hot’ leads (L1 and L2) and the bare aluminum wire is the neutral, all going to the load center on the other side of the wall.  The conduit lower/left is where the wires from DTE will come into the meter can and attach to the lugs at the top of the box.  The meter blades will plug into the four vertical spring-slots and then the cover will go back on and be secured by DTE.

The electricians had to chisel out part of the foundation to allow the riser conduit descend vertically (more or less) below ground level.  I will install the 2” Schedule 40 PVC Conduit that connects to this pipe and runs through the yard to junction box by the utility pole (once it is installed).  I will rent a trencher from The Home Depot in Howell for this work.  The horizontal white device is just a clamp for the ground wire.  The wire coming up from this device goes through the wall and into the bottom of the load center; it does not go through the meter can.  It leaves the clamp through the bottom and then runs to the right where it attaches to two, 8’ long copper ground rods driven into the ground next to the foundation.

The top few inches of both ground rods are visible, as is the bare copper ground wire that connects them to the ground bus (and case) of the load center.

Shown here is the Siemen’s 240/120V – 200A Load Center.  The service entrance cable and ground wire come through the wall and up into the bottom of the load center.  Just visible at the top/right is a yellow 12-2+G Romex cable that feeds a duplex outlet out of sight to the left of the photo.

I put in a request for the Miss Dig 811 service late last week with a work start date of November 10.  I had to create an account and do the whole thing online, but it was otherwise a fairly smooth process.  The only caveat was that I could not draw the work area polygon using the pencil on my iPad Pro and ended up having to do the whole thing on my laptop computer.  The confirmation said the site would be marked not later than 12:57 PM on November 10.  The utility location service showed up around noon on that date, and was done before one o’clock.  The flags and paint for the DTE electric (magenta) and the AT&T phone (orange) cables to the house are marked.  (The AT&T cable is no longer in use.)  We have natural gas and broadband cable on the property as well, but they are on the other end of the house, well away from the work area, and did not need to be marked.


Blog Post for 202210(18-31) – Accessory Building Project Update

[ Note:  This post covers updates on the accessory building (barn) project for the 14 days from Tuesday, October 18 through Monday, October 31, 2022.  There are three photos with captions. ]


TUESDAY 18 October

The accessory building (barn) is so close to being done that I am getting a bit impatient for it to actually be finished.  Which is to say, to have all of the stuff the builder is taking care taken care of.  Once he is done, there will still be a lot for us to do, but most of it cannot be started until all the permitted details are complete and he has gotten the final inspections.  Top of the list, for me, is all of the electrical work that I still have to do, and the first step is arranging for our electric utility, DTE Energy, to run power to the building.  I put in my service request with them on Wednesday, October 12, and expected to hear back from a planning consultant not later than tomorrow.  I now have to design the electrical plan, which I will do in QCAD (the same software I used to design the building).

In the meantime, the one thing I can do is prime and paint the walls in the shop and storeroom, as well as the risers on the stairs, and then prime and paint the floor in the storeroom and the treads on the stairs.


WEDNESDAY 19 October

The HVAC technician (Mike) from Lakeside Services (Lakeside Heating and Cooling) arrived around 1 PM today to service the Bosch hot-water baseboard heating system for the house, and the heating portion of the Bryant HVAC unit for the library.  He was here until about 3:30 PM.

I spent most of the day at my desk working on the final post for our trip and a parallel post for the activities this past week related to the accessory building (barn) project.  I knew that the electrician might be here sometime this week, and by mid-afternoon I had it in the back of my mind that I should   check to see if he was on site.  I went outside around 2:45 PM and saw several vehicles down by the barn, so I walked down to check it out.  I could hear the unmistakable sound of a circular saw, so figured it was probably not the electrician.  I was right.

What I found instead were three vehicles and three carpenters.  The crew chief was Rob, who is Patriot Builders lead finish carpenter.  (Chuck, the owner, is a framing carpenter, and Garrett, who I met last week, does both framing and finish work.)  A bit to my surprise, they were installing OSB on the inside of the studs for the sides of the staircase, and also installing OSB on the interior of the shop and storeroom walls.  I had not realized they were going to finish off the stairs, and had (apparently) forgotten that they were going to finish off the walls.  All of which was great.  I had a brief, but very nice, chat with Rob and then left them to work in peace without any more interference from me.  I texted Chuck to let him know the guys were here and that I met them briefly.


THURSDAY 20 October

Sometime around this date the DTE planning consultant assigned to our work order showed up on site (unannounced).  I was in the middle of painting, but obviously stopped to give him whatever time he needed.  We had a very nice chat about what I was trying to accomplish.  By the time he left, it was clear that he wanted to have DTE run power to the barn from the same transformer that powers the house.  It also appeared that he had determined that we needed a larger transformer, but also needed a new utility pole, possibly taller than the current one, located within ~5 feet of the current one.  As best he could tell from the ground, he thought our current transformer was 10KVA and said something about switching it to a 25KVA.  He indicated that wire from the junction box to the barn would be $10/foot (I would need close to 100 feet) and there would be a charge for the new/larger transformer, but probably not more than $1,500.

I pointed out that the house already has a 240V/200A main load center and 240V/100A, secondary load center (not a subpanel), and that the barn would have a 240V/200A load center as well.  I noted that 24KVA is only 100A at 240V (or 200A at 120V), so a 25KVA transformer would still be far below the capacity of my three load centers, and that my total existing loads exceed the load center capacities.  This is actually typical, as load centers never draw their full rating, and probably rarely draw half of their full rating for more than a short period of time.  Still, as long as we are going to the trouble and expense of doing this work, I wanted to make sure the new transformer was adequately sized.  (My research later revealed that the next size up from DTE is 50KVA.)

As I understood the order of events, it would go something like this:  0) Get confirmation that the meter can, load center, and an outlet have been installed in the barn by a licensed electrician and the installation has been inspected and approved by the permitting authority (Livingston County Building Department, in this case).  1)  Deliver new pole to the site.  2) Install the new pole, transformer, and terminal strip.  3) Install a junction box in the ground about 5 feet from the new pole.  4)  Disable the power to the existing transformer.  5)  Move the existing wires to the new pole.  6) Run wires from the new transformer to the terminal strip.  6) Run new/large wires down the pole from the terminal strip to the junction box.  7) Connect the existing wires from the house to the junction box.  8)  Pull the new wires for the barn from the meter box to the junction box.  (I will have the 2” PVC conduit already installed in a trench.)  9)  Install the new meter for the barn.  10)  Energize the new transformer.

He indicated that it would likely be a month before this got done, but to get the process moving along, and provide me with the cost estimate, he needed the LOAD SHEET, asap.  He also ‘suggested’ that I include any/every thing I thought I ‘might’ possible ever want to power.  I got the sense that this LOAD SHEET was part of a justification/approval process for the cost of whatever work has to be done, determining what our share of that initial cost will be, and what payback the utility company can expect.

I already had the LOAD SHEET pdf, and it indicated that most of it has to be filled out and signed by a licensed electrician.  I explained that the meter can and load center were being handled by the builder’s electrician, but that I did not have my own electrician for the job.  I explained that I have an EE background, but am not an electrician, and asked it would suffice for me to fill it out myself?  He didn’t say ‘no,’ which I took to mean ‘yes,’ or at least ‘okay, not great, but I’ll work with that.’  He also made it clear he needed it sooner rather than later.

From this meeting forward, I continued painting during the day when it was warm enough and I had some daylight to work with.  In the evenings, I worked on determining the loads I would need to power and filling in the LOAD SHEET.


