On the Road Again . . .

Gaffney, SC

After a six week stay in our former hometown of York, PA, we are now back on the road again (cue the music!).  Before we left we did spend a nice Saturday afternoon with most of John’s relatives.  His nephew, Jamie, lives with his wife, Joanne, and two boys in Phoenixville, a suburb of Philadelphia.  Jamie’s parents (John’s older sister Patty and her husband, Bob) who live in Erie, PA were staying with them while on their way down to Florida.  John’ younger sister, Rachel, lives with her husband Bobby nearby and was able to join us along with their two grown daughters, Courtney and Kelsey (and her boyfriend Chris).  Our daughter Jessica and fiancee Dan rode there with us making the family group almost complete.

We spent a nice afternoon catching up with everyone.  The photo schedule apparently did not include all attendees so we apologize to those who didn’t get in a picture.  But below is a sampling of the attendees.

John with sisters Patty and Rachel (he’s the tall one in the middle)

Pam, John, Jessica, and Dan (he’s the tall one on the end)

John, Jessica, Pam, and our son Kevin (he’s the missing one on the end)

Bobby, Rachel, Courtney, Kelsey, and Chris

Sunday morning we pulled out of York and headed south toward Gaffney, SC.  We had an appointment on Wednesday at the Freightliner service center there to have the yearly service on our motorhome completed.  The chassis of most motorhomes is built there and they have the best service in the country.

The trip from York to Gaffney can be completed in two day, but we decided to split it into three just to avoid any long drive days.  The first day we drove about 165 miles to New Market, VA where we set up for the night at the Endless Caverns Campground.

This is a nice campground set on tiers at the base of the mountains.  But while enjoying a football game soon after our arrival, we discovered a definite negative to the facilities, stink bugs!

One of our many “visitors”

Now if you have ever spent any time on the east coast during the past few year you probably have experienced these annoying pests.  We were overrun with them while visiting York two years ago. During our stay this year they were present, but in much smaller numbers.  Before leaving York we checked all their favorite hiding places (they love to crawl inside the slide gaskets) and used the vacuum to suck up as many as possible.  So when we first spotted a few during set up in Endless Caverns we just figured they rode into town with us.  But when we looked out the window later in the afternoon, the side of the motorhome was covered with a large number of them.  In talking with others in the park, we found that the campground was teeming with them.  So for the next few weeks we’ll have that vacuum cleaner running each time we pull in the slides!

The next night we stopped at Ft. Chiswell RV Park where I-81 crosses I-77.  No stink bug infestation here but we did kill a few more during our stay.  The next day we completed the journey to Gaffney and found the last available spot in their lot (with electric).  Wednesday morning our tech arrived a few minutes after 8:00 AM to take the motorhome into the garage, so off we went for breakfast and some shopping.

With our service complete we are now headed to Atlanta to visit with our son, Kevin, for a week or so.  More on that later . . .

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Visiting Clayton, NY

York, PA

Each year while on the east coast we head north for a visit with Pam’s mother, Fran, who  lives in Clayton, NY along the beautiful St. Lawrence River.  During our current extended stay in our former home town we left the motorhome in a park near York and drove the Jeep up to Clayton for a visit.  We always have a few chores to complete for Fran (painting, car waxing, etc.) but do manage to spend some time “down by the river.”

Looking back at the town dock

The St. Lawrence Seaway runs right in front of the village, so large freighters pass by frequently.

John and Fran enjoy lunch along the river

While in Clayton we learned that friends from the left coast were travelling through the area.  They were able to alter plans and make a stop here, giving us the chance to enjoy some time with our friend, Tessa.

Oh, and Bill and Jodee of On the Road Abode came along too!

Another photo of Tessa (that’s Bill and Jodee behind her)

While Bill and Jodee were in town, Clayton held their annual car show along Riverside Drive (the main street of the village).  For a small town, it was a pretty nice show.

