Monthly Archives: July 2015

Walk and Shower

It’s difficult to come up with an interesting post when I didn’t do anything interesting yesterday. I spent another day hanging out and reading a book. Donna’s mother picked her up at 4pm and they went to the Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza in Albany for a book signing scheduled by her publisher (map).

A line of thunderstorms formed along a cold front stretching from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to Montreal, Canada. The front passed through our area just before noon while Donna was out for a walk. We had heavy rain for 30-45 minutes, then it tapered off and quit raining. Donna said she got her exercise and shower all at once!

After the storm passed, the temperature reached the upper 70s and it was humid. Once again, I had to shut down the front air conditioner as the low line voltage problems occurred in the afternoon.

Today we plan to go to Secret Caverns and take the tour. We’ll have lunch out, then I need to start preparing for travel. We’ll pull out of here tomorrow. We’ll have to hit the dump station and offload a week’s worth of waste water and do a lap of the park before we leave. The park is a one-way loop, we have make the loop back to the entry to reach the dump station, then circle back around to the exit.

We have a few options for dry camping Saturday night – we’ll see what works out. On Sunday, we’ll arrive at the Lake George Escape Campground on the Schroon River near the town of Lake George (map). We have a full hook-up site booked there for two weeks next to Donna’s sister Linda and her husband Tommy.

With two travel days ahead, I’m not sure when I’ll post again.

Low Voltage – Again

I spent most of the day indoors reading while the miracle of modern medicine continued to do its thing. Donna’s oldest step-granddaughter from a previous marriage, Kayla, came for a visit on her day off work. Kayla is 17 and they hadn’t seen each other in more than 10 years. She drove here from west of Oneonta, which is the furthest distance she’s ever driven on her own. But she made it here with no problem thanks to GPS on her phone. After catching up indoors for a while, they sat outside in the shade of a tree and went through a bin of old photos, looking for photos of themselves from way back when.

Kayla and Donna

Kayla and Gramma Donna

Donna made Asian coleslaw and I grilled Nuremberg sausage for lunch. I finished reading another Vince Flynn political espionage thriller – part of his Mitch Rapp series. That’s the third one I’ve read this week and I started another.

With the temperature in the mid-90s, Donna and Kayla hit the swimming pool after lunch. I hung back at the coach, I don’t think anyone wants to see someone with a skin rash at the pool. The Progressive Industries Electrical Management System (EMS) shut down the power to our coach. I went outside and looked at the pedestal – voltage on the L-1 leg was down to 101 volts. That’s too low and creates a risk of damage to the compressor motors on the air conditioning units. I wrote about that in this post.

I fired up the generator as air conditioning was essential in this heat. It’s frustrating to be hooked up to a faulty 50-amp line and needing the generator to provide clean electrical power. I talked to the park owner again and inquired about the wiring scheme for the pedestals. He was adamant that the problem wasn’t the park wiring, but the power company. When we pull out of here on Saturday, I don’t think we’ll return to this park.

Donna wanted to try something new on the Traeger wood pellet fired grill. She had pizza dough that she picked up at Vince and Joe’s in Michigan. She rolled out two discs and lightly brushed them with olive oil. I grilled one side for two minutes at 450 degrees, then brought them back inside. Donna topped the grilled side with smoked gouda cheese, a mixture of cooked prosciutto, cherries, rosemary and mixed baby greens, then I put it back on the grill for four minutes. She called it a flatbread, not a pizza. We took a vote and gave it 2 1/2 stars out of 5. Donna really liked the topping, but I wasn’t too keen on the combination. And the pizza dough didn’t crisp up like we had hoped. I think we should have left it out longer at room temperature before rolling it out. Do you have any experience with grilling pizza?

Flatbread on the Traeger

Flatbread on the Traeger

Ozark the cat was moving slower than she was the day of her surgery. I think she must have still had some residual effect from the anesthesia on Tuesday. Yesterday she was obviously sore but didn’t seem to be in too much discomfort. She spent most of the day napping on a cat blanket that Donna’s mother made for her.

Ozark catching a nap on her blanket

Ozark catching a nap on her blanket

The prescriptions I picked up on Monday are working well. I would say my dermatitis is 90% clear this morning. I have two more days on the Prednisone. The secondary infection on my feet is healing well. The antibiotic is a little hard on my stomach at times, but I’ll follow the full course of the 10-day treatment.

Thunderstorms are in the forecast for early afternoon. I can see a line of storms to the west of us on the weather radar app, so I believe we’ll see rain before too long. Donna wants to go out for a power walk and hit the pool before it rains. It looks like another lazy day for me.

