Airstream Time

Exploring North America in an Airstream

Posts from the ‘Cities’ category

Solar Installation Naples, Florida

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March 26, 2017

The whole reason for this great trip was to have state of the art solar installed on the Airstream. After many hours of research and considering doing it myself, I found the best man for the job was Lew Farber in Naples. Lew splits his time between Oregon and Naples. I am so happy I didn’t try to do this job!! Lew did a fabulous job and is a really nice guy. It took 8 days for Lew to get it done, so we toured Naples for a week, which made Martha very happy. 

We stayed at the best Best Western there could be. The staff was great, the grounds were very cool, nice pool and a good location. I have never seen so many fancy, expensive cars in my life. Rolls, Bentleys, Ferraris, Teslas, Porsches, Jaguars and Maseratis. Mercedes, BMWs and Lexus were a dime a dozen. The car of the year in Florida though is the Mustang. I have never seen so many Mustangs. Of course this is a very rich city with incredible houses, and there are stories of success everywhere. 

We rode bikes through neighborhoods with landscaping so beautiful. We took the tour tram to get the big picture. We drove to beaches and restaurants, the winner being Capt. Marco’s for fresh fish, fried plantains and black beans. The chocolate soufflé was the winning desert at an Italian restaurant. Then there was the gourmet hotdog place. We had to leave town while we could move! 

There are so many new developments surrounding this area, it is mind-boggling. All the congressmen want the Federal government to help them with water to save the Everglades! Typical! There are just too many people in Florida. I could say that about Charlottesville too. The amount of development and people with all the water consumed and put back into the system makes me wonder how it can be done. Then the landscaping, and every house has sprinkler systems. Fruit and vegetable farms are abundant, along with cattle. They have to irrigate a lot too. The Everglades are at the end of the water line.

Lancaster County Bike Ride

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41℉ at 5:00, high of 64℉

Monday, October 31, 2016

I went to Nissan in Lancaster to have a pinion seal replaced. Suddenly I was just like everyone else, rushing to get somewhere. At 6:15 in the morning, there was a lot of traffic. I wasn’t expecting that at that time of day. I wouldn’t have made it without the GPS telling me where to go.  It was nice to catch up on posting with their great WIFI. As I drove back I saw Martha walking home from shopping. She had seen some good things, so we went back. I needed a snack, so we went to the pretzel shop on Main Street. A young Amish girl greeted us, and we asked for two whole wheat pretzels. She suggested we sit outside while she made them, and she would bring them out. I got a freshly squeezed lemonade and we sat outside. Fifteen little chickadees knew the routine. Sitting on the railing, in a bush and on the deck, they watched our every move. Once the pretzels came, they really got excited. The pretzel was so good, hot, soft, but I should have requested massive amounts of salt. Otherwise, it was a perfect pretzel.  I saved a few crumbs for the birds. 

There is a great jam and jelly store, where they make everything right there. I watched them for a while cooking and stirring, and loading jars. There were several cool things about this store. One, you could watch them making it, so you know that part is authentic. Two, you can taste everything with sampling jars and chips or crackers all around. Three, there are some concoctions I have never heard of. I wanted to try them all! 

On the way back, we passed a beautiful Vis-a-Vis carriage. Two young ladies were removing the gear from two beautiful Percherons. They had come to take a disabled girl for a carriage ride. I wish I had seen all of this in action, but we had a nice chat as I imagined driving this beautiful rig.

After lunch Martha took me for the bike ride she had done yesterday, along the Scenic Road, along Ridge Road and to the ice cream store on one of the farms. This was a good ride through beautiful country. Little children were happily walking home with their bright yellow alert vests on. We turned into Lapp Valley Farm, up the drive and past the house. Across from the barn where someone was feeding the milk cows was an ice cream store. A porch surrounded it with tables and chairs arranged around it. I pretty kitty cat greeted us from the railing. Three young Amish girls greeted us. As she scooped our chocolate and raspberry ice cream, I looked around the store. There was a window behind the counter, and realized people were driving around back to order from their cars. There was a pretty steady line. A gentleman walked out with a bag of pints of ice cream. They don’t take credit cards, so there was a handy ATM machine to the side. Two tall rotating racks were filled with Amish books. I thought several would be interesting reading. We headed out tot he porch in the sun and sat down. The kitty followed and soon was crawling down Martha’s arm to get a taste of our ice cream. Her twin followed. I politely put them on the ground several times. Surely the girls would be watching, and they were very cute cats. We had turned out backs to the table, trying to protect our prize. When we finished I held the cup shoulder level. Both kitties put their feet on my shoulder and put their heads into the cup, quickly cleaning it. 

