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Friday, August 31, 2012

Tick-Tock. Has It Been That Long Already?

The old adage: Time flies when you’re having fun, certainly applies to us.  All the struggles of getting a house ready to sell and then selling it and hitting the road full time in December2011 has been worth it.

A year ago tomorrow I retired from the U.S. Coast Guard and started my full time work updating and painting our house to sell.  It’s hard to believe that I’m no longer a rookie retiree, I have survived my first year, sold the house, hit the road with my bonnie bride and survived to tell about it.  If I never hold another paintbrush…

Many wonderful people have come into our lives over the years, and many new ones since we started full timing.  Last night we got a chance to see some unusual friends, unusual in the way that not only are they friends of ours, but of our son Ryan’s and daughter Heather’s.

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Matt and Kristen lived in Charleston, SC when we first met them.  Matt and Ryan were stationed together in the Coast Guard and had deployed to Gitmo, Cuba after 9-11 to work in the port security unit there.

Ryan later was transferred to a cutter in Charleston and introduced them to Heather and SIL Brian, who was also stationed in Charleston, with the Navy.  We got to know Matt and Kristen more as time went on and visited with them at times when we were visiting Ryan and Heather, who lived just blocks from each other on the Navy base (that was really convenient).

Matt and Kristen visited us in Virginia, too.  Last night we got a chance to visit with them once again in their new home near Charleston on a beautiful eight acre piece of property.  You know where this is going, don’t you?  Yep, an open invitation to park our Journey at their home whenever we visit the Charleston area.  I won’t call it “Moochdocking” any longer, so I’ll now call it “GAFH”,(Gladly Accepting  Friend’s Hospitality).

Sometimes the beautiful places we travel makes our fulltime life great, sometimes being with family makes our fulltime life great and sometimes the wonderful friends, both old and new make our fulltime life great.  So much to be thankful for.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Steering Wheel Table

We made a steering wheel table for our Journey.  It is a nice little addition to make the inside more warm and homey.  Originally we had one of the plastic tables we purchased for way too much money from Camping World, it was cheesy, hard to use and unstable.  It tipped over a few times, dumping everything off onto the floor.

Friends of ours, Steve and Karen, had made a table for their Phaeton and gave us instructions on how to make one for ourselves.

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It was so easy, even I could do it.  And do it I did, so now we are greeted by this nice accent table, with our “dog”, Tag watching out as well as a picture frame, a lamp and our Sandy Hook Lighthouse memento of the favorite place we once lived.

The candy in the bowl? It’s for the grandkids.  Honest!  ;c)

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So how does one make a table, easily, and cheaply?  Read on.

I purchased a round, three legged, 20 inch accent table at Walmart, it was under $10.  The underside has three brackets to screw in the legs.  Remove them but keep the screws.  The legs?  They make good poking sticks for campfires.

I tilted my steering wheel as far up as it would go to get measurements to make the table level.

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Next I put the table on the wheel, drew some lines underneath with a marker to establish where the wheel is.  Then I measured the distance to make the table level on the wheel

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I cut a piece of scrap wood to the size to make the table level and attached it with a hinge and used some of the aforementioned screws.

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The hinge allows the piece to lay flat for storage.

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Then, using some Velcro straps and screws, I  attached the Velcro, two at the top of the table,

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and two on the hinge piece.

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You can see the black curved lines I drew to mark where the steering wheel is located to place the Velcro straps correctly.

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Attach the table with the Velcro straps and you have a quick, sturdy location to place whatever you’d like on it.  Cover the table with any kind of table cloth or doily and you are set.

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Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Monday, August 27, 2012

Won One - Finally!

Our Journey is a great home and a very complex machine at the same time.  I am very fussy about keeping all of its systems well maintained and functioning at peak performance.  Yet, no matter how much TLC I put into the Journey, things break, and usually at a very inconvenient time and costing money to repair.  The joy of RV travel, we've all been there.

We have a King Dome In Motion Satellite Dish, it is a great feature.  We've used it often driving down the highway to entertain the grandkids with their favorite TV shows, or keeping a "weather eye" on the upcoming weather.  When we park, if the sky is clear of trees, a push of the button and we're enjoying our DirecTV channels.



