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Saturday, December 22, 2012

2012 Christmas Letter


     I decided that it might be a good idea if I turned our annual Christmas letter into a blog.  Of course, this runs the risk of redundancy.  If you are a regular follower of the blog (thank you, by the way) or if you have received a copy of the letter already, there will certainly be some things you have seen before.  Before I post the letter here, I'll do two things.  I'll include a picture of Baxter in front of our tree, and I'll wish all of my readers the most pleasant Christmas ever.
     Also, I must point out that the letter is Durelle's creation; I merely did the formatting and picture insertion.  So here it is:


Season’s Greetings from the Cloutiers’ 2007 Allegro Bus!
            Right now I am in the shop, duct tape and all, for a few repairs, so I guess I have time to write the Cloutier Christmas letter.  If you were driven by Frank and were transporting Durelle and Baxter all summer, you’d need some refurbishing, too.  I need a whole new back end.  It seems that Frank spotted some cheap diesel in an unfamiliar and cramped service station.  While leaving he scraped my backside against a concrete post.  The electric flush switch failed on the toilet; the refrigerator door seals failed causing a frosting problem; the stove top doesn’t always light; and the dishwasher occasionally quits too soon.  And...the retractable step doesn’t.  The main slide-out works poorly I think from the residue of that broken safety glass from when I was burglarized a year ago.  Rumor has it that I’ll be asked to get them up to Maine again next summer when I’m feeling perky again.  I’ve heard that I’ll be parked in a new spot, facing the old one but with a better view of Penobscot Bay.
     Thank goodness I won’t have to travel the routes and the miles I did this summer.  I started off by taking them from Hanahan, SC to the FamCamp at Nellis AFB near Las Vegas, NV for their granddaughter Melissa’s lovely wedding.


  Then I went to Cedar City, UT for a few days so they could check out Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks.  From there it was on to the Air Force Academy with a stop along the way for a visit in Parachute, CO to visit Frank’s cousin, Carol.  The piece of oil shale from her husband Tom’s homestead in DeBeque is now proudly on the mantle.  Crossing the Rockies at 11,000 feet was no problem, but my “Jake Brake” got a lot of use coming down the east side.  At USAFA I had to park “the wrong way” so the dish on the roof could see the satellite.  They left me with the dog a lot as they visited, wined, and dined with the Catalfamos, the Glenns and the Dills.  Fortunately, I got them out of there before the Wando wildfire forced the evacuation of USAFA.  
            We then proceeded across Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania until we stopped in Westfield, NY on the eastern end of Lake Erie.  They spent a couple of weeks enjoying sunsets, wineries, quaint villages and new friends Larry and Jane from the strangely named town of Boston, NY.       




     We then headed east on the NY Thruway until I pooped out in Glenville, NY at a lovely park on the Mohawk River.  My four, relatively new, AGM house batteries failed and had to be replaced with the old lead-acid type.  From there I carried the three of them to the Hanscom AFB FamCamp in Fourth Cliff (Scituate), MA.  I parked so close to the edge of the cliff that I could have easily jumped in the ocean. 

     They took a few day trips in the car to Brant Rock, to Plymouth to reunite with Durelle’s roommate Marcia and husband Peter, and to Lynn to visit Durelle’s brother Marty and sister-in-law Ann.  While there we met former acquaintances and fellow Allegro Bus owners, Bill and Diane Russell.  Durelle just loves walking around campgrounds with Baxter and hearing someone say, “I know you!” 

     The next stop was the owners’ hometown of Athol, MA which required squeezing over that scary old Millers River bridge by the old UTD factory.  I parked in the parking lot of the shuttered Silver Lake School so they could enjoy the festivities of Athol’s 250th anniversary including a two-hour parade complete with the Clydesdales as well as several Athol High School reunions with friends from the classes of 1942 to 1965 but most importantly, 1956.
            I finally got to go to Maine on July 23rd and enjoyed watching my owners reunite with their many camping friends and enjoy a visit from their daughter, Cindy.  I provide an expensive windbreak for many lobster feeds.  This is what Maine coast camping is all about. Note the barnacles on this old-timer.



