Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Still Out

Sunday - Fourth of July weekend

Surprisingly, I had no problem falling asleep to the sound of the rain hitting the roof of the Roadtrek and the thunder and lightening outside. I awoke in the morning still not certain what we would be doing for the day depending on the weather forecast. I put on the Weather Channel and also the local news show's weather report. There was a 60% chance of rain for the day and the report was that the storm front was moving southwest. At the moment they showed live video of heavy rain falling in NYC. The map showed the weather moving in our direction. Interesting, as weather here usually moves northeast. OK - plans for the Kutztown Folklife Festival would be postponed to Monday when the weather was to be cloudy and cooler. Things that we had planned for Monday would be on the schedule now for this day.

We got up and decided that since we had this time, perhaps we should take the opportunity and fill the water tanks. The "black" tank was also getting full - at least it seemed that way as the monitor panel was not working correctly for the black tank since we took delivery. It is one of the things on the service center's list of repairs for our next visit. The grey tank was not very full at all and we wanted to fill that tank so that we could flush through the macerator after dumping the black tank. We started running water in the sink and let it run. We went outside to start dumping and start filling. After that we would unhook and head out for the day. It had rained heavy the night before and outside the humidity was steamy. The rain also brought the mosquitoes out in force. There is that cute stream that flows behind the campground and suddenly it was not so cute as it had to be the source of a lot of these mosquito. As soon as we got outside they were swarming on us.

Years ago, in a Discovery Channel store, we purchased a solar mosquito repeller. This is a little device about two inches long with a key chain on one end. There is a small solar panel on it which charges the device to run a high pitched whistle which is supposed to chase mosquitoes away. Into the Roadtrek I went to find this. I am not sure it worked very well but there were less mosquitoes on us, but we were being bitten a great deal.

With enough water in the gray tank, we dumped the black tank and the gray tank into the sewer. We got out the hose - and the external filter and connected that to the water connection and filled the front and the rear tanks. In the process the front tank overflowed and covered the door and driver's seat in water. Once we dried everything off it was time to unhook the electricity and the cable TV and be off for the day. I am sure that in time we will get better at this all, but it took us almost two hours to do this that morning.

Finally, we were off. As I had said in the last article, because of the religious base of the local Amish and Mennonites, most things PA Dutch are closed on Sundays with very few exceptions. Sunday is not a day that you really want to plan to be in this area unless you want to go to the Outlets or see some of the non-PA Dutch attractions - and there are some.

We stopped for lunch and headed over to the Harbor Freight store. I love Harbor Freight stores - they are a supermarket for men. There are aisles of tools and gadgets to buy - and you will find men pushing shopping carts meandering down the aisles, filling the carts up. In the past year they opened a store local to me - but it is not as big and just not the same as this store in PA.

We then headed for the Strasburg Railroad. The Strasburg Railroad runs real steam trains through the countryside and farmlands. Many think that these trains are from the early 20th Century and earlier, but steam engines were in use in the US until the late 1950's and still are in some parts of the world. The big locomotives that have been lovingly restored and run on the Strasburg line are from the 1940's and 50's. The cars that you ride in are of similar vintage and their most famous car was used in the movie, "Hello Dolly!" - and is named as such so you know which one that it is. For many this is a very old movie, but for Barbra Streisand fans, this train car is still a big deal. You ride the train from Strasburg to the town of Paradise. Once there the engine is turned around, hooked back up to the train and you drive back on the same track that you came in on. I have ridden the train many times. We were not riding the train this day - I was there to take photos of the train and the trains being restored in their rail yard.

It was a good thing that we did not go to Kutztown. It was hot and it was extremely humid. So much so that it was very uncomfortable walking around outside. We went into the gift shops at the railroad station several times just to cool down. I was trying out a new camera strap that I recently got for my camera and had not yet used. It slings over the shoulder and I found that it was far more comfortable than having the DSLR hanging around my neck. I have sold some photographs and I have won an award for one. I am always looking for "different" to photograph. Despite the heat, I took some interesting shots around the railroad station and trains. (This site tends to blur the images and does not do them justice.)

Across from the Strasburg Railroad is the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania and this large museum houses many beautifully restored engines and trains. They are exhibited both inside and out and if you are what is know as a "rail fan" this is a must see. There are combination tickets that include a ride on the Strasburg and admission to the museum. The museum is under reconstruction but it is still open.