FRIDAY 21 October

The floor joists for the storeroom floor are exposed on the underside in the shop, and I do not plan to install a flat ceiling onto them.  With that in mind, I thought it might be easier to prime/paint the joists and the underside of the OSB storeroom floor with a paint sprayer.  I don’t own one and have never used one.  Thinking this might be a one-time use, not wanting to spend a fortune, and not having an air-compressor with adequate CFM or an oil/water separator/filter, I got a Wagner Control Pro 130 airless sprayer at the local Lowe’s.  I chose Killz-2 for the latex primer and Valspar Pro Storm Coat semi-gloss acrylic latex for the paint.  Even though I will be using the paint inside, this exterior paint is formulated to deal with outdoor temperatures with cracking.  It can also be applied down to 35 degrees (F), so well suited to what I needed to accomplish given the time of year.


FRIDAY 28 October

Towards the end of the afternoon, I finally uploaded the LOAD SHEET to my DTE planning consultant, along with an Excel Spreadsheet I had created to catalog my current and future loads, both for the house and for the barn.


MONDAY 31 October

For the balance of this post, I am going to just include a few photos.

The south/interior wall of the shop with a view through the door to the area under the storeroom stairs.  Closed-cell spray-foam insulation is visible between the floor joists for the storeroom above.  The walls have been spray-foamed and then covered with OSB.

The stairs leading up to the storeroom as seen from the large/west bay door opening.  The side paneling and studs have been removed under the high end of the stairs.  The area under the landing has never enclosed as the door the to shop is there.

The storeroom looking SW from the NE corner.  The floor has been masked off at the base of the walls for painting.  Likewise, the Velox sun-tunnel diffuser in the center of the ceiling has been masked off.  The transparent painter’s plastic had the unexpected benefit of spreading the light out more towards the walls.  The step ladder is a 6-foot model.  The ceiling height is ~7 feet.


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.


















20220928 – A visit to the Eastman Museum in Rochester, New York and lunch at the Red Fern nearby

WEDNESDAY 28 September

(All photos taken with a Google Pixel 6 Pro smartphone.)

I was in bed before midnight last night, unusual for me, so I was up this morning just after 7 AM.  Linda did not go to bed until 11 PM and got up around 7:30.  We had our usual two cups of coffee, but Linda made pancakes for breakfast, with a side of fresh bananas, blueberries, and strawberries.  A special treat, and a nice way to start the day.

The weather forecast for today was for cool, overcast conditions, with small possibility of rain, but was much nicer for the following three days.  We thought we would visit some of the wineries on Canandaigua Lake as we are camped just north of it, so we spent some time researching the six establishments on the Canandaigua Lake Wine Trail.

The conservatory as seen from the dining room.  The console for the pipe organ is at the far end and some of the pipes are installed in the 1st and 2nd floor walls beyond that.  Most of the house was dimly lit, but the conservatory was full of light even on this overcast day.  Like many wealthy individuals of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, George Eastman liked to hunt and had two hunting lodges.  George Eastman House / Museum, Rochester, New York.

One of them was not open today, one was basically a wine store in Canandaigua, one had what appeared to be fruit juice infused wines that could be used to make spritzers, and one was a “boutique” winery that required reservations, and all of them appeared to be tasting rooms, not the actual wineries.  So that was:  no go, no, no way, and not interested.  Most of them indicated what grapes were used to make each wine but some didn’t, an absolute non-starter for us, and most of them were based on grapes that fairly commonly used in the products we can buy at good wine stores at home.

It didn’t seem worth the time and fuel to drive down just for the other two wineries, so we scraped the wine trail idea for today and decided instead to visit the Eastman Museum in Rochester, New York, just a 30-minute drive northwest of our campground.  I took up photography as a serious hobby when I was 16, so I’ve been trying to be a photographer for some 54 years now and the Eastman Museum seemed like a good place to spend an otherwise dreary day.  We left the KOA around 11:30 AM and were at the museum by noon.

Part of the stair case between the 1st and 2nd floors of the George Eastman House.  This is the view from the landing.  The stairs to the 3rd floor are visible, but were closed to public access.

The Eastman Museum is located on the grounds of George Eastman’s Rochester, New York 10-acre estate on East Avenue.  East Avenue was obviously the place where the wealthy of late 19th-century Rochester built their magnificent homes and mansions.  A trip to that area just to look at the architecture would have been worth the time, but we were they to visit the museum.

The museum complex included his magnificent home and gardens which are open to tour with paid admission.  Indeed, the museum (galleries, archives, offices, and labs), theater, gift shop, café, and lobby are joined to the house to form a single building.  The collection, small pieces of which are periodically rotated into the publicly accessible galleries, contains over 400,000 photographs and 28,000 motion pictures, including the original negatives for Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz.  The museum also has an extensive collection of photographic technology going back to the earliest days of photography in the 19th century.  It’s an excellent museum, and we spent about 2-1/2 hours going through the house and all of the galleries.

The East Garden at the George Eastman House as seen from his mother Maria’s bedroom window.  Eastman Museum, Rochester, New York.

When we arrived at the Canandaigua-Rochester KOA yesterday, Linda research vegan dining options and discovered that Veg News had rated Rochester, New York “the best small city in America for vegans.”  That did not automatically translate into lots of vegan dining options, but she did locate the Red Fern, just 0.4 miles from the museum, so we went there for lunch.

The Red Fern was a small place in a half-basement (the upper half of the dinning room was above grade level), in a nice neighborhood, with a nice selection of items on the menu.  Linda had the ABLT (Avocado Bacon Lettuce Tomato) sandwich with a salad on the side, and I had the Buffalo Blue Cheese Focaccia sandwich, also with a salad on the side.  My sandwich was huge, so I only ate half of it and got a to-go box for the other half.  Linda had a chocolate brownie for dessert, and I had a crumb-top apple cider jam bar thingy.  The brownie was huge, so she only ate half of it and got a to-go box for the rest.  Everything was very tasty and reasonably priced (in our opinion).

The ‘modern’ 4-manual organ console.  This console replaced the original 30-manual console after the organ was enlarged.  It was, and probably still is, the largest pipe organ installed in a residence in the U.S.  George Eastman House / Museum, Rochester, New York.

From the Red Fern we set our navigation system for the Wegman’s supermarket in Canandaigua.  It took about 45 minutes to get there, including long slow rolls through the town of Victor and then Canandaigua itself.

This was our first ever visit to a Wegman’s and all I can say is “Wow!”  The store was very large and the variety of items they stocked, including some we had never seen before, was almost overwhelming.  Their whole-foo, plant-based (vegan) offerings were as good or better than we had ever seen anywhere else.  They also had a restaurant (drinks and live music on the weekends), a sub sandwich shop, and extensive deli section that included a “burger bar”, an “Asian bar”, and a “Sushi bar.”  You could even order Food to Go and drop by to pick up your prepared meal.  We didn’t actually need anything, but we found a vegan parmesan cheese, and picked up a container of Just Egg, some vegan butter, and a pack of paper bowls.  We will probably go back on Saturday and restock the refrigerator and panty before heading to Hershey, Pennsylvania on Sunday.

This opening is in the ceiling of the 2nd floor just above where the staircase from the first floor reaches the 2nd floor.  George Eastman House at the Eastman Museum, Rochester, New York.

What we did not find was the specific Dr. Elsey’s cat liter than Linda likes.  There was a Petco across the street, so we went there and, voila!, there was the specific liter that we had not seen since leaving home in mid-June.  Our shopping done, we returned to camp.