Recovery Day

I stuck with my plan and hung out inside yesterday. I spent most of the day reading a book. I got a little ambitious and cleaned the place and did the dishes – Donna always says there’s nothing sexier than a man doing dishes.

Donna and her mom, Lorraine, came home with Ozark the cat a little past 5pm. I was battling the low voltage problem here at the Hide-A-Way Campsites. I had the coach cooled to 72 degrees early in the afternoon knowing that I would most likely have to shut down the front AC due to the low L-1 voltage I wrote about two days ago. We ended up sitting outside in the shade of the canopy.

Ozark had surgery earlier in the day (spayed) and the vet said she might be nauseous. Not Ozark – she came inside and immediately went after her food bowl and asked for more. A blog follower named Pat Thorpe generously offered to make a cat blanket to fit Ozark’s carrier crate. She sent the blanket to Donna’s mom’s house and we received it the other day. It’s cute with a paw print fabric and fits perfectly. Thanks, Pat!

Padded blanket in Ozark's crate

Padded blanket in Ozark’s crate

Lorraine also gifted us with a cat blanket that Ozark lounges on.

While I sat outside talking with Lorraine, Donna prepared a rack of lamb. She made a rub with olive oil, cumin, coriander, paprika, salt and pepper, cayenne and minced garlic and let it rest for about 45 minutes. I fired up the Traeger and roasted it at 375 degrees for 40 minutes. I also put a rimmed cookie sheet with olive oil, rosemary and diced potatoes on the grill with the lamb.

Roasted rack of lamb

Roasted rack of lamb

I didn’t think the potatoes cooked well enough at first glance, but they were crisp and tasty. The lamb was moist and tender.

Roasted potatoes from the Traeger

Roasted potatoes from the Traeger

Donna served the meal with green beans and we dined outdoors at the picnic table across from our site. Our neighboring site is empty and opens up to a large grassy area with picnic tables.

Doorstep view across empty site

Doorstep view across empty site

Last night's dinner table

Last night’s dinner table

Dinner is served

Dinner is served

Ozark slowed down as the evening wore on. She found a comfortable place on the dashboard next to the windshield and stretched out.

Ozark in recovery mode

Ozark in recovery mode

She still seems a little slow this morning but isn’t complaining. We all slept well last night.

My dermatitis condition is responding phenomenally to the Prednisone. I would say I’m 75% clear this morning.

Today we expect another warm day with temperatures in the 90s. We’re expecting a guest today – Kayla is Donna’s step-granddaughter from a previous marriage. I think they’ll hang out at the pool while I read and recover. We may take a short ride down to the Howe Caverns or Secret Caverns later (map).

Itchy Situation

For some reason, mosquitoes love me. I always seem to attract more mosquitoes and mosquito bites than others around me. When we were in Texas, I started getting mosquito bites. Mosquitoes aren’t much of an issue in southern California or Arizona where we spend a lot of time.

When we were at Tom Sawyer RV Park in Memphis, a couple of mosquito bites I got on my left foot back in Rockport, Texas were getting irritated by the straps on my flip flops. In Missouri, I got a couple more bites on my right foot. These were also irritated by the straps on my flip flops. I started putting antibiotic ointment and band-aids over the bites to keep the straps from rubbing and further irritating them.

By the time we got to Michigan, the irritation was spreading on the tops of both feet. I had rough red skin where the straps of my flip-flops ran behind my toes. When we left Michigan and were driving across Ohio, I told Donna my shirt felt funny. I thought it might have had something to do with some new mosquito bites on my shoulders and arms.

The next day, driving through the Finger Lakes Region, I told Donna I thought there was some kind of contamination in my shirt. I wasn’t just feeling mosquito bites – I had splotchy red areas on my neck, shoulders, back and chest, and underarms.

I have severe pollen allergies. Most of the time, I react to pollen with the usual sneezing, runny nose and itchy, watering eyes. Sometimes, when the pollen count is really high or I’m doing yard work, my skin will react with small red itchy bumps.

That’s what this felt like, except the areas of bumps were joining and becoming large skin irritations. Donna told me that the dryers at Addison Oaks in Michigan had a lot of plant matter in the filter screens. She thought someone had dried a blanket or sleeping bag that had been used outdoors. My shirts might have become contaminated in the dryer.

I started taking Benadryl tablets and rubbing Benadryl cream on the affected areas. It seemed like things were improving every morning, but by the end of the day, I would be worse off. Sunday night was the last straw. I had a burning, itching sensation in my arms and shoulders all night long.

