Hello from Lincoln, NE (Belated)

Hello from Lincoln, NE (Belated)

Wednesday Evening  – December 8, 2021   (First post of this travelogue)

Note 02/13/2022:  there have been several posts that somehow have not been published.  Certainly it could not be a problem with me – right? {big grin}  I think this catches me up.

Well, I am back in Lincoln to teach another class.  I am staying at the Downtown Holiday Inn Express (Google Maps).  This is either a new facility or newly remodeled.  It does not show as a Holiday Inn on the Google Maps.  It is a great facility, but they charge $20 per night valet parking.  It is very close to my teaching location, so that is a bonus.

I have been teaching another two day class (Bearings and Lubrication).  I sort of dread a two day class, as it really takes the better part of 4 days when you consider travel time.  This is the first time I have flown to an NTT assignment in well over a year.  I had a couple of assignments at Boeing in the Seattle area earlier this year, but Pat and I drove to those assignments.

This class went very well.   The folks seemed to engage well and had good input/questions.  I glanced at my “grades” and they seemed to be quite good.  The class has good content (lecture only), but it is too much material for one day but not enough to fill two days.  That could be a problem if the customer thinks they are getting short changed when we finish early.  This customer is very understanding and had no problem with completing the course two hours early.

Tomorrow I fly home.  In spite of Lincoln being the capitol, the airport is very small and does not have much in the way of amenities.  I like to get to the airport early and  have a leisurely breakfast, but it looks like the only food vendor may not be open until one hour before my flight.

That is all for this trip.


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Hello from Evergreen (belated)

Hello from Evergreen

Tuesday December 7 2021 (tenth post of this travelogue)

Note: for some reason this post was not published.  I have marked it as published on 12/7/201

Actually I am cheating a bit as I am back in Lincoln, but that is another post.  This post will serve to summarize our “big” trip.  We drove over 5000 miles and were gone a bit over 5 weeks (September 30-November 7). In general, the trip went very well.  We had almost zero problems.  We averaged about 11 MPG which seemed a bit low to me, but we hit a lot of wind and that just kills the mileage.  The truck was comfortable (ride is a bit stiff on the terrible roads back east) and had good power to deal with most any situation.  The camper did well for us, but the seating is not all that comfortable.  We looked at what they call “theater seating” which is two recliners and a small divider.  Time will tell if we make the change.

We set up a new Dish “mobile” account for the TV.  We could call in at each location and they would change the spot broadcast so that we got local versions of the national channels.  It is a bit pricey, but we only need to pay for those months where we use it.

Now to catch up on Gettysburg and Philadelphia. In Gettysburg we spent a day visiting Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center.  The two highlights of this visit were the great movie:  A New Birth of Freedom narrated by Morgan Freeman and the Cyclorama painting of the Civil War.  We spent part of another day taking a bus tour of the National Park.  It was a great adventure.

We were disappointed in our potential visit to Philadelphia.  It turns out that many of the places we wanted to visit were only open certain days (Covid) and were not open when we had a day to tour.  We thought about taking the Hop-on Hop-off bus, but the logistics of finding a parking spot (together with the closed attractions) put a damper on that.  Instead, we just cooled our jets in the great campground.

Pat is working on a report of the cousins reunion and I will publish it when she completes it.

That is all for this trip.


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Hello from Lincoln, NE

Hello from Lincoln, NE

Thursday Evening – November 4, 2021   (ninth post of this travelogue)

Note, for some reason this post did not get uploaded.  I am uploading it on 11/20/21.  There will be at least one more post for this trip.  BTW, we made it home on Saturday 11/6

We are at the Camp A Way campground (Google Maps)

We arrived here Monday which gave me a day of downtime before I started teaching for the University of Nebraska facilities group (Wednesday and Thursday).  This class was our Bearings  and Lubrication class.  I had a project last year to update the manual and slide presentation and this is the first class that has been taught since that project was completed.

It was a major milestone to reach Lincoln “in one piece”.  We have been on the road for over a month and travelled over 3500 miles so far.  We have only had some very minor issues and we hope that continues for our last two segments of the trip.

