Home at Last

I figured I should catch ya’ll up with the last few days of our travel season now that things have settled down just slightly.

We finished up our visit with Alex and the human kids and headed out from Chesterfield VA early on Saturday Oct 27…after some thought about out tank levels Neil decided not to dump on the way out. In order to keep our tank indicators working properly…the black and gray tanks need to be flushed periodically with some cleaning stuff…we use a combination of a half tank of water, 3 gallons of white vinegar and a couple cups of Dawn degreasing dish soap. Then we travel…normally just a single day…to let the sloshing around clean the insides of the tanks before dumping and flushing at our destination. This time…we had 3 travel days but given the relatively small amount of water we use on travel days we just put 50 or so gallons of fresh onboard and left VA with black and gray tanks both about 30% full.

It was still cool when we left…our first overnight stop was at Bass Lake RV Park in Dillon SC…pretty much a parking lot near the freeway. Nice grass pull sites that were plenty big…we left the rig hitched up and went over to Mass at the local church before heading back home for dinner. Still cool on Sunday morning…we pressed on and by mid-day it was nice and warm as we got into Georgia…stopping the second night in Brunswick at the Coastal Georgia RV resort…it was actually really nice and would be a good place to stop for a few days if one were visiting the Brunswick GA area…but just another overnight for us.

Monday we headed out for the longest day of the trip…the first two being just about 275 miles each; but the leg to North Fort Myers was another 100 miles past there. We took our standard bypass from I-95 around the Jacksonville beltway area and then head south on US-301…a nice 4 lane road…to the Ocala FL area where we jumped on I-75 for the last 175 miles or so…arriving at Seminole Campground once again around 1430. We quickly got backed in and unhitched…then Neil dumped the now thoroughly scoured out black and gray tanks before flushing both with clean water.

We spent the remainder of the week with setup tasks…all the outside furniture and stuff needed to go out and we needed to give the inside of the rig a thorough cleaning. Adding in choir practice and bingo on Tuesday and various other setup tasks we stayed pretty busy though Saturday morning. We watched ‘Bama throttle LSU 29 to zip Saturday evening…then headed back to Sarasota 75 miles back up I-75 for our first Sarasota Symphony Orchestra concert of the season, then had dinner at Longhorn’s Steakhouse before heading back home.

This week…we’re pretty much running on our normal winter schedule…most days we have something scheduled but nothing really complicated and we deliberately schedule them spread out over the week to keep from having to work too hard. Neil’s got a list of things we need to accomplish before the holidays…then shortly after that we’ll start detailed planning for next year’s travel season. I gotta tell ya though…we’re really glad to be home again for the season. We’re always ready to go by the last few weeks of winter…and we’re always ready to be home the last few weeks of travel season, and the bearing issue and subsequent extra 1500 miles to Indiana and back and the loss of our 10 day vacation in Cedar Key at the end of the travel season really made October seem to drag for us. We pulled in and parked and Connie said “It’s good to be home”…Neil had to agree with her.

No photos today…Neil’s working on an end of the travel season post to summarize our travel season and I’ll put some photos in there ya haven’t seen yet though.

Let’s move on to interesting things found on the net.

Shipping ships shipping shipping ships.

ShippingShipShippingShippingShips

Screw the rules sez this dog.

ScrewThePolice

Lion Menu.

LionsMenu

The truth about action movies.

TruthAboutActionMoviesI had to look twice at this one.

HadToLookTwice

Cyas.

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Grandbaby Alex

When last we left our heroes…it was Wednesday afternoon in Elkhart…Rob told us that we needed to be ready to go into the bay at 0600 Thursday morning…wonderful. So we got up really early…again…and moved the rig into the bay…then headed off to do laundry. With getting all of our bearings and associated suspension parts replaced…it was going to be a 2 day job so we left the techs to work on things and after laundry and lunch provided by MORryde headed off to a hotel for the evening. We met up with Dan and Jeanine Sheridan in the customer lounge…they were also getting their rig worked on…and arranged to meet them at Longhorn Steakhouse for dinner where we had great conversation and great food before heading back to the hotel for the evening.

Friday we were again up fairly early and got back to MORryde about 0800 or so…our work was progressing nicely and after another day in the customer lounge and lunch we were done about 1600 Friday afternoon. At that point, Neil hitched up and moved the rig back into one of the parking spaces and hooked up power…there’s no water so we were using what we put into the tank on our arrival on the previous Monday. We went ahead and made reservations for our 3 day travel back to Richmond VA before having dinner and then an early bedtime as we scheduled an 0700 departure. There was snow and hail forecast for Elkhart by early afternoon…it happened after we left thankfully…so we wanted to be well on the way early.

By 1200 we were down to Columbus OH a hundred miles south and about 180 east of Elkhart then we continued on to Cambridge OH where we parked, ate dinner, went to be early and rinse and repeat for the next two days. Our second night stop was in Lexington VA…from Cambridge we departed I-70 for I-77 south until it’s intersection with I-64 then eastward on I-64 for most of the remainder of the trip. We didn’t depart Lexington until about 1000 as we only had 150 miles left to go…pulling into Pocahontas State Park in Chesterfield VA about 1330 Monday…15 miles from the human kids house where we quickly setup in our reserved site 105.

