Thursday, November 27, 2014


Today is the day that was set aside by our founding fathers to give thanks to our Creator for all that He has given us.  When we approach God with a grateful heart, we are assured that He will continue to bless us.

I am thankful that the storm was not as bad as originally predicted - 9 to 15 inches of frozen precipitation.  The thermometer is hanging around the 32 degree mark and it is expected to go up to 39 today with plenty of sunshine so I'm hoping that most will be gone by the time it freezes tonight.  The pictures above are from this morning; only an inch and a half.  Lobo loves the snow! He'd stay out in it all day if he could.  Juni, on the other hand, is a little addled by the white stuff.  She is more a terrier and wants to be able to smell the ground which she could not do very easily this morning.  You can see the ground exposed under the coach and that is where she wanted to go.
They have already plowed the roads here in the campground and the roads and highways are clear here.  They know how to deal with this stuff up here in the north east.  
Joanie cooked most of the day yesterday in preparation for today's feast and we learned that we must not run our space heaters while also using the convection oven.  Yes we blew a circuit.  Another lesson.  I hope I'm paying attention.
We are headed to our oldest son's house today for Thanksgiving.  Tomorrow we will celebrate Thanksgiving again out on Cape Cod with Sherri's mom and sister and her family. I will see if I can get some photos and post them.
Safe travels to everyone!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Gloucester and Salem...

Joanie was trying to come up with a word that describes the people who came to settle this part of the New World and still inhabit it today.  "Stalwart" was apt, she thought.  They were certainly a hardy bunch who came and survived the harsh conditions here. 

There are no soft, sandy beaches here.  Rock is the predominant feature of the landscape.

The sea and land formed a people who were to become the image of America - hard, tenacious, industrious.  To secure a living from the sea or the land you would have to work hard to endure.
One of the most impressive movies I have ever enjoyed was "Captains Courageous" with Spencer Tracy which featured this monument at the end of the film.

Around the statue is the list of names of Gloucester men who have lost their lives trying to make a living from the sea.  The thousands of names on these plaques attests to the courage of these people.

That includes the women and children who also endured and helped to create the character that is America.

The fishing industry that used to be here is just about gone due to over-fishing.  Even with regulation, it will probably never be what it once was and tourism will be the dominant industry in Gloucester and other towns along the New England coast which includes...

Salem, Massachusetts also has a rich history as a seafaring town.  It grew to be a much larger community than Gloucester with a more diverse economy.  With decline of the fishing industry and American manufacturing, Salem took advantage of a small and nefarious piece of it's history around which it's building its tourist industry - the 17th century witch trials. The Salem waterfront reminded us of Key West and how it is catering to tourists. 

But Salem still has a rich background of traditional American culture which is why we visited.  The welcome center in Salem occupies the building that was once the Salem Armory and had this wonderful model of seafaring life in Salem.

Outside the armory is a bell given by Paul Revere and his sons to the people of Salem for their part in the struggle for American Independence.  The bell is dated 1801.

The Salem city cemetery has dates to the 17th century still readable on some of the stone markers.

The term "life is short" was very real  and quite common for the early inhabitants.

The Peabody Essex Museum is one of the largest museums of it's kind in the United States and grew out of the East India Marine Society which was established in 1799. They currently are showing the works of Alexander Calder, which is the reason we came to Salem. (Sorry, no photos were allowed of the Calder exhibit.)  We were joined by Sherri's dad Steve and his wife, Mary.

The maritime collection of the Peabody is one of the best you will see anywhere.

The Peabody's spiral staircase.

Dorothy takes break...

 ... and Grandpa too.

The museum has a large collection of fully rigged ship models.

Kaylee plays a wooden musical instrument inn the children's section of the museum.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The First Thanksgiving ...

We are not far from where the very first thanksgiving was celebrated 393 years ago.  We hope to jump in the Jeep and go see some of historic Massachusetts tomorrow - knee willing. Maybe we will be near Plymouth and see where the first thanksgiving feast took place.

As a country, I think we have lost some of the foundation of what Thanksgiving means: Approaching your Creator with a grateful heart is the beginning of blessings.  We cannot be open to the Grace of God with all of It's Blessings without first giving thanks for what we have been given unconditionally in Love.

May we remember that Thanksgiving is a day when we acknowledge God for being The Provider of all that we have.

Yesterday Kaylee's first grade class presented an historical recitation of the first thanksgiving.  Grand parents were allowed to come and somehow we all squeezed into the classroom to be entertained. I made sure I had a front row seat.  Being here in Massachusetts I found this to be particularly appropriate.  The class did an outstanding job and I enjoyed the performance immensely!

The story was told in rhyme in groups 3 -5 students per stanza.

Everyone was very excited and not everyone could deal with "the stage freight" in the same way. Tears were one way...

... for Kaylee it was like two cups of coffee too many.

Kaylee aboard the Mayflower.

Getting ready to go "onstage".

"Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens" - Abraham Lincoln who established Thanksgiving to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November.


Last night Don and Sherri took us to dinner at Not Your Average Joe's. 
Waiting for our dinner to be served we played an old family game - "guess what it is".  Someone draws a picture and you take turns guessing. I lost on a chocolate chip cookie.

