Monday, December 19, 2011

Monday 12/19

I had planned on posting this on Friday evening before we left Tucson, but did not get it done. Gives me a chance to tell a funny story. Our flight home on Saturday was uneventful and Sunday we celebrated Nancy's birthday at her sister's house. Sunday evening there was a Hawks game on WGN. Since our Dish Network account now has us in Tucson we do not get the local channels on the other Dish receiver here at home, so we have to use rabbit ears (remember those?) to get a couple local channels. After some experimentation I found we could get channel 9 if I sat at the kitchen table and held the rabbit ears on my head! Well thAt won't work for long, so we put a stepladder next to the table with the antenna on it. Now we can get ABC and WGN and were able to watch the game. Of course now we have an aluminum stepladder with the antenna on it in the kitchen for the next two weeks - actually quite elegant!

Now back to your regular program, already in progress:

As I mentioned in the last post we went to Coyote Pause for dinner Friday evening, it turned out to be a bit of a disappointment as the place was busy and there were only two waitresses working - and they were working their butts off, serving, bussing tables, manning the cash register, etc. As a result our meals were excruciatingly slow and luke warm when they arrived. We let them know what we thought, and if this had been our first time there it would have been our last. We will be giving them another chance.

Saturday 12/10

Finally got out for a morning walk in the desert. Between our colds and the less than ideal weather we had not been walking much so far. Good to get out in the desert in the early morning to see and appreciate the beauty of the desert plants in the early morning light - not to mention getting some good exercise.

After our walk we decided it was time to get to work and clean the road grime from the outside of the trailer. With the two of us working it took about an hour and a half, but it was worth the effort as it really looks a lot better.

Other than that we just relaxed and enjoyed the day and the weather.

Sunday 12/11

Got out for a bit longer walk in the desert this morning, another gorgeous day. After watching Sunday Morning on CBS we drove over Gates Pass and up the road to the overlook on Sentinel Mountain (“A” Mountain - so named for the large stone “A” which is painted each year by the University of Arizona freshman class and visible from throughout the city). Really nice views of the city, and the Tucson Valley, along with the Santa Catalina and RIncon Mountains on the other side of the valley. To the north Tucson spreads out almost as far as the eye can see.

Then we dropped down to the south side to stop at Wal-Mart to pick up another humming bird feeder and a few other things. The palce was jammed as one would expect for a Saturday two weeks before Christmas. What recession?

After shopping we went over to 12th St and hit BK Carne Asada & Hot Dogs for lunch.

Back home and relaxed, our regular Sunday evening pizza for dinner. We used to get pizza delivered everyday at home, but last winter we discovered that Wal-Mart (and other store brand) frozen pizza are pretty goos, especially if we add out own Italian sausage to a cheese pizza. So much so that we now eat those pizzas back home in Illinois as well. Just as good and a lot cheaper than delivered pizza.

Monday 12/12

Rain and then more rain! It started raining about four AM this morning, not a heavy rain, but steady. Very unusual for this part of the country from what we have seen. Got ourselves moving first thing and got to the Campground Monday morning meeting.

We thought about taking in a movie this afternoon as it was raining fairly steady all day, but then we recalled that the wine we ordered from Wine Insiders was scheduled for delivery today. So we just took it easy and waited for the delivery - which never came! During the day we checked the FedEx tracking website several times and it showed that our package was loaded on the truck Saturday morning as was out for delivery today. Then, about 5:30 PM it suddenly said “delivery delay” and showed it scheduled for tomorrow! Needless to say we were seriously PO’ed since we specifically stayed home to receive it.

A call to FedEx revealed that their records showed “Office Closed”. Turns out it was no exactly FedEx’s fault as Wine Insiders had failed to put our site number OR our phone number on the shipping label! Never received a reply to the e-mail we sent them complaining about the poor service.

Tuesday 12/13

Still raining! The people here are quite happy about the rain, as it seems to have broken the multi-year drought. Tucson received over 1-1/2 inches of rain this week! Quite a bit actually since the average annual rainfall is just under 12”! Interesting for us since we saw nothing more than a sprinkle or two in the last two winters here. The campground and the desert are full of puddles, not a lot of runoff around here.

We went out to a movie this afternoon and avoided Bopp Rd., which would have been our usual route, as there are a number of washes along that road with signs that say “Do Not Enter When Flooded”. There still were five or six place along San Joaquin Rd where we had to slow to a crawl to drive through shallow water flowing across the road. We went to see “The Descendants” an excellent movie, if a bit of a tear jerker.

Back home for dinner and the rain continued through the evening, although quite obviously tapering off. The local news was full of info about closed roads and there is considerable snow accumulation on all of the local mountain ranges from 3,500 feet on up, with a foot or more above 5,000 feet. We are about 2,500 feet here at Desert Trails, so nothing but liquid precipitation here.

Wednesday 12/14

Out into the desert for our morning walk and it is rather amazing how all of that water from yesterday has just vanished. There are spots where the desert is covered in bright green vegetation that was not there before and the saguaro are obviously swollen with moisture, some of them looking absolutely bloated! We can see snow on the mountains off to the southwest, something we had not seen before. Very pretty. None of the Tucson Mountains to the north and east of us are tall enough to have had any accumulation.