Our original plan was to wait until Tuesday morning to head over…but Bryan called and offered to feed us so we went over for a couple hours for dinner…but we wuz whipped so we headed home early.

The rest of the week was pretty much the same…Alex has pre-K in the mornings so we slept late and headed over in the early afternoon for visit and dinner…the only exception was Wednesday when we spent almost all day running errands we needed to accomplish here in the Richmond area.

As I type this it’s Thursday afternoon…we’ll spend the rest of today and Friday doing the same…visit and dinner…before saying our “until next times” Friday evening and then departing as scheduled early Saturday morning for our 3 day trip back down to North Fort Myers. We’ll stop overnight in Dillon SC and Brunswick GA before arriving back at Seminole Campground site 101 on Monday afternoon. I probably won’t post again until after our arrival down there.

Interesting stuff found on the net.

A few weeks back we drove down the Kankamagus Highway in VT…while we didn’t get as good leaf pictures as we liked one of the blogs Neil follows the guy drove down this past weekend…here are a couple of shots of what we would have seen if we had been there 2 weeks later.

Kancamangus 1

Kancamagus2

Pretty cool, eh?

Do you know where your kids are…

DoYouKnowWhereYourKidsAre

These are skid marks in the snow from a car…how does this even happen.

HowDoesThisEvenHappen

And two guesses…what is this?

TacoBellOfCourse

It’s a Taco Belle of course.

Albanian computer virus.

AlbanianVirus

Cyas.

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DC Area and Elkhart IN

Just a quick post to keep all up to date…but really there’s not much to report.

After our few days in the Tunkhannock PA area…we hitched up Friday morning and made the 335 mile trip down to the Washington DC area, parking at our usual campground at Bull Run Regional Park in site 113…where amazingly enough we actually had satellite visibility for a change…where we were scheduled to attend the Cassaday and Company Annual Symposium on Saturday. Cassaday is our financial advisor and do an annual meeting for those investors…we were speaking on a panel about RVing full time for some of their clients who have questions. The session was well attended with about 50 people…including Steve Cassaday the owner of the company, and he actually had a couple of questions for the panel. After that we headed home for the evening as we were due to depart early Sunday morning.

Sunday and Monday were a drag…379 and 333 miles respectively…with a stop every 50 miles to check the torque on our bad axle. Neil put a second nut on top of the one that keeps coming loose and every 50 miles it was stop, pull the dust cap and second nut, check the torque, reinstall and torque the second nut and reattach the dust cap. We stopped overnight in Cambridge OH and arrived at the MORRyde factory in Elkhart IN about 1630 on Monday.

Tuesday morning we met with the service manager Rob Kolean…who confirmed what we already knew that they already had a full service schedule this week but he always makes room for emergencies. He told us it would probably be Thursday morning before we could start work…and after discussing our needs, current status of our suspension, and our rig’s mileage we came up with a plan for repair and replacement of both the failed wheel but to redo the other 5 axles as well to prevent this happening again next year. Our repairs would take 2 full days so with a planned estimated start on Thursday we headed off early Wednesday morning to Classy Chassis about 70 miles west in Valparaiso IN…we had a couple of minor issues with Big Red we needed to get taken care of…and given that Tom’s folks had experience with our truck build decided to take advantage of that.

We had lost power to our rig side and rear view cameras…Tom’s tech quickly isolated the problem to a bad fuse holder which he replaced. We were originally going to get our two 7 pin connectors where the trailer brake and light cable connects replaced…but Rob called and said he might be able to get us into the bay about 1100…so we just bought the parts and Neil will replace them when he gets a chance.

The 1100 start work thing didn’t actually happen…the folks in the bay we will b going into decided on some extra work…by the time that was done and they left it was almost 1600 so Rob will be moving us into the empty bay at 0600 tomorrow to start work. Unless they find some other problem…he’s going to assign enough techs to get us done by Friday afternoon.

So hopefully we will be fixed and out of here on Saturday morning…we’ve got a 3 day transit scheduled back to the Richmond area to visit grand baby Alex…it’s about the same number of miles (750 or so) that we did int 2 days getting here to Elkhart…so it should be a slightly more relaxed transit on the way back.

Gotta say though…the weather sucks here. It got all the way up to 47 today and is going to be below 32 tonight…we gotta get out of this place. When we leave…we’re heading south to Lexington KY and then east on I-64 to the Richmond area where we’ve got reservations starting Monday night.

That’s about it…sorry no pictures today because we’ve been transiting and have definitely not been doing any Fun Stuff© this week.

Cyas.

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CT, PA, Disasters…and Bananas

After our leaf peeping trip and CT state capital trip…we had one more day of Fun Stuff© scheduled for CT…we headed out to the Apple Harvest Festival in Southington just south of Hartford. It turned out to be not nearly as good as the festival we went to up at Mount Snowe…unfortunately it was big enough so that instead of all locally produced stuff and craftsmen it attracted a whole bunch of professional festival vendors who were selling mostly imported Chinese crap. There was still some good stuff…but not nearly as high a percentage. We spent a couple of hours wandering around looking at stuff…Connie bought several nice things…and we spent a pleasant 30 minutes at the Oktoberfest run by and out in front of the local Elks Lodge in Southington. There was even music at the Oktoberfest…if you can call what those two guys were doing music…we certainly didn’t.