Parking for the Strasburg Railroad for RVs is limited. There is a large open area at the rail yard end of the property that one can park a large RV. We parked the Roadtrek in one of the car spaces. I chose a spot that was toward the end that did not back closely on to an opposite row of parked cars so that there would be no problem with the back sticking out of the space.

It was good to get back into the air conditioning of the van and we headed off to see a campground that I had read about that is "nearby" that is open all year. Most of the campgrounds in this area close in the late Fall and reopen on April 1st. This one stays open. It's address says it is in Stasburg but it is closer to the town of Quaryville than the populated town of Strasburg. It is south and into the mountains and to find it we were on some winding and steep mountain roads. The Roadtrek had no problem with these - though I was not thrilled with the twists and turns down and then up again. We actually found the campground and it is in the middle of an open field. We headed back on a different route and discovered that it is possible to get to this campground on less steep and winding roads. I am not sure that I would want to drive the Roadtrek on either route in the ice or snow. But it is open and there is a local event that we may like to attend in Lancaster in the month of March - when hopefully - though this past winter found March to be as bad as January - there will not be any snow or ice.

Coming back from Strasburg brings you right to the Outlet Center. We spent the rest of the day until dinner looking - not buying, just looking.

Fourth of July fireworks in Lancaster County don't happen on the Fourth of July. The big shows are generally scheduled on Saturday or Sunday before the Fourth. With the Fourth on Monday, the fireworks were scheduled on Sunday. After dinner we went to a spot to park - at a Home Depot - that we know has a good view of the fireworks show at Long's Park, the larger of the area shows. Along the way we could see the fireworks show being presented at a local golf course and there were many cars parked along the side of the highway to watch. Comfortable in the Roadtrek's front seats we watched the fireworks. You see them, you hear them - you just don't get the musical accompaniment.

And yes, we stopped again at Walmart for a short time to check on a few things and we went back to the campground. As soon as we got out to hook up the mosquitoes swarmed again, attracted to us and the lantern that we had to see when we hook up in the dark. We set the "lego" blocks under the wheels again to level the RT, hooked up the electric line and the cable TV and settled down inside for the night.

It had been very hot and humid all day, as I said, and the night was not much better. We have been running the Roadtrek's A/C all along at night and have found that with the small space that this room size air conditioner has to cool it does too well a job. There are two fan settings on the Cool Cat heat pump/air conditioner that is installed in the Roadtrek. There is a thermostat control and a fan/auto setting. I have kept the fan set on low and have had it on the auto setting which turns the a/c on and off when it reaches the temperature set on the thermostat which I have placed anywhere from 68 to 75 degrees. We both freeze and get too warm with the A/C. We sit in the front seats and there is really no way to direct the flow of air away from us no matter where we set the direction of the three vents. The cold air all too easily reaches us. So with the temperature still in the 80's outside, there I am sitting with a jacket on and Meryl in a sweatshirt. It is a relief when the auto setting shuts the fan off and off comes the jacket and the sweatshirt, but shortly after it starts to feel too warm and as it should the A/C comes back on and so do the jacket and sweatshirt. The low fan setting seems more of what medium should be, but there is nothing lower. Now, I would rather be cold than hot and I am not really complaining, but a little more variation in the settings would have been nice. We could not help but laugh at how we were sitting there shivering on Fourth of July weekend.

Tomorrow we would go to Kutztown Folklife Festival - the highlight of the trip.

To be continued in the next article...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Touring Again

Saturday - Fourth of July weekend 2011

Picking up from my last article, we are still on our first real trip in the Roadtrek. We are in Lancaster, Pennsylvania - a place that we have been to many, many, many times before, but not like this in an RV.

When we woke up I expected to hear the sounds of the roller coaster in the Dutch Wonderland Amusement Park which is adjacent to the campground - in fact this campground is owned by Dutch Wonderland, as I understand it, bought by them in the last ten years. When I made the reservation for the campground, I was told that there were few spaces left available for Fourth of July weekend and the space that they had for us would be "noisy". There was said right up front with no prompting from me. The space was near the amusement park and it is "noisy". The park is not open at night so that is not an issue for sleeping but it might be if one wanted to sleep past the opening of the park in the morning. We made the reservation anyway. So, as I say, I expected to awake to the sound of the coaster which we could see from our site. Surprisingly, I heard nothing from inside the Roadtrek.

