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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving Weekend Post Script

We left for home Sunday morning after breakfast with Corey and Amanda.  Knowing that it was going to be a high traffic day, we chose to drive home through Pennsylvania instead of going down the Jersey Turnpike - 95 - 495 corridor.  We were going to miss all the traffic...Not! 

After too much bumper-to-bumper driving, we stopped at Cabela's in Hamburg, PA.  Cabela's is a huge sporting goods chain of stores and in many locations allow RVers free overnight parking.  Along with hunting and fishing gear and almost anything a sportsman could possibly want, they have huge displays of wildlife that has been stuffed and mounted as they'd be seen in the forests and plains.

This turkey missed the Thanksgiving table, but got stuffed anyway.

Here's a giant Grizzly Bear.  Is it Sarah Palin?

But our favorite thing at Cabela's is their homemade fudge.  Yep, in dozens of flavors.  We bought Snickers and Milkyway Dark fudge to sweeten our ride home. :c)

We received some comments and emails on yesterday's post from people that wanted to see some of our Sandy Hook memorabilia.  Here are two of our favorites:

A painting of the Sandy Hook Light done by a friend of Marti's.

This is a foot tall version of the light.

It lights up.

They're both coming with us in the Journey when we hit the road.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Going Home Again - Part Two

Sandy Hook is a seven mile long peninsula running South to North and points right into New York Harbor.  It is the northernmost New Jersey oceanfront beach.  It is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area and it is a great place to visit, with beautiful, white sandy beaches, miles of hiking and biking trails and all kinds of fishing and wildlife viewing areas.  During the summer, thousands of people flock to Sandy Hook to enjoy its wonderful recreational delights.  The famous landmark of the area is the Sandy Hook Lighthouse, built in 1764 and still operating to this day.

Years ago, Sandy Hook was an U.S. Army base, Fort Hancock.  Multiple gun emplacements  were constructed all along the peninsula to protect New York City from an ocean borne attack.  Fort Hancock also was an artillery testing range.  New types of cannons and munitions were developed and tested here.  Eventually the artillery became so powerful that they could fire shells farther than Sandy Hook's seven mile length, so the testing was discontinued.  However, Fort Hancock's guns guarded New York during both World Wars and in more recent times saw missile emplacements taking over that mission.

In 1974, Fort Hancock was decommissioned as it was obsolete and it was turned over to the National Park Service.  The gun emplacements are still all over  Sandy Hook, slowly crumbling to the ravages of time and weather.

At the very tip of the "Hook" as it is known to the locals, is a Coast Guard base, fenced off from the tourists, a private haven.  We were blessed to live there for 11 wonderful years.  Our three kids grew up here and had many other friends as about 300 Coast Guard members and their families lived here year round.  Can you imagine having your own beach and sand dunes to run free in?  And all your friends living right next door?  It truly had the feel of a small town and everyone had something in common:  Operating and maintaining Search and Rescue vessels that protected the oceanfront entrance to New York.

A 47 foot Motor Lifeboat

Coast Guard Station Sandy Hook has two motor lifeboats home-ported there, along with two small boats and two cutters, a 110 ft cutter and an 87 ft cutter, ready to respond to any emergency and often found patrolling to keep the ocean safe.

We toured one of the 47' MLBs, they have twin Detroit Diesel engines, something that I'm familiar with.

The pilot house looked like the cockpit of an airliner, certainly much more advanced than the rescue boats I ran in the past.

We walked up to an area that has an overlook of New York.  You can see New York City off in the distance.  It was sad to see it without the twin towers of the World Trade Center.

We took a picture of our son, Corey and our DIL Amanda who were with us.

Corey took our picture.  Yes it was cold and very windy!

We visited the three homes we lived in there.  We started off in a small, three bedroom townhouse, 2A.

As the kids grew and I advanced in rank, we qualified for larger quarters, here is 6A, a four bedroom townhouse.

We spent our final years at the Hook living in a new house, complete with a two car garage.

As we walked around, in our mind's eye, we saw our friends, and great memories came flooding back.  At one point, Marti and I looked at each other, we both got a little teary-eyed and realized what an incredible blessing we had living here.

No visit to the Hook is complete without paying respect to the lighthouse.  It is still maintained by the Coast Guard.  We had climbed its 95 iron steps many times when we lived here, we often took visiting friends and relatives up to the top.  I even re-enlisted on top of the tower back in 1990.

Twelve years ago, we moved off the Hook, kicking and screaming as I transferred to a new job.  We may have left Sandy Hook, but it never left us.  Around our present home today, there are paintings, photographs and nic-nacs of the Sandy Hook light.  It will always be "Home" to us, even if it's just in our hearts.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Thanksgiving Adventure - Can You Go Home Again?

