“Driveway Surfing” Is A Blast!

Not sure if there’s an official definition of Driveway Surfing, but my definition is; When an RV’er spends the night on someone’s (often a fellow RV’er) property rather than in a commercial campground or RV park.

Our spot near Ocala, FL in the coolness of the towering pines

This is not only a less expensive alternative to commercial facilities, but much safer than the often-used boon-docking (dry camping) at Wal-Marts, Cracker Barrels, Truck Stops, highway Rest Areas and the like.

The term “Boon-docking” by the way, also known as “dry camping” in the RV’er’s world is stopping/staying at a location that does not offer any utilities or other amenities.  Most RV’er’s are traveling in self-contained units meaning they carry their own water (and waste) tanks and have a means to provide limited electricity to the unit for lighting, water pumping, and sometimes more.

We’ve found that the big added benefit of these overnight stays are the wonderful welcomes we get from our gracious hosts.  We often spend the afternoon and into the evenings together sitting around the bonfire trading stories of our RV’ing and life experiences.  Sometimes we even have dinner together.

Although Kathy and I first became aware of this wonderful benefit of full-time RV life through our membership in Boondockers Welcome, we soon found out that there are other opportunities out there as well.  We’ve found that the Airstreamers (Wally Byam Caravan Club International) along with FMCA (Family Motor Coach Association), and Escapees RV Club members have programs similar to the Boondockers Welcome program.  Another program mentioned to us by many other RV’ers is Harvest Hosts.  Although some of these programs require a nominal annual membership fee in order to access the database and reservation software, others are free to club members.

Here are some pictures we’ve taken as we’ve traveled and met other RV’ers using our “Driveway Surfing” privileges utilizing BoondockersWelcome.com.

Roger and Jan – Randall, Kansas

We were warmly welcomed by our first BoondockersWelcome hosts Roger and Jan to their farm near Randall, Kansas in spring of 2016.  Roger and Jan have a beautiful “earth” home that they custom built on the family farm that Roger was born on.  While Jan prepared dinner for us (a very welcome surprise!), Roger took us on a tour of the 1000+ acre farm that their son now manages and farms (along with Dad’s occasional help).  Roger and Jan have traveled all fifty states, 6 of the 10 Canadian provinces, and down into Mexico.

Click on any of the pictures to see an enlarged view

Coyote & Angel – Ocala, Florida

Our next fantastic visit was to Coyote and Angel’s log cabin retreat near Ocala, Florida.  And what a treat it was!  They’re both retired now, but both have a colorful past and have enjoyed rebuilding over 30 classic and antique cars and trucks in their retirement.  They’re also very creative and have built a wonder-filled outdoor experience that  the pictures below can only begin to explain.  Utilizing BoondockersWelcome, they invite RV’er’s to come and spend the night and they offer their retreat to host car shows, weddings, and other private events.  Since our visit Coyote and Angel have sold their motorhome and bought a vintage Airstream travel trailer and are planning on taking a trip up to Michigan this summer and we’re looking forward to seeing them again up there while we are at our Workamping job at Baldwin, MI.

Click on any of the individual pictures to see an enlarged view

Perry, Ginny, and Georgia – New Boston, TX

Now Perry and Ginny (along with Memaw Georgia) eagerly welcomed us to their home near New Boston, Texas and they showed off their southern hospitality by treating us to a great BBQ rib dinner.

We also enjoyed meeting another Boondocker couple there (Brad & Elaine) who had just returned from a month long trip to New Zealand to visit their daughter.  We all had a great evening together talking and laughing.

Be sure to check out the video below of Ginny and Perry’s “Alpine Village” that they’ve put together over the years.  Ginny told us that after we leave they were going to take it all apart to dust and clean and then put it ALL BACK TOGETHER AGAIN!  Glad it’s not MY job!