Dorothy did not want me to take her picture...

...while Kaylee wanted to do a statue of liberty pose.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Living in the Northern Latitudes ...

The Yankee sun is lazy. At least after September 21.  It can't even climb half way up the sky before it gets tired and heads back down.  The Yankee sun is not very generous; it distributes little warmth even when it makes its way around the gray, dingy Yankee clouds. I much prefer a Southern sun.

In the northern latitudes the shadows cast by our closest star are always long this time of year.  1:30 in the afternoon looks and feels more like 4:30; 1:30 feels like the day is almost done and you should be putting things away and hunkering down for the night. By 4:30 only a glow of what the day once was is left on the western horizon.  By 4:35 it is dark. 
Joanie and I both admit that this autumn has been one of the most beautiful we have ever experienced.  You can see some the photos in previous blog entries. However the beauty doesn't last long and now, in Massachusetts, almost all the leaves are off the trees taking away all the vibrant color and leaving mostly gray.

The thermometer went down to 19° last night.  We have two furnaces in Phaeth; one fore, one aft.  The aft furnace produces 30,000 BTU's, 5,000 of which is diverted to the wet bay to keep the tanks and pipes from freezing.  The front furnace is rated at 35,000 BTU's.  So that is 60,000 BTU's to the living quarters of the rig and it seemed that the furnaces were running all night.  We were comfortable but the numbers attest to the lack of insulation in RV's.  The wind is also a big factor.  The "feels like" temperature is a much better predictor of the furnaces' performance.  More wind = more furnace use and the toppers were flappin' all night.

Some might ask why not use electric heat? We have a little 900 watt space heater. It produces 2,728 BTU's per hour.  If you do the math, ten of these space heaters would only produce 27,000 BTU's and where am I going to plug in 10 space heaters?  I don't even have 10 outlets and only 4 circuits.  10 would draw about 90 amps and we only have 50 amp service. So the LP furnaces are MUCH MORE efficient at keeping us toasty.

Monday we had 2.0 inches of rain.  The land in New England drains well (better than Carolina clay).  However, there were still a few ice puddles this morning.
We had a device called an Extend-a-Stay installed on our LP gas system which allows us to make muse of supplemental bottles of gas.  This is needed because the additional use of the furnaces. This extra bottle belongs to the campground and we will just disconnect from it and leave it when we pull out.

We are also living off our own water supply since we must be disconnected from city water whenever the temperature drops to freezing and below.  It's not a hardship; we just have to remember to conserve water because it could be days before the thermometer rises above 32.  We were unplugged all day yesterday and will be again today.  According to the forecast we will be able to connect tomorrow but then be off until Monday.  We will top off the fresh water tank tomorrow and take showers, etc. We are going to take our laundry to our son's house on Friday.

NEWS FLASH! Yesterday Buffalo, NY was hit by a record blizzard. Parts of the city got 100 inches.
Here are a couple of news photos I pulled off the internet.

Yeah.  I'm a Southern boy!


Monday, November 17, 2014

Sunday with Family ...


We spent most of the day with our son and his family.  It was a special day because Sherri's mom, Marcia and her boy friend Bob also came for a visit.  Bob lives on Cape Cod and brought dinner - oysters and clams he had dug Saturday.  They made clams and clam sauce with pasta.  Mmmm. A treat! It was great meeting Bob and seeing Marcia again and getting caught up and sharing stories and adventures.

Next time I see my doctor I'm going to ask him for some energy pills so I do this.

Friday, November 14, 2014

This week's fun ...


Dorothy shoots some hoops on a basketball goal we got and Don put together so that the kids and Don and Sherri can get some physical exercise.  They have a large flat driveway that is great for this. Joanie was impressed with Don's prowess with the round ball.  All those hours shooting hoops up at Matt's house...

We also had a playset installed in Don's and Sherri's side yard so Dorothy and Kaylee
(and Grandma) can have some fun.
OK.  It wasn't all fun and games.  Don and Sherri own an old house that was restored before they purchased it about 6 years ago.  There were always some things that they wanted to improve on but were never able to set aside time from work and raising a family to get done.  So we have tackled a few improvements with our visit.
Don prepares the main water pipe for the installation of pressure reducer. 

The installation is pretty easy.  Turn off  water to the house. Drain water.  Clean the pipe. Cut out a section of pipe to accommodate the pressure regulator. Pop the regulator on the pipe.  Turn the water back on.  Using Shark Bite connections, you don't have to sweat any connections.

We reduced the water pressure in the house from 100 psi to 45 psi.  100 psi is way too much and can damage appliances and valve seats.
We also finished some insulation on an exterior wall in the basement.

The previous owner had replaced some timbers in the basement but had undersized them.  We used two heavy duty jack posts to slightly lift the center of the house and then installed a 6 x 6 timber (next to the boxes) in place of a bent 4 x 4.

We redeployed the heavy duty jack posts and put 2 other lighter duty  jack posts in other locations in the basement to take some of the "bounce" out of the first floor.  Then we had a couple of beers.
Yesterday Dorothy brought home her flute so that she could practice.
We have now been initiated as Winter Campers with this morning's...

...first snow.