Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Of course, all the family gathered once again. It was much more difficult emotionally this time, but also a lot easier from a practical standpoint. We already knew who to contact and what to expect. Her service was almost a carbon copy of Dad's, and most of the same people attended. It was held in the church she attended for 83 years.
The biggest impact this time is that now we have a house to empty out and sell. Dianna and I had planned to stay in the area until Mother was settled in an assisted living center, so our focus just changed to going through the house, inventorying everything so we can decide who wants what, and moving forward with plans to distribute or sell everything. We spend 5 days a week in the house but return to our home, which is parked in Bakersfield, a couple days a week. The house went on the market today.
Obviously it is a tough time on everyone but time has a way of taking the edge off. We are focused on what we have to get done, but keep finding things that remind us of how much we will miss Dianna's parents. It gets easier as we go along, but easier is relative.
We plan to stay here until the middle of December when we will go to Texas to be with Dayna's family for Christmas. We have decided to buy Widener's car and we will drive it so we can license it there. We do not plan to take the trailer since we will only be there a short time, celebrating Christmas and keeping annual Dr. visits. The car is a 1999 Lexus GS300. It only has 52,000 miles on it, and Dianna and I have probably put the last 5,000 on it during the past few summers.
Greg's family will be here in early December and we hope to finalize what goes where by then. When we return after Christmas we will stay here until all the contents are distributed. Then we will move on to who knows where, and hopefully our life will again return to something approaching normal.
We both appreciate all the emails, phone calls, cards, flowers, food and prayers that have come our way from family and friends. They have helped us cope and provided much needed support.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Many family members attended the services and were there in support of Mom. All of Dayna's family attended from Texas, as did Darin and Diane from Tennessee. Greg's family was all there and of course, Julie, Marie and Adam. Carrie, Mike and Randi came down from Denair and nephew Terry flew in from Seattle. My brother Don and his wife Betty also attended. There were many other relatives and also friends from church, Carl's work from which he retired over 30 years ago, and many others whose lives he touched.
The family began leaving on Thursday, and by Friday only Greg's family was still here. We had a birthday dinner for Julie on Saturday evening at a restaurant in El Segundo, and said goodbye to Greg's family. They were headed home to Rochester and Boston on the red eye.
Mom held up very well throughout the week, but when we returned home from the restaurant Saturday night she had a bad fall while getting ready for bed, injuring her back. There are no broken bones but she is in a lot of pain. Our plans for the next few months are to serve as her primary care givers for several days a week, with a couple nights off each week so we can go home to our trailer in Bakersfield when another relative spells us. She does have a paid caregiver six days a week, but that is only during the day time, and she needs someone here 24 hours a day. We had not expected to be needed as nurses quite so soon, but that's what happened. Hopefully she will feel better in a couple weeks.
The tentative long term plan is for Mother to sell the house and move into an assisted living center. The scheduling and timing of those things is still somewhat up in the air, but we are moving forward with preparations. One of the things we are doing is inventorying the contents of her house in preparation for determining what she will take with her, what will go to which family member, what will be sold, and what will be disposed of in some other way. The inventory and cataloging is a huge undertaking but it must be done. I have completed only the entry way and the formal living room and have almost 150 items photographed and identified so far. Those are the two easiest rooms. This is going to take a while.
Life goes on.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Goodbye. We miss you.
Monday, October 4, 2010
A week or so ago Dianna learned that her Dad had come down with a cold and was feeling puny. That's not surprising for a man who will be 94 this month. His condition worsened suddenly during the night Friday and he was taken to the hospital by ambulance. He said he did not have the strength to get out of his chair to go to bed or to go to the bathroom. They checked him out and sent him home, saying that he just had a cold. However, his condition did not improve. In fact it continued to deteriorate.
Saturday he did get out of bed for a few minutes in the morning, but that was it. He would not eat, drink or take his medications. Julie and Betty were not able to handle his needs so Greg flew out from Rochester on Sunday to help. Carl's condition continued to go downhill Sunday and we decided Dianna should also go to California.
We made a reservation for today (Monday) for her to fly out of Nashville, the nearest large airport. After doing some shopping and packing her bags, we drove to the 100 miles to Cleveland so we could see Darin and Diane, along with Christine, Nathan and our new great grandson Skylar. Of course, he is precious, and photos will follow.
We slept in the truck in Darin's driveway, although neither of us got more than an hour of so of sleep, and Dianna continued to receive phone calls from her brother and sister during the night. The sense that the end might be near was on everyone's mind, and Carl has told everyone that he had lived long enough, was ready, and did not want to go to the hospital again. Around 7 PM last night he roused enough to agree to go to the hospital again if it would make him feel better. Greg followed the ambulance and stayed with him until shortly after midnight CA time, spending some time talking to their Dr. about hospice. About 12:30 the Dr. called Julie to tell her that he has severe pneumonia in one lung, and it was progressing in the other. He told her that while it is possible he will survive this, it is not likely. He said he will likely hang on for only a few more days at most.
This morning we drove from Darin's to the airport in Nashville, a distance of about 190 miles, and Dianna flew out for CA. She is still in the air as I write this. I drove another 200 miles back to where we left our trailer near Knoxville. Tomorrow I will start for California with our rig. We expect to be needed there for a few months while we deal with all the issues that will surely require attention. Greg and Julie both work full time, and we are in the best situation to be able to do what needs to be done.
Arrangements are being made for hospice to assist with Carl's care during his final days, and it is expected that he will be brought home tonight or tomorrow. He only rouses occasionally and does not seem to be aware of what is happening. Hopefully he will recognize Dianna one last time when she arrives. I know that would mean a lot to her, but she also knows it is not likely.
Communications may be sparse for the next few days. Dianna does have her computer with her so I'm sure she will read emails when she has a chance. I will try to make the 2,200 mile drive in 4 or 5 days, so you won't hear much from me.
I know the family appreciates everyone's thoughts and prayers.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
As noted in some of the old documents related to the canal, Cuba Lake was one of the most important structures on the canal, as it provided water at the highest level the canal reached. When it was built it was the largest man made lake in the US and perhaps in the world. It was originally called Oil Creek Reservoir because it dammed Oil Creek.
In my wanderings around, I realized that the only exit from the lake today is over the spillway which is located near the site of the Oil Spring in the southwest corner. The dam where the creek used to flow is located along the eastern side of the lake. The spillway is located is about 2 to 3 miles from the natural exit of Oil Creek. Prior to building the lake, the stream where the spillway was built contained only a very small amount of water that drained minor springs in the hilsides. It was no where near as big as it is now. Oil creek used to drain not only the small valleys around where the lake is today, but also the entire Rawson Valley and all its streams. When driving around the lake today it is apparent that the majority of the water flowing into the lake is from the Rawson Valley, and that the other tributaries were quite small in comparison. Apparently when the small creeks merged with Rawson Creek in the area where the lake now sits, they renamed the stream Oil Creek.
The spillway is located just a mile or so up the valley from the Cuba/Maplehurst road. By building the dam and locating the spillway here they eliminated water from Oil Creek from joining with Black Creek north of Cuba, and flowing south through the town. Only Black Creek and the creeks from the Friendship and Clarksville Hill areas continued to flow into town. There they all met and flowed west out of town toward Maplehurst, where they met the water flowing over the Cuba Lake spillway before making their way west to join with Olean Creek. I find it fascinating how much engineering and planning went into designing and building the lake, and also surprised as how much it changed the geography of the area.
As many know, the Maple Summit Farm was located at the highest point in the Rawson Valley. Water flows both north and south at that point. The small stream on the east side of the valley in the area flowed north toward Hardy's Corners and Rushford, eventually reaching the Genesee River, but the streams on the west side of the valley flowed south toward Cuba Lake, eventually reaching the Allegheny River. The small stream behind the hemlocks on the farm flowed toward north, but the stream behind Norman's barn flowed south. Dale says they used to say that water landing on the north side of the barn roof ended up in the North Atlantic, but the water landing on the south side ended up in the Caribbean. Probably so.