Bill and John chat behind this white beauty

Muscle Car Row

Perfect colors!

The funny looking car pictured below turned out to have an interesting story.  It is a Centurion X 1/9.   The owner built the car based on plans purchased from an ad he saw in Mechanics Illustrated in 1982.  Back then, for a mere $17.95, you could buy information that outlined how to build the car.  It was not a kit.  The buyer of the plans would search out the parts needed (new or used) and then build the body from scratch using fiberglass over a foam core.

Following the blueprints, including using a small Kubota diesel engine in the aerodynamic body, the finished project was advertised to deliver as much as 128-mpg!

After enjoying the car show we took a drive southwest along the river.  The main road eventually turns south as it heads around Lake Ontario, but if you continue straight at that turn, a narrow road goes out to a point where Lake Ontario turns into the St. Lawrence River, the location of Tibbetts Point Lighthouse.

You can’t go up in the tower as it is still a working lighthouse operated by the Coast Guard. A Fresnel lens, one of only 70 still operational in the US, is still used.

A few days after Bill and Jodee headed for Vermont we walked down to the town dock to enjoy a beautiful fall afternoon along the river.  As we passed Frink’s Park, a small park next to the river, we came upon a fire truck parked along the dock with a large American Flag hanging from the extended ladder.

It turned out that a local organization was honoring troops of the 10th Mountain Division from nearby Fort Drum who had recently returned from Afghanistan.  Troops participating were outfitted with fishing gear and taken out on the river by local volunteers who own fishing boats.

The boats returned the troops to the dock in a parade lead by the local fire company’s fire boat.  On the dock they were met by an honor guard from the NY State Police and one of the police officers sang the National Anthem.

The following weekend the village hosted an annual jazz festival, with groups performing all day at various locations along the river.  We sat at Frink’s Park and enjoyed some great music.

Kimberly Hawkey, a jazz vocalist, performed with members of two groups, Brighton Beat and Fritzel’s, backing her up with instrumentals.

During the performance a freighter heading up river provided a nice, mobile background.

After a ten day stay in Clayton we returned to the motorhome in York where we’ll be staying until the middle of October.  Then, we point the motorhome to the south and head for South Carolina.

More on that later . . .

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Quiet Days in York, PA

York, PA

It has been a while since we last posted as we’ve spent much of our time with mundane tasks like medical appointments and getting the Jeep serviced.  Oh, and we have also spent time with daughter Jessica and her now fiancee, Dan.  Yes, during our visit Dan finally popped the question!  Looks like we’ll be having a wedding soon.

John, Dan, and Jessica enjoying dinner

We have taken time for a few “fun” activities during our stay here.  One sunny Sunday afternoon we attended a great food truck festival at a park in downtown York.  The food trucks parked along the curb on the streets surrounding the one block park.

After making a purchase (a difficult choice) we spread out a blanket and enjoyed our food sitting on the grass in the shade of a large tree.

John, Jessica, and Dan’s parents, Janice and Paul

We needed to work off some of the calories gained at the food truck event so the next day we did a six mile hike around nearby Lake Redman.

It’s a school day, why is this young hiker on the trail?

To get to the trail we parked in a lot just below the dam, then walked across the top of the dam on a maintenance road.

The main obstacle we encountered on this trail is a tunnel that goes under I-83.

The light at the end of a tunnel, literally

As the trail goes around the lake, we had many great views of the water below us.

Lunch with a view

While here in York we had to do some maintenance on our new Winegard satellite dish.  Since it was installed we have had trouble receiving some stations, especially late in the day.  Channels like ESPN, CNN, and TNT would come in at times, then would not come in other times in the same day.  John contacted Winegard and, as per their request, sent them photos of the dish in various positions.  They diagnosed a bent feed arm and sent a replacement under warranty.

The replacement feed arm

After the new feed arm arrived, John headed up on the roof to install it.

