Our Chalet Truck Camper

Our Chalet Truck Camper

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Host ADCO cover

This lump looks like one more boulder in the rock pile but it is the Host under ADCO cover until spring. Makes us really sad every time we look out the windows. We'll be anticipating an early spring rally at Tall Pines Harbor in Sandford, VA in April.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Dry camping on the Maine coast

Dry camping on the Maine coast

A most excellent, if cold, adventure this past long weekend. TC friends Cathie and Mikeeee T with Miss Della the Basset Hound from near Boston, MA and Toni and Ron from Cape Cod came up Friday night. We celebrated an early Thanksgiving and had a big dinner with a "bit" of wine and spirits. Fortunately our house power breakers and extension cords held for the two TCs in the yard and all slept warm in their own TC beds.

Next morning we had a yard full of TCs, two Lance and a Host. Packed up and hit the road. Stopped at a big craft show in Augusta, had lunch at a boat launch along the Kennebec River, and then stopped a bit in Bath, ME. Our destination was Recompence Campground at Wolfe's Neck Farm in Freeport, ME.

Even though the campground is officially closed, campers can stay at $25 a night with no facilities except a very cold outhouse. We lined up along the point of West Bay after driving through Wolfe's Neck Farm and being the center of attraction for herds of cattle who probably hadn't seen a TC convoy before.

We had two absolutely perfect days of camping. Days were in the high 30s, low 40s for temps, not a drop of rain, bright blue skies but a healthy wind that reminded you it was November, not July. Big flocks of seagulls and small flocks of geese and ducks were in front of the campsites all the time. Incredibly relaxing to sit by a fire and watch the tide come and go, gradually revealing the rock ledges and seaweed beds right at your feet.

We've got to thank Mike again for his help with learning how to properly use the Honda eu2000i generator. This was our first ever dry camp and it was occurring when the night temps were in the 20s. First night I just about froze because I didn't know that the furnace wouldn't drain the batteries overnight so was too conservative on setting the temperature. The extra insulation in the form of Dow Insulation board and space blanket under the bed helped some but there was still what felt like a draft between the mattress and cabinets. That space got stuffed with bath towels around 3AM! The other campers are snoozing away because they have their temps set higher and also have 12volt bed heaters. Guess what we are going to order?

Sunday we trucked over to LL Bean to see the new hunt/fish store and poke around a bit. Freeport can be a mob scene on a sunny holiday weekend so we didn't stay long. We did go down to http://www.grittys.com/ Gritty McDuff's Pub and enjoyed pub food along with locally brewed Christmas Ale, some of which found its way back to the TCs. Maine is blessed with a lot of small micro breweries and this is one of the best.

We returned to Recompence for a much warmer evening. We are thoroughly enjoying the new Host Rainier especially for the floor space. Each evening we hosted (no pun intended) the meal, fitting six adults, a spare small table and extra chairs in for dinner. I'm still learning the convection/microwave unit so heating up food was a bit of a trick on my part.

Only downer so far is that we aren't able to run the generator with the propane furnace going and then start the convection oven. The oven draws 13 amps and will only run for 6-7 seconds and then kick off if the furnace is running. Pretty easy to just turn off the heat for a bit while dinner is cooking. Dometic refrigerator worked perfectly off of propane.

Good company well enjoyed, lots learned about the Host and dry camping. Both the other rigs had full water with hot water heaters going even though the Lances did not have heated basements. Here we are with a heated basement but no water other than Coleman water carriers. We'd already winterized and chose not to drain out the antifreeze, purify and re-antifreeze for a weekend. Worked well but with all we learned, next time we will not hesitate to use the camper in cold weather like it is designed for.

The Host is now unpacked, off the Ford and covered up with the ADCO cover.

We'll keep the area around it snowblown this winter. Never know if we'll get an overwhelming urge to take off but spring isn't that far away. Right??

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The new Host Rainier 9' 6" truck camper

For those of you wondering how we proceeded with our potential 2005 Lance 1121 sidewall problem ........ we traded it for a Host 9'6" Rainier double slide at East End Campers in Southold,NY.

