Monthly Archives: August 2015

Vixens and Brisket

While Donna was out on her 28-mile bike ride yesterday, I saw a unique motorhome arrive near our site at Tom Sawyer’s Mississippi River RV Park (map). It was a 1986 Vixen. I’ve only seen this model coach once before. After they set up, I walked over to their site and asked if they minded me taking pictures of their unique coach. They were happy to have me take pictures and even gave a tour of the rig.

The owner’s name is Lester and he told me the engine was bad and not running when he bought the rig. The original engine was a turbocharged 2.2 liter BMW diesel. Lester says the coach is underpowered with that engine. He replaced it with a 3.9 liter Isuzu diesel. He says it has plenty of power now and it gets 22 miles per gallon. When I saw one of these in South Dakota, I didn’t realize the roof pops up. I said at that time that the low ceiling would be a deal breaker for me. These coaches were built from 1986 to 1989 in Pontiac, Michigan and were ahead of their time. The design was refined in a wind tunnel at the University of Michigan. This link has a complete description.

1986 Vixen

1986 Vixen with roof popped up

Lester's 1986 Vixen

Lester’s 1986 Vixen

Lester is an active member of the Vixen owners’ club and attended their national rally in Frankenmuth, Michigan last year. He organized this year’s group rally which will take place beginning September 15th at Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee.

My big project yesterday was an attempt to smoke a Texas-style beef brisket. I looked at a lot of recipes and information online. It seemed like everyone has their own unique way of making a perfect brisket. A lot of the information was conflicting. I combined some of the common themes and adjusted a recipe. One of things I had to account for was the fact that I was cooking a three-and-a-half pound hunk of flat (HOF) brisket, not a whole packer brisket. This site will tell all you want know about brisket and more.

I started by placing the brisket on a rimmed cookie sheet and seasoned it with Stubb’s Bar-B-Q spice rub.

Dry rubbed brisket

Dry-rubbed brisket

I let it sit for one hour, then I fired up the Traeger wood pellet fired smoker/grill. I had the Traeger set to the smoke setting and filled it with hickory pellets. The smoke setting is different from the thermostatically controlled temperature settings. The smoke setting is a timed release of the wood pellets. The auger feeds pellets for 15 seconds then stops for 65 seconds before it feeds pellets again. This creates smoke and the temperature runs about 200 degrees.

I left the brisket in the grill on the smoke setting for three hours. I made a mop baste by combining a cup of beer with two ounces of apple cider vinegar and a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce. I put the baste in a spray bottle and sprayed the brisket every hour while it was smoking.

After three hours, I wrapped the brisket in foil, spraying it liberally with the mop baste before I sealed up the foil. I set the Traeger at 225 degrees and left the lid closed for the next three hours. After six hours of cooking time, I took the foil-wrapped brisket off the grill, rolled it up in an old towel and placed it in the microwave oven. I didn’t turn the oven on – I let the brisket rest in the oven. By wrapping it in a towel and confining it to the microwave, it continued to cook as it slowly cooled. After 30 minutes, I took it out of the oven and unwrapped it.

Brisket revealed with a nice crusty bark

Brisket revealed with a nice, crusty bark

I sliced the tip off it and saw a quarter-inch smoke ring. It was very tender.

Nice pink smoke ring

Nice, pink smoke ring

I cut the brisket across the grain into 1/4″ thick slices. Donna served it with garlic smashed red potatoes and steamed broccoli.


Tender, moist smoked brisket with garlic smashed potatoes and brocolli

Tender, moist, smoked brisket with garlic smashed potatoes and broccoli

The dinner was delicious – the brisket came out better than I imagined it would. Now I have a new favorite to grill up.

It was hot and humid out yesterday, so I spent most of the day indoors reading. Today we expect the temperature to reach 90 again with high humidity and thundershowers around noon. Hopefully it’ll cool off enough for me to get started on loading the trailer. We’ll continue heading west tomorrow.


Closing the Loop

We opted to stay for a second night in the campground at the Meriwether Lewis National Monument. The free campsites are clean and the scenery is terrific with good hiking opportunities. It’s also very quiet. On Thursday, Donna hiked on the Old Trace trail which is part of the original Natchez Trace. The trail took her past the Meriwether Lewis Monument which is his final resting place near the Grinder stand.

Natchez Trace - wide enough for a wagon

Natchez Trace – wide enough for a wagon

Click to enlarge if you wish to read

Click to enlarge if you wish to read

Fenceline on the Old Trace

Fenceline on the Old Trace

Meriwether Lewis Monument in the background

Meriwether Lewis Monument in the background

Meriwether Lewis Monument

Meriwether Lewis Monument

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Grinder house

Grinder house

For dinner on Thursday night, I grilled a pork tenderloin on the Weber Q. Donna had marinated it in a mojo marinade. She reserves half the marinade to pour over the meat after cooking. It’s one of our favorite ways to prepare pork tenderloin and, as usual, it was tender and tasty. She served it with brown rice and roasted peppers, onions and zucchini.

Pork tenderloin with rice and roasted peppers and zucchini

Pork tenderloin with rice and roasted peppers, onions and zucchini

On Friday morning, we packed up and headed down the Natchez Trace Parkway about 16 miles, then we turned west at US64. This is a divided highway with two lanes in each direction. I wanted to avoid I-40 and US64 seemed like a good alternative. There was very little traffic and the road surface was mostly good with only a few sections of construction and rough road. It was slower crossing Tennessee on US64 due to all of the small towns. We drove through Waynesboro, Savannah, Boliver and a few smaller villages before we stopped at Walmart in Somerville (map). We stocked up on groceries, then continued down the road.

US64 hit I-40 about 10 miles east of Memphis. It was immediately apparent that US64 was the way to go. It’s an embarrassment and disgrace how our government has allowed the federal interstate highways to deteriorate. The potholes, cracks and uneven surfaces on I-40 make it barely drivable.

We crossed the Mississippi River and entered Arkansas where we had booked a site at Tom Sawyer’s RV Park. We stayed here the first week of June.  Since then, we’ve completed a 4,000-mile loop that took us north to Minneapolis, across Michigan’s upper peninsula, then down through Michigan and east to upstate New York. From there we went down through Pennsylvania and Maryland, across Virginia and finally back to Tennessee. Whew – we saw a lot and had some great adventures over the last three months. Along the way, we picked up a stray cat and also added a Traeger grill.

