Saturday, September 23, 2017

Meanwhile back at the ranch

Pulled into the driveway of Martin Manor around 2:00 this afternoon.  Notice I said pulled into instead of backed into.  With this rig I can drive in and turn around in the back to put the camper on it's pad, much nicer than trying to back down the drive.

This has been another great trip but it's always good to get back home for awhile.  After finding the GFI outlet problem our camper has worked like intended and a much nicer experience as we learn how to manage the difference from the bigger 5th wheel trailers.  I continue to be impressed with our new truck, The Beast, and how it handles this load seemingly with ease.  3571.6 miles total for this trip with a 9.94 mpg trip average fuel economy.  So far the truck has a 10.3 mpg average since we bought it last May.  That is almost the exact same avg mpg we were experiencing with all our 5th wheel towing.

This truck has a 38 gal fuel tank and with that mileage I have been forced to buy fuel in Illinois.  Since back in my working days when I knew that in Illinois the State fuel tax went direct to the general State monies and then divided up by politicians I have avoided buying fuel in the state.  In Missouri all fuel tax, most of license fees, and some of the auto sales tax go directly to MoDOT for their use on our roadway system.  Unfortunately since Missouri has such a low fuel tax and voters will not pass any tax increase MoDOT is greatly in need of some form of new revenue.

Our next scheduled trip is for November 1 when we head to Renfro Valley, KY for a Rhonda Vincent bluegrass concert.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Kankakee, Illinois

One step closer to home, tonight we are in Kankakee, IL.  We have stayed in this campground one other time in 2003 on our way north into Michigan basically on the same route only in reverse.  We scooted around the Chi town suburbs a little past noon today.  Tons of traffic and construction zones so very happy to be passed that and now it's more country boy type roads that are familiar.  Tomorrow we will slip around Springfield, IL and then cross the US version of the Mississippi River at Louisiana, MO.  That bridge is quite old but MoDOT has it under contract for replacement soon.

Boy did it get hot today, the weather forecast that I saw called for perhaps a record breaking high.  Temperatures in the 90s not what we've been used to for the past couple of weeks.  Last night in Michigan the AC ran on/off all night, even early this morning before I took that sunrise picture, again not what we've been used to.

Our mirror lake at sunrise

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Our back yard

Here are a couple of pictures of tonight's back yard view with no breeze to disturb the mirror image.

This little lake is totally within the KOA campground

Back in the US of A

Headed south/homeward bound.  Started our trek back to the ol' Martin Manor today.  Tomorrow we make it to northern Illinois and then home on Saturday.  It started out dreary this morning with patchy fog and heavy overcast skies. At least it wasn't raining as predicted.  It has warmed up as we drove southerly into the low 80s.

We crossed the International Bridge over the Saint Mary's River early this morning and forgot that Jo had bought some cuties (small tangerines) a couple of days ago.  Citrus is not allowed to be brought into the US.  The agent gave us a scolding and a paper with crossing regulations before telling us to not do it again, have a nice day.  The Good news is that now with our new camping rig we are only charged the auto rate for tolls.  With the trailers we avoided tolls where possible because they always count axles and charge accordingly.  Then we crossed the Mackinaw Straits bridge again with only the auto rate for the toll.

Tonight we are near Muskegon, MI in another KOA.  Back in 2003 we stopped at this KOA on a trip to the Upper Peninsula without advanced reservations and it was totally full so had to find an alternate campground.  This time the campground is almost totally vacant with only a half dozen campers here.  The office was closed with our reservation marked on a campground map and taped to the front door.

At least I am back to my own AT&T Wi-Fi hot spot for my computer connection and don't have to rely on a campground's iffy offering.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

fall tree color

I've been talking about all the beautiful fall colors in the trees along the way.  There just wasn't a good opportunity to stop and take a bunch of pictures of what we have seen.  Some roads were without shoulders or there was no good place to pull out of traffic and then be in a location of good views.  This morning I went out in our current campground for a few pictures.  It would have been much better if the sun had been out in full lighting but with the overcast skies it is still nice to look at.

This view is just behind our site

 our site

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

French lesson

Just finished a little bit of research and found;  Sault is a French word for river falls and the French pronunciation is "so" but has been modified through time in this area to be pronounced "soo".  That means the name of this area/town is actually Saint Marie's Falls.  Those falls are on the Saint Mary's River that drains Lake Superior, starting at the end of Whitefish Bay and flowing 74.5 miles (119.9 km) southeast into Lake Huron, with a fall of 23 feet (7.0 m).  For its entire length it is an international border, separating Michigan in the United States from Ontario, Canada.

