Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend - Part II

For the start of this article, please see Part I from one week ago.


When we drove into the campground that first night, every site was in use. We drove slowly down the lane to get to our lane and passed campfire after campfire, with large groups of people looking up as we slowly passed and watching us go by. Meryl told me that she was reminded of new people arriving at an "Okie" camp in the 1930's in California in the Depression. Now how would Meryl know what this would be like to be reminded of such - well, it is well depicted in the movie, The Grapes of Wrath. This is the story of a family from Oklahoma who lose everything and move to California to live in a migrant farm workers camp - called "Okie camps" - and try to get work day to day. The scene driving through was just like that - though, of course, there were no run down cars or tents that people were living in, but very nice trailers and RVs - but the people outside - well, the image came to my mind as well - and did so every night that we drove back in. "Look, Joe, there is another family coming in..."

When we got to our space in addition to finding the guy's wire still plugged into our electric box, our neighbor in the other half of the T space had arrived during the day. I had been apprehensive all day about what would be in that side of the site. The problems with these T spaces are that a large trailer or RV on one side does not allow much room to get in and out on the other side. The bigger problem is that if there is a car in addition to the trailer or RV they are often parked in the entrance to the site - the shared entrance - and this makes it very difficult to get in and out. There was a small Class A RV on that side and they did have a small car that they towed behind their RV. (This in the vernacular is called a "toad" - a car towed behind an RV.) They parked the car well within their space and I was relieved that there would be no problem for us to get in or out. I was concerned about what could happen when he was leaving with his RV at the end of the weekend, because his side of the T required that he pull in forward so that his hookups were on the side of the utilities - which means to leave he has to back up this large Class A (think bus). On our half of the T we had to back in to have the utilities on the correct side of the Roadtrek. As it turned out - to jump to the end - we left on Monday before he did, so there was no problem at all.

Our site in the campground was at one of the far ends of the campground. Wifi service was present there but it was intermittent, especially on my little wifi tablet. It did make a connection and held it for awhile but suddenly the signal would drop. This did cause a problem as I was writing while we were in the Roadtrek at night and I was finished with an article and needed to make sure it was saved on its website site - and suddenly - no signal. The article was still there on the screen but there was no connection. Now, like Robin Williams in the movie, RV, I went out looking for a signal so that I could send my article to save it. I walked around with the tablet looking for the signal strength to increase and was all the way to the campground office before I found a strong signal that I could trust. I clicked send and my article was saved. (After this I started writing off the website, so that I could save my work locally on the tablet - even with that I lost an entire article when it said it had saved it, and when I went looking for it later it was gone. That was an hour and a half of work gone. Wifi at Old Mill Stream Campground is usually good and we have been at the other end of the campground more than once and had good wifi. One thing about these tablets is that they do not pull in a wifi signal as strongly as a laptop does.

Our trips seem to bring unique weather, and this trip was no exception. There was record breaking heat in Pennsylvania over Memorial Day weekend - temperatures climbed into the 90's. We were comfortable inside our Roadtrek with the air conditioner running, but outside it was hot. I had not anticipated temperatures like this and had not brought light weight, short sleeve shirts. On Memorial Day, itself, the temperatures got even higher and I borrowed one of Meryl's T-shirts. It was better that than to pass out.

So what did we do on our weekend in Pennsylvania. For us it was the usual things that we like to do when we go to Lancaster. Fridays are spent at the Green Dragon Farmers Market which I have written about before.

Saturday with the Memorial Day weekend in full swing, the weather hot but beautiful, there were a lot of cars on the main roads of Lancaster County. I have not seen cars bumper to bumper here in a very long time and this Saturday we were sitting in traffic on Route 340 which is one of the main east west routes through the tourist areas. I took a photo out of the front window of the Roadtrek sitting in traffic.

Saturdays include a visit to Kitchen Kettle which I wrote about last July. The Bird in Hand Farmers Market is also open on Saturdays and we did go there. This is a one building farmers market and is made up of more souvenir stands than actual farm stands, but there are two meat/butcher counters and two bake shop counters inside. While there we decided to have our first real meal in the Roadtrek.

When we travel we eat our meals out. We have not really used the kitchen facilities in the Roadtrek for anything other than late night snacks. While we were walking around the stands inside the Bird-in-Hand Farmers Market I had the idea that we should stop at one of the meat counters, buy cold cuts and rolls and make lunch in the Roadtrek. we bought smoked ham and turkey and went out to the Roadtrek. I went inside right away and started the generator and turned on the air conditioner. It started to cool down inside quickly - thank goodness. We opened the fold out table in the front of the Roadtrek and and turned the front seats around. Meryl got out plates, cups, and napkins and opened the refrigerator and took out ice cold soda. We made sandwiches and sat down in our comfortable kitchenette and had lunch. Just one of the perks of owning a Roadtrek!

