Thursday, July 31, 2014

Wednesday July 30, 2014-Moving day-Soo Locks Campground to Dan and Karen's house

We slept in this morning mostly because it was cold but also because we don't have very far to go, only about 125 miles or so. Since the outside chores were pretty small, I helped Stella a bit in getting thing ready to stow away for travel and didn't even go outside until about 8:30. My work was soon done and we were ready to go to the dump station about 10. Not a bad morning;s work.

We only made one short pit stop at a small rest area, just west of Newberry. It was a neat little place and I wish now I'd taken a picture of it but I didn't. Bad on me...!

We got to Dan and Karen's house about 12:45 but they hadn't returned from a doctor's appointment for Dan. We got backed in and set up and just as I got out the lawn chairs, they drove up. After hugs and handshakes, Dan and I got started on cleaning out one of his sheds for transportation to Tennessee, where they will likely move to. They sold their house quicker than they expected to, and now they have orchestrated this closing on the house and the move-out with a Wisconsin rally squeezed in between just so, and they don't have much time to waste. Most of the stuff in the shed is stuff that the movers won't handle, propane bottles, aerosol paint cans, other chemicals and many loose tools like yard tools. He has some pretty large and heavy tools and one VERY heavy granite stone that came from Karen's grandfather's farm.He originally used the stone to tie his horses to and that thing has got to weigh more than a thousand pounds! Dan and I tried to pick it up and couldn't but neighbor Ron will be coming over later and we can move it then.

I used Dan's large air compressor to blow out my clogged-up water lines and made some progress, but it's still not fully functional. Dan came in to lend a hand which caused us to get behind on the moving. A short but heavy rain shower stopped us again and Ron arrived, so back to work we went. We worked until almost 7, when we filled the small U-Haul trailer that Dan had gotten and we stopped for supper. 

Stella and Karen got all the fixin's ready and Dan grilled up some burgers and we had a very good meal. We sat outside on their screened-in patio and chatted until almost 10, when we turned in. It was cold again here, but it made for good sleeping. 

Dan and Karen are leaving for Tennessee to drop off their load and will be back on Sunday. Hey, want to have a party while they're gone? Just like when we were teenagers...Come on over!

So long.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Saturday Juy 26, 2014-Soo Locks campground, Sault Ste Marie MI

It was cool again this morning, though not as cool as it has been for the past few days. It rained a couple of times during the night and it began again around 9AM. It rained really hard several times, knocking out the television reception with very loud thunder and lots of lightning. For a short time it hailed quarter size nuggets but we suffered no damage. 

We stayed inside, dry and cozy until the rain stopped about mid afternoon. We had planned to go to The Antlers restaurant this afternoon. We have been there before and we were not disappointed. Check out the link for some cool pictures of the trophies in the restaurant. After eating, we went to the local grocery store (high priced!) and bought the essentials and came on back home, just ahead of more rain. It has been dreary and rainy evening, so it's a good time to stay inside.

Happy Birthday Kim!

So long.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday July 25, 2014-Soo Locks Campground, Sault Ste Marie MI

As I said, we haven't been doing much since we've been here except hanging out and watching the big ships go by. The funny thing is, they're so big but they make no noise at all! If they didn't blow their horn when approaching, we'd miss them completely. Amazing...

I went into "town" Thursday and ran down some Munzees. There aren't too many here and I got all of them. There were two or three across the river on the Canadian side but I'll get them tomorrow when we venture over. I came back home and relaxed and sat outside watching the ships and boats go by. 

today, Friday, we decided to drive over the bridge into Sault Ste Marie, Ontario. Not being familiar with Canada, I thought we would have another Province to add to our states visited map and didn't realize that both Sarnia- where we had gone a few days ago with Ted and Donna- and Sault Ste Marie are both in Ontario. Bummer!

Driving across the bridge. This is another beautiful bridge, like the Blue Water Highway bridge into Sarnia.

