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Exploring Vermont – Part One

Posted on September 2nd, 2015 by Brenda.B

Our Site At The Abel Mountain Campground In Braintree, Vermont

Our Site At The Abel Mountain Campground In Braintree, Vermont

Our Site At The Abel Mountain Campground In Braintree, Vermont

Our Site At The Abel Mountain Campground In Braintree, Vermont

As you know, we’ve been working hard on the Bott Lott all summer long. Talking to some friends of ours we found out they were heading to Vermont, a mere 6.5 hour drive from us, to explore the area and since Vermont is a state we had not seen as of yet and we had not seen our friends in a little while, we decided to take 12 days and hang out and explore right along with them.

First of all, our friends found Abel Mountain Campground in Braintree, Vermont. It is located right on a small river and centrally located which therefore made a perfect base camp for our day trips around Vermont. Run by a very nice family, they have very large sites, easily accommodating a big rig. Their sites are huge! You really are not on top of your neighbors here. There were however some downfalls that was more or less really Vermont related. They have some lovely sites by the river however, we could not get AT&T nor Verizon cell phones to work down by the waterside even in the WeBoost booster. No satellite tv either as were were too close to the mountain. Their Wi-Fi was ok when we were able to connect but that was spotty. David did try to help them and was able to see it was a combination of Comcast having issues on and off and a bad Wi-Fi access point or two. (The park owner were great and contacted there Wi-Fi “guy” and relayed his information. So we hope the Wi-Fi guy will be able to help them.)

So, we ended up moving our sites up on a hilltop area (which was a little steep climb for a big rig but doable) and we were able to get both AT&T and Verizon working and as a bonus, we were able to get satellite tv up there. LOL, though not sure how. We must have been just crossing over the tip of the mountain. As you can see from the above pictures, our satellite dish is pointing pretty much sideways. It really looked like it was hitting the mountain. Abel Mountain Campground sits between two mountains, therefore, cell service and satellite tv can be tricky. But we know the secret now is to be on the hilltop and also away from the tree line. Once we were set up on the hilltop we were mostly good to go. Just don’t move too far away from the booster when on a call. (Hint…leave phone in the booster and use your bluetooth headset.)

Here’s a video that David did of Abel Mountain Campground. You can really see the size of these sites well.

Side note: After exploring Vermont, we’ve discovered that cell service is spotty everywhere. You see, Vermont is very mountainous. Not the typical out west size mountains, but very hilly in it’s own right. So depending on where you are, you may not have service. Even going down the highway with your phone in a booster. So keep that in mind when looking to go to Vermont.

So…

Exploring Vermont…

We had 12 days to explore this countryside. Vermont is very beautiful no matter what time of year you may go. I can totally see why people would be drawn to the area in the fall for leaf peeping season. That would be incredible. We found that this time of year things were not as crowded though.

Basketville In Vermont

Basketville In Vermont

Vermont Country Store And Mildred's Dairy Bar

Vermont Country Store And Mildred’s Dairy Bar

I had some great days of exploring and shopping with my girlfriend and some days the boys joined us. Because let’s face it, what guy is going to want to go to Basketville? I apologize if that sounds fun to you but to our husband’s, they were more than happy to let us go there by ourselves and leave them to fend for themselves that day.

They were more than happy to part-take in the wine that we brought back from said store however. Yes, Vermont has wineries. This I did not know as I typically don’t think of Vermont as “wine country”. Some of their wines are the typical grape based but others are fruit based and ohhh sooo yummy. Let’s just say that our basement area of our motor home is pretty packed now and I’ll leave it at that ;)

Whats the wine you may ask other than yummy? It is a little place called Putney Mountain Winery and they produce fruit based wines from cranberries, rhubarb, etc.. There is one wine called “Cassis” that is more of a dessert wine that comes in small bottles and is, well, really, really good.  The downside, they do not ship and they also produce small quantities. Thus the amount we took back with us. (Let’s just say…by case full after case full.)

Another Vermont staple is the Vermont Country Store. You may remember your mother receiving these catalogs when you were a kid or maybe you still receive them. They were and still are very popular. There are a few locations to choose from. We ended up going to the Weston store as that was on our route after Basketville. The Weston store was a good choice. It was huge! We also planned ahead as it was lunchtime and the Weston location has Mildred’s Dairy Bar. All I have to say is…YUM! This was a great lunch stop. Great grass fed burgers and hand cut fries. Oh my! My girlfriend and I gave this a definite two thumbs up. Oh…and they have really good ice cream too. Not that I would know or anything. Wink wink. Too bad the boys didn’t want to come with us this day. They would have had a great lunch.

Bragg Farm Sugar House

Bragg Farm Sugar House

Maple Syrup Anyone?

