Wednesday, August 31, 2011

DRV Factory, Howe Indiana

We made our way to the DRV factory in Howe, IN traveling on the Ohio Turnpike, we had a good travel day but ouch when we had to pay getting off the turnpike.  Oh well it is what it is.  We pulled into the factory parking lot, got set up and went to go get something to eat in Michigan.  Yes, the factory is less than a mile from the state line.  So I can say I went to my home state.  We traveled more than 200 miles today so we could make the factory tour tomorrow at 8:30.

We didn't have an appointment for service, didn't really need anything done, just some questions about a few things.  They were very good about talking with us and giving us the materials to address some of our issues so we could fix them ourselves. 

I won't bore you with all the pictures I took during the tour but here are a few:


The factory starts cranking at 6am so there isn't any sleeping in going on here. 

We met some nice folks while we were here and got some good information.  That's what is so cool about talking with new folks and it is a small world.  We met Paul McClellan who was here for service and he mentioned a couple by the name of Dave & Maxine English...hey I know those folks, we camped next to them in Pigeon Forge, TN at the RV Dreams Rally.  Paul was very nice to us and a well of information.  Mark noticed these blocks he had made for the jacks.

Mark made us a set and they are great making set up quicker, Thanks Paul for the idea.

Paul was kind enough to take us with him when he went to Shipshewana which is a nice town about 15 miles away.  It appears to be an upscale Amish/Mennonite area with several businesses run by them. He gave us a tour of where to eat and what to see.  We ate lunch at Wana Cup being several by young Amish girls, the food was tasty.

We went back to Shipshewana the next day and wandered around the delightful town.  It is abit touristy but very nice.  Horse and buggies where everywhere.

There is lots of shopping through out the town making it a nice day trip.  One of the parking areas had this windmill which pumped water into a trough for the horses next to the hitching post and later someone scooped up the poop making it available to who ever wanted it.  I like free but passed on this.

                                                              Look at that happy man.

After checking out the town on foot we ate at The Blue Gate Restaurant & Bakery which Paul recommended.  It was a beautiful place with wonderful landscaping, the flowers were just gorgeous and the food was wholesome home cooking.  Thanks again Paul we had a great time and I suggest checking it out if you are in the area.

If I still owned sticks and bricks I would have this in my front yard.

Carriage rides are available

We made our way back to the caravan and visited with some of our neighbors.

                                                   Home is where the caravan is parked. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Our Time in PA

First let me say that we were following the news of hurricane Irene as it made it's way up the coast, hoping for the best for our family and friends but not missing having to deal with another hurricane.

For the first time since we have been gone we unloaded the garage.  Mark got the bike out and washed it up getting it ready for bike night, Yeah we finally get to ride.  Back in 98 Doug & Patti introduced us to Quaker, Steak and Lube in Sharon PA.  It is a unique restaurant to say the least, there is a semi truck on the roof, cars and motorcycles hang from the ceiling in side with all kinds of memorabilia through out the establishment.  My dad would have loved this place!  We go here anytime we are in town, it is the original Quaker, Steak and Lube.  There are other locations but none compare to this one, they are known for their wings.  Anyway, we met up with Doug and had a wonderful ride to Sharon.  The weather has just been great, low humidity, cool evenings and a welcome change from what we left back home.  It felt so good to be on the bike.

See the semi on the roof

Mark & Doug

Doug, Patti, Gypsy Girl & Mark

Thursday we went to go visit my Aunt June who is 89 and doing great.  She is such a fine lady.  We didn't tell her that we were coming and it was great fun to surprise her.

Friday we went for a ride on the bike into New Wilmington PA, stopped at the Cheese House and picked up some local Amish cheese and popcorn (It is suppose to be hulless and tasty-I will report later on my findings). 

 Just before we walked out of the store I spotted these clocks.  Do any of you remember these, or am I telling my age.  I haven't seen one of these since I was a little girl.  My Aunt Doris had a red one and at the time I thought it was the coolest clock with the eyes and tail moving.

Later that evening we went to Doug & Patti's for a cookout at the cottage by the river.  They own a beautiful place on 150 acres.  When they bought the property there was this cottage by river and it is a wonderful place for gatherings.  It is so tranquil to have a fire going and hear the water rushing by.  Wish we could get the Caravan in there as it would be a perfect place to stay awhile.  Next time we may just have to park the Caravan some where and stay in the cottage.  We promise we will earn our keep.  If there is one thing I can do it is mow grass.  

                                                 Thank you both for a wonderful evening

Saturday we went back to Doug & Patti's.  Patti and I went to the store to do some shopping for the cookout at our place tonight and Doug took Mark out on the 4 wheeler riding through trails and to show him the Gravel/Sand operation that was taking place on their property.
I would liked to have seen it in operation with all the trucks and equipment moving around, it was pretty impressive.  Once Patti & I got back, Mark did some metal detecting around the cottage and Doug then took me out on the 4 wheeler. 