We were concerned about internet connections on this trip, but with only one exception we were able to connect through either our AT&T cellphones or Verizon MiFi.  We try to avoid campground wifi systems since the security on these systems can be very suspect.

The weather continues to be cool and moist.  The humidity is very high and nothing seems to dry in the camper.  I looked at the weather for the two day trip home and it looks to be pretty good.

The class here in Lincoln went well.  There were 13 students and that is a fairly large class, but manageable since it is “lecture” only.

The Boeing class in PA got off to a rough start.  My contract indicated that I would be teaching one class and Boeing expected me to teach another.  I had prepared for the class noted on my contract (the same class as the one here in Lincoln) and the change in plans caught me by surprise.  Fortunately I had taught the class (two day lubrication class) at Boeing before and had the PowerPoint slides on my computer.  The class worked out pretty well.  Boeing restricts the class size to 4 students due to Covid distance restrictions.  That said there were only two students attending.  They were great students and quite understanding of my frustration caused by the mix up.

I still plan to post “tourist’ type details about our stays in Gettysburg and Clarksboro, but that will happen in another post.

More to come

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Hello from Kellogg, IA

Hello from Kellogg, IA

Sunday Evening – October 31, 2021   (eighth post of this travelogue)

We are at the Kellogg RV Park (Google Maps)

I might normally skip this stop and post at the next stop, but this is a great experience.  I will post two photos of this campground.  The first will be a long shot with the camper in the foreground and the second photo will show the building in the background of the first photo.  You will see that they bill themselves as “Iowa’s Best Burger Café”.  We ordered dinner and I walked over and picked it up.  I had a great burger and Pat had a good tenderloin.  We had malts as well.

A second great part of this stay is that our site is out in the open and we are able to get DISH network via our dome.  That has allowed us to watch the drag races from Las Vegas.  This is the next to last race of the year and is really important from championship points standpoint.

Our drive today was pretty good.  It was short (about 230 miles) and the weather was good except for troublesome wind most of the way.  It alternated between a side wind and a head wind.  I could really feel it while I was driving.  It was also cold – about 50 degrees and very high humidity.

Our 1300 mile thrash across country is about over.   We have a bit less than 230 miles to go to get to Lincoln.  That will put us in Lincoln on Monday and gives me a bit of “downtime” before I teach on Wednesday.

I mentioned in the last post, crawling around in the mud trying to troubleshoot my trailer tail light problem.  I have included a photo of one set of clothes I wiped out in the process {grin}.

More to come.

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Hello from Peoria IL

Hello from Peoria IL

Saturday Evening – October 30, 2021   (seventh post of this travelogue)

We are at the Fondulac Park Carl Spindler Campground in Peoria, Il (Google Maps).

We are on our somewhat frantic push from my Boeing assignment in the Philadelphia area to my next assignment in Lincoln next week.  It is about 1320 miles and we are about 450 miles from Lincoln.

When things calm down a bit, I will document our stays in Gettysburg and Clarksboro.  However, I thought I would make a few observations about the last few days.

We left Clarksboro and made stops in Washington, PA and Richmond, IN.  Today we made the drive from Richmond to Peoria.  Each leg was about 300 miles.

The weather has not been kind to us.  First, there was a “Nor’easter” this week that caused a great deal of flooding  in the NJ and PA areas,  We got quite a bit of rain but did not get the brunt of the big storm.  The past three days we have been driving in some pretty bad rain.  Now that we are in Peoria, it is pretty decent.  That said, the campground is partly flooded and a couple of the campgrounds we called were closed due to flooding.

Yesterday we went through four states: PA WV, OH and finally IN.  Seemed like forever in the rain, but we made it without issues.

I have been battling a problem with the turn signals on the trailer since we left Clarksboro.  I traced it down to a problem with the truck.  I have spent quite a few hours under the truck in the rain.  Got soaking wet and last night I slipped in the “greasy” mud and did a couple of great headers – one in front of Pat {grin}.  At three AM this morning I woke up thinking about the problem. I thought surely they would not have the trailer turn signal lights on individual fuses.  Well, of course, some far out engineer outdid himself and did just that.  All the work under the truck and wiping out a couple of sets of clothes, and it was a simple fuse that took a couple of minutes to change.

