Saturday, June 25, 2016

Bits and Pieces

Traveling like this there are always these little odds and ends of things happening that don't really fit in with the regular sequential blog post. Like the nice trucker and his son (presumably anyway) who waved and gestured at us letting us know we had some kind of problem so we pulled over and the tie downs and cover on PoGoGo on the carrier were coming loose and dragging on the highway. Thank you Mr. Unknown Trucker!

Then there is the automatic hand washer Geoff discovered in western Kansas. You stick your hands in and it wets them, soaps them, rinses them and then dries them or so the instructions say. It promises more than it delivers even when you do it three times!

Driving along we suddenly see a concrete field full of helicopters both Chinooks and regular looking ones which Geoff says were UH-60's and OH-58's ... regular ones as far as I can tell. Of course this is not so surprising when we see we are passing Ft Riley. It also explains the sudden appearance of apartment complexes in the middle of no where.

Some things go by too quickly to grab the camera for ... like the sudden area of leafless twisted trees scattered across the landscape for a short bit on the north side of I70 ... looked like a sudden wind storm or small tornado had struck maybe a thousand square yards of hillside.

A little ways farther on we found miles and miles of wind turbines planted in the prairie. Here and there, as you can see if you look closely at the image, there were old fashioned windmills. The juxtaposition was fascinating. There are hundreds and hundreds of turbines in these fields that are also used for whatever else, corn, wheat, or cattle grazing.

Only a little farther west from the wind turbines we found signs along the highway stating that if the lights on them were flashing all traffic had to get off the interstate. The only rationale for this we could think of was weather, either very strong winds that were dangerous or even threatened tornadoes or, even more likely, the blizzard conditions that occur out here in the prairies in winter.

Saw a few signs for the Quilt Cottage near Hays, Kansas, which made me think of stopping and getting a little something for my cousins Cyndi but then I realized since I have no interest in quilting myself I wouldn't have a clue what to get ... sorry Cyndi, just appreciate the thought I guess.

We finally made it out of Kansas (one of those "doesn't it ever end states") and ran into a nasty little rainstorm right where exits were few and far between. We finally got off and found a little RV park at the local Conoco station ... doesn't CW McCall have a song or two that mention the Conoco Station? The rain stopped almost as abruptly as it began and through the windshield we saw this lovely rainbow. It doesn't really show but it appeared much stronger than usual, probably because the skies were still fairly dark and stormy behind it but the sun was shining from behind us. This little park is the Marshall Ash Village Campground and has only two or three dozen pull through slots but they all have power, water, and sewer. It is right off the interstate, back behind the Conoco station which is also the campground office.

Our frig is still being cranky, infrequently showing the good old mysterious check light and being a bit erratic as to temperature so we'll have to keep an eye on it. Maybe I should assign that task to our resident kitty, stuffed and not needing any feeding or litter control. Next stop Denver!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Crossing the Breadbasket

Starting this while we still are in Ohio but we are leaving in the morning. Geoff had a great time both days he spent at the National Air Force Museum and of course he brought me a souvenir so a nice little plush eaglet joins the collection.

In case anyone thinks otherwise, there is actually a good bit one has to do on a daily or near daily basis living in an RV. Timmber Wolf has to have the gray and black water tanks emptied on a regular basis and of course the freshwater tank has to be filled. If you're hooked up to the park's water you're not using up your freshwater tank but any water use when you are not hooked up runs the tank down and that tank is even smaller than the 35 gallon black or gray tanks. When you are preparing for departure you make sure all your tanks are full or empty depending on what they are and you keep track of your propane tank level as well. Remember, the frig works off the propane when you are not plugged in to a 30 amp service!

So, to get ready for our leg of the trip crossing the midwest from Dayton to Denver, we'll empty our tanks tonight after dinner, fill up the freshwater tank and gather up all our trash. When we leave in the morning all we will have to do is unhook the water, sewer and electric lines, drop our trash off at the dumpster and turn left as we go out of the park, headed for I70. We've checked the propane which is about half full but this park doesn't have propane available so we'll make sure to fill the tank up at one of the travel plazas along our route.

