Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sleeping Bear Dunes

After a rainy night we awoke this morning to a cold, damp day. The temperature was 53 degrees and stayed in the 60's all day. This area has the coldest temperatures in the lower 48 states according to the weather reports.

We spent the day touring about the area. We began at the Visitor Center in Empire. There was a 15 minute slide show about the Sleeping Bear dunes, a name that resulted from an Indian legend. A mother bear along with her 2 cubs were swimming across Lake Michigan. The mother bear made it across but the cubs drowned. The dune area was the mother bear laying on shore waiting for her cubs. The islands, North Manitou and South Manitou, are the 2 cubs that drowned.

We then drove to Glen Haven, a steamship stop dating back to the turn of the 20th century. An old cannery building had a display of old boats used on the Lake. A Maritime Museum displayed a fully restored U.S. Lifesaving Service station. A general store had souvenirs and what-use-to-be penny candy for sale. The blacksmith shop had a volunteer working as a smithy as he explained the business of blacksmith- as he talked he made a dipper with an iron handle and a copper ladle which I was able to have- a donation was appreciated but not required.
From Glen Haven

We got a bite of lunch in a little town of Glen Arbor. This seems to be the most active town in this area with several little shops and some restaurants.
After lunch we drove a little further to the north and hiked up to Pyramid Point.
From Glen Haven

The hike involved climbing a steep hill that brought us to a bluff overlooking the Manitou Islands and Lake Michigan. Even with the cloudiness of the day it was a pretty view.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Moving further north

This morning we departed Whispering Surf Campground and traveled about 100 miles further north to Empire, Michigan to stay at Sleeping Bear Campground. Our route of travel took us along the coastline of Lake Michigan. There were some areas of steep grades which was somewhat surprising to us. It has been cool today and rainy. Temperatures did not get above the mid 60's.
We plan to be here until Friday. Sleeping Bear National Park is in this area. Huge sand dunes are the main attraction for the park. We did take a drive around the immediate area this evening and look forward to seeing more the next several days.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Pentwater/ Ludington Areas

Whispering Surf Campground is located between the towns of Pentwater and Ludington along Bass Lake. It is also within walking distance of Lake Michigan which we did one morning. The walk took us along a road of homes on one side and private beaches on the other side.

We drove into Pentwater but did not spend much time there. It looked like a nice clean town with some unique appearing shops.

About 5 miles from the campground there is a huge reservoir that was constructed about 380 feet above Lake Michigan that is used for a power source. Water is pumped from the Lake at nighttime up to the reservoir and during the day water flows through turbines to produce power. To get to the area of the reservoir there is a long walkway at quite an incline. The reservoir can be observed from an observation pavilion but no one is allowed within the fenced enclosed area of the reservoir. From the area where cars are parked a short walk can be taken to an observation deck overlooking the power plant. It was a very interesting place to see.
From Ludington Reservoir and Power Plant

From Ludington Reservoir and Power Plant

Ludington a town about 10 miles north of the campground is located on Lake Michigan. A car ferry travels from here to Wisconsin across the Lake. One evening we watched the ferry come into port. The ferries are very large ships and we have been told that it is quite expensive. In the Harbor area there is an attractive community park that has several sculptures displayed.
From Ludington Sculptures and Car Ferry

From Ludington Sculptures and Car Ferry

We spent Sunday at Ludington State Park hiking several of the trails. It was a beautiful day for hiking temperatures were in the 70's and the sky was cloudless. The one trail was along the Sable River and then we had to climb up a long set of stairs to the top of the dunes.
From Ludington State Park

From Ludington State Park

Another trail took us around Lost Lake and across to an island.
From Ludington State Park

It was a very enjoyable day. We had taken a picnic lunch and stopped between trails to eat.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Grand Haven, Michigan

Leaving Holland, Michigan we traveled north about 25 miles to Grand Haven. Tom had reserved campsites at the state park for 2 nights. This reservation system is one of the worst. Tom called and spoke with someone about reserving a site for 2 nights and was informed that they only could accommodate us for Wednesday night so he said okay we'd stay that night. Tom later checked the website and found that there were indeed sites available for Thursday night so he arranged for that site. Since sites are assigned when making reservations we had to change sites on Thursday which is a pain. The state park/campground is located on Lake Michigan at the Grand River. The campsites are electric hook-ups only, no water or sewer. The sites are extremely close together and small. In order for us to have the motorhome and car within the boundries of our site we had to keep our steps retracted when not used and carefully open the doors of the motorhome and the car so we wouldn't hit the other vehicle. The cost of the sites were $27.00 plus an $8.00 reservation fee so we paid $35.00 a night for these terrible sites.
From Grand Haven, Mi