The last time I used at the New Jersey "home" campground, when it started searching for the signal, it locked on, but made a strange grinding noise.  Not good.

I couldn't do anything about it then, but now that we're here in our South Carolina "home" for a few weeks, I thought I'd go up on the roof and take a look.  If there was something that I could fix, I'd do it, but with the complexity of the dome mechanism, I didn't hold my breath.  This would be the place to have the dome replaced if it was suffering a fatal malady, there is a nearby Camping World where I could go and have another chance to use my extended warranty.  Of course that would entail breaking camp, going down there with the Journey for how many days it might take to replace the dome.   Plus, even though the extended warranty would fix it, I still would have to pay a $100 deductible plus the sales tax on the new dome.

I grabbed my electric screwdriver and several other assorted tools and climbed up on the roof.  Of course, the one thing I forgot was my camera (sorry, no pictures).  I took the top of the dome off and peered into the workings of a device that must have been related to the engines on the Space Shuttle.  And...there it was.

A little shiny electrical part, about the size of a pack of matches, with three wires and a plug was laying in the bottom of the dome mechanism.  Looking around I found where it had been glued to a bracket and where the wires plugged into a tiny socket.  Evidently, the glue had failed, the little electrical part fell down and got caught in the mechanism as it turned looking for a satellite signal.  The turning brackets pulled the wires out of the plug and dropped it to the bottom of the dome where it finally caught and made the grinding noise as the mechanism searched.

I found a safer place for the part, glued it down where it won't have a chance to come loose and plugged the wires back in.  I called down to Marti to turn on the dome and it began to twirl and elevate skyward like it normally does.  The best part is no more grinding sounds.

I can't do a test to see if it finds a signal due to the heavy tree cover here at the campground, but just watching and listening to it, I'm very sure the problem has been solved.

It is nice win one for a change.  :c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a commet.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

30 Amp To 50 Amp Adapter Box

The other day I had posted how I was able to get 50 amps from a 30 amp power pedestal at the campground we’re staying  at.  It drew a lot of emails from folks wanting to know about it.
Here is a picture of the Adapter Box.

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It has two cables that merge into the box.  On both cables there is the 30 amp plug.  You need to use a 30 amp to 20 amp adapter on one cable end.  The box comes supplied with it.

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The cables go into the box and through some circuitry magic, they give you 50 amps at the 50 amp socket.

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You can plug your 50 amp power cord or first your surge protector into this socket.  The Adapter Box does not offer any surge protection.

The key to all of this is on the power pedestal you need to have one of the old 20 amp electrical sockets, like this.

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If the pedestal has one of the updated GFCI sockets (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter), it will not work.  The GFCI socket will sense a missing ground and trip.  There is no danger, just the GFCI doing its job.

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You plug the 30 amp plug into the 30 amp socket and the 20 amp plug into the 20 amp socket and you get 50 amps.

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Finding power pedestals with the non GFCI sockets are getting pretty rare.  The electrical code requires a GFCI socket at the pedestals, but there seems to be a grandfather clause and the old style non GFCI socket can apparently be left in place until the pedestal is updated or replaced.

The Adapter Box is available from Camping World.  I do not know if I’d spend the money for another one based on the rarity of non GFCI sockets anymore.  The box I have I’ve used maybe two or three times in the several years that I’ve had it.  But when you can use it, it is a nice to have item.

 Ahhh, that air conditioning feels good!  :c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Marti’s Musings: My top 10– Likes

We have now been on the road for 8+ months, and there are some definite pros/cons surfacing.  Some of our commenters asked what my top 10 things would be, after Paul’s post with the same topic….  so, here goes!  Note:  these are not in any specific order.

1.  The ability to sleep 8:  because we are driven by family visits, we love the fact that we have 2 sofas (both turn into beds, one Queen, one double) and the dinette turns into a 3/4 bed (It might be a double, but I doubt it)

2.  Ice Maker – yup, we both love ice!

3.  Dinette storage – under the dinette seats there is some really good storage.  Much needed and very handy, unlike the outside compartments…

4.  Double kitchen sink – so much better than one big sink, for so many reasons!

5.  Filtered water dispenser, at the kitchen sink…  yummm

6.  Washer/dryer combo – only for small loads, if you don’t mind wrinkles…  towels, undies etc.  Actually this may go on my dislike list, too!  (to be fair, I think I have figured out a way to minimize wrinkles, but that is not totally proven yet)

7.  Steering wheel table – does this count if it is something Paul made/adapted for the rig?  I love it!

8.  Bedroom door -  not only for privacy, but it totally darkens the room for mornings we sleep in…

9.  The awnings – I love that we can (usually) make our own shade. I especially love the small one over the entrance door on rainy days!