Enough geography and history of the Cuba area. It has been fun. Saturday we leave for points south. Our first major destination is TN to visit Darin, but there will be stops along the way. Stay tuned.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
When I tried to order refills for our prescriptions yesterday, and have them filled at the Olean Wal-Mart, the computer said we had to call the store. The pharmacist explained that New York State has a really goofy law regarding transferring prescriptions. You can have a prescription transferred from another store and refilled one time at the store you transfer it to, but any remaining refills are automatically canceled and you must get a new prescription from your Dr. It does not make a difference how many refills you have left on your prescription. It does not make a difference whether the original pharmacy is in another state or within New York.
How dumb is that? As far as we can tell, NY is the only state that does this. I posted a question about this on an RV forum I participate in heavily, and learned that others have run into this same problem. No one is aware of any other state with similar laws. One person said they transferred 25 prescriptions (Wow!) to a local pharmacy (in person at the store, not online) when they were traveling in NY, and the pharmacist was happy to oblige. But he did not tell them that they could not be refilled or transferred again. When they tried to have them refilled again a month later in another state they learned the hard way about this stupid state law. Imagine their difficulty in obtaining new prescriptions from all their various Dr.'s.
Since we learned of the ramifications before we ordered them yesterday, we instead ordered the refills at the Wal-Mart in Bradford, PA. It's only about 15 miles south of Olean so it was no big deal to go get them. In fact, it was a nice ride on the scooter.
On the way back we stopped in Hinsdale to look at the remains of Lock 102 on the Genesee Valley Canal. It is next to the American Legion. When we got home I was doing some more research and finally found a better map of where the canal went. It was then that I discovered that I was wrong in my post yesterday about where the sluice line fed the canal. It turns out that the canal was indeed further down in the valley to the east. It turns out that when the railroad was built, they did not follow the canal exactly. They wanted to keep the railroad as straight as possible and it was not difficult for them to build up a railroad bed in many areas. The canal builders on the other hand, had to follow the terrain exactly so they could maintain a ditch that did not change in level. It was not nearly so straight as the railroad which was built after the canal was abandoned in 1878.
If you look at the map I included with the previous post you can follow the canal north for about 1 1/2 miles until you will see where it joins the railroad bed. If you continue to follow it you can see where it often deviates from the old railroad as it continues north past Black Creek. In fact, by looking at the aerial views it is apparent that when we took the hike on Sunday with Dale, there were many times when we were not walking along the old canal tow path. We were walking on the old railroad bed instead. Many times they did run together but sometimes they were as much as a few hundred feet apart. That explains why we sometimes could not see evidence of the canal. We hypothesized that perhaps some of it had been filled in as the railroad bed crossed from one side to the other, or that some farmer had filled it in. Now I know better. I am willing to bet that this is the situation along most of the old canal.
The thing that adds to the confusion about this is the fact that the Genesee Valley Canal Greenway, the trail that has been developed along most of the route, follows the old railroad bed and not the canal. I wonder how many people are even aware of that?
I am going to put up all the photos of canal stuff in the next couple days. Isn't this fun?
Monday, September 20, 2010
The Garlic Festival had many booths where unique garlic items were being sold, as well as many with local specialty items (jams and maple stuff, etc.), some craft things, food booths, music, cooking demonstrations and much more. There were many free samples and we all tried many good things. It was a very nice event and there were a ton of people there. Traffic was backed up all the way through Cuba to Water Street and beyond.
At 4 PM we all took a tour of the horse barn itself. The tour lasted for an hour and was conducted by the current owner who bought it in 1996 at a tax sale. She has been working to restore it and is making slow progress. It is a very interesting building that is constructed completely of concrete or concrete blocks, including the floors. The concrete blocks were made one at a time on site. Quite an undertaking for any time, but it was really something in the 1906-1909 time frame when it was built. The man who built it was named Simpson. They had made their money in New York City. They owned and operated the first pawn shop there. That's right. Their pawn shop generated millions of dollars in profits. He built it to house his world champion trotting horses after a tragic fire in another stable that killed many of his prize horses. This stable is fireproof. The great granddaughter of the Simpson who built the barn was also there to add to the history. It was quite educational and informative.
After the festival we drove to Portville to have dinner at Spragues Farm. They are a very large commercial maple syrup operation and have opened a very nice restaurant. We had to wait for over half an hour for a seat as it is very busy. Almost every item on the menu has maple syrup in it in one form or another. Three people had breakfasts but I had salmon in maple glaze. Tina had something turkey which also included maple syrup somehow. It was quite good.
We drove back to Cuba where we said goodbye to Greg and Tina who drove back to Rochester. Dale, Dianna and I watched a movie and then went to bed.
Sunday we decided to take a hike and do some geocaching. We drove to Black Creek and found the Genesee Valley Canal Greenway about a quarter mile to the east. We hiked norths about 2 1/2 miles along the old canal and found 5 caches. Much of the canal in that area is now filled with beaver ponds. We only saw one beaver, and only his tail at that, as he quickly dove into his lodge, but their work was very evident.
As we hiked we talked about the Genesee Valley Canal. Dale has been interested in the Erie Canal for some time, and our recent hikes along the Genesee Valley Canal have been educational and fun for both of us. We knew that Cuba Lake was a feeder to the Genesee Valley Canal, and we tried to figure out where and how. We knew the highest spot on the lake was near here because Cuba Lake fed the canal at its highest point, but we were not sure where that was. It was obvious where we were hiking that it must be between Black Creek and Cuba because the streams in the Black Creek area flowed to the north.
After our hike we made a stop at the Cuba Cheese Store to stock up, then drove through McDonalds to pick up dinner. I know, I know. We were tired from 5 miles of hiking. Dale headed back to Buffalo after dinner. It was really nice having him with us for the weekend. We are looking forward to seeing him again in a couple months or so in Arizona.
I did some more research on the Genesee Valley Canal today. I found the Chronological History of the Genesee Valley Canal and History of the Genesee Valley Canal parts of the Canals of New York document, where I learned the Cuba Lake was originally called Oil Creek Reservoir. From another source I was also finally able to answer a question that Dale and I had about where the water left the lake to feed the canal at its highest point between Black Creek and Cuba. It said there were valves and a sluice box built into the base of Cuba Dam near the south end. I rode up there today to see if I could find it.
There is a cemetery located at the base of the dam which I learned is the oldest cemetery in Allegheny County. It was relocated there when the lake was filled as the original site was flooded. There are headstones of Revolutionary War soldiers as well as Civil War soldiers. Most of the headstones are badly deteriorated so it was almost impossible to read them.
I hiked down a trail from the cemetery and located the outlet to the canal. It is about 200 feet from the south end of the canal and can be seen on Google Maps. A new roof has been built to protect the old valve structure, but the sluice itself is built of concrete or blocks and is still in pretty good shape. I then decided to follow the sluice to see where it went. I found where it crossed the Cuba/Black Creek road just south of Moonwinks, at the intersection of Jackson Hill road to the east and the South Lake Shore road to the west. I rode east northeast on Jackson Hill road about 1/4 of a mile to what I thought was the canal. I parked the scooter and walked south along the old railroad bed until I found the structure where the sluice feeder passed underneath. What I have since discovered is that the railroad split off from the canal just about 1/2 mile north of that location. Therefore the canal was further east. Following the sluice in a straight line will lead to it. From the documents listed above I also learned that this was within a 12 mile long level section, known as the summit level, that ran from near Black Creek to near Hinsdale. There were locks going down in both of those locations.
