Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Hanging Out Everywhere in Howe, IN....

Howe, IN. Twin Mills Campground Site: C-55.  High: 70.  Low: 61

We are having great weather as far as temps go, but crummy weather as we are being followed by rain wherever we go as we head our way back to Indiana and parts south and west eventually. We decided to skip Florida this year and change our doctors and dentists to where much of Eldy's family is, in Indiana. Besides, driving all the way south to Florida just to catch up on our health needs doesn't make a lot of sense when we like to travel to the Dakotas,Texas and Arizona. It's way down to Florida, then way back up out of Florida, to be precise. Hahahahaha....So here we are....in Howe, IN, for two weeks, then Brian's house ("mooch docking" for a week), back to Howe for another two weeks, then finishing up the end of October back at Brian's house for a week. Sparky LOVES to do landscape work, like cut grass. Remember that zero turn lawn mower story awhile back? Well, she's going to give it another go here soon, if the rain will quit. (uh, oh, I better warn Brian, laughs Eldo.) If you have been reading along, you might recall Sparky's maniacal ride on the zero turn lawn mower with zero experience. Haha...

Today, one of Brian's dogs got into a skunk, or SOMETHING dead. With the adult kids having to go to work, Eldo and Sparky dog sat and

Sparky shampooed the dog, trying to get rid of the smell. There's commercial stuff you can get for skunk odor removal available at big box stores and PetSmart. What is it about skunk odor that clings and clings and clings? You can just walk around in the nearby vicinity of a skunk kill and smell like one for the next three hours!!!

We don't know if that commercial stuff works or not, but there's also a great recipe from the American Kennel Association that came up several times. Off to the grocery store to buy a quart of hydrogen peroxide, some Dawn, (good ole Dawn, that stuff is great for EVERYTHING! says Sparky, who was NOT paid for that endorsement) and baking soda. Mix a quart of hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup baking soda, a few teaspoons of Dawn, slather it all over the dog, wait five minutes then wash it off. It worked pretty well. Sparky now has tie dyed peroxide capri pants. (I TOLD you to watch out for Izzy shaking herself off to dry! warned Eldo.) Yes, sir, he did. It's ok, Sparky needed a pair of work/hitching up pants anyway.

What else is going on? How about our campground in the Halloween spirit three weeks early? Every weekend starting the last weekend in September, up till the week BEFORE the 31st, which is when they close for the season, they have trick or treat on Saturday. And the campground is decorated up the wazoo for the camping families and kids who show up in droves on the weekend. They have been doing this for YEARS and it's on both sides of the campground which is split into two sections across highway 120 in Howe. Inflatables seem to be the big thing, haha. Literally.

We love it. It's just for the weekend, then everybody goes home on Sunday and the campground is empty during the week. The kids' costumes are great, the decorated golf cart parade is great after trick or treat night, and everybody appreciates the talented teams that bring TRAILERS of decorations to make the campground so spooky and fun to be there. Sparky absolutely LOVES the "Bone Collector' truck that has been there the last couple of years. (Gee, it's probably because she's such a BIG Coke drinker, ya think???? laughs E.)

While we were at Howe the first time, we stumbled on a classic car show at the Das Essenhaus restaurant grounds. It's every Thursday from May till October, and we just happened to see the very last show of the season. There were about 2,000 cars there! All over the grounds. People start coming a couple of days ahead of time. There is no rhyme or reason to where you put your car. You show up with your beautiful classic car, you find a place on the grassy hillside to park it, and BOOM! Wait for the people to come chat and take photos of your beautiful baby. Sparky loves this one. No idea what kind it was, it was just cool!
The flower quilts all over Elkhart and Goshen are winding down...You can take a quilt garden tour earlier in the summer, get a map and drive to the different locations. They are quite spectacular and at their best at the end of the summer and early fall....This one at Das Essenhaus Restaurant was still looking quite amazing!

