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.
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.
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).