As long as I was following things, I continued to follow the route of the old railroad bed and realized that Dianna and I had been walking on it during our evening walks. It runs directly behind our RV park. The canal is somewhat further east of us at a lower part of the valley.
While I was at the cemetery I met a man who lived there and was into history as well. We chatted a while and he gave me some good information. His name was Hatch and he was from Portville. He knew who Reuben Hatch was but said he was not a close relative. Undoubtedly he was somehow connected though.
The reason I mention him is that he told me there are still remnants of some locks in Hinsdale, just behind the VFW there. I may ride down and take a look tomorrow.
Who knew canal history could be so much fun?
This is a view on Google Maps of the location where the sluice comes out of the dam. You can follow it across the road and to the first north/south line that looks like a road or trail. It is the canal. It bisects the farmers field. Further east it joins the creek that flows toward Cuba.
View Larger Map
Thursday, September 16, 2010
After church on Sunday morning we went to a Lumberjack Festival in Macedon, a community not far from Pittsford. We had a lumberjack breakfast and then watched all kinds of lumberjack competitions. We had seen such competitions on TV but never in person before. It was fun. We then drove to the University of Rochester and parked in a nearby park at the point where the Erie Canal crosses the Genesee River. We hiked along the canal and then up the river to the university where we explored the chapel and library. Both were interesting buildings and the campus is also very attractive.
We returned to Greg and Tina's where we ate Greg's delicious Dublin Chicken. For those of you who don't care about calories it's a great entre. They both went to bed early as Tina had to get up at 4 AM to go to work. I watched football and Dianna read until bedtime.
We awoke Monday morning to a steady rain. Greg and Tina were long gone to work. I checked the radar and it looked like the rain would clear long enough for us to get south of it by about 9:30 AM, so we were ready to go as soon as it let up. We did have to ride through some light sprinkles for a few minutes at one point, but by the time we got to Geneseo it was fine. The rest of the ride home was uneventful.
Since Monday it has been cooler and wetter. The temperatures at night have been getting down to the low 40's and the highs have not been out of the 60's. It has rained most of the day today. Fall is definitely just around the corner.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Rock City used to be a really big deal. There were trolleys that ran there from Olean, a dance and concert pavilion, a hotel, a merry-go-round and other rides, as well as the Rock City geologic formations themselves. All is gone now except for the rocks.
The formations remind me a lot of places like Cochise Stronghold near Willcox. There are cracks and crevices, balanced rocks and named formations that resemble things. It is only 22 acres and takes less than an hour to explore completely, but it was worthwhile to visit in that it is really unusual for the area.
After we explored the formation we talked with the current owner. We discovered that the chandelier hanging in the visitor center hung in the Castle Restaurant near Portville before it closed. I remember that Grandma and Grandpa Briggs used to go there.
We did not leave the trailer yesterday as the weather turned cold and wet. It rained all day and the temperature did not get above 60. It looks like today will be the same so we will not likely do much until this weekend when it is supposed to be cool but dry. Then we are planning to ride the scooter to Rochester and spend the weekend with Greg and Tina.
Monday, September 6, 2010
Today was much warmer yet still cloudy, and it did sprinkle a little this afternoon. It was still quite cool in the morning so I didn't head out until about 1 PM. I would have liked to have been there for the parade at 10 AM, but neither of us though that would be much fun in the cold and fog. As it turned out, Dianna was not feeling well so I went alone.
As I rode into town I saw cars parked everywhere. Although the parade was long over there were obviously many picnics, parties, and family gatherings going on. I rode to the Labor Day Park and easily found a place to park the scooter. It looked as I remembered it except that it seemed much smaller. I remember sitting on the grassy slope where many people were sitting.
There was a car show going on, and I looked at the 30 or so cars twice. I then walked through the craft and concession area two or three times. There were maybe 10 craft stands and maybe 8 food stands. I listened to the entertainment for as long as I could stand their off key singing. I also walked through the carnival ride area. There were maybe six rides, but they were not of any interest if you were older than 8.
The place was packed, but I really don't know what everyone was doing. I guess it was just the thing to do. There was a horse pull going on with a couple hundred in the stands, but there were several hundred just wandering around the rest of the grounds. I guess this is another example of community. There was absolutely nothing going on that would interest anyone who didn't live in the area.
I left after a little more than an hour. I felt funny about doing so, but I had seen everything two or three times. There just wasn't anything else to see or do. It struck me again that it was about community. This is a community get-together, and I'm no longer part of it.
On the way back to Cuba I rode around Rushford Lake. I saw the public beach where we used to swim. Both Cuba and Rushford lakes do not have an inch of land surrounding them without houses. It is so different from the lakes I am accustomed to in the west.
I did stop and take one photo on the way back. See if you can figure out whose house it is.
Sunday, September 5, 2010
Every night at 6:01 PM the siren is tested here in Cuba. It is almost like the whistle that signifies the end of the day. It only lasts about 10 seconds but it is clearly heard all over town. It would be impossible not to hear it. It takes a couple seconds to spool up to a steady pitch, then it holds that pitch for a few seconds, then it spools down.
The pattern is different when the siren is sounded to call the volunteers. It spools up, holds the pitch for a few seconds, spools down somewhat but then spools back up again. It repeats this pattern for a minute or two. The rising and lowering pitch makes it unmistakable and impossible not to hear.
The siren has sounded three or four times since we have been here. A few evenings ago it went off about 7 PM and in just a couple minutes we saw fire trucks heading north out of town past our RV park. Most likely they were responding to a traffic accident or medical emergency because ambulances soon followed. At 1:55 this morning we had the first night time sounding of the siren since we have been here. It woke both of us and probably everyone else in town. Apparently not enough volunteers responded though, because five minutes later it sounded again.
As I lay in bed, trying to go back to sleep, I thought about the difference between living in the city and living in a small community. I realized that the difference is just that.... community.
Saturday, September 4, 2010
Monday, August 30, 2010
While everyone has heard of the Eire Canal, not so many know about the Genesee Valley Canal. It was an amazing project for the times and ran from the Erie Canal near Rochester, all the way to Olean, joining the Genesee River which flows north into Lake Ontario, with the Allegheny River which flows west into the Ohio and eventually the Mississippi. Cuba Lake was originally built to supply water for the canal, and was the largest man-made lake in the country at its completion.
When we arrived at the ruins of the historic locks we pulled out Dale's map and discovered that there was a trail from there back to Portageville. Although it was longer than we had planned to hike, almost 6 miles, we decided to go for it. Dale and I took his pickup to the other end of the trail and rode back together on the scooter to the starting point where Dianna waited. I asked him if he felt like throwing newspapers as we did so many times on our paper route in high school.
The trail followed the locks for about half a mile as they climbed, and we marveled at the design and work that went into building them in the early 1800's. When we reached the top of the locks the trail joined the right of way for the old railroad that replaced the canal, so the hike for the next four miles or so was relatively level. Along the way we stopped at a couple geocaches that were right along the trail.
We eventually reached the Genesee Gorge,
and were treated to spectacular views of the middle
and upper falls.
Not many people see the falls from the side we were on because you have to hike to get to it. We could see all the cars and people on the other side.
Just above the upper falls is the Portage Railroad Bridge. The current steel bridge, still in use today, was built in 1875 to replace a wooden bridge that was built in 1852 but burned on May 5, 1875. It is another example of amazing construction from a bygone era.
The last mile or so was more difficult as we left the railroad right of way and climbed up, over and down a ridge to where we had left the truck. According to my GPS we walked 5.71 miles, and all of us were feeling it, although I'm sure Dale was feeling it much less than Dianna and I. It was just a short tune up for his hike next weekend with Karen for him.