Following that we headed home and spent the holiday (Columbus Day) at home in the rig…no reason to go out and fight with the crowds and traffic…Columbus Day is a bigger deal up here than we’re used to in the south.

And that was when the first disaster happened…a little fella named Hurricane Michael. Just like Harvey a couple of years back…he sprung directly to life in the Gulf of Mexico close to Yucatan instead of starting all the way over by the west coast of Africa and slowly making his way across the Atlantic. Nope…not ol’ Mike…he started as an Invest…that’s the technical term the weather weenies use before it’s even a tropical depression…then went from a depression to a storm to a hurricane in like 3 days…then intensified to almost a category 5 hurricane before making landfall today in the Panama Beach area on the FL panhandle. The drawback was that the storm is about 300 or 400 miles wide and passed within about 150 miles of our upcoming destination at the Low Key Hideaway in Cedar Key…with predicted storm surges of 10-12 feet which would put the Tiki Bar under about 3-4 feet of water and trash all the campsite utility hookups as well. As I write this…the hurricane is ashore but we still don’t know whether the campground will even be open by the time we were supposed to be there on Oct 22. Our original plan was a wait and see attitude…we figured that after the storm we would get in touch with Maureen and Frank to make a decision depending on how trashed Cedar Key was by the storm.

Notice…I said our original plan…that changed Tuesday morning as we got ready to leave Thomaston. As you recall a few weeks back we had a failed axle bearing on our rig…which was fixed by MORRyde sending us a replacement part via FedEx. That arrived and Neil installed it including torquing it to the correct 150 ft-lbs of torque. Well…Tuesday morning as he was doing his outside stuff he decided to grab that wheel and see if it was still tight…the answer was no although not nearly as loose as it was before. He pulled the dust cap off and re-torqued the nut…with no grease coming out of the bearing so there’s no obvious damage at this point…but since the nut came loose with 3 travel days totaling about 400 miles total there’s clearly something else amiss. 

Neil called and talked to the MORRyde folks…they concurred with him that something is wrong and needs to be looked at…so the correct answer is to head to MORRyde and let their experts fix it since they build the suspension on our rig. 

After re-torquing the nut…and we’ll continue to do that every travel day until we get it fixed…we headed on down to our next stop in Tunkahannock PA just outside Scranton…arriving at Cozy Creek Campground after our 190 mile trip. We got set up in site 78…they originally told us to take 72 but there was somebody in it when we got back there…they then offered us 74 but it wouldn’t have satellite visibility so we agreed on 78 with them. Nice site…full hookups although a bit angled front to back…but nothing we couldn’t level around. After setup…very minimal since we’re only here for 3 nights…we headed out to Kelly’s Creekside Inn…a local dive bar where we had brews and dinner…a cheese quesadilla for Connie and a cheese steak for Neil…both were really good, the brews were cold, and the locals were friendly.

Wednesday we headed out about 0900 to go and visit the Steamtown National Historical Site…basically a train museum. We wandered around an hour or so…couldn’t really get very interested in them as they were just trains…and then headed off.

Ya thought I fergot ‘bout them bananas…right? Nosiree…I didna do it so here goes.

I’ll have to ‘splain it to ya a bit though…

Back in the 70s…there was this folk singer named Harry Chapin…his most famous song was “Cat’s in the Cradle”…he mostly couldn’t really sing much and his songs were typically ballad like…very similar to those done by Gordon Lightfoot of “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” fame.

Back then he also had this song named “30,000 Pounds of Bananas”…ya guessed it, that’s where the reference comes in. Now most of you have probably never heard this song so let me give you a little background.

Way back on March 18, 1965 a 35 year old truck driver named Eugene P. Sesky was on his way to deliver a load of bananas to Scranton PA…he was returning from the piers in Weehawken NJ and was headed for the wholesale grocer block in Scranton PA…He was headed down PA-307 into town…this road drops 500 feet in less than 1.5 miles as it comes off the ridge into town…when his brakes failed. The song details his attempts to slow the truck down…but despite his efforts he was doing about 90 mph when he got to town. He knew that there was a gas station at the bottom of the hill…and he was mightily concerned not for his own life but for those of his fellow residents in Scranton. Hanging out on the truck’s running board…he yelled at people to get out of the way and eventually…according to local legend… deliberately crashed his truck at the corner of Music Street and South Irving Avenue a couple blocks before he would have crashed into the gas station resulting in a fireball and many dead folks. As it was…there were 15 injuries…and tragically Eugene was the only fatality.

The accident was cleaned up and mostly forgotten…until Harry Chapin…this was before he was famous…was traveling out of Scranton on a bus and heard the story being relayed by other passengers on the bus. Being a musician…and having a local hero…he naturally wrote a song about it, recorded it later, and went on with life.

But…the rest of the story as Paul Harvey used to say.

Old Harry’s original recording was of the typical 3-4 minute variety that was designed for play on the radio…but he also liked to have what he called alternate endings to his songs…then his band used these alternate endings which made the entire song last 20 or 30 minutes…in live concerts. The primary reason for them was probably to extend the length of the song and hence lower the number of songs they needed to have on the program…but a lot of these longer versions of the songs actually made a lot more sense and provided a lot more humor.

