Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Aerie Report, August 31, 2010

Late Tuesday afternoon and I'm at the Aerie again. The trailer is nearly cleaned out and will be by tomorrow (Wednesday) evening. I've only got a few frozen foods that need transport. The rest of the caned goods and non-refrigerated foods can stay in place to be off loaded at the Bolt Hole.


Don and Adam started work on the staining and stone work on Monday morning. Adam has been pressure washing the logs to remove dirt and grime before staining begins. The 2500 psi machine is certainly going through the 400-450 gallons f water in the cistern pretty darn quick! With a very slow recharge rate in the well, we'll recover between 30 and 40 gallons an hour. That requires the well pump to run for just 10 minutes and rest for 50. With it having been drawn down so low, Adam will start the staining process as the cistern fills. Meanwhile, Don has put a wire mesh in place and a scratch coat on the exterior basement wall and has started to apply some of the faux stone. This is the same "stone' that we have on the fireplace and chimney. It will really look nice when it's finished.


I harvested a couple of dozen white onions from the garden this afternoon. The reds still have their fleshy tops and were left in the ground for another time. So far we've almost as many onions as we did last fall and those nearly made it to April. Some of the onions were smaller than I like, but, since they grew without any weeding or cultivating or watering at all other than what Mother Nature provided, I'll take the results.


Weather has been nearly perfect for outdoor work. The sky remains clear although the days are, perhaps, a bit too warm. (It's reached the 90s the last three days.) We haven't seen any rain since the 23rd and the forecast shows only a chance on Friday night into Saturday--depending upon Earl's behavior.


Tomorrow I will be heading over to the Muck to assist other members of the Tiadaghton Audubon Society with the annual maintenance of the boardwalk and blind. There will be some carpentry, some weed whacking, and some staining to do there as well.


Thursday, I'll hitch the trailer up and head to Amsterdam, NY and the Alpin Haus to get its slide out motor replaced. I'll then retire to the Bolt Hole for the weekend. Hopefully, Earl will swing out to sea and there won't be much in the way of rain Friday night into Saturday.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Road Trip 2010: Fuel by the Numbers
and more

I spent some time with my friend, Microsoft Excel, last night putting together the numbers from our recent trip. My records were nearly intact since I carefully record every gasoline purchase with location of fill-up, price per gallon (or liter, as the case may be)number of gallons (or liters), miles driven since last fill-up, and the miles per gallon for that tank of fuel. I say "nearly intact" because I forgot to enter the name of one town and the total cost for the fill-up in another. That's more than close enough for government work.

Since some of the gas was purchased in Canada and those folks measure in liters, I had to convert the number of liters into gallons. (BTW, there's 3.784 liters in a gallon. One quart equals 0.964 liters. It's right there on your milk carton. One liter equals 1.06 quarts. That's on you soda bottle.)

And, since some of the gas was purchased in Canada it was paid for with Canadian cash which was nearly but not quite the same value as the USD. For practical purposes, I've assumed they traded at par over the course of our trip with the differences on either side balancing out over time. In reality, the two did a delicate little dance about that value, with each having the upper hand by a few pennies at one time or another. Usually the value depended upon what was happening in the Canadian elections, who said what to whom in the US, how folks felt about their teams chances for the Grey Cup or some such nonsense. Lets just call them equal for now.

Any how, our trip covered 75 days from June 9th to August 22. I filled the tank before we left and did so again when we came back.
Total distance traveled was 12,238 miles.
The Tundra burned a total of 1334.75 gallons of regular gasoline with an average cost of $3.05 per gallon.
(The price was highly inflated by the average of $4.32 per gallon paid in Canada and the average of $3.73 per gallon paid in Alaska. The rest of the USA we averaged $2.75 per gallon--and that includes the $3+ paid for five fill-ups in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. [Idaho? It was Mountain Home. Oh.])
The cheapest gas was in Columbia, MO at $2.40 per gallon.
The most expensive was the $1.84 per LITER paid at Muncho Lake, BC. That works out to $9.77 per gallon. And that's Canadian. Sure am glad I only took enough to get to Toad River! Where it was "only" $1.36 per liter!

Those of you who have your calculators out will easily see that we averaged 9.4 miles per gallon. Not great you say? Remember that the Tundra was hauling a trailer with a gross vehicle weight of 7500 pounds for much of the time. only one or two days was the Tundra in use when it did not have the trailer attached long enough to require a tank of gas. In Colorado Springs, for instance, we got 18.6 mpg when going over the mountains to South Park for ballooning. Our total cost for fuel alone came out to approximately $0.37 per mile.

The Tundra took a couple of lumps. There area few paint chips here and there and, while we almost made it without a ding in the windshield, we did get one the size and shape of a nickel when passing through a construction zone on the east side of Boise, Idaho. It's just about an inch inside the passenger side of the truck and if you didn't know where to look.... There's probably an epoxy that can be applied to it to prevent spreading. If not...Hey! This is PA! Lots of cars and trucks on the road with cracks from side to side. And the insurance companies aren't reluctant to pay for the damaged windshield or two.

Then there's the trailer: It needed realignment in Edmonton. It needs a new slide out motor now. But it survived the bumps and thumps along the way pretty well. No flat tires. Only a few pieces of gravel slung up to ding the siding--and most of those were from the Tundra despite the mud flaps. It still needs a good cleaning inside and out, but it has been very, very good to us.

College Football: Week 1 Outlook
Top 25s plus Opponents

Here we are at the start of the 2010 Collegiate Football season. Realignment of conferences and rumors of realignments, bust ups and dust ups abounded during the off season. Changes have been made but will not take effect quite yet. Still some teams will be playing their final year in their current conference and may be 1) picked upon by their PO’d conference members or 2) looking to prove how much better they are than their conference members. Either way, it could prove interesting for Nebraska and Boise State.