One big difference we found here in West Memphis this time around is the Mississippi River water level. When we were here in June, the water level stage was 15 feet. When we checked in yesterday, the stage was three feet. There’s a sandbar creating an island right in front of the park. This wasn’t there before. There are fewer barges on the river as well. I’m guessing the low water level makes navigation treacherous.

Sand bar in the river

Sandbar in the river

Last evening, I took a walk in the park to look at the river. Our site has us facing the water only a stone’s throw away from the river. While I was out, I saw a 2012 Newell coach. The owner, John, and his son-in-law, Lee, were sitting outside. A 2012 Newell is a million-dollar coach (it was probably over $1.5 million new). I stopped and talked to John. It’s always interesting to hear the success story behind owning a million-dollar rig. John’s story was much like many I’ve heard since we’ve been on the road. He started out 38 years ago as the sole proprietor of a Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) service company. He had one truck and one employee – himself. He worked hard and established commercial contracts as well as residential service customers. Then he added a second service truck and employee. He continued to build his reputation and business. Today, he has 66 trucks and nearly 200 employees. He’s enjoying life and seeing the country while his son runs the day-to-day operation of his business. I love hearing how hard work, perseverance and being able to make the most out of an opportunity pays off.

John and Lee sitting outside John's Newell

John and Lee sitting outside John’s Newell


Radiused corners on the Newell slides

Radiused corners on the Newell slides

One of the things that tip off a high-end coach like a Newell or Prevost are the radiused corners on the slide-outs. These rounded corners allow the use of pneumatic slide seals. Once the slide is out, the seals inflate making an airtight seal. Before the slide is retracted the seal deflates and the slide moves freely.

We decided to stay here for three nights before we move on westward. Donna has been mapping routes to keep us off I-40 and finding places to stay as we make our way to New Mexico. She went out this morning to cycle the scenic and quiet 28-mile loop she rode several times earlier this summer.

Last night, Donna prepared pan-seared wild Alaskan salmon. She served it with the left over side dishes from the night before. Delicious!

Pan fried salmon

Pan-seared salmon

Today I’m going to try my hand at smoking a beef brisket. Donna bought one the other day – it’s something I’ve never done before. I’m hoping the Traeger wood pellet fired smoker/grill makes it easy to do.


Natchez Trace

Yesterday morning, we walked across the street to Cracker Barrel for breakfast before pulling out of the Opryland parking lot. We had a quiet night with no disturbances. Our plan was to head south down the Natchez Trace Parkway to the Meriwether Lewis National Monument (map). The monument is operated by the National Park Service (NPS). It’s located just east of Hohenwald, Tennessee and features a free campground with paved roads and 32 paved sites.

Ozark the cat got comfortable on Donna's pillow before she made the bed and we headed out

Ozark the cat got comfortable on Donna’s pillow before Donna made the bed and we headed out

Our route took us around the south side of Nashville on I-440 then south on I-65. We stopped in Franklin at the Walmart to stock up on groceries. Then we detoured west on TN840. This route took us over the Natchez Trace Parkway and we had to loop back to Leipers Fork to access the parkway.

The Natchez Trace is an old forest trail. Some say it’s existed for centuries as a game trail. It was used by native Americans and became a major trail for commerce in the 18th and 19th centuries. The trail runs some 440 miles from Nashville, Tennessee to Natchez, Mississippi and traverses the northwest corner of Alabama.

Thomas Jefferson wanted to connect the Mississippi River frontier with settlements to the north. In 1801, the US Army began blazing and improving the trail. Early settlers in the north referred to as Kaintucks would float their goods down the Mississippi River in flat boats to sell in Natchez. They would sell their goods and their boats and walk the 440-mile trek on the Natchez Trace back north. In 1810, it’s estimated that 10,000 Kaintucks walked up the trace to start another river journey. This led to commerce on the trail. Trading posts commonly called stands appeared. Settlements formed along the trace.

The development of steamboat traffic on the Mississippi river made it easier and cheaper to transport goods. In the late 1800s, the Trace lost its importance as a trade route.

In 1809, Meriwether Lewis, who along with William Clark explored the upper Mississippi and the Northwest, was governor of the Louisiana Territory. He was traveling up the Trace to meet with Thomas Jefferson when he died near Grinder’s Stand. There’s much controversy surrounding his death. It was officially ruled suicide but many believe he was murdered. I read a great historical novel – a work of fiction that incorporates factual history in the story – about the Lewis and Clark expedition and Lewis’ death. I read the book about 20 years ago. I looked for it online but can’t find it. I think the title was Who Killed Meriwether Lewis.

The Natchez Trace Parkway is a paved two-lane highway that follows much of the original trace. There’s limited access – only about 50 access points along its 444 miles. We didn’t realize that at first, but found the access points on the Tennesee map we picked up at the visitor center. The road is operated and maintained by the National Park Service. No commercial vehicles are allowed and the speed limit is 50 mph. The road surface is in great condition. It’s a scenic drive with many historical markers and scenic overlooks. We saw a few gangs of wild turkeys along the road and had two whitetail bucks run out in front of our rig, requiring me to brake hard.

Overlook on the Natchez Trace Parkway

Overlook on the Natchez Trace Parkway

I had looked at Google Earth the night before to see what the Meriwether Lewis National Monument looked like. I was leery of pulling into a park that wouldn’t allow us to get turned around and back out again. The satellite view of the campground was obscured by trees but I could see the main road had a turnaround loop at the end. We pulled off the parkway and entered the monument. When we reached the campground entrance, Donna suggested pulling over in a turnout by the entrance and walking through the campground to check it out before pulling in.

The paved roads through the campground are tight with lots of trees along the sides. There are 32 paved sites, some back-in and some pull-through. Most aren’t level. The sites are well spaced with lots of trees and vegetation separating them. There are two loops. The first loop has 13 sites and was totally unoccupied. The second loop is larger and has a bathroom (no showers). There were only a few campers there. After looking around, we thought it was doable and liked the look of site 8 which is a back-in and site 14, a pull-through.

I backed us into site 8 with Donna directing me with a handheld Cobra CB radio. The site was too short for us by a few feet – once I backed in far enough to clear the road, our slideouts were too close to trees. We pulled out of there and moved to site 14. We easily fit our 56-foot overall length in this site.

