Wednesday, August 28, 2013


 TRIP DAY 5 Saturday (Last Day and The Trip Home) - CONTINUED:

 We went back to the Bird In Hand Farmers Market and to the antique shop across the road. When I first had come to this area and when Meryl and I had first come together, this antique shop then was not an antique shop but a large gift shop with a variety of local items. Walking through now, for us, is a pleasant reminiscence of our times gone by. 

At one of the Bird-in-Hand Farmer's Market's meat stalls, we bought sliced meat and two rolls to make our own lunch in the Roadtrek. We went back to the Roadtrek and, as we had at Green Dragon, ran the generator and turned on the air conditioner. Waiting for the generator to run about two minutes before starting the air conditioner so that the generator would come up to full power to start the compressor in the A/C seemed like a very long and very hot two minute wait.  Again, the passenger seat was swiveled around and the front table was swung out of the cabinet. Cold soda was brought out of the refrigerator and we made our sandwiches and ate in cool comfort. I sit on the third seat while Meryl sits on the passenger seat. 

As with any good story, in the end all gets revealed, and we were about to have one such revelation. When we were finishing lunch glancing over at the refrigerator the door was sitting at an odd angle. I looked more closely and the door was sitting below the latch at the top. I opened the fridge held on the the vacuum seal of the rubber gasket around the door, and the door came down off my hand. I grabbed it and it came completely off. There was no longer a pin coming up from the bottom hinge. The pin which screws up into the bracket was sitting below on the floor. Meryl grabbed everything out of the door - this was several juice bottles, cans, etc.that were weighting it down.

Getting the door back on meant catching the top of the door in the top hinge pin and then moving the bottom into place on the hinge bracket and getting the pin up and into just the right place that could not be seen on the door. We tried over and over again – each of us with no success. I finally managed to get the door in just the right position and found my way to the floor hoping that I was able to do this quickly and just by chance got the door and the pin lined up. Any tools that I had to tighten this pin were in the rear storage compartment accessed from outside the Roadtrek so I just got the pin tight by hand. Note – get a small socket set to keep inside.

We had changed the direction of the refrigerator door a year ago and with all of the shaking and vibration that goes on with the Roadtrek when traveling on bumpy roads, screws – especially screws in metal – tend to come loose. This one must have been working its way out for awhile and now we knew why what had taken place on this trip with the refrigerator was happening. Going all the way back to the first day when the fridge door swung open on the highway – the door that Meryl was sure she secured and now we knew, had secured. Add to this the inconsistent temperatures inside the fridge and it all came clear. Following this quick, though unexpected repair, the refrigerator kept perfect temperature inside for the rest of the day and night – and during the day the inside of the Roadtrek rose to 109 F after a half hour stop and parked in not direct sun. 

Well, that was enough excitement for one day. The afternoon continued on with just pleasant touring of the countryside that did include a not so wise turn onto a road that went up into the hills and things got very steep and narrow going up and down the roads to get back to somewhat level ground. 

After dinner we did turn down one road that lead us into the farmlands in the direction of the entrance to the turnpike. As long as it remains light out, these two lane (one in each direction) farm roads that twist and turn and go up and down the rolling hills are fine. In the dark they can be a little challenging. There were at least a hour or more of daylight so that was no problem. What we did encounter were horse and buggies, a lot of them as we drove along – and always at the bottom of an incline up a hill with no visibility of oncoming traffic. As always, we just rolled slowly behind them until we could see what might be coming over the hill and then put the gas peddle down to the floor while moving into the oncoming lane and passed around them. The big challenge today was when there were two following each other in these same circumstances.  That pass was a little too close and I just made it around the buggy in the lead when an SUV came up from the opposite direction going at speed. The Roadtrek takes a lot of judgment when passing buggies.

Before we got on the turnpike we stopped at a Walmart store to pick up some groceries for home. From the parking lot as we were leaving we got to see a pretty impressive fireworks show that was taking place at a park nearby. We watched briefly and we started for home. According to the GPS we would be home just after 1 am.

