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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Helping To Install A House Toilet

My son's friend in MD had a problem.  His first floor toilet was getting clogged from his his young son's usage.

The last straw was the overflow that leaked through the bathroom floor and ceiling in the basement.  He asked my son to help him install a new toilet in its place.  

Since I was around and knowledgeable on the subject, I consulted and helped with the install techniques.

The three of us went to Lowes and the friend picked the toilet that was highly rated and had been tested in flushing golf balls.

At the same time, the friend also upgraded to an elongated bowel.

The friend had prepared the removal of the old toilet to save on time and he wanted to do the install.

There was only one problem with the install and that came from the flange that was originally installed in the floor.

The flange has key-hole slots that were 90 degrees out of alignment from what we expected and what was on the instructions.

We needed to use the side slots that were previously used on the previous toilet.  What happened was that the new bolts didn't grab on the bottom of the flange so the toilet couldn't be tightened down.

The new bowel needed to be removed when we couldn't tighten it down and a new wax gasket was installed.  Luckily we had bought a wax ring, not knowing the toilet came with one, so we had a backup wax ring to reset the toilet after we got the bolts to grab under the flange.

When I come to visit my son and family I never know what project I may get involved with. 

It's all good.


Friday, April 29, 2016

I'm Home - Friday, 4/29/16 (Day 117)

Today is the last day of my 2016 Travels.

The map above is what Google gives me but my trip home is a bit longer than what you see as I get off at exit 11 on the NJ TPK and take the Garden State Parkway to the NY Thruway over the Tapans Zee Bridge to I684 north to I84 to MA and then back roads to my house. 

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I will be posting until I get caught up with all the things I did while visiting my Son and family in Maryland.

I will also be recapping the statistics of my trip (Milage, expenses, etc)

Lastly I will discuss what went well and what could be improved for future travels.

So stay tuned for a few more weeks to find out what I learned on this trip.  I think you will find it interesting.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Coonskin Park Disc Golf, Charleston, WV

On Thursday, 4/21/16 (Day 109) after my drive to and through Charleston, WV, I stopped at Coonskin Park to play 18 holes of disc golf.

There wasn't anyone else on the mostly hilly tight course.  The photo above gives you an idea of what most of the holes in the woods are like.

If you look way down the hill through the trees you can see the basket.  Not much chance of not hitting a tree, or two, or three.  Yea, on this hole I hit 3 trees to get to the basket.

This course certainly provided cardio exercise with 8 holes on one side of the Vally with the road at the bottom and the back 9 holes on the opposite side of the valley.

This raised rail above the basket was curious to me until the first commercial flight came over me to land.  It is an elevated light system guiding aircraft to the runway above.

After I figured out what it was I didn't understand why a playground was directly under the flight path at the base of the hill the planes land on.  This is a ver path park with a lot of places to have the children play rather than under landing aircraft.

I had a decent game less the very wooded fairways.

After playing the course I was on my way towards Maryland.


Druid Hill Park Disc Golf, Baltimore, MD

My son here in Maryland got me started playing disc golf a number of years ago and I'm so glad he did.

It not only brings me enjoyment playing at disc golf courses around the country and keeps me physically active, it's also something we can and do together.

Today was another wonderfully warm day in Baltimore and my son had some errands there, so we spent the late afternoon and evening together in Baltimore.

We first headed to Druid Hill Park to play 18 holes.  One of my son's friends who lives nearby came and played 10 holes with us.

This year's travels have provided me the opportunity to become more consistent with my game and do a lot of experimenting so now I can curve the same disc to the right and left based on how I throw it.  This is very helpful with any course.  I also have a disc that I have figured out to fly it mostly straight.

I am no way a great player but I can hold my own with the average player.

Having this opportunity to spend time with my son is just a wonderful thing and along with spending time with my other son on the west coast,  they are the best part of my travels.