In the much longer version that Neil heard way back then…the original ending talked about 30,000 pounds of scattered bananas…but I the much longer version there were a couple alternate endings. First up was one that went “Yes, we have no bananas, bananas in Scranton PA.” sung to the tune normally associated with the first phrase of that ending. According to the song…it was with some trepidation that he played it for the band…and their reaction was best summed by his brother John who said in his deep baritone voice “Harry, it sucks.”. So he want back to the drawing board and came up with another one…this one he said was a country-western version since the song already had a truck in it. This ending talks about a woman…presumably the widow…who because of her sorrow over the accident never eats bananas. Once again John’s reaction was “Harry, it sucks.”. So he went back…and there was a lot of talk about thinking about it and wondering how to end the song that he came up with the final ending which goes “I asked this old guy who saw the wreck what he say” and his reply…in your typical old man of the country voice was “Boy…it sure musta been something. Jus’ imagine…30,000 pounds of mashed bananas.”

Connie and Neil have been joking for going on 40something years now about “He was picking up speed, heading into Scranton PA”…so we decided to head in into downtown and see if there was some sort of memorial or marker at the spot. A quick check with Wikipedia revealed the coordinates to us…so off we went.

You can read the page about the song here…and hear it…but I’m not sure if the version linked to on that page has all the alternate endings in it. 

In any event…it’s actually a pretty great song for a live concert as there’s audience participation in it and back in those days involving the audience at concerts was the thing to do. And since Connie and Neil have been talking about it for 40something years…and since we were in Scranton PA…we just had to go see it.

OK, on to pictures.

The sand sculpture at the Apple Harvest Festival in Southington.

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The 790…the oldest at 115 years old…steam locomotive at Steamtown. There are probably going on 50 old locomotives and train cars here…and almost all of them are steam. A couple of the early diesel locomotives owned by the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western (DL&R) railroad are represented alone with a customized Pullman care that the president of the railroad used for his personal transportation are included…but it’s mostly old steam locomotives. There’s a whole numbering system for them…it has to do with the number of drive wheels and the number of non drive wheels and something else as I recall…but we’re not railroad geeks enough to know the difference. They also run train tourist tours around the local area…the first train of the day during the summer is steam but the rest are all steam locomotive powered.

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The round table where locomotives were switched between tracks. They rolled onto the center section when then revolved in train wheels to the track…or garage position…they needed to be in. The historical site is on the location of the old DL&T train yard…the station downtown is beautiful and is now the local Radisson hotel.

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Two of the old steam locomotives and a caboose from the early 1900s.

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They musta stole this from either the Roadrunner of Wiley Coyote.

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Looking up Moosic Street (PA-307 from the eastern side of South Irving. The hill beyond is where the truck was coming down…it’s a lot steeper than it looks in the image. Over Neil’s left shoulder behind him is the gas station that the driver crashed to prevent getting into the gas station. The house on the right is the one that the truck crashed into…when Neil got out to take the photo a guy in the yard asked him why he was there. Turns out he and his wife moved into the house a couple months after the accident and have lived there ever since. Nice couple…friendly and they said we weren’t the first ones to stop by and look. The corner of the house needed repair as well as the yard afterwards. The bananas…they were pretty much smashed right where he was standing for this shot.

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I grabbed the following image of the crash from the web and the corresponding view from google maps street view.

In this one…take note of the two windows to the left and dormer to the right as well as the tilted pole…also the house in the background with the 3 high windows and the lower ones along with the position of the two telephone poles.

Scr bananas

This image from street view was taken from about the position of Li’l Red in the photo above showing the corner of the house the truck bounced off of…you can see the same windows, dormers, and the high winds in the background house as well as the two poles. 

MoosicAndSouthIrving

While all of that probably matters to nobody but us…we’ve always liked that song and found the location interesting…strange how the neighborhood, houses and telephone poles have changed very little in the past 53 years.

Our second day of Fun Stuff© in northeast PA was a planned drive to see some leaves, take in the Nicholson Bridge which is a railroad aqueduct that was constructed by the DL&W back in 1915, and check out a couple of breweries and wineries.

Unfortunately…it pretty much rained all day so even though we didn’t leave until 1300 most of our afternoon was spent in and out of rain, fog, and drizzle…but we did get a few nice photos along the way.

This is the Nicholson Bridge…it’s the longest at 2,300 feet  and highest poured concrete railroad structure in the world according to the history…basically it was built to carry the DL&W from one ridge to the other side of the valley…or hollow…or holler as they’re known in these parts. This first shot isn’t the greatest…but we noticed a train headed across it and Neil grabbed this frame so you could have some scale of how big this thing is.

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After the train passed we went ‘round the corner on the road and found a spot to get a decent photo of the whole thing.

D75 5340 AuroraHDR2018 edit

We spotted a few nice leaves…but due to the lousy weather this was the bet shot we could get along our 70 or so mile drive.

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This was taken on the Adventure Portion of our drive today.

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Along the way we stopped at Endless Brewing where we sampled a couple of brews and then had a half pint each of their Maple Brown Ale…pretty tasty. The second brewery…Two Dogs and a Guy…was closed today due to a personal issue of some sort. Our final two stops were at Hidden Creek Winery and then Nimble Hill Vineyards…both had excellent wines but Hidden Creek’s were better and we brought home 6 bottles fro there and another pair from Nimble Hill.

