Friday, November 26, 2010

Action Sudbury - Red Ribbon Kickoff

As I have mentioned before, I am involved with Action Sudbury. This is a community organization established in 1984 to raise awareness of the perils of drinking and driving. One of our main programs is the annual Red Ribbon Campaign where we distribute ribbons to local drivers. They tie them to their mirrors or antennas to signify their pledge to always drive sober.

At the beginning of the festive season, we host a Red Ribbon Kickoff to highlight the campaign. We have done this for 22 years now and again returned to the very supportive Travelodge Hotel for this year's show. We had a good selection of politicians, law enforcement officers, media and members of the public attend as usual.

The hall we set up last night

City of Greater Sudbury Police Chief Frank Elsner

STOP Officers Real, Terry and Norm

Action Sudbury Chair Ron Roy as the piper plays the lament

John, victim of a drunk driver, shares his story

An attentive audience

Jessica of OSAID and the Chain of Life

Special Constable Real accepts a donation to assist with volunteer STOP Officer expenses

Amanda Elizabeth Kohls receives the Rollande Mousseau Award from Rollie herself

In addition to the speakers and presentations, we screened a video produced by the Transport Action Commission of Victoria, Australia. It is a compendium of their PSA videos produced over the last 20 years and conveys the damage done by drinking drivers in a very powerful manner. You can view it on Youtube here.

It was another successful day and I'd like to remind everyone out there to
Drive Safe, Drive Sober.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Buffalo New York to Sudbury Ontario

We checked the weather and saw it was -10C in Sudbury this morning. They were forecasting a high of +2 with flurries. Much as the north runs in my blood, a few more days in the sunny south would have been nice.

With the car loaded, we headed north across Grand Island to the Lewiston Bridge. At the border, the agent suggested that we must have done some shopping in eight days away. I explained that we had only spent $5.00 on goods we were bringing back this time but that they would have a lot to collect when we came back with the motor home in the spring.

Leo needed to order a speedometer cable for his bike so we stopped at the large BMW car/bike dealership in Oakville. This is a large place and even has an Internet cafe for people waiting for their vehicles. The bike area was upstairs and didn't have much selection left, but there were lots of nice cars. The only drawback to Oakville was the continued construction on the QEW. They have been working on it for 25 years. Maybe, in another 25, they will get it finished.

Taking the 403 up to the 401, we saw some strange buildings being constructed. It turns out that these are condos for the Fernwood Absolute Condo Community. It made me think off something in Dubai.

Absolute Condo Community - Mississauga Ontario

We made another stop at Costco in Barrie for gas and hot dogs. Then there was one more break at the Tim's south of Parry Sound where we saw two one ton trucks towing classic cars in enclosed trailers. They were destined for a shop in Val Caron where they say they have about twenty of these gems at any given time. We will have to go out and visit them sometime soon.

I noted on the way into Sudbury that the beaver ponds were frozen. Cold temperatures and light snow cover make for the best kind of freeze-up for sledding, not that it matters to me because my last sled is for sale. Still, I wish Normie and STP great conditions for a successful snowmobile season.

Finally we were home. It was an interesting maiden voyage and we are looking forward to more miles of smiles in the spring.

Today's Route (344 miles):

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Birmingham Alabama to Buffalo New York (by air)

Sandy and I were up at 4:00 AM Eastern Time (3:00 AM Local).  We didn't want to sleep in because we had the early shuttle call to get us to the airport with lots of time to spare before our 8:00 AM flight.  We weren't sure, with all the TSA horror stories going around, if we might have trouble clearing security because we were furriners.  I used the time to post bills, catch up on a few blog entries and review the TSA website yet one more time.

It was a beautiful morning here but Sandy heard we might have snow in Buffalo.  The shuttle arrived right on time at 5:30 local time and zipped us right over to the airport.  Delta had a gentleman at the curb who checked our bags as we got out of the shuttle.  Each bag cost $25.00, not like the old days, but it was much more convenient.  He have us the tags and boarding passes and told us the luggage was checked directly through to Buffalo.

