Thursday, October 9, 2008

Catching up: Portland Part I

The trip to Portland through the Vermont mountains not only saved us a good bit of driving time, it also provided us with a very scenic landscape. As usual though, the sky opened at one point and spat down it's rainy fury upon us. Nothing nearly as bad as I've already experienced in various other parts of the country but this was no picnic by any stretch of the imagination.

We arrived at our pitch black campground slightly before 10pm. The older lady at the gate handed me a teeny map and pointed out where my site was, gestured in the general direction of the road, and bid me adieu.

Considering this was a campground with lots and lots of RVs coming and going, you would think they would light/design it so driving wouldn't be reminiscent of driving through a pitch black Detroit. Such was not the case.

I of course managed to blow right past my campsite. Again, it's pitch black with little tiny painted wooden signs marking the individual campsites.

I followed Steve to his spot and helped him get his trailer parked. He hopped in with me to return the favor with my spot. Proving the people running the campground obviously hated RV'ers, they had strategically placed freaking barrels in the middle of every "intersection". They also made sure that the tree enveloped roads were jusssssst wide enough to fit your rig through. A margin of error of maybe a foot or two on either side.

We get to the "intersection" where I had the option of turning right to get to my campsite instead of going straight and looping the whole way around. I wasn't thrilled to attempt the tight turn with so many ominous lanky trees everywhere but Steve seemed confident that there was plenty of room.

All was going well until I misjudged how much room I had on my left (I had more than I thought). The extra space I had on my left was obviously subtracted from my right. The road was kind slanted and riddled with tree roots. My awning totally started making out with a tree on my right hand side. Exactly what I was hoping for after a 5-6 hour drive late at night in a dark ass campground.

Steve gets out and we determine that no matter what I'm going to have to scape something to get unstuck. After a good bit of Austin Powers maneuvering and a few "Oh crap, I meant turn your wheels the other way" from Steve, I eventually was able to get back on track. It was totally my fault for misjudging how much space to leave on my left. The awing is scraped and cracked in one spot but it's not going to fall off and I never used it anyway. It could've been much worse.

So we get to my spot and I pull in, unhitch and setup. Only then do I notice that I pulled in so the water dump station is on the opposite side of where I empty my tanks. Brilliant. This wouldn't have been such a big issue if it weren't for the fact that *ok this is the gross part so skip ahead if you'd like* my septic tank somehow was almost filled to capacity which meant one of two things:

1. I had some sort of dreadful plumbing problem that I really really realllllly never wanted to deal with. or

2. The septic dudes had managed to skip right over me in Glens Falls because they could sense how much I hated their town.

It was far too late and way too dark to try to pull out, turn around, and come in from the other way. The problem was solved without any uber grossness. Sorry to disappoint.

The campground was quite scenic in the daylight with a large lake and plenty of trails through the woods that provided a great jogging route.

Eventually Steve and I headed into town to grab some seafood.

We ended up next to a window where there was a guy in a lobster suit trying to steer people in the joint next to us. He kept doing this "pope hand thing" at everyone who passed by.

After lunch we heading into South Portland in search of the Apple Store that had just opened. I bought my lappy right before joining the tour and already the battery was fried. I'd unplug it from charging and it would immediately go to "reserve battery power" and then promptly shut off. I know Apple batteries are notorious for....well just being complete crap but that's a bit redonkulous.

So, based on my experience, here's the way getting something repaired at the Apple store works.

- Walk into Apple store
- Be accosted by ever sales person on the floor despite the fact that they see everyone else accosting you.
- Tell one of them that you just here to get a battery replaced
- Stare in disbelief when the sales person at the computer kiosk by the "Genius Bar"....yes they really call it that says to you "Well....our next opening is in about two hours or you can make an appointment for tomorrow".

Ok seriously, I know people generally have unhealthy relationships with their macs and all but there is no need to be required to schedule an appointment like it's a child going to the doctor's. C'mon!

So whatever, I schedule my "appointment" for the next day and we head back to the campground.

I make it in to my appointment the next day to find out they were about 20 minutes behind. It really was like taking my mac to the doctor's.

So being as patient as possible, I explain to my bearded mac user man that I just need a new battery. After going through an exhaustive diagnostics and some contemplative beard scratching, he comes to the conclusion that "you need a new battery" DING DING DING we have a winner!

The punchline cam an instant later: "Ok, well let me go see if we have any batteries in the back"

Ummm....what? I looked around to make sure I was actually in a Apple Store and not, I don't know......Payless Footwear or something.