10.  Darkened windows – our windows are all privacy darkened.  (except the windshield, of course) This is great and is proven effective with our Hummingbird feeder that we attach to the window by the dinette.  The little birds have no idea we are there, even if I put my hand right up the window (yup, I tried that) and we get an up-close-and-personal look at these adorable creatures.

I guess I will work on the top 10 dislikes, next....  Of course, the thing I like BEST of  being on the road is - you guessed it:  FAMILY TIME!!  We are blessed beyond measure. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Post

Sorry to have gotten our posts out of order with that Anniversary Post, but I couldn’t pass up that special occasion with all its special memories (Barf!).

When we last posted about our trip back to our South Carolina “home”, we were overnighting in a handy Walmart parking lot with about a half dozen other RVs.  We got a good night’s sleep despite a very heavy rainstorm.  Of course with my luck, it was still raining cats and dogs (very large cats and dogs) in the morning when we were going to leave.

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You’d think that it would not be a problem towing a car behind the motorhome, but with our Honda Element, before you can drive you have to go through a specific procedure with the automatic transmission or you can severely damage it. 

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After starting the engine, you have to move the shift lever in this direction with a five second stop in each gear: P-R-N-D-2-1-2-D-N, then idle the engine for at least three minutes.  Once that is done, the engine can be shut off, the trans left in neutral and the steering wheel unlocked.  Then you are good to go.

Of course that meant having to go out in the pouring rain.  Even with a raincoat and a boonie hat, I still got soaked.  Probably would have been drier if I had gone swimming.

Once the Element was done, we headed down the highway for the last part of our trip.  It rained on and off most of the way, but when we pulled into the campground, it had stopped.  Thank heavens, one bath a day is enough.

We set up in our spot.  Because the campground is heavily treed, out came the portable satellite dish.  It is a necessity for us, have to catch those “Everybody Loves Raymond” reruns.  ;c)

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The site has only 30 amps, but the power pedestal did not have a GFI plug on the 20 amp side, so I was able to use my current adapter.  One side plugs in to the 30 amp side, the other the 20 amp, then you can plug into it with your power cord and you have 50 amps. (If the 20 amp plug has a GFI socket, it won’t work).

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I showed the set up to the campground owner and offered to pay the 50 amp price, but she said it was okay.  No argument from me.

We are here for about 3 weeks, so we set up some of out more homey items, like the steering wheel table I made from some plans our friends gave us (thanks Steve and Karen!).

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I have some minor maintenance items to putter around with, including driving up to Gaffney, SC Freightliner shop and get a replacement hub cap for the one we lost on our Sioux Falls trip.  Can’t wait, that missing hubcap really bugs me.

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We had one unusual surprise when we arrived and it has to do with this:

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Why is a container of Tide upside down in the kitchen sink, you ask?

I was getting some items out of our cabinet over the washing machine and found the shelf was covered with Tide, making a real mess.  I had to take everything out and clean it up with numerous paper towels that Marti was handing me.  It wasn’t obvious why the container leaked, it was upright and the cap was on tight.

Then we found this, a crack in the bottom of the container.

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Of course the container is nearly full, so we have to find another one to transfer the liquid into.  Since the Tide has Downey fabric softener in it, is is really slimy.  It took several hand washings to get it out of my skin.  Yuk!

The best part of being here is seeing the grandsons.  We watched Andrew at football practice last night, his team was undefeated last year and the whole squad is back together again this year with their same coaches.  Maybe a second winning season is in the future?

Today Owie was over visiting with us, doing what he and Marti enjoy the most, playing video games on the Wii.