Birds live in these holes on the side of the hills created by the digging.  They have all these beautiful trees to make homes in and pick the side of a sand hill, kind of weird. 

We headed back to the Caravan to prepare for the cookout with the family.  My cousin Bill and his wife Marci picked up June on their way out.  So glad she could make it.

Bill, Marci, Patti, Doug, June & Me.

It was so nice to be able to spend time with my family.  Thank you everyone for making it a memorable visit.

Sunday we loaded everything up and then just relaxed.  I am happy to say that no one back home had any serious damage from Hurricane Irene.  Headed to Howe IN tomorrow to the DRV factory to see how the Caravan was built and have a few minor issues addressed.

                                                                       All is good...


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

KOA Mercer/Grove City, PA

Another good travel day headed to the KOA campground at Mercer, PA.  We choose this campground because it is 5 miles from my cousin Doug & Patti who live in Volant, PA.  Checked in around 2:30 to our large full hookup pull through site that has 3 sewer connections.  It is family owned with friendly staff,  well maintained treed campground with lots of amenities: pool, basketball, disc golf, clubhouse, Wifi, outdoor/indoor exercise area, volleyball, Booce, geocache hunt, horseshoes, playground, fire rings and laundry.  There are permanents in the campground with maintained lots.  It is close to outlet shopping, restaurants and Amish country.  On the weekends there are Amish bake goods at the camp store and a hayride for young and old a like.  The weather is great right now and the rolling hills are beautiful. I rate this one a 4, only thing keeping it from a 5 is the cost and gravel roads.

After we got setup I called Doug to let him know we were there and our site number.  We set up our chairs around the fire ring watching all the motorcycles go by looking forward to actually getting our bike out and doing some riding with Doug.  Well, in comes this Harley that pulls up to our site and it is Doug!  Yeah, we showed him our setup, had beverages, went to dinner and made plans for Bike night the next evening. There is an Amish man that works at the campground and every morning/evening you hear the clickity clack of horse shoes as he comes and goes, which is pretty cool.  I wonder is he wishes he had the gas powered mower that he was riding all day at home, just saying.
                                            I looked forward to being in one place for 6 days.

  Our site is on the main entrance road allowing us to see all the campers coming and going which we enjoy.
                                                                Our picture window

Monday, August 22, 2011

Happy Hills Campground Hancock Maryland

Three states in one day.  Left Charlottesville VA, passed through WV (Hi Julie) and then to Maryland (Hi Kari).  The trip was uneventful and the rolling mountains beautiful.  Hancock is a delightful small town which we drove through on the way to Happy Hills Campground.

This campground is family owned just 5 miles outside of Hancock located on a wooded mountain.  It is well maintained with a camp store, friendly staff, clean laundry facilities, large pool, hiking trails, horse barn with riding trails.  Good size campsites, with full hookups and fire rings.  There a permanents sites as well.  I wouldn't say all sites are level but again you are in the mountains.  We would come back here again as we would like to ride the bike paths in town, kayak and ride the motorcycle through the rolling mountains.  We rate it a 3.
Driving to the campground we notice abandoned orchards with old homes boarded up and no trespassing signs (all of which looked alike) posted everywhere, seemed strange to us.  The road to the campground off the main highway reminds us of a rollacoaster.  We would get up speed and coast all the way.  Anyway, on Monday we went into town to the visitors center and learned some interesting facts. 

One of the major industries for many years was fruit production (apples). In 1886, Edmund P. Cohill began the planting of commercial orchards. Other orchard men followed, and by 1925 over 5,000 acres of land were devoted to commercial fruit production. At one point, Maryland produced over two million bushels of apples.  During its hay day the town was booming.  Migrate works were hired and apples were shipped to far away places like Europe.  Then OSHA stepped in with labor laws making it difficult for the orchard owners and slowly one by one the orchards shut down.  At one point it is said that a German doctor bought the orchards.  The towns people would still pick the fruit to feed their families but the doctor got nervous about liability and had all the trees sprayed so they would quit producing.  The doctor has since died and all land has gone to his estate.  I think it is a very sad story and would have loved to see all the orchards in their prime.

 The C&O Canal reached Hancock in 1839, and the Western Maryland Railroad arrived in 1904. 

The C & O Canal

Mile 124.1

The Western Maryland Rail Trail is a paved 23 mile trail great for biking, roller blading and walking.  You can get to it from the campground or in the heart of town. 