We got back to the rig and made dinner…Neil cooked up some linguini and made a sauce out of baked winter squash, bacon, pecans, and cream…along with spices of course…and topping it all off with grated Parmesan…really yummy.

Interesting things found on the net.

I really can’t figure out how the illiterate folks will get any benefit from this sign.

IlliterateFreeHelp

How to make sure your co-workers really hate you.

MakeCoworkersHateYou

The Stairs of Death…imagine trying to walk down these when you’ve had too many wines or brewskis.

StairsOfDeath

So very, very true.

CatsDontText

I found the square root.

FoundTheSquareRoot

Cyas.

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Connecticut State Capital Day Trip

Before I get into the actual blog post here…Neil said he needs to take over the keyboard for a bit…feel free to skip a few paragraphs if you want.

Neil here…

I gotta tell ya…I’m really, really disappointed by this whole Supreme Court nomination nonsense.

Now let me tell you I’m not really a great fan of the president and I think I would have picked a nominee for SCOTUS with a little less potential baggage since Judge Kavanaugh was on both Ken Starr’s team that prosecuted President Clinton and on President Bush’s White House staff.

Now I understand that liberals would be against a conservative judge on SCOTUS…but the last time I checked any debate over a judicial nominee was about his or her qualifications and not about un-provable allegations.

Judge Kavanaugh has shown remarkably calm demeanor on the bench the past 12 years on the DC circuit…and understandably got pissed at the ongoing character assassination being conducted by the Democrats in the Senate.

I watched part of Dr. Ford’s testimony and she appeared reasonably credible…but I also watched Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony and he was equally as credible. The simple truth is that unless there is a witness to the contrary…any claim that she makes and any denial that he makes reduces to a simple he said/she said situation.

Dr. Ford, her attorneys, and the FBI have produced exactly zero evidence of any sort that corroborates her claim…affiliates from her husband and people who say she told them about it in the past few years aren’t evidence at all.

Senator Feinstein deliberately withheld Dr. Ford’s letter from the rest of the Judiciary Committee until the last minute simply because it was to the Democrat’s political advantage to do so. Her sole purpose…and that of all of her Democratic colleagues…was and is to delay the confirmation vote until after the mid-term elections in the hopes of taking control of the Senate. Sure…they’re pissed that Garland didn’t get a vote by the Republican majority senate during the last year of President Obama’s term…but there was some precedent for that and the Republican’s emphatically did not essentially make up un-provable accusations against him…they simply chose not to bring him to a vote. This was wrong in my opinion…elections have consequences…and he should have been given an up or down vote. The Democrats have a good reason to be irritated about that…but descending to the current charade will simply encourage the other side to respond in kind the next time there’s a Democratic President nominating a justice for SCOTUS.

Senator Hirono said last that week that we should believe Dr. Ford’s story and disbelieve Judge Kavanaugh’s denials simply because she is a woman and “women never lie about sexual assault. Excuse me? Remember Tawana Brawley and her rape allegations…and the Duke Lacrosse team case? Women do lie about sexual assault sometimes…and to demand that she be believed just because she is a woman is wrong.

Senator Hirono also said last week that “innocent until proven guilty”…doesn’t apply in this case. Excuse me? That principle of law has been in effect since the 3rd or 4th century in Rome…the burden of proof falls on the accuser.

So let’s talk about the evidence Dr. Ford claims exists.

Her story has changed 3 or 4 times.

She can’t remember where the party was, when it was, how she got there, or how she got home…and she admittedly  was drinking…but she’s 100% certain that it was Judge Kavanaugh who groped her.

She remembers witnesses who were there and gave their names…each of these witnesses has submitted statements under penalty of perjury that it either didn’t happen or that they have no knowledge of it and do not know Judge Kavanaugh.

The Democrats demanded…and received…an additional FBI inquiry. Last week…they were praising the integrity of the FBI. The FBI was tasked with investigating credible allegations of sexual assault against Judge Kavanaugh. The FBI interviewed every person save one (who declined to be interviewed) who might have relevant first hand information. They did not interview either Dr. Ford or Judge Kavanaugh as both of them had already testified under oath and had no further information to provide. I would have had the FBI interview both of them…but I can understand why they did not. The FBI investigation found no…zero…none…corroborating evidence to any of the allegations they investigated.

Now the Democrats have stated that the investigation was a sham and that the FBI intentionally ignored the facts to report what they were told to report. Excuse me? That is nothing other than political BS…the Democrats don’t like the outcome of the investigation…so naturally it’s a sham.

Sorry folks…even if you don’t like Judge Kavanaugh or his interpretations of the constitution…this entire circus has been nothing but a political stunt to ignore the results of the election in 2016 and get their way. As President Obama said…elections have consequences…and no matter how much the Democrats stamp their feet…they lost and the other side won.

“Activists” on the Democratic side have threatened the families and grandchildren of Republican Senators. Senators were hounded out of restaurants.

I would not be surprised if this entire circus hurts Democrats on Election Day in a few weeks…I’ve seen a lot of talk about a blue wave and a red wave…but I’ve also seen regular everyday people who admit they don’t like the President or Judge Kavanaugh who say they’re disgusted by the way this went down.

I would also not be surprised to see something similar the next time a Democratic President nominates a judge for SCOTUS…although I hope the Republicans will act like adults instead of kindergartner children…unfortunately with today’s tit for tat political payback environment I don’t hold out a lot of hope that they will.

