A fairly odd series of events OR Why I believe things happen for a reason

Let me tell you about a strange course of events. Many people say that things happen for a reason and I tend to agree. After you read this blog maybe you will also agree. Almost a month ago my satellite dish died. It had been limping around here and there but when we were staying near Washington D.C. it just blew a gasket. This is unacceptable because most of my favorite TV shows start up in the summer slump period (Warehouse 13, Eureka, America’s Got Talent). We had planned to take two weeks and park at a campground in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania, kinda near Gettysburg. Now that the satellite had died we started looking for the closest Camping World to take it into. Bill found a Camping World in South Jersey and so we changed our plans.

We arrived in New Jersey assuming we would be there 2-5 days tops. The dish has to be replaced and the guy tells us they get there pretty quickly so nothing to worry about. As we prepare to take the RV to a campground to wait it out we discover the transfer case in the Jeep is broken. We call the local Jeep dealers and make an appointment for Monday. Today is Thursday. So we think the part will be in on Saturday the Jeep will go in Monday and we can take the RV in Monday for the new satellite. WRONG. Monday rolls around and they want to keep Sunny (the Jeep) overnight. I felt like a mother being told my child needed to stay for observation. You can’t take my Jeep from me!

Bill gets a rental and comes home to give me the bad news. I am kinda okay since it will just be overnight? Right? WRONG AGAIN. The next evening we head out to dinner and choose a place close to the Jeep dealer so when they call we will be close so we can go pick up my baby. As we head into the restaurant (which had really great NY style pizza btw) they call and say they are going to have to order an entire new transfer case. This is a part that is highly uncommon to have break so the closest one is in Michigan. Ugh. It should be here by the weekend. Sigh.

We call the Camping World to find out about the satellite we were hoping to have installed and interestingly enough the guy at the company that was supposed to ship it was on vacation and noone checked his emails. It’s going to be another week. OY!

While in New Jersey where we had not intended to be for a month or more we drove 2 hours up to the Thomas Edison National Historical Park. We arrived on Friday afternoon with only an hour before closing and I was realizing we would have to come back to have more time. We decided to see what we can see and when we go into the Visitor Center they tell us about their special once a year “Edison Day” which is going to be… tomorrow. We find out they will be doing some special events, recording on wax, running the machine room, and the chemistry building will be open for tours. All things that on the normal day are unavailable. We of course drive back up the next day and I vow yet again not to visit a National Park without checking the website for special events. LOL

So two weeks after our simple and quick trip to New Jersey we finally roll out. We make it over to where we were supposed to be 2 weeks ago. Well fancy that the weekend we arrive is a special Festival weekend for Gettysburg that we would have missed if we had been there two weeks earlier. Cool.

We enjoy part of the Gettysburg special Festival which was a pleasant surprise. Yesterday we moved on to York, Pennsylvania known to be the Factory Tour Capitol of the US. We love Factory tours and there are just so many nearby we knew we could have fun for a week wandering factories. Find out tonight that this weekend is the fabulous York Counties 13th Annual Made in America Tour Event. There are tours available this weekend that are not available the rest of the year. Excellent.

While online this evening looking for more information about the area Bill discovers next weekend is the “Kutztown Folk Festival”. It is a huge festival held by the Amish in the area. They have an Ox roast, fresh made foods, fresh baked breads, crafts, all types of fabulous things and of course an auction. We check online and the site directly across from where we are parked today will be available on Friday and Saturday night only (mind you folks this is 4th of July weekend) the people that registered the site won’t be coming in until Sunday! I just can’t believe how perfectly this is all falling together. So I guess my rotten time in South Jersey just made it possible for me to be where I needed to be when I needed to be there to experience some really amazing stuff.

P.S. Bill is going to HATE this post but sometimes you just can’t say everything is a coincidence.


You Learn Something New Everyday

Along our travels I am pleased to say I learn something new almost everyday. We have been traveling the paths of our ancestors and learning all the things I never did in school. My history teachers would be SO proud of my extensive knowledge of American History.

For instance, when we were in Washington D.C. I learned the most devastating piece of information. While most people know that during the War of 1812 the British took Washington D.C. and burned the White House and several other buildings something you may NOT know is that they also burned a majority of what was to become the Library of Congress. To me this is a much larger outrage than burning a building. I mean who has the audacity to burn books other than Nazis? It makes me ill thinking of the thousands of books destroyed by these… terrorists! Burning of books in my mind is akin to harming small animals or children. It is just NOT to be done.

While watching the History Channel’s “How the State got Their Shapes” today I learned that shortly after the burning of D.C. the greatest recorded tornado to ever hit the D.C. area whipped through the area killing more British Soldiers than Americans had. Now knowing my facts about nature I know that often when there are large forest fires or fires of other sorts nature tries to equalize things by sending storms through so it is perfectly logical that nature was the cause of the tornado BUT personally I would like to think it was the wrath of God taking out the book burners.

Just how I like to see things. Grin

The moral of this story boys and girls is Do Not Burn Books. It’s just a bad idea.


