Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Glad to see 2008 end

Boy oh boy, are we ever to see 2008 end. Our son, Todd, had his cardiac problem in November. Leah's mother fell and broke her hip on 11/22/08 and Leah had open heart surgery on 12/30/08. And before I forget, I got another year older on 12/29/08.

Todd seems to be doing just fine and can not wait to get back to full time work and driving. Mom had her hip repaired on 11/24/08 and is now in rehab at a local nursing home.

Leah's surgery went well and she is coming along well. She was moved from cardiac icu to a step-down unit. We are hoping she will be allowed to come home this weekend. It looks like she has about 3 months of recuperation time ahead.

So far, knock wood, I am still going strong.

We hope everyone has a good 2009!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day

Well, today is Christmas day. With all that has been going on in the past several months, it has been hard to get into the Christmas Spirit. We have done all of the normal things like decorate, put up a tree, purchase presents, go to Christmas parties and go to Christmas Eve services.

Last Friday Leah's mother was moved into an assisted living facility. On Sunday we went to Leah's brother's house for a family Christmas party. Leah and I took mom along with us and returned her back Sunday evening.

Monday morning Leah got a phone call that her mother had fallen during the night and injured herself. Her mother told them at the assisted living facility that she didn't want to go to the hospital. By early morning her leg was hurting her to the point where she thought that she should go the the hospital and have things checked out. At this point we received a phone call telling us what happened and that mom was going to be taken to the hospital.

In the emergency room it was determined that mom had a broken hip and would need surgery to repair it. Surgery was scheduled for 8:30 am on 12/24/08. We got to see mom at about 3:00 pm and she looked as good as a 91 year old woman can look after surgery. There will be a rehab period after mom gets out of the hospital. We are hoping that we can get her in at Lorian which is here in town.

Leah's surgery day of December 30th is getting closer and closer. Leah has a leaking mitral valve and must have it repaired or replaced. We hope that thing goes well with her surgery.

Oh, and did I mention that Tom's birthday is on Monday.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Missed Maddy's Birthday

Today we were planning to go to our son's house and help celebrate our granddaughter's 9th birthday. But this was not to be, we both were sick. I started feeling bad on Friday with sore muscles, a headache and everything going in to top was coming out the bottom.

When I got up Saturday morning, I thought I was feeling beter, but as the day went on, I felt worse. During the night after making one of my several trips to the bathroom, Leah told me her stomach was starting to bother her.

Sunday morning found us both too ill to make a trip to a store and back let alone a 2 hour trip to Va.

Not only were we ill physically, we were broken hearted that we would not be spending the day with Maddy on her Birthday. We hope the next weekend goes much better as we have several Christmas parties to attend and host.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Busy Month

Boy has the past several weeks been busy. Between getting ready for Christmas and hospital visits, the weeks have been full.

Just to bring everyone up to date: Todd has been back to the hospital twice. Once for a wire that dislodged in his heart from the defibrillator/pacemaker and second for an infection in his incision. This latest incident was on Sunday 12/7/08. He is back home again and we hope this time that he does not have to go back except for normal check-ups.

Leah had a cardiac cath several weeks ago and was told she had to have her mitral valve repaired. We had to make several trips to Baltimore to meet with the surgeon and to have a prior to surgery work up. Her surgery is scheduled for 12/30/08.

We had to take Leah's mother to the hospital this morning as she was not feeling well. They admitted her and are going to give her a blood transfusion tonight. She should be home by Saturday.

I have been driving a school bus everyday because of the regular driver having a baby and the substitute drive having a fall and being injured. I don't mind driving now and again, but this driving everyday is like working a full time job again.

Sunday the 14Th is our granddaughter's 9Th birthday. We are looking forward to going down to Virginia and having a small party for her.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Things are Moving Fast

Everything is moving very fast for Leah.  Today the doctor's office called to make appointments for tomorrow for some test to be conducted for the upcoming heart valve repair.  We both are hoping that everything will go well and we can get on with our lives. 

We were already planning to go out to eat for Thanksgiving.  This latest development has proven this to be a wise decision.

Monday, November 24, 2008

You Gotta Have Heart. . .

Wednesday morning we received a call from our daughter-in-law, Beth that Todd was on his way back to the hospital with chest pains. She was on her way back home from work when she called. She said she would call us from the hospital in Richmond and give us an update.

Later in the day, Beth, called and told us they felt that the wire from Todd's defibrillator/pacemaker came loose inside of his heart and was causing his discomfort. Thursday afternoon he was in surgery to repair the wire placement. He came thru the surgery with flying colors. On Friday he was released to come go home again.

While all of Todd's cardiac problems were going on, Leah was awaiting cardiac testing herself. On Monday I drove her to University of Maryland in Baltimore to have a cardiac cath. The results were mixed. Her arteries are in fine shape, but she has a mitral valve that needs repaired. She is going to wait until after the holidays before having anything done.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Value of CPR - Priceless

Tuesday, November 4, 2008 was a terrible day for us. About 11:30 am we received a phone call from our daughter-in-law, Beth, that our son, Todd, was being taken by ambulance to the hospital. He was in the shower getting ready to go to work when he just fell over. At first, Beth, thought Todd was just playing around, but he did not respond. As luck would have it, when Todd fell, he blocked the door shut. Beth's son, Anthony was home because of election day. He heard Todd fall and came to investigate. Beth had him call 9-1-1 and they managed to get the door open just enough to get the phone into Beth.

The dispatcher gave Beth CPR instructions over the phone which Beth did until the paramedics arrived to take over Todd's care. He was in V-fib cardiac arrest. They shocked him, continued CPR and transported him to Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg, Va.

Leah and I arrived around 2:30 PM and were surrounded by Todd's friends from the emergency medical flight service where he works. We were shown to a smaller room of the main emergency waiting room. An emergency room doctor came in and told us that Todd was stable and was being taken to the ICU. Soon after a Cardiologist came in and informed us that they did not feel that Todd had suffered any heart damage, but they were going to be running additional test the following day.

After we moved up to the ICU waiting room, Beth said that she had a feeling that Todd did not want to be in that hospital. Todd's friend, Dave, got on the phone to their Medical Director at VCU Medical Center. VCUMC put the wheels in motion to make the transfer happen on their end. We had to push on our end to make the transfer happen. One doctor wanted to wait another day until he felt that Todd was more stable to be flown to Richmond, Va. We insisted that Todd be transferred now. VCUMC is a hospital that has a protocol for using hypothermia treatment on patients such as Todd and it was necessary that that treatment be started within 6 hours. Todd's vital signs were stable and VCUMC is a familiar, comfortable environment for Todd. And since the weather was not very good the helicopter was not flying so he would be transported by ambulance.

