Annoying Drip

The Dodge Cummins Diesel has a real problem with oiling just about everything under the hood, the front suspension, frame and anything else near to the crankcase breather.  In their infinite wisdom, Cummins (or Dodge), devised a method for the ventilation of the crankcase that basically consists of a hose that runs into an Excedrin bottle with a couple of holes in it.  (Picture to come later…I have to get the criminal item out of the trash to take a picture.)  Here is one of it on the engine, with the “sock idea”…not really effective as seen here:

sock-notAs you can see, even after 2000 miles, the sock is not really containing the oil.. I change my socks daily, and I really need them myself…even Goodwill could not supply enough to keep this puppy dry.  Perhaps Pampers?

Somewhere in the TDR Forum (where once it was easy to search for what you were looking for),  there were a bunch of great ideas for the problem.  First a longer hose, another is to relocate it, but I was really looking for the posts I saw where someone made a series of catch cans, including drain valves for the oil…well I could not find them.

The joke is that my ‘second home’ is Melchert Automobil, GmbH in Bergisch-Gladbach.  Markus, one of the mechanics drew a diagram of a tank above the breather that would allow the oil to drain back into the engine…it took a while but here it is.

Let me start out by saying that this was no ‘art-project.’  If I was making this for a customer, it would look a lot different.  I used scraps of zink I had laying around, three packs of stainless pot scrubbers (3,00 €), and a breather cap I picked up in the States for 12,00$.  The whole project took about 3,5 hours from start to finish.

patternFirst, I made a pattern from an old paper box to get an idea of size for the space I had.  In addition, I used a paper cup to see how much room I had so that the hood would not hit the top of the breather cap.  Then I cut two pieces of OSB to use as formers for the top and bottom of the box.  I planned to use some hardwood, but the bandsaw is packed away due to renovation in the shop.

Using a wide paint marker, I traced out the pattern on the zink.  This gave me the line to cut so that I could fold a lip on the top and bottom breather-1pieces.  I clamped the pieces between the forms, and using a hammer, formed the lip.

breather-2Having made the lip, I proceeded to cut and bend the side of the canister.  The forms are marked ‘A’ and ‘B’, because I just breather-3‘fudged’ the radii on the forms using a belt sander, and the results were not really ‘exact.’  Remember, not an art project.  Here are the finished pieces.

Here is the forming of the radius on the corners using a piece of 3/4″ copper pipe.breather-5


So, zink has a melting point around 50 degrees or so above the lead I was using, so soldering the whole thing together in a hurry led to less than aesthetically acceptable results…however, no leaks and I proceeded to make the drain tube from scrap copper, and the tube for the connection of the breather.  It was great that the metal pipe on the shop vac had a suitable radius for the breather tube…Here are a few pictures:


So now I had the top and bottom finished.  After soldering the bottom on, I packed the breather-11breather-10assembly with the pot scrubbers.


Then the top was put on, the breather pipe was pushed in, the the whole assembel was soldered together.

I trial fit showed that I could make a bracket from one of the air horn bolts.  Incidentally, I noticed that they were rusty…I took all of them out, and applied anti-sieze.  It sure would be a drag to have one break off in the future…

In addition, I made a support in the underside to rest on the bracket for the Throttle assembly.  Again a few pictures.


So here is a picture of it installed:

breather-16I simply used the original hose after cutting of the loop (that never did anything), and running it directly to the canister.  breather-17(The second clamp came after the picture was taken.)


I will post an update to see how it works out…50 km so far, and no oil mist…






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Houston, we have a problem…Oh where oh where do the wires go…cont’d

bluetooth-Busmdi-Bus-whiteSo where we left off yesterday is the differences between the two harnesses.  I am hoping that someone reading this can provide some clues as to how to merge the two harnesses…

The MDI / Media-in harness have many similarities.  It is where they differ that has me confused.  As previously mentioned, the Bluetooth harness has two plugs patched into the ‘black’ connector on the Radio-side.  All fine and bluetooth-Radio-sidewell, I still have not gotten under the dash to see if the two plugs that I assume are speaker outputs for the Hands-free telephone actually connect to pre-existing plugs under the dash.  However, one would assume that the wires with insulation would be positive, and the bare ones would be negative.  Even more confusing is that on the MDImdi-Radio-side-1 harness, these connections go to two different speakers.  To wit:

On the’black’ connector on the MDI harness, terminal 1: OR/BK, 2: Red/GRN, 3:  OR/WH, 4: WH/BL, 5: GRY-RF +, 6: RF -, 7: GRN – LR+,   bus-side-black8:  GRN/BK-LR-, 9: WH – LF+, 10: WH/BL LF-, 11: Violet (V) RR +,       12: V – RR-.

On the Bluetooth, the one speaker plug is connected to terminals 6 and 7.  The problem being, that this corresponds to RF – and LR + on the MDI harness,  additionally, the other connection for the speaker goes to 4 (WH/BL), and 10, which is LF-.  Confused yet?  Jeepers, I hope someone has a clue, because I do not…

mdi-bus-side-whiteFor the rest of the MDI harness, here is what I found.   Connections on the ‘white’ connector on the Radio- 1: Y/GRN- to Bus pin 1,  2: Y (Batt 12v) to Bus pin 2, 3:Pink to MDI 3, 4: BL/BK – Bus pin 4, 5: R/WH to Bus pin 5, 6: Y to MDI 4, 6: N/A, 7: BL/WH to Bus pin 7, 8: R (12v IGN) to Bus mdi-plug-28, 9: WH/BK (LF -) to Bus pin 9, 10: BK (Ground), to Bus pin 10, 11: GRN to MDI 10, 12: WH to MDI 9.  The splices and connectors on the MDI connection are as follows (might be redundant) 1: BLK – patched into ‘lower’ part of harness (BLK), 2: BRN – to BRN/WH on lower harness, 3: Pink – to 3 on ‘white’ mdi-plug-0connector, 4:  Y to 6 on white connector, 5: N/A, 6: N/A, 7: Red to Y (12v Batt) on lower harness, 8: OR to OR/WH on lower harness, 9: White to 12 on white connector, 10: GRN to 11 on white connector.

mdi-Bus-whiteWell, I just noticed something…JEEEPEEERS Mr. Wilson. It appears that ah-ha-momentthe two harnesses fit together!  Hmmn, I wonder if they are just meant to be placed between the original harness in the car.  Man is this getting confusing.  Simple instructions would bemdi-spilce nice to have…I kind of feel like I am bumbling around in the dark…a wiring diagram would be nice.


So now there are even more questions than answers:

  1. Can I patch/merge the Bluetooth unit harness into the MDI harness without creating up a bunch of errors in the CAN-bus?
  2. What is going on with the ‘extra’ speaker connections on the Bluetooth harness?
  3. Are these harnesses meant to just ‘plug in’ to the original harness between the radio and Bus?
  4. Oh, and how do I patch in the connections for the overhead console?knoepfeconsole
  5. ???????

Enough for today….the last riddle is where the wires connect to for the overhead console.  Man, my head hurts.

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Oh where oh where do the wires go…oh where oh where can they be….?


Soooo…Here is the next installment.

I picked up the Blue-tooth retro-fit kit from CarSystems in Poland.  Naturally, it came with no instructions.  The wiring harness looked good, and then I opened it up…


Nice, original VW...except the harness

I also picked up the MDI / Media- In retrofit kit from them as well.  I received it the day after ordering it, but again, no instructions.  In addition, there seemed to be no provision for the ‘AUX-in’.  Jeepers.  This is turning into a nightmare.

So, I posted to, and of course, more information is needed.  So I tore into the harnesses to see what was going on.

Here is what I found:

Blue-tooth Harness:kabelbaum So like I said, no instructions.  It looked good on the surface, but when I peeled back the curtain, it appears that it is made from an aftermarket adapter kit for installing another radio in a VW Golf / Passat / Jetta etc.  Good thing though, because most of the wires were labeled.

