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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Night #3 Northbound

     We are still getting some miscellaneous bugs out of the system (both the bus and us). Tonight we have settled into a lovely spot we have used before in Pine Grove, PA.  So you don't have to look it up, it is just north of Harrisburg a few miles west of I-81.
     Our first day out required a fill-up of diesel   We stopped at a Flying J in Latta,SC where I put in 127.499 gallons for $492.02!  Both numbers are new personal bests.  Our first night was at a KOA in Enfield, NC...just south of VA.  We have stayed there many times over the last fifteen years.  It is owned and operated by a retired USAF E-8.  It was there that we went through the process of getting this DirecTV receiver reactivated. That turned out to be a trouble free phone call once I got past the front end menus.
     Day 2 brought forth another glitch that had to be fixed.  I stood there in the shower waiting for hot water that never arrived.  With a towel wrapped around me (sorry, no pictures), I turned on the propane heater...still no luck.  I took a cold shower and called Pro Tech, and Freddie solved the problem immediately.  Actually, I should have figured it out myself.  There was no water in the hot water tank and it was bypassed during winterizing.  I re-positioned the bypass valve and released the hot water drain valve until I got water instead of air.  When the water level reached the required level, the propane ignited and we were back in business.  I never did find out if Durelle would have taken a cold shower as she claimed.  The rest of the day saw us continuing north on I-95 until we hit route 123 a few miles south of DC.  We have a serious problem with our stop in the vicinity of DC.  We have too many close friends in the area.  We kept with tradition by parking in front of the home of Allen and Joyce Wegner in Fairfax.  If there is one year since 1960 that the Cloutiers and the Wegners have not managed to get together somewhere, I can't remember it. In August of '60 when we moved into our less than modest one bedroom, furnished rental house for $80 per month they lived nearby and adopted us.  While I was a very naive brown bar, Al was a lofty 1st Lt.  Plus he had six years of prior enlisted service in the Navy.  Joyce took the already pregnant Durelle under her wing, and our two families have been closely linked ever since.

     They are both doing well and they celebrated their 60th !! anniversary last March.  Note the shiny bus, too.  So Durelle and I ask the indulgence of all our other DC friends for not making a connection with them this time.
     We woke up this morning to another glitch.  I had not run an extension cord to their house.  I figured I could run a couple of fans all night on just the batteries...wrong.  At 0530 Durelle woke me up because a number of items were emitting their "low voltage" beeps.  I unplugged a bunch of stuff, turned off the inverter and went back to bed for a couple of hours.  Then, when the Wegners were up, I ran extension cords.  During an extensive breakfast the batteries recharged, and we were off with no further difficulties.
     Because of the big breakfast, we did not stop for lunch and got in just after two.  We are set up on a hill with great TV and internet.  Today was about 220 miles, but tomorrow will be almost 400, so we plan to leave by 0730.  Wish us luck.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Day 1 of 2013

     Everything started off well enough this morning as we loaded the last minute items and got ready to go.  As is usual, the last item is to roll up the power cord and wave "Good Bye".  Guess what?  The refrigerator would not switch over to propane.  I called Wayne McCoy at ProTech, and he said, "Swing on by."  Within twenty minutes Freddie had fixed the fridge.  Some rust had fallen between the propane jet and the igniter.  Freddie also replaced a latch on the drawer under the dinette seat so that all the dog food would not slide out in a left hand turn.  I approached Wayne and said, "How about paying for a half hour of Freddie's time.  Wayne said, "Consider it a going away present".
     So we got away later than planned, but the trip was uneventful and we arrived at the Enfield KOA at about 1645.  The only other event was a fill-up at a Flying J...127.499 gal and $492.02...a new record!  I'm sure we will eventually break the $500 barrier.

On our way for 2013

                            We are heading out this morning.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Getting anxious to head north

     Well, the bus isn't going to be finished until next week.  Given that it will take the old farts three days to get it packed for the summer, we would be right in the teeth of the Memorial Day weekend.  Since it has been a long time since we have been in a hurry, we decided to wait until Tuesday the 28th to depart.  Below are a couple of shots of the bus masked up for painting.  Don't ask me to recount the stupidity that necessitated these repairs.  I did that last year.

     I did take a couple of shots in the back yard of the birds that are native to the area.  The first is a blue heron.

     The second is a C-17.

     This is what they look like on final approach over our house.  Last but not least is a bud on our magnolia tree.  With any luck, many of these buds will be in full bloom for a photo op before we leave.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Some pictures

     I have posted probably 2000 of MY pictures on this blog.  Tonight I am posting some that Durelle just took.  We have had all sorts of critters around our pond: eagles and ospreys fishing, geese and goslings parading, deer grazing, and alligators basking.  Lately there have been some nice sunsets.  Here's a few of Durelle's shots.

     It doesn't look like we'll get the bus on the 15th, so we are tweaking our northbound schedule.  Because of Memorial Day weekend we don't have as much tweaking flexibility as we would like.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Bus Repairs

     Most of you recall my embarrassed accounting of how I damaged the rear cap of the bus just before we departed for our 2012 summer.  It was nicely patched with color-coordinated 'gorilla' tape that worked fine all summer.  A new, one piece end cap had to be manufactured at Tiffin and shipped to ProTech here in North Charleston.  Below is a picture of the shipping container.

     Once it was laid out on the floor of the body shop, the old cap was removed and all dimensions were checked and found to be identical.  No surprise; they must have come out of the same mold.  It was necessary to add reinforcing plates where the ladder is mounted.   The next shot is the rear of the bus with the cap removed.

     Below is a shot of the reinforcing plate being installed.

     Here is a shot of Freddie and Willie and the job ahead of them.

     Once mounted, the finicky job of repainting the multiple colors and matching the stripes can start.  That's Willie's specialty.  The plan is to have it done on the 15th so we can depart on the 18th.  Keep your fingers crossed.