Patapsco State Park Hike - Trash Free Park

On this nice sunny warm day (one of a couple warm days while in MD) I decided to hike Patapsco State Park in Elkridge, where my oldest son lives.

On the bathrooms where I park I saw this Trash-Free Parks sign that got my interest.

What it means is is that there are no rubbish cans and they have this dispenser for a trash bag for you to use for your trash and then drive home or some other place to leave your trash there.

I don't live here and although staying with my son, I stopped at a Subway Restaurant for lunch and dropped off my trash there.

I did pay to get in the park and people can pay to rent picnic area pavilion, but still no rubbish cans.

See below what happens during my hike.

This is a nice well used park in a steep valley making a hike with elevation possible for a great workout.

Here is my hike of 6.4 miles with over 600 ft of elevation change to get my cardio going.

Near the end of my hike is this brook and many waterfalls.  I make my way to the valley floor with the road and main river.

Back to trash free;  when I got to the main road I stopped to look around before hiking the road back to my car.

I hear a conversation between a man and woman about what to do with they dogs poo the woman had picked up in her hand with a plastic bag.  She was looking for a rubbish can and found a similar trash free sign.  The man says in a sense of frustration other to take it into the woman's bathroom and toss it in the toilet.  She said no and a short conversation occurred and ended with her carrying the poo with her.

Although I did not see a lot of trash on the ground, I don't think having a park for recreation that you pay to get in or pay for a pavilion should pass on the trash to others where the trash was generated.

I'm sure that I am not the only person to leave my trash at some other business after leaving this park.  All that happened was to have the trash removal get passed on to others.

I get the impression that they are using the concept of pack-in, pack-out used for hiking to the whole park.  

Could you imagine a roadside rest area with no trash cans?  In my opinion managing a park comes with dealing with trash.


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Kekionga Park Disc Golf, Decatur, IN

On Wednesday, 4/20/16 (Day 108) I was on my way east passing through rural Indianna and it was time for a break along my way on US Highways.

It was mid afternoon and I was coming into Decatur, IN and saw they had a park in town along a river with a 9 hole disc golf course calling me to get out of my Prius and get some exercise.

I use this course as an example.  It's in a park and although it is a generally open course with few challenges, it provided 45 minutes of needed exercise outside the car.

I often play two discs per hole in these 9 hole courses and get twice the exercise.  I also use the open course to experiment with new discs and practice my backhand and forehand with each disc.

When traveling across the country I just pick a course from my disc golf app and enjoy my game.  Although today didn't have anyone else in the course, I do get to meet people from time to time to enjoy someone else's company and learn about life in the local area.

The best part is that it is free.


Monday, April 25, 2016

Demoing Park Disc Golf - Terre Haute, IN

On Sunday 4/17/16 (Day 105) on the second leg of my drive to McHenry, IL from the GTG I stopped in Terre Haute to play disc golf in the park.

It was Sunday so I figured the course would be crowded.  When I arrived mid-day I parked in a pull-out on the park road mid course and started playing at that point as there was no other players.

The course is mostly open with a few mature trees to add some limited difficulty.  In one direction you play with woods to your left.  On the way back the park drive, in the picture above, marks the left side out of bounds.

The course is nice although I did have to wait on a few throws until people walking in the park passed.

I had just enough time to get the 18 holes in in order to get on the road and be in McHenry by 5:00 pm.

I was pleased to get 18 holes in both Saturday and Sunday.


Saturday, April 23, 2016

Grantsville, MD to Elkridge, MD

My last day of travel for the next week is today, Friday, 4/22/16 (Day 110). Today I will arrive in Elkridge, MD to spend a week with my oldest son and family.

A week from today, Friday, 4/29/16 (Day 117) I will drive the 430 miles home to Massachusetts.

The next week in MD will be devoted to spending my time with the family and going a few places that I will write about.

I have had the weather front, that left 4 ft of snow near Denver,  to my back since I left McHenry, IL.