Went to Coyote Pause for lunch and as expected the service and quality was much better than it had been Friday evening. Blackhawks game late this afternoon on Versus. We don’t get a lot of them as we lost our Chicago Comcast Sports Net channel when we changed our Dish Network location to Tucson, necessary to get the local stations since over the air reception is pretty much non-existent here. So the only Blackhawk games we get to see are the ones on Versus, NHL Network, or NBC. I had looked at getting the NHL out-of-market games package but it is pricier than I can justify. We can keep track of the games with my NHL i-Pod apps, or even listen to them with the WGN Radio app.

Thursday 12/15

Weather continues to be unusual here (at least from our experience the last two winters). This morning we headed out to Tucson Yoga for our weekly class and it was quite foggy! Yes, fog! Now think about it, fog requires excess moisture in the air right? And what is it that Tucson does not have? Right - excess moisture! But this morning they had it in spades. Poking up above the fog, the mountains to the east and north of the city were showing their snow capped peaks quite spectacularly.

After the Yoga class we drove over to the far east side and stopped at See’s Candies for some Christmas goodies, stopped and picked up a new watchband for Nancy, and then went a bit farther east on Speedway Rd. to Beyond Bread for lunch. Before lunch we visited Annabelle’s Attic and Bookman’s used bookstore, where we did some substantial damage. Good thing this store is quite a distance away from where we are staying!

The afternoon turned out to be quite nice and sunny, more typical Tucson weather.

Friday 12/16

Out for our regular walk in the desert this morning, there is a good mix of trails available in the open land before we even get out into Tucson Mountain park, so we can walk a mile or more before crossing into the park, and so far we have taken a different trail each morning. That along with the variations in the scenery in different lighting conditions means that we are never really looking at the same things each time we go out.

This morning we could see a dusting of snow around Kitt Peak and Baba-Q-Vari Peak off to the Southwest. The Tucson Mountains close to us are not quite high enough to have picked up snow cover. Wasson Peak just NE of us is a bit lees than 3,500 feet and most of the snow accumulation has been above 4,000 feet in the last week.

Getting ready to head back to Chicago tomorrow morning. We will be returning to Tucson on December 30th, so I will resume the blog then.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Better Weather is Here

A bit late with this post due to computer issues, but it's back in business now!

Thursday 12/1/11

A very unusual day for Tucson, cloudy and spitting rain most of the day, became a light rain late in the afternoon. High temperature was still around 60 degrees though, so not to bad really. Nancy has come down with a cold so she pretty much took it easy today. Dennis took a run to the Walgreens in the AM to pick up some cold medicines for her. The afternoon was spent relaxing and reading.

Dennis finished one book and took a walk over to the campground library to leave the old book and find a new one. The library has really shaped up well, we helped in the planning and initial construction in January 2010, and it has turned out to be a very nice amenity - well maintained and well stocked.

Friday 12/2

Still cloudy and cool. We pretty much stayed home and relaxed. Dennis went into Tucson to Beyond Bread to pick up lunch. Dennis’ laptop has conked out! It has been acting up for a couple of days and this morning it refused to turn on. No appointments available at the Apple store today, so we made one for Saturday.

Saturday 12/3

Still very cool weather, 30’s at night and low 50’s during the day. Nancy is still feeling punk, but we went into the Apple store, which of course is way over on the NE side of the city. Turns out the laptop needs a new video card and there is a campaign on those. So, even though they also have to replace the logic board, there will be no charge for the repair! Would have cost over $500 if not for the campaign! Nice to get lucky once in a while. After Apple we stopped at Schlomo’s & Vito’s NY Deli for lunch. Our reward for going all the way to the NE side. Good sandwiches that are large enough to take half home for dinner.

Sunday 12/4

Relaxing around home and a short walk around the campground. Nancy is recovering from her cold, but now Dennis has caught it, so not much going on!

Monday 12/5

Nancy went to the Monday morning campground meeting while Dennis slept late. The RV park has “adopted” a stretch of Bopp Rd. just south of here to keep it clean. We had signed up for the team to go out and pick up trash this AM, but Dennis wimped out and Nancy went and fulfilled our obligation. She spent about an hour with the crew.

Tuesday 12/6

Shopping day today, we stopped at Target and then over to the east side to the new Costco store, which coincidentally is right up the street from the In N’ Out Burger! Which we naturally took advantage of.

Wednesday 12/7

Now Dennis is down with the cold! Nancy is recovering, but we pretty much stuck around home and relaxed. As cold as it has been at night, we have run through a tank of propane, so we switched over to the other tank and Dennis took the truck and ran in to get the empty one refilled. Barnetts Propane is just the other side of the Tucson Mountains, so it is one of the places we can get to easily.

Thursday 12/8

We are both recovered well enough to get out first thing this morning and head off to Tucson Yoga for regular class. We both felt great afterwards, we needed that - to much sitting around for the last week. After class we stopped at the Food Conspiracy on Fourth St to stock up on healthy food. Weather has improved, bright sunny day without a cloud in the sky! Looks like highs in the sixties all this week.

Friday 12/9

Both feeling better so we are able to get out and get with the program. Nancy went over to the activities room first thing this AM for the campground craft show. Picked up a few items. The we went over to the Fourth St Winter Street Fair, which is a huge arts and crafts fair. We spent several hours there and walked the full length of both side a of the booths, which are back to back in the center of the street. Also had lunch at a couple of the food booths and listened to the Tucson HS Steel Drum Band while we were eating.

Dennis called the Apple store and his computer is ready, so we headed up that way. Along the way we stopped at Sarnoff Art to pick up some ink for Nancy’s pen. She had sent her mother’s Waterman pen off to an antique pen specialist in New Hampshire to have refurbished after much searching for someone who could repair it. Now the question was, where do you buy ink these days? Well Sarnoff Art had a great selection.

