Sunday, July 26, 2009


We have had very nice weather the last few days. There was one small storm a couple days ago in the middle of the night with a few flashes of lightning and fairly loud claps of thunder. This was accompanied by light rain and wind but the daytime hours and evenings have been warm and wonderful. Maybe summer has finally arrived. Feel free to remind me that I said this when the real heat of summer actually arrives next month :)!

Driving down the road Phil and I do not listen to the radio or play CDs. Occasionally, we listen to a book on tape but I can count on one hand how many we have actually finished in five years. Instead, we watch the world go by, observe the landscape and listen to our Penny as she purrs down the road all the while exchanging comments, thoughts and ideas. Our cockpit area is actually fairly well insulated but since both of us are hard of hearing (and it is getting worse with time), there is a lot of “What?”…“Huh?”…“Say that again.” that goes on. We both hate it but since it really isn’t bad enough to require a hearing aid-yet that is, (Have you priced a Miracle Ear lately?) I don’t see a viable solution in our near future. That said, I sometimes feel like a doddering old fool when I don’t hear, can’t comprehend the sounds I do hear, and react slower than I did in my young and quick-minded days. I can’t help but wonder, if this will get worse or if this as bad as it gets? I can only hope that the latter is true!

The last six weeks spent in Wisconsin, the UP (Upper Peninsula) and Michigan has been an eye–opening experience. The three Great Lakes we have seen so far are truly magnificent and well worth visiting. We couldn’t help but notice that the whole state of Michigan is for sale! With a 19.5 % unemployment rate, we have decided that must be the reason. We have never seen so many different things for sale in one place: Every other house has something “for sale” with a sign in the front yard that offers acreage, old and new cars and trucks, rvs, farm equipment, campfire wood, animals, farm produce, and homes in town and out in the country. Michigan reminds us of WA; lots of evergreen trees (mostly pine), very green and lots of low, gray clouds and sprinkles rather than downpours except the air temperature is warmer for the most part. I have heard this is the coolest summer in years in this neck of the woods and we love it. The low 80s are just fine with us.

As you can see, we are now in Elkhart, Indiana, and will head east in a few days and settle near Niagara Falls for a week but from there, we are still undecided. We have two fairly certain dates; a rally in Ohio in late September and a family reunion in eastern Tennessee one day after the rally ends but otherwise, all plans are carved in Jell-O.
Thanks for stopping by and until next time,

We have never been to a horse race before so this was our chance.
We had a great time and I am sure we will do it again some time.

The gray horse in the middle is named "Double Diamond."
We had to bet on this horse because that is the name of my brother in law's brother Rex's business in Quincy, WA ... Double Diamond Fruit ...

Saturday, July 25, 2009

And the winner is Double Diamond!
We bet $5.00 to win and got back $13.25!
Yahoo! Beginner's luck!

Stopped for ice cream on a day trip and the Red Ranger died in the parking lot! Turns out he had a badly corroded battery cable connection.

We lucked out! A Chevrolet Dealership was right next door and we were fixed and back on the road in minutes.

Heading south again!

Interstate 80-90 Indiana Toll Road. $2.25 for our four axles.
The rain is starting so the picture is a bit blurry.

Our wonderful Penny the Pace at rest in Elkhart Campground in Elkhart, Indiana.
A nice park but no price breaks here because amazingly, it is slim-pickins' for RV parks in the "RV capital of the world" so they can (and do) charge accordingly.

We discovered this beautiful bridge on one of our back road day trips. It has been closed to motor vehicle traffic but is still a glorious piece of sculpture. I just LOVE bridges ... old and new!

FYI - 1

FYI - 2

Lovely, I've never seen anything like it before.

What fun! Our friends Bill and Janet have arrived here at Elkhart Campground in Elkhart, Indiana.
We went out together for a late lunch (or linner as we call it) and had a grand visit.

Bill and Janet Adams installed our datastorm Internet system on the roof of Penny the Pace back in 2004.

Bill is always available for consultation whenever we have had a problem and has at all times given us a solution within minutes over the phone!

If this is something you think you might be interested in doing, check out his website here. We heartily recommend this amazing team of professionals!