Maple Syrup Anyone?

No trip to Vermont is complete without going to visit some sugarhouses. What is a sugarhouse you say? Well, it’s a building where maple syrup is produced.

Vermont is the #1 producer of maple syrup in the Unites States. Although maple syrup is not tapped and produced until the late winter and early springtime, you can visit these sugarhouses year round.

I highly recommend that you do. Not only do you learn about the process of producing maple syrup but you also get to taste samples.

Fun Fact: There are 4 distinct classes or grades of maple syrup. Golden Color, Amber Color, Dark Color and Very Dark Color. Some are better for baking and others are better for pancakes and waffles and such. Who knew?! Well I sure didn’t.

In our sugarhouse adventures, we went to three different places. In the taste testing of the maple syrup from each place, it was amazing to me the differences. I never really knew there was such a distinctive difference in flavor. One sugarhouse, Morse Farm, is said to be the oldest sugarhouse around. They bring 200 years experience to the table. Their maple syrup tasted nuttier to me. Not my favorite.

The next was Bragg Farm. They bring 8 generations of producers of this golden goodness. Their syrup had more of a buttery flavor. This is what, I feel, tastes best on pancakes and waffles. Yum! Of course we ended up buying some syrup from Bragg Farm.

Our last visit was to Sugarbush Farms. Located on 550 acres in mid-southern Vermont, they also produce of their own cheese (as many farms in Vermont do). In fact they were the first farm in Vermont to package their cheese in wax for easier transportation without needing refrigeration. The boys were with us on this trip and somehow we ended up buying more syrup and yes, some cheese as well. Humm…I wonder how that happened.

In hopes of not making this post too long (too late, sorry), I am breaking it up into two different posts. So this will be where I end our Vermont adventure for now.

You know the saying…

…Always leave them wanting more.

In this case, I hope you are wanting pancakes and have some great maple syrup to go with them.

I know I certainly do!

Looking For RV Security – Take a look at Piper

Posted on August 21st, 2015 by David.B

We get asked a lot about what we do for security in our motor coach. Well seeing we have full time Wi-Fi and thus access to the Internet all the time, that opens up our choices. Because of this, enter Piper.

Piper - Comes in Black or White

Piper – Comes in Black or White

Piper is a Wi-Fi enabled home security device with many features that are rolled into one small device. The main feature being a 180 degree HD video camera that keeps an “eye” on things.  Get it…. “Eye”?  It is because it looks like a big fish eye. But it also monitors the levels of the light, sounds, and motion as well as reports the current temperature and humidity levels.

You can even set modes of operation such as Home Mode and Away Modes, and it can send you alerts via Push, Text, E-Mails and even call you.

Of course all of this is done by an app on your phone or tablet. The app also is what you use to look in your your RV/Coach with real time video and what is used to playback the recorded event videos. You see, when an alert takes place, it will start a recording and send that video off site to a cloud server where it is stored. This is great, then it can be accessed from anywhere and if a thief takes or even smashed the video, hopefully you will still have something. You can also of course download the video to give to the police or insurance company or just use it on social media if you so choose. Hey, you never know, you may catch your dog or cat doing something funny while you were away.

If you so see fit, you can add accessories to Piper such as setting up door and window sensors so that Piper sends you an alert and takes action if there is a security breach. Oh…You can also do automation items for you such as turning of lights or even appliances. Note however, I am not aware of any 12 volt accessories as this device, like the RING Doorbell, was made to be used in a home. So the plug in automation items as 110V items.

BTW…All of this, cloud storage and alert services…well they are FREE. You just buy the Piper.

Now Remember…This is a Wi-Fi enabled device. So it is not much good to you unless you have Wi-Fi in your coach or RV. In cases of using these types of Wi-Fi devices, you are much advised to also be running your own internal Wi-Fi network. You can find more information on that subject in this blog post of ours. This way your devices like the Piper or the Ring Doorbell can always be connected to your own network. In turn, your network is connected to the Internet via the RV parks Wi-Fi or your own HotSpot/JetPack.

So all in all, good things do come in small packages. Not only can you monitor your coach or RV while you are away, even being able to “look in” on it, it will alert you and can be set to even sound an internal 105db siren. If you have pets…I would highly suggest turning off that siren option as 105db inside a confined space is very, very loud. Your pets would not be very happy to say the least.

Like you have come to expect, here is a short video talk I did on Piper

Piper can be found here on AMAZON.

The New York Steam Engine Show And Tractor Pull

Posted on August 18th, 2015 by Brenda.B

Steam Tractor From 1915

Steam Tractor From 1915

Steam Tractor On Display

Steam Tractor On Display

New York has a very large Steam Engine Association.

Who knew?!