We drove into Portageville for ice cream before returning to where we had parked the scooter. We loaded our gear into the scooter, said our goodbyes, and rode back to Cuba, arriving about 6 PM. It was a fun day filled with pretty scenery, good exercise and good times.
Saturday, August 28, 2010
We then visited Cuba Library. They added a new section in 2002 that more than doubled the size of the building. I went in and looked around. It is still a very small library and I am amazed at how small the original building was. Here is a photo of the outside.
We also took another look at the corner where Dad's service station used to be. It is now occupied by a large new fire station that takes up not only the corner but also the lot behind it.
It was a warm afternoon so we continued our ride. We rode over the hill to West Clarksville and took pictures of Aunt Ruth and Uncle Sy's house, as well as the school across the street where she taught.
We then continued south past the West Genessee Cemetery and into Portville. Just as we came into town we noticed a large and beautiful building on the left, surrounded by large lawns. It was Sprague's Maple Farm which is a working commercial maple syrup operation, as well as a very nice restaurant. We stopped in and bought half a gallon of syrup for less than we have found it elsewhere, including Costco, and made plans to come back for breakfast or dinner sometime.
I had no idea where Aunt Hattie and Uncle Ruben Hatch's house was, so we continued our ride through Portville and on to the outskirts of Olean where we turned north to Hinsdale. We stopped at Crosby's to see if they still have ice cream. They do, but it is now Hershey's Ice Cream. We have had that somewhere before and it is very good. Much of their business yesterday afternoon was people getting ice cream. It appears the tradition is still alive.
With that we returned home and spend a quiet evening. Today we have something fun to do as soon as the fog burns off. We'll tell you about it tomorrow.
Yesterday we did some major riding around. First we rode up Friendship road to find Mom's old house. It took some doing since the road has been realigned in many places, and the interstate has run through the whole valley. I found her house on a spur road off the main road. The interstate is basically in the back yard. None of the outbuildings are there anymore, but the house looks pretty good. We talked with the current owner for a few minutes.
On the way back into town we pulled off the road on a snowmobile trail above Hidden Canyon , a place I used to play as a child. I hiked down into the canyon and discovered that someone had built and then abandoned a nice brick house there. It looks like it has not been lived in for may years. The valley floor is quite overgrown so it does not look like kids play there anymore. I also took a photo of where the creek flows under the railroad. When the creek was low we would sometimes walk through it to get to Hidden Canyon, but usually we went over the top and across the tracks.
We then rode up Spring St. to the end of the road. The elevation is about 2,000 feet there and the views of Cuba were very pretty. Then we rode back into town and past the city park where the Little League ballpark is located. I think the Trask family lived on the south side of the park. They are some distant cousins. We then rode out South St. and under the railroad overpass to look at the horse barn. It is still an impressive building and very much in use.
We rode back into town and down Orchard St. past the Briggs house again. I noticed that there is no longer a car bridge on Mill street to get across the creek. There is only a foot bridge. We drove up West Main past the old depot which no longer exists, although the track is still obviously in use, and past Cuba Memorial Hospital. It looks much different now with all the additions.
We came back into town via Prospect street where my piano teacher lived, and past the upper mill which is now a feed store. We also stopped at the house on West Main where Mom and Dad rented an apartment while building our house on Hill St. I also took a photo of the creek beside the apartment as well as a photo of the park across the street. It looks very much like it did. I think the slide is the same one that Dale and I used to wax up with waxed paper when we used it.
We then rode past the old high school which is now apparently just the elementary. The elementary school across the street that was built when I was a kid is now a private academy. There is a new high school north of town. We also rode up Medbury past where the old school used to be. It was no longer in use when I was a kid, and I think maybe even when Mom went to school. It has been torn down and there are now apartments in its place. As long as we were there we rode around the cemetery and past Millers house.
After a quick stop at the Cheese Shoppe for some curd we rode north out of town to Moonwinks, which is now a high priced restaurant, turned left onto the south shore road and took a ride all the way around the lake. On the way we made a short detour to Oil Springs, where oil was first discovered on the North American continent, and then a quick stop were the old Cuba Lake Pavilion was located. Everything is gone and replaced with houses except that the house where the Merry Go Round was located is built in the shape of the building that housed it. I don't know if they used the original octagonal shaped building or just recreated the shape.
We continued on to the Black Creek Road, past the house that someone won in a national contest (Hotpoint or something like that), and rode up to Black Creek. I was bussed to Black Creek for 5th grade. This looks like the building I remember. It looks like a private home or apartment building now.
All in all it was a fun afternoon of wandering around.
I will post pictures in my gallery when I figure out what is wrong with Java.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Although it rained most of the afternoon I was able to try out the new braking system in a few places. It works great. I have more stopping power than I have ever had towing a trailer. It's a good feeling, but he wallet does not feel so good. In addition to having the brakes done while in NH, we also had to have some suspension work done on the truck. With over 660,000 miles on it, it is not unexpected for some things to wear out.
We decided to spend some more time in Western New York, partly so we could spend a little more time with Dale's family and with Greg and Tina, but also because it is still too hot to head south toward Tennessee. Rather than traveling further north we decided to keep our expenses low and just find a place to hunker down. After making several phone calls and consulting multiple campground guides we discovered that there is an RV park (yes, an RV park -- not a campground) in Cuba that is about half as expensive as anything else we could find in Western New York. So, here we are, back where I started from.
We don't have any specific plans yet, but will probably be here a month. I talked to Dale a little while ago and I think he needs a social secretary. He is a busy guy but we will find times we can get together here, there, and in between. It's about 75 miles to his place and about 85 to Greg and Tina's from Cuba. We want to visit Letchworth, take a drive down to Potter County, and spend some more time wandering around.
In the meantime we will enjoy the cooler temps and the beautiful scenery while we wait for it to cool down. Mom has already sent an email telling us how jealous she is and giving us some picture taking assignments. I'm sure Don is also jealous because the Cuba Cheese Shop is only a couple hundred yards from our RV site. Can you say curds?
Monday, August 23, 2010
Several people here told us about the scenery in the northern part of New Hampshire. In particular they suggested that we would enjoy the Kancamagus Scenic Byway between Conway and Lincoln. It is about a 30 mile highway that is best known as one of the premier drives for seeing fall foliage.
We left the Kingston area where we are staying and rode north on highway 125 to highway 16 that runs to Conway. The traffic was very heavy in places as it seems many people had the same idea. It turns out that the Conway/Lincoln area is very heavily visited all summer long, and Conway in particular is a major tourist destination.
The scenery on the way up was just about as good as the scenery on the Kank itself, except that there are some vistas as the highway rises to an elevation of over 2800 feet at the crest. For those of us westerners that sounds silly, but it is a big deal here. The road follows a pretty river for part of the route and there were several areas that had many visitors. Not only were the parking lots full but people were parking along the road. One particularly crowded area was near a waterfall that was a popular swimming and sunbathing area.
The return route brought us down I-93 but for an interstate highway, it was still a pretty ride. We arrived home with sore behinds but had a good time in spite of it.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
As I mentioned in the previous post, we are having new brakes put on the trailer. A little background is in order. Most RV trailer brakes are electric. It is a system that has been around for many, many years. It consists of drum style brakes on each trailer wheel that are engaged when an electrical current activates an electromagnet that tries to grab the turning wheel drum. This in turn causes the arm attached to the electromagnet to turn, thereby mechanically applying the brake shoes through a gear and cam system. The electric current is supplied from a brake controller on the tow vehicle. This controller can be of various types but is most commonly a mechanical or electronic pendulum that senses when the tow vehicle is slowing, and applies a proportionate current to the trailer brakes.
There are many problems with this type of system, but one benefit. It is cheap. That's why trailer manufacturers use them. The drawbacks are that they need constant adjustment, do not work well when hot, are not proportionate to the brake pedal pressure, tend to rust when not used, rely on electrical signals and a lot of wire that is exposed to the elements and passes through fuses and connectors, including the notoriously unreliable trailer plug where the lights also connect. Although there are better brake controllers for the tow vehicle, they do not address most of the issues.
