Summer Travel Map

Thursday, August 29, 2013

August 23-29: Finger Lakes

August 29, 2013
KOA Watkins Glen-Corning Campground, Beaver Dam, New York

As always, feel free to click on any picture to enlarge it...

So, we had a pretty good drive out to the Finger Lakes from Connecticut – once we got started, that is. We pulled out of Pat & Al’s right on schedule at 9:00 and headed for I-91. As we got closer, about 10 minutes into the trip, I had a sense that something was wrong, and it looked like I could see wet streaks “following us” in the road. I pulled off to the side of the on-ramp and sure enough, fluid was flooding from the center area of the coach’s underbelly, right where the new furnace is located. I could tell right away that it was engine coolant from the smell and texture.

Well, one of the hose fittings had let go. Fortunately, I was smart enough to install good brass ball valves on the supply and return lines, so I was able to unload the bay, crawl in, and shut them off, stopping the leak immediately. I had to top off the radiator with water, but we were back on the road inside 30 minutes. I’ll make final repairs in the fall when we’re back in Arizona. We can wait until then because the primary reason for the engine coolant loop into the furnace is to allow me to pre-heat the engine on cold mornings. We won’t have any of those before we get back.

Now, on with the trip!

Our route took us south on I-91, past Hartford, then across I-691 to I-84 west into New York. Past the Newburgh Bridge and the Hudson River, we switched off to NY-17, the Southern Tier Expressway. Eventually, this route will be upgraded to Interstate standards and become I-86; some sections are so designated already. But, it’s good 4-lane limited-access highway for the most part and we made reasonably good time, pulling into our destination, the KOA Watkins Glen-Corning, just after 3:00 PM.

Did you ever have déjà vu? How about vujà dé? It’s kind of the opposite: the intense feeling that you’ve never been in a place before. That’s how I spent the first couple of days here. You see, I was positive we’d stayed at this campground before – when I made the reservation. Once we got here, nothing looked familiar. Our prior stay was pre-blog, so I was a little light on electronic archives and couldn’t find any evidence to support my contention.

Proof of stay, 8/2004
Not willing to give up, I headed for our picture archives. I really need better organization, at least in naming conventions here, but I was able to find one lone picture from August of 2004 that shows we were here before. Actually, we were parked less than 100 feet from where we are now. It looks like it was on our first trip to Dave & Sandy’s place up North, with our first motorhome (that brings back memories!). Now I feel better!

With reasonably good weather in the forecast, we deployed our outside “stuff”. The dog pen, outdoor cooking facilities, and chairs all got some use on the nice concrete pad in our site. We had several nice dinners, most eaten outdoors. Surprisingly, it wasn’t very “buggy” and we enjoyed the outside time, as did the pups. For some reason, Merlin really likes being in the pen, so we were happy to accommodate him.

Beautiful sunset in the Finger Lakes

Steak & Bake

Sautéed Chicken over Spinach & Arugula

Geri's Famous Arroz con Pollo

 I wanted to do a little waterfall photography, but it was really too late in the year. Spring is the time for rushing waters. What to do instead? They have wineries here? Oh, OK.

Using the Wine Spectator as a guide, I selected three wineries, all along Seneca Lake. Of the three, two were reasonably good (Fox Run and Anderson Road) and one was above average (Ravine Wine Cellars). We have a problem, of course, since we’ve been lucky enough to visit some really good wine regions over the years but we try to keep an open mind. We usually enjoy talking with the tasting room staff as well, and these stops were no exception. And, we somehow ended up with 17 bottles of wine. Go figure.

Tasting Room at Fox Run Winery

As we were returning to Watkins Glen, we noticed an interesting old building. Lo and behold, it’s the local Elks Lodge. We made it a point to return the following afternoon, even though we couldn’t find much information online on what might be going on. It turns out that they don’t do a lunch, but the bar was open so we had a Blue Moon (second one on the house). The Grand Poobah used to spend time in Arizona at our Sun City Lodge, so we struck up quite a conversation. It turns out that they were having an event in their banquet facility, so he snuck us a couple of plates for lunch. That’s hospitality!

We wrapped up our visit with some more relaxation on the patio.

This evening, we put all the outside stuff away and I hooked up the Rover so we’ll have an easy getaway in the morning.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

August 14-22: In Hot Water

August 22, 2013
Broad Brook, Connecticut

And that’s a good thing! The new furnace is installed and operating. Water is hot. Fingers are crossed. And, we’re ready to hit the road and continue our adventure.

The majority of last week was spent on the furnace project, either working on it or planning to do so. Yes, I do tend to ruminate on things. Hopefully, this yields a better end result, even if I don’t finish in record time.

Of course, to replace a furnace, you actually have to have the new one. Scheduled for delivery on Monday, the 12th, and – nothing. More calls on Tuesday yield the information that it was at the freight company in Middletown, about 25 miles away. Unfortunately, the third party company that does home deliveries doesn’t show a scheduled date. I’m told by the central office that they aren’t set up for customer pickup but should get a call by the end of the day. Nothing…

So, Wednesday, I was back on the phone. The online system now shows a delivery date of next Monday! I finally got them to transfer me to the local depot and, wonder of wonders, “Of course, you can pick it up. Just not until after 5PM”. Fine by me! Al and I headed out in his pickup after he got out of work, and we had the furnace in the garage before dinner.

