Thursday, October 4, 2012

Home at last

After spending a weekend with my parents in NY we finally drove home to Malden today.  The drive was uneventful, the only slight snag was we hoped to dump the tanks in CT at a rest area with a dump but it was closed.  We had a second option for a Cabelas on 84 but the cut off around Hartford on 91 meant we missed the exit. It wasn't important but we hoped to dump once here and then again before the trailer goes back to storage.  We will just have to do a good job with one dump, which is easier now that our flush system has been repaired!

Amazingly it was a cinch to back into the driveway, I guess 4 months of practice backing up the trailer really helps.

Oddly it doesn't feel strange to be home, it just feels like being home.

The trailer covered some 12,500 miles on the trip which is a lot!  I don't even want to think about how much money we spent on gas. We spent 130 nights on the road all of which we spent in the trailer.  I should put together some stats for the trip from my spreadsheet and records.

I would totally take another long trailer trip although I think a little less driving would be better but you know you can't make Alaska any closer.

We've got a lot of cleaning out of the trailer to do and winterizing to do!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Maker Faire Queens NY

For once our timing is pretty good and we are in NY at my parents the same weekend as the NYC Maker Faire.

It is a big dorky geeky fair of people who make things and tinker and anything along those lines.

Checkout the work that went into these toothpick sculptures.
Projects range from art, nature and science to the bizarre.

We managed to get there pretty early which was a good thing because people are showing up like crazy and it quickly gets crowded.
This was a cool thing where the giant wheel was model and when it rotated you saw a journey through the woods on the tv recorded by a camera. It was powered by the bicycle and other than being cool really had no purpose.

There was an entire tent full of 3D printers which can basically make something out of ABS plastic once you download or create the file for the design.

It was a little repetitive here as each one had basically all printed out the same 3 or 4 example pieces although it was cool to see the machines printing things layer by layer.
 This was a wire bending robot. Once programmed it sucked in a wire and bent it into sculptures all without any human intervention.

There were also a lot of CNC machines which could cut elaborate things out of wood or plastic to make things.

You could also buy a lot of good electronics and sensors and components for making things like robots or whatever you might think of.
All during the day there were various shows going on as well. We watched this one which was a giant size version of the kids game Mousetrap. With one difference at then end instead of capturing a mouse it dropped a giant weight and smashed a car.

There was also a giant mentos and coke demonstration which we didn't stay for.
This guy was flying a quad-copter which is a pretty cool flying machine that people have built using 4 rotors and a tiny computer to control the motors so it can be flown around by a simple remote control.

It was a fun show, I am inspired to come up with some kind of project to build.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Lets try another.

It was way too far from Fallingwater to my parents house so we had to find a place to stay in between.

There was another gay campground pretty much in the right spot so we decided to check it out.

It was much bigger than the last one and seemed like it was going to be busy for the weekend. We were probably lucky to have pulled in on a thursday in order to get a site. We setup in the "Oops" site as they call it which is kind of a seasonal that they never fill in case of overbooking issues.

The facilities are nice with a great pool, 2 sand volleyball courts and 2 hot tubs and a cafe. They have a lot of seasonal and they really do up their campsites. Most of the seasonal have huge decks and or outdoor patio rooms and landscaping and fish ponds.  They are like little neighborhoods.

The camp also has a little lake with a dock and some boats.  Like last time the weather isn't really that great but we sat out by the pool and read for a while and enjoyed the hot tub.  I did actually go in the pool which was slightly heated but I went straight back into the hot tub to warm up.

Come friday a lot of campers showed up in addition to all the perms. There was a pretty fun party with free beer since they don't have a liquor license. You could leave a donation which would fun the next weeks party.  We toyed with staying for all of saturdays fun which starts at 3pm but we were too tired and instead got on the road for my parents. The driving through eastern PA and NJ NY isn't the easiest but it all went smoothly and we got to my parents in no time, it was only about 130 miles or so.

All in all "The Woods" Campground seems like it would be worth coming back to for a week sometime. Lots of fun people and plenty to do in the Poconos area.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


With our late start yesterday we drove to a Walmart that was as close as possible to Fallingwater a Frank Lloyd Wright house in PA.