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It is going to be a great visit.  :c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Monday, August 20, 2012

Puking In The Parking Lot

There I was at around 8:30 in the morning, driving my 1971 Chevy pickup, its might six cylinder engine moving me down the road.

My stomach started feeling a little queasy, things were getting out of control down there.

Realizing I was in trouble, I pulled off the road into a parking lot and stopped.  I barely had time to open my door before my stomach erupted.  There I was, puking in the parking lot.

What was the cause?  I didn’t have the flu and it wasn’t from drinking, (not a drinker).

It was because of this:

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I was on my way to get on my tuxedo and meet my best friend to take her hand in marriage in an 11 o’clock ceremony.  My stomach gave me a hard time because of nerves.  Once I got past that parking lot episode, all was well and everything went smoothly.

Thirty five years ago today I puked in the parking lot, then married the love of my life.  We’ve had a wonderful life together and are enjoying life even more now that we’re fulltime on the road.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Losing My Touch?

We had mixed feelings.  It was so nice to visit with our son Ryan,  DIL Amber and granddaughters Taylor, Kierra and Rebekah in Pennsylvania,

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then visiting Anabelle with her daddy ( son Corey) and mommy (DIL Amanda),

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we pulled chocks and headed South to our other “home” in South Carolina.  It felt good to be rolling down the highway again.

The trip was only a mere 725 miles and we decided that we’d break it up into two days. 

Normally when we travel, we are in “Get to the Destination” mode, cover as many miles as we can so we can spend more time where we want to be.  It is a leftover practice from our working days and it still works well for us.  Our good friend Sherry calls this type of travel PDD (Paul Dahl Disorder).

We will slow down (someday) but until then, we’re racking up those miles and long travel days.  Except this trip.

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When we’re in the “Get There” mode, especially if it is a two day trip, I like to get as many miles covered the first day and the have a slower paced, more leisurely trip the last day.  Except this trip.

We left New Jersey Saturday morning and set as our goal to overnight at the Flying J near Latta, SC.  About 500 miles, not too heavy of a lift for us.  Except this trip.

Being a Saturday, I didn’t expect to have too much traffic on the Devil’s Highway, also know as Route 495, the Washington, DC Beltway. 

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Having lived and traveled all around DC for 13 years, I came to believe the Beltway was a possessed road, you never knew what to expect except you’d be sitting in a major traffic jam at least some part of the trip on it.

Saturdays, the Devil takes off.  I guess he likes his weekends, too.  Usually the Beltway is a breeze.  And I was right, it was a breeze, we zipped right around DC, over the brand new Wilson Bridge over the Potomac River and on to Virginia.  It was going to be smooth sailing.  Except this trip.

About ten miles South of the Beltway, on I-95, it happened.  A traffic jam.  Not just a traffic jam, but the Mother of all traffic jams.  It took us more than two hours to go about twenty miles.  Once the jam cleared up, it was still slow moving traffic for many miles beyond that.  Finally, after Richmond, Virginia, the lanes opened up and we hoped we were back on schedule.  Except this trip, I got really tired.  Began toying with the idea that we should stop.  Finally, just past the VA-NC border,  I cried “Uncle”, we called it quits and pulled in to a friendly Walmart (yes, that Walmart, Syl) and called it a day.

Only 421 miles covered. Am I losing my touch of being able to travel long distances?  Am I wimping out or am I getting cured of PDD?  Only time will tell.

Could this be this be the beginning…

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of “THE END” ???

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Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Grandkid Ping-Pong

It felt kind of funny to sleep in our own bed in the Journey.  We haven’t slept in it since the second week of July when we celebrated my dad’s 90th birthday at Brant Lake, NY.

As soon as we returned from NY to son Corey’s house where we left the Journey, we hiked it up to Warwick, Rhode island to Marti’s sister Gail’s house.  We moochdocked in Gail’s driveway big time, but slept in her house instead for almost a whole month.  Gail only had a 15 amp electrical circuit for us to plug in to, which just about kept the batteries charged and the fridge cold.  With the wicked heat there was no way we could run the air conditioner with that little voltage.

Finally leaving scenic Rhode Island (and the arriving and departing jets from nearby T.F. Green Airport), we drove 276 miles to our New Jersey “home”, the campground at Naval Weapons Station Earle.

