Friday, October 28, 2011



Well, as usual, I put off my last post of the trip.  I arrived in Oswego around 3:30 after a 265 mile drive from the campground.  Since I was parking the trailer for the winter (boo) I spent a bit more time getting it in place.  I'm going to have to add some blacktop to the left side of the parking space - right now the trailer door opens on the lawn which turned to mud as I unloaded the trailer.

All in all, a good trip.  I do wish I started earlier, but I did get some good color in most places.  I drove around 1800 miles, almost all towing with an average of 14.9MPG.  I did discover that I can travel a little more than 57mph without a MPG drop, at least on interstates.  Since I avoid them most of the time, I found 57mph was good for secondary roads. For the trip home I stuck to I 81, and 60mph without a drop in MPG.

I have to admit winter is here.  I winterized the trailer yesterday since the prediction was for well below freezing temperatures overnight.  Even here next to Lake Ontario it was 30°F this morning. So, travel is probably out until the spring. I'm currently planning on another trip to the West.  I have already made a reservation for a fiberglass trailer gathering in Oregon in July, and I want to hit some of the areas I missed last summer as well as revisit some of the places I've been.

Until the next post!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Lickdake Campground, Jonestown, PA

Site 52, Lickdale Campground, Jonestown, PA
Not much interesting today (or probably tomorrow) - it is just a travel day. 200 miles north on I 81 heading back to Oswego with about 200 miles left to home.

Stopped for the night (actually, afternoon) at site 52, Lickdale Campground. A full service site for $33.25 including tax. I even have cable TV, although I don't use it. I'll warm up the left over Chinese from last night for tonight's dinner. All I have for photos is the campground picture.

Until Tomorrow!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Luray Caverns, VA

Luray Caverns, Luray, VA

I got an early start (well, early for me - out of the campground by 8:30) and headed up I81. Actually, it was an interesting drive to get to I 81. The road(s) between the Blue Ridge Parkway & I81 kept getting narrower & narrower. I was waiting for them to turn to dirt, but they didn't. Still, very narrow, lots of curves, hills, and no guard rail edges with long drops below!

It kept getting warmer & warmer as I drove north. By the time I hit Luray, it was 76F. I looked up a couple of area campgrounds and the Riverside seems to fit my style far better than Jellystone or the Luray Resort. It is right along the Shenandoah River and, as you can see from the campground photo, I'm parked on the edge. Only 20 amps, but I switched the water heater to gas & set the electric heater to low, and everything works.

After setting up the trailer I headed for Luray Caverns. Carol & I were here with the Guidos in 1996, but about all I remembered from that visit was the reflections on the underground lake, and the organ that played stalactites. So, I paid my $21.00 (a $2.00 discount for being over 62) and headed into the cavern.
The cave has many beautiful formations, but also has a "worn" look, probably because up until the 70's visitors were allowed to break off & take home stalactites & stalagmites. It doesn't have the "raw" look that Wind & Crystal caves in South Dakota, but is very much worth a visit on its own right.

By the way, if you are handicapped, it is possible to go on the cave tour in a power scooter. They have an elevator somewhere (I never saw it) to get you past the entryway stairs, and the entire tour is paved. We did have to help push the scooter up some of the steeper sections, but all in all, it worked.

I added a couple more photos of the cavern & campground on my Lakeshore Images page for today  - more photos at a page I put together just for the cave: Luray Caverns, VA.

I got out of the cavern around 4:30, & decided I didn't want to cook. Since it has been awhile since I have had Chinese, I punched food/Chinese into the GPS & picked up my favorite (Orange Chicken) at the China Wok in Luray. It was excellent, better that my favorite Chinese restaurant in Oswego. I'm glad I made that decision since it started to rain just as I got back to the campground.

So, I'm putting the page together. I'm not sure it will post - the Verizon data connection is very slow here although I have a good AT&T signal.

Until tomorrow!

Mabry Mill, Meadow of Dan, VA

Mabry Mill, Meadow of Dan, VA (Blue Ridge Parkway)
Since I was not able to post yesterday, you get two today!