The flight crew wanted to take care of Todd during the ground transport. A protocol for initiating the hypothermia treatment was available for this crew to use prior to hospitalization. So it was arranged for the flight crew to be in the transporting ambulance as his care providers. Another of Todd's friends came to the hospital to also assist during the transport. All went smooth with the transfer to VCUMC.

Beth's mother, Rose, drove down from New York state to look after things at Todd and Beth's house. We left Anthony with Rose and drove Beth to VCUMC. When we got to see Todd, the hypothermia therapy was in place. Prior to hospitalization the cooling was started with chilled IV fluids and ice packs. After hospitalization a cather was inserted into a vein in which cool saline flowed through an enclosed circuit cooling the blood but not mixing with the blood. They cooled his body down to 92 degrees and kept him at that tempature for 24 hours and then rewarmed him over the next 12 hour period. This was to protect his brain from swelling to minimize any possible damage.

It was a very scarry sight to see our 39 year old son with all sorts of IV lines, tubes and wires connected to him. We knew he was in good hands and was getting the best of care and felt that he was going to be okay.

Leah and I left Beth at the hospital and went home to catch a few hours rest and return back with our motorhome so we could stay closer to the hospital. We were able to find a campground about 15 miles from the hospital.

Wednesday was a day when everything was in place, the therapy was in process and all of the monitoring to go along with it. Todd was in a drug induced coma. So we were in a holding pattern. Another friend of Todd's took Beth home Wednesday evening so she could try to get some rest. She stayed as close to Todd as she could until then.

Thursday was a great day for us, they were bringing Todd out of his drug induced coma and he was able to communicate with us. His first question was what happened to him and what hospital was he in. When we all left at the end of the day we were feeling very good as all of Todd's reports were comming back very good.

Friday when we came back to visit, Todd told us that he "woke up" around 1:00 am to find himself in the ICU. He did not remember us being there before Friday morning. After removing all of the IV lines, tubes and wires, the doctors felt Todd could be moved from the ICU to a step down unit later in the day.

More test were performed on Todd, but they could not find anything wrong with his heart nor anything that caused the sudden arrest. As a safegard, Todd had a pacemaker-defibulator installed and was allow to go home on Wednesday 11/12/08.

The doctors said Todd can resume a normal life and in fact is better protected with an implanted ICD than most of us. We hope and pray that he is.

So, if you don't know CPR, please learn. Who knows you might need to use it someday to save a life.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The rehab is finished

Well, we now have a different looking motorhome sitting in our driveway. Last Thursday we left Maryland via our car and headed to Indiana. After a night in a motel room, Travis' first time, we arrived in Elkhart, Indiana on Friday to get the motorhome from Bradd and Hall's. We were really pleased with the exterior paint job that had been done by Mike's Custom Painting and the interior flooring that Bradd and Hall had just completed that morning. It looked and felt like a new coach. But we were not finished we had to go to Irv Kauffman/ Gene Miller's in Nappanee, Indiana to have the window treatments and headboard installed. So Friday afternoon as planned Irv and Gene installed their part of the rehab in the motorhome. What a difference in appearence did the changing of the window treatments from cloth treatments to wood make. Irv and Gene had also taken the table top and refinished it as it had become yellowed and suffered a few knicks. It now looks better than it ever did- the leaf never did match the rest of the table before but now it matches very well.

Painted Motorhome

After leaving Kauffman's we went to "Camp Newmar" for the night. It was then that we were able to add our touches to the rehab. New braided rugs were placed on the floors and the completed quilt was put on the bed. Needless to say we are very pleased with the end product. It was not an inexpensive venture but it was a whole lot less than buying a new unit. We have been comfortable in this motorhome and have not seen anything else that we just felt we really had to have.
Saturday morning we left Nappanee and headed east. We stopped at a Farmers's Market on Route 19 before getting to Elkhart. This is a nice market with vendors of all kinds plus a food court area. We spent a little time and money here before moving on. Our next stop was the RV Museum and Hall of Fame in Elkhart. This is a must-see museum for RVers. Brings back menories seeing those pop-up and other trailers on display.
Saturday night we spent at Harrison Lake, Ohio visiting with Tom's family. On Sunday we traveled on easterly and stopped in Pennsylvannia for the night before arriving home today.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Rehabbing Continues

The painting of the exterior has been completed. Pictures of the motothome were sent to us from Mike's Custom Painting and we are real pleased with what we see at this point. On Thursday Josh from Bradd and Hall picked up the motorhome from Mike's in Bremen, In. and took it to their facility in Elkhart,In. Tom talked with Josh on Friday. Josh said the motorhome outside looked like a new coach. Bradd and Hall will be installing new flooring which will take about a week. Our plans now are that on Thursday we will be heading to Indiana. We are anxious to see the finished product.

Friday, October 17, 2008

A week in Biloxi

On Saturday Morning, October 4, 2008, eighteen persons started heading towards Biloxi, Ms. Six members of our group were flying into New Orleans, La and spending Saturday night than driving to Biloxi on Sunday. Four members flew into Gulfport/Biloxi, Ms and the remainder were driving from Maryland to Mississippi.

Tom was in the second group that flew into Gulfport/Biloxi, Ms. he decided to do this because we have been to New Orleans three times. AirTran was used and all of the flights were trouble free.

Our group of four was picked up at the airport by the car rental agency. After signing for the rental vehicle, we drove along Beach Blvd which runs right along the gulf coast. As we were heading for Biloxi and the Back Bay Mission everything looked it had when Leah and I spent a week in Biloxi the winter prior to Katrina hitting the area in August of 2005.

My first impression was everything was back to normal before Katrina. However as I looked around in more detail, I started to notice the aftermath that is still present in the area. Most of the rubble has been cleared away, but the scars remain. Many of the vacant lots have concrete pads where once stately beach front houses stood. Lots of old oak trees have been damaged and many more were uprooted and gone forever.

If you click on the picture, you will be taken to a photo album that will show you Biloxi, the people in our group and the homes we worked on during our week there.

Back Bay Mission Trip

If you have ever considered doing this type of volunteer work, I believe you will never do anything that will give you more satisfaction. It has been three years since Katrina and the amount of aid and volunteer workers has tapered off, but much work still remains to be done.

I and many others in the group will return to Biloxi to continue getting families back into their homes.


Friday, October 10, 2008

Continuing the rehab process

Tom has been in Mississippi this week with a group of 18 people from our church and community working on the Back Bay Mission project. This project works on rebuilding homes damaged by Katrina 3 years ago. This morning I placed a call to Mike's Custom Painting to see where our motorhome was in the painting phase of the rehab project. I was told that by next Thursday it would be ready to be picked up by the Bradd and Hall folks for their work. I then placed a call to Josh at Bradd and Hall to let him know of the release date. Josh will go to Mike's and drive the motorhome to their facility for the floor work. Josh said he would contact Mike's the middle of next week.
Needless to say we are really excited about this process. Emily at Mike's says the motorhome is looking real good. I have gotten braided rugs for the floors and I'm working diligently on a quilt for the bed

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Rehab Adventure Begins

Wednesday, October 1, 2008
After much mulling over and planning we made up our minds that we would rehab our motorhome as oppose to trading for something newer. We like our motorhome- it is home away from home for us. Although it only has one slide we have been comfortable for the past 9 years traveling and living in it. And it is paid for!!!