The we stopped at Beyond Bread and picked up a couple of loaves for sandwiches before we got to the Apple store. After picking up the laptop we stopped at Trader Joe’s, which is right down the street from the shopping center with the Apple store - what a coincidence.

Went to Coyote Pause for dinner, our first visit there this year.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Saturday 11/26/11

On the road again! Headed out in a light rain Saturday morning on our way to our third winter in Arizona. Drove in light rain most of the way through St Louis and stopped for the night at the Country Hearth Hotel and RV Park in St. Roberts, MO.

Sunday 11/27

Got a fairly early start and hit the Cracker Barrel down the road for Breakfast. We had three options for Sunday night, eastern OK, OK City, or western OK. We stopped at the Flying J in Joplin, MO and filled up the truck and then headed across Oklahoma.

We stopped at the Cracker Barrel in OK City for a late lunch and decided to go to western OK, so we calledDouble D RV Park in Texola, OK to confirm that they had space tonight. They said they did, but when we got there at 7 PM they were full! And rude! They said “we told you it was first come, first served.” which was a lie. If they had said that we would have looked for a more definite place. So here we were, seven PM on Sunday evening and no place to stay. Tried calling campgrounds along I-40 to the west but no answers (big surprise). So we ended up driving on to Amarillo and spent the night at the Cracker Barrel - after getting there in time for a light dinner! So we had breakfast, lunch and dinner in three different Cracker Barrels today!

On the bright side we got two hours ahead of schedule and saved $12 in the process.

Monday 11/28

Had an early breakfast at the Amarillo CB and headed for Roswell, good weather and good roads. Go toTrailer Village in Roswell at 11 AM Mountain Time. Just in time to catch the end of the Formula One race from Sunday that they repeated on Monday.

In the afternoon we took a walk around downtown Roswell and picked up a few souvenirs, stopped at Target and then back home and relaxed for a few hours. Went to Pepper’s Restaurant for an excellent dinner (as usual), this make a nice relaxing interlude in the trip.

Tuesday 11/29

On the road by 8:30. Took a detour from our regular route on AZ 70 to make a stop at the Smokey Bear Park in Capitan, NM where the real Smokey Bear is buried, not to far away from where he was found as a cub clinging to a charred tree in Capitan Gap, NE of town. An interesting place with excellent exhibits on forest preservation and ecology and of course Smoky’s story and his gravesite.

Instead of backtracking, or going south to Ruidoso through the mountains, we went on west on NM 380 and picked up US 54 southbound, which connected back up with AZ 70.

Stopped at the CB in Las Cruces for lunch and continued on to Ft Wilcox RV Park in Wilcox, AZ.

Wednesday 11/30

On the road at 9 AM, just a short trip to Desert Trails from here. Stopped in Tucson and filled a propane tank and arrived at 11 AM. Excellent trip overall with good roads, good weather other than the rain on Saturday, and no problems with the truck or the trailer.

Got ourselves settled into our new space, M10 instead of M9, which is a lot more roomy and we do not block a walkway with our truck. A beautiful day today, 77 degrees and not a cloud in the sky! Supposed to turn cold and rainy by the end of the week - of course “cold and rainy” being relative terms, they are talking about 55 to 60 degrees for highs and maybe a 1/4 inch of rain over three days! Sounds good to me!

Got the trailer set up and the smart unloaded. We replaced our 2005 smart with a light metallic blue 2011 smart two weeks ago. Had to make a couple of minor mods to ramps and hitch placement to accommodate the slightly larger smart. We like the new one, it rides and handles a bit better and now we have a car with US dealer support and a warranty, that will be a new experience!

Made a quick run into town in the afternoon and picked up sandwiches from Beyond Bread for dinner - one of our favorite places.

Just relaxing in our home on wheels tonight.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Well we’ve got a really long post this time, covering an entire month in one shot! Between limited WiFi access, lack of a laptop at times, and general laziness I never got any of our latest trip posted until we got back home. it is.

Wednesday 6/29/11

Back on the road again! We’re headed east to Upstate NY for the 4th of July with Dennis’ cousins in Canton, NY.

The trailer looks fantastic after our spring shine-up project. We cleaned the entire outside of the fifth wheel with Barkeepers Friend - that was a pretty substantial project, 37 feet long and 12 feet high! We were very pleased as the trailer cleaned up much better than we expected and looked really good. We followed up the cleaning with an application of Red Max 3. This is actually a wood floor sealer that a number of people have used on their fiberglass boats andf trailers with really good results. There is a commercial product specifically sold for the purpose, but it is much more expensive and the same basic product as Red Max. The Red Max goes on as a thin, watery liquid, spread with a micro-fiber cloth. After several coats, it copme up very shiney. We ended up with five or six coats on the entire rig. It looked really good in the barn, but we were not sure how it would look in the sunlight - well it looks great! Better than is was when we bought is and I would venture to say better than it looked when it was new!

After loading up on Monday and Tuesday we headed out mid-morning on Wednesday. Uneventful trip across Northern Indiana on the toll road into Ohio. We dropped down south of Toledo to Bowling Green. Stayed at Fire Lake Campground (Who wants to ride that chrome three wheeler...) a nice, small campground just south of Bowling Green. Mostly semi-permanent summer places, pretty empty on a weeknight, but probably hopping on the weekends. We had dinner at Reverend’s, a tavern in downtown Bowling Green.