Sault Ste. Marie

Another beautiful day and pleasant drive.  Trans-Canada Highway 17 has been a very good road most of the way from Montreal.  One bad stretch today but that area was under reconstruction which is a good thing.  Still a lot of fall tree colors showing even tho most of the timber is pine and fir.  Today there were a lot of lemon yellows showing up and not quite sure just what type of tree that was.  One good thing about this Route 17 is there are several rest area/picnic spots scattered along which give us good places for necessary breaks and lunches.  The all have picnic tables, pit toilets, and bear proof trash cans.

I have noticed a lot of side roads that intersect the main highway are labeled as (ch-name-road) or (chemin-name-road). I just now googled chemin and found it to be French for "pathway".

Obviously tonight's Wifi is good as was yesterdays so at least I will be able to stay connected unlike a couple of nights ago.  Thursday when we leave this campground we will cross back into the US of A and I will be back on my own hotspot wherever we will have an AT&T signal.  We will also be back to some decent fuel pricing.  I have had to fill up twice with liters at over a Canadian dollar each.  Even with a favorable CA to US conversion that is still near $4.00 American per US gallon.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Sturgeon Falls

Today we moved a bit further quest (or should I say west for you non French speaking folks)  to Sturgeon Falls, ON.  This morning was bright and the scenic views were superb and then just as we were bragging on how beautiful Canada is there was a cloud moved in and it started to rain on our parade.  Our GWF came to our rescue as we arrived at the campground and I was able to get all setup without the rain suit.

As I was checking in the man at the desk told me he was giving us the VIP WiFi connection pass-code.  Early on in our camping travels we paid for an annual KOA value card for discount on fees.  We used them a lot so soon became a VIP member which for the past several years has given us the annual dues free plus we still get the 10% discount.  We also accumulate points for each nights stay and points for online reservations and when those points accumulate up to a certain value we get a $50 value deducted from a campground fee.  We have cashed in several of those $50 values.  This is the first campground that recognized that VIP status and the WiFi connection is good and fast so thank you Sturgeon Falls KOA.

Tomorrow we move on to Sault Sainte Marie

Saturday and Sunday 9/16 & 17

Saturday we moved from Quebec to Ontario.  Finally all signage is in English plus they have additional signs in French.  This morning we had to make it through Montreal but there was major road construction that caused a major backup when our route of three lanes had to merge into one. That took about 30 minutes of creeping along stop and go.  Then our planned route past that point was totally closed for reconstruction.  With all informational signage in French it was a bit upsetting. Fortunately the French word for detour is spelled DETOUR and a route through some city downtown streets was clearly marked but it took much longer to get past Montreal than originally planned. Then we headed on West (Quest).

Later after lunch we passed through Ottawa with no problems at all.  On down the highway a little further along we crossed the Mississippi River, eh?  Seems that the USA doesn't have the only one and probably need to do some research on just what that name stands for.

These two days we are in Renfrew, ON, CA in another KOA.  All campgrounds for this trip are reserved in KOAs for the convenience and for perhaps a WiFi connection.  That has worked out well for all so far up until this one.  This campground is crowded for the weekend and their WiFi is so weak that it is was totally impossible to get a connection let alone make use of it.

Sunday was as the good book expects a day of rest.  In the afternoon we got our chairs out in the shade and enjoyed a nice refreshing breeze and watching a couple of very small squirrels playing around.  These are only about half the size of those that pester JoAnn at home.  They are reddish in color on their backs with a white belly.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Into Canada eh

We crossed into Quebec a little past lunch time today.  The drive back through Maine was simply beautiful as after our four day stay in Bar Harbor the fall tree color has really advanced.  It will be a couple of more weeks until peak color but today's drive was simply gorgeous.  The yellows, reds, and oranges really contrast with the dark green pines behind them.  The routes back through Maine were mostly minor, rural roads with small towns and farms along the way, very scenic.  The first part of Canada was the same until we connected with the major highway leading toward Montreal.

The biggest problem with driving through Quebec is that this Province's official language is French and all signage is in that language.  Normal highway signage is universal so no problem except for the metric conversion, Ms Navi took care of that for me.  The problems come in when in a construction zone instructional signage is only in french and I/We just have to guess at what they are saying.

Tomorrow we cross into Ontario and there the signage will be in both languages.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

fun watching the tides

It has been fun sitting here by the waterline and watching the tides come in and go out.  These pictures were taken from our dinette window.

this is high tide
 and low tide
The high tide seems to be in the evening so that is why that picture is a bit darker.  The low tide picture was taken earlier today.  This morning we also watched a seagull collect something from the shallow waters and then walk up to a rocky part of the low tide beach and drop it.  It then picked it up and jumped up 2 or 3 feet and dropped it again.  It did that several times and I guess whatever it was working on opened up so it could then eat the morsel inside.  We watched that happen 2-3 times this morning.