On the way to VT to meet up with some truck camper friends almost two weeks ago, we stopped at a Lance dealer in NH to buy both a side and a rear awning. The dealer said our model had a potential sidewall collapse issue due to wood being used in the sidewall support rather than metal. We did not have the awnings installed because we did not want to spend money on what might be a problem camper. We never made VT, getting a phone call and having to make a U turn south to help with mom's health issues. After a week there, we headed north and decided to stop at East End Campers on Long Island, NY. Arrived on a Thursday morning after a horrendous drive on the LI Throughway and camping overnight near the dealer. Bill Penny, East End's owner, thoroughly inspected our Lance and said it did NOT have any sidewall issues, was a later model that was built with metal, not wood and had no signs of any leaks anywhere. Nice news to hear. We had him give us an estimate on a trade in for a camper that had more floor room and allowed more natural light in. Bill showed us 5-6 TCs including a triple slide Host with rear coach, a Host with a rear tent and a huge Okanagan that was big enough to be a 5th wheeler.

Bill let us wander around the whole lot full of truck campers which included S&S, Host, Okanagan, Northstar, Eagle Cap, Bigfoot and some used Lances. He had shown us the Host Rainier 9'6" model with double slide and wet bath early on but we dismissed it since we had a 11'6" Lance and thought we had to have something as large if we decided to trade. We wandered around, in and out of probably 20 different truck campers and ended up coming back over and over again to the Host Rainier. Brought our lunch from the Lance, ate in the Host, enjoying all the light from the huge windows and the big clear hatch over the bed. This model has a convection microwave, no oven, wet bath and incredible inside storage. When the two slides are out, there is enough room to dance. No more side stepping around the other person, easy walk by. We had Bill give us a trade price since he felt he would have no trouble at all selling our Lance 1121 as it was in such great condition. He is no longer a Lance dealer but did have some used on the lot.

We priced getting our Air Lift airbag brackets replaced, adding Atwood dually swing out brackets, a Honda 2000 generator, and a DT TV to the Host price. We had decided where we were comfortable with $$ trading and the price came in right on the money. So..... we camped on Bill's lot in the Lance Thursday night to do the trade on Friday. He had two other TCs to deliver that day but worked us in. Here's Joe waiting for delivery.

By Friday night we had the new TC, everything was moved over, somehow getting 11'6" worth of gear stuffed into 9'6" with less outside storage. Back seat of the Ford is still full of lots of "things" we shouldn't have been carrying anyway. Good way to lighten the load.

The Host is 2 feet shorter than the Lance and 1200 pounds lighter since it is aluminum frame, fiberglass bonded with foam insulation instead of wood/metal. It is 6" higher and the fit/finish inside is perfection. We spent hours in it before buying and could not find ONE thing to fix other than a missing window shade and a screw on an overhead light. Bill personally did what few minor repairs were needed and also recaulked every seam as a detail person would do. I cannot recommend this dealer more highly. He really cares about meeting your individual TC needs and putting out a good finished product.

Here we are on the ferry headed from Long Island to CT

Met up with TC friends in Salem, MA for this past weekend. We had six people in the Host watching the Patriots football game, all of us with room to move around and sit comfortably. Floor is even big enough to use outside fold up chairs.

We loved the Lance. It was our first TC and got us on the road and seeing North America. But it was time to either put some money into accessories like awnings, solar and a better TV, live with the tight space or spend a bit and upgrade for years to come.

See you on the Road!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Camped on the shores of Chesapeake Bay

Not to rub it in but we are camped totally alone on the shores of Chesapeake Bay at Tall Pines Campground in Sanford, VA.

Gorgeous sunset, flocks of Canada geese flying over, grilled supper, few drinks enjoyed at sunset.

After a pretty stressful week helping mom in the assisted living facility, this is a true relaxer. Tall Pines is the campground where th Mid Atlantic Truck Camping group holds their spring truck camper rally and it is for sure we will be back to attend. Beautiful, well kept grounds, friendly owners who made us feel very welcome. It's still 71 degrees at 8:15PM with a nice breeze off the water. If we were any closer to the Bay we would be in it. Tomorrow we will go over to Chincoteague to see the wild ponies and walk the dunes a bit and then head north again. We went through many small towns on the Eastern Shore after crossing the Bay Bridge Tunnel at Norfolk. Big RVs couldn't get in those towns but the truck camper was perfect size.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Photos from NH Truck Camper Rally

Playing with online technology. Let's see if I can link in to the Photo Bucket account where there are 97 photos from our North Conway, NH Truck Camper Rally. Great time had by all, lots learned and many new friends met.


with a guest password of TruckCamper.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

North Conway NH Truck Camper Fall Jamboree

Arrived in North Conway, NH before noon for the start of the New England Truck Camper Fall Jamboree. 26 Truck Campers expected with the farthest away from Washington State. There are about a dozen campers here already and a pleasant time was had around the campfire trading places to go and tips on camper use. Really fun to put faces with the names from the Truck Camper Forum on RV.NET. We all had a great time teasing Mike T about being overloaded with his camper once again. Of course, he did arrive with a front carrier full of firewood. Great weather, no bugs, river has almost enough water for a canoe. Tomorrow we meet/greet and socialize. Tomorrow evening is hot dog roast with other communal meals to follow. As usual, our TC performed perfectly. The new Torklift with FastGun tiedowns are an amazing difference from the HappiJac system the truck came with. No sway, no bounce, just a solid feeling on the truck and camper being one unit. Feels good to be out travelling again.