The Roadtrek is perhaps different from other RVs in that you are inside a van with vehicle walls all around you with the exception of the roof. There is not much that you hear of the outside from inside Roadtrek - though on our driveway, inside the Roadtrek, I can hear the noise of the cars and trucks that pass by on the busy avenue that runs past our house. But I wondered if the park was open yet - was the coaster running?

We got up and got dressed. I went outside while Meryl finished up inside, securing all of the cabinets and anything that would move once we started driving. Once I opened the door, I could hear the coaster. It was not very loud, but it definitely was running. Meryl joined me outside and we disconnected the electric and the cable TV wire and stowed them away in the Roadtrek's outside storage compartment. We got back in the van and looked around to make sure that all was secure and we took off for the day.

One thing I discovered as we pulled out of the campground was that when the amusement park is open there did not seem to be a way to get to the exit with the traffic light to go out onto busy Route 30. There is an exist without a light, and making a right turn is fine, though there is a wait for the many cars and trucks to pass and there be an opening to turn out, but making a left was not a good idea here. We could just as easily turn right for where we were heading and we did.

Our first stop - as is always our first stop when we come to this area is the Bird-In-Hand Farmers Market. As I have mentioned, we are travelers of habit. We tend to go to the same places and like to do things in the same order - how dull. But after so many years, it just does not seem the same any other way.

There are a lot of quaint and unusual town names in Lancaster County, PA. Bird-In-Hand is one of them and it is the old, original name of the town - not named as such for the tourists. The Bird-In-Hand Farmers Market is one of the several farmers markets in Lancaster County and they are only open on specific days of the week. Bird-In-Hand market is open during the summer months from Wednesday to Saturday. Other times of the year, those days go down to Friday and Saturday. No market is open on Sunday. This is a very religious area, and anything that has to do with the real Amish and Mennonites is closed on Sunday. This is not to say that everything is closed on Sunday - regular businesses and stores are open just like everywhere else. Bird-In-Hand Farmers Market is located at 2710 Old Philadelphia Pike, better and easier known as Route 340.

Bird-In-Hand Farmer's Market is made up inside of a series of vendor stalls selling meats, fruit, some vegetables, jellies and jams, baked goods, spices and herbs, and souvenirs. This is a more formal setup than at Green Dragon which I wrote about in my first article. This is all inside of just one building and there is much less available produce here. It is a nice place to walk through. A good place to buy meats and cold cuts. And, unlike Green Dragon, all of the people selling here are local people - many Amish and Mennonites. This is also a market more geared toward the tourist and many bus groups will stop here - sometimes making the aisles very crowded. One side of the building is a large gift shop and above that another gift shop. Outside there is a small building that sells candles. There are two lunch counters inside and cooking is done by Amish and Mennonites, though the menu offers the usual lunch counter fare of sandwiches, burgers, and hot dogs along with local fried chicken.

Across from Bird-In-Hand is another of our usual stops, though it does not offer now what it once did. There is a old building that once was a very nice gift shop that is now an antique market named Bird-In-Hand Village Antique Market. Inside you will find a very large variety of collectibles and antiques. When I am in there I find myself more remembering fondly the shop that used to occupy the space than anything else. Next door - and also connected with an entrance from the far back room of the antique market is the Old Village Store. Apart from being able to find a variety of household, hardware, and farm related things that are hard to find in most large chain stores, the interior of this store has been kept as it was in the early 20th Century. The counters are all the same, many of the displays are all the same. This is an experience just to walk into - and when we are looking for something that we have not been able to find anywhere else, this is the place that we come to look and often find what we were after.

RV parking is no problem at Bird-In-Hand Farmers Market. There is a large parking lot and there is bus parking in the rear - it should accommodate any size RV. Do not try to park across the road at the Antique Market or Old Village Store. The lot and access way is too small and narrow - don't even attempt it. Park across the road at the farmers market and walk across.

