2012 - 2016 Travel Map

Travel to Indiana and Family time

August 30 – September 23, 2016: 

We are on our way to Crawfordsville Indiana 600 miles south west from Buffalo.  We usually would make this trip with 2 two night stays every 200 miles.  However, this time we are travelling during the Labor Day weekend holiday which makes weekend travel dicey. Our first stay, Tuesday and Wednesday nights, were OK but getting one for Thursday and Friday was not.  We could get one for just Thursday night so that is what we did.  That wasn’t bad as we just had a little over 100 miles to travel on Friday morning to get to the Crawfordsville KOA.  We had a reservation there for a month starting on Saturday but figured they would have room for us on Friday as well and we were right.

Our first stop for a couple of nights in Ohio after leaving Buffalo NY.

The Pier-Lon was a nice place to stay.  This is the office next to a small lake.

Patty and I managed to get in a little golf in Ohio.

Next stay on our way to Crawfordsville Indiana was Grandpa's Farm
located in New Richman IN just across the border from Ohio.

Grandpa's Farm office.  This place was just OK.  We found an Amish market up the road and went crazy buying some cool food!

We stayed here at the KOA the past 3 years making this our 4th year here.  We know the owner, Jamie, pretty well now. So when we arrived she tells us which sites are open and for us to pick one.  She had a site reserved for us but she also had others that we could pick from if we liked.  None of the sites in this park really have very good access to satellite signals.  For us, we just have to study the sites until we find the exact place we need to place our rig to get through the trees.  Also, after placement for satellite, we need to have some front yard room.  It really is complex RVing!

Our site at the Crawfordsville KOA.

We picked our site and were walking back to the office where our truck was parked in front and we heard a sound like metal hitting something coming from the truck.  This just can’t be good!  We looked all around the truck and didn’t see anything.  We summed it up as the sound must have come from somewhere else.  Little did we know!

We got our site settled with Jamie and off we went to the truck to move the rig into it.  The site was basically straight in front of us at about 30 yards.  Started up the truck and rolled forward without any issue.  Just before the entrance to the site we needed to pull up a small incline.  I pushed down the gas pedal and the engine made this sound like a belt was slipping.  I got the rig situated in the site without any problem from the truck except for the noise.  The trucks power felt fine, it just was noisy!

Getting the truck worked on or even looked at could be an issue as this is Friday the start of Labor Day weekend.  It was just 3pm so on our way to see the grandkids we stopped into the local Ford dealer, Etters, in town to see if we could get them to look at the truck.  We were lucky that the service manager decided he would take a quick look at the truck.  He determined that the issue was a belt tensioner and it would be ok to drive until Tuesday next week when he could get it in to fix it.  He advised not to accelerate very heavily though. Well OK, not great but we can live with that.  Again, little did we know!

It’s Labor Day weekend, we have a place to stay and we are with family!  Oh, and the weather is perfect too!  We got together with my son and his family which includes the grandkids most of the weekend.  The big event on Labor Day was the picnic at one of my son's Aunt’s house, Kim Rice.  Just to make this an extra special day, my daughter was there from NJ too!  So, for the first time in, I think, 5 years my two kids and I are all together in one place.  If we include their mother Brenda then it’s been over 25 years since the original family has been in one place together!

Jennifer, Mark, and Tony

We visited my step-father's, Leon Weber, grave site in
Waynetown Indiana.  He is buried next to his parents.

Leon married my mom after my natural father died in 1964.  I was 7 years old when he came into my life and was the only father I really knew.

On Tuesday, the day after Labor Day, I take the truck to Etters, the local Ford dealer, in Crawfordsville for the repair of the belt tensioner.  After a couple hours I am told that it is not the tensioner as they had originally believed.  It seems the truck has two broken exhaust manifold bolts.  Looks like one has been broken for a while and when the other bolt broke it allowed enough exhaust to leak out causing the noise we are now hearing.  

Replacing these bolts is a simple job to repair! However, to gain access to these bolts the truck cab has to be removed.  And by the way, this local Ford dealer can’t do this work because they don’t have a diesel mechanic.  We need to take the truck 30 miles away to Lafayette Indiana to have this done.

Right away I make an appointment for this work with Risner Ford in Lafayette for the next morning.  I get the truck to Risner at 7:30 am and at noon I get the prognosis.  Yes, I have 2 broken exhaust manifold bolts and yes the cab needs to be removed.  Risner can’t get to this repair until first thing next week and it will cost $2,300!  Repair for the exhaust manifold is around $400 and the rest is the labor to remove and replace the cab!  What can we do, it needs to be done.