Here are a few pictures, and what I managed to trace out for the wiring:





< This picture is the representative view of both the white and black-housed connectors at the CAD-Bus.

OK, for the breakdown.  To make things clear, from what I learned, plugs are numbered ‘Chinese-Style’ (from Right to Left), and connectors with pins ‘merican-style-from left to right.)  Let’s start at the Radio-side.

On the white connector, there are 12 connections:

1: Yellow-Green ((Y/GN),  2: Yellow (Y)- 12v Batt. constant,  3:  Pink-Phone Mute, 4: Blue/Black (BL/BLK), 5:  Red/White (R/WH) 6: Brown ( BR), 7: Blue/White ( BL/WH)    8:  Red- Ignition switched 12v,  9:  WH/BLK- Left Front ( LF) speaker neg (-),                10:  BLK-Ground, 11:  Orange (OR)- illumination, 12: BL-Power antenna

For the black connector, there are also 12 connections.  (But some do not make sense).

1: Grey (GR) to Blue-tooth #8,  2: Yellow (Y) to Blue-tooth #2, 3: OR/WH, 4: Speaker + ??? 5:  Grey (GR) Right Front (RF) speaker +, 6: Speaker +???, 7: Blue to Blue-tooth #9, 8: Green (GRN) to Blue-tooth #5, 9: From # 4, Speaker – ??? 10: WH/BLK Left Front -, 11:  Violet (V) Right rear speaker +, 12:  From #6 Speaker – ???

OK, I know I have problems with short-term memory, so here is a picture of the connection to the Blue-tooth unit:

blue-tooth-unitbluetooth-buschseSo, what I have determined, is that the centre row of pins on the Blue-tooth unit are the only ones that are used…and they correspond as follows:

1:  Red – Patched into Yellow 12v constant on harness, 2: Black – Ground, patched also into harness.  3: Not used, 4:  Yellow- #2 on Black connector on Radio.  5: Green – #8 on Black connector on Radio 6: Not used, 7: Not used, 8: Grey – #1 on Black connector on Radio, 9: #7 on Black connector on Radio,  10: Not used, 11: Microphone +, 12:  Microphone -, 13: Not used, 14: not used, 15: Not used, 16:  Not used, 17: Orange – OR/WH on lower connector on Radio, 18: Brown – Brown/white lower connector on Radio

Now you might be asking what does it mean ‘lower on Radio’?  Here is a picture:

bus-sideAs you can see, there is a left and a right.  The left side is for the speakers, the right is for the connection to battery, blue-tooth etc.


Here is what I have found so far:

Right:  1: Green LR +, 2: White LF+, 3: Grey (GRY) RF + , 4: Violet (V) RR+, 5: GRN/BLK LR-, 6: WH/BLK LF -, 7: GRY/BLK RF -, 8 V/BLK RR -.

Left:  1: BLK Ground, 2: Brown ?, 3: BRN/WH – connected to the BRN on Blue-tooth #18, 4: OR/WH – connected to OR on Blue-tooth#17, 5: Red – 12v Ignition, 6: Yellow -12v constant – connected to #1 Red on Blue-tooth, 7: Orange – Illumination dash, 8: Orange/White – connected to Orange on Blue-tooth #17.

Well that is all I have for the wiring harness for the Blue-tooth.  I have to take a look at themdi-radio-white bluetooth-radioconnections on the radio side of the harness, as there are fewer connections as there are for the MDI….something for tomorrow.  It gets strange when I look at the connections for the speakers on the Black connection, because on the MDI harness, plus and minus are reversed, as well as the speakers they are connected to…maybe it is a Polish thing.

Maybe it was cheaper to buy from CarSystems than Zufatec, since I do not know if the instructions from Zufatec are any better than what CarSystems links to from other sites…Zufatec at least has a grip on English, and even though I bought the console from them, their site is smart enough to recognise that I only bought the console, not the MDI unit.  When I gave my PO number, I was not allowed to access the installation instructions for the Multi-Media Interface…good business.  As a result, I am writing this to help others get the job done without the fun and games…

Like Grandfather Kriebel said: “Price without quality is no Bargain.”

More later…

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Installation of Bluetooth / Multi-Function Steering Wheel in a 2009 Golf 6

bettyWell, in the beginning, when the idiot that wishes to remain anonymous ordered the 2009 Golf TDI, he thought that the 1.700€ that the dealer wanted for the Navigation /Blue tooth / media system was a bit too pricey.

In truth, the Blue-tooth and MFL (Multi-Funtion-Lenkrad [Steering Wheel]) cost 900€, Navi, 550€ additional, and the MDI (Multimedia interface) cost 250€….after driving a Jetta wagon with Blue-tooth while in the States, I was sold…besides, even my 2001 Dodge RAM 2500 Cummins Diesel Pick-up has Blue-tooth and hands-free telephone…something needed to be done to correct the error.

Since we live in the ‘sticks’, my wife spends quite a bit of time in the auto commuting to work.  Here it is a big deal to get caught talking on the mobile-phone while driving; a big fine, and points on your license.  In addition, it occurred to me that CD’S are on the way to becoming obsolete…MP3 and blue-tooth are the way to go…

So first came the research.  The best sites for information aboutVW Turbodiesels can by found at, and at the forum at TDI  I did a lot of searching on the forums, as well as a ton of part number cross-reference before I even started ordering parts.

Since the Auto came with the RCD310 radio and the [white] MFD /MFA (Multi-Function Display / Multi-Funktions-Anzeige), the operation is supposed to be ‘plug-and-play.’  Well almost, since the auto communicates with every component using a CAN-bus, some programming will need to be done for the new components to be fully functional.  Luckily, my friends at Melchert Automobil have the programmer.  In any case, I could always call home and chat it up with someone at Ross-Tech.

Since I am so picky, I tend to get bogged down in the details.  I picked up the VW Blue tooth KIT 7P6035730F from CarSystems in Poland.  Right around the corner, almost.  The goods were here the next day.  For installation instructions…well…that is another story, and why I am writing this up…

The first problem arose when I picked up the overhead console with the LED indicator, andknoepfeconsole control buttons.  Apparently, when someone normally does a retrofit, it is because the auto does not have Blue-tooth /Hands-free to begin with.  The wiring harness from CarSystems only includes the wiring and microphone for the installation in the overhead console.  (There is already a place for it to be installed)…So now I had to find the connectors, wiring diagram and make a harness. knoepfestecker-6For the plug shown on the left.  Luckily I have a copy of ETKA, and after a bit of searching I came up with a few possibilities for connecting this to the harness…off to the VW dealer.    Plug number 4B0-971-833 is the one that fits.  However, it comes with the terminals already installed, and these need stecker-zeihento be removed…just release the clip, and push them out.  Wiring however is not so simple.  At one end is the connector for the control buttons, and at the other are the connections to the Blue-tooth module.  No problem, just order the connector, three 979-010-FA and three 979-010-FA.  At one end they will be inserted into the plug for the console buttons, and the others will be used at the connection to the Blue-tooth unit.




Where the wires go is for tomorrow.  I guess I need to head to myturbodiesel and see if I can locate a wiring diagram…and post a parts list.  Sorry to be so wordy, the next posts will be more technical…promise.


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Bensberg Classic 16; 18 September 2011

ShareWell to begin is….well, to begin.  However to start on the 18th of September is not actually the beginning. Since I have been living in the area, I have seen signs like this: This would actually be the placard from … Continue reading

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Day 3 West Virginia to Kentucky…on the way to KY that is.

Day 3 West Virginia to Kentucky…well on the way to Kentucky.

