Category Archives: New York

Days Five and Six – Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

My alarm waking me at 4:25am and heading out to the Balloon Fiesta Park before 5am has turned the past few days into a blur. I’m having a hard time recalling the individual events as the days seem like one long continuum. We have breakfast at the Pilots’ Pavilion, then meet up with our balloon team at the pilots’ briefing before setting up the day’s launch. After we launch the balloon, we jump into vehicles and chase the balloon. Once the balloon lands, we disassemble it and head back to park for a tailgate party (even though it’s not even noon by then).

In my last post I mentioned the competition to drop a bean bag on a target. I left out a photo of a line of balloons descending over the park trying to be the closest to the target. Here’s the photo.

Lined up to drop on the target

Lined up to drop on the target

Yesterday (Wednesday) was day five of the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. Donna took a pass on crewing – she had a deadline to meet and a book signing scheduled for the evening. No competition was scheduled on this day – the featured event was the Flight of the Nations Mass Ascension. This showcases the international participants from countries around the world. The balloons representing the visiting countries go up in the first wave flying the flag of the country they represent.

Balloon representing Mexico

Balloon representing Mexico

Balloon representing Dubai in the center - I think the other balloon represented Ireland

Balloon representing Dubai in the center – I think the other balloon represented Ireland

I described partially inflating the balloon with a fan powered by a gasoline engine before using the propane burners to fully inflate the envelope and stand it upright in a previous post. A picture’s worth a thousand words, so here’s a photo of the fan used by our crew.

Inflator fan

Inflator fan

We had the balloon airborne after the international pilots were up.

Hearts A'Fire up, up and away

Hearts A’Fire up, up and away

The wind direction was different than what we had previously experienced. We chased west across the Rio Grande River, then north through Corrales (map). We ended up in an area called Rio Rancho. Hearts A’Fire was coming down on top of a hill in an area of affluent housing. I looked at Google maps on my smartphone as we tried to find a way to meet our balloon before it was earthbound. We scrambled up a dirt road running between million dollar homes. One of the crew members named Alex – a young, strong, local fireman – and I jumped out of the SUV and ran through the brush. We hit a muddy patch, then arrived on another dirt road just as Brad had the basket touching down. We quickly grabbed the basket and put all of our weight on it to stop it. Another successful flight!

Along the way our pilot, Brad, had lowered the balloon into the Rio Grande River – that’s right, they did the splash and dash! He had two passengers on board, both representatives of his corporate sponsor (Cottonwood Mall) and they had wet feet. They were thrilled.

This morning (Thursday) Donna was up and ready with me. There was another competition today, so we launched offsite. After much debate among a few of Brad’s fellow pilots, we launched from an industrial park just west of the balloon fiesta RV park. The wind was fickle. The morning briefing and Dawn Patrol flight didn’t offer much insight into which direction the balloons could expect to go.

The event of the day was the Special Shape Rodeo. While we were out looking for a suitable offsite launch point, the special shaped balloons were launching from the field. There’s just about every character and shape you can think of.

Special shape balloons

Special shape balloons

The task for the competition today was to fly over the field and drop a ring over a pole. The wind was unreadable as the special shape balloons were going in every direction at very low speeds. Almost all of the balloon pilots guessed wrong and didn’t come anywhere near the field. I heard only three came close enough to attempt to drop a ring.

Our balloon went southwest. As we chased, we saw an interesting landing. There was a small park southwest of the field. As you go further south from there, downtown Albuquerque looms. For out-of-town pilots, the park seems like their last chance before they head into the downtown area with little to no landing opportunities. We were stopped on Osuna Road following the progress of Hearts A’Fire when we saw a small teardrop shaped balloon dropping quickly toward the park. The pilot must have been panicked about missing his last chance. He hit the field hard and the basket tumbled on its side as the balloon dragged it across the grass. A number of people in the park ran to the balloon and grabbed the basket, stopping it from moving any further. I hope the pilot wasn’t injured – it looked like a hard jolt.

Brad brought Hearts A’Fire down a few miles south of that park – local knowledge is king. He set down in a small lot next to a recycling center only a couple of miles from our coach! We arrived on scene just as he was about to touch down and ran from our chase vehicle to secure the balloon.

After we packed up the balloon, everyone returned to park to tailgate. The kids are off school Thursday and Friday for fall break. We had a lot of kids belonging to the crew at the park. I took over the grilling duties and grilled brats for the adults and hot dogs for the kids. We had a table full of food and, of course, the usual mimosas and beer for the adults.

First-time balloon passengers traditionally have a ceremony after their flight. Brad always goes through this ritual with first timers. Today was no different. I won’t go into detail of the ritual for fear of spoiling for a future first-timer. I’ll only say it involves the telling of the origin of first hot air balloon flight, champagne and an initiation to the world of ballooning.