Riding back over the hill and turning along a ridge, a buggy turned out behind us. I could hear the lovely clip clop trot behind me. On level ground he was catching me. I love that sound! I looked at my bike speedometer that registered 11mph. That’s a fast trot! When I was eventing horses, I used to say a horse walk was 4 mph, trot 8mph and canter 12mph. Of course a racehorse can run 40mph. This trotter behind me had to be doing 12mph, which is a fast trot. We came to a down hill stretch where I coasted at 15mph, putting some unwanted distance between us. I will miss seeing the horses on the roads, in the barns and working the fields. 

We went back to Kauffman’s for some sausage to go with the sauerkraut. Then I went to a couple of antique stores looking for campfire tools, but couldn’t find any. I have been so amazed by the tracks and  grooves the buggies leave, I took some pictures. On one, you can see the wheel tracks that are rimmed with steel, but the other amazing thing is the deep groove the horses make in the paved road.

Wear of the road outside Intercourse where the horses trot along

Biking Lititz in Lancaster County

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59℉ at 6:00 am with high of 82

Sunday, October 30, 2016

We have enjoyed our neighbors so much. A young couple from Alabama, Page and Jeremy. They were packing up to leave, so we visited some more and said our goodbyes. Then we loaded Martha’s bike to go for a bike ride in Lititz. While waiting for Martha to get ready, I talked with gentleman hooking up a Nissan Titan to his giant trailer. He was in the horse business and used to haul horses all over, driving diesel dually trucks. I said I was worried about my transmission since I downshift so much on big hills, but he said it is a lot harder on the truck if you don’t downshift. Like me, he was worried about it being enough truck to pull the trailer that weighs 7,600 pounds, but he said it does great. He hardly knows the trailer is there, and he loves the engine. He said he measured his gas mileage at 19.5! I don’t measure mine very often, but it’s more like 15. 

We drove through the cute little town of Lititz, where a lot of shops were open on Sunday, and it was pretty busy when we drove in. I thought we were biking in a park, but Martha handed me a piece of paper with 28 turns on it and the mileage between turns – Sheez! We rode right up main street with cars parked on both sides and traffic coming through. A few turns later the route carried us along a pretty stream and past beautiful farms and some very expensive houses. Then it came out on a busy highway with a narrow bike lane. I wasn’t happy. Then through neighborhoods and back down main street. I felt like the Amish driving their buggies – fortunate to have survived. 

Then we drove across the county to the Toy Train Museum, which is very cool. It is built and maintained by toy train enthusiasts. Built like a train station, it seems to be in the middle of farm country. We chatted with the nice lady behind the desk before paying the senior rate with a AAA discount, of $5 each. There were maybe 21 different exhibits or setups, some with small trains and some with large. Pushing buttons, you could activate a train or equipment. A little boy was telling his mom all the details of what was going on in an exhibit. He was so excited. A bent old gentleman was doing the same with his patient wife. The lady at the front said once a year there is a toy train convention. People come from all over the world, bringing the same enthusiasm, trading and buying cars and accessories. 

Next to the museum is a caboose hotel where you can stay in one of a whole bunch of cabooses. What a cool idea. As we drove through to the far end, we heard a train whistle. There is a little train station there, but this train didn’t stop today. It was a sightseeing train with many cars and a lot of people touring Amish country. This would be a great way to see it. 

It was supposed to rain today, but it hadn’t come when we got back. I wanted to go out to the ridge road at sunset and take some pictures, but by the time we showered, the rains came in hard with a lot of wind. We settled in with a glass of wine and listened to one of the Neil Young CD’s I bought from Ken.

Lancaster County Day 2

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32℉ at 4:30

Saturday, October 29, 2016

I can’t get on the WIFI….again! We did laundry in the Beacon Hill Campground. They have a very nice laundry with good machines. The showers are also very good. You can borrow movies in the office, so we watched Robert Duval in “One Night in Mexico”, which was fun, but won’t win any awards. We get 20 channels on TV here, a first, but we just kept rotating channels trying to find something. 

