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Elmira New York and then off to New Jersey

August 07 – 10 

Friday the 7th we are leaving the KOA in Grand Island NY. We get all packed up and are on our way out about 11am. On our way out we stop at the office to let them know we are leaving a little early and get a reservation for next year.  We have the site here at the KOA for 34 days and we only needed it for 30 so we are leaving a little early, still a better deal with the monthly rate of $690.  So, for next year KOA informs us that all of the end spaces are for staff only and that the rate is going up to $850!  The sites that are not on the end are very small, really I mean tiny small.  So small that our awning and picnic table will be over the next sites sewer connection, yea too small!

This KOA is a very nice place to stay to visit the falls but not that nice for people like us who are here for family.  So, not getting an end site and the increased rate we decided to go elsewhere.  Actually, we will go just up the street to the no frills place we stayed the first two years, the Cinderella campground and motel.  They meet our requirements of having wifi and the sites are nice size, not large but we are not on top of the next site.  Their rates are $650 for the month, a little less than we paid this year at the KOA.

Cinderella has mostly work campers staying there.  People who have long term contracts to work in the area which is fine with us.  So bye, bye, KOA Grand Island!

We are taking a different route from Buffalo to Elmira than we have in the past.  We are taking NY 400 east to 20A and then to 390 and lastly to 17 (89).  This trip is about 220 miles and takes 3 hours. What we didn’t know is that 20A is very hilly with grades at 10%!  The hills are short compared to out west but still 10% is very steep pulling a trailer!  It still was a fun trip through the back roads.

We arrived at the Newtown Battlefield State Park around 4 pm.  This will make our third time staying here.  We like it here because it is close to Elmira and it is fairly remote.  We actually are parking the RV in a large parking lot but that is OK here.  


Entrance to Newtown Battlefield State Park

The site has just electric so we need to take on water at the bath house before set up.  The water connection is about 200 feet from the road and has very low water pressure.  We took about 45 minutes to fill the fresh water tank to just 2/3 full which is around 33 gallons for us to use over the next 3 nights.  We found out that 33 gallons is not enough as we ran out Sunday evening.  Next year we will fill it which is will be too much but that is OK too.


Stopped to take on about 30 gallons of water.
We are connected on the far left side of the bath house.

View from the bath house while we are taking on water.


Our site here with the monument in the background.

We had made arrangements with our friends Jim and Sandy Scott and Sandy Parker and Mike Gee to get a fish fry at one of our old haunts, The Shingle.  The Shingle has been a landmark here for many, many years, at least the past 28 years that I have been going to eat here.  They used to have the best fish fry in the area.

We all met up at 6:30pm and had to wait a little bit to get in. The place is not real big and they only open from 4 – 8 pm! 


The Shingle restaurant


Well, the fish was still very good but not as good as I remember it.  It has been over 15 years since we have been here to eat.  It’s one of the reasons we decided to leave early from the KOA to be here when The Shingle is open.  We also made it a weekend so we could all get together too!  Some people still have to work!  Anyway, the great fish we remember here may just be something we have built up in our minds over time.  Still, if anyone is in the Elmira area we recommend an evening out here for a fish fry.  It’s even better with friends!

After the fish fry, Jim and Sandy Scott came to our site for a campfire, S’mores and conversation.  I think it was just me that ended up eating s’mores but that was OK too.  We had a great time catching up!

Saturday the 9th Sandy Scott called and asked if we were interested in taking a trolley tour of Elmira.  Pretty cool idea, so we went for it.  We need to be there at the trolley start near the Chemung Valley History Museum in just 40 minutes, we needed to hurry!   The tour is billed as a tour of Mark Twain country as Mark Twain lived here most of his life and is buried here.  This was great trip for just $4 a person.  We highly recommend this tour. Mark Twain Tour


Getting on the mark Twain Country Tour trolley.

Chemung County Court House.

The Mark Twain study.  This is where he wrote his famous novels.

The Mark Twain grave site.