Trip Tik travel plan

Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’, keep those wagons rollin’…head em up move em out…

WYep.  Looks like it was built in the '70's, and never changed.  The staff was great, and it had a clean pool.ell for those of you following the story so far, we spent the night close to  Parkersbug, Virginia…not a pretty town anymore.   We tried to like it.  Too depressing.  90% of the shops were closed; either out of business or not able to conduct any.  Best to read the post at Shake Your fist

Remember the ‘Prime Objective’?  Shopping? Well after rustling up some breakfast we decided to try to see what Parkersburg had to offer insofar as a Main Street Shopping District….well, here is what we found:

parkersburgOnce was a community CentreSo we headed out from the hotel to see what Parkersburg had to offer.  Unfortunately, like a great deal we saw in the USA, it was in a spiral of decline and deep in decay.  Shops that once were a hub activity, were empty.  Some with the remnants of the last owners’ attempt to breathe some life into the once-proud community, and live the promise that once was the ‘American Dream.’  Epic Fail.

Typical scene in the US, closed Department Store, deteriorating Main StreetAnother dream deferredAnother typical scene, probably one that many can see in their own neighbourhoods.  Department Stores that were once filled with hopeful families looking for furniture for their new house.  Families that had parkersburg-Blennerhassett Hotelworked hard, saved their money, and were now ready to make a purchase.  Many with children, with wide eyes and hopeful faces.  Children expressing their wish to have  a pair of PF Flyers instead of the Chuck Taylor’s everyone else was wearing.  My how times have changed.  Perhaps they worked Perhaps once someone had a job before their jobs were ‘Off-shored’ or ‘NAFTA’d’…

Needless to say, the natives were becoming restless, and a solution needed to be found….

…Thank goodness Marietta, Ohio was just across the river.

bridge-over the OhioSun is shining and we are on our Ohio?We found an escape route thanks to the Navi.  In less than an half an hour, we were in Marietta, Ohio.  I remember that my brother, who went to University in Tiffen, talked about a trip to Marietta during his studies.  At least I do not remember any horror stories about the place, and since the experience of Parkersburg, I was full of optimism.   Apparently justified, because not only was there a Main Street, it actually had open shops.

On the way, we stopped at Walgreens for supplies.  We picked up a pile of DVD’s to play in my Laptop, drinks, snacks etc to replenish the inventory used up since we left PA.  Time; from the receipt – around noon or so.  Apparently it did not take us long to realise nothing was happening in Parkersburg.

main-st Marietta, OHWay back on Day 1, I lost my knife.  No small thing that.  I was hoping to actually find one somewhere along the way, and then we saw Schafer’s Leather Store.  Established in 1867, and still family owned.

Schafer Leather StoreOnce upon a time, they were a tack-shop.  Now, that would be horse-related stuff and cowboy-related stuff…as in there may be something of interest in there for someone with a penchant for Horses, or maybe someone looking for a pocket-knife.  Hmmn.  In we go, and immediately were greeted by who I believe was Karen, one of the Schafer Family.

Not only was the atmosphere magical, the service and selection were fantastic.  Of course, my first question was “what do you have that is made in the USA?”  Unfortunately, no Buck pocketknives, and many wares from ‘overseas’ have infiltrated the shop.   Julia saw some cool boots, but none in her size.  Nick picked up a nice Victorinox pocketknife as part of his birthday present.  Not made in the USA, I know, but also of high-quality; produced in a country with fair-labour rates and environmental protection.

Something from Schafers.Julia found something nice, but of dubious heritage…

At the end of our visit Karen told us some history about Marietta, and her experiences growing up there.  She made a point of taking us Take a look at the flood levels!outside and showing us the signs indicating the previous flood levels on the side of the building.  While she was growing up, she told us about how they would have to carry everything to the upper floors to get away from the rising waters.  In the last flood, there were 50 centimetres of mud and muck to shovel out of the shop!

Next we took a walk down the street to see what other shops had to offer.  Of note was Mad Hen, Twisted Sister’s BoutiqueTurquoise Spirit and My Favorite Things.  Turquoise Spirit has a lot of interesting stuff, but since we were headed out to Arizona and New Mexico, figured that we could find more things where they actually originated.  I have to say in the end, the prices and selection in Marietta were the same, if not better than what we saw during the whole trip.

We stopped in at ‘My Favorite Things.’  A really nice collection of things.  They had ‘Life-like’ baby dolls, even with Christening Gowns (these gave Uta the willies – the dolls, not the gowns), Christmas Decorations (made in Poland and the ‘other’ place), and a selection of gourmet coffee and ice-cream.  Plenty of Crystal, and candies as well.  I never realised that ‘Jelly-Belly’ jelly beans were so pricey!  The kids had ice cream, not without incident however.  The dropped treat was cheerfully replaced, and I helped clean up the mess.

Walking around, we started to get a bit hungry.  A look in the shop window at Rossi’s Pasta kind of planted the idea, as well as the pictures of the menu at Austyn’s.  Unfortunately, Rossi’s sells fresh but uncooked Pasta, and Austyn’s was way out of our budget.

In the meantime, the coffee, Snapple, and Ice cream created an ‘urge’.  The only place in the area was the Lafayette Hotel.  I did not have to ‘go’, but those that participated in the trek said that the inside of the hotel was incredible…a real Historical Landmark from the riverboat era.

Well, this is where it is supposed to be...170 Front StreetHaving taken care of one of the urgent calls of Nature, we continued to look for a restaurant.  We finally ‘settled’ on Over the Moon Pizza .  One thing from the American Cuisine that I miss is Chicken wings.  Over the Moon had Chicken wings, and Pizza, and Salad for those ‘counting calories’…I hate to say it, but the experience and anything I could write about it would be disappointing at best.  In spite of the information on the website, the management did not appear to be really ‘on board’ as to how to run a restaurant.   While it definitely seemed a family operation, even ‘mom’ could not salvage a semblance of organisation.  It was not a relaxing dinner, and things did not go so well…

Time to head out of Marietta…One thing I bought was a postcard.  The proprietress of Favorite Things told me that every year there is a steamboat festival.  On the Ohio River, there were many docked, but none were in operation.  What a shame.  If I remember correctly, the festival is in September, but I could be wrong.

On our way to the next venue: Louisville, Kentucky.  Time:  around 15.30 (3:30 pm).  Distance to target: Approximately 330 miles / 4 Hours…should not be too bad…

We managed to escape WV an not 'squeal like a pig'


Saw a few things on the way…

Big tires...not horseshoesRolling stockLook a car.Dune buggy without a beach.Motor made in Germanygood thing it is on a trailer.





Finally, we see a sign.

Getting there...

Things are looking up, and I have not heard ‘the question’ yet…

Here we arevisitor's centreThat sign means there has to be a Visitor’s Centre somewhere…Oh here it is!


What do we have here?

Something for the boys...


Hmmn...I hope they have A/C

Gotta cool those horses after a hard ride

Gotta cool those horses after a hard ride

Horse?  no a pony car.

Horse? no a pony car.


Ponies, but no horses

Look a horse!

Hmm, I do not think that is the kind of horse we are looking for...


'nother view

Another view.


How fast?

How fast?


The road.Well we are on our way west.  Last stop before Yes, we have a map.Louisville / Lexington… horse country that is.




Trees...So, we have seen the sign, WHERE ARE THE HORSES???  Suddenly, I

hear the’ question…’  “How far to the

Hotel?”  “A little while yet…stalling for time, I say look out the window..Horse fences!”

Nice fence.

Where there is a fence, there has to be something inside, right?Where are the horses?



Still no horses.  “Does the hotel have a pool?”  ‘Yes’-More fences.

Oh look, what is that over there?  Oh, more fences…and then?

Trees horses.More trees, more fences.  No horses.  How far to the hotel?

Wait...I think there is a horse!I cannot believe it.  Look…Is that a horse???

More horses...More sky, and no horses.  But wait, there is more.  As we are driving along, there are other things to see.  However, it does not have anything to do with horses.  I seemed to forget I do not know what they are, but they do not look friendly.that Kentucky is the home of Leavenworth, a military base and a bunch of other stuff…sobering stuff.

