Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Monday August 29, 2011-Elkhart Campground

I guess its getting to be the fall season up here. It was 54 degrees this morning and the quilt felt really good! Its amazing how snuggly the normally aloof dogs get when it gets cool. It warmed up soon and became a very nice day.

I didn't do a lot today but Stella worked on her client's taxes so she can be ready to send them in. I know that she later purged a lot of records and shredded three large sacks. Maybe she's actually working for the government.

I met some Heartland owners tonight that just came in. It is always interesting to meet new folks and tonight was no exception. John, a 4 year old Sundance owner, was initially upset with his cabinet doors swinging open and the coat closet door that broke on the way down here today. I suggested that he should be more upset at the condition of the roads that we all drive on that actually caused the problem, and he finally agreed that it was not the trailer's fault. He had another complaint about his sewer "leak" when he takes the cap off. I showed him how to solve this problem with an exterior valve, so he left in a much better frame of mind.

Bob has a brand new Landmark Key Largo that he bought at the Good Sam rally in Redmond Oregon. He is very satisfied with his trailer but had some problems with his satellite installer. We traded stories about RV service men and had a nice chat. He is having the Mor-Ryde independent suspension and disk brakes installed on Thursday and Friday. I told him of our treatment at their shop when we visited some friends there. They offered to buy our lunch even though we weren't buying anything from them. They buy all customers their lunch while they are waiting for the work to be done, which is a class act. We were very impressed and I told Bob to expect the same.

Jim and Linda came by and we soon went back to our place and sat outside and had some long talks about our travels and since they are just starting out, they were very interested. Linda has written down several of our suggestions for parks and routes. We sat outside until it got chilly and all turned in for the night.

So long.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Sunday August 28, 2011-Elkhart Campground

I really feel bad....NOT....about telling you it was 56 degrees here this morning and that I had to cover up with a blankie again. This park is very quiet but the guests turn over quickly. There are a lot of folks that come here to buy their trailers in Elkhart and use this park for their "shakedown" experiences. This would be a great place to have a good size rally. They have a 5000 square foot building but the hall not large enough to handle 200+ people, so even though the park will hold over 250 rigs of all sizes, the meeting areas are too small.

We didn't do a lot during the day today but I did go out in the evening to wash the truck. I have felt bad about keeping it clean and finally took the time to clean it up. One of the Heartland owners in the park came by and we started talking and I didn't get the clean-up finished. One side looks better!

Our good friends Dan and Karen got to Goshen this afternoon from the Michigan rally. He wants to get the new suspension that he just had installed at Lippert and has an appointment for Monday morning. They called when they arrived and we made a "date" to meet them at the Ryan's restaurant here in Elkhart for supper. Although the restaurant ran out of meats a couple of times, we still had a fine time with our friends. They came over here for coffee after supper and we sat outside with them until it cooled off and they decided to go home. Its hard work to take everything down to move, then drive a few hundred miles and then set it all back up again, so Dan was tired. I know how he felt.

So long.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Saturday August 27, 2011-Elkhart Campground

Not too much to report from Elkhart today. I won't say too much more about the nice weather we have had. We decided to stay home and enjoy being back in the trailer, so we slept late and just hung out all day. We had a late breakfast and I got to watch my car shows on television again. It was a good morning!

Stella washed up our clothes and I managed to keep my recliner from flying away. Then the sandman came to visit me, so it was a good morning. We are also thankful that football is back, so we watched pre-season football in the afternoon. When our friends Jim and Linda came back, we sat out with them all evening until about 9 o'clock when the skeeters got too bad for all of us. They are new to RV'ing, so its fun for us to help them out.

We are keeping an eye on Hurricane Irene and feeling sorry for all our friends that live in her path. We remember too well the problems that hurricanes can bring and are very thankful that we will not have to do it again. Good luck to all of you!

So long.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Friday August 26, 2011-Moving day-Jameson Inn to Elkhart Campground

Today came none too soon! We are so ready to leave the hotel and get back into our home. There was some confusion over when the fellow from Lippert was to come to RV Capitol to bring them some heavy bolts and to do some welding, so the guys at RVC went ahead with the welding. To make a long story short, we waited all afternoon for the work to be completed alongside the RVC shop, which was not completed until after 5. I don't know if it would have been done if we hadn't been there but we got 'er done, got hooked up and came on back to the campground. It's so nice to be back home!

After getting everything set back up, I walked around the park for a bit. I met Dave and his wife Judy and briefly spoke to Jim and Linda, our new friends from the RV show. I had a nice visit with them before it was time to take Stella to the local Dairy Queen for supper. Remember when we were kids and it was a BIG DEAL to go out to eat? Even to the DQ for a burger was a major deal. It's amazing how much we have changed.

I am sooooo glad my teen years are over! We sat next to a group of 15-16 year old kids and they are so silly, even goofy. I might like to return to my 30's but not much earlier. Teen age is out of the question. Sorry for that little rant.

Again, we are so glad to be back in our trailer!