Click on any of the individual pictures to see an enlarged view

 

Germantown, OH – Lynn & Jackie

On our way back to “the old home place” in Ohio this spring, we took advantage of the invite by Lynn and Jackie at Germantown, Ohio (near Dayton).  They had us in for a wonderful home-cooked spaghetti dinner and the next day (we stayed two nights) Kathy and I toured the U.S. Air Force Museum adjacent to the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.  We also toured the Wright Brothers Museum and the original Bicycle Shop, then spent the late afternoon at Carillon Historical Park where they have nearly 35 buildings there originally built anywhere from the 1870’s to the 1930’s.  The second evening we went out to a local Mexican restaurant and then Jackie and Lynn treated us to a wonderful farewell waffle breakfast just before our departure!

Click on any of the individual pictures to see an enlarged view

Jason – Fairhope, Alabama

This stop was different in that we were not in the driveway of someone’s home, but rather their business.  Jason, a former school teacher turned restaurant owner is a RV’er wanna-be.  Having some restaurant experience in his past life, Jason opened this restaurant about 11 years ago and now is ready to sell and hit the road.

He’s joined all the RV clubs out there, is constantly reading RV’ers blogs and watching YouTube videos about the RV lifestyle and invites RV’ers to his restaurant so that he can have the opportunity to meet and learn from others.

RV’er friends of ours (that we had met in Arizona in 2016) were staying at an Escapees RV park just a few miles away, and so they came on over and we had a great night together enjoying shrimp PoBoys and fried clams.

In the morning, I went on over to the kitchen early while Jason was prepping for the lunch crowd.  I followed him around enjoying the fresh hot coffee and talking about our life histories and RV’ing.

Click on any of the individual pictures to see an enlarged view

 

As we’ve said before, “although seeing the sites as we travel around the country is great … the really wonderful experiences are the new friends we make along the way”, and we thank Boondockers Welcome for helping us to that end.

Driveway surfing is just one more way to experience the good life … maybe you’ll try it someday yourself!

 

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

We’re Ready For Something Different – What’ll It Be?

We’re Ready For Something Different – What’ll It Be?

We’ve been on the road now for about 18 months and traveled from Vermont to California and the Upper Penninsula of Michigan down to central Florida and so many points in between.  Here’s a map showing where we’ve been.

Where We’ve Been

We’ve been working along the way.  We’ve been working in RV parks as hosts and workampers.  Generally, this means that we put in 15-20 hours per week in exchange for our RV site and utilities.  This saves us about $500 each month while at the same time giving us enough time off to immerse ourselves in the area and see the sights.

We’ve come to realize that although our experiences so far have been wonderful and rewarding, we want to move a little more often than once every 3-6 months.  We seem to get “hitch-itch” at about a month in to our engagement.  That’s why we’ve made arrangements to work at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in October and the Big Tent RV show at Quartzsite Arizona in January.  And we’ll pick up other jobs in between.

In an effort to become a little more mobile and move on down the road a little more often while still being able to work in exchange for our site, we’ve discovered another opportunity.  There’s a whole big movement out there that not only would accomplish OUR goal, but serves others and our Lord at the same time.

Enter Christian mobile work groups.

Along the way, we’ve met several folks that are part of one of these Christian based mobile work teams.  We’ve found about a half dozen active groups (and there are probably more).  Generally these volunteers work as teams in local churches, bible camps, orphanages, schools, and even some disaster stricken areas.

The host church (or agency) typically provides the RV site and utilities along with at least one hearty meal during the day.  The 3 or 4 work days per week are usually about 6 hours long and the week is interspersed with sufficient group worship, prayer, and fellowship time around the campfire or on “day trips” away from camp.

The video below shows our trip this past week over to Piney Woods Baptist Encampment in Woodlake, Texas about 90 minutes northeast of Houston.

We found out that Piney Woods is one of 39 Baptist camps in Texas.

This is an awesome camp that is capable of hosting about 1000 campers at a time and boasts multiple buildings that include lodging, dining, worship, and recreation centers.

The camp has about 25 full-time staff to support the programming and the facilities and besides the “mobile” volunteers that I’m talking about in this blog post, they also hire 60-70 summer college aged camp counselors to work with the camp attendees.

I could go on and on, but I encourage you to visit http://www.pineywoodscamp.com/ to find out all about this wonderful camp for kids and adults alike.

In the meantime, take a look at the video below to come along with us on our tour!  After the video, I’ve listed some links to the Christian based mobile volunteer work groups that we’ve discovered in case you’re interested in learning more about them.