There are horses!...On the water tower.Wow.  If you can lead a horse to water, but not make him drink, then paint them on the water supply.  What came next was the high point of the journey…Actually, I think it was the KHFA huge farm, or racetrack.  Are those horses I see?

Those horses are fake!

Nope…statues.  Travelling at 130 kph /70 mph, high points of the trip pass relatively quickly.  As we proceeded along, seeing more trees, more fences, and the occasional horse, it occurred to the passenger who had the most interest in horses that we were travelling A castle???away from what seemed to be the centre of activity in regards to horses…remember the map?  She had the map.  About the time we passed the castle, things went downhill.Castle Gates. “How far to the hotel?”  “About 58 miles,” someone helpfully offered, then even more helpfully, “about 45 minutes”.  Then all hell broke loose.  “That means we are almost an hour from the horse farms!”  “I want to go home” was heard from the back seat

I had quit smoking.  However this was one of those moments like in the movie Airplane …a bad time to quit anything.

I think we will drive straight...

Wow, the Weather Service is really on the ball...

I remember passing a hotel a mile or so back.  Slamming on the brakes, and with a move that This is what it really looks like....Rockford would applaud, we were heading to the Hotel.  The Roadway Inn.  I did not care if I had already paid for the hotel in Elizabethtown, I just wanted a bit of peace and quiet.  I saw that there was a pool.  As I pull in, I think I remember the place from when I was doing the original planning.  I wonder why I did not consider it?

I spring out of the car, and enter the lobby.  A small, dilapidated affair with cheap glued- down linoleum tiles (loose).  When I say ‘small’  four people would create a shortage of Oxygen.  There was a small, ‘ahem,’ counter on the side barely strong enough to support the open, cracked,  plastic canisters containing corn flakes and plain cheerios…’Continental Breakfast’ fare in America.  I was almost knocked down by the overpowering aroma of Curry.  Not the tasty Curry we use here in Germany on Pommes or Curry-wurst, but the toxic Asian sort that sends my GI tract into spasms and improves my fitness from the wind-sprints to the commode that result.

My sphincter tightening in remembrance of my last poisoning by this horrid spice, I am further underwhelmed as I make the acquaintance of the ‘proprietor.’  Through a press-board door, the handle held on with packing tape, appears a short man with the definitive “comb over” of what is left of his fine black hair…

“…A hello and most fine greetings my friend.  How may I be helping you this fine day?”

“I would like three rooms; a single and two doubles.  Could you tell me the rate please?”

“…Ah yes, most fine.  That would be costing $75 per night.  How many nights would you be liking for staying sir?”

“$75 is out of the question.  I am a AAA member, and I can see that the hotel is empty. Could you please check the rate?”

“…Oh no my friend, we are being very busy.  We are shortly expecting very many customers.  The rooms are mostly completely being taken.   You are most fortunately being here when you are now.  But I can be giving you a very special price for just today…$70.”

“Do not be ridiculous, either you offer a better price or the rooms will stay empty.”

“…please be waiting one moment please. I must be asking my supervisor if I can be doing something.”

At this point he makes a call, speaks to someone in Hindi.  He looks at me, out the window, and at the book on the counter.  I can feel the effects of the curry in the atmosphere, and my bowels are starting to spasm as he hangs up the phone.

“…Ah, most fine.  My supervisor is been telling me that we can only today give such a fine price of $65 per night, because you are being such a fine, nice family.  If you be wanting to use the pool, it is being $5 for the service of the towels and the using.”

Out of patience, worrying about the onset of a sudden gastric attack, and also feeling completely mis-handled, I take one last look at the condition of the place and say:  “Not a chance.”

The crowning moment was when I turned to go, and he called after me “Please be waiting.  We can be giving the rooms for $60.  Do not be going.”  I did not respond, I just got into the auto and drove to the other hotel.

Relating the experience seemed to help the attitude of the passengers a bit.  The last two hotels were nothing special.  Perhaps they were hoping for something better, and the Rodeway Inn we had just left was definitely even less.

Go to Wendy'sWe finally arrived at the Elizabethtown Super 8.  The place was swarming with activity.  It turns out that is was graduation weekend at the Military Base.  Good thing I had made the reservations in advance.  $60 / night inclusive.  The lobby was the antithesis of the Rodeway Inn.  Large, clean and well-maintained.  A large counter with juice machines, Fresh coffee (at 21.00 / 9:00 pm !) and even fresh fruit.  OK, the area around the hotel was not so ‘nice.’  But the place was clean, and the staff was very friendly.  They even knew the difference between adjectives, adverbs, and how and when to use the continuous form.

We checked in, and the luggage was brought up to the rooms.  “Dad, there is only one bed in our room.” Back to the counter.  It turns out that the reservation through Expedia was mixed up.  Fully booked, and no chance for a change of rooms.  The staff however, quickly produced a folding bed, and set it up for Nick.  The kids went down to the pool before we went to get something to eat…

Oh boy...Where did we go?  The Waffle House was right next door.  An institution of the American Highway.  Why not?  Well – it was a real experience.  We met quite a few characters.  Everyone was very friendly and jovial.  Their laughing countenences’ confirmed that we had the only full mouths of teeth in the place.

The food however was again cooked / fried / baked or toasted using the same ‘healthy’ fat we experienced at Denny’s.  I was definitely expecting better.  Perhaps it was a residual effect of the Curry experience, but dinner did not sit too well.

The kids made one last trip to the pool.  Of note is that the Super 8 is in a ‘dry county.’  No beer, wine, coolers, nada.  I found out at the filling station that there is a place ‘over the line’ where you can go to buy beer.  “Out past Weaver’s Corner…”  Off I went.  After nearly hitting a herd of deer, 25 miles later I ended up at “Tom’s.”  A wood-frame affair about the size of a four-car garage with grey-weathered tobacco-barn siding.  Scary clientele.  A guy staggered out of a beat-up white and rust Toyota Corolla, leaving his wife / date / sister behind.  As I was waiting at the counter, he had two plastic cups of ice ready and a fifth of Gorbachev (vodka).  When I remarked to the man behind the counter that it is surprising that there are still dry counties, he told me I was lucky.  The other liquor store was 170 miles away.  As I got into the auto, the previous patron already had a cigarette lit, cups filled.They tore away laughing leaving only a cloud of dust and the scent of cigarettes.

Me?  I went back to the hotel, took a shower, and looked at the plan for day four…finally somewhere with something to do. Perhaps now the Holiday can start in earnest.

However, I do not think there is going to be time for the Bourbon Trail…shame, I think I am going to need ít, but where are not there yet.

Blue sky over blue grass country

Talley for the day: 359 miles…(including beer run).

Posted in Day 3 – Parkersburg VA to Louisville KY, Route 66 trip 2010, Travel Planning | Leave a comment

Day 2 – West Virginia …

Day 2 – West Virginia en route to Kentucky

The new day dawned. 

We slept-until 09.30.  Thanks to Julia, we have pictures of most of the Hotels and the rooms: 

Judy's Dutch Heritage Motel, Bedford, PA
What it looks like in Daylight…

The Hotel, and a piece of the AutoJudy's Dutch Heritage Motel in Bedford PAJudy's Motel in Bedford PAMotel-PA Dutch Heritage 2Judy's Dutch Heritag Motel in Bedford PA e 3 


As you can see, it was neat, orderly and well-kept.  Great place to sleep.  I picked up a few Cola’s when I settled up with Dave, the Manager, and took a look around. Seems there were a few Harley’s in the parking lot.  I guess they arrived after we did. 

The best way for Harleys to travel.  No break downs.Another view of 'Safe riding'Another way to ride a Harley.The Owners clearly have an Opinion about Obama.  Typical American Hypocracy, Harleys towed by an import: 

Yep, got that right. 