Of course that doesn't even mention making sure everything on the inside is where it can't fly around as we go. The extra chair gets folded up and put between the bed and the wall and the the suitcase and laundry bag take the floor space on the other side of the bed. The big trash can gets folded up and secured in the shower with a few other things and all the small stuff gets put away in drawers and cabinets and then all the drawers and cabinets as well as the frig doors are checked to make sure they are properly shut.

The trip across the Midwest has been more or less uneventful, it is Friday morning now and we are in Columbia, Missouri. We had some issues with the tires taken care of yesterday afternoon - the stupid TireMinder we had installed at the beginning has been useless and made airing up the tires difficult for professionals and impossible for us. We went to Big O Tires here in Columbia and they removed the system, added extenders on the valve stems where needed and aired us up. If you ever have tire problems look for a Big O Tires!! They are all over the country. If they are anything like the one here you will be glad you did.

By the time we were done at Big O it was time to stop for the night so we are at Cottonwoods RV Park which was only a few miles away. Very nice here. Still having some refrigerator issues we are keeping an eye on as we head out towards Kansas and Colorado.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Moving On

Wednesday we headed back to Pennsylvania and the hopefully well rested Timmber Wolf. On the way we returned the rental car and then relaxed the rest of the afternoon. Thursday morning we headed west again, driving through the area where a number of my father's natural father's ancestry lived, mostly in Potter County, around Galeton.

We had intended to stop and find the Crippen Cemetery there but between the rain and the difficult roads decided to drop that idea.We do have pictures taken last year by my sister's husband and there is a picture and transcript online on the Painted Hills Genealogy Society website. Several generations of Crippens are buried there including my father's great grandfather Erastus Crippen who was wounded at Gettysburg on July 1st at the McPherson Farm, just yards away from where my father's great grandfather on the adopted line, Chalkley Sears, was also wounded although at that time neither family knew each other or had the slightest inkling that they would join through his adoption some sixty years later. My sister's comment to that was that both sides seemed to be big on strange sounding names!

We meant to go all the way to Ohio through the Pennsylvania hills on the regular highways, decent but one lane each way for the most part, but our Puppy Pad aka the RV GPS decided differently and sent us north to New York and I86 up there. Easier driving anyway.

Thursday afternoon found us in Thompson, Ohio, wine country, where we drove on a back road between the grape fields or whatever they should be called to our next scheduled RV stop at Heritage Hills KOA, also known as the Grand River Valley KOA. We could have driven all the way to west Cleveland to Geoff's sister's but that would have been arriving exhausted late in the day.

It also meant we had some time on Friday to take a detour to General RV in North Canton to have them take care of that little problem with the TV antenna rig that we managed to rip off the roof back in Virginia as mentioned in Time and Distance at the NRA Firearms Museum. They were super at the dealership and managed to squeeze in our repair and check the rest of the rooftop to make sure there was no other damage, climbing up there being a bit beyond our capabilities.

We had a super visit with some of Geoff's family in Bay Village, Ohio, parked in his sister's driveway where his brother-in-law had even provided us with a 30 amp electric hookup! Sunday we headed on to the Dayton area where we had dinner with Geoff's nephew. The next morning we celebrated the Cleveland Cavaliers victory over the Golden State Warriors but were sort of glad we are were out of the huge excitement in Cleveland itself!

Today Geoff is off at the National Museum of the US Air Force after waiting for and finally getting the pick up from Enterprise Car rental. Me? I get to relax here in Timmber Wolf and catch up the blog. The "here" is the Enon Beach campground which is literally just off the interstate and even features a close by train track. Actually it is a fairly nice place and we have already learned days ago to run a fan or something as a masking white noise at night. Tonight we'll take advantage of having the rental and go eat and pick up a few things at the store. Tomorrow Geoff will go back to the museum while I prep for heading west on Wednesday.