So long.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Thursday August 25, 2011-Jameson Inn

We were expecting to be back in our trailer today, at least for the weekend. After eating breakfast, we went to Jim Fenner's office at Heartland. Jim is coordinating things for us, since his shop had begun the repairs to the trailer. We were also looking for some help on the price negotiations from him too. After making our pitch for help to him, we listened as he learned that the trailer was not ready, the gray water tank had not been installed yet. Jim said we could still sleep in it and that they will finish it up on Friday so we can have a nice weekend. When we got there, we learned that there is limited electricity service at their shop, no water and no sewer, so we decided to go back to our hotel room. Now we're really bummed! I had left a few things in our site at the Elkhart Campground, so we went back over there to check on it and to looking longingly at the people having a nice time living in their RV's.

While driving through, we saw our new friends Jim and Linda. They have just bought a Bighorn and are beginning their adventures. We stopped by to chat with them for awhile and they told us of a place in Middlebury that sells great barbecue ribs. That is one of Stella's favorites, so before long, guess where we were going? Yep, to the little town of Middlebury to buy two racks of ribs, one for us and the other for Jim and Linda. It was pretty easy to find, just look for a lot of cars and trucks parked around a tiny little meat market. There is very little better than a meat market that sells smoked meats and bacon. It made me hungry to just walk in the door. We were soon on our way back to Elkhart with our supper. We dropped Jim and Linda's off at their rig at the campground and came on back to our cell at the hotel. Let me tell you, those ribs were great! If you're in the neighborhood, go by the Hoosier Meat Market in Middlebury on Thursdays for the ribs. They're worth the trip.

We were expecting a call from Jim about the trailer but he didn't call. He has assured us that our trailer will be back together tomorrow so we can have it for the weekend, but I wish he'd call and tell us it's ready to go. Here's hoping that tomorrow we get the call.

So long.

Wednesday August 24, 2011-Jameson Inn

We woke this morning and went down to the common area here at the hotel and had our continental breakfast. They have a decent selection of cereals, muffins, and make-your-own waffles and its a great way to start the day. And best of all, its free if you're staying here.

We'd rather be back in our trailer of course, but we're wondering if that's going to happen. The damage to the trailer was worse than we had all expected, so we spent most of today negotiating with Rob Reid, owner of Great Lakes RV/RV Capitol to buy a new trailer. This is actually harder than buying a truck, and it took a week of looking and negotiating to buy the Dodge. I hope it doesn't take that long to buy another trailer.

We went back to La Hacienda this evening for a quick meal tonight. I am glad we found this place because its almost like being back in Houston with the quality of their Mexican food. We really enjoyed ourselves and apparently the word is getting out because the place was packed tonight.

This is going to be a short entry today. We hope our friends along the east coast have some good luck with hurricane Irene. We remember well the days of preparing for a hurricane and are very glad its not us this time.

So long.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tuesday August 23, 2011-Jameson Inn

Today was a slow day for us and I want to take a little time away from my normal blogging to talk about the recent death of my niece Wendy Dean. Wendy was my sister Bobbye Sue's oldest child. She and my daughter Jennifer were near the same age.
Sunday night my brother Phil called me with the bad news that Wendy had been killed in a traffic accident. As I told you on that day's post, I made the notifications to members of my family and put up a post on Facebook. Bobbye Sue and I were two years apart in school and have many friends from Ball High school in Galveston, so this was the best way to get the word out.

Although it is tragic that Wendy lost her life, it just served as a reminder to my kids that we all need to stay in touch better. We have all said at one time or another, "the only time the family gets together is at weddings or funerals" and that is so true. The girls and I have talked more this week than we have this entire year, and that isn't enough. We have begun to make plans to do a get-together in the fall after we return to Spring, our winter home. I hope that we can stick with this plan because you never know when an accident will occur. Its a shame that it took something like this to bring us back together.

Not much to tell about today. The trailer is still in the shop but the new tank is being delivered this afternoon. We are waiting on the Lippert welders to do their thing on the front frame damage. Hopefully it will be ready tomorrow.

So long.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Monday August 22, 2011-Moving day-Elkhart Campground to Jameson Inn

We were up early this morning to take the trailer to RV Capitol (RVC) for repairs to be made to the leaking gray water tank and to have the front end flex checked by Heartland and Lippert. We left just about 8 o'clock to go the three miles to the shop. We dropped it off and went to eat breakfast.

We came back to the Elkhart Campground where we parked under a tree and read for awhile. After an hour or so, we decided to drive back over to RVC to check on the trailer. When we arrived, they had moved our trailer across the street and had removed the underbelly cover, which was water-soaked. They found the problem was that the tank had split at the corner, allowing water to seep out. We were told that the parts had been ordered, so since we would not be able to take the trailer, we packed up our essentials and went to the Jameson Inn where RVC has a discount plan in place. We took advantage of the plan and got a very nice room, which includes a free breakfast. We were soon settled in but were soon stir-crazy. Stella needed a part for her convection oven so we called Mid West Marketing, supplier of the oven to Heartland. They had the part that we needed in stock, so we went to South Bend, about 15 miles away, and picked it up. The nice lady that Stella had talked to left the part with our name on it. See, something good did come out of this...

We returned to RVC and learned that the parts should be here tomorrow. I also learned that the Lippert welder had not come over, so their work had not been done yet so we were pretty bummed. I'm sure that it will all work out but we're frustrated.

We went to the grocery store and bought some things to take back to the room for supper. We have a refrigerator and microwave in the room, so at least we wouldn't have to eat out every meal. We took our groceries home and fixed our supper. It had been a long day but we had gotten some things done, so overall it was a good day.

