Thursday, January 31, 2019

Delaware - Day 30

Trap Pond State Park
Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Today has been a day of weather and blog.  I spent the day indoors and tried to catch up on my posts.

The forecast had been for snow overnight, so the only time I opened the door today was early this morning before daylight to see if it had.  It hadn't.  No snow.  Maybe later today, they say, but I doubt it.  At least, not so far.

But I can tell it's really cold outside because of my across-the-road neighbor.  He's retired Navy and wears shorts in all weathers.  I asked him if his last posting was to Antartica, and he said no, he's just always been too warm for long pants, even when he was a kid.  But today, he's not only wearing long pants and a jacket, but also heavy gloves.  I don't need to go outside to know it must be pretty cool.

The wind's been blowing hard enough to move the RV around.  And it's been thrumming.  I don't know where the sound's actually coming from, but it's the wind that's doing it.  Weird sound.

The heater's been running about half the day just to keep the inside temp up to 65°, another sign that it's chilly outside.

The forecast is for 10° tonight and 20° tomorrow with a wind chill down to the single digits, then back down to 15° overnight.  Something to look forward to for my last day in Delaware.  And I have to drive to the day care to pick up the dogs in that.  Hope the roads don't freeze and it's just the air that's unpleasant.

I couldn't decide which of these photos I liked the best so decided to post both.

I took them about 4:30.  Official sunset time is 5:23, but by then it's already dark.  You can see the sun's pretty low already.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Delaware - Day 29 - countryside

Trap Pond State Park
Tuesday, 29 January 2019

pretty, isn't he?
On our second walk this morning along the lake we saw a Belted Kingfisher who obligingly stopped on a post for long enough that I could get a good look at him.  I knew him by his call but was glad to put a face to the voice.  Then Dexter saw him and jumped and the smart bird decided it was time to leave.

today's route
I dropped the dogs off at the day care place and set off on some errands.  It’d been way too long since I last did laundry, and I went to the Cheers-type place I went to before.  Clean, good machines, pleasant staff, not wildly expensive.  Hard to beat.

While the wash was washing I went a few stores down to the Ace Hardware because I’d run into a problem: the glass lid on my stove had lost one of the screws holding it on.  There’s a hinge part-way back that allows the front of the lid to fold back on the back.  Then there are brackets in the rear that attach the top to the stove top to allow the lid to fold all the way back out of the way of the burners.  It was a screw that attached the lid to one of those brackets that had come out.


part-way open

fully open
I found the screw and part of the nut that held it on and discovered that part of the screw was sheared off and the nut had been broken to pieces.  I only found half of it.  It looked as if something heavy had whammed down on the screw and nut to break them off – but first off I’m dead certain I didn’t do that, and second how could that happen without risking major damage to the glass lid?  My own opinion is that they were shoddy parts in the first place and the act of opening the lid over and over had triggered some kind of split.

But whatever it was, I still needed to get that lid reattached.  The screw and the nut were plastic and the Ace Hardware didn’t have anything quite the same.  But the nice man that helped me came out to the RV to see for himself what I was trying to replace and then went back and picked out a screw and a nut and then a black casing for the screw to disguise from the top that it was silver and not black like the others.  The silver shows when it’s open (as you can see above) but so what.  I got a second set, just in case.

After the laundromat I went to a grocery store and this time went to a Harris Teeter Market, which has several stores in the area.  They're a small East Coast chain.  Really great store.  They had almost everything I was looking for, good produce, reasonable prices, nice staff.  Not something you can say about every grocery store.

Driving along a country road, I passed through an entire industrial area that belonged to Mountaire Co., which seems to be a very large chicken growing and processing operation.  All over the state I’ve passed what I was sure were chicken farms that had small signs by the road with the Mountaire name on them, and sometimes with cutesy names like Cheep Lodgings.  And along the road between Long Neck and Millsboro (it really was out in the country), I found a boatload of buildings and large trucks and various signs indicating various aspects of chicken processing, all with the Mountaire name on them.  So I was right.  Delaware really is in the chicken-growing business.

I stopped on the way back to the park to fill up with propane again.  I was only down to a quarter of a tank and figured it’d last overnight, but the weather forecast is ominous.  We’re expecting at least 2 days and 2 nights below freezing, so I knew I’d be using a lot of propane then.  But on Friday I leave for Maryland and wanted to fill up with propane before I left so I wouldn’t be having to hunt some down urgently in a new place when I had a reliable and reasonably priced source so near this campground.  But I’ve been told not to put in additional propane unless I’m below ¼ full and I figured the best way to guarantee I’d be down that low by Friday morning was to fill up today.  So I did.

When I got back to my campsite I filled up with water.  I’d been putting it off because of all the iron in this water, but I’ve been using my own tank for a week and knew it was getting low and didn’t want to be on an empty tank when it was freezing outside, making it hard to fill up.  I may end up out of water anyway if my water system freezes again like it did before, but hope on, hope ever, maybe it won’t happen this time and I’ll want water.  Of course, I bought several jugs of it to have just in case.

(I apologize for the weird changes in type size and spacing.  They happen when I use the word processing program I put on this computer - it's one that's free, so I live with the glitches.  I retype sections that are so weird they're distracting, but otherwise figure there's such a thing as too controlling for mental health.  Today's post is a result.)