All cars use hydraulic brakes, and have since the 30's or 40's. Hydraulic brakes use a couple cylinders and brake fluid that presses the brake shoes or discs against the braking surface. Starting in the 60's disc brakes also replaced drum brakes on the front wheels of most cars (where most of the braking occurs), and now many cars have disc brakes on front and rear.
RV manufacturers have continued to use electric brakes, and do to this day. In recent years however, some aftermarket manufacturers as well as some axle manufacturers have begun offering hydraulic disc brakes for RV's. It is rare for them to be offered on new trailers except as an option on the heaviest or custom rigs, but many owners are now upgrading their rigs with the newer systems. The resulting improvement in braking performance is remarkable.
There is still the decision about how to apply the brakes. Disc brakes need hydraulic pressure and use brake fluid. It is not possible or practical to tie into the tow vehicles braking system, and of course it is impossible when the tow vehicle has air brakes like we do. The two basic approaches are to use an electrically operated hydraulic pump that is controlled by the same old inertial brake controller, or if you have a tow vehicle with air brakes, use the air system to operate a hydraulic master cylinder, very similar to the way it happens in your car.
The advantage of the air actuated system is obvious. There are no electrical connections to corrode, short out or fail. The system relies on the same air pressure from the truck to apply the trailer brakes as it uses to apply the truck brakes. The brake response is instantaneous (unlike the electrical type that must wait for the hydraulic pump to spool up) and proportionate. The system is installed in the trailer and consists of an air tank, a master cylinder and a few valves. Air is provided through the use of the same "glad hands" that all commercial trucks use to supply air to their trailers. Those are the red and blue coiled air hoses you see connecting the truck to the trailer.
All those who have had this system installed rave about it. It is a tremendous improvement in safety and driveability. We are looking forward to reporting on our experience with it as soon as we get it installed. And therein lies the rub, so to speak. Although the brake controller system arrived from the manufacturer as promised, and is already installed on the truck and trailer, the disc brake manufacturer had supply issues and did not ship them until last Friday. They are expected to arrive on Wednesday and should be installed Thursday and maybe into Friday.
So here we sit, hiding behind a building in an industrial park. We do have 50 amp electric and water hookups, and we have internet and TV, so other than the view it's not too bad. We'll let you know how it all turns out.
The parts arrived on Wed as scheduled and today was install day. Well, almost. Some of the parts were the wrong ones, so the correct ones have been ordered but will not be here until Monday. So we get to spend another weekend in the industrial park. It could be worse. I could be paying to park here.
Maybe we will take a ride on the scooter this weekend to see some more of NH.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Greg and Tina arrived on Wednesday and like most everyone else, stayed in hotels in downtown Boston or Cambridge. After making a few phone calls we learned that Tina's parents, who are also RV'ers, were staying in the same campground we were, and arriving that afternoon. Tina's Dad Arnie came over and helped me get the desk out of the trailer and onto the back of the truck. We then set off on the 25 mile trip to MIT where Patricia and David's apartment is located.
Since I did not know how to get there, I followed my GPS's directions. Wrong! It took me directly into downtown Cambridge and onto Memorial Drive, the street that runs along the Charles River. It is clearly marked as "No Trucks", but what was I going to do? The only real issues were heavy traffic and the height restrictions. I feel like I should send the City of Cambridge a bill for tree trimming as I certainly trimmed more than a few. We soon came to a place where an overpass was too low for us to continue so we detoured on some nearby residential streets until we could get back on Memorial Drive and eventually to our destination. The 25 mile trip took an hour an a half. The trip back to our campground took even longer due to heavier traffic and construction detours that started at 8 PM. Fortunately I was able to learn of a route with more height clearance from some moving van drivers who were unloading furniture in the same apartment.
Thursday we started our sightseeing. Dianna, Dom and I drove to the nearest subway station where we could park the truck for the day ($11.50) and took the subway to downtown Boston and then out to Cambridge for a tour of Harvard University. There we met up with Carrie, Julie, Marie, Michele and Kelli (Michele's friend). After the tour and some lunch we all took the subway down Mass Avenue a couple miles to MIT where Patricia met us and gave us all a behind the scenes tour. Both universities have a lot of history and interesting architecture.
After the tour it began to rain -- no, make that pour. We all got soaked but that did not stop us from walking to a nearby ice cream shop for some sustenance that would keep us going on our way home. We left MIT at 4 PM for our journey back to the campground, 25 miles away. Carrie was with us as she was staying with us for the week. It took almost 2 hours to get to the subway station where we had parked our truck, and another hour of driving to get back to the trailer. Someone needs to explain to me how great public transportation is, and why anyone in their right mind would live in the Boston area. Three hours to go 25 miles.
Friday Dianna, Carrie, Dom and I visited nearby Minuteman National Historic Park in Concord and Lexington. We stood on the North Bridge where the "Shot heard round the world" was fired and watched a very good movie about what happened there. On the road between Concord and Lexington we stopped at a couple places including the spot where Paul Revere was captured on his midnight ride. We learned that much of what we know of his ride warning the patriots has been "spun", to put it mildly. He was only one of many riders that night, although he was probably the best known in the leadership of the movement. He did not make it to Concord since he was captured but Dr. Samuel Prescott, who was returning from Lexington to Concord and met up with Revere, did.
In fact, after spending some time here I am convinced that much of what we celebrate and teach about the Revolutionary War, and all other wars for that matter, is romanticized and embellished by writers and those who want to put the proper spin on things after the fact. No one really knows what was said that is often quoted and enshrined on statues. At that point in history the idea of breaking away from England was only held by a very few. Many were unhappy about paying high taxes but the idea of independence was still a ways away.
Sorry about the editorial comments.
After visiting the Minuteman Park we drove to Walden Pond and did some hiking. We visited the spot where Henry David Thoreau built and lived in his cabin in the woods, and then hiked all the way around the pond. It was about a two hour hike and just what we all needed -- more walking.
Saturday was the wedding for which we all traveled to this side of the continent. Being Saturday, we were able to drive the truck to a parking lot near the church in Cambridge where we could park for free on weekends. Traffic was much lighter and it only took us 45 minutes to go the 25 miles. The wedding was very nice. Patricia was a beautiful bride and she and David are off in Vermont on their honeymoon. Tina decorated their gorgeous cake and the reception was catered by Boston Market. We all helped clean up afterward and by the time that was done we were all ready to eat again. We all took the subway to downtown Boston (across the Charles River) where we did a little sight seeing and then had dinner just off Boston Common. We were quite a large group by then as Marie's husband Adam and Michele's boyfriend Robert had joined us.
Sunday we again drove in to Cambridge and parked at the school. We then took the subway to Boston Common where everyone except Robert, Michele and Kelli met to do the Freedom Trail. It is a two and a half mile walk through downtown Boston that takes you to many of the historic places in the city. If you are interested in all the stops you can Google it. Of course it included the Old North Church, Paul Revere's home and several meeting houses. The last stop on the trail is the USS Constitution, "Old Ironsides". We took the tour and everyone enjoyed seeing the ship. It is undergoing maintenance again, an almost continuous process, so we did not get to see the height of the masts nor the cross arms, but it is still an impressive ship. They still sail it about six times a year. We took the ferry from the Charleston Navy Yard where the Constitution is moored, back to downtown Boston where we all said our goodbyes and hopped on the subway for the ride back to the truck again.
Monday was spent mostly in the Concord area again, except for an early morning motorcycle ride I took to West Kingston, NH and back. I went to make arrangements to have a new braking system installed on our trailer. More about that later.