Again…this screed is not about whether or not Judge Kavanagh should be on SCOTUS…it’s about the process and the complete lack of decorum, civility, and common decency Democrats have shown in it…and it’s about their demands that he’s guilty until proven innocent. That’s just wrong folks…plain wrong.

Now back to your regularly scheduled blog post…passing the keyboard over to Gunther. 

Ima back folks…

Lessee…what’s happened since my last post. We were originally going to go to the Connecticut state capital on Thursday…but decided to change and go Friday instead. With that we headed out about 1000 or so for the 25 mile trip over to Hartford…intentionally taking the back road. We spent an hour or so doing a self guided tour around and taking pictures…then headed over to Bear’s Smokehouse BBQ…the Connecticut entry on the Southern Living “Best BBQ in Each State” article we’ve been using. Our plan was to get takeout for dinner…but by the time we got to the counter everybody was pretty much starving…so we got takeout pulled pork and cornbread for dinner and also a half pound of beef brisket which we declared would be lunch on the way home.

I can report that the brisket was excellent…nay, outstanding…juicy, smokey, and tender…we didn’t even put any sauce on it. Unfortunately…the pork was a bit dry when we warmed it up for dinner…definitely not Good Eats. It was a bit better the next day when we made Nachos out of it.

On to the photos.

Looking up at the window in the ceiling of the east wing.

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The rotunda and underside of the dome.

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The Connecticut State Heroine…a school teacher who opened a school for black children before the Civil War.

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Some famous Connecticut resident named Nathan Hale.

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This is the Cannonball Tree…during the battle of Chicamauga in the Civil War it was struck by a cannonball fired by a Connecticut artillery battery…then after the war the tree was brought back to the state.

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This is the USS Hartford…the flagship of Admiral Farragut…he of the “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead”. Carved by a one armed crewman who lost his arm during the battle after the war.

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We did spot one nicely colored tree out on the adjacent park.

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This is the best shot Neil could get of the capital building itself…simply no place to get a decent one.

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Interesting things found on the net.

Genius.

KeepAllTheCookies

Even more genius…how a husband gets out of shopping with his wife like a BOSS.

GetOutOfShopping

 

Cyas.

Posted in RV, Travel | 2 Comments

Transit to Thomaston CT and Fun Stuff©

When last we left our intrepid explorers…it was Friday and raining so we stayed home. We did get out over the weekend to get some groceries, made another stop at the Elks lodge in Greenfield, get Connie’s bangs trimmed, have another great pizza from Village Pizza in Greenfield, and go to Mass…but otherwise we just stayed home as the weather was mostly lousy over the weekend.

With all of that done…we were up early Monday morning for our 121 mile transit to Thomaston CT…it was freeway almost the entire way…10 miles east before we got on then south, west, and back a bit north before the final 7 miles into our next destination…Branch Brook Campground just outside the city. We quickly got checked in and proceeded to our site 68 in the satellite view section of the campground…there are about 6 sites in here that have any possibility of seeing the birds and we specifically asked for one when Neil made our reservation back before we departed Florida. 

While we were setting up…our neighbors discovered a black bear in the trees behind us…it was just a little guy about 75 pounds or so but after he fell out of the tree he was in Neil could never find him on the ground to take a photo. What is strange is that right behind the satellite view sites is a fence to the next property…on the other side of the fence is a little strip of trees maybe 15 or 20 yards deep and 60 yards long…then there’s a huge parking lot and some sort of factory or fabrication business. The next nearest trees of any sort is probably 500 yards from where the little guy was and we tried to figure out how he got there. There’s a state park across the road and 1/4 mile or so down…so we decided that most likely momma bear had stashed him there while she went off to do bear things…and probably came back and got him the next night to take him back to the park…but in any event we haven’t seen or heard from him since.

After our arrival…the first thing on tap for Tuesday morning was laundry as our hamper was getting pretty full…but before I get to that here are a last couple of shots from the Charlemont area.

One more shot of the colors in a tree…we still are looking for decent colors but as days go by we’re getting closer.

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Neil built us a campfire on Sunday evening…it finally cleared up a bit and all the weekend campers had departed so we sat outside for an hour and a half turning wood into ashes.

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OK…back to the story. We did laundry on Tuesday as it was supposed to rain again…and rain it did. The morning was just a little barely there mist…sorta like those negligees that Neil prefers…and then after that we lazed around in the afternoon before heading out for some barely adequate sushi nearby Monday evening for dinner. We hoped to get home before the rain started in earnest…but alas we failed and it started pouring while we were in the restaurant. We made it home and then for the next couple of hours the weather radio was going off every 10 minutes with thunderstorm warnings, tornado watches, flash flooding warnings…and torrential rain. Not much wind…most of the really bad stuff was either to our north or south and it was all heading east at 40+ knots…but we got a whole bunch of rain. It tapered off around 2100…but then rained again off and on overnight until about 0500 although none of it was as hard as earlier in the evening.

Wednesday dawned clear and a pretty nice looking day…so about 0900 we headed out as planned for our first drive here in northwest CT. I gotta tell ya…the DLETC chose wisely this time…although not at peak there is a whole lot more color in the trees down here than we’ve seen anywhere else so far…the only drawback is that most of the stands of trees are mixed hardwood and evergreen…and the latter obviously don’t change color…so there’s a lot of green mixed in with the reds and yellows.