Grand Haven is a clean and pretty town referred to as "Coast Guard City". There is a 2.5 mile walkway from the state park along the Grand River with shops and restaurants. Every night throughout the summer a musical fountain displays dancing water to a variety of music for about a half hour. On Wednesday evening we walked the walkway to the area of the musical fountain and sat watching the parade of people on the walkway and the parade of boats on the water returning from the day on the lake. A little after 10pm the sun had finally set and the fountain show started. It was an enjoyable evening.
From Grand Haven, Mi

From Grand Haven, Mi

Thursday we drove around the area and stopped at a Culver's for lunch- yum-butterburgers and frozen custard! We went to the harbor and walked around the shops that were there. One little shop sold soft pretzels and Tom and I decided to get one to share. After getting the pretzel I asked if they had mustard and was told that mustard would be an additional $.63 after we had paid $3.00 for the pretzel. We enjoyed the pretzel without mustard! After stopping at a Meijer's (a Super Wal-Mart type store) for a few groceries we returned to the campground. We again walked the walkway along the river but did not stay for the fountain show.

This morning we left Grand Haven for Pentwater, Michigan about 60 miles further north. We are staying at Whispering Surf campground with full hook-ups and more room for our car and motorhome. This campground was established in 1913 as a choir boys camp and then as an American plan family resort. This is the oldest campground in Michigan. It is a little rustic but we feel we have a little more breathing room than the previous state park campground.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Western Michigan

After the family reunion on Saturday we left Sunday morning for Holland, Mi.  We have not been along the western part of Michigan and felt this would be a good time to see it.

We are staying in the Dutch Treat Campground between Zeeland and Holland, Mi.  There was a sign at the office to go find a campsite and register with them in the morning, so we entered the campground to find a site.  They must have forgotten to take down the sign as someone on a bike had us drive back to the office to register.  They had been busy dealing with some flooding issues caused by runoff from the property next to the campground.

Friday night this area of Michigan was hit with heavy rains and winds.  One report said that Holland received four inches of rain in one hour.  The after effects could be seen in various areas when we drove around.

On Monday morning we drove into Holland and stopped in the visitor's center to get information about the area and points of interest to see.  The downtown area was very clean and neat with most of the stores occupied with businesses.

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The street lamp posts have banners that depict Dutch works of art and there are sculptures at various locations around the town.

We drove out to Lake Mactawa and Holland State Park. 

After spending sometime looking around at Holland State Park, we went to the Dutch Village.


Calling this place a tourist trap would be right on.  There is also a second place called Windmill Village which falls into the same category. 

After hearing so much about Holland Michigan, the Tulips and so forth we thought we would see more of Dutch influence in the area.  Holland is a nice enough looking place, but it was a disappointment overall and not worth recommending unless your here for the Tulip Festival in early May.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Family Reunion

On Saturday, June 2oth members of my family got together at my sister's home outside of Fayette, Ohio for a family reunion.  They have a swimming pool and rented a moon bounce, so there were activities to keep the kids busy so the adults could visit.

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It was a very warm day so the decision was made to eat inside instead of under the canopies setup in the yard and driveway.  Many of us gathered around the kitchen table to eat and talk.

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As with most family reunions, we spent time catching up on what has been going on in our lives since we last saw each other.  We even spent time talking about persons that were not there and shared what information we had about them.

Like most family functions, there was too much food to be eaten, but we did our best.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Off to the Family Reunion

This morning we finished loading the motorhome and left a little after 8 am. It was a very good day for traveling. The sun was not too bright and we did not run into very much rain along the way.

Last year we got an EZ-Pass to use when traveling toll roads. It still feels like we are running thru the toll booths without paying. The Ohio Turnpike is behind the times and is still using the ticket only method. Later this year they are going to install the EZ-Pass equipment. We'll see if that happens.

We stopped for gas at the first service plaza in Ohio. They were having problems with the gas pumps not staying online, so we were unable to fill the gas tank. We decided to go to the planned campground stop for the night and get gas at the next service plaza which is only 15 miles from where we get back on the turnpike.

We are just off of exit 209 at the Ridge Ranch Campground. We have stopped here twice before on our way to Fayette, Ohio. At our age, it is far enough to drive for one day.