Yesterday we were in Richmond and made a stop at Camping World to get some parts for the tail light problem.  On the way to the campground (near Camping World), a semi went off the road and destroyed a power pole.  No big deal, except the wire dropped on the truck and camper.  It did not get tangled up in our unit.  I think it was a communication cable, but it sure got our attention.

More to  come.

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Hello from Clarksboro, NJ

Hello from Clarksboro, NJ

Draft started Sunday Evening – October 24, 2021   (sixth post of this travelogue)

Posted 10/29/2021

We are at the Philadelphia South/Clarksboro KOA Holiday campground (Google Maps)

I started this post, but did not get a chance to finish it.  Life has been hectic and now we are on the road heading towards Lincoln for my next NTT assignment.

This post will mainly document where we stayed while I taught at Boeing.  As time permits, I will add some discussion about our tours in Gettysburg and a bit about our stay in NJ.

More to come

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Hello from Gettysburg, PA

Hello from Gettysburg, PA

Friday evening– October 22, 2021   (fifth post of this travelogue)

We are at the Artillery Ridge Campground (Google Maps)

Tuesday we had a laid back day and only drove around the huge campground.  The property is about 5 miles long and has been in the family since 1957.  They opened it to the public in 1960.   It has two large lakes and several camp areas, most of which are dry camping/tent sites.  It turned out to be a great campground.  By Wednesday were the only campers in the facility.  I suspect that it gets rather crowded on the weekend.  They have jeeps, horses, and canoes for rent.  There is even a sand beach on the lake.

Wednesday we toured the Shenandoah National Park.  We entered from the north.  Our first stop was the Dickey Ridge Visitor Center, where we got to experience a great ranger presentation that focused on how the early settlers farmed and preserved their food.  We then continued along Skyline drive to Skyland Rustic Resort where we had a great lunch.  Skyline drive is very much like the Blue Ridge Parkway.  It is a very twisty road with beautiful views of the valleys far below.

The mountains in this area are quite different from those in Colorado.  They do not have the same elevation raise, but we saw a sign showing an elevation of over 6500 feet.

Yesterday we drove a relatively short distance to Gettysburg (about 100 miles).

This will be at least our third visit to Gettysburg.  The first was in 1980 in our VW bus with all the girls.  Lisa even commented that she remembers being here.  It was a wonderful visit.  At the time they had cassette tapes you could play in your car radio.  It told you where to drive on a map and then gave you a narrative about the battle at that location. Our tour was close to a great sunset and the sights were so impressive. Attached is a fun photo of that VW.

If you scan out a bit on the Google Map, you will see that we are less than a mile from the battlefields.  This campground would fall into the “OK” category.  That said, because of the location we had to pay $79 last night and $99 tonight!  As has been the case in most locations on this trip, it is not easy to find a camp spot – especially on the weekend.

We are still working on getting the trailer modified to make it more suitable to the way we are used to camping/traveling.  We are not able to “boon dock” which would really make our travels a bit easier when we are going cross country.  It is so convenient to pull into a Wal Mart and spend the night without having to set up the trailer.  I have installed an inverter to supply 120V power off the batteries, but the wiring is not completed.  Also, the water supply tank is pretty small.  I will add a second tank over the winter.  Staying in campgrounds is not all bad – except for the cost and the resources needed to find one.  Not worrying about power and water (and to a degree sewer every so often) is pretty nice.

More to come

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Hello from Gore, VA

Hello from Gore, VA

Tuesday evening– October 19, 2021   (fourth post of this travelogue)

We are at the Cove Campground (Google Maps)

Pat (and I) originally labeled this another “pretty campground from hell”.  Pat hated the 30-mile road into the campground (we are way off the beaten path with twisty narrow roads) and I was pretty upset with the attitude of the person who checked us in and the fact that it appeared with did not have any phone signal or WiFi to the camp spot (according to miss congeniality).  It turns out that we have great TV satellite reception, enough AT@T signal to get texts and manageable phone calls (some issues) and very good internet via our Verizon MiFi.  To top all of that, it is beautiful here.

