Monday, June 29, 2015

Michigan and Beyond!

A few days before we left Michigan, we met the couple who were staying in the site next to ours, Jim & Peggy and their cute like Chihuahua named Pippy.  We would have met them sooner if not for all that rain and the mosquitoes!  Jim invited them over for coffee and cake one night, and we went to their RV a couple days later.  Peggy asked us if we had been to Hell yet.  I said isn't that where we are now?  She laughed and said there is a place called Hell about 18 miles away, and we should visit there before we leave Michigan.  When the rain let up on Saturday, we drove over there, and it was a hoot!!! 

I bought a shot glass and sent some post cards out from there.  We also got a dish of ice cream while we were there.  Then we drove back to the campground and our furry kids!  We were of course glad to come back from Hell!
Sunday we left Michigan and drove into Ohio.  Back in March we joined an organization called Harvest Hosts.  I believe the membership costs $44.00/year, if anyone wants to join.  As members, we can dry camp one night for free, but they want campers to buy something from the Host business.  The drive there turned out to be quite an adventure due to serious road flooding on Ohio Highway 2.

 It was heart breaking to see this house half under water.  We
saw these guys paddling their boat next to the house.  The third picture is the road ahead of us.  I was nervous, but we made it through.  As soon as possible,we stopped to check the car and make sure the brakes were OK.
We got settled and went in for a lovely wine tasting.   It cost $3.00 for us to taste 6 wines, so we each had three.  Then we decided to have a bottle of Asti Spumonte and a cheese platter, with crackers and sliced beef stick.  We also bought some bottles to take with us for gifts......maybe.  We got a little silly, but I think it was just what we needed after all the stress of our stay in Michigan.  It wasn't easy getting up to travel this morning, but we only had about 125 miles to go, so it wan't too bad.  When we woke up this car was parked next to us.  I don't know if they thought we were zombies, but we're not!  We just felt like Zombies after last night.
Now we are in a Thousand Trails' Park in Jefferson, Ohio.  It seems like a lovely park, and we have a nice site, with good satellite and internet, and phone reception. 
This is the entrance to the RV Park.

 On th way here, I noticed several wineries nearby.  Maybe we'll have to visit one of them too.  I'll probably post again next week, after we see what there is to see around here.  Stay well, and keep the rubber side down wherever you go!
Enjoy America, the greatest land of all.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

June 24th, in Michigan

I'm sorry it took me so long to get back to writing, but things have been hectic, to say the least.  From Minnesota, we drove to a state forest park in Wisconsin, in Black River Falls.  The sites were small, and it was impossible to level the RV.  Also, there was a nest of hornets inside the electrical box, and Jim got stung before he even realized it.  The mosquitoes ate me up...........just like at Elk River in MN.  In the morning we left and moved south east to Jeffereson, WI to another campground in Passprt America group.  The park was nice enough, but very far from anything we needed.  Before getting there we stopped in DeForest to visit

 the Ehlenberg Cheese Chalet.  While in Jefferson, we drove over to Milwaukee and Jim toured the Miller Beer Brewery. 

The bronze eagle is out front with plaques honoring each branch of the US military services.  The wall picture is inside the visitor center.  I was not able to do the tour because it was a walking tour that included a climb of 95 steps up and back down.  Also, I stayed with Millie & Willie in the car with the windows open, after I visited the gift shop, of course.  I got Jim a few cute gifts, including a magnet that said "Wish you were beer!"  When we left there, we drove south though part of Illinois, many tolls and some really bad roads.........then we got into Indiana and saw some really, REALLY bad roads.  We made it to our destination, the Elks Lodge in Michigan City, IN. 
We saw this parked at the building next to the Elks lodge.  No comment needed.

 The folks there were great.  We had a nice dinner in the lodge and spent a quiet night dry camping outside, before coming to Michigan on Saturday.  We saw this sign as we drove past
Battle Creek, Michigan.