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Happy Sunday Morning! It is a beautiful day so far … the sun is shining in an azure sky with just a few fluffy white clouds. It is a welcome difference from the last couple days of heavy cloud cover with a few sprinkles, blustery winds and gray skies. Even though it is still cool this morning, the sun promises to warm us up in no time. We are at the Isabella County Fairgrounds in Mount Pleasant, MI. There are 71 very quiet (a train track is nearby but we’ve only heard a couple trains), grassy, level sites with W/E and a dump nearby. The best part is they honor Passport America with no restrictions so it is only $12.50 a night! That is a nice break for the budget.

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks but guess what? This “old dog” taught herself something new last night that promises to make my blog writing so much easier and I am thrilled! I knew from reading other blogs that it was possible to schedule the time and date for launching text for whenever you chose in the future. Well, I figured out it also works for pictures so last night, I scheduled all my pictures to launch in the wee hours of this morning—five minutes apart and it worked! I think I have discovered a way around “acceleration errors” (from Hughes Net) and Blogger’s stubbornness that frustrates me on Sunday morning when I am trying to load my pictures. I know, I know, it is old news to so many of you but for me it is a giant step in my blogging expertise.

My biggest news is our day trip to Mackinac Island. It was a glorious morning, a bit breezy but the sun was out in all its glory and the forecast was for more of the same. As you may already know, no motorized vehicles are allowed on the island (one ambulance and a police car are the exception). Our 30 minute ride on one of the many people ferries was a sensory overload of beautiful sights … the gorgeous rainbow of blue colors that is Lake Michigan; the 5-miles of Mackinac Bridge spanning the Mackinac Straits and the view of Mackinac Island itself as the boat pulls into the dock. Double WOW with cream and sugar on it!

We disembarked then walked the main street from one end to the other, dodging bicycles, horse drawn carriages and wagons (people and horses have the right of way) feeling like we had stepped back in time, then found our tour. Phil had simplified the whole process by buying our ferry and horse drawn tour tickets on line for a total of $86 for two. The tour took about two hours and for me, it was well worth every cent! After our tour, we found an all you can eat pizza and salad buffet for “linner” then took a horse-drawn taxi up the hill to the Grand Hotel. OMG! It is everything it is advertised to be and more. To keep the “lookie loos” to a minimum, they charge you $10 each to tour the hotel, grounds and THE porch. That small amount of money caused everyone in our taxi to turn away but Phil happily paid the fee in order for me to live my dream as I walked inside. We checked out the lobby where they were serving “tea” for $25 per person but there was a live harpist to entertain you while you sipped champagne and ate tiny sandwiches. I was happy we had just eaten so I wasn’t temped.
As I sat on the 600 ft. porch (longest in the world) and took in the spectacular panorama of green lawn, gardens and vast blue waters of the straits, I felt so fortunate to be there after all these years. Our ride back to the mainland was a bit bumpy and wet for those sitting up front in the lounge as the door to the deck wasn’t sealed very good. No one was allowed on the top deck as the waves were up to 3-4 ft and the wind was blowing pretty hard by then. No one was in any danger, these boat captains are pros and the boats are sturdy and strong but it was exciting as we plowed through the waves. Before we left, we purchased our usual souvenirs including some wonderful fudge (there are dozens of fudge shops) and bought the movie, “Somewhere in Time” with Christopher Reeves and Jane Seymour. Now, I can relive my adventure whenever I want! Even Phil, who takes all this sightseeing in stride, along with me, wholeheartedly recommends this journey back in time for all.

We had a great day trip to Lansing to check out the capital city. It is a handsome old building set up the hill with a commanding view of the city. It was closed so we could not go inside but we walked the grounds and then found a great place for “linner” thanks to our “Carmen” Garmin GPS then took a few miles of back roads on the way home.

We are off to the races this afternoon here at the fairgrounds. Neither of us has ever been to a horse race so it should be exciting!

Until next time,

Joy on the way to Mackinac Island!
One more item off the "bucket list"!

The Grand Hotel!

I have never seen so many bicycles in one place!

The famous Arch. That's the road down below.

I can't believe I am really here ... what a thrill to sit on the porch of The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island!
A life long dream come true ...