The association was formed in 1960 to promote and encourage interest in the operation, ownership and preservation of antique vehicles powered by steam, kerosene or gasoline.

They have over 100 acres of property near Canandaigua, New York and this steam show and tractor pull is put on every year.

The campground owner of Southwoods RV Resort, where our seasonal site is located, enjoys a good tractor pull and he has been to this one several times as it is only an hour from Southwoods. He thought we would enjoy it as we had never been to one and it has a steam engine museum and antique tractors on display. So we decided to get outside our bubble and see what a tractor pull was all about.

Allis Chalmers Corliss Steam Engine

Allis Chalmers Corliss Steam Engine

Antique Tractors On Display

Antique Tractors On Display

First off, the steam engines were pretty cool. The Allis Chalmers Corliss Steam Engine (located in the museum building) in the above left hand picture is pretty interesting. The flywheel is 12-feet in diameter and its calculated weight is about 9.2 tons. To run the engine at full load, a 300-HP boiler is required. The engine’s maximum speed is 150 RPM.

The engine is coupled to a 2300-volt, 60 Hz (cycles per second), three-phase alternator with 50-amp output per phase. A 125-volt, d-c exciter sits behind the alternator and beside the steam engine.

This particular engine and alternator were part of the first electric power house on Mackinac Island in Michigan. The power plant was called the Chippewa unit, where the engine remained in service until about 1948.

I’m sure some of this mechanical info will be interesting to some of you. I however had to copy this info from the museum as my eyes started glazing over when I was starting to read all these facts and figures. It completely went over my head. Mechanically inclined I am not. David on the other hand found it pretty interesting and to see that this particular engine was from Mackinac Island, a place that we have visited, brought it full circle for us.

Mike Going Down The Tractor Pull Course

Mike Going Down The Tractor Pull Course

The Sled With The Weight Being Pulled

The Sled With The Weight Being Pulled

The tractor pull portion of this event took place in the late afternoon and went on into the night. Luckily our friend Mike was in the first weight class of tractors, so we didn’t have to wait to long to see him pull.

What happens at a tractor pull? Well, there are generally different weight classes. This is how heavy your tractor is. Some tractors are beefier and can pull more. Therefore, there is a scale where everyone gets weighed in and you can add some weights to your tractor if need be. Then you go into whatever weight class you are. There are several, so the tractor pulls can go for hours.

You can see on Mike’s tractor he has some weights hanging off the side of his tractor. This added weight can help with keeping your front end down on the ground. Although, when you get close to the end and your tractor is struggling with the weight it is pulling, that front end is coming off the ground no matter what.

Speaking of the weight, this is all regulated as well. There is a weight on a sled that gets hooked up to your tractor. The weight is also on a pulley system. So with every movement forward, the weight shifts forward and therefore creates more weight pushing down. Therefore, the further you travel on the track, the heavier your load gets and the harder it is to keep going forward.

It can be pretty interesting. However, we are also thankful that our friend was in the early round of pullers. If we had to sit through hours of pulling, I think it might get old. At least for us.

Antique Tractors On Display

Antique Tractors On Display

Look At The Spikes On Those Wheels!

Look At The Spikes On Those Wheels!

All in all it was an interesting day. We got to learn about steam engines and see some really interesting steam driven tractors that looked like they were right out of a Willy Wonka factory.

Oh…

And how did our friend Mike do in the tractor pull?

He took first place!

What Have We Been Up To?

Posted on August 4th, 2015 by Brenda.B

Hand Prints On Our Patio

Hand Prints On Our Patio

 

So…It’s been a while.

What have we been up to?

Well…as you may or may not know, we have been working hard on the Bott Lott (spelling intended).

It’s taking longer than expected as we have had an unusual amount of rain this Spring and Summer. So as you know with any construction project, rain delays happen.

 

We will be doing a full blog entry on the Bott Lott once we have things done and we can finally come up for air.

David has been working right along side the construction team, Mike and Bill, to get this lot finished.

David Working The Dozer

David Working The Dozer

David Driving The Dump Truck

David Driving The Dump Truck

He’s been having a lot of fun along the way learning how to drive the various equipment. He now knows how to drive the high lift, dump truck, dozer and roller and he’s learning the backhoe.

Boys and their toys. He always has a big smile on his face when he’s driving one of these beasts.

BK And Whisper Working Hard

BK And Whisper Working Hard

 

And when David is outside working hard in the 90+ degree days in the sun, you can see the cats are doing their part inside.

Rotten cats that they are (I say sarcastically). Taking naps in the air conditioning. What a tough life we have made for them.