 It takes a lot of maintenance to keep these bridges open and operating, so we were not surprised to see a construction crew working.

The rapids near the Soo Locks. 

I couldn't believe how swift this river runs. Wouldn't want to fall in there! 

This is part of the iron ore handling facility. They unload many 1000 foot iron ore boats every day here and then transport the ore to a smelting plant for processing.

On our way back to the USA! 

A big ship that has been unloaded on its way back through the locks.  

Lots of folks going into the United States. At least we had a better experience with crossing today. No third degree interrogation from the Canadian border guard, no search of the truck and a very friendly American that checked us back in. 

We had lunch at the Dockside Restaurant, a trendy and pretty expensive restaurant right on the river. It was a beautiful day and we ate on the outside patio, enjoying our meal. Great! We certainly couldn't have done this if we were still in Texas!

So long.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Tuesday July 22, 2014-Moving Day-Addison Oaks county park to Soo Locks Campground, Sault Ste Marie MI

Both us and Ted and Donna left Addison Oaks this morning. they had further to go, so they left their site a little after 8, but we shot for leaving between 9 and 9:30 and we hit it exactly! After a stop at the dump station and a quick fill-up with air in our hitch, we were off. 

We made good time and only made one scheduled stop at a rest stop for Munzees and a bathroom break for all of us. We have been to this stop before because there was only one Munzee here that didn't belong to me and I had already capped it, so my break was very fast. Stella and the doggies didn't take long and off we went again. A fellow that I talked to said he had heard that Mackinac City was being hammered with rain and hail, and sure enough, when we neared town, we hit some pretty heavy rain. There was a small rest stop just outside of town and we pulled in to check on the weather, since we didn't want to get into any hail. After about 10 minutes, the rain seemed to slack up and we were again on our way.

The "Big Mack" (Mackinac) bridge, out the front window of the truck. 

The bridge is beautiful, but because of the rainstorm and winds, we were advised by the radio announcer to limit our speed to 20 mph since we are a high profile vehicle. The going wasn't too bad and I never felt threatened. 

Here we are in our site. If you look across the river behind us, that is Canada.

This shot was taken outside, right under the picture window from the living room, but it gives you an idea of our view outside. I wish we had been in one of the riverfront sites, but this one isn't bad.

You can see the back of my chair, and see what I see when I sit outside reading. The weather has been very nice, with our warmest day being today with a temp of 87. It has been down into the low 50's every night. 

 The International bridge into Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, Canada. We plan on going over for lunch one day before we leave.

One of the huge 1000' iron ore boats going toward the locks.  

A small US Coast Guard Zodiac boats on patrol on the fiver. 

The Coast Guard boat and one of the Soo Lock tour boats. I tried to get the back end of the big ship, but the Zodiac was scooting right along and I couldn't get all three in the picture.

The back of our trailer. I wish they would trim up the bushes behind us. It would make the place look better, but there's probably a good reason for not cutting it.

We took a ride around town to check things out. I noticed a large group of Border Patrol vehicles of all sorts parked behind fences. There were probably 30-40 vehicles, making me wonder why such a large number of people and vehicles are required at the Canadian border. Do they have that many illegals trying to get in up here? I don't know that I've ever heard of a Canadian "wetback". 

The only thing we are planning for our stay here is to watch the boats and visit Canada. I'll have to double check my truck for anything they frown on at a border crossing. Wish me luck.

So long.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Saturday July 19, 2014-Addison Oaks county park, Leonard MI

We have been sleeping so well with the cooler temperatures here. I've been sleeping until between 7:30 and 8, but a couple of times, I slept until 8:30! Stella has consistently been in bed until 9 or so. I've also been staying up until 11 or even later, but keep in mind that we are in the Eastern Time Zone and are an hour ahead.

We got some new pictures of Tyler in his Band letter jacket and his senior ring. It's hard to believe that my little boy is growing up! I still haven't figured out how to download pictures from my phone to my computer but when I do...