Kathy and I have already joined Volunteer Christian Builders and have sent applications to join NOMADS and RVICS.  We plan on being able to serve one or more of these groups 2 or 3 times each year in between our other gigs.  Maybe we’ll even meet you at one of these worthwhile projects!

Until then, safe travels to you and yours

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

How Do We Know We’re Not Going To Freeze Down Below?

Call me worried … call me paranoid … but when winter comes (even in east Texas) and shows it’s ugly head, I worry about whether or not we are really set for any below freezing temps.

Having worked as a Realtor the last 20 years of my working life, I’ve had plenty of opportunity to see vacant homes get nearly destroyed as a result of freezing temperatures.

On the surface, everything seems fine.  But in a very short time-frame things can turn ugly in a hurry.

The video below shows a couple of steps we take to make sure that we can get FAR below freezing temps outside and still have a safe water supply in our RV for both drinking and bathing.

If you have any other safeguards that you take to protect your RV, or for that matter your sticks ‘n bricks house, I’d be interested to hear about what steps you take.

Thanks for reading and thanks for riding along.  Safe travels to you.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Interior Remodel Of Our Airstream Motorhome

We bought our 2002 Airstream motorhome from the original owner who was selling it in W. Virginia.  We found it on Craigslist.  We were replacing a 2003 Monaco Monarch gas motorhome because I had always admired Airstream products and I really wanted a diesel pusher coach.  This one was a little unusual in that it is green in color (we like different) and besides, it fit our budget!

Our maiden voyage was from our (then) home in Ohio to visit Kathy’s cousin Judy in Encinitas, CA.  Once we completed that trip successfully and the coach was still in one piece and Kathy and I were still talking to each other, we made the decision to go RV’ing full time.  I retired from my real estate business and we left Ohio permanently for our “home on the road” on September 6, 2016.

Since that time we’ve traveled just under 20,000 miles and gone from Ohio to San Diego, to Ohio, to Vermont, to Ohio, to Arizona, to Ohio, to western Michigan (and the UP) and back to Ohio (via Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana) and most recently down to Texas for the winter.

Where We’ve Been

In all that time and miles, we’ve discussed numerous times what we like about our new home and what we would change or make sure we would get in our “next” rig.

We’ve been to RV dealers and we’ve been to a few RV shows in the past few years and we’ve climbed in and out of countless motorhomes.  We know what we like and what we don’t like.

We’ve come to the conclusion that we LIKE WHAT WE HAVE, save a few exceptions.

The new RV’s have a lot more bells and whistles but, like so many manufactured products today, “they just don’t make ’em like they used to” and the RV industry is not immune to this phenomenon.

I’m not going to get into what we don’t like about some of the new rigs because I don’t want to offend anybody.  Our rig, although 15 years old, is just getting “broke in” with about 69,000 miles on it’s Caterpiller 3126 diesel engine.  It purrs like a kitten (tiger) and rides like a dream and looks like new (when it’s washed!)  And it’s paid for.

But, since we made the decision to keep the “big green machine” as Kathy calls it, we decided to invest some money into making it less dated inside and also to beef up the engine and suspension/steering systems.  We wanted to make it closer to perfect.

I’ll be detailing the suspension and steering upgrades in a future post, but for now I’ll show you what we did on the inside. The video below details all that we did including; flooring, wall paint, window shade boxes, wall sconces, lavatory towel racks, light fixtures, and so on.

We’re happy with our remodel work and happy with our home on wheels.  She’s only 15 years old, so we hope to have her around as long as we are on the road … and who knows how long that will be?

In the meantime, we plan to continue to enjoy our travels and workamping experience and we hope you find your travels safe and wonder-filled.

You can follow us on our You Tube channel herbnkathyrv and of course here on the blog at www.herbnkathy.com.

If you are on Facebook, join us at facebook.com/herbsells

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Foretravel Coach Plant Tour – Nacogdoches, TX

Winnebago, Avion, Jayco, Fleetwood, Airstream, Coachman, Thor, and so many other RV names were familiar to us.  Many have been around for years and years and enjoy a long history of making quality recreational vehicles.