Another sunny day! I left Babcock State Park & headed southeast, planning to stay in the Meadows of Dan Campground near the Mabry Mill. It was only a 3 hour drive & I got here by 2:00. I'm set up in Site 3, a full hookup site for $28.00 plus tax. They have a heated bathroom - I'll be able to take a shower without waiting until the warmest part of the day!

I made the short drive to the mill (about 2 miles from the campground) and it was even more crowded than the last time I was here. Of course it is a Sunday, and in the middle of the afternoon, so I guess that is to be expected. I took a couple of photographs, but plan to go back around sunset. Hopefully there will be better light and fewer people. I couldn't even get a parking spot during the afternoon visit - had to park in the bus & overfill parking.

I do wish I had a time machine to go back a week or two. The leaves at the mill are well past peak. Oh well, like Babcock State Park in WV, being late gives me an excuse to come back earlier next year.

When I took the indoor/outdoor thermometer out of the overhead storage cabinet the inside temperature looks OK, but the outdoor just showed the temperature when I left Babcock. Since I knew it was around 60°F, I went to get the outside transmitter out of the propane tanks housing to change the batteries. Only problem is the transmitter wasn't there! Somehow the drive to VA managed to bounce it off the top of one of the tanks & out the bottom. I managed to drive close to 20,000 miles without losing it but it was a bumpy ride in sections of the drive. I'll have to see if it is possible to purchase just the outside sensor since I like the model - an Acurite Model 1031.

I had a frozen pizza for dinner (well, actually it wasn't frozen when I ate it; the toaster oven took care of that. I did cook it outside the trailer - I try to avoid cooking anything that leaves a smell inside. I guess it looked a bit strange with a toaster oven going outside the trailer, but it worked.

I don't have AT&T cell coverage here at the campground or in the park, but there does seem to be a decent Verizon data connection available at 1.28Mbps. My mail downloaded and I can view my web page. Don't know about uploading today's page - I won't try that until after taking this evenings photos, and Verizon's data connections (like everyone else's) slows down in the evening.

I'll post this now and add the photos tonight (if I can).

Well, I went back & it was just as crowded and the leaves didn't jump back on the trees but I did take a few photos. There must have been a concert - I saw a number of musicians leaving with their instruments as I walked in from the overfill parking. There were also a bunck of antique cars. I got a photo of one as they were leaving, and added a photo of the campsite. To see them, check my Lakeshore Images page for today.

Not my best photos of the mill (please ignore the blurry car in the background as well as the "Your Speed is ___ MPH" sign on the side of the road) - I like last year's better, but I do have to get here a little earlier in the season.

Until tomorrow!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Babcock State Park, WV - Day 2

The Glade Creek Grist Mill, Babcock State Park, West Virginia

It's a beautiful day. Although it went down to 34°F last night, a unfamiliar orange yellow glob appeared in the eastern sky. Yes, the sun and for the first day of the trip! Since it was still pretty cold I decided to put off a shower until this afternoon. 

I drove out to the mill to try for some sun lit images. Since it was a Saturday, they opened the mill. They also started to run water through the mill race. The creek level is too low for actually milling cornmeal, but they let enough through to turn the wheel.

Because it was a weekend and, because the mill was open, it was difficult to get shots without the crowd, but I tried. So, if you want to see some sun lit photos of the Grist Mill, check today's Lakeshore Images page.

After spending the morning shooting the mill I drove through some of the park roads. Found a pretty lake that was still showing some fall color. After that it was back to the campground for a shave & shower. Although it had warmed up to a little over 50°F, it was still a very "brisk" exit from the hot water. Still, it is nice to be clean!

I drove to Rainelle to pick up some of the groceries I managed to forget to pack (such as mustard) and some fresh fruit, then back to the campground. I almost forgot what US 60 was like. Beautiful hills & valleys, but not the road to haul the trailer. Just the 11 miles to Rainelle included 2 miles of 8% grades.

A quick dinner of hot dogs & Grandma Browns Sauce Pan Beans (hey, it isn't always steak!) and I worked on posting today's pages.