That evening we chilled out by ourselves at our site in the park.  Our campfire ring had one of those grilles so we could cook on it.  We decided to cook a steak and potatoes on a wood fire.  The NY Strip steak came out nice and the potatoes were so so.  I think I like baked potatoes cooked in the oven or on a gas grille better, I'm just not sure how to do them on a real fire.

Sunday the 10th we took a 3.5 mile hike (Patty 2 and me 3.5) around the park before heading to Jim and Sandy’s for the afternoon and dinner.  This park has plenty of trails to hike and quite a few that are not in the weeds.  We are not fans of ticks so we like exercise type hikes to be on wide paths or even asphalt.  This is another reason we like this place.

We went out after the hike and got the truck washed and picked up a few things at the grocery store then headed over to Jim and Sandy's house.  We had a great time catching up with old friends.  Jim and Sandy are the true personification of the friends that you don’t see for a while but when you do it’s like it was just yesterday.  They both work in the morning so we left around 11pm, probably a little late for people who need to get up in the morning!  Thanks Jim and Sandy for being good friends!


Patty and Sandy deep in conversation.

OK, so that is it for our Elmira visit with friends this year.  
Now we are off to Keyport New Jersey to our friends Rob and Cindy’s driveway.  This is our time on the Jersey shore!  We will be here in Keyport until the day after Labor Day.

We were ready to depart the Newtown Battlefield State Park a little after 11am.  We still needed to go to the dump station before we left.  The dump station is a little bit of a pain as you need to back into it from a downhill curve.  We did fine though, seems that maneuvering the rig is really no problem at all now.  Hopefully I am not getting too complacent with my abilities!  Anyway, we got dumped and were on our way by noon. 

The 240 mile trip to Keyport New Jersey from Elmira New York we could probably do in our sleep. I made a little bit of an error after getting into NJ.  I forgot that some of the low clearances on the Garden State Parkway are below the I78 exit.  I should have gone to the I287 exit at the Driscoll Bridge.  All was good though if you just stay in the middle lane under the low bridges.  Some of the clearances are less than 13 feet and we are 12 foot 10 inches!  I would not go this way again but we were good anyway.  That’s what I mean by becoming complacent!

As we approached the Driscoll Bridge we were hearing a horn honking.  I was thinking that something was wrong with the rig!  Come to find out it was Cindy Weber whose house we were going to.  She was on her way home from work and come upon us on the Parkway.  That was a pretty wild coincidence!

We arrived at Cindy and Rob’s driveway in Keyport just after 5pm.  This is the first place we stayed after we went full time 3 years ago.  It is also the first place I backed the rig into too. I always compare my skill at backing the rig into a space with this one, my first attempt 3 years ago.  Three years ago it took us over 3 hours to get the rig into the space.  Now it only took 15 minutes. And it was that long because we had to re-hitch because we were too close to the backyard fence and the awning hung over it.  So we re-hitched and moved over a couple of feet.  No big deal!


Our site in Rob and Cindy's driveway.


We are all settled in and ready for the next month here at the Jersey shore!  Yay us!

Stay tuned!

Buffalo and moving on to Elmira NY

July 13 – August 07, 2015 

It’s been a while since I have posted a blog, just about 3 weeks now.  It’s hard to write a post when things aren't really happening very fast.  We are here in Buffalo to primarily visit with family and friends which can be sort of boring to write about every few days.  However, writing about it over a period of time, like this 3 week period makes it easier to be more entertaining.


Fancy cart returns at one of the Tops supermarkets in Buffalo.

Nice trash cans in downtown East Aurora NY.



One day it really poured rain.  Nice and dry inside though.

While in the area we decided to look at another place to stay in the Buffalo area.  This is a huge place but didn't have Internet so that eliminated that for us.

Cool statue on the way into Leisurewood campground.  These statues are all over the place here.  There is even a heard of these buffalos on the interstate intersection of 90 and 190.

The major thing we have been doing here is visiting with Patty’s Dad, Tom.  Tom is in the Absolut Care facility in East Aurora NY.  This month, July, marks his anniversary of being here for a year now.  He seems to be settled in as much as one can be into one of these places.