There it is! Wow! What a great view of the Michigan State Capital Building in Lansing.

Beautiful building.
Follow this link and there is a virtual tour available.

A nice man walking by said, "Smile! You make the flowers blush!"
Well, I don't know about that but it sure made me feel good and got a smile out of me for sure!

Very interesting tree ...

This is the largest living Calalpa Tree on the grounds of the Michigan State Capital in Lansing. I was sidetracked by the antics of this little squirrel (can you see him through the fence) and neglected to take a picture of the whole tree.
You will have to trust me ... and can tell by the trunk ... it is huge!

"Whatch lookin' at lady?"

Our "linner" spot in Lansing, MI on Saturday.
The Fleetwood Diner
2211 S Cedar Street
It was a bit smokey because of a smoking section on one side but otherwise, it was very entertaining and FAST.

Do you watch Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on the Food Channel?
This place should be on there ...

And he ate every bite!

Sunday, July 12, 2009


First, I apologize for how late this post is coming to you. Blogger decided to give me trouble (as usual) and it took 10 tries for each picture because of errors (on Blogger's end) during each attempt. I love sharing my pictures but it takes so long to load them, I'm worn out by the time I finish. If anyone has any ideas to improve this situation, please feel free to share them with me!
Today, it is a gorgeous morning with blue skies and fluffy white clouds. It was 60 degrees at 7:30 am with a slight breeze here on the shores of beautiful Lake Huron. The forecast is for a high of 70 degrees with winds WNW at 10-20 mph. No sign of that wind yet. We did have a lightning show Friday night and thunder from the north out over the lake with some wind and rain locally but it was mild compared to some storms we have endured further south.

Sorry but I have a rant this morning with a caveat to our fellow travelers. If you aren’t interested, just skip down to the last paragraph. Remember the last time we had a problem with a reservation? It was back in Arkansas at the Tom Sawyer RV Park in West Memphis on the Mississippi River. The moment the owner heard how unhappy we were, he immediately made it right by tearing up our check and we stayed free for that week. Needless to say, our attitude did a complete reversal about that park and we gave it rave reviews, both on the Escapee’s Forum and in our blog. Well, no such luck at the last one.

The park I'm ranting about is our last stop, called Summer Breeze Campground in Iron Mountain, MI. We called ahead twice … the first time we talked to the owner, Carol and checked on whether the park had any open sites with FHU and when we were told it did, made a reservation for a week (our minimum stay on this trip) and paid the deposit with a credit card. Then a week later, Phil called again to confirm and once more, stressed our need for a clear shot of the southern sky for our Datastorm Internet satellite dish. Again, he was told they had the perfect site for us. When we arrived they had our reservation (so far, so good), but the woman (Carol’s mother) behind the desk seemed confused about the need for a site out of the trees and then Jerry, the owner came in to lead us back to our site while she took our money for the balance due. She mentioned several times we were getting an Escapee’s discount and we told her we knew that and it was one reason we had chosen this park.

Well, owner Jerry assured us we would have no problem with clearance at site 64. I walked back to the site while Phil unhooked the Lone Ranger and within minutes, I could see we were in trouble. There were big trees up close to the south side of our site and the hookups were laid out in a curious way. I pointed out several other sites out in the open and asked the owner if we could have one of those. He said, “Sorry, they are all reserved.” I said, “Have they reserved those specific sites?” and he assured me they had. I explained our needs for the Internet connection and he proceeded to mock my need and say that he hated computers and never touched them. He said as far as he was concerned, they should all be thrown out an upstairs window. I said, “Well, I think they are the way of the future.” And he said, “Not my future!” I decided not to mention his business’s web site and dropped the subject. Since, there was no other space for us we decided to make do where we were.

We analyzed our predicament and decided if we drove into the site backwards and put Penny’s nose right at the road, we might be able to sneak by the trees. It would mean we were over 30 ft from the sewer connection but we decided we would rather do without sewer (even though we paid for it) than Internet. We leveled our faithful Penny the Pace and pushed the button to raise the dish. Thanks to our experience at maneuvering the coach, our incredible Datastorm locked on the first try! Okay, so far, so good.

