Gerry & Dorrie and the Catskills

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Woke up shivering this morning at the Walmart Arms.  It was a cold night but we survived.  Got up and did our morning chores and headed for Roscoe, NY.  We have some friends there and wanted to stop by and say hello.  We have mutual grandchildren with them through Lucy’s daughter and their son.  They live in the beautiful Catskill Mountains.  The drive was slow because of the winding mountain roads and we had a little rain.  But the mountains are amazing and the drive was very enjoyable.  We arrived in Roscoe and drove around a little and then had a very good lunch at the Roscoe Diner.  Then we headed up the mountain a little farther to Gerry’s and Dorrie’s home.

This is a creek a few feet from our friend's home.

We had tea and cookies and some good conversation, but we were anxious to get off the mountain before dark so we headed out again.

We drove down the mountain and through some hills to a KOA campground near Poughkeepsie, NY.  We will rest here tonight, catch up on some chores and tomorrow to Connecticut and back to our coastal route.

I told you we were going to see the Statue of Liberty. I didn't know they moved it to Poughkeepsie.

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The Amish Country

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Woke up this morning and the first interesting thing we saw was a horse and buggy parked in the Walmart parking lot.  They had 4 hitching posts designated for that purpose.  We decided to just drive around a bit and explore the city of Lancaster.  It was an old and interesting town, but the only evidence of an Amish community was the occasional horse drawn buggy clopping along the street.  Then we remembered seeing a store called Amish Stuff as we were entering town last night.  So off we went to find it, if for nothing else than to get info on where to witness Amish life.  It’s not like we wanted to go and gawk at some Amish people.  What we wanted to do was drive through the country and see the people at work and buy goods from roadside stands and the like.  It turns out that the man in the store was very helpful with a couple of brochures and maps and some local history.  He showed us a route to take where the Amish folks lived and farmed.  He said we were not likely to see roadside stands this time of year.  His store was interesting and he had goods made by local Amish and Mennonite craftsmen.  He had quilts and straw hats and aprons and bonnets.  Jams and jellies and such as well.  We bought a few items and thanked him for his help.  We recommend the store.  It is on highway 30 on the right as you enter Lancaster from the east.

So we headed up route 340 out of town and into farm country.  The only thing that distinguished these farms from farms anywhere else was the absence of trucks and machinery and the presence of horse drawn work wagons and buggies. We saw children out in a field playing a game of some kind.  The only thing that distinguished them from other children was their clothing and the absence of gameboys and cell phones.  The countryside was beautiful, the fields and homes were neat and tidy, some painted, some bare wood, some stone, all well kept. Another thing that distinguished this farm community was that it seemed to be laundry day and there were clothes out drying on clothes lines.  When was the last time you saw that?

We didn’t see any roadside stands, but we did stop at a Mennonite farm store and bought some lunch.  It was very nice.  All of their goods were handmade and each item had a little tag on it with the name of girl or woman who made it.  We ordered sandwiches and watched as they made them.  Lucy commented that there was just something comforting about a young girl in a white cap and apron making a sandwich for you.  You just know it will be good.  And they were excellent.  I had an Italian sub and Lucy had egg salad.  Lucy also had some homemade red potato salad and I had some homemade sugar free tapioca pudding.  All very good.  As we were paying our bill, the young lady at the register was very curious about our van and our travels.  We talked a few minutes and then left.  All in all it was a very nice experience.  

Also in this area is a town called Hershey, PA.  Lucy and I are fond of chocolate and thought it might be fun to see the factory.  We kind of expected an experience similar to our tour of the Maker’s Mark Distillery.  You know, show us how you make the candy, give us a kiss and send us on our way.  As it turns out Chocolate World is an amusement park with rides and such and it is closed this time of year. There are no factory tours but there is a museum about the history of Hershey’s candy.  It costs $10 to tour the museum.  There was a gift shop and a cafe.  We skipped the museum, bought a candy bar and a latte and headed out of there.  The whole thing was a bit disappointing, but the candy bar was good. (don’t tell my doctor)

The only fun thing about Hershey, PA.