The Preseason Top 25 Polls are out as well and there’s some interesting things happening there too. So, without any further ado or commentary, I present the “experts’ opinion” as to who should be considered the elite teams here in the early going.

The three polls are the AP Top 25, the Coaches Poll, and the CBSSports.com. If a team is not listed in one or more of the three, I indicate such with an “NR” for “Not Ranked.” I also provide this week’s opponent for each of the ranked teams.

Getting onto this list is usually more difficult than getting into a White House reception without an invite, but this week, the folks at CBSSports must have been looking at unicorns or something. Just look at the number of teams they list in the Top 25 that neither the AP nor the Coaches polls have there. And then the CBSSports guys leave Oklahoma off altogether despite the #7 and #8 ranking by the AP and Coaches? Instead they’ve got Cincinnati up there while the other two do not even put the Bearcats in the Top 25.

Oh well. Once the whistles blows on Thursday night things will get considerably clearer I’m sure. Especially since everyone on the list is playing this weekend. Yeah, a lot of the games are the typical mismatches one usually finds in the first and second week of the season--games that will pad the win column of the teams that are looking toward that high ranking, but there are always the surprises and the upsets. And there are a few games that look to be really competitive (Boise State @ Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh @ Utah, and LSU @ North Carolina, for example) that make you believe the schedule maker fell asleep at the wheel.

1/1/1 Alabama The Tide will host San Jose State on Saturday night.
2/2/5 Ohio State The Buckeyes play host to Marshall on Thursday.
3/5/2 Boise State The Broncos travel to #10 Virginia Tech on Monday night.
4/3/3 Florida The Gators will host Miami (Ohio) on Saturday.
5/4/4 Texas The Longhorns will play at Rice Saturday afternoon.
6/7/6 TCU The Horned frogs host #24 Oregon State Saturday night.
7/8/NR Oklahoma The Sooners will host Utah State Saturday night.
8/9/16 Nebraska The Cornhuskers will host Western Kentucky Saturday night.
9/10/8 Iowa The Hawkeyes will host Eastern Illinois on Saturday afternoon.
10/6/11 Virginia Tech The Hokies will host Boise State on Monday night.
11/11/12 Oregon The Ducks host New Mexico on Saturday.
12/12/14 Wisconsin The Badgers play at UNLV late Saturday night.
13/13/17 Miami (Fla.) The Hurricane will host Florida A & M Thursday.
14/NR/21 Southern California The Trojans travel to Hawaii for a Thursday night game.
15/15/15 Pittsburgh The Panthers will travel west to face Utah Thursday night.
16/17/13 Georgia Tech The Yellow Jackets play host to South Carolina State on Saturday.
17/19/NR Arkansas The Razorbacks host Tennessee Tech Saturday night.
18/18/NR North Carolina The Tarheels will host #21 LSU Saturday night.
19/14/9 Penn State The Nittany Lions host Youngstown State on Saturday.
20/20/NR Florida State The Seminoles will host Samford on Saturday.
21/16/18 LSU The Tigers will play at #18 North Carolina Saturday night.
22/23/NR Auburn The Tigers will host Arkansas State Saturday night.
23/21/NR Georgia The Bulldogs host La.-Lafayette Saturday afternoon.
24/22/NR Oregon State The Beavers will be playing at #6 TCU Saturday night.
25/24/NR West Virginia The Mountaineers will host Coastal Carolina Saturday.
NR/24/19 Utah The Utes host the #15 Pitt Panthers Thursday.
NR/NR/7 Cincinnati The Bearcats will play at Fresno State late Saturday night.
NR/NR/10 Brigham Young The Cougars will host Washington on Saturday night.
NR/NR/20 Central Michigan The Chippewas will host Hampton on Thursday night.
NR/NR/22 Texas Tech The Red Raiders will host SMU Sunday afternoon.
NR/NR/23 Clemson The Tigers will host North Texas on Saturday afternoon.
NR/NR/24 Mississippi The Rebels will host Jacksonville State on Saturday.
NR/NR/25 Navy The Midshipmen play at Maryland on Monday afternoon.

The above list should get shorter as the season progresses. Why CBS Sports has such a divergence from the other two.... It's a mystery to me!

My Rutgers Scarlet Knight will be playing host to Norfolk State on Thursday night.

Let the games begin!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The trailer is still parked over at Ives Run and I'm sleeping there every night. Meanwhile, Terry and the cats are staying at the Aerie. After 75 days (+ or -) of constantly being together, it's a little strange.

During the day we're at the Aerie (or out on bird walks) together...mostly. Terry's picked up with her girlfriends in the stitching clubs and has been out twice already at meetings. She's also reconnected with the ladies guild at the church (she's currently at a church picnic). I've had to move the trailer to a new site while going to get it inspected...alone. It's not difficult to do by myself--I've done it often enough--but after 75 days (+ or -) of having someone share the chores I find that I missed her assistance.


When I come back to the Aerie, it seems to be to do some work about the place. Mowing the lawn, weed-whacking the edges, draining and refilling the cistern, etc. It would be nice to be able to just sit back and have little or nothing to do but that ain't gonna happen any time soon. I've still got a pile of wood that needs splitting--just as soon as I get down to Joe's to get the splitter back. Then the trailer needs to go north to get the slide out motor replaced. That's next Thursday's job. I'll just drop it off at Alpin Haus and they'll call me when it's done. Which will require another trip north to move the trailer to the Bolt Hole.


When I take the trailer north on Thursday, I'll head up to the Bolt Hole for the holiday weekend. While there, I'll be doing some more firewood cutting and scouting about. Mark says there are few deer about the place and recommends we try to find a new place to hunt for a while. I'm leaning toward just forgetting about the NY season and concentrating my efforts on the PA Bow and rifle seasons.