We took the trail there in the morning and had tickets for a 10:30 tour.  The house is really cool, it was one of his final houses built for a rich department store tycoon.

The house is built over a set of waterfalls and reflect the structure of the waterfall all through its architecture.

What I always like about these houses is how they feel like a home and grand without being gigantic monstrosities.

I love the fact that there is almost as much if not more outdoor patio space than there is indoor space.

Sadly you can't take pictures inside. Our tour guide is from the area and she is great. She has a lot of enthusiasm for the house and knows her stuff.

Much of the furniture inside was build by FLW himself. Although he only visited the project a few times during it's construction. The furniture mimics the house a lot with cantilevers and open spaces.

If you are ever in the area you should checkout the tour.

Since this is an on the road stop we have a quick lunch at the cafe and get back on the road. We are getting very close to home and frankly that is hard to believe.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

One more day to kill and repairs.

With one more day to kill before repairs we jumped int he car and went down to Columbus OH.

The city is amazing clean and pretty, we got there just in time for some lunch and had Buffalo burgers which were delicious.

After that we basically walked all around the city for 3 hours.  It was good to get a lot of walking in as we haven't been hiking or getting much exercise on the way home.

Finally it was repair day! They make it pretty easy you wake up early at at 7 AM they tow your trailer into the service bay. After spending 20 minutes talking through all the issues with the technician he gets to work!  The factory waiting room is really nice with working WiFi and other interesting Airstream owners also getting work done.

There is one very loud and obnoxious lawyer who doesn't stop talking to take a breath. We manage to avoid talking to him which is nothing short of a miracle.  At lunchtime we realize we didn't pull our any food for today so we walk to the ONE place to eat in Jackson Center a Subway. We could have eaten at the gas station too but we had a donut from there for breakfast.

After lunch we took the Factory tour which was awesome. A trailer takes 9 days to build and we get to walk through the whole factory. You get to see all the machines and even get in trailers while people are building them. Very cool to see the innards of the beast.  As factory tours go it is better than most because you get so hands on with process instead of being behind glass walls or something like that.

After the tour we spend some more time in the waiting room and out technician comes out and sadly he didn't finish everything up. So we have one more day in OH.  Our trailer is towed back to our campsite and we relax for the evening and in the morning repeat the process.  Except today we drive to a Bob Evans for breakfast and I get biscuits and gravy, YUM!.

By the afternoon our trailer is done! Yahoo! We had to wait till 1:30 to complete the paper work but with that done we are free to keep moving.  The girl behind the counter asks if we are heading out today and I say yes we are eager to get moving. She makes a joke that we look like we could drive after 3pm unlike most of the other customers. She is probably right.

Back on the road by 2 we are heading for a Walmart somewhere in western PA.. Wahoo!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A few days to kill.

We had some time to kill so we drove out to western PA to checkout a gay campground there.

It wasn't the best weather but we enjoyed the swimming pool a bit and meeting all the seasonal campers.

They had a nice rec-room with a pool table and also had a musician in one night for entertainment.

And a big bonfire too.  I am sure when the weather is nicer this place is crowded and even more fun. The property is pretty nice basically in the middle of now where. On a walk around the property I saw rabbits, a beaver, and a couple of deer.

We also took a drive into Pittsburgh to visit my friend Amy from college and her family. It was their son's first birthday party.

Overall a fun way to kill a few days before our appointment.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Airforce Museum at Write Patterson AFB

This museum is HUGE, you wouldn't expect it but it blows the Air and Space Museum in DC out of the water.

It was about a hours drive from the Airstream factory but totally worth it.

If you go you want to get there early, as one part of the museum shown he is on the active base and takes a little scheduled bus ride to see.
These several hangers on base are filled with presidential planes and R & D experimental planes.

They are a bit crowded and hard to photograph but I guess they had to move a lot of planes indoors because they were deteriorating too much outside.
X-29 Forward swept wing design, as I kid I loved this plane when I read about it in Popular Science Magazine.
This was a test version of the now no longer secret military space plane that spends a lot of time in space doing secret things.

