Scusset Beach Campground (11.01.2015)
We were up earlier than expected this morning after turning our clocks back an hour. The temperature was mild last night: 50 degrees outside and 57 degrees inside before we fired up the heater. Our electric mattress pad set on low is enough to keep us toasty at freezing temps. With heated restrooms and unlimited hot water, this campground was great. Once again being off season, the campground was very sparsely populated. We did meet a number of couples and dogs on our walks.
The skies were overcast this morning with intermittent rain drops striking the windshield as we drove off. There was nobody collecting fees both on the way in and on the way out. We headed further east on SR 6 toward Marconi Station and White Cedar Swamp. Terry, a good friend of Ed and Jean, told us to see the swamp if we visit Cape Cod and off we went.
Marconi Station and White Cedar Swamp
It is worth stopping at Marconi Station just for the history. The first transatlantic radio broadcast was transmitted from Poldhu on the coast of Cromwell England and received at Marconi Station, Wellfield Ma. Thoreau’s comment about Cape Cod inspired Marconi to setup a receiver there and in Maine. More information on Marconi Station
The visitor center was closed. I put the keys in the ignition, keeping my eye on a bicyclist riding toward us. The rider circled back to check out our license plate and rode over to the window. “Hi, do you need information?”, asked Bob Spiegleman. “No” I said initially, then thought better of it and added, “But there’s a wooden walkway through a swamp near by. Do you know how long the walk is?” That started a long conversation about Marconi, the swamp, steamers, did we rent our RV, wives and husbands with different last names. We had a good long conversation.
The White Cedar Swamp entrance is three quarters around the parking lot at Marconi Station. There’s nothing there now, erosion and storms took the towers. Bob mentioned friends with different last names who gave one child one last name and the other, the other. Or a couple whose last names were golden and brownmantle. They both changed their last name to champagne, a color mid way between brown and golden.
Bob also mentioned that there was a 100th year anniversary for the Titanic. The SOS transmitted from the Titanic was received here at Marconi Station. The station contacted a boat in the vicinity which saved a number of people.
We walked the bluffs where Marconi’s receiver once stood and walked off toward the swamp. The first few hundred yards are not remarkable, but as the scrub forest grows and the light is filtered by the leaves, the walk takes on a ethereal sense of peace.
Two equestrians riding beautiful muscular horses trotted by on the trail. A bit further on, the trail through the scrub forest crosses a dirt road and winds onto a raised walkway over a swamp. The trees change from wind blown scrub and dwarf pines to tall white cedar. This cedar must love having its “toes” wet. The White Cedar Forest thrives in the swamp. Cedar is a pine; the needles do not change color in the fall. Now and then a maple towers above the cedars with bright yellows and reds. As wonderful as walking the swamp was, to see it in peak foliage would be more so.
We had asked Bob about steamers. Most everything is closed now, he suggested cook’s or Cookies in Orleans. Climbing aboard The Beast, we both mentioned being hungry. Should we push on to Provincetown or head back to Orleans? We chose to drive to the fist of the cape. It’s not that much further and we should find lunch there, perhaps some steamers.
P-town was “happening” The street we drove in on led to a parking lot right on the bay. Before crossing toward the lot, I had to wait for a number of groups to walk past. They walked everywhere; on the sidewalk or in the middle of the street; quite a contrast to the near empty towns we passed. Great a parking lot. Better still, a sign out front read, “Enjoy Free Parking”. It was a large lot and it was nearly full. I recognized immediately that I would have trouble maneuvering the parking lot and would probably not find parking. Heading back out of town, we found a still larger and empty lot with plenty of parking and a short walk back to Commercial Street.
We checked the menu posted outside the first restaurant we found. No steamers. We went inside and found a typical warm dimly-lit bar and numerous tables and chairs, some with customers enjoying lunch. We waited a few moments hoping to ask if they had steamers. A few too many moments later, we left to walk main street. I’ve craved some steamed clams with beer since crossing the Mississippi. We walked on. Commercial street was busy. Two places appealed to us: The Squealing Pig and The Lobster Pot. The Squealing Pig was packed and we loved the aroma coming from the kitchen. The wait was too long; the Lobster Pot won out.
The Lobster Pot has a restaurant in the back on the ground floor and a bar and tables on the second floor. We were led to a side table on the ground floor when Ellen asked if there was seating for lunch upstairs. She preferred to sit facing the bay. “Yes, there is additional seating upstairs beyond the bar area. Yes, they have the same menu.” We headed to the bar and were seated at a table overlooking the bay. Just as Ellen wanted. Ellen enjoyed a hot lobster roll and broccoli gratin, and I had clams; not steamed, but fried. They were great!
