Thursday, August 31, 2006

What Next?

The travel gods are still angry with us for taking that two month break apparently. Our DISH tv service has gone on the fritz. At first we thought our loss of signal was due to the heavy rains of Tuesday night, but Wednesday morning after the skies cleared we still had no signal. So Denny removed the satellite dish from its moorings, cleaned all the contacts, replaced and realigned the dish and voila', we had a signal and service. The tv was turned off and we went about our business until dinner time when we watch the evening news. No signal. Denny checked the connections, replaced one of the cables-nothing. I called tech support and we went through all the hoops in an attempt to get the signal. Nothing. We stumped the gal when we got to the point that the system info screen said we had no satellite at all. Find a retail store, she said, and make a service appointment. Ha. The closest one is forty miles away; we are CAMPING, folks!

We are being tested. We will prevail.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

What Amazing Video Clips You Can Find on the 'net

What A Clip - video powered by Metacafe

A Really Good Illlusion

While surfing the 'net using the StumbleUpon extension with Firefox (a nice feature) I came across this website and videoclip. I'm not sure of the name of the show but if the quality of the acts are on par with this one, then I should have been watching it.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Head for the hills

It's just starting to get light enough to see that the rain is causing large rivulets to run down the roadway. The weather forecast is for up to two inches of rain today, ending at 11 AM. All I can say is, thank goodness we're parked on a terraced hillside instead of one of the more scenic sites by the lake, because those sites will be bogs by this afternoon.

We did make it to the campground by late afternoon yesterday. The leaking gray water tank was caused by a plastic valve that somehow lost a large chunk of the interior rim, breaking the seal. The staff at Myers RV in Hamburg, NY went out of their way to get us on the road quickly after we told them our situation (the rig is our home, we're not from the area and we're holding a cat hostage in the truck). The service rates are a bit higher than others we've paid, but the service and the friendliness of the entire staff made the experience more bearable.

Naturally we had to look at the newest motorhomes while we were waiting as a time-killing measure. Naturally we found one we fell in love with too. The Fleetwood folks have developed a 2007 Bounder that has a slideout that extends from just behind the driver's seat to the rear of the coach, which means the entire interior is open to view making the rig seem huge. We owned a Bounder from 1994 to 2000 and it was not only a reliable vehicle but it had everything we wanted (except a lot of interior space since it was manufactured pre-slideouts). So if I want to go back to work, I can get one. Hmm, I guess that's not going to happen! But it is a very attractive, well designed and nicely functional rig. I guess it's time to start buying lottery tickets again.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Time to move on

This morning we'll be heading south, although we'll detour to Camping World to have them check out and hopefully repair the leaking gray water tank. Since we may be tied up all day or even stuck overnight (worst case scenario) I'll leave you with The Dacron's flash travel blog which is funny, weird and full of great pictures. Bring your sense of humor with you and enjoy the journey.

I'll update when we're finally settled in at E. Otto, NY.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

A Soon to be Rainy Lazy Sunday

It's the last opportunity for the grandkids to swim here at the campground and of course, it's going to rain. Last weekend it was too cold, windy and dreary for them to swim so they were greatly anticipating this weekend. We'll cross our fingers.

Therefore, today's Lazy Sunday post will be of water in its more glorious forms. Stay dry!

Biscayne National Park in Florida is 95% underwater, making it wonderful for those with boats. There is a terrific visitor center for those of us who travel by car. Posted by Picasa

The Upper (Big) Manitou Falls at Pattison State Park in upper Wisconsin near Superior. This is the tallest waterfall in the state. Posted by Picasa

The long walk through the Flume Gorge at the Franconia Notch State Park in New Hampshire is well worth it for the scenery alone. The Flume is a waterfall. Posted by Picasa

Everyone does the lighthouse shot of Peggy's Cove, but this is Peggy's Cove. Posted by Picasa

The Mackinac Bridge, viewed from the Mackinaw City campground. This same view was beautiful at night. Posted by Picasa

A secluded cove along Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore on the west coast of lower Michigan. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Lockport Locks/Erie Canal Cruise

Over the past couple of years Denny and I have stayed at campgrounds located on either side of Lockport and we've somehow managed to miss going on the Erie Canal Cruise based in the city. This year I told Denny it was time for us to try the cruise. I had long been interested in the Erie Canal after seeing a segment of the canal and a lock at Carillon Park. Ohio's Erie canal system was damaged and large portions destroyed in the early nineteen hundreds after a major flood so New York's Erie Canal was the next best thing to tour.

