Gypsy Rally – Day 3

Today was the 3rd day of the Rally, and like yesterday, it started out with coffee and donuts at 8:30.

At 9 we had our first class.  Jan’s class was on “Healthy Eating on the Road”, and mine was on “Getting Better Signals on Your Cell Phone and Air Cards”.

We decided to take off and run some errands at 10 since we were not really interested in any of the seminars being given in the 10:30 – 12:00 time period.

After stopping by the local Moose Lodge to try and renew my membership (they weren’t open yet) we drove about 10 miles along the lake to the small town of St. Mary’s to a place we’d been told about called “Lost in the Fifties”.

It’s a 50’s style diner with an amazing memorabilia museum. They even had one of Elvis’ three pink Cadillacs. And the food was really good too.

We’ll try to go back later in the week so I can get some pictures.

On our way back to the rally, we stopped at the Moose Lodge and I was able to get my membership renewed..

Getting back to the rig, we had about an hour to rest up before our next class at 1:30 pm.

This class, called “Don’t Replace, Refurbish”, was one that both Jan and I wanted to attend.  Given by a couple, the class told us how to upgrade the interior and exterior of our coaches without spending a lot of money. Right up my alley.

At 3:30 Jan went to “Meandering down the Highway” given by Nick Russell, the Gypsy Rally’s founder.  It talks about traveling the back roads of America in an RV.  I went to a Geeks on Tour class about Google Earth. ]

Google Earth is a free program from Google that gives you a virtual 3D globe on you computer that lets you zoom in on any place on earth.

After a break from 5 to 6 we had a pizza party, with all the pizza we could eat.  And then at 7 pm we had a musical show by a husband and wife duo called One More Time. In the past they’ve performed on cruise ships and clubs. Now they’re full time RV’ers who travel around to rallys around the country and put on shows.

They have a very professional act with costumes and choreography.  And they’re really good, with a lot of oldies and jokes.  They’re doing a second different show tomorrow.

We’re looking forward to it.

We were back to the coach by 8:30,  looking forward to tomorrow.

Later…

Gypsy Rally – Day 2

Today was our first full day of the rally seminars.

We started off with coffee and donuts at 8:30, while also checking out the vendor wares on sale.

Jan got some microfiber cleaning products and I picked up a book on the history of RV’s.  It’s hard to believe RVs have been around for over 100 years.

At 9 am Jan and I split up and went to separate classes. She went to a “Cooking On The Road” seminar and I went to one on “Electrical Management Systems”

Then at 10:30 am,  I went to a class on Blogging for the RV’er and Jan went to one “RV’ing  Alaska”. I guess she wanted to be sure that we didn’t miss anything last year.

Lunch was from 12:00 to 1:30, so we went back to the China Wok Buffet again, knowing it would be quick, because we wanted to run by Walmart to pick up some stuff.

At 1:30 pm I had a class on “Managing Digital Photos with Picasa”.  Picasa Photo Editing Software is a free program from Google that will find, sort, and manage all the photos on your computer.  They recently came out with a new version and I thought this class would be a good way to catch up on the changes.

At same time, Jan went to a class given by Gypsy Journal’s Nick Russell called “Highway History and Back Road Mystery”.  Jan has taken this class before, but says there’s always something new.

At 3:30 we both attended a seminar talking about ‘Hosting in State Parks”.  We both learned a lot about being a volunteer campground host.

When the class was over, we went to our new favorite Mexican place (in Ohio, anyway) La Carreta.  As before, Jan had the Beef and Bean Nachos and I had another bowl of the Chicken Tortilla Soup.

At 7 we were back for the door prize giveaway. I won a T-shirt and Jan won a bottle of energy drink. Wahooo!

About 7:45 we went to a talk of “100 Years of RVing”. There was some really great pictures of RVs from the very early 1900’s. Neat!

Tomorrow is another day…

Rally ’round the…RV?

First off, I want to wish my beautiful bride Jan,  a Happy 42th Anniversary!

Sweetie, You’ve made it all worthwhile.

Although today was the official start of the Gypsy Rally, nothing really happened until about 3 pm with the Welcome Meeting, since RVs were still arriving in the morning.

So about 11 am we headed out to a Chinese Buffet we had been told about, China Wok Buffet.  And we weren’t steered wrong.  It was very, very good. Probably in the top 5 of all the ones we’ve eaten at.  We’ll go back.