As I said, Bird-in-Hand Farmers Market is a small, one building farmers market nothing like the large farmers markets like Roots or Green Dragon but it is a fun stop in the middle of Lancaster County and it is open, depending on the season, on Saturdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays - some of these days are dropped off season. It is open until 5:30 pm.

On that same Saturday, while we were at Kitchen Kettle in Intercourse, PA. we walked a short way down Route 340 to a small fabric shop that at one time was an Amish owned business, but has since been sold - but remains run by Amish women. The name of the shop is Zook Fabrics. Now why would I recommend coming here - for one thing you will be in here with the Amish and in the back of the fabric shop is another shop in the same building that is a store run by the Amish for the Amish. This is one of the several shops that sell the things that the Amish use day to day - including some clothing. Where do Amish women get their caps - this is one place. Where do Amish men get their straw hats - that are not anything like the ones sold for tourists - this is one place. Of course, you do not go in here to gawk and you remain respectful and polite - these people are not here on exhibit for your entertainment. It is a chance though to see a private side of the Amish that is not in the tour books. And if you sew, Zook Fabrics has a nice assortment of fabrics. They also sell fabrics that the Amish use to make their clothing - but there are many, many bolts of regular fabrics - as the Amish would say - "for the English". You and me - we are the English - even if you have no family roots to England.

Not long ago - just a few years back, before this store was taken over by the new owner, the lighting in the store was done by skylights and gas lamps - no electricity. They did use an electrically run cash register which may have been run off a generator. It was surprisingly bright and you really had to look to see that what looked like fluorescent fixtures in the ceiling were actually sky lights. And you could hear the hiss of the gas with their mantle aflame as you walked under the gas lamps. The atmosphere inside the store now is the same - but the lighting has changed and is now electric.

Sundays in Lancaster - everything is closed! Yes, just about anything local is closed in respect for the deep religious beliefs of the Amish and Mennonites. The outlet malls are open. There are chain restaurants open along with a very few local restaurants that cater almost exclusively to the tourists - and that I tend to avoid. There are a few tourist attractions open such as the Strasburg Railroad and the Pennsylvania Railroad Musuem. I have spent many Sundays in Lancaster - but essentially this is a wasted day. What you can do is drive the countryside and you will see Amish in their buggies riding along the road and take in the beauty of this area and the land that has managed to remain preserved and in the hands of those who live a plain and simpler life. This is how we tend to spend Sundays in Lancaster - and it is doable with the Roadtrek - though more of a challenge as I have written about in the past - to pass these horse and buggies safely on the road.

Memorial Day Monday is a mix of people leaving for home and people traveling around the sites. We were headed for home that night. When we go up that morning we dumped the black and grey tanks and then flushed the black tank with water - a good practice each time you dump. I will write about the process of dumping the tanks in an article that will appear soon. We spent a leisurely day driving around the farms and going into shops. One thing to be aware of, about Memorial Day Monday is that in this area some stores and some restaurants close. Not all, but some. This is particular to Memorial Day and this does not happen July 4th or other non-religious holidays. If you are planning a meal in a restaurant in Lancaster on Memorial Day check in advance to be sure it will be open. Many are only open to the early afternoon and then close.

So - some of you who have been reading this site all along must be wondering what went wrong with the Roadtrek this trip. It is not every trip that something happens but it has happened - and this trip we discovered that some type of particles or grit is coming through the plumbing and into the toilet water - and in the sink - though what is in the sink are much smaller sand like particles. I have no idea where these are from. They could be sediment in the water tank, but there is a screen filter on the water lines and particles this size should be caught in that screen. (I checked the screen and they are not in there.) I do know that sediment collects in the hot water tank and when we got home I flushed that tank and did find a great deal of large flakes and pieces of sediment get washed out. BUT this is the hot water tank, and the toilet water is on the line of the cold water pipes. Another mystery that we are bringing to dealer-service. We collected pieces of the grit - yes, hand into the toilet bowl to fish it out - and they are coming to service for inspection.

We had a good time and that is what is important. So if you want to travel in your Roadtrek or any RV for Memorial Day weekend you will need reservations a year in advance - no matter where you are planning to go. When we checked in at the campground we were asked if we want to reserve for next year. Silly me said no, not yet. We may be calling and reserving a spot now for next year, if we have the option to cancel a few weeks or a month before - so maybe we can get a regular spot and not a T-space.


  1. Hi, folks! we have spent a lot of time in Lancaster County, usually at the end of April. We stay at Country Haven CG - the best views in the entire County, very quiet, and spacious sites. Not the zoo that Rt 30 can be. We second most of your observations and reccos. Hope you have been to the Shady Maple! Steve & Bev; 2005 210P