Digging on the canal started in 1817 (all by hand) and the Erie Canal opened in 1825. Stretching from the Hudson River in Troy, NY to Tonawanda/Buffalo at the Niagara River, the Erie Canal is 383 miles long and when originally built had a series of 83 locks. Today there are 35 locks that aid boats in navigating the 571 foot difference in elevation between the two rivers. When first dug, the canal was 40 feet wide and 4 feet deep. That changed over the years as the canal was eventually widened to 80 feet and a depth of 12 feet.

The cruise takes about 2 hours and the captain of the boat explains not only the history of the canal and lock system but some of the local history of Lockport. He points out several areas of interest along the banks of the canal and explains the system of drawbridges that rise straight up from the roadways instead of pivoting from one end.

While the Erie Canal system of locks certainly can't compare with those of Sault Ste. Marie at the Canadian/Michigan border for size and impressiveness, the cruise is a pleasant way to spend the afternoon. Autumn might be a lovely time to try the tour as the canal is lined with trees so the fall colors would add to the experience. You might consider also visiting the Lockport Caves at the same time to make a day of it; we're saving that for the next visit.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Here we're waiting for the waters to fill the lock's compartment so we can go to the second lock. We will rise 49 feet by traversing the two locks. Posted by Picasa

This shows the gates of the lock starting to close behind us. Note the water line about three feet below the top of the concrete walls; that's how much the water level rose as we sat within the lock compartment. Posted by Picasa

Looking down the Erie Canal, heading for the Niagara River. Posted by Picasa

The drawbridge at Exchange St. in its normal position for road vehicle traffic. Posted by Picasa

Notice that the drawbridge rises straight up from the roadway instead of raising from one side or the other. Both ends raise straight up into the air. The boat's captain said that sometimes driver's of cars waiting respond by raising a finger in the air. Hmm. Posted by Picasa

Going under the "straight up" drawbridge at Exchange St. in Lockport. Posted by Picasa

When a young man from England wanted to get married to a young lady from Lockport, he couldn't afford to return to England, so he built a replica of the church in his hometown here. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Caching at Wilson-Tuscarora State Park

Denny volunteered to take me geocaching yesterday so I had to decide which direction to head. We've arrived in this area from the west, south and east so going north was a pretty obvious decision. From this campground, that leads you to the Wilson-Tuscarora State Park and Lake Ontario.

The Wilson-Tuscarora State Park emcompasses 395 acres of woods and marsh along the shoreline of Lake Ontario. The sign board showed that there are four miles of hiking trails and by the time we located the three geocaches planted within the park I think we had walked most of them. The park has been left in its natural state and it is obvious that most folks come here for the fishing or to swim at the small sandy beach as we didn't meet up with a soul on the hiking trail. Part of the reason for that may have been the voracious mosquitoes which gleefully attacked us as the only blood-bearing creatures in sight.

After logging all three finds we stopped by the shoreline for the mandatory "we were here" picture and came across a couple cleaning fish. Since they were already well into the fileting process I asked what type of fish they had caught and the wife told me that had caught Chinook and Steelhead. Salmon in the Great Lakes-who knew? Checking online I found that salmon have been stocked in all the Great Lakes. It's pretty apparent that we don't fish, right? But we do learn a lot while traveling, that's for sure.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

And the Beat Goes On

The grandkids visited over the weekend and thus we discovered a leak in our gray water holding tank. There are no sewer hookups at this campground so our holding tanks filled up during the week and with the grandkids over much more water was used because, as you know, kids like to run water. You see, normally at campgrounds with sewer hook ups the valves are pulled open on the holding tanks for the shower and kitchen tanks so the water just flows straight into the sewer and is not held in the tanks. Sitting outside chatting with Steve and Angela we noticed water running down near the wheels of the rig-not a good sign.