Tailgating at the Balloon Fiesta Park

Tailgating at the Balloon Fiesta Park

10_08BFTG2

10_08BFTG3

First-timer ceremony

First-timer ceremony

Today the weather was much cooler than we’ve had. I don’t think we saw 70 degrees. The good news is we’ve been able to fly balloons every day so far. Tomorrow’s forecast looks good. Let’s hope we keep the streak alive.

For some great photography and another perspective on the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, you may want to click this link to Nina’s post at Wheeling It.

Winging It to DC

Sunday was a travel day. After three straight nights of poor sleep, I was tired and a little grumpy as we made our preparations to leave. I was hoping for an early start – we were shooting for 9am. It took longer than usual to put away the hoses and power cord because everything was a mess from the rain the night before. I cleaned the pine needles and dirt from everything as I was packing it.

It was 9:45am by the time I had the tanks dumped and flushed, slides in and jacks up. We said our goodbyes to Tommy and Linda and squeezed our way out of our narrow site. Maneuvering a 40′ motorhome through Lake George Escape Campground is challenging, but we made our way slowly out of the park without incident.

Our route took us down the Northway (I-87) toward Albany, New York. We followed Route 20 west for 15 miles and then continued west on the lightly traveled I-88. This road has stretches of smooth pavement broken up by some of the worst, bone-jarring interstate anywhere. We stopped at a rest area and Donna made wraps for lunch with leftover pork kabob meat and veggies.

The route led us to I-81 south where we crossed into Pennsylvania. We stopped at the visitor center after crossing the border and picked up a free state map. We like having up-to-date paper maps as well as all of the electronic conveniences.

This route was hilly as we crossed the Pocono Mountains. Traffic was heavy through the cities of Scranton and Wilkes-Barre. Drivers entering the interstate around here tend to brake and look for an opening rather than accelerate and blend in. It makes for some hairy situations at times. I followed a tractor-trailer rig most of the time through the congested areas.

We left the interstate and drove down PA309 – a poor road surface pocked with potholes – through the town of Tamaqua. We continued down PA895, which is a much better road. We rattled over so many bumps, the butcher block knife holder (minus the knives) and Keurig coffeemaker slid several feet across the kitchen counter and to the floor. In 12,000 miles of driving this rig, this has never happened before. In the future, we’ll have to secure these things better.

We arrived at Cabela’s retail store in Hamburg, Pennsylvania around 4:30pm (map). The parking lot has a large area reserved for RVs. There were several rigs here when we arrived. It also has a corral and horse walking area as well as temporary dog kennels for people who want to let their dog out while they shop.

Donna and I shopped around in the store, then walked over to Pizza Hut. We don’t usually get our pizza from Pizza Hut, but it wasn’t bad. After dinner, I downloaded the Moto GP race from the Czech Republic. It was a good race, but the download used up 2.5GB of data. Donna walked back to the store and caught the tail end of weekend-long canine agility competition in which the trainer tosses a ball into a pool and the dog jumps off the dock after it. After the store closed at 7pm, many of the RVs pulled out. Only five of us stayed overnight.

RV lot at Cabela's

RV lot at Cabela’s

Today will be hot – expected temperatures will be in the 90s. We’ll come up with a plan this morning and continue on our way. Up until now, we’ve just been winging our way toward Washington, D.C.

 

Lunch on the Lake

I didn’t post Saturday morning as I had much to do. So, I’m writing this post Saturday evening and will share it Sunday morning.

On Friday, Donna’s sister Pam and her husband Gene came down from Lake Placid. Shortly after they arrived, we went to the farmers’ market at Bolton Landing. Pam and Gene rode with Donna’s other sister Linda and her husband Tom. Donna and I scootered over to Bolton Landing. It was about a 10-mile ride over the hill to Diamond Point, then up along Lake George to Bolton (map).

The farmers’ market was fairly sizable and had a number of interesting vendors. One of the booths had the largest assortment of mushrooms I’ve ever seen. They also had “Shroom Shakers” which are small spice shakers with powdered mushrooms. Donna bought the pioppino mushroom shaker. I’m not sure what she plans to do with it.

Some of the mushroom selection

Some of the mushroom selection

It was nearly 1pm by the time we got there. I didn’t have the best night’s sleep and was out of bed before 6am. I was hungry when we started shopping around at the market and feeling the lack of quality sleep. After 40 minutes of browsing, I was ready to move on and find lunch. It was like herding cats to get everyone interested in lunch and figuring out where we were going.

We went about a mile away to a restaurant called Algonquin (map). Donna and I arrived first and snagged a table on the lower deck which is barely above the Lake George water level. We enjoyed a good meal and lots of conversation. Although it was a warm and sunny day, sitting outside on the water was pleasant.