He first had to remove the reflector (the part that resembles a “dish”).

Then he carefully removed the LNB (the plastic oval at the end of the feed arm) before removing the damaged feed arm.

Once the replacement feed arm was installed and the reflector was back in place, the dish worked as advertised.  We stored the dish (it automatically folds down for travel) and re-deployed it to be sure it could find the three satellites it needs to see.  Now all signal measurements are strong and we are receiving all channels.

Leaving the motorhome in York, we recently drove the Jeep north almost 400 mile to Clayton, NY right along the beautiful St. Lawrence River for a visit to Pam’s mother.

More on that later . . .

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Through West Virginia to Pennsylvania

York, PA

After visiting friends in Oxford, OH, we took four days to drive to our former hometown of York, PA.  It doesn’t take that long to do the drive but we had time to kill before our reservation date in York.  The first stop was in Cambridge, OH where we stayed at a nice park (Spring Valley Campground) just off the interstate for two nights.  There was not much to do in Cambridge but we always enjoy visiting small towns in our travels.

After that we drove just a bit over a hundred miles to Morgantown, WV where we stayed two nights in Mylan Park.  Mylan Park is a community park just a few miles west of Morgantown.  It has a number of recreation fields and indoor facilities used by the local community.  One of the large parking areas has some full hook-up RV spots that are used mainly by people attending football games at nearby West Virginia University.  So it’s not a good place for an extended stay but works well for a night or two.

Looking down at the RV area from a nearby hillside

West Virginia is the brunt of many jokes about the local population being a bit “backward” at times, a stereotypes that may or may not be deserved.  But it wasn’t long before we had an experience that just reinforced that picture.  After setting up the motorhome we drove to a nearby coffee shop (one of those chain stores based in Seattle) for a little refreshment.  As we got out of the Jeep we heard a strange sound emanating from an Audi parked next to us.  We peered in the open window and found that we were looking at a goat sitting in the driver seat!

They let anyone drive a car in WV!

We were looking to stretch our legs a bit after the drive from Ohio so when a stop at a visitor center revealed that a park with a scenic overlook was nearby, we headed there for a visit.  Dorsey’s Knob is a 70 acre park just south of the downtown area.  Its main feature is Sky Rock, which stands about 600 feet above the town.

Grassy area leading up to Sky Rock

The sign at the base of the trail was pretty intimidating, but we didn’t see anything resembling the mountains of southern Utah so we figured we would be able to make the climb.

Heading up the strenuous section of the short trail

A WVU cheerleader was posing on Sky Rock

The view from Sky Rock was nice, but tree blocked the best angles to the city.

The next day we parked along the Monongahela River to explore a nicely paved bike trail that runs through Morgantown along the water.  The trail was very nice but not much of the river bank has been developed so there wasn’t much to see.  We did pass a couple of small restaurants and a very nice outdoor pavilion right on the water.

After enjoying the bike trail we put the bikes back in the Jeep and drove about 25 miles east of town to visit Coopers Rock State Forest.

The tree-lined road leading in to the forest

Coopers Rock State Forest gets its name from a legend about a fugitive who hid from the law near what is now the overlook. A cooper by trade, he resumed making barrels at his new mountain hideout, selling them to people in nearby communities. He lived and worked in the forest for many years.  During the Depression the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built numerous structures in the forest, including a scenic overlook with a nice view of the surrounding area with the Cheat River winding its way below.

Walkway to the overlook

The large rock outcropping fenced in by the CCC had many old graffiti carvings dating back many years.  One dated 1897 caught our eye.

After enjoying the viewpoint we hiked a short trail that winds down under the viewpoint.

Returning to the Jeep we drove about five miles to another section of the park where a trail leads down to the remains of an old iron furnace.