We did a lot of planning and this past week started to carry out the plans. Last Thursday, the 25th of September we left home and headed toward Nappanee, Indiana in our motorhome. Thursday night was spent at a campground in Eastern Ohio and Friday we arrived at "Camp Newmar" in Nappanee, Indiana. "Camp Newmar" is the camping area that Newmar Coorporation has for units having servicing. We were scheduled for Monday to have the exterior clearence lights replaced, the awning material over the slide-out replaced, the slide-out seal replaced and a new front window drape/curtain.

On Saturday Irv Kaufman and Gene Miller came to our unit to measure the windows for wood trim window treatments and the headboard on the bed for a wood replacement of that. All the window treatments and headboard are fabric, not something that can be cleaned well and after 9 years have become discolored. When Irv and Gene left they took the table top with them (it needed to be refinished as it had become discolored) and the headboard of the bed had been removed and discarded.

Monday morning, bright and early-6:30am- our motorhome was taken into a shop area for the repair work to be done. We went to get some breakfast and then went to Bremen, In. to see the Mike's Custom Painting. Prior to going out to Indiana we had made contact with all the vendors that would be doing work on the motorhome and had arranged a tenative schedule with them. Emily, at Mike's, said she would have some colors mixed up for us to look at later on Monday or on Tuesday. We had chosen the design from the website and we had some idea of the colors.

After Mike's we went to Elkhart to Bradd and Hall's, the business that is going to be replacing the flooring. We had been sent some samples of laminates and carpeting which we had already chosen but needed to return the samples back.

By 1:30pm our motorhome was returned to us with the work completed. We decided at this point that we would stay the night at Camp Newmar. On Tuesday morning we took the motorhome to Mike's Custom Painting (Mike's open at 6am) . After selecting our colors, we left the motorhome and we're on the road to home before 8am. We were home by 6:30pm. It was a long day of traveling. Travis was the best little dog throughout the whole trip.

The plans are that the painting will be done in 2-3 weeks. Bradd and Hall will pick up the motorhome and do their work, which will take about a week. We will then return to Indiana, pick up the motorhome and go to Kaufman/Miller's for the installation of the window treatments and bed headboard which should complete most of the rehab work. We will finish with a new bed covering and rugs for the bedroom and the frontroom. Needless to say we are extremely excited about getting this rehab done.

We will have before and after pictures posted for all to see.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Mom's Birthday

Today Leah's mother turns 91. She still live at home, but requires a lot of help from us when we are home. About a month ago, she decided she was going to stop driving as she no longer felt comfortable doing it.

We put the car in her front yard with a for sale sign on it. When we returned home, Tom listed the car on Craig's List. Within an hour of the posting we received three calls on the car, this was Saturday morning. Sunday afternoon a guy came aroound to look at the car, took a test drive and made an offer, which was accepted by us.

On Monday we had the car state inspected and on Tuesday evening the new owner drove away with the the car. Now, someone has to do the food shopping and take mom to all of her appointments.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Duramed Futures Tour

Last week the Duramed Futures Tour made it's stop at the Links at Gettysburg. The Duramed Futures Tour is for lady golfers trying to make the LPGA Tour.

Last year Tom worked as a volunteer for the Pro-Am days as well as the first two days of the tournament. He did the same again this year and we also hosted two of the players. Lili Alvarez from Durango, Mexico and Alissa Kuczka from Phoenix, Az.

We enjoyed having the ladies around for the week, learning about their backgrounds and what they have to go through on the tour. The lifestyle, being on the road for six months out of the year, finding sponsors and funding to stay on tour, and many times not knowing where and with whom you will be staying each week does not hold a lot of glamour. But they are following their dreams of playing in the LPGA.

We were really pulling for the ladies, but they did not make the 36 hole cut. How sad for them and to a degree for us. It is amazing to see how they cope with not making the cut and support their friends that do.

Alissa and Lili if you read this, best of luck to you both and we can not wait to see you both on the LPGA tour.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Monday, August 4, 2008

Well our trip came to an end today as we traveled up I-81 through the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, then through a small part of West Virginia to Maryland. Again the traffic was heavy with truck traffic but did move at a good pace. We stopped at a Ryan's restaurant for lunch in Martinsburg, W.Va and the arrived home about at 2p.m. We traveled 3861 miles these past 6 weeks without any major problems. It was a nice trip- now where do we go next?

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Sunday, August 3, 2008

I forgot to mention before, that as we traveled down through Kentucky to Tennessee on Friday we went back into Central time from Eastern time. It just seemed strange to return to Central time since we had changed time zones in the Upper Pennisula of Michigan and we felt we were moving in a southeastern direction. So after 2 days we returned today to Eastern time as we traveled from Crossville, Tennessee to just south of Roanoke, Virginia. The traffic, especially truck traffic, was heavy on I-40 and I-81. We stopped after a little more than 300 miles at Dixie Caverns Campground. This campground could use some cosmetic work although we do have full hook-ups including 50 amp electric, cable TV and WiFi. Tomorrow we plan to be home, with about 270 more miles of travel. Gas prices were close to $4.00 when we started our trip, hit a high of $4.25 and now we are seeing prices as low as $3.55.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Yesterday, August 1, was my bithday. I told Tom the night before that I was not cooking on my birthday and he said "okay". After checking the "Exit Authority" Tom said that we would get up and go about 12 miles down the road and stop at a Cracker Barrel. So we did and I had a wonderful French toast breakfast, not my normal oatmeal breakfast. We drove down I-75 and then picked up Rte. 127 from Danville. It was scenic, hilly and curvy and could have used more guard-railing in some places for my comfort. Along the way there were flea markets set up. We were told later that these fleas markets will be increasing for the next several weeks until the markets will stretch for hundreds of miles through 3 states on route 127.
We checked into Spring Lake Campground in Crossville, Tennessee. And then we finished the day by going to La Costa Restarant for dinner.

This morning after walking around the campground's lake with Travis we set out on a drive in this area. There are many RVers that have settled in this area and we were curious. We stopped and went through an open house of a house situated on a lake- very nice property but the house was much larger than we thought. There is an entire community of homes with RV garages in Crossville. We drove through that area. The community is very attractive and well maintained.
We had contacted a friend, Lois Howard, that lives in the area and arranged to meet. We drove to Lois' home that is being built and then we went to Cooksville for lunch at a Cheddars restaurant. We had a very enjoyable time catching up.