     I also am a baby-sitter (with Rick’s help) for Baxter as Frank, Durelle, and Cindy went to Southwest Harbor to visit the vacationing Gobiens, a good friend and former co-worker of Frank’s.  They also went to Lewiston for an annual reunion with Durelle’s cousins Eleanor and Phyllis and her husband, Fred.  And, of course, they had to make a sentimental journey to New Harbor and Pemaquid Point which included a visit with another of her cousins Harold and his wife, Diane.  After seven weeks in Maine, we trudged on down to the Field and Stream RV Park in Brookline, NH and stayed three weeks so that my owners could spend time with their son, Mark, his wife, Heather, grandson Kevin, granddaughter Meghan, grandson Dave, great granddaughter, Brielle and her mother, Carolyn.  Granddaughter Melissa now lives in Sydney, Australia with new husband, Illia Zotos.  Durelle also really enjoyed seeing a lot of good friends from Nashua Country Club.  While in Brookline they checked out the status of Frank’s sister Marian’s and her husband Eldy’s “log cabin” in Royalston.  They have moved in!
     They finally let me start home on the first of October which included a couple of stops in Virginia to reconnect with the Looses, the Myers and the Wegners.  We got home on the 5th at which point they off loaded a half ton of stuff.  Boy, did that feel good!  Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from this tired, sick, but happy camper.  

       That's our Christmas letter.  To those who have already seen it...my apologies.  To those that haven't...I hope you enjoyed it. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Our eagle friend

     You have seen pictures of this fellow before, most of them crisper and steadier.  I am adding this one because it captures the almost intimate connection we have here.  This was taken through our living room window this morning.  It is kinda special.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Has it been a month?

     Nope, ONLY 28 days.  Tonight, at Durelle's insistence, we took a ride around the better decorated neighborhoods in our immediate area to look at the Christmas decorations.  The first stop was Park Circle in North Charleston.  This is a huge traffic circle with a park in the middle. It must be at least 200 yards in diameter.  The entire perimeter, both on the inside and outside of the circle are decorated by the city, by individuals and by local businesses.  
     As you know, night photography is a different ball game.  With low light and long exposures a tripod is required, and I have yet to purchase one.  It is a challenge with a hand-held camera to get a reasonably sharp picture.  For every one you see here I deleted several.
          So, what have we been doing for the past month in lieu of updating the blog?  Not much.  Durelle and Cindy have played golf about once a week.  The Christmas cards have all been mailed.  Some of you will notice that this year's card has been written BY the Allegro Bus.  Because of the peripheral neuropathy, I have been doing twice a week physical therapy with Alison, Stacey and Jennifer at the Balance, Mobility & Dizziness Center of Charleston.  It's helping, but it prompts me to recall the difference between a therapist and a terrorist...you can negotiate with a terrorist.
     This is the last picture from Park Circle.  The remaining pictures were taken on Dominion Drive in Hanahan which winds along the water as it empties into the harbor.
     At Christmas I'll get some pictures of our tree for the next post.  By the way, a few days ago I missed a super picture because I didn't take the camera along for our evening walk.  Cindy, Durelle and I were marveling at a particularly extravagant sunset when we heard the unmistakable sound of a C-5.  Sure enough, it descended right into the midst of that sunset as it landed at Joint Base Charleston.  It was one of those awesome fish that just got away.  Oh, well...we'll keep trying.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Academy Interviews