In need of a haircut, I went over to Paradise. It didn’t open until 9:00 on Saturdays, so I walked around a bit. When I got back, Ken was opening up. Walking in to the two-chair shop, I was struck by hundreds of records in the small room. CD’s were arranged in boxes, some being for sale. As his new kitty tugged on my blue jeans, Ken began cutting. Of course we talked about all the music. There was an impressive array of equipment in the corner – turntable, receiver, CD player etc. He has collected since he was a kid. He said he has rooms of music in his home. He was proud of his new laser record player he got from Japan for $13,000 that will play very old, scratched up records without a flaw. He played a CD he recorded from WWII 78’s. It was flawless. I bought some CD’s as we continued to talk. This is a man who loves music, a very interesting fellow. I am so happy I needed a haircut! If you are ever in Paradise and need a haircut, or you love music, go see Ken at Sweigart Barber Shop!

We went into Intercourse (finally). Martha wanted to visit the bike shop to get some routes to ride. I walked the street and got a few pictures. I counted 8 tour busses parked a block off Main Street. It’s only a few blocks of town, but it looked like Bar Harbor. The Amish were also doing business and shopping on this Saturday morning, carriages and horses in the middle of busy traffic. They are allowed to use bikes without pedals, so we saw several using them. We drove up to Kauffman’s Store. Although the parking lot was full and a tour buss across the street, they moved people through quickly. All kinds of apples, apple cider, a great meat counter and all sorts of other goodies. We loaded up.

By the time we got back and had lunch, I didn’t feel so good and had a nice, long nap. Martha went for a bike ride through the beautiful farms. I hated missing that, but felt better. As you ride through the farms, you can find all kinds of treasures. Vegetables are everywhere, along with pumpkins, and watermelon. Some have baked goods, pies and breads. Some leave things on the corner to buy on the honor system. We passed a shoe store with five buggies parked in the front, and there is a hat store on a farm up the hill from our campground. 

Lancaster County

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42℉ at 5:00

Friday, October 28, 2016

The weather report in Lancaster, PA looks good for the next week, so we packed up and headed south. We booked a campground in Intercourse that only had one spot left, but they have WIFI and a laundry.  It’s only a two-hour drive……..except the main highway, 476, is a toll road only open to EZ Pass, and we didn’t have one. It took us a while to figure out where to go, but the drive turned out to be very pretty until we got in the Allentown area where traffic got crazy. There were a lot of turns on the route, so by the time we found the little campground, we were frazzled. Intercourse is a small town, but very cute. 

Once we got settled, I searched for a Nissan dealer and found one in Lancaster, 20 minutes away, and they have a “Quick Lane” so we could get the oil changed. We took the little roads to see beautiful, very neat farms. Horse-drawn carriages startled me on the roads where the speed limit is 45, and no one was going that slow. It will be fun to bike or drive some of these back roads. 

Fortunately, the Nissan people could take us and change the oil while we waited in their nice reception area for an hour and a half. They found a leak in the transfer case, so we will return Monday to get that fixed. He said the brakes are also getting a bit thin. This truck has driven many mountains on this trip and a previous trip across Canada for four months. I am surprised I have any brakes at all! I downshift a lot going down steep hills, and we have been down a bunch of them. No doubt it is a lot of wear and tear on the transmission

We left at rush hour on a Friday afternoon and the traffic was crazy. One accident tied up traffic for a while. I was surprised by the size and amount of traffic in Lancaster. I remembered it being a lot smaller. Driving through the city, I felt like I was in Baltimore. I later learned the population is 60,000.

The campground girl had recommended an Amish restaurant, so we went there for dinner, imagining great, fresh vegetables and home-style cooking. What we got was fast service and so-so food. The place was packed with a line out the door. The price was good, but I felt like cattle being fed. 