We decided to chance the weather and head for Roscoe, NY where we might meet up with some friends.  So we left Hershey and drove north and east through some mountains.  We had planned to stay at an RV park near a town called Honesdale.  When we arrived it was closed. There was a note on the door with a phone number but there was no cell service.  We decided to just find a spot and then go to the office in the morning so we started to drive around the park.  There did not seem to be a level site in the park and after the rain we just had, all the available sites were muddy.  There are very few things as unpleasant as trying to hook up the van to water and sewer and power in the mud, so we left in search of the nearest Walmart.  We found one in Honesdale and claimed a slot.  It is cold here tonight, in the mid 30’s, but we are snug enough under the covers, and that is where I am headed now.

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Where Am I, Philadelphia?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Got up this morning in Pennsylvania.  Drove to Delaware to pick up some plans.  Went on to New Jersey to another RV park.  We will be here 4 or 5 days. A couple days to finish this newest project, then 2 or 3 days to go back to Pennsylvania to explore Philadelphia and drive through the Amish country.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Worked all day today.  I was able to finish my project tonight so we are planning our Philly tour for tomorrow.  We rented a car for the next couple of days. After my work was finished we went to eat at a restaurant nearby and had a wonderful Chinese meal.  I believe it might have been the best Chinese meal we have ever had.  Lucy had a dish called Apple Walnut Shrimp with Broccoli.  It was as beautiful as it was delicious, but it was so delicious Lucy forgot to take a photo of it for the blog.  You will just have to trust us on that score.  I had shredded pork with Szechuan sauce.  It was not like any Szechuan dish I have had. It was a little sweet and a little spicy (hot), but not too much of either.  We were both delighted and if we are ever in South Jersey again we will visit Sakara Oriental and we recommend you do the same.  It is at 835 Mantura Pike (Rt. 45) West Deptford, NJ 08096.  The building looks like an old 50’s style diner, which is probably how it started out.  They actually have Japanese, Chinese, Thai, and they have a Sushi bar.  Good stuff.

Back at “Home Sweet Van” now ready to turn in and rest up for our trip to Philly.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Today we toured Philadelphia.  If you are interested in US history, this is a place you need to visit.  The Declaration of Independence was brought before the Continental Congress here, debated, amended, voted on and adopted here.  You can visit the actual building where all this took place.  This is also where the Constitutional Convention was held and the delegates debated on, amended, and adopted the United States Constitution.  This is the home of the first US Post Office, first Hospital (still in operation today), first lending library, first volunteer fire department.  The home of Benjamin Franklin, who was also the originator of the above mentioned firsts.

We took a bus tour in a double decker bus.  The upper deck had no roof and that is where we sat.  Thankfully it was warm and dry today.  After the tour, we decided I needed a Philly Steak Sandwich at the famous Geno’s.  We were feeling good so we decided to walk to it.  It turned out to be farther that be thought, but it was a very interesting walk to what is known as South Philly.  Many of the streets and sidewalks are brick or cobblestone.  The buildings are very old and quite interesting.  There were lots of street vendors selling everything you can imagine.  I think farm produce was the most prevalent.  After that, meat, then fish.  Also lots of souvenirs, t-shirts, hats, trinkets, everything.  I swear I heard at least 5 different languages spoken by the vendors and shoppers alike.  I think there was a pizzeria on every block of every street.  We finally arrived at Geno’s only to discover that the line was about 1/2 block long.  It also turns out that the only place to sit and eat are a few tables on the sidewalk or a stainless steel shelf along the wall where you stood and ate.  When we finally got to the order window, I ordered a steak sandwich.  The board next to the window proclaimed that the cost of my sandwich would be $6.75.  The lady told me it was $9.00.  When I started to protest she gave me a look that said “take it or leave it bud, but move along”  When we asked for fries and cokes, she said “sandwich only at this window, next window”. Lucy went to the next window which thankfully did not have such a long line.  Lucy does not eat meat so her only option here was fries.  She got each of us a fry and a drink for $12.00.  Now I like Philly steak sandwiches and was excited to get one at Geno’s, but I have to say that it was not that great.  It was okay, but I was expecting more.  I have had better for half the cost at a sit down restaurant.  Sorry Geno’s, but I was unimpressed. In fact I was disappointed.

After that we had to walk back to the nearest stop on our tour bus route to get the bus back to the Visitor’s Center and our car.  By this time we were pretty third and full on mediocre food and it turned out to be nearly half way back the way we came to get to the bus stop.  We were very glad to see that bus coming down the street toward us.  We got on and sat on the lower level this time as we had already had the full tour. We got back to the car and back to the van without much difficulty.  Grabbed some takeout food and fell into bed exhausted.  Mostly a fun and very interesting day.  Even the long walk was fun and interesting.  But that sandwich, my my my.