The PA Turnpike is part under construction and part in need of construction and when the road is uneven with rises in the pavement where patches have been made, the suspension in the Roadtrek reacts to them. When these patches are spaced fairly evenly apart the result at highway speed is something know in RV circles as porpoising – an up and down motion of the entire van much like the motion of a bucking bronco – or the motion of a porpoise jumping out and into the water as it swims along. The one place that I have experienced this most in the Roadtrek is on one section on the eastbound side of the PA Turnpike somewhere between Lancaster and Philadelphia. It is not a comfortable way to ride and the only way to stop it is to slow down to the point that the bumps or patches are driven over in a longer interval between. This is fine if you are alone in the road but if you have to keep up with traffic you can’t do this. And this is not something that is felt in a shorter and lighter vehicle, so in a car you would never know about this. We came to that stretch of road and I slowed as much as I could until we passed it by. As you go along through this, you want to yell, “Ride ‘em, cowboy!”

The trip through Pennsylvania into New Jersey was rather relaxing. I connected our MP3 player to the Eclipse radio though the Dock Boss and put on a recording of a radio broadcast from the 40’s – Command Performance which was a weekly show of stars performing for the troops who were fighting in World War II. This show was broadcast every week until the war ended – and while it is 60 years old, it is funny and has great music. The ride in the dark was quite enjoyable. Once we got to New Jersey, the turnpike the construction – an expansion of truck and car only lanes throughout the length of the turnpike – and the changes in traffic flow - were slowing down the Saturday night traffic and the road was congested. Things did not get heavilycongested until we reached New York. And here the road surfaces become particularly bad.

While on the entrance ramp to a route on Staten Island we hit a bump and heard a lot of clanging inside the Roadtrek behind us. Meryl looked back and saw the kitchen draw had opened. There was no place to pull over in Staten Island and we had to go into the streets in Brooklyn anyway to get from one route to the next so we waited and drove with the contents of the draw banging inside. I stopped along a street in Brooklyn near the VA Hospital so that Meryl could go back and close the draw. I grew up, until I was 7, not too far from here and I still remember the roads through here and this was a fairly safe place to stop – though that has been more than 50 years ago and lots has changed. 

During our first year with the Roadtrek we had a lot of trouble keeping the kitchen drawer closed as we drove. We tried various things to keep it closed including two suction cups that stuck to the counter with a cord from one to the other that went around the drawer knob. This actually did keep the drawer closed but this was a pain to put on and off and there had to be something better. Service tightened the latch but it would still open – that is until we received the cutting board that sits on the top of this drawer inside. This had been missing when we got our Roadtrek and service got us one from the factory. After that went in, the draw stayed closed.  We have not had a problem with that drawer opening while driving until this trip – but there were some wide curves and a lot of bumpy roads. Perhaps we will get out the suction cups and cord and keep it ready if we find the drawer is now opening regularly again as we drive.

On a Saturday night after midnight, one might think a road would be fairly light in traffic, but not around New York City on the limited access roads. Here the roads can be as congested as during rush hour with no reasons for a slow down other than the number of cars.  And traffic can stop just to look at two cars pulled over to the side of the road – no accident – just parked there – and this happened going through Brooklyn where we sat bumper to bumper slowly rolling until we passed these parked cars and then the road opened right up again. Everyone has to slow down to look - the "rubberneckers". The other thing that happens on NY roads at night are the test runs for the big car race at Monte Carlo. That is what it must be for two, three, and more cars to be racing each other while weaving through traffic. The speed limit in NY is a maximum of 55 and within NYC bounds on limited access roads no more than 50, but most look upon that is a suggested speed and add 25 to 30 mph to that – and the cars that are racing swish by so fast that they must be doing twice that. We got to see several races including one with motorcycles on this drive home. The drive home took a lot of concentration and I turned off the MP3 player once in NY to attend to the traffic.