It has been quite warm and humid so the air conditioning is going full blast. Well tomorrow we'll be moving closer to home as we head out I-40 to I-81 up through Virginia.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Thursday, July 31, 2008

We decided to go southeast instead of directly east so we traveled down I-75 through Ohio and have stopped for the night at Walton, Kentucky about 20 miles south of the Ohio/Kentucky line. We would have stopped in Ohio but the campgrounds in the Dayton area are scarce. It is apparent that we are back in the heat of summer- we sure enjoyed the cooler temperatures around the Great Lake area.

Oak Creek Campground is where we are parked tonight. This is a Good Sam park with fairly high ratings(8.5-8-8.5 out of a possible 10-10-10) but the rater must have received a pay-off. We are parked in an area to the front of the campground with others that are here for the night and this area doesn't look too bad. But walking back into the area of seasonal RVers is another story. We were expecting to hear the banjo from "Deliverance" at any moment. Almost all the RVs have obviously "seasoned" here for years. One 5th wheel was observed with 2 window air conditioners and, would you believe, a chimney through the roof, we believe for their living room fireplace.

There are others with porches built on and now are bulging with "stuff".

The vehicles, mainly pick-up trucks, that past by our area have fenders or hoods of a non matching color. We do have 50 amp electric, free WiFi, cable TV but no sewer. The roads are paved but narrow making passing another vehicle difficult. Oh well, lock the doors and move on tomorrow toward Tennessee.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wednesday, July 30,2008

As we went to bed last night we anticipated that we would be awakened during the night with a thunderstorm that was supposedly headed our direction but it did not come to pass. We got underway before 9 am and headed southeast to Frankenmuth, the Bavarian area of our country. We are staying in a Jellystone Park, that is very expensive- a little more than $50.00 and that includes a Good Sam discount. The site we were assigned had sewer on one side of the coach and water and electric on the other side. After Tom complained we were reassigned to another site that they called a "premium" site- it was at the end of a row, big deal! But the hook-ups were all on one side.
After setting up Tom and I went to Bronner's Christmas Store and bought a few more ornaments, like we needed anymore.

We then went downtown and walked around to the various stores. We ended the day with a Bavarian meal at the Bavarian Inn.

Tomorrow we plan to move on from here, still debating if we will go immediately east or drop down into Tennessee before heading east.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tuesday, July 29,2008

Today, after Tom fixed a leak in a connector of our hot water heater we headed to Petoskey State Park located on Little Traverse Bay not too far from the campground. The Micigan state stone, Petoskey Stone, is frequently found along the shores at this park. The Petoskey Stone is a 350 million year old fossil referred to as a colonial coral. We took a hike up a rather high hill, much of the walk was up flights of steps, where at one area we were able to see Lake Michigan through the trees. The downhill descent did not involve stairs.

From there we walked back to the campground area which we were not allowed to drive back to unless we were camping there.

we did drive to the beach area but because Travis was with us and dogs were not allowed on the beach we took turns walking down to the water looking for Petoskey Stones. We may have found one.

Our plans were to eat a picnic lunch in the park but the bugs were pretty pesky so we left the park and went to Harbor Springs Marina area that has a nice park with picnic tables and few bugs. As we ate lunch we were entertained with the activities on the water- putting boats in and taking boats out of the water, kayakers, and sea planes landing and taking off. It was a very relaxing time. Tomorrow we move on from this area.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Petoskey, Michigan

Yesterday, Sunday, we left Kinross and traveled about 70 miles south to Petoskey, a city along Lake Michigan. At the FMCA Rally in St. Paul we were told about a new RV resort in Petoskey and offered a 3 night free camping. Oh yes, there were strings attached but nothing that was uncomfortable. This resort will be an ownership resort- all sites are being sold.

We met with a saleslady for about an hour as she gave us a tour of the facilities and told that if we wanted to talk any further to just contact her, end of presentation. This is a beautiful resort in a beautiful area. Compared to the resort we stayed at in Woodruff, Wisconsin this place is a much better bang for the buck than that place. The parking pads are concreted or bricked and level with well landscaped yards and common areas. Upon registration we were given a giftbox from a local merchant and in the morning a US Today newspaper is delivered to our pad. When we came in here our first reaction was so this is where the big Prevost motorhomes set up camp. Later in the day Tom and I drove around the area and stopped for dinner.
Today Tom and I struck out again. We spent time walking around the town of Petoskey and doing some shopping.

We drove down to Bay Harbor and then to Harbor Springs where we had lunch at a restaurant along Little Traverse Bay.

It was a sunny, bright day with temps in the low 80's. Later in the evening we drove down to a park in Petoskey to watch the sunset over the bay- Travis went along, too.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Saturday, July 26, 2008

This is our fourth day in Kinross East RV Park.  We had originally planned to stay here for 3 nights but then decided to stay an additional day.  The weather is so comfortable in this part of the country and we know as we start going a little further south the temperature will be increasing.  Today I did the laundry and Tom cooked steaks on the grill.  Later in the afternoon we went down to St. Ignace. 

We had heard that the ship the Pride of Baltimore was to go under the Mackinac Bridge at 4pm in celebration of the Mackinac Bridges's 51st anniversary.  We stopped at a park that overlooked the bridge hoping to see the "Pride" but to our disappointment there was no sign of the ship.  We then went down in the town of St. Ignace and in the marina the "Pride" was docked and open for on board tours.  Apparently the information we had heard was incorrect, the "Pride" is due to sail under the bridge on the 28th as it goes from Lake Huron to Lake Michigan.  Tomorrow we are moving across the bridge and down the western side of Michigan to Petoskey.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Moving Across the UP

Wednesday we continued our travels across the Upper Peninsula of Michigan following the Lake Michigan coastline on Route 2.  The Lake Michigan water is a beautiful shade of blue reminding us of the blue Caribbean Sea.  We came to an area known as the Sand Dunes of Hiawatha Forest that we pulled off on the side of the road,  had lunch in the motorhome and took a short stroll along the beach. 

There were quite a few bathers enjoying the sandy beach.  We felt it was a little cool for swimming- the air temp was in the mid 70's and the water cold.  Following Route 2 we went to St. Ignace and hit Route I-75 and went north about 30 miles to Kinross.  Kinross is between Sault Ste. Marie and St. Ignace, two areas we planned to visit, and has a campground that has good rates with full hook-ups.  Kinross East Campground is a public campground that at one time was the location of an Air Force Base.  After selecting a campsite, registration is done by filling out an envelope and depositing the necessary money in the envelope and then dropping the envelope in a receptacle.  The town of Kinross does not have much to offer in the way of restaurants.