Linda. Tommy, Gene, Pam and Donna on the Algonquin deck

Linda. Tommy, Gene, Pam and Donna on the Algonquin deck

After lunch, Donna and I scootered over to the Price Chopper market in Warrensburg before we headed back to the campground. I broke down and bought Dogfish IPA made in Delaware. I just can’t appreciate the New York IPAs. I relaxed for a while. The Prednisone I’m taking to counteract an allergic reaction is playing havoc with my stomach. That’s why I didn’t sleep well the night before.

We gathered at Tom and Linda’s place for happy hour. We swapped a few jokes and stories before Tom grilled burgers for dinner. We sat outside until about 10pm before we called it a day.

During the night, Donna had to call security at 2:30am. There was a group of people whooping it up outdoors somewhere in the vicinity of our site. Sometimes, in places like this, you get city people out for the weekend. They rent a cabin on the property – they’re not RVers and have no clue of RV park etiquette. Even after a visit from the campground security, they partied on until 4am. Shame on the campground management.

On Saturday morning, I wanted to prepare for our move day on Sunday. The weather forecast was calling for thundershowers after midday. So I wanted to have things packed away while everything was dry. The temperature rose quickly and it was very humid out. Donna went for a hike up Hackensack Mountain and hiked the trail in the opposite direction from the first time she hiked there about a week ago.

While Donna was out hiking, I deflated our Sea Eagle kayak and packed it away. I took some time to reorganize some of the items in our cargo trailer. It was worth the time and effort – I’m pleased with the results. I ended up working for a few hours and took the windshield covers down and packed away our chairs and the outdoor carpet. When Donna returned, she helped with the awning. I had her working the switch to pull the awning in a short distance at a time. Then I would use my push broom to sweep the tree debris from the awning so it wouldn’t get rolled up in the fabric. This was a slow process and I’m feeling it in my arms and shoulders.

All those passes back and forth along the 19′ foot awning with a heavy broom was a workout. I’ve been working on my upper body strength over the past couple of months and I’m up to doing 45 push-ups daily. After the broom workout, I didn’t need the push-ups.

By 2:30pm, I had everything loaded in the trailer, including the scooter and Traeger wood pellet fired grill. The rain held off and I thought maybe we would stay dry all day. Donna went to the store in Linda’s car and picked up some snacks and beer. We sat outside for happy hour at our table with Linda and Tommy. We could hear thunder around us and the weather radar app showed thundershowers to the north, east and south of us but it was clear over us and to the west.

The happy hour was cut down to a happy half-hour when the thundershowers found us. Large rain drops suddenly pelted down and chased Linda and Tommy home while we dashed indoors.

Last night our party neighbors were at it again. After midnight I went over to the cabin site behind us. A large group of college age kids rented the cabin and had tents set up in the sites behind it. They were playing beer pong on the picnic table and shouting at each other and cheering. I told them it was after quiet time – quiet time is 10pm to 8am. They pretty much ignored me. I called the park security and met the security guy. I told him about the partying until 4am the night before. He went over and talked to the group. Whatever he said got their attention and it was quiet after that.

Today I only have a few things to do before we hit the road. We’ll head toward Cabela’s in Hamburg, Pennsylvania. I want to purchase a few things there and it will likely be a good dry camping place for the night. From there we plan to go to an RV park near Baltimore that offers shuttle service to the train into Washington, DC.

Generator Maintenance

In my last post, I wrote about getting a generator up and running. The main reason this generator quit working was lack of use. Regularly exercising a generator should be part of the preventive maintenance schedule. Gasoline-powered generators can suffer fuel system maladies such as varnished carburetors from fuel evaporation. Gasoline also has a shelf life. Although gasoline is formulated with stabilizers, it will deteriorate over time.  Gasoline is made up of many compounds. Some of them are light and volatile while others are heavier and less volatile. The light, volatile components evaporate first and over time, the chemistry of the gasoline changes.

Running the generator on a regular schedule keeps fresh fuel running through the fuel system. The fuel in the tank should be replenished every six months or so – maybe longer if additional stabilizing additives are used.

The generator needs to be run under load – it should power electrical consumers that equal about half of the output capacity. This allows the engine to run at full operating temperature and also warms up the electrical windings and removes corrosion from electrical contacts. The oil circulating in the engine will prevent internal corrosion. It needs to be run long enough to get the oil up to operating temperature. I would say half an hour is the minimum. The manual for our Onan Quiet Diesel 7.5kW generator suggests two hours of run time per month.

Yesterday I performed another part of the scheduled preventive maintenance on our generator. I changed the engine oil and oil filter. The maintenance schedule for our generator calls for an oil and filter change every 150 hours. We have a meter on the start switch on a panel in our coach that records the generator run time. Whenever the generator is running, it records the time in increments of 1/10th of an hour.