Ted and Donna went to their daughter Kara's wedding rehearsal yesterday and today is the wedding, so they left early this morning to get things ready for the big event. Stella and I slept in...

I decided to go over to Auburn Hills and the Oakland College campus to cap some Munzees because I had noticed a huge area of both Virtual and Mystery Virtual Munzees. I had my best single day of captures with 1,015 capped today. Not individual Munzees of course, but that many points! I am tired but happy this evening. 

Stella and I have been playing a game called Tryominoes, a fun game that is similar to dominoes. We have been playing it for years, but have played it again in the last couple of days. I won yesterday (of course) but she managed to squeak by me this evening. It's nice to be able to sit outside and play games. Of course, we could sit outside at home in Texas if we left the door open to the house with the a/c running and a couple of fans blowing on us. I miss the folks at home but not the weather.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Wednesday July 16, 2014-Addison Oaks county park, Leonard MI

We decided to ride over into Sarnia, Ontario Canada with Ted and Donna, across the Blue Highway bridge. We have not visited Canada before, so it was a new experience for us.

Getting close... 

This is both a toll booth and our first encounter with one of Canada's border guards. When questioned by the guard, Ted and I were both truthful about the questions about having guns, but we were also truthful about NOT having any with us. I don't know if this questioning is common and asked of everyone or if we were profiled because we are from Texas. We have walked into Mexico many times with no questions at all and we were very surprised this time. Ted said that when he crossed when they lived in Michigan, he was never asked. At any rate, we were flagged for a search of Ted's truck, but of course, nothing was found. These two Border Patrol officers were much friendlier and after the search, they offered suggestions for lunch locations. I wasn't really insulted or troubled by these people doing their jobs, but was somewhat surprised.

Past the checkpoint and on the bridge into Canada. 

The St. Clair river separating the United States and Canada. The river is a beautiful blue, hence the name the Blue Water bridge.

We went to a small park overlooking the river and looking back toward the US.

The Canadian flag and several Provincial and Tribal flags. 

While driving around Sarnia, we had a very nice view of the big bridge. 

Beautiful blue water. 

A closer view of the bridge. 

Lots of gulls and ducks. They apparently exist on handouts from visitors to the park.

We had lunch at a place named Stokes Bay Grille and Bar in Sarnia. The service was excellent but the food was just okay. Nothing special, but I must say that Donna was the only one of us that had "Canadian" food. We didn't really explore the city too much, hoping to avoid any traffic jams crossing the bridge.

Stella and I will cross the border into Canada again when we go to Sault Ste. Marie next week. I'm not sure if we will be in a different Province or not, so maybe a Canadian will see this and give me an answer.

We had an uneventful trip back, crossing the border into the United States with no drama. We stopped at a McDonald's for an ice cream cone, but otherwise, nothing else to report. We did see a couple of turkeys (wild) and a few deer.

So long.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Tuesday July 15, 2014-Addison Oaks county park, Leonard MI

It was rainy and cool this morning, but it stopped raining around 8. The dogs have been enjoying the cool weather and feel frisky when they go outside. Tramp especially loves it. He runs around to the end of his leash and really has a good time when I take him out.

Our friends Todd and Sue arrived right on time about 11AM. They had never seen our Landmark, so they were given the grand tour. We had a very nice visit with them, catching up on Caddo Lake NWR and all the people that we know there.

A little after noon, our friends Rex and Stacey arrived. Stacey's family lives in this area and they are on their way to see them and they decided to drop by for a visit. We all came inside after Rex pulled his truck pulling their Landmark over to the side of the road across the street from our site. We had a short visit and went into Rochester to the Red Knapp's restaurant for lunch. They serve old-time juicy hamburgers and some great malted milk shakes. We all ate until we were stuffed and had a good time. We returned home and Rex and Stacey left for the rest of their journey. The four of us tried to sit outside to continue our chat but rain clouds and some rain drops sent us back inside. They stayed over until about 5 before they left for home. We had a delightful time visiting and remembering our experiences at Caddo Lake. Perhaps we will be able to go back and stay there again. We'll work on that!