This year, a large part of my family was going to my Dad's house in North Western New Jersey for Thanksgiving.  Living just outside of Washington, DC in Northern VA, we faced a long trip, about 5 hours.  In perfect weather.  In summer.  Not November.

Marti and I left early Thanksgiving morning, driving our Honda Element, we decided not to take the Journey on this journey.  With Zoe the Wonder Dog riding in her favorite place (in back) we headed out hoping to arrive in plenty of time to visit   before the meal was served.  Everything was going according to plan.

Then we hit the mountains of Pennsylvania and got caught in this:

As pretty as it was, it slowed us way down and we fell behind schedule.  Cars in a bigger rush than we were found themselves sliding off the road into ditches.  Yes, speed can do you in if you're not careful.

Even though it was only a couple of inches, we were very careful and glad to have the four wheel drive of the Element.

We finally came down out of the mountains to just rain and made it to the dinner with a little time to spare.  Hopefully, we won't be anywhere near snow next year!

Before we knew it, dinner was served and we were ready to dig into some turkey.

Actually, this was one of the place settings my sister made.  Too cute to eat.

But eat we did and after a wonderful day together,  we left my Dad's and drove over to spend the weekend with our son Corey and DIL Amanda.  They live near the Jersey shore, close to where I was stationed in the Coast Guard at Sandy Hook, NJ.  We lived there for 11 years (1987-1998) and my kids still remember it as home and great place to grow up. 

We planned to visit the base Saturday.  But first Marti and I had to spend some time with our "granddogs".  Corey and Amanda have two dogs,  Madison, a perfect lap dog.

And Cooper, a three year old Golden Retriever.

Cooper thinks he's a lap dog, too.  Who am I to say he's not?

Tomorrow:  Going home again to Sandy Hook.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Off For Some Turkey with the Family

Marti, Zoe the Wonder Dog and I are leaving to drive to New Jersey to have a nice Thanksgiving dinner with my dad and siblings and then spend the weekend with our son and DIL, Corey and Amanda. 

We may miss a couple of days of blog posts, but rest assured, we'll be back.  Big news is in the works and some pieces are finally falling into place.

Here's wishing all our followers and RV friends a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Marti's Musings: Yikes, This is Getting Serious!

Paul and I are really enjoying this whole blogging bit.  It is has been just over 6 months since we started blogging, after an inspiring RV rally.  We have shared our woes, progress, frustrations, successes and our preparations...  yeah, we are getting serious about this whole Full Timing bit.  Each and every day, we encourage each other, reminding ourselves about the light at the end of the tunnel.

But, as serious as as the plans are, what is really getting serious - our blogging followers! Welcome, by the way,to our newest followers, Sherry B.  and Chuck and Anneke!

As I was working through the Blogger dashboard, I saw the "Stats" tab- yikes!  Folks from all over the WORLD have seen our blog.  (Ok, so some have only hit us up once, but still!)  So... now this has kicked up a level for me.  I feel responsible for you guys!  LOL

Seriously, thanks to our faithful followers (at least those who admit it) - and even those who don't admit to following  (you know who you are! LOL).  It is fun to plan, and share it with you folks.  We love the comments, encouragement and laughs you share with us. 

We expect to have news to share quite soon - until then, stay tuned.... and,



Monday, November 22, 2010

A Victory and a Defeat

We found them!  Actually, Marti tracked them down on line, Care Bears for granddaughter Taylor.  Marti also found a bunch of Care Bear DVDs.  Little Taylor will be happy this Christmas.  I am too.   As much as we like driving the Journey around, it's not the most economical shopping cart, even at 8 mpg.  So a victory. :c)

Yesterday, when we took the Journey back to the storage lot, because it is going to sit for a month or two,  I had to shut down the main house power switch and the chassis power switch.  With all the little sensors and alarms that are wired to both sets of batteries, they add up enough of a power draw to run the batteries way down if left on.  The house switch is right on the dashboard.  The chassis power switch is in back of the Journey, inside the engine hatch.

If you remember a couple of weeks back, I found the engine hatch fiberglass had started to come loose from the hatch frame and I used some heavy duty epoxy to bind the two back together.

Well, the epoxy failed and the parts came apart again.  A defeat. :c(

However, I don't give up easy.  I've already figured out that I'll use some JB Weld, I've read it is one of the best 2 part epoxies on the market.  I'm also going to get some stainless steel screws, drill holes around the edges of the frame after I put on the new epoxy and screw the two parts together.  I don't think the hatch will come apart after that. 