Since I did get some nice sun lit photos of the mill, I'll probably leave tomorrow & head back to Oswego. I might try for the Mabry Mill on the way (Yes, I know it isn't really on the way!)

Until tomorrow.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Babcock State Park, WV

Along US 19, West Virginia

The rain finally stopped during the night, however it started again around 9:00AM. It isn't hard enough to keep you in the trailer, but still enough to get everything wet. I continued down I79 until the GPS moved me onto US 19. Last year I hit the area 1 week after the New River Gorge Bridge base jumping weekend - this year it was 2 weeks ago. Some day I'll have to get here during the weekend.

I did stop to photograph the fall colors at a viewpoint on US 19 & made a panorama of it (the image above).

I reached the campground at Babcock around 3:00 & had my choice of sites - there was only one other camper in the park. Now (around 5:30) it is starting to fill up - We now have 6 sites filled!

After setting up (which didn't take much time - the sites are electric only, but they do have 30 amps available) I headed over to the grist mill. 

For those that are not familiar with the Glade Creek Grist Mill at Babcock State Park, it is the most photographed mill in the state, maybe in the country (although the near by Mabry Mill is suppose to have that distinction). In any case, I spent about an hour taking some photographs. I'm here two days before the time I was here last year but there is even less color than then. I guess I'm going to have to start these fall trips sooner - I've been late at every stop! Still, there is some nice color in the park.

Glade Creek Grist Mill, Babcock State Park, WV

Viewpoint - Babcock State Park

I took a couple of photos on the road to the playground & picnic area, then headed back to the trailer to make dinner. Since it wasn't raining, I cooked my steak & broccoli, and thought about a shower. It is 48°F, and although there is hot water in the bathrooms, there isn't any heat. Since I'm here for at least 2 days hoping the sun will come out, I'm going to wait until tomorrow afternoon to hit the showers!

I do have a slow, but usable connection here at the campground so this should be posted on time.
Until tomorrow...

Chestnut Ridge Park & Campground, Morgantown, WV

It rained off & on all night as well as the morning while I hooked up. Matilda, the maid of the GPS suggested heading down PA 487 then west on 118. For those not familiar with Ricketts Glen, they have an advisory on their web page as well as most of their camping literature suggesting that all large trailers use the north entrance (PA 487). Of course that is difficult at present since a bridge on 487 is out just a few miles north of the campground and the alternative is Dutch Mountain road described yesterday. The reason for coming in from the north? PA 487 from Red Rock goes up a 2 mile 18% grade. I drove down it in 2nd & 3rd gear riding the brakes, but made it with no problems. Was tempted to turn around & go back up just to say I did, but thought again and kept going.

Red Rock is interesting. There is a corner grocery store that has your basic needs, including the least expensive gas in the area ($3.43). I also got my morning 2nd cup cup of coffee & headed south. Other than that, that seems to be all of Red Rock. I also never saw a red rock, a popular name for southwestern towns that actually have lots of red rocks.

The drive was in & out of rain the whole way to West Virginia. It also got colder as I went south! Not suppose to happen! I left Ricketts Glen at 55°F & hit Morgantown at 42°F at 3:00. Oh well, at least the campground has water & electric. I'm in site 50 at the Chestnut Ridge Park & Campground. Another rustic public park much like Evergreen Trails (my infamous first night), just the type I like. It would be nicer if the sun was out & it was 80°F, but it is October. I checked the predictions for Morgantown, VA (the closest city) and the overnight low is 40°F. Since it is already 41 at 4:30, I don't know how accurate that is but I did hook up to water. Hope I won't have a frozen hose in the morning!

I'm sitting in the trailer with the electric heater going waiting for it to get warm enough to slow down so I can start the toaster oven to cook a pot pie. My heater is an old (1986) Pelonis Disk Furnace. The reason I like it for camping is you can adjust the wattage. Most electric heaters give you a choice of 1500 or 750 watts (or close to that). The Pelonis has two modes. The first is automatic. It starts at full 1500 watts, and as the trailer warms up drops the wattage to what ever is necessary to maintain the set temperature. Much better than a on/off thermostat since it drops your power draw to the minimum necessary to maintain temperature. The second mode is useful on low power hookups. You dial the wattage. If you are on a 15 amp service you can set it as low as 300 watts. Although they still make Pelonis disk heaters, I don't think this design is still available.

