Sunday, June 24, 2012

Eastern Shore and New Jersey

With our equipment adequately replaced, we were back on plan. A good night's sleep, a little cleaning up, some breakfast and we were on our way in overcast and threatening weather. We both like the Eastern Shore (also known as the DelMarVa Peninsula) It is a couple of hundred miles of farms, small towns, and little traffic. Not like the madness of I-95, across the Bay to the west. We hope one day soon to do an extensive exploration of the area.

This time we only made one stop: the Turner Sculpture Gallery in Onley (just outside Onancock). This shows the work of a father and son who do beautiful (and very expensive) wildlife sculptures in bronze. Gene once wrote an article on the son, David Turner, for the William and Mary Alumni newsletter. This got him a tour of the whole lost-wax production process, from the original model in clay, through the whole complex process of molding and casting, to the final patina on the cast bronze piece. Interesting, but complicated. One of Gene's favorite pieces is a life-size osprey in bronze, sitting on a branch and holding a fish---cast in silver. Jean favored the herons and otters. Getting in and out of the gallery from the northbound lanes is a bit complicated, since it is on the left on the other side of a divider. But it was well worth the effort.

Our plan was to take the Cape May - Lewes ferry and continue up the Garden State Parkway, visiting friends and relatives in New Jersey. It was about 4:00pm on a threatening day when we made it to the ferry. The rate for the Roadtrek, one way was $53. Not cheap, but better than driving west to Wilmington, taking the bridge to New Jersey, and driving back east again to the Parkway. The wind was about 15-20 from the southwest most of the way across. There was a slight roll, but otherwise a smooth passage. We arrived at Cape May about 5:30.

It began raining as we went up the Parkway toward our campground for the night near Barnegat. The directions they gave put us off the Parkway in the wrong direction, so we had to use one of those New Jersey loop-arounds. We parked, got mostly leveled, and plugged in, in light rain. We were here to visit with Jean's niece Diana, who eventually met us at the campground office, whence we went to a 24-hour diner for dinner and a long visit. Then we went back to the motorhome and continued to talk 'til just past midnight. Diana sang one of her songs for us---she's very good---and we talked a few dance steps (there is not enough room in the Roadtrek to demonstrate).

The next day the rain had stopped but it was still cloudy and cool. We went to see Diana's mother, Barbara, at the nursing home in Little Egg Harbor. Jean went in to visit while Gene stayed in the motorhome and took a nap. Jean's visit was fairly short because it was Barbara's nap time, and also Jean got bummed out remembering her mother in the same situation. After Jean came out, Diana showed up for a little more visiting. Then it's a couple more dance steps in the parking lot, some pictures (with Diana's camera), and it's time to head for Leonia.

David and Leah Roland are old friends of Gene's. They met when David was editing The Colonial Naturalist at Colonial Williamsburg and Gene was his assisitant. Jean had never met them, though she once had a long phone conversation with David. Gene was a little worried whether the newer, bigger motorhome would fit in their driveway---particularly under a fruit tree. When we got there it was apparent we would not fit under the tree, even if we could make the turn from the narrow street to the narrow dirveway. So we parked on the street and managed to get the rig sufficiently level. About that time David returned home from a meeting.

Leah had a meeting that night, so we went with David to a Chinese buffet (he is a Chinese food gourmet) and had a leisurely dinner and conversation. Then back to the house for a long conversation around the kitchen table (including Leah when she returned). Jean and the Rolands got on famously, so it was hard to quit and go to bed.

Next morning we were up at 8:00. We talked with David for a while and looked at his flower plantings. Then locked the doors and went into the house for breakfast. We lingered at the table 'til about 10:00 when I went out to get the rig ready and found the side door wide open! Nothing seemed to have been disturbed. Rolands obviously live in a very honest neighborhood. It was a most pleasant visit, but it was time to head up to Vermont for the main event.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


As mentioned last time, when we got back to our campsite on Sunday we found all of our hookup equipment missing. That included: a pressure reducer for the water, a high-end filter, 25 feet of food-quality hose with a quick-connect at the end, a circuit analyzer and surge protector, and a 26-foot power cord. That adds up to several hundred dollars worth of equipment without which we cannot hook in to campground water and power.