     Around this time of year I usually get involved in the selection process for the various military academies.  In NH my involvement was  as a field representative for the admissions department at West Point.  Here, it is quite different.  Senator Lindsey Graham (SC-R) puts a lot of effort into the responsibility of nominating candidates for the various academies.  Unlike the patronage days of a half century ago, most congressmen (-women) send a small set of nominees to the admissions departments of the academies and let them make the final selections.  It is a good approach.  The congressmen (do I have to keep doing this gender thing?) stay very much involved yet the superior ability of the admissions offices to predict those who will succeed serves to keep expensive attrition rates down.
     This opportunity to serve is a humbling and inspiring experience.  America is NOT going to Hell.  The young men and, yes, women are impressive, accomplished, and motivated people.  I heard more than one old grad say, "I probably wouldn't qualify today."  
     As we get older, our habits, acquaintances, and activities become more predictable.  Any activity that exposes you to the best of today's youth is a rejuvenating experience.  I recommend it. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

If you create a monster, you have to feed it.

     It has been brought to my attention by my mother-in-law's son that I have not posted to my blog in ten days.  The title of this blog comes from legendary Oklahoma football coach, Bud Wilkinson.  Aren't all successful football coaches "legendary"?  It's true, when we are not on the road there are fewer pictures and fewer new tales than when we are wandering around this (still) great country.  I usually build a blog around some pictures that I think might interest the reader.  While our back yard has yielded some nice pictures of sunsets, deer, eagles and golden retrievers, it certainly does not do it on a daily basis.  We have settled into our winter mode.  Durelle and Cindy play golf about once a week.  Let me predict right here that Durelle is going to match her grandfather by shooting her age one of these days.  I do not intend to turn this into "what are we doing today", Facebook-type narrative.  I'd prefer it to be a travel blog, or perhaps a Chamber of Commerce blog when we are stationary.
     I have now finished three of those previously described Angel Bus missions of picking up a cancer patient and bringing him to the Hollings Cancer Center in Charleston, and returning him home.  Each one involves about 750 miles of driving, but there is a lot of satisfaction that goes with it.
     I mentioned the back yard deer pictures.  Here is a very recent one.
      I also have a portrait shot of Baxter you might like.
     Speaking of Baxter, I also have a shot of him with Durelle's tomato plant.  As we were packing up to leave Maine, Durelle discovered a volunteer tomato plant next to the site's utility post.  She dumped out a small container of mums and dug up the tomato to bring home in spite of some disparaging comments from her unsentimental partner.  We don't know if it is a volunteer from our hanging pot of cherry tomatoes or what.  Perhaps Duane planted it some time ago.  At any rate, it has survived, and perhaps it will be set out next spring to see what happens.  Below is a picture of Baxter and the tomato plant.
     No, it is not a marijuana plant.  I thank my readers for their forbearance, and I will try to put together some good blogs exploiting the fact that Conde Nast has proclaimed Charleston to be the most desirable tourist destination in the world!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween 2012

     As I'm sure many folks did, we sat on the front porch with the light on to witness the parade of scary and not so scary revelers.  Here's one of the not so scary.  Note the mittens in October in South Carolina.
     
     Trick or treating was not, however, the highlight of the day.  It was my couple of hours at the Roper-Saint Francis emergency room.  When I woke up this morning, it took a few minutes for the room to stop spinning.  Closing one or both eyes briefly made no difference.  Even after I sat up and waited for my gyros to spin up, I felt a bit sweaty and chilly at the same time.  Durelle said I was pale.  After sitting in the recliner for a half hour and moving as little as possible, I stabilized, but was still woozy.  We decided to visit our primary care physician who, of course, had a day off.  Another doctor in the practice filled in with, I'm sure, no reduction in competence.         After a number of diagnostics, she asked for an EKG.  There was a minor abnormality, and she wanted some further testing.  She called the emergency room and Durelle drove me down.  Actually, by then Cindy had arrived and led us there.  The went through a typical protocol of hook me up to some monitors, and inserting an IV.  The doctor called for some blood tests, a chest X-ray, and a cranial CAT scan.  The results of the latter were negative :-)  They were looking, of course, to see if I had had a heart attack, a stroke or perhaps just a TIA.  They determined that none of those things had happened.  They called it a BPV...Benign Positional Vertigo.  I guess that's the best possible outcome.  The Valium they stuck into the IV six hours ago has worn off.  My color is back, and I sat outside as the picture above shows.