Sparky rides the Pumpkinvine Bike Trail a lot while staying at Twin Mills. She's been riding a couple of BIG rides for her....25-33 miles. That's what's great about the Pumpkinvine, you can go for short rides between Middlebury and Shipshewanna, (about 6 miles) or keep going and ride from Shipshewanna to Abshire Park in Goshen and back, and that will give you about 33 miles. She LOVES seeing the Amish out farming with their teams of horses, meeting the many Amish who bike the trail regularly going to work or to shop, and the scenery is always changing. It's fun to see the Amish kids out at recess, (there are a couple of schools along the trail) every last one of them barefoot, the girls in long dresses, the boys with suspenders, playing baseball with their teacher. It's a beautiful ride any time of year....

A typical parking lot on Saturday
Sparky loves to shop in Shipshewanna (Eldo says: and that, my friends, is the understatement of the year...there are mysterious bags coming into the RV quite often that quickly disappear from sight when we are at Howe, IN) Gotta love Lolly's fabric store and Yoders' department store, where they have an amazing collection of shoes and fabrics. Now just to clarify things, Sparky ONLY loves to shop at: 1. craft stores, 2. good fabric/craft stores, and 3. donut shops and 4. Etsy. She hates shopping at department stores or malls. (Well, THAT'S a relief! exclaims E.)

And finally, a visit to a real genuine cider mill in Middlebury, another burg close by to where Twin Mills Campground is located. It's called Miller's Mill, and you can go watch REAL cider being made with antique cider presses while you wait to buy some AMAZING cider to take home with you. They were super busy the day we went, so we just watched for a brief time, and were not able to talk to the owner about the process. It was fascinating just the same to see a delicious product made with the old press still functioning just fine. You watch orchard owners drive up with apples in the back seat and dump them in a chute. 

The apples get ground and smashed and the juice pours out beneath the press. 

Then the apple juices are poured into jugs. Not sure what they do with the mashed apples, but that part looked delicious, too.

Mr. Miller had a great helper the day we went. He's learning early the value of hard work needed to run a successful family business the old fashioned way. It really was the best apple cider we have ever had!

And that about covers a couple of weeks in the Howe/Shipshewanna/Middlebury area. Lots to see and do, that's for sure! This is "home base" for us, so we always enjoy seeing family and friends in the area when we come. Eldy is going to play golf with his brother soon, and we are getting doctor and dentist visits in before we head south towards Texas. Thanks for following us along on our journey! See you next time.....

PS. Sometimes Blogger does weird stuff with fonts and spacing. Sparky apologizes for that because she has tried many times to fix it in the editing and sometimes it doesn't "take". It looks fine in the editing part, but then publish it and WHOOPS! something happens....sigh....


Sunday, September 19, 2021

Moving Along to Munising

Munising, MI  High: 64  Low: 54.  AT&T service excellent  Site: 49 back in

It only took us an hour and a half to drive from Grand Marais to Munising, to the Munising Tourist Park Campground. Eldo likes those short drives! We are in a very nice site, but not on the water. That's ok. You'd have everyone walking in front of your rig walking up and down the beach. We are here for four days. There is so much to do in this area, that four days is not enough for sure. This is our second time here, so we thought we could get 'er done in the time we were here. Nope!

Tons of waterfalls, more than ten, visiting the beautiful Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore area, kayaking the Pictured Rocks area, which the true amazing beauty of the rock formations are best seen from a  boat tour, or a glass bottom boat shipwreck tour, hikes through the Hiawatha Forest, visiting the Grand Island National Recreational area by ferry, seven lighthouses, short hikes, long hikes, art murals downtown Munising, mountain biking trails, ATV adventures, the scenic drive along Highway 58 from Munising to Grand Marais, and Kitch-iti-kipi and Manistique. It's all here and no way can we begin to do justice to the area in four days. So Sparky has listed the highlights, and we are just going to have to come back to the area again! Be sure to get the 2021 Guide to the Wild Places, Munising, Home of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. 