We arrived home well after 1:30 am. Now we started on the unpacking of the Roadtrek. The refrigerator had to be emptied. Everything that we brought in that belonged back in the house had to come out. Meryl stays inside the Roadtrek, puts the next item or items that need to come out on the third seat, and I run back and forth from the Roadtrek to the house carrying it all in. Unpacking the Roadtrek takes a lot less time than packing it for a trip. We were done in about a half an hour. The refrigerator is turned off and we double check that the battery switch is turned off.

Thus in so many days and parts over 8 weeks has been our trip told with all of the non-interesting details. But as I suggested in the beginning things might happen that need to be dealt with and they did. Perhaps on your next trip you will benefit from something that we experience on this trip. The bottom line is that we had a good time – and I regretted being home. I am not fond of NY and we always have the same argument when we get home – due to my frustrations with NY that I vocalize when we come back to NY from a trip – that we will just move to another state. This is easier said than done for various reasons for the two of us.

Oh yes, way back at the beginning, I said that this article was being written in a different way. And it was – or at least much of it was. Just before this trip I got an Android tablet – but not just a tablet but a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 that has handwriting recognition. One reason for getting it was to make writing these articles, among other things easier. With this tablet you handwrite either in cursive or printing and the handwriting is recognized and turned into text – which it does very well. It recognizes my combination of styles of writing and with a little more practice I believe it will smoothly flow my writing into text without the need for edits. The one thing I realized while doing this – right from the first night of writing this article in this manner is that I have not written much by hand in many years. I have been typing what I write for a very long time – way back to typewriters and then to PC keyboards. So handwriting does not come easily to my flow of thought. Despite that the tablet worked well,  to get a lot down quickly, I did use a Bluetooth keyboard that I keep in the Roadtrek to type parts of the article with. I do recommend the Note 10.1. The handwriting feature is a great thing to use for a fast note, using the internet, or posting on a forum or Facebook.

So that is the trip complete – all revealed – and now we wait until the next trip which is not too far off in the future! (Though we you are reading this final part has long taken place...) Thank you all for bearing with this experiment and I hope it brings some benefit to you.

The End... Until the next time.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


TRIP DAY 5 Saturday (Last Day and The Trip Home):

It was hot and very humid this morning. We started to prepare to dump the waste tanks – black and grey. The monitor was showing the black tank full but it has been showing full on the monitor panel since the day we arrived and started using the toilet. The black tank had a gallon of water in it before we started the trip. The grey tank had just started showing 2/3 full on the monitor panel. Our grey tank monitor is pretty close to accurate. The black tank is way off and generally shows 2/3 or full.  It is important to have at least 2/3 of the black tank full before dumping and I use the shower hose to put water down the toilet to be sure the tank is at 2/3. The tank was actually near full as it only took one gallon of water before the water rose up from the tank and into the pipe which is visible with a flashlight pointed down into the toilet with the flap open.  We were now ready to go outside and dump the tanks. Meryl is the one who holds the hose into the sewer opening as I cannot bend down to do that. She took a pair of vinyl gloves with her. We keep a box of gloves in the Roadtrek just for this purpose.

We were also going to refill the front fresh water tank so that we would have water if we needed during this last day and for the trip home. There is no sense in having a bathroom that travels with you if there is no water to use it. Meryl took a small spray bottle that we keep inside and filled it with half bleach and half water. This is really a very small spray bottle – it maybe holds two ounces total.  The bleach and water is to spray on the water spigot on our campground site to sanitize it before we connect our fresh water hose to it.

