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October 2012:


October 8, 2012:                    [Odometer: 263063]   Another 1000 miles clicks over on the odometer as Fall comes marching in. It got cold enough last night that I finally had to turn the furnace on and left it on all day today. We have been spending much of our time on medical missions these past two weeks since Julie hurt her leg. Last Monday, October 1st, we went to an Orthopaedic Surgeon to check out the problems Julie has been having with her right arm since February. He diagnosed it as something known as "Frozen Shoulder." She started physical therapy for it last Friday and will be going three times this week. The idea is to help her understand how to do the exercises by herself once we hit the road next Monday.


Last Wednesday we drove to see our primary doctor in Clifton Springs because Julie's leg was collecting fluid in different places. Turns out this was not abnormal, it just needed some place to go which Mary (our doctor) took care of. She also said everything was looking good. We will go back this Wednesday to get the stitches out. Hopefully, there will be no problems to interfere with our traveling.


When we started traveling, our idea was to see more of the US as we traveled from North to South and South to North. For various reasons, we have not been able to do this last Fall or this Spring. We will also be driving straight down to Alabama next week. There is not much reason to sight see when Julie can't walk enough to do the sight seeing. To give us a chance to do more traveling next summer, we have decided we will not be staying in one location for the entire season next year, which means we will not be returning here. Of course, as with all our plans, everything is subject to change. That is one of the joys of this lifestyle, no real time constraints.


We have been busy since last weekend burning up our big pile of firewood that we will not be here to use next year. Besides, it's cold enough that a fire burns really good.


October 9, 2012:                    We took a final trip to the storage unit today and then did a little driving around to look at the fall colors. Much of the colors are past their peak due the two nights of heavy frost we recently had, but, even though the group colors are not as bright as they were, there are still many unique trees out there.






On our way home, we passed our favorite herd of cows and were treated to two of nature's miracles. The first was a newborn calf, which was less than three hours old. We know this because it was not present when we went up to the storage unit but was there when we returned. The second was the herd protecting its new young when I stopped to photograph the calf.


This calf is not even standing yet, it is that new. My three hour time line is a maximum based on our observances, but I really feel it is more like an hour or less based on the fact its fur is still wet.


As soon as I got out of the truck to take pictures, the entire herd, which had been gathered near the barn, started toward me, bellowing loudly as they came. Even other small calves who were already part of the herd came along, although they do not show up well in this photo. Note the one cow on the right of the photo facing the other direction. This is the mother who had been walking away from the calf toward the herd.


Mama has gone back to protect her calf and the balance of the herd is positioning itself between me and the calf.


Mama has nudged the calf getting it to stand up and is urging it toward the herd. Before long, it was impossible to see the calf as it was totally encompassed by the protecting herd. Natural protective instincts in animals is wonderful!


October 10, 2012:                  Julie had a doctor's appointment today to have her stitches out in her leg after she had her physical therapy for her arm. As a result we traveled a different route than normal to get to the doctor's office. On the way, we passed this unique windmill.


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October 15, 2012:                  [Odometer: 263291]   Our plans for today were to drive to Camping World in Churchville, NY, get the trailer inspected (NY State requires all vehicles to be inspected every year), and then get on the road to Alabama. I had originally wanted to get the bearings packed also, but when they told me it would cost $229 dollars, I cancelled that.


Then, continuing the week that life took the opportunity to kick us in the butt. The trailer failed the inspection due to a warped frame. We took the trailer to Hawk Frame in Fairport, NY They were not going to be able to get the trailer into the shop until Wednesday as it had to be put into a special "frame cage" and their two frames were already in use.. We didn't dare try to continue pulling the trailer the way it was, so we left the trailer there.


We checked around for motels (not covered by our insurance because we were within 50 miles of our home address) and found prices everywhere from $69 per night plus $10 per night for each dog to $129 per night plus $25 per night for each dog. Fortunately, Julie has a sister in the AAA travel business who got us into a Motel 6 for only $42.50 per night plus $10 for both dogs with a limit of $50 over the length of the stay for the dogs. We made reservations for a week.