Geoff is of course under orders to bring me back a souvenir but you'll have to wait for the next post to find out what was added to our collection!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Glass & Memories

The other major highlight I looked forward on this part of our trip was the visit to the Corning Glass Museum in Corning, New York. As a young child, seven years old or so, my family went several times to the Corning Glass Works which had tours and some demonstrations. It all seemed almost magical to me at that age and I looked forward to seeing what the Corning Glass Museum had to offer all these many years later.

Although they no longer manufacturer any of their glassware at that location, the museum is extensive with displays of glassware over the centuries and of art in glass. There are also multiple demonstrations of different types of glass making including glass blowing and flame work as well as an excellent demonstration of glass breaking.

We spent much of Monday there and on Tuesday went first to the nearby Rockwell museum which mostly features southwestern art and some history of the southwest and then drove over to the Heritage Village which includes an early one room school and an early blacksmith shop. There we found that the tours were full up with school groups until mid afternoon so we retreated back to the Corning Glass Museum and happily spent several more hours there.

The glass making demonstrations are fascinating and we went to five different shows all together. There is a steady narration explaining all about how and why they are doing various things and you see the glass change from a blob on the end of a pole to acquiring some shape and then to a final finished object, in these pictures it is a fluted bowl.Throughout the process the glass has to be reheated frequently so it does not cool too much and shatter.

The shape of the bowl is beginning to show.

The finished bowl, it's color appearing as it cools.

One of the most interesting exhibits is the current one showing models of sea creatures and plants done in the late 1800's by Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka.

These models range from familiar creatures such as the octopus (shown at left) and the sea anemone to tiny delicate things I have never heard of.The exhibit includes some damaged pieces that show how they were constructed. 

Both Monday and Tuesday we had lunch in the cafe at the museum which is quite good. The museum clearly gets a lot of international visitors and the demonstrations had an interpreter speaking Mandarin for the many Chinese who were there on tours.

I liked the marine creature models so much that my souvenir from here is a small paperweight with a jellyfish sort of creature inside it which you can see  if you look carefully at the image. I do assure you it is more apparent in reality! It also glows in the dark, a feature I have yet to test as it is safely put away in one of the little nooks in Timmber Wolf.

Yes, I am getting a souvenir from most places and forgot to tell you about the one from the Marine Corps museum which is of course the Marine mascot of a bulldog, complete with camouflage cap and jacket.

From our trip to the Rockwell museum, short as it was, perhaps only an hour and a half or so, I found wooden animal carvings and of course the one of the howling wolf was absolutely irresistable, now to find some where to display it in Timmber Wolf.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Family Matters

And now we come to Sunday, one of the focal points of the trip. I'd call it a family reunion except it wasn't or maybe it was, family reuniting that had never met before. Guess I should explain that a little. My sisters and I grew up knowing my father was adopted but we knew nothing more, I don't think he did either. In spite of doing genealogical research on our family since 1973, it wasn't until a couple of years ago that I broke that knowledge barrier and found out the names of his parents from his original birth certificate: Claude Dewey Crippen and Willa Margaret Haggarty.

Although my original focus was on the ancestry, I made contact with family members as well, several of whom had done DNA tests and were matches eliminating any doubt as to the parentage. This is where this post will get a bit tricky as I really do not want to use the names of  current living relatives on a post that at least technically is wide open to the internet.

Edith Crow Haggarty Crippen
It turns out that Willa Haggarty, daughter of Edward Haggarty and Edith Crow, had three children all together, two daughters: Lee Walker, older than my father; and Kristy Jensen, younger than my father. Whether or not the girls knew about my father's existence is unknown but certainly none of the current generations were aware that Willa had had a son in 1923 whom she gave up pretty much immediately for adoption.