All of these buildings are the same size and shape. They were purposely positioned to create the optical illusion. No matter where you view them from, they always appear to be different.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

So what do you do in New Jersey on a rainy, cold Sunday afternoon (after church of course)?  That’s easy.  You head for Atlantic City.  Try to recoup some of that money you dropped in the offering basket.  Isn’t that the idea? Give and you will get back 100 fold?  That’s what the preacher said and he was quoting the Bible.  And what better place to get that 100 fold back than a casino?  That makes it easy for God. Just make a couple of numbers come up or stop that machine roller on some giant red 7s.   I think 7 is a Biblical number anyway.

So off we went to Atlantic City where they have the big casinos. Well I can tell you that the 100 fold principal is flawed.   Or else I just missed a step in the method.  I guess I should have actually gone to church and dropped some cash in the plate. Maybe I skipped that step. But technically I did that when I thought about God this morning and then gave a couple of bucks to that homeless guy.  So I should have won a couple of hundred.  Right?  Right?

I can see it now:  My Atheist friends are lmao’ing, while my religious friends are tsk tsk ‘ing and shaking their heads from side to side.  Am I right?  Everyone else is trying to decide if they should lmao or tsk tsk.  Their decision may be influenced by the presence or absence of lightning. Just saying.

Stalking her pray, she is unfortunately unaware of a fact that the ducks know. Here tether is about 12" shorter than she thinks.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Up this morning early.  We had some lightning and thunder through the night, but some of you will be surprised that we had no direct hits.  Anyway we did our morning chores, returned the rental car, had some breakfast, did laundry, I did a bit of revision work on two of my recent projects, then we headed for Lancaster, PA.  We are staying at the Walmart Arms tonight.  Tomorrow we intend to check out the Amish country around here.  It is cold here and we are hearing reports of snow to the north. It will not change our plans for this area, but we may have to head back to the coast instead of some of the mountain areas in New York where we had planned to go from here.  I think if we head north along the shore we are less likely to get severe weather.

The Delaware Bay

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Stopping To Work

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I worked all day today, mostly at a picnic table.

LaKisa, that is my work table. Do you mind finding another place to perch?

Some of my clients feel the need to put their plans on the largest size paper they can possible use.  That usually is not a big problem because at home I have a big plan table.  When I’m working in the van, 24 x 36 is about as big as I can handle and 11 x 17 is best.  The job I am working on here is on 30 x 42 paper.  That is impossible in the van, hence the picnic table.  I don’t mind working at a picnic table, but if there is any wind it is difficult.  Did you ever try to turn a page on a large plan while the wind is blowing?  It’s like raising a sail.  So I resorted to lots of heavy objects to weigh down the plans and had to move them back and forth as I turned pages.  But I really can’t complain.  I am working and lots of people are not.

While I worked, Lucy did laundry and worked on her photo albums.  The sun was shining, it was not too hot, overall a good and productive day.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

I worked again today.  I should not have complained about the conditions yesterday.  Today it was cloudy and rainy and cold.  I still have to work with the large plans so I put out the awning and put the picnic table under it and put on my jacket and went to work.  The only consolation is that there was no wind.  It was not terrible, but I had to keep taking breaks to warm up my hands.  I can work in a jacket, my face is protected by hair, but it is impossible to work in gloves.  Anyway I finished the project and we will be leaving tomorrow for Philadelphia.  Wait, I just got an email asking me to do another job.  Okay, I will get the plans printed in Wilmington Delaware, the closest Fedex Office (Kinko’s) and we will find a place nearby to park for another couple of days while I work again.  I am confident that we will be able to visit Philadelphia soon.  If you know any of my clients, ask them to hold off a few days while we have some fun.  There I go again complaining about having work while many have none. Shame on me! It is 8:00pm here which means it is 5:00pm at home.  That is cocktail hour.  I am pleased.

LaKisha, get that disapproving look off your face. That amber liquid in the glass is my reward for working all day.