There our truck is with the cab removed.

Patty calls Enterprise Car for them to deliver a car to me at Ford for the next few days for another $$$.  And to really top this off, our extended warranty on the truck only covers the exhaust manifold, not the bolts!

We bought an extended warranty on both the 5th wheel and the truck when we started out full time 4 years ago.  The cost was roughly $5k for the both.  I believe the truck was a little higher than the 5th wheel but not a lot.  Back then we didn’t know anything about the truck or the 5th wheel and what sort of issues we could have.  The warranty on the truck runs out in 4k miles so it is just about over now.  We did OK with the truck warranty as we broke even with it. We have 3 years left on the RV but we haven’t even broken the surface on recouping anything on that one yet.  I think that if we had to do it over again we would still purchase the warranties for the little piece of mind they offered us.
Most of our time here in Crawfordsville is spent around the grandkids.  We had 21 good days here with the grandkids before we needed to leave and head back toward New Jersey for a wedding.  

Livy after seeing that I was taking her picture.

Savannah watching for flies!

Livy riding her scooter around our truck.

Meals have everyone involved!

I tried a new recipe, grilled peanut chicken.
It was good, but didn't have enough peanut or spice taste for me.

Playing a family game with Livy and Savannah clowning around.

Savannah cheering a football game.

Livy playing a video game while I watched.
These kids really get involved when they play these things!
The cats are everywhere at Tony and Tracy's house!

The local firemen responding to an electrical fire at our campground.  A pole mounted transformer blew up and scared the crap out of everybody!

On a rainy cold day we went to Lafayette to play glow in the dark golf with the grandkids.  Jennifer and her husband Christian came along too.

Weird, Meowee likes to stick his tongue out.

We all went to a local Fish Fry.  Savannah getting a temporary tattoo.

Haven't seen this in a long time.  Pay a few dollars for a charity
and you get to clobber a car with a sledge hammer.

We had Savannah stay with us one night and we went bowling.  This is Patty.


Savannah pushing our money around.
We were trying to get our large amount of change turned into cash.
On one Saturday Patty and I went to my cousin Nana Canada Rising and her husband Tom's house about 20 miles south near Greencastle Indiana for a family get together. This is the second year we have done this so it is starting to become a tradition it seems.  Nana is a year and one day older than me. Her father Dale was my mother's older brother.  Dale and my mother Betty are both dead now. Nana's older brother Fred and his wife Phyllis, my brother Roger with Diana and Nana's sister Suzy's widowed husband Allen were all there. It's great fun to look through old pictures and tell old family stories.

We were actually there 22 days because Patty got sick on our last day there and I decided to wait one more day to see if she improved enough for us to travel again.  We were on our way again on Friday the 23rd of September.

So ends our Crawfordsville Indiana adventure for this year.

Stay tuned!

Buffalo New York, Family and Friends Time

August 12 – 30, 2016:  

After 16 days in eastern Canada we headed back to the USA.  We didn’t have far to go since we were just 140 miles from our next stop near Niagara Falls on Grand Island New York.  

Eastern Canada has been very dry and hot this summer but not on the day we left.  As we were rounding Toronto we got caught up in a massive thunderstorm.  The storm really slowed the traffic making our 2 hour trip to the border more like 3 hours.  All was good though as the storm faded away as we crossed the border at Lewiston Bridge.

Waiting to cross the border from Canada back to the US at the Lewiston Bridge

We are staying at the Cinderella Camp Ground on Grand Island in New York State for the next 19 days.  We stayed at this campground the first 2 years we were full timing before we moved over to the KOA on the island.  Last year the KOA raised their already high rates and wouldn’t let us have the site we wanted for this year.  The KOA decided to give the best monthly sites to their work campers this year.  

Our "good" site at Cinderella

The Grand Island KOA monthly sites are very small to start with so we reserved end sites which were the biggest sites. We were able to do this for 2 years and then we were told when we were making our reservation at the end of our stay last year that we couldn’t get those sites and the rate was going up $100 for the month.  It was time for us to make the change and go back to Cinderella anyway. KOA has amenities we needed for kids in the past but the kids are all past that now so Cinderella was a better fit for us now.