The Pursuit of Happiness

In 1776 Thomas Jefferson wrote that among the rights men are endowed with include life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Stepping out of the corporate world, buying an RV and taking off to see the US would have to be up there on the pursuit of happiness scale. For the last couple of weeks our happiness level has not been very high. Two weeks ago I wrote a blog post ‘Sometimes you just have to say OY’. Our Jeep has been in the shop since last Monday, and Camping World still does not have the part for our satellite system.

Since we are still in NJ waiting – we decided to continue our pursuit of history which at the moment is making us happy.

Saturday we visited Philadelphia to see what many consider the birthplace of the United States – the Pennsylvania State House. The Pennsylvania State House was built to house the government of colonial Pennsylvania.  The first story of the building housed a court room and a meeting room for the legislature.  The second story contained the office of the colonial governor. When the court and legislative rooms were not needed for colonial business they lent out to others.

Between 1775 and 1783 the legislative room was the meeting site of the Second Continental Congress. It is in this room that they debated and approved the Declaration of Independence.  In 1787 the Constitutional Convention met and wrote the Constitution of the United States in the building.  As you most likely surmised the building is primarily known now as Independence Hall.

Independence Hall

Independence Hall

It was interesting returning to Independence Hall and Liberty Bell pavilion.  Thirty-seven years ago I lived in Philadelphia and visited the sites. My memory is faulty but I kind of remember the Liberty Bell being in the first floor of the hall and don’t remember having to get tickets or go on a tour to view the site. These days they only allow a certain number of people into the hall and they built a whole other building to house the bell.

Liberty Bell

Liberty Bell

We ended the day with a Philly Cheese Steak (from Geno’s) which was not at all as good as the ones I remember from Pat’s (but the line was too long at Pat’s).

Sunday we took a trip out to visit Valley Forge National Historic Park. At Valley Forge we attended a wonderful Ranger Talk given by Ranger Pete. In school everyone hears of the terrible weather the soldiers had to contend with, however in reality it was a normal winter. There was snow but not the tons of it for months that we learned in school. The conditions were abysmal and a good number of soldiers did get sick and die but mainly from poor nutrition and the unsanitary living conditions not the weather.

We also learned about Friedrich Wilhelm Von Steuben a Prussian born military officer who served under Fredrick the Great. Steuben traveled to France in the summer of 1777 where he was introduced to Benjamin Franklin. Franklin wrote a letter introducing him to General George Washington. Von Steuben traveled to the United States and arrived in Valley Forge where he took to training the soldiers to fight as a unified army not a collection of individual armies one from each state.

We kept our spirits up with our travels over the weekend and finally on Tuesday our Jeep and RV got fixed and we got back on the road again.

New Jersey Sucks…

I apologize in advance for anyone this may offend but it must be said. New Jersey SUCKS! Over a week ago we left Maryland where we had been visiting D.C. and other lovely places. We were SUPPOSED to drive up to the middle of Pennsylvania for two weeks so we could relax a little and get some things organized that we had piling up. Well we realized while we were in Maryland that the satellite in the RV is not working as well as it should so we looked up the closest Camping World called and made an appointment. Unfortunately the Camping World is in southern New Jersey. Well we would only need to be here a few days so what the heck.

We drove up and they said they wouldn’t get to it till morning so we were going to stay in their parking lot until we realize the heat index that day was 100 degrees. We decided to Priceline.com a hotel room in Atlantic City and go for some A/C in AC. Grin. We left Serenity at the Camping World and headed over. Well Atlantic City looks like the back roads of Las Vegas. It is run down and trashed up. We walked along the waterfront the first night and agreed we didn’t need to go back the next morning. We did have a fabulous meal at KWI in Caesars. We left AC to go back the Serenity to find out the dish is bad and they have to replace it so we need to wait for the parts. We were quoted 3-5 days. So we decide we would go stay in North Jersey (closer to NYC) for a week to visit a few places and then come back. When we go to hook the Jeep up to tow it there is an issue. The transfer case that transfers from 2-wheel-drive to 4-wheel-drive is not working. Crap. I look at Google Maps and find there is a Jeep Dealer four miles away. I give them a call and after being put on hold and holding for 5 minutes they hang up on me. I call the next closest about eight miles away and they can see us on Monday (today is Wednesday). Okay so hopefully the part for the RV will come in on Saturday and the Jeep and RV can both be repaired on Monday no big deal 4-6 days in South Jersey. Okay.

So we get no call from Camping World on Saturday. Monday rolls around. Bill takes Sunny over to the Jeep dealer and I expect him to be back around 3pm. I get a phone call around 11am. The dealers want to keep Sunny overnight but its warranty work so we get a free (other than extra insurance) rental so it’s not a big deal. When Bill gets home he calls Camping World to find out what’s up. They don’t know anything. WHAT?!?! They are going to call back.  Apparently the guy at the supply company that is supposed to handle parts went on vacation and no one sent the part. It may be another 3-5 business days. You have got to be kidding me. Bill gives them the what-for while I start to twitch. We extend our stay from our original 3 nights to 3 more nights.