There were about forty people lined up waiting to clear security, but we were through in about ten minutes.  The first check was a hand swab to sniff for explosives.  They were doing every fifth person and I was lucky enough to be number five.  It took a few seconds for the machine to return a negative and let me move on. At the main check, we took off our shoes and emptied our pockets, putting everything in a basket.  Then we walked through the metal detector, were handed our gear back and moved on.  Leo was held a bit longer because he kept his metal rimmed sunglasses in his pants pocket.  All in all, everyone was pleasant and professional, a far cry from the tales currently being told on CNN and elsewhere.

Since we were so early, we stopped at one of the airport restaurants and had breakfast.  They had WiFi so Diane and I puttered around on line for a while before moving on to our gate.  While sitting at the gate, I noticed two TSA people in uniform walk in and sit down.  They were pretty casual, as if they were on a break, but I saw the way they were watching the people and pointed it out to Sandy.  I guess I was too obvious watching them because, when they called our flight at 7:45, the agents moved over to the gate and spot checked some of the carry-on bags.  I am pretty sure that I was watching them so closely earlier because I was one of the people to be 'randomly' selected.  Again, pleasant and professional.  No big deal.

Our aircraft for the short hop over to Atlanta was a DC9-50.  I wasn't aware that any DC9's were still in service but the -50 appears to be the last and largest variant.  I haven't been on a plane in years and I am starting to remember why.  We waited patiently as the passengers tried to cram all manner of carry-on luggage into the overhead bins.  Now I may be old fashioned but, in my flying days, any bag you carried on had to fit under the seat ahead of you.  The overheads were reserved for blankets, pillows and passengers' coats.

Finally settled, we pushed back  and taxied out right on time.  Before we reached the end of the runway, we stopped and the captain came on telling us Atlanta was backed up due to clouds and congestion.  As a result, we would be holding here until our window opened at the other end.  Since we were on a tight connection in Atlanta, this was not cheerful news to us.

Finally, twenty minutes late, we were airborne.  It was a quick flight and, as we descended into one of the busiest airports in the world, we could see the weather had cleared.  The pilot made a very nice landing and we taxied to the gate where we had to wait again while all those people ahead of us struggled to get all that luggage out of the overhead bins.

Deplaning, we looked at the board and saw our flight to Buffalo was scheduled to leave from Terminal A shortly.  We were at the far end of Terminal B so we started to run towards the hub.  Sandy needed to make a short stop at the ladies room, so we lost contact with Leo and Diane on the way.  Alone and hoping the other two were doing OK, we kept running until we saw arrows pointing to Terminal A.  There was an underground train, for crying out loud.  Lucky for  us, one was by almost immediately.  Arriving at A, we found our gate just in time.  Most of the plane had boarded as we, huffing and puffing, dragged ourselves up to the counter.  The wise ass there told us with a perfectly straight face that we would not be able to board.  Seems we had been running too hard........  Joke over, they waved us through but we saw no sign of Leo and Diane.  What to do?  Luckily again, they arrived about two minutes later and we all just barely made it on the plane.  The best part of arriving late is that most of the people had already stored their luggage in the overheads.  We did wonder if the luggage made it but there would be no way to tell for sure until Buffalo.

This aircraft was an MD-88, a successor to the DC9.  It had a lighter load than the flight to Alabama so Sandy and I had three seats between us.  We were airborne right on time.  The only drawback was the family in the seats behind us.  I think they were speaking Farsi and the boy behind Sandy kept kicking her seat.  We had the chance to move back in the plane but I don'y like sitting between the engines on this configuration.

Sandy put her earplugs in while I took the Netbook and, courtesy of gogoinflight, was able to hook up to WiFi and even have an IM chat with Malachi as we flew over Kentucky.  It looks like this was supposed to be a fee service but it was a free trial for this trip.  Thing went well even though the drink service had to be suspended for a while due to turbulence.  As we descended into Buffalo, the child behind us thought it would be a good time to have a temper tantrum.  Ah, the joys of mass transit.  Again we touched down nicely and made it to the terminal in one piece.

I can remember a time, from 1977 to 1993, when I had a serious phobia about commercial flying.  Before this period, no problem.  I even worked in helicopters in the bush with no doors on them.  Then, suddenly on our first trip to England, I became a white knuckle flyer.  This continued through a number of trips until I came to grips with both my own mortality and the unpredictability of the fickle finger of fate.  Now I don't worry any more and actually enjoy flying.  The airplane part, not the terminal/security nonsense.