One evening we went to the Taste of Clarence which also has a car show.

I think this is the first Delorean I have seen up close.  Sort of looks like a frying pan on wheels. 

Interesting bus/RV that came into our KOA.  Looks like it is made for a long range tour group.

For the smaller size traveler, this unit is pulled by a motorcycle.

We have visited him around 5 times a week while being here. Two times we have taken him out for lunch at local restaurants that we can push his wheelchair to.  The closest is the Italian restaurant named Pasquale’s and the other, about a 10 minute walk away, is the Irish pub named Bar Bill’s.  Both outings have been pretty good with Tom.  Our outings with him have been where he has been his best. We think that the extra stimulation really helps him.  


Getting Tom's favorite donuts at Paula's.

These peanut donuts are really good.  I had to have one too!

Other than the outings, we most always took him outside where we were there.  He likes a donut and a cup of coffee and to just listen to us talk.  We have also found that he likes to listen more than he likes to talk.  And he really likes to hear me talk because I talk about guy stuff, fixing and building things.  He will sit with his eyes closed (he is blind) and look like he is asleep but he is really just listening.  I know that Patty will miss seeing him every week.  We will be back for a few days in December when we fly up north for the holidays.


Patty and her Dad Tom outside on the front porch of the assisted care facility.


Out for lunch.

We have also spent a good amount of time visiting with Patty’s family here.  Patty’s sisters Cheryl and Sandy both live here as well as nieces Shauna and nephew Adam. Her nephew Brian was also home from Los Angeles. We managed to visit some with everybody while here.  We were not able to visit with her niece Sara and nephew Shawn, bu hopefully next time!

One of our visits included a dinner out for a local favorite, a fish fry.  Sandy and her husband Mike and Joe, Cheryl’s husband, went with us for the fish fry.  We have become accustomed to getting a fish fry at least once when we are here in the area.  The issue usually is which place to go. There are so many places here in the Buffalo area that has a fish fry on Fridays that it is hard to choose.  

This time we tried a new place for us, Otto’s in Cheektowaga. Otto’s has been around for a long, long time, at least since Patty was in school here.  Well, the fish was not good!  We were very disappointed to have a bad fish fry in this area.  The only thing that said buffalo about it was the size of the fish, large.  Otto’s made it look even bigger by frying it in a very thick doughy batter.   What made it bad was the thick undercooked batter that held copious amounts of fat.   It really was disgusting, something I would have expected elsewhere in the country, not here.  Anyway, it was enough for us so we didn’t try again for a fish fry here.  We will wait until we are in Elmira to get our fish fix.

On one week night we went out to a local restaurant/bar (Bar 99) in Lancaster to visit with Patty’s high school friends. Debbie Eashak Helper, John Helper, Karen Ioviero, and Judy Judson Wagner met us there.  We had a nice time with Patty catching up on what everyone is doing and news about others in her high school.

While sitting for a month in Buffalo I managed to get three projects completed that I had been planning for a while.  Two of the projects went extremely well and one was a bust.  The two good projects were installing a new kitchen sink and installing LED lights to our awning.  

The not so good project was installing the Crossfire Dually tire pressure system to the truck.  The Crossfire system was to allow me to add air using just one outside valve instead of the usual two valves.  Anybody who has had dually tires knows what I am talking about here.  It is a pain in the butt to put in air in the inside tire.  This system connects the two valves together and gives me a new one on the outside to add air.

I learned about the Crossfire system in the Escapees magazine.  The Mr. Gadget Guy's editorial did a piece on the system and recommended it.  Since Escapees endorsed the system I decided to forgo my concerns about it and try it. The system costs $104 on Amazon for both sets of tires.  

