Thursday, August 17, 2017

Hello, New Hampshire!


We left Bowman Orchards early on a cool, crisp morning so we could extract ourselves before the family crowds began to arrive. We had an easy drive to our next destination in Swanzey, New Hampshire.

I'd like to say we picked our next stop because of something fabulous but the truth is we picked Ashuelot River Campground because they had sites available that were out in the open. I think you know how I feel about camping under a canopy of trees and, with the prevalence of ticks on the east coast, I doubled down on my refusal to compromise.

In any case, we were headed toward New Hampshire on I-90 when suddenly the engine alarm went off. Uh-oh! I knew I had 60 seconds to get off the highway before the engine shut down. There was no turnout that I could see ahead so I eased off onto the shoulder. We were off the road, at least, but quite sloped.

We've experienced this situation once before and, at that time, we needed to add coolant. So Steven did that, thinking it would solve the problem. When we started Scoopy up, the engine light went off and there was no audible warning. Perfect! Off we went down the road and just about the time we were congratulating ourselves for fixing the issue, the engine alarm went off again. DAMMIT!

Once again we found ourselves stopped on a very sloped shoulder of an Interstate highway. It's not a comfortable place to be but at least we weren't in the road causing a major traffic jam. This time, we noticed the oil pressure gauge was very low, at about 8 percent. We let the engine cool down and Steven checked the oil level, which appeared to him to be low. Okay, we thought, let's add oil. We have always carried extra oil with us, except this time, of course.

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Yes, we were really tilted this much at the side of the road!

And we couldn't remember what kind of oil to get, so we called our friend Bill Murray who knew exactly what to get. It's always nice to talk to Bill but, in times of trouble, it's great to have him on speed dial. Thanks, Bill!

Because we were on a toll road, exits were few and far between. It took Steven nearly an hour to get to the plaza nine miles ahead, get turned around and return to Scoopy. Once the oil was added, off we went with no more alarm squeals. We arrived at our destination over 100 miles away without further incident. YAY, us! Except, when we arrived, we couldn't help but notice poor Toadiehopper was COVERED in oil spatter. The front of her was nearly black. And then we noticed the back of Scoopy wasn't looking too good, either. Oh, dear. We decided to just forget about it for now, after all, we had a week to figure out our next move.

Oily spatter on Toadie, ew!!

Soon after our arrival we received a message and dinner invitation from a couple on RVillage who lived in the area, Irv and Nancy. Irv had me at "throw something on the smoker", so we planned to meet near the end of our stay. In the meantime, Irv sent lots of helpful info on places in the area he thought were worth a visit. Steven was on his own when he went to visit Madame Sherri's Castle, the forested (that, right there, tells you why he was on his own) remains of a once exclusive mansion often visited by the upper crust of the New York fashion industry for private parties. It is exactly the kind of place he likes to photograph.

Steven’s creepy rendition of Madame Sherri’s Castle.

Together we drove the Molly Stark scenic highway from Keene to Bennington, VT. Along the way we visited the store at the Hogback Mountain summit, and the Bennington Battle Monument, an impressive 306 foot tall stone obelisk seen from nearly any vantage point for miles. The monument commemorates the Battle of Bennington, fought during the American Revolutionary War. We rode the elevator to the top and enjoyed the view.

What’s your flavor? Seen at Hogback Mountain Gift Shop on the way to Bennington.

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The Bennington Battle Monument. Thankfully, there was an elevator to the top with great views.

A Painted Moose stands guard outside the Bennington Battle Monument.

Aside from a few sightseeing trips, we mostly stayed close to home and got caught up on life stuff. It's amazing what can pile up when you ignore it all while you're out having fun. One thing we decided to do while we were in New Hampshire, which like Oregon has no sales tax, was to replace the tires on Toadie. We just did this last year right before our trip to Alaska, but we chose the cheapest, loudest, most-god-awful set of tires known to man and we couldn't wait to get rid of them. Now we can have an actual conversation and listen to music while we're buzzing around and it is blissful.

