July 9th, 2016

I enjoyed a wonderful sunset with Cindy Renee, Nani and Josh in a place called “Conneaut, OH.”  We spent a wonderful 4th together ending in a sunset on the beach.   Of course, there is no better way to spend the holiday than with Cindy, et al, but Lake Erie brought back so many memories.  The lake was calm and the sunset beautiful.  Wow!


I love the history of New England.  I thought I’d share some great photos.

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I grew up on boats.  Over the years, I have been to all five of the great lakes, but not for many years.  Three was a bit of nostalgia for me because it has been over forty years since I was last to Lake Ontario.  I have a special affection for old lighthouses on the Great Lakes.  My father grew up in a small town in the Michigan thumb.  It was a port town where both freighters and passenger liners called when he was a child.  The harbor had a lighthouse, but he never once visited it when he was growing up.  He first saw it in the 60’s when he took my brother and I to see where he grew up.

I became fascinated by the old technology and now I am drawn to visit them whenever I find one around.  Sodus Point was a great example.

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On my travels, I am always running into some interesting things.  One of those things was the Fed Ex “Custom Critical” truck I’ve been seeing when I drive.  We’ve all seen over the road, 18-wheelers, with a sleeping compartment behind the driver.  For years, trucks have provided a place for drivers to sleep so they can rest without looking for a motel room every night.  The accommodations, however, are pretty sparse.  Basically, they are nothing more than a bed and a couple of cubby holes.

I’ve seen a few trucks with larger space, but the problem is weight.  If they add a larger apartment, it reduces the load they can carry in their trailer.  Well, at least for this application, Fed Ex is doing something different.

Have a look at the large box behind the driver’s seat.  It is a much larger accommodation that includes a small kitchen, bathroom and more.  It is genuinely livable.  It isn’t as robust as my RV, but it is much nicer.  As an example, look at the roof.  there is both a satellite TV antenna and an RV style air conditioner.  So, not only is their space, there are real creature comforts.  That isn’t something you’d expect from a company truck, yet most of these FedEx “Critical Custom” trucks seem to be equipped that way.

What is intriguing is that, as you would expect, FedEx faced the same weight issues as anyone else.  In a normal configuration, a truck that size would have had a remaining load available of about 3,000 pounds, due to the weight taken by the sleeper.  Look carefully.  There are two rear axles.  That allowed them to get the usable load up to about 14,000 pounds, which is typical for a box that size.

This particular truck was driven by a husband wife team.  That really is the point.  The truck is able to run 24/7 and cover a lot more ground.  It allows them to get freight, that can’t typically be flown, to the location much quicker.  I thought it was creative.  So, while they are providing for the drivers, what they are really doing is finding a way to move ground freight more quickly while treating the drivers better.

I just thought I’d share.

Fed Ex Truck

I had the chance to stop at the Mystic Seaport when I was in Connecticut.  I’ve been doing a lot of sightseeing these days and have fallen behind sharing.  I wanted to share this  it was super kewl.

It is a restored, old village right on the Atlantic.  They have ships, exhibits and re-creations.  I really enjoyed it a lot!

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I visited the Canterbury Shaker Village while I was in New Hampshire.  I’d see contemporary Amish Settlements in the past, both in Pennsylvania and Michigan.  I had expected this to be much the same.  When I had the chance to explore, I realized how our view of some of these cultures are really very off.  while there are some similarities between the Amish and the Shakers, I found them to be very different societies.  The history of the Shakers, was really, quite fascinating.  If you ever get the chance to tour the village, it is definitely worth it!

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Yup, it’s official.  I’ve completed my trip northbound on the east coast and have now headed west.  I won’t see the Atlantic Ocean again on this trip.  When I passed the last inlet, heading west in New Hampshire, I have to admit it was a little bit sad.  I’ve been on, or near, the eastern seaboard since I hit North Carolina last fall.  I’ve always been able to look to another return to the ocean.  I’ll be back, but it will be nice to head to see new things and spend some time back at home with friends and family.

I couldn’t leave the Atlantic without one last nautical look.  In Portsmouth, NH they have a museum with an experimental submarine, the Albacore.  It was the first submarine to have a teardrop hull.  In other words, it was designed to go faster under water than on the surface.  At one time, it held the speed record underwater.  That speed is still classified.

The boat was fairly small, but quite modern inside.  It was unarmed.  Its sole purpose was to test technology.  It was, by no means small.  It was 209 feet long, but it still felt more cramped than some of the WWII subs that I toured.  It also had a very thin sail.  The accommodations were nicer than the WWII Fleet subs, but they still had to “hot bunk.”  Three men shared 2 bunks.  That was an improvement.  On older subs, 2 men shared 1 bunk.