A new kind of tour van

This afternoon we had an hour tour of this Mount Desert Island area.  It was a beautiful trip with clear views of all below us and a nice narrator giving us the history of the area.  The picture below is that van, Air-Van that is.

 We had a choice of vehicles and could have had this bi-plane in yellow.  The difference would have been that it is an open air cockpit and it would have been a bit windy aloft.
 Or we could have ridden in this helo but felt like the comfort of the enclosed Air-Van was the best option.

Now for the bad news part of this story.  Just before we took off and after I took the above pictures I switched to a fresh battery in my camera.  The memory card is in the same area as the battery so apparently when I inserted the battery the card popped up from it's slot and of the dozens of pictures that I thought I took from this beautiful flight, they just didn't happen.  😦

The good news is that we both really enjoyed this excursion and will have our own memories of the views we were given the opportunity to see from this birds eye view perspective.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Mount Desert Oceanarium

Today's outing was a visit to this one of a kind lobster hatchery.  Our tour included much information on everything there is to know about lobster and then a good bit of info on other sea life.  Our first guided lecture was in the hatchery building and our guide gave us a 30 minute lecture with pictures of the lobster reproduction process.

Once the female is fertilized it is two years before her eggs are ready to hatch.  In the first year she carries the eggs still inside her.  She then takes out each of the 10,000 or more and with some sticky substance attaches them to the underside of her tail where they continue to grow for another year.  Lobster fishermen are not allowed to keep any females which must be returned to the ocean.  This laboratory is allowed to keep what they need for their research.

These two bins are where the females are held until the eggs hatch.
 When they hatch they are about 1/4 inch long, almost transparent, and they float to the surface of the birthing tanks.  They are then skimmed off and placed into one of these vertical tanks with oxygen bubbling up to keep them healthy.  As they grow they must shed their shells about every 3 days which is cleaned out of the tanks.  The tiny dark specks in among the bubbles are baby lobsters.
At stage 4 of their growth they are about 1 inch long and now can swim so they move down to the ocean floor.  If kept in the same vats they would tend to cannibalize their own kind so they are then put individually into one of these compartments until they are ready to be released back into the ocean.  Once released they are subject to many enemies  It is guessed that only about 0.1 of one percent of the original 10,000+ actually survive.
For the delicious lobster meal that we enjoy, it's a good thing there are so many to start with.

 Then we learned a lot of information about other marine creatures such as the sea-cucumber, starfish, sea urchin, sea snails, sand dollar, and hermit crab.
 Then it was a quick visit to their museum where we found this Indian crafted birch bark canoe.
 and this very large lobster.
Not this one but they said that the record lobster found was around 44 pounds.

Our campground has an evening lobster cafe and we went last evening.  It was OK but the lobster rolls were kind of small.  This afternoon for a late lunch we went to a local favorite lobster pound along the highway with only the cooking going on inside the shack and no inside seating for patrons.  It was delicious.  The lobster roll was super good and huge, the clam chowder was great and Jo said the blueberry pie was superb.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Acadia National Park

This morning we did a drive through of this beautiful park.  Still lots of traffic and people have the parking areas quite full and difficult to find parking spaces for "The Beast" where a smaller auto would be easier.

Our first stop for pictures was at Sand Beach.  This is a pocket beach in a cove and the only area with sand in this area.  Otherwise the shore line is mostly huge rock.

 We did collect a sample of sand for our (claimed) daughter #2
Then it was a stop at the Thunder Hole, when waves come in and hit a pocket in the rock to make a roaring noise.  My pictures don't show a big event but as I was walking away back to the truck a big one came in for a loud roar.
 looking back from above
 Then it was a drive up to the top of Cadillac Mountain the highest point in the park.
This first view is looking North toward the town of Bar Harbor with three cruise ships visiting today.
 Looking East from the top of Cadillac Mountain
 Looking Westward.  Our campground would be at the waters level at the extreme right of this image
 Just an interesting bush with red berries
 This is our own flower garden back at our campsite
with lovely asters
 and goldenrod

After we left the park it was a few minutes past noon so we thought we would drive into downtown Bar Harbor for a unique cafe for lunch.  No way were we going to find a place to park our BIG truck in this totally touristy town with narrow streets and most of the traffic was pedestrian.  We just squeezed through and headed back to the campground for a bite of late, lite, lunch.  The campground has an open air cafe where we plan to take advantage of a lobster themed dinner this evening.

