Thursday, April 18, 2024

Done Deal! We Are Home Again.

The Last day of this long journey started at 5:30am with our usual breakfast. An hour later I was accelerating onto the I-95. 

Last mile in New Hampshire

The state line to Maine at Portsmouth and then we had to pass three Maine toll stations, before we took on the northern stretch of the I-95 until Bangor, ME.

Roads for Cash
It's all yours - in Maine

From there on it's US Coastal Rte 1 and 1A all the way to the Canadian border. 

Weather was gorgeous, blue sky and even deeper blue waters of the many ocean bays one can enjoy from the road. No, the trees are not showing green leaves yet, yet spring was in the air.

In Ellsworth we stopped at the Walmart for some last-minute supplies and had a brief lunch before heading on farther north towards the home island.

Salty air gets into the vehicle

The small town of Machias, ME

Once we crossed through the streets of small town Lubec, there was no more doubt - we were home. 

The FDR Memorial Bridge to Campobello

The International bridge, named after Franklin D. Roosevelt, spanning across "The Narrows", was still looking the same. I wondered whether the guard rails would be painted again this summer. The salty air had made them rusty again.

Mulhollan Lighthouse, Campobello Island

The very last 3 miles to our driveway always feel like a relief, or victory over the challenge a long journey like this really is.

Canada Customs building on the Canadian side

Naturally, once we backed the rig onto our property, a lot of work started. 1.priority is flipping on the power. 2. is getting the water going. This time we had a little hickup with the water, but it got solved. Even though power and water is on, we still spend the first night at home in the RV.

Got it backed up again

 It gives a softer transition and we have more time to warm up the house tomorrow morning. It's all based on years of routine and experience.

Our wonderful neighbour Deanna (85) had invited us for seafood chowder and I swear to all ghosts of lucullus that her cooking skills are the best I have ever tasted.

After a sumptious meal we went home, cozying up in our warm rig.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

That Long Day

When ever a travel day is coming up we get into that "let's go" - mood, and it affects our waking time. So today, I was wide awake at 5am and turned on the heater. 15 minutes later I was ready dressed and muggins had the coffee water on the range.

So no wonder we got out of Dodge at 6:30am. And with such an early start you can get to places you never thought would be possible.

Rolling out of the Walmart lot, it just started sprinkling enough to make it difficult to see anything through the windshield. And the low sun wasn't making it any easier.

Eventually some clouds got in front of the sun and things got better.

We were getting around Albany,NY at 11:30am. Massachusetts was next, and it has some looong hills. Usually we go along I-295 via Worcester, but at the exit was a line-up - long as the distance to the moon, so we continued on the I-90 until we got to I-495. That's when traffic got a tad worse. Boston is always chaos.

The I-495 eventually ends and we went down the ramp to I-95. Some more bad traffic but it was getting better soon.

Our goal for the day was the New Hampshire Wine and Liquor Outlet right along the I-95. It is only a few more miles north to the State Line with Maine. And from there we have roughly 5 more hours to home.

So yes, this was a long day - 9hrs and 461 miles long.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

The Destination For The Day

Over the recent couple of days I woke up knowing that I could turn around and sleep some more. 

Not so today! A faint light was visible through the roof hatch and I kinda knew, it was time to get up and get ready. Ready for another day of traveling and making another 400 miles towards home.

Breakfast was ready in a record-breaking speed and then the usual procedure continued to the point that I tried to hitch on the trailer. But this morning the hitch ball wouldn't cooperate. Even though, I got it right in place, the locking wouldn't work. After more than 30 minutes trying I just pulled the trailer out of the campsite with an unlocked hitch. As soon as I parked it along the camp road the locking went into place. Never had that happen before!

Next stop was the dump station and then we got driving. We avoided to get into the Columbus rush hour by bypassing the city via Hwy 4 through a number of small towns and villages, all which made an incredible proper and clean impression on us. I mean some places you might see run-down houses with garbage strewn around, but not in Ohio! People take pride in their properties and it shows.