Everyone was up, and it was time to get underway.  Time for Breakfast.  Conveniently located nearby was an American Institution: 


Here is a bit from the menu: 


Denny's Gand Slamnicks-grand-slamdennys-jonas-omlet 



Something about the Hash-browns was not quite right.  I think they are using some sort of “healthy” fat in the fryer.   What is wrong with Lard? 

Also, in the USA, High-Fructose-Corn-Syrup is in just about everything.  I do not think it is an acceptable sweetener in Germany.  All soda pop has 100% actual sugar.  Could HFCS be banned in the E.U. because it is a health risk

Oh look...more road.

It looks like it goes on forever, and it is only day 2...


Map / TripTik for the 'Next Leg'

The second leg west...


So we are on our way to Kentucky, Louisville to be exact.  Home of the Kentucky Derby. However, since it was apparent that the 742 miles (1200 km) from NYC to Louisville, would be a bit uncomfortable to drive in one shot (11 hours in the auto?), the stretch was divided up… 

Bit Adieu to Pennsylvania, and entered West Virginia…take me home country road, to the place I belong… 

Rest stop or trap? 

Jon and Uta...Must be at the beginning, they are still smiling.


Well day 2 on the road is best summed up with the pictures contained in the Album below: 


So we ended up at the Parkersburg Travel Lodge….and it had a pool…while the place was definitely past its prime, the staff was very friendly and helpful.  As we experience pretty much everywhere in the US, the definition of a “Continental Breakfast” is pretty poor.  But they had fresh fruit, cereal, and good coffee, with real cream… 

So a good end to the day, only four hours on the road, 235 miles /376 km 

On to Day three, and Kentucky…

Posted in Day 2 - Bedford PA to Parkersburg, VA, Route 66 trip 2010, Travel Planning | 1 Comment

Day 1 – Can you believe it? We are on the way.

Day 1 – Finally on the road.

On the road...finally

Map / TripTik for the 'First Leg'

Should have been called 'the broken leg'

Well, well.  The day dawned bright and clear.  Are we ready?  No, not quite.  For those of you who are paying attention, two of the cast are still missing;  Abby and Nick.  So  after a quick trip to Lindberg Avenue in Pottstown, the last two characters joined the plot…we were off.  Uh, not quite.  First things first.  Somehow on the travel planning stage, I did not figure on:

1.  Having to exchange autos.

2.  A ‘major’ Shopping stop at Walmart, Giant, (Supermarket Chain in PA that took over Clemens), and Radio Shack.

3. Not leaving for all of the above until after 10.30.  But I received a call from my friend Rebecca (Thrifty Car Rental)  which brings me to item number four, that REALLY through a wrench in the works.

4.  A change in direction for the exchange of the auto (as detailed below.)

First Stop:Driver License Center Since it is always a good idea to have a valid Driver’s License, even better to have one for the country you are driving in…unfortunately my PA Driver’s License had expired and needed to be renewed.  I have a valid German Driving License, but thought it would be good to have one with my PA address as well.  Boy did it come in handy later! Jonas, who was working on his first Driving License in Germany was speechless.  In 15 minutes, I had a brand-new driving license, and he had a quote to take along for the rest of of the trip.  The woman behind the counter was somwhat “English Challenged” to put it politely.  Whenever she spoke, it took two or three tries to understand what she was saying.  She looked at me and said, “donfurgih-ur-nmmrr”?   (Don’t forget your number)  This became the ‘saying’ at every counter, be it in a restaurant, hotel, or gas station.

Second Stop: Radio-shack Although it is less than a mile from the Photo Center, somehow it took a bit of time to get there.  In the Harleysville Centre, it is all but next to the Walmart, and the Giant Supermarkt.  We initially were looking for a charger for Nick’s camera, but came up empty.  However, we did pick up a very handy 150W power-inverter that also happened to have a USB port built-in for charging devices with this capability.  A bit later we discovered that Nick had the same make of Camera as Jonas; Jonas’ charger had the USB adapter for charging, so all worked out.  What did not work out however was trying to pay with American Express traveller’s Cheques. WHAT A JOKE!  First the man said he could take it.  Then he called his boss when he could not find the correct key on the register to process it as a payment method.  In the end we paid cash…of course after filling out and signing the Cheque.  Time:  11.04

Third Stop: walmart-harleysville Walmart.  What we did find was a really useful cooler, with trolley wheels, and handle. (Made in China).  It fit in the space between the front seats behind the console so that it was not encroaching (a great deal) on the middle seats, and did not block access into or out of the vehicle.  Of course there were cases of water, snacks, a useful camping set with utensils, and other odds and ends.  In addition, they took the Traveller’s Cheque that Radio Shack wouldn’t.  Even with the scribbled-out Radio-Shack, and “Walmart” written over it.  Have to hand it to Walmart.  The people that work there do try to make the experience enjoyable.  Too bad that 90% of the stuff they sell is imported from China…Time: 11.30

Fourth Stop: Giant Supermarket in Harleysville. We had a cooler, now we had to fill it up.  So we picked up some lunch-meats, condiments, and some Dr. Pepper that was on sale.  All of the water, snacks, other beverages and dry goods fit handily under the floor in the compartments built into the Grand Caravan.  Wow.  Things were starting to come together.  Time: 12.10.

Or were they?

Planning Note:

I guess I need to backtrack a bit.  It seems in my haste to get onto Day One, I forgot to mention that the night before I had arranged for the tickets to visit the Statue of Liberty.  Who would have thought that there is a waiting list to get into the Crown of the Statue?  OVER A MONTH!  TWO WEEKS just for the base… When I went online to make reservations, tons of sites came up.  Having visited NYC before, I knew that there exist a plethora of scheisters and fly-by-night companies that prey on tourists.  When I did the Google search, I figured that the park commission ran the tours.  Not even close.  Seems this has been “privatised.” Apparently, Statue Cruises is the primary provider.  I made the reservations for 14.00, since that was the latest time available to depart, and be able to visit both the Statue, and the museum.  This would give us time later to go into NYC and see a few things and um…go shopping.  More on the latter later…

In short, time was getting a bit tight.  No problem.  Well….

The phone rings….

My new friend, Rebecca called.  This was the third conversation we had regarding the auto…  “Hi Rebecca”  <<Dark looks from the wife.>>  “Hi Jonathan.  About the exchange of your Caravan.”  <<Sinking feeling>>  “Yes?”  “Well I have been having some problems getting a Grand Caravan at the Mid-town Manhattan location.  Would it be possible for you to pick one up in Philadelphia where you originally picked up the vehicle?”  <<Fast mental calculations for the change in route, schedule implications and logistics>>  “Uh, I guess we could take 95 into NYC.  OK.”  “When can you be there?  I will arrange to have the auto ready when you arrive.”  “We’ll be there around 13.00. Thanks for your help Rebecca.”  So much for route planning.  A quick re-programming of the Navi (GPS), and we were on our way.  Just a small detour.