Back at camp there was another airstream travel trailer in our row, in addition to the one three rows back.  Another one came later, making four in our section of the RV park, including ours.  There was another one in the far west section when we arrived yesterday.  We didn’t notice if it was still here, so there might be five of them here.  That would be a surprisingly high percentage of the total occupancy at the moment.

For dinner, I finished my sandwich from lunch while Linda had a cheese sandwich and finished her brownie from lunch.  After dinner, she read while I worked on the blog posts and photos for yesterday and today.  At 8:30 PM, we streamed the next episode of The Great British Baking Show.  Linda headed off to bed at here usual 10 o’clock hour.  I stayed up long enough to finish and publish the blog posts for yesterday and today and made it to bed just after midnight.

The West Garden at the George Eastman House as seen from the  parking lot entrance at the Eastman Museum, Rochester, New York.

20220927 – A travel day; Verona, NY (TVaTSRvPk) to Canandaigua-Rochester KOA Holiday, Farmington, NY

TUESDAY 27 September

Linda was up this morning around 7:15 and I got up at 7:45.  Since it was a travel day, we each had a cup of half-caff coffee as soon as we got up, and a slice of toast with Mango-Peach jam for breakfast.  Check-out time was 11 AM, and the check-in time at our next location, the Canandaigua-Rochester KOA Holiday in Farmington, New York, was 1 PM.  We had less than 100 miles to travel, and all but ~5 miles would be on the New York State Thruway (I-90) at 65 mph.  Linda called the KOA to see if we could arrive early.  There was someone in the site, but they were required to be gone by 11 AM, so no problem arriving after that.  We targeted a 10:30 AM departure in order to be there by 12:15 – 12:30, and started breaking camp around 9 AM.

I often do not have too many photos (if any) for travel days, and we rarely venture out after we arrive and set up camp, other than a quick grocery and/or fuel run.  That affords me the time (luxury) of being able to wax philosophical, to contemplate and reflect on the more general experience of being extended-time RVers.  Thus, I seem to have the most to say on the days where we have had the least to do.

This was our second of two, two-night stays in a row.  We had a very nice stay at The Villages at Turning Stone RV Park in Verona/Oneida, New York.  It was an attractive, and well-maintained park, and we were able to do our laundry in their nice laundry room.  There wasn’t much for us to do here, however, as we had no intention of visiting the casino, the resort restaurant, or the live music venue.  Still, we could have sat here another day, especially if the rain let up and the sun re-appeared.  But also, because a two-night stay is actually more work than a one-night layover.

We go through the same process, and the same amount of work, for a two-night stay as for one of much longer duration.  For a one-night stay, we can often leave the truck and trailer hitched together and just plug in the shorepower cord.  We always travel with enough water in the fresh water tank that we can easily run off of that for a night or more (depending on how full the fresh water tank is, of course).  We also do not need to dump waste water before we pull out the next day.  That’s not a complaint, just the reasons we prefer to stay three or more nights wherever we stop.  It helps if there are also interesting/accessible things to see and do in the area.

The Villages at Turning Stone RV Park was on a municipal water supply, so I did not hook-up our freshwater pressure regulator, filter, and water softener when we arrived.  I also did not hook up the sewer hose because it was raining, and it wasn’t necessary that it be done right then.  But the tanks needed to be dumped before we pulled out, and that was my second departure task.  (My first one was to pack up my laptop computer and move our technology to the truck.)  We had prepared the trailer/truck for departure enough times by now that we had a good handle on how much time it would take; 1-1/2 hours allowed for a deliberate, but leisurely pace.

It took me quite a few small adjustments to line up the truck/stinger with the trailer/hitch, but I got it done.  The problem was the way the site curved out, restricting how far I could pull straight forward in front of the trailer.  I do better when I can start from farther away.  Even so, we were ready to go by 10:30, but decided to walk over to the office building and use the restrooms, as much to stretch our legs as anything else.  We pulled out of our site at 10:45 AM.

The drive on I-90 was smooth and uneventful, just the way we like it.  We took exit 43 at Manchester and dropped down onto NY-96, headed west to County 28 / Macedon Road, and then south to Canandaigua Farmington Town Line Road, which only ran west from there.  It was just over a mile to the KOA.  I was disappointed in our fuel economy, 10.5 mpg average, but we did travel at 65 mph for most of the trip, and the transmission shifted down frequently as we climbed grades.

Our rig, slightly left of center frame, as seen from the other side of the pond at the Canandaigua Rochester KOA in Farmington, New York.

We pulled into the KOA at 12:30 PM.  As usual, Linda got us registered while I sync’d my phone app to the LevelMatePro+ in the trailer.  We were assigned site 18, a 50A/FHU pull-through with a patio (W3W=”hottest.sesame.dishing“).  (This was the second time we had site #18 on our trip.)  It was clear how to get to it and pull in, but a man from the campground insisted on leading us there and directing us in.  Neither service was necessary, but the escort to the site was appreciated, and he was helpful in getting me on the gravel with the truck somewhat aligned with the trailer.  He was surprised, however, that our trailer door was towards the rear and positioned us in the site where he thought we would want to be, with the door/stairs opening onto the patio.  He was wrong, but that was OK.  Sometimes the best/only thing you can do is say “thank you.”  I indicated that I needed to reposition the rig slightly, both to level, side-to-side, and position it so the truck would fit in front of it.  He returned to the office to help the next arrival.

As it turned out, I was able to back the trailer up to a position where it was level, side-to-side without having to use any of our leveling components.  And it was only 3.75” low in the front, so that was easily adjusted after we secured the trailer tires and unhitched.  As a bonus, this location put our shore connections exactly opposite the utility hook-ups.  Winner, winner, tofu dinner.  I plugged in the shorepower while Linda moved Juniper-the-Cat to the trailer.  This is always a necessary first step, as I have to lift the rear seat in the truck to get to the tools we use to for the hitching/unhitching process.

There was rain in the forecast for later in the afternoon, but for now, it was sunny with a breeze, so I went ahead and hooked up the water and sewer hose.  We had seen fire hydrants along the road, so Linda had asked in the office if the park was on a municipal water supply.  It was, so once again I did not hook up the fresh water pressure regulator, filter, and water softener.  I powered up our Verizon Jetpack Mi-Fi and moved it around the rig to find the best signal.  It ended up on the nightstand in the bedroom this time, with the Netgear flat panel antenna attached looking north towards Farmington, and the Thruway.  All told, it took us about an hour to “make camp.”

For lunch, Linda reheated the leftover risotto from Sunday night’s dinner, and served it with a banana and a slice of Italian bread.  Yum.  We went for a stroll around the campground after lunch, and watched as additional RVs rolled in every now and then.  The park was far from full, but also far from empty.

The center of the rear section of the park was clearly seasonal sites, with a variety of RVs that had obviously not been moved in a long time.  Most of them had wood patio decks, and the usual paraphernalia that clearly identifies a seasonal (permanent) RV/site.  But we understand that seasonal/permanent RVs provide an important and reliable income stream for an RV park, while requiring minimal park employee labor.  Also, seasonal sites almost always have metered electric, so the RV park does not have to be concerned with how much power they use.  They do, however, have to read the meter (usually once a month) and collect payment from the customer.

Our walk took us by the office, where we chatted with the woman on duty (presumed to be the owner).  She gave us a variety of pamphlets and brochures on things to see and do in the area, especially wineries, as we expressed an interest in those.

Back at our rig, we both set up our computers.  I checked e-mail and then started working on today’s blog post while Linda checked her e-mail and then worked on entering and reconciling our financial transactions.