Delaware - Day 28 - Roxana and Fenwick Island

Trap Pond State Park
Monday, 28 January 2019

today's route

I've got a reservation for the dogs to stay 2 more ights at the day care Tuesday-Thursday, so they can get a last doggy fix before we go to another state.  I don't know how long it'll take to find a day care for them in Maryland and want them to get as much play time as possible before then.

That just leaves today to take them somewhere, so I decided to go over to the beach, which I'd gone to before without them.

I passed a hog farm not far down the road from the campground, but I'd never noticed it before.  I don't know where the hogs were hiding when I've gone by before, but they were sure outside today.

I passed orchards right by a street sign for Peach Tree Lane, so I'm guessing those were peach trees.  I can only tell apple trees, and then only by their leaves (not useful this time of year), so don't have any other way of knowing what kind of trees were in the orchards.

I decided to take a route through the small town of Roxana, which got profiled on the early morning TV news because it's where the Little League's Senior League holds the Softball World Series.  That seemed wildly unlikely to me - how could a tiny town have the facilities for something like that - so decided to go take a look.

And I'm now a believer.  They've got a set-up with 9 baseball fields, some of them with pretty big grandstands, and it does indeed look like they could handle a bunch of softball games.
see? real fields

We went on to Fenwick Island, where I’d been before but hadn’t realized the first time that it really is an island. The whole town is crisscrossed with canals and houses built all along them, and to get there you cross a bridge over a very large waterway that isn’t labeled, and I can’t see anything on the map to help me out.
not-good photo of canals
the climb to the beach
nice clean beach
The beach is lovely, though, and the dogs had fun running around and wrestling in the sand.  I keep them on the leash, having no faith at all that they’d come back to me before getting in trouble.  But I’m willing to try to run with them a little, and it helps that the sand was so soft that it slowed them down as much as it did me.  Even going closer to the waterline didn’t produce hard sand, which seemed odd.

Very clean beach, no ocean debris.  Lots of broken crab shells and mussel shells, but that’s nature’s litter, not ours.  Delaware is another state that doesn’t allow vehicles on the beach.  The access points from the city streets were about a block apart all through town and were very steep.

beach houses

the fancy one
Houses all along the beach, of course, some quite new and some obviously old.  But if I owned one of those houses, I think I’d be worried about the fact that the sand dunes are as high as the 2nd story of the houses and only a few yards away.

Walking the dogs I passed one house (see right above) that was so big I figured it must be divided into multiple dwellings but couldn’t figure out how.  I asked a passerby who said no, it actually is a single-family dwelling.  He was guessing drug money or something.  It’s for sale if anyone’s interested.

We took the route back that led through the cypress swamp forest I’d seen before.  There are very large farm fields a ways before it, and they restart immediately on the other side of it.  I passed what looked like a family farm with a sign saying Murray Seed: corn, soybeans, wheat, barley.  So that’s what they’re growing in these fields when it’s not the dead of winter.

I passed a goat farm with lots of little goats – don’t know if they’re young or that’s just their size.

I passed a man walking along the edge of the road with bare feet.  He was wearing a jacket and heavy pants, but his feet were bare.  He didn’t seem uncomfortable, he didn’t try to flag down a ride.  He was just walking along.

I stopped to get gasoline and saw a man inside with a nose at least 3 times bigger than any I’d ever seen before.  Wasn’t it in Cyrano de Bergerac that we got the phrase: “A nose to invite a man to?”  Well, maybe I'm mixing that quote up with something else and, sadly don't have my Bartlett's with me, but this nose fit it perfectly.  The man looked about my age and I’ll bet he’s spent his whole life having people stare at his nose.  I tried to look in his eyes instead, to be polite.

Delaware - Day 27 - Mason-Dixon

Trap Pond State Park
Sunday, 27 January 2019

This morning I watched a squirrel gather dry leaves and take them up a tree.  I'm guessing he was insulating his home somewhere in the tree.  I saw him make 3 trips and he was very specifically gathering dry leaves, not something on the ground under them.  I don't think I've seen that before.

I took the dogs to another part of the campground for our 2nd walk this morning and saw the Pileated Woodpecker (presumably the same one I’ve seen by my campsite) pounding away on a tree.  I found him because of the noise he was making.  And then I wondered how his head is constructed to allow him to earn his living pounding away like that without wrecking his brain.  Do you suppose people who study head trauma and concussions have checked out woodpecker anatomy?  Somehow this whole species has evolved to allow them this characteristic that our own species is destroyed by.  Odd.

Before we left the park this morning I emptied the waste tanks.  The tanks themselves are heated to keep the contents from freezing (I don't even want to think about how ghastly frozen waste tanks would be) but the hose I connect to dump them with was pretty stiff from the cold.  The overnight temp was below freezing and, by 9:30, it had only gotten to just above freezing, so the hose was unhappy.  Still, everything worked, nothing cracked or fell apart (thank goodness), and I'm cleaned out for another week.

today's route
Given the weather, I didn't want to go very far today, so we went to the marker Mason and Dixon put down in their survey.  It's still there, which seems remarkable to me after more than 250 years.

Getting there was actually more of a challenge than it should have been.  For one thing, most online sites say the marker's in or near the town of Delmar, but fortunately there are a few sites that say au contraire, it's actually miles out of town right smack on a different border line.  See Delmar is like Texarkana and takes its name from the 2 states that it straddles, but that border is the horizontal line that marks Delaware's southern border.  The border that Mason and Dixon marked is where that horizontal line meets the vertical line - a corner.