Generator start switch and hour meter

Generator start switch and hour meter

The last time I changed the oil and filter in our generator was last September. In 11 months, we put 150 hours on our generator. If we hadn’t hit 150 hours, I would consider changing the oil at 12 months. The generator engine isn’t especially hard on oil. Engines that don’t spend much time idling or running hot at high load are easy on the oil. Also engines that come up to full operating temperature each time they’re used are easier on the oil than engines that are run for short duration.

The crankcase of the engine condenses moisture from the air as it cools down. Over time, this moisture contaminates the oil. In extreme cases, it can form an emulsion and hinder the lubricating ability of the oil. When an engine is regularly brought up to full operating temperature and the oil temperature reaches or exceeds 180 degrees Fahrenheit, the moisture in the crankcase or in the oil is converted to steam and driven out of the engine.

If an engine is regularly run for short durations and the oil temperature stays too low – 150 degrees or less – it will have excessive moisture in the crankcase and should have the oil changed more often.

Our generator is usually run for at least an hour at a time and always gets up to full operating temperature. Every time I’ve drained the oil from it, I haven’t see any sign of excessive moisture. Lately we’ve been running the generator as we drive down the road to operate our roof-mounted air conditioner. This makes it a much more comfortable ride in hot, humid areas. It also ensures plenty of exercise for our generator.

Some modern cars have oil service indicators that customize the oil change schedule. These systems don’t actually sample the oil for condition. They monitor the driving conditions such as how much time is spent idling and what the temperature of the engine and environment are. Plugging these factors into a table, it comes up with a recommended oil change interval.

Today we plan to go to the farmers’ market at Bolton Landing (map). Donna’s sister Pam and her husband Gene will join Tom, Linda and us to shop there and go out to lunch. This afternoon, I’ll start preparing the coach for travel – I want to pull out early on Sunday.

Up and Running Again

I didn’t post to the blog yesterday because I didn’t do much on Tuesday. In my last post, I mentioned Donna’s bike ride on Monday when she rode past the Hudson Headwaters Health Center where I was. Her route also took her past the confluence where the Schroon River empties in the upper Hudson River (map). Here are a few photos she took on her ride.

Schroon River

Schroon River looking west

Schroon River

Schroon River looking east

She got to a point where she thought she might have a missed a turn and stopped for directions at the ticket office for the tour train that runs up the Hudson River. The train doesn’t run on Mondays, but there was an employee at the office who helped Donna find her way. It turned out that it was not the route Donna had planned, but very scenic anyway.

Tour train ticket office

Boarding platform for the train

Train track by the river

Train track along the Hudson River

On Tuesday evening, I made chicken leg quarters on the Traeger wood pellet fired grill again and they were absolutely delicious. This has become a favorite dish. After an hour on the grill, I basted them with a honey-maple glaze and cooked for another 10 minutes. At 99 cents a pound, this meal can’t be beat! Donna served it with sauteed zucchini and corn with red peppers.

Honey-maple glazed chicken

Honey-maple glazed chicken

Earlier in the day, Donna borrowed Linda’s car and drove to Westport on Lake Champlain to meet up with her friend, Karen Dayan (map). They had lunch and spent the afternoon together.

Karen and Donna

Karen and Donna

Karen is a long-time Ironman participant. She recently finished third in her age group at the Lake Placid Ironman. She’s qualified to compete in the Ironman Hawaii event several times and is headed to the Half-Ironman World Championship in Austria in a few weeks.

While Karen and Donna were catching up, I followed doctors orders and hung out in the coach. I used antibiotic soap and a pail of water to cleanse my feet, then let them air out without shoes and read a book. It was raining, so I had nothing better to do. In the afternoon, Ozark climbed into her carrying crate and napped. She usually only goes in her crate when we’re traveling. Maybe she’s trying to tell us it’s time for a change in scenery. She’ll have to wait a few more days – we’ll pull out of here on Sunday.

Ozark catching a cat nap

Ozark catching a cat nap

Last week, Donna’s sister Linda told me their generator wasn’t working. They have a 1800-watt portable generator that they use when they dry camp or have a power outage at home. She told me it worked fine the last time they ran it, but then it sat unused for several months and now it won’t start. I figured the fuel in the carburetor evaporated and left varnish deposits gumming up the fuel passages.

Yesterday, I couldn’t stand another day of inactivity. I started my day by deep cleaning the Traeger grill. Then I put Linda and Tommy’s generator on our table and went to work on it. I removed the side cover and the air filter housing. I saw the housing was cracked where it mounts to the carburetor.

Cracked air filter housing

Cracked air filter housing

Side cover removed exposing carburetor

Side cover removed exposing carburetor

I removed the float bowl from the carburetor. The float bowl is the fuel reservoir that meters the fuel mixture into the carb venturi. I expected to find varnish deposits. What I found was worse. The bowl had rust deposits and scaly, dry white flakes in the bottom. The white flakes were some kind of mineral left behind. I don’t know if water had gotten into the float bowl or what the origin of these deposits was – I’ve never seen this in a carburetor before.