Now, just to complicate things, Willa's mother Edith had divorced Ed Haggarty and remarried to Sam Crippen. Edith and Sam had a number of children including the mother of a bunch of second cousins all living in south central New York, back to them in a minute. Sam's youngest brother was Claude Dewey Crippen, my father's father, although it seems likely that Dewey never knew he had a son. So, I was in touch with Willa's half sister's children (and their spouses etc) and this is the family I was meeting for the first time face to face this past Sunday. These relatives were also related through Dewey's side as he was their mother's uncle. Confused yet?

We drove a half hour or so from our hotel and up into the New York hills (mountains?) for an afternoon get together. Frankly I was a nervous wreck. These people all knew each other well and I was the outsider in a sense although that feeling did not last long as I was warmly welcomed as family! When we eventually left I felt like I really had all this additional family, my own immediate relatives being a bit on the scanty side. I also had pictures and a genealogy pedigree chart!

I will be seeing more family members later on during our trip, first cousins both, one in Denver who is a child of Kristy's and one in Oregon who is a child of Lee's. I will never forget the get together this past Sunday and I can hardly wait to meet the others.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016


Some decisions turn out badly, some just okay and some turn out to be great! The idea for our communications and then the decision to rent a car for a few days for the New York section of the trip both turned out to be terrific. But I get just a bit ahead of myself ... we left off when we were departing Virginia through even more traffic and then once we were out of that we were on country roads, still highways I suppose but mostly one lane each way and it was like that all the way to our next destination, Mansfield, Pennsylvania.

In Mansfield we headed for the local Enterprise car rental which turned out to be a desk in the local Ford dealership! Anyway, there we picked up our rental which they upgraded to a Ford Edge SUV and Holly got to follow the Wolf out to our next stop, Bucktail RV Resort. This turned out to be up some dirt roads and hills and must have been quite interesting for Geoff driving Timmber Wolf!

A slight digression here ... as most recently discussed in I Can Hear You! we worked out communication attached to ball caps and for those who wondered, they worked out wonderfully especially in the noise and navigation nightmare of rush hour metropolitan Virginia traffic! We had also found that they worked at a short distance and were quite useful for the indoor and outdoor portions of hooking up and disconnecting at park sites. They also work wonderfully when one is in a car following (or being followed by) Timmber Wolf. I may not have been in the Wolf between the rental place and the RV Park but I sure heard Geoff's comments on the way!!!

Anyway, we arrived at Bucktail RV Resort, registered, and got parked in our space. Bucktail looks to be a great resort with activities for families and children but not really our cup of tea. Fortunately for our plans we were sleeping there that night and then heading off in the rental car for New York, leaving Timmber Wolf behind to rest at Bucktail until our return in a few days.

Saturday morning we headed out in the rental for our hotel in Elmira, New York, ... more country roads! But now we were not in the lumbering Timmber Wolf but in the relatively nimble Edge and I love driving country roads. We would definitely have been under a strain driving the Wolf on this portion of the trip and Geoff was ready for a break after the Virginia traffic.

We arrived at the hotel, the Holiday Inn Elmira Riverview, and got our room, ground floor with an accessible shower so our old bones didn't have to struggle getting in and out. After dinner out we relaxed in our room without having to do anything. The next morning I even though to look out the window where we can not actually see the river as there is a high bank but I caught some wildlife on camera.

This one was my first sight when I looked out and is included especially for my sister who saw a similar sight of a Canadian goose and her goslings when she visited us in Florida.
Just moments after the geese disappeared over the ridge, this groundhog waddled down the slope and then across, hunting delicacies for breakfast I imagine. I figured at this point I was done with the wildlife but then right after the groundhog waddled back over the hillside to vanish on the river side this pair of squirrels started squabbling across the ground. Now I don't know if they were fighting, or loving or playing but they kept at each other. It can be a bit hard to see that there are two rolling around on the ground but look closely.

