Sunday, November 30, 2008

The work begins

It started snowing this morning, only small crystals for now but the wind is terribly strong and cold. The snow is slowly gathering to become inches. The weather channel said this is only the beginning and it will snow all week. We have an appointment this week to get Bella winterized.

Bernie got to work today. She worked all day taking down walls, patching spots here and there, and pulling up tile. She did a run to the hardware store with Kristin to get a few more things, and then got back to work till nighttime.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Taking care of business

Today Bernie went grocery shopping with TJ and Kristin, and then they got Chinese takeout for lunch. Later we worked on a few things around the house while TJ and Kristin took the dogs for a walk. Bernie found the closest Catholic church and was able to go to evening mass. Then TJ got cheeseburgers for dinner from the best burger place in town, Kewpee, and we played games again until bedtime. While we played, Brianna (one of TJ's cats) sat on Mar's lap, it seems Brianna has adopted Mar as her mommy.

Friday, November 28, 2008


Today TJ showed Mar where the closest laundromat is so she could do the laundry.

Bernie had to rest and take it easy today, she is sore and stiff because it seems she pulled a muscle in her upper back.

For dinner we had our Thanksgiving leftovers and everything tasted even better today.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giving thanks

We spent the day preparing Thanksgiving dinner. Bernie cooked the turkey, which she had marinated in the fridge overnight. Then she made candied yams.

In the afternoon, our friend TJ made a run to the store with Kristin, and they surprised us by bringing home some green plantains. We had tried for two days to find plantains for dinner tonight but couldn’t find them anywhere. We were very happy they were able to find the plantains. To celebrate we made a toast with mojitos that Bernie made for everyone.

To complete the dinner Mar made arroz con gandules, mofongo stuffing, and flan de queso for dessert. We had two bottles of wine with dinner, one white and one red. After dinner, we played games until it was time for bed.

We truly enjoyed our bicultural Thanksgiving dinner with our new friends and ate so much, we felt like a stuffed turkey!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The town

After our first cup of coffee we got right to work. We cleaned the floors and started organizing the boxes and stuff around the house. Later when TJ got home, we had our second cup of coffee with her.

Then TJ took Bernie out to get a feel for the town so she can start learning her way around. They went to the hardware store, the grocery store, and a couple other stores. Bernie had a great time.

On their way home they picked up chicken for dinner. When they got home we had dinner and after that we went back to work. We cleaned and reorganized the kitchen to get it ready for cooking Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


We left Akron OH and drove west about three hours to Elida OH. We went to the post office to pick up our forwarded mail and then to Walmart to pick up some things for Thanksgiving dinner.

Then we headed to TJ’s house. TJ just got a job in another state so now she needs to sell her house. She bought it less than a year ago as a fixer upper and she has hired Bernie to get the house ready to be sold.

TJ is out of town so her friend Kristin let us in. We got the tour of the house and Bernie can’t wait to get started, there is a lot to do and she’ll have fun whipping the house into shape. It is a one story, three bedroom, two bathroom house with a two car detached garage, on a one acre lot.

It is nice to be here and it is nice to have a job.

Monday, November 24, 2008

More rain

While getting ready to leave today, Bernie went outside to dump and found that the traps were frozen shut. Oh boy … not good. Bernie borrowed a hair dryer from the front desk to try to thaw them out but she still could not get them to budge. We decided to just drive and hope for the best.

Through the window we had seen a bunch of rabbits. Bernie went outside to try to feed them some carrots and they came right up to her, they were not afraid at all and ate right from her gloved hand. The bunnies were so cute.

Then we disconnected and drove west towards Ohio. We drove through the Allegheny National Forest in PA and through a snow shower most of the way. We drove in low gear and under thirty mph the whole way. Lucky for us we were behind the plow truck most of the time. It sure was a pretty drive.

After leaving the Allegheny area, the roads were better, the snow lessened, but it rained constantly, it rained the rest of the way without a break.

We drove almost five hours total and finally stopped at the Camping World in Akron OH for the night. We tried to dump and thankfully, everything worked fine. All the jostling during the drive here and the slightly warmer temperature in OH, seem to have done the trick. Looks like we won’t need to have Bella’s pipes checked out in the morning after all.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

More snow

We were warm and toasty when we woke up, how nice it is to have shore power. After a hot cup of coffee we started out.