So instead of hunting futilely around Delmar, I got to State St. and turned west and went to the farthest southwestern corner of Delaware.  Actually, it wasn't even that simple because Delaware hadn't bothered to mark State St. as being Rt. 54, which is what the map and everybody else said to look for.  I was actually in Maryland, seeing the Welcome to Maryland sign and seeing the street name signs written on different kinds of markers, when I figured out I'd missed something and turned around.

Even then, the road was marked as Maryland's Route 54, when the map told me it was Delaware's Route 54.  I'm pretty sure it doesn't follow the state boundary line but is instead wholly in Delaware, which didn't bother to mark it.

And I actually came across another Welcome to Maryland sign and passed it before I got to the Mason-Dixon site.  But I knew from internet sites what it looked like and could see it up ahead so knew I hadn't passed it.  Oddly, the site has a Delaware State Historical Marker on it but not one from Maryland, and yet I'd not only passed the Welcome to Maryland sign but on the way back passed a Welcome to Delaware sign across the street.  So apparently both states think the marker is in Maryland, but it's Delaware that's claiming it.  Wonder who thought this one up.

this is what I was looking for
explains the stones

the largest stone was M-D's; the smaller stones are even older

When Mason and Dixon prepared to do this survey, they not only used regular survey equipment but also a new astronomical clock to measure the movement of the stars to determine their location on the ground. This clock was transported on a mattress on a cart that had been fitted with spring suspension to keep the clock from being jolted too badly by the rough terrain. They really tried hard.

From there, back to Delmar (The Little Town Too Big For One State - pop. 1,600 in DE and 3,000 in MD), I turned left and headed north to Laurel.

I passed a huge area of grain storage buildings and a sign saying Amick Farms, Delmar Mill.  I looked it up later and learned that they buy local corn to make chicken feed.  Thos buildings were a lot bigger than I'd have thought could be filled from that area, but I've probably been misled about how much is being producd because all the bields I've seen in Delaware have been fallow.  There must be a whole lot of corn and grain grown in this state, with all the farms I've seen.

Farther down the road I passed a site being built and labeled Future Home of Proximity Malt.  Those buildings were enormous also so I looked them up and learned it's a new malt company that's billing itself as an alternative to the current North American malt market.  I didn't know there is a "current North American malt market," let alone a need to counter it.

On this one fairly short stretch of road I passed 2 Haitian churches, like the one I saw in Connecticut.  But two of them in this one small area?

I saw an enormous magnolia, reminding me once again that Delaware is on the border of the southern US.  I've also seen some succulents here and there, looking more like Arizone than my idea of Delaware.  Just shows how wrong I've been.  They haven't just been in people's gardens either - I saw some in Killens Pond State Park, and I'm pretty sure the park service didn't plant those.

Delaware - Day 26

Trap Pond State Park
Saturday, 26 January 2019

A quiet day in the campground.  The dogs spent much of the day sleeping off the excesses of 2 days at day care.

There are 3 paying customers here in the campground now (including me), and one of the others has 3 dogs.  Two of them are small, but 3 still seems a little excessive to me.  But their RV is about 30’ long, so maybe they don’t feel any more crowded than I do.

Still, with the 2 dogs owned by one of the campground hosts and the 1 dog owned by another, this park seems teeming with dogs when there’s almost nobody here.  And all the dogs seem as excitable as mine, so we all try to watch carefully that our walks aren’t overlapping with each other.

On our early morning walk, Dexter smelled something that I think must have been a raccoon and went berserk.  Both the dogs got excited when they started sniffing around a big tree, and then Dexter sniffed higher and higher on the trunk, which he never does.  Then he started sniffing along the ground as if he’d found a trail and tried desperately to follow the trail at a high speed – yeah, with me and Gracie attached.  Meanwhile Gracie ran around behind me and then tried to run ahead too, and I got seriously worried they’d pull me over and we’d have a problem.  So I cut that walk short and took them back to the RV and waited till it got lighter.  And by then whatever had gotten them revved up had gone, I guess, because they went right by that same spot without even flinching.  But it was the up-the-tree-trunk followed by the along-the-road scent-following that made me decide it must have been a raccoon.  Deer and rabbits don’t climb trees and squirrels don’t get even Dexter that excited any more.  Or maybe a porcupine or a possum?

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Delaware - Day 25

Trap Pond State Park
Friday, 25 January 2019

I had a scammer attempt to hijack my computer this morning and it was all very weird.

There I was, minding my own business, reading an article in the New York Times, when I suddenly found a red screen that wouldn't go away, and messages about how my computer was being penetrated by someone trying to get my banking and contacts information, and Microsoft wanted me to call them instantly at an 800 number.

It wouldn't let me get another screen so I could try a 3rd-party verification so I finally called the number.  I got someone with an Indian accent, which I figured could be a Microsoft outsourced tech, but it could also be a scam.  He wanted me to give him my login information and I kept saying how do I know you're legitimate when you've taken away my ability to do an independent check.  He kept saying some version of "trust me, I'm telling the truth," and I said Donald Trump says the same thing and he's not always telling the truth so why should I trust that this guy is.  I said all that in various ways over and over.

He had me call up a help window and type in an address, which got me to a T-Mobile website asking for my password.  (T-Mobile runs my hotspot.)  He didn't believe I'd typed in the right address and made me do it again, with the same result.  Then he got really ruffled and had me try another address, with the same result.  Meanwhile I kept moaning about this red screen on my computer and finally, in frustration, he handed me to someone he said was his supervisor.

