Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sioux Falls

We're in South Dakota. The drive here from Rochester was 230 miles of farm land and wind turbines generating electricity. We got off to a late start (reason is below) and stopped for lunch at an Applebee's about 20 miles from Rochester. We waited and waited for our food, and Penny politely asked about the delay. The waitress told us that they were a server short today because the family of the additional server who was supposed to be there was the family that was wiped out in that car wreck I mentioned earlier. Wow. Talk about small town America. When the waitress gave me the check I saw it was for just $10. I said it couldn't be correct, but she said the manager discounted it by 50% because of the delay. We're a long way from NJ and PA.

More problems with the trailer this morning. The landing gear legs wouldn't extend again. We found a nearby RV technician with a mobile repair shop and he came to the rescue...sort of. He got the gear to work, but not exactly the way it should. He said we needed to replace the gear box that transmits energy from the electric motor to the legs, but he had never seen our brand of landing gear, and didn't have the part. So we decided to push on. When we arrived at the campground in Sioux Falls, we found it was next door to a big RV dealer, so we went there to see if the could fix it. They never heard of that brand either. So we'll continue on. Hopefully, we'll be able to get it fixed before it quits entirely.

Sioux Falls actually has a waterfall, so we'll take in the local sites tomorrow.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

Not wanting to be on the road during the holiday weekend, we're spending the time in Rochester, MN, home of the Mayo Clinic. (And for MCMers, I didn't look up Dr. Tang.) It's pretty amazing that one of the world's best hospitals is located in a small town of about 68,000. Not much for tourists to see here, so Saturday we drove 78 miles north to Minneapolis and the Mall of America, now the second largest mall in the country since the two in King of Prussia, PA joined up. We walked the complete circuit on all three levels and didn't buy anything.

We decided to go to a small town to see a Memorial Day Parade, so this morning we went to Eyota, MN (pop. 2800) to see their parade. The Dover-Eyota Senior High School Band followed an American Legion color guard a few blocks to the high school for an indoor ceremony. Not much of a parade, but I find Memorial Day rememberences moving regardless of where they are held.

Even small-town America has the kind of problems found in more densely populated areas. Saturday afternoon a drunk driver tee-boned a van loaded with six local folks and visitors about a mile east of Eyota. Four dead, two hospitalized. And of course, the drunk wasn't hurt.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Here's what you've been waiting for. Some photos of Wisconsin Dells. Interesting rocks, and interesting restaurant advertising. However, not anatomically correct.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tee Shirt Shops and Waterworks

We're spending a few nights in Wisconsin Dells, WI, after a drive through the flatlands of Ohio and Illinois. The Dells are part of the Wisconsin River. Very scenic rock formations which we viewed from a 2-hour boat ride and a couple of short hikes. The formations are in a very soft sandstone and caused by erosion by both wind and water. More sightseeing tomorrow.

The Dells also have some man-made attractions -- mainly giant water parks and theme parks. It's a major tourist destination in the midwest, which means we'll be leaving here before the holiday weekend. Wisconsin Dells Main Street looks like a cross between the Jersey Shore and New Hope, not that there's anything wrong with that. I'll probably post some pics of the nice part of the Dells before too long.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Sandusky has a neat Merry-Go-Round Museum complete with an antique Merry-Go-Round providing rides for children of all ages.

The place is run by volunteers including wood carvers who restore and build Merry-Go-Round horses and menagerie animals.

The cats seem to be adjusting to life on the road. We tried traveling with them loose in the trailer and not in the cage, and they seem slightly happier with this arrangement. They did, however, remain hidden for a few hours after we set up camp. Comet's favorite place seems to be behind the TV set.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Yesterday we visited the country estate of Mr. Seiberling, a founder of the Goodyear tire company. Great big Tudor mansion in Akron. Interesting tour. Departed Streetsville this morning, but the departure was not uneventful. That problem with the landing gear returned and it looked like a big problem for a while. I jiggled some wires and got the gear to retract.

We traveled 75 miles west to Sandusky, OH, a depressed industrial town, but one that seems to have some pride. There's a big amusement park here called Cedar Creek. Once again, the landing gear stopped working. This time I think I fixed the problem for good. There seemed to a loose connection in one of the wires. I tightened it up good and replaced the wire nut. So far it seems okay.