We did a few minor repairs on various things while we were at Ashuelot River Campground and had a “few” purchases shipped to the campground. When we called to confirm our arrival date, the guy said "yes, and we've hired an extra person to handle your packages." LOL! We did some cooking during our week at the campground so that we'd have meals ready to go for our upcoming travels when we would be sans water and sewer hook-ups.

Part of that cooking was preparing a couple of things to take to Irv and Nancy's for dinner. We decided bacon-wrapped, cheese-stuffed jalapenos would fit the bill along with some grilled asparagus. We made our way to their place and were warmly welcomed. Irv and Nancy are snowbirds as well as Elks members and a part of Boondockers Welcome. If you're a part of that group, there is a 50 amp plug waiting for you at their place if they are home. :)

Irv and Nancy with a big slab of meat off the smoker!

We sat outside enjoying the conversation when Nancy appeared with appetizers and, as it turns out, they had also made bacon-wrapped, cheese-stuffed jalapenos! You can never have too many of those, right? We enjoyed a wonderful dinner and afterward took a tour of their property and rig.

Then it was time for the throwdown. Girls against the boys in a game of Kubb, described best by Wikipedia as "a lawn game where the objective is to knock over wooden blocks (kubbs) by throwing wooden batons (kastpinnar) at them. Kubb can be described as a combination of bowling and horseshoes."  The boys will tell you they won but what they will leave out is that I threw the game on purpose. That's because it's not a fast game and I was being eaten by mosquitos. I have no doubt, had we played to the bitter end, the girls would have prevailed. At least, that's how I remember it.

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A competitive game of Kubb ended in smiles all ‘round (even if the boys really did win)

As we prepared to leave Swanzey and move on to our next destination, there were still a couple of things that needed attention. First, the engine. Sigh. Second, while we were boondocking at the Harvest Hosts, our inverter had overheated. We called Cummins about the engine issue who referred us to a shop in Concord, while Magnum diagnosed our inverter issue as a probable fan failure. We called the Cummins shop and were assured of "Coach Care" service, so we made an appointment for Scoopy's annual service as well as a look at her oil issue. We planned to meet up with the inverter guy a week later as we'd be passing right by his place on our way to the Boston area. That plan soon fell to hell-in-a-handbasket the moment we arrived at Cummins and were told, "Coach Care? Not here."

NEXT UP:  A Change of Plans


  1. Oh man, any alarm when we're on the road freaks me out! Reminds me we need to put some oil on board. Love Steven's creepy pic. But you may have ruined fig jam for me :-((

    Looks like a fun time and good eats - bummer about the skeeters though.

    Sometimes I think we should get triple confirmation from every shop we drive to for work about what they do and don't cover or work on! Glad most of the blips have been easy fixes.

    1. I think Cummins should hire an RVer to work with their shops and make them consistent. It's tough to try an suss them out individually!

  2. So much for eating figs, Newton.

    I bad about checking the oil also. Time to start a DDD campaign.... Departure Day Dipstick.

  3. Meat. YUMM!! So sorry to hear about the rig problems, but it did allow us to meet up with you both today for lunch! And that was really nice. We hope to see you guys again maybe in Quartzite or Oregon!

    1. Yes, there is always something positive to find in every situation! I had a feeling our paths might cross somewhere this summer, I sure didn't think we'd be in a truck yard when it happened! Great meeting up with you guys, hope to see you in the desert!

  4. You guys seem to keep a good attitude no matter what happens. We do the same, after an adjustment period/meltdown of a few minutes to few hours, LOL. It's all part of the journey and tales for the blog. Looks like a fun barbecue and game night (minus the mosquitoes).

    1. Of all the folks on the road I've followed over the years, not one escaped an unexpected stop for semi-major repairs. What has surprised me is how lucky we've been to find (mostly) great people to help. And with lots of wine, it's not too unbearable. :)

  5. Replies
    1. I love that moose, too. Years ago my Mom started collecting the painted ponies and its been fun to see how that has morphed with other animals. Bison in Yellowstone, Painted Pigs in Seattle. Lots of fun to find them in our travels.