This someone, also with an Indian accent, introduced himself as John and asked how he could help me.  I said I doubted if his name was John but then recapped the situation.  He said he'd been hired by Microsoft to handle tech problems and explained all that at length, and then went on for well over a full minute about how John is a very common name and lots of people are named John.  I thought that was even weirder than the situation had already been.

I told him I was sick of unsolicited phone calls from people who had clearly not been born down the street from me claiming that they were named Sally, and that I doubted he'd been named John, but I also recognized that people all over the world had a great deal of knowledge about computers that I didn't have and I was willing to believe that he was one of them.  Nonetheless, I didn't like not being able to check to see whether he was who he claimed to be, and it didn't matter anyway because if someone were really trying to penetrate my computer it wouldn't do them any good because I don't do online banking or online shopping and there's nothing at all on my computer that was worth stealing. 

He said I'd still need to get a security program installed which he could do for me, but there'd be a fee for it.  And I said I didn't want to pay for a security program, that that's why I hadn't already installed one, and anyway I didn't need it if I wasn't doing anything financial on my computer.

He said if I wasn't going to get a security program then he'd just hang up because he couldn't help me.  And I said what about this red screen that's still on my computer, are you going to get rid of that?  And he said yes he'd do that but he'd have to charge a small fee for it.  And I said why on earth should I pay a fee when he was the one who'd put it on my computer in the first place, that I certainly hadn't done it by clicking an online ad, because I never ever did, or by clicking on anything else suspect, that I'd just been reading the New York Times when it showed up.  So he said again about the fee and I said again I wasn't going to pay for it and he needed to get that thing off my computer, and he hung up on me.

So I thought it over and called my long-suffering brother who will be sorry he ever learned more than I did about computers, and told him the story.  And he asked specific questions about what address the guy'd told me to go to, and then said yep, it was a scam.  David said Microsoft would always use a .com address, not the .net address the guy'd given me.   And he said if it happens again to just turn everything off and wait a bit and turn it back on and I'd likely have my computer back.  By then, I'd turned my computer off and I turned it back on and sure enough, the red screen was gone.  David's so smart.

I remember many years ago, not long after my parents got divorced, my newly-on-her-own mother was telling me about advice she'd read on dealing with people who were trying to push her into something she didn't want.  The broken-record technique, she said, where you just keep repeating the same message over and over until they give up: "I don't want to go to that meeting.  Yes, I understand it's a good program, but I don't want to go.  Yes, I understand you'll take me but I don't want to go." 

While I was talking to the first guy and then to "John" I felt like I was doing a variation on that: "I don't want to give you my information, I don't want to pay you for anything.  Yes I understand other people want that but I don't.  No I'm not going to give you my information.  No I'm not going to pay you for anything.  When are you going to give me my computer back so I can check to be sure you're who you say you are?"  Over and over.  And it worked with them, just like it worked for my mom.

But it was really weird.

On the brighter side, there's a Pileated Woodpecker who has a favorite hole in a tree very near my RV, and he makes a serious racket when he's in the neighborhood so I know to go look for him
Not my photo, of course, but this is just what he looks like.  He's way up in the tree, but I could see that point on his head as plain as day.  That was the first thing I saw, and then his very red head.  And he was perched on the tree just like this bird and he kept craning his neck all around over and over.  I don't know what he was looking for, but he gave me a really good look at the black and white pattern on his neck while he was doing it.

I was lucky because the first time I saw him was the other day when I'd gone out to get something out of my downstairs storage and he Very Loudly announced his arrival, so I stopped to try and figure out what I was listening to.  It was dusk so the light wasn't great and he was pretty high up so it took me a while to find him.

But he's huge, which helped.  The bird book says he's 16½" and is North America's largest woodpecker, now that the Ivory-billed Woodpecker is probably extinct.  I've seen him a couple of times now, and it's really neat to have someone like him in the neighborhood.  We sure didn't have guys like him in Austin.

Lily spent part of the morning lying on the dashboard, enjoying the sunshine coming through the windshield.  I wanted to take a picture but the camera was only a few feet away from her and I was afraid she'd jump up and leave if I came close.  She has a tendency to run away if I come near where she's lying in front of the heater or on the bench seat - as if she thinks I'm going to do something to her.  But she's only been here 2 months and I suppose is still adjusting to life in a new family.  Anyway, she was happy while the sun was there.

I picked the dogs up from day care - they were as happy to see me as I was to see them - and made arrangements for a last stay for them for next week, before we leave for Maryland.  It'll be a while before I can find a day care there, so I want them to get this last chance for doggy interaction.

I actually heard someone on the BBC Newshour use the phrase "disposable nappies."

Friday, January 25, 2019

Delaware - Day 24

Trap Pond State Park
Thursday, 24 January 2019

Just as the forecasts said, it started raining during the night and didn't really let up until about 3:00 this afternoon.  At times it was coming down in sheets, with very strong wind gusts making it seem even worse.  I can't tell you how very glad I was not to have to be walking the dogs in that, and drying us all off afterwards, and hanging up towels to dry after the afterwards.

Instead, I noted first that my water system was working again, having apparently thawed whatever the obstruction was during the night.  So - Yea! - I have running water again.