About 2pm we went over to the Vendor area to look over what they had for sale.

We bought a couple of Rally T-shirts and Jan got 3 more magnetic bracelets. She’s had really good results with the one she got on the ferry to Newfoundland, and wanted to get some more…in different colors.

At 3pm the rally got off to a start with the introduction of the vendors and the seminar instructors. We then had a panel discussion where anyone could ask a question, and hopefully get an answer from one of the experts.

At about 5:30 pm we broke for dinner. Since it was our anniversary Jan and I decided to go to a nice place called Pullman Bay.  Very good food, and even better pumpkin pie for dessert.

At 7 pm we had a door prize drawing session, with about 30 prizes. No luck for us, yet.

We broke for the night about 7:45.

Tomorrow, it starts with coffee and donuts from 7:30 am til 9. Then the first seminar starts.

More tomorrow…

La Carreta…muy bueno!

We left our KOA site about 9:30 for our 200 mile trip to Celina, OH

We didn’t stop for lunch so we arrived at the Mercer County Fairgrounds about 1:30 pm and were directed to our site.

Fairgrounds

Fairgrounds

While we are here for the 6 days of the Rally, we will only have power.  So I topped off our 100 gallon fresh water tank and Jan took care of all the laundry.

Since we got here early, we got a 50 amp site, unlike later arrivals who got a 30 amp, or even a 20 amp site.  Lucky us.

About 2:30 pm we headed out for a late lunch/early dinner at La Carreta, a Mexican restaurant we noticed on our way into town.  We really needed a Mexican fix, and this place filled the bill.

Jan had the Beef and Bean Nachos and I had the Carnitas. Really good, and so was the chips and salsa.  We’ll go back before we leave.

We got back about 4pm, and after setting out with Mister for a while, we went in the night.

Tomorrow is the first day of the rally.

More then…

Gypsys, Rallys, and Dennys…

Today was a travel day, the start of a two day trip to Celina, OH where we will spend 6 days at the Eastern Gypsy RV Rally,  an RV rally put on by Nick Russell and his wife Terry.

Nick publishes “The Gypsy Journal” a very popular bimonthly RV newsletter and last year started putting on a series of Western Rallys in Arizona and Eastern Rallys in OH.

We attended the Western Rally in Casa Grande, AZ in February 2008, just a week or so after we first hit road on our new RV life.

We did not attend this year’s Western Rally this past February since were going to do the East Coast this year, but we do plan on doing the Western one next year, since we will be out that way.

We left the park about 11 am and drove about 6 miles to a Flying J Truck Stop to fuel up before hitting the Interstate.  We put in about 111 gallons and went 990 miles on the last tank. That means we’re getting almost 9 miles to the gallon.  Not bad when we weigh almost 31,000 pounds and are pulling a truck weighing almost 6000 pounds.

I mean, what kind of mileage does your home get?

We didn’t get back on the road until about 11:45 due to the slow RV diesel pumps at the Flying J.  When I can I like to fill up at the truck pumps because they have bigger nozzles and fill much faster.

When your tank holds 150 gallons,  you want to dump the fuel in as fast as possible.

But the truck lanes were very busy and these guys work for a living, running on a tight schedule.  So I try to stay out of their way.

So I was in the RV lanes, with a diesel pump that seemed to putting out molasses.  It was that slow.  After 10 minutes I had only put in 40 gallons.

But finally we were on the road for 3 state trip.  We started out in NY, cut about 45 miles across the top left corner of PA, and end up just SE of Cleveland, OH.

We stopped at a rest area Dennys for lunch just before we left NY state.  The rest areas here in NY are different.  Rather just restrooms and vending machines like most states, NY’s have gas stations and restaurants.

Ours had a McDonalds, a Dennys, a coffee place, and several others.

We arrived at our KOA park about 4 pm. We were able to get a large pull-thru site so that we didn’t have to unhook the toad, since we didn’t plan on going out for dinner.

After getting set up, we let Mister out to roam around a bit.

Streetsboro KOA

Streetsboro KOA

That’s him at the bottom right of the picture.

Then it was in for the night and an early start tomorrow.

Later…

Wings and more Wings…

As I said, today was pretty much just an errand day.

We’re at the Sleepy Hollow Lake Campground in Corfu, NY, a little east of Buffalo. 