Site 14

Site 14

Donna went out for a hike on a trail that leads from the campground to the original Natchez Trace. She was out for about 90 minutes and said she would not recommend the trail for inexperienced hikers or anyone nervous about being alone in the woods. It had a few water crossings and seemed to vanish in the underbrush at times. She returned covered in cobwebs as well as scratches on her lower legs from prickly vegetation. But the trail did lead to some beautiful stretches of river. Here are a couple of pictures from her hike.

Water crossing on the trail

Water crossing on the trail

Little Swan Creek

Little Swan Creek

A park ranger came by later and stopped to chat with us. The park is very clean and quiet – it’s hard to believe it’s free. There are no hook-ups although there is a water spigot between our site and site 15. A reader commented on yesterday’s blog that they had just pulled out of this campground and said the water is really good here.

View from our doorstep

View from our doorstep

I grilled turkey burgers on the Weber Q for dinner. With the special sauce, they were very tasty on toasted onion rolls.

Last night was very dark and quiet. I slept soundly. We’ll hang out here for another night before we head west.


Nashville Talent

On Monday morning, Donna went for a power walk from our site at Nashville Jellystone Park (map). While she was out walking toward the Two Rivers Campground and the Nashville KOA, she saw the downtown shuttle pass by and came up with a plan for the day.

She thought we should roast a whole chicken for a late lunch – kind of a dinner for lunch plate. Then we could take the shuttle to downtown Nashville and see the sights. Sounded like a good idea to me, so I unloaded the Traeger wood pellet fired grill and found a problem. We had traversed some rough roads, especially on I-40 through Knoxville. The Traeger had obviously been bounced around and one of the door hinges came off. The screws had vibrated out and the door was askew, the other hinge was loose. Luckily no real damage was done. I found the screw and nut and reassembled the door.

Donna prepared the chicken by rubbing it with olive oil, salt, pepper and granulated garlic that she bought at Brooks BBQ in Oneonta, New York. She went to the pool for a quick dip while I fired up the Traeger and roasted the chicken. It comes out so moist and tender on this grill – it makes the best chicken you’ll ever have.

Roasted whole chicken hot off the Traeger

Roasted whole chicken hot off the Traeger

Earlier I had scootered over to the Opryland Resort and Convention Center. I wanted to get a look at the bus/RV lot that Donna found mentioned in the Escapee’s Day’s End Directory. The directory said that free overnight parking could be found there. I rode all the way through the lots at the Opry Mills Mall and back through the resort. I saw dedicated bus/RV parking near the Mills, but it was clearly marked “no overnight parking.” In fact, every lot I looked at was posted. On the way back to the campground, I saw another lot at a strip mall that had two RVs and a couple of tractor trailer rigs in it. It looked like it would be fine for dry camping – a big lot and no signs prohibiting overnight parking. The downside was the slope of the pavement and the lot was empty during the day, but there were several bars, restaurants and the Willie Nelson museum in the area. I didn’t know what it would be like at night.

We had reserved two nights at the Jellystone Park for half price on our Passport America discount rate – two nights for $75. A third night would cost another $75. I’m trying to average my costs down by finding free or low-cost sites as we move west. Our trip through the northeast was expensive – we’ve been spending like we’re on vacation. But we wanted to stay one more night in Nashville if we could.

Anyway, the shuttle picked us up at 3pm. There were two other couples already on board from the other RV parks. We made one more stop at a nearby hotel where three women boarded. The drive to downtown took about twenty minutes and the driver talked non-stop, giving advice on what to see and where to eat. The shuttle costs $10 per person for a round trip. The return trip is actually free – they pick up on the bottom of the hour (4:30, 5:30, 6:30, etc.) at the Country Music Hall of Fame. They don’t issue tickets – they work on the assumption that you must have already paid the $10 if you are boarding to go back to the Music Valley area.

Donna and I wanted to check out the music scene on Broadway. There are a few street musicians and many clubs and bars with live entertainment. Most of the places on Broadway don’t have a cover charge. The musicians play for a small fee paid by the bar and tips. They are hoping to get “discovered” by a Nashville recording studio.

Our first glimpse of Broadway was at the corner of 4th and Broadway at the Honky Tonk Central (map).

Honky Tonk Central

Honky Tonk Central

We walked east on Broadway and made our first stop at the Broadway Brewhouse for a cold one. I had a Tennesee-brewed IPA that was pretty good and Donna sampled and then went ahead and ordered a Tennesee-brewed stout that was really good. After leaving there, we continued east on the south side of the street and crossed over to the north side at 2nd Avenue. We saw a man with a trumpet, microphone and small amplifier on the corner. He had backing tracks playing through the amp from his smartphone and was singing “What a Wonderful World.” This guy had Louis Armstrong down. It was uncanny – Donna thought he was lip syncing at first. We hung around for a few songs and dropped some money in his trumpet case. He chatted with us before we moved on. He was a super-nice guy and very talented.

This guy could impersonate Satchmo

This guy could impersonate Satchmo

We walked back west on Broadway, stopping in a few shops to look at western hats and cowboy boots. We stuck our heads in a few bars to see who was playing but we wanted to get a look at everything before we sat down somewhere.

A friend of Donna’s suggested we stop at an off-the-wall place in Printer’s Alley owned by her friend. It’s an English-style pub called Fleet Street Pub. We found it a few blocks north of Broadway. Printer’s Alley is a little off-beat for Nashville, but it has history and charm. We stopped at Fleet Street but the friend of Donna’s friend wasn’t there. Donna chatted briefly with her husband.

Printers Alley

Printer’s Alley

We found a blues club in Printer’s Alley and went inside. A very talented guy was on stage playing Mississippi Delta blues – more specifically he was playing songs by the blues great Leadbelly. He took a short break and came over to where we were sitting. His name is Fritz and he was really friendly. While we chatted with him, a woman who was sitting next to us went up on stage and played the keyboards and sang. It was so cool – these talented musicians are all over the place. After a couple of songs, Fritz joined her and they did some songs together. Fritz was playing a cheap knock-off Chinese guitar, but in his hands it sounded great. Then he picked up a saxophone and wailed on a song accompanying the woman at the keyboard (we didn’t get her name).

Fritz making music

Fritz making music

We wandered back to Broadway and started our pub crawl. We would stop in a place that had live entertainment. If the band caught our fancy, we would order a drink and hang around for a few songs. Other times we listened for a few minutes and moved on. In one place there was a duo that shined. One of the guys guitar playing style reminded me of Stephen Stills. Donna put in a request for Homegrown by Zac Brown. They didn’t really know the song, but they looked it up on an iPad and immediately played and sang a very good rendition. I was blown away.