Then I washed the dishes, and there were quite a few that had accumulated during that no-water period.  Even though I use paper plates like I invented them, I still had almost every piece of silverware I'd brought with me and several storage dishes that were starting to smell unpleasant.  Good thing the water started; otherwise I'd have thought about laying them all out on the ground in the rain.

Then I did some handwash to slow down the need to patronize a laundromat.  With me not having to hang up wet towels from drying the dogs, I had plenty of room and clothespins to hang everything up.

I watched a couple of old NCIS episodes and read part of a Dick Francis book and read the latest on the government shutdown and felt sick at the folly of it all and poured a drink and read some more of my book and went to bed.  Very uneventful and very relaxing.  The dogs really are high energy roommates.

Delaware - Day 23 - Methodists and Milford

Trap Pond State Park
Wednesday, 23 January 2019

During our second walk just before leaving Killens Pond, I took some photos of some trees I'd seen
but something happened to split off one of the trees
it probably once looked like this

Those conjoined trees are pretty common but I've wondered whether they're actually just one tree or 2 trees that grew so close together that they joined during their growth.  The pair on the right above make it look like they were 2 trees, but I still can't tell for sure.  At a campground a few months ago, I saw a tree that had lost half itself to lightning (the owner told me) and that split looked about as dramatic as this one.

today's route
Killens Pond is only about 15-20 minutes away from Barratt's Chapel which I've been wanting to visit, so since I'll be spending the rest of the month farther south I stopped by today.

Barratt's Chapel, the Cradle of American Methodism
John and Charles Wesley, brothers in 18th century England, founded a movement to change the Church of England by emphasizing personal faith and moral responsibility as Christians.  At first their changes were within the Anglican faith, but eventually they founded the Wesleyan Methodist Church - people who followed the methods of the Wesleys.  (Methods - Methodists - get it?)

Their beliefs gained followers in the American colonies and Methodist societies were formed here and there.  One of those places was about halfway between Dover and Milford where, in 1780, the first church specifically for a Methodist Society was built: Barratt's Chapel (named for the landowner).
Barratt's Chapel - still used for occasional services and weddings

These historical markers give some of the details of these early days.

Next to the chapel is a museum, built in 1964, that has a number of artifacts of the early days of Methodism in Delaware, including items used by the circuit riders 150 years ago.

The docent at the museum was a long-lost twin sister: she and I were born in the same year, graduated high school the same year, grew up as Methodists, had fathers who were Masons - but when I went off to college, she got married.  Still, it was interesting to talk to her.

I asked her where the name of the Cokesbury Hymnal that I grew up with came from, and she said nobody knows for sure now.  A man named Ezekiel Cooper (1763-1847) was at Barratt's Chapel when Dr. Coke and Mr. Asbury met; he was a leader in Methodism and later branched into publishing.  His Cokesbury Publishing Co. became a very profitable arm of the church.  Presumably he combined the names of the 2 men, but they don't have any information to confirm it at Barratt's Chapel.

Now, get ready for some convolutions, or skip down 3 paragraphs.  The church established here in America in the 1760s and '70s was originally called the Methodist Episcopal Church.  In 1830 a variation called the Methodist Protestant Church was established.  In 1939 they joined together as the Methodist Church.

Meanwhile, rising from the Reformed and Lutheran Churches, in 1800 the Church of the United Brethren in Christ was formed and, in 1803 the Evangelical Association was formed.  These were originally German-speaking churches, closely related to Methodists.  In 1922 the Evangelical Association merged with the United Evangelical Church (an upstart dating only from 1891) to form the Evangelical Church.  This then merged with the United Brethren in 1946 to become the Evangelical United Brethren Church.

Finally in 1968 the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church merged to become the United Methodist Church.  Which is what it is today.  (Whew.  And people expect world peace to be possible.)

There's a lot more at the chapel site, including a cemetery that was used by the original church and is still being used today.  The museum has many old books, some furniture and communion sets - lots of stuff once used in the church.

The docent also showed me inside the chapel and described the changes that had been made over the years as folks transitioned from a fireplace to woodburning stoves to central heating, and from candles to electric lights.  It's a pleasant place and I can see why people might want to have their weddings there, though there aren't any cushions on the narrow wooden seats.

Milford is less than 10 miles from the chapel, and I wanted to go back to take some photos I couldn't take last Sunday because of the weather.  So I went.

Milford dates back to the 1700s and was likely an agricultural center at first.  But from the late 1700s until just after WWII, the ship-building industry took hold.  The Mispillion River runs right through town and a number of shipyards located themselves on the river, even in the center of town.

The gingerbread on the house in the photo is common throughout town, as are much larger porches than this one.

The Salvation Army has a series of murals on the side of its downtown building, showing pieces of local history.  That's where I took these photos.
pea crop processing
Methodist church

I had to stare for a long time at the drawing of the pea crop before I could see that, what looked like bushes planted along the street were actually carts that were overloaded with plants - pea plants waiting their turn to be processed.

Old Calvary Church, as shown in the drawing on the right, burned down in 1951 and was rebuilt in the same location, which is about 2 blocks from this drawing.  The 1957 rebuild just doesn't have the same charm the original had.
ship launch

The mural on the left shows a 1900 launch of a locally-built ship.

The photo on the right shows one of the less picturesque sections of the town's riverwalk.  Most of it runs through town, which is now very spiffed up and full of art galleries and restaurants and theaters.  I wanted to take a picture of part of that but couldn't get any kind of vantage point on it. 