So long.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sunday August 21, 2011-Elkhart Campground

We woke to cool temperatures but no more rain this morning. It had rained off and on all night but the weather was cool and nice this morning. We ate a good breakfast at home and I watched my car shows on television, so everything is slowly getting back to normal.

We went back over to the Midwest RV Show at the civic center about noon, when it opened. We lucked out when we got to the gate because the man noticed our Heartland badges and thought we worked for the company and let us in for free. Works for me!!

We talked to a lot of people today and several seemed interested in buying, but we didn't follow up on that. By the time we got through around five, we were both hurting in our back, knees and feet. Its hard to stand and walk for five hours on concrete when you're not used to it.

We were bot starving and very thirsty when we left the center, and decided to eat mexican food tonight, knowing that these Midwesterners don't know good mexican food. Stella randomly picked La Hacienda and the food was very good. We were surprised but honestly, they could have served us a piece of cardboard with cheese and salsa on it and we would have liked it. I think I drank three glasses of iced tea and one glass of water to quench my thirst.

About nine o'clock I got a call from my brother Phil. The news was very bad. Our niece, Wendy Dean was involved in an automobile accident in Bryan TX and did not survive. Phil didn't have any details on the wreck but I later learned that she had been driving northbound on SH 6 when she left the roadway and swerved back onto the road where she lost control and overturned several times. Although she was wearing a seat belt, she was partially ejected and died at the scene. I called the family and gave them the bad news but since I didn't have any details, there are lots of questions. When I learn more, I will share with you.

So long.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Saturday August 20, 2011-Moving day-Elkhart County fairgrounds to Elkhart Campground

We woke pretty early this morning but there was no rush because we're only going 16 miles! We ate breakfast and started taking things down a little after 8. I didn't do too much visiting with the neighbors today and worked pretty steadily. I had to take the steps and porch down too, which further slowed me, but we actually pulled out about 10:15. As I said, we only had about 16 miles to go, so we were at the Elkhart Campground about 10:30.

We got set up here and I took care of all the outside stuff. I didn't have to reset the porch and steps because we will be taking the trailer to RV Capitol for a repair to the leaking water tanks on Monday and we don't want to leave that behind while we're gone. Since we hadn't had full hookups at the fairground, I had to dump and clean the holding tanks. Not too bad a job, but time consuming. I had everything set up and connected before noon and came inside and drank a cup of coffee and rested up. I had been talking to a lady named Dee on the RV-Dreams chat line for awhile and had read that they are in this area. I sent her a message and we agreed to meet her, her husband Jim and some friends of theirs that are also RV-Dreamers for dinner tonight.

We went to the Elkhart Civic center where they held the Mid-West RV Show to help at the RV Capitol booth. We talked to the Rob Reed, the owner of the dealership and told him that we were there to help. He remembered me from the Heartland rally and tried (again) to sell me a trailer. I managed to get out without spending any money or buying anything. It had started to rain and I had gotten cold but we went inside one of the trailers and spoke with several people that were browsing around in the trailers. Traffic was pretty light at the show, so we left about 4 o'clock to meet Jim and Dee and their friends Hank and Selene.

We met them at the Middlebury Hills restaurant in Middlebury IN. Hank and Selene are thinking of going full time in about a year and Jim and Dee are full time in their Carriage fifth wheel. We had a great time visiting with them and spent almost 4 hours sitting in the restaurant. We had a cute young waitress named Lisa Marie who was very spunky. When we tried to hassle her, she threw it right back at us and we all had a good time with her. It was good to meet them and we hope that we can meet them again sometime. Who knows when our paths may cross again.

So long.

Friday August 19, 2011-Elkhart County fairgrounds

This morning was our last "job" for this rally when we served the Amish casserole breakfast. This was a very filling mix of potatoes, eggs and cheese that was pretty tasty. The food serving went very well again and I must say I was very surprised at the ease of serving so many people. They only served breakfast from 7:30 until 8:30, so many of the attendees weren't up yet or didn't come down for breakfast. We finished serving and ate our own portions before going back home.

I was waiting for a call from the Cummins representative because I had been told that they could plug into the onboard diagnostics to learn if there were any legal ways to increase the power of my engine or increase the fuel mileage port, but when the tech finally came over after 11 o'clock, he went to work but soon told me that everything was hidden by Dodge. He said that Dodge entered into a contract with Cummins that did not allow the Cummins techs any way to change the engine parameters or increase anything. In fact, he said mine was more hidden than others that he has looked at here. Very disappointing!

We took another group to Heartland for a factory tour. Since I had just gone yesterday, there was little more for me to learn, but I enjoyed watching the others as they learned the process of building a trailer. Today's group was actually larger than yesterday's but some went to another plant and did not come with our group. We did see some new and very beautiful Big Country trailers with a new beige color with darker brown accent stripes. Wish I was in the market for one of these!

We finished up and hurried back to the park for the last meal, a huge potluck. Imagine over 300 trailers that each brought a dish to the potluck. Yep, it was mind boggling! There was plenty of food for even the biggest eater and most of it was eaten! I went back to get some dessert for Stella and I and I was amazed at the amount of food that was gone.