We are currently in a campground called Heartland Woods, in Stockbridge, MI.  It is located off I-94 and is east of Battle Creek, south of Lansing and west of Ann Arbor. 
These were taken here in this park.  I don't know what to make of the picture painted on the shed next to the RV.
Many of you know about our dear little dog Millie getting sick, so I won't go through the whole story again, but we extended our stay here for her to have a test she probably should not have had, and almost started her on a prescription she definitely did not need.  We will be leaving here on Sunday to visit and stay the night at Firelands Winery in Sandusky, Ohio, before moving on for nine days in Jefferson, Ohio at a Thousand Trails park there called Lake Kenisee.  This park would be nice except:  1) rain has left the roads rutted and wet, 2) there are so many trees that phone, internet and satellite signals are terrible, 3) the mosquitoes are REALLY terrible, 4) it's about 20 miles to EVERYTHING, and my internet jetpack chose to quit on me yesterday, so I am trying to use the campground's wifi, which has a very weak signal strength.  But the people here are very nice.  We had an electrical problem on Monday, and when Jim was outside trying to figure out what might be causing it, another camper stopped by to see what was wrong.  After Jim talked to him, he went to get a guy named Tom who found the problem and solved it in less than 5 minutes.  All the rough roads had shaken loose a switch that turns off all the batteries, for when one stores an RV for periods of non-use.  We, of course don't ever do that, so we didn't even think of that switch.  Now we know!  Today we woke up to a trail of water coming under the wall into the hallway from the shower.  We called out Darrin from Fix My RV in Shaftsburg.  He came right out and for a very reasonable price, he found and fixed the leak that was probably also caused by the rough roads.....a connection inside the wall had worked itself loose enough to leak.  To other RVers, if you are in need of service while in this part of Michigan, Darrin was prompt, courteous, efficient, reasonably priced and did not make a mess in the RV.  I would heartily recommend him to other campers.  Tomorrow, we are going to go to the Verizon store to see if we can get my Myfi repaired or replaced.  Have a grand day.  Thanks to ALL who prayed for Millie to get well, and thanks to God that she has recovered and is her smiley, playful little self again, as you can see. 

Keep the rubber side down, and enjoy America.
ps.  Thursday  note, there was nothing wrong with my Myfi jetpack.  It seems my surge protector, that we've had in steady use for about 18 years must have decided it should retire now.  We had been plugging the Myfi into it, and it was not getting a decent charge, so the battery inside just gave up!  When we took it to the Verizon store, they plugged it in to their power source, and it started right up.  They checked my cord and the plug, and both worked just fine.  SO we replaced our surge protector, and all is well.  Jim has mounted the surge protector on the wall next to where I sit to use the computer, and it's really nice to have it there instead of just laying on the seat next to me.  That's all for now folks.  We are well, the "canine kids" are fine, and we will be leaving here, as planned, on Sunday.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Today We Got to Wisconsin

Saturday night I called back to California to chat with a friend of mine.  Her husband answered her phone and told me she had passed away a few days ago.  I was in total shock!  All I can say is, please don't put off writing or calling friends and loved ones, because none of us knows how long anyone will be here for you to reach out to them.
Sunday morning we said our good byes to Mary and her two sweet dogs.  Then she headed west and we headed north.
We made a lunch stop at a place that calls itself the Largest Candy Store in Minnesota.  It was huge, and it was packed with people.  It wasn't cheap, but we bought a few items for our grandson, as we will see him next month when we get to New York state. 
Later we arrived at the Wapita Campground in Elk River, MN.  The park was.....nice, but the mosquitoes were really awful. 

This guy was in the RV Park, but he didn't give us any trouble.  LOL

We had my sister Judy over to our wheel estate for a nice lunch, and she got to meet our canine kids.  Later in the day, we took a picnic dinner of rotisserie chicken, salads and more to a park in the town of Princeton, where her son and his family joined us.  We ended up with 15 people!  It was wild, but his kids are VERY well behaved and have delightful manners.  Again, the mosquitoes ate me up.  We left the dogs in the RV because that many people (kids) would have been too much stress for Willie.  Millie would have loved it, but we couldn't take one and leave the other behind.  It was hectic and I never got a chance to take a picture of the whole group, but I did get one of Judy and one of her son, Dennis Paul.
I didn't recognize him as he has gone nearly bald!  He was also not quite as slender as we had remembered him.  It was really great to see them all, but since we are not used to rambunctious kids, it was also nice to get home to our little ones.  This morning we got packed up and began our trip east, ultimately on I-94 into Wisconsin.  To any of you who might be traveling through this area in the next couple years, please be aware that a major highway proect is under way in the St. Paul area, and travel is very limited, with detours, lanes AND exits were closed, and very slow traffic.  Had we known, we would have looked for an alternative route out of Minnesota!  This aftenoon we arrived at the Black River Falls State Campground.  We knew we would only have electricity, so we emptied the holding tanks and took on some extra fresh water, but we had no idea how bad the sites would be!  None of the sites are anywhere near level.  We pulled in and it looked like the RV would fall over on it's side.  We unhooked the car so Jim could try to reposition the RV to get as level as possible, but when we used the levelers, the back wheels on the passenger side were completely off the ground!  Jim had to put TWO leveling blocks under each wheel on that side so we would not be dangling in space!  When he went to hook up the electric, he got stung by a hornet that was nesting in the electrical box.  Since I am seriously allergic to stings of any kind, I will have to stay inside to be safe.  I told him that tomorrow when we leave here, we won't even take time to hook the car up for towing until we get to the gas station about a mile away!  The weather has been wonderful lately, but we sure wish we didn't have to contend with these darned mosquitoes!  Tomorrow we go into a park in Jefferson, WI for a two night stay.  Wish us luck!  Keep the rubber side down and stay well.  :o)

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Second Day in Minnesota

I forgot a couple pictures yesterday that were supposed to be
included, so I'll start with them.  The first was the Welcome to Minnesota sign along I-90.  The second sign was what we saw after we turned off I-90 to enter the town of Welcome.