While you are at the market or in the Old Village Store pick up some of the free tourist newspapers. They are filled with ads for all of the local attractions and you will often find coupons for many of the restaurants in Lancaster. I shall take a moment here to talk about eating in Lancaster County - forget the chain restaurants here. You want to eat Pennsylvania Dutch cooking in the local restaurants and this is the All You Can Eat capitol of the world! You can eat until you are full two ways here - at a "family-style" restaurant where you will eat like the Amish do - at a long table with other guests who are dining and platters of food are brought out to your table from which you take what you would like to your plate and the pass the platter along to the rest of the table. The platters get refilled so don't worry about overfilling your plate the first time around. The other way to dine "PA Dutch" is to go to one of the many buffet/smorgasbord restaurants where the same local foods are served as at the family style restaurants but you are seated at your own table and you go up to the buffet as many times as you like. Be sure to try Chicken Bot Boi, Pork and Kraut, and Shoo Fly Pie. Fried chicken and ham are staples.

We moved on. Next stop is Kitchen Kettle. Kitchen Kettle is in the town of Intercourse on Route 340. Yes, there really is a town named Intercourse, and it causes a lot of snickers and laughs. It was not named for the reason you think - the town was located at the site of a horse race track. The entrance of a horse race track was called the "entercourse". Entercourse became Intercourse and the tourist industry has thanked them for it ever since. This is a very quaint village of shops and Kitchen Kettle Village of Shops is the most prominent attraction in the town. If you walk or drive through this town some things may look very familiar to you. The Hollywood movie, "Witness" starring Harrison Ford about the Amish and their encounter with a big city detective was filmed at locations around Intercourse. The phone booth that he is seen using in front of one of the stores is still there and you can stop on the spot on the street where he has the encounter in the middle of the street involving the ice cream cone (that does not sound so exciting but if you have seen the movie you will understand).

On Fourth of July Saturday Kitchen Kettle is very crowded and the parking lot is jammed. We drove in with the Roadtrek and drove right out again. There were spaces but the Roadtrek does take up a full parking space and then some in the rear. The continental spare tire on the back sticks out about a foot and puts the length of the Roadtrek a bit out into the aisle of the parking lot. Cars were parked too close this day. When it is not a holiday or during the week you will have no problem in their very large lot and there are several bus and RV spaces in the lot. The alternative to park is across the road and not a problem at all. We drive out and across and parked behind the shops that are across Route 340. There is another large parking lot there that many - even on a holiday weekend - do not know about. There were two other RVs back there - a class A and a class C, so we added our class B to the assortment to make a set. There is a traffic light to walk back across 340 and Kitchen Kettle is right there.

Kitchen Kettle started as a shop making and selling jellies and jam and they still make jelly, jam, apple butter, relish, and pickles in a kitchen in the jelly building. You can watch as Amish and Mennonite ladies cook and bottle all of this out in the open. There is a schedule of tours of the kitchen and an explanation of the process - all free - but you watch from the outside looking in as the public is not permitted to enter the kitchen - but it is all visible. Also in the jelly building is the bakery and they make some wonderful cookies and shoo fly pies (which we cannot indulge in any longer but it is so good to smell the baking).

Kitchen Kettle is a tourist attraction and it is all a variety of shops. They offer horse and wagon rides through the surrounding Amish farmland. There is a shop that sells leather goods. There is a shop that sells carved wood signs. There is a candle shop. There is a meat shop - and you can get some nice sandwiches made. There is a ice cream stand - Lapp Valley Ice Cream - Mennonite farm made ice cream that I consider the best ice cream anywhere. There is a kettle corn stand. There is a restaurant for a light meal. There is a fancy restaurant for a large meal. There is a kitchen shop with kitchen items. There is a metal shop with wrought iron and tinware items. There are shops for ladies clothes. There is a souvenir shop and a toy shop. There is also a petting zoo. And it is all free - of course. Again - this is a business all set up for the tourists. It is in the middle of some very nice country side and farmland. When I first came with my family to Lancaster County on vacation more than fifty years ago, this was one of the first places that we visited. I think that I have been there at least once a year every year since. And if you have not been to Kitchen Kettle, you have not been to Lancaster.

It sounds as if all there is to do in Lancaster is visit gift shops, go to tourist oriented attractions, and eat. And for some that visit the area this is exactly what they think there is to do - this and go to the outlets. I have not yet mentioned the outlets, but keep reading. The more important reason to visit this area is to learn about the people who settled this area, live here still, and farm here. This is a heavily populated Amish and Mennonite area. These people came here in the 18th century to settle in search of religious freedom. They are called the plain people and most follow the Bible very literally. They do not have their photographs taken, as the Bible says to make no graven images. When you are in this area, please respect that and do not take photographs of the Old Order Amish. They still live and dress as their people did in the 19th Century (1800's) and they have no electricity in their homes, have no telephones, and have no connection in anyway - wiring or pipes - to the outside world on their land. They use wind power to pump their water to their homes from wells and streams. They do not drive cars but travel still with horse and buggy.