So long.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Sunday July 13, 2014-Addison Oaks county park-Leonard MI

We had a nice weekend here. The weather was nice, a little warmer than we like, but it cooled down in the evening. I just heard on the weather on television, that the month of July has an average high of 86 in Michigan. We had nice campfires (thank you Ted) and the park was pretty full. The "crowds" are really well behaved. The Sheriff's office makes routine patrols all the time, but they add horse patrols and also use golf carts on the weekend.

Ted and Donna went to visit some friends Friday night but returned Saturday evening. Stella and I went over to Troy for me to capture lots of Munzees for the triple Munzee Saturday. I got 467 points in just a few hours and had a good time. Gotta take advantage of extra point days!

While coming back to the truck, my phone rang and it was my friend Todd. Longtime readers might remember him and his wife Sue, who worked at the Caddo Lake National Wildlife Refuge with us three years ago. It was nice to talk to him again and we made arrangements for them to come over next Tuesday for a visit and some lunch. 
Todd and Sue standing in a kiosk that Todd and I built.

It rained all night Saturday night but the water had all drained off by the time we got up. The weather guessers have said it's going to cool off at night, down into the low 50's, but we'll... this will be our last full week here, and we'll be in the UP (Upper Peninsula) next week and it's always cooler there. Stay tuned...

So long.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Thursday July 10, 2014-Addison Oaks county park, Leonard MI

We have been just hanging out for the last couple of days. Stella and I went to the store and bought groceries for the first time in a couple of weeks, or I should say, Stella bought groceries and I capped Munzees in the parking lot. The groceries were needed and I had some fun capping all the Munzees in the two parking lots where we were.

Ted  invited me to go to his shooting club this morning where he shoots skeet. I have never done this and wanted to watch, and had a good time. Let me tell you, NEVER steal from a skeet shooter and expect to run away without getting shot. They seldom miss!

We came home and got cleaned up a bit and drove over to Frankenmuth MI for the afternoon. The girls did some shopping in the Birch Run outlet malls and I, well, guess what I did? Yep, capped Munzees in the parking lot! Ted and I did some shopping at the Coleman factory store but I couldn't find anything that I couldn't live without

After shopping, we went to Zehnder's for supper. They have a daily special of a family-style broasted chicken dinner with all the trimmings that is a good bargain. It includes soup, an appetizer spread bread, along with the main course. It is also listed as the number 1 tourist attraction in Michigan and it's easy to see why. The place was packed on a Thursday afternoon. I can only imagine what it's like on the weekend, or a special day like Mother's day.

After finishing our meal, we took a walk around the area, admiring the beautiful flowers and the grounds. It's really nice to see an entire city devoted to the look and presentation. Beautiful...

So long.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Tuesday July 8, 2014-Moving day-Little River Casino campground to Addison Oaks county park, Leonard MI

We were up early to start preparing to leave here but it was pouring down rain! I decided to stay inside for a bit until the rain stopped or at least slacked up. It stopped about 8, so into the shower I went and then outside I went to get started. I took the time out to walk across the parking lot to check us out and to get a receipt for our stay. I had a chat with the person on duty about their rates for the holiday weekend. They upped our charges by $14 for the four day 4th of July weekend with absolutely no additional activities or events and I told her that I felt that this was outrageous. Of course, all she could do was quote me the new company policy but at least I felt better.

After a visit to the dump station we were off! We made very good time and only made one stop, at the Michigan welcome center in Clare. It turned out to be the perfect stop, about halfway through our journey today with several Munzees for me to find. 

We had decided that since we have a couple of weeks with no place special to go that we would head over to the Addison Oaks county park in Leonard Michigan, where our friends Ted and Donna are staying. We have stayed there a couple of times and don't really like this park but we wanted to surprise our friends and spend some time with them. They are here for the marriage of one of their daughters, so they'll be busy some of the time here, but at least we'll get to visit and catch up with them.