We finally came back to the Honky Tonk Central for our last stop of the night. It’s a three-story building with a bar and stage on each floor. We stayed on the first floor where one of the hottest bands I’ve heard in a while was playing. The guitar player was amazing and the sound he was getting from his Dr. Z amp was unbelievable. I haven’t heard tone like that since the Joe Bonamassa concert we went to a few years ago.

Hot band at our last stop

Hot band at our last stop

By then I’d downed enough beer and it was time to find the shuttle home.

On Tuesday morning, I got busy re-organizing the trailer – again. I’ve had the Traeger grill in the very back of the trailer, behind the scooter. Donna thought it might be getting a rougher ride back there than it would in the front. I bought into her logic – I could see how the trailer might whip up and down behind the axle over bumpy sections. I took everything out of the right front, next to my tool chest by the side door. I rearranged that stuff and then lifted the Traeger into that area and strapped it in place. We’ll see if it rides better there.

I took my time – check out time was noon and we were only going a few miles. We had everything packed and I fired up the engine at 11:50am. We drove to the lot I had found the day before. There was a bus conversion RV and tractor- trailer rig as well as another semi-trailer parked in the empty lot. We claimed a space between the tractor-trailer and the semi-trailer.

Donna and I walked to the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center. On our way, we saw the lot that was mentioned in the Day’s End Directory. It was marked RV/Bus and Trailer Parking. I had missed this lot on my reconnaissance run earlier. I had passed by it on the west side where there’s a private lot being used by Bridgestone Tire and Rubber Company for high-performance driving classes. I thought the whole area was for Bridgestone.

We walked into the RV/Bus lot and didn’t find any signs prohibiting overnight parking. These signs are posted in all of the other lots on the huge Opryland complex. This lot was level and looked to be very quiet. After some debate and walking back and forth across the lot, we decided to go back to the coach and move it across the street to Opryland. While the lot we were in looked to be a sure thing, I was a little apprehensive about how things might go in the night. It wasn’t level and all the bars in the area could mean lots of noise and the possibility of people getting out of hand in the night.

The RV/Bus lot only had a handful of cars in it and one big truck in our section. The next section over has had a number of tour buses coming and going. It’s very quiet and level.

The Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center houses the largest atrium I’ve ever been in. It has waterfalls and a stream running through it. It’s filled with tropical plants – so many were in bloom that I had an allergy attack. A big New York Life Executive Council meeting was happening there. We wandered around. Donna wanted to take the boat ride in the stream that’s inside the hotel complex, but when she saw it cost $9.50/person, it didn’t seem worth it. I couldn’t capture the grand scale of this place, but here are a few pictures.

Fountains in the atrium

Fountains in the atrium

Stream inside the hotel

Stream inside the hotel

Boat rides through the atrium

Boat rides through the atrium

Donna in front of a waterfall in the atrium

Donna in front of a waterfall in the atrium

We  went to John A’s for dinner, it was only average food at best. Then we stopped at Nashville Palace to take in some live music. Once again many people that appeared to be regular customers got up on stage to join in for a number or two. Lots of talent here. Our overnight spot turned out to be quiet with no troubles.

Today we plan a short trip down the Natchez Trace Trail to the Merriwether Lewis National Monument. We found free dry camping is available there and we hope to take advantage of it before we head west to Memphis.






Fill’er Up

In my last post, I mentioned filling our fuel tank with 50 gallons of diesel fuel at the bargain price of $2.22/gallon on our way to Nashville. If you follow this blog, you probably have noticed that I often mention topping  up our tank with 40 or 50 gallons of fuel. We have a 100-gallon fuel tank, so why do I top off the tank so often? There are a number of reasons.

First of all, I’m the type of guy that likes to have at least a 1/4 tank of fuel in my vehicles at all times. You never know what may come up and stopping for fuel in an emergency situation – like driving someone to a hospital – doesn’t make sense to me. In our motorhome, a quarter tank of fuel isn’t enough. Our Onan 7.5kW Quiet Diesel generator draws fuel from the same tank that supplies our Cummins ISL diesel engine. The generator fuel pick-up is a stand pipe that extends approximately a quarter up into the tank. This means the generator can’t draw fuel if the tank is less than 1/4 full. This is by design – it prevents the operator from running the tank dry with the generator. That way when you dry camp, you’ll always have enough fuel in the tank to drive to a fuel station.

Another reason is moisture in the tank. Diesel fuel is hygroscopic. This means it will attract and hold moisture. The air space in the tank will have a certain amount of moisture in it, depending on temperature fluctuations and humidity. By keeping the tank full or nearly full of fuel, the air space is minimized and less moisture is present. Our main fuel filter is also a water separator. Water stays in the bottom of the filter where there’s a valve to periodically drain any water collected before it can get to the fuel injectors. I check ours from time to time, but I’ve never had a noticeable amount of water in the filter.

When I fill our tank, I treat the fuel with Biobor JF. When moisture is present in diesel fuel, microbial contamination can occur. There are hydrocarbon-utilizing microbes that thrive in the fuel/water interface. They live in the water and feed on the fuel. Biobor is an economical way to combat this. It also adds lubricity to the fuel. Since Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD) was mandated and and implemented at the end of 2010, diesel fuel doesn’t have the same lubricating properties it had before. ULSD has 15 ppm sulfur, previously it was 500 ppm. Fuel companies are supposed to blend lubricating additives in the fuel, but I like the peace of mind knowing that the Biobor adds lubricity.

Most of the time, I buy diesel fuel at a Pilot/Flying J travel center. I like knowing that I can pull into the trucker lane and have plenty of room to maneuver. I’ve read that most RV collision insurance claims occur in gas stations – people try to maneuver a large rig in a tight space and end up hitting something. I also like the high-speed nozzles at the trucker lane. I can pump 50 gallons in less than 5 minutes. I have a Pilot/Flying J RV Plus card that is a fuel credit card. I swipe the card at the pump – it automatically adjusts the price to seven cents below the advertised cash price and I can pump up to $1,000 of fuel. Most fuel stations will only allow $100 on a credit card. It’s a pain when you have the swipe your card, then go inside and give your card to the cashier to complete the fill-up.