Rust and scale in the bottom of the float bowl

Rust and scale in the bottom of the float bowl

I cleaned the bowl with carburetor cleaner and scraped the deposits. Then I removed the main jet from the carb body and shot carburetor cleaner from an aerosol can through the fuel passages.

When I reassembled everything, I used room temperature vulcanizing silicone sealant on the cracked air filter housing. Meanwhile Tommy went out to buy a gas can and fresh gasoline for the generator. He had to go out twice because after buying the gas can, he got side-tracked when Donna texted him and asked him to pick up something at the store. He came home with the gas can, but forgot to buy the gas. This was okay as it allowed time for the silicone sealant to set up.

By then, Donna’s parents, Duke and Lorraine Connor, arrived to spend the afternoon with us. Tommy and I set the generator on the ground. I opened the fuel petcock, switched the ignition on and set the choke. On the third pull, it started. I opened the choke and the generator ran smoothly. I think Tommy was surprised to find it running like that. I fully expected that I would have it up and running again.

Donna and her mom set out snacks on the picnic table. Unfortunately, while I worked on the generator I spilled old stinky gasoline on the end of the table. I rinsed it as best as I could, but the odor lingered.

We had a couple of rain squalls kick up, so we moved the heavy table under our awning to wait them out. The rain passed quickly the few times it fell and it was a mostly sunny day.

Donna prepared pork tenderloin skewers spiced with cumin and hot sauce and added red onion, green pepper and pineapple chunks. I cooked them on the Traeger grill and then Donna brushed them with a pineapple-ginger glaze that she prepared earlier. I neglected to take a picture of the dinner plate – it was fine meal. We had potato salad and broccoli slaw on the side and lots of appetizers from the afternoon still on the table. For dessert, we had a silken tofu chocolate pie that Donna made – no one guessed that it was made with tofu! This was yet another excellent recipe that a fellow RVer, Karin Von Kay, shared with Donna.

Donna and her parents

Donna and her parents

Last night, we watched a Netflix movie at Tom and Linda’s RV – the movie was Homefront. I couldn’t give it more than 2.5 stars on a scale of five. The others were a little more generous with their ratings.

The weather looks good this morning. I plan to change the oil and filter on our generator this morning as scattered thundershowers are in the forecast this afternoon. Donna is headed out for another bike ride.

 

Back to the Doc

I took it easy Sunday. I soaked my feet in a pail of warm salt water and let my bare feet dry. The infection that had been treated two weeks ago returned and was spreading across the top of my feet. To make matters worse, the contact dermatitis on my arms never fully cleared up and it was making another appearance.

I put triple antibiotic ointment on my feet and used hydrocortisone cream on my arms. It didn’t bring much relief. In fact, the ointment seemed to make the skin infection on my feet worse.

I tried to find the Indianapolis Moto GP race on the campground cable network. It turned out the race was being televised on Fox Sports1 and the campground cable service didn’t carry that channel. I didn’t want to download the race on my computer because I was near the end of my data cycle and a 2+ gigabyte download would put me over the limit and cost $15-$20 in extra charges. So I went to Crash.net and followed the race on their race day coverage. The page updates every minute or so with lap-by-lap descriptions and an occasional still photo. It was an interesting way to follow the race which turned out to be an exciting one.

By the end of the day, it was apparent to me that I needed another visit to the doctor. So on Monday morning, I went to the Hudson Headwaters Health Center in Warrensburg (map). When I checked in, I was informed they won’t bill my insurance – I would have to pay upfront and seek reimbursement from Cigna. What a mess health care insurance has become.

I was checked in quickly and waited only about five minutes before I was taken to an exam room. A nurse spent a few minutes checking my vitals and going over my history and current issue. Ten minutes later, I was seen by a doctor. He told me the contact dermatitis was a reaction of my immune system. The pollen contact on my skin provoked an allergic reaction which my immune system interpreted as an attack. This in turn led to release of histamines which creates the redness and itching. I think I got that right – I’m no expert. He prescribed a much more aggressive course of Prednisone for the dermatitis. I have three days of high dosage followed by seven days of tapering off. For the skin infection on my feet, he wants me to wash them twice a day with antibacterial soap and pat dry, then let them dry out without socks or shoes as much as possible. He also prescribed ten days of Keflex oral antibiotics.

When I picked up the prescriptions, the people at the pharmacy were great. The girl at the counter looked up my insurance information and I was charged a grand total of 24 cents for both medications!

While I was at the pharmacy Donna sent me a text telling she was out for a 28-mile bike ride. Later I learned she rode right past me at the pharmacy.