On Monday morning, I rode the scooter to the nearest medical facility, Cobleskill Regional Hospital. I brought a book along thinking I would be in for a long wait. I was pleasantly surprised by their efficiency and was soon examined by a doctor. Doctor Trimble diagnosed two separate conditions – contact dermatitis on my upper body and a wound infection on my feet. He prescribed Prednisone for the allergic reaction (dermatitis) and Keflex for the infection. He told me that it isn’t contagious and to avoid scratching or rubbing any of the affected areas. I’ve been hanging out in the coach with my shirt off.

Donna’s mother, Lorraine, came by yesterday afternoon. She took Donna and Ozark the cat to the vet. Ozark had an exam and this morning, will get her vaccinations and get spayed. Donna stayed the night at her parents’ house and will catch up on our laundry. Since we’ve been in parks without sewer hook-ups lately, she hasn’t used our washer/dryer.

This morning, just one day after starting my course of medications, I would say my condition has improved by 50%. I think in another day or two, I should be fine. Of course I’ll follow the prescription of five days on the Predisone and 10 days on the Keflex even if I clear up sooner.

I plan to lie low again and read a book today. Donna and Ozark should be home in the late afternoon.

Balance of Power

We pulled out of Beaver Spring Lake Campground around 11am. I used their dump station to dump and flush our holding tanks – we won’t be on a sewer hook-up for the next week. We backtracked several miles to Oneonta and pulled into the large parking lot at the Price Chopper grocery store. There were a few other stores there as well. I went to Rite Aid to pick up a few items and also to the liquor store while Donna shopped for groceries.

We opted to stay off the bumpy I-88 and drove east on New York State Route 7. This is a typical two-lane highway that took us parallel to I-88. The highway is a mixture of 55mph stretches through open rolling country broken up by small villages along the way. Some of the villages are speed traps – suddenly, without any warning, the speed limit drops to 40 or even 30 mph. Any time it looked like there would be a settlement ahead, I kept a lookout for posted speed signs.

We pulled into the Hide-A-Way Campsites near Central Bridge, New York a little past 1pm (map). Donna’s parents live nearby and we plan to spend a week here visiting them. We’re in a long pull-through gravel site and didn’t have to drop the trailer. The check-in process was efficient and the people at the office were friendly. The layout of our site is strange though. We have a picnic table and grassy area on the driver’s side of the coach where the power and water hook-ups are. On the passenger side, where you would normally find a picnic table, it’s all gravel under our canopy.

Gravel outside our door and under the canopy

Gravel outside our door and under the canopy

Grass Picnic table and fore ring on the "wrong" side

Grass picnic table and fire ring on the “wrong” side

I unloaded our grills and got the ladders out of the trailer. After completing our set-up, including the window shades and wheel covers, I got up on the roof. In the northeast – from Pennsylvania up through New England – our Dish Network needs to be re-programmed. The western arc satellites (110° and 119°) may not work here. I removed the dome from our Winegard Roadtrip satellite antenna and reset the dip switches (dual inline package). The dip switches modify the circuit in the board for the antenna.

Satellite dome - two screws already removed

Satellite dome – two screws already removed

Antenna controller with dip switches

Antenna controller with dip switches

I reinstalled the dome and went through the tedious process of programming the receiver to tune in satellites 61.5° and 129°. While I was doing this, our power suddenly cut off. I went outside to check the breaker at the pedestal. We’re on a 50-amp service and shouldn’t be overloaded.

I found an error code on our Progressive Industries Electrical Management System (EMS) showing low voltage on L-1. If the voltage supply drops below 104 volts, the EMS will shut down. Low voltage can damage electronic components and electric motors. Things like air conditioner motors may still run on low voltage, but there’s a risk of damage.

I reset the pedestal breaker which, in turn, reset the EMS. I read 107 volts on L-1 and 117 volts on L-2. This isn’t good. About five minutes later, the EMS shut down again with the same code for low voltage on L-1. I reset it again and walked up to the office.

Progressive Industries EMS

Progressive Industries EMS

The ladies in the office were friendly and took me over to a house behind the office where several people were sitting on the porch. A guy named Fred was called over and I explained the problem to him. He said, “The only time we ever have electrical issues is when you people with big buses are in the park.” What?

I told him about the low voltage and the error code on my EMS. He was very surly and said, “I can’t make voltage – it’s whatever the power company delivers.” I said, “Maybe there’s a poor connection in my pedestal creating excessive resistance – can you check that out?” He said, “It’s the weekend and I don’t have anyone here to do that work.” He added, “If you can’t deal with it, I’ll give you your money back and you can go somewhere else.” I couldn’t believe his attitude and what I was hearing. I asked him if he was the campground manager and, he said, “No, I own this place.” Wow!