 Our site is off to the side in the park and is VERY spacious. We have water and electric but no sewer. It appears to be a newer site as it has a brand new electric post with 50 amp service. Many of the sites at the Munising Tourist RV park do not have sewer, they are just water and electric, but some of the sites do have sewer. You just have to pay careful attention when booking. This is a park that you have to book WA-A-A-Y out in advance to get a site on Lake Superior. We booked in May and couldn't get a waterfront site then. There's more driftwood here, and somebody built a teepee! Sparky is in there somewhere...

There is a LOT to do here, lots of hiking trails, mountain biking trails (Sparky doesn't have the right kind of bike for that) and anywhere from 10-13 waterfalls, (Sparky keeps seeing a difference in the number) most of which we've seen years ago, but of course, Sparky wants to revisit! Tomorrow it's going to rain all day, so Sparky has her work cut out for her, time for planning!

We ate at the Dogpatch Restaurant in Munising this evening....VERY old and quaint restaurant, great burgers....There's an old jalopy out in front of the restaurant...missed a photo of it! The inside of the restaurant is all about Lil Abner and Daisy and characters (cartoon strip from many many years ago) and a very folksy menu tops out the theme. Sparky barely remembers Lil Abner! That was a cartoon strip that ran from 1934 to 1977.
On our rainy day, we explored some back roads where Eldy used to go snowmobiling over 30 years ago. Some places had really changed, some had not. We ate supper at a place called the Buckhorn Resort, an updated restaurant that dates back to the 1930's. The food was all right, nothing amazing...They have bird feeders in front of the glass windows overlooking Hovey Lake, a beautiful lake. Woodpeckers and finches visited the feeders while we were there. Sparky wished she had had her nice point and shoot camera, which she didn't. This big chair reminds Sparky of Lily Tomlin playing Edith Ann, talking in that funny nasal voice, was that the Laugh In show? 

If you are in Munising, be sure to check out the art/mural displays all over town. Interesting snippets of history and representations of life in the Lake Superior/UP area.
Time for some waterfalls (there are FOURTEEN? of them in the Munising area!)....and a hike. Sparky tried to drive to the  Chapel Rock/Falls Basin loop hike. It's 15 miles east along H-58 to Chapel Hill Road, then a sandy dirt county road for 5 miles to park at the trailhead. The road disintegrated very rapidly from heavy rains the day before, especially after the county road responsibility ends. After a bone jarring, tooth shaking severe bumpy ride with deep hidden water filled potholes, with 2.8 miles still to go and the road getting worse, Sparky bailed and turned around. The potholes were HUGE and even with a 4 wheel drive big Ram truck, the amount of bouncing around in the truck was concerning. Sparky was also worried about being able to 
park in usually small trailhead parking lots with the big dually. On the way back, was Miner's Castle Overlook and two trails--Sand Point and North Country Trail. Sparky stopped there and got a couple of photos and did a short hike on Sand Point. The photo at the left is Miner's Castle. 

Sand Point is mostly just a pretty walk thru the forest, a little on the boring side. Sparky likes uphill and down, tree roots, boulders, stuff like that! (Until she takes her first spill, which I hope never happens, explains E. She's a trooper, that's for sure!) North Country Trail might have been the better choice. Then she tried to stop by Miner's Falls parking lot to see the falls and couldn't find a spot for the big truck to park. It was noon and very crowded.

Rainbow Cave
Back to the rig to reassess other possible hikes and let's take a Pictured Rocks boat tour! About two hours for 48.00 a person if you want to go all the way to Spray Falls, and 40.00 for a slightly shorter ride. Great boat cruise, you learn a lot about the geology of the rocks and learn some of the names of the rock formations--Chapel Rock, Battleship Row, Indian Point, Lover's Leap and more. Our guide was interesting and humorous. But we feel the extra 8.00 for the slightly longer trip just to see Spray Falls was not worth it, and the shorter, cheaper one would be just as cool. 