I recently wrote a post on our Airstream factory tour in Jackson Center, Ohio when we were on our way from our Michigan summer workamping gig to our Texas winter workamping gig.

I only recently (within the last year or so) became familiar with the coach building company known as FORETRAVEL.  I realized we were going to be right past the home of Foretravel at Nacogdoches, Texas.  “So let’s go take their factory tour too, eh?”

Like the Airstream factory, Foretravel also offers low cost ($5/nite) camping for it’s customers and visitors.  We pulled in to the parking area in the afternoon and found that the plant tour would be at 10 am the next morning.  We took the opportunity that afternoon to talk to one of their in-house sales reps so we could look at their used inventory and then we also drove up the street a mile or so and met with Brad at Motorhomes of Texas to see what they had in their Foretravel inventory.

The front of the main Foretravel plant and corporate offices at Nacogdoches
Our parking spot for the night at the factory “campground”
The back of the main building showing the service and delivery prep bays

(The following is taken from “The History of Foretravel” on the corporate web site.)

“The business of building motorhomes came about not due to planning by the Fores, but by the traveling they did in their self-built motorhome.

From that modest beginning in 1967 with the 29’ “Speedy Marie” motorhome produced in the backyard of C.M. & Marie Fore, Foretravel continued to set the standard. Weathering the oil embargos of the early 1970’s Foretravel introduced the first diesel-powered motorhome in 1974.

In addition to the numerous conveniences of a Foretravel, i.e., VCR’s, central vacuum cleaners, icemakers, trash compactors, Foretravel was among the first to use fiberglass instead of aluminum, real hardwood, and a full air bag suspension.”

Foretravel continues to be a top-notch motorhome manufacturer.  At present, they make 2 Class “A” coaches – The model IH-45, selling for about $1,000,000 and the “entry level” coach labeled the “Realm” that sells somewhere in the $800,000 range.

Unlike Airstream that makes about 100 units per month and has about 1200 employees, Foretravel has only about 160 employees and manufactures about only 25 units PER YEAR!  Their paint process alone requires about 2000 man hours to complete.

Also unlike Airstream, the Foretravel factory tour allowed us to take pictures!

The “power” end of the new IH-45 coach
One of the “basement” compartments showing electronic wiring.
Two frame assemblies with basement compartments side by side
Aluminum box frame side wall assemblies ready to be mounted on basement frame box
Front end of the coach frame shows (green) Onan diesel 12kw generator
One of the side slide assemblies that will be placed into a sidewall
An entire drivers side sidewall (front end at right end of image)
Now the wall has been lifted into place on the coach basement frame ready to be attached
Basement pass through storage compartments
Aluminum box frame (front end of coach)
The power end of the coach showing one of the slides extended
Workers installing the one piece windshield
Installing one of the large slide units

Some of the features that the Foretravel coaches have that really appeal to me are;

  1. 8 (or 10 if there’s a tag axle) “outboard” air bags.  They place their air bags at the extreme outboard end of where the axle meets the frame just inside the side wall.  Most coach chassis makers have the air bags inside the wheels so the airbags might be 4 or 5 feet apart whereas with the Foretravel coaches the airbags are more like 8 feet apart.  This gives the coach much better stability and far less side-to-side rocking when driving into or out of a driveway.
  2. No slide gaskets or seals that are exposed to the exterior.  No slide trim panels that overlap the sidewall.  Foretravel uses the HWH expanding bladder to seal the slide to the outside wall.  When the slide is retracted or extended, there is a vacuum placed on the bladder.  Once the wall is completely in or out, then the bladder is pressurized to provide an airtight weatherproof seal.  This system not only provides an airtight seal, but when the slides are closed (retracted), the face of the slide is perfectly and completely flush with the sidewall.
  3. Pass-through basement storage drawers (full height from side to side)
  4. Aqua-Hot heating system uses hot water circulated through heat exchangers in the cabin for warm, quiet heat.  This is diesel powered and also provides hot water to the bath and kitchen.
  5. CAT (on older models) and Cummins 450hp and up engines along with Allison Electronic Transmissions (3000 series on older coaches, 4000 series on newer) along with driver-controlled 4-position transmission retarder.  This style retarder gives the operator far superior speed control during steep downhill grades … better than an exhaust retarder or engine brake.
Here’s a cross-section of the HWH slide bladder seal that pressurizes to seal

These next few photos show Kathy getting just a little TOO comfortable inside the new Foretravel REALM that just rolled off the factory floor.  It’s a darn shame it was already sold … aw shucks.

