Sunday, September 30, 2007

Distracted on a Lazy Sunday

I tried to think of a theme today, but I've been busy cleaning up after the cat who has been throwing up all over the trailer today. Right now she's chasing a fly, so she's feeling okay for the moment, but we'll see if she's able to keep food down later.

Yesterday we spent the day with our oldest son, Steve, and his family. Father and son had a horseshoe competition, with Denny having the edge of experience if not recent practice. Grandma played with the grandkids. The next time we'll be together is at Christmas, which isn't so very far away.

Do fathers and sons ever stop being competitive? I think pitching with your mouth open helps.

Marissa spent the afternoon doing handstands, cartwheels and flips on the swing set.

Kara tried to compete with her big sister on the swing set.

Zach puts every bit of his being into tossing the horseshoe.

Nasty and nice; poison ivy and butter-and-eggs by the Erie Canal.

One of the tour boats that travels through the locks on the Erie Canal. Note the upside down railroad bridge in the background. It is still in use.

An impressionistic sunset. Normally I delete the blurry pictures, but I liked the effect on this one.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Lockport Cave Tour

Although we've stayed in the general vicinity of Lockport, New York several times now, we've never taken the time to take the Lockport Cave Tour. Since yesterday was a blustery, rainy day Denny and I figured it was a good day to be underground. Fortunately, it was not raining when we arrived at Lockport, because the tour was not all underground. And we discovered the cave is not a cave at all, but a water tunnel.

The Lockport Cave Tour starts in the former City Hall building, a lovely old building made of local limestone. Unfortunately, it has not been restored yet, so you are only inside long enough to purchase tour tickets. Your tour starts outside at the Lockport locks.

The original canal locks were built between 1817 and 1825. There were two sets of locks, one for eastbound and one for westbound water traffic. Each lock was 90 feet long by 15 feet wide and had a lift 12 feet. There were five locks on each side, since the limestone cliffs of the Niagara escarpment created a 60 difference in height between the Hudson River to the east and Lake Erie to the west. This worked for a time, but canal travel proved so popular for moving goods that the locks had to be enlarged. In 1836 work was started to enlarge the "Flight of Five" as the locks were called. However, ever increasing barge traffic meant that the locks had to be enlarge once again, so this time the locks on the south side of the canal were removed and much larger concrete locks with electronic gates were installed in 1909. This is what is in use today, albeit only for tourists and pleasure boats.

This limestone slab still shows the grooves etched into the stone by the ropes used to pull the barges along the tow path.

The entrance to the Lockport Cave tour is actually the water pipe of the former Lockport Pulp Company. As I mentioned earlier, the area we toured isn't really a cave, but the water tunnel designed by Birdsill Holly in the 1850s to provide a source of water energy to three separate factories along the Erie Canal.

The entrance is a sloping walk up the water pipe of the Lockport Pulp Company.

Your tour guide will explain how the water tunnels were built, using blasting powder inserted into small holes drilled by hand using star bits and a sledge hammer. This method blasted out 16 inch wide areas of stone at a time. The water tunnel is 1700 feet long, several feet wide and about 15 feet tall. It's no wonder it took several years to complete. The workers were paid 12 cents an hour and worked 12 hour days. At the end of each hour they were given 2 shots of whiskey. I would think by the eleventh hour, I wouldn't want to have been the man holding the star bit while a drunken co-worker swung a sledge hammer at me!

There is a short boat ride on the waters that remain in the tunnel while the tour guide explains the history of the tunnel. After you leave the tunnel you are free to wander the area of the locks or explore the Erie Canal Museum.

The Lockport Locks tour is located at 2 Pine Street near Main St. in Lockport. The cost is $9 for adults, although you can get a $1 off coupon online at their web site. If you happen to be in the area next month, they will also be conducting "Haunted Cave" tours, which sounds fun.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Fall Back

I don't know what type of weather y'all had yesterday, but we had one of those fall days that thought it was a summer day. The temperature of 87 degrees broke a record in Buffalo and the stiff breezes sent syncopated shivers through the leaves of a hundred tree here in the campground. Closing my eyes the sound of the leaves reminded me of the surf pounding the shoreline which immediately relaxed me. I'll take days like that every day!