 You can see her how super packed in all the planes are. As you walk around you have to be careful not to bang your head on things.
All the air wings have cute cartoon patches, this one was the best with a bear tossing some kind of bomb.
The main museum is another 6 or 8 huge hangers. Covering the history of the Air Force all the way to space travel and ICBMs.

They also have big sections devoted to each war or conflict throughout history. There is actually too nuch to see/read everything in one day.

I didn't get good pictures but I loved displayed of things that POW's built while captured. Amazing fake guns, tools and bellows to heat up their stoves to work metal into other things.

This sunburn cream was made in Spring Valley NY right near where I grew up.

We spent all day at the museum all that standing was exhausting so we just relaxed in the trailer for the night.

There are still several days we need to kill before our service appointment.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Jackson Center OH

There is nothing in Jackson Center OH except the factory and a gas station. I mean it, it is practically a ghost town.

We drove out to the Armstrong Air and Space Museum nearby. It is a cool looking building, but the museum is a bit sad and in need of some updates.
I did learn a bunch of interesting stuff about the moon shots and it later helped me while watching Jeopardy the next night when the final answer was about the moon-buggy.

Here is a really old Airstream Trailer.
We are camping at the factory in what the call the TerraPort, it is a nice place to hangout actually and is basically free if you are having service done.

Here is a view inside a trailer that is being completely gutted and re-built.

Our service appointment is now next week so we have some time to kill.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Chicago to Jackson Center OH

Here is a pictures of us hitched up and ready to get back on the road from Chicago to Jackson Center, OH for the Airstream Factory.  You can see some of the trucks parked near by.

I would highly recommend the Marshaling yard camping thing. It sounded a bit odd at first and some people online seemed worried Chicago was too dangerous but it was perfectly fine. They patrol the yard constantly and the whole thing is gated off as well.

We don't have an appointment unfortunately so I expect we are going to be stuck there for a while.  Hopefully they can fix all the little things that have shaken loose over the last few months.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Full day in Chicago

This morning the weather is great, I am feeling a bit under the weather but we head out to do some sight-seeing.

We started out at the Museum of Science and Industry.  It is a big museum and I am glad we are here while it is dead. I can see this place being crowded and a zoo.
They have a lot of cool and even working exhibits, usually I find most science museums are 1/2 broken.

This train set is awesome it has several different tracks and areas. The Chicago City area is really cool.

You could control the speed of this thing rotating, at different speeds the sand mixture behaves like a solid or a fluid or a transitional state.  At another station you can actually record videos of it and watch them in slow-mo, pretty cool stuff.
After the museum we headed north to see my friend Dan and his girlfriend.

He's been in Chicago for a few years and probably is leaving this winter so it is good we are here to see him now.

The neighborhood he lives in is having a huge street fair which we checkout. This kid is some world champion "slack liner", a sport I have never heard of or seen before.  He's 15 I think although I thought he was more like 10 from his height and size.

It was great to hangout with Dan and meet his girlfriend, they will likely be living in South America somewhere by the winter. But we might just have to go visit them there when they do.

It is sunday and we are in Chicago so in the evening we head out to Sidetracks one of my favorite bars.  We only stayed a couple hours but it was fun.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

On to Chicago

Driving into Chicago was probably the most congested traffic road we've done with the trailer. At least the traffic made for a nice slow trip, wizzing down the highways here at full speed would probably not have been fun.

We found the Lakeside Center Truck Marshaling Yard with no problem. Here big trucks for conventions come park and wait their turn to drive to the convention center to unload or load.  For $21 a night we can "camp" here. That is awesome as it is downtown and the nearest campground is over 45 miles away.  
Our one goal was to eat here at Frontera Grill, Rick Bayless's restaurant. They don't really take reservations so we just get there when they open at 5 and there are 100 people waiting at the door.  They say it will be 1.5 hours which is fine I didn't really want to eat a 5pm even if we did have a skimpy lunch so we could eat more at dinner.
After a little walk around the restaurant we settle in at the bar for a few drinks.

Our table is ready in an hour and we have a great meal. We did end up eating a bit too much including a dessert each instead of our normal splitting of one.
Here is a picture of the trailer in the truck yard, actually we are at the very end of it out of the way. You can see the convention center behind us. During the early evening there were a lot of people coming and going but at night is was dead quiet except for the security van that patrols the parking log.