Milford seems small but actually has about 10,000 residents and is growing quickly, being quite near the beaches and the highways and the capitol, but not actually part of any of it.  It sounds to me like it's given up on being an industrial center for anything and going all out for tourism dollars instead.  They've got 2-hour free parking downtown, so they can't be bad.

And then ...
I took the dogs down to their day care, where Dexter predictably was overjoyed and Gracie was pretty pleased, and watched them race around and have some fun being back.  And then I left them for a couple of nights, figuring we could all use the change.

I saw that I was already back down to less than ¼ tank of propane and, never mind that the temperature tonight was predicted to be the same as during the day tomorrow - in the 50s - I figured I'd better fill back up.  I went back to the Liberty station a couple miles from the campground, where I've been before and will doubtless be again before the month is out.

Then Lily and I went to Trap Pond and got "my" campsite back, and I booked in for the rest of the month, my same friendly campground office person being on duty to squeeze me in.  There's a whole extra camper besides me here - that makes 2 paying guests.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Delaware - Days 21 & 22

Killens Pond State Park
Monday, 21 & Tuesday, 22 January 2019

It's been as cold as promised, and that seems to have led to some trouble for me.

The high temperature yesterday was 23°, but the wind chill brought it down to 2°.  That was the high.

At 6:00 this morning it was 14°, and the wind had died down quite a bit, bringing the wind chill only as low as 5° (better than yesterday's best).  The morning weather report said it was 20° warmer in Juneau, Alaska, than here.

It's been nice and sunny both days, but that doesn't seem to have made much difference as far as the temperatures go.

Yesterday we had strong wind gusts throughout the day.  Today the breezes have been much milder so it may have gotten up as far as 30°.

The bottom line is that we haven't gotten above freezing in nearly 48 hours.  Because I filled up with propane Sunday, we've had plenty of heat inside, but that doesn't seem to be enough for all the RV's systems.

I think one of the water lines has frozen water in it.

During the morning I stopped being able to pump any water to the faucets.  Since I'd just filled the water tank on Thursday it seemed impossible that the tank could be empty, but that's what the interior gauge showed and that's what the water pump sounded like.  So I tried to fill it.

For my first 4 attempts at getting water from the campground's pump into my RV, I tried different configurations of my hose and the water pressure adapter, to no avail.  Finally I decided there must be water in the hose that had frozen and was blocking the water flow, so I brought it into the cabin and put it in front of the heater for a while.  That upset Gracie.  For some unknown reason, the hose in the clear plastic box scared her and she did the best she could to get as far away from it as possible.

After an hour or so, the hose seemed much more supple so I drained it, and sure enough, water came out.  So I tried yet again and this time I got water from the outside pump into my RV.  And just as I thought, it didn't take much to fill the tank because I hadn't used much.

I tried anyway to get my water pump to work and didn't have any more luck than before.  So my latest theory is that the line that runs from the water tank to the pump has some frozen water in it, blocking the flow.  Both the tank and the pump are under the bench seats, but the tank is under the front seat and the pump is under the back seat.  The line that connects them runs along the outside wall under the table at the floor level and is covered for cosmetic purposes.  The under-seat compartments for both the tank and the pump have small openings to the outside - and I can't imagine why they aren't closed up, but they aren't.  So somewhere in that system, I think there's a frozen blockage, just like with the hose I used for the campground pump.

I have both compartments wide open right now, hoping that somehow the warm cabin air can exert enough influence to thaw the blockage.  Given the forecast temperatures, I'll leave them open overnight.  This arrangement has upset both Gracie and Lily - for some reason the upheaval, which I see as being confined mostly to me (since I can't sit at the table or watch the TV because the cushions are stored in front of it), causes near panic in two of my critters.  But I figure they'll get used to that just like they've gotten used to everything else - and in the last hour Lily's curiosity does seem to be taking over the panic.

I don't really expect this open compartment thing to work, but you never know, so I'm trying.  But I do expect salvation will come tomorrow when the temperatures are forecast to reach the 50s and stay that way for several days.  If I'm right about the frozen line bit, the warmer temps should take care of the problem.

Meanwhile, I'm taking the dogs in to be boarded for a couple of days.  It'll make things easier for all of us, I think.

We've still had some nice walks around this campground, when it wasn't so cold I could feel frostbite coming on after only a few minutes.

Yesterday I saw a Red-bellied Woodpecker who was kind enough to sit still for at least a minute, giving me a good look at him.  I didn't have a camera with me but got this photo off the internet.
Pretty, huh?
Lots of trees at this campground, though most of them are some kind of deciduous trees.  The leaves are inches thick on the ground - which has been useful in keeping the ground from being really muddy, after all the rain we had a couple of days ago.

The campsites are much closer together here than at the other 2 state campgrounds I've visited, so it's good that there's almost no one else here - only 4 of us, one of which is the campground host.

Delaware - Day 20 - Five Points for propane

Killens Pond State Park
Sunday, 20 January 2019
today's route
Even though it wasn't particularly cold this morning, I completely believed the weather forecasts that said it would be seriously cold tonight, so propane for heat became my top priority for the day.

I was aiming for a highway junction that the Lewes locals know as Five Points - from 5 roads coming together of course.  I knew from getting propane last week when I went to Lewes that an Exxon station there sells propane.  I will never willingly buy products from Exxon - left over very hard feelings after the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska's Prince William Sound (the spill was bad enough, but they didn't have any of the clean-up equipment they'd agreed to have and they performed clean-up operations in a haphazard fashion and then they tried very very hard to stiff the commercial fishermen who'd had their livelihoods taken away by Exxon's actions). 