Once in the terminal, we proceeded to the baggage collection area to see if the luggage had made the short change in Atlanta.  Lo and behold, there it appeared.  Or most of it.  The zipper on one of Diane's bags had broken and her camera was missing.  The case was still there, zipped up, so it hadn't just fallen out.  We visited the Delta office and they weren't very helpful.  They claimed they weren't responsible for checked electronics and all she got for redress was a $25 certificate, which only reimbursed her for the fee paid to check the bag in the first place.

Leo called the Clarion, where we had left their car and we would spend the night.  They promised to send their shuttle right over and we went outside to wait in the biting wind.  They were there soon and we loaded up and proceeded directly to the nearby hotel.  After getting checked in, we headed over to Bob Evans for lunch.  Back at the room, Leo and Diane went shopping while Sandy and I just kicked back and relaxed.  I started to read a book and dozed off.  The rest of the evening was given to periods of reading and napping.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanks Blondy

In addition to giving us a place to park the motorhome and driving us back to Birmingham, Blondy also had a new RV sewer hose, still in the box, and a hose slinky which we need for future travels.  These were left when they sold her father's fifth wheel.

Blondy, you have a heart as big as all outdoors and I can't express how grateful we are for all your help.  Thanks for everything and we'll see you again later in the winter.

Scottsboro Alabama to Centreville Alabama to Birmingham Alabama

It was another beautiful morning, much like the best of July mornings back home. Alabama trucks do idle in parking lots because one pulled in close to us last night and rumbled until dawn. The driver had his two pre-teen children with him. The trucks don't bother Sandy or I because she wears earplugs and I just tune them out, but I know they were a problem for Leo and Diane.

We ate breakfast at Krystal's, a fast food place right next to us. The portions were small and the food was southern salty, but Diane and I liked it. That's 50%.

The Unclaimed Baggage place was close by and, after packing clothes bags for the flight home, we got there by 8:30. They didn't open until 9:00, so Leo and I pulled the Tire Pressure Monitor sensors off the tires and removed the batteries for storage. The pressures, which had been around 70, were now universally 75, probably due to the warm temperatures. After checking tread depths last night, I found that the outer tread was wearing faster so, despite the scale and table data, I need to increase the pressures from 70 to 75. That meant we could leave them where they were.

When the doors opened at 9:00. we checked out the unclaimed baggage. It is much like a very well appointed and organized Value Village. Although there are some very upscale items (appropriately priced), much of it was run-of-the-mill used clothes and equipment. Sandy bought a fanny pack and camera case and I got a new case for my sunglasses. Total cost was just over $8.00.

Unclaimed Baggage - Scottsboro Alabama

Ready to shop

Shopped out, we left Scottsboro on Alabama 35 to Fort Payne. The motorhome climbed the big hill leaving Scottsboro with ease. At Fort Payne, we caught I-59 southwest. This is one rough concrete road in the right lane, so I travelled in the left until we finally reached nice new pavement. That was short lived and then we had ten miles of rough single lane as they worked on the other side. I was running the posted 55 while a line of transports ganged up behind me. The new surface looks like asphalt. Finally, we got clear of the work zone and settled into a steady 60 MPH.

Diane came up with a great idea. Rather than haul all the luggage down to Blondy's in Centreville, where the RV is being stored, and then back again to our hotel in Birmingham, we stopped at the hotel and left Diane and the bags. The Rime Garden Inn and Suites is an interesting cluster of buildings and I opted to park across the street in a warehouse lot instead. The rooms weren't quite ready so we left Di on a couch in the lobby and moved on.

The plans called for a fuel stop and holding tank dump at the Flying J at Exit 104 on I-20. Unfortunately, while I fueled and dumped three cans of Seafoam in the tank, the dump station was out of service. The station is in major disarray as they remodel due to the Pilot/Flying J merger. We were directed to a Petro truck stop at Exit 100.

Petro had a dump station and it was free. Unfortunately (I seem to be using that word a lot), the dump was elevated, getting in the way of gravity draining the hose. As I lifted the hose, the connector broke off and we dumped half the black water tank in the parking lot. Luckily, I was away from the tank and the lot sloped the other way. By holding the hose in place, Leo and I were able to get the rest of the tanks drained and then we got out of there fast, after firing up the generator and turning on the roof A/C to get the Seafoam through that system.