Thursday morning Tom and I set out for St. Ignace to get a boat ride to Mackinac Island.  We went out on a Shepler's boat at the cost of $50.00 for 2 round trip tickets.  The boat ride took about 16 minutes to the island.  Once on Mackinac Island, we rented bicycles and rode around the island. Mackinac Island does not have motorized traffic- only bicycles and horse drawn carriages. About halfway around the 8 mile loop there is a concession stand and restrooms which we stopped at.  It took Tom about 20 minutes to buy 1  soft pretzel.  It was a pretty day and comfortable for bicycling.  We stopped at times to take pictures and just enjoy the views.  After turning our bikes in we ate lunch at the Pink Pony Grill and the walked around to the shops.  Of course we had to get a small piece of fudge- fudge is sold in almost every store on the island. 

Friday morning we set out for Sault Ste. Marie and the Soo Locks.  There is a nice area for watching  the water traffic going through the locks.  When we first got there we watched a tour boat go through the locks and then a short time later a barge went through.  Even though we have been here before and had even gone through the locks on a tour boat we enjoyed watching the operation of these locks.  It started to rain so we went into several shops as we worked our way back to the car.  Later in the evening we had a thunderstorm at the campground with a heavy downpour of rain.

I have to say that the weather in this part of the country ( from the northern part of Wisconsin and through the UP) is really wonderful at this time of the year.  The temperatures have been in the 70's to low 80's during the day and then down to the upper 50's to lower 60's at night.  We have only used air conditioning when we are away for the day and Travis is left in the motorhome.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Going to the UP of Michigan

This morning, Tuesday, July 22, 2008, we left Indian Shores Campground on Lake Tomahawk for the U P of Michigan.  We decided to follow route 70 into Michigan and pick up route 2 to head East. 

Our journey was going along well until we got to Eagle River, WI.  For whatever reason, I turned onto route 17 North instead of staying on route 70.  I guess I had a brain fart...  In case you didn't know, farting is considered a sport in the U.P.  Anyway, Leah grabbed the map, looked and saw we could still connect up with route 2 by staying on route 17, but the road would narrow down somewhat before reaching route 17..

We were moving down the road enjoying the passing landscape when all of a sudden the road ahead of turning to dirt.  Oh my, I put on the breaks and knocked things off the chairs and the bed bring the motorhome to a stop.  Just before I had to make a panic stop, I thought I saw a very small sign point to a road on the left that would lead to route 2.  Since I was past the road I had to do something you do not want to do in a motorhome towing a car, backing up...  I was very lucky and was able to backup far enough to make the left turn to continue.  I was also lucky in the fact that nobody was behind us at the time.

We connected up with Route 2 without any additional gaffs on my part.  We arrived in Iron Mountain, Mi about lunch time and passed a Chicago Hot Dog Shop.  Just a little ways past it was an information center that we pulled into and parked.  We walked back to the hot dog  shop, but it had went out of business, bummer.  We really had our minds set to have hot dogs for lunch and the shop being closed was a big disappointment.  Luck was with us today however as we spotted a hot dog cart around the corner, so we purchased some hot dogs and took them back to the motorhome for lunch.  We  knew they were not the Chicago style hot dogs, but they were very good none the less.

As we were eating our lunch, we looked at a Michigan campground directory and decided to head for a campground about 16 miles East of Escanaba, Mi.  As we passed through Escanaba, we saw a sign for the Pioneer Trail Park which has camping and picnicking.  We decided to pull in and give it a look to see if we could get a site for the night.  We pulled in and had to self-register and pick out a site.  As we were looking at several possible sites, a truck pulling a fifth wheel trailer and a boat pulled out so we pulled into that site for the night.  The power boxes don't look the best, but since we now have the electrical management system installed we feel a lot safer plugging in.

100_3162 004There are several fishermen camped here to take part in a Walleye fishing tournament being held in Escanaba over the next three days.   Also, a group was making some kind of video tape at one of the nearby sites.  The temps is mild enough that we don't need to run our air conditioning.

Monday, July 21, 2008


Boy, have I ever gotten behind. Sunday, July 13, was another hot day requiring our A.C. to run. In the morning we drove out of St. Paul to Woodbury to go to a Trader Joe's to get some Cheap Chuck Wine. It was our first time going to Trader Joe's and we found it to be a rather interesting store but because it was Sunday we couldn't buy any Cheap 3 Buck Chuck wine. Since Sam's Club was in the same area we had to stop there for a few items. In the evening at the rally, there was a dinner for all the volunteers which we attended.
Monday, we did our 3 hours each of volunteer work. We sat at the doorways of a building where vendors were setting up their displays not allowing non-vendors into the area. Afterwards, we went to Don Pablos for dinner and stopped at a Best Buys to get charger for IPODs.

Tuesday, the rally got underway with vendor areas and the coach displays opened. We attended some seminars and then went through the vendor area. The sound system in the seminars was not very good, too bad for the listener and the presenter. We made a trip out to a CVS pharmacy to get some prescriptions refilled. While waiting, a black lady approached us and asked if we would give her money so she could buy tissue paper, she had $3.00 and needed $2.00 more. I said that was awful expensive tissue paper and Tom said he would go up to the cashier and pay what was needed but wouldn't give her the money. As Tom was walking to the cashier with this lady she finally admitted that she wanted to buy cigarettes and Tom said he would not give her money for that. The rally's entertainment for the evening was the Brett family, a family that performs in Branson, Mo. We got a phone call during the performance so we left early. My brother called that my mother's phone was not working and he didn't know who was the provider to call. Tom called Verizon, they would send out a repairman on the 23rd, more than a week away. After some insistence, Tom finally was told a repairman would be out the next day.
Wednesday was more seminars and then we went to the coach displays and looked at the new coaches. The entertainment for this evening was the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band which put on a good show. The volunteers were honored and given reserved seating for the show.

Thursday was more of the same- seminars and vendor areas. We were in the vendor area in the afternoon and it was evident that these folks were ready for the rally to end. There was some really tired looking people there. This evening entertainment was Gary Puckett. Songs that he had sang with the Union Gap were good but other songs were not so pleasing to listen to.