I went back to the coach and shut off the front air conditioner which runs off L-1. Fifty amp coaches are set up with two lines of electricity splitting the loads between L-1 and L-2. Each leg provides 50 amps of current and shouldn’t overload the power supply. There was clearly something wrong with the L-1 power supply.

About half an hour later, Fred was at our pedestal. I walked outside and greeted him. He had a volt meter and told me he had checked the power at pedestals all down the line. He said there was low voltage on L-1 everywhere, thus it was a power company problem and he couldn’t do anything about it. He said no one else was having a problem with it and added that it’s always the guys with big buses that complain. Everyone else here is in a travel trailer or fifth wheel trailer. I told him since he measured low voltage throughout the park, everyone has a problem – they just don’t know it because they don’t have an EMS.

He said they would call the power company and also shut down the pool pump which puts a big load on the power supply.

After thinking about for a while, here’s my take. Most of the travel trailers in the park are probably 30-amp set-ups. The power supply to the park has two legs of 120 volt AC power. Thirty amp circuits only run on one leg of the power supply. When the park power pedestals are wired up, the 30-amp receptacles should be balanced by wiring the first one to L-1, the second to L-2, the third to L-1, the fourth to L-2 and so on. I’d be willing to bet the park wasn’t wired correctly and everyone using 30-amp power is on the same L-1 circuit. This would explain the disparity in voltage between L-1 and L-2.

Around 5pm, Donna’s mother Lorraine and her father Duke came over. We sat and talked for awhile as Donna prepared cumin-toasted tilapia over sauteed mushrooms with lemon parmesan broccoli and black rice. Duke is not fond of fish, so Donna heated a chicken pasty for him. We had an enjoyable meal and lots of conversation.

Meanwhile, I was still trying to complete the programming of my satellite dish and acquire a signal. It wouldn’t lock on to the new satellite settings. I think I’ll reset it back to the western arc and see if it acquires a signal today. I’ve already missed the Formula One race.

An Up and Down Day

I ended my last post saying we would head over to Skaneateles. We’d heard that it was a fun touristy stop. Our plan was to head east on US20 along the northern tips of the Finger Lakes. We drove through the little villages of Geneva, Waterloo and Seneca Falls before we reached Skaneateles. All of the villages were quaint with narrow streets and nowhere to park with the exception of a visitor’s center in Geneva that we saw too late to pull in.

It was farmers’ market day in Skaneateles. I was hoping to park in town by the public park at the tip of the lake so we could wander around. It wasn’t possible. All of the parking spaces were full and the side streets were too narrow to park our rig. The small downtown area of Skaneateles has many interesting shops and restaurants that we would have liked to explore, but we continued eastward.

Donna was looking through the Escapees Days End directory and other resources for dry camping or discounted campgrounds. We had two nights to fill before we can check in at Central Bridge near Donna’s parents where we are booked for a week. Our route was taking us along the northwestern edge of the Appalachian Mountains. The road was constantly rising and falling before us in short, very steep climbs and descents. These were some of the steepest roads I’ve traveled. We were either going downhill with the jake brake on the high setting or going uphill with the pedal to the metal. Most of the grades were short – less than 1/2 mile, but there were a few longer ones.

At the junction with I-81, Donna told me to get on the interstate and head south. She found a park in Cortland with a Passport America rate of $14. She also found a park near Davenport, just east of Oneonta with an Escapees rate of $19. We stopped near the park in Cortland and discussed our options. The Passport America rate was only good for one night and they didn’t have a pull-through site. We would have to drop the trailer, which I prefer not to do for a one-night stay.

The park near Davenport was another 80 miles away. However, the Escapees rate could be applied to two nights and they had a large pull-through site. The downside was no sewer at the site, only 30 amp electric and fresh water. I was tired but voted to continue on to Beaver Spring Lake Campground near Davenport (map). We could set up quickly and not drop the trailer, plus we could stay two nights. And Donna has family in the area that she had hoped to see on this trip.

We stopped and topped up the fuel tank at a truck stop in Cortland. We took on 47 gallons at $2.95/gallon which is higher than we pay out west but a good price for this area.

Dry camping opportunities are not as plentiful in the east as they are west of the Missouri River. I don’t think the Walmart parking lots are available for overnighting anywhere in New York. There isn’t any open public land like the large BLM holdings in the west. Being spontaneous about overnight stops doesn’t work as easily in the east.

We checked in at Beaver Spring Lake Campground around 4pm. We were directed to a large pull-through double site. They don’t take credit or debit cards here, cash or check only. This has us positioned to to make the 45-mile drive to Central Bridge on Saturday.

Large open site

Large open site

No neighbors tonight

No neighbors tonight

Our site is large and spacious, but not at all level. I put my wood pads below the jacks on the left side of the coach which needed to be raised considerably.