Lately, I’ve been planning ahead for fuel stops. I have an app on my phone called TruckerPath that shows me all of the truck stops along my route. I also look at a web site called TruckMilesThis site shows daily average fuel prices by state. We’re in Tennessee now and will head to Memphis in a couple of days. We’ll probably overnight in West Memphis, Arkansas like we did on our way east. TruckMiles shows Tennessee diesel fuel prices average 10 cents/gallon less than Arkansas – so I should fill my tank before I leave Tennessee and enter Arkansas.

The last thing I look at when I plan my fuel stop is the Pilot/Flying J fuel price chart. I look at their prices and I also pay attention to the column showing the intended bio blend. Nowadays, a lot of diesel fuel is blended with bio-mass based fuel – it’s not all petroleum-based. Our generation (CAPS era) Cummins ISL engine is approved for up to 10% bio blend. The Pilot/Flying J chart shows the intended blend ( I think this is lawyer speak as they don’t guarantee the exact percentage). Bio blended fuel is noted with a “B” number – B5 is 5% bio, B10 is 10% bio and so on. Bio content in the fuel adds lubricity, but bio-mass based fuels are less stable than petroleum-based fuel. They also are more prone to attract and hold moisture. My preference is for B5 or less bio content. In some areas, such as Minnesota, it’s hard to find diesel fuel that’s less than B20. Again, by filling my tank when it’s half full, if I have to pump B20 into my tank, I’m cutting the percentage down by mixing it with the existing fuel in my tank.

That’s probably more than you ever wanted to know about filling up with diesel fuel. But if you read this far, it may help you decide where and what fuel to put in your tank.

We’ll head into town today, but first I need to get on the roof and reset my satellite antenna for the western arc satellites. I wrote about that here.

Ozark the Travelin’ Cat

After my last post, a blog follower named Daniel asked, “What’s up with the cat? Do you still have her?” The answer is yes, we still have and adore her and she’s become quite the traveler. At first she she was over-stimulated by travel – all of the new sounds and seeing the world flash by had her edgy. It was difficult for all of us. She would dash around the coach and be very vocal. We worried about her hurting herself and also I had concerns when she would jump up on the dash and distract me or block my vision of the side view mirrors.

Before we left Hollister, Missouri I rode the scooter to Branson and bought a cat carrier/crate which we knew we would need to take her to get spayed. After a day of travel, we decided it was best for all of us if Ozark the cat traveled in her crate. I’m happy to report that after a couple of months of travel, Ozark has accepted her crate and travels quietly in it. She doesn’t fight Donna when she’s put into her crate and usually grooms herself once inside before napping for hours. Ozark seems to have adjusted very well and seems to enjoy finding herself in new surroundings on a regular basis.

Ozark attacking a catnip toy mouse

Ozark attacking a catnip toy mouse

We changed our surroundings again on Saturday, but not until after Donna took a hike on the Seven Sisters Trail. She found a variety of mushrooms on her hike – we’re not mushroom experts so she didn’t pick any. We don’t know if they’re poisonous or possibly hallucinogenic. Wouldn’t that make a memorable meal! Here are a few photos from her hike. Unfortunately the spectacular views mentioned on websites weren’t evident due to heavy foliage.


At the summit

Something took a bite of one

Something took a bite of one

Looks harmless

Looks harmless

Hmmm... is it edible

Hmmm… is it edible?

I wouldn't try these

I wouldn’t try these.

We left Stony Fork Campground in Jefferson National Forest around 10:30am. Our route took us southwest through Bristol. We saw many road signs warning of heavy traffic and stoppages. These were due to the NASCAR race at the Bristol short track scheduled for Saturday night. We came through by noon and didn’t have any traffic hassles.

The drive through the Smokey Mountains was pleasant. On a tip from the Escapees Days End Directory, Donna had already contacted the management of a restaurant in Crossville and secured permission for overnight parking in their RV/truck lot. I looked at my trucker app and found a Pilot/Flying J station only a few miles away that had diesel fuel for $2.29/gallon. With my Pilot/Flying J Rewards card I would get a seven cent discount making our cost just $2.22/gallon – the least expensive fuel we’ve bought since we hit the road over two years ago!

Before we reached Crossville, I saw a sign for truck/RV wash ahead. Our coach is so dirty, I haven’t been able to wash it properly since we were in Michigan. The road grime was bad enough, but then the rain while we were in gravel/dirt sites in New York splashed more dirt up the sides of the coach. I couldn’t stand it. We stopped at a Blue Beacon truck wash. A crew of about eight guys went at it with pressure washers. I opted for the full treatment – wash, under carriage, Rain X treatment and citrus alloy wheel cleaner. I was amazed at how they were choreographed as a team and got it done in no time at all. The full treatment cost $77 and I think it was money well spent. The coach looks good, the alloy wheels gleam and I’m happy. This is the least expensive (other than doing it myself) RV wash I’ve had.

Waiting to enter the Blue Beacon wash bay

Waiting to enter the Blue Beacon wash bay

We found the Shoney’s restaurant and their gravel RV/truck lot. After circling the lot a few times like a dog looking to lay down, we decided on a fairly level spot. Donna felt a need to pay back for the free parking and went out to pick up litter. She ended up filling six bags! One of the guys taking care of the lawn expressed his appreciation of her effort.

Clean and shiny in Shoney's lot

Clean and shiny in Shoney’s lot

We went inside and had dinner in Shoney’s. Not my favorite food and not a choice Donna would usually make, but when they offer free overnight RV parking, we feel like we should patronize their establishment.

Breakfast will be another Shoney’s meal, then we’ll head onward another 110 miles to Nashville where we’ll relax, find live music and good beer for a few days. Of course rain drops are falling on our clean and shiny rig this morning.

Keep Out of Lowes

We were packed up early and ready to hit the road by 9:30am Friday morning. This was good timing – late enough to miss the Washington, DC rush hour traffic from Cherry Hill Park, but early enough to get a head start on the day’s travel.

We followed the I-495 Beltway west and south until we crossed into Virginia and came to I-66. The traffic wasn’t bad, but drivers made idiotic moves like changing lanes at the last instant for an exit or trying to weave their way through traffic at ridiculous speeds. We stayed out of trouble and eventually, westbound I-66 led us to a more rural setting with fewer cars.

Our next junction put us on a southwesterly course on I-81. This is a nice road with good pavement and beautiful scenery as you traverse the Shenandoah Valley. We had the Blue Ridge Mountains to our east and the Appalachians to the west. I thoroughly enjoyed driving this stretch of road.