The furnace was built between 1834 and 1836, and is a 30 foot square, 30 feet high stone structure in the shape of a truncated pyramid.  The furnace may have continued to operate until 1868 when all the Cheat River iron works ceased production.  During peak operation years the area around the furnace was stripped of all trees (used to make charcoal for the furnace) and was surrounded by a community of over 200 people.  Today all the structures except the furnace are gone and the forest has reclaimed the area.

After two nights in Morgantown we continued our journey eastward across I-68 through West Virginia and Maryland before turning to the north into Pennsylvania.

We are now settled into a small RV park just a few miles from our daughter’s home in York.  We’ll be staying for about a month and half visiting family and friends and completing yearly medical appointments.  Then it will be time to head south as the weather begins to change.

More on that later . . .

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Coach Upgrades Then a Visit with Friends in Ohio

Oxford, OH

When we first started full-timing in 2010, we attended a Fleetwood (manufacturer of our motorhome) Rally in central Illinois.  While there we met Kevin Mallory, owner of Cruising America RV in Celina, OH.   Later that summer we drove to Celina to have some work completed and were very pleased with the results.  Since then we have returned on a number of occasions to have other work completed.  When our satellite dish died in Utah, we decided to wait until we were traveling east to have a new one installed so we could have it done by Kevin.  Later, when we developed a loud noise in our washer/dryer combination we called Kevin to schedule installation of a new one while we were replacing the satellite dome.

Our appointment day finally arrived and we drove from Indianapolis to Celina, which is just 30 miles from the Indiana state line.  During our last visit three years ago we were one of only two motorhomes in the lot.  But business is good at Cruising America and we were surprised to find a line of motorhomes parked awaiting attention.

Our “site” in the Cruising America lot

The first task for Kevin and John (his trusted assistant) was the replacement of the dead satellite dome.  The dome had worked flawlessly for many years, but a dish in a dome does not have the ability to receive HD channels.  We always considered replacing it but since it worked so well we put off an upgrade.   Since the dome died a natural death, an upgrade was in order.

The original dome satellite dish

The new dish is not under a dome as it has an oval shape, allowing it to “see” three different satellites required for HD reception.  The dome could only see one satellite, limiting it to standard definition reception.  We’ve now moved into the 21st century in TV viewing!

The new Winegard Trav’ler dish

The following morning Kevin and John tackled the next project, replacing the Splendide washer/dryer combination unit with a new, upgraded model.  Since the combination unit has a small drum it doesn’t hold many clothes, requiring more loads than a residential unit.  We use ours almost daily so when it developed a loud knocking sound during high speed spins (and this unit had really high speed spins!) we decided it was time to replace it.

Yes, no more laundromats!

As we planned our route back toward Pennsylvania, we heard from our dog friend, Cody (OK, from his owners David and Karen) that they would be traveling through Ohio and were stopping to visit friends, Herschel and Pam, in the town of Oxford, OH, just 70 miles south of Celina.  We know both couples from our numerous winter stays in Cortez, FL and couldn’t pass up a chance to see them.  But the real reason was to get our doggie fix.  Herschel and Pam have two cool dogs, Casey and Mia, and David and Karen travel with our buddy, Cody.

We have spent a great deal of time with Cody (and David and Karen) both in Florida and hiking in Utah last year.  We had not seen them since that hiking trip so it was really fun to see if Cody remembered us.  And there is no doubt that he did, as he went crazy running around and jumping up on us when he first saw us.

Cody and the “Treat Lady”

Herschel, Pam, Karen, David, Cody, and John

We stayed in a site near David and Karen in Hueston Woods State Park, just north of the town of Oxford.  The park, named for the original owners of the property, surrounds man-made Lake Acton and has 12 miles of trails, a 96 room lodge, and an eighteen hole golf course.  It also has a nature center with a bird sanctuary.