We had fair weather all day and drove without running the air conditioner. We slept with the windows open last night and the coach was a chilly 61 degrees this morning. Today the forecast calls for a high in the upper 70s with mostly sunny skies. Tomorrow is supposed to be more of the same.

No Overnight Parking

Monday was our last full day at Addison Oaks County Park in Oakland Township, Michigan (map). We still had Bill Frahm’s Nissan SUV and took advantage of that by running out to Costco. We wanted to buy bottled water and coffee and also replenish our supply of Traeger hardwood pellets for the wood pellet smoker/grill.

At the Costco on Brown Road, we found Traeger smoker/grills for sale but no pellets. When I asked an employee, I was told they don’t have them – they only had them when the Traeger Road Show Team was demo’ing the product. Huh? You have the grill for sale but don’t carry the pellets necessary to use the grill?

After we left Costco, Donna used her phone to look for other possibilities to pick up pellets. It showed Home Depot carrying them. We made a roundabout trip following directions on Donna’s phone which circled us around to within a quarter mile of Costco – after four miles of driving.

We went to the grill section of the store and the guy told us wood pellets were seasonal and they didn’t have them now. What? It’s grilling season, right? He was talking about heating pellets, not cooking pellets. Next, Donna found hardwood pellets on her phone at Target. She phoned the nearest Target and asked if they had them – they said yes. Target was right across the street. Once there, we couldn’t find them. Donna asked a woman – who happened to be the one she talked to on the phone and the woman showed us hickory chunks for smoking. No pellets. It appears to be a regional thing. Wood pellet cooking isn’t big in the upper midwest. It’s common in the south and also in the northwest and northeast from what I can gather on the forums.

After we came back, Donna went to Rochester to wash Bill’s SUV and fill the tank with gas. I spent the rest of the afternoon packing the trailer and making us ready for travel. When Donna returned, her friend Jo from our old neighborhood in Rochester Hills came over. Jo had her arm in a sling due to a fall. Donna and Jo went out for an hour-long walk.

Donna and Jo

Donna and Jo

Tuesday morning, Ozark the cat had me up at 6am. She was playing with her toys and running the length of the coach. I wanted to be up early anyway, but Donna was sleeping soundly. I read until Donna woke up at 7am.  It was 9am before we were ready to roll though – I was hoping for an earlier start.

I skipped the dump station on the way out – Donna was following in Bill’s Nissan SUV. I wanted to get down to Troy and return Bill’s car as early as possible. By the time we returned his car and said our thanks and until next time, it was 10am. My plan was to use the dump station at Cabela’s in Dundee.

The route to Cabela’s took us west to US23 before heading south toward Ohio. This was a loop since we wanted to head east through Ohio. But I wanted to buy a couple of things at Cabela’s and they have a free dump station. Also, the last time I went down I-75 from Detroit to Toledo, the rough road surface nearly shook my fillings out. US23 is a much nicer road. When we used the dump station, I saw a sign stating it won’t be free much longer. New card readers are being installed to charge a $5 dump fee.

We had lunch at the restaurant in Cabela’s, then I found a pair of Teva flip-flops I wanted and we also found – wait for it – hardwood pellets. They’re packaged as Cabela’s brand but I’ll wager that Traeger is the source. They had several different hardwood blends. I bought 20 pounds of hickory and 20 pounds of their competition blend.

Back on the road, I programmed Nally (our Rand McNally RVND7720 GPS) to avoid toll roads and take us to Canandaigua, NY. There was no way we would reach Canandaigua in one day, but that was our next destination. Our route kept us off the Ohio turnpike and on fairly nice highways through farmland and woods once we were past Toledo.

US20 took us to a non-toll section of I-90 through Cleveland. I motored on and we decided to hit a Walmart parking lot in Erie, Pennsylvania. Before we left Ohio, I stopped at a Pilot/Flying J travel center and filled our tank. I knew fuel is much more expensive in Pennsylvania and New York. I paid $2.72/gallon in Ohio. In Pennsylvania, we saw diesel fuel priced at $3.39/gallon. We covered 340 miles by the time we parked at Walmart. It was a longer day than I usually drive. Ozark was quite the traveling kitty. She took to her crate without too much fuss and didn’t protest much on the drive.