I'll have to return to the Aerie Monday night (which means fighting traffic just a little) since the Tundra has an appointment for bright and early Tuesday (September 7th) morning. It needs some TLC after hauling the trailer around for 12K miles--plus up north to Amsterdam.


College football season starts this week. The Big East still lives and the eight schools in the conference should provide some exciting play this year. Everyone (with the possible exception of Syracuse and Louisville) should be competitive.

While Pittsburgh and West Virginia have some incredibly talented running backs in sophomore Dion Lewis and senior Noel Devine respectively, Rutgers sophomore QB Tom Savage and sophomore WR Mohamed Sanu should be able to light up the crowd. Coach Butch Jones will try to keep the fire alive at Cincinnati. And coaches Skip Holtz (1st year at South Florida) and Randy Edsall (UConn) will bring all they got to the table--and that's a lot of brain power! Hotlz is moving from East Carolina where the Pirates seemed to surprise an awful lot of folks on national TV. Every UConn loss last year seemed to be by 1 or 2 points. Edsall won't let that happen again. As for Louisville and Syracuse....can you say "rebuilding"...still. The Cardinals got embarrassed-often-last year. They may be able to use that this year--overconfident opponents, fired up players, etc. The Orange tried something different at QB last year using a former basketball player from a different university as their leader since they, frankly, didn't have any one ready to step in and had nothing to lose. It didn't work. Here's hoping they found someone as it's tough to play offense without a QB.

I've got to get my poll posts and match-up posts done but I'm not sure when I'll get them up. No wi-fi at the campground.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Aerie/Trailer Report, August 26, 2010

I got the grass cut the other day between rain showers and was surprised that it looked as good as it did when I got done. Sure, it started out looking like a pasture, but when it was clipped, it (almost) looked like real grass and not weeds.


Yesterday (Wednesday) I took it upon myself to clean the cistern in the basement. Having been idle for several months, the water in the well was quite filled with red clay and it accumulated in the 500 gallon cistern to the point that the water was unusable for washing anything white. (I've got the pinkish BVDs to prove it.) Looking in the toilet bowl at pinkish water as you take a pee kinda puts you off the coffee, too.

Anyway, I bought a submersible pump and stirred up the tank as I pumped it empty. Then we flushed the pipe coming from the well. Sheesh! There was one spurt of water that looked more like rose wine but after that cleared the water looked pretty good. A few short flushes of the line and some dilution of what was still in the tank followed by more sump-pumping and we had water that flowed through the 1 micron filter with hardly a hint of discoloration.

We put the well pump back on line to the cistern and let it do its thing. That's about 10 minutes of pumping and 50 minutes of rest. The cistern is still filling more than 24 hours later. The water that's in the tank is still a little turbid, but it's not pink. What ever is discoloring the tank is smaller than 1 micron and grayish. When you look at a glass of water, however, it appears crystal clear and the filter is clean, too. We've had much worse.


We went on a bird walk this morning with some others from the Tiadaghton Audubon Society. Things were remarkably quiet, but we did spot a few nice birds along the bike path leading from the Tioga River boat launch off Route 15 north of Mansfield. A pair of hummingbirds, a few red-eyed vireos, four or five cedar waxwings, and a chestnut-sided warbler were among the highlights.


Afterward, Terry and I returned to the campground to see if we could get the slide out to work. A super big negative on that one! In fact, the motor has seen it's last days. Fried. Ceased. Got nothing out of it even when we tried to play Frankenstein and attach it directly to the 12-volt battery. "It's dead, Jim."

I had to retract the slide out manually after disconnecting the motor--which now sits in the bed of the truck. I needed the slide out in because I've got to take the trailer for its state-mandated annual inspection tomorrow before moving to another site in the campground. Can't travel with the living/dining room sticking out. It (the slide out) will stay in board until it gets fixed. Luckily having it in does not block access to either the bath or the bedroom. It does make the living area a little more cramped but it'll just be that way for a week or so.

I did call the folks up at Alpin Haus in Amsterdam, NY. I told them what parts I needed and set an appointment to have them installed. They said I could drop it off on September 2nd but that they wouldn't have time to do anything until around the 10th--assuming the parts get there from Power Gear.

Fine by me. I'll take the trailer up. Drop it off and then continue on to the Bolt Hole for Labor Day Weekend before returning to the Aerie. The truck gets serviced on the Tuesday after the holiday so it has to be back here then.


We cleaned out the rest of the accumulated souvenirs, clothes, pots and pans that belong at the Aerie. The only food that's still in the trailer will be for meals during the next week or will go back to the Bolt Hole when I head north.

I'm beginning to feel like Road Trip 2010 has actually come to an end. Another month or two when the repair bills and the maintenance bills on the truck are paid off, I'll be able to relax.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

eMail of the Day

This came from my buddy--and Terry's cousin--Joe, a recent transplant to PA from New Jersey. He's been hunting here for decades and therefore he's quite familiar with the concept of PA etiquette. We may be latecomers to PA but we've had the attitude for a long, long time.

The rules of rural Pennsylvania are as follows:

1. Let's get this straight: it's called a 'dirt road.' No matter how slow you drive, you're going to get dust on your Lexus. Drive it or get out of the way.

2. They are cattle. They're live steaks or walking milk bottles. That's why they smell funny to you, get over it. Don't like it? I-80 goes east and west, I-81 goes north and south. Pick one.

3. Pull your droopy pants up, you look like an idiot.

4. Turn your cap right, your head isn't crooked.

5. So you have a $60,000 car, we're impressed. We have $150,000 corn pickers and hay balers that are driven only 3 weeks a year.

6. Every person in rural Pennsylvania waves. We think of it as being friendly. Try to understand the concept.

7. If that cell phone rings while an 8-point buck and three does are coming in, we will shoot it out of your hand. You better hope you don't have it up to your ear at the time.