     I now feel normal, but perhaps a bit limp.  I'll take it easy(er) for a while,but I think every thing is fine.  When one has a problem, it's nice to have some family around.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Hibiscus.mutabilis


     Pardon the pompous title, but Hibiscus.mutabilis is also known as the "Confederate Rose".  I mentioned it last year about this time.  A couple of years ago a neighbor gave us a shoot to plant.  Like any self-respecting weed, it is now ten feet high.  It is probably too close to the house, but it should be easy to cut down and re-establish elsewhere.  In the fall it generates a lot of blossoms that emanate from a boll much like a cotton boll.  The blossoms don't last long, but more are generated every day.  The neat thing is that it waits for us to get back from our summer sojourn to start producing blossoms.  The first picture shows the entire (unkempt) plant, and the second is a close up of one blossom.


          We are getting squared away with assorted chores.  Durelle and Cindy have played golf.  They both broke 100, but Durelle won...again.
     Today I had a couple of chores...a stop at the hearing aid place, another at the Corvette dealer (wipers failed) and some PT for peripheral neuropathy.  I took the camera because Charleston is a photogenic city, but I accomplished nothing in the photography world.  I will keep at it.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Charleston, SC

     Well, we are not wandering around to wonderful photogenic spots.  As a matter of fact, this is the time of the year when everything slows down for us.  I would like to take note of the recent announcement by Conde Nast Traveller that has proclaimed that the number one travel destination city in the WORLD is Charleston, SC ahead of Florence, Italy, Capetown, South Africa and Sydney , Australia.  You can see the article by clicking on the link below.
http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20121017/PC05/121019368/conde-nast-declares-charleston-top-tourist-city-in-the-world
     With that in mind, I hope that you can consider stopping in for a visit.  We'd love to show you around.
     Tonight I took a couple of sunset pictures in the back yard.
     We are not travelling now.  The bus is in the shop for a number of odds and ends.  Detroit (not New York) is in the World Series and all's right with the world.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Angel Bus Mission

Today has been occupied by running a mission for Angel Bus www.angel-bus.org.  This is a wonderful outfit that takes advantage of the resources and generosity of motor home owners to transport patients to/from medical appointments.  Often times the patient needs the services of specialists not available locally, and the patient's health and public transportation do not permit normal travel.  A motor home with its bed, refrigerator for medications, AC for medical accessories, and room for additional care givers can provide an ideal solution.  I was scheduled for a mission back in April, but the mission was cancelled when the patient was hospitalized.   I mention this organization because I know that there are some motor-homers who read this blog that might not know about the organization.  Use the link, above, for more information.
   The passenger lives in the uniquely named town of Ninety Six, SC which is located about 190 miles NW of Charleston.  He had a noon appointment Monday at the Hollings Cancer Center in Charleston.  A motorhome was not needed so I used the 1986 Corvette, which he greatly enjoyed.  Since I needed to pick him up at 0800, I drove to nearby Greenwood to spend Sunday night.  I delivered him on schedule, but his clinical trial procedure did not allow him to be released before 1730.  At that time the traffic out of the city is more STOP than GO, but Cindy suggested a quick, early supper to allow the traffic to clear out.  It was an outstanding idea!  The Hominy Grill is close to the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) as the Dunns remember.  You know me...my favorite entree is the one I have never had.  I had the goat stew with "hoppin' John" with field peas and rice plus the most perfect wedge of cornbread you can imagine.  He had a turkey club, but we were out of there in 45 minutes and onto an almost empty I-26 at about 1820.
    Below is a shot of Frank Dukes in front of the Hominy Grille.
     We got back to his house at 2120, which was probably the same arrival time as if we had waited on I-26 instead of the restaurant.  About an hour later I was back on I-26 at a Holiday Inn express, so I decided to spend the night and return on Tuesday.  Alas, there was no room at the inn.  It was 25 miles to Columbia for another shot, plus I would need gas there.  I had driven over 600 miles in the last 24 hours.  As it turns out, I was feeling fine, so I got gas and was home at 0034 on Tuesday.  By that time I had a bit of "dry eye", a growing "flat spot" and the whole wheat pretzels had lost their charm.
     Nonetheless, it was a fine day.  Mr. Dukes is an avid historian.  His articulateness is inhibited only by his impaired vocal chords, not his intellect.  We never turned on the radio, but enjoyed good conversation that made the miles fly by.  By the way, the second half of the trip I used the Jeep because on the first trip the wipers on the 'Vette failed and there were thundershowers predicted (which did not occur).
     So, for all you motor-homers out there check out the link above.  It is the perfect example of a win-win arrangement.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Reconnecting with Neighbors