One of the fun things that happened to us was that we have been visited several times by goats.  They use the goats to control weeds, but right now they are letting them free range.  I have included a picture of me feeding them Iowa corn.

Prior to coming here we did some touring of the Blue Ridge Parkway from our camp site in Willis, VA.   Saturday we traveled north along the parkway to Roanoke (perhaps 50 miles).  Our goal was to go to a WalMart to get some prescriptions filled.  While we were there we ate at a Bojangles fast food restaurant.  They are famous in this part of the country.  Most of the menu items are chicken variations.  We returned via the interstate.

Sunday we drove south about 50 miles to the Blue Ridge Music Center where we got to hear some local musicians perform music from this area (similar to blue grass).  The visitor center has a good museum that displayed various musical instruments associated with the regional music.  I have included a photo of the group.

On the way home we stopped at the historic Mabry Mill and had a great dinner.  I have included a picture of the mill and will paste a great description of the mill history at the end of this post.  BTW,  that picture is one I took – not too bad huh?

The Blue Ridge Parkway is over 400 miles long and we traveled perhaps 150 miles of that route.  It is absolutely breath taking and varied in types of scenery.  While our goal  was to travel  the full  route, that was just not practical.  Here is a description of the parkway:

As a public works project begun during the Great Depression, the Blue Ridge Parkway is the first and longest rural parkway in America. Administered by the National Park Service, the 469-mile long Parkway extends through the southern Appalachians of Virginia and North Carolina, linking Shenandoah National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Along the Parkway, travelers experience stunning pastoral and mountain vistas, and a great diversity of plant and animal life. In addition, visitors encounter the region’s history, culture and traditions of craft, music, and agricultural heritage, brought to life through historic sites, artifacts, displays, live interpretation and performance.

Below is a paste of information about the Mabry Mill.  It is rather lengthy, but I think it is good reading.

Mabry Mill is one of the most photographed sites on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Several hundred thousand travelers visit the Mill each year, a turn of events Ed Mabry probably could not have predicted when he built the Mill more than a century ago.

Around 1905 Ed and his wife Lizzie Mabry set in motion actions to realize the dream of their own gristmill.  With the help of a neighbor, Newton Hylton, they built the gristmill, waterwheel, and water supply flume system with hard work and hand tools. By 1908 the gristmill was in operation and people from as far away as eight miles were bringing their corn to be ground.  Also by this time Ed Mabry was ready to move on to his next project which was to build a sawmill on the left side of the gristmill.  While Ed was busy building the sawmill, Lizzie took over the milling duties at the gristmill.  Many said Lizzie was the better miller of the two.  There was a problem though.  Because the streams used to supply water to the mills were small, there was not enough needed water power.  Due to the lack of water power, the process of grinding the corn at the Mabrys’ mill took longer than at some of the other nearby mills.  Mills with plenty of water power would at times grind too fast.  The resulting friction turned to heat which would then burn and scorch the corn meal leaving it tasting bitter.  Because of the low water power problem at the Mabrys’ mill, it was known as a slow grinder.  Due to this problem the Mabrys could not grind the corn fast, but they also never burned or scorched the corn meal which resulted in some of the best tasting corn meal around. This news spread fast which brought many loyal customers to the Mabry’s  little mill.

Soon the sawmill was finished and Ed began to build a woodworking shop on the right side of the grist mill.  This shop had a double-bladed jigsaw, a wood lathe and a tongue and groover all run by the water-powered waterwheel.  This completed the gristmill complex with the sawmill, gristmill and woodworking shop all attached.

For convenience sake, the Mabrys now decided to build a new blacksmith/wheelwright shop beside the gristmill complex.  This was around 1913-1914.  Later, after many years of hard work building up their business at the mill site, Ed and Lizzie decided to build a new house for themselves.  Sometime around 1918-1920 the Mabrys built by their own hands and skill a two-story white farmhouse.  The approximate site of that house is where the Matthews’ cabin is located at Mabry Mill today.

