Thursday, September 30, 2010

Hiking Bruno's Run Trail

Bruno's Run Trail
Without Bruno, of course...I'm assuming that was someone's favorite dog and trail run. We can't figure out exactly how long the trail is, because we saw signs while hiking today that gave the trail as a 9.0 mile hike, a 10 mile hike and the brochure says, 7.5!  This trail is just east of Munising about ten miles. We figured we walked at least six out of how ever many miles it is. This is a trail that can be mountain biked or hiked in the spring, summer, and fall...or try it for snowshoeing in the winter. (Now, I would really like to try that! Got my eye on some LL Bean snowshoes, but it looks like we won't be near any snow this winter. Sigh!) We stopped a lot, took a lot of photos, so it took us awhile to wind our way around, but it was absolutely beautiful. Our source for this hike today came from the Munising and Alger County Hiking and Biking Trail brochure we picked up at the Fuzzy Boyak (great name!) Welcome Center in town.

the darndest things catch my eye!
Yooper fire starters
After our hike, we stopped off at the Forest Glen General Store to rest our feet. Cool, old fashioned general store. They even have Yooper fire starters! Of course, we bought a couple! We got a snack, then sat out on the porch for a bit, and talked bear with the owner.  We can't talk moose, because there just don't seem to be very many in the area. We haven't seen a single moose sign anywhere in this part of the U.P. But we have seen moose tracks! That's moose tracks ICE CREAM! My favorite!  Ok, back to the bear. The owner has personally checked in 18 bear since Sept. 18th, when the season first started.  You multiply that by the number of taverns and sportsmens' locations that can check in bear and you start to realize there are a LOT of bear in the woods up here! We've asked a lot of people, do you see bear like you see deer in the woods? And they say, (fortunately for us), no, you don't. Whew! I guess that means we're on for another hike tomorrow, er, Eldy, maybe a bike ride instead?.....

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Fungusamungus

A what? A mushroom to be exact---we saw LOTS of mushrooms on a hike today. We wanted to go exploring Eldy's old snowmobile stompin' grounds that he remembered from 30 years ago...we explored by car for quite a while today on old 94, on highway 13, and other areas. We found an excellent restaurant that Eldy remembered from years ago called the Camel Rider. You had to go into back roads in the national forest on the way to get there. By the composition of the roads, you think you are going into the backwoods, going to nowhere, or to somebody's rustic cabin with the outhouse outside, it's THAT rustic!  DEEP into the backwoods where there's BAR (that's Yooper talk for bear--naw, just kidding!) But you would be correct on one thing--you are in the deep backwoods of God's country. The foliage on the trees was breathtaking, all the way there and back. (If you've always longed to go to Vermont, and it's too far, we'd say the U.P. in late September has to be right up there (haha) with New England's fall display. At any rate, the restaurant is only open on Fridays and Saturdays so we're saving that one for later this week to see if the food is as good as he remembers it.

colors of the woods at Colwell Lake

Coming back we hiked 2 miles around Colwell Lake, a gorgeous lake surrounded by trees of scarlet, fiery orange and yellow color, and umpteen different kinds of mushrooms. It was a beautiful hike along a packed cinder trail, so easy hike for us. Eldy was actually disappointed it was only two miles! There is a campground there with sites and four of the sites have electric hookup--about the only national forest campground in Michigan with electric AND roomy enough for us to park a 40 foot RV. We are going to stay there Friday night. We can stay with a senior park pass discount for ten dollars! (electric only)  After we got done with our hike, we went looking for another tavern Eldy remembered that had an old wooden Indian down in the basement. The tavern was called Jack Pines, a small cabin bar and restaurant. The wooden Indian had his own name--Elija, or something like that. Well, Elija has to stay in the basement because he has something that parents don't want their children to see. If you pull Elija's arm down, something else pops up out of the blanket...and it's big enough that in the old days, Eldy remembers the women would shriek in shock at the sight of it. Well, we found the 80 year old restaurant, and we found the equally old wooden Indian down in the basement of the tavern. The tavern has been remodeled, it looks really nice and lodge like inside.  The Indian has been through so many repairs, that we didn't dare pull his arm. After all, he's almost as old as the restaurant! We just peeked under the blanket. Yup! It's still there! Eldy wouldn't let me put the photo on the blog, but here's the next best photo. You'll just have to use your imagination! Tomorrow, out for another hiking or biking trail. We saw one today called Bruno's Run along Moccasin Lake, we might try that one, it's only 10 miles ("WHAT??!!!" says Eldy)...but that is only one of many, many beautiful trails in this area to explore in what we feel is the best season in the U.P.--fall! No mosquitoes, and no black flies AND stunning fall foliage!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

PIctured Rocks boat trip

Off on a boat trip today to see the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore...last year we did it by kayak. This year, we decided to do the boat tour as it is late fall and the water is COLD! Lake Superior is always cold, but we wanted to see it from a different perspective...awesome trip! For 34.00 a person, you can see the rocks, some amazing sandstone sedimentary (layered) rock formations up close at some points.  The trips are at 10:00, 2:00 and 5:00. The 2:00 trip adds an extra falls viewing, the 5:00 trip at sunset. The trip lasts 2 1/2 to 3 hours. We traveled a total of 37 miles to see the landmarks of Lover's Leap, the Grand Portal, Miner's Castle, Indian Head, and Battleship Row. The guide on our ship today had quite a sense of humor, which really added to the enjoyment of the trip.Weather was perfect, calm seas, and we got some beautiful shots of the rock formations. I guess the colors in the rock are due to seepage of water containing different proportions of minerals such as copper (greens and bluish greens and iron--creating the reds and browns).  One of the photos shows a solitary tree on top of a rock formation, this tree had a single root that reached across the water to land to get its nourishment! That is the only way it is living on top of the rock! 

This is a great cruise to take in the fall, the cabins are heated if you choose to stay indoors. Not us! Always the top deck! Eldy sighs, 'cuz he knows we will be sitting up top unless it's pouring down rain...he bought us a couple of fleece sweatshirts just in case the wind got really biting...I'm telling you, he's quite a thoughtful guy!

Did we learn anything? Well, of course we did! The rocks are over 500 million years old, and this is one of the few places where you can see the layered (sedimentary) rocks this old! The bottom of Lake Superior on this trip was about 15-40 feet deep most of the way, but at it's deepest point, it's 3200 feet deep! It is the coldest, deepest, and cleanest of the 5 Great Lakes according to the guide. One of the coolest formations was "Battleship Row" and there had to be at least 5-7 "prows" sticking out, one right after the other, they really did look like battleships in a row. At one point, the captain took us into a tight bay to see the rocks up close, the water was so calm, he was able to do this....These rock formations average about 200 feet high all the way along the trip...the colors were truly beautiful today. We highly recommend this trip!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Falling Water Everywhere!

OK, here are the photos I promised you from Sunday's waterfall extravaganza! If you are ever in this area, stop by the welcome center in Munising as you come into town and pick up the waterfall and lighthouse guide that tells locations and info about the falls and's a very good guide.