It is very important to know about driving on the roads in this area. There are horse and buggies on all of the roads from the small country roads to the large routes. The only roads that you will not encounter a buggy is on the limited access highways. The buggy - no matter what - has the right away. And if you come upon a buggy - which at best is going to be traveling 25 mph - you need to safely pass. With an RV this can be a challenge on a small road. The buggy will stay to the right edge of the road - when they can - but be prepared to go fully into the lane with opposite traffic to go around the buggies. This is also a challenge on the many hills that the roads in the farmlands follow up and down. Do not pass on a hill if you cannot fully see what is way ahead of you in the lane coming at you. Wait, get to the top of the hill with a full clear view, and then make you move. All common sense - yes - but you would be surprised - maybe you wouldn't.

Anyway - you are here to see the Amish and if you are comfortable driving the farm roads - do so. There are maps at most tourist sites of the farm roads and they are easy to follow - most will eventually lead back to a large route number. I am never really concerned that I will not eventually get back to a route that I know how to return on. This is where you see the real Pennsylvania Dutch Country. You will see farmers plowing their fields with horses. You will pass one room school houses (Amish only go to school until Grade 8 and they attend their own schools). You will pass small farm stands and if you want to talk with the Amish stop and buy something. They will be happy for your business and happy to talk with you - just do not think of them as an attraction at Disney World. These are real people with real lives to live. They are not their for the tourists amusement. Be polite. Never be rude. And think what it would be like if people came past your house every day and stopped to look at you go about your life. Ah, and these people are not Dutch. They are of German heritage. German is Deutch - "Duetch" became "Dutch". Ah, what we like to do with English. And by the way - to the Penn Duetch - you are the "English".

I could keep going on about this one day. I have thought about splitting these days each into several articles but you would be reading about Fourth of July weekend still in October. We finished out the day of seeing the sites that we like to see. We did drive the farm roads. We stopped at an outlet to buy umbrellas to keep in the Roadtrek.

There are two large outlet malls here. Rockvale Outlet Center and Tanger Outlet Center are both located on Route 30. Outlet stores are not any longer what they once were - and while you will get some discounts you will not get the big discounts that outlets once gave when they actually were company stores selling off older inventory and seconds. Now, you rarely see a second and the prices need to be looked at carefully as you may find that Walmart is giving you a better deal on the same item. The outlets keep the tourists coming to this area all year - and this area is as crowded just before Christmas as it is in July.

After dinner we found a supermarket selling small cups of the same ice cream that we eat at home. After that - of course - it was off to Walmart to walk around and spend money on mostly Roadtrek related things.

Back at the campground, I decided to try to level the Roadtrek using the "lego" blocks that we had purchased a while back and were carrying with us. Meryl put one block under the front driver's side tire and one under the back and I pulled up onto them. I checked the level and we were almost exactly on level. No more rolling across the bed. We hooked up the electricity and cable TV and headed in to find a weather report for the next day. On Sundays, as I said, most of the tourist things are closed, the Amish spend the day in someone's home for church services, and this is a day to spend at the outlets or non-Amish related attractions. Our plan was to go to the Kutztown Folklife Festival. The weather report was for a chance of "serious" rain and thunderstorms for the day. Monday would be much better. So as we went to bed, the plan for Sunday were changing. In bed, I there was a rumbling outside. No, it was not the roller coaster, it was thunder. And we could see flashes of lightening through the edges of the Roadtrek's curtains. The heavy rain started right after that.

Next week - Sunday.

Friday, July 8, 2011


We finally were off on our first trip. I had made the reservations at the campground for Fourth of July weekend just after we took delivery of the Roadtrek. When we regularly traveled in the past we had favorite places to go for specific times - and Fourth of July has always been Lancaster, PA and the nearby Kutztown Pennsylvania German Folk Festival. Now that we are traveling again, there was no question where the Fourth of July trip would be.