Here's Mike with his foot recovering from the pins coming out and Pat unloading wood. More folk arrived quickly for the unload. Pat hosted us at her camp site and we all envied her Ford 550, Big Foot and trailer fitted out as office/spare bedroom.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

North Cape Coast, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Wednesday, July 18th found us on the western leg of the North Cape Coastal Drive. From Cavendish we headed westward through beautiful farm country to Malpeque. This country could survive easily without food imports as they grown potatoes, corn, raise beef and dairy cattle and have the sea for food. Almost everyone has what looked like 6-8 cords of wood cut and ready for winter. On to Summerside to find the bag pipe college for my uncle. Missed the morning blowing? of the pipes but enjoyed walking around this small town. It is the closest to a tourist town we found and were glad to pull out.

Staying on the smallest roads we could find, we headed for the first lighthouse of the day at Cap Egmont. Met a couple in their F-250 without 5th wheel and chatted for a long time. They live about an hour from us in Maine and we traded good places to go. Are all RVers friendly? Found a local seafood wholesaler in Abram Village and talked them into selling us two pounds of scallops and cans of lobster pate. House sitter will be very happy with the bounty.

Found a dirt road that led off of the secondary road and found out that red dirt roads in PEI stick to your white vehicle very well. Lots of the roads were in pitted condition; this dirt one was smooth. Ended up in Alaska, PEI at a fish pier.

Next lighthouse was at Cedar Dunes Provincial Park on the west point of the island. Only meal we ate out was here with a lunch of seafood stew and broiled sole. Very good. The RV camping area in this park had big sites, was shaded by spruce and was also right on the beach.

Lot further drive than we had figured up from the west point up to the North Cape but interesting ocean and farm views along the way. PEI is experimenting with wind power and had many of the huge wind turbines along the sea coast. Finally arrived at the North Cape to see maybe 20 wind turbines of various shapes and blade configurations. University is testing which works the best. I had no idea that a windmill was so big. Decided to cut down Route 2 through the center of the point headed back to Cavendish. Of course we had a lot of road construction but I did spot a woolen mill. The MacAusland Woolen Mill still spins yarn for woven blankets and for knitters. Behaved myself and only bought one sweaters worth of yarn.

Tomorrow we head west towards Frederickton to probably go to Kings Landing, a recreated village of early life in Canada. No camping reservations as usual but we'll find somewhere to park the TC and then head home the next day. Fun trip so far, exhausting with all the walking and sight seeing but worth the diesel and the time. Again today we felt as though we had stepped back into a much gentler, agrarian culture with friendly people and beautiful land. We'd come again.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Canada Eh?

Canada Eh? We're off again travelling the roads in the Northeast USA and into Canada. In four days we have only seen one other TC on the road but tonight there are three older Coachman TCs here in the campground. Unfortunately my French is "don't speak it" and their English is about the same. We did communicate with hand gestures mostly thumbs down at the big As and Cs. Nice wine sharing though.

Sunday - First camp night was at St. Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada where we once again visited Kingsbrae Gardens.
http://www.kingsbraegarden.com/. The gardens alone were worth the trip. The RV park is within walking distance of the gardens and is basically a sand pit but inexpensive and right on the water. http://www.kiwanisoceanfrontcamping.com/. Wore a couple of layers off our shoes that day.

Monday - On to St. John, New Brunswick. This small city packs a vast amount of things to do in a small area. First was a visit to the "Reversing Falls".
http://new-brunswick.net/Saint_John/reversingfalls/reversing.html. The ocean tide and the river draining meet and form a waterfall which reverses and creates whirlpools. Again a few more layers off the shoes with walking down the stairways to the river. We watched two kayakers tackle the falls, not very successfully but we didn't watch a drowning at least.

Next on to the New Brunswick Museum as they were hosting an exhibit of early shipbuilding, railroading, and logging. Even though the TC is only 26 feet long, it intimidates most parking lot attendants so we were having problems parking. One man finally told us to go park for free at Harbor Station, the city arena for hockey and concerts. There is an amazing fully enclosed, tiled walkway that goes from the arena uphill over roads, through buildings and up to the older market part of town. http://new-brunswick.net/new-brunswick/maps/sjcenter.jpg. The museum was excellent (free!), fresh fruit at the old market even better. Thankfully the return to the TC was downhill.

