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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Beads, Greenbrier, and George Washington

On the way home we stopped for the night at Greenbrier State Park so Beth could visit a bead store with things she can’t find in Durham. Beth enjoyed seeing the beads in person at the Hagerstown headquarters of the Potomac Bead CompanyWe parked in the main parking lot downtown and wouldn't recommend it. There was an altercation amongst teenagers that quickly brought police intervention. There is parking right near the bead store with enough room for a van, so we will use that in the future. The state park had big sites in loops around central bath facilities. Trails connect the loops and make it easy to reach the small lake.

Investigating other things to do in the area we found that the first monument to George Washington had been erected by local citizens nearby back in 1827.  We visited Washington Monument State Park the next morning and made a short climb to the top of a mountain where we could see Maryland, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. The monument itself was closed since being hit by lightning earlier in the year. We could see where the surge exited the structure. If open, we could have stood on the top and had a 360 degree view of the area.  It was such a good vantage point that the Union army used it as a signal station during the civil war. The monument was just off the Appalachian Trail, so we hiked a very short section of this very long route that runs from Georgia to Maine. We learned that the trail marks on trees tell hikers which way to turn. Two lines are the mark; if the top line is to the right of the bottom line, you turn right. If they are aligned, you go straight. They had a big brown sign for us, but you can make out the white trail marks on the tree.

Lightning Damage

Turn Right to Head Towards Maine

On the A.T.

Camping Structure on the Appalachian Trail

An exhibit at the visitors center made us think of my dad and his love of chipmunks. I didn’t get a good photo, but it does show the underground nest and storage rooms of a chipmunk den. Now we know where they go with all those acorns.

Monday, September 21, 2015


Gettysburg is close to Hershey, so we decided to spend a couple of days there on the way home. The battlefield is a National Park now and contains over 1,300 monuments to the people that fought on both sides in this turning-point in the civil war. It was a somber place that pays tribute to the soldiers and serves as a reminder of the horrors of war.  The largest monument was from Pennsylvania and featured an eternal flame as “an enduring light to guide us in unity and fellowship.”
The visitor’s center museum was interesting and illustrated the major battles and the conditions under which the soldier’s lived. A film went into more depth about the battle fought there at Gettysburg. Exiting the movie we moved into a restored Cyclorama from 1883 that fascinated me as entertainment that predated cinema.  This was a giant (42 ft x 377 ft) 360 degree painting by the French artist Paul Philippoteaux. The foreground had three dimensional elements like the canon (at right) that blended into the painting. It re-enacted a famous charge in the battle by using lighting, sound and narration.  

The complex ended with Lincoln’s Gettysburg address and a life-size bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln sitting on a bench. 

Another reason for stopping in Gettysburg was Beth had won 30 days at a campground chain based in Gettysburg. We needed to attend a presentation (e.g. sales pitch) on purchasing a membership in order to claim the 30 days. It was a fine campground, but membership didn't make sense for us. We were disappointed to learn that we couldn't use our free night the same day that we attended the presentation, so we ended up scrambling to find a campground. The Gettysburg KOA had room and we were pleased to find a pleasant campground with lots of trees and even granite fire pits.

Here's a tip for Plateau TS owners; the water faucet reaches to the stove as easily as it reaches the sink. Kudos to Pleasure-way for a good design.

We found it very worthwhile taking the time to drive the park roads and visit the battle sites and memorials. There was plenty of room for the van and lots of places to pull over and read more about an event.  Our first day was sunny, giving way to clouds and drizzle on day two. Here are a few photos to give you a feel for the park.

North Carolina Memorial

Closing out this entry, we ran across an interesting RV in the visitor center parking lot. The owners were surely used to answering questions as they had posted a fact sheet in the window.