We are staying at an RV Park called Checkers, and it is very nice place.  Today we set off to go to Austin to visit the Spam Museum.  On the way, we took a brief stop to see the town of Blue Earth, the home of the Jolly Green Giant.

Then we went on to Austin, only to find that the Spam Museum had closed last year.  They are "re-inventing" the museum, and it will re-open next spring.  They had moved the merchandise over to a temporary location inside the "Games People Play" Store, so we went there. 

Mary took the first picture in front of the store; we always liked Spammy! 

After we got home, we put the new Spam tee shirts on Willie & Millie for a family picture.  As you can see, we don't have a lot of hair left after the hair cuts we got on Thursday.  
Today is our last day with Mary.  We played Mexican Train this afternoon, and then had a nice dinner together.  She will head west, stopping once more in Sioux Falls to pick up some mail that had not arrived yet when we were there last week.  Then she will continue west until she reaches Idaho, Washington and Oregon to sell her crafts at Native   American Pow Wows.  We will meet up around October or November back in southern California.  As noted, we will go north to Wapiti Campground in Elk River, Minnesota to see my sister Judy, for a couple days before we begin our travels east through Wisconsin and beyond.  We hope to see many of you on our travels.   
Many of our friends have rescued pets, especially dogs from animal shelters.  Due to very tight budgets, many shelters are having to euthanize wonderful animals that could be delightful, loving pets.  I would like to ask you to consider opening your hearts, and your homes to a shelter dog or cat whenever possible.  Both of our dogs are rescue animals, and we couldn't find more loving wonderful pets anywhere else.  It's almost like they KNOW you saved their very lives, and they want to thank you for it every day.  I'm sure it is no coincidence that the word DOG is GOD reflected, because the love a dog gives you is like a reflection of God's love for us.  If you or someone you know is looking for a loving, canine or feline companion, please urge them to rescue a shelter animal, and please don't reject dogs of a certain breed, because many breeds have been given a "bad rap" that they don't deserve. 
Take care and stay well.  Bye for today.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Here We are in Minnesota

We left Topeka, Kansas on Tuesday, and spent that night at the Wal-Mart in Omaha, Nebraska.  I don't really mind dry camping, but that night it never cooled down at all.  We used the generator, and the air conditioners all evening, but we didn't want to run it all night, so we ended up sleeping on top of the bed.  We had a sandwich dinner at the Subway inside the store.  Later I dragged Jim back in for a haircut.  We both needed one as we had not gotten our hair cut since we were in Arizona back in February and he was getting really shaggy!  She did Jim first, and I had told her that he just wanted a TRIM.  She grabbed the clippers and ran it up the back of his head and left him almost bare.  Once she had done that, we couldn't have her leave the hair longer on the rest of it, so she just kept cutting.  She wanted to do his beard and mustache too, but we decided he would do that himself.  I almost chickened out on getting my hair cut, but I didn't want Jim to feel like I set him up, so I went ahead with my haircut.  Yikes, Millie and Willie have more hair than we do!  LOL.  Thank goodness we have a few weeks left before anybody will see us when we get to Horseheads for my 50th high school reunion!!!! 
From Omaha, we traveled along the edge of Iowa into South




Dakota, to an adorable campground called the Red Barn RV Park in the town of Tea.    I was wondering how the town got its name, and the story was written on the campground flyer, and it goes like this:
When the railroad line survey from Yankton to Sioux Falls was done, the village of Bryon was founded.  It was decided the village needed a post office, so the application was submitted.  But several other communities were also named Bryon, so the postal authorites asked for 10 short names from which one would be chosen.  Nine names were chosen, and they could not come up with a tenth.  Many residents were German, so the tradition of afternoon tea was important.  It was decided to break for tea, then someone suggested adding "Tea" to the list.  The postal authorities chose Tea, which was incorporated in 1902.  We thought this was an interesting story, and hope it will amuse you too.
We drove up to Sioux Falls to the new offices of Dakota Post, our mail forwarding service.  Here is the "boss" too, Dustin Strand.