Taking many turns by the GPS that was probably set to avoid main highways, we passed a lot of Amish carriages. It was dark, and it’s hard enough to see on these little roads, but the thought of hitting a carriage was not good. I crept along. Why were there so many out here in the dark? They have lights and blinking caution lights, but still you are not sure what is in front of you. Locals driving here are like anywhere else on Friday night – anxious to get home, some rabid to get somewhere in a hurry, one passing me on a yellow line. They don’t seem to slow down a bit for the carriages. By the time we got back to the campground and driving all afternoon, I was struck by the huge clash between a group of people trying to simplify life and a frantic modern world of growing population, heavy traffic, McDonalds, Walmart  and every other chain store. This is not a pretty clash. I guess we are not helping the situation as there are plenty of tourists here to see beautiful farms. As I got ready to step into the trailer, I heard trotting hooves climbing the steep hill on the road beside us. Waiting to finally see him, it was a very cool sound in the night. Soon, he passed by with a trotter’s pace, lights blinking as he went by. 

West to Catskills

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32℉ at 5:00

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

We decided to head west through the Green Mountains on Rt. 7, then 9 to 87 south to 23 that took us through Haines Falls, then 214 south into the heart of the Catskills. It was a pretty drive all around. The East side of the Green Mountains were without leaves, yet they were still pretty. At the top of the highest mountain there was a viewing area, but it was on the wrong side of a busy highway with no room for a trailer. After crossing over, there was snow on the ground. They probably got 4-5 inches a couple of days ago. As we drove down the west side, there were leaves and colors. I don’t know what the story is on the town of Bennington, but it is beautiful, and unlike some of the other towns, this is an affluent area.

Well, I hate busy interstates, and 87 goes to New York City. It’s a small interstate with a lot of traffic and a speed limit of 65. The wind was blowing hard, moving us around just a bit, but it makes you concentrate. The scenery was pretty following the Hudson River, but I was happy to turn off on 23 at exit 21. Driving through a wilderness area on a very narrow, winding road with huge drop-offs and road construction, made the palms sweat a bit. It was obvious everything was very dry. There was very little water in any stream. Then winding down 214 south through the Catskills, we arrived at Phoenicia, a small town and a campground that was still open. There is no WIFI and no cell phone service in this little river gorge. We had no WIFI in New Hampshire either, at least that my Mac would let me get on. 

We checked into the campground and talked with George, the owner. He said they hadn’t had rain all summer, and the river we were camped on should be two feet higher. He only takes cash, so we went up to town, a block away, got some cash and walked the two blocks of the cute, little town. Martha went into the library to get WIFI and emails while I roamed the interesting hardware store next door that had a sign on the front for guided fishing trips. A young girl worked the counter. She was bored to death, working her cell phone. 

A few doors up we went into a deli and baked goods shop. A german lady greeted us. I first noticed what appeared to be a banana coated with almond slivers with an edge of chocolate. “Now that’s the way to eat a banana!” I said. With a strong german accent, she said, “Not a banana”. I never quite got the name of it, but it was almond paste with coconut inside and I bought one. Martha bought a double cookie filled with jam and dusted with powdered sugar. We also bought some roast beef and some wild berry jam. I wanted a few other things, but resisted. The lady smiled as we left and said, “Enjoy your not a bananna”. 

There were a couple of restaurants, a grocery store, a gas station and a wine shop. What else do you need? With a forecast of 4-5 inches of snow tomorrow night, Martha wants to escape to the south, so we will wind our way south through the park tomorrow and head for Amish Country of Pennsylvania, and hopefully some WIFI.

Three Hikes and a Lobster Roll

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High of 74℉. Hiked in shorts

Thursday, October 20, 2016

After doing some laundry, we decided to explore the southern side of the Quietside of Acadia National Park. We walked the “Wonderland Trail”, a short hike to the coast. The tide was out, which was best for this hike. Park signs told us to explore the pools around the rocks to find Periwinkle (snails) of two varieties, sea urchins and seaweeds. As we walked around the rocks, Periwinkles were everywhere. It would be easy to gather a meal here. Seaweed with little pods on them were just like the ones we saw at Hopewell Rocks where the tour guide told us it could be used as a facial conditioner. I popped a little pod open and applied the clear cream under my eyes and on my forehead. Now I look 30 years younger! 

It was a very short drive to the second hike, “Ship’s Harbor Nature Trail”. It’s so crazy that two hikes very close together could be so different. The forest was different, more boreal with mosses and mushrooms. We saw a beautiful pumpkin-colored bird we have never seen before. Then you come out to a beautiful cove, which at high tide would surely hide a small ship, maybe a smuggler. The tide was coming in strong, looking like a river rushing downhill. Several ducks rested in the protected area.

