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SUNDAY - After spending our first night at Hickory Hollow Camppground on a temporary site (due to the fact we arrived a day early) we moved to our reserved site for the next seven days while we get our second solar upgrade installed.

Our site for the first night was out in the hot sun with absolutely no shade. Not a very good environment for working on the roof of THE POD and ROVER.

Site #102 for our first night.

Around noontime we moved over to Site #75 where we will stay for the next week. It's very well shaded and sure makes the job of installing all those panels on the roof a lot more pleasant.

We don't usually spend a lot of our time in private campgrounds. But they do offer one perk that the National, State and County Parks do not, that is a discounted rate if you spend a week or more. Here you'll receive $5 a night off for staying 7 days or more, $40 instead of $45. Spending a month here will lower your nightly cost to around $26 a night and if you're wanting to stay for the entire 7.5 month season your nightly cost is around $15. That is very affordable and within just about anyone's budget.

MONDAY - Tricia resumed her morning walks today after a brief four day hiatus.

This photo of the lake was taken at the beginning of her walk. It is part of the campground that occupies a small corner of the 200 acre property that the Huston Family owns here in the very rural Laurel Highlands Region of Pennsylvania.

Tricia made two new friends while out or her morning walk. One kept running just ahead of her on the pathway and the other kept running in between her legs as she tried to walk around the campground. I'll let you figure out which is which.

Our original plan was to take ROVER out today and do some sightseeing while THE POD was having solar panels and an additional battery installed.

Fortunately, before leaving the campground, we found out both locations are closed on Mondays so we went with Plan B, we went into town and did our laundry.

After I dropped Tricia off at the Tidy Whities Laundromat to tend to the launrdy chores I had a few things of my own to take care of. While driving through town during our arrival on Saturday afternoon we went past a roadside attraction of sorts.

For no apparent reason we happened upon an eleven foot tall elephant occupying the corner parking space in front of the Eat'n Park Diner, which is located right in the center of town. I just had to go back and park ROVER next to it and take some photos.

If you pass your mouse over the photo you'll see I not only took pictures
of the "risky business end" of the elephant,
but also the other "less pleasant business end".

In case you were wondering, the sign says his name is Jackson.

After taking the photos I drove to the other side of town to the Tractor Supply Store to refill one of our three 30lb. propane tanks. It's the first time this year we've purchased propane because we've mostly stayed in parks that have electricity. That will all change next year after we upgrade our solar this week.

Almost forgot, I also had enough time to find a barber and have most of my unruly beard shaved off!

SATURDAY - Tonight will be our last night in Pennsylvania. Tomorrow morning we'll be heading back west for some repair work and upgrades to THE POD at the Airstream Factory Service Center in Jackson Center, OH. In our opinion it's the best place in the country to get your Airstream service work performed.

Instead of going into great detail about the solar upgade we just did I'll just give you the overview of what we now have to work with. I am in the process of developing a new tab page on this webiste where all of our modifications and upgrades will be listed in great detail for anyone who's interested.

We special ordered THE POD just the way we wanted it, so it came from the factory with 180-watts of solar panels, 200-amp hours of AGM batteries and a 1000-watt inverter. A modest system by all accounts and the only one that Airstream was offering at the time we purchased our trailer.

We also purchased a separate 200-watt portable panel to add to the system when needed and a propane converted 2000-watt generator.

Now we have 1000-watts of solar panels (700 on THE POD and 300 on ROVER) plus we still have the portable 200-watt panel and the propane generator. We also now have 900-amp hours of lithium batteries, a 2812-watt inverter plus the original 1000-watt inverter.

And if that isn't enough, we had a 30AMP DC to DC charger installed on ROVER to connect to THE POD while we're traveling down the road.

Like I said, details will eventually be found under our modifications page.

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For the next three days we will be repositioning ourselves across the country in order to get our solar equipment upgraded. You may be wondering why we would drive so far out of our way when there are solar installers all over the country. Well that's because we are really happy with the company, and especially their installer, from our first solar upgrade we did with them back in February of last year. Our 819 mile journey was not without drama, so read on!


STOP #225

Day 1 started out with Tricia taking this early morning photo of the fog over the Massey Marina basin while she was on her walk.

We were off the campsite by 9:00AM because we have a lot of ground to cover today. We traveled about 80 miles south in Iowa to the little town of Le Claire, just outside of Davenport.

There we filled up on gas, only 10 gallons worth, at a BP Station just before we cross over the Mississippi River into Illinois where prices jump up .25 a gallon. We are always looking to save a couple of bucks wherever we can.