8. Yeah, we eat scrapple, pot pie, funnel cakes, haluskie, pierogies, shoo-fly pie, apple butter, chow-chow, and schnitz un knepp. Don't like the sound of them or the names freak you out because you never saw a "Bon Appetit" article on them? Great, more for us!

9. The 'opener' refers to the first day of deer season. It's a religious holiday held on the Monday after Thanksgiving.

10. We open doors for women. That is applied to all women, regardless of age.

11. No, there's no 'vegetarian special' on the menu. Order steak, or you can order the chef's salad and pick off the 2 pounds of ham & turkey.

12. When we fill out a table, there are three main dishes: meats (includes fish), vegetables, and breads. We use four spices: salt, pepper, hot sauce, and Heinz ketchup. Oh, yeah...we don't care what you folks in Jersey call that stuff you eat. It's not real chili.

13. You bring 'coke' into my house, it better be brown, wet and served over ice.

14. You bring 'Mary Jane' into my house, she better be cute, know how to shoot,and have long hair.

15. College and high school football are as important here as the Steelers and Eagles and a lot more fun to watch.

16. Yeah, we have golf courses. But don't hit the water hazards---it spooks the fish.

17. Colleges? We have them all over. We have state universities, community colleges, and vo-techs. They come outta' there with an education plus a love for God and Country. They still wave at everybody when they come home for the holidays.

18. We have a whole ton of folks who have been in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard - PA has one of the highest percentages of veterans in the entire country. So don't mess with us. If you do, you will get whipped by the best.

19. Turn down that blasted car stereo! That thumpity-thump-thump stuff is not music anyway. We don't want to hear it anymore than we want to see your boxers. Refer back to # 3.

20. Four inches isn't a blizzard--it's a flurry. Drive like you got some sense, and don't take all our bread, milk and toilet paper from the grocery stores. You're not in Alaska. Worst case you may have to live a whole day without your croissants. The pickups with snow plows will have you out the next day.

Come to think of it, most of the above apply to all parts of the fly-over country between the coasts. The food stuffs may vary by locality as will the percentage of former military personnel, but the rest...not so much.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Odd news

Not sure what to make of this. Being married to a woman of (half) Polish descent.

Man, shot in head, notices five years later

BERLIN (Reuters) – A Polish man living in Germany went about his business for about five years without noticing he had been shot in the head because he was drunk when it happened. Police in the western city of Bochum said on Tuesday doctors found a .22 caliber bullet in the back of his head after the 35-year-old went to have what he thought was a cyst removed.

Presented with the 5.6mm projectile, the man recalled he had received a blow to the head around midnight at a New Year's party "in 2004 or 2005," but had forgotten about it because he had been "very drunk," a police spokesman said.

"He told us he remembered having a sore head, but that he wasn't really one for going to the doctor," the spokesman said.

Hard head?
Thick skull?
Under the protection of Bacchus?
All of the above?

So, you think you've been in a traffic jam?

Just in case you've ever been stuck in what you consider the traffic-jam-from-hell...you know, the Garden State (NJ) Parkway on a hot, sunny Saturday of a Holiday weekend where things are blistering and you could actually fry an egg on your forehead and you creep along at one car length an hour because some idiot at the tool plaza DIDN'T have exact change. You might want to reconsider and count your blessings since you're not in this mess:

China's massive traffic jam could last for weeks

BEIJING – A massive traffic jam in north China that stretches for dozens of miles and hit its 10-day mark on Tuesday stems from road construction in Beijing that won't be finished until the middle of next month, an official said.
[emphasis added]

I love the comments about the villagers along the way doing what good entrepreneurs everywhere would be doing. Supplying a need (food and water) at inflated prices to a captive customer base. LOL Grassroots capitalism at work.

August 24, 2010: Noon Report

I've been staying in the trailer at Ives Run and driving over to the Aerie daily. The weather has yet to permit the cutting of grass but that may change this afternoon. We've not had rain since early last night and I'm just waiting for some of the moisture to evaporate from the grass/weed blades before attempting to put the mower to it.


Speaking of waiting...A man from Sears will be here shortly to take a look at the fridge. It's trying--futile, I must add--to kick on. Every few minutes you can hear the compressor attempt to cool the fridge portion but failing to make it over the last hump. The temperature in the freezer compartment is at 38 degrees (what the fridge should be) while the fridge is at room temp.

[UPDATE: The Sears man came at 1:30 PM. Diagnosed the problem as a bad motherboard. (Refrigerators have brains?!) He then had to call tech central to have them go through some test with him, the results of which showed that the fridge needed a new motherboard! Well, gooollly! No kidding! The field man explained that a lot of the newer guys on the job tended to put in a new motherboard first without diagnosing the problem. Mother boards are expensive. Ergo, Sears instituted a procedure whereby the field man had to get "permission" from the desk techie before a new motherboard could be installed. Luckily, the field man had a motherboard on his truck so the fridge is humming along producing colder and colder temperatures deep in the cavernous confines of the freezer.

BTW The field guy says that he--with some 10 years experience--sometimes resents the desk guy telling him that he can't insert the motherboard since he must follow orders and do what the desk guy says. Even when it is the wrong repair. Bureaucracy exists even in the appliance repair field.]


Terry had to rush out to get her hair cut this morning. Don't know why she didn't take me up on the offer to do the job. Could have saved her some bucks and would have been done in no time with the hair clippers I employ. Just ZIP! ZIP! ZIP! and I'd be through. But, I have to say the beautician did a nicer job than I could have done.


