14 December 2017

Delaware Parks in November

November camping
Kicking off November at Cape Henlopen State Park in Delaware.  We decided to knock off the last states on my "50 states" list.

We are quickly discovering that Sun, Mon, and Tues nights are quietest, with Wed and Thurs nights iffy, Fri and Sat nights wild!

Nov 1
We walk the entire Campgrounds. 3.7 miles worth, visit Fort Miles installations, and wander the beach.

Like many parks, we find their maps and signage useless. One side of a walk will have a "No dogs allowed" while the opposite does not. Other signs are faded to illegibility, or missing all together. 

Nov 2
Run with pups
Bike path is nicely paved, but beginning to decompose ... the tree roots are making it a mega trip hazard!

The girl does much better on the inside position, remember that Kira.

Take trash to dumpsters

Walk to observation towers, himself went up the open tower.

Walked to the beach by moonlight, lovely stroll, the beach to ourselves, full-ish moon above, light reflecting off the waves, and plane traffic (probably on the way to JFK).

E03 in Cape Henlopen State Park
The water threads are buggered up

But it is one of the best sites ... for now, kind of in a dropped hole, so neighbors are less visible, wide site with great tree growth inside, nicely deep for truck and Jeep parking.

However, you are right across from the cabins and a possibility for high people volume (in more ways than one!)

I took a chance, and only one cabin was occupied for one night of our stay, and yes, the kids were noisy! (But, that’s kids. They also nod off early! 😆)

Carry in/carry out parks. I cannot decide if this is marvelous or horrifying. From a dog owner standpoint, I really dislike the absence of trash cans for doggy leavings. I can imagine many owners either: forgoing pickup or leaving bags on walkways because carrying is too much trouble. As a runner who cleans up after my dogs, I dislike how running with a filled bag interrupts my pacing (not to mention the scent.)

And yet, I find carry in/carry out parks remarkably clean ... so far, anyway. Except for the doggy leavings I saw in two places on the bike path (which could have been left by wild canids, I suppose).

I was responsible regarding my trash, and (most) everyone else appears to be the same. 

10 second showers. Oh, how I dislike 10 seconds timers in the showers. And Mr. SMT thought the water was fine? I would say lukewarm, at best. Thank goodness I was still warm from a run and the day is warm.

Nov 3
Prep to move and dump! 😜 We are getting pretty comfortable with the process, forgetting fewer items, plumping out our checklists, and maybe getting through a bit faster.

I confess, the water waste annoys me. 
Mr. SMT has decided that our human waste should be automatically converted to fire bricks for campfires.

Next he’ll come up with some slingshot delivery method with wind speed compensation!

Air Command Museum in Dover
Dogs allowed!

They have a tower you can climb up into (and air traffic from the nearby field is routed through the speakers to give you that real life experience).

Our guide is a retired pilot with 50 years experience, he enjoys the pups antics, and has awesome experiences and knowledge to share. Thanks Jim!!!

Trap Pond State Park

This place is PACKED! Large park, lotsa people, lotsa dogs.

B31 - The sites are flat earth, plenty wide for the truck and Jeep, but the sites are close together. You do not get much wiggle room.

I think we have one of the quieter sites in the "loud" side. I would prefer to be closer to the tents. I’ve decided tent and/or cabin areas seem to have the least traffic.

I am still awake at midnight. Our energy balls (the curled up pups) are working overtime in the heat and the temps are hovering in the 70s, dogs are barking nearby, a car alarm is going off, camp fire smoke is pouring into the camper roof vent (inversion layer?) and a musical quartet is still playing in the next loop over (they do not appear to need sleep - vampire folk singers?).

We have found the frat party equivalent of camp grounds!!! Including a laser light show in some tree canopies.

Nov 4
Band exercises and walking pups in the am.

Drive to: Walgreens for Rx pickup, "Open Cupboard" where I had hoped to find healthy food (they are more in the supplement business), and Walmart for other groceries.

My abiding memories of DE were solidified in Laurel.

This is one flat plane of a state that strongly reminds me of the Deep South gulf coast region.

Military has a STRONG presence.

There’re a lot of churches, and signs advertising churches (and discounting evolution).

The local radio station call sign is WSUX. It PROBABLY stands for Sussex, but did anybody think about how that reads?