The Cinderella Campground is basically just a no frills campground; no pool and no activities.  Cinderella also doesn’t care if we have guests so anybody can just drop by if they want without the hassle of signing in like most places, including the KOA, which charges $5 per visitor.  The sites are good size and the monthly rate is $200 less than the KOA at just $550!  $550 is still higher than we like but Grand Island is just a couple of miles from Niagara Falls and just up the road from the Fantasy Island amusement park.  

I did a little maintenance on our 50 Amp cable.  
The outside Insulation cover was pulling away from the plug...  

..so I wrapped it with electrical tape and then a protective layer of fusion tape.  This stuff goes on like tape but it fuses together to make a waterproof layer after it has been stretched.

Grand Island NY is as close as we can get a campground to our Family in this area.  We are 33 miles from the assisted care facility, Absolute Care, in East Aurora NY where Patty's Dad is and roughly 20 miles from Patty’s 2 sisters in Cheektowaga and Lancaster NY.  We would love to be closer to Patty’s father Tom but the campgrounds are farther south of him making it even further to her sisters and only just a little closer to her father.  Also, the campgrounds are more expensive and not as nice as Cinderella.  All in all, Cinderella is a pretty good fit for us.

OK, one of the issues with Cinderella is that management has not been the best here.  They are not bad people just not very organized.  Each time we have stayed here we have made reservations months in advance to ensure we get the sites we like here.  There is no cable TV here and only 4 sites that we can get a satellite TV signal due to the trees. So we really want to make sure we get the site we want as we will be in it for a month.

This time they lost our reservation for this year, well sort of. Patty made the reservation from Texas in February, 6 months in advance for the site we wanted.  When we pulled in we noticed that the site we wanted was occupied.  And so were the other sites that had satellite TV coverage.  We went into the office to find that they lost our reservation but the woman remembers making it.  This is not all that unbelievable as their reservation system is completely manual.  And not a very good manual system at that!  The system involves a large paper desk calendar with notes all over it. Anyway, she got us a place we could stay with the promise we could move to our preferred site after the first week.

The site we were given was fine for us as we were able to get some satellite signal. We might have stayed there but the power was not 50 amp.  The power wasn’t 30 Amp either!  

It was pretty hot while we were there so we were running both AC units and the voltage kept going below 104 volts. Our power protection system shuts off the power to protect us at 104 volts.  We started to only run one AC unit at a time then one evening the breaker trips.  Well, not our breaker but the one supplying the power to our breaker!  To make matters worse, the couple beside us on a 30 Amp site also lost power.

We couldn’t find the breaker so we called the emergency number and found out that the breaker supplying us was located a few sites down from us.  The breaker was next to another site's breaker with tape on it saying to not shut this breaker off.  This breaker was a 30 Amp breaker and was feeding our 50 Amp breaker as well as the 30 Amp site next to us!

The next morning I went to the office to complain and was told that no one had ever complained before about that site! They said they would have an electrician come out to check on it.  As one might guess, no one ever came out and nothing got fixed.  The electrical service in this park is new since we were here 3 years ago.  It looks to me that the 2 sites, our 50 Amp and the 30 Amp next to us, were improperly added probably after the original service was put in.  The people on the 30 Amp next to us left the next day and no one was put on that site while we were there.  For the remaining few days we were there we just ran the smaller AC unit and were fine. 

We moved 6 days later to our preferred site which was perfect.  The park only charged us as a 30 Amp site for our first week.  If it wasn’t for the lack of competition we wouldn’t be here.

We had a pair of Cardinals visit us just like in Texas!  In Texas the female would continuously bang herself into our rear window while the male would eat from our bird feeder.  Sometimes the male would bring food to his female.  Here in NY, the opposite was happening.  The male banged into our rear window while the female ate and brought food to the male.
Our main purpose for being here is to visit with Patty’s dad who is at the Absolute Care facility in East Aurora NY.  Also, while here we will visit with as many family and friends as we can.  We tried to see Tom every day we were there but we didn’t always get that accomplished.  We did manage to visit with him just about every day.  He was mostly in pretty good health and he was involved in our conversations.  We had just one day where he was not doing well and was mostly out of it. 

On our way to see Patty's dad we always got him his favorite donuts from Paula's.  
He likes the peanut cream and the white cream filled.

On one of our visits the Travel Channel was filming a special at Paula's about delicious destinations.  These are very good donuts by the way.