Friday morning we packed up and left St. Paul heading into Wisconsin. We didn't have any reservations but were heading to the Northwoods area of Wisconsin. We drove through a campground connected to a racetrack and didn't like the looks of that place so moved on. At the rally we had picked up a card about a campground in Woodruff that offered a free night of camping or 4 nights for $ 40.00. Tom called that campground to see if we could get in. When asked if we were coming for 1 or 4 nights Tom said we would like to see the place before committing. After seeing the area and selecting a site we decided to stay for 4 nights for $40.00. This camground is selling lots for RVs or park models to be placed on. We spent about an hour with a salesman on Saturday talking about the plans for this campground but no hard sell. Our campsite overlooks a beautiful lake.
This whole area up here is really beautiful. There are lakes everywhere surrounded by birch and pine trees. The towns are small, mostly unincorporated towns.
Sunday we drove up to a small community, Manitowish, to see an art exhibit in their community center. From there we drove back through the Lac du Flambeau Indian reservation. Sunday evening we had dinner at the campground's restaurant. The salesman that had talked with us on Saturday gave us a slip for dinner at the restaurant and we had to use it on Sunday since the restaurant was closed on Monday. We both ordered "Large Caesar Salad with Chicken". The salad was an average size salad composed of salad greens, nothing resembling Romaine lettuce, and a nice piece of chicken with a bottled dressing.
Monday we went into Woodruff and Minocqua to check out the little shops.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Moving on to the FMCA Rally At St. Paul

Friday morning, July 11,  we left St. Cloud about 9am to travel along with 3 other units to St. Paul.  We had volunteered to help with security so we had to go in a day earlier than the others at the pre-rally.  We were parked on the grounds of the Minnesota Fairgrounds by 11am.  The 4 units that traveled together were parked together which makes it pretty nice to be with others that we are somewhat familiar.  It was a hot day, temps around 90 and humidity high also.  The weather reports predicted some stormy weather in the evening so we decided to go out for lunch.  We ate Dino's, That Greek Place.  Dino's was a fast food style restaurant that served Greek sandwiches.  We thought the food was pretty good.  Later we walked Travis around the fair grounds noticing the dark clouds building.  When we got back to the motorhome we watched the TV and the weather reports.  Regular TV programming was pre-empted with weather reports.  There was a strong line of thunderstorms moving our way.  The  St. Cloud area that we had left from in the morning was hit with severe storms including a threat of tornados.  About 8pm the winds became very gusty and the sky was an eerie shade of orange with black clouds and then the rain poured.  The winds  had gusts of 50 to 70 mph.  We were relieved when the storm passed.

Saturday, Tom and I went to the Mall of America, the largest mall in the U.S.  We spent several hours walking around.  The stores were much like stores in other malls but at this mall there is an amusement park in the center, Nickelodeon Theme Park.  We ate lunch at a Rainforest Cafe.  Returning to the fairgrounds we had to attend a meeting in the afternoon regarding our security duties.  We will be working 3 hours Monday afternoon (3-6pm) securing the indoor exhibits as the vendors set-up for the rally.  Today has been much better weather-wise.  It was sunny, a little windy, with temps in the upper 70's.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Our Travels Continue

On Sunday, July 6, we moved on to Baraboo, Wisconsin about 130 miles away from Rockford and close to Wisconsin Dells. We saw my corn fields that had been flooded. We had reservations at Fox Hill Campground, a pretty nice campground but like Illinois had lots of mosquitos. We went into Baraboo to find a grocery store and before finding a grocery store we located a Gander Mountain store. Since we had never been to a Gander Mountain store we stopped there and looked around. And then we went to an IGA store for some groceries.
Monday we got up and set out a little after 8am for "The House on the Rock" which is about 60 miles southwest of Baraboo. We had passed this area several times and for many reasons never stopped for the tour of the "House". We traveled through beautiful farm country. There were areas of water laying in the fields from the recent floods. One little community, Spring Green, had large fields under water and we observed a road in the area that was still closed due to the flooding. We have been told that this area had a dam had broken that caused the massive flooding in that area. We came to a roadside scenic view that we could see the "House on the Rock" a distance away. The "House" was located back a long wooded road. We had been advised by some friends to plan on a full day and to take the full tour package which we did. There are 3 tours available, the full tour includes all 3 tours. The first tour is the actual House on the Rock which was built by Alex Jordan in the 1940's. The house is indeed built on a large 60 foot chimney rock. The 14th room of the house, the Infinity Room, projects out over the valley 218 feet and contains 3264 windows. Alex Jordan built this house as a weekend getaway but the uniqueness caused aroused curiosiy in ther people that Jordan finally opened it for the public. He was quite a collector. The other 2 tours were through rooms housing the large collections. Many types of music machines that purchased tokens could activate the music and animation. There were also collections of weapons, armor, doll houses, Oriental art, model ships and planes. There were 2 areas that food could be purchased. The newest area called Inspiration Point had quotes from famous people displayed throughout the dining room but the most observed spots were the restrooms. These restrooms were decorated and painted beautifully. After about 5 hours we made a return to the campground and had a night of thunderstorms.
Tuesday we made an early start, traveling about 300 miles to St. Cloud, Minnesota to a Newmar FMCA pre-Rally. There are 45 Newmar motorhomes at the pre-rally. The rally began Tuesday evening with a pizza dinner. After a continental breakfast on Wednesday, Tom and I went to Clemens and Munsinger Gardens nearby. The flowers were just beautiful. In the afternoon, we caravaned in cars to the New Flyer Bus manufacturers. New Flyers are the largest city bus manufactures in the country. They build both diesal and diesal-electric hybrid buses. It was a nice tour.
Thursday was a full day. After a breakfast a represented from the Newmar Corporation had a open forum. We then had a business meeting and dispursement of doorprizes. We got a nice pullover shirt that fortunately fits me better than Tom! In the afternoon we again caravaned in cars to St. John's University and Hill Library. Benedictine monastary is also located here. We were given a tour by a monk through the new church and the old church that is now used for social functions. From there we went to the Hill Library where a Bible is being hand written in calligraphy and beautiful illuminations done, the first Bible done this way since the invention of the printing press. This Bible is the St. John's Bible. Donald Jackson, a Welshman, is the master calligraper and illuminator of the project. Several completed pages were on displayed. Upon return to the campground we had dinner followed by entertainment by a couple, "Ron and Opal". A full day!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Our last few days in Illinois

Our week in Pine Country campground is about over. We have had a very relaxed week here. We've read a couple books and got some extra cleaning and minor repairs of the motorhome done. Thursday we had thunderstorms throughout the late afternoon and evening. The temperature cooled down to the upper 50's by Friday morning, great sleeping weather! We had to throw an extra blanket on towards morning.

Friday, the 4th of July, we went into Belvidere. Belvidere is called a city of murals because of the many murals painted on the sides of buildings throughout the town.

In a large cemetery within the town there is a small Frank Lloyd Wright chapel. The chapel was locked not allowing us to go in but we could see through the windows the furnishings and style of Wright's.

We then went to the city of Rockford about 15 miles west of Belvidere. There was very little activity for a holiday. We stopped at the Anderson Japanese Gardens and walked through the gardens. The paths through the gardens wind around ponds with the brightly colored Koi fish, some at least a yard long. There are many places to just sit and reflect on the beauty of the area. Most of the plants are non-flowering plants. It was worth the $6.oo admission. There is a restaurant and gift shop but we opted to eat elsewhere. We had seen a barbeque roadside restaurant going into Rockford so since it was the 4th we thought barbeque was a better fit for the day. We were not disappointed with pulled pork and brisket sandwiches.