We got here about 2:30 and discovered that their Ted's truck was gone so we assumed that they were away. We got the trailer set up and just after getting my truck moved into a parking spot, Ted drove up. He was surprised to see us and said that Donna was sick and had been in their trailer. When we spoke with her a few minutes later, she said that she heard us when we drove up but she couldn't see who it was until after Ted got home. It was fun to surprise our friends!

After getting all set up, we went over to visit for awhile before having a wonderful supper of leftovers from the 4th of July party that Ted and Donna had. After a great meal, topped off with some really good watermelon, we sat outside by a nice campfire that Ted had prepared. Ted goes around and scrounges firewood that others have left behind and it was nice to spend time with them. We stayed outside until after 10 o'clock and the temps dropped. It's gonna be a great time here.

So long.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Thursday July 3, 2014-Little River Casino campground

Here are some photos that I took in this area. 

This is the S.S. Spartan, a railroad carrier that was owned by the Chesapeake and Ohio railroad. This ship is now berthed at the Ludington Harbor.

Beautiful Lake Michigan.

The small boat harbor in Manistee, where we are now.

The City of Milwaukee, a railroad carrier that is now out of commission and permanently berthed in Manistee. I spoke with two ladies in the museum and learned that they are trying to raise money to restore the ship.

An out-of-commission U.S. Coast Guard cutter that is waiting on engine repairs.

We are staying at the Little River Casino campground.

This place is HUGE!! For a small town next to Lake Michigan, this was a surprise.

Our site. The sites area pretty close together, and a little pricey, due to the hliday weekend. Our neighbors come here often and said that they normally charge around $20 per night for these sites (without a sewer hookup) but since it's the 4th of July weekend, rates have gone up drastically.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Tuesday July 1, 2014-Moving day-Poncho's Pond to Little River Casino Campground, Manistee MI

We slept in this morning, first because of the raindrops hitting the roof all night and second because we only have 33 miles to go today. We were still done in about an hour and pulled out about 10:15 this morning. I had a nice but short chat with our neighbor and learned that she is from Canada (Eh!) and that they are very excited about their new trailer. She said her kids love it even more than their old popup and they have much more room. 

The drive was very easy and we were here about 11AM. We didn't know if we could get into our site because check out is noon, but there was no problem and we were soon in our site and all set up. We got the last pull through site but it doesn't have a sewer hookup. We were grasping when we took this site because we had forgotten to reserve a site for the 4th of July holiday and had to take whatever was available.

This isn't a bad park but we'll have to take care with our waste water. I'll have to limit my showers but Stella will have to walk over to the shower house on the other side of the park.         Just kidding!

It will be good to settle in and read some and relax, getting ready for the next rallies next month.

So long.

Sunday & Monday, June 29 & 30, 2014-Poncho's Pond, Ludington MI

Sunday morning was damp, as it had rained quite a bit at night, but several of us met at Gerry and Debbie's place for more donuts and coffee. We had a few sprinkles so we didn't stay very long. Stella and I came back home but after the clouds lifted, I went out to say goodbye to several people. Several others had already left but a few were still getting packed up. Only two other couples stayed, so when everyone pulled out, it looked rather bare. 

We got some new neighbors and made a couple of suggestions to them to help them get set up in their brand new travel trailer. They are doing exactly the same thing that we did, started with a popup and then a small travel trailer. They should make some very good memories with their three small children.

We hung out in our trailer, dodging the raindrops all afternoon and decided to eat in tonight. We have had so much to eat during the rally, we only wanted to eat light. It began to rain again after dark so me and the dogs turned in early. Tramp has really become a little snuggle-puppy and Cassie doesn't like the sound of thunder, so she stayed close to me.