We requested one queen-size bed in a ground floor non-smoking room when we made the reservation. We got a single bed, but it was only a full-size (I measured to make sure). We complained to the girl at the desk and were told that she did not know about numbers (a full is 54" wide, a queen is 60"), but this was what they called a queen-size bed and they did not have any two bed rooms on the first floor. We made the best of the situation, but nobody slept well that night.


The next morning, I talked with a different girl on the desk plus the manager and told them this was not going to work. They were both very accommodating and I had my choice of a real queen-size bed or a two bed room, both non-smoking on the first floor. Since it was a Monday night when we checked in, and I found out this weekend that Mondays are not all that busy, we figured the first girl just did not want to go to the effort of changing our room.


For the rest of the week, we were in a two-bed room, which even had a small fridge and microwave, which the first room did not have. The only problem was a distinct lack of housekeeping service and a temperamental toilet. The good news was, we had a tub large enough for me and I was able to take a nice soaking bath every night, a treat I have missed since April of 2008.


The motel was near the glide path for Rochester Airport. Usually it was the runway for landing planes, but one morning I saw two take off. Surprisingly, there was no apparent noise from the planes when we were in our room.


Saturday morning, the dogs and I flushed two deer. The front deer was large and, therefore, I assume the mother. I only caught a glimpse of the second deer but it appeared much smaller.


Our trailer in the Frame Cage.


October 22, 2012:                  [Odometer: 263508]   We picked up the trailer today and then took it to Camping World to get it re-inspected. I thought they could just look at the frame repair since that was all originally wrong and then give me the inspection sticker. WRONG!!!! First I was told by the idiot service representative that he could get me in next Monday. I told him I would be in Alabama next Monday, thanked him for nothing, and turned to leave. He then said he would check in the shop to see if they could fit me in. I said I did not understand the problem as all they had to do was look at the frame and give me the inspection sticker. He said it did not work that way and that the trailer had to be taken in and re-inspected and that I would have to wait an hour or so. Figuring, at least this way it would get inspected, I decided to wait. After 80 minutes, a mechanic (not the idiot) came out and handed me the inspection sticker, the bill, and my key. The truck and trailer had never moved and no one had looked at the trailer.


For the record, Camping World has decent prices on items you might need for camping, as long as you have a President's Club card to offset their inflated prices, but I would strongly recommend against ever buying a trailer from them or having any service work, including NYS Inspections done there. Besides ridiculous hourly service rates, I can't recommend their attitudes. Yes, I am speaking about one individual, but management keeps him there in a position where he works incompetently and annoyingly with the public. And, this is not the first problem I have encountered with them.


Our other expensive problem was in the line of communications that started at me and ended with the mechanic at Hawk Frame. They kept the trailer power cord plugged in, but never turned on the refrigerator. He was told to use the Auto Off Gas switch, so he did. He set it to the middle of the switch, unfortunately labeled OFF.


Having completed another long, but frustrating, day, we called Skip and Lillian at Timberline Lake Park where we had stayed for the summer. They let us come in and crash for the night and even turned on the electrical supply to the site. They also let us dump all our food from the refrigerator and freezer in their dumpster.


October 23, 2012:                  [Odometer: 263543]   Time to try again. Looks like we'll be driving in the rain today and maybe tomorrow. We lost our good travel week sitting in a motel room. What more surprises are in store?


It wasn't long after I wrote that line this morning that I got an answer. The overnight rain had made the ground so soft, the truck would not pull the trailer out, even in four-wheel drive. (Thinking about this later, I wonder if the weight of the trailer pushing down on the back of the truck keeps too much weight off the front tires, causing them to lose their effectiveness?) Luckily for us, Skip got home from his bus route while I was still trying to get out. He hooked a chain from his backhoe to the Suburban and gave us the extra traction we needed. Thanks again Lillian and Skip for everything you did for us.


We filled up with gas in LeRoy and headed south in the rain. The trip wasn't too bad other than one little adventure on an extremely steep hill (about a 30%-40% grade) sliding down the wet surface with my brakes mostly locked trying to slow down from 45 mph to 35 mph. Who puts a 35 mph zone at the bottom of a steep hill with a 55 mph zone at the top? I finally got it under control without hitting anyone and slowed it down to 20 mph, I didn't trust 35 mph on that hill after that fun. What is it with us and hills?