Today, the 5th of July, is a day we celebrate because it is Travis' birthday and he is 11 years old. For his birthday we try to spend the day with him, he doesn't know this day from any other but we feel better being with him much of the day. The campground had various activites planned, one being an ice cream social so we got some ice cream and had a little party, just ice cream, no cake. Travis is quite an ice cream eater!

Travis also got a new toy- a little lamb that goes "baa,baaa,baa' (another one that he probably will not play with).
Tomorrow we are leaving Illinois and going to Wisconsin.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Rally Ends and We Move On

Time flies when you're having fun! it's been nearly a week since my last entry. We did not have internet access while at the fairgrounds in DuQuoin so I got a little behind. Thursday and Friday at the rally was much as the previous days, attending some seminars, checking out the vendors, conversing with other attendees and such. We did win a nice door prize, a $50.00 gift card to be used at Lowe's. The entertainment for this rally was not the best. For whatever reason, the Rivoli's had the corner on the entertainment. After performing on Monday, they again did a dance program on Thursday and a patriotic program on Friday. A little bit over kill! Thursday night about 10pm the town of DuQuoin showed their appreciation to us by driving the fire equipment with sirens blowing through the grounds. Four years ago, this rally was held in DuQuoin and this way of the town showing thanks was done then, so this time we were prepared for the noise. Friday afternoon an ice cream social was held followed by a business meeting. A farewell dinner was planned for Friday evening and we had intended to go but the weather dictated otherwise. A very threatening sky with thunder, lightning and rain caused us to stay in with our trembling little Travis and fix dinner in the motorhome. We had very little wind but later heard on the news that there were down trees and wind damage in the north sections of DuQuoin.

Saturday morning we left DuQuoin a little after 8 am and headed north about 200 miles to Kentuckiana Campground in Hopedale, Illinois. We came across this campground 4 years ago and made it a point to stop here again this year. Every Saturday night the Kentuckiana Opry is performed and is included with the camping fee but if reserved seating is desired there is an additional $1.oo per seat charge. For the most part the performers, which consists of 6 or 7 regulars and usually a guest performer, put on a good 2 hour show. On this Saturday, the guest performer, a local celebrity, had a family problem and was unable to be there. The show went on with the regulars doing some celebrity impersonations. One female performer dressed as Donny Osmond sang with her little daughter dressed as Marie. That little girl really hammed it up, rolling her eyes and sashaying around.
The other female performer donned a fake front and performed as Dolly Parton. I don't think we missed anything by the guest performer not being there!

Sunday morning we moved on farther north to Belvidere, Illinois to Pine Country Campground, an Outdoor World facility. We will be here for a week. We immediately noticed that there were lots of cut up trees around. We later learned that about 2 weeks ago a tornado touched down here causing this damage plus some RVs were damaged. The campground was closed for a week. The weather seems to be settled at the present time and, hopefully, will stay that way. Mosquitos are terrible here. We are advised to use insect repellent whenever outside but even that dosen't seem to hold off the attacks. Other than all those problems, this is a beautiful campground.

Monday, Tom and I went into Rockford. We wanted to go to Sam's Club to pick up a few things and then were going to eat lunch at Cheddar's restaurant. We found Sam's and picked everything but what we were looking for. We were told at a seminar at DuQuoin that Tang was a good treatment for the holding tanks (yes, Tang the drink of the astronauts) and that buying from a discount club store was the way to go. Well there was no Tang to be bought there. We found the Cheddar's restaurant but it had a notice on the door that it had been closed. So we looked for someplace else to eat. We noticed a building that looked like a farm supply store with a sign Machine Shed Restaurant and decided to give it a try. Machine Shed restaurants are located throughout this part of the country originating in Iowa. They have a real country appearence; the waitresses dress in bib overalls and red gingham shirts, drinking glasses are canning jars. The food was good with reasonable prices. The biggest temptation is the desserts; pies galore, multi-layer cakers and apple dumplings. We shared an apple dumpling served with cinnamon ice cream and can attest to it being delicious!

Tuesday we spent at the campground. We had some cleaning of the motorhome, inside and out , that needed to be done. After attending some seminars at DuQuoin on this topic we put into practice some tips that we learned. Tom got the grill out and we had steaks for dinner. The weather has been wonderful- low humidity, temps in the mid 80's and dropping into the low 60's at night and a gentle breeze much of the time. We've only used the A.C. when we left Travis behind as we went to Rockford on Monday.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Beginning of a New Adventure

A week ago, June 18,2008, we left Taneytown to start a new journey.  Traveling through the mountainous regions of Pennsylvania and Ohio, the skies were threatening rain most of the day but only had a few drops of rain.  Our first night was spent in Newton Falls, Ohio not far from the Pa./Ohio border at Ridge Ranch Campground.  Entering the campground the grounds were very attractive with ponds and green grassy areas but going back to the campground area was less attractive.  There were many permanent sites that were not well kept, the roads were gravel and our campsite had little grass.  When Tom attempted to raise the antenna he felt something hit the antenna and quickly pulled it back down, there were electric support wires strung throughout the campground that were low enough to prevent our antenna from being raised.  So we spent the night quietly reading!  It would have been more trouble than it was worth to complain and move to another site for one night.

The next day we traveled on west to Harrison Lake State Park in northwestern Ohio.  We would stay here from Thursday until Sunday.  Tom's sister and family lives just outside the state park which makes this a real convenient campground for visiting family.   Harrison Lake is a very pretty state park- well maintained campground and a nice lake.  The campground has 50 amp electric but no water or sewer hook-ups.  We had to replenish our water supply before setting up our campsite.  Friday we spent visiting and preparing for a family reunion that was being planned for Saturday.   After a trip to a grocery store and stop for lunch, I baked a cake and  made a salad.

Saturday the Phillips family assembled in a pavilion that had been rented for the reunion.  As always with this family there was food for an army.  As we were getting ready to eat the skies darkened, we had a brief shower, the temperature dropped to a cool jacket-needed temperature.  After eating, it really began to rain and the wind started blowing sweeping the rain through the pavilion.  At this point the food was gathered up and loaded into cars causing some to go home and the remainder to go to Tom's sister house for the rest of the day.  In spite of the weather, it was nice to be with relatives that we had not seen recently. The weather did clear up in the evening.