Sleepy Hollow Lake

Sleepy Hollow Lake

It’s the only park we’ve ever stayed at that has a petting zoo!  They have alpacas, goats, sheep, pigs, and emus.  Not bad.

Petting Zoo 1

Petting Zoo 1

Petting Zoo 2

Petting Zoo 2

Petting Zoo 3

Petting Zoo 3

Petting Zoo 4

Petting Zoo 4

And for some strange reason, it also has its own firetruck!

Firetruck

Firetruck

Not sure that’s a good thing or a bad thing. 

After sitting outside with Mister a while, we headed out looking a good place to have lunch.

While looking for, what turned out to be an out-of-business Mexican place, we stumbled on Quaker Steak and Lube,  a restaurant with, not surprisingly, an automobile theme.

And really good food. 

Besides a full menu, they also specialized in Buffalo Wings.  I noticed that besides the normal ones, they had  ‘Atomic Wings, so Jan and I decided to try a sampler plate of 5 wings.

Wing Chart

Wing Chart

According to the SHU (Scoville Heat Units) chart on their menu,  regular Buffalo wings rate a 3000 of the chart.  Really, really hot wings rate a 30,000.

Their Atomic Wings come in at150,000 SHU!

Jan ate two wings and I ate 3.  They were hot, very hot.  But I’m not sure they’re any hotter than the hottest ones that Hooters has.

But for the rest of the day, our lips did tingle and feel like they had been sunburned.

After lunch, with our tongues still tingling and our eyes still watering, we drove over to Sam’s Club for some ‘stuff’.

Heading back toward home we stopped off at a Walgreens that had flu shots available.  Jan wanted to get one.  This is just for the normal flu.  The Swine (H1N1) Flu shots won’t be available until sometime next month.

As usual,  I didn’t get one.  As I tell Jan,  “I depend on the kindness of strangers”.  I figure if everyone else gets a shot, then I won’t need one.

I haven’t gotten a flu shot for years and I haven’t had the flu for years.  And pretty much every time I got a shot in the past, I’ve gotten the flu.

So there.

We also stopped off at a NAPA Auto Parts so I could buy a new battery for the truck.  We’ve had a couple of instances recently where our truck wouldn’t start, so I wanted to take care of the problem.

I installed the new battery in the NAPA parking lot so I wouldn’t have to bring the old one back later.

Later that evening, we decided to have more chicken wings.  This time from the place that created the first Buffalo Wings in 1964 and started the whole thing.

It’s called ‘The Original Anchor Bar” and is located in Buffalo, of all places.  The place is really a family Italian restaurant and has been around since 1934.

The wings came about when some friends of the owner’s son showed up right before closing one night, and the son asked his mother to fix something for them.  She took a bunch of chicken wings that she was planning to use for soup, deep fried them, and then dunked them in a sauce she had been working on for another recipe.

And a legend was born!

This being an Italian restaurant, besides an order of Spicy BBQ Wings, we got a cheese and pepperoni pizza, and an order of Pizza Logs, kind of like Italian Egg Rolls.  All very good.  And we had leftovers.

Then it was back home to get ready to  head out tomorrow on a two day trip to Celinda, OH for the Eastern Gypsy RV Rally.

More tomorrow…

Niagara Falls – For Trudy…

Today we drove about 30 miles from our park to visit Niagara Falls.

The title of today’s blog says ‘For Trudy’. Trudy was Jan’s Mother who died in 2007. She always wanted to visit Niagara Falls, but never got the chance.

So Jan said “This visit is for Mom”.

After following the signs coming into the city of Niagara Falls we ended up on Goat Island, the home of the American side of Niagara Falls.

Goat Island and the Falls make up the Niagara Falls State Park. Established in 1885, it’s the oldest State Park in the United States.

Even before we got to the Island, Jan saw the mist rising from Horseshoe Falls, named because it’s shaped like a big horseshoe, of course.

But before we could see the Falls, Jan had to feed the a squirrel a Kashi bar.

Squirrel 2

Squirrel 2

Squirrel 1

Squirrel 1

The 2nd squirrel had this deal where he would lay flat on his belly and then slowly crawl toward you begging for food.

Walking over the small and looking down on the Falls was amazing.  BTW Most of these pictures can be seen larger.  Just click the picture. If there is a larger version, it will come up. Click the Back Arrow to get back to the blog.

