29 September 2012

Postcard from Kentucky- 1

25-26 September 2012

Corbin, Kentucky

This was just a stop along the way to Louisville, KY. It turned out that this KOA is one of the nicest campgrounds we've stayed at. Very nice place that is impeccably maintained with lots of tall trees to offer shade and protection from nasty weather.

Not much protection from rain though. We arrived with a few rain drops starting. As we got positioned on the site, though, it got downright serious and hammered us for awhile. I let it ease a little (till the thunder stopped) and we got a little wet as we set up.

If you're looking for urban entertainment, this isn't a stop for you. But Laurel Lake is nearby and gives this KOA part of its name: Corbin/Lake Laurel KOA.

27-29 September 2012

Louisville, Kentucky

Yet another KOA. KOAs are often close to an Interstate so this is probably what we'll do the rest of the way back to Santa Fe and then Benson. KOAs aren't our favorite and they're more expensive for what you get, but they're consistent and (with one notable exception in Upper Michigan!) comfortable. In South Louisville KOA we had very large park with large campsites! There's even a Wally World just down the street so it's a convenient stop.

If you come to Louisville and have any interest in sports, yuh gotta go to the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory. We spent an afternoon driving the 20 miles, taking the factory tour and looking around (a couple hours), then driving back. They have a theater, the factory and there's a batting cage where you take a few cuts at a 90 mph fast ball.

I expected to be able to take photos on the tour, but once again "no photography!" There is nothing in the factory that is so unique to require secrecy, so the issue must be safety. But there you are. It was an interesting tour and we were glad to have stopped here.

Even though the company makes several kinds of sports equipment, this location is all about bats. Something over a million bats each year (though I doubt they all come from this small facility!).

24 September 2012

Postcard from North Carolina- 1

22-24 September 2012

Asheville, NC

KOA again- this time Asheville KOA West. We picked the one on the West end of town (there are 2 KOAs in the Asheville area) in anticipation of an easier departure after our 3-niter. And we are happy with our choice. Yeah the site wasn't level, but the 2 boards we carry got it sorted. So... why was not being level OK this time but not last time? Cuz they had ice cream sundaes at the park pavilion! Plus the only guy who fills the propane tanks (he's the manager) was still there and had time to fill one mostly-empty tank before he left for 2 days off. We don't want to run out of propane cuz it's getting pretty cool at nite... as low as 43° F last nite.

The park has a lot of trees and is on very hilly ground. A walk with the dogs can leave you (mmm... me!) out of breath thanks to the elevation changes. Well... unless you're a dog in which case it's really interesting to hear all the funny wheezing noises humans make when they walk uphill!

We made a trip into town and had brunch at Over Easy Cafe (the Urban Spoon app. for our iPhones is great for this sort of thing!). Excellent food, sidewalk seating if you have a dog with you (we didn't), and you better not be in a hurry cuz it takes awhile to get your food. If you have a long bed dually as we do, parking can be an issue (the town is old, so the streets are narrow). So we parked in the lower lot at the Visitor Center and walked.

There is an indoor mall in Asheville called the Grove Arcade. It was opened in 1928 with plans to be an 18-story building. It ended up 2 stories and was one of the very first indoor malls in the US. Very interesting architectural details inside. If you come to Asheville it's worth taking a look thru the shops.

We also went to the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway on the East side of Asheville. We'd been there about 9 years earlier and remembered really enjoying the visit. I had my camera along but was told almost immediately "no photography", so I don't have much to show for the visit. The Admiral, however, did some Christmas shopping, so we didn't come away empty handed.

And we had a great lunch at East Village Grille on Tunnel Rd near the Folk Art Center. Great sandwiches, but not cheap.

Clouds over the park that I found interesting.

Sidewalk cafes in many places

Enough buskers to keep you entertained
as you hike down the street.

I was surprised to still see families touring
this late in the year.

The sidewalk tables at the Over Easy Cafe.

More of the Over Easy Cafe.

No, I'm not the Bruce that supplies their maple syrup!

The Admiral's veggie omelet...

... and my 1" thick pancake. One was enough!

Yes- dog friendly restaurants if you choose
outdoor seating.

The Gourmet Chip. The cones are filled with just-fried
potato chips. Looked good!

The Grove Arcade...

... with outdoor dining.

GA = Grove Arcade



Loved this stairway!

If a shop has yarn you can bet the
Admiral will check it out!

A new look in quilting tiles.