Arriving here on Monday Denny and I noticed signs for the "Apple Trail" on the last few miles before the campground. Ahh! Fresh apples, apple cider, applesauce, apple crisp...mmmm. Yesterday was the ideal day to pick apples, so off we went in search of the apple trail. Denny grabbed the oh-so-fashionable apple bag and off we went in seach of the perfect apples for sauce. I went for the tart Greenings, while Denny chose the Cortlands and we mutually agreed on the Macouns. Some of our favorite types won't be in until the week after we leave, but we're hoping to find an orchard or two in Pennsylvania next week. We'll eat apples until they come out our ears.

On the way home I convinced Denny that we really needed to sample some wines from this area, so we stopped in at the Warm Lake Estate Winery to do a little wine tasting. Warm Lake Estate has made a name for itself by specializing in pinot noir wines only. We left with a bottle of their 2004 Mountain Road Escarpment and one of Glacier Noir, which leans toward an ice wine-type of flavor. If you check out their website, read the section on the Niagara Escarpment, which explains why the geography is good for growing the pinot noir grape and how the winery uses "green" methods of growing and producing its grapes.

And boy, are there a lot of wineries in the area to check out!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Not The Best Day

Do you know how far a 32 ounce jar of marinara sauce can spread when it falls off a shelf 4 feet off the floor while traveling? I found sauce on the wall 6 feet off the floor, on the door, the carpet, the refrigerator and everywhere. Actually, Denny discovered it when we made a pit stop for a bathroom break. He opened the door to the trailer and discovered a huge mess at the door, since the pantry is right at the entrance to our trailer. We did some basic clean up, picking up the glass, then continued on our way since we had another hour and a half to drive. That was a lot of fun to clean up before I could even bring the cat in from the truck. Yuck.

That just set the tone for the rest of the afternoon. Denny couldn't get the twin signals to come in on the DISH TV system--he could get one or the other but not both. We took a break for dinner (that's how long we worked on the stupid satellite system) and then set up the Internet satellite (that took 5 minutes, go figure). Once that was online we were ready to gird our loins for the DISH system again. I reset the skew on the dish and let Denny put the cables back on and voila', we had the signals. I think stepping away from it, having dinner and a stiff drink might have helped. It sure didn't hurt, heh.

So I learned not to accept gifts of marinara sauce, oops, I mean I learned to double check cupboard doors before traveling (although I think it was more the hard stop Denny had to make at a traffic light--shhhh), and when all else fails, step away from the problem, get some food and drink in your system and try again.

Heroes and Dancing with the Stars is premiering tonight--we HAD to get the TV up and running! Priorities.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Lazy Sunday Wandering Our Campground

It's been a peaceful, relaxing week here in Port Clinton. Somehow, just being in the area of water (you can smell the lake early in the morning when it is breezy) loosens the tensions and allows you to laze without guilt.

We're back to walking in the mornings after breakfast and it feels good. Denny stiffens up quite a bit the first few days, so we're going slow, but at least we're moving. I try to take the camera along and this week I've gotten a few photos that I like.

Erie Islands Resort not only has a campground, but they rent cabins and have a nice hotel on the grounds also. The outdoor pool has been drained for the season, but the indoor pool is open year-round. This is a lovely place for a weekend or a week-long stay.

There's an 18 hole golf course about seven miles down the road that has a great senior rate, but if you just want to work on your short game, the resort has a nine-hole executive course. You can see the campground in the background of the photo.

A tiny bit of fall color.

Because we are only a half-mile from the Portage River and a few miles from Lake Erie, there is a lot of dew on the ground in the morning. The spider webs are everywhere and whatever type of spider weaves its web on this bush puts quite a bit of work into it.

I've learned to look down when walking, thanks to walking the cat, and thus I discovered this inch and half wide spider web in the grass, sparkling like diamonds in the sunlight.

Note: Stupid Blogger won't allow me to add any more pictures today. So this is short two pix. Stupid Blogger.
2nd Note: It's fixed. I still hate Blogger.

Does this picture not remind you of the Tunnel of Love swans from the old cartoons? I think I'm dating myself here.

It wouldn't be Lazy Sunday without a sunset. Day is done, gone the sun...

Friday, September 21, 2007

Available Options

What do you think? What you see here is a floating house. Not a houseboat, but a small house on fixed concrete pilings near a marina in Port Clinton, Ohio.