Blondy called just as we were getting of at Exit 97 to Centreville to say she was only a half hour behind us. I parked in a truck lot at a Jack's Restaurant to wait for her to catch up. We packed more gear and I conditioned the holding tanks for storage while waiting. Blondy soon arrived and we set out for Centreville.
Blondy's home, we got the RV situated under the roof where her step-father's 5th wheel used to reside. Then we unhooked the bike trailer and pushed it under another part of the roof. I went through my checklist as we got the RV ready to sleep. Good thing I had a list.

I opened the valve and drained the fresh water tank. Shut off the fridge and LP valve. Opened and blocked the fridge door. Made sure the roof  vents were open. Then we drove the unit up onto the plastic leveling blocks to get the tires off the ground, covered the wheels (not an easy process because I had to get underneath to run the cords behind the tires) and connected the battery tender. It was at this point that Sandy found the side door wouldn't close due to a post that came into play when I moved up on the leveling blocks. Off came the wheel covers, Leo repositioned the blocks and I moved back a foot. It was then that Sandy suggested the awning hook might help with the cords for the wheel covers. Covered in red Alabama dirt, it seemed like a good idea to me. Finally, I disconnected the power lead to the converter and we set two jugs of Damp-Rid in the home to collect excess moisture.

Yours truly meets red Alabama dirt while covering wheels
(Photo by Blondy)

The RV's winter resting spot 

Blondy drove us to an Olive Garden where we shared a fine supper and swapped stories. Then she took us back to the hotel where we confirmed a 5:00 AM Central Time wake up call and our 5:30 AM shuttle to the airport. We watched TV and read for a bit before falling soundly asleep.

Today's Route (234 miles):

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Augusta Georgia to Scottsboro Alabama

It was 7:15 AM when we pulled out of Augusta and caught I-20 towards Atlanta. I picked the pace up to 60 MPH. As Wrong Turn said, sometimes getting there sooner is more important than saving on fuel.

We stopped about 30 miles out at a McDonald's in Thomson Georgia for breakfast and a WiFi fix. I posted two days of blogs that I wrote last night. It took a while because of all the photos I needed to upload.

Before leaving Thomson, we stopped a a Raceway for fuel. To pay at the pump, it asked for a Zip Code so I sent Leo in with my card. Unfortunately, my first attempt hung the pump up and it wouldn't release until I gave it a bogus Zip. The mileage was 8.3 US (10.0 Cdn), poor for 55 MPH. I think the stop and go driving along the coast chewed up a lot of gas. The girl at the counter's parents live in Brampton. Small world (skip the song).

Further on, we stopped at a Pilot/Denny's with free WiFi because I forgot to check my drivers for the NASCAR pool. After looking at the qualifying, I stuck with the four I had already picked.

Coloured leaves along I-20

We did note that on I-20 to Atlanta and I-75 north of there had nothing in the way of Rest Areas. That was unusual. We stopped eventually and went a few miles to a brand new and totally deserted Tourist Info place. They had one unlocked bathroom which got used. Leo and I noticed fluid dripping from under the right front suspension area. Close testing determined it was water, probably dripping from the A/C.

Now that we were off I-75, I opted not to go up to Chattanooga and back down via Interstate. Instead, I started cross country. Shorter distance, same estimated time.

We stopped near Rome, Georgia for a Subway lunch, which we ate on the go. Then we crossed into Alabama. I can tell you Alabama 35 sucks. It looks like nice smooth road but is quite rough. I remember the first day out, we searched for all the rattles. Now, on Day 7, we don't notice them unless a new sound crops up.

The big hill down into Fort Payne was interesting.  Thinking of Chapin's 30,000 Pounds of Bananas, I shifted to a lower gear at the top. Good thing because, several miles later, the hill terminated with a 15 MPH corner. Failure to negotiate the turn would result in a collision with a substantial looking stone wall.

Fort Payne Alabama

Then we continued west across Alabama 35.  As we approached Scottsboro, we again descended a substantial hill down to Lake Guntersville.