As we departed the rig for our drive…we noticed that the storm had delivered a sign for us that fall has indeed arrived in the northeast US. This was not staged…that’s where the storm left it in Big Red’s starboard side front door handle.

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We headed out from the campground on what Connie termed as the “pre-drive”…the actual drive she was following from Yankee Magazine started 30 or 40 miles away in Granby…and we had to meander through various small towns on the way there. Once we got to Granby we stopped by the garlic farm and picked up some more fresh garlic and corn before getting to our first stop of the day…a mile long loop hike at Enders Falls State Park where we saw some nice waterfalls…they were really rushing due to all the overnight rain in the area so Neil was pretty happy about that.

Here they are heading off on the hike.

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There were a bunch of un-named falls on this small river…we went downstream about a half mile before looping back…in the 125 foot elevation drop before we turned around there were at least six different falls plus some other smaller ones that didn’t quite make it to the definition of waterfall.

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Looking upward through the trees…Connie had to do something whilst Neil was crawling out on the wet and slippery rocks.

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She also found some nice photogenic fungi on a couple of trees…she got one of the waterfalls in the background in the second one.

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On arrival back at Li’l Red…this was across the street from the parking lot.

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We proceeded onto one of the local reservoirs…never seen a dam with a gatehouse on it.

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Connie looking out over the reservoir.

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We stopped by the Riverton General Store for lunch…and got two really good home made meatball sandwiches on toasted buns with cheese and red peppers for lunch…then ate them while overlooking this nice set of bonus waterfalls.

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Continuing our drive…we spotted a lot more of the colors we’ve been looking for…although still not the wide angle the whole mountainside is red and yellow peak ones yet.

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We spotted some turkeys crossing the road…this female was one of a group of about 15.

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The road up to the top of Haystack Mountain State Park.

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Our last stop on the drive was at Thorncrest Fam & Milk House Chocolates where we sampled some and bought some very nice…albeit very expensive…chocolates. We could have brought home a lot as it was really good…but at $8.45 plus tax for a 4 piece box we resisted the temptation to overspend.

After that we headed to Torrington to visit the Elks Lodge there…there are a total of 3 lodges nearby but this was the only one that provided any useful info on their website regarding hours and facilities…we’ve learned over the years that the lack of into on the website usually means it’s usually just a cheap bar not a very good place to visit…this one owns a 4 story building with each floor being at least 3 times the size of our entire lodge down in North Fort Myers…they have a banquet room and can cater weddings or events up to 200 folks. Bowling alleys, pool tournaments and a huge bar as you can see in the iPhone pano Neil took below. Best of all…they can server up a Dark and Stormy cocktail…which as you know is Gosling’s Dark Spiced Navy Rum and Ginger Beer…the lodge uses actual fermented Ginger Beer instead of the unleaded variety which is just very gingery ginger ale…which while being very good isn’t as good as one where the beer is truth instead of just kidding.

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After that we headed home…dinner was grilled green beans, grilled mushrooms and red peppers, and a nice steak with roasted garlic butter on it…Neil added a roll and we had a glass of wine to go along with it.

Connie must have picked up some sort of tummy bug along the way during the day as she was up all night with intestinal and tummy issues…she’s feeling better today but not up to par yet…luckily we had postponed our planned second drive on Thursday until Friday instead as she would not be up for anything today.

Interesting stuff found on the net.

If you get this one…you’re a math nerd.

DearAlgebra

I can believe this one.

WTFFacts

Awkward family photo…borrowed from one of Neil’s internet buddies…Greg White. According to Greg it was a really mild roller coaster.

AwkwardFamilyPhoto

Important notice.

Notice

RIP.

RIPPillsburyDoughboy

Obviously spelling…did not make the list.

SpellingDidNotMakeTheList

Cyas.

Posted in RV, Travel | 7 Comments

Day Trip Around Northwest MA

After our travel here to Country Aire Campground in Charlemont MA last Monday…and the outstanding dinner we had afterwards…we planned to do nothing on Tuesday and Wednesday…Tuesday it was supposed to be cloudy all day which means no nice light for photography and Wednesday it was scheduled to rain. Sure enough…the forecast for both of those days held true so the only thing we did was drive down to the local Elks Lodge in Greenfield just a couple blocks from The Peoples Pint I wrote about in my last post…and it turned out to be one of the nicest lodges we’ve visited in quite awhile. The parking lot was pretty full when we got there about 1530…but it turned out the lodge had rented out it’s dining room for a catered post-funeral reception…so we just proceeded past the dining room to the bar anyway. We had a couple of pints of Leftie’s Honey Brown Ale…Leftie’s is a local Greenfield MA brewery just another few blocks from the lodge…but then Greenfield is a pretty small place so most everything is just a few blocks from most everything else.

We sat down…there were two seats but not two adjacent seats and the members quickly made them adjacent for us…we sat next to the Exalted Ruler (ER) and the bartender turned down our $50 bill as the first two were “on them” for guests from other lodges. The Lefties were so good that we ordered another couple…which were again paid for by the guy sitting on the other side of us…Neil repaid the favor by buying him a couple brews as well. The second pair was so good that…you guessed it…we had a third pair of pints before finally heading out for dinner.