On Sunday we drove on even smaller country roads out to see family, a subject for the next blog. All in all good decisions to do the communications system and to take a few days break and rent a car.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Time and distance

Well, since my last post certainly. Last heard from we were in South Carolina, back on schedule we left there Tuesday morning and were in North Carolina at Carolina Crossroads in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, by late afternoon. A very different RV park, it seems very new with landscaping still trying to grow into place. A bit of an issue getting the electric hook up to work but other than that a quiet night.

An easy departure the next morning and we were off to Virginia ... and lots more traffic!! We got there in the early afternoon with plenty of time to visit the United States Marine Museum in Triangle, Virginia. It's right off the interstate so very easy to get to. Fortunately they haven't completed the regular bus and RV parking area so we were only off to the side a bit, a lot closer than it will be in the future.

I am personally not that big on museums but this one was a must do since my father and his natural father were both Marines in WW2. Daddy was in the Pacific when I was born and his father was a prison guard at Portsmouth Naval Station in New Hampshire. They may not have known about each other but it is interesting that they were both Marines!

The USMC Museum is fascinating. They have the whole history of the Marine Corps laid out in chronological order with sections for the various segments of history from their formation for the Revolutionary War on up through various wars and military actions including my particular interest, World War II which has an extensive section with areas for both the European theater and the war in the Pacific. Even if you never get to the museum itself, check out the website which has a lot to offer.

This was PoGoGo's (my mobility scooter chair) first foray into actual use and I love it. Instead of having to focus on finding the next place I can sit down and take my time and focus instead on what is there. Slightly time consuming to unload and load it on it's carrier but worth every bit of it.

From there we battled rush hour traffic to find our park for the next two nights, Prince William Forest RV Camp, pretty much the opposite of the last park, this one is shoehorned into old forest with tall trees, mostly evergreen. I sure would not want to try those roads or spaces with anything much bigger than our little Timmber Wolf but it was a pretty place to spend a couple of nights.

The next morning we're off to more traffic and the NRA Firearms Museum and then the National Air and Space Museum. The Firearms Museum has huge displays of weapons throughout history many of which have individual histories as well as general development meaning. One of my favorites was a display showing the case and contents for the weapon carried by fighter pilots in WW2. The one on display was for German pilots but pilots of various nations carried similar equipment.

I also liked the huge variety of derringer type pistols and saw some fascinating steampunk style of weapons ... it is a wonder some of them even shoot! It was also interesting to see what some of the weapons I have read about in various novels and short stories look like. The staff here were very very nice and even made sure we knew about the cafeteria used by the employees but available to us as well where we had an excellent lunch.

The only downside to this stop was when we first arrived a man ran out to stop us from going the direction we were headed as it seems there was insufficient height for Timmber Wolf there. He directed us over to the right of the building to park and OOOPS ... low hanging small branches! Very noisy but apparently the only damage was the removal of our TV antenna thingie, not good but could have been much worse. They clearly get very little RV traffic at that location!

From here we battled traffic to the National Air and Space Museum where Geoffrey hiked over to it from the RV/bus parking area and spent a couple of hours wandering their huge hanger and collection of air and space craft. I on the other hand relaxed in Wolf, tidying up a little and reading. Afterwards it was back through traffic to the RV park and on to our next stop the next morning.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Suddenly ...

Well, I have heard that plans are something that makes God laugh! He must have  ... had several good snickers over our plans Sunday morning. Our plan was to spend Sunday putting that last few things into Timmber Wolf and getting everything all squared away for departure early Monday morning.

Twas not to be ... on Saturday afternoon we turned on  the refrigerator so that it would be cold for putting stuff in it Sunday. That evening the freezer section was icy cold but the lower refrigerator section was not but we figured it was bigger and had a bunch of that stuff in that was refrigerate AFTER opening so we just figured it would take longer. Silly us!