I was perusing a free local newspaper when I saw the ad for these floating houses and was intrigued by the idea. No property taxes, room with a view, small and on the water. What's not to like? Indeed, these homes are not park models on platforms, nor are they house boats on pontoons, but instead a manufactured home specifically made to be placed on the water. Made in Vandalia, Ohio (near my hometown of Dayton), these homes have several nice elements. They have the standard stove, refrigerator and microwave, as well as a dishwasher (Denny likes!) and a stacking washer/dryer combo. The holding tanks self-empty into the city sewer system, there is city water, electric heat pump and furnace, screening around the base for bugs and possible rodents (although perhaps the water snake I saw nearby would take care of that problem), extra insulation underneath to compensate for resting above the water level. The developer intends to build a swimming pool, shower house and clubhouse eventually. The docks are on the Portage River and Lake Erie is just across the street. On the small side at 936 square feet, there are two bedrooms and two baths and a large deck above with a nice porch on the first floor. Which would be twice the size of what we have now.

It's all very enticing, including the fact that it would be within 110 to 275 miles from every member of our families (well, the immediate family). But there is always the COLD AND THE SNOW. LAKE EFFECT SNOW. But it's an option.

A boat dock is part of the site rental. I'm thinking Sea Doos.

A total of 31 floating houses are planned. I think I like it.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Oak Haven Golf Course in Delaware, Ohio

I've been so busy doing nothing that time got away from me this week. Obviously we didn't play Oak Haven Golf Course this week since we're currently in Port Clinton, Ohio. Today we're playing at Oak Harbor Golf Course. And we're going to have a gorgeous late summer day to do so.

Oak Haven is located north of Delaware on US 23, about two miles south of the Delaware State Park. It's situated on rolling farmland, but the back nine has plenty of trees and some narrow fairways that will challenge those who can't hit their ball straight at times. (Hi, Denny!) There are a couple of tiered greens to make your putts interesting, as well as a few that are sloped or have tricky reads.

The golf course is very well maintained and is in terrific condition considering the severe lack of rain this summer. The course provides five sets of tees so if you're feeling porky you can make this course a long one at 7054 yards or much shorter at the seniors's tees of 5106 yards (or the ladies' tees of 4704 yards). The most challenging hole is the 11th hole, which is all water carry. If you play the black tees, like Denny, you will face a 245 yard carry over the pond to the green. This one is intimidating, to say the least!

As seniors, we get a price break. Monday through Friday you'll pay $25 to play 18 holes using a riding cart. They also had a Twilight special going on that for $25 you can play all the golf you want, which is a bargain if you play quickly in this time of waning daylight hours.

This is a golf course we want to play again.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Our Favorite Places

People ask often ask us what our favorite place is from all our travels. What they are asking is, what place did we find the most beautiful, or striking, or memorable. We have several favorites areas but there are also favorite places that appeal to us for reasons other than they are beautiful.

We're currently in Port Clinton, Ohio at a private member park. I love this park. Why? Because it was the first campground we stayed at after my orthopedic surgeon released me to travel after my knee surgery. The joy we felt being back in our own home after living with my mother for the two and a half months following my surgery is indescribable. The fact that I could walk without crutches and a full leg brace made the walk to the river at the edge of the campground infinitely more precious than if we had come here for the first time in a totally healthy state. The indoor heated pool meant that I could finally do my water aerobics routine, which helped in stretching the tight tendon in my knee. So in our minds, this became a favorite place.

There was the campground in Warrenton, Georgia that was so isolated, so dark and so quiet that many folks refused to stay a second night because it was TOO dark and TOO quiet. We loved it.

Perdido Key, Florida has a tiny, crowded little campground that in January of 2000 was run by an aging hippie couple that we just loved. There was music and deep fried oyster cook-fests and the Gulf of Mexico just across the street. We stayed here while awaiting the arrival of our truck to pull our newly purchased fifth wheel and spent a month enjoying sun, the beach and the friendships.

There's another tiny little campground on the beach in Florida (I'm keeping this one private)where we pulled the nose of our Bounder motorhome right up to the beach and waded into the clear water of the Gulf of Mexico where we could see a horseshoe crab just a few feet off-shore. There was a wooden swing next to our site that we confiscated for the duration of our stay, where we could sit and watch cedar waxwings squabble in the tree next to us. Utter relaxation.

This past week we stayed at the Delaware State Park in Delaware, Ohio. As noted by Darby, there were only electric connections at the campsites, no water or sewer hookups. That meant a walk to the bathhouse in the chilly mornings where I rushed through my shower to avoid the many mosquitoes poised to take their morning's quota of blood from me. We normally avoid campgrounds like this, but it was close to my son and he came over several times last week just to "hang". So not only were we in a quiet setting surrounded by trees and visited by deer, but we were able to spend more time with Darby in one week than we have in the past three years. So yeah, this one will go on the list of favorites, too.