Thursday 6/30

Headed out early and stopped up the road at a Cracker Barrel (surprise!) for breakfast and then on to LeRoy, NY, east of Buffalo. Another nice campground with a 50/50 mix of seasonal and weekend campers. They are expecting a full house for the holiday weekend. Uneventful day, traffic a bit heavier but not too bad. Passed a couple of serious traffic jams in the westbound lanes of I-90, but we had clear sailing all the way. Dinner at home.

Friday 7/1/11

On the road at a reasonable time, stopped at the Camping World in Syracuse to pick up a new TV antenna batwing. We had added a Wingman booster to the old batwing, but the wingman had a couple of protruding extensions which caught on a tree branch some where and broke the antenna mounting bracket. Off I-90 in Syracuse and north on I-81 to Watertown. Stopped at the Cracker Barrel; for lunch and picked up US 11 which took us through Canton, where Dennis’ cousins live, and Potsdam, where Dennis was born, and on to Sanfordville and the St Regis Campground. A nice campground where we stayed when we were here last summer. About twenty space, seven with full hook-ups. All of the sites back right up to the St. Regis river, so looking out our back window all we see is the gently flowing river and trees on the other side, a very pretty spot. We also have a clear view of the southern sky for Winegard Trav’ler. Got in late in the afternoon and after getting set up we drove over to Dennis’ cousin Lee’s house and had a delightful dinner.

Saturday 7/2

Settling in this AM, did some grocery shopping and ran a few errands. Dennis installed the new batwing so we can get local TV reception as well as Dish Network with the satellite dish. In the afternoon we went to the movies to see Larry Crowne, a pretty good, lightweight, romantic comedy. Dinner at home.

Sunday 7/3

After watching the SUNDAY AM news shows we headed over to Edwards, NY, up into the Adirondacks where Dennis’ cousin Mike and his wife Peggy have a very nice cabin on the Oswegatchie river. A really beautiful spot, very secluded. The entire family, nine of us, spent the afternoon sitting by the river and the only boats we saw were ours! Only activity was a couple of beavers slapping their tails. Most excitement of the day was when Dennis managed to fall into the river after tipping over a kayak! Would not have been to bad except that he had his cell phone and I-pod in his pockets - killed both of them!

Peggy had a delicious bar-b-que for the group and we had a really great afternoon just enjoying each others company. Got back home about 9 PM, in time to watch Masterpiece Theatre, over-the-air digital TV is great.

Monday 7/4

Went into Potsdam to the Village Diner for breakfast and Nancy did some laundry. Checked with the local Walmart and they were out of stock on the 32G I-pod, so we drove over to Massena and picked one up at the Walmart their. Fortunately I had backed up my I-pod just a week ago. On the way back we stopped in the Village of Norwood and watched their 4th of July parade. It was pretty substantial for a small town, lasted about an hour and included fire departments from all over the area and the world famous Norwood FD Band.

Back home in the afternoon we just relaxed. As I write this we are sitting on the bank of the river. It is about eighty degree, warm and sunny with a nice breeze and we are watching a flotilla of Canada Geese (the small, migratory kind) working their way upstream along the opposite bank. This far north and in the Eastern Time zone, the daylight lasts quite late, not really dusk until after 9 PM.

Tuesday 7/5

Off to Alexandria Bay in the Thousand Islands this AM. Stopped by Dennis’ family’s old cottage at Point Vivian. Still looks pretty much the same and kept up well, my parents sold the cottage in the late 50’s when we moved to NJ, but I spent a fair amount of time there as a child. It was kind of emotional to see it again. Unfortunately the present owner was not there so we did not get to see the inside. The water in the St Lawrence river was just as cold as I remembered it!

Then we went back into the village of Alexandria Bay, which has not changed much from what I remember as a kid. We took a 2-1/2 hour tour of the Thousand Islands with Uncle Sam Boat Tours. A very pleasant trip as it was in the high eighties inland but really nice out on the water.

Back in Potsdam we stopped at Northern Music, a Verizon dealer, and replaced Dennis’ dead cell phone. Then we met Dennis’ cousin Mike and his wife Peggy for a nice dinner at Maxfield’s in Potsdam.

Wednesday 7/6

Spent the day getting packed for our cruise to Montreal. I wanted to move the fiver out of the campsite to open up space since it is such a small campground. I planned on paying the owners something for storage, but they refused to accept anything and told us where to park the truck and fiver. They said the ground was hard and it seemed to be when I walked it, but since it had rained during the night we sunk in quite a bit when we backed in! Oh well, I’ll worry about getting out when we return.

We were plugged into 20 amp service for the night, but we have not needed our AC since we got here, very pleasant at night.

Thursday 7/7

Up early and left at 6:30 AM, Dennis’ cousin drove us to the train station in Syracuse, we left earlier than necessary as we knew there were lanes closed for construction on I-81 at Oneida Lake. No problems though, and we were at the station by 9:30 for an 11:30 train - just in time for the announcement that the train was going to be an hour to an hour and half late due to a freight train derailment! Turns out that was optimistic - the train finally left at 2:30 PM!!

AMTRAK was very comfortable and roomy, if a bit slow. Finally arrived in Boston at 11:30 PM. One nice thing was electrical outlets at the seats so we could plug in Nancy’s phone and activate the hotspot for internet access on Dennis’ iPod. We were glad ot get to the Seaport Hotel after a long day of mostly sitting an waiting!

Friday 7/8 - Boston

Used a couple of Charlie Cards to make our way around the Boston transit system, a pretty good set up. Visited Paul Revere’s house and walked around North Boston a bit, then visited Brattle Book Store and spent an hour or so browsing the used book racks, it was raining lightly so we were disappointed that the out door racks were not open.

