Open House, Thoroughbreds and Sluggers

On the morning of Tuesday, October 3rd, we pulled out of our site at Rose Point Park Campground in western Pennsylvania and drove an hour and a half westward to Akron, Ohio. We stopped in Hubbard along the way for an RV and Truck wash at a Blue Beacon Truck Wash — Very happy with that! Unfortunately, as I was later to discover, washing the RV is a hazard to our refrigerator. When we arrived in Ohio, we noticed our fridge was blinking and giving us an error message on the digital display. A little google research revealed that this is a common problem after washing the RV. Water comes in through the refrigerator vent on the side of the RV, causing the high temperature switch to fail. The switch, and other fridge components are totally exposed to the elements through the slits in the vent. After some further research and a couple of calls, I spoke with Ron, at Ron’s RV Service (googled him). He was familiar with the problem, but was tied up and unable to help us. He did, however, give me instructions in how to fix the problem. I purchased a small 3/4″ magnet from the hardware store, removed the vent, and placed the magnet over the LED light on the temperature switch, and… Voila! It was working again!

Parking our rig in front of my mother-in-laws house.

Our main purpose in stopping in Akron for a couple of nights was to see family and friends, and to allow them to see our RV. We were going to set up in a nearby RV park, but they wanted to charge us $10/person to even visit our RV. We politely declined their offer and, instead, were blessed by the hospitality of our good friend of many years, Nelson Carter, pastor of Calvary Apostolic Church. He and his wife, Judy, so graciously allowed us to set up our RV next to the church and supplied a regular extension cord for some power. On the day of our arrival, about two dozen friends and family stopped by for a visit. Wednesday was a little bit of a work and errand day for me. I recently bought a tire-pressure monitoring system for our 5th wheel tires and discovered they were quite low. So, I bought an electric pump and brought the tire pressure up to recommended levels (110 PSI). I installed a low-flow shower head in addition to taking care of a few other things on the to-do-list. And, finally, I bought a 3400 watt inverter/generator for the RV. Wednesday evening, we attended the midweek service at Calvary Apostolic. The next day we would continue our journey southward.

Rainbow from our spot parked at Calvary Apostolic Church.

Flowers for the ladies.

Denise, Mom, and Nancy at Open House

Christy, Beth, and Cindy at Open House

John and Gloria at Open House

Tammy and Barry at Open House

Mark and Debbie at Open House

On Thursday, October 5th, we departed Akron with an additional adventure-seeker. Christy, my wife’s twin who joined us on occasion aboard our sailing vessel, Beatitude, has now begun her periodic visits aboard our land vessel, Beatitude II. We were happy to have her join us for a week and a half of RVing fun. Our drive to Louisville, Kentucky, was not all that fun however. It was the longest drive of our brief RVing experience, and almost the whole trip was carried out in a steady rain. Yuck. We made it safely, however, and set up in our site for a two-night stay in the Derby City. Our first evening, we grilled some burgers for dinner and hung out at the RV.

Driving in a rain storm.

Our RV site at the Louisville South KOA

Grilling out at our campsite.

Friday was exploration day. We began with a trip to Churchill Downs, home to the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday of May. It was exciting to visit the Kentucky Derby Museum located on site, as well as enjoying a short walking tour of the facilities. The founder was the grandson of William Clark, of Lewis and Clark fame.

Churchill Downs – Home of the most exciting 2 minutes in sports.

The pre-race stables behind.

My two fillies at the starting gate.

Practicing my jockeying skills. Now, only to lose 100 pounds.

The storied track

“And they’re off!”

Appropriately sized stallions.

We then drove downtown to visit the Louisville Slugger Museum, home to the famous baseball bat. J. F. Hillerich opened his woodworking shop in Louisville in 1855. Hillerich’s seventeen-year-old son, John “Bud” Hillerich, who played baseball himself, slipped away from work one afternoon in 1884 to watch Louisville’s major league team, the Louisville Eclipse. The team’s star, Pete “Louisville Slugger” Browning, mired in a hitting slump, broke his bat. Bud invited Browning to his father’s shop to hand-craft him a new bat to his own specifications. Browning accepted the offer, and got three hits to immediately break out of his slump with his new bat the first day he used it. Browning told his teammates, which began a surge of professional ball players to the Hillerich woodworking shop. Thus began the famous baseball bat factory. On the factory tour, we did get to actually go through the factory and watch bats being manufactured. The MLB players’ bats are manufactured using a higher grade wood and on different machines than the minor league bats and bats prepared for mass production. The museum was nice to visit as well.

The “largest bat in the world” outside the Louisville Slugger Museum

Holding Mickey Mantle’s Bat

My Babe and The Babe

Christy and Ted

After walking around town for a little, with a stop at a bourbon tasting, we had a steak dinner at Texas Roadhouse. We then returned to Beatitude II in anticipation of an early departure the next morning to Nashville.

Walking the streets of Louisville

Stopped in at the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience. The tours were filled, but we did get to have a tasting.

Dinner at Texas Roadhouse

With our Daughters in Western Pennsylvania

On Sunday, October 1st, we left the Niagara Falls KOA just before sunrise in order to arrive early at our next RV park, Rose Point Park Campground, just west of New Castle. Our two daughters, Julie and Mariah, and their significant others, Tracy and Murilo call New Castle their home. Mariah was born in Pennsylvania and has now found her way back to her birth-state. Julie spent the majority of her childhood in the state and never left. We feel blessed to have just spent time with our son and his family in New York, and now to spend time with our daughters. These were the main reasons we made this jaunt into the Northeast before winter weather hits.