Fifth Stop: hnb-collgeville The bank.   So on the way for the exchange of the auto, we had to pass through Collegeville to get to the highway.  Well, ‘had to’ is not accurate. What once was my ‘Family’ Bank, has been taken over by First Niagara.  At the Limerick Branch I now know absolutely no one since Trevor Hart’s mom retired, as a result, I figured going to the Collegeville branch would be best.  In Collegeville all of the faces have changed also, with the exception of the Manager, Trevor Hart.  This is important, because if it was not for him, the following could have quickly become ‘an incident’.   It turns out that since the “re-organisation” Harleysville National, now First Niagara, does not carry nor support American Express Travellers Cheques.  So if we want to cash them in, I need to either deposit them in my account, because if I cash them the bank will place the funds on hold until the bank gets the money from AMEX.  OK, picture the situation.  Time is ticking.  My ‘Family Bank’ is full of unfamiliar faces, some kid in a suit is telling me what the bank policy is, and my wife is trying to understand why “Good as Cash” does not mean “Good as Cash.”  Thank goodness Trevor ran up and defused the situation, as I was ready to split the young-punk’s lip…  Where is Karl Malden when you need him?  Oh.  He’s dead.  Probably died in front of a counter in a bank from a heart attack.  Well, it turns out that we have to go to a bank that still SELLS American Express Travellers Cheques in order to get them cashed…Time: 12.55… ain’t gonna make it…

Sixth Stop: thrifty-car-rental Hopefully the last unplanned stop on the broken leg this first leg has become.  Well, first we need to fill up the auto.  Thrifty Car Rental in Philadelphia is located in a wasteland.  Whether planned or not, the nearest filling station is NOT nearby.  After programming the Navi to find Service Stations in the area, we made a few turns, and two miles later found a place.  My first words were “DO NOT GET OUT OF THE CAR!”  Amazing how absolutely run-down and depressive the once-proud houses have become.  Trash in the streets.  People with hollow eyes shuffling in dishevelled, dirty clothes carrying bottles in small brown bags.  A group of others in too-tight tank tops with bulging muscles emitting a palpable air of  attitude, pride, anger and lack of direction.  Walking in a pack, gold chains and gold-capped teeth glinting in the baking sun as they shared some inside joke was not a reassuring sight.  Being in an auto, packed to overflowing with baggage, pillows and kids, we seemed to be as safe as an Alaskan Thanksgiving Turkey when Palin was handing out clemency.  Finally back to Thrifty.  Man the Navi had a seizure trying to recalculate the route.  Of course Holstein Avenue is a divided street…

First we need to unload all of the passengers, baggage, snacks, backpacks, DVD player, toys games and drinks including three cases of water.  I get all of the paperwork taken care of, and get the dodge-grand caravanvehicle.  The man was very helpful, listened when I explained the mechanical problems with the auto, and even credited me with an extra day for the trouble.  Really nice.  So we pack everything back into the new auto.  Of course it is 93°F with 85% Humidity.  Nice weather.  For a snake.  Time: 14.15.  Guess we missed the ferry.  I made a quick call, and asked about the reservations.  “No problem, just present them when you come.”  OK, whew.  Try to program the Navi for the address.  “Address not found.”  Jeepers.  I go inside the Rental Office, and ask “could you help me with directions on how to get to the Statue of Liberty?”  He does a search, and prints out the directions for me and we are on our way.  Great Service: friendly, helpful and courteous.

In the meantime, the pillow Jonas had was taking up too much space up front.  Someone thoughtfully put it in the back.  On top of the luggage.  Blocking the right side of the rear window.  Time: 14.30.  Another auto pulls along side of us in the ‘Returns’ lane.  This means I have to back up to make the turn to leave the parking place.  I look in the rear-view mirrors.  The sides are clear.  Check the rear-view and see nothing in the clear area next to the pillow.  Check for pedestrians.  Just two Thrifty employees near the building having a smoke and a chat; a tall thin Jamaican, and a woman that is as big around as she is tall.  Her torso is a mass of indiscernible rolls, not helped by her slovenly posture, the weight in front is counterbalanced by a rear-end that is large enough to perch an entire beanie baby collection.  Or park a Smart Car.  All clear for takeoff?  Seems to be.  Put the Caravan in Reverse, and slowly back up.  <<THUMP!!!>>  What the heck was that?  Seems that a light standard was hidden by the pillow.  Barely a scuff on the rear bumper.  Can’t be that bad can it?

The previously inattentive ‘workers’ stop watching me. The woman slowly turns and goes into the office.  The tall, thin Jamaican comes over and tells me “Ja’sbeneedinareepotmon.”  Huh? [You need to fill out a report]  “ComztaOffiz” [Come to the office]…Thankfully the man who helped me before was still there, and I explain what happened.  Good thing I took out the insurance.  Paperwork finished, back outside and pillow relocated.  Exit form for the auto dutifully filled out showing ‘previous damage’ on the rear bumper.  We are on our way.  Time:  14.50.  The last ferry leaves at 16.00.  I can make it.

So we are finally on our way.  Planning shot to hell, but now with a new auto we set off.  It had been a while since I drove to NYC from Philly, but between the directions printed out, and the Navi, it should not be too bad.  Traffic?  It was early yet.

On the way to Liberty:

We are so close, we can see Lady Liberty.  How the heck do you get over there?  Navi says straight ahead.  We dead-end in an abandoned industrial area.  Turn around.  A sign! “Liberty Park” OK, head that way.  “Liberty Park” is a golf course.  Once more back to the main road…

What is orange and black and sleeps six?You'll never get me copper...'Welcome to Costco-I love you' Have you seen the film "Idiocracy" yet?  You should.Maybe you are important, but we are still faster.Big Dump Truck...front....and rearWhat?I think she is winning...Look at all of those containers...more crap from ChinaSomehow, we have to get over...there.Trucks...Big Trucks.


Here comes that Bridge.

The Bridge in the distance.  First of manyIs that rust?  Is this thing safe?



Almost there:

We stopped in at Oh look, Manhattana huge park and we tried to ask a visitor by the services hut where we go.  ¿Habla Español?.  Oh…we then tried to ask a lady who was walking in the area for directions, but she ignored us.  So we decided to walk in the direction of the flags.  We ran into her again somehow, and she told to drive on I think we are in the right place.the main road until it ended at a ‘T’.  It turns out she did not hear us because she was listening to here iPod…

Back in the car, and to the end of the road.  Turn right, and there is a parking area.  “Sex dorra preez.”  After paying the six dollars to park, we parked and headed in the direction of the entrance to the terminal.  Time: 15.35, 95°F, but with a light breeze – we hoofed it.  Once there were trains here.Fifteen minutes later as we neared the terminal  we saw open parking spaces in the “free” lot.  Free if you were parking after 15.00 I believe the sign said.

We made it to the entrance. We were greeted by a sign:

Oh oh...

Not what I expected.

First we had to present our documents, that would be ID’s; Passport, Ausweis, Personal ID’s etc. to Officer Romirez at the ‘pre-entry checkpoint’  Then we were herded into the Security Checkpoint.  Nowhere in the information about the Statue of Liberty tour was information about an airport security-type check.  This one was worse.  More like a ‘turn your head and cough’ examination.  The Security check was manned by three of the most unfriendly sort I have ever seen.  Eyes yellow-tinged and extremely bloodshot.  What they were saying, I never really understood.  I guess the security service company assumed that the population is so indoctrinated into the security check process that the masses would pass contentedly through like cattle through an abattoir.   Speaking English is not a job requirement. The next thing I know, I need to take off my boots (steel-toe), belt, vest, and empty my pockets.  CRAP!  In my pocket is the Case knife my father gave me.  It is of an extremely dangerous and intimidating size (4,5 cm blade) and as such, it could not be allowed to pass through Security.  I tried explaining the providence of the knife; it has been in the family for over forty years.  Even after showing all of my Identification, including a US Government issued Weapons Permit, these monosyllabic simeons were not going to let me through.  “Yuzcanpudditinyokarrmonn.” [You can put it in your car].  The car was over a ten minute walk away.  This was the last Ferry, and with less than five minutes before scheduled boarding, this was not an option.

The danger, the danger...Oh one is safe.

The danger, the danger...Oh one is safe.

So it was quickly slide on my boots, take belt, vest and other items in hand and go out past the first security check.  Friendly Raeol Ramirez shook his head.  “Can’t carry that in man.”  I asked him what I could do.  He told me that I could put it in one of the flowerpots in the area, and then retrieve it later.  Thanks Raeol, you’re a pal.  Knife stashed, I ran back and joined the group.  We managed to just get in line for the last ferry…


Last ferry...

Front of the boat

Oh look, here is our boat.

Only in America would you need this sign.  Funny, it is only in English.

Man is it windy... 


A boat...the boat we were on...

There she is...tell Burt Parks

Too far to swim Julia

More of the City.