So today we made to between Buffalo, NY and Rochester, NY

Yes, there are wineries in upstate New York

Monday, April 15, 2024

We Will Be Rolling Again

We got our van back! Continuing our line of communication with the GM dealer this morning, we were informed that the transmission had already been mounted in before 10am and that the mechanic was about to do the finishing underneath. At around 2pm they did a test drive and Kathy showed up at 3pm for giving me a ride to town for the pickup.

After paying our bill, I was still sitting in the van, when the service manager showed up at my window. Great, so I could thank him in person for quick and professional service.

The drive back to camp took just about 1hr. and both Dixie and Bea looked like Happy Campers.

Even though we have booked another night until wednesday in the park, we will be heading out first thing tomorrow morning. Our goal will be reaching Buffalo, NY. 

Friday, April 12, 2024

So Now What?

Weather has not been good. Rain and wind over large parts of the US didn't stop here either. The last night was loud, as the wind played his rough song in the strapping of our solar panels. But at least we didn't have to get up at 6am. It was almost 7:30 when I found Dixie still sleeping on her bed.

Checking the messages on my phone, I found one from the Chevy dealer. He needed authorization "to drop the Tranny pan" to check for metal pieces. I gave authorization to plow ahead with whatever seemed necessary. It confirmed what I already knew, the fluid was burnt, plus that metal shavings were plentiful in the bottom of the transmission. Catastrophic transmission failure!

During the afternoon we got their quote. That was some tough reading! A full replacement of the tranny would amount to $8500 minus $2000 for the core of the old transmission. A hefty bill, no doubt, but it would give me 3 yrs. of warranty or 100,000miles. The good news was that they have that transmission in stock and that they will do it on Monday. That is actually great news, as we really don't want to hang around here longer than necessary.

Tomorrow morning Kathy will come to move our trailer to the next site over as our site was already booked from Saturday. She also dropped by this morning and we got her a short list of groceries to pick up for us.

Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning our angel Kathy will drive us to Columbus to get our van back. We will be eternally thankful for her help.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

When Disaster Strikes....

 An innocent morning after a very quiet night in a State Park almost ended in disaster.

We had been up early to make it all the way to Buffalo, NY. Heading up the I-70, which here in Ohio was of excellent quality, we had stopped for a short and early lunch break at a truck-stop. Getting right back onto I-70 I was accelerating the rig to travel speed, when a terrible scream was heard. And it was NOT coming from another car, but from our transmission.

Yes, and at the same time RPM was revving up without any acceleration. Clearly a transmission issue!

And that's when our ordeal through the rest of the day began. We had made it off of the I-70 onto a lesser highway and parked on the shoulder of the road. The area was full of huge ware houses.

We called several transmission places in the area (thanks Google) but none wanted anything to do with this. So finally I had to call Coachnet, our trusted roadside assistance service. It was them who found a towing company and a Chevy dealership in Columbus which could have time next week (!!!) to look at the problem. One other dealership, I spoke to myself, had a 2 months waiting time (!!!!)

When the tow truck arrived he took the van to the city. Meanwhile, Bea and I waited in the trailer. Police came also inquiring why we were parked in that spot. 

After 2.5hrs. the tow truck was back to pick up the trailer. Meanwhile we had figured out a State Park some 26 miles away in the opposite direction close to Springfield, OH.

One of the challenges of the day turned out to get Dixie into the tow truck. Way to high for her to jump or try to climb. So we lifted her 105pounds of live weight through the truck door. I think that scared her, but there was no other way. Later, after we arrived at the campground we had to lift her out again. But she did OK this time and was obviously enjoying the thick green grass outside.

That's where the tow truck dropped us of. It is very, *correction* no extremely remote and the question how we ever would get back to Columbus for the pickup of our trailer stood between us. 