Receiving my birthday present from Julie (and Tracy).

A perfect birthday gift.

Our arrival at our campground was well before the check-out time, so our site was not available. The staff was so kind and accommodating. The kids arrived just a few minutes after we did. After opening a couple of belated birthday presents (Georgia Bulldog Chairs!), we drove just a few miles to McConnells Mill State Park for a few miles of hiking and exploring. We trekked along Slippery Rock Creek as it flowed through a scenic gorge and ended at a restored watermill and a picturesque covered bridge. The mill, rebuilt in 1868 after destruction by fire, processed oats, corn, buckwheat and wheat until it was closed in 1928. The McConnell’s Mill Covered Bridge, a Howe truss bridge, was built in 1874. After walking back from the bridge, we drove a short distance to the Hells Hollow Trail and hiked to the diminutive (at this time due to low water) Hells Hollow Falls.

Mom and girls

Murilo and Mariah

This tree was determined to put its roots into the ground

The whole gang on the hike.

The boys

Slippery Rock Creek

Dad and Julie

Milling around in the mill.

Hiking selfie.

Hiking in Hells Hollow

Pennsylvania wildlife spotted on our hike: The white hickory tussock moth caterpillar -Pretty, but venomous.

Walking down from the limekiln to the falls

The mighty falls of Hells Hollow. Actually, at times, there is considerable water flow.

Once we were all sufficiently exhausted, we drove to the nearby Living Treasures Wild Animal Park. I must admit my initial skepticism as to how excellent this experience might be, given that it is located in the boonies and has a hokey name. My initial prejudice was soon overcome, however, by the impressive lineup of animals, and the ability to get up close and personal with most.

Who wouldn’t love this face?

Lemurs

Beautiful spotted leopard

Our wonderful, busy Sunday concluded with steak on the grill and laughing around the campfire. What a great time with our daughters!

Preparing dinner back at the RV

Fun around the campground

Happy 59th Birthday!

Julie, Tracy, and Murilo were back to work on Monday, but Mariah had the day off, so we were able to hang out with her most of the day. Our time in Pennsylvania was concluded with a meal at Tomatoes with Julie, Tracy, Mariah, Murilo, along with the added blessing of Tracy’s parents. It was a nice way to finish up two quick days with family.

Niagara Falls

On Friday, the 29th, we hitched up our RV and drove a little over three-hundred miles along Interstate 90 to Niagara Falls. We arrived in the early afternoon, set up on our site in the Niagara Falls/Grand Island KOA, and — a little while later — drove into the downtown area of Niagara Falls, NY for dinner. I thought I had found a nice little restaurant for dinner called Wine on Third, but it turned out to have average food and below average wine. Our Pinot Noir tasted like grape juice. Oh well.

Cindy’s first time behind the wheel towing the 5th wheel. She drove for about an hour along I-90. Of course, as soon as she took the wheel, traffic picked up and road construction began. 🙂

Dinner at Wine on Third

The rest of the evening did not disappoint, however. We made our way across the Rainbow Bridge and through customs and immigration into Canada. After finding a place to park, we walked along one of the most impressive sights to greet the human eye: Niagara Falls. The Niagara River, which drains Lake Erie into Lake Ontario, falls 188 feet creating this spectacle of spectacles. Niagara Falls (consisting of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls, as well as the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls) has an impressive average flow rate of four million cubic feet per minute. A stiff breeze showered us with mist as we walked along the waterfront, creating a rainbow above the falls. We admired the torrent of rushing water for a few minutes and then ascended the Skylon Tower where we had a commanding view of all the falls from 775 ft. above their base. At night, the falls are illuminated with colors, offering even more of a display (as if it was needed).

Horseshoe Falls

Rainbow over Horseshoe Falls

A look down at American Falls

Cindy before Horseshoe Falls

American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls (the small section to the right) illuminated in the evening.

Horseshoe Falls at dusk

Goat Island separates the American from the Canadian falls.

The U.S. Side

The Canadian Side

American Falls at night

The Skylon Tower, which offers magnificent views of all sections of the falls (all of the illuminated photos were taken from atop the tower).

Horseshoe Falls as we walk back to our truck.

On Saturday, we visited the American side of the falls, primarily to take a ride on the Maid of the Mist. We had seen the falls from the level of the top of the falls, from 775 ft. above the base of the falls, and now we would see, and experience, them from below. We donned our cheap rain-ponchos (provided), boarded our vessel, and took a boat ride into the churning waters beneath Niagara Falls. It was an even better experience the second time around! (We visited here almost a quarter of a century ago.)

The Maid of the Mist with Rainbow Bridge behind

Ready to get wet aboard the Maid of the Mist

American Falls

Cindy at the base of American Falls

Horseshoe Falls from the Maid of the Mist (As we got closer, photos were unobtainable due to the wet conditions).

Looking at American Falls from the American side.

Niagara

On Sunday morning, we were to begin our return journey southward — the first stop, western Pennsylvania.

Couldn’t resist a picture of this beauty in the parking lot.

Daredevils in Niagara