For dinner, Linda made black beans & rice in the Instant Pot.  (She also used this for the risotto on Sunday.)  I always find beans & rice a tad bland, but Linda had anticipated that and put the Chipotle Tabasco sauce on the table.  She put a little on hers too, and agreed that it “kicked it up a notch” (‘props’ to Emeril Lagasse).  After dinner we relaxed for a bit with our iPads until our Tuesday evening FBI programs on CBS started at 8 PM.  Linda was off to bed as soon as the shows ended at 11 PM, and I was in bed before midnight.

We are not in “vacation” mode, because we don’t take vacations, but we have migrated into a kind of “tourist” mode, and a “returning-to-life-at-home” mode as we have approached the end of our summer/fall 2022 grand tour.  (I think this started with the Pirate Cove Adventure Mini-Golf in Bar Harbor, Maine.)  Indeed, one of our main foci in the Finger Lakes region of New York will be visiting wineries/meaderies.  This region is known for its Riesling wines, and related wines like Gewürztraminer, so we will certainly be on the lookout for those, but probably won’t buy very many bottles of either as they are common wines easily found at good wine shops.  We will be looking for wines that are a bit different from our everyday choices, but still to our taste and within the price range we are willing to pay for fermented fruit juice.  This will include “fruit” (non-grape) wines, meads, and grape wines like Cabernet Franc and Rivaner.  (Black Tower Rivaner is supposedly available at the State Liquor Store in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, so I hope to buy some there if we don’t find another Rivaner wine before then.)

20220925&26 – Brookwood RV Resort (Ticonderoga) to The Villages at Turning Stone RV Park (Verona/Oneida), New York

SUNDAY 25 September

(The six photos in this post were all taken on September 26, under better weather and light conditions, with a Google Pixel 6 Pro phone.  Some of them are inserted into the post for the 25th because that’s where they apply.)

Today was another travel day for us, so we had one cup of half-caff coffee and a Kashi Honey Almond bar for breakfast.  This is only the third time we have had back-to-back two-night stays, but our next two destinations are five nights each.  Only twice have we stayed somewhere for just one night, but they were followed by longer stays.  We have one more one-night stay, followed by a two-night stay, just before we get home.

The camp ground we just left, Brookwood RV Resort, was selected as one of two convenient waypoints between Stowe, Vermont and the west end of New York’s Finger Lakes region, but we made good use of our one full day there, and it was simply a nice place to camp with wonderful owners.  Clearly there was much more to do in the area, including the Fort at Ticonderoga (which we have visited before) and the whole Lake George area.  For that matter, Lake Placid was about an hour’s drive northwest of the RV Resort, and we have not ever explored the enormous Adirondack State Park.  But we have a target date for being home, and there is only so much you can see if a 4-month trip through six provinces (Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland & Labrador) and six states (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio), not including our home state of Michigan on each end of the trip.

Today’s destination, The Villages at Turning Stone, was also a convenient waypoint enroute to the Finger Lakes region of New York.  But we had also stayed here at least twice before, so we knew it was a very nice RV park, and very convenient to the New York Thruway (I-90) while being far enough away to not hear any noise.  It’s part of the Turning Stone Casino & Resort complex, an Enterprise of the Oneida Nation.

This is the view of the office from the arrival lane at The Villages at Turning Stone RV Park.  It sets the tone for the entire park.

Our next destination had a 1 PM check-in time, so we targeted a 10 AM departure and set about getting ready to leave around 8:30 AM.  Because the service attachments were so conveniently located near the driver side tires of the trailer, we decided to use the black tank flush feature and fill the black tank to 85% of full (~30 gallons) and give it a good flush before dumping the grey tank.  The last couple of times we have dumped the black tank, the level sensor system went down to 10% and then jumped back up to 35%, and then went down to 5% and jumped back up to 55%.  RV tank sensors are notorious for giving erroneous readings (and then eventually failing altogether), but that is mostly due (I think) to the tanks never getting full before dumping and/or never getting cleaned.  While we would rather not “waste” 30 gallons of potable water, we would also prefer to have a correctly functioning tank level monitoring system.  And the only way to do that, without having a tank cleaning service or installing an aftermarket whirligig, is to fill it with clean water and then drain it, multiple times if needed.

Even with a bit of neighborly chatting, we were packed and ready go in time to pull out of our site at 10:15 AM.  We set the destination in the F-150 navigation system and selected “fastest” route, knowing that we were going to immediately not go the way it plotted, and that it was going to persistently try to put us on its calculated route.

Rather than head south on NY-9N we headed north, back through Ticonderoga, all the way to NY-74, and took that west to its terminus at I-87 in Severance; 21.1 miles with an estimated travel time of 29 minutes.  It was a beautiful, winding road through a valley with Eagle Lake and Pharaoh Lake to the north and the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area to the south.  It was mostly posted 45 mph, but got us through/over the mountains and was also the shortest way to get from our RV park to I-87.

From there we took I-87 south all the way to the interchange with I-90 just northwest of Albany; 87.76 miles with an estimated travel time of 1 hour 29 minutes.  The GPS was fine with that until we didn’t leave I-87 for the more direct (and presumably faster) route(s) it wanted us to take.  It tried to take us off I-87 at every southwest road option that we passed, and turn us around when we “missed” it.  (It eventually occurred to us that we had the navigation system configured to “Avoid Toll Roads,” and it was doing everything it could to keep us off of I-90 (the New York Thruway), which is how we planned to go.)

I-87 was posted 65 mph most of the way, with an occasional slow down to 55 mph, so I set the cruise control at 65 mph, and only backed off as traffic or speed limits dictated.  Although counter-intuitive, we get good fuel economy at this speed because the transmission can shift up into 9th gear and drop the engine rpm back.  (Except when climbing hills, where it downshifts and raises the engine rpm.)  Southbound traffic continued to increase the farther south we traveled, and was heavy, but manageable, by the time we came into the Albany area.  (We presumed that a lot of the southbound traffic was probably folks booking it back to civilization after a weekend “up north” in the Adirondacks.)  The transition onto I-90 west involved a keep-right, keep-right, keep-left in fairly quick succession, but we knew about it ahead of time and I was able to maneuver the rig without any issues.  (We study maps before making routing decisions, and zoom in to make sure we can see details such as interchanges.)

I-90 is the New York Thruway, and uses EZ-Pass for electronic toll collection.  (Indeed, we never saw any evidence of toll actual booths.)  We had our EZ-Pass stuck to the windshield and sailed through the full speed overhead readers.  (Before we left home, Linda had put money in the account and made sure it was linked to a valid credit card.)  From where we got on I-90 to the entrance to The Villages at Turning Stone RV Park was 112.7 miles, with an estimated travel time of 1 hour 49 minutes.  The total mileage for our drive today was 221 miles and the estimated travel time was 3 hours 47 minutes.  We arrived at 2 PM with an actual travel time of 3 hours 45 minutes, and we averaged over 12 miles per gallon.  Not bad.

This is the view that greeted us as we pulled away from the check-in lane into the RV Park.

The Villages at Turning Stone RV Park is a really nice RV park, and you see/sense that as soon as you turn in to the entrance road and pull up to the office building.  As usual, Linda went in to register us and I popped into the trailer to turn on the LevelMatePro+ and sync my phone app to it.  This was the first place on our trip where they offered discounts for membership in several RV groups.  Linda said we were members of FMCA and Escapees, but didn’t have cards in her wallet for either one.  They applied the discount, but said she needed to return with a valid membership card.

Just before the turn into the River Birch Village section of the park.  Our trailer is in site 102, center left.  The sites here were spacious pull-throughs with 50A/FHU services.