     When we moved to South Carolina eight years ago this month, we became good friends with our almost next door neighbors, Walter and Brooke McCants.  They were both recent Clemson grads, great sports fans, oyster eaters and owners of Golden Retrievers.  So, even though we were two generations apart, we shared a number of pleasant happy hours.  Walter has a significant position with the Charleston tourism bureau, while Brooke is a reading teacher in the early grades.  After nearly a decade of increasingly complex efforts toward becoming parents, they finally succeeded, and on 25 July Carson was born four weeks early at 6 lbs, 2 oz.
     This evening we went to their place for happy hour.  At our age I don't take many baby pictures, but the first one is Durelle and Carson.  Does she look like a happy grandmother?
     Did I mention that they were Golden lovers?  This is Berkeley.
     Somehow I failed to get a picture of the lovely Brooke, but here are a couple of pictures of Carson and his old man.
     Today was another step toward getting back to a life off the road.  We both visited our primary care physician, Dr. Amy Fairfax, and our dentist Dr. Lauren Davis.  There was a nice sunset I'm told, but I was inside working on a blog.  Oh, well.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Back to Normal

     Many years ago, back in the early 60's in Alaska, there was a much beloved gentleman who worked "for" me.  It was Chief Master Sargent LaVerne (Buck) Braun.  There are several memorable quotations that I attribute to him.  One was, "Only GI's and millionaires can live like this."  That one came as we floated down the Yukon River in a John boat, fishing for rainbows.  Another was, "My idea of a great diet is, for supper, a rare steak, a salad, and a martini (or two)".  It has always been a good choice, although the the other meals sometimes get in the way.  Below is a picture of the first steak on the Treager since we have been back.
     Our normal procedure is to get a single steak, usually a rib eye, that weighs about a pound or so.  That is enough for the two of us.  The Treager is not a super hot grill.  It is more attuned to slow smoking, but it can get hot enough to sear a good steak.  So, with no potato and just a salad, we had a very nice supper.  The martinis were a part of the picture.  Thanks, Buck.
     Although we walked around the block tonight, our lifestyle is becoming much less adventuresome.
     Baxter appears glad to be home.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Off the Road

     Today we took the bus to ProTech in North Charleston.  We had a long visit with Wayne McCoy and his wife, Lisa.  Wayne may be able to retire on this job.  We've got the rear cap replacement plus a number of other issues.  The non retractable step is first.  I told Wayne that I had driven the thing for 1300 miles and a week without dinging the step, and that if he did it while moving it around his shop, I'd  take a large piece out of his posterior.  There are slideout issues as well.  At any rate it is out of our driveway and in his shop.  Speaking of our driveway, take a look at how it fits in our driveway.
     It fits...but.  We have made appointments for our doctor, dentist and veterinarian.  The battery charger has rejuvenated the '86 Corvette, and we are settling into a new routine.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

2012 Statistics

     There are many folks, I assume, that are sure that the RV lifestyle is reserved for the "rich and famous".  Allow me a few moments to contest that opinion.  First of all, let me assure you that, among our MANY camping friends, none are either rich or, generally speaking, famous.  The numbers I will show for our summer are on the higher end of the range for the typical RVer.  We have a forty foot diesel pusher with most of the bells and whistles.  Our activities are not generally inhibited by budget constraints.  We stay in nice campgrounds not Walmart parking lots.  With that perspective consider the following:

Diesel fuel      808.219 gallons for $2955.80 or an average of $3.657 per gal.

