Sunday, August 25, 2013

Mini Vacation and Repairs Done

We had one more big job for Duncan that would require us to be out of the rig for a couple days so we took a mini vacation along the Lake Michigan coast.  Our tech, Dan, was ill on Monday so we waited until Tuesday to leave.  The real advantage to not having a set schedule.
The last job was to install new AGM maintenance free batteries.  The battery tray was corroded to the point that it needed to be sandblasted and repainted.  The job is now all done and I am happy that I will not have to worry about topping off the water in the batteries.  Our overall experience at Duncan RV Service was very satisfactory and we would recommend them to anyone who needs just about any kind of work done.  Even though the work was done, we decided to take advantage of the "free" camping at Duncan so I could wash the exterior while Nanc cleaned the interior of the rig.
We headed to Lake Michigan where our first stop was the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.  The park is a patchwork of over 15,000 acres that has been saved from industrial development.  There is a steel mill and a big power plant right next to the park.  Even with those industrial sites the park offers several miles of undisturbed sandy lake shore. 
Part of the park surrounds the Beverly Shores housing development that was started in the early 1900's.  These homes were brought here from the Century of Progress exhibit at the 1933 Chicago Exposition.  They are now owned by the park service and leased to private individuals.  The pink one is a Florida home.  The round House of Tomorrow is being repaired.  Bottom is a house covered with steel and a cedar log home.  Indiana Dunes is a neat oasis in the middle of an urban industrial area.    
Since we were traveling mid week we did not make a reservation.  We drove through a couple of small beach towns and ended up staying in Saint Joseph, a neat little place.
Saint Joseph was once the home of the Silver Beach Amusement Park.  The site is now a county park, but they do have a beautiful carousel that Nanc could not resist.
The weather was wonderful and the sandy beach was crowded with sun bathers.
Saint Joseph has these neat old lighthouses at the harbor entrance.  They are typical of other Great Lakes lighthouses we have seen.  There are often two together so boats would know they were heading toward the harbor when they lined them up.
The hotel where we stayed had an outdoor show one afternoon.  It included the band, The Willeys, and Marshall Crenshaw.  We never pass up a chance to hear a bit of music.
Saint Joseph had a lot of public art at the local museum and around town.  I particularly like the plane on the roof.  How many times as a kid did you lose one of those small balsam wood planes when it landed on the roof?  This one had a 10 foot wingspan.
Another public art display was the painted trains, planes and helicopters scattered around town.
The sunset was not very good this evening, but the water park fountain sure was.
On our way back to Elkhart we stopped at the Round Barn Winery, Brewery and Distillery.  Nanc did a wine tasting and I checked out the beer.  They were both good enough that we made a purchase.  We have been trying to get to the Lake Michigan dunes area since we headed that way in 2006 on our first big trip in our new rig.  The plans on that trip changed when we ended up at Newmar having some work done.  So this year repairs have brought us back to the area. 
Tomorrow we will be heading west.  We plan to spend some time in Hannibal, then head to Branson and travel a bit of Route 66 on our way to the balloon fiesta.  We have made some reservations since the holiday weekend is coming up, but most of the plan is still written in sand. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