Back at our hotel we met Nancy’s sister Joan, our niece Emily, and her husband for dinner at Legal Seafood. Excellent dinner.

Saturday 7/9 - Boston

Not able to board our ship until 11AM, so Nancy and I walked back into the city center and visited Brattle Books again. This time the outside racks were open. We had to restrain ourselves as all the books we bought had to be lugged along on our cruise.

Boarded the MS Maasdam around noon, we were able to time our arrival between the busses coming from the hotels (we had elected to get there on our own via taxi, cheaper an easier than using the tour company arraignments) so we got through the boarding procedure very quickly.

A Prairie Home Companion show in the main showroom tonight and then late dinner. As usual the food was excellent throughout the cruise.

Sunday 7/10 - Bar Harbor

Ship anchored in Bar Harbor this morning. Uo early and had breakfast in our room as we had to be on the tender at 7:30 for our tour. We took a tender in to the pier and immediately boarded a tour bus to take us to Cadillac Mountain Park. Our guide took us on a two hour walking tour along the coast with great views all along the way. Weather was perfect, 70 degrees and sunny with a nice breeze. Back in Bar Harbor we had lunch at the Thirsty Whale, purported to be the best lobster rolls in the area. Nancy and Joan report they were excellent, Dennis had a good burger.

Shows as usual were excellent. We usually had a drink in the Ocean bar every afternoon before the main show and then dinner after the show. Did not make it to any of the evening entertainment in the various lounges though. Lose and hour tonight going into the Atlantic Time Zone.

Monday 7/11 - Halifax, NS

Another beautiful day, sunny and 75 degrees. Ship at pier in Halifax. Nancy and Dennis took a bus tour to Peggy’s Cove and Titanic Cemetery. Peggy’s Cove was very picturesque with a lighthouse set on a rocky promontory jutting out into the Atlantic.

On the way the bus stopped at the Fairview Lawn Cemetery where 121 of the victims from the Titanic are buried, one third of them never identified. More moving than we had expected. Joan took a bus tour of Halifax and stopped at the cemetery as well. We were all struck by the apparent prosperity of the area, flourishing businesses and no empty store front like you might see in a medium sized city in the US.

We returned to the MS Maasdam for lunch and then walked along the harbor boardwalk to the Maritime Museum which had a very good display on the other Halifax disaster - that of December 19, 1917. That morning two ships preparing to sail for the European Theatre collided in the inner harbor of Halifax. One of them we loaded with munitions and explosives. The resulting blast was the biggest man made explosion prior to the nuclear bomb! Over 1,900 people were killed immediately; within a year the figure climbed well over 2,000. About 9,000 more were injured, many permanently (especially with eye damage from shattered glass); 325 acres, almost all of the north-end of Halifax, were destroyed. Windows shattered 50 miles away, and the shock wave was felt as far as Sydney, Cape Breton, 270 miles away.

One of the naturalists on our cruise is the Director of the Maritime Museum and he gave several interesting talks during the week. We returned to the ship and relaxed, Nancy went to her daily knitting group while Dennis went to the lecture “I want Your Job” with Fred Newman, Sue Scott and Tim Russell.

We all had dinner in the Lido instead of the main dining room, then relaxed in our cabins as we wanted to go to the late show. Skipped the main show this evening. At 10:30 we went to “Vice Match” with Sue Scott, Tim, Russell, and Vern Sutton.

Tuesday 7/12 - Sydney, NS. Cape Breton Island.

This is a pic of Nancy and Joan with Sydney, he is from Sydney, Australia so we thought it appropriate to get his picture in Sydney, NS.

Grey and overcast this AM, only rainy day of the trip. It was supposed to get to the mid 70’s but never got out of the 60’s. Did not matter to us though as the three of us were taking a boat tour to the Bird Islands. The ship docked at 9 AM, just after breakfast and we went straight off the ship and onto a bus for the tour. After about an hours ride we arrived at Big Bras d’Or lake, a huge lake in the center of Cape Breton Island, which is actually an arm of the sea. The tour started at a small (and I mean small!) private dock on an estuary. The boat was small and there were 30 people and the water looked rough! We were beginning to doubt the wisdom of this adventure! The trip out to the Bird Islands took about 40 minutes and it was smoother than expected. In fact the vibrations from the boats motor were great for my feet and back - like a 40 minute massage!

The islands were covered with a massive variety of birds, mostly seabirds, but we also saw 47 bald eagles, a lot of Gray seals and a few Harp seals. Turned out to be a great tour - perfect for a gray, rainy day!

Back at the ship we had a quick lunch and I went to a lecture on Earthquakes and Tsunamis, followed by one about the history of pirates in the Maritimes. Nancy went to her knitting group and Joan relaxed. Later we went to the Ocean Bar and sat with a couple we had met on a previous APHC cruise, John & Sandy.

The APHC show was especially good this evening and then after dinner we went the late show with Fred Newman.

Wednesday 7/13 - Cruising the Gulf of St Lawrence

Back in the Eastern time zone this morning and another bright, sunny day. GArrison and Roy Blount, Jr. did a show in the main showroom in the morning and there were naturalist lectures all day. I went to Volcanos & Earthquakes, History of the Newfoundland Cod Fishery, and one on Sailing Ships. Nancy and Joan went to one on Whales and thenNancy went to the knitting group while Joan did a charity walk on the promenade deck.