We were assigned Site 102, a paved, 50A/FHU, pull-through (W3W=”opened.delights.carries“).  The site was long enough, but had a curved entry from, and curved exit to, the roads.  This made it difficult to get the truck lined up with the trailer (it’s a hitch thing) AND get the combination position nicely on the pavement.  In the end, I opted for aligned over perfect position. (If the truck and trailer are not aligned fairly well we cannot lower the trailer tongue jack.)

We drove through off-and-on rain the last hour before reaching The Villages, but quit by the time we got there.  We started setting up without precipitation, but it started to drizzle lightly as I was hooking up the utilities.  I got the shorepower connected and just made a direct water connection (no filter or water softener).  (I left the sewer hose for the morning of our departure.)

We got set up inside (it was raining outside) and were glad to see that we had a decent cellular signal for our phones and Verizon Jetpack Mi-Fi.  Linda checked our travel wallet, and it turned out that we didn’t have printed cards with us for either FMCA or Escapees.  We were able to log in to both websites and “print” them to PDFs, which I then e-mailed to our phones.

Linda walked over to the office only to find that it had closed on 5 PM.  Indeed, that was when it closes Sunday through Thursday, staying open later on Friday and Saturday.  No problem, we would just deal with it in the morning.

For dinner, Linda made mushroom risotto with greens and we had a little wine to go with it.  After dinner I worked on the blog post a bit.  We then spent the evening watching a couple of shows on PBS, the new seasons of:  “Lucy Worsley Investigates – The Black Death” and “Van der Valk.”


MONDAY 26 September

Since this was just a layover stop for us, we had no plans to do any sightseeing or visit any attractions in the area.  We also had no plans to visit the casino, even though they run a free shuttle between the RV park and the Casino.  As such, we were in no hurry this morning.  We did, however, have chores and errands to attend to.

First up was laundry.  Check-out time was 11 AM and check-in time was 1 PM, so Linda figured morning would be the ideal time to do the laundry.  We both got showers and then gathered up the laundry, including towels and such.  We had enough for two baskets, but only had one basket with us, so we sorted the laundry into two loads.  We don’t normally bother, but I wanted to run a ‘hot’ load.

The front view of the office building at The Villages at Turning Stone RV Park.  The office and store are to the right, the laundry, TV room, and meeting room are to the left.  Linda is sitting on the bench in front of the laundry room door.

We carried one basket over to the laundry room in the main office building, which is relatively close to our site.  The laundry room was spacious, and had four washing machines, four dryers, and a large table for sorting and folding.  None of the machine were in use, so we split the first load into two washing machines and started them.  We then walked back (with the empty basket), got the second basket full and returned to the laundry room and split it between the other two washing machines.

In-between baskets, I opened up two windows and the ceiling/exhaust fan in the trailer to let it air out and some of the humidity.  The weather here has been rainy and cool, requiring us to keep the trailer closed up and run the furnace or one of the heat-pumps.  Somewhere in there I took some photos and we brought our iPads along to use while we waited.

As we were walking back to the trailer with all of the clean/folded laundry it started to rain.  It was light, but it was still rain.  I took the basket and made for the trailer, as I could move faster by myself than with both of us carrying it.  We made it back without getting the laundry wet (we had the dish drying mat on top).  The vent/fan had already closed (automagically) and I closed the two open windows.

This is a composite of four images showing some of the amenities located behind the main office building at The Villages at Turning Stone RV Park.

We also needed to do some shopping, but wanted to wait until we had a break in the rain, which had gotten heavy at times. Linda made ham and cheese sandwiches, with mustard and greens, a potato chips on the side.  I my case, however, it was also potato chips on the sandwich.  I’ve eaten ham sandwiches that way since I was a kid, and that is still the way I prefer to have them.

The rain had stopped (temporarily) by 2 PM, and we headed out.  Our first stop was the Walmart on the west end of Oneida for groceries.  Their organic produce was limited, but Linda picked what she could and got most of what she was after.  The one thing they did have was wine.

We have found the different way that each state and province handled the sale of alcoholic beverages very interesting.  In some places, just like in Michigan, we could buy anything in a grocery store.  I other places we could only buy alcoholic beverages in the official state/province store.  In other states, like New Hampshire and New York, we could only buy beer in the grocery store; anything with a higher alcohol content had to purchased at a Wine and Liquor store, but these were not official state-run outlets.  Finally, there were places where we could buy beer and wine at a grocery store, but anything stronger could only be acquired at a liquor store.

Linda stopped an older gentleman in the store and asked if knew where we could buy some wine.  He directed us to go east on NY-5 and look for the store on the left side near Main St.  We were headed that way when I spotted a Byrne Dairy & Deli filling station and pulled in.  We had passed on Lenox St. on our way to Walmart, so I knew what they looked like.  I intended to stop there until we took a different route back.

The rain quit and the sun came in to light up this scene behind our RV site at The Villages at Turning Stone RV Park.

Tomorrow is another travel day and, like always, I wanted to pull out of the RV park with a full tank of fuel in the F-150.  I had problems with the credit card reader, as three of them were “no read” or “chip not detected.”  I knew that wasn’t possible, so I figured it was a problem with the card reader at the pump and went inside to pay.  That resulted in the whole “how much” (gallons or dollars, I’m not sure) conversation, to which I could only answer, “I don’t know, I want to fill it up.”  But the clerk had to put in a number, so I figured 20 gallons at $5 per gallon.  “So, you want a hundred dollars?”  “Well, no, not really; I want to fill the tank whatever that takes.”  “$120 then?  If you don’t use that much it will only charge your card for what you actually purchase.”  “Oh, OK.  Make it $130.  I don’t want to have to do a small top up; it messes with the miles-to-empty calculation on the display screen.”

Back at the pump I realized that I had needed to insert the cards “upside down” with the stripe and chip (on the back) facing up.  Who designs and builds a machine like that?  I splurged and got 20.086 gallons of premium, NO Ethanol, fuel for $4.58/gallon; only $92/.38, and it was only 90-octane at that, but I wanted to get some in the tank.  Only time will tell if that’s what hits my Amex card or not.

Our next/final stop was the Oneida Wine & Liquor store a little farther east on NY-5.  We were at the top of a hill with a warmed-up engine when we left Byrne’s, and I basically coasted to down to the bottom.  At its highest, the information display showed a 78+ mpg average!  That was the first time I recall seeing a number at or above 30 mpg (average), and probably the last time I will see a number anywhere near that (unless I reset the display at the top of mountain with a 10-mile downgrade).

All we wanted from the wine & liquor store was bottle of wine so we could have some with dinner for the next couple of nights.  Linda had checked the weather/radar and we had more rain headed our way, soon      and possibly heavy, so we did not linger in the store.  We were looking at white wines and noticed shelf with a small selection of Gewürztraminer.  I was considering labels and prices when Linda said “get one with a screw top.”  Right.  That’s actually important; much easier to open and much easier to reseal and store in trailer’s refrigerator.  We selected a relatively inexpensive one, that happened to come from the Finger Lakes region, where we are headed next.

Back at the RV park, we unloaded and stored the groceries and settled in to work, read, or play games before dinner.  The rains came, as expected, which kept us inside.  But that was OK.  We needed a day to sit and relax, and I needed the time to work on the blog.

For dinner, Linda made Gardein ‘turkey cutlets’ that we had just bought at Walmart.  She uses a variety of Gardein products, but had never seen this one before.  She baked a few small potatoes as a side.

Now that we are back in areas where we can get over-the-air TV, Monday night is one of our two nights for CBS programs, the other being Tuesday.  (Saturday and Sunday are PBS nights.)