Gene went to the office to tell what happened, hoping that the maintenance crew picked it up and put it somewhere. The day crew was already gone, but the night crew looked around and found nothing. Having paid for a site with facilities, we found ourselves dry camping on a hot night. Hoping to run the air conditioner, Gene attempted to start the generator, but with no success.

We carry some spare equipment buried in storage. There we had a spare hose and a 25-foot extension for the 30-amp power cord. However, being an extension, it does not have the proper plug at the motorhome end. Gene went back to the camp store and bought what he thought was the right adapter to make it work, but it was the wrong "sex." We needed a male plug to female twist-lock connector and what he found was a female socket to a male twist-lock, so back to the store it went.

Tired and disgusted, we opened all the windows, turned on the roof vent, and went to bed. It eventually cooled down enough to get some sleep. In the morning we went back to the office. The owner of the campground was most upset about the situation, and did everything she could to help us. One of the campers, when checking out the previous morning, had said that we hadn't been there all night and apparently abandoned our gear. Firstly, we had been there, we just got in very late and left again early. And who would just abandon a complete and extensive setup? The owner could determine who the campers were, but was unable to contact them. Rightly or wrongly, that put suspicion of them in our minds, but there wasn't anything we could do about it.

After checking around some more, it became apparent that the equipment had simply been stolen. We were at the beginning of a trip, so the next task was to replace as much of it as we could. Besides the hose and power cord, we had a spare pressure reducer and we were able to buy a quick-disconnect for the hose. We went to the camp store and bought another water filter, not the same as we had, but it will do the job. The owner sold it to us for her cost, which was very kind of her. So now we could connect to water.

We spent some time on the phone trying to find an adapter so that we could plug in the power cord. We thought we had tracked one down to a local Home Depot. But first the owner showed us the catalog she orders her merchandise from. Gene found a power cord that looked like it should work, and another 30-amp surge suppressor with circuit analyzer. It would take two days to get it, but we could have it drop-shipped to Gene's son in Vermont. The owner was willing to only charge us her cost, and when she ordered it and explained the situation, the supplier added in an additional discount. So the bill came to a little over $250, which qualified for free shipping. Everyone (except the thieves, of course) was sympathetic and willing to do anything they could to make things easier for us. We topped up our propane tank at the campground and headed out.

The trip to Home Depot turned out to be a dud. We called a couple of RV dealers from a list the campground gave us and found one that thought they might have the adapter. It was a long ways away, but we had no other leads so off we went. They did, indeed, have the right adapter, so we were basically back in business except for a surge suppressor. After buying the adapter, I mentioned that it was too bad we didn't have time to hang around and have the service people look at the generator. The sales clerk said why not ask? so we found the service manager and told him the situation with the generator. He said he would look at it, and crawled under the motorhome and fiddled with it for a while. He said there was nothing wrong with the generator, it just wasn't getting enough fuel (propane in our case). He turned on the vent for the propane tank and got air. It turns out the person who filled our propane at the campground hadn't bled the air off as he pumped in the gas.

While he was working, I tried out the new adapter and found that it would work except there was a plastic ring for attaching the adapter to a fitting that prevented the socket from fully engaging our fitting. While the propane tank was venting, the service manager and another worker cut off the ring for me which allowed the fitting to work.

They vented excess air out of the propane tank for almost two hours, and still didn't get it all. But it got low enough that the generator started and ran for seven minutes before we cut it off, satisfied. When we were ready to head for our next campground, now able to hook in normally, the service manager didn't charge us anything, saying that they really didn't do anything.

So we headed across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel to spend the night in Kiptopeake State Park on the bottom of the Eastern Shore. We had lost a day of our trip, but we had met a lot of sympathetic and friendly people. Still, despite have done so many times in the past with no problems, we won't be leaving any equipment at the site if we leave for the day.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Opsail 2012

Gene wanted to attend the big square-rigger gathering called "Opsail," but he didn't want to go on Godspeed this time. So we set our Spring trip to start in Norfolk, then go up the east coast via the Eastern Shore and New Jersey to Vermont, visiting friends and relatives along the way. So on Thursday, 7 June, we set out.