The system is comprised of a master regulator with two stainless steel hoses attached that connect to each tire valve. The regulator has an air pressure valve on it.  Also included are a couple of brackets to mount the system to your wheel. This is where I ran into trouble.  I have hubcaps on my rear tires that cover the lug nuts which are used to mount the system.  The instructions tell you that you can mount the system on the lug nut and then just pop the hub cap back on over the mounting bracket.  This leaves the regulator and the new valve on the outside of the hubcap next to the wheel rim. In fact, the air valve was actually tight against the wheel rim when done.  I also had to cut way a small area of the hub cap to allow the cap to snap back into place.  That was not in the instructions.  After installation, it all looked good and worked as intended, I was happy camper!

OK, now for the first drive with the system installed.  We went to Patty’s sister Cheryl’s house about 15 miles away.  The first thing we noticed at just 30 miles an hour is that the truck was vibrating.  The vibration was so much that our voices were distorted.  It felt like it was coming from the front wheels so I didn’t really think it was my new Crossfire system that took me several hours to put on!  I made an appointment with a local Ford service place to take a look at it on Monday; I had installed the system on a Friday.  Ford took the truck out and confirmed the vibration.  The service tech wanted to make sure it wasn’t my new pressure system so he removed it and took another test drive.  Viola, no more vibration! It cost me $75 dollars to find out that the system unbalanced my tires!  The good thing is that I purchased the system from Amazon and they took it back for a full refund, minus the one bracket I threw away.  Oh well!

The kitchen sink renewal was a great success!  The original sink was a thin white plastic sink that stained very badly. Also, the sink developed small hairline cracks.  The problem to replace the sink was that it was a nonstandard size and worse, a nonstandard shape.  The smallest standard size was a 33’ by 21’ rectangle and we had a 29’ by 19’ kidney shaped sink.  To put in the sink I would need to cut the Corian countertop to fit the new sink, something I have never attempted before.  


Original sink before I took it out.


It looked to be a pretty straight forward, but large project. Before I purchased the sink I made sure that I had room to cut the hole for the new sink.  I just barely had the room for this new hole.  On the left side we have drawers that would come into play and I had just 22” in depth, so it would be a tight fit.  The thing is, you really don’t know until you cut the hole and drop the sink in!  This is a little scary as we would not have a sink if I messed this up.  Also, none of the fixtures in the RV have individual shut offs meaning that I had to shut off the water to the entire RV while I did this.  Again, if I messed up, we would not only have no sink, we would not have water!  So there was just a little bit of pressure doing this.

After being as satisfied as I could with the measurements, I purchased the sink from Lowes on line as a special order as the stores didn't carry a sink this size.  After picking up the sink and borrowing a saber saw from Joe (Cheryl’s husband) I began the install.  Removal of the old sink went pretty well and then I masked off the area that I needed to cut.  I again made a few measurements of the new sink and the space I would have and it looked like it would just fit.  So, I began to cut our Corian countertop!  


After the original sink was taken out.

The area masked out that I needed to cut out to fit the new sink.

I am not sure the saber saw was the tool to use to cut the Corian as it was very slow to cut through it.  But, after about an hour and a half I was finished cutting.  I cleaned up the area and started the sink install process.  I attached the new drain kits, the fixture, and the new soap dispensers to the sink.  Then put a bead of silicone all around the edge of the sink.  Next, I placed the sink into the hole.  The damn think fit perfectly, no issues at all, none!  Even the drains to the plumbing fit perfectly!  This was a very rewarding project as the kitchen looks great and as if this sink was always there.  The whole project took me 7 hours from getting the tools out to finish putting them away.  I had estimated 6 hours so I was sort of close.  I didn’t know that the Corian would be so hard to cut and take as long as it did.


The new sink installed.


Next was the outside LED lights for the awning.  I have been looking at doing this for a long time.  Originally these lights were just more money than I wanted to spend for accent lighting.  The cost was around $150 a couple of years ago.  I started to see a lot of RV with these lights and looked again at the cost a couple of months ago.  Wow, the prices have come down a lot!  I could now get a 5 meter (16 foot) multicolor LED tape, the size of our awning, with remote controller for under $30!  

