Interior, Maintenance, Navigation, Quilts, Trips

E is for Electric Bicycle

Happy Anniversary!

On September 28th we celebrated our 25th Wedding Anniversary. Rather than traditional jewelry–of which I have enough to open my own store after two dozen previous anniversaries, not to mention birthdays, Christmas, and Mother’s Day–Karl decided I needed an electric bicycle, so I can keep up with him on our battlefield rides (which sometimes become an actual battlefield when we are riding together).

I had been researching electric bicycles for a month or so, and although the pricing was definitely cheaper to buy direct, we both knew I needed to test ride a few before making a purchase decision. Similar to when we purchased our E-trek, we had to drive a considerable distance to find a bicycle store which actually stocked electric bicycles. We ended up going to a specialty bicycle store which had a good selection of electric bicycles and accessories. After discussing which models would be appropriate for our battlefield rides, we took three to test ride. I decided on the A2B Ferber. The first bicycle I tried felt too jerky when the pedal assist engaged, but the A2B was very smooth. I didn’t even try the third bicycle, since the ladies’ model was on backorder and I wanted something sooner rather than later.


We had planned to take an anniversary trip to Gettysburg for my inaugural ride; however, our dogs were sick, so we had to postpone our trip.  Still, we enjoyed a nice ten-mile ride on our anniversary. For his gift, Karl wanted a massage chair insert–he had the idea when we were looking at the Chinook RVs at the Hershey RV Show which had built-in massage chairs. With an insert, he could turn any chair into a massage chair. We also got a foot massager, but ended up returning the massage chair insert since it wasn’t very comfortable to sit in (unless you were using it), and it was cumbersome to store. He ended up exchanging it for a smaller neck massager and small pillow massage.

Our joint gift was something I had been working on for a few months. I enlisted the help of my mother-in-law, who is a very talented quilter,  to make a memory quilt out of a variety of t-shirts we had collected during our 25-year marriage. I included t-shirts from Gettysburg, Hersheypark, Disney MGM, Outerbanks (NC), Las Vegas, and Washington DC. Some of the shirts were quite worn, but were given new and enduring life in the quilt. I ordered all of the fabric and shipped everything down to her (she lives in Florida). For the border fabric, I chose a license plate design that included  all of the colors of the various t-shirts. For the backing, I found beautiful National Park 100th Anniversary fabric which makes it perfect to commemorate the year (2016). The finished quilt is the perfect size for our E-trek!


Finally, last weekend, we were able to take a trip. Ryan needed his winter clothes, as Boston was suddenly very cold; we decided to make the trip through Saratoga as we did right before Labor Day weekend. After two years of trips to Boston, we discovered the best way to Boston was to take the NY Thruway to the Mass Pike and avoid Connecticut all together. Even though it adds 60+ miles each way, it can be even shorter time-wise since the traffic actually moves. Saratoga takes us even further out of the way, but when we can combine our trip to Boston with two 12-mile bicycle rides, it makes for a fun trip.

Friday evening we drove almost all the way to Saratoga (about three hours) and parked for the night at a Cracker Barrel near Albany. We slept very well–nearly an hour later than our usual 6:00 a.m. wake-up time. I purchased coffee to go from Cracker Barrel, we were on the road by 8:00, and we arrived at Saratoga by 8:30 a.m. On our previous trip to Saratoga, we had GPS issues; however, in the meantime I had obtained the GPS coordinates which we input into our Becker navigation system, plus we had Google Maps running, so no trouble. We did have the dogs with us, so we had to leave them in their crates while we went on our hour-long ride. I used the Manything app to check in on them periodically from my iPhone.

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After our ride we had a quick lunch in the E-trek and were off to Boston about 11:30 a.m. and arrived at Ryan’s place about 3:15, having stopped along the way to gas up. We were only in Boston for about a half-hour to unload the clothes and see the furniture he had bought since he moved in last month. Ryan’s “animal house” was loaded with friends tailgating before a rugby game that evening, so he was anxious for us to be on our way. We called ahead for take-out at the Cracker Barrel in Sturbridge, MA (about an hour from Boston), where we fed the dogs and enjoyed dinner in our E-trek. After two more hours of driving, we parked at the same Cracker Barrel near Albany, where we had stayed Friday night. Somehow, after setting up the beds, taking the dogs out, and showering, it was close to 10:00 p.m., so it was time for bed.

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We did have a few new modifications to test out. We had purchased an inexpensive spring tension curtain rod to prop the bathroom doors open to provide a private dressing area after showering. At the same time, we purchased a squeegee to help push the water down the shower drain, since we are rarely parked level when showering so the water tends to pool up–no fun to step in an inch of cold water when you get up in the middle of the night to use the facilities. Both purchases worked well, except for that fact that we had also placed a tub mat in the bathroom, and I forgot to open the drain before showering, so there was even more water pooled than usual. The tub mat did not help anyway–so it’s since been removed. We had also purchased a few new rugs and placed one outside the bathroom and the other one behind our chairs for the dogs.

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Same drill on Sunday–coffee to go from Cracker Barrel, then back to Saratoga by 8:30 a.m. We had a more relaxing day, since we didn’t have the drive to Boston ahead of us, so we spent more time stopping at the points of interest along the tour route through the battlefield. It was coincidentally the anniversary of the Battle of Saratoga, so there was a lot of activity including a bicycle event, encampment, as well as the peak fall foliage to enjoy!

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We were just about to declare this our most successful trip ever, when on the drive home we noticed a familiar message on the dash display: CHECK DIESEL EXHAUST FLUID, accompanied by the service engine light. Fifty miles later, we received the warning tone and another message stating we had ten starts remaining. We had recently experienced this message in May on our way to Boston and had learned it was caused by faulty sensors, not by a problem with the Diesel Exhaust Fluid (as the Mercedes-Benz Owner’s Manual suggests).  At the time of the first occurrence in May, our mileage was approximately 7,800 and about 2,000 miles later we had the same problem. It is definitely not the Diesel Exhaust Fluid–we had it topped off at Mercedes-Benz on August 30th. At that time, Karl purchased a case of the Mercedes-Benz Ad Blue Diesel Exhaust Fluid and he topped it off again before we desparted on October 7th. We have contacted Mercedes-Benz regarding this recurring problem and are anxiously waiting for a reply. To be continued…

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