August  2008
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The first week of August was our last week in Pennsylvania, so it was packed with last minute moments with the grandkids.  It started off with a "girls only" trip to Hershey.  Mary and daughter Ann took the three granddaughters to visit the Zoo America North American Wildlife Park.  The girls are definite zoo lovers and have missed the zoo they often visited in Columbus, OH when they lived there.  Zoo America in Hershey is not the largest zoo around, but it has a great collection of North American animals in pretty, natural settings.   After touring the zoo, we moved over to Chocolate World where we took the ride through the simulated candy factory (did you know that they make 80 million Hershey Kisses per day?), wandered through the giant candy store, and sampled some items from the bakery.  Of course, no girls day out would be complete without some shopping - so we got some more exercise checking out all the stores in the outlet mall.

One of our favorite stops at the Hershey Zoo Park was watching the black bears fish for watermelon chunks in a tub of ice cubes.
Merrick, Coffey and Close couldn't pass up a stop at a girls' favorite place...Chocolate World. 
This has to be the world's largest chocolate store.  There were aisles and aisles of candy bars to choose from.

Meanwhile, back in Elysburg, Tom was working on some of his projects.  His biggest one was finishing up the restaining and sealing of the deck at Ann and Matt's new home.  It took some sanding and several coats of sealant, but he got it done.  There's also a fresh coat of paint on the foundation of the house and a few less stray branches on some of the shrubbery.  We told in last month's journal about the new fence around the back yard.  Sibby, the smaller of the family's dogs became an escape artist and several times managed to get out of the yard.  Therefore time was spent reinforcing the fence, tromping through brush in the neighborhood, and pulling thorns from her neck.  Unfortunately, we weren't fast enough to get photos of Sibby prancing across the deck railing like it was a balance beam and then jumping from there, in a 10 foot leap over the fence below, to the ground.

And, speaking of the dogs, we had some good chuckles thanks to our granddaughter, Close, and her constantly operating ingenuity.  All three girls are expected to work at cleaning up after the dogs in the back yard.  They do this by throwing their "finds" down into the heavily wooded ravine in the back of the yard.  Installing the new fence made this difficult for the shorter girls.  So, Close appeared one day with drawings of a "machine" she had designed to help her get the job done.  She wouldn't let the subject die, so after several days of badgering she convinced her Dad to get out all the tools and materials she needed to complete her project.  It was a great father-daughter project, that after the first afternoon of trials, needs some refinement, if you can imagine the results!

Our last night in Elysburg was our annual birthday celebration.  Coffey and Grandpa have birthdays just one day apart, so we celebrated with dinner out and then ice cream and cake at home.  It was sad to leave the family behind, but on Friday, August 8, we started our trip west once again.

Grandpa, Dad and Close Ann putting the "poop-a-pault" to work in the back yard. (Everybody duck!)
Coffey Ann celebrated her 11th birthday with a 
strawberry cake.
Merrick, Close and Coffey had one last big smile for Grandma and Grandpa the night before we left Pennsylvania.

The second week of the month became "family and friends" week along with beginning our trail of motor coach maintenance activities.  Our first stop was Wadsworth, OH.  Here we had a fantastic visit with Mary's Aunt Nina and cousin Kathryn.  From there we traveled to Mt. Vernon, OH and were guests of our buddies from our Bounder coach days, Ed and Sue Sims,  We spent two nights at the back of their property with electric hookups and enjoyed some great meals and catching up on news of all our former Bounder buddies.  While Ed and Sue were at work one day we drove the car to St. Louisville, OH for a visit with the other side of Mary's family and spent an afternoon with Mary's Uncle Tom and Aunt Neila Bredehoft.  They have an extensive collection of glass, have written many articles and books and continue to do research on the subject.  It was another great visit.

Tom was the "odd man out" for our great visit with Mary's cousin Kathryn and Aunt Nina in Wadsworth, OH.
We had another great visit in Newark, OH with Mary's uncle and aunt, Tom and Neila.

Leaving central Ohio, we moved on to the northwest.  Our first stop was the Flying J in Lake Township. It was a fuel stop as well as an overnight rest stop, but we got only 1/4 tank as we thought we had a leak and didn't want to risk loosing a whole tank full.  Next was Perrysburg (a Toledo suburb) where we parked at the Bass Pro Shop/Outdoor World.  We passed on a new boat or a new fly rod, but we did make several purchases while we were there for four nights (not our usual length of stay in a free "boon-docking" site, but the manager at Bass Pro said we were welcome to stay).  The first order of business in Perrysburg was to get new tires on the front of the RV.  JAM Tire Service fixed us up in short order with some Goodyear RV tires.  While in our old home town we also attended a "care conference" meeting for Tom's mother at her nursing home, met with our financial people and dealt with the bank concerning a trust for which Tom is an advisor.  We also got together with Mary's brother and his wife for dinner, spent some time with Tom's mother, and visited Tom's sister who unfortunately was in the hospital while we were in town. (She's doing fine now!)  At first it looked like we would miss our former neighbors, Dick and Liz Lehto, but their schedule changed and we were able to enjoy a dinner one night and breakfast one day with them.  Our good friends, Kathy and Dennie Dew had us come to their house for a BBQ on our last day in town.  In the afternoon, the girls walked the streets of the Maumee Summer Fair while the guys held down the fort at home.  We also got to meet their new granddaughter..quite a cutie!

Our friend Jacques Everhart and his friends Jo and Chris hosted us for a fun visit in Jacques' new Bounder motor home.
As always, we had a fantastic dinner with our good friends Kathy and Dennie Dew in Waterville, OH
While in Waterville, we got to meet Kathy and Dennie's newest grandchild, Charlotte.