20220924(b) – Crown Point State Historic Site, New York

SATURDAY 24 September

This is the second of two posts for this date, the “B side” so to speak.  The ‘A’  post was about our very enjoyable morning visit to the amazing Original Series Star Trek Experience in Ticonderoga, New York.  We returned to the trailer afterwards to open it up and let it air/dry out as the forecast for temperatures in the upper 60’s and no threat of rain.  We then headed back up NY-9N all the way to the Crown Point State Historic Site (SHS) at the Lake Champlain Bridge to Vermont.

Crown Point SHS is both a historical landmark and archeological site that was gifted to New York State in 1910 for preservation.  Based on the brochure/map we received, it is jointly managed by New York State Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation.

The main reason the site exists is the presence of the ruins of two military fortifications:  Fort St. Frédéric (French; construction 1734–1737; occupation 1737–1759; destroyed and abandoned 1759), and His Majesty’s Fort of Crown Point (British; construction 1759–1763; occupation 1763–1775, 1776–

1783).  The site has a trail system that leads visitors to some of the outlying features, or just provides nice walking paths.  There is also a small museum building.  The site was free to enter, but the museum was $4 admission per person.  We skipped the museum, but not because of the cost.  The historical significance of this site, however, was older than just European powers vying for control of northeastern North America.  From the brochure/map:

“The Landscape before you has served as a boundary between cultures for hundreds of years.  It delineated territories between the Kanien Kehaka (Mohawk) Nation of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy to the West and the Abenaki Nation of the Algonquian peoples to the East.

Samuel de Champlain was the first known European to travel this vast lake in 1609.  Waterways were the dominant transport routes in the seventeenth century, and command of this narrow channel could control trade and settlement between Montreal and New York City.  Since 1731, this area has been occupied by Indigenous, French, British, and Colonial forces all competing for strategic and commercial control of this corridor.”

I would add that the site occupies the northern tip of small peninsula with nice views of Lake Champlain, New York and Vermont.

Following are eight photos from our visit, all shot with the SONY SLT a99v (DSLR).  They are not a complete visual documentation, just a few photos that I liked.

Remnants of the double wall that outlined the French fort.  The grassy area in-between was a walkway known as a terreplein (pronounced ‘tear-a-plane’).

The circular brickworks were the bases of four bee hive bread ovens.  They had the capacity bake 900 loaves of bread every day.  The modern Lake Champlain Bridge in the background on the right.

Linda looks at a pile of rubble and the remains of walls that were the Tower Redoubt / Citadel in the north bastion of the French fort.  It had 12-foot-thick walls that were six stories high.

The west Bastion of the French fort.

Looking south through the entry to His Majesty’s Fort of Crown Point on the north wall of the fort.  The stone building on the far side of the parade ground was the ‘soldiers’ barracks (as opposed to the ‘officers’ barracks).

The soldiers’ barracks on the right (in shade) and the officers’ barracks (distant, in light).  The entry to the fort is to the left of the officers’ barracks.  The fort enclosed over seven acres, making it one of the largest forts built by the British in North America.

The stonework was very impressive.    According to the brochure/map, “It took more than 3,000 carpenters, masons, and soldiers four years to complete construction of the British fort.  Walls were constructed of squared logs that rose twenty-seven feet above the stone foundation.

The two stone columns and rubble lying along the west wall of the fort are the remnants of a second soldiers’ barracks that was never completed.  Part of Lake Champlain is visible, with some of New York’s Adirondack mountains beyond.  Crown Point is at the southernmost extent of the ‘wide’ portion of the Lake, which narrows at this point but extends farther south for a considerable distance to Whitehall, New York.  The Lake drains to the north via the Richelieu River which flows into the St. Lawrence River at Sorel-Tracy, Quebec, northeast and downstream of Montreal, Quebec.  The Champlain Canal connects the lake to the Hudson River to the south.


20220924(a) – Star Trek Experience, Ticonderoga, New York

SATURDAY 24 September

We had two very different things on our agenda for today.  The first one was the Start Trek Experience in Ticonderoga, New York.  The other was a visit to Crown Point State Historic Site on the New York side of the Lake Champlain Bridge.  This post only covers our visit to the Star Trek Experience.  There will be a second post for today’s date about the State Historic Site.

Most of this post is photos with captions.  All 30 of the photos were taken on my Google Pixel 6 Pro smartphone and processed with Faststone Image Viewer.  By way of introduction, however, the Star Trek Experience is a full-scale reproduction of the permanent set at Desi Studios that was used to film all the scenes that took place aboard the Starship Enterprise in the 79 episodes of the Original Series.  The reproduction was built from copies of the original blueprints for the set.  A second soundstage was used for all of the scenes that took place off of the ship.  As these were different for each episode, the were disassembled and replace for each one.

We had reservations for the 10 AM tour.  As you will see in some of the photos, our tour guide, whose name I failed to get, resembled and older William Shatner.  As a disclaimer, not being a Trekkie, I might have a few details wrong in the captions.  If so, feel free leave a comment with the needed correction(s).  According to our tour guide, there are about 200 things (devices, etc.) that were created for the series that did not exist at the time, and were considered very futuristic, but have since come to exist.  Think cellular communications and iPads.  We also found it interesting that William Shatner comes to this venue about twice each year.  As a final comment, the Reproduction was very well done, our tour guide was excellent (knowledgeable and funny), and we thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

This display was in the entrance foyer.








The Transporter.  The room also contained the operating consoles and devices on the walls.  While it was no doubt hard work in the props department, it must also have been quite fascinating place to be.












The main operating console for the transporter.








Linda prepares to be transported somewhere off-ship.  We learned that the special visual effect used when transporting people was glitter poured into a tube of water.  No CGI/FX back then; all of the special effects were done “old school” using established techniques or whatever they could invent and make work.













The Starship Enterprise had three decks, but this large circular hallway was used for all of them.  Note that none of the rooms on the set had ceilings, and ceilings never appear in any of the episode.  The open ceiling spaces were used for lights and other equipment.













The sick bay featured remote sensing and display of vital signs and other things that would become reality some years later.











The crew had “tablets” that they could write on and have the information transmitted wirelessly to the ship’s computers.  We were still in the sick bay for this photo.










The conference room where Captain Kirk would meet with the Department Heads (Engineering, Science, Medical, and others).  Note the 3-D chess set.  3-D chess did not exist at this time, but 3-D checkers and another 3-D game did.  Both of them are also on the conference table.

Spock’s Vulcan Harp was just a prop on the show.  This one was built many years later to match the show prop, but actually works.  The back side was heavily autographed by various cast members.









We think this was Dr. McCoy’s office, but are not sure if that is correct.









The science lab.  What is hard to tell from many of these photos is just how large (or small) these rooms are.  They seemed rather spacious to us, but by the time they were filled with actors, directors, and production equipment and crew, they probably felt small.










The bedroom portion of Captain Kirk’s quarters.









The office portion of Captain  Kirk’s quarters.









The access tube for one of the engine pods.











A view inside the engine access tube with all of the tools stored on the wall of the tube.










The Hyper-Drive in the engineering bay.  Very impressive use of perspective and lighting.  The actual drive space is only about 5 feet deep.












Some of the control panels in the engineering bay / engine control room.









The tour concluded in the best room of all, the bridge of the Starship Enterprise.

The navigation section of the bridge (I think).

Linda on the bridge listening to our tour guide, who was very knowledgeable.










The engineering section of the bridge (I think).

A view of the bridge looking forward from just behind the Captain’s seat.

A closer view of the helm station, just in front of the Captain’s seat.