Just 31 miles from Hancock, there is the amazing Paw Paw Tunnel that was built through a mountain to handle the C&O Canal.The Paw Paw Tunnel, at times referred to as one of the "Wonders of the World," is one of the major features of the canal. It was estimated that construction of the 3118' tunnel  would take two years. Instead, it ended up being fourteen years between the onset of construction and the opening of the tunnel to traffic.
Some of the problems faced by the builders of the tunnel were ethnic violence which broke out among the Irish, English and Dutch workers, financial woes, and a general underestimation of the difficulty of the job.
The completed tunnel was only wide enough for one boat to go through at a time. When a boat arrived at a tunnel entrance, a boy would be sent to place a lantern at the other end to signal to oncoming boats that the tunnel was already occupied. Usually this sufficed. However, from time to time boats would meet in the middle and one would have to retreat. On one memorable occasion, the captains of the two boats which met in the middle were particularly stubborn. For days, neither would agree to turn around. Finally the section superintendent of that part of the canal could stand it no longer. He bought all the cornstalks he could and built a roaring fire at the upwind end of the tunnel. Both boats exited very quickly.
You can still walk through the 3,118 foot long tunnel, but we suggest that you not forget to bring a flashlight.  Again, we will check this out on the Harley when we come back.

Headed to Mercer PA to visit my Aunt June and cousins tomorrow.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Charlottesville KOA, VA

It was smooth sailing until we got on 64W about 40 miles from Charlottesville when traffic came to a complete stop.  Luckily there was no bad accident just road work so we made our way to the Charlottesville KOA and got settled in.  Later in the afternoon a rental class B pulled in across from us and we met the nicest 2 Aussie guys that were in the area for a bluegrass/fiddling week.  We got cleaned up and headed to town for some dinner and when we got back to the campground the Aussies had a crowd and they were picking n grinning, we joined in and had a nice evening.
Jerry & Hercules

Friday morning we walked around the campground and were not impressed.  It was run down, pool area was in need of some serious work (they did have a sign up stating that they had plans to renovate soon), laundry facilities were good but you could just tell they haven't done much.  Rating is a 2.  We did buy the KOA card as we were having to stay in them more than we would have like to so we will see if it pays off in the long run.

The reason for our stop in Charlottesville is the fact that we were married here by the Justice of the Peace almost 22 years ago on the 20th of September and wanted to retrace our steps.  We drove by 200 South Street Inn where we stayed.

Once we got downtown we were happy to discovery it was free music concert night.  We bought an over priced beer and join in on the fun.  Back home they had free concerts nights but we never went because we were always working or it was too hot.  Being retired is great!  Anyway, we found this graffiti wall, I thought it was the coolest thing so naturally we had to leave our mark.

We wandered through the streets enjoying the sights. 

 People watching is such a Hoot!  Some people will do anything to get attention.

The Rope Man

Before it got dark we tried to find the court house that we were married at but no such luck, but we did find the restaurant that we ate at.  It was Italian when we were last there and now it is good home cooking and called Henrys.

               It's downstairs and the glass front on the building is new, so we almost didn't recognize it.

It was a pleasant evening so we sat outside, talked to the friendly owner that waited on us, enjoyed a nice meal and people watched. 

On Saturday we had planned to go tubing down the James River but first needed to go to town because my phone had ceased working.  Anyway, we figured we could make the last run down the river but when we got there we were told their schedule had changed and we had a old brochure that we got from the KOA, damn.  Since we were already there we checked it out.  It sure looked like it would have been fun but we will do it somewhere else sometime as we were leaving the next day.  The local sheriff shows up when the sun burnt, drunk floater start to arrive.  If they have a beverage in their hand and step onto land that is a warning, do it again and you are arrested.

The landing point is at the Hatton Ferry and the operator told us all about its history and operation.


Hatton Ferry is a cable ferry located 5.5 miles west of Scottsville, Virginia on the James River. It is the last poled ferry in the United States. The ferry crosses the river upstream of Scottsville between Albemarle County and Buckingham County.
The Hatton ferry is a flat-bottomed boat with its deck only a few inches above the waterline. Two cables are attached to each of the boat's ends and guided by an overhead wire connecting the two river banks about 700 feet away. The cables control the ferry in its passage, allowing the stern to swing downstream while stabilizing the prow.
The boat is caught at an angle by the regular current and floats across the river. As the ferry approaches the riverbank, the ferryman cranks a hand winch to retract the cable at the boat's stern. With a few jabs of the ferryman's pole at the trip's end, the ferry slips onto its landing.
James A. Brown began operating a store and ferry at this site in the late 1870s. A few years later, he bought the land and the store became a stop on the Richmond and Allegheny Railroad which was built along the towpath of the James River and Kanawha Canal in the 1880s.
In 1914, James B. Tindall purchased the store, ferry, and ferry rights. He operated the ferry until 1940 when it was taken over by the Virginia Department of Highways. A new ferry was built by the Virginia Department of Transportation, and it was rededicated in September 1973.

Since we couldn't going tubing we returned to the caravan and took our cooler to the pool.

Our campsite
Our every changing Picture Window.

Leaving tomorrow headed to Maryland.