Camping fees     $5030.33

Eating out      $2360.76

Groceries      $2481.93  (note that we normally eat in...many don't)

Totals     134 days, 5325 miles,  $16837.89,  $125.66 per day

     I think you will find that most vacations cost more than $125.66 per day.  As a matter of fact, you can see that by changing the life-style from continual vacation to regular day to day living, and by eliminating the cost of supporting another house, full-timing is indeed affordable.  Nonetheless, there are no plans to do so.  That 45 minute soak in a large bathtub yesterday was wonderful.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Hanahan

     This will be short.  We got home today shortly after noon.  At a rather slow pace we unloaded most of the bus.  Cindy's help was greatly appreciated.  I drove from Massachusetts to South Carolina with the step down.  Can you imagine how many folks told me I was a careless, forgetful oaf?  All's well that ends well.  Durelle says the sunset is pretty, but the camera is still in the bus.  Oh, Well.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Home Tomorrow

     In August of 1960, as a brand new "brown bar", I reported to Keesler AFB to attend a year long radar maintenance course.  Allen and Joyce Wegner were neighbors who played a big role in acclimating us to the Air Force.  Al was a First Lieutenant, an exalted rank to me, who had spent 6-8 years in the Navy before becoming an USAF Officer.  Lee and Dodi were also "old hands" in that Lee had several years of enlisted time before going through OCS.  We all became good friends and have remained so through the decades.  Durelle and Dodi were in the Keesler AFB hospital having Cindy and Kathy only a few days apart.  We have had other rendezvous' over the years, but today was special.  We had lunch with the Myers in their beautiful home in Haymarket, VA.
     Later we headed east about 25 miles to visit the Wegners in Fairfax.  Somehow we have managed to connect with them almost annually, in a variety of locales, for decades.  As we have many times before, we parked in front of their house.  Today was a bit different because of the recalcitrant step.  We had a wonderful supper and watched the presidential debate.  As fellow Republicans, we enjoyed the Romney performance.  We left this morning just before ten after a nice breakfast of quiche, fruit and muffins.
     The facial foliage is a new touch, and we think it looks great.
We then drove about 340 miles to Lumberton, NC where we stopped for the night.  It is less than 200 miles to Hanahan; and, were we younger, we would have sucked it up and headed home.  Cooler heads prevailed. We stopped and will have a four hour day tomorrow.
     As we were enjoying our last evening on the road for 2012, Durelle exclaimed,"Look at the sky!"  So I grabbed the camera and tried to capture some unexpected sunset pictures.


     Tomorrow we will arrive home after five months and five thousand miles.  It has been a fine summer, but we are looking forward to getting home with bathtubs, newspaper delivery, a backyard for Baxter and the company of our daughter Cindy.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Front Royal, VA