Bruce takes a turn in the Captain’s seat on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise.  (Photo by Linda.)

Linda takes a turn in the Captain’s seat on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise.  The reason she’s smiling is her left hand.  (I can’t do that, and she knows it.)

Looking aft towards the helm from the front of the bridge.  This is what you might see if communicating with the bridge via the large screen at the front.

The lobby area had multiple display cases with costumes and props as well as a gift shop area.










20220923 – Gold Brook Campground (Stowe, VT) to Brookwood RV Resort (Ticonderoga, NY)

FRIDAY 23 September

Today was a relocation day for us.  Our next campground was the Brookwood RV Resort in/near Ticonderoga, New York.  We decided to take the faster/easier route, with an estimated travel time of about 2 hours.  Check-in time was 1 PM, so we planned to pull out of our current site at 11 AM.

Our F-150 and Airstream Flying Cloud in site T6 at Brookwood RV Resort in/near Ticonderoga, New York.  The sites here were very nice.

The temperature dropped overnight and we still had rain in the area, so we had the trailer closed up and one of the heat-pumps running in heat mode.  The rain had paused during the morning, so we did not have to contend with that while breaking camp, but it was cold enough to be uncomfortable handling all of the equipment, and we both commented that we needed to get some warm work gloves for this kind of situation.

We pulled out on time, and headed south on VT-100 towards Waterbury, where we picked up I-89 north towards Burlington.  This stretch of I-89 actually ran WWN until it got close to the Burlington area, where it turned north.  We exited at that point onto I-189 which ran west for a short way and ended at US-7.  We turned south on US-7 and took it as far as Vergennes, Vermont where we picked up VT-22a towards Addison.  At Addison, we turned right/west on VT-17 and followed that to the Lake Champlain Bridge.  The bridge connects Chimney Point, Vermont to Crown Point, New York.  At the border (on the bridge) the road became NY-185, which ran a short way and ended at NY-9N/NY-22.  We headed south on 9N and just stayed on it to Brookwood RV Resort.  Before getting there, however, we drove through the small town of Crown Point, and the larger town of Ticonderoga.

When we pulled in, Linda went to office to register and I got out of the truck to turn on the LevelMatePro+ and sync the app on my phone.  When I returned to the truck a man was waiting there.  It was Mark, one of the owners, and he was there to help us get into our site (T6).  The other owner is Buffy, who runs the office (they’re married).

We had the 50A full-hookup pull-through (W3W=”postings.universe.horsepower”) site we had requested.  It was easy to get in and the truck and trailer aligned.  We were actually completely level, side-to-side and front-to-rear.  I was pretty sure that was the first time that had every happened, and would have been perfect for a one-night stay, but we planned to do some things in the area tomorrow so we still had to unhitch the truck and re-level.  We ended up having to use our Andersen rocker levelers on the driver side of the trailer to raise it an inch.

One review we read said the camp store at Brookwood RV Resort was “the best camp store they had every seen.”  It had a “north woods” cabin interior, and was very well stocked.

Mark was friendly as well as helpful, and we chatted with him for about 30 minutes before we finished setting up camp.  He had some suggestions for things to do in the area, which we appreciated.  It was a sunny, but chilly afternoon, so our only activity was to go for a walk through the campground.  There were 85 sites on 28 acres, and few rental cabins.  Over half of the RV sites were in use as seasonal or permanent sites, but they were mostly in the back part of the property.    We met and chatted with several of the “residents,” and they were all very friendly.  Still, Mark and Buffy have been thoughtful about not arbitrarily mixing “residents” with “transients,” which we appreciated.

Nadeau’s Market on NY-9N.  We passed this Country Market just before arriving at Brookwood RV Resort and passed it again driving back into Ticonderoga the next day.  We finally stopped on our way back to camp to check it out.  We bought a couple of cider donuts because … cider donuts.

One of Mark’s suggestions was the Star Trek Experience in Ticonderoga.  Linda and I are not “Trekkies,” but were certainly fans of the original TV series as well as the movies and subsequent series.  We look it up online to find out more about it.  It looked interesting, and was certainly close by.  Reservations appeared to be required for the guided tour, so Linda bought two tickets for the 10 AM tour.

The weather forecast for tonight was for temperatures to drop to 41 (F), so we had another night ahead of us with the trailer closed up and one of the heat-pumps running.

20220922 – Teddy Bears, Wine, and Vegan Dining in Vermont

THURSDAY 22 September

(There are 9 photos in this post.  All of them were taken with a Google Pixel 6 Pro smartphone.)

I was up later than I intended last night.  As I was thinking about going to bed, it occurred to me to check for updates from Microsoft.  Normally these are available on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month (security and general, respectively).  I had installed the security updates last week (the 13th ) as soon as the were available (and I had enough Internet connectivity to do it).  The 20th was only the 3rd Tuesday, but there was an “optional” preview update available, which was effectively an early release of an update I was going to get eventually anyway.  Even with the relatively good Internet we have through our Verizon Mi-Fi hotspot, the download and installation took about 30 minutes.  I worked on puzzles while I waited.

We were both out of bed by 7:30 AM, had our morning coffee, and had some of Linda’s homemade granola with fresh fruit for breakfast.  We have managed to stretch the granola this far in the trip by not having it very often, so it’s a real treat when we do.

A view of the Vermont Teddy Bear Company factory and store.  (Photo by Linda.)

At the Vermont Teddy Bear Company, Linda finally got to meet Bernie Sanders (sort of).  Picture inserted on the left, of couse.

Even though we were here for one more full day and night, our waste tanks were starting to fill up, especially the grey water tank (75% full).  We both wanted to take showers before going out today, so I partially drained the grey water tank back to 35% of full.  We will get it back up to 70%+ before dump tomorrow as the tank rinse themselves out better the more water they have in them.

Today was our last full day in Vermont for this trip, and we had three and half-and-a-half things on our agenda, all in and around Burlington.  There was still a threat of rain, but the weather was otherwise acceptable, and the clouds were pretty amazing, so not a bad day at all for driving around and doing a mix of inside and outside things.  It was cool, however, and temperatures would be dropping from 4 PM on, so we dressed in layers and took our warm hoodies and raincoats.  Given the weather forecast and the timing for our last destination, we left camp at 11:30 AM.

Even though we were camped between Stowe and Waterbury, with the highest mountains in Vermont between us and Burlington, the area was surprisingly easy, and quick to access.  The first part of our route was VT-100 south to Waterbury (~7.5 mi) to get on I-89 N to I-189 (~19 mi), and then a short drive on I-189 to its terminus at US-7.  From there, about 8 miles south on US-7 and we were at the Vermont Teddy Bear Company in Shelburne, Vermont.  US-7 through Shelburne was 35 – 45 mph with lots of stoplights, but most of I-89 was posted 65 mph, so trip only took about 40 minutes.

I was fairly sure that the blue care on the left was a Lincoln Continental, but no idea what year.  The orange and white station wagon on the right was either a 1956 or 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air.  (My first car was a 1957 Chevy that I got from my parents in 1968 when I turned 16 and passed my driver’s test.  They got it from my maternal grandfather, who bought it new.)

The drive up I-89 was new for us, and was especially beautiful as it ran along-side the Winooski River through a long valley.  As a bonus we saw two mature Bald Eagles.  They were a mile or so apart, but we figured that was close enough together that they were probably a mated pair.