They have free wi-fi at the office, but not back in the campground sites. I purchased a Jefa Tech Wi-Fi Repeater and an external antenna after the problem we had at Ocean Waves Campground with Wi-Fi service. I first tried the repeater with the small inside antenna, but was not successful in getting a signal. Next, I setup the external antenna and kept my fingers crossed when I fired up the repeater and the laptop. I went thru the setup steps to survey for wi-fi hotspots and sure enough, there was Ridge Ranch Campground's wi-fi signal. I made the necessary changes to the configuration and we were able to get on the internet from the motorhome.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sunday Visit

We drove to our son's house in Stafford, Va. Beth's aunt and uncle and two of their grandchildren were also there. Todd cooked burgers on the grill for everyone. Beth made Mac and cheese. Beth's aunt brought potato salad and a veggie tray. We just brought appetites.

After eating we went over to their boat and spent several hours there. Todd replaced a blige pump and the kids had a blast swimmming.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Concrete Gets Hard

This morning the concrete truck showed up, but no crew. About 20 minutes later, the concrete crew arrived and go to work.

It appeared that the concrete work was progressing with the owner doing most of the finishing work. Next came the stamps for the pattern layout. The front poarch and walkway was stamped with the design and a portion of the back walkway was also completed. The concrete in the back is in direct sun and was setting up faster than the crew could work it.

Now they have to breakup the length of walkway that does not have the pattern stamped into it, re-pour with fresh concrete and stamp the pattern in it. We feel bad as this means lost time and money for the contractor.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A River Runs Thru It.....

Last evening the skies opened up and it really poured. We closed the fried chicken stand and came home around 8:30. Boy what a mess we walked into. Rainwater was leaking into the basement under the basement door.

AS Leah wrote, we are having our walkways replaced and where they had dug out formed a riverbed that lead directly to the basement door. We broke out the wet/dry vac and a mop and bucket and did our best to cleanup the wet mess.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

A Weekend in Paradise - Stream!

Last Thursday we left Taneytown and headed for the hills of Pennsylvannia. And the hills we went over- wow! The scenery was just beautiful even for a cloudy day. From Gettysburg to Carlisle we went through rolling hills of fruit orchards. From Carlisle to Loysville we traveled over mountains with steep grades and lots of curves. The views were spectacular even if the ride was more thrilling than we really like in a motorhome. But safely we arrived at Paradise Stream Campground in one piece- even after missing the turn into the campground and in our attempt to turn around having to unhook the car from the motorhome.
Thursday remained overcast and gray but the rain held off until later in the night. We were one of 4 units from Traveling Americans camping group that had arrived a day early for the weekend campout. Drew and Marti Moehlau, the fulltimers in the club, were back east after a 2 year stint traveling around the west. It was good to see these friends looking so good.
Friday it rained all day. It was even hard getting Travis outside to do his thing. But there is something to be said for raindrops falling on the roof of an RV, it's almost as good as a tin roof. Paradise Stream campgound is in an area of Amish farms. The surrounding towns are small and offer few options for eating out. There is a small diner in Loysville that we ate lunch on Friday. The place was quite busy and the food not to bad at all. By 5pm most of the camping group had arrived so we assembled in a clubhouse along with another Good Sam group from Frederick to share appetizers. After topping the appetizers off with ice cream from the camp store our bellies were full.
Saturday morning we awoke to a beautiful clear sunny day. The camp hosts provided a continental breakfast and for dinner we had a pot luck meal again with the Frederick club. After dinner our group circled around a campfire for the evening.
Sunday, another gorgeous day, started with a pot luck breakfast. There is always such a variety of foods. Taking our time we broke up camp and headed towards home about noon. Going home we did travel a different route that did not have the curves as the one on Thursday.
Now this week is a busy time for us. The Taneytown Firemen's carnival is going on and Tom is busy helping at lunchtime and we both help in the evenings in the fried chicken stand. The motorhome needed to be serviced in preparation for our trip to the midwest next week so this morning it was taken to the local Ford dealer. Sure hope Ford stays in business, it is so convenient for our local Ford dealer to do service for us. We are having our walkways replaced with stamped concrete and this is the week that is being done. Not to mention that Travis had to go to the groomers today and I have 2 doctors appointments later this week. Have to get things done before going away for several weeks.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Windshield Repaired

This morning I took the motorhome to Frederick, Maryland the have the broken windshield repaired. They took my motorhome right into the shop as soon as I got there. Two hours later, I was on my way home with a new windshield on the passengers side.

From what I gathered, the shop's business is very slow. This means that there are not a lot of broken window problems or people just are not getting them fixed.

Now, I hope that we survive next year's Alaska trip without any windshield damage....