The best time of the day to go for the lighting and photos is the later times of the day offered. We took the 5:00 cruise. It was a wavy, choppy day, so sit in the front of the boat for less rockin' and rollin'. BUT--wear a raincoat because the front of the catamaran boat front seats gets spray from the bow plowing through the water! We got pretty wet! It was a lot colder on the water this time of year (mid September) so wear warm layers as well. 
On our last day at Munising....We drove back to Miner's Falls and managed to get in the parking lot. That was THE most beautiful walk, .6 of a mile one way through the most beautiful forest to see the falls. They did not disappoint!

The Miner's Falls are pictured below....
We also hit Au Train Falls which wasn't much of a falls at all this time of year...rather, cascading water down a series of shale rock shelves.
Then, we decided to go find Kitch-Iti-Kipi, (an Ojibwa word) also known as the famous Big Spring in Manistique, MI, about an hour from Munising, and off we went. What a great choice that was!

The Big Spring, is located at Palm Book State Park in Manistique. It is an amazingly beautiful spring that is constantly being fed to the pond water which is the coolest teal green you have ever seen. 
Sparky's photos do not do it justice. The reflections of the pines bouncing off the water just add to its beauty. The views below the glass bottom of the raft are incredible, with the fish swimming below.

It is right inside the park and a short distance from the parking lot by the gift 
shop. There is a glass bottom raft that is people propelled across the short spring. It is so rudimentary, that the park doesn't man it with anybody who works for the park, at least they didn't at this time of day or year--5:00 PM, mid September. A bunch of people show up, walk down to the raft entrance, get on, (the maximum is about 35 people), then someone offers to turn the ship wheel which starts the pulley moving the raft very slowly across the spring, which takes about 10-15 minutes depending on how steady the wheel gets turned. 

You know there are people waiting back at the start to get on, so you don't dilly dally so everybody gets a turn at the wheel if they want to, or stand and take in the views at the railing in the middle of the raft. It's really a very efficient sharing process. Everybody sort of takes turns turning the wheel, at least they did when we went. It is not easy to turn it! Then the rest of us gawk at the amazing greenish blue beauty of the 45 foot spring and as soon as we reach the other side, we head back again, each of us taking turns turning the wheel. Look at the color of the water! WOWZA!

No park ranger telling you to keep your arms and elbows inside the raft, nobody warning you not to drop your phone in the spring, etc. etc. It's really pretty amazing that the park just expects you to do the right thing and take turns helping each other enjoy the little trip and a brief moment of spectacular views. Sparky couldn't decide which views were the most spectacular, so she put lots of them in the blog.

You can see about 40 feet down, and a variety of fish (trout, perch) swimming underneath. The water temperature is a constant 45 degrees year round.
There are bubbling springs underneath on the bottom that you can see as well. The spring flows at a rate of more than 10,000 gallons A MINUTE! So cool. We saw herons in the spring area, a duck who meandered close by for quite awhile, who just kept watching us, probably amused at this funny looking craft that keeps going back and forth all day long. "Don't they get tired doing that?"

And with the day drawing to a close, we headed back home to our RV park in Munising, to pack things up and get ready to leave tomorrow for some more hop, skips, and a jump-(she means short driving trips, explains Eldo) to get back closer to Indiana. The next time you hear from us, we will be in "crack donut" country--Howe, Indiana and home of Sparky's favorite fabric stores...Yoder's and Lolly's, and the Rise and Roll Bakery which has the most amazing caramel cinnamon donuts. (Uh-oh, and here I thought we were going to get rid of some of our extra weight, worries E.) Hey, all's fair in love and war. Eldo just bought his 4th rocking chair from Camping World, as the three previous ones all broke in the same place. And this new chair, is a HEAVY one! We are trying to watch our weight with the items inside the RV as well as on our physical persons, haha, but it's a losing battle all the way around....See you next time!
Another Pictured Rocks boat tour