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foam pattern by falls
Now for the story from Wayne and Holly--when they pulled in next to our site at the Munising Tourist Campground, I noticed that their Prevost coach had "Angola Coach" written on the side of it. I got excited, because I knew that Angola, IN (my last hometown) had a place, Angola/Pantera, that customizes and refurbishes interiors of big RV coaches/busses for people. So I asked them if they bought their coach there, and they said yes... We proceeded to talk for the next half hour or longer about my old stompin' grounds at Angola. They knew several of the places I used to frequent, and we traded stories about traveling and dining there....we exchanged lots of information and tips as RVers do, and then we shared some travel stories. After telling them our RV + tow car u-turn at the toll booth story (see early blog details) they had a story that just cracked us up. They told us about a very frugal couple they knew who never traveled anywhere, but had to take a trip out of town to see a nephew (?) graduate. Now this couple, who never even liked to travel away from home in their hometown, were really uncomfortable about going out on the road to travel quite a ways south. They had someone give them a Mapquest set of directions, and off they went, needing to use the Illinois toll road to get part of the way there. After paying several tolls and not really understanding why so many in such a short distance, they noticed that people were breezing through the "IPASS" lanes. They thought, well, this "IPASS" lane must be for people who want to use the express lanes...this must be like, when you don't want to play in a card game or sharing circle and you say, "I pass.." So they proceeded to take advantage of the IPASS lanes and zoomed right through them to finish out their trip. Much to their chagrin and misunderstanding later, the toll road people caught up to them through photo ID of their license plate and issued them several hundreds dollars worth of fines  and a result, their friend said he would never travel again! True story! Thanks for sharing, Holly and Wayne, and happy traveling!

Yesterday, after hiking 2.8 miles to Chapel Falls and then some more hiking to other falls in town, we had really worked up an appetite. We found a tavern on the way back to Munising, called the Bear Trap Tavern. This wasn't quite the man-cave that the Antlers restaurant was in Sault Ste. Marie, (I just had to see if I could still spell that!) but there were a several bear heads displayed, deer mounts, and bear rugs on the walls. This tavern definitely had the hunter/fisherman atmosphere. Great burgers and great fish! We got a kick out of the "Yooper Snow Guide" measuring stick outside the tavern. At 72 inches, it says, "get out of town!"  For anyone who doesn't know, a "Yooper" is a person who lives in the U.P. (upper peninsula). We saw a chart on the wall of bear kills--it's bear season in Michigan right now! The waitress told us there were three bear seasons in Michigan--bait, gun, and bow....There were five bears killed yesterday alone in this area. We had talked to a couple just a short while earlier after coming off the hiking trail, and we asked them if they had seen anything in the woods. They said no,  but they did hear some  loud snorting! They didn't know what the source was, but they said they kept going on the trail (quickly) and did not stop to see what it was. The woman was carrying food, and we now think it might have been a bear in the woods getting a whiff of what she was carrying! Yikes!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Small town, BIG entertainment!

Late Saturday afternoon, we picked up a delicious pizza at the local pizza shop in Munising, population about 2600 people. On the pizza board was a sign for local entertainment Saturday night at 7:00 PM at the Falling Rock Cafe downtown.

Falling Rock Cafe
Jeff Nelson & Friends at Falling Rock Cafe

The Falling Rock Cafe is an interesting, funky, eclectic bookstore/internet cafe/coffee shop. (Check out their website for more photos of the store) They serve flavored coffees, homemade food, sweets and gourmet teas. They sell over 30,000 new and used books AND they have live entertainment! So Saturday night we went and heard Jeff Nelson and Friends--Jeff was the lead singer and he has a passion for many different kinds and styles of music--he played contemporary music, folk music, and along with his bass player, who did the backup/harmonizing vocals (I'm sorry I didn't catch his name) together they played toe tappin', guitar pickin' music to a nice crowd. Jeff has a fabulous voice and his talent and guitar picking and playing abilities were amazing! His bass player had just the perfect voice to complement Jeff's and the skill to match Jeff's guitar playing. It just goes to show that just because you are in a small town, doesn't mean there will be a lack of talent on a Saturday night. You never know what you are going to find walking into a local bar, tavern, or coffee house. These two musicians were VERY talented local people who love to sing and play music. Jeff played a mean Stevie Ray Vaughn song among many others during the night and the talent  and versatility of these two guys was just amazing! Jeff sounded a lot like Gordon Lightfoot and even did one of his songs. He did great justice to a Roy Orbison song as well. What was even more amazing was they didn't have a future schedule, website or business card, nor a CD to sell anywhere in sight! (I would have gladly bought one!) They just play for the enjoyment of playing and pleasing anybody who wants to stop by and listen (and for a small donation at the counter)....If you ever get to hear Jeff Nelson and Friends, GO! And if you are ever in Munising, be sure to stop at the Falling Rock Cafe and enjoy the free wi-fi, buy a specialty coffee drink and just hang out with the locals.  It's a cool place to hang out!

Sunday we decided to go water fall sight seeing and hiking...four waterfalls in one day! When Eldo gets rollin', there's no stoppin' him! We visited Chapel Falls (60 ft. drop) which is about 45 min. from Munising. It's a 1.4 mile hike to the falls, so we walked 2.8 miles total, got back in the car,  then hit three more on our way back to town. These other three falls are located within short walks about 10-15 min. and a little bit of a climb over rough tree roots and very narrow paths. It actually surprised us how narrow the paths were without any cautionary rope boundaries or fencing. You are really up close and personal to these falls. The rock formations hung WA-A-Y over our heads as we explored the falls. The geology of the area is really these "ampitheatre" formations carve themselves out over millions of years is truly awe inspiring when you see them. There are mini sand "beaches" under the rock outcroppings where erosion of the sandstone cliffs has made sand underneath the overhangs. Munising Falls has had rock slides in the past close to the falls, so it is more protected than the others. We saw the MNA Memorial Falls (you can walk behind the falls!) and it has a 30 ft. drop, the Munising Falls (50 ft. drop) located across from the hospital, then the Tannery Falls (40 ft. drop)--also in the same vicinity as the Munising Falls.  These three falls are all in town..Check out the slideshow tomorrow (Monday evening) for the falls photos....we've also got a cute story to share Monday evening from a couple we met next to our site at the Munising Tourist Campground who had a special Prevost, custom made from Angola, IN (my hometown for the last 7 years!) --their names were Wayne and Holly, nice couple!

Baby, it's cold outside!

Upper Peninsula of Michigan
Would you believe there are at least 20 waterfalls, several in town, nearby or within a reasonable driving distance of Munising, MI? We're excited to be back here for the second time. Last year we were on a limited time frame as we were both still working and Eldy had limited vacation time. We went on a Pictured Rocks kayak tour last year which was a fantastic way to see one of the Great Lakes most famous landmarks, and Eldy went with me never having kayaked but one time before that. We got lucky and had extremely calm waters that day. Lucky for him! I never would have gotten him in a kayak again if it had been choppy!

view while driving to Munising, MI
Munising City Campground site 79
After a beautiful drive out state highway 28 west from Sault Ste. Marie late Saturday morning, and seeing the fall blaze of color at its height in the U.P., we are at the Munising City Park Campground. We are on site #79 right on the shore of Lake Superior! As Eldy says, "You know what I love about this lifestyle? No matter where we go, we're home. The view out our window just changes." And what a view it is!  It's cold, 51 degrees, the wind over 30 mph, so windy the whitecaps are frothing on  Lake Superior. We're about 20 yds. from the water's edge...Baby, it's cold outside, but it's toasty in our home...we now have a four season home so it doesn't matter that there's a frost warning tonight for this area! The bays are heated, the pipes are ok, we have dual pane windows, dual furnaces-- we can be in the middle of a snowstorm and we'd be ok...We're lovin' it!