 

 

 

David Relaxing In His Hammock

David Relaxing In His Hammock

 

 

David did take a note from the cats and has found the perfect two trees to hang a hammock. We do have lots of trees back in the area that we are in so we are shaded for a good portion of the evening.

 

 

 

We’re so glad that we found Southwoods RV Resort and that they have accepted us into there Southwoods family. We love that we will now have a seasonal site to call home.

Sunset At Southwoods RV Resort

Sunset At Southwoods RV Resort

 

It truly is a great place that’s close to our family and friends and it makes a great location to just hop on the road for a few weeks to explore and then have a permanent place to come home to.

Speaking of hopping on the road, we will be heading to Vermont for a couple weeks soon, as we have never been there. So look for those entries soon!

Hope you all are enjoying your Summer and staying cool in this brutal heat.

 

Camp-Jam With A Cajon (Ka-Hon)

Posted on July 18th, 2015 by Brenda.B

Call it a talent.

Call it a hobby.

Call it what you will.

We call it fun.

While living on the road we have come across many people with many different hobbies and talents. Whether it be photography, painting, knitting, quilting, wood working. Doesn’t matter.

It’s important to keep busy. Otherwise you’d just go stir crazy.

It’s also important to make sure it’s fun because once it no longer is fun, its just work and really…who wants that.

Now you all know that David is a very techie person. He owns and runs a few different online forums. Can trouble shoot just about anything electrically speaking. He enjoys flying his quadcopter and editing the video. More recently, within the few years, he has started designing and installing W-Fi networks for various campgrounds we come across that are in dire need. And let’s face it, there are a lot of campgrounds out there that need Wi-Fi help. That however is a whole other conversation for another time.

But with all of that going on, David found a hobby/talent that is on the total opposite spectrum of technology.

Jam Session Around The Campfire

Jam Session Around The Campfire

 

 

 

It’s called a Cajon. Pronounced… “Ka-hon”

What is a Cajon you may ask?

Well, without getting too technical, it’s a drum that is usually made out of wood that you sit on. It has guitar strings or something else inside it that you can adjust based on the sound you would like. Depending on where you hit the Cajon it will make sounds like a snare, bass and everything in between.

 

 

 

 

 

Jamming Around The Campfire

Jamming Around The Campfire

 

 

It’s small enough that it travels very nicely. We all love things that can serve as a dual purpose. This can be used as an extra seat if need be. It’s also great for an impromptu campfire jam. We call it a “Camp-Jam”.

Even better when you get invited to play at the campground social hour with the band!

 

 

Playing With The Band During Campground Social Hour Poolside

Playing With The Band During Campground Social Hour Poolside

 

 

The guys, Ryan and Reynold, enjoyed David’s playing so much around the campfire that they asked him to play with them at the poolside social hour for the campground that weekend. David was smiling from ear to ear.

 

 

 

 

So, is he having fun?

YES!

And that’s really the important factor in all of this.

Plus, now I can be a groupie and go home with the drummer!

Here’s a short video that I took from my prime front row seating at the poolside jam at Southwoods.

Video Doorbell For An RV? You Betcha!

Posted on July 6th, 2015 by David.B

Ring Video Doorbell

Ok, you must know by now I am a gadget guy and love my little electronic gizmos. So maybe it would be a shock for you to hear me say I installed a doorbell on our coach. Yawn! However it should come as no surprise that this is not an ordinary doorbell, oh no, nope! It’s a Wi-Fi video doorbell. I know what you are saying “Come on Dave, get out!?!?!” No I will not get out. In fact I am going to tell you more about it.

 

ring_image

Ring Wi-Fi Video Doorbell

The Ring Video Doorbell is actually made for use on a house to replace your current traditional doorbell. But seeing we live in a motor coach, I had to of course install one. Hey, after all, it is our “house”. The best news to me was that it actually can run on it’s internal, rechargeable, battery! Yup…That means no wires need to be run or holes made in the coach. The batteries recharge via USB port and last for a very, very, long time. I have had this installed for over two months now and the battery is still at 85%!

What does it do you may ask? Well, when someone presses the button, it rings an app on your smartphone (Android or iPhone). From that app you can see the person at your door no matter if you are home or not. If you care to then chat with the person, you can do that via it’s built in speaker and mic. Even if you choose not to, it records the video onto a cloud storage area. Now the service does cost for the storage, however it is only $30 a year. (That’s cheap.) So that means even if you miss the call, your still get a video of anyone that pays a visit.

It even has motion sensitive areas. So you can setup zones for it to watch for motion and if detected, it will send you an alert and record the video. We do not do this however, for we do not need it to send us a notice and make a video every time we go in and out of the coach.

All in all, here is a video I did talking a little about it and showing you how it works on our coach.

Purchase online on Amazon HERE and find out more about it from manufacturer HERE.