I'll never forgive them but I seriously needed propane and didn't want to have to drive all over on a Sunday of a 3-day weekend trying to find another source, so I went back to them this morning.

On the way there, I passed a trucking company with the name Whipper Snapper Transport.  That name seemed a mis-fit so I looked it up.  The company seems to have its website on Facebook, which I can't access (I wish people who own businesses would make more business-like choices) so don't know if they explain why they chose it.  But I can say the meaning of the term doesn't inspire my confidence in the firm.

By 9 AM we were already getting blown around by some serious wind gusts, as predicted in the forecasts, and it made highway driving more challenging.

At one point I was overheaded by multiple flocks of geese flying south.  There had to be hundreds of them.  Flock after flock after flock.

I think I mentioned last week that I hadn't seen any adopt-a-highway signs in Delaware and it looked like prisoners did all the litter patrols.  Well, today I saw 2 of the signs so there are at least a few here.  But those are the only 2 I've seen so far this month.  Odd.  The state must not promote the program as strongly as other states seem to.

I drove through the town of Milford both coming and going.  Seems like a nice town - quite a few old houses with lots of gingerbread and a mansion that's now a museum that dates back to the early 1700s.  The side of the Salvation Army has a series of murals that show local events of the past.  I wanted to get photos of all this but, while I was walking the dogs, the wind picked up even more than it was before and it started raining, so I decided to come back another time with better weather.

The Milford Barbership Quartet is offering singing valentines and I wished I knew someone I could send one to.  www.capegazette/barbershop  This article is from a year ago, but I feel sure they're doing much the same this year.

I saw signs in town warning drivers: "Snow Route - No Parking After Snowfall Exceeds 1 Hour."  I think that wording is clearer than the wording I saw somewhere else a week or so ago.  Though I wouldn't have thought they'd usually get enough snow in an hour to cause a problem, but I guess they've got to cut it off sometime.

This morning when I was getting the propane I was able to stand outside in my shirtsleeves because it was comparatively warm.  But by our afternoon walk, the temperature had already fallen so much I was glad to be wearing several layers.  The wind continued to rise, making the wind chill a serious concern.  Thank goodness I got the propane so we can stay warm.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Delaware - Day 19 - Dover

Killens Pond State Park
Saturday, 19 January 2019
today's route
On the drive north yesterday, I'd noticed a business called Helen's Sausage House near Smyrna and wondered how good their sausage was.  Well, this morning I found out: there was already a line standing outside their door before 9:30.

The weather forecast for the weekend is attention-grabbing: lots of rain beginning Saturday afternoon, strong wind gusts for the next 2 days, a high temperature Sunday in the 50s dropping to a low around 20° Sunday night (not counting wind chill).  The weather people are calling it a flash freeze.  Which is why I wanted to get chores done yesterday.

Jiffy Lube
One thing still to do, though, is take care of my engine, which I've been shamefully neglecting - the last oil change was on Cape Cod.  I'd found a Jiffy Lube in Dover that said its doors were high enough to fit me in, and with the coming freeze I decided I couldn't put that off any longer, so that was my first stop.

One of the advantages of this company is that all their computers are connected so they know what work has been done before.  The staff always seems competent and plesant, and their prices seem competitive.

Historic Dover
Legislative Hall
The Old State House

Just a few blocks from the Jiffy Lube I found the state capitol building, built in 1933.  Oddly, Delaware doesn't call the building the Capitol, or even the State House.  Instead, they call it Legislative Hall.

The original capitol building, built in 1791, is still standing and is now a museum.  That one they call The Old State House.  The two buildings are back to back a block apart, separated by a large green lawn.  The old building faces a traditional village green, surrounded by many houses clearly of the capitol's vintage.

The whole area was quiet, with only 1 dog walker in sight, probably because of both the strong wind and the 3-day holiday weekend.

A walk from one to the other brought me to the Briggs Museum of American Art.  I hope you can see that the art outside the building extends into the inside: it shows a large flock of birds flying away from the tree, with the flock continuing inside, flying up to the ceiling.

Nearby these buildings was a display in honor of the USS Delaware, the first of the dreadnoughts in the US Navy.
In the background you can see the ship's bell (weighing 888 pounds) and the ship's nameplate (weighing 333 pounds).  (It's a wonder the ships could move, carrying all that weight.)

Johnson Victrola Museum
I found this place fascinating.  I was the only visitor at the time so got a personal tour of the exhibits.

Eldridge Johnson, a machinist working in the late 1800s with the Berliner Gramophone Co., figured out a way to marry the coil and governor he invented with the gramophone that had to be hand-cranked frequently to keep the sound constant, resulting in a machine that was easier and faster to crank and didn't need constant attendance.