Looking down from the big hill to Scottsboro

Downgrade into Scottsboro and nuclear power plant

Lake Guntersville

Clouds over Lake Guntersville

Reaching Scottsboro, we went to CW's Pitstop, Carwash and Laundry. The RV wouldn't fit in the carwash but we did laundry so the clothes we'll be leaving down here are clean. One load of washing and three ten minute cycles in the dryer only cost $2.25. Then we headed to the WalMart Supercenter and parked. It seems that the trucks in Alabama shut down when they stop. Maybe (hopefully) they have a law like Pennsylvania because trucks idling all night are a pain in the ass.

I briefly hit someone's marginally unsecured Linksys router, enough to see that Joey Logano finished 39th, but lost the signal before I found how I did overall or who won the Sprint Cup Championship. I think I may explore the possibility of getting a US Air Card for wireless Internet for our further travels.

We walked a few feet and bought Papa John's pizzas. Strangely, because it was an NFL game day, a large three topping cost less than a small three topping.

Full moon over WalMart

We're now in the Central Time Zone and the Unclaimed Baggage shop is nearby, so it will be a slow morning. Then we need to haul 169 miles to Donna's, stopping at a Flying J on the way to dump the holding tanks. After securing the RV and bike, it will be back to the hotel in Birmingham before we sleep again.

I did notice that some of the caulk behind the front passenger door has a small crack in it. The driver's side was recaulked before we picked up the unit and is holding. Maintenance and more maintenance, it looks like. I have a lot to learn but we're having fun.

Today's Route (290 miles):

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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Mt. Pleasant South Carolina to Augusta Georgia

We woke to another beautiful South Carolina morning. While the others were getting up, I took the tools to the bike and removed the broken crash bar and associated trim. The fix will take two bolts and some time with a drill and easy-out to get the broken bolt ends out. The bike can be ridden in its current state but if it fell over on the left side, even stopped, it could be nasty.

When I was done, Leo and I half filled the grey tank for flushing and then I washed the black tank by passing the hose in through the window and sticking the wand (which emits a pulsating spray out sideways) into the toilet. We rinsed until the clear plastic coupling showed clean water and then we pulled the grey valve to rinse out the sewer hose. Lastly, we hooked the water hose to the RV and half filled to grey tank (which we don't use much right now) for the final dump at the Flying J south of Birmingham on Monday. We must have done something because the black water gauge was working better.

Before we left, I spoke with a gentleman from Valleyfield Quebec running a large Dutch Star pusher towing a 1978 MGB convertible. His English was better than my French and I found out he would be spending a month in Florida before flying back to Montreal for the skiing season.

I googled some Charleston information and they suggested there was ample parking at the Visitor Center downtown. We headed down Highway 17 and over the impressive Arthur Ravenel Jr Bridge into downtown Charleston. From the bridge, we saw a Carnival Cruise ship at dock. Apparently, their cruises are now departing from Charleston.

Carnival cruise ship

Arthur Ravenel Jr Bridge - Charleston SC

There may be ample parking at the Visitor Center if you are driving a car but no way a motorhome could find a spot. Sandy did get a picture of the H.L. Hunley, the Civil War submarine that sank the Housatonic in Charleston harbor before going to the bottom itself. The wreck was found in 1995 and raised in 2000.

Full scale model of the the submarine H.L. Hunley

Not finding any parking spaces, we headed back across the Ravenel Bridge to Patriot Point. We did see that the bridge is pedestrian friendly, even having a centre line on the walkway. Many people seemed to be using it.  Arriving at Patriot Point across the harbor from Charleston, we found an RV/Bus parking lot. The spots were back-in but I managed to get the job done. We had a bite to eat at the snack bar before checking out the tours.

Ravenel Bridge from Patriot Point

Our choice today, due to limited time, was between a boat ride to Fort Sumter (the site of the first shots fired in the Civil War (or war of Northern Aggression for my southern friends) or a tour of the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown CV10. We chose the Yorktown. Yorktown was commissioned in 1943 and named for the earlier Yorktown lost at the battle of Midway. It was decommissioned in 1970 and, during its long career, it saw service in Viet Nam and recovered the Apollo 8 capsule in 1968.

Walkway to the USS Yorktown

Before we got to the Yorktown, Leo and I got sidetracked by the USS Clamagore SS-343, an 1,800 ton BALAO class submarine of World War II vintage. We took a walk through while the ladies waited on the dock. On board, we found Sid, a retired submariner who started out on the USS Shark, sister ship to the ill-fated USS Scorpion that was lost under mysterious circumstances in 1968. People with claustrophobia should avoid this tour.