We drove to the Lumber Museum in Galeton PA about two hours away. The drive took us up and down mountains, around winding roads, through small towns, over railroad tracks, and by barns and barns and more barns. And everything was covered in snow, everywhere we looked there was snow, snow and more snow.

Finally we made it to the Lumber Museum, which consists of several buildings, none of them heated. We walked around the museum and learned all about the C.C.C. (Civilian Conservation Corps). It was started in 1933 by president F.D. Roosevelt to provide jobs after the Depression. The men made $30 a month by working eleven hours a day, six days a week.

The museum includes saw blades, machinery, clothing, and lots of pictures of life in the camps. Then we went outside to tour the rebuilt camps complete with locomotives, blacksmith shop, mess hall, and living quarters.

Then we drove about an hour to Kane PA to the Foote Rest Campground. They had plowed a site for us and this campground even has cable, perfect for a cold, cold night.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Bernie woke up extra early so she could go check out the hotel’s continental breakfast. It was slim pickings. She got a cinnamon roll for herself and a couple of biscuits for Mar. Then she went back to sleep for a couple more hours. Today we had to get up early so we could go get Bella at Camping World.

We got up with the alarm, packed, and waited in the lobby for our ride from CW.

We had to make some choices about the electrical system, it’s not exactly the way we wanted it but CW did fix it and now we have an 1800w inverter that works with four golf cart batteries.

We got back on the road and drove about two hours to Cuba NY. Mar was born in Cuba so we thought it would be fun to visit this town. It is a very small town with not much there. We found the Cuba Cheese Shoppe, where they make cheese but not Cuban cheese. We asked about Hispanic food and there are no Cuban restaurants here either. This is the strangest Cuba ever.

As we left there, Bernie saw a Catholic Church and when she looked at the clock, realized that mass was probably about to start. So we turned in to the parking lot and Bernie was able to go to the 5:30 pm service.

Next we went to the Holiday Wine and Dessert Party at the Cuba VFW. This was a Christmas toys fundraiser with raffles and auctions for beautiful wreaths and decorated Christmas trees.

After taking a quick look around the room, we headed to the Maple Lane Campground just down the road, less than a minute away. We decided to make an exception and go to a campground tonight because it has been snowing all day and it is just too cold to sleep without the heat on. The campground is completely covered in snow so the only thing available is electric. For $15 a night it is definitely worth it to sleep warm and toasty.

Friday, November 21, 2008

R & R

Today’s is Mar’s son’s 24th birthday … Happy Birthday Virgilio!

What a day, it was a day of total relaxation for us … or almost total. We had a few hours of complete confusion. This Camping World store didn't know how to proceed or what to do about the different options to fix the electrical system, so that took several phone calls back and forth.

Then the previous store where we had the system installed, called and left us a message. We’re not sure why because when we called them back they really didn’t have much to say about the situation. Then no one knows who will pick us up tomorrow to get back to the store because they have a smaller staff on weekends. It was crazy there for a while, phone call after phone call.

But today we didn’t have anywhere to go or anything to do which was very nice since everything outside is covered in several inches of snow. It was also nice to take a real shower. We had hot coffee all day and didn’t even have to get out of our pj's.

We asked the front desk for any places that deliver around here and they gave us a few flyers. We ordered two calzones, one taco and one chicken ranch. Both were so bland we could hardly eat them...

We can’t wait to get back home to Bella.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Our appointment at Camping World was at 1:00 pm. We were awakened early by a knock on the door, because the techs were supposedly ready to start. But after we got up and got dressed and went in, it still took them almost two hours before they even looked at Bella.

When the tech, Craig, inspected Bella, he told us that the electrical system is connected all wrong and it may take a couple of days to get it fixed. It is pretty cold here and we didn’t see the point in trying to juggle sleeping in their parking lot for a couple of nights so this time we decided to take CW up on their previous offer to put us up in a hotel.

The closest hotel is 25 minutes from the store so they had an employee drive us to the hotel. We are now in a Holiday Inn Express in Brockport NY and we have no transportation. We walked in the snow to the closest strip mall, which was only about a ten minute walk but in the cold it felt like miles.