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Running Back To The Coast

Monday, April 16, 2012

In my last post I noted that Ohio seemed pretty flat. And it did seem flat as we drove north from Cincinnati toward Columbus.  We noticed a bit of a hill as we turned east and the park we stayed in was on a hill, but for the most part, the Ohio we had experienced thus far was relatively flat.  When we left our little hill today, we went down to the town of Zanesville, headed east and never saw another flat spot in Ohio or Pennsylvania.  It could have been Kentucky or West Virginia.    It was up and down constantly.  The only thing really different was that in West Virginia and Kentucky the trees were very green even at the higher elevations.  In Pennsylvania at the higher elevations the trees were mostly still bare. 

We try to avoid the freeways when we can so we headed across country on little county and state roads.  It was fun, but it would have taken us a week to get to Philadelphia at the rate we were going.  I scoured the map for some principal highway that would take us east but was not a freeway.  There do not appear to be any of those.  So we sighed in resignation and headed for I-70. We need not have worried about being on a freeway because as soon as we got to Pennsylvania, I-70 turned into I-76 and changed from a freeway to a pay-way.  We had to go through a toll plaza where we were given a ticket.  When we got off that highway about 200 miles later the bill was $30.50.  It was an interesting road.  Four times we went under a mountain through a tunnel.  In all we drove about 4 miles under the Appellation Mountains.  

We finally pulled into a KOA Campground about 45 miles west of Philadelphia.  Here we will stay at least 2 days, maybe 3 days until I finish another project.  After that we intend to see the sights in Philadelphia before heading on up the coast.

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Monday April 9, 2012

We arrived at Roger’s and Dee’s home last night and were shown the guest room where we would be sleeping for the next few nights.  Our plan was to see a few sights in Louisville, visit Maker’s Mark distillery in Loreto, perhaps visit Bardstown, visit with my brother and his family and head out again.  We figured three or four days.  Between my family and my clients, that turned into a week.

Today we visited and toured the famous Louisville Slugger factory in Louisville.  It was very interesting, but they did not allow photos in the plant.  The history was very interesting.  It seems they began making bats for MLB in 1884 and are still doing that more than 120 years later.  The first bats were made on a manual lathe and took about 30 minutes to make.  They are now made on a computerized automatic lathe and take roughly 30 seconds to make.  This link takes you to a short history of the company.

I don't what I said, but I know I shouldn't have said it.

Tonight we had what I would call a dining experience as opposed to just a meal.  Roger, Dee, Lucy and I went to a restaurant called Asiatique on Bardstown Rd in Louisville.  I am not going to write anymore about it here because I intend to write a food blog within the next few days and include it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Today, the four of us headed for a town south of Bardstown called Loreto.  It is the home of the Maker’s Mark distillery.  There are lots of distilleries in this area, but Maker’s Mark is unique amount them and produces a fine bourbon which happens to be the favorite of Lucy’s friend Barbara.  We promises Barbara that we would attempt to go to the distillery and bring her a bottle direct from the source.  And so we did.

You might wonder why Kentucky makes so much of the world’s bourbon.  Well it is the water.

Kentucky sits on a limestone and shale shelf over a massive underground lake.  The water from the natural springs fed by this lake is special. It flows through limestone, which makes it high in magnesium and calcium—minerals that also contribute to the magnificence of the state’s racehorses— and low in iron. These characteristics are good for fermentation and for the eventual flavor of the bourbon whiskey. And that is why the Maker’s Mark distillery is where it is.  It sits on the same property containing a natural lake fed by these very springs and is the source of the water used to make the bourbon.  The wheat and corn are grown within 100 miles of the distillery and the barley comes from Pennsylvania.  Maker’s Mark is aged only six years because the wheat used is called red wheat and breaks down too much if aged too long.  It also helps to give Maker’s Mark it’s unique flavor.  

Anyway we toured the entire facility and ended at a tasting room, where we tasted the three products produced here.  Regular Maker’s Mark, 90 proof, The new Maker’s 46, 94 proof, and clear, unpaged Maker’s Mark, 130 proof.  The clear one is not sold anywhere but the distillery.  I actually found it to have an interesting taste, not harsh like you would expect a 130 proof whiskey to be.  My favorite was the Maker’s 46.  One of the unique things about this bourbon is the signature red wax seal on every bottle.  Each bottle is still hand dipped in this red wax.  Lucy and I bought some bottles and were allowed to do the dipping ourselves.  

