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Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Small Change Of Plan And One Last Post

We had left our rest area in Connecticut early in the morning and gotten ourselves onto I-84 towards Boston. First city was Hartford,CT – a big city, but not too much traffic that early in the morning. Several highway exchanges later we ran along I-495 which is the outer ring around Boston. Where the I-495 ends it merges with the I-95 north. The weather was absolutely beautiful and the nasty cold seemed to be gone.
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Real impressive, but not real

We passed through New Hampshire and finally got over the border into Maine. About Maine I must say that the state feels like home to us. Even though we live in Canada, we feels strong ties to Maine. After all it is the place where we spend most money and which we are crossing into almost every day when home. How I loved to see the wide open highway, the never ending wild forests and the deep blue waters of the various bays off the Atlantic Ocean.
 
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I-95 through Maine

While we were driving, we found it to be a better solution to spend one more night in our trailer. We wouldn’t be reaching our home before 8pm ADT and by then it would be dark and Our house would be cold. Water is off and it will take a few hours to get it all back into operation again. Also, the thought of sleeping in an ice cold house did not appeal to us. So we stopped at a known truck stop in Bangor,ME. We know this particular place as pretty quiet and always park away in the same corner at the far end. When we got out into the bright sun, it was so warm that I could go without my woolen jacket, which I have been wearing over the last 7 days.
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At Portland, Maine

There are still huge heaps of old rotten snow in the corners of the truck stop, but who cares, when the sun is doing its work. Lovely feeling that spring might be just around the corner now.

Thanks again for dropping by!



Friday, March 29, 2013

With An Easter Greeting Back On The Road

This posting might be the last for a few days. The reason being that our wonderful telephone company is not reachable by phone from the U.S. And I do need to talk to them to have them reconnect phone and internet service. Tomorrow will be our last day on the road on this trip.
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But I’m getting ahead of myself here.
This morning we had the most beautiful blue sky, The air was already somewhat warmer and while Bea walked with Molly, I did the re-hitching of the trailer.  Bea had to do a photo session in Lew’s barn to take in the beautiful newborn lambs. And aren’t they downright adorable?
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We had a last walk through the garden – it looked quite different from last year (!) and then we were off.
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Back over all the steep little hills and deep, deep valleys of Pennsylvania until we reached the highway. Were making our way along the wide Delaware River until we ran up at the I-84, which ultimately leaves the State of Pennsylvania behind and crosses the Hudson Valley, where we also met with the first toll booth. $3.50 later we were rumbling along on this old beaten-up portion of  I-84. New York has some really long mountain grades, one of them running up to almost 1300ft. I pushed the accelerator and had one eye on the temperature gauge. It went to 100C but stayed there. 1-DSC_0136
1-DSC_0147 When we were approaching Danbury,CT traffic was getting really tight. We got into a real nasty 4pm rush hour congestion. Police was everywhere and the first crashed vehicles were already on their way onto the tow truck.




I’m sure I have remarked about this before, but time after time it hits me how irresponsible and egoistic big city drivers behave. There is NO courtesy and no forgiving. I’m at a loss understanding how these people must be feeling when negotiating big city traffic.
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After we were done with the worst traffic we were getting to Southington. Here, had made a remark about a nice rest area last year. I was feeling pretty shot after a day of really tough driving, so we turned into the rest area at MM41.5 East.
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This outstanding rest area is probably quite old, but it boasts a separate area for CAMPERS ONLY. NO TRUCKS ALLOWED, Sir! And the campers parking is the farthest from the road. Only one other trailer was parked there and he seems to stay over night as well. has one those crazy black Labradors, who want to play 24/7. When I walked by there with Molly, we still had a distance of about 100 feet, all-of-a-sudden this dog pops up from behind the trailer and sends a powerful bark skittering along the open area.
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Thanks again for coming along!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Clear Road And No More Snow

 VIRGINIA, WEST-VIRGINIA, MARYLAND, PENNSYLVANIA
Going up the I-81 we crossed State Lines like pearls on a string. We started out at the Lexington Crossing Walmart which I cannot recommend to anyone. Even though they allow overnight stays, the place is currently invaded by nightly rowdies, whose biggest fun is racing a very loud pickup truck besides the parked RVs. Obviously it’s something they do every night. Other users of this location have already described it as “noisy”, which doesn’t really do justice to the excessive noise in the place. They didn’t keep it up all night though. After we shut off the lights they went on for about another hour before quitting. They probably got hungry and went to one of these disgusting fast food places in town.
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We got up with the sun and now we were in Eastern Daylight Saving Time. One more change of time and we would be home.