1968 Ultra Van
Produced in Hutchison, Kansas
Original Sale: August 8, 1968
One of 300 Made
200 Are Still in the United States
Built of Aluminum and Fiberglass Formica Paneling
Length: 21' 10"
Height with Vent Closed: 8' 2"
Width: 8' plus mirrors
Weight with Water and Fuel: 4,420 lbs.
Engine: 110 HP Air Cooled Corvair
Cruise Speed: 65 mph
Average Miles per Gallon: 14.5
Rebuilt: 1996-1999
Completed June 4, 1999
Sleeps 2 Adults and 4 Children
or 1-8 Adults

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Hershey Rally & RV Show

We drove to Pennsylvania to meet 45 other Pleasure-Way camping van owners at Hersheypark Campground. Over 100 people gathered to exchange ideas and see the RV show at the nearby Hershey convention center. 

Hershey is still the home of the Hershey chocolate factory. The measurement station at the bus stop made me chuckle. 

We looked at lots of RV’s at the show and came away liking what we already own more than ever. There were some interesting seminars on electrical systems, maintenance, and a few on traveling. The most interesting, to me, was about traveling to Alaska. The folks presenting drove up over the Alaska highway and returned via car ferries down the Canadian coast. He recommended skipping campgrounds and using the money saved to buy pies at the mom & pop restaurants along the way!  

Back at the campground, we did quite a bit of eating. A catered dinner the first night was followed by a second night with a pot-luck under the big tent. We volunteered to be servers which turned out to be a good way to meet other campers.

Full Line of Pleasure-Way Vehicles Were On Display

Leisure Travel President

Airstream with Boat-like Teak & Holly Floor

After a couple of days visiting the RV show in the heat of Indian Summer, (with 52,189 other people) we decided to spend the last few days at the campground. Visiting other vans gave us some good ideas for storage and system improvements.  
ProMaster Rear Screen

ProMaster Seat Organizer
ProMaster Screen

Friendly Club Greeters and Photographer

The River that Borders HersheyPark Campground

Long-time RV and Quilting Experts Shared Their Storage Techniques

 The Pleasure-Way rally revolved around food and friendship. One night was a catered meal and the next was a pot luck where owners shared their wonderful culinary skills.  We didn't lose any weight on this trip!

Bobbi & Harold; Our Intrepid Leaders with Phil

The Big Tent Where Rally Events Were Held

The Great Serving Crew Volunteers
Phil Shares Maintenance Tips
Entertainment included Bagpipes and Line Dancing
Our Campsite at HersheyPark

Air Conditioned Trailer for Grandson

Beth wanted tire pressure monitors installed so an alarm will sound if any of the tires start getting low. While we had checked them out at the show, we ran into the COO of Pressure Pro helping owners in the campground. He helped several owners with system installations and went above and beyond helping an owner repair and refill an inner dually tire on her van. We ended up buying a system and are happy to have a little more peace of mind. Jason did the install himself  neatly routing the antenna cables behind the "A" pillar and made sure everything worked before leaving. We ordered a windshield mount for the monitor and it arrived as promised when we returned home.

Beth with Jason Zaroor, COO of Pressure Pro
 The head of Pleasure-Way  service came all the way from Saskatoon and spent two days visiting vans to answer questions. That’s him in the black shirt visiting our van. He spent more time with the owner’s group than he did at the RV show.  Maybe it was because we had better food!

Phil & Friends Visit our Van

The last day at the campground we were interviewed by a couple from Sweden for an RV supplies company that was interested in learning more about how campers use their RV’s. They spent a couple of hours with us and another couple, both of which were former sailors, so we may have skewed their survey.

Our overall impression of the RV Show was that it is a great place to look at new RV's.  It was fun to be able to poke around in all the models from all the major class B manufacturers. The ability to talk with people from the actual factories could be invaluable in making a decision about what RV to buy. We were more interested in accessories and there weren't many vendors of that sort.  Would we go back to the Hershey RV show, probably not.  Would we go to another Pleasure-Way Owner's Rally, definitely yes!

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