Saturday, August 9, 2014

Vermont and home

This will be a slightly different blog posting. In July, we took our annual Vermont trip. Unlike previous trips I did not post every night as we went. For a couple of reasons (probably none of them good) we forwent that procedure. I expect that in the future I will return to as-we-go posting. After returning, I decided to do an ex post facto description of the trip. Then I lost the written log book. I have now found it again, so here we go. This trip consists of three posts, so to read it in chronological order, start at two posts below (An Iffy Fourth).

9 July
A few days of relaxing in Burlington. Today, Jean went downtown to shop and I went with Alan to work on his boats (stored elsewhere). These boats consist of a Yamaha jet-ski and a boat called Shuttle Craft. This is the front half of a boat with a bay in the back in which to dock the jet-ski (which then powers the combination). Alan was having a problem due to the jet-ski not being tight enough.

First we cleaned the winter dirt off both boats. Then we pulled four bolts and went to a drive-through lumber yard to buy some wood. After a couple more stops we were back at the boats, where Alan decided to change plans. At first we were going to put a shim behind the liner to the docking place. Alan decided that adding a piece to the rub rail of the Yamaha would be easier and would work better. So we made some more measurements and went out and bought a bunch of nuts and bolts.

About 3:00 Jean came back and we went to the house for lunch, which consisted of a couple of Trader Joe's small, individual pizzas. That was something new for us and we enjoyed them. Too bad there isn't a Trader Joe's in Forest. We relaxed until Valerie came home, then went out to a nice Italian restaurant. We always eat well at Alan's.

10 July
The water tank ran out last night, so we had to flush using distilled water for the CPAP. First job in the morning was to refill the water tank. Another clear, cool day in Burlington.

I spent much of the day with Alan, working on extending the rub rails on the jet-ski. I soon learned that the best way to help him is to stay out of his way. He is a very fast worker and knows exactly what he wants to do and how to do it. Meanwhile, Jean walked downtown. Alan got the new wood cut and shaped and we were about to bolt them on when he decided to prime them first.

We got back to the house about the same time as Jean, and she and I hung out while Alan went for picnic stuff. After Valerie got home we joined their friends John and Lynne and went to a local park for a picnic and concert. I sat at the edge of the group so didn't hear much of the conversation because of the music, but it was a wonderful spot for people-watching. Afterwards we walked back to the house and spent the rest of the evening in quiet conversation.

11 July
It was a cool night, we needed a blanket about 5:00. But it turned into another sunny, warm day.

We left for home about 10:00. We stopped at the Wildflower Farm and Jean was able to buy the seeds she wanted, along with a nice mat printed with flowers and butterflies.

We stopped in Fairhaven for lunch at an old-time cafe called the Wooden Soldier. It was a touch of old Vermont. The burgers were also big and delicious.

Going back to the Roadtrek, we spotted a three-wheel car modeled after the classic Three-Wheel Morgan. It was hand-built, of which only a few were made. I had a brief opportunity to talk with the owner. Drool, drool.

On the way out of town we stopped to fill up on diesel. The place we chose had a unique system for fueling. After going in to pay, I was informed that in order to use the pump on the left side of the van (where the fuel fill is) I first had to take the nozzle from the pump on the right side and lay it on the ground. Then I would be able to get fuel from the nozzle to the left. It sounded weird, but it worked.

Alan and Valerie had both recommended that we visit a place called Bolton's Landing, on the west shore of Lake George. So we made a side trip when we got to New York. The drive in had lots of beautiful scenery, but you can't see the lake from the road. We found a parking place and walked around a little, during which time we spotted this tree stump.

Then we got back in the van and drove out to see the Sagamore, a classic, high-end resort in the grand style. Impressive.

We stopped for the night at the Walmart in Cobblestkill, NY. We had stayed here once before, on the return trip from taking Amanda to Vermont. Then it was nice weather when we went to bed, but in the morning we were the only vehicle in the lot, with strong wind and blowing snow (this was February). This time the weather was much better, though the stop was not without incident. I decided to move to what looked like a more level spot, but as I pulled forward, a low branch from the tree I was parked under ripped off the new vent cover. We never found the cover, which is shaped like a wind vane. The cover has since been replaced, but it leans back a little.