When I returned from NH I took Dianna, Carrie and Dom to Concord where they rented a canoe for a couple hours and paddled from the South Bridge to the Old North Bridge on the Concord River and back. Along with swimming in the pool and making 'smores that evening, that pretty much filled our last day in the campground.
Tuesday we packed everything up, towed the trailer to a nearby truck stop where we could leave it for a couple hours, and drove Carrie to the subway station so she could make her way back to the airport and home. We returned to get the trailer and then drove up to New Hampshire where we parked the trailer behind one of the building in the industrial park where we will have the brake work done. We then drove the 20 miles or so to Rye Beach, New Hampshire so Dom and Nana could go for a swim in the Atlantic Ocean. Unfortunately, since we are above Cape Cod the Gulf Stream does not reach this coast and neither went in farther than their waist. Oh well. He's now been in both the Atlantic and Pacific, and of course Dianna has been in the Arctic as well.
Wednesday was Dom's last day with us this year. The wife of the owner of the place we are having the brake work done offered to take us to the airport. It is about a 40 mile trip each way and Dom's plane left at 5:30 so it was heavy commute traffic time. She knew the best way to go to miss as much of it as possible, and all it cost was a tank of gas and dinner.
We had a good time with Dom this year. He saw lots of the country, including eight new states, and was a joy to have along. We look forward to having his spend time with us again next summer if he is so inclined.
So now you can see that we have been busy. And, it's not over yet. We're now trying to relax for a few days and get our sanity back. Come back soon for another installment of "The Summer of 2010 with Richard and Dianna".
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Dale and Karen decided on an outing for the day. We all met in Lockport near the Erie Canal locks and took a tour of some tunnels there. They were dug and used for power in the early days of the industrial revolution. They were built similar to hydro electric power systems of today, but they ran belts and pulleys that did work in the factory instead of generators. It was interesting.
We met at the Wal-Mart parking lot in Lockport and had quite a group. Jen and her three were there as well as Karen, Nate and Noah. They had driven up from Pittsburgh the day before. Dale had just finished his deliveries for the day and met us there too. He was not officially off work yet, but he had a couple hours before he had to return to the warehouse. After the tunnel tour and some hiking along the canal all of us except Dale had a very late lunch at a nearby restaurant. We then all met at Jen and Dale's house in Buffalo for a while. Dom showed Noah and the rest of us some tricks on his skateboard, then Jen and her family left for Franklinville. We headed home soon thereafter.
The next day we drove to Rochester. There were lots of low trees and repaving in Greg and Tina's development, but we made it with no damage. They live in a pretty area on a large lot. We were able to park the trailer and truck in the driveway with room left over. After eating lunch we all (Me, Dianna, Dom, Greg, Tina and Michele) headed down to Lake Canandaigua where we met Dale, Karen, Nate, Noah, Dave and Lisa. We had never met Lisa before and she is a real sweetheart. Dave is a lucky guy.
We rented some kayaks and spent some time on and in the lake. Well, everyone except for Dale and I. We decided we were too old and didn't want to get wet. Dom & Michele had a good water fight with Karen and Noah out on the lake so they all got soaked. We then headed back toward Rochester where we all had pizza for dinner. It was a long day and we said our goodbyes to Dale and his clan. It was great fun spending time with them.
Sunday we went to church and then puttered around the rest of the day. I rotated tires on my trailer and did some work on the brakes. I've been fighting some shorts in the electric brakes on the trailer and it is becoming more problematic all the time. It's about time for a permanent fix.
Monday we left Rochester and began our trip to Boston. It would cost over $70 to take the NY Thruway across the state so we stayed on US highways. It took a lot longer but we saw some interesting small towns and beautiful scenery. Unfortunately we also saw lots of ups and downs and gave the brakes on the truck quite a workout since the brakes on the trailer were cutting out much of the time. It also reduced our MPG quite a lot as well. We stopped for the night in a campground near Albany.
Tuesday we continued our trek to the Minuteman Campground in Littleton, MA. It was our home for the next week. I mentioned in a previous post about the differences between RV parks in most of the country and what are called campgrounds here in the north east. This campground is a perfect example. It is in the dense woods with narrow, winding roads that make getting in and out with a rig of our size a challenge. Most of the people there were on vacation and were from the local area. Most were in small campers or just in tents. Of course our satellite was useless but they did have wireless internet that worked pretty well. They also had cable TV but that didn't do much good since we couldn't record on our DVRs. Unfortunately, this park is one of the few options in the Boston area, but the closest to Boston & Cambridge, so we had to take what was available. Did I mention that it was also the most expensive place we have ever stayed at over $50 per night? They do have a pool which got used a few times by Dom, Carrie and Dianna.
We will tell you about our week in Boston in the next post.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
As we got off the Interstate in Randolph we immediately realized that a tornado had just hit. We later learned that it happened that weekend (we were there Tuesday) but that no one was killed. There was a lot of damage to trees, houses and businesses.
We wound our way through towns that I remembered from 50 years ago until we arrived at our campground about eight miles north of Arcade. After setting up camp I called Dale and he drove down to see us. We had dinner together and a great time talking. He did not leave until 9 which was quite late since he had about a 45 minute drive to get home and try to get a little sleep before getting up at 4:30 for work.
Wednesday we drove the truck to Niagara Falls in the morning. We had some excitement on the way. As you approach Niagara Falls on I-190 from Buffalo you cross two large toll bridges, and at the base of the second bridge is the turnoff for the American Falls visitor area. It is an off ramp that makes a 270 degree right turn that sends you back under the road you are exiting at the end of the bridge. Just before the off ramp are two signs. One says No Commercial Vehicles, and the second is a photo of a truck with the red circle and line through it. There was no sign indicating any height restrictions so we took the ramp since we are not commercial and technically a motorhome, not a truck We do this all the time and have never had any issues with places like this. If there was a height limit ahead, the actual limit was always posted in time for you take an alternate route. Not here!
As we came out of the off ramp turn and started to merge onto the expressway under the road we had just exited there is a big yellow sign that stated the bridge just ahead of us was only 12 feet. My truck is 13 feet tall. There was no place to go. We had to back all the way up the 270 degrees of off ramp. Of course it was only one lane wide and there was lots of traffic. Dianna got out and directed traffic while I slowly made my way out of there. I can't believe they don't have lots of problems there. Many motorhomes are taller than 12 feet and there were no signs indicating they should not use the route.
After finding our way to a parking area near the falls we did the tourist thing. We rode the Maid of the Mist boat past the American Falls and into the maelstrom below the Canadian Falls. They provided thin plastic rain gear but it did little to keep us all from getting soaked. After seeing the falls we walked to the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch, then headed back to Buffalo. We followed the truck route but once again came upon a sign that said the clearance ahead was only 12' 6", and this was on the truck route! There were no signs indicating where taller trucks should go, so Mr. GPS got a pretty good workout as we explored some of the horrible roads in parts of Niagara Falls that few tourists ever see. In all our travels in the truck over the past 5 plus years we have never experienced anything like this. Our truck is no bigger than many motorhomes, and most cities are smart enough to place appropriate signs in appropriate places if height is going to be a problem ahead.
We finally made it back onto I-190 and drove to Dale's house. He lives with Jennifer, her husband and three kids in an older part of town near the Peace Bridge. We really like looking at the architecture of the older places. Jennifer fixed dinner for us and we all had a good time getting to know the kids and Jen's husband. Dom rode skate boards with Vinnie and Dale and I spent most of the time sitting on the front porch as we sashayed down memory lane.
Today we drove to Franklinville and then over to Rawson where we took pictures of the farm, the Rawson Church, and the grave markers of Grandpa, Grandma, Gertrude, Curtis and Joyce. We also took a picture of Otie Smith's marker. I have never seen a more appropriate gravestone. It has a photo of him from when he was probably in his 30's along with a carved image of a Farmall tractor.