We stopped at a welcome center in the middle of town and picked up lots of literature for the area. There is no cable here at the campground and the RV antenna is just not pulling in the TV channels, so I'm going to have to keep Eldy busy with hiking and biking this week and waterfall watching. I'm excited! Grand Island is close by, Grand Marais, canoe and kayak trails, hiking if the weather will just cooperate! Winds are supposed to die down by tomorrow and rain dissipate. It's lookin' good, Eldo!
View out the living room window

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Valley Camp-Sault St. Marie freighter museum

Today we went to see the Valley Camp freighter museum in Sault Ste. Marie. (By tomorrow I will have memorized how to spell the name of this town!) It was very interesting and we really enjoyed it. For $11.00 a person, you get to explore the bowels of the freighter on three different levels where there are over 100 maritime exhibits. It's the largest maritime museum in the Great Lakes. There is a memorial exhibit of the Edmund Fitzgerald, with one of the lifeboats there, you can see and walk around all different parts of the ship, the living quarters, the engine room and many more parts of the ship. There are also four aquariums on one of the levels that are stocked with the habitat and species of Great Lakes fish. The perspective of the length of this freighter is lost in a photo, but one of the photos shows Eldy walking towards the bow of the ship. This particular freighter is a "shortie" in comparison to the rest of the Great Lakes freighters. Another photo shows a lineup of the 1,000 foot freighters that navigate the waters of the Great Lakes and the Valley Camp is dwarfed in comparison. The lighting inside the ship adds to the aura of mystery and intrigue of the history laden artifacts inside the freighter. There are all kinds of cool things to learn inside the freighter--shipwreck stories, what the freighters carry and how much, names and cargo, what the bells and whistles mean on the ships, photos, paintings, even a native American section. We must have walked around for at least an hour and a half exploring the Valley Camp. Way cool!

Not only do we explore the local historical sites, but we also explore gastronomical delights..FOOD! Yesterday we ate lunch at Zorba's, a Greek restaurant, and if you like gyros and other Greek food, you will really enjoy this restaurant, it had one of the best gyros I've ever had. Today we tried the Palace Saloon- a mix of Mexican and American food. It was very bland, can't recommend it except it has a really cool atmosphere and a solid mahagony bar area which dates back to 1909....there is another restaurant called Studebaker's, which is on I-75 spur (business route)--- it has a great breakfast menu but is open all day as well....Other than the Tower of History (a monument built by the Catholic Church honoring missionaries with an awesome observation tower, which we did not explore), I think we've covered Sault St. Marie fairly well....Munising, here we come!
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Friday, September 24, 2010

Do we stay or do we go?

We STAY!  Would you believe Sault St. Marie has had 24 inches of rain since Memorial Day? Geesh! We had about two inches of rain yesterday and overnight. It's extremely wet and soggy here, but the rain is supposed to move out later this afternoon. We decided we would stay one more day and wait out the high winds that are occurring today in Munising, MI. Munising is really where we would like to go next. There is a beautiful city park there, right on the shores of Lake Superior. It's first come, first served, so we will get a fairly early start Sat. morning to get over there. It should be less than a two hour drive. Although it's too cold to swim, it's still a beautiful lake shore setting. You are just a few yards from the shoreline. It's only $25.00 a night here at Aune Osborne, so it makes sense to just put in another day at this great rate and wait for the winds to subside. No sense in traveling the highway in high winds!

portable dump tanks in different sizes
We are full on our grey tank (dishwater and shower water) which shouldn't be, so that presents a problem. We apparently didn't completely dump the grey tank at Hidden Ridge, so in two days, it filled back up again. Every system is just a little bit different, and although the handles look the same, (you just pull it out to let the water drain) the way the water drains may not quite be the same. Sometimes there is a secondary rush of water as it drains into the hose--you have to wait a bit for it to happen, and Eldy thinks he didn't, so that's why we are reading "full". So we are going to rent a little portable dump tank for five dollars, drain the grey tank, then pull the little dump tank by hand over to the dumping station at the campground. (We don't have a hitch on our car) It will probably take about three or four  trips to get the RV grey tank dumped if we decide to completely empty it. It's a 60 gallon tank, so we may dump just enough to get us through one more day here at the Aune Osborne campground. There are no sewer hookups at Aune Osborne (it's too close to the river) so that's why we have to get the portable dumping tank to clear our grey tank. Ordinarily, we should be able to go at least five days before needing to dump it. We certainly don't want the grey water coming back up into our sinks and shower, the last time that happened it stunk so bad it took an hour to clear the air!

So here's how it went--First, we had difficulty with a new sewer hose that we purchased at General. One valve end is simply twisted on with Vaseline and a plastic collar (yeah, you know where this is going, don't cha?) and a "screw" cap. The screw cap doesn't screw into the portable dump tank, you just push it in, so we had to hold it on by hand. Somehow the valve cap stem came apart, and we both tried to "screw" it back on, but you are not really screwing it on, just twisting it. In the process, we got Vaseline all over our hands and all over the handle of the little dump tank. Despite wiping our hands, we managed to "grease" the handle of the portable tank. We had two hundred yards to travel, both of us grasping the slippery handle of the tank and lugging 22 gallons of water each time down to the dumping station about two hundred yards away. That sucker was EXTREMELY heavy! We had to stop three times on the way to get a better grip. Eldy was shuffling along like a little China man, and I was striding, so we kept rocking and rolling 22 gallons of water (that's the SMALL size portable tank) as we were struggling to get the tank down there. I was laughing so hard at his shuffling, that didn't help matters any. We tried to synch our steps and finally got going a little better. At the dump station, it was a real trick to up-end the dump tank, and open the dumping station ground lever with your foot at the same time. I managed to thoroughly soak my shoes and socks in the process. Thank goodness it was the grey tank and not the poop excretion express dump! Three trips later, we have an empty grey tank on the RV and we are good to go for another five days. Whew! I offered to buy Eldy brunch as our efforts to carry and dump 60 gallons of water hurt his knees and back in the process, but he said no, that was ok....what a guy! He dumped the grey tank just so I can do dishes and take a shower in the motor home...awwww, thanks, honey!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Decisions, decisions, decisions!

Do we stay or do we go? It's a really hard rain coming down today (Thursday) so we will be sitting tight at our campsite all day. We're trying to decide whether to move to the western side of the state as it's supposed to rain steadily for two days here. There is also a high wind advisory that is going to continue till Saturday at Munising, MI, which is where we were going to go next but we don't want to drive in high winds nor be rocked and rolled by them when we park, if we can avoid it. We'll sit around today and discuss and plan where we are going to go next. I'm going to try out the central vac system while we're rained in. We've also discovered that the hot water heater tank, which is much bigger than our previous one, runs out of hot water faster than our old one did! Oh, no! That's not good! We're going to get out the manuals and see what might be the problem. We only had a six gallon hot water heater on the Challenger and the Tiffin has a ten gallon heater. We should not be running out of hot water!

Last night we went to the Antler Restaurant on Portage Ave. just down the street from our campground for a late supper. If you are an avid outdoorsman, you'll love this place. It's a taxidermist's delight--stuffed moose heads, deer, bear, fox, elk, fish, and goats everywhere on the walls with antlers of every shape and size jammed in between the creatures. It seems like there's not an inch of space on the walls and ceiling that isn't covered with antlers or animals. There's even a birch bark canoe hanging from the ceiling! It's very cozy. (Reviewer's translation: dark and cave like) If you are creeped out by preserved animals staring down at you and stuff looking like it could fall off the wall at any moment, you won't like it!  Their steak special for the evening was tough and overcooked, and the twice baked potato was very runny, but we might  have caught them on a bad night. We did like the atmosphere, however!