Tuesday morning we pulled out of Walmart around 8:30am after I ate a breakfast sandwich from the Subway shop in the Walmart. Our plan was to head to Canandaigua on the north end of Canandaigua Lake in the Finger Lakes Region of New York (map). Donna had planned to meet up with her old college roommate, Kathy. Kathy thought we could fit our rig alongside her house in the village of Canandaigua. Along the way on I-86, the traffic was very light. A murder of crows were on the road ahead. One of them made a rare miscalculation – crows are usually very sharp. He flew up in front of us but didn’t account for our height correctly and I’m afraid our front cap meant his demise as he bounced forcefully off of it. Birds are fragile with hollow bones – I don’t think the collision was survivable.

Once we got to Kathy’s street, I could see it wouldn’t work. She may have enough room by her house, but the street was too narrow for me to maneuver and back the trailer in. I programmed the Walmart in town in the GPS and we continued on. The GPS took us northwest then told me to make a U-turn.

I saw a turn lane ahead marked for U-turns and the road on the other side was two lanes wide. I over-estimated the width of the median – the turn lane angled and once I initiated the turn, I realized I made an error. It wasn’t a wide enough highway for me to complete the U-turn. I stopped short of the grassy shoulder on the opposite side of the road and backed-up a few feet. The trailer would jackknife if I went back any further. I worked it back and forth a couple of times, blocking both lanes of the road.

There was a steel reflector post on the edge of the grass on my left and a tree to the right. I shot the gap and pulled our rig onto the grassy shoulder without hitting anything and cleared the roadway. I was praying the earth beneath the grass was stable enough to support the weight of our coach. After taking a few seconds to compose myself, I waited for a break in the traffic and merged back onto the highway.

Fifteen minutes later, we found the Walmart. As I pulled in, I saw signs prohibiting overnight parking. Walmart’s corporate policy is to allow RVers to park overnight. Local ordinances trump this policy. In touristy areas, local councils often enact these ordinances presumably at the urging of local RV parks and resorts. The fallacy in this is most RVs in a Walmart lot are only passing through. They aren’t going to spend big bucks at a resort. They will spend some money in the Walmart store though.

After a frustrating search for an overnight spot, we resigned ourselves to the fact we had no choice for dry camping if we were to stay in the area. I found a site at the Bristol Woodlands Campground. It really irks me to pay for a full hook-up 50 amp site when I’m only wishing for a place to spend one night and don’t need to hook up.

Having said that, I should add that this is a nice park with roomy sites. Getting here was an adventure though. We left Canandaigua and drove about 20 minutes through rural countryside. It was very hilly and steep in places. The road to the campground is unpaved for the last mile and signed for no vehicles over 10 tons.

This had me worried. It was a narrow dirt road with no easy way to turn around. We are 17 tons. I was hoping we would find the park before we had to cross a bridge or culvert that wasn’t rated for our weight. We found the campground and at check-in, the manager told me not to worry. He doesn’t understand the sign. There’s no bridge and he said no one pays attention to the sign.

We were assigned a long back-in site, long enough to accommodate our 56′ length without dropping the trailer. There were two issues though. The water and power are located at the rear of the site. I had to back way in, putting the trailer on the grass below the grade of the site. The second issue is the slope. The site slopes downhill from front to back. I had to jack the rear to full extension and we’re still not level. It’s close enough and it’ll do for one night. I had my 50′ power cord fully extended and it just barely reached the pedestal.

Roomy site with a long run to the pedestal

Roomy site with a long run to the pedestal

Beautiful park with lots of room, but not level

Beautiful park with lots of room, but not level

Donna’s friend Kathy and her daughter Kierra came over and picked Donna up around 4:30pm. I hung back in the coach to write most of this post and tend to all of the insect bites I have from Sunday night at Addison Oaks. The mosquitos really skewered me and I’m suffering from it.

Wednesday was the first day since I-don’t know-when that we drove without the roof air conditioners running. We’re now at an altitude if 1,500 feet and can sleep with windows open.

Today we’ll head toward Albany and maybe find a dry camping spot around Skaneateles (map).

Potluck With Friends

Although a few dark clouds passed overhead yesterday, no rain fell and the weather radar app didn’t show any precipitation in the area. So around 11am, I rode the scooter to Papa Joe’s Gourmet Market and bought three racks of baby back ribs and some “Rub with Love” dry pork rub.

I removed the thin membrane from the bone side of the ribs and applied about one and a half tablespoons of dry rub to each side of the racks. I piled them together, re-wrapped them in butcher paper and put them in the refrigerator around noon.

Our friends Bill and Cindy Davey arrived just as I was firing up the Traeger wood pellet smoker/grill a little before 2pm. It was hot and very humid outside – upper 80s. We sat and visited for a while, then Bill unloaded their hybrid electric bicycles. These bikes have electric motors and 48-volt lithium-ion batteries. I took a spin on Cindy’s 1,000-watt bike. You can let the motor do all the work by twisting the right hand grip or you can pedal with motor assist. I pedaled away, then increased the power assist on the controller and did a quick, effortless lap around the campsite area. Bill’s bike has even more power with a 1,500-watt motor.