Speaking of getting clipped...The cats' claws were needle sharp and scimitar length after going 75 days without a clipping. When they reached up to touch you you really knew it. Therefore, today we rounded them up one by one and clipped their 18 toenails (each--that's 54 all together). And I only got scratched and bit once--by Julie, the smallest and oldest of the lot. I had to put a choke hold on her to pacify her and let Terry do the clipping. But we got 'em done!


Renewed the registration on the Aveo, trailer and Tundra on line with PennDOT yesterday. Also renewed my driver's license the same way. You get to print out temporary documents good for two weeks from the date of the transaction and they promise to get you the real thing within 10 days. I'll still have to go get my picture taken for the driver's license once that arrives but that's not a real big deal.


Arranged to get the trailer inspected this Friday when I have to move it from the site in which it is parked to another site a few slots down anyway. Might as well take advantage of having the dang thing hooked up for the move.


Now I've got to schedule a tune up for the Tundra. It's done yeoman's duty to this point and needs some TLC after the 12K miles it's put on since June 9th.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Road Trip 2010: Days 74-76: HOME!

No, I didn’t fall off the face of the earth. Although, it’s mighty tempting to jump right about now—as you’ll see if you read all that is below.

Day 74: Terre Haute, IN to Seville, OH
We made our way still further eastward on I-70 across the balance of Indiana and into Ohio. We passed Dayton and skirted Columbus, Ohio before heading northeast on I-71. At the junction of I-71 and I-76 we took the turn on to I-76 for a few miles before looking for the Maple Lake Recreation Park. We had called ahead and found they had a back=in available but when we got there the person who had been there the previous night was still there and we were preparing to head on down the road when the owners, no doubt fearing the loss of a night’s rental, realized that a semi-permanent guest would not be back until Saturday night and that their drive through was available. Needless to say that suited us fine as we were going to be on the road quite early anyway.

We found our slot, pulled in and set up. Then we hit the pool for an hour before dinner.

Day 75: Seville, OH to Ive’s Run/Hammond Lake, PA—aka HOME

We left Seville, bright and early and headed northeast on I-76 and then onto I-80 east near Youngstown, Ohio. After that, it was “just” across PA and then north on Route 15—call it another 200 or so miles.
Only about 200 miles to go!

A couple days previously I had made reservations on line for the Corps of Engineers campground at Ive’s Run. I thought I had made them for Saturday night through next Thursday for one site and then from Thursday night through September 2nd for a second site. Even had the confirmation email to prove it—I thought. This would have been ideal as some foul weather from out by Lake Michigan was headed our way and we would beat it to the campground and get set up before its arrival around midnight Saturday. Somehow I had screwed up and our reservations. They were to start on SUNDAY not SATURDAY. We were a day early and everything was booked. They did have some overflow camping with no hook-ups available however. So I put some water in the freshwater holding tank and pulled into the dry camp for the night. The good news is that I finally learned how to use the refrigerator on its gas setting.

We then went home to the Aerie to see how things stood. The rain gauge said we had had between six and seven inches of rain since we left. The lawn was a mess, of course. Three large branches on the red but near the rain gauge were broken off. (Wind or critter?) The pumpkins hadn’t set many (read any) fruit but they did have some very nice vines. The winter squash had also grown lots of vines but they had also set a bundle fruit. Problem was that something (squirrels or raccoon? No visible foot prints could be seen) had eaten half of each of them so we will be lucky to get three or four. The onions looked as good as when we left except for a few that had sent up some flower heads. The contractor who said he would do the stone work and staining while we were gone had not gotten around to it yet. (I had spoken to him a few days ago and he says he got hung up on some other projects. Example: He was called in to rewire a room and ended up doing the whole house. Then there were several calls from folks who had leaky roofs. Those have to be fixed ASAP and take precedence over a job that could be considered cosmetic versus emergency care. All very understandable, but still frustrating to me.) He did have all the materials delivered and they sit in the garage and basement. The stone in the garage completely blocks my use of the ATV for awhile.

Then there was the Aerie’s refrigerator. When we left, we took what little we had in the way of frozen vegetables and meats and packed them into the fridge’s freezer compartment so we could clean out the chest freezer. Some time while we were gone the fridge went cablooey. The freezer compartment temperature rose to 38 degrees and everything defrosted. The Fridge compartment was at room temperature which ruined everything in there.

The phone had a full compliment of messages (18), nine of which came from the bank holding the loan on the Jeep telling us to call about changes to our loan status (probably due to the uncashed check from June’s payment). We’ll get some of that straightened out once we get to see our mail on Monday morning.

I went back to the trailer at the campground feeling a little sick to my stomach having seen all the work that lay ahead and repairs that need to be arranged for. It started to pour around 11:30 PM and continued all night. When I got out of bed at 7 AM, the campgrounds I was in (grass, naturally) was a marsh and it was still raining.

Day 76: Ive’s Run

Terry showed up with the Jeep at around 11 AM. We hustled to carry some stuff up to the Aerie, head down to Beiter’s Home Furnishing to see about getting someone out to service our GE refrigerator (they didn’t sell it to us, but we have bought a bunch of stuff there and they should honor our relationship), pick up the cats at Adams house (Julie and Chester were easy to get into their carry cases, Shadow not so much—but they all survived as did Dodge, Adam’s yellow lab), eat lunch, move the trailer into the reserved campsite (it stopped raining around 1 PM and remained dry skied while we were moving things about), fight with the slideout (finally used jumper cables to run the motor directly off the battery—hope it slides in using conventional means!), load the Jeep with most of Terry’s clothes, eat dinner and, now, take a deep breath. Terry is back at the Aerie. I’m in the campgrounds for the night.
The Road Trip 2010 is officially over. All that remains is the repair of the slideout and the clean-up and winterizing of the trailer.