As usual, we made good time. We were passing Staunton, Harrisonburg and Winchester. North of Virginia the I-81 cuts through an appendix of West Virginia, which is crossed with 30 minutes before the highway cuts through Maryland where we passed Martinsburg and Hagerstown.
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We left the I-81 at Chambersburg and went straight through Gettysburg.
Gettysburg is all U.S. Military history. Who hasn’t heard about the battle at Gettysburg? Beautiful parks and old style buildings make this town one of the most interesting places in Pennsylvania.
I would love to elaborate more about this, but tonight I’m simply too tired to do that. Another time!
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The Susquehanna River

Our goal for today was visiting friends Linda and Lew who live not too far from the city of York at the Susquehanna River. making our way over many hills and through steep valleys we finally met “the wall”. The road was simply closed because of construction. The signage was incredibly poor and we were helplessly looking around trying to find out what to do. To the left of us was a steep driveway onto a private property. Up on top they had a paved platform. It looked like we could turn around up there. So we tried and finally managed to back the rig around. Back we went over the steep hills and through the deep valleys. Luckily our GPS-girl picked up the scent and led us down a different route which brought us down to the mighty Susquehanna. Since we had been here last year as well, we remembered certain places and found our way. But our adventure wasn’t over. Not yet!

Our friends live on a farm but have a sloping driveway – not ideal for parking larger RVs. So we figured to park a bit off the road on the shoulder and go check things out. Shouldn’t have done that.
When I returned to haul the rig around, it was stuck in the soft shoulder.

x*&^%$#(*?!!!

We had already made deep ruts and there was no way that lat rocks in front of the rear wheel the van got out. Being back on the pavement I backed the van in an angle to the coupler and hitched the trailer back on. Now I got it the whole rig back onto the pavement.

Sometimes there are challenges one has to meet ---- and master.

Thanks for stopping by!





Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Leaving Tennessee And Finding More Snow

It seemed like Tennessee was a long State to cross and looking at the map we did cross it at its greatest distance, which from the Arkansas state line to the Virginia state line.

1-DSC_0077Just like yesterday we started with a blue sky which after a couple of hours turned very grey and yep, you guessed it, it started snowing. Not much but nevertheless SNOW. Getting across into Virginia the road is climbing to over 2000ft. Mountain top show up powdered in white layer of snow. As we go the road gets closer to the snow and finally… tadaa… we see white stuff on both sides of the highway.
 
While the I-40 carries a whole lot of traffic, the I-81 is a lot quieter. Even though this Interstate runs parallel and smack in the middle of the Appalachians it doesn’t have extremely steep grades. Some of them are bit long – but not really steep. Our van had no problem pulling the 7500pounds of trailer weight across the summits.
1-DSC_0063 The Golden water tower in Knoxville

One thing we observed while being part of the traffic in Knoxville,TN were drivers busy with texting while driving. Tennessee law is saying this about texting and driving:

Current prohibitions:
Text messaging prohibited while operating a motor vehicle in Tennessee.
Drivers with learner’s permits or intermediate licenses are prohibited from using cell phones while driving.

Within less than 2 minutes Bea took these pictures from vehicles passing us on the right side, then doing lane changes at high speed. Both were women, who really should know better.

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Virginia Welcome Center at I-81

Even though the weather wasn’t ideal, though sun popped out later, the drive through the State of Virginia is exceedingly beautiful. Lovely valleys are surrounded by impressive, though not dramatic, mountain tops. This year, spring will come late to this part of the country. Probably 3 weeks later than last year. We did not see the purple Judas Tree or yellow Forsythia. Only in the lowest places a tiny bit of green is visible.
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Most places gas prices were still low at around $3.30/gal but the odd station owner must have thought to take advantage of the unknowing traveler setting the price at $3.79. Just 2 miles down the road and the price was back to the normal level.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Let It Snow - Let It Snow – Let It Snow – Oh Nooo!

Today’s drive from Forrest City started under a blue sky. We made good progress, passing Memphis and Nashville without any big problems.
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Skyline of Memphis                                             Mississippi River

The blue in the sky was long gone
when we were continuing on the
I-40 taking a north-easterly direction towards Virginia and climbing up the Appalachians. In fact the sky turned dark grey and I had an ugly premonition of what was in store for us.
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The Memphis Pyramid 
                                                  Tennessee River

The Pyramid Arena, initially known as the Great American Pyramid was originally built as a 20,142-seat arena located in downtown Memphis at the banks of the Mississippi River. The facility was built in 1991 and was originally owned and operated jointly by the city of Memphis and Shelby County; Shelby County sold its share to Memphis in April 2009.[6] Its unique structure plays on the city's namesake in Egypt, known for its ancient pyramids. It is 321 feet (98m, about 32 stories) tall and has base sides of 591 ft; it is by some measures the sixth largest pyramid in the world behind the Great Pyramid of Giza (456 ft), Khafre's Pyramid (448 ft), Luxor Hotel (348 ft), the Red Pyramid (341 ft), and the Bent Pyramid (332 ft). It is also slightly (about 16 feet) taller than the Statue of Liberty. A statue of Ramses the Great stood in front of the pyramid, which was created from a mold of the actual statue in Egypt. In 2011, this statue was leased to the University of Memphis for the cost of $1 and was moved to the campus in April 2012.