One of the local strip clubs/titty bars is called Whispers Bikini Lounge.  Which led to us chatting about opening a Whiskers Bikini Waxing Lounge and Bar. Buyers, guys and gals, pick their waxee (though the waxer will be a professional! No amateur hour here.) Waxee’s get free service in the group room. Hoods optional. (Should we add private rooms?) Buyers - No touching allowed. I envision that circular chair setup like they had for early Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) mass surgeries.  Can you imagine the drink names?

While driving past the Nautico Seafood sign, upright posts blocked just enough letters than Mr. SMT saw "Nauti Taco." We are approaching the dinner hour.

As with all Walmart visits, you get to see some of the lowest common denominators in your community. The women yelling at their kids, the guys yelling at their wives/girlfriends, the crush of humanity in a small space, and the dirtiest frickin parking lot. I finally put the dogs up because my girl scarfed down three different mouthfuls of unidentifiable things as we wandered along. When she went for the chicken bone, I gave up. She does not recognize "drop it!" Nor "leave it!" 

Back at the campground. People are nice, not nosy, but loud. We swear people sound like they are being tortured. I believe the alcohol is having an effect. 

Mr. SMT follows with - Once the guards finish physically torturing the prisoners, they bring out the mike and speakers, and mental torture begins ... country and western honky tonk music ( D G A D G A D G A)... loudly, of course. 

A sleep deprivation technique to break the prisoners faster.

I think I hear a Polka to sweeten the pot.

The witchy cackling across the way adds a piquant spice to the evening’s festivities.

I wonder if they will miss the 10 pm quiet hour.

Nov 5
Chat with friend traveling to the area

Run with pups

Another measure your shower in 10 seconds job. The water is warmer than Cape Henlopen, by a degree or two.

They have an "ADA" shower, but I have the sneaky suspicion it would not pass inspection. Really, fixing that shower should be top priority.

Water ... iron-y. I wonder if light colored hair types would take on an orange patina over time. Mr. SMT was unnerved by the scent. It did not bother me so much ... I am a veteran of iron scent! 

Make reservations for the next two campgrounds

Prep to leave

11 December 2017

What is with the white? And modifications to the Jeep.

New, to us, vehicles

White, white, and more white.

We live in the southern US.  It is fricking HOT in the summer.

And the spring (usually).

And the fall.

Winter is the most reasonable season in the south.  It most closely resembles spring and fall in the rest of the country (barring Hawaii).

Why would you ever buy a vehicle that will get hotter than necessary in an already hot environment?  I couldn't tell you.  I do not find black sexy, I find it sweltering.  I want a vehicle that is the coolest temperature wise.

And I get that by ensuring that it absorbs the least amount of heat from the sun (i.e. most reflective).  That color is white (or light metallics that are reflective).

So, in looking at the horrendous color offerings by Jeep this year, and the recent past, the only viable option was white.  I could have gotten a white painted top, but that was an additional $1700 from the dealership.  So I got a black top instead.  And it was burning my fingertips while I sat inside on a hot sunny day.

The interior of the hardtop is painted white.  It does not help.

My local body shop did this for me.

Half the cost and twice as pretty as the dealership's offer.  :)

This has reduced the internal temperature a great deal.  And the interior is now scorch free in the middle of the day.  Awesome!

Major modification 1, done!

We've also:

 There's a bunch of underarmor in these boxes. 

 And a new bumper, because ... towing.

Hood locks, because the engine compartment is totally unprotected otherwise.

A locking gas cap, see above explanation.

A console cover to hold and protect my sunglasses.
Because every passenger thinks the console is an arm rest.
So I can't access anything stored there.

Apparently, we will be off-roading in this vehicle, hence the under armor.  I'll believe it when I see it.  I'm not saying this will be a road warrior, but serious off-roading?  The SO got hives on a logging road in the SUV earlier this year.  Granted, it was a heavily traveled, heavily rained upon, highly pitted logging road in Oregon.  But still.  Hives.  Vapors.

The dog and I were fine.  But then again, we probably would not have had to figure out how to unstick us if we had gotten stuck.  Without a winch.  Without a shovel.  Okay, he made the right decision to turn around.

When you glance under the body, you see a pretty solid layer of aluminum shielding, thanks to lots of pennies doled out to Rock Hard 4x4.  

The thing(s) left unprotected?  The differentials ... on BOTH axles.  Because, apparently, off-roaders don't feel the need to protect the differentials.  Except for the tires and wheels, the differentials are the lowest hanging fruit.  And they aren't in line.  Oh, no.  The differentials are offset from one axle to the other.  