     Today was a 325 mile jaunt that seemed longer than it was.  There were no catastrophic show stoppers... just a bunch of aggravations that added up to a long day.  The first issue that has bothered since the toll booth on the Mass Pike is the fact that the electric step will not retract.  A good theory is that when Durelle had to get out to get a toll ticket (the ticket dispenser was way too low for me to reach), I moved forward before the step had fully retracted and it hit the curb.  At any rate it won't come in.  The fuse is OK, but there is no power to the step as indicated by the fact that the light doesn't work.  A call to Red Bay didn't help.  It is not really a problem as long as I know to drive accordingly.  The problems occur when my freedom of action is limited as in gas stations and those construction zones where the Jersey barriers encroach from both sides.  We had both today.  In addition I started the drive with the first nose bleed I've had in twenty years.  On I-84 and I-81 we had heavy rain, dense fog, hundred foot visibility and road repair all at the same time.  At one point we had all of those things plus signs that said "Deer Crossing" and "Falling Rock" to top things off. The heart of this region is Frackville, PA; Hi, Jeri.   It was a morning of a "leaning forward" drive that required more intense concentration than I want to sustain for a whole day.
     Fortunately, everything improved in the afternoon.  Even the road surface smoothed out.  The fact that the fuel pump at Flying J would only deliver three gallons per minute for an 82 gallon fill-up was the next to the last difficulty.  When we arrived at the campground, the site was unacceptable.  There was some sort of an insert in the sewer fitting the precluded attaching my hose and it was so unlevel that I had three tires off the ground.  So we moved, which was another hassle.
     From there things got much better.  We each had good showers and met Tom and Dagmar Loose for supper at a nice small place in Front Royal.  It was a excellent meal, and very nice company.  In the mid-sixties, while we were living on base at Elmendorf AFB in Alaska, Dagmar was our next door neighbor and frequent babysitter for Cindy and Mark.  The picture below shows the four of us.  It is not a great shot, because the flash didn't, but it shows the four of us over coffee at the end of a great meal.



Monday, October 1, 2012

We Are Heading South

     Well, after a long summer, we are southbound.  There were a couple of foliage shots in the campground that Durelle liked, so I tried my best to capture them.  I tried to tell her that I had all the foliage shots I needed, but I do what I am told.  Actually they are not bad.
          This morning as we were packing up to leave, Mark arrived.  We had a good visit, and he was available to assist the front, driver's side slide as I retracted it.  As I mentioned earlier,  it will stay in place until we can get back to Protech in Charleston to get it fixed.  We have been on the road since May and this bus has been "rode hard and put away wet".  
     We have stopped at a KOA in Cuddebackville, NY.  It is listed as Deer Park KOA because, I think, the signage would not permit Cuddebackville KOA.  Today we discovered that the steps would not retract.  We called Red Bay and followed their suggestions.  No Joy.  The good news is that an extended step is only a problem if you don't know about it.  It will present a problem as we sidle up to the curb in Fairfax.  Fortunately there are no more toll booths to navigate.  We also lost a lens over the door light as we hit a pavement break in NY.
     We have several good friends to visit in VA and we will be home on Friday with or without a step. 



Sunday, September 30, 2012

Departure Day

     Well, tomorrow morning we leave the  Field and Stream RV Park.  When we stop here next year it will be eight consecutive years that we will have stayed at this little gem of a campground on Lake Potanipo.  Field and Stream  There are not a lot of campgrounds in this part of southern NH that can handle big rigs.  Dan MacLean runs a nice shop, and he can help with your computer problems.
     I did one last day of playing photographer and picked up a few things to take back, Beefeaters and Absolut for $24.99 are an example.
     The first picture I took was looking across Lake Potanipo.  As is usual, the color starts at the waterline.
     Later I checked out our old house on Marian Lane in Nashua.  We were the first owners in 1977.  It is now surrounded by shrubs/trees so a good picture was not available.  Because this was the place we lived when the kids were in high school, it contains many good memories.
     Later, on the way back I took some pictures at the Lull Farms in Hollis.  Do you want to make a jack-o-lantern?
     So, the summer is ending.  Tomorrow morning we'll hook up the Jeep behind the bus and head south.  On Tuesday we'll arrive in VA.  There we will reconnect with Tom and Dagmar Loose, Lee and Dodi Myers, and Allen and Joyce Wegner.  We'll be home on Friday.  It has been a great summer.  Keep in touch.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Wandering Around Nashua, NH