The two employees at the front desk were so very nice to us. One offered us her winter coat before we went on our walk and the other one gave us her cell phone number so we could call her if the weather got suddenly worse and we got stuck somewhere.

We went to the restaurant the hotel had recommended. We found the food to be pretty bland and we were not too happy with it. But it was warm and it got us out of the hotel, so you can’t win them all.

After looking in a couple of stores we headed back to the hotel where we worked on our laptops and watched tv. For people who don’t get to watch tv we sure have had plenty of time lately to catch up with our favorite shows. I guess that’s what you do when it’s too cold to do anything else. With this extra time on our hands, Bernie decided to highlight her hair, so she has a new look.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

CW here we come

As we usually do, we had spent the night at our next day’s destination. It is a good idea that always works well for us, and it saves us time. So last night we spent the night at the Daredevils Museum so that we would already be there when we woke up.

After waking up and getting dressed in 25 degree weather, we braved the outside to find the place closed. We knew they were supposed to be open so we looked for the sign listing their hours. The sign on the window said that they’re there when they’re there and they’re not there when they’re not there. Oh well, we were very disappointed.

Then we went back to the American Falls for some daytime pictures. It was even more amazing in the daytime and perhaps even colder than last night. It was snowing by now and we discovered that snow accumulates on your head and shoulders, and it flies in your face as you walk, almost like little shards of glass hitting you. Snow can be very pretty but it is not always fun. It is darn cold here.

We then drove about an hour to the Camping World in Churchville NY, where we have an appointment tomorrow for their third attempt at fixing our electrical system.

Once we got there they let us know where the dump station and hookups were located. After dumping, we drove around the huge parking lot, through a maze of rv’s looking for the hookups. None were found. Bernie went back inside to ask and they were nice enough to send someone out to help us. We filled up our water tank, connected the electric, turned on the heat, and settled in for the night.

There is no telling how long we’ll be here this time so please keep your fingers crossed for us.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The falls

The weather is not getting any warmer. It’s not getting any colder either so we decided to hit the road today. We gathered our things, packed and prepared Bella, said goodbye to our good friend Andrea, and headed heroically north. Yes, north. You may think we are crazy (and we may think so too) but once on a journey there is just no turning back. You’re only young once … or is that young and foolish …

Before we left, Bernie went to work on freeing Bella from the snow, she got about a foot of snow off of Bella's roof. Which was not easy since there was snow and ice all over the ground and she had to be on the top step of the ladder. Scary and cold.

We drove towards Niagara Falls NY. We were a little worried about the roads but we had a great drive, as we left Erie there seemed to be less and less snow on the ground. By the time we got to Buffalo there was actually no snow anywhere we could see.

Once we got to Niagara Falls it was already dark. Dark by 6:00 pm. We parked by the American Falls and walked down to look at the rushing water coming over the falls. It is incredible, it is an amazing feat of nature. There is a light show every night at the American Falls. The water is lit with a rainbow of colors, what an amazing, powerful place.

We found the Daredevils Museum, which had already closed, and parked in their small parking lot for the night. It is already 26 degrees here. We hope our old bones can still move when we wake up in the morning …

Monday, November 17, 2008

Snow fight!

Today we got a couple more inches of snow. And as our friend Andrea explained: Bella was attacked by a big tree branch falling on her front bumper, caused either by the weight of the snow or lightning, or both. We heard a loud crack and found Bella being hugged by a heavy swag of snow-laden evergreen. Thankfully, Bella didn't suffer any bruises or scratches. Whew!

We went out to Bella to make sure all the pipes were ok and the electric was working. Once we were out there, of course we had to play in the snow. We made snowballs and ran in the snow. In some places the snow came up almost to our knees. This was Bernie's first snowball fight and she even fell down in the cold wet snow.

Andrea made us a delicious dinner of chicken a la king with cornbread. We had some great conversation and then got to watch some more of our favorite TV channels. We have to get it all in before we go back to having no TV and no cable.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The white stuff

We woke up in Andrea’s guest room to an official cold, cold day. After a snow storm with thunder and lightning, everything was covered with several inches of snow, including Bella. So our plans have changed and we will get to spend some extra time in Erie PA.