21 September 2012

Postcard from Virginia- 1

19-21 September 2012

Winchester, VA

We missed the rain by staying an extra day in Lake Ariel, PA which made for an easy drive the next day to Winchester, VA. I had called ahead to reserve a space at Candy Hill Campground. They didn't take CC info, so I wasn't completely sure we really had a spot for the night till the Admiral came back with a sheaf of paper with enough rules to choke a horse. Whatever, it's a very popular campground- filled every night this time of year- with lots of rules and signs letting you know about the rule you just broke. But the park was quiet at night, and even though the Interstate wasn't (!), we slept well atop the site's concrete pad which was level

There is a Wal-Mart about 1/2 mile down the road, so while the Admiral shopped, I tanked up with diesel at the local Sheetz station. Nope. Not saying a word about the name, cuz the price was better than any place else! Btw, if you have a smartphone and aren't using the Gas Buddy app, you're missing a great resource for finding fuel.

And no, Candy Hill is not a Christmas theme park. Apparently many years ago, before it was an RV park, previous property owners had a daughter with a dog named Candy. Candy died and they buried Candy on the hill. So... Candy Hill.

Btw, we have noticed that PBS is frequently not available on a park's channel offering. So we used the antenna even though cable was available.

Wytheville, VA

We did a 2-niter at Wytheville so we could do laundry. As you probably know by now we have a washer and dryer, but we have to be stopped and we have to have 50 Amp service plus a sewer connection to be able to use it. So a 2-niter is usually necessary and this was it.

The Wytheville KOA is an older park that needs some work. The new owners are going to need a lot of enthusiasm as there are a number of things that need attention. Our site was small (that's just how it is in this area; it can't be changed) and it wasn't level (and that can be changed). We carry a pair of 2" x 8" x 6' boards to level the rig and they almost were enough, though not quite. Still, we did our laundry and slept well before pushing on to Asheville, NC.

The guy beside us the first nite had a big Class A with leveling jacks. He couldn't get level and left the park. The next nite we had 2 Class A rigs beside us, again with leveling jacks, and neither of them could get level either. While these 3 were all high-end motorhomes with lots of storage, I don't know how they could carry the long boards we stow in the bed of our truck (along with an assortment of blocks for jacking or for the evening the landing legs).

Covered group activities pavillion with dog runs behind.
Still, the park is very pretty with lots of trees, it's a long way from the Interstate so it's quiet, and they have two very large dog runs... one for bigger dogs and one for smaller dogs.

These are the usual KOA Kamping Kabins. Unless they're
the Deluxe Kabins, you have to us the public
showers & restrooms.

I think this is the owners residence. Typical of all the grounds.

Starting to fill up the map!

18 September 2012

Postcard from Pennsylvania- 1

16-18 September 2012

Lake Ariel, PA

This was a fortunate stop. Never been here before, of course, so I had no idea what we were getting into. I had the impression from the name that Clayton Park Recreational Area was a state park. That's not the case. This is a private campground on a huge piece of property in the Pocono mountains right on Lake Ariel. Just a short drive from the slightly (!) larger town of Mt. Cobb, PA.

When I booked I thought it was for 1 nite, but I was happy to learn I had actually booked for 2 nites. The 17th was a glorious, sunny day. We enjoyed the restful quiet of the park so much (we were nearly the only ones there during the day) that we added another day so we didn't have to be on the road in the expected heavy rain on the 18th.

And rain it did! Our rain gauge said we had 2.37" of the stuff but it felt like 10". Walking the dogs was a giant pain, but I managed to get out in slight lulls in the nearly steady downpour. Unfortunately the rain collected right where the drivers door of the truck was located. The rain had stopped, but the water was over the top of my boots. So I climbed in thru the passenger door and snaked (oozed?!) into the drivers seat and shifted the truck enough that I could connect and pull out at an angle. The ground is very solid so there was no real threat of getting stuck... just a problem getting into the truck.

Here are a few shots from the 17th.

All these rigs have a full side view of the lake. Wonder
how many years it took to get thru that waiting list!

The park continues in to the other side of the cove.

Great place to watch the sunset or just doze in the sun.

The season is changing fast now!

The tiny cove where owners launch their boat.
Off to Virginia tomorrow. More along the way...