Monday I’ll pick up all our mail as soon as the post office opens at 8 AM. Then we’ll see about getting things straightened out vis-à-vis: finding out what’s up with the Jeep loan (I’ve a feeling either the stick on label or stamp came off and it was returned to sender); getting the refrigerator fixed (Beiter’s should call early—I hope); cutting the lawn and weeding—if the rain holds off some; arranging for both the truck and trailer to get registered and inspected (the truck also need some service after logging 12K miles with just one oil change since June 9th); seeing if I can get my driver’s license renewed; look into getting my hunting licenses for PA and NY; and a ton of other things.

Well, Beiter's can't come until Friday, but Sears will be here this afternoon. It's still raining. THREE checks mailed out the day we left were never cashed. All were sent from a post office in Tioga Junction. That will be three stop payments and three new checks to write. (Everything handled on line went swimmingly but these three can not be done that way.) And the IRS has been dealt with. (Had to explain that even though my pension comes from the state, I was not a state employee. Never had this problem the last three years.)

Now, If you'll excuse me I've got to run to the bank to stop payment on three three month-old checks and then to the bank to mail out three new checks.

Wish I was back on the road again!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Road Trip 2010: Day 73: Columbia, MO to Terre Haute, IN

A "short day" of just around 300 miles today. We left Cottonwoods RV Park in Columbia, MO at around 7 AM Central Time and made our way east across the balance of Missouri, the Mississippi River, all of Illinois and into Indiana and the Eastern Time Zone stopping at the Terre Haute by 2:30 (EDT) in the afternoon.

The blankety-blank slide out would not work when I attempted to extent the room. It took me two hours of taking the "brain" apart, putting it back together, taking the motor off the drive shaft, cutting the motors wires, checking it on the 12-volt (it worked!), reattaching the wires (it didn't work!), reattaching the motor to the chassis, and trying the bloody thing one last time (it WORKED!). The room is currently extended. Whether it retracts in the morning is another thing, although it did retract this evening when I tested it.

I guess there's a lesson to be learned here: Anything can be repaired using a combination of the right swear words and hammers. Sometimes, however, a great deal of both are needed to achieve the proper combination. This afternoon, while dripping sweat from forgotten pores, I nearly used my entire lexicon and tool chest. (There are a few I held in reserve for those truly final moments. And the 5-pound sledge was left at home.)

Then it was time for Terry and I to share a soak in the pool followed by a steak dinner and a bottle of wine.


Gas prices:

The price of regular in Missouri was as low as $2.35 a gallon. In Illinois it jumped to $2.75 per. When I asked a Conoco inspector who happened to be at the pumps if this was due to the taxes, she confirmed that Illinois had 24-cents more tax per gallon than Missouri.

Indiana price is back down to $2.50 a gallon. Not great but not bad either.

August 19, 1972

Thirty-eight years ago today, Terry and I said our "I Dos", stepped out of the church as man and wife, and into a brand new world.

We've been blessed with two great kids, decent health and financial well being. It's been a blast.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Road Trip 2010: Day 71: Russell, KS to Columbia, MO

Wow! What a long, long day of driving. We left Russell in the fog at 7 AM heading east on I-70. With no plans to stop except for gas and grub, we had about 400 miles under our wheels when we pulled into the beautiful Cottonwoods RV Park adjacent to the Boone County Fairgrounds.

The day started out foggy and a cool 60 degrees but, as we moved east, it cleared and the sun heated things up. With the air temperature hitting the upper 80s, the pool was too inviting to ignore. Terry and I spent an hour soaking and sun bathing before we returned to the trailer for dinner.


The slide out is giving us grief again. It will extend and retract in a herky-jerky fashion moving only 6 to 10 inches at a time. And it requires several pushes of the button to get it to even move each time. I've tried unplugging the "brains" as Nick suggested back in Loveland, CO, but it doesn't seem to have done any good. I may have to see about getting some "brain" surgery done when we get back to PA.


We've done a little replanning of the next few days.

Thursday (Day 72) will be a relatively "short" day which will see us end in Terre Haute, Indiana. We'll lose another hour crossing the state line, however. That will put us back into the Eastern Time Zone.

We will also be celebrating our 38th wedding anniversary. Nothing special is planned.

Then, on Friday (Day 73), we'll traverse the balance of Indiana, all of Illinois and some of Ohio. Another longish day of close to 400 miles.

Finally, Saturday (Day 74) will see us make the final leg of our journey to Ive's Run on Hammond Lake just a short hop from our PA home. I just made reservations for a week and a half at Ive's Run. That will give us time to clean out the trailer and, perhaps, get it inspected before I take it to get the slide out repaired and then back up to the Bolt Hole.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Road Trip 2010: Day 70: Colorado Springs to Russell, Kansas

We left Colorado Sp[rings early (7 AM) on Tuesday morning and headed east first on Route 24 to Limon and then on I-70. Near the Colorado border at Burlington, we stopped to tour Old Town. It's a collection of buildings--stores, workshops, and homes--from the 1880s through the 1920s. They are carefully maintained and stocked with appropriate furniture and tools of the day. They also have a huge collection of horse drawn buggies and wagons; antique tractors; and motor vehicles. We spent two hours roaming around and could have spent more time here. Very much worth the stop. I took lots of pictures but won't be able to edit and post them at this time.

After eating our lunch in Old Town's parking lot, we resumed our trip east on I-70 crossing into Kansas and then into the Central Time Zone. We succeeded in making our way to Russell, Kansas, childhood home to a young Bob Dole and Arlen Specter.

Tomorrow we have no stops planned as we head to Columbia, Missouri some 375 miles east of Russell.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Road Trip 2010: Day 69: A Day of Rest!

After returning to our campground and taking a dip in the pool and hot tub, we had dinner at Patti's apartment Sunday evening. It's a cute little place off Rockrimmon in Colorado Springs.

She's some interesting neighbors for being in town as she is.

Momma Muley

She looks a bit haggard.