The Lobster Pot overlooks P-town’s bay and pier. Walking toward the pier after lunch we passed a sign “Steamers 9.99”. REALLY? I had to ask. I popped into the diner and asked if they still had steamers. A women said, “We sure do, and they’re on sale today. Do you want some?” No, we had just eaten. Next time I’ll hold out a bit longer before settling. The Lobster Pot was scrumptious, but pretty expensive. $9.99 for Steamers could have been a deal. Oh Well…
Walking toward the Beast, I noticed a mid-sized animal loping behind our RV heading right-to-left. It was too big to be a cat. Dogs do not lope. I pointed it out to Ellen just as it disappeared behind the RV. Seconds later a white tailed fox appeared. Its pace increased as two couples jumped out of their SUV to watch agape as the fox ran past. Ellen did get a photo or two before the fox disappeared.
Sunset on the way to Foxboro
Normandy Farms Family Camping Resort (11.02.2015)
Bruce and Vivian had told us about Normandy Farms Family Camping Resort in West Foxboro MA. I had called earlier in the day and they were open and could accommodate us for two or three days. They would be full on the weekend; we would not have a space on Saturday but would Sunday afternoon. That’s fine. I asked about car rentals and Jessie said the enterprise was very close and would deliver a car, but that we should consider taking the train into downtown Boston and not driving.
We left P-town headed to Foxboro knowing that we would miss the beginning of the game. Come to find out the game would not be carried on DirecTv. The Raiders are notorious for blacking out games. I was hoping that a local east coast channel would broadcast it. The JETS are local, right? Wrong. We arrived and were given site #1001, with a good view to the south through some trees and a cable hookup for local channels, but no channel carried the JETS game. We can watch The Good Wife and a few of our other favorite shows tonight and Wednesday if we chose to stay three days.
Normandy Farms Campground is huge and very well appointed. The “office” is like a ski chalet. There is a heated indoor pool. For the three weekends prior to Halloween, they have weekend events celebrating Halloween including hay rides. We have not walked the grounds, checked out the pool, the restrooms, or the laundry. We’ve settled in for the evening.
Issues with The Beast
Last night we learned that an “F” reading on our gray tank means. It does not mean nearly full or almost full or don’t worry about it full. It means full. I was settling in for the night while Ellen was organizing things on her way to bed when she noticed a rather nasty odor in the shower. She had washed out our crock pot earlier and that was enough to push the gray tank into overflow. A gray tank overflow is a pretty nasty thing. This was clearly my fault for not connecting the septic hose and draining the swamp. So it was that I found myself outside in the dark moving The Beast closer to the drain, monkeying with our sewer lines, and emptying tanks when I’d much rather be inside asleep. With the tanks empty, Ellen took on the task of cleaning out the shower pan. About an hour later all was well in Mudville, well almost.
The next morning I tried dialing in DirecTv. To get closer to the drain last night, I had moved The Beast. That little move was enough to throw reception off. Even re-aligning the antenna failed. Next I wasted half an hour calling RV Service Centers in and around Foxboro looking for someone who could take us on short notice. All the large dealers were slammed. The soonest anyone could take us was Nov. 12th. We cannot wait around that long. Giving up I arranged for Enterprise to deliver a car to the campground. We plan to anchor The Beast for a few days and use a car to explore Boston, Cambridge, Arlington, and Martha’s Vineyard. Enterprise car rental often delivers to campgrounds if there is an office nearby. It’s a great business niche for them. I arranged for a KIA to be delivered at 10:30, giving me time for a shower (unlimited hot water, heated room, spotlessly clean) and to help Ellen with laundry.
Enterprise Car Rentals, Foxboro Ma.
At the office I bought another fifteen feet of sewer hose minutes before our KIA arrived. That rental went quite smoothly. For out of state rentals, Enterprise requires a major credit card and of course a valid license. We’re thinking that renting a car when we stop for more than two days makes more sense than purchasing, insuring, and hassling with towing car would. This was our first car rental “on the road” and it went very smoothly.
Brad’s RV Service
Back at The Beast, there was activity in the neighboring fifth wheel. I walked over to meet Joe who was breaking down and storing the family summer equipment. We talked RVing, retirement, work, and avoided solving the world’s problems. I turned to walk away, but something made me mention that we had a hot water problem in our RV. I described the two problems: 1. water flows in both the hot and cold lines, but both run cold. Yes, the water heater is running and is hot. We actually get a short flow of warm water before it goes cold. and 2. The cold water outlet in the kitchen is not running at all. Joe first said, “That sounds like a check valve problem” (which I thought too) then, “I have a fellow coming to winterize my RV and do some caulking for me. Perhaps he can help you out too. He’s a great guy, a retired police man”
I called Brad who said he was on his way and sure, he’d look at my problem. Ellen and I now were resigned to a day of rest with some work on Li’l Beast. I added a second latch to the most egregious door, the one that insists on slamming open around turns. Tested out our compressor and some new fittings, they work just fine. We unfurled our outdoor patio rug for the first time and folded it to make storage easier. I setup the fifteen foot sewer line extension. In the mean time Brad had arrived and was working on Joe’s rig. Sometime later I walked over to introduce myself to Brad and to be sure he didn’t forget me. Brad works out of a small van that is chock full of tools and parts. I was very impressed with Brad’s confidence, warmth, and the tools he brings with him on the job.