Lex Walsh, veteran barber

antique barber shop
I decided Eldy should get his haircut by a professional barber today instead of me...we drove into town and discovered an OLD barbershop on Arlington Street, downtown Sault Ste. Marie. As we walked in, we walked into the past. The barber's name was Lex Walsh, and he'd been a barber for 44 years, he was actually 77 years young. He proceeded to entertain us with stories, a little bit of history and some family tales while he cut Eldy's hair. He had antique newspaper ads on the wall dating from 1946. (Carton of cigarettes $1.49) Check out the barber's chairs--they were over 50 years old! His original license was hanging on the wall, and he made a joke about not bothering to get it renewed since then. He was VERY entertaining. I wish I had gotten my camera out fast enough to catch him spraying the top of Eldy's head with Lord-only-knows what kind of stuff. Then he proceeded to get out some sort of buffing towel and he polished Eldy's head like you would buff a pair of shoes-back and forth, back and forth across the top of Eldy's head! I laughed so hard I cried. He did that as a joke, but we got a big kick out of that, regardless. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves during Eldy's haircut, that's for sure!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Great Lakes Freighters

We've only been here a few hours and already we've seen four freighters....There are ocean bulk freighters, ocean general cargo vessels, lakes bulk freighters, and self-unloaders traveling the St. Mary's River to get between Lake Superior and Lake Huron. Ocean bulk freighters are from 500-730 feet long. If you see another freighter that same length but they have derricks and booms up on top, that's an ocean general cargo vessel. Lakes bulk freighters can carry up to 30,000 tons of coal. How do I know all this stuff? I'd love to say it's because I have this awesome knowledge of all things maritime, but I don't! I just have the curiosity. The campground gives you a nice brochure upon check-in so you know what you are seeing. We've heard some awesome horns sounding and the meanings of those are in the brochure as well. One short, one long, one short means a vessel is at anchor in a fog. It's cool hearing the ships talk to each other. Kind of reminds me of that movie, "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" where the mother alien space ship musically talks to the scientists on earth and they answer back and forth in the very last few minutes of the movie.

After seeing a couple up close and personal, we decided to go see the Soo locks from a different persective--from shore in downtown Sault Sainte Marie. Last year we took a locks boat tour cruise which was really interesting and well worth the money to learn about the locks. This time we chose to go to the visitors' center instead to learn more about the locks and the ships passing through. They have a chart posted of the ships going "downbound" and "upbound" (to reflect the elevation differences in the St. Mary's River) There are actually two canals and four locks that the ships can pass through, and what size they are depends on what lock they can pass through. There is a 21 foot difference in elevation of the St. Mary's River between Lake Superior and Lakes Michigan and Huron. We learned that more than 11,000 ships pass through the locks every year and that ONE 1000 foot Laker is equal to: SIX one-hundred car trains with 10,000 ton capacity in each OR 2308 large trucks of 26 tons capacity each! We also learned that there is going to be a new lock built over two of the existing locks once funding is approved.

Here are some photos from our trip to the shore side of Sault Ste. Marie at the Soo locks and our campground late Tuesday afternoon....Enjoy!

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

We've Got Ourselves a CONVOY!

We left Gaylord this morning and headed to the Mackinac Bridge. We were concerned about the winds in excess of 30 mph. while driving...we knew that sometimes the bridge closes traffic to high profile vehicles, but we weren't sure what wind speed would shut us down.  I guess they aren't that sure either as we asked at the toll booth at the other end and they said it depends on the wind speed and the direction. As we approached the bridge, electronic signs warned of high wind speeds, and cautioned RVs and trailers to cross the bridge at 20 m.p.h.  Eldy was getting nervous. When we got to the bridge entrance, campers, trailers, RVs and semis were directed into one lane on both sides of the bridge, and either police or Mackinac Bridge workers were waiting for a line of travelers before taking a convoy across the bridge. Guess they didn't want any yahoo boogying across the bridge at excess unsafe speeds. As we traveled over the bridge at 20 m.p.h., (normal bridge speed is 45 m.p.h.) the wind was not very noticeable, until the highest point of the bridge crossing. It was a direct crosswind from west to east. The gusts seemed like a LOT more than 30 m.p.h.!  We crossed without any incident, but once we got on the other side, it wasn't long after before an older motorhome in front of us had an air conditioner cover blow off the top of the roof which bounced into our lane. Luckily, it bounced out of our lane before we reached it!

We are now situated at Aune (Aw-ney) Osbourne Campground, which is located on the St. Mary's River at Sault Sainte Marie between Lake Huron and Lake Superior. We were here last year with a waterfront site which was fantastic. You can watch the barges go between the locks heading back and forth from Lake Huron to Lake Superior. The barges are HUMONGOUS! This campground is so popular, that you have to book way ahead of time to get a waterfront site. There are very few trees, so the sites are very out in the open. We were not able to get a waterfront site, as we just decided to call today. But, we are on one row back from the St. Mary's River, so it will still be awesome to see the barges! (You know you are getting old when the sight of barges is an exciting event! My mom in her 90's, used to love watching the barges on Lake Huron with her binoculars, and at the time, I thought to myself, that will probably never be something I'd get excited about)....WRONG! Here we are, at the ages of 60 and 62, and barge watching is going to be the highlight of our week!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Flaunting the rules

Most of today was spent at the Grand Rapids Mall while we waited for our "laundry list" of things to be fixed was taken care of.  It was a VERY pleasant way to spend the day...there were nice couches and chairs out on the Woodland mall floor, so we plumped ourselves down in front of Barnes and Noble, and Eldy got out his manuals, and I got out my laptop, and we proceeded to settle in for the afternoon.  A few hours later, we checked back in with General, and some of the things were accomplished and some were not. We decided NOT to dump the propane today--that just really bothered us that they were just going to open up the valve and let the propane escape out into the air. We saw two coaches who must have had bad gauges like ours, and propane was being expelled out of both of them. This is not an environmentally friendly solution! We felt that we can come back later after we've used up a lot more propane during the cooler weather and get the gauge fixed at a later date. We discovered some more things that were wrong with the coach. There's a bubble in the body of the motor home under the outside TV, something that is pushing the side out from the inside wall, like a bolt. There were streak marks on the front of the coach that could not be buffed out so they will have to be a new "Diamond Shield" coat applied to the front of the coach. There's a ceramic floor tile that is loose in the living room. All new RVs no matter what price range, have little "bugs" that need to be worked out and we were expecting this.

When we got our Challenger a year and a half ago, we had a cable break on a slide on our first major road trip, a couple of screws came out of the slides because they weren't the right type, one slide cable was broken when we took possession of it and didn't know it, and the shower door weatherstrip kept falling off the bottom of the shower door.  Damon and Total Value took care of anything and everything that we needed. So all in all, we really didn't have very many complaints for the dealer this time. We had an extended warranty on the Challenger, and we went with the extended warranty on this one as there are so many electronics on the Tiffin!

We are on the road (I-75) to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and so anxious to test the RV out on a long trip that we got a late start today, around four pm... So far, the ride is fantastic, smooth as butter. The Tiffin has much better brakes than our old coach, and fantastic pickup coming out on the entrance ramp to a highway. I'm going to hold off on driving it until Eldy really knows his stuff about diesels. There will be driving classes offered down the road, and I definitely will take one. Our only complaint out on the road right now is a very loud rattle in the living room under the couch which we will add to our next list of things that need to be fixed. Then again, it smoothed out when we hit smooth road so we'll see...We're not sure where we will end up tonight, only Eldo knows and maybe he doesn't! He keeps me guessing!