Coming back out, we wanted what might be the last lobster roll, so we went to Charlotte’s Lobster Pound for lunch. With picnic tables all around and a busy parking lot, we placed our order, sharing a lobster roll, two ears of corn on the cob boiled in the lobster pot and a piece of blueberry pie with ice cream. This is a happening place with a goat to pet while you watch the cook working outdoors. 

After lunch we walked through a park campground to get to a short carriage trail. Only two miles one way, we decided to walk it. It isn’t as pretty as yesterday’s trail, but still a lovely, quiet walk in the woods where we didn’t see a soul. Somewhere along the walk, Martha said she didn’t know why she thought she might be able to walk that famous trail in Spain. 

Stopping at the grocery store, we stocked up on a few things. We have had incredible weather in this great park. Still after a week we have left many things undone. Every time we explored one thing, we discovered two more. So many little side roads to drive, hikes to take and wonderful seafood to eat. I think I have had enough lobster for a while, but I love the fish sandwiches, fish and chips, and I never did get a crab roll which Andrea said was great. We’ll just have to come back after winning the lottery and buy a Hinkley Picnic boat.

Acadia National Park Loop Drive

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

After lunch it was cloudy, a little breezy and felt cool although it was 57 degrees. We decided to first drive through Northeast Harbor. The road along Northeast Harbor is so pretty! We stopped several times to take pictures on this little, narrow road. The iconic tree lives here. You see graphics of it on T-shirts and other things. We stopped at the harbor for a few more pictures and then walked through the little town. An expresso and a cookie helped recharge us. We drove the neighborhoods looking at incredible houses right on the water. We also drove by Asticou Gardens. We didn’t go in because we have been there before and we didn’t have enough time to go back, but it is a beautiful garden!

We found our way to the Park Loop Drive. I’ve run out of words to describe the beauty of leaves now in their peak, beautiful bays and rocky coasts. It was raining off and on. Fog covered the mountaintops, but there were holes where the sun shone through, lighting up the colorful trees. I love shooting pictures in the fog. It silhouettes trees and pops them to the foreground. Martha has been very patient letting me stop and take pictures, but I can tell when it’s time to get on with it. 

We took about an hour and 15 minutes to drive the loop. You could take all day if you hike or picnic. We passed a photography group at work. I can’t wait to bike the trails tomorrow!

Wendell Gilley Art Museum

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47℉ at 6:30 am, cloudy, high 57℉

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

We spent the better part of the morning doing laundry and cleaning up inside the trailer. A visit to the Wendell Gilley Museum was the next order of the day. I spent a lot of time there in 2012 while Martha took a bike tour in the park. I love this place! Mr. Gilley was a plumber for most of his life. He had a very successful business on the island, having four employees. In his mid-50’s he began carving birds as a hobby. The museum has a great film interview of him 35 years ago. The young girl who interviewed him for the film still works at the museum, and came up to talk to us after watching it. You can see his soft manner and speech, telling how he got started and how it progressed. He gave his first tiny decoy to a secretary of a local business. Years later, after he had become famous, she gave it back to him, saying he should have his original carving. He made her a new one in exchange. He said he could work with drills and sanders, but holding the wood in his hands, he could feel the bird as it developed, and feel what he needed to change. Working for a special client, he tried hard to make a great carving and kept failing. He said his best work came when he just carved, letting the work flow. He had a great little shop to work in, saying he enjoyed the quiet hours alone. He finally sold his plumbing business and spent all his time carving.

One room of the museum has his original workbench and tools. A very nice gentleman, Steven Valleau,  carves at another table. He has been carving for 30 years or more and teaches classes. In the winter there is a 6-month course, but there are also 1-day or multiple-day courses (http://www.wendellgilleymuseum.org/education/workshops.html). The museum is an active place where artists come to see or practice or show their work. A cabinet holds work of some of the students. A man talked with Steven about his own carvings, what he was doing and what he needed help with.

We spent an hour or so marveling at Mr. Gilley’s many carvings. I have often thought of carving, so I bought his book and Martha bought some placemats. I love this active museum. Mr. Valleau said it was well worth a trip to visit Mr. Gilley’s cousin, who also carves. We saw a sign for his house on our drive yesterday. If we pass it again, we will go in.