Not much in the way of photos today. The leaf color was all over the place on the drive down, but in many places wonderful. Not all that photographic since the sides of the road usually have power lines and other junk in the way and there aren't many places to pull off, but I included a couple along US 220. I also included a photo of Site 50 at the campground.

I'll have to wait for a better internet connection to post this - although the Verizon connection is listed as 469.17 Kbps, it is too slow to post with either Dreamweaver (my Lakeshore Images pages) or Blogger (Jon's Journeys). Actually, I think my router lied to me - I just reconnected to the Verizon network & the data rate is now 78.73 Kbps , which explains why I'm having problems posting. It will just have to wait until tomorrow!

It's tomorrow & I'm posting from a rest stop on I 79 in WV.  So, Until Later!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Ricketts Glen, Day 2

Ricketts Glen State Park, PS

I woke up to the patter of rain on the roof. Hard to describe it as rain, more like a heavy mist that turned to rain drops when it fell off the overhead trees. After breakfast I headed to a grocery store to pick up a steak for dinner. Not sure I'll cook it - if it is still raining I'll probably have soup cooked inside. I also uploaded yesterday's pages to my website & my Blogger site - Jon's Journeys.
It was still misting, but no serious rain so I decided I could shoot the other side of Ricketts Glen without worrying about shooting into the sun. I drove to the Rose Lake parking lot & started down the Ganoga Trail. I met one other photographer (he is in one of the photos below) and we did our best to keep out of each others way. Again many pretty cascades & small waterfalls. I did include one of the main waterfalls since they are what the park is known for.
On previous trips I started from the bottom by driving to the parking lot on PA 118 at the bottom of the stream. It is a much better way to do the falls trail since the return trip (when you are worn out) is all downhill. Still, I made it back to the top after hiking & shooting down to "Where Waters Meet". While there I met a mother & her daughter shooting Nikons. Talked a bit then headed back up the trail.
I was going to relax under the awning, cooling off after the hike, but the mist has turned to rain & the wind picked up enough that the rain was blowing under it. So, I'm sitting in the trailer putting together today's page. I'll probably read for awhile, hoping the rain will stop so I can cook my steak.
Here are a few photos from today, more at today's Lakeshore Images Post.

Current plans are to head south towards Babcock State Park in West Virginia. I doubt I'll get all the way there in one day, so I'll probably stop somewhere in northern WV.
Till Then!

Ricketts Glen State Park, PA

Ricketts Glen State Park, PA

Well, I'm in a much better mood tonight. Maybe it is because I didn't break my trailer today! I even managed to bend the steps back in shape enough to get them out. I'll still need to replace them, but at least I don't have to hop over them to get in & out of the trailer.

Although the leaf color seems to be a bit past peak at Letchworth, the colors were beautiful along the drive to Ricketts Glen.

The last part of the drive to Ricketts Glen was interesting. A bridge on PA Rt 487 was out about 15 miles from the park,and 487 is the only reasonable way into the place from the north. I stopped in a gas station in Dushore to ask how to get there since my GPS kept telling me to get me back on 487 before the missing bridge. Found a guy talking with a park ranger who gave me directions. He gave me directions to follow Dutch Mountain Road (Ct Rt 1002), mentioned it was a rough road, about 3 miles dirt, but he looked at my trailer and said it would be OK. He was right that it was rough - much of it at 20mph, even the paved parts, and my GPS still kept trying to get me off it & back on 487 before the bridge, but it saved going 50 miles out of the way to get there.

I stopped in the office at Ricketts Glen to get a site & since there were no reservations on hold, I was told to go find one I liked & come back. They are all primitive, back in sites (no water, sewer or electric) but many are very pretty. I picked site 105 because it had some sun (to recharge the batteries through the solar panel) and lots of beach trees that were still in color. 