I spent all day Thursday and Friday getting the old furnace out and the new one ready to install. By Saturday evening, Al and I had the new one in, filled, and heating. Since the new model had a lot of connections in different places, there were numerous fittings and hoses that had to be adjusted. Awesome! Both electric and diesel operation seem to be OK, although we’ll obviously have to monitor this closely.

Old furnace ready to come out

New furnace ready to go in

Got the "Full Hot" level very close!  Good Job!!!

So, what else have we been doing? Well, we’ve continued to eat and drink well. We had dinner at Geri’s son, Pete’s, place where Val did a great job with pork loin. We had “wing night” to wrap up our stay in Connecticut, and we did a wine-and-music evening at a local winery. And the Cribbage Tournament is complete, and I have trophy to prove it!

So, The Rez Bar & Grill is closed for the season and we’re ready to move on. So long, Broad Brook!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

June 19-August 13: Nothing much to report?

August 13, 2013
Broad Brook, Connecticut

As always, feel free to click on any picture to enlarge...

Hmmm. Two months between posts? Yes, well, it’s not that nothing has been going on, just that nothing particularly interesting travel-wise and blog-worthy has been happening. In other words, it’s just been life as usual, East Coast style, fun with family and friends.

So, what’s been going on? Well, shortly after Britt’s graduation from UCONN, Jesse graduated from Tolland High School. We attended the ceremony and the “after party” and everyone had a good time.

Later in June, Al and I headed for Boston to see the Red Sox win a game on a beautiful day for baseball.

After a very rainy spell, the weather turned warmer and we actually had a few flowers in the yard. Pat actually has a blooming cactus in one of the flower beds!

One of the benefits of spending time in New England in the summer is waiting for lobsters to go on sale. When the local Stew Leonard’s finally had the $4.99 sale, we were all in! Al, Mike Bower, and I each got our limit of 8. 24 lobsters went into the pots; I set up our camping stove with three burners going at the same time and we made quick work of them. Geri and Pat did the hard part, cracking and picking. We had Lobster Bisque, Lobster Rolls, and I even broke out the pasta maker and we had Lobster Tortellini. Good stuff!

In mid-July, we made a day trip up to Hampton Beach (New Hampshire) with Pat, Al, and the pups. Fried Clams, Boardwalk Fries, Fried Dough; all the good stuff! Dogs aren’t allowed on the beach, but we set up our chairs in a little shade on the boardwalk and had a nice afternoon. With dinner at Brown’s Lobster Pool (including steamers to start for Geri), it was a fulfilling trip.

Once back in Connecticut, we had a shopping trip to handle, and told the pups “we’ll be right back”. I forgot something and went back in the coach, and this is what I found. Maya has learned to make herself comfortable! Speaking of Maya, we had our 1-month follow-up with the local oncologist and her healing looks excellent! Good news!

Later in July, we had a nice, sunny Sunday so made a trip down to the Westbrook Elks Lodge on Long Island Sound. It’s a relatively long drive at about 90 minutes each way, but it makes for a fun day trip. Especially with a stop at Johnny Ad’s snack shop for another Lobster Roll on the way home!

At the end of the month, right at Al’s birthday, we packed up the coach and headed back to Hampton Beach. We settled in at the Black Bear Campground and spent a week relaxing. Pat and Al came up the first weekend, and we did the whole boardwalk over again – smile.

In early August, we were back at the Shore again, this time to Abbott’s “Lobster in the Rough” for – duh – Lobster Dinners. We watched a few boats sail by as we set up under their big tent, and were smart to do so because a stray shower rumbled through. Nice rainbow, but no pot of gold. The lobsters, and all the lead-ins like garlic mussels, steamers, shrimp, and even an artichoke were excellent.

Next up was Britt’s birthday, with another celebration on the deck. Dinner and cake was awesome! Even the pups enjoyed themselves. Alicia was able to get some time off from working two jobs, and joined us along with Tanner’s brother, Cruz.

Now, we’re winding up our stay. Al and I are in the Ultimate Cribbage Playoffs (I won the “regular season” with 22 wins, but I’m only leading the playoffs 6-5 so far).

Of course, not everything goes exactly as planned, right? When we were heading to Hampton Beach in the coach, I noticed that the water pump (fresh water for the faucets, not the engine) wasn’t quite right, so I order a replacement online. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the extent of the findings, as I saw some dripping near the furnace. A water leak would have need nice, but this was coming out the furnace overflow tube. A sinking feeling came over me; that kind of a leak can only come from a cracked boiler. It’s expensive and it’s going to be quite a project to replace it, but we’ll get it done. We’re back in Connecticut and the replacement furnace has been shipped. It’ll take a couple of days to make the swap, but I’m feeling reasonably good about it after studying the current setup and the installation manuals. Plumbing and wiring; I can do it!


Sorry for the long time between posts. It's just too easy to post quick updates to Facebook, Instagram, and Foursquare rather than sit down and do an old-school blog update, even with authoring tools available for the iPhone and iPad. We'll be hitting the road again after the furnace swap is completed (more details on the travel plans in our next post), so updates will be a little more frequent between now and November!