Leo in the forward torpedo room of USS Clamagore

USS Clamagore sonar operator

On board the Yorktown, we were given tour advice by volunteer and veteran Chip. He suggested how we could get the most out of our visit.  We started on the hangar deck and first took a five minute simulator ride. It took us on a mission from a carrier during Desert Storm.

Navy Flight Simulator

Then we walked the hangar deck. One end had many World War II aircraft on display. At the end were the extremes, a Wright Flyer and a Mercury and Apollo capsule. At the other end was a snack bar populated with Boy Scouts who will be sleeping on board the carrier tonight.

Hangar deck

Wright Flyer and space capsules

B-25 Mitchell hanging over Boy Scouts

From the hangar deck, we took self-guided Tour 1 (out of 6) that went below decks to see the berths, mess, repair shops and infirmary.

Me in front of berths

Wash area

Mark 44 torpedo

Soryu, one of the carriers that attacked Pearl Harbor

Back on the hangar deck, on Chip's advise, we took Tour 3 up to the flight deck and on to the bridge. Lots of narrow stairs. On the flight deck, there were many more modern aircraft from Viet Nam forward.

Sandy and Leo on the flight deck

F-14 Tomcat (Top Gun)

Sea King helicopter (the US can keep them flying)

F8 Crusader for Slammer

Does anyone know what this aircraft is?

Sandy in the pilots' ready room

We finished the tour about 1:15 and left, planning to be in Scottsboro Alabama tomorrow night so we can check out the Unclaimed Baggage Center on Monday morning. We crossed the Ravenel Bridge for the 3rd time and caught I-26 (aka the Palmetto Prideway) towards Columbia. In Orangeburg, we stopped at a Cracker Barrel that had RV parking spots. Otis served us. I had a bowl of very substantial beef noodle soup and a country ham sandwich that was delicious. Sandy had beef stew that was thinner than my soup. Otis forgot our coleslaw but we didn't need it anyway.

Back on the road, I-26 got quite rough until mile marker 37, when it became as smooth as silk. I spent my driving time making voice notes about the checklist I need to follow to put the motorhome to bed on Monday.

The sun goes down here about 5:40 PM. That's almost 3/4's of an hour later than West Virginia. As an added bonus, the sky was red so tomorrow should be a nice day.

We reached Augusta, Georgia, home of The Masters Golf Tournament and found the WalMart on Bobby Jones Expressway. The young lady in customer service said we could park here but steered us to a quiet part of the lot. Apparently the young Fast and Furious crowd likes to hang out at the front of the lot. The embedded McDonlad's was supposed to have WiFi but they thought it wasn't working.

Leo and I found a mascot lying in the parking lot. We'll have to find somewhere to mount him.

Sandy and our new mascot

We fired up the generator and had spring rolls and a honey bun each for supper. I got a lot of blog work done while we watched the security guard in his SUV with orange flashing light chase kids out of the lot. Then it was off to bed.

Today's Route (199 miles):

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Myrtle Beach South Carolina to Mt. Pleasant South Carolina

Word from home this morning said the it was -8C with snow flurries. It was much better here and I was in shirtsleeves as we did our morning chores.

First we dealt with the tire pressure monitors. I got out the compressor and the booster cables for power. Then we pulled the monitors from the valve stems one by one, checked them with my two tire pressure gauges, recorded the reading, reinstalled the monitor and recorded the reading on the system. First, all tires were good by the gauges so I got all the compressor hardware out for nothing. Second, all the monitors appear to read about five PSI high except one, which was pretty close. Now I have a conversion table so I know whether all is well when I check each morning but this should not have been necessary since the monitors were supposed to read within 2.7%.

Next, we tackled the holding tanks. Since the grey water tank was virtually empty, we filled it from the city water by turning on the taps in the kitchen and bathroom. To our horror, we found out the bathroom sink drains into the blackwater tank. We found out because it overflowed. The ladies cleaned up while Leo and I emptied the tanks. That part was easy.

Last, we hooked up the trailer and got ready to head for Savannah, Georgia. After taking a few moments talking to a 74 year old gentleman from Virginia Beach who is getting ready to sell his luxurious 38' pusher. Then we hit the road about 9:30.