So now we are on the Ferry to Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty.  Ain’t life grand!  It is a bit windy, but the weather is clear…As we approach the Statue of Liberty, a message comes across the PA system:  “This is the last ferry, you are welcome to disembark, but the ferry will leave in approximately fifteen minutes.  This is the last ferry to the New York side of the harbour.  Be sure not to get on the ferry to the New Jersey side”…Everyone was having a good time up to this point, as evidenced in the following photos:

Before the news about the schedule...Proof that Julia was there.Proof that Jonas was there too.Jonas...Manhattan in the backgroundI sense a storm coming...






OK, so we did not have time to get off of the boat.  What happened?  Well six unplanned stops happened.  We were not on the boat at 14.00 as planned and everything kind of went downhill fast.  Remember the ‘Prime Objective’?  Shopping? There is a bit more to it.  On the Calendar I prepared for the trip, one day was scheduled for NYC.  Three weeks before setting out, we had a family meeting about the trip.  At this point I had a preliminary schedule worked out.  Of primary importance was time in NYC to go shopping.  Julia promised her friend Paula (Pauli), that she would get a pair of shoes for her in NYC.  Specifically from 5th Avenue.  The problems were that if we spent two days in NYC, Hotels are exorbitantly expensive, and more importantly, we would only have one day in LA at the end of the trip.  So it was resolved to spend one day in NYC so that we would have time at the end to see Hollywood and LA.

Soooo, when the realisation hit that we would not only NOT have a whole day in NYC, but in reality, only a few hours, Julia looked like this:

After the news regarding time in NYC.Nick said this:

What? We are NOT getting off the boat?Then was…

Nick is not so thrilled either...Abby also…

Abby had a few questions too...

Jonas and Uta just hung in there….

In one of the flowerpots, my knife was stashed

In one of the flowerpots, my knife was stashed


But wait, there’s more!  Because we were on the last ferry, by the time we returned, the entrance hall was locked up tight.  There were two guys out from selling information and tours.  I asked one of them to go inside and look in the last flowerpot, under a sprig of ivy, for my knife.  The guy was cool enough to oblige, but no luck.  I would have been better off taking my chances with them earlier by slipping them 20 bucks and asking for them to either hold it for me or mail it to the farm.  Hindsight is always 20 /20…Oh well…

So back to the auto, and on our way to NYC.  Time: 18.40.

Holland TunnelHolland TunnelInto the bowels...feel more like I just was dragged out. Coming into NYC...Finally.Here we go.  Traffic was ‘Normal’.


Then it is time to try to find a place to park…Navi to the rescue.  311 W. Broadway.  There was a bright spot on the horizon.  In the garage we saw a Duc.

What? a Duc?Not a Duck, a Ducati!So that was a something.  It was hard to keep up with Julia, as she was in a near frenzy to get to the shops.  We passed quite a few, but they were only T-Shirt and curio shops.  She was looking for Mecca….Oh holy god of shopping...I see thine shrine“Bloomies”

Well she managed to find the shop, as well as GAP, Channel, J. Crew, Saga Fine Shoes, and Guess just to name a few…Abby, Nick, Jonas and I ended up at Yellow Rat Bastard…Abby found a bunch of cool stuff there.  Funny how all of the Major League Baseball caps are made in China.  Even more ironic later was to find that all of the caps for Corvette, GM, Ford are too…Makes you think doesn’t it?

While Uta and Julia were exploring the Guess store, Jonas, Nick, Abby and I went to get a bite to eat.  We ended up at Cafe Bari at 529 Broadway.  What an awaking!  7$ for a glass of Iced Tea!  18$ for a Personal-sized pizza.  Jeepers creepers!  Uta and Julia came in later and had a pizza, a salad and two iced teas…FIFTY BUCKS!  Good food, good service, but the prices were a bit of a shock.  I guess I am just a country bumpkin after all…More Booty from the Big AppleBooty from NYC

NYC to points west:

Map / TripTik for the 'Second Leg'

Well, it is going to be a long haul...

We survived the short time in NYC.  Definitely a trip for another day, week or month.  Too much to see.  Never made it to Chinatown, Little Italy, Greenwich Village, Guggenheim Museum or the other places on the list.  Oh, and no shoes for Pauli either.  So back to the car after a small panic that in our haste to get ‘to the shops’ we really did not note where the place was.  After a ‘short’ walking tour, we found the parking garage again.  Time: 21:45  Miles so far: 214 (324 km).

Well, getting out of NYC was not too bad…the only problem was that the hotel, Judy’s Jud's Motel in Bedford PAMotel-PA Dutch Heritage, asked that you check in before 22.00.  I can drive pretty fast, but somehow, the Navi said that it was going to take four hours to get there…(294 miles / 474 km).  Oh boy…I think I will wait to call…maybe we won’t be there that late…

Somewhere in the dark, a question was raised…”how long to the hotel?”  It is going to be a while…This was at around 23.3o, only about halfway.  Time to call the hotel.  Throttle down the engines, and pull to the site of the road.  Suddenly, and I mean SUDDENLY, behind us was our first encounter of the unpleasant kind…A PA State trooper.  As he swaggered out of the auto, one hand on his gun, and the other on his Mag-lite, I wondered how much it was going to cost.  (And if I had my license afterwards).  He slowly stalked the vehicle, shining his light on what were once sleeping passengers.  Confident that the Dodge Caravan was not full of escaping convicts, he came around to the driver’s side and asked for my license and registration.  “Where are you going?” he asked.  “Bedford” I answered.  “Do you still live at 3229 Zepp Rd, Mr. Kriebel?”  Wanting to remain completely honest, I answered “except for when I am travelling sir.”  He disappeared for a short time to his auto, I guess hoping that there was still a chance I was involved in some clandestine, and fine-able activity.   When he returned, he gave me back my documents, and asked: “Why did you pull over so quickly?”  “I needed to call the hotel to tell them we were delayed.”  Also completely true.  “OK, have a good evening, and a safe trip.”  And off he went.  I cannot explain where he came from.  It was as though he  materialised from the ether directly behind us.  The only reason I can figure is that as I was cruising along at twice the posted limit, and then suddenly slowed down, he did not have enough time to clock me.  I was lucky.  Oh and Dave, the owner of the Hotel, (I do not think there actually is a Judy) said no problem.  He would leave the keys in the rooms for us, and turn on the A/C.

I had really wanted to stop by Orbisonia to visit my friends Karen and Paul ‘Leadfoot’ Gheris, but as we cruised passed their exit at Fort Littleton, it was getting close to 01.30.  As it turns out, we took the exit for Bedford at exactly 02.00.  I have the Turnpike receipt.  We arrived at the hotel at 02.17.  End of Day 1 on the road…Second leg, 298 miles /477 km…


Posted in Day 1 - NYC to Bedford, PA | Leave a comment

Day 0,55 Pennsylvania

Day 0,55 – Welcome to Pennsylvania

 Well, we finally arrived in the USA.  For a recap, check the previous post.  So we have picked up the auto, and are on our way to Collegeville, PA.  While on the way up Route 76, the Schuylkill Expressway (pronounced Skool-kill), I talked a bit about the history of the area, the different indian tribes, and a brief history of Valley Forge.  

In the way of/on the way to Collegeville, is what once was the largest mall in the world.  That would be the mall in King of Prussia; The Plaza and the Court at King of Prussia.  In trying to explain that King of Prussia Mallwhen I was growing up that the piece of ground used to be a large pig farm, and most of the area was farmland that provided food for Philadelphia and the other Urban areas I heard only silence from the back seat…only for a moment however, when the question hit:  “can we stop?”  Not quite recovered from my three previous revelations and still distracted somwhat with mental mathematics, I had overlooked one other ‘Priority’ of this trip across America: SHOPPING!  Fortunately, it was Sunday, and the mall was closed!  So a brief look as we rounded the exit to get to route 422 West had to suffice…no discussion necessary.