We had taken chicken out and planned to cook it…but by that time we were tired so Neil asked what the best pizza place in town was…the unanimous vote was for Village Pizza just…again, you guessed it…just a couple blocks down. We stopped by and ordered a pie with sausage (Italian of course), mushrooms, and extra cheese…and grabbed a piece of baklava from their display for dessert as well. We took it home…poured us a couple of short glasses of wine from the fridge…and sat down to the best pizza we’ve had in months…the last time we had one close to this good was way back in June in Little Bras d’Or in Nova Scotia…and this one topped even that one. We ate it all save two slices which we saved for later on.

With all that done…we headed out early Thursday morning about 0900 for a day of Fun Stuff©…Connie the DLETC had planned a nice drive for us on little country roads and along the Connecticut River hunting for fall foliage, any other interesting stuff we might see along the way, lunch and Happy Hour…and then Neil suggested adding Bonus Happy Hour to the schedule and popping into the Lodge again on the way by…since we were going right past it on the way back to the rig.

It was a nice sunny day and we completely enjoyed our drive…did not see as much foliage as were hoping for but we did get a bit as well as some other interesting stuff.

Lunch and Happy Hour were planned for the Rendezvous in Turners Falls…we had a couple pints of Berkshire Brewing Company Steel Ale which was a lighter brew but they didn’t have any darker ones, no stouts or porters, and everything else on tap was an IPA which we passed on. We also had a couple of pretty decent burgers…not quite as good as the at The People’s Pint but pretty darned good nonetheless. We also suffered through a a few minutes of the additional Kavanaugh committee hearing on CNN until the young lady tending bar got irritated at our disgust over the way things were being handled and turned it off…so much the better since we didn’t want to hear it anyway. After lunch we finished up the rest of our drive…we only had to back track once as the DLETC’s directions were less than accurate…not her fault as Maps said there was this small bridge over the Connecticut River but the road dead ended into a dirt path with no bridge so we just found another way across. We stopped by the lodge for another quick cocktail before heading home. Dinner was the aforementioned leftover Village Pizza pie along with the leftovers from our dinner the day before…fish chowder.

It rained most of the night overnight and  into Friday so we stayed home again…I think she has more stuff planned for the weekend…but ya never know.

OK…on to phots from our drive. I was hoping we would have some wide angle, full color foliage shots to post…but it appears that we’ll miss the peak leaf peeping season here in New England. So I’ve had to selectively frame shots to give you some of the autumnal colors while keeping as much as possible things like roads, cars, power lines and the like out of the frame. Not really what I wanted to have…but it is what it is. While some of these might look a little oversaturated…they’re really not…it was such a beautiful blue sky day and the natural colors are so vivid that you almost think you’re in a surrealistic landscape when you see the colors.

We liked both this tree in the yard and the house itself in the background…there are a lot of similar architecture and coloring houses up in this area…we saw ones like this over and over.

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We drove up to the summit of Mount Holyoke…not all that tall but it’s about 700 or 800 feet above the river and was quite a twisty, narrow, low clearance, switchback road on the way up…definitely not rig worthy. We saw many hikers trekking up the barely one lane wide road…but instead we “Chose wisely” as the old knight said and drove up.

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Broad Winged Hawk soaring over the countryside below taken from the Summit Inn on Mount Holyoke. Neil didn’t have the bird lens with him…so I cropped this in as best I could.

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Panoramic view of the oxbow bend in the Connecticut River below. For those of you who wonder what an oxbow bend is…rivers in mountains frequently have many S-shaped bends in them that reverse geographic direction over and over. You start with a bend that looks like a sideways U when viewed from overhead with a peninsular like protuberance of land in the interior of the U. Over the centuries…the action of the river gradually thins out the center portion of the land so that it looks like a balloon on a string…and eventually cuts entirely through the peninsula resulting in an island in the river and a new main channel that bypasses the former loop…which is then known as an oxbow as it’s shaped very much like the collar that was used when oxen were hitched up to pull wagons. The new main channel is visible across the center of this shot with the backwater oxbow bend sort of visible in the background. 

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We stopped alongside the dike which protects the town of Travers Falls…

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We saw dozens of these on our drive…we immediately recognized them as tobacco drying barns which was interesting to us for a bunch of reasons. First…we always thought tobacco was a warm weather crop but apparently it was common up here. Due to the mostly dilapidated nature of most of the ones we saw…we thought that they were antique structures that had been converted to other farm uses…storing tractors or grain or the like. The vertical slats on the side are built so that every other one is movable and can be rotated out on it’s vertical axis along one ledge to increase the air flow through the barn throughout the crop’s several months long drying process.

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Turns out…they do still grow the crop up here…another thing we were surprised about as given the downwards trend of both smoking and the tobacco industry over the past 30 years or so we figured that it would not be a common crop. I guess there are still enough smokers to keep the demand up…and the various tobacco companies issue quotas to their farmers that are jealously guarded and passed down generation to generation as it used to be…and probably still is…a pretty decent moneymaker for the growers.

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Another tree in a yard…we pulled into the driveway and grabbed a couple of shots.

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Interesting stuff found on the net.

No officer…why?

NoOfficer Why

Finally…a cause I can get behind.

EarthChocolate

Eden problems.

DirtyLaundry

Cyas.

Posted in RV, Travel | 2 Comments