Stopping briefly in Williamsburg to pick up some of our favorite peanut butter, we launched ourselves onto the interstates toward Norfolk. Three traffic jams later we were northbound on Route 13 in Virginia Beach when we saw a sign telling us that the first island on the Bay Bridge Tunnel would be closed to parking the next day. Darn! we had figured to be out there the next morning to photograph the beginning of the Parade of Sail.

Crossing Lynnhaven Inlet on the bridge, we spotted the fleet at anchor offshore. We stopped and went to the beach, and then out on a fishing pier to photograph some of the anchored ships. On the pier we talked to some people who said that there was a free shuttle bus out to the island in the morning, but no one knew where it was leaving from or if there was parking there. We finally decided to bag that idea. It turned out that it was just as well, since the ships didn't set sail until well after that point. So we had supper on the pier cafe and headed to First Landing State Park in order to check in and get hooked up before sunset.

At First Landing, they had a hard time finding our (prepaid) reservation. A hard enough time that when things finally got sorted out it was well after dark so we had to find a campsite, back in, and hook up in the dark. However, it is a good campground and we would be willing to camp there again, but you have to make reservations well ahead of time, and be sure to bring along your confirmation number.

Next day we checked out and drove in to Norfolk, where we found a good parking place near downtown and a free shuttle bus to the waterfront. Gene helped take Godspeed's lines and then we went off to watch the Mexican training ship Cuauhtemoc come in. It was a stirring sight, with the yards all manned and Mexican folk songs playing. Jean was quite moved, remembering her years in Mexico and all the folk dancing she had done. "The Mexicans can still do some things right." she said.

After a while, we caught the free shuttle back to the parking area. After an hour of jouncing around downtown Norfolk in seats too small for Gene's legs, we got there. We went to our new campground in Virginia Beach.  It is a big (three swimming pools) resort-type campground with lots of grass and trees. Also a maze of roads which we wandered around on for a while until we found our campsite --- which turned out to be near the entrance. It is a very nice place, except for being on the approach to Oceana Naval Air Station, where they were landing jet fighters in flocks right over the campground.

Next day (Saturday) we set out early and found a good parking place. This time we took the light rail in to downtown. Much smoother and more comfortable. We got off at McArthur Square and went in to the big mall to watch the fountain that works in spurts, then got some breakfast at Barnes and Noble and went down the the waterfront.

Gene worked two shifts on the ship, doing interpretation in costume. Jean wandered around the festival a little and took refuge from the heat by doing some shopping. Between shifts we walked around and went aboard a couple of schooners that Gene was interested in.

 We left the festival to have dinner at Schlotzky's, and went back aboard at sunset to watch the fireworks which were intense.

Afterwards we joined the crowd and caught the train (we got the fifth one) back to the parking lot. We got back the the campground about midnight.

Next day we headed back to Norfolk. Gene only worked one shift, so by mid-afternoon he was finished. We decided we had had enough of the hot festival and headed back to Virginia Beach. One of the perks of that campground was free parking at the beach, so we spent a couple of hours relaxing on the beach. In late afternoon we went back to the campground to discover that all our hookup gear was missing. We checked at the office but none of the maintenance crew had picked it up, so we were reduced to dry camping in a hookup site. We had run the vent all day to keep the temperature down in the motorhome, so the battery was low. Then to add insult to injury, the generator wouldn't start. Luckily, it wasn't a hot night. Next day we had to deal with the problem of the loss of the gear, but that is another story.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Starting out

Our little home on the road

Greetings friends and relatives! Welcome to the Old Pair of Jeans blog. We will use this blog to keep you posted on our travels.

We're off on a new adventure. This time we are heading first to Norfolk, VA, to see and take part in Opsail 2012. This is a gathering of "tall ships" from all over the world. That is the sort of thing that makes Gene's heart go pitty-pat. Hope to get some pictures.

Then it is off to Vermont by way of New Jersey to visit friends and relatives for a week or so. Along the way we are trying out some less expensive camping situations. We'll keep you posted on how that works. While we usually travel to visit folks --- and that is how we design an itinerary --- we are starting to work in more sight-seeing. We'll post some pictures of that, too.

This (the blog) is a new adventure for us. I hope we can make it interesting enough so that you will check back from time to time to see what's happening.

See you in a couple of days.