On to Indiana for Service

Our plan when we left WashPA was to travel to Duncan RV Service in Elkhart, Indiana to take care of a few maintenance items.  We were in need of new house batteries  (many things in the rig operate on battery power) and we needed to have a vent cover replaced.  We also had a windshield chip and a small plumbing issue when we made the appointment.  Then a week before we left our fridge stopped fridging so we added that to the list.  As I write this, most of the items have been taken care of, but the battery tray was corroded and needs to be cleaned up and painted before the new batteries can be installed so we will be here a couple more days.  We have been staying at Duncan where they have water and electric hook ups, (the standard industrial campsite) but we will need to get a hotel room for a couple of days while the batteries are disconnected.  Oh well, we will take a mini vacation:)
A scary scene as we crossed Ohio.  Looking up and seeing a big rig coming right at us.  Well, not really, it was being towed.  Great picture Nanc.
The Glass Doctor came to Duncan to repair two new chips.  The insurance covered it so it was the cheapest job we had done.  Our tech, Dan, was busy getting items checked off the list.
After checking the fridge Dan determined the cooling unit was dead.  This was not a real surprise to us as RV units are not the most reliable.  We decided to go with a new Norcold cooling unit.  They have had ten years to make it better since the old one was built.  This is a big point of discussion in the RV community, but we felt this was the way to do it.  Here is Dan with the fridge out on the floor and the old cooling unit removed.
This is the hole were the fridge fits.  One reason we went with the new cooling unit rather than a totally new fridge is that no one makes one to exactly fit the old space.  That means a new one would not only be more expensive, but we would also need some wood work done that would also add to the expense.
Dan did a good job of covering the floor and doing a neat job.  We went to Lowes for something else and when we saw what a new home fridge cost, what we paid was not really out of line.  That said, it was not cheap and time will tell if we made the right decision.
The fridge is once again doing its most important job of keeping the beer cold. 
Since we are spending the weekend in Northern Indiana we decided to check out South Bend.  They were having the 2013 Art Beat with artisans' booths and entertainment over several blocks.  It was a great day of strolling and people watching.
Another event in downtown was the South Bend Jazz Festival.  Here are three of the acts we heard. 
For dinner we checked out the Fiddlers Hearth where we had a great meal and an evening of Irish music.  Anytime we get to hear live music is a good time and this day was filled with music.  So while we did not plan on being here for this long, it turned out to be a fun day.  One of the joys of fulltiming is being able to have a totally flexible schedule.  Our next reservation is not until the end of September in New Mexico.  Ahhhhh, the life of a fulltimer, PRICELESS!!!!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Last Week of WashPA Music, Family and Friends

Our time in WashPA has come to a close with another week of music, food, friends and family.  All our personal appointments are over and we are happy to report that we both had great reports from our doctors and dentist.  This week we did the usual, getting together with many of the same people we have seen on this visit.  Many have been pictured on the blog so often that some of them are now in the witness protection program so most of the pictures are of  people I have not blogged about to date:)  We got together with the Wednesday lunch bunch and Nanc did one last Thursday of lunch and games with the girls. We did a last visit to all our local favorite restaurants, Burgh's, Union Grill, Al & Ruben's and Back Porch.  All the eateries I have written about during our stay are locally owned and come highly recommended if you are in the area.  We had dinner in Pittsburgh a couple of times this week, including one last visit with my brother, Rick and his wife Denise.  We also had one last chance to have John's wonderful homemade, wood fired oven pizza.  That will sure be missed.  We have had a great time getting together with all our friends and family and even as we are heading out, we always look forward to returning to WashPA.    
We attended the Washington Wine, Jazz & Pops Festival, a two day event of music, food and wine tastings.  We ran into my aunt Elsie, top left with her friend Nancy.  Georgie, Tom and Nanc are loving the sunny skies and the music.  Tom and I tasted a bit of wine, but I do have to thank Mary Lou for sneaking in a beer for me.
Day one started with the Washington Jazz Orchestra followed by Mark Lucas on guitar and vocalist Maureen Budway.  They were all fantastic.
The headliner that day was Marion Meadows (right) whose band includes Washington's very own Will Brock (left).  Will is a former student who has been on the road with his music for several years.
Marion performing with the band including another local on drums, David Throckmorton.  Here is a video of the band playing and Will singing an emotional number about home that sums up our feelings about being in WashPA.  It is hard to believe so much talent came out of our little city.
On Sunday it was more great music with the Michael Passalacqua Blues Band (bottom), a unique group called Cello Fury (right) and concluding with Pittsburgh sensation Bill Deasy.  If you want a fun weekend and are in the area at the beginning of August this festival is an annual affair.
We had dinner with our sister-in-law Suzann to get caught up with what has been happening in her life.  It was great to have the time together.
We had to make sure we visited our old stix and brix neighbor, Dorothy.  She was our second mom and did her best to keep us in line when we lived next door. (not an easy job) She is as sharp as ever (turning 90 in September) and sure is looking great.
We finally were able to get together with Rosemary and Pete for an evening of food and fun.  We went to a new Greek restaurant in Pittsburgh and had a great time with this fun couple.
 There are many things to love about the Greek culture and this sure is one of them.  Pete had to show me how to reward the dancer:)  Check out this post from 2008 when we got together with Pete and Rosemary in Tarpon Springs.  Seems to be a trend.
We have scheduled an appointment in Elkhart to get new batteries and  take care of a couple of maintenance issues as we head west.  We had to add another repair to the list this week when our fridge died so we have no idea how long we will be there. We have no reservations until the balloon fiesta in October, so after we leave Indiana we will slowly make our way there over the next month and a half.  So as we enter into our seventh year of being on the road, life is good! 