The reservations were for four nights. We would be out for five days. We left on Friday and since the Fourth was Monday and not a good day to drive due to the holiday traffic, we decided to not return home until Tuesday and there is a place that we like to go in the area that is only open on a Tuesday.

Over the next few weeks I will write an article about each day - and this is day one. We might title this sub-chapter, "We Leave and We Arrive".

We set out on Friday morning a little latter to attempt to avoid morning rush hour traffic. Traffic as it turned out was not the problem but road construction was and a trip that should have taken at the most four hours took five and a half hours. This was also the first time driving the Roadtrek on the truck route to avoid the low overpasses that are on the parkway that we would usually drive our other vehicles on. We have driven this route at night but not in the day with the Roadtrek. Let me take a moment to tell you a little about what it is like to drive a Roadtrek 190. While this is not the longest Roadtrek, it is a long van and takes a bit of getting used to the size that you have to maneuver in and out of lanes with cars around you. To add to this, there is limited visibility behind you on to the rear next to you. There are two mirrors on each front side - one over the other. The top mirror shows you what is on that side of the van behind you but has no picture of what is on that side next to you. The smaller mirror below that one if set properly - and this is a mirror that must be manually set and is not controlled from inside like the larger ones - will show you what is next to you right up to the point that the vehicle is about to pass you. Well, that is the way they are supposed to work and pretty much do unless a car is driving over to the far side of the lane and then there is little view, if any of that car once the car comes up along side. It takes a bit of moving one's head to see the corners of that smaller mirror to make sure that you are not about to cut a car in half if you change lanes. The other thing about driving the Roadtrek is the noise. I have driven vans, SUVs, cars, and a small school bus. Nothing is like driving with the shake and rattle going on inside the Roadtrek as you roll! Every bump in the road, every upraised spot of tar in the road, every pothole no matter how small that is caught by a tire results in the van to move up and down and there is a resulting BANG of something hitting something inside. Some roads result in a bang, bang, bang, rat-a-tat-tat sound like a machine gone of something rattling loudly inside. We have gone through a lot of the inside and cushioned and secured as much as we could find that might possibly move, but there were are still some that we have not found. (My apologies to my wife for saying that one of them was the can of Lysol spray on the shelf over the toilet - which by the way was wrapped in foam rubber because it was tapping against the wall - as when we removed that on my emphatic demand, the noise from that location was still there.) The roads in NY are less than smooth and this particular road was nerve wracking with the noise from inside the Roadtrek. Once we got onto the highway with the approach to the bridge things quieted down - at least for a short while until we found more road that is in need of smoothing out. I never noticed all of these bumps in other vehicles - but there is nothing really to rattle and bang in other vehicles.

We were off and traffic was stop and go where road construction was being done - not roadwork to smooth out the bumps - it will likely add new bumps. We were heading for Old Millstream Campground in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. We would go directly there even though there was a place that we wanted to visit for the day because I wanted to be sure we checked in and all was well with the site before anything else. It was much later than I anticipated when we arrived. No problem, though. We drove into the campground and found a large Class A (think bus) and a large Fifth Wheel (a trailer with its hitch inside the flatbed of a pick up truck connected like an 18 wheeler truck) parked in along the road next to the office. We pulled up to the front of the office and checked in. The lady there is very nice and we paid and were assigned our space. The office here is open until 9 pm - which is good for late arrivals - and check in and check out is at 2 pm. We managed to go all around the campground the long way to our space as the larger RVs were still parked in the road next to the office. As we looked at the RVs we passed we were the smallest in the park. There were no other Class B's here the entire stay.

We found our space. There was a group of people sitting outside their trailer parked opposite our space and they watched as Meryl guided me in. As I have been told - everyone is friendly at campgrounds - Meryl waved to them and they waved back. We got into the space and tested the electrical outlet for polarity and voltage. All was good and we got back in and left - likely to the surprise of the people sitting and watching. We were off to the activity of the day - Green Dragon Farmers Market in the town of Ephrata.