Tonight's entertainment was a group called Sweet Adelines River Bend Chorus. This is an all-woman singing group that did a very hokey "murder mystery" that was set to music. The music was some old classics and they did a great job. This was almost as enjoyable as the barbershop quartet group earlier in the week.

We came home and Stella began her preparations to leave tomorrow. The rally began badly but improved over the week and we had a pretty good time. Jerry even talked to me about the possibility of coming to work with them but we'll see how that works out. It was flattering to be offered but I don't know if anything will turn up over it.

So long.

Thursday August 18, 2011-Elkhart County fairgrounds

We have met most of our neighbors that are here for this rally. We were very late in signing up and had to take a non full hookup site, but its near the rally hall, which helps Stella since she has a hard time walking long distances.

There were many gripes and complaints about yesterday's "breakfast" so we decided to have coffee at our site for our neighbors and anyone else that dropped by. I also set out some Heartland brochures and of course, the guys began talking about trailers. We had a nice time sitting out in the cool morning air drinking coffee and chatting with our new friends.

Stella and I went over the vendor area to browse around. We were surprised to see some of the same people that we had seen at the Heartland rally in June. We didn't buy anything but did talk about some more of the LED light bulbs. We'll try to get some before the end of the rally.

We led a good group of people over to the Heartland factory for a tour. We ended up with 14 folks with another group of 6-8 from the rally that showed up on their own. We split up into two groups and I think everyone enjoyed the tour. We are planning another tour group tomorrow, so we should be pretty good on the Heartland factory at the end of this week.

We stopped at Ryan's Steakhouse for our supper. It was pretty quick and we were both very hungry since we hadn't eaten since breakfast and we needed to get back to the park for an ice cream social that we were to serve as one more of our volunteer duties. We returned to the park but the ice cream had already been served. People had started coming in early and they had started serving early, so by the time we got there, everyone was done. We got a couple of bowls if ice cream for ourselves but before we could eat it, we were called to the stage to participate in a "Newlywed Game". Six couples were called to play and to answer questions about our husbands/wives. It was a lot of fun and I got to sing! One of the questions was "What song does your husband like to sing?" and both Stella and I answered "Hey Good Lookin'. Jerry, the emcee, just happened to have that one in his repertoire of songs on his computer and I was asked to sing a short bit of it. Luckily I remembered the words, having sung this song many times when we did karaoke, and I got a nice round of applause. I enjoyed it!

We came back home and sat outside for awhile and met another of our neighbors, Stan. Stan does the Sky-Med program and will be doing a seminar on it tomorrow. Sky-Med is a company that furnishes emergency medical transportation to people like us that travel a lot. Not only do they supple transportation to a victim but to their spouse and will also take their RV and pets to a location that they choose. It's a good program and I think we will buy it. We sat outside with Stan until the skeeters ran us back home but I think we got some good information. Its what these rallies are all about!

So long.

Wednesday August 17, 2011-Elkhart County Fairgrounds

This morning was supposed to have begun with coffee and donuts that were supplied by an RV store that was supporting the rally and displaying some trailers here. There was evidently a large mixup on the amounts of coffee and donuts needed because by the time we got there, about 8:30, most of the coffee in the rally hall was gone or cold and all the donuts were gone. Not Good! There were two coffee pots outside near the trailers that were being watched over by two of the lady volunteers, but after running out of everything, they were frustrated and very short and snippy with everyone. We went back home and finished our coffee there and vowed that everything would get better.

All of the seminars have been shuffled. There was not enough room in the original area, so all were moved around. One seminar on engine performance was cancelled due to the death of the couple's daughter that was to have put on the seminar, and vendor at the rally. I went to a seminar put on by the Cummins Crosspoint, the Cummins engine support company for the midwest but was a bit disappointed that the seminar was more for motorhomes than trucks, but it was still informative.

We served the meal in the evening, which was our assignment for the rally. The serving went very well and we got over 600 people served in less than 30 minutes. We had roast beef with baked potatoes and green beans but we ran out of baked potatoes. Almost everyone got a potato except us servers, but I didn't really need one anyway. I learned that when we ran out of mashed potatoes last night, there were actually a couple of pans that had been overlooked or not brought over to us. I also learned that they had taken the leftover food to one of the local churches. It's good to know that they are sharing with others.

The entertainment tonight was the South Bend-Mishawaka Valleyaires, an a-capella barbershop chorus. They are very good, and I have always loved the harmonies and sounds of the barbershop quartets that I have listened to.

The rally has been somewhat chaotic and we have run out of some food but seems to be improving some. I hope it continues because this is a great location for rallies.

So long.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tuesday August 16, 2011-Elkhart County Fairgrounds

Today is the official arrival day for this rally, so we expected a run on people at the registration counter. Stella volunteered to man our table to sign people up for the Heartland factory tour while I went to Wakarusa, about 20 miles away, to have my cell phone worked on at the Apple store.

When I got to the Apple store, I was first very impressed with the technology in the store's team attitude. The young woman that greeted me and got my name and email address, which was fed into her very small hand-held computer. Of course, as soon as I told her what was wrong and tried to demonstrate that my phone wouldn't come on, it worked. Well, not perfect, but it did work.