Here’s that REALM on the outside.  I gotta admit – I do like the paint scheme

Oh, take a look at the steps.  These are not your typical RV steps.  Most motorhomes today use electric RV steps known as Kwikee Steps made by Lippert Industries.  These high-end steps are known as “Executive” brand steps made by Braund Industries.

I was really impressed with these steps when we were at the factory.  Our coach steps are well worn and rattle a lot as we’re going down the road.   So I thought, “boy I’d like to get a set of those steps for our coach”  I did some research online when I got home.  Those steps would cost us about $5000 !!!!     Not Happnin’ !

Here’s a few pix of older Foretravel coaches that we looked at in the $125k-$175k range.  We like to look, but we’ll keep our Airstream for now.

2003 Model U-320 38′ w/ tag axle & 2 Slides
2003 Model U-320 36′ w/ 2 slides
2000 Model U-295 40′ w/ 1 Slide

NOTE: We’re doing some interior remodeling and some performance and suspension upgrades to our present Airstream coach and we’ll be publishing posts on those projects soon, once we have all the projects completed.

Oh, I almost forgot …. when we were in Nacogdoches we asked where we should have dinner that night and were referred to the Fredonia Hotel downtown.  We weren’t disappointed.  Kathy had shrimp and I had salmon.  The food was excellent, the presentation beautiful and the service outstanding.  Hats off to our server Brett.  Here’s a few pix of our delectable delights.

The dining room at the Fredonia overlooking the patio and pool
My Atlantic Salmon dinner
Kathy’s Shrimp Dinner w/ Broccoli Cole Slaw
We were good …. we didn’t take anything off the desert tray
Yes, the lounge chairs are IN the pool
The Front Lobby and Registration Desk

 

 

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Where We’ve Been

I haven’t posted for a while.  We’re here at Livingston, TX workamping at the Escapees RV Club flagship RV park for the winter, we’ll be here until Jan. 15, 2018.

Then we’ll make our way over to Florida for the month of February.  We’re looking forward to that trip as it will give us the opportunity to stop and visit lots of friends along the way.

Some of those friends we’ve known for years, while others are “new” friends that we’ve only just met since we hit the road full time.  Although this full-time RV’ing lifestyle allows us the opportunity to see all parts of the country we haven’t seen before, we find even more value in the friendships we are able to form along the way.

Here’s a map of where we’ve stayed (at least overnight) since we started in Sept of 2016.

 We still have a lot of the east coast to cover along with the gulf coast and northwestern states but we also have time on our side.

Our trip to Florida will give us the opportunity to visit friends in Summerdale  Alabama, then on to Florida to visit friends and family in cities including; Crestview, Jacksonville, Orlando, Ocala, Interlachen, The Villages, Polk City, Crystal River, Sebring, Lake Placid, and Fort Myers.

We just enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving meal with about 125+ of our newest best friends at the RV park.  Not only was it a delicious meal (the park provided the turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy) with everyone bringing a dish to pass for their table, but we were entertained by fellow camper Randy Sprouse and his Highland Bagpipes.  This was a special treat for everyone.

That’s all for now.  More to follow soon as we’ve been working on updating the interior of the coach with new paint, window coverings, flooring, light fixtures, and more.

We’re also scheduled to get some suspension and steering performance upgrades done and I hope to have a post covering that subject too.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Our Visit to Hot Springs Bath House Row (Scary)

We really had no idea what to expect.  We were headed from Ohio to east Texas (1449 mile trip) where our winter workamping job would be and looked for places to stay along the way.

We had just been to the Branson, MO area where we stayed at the Escapees RV Club Turkey Creek RV Park.  We spent a couple nights there enjoyed a great pizza dinner at “Mr. G’s” and then of course (since you’re in Branson) took in one of the shows on the strip.