Very good musical show this evening with two Canadian groups LeVent du Nord (or as Garrison called the “Big Wind from Norway”!) and Genticord. After dinner we sat in the library and played a couple of games.

Thursday 7/14 - Quebec City

Sunny and about 75 degrees. Quebec City is very picturesque, especially from the pier where our ship is tied. Quebec City's skyline is dominated by the massive Château Frontenac Hotel, perched on top of Cap-Diamant. They are doing repairs to the roof and the scaffolding is hidden behind netting that has been painted to look like the roof line of the hotel, so at first glance nothing seems out of place. The whole city has a very French flavor and seems very much like a European city.

We turned on our telephones this morning and found text messages that Emily had the baby Tuesday evening about 8:30. Mile Lawrence and his mom were doing well. Nancy and Joan were very excited. At lunch we found a really good deli/bakery/sandwich shop which had good WiFi so we were able to look at pictures of the baby on my iPod.

Speaking of the iPod, the new one I bought in NY has a camera, which the old one does not. It is actually very good and I used it throughout the trip instead of luggin along our digital camera, worked very well.

This Morning we all took a bus tour to Isle d’Orleans and Mount Morancy Falls, stopping at a maple sugar bush. A very pretty and scenic area and once again very prosperous looking. After the tour we walked through the lower town and then took the funicular up to the upper town where we had lunch at Pillard.

Another perfect weather day, a brief shower in the afternoon kept the temperatures reasonable as it had been quite hot here. Back on the ship we had drinks in the Ocean Bar and dinner. No shows scheduled this evening as many people are dining in Quebec City, quiet on the ship. We were surprised to see the sun set behind the ramparts of the city! Seems the river is flowing north here, so the city is actually on the west bank.

Friday 7/15 - Quebec City

Sunny and a bit warmer today. After breakfast we went out and found a cash station to replenish funds. Joan returned to the ship while Nancy and I went up the funicular again and walked along the boardwalk in front of the city, around the ramparts up and around the Citadel. 310 steps to an observation deck that turned out to be pretty much surrounded by trees! The Plains of Abraham were covered by the stages and setups for a music festival. instead of going back down the steps we walked around the back of the Citadel and back through the upper city on Rue St Louis. We had hoped to come across another bakery for lunch, but were to walked out to go searching for one. Ended up back on then ship for lunch. In the afternoon we went to a really good Fred Newman show “Unfinished Stories”. Relaxed the rest of the afternoon.

The final show of the cruise was this evening, very good, as were all of them. We skipped the final night party in the Crow’s Nest Lounge as we had done that on a previous APHC cruise and it was a mob scene!

Saturday 7/16 - Montreal

Another nice day, but hotter than we would like. We really lucked out on the weather this trip as it was almost ideal every day. It was a very pretty evening coming up the river last night, there were several downbound freighters passing while we had dinner and afterwards I went out on deck and watched an upbound freighter pass us. There was a full moon shining over the river.

In the morning we left the ship and dropped out bags at Auberge Les Passants du Sans Soucy, a very nice small (nine rooms) hotel in the old city. We took the Metro and went into the city center and did some gift shopping in the underground shopping area to stay out of the heat. Then we had lunch at 3 Brewers. Back at the hotel in mid-afternoon, a very, very nice room. Later we walked a few blocks and had an excellent dinner at La Gargote.

Sunday 7/17 - Montreal

Nancy and Joan when to mass at Notre Dame, I read the paper. We then took a leisurely stroll through the old city to the tent where Circ du Solei performs. Fortunately the tents were well air conditioned as it was getting pretty hot. Enjoyed an excellent show. On the way back we stopped for beer and Putine (french fries with cheese and gravy), then relaxed at hotel and packed for the trip home. Had dinner at another very good French restaurant.

Monday 7/18 Potsdam, NY

Joan headed for the airport and we took a taxi to the central train station to catch an AMTRAK train back to NY. Garrison was standing in line beside us when we were waiting for the train. Once again the AMTRAK ride was very nice, but slow. A fairly long wait at the border. Lee and Peggy met us at the station in Plattsburgh, where we had lunch and then we returned to Potsdam.

As I mentioned before we left on the cruise, we were a bit concerned about the soft ground where we had parked the truck and trailer. Well it had rained for a couple of days and just as we got back to the campground the skies opened up again and it poured! We had to sit in the car for about 20 minutes waiting for the rain to let up and then wade through standing water to get to the trailer. It was almost 6 PM by then so I opted to wait until morning to try to move the truck and trailer. I had unhitched when we parked there and I knew it would be difficult to back under the trailer on the soft ground.

Looking around the campground I saw that one of our neighbors had a four wheel drive truck and a fifth wheel, so I walked over and asked him is he would be willing to pull the fiver out of the soft ground in the AM. He said “sure” he would be willing to give it try.

Tuesday 7/19

First thing in the morning I fired up the truck and was able to get it off the soft grass without to much fuss or damage to the turf. Our neighbor came over and hitched up his truck - it really sunk down on the springs with the pin weight of our fiver, but he was able to pull it out of the soft ground with no wheel spin! Thank goodness for 4WD! The Volvo is great on the highway, but not so good on soft ground.

After we got parked we went and did laundry and then went to the cemetery in Canton to visit my parent’s and brother’s graves (a lot of other relatives are buried there as well - aunts, uncles, grandparents, and my niece).

Later we had dinner with my cousin.

Wednesday 7/20

Getting ready to hit the road, a last visit with my cousins and then we started getting things ready for the next leg. We have decided to go back to Boston to see the new baby instead of heading straight back home.