From Saint John, we drove on to visit a quilting friend in Sussex and then down small roads to the Fundy Provincial Park. Big wooded sites, hiking trails right out of the campground but these old feet were put up on the picnic table that night. It is amazing how clean the air is in a spruce forest with that sharp pine tang.

Tuesday - up early to hike down to Pointe Wolfe and see the tides. Pea soup fog so we only made it half way down. No sense in keeping going, could barely see each other. On we traveled through the Fundy Coastal Trail headed for Hopewell Rocks and the 40+ foot tide change. Fog lifted as we drove treating us to scenes of farms, forests, beautiful valleys filled with crops and livestock. The one short cut we tried to take (well it WAS on the Delorme Map) quickly became a turn around. Not fun feeling a 6-1/2 ton vehicle sliding sideways on loose gravel. Four wheel drive got us turned around partially in a cow pasture and back to the main Fundy Coastal Trail.

Dead low tide was at 9:09AM and we got to Hopewell Rocks about 9:30. LONG walk down,down,down to the beach, going through pine forests, wooded walkways and finally a long corkscrew set of iron stairs. Those stairs ended on the "beach" which was comprised of rocky outcrops, deep red mud and gigantic "flower pots" of stone left over from rock eroded away by the ocean. You could literally see the tide coming back in. Lots of deliriously happy children covered in muddy ooze dancing around their equally unhappy parents. Climbed back up - slowly.

On through Moncton, Shediac and then a cut over off of Route 15 to PR955 - a mistake even though the views were good out to sea. If anything were ever going to fall apart on the TC, that road would have rattled it loose. Over the Confederation Bridge to PEI - Price Edward Island and a leisurely drive through small roads to Cavendish. We'll camp out of here for two days, tomorrow probably driving the north loop out to the top of PEI and also trying to find the best seafood place on the island. Have to take my house sitter a couple of pounds of fresh scallops. More when we get Internet access again

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Boothbay Harbor, Maine is a working fishing/lobstering town even though it is better known as a summer tourist destination. We met up with 20+ truck campers for a weekend gathering in the rain at Shorehills Campground http://www.shorehills.com/. We're fortunate in being able to use all of Big Pine Point at the bottom of a fairly steep hill right along the Cross River. Many of our fellow campers had kayaks and paddled from the campground out to the ocean. Each evening we gathered by a roaring fire and told tales of our RV travels.

The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens http://www.mainegardens.org/ are now open. We toured along on a docent's tour and got to explore just a bit of the 250 acres set within a tide water forest. The gardens contain many theme gardens but also sculpture and incredible stone work in the walkways and walls. If you are ever in the area, the gardens are a must see.

Fun to see so many truck campers together, get into many new rigs and see how everyone else sets up their camper. Many shared how they installed their CB radio set ups. We all heard the weather radios sounding off as a big, fast moving thunderstorm rolled through.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Route 66 is disappearing

Route 66 is slowing disappearing. We bought a neat little book on Route 66 from RV Bookstore and hope to one day try to follow it all the way. We found part of Route 66 in Granite City, IL but couldn't cross the Mississippi on it because the bridge was under repair. We did walk out on the bridge so both our wheels and our feet hit Route 66.

Long two days Tuesday and Wednesday travelling east with the goal of getting home before this weekend. Traversed Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and part of NY and saw every type of road construction and repair piece of equipment that exists. LOTS of road construction and progress driving was slow at times. Indianapolis in particular was difficult but we persevered. We wanted to stop at the Air Force Museum in Dayton, OH but we would have cut ourselves too short on time to do it justice. Next time?
Tonight we are in a RV park associated with Turning Stone Casino owned by the Oneida Indian Nation near Vernona, NY. This is a much "plusher" camp than we usually make with huge spaces among groves of mature trees, walking trails, ponds with flocks of geese and an absolutely immaculate bathhouse. We took a shuttle bus over to the casino and walked around for quite a while to loosen up the old joints. Loud, smokey and frantic people throwing money away trying to beat the odds. I'd rather throw my money away on diesel fuel.