I later learned that an email had been sent to me, confirming my appointment. I soon spoke with one of the techs, who immediately began to take my phone apart and then peered into the ports, using a device much like something seen in a doctor's office to look into your ears. He declared that my phone had not been damaged when the coffee cup overturned on top of it, but he could see some oxidation inside and suggested that I might like to trade mine in on a newer model. When we bought this phone,we bought the insurance plan for it, so when it does go out, I will use that to replace it.

I returned to the park and learned that not too many people had come in today but Stella had signed up a few more. We ended up with 16 coming on Thursday and four on Friday. There are still a couple more people that have said they may come, so these numbers aren't too bad considering we had no advertising or even signs for the tour. We knocked off about 3 o'clock because no one had come in for awhile, so we went home to rest up for our food serving tonight.

We have signed on the volunteer and have been assigned to serve food. We went in way early this evening and got our instructions for what was expected to do and then stood around for 30 minutes or so until they started delivering the food. The instructions were very confusing but we got things worked out and got the food out to the people without incident. Once we got into the rhythm of serving, it went pretty well. The people in charge need some improvement, but the meal went off without a hitch.

We didn't get to watch too much of the entertainment because as soon as we had eaten, we went back into the serving area and started to clean up. When we got done, we returned to listen to the end of Don Tersini, who put on a pretty good show. He is an impressionist that does good imitations of several famous people and was the winner of Ed McMahon's Next Big Star. Here is a short video of his winning performance.

After the show, we returned home and sat outside. Our next door neighbor came over to visit and we had a very nice chat with him. He is here to sell the Sky Med service that we will look into for ourselves. We will go to his seminar and make our decision. I'll let you know what we decide.

So long.

Monday August 15, 2011-Elkhart County Fairgrounds

It is still delightfully cool in the morning here in Goshen IN but the daytime temps only get into the mid 80's. I woke early, as usual, and had to cover with one of the blankets to keep warm in the living room.

We have a full day planned for today. First of all, I have to take my I-Phone to the AT&T store to see about a repair or replacement. Then we want to come back here to hang around the registration booth to invite people to go to a factory tour at Heartland. We got the phone taken care of first, but it wasn't a happy ending to it. The young man at the store took one look at what was happening with the phone and immediately sent us to an Apple store in Wakarusa. After a short discussion with him over the insurance we had bought with this phone, we got the info on the store's location and left. We went by the Heartland factory but our contact person was out of the office. We did pick up some brochures and came on back to Goshen. We returned to the park and learned that there was space for us near the golf registration, so I sat there with some brochures and my pad and ended up signing about 8 couples up. Not too bad for a low-traffic spot with no advertising. I talked to several other people that may come back and sign up. Time will tell...

We came back and sat outside for a couple of hours before the skeeters ran us back inside. The weather is very nice and we have a nice shady spot. I took a short walk around the park and stopped to talk to the couple that is in the site we were in at the Heartland rally. They are from Michigan and are having a min-reunion at the rally with one of his high school friends. I told him to take good care of our site because we'll be back there in a couple of years.

So long.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sunday August 14, 2011-Moving day-Country Roads RV Park to Elkhart County Fairgrounds, Goshen Indiana

We got an early start for getting ready to leave this morning because we need to be in Goshen by 3:30 for a meeting at the fairgrounds. We actually pulled out a little after eight o'clock after any hugs and handshakes. These Wisconsin people are very friendly!

We made very good time down the freeways until we got to Chicago. About 20 miles out, we ran into road construction. Even though there was no one working today, the mere signs on the road caused traffic to back up and even stop in a few areas. There were signs before the construction area directing trucks into the left lane. When we tried to move over, several cars darted in front of us so THEY could get into the left lane, leaving the right lane open for a long time, until these same people decided that the signs must have been right and darted across the center lane that was being resurfaced and had cones put up to try to keep cars out. It was dangerous when they did this because of the drop in the center lane that was in preparation for the new pavement that will be put down. I had already been warned about the drivers in Chicago, but this was way outside of the city!

When we got to the outskirts of Chi-town, I my GPS friend was silent and we missed a turn-off and ended up downtown. Big Mistake! I still listened to my GPS and took an exit off the freeway, thinking he was going to direct me around the big traffic back-up (he had a delay sign on the screen-first time this feature had worked) so I took it. He directed me to take a couple of turns that I questioned but did anyway and before I knew it, there I was, in a RV'er's biggest nightmare, staring at a low bridge a block away! I swerved off onto a side street with several finger gestures pointed my way. I guess many of these people had never seen a very pretty large trailer in their neighborhood.

We were soon out of our nightmare tour of downtown Chicago and back on the freeway. I hadn't gone very far when I saw the welcome sign of Indiana-next exit. Thank goodness! My GPS was still squawking "Recalculating" so I gave him a time out to think about his mistakes and turned him off. It was much easier and less stressful to just figure out where we were the old fashioned way with a map and watching the signs to decide which exit to take than to listen to the incessant squalling of this machine. I guess he was indeed embarrassed because when he had served his time and I turned him back on, he was much quieter and didn't miss another turn.

We ran through rain much of the afternoon, just enough to badly soil my clean truck and trailer, but we were again on the open road and making good time. Incidentally, I got some good mileage on this trip. Most of the way was over 11 mpg, so there were some good things happening. We made it into Goshen without any further problems and to the fairgrounds. We pulled in and got assigned to a site-grassy, with 30 amp electricity, water and nothing else. I shouldn't complain I guess because I barely got signed up before the rally starts.