Thursday 7/21

Hit the road about 9:30 AM. We decided to swing around to the north of Lake Champlain and down through Vermont and New Hampshire into Massachusetts. Better options for campgrounds and hopefully less traffic. Pretty uneventful trip, although we had difficulty finding a place we could get into with the truck and trailer for lunch - our rig is a bit large for traveling easily around New England! Ended up skipping lunch and eating an early dinner.

We stopped at Limehurst Lake Campground in Williamstown, VT. A nice campground with a lake. Roads on the way in were a bit tight, bt we had a good pull through site that was a straight shot out to the rear gate of the campground in the morning. Went into Williamstown to a little restaurant call Soups and Greens in Barre for an early dinner.

Friday 7/22

We did this trip in a couple of short legs because we were not able to get into the campground in Salem, MA until Saturday morning. So today we had a relatively short trip and stopped at Cozy Pond Campground in Webster, NH. Dinner in the trailer as there were no nearby towns that would be easy to get to. This is an old campground back in the woods that has recently been reopened under new ownership and they are fixing it up very nice. Got a great rate as they are offering a 50% discount to first time campers!

Saturday 7/23

On into Salem, MA this morning. Traffic was not bad until we got on I-95 head NE around Boston where it was stop and go for about 10 miles. We found out later that there had been a gas tanker fire on Rt 1 earlier that morning, so all the traffic was over on I-95. Directions into Winter Island Park in Salem were a bit convoluted, but Nancy did a great job navigating and figuring out the somewhat confusing directions from Map Quest. At one point the directions (published by the park!) sent us down a street with a 2-1/2 ton weight limit! HELLO! We weigh 19 tons! 2-1/2 is barely enough for a car!

One thing we did learn - Salem, MA has, without question, the worst roads we have ever driven one, not just narrow and twisty, but rough and seriously bumpy. We had stuff tossed all over inside the fiver by the time we got to the park.

In spite of the difficulty getting there, we ended up with a very nice spot looking out over Salem harbor from our back and side windows. The park is basically just spots around the perimeter of the the marina parking lot.

We were the just about noon, so after getting settled we found our way to the train station and took the train into Boston and then the MTA to our niece’s condo right near Tuft’s Medical Center in Chinatown. Got to meet the new baby and Nancy’s sister Connie and her husband (new grandparents) were there as well. so we had a nice family dinner.

Miles Lawrence Britt

Arriving back at the campground we found the gate was locked! Seems we had missed the signs about making arraignments for late return! I called the Salem police and the harbormaster came out and let us in. The next morning I put down a deposit for a gate key!

Sunday 7/24

After breakfast I dropped Nancy off at the train station and went back to the trailer to relax for a while. I was going to stop at Brattle Books on the in later, but a phone call revealed that they were no longer open on Sunday. So I just relaxed and then drove into the city around noon. Stopped along the way and had an excellent roast beef sandwich, one thing I do love about New England is delis!

Another nice afternoon visiting with Nancy’s family and take out pizza for dinner. Greg and took Emily’s dad to the baseball game. At one point Nancy, Connie, and Emily decided to go out and get something for lunch - leaving me with a 12 day old baby in my arms! All I could think of was “Just keep breathing!” This was the first time Emily had left the baby with anyone other than her mother! Miles and I both survived though with no crisis.

Monday 7/25

Drove back into Boston today and then we walked over to Brattle Books to peruse the $!, $3, and $5 racks. Filled a good sized cloth tote bag with a stack of books and lugged them back to Emily and Greg’s condo. In the evening we all went out to dinner at a really good German restaurant near their place which had excellent burgers. Said our goodbyes to everyone as we will be back on the road in the morning.

Tuesday 7/26

Loaded up and headed out fairly early as we wanted to get into PA this evening. Wound our way out of Salem, MA the we went across I-90 and then down I-84 through CT, Nancy navigated us around Hartford and on into NY where we picked up I-81 into PA and onto I-80.

We stopped at Little Mexico Campground in Winfield, PA. A bit out of the way on fairly narrow country roads, but a nice, quiet place with plenty of room. Once again Nancy made dinner as there was no likely place to eat anywhere nearby.

Wednesday 7/27

Back up on I-80 and on across PA and OH. Stopped at Fire Lake Campground in Bowling Green, OH again. Convenient spot for us with plenty of room.

Thursday 7/28

Finally back home today. Uneventful trip across Indiana, Cracker Barrel in Elkhart for lunch. Almost exactly a month for this trip. We will heading out to Bristol in a little over three weeks!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Another Repair Delay and Then Home

Monday 3/28

Short drive to Charlottesville today, arrived just before lunchtime. Stayed at Charlottesville KOA. We usually do not do KOA as they tend to have a lot of amities that we don’t use and prices to match, but this one is close to Monticello (this has kind of turned into a Thomas Jefferson tour!) and there are not many good campgrounds in the area. Went over to Monticello in the afternoon, they have a very nice new visitors center since we were last here, with a large gift shop. We walked up to the mansion from the visitors center, only 3/4 of a mile but it was mostly uphill! Toured the house and walked around the grounds, a bit cool, but a pleasant afternoon. A little early for spring flowers here, but the fruit trees are starting to blossom. We found out they have a new “behind the scenes” tour that is usually booked up in advance. We may do that when we are back in the area in August. Dinner back home and watched the Blackhawks beat Detroit, but they are still barely squeaking into the playoffs.