15 September 2012

Postcard from Massachusetts- 1

14-15 September

Sturbridge, MA

Friday AM we were on our way to Jellystone Park in Sturbridge, MA. Sturbridge is the home of Old Sturbridge Village. OSV is similar to Colonial Williamsburg in VA if that helps. Now that I've seen both, I think of Williamsburg as being a place for upper-middle class families, but OSV seems to have been home to middle class families in about 1834. They were farmers with much of their production consumed and some sold/traded. We hiked around the site till lunch, then I went back to the trailer an walked the dogs. Then it was back to OSV for some more looking around. It's was well worth the $22 ea for entry (Seniors price). If you're in the area you owe it to yourself to visit. I filled 2 memory cards and went thru 2 batteries... everywhere you look is a photo op!

Jellystone Park was less of a happy experience than the Jellystone Park in Sioux Falls: in Sturbridge it's sand & dirt, small spaces, terrible access roads. I was expecting better than the very rustic, but it was all of 5 minutes from OSV, so convenience made up for a lot. Sites are small and typical of much of what you find in the east where these campgrounds are very old.

Here's a few of the photos from the day. More later...

Entrance area to Old Sturbridge Village

Oxen in the field to demo plowing... or maybe fertilizing!

The reality of getting a drink of water or taking a bath!

A small house. Only wallpaper for insulation.

Basket making in her spare time. 10 hrs/day was devoted
to the main meal!

The docents were in costume but not in character
as I found in Williamsburg.

Found the silhouette fascinating.
The Quaker Meeting House.

More window stuff
Quaker Meeting House interior with its
2 floors of seating. The rows of seats
were inclined to allow those in the
back to see over those in front.
Small pastures for the sheep.

They were dying wool beside the barn. Took her 2 hours
of feeding wood to get the cauldron to boil!

Village center. Old Sturbrige Village, restored to ca. 1830,
was first opened to the public in 1946.

13 September 2012

Postcard from Maine- 7

10-13 September 2012

Durham, ME

There was a lot of creaking and groaning as we pulled out of Trenton, ME. It worried me till I realized it was just my joints. Old age is not for wimps! Now we're back in Durham again for a last 4-day visit before we leave for points West.We had a really nice drive with partly cloudy skies. So we had frequent sunshine to light up the very green countryside.

Mileage was terrible, however, as we headed North to I-395 near Bangor, ME- on the order of about 8 mpg for the 35+ miles from Trentin to Bangor. Like many who live on the West coast and have lived or driven in the Rockies or the Sierra Nevadas, I tended to scoff at the piddly bumps on the Eastern landscape that are called mountains. Now that I've driven in these wannabe-hills, however, I've come to realize that whatever they may lack in elevation, these 'bumps' more than make up for in grade change. I can't imagine driving an RV through this area if it doesn't have the torque of a diesel engine! Owners I've talked to that drive gassers routinely get 4-5 mpg in these hills. So I guess 8 mpg from Trenton to Bangor was not unreasonable. From Bangor to Durham (near Yarmouth) the mileage crept up to 10 mpg overall after the last 105 miles.

We had a nice but brief visit with Brad & family. Stayed with Elin & Ingrid while mom & dad went to an open house at the school. Then we got together for pizza (Flat Bread Pizza in Portland) which was excellent. Especially since Brad brought it home with him... no driving!

Btw, if you should find yourself in Yarmouth and in need of a meal, be sure to stop at Bruce's Burritos. We really enjoyed what we had there!

Moose sighting!

And all this time I thought it was a conspiracy: Mainers claiming to have moose just to keep tourists coming back. But I'm here to tell yuh they do have moose. We found this guy at a rest stop of all places. He was reluctant to have his photo taken, but the Admiral sweet talked him into it!

The only moose we saw all summer.

Sony NEX-7 camera

Btw, I shoot with a Sony NEX-7 digital camera. Initially I had a few complaints, like the ^%$#!* Video button that is so easy to hit accidentally. And the mindless nature of the Menu system that has to be drilled thru to find what you want. I suppose there are reasons for taking the path they did, but it escapes me. It has taken 6 months, but both have been beaten into submission:
  • I bought The Guard from Ric Luther for $20 shipped. It makes it very difficult to activate the Video button and that's just fine with me! I previously had hours of video of my feet!
  • I bought Gary Friedman's NEX-7 e-book (supplied with both Kindle & PDF files) which suggests several menu customization changes that have made a world of difference! Very readable and he's a knowledgeable photo professional.
Now that I have my camera set up in a way that fits my approach to shooting, I at long last find the camera intuitive. And the images excellent... far better than I'm able to make use of! If you shoot with a DSLR and are tired of carrying all the bulk and weight, I'd suggest looking into the Sony NEX-series of mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras. With the right selection of lens a NEX can be carried in a jacket pocket. And, depending on the model, the camera features are right up there with many DSLRs.