It's now 10:35 and we just came off the road. Against our better judgement, we got a late start today, tried to stop at a Yogi Bear Jellystone Park in Grayling, but it was too dark to see the campground site where we were supposed to be able to pull through. After scraping the top of the motor home against some low lying trees, we decided not to jeopardize our new home with trying to find out site when it was so poorly lit we couldn't see anything. Although tired, we pulled of Jellystone and continued on to Gaylord, to Wally World where we will spend tonight. We have some "rules" or guidelines: 1) we try and pull off the road before it gets dark, 2) we try not to travel on less than a third of a tank of fuel, but we just tossed those guidelines out the window tonight because we wanted to get going north! We ended up stopping for our first diesel stop with less than 1/8 of a tank..yikes!  Where we will end up tomorrow is anybody's guess, but it will be before dusk, that's for sure!  See you then!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Wine and Dine at Hidden Ridge

After an exhausting day moving in a steady rain and at the last minute having to throw what was left into garbage bags into the bays because of a thunderstorm and resulting downpour, we collapsed onto the couches in our new home around 6:00 PM at Hidden Ridge. Back out again to unload some things, and a couple walking their dogs stopped and asked us what year the coach was. When we told them, they said they had our identical twin just down the way! We started talking and an hour later, we had gotten a LOT of useful information about our unit from them and made some new friends in the process. They tried to explain to us why when you turn off one TV, another one comes on, and why we had so much trouble getting them all turned off. It had something to do with the sensor eyes being in a direct line with each other, and the signals bouncing across the room from one TV to another...O-o-o-o-o-k-a-a-a-a-y....we just nodded our heads like we knew what they were talking about. And we think we are so techno savvy! HA! Soon after, I went over the the wine tasting event at the clubhouse at Hidden Ridge. Wow! Hors d'oeuvers galore, beautifully displayed by candlelight...many many different types of wine, lots of people attended..a successful event....

Back to Camping World today to get different organizers for the medicine cabinets--new cabinets mean new measurements which mean the old trays and organizers don't fit. Of course! Back to the campground to install a key holder, some hooks for hanging coats--even though this is a much nicer RV, there STILL is no place to hang coats when you come in the door. I've purchased several 3M Command  brand adhesive hooks which don't damage the wood finish on the walls, and they work wonderfully well. Got some command adhesive picture hanger "velcro" style hooks on the bottom of the digital photo frame so it will stay on the shelf while traveling down the road. Whoever invented that stuff is a genius!

Eldy is outside watching his TV and in 7th heaven..He's sure worked hard to have this motor home. Six to seven days a week for forty-three years in a factory, he deserves to have the home of his dreams. I'm happy that he is in his dream home, and that I get to be here with him in it, it's so beautiful inside and out. It really seems more of a home now and less like a vehicle for traveling. We loved the Challenger and it really prepared us for going full time, but we were ready to move up for full time living. The feelings are a lot like how you feel when you leave your first stick built "starter" home and move up in the world, you always have a fondness for your roots.

....I'm loving the little computer station where my laptop sits in our new home. I can look out the window and see the beautiful green grass and the trees just starting to turn.  We have lots more windows so lots more sunlight streams's very cheery and bright. Tomorrow we head to General to get the propane gauge fixed. It's gonna take all day to bleed the propane out of it. What a waste that they can't recover the fuel from our tank and move it to another tank instead of bleeding it out! They can't fix the gauge unless the tank is empty and there's no other way to do it, according to we will head to the Apple store trying to pass some time and get some software upgrades again. I hope they can help me get my external hard drive to talk to my mac. I transferred some files from my PC to this external hard drive and the mac doesn't recognize it at all. I'm going to be REALLY upset if I can't get the files transferred to my mac because hundreds of digital scrapbooking files are on it. I hope the Apple store can help! Such an interesting place! I'll play around on the ipad for awhile while waiting for tech help. "Angry Birds" is a really fun app to play while waiting! We anticipate having to stay overnight at the General for free if they don't finish the repairs Monday. We've got a "laundry list" of things we've noticed that need fixing...loose ceramic tile, difficult windows to open, a sagging awning, some funny sounds we want them to check out, things like that...until tomorrow...Our plans are to head for the U.P. when the repairs are's an interesting thought to ponder...

"Not all wanderers are lost...."  seen on the back of an RV.....

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Entertainment tonight!

As we wound down at the end of a busy day yesterday, Eldy decided to program the TV in the living room at the front of the coach. No problems there...He got the antenna and channels programmed. He watched TV for awhile while I unpacked some more and wrote in our blog. Then all of a sudden, he said, "WHAT THE HECK?!!" When he went to turn off the TV he was watching, the second TV beside the kitchen sink had turned on without him doing least that's what he said.  I grabbed the remote and turned the second TV off and the first one went on! Then Eldy turned off one TV, I turned off the second and the radio came on! Now what do we do, he asks me? Heck if I know! We fiddled with some buttons some more and managed to turn everything off without truly understanding how all these electronics work. We had a good laugh about that. And we think we are so techno savy on those kinds of things....HA!

I'd like to say we had a great sleep in our king size, memory foam bed ( we hope that's going to be ok for a couple of aging backs) but the burglar alarm system went off three times in the night over at the General RV store. (We stayed in their free hookup site last night since it took so long for us to move everything) Each time it stayed on for about 15-20 min, which seemed like a half hour, so we waited for security to come and turn the darn thing off. We peeped out our windows, but didn't see any suspicious activity. We finally got back to sleep. Up and at it again this the middle of an all day we neared the end, at a total of 7 hours of moving stuff, you know how when you move, you start throwing everything in plastic garbage bags because you are too tired to deal with it? Well, that's what we did. Besides, it was raining, actually thunderstorming, so we had to be quick about getting the last few things thrown into the Tiffin in a hurry. We'll deal with the bays later. Seven hours later today, (Eldo's comment? "I had no idea all that sh-- was in there!") we were finally cleared out of the Challenger and into the Tiffin.  I decided to hit the grocery store and stock up on freezer stuff as now we have a HUGE residential fridge in the RV, so off I went to Hardings in Wayland, which was practically right next door to General RV.

When I got back, the motor home was GONE! Totally! I called Eldy on the cell phone..."OK, honey, I give...where are you hiding the RV?" He tells me he's in General's garage..what was he doing in there, I ask? In bringing in the slides for the living room in preparation for leaving this afternoon, there was a terrible racket, something was very wrong with the slides. Within minutes of closing the shop for the weekend, the tech guys had him pull into the garage, and they had to file a larger opening somewhere for the slide to move, it was rubbing on something and making a terrible noise. Eldy would have freaked out if the shop had been closed and we were trying to get the slides out ourselves. All is fixed, and we headed to Hidden Ridge, less than 20 min. from the General to get settled for just Saturday and Sunday. We are going to try and use up propane as much as possible to get the levels down for repairs on Monday.  We're having trouble with the water connection at the house panel, so we will try to get a fitting that will stop the leaking. The water connection is inside the RV in a bay, so it's imperative that we get the leaking fixed. When we got hooked up for today, none of the lights came on. We had current at the box, the surge protector says everything was green and circuits were good to go, but nothing was lights, no fridge, nothing...Geez, what now!?  Patience is not one of my virtues, but we started checking the battery disconnect switch on? No? Ok, is anything working at all? As we started to check and recheck everything, all of a sudden, all the power came on. Apparently, there's a delay time period between the electrical being good at the box, and power coming into the house, some kind of safety protection for all our electrical components. Whew! I think we've had enough excitement and work for today! Hidden Ridge is having a wine tasting event at the clubhouse this evening. No if's, and's or but's--we're going! We need it!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Geez, where did all this stuff come from?