Around 4pm, our friends Keith and Julie Burk showed up with their daughter Alayna. Keith and I worked together from 2009 until I retired and had a lot of fun times together.

More old friends arrived and we tried to find shade for all the chairs. Everyone sat and talked for a while, then at 5pm I took the ribs off the grill. While I was cutting the ribs, the rest of the feast – pasta, salads and fruit bowls – were spread on the picnic table. The potluck was on.

Visiting in the shade

Visiting in the shade

My friends and former colleagues Allen Hutchinson and Justin Rose showed up in time for the food. Justin and his wife Jen just got back from a week-long trip to Chicago with their two young sons in tow. I think we had about 15 people around the table by then.

Justin, Keith and Ironman Allen

Justin, Keith and Ironman Allen

The food was fabulous, the baby back ribs were a hit and once again, the Traeger made it easy. The beer flowed along with conversation. It was fun catching up with the guys and hearing stories about life back at the office. I haven’t thought much about work since I retired two years ago. Back then, I said the only thing I would miss is some of the people – and that’s held true.

I broke out the bottle of Dragons Milk Bourbon Barrel Stout from New Holland Brewing. The bourbon was obvious and maybe a little bit too forward in the 9% ABV beer.

Dragon's Milk Bourbon Barrel Stout

Dragon’s Milk Bourbon Barrel Stout

The crew

The VW crew

The time passed much too quickly. As the evening drew on, people began packing up to head home. It was well past 9pm when Donna I cleaned up the picnic table and came inside.

Once again, Ozark provided amusement before we went to bed. She was intent on stalking and catching a fly that found its way into the coach.

Ozark intent on catching a fly

Ozark waiting to ambush a fly

Today we should have good weather – not quite as hot as yesterday. I’ll pack the trailer, remove the tire covers and windshield cover and check tire pressures in preparation for travel tomorrow. I want to head out early as we have to hit the dump station on the way out. Our first stop will be in Troy where we’ll return Bill’s vehicle. I don’t know where we’ll end up tomorrow night – we’ll see what comes up down the road. I won’t post tomorrow.


Sudden Shower

Weather guesser is an appropriate term in southeast Michigan. Yesterday’s forecast called for zero percent chance of rain until late afternoon when there was a slight possibility of scattered showers.

Donna drove over to Stony Creek Metropark (map) in the morning to meet up with some girls to rent stand-up paddleboards on the lake. She took her bike along in the back of Bill’s SUV which we still have. She planned to ride with Bill after paddleboarding. Then she wanted to shop at Vince and Joe’s Gourmet grocery afterwards, since it’s close to Stony Creek Metropark.

I had a few errands to run, so I headed out on the scooter. I rode through downtown Rochester where the roads are under construction, creating traffic jams in every direction. I went to Petsmart and bought more food for Ozark. For a little cat, she sure can eat. Then I went to Barnes and Noble and picked up a few more Vince Flynn novels. I’m hooked on the Mitch Rapp series of thrillers.

I made another stop at CVS pharmacy, then went to Papa Joe’s Gourmet Market on the way back. I’d like to know who Joe is. Around here there’s Trader Joe’s, Vince and Joe’s and also Papa Joe’s. Trader Joe’s is nationwide, but the other two Joe’s are local and very upscale.

Papa Joe's Gourmet Market

Papa Joe’s Gourmet Market

I checked out the baby back ribs at Papa Joe’s, thinking if the weather holds out, I’ll buy them on Sunday to grill for our potluck bash. I also found a 22-ounce bottle of Dragon’s Milk Bourbon Barrel Stout that will go well with barbeque ribs.

I came home and heated up leftovers for lunch. Suddenly the sun was blocked out by clouds and it was dark out. I looked at the weather radar app on my phone. A line of thunderstorms stretching from the southwest to the northeast was almost on top of us! I went out and covered the scooter and picked up a few things on the picnic table. I brought them inside just as the rain began to fall. We had a real downpour! So much for zero chance of rain for the day.

Donna texted me from Vince and Joe’s – she spent an hour shopping there and said she was in heaven! It rained there and she wondered if we had rain here. By then, the storm had passed and it was sunny again.

Donna came home with a porterhouse steak. I seasoned the steak and wanted to try grilling it on the Traeger smoker/grill. The thing is, the Traeger doesn’t provide direct heat like I would normally use to grill a steak. It’s all indirect convection heat. This makes it difficult to get grill marks and any charring on the surface of the meat. It’s arguably healthier not to char the meat, but that’s what makes a grilled steak so tasty.