I made a quick stir fried chicken & vegetable dinner over rice & headed out to the falls. I started around 3:30 - the light was just starting to warm up. Although the beach trees are in great yellow color, the reds & oranges of the maple trees seems to have past. Looking at the leaf drop on the ground, I'm a little late for the peak here at Ricketts Glen. Color change has been running late in the Oswego area, and I'm here a week earlier than last year, but it looks like a week earlier would have been better. Still, there is some areas of great color along the stream.

I've decided that I like taking pictures of cascades rather than the waterfalls. Not sure why, but they are more interesting. I hiked down Glen Leigh to Reynolds Falls taking photos of almost every foot of the stream. It was crowded - I often had to wait for people to get out of the way of the shot. Tomorrow I'll probably go down the other side (Ganoga Glen) around the same time. Early in the day the sun will be into the lens when aimed upstream, the direction I like to shoot.

Lots more photos at today's post to Lakeshore Images, although I probably won't be able to post either this or the Lakeshore page until tomorrow since there is no cell coverage in the park.

Till Tomorrow!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fall Colors Trip

An old house along Allegany County Road 15 (Short Tract Road)

Well, even though the fall colors don't seem to be cooperating this year, I decided to give it a try.  I left Oswego this morning heading to Letchworth State Park.  The color change was just starting when I was there in September, and, unfortunately,  it really hasn't gotten any better.

I'm in site 11A at The Evergreen Trails Campground.  Although it is a full service site, since I'm only using electricity I was given the electric only price - $24.00.  Finding campgrounds that are still open is a pain, but this looks like a nice rustic place that would be great in the summer, and works fine for a cold weather visit to Letchworth (their campground has closed for the season).

It was an interesting start to the trip.  I drove past site 11A to check some of the others since the owners said take anything that doesn't have a RV on it.  It would have been a much better day if I didn't.  I used a pull through to turn around to get back to 11A, and managed to drop the trailer passenger side wheel in a ditch. There was a good sized rock on the forward edge that both kept me from pulling the trailer out (even in 4 wheel drive) and pretty much destroyed the steps.  I also managed to knock off the storage container for the drain hose.

After walking back to the office and explaining the problem, the owner got out his tractor, a bunch of boards, a jack, and a bunch of firewood to fill in under the tire as we lifted the trailer.  I did get it out thanks to lots of help, and, of course, a bunch of embarrassment! The owner & his helper both tried to make me feel better by telling me that it happens all the time, and I have to admit that they were very well prepared to get me out, but still, my Escape now needs a new set of steps!  When I think of some of the campsites I managed to get the trailer into without damage on the summer trip, I do feel a bit stupid! I did get the hose storage container back on.

After getting set up in Site 11A, I drove to Letchworth (about 20 miles away).  It rained all day yesterday, and the Genesee River looks like it.  Muddy color, and very large amounts of water going over the falls.  I also got there late enough that the sun is behind the falls (into the lens) making photographs difficult.  I did get a photo of the railroad trestle that I liked, but all those of the falls were not worth posting here.  Some other photos on my Lakeshore Images Page.

All in all, not the best start to a trip.  I hope it gets better or I'm going to cut it short and head back to Oswego!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Chittenango Falls State Park, NY

Chittenango Creek, Chittenango Falls State Park, NY

It's Fall, a beautiful time to visit Chittenango Falls, one of my favorite waterfalls. It may not be he highest, or have the most volume of water passing over it, but the beauty of the falls can't be beat. A close second is McArthur-Burney Falls in California, but that is thousands of miles away, and I'll bet it doesn't match the Fall colors here at Chittenango.

On the way to the falls we stopped at Fairhaven State Park to take a couple of photos of the swans on one of the ponds in the park. My friends Dick & Anne Dougherty saw over 20 gathered together last night but today they were broken up in small groups. Still, I managed to get a photo of one posing for the picture. I hope to get out for more on another day. 