12 July
It was a chilly night, but nowhere like the last time we were here. Today we had a goal. We wanted to get to Winchester (VA) in order to visit with Jean's cousin, Beth. We stopped for lunch again in another Pennsylvania rest area (but no nap this time). Other than that it was just interstate driving.

As we were approaching the Virginia line, we got into a two-mile backup from and accident. At that time I got a long phone call from my granddaughter, Elizabeth. Meanwhile, Jean called Beth and arranged for us to meet tomorrow at breakfast (place to be determined when we know where we will be camping).

We checked in to a nice campground on the outskirts of Winchester. They had cable, so we hooked in and watched TV. We don't do that very often because we don't ever know the local listings. In this case we didn't have a very good picture either. We watch a lot of TV at home but almost none on the road.

13 July
In the morning we dumped our tanks to come home clean. We were successful, but it appears that we have a problem with the macerator/pump. Another problem to deal with when we get home.

We met Beth for breakfast in a nearby IHOP and had a long, pleasant visit. When we left we decided to try driving back on US11 instead of the interstate. It was a very pleasant drive, much better than the nearby interstate, though we did slip back onto I-81 briefly to go around Harrisonburg and to make the connection with I-64 for crossing Afton Mountain. We got home a little after 5:00.

Trip statistics: We determined that it is about 800 miles to Alan's from SW or SE Virginia. The total trip length was 1,808 miles.

On to Vermont

Sunday, 6 July:
Sunny and pleasant. We took a walk to the fishing pier at the other end of the waterfront. Not nearly as busy as yesterday. Chillie decided he wouldn't need us any more, so after chatting with friends for a while we left at noon --- destination Vermont.

Leaving from home, we usually drive up I-81 for a couple of days. Leaving from the other side of the state, we decided to  follow US17 until it intersects with 81 at Winchester. After the usual traffic between Yorktown and Gloucester it became easy country driving. The road varied from 4-lane-divided to 2-lane. It was a pleasant drive in the country, seeing the farms and small towns. This is our favorite kind of travel, calm and easy.

That is, until we picked up I-95 just south of Fredricksburg. We had to get on the interstate and follow it around Fredricksburg before we could get back on 17. Traffic in the interstate was bumper-to-bumper and moving slowly. It looked like all of Washington, DC, was heading back to town after the holiday weekend. Driving back to our usual route to Alan's meant taking a wide swing to the west, rather than taking the more direct route; but we were willing to add the miles to avoid the madness of the Northeast Corridor, especially on a holiday weekend. (As it turned out, the route we took wasn't significantly different from our usual one.)

Once we got back on17 and were clear of the traffic around Fredricksburg it was back to pleasant country driving again --- except for a few miles approaching Warrenton. Just before 5:00 we connected with I-81 at Winchester. The traffic wasn't bad, so we elected to stay on the interstate. Less than an hour later, we checked in to a campground in West Virginia. Once we got settled in, we recognized it as the same one we stayed in three years ago when we took Amanda to school in Vermont.

7 July
In the morning we bought more ice. There was block ice available at the camp store. So remembering my sailing days, I bought a block. That will keep longer than cubes, but in my sailing days we didn't make Cuba Libres every night --- and I later realized we don't carry an ice pick. We had to make do with a knife (not having Cuba Libres was not an option).

We also realized that we had left our New England maps home, so leaving the campground, we headed for the nearest AAA, in Hagerstown, MD. While Jean got the appropriate maps, I went in to a nearby liquor store to get some more rum. At $37 a bottle, it was the most I had ever paid for our favorite brand. I must remember not to buy liquor in Maryland.

In mid-afternoon we stopped for an hour in a Pennsylvania rest area for lunch and a short nap. Ah, the comforts of a motorhome.

We stopped for the night at a rural campground in New York. It was raining when we arrived, and then we had to wait briefly while our site was cleared of a capsized shelter tent and some pool toys that had blown over from the adjoining site. The rain ended shortly so we went to the office and camp store to pay our fees and find something for supper. Unlike most camp stores, this one had almost no food. Back at the Roadtrek we settled down for a "dinner" of chips, crackers, dip, pimiento cheese, Cuba Libres, and soft ice-cream sandwiches for dessert. Conditions were pleasant for a while, but then it got warmer again so we closed up and started the A/C.