We wasted no time zipping over to see little Anabelle, who isn’t as little as last time we saw her.  She now is starting on some solid foods and boy does she like it.  She can’t get it in her mouth fast enough and had to hurry Mimi Marti along.

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After visiting her, we actually slept in the Journey that night.  Nothing beats your own bed.  But it was not to last.

The next morning, we headed out on a two hour drive to Pottstown, PA to see the other granddaughters, Taylor, Kierra and little Rebekah.

Marti was especially excited because one project she had been working on while up in Rhode Island was sewing matching dresses for the girls.  They loved them.

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We stayed two nights with them and had lots of fun. 

Today was a typical exciting day, we left the girls and headed “home”, stopping at the commissary at Fort Dix, NJ to restock the Journey’s fridge and cabinets. I don’t know how Marti did it, but she found room for all that food.  Must come from all the practice she’s had stowing her collection of sandals in the Journey’s bedroom.

A couple of chores to be done on the Journey and the Element and then we’re off on the road again Saturday to our South Carolina “home” to see the grandsons.

Not every day is an exciting hike or climb up a mountain, can’t make daily visits to museums (I’d be shot for sure) or shopping (phew!) but it’s our happy life on the road.

We’re quite thankful to have wheels under our home and be able to visit the grandkids often.  I remember when our three kids were little and how much trouble it was to pack up and visit their grandparents.  So we’re only too happy to take that bother away from our kids and travel to them. 

It’s a win-win, or is it ping-pong?

                      The End

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Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

20,000 Leagues Under The Sea

Remember the Disney movie with the submarine Nautilus?

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Visiting the Coast Guard Museum overlooking the Thames River in New London, CT, I saw this amazing sight transiting up to its home port at the Groton Navy Sub Base.

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Being that I love “two-fers” I drove over to the Navy Base just across the river to take in another (free) museum, the Navy Submarine Museum.

The museum has many interesting exhibits, starting with the very first submarine, Turtle. This is a full size model that was used in the Revolutionary War.  It was human powered by a man named Ezra Lee who tried to attack a British ship anchored in New York Harbor.  An auger drill bit was attached to the top and with Lee inside tried to drill a hole in the ship’s hull and attach a bomb.  After paddling the sub by hand through the currents he actually got under the British warship only to be thwarted by copper sheeting on the hull that he couldn’t drill through. 

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From the Turtle, tied up outside is the first nuclear powered submarine, the USS Nautilus.  It first sailed in 1955 and had an historic career.  Now retired, she is open for self guided tours inside.

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The hull has been modified to have a ladder down into the forward torpedo room.

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Even though the Nautilus is much bigger than the Turtle, it still has many tight spaces, including several water tight doors that you have to carefully step through.  Wonder why they call them “Head Knockers”?

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Even in a submarine, there are still traditions that are kept, like the Wardroom, where the sub’s officers formally dine on fine china.

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The sub has its own silverware service, embossed with the sub’s name.

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In the conning tower are located the periscopes where the sub is navigated from.  In subs, every system has a backup, just in case the normally used system fails.

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Despite all the fancy electronic navigational equipment, there are a couple of sextants, to find the sub’s position by looking at the sun and stars.

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The cooks did a great job feeding the crew around the clock from this small galley.  Slightly larger than our Journey’s, but not by much.

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The crew’s mess deck did double duty.  Here are a couple of mannequins dressed out in emergency breathing apparatus.  Besides meals, training was often done here in this compartment.

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Submarine sailors don’t have the luxury of much personal space.  A rack (bed) lifts up to provide the storage for each sailor. 

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While we were there, another submarine sailed past in the pouring rain, heading out to sea.  Some of the crew stood on the deck rending honors.

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Escorting the sub to ensure it made it safely down the river and out to sea were two Coast Guard boats.  Have to look out for our Navy brothers. ;c)

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We made a “clean sweep” of the museum and its exhibits.

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We pulled chocks on the Journey yesterday and left Rhode Island and headed down to New Jersey to the FamCamp at Naval Weapons Station Earle.  We visited yesterday with little Anabelle and today with Taylor, Kierra and Rebekah.  It’s nice to see them again.  Yes, I’ll post some pictures in an upcoming post.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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