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.
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!
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.
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
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!
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 gallon...it 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.
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.
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.