Friday, September 14, 2012

A few days in Madison WI

We took a couple of nights to checkout Madison WI.

It is a really nice city, very clean and pretty. I didn't take too many pictures but we checked out the downtown on food.

We also walked around the college there and went to the Arboretum.

There was Packers games that day too so we went out and watch the game with the locals they are big football fans in Madison. Did I mention we actually stayed in the next town McFarland a couple miles outside Madison. They had a great little RV park for being so close to a city.

Tomorrow we are on the way to Chicago for some unorthodox boon-docking at their convention center truck yard. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Just Driving in SD and WI

These last two days have been mostly driving days.

We did stop a the Wall Drug store which is an enormous complex.

For hundreds of miles before you get there you see signs every 1000 feet advertising the place.

A lot like Pedro's South of the Border except the signs are much more simple.
 Instead of puns the signs advertise free ice water and 5 cent coffee.

When the people first owned the store it was small and they weren't getting much business from all the cars driving by.

This was a long time ago before AC in cars and they realized offering free ice water was all they needed to do in order to get people to stop. From there the place grew to the abomination of a tourist trap that it is now.
We actually ended up eating lunch at the cafe which was a good thing as we realized we locked ourselves out of our trailer.  Long story how that happened but it involved a broken key and an accidental locking of a lock.

We have trailer road side assistance so we plan to call when we get into the next town.
Back on the road we keep chugging and eventually stop at rest area for a bathroom break and we decide to try breaking into the trailer.

Turns out Will fits into the external door that leads to the under bed storage and manages to wiggle into the trailer!

We are no longer locked out of the trailer! That saves us waiting for the Roadside assistance. Walmart is our home for the night in Mitchel SD, they don't have blanks for the key we need made but the next store down Menard's does so I get a replacement key.

The next day we drive to La Cross, WI stopping only to get some great meat in a tiny town with a great smoke house. It is another Walmart for tonight and it is across the street from a bowling alley so I went to bowl a few games to get back into practice for my league.  I am really really rusty!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Of Mammoths and Presidents

Today is a busy day! We started out driving down to the Mammoth Site.

It is a cool site, a sinkhole opened up and filled with warm water drawing in mammoths for a dip. Sadly but to our benefit the walls were too steep and the mammoths couldn't escape.
Almost 60 Mammoths have been unearthed so far mostly Columbian Mammoths with a few Woolies.

The bones are actually bones not fossilized although because they are so old they are still considered fossils. And they are very weak, so as they are un-earthed they are re-enforced.

This pit was found when someone was about to build a big housing development.
Luckily they saw a tooth and the town got together enough money to start a non-profit to take care and develop/study the site.
There is a lot more to be excavated and actually you can come here and they will teach you how to do it and you get to help out. They do most of the excavating over the summer but the site is still open to the public.

You can see the phones on the railings in the pictures, that is how you take the tour so as not to disturb the workers.
My brother had mentioned something like this with dinosaurs which would also be cool to see.

I wish there were more Woolies!
The sink hole is completely contain inside this building a big sky crane crosses the building and can suspend people or things over the pit.
They also have a little museum and you can go downstairs to see the lab's where further work is done on the bones.

Pretty Cool!
After that we visited Jewel Cave National Monument. It is the 2nd longest cave with over 160 miles of explored tunnels.

We did the tour which was only about 1 mile of it.

After that on to Mount Rushmore.
Driving to Mount Rushmore we took a twisty road that was designed to be scenic and when was proposed road engineers said it was going to be impossible. Or rather it would take a lot of dynamite.

The results are cool including several tunnels through solid rock.
Some of the tunnels are designed to frame Mt Rushmore as you drive through them. Will has some pictures which I will post later.

Mt Rushmore itself is kind of cool but we missed the tour because it was too late and we frankly were exhausted!

The cost of Mt Rushmore was apparently only 1 million dollars which seems cheap, that only includes the mountain and now there is a bunch more development here like parking for a zillion people. The monument is free but the parking is 12$ but that gets your car in for an entire year!

It has been a long day and we are driving again tomorrow so we just relax at home for the rest of the day.