Sure enough, minutes later flurries started swirling around which soon turned into a real snow shower.
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Tennessee barn in snow

The clock showed around 4pm when we approached Crossville,TN. It’s one of those friendly cities where parking at Walmart is allowed. So consequently, we went shopping right away. Right at this hour I smell a delicious chicken dish sizzling in the pan. How nice is that after a long day on the road.
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Luckily, there was not enough snow to make a snowman, AL!

Tomorrow we will be leaving Tennessee and the I-40 to take on the I-81 north along the Appalachian Mountains. Hopefully, there will be no opportunity for building a snowman.

Thanks again for following along!

Monday, March 25, 2013

With Longjohns And Steaming Coffee cup

It’s getting colder in Arkansas. Yes, that’s right, instead of warming up it is getting colder. We have had some blue sky today which caused the temperature to drop even further. An icy wind blows out of the west reaching at least 30mph. Doggie walks have made me pulling my longjohns out of the closet. Never thought using them again before we were home.
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With low temps our propane is flying out fast, and today we looked around to find a filling station in this town. Propane might not be as cheap as in Yuma, AZ, but gas prices must be at the lowest this Nation has to offer these days. Forrest City has regular gas at 3,19/gallon.

There have been more than usual comments about city parking policies at Walmart locations. Bea has found a very useful website where RVers can check whether overnight parking at Walmart locations is allowed.

http://www.allstays.com/c/wal-mart-locations.htm

If you are into Walmart-Camping save this website. It’s gonna save you extra miles and aggravation.

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If I must specify my point of view once more I will state that City By-Laws should take aim to protect public property and public interest. There is no other reason for having a by-law. If dog owners must have their pets leashed than the reason is to protect citizens from being attacked by wild running dogs.
If parking on public streets is prohibited the reason is avoiding traffic hazards and making street cleaning services easier. All that is of public interest.

When talking about by-laws we shouldn’t confuse them with zoning laws. Zoning has a different purpose and is more focused  on area- and traffic- planning.
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Oh my… I shopped until I dropped – at Walmart

 

When Walmart allows overnight parking on their own properties no such public interest exists. There is no security risk, no traffic hazard – no nothing. Walmart even provides their own mobile security all night long. Additional Security cameras are in use. All that, plus the convenience of being able to do some shopping, makes Walmart parking lots the most popular overnight parking for RV-owners. I could also mention that most Walmart Supercenters have open 24/7 which should make it extremely difficult for any constable to roust an RVer at 3am at night. Afterall he might still be a Walmart customer.

Thanks for shopping at Walmart!

 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

NO OVERNIGHT STAY!

no overnight
You have probably seen this sign along your journey. We have seen it too – in some Walmart parking lots. They prohibit us RVers from staying overnight. Is this decision based on Walmart’s policy?  IT IS NOT!
The reason why we might stumble across signs like this is that city council has been lobbied by local campground owners (mafia?) to prohibit such stays thus forcing RVers into their overpriced RV-parks. They establish a by-law which then can be enforced by local police. Besides of that it must be a disgusting job for any constable to roust an RVer in the dead of the night. I fail to understand that ANY city council can enforce a by-law on ANY PRIVATE PROPERTY. I always thought that the USA is “the Land of the Free”. 

What some city councils do not understand is the fact that RVers who want a free stay are not going into any RV-Park, plus that the city is loosing these RVers to the next town/city/county down the road. We will never stay in any jurisdiction where city council has slithered into a Walmart parking lot.

Whenever we stay at Walmart we go shopping there. We rather spend 30 bucks on items we want and need, than paying 30 bucks for a service we really don’t need. (And some RV-Parks are already charging 40-60bucks/night) RVs have every basic amenity that I can find in a campground. Why pay for something you already have? And those RVers who feel that they must be in an RV-Park won’t stay at Walmart anyhow. With other words: By-laws who restrict overnight stays are counter productive for the local economy.

We Moved Just 5 Miles!

I woke up to thunder clap and blinding lightning. What was going on? It didn’t take long before Molly came whining.
 
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Arkansas morning gloom                                     “Dad there is some bad thunder out there”.

Well, there was precious little I could do, so I started coffee and turned on the TV to see what the weather had in store for us today. Weather man came on strong with a wind advisory, Seems we were running into a day full of problems. Checking out campgrounds in the neighborhood we found “Delta Ridge RV-Park just 5 miles down I-40 in Forrest City. Checking further we found that their rate was a mere 20 bucks a day.
So after the worst morning gloom had passed, we got ready and left the rest area.

Delta Ridge has about 20 sites and sits half a mile off I-40. Grocery shopping in walking distance and you register at the Ole Saw Mill Cafe, which you can see to your right when approaching the stop light at Mc.Donalds.
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Kinda easy to find.
Mistake we made is pulling in on the parking lot of the cafe. Too tight to get out of again. Shoulda gone just around the parking lot and turned right onto an open space.
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How long are we gonna stay here?  Until the bad weather is over! If that should take until Wednesday – so be it. We were thinking of getting on the Appalachian Highway I-81, but that area is prone to receiving snow and even freezing rain. The bad weather should be passing on by the middle of next week and that would be the time for us to move on.

Hope you are having some better weather where ever you are!