The National Park Service acquired the Mabry Mill property in 1938 after Ed died and Lizzie moved away.  The gristmill complex and the blacksmith/wheelwright shop were deemed historically significant by the Park Service as representing the rich cultural past of the Blue Ridge Mountain region.  In 1942 those structures were completely restored, giving the Blue Ridge Parkway yet another gem along its beautiful winding 469 miles through the heart of Appalachia.  Every year Mabry Mill, the legacy which Ed and Lizzie left us, is visited by people from all over the world.  We invite everyone to come visit us here.  Enjoy some great food, great music, great history, great people, and all that is Mabry Mill.

More to come.

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Hello from Willis, VA

Hello from Willis, VA

Sunday evening– October 17, 2021   (third post of this travelogue)

Well, we have had a change of plans.  Our original plan was to drive the full length of the Blue Ridge Parkway – stopping at campground along the way.  However, we drove a length of the parkway from Cherokee to Ashville without the trailer and it  was like driving our twisty North Turkey Creek road most of the way (not quite that bad, but close).  We quickly decided that driving with the trailer would not be fun.

So,  we decided to pick two locations adjacent to the parkway and camp in those locations for three nights each and tour as much of the parkway as possible from each campground.

Our first stop was at the “Daddy Rabbit” campground close to Willis, VA  (Google Map).

Pat has labeled this the “pretty campground from hell”, but it really is very scenic.   Her objection was how difficult it was to back the trailer into the spot in the very tight space between a bunch of trees.  In addition, it is very wooded and we are not able to get a TV signal (not the end of the world, but we wanted to watch the races this weekend).  Also, the power was only 20 amp, but that is plenty since we do not need to run the AC – indeed, it was rather chilly this morning and the inside of the camper was 50 degrees when we got up.

At this campground, neither our AT&T or Verizon MiFi work for internet.  The campground has WiFi, but it is pretty slow.  Yesterday we traveled to Roanoke via the parkway and took my laptop so that we could make reservations for the next two stops.

Speaking of campgrounds, it is very difficult to find a spot in most campgrounds.  We have to do a Google search for campgrounds in the selected location and then start calling until we find one with a space.  It is not for a lack of campgrounds.  There seem to be several for every selected location, but they are mostly booked up.

So far, the weather has been fantastic (except for the one windy day).  Daytime temperatures are mostly in the 80s and evening temperatures are in the 60s (give or take 10 degrees).  We have had a few rain showers, but nothing that interfered with our travels.

At first we were disappointed that we had not encountered fall colors.  We are now a bit further north and the colors are better, but we have not seen much of the red colors.  We hope to get into even better colors in the next few days.

I have included a photo of our “Daddy Rabbit” camp spot and of the colors we saw yesterday.

More to come.

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Hello from Cherokee, NC

Wednesday afternoon – October 13, 2021   (second post of this travelogue)

As I mentioned in the first post of this travelogue, we are on a rather extensive journey.  I have a teaching assignment at Boeing in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania.  We are driving there in our truck and camp trailer.  We are taking a route that we hope will be very scenic.  Our current location is a the Happy Holiday Campground (Google Map)

Since leaving Corning, we have travelled about 1000 miles.  We stopped in campgrounds in Boonville, MO; Benton, Il; Lebanon, TN and now here.  The campgrounds have been anywhere from primitive (Boonville) to gorgeous (here).  We have paid a bit over $30 in two locations and over $50 per night in Benton and here.

We have planned the trip so that our travel days are less than 300 miles.  The first two days were uneventful, but the trip from Benton to Lebanon was extremely windy.   The  truck and trailer were a bit  “twitchy” so I stopped and bought/installed a sway bar (had intended to do that before we left).

Our trip yesterday had the earmarks of the trip from hell mixed with some very beautiful driving.   We decided to take the route from Lebanon through Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg – bad mistake.   Both had traffic gridlock.  The towns are tourist traps and driving  a truck/trailer through the narrow streets was not fun.  After leaving Gatlinburg, we drove through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and it was amazing.

Once we got to Cherokee the Google Maps demon kicked in and guided us into a private area with nowhere to turn around.  It took us well over an hour to jockey the combo around in a person’s yard.

As I said, this is a beautiful campground and we are about 100 feet from a beautiful fast flowing stream.  There is a good sized lake on the property with lots of ducks that want you to feed them.  I have included a couple of photos.

More to come.

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