I spent the rest of the day hanging out in the coach with bare feet and reading a book. Last night, I woke up in the middle of the night with searing stomach pain. It felt like a hole was burning through my stomach. I chewed on a couple of antacids and drank some water. Eventually the pain was reduced and I went back to sleep. I don’t know if it was due to the high Prednisone dose or the antibiotic, but I think it’s the medication that caused the stomach issue.

I haven’t been sick in well over two years – not even a cold since we’ve been on the road – until this skin condition surfaced a month ago. I hope it goes away for good once I complete the 10-day cycle of medication and I can go back to being my normal healthy self.

It’s raining this morning and the rain is forecast to linger most of the day. Looking at the weather radar app, I believe it. There’s a huge system to the west of us slowly moving eastward. I’ll lie low again, keep my feet dry and read another book. Donna is going to meet her friend Karen for lunch and spend the afternoon with her in Westport, NY.

Kayaking the Schroon River

We unpacked the Sea Eagle SE-370 inflatable kayak yesterday. I filled it with air using the foot pump and we loaded it in the back of Tommy’s truck. Tom drove us to the kayak rental place in the campground on the Schroon River (map). We had easy access to the sandy beach and launched the kayak there.

I hadn’t been out in the kayak since we left San Diego. We paddled in unison and headed upriver. At the first bend, we had two out-of-control rental kayaks bearing straight at us, forcing us to take evasive action that ran us into the branches of an over-hanging tree. The people in the rental kayaks were totally oblivious as they paddled madly past us.

We put that behind us and continued upriver. We saw people tubing and kayaking downriver as we paddled along, but didn’t have any problems with the traffic. About a mile upriver, there’s a one-lane bridge connecting East Schroon River Road with Schroon River Road at the Warren County fairgrounds. This is where the bus drops off people tubing down the river. The bus must have arrived there just ahead of us as there was a gaggle of tubers in the water at the bridge.

Traffic at the bridge

Traffic at the bridge

A couple of days ago, Donna walked across that bridge after hiking on Hackensack Mountain. As she was crossing, a vehicle towing a travel trailer approached the one-lane bridge. The driver didn’t wait for Donna to finish crossing – she drove onto the narrow bridge and stayed tight to the right to give Donna room. As she passed by, Donna heard a loud screeching sound. The trailer was making contact with the bridge railing. Donna looked back as the trailer passed by and saw scrape marks on the metal rail. The travel trailer was damaged for sure – all because the driver was too impatient to allow a pedestrian to finish crossing the bridge.

As we paddled to the bridge, we saw Tommy there taking photos of us.

Tommy's photo of us approaching the bridge

Tommy’s photo of us approaching the bridge

We continued upriver past the bridge

We continued upriver past the bridge

Once we passed the bridge, we only saw a few other kayaks. The river current is moving slowly in most places and paddling upriver wasn’t too hard. We stopped where a pond formed on the west side of the river and ate ham and cheese sandwiches that Donna had packed for us (map).

The river bends and twists back and forth from there. The outside of the bends have deeper water. In the deeper areas, the current is slow. In some shallow areas, it picks up speed but the paddling wasn’t too hard. It was very quiet along this stretch with no houses or roads in sight.

Looking back upriver from the bridge

Looking back after we passed the bridge

What's around the bend

What’s around the bend?

Quiet, deep water

Quiet, deep water

We turned back and headed downriver. The current didn’t hinder us much going upriver, so it was no surprise when it didn’t carry us with any speed downriver. At one point, Donna wanted to see how fast we could sprint. We paddled with quick strokes and picked up speed quickly, but found it was hard to keep our paddling in sync to stay the course. We’ll have to work on that.

We only saw a few fish in the river and some geese. I expected to see more wildlife. We saw a few fishermen but no one was catching anything. We pulled out at the kayak rental beach and Tommy came back to pick us up. We were out on the river for over an hour and it was pleasant.

Last night, I grilled chicken leg quarters on the Traeger. We dined at Tom and Linda’s table – Donna made mango salsa to put on the chicken and we had white rice and a side of green beans with garlic and parmesan cheese that Tommy made.

After dinner, Donna, Linda, Tommy and their daughter Felicia went to the rodeo. I stayed home and soaked my feet in a warm salt water bath. The infection on my feet healed while I was taking antibiotic (Keflex) but it looks like it’s returning! I followed the salt water bath with triple antibiotic ointment. I hope I don’t need another visit to the doctor.

Today I’ll hook up to the campground cable TV and watch the Moto GP race at Indianapolis. Donna and I attended the Indianapolis round of Moto GP twice in the past.