So where are your favorite places?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

More Critters on a Lazy Sunday

Brr. It's a good thing Denny pulled a lot of the plants from his dad's garden because we have a frost warning this morning. Here at the park the temperature is 39 degrees--quite a change from the past few weeks. It's a good thing I nagged suggested to Denny that he install the register vent in the kick plate of the couch so we could turn on the furnace and use the register. I pity the poor tent campers who moved in all around us this weekend, probably for the Delaware County Fair. They had a cold night last night! See, Denny and I don't "camp"--no shivering around campfires, no icy morning walks to the bath house, no huddled in sleeping bags for us. We live comfortably in our fifth wheel, using campgrounds while we explore the country. It ain't camping, though.

Before everyone arrived this weekend, we did have a couple of visitors. The rest of the Lazy Sunday pictures are of critters seen in our travels over the past few years.

Early one morning this week we happened to look out the rear window to see a pair of fawns feeding behind our trailer. The pictures aren't the best due to the glare on the windows--the little guys were spooked when I tried to open a window for a better shot.

The two of them still had a few white spots remaining on their coats.

I was kind of glad I couldn't see the spider that built this web--it is about 18 inches in diameter, so I'm sure its owner is pretty sizeable. The morning sunlight and dew did create a nice picture though.

Although we didn't stay at any of the campgrounds at Custer State Park in South Dakota, those that did had morning visitors every day--these young big horn sheep.

Someday, it'll be ME up on one of those horses riding peacefully along the beach. Cantering along in the surf would be so exhilarating! Wait, those two statements contradict each other. Oh well.

At Myrtle Beach we called these shore birds "peeps" because of the sound they made as they raced to get out of your way on the beach. This one at St. Augustine is possibly a dunlin. Or a young curlew sandpiper. Or something.

This is a black-bellied whistling duck that liked to sun himself at our campground in Rockport, Texas. And no, the one-legged look wasn't from the alligators that lived in the same pond--this little guy was sleeping comfortably with his leg tucked up until I snuck up to take his picture.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Tool-less But Not Clueless

When we purchased our fifth wheel, it was set up so that the two recliners sat at the end of the trailer near the big picture window. This meant that we were sitting sideways to the TV, which we didn't like. So we moved the chairs to the dining room slide-out and the couch to the big window area. All of that created a problem--the couch now covered the register vent. That meant I had to search online for a register "extender" to force the warm air under the couch and out through the front flap of material at the bottom edge of the sofa. I located one and it worked and all was well.

Then we purchased the new sofa and it has a solid panel in front. Which meant the register extender didn't work and the register was once again covered up. Sigh. It was time to get creative.

Understand that as owners of a metal box on wheels, there's not too many reasons for us to carry a lot of tools and power toys. Therefore, cutting a hole in the front panel was going to be fun. Here's what Denny did.

First we stapled around the area where we were going to cut the hole for the new round register vent purchased from an RV parts store. This was to prevent the "pleather" from tearing, stretching or moving.

The next step was to cut the "pleather" in sections so that we could staple it to the back of the kick plate to keep it taut.

Denny had to figure out a way to seal the register so he could force the hot air into the dryer vent hose and out the vent we were installing in the couch's kick plate. I had picked up a piece of plexiglass at an estate sale, figuring to use it to display membership stickers (we don't stick things on our trailer or our truck). I donated the plexiglass to a far worthier cause.

A not-so-good picture of dryer vent, hose and plexiglass covering the register vent in the floor of the trailer. You can see there are gaps between the vent and the plexiglass--these were covered with that wondrous material known as duct (or duck) tape.

The hard part was cutting the wood of the kick plate without a saw. This involved a wood bit that cuts circles, the blade of a hacksaw held by hand, files and grinding bits of our Dremel. Yes, he used those pliers on the picnic table to PULL the wood out. It wasn't pretty, folks.

Once the hole was made, we inserted the new register, stapled the pleather in place, and restapled the protective cover on the back of the kickplate.

The dryer vent hose was attached to the new round RV register.