Diane had read all the information on the area and, not far south of Myrtle Beach, we came to Brookgreen Gardens. She was interested in the butterfly house they had so we turned in. After a miscue in the parking lot, where I turned into the wrong section, we got parked and headed for the Welcome Center.

Parked at Brookgreen Gardens

We were disappointed to find out the butterfly house closed for the season on October first but there were many other things to see. Granted it was chilly and I was the only one not wearing a jacket or sweater. First, we viewed a short movie on the history of the area an the Gardens. It told how Archer Huntington (who inherited his wealth) bought several defunct plantations and built the gardens to display his wife's prolific sculptures. The designed the gardens to accentuate her works and others acquired from around the world. No abstracts, however.

Here's to you, Mrs. Robinson.....

We went to the Diana Pool to meet our guide, Jerry, a volunteer who would share his knowledge of the gardens. He was proud to tell us that if we asked a question he did not know the answer to, he would lie.

The Diana Pool

Our tour group

Live oaks and Spanish moss - the leaves don't look familiar at all

The Muses

Guide Jerry and Pegasus

Another huntress appears to be shooting Pegasus


Pretty naked girl (lots of nude sculptures here)


Bears and Boars cast in aluminum

The End of the Trail (for Sherm)

Leo stops for the raising of the flag

In addition to the live oaks, there were long leaf pines, palmettos, magnolias and many other threes and plants. There is no way we could fully appreciate this in the time available.

When the tour was done and the others browsed the gift shop, I spent time talking to Jerry. He retired in 1997 from the steel industry. His last position was president of a 1,000 employee facility that made steel wire, particularly springs. If you have a Sealey mattress, his company made the coils. They also made nails and other products. As usual, I got into a talk about Statistical Process Control and quality improvement.

The next stop was to catch the tram and head over to the zoo, where Dale (an escapee from Minnesota) was getting ready to feed the animals. The first were domestic breeds that represented historic animals of the region. Marsh tacky horses[link], red Devon cows, Tunis sheep and a particular spotted chicken were the same breeds that were raised here back when Francis Marion (The Swamp Fox) fought the British during the American Revolution.

Spotted chickens (I forget the name of the breed)

Then he fed some wild critters including a large group of egrets and cranes and grey and red foxes. He gave the river otters hard boiled eggs which had been cut in half. The more discriminating otters peeled the shells off but one ate the shell and all. The alligators were going into their winter torpor state and had stopped eating, but Leo managed to see the 11 footer lying well camouflaged on the shore.

Feeding the birds

Black crowned night heron


River otter

River otter peeling a hard boiled egg

The only alligator I saw

Lucky the red fox

Bald eagle

Fox squirrel (not part of the zoo collection)

Casting of wolf family

Animals fed, we took the tram back to the Welcome Center and headed for the Pavilion Restaurant for lunch. I had some Angus chili and a ham and cheese sandwich on a hoagie with home made potato chips. Lara served us well and the food was good.

We finally got away from the grounds at 3:00 PM. I broke the news to the crew that we would not make it to Savannah today and called a KOA in Mt. Pleasant (just outside Charleston)to make a reservation.

On the side of Highway 17, I saw a sign advertising Gullah cuisine. I'm aware of the Gullah culture and language but hadn't considered that they had their own cuisine. But I guess if the Cajuns can, so can the Gullah.

Reaching Mt. Pleasant, we stopped at Wally World for water and something for Leo's scratchy throat. Then we pulled into the KOA

I checked the trailer and found that my idea to tie the bike down by the rear crash bars wasn't a good one. I knew that before I did it, but went ahead anyway. A bump somewhere sheared off the bolts holding on the left rear crash bar. The bolts won't be expensive but drilling (hopefully) using the easy-out on the broken bolts will be tricky. Dumb-ass me.

The ladies suggested that we get a room near the Birmingham Airport on Monday night after we bed the RV and trailer down in Centreville. This was proposed because we have to be at the airport by 6:00 AM. Then Diane searched the Internet long and hard to find a hotel with shuttle service this early in the morning. Just after she was finally successful, Blondy (who I had notified of the change of plans earlier by Email) called with the perfect location. Unfortunately, we were already committed to Plan A.

We had a supper of leftovers from the various meals over the last couple of days and, in relative comfort, turned in for the night.

Today's Route (88 miles):

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