She may be skin and bones (you can see her ribs) but, man!, what a set of ears she has!

Three youngsters.

Two of these are hers. The third belongs to another doe who seemed willing to let her's hang out with the twins. That other doe looked much fatter. Perhaps Momma is also feeding the third fawn as well as her own!

Joyce, Jerry, Annette (a member of Jerry's ballooning team) and the two of us had a mice simple meal of hamburgers and hot dogs. Conversation was light, however, as we had to keep poking one another to stay awake.


Monday was declared a day of rest! Joyce had the day off but was cleaning. Terry and I would do the same. Annette would head home (Aurora) after spending the night with Patti. Patti would do what ever Patti wanted...per usual. Terry also stitched away the afternoon while I edited pictures and made some posts.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) Terry and I will head east, first following Route 24 to Limon and then hopping on I-70. We've one stop planned near the Colorado-Kansas line. We've been told Old Town is pretty neat and we should get there just about the time we need to take a break anyway.

Where we will stop for the day is anyone's guess. Much depends upon how long we stay at Old Town and the loss of an hour as we pass into Kansas. Either Oakley, KS (long stay) or Wakeensey, KS (shorter stay) will be the choices. (I had a plan but stopping at Old Town will make it moot.)

In any event. Once into Kansas, we'll be heading home with stops only to sleep.

Road Trip 2010: Day 68: Hot Air Ballooning

(Sorry if this loads slowly I had lots of pictures to share and couldn't think of how to break them up.)

The alarm went off at 5 AM on Sunday morning and we headed out to meet the crew for some hot air ballooning over the mountains in South Park. When we opened the trailer door, we noticed two things: 1) there was a breeze and 2) it was raining. Neither was a good sign. But, like Alaska, if you don't like the weather you can either wait five minutes or drove five miles; it WILL be different.

Sure, enough, when we met everyone at the Safeway on Colorado Blvd., the rain was a memory and the air was still. There would be a much larger crowd this day than in the past. Previously, when we had gone out with Jerry and Joyce (co-owners/pilots of the balloon) it had been one balloon and one crew of, perhaps six or seven of us. Today we had three balloons and closer to 25 people.

Before we could launch, however, we had to get to South Park. easy enough to do. You get on Highway 24 and head west over Ute Pass and then Wilkerson Pass. It was interesting to see all the development that has occurred between those two passes. Woodland has really grown. Not as much as the area from Colorado Springs to Castle Rock on I-25, but it has grown nonetheless. It's close to 50 miles from Colorado Springs to South Park and when we arrived there were already two balloons in the air and two more preparing to launch. All had lifted from a site a little further west of where we were going to play. Jerry believes that three of them may have been commercial outfits--two from the Springs area and one from Breckenridge to the north. The fourth may have been there to help one of the commercial guys out with some extra passengers. It didn't matter, they were far enough away that they would not bother us.

We had three pilots and crews: Itchie on the west had the smallest crew and would need help to launch. Jerry in the center had himself and five experienced and semi -experienced (Terry and me) crew members. Bob had a large crew but it included four novices of about 14 years of age.

Bob's crew gets ready.

Itchie's crew gets things ready.

Itchie's team (L) and Jerry's Team: Tempus Fugit

Two of the earlier arrivals are aloft.

Bob and Jerry's balloons get some air.

Itchie is shorthanded.

After the balloon is laid out and the lines attached to the basket's superstructure, one person grabs the top line while others inflate the balloon with forced air from a large fan. Another person will walk the edges of the balloon stretching it out and looking for any tears or flaws. One of Itchie's crew held Jerry's top line and our ground crew would later help him (Itchie) get aloft.

Terry runs the fan while Debbie and Patti hold the mouth open.

Once enough air is forced into the envelope to permit it, propane flame is added to the mix. This is where the hot air comes in. The pilot must be careful, however, that the flame does not touch or come near the balloon cloth.

Bob's balloon get some hot air.

Once the hot air is added to the mix, the balloon begins to lift off the ground and stand upright. Time to add some weight to the sides of the basket or, like the Wizard of Oz, the pilot could find himself launched without passengers!

Jerry gives 'er the gas!

Passengers on board, the ground crew can release their weight from the basket and we have lift off!

Bob takes off with the two young girls as passengers.

Bob goes up, up, and away!

Not long after Bob's launch, Terry and I were in the basket with Jerry and on our way up. Our ground crew, now free from duty (for awhile) went to help Itchie get his balloon up.

Terry, Jerry and I were on our way UP! Sorta.

There comes a time to remember that space is three dimensional (ask Kahn about that). Jerry had to watch out for Bob who was somewhere up above us.

Thinking in 3-D is a must.

Meanwhile, down on the ground, Itchie's balloon begins to fill.

Bob continued upward with his young charges and Jerry opted to hug the ground and scoot underneath him.

Bob took the high road.

Itchie's balloon is getting there.

Bob heads down to switch passengers.

Itchie's balloon is up.

Bob hits the deck to switch passengers.

We just continued to contour (fly really, really close to the ground). Except for when we had to jump over a house in the middle of our flight, most of our time was spent within 5 feet of the ground. We could have looked a rattlesnake in the eye or plucked a bouquet of Indian Paint Brush. It's not as easy as it sounds to keep the balloon that close to the ground without hitting. Jerry did a great job. (Not a perfect one, however, we did a couple of bump-and-swings!)

Bob gets new passengers. Itchie gets some altitude.

Itchie's flight didn't last long. The wind when he took off, carried him in a big semicircle. First he went north, then west and finally south toward the buffalo fence. (Yeah, there's a small herd on the other side and it's best not to piss them off.) Discretion being the better part of valor, he set down only a short distance from where he launched.

Bob had a short flight with his second pair of passengers as the wind began to increase and swirl. They had a bit of a bumpy landing after only a few minutes flight.