Like Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, the Vermont Teddy Bear Company is an iconic American business and a fun place to visit and shop.  You can buy Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in supermarkets, and you can buy Vermont Teddy Bears online, but it’s just more fun to do it in person if you can.  Our shopping concluded, we headed back to the truck and saw a couple of beautifully restored old cars in the parking lot.  (Over the course of the afternoon we saw several more classic cars, and figured they were headed to a meet, probably at the Champlain Valley Expo Center in Essex Junction, Vermont.  The Expo Center was the location for the summer 2016 Escapade rally (Escapees RV Club).  We were there as volunteer staff, Linda in the office and me as the official photographer.

The entrance to the tasting room at Snow Farm Vineyard & Winery, South Hero (Crescent Bay) on Grand Isle, Vermont.  The outside of the building had a very rustic charm, but the inside was modern.

Before leaving the Vermont Teddy Bear Company parking lot, we set our next destination in the F-150 navigation system; Snow Farm Vineyard & Winery on Crescent Bay in South Hero, Grand Isle, Vermont.  Our route was US-7 north to I-189 east to I-89 north to US-2 west, and then several small roads once we were on the island.  Grand Isle is one of the Lake Champlain Islands that occupy the middle of the north half of Lake Champlain, but are on the Vermont side of the border with New York.  Grand Isle was the southernmost of these islands, lying northwest of Burlington and east of Plattsburgh, New York.

I did my Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps field training at Plattsburg Air Force Base in the summer of 1975 (ABIR), but have not been back to that part of New York since then.  The 5,000-acre base was decommissioned and closed in 1995, and then redeveloped.  This Wikipedia entry gives the pre-military, military, and post-military history of the base:

The right end of the main building, with the vineyard beyond.  Snow Farm Vineyard & Winery, South Hero (Crescent Bay), Vermont.

We selected Snow Farm Vineyard and Winery to visit for several reasons.  A main one was that they were open every day from 11 AM to 6 or 7 PM (depending on the season), which allowed us to plan a visit.  (Many of the wineries we checked were closed Monday through Wednesday and opened at 5 PM on Thursday, which didn’t work for us.)  We had also looked at their wine offerings online, and saw that they used grape varieties with which we had little or no acquaintance.  We are not wine aficionados by any measure, but we know what we like and are always looking for something different that appeals to us.  Finally, we just thought it we be nice to visit the island, and maybe see one of the “fairy castles.”

Founded in 1996, Snow Farm was the oldest commercial grape vineyard and winery in Vermont.  They only sold wines that they made, and they only made those wines with grapes that they grew, and that as the kind of winery we like best.  Most of their wines were finished dry or off-dry, with a few slightly sweeter ones, as well as a late harvest Vignoles and an ice wine.

The wine flights at Snow Farm Vineyard & Winery were a bit different, but in a good way.

The wine tasting process was a bit different from what we usually encounter, but in a good way.  Four wines for $5 or eight wines for $9, selected from their available stock (with a couple of exceptions).  We each had a 4-wine flight; reds for Linda and mostly whites for me.  Suitably small quantities of each wine were poured into small, stemless wine glasses which were set in a “paddle board” with indentations for each glass, dry to sweet, starting from the handle.  This allowed us to carry the board to a table and sit down while tasting them.  Two of their wines were sparkling, fermented in the bottle (champaign style).  We did not include it in our flights because we thought we couldn’t (we were wrong), but they allowed us a small cup to taste (think ketchup cup at MikeyD’s.)  We bought a box of Carr’s table water crackers to cleanse our palette between wines.

On our way back to US-2 from Snow Farm Vineyard & Winery we saw this “Fairy Castle,” one of six on Grand Isle, most in the South Hero area.

We bought four bottles of wine:  Snow White (one of the original Snow Farm wines, a blend of Cayuga and Seyval Blanc grapes); Fox Hill Maple (a sweet blend of Seyval Blanc and maple wine produced from maple syrup made from the sap of the maple trees behind the winery) ; Pétillant Naturel, or Pet Nat, made with Seyval Blanc grapes and bottled before complete fermentation. It is unfiltered and the natural yeast sediment can be shaken into the wine and consumed, or the wine can be poured off the sediment., and; 2021 25th anniversary Late Harvest Vignoles.  They also gave a small sample of the Vignoles before we decided to buy it.  We have picked up an occasional bottle of wine at the supermarket or state/provincial beverage store to have with diner, but we are transporting all of the wines we have purchased from wineries back home to re-stock our wine refrigerator and provide a reminder of where we were when we tasted and purchased them.

A composite image from three photos of the Church St. pedestrian corridor, looking south from the north end at Pearl St.

Our final destination for today was Revolution Kitchen at 9 Center St. in downtown Burlington.  We left Snow Farm around 3 PM and were parked in the Main Street Lot at the intersection of Main St. and S. Winooski Ave, next to a Burlington Fire Department Station, by 3:30 PM.  It was a pay lot, $1.50 per hour.  Credit cards accepted.  Just enter your license plate, and get your receipt.

It was a short walk from there to the restaurant, but our reservation was at 5 PM, which was when they opened.  One block to the west, however, was Church St., which had been turned into a pedestrian corridor from Main St. all the way north to Pearl St.  Linda knew this corridor was here, and wanted to walk it before dinner.

It was not our first time in Burlington, but it was the first time we had time to walk the pedestrian friendly city.  The Church Street corridor was surprising devoid of people, but it was a somewhat dreary day.  There was an interesting assortment of shops, including food and beverage establishments, but most of the bars and restaurants were closed today, or did not open until 5 PM, which partially explained the light crowd.  We strolled through a few of the shops (to get out of the damp and cool for a few minutes) but spent some time in Fjallraven, a high end Swedish outdoor clothing store.  They sold the kind of clothes that made us wish we were young enough, fit enough, and adventurous enough to justify the price by actually using them for the purpose for which they were intended.  They were not busy, and we had a nice chat with the young man on duty.

The Church on Pearl St. at the north end of the Church St. pedestrian corridor.

This was not our first visit Revolution Kitchen.  We dined there with Norah and Howie Glover back in the summer of 2016 when we were all working as volunteers at the Escapees RV Club Escapade Rally in Essex Junction, and remembered liking the food and the place.  It’s a vegetarian / vegan restaurant that uses local ingredients.  It was as we remembered it; Linda even remembered where we sat last time.

It’s a “small, wood-accented eatery crafting innovative vegetarian & vegan dishes from local, fresh, sustainable and organic ingredients.”  While not an “upscale” setting, it’s a serious restaurant that required a reservation; not the bohemian sort of place that we usually find near college campuses.  For the record, the University of Vermont campus was just on the east edge of downtown Burlington, a short walk from the restaurant.

We both had hot tea, to ward off a little bit of chill.  For starters, we split the Kale Caesar Salad, which was very good.  For our main dishes, Linda ordered the Seitan Picata while I ordered the Wild Vegetable Ravioli, but we each tried some of the other dish.  Both of them were excellent.  For dessert, we split a slice of chocolate layer cake with black raspberry “cream” filling between the layers.  The cake was moist with a wonderful texture, even without the cream layers.  Simply amazing.

Our paid parking was set to run out at 6:35 PM, but we were back at the truck from 6:20 PM.  Main St. was also US-2, which was our route eastbound through the University of Vermont campus back to I-89 north.  Sunset tonight in Stowe was 6:48 PM, so it was dark by the time we got back to camp around 7:20 PM.  We were a bit later than that as we drove past the campground a couple of miles to the Irving filling station to top up the fuel tank in the F-150.  We were back in our trailer by 7:45 PM and settled in for the night.  For me, that meant processing the photos and writing the blog post for today, as well as putting the finishing touches on the post for yesterday.  We noticed on the way in to the campground that it was considerably busier than it was on Monday and Tuesday.