Monday, August 5, 2013

More Fun Times in WashPA

The fun times continue here in WashPA with friends while we are getting more housekeeping chores done.  Our time to hit the road is drawing near and we are scrambling to get everything done and see a few more friends.  You think you have so much time, then the end just creeps up on you and it is hard to get everything in that you planned to do.   
On most Thursdays this summer Nanc and the girls have gotten together for an afternoon of lunch, shopping and games.  Here are Sherri, Nanc, Mary Lou and Georgie.  Di could not make it that day. 
One of the things I miss the most while fulltiming is the chance to go fishing.  The cost of an out of state license in most states makes it cost prohibitive.  The only places other than Pennsylvania I have gone fishing are North Carolina and Texas.  Here in PA I am now the happy owner of my last license, a lifetime senior tag.  Mike and Sherri invited us to the lake for a weekend of fishing and while we did not catch a lot of fish it was still a fun time.   
Here are Mike and I showing off a couple of catfish we did land.
A must see attraction at Pymatuning Lake is the spillway where you can feed the fish and birds.  I have been here many times going back over sixty years to when my grandmother lived nearby and it is still something to see.
Thousands of large carp and birds fight for the bread thrown by tourists. If you are ever near Linesville, PA make sure you stop to see the unusual sight of the ducks walking on fish.
I got a second trip to the lake with Mike and his grandson, Alex.  As you can see there was more than fishing going on.  Al learned the "art of spooning" from pappy.  In return, he schooled both Mike and me in the art of fishing when he landed a new boat record, 14 fish in one day.  While the adults were happy with the number of fish we caught, we did not get anywhere near Al's record catch.
On another evening we went to another Pirate game with Patrice (not pictured), John, Kim and Bill, front row and Nanc, David, Jackie and Dave.  We rode the T (Pittsburgh's trolley line) to the game and avoided all the game traffic at the sold out game.  That is a great way to get to PNC Park.
It was a beautiful evening at one of the most beautiful ball parks and cities in the country.  We got to see the Pirates kick the Cards butt 9 - 2 for the first of four wins that week that put the Bucs back in first place.  Pittsburghers are really supporting this team and everyone is finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel of 21 straight losing seasons.
LET'S GO BUCS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Just like when we lived in a stix and brix one of my household chores is to clean the basement.  Everything came out and I vacuumed the floor of our 20 inch high basement.  I got rid of a few things we have been carrying and not using so we have a bit more space.  This is a job all fulltimers need to do every couple of years.  It really is amazing how much you can accumulate. 
We got together with Gail, left and Mary Lou, right for an evening.  We go way back with Gail and it is always great getting caught up with what is happening with her, her kids and grandkids.  Mary is a snowbird and we have gotten to spend time with her in both Florida and WashPA.
Another fun evening with several retired teachers.  Here are John, Georgie, Nanc, Jim, Tom, and our hosts, Donna and Ed.  As I have said so many times, the best thing about our lifestyle is the chance to get together with friends.