Tuesday 3/29

We were in the mountains last night and it was 22 degrees here this morning! Used the trick we learned in Tucson of keeping a trickle of water flowing in the kitchen sink to keep our water hose from freezing, worked like a charm. Up early and on the road by 8:30, fairly long drive today across most of West Virginia headed for Lexington, KY. Lunch at Cracker Barrel again, and made it to FoxFire KOA near Huntington late in the afternoon. Getting ready to set up I discovered that the back axle has shifted again! Got ahold of a local RV tech who came and took a look. Turns out that the left rear spring eye is actually broken (something I suspected when we had the bushing failure in Virginia!) So we need a new spring - which actually means replacing all four in order to maintain a level ride and for safeties sake. So we are sitting again waiting for parts! At least we are in a nice, full hook-up campground again. We had thought about stopping in a small town about 20 miles back to the east that offers free camping in a small park - that would have been a bad place to be stuck with the broken spring! Plus we once again avoided a breakdown on the road, so I guess we are lucky even though we will be delayed again, no place we really need to be anyway and no one waiting for us.

Headed for a local burger joint, Fat Patties, for dinner but it was jammed - at least an hour’s wait! (We found out latter it was due to “Two for Tuesdays”) Ended up having a less than satisfactory dinner at Pannera Bread.

Too much trouble this trip!

Sleeting here in WV tonight!

And the Blackhawks lost!

Things have to look up tomorrow!

Wednesday 3/30

Puttered around in the AM, Nancy did laundry, I unloaded the car since we will be sitting here a few days. I did some research on things to see and do around here, but it turns out most of them are closed on Wednesdays! Went to a health food store nearby called the Drug Emporium to look for a specific cream Nancy wanted. What we found was the the strangest store we have ever seen - it is a cross between a health food store, an organic market, a Dollar Store, and I don’t know what else. They had a wide variety of organic and regular groceries, hardware items, health food type items, pharmaceuticals, wine, clothing, greeting cards, decorative items, garden furniture, and a surprisingly good collection of imported beer!

After a quick stop at Walmart we went into Barboursville to West Virginia Quilt. Nancy had spotted a brochure at the WV Visitors Center on the way into the state and it turned out to be a really nice quilt shop.

Then we stopped back at Fat Patties for a late lunch/early supper, pretty good burgers. Still raining this afternoon, fortunately our campground is substantially above the nearby river! Back home and relaxed, reading and watching TV. They do have WiFI here in the RV park, but it is not working! At least we have our Verizon hot spot to check our e-mail. No word on our parts, so we are here for a few more days I guess - bummer.

Thursday 3/31

Went into the village of Milton this morning and visited the Blenko Glass Factory, which is only a few miles from our campground. Very interesting watching them hand blowing glass vases and they had a small museum of their collectible glass. Interesting place to stop if you are in the area.

Also spent some time browsing through a fairly large antique mall in downtown Milton. The WiFi at the campground is back up and working very well.

Friday 4/1

The fellow working on our spring issue was finally able to get a correct ID on the springs from Dexter Axle and they are on the way, scheduled for Saturday delivery.

Crummy weather today, rain and sleet. In the morning we checked out a flea market in Milton, only about half the booths were open, but there was a good used book booth and we spent the better part of an hour browsing and picked up a few books. Decided to go to the movies in the afternoon. After looking around we found a theatre in Huntington the was showing an interesting animated feature called “The Illusionist”. They had a 3:30 PM show, so we located a few possibilities for dinner and headed into Huntington. Got there early enough to check out the restaurants and picked one out. Went to the movie theatre and it was closed! Great! Turns out the matinée is only on Tuesday, Saturday, and Sunday! Oh well, back home and relaxed and watched the hockey game - Blackhawks won!

Saturday 4/2

New springs arrived at 10:30 AM!! Yeah! Jason arrived about noon and got to work installing them, finished about 2:30. Weather is holding but it looks threatening Sunday evening and into Monday so we want to get home before then.

Loaded the car, packed up the trailer and left the campground around 3 PM and headed for home, I-64 to Lexington, KY; then North on I-75 to Cincinnati, with a stop at the Flying J in Walton, KY ( 187 gallons @ $3.939 per gallon!); then a stop for lunch at the Cracker Barrel just west of Cincinnati, I-74 to Indianapolis and I-65 towards Chicago. Spent the night at the Cracker Barrel in Lafayette, IN.

Sunday 4/3

Finally home! Stopped briefly in Tinley Park for a quick visit with Nancy’s sister Joan, and got home just after noon.

Overall a great winter trip, but we could have done without the spring problems at the end, kind of soured things when we had to sit and wait for parts. Actually it was a lot of fun and we saw and did a lot of interesting things. Travel was pretty good as well, over the last four months, from Chicago to Tucson, to Yuma, back across the country to Bristol, TN and on to Virginia, then back home to Geneva (just over 6,000 miles) and we never hit any bad weather on the road! Not only no snow, but we never even drove in the rain, the truck and trailer are still pretty clean.

Good to be home though. We will be heading for upstate New York in late June, spending the 4th of July with my cousins and then we will take a train from Syracuse, NY to Boston for the Prairie Home Companion week long cruise to Montreal. After the cruise we will spend a couple of days in Montreal and then take the train back down to Plattsburgh, NY. Not sure where we will be going after that, but we’ll be in Bristol, TN for the NASCAR race in late August and we have reservations back at Desert Trails in Tucson for December through March next winter.

Have a good summer, I’ll start posting again when we hit the road in June.