We stayed two nights and got our driver's licenses renewed.  YAY!  The pictures on the licenses were not as bad as we had expected them to be.  LOL.  We had planned to continue north into North Dakota.  However, when we discovered it would be almost 300 miles to the destination we had planned to visit, we realized it would have to be a two day drive to get there.  That would have meant getting there, and after only one night we would have had to leave for Minnesota.  We prefer to limit our travel days to only about 175-185 miles so we can arrive early enough to set up and relax before making our dinner.  We decided it wasn't worth it this time, so we re-evaluated our trip and decided to travel east into southern Minnesota.  We will stay two days here, and tomorrow we will take Mary with us, by car, to the Spam Museum in Austin.  We were there back in 2010, but look forward to going back again.  I have to get Millie and Willie their own Spam tee shirts to match ours.   After we go there, I may make another short post about our visit to that museum.  Until we see you again, keep the rubber side down and enjoy America!   

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Safely out of Texas & Oklahoma

We left Texas on Thursday after being in the state for about
eight weeks.  It was, at times challenging.  To recap, we had to replace the car's dead battery in Van Horn, and had to have the RV towed into Odessa for an oil change (had the oil changed on the car too.)  We spent two nights in Baird, TX, then went to Bay Landing......a nice park but the roads in the park are just terrible.  Right after we left there, they got hit by massive storms and had tornado damage all through Runaway Bay and Bridgeport.  We spent 16 days at Lake Whitney and had to hide out due to tornadoes while we were there.  By the way, the roads inside the park there were also terrible!  Then we went to Lake Tawakoni.  While looking for a site to settle into, Mary tried to turn around and got stuck in the mud.  After numerous attempts to get her van out of the mud, it just got worse, and the park ranger sent someone over with a truck to pull her out of the ruts that had been created.  It rained most of the time we were there, so we watched the areas around our sites flood before we left there to go to  Lake Texoma, on the Oklahoma border.  The roads in this park were a little bit better, but parts of the park was also under water!  Two days before leaving Lake Texoma, we went to Don's Dixie BBQ for some real Texas BBQ food.  It was a hoot.  The place was quaint, and charming.  The food was great, and the servings were good.  I took a few pictures there too.

We have been in FOUR Thousand Trails Parks in Texas.  None had good roads inside the parks, and all had suffered rain damage or worse.  I am sorry for them, but it was no picnic for us either.  We are very grateful that God watched over us and kept us safe through all of this.  When we left on Thursday we headed north into OK.  We drove over Lake Texoma, and saw how high the water level is, and the flooded areas along the highway.

We spent Thursday night at the Elks lodge in Edmond, OK.
We had water and 50 amp electric hookups!  When we went
inside to pay for the sites, and have a cool drink, we found the members to be VERY nice.  Mary was having a problem with her air conditioner, and a man there called someone he knew who came over and fixed her A/C that night.  I won't say we got drunk, but somehow Mary and I got to drinking shots of Hot Damn, and we got pretty silly before we left!  We will definitely put that lodge on our list of good places to visit!
Friday morning we got back on the road fairly early, but we soon lost that advantage because Mary blew a tire on her utility trailer............even tore off the fender that covered it!  She called her insurance, Progressive, and they got help to her in about 30 minutes.........way better service than we got from Auto Club.  We arrived at the Elks Lodge in El Dorado, Kansas around 4 pm.  They had told us they had two sites with electric hookups only.  It turned out to be only 20 amps, which Mary was ok with, but since we need at least 30 amps,  we had to run our generator all evening and in the morning.  After the day we had all been through, we decided to try a new (new to us) place called Blaum's for dinner.  They were very reasonably priced, and offered quite a nice variety from salads, to burgers to chicken or steak dinners........and wonderful premium ice cream for sundaes and banana splits.  Jim had a fudge brownie sundae  and I had butter pecan ice cream with hot caramel topping.  Mary had a grilled chicken salad and no dessert.  She's got won't power!
We got a call that afternoon from the place we were scheduled to go to in Topeka, Kansas for the next 3 days.  She said the road was closed due to flooding, and it was still raining and her sites were all with standing water in them.  We decided not to go there, so we looked on the internet for an alternative.  They sure can make an awful place look good by selective picture taking......LOL.  This park we are in is not a good one.  The spaces are too close together, and because of excessive rain the ground is saturated, and there are ruts filled with muddy water.  BUT they have 50 amp electric and cable TV.  To make things easier for Jim, we just hooked up the bedroom TV to the cable, and he didn't have to try to find a dry spot he could put our satellite dish out in to try to find a signal............which would not have been easy since there are many trees shading EVERY site.

Jim and the "kids" were happy to be here, and ready to relax for a while.
Since Mary needed to go to Wal-Mart, I picked up a pizza for an easy dinner last night.  We saw an ad on TV for a restaurant called Spangles that also sounds interesting.  There is one nearby, so we went there for lunch today.  It turned out to be a 50's style restaurant.

The food and prices were OK, but we've
definitely had better.  Still it was fun with a nice atmosphere.
 Well, time to close for now.  Keep the rubber side down.  Have a grand time, and enjoy America, the greatest country in the world.