Should be home tomorrow and the poor Lance and F-350 needs a major de-bugging and washing. We've kept the inside pretty clean but bug splat will take some time. Once again the rig worked just perfect for the types of roads we have been on including those goat paths through the WV mountains. Getting into the WV state park and camping there was among the highlights of the trip. The St. Louis Zoo and the Arch met all expectations. Having a TC with the ability to take it places like a regular truck would go made all the difference. We talked to so many C and A owners who were not towing vehicles and were stuck at the camp places. We are parked tonight near another TC - a F350 with an older Apache - towing a full size car. !!!

We're all ready to hit the road again and we aren't even home yet. The West calls this fall?

Sunday, June 03, 2007

St. Louis Arch and Museum

OUCH! These old feet are hurting tonight (Sunday, June 3). Time to put them up and have a libation to ease the aches. We've walked most of today and enjoyed just about every step of it. Started out with the saucer separation this AM of the Lance from the F-350. The ability to separate is the reason we got the TC instead of anything else. This time we lowered the Lance much lower than in Lexington and it isn't as shaky feeling. Like having the individually controlled Atwood jacks to make up for slightly uneven ground. Level front to rear and side to side is right on.

Drove into St.Louis early Sunday AM, and walked all around the downtown area by the Arch. Parking was a bit problematic as we felt the F-350 with the lights on the cab was too tall to comfortably get in the parking garage by the Arch. Finally found an open parking lot down by the old restored area being used as night life spots and restaurants. A bit quiet on a Sunday morning in that area, much more so than the revelry at night. The RV parking area was closed due to construction but of course the city hadn't taken down the signs leading there or given an alternative! We walked through the grounds around the Arch and suddenly - there it was! 630 feet of gleaming stainless steel. It almost made you dizzy to look up from under it. I didn't realize that the Arch is a national park. http://www.nps.gov/jeff.

Our NPS Golden Age pass got us into the underground Museum of Westward Expansion inside the arch for $0. The tram ride up to the top and the IMAXX movie was a grand total of $22 for both of us. The Museum of Westward Expansion is part of the NPS entry fee of $3. We spent about an hour and a half in the Museum reading the interpretive panels that went with the maps, artifacts and exhibits taken from the original diaries of Lewis and Clark and western pioneers. Also went to the "American West" IMAXX movie with incredible fly overs of western canyons and wild areas.

Joe sort of held his breath for the four minute ride up to the top of the Arch on the tram as he is a bit claustrophobic. Tram is not what we were on but in tiny little five passenger pods shaped like an egg. Totally closed in and stuffy with the accompanying noise of going up through a metal tube. We both could feel the wind effect at the top and were suprised at the small view windows. Guess they are small and almost bullet proof for the wind. Joe did breathe going down

We did the tourist thing and took the Tom Sawyer river boat out onto the Mississippi. Only an hour ride and we've both spent too much time on the water to be excited about it. It was interesting watching all the barge boats go by and listening to the NPS ranger talk about the history of St. Louis.

Too late in the day and a bit too tired to go to the Zoo or Botanical Park. We'll leave those for over the next two days. Also found two archeological parks and one park that shows how the dam and lock system works. Isn't it great being a kid again?

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Paducah KY to St. Louis MO

Paducah, KY June 2, 2007

After an overnight camp just outside of Paducah near the Kentucky Dam, we got up early to go into town. I've lived in the north too long and forgot that most places down south don't open until at least 10AM. Oh poor us got to wander around about a thousand antique and street rod cars at a club meet right in downtown Paducah's riverfront park. Beautiful small town that has kept its charm and so many of the old buildings. Chatted at length with Big Daddy who was cooking up his daily portion of ribs, briskets, BBQ, etc. in this enormous metal BBQ rig. He had won the BBQ championship for Paducah five of the last ten years. He treated us to a sandwich and we promptly bought two more to go in the camper. Said in late September there is a three day BBQ cook off. http://www.bbqontheriver.org/index2.htm usually attended by 40,000 people. Hmmmm... return southern trip?

Photo is of the flood gates by the Ohio River. They can be locked tight. Local artists have painted the entire wall in the downtown park area with murals depicting life in early Paducah.

Photo is of bronze statues of Lewis and Clark, Sacagawea who helped lead them west and Lewis's faithful Newfoundland dog. Interesting story if even part of it is historically correct.