Sunday morning and it was still not cold in the refrigerator section and a second little light had come on above it that simply says "check" although no where in the manual does it say what to do about that stupid light although I finally found on the troubleshooting page that if it doesn't get cold enough it might be that it isn't level! Well, our driveway has a small slope to it and we knew that Wolf was not level. Since it was the ONLY thing we could think of decided to load up as quickly as possible and head on out figuring that if it fixed the problem by running level fine, if not we would have time on Monday to stop somewhere that could help. This basically meant dumping a bunch of stuff on board taking time only to put it where it wouldn't become a flying object during travel. Freezer stuff was put in the freezer and refrigerator stuff was put in the frig accompanied by several of those frozen ice thingies to help keep it cooler in there.
By about 10AM we were off! That second light stayed on though and was still sitting there staring at us when we decided to stop for lunch (at a Captain D's - seafood in a fast food fashion). I figured let's just shut the frig off completely for the 20 minutes or so we'll be having lunch and see what happens when we restart it after ... BINGO, no check light!

On the way we called our Monday night destination to be sure they had room for us Sunday night so here we are at New Green Acres RV Park in Walterboro, South Carolina, arriving about 4PM. Then came the great debate, continue on north on Monday splitting the next section into two easier parts or stay for the day and spend it organizing and sorting out things and making no significant changes in the rest of the plans ... we opted for the latter and as soon as I wake up a little more we'll be sorting things out.

Besides it's a pretty place here, mostly quiet but very near I95 which one can hear slightly in the background, more like wind in the trees. Hmmm, down time right at the beginning of the trip!

Oh ... we did have time back on Friday to add our sign to the back of the Wolf. Now everyone will know who it is and where we are from. PS: if you look carefully at the right edge of the image you can see Geoff's reflection as he takes the shot.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Betwixt and Between

Otherwise known as trying to be patient until it is time to go! And yet on pins and needles about whether the dealer will have Timmber Wolf ready to go this coming week. Supposedly we were to have it back on Wednesday June 1st but even the 2nd or 3rd would do. Later than  that means sometime the week of the 6th and our departure date is first thing in the morning on the 6th so delaying that long would not be good. Last heard from they were “waiting on parts” an ambiguous phrase that makes me very nervous!

Most of what could be done ahead of time has been done with a few items needing to be done to Wolf when we have it back and then all the last minute stuff to be loaded on board: clothes; technical items like the Puppy Pad (RV GPS), the laptops, etc.; and of course the perishables for the frig and freezer. We have lists of it all so supposedly nothing gets left behind.

We have the plans and the lists but Timmber Wolf is held hostage at the dealers and even if we had it here we couldn’t leave yet since I have a doctor’s appointment on Friday but none of that makes me any less anxious to get on the road.

Looking at the five day weather forecast, rain and thunderstorms start Saturday afternoon and persist through our scheduled early morning departure on Monday so loading is going to be fun (read WET!) if we don’t get it done by mid-day on Saturday. At least by the look of it on and the 5 day forecast, we will run out of the rain on Tuesday.

Geoff says I have to go ahead and get used to using my laptop instead of this desktop so after I finish this it is going to get interesting for a bit … pardon any computer awkwardness in the near future! One of the things that helps is we have set up Drop Box on the computers. For those who are not familiar with it, Drop Box lets you set up a cloud space where you can keep whatever files you want access to from more than one computer. I’ve put the various files that have to do with our trip like the spreadsheets for fuel mileage and the itinerary plans in the Drop Box folder and it can be accessed not just from my desk top computer where I originally set it up but also from my laptop or Geoffrey’s or even from my tablet (a new toy I am not very good at yet).

A few minutes have passed and now I am on my laptop … when I opened this it insisted that this document is “locked by Holly Timm” and I cannot edit it! It goes on to tell me I can open it as a different file and “merge the changes” later a function I can NOT seem to find anywhere!! Arrgh!! This old lady is realizing that she has to learn a bunch of new things!