Saturday, June 20, 2015

Americade 2015!

Happy Weekend! (I'm never certain if it's Saturday or Sunday, so I'll speak an a broadere sense.) The last three weeks was an exciting and wonderful adventure with Donna to Americade in Lake George, NY.

 This was our first BIG trip with the truck and toy hauler, and we did pretty well with it. The only real mishap occurred at the end of the trip when I kissed another RV while parking in the storage lot... good grief... 2,500 miles and the problem occurs at the last 50 feet... go figure.


Over the next couple of days I'll try to do a wrap up and add the significant photographs. Most of which I haven't even begun to process. None the less, we had a great time and survived with no physical damage, thousands of photos and plenty of diesel receipts to trace our trail. Somehow the rig averages 9.5 mpg going northeast and only 7.8 MPG going south and west. MD, WV, KY mountains must be more challenging... and prevailing winds. (?) 

First:   The rig, in case I hadn't shown you before.  My girl friend Donna does not ride.  We did 6 weeks in FL this winter in her Toyota Camery, staying in hotels and with friends with my bike being moved every week or to by borrowed pickup truck to wherever we were going to be for some length of time  Some of that trip is blogged earlier.  At the end of the trip we decided (she decided) that we enjoyed traveling together enough to move up a grade above this leap-frog system.  We shopped the region on and found a very suitable "toy hauler" within about 30 miles.  The prior owner bought it without testing the waters...   He took the family for one weekend camping close to home and the following Monday put the camper back on the market.  The price was reasonable and he wanted to close the deal well enough to throw in the $500 equalizer hitch without my even begging.  

You can see more about the camper in earlier posts, but after a few days 'in the field' and one weekend camping in KY, we were putting plans together for a 2,500 mile trip to a speaking engagement I had in Lake George NY at Americade.  First was estimating our ability to travel some distance each day through scenic areas which Donna had never visited.  That left out the Rockies and Florida, but we managed.  Our plan was 250+ miles per day, camping at private parks along the way.  Arrive in Lake George the day before I was to speak.

That went fine for the first 100 miles.  From Harrisburg we headed north on a two-lane that was straight, flat and smooth.  Couple small towns, but scenic and easy driving.  Our experience with the truck for maybe 500 miles had been fine.   At mile marker 102 into our afternoon the truck decided there was a fuel delivery problem and we limped into a fuel stop in Elberfeld, IN, about 15 miles from a Chevy dealer at 4 PM on Friday.   I got on the phone with the dealer who reported that their diesel mechanic had the weekend off and they could start investigating on Monday.  Meanwhile, Donna struck up a conversation with a farm dude who was on a fertilizer delivery run.  He recognized the problem as o-rings on the fuel filter assembly and invited us to his farm for a repair.  We limped to his place where he loaned us a truck to get to the dealer for parts and then proceeded to pull the filter and replace the assembly.   He wouldn't accept more than a cold Yuengling and a donation to the local Children's Hospital, sending us to a nearby county park for our camping evening.  

Thank god for unreal favors.   We will be back at his place next week for a surprise visit to deliver a case of Yuengling direct from the brewery in Pottsville, PA!

So our first day ends at 150 miles, 100 short of plan.  
Next day we make up the difference and reach a lovely RV park near Cleveland, where my oldest cousin Judy come out to share the evening happy hour! Over the routes of the past two+ years I have caught up with all but one cousin on mom's side of the fam'.   This trip was no exception.

The following day we launch at a decent hour heading to Bellefonte, PA for another camping night.  Now we start coping with the nuances of driving a diesel truck witha 30' trailer in tow.   The diesel fuel isn't the big deal... the challenge is finding a fuel pump that you can get to without having to unhitch.  

Now couch this with me, who is notorious for deriving on fumes, and Donna
who never lets the gauge go below half and a 9+ MPH truck on the interstate.  The truck has a "estimated range" indicator which appears accurate when you are driving in town (aka: 15+ mpg).  Now factor that down buy 50-some% and start looking for a truck stop or international airport.   Getting nervous, we opt to checkout State College PA where the "available this exit" sigh indicated "D".   Two-miles into town on a Saturday afternoon we end up in a mall parking lot adding 6 gallons of fuel from my carry-on cans.  Now the truck stop is 15 miles down the trail, but in the direction of the campground.  One thing about driving this huge truck and trailer through the streets of State College, PA...  No one wants to get near you!!  Like Moses parting the red sea, intersections become vacant, people back up from the corner when I hit the right indicator to turn their way and truckers assume you are clueless and move over when you come down the entrance ramp.  Some things worked in our favor.   In a later post I will show you a couple apps we are using to plan ahead.

June became the rainy season in OH, PA and eastern NY.   At one point
on an interstate in the PA mountains all that water that Moses parted came back down for about 15 miles.   Traffic slowed to a crawl and I gave up on the windshield wipers and stuck my head out the window to see if I could see white stripes beside me.   ugh.

More in a bit.

More to follow. Jeff

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