Now that I knew that the cost was within my budget, I read all I could on the internet about how to install the lights.  I was most concerned about how to power them.  The easy way would be to use the outside outlet and just plug them in when you wanted to use them.  I really didn’t want to go that route; I wanted a more permanent built in installation.  I found that there are two main ways to power the lights.  One is to use the 12v outside lights; either the scare light or the porch light as the power source.  The other way and the one I chose, was to run the power cable into the RV through the power awning cable hole on the  awning mounting channel.

After determining how I was going to power the lights I purchased the lights for $26 on Amazon.  I had the lights in 2 days.  There are also 3 places people mount the lights.  One place is on the awning pole.  I didn’t like that place as I would need to plug in the lights every time I want to use them because the lights will roll up and down with the awning.  The next place is under the awning attachment to the RV.  This is where I chose to install them.  This area has again 2 choices, either directly to the RV surface under the awning mounting channel or directly to the awning mounting channel.  I chose the mounting channel as it would dissipate any heat that maybe developed, a just in case precaution for me. 

Because there were so many comments on the internet about the unreliability of the adhesive that came with the lights, I went with using the 3M outdoor double sided tape rated for 20 lbs.  I cleaned off the channel surface with alcohol and then applied the 3M tape.  After the 3M tape was in place, I installed the LED light tape to the tape.  That process all went real smooth, no problems at all. 
 
The LED lights installed.

Next, I went about taking off all of the silicone sealer over the awning power cable hole into the RV.  That was a lot harder than I thought it would be.  They really used a lot of silicone when this was installed in the factory.  I finally got the hole somewhat clean of the silicone but the hole didn’t go inside the RV as I had hoped.  The hole led the cable into the area between the inside and outside walls and I couldn’t find where the cable eventually came out into the inside of the RV.  This required me to now drill a hole into the RV.  I already knew where the hole would come out into the RV however the area was covered up with a false wood wall in our closet near the floor.  So first, before drilling, I cut a hole through the false wall to see what was behind it.  I found the pex pipes for the washer hookups there.  I just needed to be real careful not to drill into the pipes!  I drilled the hole and fished the cable through leaving the IR eye to hang out for the remote control.  


This is the awning channel where I ran the lights power cable.

Close up of the channel and the IR eye hanging out.

This the hole I made in our front closet on the other side from the awning channel.  The hole is a little rough but I will fix that in the future.

Perspective picture of where the hole is.

Detail of where the LED light power cable runs into the awning channel.

Opposite end of the LED light tape.  I covered the loose open end of the LED light tape with the double sided tape.

Now it was simple, just plug in the 120-12v power supply in the closet and connect the cable to the LED lights on the outside.  They worked the first time!  I finished by resealing the hole with lots of silicone and called it a day!

That’s it for the project and now for a fun personal accomplishment for me.  I have been run/walking 5 miles every other day for the past 2 years.  I keep the exercise fresh and fun for me by playing a game with myself with the alternation of how much I run in each mile.  I also try to keep the overall 5 mile time to less than 45 minutes.  Anyway, an outcome of that alternation is setting personal records for time in a mile.  This past month I set a new personal record of 12 minutes and 25 seconds for a mile.  My old record was 12 minutes and 45 seconds.  I know I can beat that but I am very adverse to moving too fast and hurting myself.  I do this to stay in shape and not to break records so I do not want to get injured where I can’t do this at all for weeks.  But, so far so good, I feel good about it.

Lastly, as we were leaving the KOA we stopped to make a reservation for next year.  We picked the month of July and we picked a new end site for the extra room.  We were informed that all of the end site were to be taken by staff next year and that the monthly rate was going up to $850 from this years $690.  We understand that this KOA is only 7 miles from the falls so it is a tourist destination that makes this place expensive.  However, we are not tourist and do not use the facilities here which is not KOAs fault.  We didn’t make a reservation and are going to try and get back to the place we first stayed our first 2 years here.  It’s just up the road about a mile.  So we shall see how that goes.

We pulled up stakes on the 7th of August, a few days before the end of our paid for time in Buffalo. We have planned to stay the weekend in Elmira NY about 200 miles southeast on our way to New Jersey.  We both have friends in Elmira that we want to visit with.


Stay Tuned!