We are volunteering at this rally and took jobs serving food. We missed the volunteers meeting and didn't have a chance to request the jobs that we really wanted, but these will do. I met Jerry, one of the coordinators of the rally and got everything worked out to have some Heartland participation here, and then went back to the trailer and finished getting everything set up.

We were tired when we got home and when all the work was done, we had a cup of coffee outside. It was very pleasant sitting outside. We have evening shade in our site and it was very cool tonight. We met another couple from Texas who are also volunteering and had a nice visit with them. We will be interested to see how many Texans we will see here. So far, only one. Most of the people will arrive tomorrow, so hope things will change.

So long.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Saturday August 13, 2011-Country Roads RV park

We woke this morning to heavy rain and cool temps. I made a big pot of coffee outside this morning at our house because our friends Ray and Lin were making breakfast for everyone at the rally in the pavilion and I wanted to be sure that there was enough coffee for everyone. We didn't need it after all, so Stella and I had plenty to drink.

I went over to Dan and Karen's trailer and helped her get started on her blog that she decided to start writing. I'll be interested to see what Karen will write. Its gratifying to me to have others start a blog because of reading mine. We later rode with Dan and Karen over to a nearby town-Baraboo-where we got a quick lunch at the Dairy Queen.

The Village of Lake Delton has an interesting past. The tiny town of Delton was turned into Lake Delton after a developer built a man-made lake that now brings in an estimated one billion dollars to the economy of the village and of course, to the state.

In 2008, the lake went completely dry when heavy rains washed out a portion of a county road, which gave the lake waters a channel and the entire lake was drained and three homes washed away and two more were destroyed when their foundations were damaged by the outflow of the water. The Wisconsin governor announced that the state would repair the lake because it was "vital" to the billion dollar tourism area and the lake was re-filled. During the time that the lake was drained, some of the local residents organized a "clean the lake bottom" which resulted in the removal of four (4) twenty cubic yard dumpsters with trash from the lake bed.

We returned to the park and relaxed until time for the potluck dinner. As usual, there was plenty of good food and great camadary among this group of friends, who are very friendly. Although we already had several friends in this chapter, we made even more and had a great weekend. I wish we didn't have to rush off early in the morning, but we have to go to Goshen IN for the Passport America rally. Tomorrow promises to be a long day.

So long.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday August 12, 2011-Country Roads RV & Motorhome Park

It was cool this morning again, about 56 degrees! Today was the first official day of the Wisconsin chapter rally and we had all decided to go to a local place named Denny's Family Restaurant. We had originally planned to go at 9AM but later thought that if we all went in at the same time, it would probably overwhelm the staff, so we went a few at a time. We all had a delicious breakfast and lots of good conversation.

We returned home and relaxed around here until around noon, several of us decided to go over to the Fawn Creek Winery nearby. About four truck loads of Heartlanders sampled the wines and several bought a bottle or two. We all had a good time and best of all, didn't spend a lot of money.

The official festivities began with a wine and cheese "meet and greet" that was sponsored by Dave and his wife Mary. Stella fixed some of her "fire crackers" and boy, were they well received! Several people asked about the recipe and there were only crumbs left. I was proud of myself for not eating any of them before the party.

Another chapter member named Paul had agreed to fix pizza on an open campfire. Man, were they good! Of course with 50 or more people being fed, it took a long time to get everyone served. It had threatened rain all day, and about halfway through the second pizza, it began to rain and we had to take the party into the covered pavilion. We ended up sitting around and visiting while we munched on pizza and had a great time. It was a nice way to end the first day of the rally.

So long.

Thursday August 11, 2011-Moving day-Kewaunee RV Village to Country Roads Motorhome & RV Park

We woke to another cool morning today and had our coffee before starting to get ready to leave today. There wasn't that much for me to do, so I waited until after 8 to get started. We got everything folded up and put away and pulled out a little before 10. We stopped in the town of Kewaunee and picked up some breakfast sandwiches to eat on the road and took off. The only thing that came up on the trip was that the GPS again lost his way but after a couple of "recalculatings" he again found us and we continued on our way. It did this the other day when we entered Wisconsin. He showed us off the road, in green areas, but after a few miles, he got it all straightened out and we came on in.

The only other problem that we had was some road construction and a long detour in Ripon WI. It led us about 30 miles out of the way, but we managed to follow the signs and made it back to the main road with about a 45 minute delay. The Wisconsin Dells are a cross between Branson MO and Pigeon Forge TN. There are several blocks of tourist-trap shops and stores along the main drag through town. We would have chosen another route into town had we known, but we negotiated the traffic without any problem and pulled in about 2:30.

Since we got the last available site in the park, we are apart from the main group of trailers that are here for the rally, but we're also right across the street from the covered pavilion where the activities will take place. Several of our friends dropped by to say hi and we had some good visiting with them. Later, twelve of us went to the Pizza Pub for supper. The food was good but nothing special but the prices were a little high we thought. Too many tourists make the prices to up. We had a nice meal with old and new friends and came back to the park where we had a veery nice campfire in the community area for large groups. Every site has a fire ring
but it was a lot more fun to sit with the group and visit. The party started breaking up about 9:30 and I believe everyone had a nice time. We're looking forward to a good time here in Wisconsin.