We stopped at this particular gas station because located right behind it is the Antique Archaeology Store made famous by the History Channel Series, American Pickers.

They now have a second store location in Nashville, TN and we went inside to check out that store while we were there back in March of 2019. This time we skipped going inside.

We then crossed over the Mississippi River into Illinois and made it across the entire state without stopping for gas. With that success under our belts, we no sooner than crossed the state line into Indiana (my home state by the way) when I heard a loud POP.

Our TPMS (tire pressure monitoring system) instantly began making it's alarm sound and I slowed down to about 35MPH after putting on the hazzard flashers. We were less than a mile from our intended overnight stop location at the Indiana Welcome Station so I cautiously proceded up the road. There was really no better place to pull over on the side of the road anyway. There are two tires on each side of THE POD and with one flat the other should be able to support the weight for a little while.

As we pulled into the parking area we saw this sign. Great, OVERNIGHT PARKING OR CAMPING NOT PERMITTED, we'll have to deal with that after we get this tire changed.

We called the Roadside Assistance company we have coverage with and were told it would be an hour to a hour and a half before someone would arrive. It was still early and it would give us time to find somewhere else to spend the night.

If you have ever dealt with this kind of situation you'll know the first thing they want to know is are you in a safe location? I replied YES. Then what kind of service do you need? A tow, out of gas or in our case a flat tire. I replied flat tire. Then do you have a good inflated spare to put on, I replied YES. There were also about a dozen other impertinent questions, but I won't get into that.

Finally, where are you located? Here is where everything went wrong.

I told her, "We were at the Indiana Welcome Station, eastbound on Interstate 74, about a mile and a half outside of the Illinois/Indiana state line".

She wanted to know what city that was in and I told her I'm not in a city, I'm at the Welcome Station on the Interstate. She said, "Oh, now I see it on the map, the tow truck driver will call me with a new ETA when it get's closer. We went inside the Welcome Station, in the air conditioning, to wait for our call.

About 45 minutes later we got the call and he informed us he just finished a previuos call and was headed our way, should be about 30 more minutes. Okay.

Thirty minutes later he calls and says he's here in the parking lot but doesn't see us. Then he says something I don't understand, he asks if we are in the hotel? I tell him he's in the wrong place, there's no hotel here, that it's a Welcome Center Rest Area.

This time I even tell him that if he is coming from the east he will have to go into Illinois to the first exit and make a u-turn to get into the eastbound rest area where I'm located. There is no other way to get into the Welcome Center.

He says he'll be there shortly and hangs up. Meanwhile I get the GPS coordinates and relay them to the dispatcher, because the tow truck driver is not answering his phone anymore, and feel this may finally get straighted out. Nope!

The driver calls back and tells me he is on the other side of the state, some 200+ miles away, and I'll have to call back the dispatcher to basically start a new call.

I hung up the call and told Tricia we would change the tire ourselves. She said she'd like to do it so I just supervised. So after nearly three hours of waiting it took her just 27 minutes to change that tire and get us back on the road. Not too bad!

While we were waiting I located a Cracker Barrel Restaurant 30 miles up the Interstate that would allow us to spend the night in their parking lot. We arrived there in time to go inside and have a nice dinner and we also ate breakfast there the next morning.


STOP #226

DAY 2 also got off to an early start, but before we go too far we are going to need gasoline. That was not a problem because there was a station right across the street from Cracker Barrel.

Now that we've ate breakfast and filled the gas tank it's time to locate a new tire for THE POD.

Sixty miles up the road and just outside of Indianapolis (my home town by the way) we found a Goodyear Tire store and they had our tire in stock. We asked if they could squeeze us in this morning and they told us to get there and they would do their best.

Their best was pretty good because we were in and out of there in 45 minutes, which was nice because we have a long way to go before we stop for the night.

Today we drove through all but 30 miles of eastern Indiana, across the entire state of Ohio and finally stopped for the night at a Walmart Supercenter parking lot in the state of West Virginia.

When we realized we were making such good progress is our travels we called the campground in Pennsylvania to see if we could arrive a day early and get onto our site. Unfortunately our site was unavailable for Saturday night, but she did have another site we could stay on and then move us the next day to our reserved site for the week we had planned to be here. That worked for us so we booked it!


STOP #227

DAY 3 had us leaving the northern area of West Virginia and crossing into our destination state of Pennsylvania.

The width across the state of West Virginia on Interstate 70 is only 15 miles, so it didn't take long this morning to cross into the new state. Less than 100 miles later we left the Interstate behind and traveled a backroad through rural Pennsylvania to arrive at Hickory Hollow Campground.