     Today I spent a couple of hours wandering around in search of photo ops and getting some last minute groceries.  The first such opportunity was a former railroad station for the town of Brookline where we are staying.  I drive by it every morning to get Durelle her morning paper and had always planned to take a picture.  Today I did.  It has been turned into a comfortable home, but it still sports the station name and the railroad semaphore tower.
     The next stop was in Hollis (est. 1746) to see if there were some alpaca shots.  They are cuter than a basket of bunnies and produce some wonderful wool.
     Here's a close-up of one of the youngsters.
     And, of course, kids and animals are always a safe fallback for a photographer,
     Later, I drove by our penultimate house.  It was supposed to have been our last house when we had it built in 1990, but we sold it in 2004 (timing is everything) and moved to SC.  It is a wonderful, rambling place on the Nashua River with many original and attractive features.
     As you can see, it certainly had room to park a motorhome or four.

Smokey Bones in Nashua, NH

     We only have two days to find that classic fall foliage picture.  Yesterday's steady rain has ceased, but it is still too cloudy for really good foliage shots.  Last night there were eight of us at a popular local spot for supper.
     Here is the girl's table with Durelle, Heather, and Carolyn, Brielle's Mom. It was too difficult to get a flash picture of two adjoining tables, so I took a separate picture of the guys.
     This, of course, is Mark (with a Coke!) and our two grandsons, Kevin and David.  Clowning in the background is great granddaughter Brielle  who has never seen a camera she didn't love.
     This afternoon I'll be doing some last minute grocery shopping and returning a favor to neighbor Janice who helped with my car troubles a few days ago.  She'll be packing up her rig which has been in place for the summer.  Keep in touch.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Supper at the Mile Away

     Last evening we met our barbecuing friends, Tim and Wendy Boucher for supper at the Mile Away in Milford, NH.  This restaurant, nicely situated in an old New England farm, has been one of our favorite restaurants in the area for over thirty years.  See Mile Away .  The farm was built in 1746 and was turned into a restaurant in 1967 by a couple of folks from Switzerland.  Ownership changed hands thirty years later, but it still retains a largely European and mostly Bavarian flavor with a couple of traditional  Yankee accents.  For example, my dessert was pumpkin bread pudding.  It's the sort of place where you can order roast duck and be sure that it won't be over-glazed or over-done, and I did.  Veal and schnitzel entrees are good choices as well.
     I didn't use the camera yesterday, so there are no pictures to fit the narrative.  Nonetheless, all prose and no pixels makes Frank a dull boy, so here is one of Baxter with a few of his friends.
          It rained steadily all day, but we'll venture out tonight to meet a large portion of the clan at Smokey Bones for supper.  We head south on Monday.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Another search for fall foliage

     Today we returned to our old stompin' grounds in the Athol/Orange area.  About a mile and a half north of Route 2A on Wheeler Avenue in Orange is the classic old Johnson Farm.  www.johnsonsfarm.net.  They have re-invented themselves as a restaurant and gift shop specializing in traditional fare, wonderful attitude and some atypical  farm animals.  They also make a lot of maple syrup.  Below is a picture of a trailer with a pile of sap buckets waiting for spring.
      The farm has a number of interesting animals; there is a sturdy donkey and an even sturdier ox.

     One of the reasons for the trip was to have lunch with Linda Cain.  Her husband, Bill, was the best man at our wedding 52 years ago.  Bill passed last fall.  After we left the restaurant, we stopped by the Quabbin Nursing Home to visit Hilda Hastings, a close friend of Durelle's parents, who will be 100 in March.
     On the way back to Brookline we took 202 north to 101A and east to Milford.  We stopped in Peterborough to take a few foliage shots and to walk the dog.
         We also swung by 15 Tamarack Court in Milford to take a picture of the place we lived while our house was being built on the Nashua River from '89 to '90.
     Tomorrow we'll meet Tim and Wendy Boucher for supper at the Mile Away restaurant in Milfiord.