Over the course of our weekend stay we went in to the town of Oxford a number of times to enjoy meals at a couple of the local restaurants and to visit a very nice farmers market on Saturday morning.  During one of those visits we drove around the beautiful campus of Miami University, which is adjacent to the town.  Founded in 1809, Miami University is the 10th oldest public university in the United States and the second oldest university in Ohio.  In its 2016 edition, U.S. News & World Report ranked the university 82nd among national universities, the 34th top public school, and 5th for best undergraduate teaching preparation at national universities.  One of their favorite sayings is “Miami was a university in Ohio while Florida was still part of Spain.”

On Saturday we drove a few miles south of Oxford to visit Herschel and Pam’s beautiful home.  The visit turned into a bit of a dogfest, as we also had to visit with Mia and Casey.

Casey (the Bulldog) and Mia visit the Treat Lady while Cody keeps an eye on things

Bulldogs are even cool when they sit!

Their neighbor’s across the road were having an engagement picnic and we were all invited to attend.  The neighbor (can’t remember his name) is a retired auto mechanic and, for a retirement gift to himself, built a large garage out back of his house, complete with a lift.  One of his prized possessions is a 1964 Chevrolet Impala with a rare 409 engine that his grandfather bought brand new.  When his grandfather died, he took ownership (he wasn’t old enough to drive) and has had it ever since.  Pretty cool!

1964 Chevy Impala

His “American Graffiti” style roadster on the lift

Every cool garage needs a shiny Corvette

We left the picnic early and took Cody with us so David and Karen could stay there a bit longer.  Cody loves to hang out in our motorhome, especially with the “Treat Lady” at work!

Oh boy, a chicken snack!

A little “after snack” rest after a long day!

We said our good-byes to Herschel and Pam on Saturday and to David and Karen (and Cody) on Sunday morning as we pulled out of the campground and headed west on I-70.  We’ll make a couple of overnight stops along the way as we continue our journey back to our hometown of York, PA for an extended stay.

More on that later . . .

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A Stop in Indianapolis

Indianapolis, IN

Our route eastward took us through Indianapolis, a city we enjoy, so we stopped there for a few days to visit.  We’ve stayed at  Lake Haven Retreat, a decent RV park just south of the  I-465 beltway, on previous stops in the area so we reserved four nights there again.

On our first full day here we headed downtown to see some sites we missed during our previous visits.  Our first destination was Monument Circle, a circular, brick-paved street that intersects Meridian and Market streets in the center of the downtown.

Apparently they forgot the “I” so a Colts cheerleader stood in for the photo

At the center of the circle is the Indiana State Soldiers and Sailors Monument, a 284 foot obelisk.  The monument’s original purpose was to honor Hoosiers who were veterans of the Civil War.  However, it is also a tribute to Indiana’s soldiers who served during the Revolutionary War, the Mexican War, and the Spanish–American War.  The monument is the first in the country to be dedicated to the common soldier.

The memorial is ringed with several notable outdoor sculptures and statues.

The basement of the monument contains the Colonel Eli Lilly Civil War Museum,  a museum of Indiana history during the Civil War.  Lilly served with distinction in the Civil War (spending the last years of the war as a POW) and later founded the famous drug company.  He donated a large amount of money to the construction of the monument.

If you look to the west down Market Street,  you see the main entrance to the Indiana State House just two blocks away.

The Indiana State House is the state capitol building of Indiana. It houses the Indiana General Assembly, the office of the Governor of Indiana, the Supreme Court of Indiana, and other state officials.   We stopped in to see Gov. Pence but apparently he was off touring the country.

Looking past the statue of Oliver Moore, governor during the Civil War, toward the Soldiers and Sailors Monument

Looking up at the dome inside the capitol building

Senate Chambers

House Chambers

After touring the capitol we walked back east past the monument to the City Market for lunch.  Built in 1886 the market now is filled with food vendors and has a nice eating area on the balcony surrounding the vendors.

Real Philly pretzels!