The rain catches up with me at night and I drive east to get out of it.  It has been one of the slowest weather fronts to cross the USA this year, leaving me without severe weather and some warm temperatures this week, that I so enjoy.


Dayton, OH to Grantsville, MD

On Thursday, 4/21/16 (Day109) I left Dayton, OH continuing my US Highway travels through small town USA.  I thought I would get to Morgantown, WV for the night.

My trip is taking me to the Baltimore area tomorrow (Friday) but my trip today will take me south to the Ohio River along the Kentucky border and then branch off to Charleston, WV.

I have never been to Charleston, WV and I wanted to see the city. 

I first stopped in WV in South Charleston as there is an interesting mound of dirt along side the main road that is a park.

It turns out that it's an Indian burial mound right in the city.

There are many Asian restaurants in the immediate area, but I made my lunch In the park from what I was carrying.

Charleston is over the river from South Charlestown.  I drove through Charleston to get an idea on the city.  The housing in the city just outside the downton area seem to have built all about the same time with some run down.  As I enter the downtown area there are tall city buildings.

I see a long line on of people on the sidewalk leading to a building.  As I drive along the line of people I see it is leading to Jimmy Johns. Then I remember it was the day that Jimmy Johns offered sandwiches for a dollar.

My short term destination just northeast of the city to a park to play disc golf, but as I transgress the downtown area I see a ball field so I pull over is see if there was a game this afternoon.  The team West Virginia Power Team was outbid town playing Lexington, KY

Had the team been in town I may have stayed to watch it.  I continued on to play disc golf.  See separate post on the disc golf course.

After Disc Golf I again continue on US routed highways north towards Morgantown, but the road gets boring and towns all look the same so I head over to the interstate to change the scenery.

I finally stop for dinner just off the highway at Cracker Barrel and a nice catfish meal before looking for a place for the night.

I stop at a truck stop and get gas and it's only 7:00 pm and a bit early to stop for the night so I head on for another hour into western Maryland to another truck stop for the night.


Mc Henry, IL to Dayton, OH

On Wednesday 3/20/16 (Day 108) I drove from my aunt's house in McHenry, IL to Dayton, OH in to trip segments.

I always get around Chicago by taking interstate highways, but whenever possible I like to take US Highways or even state or county roads.

My goal in taking rosds other than interstates is to drive through cities and towns that interstates pass by and I just love the scenery.

I love the farmland and the little things I see in the spring with farmers preparing their fields for spring planting.

After getting through the Chicago area I set my sights on Fort Wayne, IN.  I had to override my GPS many times today to stay on roads that brought me through towns.

Fort Wayne was just that situation where the GPS kept telling me to go around on bypass routes and I kept going through the town and the GPS scolding me.

The next leg of my trip ended up being Dayton, OH but could have been anywhere in OH.  I checked a rest area and they are posted for 3 hours max and no overnight parking so I opted for a truck stop in Dayton to overnight park, getting there about 8:00 pm, 12 hours after I left my aunt's in Illinois.

On the way to Dayton I stopped in Decatur, IN to play a 9 hole disc golf course to break up my drive.  I will post a blog on this course separately.

Later I stopped in St Marys, OH for dinner at Beer Barrel

It was a good restaurant with good service and a nice verity of food offerings.


In Search Of New Glarus Beer

My oldest son sends me ideas on places to go and sometimes requests.

He knows I'm now in McHenry, IL and a short distance to Wisconsin.  I'm visiting my aunt for a few days so with the knowledge that New Glarus Brewing only distributes in Wisconsin, I planned a trip in the Prius to the state with my aunt.

We cross the state line from Illinois and the BP Gas Station was the first stop.  I walked in and cases of various brews of New Glarus were stacked on the floor.

My son was very specific in that he wanted Spotted Cow.  There it was!

I continued our trip to Lake Geneva for lunch with my aunt and the case of beer went for the ride.  

