French Creek State Park Campground – Ellsworth, Pennsylvania – Sept 26 to Oct 3, 2023

Woke up Tuesday morning, September 26th to rain. We had to work in the rain to take things down and pack things up, which is always fun. We finally got everything ready and left around 11 am for a 2 1/2 hour drive down to French Creek State Park in Elverson, Pennsylvania for a week’s stay. It was still raining when we arrived so we had the joy of setting up in the rain as well.

One of the first things I do after backing in or pulling in is to plug in my Electrical Management System (EMS) to make sure the pedestal power is working. If it’s not, you don’t want to be all set up and then have to tear down to move to another site. When I plugged it in the EMS said line 1 on the 50 amp was low voltage, then high, then low, then normal which is NOT the kind of fluctuation you want. I checked the 30 amp and it was good so I just plugged into that one for the night until I can report the problem with the 50 amp and get it repaired.

Wednesday it was still raining, but at least intermittently. During one of the drier spans of time we took Bella for a walk and stopped by the Camp Hosts site to report the power pedestal issue. Shortly after we retuned from Bella’s walk the repairman arrived and installed a new 50 amp breaker and we were all set. Having 50 amps to work with means we don’t have to juggle the use of high-power appliances like the A/C, microwave, air fryer, etc. It’s a little thing, but nice not to have to worry about.

We ran a few errands in the nearest town and returned to find we had neighbors in the site next to us. They had three dogs that barked constantly and a toddler whose only form of communication was ear-blasting screams. Another one of the joys of camping in public areas, lol.

Thursday dawned with no rain, just overcast skies. Mobile Tech and his helper arrived about 9 am and thankfully he is Lippert (the manufacturer of our slide-out) Certified. He quickly determined it was the gear box motor and knew right where to cut into the underbelly to access it. This part is not cheap by any means so he doesn’t keep any on hand and will have to order it. He also fixed the manual crank so at the very least (if he can’t get the part before we leave next Tuesday) I can bring the slide-out in when we depart.

I also had him remove the malfunctioning slide-out awning since there’s no way I can manually crank the slide-out in from the front side AND adjust the broken slide-out awning as it comes in from the opposite side. Hopefully that won’t be the case and we’ll have the new gear box motor before we leave, but just in case we don’t…

And we have another issue, though unrelated. Something white is leaking out of the power jack on the trailer tongue. We’ve only had it a little over a year (we got it in Canada last July) and it’s a head scratcher. It doesn’t use hydraulics and the only other thing it could be is grease in the gears except the grease they use is red, not white. Will have to contact the manufacturer (again, Lippert) to see if they can tell me what is going on and how to fix it.

Thursday night the mobile tech messaged me that he can get the gear box motor and be back on Monday at 8:30 am to install it. Hallelujah! We had also reached out to our insurer to see if any of this would be covered so their inspector will be out Monday morning as well to look things over.

Friday it was still cloudy and overcast when we got up. Ran some more errands and I cooked up several meals of hamburgers and chicken on the griddle, then made pancakes and bacon for dinner that night. About the time I finished up and put everything away, the rain returned and lasted most of the night.

Saturday we didn’t do much. Walked Bella and Cindy made her homemade tomato cream soup (which I LOVE!) and baguettes for dinner. The comfort food was nice 🙂

Sunday was a decent day weather-wise. We took Bella and hiked the nearby Lenape Trail which was about 3 miles. It was also supposed to be a moderate hike, but it was very rocky with lots of above-ground tree roots so it was a lot more exertion than we expected. But it was good for us, lol. After we got back to Nomad we drove to nearby Pottstown so Cindy could go to the Michael’s store there and get some more thread she needed for her tatting projects.

On the way back we saw a sign for Hopewell Furnace and, not knowing what that might be, decided to check it out. Of course it also helped that I took a wrong turn, but as Cindy says it’s all an adventure.

We stopped in at the Visitor Center and the ranger was very helpful in giving us an overview of what Hopewell Furnace was and did. We also watched a video in the theater before touring the museum and grounds.

In 1771 Mark Bird built Hopewell Furnace, part of the burgeoning iron industry in the colonies. The abundant natural resources in the colonies and Pennsylvania in particular favored this expansion. It took an acre of woodlands to make enough charcoal to run an iron furnace for just one day. The ancient forests of Pennsylvania proved ideal for such high demand. Hopewell began by producing stoves, iron cookware and utensils that colonists used in their everyday lives. In fact Hopewell and other American furnaces, forges and mills were turning out one-seventh of the world’s iron goods.

When the American Revolution erupted in 1776, Hopewell (and other furnaces in the colonies) began producing cannons, cannonballs, shot and other weapons for the soldiers to use in battle. They were so important to the war effort that General George Washington took his army to Valley Forge in part to protect the supply lines for the products that were being made in the area.

Most of the workers at the Hopewell Furnace lived in company housing and bought all their goods at the company store; their purchases being deducted from their pay. But pay was good for the times and at the height of production the furnace would be burning 24 hours a day, ensuring workers as many hours and work as they could use.

Like most booms, this one would go bust. After the war Bird had trouble collecting what he was due from the new nation he had helped form with his iron and soon would not be able to pay his own creditors and then his workers. That, and a flood in 1786, led to the closure of Hopewell Furnace in 1788 when it was sold at a sheriff’s sale.

In 1935 the property was sold to the federal government and eventually was designated as a National Historic Site. Restoration continues to this day and local Amish builders have been used throughout that rebuilding to maintain the authenticity of the buildings and property.

We really enjoyed this visit and appreciated the history that we learned , especially since it was unplanned.

Monday morning the Mobile Tech and his helper arrived around 8:30 and within the hour had the gear box motor installed and working. Whoooo Hoooo! No more cramped-even-more-than-usual living! The insurance inspector arrived, looked things over and gave his opinion that none of it would be covered. We have to wait for the official decision from the company, but as I told Cindy, their job is to find reasons to say “No” to paying out claims.

The afternoon brought an unexpected and unwelcome arrival; stink bugs. We were infested with them for almost two weeks last year after our stay in Memphis. Now it seemed they were in Pennsylvania as well. I got out the remedy we had used to some degree of success last year; dryer sheets, and began rubbing down all the window frames and the door frame where they congregated trying to get inside. If it’s anything like last year, they’ll be around for another couple of weeks before they’re completely gone. They like to snuggle down in crevices.

Relaxed the rest of the day. We have an early start the next day and a lot of driving to get to our next stop in Virginia.

Thanks for following The Wandering Wetheringtons.

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