Our original plan was to stop for the day in Buena Vista, Virginia at a Passport America RV park. After fueling up at the Pilot/Flying J in Raphine at exit 205, we decided to push on. The fuel cost was a very reasonable $2.43/gallon. We drove through Roanoke and thought we would stop at the Walmart in Dublin for the night. But the Walmart in Dublin is posted “No Overnight Parking.” Local ordinance strikes again.

Our Rand-McNally GPS shows RV parking along the route. Usually it won’t show Walmarts that aren’t okay to park in. Of course, local ordinances are always subject to change. We pushed on to Wytheville where there’s another Walmart. Donna phoned ahead and she was told the Walmart store doesn’t own the parking lot – the town owns it and they may issue a ticket for overnight parking. Having said that, she added that we would probably be okay if we parked by their lawn and garden center.

We stopped at the Walmart in Wytheville and it didn’t look good. It was posted and the lot wasn’t all that big. There was a large lot at Lowes next to Walmart but they were obviously not RV friendly. Every entrance to their lot had a steel bar on posts 12 feet high to prevent any vehicle over 12 feet (RVs and trucks) from entering. Their lot was less than half full, but they didn’t want us in there. I made a decision today that I won’t be shopping at Lowes any more.

Keep out

Keep out of Lowes

We parked in an empty lot by Walmart and went in to buy a few things. After looking at our options, we decided to try a U.S. National Forest campground that Donna that found in the Escapees Day’s End Directory.

We drove about 9 miles to Stony Fork Campground (map). This campground has 53 paved sites arranged around a paved loop. The paved loop is narrow. Getting our trailer backed into a site was going to be tricky. We drove around the loop and all of the easily accessible sites were either taken or reserved. We finally decided to give it a shot at site 43. Donna got out to direct me on our Cobra 38 WX ST handheld CB  and I saw a neighbor come out to watch the show. I’m sure we disappointed him when we backed into the site in one shot!

Our spot for the night

Our spot for the night

We covered about 350 miles today and I was tired. The site we’re in isn’t level – it’s low in the rear. Too low to really get the coach level. I got it as close as I dared and called it good. Raising the rear too high risks having the rear tires off the ground. The parking brake works on the rear wheels – if the rear tires aren’t in contact with the ground, there isn’t a parking brake. Once we settled in (I didn’t hook up – we’re dry camping), we walked back to the entrance to fill out a pay envelope and pay the fee for the night. There was an interesting sign at the pay station.

Bear activity

Bear activity

Campsite map

Campsite map

We had dinner for lunch yesterday (leftover asiago chicken sausage with roasted pepper, black rice with mango and black-eyed peas, and green beans with sliced almonds), so we decided to have lunch for dinner last night. Donna made a salad with the last of the baby field greens she got at the farmers’ market in Bolton Landing, NY and topped it with cherry tomatoes, marinated artichoke hearts, feta cheese, black-eyed peas, deli turkey meat, kalamata olives and dolmas (grape leaves stuffed with seasoned rice).

Our dinner salad

Our dinner salad

We’re at an elevation of about 2,600 feet above sea level. The temperature is cooler than we’ve had in a while. We slept with the windows open and it’s a cool, but comfortable 66 degrees in the coach as I type this at 7am. Meanwhile, Donna is out hiking the Seven Sisters Trail. When she returns in a couple of hours, we’ll pack up and hit the road.

Today we plan to drive to Crossville, Tennessee. Donna found a Shoney’s restaurant there that offers free overnight RV parking in a gravel lot adjacent to the restaurant. This will set us up close to Nashville where we want to spend a few days.

Washington DC

We had the jacks up and I lit the fires on the Cummins ISL by 10:30am on Wednesday. Our route was only 80 miles to Cherry Hill Park in College Park, Maryland (map). We drove down US15 from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to I-270. It was an easy drive until we hit the I-495 Beltway at North Bethesda. Then the traffic picked up considerably and drivers were were making crazy maneuvers trying to gain a minute or two on their way.

I maintained a decent gap between our coach and other vehicles as best I could. I always say driving a 34,000 pound rig is high-performance driving regardless of speed. You need to be aware of your situation at all times. I check my mirrors frequently and think about emergency maneuvers. I also try to keep an eye on the big picture ahead so I can spot trouble before I’m on top of it.

We checked in at the Cherry Hill Park around 1pm. This was good timing as we wanted a pull-through site. They don’t take reservations for pull-throughs – it’s first come, first served. We were assigned to site 1711 all the way at the back of the park. It’s about a half-mile from the office and store to our site. The bus stop is also in front of the office – half a mile from our site.

Our main reason for coming to the Washington, DC area was to visit my youngest daughter, Shauna. She’s living in DC now that she’s graduated law school and  has taken a job with a law firm here.

Shauna took the metro and bus to the park and joined us for dinner. I had chicken leg quarters on the Traeger wood fired pellet grill and we dined al fresco at the picnic table outside our coach.

Dinner outside our coach

Dinner outside our coach

Treager grilled chicken keg quarter, black rice with mango and black eyed peas.

Treager grilled chicken leg quarter, black rice with mango and black-eyed peas

After dinner and conversation, Shauna and Donna made the trek to the bus stop at the park entrance. Shauna was carrying her Tacoma acoustic guitar that we’ve had on board since she left San Diego. She needed to catch the bus before 9pm or it might be dicey for her to make it home.

On Thursday morning, Donna and I were up early and ready for a day on the town. We walked to the bus stop. I had two, large, framed antique photos under my arm. These were keepsakes from a trip Shauna and I made to Europe. The photos were taken at the Cinqua Terra region of Italy – Monterosso and Vernazza (link). Shauna will display these in her apartment here.

The bus took us to the College Park metro rail. We took the rail into DC and exited at U Street. We had a choice of walking one direction to 10th Street or the other way to 13th Street. We started walking to 10th Street. Then we got a text that Shauna was waiting at 13th Street since her place was on 14th Street. We managed to hook up after a few blocks of walking.

After a tour of her apartment and depositing the artwork, we went up on the roof of her building. It has a spectacular view of DC. Her apartment is very small – I would say the square footage isn’t much more than we have in the coach. Her bathroom is larger, the bedroom and living room not so much. There are amenities – a workout room, rooftop barbeque grill and tables, etc – that come with the apartment. This is what $2,000/month gets you in DC.