By then the American Quilt Museum was open. You have to understand that this is the "have to go" place for any quilter as the past year's contest winner's and visiting artist's quilts are hung there. http://www.quiltmuseum.org/ Stunning pieces of art in fabric and thread. Going to this museum had been on my list of places to go before I die and now I've been but I'm not ready to die. We both then went to the River Heritage Museum and learned a lot about dams, locks and the value of a river in mid-America for commerce. http://www.riverheritagemuseum.org/ Small museum with a second floor almost as interesting as the first. A couple had owned the building and used it as their home. Second floor still had their furnishings with 20' ceilings and a great men's card room with leather chairs and a table with lions for the legs. Joe walked over to the Paducah Railroad Museum while I managed to stumble upon a home made ice cream parlor on the way to move the TC to the Railroad Museum. Somehow a pint of home made peach ice cream just fell into the TC freezer.

We could have spent a lot more time in Paducah but St. Louis was calling. Long, very flat drive to St. Louis after all the mountains we have been in. We finally saw TCs on the road. A Lance and a new Okanagan travelling as a pair and later two Lance's both towing boats. One of them even flicked their lights at us! We're now camped at a KOA (I know, I know) in northeast St. Louis in a town called Granite City, IL. Too hot for this northern thick blood to boondock in a state park without electricity for AC. This is called "camping" isn't it? We'd planned on using the RV park at Casino Queen right across the river from the Arch but did not like the looks of it. Barren hot top, not a safe feeling though the lot has security. http://www.casinoqueen.com/rvpark/index.php . TCs and pop ups were relegated to a small section of the north lot which was not appealing at all. So we did the KOA thing and are in a wooded site with full hookups plus Internet for the same price as the casino. Tomorrow we will detach the Lance and take a few days to explore. On the wish list are 1) St. Louis Zoo 2) Arch with IMAX film and a ride to the top of the arch 3) River boat cruise on a paddle wheel steamship 4) Missouri Botanical Garden. Lots more to go see and play tourist but not sure these aging bodies and feet will take much more then four big walks. Supposed to be in the high 80s. We'll be out of here by Thursday when it is supposed to be 99 degrees. House sitter said it was cool and rainy at home.

Couple next to us tonight are from Denver, CO and are giving us a great list of places not to miss in CO. We are trading New England sites.

Friday, June 01, 2007

VA to St. Louis, MO and ??

We've left VA headed for MO (May 30, 2007). The time spend with family was more than worth the 850 mile drive down from ME to VA. We even celebrated a 50th birthday party for my SIL and had ages from 8 to 87 in attendance. Took off early this morning having no idea where we would land for the night but with three firm destinations in mind.

First was the D-Day Memorial in Bedford, VA. This is a stunning tribute to those who died on D-Day and seeing the water with soldiers headed for shore and then climbing the cliffs is probably more than a lot of veterans who were there could handle. The bronze sculptures are larger than life as is the entire experience. If ever in the area, it is a must see and a reminder to all of us that our freedom is not free.

Second we headed for the Blue Ridge Parkway, following Peaks Road out of Bedford. This road led to the Peaks of Otter where we got on the Parkway. We had the entire road to ourselves, only seeing two motorcycles in the entire time we were on it. Mostly hazy but, as we stopped in many of the turnouts and shut the diesel off, the sounds of birds, running streams, an not motor noise what so ever, was very soothing. I cannot imagine the early settlers finding their way through these mountains and settling there. They are a "bit" hardier than we are today. Really hit home how spoiled we are as we ate cold salads taken out of the refrigerator in the camper.

Third we wanted to go see Natural Bridge. We had planned on taking Petites Gap Road up and over the ridges to Natural Bridge but somehow even with Delorme Mapping missed the turn. By the time we figured we had missed, just kept going the somewhat longer way to the Bridge. The arch is quite the amazing formation and worth the walk in. However the pure commercialism and junk around the entrance was almost enough that we thought about not taking the walk. Once past the junk, the walk along a small stream to the arch was refreshing. Continued on to a replica of an Indian Village and to a small water fall. Lesson learned - take TWO bottles of water when walking in southern heat.

At this point we hit I-64 thinking it would be like I-95 with a lot of traffic. It was almost a ghost road and went through some of the most beautiful mountain passes and valleys I've ever seen. The scenery there was better than Blue Ridge Parkway by a great degree. All the way from Covington, VA to Beckley WV and almost up to Charleston, WV is eastern mountains at their best. The F-350 diesel performed admirably, just chugging along in the slow truck lane like the big boys. We didn't push it since we have no time table and 50 mph going up some of those long, long, steep grades was about as much as we wanted to do. Tonight we are in the Kanawha State Forest just south of Charleston, WV. N38 15.0989, W81 39.6778No way could anything but TCs get up the rear entry road into the campground. Ranger was surprised we had come in that way

Tomorrow we have to find a Ford dealer and see if we can get the motor for the passenger side window repaired. Window is down and won't go up and no, it isn't a fuse. We'll head to Lexington, KY tomorrow and plan on staying at the Kentucky Horse Park Campground right beside a horse farm with horse racing history museum and lots of horses to watch. We're not into baseball but Louisville has a steamboat museum and then on to Paducah, KY to the American Quilt Museum. Next St. Louis?