Andy and Bernie made a quick run to the Walmart down the street to pick up a couple of things. Bernie helped one of Andy’s neighbors who got his car stuck in the snow.

Later Andy made dinner for us by combining some steak stew she had with some leftover mushroom veggie soup we had, to make a wonderful comforting meal, perfect for this weather. Then Bernie made dessert, peanut butter fudge and home made ice cream. It was Bernie’s first attempt at making ice cream and it was delicious. Mar did the laundry in Andy's basement.

We plugged Bella in so she wont’ freeze and turned on the heat inside. One good thing about being snowed in is that we got to watch our favorite stations all day. Mar’s favorite is the Food Network and Bernie’s is HGTV.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Food and more food

We woke up in the parking lot of the I-X Center and the weather was awful. It was cold, it was raining sideways, and there was a lot of wind, Bella was rocking from side to side.

When the rain and wind finally slowed down so that we wouldn’t get soaked or blown away while crossing the parking lot, we went inside and got right to it, eating that is. There were so many different types of food to taste, this was really fun and it was all so good. We tasted several types of salsa, chili, cheese, dips, sauces, chips, breads, soups, cookies, rice, pasta, sausages, prime rib, fish, and several desserts.

We had only finished up two aisles when it was time for the cooking show we had tickets for. There were several food stars and we decided to see Curtis Stone, from the Take Home Chef show on TLC. He was hilarious and cooked some great, simple recipes: parmesan crisp salad, roasted chicken, and chocolate body paints. He was so entertaining we were still laughing as we left.

Then we finished walking through the food show, it took us about two hours, and when we were done we were stuffed. Before we left we had to get ready to brave the cold. The temperature was supposed to drop another 20 degrees this afternoon so we brought extra clothes in our bag. First we headed to the bathroom to add all our layers and then went out into the freezing rain, yes, it was still raining.

Once in Bella we had to decide what to do next since we hadn’t made definite plans because of the weather. There was hardly any wind and it was only raining lightly so we decided to keep going. We called a new online friend in Erie PA. Andrea had offered us a place to park so we called to see if it would be ok to get there a little later tonight. She was up for it so we drove to her place and she had baked brownies for us. We visited and kept Andrea up way past her bedtime. Shame on us. We night owls forget about that sometimes …

Friday, November 14, 2008

Mar in Mars

We went to a town today dedicated to Mar, it is Mars PA, about 15 minutes away. First we found the Mars post office and sent some packages to family so that they are stamped with the Mars postmark.

Then we took pictures of the spaceship this town is known for and also of several places named after Mar such as the Mars Laundromat, the Mars Fire Department, the Mars Public Library, and the Mars National Bank, among others.

Our visit to Mars even included getting yelled at by the Mars mayor. We had stopped along the side of the road to take a picture when the mayor, who happened to be across the street, suggested we move or we "might" get a citation. We said thank you to the mayor, took our picture quickly, and left Mars.

Then we drove about two hours to Cleveland OH for the Fabulous Food Show at the I-X Center. This is a huge show with several celebrity chefs, including Paula Deen and Curtis Stone.

We went inside to check out the place and got our tickets for tomorrow. We asked and got permission to spend the night in the parking lot. Right next door to the food show there is a free art festival so we went to that tonight. This show is a By Hand event and it had some beautiful and very original art items.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Falling Water

We toured Falling Water today, a masterpiece by Frank Lloyd Wright. This house was more beautiful, if possible, than Kentuck Knob. It is much bigger and completely built over a waterfall that you can hear from anywhere inside the house. What and exquisite work of art, definitely worth the visit.

Then we drove off this mountain with its steep grades towards Pittsburgh PA, almost an hour and a half drive. On the way there we saw a billboard for the world's largest Big Mac and remembered reading that the Big Mac Museum was in this area, so we went to check it out. We had a Big Mac for dinner to honor the museum and of course, took pictures of that big Big Mac.

When we got to Pittsburgh we went to the REI store because we’ve never been before. We wondered around wishing on what we could buy and seeing way too many fancy things we would not want to buy. Afterwards we drove around Pittsburgh to take a look.

Then we drove a little less than half an hour to the Walmart in Gibsonia PA. This store didn’t have groceries, so we went to the Shop and Save next door to do our shopping, rented a couple of movies from Redbox, and parked for the night.