So it was an uninterrupted ‘short’ hop to Collegeville to the “Letitia House” on 6th Avenue.  You can google the history of the house if that tickles your fancy.  The history of this house can be read in the following Philadelphia Inquirer Article: 

 Letitia P1Article, Page 2

 Well, we arrived. We left our house in Germany at 07.00, (01.00 EST) and arrived in Collegeville at 19.00 EST.  We had been travelling for over 18 hours, only nourished by over-priced coffee, and the anti-thesis of Organic Food: Airline meals.  Oh and a few 3$ Dr. Peppers at the Airport… Reverends Howard and Martha had the whole table overflowing with stuff to eat.  Wilbur Buds were the most interesting.  However, the meal was fantastic; low fat was not on the menu, in sensitivity to vegetarians I will not recount the bill of fare…

Of course, the most important course of the meal: Dessert…

That would be Mr. Kriebel

Moment of reflection at dinner...Dessert.  Especially for Rev. Dr. Mom. 


A few pictures of the place:

Letitia house - Front Door.Letitia house - Carriage HouseLetitia house - patio garten 


Alright then.  Well fed, I made my first telephone call to Thrifty…I really have to give a hearty THANKS, and hats off to the woman, Rebecca, who helped me.  In the end my wife was getting jealous…

Anyway.  I explained the situation with the auto, the circumstances (we were driving CLEAR across America), and that this auto was clearly unsafe at any speed.  Anyone who knows me, knows that I have more than a little ‘idea’ about cars.  When I was two-years-old, I was sitting on the fender of my Father’s 1940 Ford, (damn-you widow of Dave Phillips) while he rebuilt the wiring harness, and later watched as he leaded-in replacement pieces in the rear bonnet.  That was just the beginning.  When I first came here, all I had to get around was my 1967 Triumph Bonneville.  Not a motorcycle for the mechanical faint-of heart.  ‘Nuff said.  Dear Rebecca listened patiently to my concerns, our itinerary, and time constraints.  She said she would arrange for us to pick up a replacement auto in Manhattan, so we would not have to travel out of our way to exchange the death-trap we had for a reliable vehicle.  If there were any problems we were to contact each other, so we exchanged direct-dial numbers – eliciting dark looks from my wife…storm clouds gathering.  Oh dear.

It was a shame, but we had a schedule…Yes Andrew, Road trip and Itinerary do not fit together…However. 

We then traveled up to the family farm in Sumneytown to see my brother and his family.  The house was built in 1711, and renovated by my Father in 1972…story for another blog.

WarningOriginal MailboxFarmhouse from the road.Farmhouse from Gardenthe Barn.Honey house.Farmhouse from orchardShopFarmhouse from orchardRifle range...even a blatent idiot should get it..WARNING!Farmhouse...Garpe arbor.  Once hoppes grew hereFarmhouse from orchardOrchard.  Once upon a time there were over sixty trees here...David, better get busy.








Unfortunately my niece, Rachel was at camp.  Fortunately, this left her bed free, so that Julia had a place to sleep.

Bed at the Farm.Where someone will sleep...A real Franklin Stove



Well, there are no current pictures of the guest room where Jonas slept, or my old room where we slept…Julia kept a great record of where she slept at night though.  Thanks Julia.

One last note.  In America, there is no beer.  In Germany, that’s why we drink it here.  ( To take liberties with the song…”In heaven there is no beer, WHICH IS NOT TO SAY AMERICA IS HEAVEN).

But, Molson Ice is Pretty good.  Oh, it is CANADIAN beer.  One can only drink Yuengling Black and Tan ice cold…maybe two or three.  But jeepers it is made in PA….Regular Yuengling is OK.  What happened to ‘Joe’s Beer':  Ortliebs?

So after caring after the details it is finally time for bed, in prepartation for DAY ONE.  Can you believe it???




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Day 0,5 – Overnight in PA before NYC

Road Trip goody-bag 

Day o,5

Well, we are finally in the USA!  (1 August 2010).  The flight went well, and the seating in Economy class was as expected.  They sure have the name right when they call the plane ‘Airbus.’  At least there is no standing and holding onto straps…yet.  We arrived in Philadelphia at 14.30, only a half an hour behind schedule.  After waiting for the luggage, it was smooth sailing  through customs.  Then off to get the shuttle and pick up the rental auto…Well, we finally arrived at Thrifty Car Rental; man was it HOT!  When we left Germany, it was around 75°F and at the Rental lot it was over 95°F.  Where were we going over the next two weeks?  West.  Through the desert.  Oh boy.  It is a good thing that almost all autos come with Air Conditioning.  Having spoken with an Alex, David, Jesse, and finally Janice regarding the mix-up with the reservation through Expedia, I was hoping for a quick and easy pick-up of the rental car.  Hmmmn.  Hope is something.  Reality is something else entirely.  Arriving at the counter, explaining the previously (and what was believed to be resolved) complications, I was given the paperwork for our vehicle.  A Kia…with room for 5.  Once more through the explanation.  “We are travelling across the country; SIX OF US, WITH LUGGAGE.  The rental was made through Expedia, and I called and confirmed that we would be getting a Dodge Grand Caravan.  The confirmation number is 13318767XXX.  It is for a one-way rental…etc. etc.”

Well, it is a caravan...
green is NOT a lucky Colour

 After a few minutes, the friendly man behind the counter made a call, and suddenly he found our auto.   

Actually, the auto in the picture is not the one we had.  Somehow there are no pictures of it anywhere.  However, the colour, and condition look close enough.  What one cannot see is the 50.633 miles on the odometre; the condition of the interior vehicle was rife with the remnants of ice-cream-cones, dropped lollys, chili-dogs and other stains that would surely show up if the vehicle was studied on an episode of CSI  <<shudder>>  But we had the ‘correct’ vehicle.  So, all of the luggage was packed in the auto.  (Actually only 75%, since two participants are not on board yet…that would be on the ‘actual’ Day-1 of the trip.) 

Heh-Jah! Wagons west.  Or Northwest as it were.  Out Interstate 95 to 495 in the direction of Valley Forge, and we were on our way…I forgot about the peculiar manner with which Americans drive on the expressways.  No rules for merging…’Death Merge’ I believe is accurate.  Sort of a Kamikaze attack to get and hold a lane.  Maintaining a ‘safe’ following-distance is hazardous.  It is an invitation for another driver in an attempt to advance their own forward progress to suddenly jet into this open space, thus eliminating said ‘safe following distance.’  I was in the mid of a Lindbergh-ian mental exercise, calculating the average piston speed of the motor at a particular RPM.  Sometimes I do this.  This particular instance I believe was an attempt to provide a distraction from the undertaking I had before me…Well…in my moment of reverie, my ‘Safe Following Distance’ was suddenly usurped by some yak in a Mitsubishi sporting one of those rear-spoilers that make them look like a Walmart shopping cart.  A fat muffler hung by what appeared to be a coat hanger and sounded like Babe the Blue Ox with terminal flatulence.  At this moment several things became apparent:  

  1. Complex mathemetical calculations should not be done in one’s head on a busy highway.  Perhaps better left for driving through the endless desert.
  2. I was relatively certain from the ashen look on my wife’s face and the “Lieber Gott” she managed to gasp, that I was going to be doing all of the driving on this trip.  So much for the 130$ ‘additional driver’ premium.
  3.  From the violent shuddering that ensued from the steering wheel, all was not right with the Caravan.  Either a ball-joint was clapped out, or the brake rotor on the driver’s side was warped like an LP left in an Alabama Pacer in August…

Looks like I had some more calls to make.  I pulled into the right-hand lane, and tried to remember the formula for calculating traffic Delays…(N(n+1) + N(n+2) + N(n+3)) I think it was…or was it a Cauchy problem: f(x, y(t), ρ) = ρ · v(ρ) · ϕ(x − y(t)) ?  It was going to be a long trip…at least we were going to have some time with the family before the trouble started in earnest, er I mean, before the adventure began.  Looks like I the next installment is going to be Day 0,55

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