 I'll turn a defeat back into another victory, but now with all the holidays coming upon us, the real trick will be finding the time to do it.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


W.F.W.T.W.  That's what we did today, Wandering from Walmart to Walmart.  Okay, an explanation.

This morning we woke up at the Walmart we stopped at last night and spent a TON of money Christmas shopping.  The only problem was our granddaughter, Taylor,  is enamored with the Care Bears and asked for some for Christmas.  Being the grandparents we are, we decided that we'll get her Care Bears.

A fast Google showed that Walmart carries Care Bears.  Good, we're right here.  But the Care Bears were not.  Or at the next Walmart we stopped at on the way home.  Now we're getting serious, this is a challenge and we grandparents are up to it, even if our wallets are somewhat lighter from the previous Walmart visit.

We zipped home in the Journey, actually more like a fast waddle and did the painful deed.  We winterized it.  The forecast for later next week has much colder weather and possible freezing temperatures.  We were hoping to hold on for another two weeks, but decided a few dollars worth of RV antifreeze is better than a huge repair bill fixing frozen water lines.

Marti pitched in and we firnished up in about an hour, then zipped (waddled) over to the storage lot to put the Journey back in exile.  We'll still use it, just not de-winterize the water system.

We took our leave of the storage lot and pulled out all the stops.  These grandparents don't play nice.  We went to Toys R Us.  We searched high.  We searched low.  We asked where the Care Bears are.  Well, the Care Bears aren't!  Care Bears are a discontinued toy.

Now we're doing the on line search.  There are plenty of Care Bears, at extortionist prices.  We'll pay them, we can't let little Taylor down.  And it will be cheaper than driving the Journey all over the place at 8 mpg. :c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Where Else When Everything Fails?

We departed this morning, picked a direction and head out in the Journey.  Zoe, the Wonder Dog, included.  Today we thought we'd head West, then South, and run down Rt 81 through the Shenandoah Valley.

First stop was Walmart in Woodstock, VA, to pick up a couple of items.  $250 later, we wheeled the cart out to the Journey.  In all fairness, we picked up some nice Christmas presents for the grandkids.  Yes, it's that time of the year again.

Pulling out of the Walmart, we took a two lane road that parallels Rt 81, enjoying the scenery and small, historic towns.  As the day wore on and the Christmas music began to repeat on the CD player, I decided to stop at a nearby campground, Endless Caverns.  After driving down the entrance road, we found it was closed for the season.  Bummer, we've heard good things about it.  So off we went back to Rt 81 South, determined to stop at the next campground for the night.

After driving for almost an hour, we found the next campground, a Good Sam CG...closed!  Hmm.  With it getting late in the day, heading further South with no real plan wasn't a good idea, an about face and back to the North to the same Walmart we stopped at earlier.

After getting permission, we set up for the night.  We're comfortable in the Journey and grateful that Walmart is a welcoming place to stop for the night. :c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Generator Servicing before Rolling Out for the Weekend

I picked up the Journey this morning from our storage lot and brought it over to the house.  On the maintenance list today was servicing the generator.  Oil changes are every 150 hours of use and the fuel filter is replaced annually.  Most of the work is done from underneath the Onan 8KW diesel generator.

There is a small door that opens to give you access to the oil and fuel filters.

You put your fingers into the two square holes and squeeze that catches together to open the door.

The door swings down and opens to the fuel and oil filters.  If you look closely at the picture, in the center you can just make out the oil filter, just to the right of the hose, with the white rectangle on it.  You get access through the door, but it is tight.

I take off the oil filter and before putting on the new one, the important step of oiling the rubber gasket needs to be done so the filter will seat tightly and not leak.  A couple drops of light oil is all it takes.

After installing the new filter, I remove the oil sump drain plug and drain the oil from the generator.  It is thoughtfully labeled by Onan to make it easier to find.

After draining the oil and reinserting the drain plug, I put in 3 quarts of new oil in the dipstick hole on the top of the generator.  I use Shell Rotella T 15W-40 diesel oil. 

With that done, I move on to the fun job, replacing the fuel filter.  The reason it is so "fun" is because you're working under the filter and you have to remove the two fuel lines and then the center nut to get it out.  Gravity jumps in here and the fuel in the lines drains down your shirt sleeves into your armpits if you're not fast enough.

I'm getting better at it, only got the diesel fuel up to my wrists this time.

After buttoning everything up, I test run the generator and make sure there are no leaks.  I like to be sure that the job is done right.  All tolled, it took me an hour, start to finish and I'm good to go for another 150 hours.  Now if I can just the smell of diesel fuel out of my skin.  A long, hot shower is next on the agenda.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.