A Day in Warrensburg New York

I’m running a little behind this morning. My laptop puzzles me at times. I upload photos from my phone to my laptop where I crop and resize them for use in my posts. The upload process is inconsistent. Sometimes after I connect my phone to the USB port, after a minute or so, my laptop recognizes the device and I can upload. Other times, a window opens and it says “scanning your device for files” and I can’t upload until it completes the scan which can take 15 minutes. I don’t understand why it does this.

Yesterday I had another twist with my laptop. I was on the web using Google Chrome when things quit working. I was given the option of optimizing Google Chrome for Windows 8. I clicked on it. Chrome works now, but it’s very annoying. I have a black bar above the tabs and if my cursor touches this bar, it expands and I don’t see the tabs anymore. Also my toolbar on the bottom of the page went away.

While I’m on this rant, I’ll add another annoying thing. I set my preferences on Facebook to show “Most Recent” because I want to see what my friends are posting. At random intervals, Facebook decides I should really be seeing “Top Stories” and it changes my settings for me. Really? Facebook knows better than me what I want to see? Why even give me the ability to choose my preferences if they’re going to change them for me? End of rant.

Yesterday morning, I scootered Donna over to Warrensburg to the Hackensack Mountain trailhead. There are a few trails there with varying degrees of difficulty. Donna went up a fairly challenging trail to the summit that included a section with ropes for pulling yourself up. After hiking the mountain trail, she walked back to the campground. She put in about five miles of hiking. Here are a few photos she shot on her hike.

Hackensack Mountain trailhead

Hackensack Mountain trailhead

View at the summit

View at the summit

Steeper than it looks - ropes for handholds

Steeper than it looks – ropes for handholds

In the afternoon, we rode the scooter to the Warrensburg Farmers’ Market west of Main Street on the south side of the Schroon River on NY418. This was a relatively small market but they had some good local produce and other things like locally made cheese and honey.

Farmers' market

Farmers’ market

Music at the market

Music at the market

I bought a bag of bee pollen. Some people consider bee pollen to be a super food with high nutritional value. I’ve read that it can be beneficial for people with hay fever allergies. Other people say it causes allergic reactions. I’m trying it out – we’ll see if it helps me or causes me problems. I sprinkled half a spoonful on my cereal this morning.

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Yesterday’s weather was near perfect – mid-70s with partly cloudy skies. Today we should see 80 degrees with partly cloudy skies. We’re planning to take the kayak out on the Schroon River.

Dry and Dusty

Today started out the way most mornings have lately. Ozark the cat becomes active shortly after sunrise. She leaps off of the bed and runs full speed to the front of the coach. She flies onto the driver’s seat and bounces up to the dashboard. She runs across the dash then jumps onto a narrow counter next to the co-pilot’s seat before hitting the floor and beating feet back to the bedroom. She runs past the bed onto the raised floor by the closet and jumps on the bed to complete her lap. Then she repeats the performance without pausing. This goes on for several minutes as I try to return to dreamland. Eventually she slows down and stays on the bed. I usually manage to doze off again until she starts walking over us.

This morning, as I was trying to go back to sleep, I thought about how many nights I’ve spent in an RV. I don’t have an exact count because I can’t remember the date we started sleeping in our coach in the driveway after we sold our bedroom furniture. I know it’s been somewhere over 750 consecutive nights in our RV though.

We first hit the road on July 23, 2013. That puts us in our 25th month of full-time RVing.  During the last 25 months, we’ve covered 17,000 miles and visited 20 states. We’re often asked how long we intend to stay in our RV. Our standard answer is, “We don’t know, but we’ll know when we’re done.” The truth is, we feel like we’re just getting started. There’s so much to see and do. Every place we’ve been has something to offer.

Yesterday was a low-key day. I had a chore to tackle. Our battery banks were very dirty from driving in the rain and driving on dirt roads. Dirt build-up on the battery cases can cause voltage leakage across the terminals when the dirt absorbs moisture. I was also having a problem with a poor connection on one of the starting battery posts. I hosed down the batteries, then scrubbed with a stiff nylon brush dipped in a baking soda solution. This cleaned everything and neutralized any acid build-up. I removed the cable connector from the post that was giving me trouble and cleaned the post and connector before reinstalling it. All is well now.

I think I need to clean the batteries more often

Dirt roads left a lot of dust on the batteries

I also unpacked my mountain bike and pumped up the tires. I took a ride through the park over to the beach area on the Schroon River. I’ll probably go for a longer ride today.

In the afternoon, I prepared four half-racks of baby back ribs. When I bought the ribs at Oscar’s, they had them cut into half-racks. I cooked whole racks before. To prepare ribs, you first remove the tough, thin membrane on the bone side of the ribs. If you don’t do this, the spices won’t penetrate on that side, plus you’ll have a tough, chewy side to the ribs. I spiced the ribs with the rub I bought at Papa Joe’s in Michigan. I like dry-rubbed Memphis-style baby back ribs.