While we were at the cemetery Richard Schaffer stopped by. He figured we must be Laffertys since he saw us taking pictures of the farm and then at the cemetery. He now owns all of the farm except for 14 acres where the house itself is located. We chatted for a few minutes and decided we had probably played together when we were kids.
We then drove through Cuba where we bought cheese, drove by the Briggs house on Orchard Street and our house on Hill Street, then over the hill past West Clarksville where Aunt Ruth lived, and on to Obi where we stopped at the West Genessee Cemetery to visit Dad's grave along with G and G Briggs and all the Friar clan.
Then, after a stop for lunch at the Cuba McDonalds (I know!!!), we drove to Corning where we met Michele Widener (Greg's daughter who is going to USC) who drove down from Rochester to tour the Glass Museum and Glass Works with us. It has changed a lot since the last time I was there and is much larger. It took longer than we expected, so after calling Dale we decided it was just going to be too late to get together with his clan this evening. Karen was driving up from Pittsburgh and would not be there until after 6 PM, and we would not get there until nearly 8, so we decided that it made more sense to just get together tomorrow instead. We plan to spend the whole day with Karen and Jen's family. We don't know exactly what we will do yet, but if you tune in later you will probably find out.
I'll put pictures on the gallery as soon as I find some time.
Monday, July 26, 2010
Our trip down through
The other thing we are dealing with here is toll roads. There are very few of them out west and in the south, and they are easy to avoid if you want to. In the east it is not so easy. If we were driving a car it might not be a big deal but most toll roads and bridges charge based on the number of axles. We have 5 axles, the same as an 18 wheeler. If we had been in a car the toll for the
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
We continued our trek eastward from Ishpeming and arrived in Sault Sainte Marie, MI after driving across the UP (Upper Penninsula) of Michigan through beautiful, green forests. The locals say that the only industries in the UP are prisons and tourists. It is a sportsman's paradise and very lightly populated. We set up camp in an RV park about one mile below the Soo locks, on the St. Mary's River where we had a closeup view of the freighters entering and leaving the locks on their way up and down the lake. Just a few hundred yards across the river is the city of Sault Sainte Maire, Ontario, Canada which is over four times the size of the American city with the same name.
We had a nasty storm blow through during the evening so our only adventure was a walk south along the river for about 3/4 of a mile. Tuesday morning we began our touristy activities by taking a boat tour. The tour took us through the locks to the Superior side where we also cruised by a huge steel plant on the Canadian side. There are two locks on the American side and two on the Canadian, but the Canadian ones are being replaced by one larger one, so all traffic has to use the American side now. We passed a freighter headed down the lake that was exiting the locks as we went in. It was being restocked by a supply ship while underway. As we exited the locks on the way back we passed another freighter, the Mesabi Miner, just preparing to enter upstream. The Mesabi Miner was the same ship we had watched pass under the lift bridge leaving Duluth just a few days earlier. It had made its delivery and was on its way back north for another load.
If you are interested in the history of the locks you can Google it, but the quick version is that the rapids prevented ships from venturing between Lake Huron and Lake Superior until the locks were built in 1855. They have been rebuilt several times as ships have grown in size. The locks raise or lower boats 21 feet. Traffic was heaviest during WWII, and has actually declined in recent years as ships have gotten larger and since we have stopped shipping so much grain to Russia. There is an average of one ship through the locks every one and a half hours.
After our boat tour we went to a drive-in burger place that we were told was great. We have to agree. The cheeseburgers were at least half a pound and only $4. The fries and onion rings were $2 each and more than two people could eat. Later in the afternoon we visited a museum in the old Weather Service building where we learned that President Grant signed the authorization for the National Weather Service because so many sailors were dying in storms on the Great Lakes (and elsewhere) that they were not aware of. We also visited some of the obligatory tourist traps along main street so Dom could add to his collection of key chains, and made a Wal-Mart run. We watched Avatar again on Blu-Ray before turning in for the night.
Today we crossed over the Mackinaw Bridge that connects the UP with the rest of Michigan. It is one of the engineering wonders of the world at about 5 miles long. As we crossed, Lake Michigan was on our right and Lake Huron was on our left. We immediately exited the interstate and followed the Lake Huron shoreline south as far as Alpena where we turned inland a few miles to our RV park. It was another beautiful drive.
Pictures of the last couple days will be on the gallery soon.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Thursday we headed north on I-35 toward Duluth. Almost immediately we came across a sign that said any vehicles over 10 tons had to exit the highway and take a detour. The detour ran us through downtown St. Paul and cost over an hour of time. Not fun. Then about 30 miles north of Minneapolis, on some of the worst maintained interstate we have ever seen, the driver of an 18 wheeler that passed us did not notice the traffic slowing ahead until almost too late. He locked up all wheels and began to jack knife, but somehow regained control at the last second. That was more excitement than we wanted.
We continued north until about 20 miles south of Duluth where there was another detour for all vehicles over 9 tons. This again ran us way out of our way to our destination. We ended up entering Duluth from the northwest instead of the south. It turns out they have a major construction project underway in Duluth and most lanes are very narrow, with many off and on ramps closed. It was not the most relaxing travel day.
We arrived at one of the most interesting places we have ever stayed. The spit of land that forms Duluth/Superior harbor has many marinas. One of those allows RV parking during the summer where they store boats during the winter. Our spot backed up to the lake. In fact, I could not walk behind the trailer without falling off the pier into the lake. It was almost like being in a houseboat.
We toured the maritime museum and watched the famous lift bridge in operation as a huge freighter left Duluth for somewhere east on the Great Lakes. Except for a lot of walking, it was an interesting afternoon.
Friday we drove about 100 miles east along the south shore of Lake Superior to the town of Washburn, Wisconsin where we set up camp in a city park overlooking the lake. We spent two nights there, just relaxing, hiking and doing a little geocaching. We did visit the North Woods Visitor Center located about 7 miles south of our campground. There were many good displays and lots of information about the area.
Yesterday we continued our trek east along the southern shore of Lake Superior. We stopped for the night in Ishpeming, Michigan. We did laundry, swam in the pool, soaked in the hot tub, ate sundaes at McDonalds, and Nana and Dom went to a movie at the nearby theaters.
Today we plan to move to Sault Sainte Marie for a couple nights. We have a reservation at a campground right on the river, just below the locks. We will tell you all about it soon.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Amana colonies was begun about 1860 by a religious sect from Germany. The actual name of the religious movement is "The Community of True Inspiration." They believe that certain of their early leaders had "inspirations" that were given to them by God. Those inspirations were collected in a book that they consider sacred. They broke away from the Lutheran Church in the early 1700's and moved to America in the early 1800's to escape persecution. They originally settled near Buffalo, NY but soon outgrew their land there and eventually purchased land in Iowa about 1850 to relocate there.
When they moved to the US, they adopted a communal way of life although they had not lived in that manner in Germany. In addition to trying to more closely follow their understanding of how early Christians lived, it just worked better as a method of pooling resources and establishing a community. They were quite successful with the communal lifestyle for many years, but by the early 1930's it fell apart. This was due to many causes but mostly to the fact that younger generations no longer wanted to live the cloistered, communal lifestyle and they wanted a higher education than the 8th grade. The commune was changed to a corporation and individuals were given stock in the company. That corporation was the Amana company which soon began manufacturing appliances.
The Amana Colonies consists of 7 villages spread over about a 20 mile area that are still in existence and lived in. Only about 350 of the residents are still members of the original church. Most people who live there are not, but the communities have been retained in remarkable condition.
