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.