I was just connecting the power cable to the trailer when I heard a woman's voice from the other side. And it wasn't Bea, as she had taken Dixie for a walk. Peeking around, I saw a black pickup truck and a woman looking somewhat bewildered. 

This person was Kathy and she had thought the tow truck driver had left the trailer without closing the trailer door. After telling her about why we had came with a tow truck she immediately offered her help for both getting things like groceries or driving us to the city to pick up our van again. WOW....we were just stunned about so much helpfulness. 

Fixing the tranny may take anything from 4 - 10 work days, depending on a possible repair or complete replacement. I already tend to prefer a complete replacement, maybe with a rebuilt transmission. But we will let you have an update on this "adventure".

Before you go away: Kudos and praise to "Shark Tooth" towing Service. Super nice and cautious driver and operator!

Kudos also to! I am convinced it is the very best roadside assistance service there is available. Great timely follow-up, great service making tons of necessary phone calls on behalf of their clients and no discussions about when it comes to get you to safe and fitting locations. We have used Coachnet already twice on this trip and both times they did not disappoint.

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

The Longest 40 Miles Of My Life...?

This morning I had a plan. Rather than stressing around to find a suitable Walmart for the night, I consulted the map. I was actually looking for a State Park in Ohio, fitting at a good days driving distance of 400 miles.

A little ways off Dayton, OH I discovered "Hueston Woods State Park. I told co-pilot Bea about it and then we went on the road. First destination was St.Louis. Bea found an excellent byway - I-270. We followed that Interstate and we never saw anything of the city. that is - other than lots of traffic. Once back on the I-70 we approached Indianapolis. The I-70 through IN is absolutely horrible. Patches on top of patches makes you jolt in your seat. It was a nightmare!

Meanwhile, Bea had located the OH State Park on the map and found that if we by-passed Indianapolis on the south side we would "run directly towards the State Park" which also would save us 10 miles of driving in total rather than following I-70 for later making some 20 miles straight to the south of it.

That sounded great to my ears, so we went for it. Total estimated time to the State Park was supposed to be around 2hrs. Great! But I was kind of getting tired too.

First part of the "shortcut" was I-465 - with tons of bad behaving traffic. The next turnoff was I-74 which was followed by Hwy 44, which led through every little forgotten town on the way. If you think the n"44" would cross these poor towns in a straight line , you are dead wrong. Nope, the town crossings ran in a ZIG-ZAG pattern. Hopelessly parked vehicles blocked intersections and it was like it was all planned that way by town council to make visitors enjoy the huge old churches, the boarded-up stores and private residences sporting couches and fridges on the front porch. One of thos featured a sign "CONDEMNED" in prominent yellow letters on the front door.

I was around that time that I asked Bea how many more miles we still had to do to reach camping haven in Ohio.

Her answer: 40miles.  OK, 40miles seemed like a lot to me and I just moaned. After a long time of continued driving and maneuvering our rig along now very narrow country roads (with sharp curves and deep steep valleys) I asked again:  "22miles", she said. WHAT? ANOTHER 22miles?

The procedure and disappointment repeated itself at 13 miles, then at 7 miles, then 4miles, and finally 2miles. During the entire drive the area got more and more remote looking. Confusing for me was also the fact that the GPS girl at the windshield had a different route than the Google map girl on Bea's phone. Sometimes they shouted at each other. 

But, yes, we finally made it to the park. There were more rigs in there than I had expected for a regular Tuesday.

Maybe they weren't the longest 40 miles of my life, but I dubbed them "Rubber-miles". 

The park is quite large, sites are electric with no water and there are lots of hiking trails, one of which I went to explore with Dixie. It lead down a slope to a small river.

Range burns in Kansas

Green fields make us forget the desert

A delightful contrast to the horrible feedlots in Texas and Oklahoma

The Mississippi

Springtime along the highways

One of several town along Hwy 44

Old Farm House

The narrow road straight ahead marks the state line between Indiana and Ohio