We decided to walk to the Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue. It was about two miles away. It was nearly noon and we were hungry so we decided to make a stop about half-way in the Chinatown district. We had Chinese food for lunch – not the finest, but it was okay.

We finally made it to the Newseum. The Newseum is an interactive museum of journalism and TV shows depicting newsworthy events and the journalists that covered them. It’s a seven-level building – one down from street level and six up – with 250,000 square feet of exhibits. We walked for three hours and couldn’t see it all. My highlights were the Vietnam War coverage – I can remember so vividly seeing the war coverage as an 11 or 12-year-old. I would come home from school on my lunch break and watch the latest coverage on TV. The other item I really liked was the Berlin Wall. The wall coming down in the 1989 was a big deal. Then there’s the 9-11 display, including pieces of the Twin Towers. I didn’t take many photos inside thinking I’m in a museum, then I realized others were taking pictures.

National Gallery viewed from the top of Newseum

National Gallery viewed from the top of Newseum

Looking up Pennsylvania Avenue from the Newseum

Looking up Pennsylvania Avenue from the Newseum

Federal Trade Comission library

Federal Trade Commission library

The wall separating West Germany from East Germany shows the stark reality of the difference between democracy and communism. Although it was illegal to deface the west side of the wall – it was on East German property – many people tagged the wall in protest. On the east side, this was unthinkable.

West side of wall tagged

West side of wall tagged

Barren east side

Barren east side

After we left the Newseum, we had a beer stop, then made our way to the National Mall. Much of the area east of the Washington Monument is being refurbished. They are shoring up the soil and replanting the turf. This won’t be complete until the end of 2016. The dome on the United States Capitol Building is also being refurbished with a timeline that should have it done by the time our next president is inaugurated.

Mall under renovation in front of the Washington Monument

Mall under renovation in front of the Washington Monument

Scaffolding on the capitol dome

Scaffolding on the capitol dome – that must be the Canadian Embassy next to us

I was getting foot-weary by this time and we headed to the Metro station. At the U Street stop, we said our goodbyes. It’s always tough – I don’t know when I’ll have to opportunity to see and spend time with my daughter again. We took a selfie in the hot, humid station.

Metro station selfie

Metro station selfie

We did some walking

We did some walking – my S-Health record of the day

We’ll be back to winging it tomorrow. We have a general direction in mind – we’ll probably head down I-81 through Virginia, maybe meander into North Carolina and then head west into Tennessee.




I unloaded the scooter after posting to the blog yesterday. Donna went out for a walk while I was at it. When Donna returned, we rode the scooter from Artillery Ridge Camping Resort to Historic Gettysburg.



On the way to town, we rode through the Gettysburg National Military Park, then we stopped at the battlefield on the east side of Baltimore Pike. The battlefield is a park with monuments, statues and restored cannons from the Civil War. Most of the area is preserved with fence lines and fields much as they were in 1863.

Major General Oliver Memorial

Major General Oliver O. Howard Memorial

Major General Winfield Scott Hancock

Major General Winfield Scott Hancock

Donna overlooking part of the battlefield

Donna overlooking part of the battlefield

We left the scooter in the free parking lot at the Gettysburg Tour Center. You can buy a ticket and take bus tours of the various battlefields and monuments there. Donna and I aren’t into organized group tours. We may miss some of the sights, but we prefer to move at our own pace and decide where to spend our time.

We walked past the Jennie Wade House. Jennie Wade was the only direct civilian casualty of the Battle of Gettysburg when a stray bullet struck her while she was in the kitchen making biscuits for soldiers. She was 20 years old.

We continued walking and went to see the Gettysburg Diorama. It’s in an old building on Steinwehr Avenue. It was hot and humid out, but we enjoyed walking through the quaint old village. Although the area is geared toward tourists, it still has the small village feel.

We had free tickets for the diorama courtesy of the campground. The owners of Artillery Ridge Camping Resort also happen to own the Gettysburg Diorama and a few other attractions in town. The Gettysburg Diorama is the largest military diorama in the country. We arrived just in time for the 11am show. I took a few pictures before the show began.




The diorama recreates the town and surrounding 6,000 acres as it appeared during the battle in July 1863. It contains over 20,000 hand-painted soldiers, horses, cannons and buildings. For the show, we sat in a small three-row bleacher along with a few other people. The show has light and sound effects and video displays as a narrator takes you through the events of July 1st, 2nd and 3rd, 1863 which comprised the Battle of Gettysburg. The narrative was comprehensive, describing the ebb and flow of the fight. There were more than 46,000 casualties including nearly 8,000 killed in the three-day battle.

After the 20-minute show, we walked back up the street to the Dobbin House for lunch. This is the oldest standing structure in Gettysburg. It was built by Reverend Alexander Dobbin in 1776. Today it houses a tavern serving lunch in the spring cellar and a dinner restaurant upstairs. We had lunch in the tavern. Donna had a French onion soup and spinach salad with hot bacon dressing. I had a reuben sandwich washed down with IPA from Troegs Brewery in nearby Hershey, Pennsylvania. The IPA was excellent – citrusy and spicy.

Dobbin House

Dobbin House

Sign on the street

One of many historical markers on the street

We walked around a little more, then made our way back to the scooter. On the way home, I first stopped at a pizza restaurant to buy Yuengling beer. Yuengling traditional lager is a low alcohol (4.4% ABV) beer brewed in the pre-prohibition style. Yuengling is America’s oldest brewery. Here in Pennsylvania, they have weird alcohol laws. You can buy beer at a distributor, but you must buy a case at a time. Anything less than a case can only be bought at a restaurant that has a beer license. Grocery stores only have watered down 3.2% ABV beer.

We made another stop past the campground at a vegetable and fruit stand and bought fresh corn on the cob that they said was just picked two hours earlier. We also bought some really juicy plums and peaches.

When we came back to our site, Donna headed for the pool. She didn’t make it far before she heard thunder and returned to the coach as it started raining.

Roomy uphill site 422

Roomy uphill site 422

We hung out inside and read. For dinner, I dodged a couple of showers and grilled sausage and corn on the cob. Donna served it with sauteed asparagus, peppers and onions with grated parmesan cheese.

Sausage, corn and asparagus plate

Sausage, corn and asparagus plate

I need to get busy and load the scooter. Today we’ll move about 80 miles to Cherry Hill Park in College Park, Maryland – just north of Washington D.C. I’m hoping my youngest daughter, Shauna, can join us for dinner tonight. Tomorrow we’ll take the train into DC and have a look around. We’ve been to all of the big monuments before, so we may take in the Newseum this time.