I had an idea. I turned the grill on high and put a cast iron skillet inside while I had potatoes baking. After a while I added the steak to the 450-degree grill.

Cast iron skillet, potatoes and steak

Cast iron skillet, potatoes and steak

After cooking with the lid closed for eight minutes, I placed the steak in the hot cast iron skillet. My plan was to flip it after two minutes and try to get a little char from the radiant heat of the cast iron skillet. I made a big mistake though. After I closed the lid, the temperature didn’t rise in the grill, it began to fall. I hadn’t stirred the pellets in the hopper and as the pellet supply went down, they formed a bridge over the auger and quit feeding. My fire was out! I stirred the pellets and got it restarted, but my skillet experiment was ruined. The steak came out okay, but I’ll have to try this again and see if I can perfect the technique.

Steak and potatoes hot off the grill

Steak and potatoes hot off the grill

Donna steamed asparagus and sauteed mushrooms and onions to accompany the steak and potatoes.

Steak under sauteed mushrooms and onions with roasted potato and steamed asparagus

Steak under sauteed mushrooms and onions with roasted potato and steamed asparagus

After dinner, Ozark the cat amused us with her antics. She loves to bat the parchment paper toy Donna made. She also tosses and chases the little catnip-filled mouse toys I bought. I put a little dried catnip on her scratching post and she attacked it. Finally she wore down and seemed a bit dazed by the catnip.

Ozark dazed by the catnip

Ozark dazed by the catnip

The weather forecast for today went from 60% chance of rain on yesterday’s prediction to 35% chance of rain by last night. This morning they say 0% chance of rain, but we know how that went yesterday. I’m hoping they got it right today so we can have guests join us for the potluck picnic we have planned. I’ll head out to Papa Joe’s and pick up the ribs around noon if the weather still looks promising.

Weather Permitting

The heavy rain quit falling by 9am yesterday. The day remained overcast with occasional showers. Donna went shopping in the afternoon and made stops at a pet store, CVS and Trader Joe’s. Our plan for a picnic dinner with the Bates family was on hold due to the inclement weather.

Around 3:30pm, Donna sent me a text saying it was sunny in Rochester (map). I replied that the sun was shining here at Addison Oaks County Park also. The weather radar looked good, so the planned picnic was on. Donna made a stop at Bush’s Grocery and bought a family pack of eight chicken leg quarters. She also bought 6 ears of fresh corn.

When she got home, she rinsed the quarters and patted them dry, then lightly coated them with olive oil. Then she sprinkled Traeger powdered chicken seasoning on them.

Chicken leg quarters seasoned and ready to grill

Chicken leg quarters seasoned and ready to grill

I fired up the Traeger wood pellet grill and preheated it for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. I arranged the chicken on the grill at 5:30pm – eight chicken leg quarters are the limit for our 300-square-inch grill!

Jason, Danielle and two of their sons, Evan and Austin arrived around 6:00pm. Evan’s twin brother Noah wasn’t with them, he was at his grandma’s house. We met Danielle Bates when we first moved to Michigan in 2009 and have always enjoyed getting together with her family.

At 6:20pm, I began soaking the corn in the husk in a pail of water. I like to soak the corn for 15-20 minutes before I grill it. It helps to keep the husk from burning and the corn gets steamed in the husk on the grill. I put the corn on the Weber Q gas grill and let it cook for 20 minutes over medium heat. I also basted the chicken quarters with a honey-maple dressing we bought last summer at the farmers’ market in Coeur d’Alene and closed the lid for the final 15 minutes of cook time.

The corn was done about the time I took the chicken off the Traeger.

Grilled chicken leg quarters

Grilled chicken leg quarters

Shucking the husk from the hot ears of corn is always like playing a game of hot potato!

Slathering butter on hot freshly shucked corn

Slathering butter on hot freshly shucked corn

Jason brought a couple of bottles of Lagunitas Sucks Brown Sugga Substitute ale. It was tasty and just the thing for a barbeque picnic. The chicken was so tender and delicious. The meat fell from the bone and the dressing glazed perfectly without charring. Cooking on the Traeger wood pellet grill is too easy. I love it!

Donna, Danielle, Austin, Jason and Evan

Donna, Danielle, Austin, Jason and Evan

We enjoyed the meal and company at the picnic table. After dinner, Jason and I had Mackinac Island Fudge Stout from Arbor Brewing for dessert. The kids went to the playground and we sat and talked well into the night. It was a very enjoyable time. Donna and I were happy to have the chance to visit with them.

Today the weather guessers are calling for a high of 91 degrees with humidity above 60%.