As a woman, I do not understand male logic.  EYE ROLL!

08 December 2017

Retirement Possibilities

After our disappointment in losing out on only the 2nd property in Oregon that we have liked and could afford (in three years of looking), we have decided to investigate other possibilities.

Our starting point is Texas, where we live now.  We have low costs for many things for various reasons ... lots of property, close proximity to a large port, few amenities on which to spend excessive amounts of money, and two successful industries: energy and medical.

As of this writing and 2012 comparison at Taxfoundation.org, TX has the 5th highest property tax, but no state income tax; tax burden of 7.6% placing it at 46th on the tax burden ranking.

The following are considered "retiree friendly":
PA - 15th highest tax burden, has high property taxes, but does not tax pensions or SS; tax burden of 10.2%.  Too many people!  We were just overwhelmed by volume.

WA - 28th highest tax burden, does not tax pension or SS; tax burden of 9.3%.  I like Washington, it is the first state on the west coast I fell for.

NH - 44th highest tax burden, 3rd highest property tax, but no sales tax and only taxes interest and dividends; tax burden of 7.9%.  Like PA, too many people.  We are looking for an area that you can maneuver through most of the year with ease.

Places I like

OR - 10th highest tax burden; one of the highest income taxes; SS exempt; tax burden of 10.3%.

VT - 11th highest tax burden; pensions taxed; SS taxed; 😢; tax burden of 10.3%.

ME - 13th highest tax burden; $6,000 pension deduction; tax burden of 10.2%.

ID - 26th highest tax burden; SS not taxed; exemptions kick in for some at 65; tax burden of 9.3%.

CO - 35th highest tax burden; $24,000 pension and SS deduction; really dry; tax burden of 8.9%.

In other words, I don't like the cheap places to live!  Tax burden 50th to 40th: Alaska, South Dakota, Wyoming, Tennessee, Texas, Louisiana, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina, Mississippi, and Oklahoma.

And Mr. SMT?  He could live ANYWHERE.  But seems to gravitate to Wyoming, South Dakota, and/or Montana.  Hm, can't we find a happy medium between "overwhelmed with population" and "no population at all?"

05 December 2017

October Driveway Camping

October 23 - 31

It is a good thing Arby is dog-friendly!

Best food ever!

Return to my buddy Arby’s place to hang out with her, her hubby, and her pups!

We visit Asia (we got to meet May!), Nawab Indian, and Griddle145 (my goodness, a breakfast place that speaks VEGAN!!!) for various meals and they are delicious!  All highly recommended.

We hit the trails for walks.

And Arby and hubby play excellent tour guides for SE PA.

Mr. SMT and I travel to Duluth Trading Company in King of Prussia (not the best of colors, but the better clothing fit for me), eat at Mi Lah in Ambler for lunch (OMG! Best vegan ever!!!), and hit LL Bean where I become the proud owner of two pair of duck boots (great color choice in women's clothing but poor fit for me).

I shopped at Wooden Bridge Dry Goods for quilting supplies. 

Hit the local JoAnn’s in Quakertown to get patterns and muslin fabric for Arby to trial those patterns ... and I got fabric for a tank and face shield for winter running purposes.

Oct 29
The shear volume of people and traffic are getting to us, more so Mr. SMT than myself. 

He needs a calm place to sit back and relax, watch the world go by.

We can: head home, head to Delaware, and/or meet up with a friend in NJ in two weeks.

We visit the National Museum of Industrial History in Bethlehem. This Sunday is rainy but warm. People are staying off the streets.

The museum is little, but fascinating. They have exhibits covering examples from the World Expo in 1873: pedal powered wood working machinery, and belt driven wood and metal working machinery.

The steel and silk industries are their main focus.

We also visit a local pet store, Chaar, for dog coats, since someone named Kira forgot to pack them!  (Oh, my, how irresponsible.)

And then it is a drive to reach 3 different grocery stores: Whole Foods, Wegmans (to return an item), and Far East (an Asian grocery store). After visiting, our bags are heavier, though our wallets lighter.

We return home, cook the pizza from Whole Foods and veg while watching TV, reading, and listening to the rain fall.

Mr. SMT confesses that he would rather have easy access to a shower, that a camper shower fills gray water too quickly. Hence the reason he is not enamored with boondocking.

We head south on Tuesday the 31st. No direction, really, except homeward-ish.