Long Wait for a Quick Fix

We took our time getting ready to move yesterday. I went into the Cabela’s store in Hamburg, Pennsylvania after spending the night in their lot. I bought a pair of lightweight trail runner shoes. Donna went for walk in the neighborhood.

We changed up our plan and decided to spend a couple of nights at an RV park in Gettysburg before heading to D.C. We reserved two nights with our Passport America discount at the Artillery Ridge Camping Resort three miles from historic Gettysburg (map). We were preparing to leave around 10am.

After pulling the slides in, I retracted the HWH leveling jacks. The parking lot at Cabela’s sloped and I had the jacks well extended. I felt the coach shudder as the jacks came up and Donna heard a noise back in the bedroom. She said to me, “Did you hear that? Do they always make that sound or is it because I’m standing back here?” I didn’t know what she was asking about because I didn’t hear anything in the front of the coach.

I went outside to walk around the coach and look everything over. When I circled around the right rear, I saw a problem. I could see the ram from the hydraulic jack extended down within an inch of the pavement. The pad that should be on the end of the ram was dangling from one spring, the other spring was missing.

I used my push broom as a pry-bar in an effort to push the ram back up. I couldn’t budge it – I only succeeded in bending the broom handle. We were in trouble. We couldn’t roll down the road with the ram extended like that. I needed help.

We have a roadside assistance plan with Coach-Net. Apparently, Monday mornings are a busy time to call. I used Coach-Net once before and they were very good, but like all call centers, they have their issues. I was on hold for nearly 10 minutes before I talked to someone.

When you call, the first person you talk to goes through a verification process including all of the vehicle info and personal info that’s already on file. This took another 10 minutes. Then they document the problem description and turn the case over to their technical people. I advised the woman that technical assistance over the phone wasn’t going to help. I knew what needed to be done – I just didn’t have a big enough pry bar or a second set of hands. She said she had to turn the call over to a technician before they could have someone come to the coach. Then the call got disconnected.

I called back and got right through this time. I explained what just happened. She put me on hold for a moment, then came back on the line and said she checked with their technical department and everyone was on the line with a customer – she would mark my case “priority” and I would get a call back.

Donna called the campground in Gettysburg and told them we might have to cancel due to mechanical issues. They said they would hold our site until we called later in the afternoon and told them whether we could make it or not. They were very nice about it.

I sat back and read a book with the generator running and air conditioners on. It was already in the upper 80s and humid out. About a half hour later, I got the call from the technician. He said he would find a mobile service in our area and call me back with a name and ETA. I waited another 30 minutes – by now it was one and half hours since my initial call. So I called them back again. The guy told me he was working on finding someone that could come to my location – I needed to sit tight. After another 30 minutes, he called and said he had someone that could do the work. It would take 90 minutes for them to get to me. I thanked him and sat back with my book. It was 12:30pm and I didn’t expect help until 2pm.

I went outside to look for the MIA spring. I found it – it had shot straight up and jammed in the chassis. It wasn’t broken, but it had come off the tab on the jack pad. I had repaired this pad when we were in Bakersfield last year. The tab was bent and I straightened it as best I could, but it wasn’t right.

I was surprised to see a service truck with an Onsite Fleet Repair logo on the side pull up next to us at 1pm. I started putting my shoes on when I saw the driver on his cell phone. My cell phone began ringing. I answered and told him he was right outside our door. By then, there were more than a dozen RVs in the Cabela’s lot.

The driver and his sidekick got out and introduced themselves. I showed them the problem. He removed the jack pad and went into the rolling workshop in the back of his truck. He had a large vise and was able to quickly straighten the bent tab. The other guy took a long pry bar and a block of wood to the ram. I opened the manual valve on the solenoid so the fluid could pass back to reservoir as he pried the ram up. Once he had the ram up, he used the pry bar to extend the spring. The first guy grabbed the end of the spring while it was tensioned by the pry bar and guided the end into the mounting tab. I couldn’t bear to watch. If the spring slipped from the pry bar while he had his hand around the end, the heavy spring would likely take off a finger or two. They had it in place with no trouble and we were back in business.

I extended and retracted the jack a couple of times to make sure the spring would hold. All was good. Coach-Net covered the dispatch and travel time for the mobile repair. I had to pay their minimum labor cost of $90.

We were on our way by 2pm and expected to be in Gettysburg by 4pm. I stopped at the Flying J truck stop at exit 10 on I-81. All of the pumps had trucks at them. I lined up behind a truck and waited. It took him about 15 minutes to fill up and pull forward. I took on 50 gallons of fuel with two high speed nozzles in about 5 minutes. The fuel cost $2.75/gallon with my Pilot/Flying J discount card. The truck that was fueling ahead of me only pulled forward far enough for me to get to the pump. I couldn’t move until he moved. After five minutes, I walked up to the cab of the truck. It was empty – the guy had gone into the store! There wasn’t anyone behind me so I was considering backing out of the lane. Just as I made the decision to do so, Donna saw the guy return to his truck. He pulled out and we followed. This turned out to be a 30-minute fuel stop.

We turned onto I-83 at Harrisburg and the traffic slowed to a crawl. Donna saw a lighted sign that said be prepared to stop – traffic incident at mile post 7 on PA581. Our route was taking us across PA581. It was stop and go for more than five miles.

Traffic Jam

Traffic jam

When we finally made it to mile post 7, we saw the incident. We were heading westbound. The blockage was a wreck on the eastbound side of the highway. The five-mile backup on the westbound side was entirely due to drivers stopping and gawking at an overturned tractor-trailer rig and a wrecked Cadillac Escalade on the other side of the divided highway!

We found the Artillery Ridge Camping Resort around 5pm and checked in quickly. Our site is spacious but it isn’t level. I used pads under the rear jacks after dumping the air from our suspension and it’s still an uphill walk from the bedroom to the front of the coach. We’ll live with it.

I was ready for a cocktail. It hadn’t been the best day, but like Sean Welsh (Our Odyssey) says, “These are first-world problems.” There are people all over the world coping with much worse situations. Donna made her famous crab cakes for dinner. They were delicious.

Crab cakes

Crab cakes

We want to go sightseeing in Gettysburg this morning. Thunderstorms are forecast for this afternoon.