I was disappointed.  Unlike the Nautilus, nuclear submarine, there was no ice cream machine for the men.  I wonder if they felt deprived.  Both subs were in service at the same time.

I enjoyed exploring it.  Unlike most subs, it was displayed on land.  There was a fascinating movie that showed how it was brought ashore!  As always, it was quite an engineering feat.

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I still have some photos of Mystic Seaport and the Providence Zoo to share, along with some older ones, but I came across something yesterday that I wanted to blog.  I’ll be posting more photos as I get time.

I shot at a place called the “Old Stone Church” in West Boylston.  The church was built in 1836 and is preserved today as a scenic historic site.  What is interesting is the story behind it.  I’ve posted the plaque.  The plaque talks about the construction of the church and that it was destroyed by fire and then repaired.

It goes on to talk about the Water Board awarding money and then declaring it a historic site.  What they don’t mention is that the water board constructed a reservoir.  I’ve included a picture.  What is unsaid on the plaque is that the church was built to serve the settlement.  The church was built on a hill.   The settlement is now underwater.  It was covered when the reservoir was created.  The church was no longer needed, and thus the compensation.

I thought it was an intriguing bit of history.

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So I stayed in North Strickland, RI last night.  It was actually delightful.  I got to visit a Lowes.  I bought a part I needed for the coach a week ago at Home Depot and somehow managed to throw it away.  It has disappeared.  I went into Lowes and got a replacement yesterday.  The location I stayed was just wonderful.

After I left, I needed to stop for gas.  I still had about 24 gallons, but I like to keep the coach at least half full.  I hold 75.  If we were to have a storm or other emergency, I want enough fuel for the generator to keep me going a few days if necessary.  It turns out that gas is much cheaper in Massachusetts than Rhode Island.  I found a gas station in Mass. just 2.8 miles away, that was $.25 a gallon cheaper.

I got there by driving on city streets.  I knew I was in Mass. because my GPS called out “Welcome to Massachusetts.”  I knew I was passing over, but I thought there would be some kind of sign.  When I was at the gas station, the guy next to me explained how the border is all unmarked around there and a little unpredictable.  There is a house that I passed which straddles the state line.  He actually has to pay taxes in both states.

Here is a photo I took as I was returning, southbound, back to RI to get to the freeway heading north:

State Line

I took the photo while I was still in Massachusetts.  If you look carefully at the street line, you will see it is a Rhode Island highway.

It also reminds me why I hate driving the RV in New England.  Getting from the gas station back to the freeway took me down all these narrow, winding roads.  The scary part is that they were fairly main streets.  Then it kept routing me to streets with low bridges.  I’d have to turn around and go another way and then another.  In total, I had to drive about 20 minutes out of my way to get back onto the freeway!

I’m in Connecticut now.  The state is all about maritime history.  I made two, really fun stops.  The first was at the Submarine Museum attached to the nation;s largest sub base.  They had a lot of interesting displays.  The kewlest, of course, was the Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear submarine.  I took too many photos, but I will share the interesting things.


The first thing I noticed inside was that, compared to WWII subs, it was downright luxurious!


The other thing is that, while the instrumentation looked modern, as compared to a WWII sub, it look old, when thought of today!


The size of the sub was apparent by the corridor and the hatch.  There were also two decks used for working and living with real stairs between them.  In the past, subs had one, very cramped deck with batteries underneath.


Another interesting feature was the control room on the main, upper deck.  The periscopes passed through the sail above and came down to the control room.  In the past, there was a conning tower in the sail which is now just maintenance space.  I found that to be a big improvement and quite interesting.


Another interesting thing was the 16mm projector in the crew’s mess.  They used to show movies at sea.  A film projector was quite a luxury.


I was intrigued by the “Torpedo Firing Trigger.”  It seemed too simple and too easy to just send one on its way!


The Nautilus was at the Navy’s Submarine Museum.  Hanging from the ceiling of the museum is a large model of a WWII Gato Class, Fleet Sub.  It had cutouts so you could see into all the compartments.  I’ve toured a number of them so I’ve been inside, but this does a good job of contrasting how much smaller a diesel sub is as compared to, even an early nuclear submarine.


And to contrast more, they had a model of the very first, one man sub ever created.  It was invented during the civil war.  Talk about small!.  Actually, to be fair, DaVinci came up with the idea, but it took until the Civil War until a navy actually came up with a practical one … if you can call this practical!


They also had a number of retired specialty subs.  Here are just two of them:

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If you ever get the chance, go visit the museum.  It is a remarkable place!

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