The humidity finally passed out of the area and Sunday afternoon had a moderate temperature.  So we took advantage of the great weather for a walk along the Indiana Central Canal, located just a couple of miles west of the Capitol Building.  The Indiana Central Canal was intended to extend for 296 miles and connect the Wabash and Erie Canal to the Ohio River.  But the state ran into financial troubles and only eight miles were built.  Today about two miles of the canal are still in existence and lined with condo buildings and restaurants with a wide sidewalk running along either side.  It’s a great place to spend a beautiful summer afternoon.

Note the gondola on the left

One way to take a large dog for a bike ride (sorry for the focus, he went by quickly)

The nearby JW Marriott Hotel provides great reflections of the passing clouds.

Returning to the RV park we took our chairs down to the pond to enjoy some quiet reading time.

OK, not exactly “lunch with a view” but it’ll have to do

On Monday, our second perfect weather day, we drove to the north side of Indianapolis, parked the Jeep, and rode the beautiful Monon Bike Path north into Carmel.  A former teacher from the History Department where John taught (Susquehannock HS) now lives there and we were meeting her for lunch.

We met Jill at a nice restaurant in downtown Carmel with outdoor seating right along the bike trail.  We had such a nice time reminiscing about our past experiences, we forgot to get a photo!

We now head about 130 miles northeast to Celina, OH for a couple of repairs to the motorhome.  Kevin Mallory of Cruising America RV has done work for us in the past and we really like his work, so if we need something done in the coach (he doesn’t do engine or chassis work) we try to have him do it.

More on our “repairs” in the next post.

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A Few Days in Champaign, IL

Champaign, IL

Sunday morning we left Shady Creek COE Park along the Mississippi River southwest of Davenport, IA and headed east into Illinois.  After about 200 miles we pulled into D & W Lake RV Park just north of Champaign.

This is a nice little park sitting next to a small lake, giving us a nice view outside our front window.

Our Torrey, UT friends, Larry and Annette, are familiar with Champaign (Larry lived here in his “younger” days).   When they saw on Facebook that we were here, they quickly informed us that we should not miss enjoying a lemon custard with cold fudge from Jarlings Ice Cream and Frozen Custard Shop.  They sure were correct, the dish was delicious!

A young maiden enjoys a well-deserved treat

We spent three days in Champaign but it rained hard throughout day one and the temperature was in the 90s with high humidity on day two.  Finally the sun was out and the humidity dropped just a bit on day three so we headed into town to ride bikes around the campus of the University of Illinois.

While in an urban setting, there is a definite campus feeling to the school, with two quad areas in the center of the academic area.

The McFarland Carillon (Bell Tower) on the South Quad

Looking north toward the Illini Union Bldg. on the Main Quad

Foellinger Auditorium at the south end of the Main Quad

Memorial Stadium is home to the Fighting Illini football team.  The stadium, completed in 1924, is a memorial to the students from the school who died in World War I.  Their names are engraved on the nearly 200 pillars surrounding the stadium’s facade.

Memorial Stadium

A beautiful statue located in front of the main entrance honors Red Grange, a legendary figure in college football who played here in the 1920s.

The stadium has been renovated numerous times over the year and has a seating capacity of 60,670 .  An interesting story involves the original construction of the playing field.  Heavy rain during the construction resulted in a bulldozer sinking into the field.  It was decided the expense of removing the bulldozer would have been greater than leaving it buried under the field, and it remains there today.  Is it a myth or reality, who knows!

Across the street from Memorial Stadium is State Farm Center.  State Farm Center opened as an Assembly Hall in 1963.  From 1963–1965 Assembly Hall was the largest dome structure in North America until the opening of the Astrodome in Houston.  The roof is supported by 614 miles of quarter inch steel wire wrapped at the base of the dome under intensive pressure.  The building is undergoing renovation outside so we couldn’t get inside.

State Farm Arena

Returning the the motorhome we enjoyed a beautiful view over the lake at sunset.

Next up on our journey is a short visit to Indianapolis.  More on that later . . .

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