We left the A/C on inside – we were still hooked up to shore power as we were going to need some relief from the heat when we were finished. Outside Meryl pulled the macerator hose out of the compartment fully to get ready to dump. She opened the sewer cap which was just sitting in the pipe that was coming up from the ground and she pulled the black handle out. I pushed the button under the driver’s seat from the open driver’s door. Note – when the seat is not swiveled facing forward forward and is still in lounge position, there is a lot of grease under there so don’t touch the base of the seat swivel or you will get black grease on your hands as I did. (The grease is supposed to be there to keep the seat turning smoothly.) The black tank emptied quickly. There is no evidence of any solid waste that comes out or toilet paper. Everything that comes out had turned to liquid which is the job of the waste chemical. (Not so pleasant to think about but the system really does work as it is supposed to – and we do not hesitate to put toilet paper down into the tank – we shall talk about that idea at another time.) When the liquid that is flowing starts to sputter and little liquid is coming out you have reached the time to stop and then we pushed the black tank valve handle back in and pulled the grey handle out. Back to the button and the water ran clear with some evidence of the soap that we had been using when washing.  Both tanks were empty in less than ten minutes – maybe even less, I did not time it.

We went over to the campground restrooms to wash so that we were clean to fill the front fresh water tank. This could have been done first but for some reason it is just easier to dump the tanks and then get to this after. The water spigot got sprayed with the bleach mixture and we then connected a four foot hose and a ten foot hose with our water filter in between. As I had noted in the preparation for the trip, by turning the water spigot on just an 1/8 of a turn, the water will flow enough to fill the tank through the doors but not so fast that it causes any back up or air bubbles. The water tank filled with no problem.

I pulled my banner stand out of the ground and that and the banner was put away on the floor of the rear under-bed storage compartment through the rear doors. The next step is usually to pick up the leveling markers but as they were stolen that did not need to happen. I also made a visual check that the roof antenna was down.It had been up the night before and I put it down before going to bed.

It was nice and cool inside the Roadtrek. I put four ounces of tank chemical into the toilet, followed that with one cap of Calgon and two caps of detergent and a gallon of water. (A gallon of water is approximately the level of the toilet’s ledge where the water comes out.) All of these additives are kept in the storage in the third seat. While it was opened we noticed that it was wet at the bottom. The measuring cup that I use to measure mineral oil for tank seal lube had dripped out of the plastic bag i was wrapped in. Evidently, I had not wiped it down enough – perhaps I had and the intense heat inside has cause residual oil to run off. That got mopped up and that measuring cup is now stored in a ziplock bag.

We then started to go through the departure checklist and a visual inspection of the campsite just to make sure that everything that should be inside was inside and coming home with us. All was ready to go, but before we drove off, we went to the campground store with the burnt out light bulb to see if they had a replacement. There was a section with different types of RV bulbs but none looked like this. The woman at the counter said that the bulb we had was a “special’ bulb. Well, the Roadtrek is special so naturally it would have a special bulb… Needless to say, they did not have the bulb or any "special" bulbs. I asked if there was an RV accessories shop in Lancaster. There were two general RV service centers but not near by. She gave us the names and addresses for both but looking at where they were located we decided that we would not spend the last day of our vacation trip driving to one to replace a light bulb. What we still had no bulb number and could only show the burnt out bulb in hope that someone would recognize it to sell us a replacement, so we could not even call ahead to find out if either had the bulb. 

We left the campground to spend a, last for now, pleasant day. Our last day in this area is generally going back to the places we enjoy most (that are open on that day) and just leisurely spend the day, have dinner, and then drive home. By leaving late and traveling home at night, we avoid traffic and have a full day for fun.



Wednesday, August 14, 2013


TRIP DAY 4 Friday (Last Night):

When we got up this morning it was hot and sunny. First thing this morning, getting outside, Meryl went to ask at the office for our missing reflectors. The office did not have them. Someone has taken them. Sad, that in a private commercial campground some people cannot respect property that they may come across in someone's site - no  matter how innocuous that thing may be. There were six reflectors and they are all gone. There will be some type of sign made before our next trip - either Meryl will embroider a banner or I will make a laminated sign that will get posted. "JUST OUT FOR THE DAY. BACK TONIGHT. Please do not touch or move anything on this site.”  I will stick to this polite version because what I am thinking can’t go on a sign in a public place.