The case will be moved to the front passenger seat floor for the next few days until I get to Maryland where I can deliver it.

The things a father does for his beer loving son.


Thursday, April 21, 2016

GTG to McHenry, IL

In the next few blog posts I will catch you up on my travels as my most recent posts are a bit dated, having busted many places I wanted to write about and post.

I left the GTG on Saturday, 4/16/16 - (Day 104) having stayed with one other vandweller an extra night after the others moved on to another site in TN.

I was headed to McHenry, IL for a couple days to visit my aunt, who I have visited each year of my travels.

I broke the trip up by taking back roads through much of TN and all of KY.

I stopped to play disc golf in KY and decided to stay a night in a hotel in Evansville, IN, using my hotel points.

I got a suite for 8K points and I also went downtown Evansville and found a nice German restaurant and went out to eat.  On very long days of travel I may stop and eat out. I also do this more on my way home.

The next day, Sunday, 4/17/16 (Day 105)

I drove the rest of the way to McHenry and stayed Sunday, Monday (Day 106), and Tuesday (Day 107) nights.

We only see each other once a year during my return trip home so there was lots of catching up to do.


My Prius - "Living in a really small Space."

I met Dan at the GTG my first day there flying his two drones.  Both have cameras and can take video.

Dan and I have something in common in that we were both in the fire service and we were both EMT's.

I am kind of an oddity in that I'm just under 6 feet tall and I live in a Prius.  Not only do I live in my Prius, I have the same general capabilities in my Prius that I had in my Class B.

This being my second year living in my Prius, I have some engineering improvements this year that stand out.  One is my table that doesn't have legs and stores in the same space I had least year.  That's right no additional space requirements for carrying a table.

I carried my back packing table too but never used it.  My table design worked so well I will not bring the backpacking one next year.

I also designed a better water storage system and access to my clothing.

These along with some things that are less visible, my Prius living was much better.

So, Dan asked I he could video my setup and I was happy to help others looking to travel in small spaces. 

Here is the link to Dan's blog where he posted still shots and there is a link to the YouTube video.

Thanks to Dan for making this available and if anyone has questions please email me or post to this blog and I will reply.


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Little River Canyon National Preserve - Monday 4/11/16 (Day 99)

My oldest son told me that I need to check out the "Grand Canyon Of The East" in Alabama while I am here.

Searching for "Grand Canyon Of The East" brought a number of responses from Southwast states, but he was sure that it was Alabama so the Little River Canyon must be it.

I stopped in to the Visitor Center about a mile away and to the left of the bridge.

The woman ranger at the information desk gave me a map with the rim road on it showing all the turnouts to overlook the canyon.  There is no fee to enter or access the preserve.

I watched the movie about the National Preserve prior to coming to the falls overlook.

I am told that the spring is the best time to come to see the water flow in the river as seasonal changes in water flow changes the falls and river level.

The rim road takes you plast this hoodoo in the middle of the road.

The canyon is deep at about 500 feet.  The Grand Canyon in Arazona is about 5000 feet deep.

This falls is listed as seasonal so I'm glad I got to see it flowing.

I stopped at all the turnouts along the rim road and got out to look at the scenic overlook.  There isn't much parking at many of the turnouts, but being a weekday there wasn't any cars at most of them.

There is on good hike with parking that I partially hiked that goes to the bottom of the canyon to the river.  The trail is the Eberhart Point Trail. It is very steep and is popular in the summer for swimming in the river.  It is so steep that in the. Summer any cooling off you may do will be a long memory as you climb back to the top to your car.  When you stop at the Visitors Center ask for the hiking map.

I didn't hike all the way to the bottom as rain was coming east towards me and I wanted to get back to the GTG before puddles fill the pot holes on the dirt road and obscure the deep holes.  The Prius is not happy with large pot holes.

If you do ever hike to the bottom be mindful that the river level can change fast making it dangerous at times.