Monday, September 13, 2021

Lakefront Property? Our First

Grand Marais, MI   Woodland RV Park.  High: 64.  Low: 55. Site: 10, back in, lake front view   AT&T cell service excellent

We booked this park in May, having never seen it before, but it had good reviews. We've had to book VERY far ahead for both private and membership Thousand Trails parks because of all the people out on the roads now, many newbies and the already seasoned travelers out in full force. So far, we have been doing pretty well with our reservations. It's not easy picking out campgrounds and making travel plans that far in advance but Eldo does a whiz bang job of it. He uses RV Parky, the app, and also Trip Wizard to figure out how far from one destination to the next and spends a LOT of time working out all the details. (Sparky is too ADD to do the research, unless it's a craft project, haha.)

So here we are in the Woodland RV Park in Grand Marais. It's a city owned park, it's beautiful, AND we scored a lakefront site with a terrific view of Lake Superior!

Grand Marais is a VERY small town that has been hit hard by the fallout from Covid. There is a very small grocery store in town (which is excellent for its size) and a couple of small taverns and that's about it. We ate a simple meal at the Dunes Saloon, the Lake Superior Brewing Company. It was just ok, (Just ok? asks E. Yep, just ok.) But it had a cool vibe inside. Check out that ceiling just above the sign!

No restaurants that serve breakfast, one of our favorite things to do on a Sunday, but Sparky has discovered a couple of food trucks that have breakfast burritos, so she's ok with that! No hiking or biking trails, but hey--there's Lake Superior and the beach right outside your front door. Gotta love walking the beach here with these cool structures people have built out of the existing driftwood.

The beach is VERY rocky right at the park's front edge. It's not easy to walk the beach. The sand shifts constantly...it's loose, not packed. If you are a rock hound, THIS IS THE PLACE TO BE! People assume the rockhound stance, and can be found zealously searching for Petosky stones and agates all along the water's edge. Sparky saw a lot of butts and buckets today, haha. Too hard for her aching back. Besides, she wouldn't have a clue what to look for, other than a "pretty rock" souvenir. (Whew! We absolutely do NOT need any more weight in the rig! says a relieved Eldo.)

BUT--Sparky could become a rock hound easily if she had more time to learn about it. (Uh-oh! Sparky, we have a weight limit in the rig, and we are already exceeding it due to--your crafts supplies? warns E.) Geesh, she was only thinking about it....haha.

Sparky went to a rock hound show next door this weekend, and it was really interesting. To the novice, it just looks like a bunch of rocks. Can you really tell the difference between a 2.00 rock and a 3.00 rock? A rockhound aficionado can!

Sparky learned that this is an Omar...a rock with an indentation made from another rock which was previously embedded in it. A vendor gave her a little souvenir of one from the show for free!

It was very interesting to see all the different locations around the world and variations of agates and rocks that had been collected at the show. There was something called a pudding rock, vendors were describing how the rocks were formed and the differences between them. It was just a completely foreign world to Sparky! She just can't get her head wrapped around paying 3.00 on up for rocks that you can find at the beach up here in the U.P.! They ARE beautiful in the water when they are wet.

The birches and/or aspens that had fallen into the sand and water were still beautiful.....
People love to stack rocks and make fake cairns....Cairns are supposed to be indicators or landmarks on a hiking trail, but at the beach, people are just enjoying the childlike side of themselves by stacking rocks. 
Here's another one....
And here is some of Mother Nature's artwork.....
This is part of the shoreline...VERY unstable walking and many more rocks than what is shown here, but there is a nice beach with a lot more sand down the road just a bit.
Here is a better view of all the rocks....
Even if you dig a tunnel down into the sand, the rocks are still there!
Watch out for sharks! NOT!
We really enjoyed our short stay here in Grand Marais....We hope to come back again some day...the temps were Sparky's idea of terrific! Sixties during the day, fifties at night...She is in 7th heaven.....Bye for now!