I cooked them on the Traeger wood pellet fired grill. After two and a half hours, I turned the heat down to low heat and cooked for another half hour. I thought they would be fine but they turned out to be over-cooked. I think having them cut into half racks made them cook faster. Oh well, it was a learning experience.

Baby back half-racks on the Traeger

Baby back half-racks on the Traeger

Yesterday was International IPA Day, so I paired the baby backs with Saratoga IPA brewed in nearby Saratoga Springs.

Saratoga IPA

Saratoga IPA

This IPA was more to my liking than the others from this area that I’ve tried. I know you can get good East Coast IPA, like Dogfish Head from Delaware, but I’m sampling local brews.

The forecast calls for a warming trend with the thermometer expected to hit 80 today and move well into the 80s over the weekend. It’s been dry and dusty in the campground. Next week, I’ll try to sneak a wash of the coach.

 

Indian Lake

After posting to the blog and doing a few chores, I loaded Donna’s bike in the back of Tommy’s truck and we piled in yesterday. We drove through Warrensburg up US9 to NY28. We followed NY28 which runs along the upper Hudson River up to Indian Lake, a distance of about 45 miles (map). By the time we got there, after making a stop at the train station in North River, it was noon.

The plan was to drop off Donna and her bicycle at Indian Lake and she would cycle back to the Lake George Escape campground. We decided to find lunch before she made the ride back. We ended up at the Indian Lake Restaurant and Tavern. The place has an interesting history dating back to the 1800s when the bar was located in Princeton, New Jersey. In the 1930s, the bar was going to be demolished as Palmer Square was being constructed. The bar was bought, disassembled and reassembled at Indian Lake.

Bar history - click to enlarge

Bar history – click to enlarge

Donna waiting for lunch at the bar

Donna waiting for lunch at the bar

Donna ordered a tandoori naan bread pizza with cheese, artichoke and chicken. I had the fish sandwich. The food was excellent! I paired my sandwich with a locally brewed IPA from Paradox Brewery in Schroon Lake called Beaver Bite IPA. It was average at best. I’m still searching for a locally brewed IPA in the east that matches the flavorful offerings of West Coast-style IPA.

Beaver Bite IPA on tap

Beaver Bite IPA on tap

We dropped Donna off outside of town at 1:15pm and she started her ride back. Her route would take her back through North River and Wevertown before she headed down US9 to Warrensburg. I expected her to ride for about three hours.

As we drove back, Tommy took a detour at Thirteenth Lake Road. We drove a few miles, then turned into the Siamese Pond Wilderness Area. It covers more than 100,000 acres and, like all designated wilderness areas, prohibits motor vehicles. We made a short hike down to Thirteenth Lake and had a look around.

Thirteenth Lake in the Siamese Pond Wilderness Area

Thirteenth Lake in the Siamese Pond Wilderness Area

On the way in, before we hit the wilderness boundary, we passed the Barton Garnet Mine. They offer tours of one of the largest garnet mines in the world. They’ve been mining garnet in the area since 1878. The mine tours started in 1933 and you are able to find and keep garnet stones you find on the tour. Garnet is the January birthstone and the state stone of New York.

When we came back onto NY28, we were almost to North River when we saw Donna cycling up ahead. I was really surprised to see her that far from her starting point. She had some long downhill stretches and was making good time.

We stopped at Oscar’s Adirondack Smoke House where I bought two racks of uncooked baby back ribs. I plan to cook them on the Traeger wood pellet fired grill on Thursday evening.

After Tommy and I returned to the campground, I went out and explored the place. Around 3:20pm, my phone rang. It was Donna. She was in Warrensburg and said she just rode past the Top Foods store and didn’t remember seeing it when we drove through earlier. I told her she was on track and would see her turn at Horicon Street by the Chinese restaurant a little ways down the road. She made it home about 25 minutes later.

Last night, Donna prepared turkey burgers with special sauce – a recipe she got from Karin Von Kay. Donna met Karin when we were in Des Moines and they exchanged several recipes. The special sauce had an Asian flavor profile. I put a grill mat on the Traeger and cooked the burgers. Linda joined us for dinner. She put pretzel rolls on her grill and toasted them. The turkey burgers with special sauce were outstanding.

Turkey burger with special sauce on pretzel roll

Turkey burger with special sauce on pretzel roll

This morning, Ozark woke us up by walking over us. She would walk over the top of Donna, then stretch and reach over to me before walking up my belly and onto my chest. She gently bites and chews my fingers. I think it’s her way of saying it’s time to get up and feed me and pet me.

Yesterday’s temperature reached 83 degrees. The forecast calls for highs in the upper 70s over the next couple of days before we reach the 80s again. I don’t have a plan for today. There are a few chores I should do and maybe I’ll get my mountain bike out and kick around.