Okay, fast forward six days and owner, Jerry shows up at our site in his golf cart about noon while Phil is outside doing his pre-travel checks and he says, “Getting ready to leave?” (Check out is noon) Phil said (I heard it all through my open window), “Yes, we’ll be leaving in the morning.” Jerry said, “You are scheduled to leave today.” Phil responded with, “No, we paid for a week and we will be leaving tomorrow.” Jerry said, “Well, I will go back to the office and check because it says here you are leaving today.” We are sure he will come back and apologize for the error but guess again! He came back in a few minutes and rudely informed Phil we had only paid for six days and we had better “check our paperwork”. He said you owe another $27.40 if you are going to stay another day. There was no mention of a discount because we couldn’t reach the sewer connection. At this point I must admit, we had not checked our paperwork at check in and assumed (big mistake) the lady who checked us in knew there were seven days in a week, not six.

Live and learn as they say! Phil paid and informed them we would be reviewing and reporting their business practices on our blog. The point of my tirade is: be very specific about your need for an open site (if you have a roof mounted Datastorm or TV dish) and DOUBLE CHECK the paperwork at check-in. Also, avoid this park because in MHO, the owner is belligerent, overbearing and obnoxious. Obviously he has never been trained in customer relations and BTW, we did NOT get an Escapees discount on the weeks rent. That is only on the daily rate but of course, it didn’t say that on the website.

Now, on a lighter note, I can now mark off another “to do” on my life-list of “things I want to do before I die” aka the “Bucket List.” Last Wednesday, we drove south across the magnificent Mackinac Bridge to get to Mackinaw Mill Creek Campground here on the shores of Lake Huron. Believe me, after all the hype about how scary it is … both Phil and I loved it. What a beautiful bridge, what a view and what a gorgeous day we had for the adventure! Tomorrow will be another big day for us as we take the ferry ride to spend the day on Mackinac Island. I’ll tell you all about that next week. Since we arrived we have done some exploring and found many miles of gorgeous Lake Michigan coastline with hundreds of outstanding homes on the west side of the peninsula but not much to look at except trees driving south along the eastern coast beside Lake Huron. While we were in Iron Mountain, we drove north to Marquette to get a look at Lake Superior so now we have see three of the Great Lakes. Hopefully, before heading south in the fall, we will have seen them all.
Until next time,

This was where they put us at Summer Breeze Campground. Behind us, all those empty sites with clear shots to the south were "reserved."
No attempt was made by management to help us.
We were amazed the Datastorm locked on at all.

Notice sewer connection on Penny's right front fender.
The water and electric are on the other side just back from the drivers door.
All the sites are laid out screwy this way without thought for the convenience of the camper.

Phil standing on the shore of Lake Superior.
For more info about the Great Lakes, check out this link:

Here we go across the beautiful Mackinac Bridge!

$10.00 for our four axels.
Yahoo! I'm finally here!

Living my dream! Please excuse the bug juice on the windshield :)

My hero driving Penny the Pace across the Mackinac Bridge.
He was totally unruffled by the experience and was ogling the sights as he drove!

A Star-Line Hydro-Jet ferry on the way to Mackinac Island.
I dialed up the telephoto and got this great shot from the bridge.

The next day while driving south on the Lake Michigan side of Michigan we spotted these signs.
I couldn't resist and had to stop. We bought some freshly cut rhubarb. Yummy!

We found this organic farm produce/ health food store on the property! There is also a cafe upstairs.

Just one of the many gardens and the barn.

The big attraction in the barnyard!

What the farmer called a very successful litter! We were there on July 9th ... they were four days old.

This is one of Bess's little ones off to the other side of the pen to go potty.
Even this young, they instinctively know not to defecate in their bed!
Amazing and adorable!

This is part of the pile of piglets that belong to Bess.

Poor Peggy Sue lost (stillborn) all but three of her litter. I think they should give her some of Bess's litter next door however they probably won't because they are a day or two older and more aggressive already.

Oh oh! An escape artist standing in the food trough that can't figure out how to get back to her flock.
Worried for her safety, we ratted her out to the owner.
Here you go young lady ... back into the pen!

No flyer so we can't tell you the asking price ... but I would bet this horse farm isn't cheap.