We have arranged to detour to the Meyers RV/Camping World store in Hamburg when we leave here on Monday to have them see if the leak can be repaired or if they will have to pull the tank and replace it. This is where being a fulltimer presents a problem. Our home needs repaired so where do we stay? Often, repair shops will pull your rig back out of the shop in the evening if repairs will take longer than one day and allow you to stay in your rig overnight, often having electrical hookups for power. Add to that the complication of having a pet-what do we do with the cat all day while waiting for repairs? This is a new problem for us, although Denny had to deal with it when I was taken to the emergency room after my fall. At that time, Patches spent the 4 hours waiting in the truck while Denny checked on her frequently. This time we'll have to play it by ear depending on the outside temperatures and whether or not they allow pets in their waiting room. We've reserved a motel room just in case. These are the things you don't think about when you decided you are ready for a pet again. And you should, if you are a fulltimer. Because stuff happens. Apparently frequently, in our case. Sigh.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Early Lazy Sunday

Sitting here watching the sun rise in a big orange ball prompted this morning's Lazy Sunday photos. Rising at 5:30 or so each day I often see lovely sunrises, but they are often marred by power lines or telephone poles as this one was today. Add to that the fact that I don't like going outside in my bathrobe to take pictures and you'll understand why you don't see too many sunrise photos here.

Instead, you get more sunsets today. If they are repeats, so be it. Sometimes between the blog, the website and my personal photo albums I lose track. And since it's Lazy Sunday, I'm too lazy to go back and double-check what I've posted in the past. Ah well.

The grandkids are coming today so we'll be playing in the pool and looking for turtles in the pond. Have a good one.

One of my favorite shots of a sunset, taken at Gunnision, Colorado. Posted by Picasa

Experimenting with new photo software meant I now have a permanent title emblazened on the photo. I no longer use that software.  Posted by Picasa

No fancy filters here, just natural gorgeous Arizona sunsets. This one was taken near a field of lettuce in Yuma, AZ. Posted by Picasa

In addition to scenic sunsets, this rv park in Gadsden, AL set up a terrific drive-through display of Christmas lights for the general public to enjoy.  Posted by Picasa

No need to explain where this photo was taken, right? We were camped at the Casino Queen RV Park on the Illinois side of the river which allowed me to take this sunset shot. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Old Fort Niagara

Most people coming to the Buffalo area visit Niagara Falls. The falls are stunning in the daytime and nighttime both and to be fully experienced should be seen in the summer and winter. But there's much more to see and do in the area and one of the more interesting and historical stops would be Old Fort Niagara on the Niagara River.

The first fortification in the area was built by the French in 1679 and was known as Fort Condi. After an agreement to build a trading post was made with the Iroquois, the French build the "French Castle" which appeared to be a trading post and indeed had one on the lower level, but they also added dormer windows which could be used to shoot cannons and muskets, as well as building a garrison for the troops.

The French maintained control of the fort and the area until 1759 when the British gained control of the fort during the French & Indian War after a nineteen day siege. The British had control of the fort until the American Revolution when they turned it over to the Americans through a treaty agreement in 1796. The British once again captured Fort Niagara during the War of 1812 but ceded to the Americans again at the war's end.

Over the years the fort served as a border post but saw no further conflict. The army removed all its troops in 1963 and the fort now serves as a national and state monument and part of the park system. Which means you can use your Golden Age Passport as well as any other National Park pass to gain free entry to the fort.