A very long day today...up at 6:00 this morning, start to pack, wait till the bank opens, drive down to S. Bend, drive back to Wayland, MI where the General is at, (four hours driving) sign the papers, move the coaches side by side, and then we started. Eldy did all the stair climbing today. The coaches were just a couple of feet apart. He climbed up and down steps for hours, bringing me box after box after box. I'd like to say I was proud of how I used every nook and cranny in the Challenger to store all our stuff, but after hours of Eldy bringing me box after box of STUFF,  I thought, this is ridiculous! We don't need all this stuff! I said that when we cleaned out two houses before we went on the road! I must have done a heckuva job getting a lot of it on board! We are two-thirds done with the move. I'm actually going to be a little sad to leave our first home that holds such great memories for our first few months full timing!

And, wouldn't you know...all the cute shelving and special holders that we used to maximize space in the Challenger don't fit in the Tiffin! Measure, review, measure some more, head out to Walmart tomorrow for suction cup holders for the shower basket/soap holder, refit the medicine cabinets with different width storage containers, and see how we are going to use those cavernous bays underneath. One of the bays has a roll out storage tray that you can access from either side of the coach. Nice touch! We need a second tray but will have to wait till we hit Tiffin to save money on freight charges. For now, we will try to store things in tubs so they don't roll and slide all over the place. We'll be able to finally clear out the tow car and be able to see out the back of it! Yay! Needless to say, we are both VERY sore and tired doesn't take much activity or exercise to stiffen up quickly when you are 60 and over! When we both got out of the car tonight for supper, we could barely stand up straight..."My knees are killing me"..."My back is killing me..." we exchanged aches and pains for about five minutes, then decided enough of that!

Where are we gonna put all this stuff!?
It's a good thing we are staying in the parking lot of the General this evening, they knew we wouldn't get finished moving before dark...they have full hookups and

we were too pooped to go out on the road. Of course there were things we had trouble with right away...couldn't figure out why we had full hookup and no lights, no fan, no battery power...we got  a tech to come out to the parking lot, and darn, if we didn't have the battery disconnect switch on--that turns off the entire power to the RV--electric, batteries and all! Things are beeping at us, making clicking noises and then stopping--the refrigerator beeps at you if you stand there with the doors open, trying to figure out what you want to eat. If you take too long---BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!  (That could actually be a good thing, ha ha!) It's certainly going to be a learning experience. We don't know what all these sounds mean and if they are normal! They want us to stay close in the area for at least a couple of days...gee, I have a feeling they know already that we are going to have LOTS of questions! We will be heading over to Hidden Ridge for Saturday and Sunday to test out the drive, air bags, furnace, etc.  We've already discovered that the propane tank gauge does not work right. The tank registers half full when it is actually full so we have to come back on Monday. They will bleed the tank which will take all day, then replace the gauge. We'll still be in Grand Rapids on Monday, sigh!...but after's the U.P.--northern Michigan! On the road again!....

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sitting tight....

Today was a REALLY rainy day...gray and dreary...we were going to play golf at the Tyler Creek golf course right next door, but the weather just wouldn't let us. We headed into Grand Rapids to get some downloads taken care of at Barnes and Noble bookstore. That's a great place to just browse--free wi-fi, and lots of things to look at and check out. Just for fun, we listened to a guy talk about their e-reader, the Nook...looks interesting, but they have lots of competition...we'll continue to research that for down the road some day. Full timers take advantage of free wi-fi wherever they can because it saves on data useage for the air card. We have a 5 gigabyte plan, and have not used all of it yet. But I could see us getting close if we did things like downloaded any movies, which we don't. We use the Redbox movie rentals that you see occasionally at Walmart's or grocery stores if we want to rent a movie, (1.00) and if we stayed for any length of time in one place, we'll rent from the local library. I downloaded some digital scrapbook files today that would have taken forever to download back at home (in the RV). Sometimes they can be pretty big files, so it was great to use Barnes and Noble's dime.

We took our orientation tour today of the Tiffin...I never saw so many lights, switches, buttons, fuses, and wiring schematics in my life! There must be MILES of wiring in that coach. I took notes, but very quickly it was evident that we would need to sit down and just do our homework of reading manuals. We learned a few things that we remember--how to control the spotlight on top of the RV, where the air horns are (inside the generator compartment up front) how to work the radio/TV system, but the rest is just a blur. I think we will be needing to set up a speed dial direct line to the service department! They tried to talk us into a special coating to apply to the entire outside of the coach (a very expensive option), but we decided, no thanks! There are pros and cons to apply this paint protector to your coach--it's supposed to fade proof the exterior paint over the years and make it less prone to "black streaks", but we chose an extended warranty in its place. With all the electronics on board, there's just too much that might need attention when the warranty runs out.

We set up an appointment for Friday to pick up the coach, but then found out quite accidentally, that they will be needing a cashier's check for the purchase from the bank. We naively assumed that they would take a personal check. Wrong! At 6:00 AM tomorrow morning, we will take the RV to General in Wayland, MI, drop it off for safekeeping, then drive about two hours to Elkhart to the bank to pick up the cashier's check. Another two hours back, then we should be ready to sign papers and make the move from one RV to the other. They will park the two RV's door to door, and we will transfer all our "stuff" from one side to the other. Have no idea how long that will take...we've managed to accumulate and stuff every nook and cranny of the Challenger these past four months, so it might take longer than we think! But we're excited and ready to make the move! What's another day or two if some other snafu comes up? (It's a LOT!)....stay tuned.....

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

An Alarm Clock?

BEEP, BEEP, BEEP!   BEEP, BEEP, BEEP! "Honey, what's that?" "I'm not sure... Is that the carbon monoxide detector?" At 6:45 this morning, we bounded out of bed to check all the indicator lights--there's the carbon monoxide detector in the bedroom, the LP gas detector in the hallway, and the smoke detector in the front of the RV. Half asleep, we scouted and listened all over the coach trying to locate the source of the noise. Of course, with the loud beeping going constantly, it seemed like it took forever to figure out it was the smoke detector at the front of the coach, but it really was only a matter of seconds. The smoke detector needed a  battery replacement. We had a few moments of anxiety...although we knew there was no smoke in the house, we were used to a chirping from our smoke detectors at home when the battery needed replacing, not a triple beep. We checked everything just to be sure, and that's what it was. Whew!

After thinking about everything we would have to do tomorrow afternoon with the new RV- a couple hours of orientation, moving, (you'd think that would be quick! But there's a LOT to move over, arrange, store, and re-organize), we decided that Thursday afternoon would not be enough time to get that all done and move to a new location, closer to General for a couple of days while we learn the systems, try everything out and look for "bugs" to be fixed. So, we bumped the final signing and move to early Friday morning. One more night at Tyler Creek will give us a little time to get things packed and ready for the move Friday. We will have to get a different kind of electrical connection for our tow car and hope that General can help us with that, or we can't tow the car. I'll have to drive behind Eldy as we move to Hidden Ridge RV Resort and Campground, Hopkins, MI for the weekend. (Can you tell there's a little disappointment if that happens? Hate to miss the first trip out in the Tiffin!) We picked Hidden Ridge because it's closer to General than where we are now in case there are any big problems that crop up. We'll stay at Hidden Ridge for the weekend through Sunday, and leave Monday for ????