Around 2 Pm, brad drove up behind The Beast and we got down to it. I said that first time we experience a problem with hot water was in the morning at a campsite what was closing. The campsite manager had said the water would be turned of at 10:30 Am. I left our line connected through the night. It dropped to 27 degrees, but with our black and gray tank heaters we were in good shape. However in the morning we had no water pressure at all, NONE! The campsite water valve was open, but there was no water in the line. The campsite manager had purged their pipes. I had used our water pump, but had no hot water pressure at all. Days later, the kitchen cold water stopped flowing.
Brad said, “yeah, the campsite probably ran 120 psi. through their pipes. That’s not good for you RV. First he checked the aerator on the kitchen sink and found some debris in the screen, but not enough to stop the flow. Next Brad asked if we had a diverter for the under-sink filter. We scrambled to locate the plug, which we had moved into successively remote locations. With the filter removed and the plug in place, we had cold water flowing. The filter was clogged. Problem #2 solved in about fifteen minutes. I run with two filters one outside and the one that went bad. I wonder how effective the outside filter actually is.
Next Brad tested our lines. He switched the hot tank diverter to see how the system behaved. He asked how many check valves The Beast has. Then he went to the lowest point of the hot water lines, the outside shower and turned on the hot water. There was no flow. Ah Ha! Brad said there is no flow out of your hot water heater. It’s your check valve that prevents cold water back flow into the hot water tank! I had read about this, bought a replacement check valve at Camping World, but I did not have the tools to easily replace the valve. I gave Brad the check valve and he installed it in no time flat. That fixed our second hot water problem. Brad was very easy to talk with. In fact we spent more time talking with Brad than it took him to fix our problems.
Brad said that had I called him to schedule this repair, he would not have been able to do it. He has over a thousand clients and he is book through December 2nd. Since he was here at the campsite to winterize Joe’s 5th wheel he’d take the time to look at our problems. Wow. If I had not mentioned our trouble to Joe this would never have happened. The only other fellow I’ve met who instills the same level of confidence was Tim, the fellow who did our initial checkout at Crowley RV. I tried to have Tim look at The Beast, but he was booked out a month.
Brad did say, “Call me anytime” As he is a mobile service I asked, “Is a service call to California out of the question?” Brad’s initial charge is $60 for travel and $70 for the first hour. He charged us $70, waiving the travel charge. He may not be able to help you out, but it is worth a call if you’re stuck near Foxboro Massachusetts.
Brad’s RV Repair 508-951-7607 he is a Full Service Master Technician and a very nice guy.
Nespresso in Massachusetts
When we finished cleaning up it was past 3 Pm. We’re running out of Nespresso capsules and there is a Nespresso Boutique at Bloomingdale’s in Newton, a thirty minute drive. Off we went. Our iphone GPS guided us flawlessly to Bloomingdale’s, once we knew for sure that’s where we wanted to go. Ellen called Nespresso to find that there is a boutique in Chestnut Hill. ???? My research showed 225 Boylston St Newton as the address. We went round and round for a while before realizing that Chestnut Hill is a shopping center in Newton. It’s address is on Boylston St, Newton.
The Nespresso shop is on the first floor of Bloomingdale’s men’s store. We found it with ease and after a short wait for two customers ahead of us, we returned a large number of capsules for recycling and took about 150 away with us. There are only two Nespresso outlets in Massachusetts, both near Boston. We collected 2 bags for recycling, via US mail, free of charge.
Tokyo Japanese Steak Restaurant
We were both hungry and asked our sales fellow where he would recommend we eat. He mentioned The Cheese Factory, a Mexican place, and two Japanese restaurants. He said by far the better one is on the 2nd floor. That turned out to be Tokyo Japanese Steak Restaurant. We love steak, but why eat beef at a Japanese Restaurant. Sure, Kobe Beef is world famous, but for Japanese, we think sashimi and sushi. We set our hesitation aside (fish at a beef restaurant is usually a bad idea), and ordered our favorites: Hamachi Sashimi, Spicy Tuna Hand Rolls, Spicy Hotate Roll, and a Dragon Roll. All were very satisfying and delicious.
Our iPhone GPS guided us back to the campground. We fearlessly negotiating traffic circles as they are called in Massachusetts, watched for two police vehicles that Waze pointed out, and avoided much of the 6 pm traffic. Waze is pretty amazing. Waze records information from its subscribers to compare subscriber speed with posted speed limits to gauge traffic patterns. It is very good at guiding a driver around traffic and it did not let us down.
“Home” now, we are fully connected: our stabilizers are setup, our antenna is deployed with exceptional reception, and we have fully functional hot and cold water. We’ll check out the indoor heated swimming pool, weight room, and pool tables some other day.