The campground had wifi, so we got online. Jean did some bank business but was frustrated in one of the tasks she tried to do. Grrr! Then I got on line and caught up my checkbook and went through email. Then I discovered I also had a problem with the same web site. Grrr!

8 July
We turned off the A/C in the middle of the night and woke to a clear and sunny morning. But it soon began heating up. On the road, we ran into a traffic jam just south of Saratoga Springs, where we had wanted to take a short side trip. The traffic eased up just as we got to our exit.

We went in to town to see if we could find the dancing school run by Jean's late friend, Michael Steele. We stopped at the dance museum and made inquiries, but the one person Jean could find was new to the area and didn't know where it was. We headed toward downtown, but Saratoga Springs turned out to be a much bigger and more crowded place than we had imagined. Also, there was no place where we could find parking for the motorhome. So we headed back out, promising to try again another time.

Back on local roads, we entered Vermont about 2:30. Jean called Alan and he estimated we would be at his house in about two hours. At 4:05 we stopped at the Wildflower Farm to get some more seeds. The Farm closes at 4:00 so we were disappointed. Forty minutes later we arrived at Alan's, at the same time as him. He obviously knows traveling around Vermont very well.

We spent a pleasant time visiting on his deck overlooking Lake Champlain, then off to a Mexican restaurant for dinner. The wind and rain picked up after we got back, culminating in the portable garage he had rigged for an awning on the deck blowing down. A brief flurry of activity and everything was secured for the night.

In the past we have pressed on to make Vermont in two days. This time we took three and it was a more pleasant and relaxing trip. Traveling in an RV, our experience has always been that slowing down makes things better.

An iffy Fourth

Before the trip began we ran into a problem. Due to reasons too complex and embarrassing to go into here, we did not have a door on the refrigerator. So we had to do the trip using a cooler with ice. (The refrigerator has since been fixed.)

3 July
According to plan, we started by spending Fourth of July weekend at the Watermen''s Museum in Yorktown (VA) so that we could be available to help Jean's brother, Chillie-the Big Red Funnel Cake man. The weekend got off to an iffy start because Hurricane Arthur was coming up the coast and expected to be in our area about the Fourth. Heading toward a hurricane is something we don't usually do but what the hell, it wasn't supposed to be a big hurricane. We got to the museum about 5:30 on Thursday the third and settled in to our usual berth. The weather was in the high 90's. We learned that tomorrow's parade had already been cancelled due to predicted rain.

4 July
The rain happened during the night. By morning Arthur was off the Virginia-North Carolina border. There was no more rain but lots of wind. Friends stopped by from Williamsburg (they usually live in Seattle) and visited for a while.

With the parade cancelled, the morning was slow. Gradually the clouds cleared and toward late afternoon the wind moderated so that the fireworks were on as scheduled. By late afternoon business picked up at the funnel cake trailer and we had a line out the gate for a couple of hours. We eventually had to cut off the line because Chillie was running out of supplies. There were still people in line when the fireworks started.

Afterwards we walked down to the river. You could look across and in the distance see fireworks from four other cities.

By the time everything was wrapped up, there was no place left to eat but McDonald's. It was bumper-to-bumper getting there, and once there they were crowded and short-handed.

5 July
Morning was cool and pleasant. We walked to the Saturday market looking for something for breakfast. We ended up buying sandwiches and Linzer torts from the new Carrot Tree on the waterfront. After breakfast we drove to Sam's Club for supplies to replace what Chillie was in danger of running out of.

Back at the ranch, Jean rested and I worked on some knots for a new knot board for the museum. I found myself mostly doing whippings (2 per knot). In late afternoon, Chillie went to Richmond for more batter. After a while I joined his right-hand-man, Willie, and made lemonade. We had a steady stream of customers, but not a long line like yesterday. Chillie got back late, just as we were running out of batter; so we shut down and went to dinner at a real restaurant. Tomorrow we head for Vermont.