Monday, September 11, 2017

another beautiful drive

This afternoon we reached our destination in Bar Harbor Maine where we plan to explore the Acadia National Park.  I originally had planned to camp in one of the National Park campgrounds but the information kept telling me that there was a height restriction that we couldn't meet.  We are now in a KOA with the Atlantic Ocean at our front yard and will tour the park without the camper and just see what that height restriction is all about.  Here are a couple of pictures taken at our campsite.
Our back yard
 Our front yard
 This is a picture that I took out our dining room window yesterday in New Hampshire.
Our WiFi connection was weak and uploading pictures was a maybe/maybe not situation.

I don't like ground fault interrupt electric outlet fixtures.  I know they are supposed to save my life by not letting some long shot situation execute me but when they pop off they are hard to know what has happened.

I believe I have told everyone about our trip to Iowa last month and the CO alarm going off in the middle of the night.  The problem was a low battery indication and no gas identified.  Well before this trip I thought the problem was some cheep batteries that our dealer had installed so I had a pair of top quality deep cycle batteries installed hoping that the problem was fixed.  On this trip we have had the same alarm go off so now what to do?  Rather than call a mobile RV technician to come to the campground and search for the problem I went to Wall Mart and bought a battery charger to put on our batteries to keep them charged.  That charger had to be plugged into a 110 outlet and there was one conveniently located in a storage compartment.  I plugged the new charger into that outlet and nothing worked.  I thought I needed to return the new charger for one that worked.  Before making that 7 mile one way trip I plugged a voltage tester into the socket and no signal.  In the center of that outlet was a small button that had popped out so with that pushed in, guess what, everything works so no need for the new battery charger.  I have the receipt so back to Wall Mart before we leave this area and return that purchase.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

very scenic drive

Today we headed further north through the Green mountain ski area of Vermont to the White mountains of New Hampshire.  As we move northward we see more and more splashes of tree color, beautiful.

Mid morning today we came upon a railroad underpass with a sign that said 12' vertical clearance.  Our unit now, by my calculations, is 12'-2" and being a retired engineer I knew that we couldn't hold our breath and squeeze through.  This was along a small state route and fortunately there was a turn-around spot right at the bridge.  If we had been pulling out trailer it would have been a half mile back-up exercise.  Jo has always brought highway maps for every state that we drive through on our trips except for this trip guess which state she didn't.  You guessed right, New York state.  I found a paved road that seemed to be heading in the direction we wanted to go and didn't listen to Ms Navi (her last name is Gator) when she kept trying to tell me to make a u-turn.  Finally she found a path forward that brought us back on our intended route and past the low bridge problem.

Tomorrow we make it to our destination for this trip, Bar Harbor, Maine.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Miles and miles of PA

It shor am a fer piece cross this state from West to East.  The good news is that I-80 is in very good condition and also quite scenic.  There were even a few spots of early tree color along the way.

Tonight we are about 35 miles into New York near Newburgh.  After three days on the road we will stay put here for two nights before hitting the road again.

Here are a couple pictures of this campground.  It is totally in the trees.  We have been here twice before.  The first time Phyllis was with us and we took the campground sponsored day bus tour of New York City.  Also on that trip Jo was visiting with a neighboring camper and reached to pet their little puppy dog and it bit her, ouch.

The campsites across from ours
 Our site
The sign says "do not enter" but I assume that doesn't apply to us.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

honeymoon day 2

Today we have made our way to Mercer, PA.  The weather is so nice, it was in the low 50s this morning and the high today is in the low 60s.  We had a brief shower after getting set-up yesterday afternoon and some through the night.  We may have to find a jacket somewhere as we came away from home without packing any jackets or light coats.  Now here in the northeast US it might be a bit chilly some mornings.

The worst part of this trip so far is the condition of I-70 through the whole state of Indiana.  All of the US-Interstate system is old and worn out having been built in the 60s & 70s.  The design parameters did not include the magnitude of heavy truck traffic that this system has seen and it gets heavier every year.

A couple of years before I retired we conducted a study of I-70 and I-44 across Missouri with the recommendation that both need major reconstruction and added lanes for improved capacity.  Funds however are not available for any such massive reconstruction.

Tomorrow we make it to Newburgh, NY where we will sit for two nights.  Because this trip has a destination so far from home our day trips are longer than what we usually enjoy therefore after these three days pushing the time on the road we will enjoy the one day of rest there.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

59 years WOW!

Join us as we begin our 59th honeymoon.  59 years ago this afternoon (2:00 pm central time) we were married in the Broadway Methodist Church, Springfield, MO.  It's been a great journey so far and plan for more adventures yet to come.

This morning we headed out on this month's venture.  Our goal this trip is the Acadia National Park on the coast of Maine.  We have been there once before but just for a brief drive through.  This time we will spend a few days discovering the area and just might enjoy a lobster or two.

Our campground tonight is just a little east of Indianapolis, IN.  Tomorrow we head toward Columbus, OH and then head northeast into northwestern PA.