Today, we headed back to Grand Rapids Apple store to get Eldy's phone fixed. Yesterday, they told us that he would have to bring in his computer, as there might be a corrupted file on his computer that is preventing his phone from working properly. When he upgraded the software, the phone worked briefly without the volume problem, but it soon cropped up again. They don't want to give him a new phone until they've checked his computer, and re-synced the phone again. I'll take my mac in also and upgrade to the latest software. This helps us so that we don't exceed our air card allotted bandwidth/gigs to download software updates. Not only that, but a software or firmware update on an air card can take hours as opposed to minutes on a fast wi-fi connection at the Apple store. The last time we looked at software updates for the computers, it said it was going to be an 8 hour download on the air card!  Granted, we had not updated for quite some time, but that was just too long. That Apple store is ALWAYS busy! It's a fun place to visit as well...all those ipads and iphone 4's to play with!
something you don't want to see

On the way home, we had a scare...we heard a POP, POP, POP! and couldn't figure out what that sound was. I said I thought it sounded like the tire blew..but the car was steering straight and no shake, rattle or roll. Then the tire low inflation light came on. Uh-oh! Sure enough, the tire was going flat FAST! We limped to the campsite and called AAA. Luckily, I had purchased road hazard insurance with my tires from Discount Tire, so we got the spare on, and off we went to Discount Tire in Grand Rapids, AGAIN! to get the tire fixed. It got a tiny cut by something in the road I guess. It's not repairable, so we got a new free tire because I had the road hazard insurance--yay! Hope tomorrow is a quieter day!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tyler Creek Golf Course and Campground

This is a beautiful campground, that's for sure...not very many people are staying here now that the kids are back in school...for 25.00 a night for water and electric, that's a great deal and will allow us to play some golf while we are here....There's a nice playground for the summer season, the sites are spaced apart nicely, and the trees are gorgeous. They haven't started to turn yet, but you can tell fall is around the corner by the shortening daylight hours. The sun is streaming through the trees and it's a crisp day today...low seventies...the weather is going to dip down into the sixties for the next couple of days...Fall is our favorite range of temperatures....We sleep with the windows open every night and the fan going, and it gets COLD in the house, but we like it like that...great sleeping weather as long as you have plenty of blankets or comforters! Notice I said "house". It's funny to run across people who call a 38 foot motor home a "camper." We really do think of the RV as our home now so we don't hesitate to gently correct anyone that it really is a home and not a camper. No offense taken!

We are off to the mall in Grand Rapids this morning to get Eldy's iphone fixed. He's having problems with the volume not working on it even though it's turned up all the way. I've tried it, too, and you can barely hear anyone on it. We've updated the software on it once, and for a brief time, that helped. But now the volume has dropped again, so we'll see what they can do. While we were at the Apple store today, we got a call that our deal with General
has been approved and it's a go! We pick up the motor home this Thursday! We are really excited!

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Monday, September 13, 2010

On the road again....

Speaking of Wille Nelson's famous song, which happens to be on many RVers' favorite playlists, we heard an older motor home heading out of Elkhart Campground playing the song on their air horn as they left. It was just as loud as loud could be, but many of us at the campground were laughing because it was just so perfect that their rig was playing that. On the front of the bus/RV above the windshield, were the words "Wingin' It"...that just perfectly sums up our lifestyle....(the Tiffin has dual air horns--- guess what Eldy wants for Christmas?)

Sunday night we had dinner with our campground friends Larry and Kay at Hana Yori in Mishawaka, IN, about a 20 min. drive from Elkhart. As with many Japanese restaurants where they cook at your table, you sit at a table with strangers. If you tend to be on the social side, you aren't strangers very long.  We struck up a conversation with the people sitting across from us. They overheard us talking about traveling in an RV, so lots of questions ensued. How do you get your mail? Where are you going next? Where do you stay? Do you still have your home? What do you like about it? Are people very friendly out on the road? They were amazed when we told them about the rallys that are going on in the area. The rally we just attended had about 170 rigs at the Elkhart Campground but the Escapees rally at the Goshen, IN Fairgrounds this week has over 800 coaches in attendance! They were flabbergasted at that there were that many people out there living full time in an RV that would show up at one time in one place to be a part of the rally. You could just tell that they really didn't understand how this all works and were just a little bit puzzled as to how we could walk away from our homes, sold or not, and head out on the road for more than just a couple of weeks. The more we talked about it, the more they thought it was cool! It's hard for people to understand that you don't have to have a plan of where you are going to be...the freedom of it is a hard concept for people to grasp. What? You don't have a schedule? You don't know where you are going next? It was fun trying to explain it!

We traveled north again today to check out the camping areas near Grand Rapids, where General is waiting to get all our tax information for the final assessment to what our possible interest rate will be and the monthly payment for the new Tiffin Phaeton RV. We're holding our breaths as we may not get the favorable rate and payment we are hoping for. If that's the case, then we stay where we are at in our current Damon Challenger until we find something that meets our expectations, but we sure do have our hearts set on the Tiffin! That's been Eldy's dream RV for many years. It's a very high quality unit. He's researched and researched all these models for years....he's currently researching the Freightliner chassis upon which this unit is built. I guess there's a class you can take to learn all about your chassis--maintenance, problem solving, etc. Can't say that's a class I would choose to take, but this is a big investment and I certainly need to know all about the RV in case something happens to Eldy. I was proud of myself this morning. He had to go get his tax records from North Webster so I singlehandedly closed up the motor home...dumped the tanks, put chemicals in the toilet holding tank, unhooked the electric and water,  cranked down the TV antenna, pulled in all the slides, put in the travel bar (so the biggest slide doesn't loosen and wiggle out during travel), and sat down and worked on the blog while waiting for Eldy to come home. There's a lot to remember and an order to everything you do, so I had him doublecheck my efforts before we took off. We have had goofy things happen like an orange rolling off a countertop and wedging itself under the slide (luckily I spotted it before it got squooshed) so you have to look carefully before you put the slides in or out. One time I forgot to take the travel bar out which wedges the slide in place so the top of the frame started to moan and groan before I realized the travel bar was holding it from going out!

We landed at Tyler Creek Golf and Campgrounds  in Alto, MI for the next few days. Alto is east of 131 and directly east of Grand Rapids, so we'll be close by to work out our deal with General. I should say, deal or no deal! Great rates--$25.00 a night..under budget, so we'll see how long we want to stay. The golf is an extra bonus, and it's cheap!  9 holes with a cart, senior rate 50 yrs. and up--$11.00! 18 holes and a cart for 19.00 during the week....we should hear something from General Tuesday afternoon...then it will take a couple of days for financing to fall into place, then another couple of days for the RV to get prepped...we may be here for a week, we don't know...and we may be working on our golf games quite a bit! We shall see.....