We are now stopped for the night at a Flying J truck stop in Austinburg, Ohio. We covered 239 miles today , which was plenty in the rain. (The sun came out after we hit Ohio.) Also, Julie can only stand so much traveling because her leg is down the entire time. Right now she is in bed resting.


A note to all you price watchers, As soon as we crossed the Pennsylvania line, gas prices dropped $0.40 below New York prices. When we crossed into Ohio, they dropped another $0.20


October 24, 2012:                  [Odometer 263782]    Traveling today was fairly good. We had sunshine all the way except for a few sprinkles of rain in the morning. We made it past Columbus before rush hour and then spent the night in another Flying J Truck stop in Jefferson, Ohio. We covered 242 miles today and I did not want to push on further because we would have caught Cincinnati rush hour traffic. I have also found that 250 miles a day is about long enough for Julie's leg to be down and me to be fighting traffic. At this rate, we will make Alabama on Saturday, although Julie is predicting Friday.


October 25, 2012:                  [Odometer: 264024]  We woke up this morning to find ourselves surrounded by trucks. Apparently there are a lot more trucks here than there are parking spaces in the back. It was a bit more noisy than other Flying J's, but we were okay until someone decided to keep blowing his air horn at 7:30 this morning.


[Odometer: 264220]Our mechanical problems followed us again. We stopped for gas in the afternoon intending to gas up and then go about half a mile in the other direction and stop at a Cracker Barrel for a late lunch. As I was pumping the gas, I looked over to see steam coming out from under the hood. There was no place to park at the Pilot truck stop we had stopped at, so we took a chance and drove over to the Cracker Barrel restaurant parking lot where we called AAA. It took several hours to find a rig big enough, but they finally got a tow truck to us. The Suburban went on the flat bed of the truck and they towed the trailer behind. I was really jealous of his hookup to the trailer. Instead of having to jocky the whole truck, he just used the hydraulic ontrols on his tow bar in back and aligned it to the trailer and then picked up the hitch. That would save me hours in hooking up and unhooking.


The shop where this driver worked would not have been able to take care of the radiator until next Monday, so he called DJ Auto where he used to work and they had us come there. We got there just before closing and DJ was able to determine that we needed a new radiator rather than just a fitting and was able to order it for delivery first thing the next morning. He had the trailer moved to the back of his shop and that is where we spent the night.


Where the Suburban spent the night.


Where we spent the night.


The machine parked next to us on the trailer is used for clearing bruch and tree limbs cross country along power lines. It is really noisy when it is unloaded from its trailer at 7:00 am. Of course, by then we were sort of used to the sleep interruptions. The railroad track was just across the road from the repair shop and we counted at least 7 freight trains that went by in the night, each trying to out do the others sounding their air horns.


October 26, 2012:                  [Odometer: 264220]  Same odometer reading as last night, but we are actually 27 miles further down the road. We were towed from exit 121 to exit 94. Of course, with the sideways travel of 6 miles and running the engine to test the new radiator, we didn't gain much in terms of gas mileage.


October 27, 2012:                  [Odometer: 264318]   A short travel day yesterday. We wake this morning in a new time zone, Central Time. We will take at least two more days to get to where we will be camping in Alabama, although we will actually cross into the state and end up near Birmingham today. With Hurricane Sandy swinging up the coast, we want to stay inland until it has swept past to the North. No need tempting fates in case the storm decides to head in sooner.


Some smarter engineer than I is going to have to explain to me how changing radiators improves engine performance and gas mileage, but this new radiator has certainly had that effect. We took the hills much more easily than earlier in this trip and had a net gain in gas mileage of almost 25%. The fact that gas is $0.80 less per gallon than in New York state doesn't hurt either.


October 28, 2012:                  [Odometer 264548-264815]   Today was a good day on the road. We arrived at Azalea Acres RV Park about 3:00 in the afternoon. It feels good to have landed and to be done with the trip. We are seriously considering ending our mobile lifestyle at the end of this winter.


I am going to close out this chapter of our blog even though it is only one month long. With Julie's leg still mending, we will probably not be doing much beyond staying near the campground for the next few weeks. However, if something interesting happens and we get some good photos, I will start the next chapter.