I have been going to Green Dragon for so many years. Over the years it has become more of a flea market than a farm market but the buildings are still full of local Amish and Mennonite farmers selling their farm produce. Along with them are stand holders selling everything from locally made furniture to hardware to clothes to books. Outside there are vendors set up under canopies selling cell phone cases to antiques. On a summer Friday - this market is only open on Fridays this market can be packed. Most of the people coming to this market are local, but it gets a good share of tourists as well. If you want to walk among the Pennsylvania Dutch (Germans) then this is the place to come. And if you like animals, come into the auction building and watch farmers buying chicks, roosters, ducks, bunnies, and other small farm animals. There is a larger building where large animals are auctioned. Unless you live where you can keep and raise farm animals, don't get tempted to bid because the prices seem to me to be real good and it can be oh so tempting.

We spent the late afternoon at Green Dragon and then realizing that it was getting late - as the local restaurants in this area close at 8 pm, we left and headed to dinner.

After dinner, we went to Walmart - in fact every night of this trip we went to Walmart. Why? It is a place that is air conditioned where you can walk around and burn off carbohydrates from dinner which takes the place of my nightly exercise bike. And, of course, as usual, we had things to buy. One of the things that I wanted was some type of small ice cream cup. We don't eat breakfast and have a night snack instead - and contrary to what most will tell you is bad for you if you are Diabetic - four ounces of ice cream for me at night keeps me from going too low in blood sugar through the night. There is a freezer in the Roadtrek refrigerator and we had turned the fridge on just before we left home. We would test out how well it worked. This is a "Super Walmart" - meaning that it is open 24 hours, 7 days a week and it has a full supermarket. I purchased an ice cream bar that had just about the correct amount of carbs and we headed back to the campground to hook up for the night.

We arrived at the campground and found our space in the dark. Meryl guided as I backed into the space and got close enough to the electric box to hook up. We had filled one fresh water tank at home the day before and did not need to hook up to water. The water in the tank should hold us for a couple of days. I stopped the engine and got out to help with hooking up. When I was outside the van did not look level side to side. The campground is supposed to have all level sites, but of course, with a gravel site it may be level in one spot and not in another and then again, it may not be level at all. I went back inside, figured out where we hid the level, and put it on the counter. I have since realized that I have been making a presumption that the counter is level on its own. I actually am not certain of that at all and need to get to a place that we know is level outside and then check how level the counter actually is. The level bubble did show that the passenger side of the van was higher than the driver's side. I decided that with all else on this first night, I was not going to get out the leveling blocks that we had purchased and start leveling the van. It was close enough - though later that night I found myself rolling across the bed.
Back outside we got out the Coleman LED lantern that we had bought a week before to light up the campsite while we did our hook ups in the dark. The box said that it ran on four D cell batteries or the included rechargeable adapter. We picked this particular lantern because it included the adapter - which the others did not. I had a package of 6 D batteries that even at a discount store for no name batteries are ridiculously expensive and we went inside the RT to get the lantern out of the box and put the batteries in. I knew that I should have done this at home and we were in for a big surprise. Yes, this model included the rechargeable adapter but rather than have a place to put the batteries it required an optional battery case to run with batteries. This was printed in very tiny print on one part of the packaging. And none of the stores that we had looked at the lanterns had any such battery case for sale. I tried the switch with the rechargeable installed in the lantern - just in case it did not have to be charged first, and the lantern lit. We were good for the moment at least and got outside to hook up before the lantern went dark.

Outside with the lantern we discovered that every flying bug and mosquito liked the light of the lantern and could now see us to take a little nibble. Swatting bugs away, I got out the very expensive, 30 amp, rv surge suppressor that I purchased in the last several weeks by mail order from Camping World. We also purchased the locking block that is supposed to prevent anyone from stealing it. That came out too. Meryl got the Roadtrek's electrical cord out and I walked it over to the campsite's electric box that we shared with the space next to us where another RV was hooked up. There are two completely wired sides to the box and we had one of the sides. We next fumbled with the surge suppressor which is large, heavy, and awkward. Instead of just putting it all together and then plugging it all in, I plugged in the surge box first, connected the RV plug to it, and then fumbled some more with the lock box and padlock. Finally it was all in place and I switched the circuit breaker inside the electric box on. The proper lights lit on the surge suppressor and then after the expected short delay, it switched on.

This site also provided a cable television hook up which we were paying extra for. I had a long length of cable from home and we connected one end to the outlet in the Roadtrek and the other end to the post. Now all was connected. I turned off the lantern, waved off the bugs, and went inside - well bitten.