One never knows where one will find true inspiration. This afternoon we stopped at a Croger's Supermarket in Sandusky. While there we noticed a couple, about our age. He was an apparent quadrapalegic, in a motorized wheelchair controlled by mouth. She was fully able. Penny and I both noticed that, although she did the shopping, she consulted him on the purchases. They seemed happy. We returned to the campground, and moments later the same couple pulled up in the campsite next to us. They are doing pretty much what we're doing, except they are in a Winnebago motor home equipped with a wheelchair lift. They are towing a small van equipped with a wheelchair ramp. They are travelling with two dogs. She does the driving, and, one would imagine, everthing else, including all of his personal care. Hopefully we'll have a chance to chat with them in the morning. However, it looks like they may be preparing to leave early.

See what I mean about finding inspiration?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Finally left the dealer at around 1pm. The slide is as good as new, and my $500 estimate was accurate. We’re spending the night at Wolf’s Campground in Knox, PA. The drive here was uneventful. Tomorrow we head for Streetsville, OH, and some neat parks in the area.


Streetsville is midway between Akron and Cleveland, but there are trees and grass here. On the way we passed a huge GM plant that is in the process of closing down. Nice campground here. The cats are not happy campers. Ginny hides under the bed after we release them from their traveling cage and Comet either hides under a pillow or behind the TV. We're staying here a couple of days to see the local Cuyahoga Valley National Park. That's right, there's a National Park in Ohio.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Best Laid Plans...

Well, the adventure did begin today, but it wasn't exactly the adventure we were hoping for. I really didn't think I'd have much to write about on the first day, but boy was I wrong.

We spent most of the weekend loading the trailer. Then this morning, all set to go, I started to hitch the trailer to the truck. Oh oh, the landing gear, which are the motor-operated front legs on the trailer which raise and lower it so it can be hitched and unhitched, didn't move. The fuse box on the trailer is conveniently located in a place that requires the slides to be out and a heavy chair to be moved to gain access. I slid and moved, and checked the fuses, but they were all okay. Double uh oh.

Next, I placed a call to the dealer in Shoemakersville, PA, which is about 80 miles from here. The service manager said he wasn't sure where it was, but there was certainly a fuse, not in the fuse box, but somewhere near the motor that raises the landing gear. So Penny and I started tracing wires from the motor and finally found a fuse holder a couple of feet from the motor. As a former boy scout, I am well-prepared for most emergencies, so I retrieved my fuse kit, but lo and behold, the fuse that needed replacing isn't a standard size automotive fuse like the others on the trailer. So, I hopped in the car and went to the closest auto parts store...about 6 miles away. Now I know a lot of restaurants close on Mondays, but auto parts stores? Yep, this one did. So I then drove 12 miles in the opposite direction to another store. They had the correct fuse. Yay!

Back home I installed the fuse and the landing gear worked. We'd be leaving a couple of hours late, but still in plenty of time to reach our first stop in western PA. I closed up the fuse box, moved the big chair back into position, and pressed the button to slide the slides back in. As the living room slide slid, it apparently hung up on something, splitting some decorative trim, damaging some other pieces, popping some nails, and sounding like something was definitely amiss. I slid it back out and looked around for obstructions. Nothing. I slide it back in, more damage. Triple uh oh.

Another call to the dealer. "Gotta bring the trailer in so we can see it." At this point we didn't know if it could be fixed right away or if they would need to keep it for a day or more, so we really couldn't go out there with the cats not knowing where we would be spending the night. We decided to delay our departure, bring the trailer out there, and leave it until it was fixed. So, we're home and the trailer is in Shoemakersville. The technician said the roof of the living room slide apparently bowed, causing it to hang up on the body of the trailer when it was slid in. He couldn't say why, other than that things in trailers can move around and break due to the bouncing caused by bad roads, and we've certainly driven on some of those.

The trailer will be ready tomorrow, so we'll pack up the cats in the truck, and since the dealer is 80 miles west, we'll start our real adventure from there, just a day late.

Oh, and the repair probably isn't covered by my service contract since the damage was probably caused by wear and tear, and I'm estimating at least $500. Plus an extra 160 mile round trip. so, the great adventure begins somewhat inauspiciously.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Getting Close