Niagara Falls 1s

Niagara Falls 1s

Click to Enlarge

Niagara Falls 2s

You can walk right to the edge of the falls and look right out at the water going over.

Niagara Falls 3s

Niagara Falls 3s

And then looking straight down thru the spray and the rainbow you can see the Maid of the Mist heading into the base of Horseshoe Falls. Looks like fun!

Niagara Falls 4s

Niagara Falls 4s

After spending time at the Horseshoe, we walked over to the other falls, the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls.

Niagara Falls 5s

Niagara Falls 5s

Niagara Falls 6s

Niagara Falls 6s

Niagara Falls 7s

Niagara Falls 7s

Niagara Falls 8s

Niagara Falls 8s

Niagara Falls 9s

Niagara Falls 9s

After stopping to look at the many flower beds, we got in line to tour the Cave of the Winds.

Niagara Flowers 1

Niagara Flowers 1

Niagara Flowers 2

Niagara Flowers 2

Cave of the Winds is now kind of a misnomer.  The actual cave, named because the sound the wind made blowing off the falls, disappeared when the ceiling collapsed in the 1920’s.

What you have now is an elevator that takes you 180 feet down to the base of the American and Bridal Veil Falls and lets you walk on a wooden walkway thru part of the falls themselves. They give you plastic ponchos and sandals to wear, but they don’t really keep you dry.

You will get wet!

Cave of the Winds 1s

Cave of the Winds 1s

Cave of the Winds 2s

Cave of the Winds 2s

Cave of the Winds 3s

Cave of the Winds 3s

Cave of the Winds 4s

Cave of the Winds 4s

 Here’s Jan standing where part of the falls comes over the walkway. Jan said she looks like a banana. I think she looks cute.

Cave of the Winds 5s

Cave of the Winds 5s

This is the Hurricane Deck where you’re actually standing in the Falls. I went up there while stayed kind of dry on a lower level. It’s impossible to get pics up there. My camera’s not that waterproof.

Hurricane Deck 1s

Hurricane Deck 1s

Here’s what the walkway looks like from the Maid of the Mist.

Cave of the Winds 6s

Cave of the Winds 6s

One amazing thing about this is that workers disassemble the walkway every fall and rebuild it every spring, otherwise the winter ice would destroy it.

Here’s what the area looks like in February.

Niagara Ice 1s

Niagara Ice 1s

After drying out we rode the trolley over to the Maid of Mist dock. These boat tours have been running since 1846, almost 40 years before the place was even a state park.

The boats take you right into the whirlpool at the bottom of Horseshoe Falls, fighting the current all the way. It’s like being in the middle of a hurricane.

Niagara Falls 10s

Niagara Falls 10s

Maid of the Mist 1s

Maid of the Mist 1s

Maid of the Mist 2s

Maid of the Mist 2s

Maid of the Mist 3s

Maid of the Mist 3s

Maid of the Mist 4s

Maid of the Mist 4s

Maid of the Mist 5s

Maid of the Mist 5s

One thing I found interesting on the boat trip was the remains of Nikola Tesla’s Niagara Falls power plant, built in 1896.

Tesla Power Plant 1s

Tesla Power Plant 1s

This plant was the first to harness water flow to generate electricity, and demonstrated the superiority of Tesla’s AC electrical system over Edison’s DC system. Many people don’t realize we owe our entire electrical to Tesla. But back in the late 1800’s, there was a big legal war going on between Tesla and Edison over whose system was better.

By the early 1900’s Niagara Falls was lighting New York City.

Leaving the Maid we walked out on the observation tower

Niagara Tower 2s

Niagara Tower 2s

to a fantastic view of the entire Falls area.

Niagara Tower 1s

Niagara Tower 1s

A fitting end to our great day at Niagara Falls.

Walking back to the toad, we saw something I’d never seen before.

Black squirrels.

Black Squirrel 1

Black Squirrel 1

Black Squirrel 2

Black Squirrel 2

And they were very aggressive. When I turned and walked away, and then looked back, they were following me, stalking me.

Leaving the Falls area, we drove down to near Buffalo to eat dinner at one of our favorite BBQ restaurants, Famous Dave’s. We always have great leftovers.

Then it was home for the night.

Tomorrow is an errand day.

More tomorrow…