We spent the day at the Green Dragon Farmer's Market which is only open on Fridays. I will be writing an article just about this market. The market was crowded and the parking lots were near full. The guy directing traffic in the parking lot looked at the Roadtrek and wisely directed us where I had intended to head to park on my own - in the far end of the field - parking here is on grass and semi-gravel fields. We did not go as far as where there were other RVs parked but we went into an open area and parked where the Roadtrek could take up two spaces back to front. It was a long walk from there to the extensive market grounds. 

When it was time for lunch we bought sandwiches at one of the many food counters and went back to the Roadtrek, started the generator, and turned on the air conditioner. We had lunch in cool comfort!  There were a few things that I came to the market to find but only found a few of the things I was looking for. I did find a book at the used bookstall of the musical play "1776" which is a favorite of ours - how interesting to have found this on the fifth of July!  We spent most of the day at the market.

After Green Dragon we went over to some of the outlet stores that have been in this area long before outlet stores became so popular just about everywhere you go now. Nothing on the "check for in PA list" was found.

The refrigerator was still inconsistent and we are putting it down to the intense heat both outside and inside the Roadtrek when the Roadtrek sits parked in the sun.

I had intended to buy gas last night but didn't. Gas actually went down in price here by two cents on the Fourth of July. I looked at the gauge this afternoon and the tank was close to only a quarter full - that meant a shocking total on the pump. It was not so bad  but still just under $70.

When we got back to the campground at night, the people in the trailer next to us were out with a campfire, two picnic tables, and six children running around - unsupervised. There was a scooter on the edge of the grass into our site and I did not say anything and maneuvered backing into the site without running it over. Once we finally got into the site, one of the younger kids came over to move it a couple of feet off our site. 

The pleasant view of our neighbor's clutter - and I leave for the day and my things are taken!!!

We hooked up and went inside. Turning on the two front dome lights that light the front seating "lounge" area, we found that one of the bulbs was burned out. It surprised me that these bulbs that are barely used would burn out in two years.  I know how to remove the fluorescent ceiling fixture covers but I have no ideas how to remove the dooms off of these lights to get to the bulb.  I also have no idea what size bulbs these fixtures take but I know that the bulbs can only be purchased in an RV store- of which there is a lack near home. I went on the Roadtrek Facebook group and asked the group how to remove the dome cover to replace the bulb. At the moment I am waiting and hoping for a reply. There may be a few places that I could look around here before we head back home tomorrow night starting with the campground store.

The odor is evident from the toilet again tonight. Tomorrow is our last day and the tanks will be dumped as planned in the morning. The popcorn odor seems to have dissipated today. 


Wednesday, August 7, 2013


TRIP DAY 3 Thursday - the Fourth of July:

The day started sunny with a few clouds remaining. The day remained sunny and hot. Humidity was also high but there was a slight breeze that made being outside all day tolerable. We left the campground and headed for the Kutztown Folklife Festival, the annual event that I have been attending for almost 50 years.

Kutztown is about 90 miles from Lancaster between Reading and Allentown. Most of you know Reading from the railroad in the game, Monopoly and Allentown from the song by Billy Joel. The trip used to take a couple of hours but now there are limited access roads that will take you from Lancaster to Kutztown in about an hour without having to drive on a local road until you are 8 miles outside of Kutztown. 

Quilt in the quilt competition. Even if you don't like quilts - THIS is the ONLY building that is air conditioned at the Festival.

When we arrived the parking lot was fuller than we have seen it in a number of years. They were directing traffic up a hill and onto a field of grass. I saw an opportunity to pull into the asphalt paved parking lot and found a space in the far corner near a Class A and a Class C. Our Roadtrek fit nicely into one of the few remaining regular spaces. 

Taken when we were leaving  - the C is still there. The A is gone.

The day was great - though hot and sweaty. We had a great time and found a gift for my niece’s christening next week at which I will be Godfather. It has been hard figuring out what to get that will have some meaning and perhaps even still be around when she is grown. We found a craftsman there with what seems to be just what we were looking for. This always has been and still is a great place to spend the Fourth of July!

Only part of the Festival is visible in this distance photo taken at the end of the day.