Thursday, May 31
Really odd travel day today, starting with the search in Charleston, WV for a Ford dealer. Joe says he doesn't have enough hair left to have the wind blow through it all day. Delorme Phone Directory was off and led us to a part of Charleston we didn't really want to be in. Got better directions and found the dealer. Service manager said it would be late in the afternoon before he could even look at the window that wouldn't close. Apologetic but really backlogged. He called a smaller dealer west on I-64 who said he could work a repair in. If you are ever near Medway Ford in Hurricane, WV they give incredible service. That dealer worked us in quickly, confirmed the window motor was shot but was able to get the window back up. New motor wouldn't be available until next day so we will get it fixed on returning home. We did have them disconnect the motor controller so we couldn't put it back down again Just as we were pulling off, an elderly gentleman and his wife flagged us down to see the camper. He'd just bought an Apache and wanted to talk truck campers. While showing him the Airlift Bags, Joe found one bolt missing and one sheared off. Not good and we sure didn't drive easily the rest of the day. Ford dealer wouldn't touch the bolts as it is after market equipment but also said they wouldn't fall off or be destroyed driven as they were. He suggested airing them down a bit and using the truck springs as needed.

We stopped in Beckley, WV to see the Exhibition Coal Mine but it was closed and being totally rebuilt. Headed on to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY, planning to stop in their campground overnight and walk over to see the horses, museum, etc. This is a VERY high end RV park with most of the campers being enormous A size with associated tender cars and trailers. It was probably fine but just didn't feel very welcoming. We decided to go back into Frankfort, KY and go to the Buffalo Trace Distillery for the tour. Never seen whiskey barrels in use or the bottling procedure. Very interesting and worth the time. Even more so was the Kentucky Military History Museum. Tonight we are in the Elkhorn Campgrounds in Frankfort, KY. Walked around to see if others had Airlift Air Bags and met a fellow who had just had a new 5th wheel hitch installed He called his dealer who handles Airlift air bags and we have an appointment for tomorrow AM about 40 miles away. This means (gasp) taking the Lance off the truck. Campers sure are helpful souls aren't they?

So.... after the air bag fix, back to load the camper, we'll be off to Jefforsonville, IN just across the river from Louisville, KY to see the Howard Steamboat Museum. Then down to Paducah KY to see the American Quilt Museum. Bribing Joe with a cafe known for their pies. Might do another night in a state park there and then finally off to St. Louis. Weather so far has been in the upper 80s and lower 90s and hazy but not too humid. At least it isn't snowing.

Friday, June 1
Air Bags all fixed, checked out, all bolts replaced with much larger and hardened bolts. We went to Line-X of Kentucky in Nicholasville, KY and worked with a man named Rick Satterwhite. http://www.line-xofky.com/ If you are ever in the area and need help with airbags or hitches, go there.

TC loaded on first try with Ted's DUH system. We made it from Lexington to Paducah along some very rough concrete roads being repaired. Good thing the airbags were repaired. Tonight we are in a KOA so that I could use wireless and we could do laundry. Tomorrow I'll go to the American Quilt Museum, Joe will go to the Paducah Railroad Museum and we both will go to the River Heritage Museum. Then on to St. Louis - the original goal of the trip.

Monday, May 21, 2007

What a great four day weekend! 22 truck campers with a few non TC friends gathered at the Horseshoe Acres Campground in Andover, VT. These folks had all met on the Internet at http://www.rv.net/ in the truck camper forum. It was so much fun to put faces with names and meet spouses, kids, dogsand especially to see all the different makes, models and configurationsof truck campers.

We got there Thursday night and had the entire field to ourselves. Friday earlyothers started arriving. Fun entry as the road bridge goes under water in periods of heavy rain.

Cold? YES Wet? YES but we had a blast. Wagon Master Mike had secured theentire safari field and recreation hall for our use. We filled it with food, drink, hours of chat and sharing good places to visit with TCs. We'llbe there again next year and bet there will be even more TCs.