Tuesday comes around and mid-day we head toward lunch in the direction of the Jeep dealer so we can pick up the Jeep as soon as they call. Just before lunch Bill talks to them. It’s odd…. they say… this never happens… they say… the transfer case is shot. They have to install a new one but because it is so rare the closest place that has one is in Michigan. It is still covered under our power train warranty so it isn’t going to cost us except for the ultra-expensive campground we have to stay in… in the middle of SOUTH JERSEY… for maybe ANOTHER week?!?!?! Are you kidding me? So I am trying to be my generally calm and generally content person but this is really starting to unnerve me. Tell me I have to stay two weeks nearly anywhere in the country and I could find something to do.

South Dakota has lovely badlands, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Wall Drug.

Omaha, Nebraska? There is a marvelous restaurant called Mama’s Oven Fried Chicken or something like that, there is the Mutual of Omaha, there is the birthplace of Gerald Ford’s Birthplace.

Tombstone, AZ? Well there is at least 6 different reenactments of the great gun battle.

Hell I think I would rather get stuck in Oatman, Arizona because then I could AT LEAST feed me some burrows.

No I am not stuck in these places? With interesting things to do and nice pleasant people and non-homicidal drivers…. No I am stuck in South New Jersey.

Some may say “there are lots of thing in NJ.” Well if there are I missed them. The only food is diner food. Now don’t get me wrong I do like a good diner every now and again but not daily. We visited Mr. Edison’s Laboratory TWICE. I drove through Princeton (there is no Princeton/Plainsboro Teaching School where House works… I was a little sad.) I went to the rundown ghost town of Atlantic City. I am done with the sites and Lord only knows when I can even get out of here. We won’t even mention that I have to leave the state to have decent chicken wings and that each time you LEAVE the state you have to pay several dollars in tolls. It’s a darn good thing they don’t make you pay to come into the state or nobody would every come!

Some of you that have not known me for long may be surprised by this post. Until now on this blog I couldn’t have said much negative about our great nation. I have seen the Rocky Mountain highs and the Death Valley lows. I have seen Hurricane ravaged New Orleans and the spirit of the people that refuse to give up on it. I have seen the happiest place on earth at Disneyland and the most magical place at Walt Disney World. I have seen Fort Sumter and the Washington Memorial and I have stood in awe of the wondrous surprises around every corner of this nation but the last week I have discovered the armpit. I guess every nation has to have one. To all my wonderful friends and family if you plan to visit New Jersey do me a favor and don’t or if you do please only visit for a day then you may not leave the area with the loathing I have come to have for it.

We won’t even get into the nymphomaniac ducks in the overly expensive RV park… LMAO

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.

One of the places I lived as a child was in Livingston, New Jersey. Less than 10 miles from my childhood home is the Thomas Edison National Historic Park in West Orange, New Jersey. I am not really sure how old I was the first time my parents took me to visit Edison’s Laboratories but some things stuck in my mind. Years later I returned to New Jersey from the Seattle area to attend my brother’s wedding.  One of the places I took my kids was Mr. Edison’s Laboratories.

Being back in New Jersey there were a few places I wanted to visit and of course Thomas Edison’s Laboratories was high on the list. Yesterday we drove the two hours from the RV park up to West Orange to go the Labs and his house. In 1886 Edison moved his laboratories and manufacturing companies to West Orange. By this time he was already a wealthy and successful inventor and businessman.

When asked what Thomas Edison invented most people would respond with the light bulb. He actually did not invent the light bulb, he invented the first commercially practical bulb. Thomas Edison is the most prolific American inventor holding 1,093 patents. Thomas Edison also invented the phonograph, a distribution system for electricity,  guadruplex telegraph, carbon telephone transmitter, motion picture camera, and others. He also worked on and was granted patents on things ranging from typewriters to vacuum apparatus for chemical laboratories.  He had a number of businesses including a cement business, movie studio, record studio, and the manufacture of storage batteries.

The National Park Service celebrates Edison Day in early June each year. On this day they have a number of special talks, demonstrations and events at Edison’s Laboratories and home. The Edison National Historic Park contains the largest number of artifacts of any National Park and the Laboratories and home have been preserved incredibly well showing a glimpse of what life was like at the time of Edison’s death in 1931.

We toured Edison’s Library (an amazing room with over 10,000 books), the chemistry laboratory (the finest in the land at the time), the music room (where early records were made), the stockroom (an astonishing collection of all kinds of things that could be useful in experiments), the heavy machine shop (which has been restored to working condition as we witnessed), the fine machine shop, drafting rooms, archives, and his home Glenmont.

The following picture contains (left to right, top to bottom) Edison’s Library, the heavy machine shop, chemistry laboratory, the Black Maria (movie studio). The Black Maria is the first production movie studio and was built in 1892 at a cost of $637.67.  It was built on a pivot and track that allowed a roof that could be opened to let in light move with the sun during the day so filming could continue.

Edison Laboratories

Edison Laboratories

And some pictures of Glenmont – the home of Thomas Edison in West Oranage, New Jersey.

Glenmont - Thomas Edison Home

Glenmont - Thomas Edison Home

The title of the blog today is a quote that is attributed to Thomas Edison – a man that admits he failed numerous times, but always tried again and look at what he achieved.