Wednesday, August 28, 2013
ANATOMY OF A TRIP Part 8
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.