With all our business in the Toledo area taken care of, we moved on to Jackson, Michigan, with a stop on the way at Cabela's in Dundee to use their dump station.  (The manager at Bass Pro Shop had sympathized with us that none was available at his place).  In Jackson we parked in front of Mary's mother's condo and hooked up to water and electric across her lawn.  We made several visits to the Vista Grande Care Center to see Mary's step-father and to a couple other care facilities trying to help make decisions on what might be best for the situation at hand.  Tom then moved on to Charlotte, MI where he had an appointment at the Spartan Chassis factory to see about a leak our coach had developed.  They were able to diagnose the problem as being a leak in the generator fuel line, but were unable to repair it.  So, Tom was off to Elkhart, Indiana and the Power-Tech generator facility.  Mary drove the car from Jackson to Elkhart where the tech was able to get us back in proper working condition.            We've had our Dutch Star for five years now, and in that time we have had two water pumps fail and we're working on our third.  Tom decided to take the old pumps to the Shurflo company in Elkhart to see what they might be able to tell us about the failed pumps.  It seems that both failures were caused by things that "never happen."  One was a failed switch and the other had developed a hole in its diaphragm.  Shurflo replaced both pumps since they were unable to give us cash back.  So, we now have a supply of pumps for any next times. :-)

We had taken care of all our projects in Elkhart, so we continued our trip west across I-80.  Wow!  Fuel at the Flying J in LaSalle, Illinois was below $4 a was only $3.99.  It's been almost exactly five years since we bought our first tank of diesel fuel in 2003.  At this stop, we got almost exactly the same amount of fuel - 110 gallons.  That first tank cost us $156.  This tank cost us $436.  A little bit if difference there!  My journal comment for that 2003 date commented that the $156 for diesel was less than the 1000 miles of gasoline would have cost us...not true today!

After getting fuel in Illinois we drove on to Moscow, Iowa.  We were a day early for our appointment the HWH company.  Our "free" day was dreary and rainy so we caught up on some inside chores and then made a side trip to the nearby I-80 truck stop, billed as the "largest truck stop in the world."  What a place!  Besides the usual fuel pumps, fast food and showers for the truckers there was a huge gift shop, an even larger truckers accessories store (flashing lights, decals and chrome, anyone?), a dentist, barbershop and a theater...just to get started.  There is even a receptionist at an information kiosk.  We did get our leveling system all checked out and in working order with our rear springs replaced.  The mechanics at HWH, however, discovered that we had a leak in our air system.  So our research began for that problem while we stopped for a weekend at the Amana Colonies in Iowa.  The Colonies are an interesting place...having been settled as seven separate little villages in the mid 1850's.  The people were German immigrants who had first settled in New York State but moved west in search of better and more farm land and to be away from ridicule of their lifestyle as a communal society living in peace.  They all worked together for the good of the community and were assigned jobs within their town depending on their talents.  Only a few went beyond 8th grade, being sent away to become doctors or other professionals needed within the town.  But, in the 1930's, the members voted to open their life to the "outside" and they gradually became members of a "more normal" society.  The seven small towns now are a mix of newer regular homes and restored and preserved businesses and shops such as general stores, several wineries, a woolen mill, a basket and broom shop, etc. run by the Amana Society and open to tourists.  The restaurants serve meals "family style" and there is even a large RV park.

There were plenty of signs to attract us to the World's Largest Truck Stop in Iowa
Do you need any new lights or chrome for your vehicle?  There were plenty of choices at the Iowa 80 store.
The seven Amana Colonies have many restored buildings that have been in use since the mid 1800's.  This complex is now a restaurant.
The whole family could rock together in this "largest walnut rocking chair in Iowa".

Next stop was Pender, Nebraska...home of the Blue Ox Company.  Their technicians cleaned and serviced our tow hitch and added a stabilizer to it.  We enjoyed the hospitality of their lovely RV park for one night as well.  We were also able to find service for our air leak in Pender at Newton's Diesel Service where our air pressure valve was replaced.  We made a small side trip to Sioux City from Pender, driving through the Winnebago Indian Reservation, and finding what else - a Wal-Mart!  From there it was a several day drive across the rest of the state of Nebraska and into Colorado.  At Fort Morgan we had coordinated a get-together with our son, Reid, who was on his way from Summit County, CO heading east.   We took a few hours to catch up on some of his adventures from his season in Colorado and plans for the upcoming Gauley season in West Virginia.

Moving on to the Denver area we arrived in time for the conclusion of the Democratic National Convention.  However, we stayed clear of all the action and made a two night rendezvous in Boulder with our buddies from Palm Creek, Arne Hawkins and Judy Grove and Art and June Nelson.  Of course we had our "happy hours" to catch up on our summer adventures.  And one day we took a trip to Golden where we toured the Coors Brewery (taking full advantage of their hospitality room) and went to lunch at the old capitol building which is now a restaurant.

Guides in search of a river.....friend Ryan and son Reid made a stop on their eastbound road trip for lunch with us in Fort Morgan, CO.
Anyone for a keg of beer?  Our Palm Creek buddies, Arne and Judy and Art and June took us on a tour of the Coors Brewery.
We think we left a few glasses for others, but we managed to try most of the varieties offered in the tap room at Coors.

We would have enjoyed spending a few more days in Colorado with our buddies, but we had promised to be in Las Vegas to meet some other friends from Ohio, so our Labor Day weekend was spent taking the scenic trip across Colorado (climbing the mountains to the Eisenhower Tunnel and making a stop at the scenic view overlooking Reid's former home, Frisco) and Utah on I-70, and down I-15 into Nevada.  And suddenly,  we were facing September.