We toured the 7 villages and stopped at museums and shops in most. We visited a communal kitchen, a communal farm, one of the original stores and transportation centers, as well as just wandering around and looking at the well kept communities. We ended the day in the largest of the villages, Amana, which is now pretty much a tourist destination. It has all the obligatory shops and restaurants where you can buy stuff you don't need and overpriced food. We did take advantage of the food. It was of course, German and home style, but actually pretty good.
Sunday we moved north toward Minneapolis and spent the night at an RV park about half way. Then Monday we moved to a regional park just 5 miles south of Minneapolis Airport. From the campground you would never know you are right next to a major metro area. The place is very secluded and pretty.
Dom arrived from Dallas about noon yesterday and we picked him up at the airport. Our first stop was the Mall of America, located between us and the airport. It is advertised as the biggest mall in the world, but who knows how "biggest" is measured. We were expecting something similar to the Edmondton Mall that we visited in Canada about three years ago, but this really did not live up to expectations. It is just a very large mall. It is built in a rectangular shape, with three levels of shops, multiple food courts and restaurants, an amusement park in the center, miniature golf course, movie theaters and aquarium. But, at least 90 percent of the stores are just the same stores that can be seen at every mall in America. I think every chain store in the country is represented. Even the food courts have the same vendors that you see everywhere. Maybe that's why they call it the Mall of America. It looks just like every other mall in the country.
The amusement park had typical carnival rides and nothing really unique. The prices were astronomical so we passed. We just couldn't justify spending almost $30 per person for rides that were a scaled down version of what you might see at Six Flags or Magic Mountain. After visiting Edmonton Mall and being really amazed at all the things there, Mall of America was a disappointment.
We returned to the campground where we picked wild blackberries and raspberries that Nana combined with strawberries to make a delicious pie. After dinner we watched some TV, played some games and called it a night.
The plan for today was to head north toward Duluth, but the weather forecast looks very stormy, including possible tornadoes. We may just stay here another day and wait for the storms to move through.
Friday, July 9, 2010
Yesterday we drove south toward Moscow and stopped at West Branch, Iowa where the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and birthplace are located. It was a very interesting place and we enjoyed learning about him. He was a pretty amazing man who accomplished much before and after his presidency but will always be linked with the Great Depression. I suspect that he is like most presidents in that they all get the blame or credit for things they had nothing to do with. That's just the nature of the beast and the way politics works.
There are 12 Presidential Libraries in the country and I have now been to 7 of them. Dianna has been to 6 since she was not with me when I went to the JFK library in Boston a few years ago. We may hit a few more on this trip.
We arrived at the HWH factory about 4 PM where they have electric hookups available for people who are having work done the following day. Our appointment was for 7 AM so we had to get up at 6, which is way before our normal get'n up time! They replaced a bad solenoid and the front return springs in less than two hours. It cost less than we had feared so we were pleased.
We then drove east another 15 miles on I-80 to the Iowa I-80 Truck Stop, the largest truck stop in the world. Yesterday and today is their annual Truck Jamboree and there were all kinds of going's on. We had breakfast in the dining room and wandered through some of the exhibits. It was interesting.
We then drove 50 miles west to the Amana Colonies. We plan to stay here for a couple days so will update everyone about what we learn after we have had a chance to check it out. Stay tuned.
Monday, July 5, 2010
We then moved back to Billings for a couple days. I needed to get the clutch on the truck adjusted and Dianna wanted to do some more genealogy research there. She did find some more information about her family and was able to get a copy of her grandparents marriage license.
We then moved to Miles City, MT where Dianna knew her relatives had once lived and discovered that her Great Grandfather, the one from Red Lodge, had died there. We obtained a copy of his death certificate but were not able to find his grave in the cemetery since there is no map or record of exactly where he was interred. We found his obituary on microfilm of the local newspaper and learned that his mother was still living when he died, and that she had moved to Ventura, CA to live with a daughter. That finally filled in some major blanks.
With all the genealogy locations in Montana researched, we headed for Minot, ND where we had arranged for our mail to be sent. We spent the night in an RV park due to the high heat, around 95. I'm afraid hookups are going to be the norm from now on. It's just too hot. Our original plan was to stay through the holiday weekend at the State Fairgrounds in Minot, but discovered that they were closed for the month of July so they could get ready for the upcoming fair. We usually like to find an out of the way place before long weekends start, and hunker down while all the families take over campgrounds.
Unfortunately, with the fair grounds being closed we had to make new plans. We found a small, out of the way RV park near Jamestown, ND and moved there to hide out. Our satellite internet connection is very poor near the Canadian border in this area, so moving a little south helped us get a better signal as well. We are there now and plan to leave tomorrow for points east.
That's about it. We will be picking Dom up in Minneapolis on the 13th. Between now and then we will either explore northern Minnesota or make a quick dash down to Moscow, IA to have some repairs done to our leveling jacks. They are worn and need to be rebuilt after eight years of continuous use. We'll let you know.
PS: If anyone is not receiving e-mail updates whenever we move, and would like to, let me know and I will add you to the list. It is a feature of our satellite internet system. It will send you a link to a map showing our location along with a short note whenever we move.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
After a sleepless night Richard woke me up early to tell me we needed to get to a doctor. Since he only goes to the doctor for an annual check-up I immediately knew it was serious. His stomach was distended and his pain on a scale of 1-10 was a 10+. When he was having his back problems his pain level was never more than an 8 so, again, I knew it was pretty bad.
They ran tests and determined he had a lower bowel obstruction. His intestines had pockets of air as well as fluid putting a tremendous amount of pressure in his mid belly region. They put a tube down his nose into his stomach and proceeded to pump out junk hoping to relieve the pressure, plus they gave him IV fluids to try to get his bowels working again. His pain remained at a high level even after 6 mg of morphine.
If this procedure hadn't worked he'd have been sent to Billings where they would have done surgery to relieve the obstruction.
They admitted him so they could continue giving him fluids and pump out "stuff". His pain level was down to a 5 by early afternoon so he didn't ask for any more morphine. By about 4:30 he was writhing in pain again so they gave him some more morphine. It took a total of 6 mg again to get him comfortable enough to finally be able to go to sleep. That's when the pump was finally able to do its job and as he slept things began to improve. When he awoke he was pain free - and he's been pain free ever since! All I can say is, "Thank you, Jesus for answered prayers".
They took the tube first thing this morning and started him on a liquid diet. They brought him a liquid lunch but he complained enough that they checked with his doctor who approved a soft meal. He only got a bowl of chicken noodle soup but it was better than nothing. They told him they'd bring him some ice cream in awhile, which I know will be a nice treat for him.
So it looks like he will be discharged late this afternoon if his bowels continue to work like they have been the past few hours. We will go back to the same spot we were at, south of Red Lodge, for the night and then head out first thing in the morning again for Billings (and not in an ambulance, thank the Lord!).
When it rains it pours. I spent all morning dealing with our credit card company and the VA.
Someone attempted to fraudulently use it to purchase something on the internet using Paypal. We can't figure out how that would have been possible but, after several phone calls, the result is our cards have been canceled and we are having new ones overnighted to Billings. Now the hassle of redoing all our automatic monthly bill payments, etc., etc. No fun.
The VA is a regional system so when we told them he has VA insurance they assumed he is registered with the MT office. Since he isn't his claim would have been denied. After I brought this to their attention, the hospital business office contacted the TX VA to determine his eligibility and then the MT office to register him with them.
So, we've had all the excitement we can stand for awhile and pray the rest of our travels this summer & fall will be fun, but uneventful! Thank you everyone, for your prayers and good thoughts. And thank you, Daryl, for your extremely kind offer to help. That was above & beyond.
I had to walk a over a mile to a coffee house on Broadway (Red Lodge's Main St.) so I could get an internet connection. It's a beautiful 75 degrees out so it was a lovely walk. It was good to get out of the hospital and get some fresh air.