All finished and back in place. We tested the furnace and the new register opening throws out hot air perfectly. Yay for Denny. Also notice the Indian motif of the rug and the golf motif on the throw on the couch. I'm a decorating diva, can'tcha tell?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

It's Delightful in Delaware (Ohio)

A friend who lives in the state of Washington e-mailed us yesterday, asking if Ohio's humidity was still sapping our strength.

The answer is a resounding "NO"! For the last two days we have been enjoying fall-like weather here in central Ohio and it's wonderful. The sky is a deep azure, the clouds are pristine white cotton balls and looking towards the horizon you can see for miles. This is Ohio at its best.

We're not going to have a pretty fall this year. The drought has sapped the trees of their strength and many have lost/are losing their leaves without the color change. But the crisp morning air scented with the tang of wood smoke from distant campers invigorates us and brings a smile of contentment to our faces.

It's now totally dark when I arise--there are no security lights here to "protect" us in the park, just peaceful isolation. Looking out the large rear window I can see a zillion stars and I wish I could recognize more constellations than the Big and Little Dippers and Orion. The velvet night wraps itself around me as I feed the cat and turn on the computer, stumbling a bit in the dark. It's my favorite time of the day.

The sweep hand of our internal clock is slowing down. Instead of jumping into the truck at 8AM to start our grass-cutting/garden work to beat the heat, Denny and I gaze out the windows, watching the early morning sun strike a huge, round spider web laden with dew. The fat spider sits in the middle of the bullseye waiting for its prey, unaware that we see it as an artist instead of a predator. We watch in hope that one of the many deer in the park will wander into our campsite, hunting with our eyes instead of weapons. We're back in our lifestyle, and it feels oh-so-good.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

We Find a Moldywarp

Ah, got your attention, didn't I? What is a moldywarp, you ask? Certainly, that was the thought on Patches' mind when we saw this:

Actually, the term moldywarp is from the UK--here in the US we call it a mole. A bit of movement caught my eye last night as Patches and I were exploring the area around our campsite at the state park. Patches is in seventh heaven as currently we're the only campers on the hub, so there's no one around to intimidate her on our evening meanderings.

This sleek little fellow was very busy burrowing around looking for something to eat and Patches was actually able to paw at him gently as he appeared to be blind or near-blind. The tiny creature did squeak a bit in surprise when gently touched by the cat, but continued his search for dinner when Patches sat back down to observe him. Only about two and a half inches long, the mole was difficult to photograph because he burrowed so easily under the thick grass. Since the mole didn't panic or scuttle off after being touched by the cat, Patches quickly lost interest and moved off to explore the rest of the area. She found the poison ivy and some wonderful smell right in the heart of it all. Great.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Lazy Sunday Critters

Patches was being a pain in the rear this morning, attempting to claw her way out the windows to get at the feral cats that come to taunt her in the early morning hours. Therefore, the Lazy Sunday picture theme today is critters we've seen while on the road--some in our campgrounds, some seen while sightseeing, however none of these were in cages or zoos.

This turtle was sunning himself on a fallen tree in the Old Santee Canal in Moncks Corner, South Carolina. A little bit of history and a lot of nice hiking trails makes this a good place for a visit.

This tern and group of seagulls provided a pretty good indication of the wind direction on the dock of our campground in St. Augustine, Florida. There was always something different to see when we walked down to the end of the 1000 foot dock, whether it was a bird or a boat on the Intracostal Waterway.

Longhorn steer are numerous in Texas. This fellow graced the grounds of the Prude Guest (the new name for "dude" ranches) Ranch in Fort Davis, Texas. The ranch also had a tiny campground which provided a great base for exploring the fort, the observatory and the town itself.

Alligators abound at the Everglades--we couldn't even begin to count all those we saw as we explored a small portion of this amazing national park. There are campgrounds within the park, but we stayed at one in the town of Homestead, Florida.

I was amazed that this pronghorn antelope allowed me to get within about fifteen yards of him before spooking. Lovely graceful creatures when they run, the antelope in Custer State Park in Custer, South Dakota have become used to the tourists, to a point.

My first ever visit to the circus was the one-ringed circus performance at Circus World in Baraboo, Wisconsin. Winter home to many traveling bands of circus performers, the best known being the Ringling Brothers, the Circus World Museum is a fascinating glimpse into the history of the circus. These llamas were on their way to line up for the daily circus parade around the grounds. This is a fun place to visit!

Black swans are very striking creatures and this fellow lives quietly at a campground in Livingston, Louisiana.
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