Maybe I was out of line assuming that the Apple Store would actually carry Apple batteries.

Luckily for me (and for him as well) they had a battery in stock.

And the last thing you do when leaving the Apple store after obviously having just gotten something repair is to be accosted yet again by every sales person one final time.


More to come in Portland Part II.........

Catch Up Part III: Glens Falls, NY

So yeah, about the flattering picture of Mr. Glens Falls himself, Hacksaw Jim Duggan.......that pretty much sums up the town.

We powered through the drive with no major problems and rolled in around 8 or 9ish. I experienced my first "complete shit lot" that was to be home for the next few days. I was reassured however that the Glens Falls lot was not the worst they've experienced. We wear by no means "Cheeellllin' at the Holiday Eeeeeennnnn" however. There were two separate lots that were very long but not very wide at all. Steve and I have smaller trailers and were able to back in longways next to each other so we got off easy. We all had to park our trucks down the street a ways since there was only room for the trailers on the lot.

Arriving on the lot, I experienced my first feeling of "I really really don't want to be back here". The whole vibe and energy had changed and everything had taken on a much darker tone. I'm not sure if it was the weather, the lot, Gelns Falls, or what but It seemed to be affecting everyone. Moods were darker and there was this lingering tension in the air that left me uncomfortable. I'm not really sure how to put it into words but it wasn't fun.

The wonderous sight, smell, and sound of the Glens Falls paper mill greeted us every morning. As an added bonus, we were all parked right next to a shady section of town. Case in point: two obvious Fulbright Scholars attempted to steal the Negrey's stroller from underneath their trailer....when it was still light out. Seriously, a stroller. I mean, I'm sure these were the kind of guys who probably had the 16 year old girlfriend with the 2 year old daughter but still....

Two other Viking Diapers approached Nathan, Steve, and I while we were hooking up our water asking "d'yew know if they need any workers here? So you guys just hang out here or what?". Gah. very comforting, right?

The highlight of the Glens Falls experience was this small jazz bar right up the street from the arena. How one of the two bars in the downtown area ended up being a decent jazz bar, I have no idea. Anyway, there was a quartet playing when we went in and on their break I asked if it was an open session. It wasn't technically, but the fact that I actually wanted to sit in seemed to excite them. I don't think that happens too often there, haha. I was able to convince Steve to walk up and sit in as well. We burned through 'Footprints' and 'Well You Needn't" and as far as I could tell, earned the approval of both bar and band. That lifted the mood slightly but I was still way anxious to get the hell out of Glens Falls.

There were two final events/observations that solidified my opinion of Hacksawland:

1. After the last show when I was walking out to my trailer, two arena workers were moving something or other and the conversation I overheard as I walked by went something like this:

WT1: So they have tigers in there?
WT2: Yep, like two of 'em I think (there are six for the record). They were white ones too.
WT1: Oh yeah?
WT2: Yeah, :snortle snortle: I heard the 'Black Panthers' were pissed off about the 'White Tigers' getting all the work and were going to riot :snortle snortle:
WT1: Hyuk hyuk hyuk

I did hear that Glens Falls is somewhat of a residual KKK stronghold so I guess that makes sense.

2. Steve and I went out to find diesel for my truck. The station we pulled into had the gas pumps in the front and diesel pumps in the back. I went in to pay and...well I couldn't find an appropriate picture but hopefully this description will suffice:

There was that one Beavis and Butthead episode where they snuck into a Nudist Colony, right? The episode closes with someone interviewing them as old men about their lives . Butthead is this super fat, bald, moderately toothless version of himself and Beavis is the scrawny half toothless counterpart.

The two dudes working in this gas station had to have been the inspiration for those characters.

As I paid, I let 'Butthead' know one of the diesel pumps was broken.

Butthead: Uhhhhhh....Diesel pump?

Me: Yeah, that one right over there ::point::

Butthead: (Jeopardy theme plays as a get a blank stare in the cowboys in the Horse Theives Ren and Stimpy Episode) then eventually: Ohhhhhh.....I get it now. Gas pumps are in the front and diesel pumps are in the back!

Beavis: You jist now figgerin' that out? You dumb or somethin'...

Butthead: Shut up! This ain't my regular store. I've only been here eight hours.

I managed to slip out as the argument progressed.

The next stop was a mini mart to get some water. More of the same, not worth getting into.

It was like we were in the "South" North or something.

I was very happy once we were hitched up and heading to Portland via Vermont.