After this tour we headed back to Bardstown to have a meal at the Old Talbott Tavern.  This is a historical place of business that was established in 1779 and has been a tavern, restaurant and Inn ever since.  Abraham Lincoln and his parents, Andrew Jackson, William Henry Harrison, Henry Clay, the inventor of steamboats John Fitch, environmentalist John James Audubon, songwriter Stephen Foster, and Jesse James, who is said to have been the cause of the bullet holes in the murals as he was drunk and shooting at imaginary butterflies, among other notables are on the list of guests who have stayed in the Inn and dined or drank in the tavern.  We had a very nice meal there, if unremarkable.  I had a bourbon with my meal and when I told him just to use the well bourbon, he told me that was Maker’s Mark.  I think the only standout part of my meal was the soup.  It was called a Kentucky Burgoo.  It turned out to be a chunky vegetable beef soup with a spicy, delicious broth.  Very enjoyable.

When we arrived back at the house, I checked my email and found that I had three jobs.  All of them were due by the beginning to mid next week.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I worked today while Lucy and Dee went out to do girl things. Manicures, pedicures, haircuts, and shopping.

Tonight we met with my brother Bob, his wife Ione, my niece Mikel and her husband Ed, my nephew Scott’s wife Tricia, Scott had to work.  Dee and Lucy and I were there, but Roger had to work. We met at a restaurant called Cheddar’s.  I had never heard of it but it seems to be a chain in these parts.  The food was very good, but the gathering was the highlight.  Lot’s of good conversation and catching up on old times.  Overall a very good night.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

I worked again today while Lucy and Dee went shopping.  We had planned to take off today, but with 3 jobs to do and the assurance that we had not over stayed our welcome, we decided to stay until Saturday morning so I could work in comport.

Friday, April 13, 2012

I worked again today and finished one of the larger of the three jobs.

Tonight we had another, very different dining experience.  We went to a restaurant called Buca di Beppo.  It is a family style Italian restaurant.  The food was excellent and the atmosphere was fun.  I wanted spaghetti and meat balls and I can eat lots of spaghetti so I ignored the advice of both Dee and Roger to share the small serving. So Roger and I shared a large order.  The meat balls would have been better described as meat loaf and there were three of them along with a huge bowl of spaghetti with marinara sauce. Roger and I ate roughly half of it and were both stuffed.  It took two boxed to take home the left overs.  Roger and I will be having spaghetti and meat balls for dinner on Saturday night as well.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

We left Louisville today and headed for Zanesville, Ohio.  Zanesville happens to be the home of an RV park and it is close to a factory that makes baskets, which Lucy collects.  They are called Longaberger baskets.  One of Lucy’s baskets broke and we are going to get it repaired and to tour the factory.

Compared to West Virginia and Kentucky, Ohio is flat.  What we saw of it we saw through between the beats of our windshield wipers.  It rained for most of the drive today.

We arrived late to the park, set up and went to bed.  After a week in a bed in a house that did not move, it was an adjustment to get back to travel mode.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

I worked again today, put the final touches on one job and completed another small job.  I have one more larger job to do, but I have until Thursday to finish it.  So we will be leaving here tomorrow headed for Philadelphia.  We will find a nice park there where I can work and we can spend some time seeing the historical sites.   

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Cumberland Falls

Saturday, April 7, 2012

We left West Virginia today heading for Kentucky.  We could have gone straight east to Louisville where my sister, Dee, and her husband, Roger, live.  My brother Bob, and his wife Ione also live near and we intended to have a visit before continuing the journey.  But we were not due to be there until Sunday or Monday, so we decided to see one sight in Kentucky.  I have always heard of a place called Cumberland Falls in south Kentucky.  So that is where we headed.  We crossed into Kentucky at Ashland and then turned south.  By the time we got near the falls it was about to get dark so we found a Walmart in Corbin, KY which welcomed us to spend the night.  Of course we also took this opportunity to show our gratitude by purchasing needed supplies.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Up this morning and off to see Cumberland Falls.  We drove about 20 miles east across a little mountain to a very nice falls.  This was a beautiful place. I think I will allow the photos to speak for themselves.  As we were planning this trip to the falls, we almost decided not to go.  We looked a photos of the place and it did not seem all that great.  I am very glad we decided to go.  These photos are the best we could do but they do not tell the story of the beauty and power of this place like a personal visit.  If you are in this part of the world and have the chance to visit.  i highly recommend it.

On the road to the falls

A bridge near the falls

Above the falls

View from observation deck above the falls

Path to the lower observation deck

Below the falls

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