Monday morning, Stella and I went out to eat a big breakfast at the House of Flavors, where the park's ice cream had come from. They advertise a $2.99 breakfast but we opted for one of the bigger and tastier dishes and had a great meal. There is a 6 page breakfast menu, which made it a bit more difficult to choose. They also specialize in homemade ice cream but we were not takers today. They are PROUD of their ice cream too! $7.00 a quart! I don't think so...

Stella went to Wal Mart and bought enough groceries to last us for a few days and we took on some fuel for our long drive tomorrow to our new location in Manistee. We came back home to more rain, all night long again. Made for some good sleeping!

So long.

Saturday June 28, 2014-Poncho's Pond, Ludington MI

We began this morning with some home made pancakes and sausage, thanks to Gerry and Debbie and a cooking crew that they had recruited. The food was great and there was a good turn out. We sat and chatted after eating, and after an hour or so, we came back home. It had threatened rain while we were walking down to the rally hall but it didn't rain very much. 

The park gave away ice cream sundaes this afternoon at a pavilion right across the street from our place. We walked over, a little late, and had to stand in a long line, but the wait was worth it! The ice cream came from the House of Flavors, and man, was it good! 

We had a great potluck meal later in the afternoon with pork chops prepared by Gerry and another crew. the chops were good and the potluck veggies were GREAT! Wow, nobody went away hungry today!

We had our last chat, without a fire tonight. It seemed that we had run out of firewood, and Michigan as well as many other states, have strict rules about the firewood that is burned. The ash bore beetle is wreaking havoc with many hundreds of trees, but we made the best of it and had some nice chats. Several people said that they will be coming to the Regional rally in Amana. I hope so.

It was a nice way to end the rally and we had a very nice time.

So long.

Friday June 27, 2014-Poncho's Pond, Ludington MI

Today is the first actual day of the rally and it started off with a donut/sweet roll and coffee breakfast for those that wanted to come down early (7:30A). Of course, I was there. Couldn't miss out on some fresh cop food, could I? Gerry did a good job of picking out an assortment of donuts and had used our big coffee pot. He does need some lessons on coffee preparation in the big pot. 

During the day, I went out and capped some Munzees that Bernie had put out at Wal Mart and Meier's and enjoyed spending some time outdoors. I later learned that there were some others that he had put out some on the other end of town at the marina. I will go back to get them.

We went to supper tonight at the Old Hamlin Restaurant in downtown Ludington. They have an all you can eat fish dinner or a buffet with a variety of entrees. Most of us chose the buffet and the food was at best, okay. Nothing spectacular and not bad, just not great. We all left full, so I guess we did all right. 

We came back to the park for another campfire at Gerry's place. It was another pleasant night and the wind wasn't so bothersome tonight and went straight up so no one complained about a face full of smoke. 

There were several people that had bought trailers while at the National rally in Urbanna. We talked about their buying experiences from the local dealer. They must have been offering some pretty good deals because they sold 9 trailers during the rally! A good week for someone! Stella and I talked about a new one but we really haven't found anything that we like better than what we have, but we may change our minds....someday.

So long.

Thursday June 26, 2014-Poncho's Pond, Ludington MI

Stella and I were tired this morning from all of the driving that we have been doing. The 1100 mile drive from Urbanna VA to the Iowa rally in Altoona just about wore us out, and yesterday's drive from Rock Island to here was another 400 miles, so we just hung out here at home. A few of our friends dropped by to visit but we didn't do much today.

We learned that there are two good restaurants that the group had gone to yesterday, the Country Cupboard and the China Buffet. We decided to try the oriental food at the China Buffet, and it was a good choice. We got there just as they changed from the lunch buffet to the supper menu, and everything was very fresh and tasty. 

We came back home and sat outside for a little while before going down to Gerry and Debbie's site for another campfire. It was a nice night for a fire but the wind kept changing, blowing the smoke into someone's face. We stayed down at the fire until just after dark, about 9:30, before coming back home for the night.

It was good to see old friends and we expect to make new ones as usual. That's what we love about following these rallies.

So long.