During the summer you have the opportunity to see reenactments of battles that occurred at the fort and you can participate in the loading and firing of one of the cannons on the grounds (great fun for the little ones!). Fort Niagara is a fascinating view into the early history of New York and will be enjoyed by young and old alike.

The entrance to Fort Niagara. Posted by Picasa

The French Castle of Fort Niagara. Posted by Picasa

A view of the French Castle and a redoubt, which is a small advance garrison. Posted by Picasa

Volunteers assisting with the cannon loading and firing demonstration at Fort Niagara. Posted by Picasa

The Fort Niagara Lighthouse Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 18, 2006

A Quiet Day

We're taking it easy at the RV Vagabond househould today. My knee has been hurting, so I decided to give it a rest from the water aerobics and long walk to the swimming pool. Denny and I have been on our respective computers for most of the day-Denny playing on and me experimenting with the new Picasa free web album service. They offer 250 MB of space for your digital pictures, with 6 GB available for $25 a year. At the 'fine' quality setting I use, I was able to upload about 885 photos before I hit the wall. So that was all of 2004 (189 pictures) and about 2/3 of 2005's photos (approximately 695 photos out of 1050 taken). I was hoping to get all of my 2004 and 2005 photos online so I could link the albums to my travel photos page of my website and save the tedious cropping, resizing and uploading process but that's not going to happen.

I must say, if you use Google's free Picasa service to upload your photos to your computer, it's a snap to upload those photos into the Picasa web albums. At the moment the service is in the beta stage, but if you have a Gmail account(which is free) then you can download Picasa and receive an invitation to use/test the beta version here . If you'd just like to try the Picasa digital photo software first, see the link in the right hand column of this page under Google photos.

Want to see the end result? 2004 and 2005 part 1 I'm still uploading on the few remaining MBs of 2005 part 2, after which I'll link them to my website and then get back to work on the more cumbersome method of cropping/resizing/etc. for the rest of the year's photos. Because I'm too cheap to pay for the upgrade which costs more than my web hosting account. A gal has to have some principles, right? Okay, I'm just cheap.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Family Visit

My pictures are a bit of a disappointment because I was playing with my new camera and trying out the 'sports' setting on the camera. I thought it would help with a moving target but I must not have done something right. The near collision between Marissa, our oldest granddaughter, and her younger sister Kara would have been a great picture if it had been in focus. I did get the sense of movement in the picture of Marissa roller blading and of course Kara posed for me on her trike.

Yesterday was much more peaceful around the Braun household. I attended the campground's afternoon water aerobics session of easy stretches and moves and it felt good. I asked if I could bring one of my water aerobics tapes for a change of pace and the instructor was thrilled because she's just filling in and is not really comfortable leading the class. I don't know how well I'll be able to lead today with the gimpy knee but we'll see how it goes. Once I had finally gotten back to the rig (it's a long walk to the pool) we called Steve (our oldest son) to see if he would be willing to help Denny install the new tailgate after we picked it up at Camping World. As a bribe, we offered to buy pizza and wings for the family. He works cheap. That arranged, we drove the 40 miles or so back down to Hamburg to pick up the tailgate, then back up north to N. Tonawanda where Steve and Angela live. Much fuss was made over us by the grandkids (that's a great feeling!) and we had to watch roller blade jumping and tricycle riding and look at boo-boos amid hugs to the older Brauns. The tailgate was installed while Angela and I caught up with the news and ordered dinner to be delivered.

It's amazing how much children can grow in 8 months. Zach will be 14 in October, Marissa will be 10 in September and Kara will be 4 in October and like the song says, I don't remember growing older-when did they? This weekend they'll come to the campground to play in the pond and the swimming pool and to ride their bikes on the grounds without worrying about road traffic. Zach will look for turtles to take to the neighbors, Marissa will sit quietly drawing and Kara will be bouncing off the walls with energy unless we tire her out at the pool. It will be a noisy weekend for us and the cat, who will probably have to find herself a good hiding place in the rig until the kids have gone.

How about that? A blog entry this week without gloom and doom. What a change. Heh.
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