We returned to Maine via the Kangamangus "Highway" through the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Spectacular scenery and most of the time wewere the only vehicle in sight. TC handles those switchbacks and steep ups and downs without a whimper.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Day 2 on Cape Cod

Day 2 on Cape Cod - Great group breakfast this morning. Campers seem to travel on their stomachs and we feasted well today. Headed into Woods Hole, MA to walk the old streets and then go drive by some of the huge old mansions. One would have to be seriously rich to own one of those homes and take proper care of it - or at least have "staff". The huge shingled "cottages" really look like everyone's idea of New England. Drove to Nobska Lighthouse and enjoyed a long walk on the rocks. It is a beautifully kept lighthouse and way off the beaten path. We then drove down to Hyannis but way too much traffic and insane drivers darting everywhere to really enjoy the town. There was one very low bridge on a tiny back road coming back to the campground with no markings as to height. Joe went up the Lance ladder and watched as I drove under. We cleared by maybe 3-4". Time to remeasure to see exactly how tall we are. Potluck supper due tonight and I'm sure everyone will cook their best. Got so cold last night most of us wimped out early so the pile of firewood is still substantial. Bet we sit around the fire tonight and tell TCing tales.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Cape Cod, Barnstable, MA - meeting up with truck camper friends at the year's first meet. Nice to see familiar faces and know that all wintered well. It's fun to see so many truck campers together and get new tips and tricks on TCing. Tomorrow we'll drive down further into the Cape and visit the beaches, some museums and an old Coast Guard station. Really feels good to be back out on the road again - OTRA!!

The Lances look crowded in but that is just to share the water and power. Lots of room to roam, great meeting hall for a breakfast and potluck dinner tomorrow. We all brought firewood so have gathered to share RVing tips and trips.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

White Mountains of NH in the spring snow

Back from a short shake down trip over to the White Mountains of NH. Lance and F-350 performed perfectly except for one slight glitch and one mystery. The glitch was one of the Lance cab over struts coming apart while driving in the only heavy traffic we encountered - well heavy for Maine. Suddenly there was one half of the strut hanging on the Lance and the other flopping around on the mirror of the truck. The little snap pins kept the halves from falling off. Joe got the halves back together but we don't have any type of cut sheet on how to care for them. Found one topic on rv.net about using motorcycle oil as a lubricant but have also written Lance for a PDF if they have one. The mystery is one of the power outlets on the F-350 dash works, the other doesn't. It's probably a fuse which we'll look into. We use that power for the laptop and DeLorme mapping software.

Very few campgrounds open in ME and NH right now especially after the devastating Nor'easter couple of weeks ago. Lots had roads washed out and trees down. We were going the Walmart route but found a site we'd used before on Ossipee Lake. It was like a ghost town which was great. The ride up through the National Forest around Mt. Washington was gorgeous and still capped with snow. We watched the skiers on Wildcat Mountain carve that last inch of snow. A National park ranger talked to us at a rest area and wanted to see the Lance. He hauled out his trail map and showed us several unimproved wilderness sites that a truck camper could get to once the snow and mud are gone. We'll definitely go back hopefully before black fly season.
Sure felt good to be back out on the road again.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Wonderful day! We loaded the Lance 1121 onto the F-350 dually on the first try. I expected yelling matches or divorce but it went so smoothly we were stunned. We'd read a lot of the back posts on Truck Camper forum about loading and unloading. We put masking tape down the center of the truck bed, hung a lightweight chain from the center of the Lance cabover, tape down the center of the Ford rear window, lined them all up and backed in. And this time we came in low enough I didn't ride up over the rubber roller/bumper. Next time might not go as smoothly but it went well this time.

Guess all that prep work in the winter to batten down the openings paid off with the generator. It started on the first try. Hose clamp over a thick plastic bag kept the insects from nest building in the exhaust pipe which is what plugged it up last year. I'll use the generator power this afternoon to vacuum to run it for awhile.

Now to de-winterize the water/sewage system, mild cleaning on the inside, load up the gear, etc. and hit the road. Great advice as always on the Truck Camper section of Http://www.rv.net.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Finally got more snow, about 12" of fairly light snow with high winds and 5F degree weather. All cleaned up and the Lance made it through fine. We'll go back out again today and sweep the roof of what little snow is left from the first removal. Inside is dry and in good shape. Come on spring!!

Friday, February 02, 2007

So little snow this year it seems odd. We're spending our "out of RV" time planning spring and summer trips. By the time we get one plotted, looks like we will be on the road again for months. The Oregon and Washington coasts call loudly as does Wyoming. Truck camper is checked weekly and after every rain or snow storm. So far, no leaks, but it sure does look lonely sitting there off the truck. We've been using the diesel pickup every ten days or so just to be sure it is running okay and to listen to that lonely motor not going too far. Come on spring!