So long.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wednesday August 10, 2011-Kewaunee RV Village

Today was our first morning in this park, and buddy, let me tell you, it was cold here this morning! The thermometer showed 56 degrees but it felt colder than that. I put my sweats on and was comfortable.

We ate breakfast here at home and just hung out here. I played around with the Dish antenna and finally got it set in the right spot, getting a good signal. I noticed again that I was not getting the HD channels, so I called Dish network for help. The tech that I talked to walked me through resetting the receiver and we finally got a good signal. Its nice to get good television reception again.

This afternoon we went over to Green Bay Wis. to the legendary Lambeau Field. this field was first built on this site in 1957 and originally named City Stadium but renamed in 1965 in memory of Curly Lambeau, a former Packers founder, player, and long-time head coach. The stadium has been remodeled and enlarged several times, with the last time being in 2003 when it was expanded to a capacity of 73,128 fans. Incidentally, the original cost of the stadium was $960,000 which was paid off in 1978 and the latest remodel cost $295 million.

The Packer fans are another interesting story. We noticed that most of the people in the stadium today wore Packer shirts, caps or other team support gear. I guess its a good thing that I didn't wear my Houston Texans shirt or Stella didn't wear her Dallas Cowboy gear.

Demand for season tickets remain high: season tickets have been sold out since 1960 with 81,000 names are on the waiting list. Don't hold your breath for tickets even though you're on the waiting list. The reported average waiting time for tickets is about 30 years.

In 2007, Lambeau field was voted the #1 stadium in game-day atmosphere and in 2009 the Sports Turf Management Assoc. named it the Field of the Year.

Probably their best-known coach, Vince Lombardi.

Curly Lambeau, namesake of the stadium.

We enjoyed this short trip over to Green Bay. We returned to the park but along the way, we stopped and filled up both tanks of the truck with fuel. Although most of our mileage was towing the trailer, the average was 14.1 mpg. It is still fun to watch the faces of these young people in stations after we fill up and the total is over $300. They often wonder what kind of truck we're driving. Guess its one of those things that you have to be there to see.

So long.

Tuesday August 9, 2011-Moving day-Dan and Karen's house to Kewaunee RV Village

I woke pretty early and went over and had coffee with Dan one more time. We went out a little before 8 to get started with hooking up and actually pulled out of his driveway about 8:50! We followed them to Escanoba where we stopped for breakfast. They have been there many times before and know one of the waitresses, so we all had a good time while we ate.

We got back on the road and made a pit stop at one of the closed-down Wisconsin rest areas just across the border in Merrinett. Dan and Karen are going to visit a friend for a couple of days and we will be going to Kewaunee WI, which is near Green Bay WI. We are all going to the Wisconsin rally on Thursday. We drove down here along Green Bay, which is a bay of Lake Michigan. The bay is huge! I always thought the Packers played in a town that was named for a small little lake or bay and didn't know it was a huge body of water.

We got here about 2 o'clock and got all checked in and set up by 3. This is a nice quiet little park and much cooler. When the sun went down, we had to close the windows of the trailer because it got so cold. We've had trouble getting our dish to work because we haven't used it too much lately but I'll give them a call tomorrow and get it straightened out. We have decent over-the-air reception for the local channels but the main thing on last night was the recall elections for some state senators that had irritated the voters when they couldn't reach an agreement with each other over the state budget.

I turned in early and slept like a rock in the cool air. I don't know why we specified a 50 amp service here since we haven't turned the a/c on yet. Hope we didn't have to pay extra for it!

So long.

Monday August 8, 2011-Dan and Karen's house-Limestone MI

I got up this morning, our last full day here at Dan and Karen's place, and went to their house for coffee with Dan, as I've been doing every day that we've been here. I intended to take photos of the place and didn't do it. Guess I was too busy...

Karen was going to visit her Red Hat ladies today and Dan was going to work on his trailer to get it ready to leave tomorrow, so Stella and I decided to drive in to Munising to have a more reliable telephone signal. We have AT & T phones and the service out here SUCKS!!! There is better service in the larger cities but none out here in the country.

We drove in and got a good signal at first, but it seemed like every time I went around a block, I lost my signal. I finally found a good signal that I could keep out alongside the bay overlooking the tour boats. I made some calls to finalize the Passport America rally and Heartland's involvement and went to the Falling Rock Cafe and bookstore where we had coffee. There was a nice menu of muffins and sandwiches and Stella finally gave in and had an ice cream cone, but I was a good boy and only had coffee. This is an interesting place with lots of books, both hard back and paper that you can borrow, trade or buy, places for quiet conversation and a good Internet connection. It's a very popular place in the little town of Munising.

We stopped off at the only large grocery store in town and picked up a few things for supper tonight. Stella is fixing a soup and cornbread for supper tonight. We came back home and rested up for the afternoon and went over for supper tonight. We had a nice visit with Dan and Karen after supper and turned in around ten o'clock. We were all tired but excited about leaving in the morning.

So long.