We left the festival late in the afternoon. When we got into the Roadtrek the thermometer that tells us what the temperature inside the refrigerator is
and also shows the interior van temperature showed that inside the Roadtrek was 102 degrees F. It is nice to have a fridge right there with cold drinks inside when you get in on day like this!

While it was early for dinner we headed toward the restaurant that we had planned for on this night. On July 4th few local restaurants are open in Lancaster County. Despite its wide attraction to tourists this happens on several holidays and always on Sundays.

Along the way I thought that we would stop off to see something that we had seen a tourist brochure for. I knew that it would be closed but we were curious. It was billed as a Bavarian Village that one would walk around - seeing this brochure we both thought glorified shopping center, but it is one of the few new things being billed as an attraction so we went to see.

I got off the limited access road and headed down to where we knew it had to be. We were correct in thinking "over the top shopping center" but it had a twist. The stores were combined with a condo complex and everything looked like a Bavarian Village. And there were not many shops or seemingly sold condos. It was not worth the time to go and see and I was only happy that we did not spend part of another day coming down to see this. To top it off getting on to the road it was on had a sharp turn up a slight incline and the Roadtrek rocked and rolled making the turn. As we completed the turn I heard a bang inside behind our seats. The kitchen draw was shaken open - which at times does happen and we had to pull over so that Meryl could go back and close the draw.  Back on our way we drove up to this so-called Bavarian Village. We drove past it, turned around in one of its parking lots and headed back on our way. The GPS was showing a route that did not involve driving back to the limited access route. We decided, together, we would try it.

This road started out wide and then got narrower and narrower until it was one lane each way along a very twisting road going up and down hills with sharp turns and on coming traffic that did not need the little wider to turn as the Roadtrek does on tight roads. We came to a sign that showed the road was becoming a one lane road but this was only for a short distance. Approaching the descent of another hill there was a sign warning trucks about the angle of decline. We slowed down and made our way down. We should have taken the limited access road that we had been on before our little excursion detour.

We got to the restaurant and wasted some time in the gift shop until it was a better time to eat dinner. I will not talk about the restaurant in detail but if you are in Lancaster County you must eat at Shady Maple Smorgasbord. Ask anyone that is local and even those who are not. I have heard people in other states talk about this restaurant. That is where we had dinner and have been to many times before. It is probably one of the largest and best buffet restaurants in the US and serves both PA Dutch fare and more. It is a place that the Amish, Mennonites, locals, and tourists come to.

After dinner we headed to a spot that has always been good to watch the fireworks held for the Fourth of July in a local park. We sat and waited until it was dark and no fireworks. We had wondered why we did not see more cars as many know of this spot to watch these fireworks. We checked on the Internet and found out that the fireworks would not be held until Sunday. Odd, but that was how it was scheduled. It does not surprise me really. In this area traditional activities are not always held on the days they are in other places.

We just went back to the campground. The campground is now crowded. I backed into the space and Meryl was going to direct me into the correct spot on the site. I see her in the side mirror walking back and forth along the van. I picked up the walkie-talkie and asked her what was wrong. She answered that the level marker reflectors were gone! Really?!? The banner was still there. Now my markers had been taken. I just don't understand why people have a problem realizing that a site may be empty at that moment but the RV is coming back later. Another do-gooder who had to stick his nose into my site? Did one of the kids that seem to be everywhere today - tonight and this morning riding bicycles on the campground roads with no regard to the RVs and trailers pulling in and out - take them? This made me very angry. What do I have to do next to make people know that we are here? That we left for the day and we will be back - so stay out of my site and don't touch my things! I am thinking about a sign that will say just that... We shall see. Meryl will visit the office again in the morning and ask about our reflectors. 

Tonight I am noticing an odor start to come from the toilet. There is tank chemical with deodorizer in there as well as Calgon water softener and laundry detergent ala the “Geo Method”.  I sprayed the toilet area with Lysol and the odor was done. By the way, we still smell burnt popcorn.