It's beautiful country out here and we have some exploring to do after all the solar work is finished up. There is even a cave tour we missed doing the last time we were in this area, that's on the top of the to do list.

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STOP #224

"The Hawkeye State"
is our 36th visited state


The Iowa State Fair began in 1854 and has been held every year on the Iowa State Fairground since 1856. It is one of the largest and most well-known state fairs in America, which takes place over 11 days in August, encompassing more than 450 acres filled with campsites, live music stages and over 200 vendors selling food.

Today's travel day was a short one, but we did travel through three different states and we added two new state border crossings to our list.

We started our day at Blue Mounds State Park in Wisconsin. After hooking up THE POD we traveled over to the dump station to, you know, dump. While we were there a trailer pulled in behind us to make their deposit too and Tricia was soon carrying on a conversation with them.

Turns out they just purchased a newer, longer Cougar travel trailer with plans to start traveling more often and at greater distances. I guess they saw our Florida licence tag and figured we were the people to talk to. After about 15-20 minutes we left them to do their business, so to speak, and proceeded down the road.

I sure wish we would have met Georganne and Don earlier in our visit, then maybe we could have shared some time from the comfort of our rocking chairs around a campfire. We wished each other safe travels and then went our separate ways.

After traveling abount 65 miles southwest we crossed our first new state border today (WI2IL). We left Wisconsin and spent a total of about 8 minutes in Illinois before crossing over the Mississippi River into Iowa (IL2IA). While we were in Illinois we noticed the price of gasoline was about 15-20 cents higher than either Wisconsin or Iowa. Guess we will try to avoid buying any gasoline while in Illinois from now on!

Once we made it into Iowa we were only about 10 miles from our new campsite. Before we could get there we had to pass through just one more small town. The town's name seemed vaguely familiar for some reason, Key West. That's right, there is more than one Key West in these here United States. This one however does not hold a place in our hearts like the one down south.

Campsite #42 at Massey Marina and Campground County Park in Dubuque, IA.

A side channel of the Mississippi River right outside our front door.

TUESDAY - This morning we did something we haven't done in nearly two years, we went online and made camping reservations at one of our National Parks.

In 2020 we had several reservations already made at some big name National Parks in New Mexico and Colorado, but they were all cancelled due to park closures and COVID-19.

In 2021 we elected not to visit any National Parks because most of them were only partially open and not offering their Ranger led activities, some did not even have their Visitor Centers or bathrooms open to the public.

In 2022 we've decided not to keep postponing our visits, so we are starting the year off with a visit to a National Park in February. You'll have to keep following along to find out which one it is, but if you pay attention to our map it shouldn't be too hard to figure out.

Immediately after securing our reservation at 9:00AM this morning we hopped into ROVER and drove 4.5 miles to Crystal Lake Cave for our 46th cave tour.

Once again our early arrival rewarded us with a private tour of the cave. It was a short 3/4 mile tour with only a few stairs up and down at the beginning and end of the tour. There were indeed many crystals in the cave and some anthodite formations we've only seen previously in caves back in Virginia.


Most of the tour is spent negotiating long manmade passageways to arrive in the next room full of formations.
This is the crystal lake the cave is named after.
These are the very delicate anthodite formations.
This four ton rock precariously straddles over the pathway.
The brilliant white soda straw formations could be found all over the cave.

WEDNESDAY - Once again we are out and about early this morning at 7:30AM.

We have a service appointment at the Ford Dealership located 13 miles west of our camp. It's time for our 55,000 mile oil change and time to rotate our new tires.

All of this comes just in time for our big repositioning move tomorrow.

Anyone want to guess where we will popup next?
I'll make it easier for you, to win you only have to guess the correct state.
NOTE: There's a Facebook prize to win and of course bragging rights!

Speaking of guessing, I'm "not" going to tell you about the sightseeing location we have planned for after our service appointment today. Instead I'm going to give everyone a few clues about what we have planned and see who is the first person to correctly guess the answer by commenting on our Facebook Group.

NOTE: There's a second Facebook prize to win and again bragging rights!

CLUE #1 - 1989

CLUE #2 - Kevin Costner, Amy Madigan, James Earl Jones, Burt Lancaster, Ray Liotta

CLUE #3 - "If you build it, he will come."

CLUE #4 - "Is This Heaven? No, It's Iowa."

If you haven't figured it out yet, CLUE #5 should seal the deal.

All right one more clue, CLUE #6 as if you'll need it.

You only have until Saturday, August 21 at NOON to get your guesses in!

Would you like to be notified of new blog posts?

We encourage everyone
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We would really like to hear from you!

Until next time