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Relaxing weekend


The weather this weekend was rainy all day Saturday and very cool....we spent part of Saturday at the soccer field watching the grandkids play...afterwards we headed to Shipshewanna to get some pretzels from Jo-Jo's (fabulous, fresh, sweet and delicious!), and to visit Lolly's, a terrific quilting store at the Davis Mercantile complex there in Shipshewanna. Lolly's is just one of many cool stores inside the mercantile building. Lolly's is the place you go if you want the latest and greatest in quality cotton quilting fabrics, notions, and books. Yoder's department store is another great fabric store choice, so you have your pick of two! I picked up some charm squares in fall fabrics and a table topper pattern. Seems like I can never have enough projects to keep me busy since I've been retired. I just can't sit still for very long without having something to keep my hands busy!  I've been doing embroidery on ornaments for Christmas, learning to knit myself a vest, and today I just finished knitting a dishcloth. Someone told me awhile back that it was hard to find 100% cotton dishrags any more, so I thought I'd knit up a couple and have them out at my next show, they make great wipeups with their surface texture!....We decided to spend the rest of Sat. evening listening to Watercolours Sirius radio channel (lovely, relaxing jazzy music for a rainy, drizzly evening) and researching inexpensive places to stay near the Grand Rapids General dealer. We came up with at least four places, one a city park in Otsego (Brookside Park) with only four hookup sites...first come, first served and it's FREE. We plan on leaving Tuesday morning for the Grand Rapids area instead of staying and playing the waiting game in Elkhart. The other campgrounds that we are considering are Tyler Creek, Duke Campground and Lakeside Camp Park. We used RV campground reviews website to find these....that is a great tool to find ratings and specs of campgrounds!

Sunday we spent a very relaxing day just working on paperwork, internet research, and then in the evening, we went to a Japanese steak house in Mishawaka called Hana Yori with our new friends Larry and Kay. They drive a diesel Newmar Mountain Air. Larry is a retired diesel mechanic so he certainly can take care of his RV when things go wrong! If we get the diesel, I think we are going to need to take a class on maintenance and how to drive a diesel!

Rainy days sure are great for catching up on reading, researching, etc. I noticed today that Blogger has a "stats" on the tool bar. I had never noticed it before. I clicked on it and found out some amazing things.  I found out for example, that 220 people from Canada read the blog last month! Most people are accessing the blog through Windows and Internet Explorer, some people are using an ipad to view us, and there were over 3,000 page views for the month of August. The pressure is on to keep the blog interesting! I had no idea.....yikes!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Dreamin' of a Tiffin

Repairs are done, but we aren't ready to move back on the road just yet..Both Eldy and I are waiting for eyeglasses to get we decided to head back up to the General RV place in Grand Rapids to just look at motorhomes...we've been pretty frustrated with the lack of storage and kitchen facilities in our motor home...the storage bays on the outside are all different kinds of openings--some swing open sideways, some open upwards on a hinge, some you have to hold open with your head if you are by yourself trying to get something out of a bay....the fridge keeps freezing our food (Total Value says try cleaning the rubber gaskets with rubbing alcohol, so that's on the "honey do list"....either honey can do it)...well, we ended up looking at a beautiful Tiffin, slightly outside our price range...we worked and worked with the budget guys and the salesman trying to get it down, and finally decided that we would look at lesser models. After looking at Winnebagos and a Discovery, we were back to the Tiffin again...decided to bite the bullet and just rework our budgets to curtail eating out, and various other actitivities to be able to afford it. We'll boondock more, we'll stay in cheaper places and with the beautiful kitchen and residential fridge, and me cooking more, we think we can do it...

This morning, Eldy opens up the website to check tank capacities and specs, and low and behold, the Tiffin is on sale, dropping almost $12,000.00 in price, putting it within our budgetary requirements! If Eldy had not seen that, we are thinking that the sales department probably wouldn't have said anything! If this works out, this means we are committed to staying on the road at least ten years....we are really excited. Those photos that went up yesterday, could be our motor home in a couple of weeks! So, we'll's a diesel, it has four slides, a residential fridge, heated bays, king size bed, many more cupboards and drawers, pull out/roll out kitchen counter top, diesel, and it's a four season coach. No more worrying about freezing water pipe lines, and having to worry about cold temperatures...there are two furnaces on board! It has a beautiful, cottage style decor interior in beige and light teal...very beautiful....

Grandkids and children came to the Elkhart campground today for a pizza dinner visit...we really enjoyed their company! After the kids left, we sat outside in our lounger chairs and watched the skies for shooting stars...saw a really long streaking one tonight! First clear night in a long campfires at Elkhart campground, (no fire pits) we had to enjoy just the stars...which was just wonderful!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Repairs and more repairs

The Brake Buddy
Yesterday, we headed over to Dan's Service Center in Elkhart to find out why our brake assist system kept blowing the accessory fuse in the car. Dan's Service Center is the one that installed our hitch on our motor home. When you travel in a large motor home and tow a car behind you, there are certain states that require a supplemental braking system to be placed in your car, with wireless connectivity to the RV. When the RV brakes, the car brakes also. The states place their braking assist requirements on the weight of the car being pulled behind the motor home. Two states we went through this summer required a brake assist system...Ohio, which requires that any car over 2,000 pounds have a brake system, (our Honda CRV weighs 3,000 pounds) and New York, requiring anything over 1,000 pounds to have a supplemental brake system. For some reason, our Brake Buddy quit working the day we pulled out of the place we bought it from and headed out traveling (isn't that the way things always break down--once you are out of the shop?) We haven't been able to get it back into Dan's until was still under warranty, and it turns out that this $1500.00 system was dysfunctional....the Brake Buddy is  roughly box shaped, it sits on the floor of the driver's side with a pedal mechanism attached to the brake pedal and some wiring inside the car that hooks up to the Brake Buddy when you are ready to get going.  The receiver for the brake buddy is in the motor home. When the motor home brakes, it sends a wireless signal to the brake buddy in the tow car and the car brakes as well, enabling a quicker stop in an emergency. The Brake Buddy was one of the cheaper systems out there and one that was less intrusive to the mechanics of my car, so we chose it. We now have a brand new Brake Buddy, and it appears to be working fine. If you ever had an accident, it would be a good thing to have a working brake assist system on a motor home to prove to the insurance agency, no matter whether it is a gas or a diesel, to prove more responsible driving and braking with a tow car behind. If you plan on traveling all over the country, you run the risk of getting stopped and getting a ticket and/or fine for not having one of these depending on the state you are in....Now, Eldy can rest easy as we are in compliance with the law....I never knew there were so many things we needed in preparation to go full timing! That should take care of it for now....tire compressor, brake assist system, the right grill .....

You wouldn't think it would be difficult to get a good grill for cooking outdoors but we've had our troubles!  We've gone through a couple. Many of them do not have enough BTU's to boil water! Everyone has their preferences---Weber Baby Q, Coleman Road Trip Deluxe, etc. If you are a serious cook, (and I have to say I'm not at the moment due to serious lack of kitchen space and facilities in the Challenger) make sure you have at least 10,000+  BTUs per burner or you'll be waiting all day for the water to boil!  Well, back to Total Value today to see how the floor is coming along...and....IT'S DONE!!!! YAY!!!! But, Eldy's glasses are not...despite a rush order, they were due to be ready so we could hit the road, but now we will be here till Monday to wait on  his glasses...No worries, mate! We are kind of glad to be back in Elkhart to see Eldy's grandkids, his kids, and some friends we met last week at the rally who are still here, and make yet another trip to the storage shed in Fremont to get some more stuff! I did say we were going to unload some things FROM the RV TO the storage place, but it seems we are bringing more stuff BACK to the RV. We're thinking we need more storage space!  Until tomorrow then......