Since we had seen Tom last he has mostly lost use of his right hand.  Before this year he had lost use of his left hand but that has now returned and he lost use of his right hand! His left hand started to lose its use just about the same time he was placed into assisted care about 3 years ago.  None of us are sure as to why this is happening. When he loses function the affected hand is also numb.  Right now they are checking his brain to see if there is a change there that maybe causing this.  We would have thought it would have been something with his cervical spine like arthritis but that has been ruled out. 

Our trip to see Patty's dad we always pass this area with buffalo statues.  It is very hard to get a picture as there is no room to pull over and it is on a curve where interstates 190 and 90 meet.

On our way back from seeing Patty's dad on Interstate 190 in Tonawanda NY we saw this!  It's a long travel trailer that flipped over taking the truck with it.

We had a couple of dinners with family at their homes.  We had a large dinner meal with Sister Cheryl and Joe including Joe’s daughter Sarah and one of his 2 sons Shawn.  We also had a dinner at Sister Sandy and Mike’s place which included Cheryl, Joe, and Sandy and Mike’s daughter Shawna. 
Patty and I went out to eat at a close by Polish restaurant in Niagara Falls NY.  The food here was excellent and come hungry because you get a lot of food!

Mural on the side of the Koban's restaurant

Very old hostess desk.  Looks to us like it came from Poland.

That is how you make a French Onion Soup!!

Yea, we had to have the peanut butter pie.  One must have their home made perogies!

We also had some time with a couple of Patty’s childhood friends.  We had a nice long lunch with Janet Vallone who is planning to go full time RVing like we are.  She is in the “get rid of stuff” stage which includes her house right now.  We also met up with Nancy Mongiovi, Barb Mongiovi and their mom at her mom's house in Cheektowaga.  It’s always nice to visit with old friends!

We went to see Patty's niece Shawna's house that she just purchased in Buffalo.

Shawna's dog loves to watch the street.

We went to the Allentown Art Festival that was within walking distance from Shawna's house.  We had lunch with entertainment just outside.

Just a fun picture of Patty with the Patty booth behind her at the art festival

Cool street mural near the art festival

We managed to get a tour of the Buffalo River too!  Both of us never really knew anything about the river so this was a treat.  Tours of the Buffalo River are new this year.  Two companies are doing the tour and the one we went with is the newest one.  The other tour company only offers the tour once a day in the evening.  We were going to go on this tour with Sandy, Mike and Shawna but the weather was not good enough to let the boat go out.  So later in our stay we picked this other newer tour and went during the day with Cheryl and Joe.

Getting our tickets for the tour at Canalside.

Boarding the pontoon boat for the Buffalo River Cruise

Old fire boat

Very low bridges, no standing here!

Unique way to paint some of the old grain silos! Labbatt's Blue is a Canadian beer.

One of the few large grain elevators and silo system still in operation.

They were making Cheerios as we could smell the oats toasting!

An old ferry from NYC that someone is trying to rebuild.  From the look of it is seems like it would be easier to just build a new one.

Nice view of the Buffalo River with Buffalo in the background.

The second largest grain elevator silo system in the world.  The largest is in Kansas.

A company called Sun City purchased this bit of the silo area to repurpose it.  
Seems they haven't found a good use for the silos yet.

The long rusty hotdog looking items in the background are very familiar to locals here in the Buffalo area.  These are the ice booms that are installed every winter to protect the canal area from ice.  People here know winter is here when these go out and that it's over when they are brought back in.

The old DL&W train shed on the Buffalo River.

A view of the new Canalside area looking toward the USS Little Rock at the far end.

USS Little Rock

Buffalo Main Light.  Light House at the opening to the Buffalo River and the Erie Canal.

Buffalo skyline from Lake Erie.

The memorial to all western New York service men and women who died in service due to the 9/11 attack.  This is located at the Canalside in Buffalo.  The last time we were here the memorial wasn't finished yet so this is our first time seeing it.

Patty's nephew (Travis C. Krege) was killed in Iraq and is listed here on the memorial.

My impression is that these tours are best for people from the area.  The history is pretty cool but not great enough for outsiders.  It’s really pretty cool for people who live here as this is some unknown history right in their backyard.  I liked it too but I don’t think I would recommend it to anyone from other places than the Buffalo area.  However, It is pretty cheap so it’s not a bad morning on the river looking at old grain silos.

Rosey has been eating up this nice weather and is huge now!

After 19 days in Buffalo we are heading to Indiana to visit with my son Tony and his wife Tracy as well as the 3 grandkids, Alivia, Savannah, and Bailey. My daughter Jennifer and her husband Christian are will be there too!  

Stay tuned!