We settled in now inside. Got things into place and I went to the TV - unsecured it - oh yes, this rattles and shakes when you drive also. I fixed that with velcro straps. I switched the wiring connection to Cable from antenna and set the TV to scan for cable channels. Many started to be found and we now had a large assortment of channels to watch - and go to sleep with. The cable hook up is well worth the few dollars extra.

I then thought that I would write this article and got out the laptop and started the process of connecting to the campground's free wifi. I am well use to connecting to hotel wifi and figured it would be similar. Since the woman at the campground desk had not given us any password or user name I made an assumption that I would not need one. The laptop found the network connection - actually two connections. I tried one and it had difficulty making the link. I tried the other and a good signal was found and the connection was made - but no internet came through. I worked at it a bit longer and eventually a page came on screen from the campground's internet service provider asking me for a username and password. I got out the only paper we had gotten from the campground which was their map and all that it said about wifi on it was a number to call for help if you could not connect. Looking at this page, the implication was that without a username and password, one would pay for the connection. We called the phone number and were waiting on hold - perhaps all over the country people at campgrounds were having problems connecting. For the heck of it I tried the link that said register - the worst that could happen would be I would not complete any information. There is said "for one weeks service - fee is $0". Zero dollars sounded like the right price for me and I registered a username and password. It did not ask for any money or credit card and the page changed to tell me that I was now fully online. Nice - we hung up the phone as we were still on hold for the help line. By now, I was too tired to think about writing and discovered that sitting in the seats of the Roadtrek with the laptop on my legs was extremely uncomfortable to use the laptop's keyboard. I checked email, offered it to Meryl, and then shut it down.

The TV had a nice clear signal and we discovered that the campground used DISH TV as their service provider. I watched for a while and Meryl read the newspaper that we brought from home. Later - we are both "night" people - so much later - it was time for late night snack and I got out the ice cream pop from the freezer. Meryl had bought cookie/cakes that were also low enough in carbs to have. My ice cream pop was hard on the outside chocolate coating and the ice cream was semi-soft in the middle. When we had first gotten married we lived in an apartment that had a refrigerator that did not have a real freezer. For those years in our marriage we never had hard ice cream because the freezer compartment would never keep it frozen enough. This reminded me exactly of those times. It was good anyway.

I also have a piece of rye toast - yes, an odd thing following the ice cream, but I like it and it works for its purpose. Anticipating this, we had purchased a cheap toaster that would plug into the 110v AC circuit of the Roadtrek and I could make toast. We had that in one of the cabinets and Meryl brought rye bread sealed in a plastic, airtight box. She plugged in the toaster and put the bread in and in less than a minute - beep, beep, beep! There was no visible smoke but the smoke alarm was sounding. We turned off the toaster and I reset the alarm. So much for toasting inside the Roadtrek. Well, untoasted rye bread is nice too.

Snack done and a while later it was time for bed. I kept hoping that this night - for the first time - I would actually fall asleep in the Roadtrek. It took awhile and it was near or maybe past 5 am and I did fall asleep - hooray!

One of the nice things about Lancaster for us is that we can set our own pace for the day. There are places that we want to go but there is no hurry to get there. We slept late and then got out to unhook and be off on our day. And that next day I shall tell you about in my next article.

I am going to leave this one up for a week and a half and then on a Wednesday a week from now put up the next sub-chapter of our trip. In the interim here are some photos that I took of the campground.

Ah -let me tell you about the campground - Old Mill Stream Campground is next to (and owned by) Dutch Wonderland amusement park. This is an amusement park for small children but they do have one roller coaster. The campground is to the back and the side of the amusement park where the roller coaster is. When I made the reservations, I was told by the woman at the campground that the space would be noisy from the amusement park. Forewarned, we just figured that we would have a reason to get up in the morning earlier. The amusement park is not open at all at night and opens around 9 or 10 in the morning. From inside the Roadtrek we could not hear anything outside. We did not hear the roller coaster in the morning at all - and it was running when we came outside. Outside you can hear it but it is not overwhelmingly loud. I will talk more about the campground as we go along.

You can see the coaster in the back looking out from our site.

The coaster and the amusement park's monorail ride.

View behind out site of the stream that runs behind the campground that also serves the Steamboat ride at Dutch Wonderland. Fishing (catch and release) is permitted in this stream and on the other side is an Amishman's farm. His cows come walking along the stream to drink and cool themselves in the water.