Jerry, hugging the ground could also feel the wind pick up as it carried us toward Wilkerson Pass to the east. He opted to set down a short distance from a ranch road that formed a T with Highway 24. As we touched, bounced and bounced again before leaning over, we had some curious critters come look us over.

The curious gather.

The chase vehicle and ground crew arrive.

Patti jumped out to grab the top line and straighten out the balloon as Jerry spilled air from the envelope. The horses didn't help at all.

Once things were down and the balloon gathered in Patty tried to get up close and personal with the horses. But they spurned her and headed right to Terry. They spotted a soft touch! A few rubs on the forehead and they went to check out the chase vehicle.

Hey guys! It's a Bronco!

Nope. No food in here either.

With all the balloons gathered, it's time to head back to Ground 0 for the telling of the tales and an important rite of passage for the novices flying with Bob's team.

Bob gave them a brief, semi-accurate history of ballooning.

The no-longer novices stand for initiation into the balloonists' world order.

Then they were told to kneel and place their cup of sparkling cider on the ground before them. It was explained that they must drink their cider without using their hands. (For those over 21, this is usually champagne.)

The history of ballooning having been explained,
they are told of one final rite of passage.

As the dutifully bend forward to make the attempt, they are baptized into the world of ballooning.

They are baptized into the balloonists' club.

Then it is party time!

It's picnic time in South Park

Road Trip 2010: Day 67: Saturday in Colorado Springs (Part 3)

We had dinner at Joyce's house along the Front Range between the Air Force Academy and Monument.

We were not the only guests, two other couples along with Jerry (former husband) and Patti (his sister) were to be on hand. But we were outnumbered by the hummingbirds.

Joyce said that most of the adults that were feeding at her place during the summer have already headed south. What she has now are some of the young of the year and migrants from further north. Most of the hummers are Broad-tails (they look exactly like the Ruby-throated Hummers we have back east) but there were a few Calliopes mixed in. The only way to tell them apart is by the length of the tail: the Calliopes have short tails and their wings, when folded are just a hair longer than their tail. We did see a few but I got no pictures.

Joyce also said that the few Rufus hummingbirds she gets are migrants on their way south. They migrate north along the western side of the Rockies and south along the Front Range. We didn't see any of those on Saturday evening.

The foxes also didn't come in for their dinner but that may have been because of the large number of dinner guests (human) in attendance and the fact that they had gotten fed that morning when they ate like little pigs.

We had an enjoyable evening talking with everyone there.

Then we set up a date for hot air ballooning on Sunday morning at 5:45 AM at Safeway on Colorado Blvd.

With that early start looming ahead, we got back to our trailer and hit the sack.

Road Trip 2010: Day 67: Saturday in Colorado Springs (Part 2)

After spending a few hours at the zoo, we took a spin through the Garden of the Gods. Traffic was high, parking was scarce but we did manage to drive around the loop roads once or twice and even found a couple of parking spots that were available.

If I lived here, I would spend a lot of time walking the trails of the Garden. Sun, clouds, seasons make this a place that changes minute-by-minute.

And if you get tired of looking at the rocks nearby, you can look over at Pikes Peak.

Having driven about the Garden of the Gods twice, we then headed east of I-25 and cruised the streets of the old city of Colorado Springs. Most of the stuff on the west side of I-25 is pretty new and is geared toward the tourist trade. The stuff on the east side is where the real residents live. Colorado College, several magnificent churches, the Pioneer Museum, the Numismatic Museum of Money and many more attractions await the person who spends time east of I-25, but we were just cruising and made no stops along our way for we had a date for dinner.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Road Trip 2010: Day 67: Saturday in Colorado Springs (Part 1)

First the good news: We slept in! All the way to 7 AM! Then we ate breakfast at the KOA Campground's Wagon Wheel Cafe. All you can eat blueberry pancakes which translated into two pancakes the size of a dinner plate and half inch thick...each. (Terry got the biscuits and gravy: two biscuits split and pan seared in butter and then smothered in sausage gravy.)

We decided we needed to do some walking after that breakfast so headed off to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in southeast Colorado Springs. What a great place! The entire zoo is built into the side of the mountain making it a tiered gardens. It was sunny and warm so many of the animals were a little on the lethargic side but the giraffes--one of the largest collections of such animals in any zoo--were up to a little entertainment...for the price of a snack cracker...or ten.

Giraffes at the Zoo

A boardwalk around the enclosure gets you up close and personal...and at an eye level...to the giraffes. Makes slipping them a cracker...or twenty...nice and easy.

Giraffe at the Zoo

We took the tram ride to the top of the zoo and got a real birds-eye view of the place as well as the Colorado plains east of I-25. Heck, we might have been able to see Kansas if anything stuck up far enough.

Looking east from the top of the tramway.
There's a reason this is called "The Front Range."

There's a monument to Will Rodgers up on the side of the Cheyenne Mountain, too. Privately constructed by a man who thought highly of Mr. Rogers who was born in Oklahoma and died in a plane crash in the Arctic. Why here? Who knows.

Monument to Will Rogers.

It was pretty easy to get up close and personal with many of the animals. They were either directly below you on the slope or just above you. Some shared the tier with you.

Crowned Crane




Fat little western chipmunks roamed the zoo looking for gullible (or sloppy) kids upon which to prey. They also could be seen in many of the larger animal enclosures. But I do not think there were any in with the Okapi because the okapi, while not carnivores, shared their pen with some guys who were:
Ground Hornbill



Grizzly Bear (or, perhaps, a Brown?)



While most of the animals (excluding the birds and the chipmunks) were content to lay back and take it easy, the hippos seemed to have the best idea for how to spend a sunny, warm afternoon.


We left the zoo to roam around town a bit before going to dinner at Joyce's house.