Gramophones were then using cylinders, first made of tinfoil, then of wax, and later of celluloid.  Berliner was trying to invent a flat disc - a record - but the sound resulting from mass production was terribly scratchy.  Johnson secretly worked on his own process that greatly improved the sound quality.  He was sued in 1901 and the court enjoined him from using any variation of the word gramophone.  Two weeks later, he registered the trademark of Victor.  (No one knows why he chose that word - there are many theories, but he never explained.)
His Master's Voice
At about this time he acquired the right to use the image of a painting called "His Master's Voice," done a few years earlier and not related at all to these companies.  Johnson used this image on every product he turned out, and one result was that the dog, named "Nipper," was the most famous animal on the planet until being dethroned when Mickey Mouse was created in 1929.

gramophone with a wooden horn
A characteristic of the gramophone led to an expression we still use today.  There was no ability to lower the sound level - what came out of the horn was what you got.  (Having listened to several at the museum, I can testify that it's pretty loud.)  Gramophone users invented their own mute button: stick some socks down into the horn and the sound level is cut in half.  And from that we still have: "Put a sock in it."

In 1906, Johnson produced a gramophone that was entirely contained in a piece of furniture, with the horn concealed in a case below the turntable.  He called it a Victrola.  Owners could mute the sound in 2 ways - both by partly closing the doors where the horn was and by closing the lid of the turntable.  And from that we still have: "Put a lid on it."

Victor began expanding into many countries, including Japan in 1927 where it was called (unsurprisingly) the Victor Company of Japan or JVC.  The two companies split up during World War II (again unsurprisingly), but JVC endured and is today one of Japan's oldest electronics companies.

Also in 1929, the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) merged with Johnson's company, mostly to acquire rights to the Nipper image.  Johnson stipulated the image could be used only along with the name Victor, and RCA Victor was born. 

As the Victor company was developing, Johnson convinced Enrico Caruso to record for him - the first major star to do so.  Many others followed, but the process was limited.  There were no microphones at the time so the singer or the orchestra performed into the bell of a gigantic horn.  Caruso's voice worked well with that process, but others not so much.  Then in 1925 Johnson developed what he called orthophonic sound which used a microphone.  This allowed more nuanced performances and ultimately led to the popularity of crooners like Frank Sinatra.

This is only a part of what I saw in the museum and I didn't even make it to the 2nd floor because I'd already spent so much time on the 1st.  I'm glad I went.

By this time it was already part-way into the afternoon.  Because I hadn't been to this campground before, and because I didn't have a reservation, and because the weather was already intensifying, I wanted to get where I was going.  My plan was to find a decent site and stay there for 2 or more days until the storm had passed.

I almost immediately ran into a hitch though: I only had a quarter tank of propane left and there was no possible way that would see me through a couple of days of temps in the teens.  My plan is to brave whatever wind and rain happens tomorrow morning to get propane for heat and then dig in.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Delaware - Day 18 - the drive back north

Lums Pond State Campground
Friday, 18 January 2019
today's route
Tonight I'm intending to stay in the campground I stayed in when I first came to the Delaware.  I don't have a reservation for tonight but I can see in their website they're about as empty as they were when I stayed there before, so I'm not worried about getting a spot.

That campground has decent water that I can fill my tank with.  It has asphalt pads at each site so I can clean my windows without my stool sinking into the muddy ground.  It has wastewater dumping ability at each site so I'll have water to clean out my hose.  It has plenty of room to walk the dogs in.  And it's not far from a liquor store that, at my suggestion, started ordering Hogue Sauvignon Blanc (a Washington winery) and Teachers Scotch, so I may as well stock up on what I like and not have to settle for whatever I can find when I get to Maryland.   So with all these advantages, that's where I aimed for.

I passed a sign on the road saying Dundalk is Maryland's most caring city.  Since I'm not actually in Maryland - or even on a road heading that way, that seemed odd to me.  Now that I've located it on the map it seems even odder: Dundalk is on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay.  What on earth would they want to do with an apparently pointless sign set up in a different state?  Another sign said the "caring" part refers to the number of nurses and others in the caring professions, which makes it seem even more pointless - I'd been envisioning a bunch of friendly townspeople.

I passed another sign saying Seaford has been voted the 28th best small town in the US.  This sign has a little more point, since Seaford is a town about 10 miles north of last night's campground.  28th, huh?

Several times I've seen signs directing people to a site on the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad.  Delaware, along with Maryland and Pennsylvania, has a byway designating sites of interest on the railroad path.  Delaware was part of the Union during the Civil War, but in general people sympathized with slave owners.  But given its position on the border between the north and the south, it had an active underground railroad.  They estimate more than 3000 people came through Delaware on the way to freedom.

I knew I was near the Chesapeake when I started seeing signs saying "no fishing or crabbing from the bridge."  I didn't see many prohibitions against crabbing in Texas.

I saw a field that was hosting hundreds of Canada geese.  I've never seen as many geese as I'm seeing this month.

I heard on the radio that Australia's having a heat wave and the overnight temperature was 97°.  During the night!  Bet folks weren't getting much sleep.

I saw a license plate holder for Gregory Automotive Group: Friends don't let friends drive junk.

Arriving at the northern campground I found I could get my previous campsite back again.  Still a fair amount of snow around the campground - much more than at the southern campground where most of it had melted in the last few days.

The nice woman at the last campground told me the reason this northern one is so fancy is that it got a major renovation.  She said that before, it only had about 5 sites that had electricity and, since it's so close to the University of Delaware, it used to get a pretty rowdy bunch of campers.  But with the renovations, she said it's getting a different clientele - like me, I guess.  It is a nice place now, and they only charge $5/night more than the less distinguished campgrounds.

The dogs were happy to get to a new campsite that was nonetheless familiar, and I was delighted to get all these chores done.  We're heading down near Dover tomorrow.