After that it was off to Chittenango for the falls. Not the sunniest of days, but that usually helps for photos of waterfalls. Too much sun provides too much contrast. Soft, cloudy days work best, although they don't help with the color of the leaves. Almost Spring like conditions - lots of water going over the falls; too much for my taste - I like it with less. We have had lots of rain lately which has also held back the nornal leaf color change. Anyway, here are some images of the falls and Chittenango Creek:

A Swan at Fairhaven State Park, NY

Chittenango Falls

Chittenango Creek
More photos at Lakeshore Images.

Tomorrow I start packing up the trailer for a trip starting Monday following the Fall Colors.  First stop will probably be heading west to Letchworth State Park, then down to Ricketts Glen, PA.

Not sure this is going to be the best year for it - we are having lots of rain in the east & that tends to mute the color change, but I want to make at least one last trip before putting the trailer away for the winter.

Till Monday!

Thursday, October 6, 2011


One of the things all RV owners usually end up doing is making changes or modifications to their trailer/RV. Even after ordering the Escape 17B with just about every option available & adding a rear view camera & cell phone antenna & amplifier at the factory, I've added a few after living with the trailer for a couple of months.

First, I added a Progressive Industries 30 amp Hardwired Surge Protector (EMS-HW30C).  I wasn't all that worried about surges (though I probably should be) but aded it to detect & shut off the power to the trailer when the supply voltage dropped to under 106V.  It has a bypass remote switch, so if I'm not using the air conditioner or other device that is damaged by low voltage I can turn it off.

I didn't order a microwave with the trailer since I preferred the oversized refrigerator, and found that I didn't miss it at all.  I did miss having an oven and really like the Crusinart TOB 195 Toaster Oven I have at home.  Since I rarely used the convection feature, I ordered the TOB 155, the same oven without convection.  This is a fairly large oven ( will toast 6 slices of bread) so I will be able to make pies, cook a chicken, and just about anything I'd make at home as long as I have AC.  It draws 1450 watts, so running it off an inverter is out unless I greatly improve my batteries & solar panel.

I've added a 12V fan to the back of the refrigerator compartment - I had problems keeping it cool in desert heat and the fall helped.  I've also added a piece of furnace filter to the inside of the outside lower door of the refrigerator to help prevent the flame from blowing out when driving.

My favorite addition is a section of strip LEDs I purchased from Bulb America.  This is a 16.4' (15 meter) length of Cool White LEDs that have individual LEDs spaced about 2" apart.  It can be cut between every 3rd LED.  I ran a strip under the awning that provides an interesting night light:
LED Lighting Strip

Of course, when I was done I had a fairly long strip left over.  I managed to solve another problem with the trailer - seeing inside the upper storage compartments.  Since my interior lighting is under the cabinets, they don't provide any light inside the storage bays.  Even during the day it is sometimes difficult to see in the backs of the cabinets; at night is it impossible.  My solution during the summer was to "buy" a half dozen Harbor Freight LED flashlights (they give them away with a coupon, although now they require a purchase) & I have a bunch of them. I left one in each compartment.  It worked, but sometimes I'd end up with two in one bin and none in the one I was looking in, they eventually need batteries or fail (after all they were free) so I was looking for a better solution.  

I made up a bunch of cabinet length strips from the LED strip I used for the outside lighting, added a switch for each cabinet, found a power source for each and now have great lighting:


Interior Lighting

So, that is about as far as I've gone so far.  I do have plans to add a permanently wired inverter.  About all I currently use my portable 250W modified sine wave inverter for is to grind coffee beans for a morning & evening cup, but I'd like to add the ability to make coffee with my drip coffee maker when running on batteries.  Although the coffee maker draws 550 watts, it is only for a couple of minutes - I'm fairly sure I could make up the battery draw down with the current solar panel, but I'd need to add heavier wiring to the batteries and a larger inverter since its input current would be around 50 amps @ 12V.  I might even get a pure sine wave inverter so I could use my electric blanket to warm up the sheets prior to hitting the sack.  The one I'm using only draws 1 amp & I usually only run it for an hour or so before I get tired of the heat.

So, that's what is happening.  I'm still trying to decide if the Fall color change is going to be worth chasing when my local commitments are finished on the 15th.

Til then!