Although this is a nice park and a significant canyon it is hard to compare this to the Grand Canton.


Looking For The Beginning Of Appalachian Trail In Georgia

On Saturday, 4/9/16 (Day 97) after leaving my cousin's house in Notthern Georgia, I headed out looking for the start of the southern end of the Appalachian Trail.

Websites were confusing to me on how cot get to where the A.T. starts.

My decision was to go to Amicalola State Park as it has a trail listed as the A.T Approach Trail.

I arrived at the toll booth for the state park and I asked if this was where the start of the Appalachian Trail was and I got a kind of sort of yes story.  The story included the words Springier Mountain.

Since it was well approaching mid-day I figured I would pay to enter the park and see the falls and ask the visitor center for more A.T. Information.

I had a hard time finding s parking spot close to the visitor center for information on such a nice spring weekend day.

I parked up hill and walked down to get the information.  Once inside a young woman asked me if I needed help and I said I am looking for the start of the Appalachian Trail and she began the explanation.

She said the State Park where we are is the Approach Trail for the Appalachian Trail and that the actual trail starts 9 miles to the east on Springer Mountain.  I asked if this is where the A.T. market  is and she said yes.

She went on to explain that about half begin their trek on the A.T. from the campground here at the state park the rest start at Springer Mountain either walking up the 6.5 mile Forest Service Road to the top of the mountain or get a ride to the top on a so so dirt road.

She gave me the written directions to the A.T. Trailhead and that my Prius should make it up the steep dirt Forest Service Road.  The 9 miles to hike to the trailhead from here is compared to the 1.25 hours to drive to the top of Springer Mountain and then .9 miles hike to the actual start of the Appalachian Trail.

Since I was headed back to AL and the GTG I did not have the time to add this drive and hike to my day. Also I did not know if my Prius could make it up the mountain road.

So I decided to hike the A.T. Approach Trail up this mountain and see the falls.

It's a strenuous hike up the stairs there are over 200 to start.

Then you add on 425 stairs to the top of the falls.

It's a short hike that required me to take a couple breaks on the way up.

At the top it is very scenic.

At the top of the falls the A.T. Approach Trail continues to Springer Mountain.

I did not have enough time to make the now 8 mile hike to Springer Mountain, so my quest to see the A.T. marker will have to wait for another opportunity.

Above you can see the detail showing the Approach trail from the state park to Springer Mountain.

The reason I came to find the A.T. Trailhead was because I took the REI course last fall in hiking the trail and wanted to see where it started.


Gerst Haus, Evensville, IN - Dinner & Beer

After my drive up from the GTG in Stevenson, AL Saturday, 4/16/16 - (Day 104) I decided to end my day with a free hotel in Evansville, IN using my hotel points.

After checking in I decided to treat myself to dinner.  A search brought me to the Gerst Haus German Restaurant in the old section of Evansville.

There were a couple of restaurants across the street that also appeared to be popular too.

The high ceilings and Germsn artifacts gives a pleasant atmosphere.  I sat solo in a booth and had wonderful service, although my food order was misplaced the waitress immediately told me and apologized.  I was still working on my beer and checking things out so it didn't matter.

I had a locally made lager.

And the Knockwurst plate to round out my German experience.  

Here is a bit of the motif above my booth.

It was a great restaurant with excellent food and service.


Smothers Park - Owensboro, KY

Still on Saturday, 4/16/16 - (Day 104), after playing disc golf at Yellow Creek Park, and before heading for Evansville, IN for the night, I stopped at Smothers Park in Owensville, KY along the Ohio River.

It turned out to be Prom night with couples all dressed and family and friends taking pictures.  It was a beautiful afternoon with temperatures near 80.

Although the park is relatively small it looks new and people were out enjoying the spring day.  Above is the children's playground with a large fake tree with a large squirrel holding a nut.

I parked across from the Bluegrass Museum.