Sunday morning we were on the road by 7:10am.  We knew we had a long trip ahead of us to through Indiana to southern Illinois.  We were due to be in Du Quoin, Illinois on Monday morning between 7 &9am.  So we drove 364 miles to Lakewood Campground in Effingham, Illinois.  We arrived about 3:15pm which gave me time to get our dirty clothes washed before going to the Newmar International Rally in Du Quoin the next day.  Sometime doing the evening we realized that we had crossed into Central time giving us an extra hour.  We maintained our Eastern time schedule and when we got up at 5:15am(ET) on Monday morning it was really 4:15am(CT ).  By 5:00am(CT) we were on the road arriving at the state fairgrounds in DuQuoin by 7:10am.  We were parked and set up by 8am and then we ate our breakfast.  We do have 30amp electric and water but no sewer.

Monday was the first day of the rally but we were some of the last to arrive.  Early arrivals are allowed to come in as early as Saturday and the majority do arrive on Saturday and Sunday.  Since we knew we would be assigned a specific time slot to get in we knew we would not be able to get in before Monday.  We had hoped for a little later time slot than the 7-9am but we really have no choice in that.  We got registered and then chilled out in the afternoon.  The opening ceremonies that evening started the rally off.  During this ceremony flags from each state are carried into the assembly and displayed.  Tom and I had the honor of carrying the Maryland flag, of course, we were the only ones from Maryland in attendance.  Entertainment that evening was a couple, The Rivoli"s, that sang a variety of songs.

Tuesday started with a continental style of breakfast.  Then the seminars, display motorhomes/5th wheels and vendor were opened.  We checked out the vendor area and went through the new display units.  We were not impressed with the new units.  The number of vendors seems to be less than in previous years.  We each attended seminars of our choosing,  Tom more than me.  There always seem to be more technical seminars that are of more interest to Tom.  A dinner of baked chicken and rice with other sides was served in the evening.  The entertainment for this evening was a group of 4 brothers, The Marlins, that performed with a variety of instruments and singing.  Very entertaining!

Breakfast will be served every morning through Friday.  After breakfast on Wednesday, Tom and I attended a couple of seminars together and then went to the vendor area.  One of the seminars we had attended was about water softeners.  We know that we often get into areas of hard water which has caused some deposits in our shower stall so we decided to purchase a water softener system to use.  At lunchtime, George and Pat Callender picked us up and we went out to lunch at a local restaurant.  Another couple joined us also. After lunch we attended another seminar and then went back to the motorhome.   Since it has been increasingly warmer everyday ( upper 90's today) it fells good to get into the air conditioning.  The 30amp electric that we have here is good enough to handle 2 air conditioners as long as we don't run anything else on electric.  There was no dinner or entertainment scheduled for this evening so we ate in, took Travis for a walk and watched TV.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Weekend in Lancaster County, Pa.

Thursday, June 5, 2008 we traveled to Kinzer, Pa. for a weekend with the Traveling Americans. Kinzer is a small community in Lancaster County, the Amish area of Pa. The campground, Roamer's Retreat, was easy to locate along busy Route 30. The weekend for the T.A. group starts on Friday but like most of these weekends there are usually several that arrive a day or 2 earlier. So Thursday evening most of us that were on the premises arranged to go out to dinner together. Stolzfus Farm Restaurant was the chosen place because it looked to be relatively close and not on Route 30. Well, we indeed took the scenic route but eventually got to the restaurant. The meal was served family style- 3 meats, fried chicken, ham loaf and sausage with several sides and a variety of desserts for about $17.00. The food was good and too much was eaten but a good time was had by all. When we returned to the campground an Amish lady and her 2 children were going through the campground selling strawberry jam and strawberries. We bought the last quart of strawberries that they had and then enjoyed sharing with the other folks later that evening. The berries were really sweet and flavorful.

Friday in Lancaster County is the Green Dragon Market day and when we are in the area we usually have to go and this Friday was no exception. The big item was strawberries as they are now in season in the area. We bought some fresh produce. From that market we went to a commercial market called Smart Shoppers that we had read about in our local newspaper. It handles discontinued items or surplus items at a very reasonable price. We were pleasantly surprised at the neatness and cleanliness of this type of store. We bought items that we needed paying attention to the expiration dates. We lunched at the Oregon Pike Dairy restaurant. We chose not to go out for dinner, eating-in, instead.

Saturday morning started early for us. Tom had arranged as a Mother's Day present to me a hot air balloon ride for this morning along with Bruce and Cricket McGinnis. At 4:30am Tom had to call to check that the weather would allow for the ride that was scheduled for 6am. At 5:30am we left the campground and went to Bird-In-Hand, a town, to the field that the ascent would be done. Clouds were hanging low and as it became foggier the flight was delayed.

About 7am we along with the McGinnis' and their daughter and grandson decided to cross the road to a restaurant for breakfast. After eating and returning to the field the balloon was inflated and we were going to be on our way. The McGinnis' daughter and grandson were along to follow on the ground and to take pictures but our pilot said he had room and would allow them to go along. The daughter was thrilled, the grandson reluctantly came along.

We had 8 passengers plus the pilot on board, Tom and I, the McGinnis 4, the pilot's wife and a young man that was going to parachute frome the basket. It was not real clear out but was clearing as the time went on. Another smaller balloon also ascended shortly after our balloon and travelled a short distance with us.

Since we had a parachutist on board the pilot had to take the balloon up higher than usual to a little over 5000 feet- a mile high! When we got to that height the parachutist donned his parachute, climbed overboard and pushed off. It was breath taking to see that youngman falling toward the earth. He couldn't get that chute opened fast enough for me! We lost sight of him after his chute opened and he was sailing through the lower winds.

Our pilot took the basket down to 300-400 feet.

As we drifted along, we appreciated the neat and tidy Amish farmlands. Men with their horses were working fields, women and children were tending neatly planted gardens. It was a very relaxing, calm ride. The blast of the propane heaters felt very warm but after the initial heating of the balloon the blasts were short.
There is no control for where the balloon will travel, it all depends on the winds. A chase unit was observed keeping track of our travels.

It was important that our gondola landed near a road because of its size and weight and the pilot did not want to land in any field that could have crops damaged, an alfalfa field was good. Our landing occurred on the edge of a cornfield next to a road. The balloon actually had to be brought down across the roadway which stopped traffic briefly.

After getting the balloon and gondola loaded in the trailer we all loaded into a van and returned to our starting point for a toast with champagne and orange juice. A great trip!

Saturday afternoon we spent in the air-conditioned motorhome resting. For dinner we joined the other members of our group for a potluck meal. Afterwards we gathered around a campfire (heaven knows we didn't need the heat) socializing until the mosquitos drove us inside.
This morning again the group gathered for a potluck breakfast followed by a short meeting. Afterwards those of us returning home packed up and headed home. Several others decided to stay a day or 2 longer. Unfortunately, one gentleman developed some heart problems early Friday morning that landed him in the hospital for the entire weekend and was not to be released until Tuesday so his wife had to remain at the campground and others were staying to be with her.