Sunday August 7, 2011-Dan and Karen's house-Limestone MI

Sunday morning Dan and Karen fixed a big breakfast for us. We had planned to leave their home this morning and they wanted to send us off with our bellies full, but we decided to stay here for a couple more days. That decision was made because we had intended to go to Sault Ste. Marie where we had a nice back-in site on the river where we could have watched the boats and relaxed. We had planned to cross into Canada for a day trip but the down-side to that trip was that we have made plans to go to a Wisconsin Heartland chapter rally, so we would have had to backtrack to Sault and then return to Wisconsin, a distance of 250 miles total. Let's see, drive 250 miles to "relax" (how much more relaxed can we get?) or stay here with friends? Made our decision much easier.

When we got through with the delicious breakfast, Dan wanted to get his trailer washed up for the trip to the WI rally and I did too, so we both broke out our washing equipment and got to work. Stella and Karen decided to drive over to Marquette to the Wal Mart store while Dan and I worked on the trailers. We got busy and were just finishing up when the girls got back from the store. We all went home for awhile to rest because this evening we were going to the Kewadin Casino for supper.

It was a nice drive through the forest to Christmas Michigan, just outside Munising, to the casino for supper. We were all surprised that we hadn't seen much wildlife since we've been here, only a few deer. No moose or bear, although this is certainly the country for them. We had a nice supper at the casino restaurant and then the three of them went to make their donations to the Indian's slot machines while I played on my I-Phone. The bad thing was, there is no cell phone service here and no free wifi in the casino, so I didn't have much to do. It didn't take long for them to lose their money, so they joined me outside where I had found some cell service available. Stella came out about $8.00 ahead, so we took our loot and headed back to Dan and Karen's house. We were all tired when we got home and turned in pretty soon.

Dan and Karen are great hosts and we have really enjoyed ourselves here. We have made so many friends in our RV'ing adventures but Dan and Karen will always be special to us.

So long.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Saturday August 6, 2011-Dan and Karen's house continued

This was the second thing we did today. Dan and Karen had told us about the junk yard that they wanted us to see and we were just about to give up on it when we found it. It is in the tiny township of Chocolay, which is just south of Marquette Michigan.

The story is that a man named Tom Lakenen that has built a drive-thru sculpture garden on his property. He is a welder by trade and when he found himself with time on his hands after he quit drinking, he began to build figures on his property. Apparently the township council took offense and Tom was ticketed many times for various infractions. The story is that he was contacted by a local attorney who agreed to take his case in defense of his right to express himself and won. If you care to read more about this, begin HERE. Apparently there is a little-known law that allows for a land patent on property to prevent trespass and investigation of violations on his property. I haven't checked into all the aspects of this case, but I applaud him for standing up to the government and winning. He has named his property Lakenenland and does not charge for entry onto it, although he does take donations.

More photos of his sculpture can be found HERE.

Click on the photo to enlarge.

All of his work is done with scrap or junk metal.

Some of it is kind of disturbing.

In the dark, I might take a shot at this thing.

flying saucer

Pink airplane

An owl in a nest made of metal with a metal fish carcass on the rocks below.


Large metal spider

Metal sunflowers.

Man on an old big-wheel bicycle

A cowboy chasing a blue bird.

Tribute to the United States.

Slot machine.

Stainless steel lion/tiger

Railing against corporate greed.

Notice what the pig is doing to the American worker?

Even some bowling ball art.

A tribute to September 11, 2001. It is difficult to see in this picture, but it is a scrapyard replica of the twin towers.

A weird figure on a motorcycle going through a flaming hoop.

A scrapyard snow motorcycle.

Scrapyard tractor pulling large log.

A cute climbing apparatus for the kids. No, I didn't climb on it!

A scrapyard metal dogsled team.

A weird three-wheeled motorcycle/helicopter. This guy has quite an imagination!

Two huge lumberjacks sawing a huge log.

Another huge logger with his axe.

Apparently Tom was not on the property today so I didn't get to meet him. I am in awe of his imagination and skill as a fabricator and welder.

I thought you might be interested in this place. If you are ever in the UP near Marquette, stop in and look. This was not even half of the photos that I took. I hope you enjoyed them.

So long.

Saturday August 6, 2011-Dan and Karen's house-Limestone MI

Today we went on a boat tour of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. It consists of beautiful colored sandstone rocks along the shore of Lake Superior, near Munising Michigan. The sandstone has been formed into various shapes,shallow caves, natural arches and colors. Some take the shape of animals and faces. The U.S Congress made this the first officially-designated National Lakeshore in 1966.

I think this one looks like an old sailing ship. Notice the clear water below. The water of Lake Superior is the cleanest and clearest of the five Great Lakes.

Lake Superior holds more water than is contained in all four of the other lakes combined. We were told that if Lake Superior were drained and the water put into a bathtub, the water depth would be five feet and the tub the size of the United States. Now that's a LOT of water!

The colors in the rocks are caused by large amounts of minerals in the rocks.

Streaks in the rocks are caused by groundwater leaching out of the rocks. With it come irons (red), manganese (black and white), limonite (yellow and brown), copper (pinks and green) and other minerals. As the water evaporates, these minerals leave streaks of color.

Many rock "faces" have fallen over the years making interesting formations.

I love the contrast between the colors in the rocks and the water.

This is a large concentration of colors with a large rock pile below it.

We enjoyed the boat ride, which was very pleasant. The sun was warm but there was a very nice breeze and the weather was moderate with temperatures in the mid 70's today. I don't mean to rub it in, but I think we made a good decision to visit Michigan this summer.

So long.