Kathy’s personal deep dish Chicago Style pizza (Chicken, spinach, garlic alfredo sauce)
Smaller family pizza and sub joint in downtown Branson, MO

So we looked at the map and decided that Hot Springs, Arkansas is where we should be heading.  I read the reviews online and found that the Lake Catherine State Park was reviewed as being a nicer campground than the National Park, so off went went.  We were not disappointed!

Our site backed up to the lake

Lake Catherine was beautiful.  The day we got there, it was super hot and humid so once we got things hooked up, we changed into our suits and jumped into the lake to cool off … how refreshing!  Later that evening we could sit out and watch the ducks and geese along the edge of the lake along with hearing the screams of joy from the children jumping into the water from the adjacent dock.  We’ll definitely be stopping back at Lake Catherine State Park next time we find ourselves in the Little Rock / Hot Springs area.

We stayed at Lake Catherine SP for two nights because we wanted to spend time in Hot Springs.  We really had no idea what to expect.  I looked online (again) and found the National Park site told us that (depending on how much time we had) what we could see in; an hour or so, a half day, or a whole day.  We headed to downtown Hot Springs to hit the Visitor Center and pick up a map.

“Bathhouse Row” is where you’ll find 8 of the early hot spring bath houses built between 1892 and 1923 still standing and two of them actually still in operation.  The ones that are not still operating have become museums, gift shops, etc.

drawing, map of Bathhouse Row today with park land shown in green, private property in the city as tan, parking lots as yellow, streets as white, bathhouse buildings leased in dark purple and the Maurice Bathhouse which is not yet leased as light purple. It shows hot spring water fountains as red dots.
Map of Bathhouse Row
Lamar Bathhouse, now a gift shop operated by the Parks Department
The Ozark Bathhouse is now an art museum
This is the Arlington Hotel where Al Capone and other famous folks stayed when they visited the bathouses
The Hot Springs NPS Administration Building
Hot Spring water (at 143 degrees) bubbles over at many locations along the streets and promenade of bathouse row
The former Army-Navy Hospital (the 2nd one to be built on this site) which is now the Arkansas Career Training Institute

The spring water comes out of the ground at 143 degrees, (over 700,000 gallons a week!) and is collected at the base of the mountain just above Bathhouse Row into spring collection boxes.  You can see these boxes along side the Promenade that runs just along behind the bathhouses.

At the top of this picture is the Promenade level and if you look closely, you can see the steam rising from the water as it comes to the surface. It then cascades down to a pool, where it looks inviting, but still too hot to submerge your hand
The hot water pool at the bottom of the small waterfall
The Promenade runs the full length behind the bathhouses. The spring collection boxes are to the left (above) and the right (below) the Promenade
Here’s just a few of the many spring water collection boxes

The Fordyce Bathhouse was built between 1914-1916 and is now a museum that provides free guided tours.  Park Ranger Kevin was our tour guide and he showed us all the rooms used along with a lot of the equipment used for treatment of the aches and pains of the patients.  Although some of the standard hot water bathing could be taken in by anyone, there were other treatment regimes that had to be prescribed by a medical doctor.  The Fordyce doctor was on the 3rd floor and patients could see him for an exam and interview after which the doctor could prescribe a treatment program for that patients ailment(s).

Upon entry, patients were assigned an attendant who would be with them throughout their visit.  This was for the safety of the patient to make sure they weren’t “overdoing it” and to make sure all the proper procedures were followed and laws and regulations controlling hot springs baths were (are) followed.

Fordyce Attendant

Kevin told us that the attendants, although paid a very small wage, were often tipped very well by their patients.  If an attendant was good at their job, it was very often the case that the patient would request that attendant by name when they set their appointment.  It was also very common to find that there were families of attendants, generation after generation.  For local folks, although the work was hard (on your feet all day in sweltering heat and humidity), the tips were good and the work was steady.

Some of the equipment was pretty scary looking (electro-therapy, needle showers, heat-lamp boxes, ice block boxes, spring water enema table, etc.)  Yet, people in need flocked to the bathhouses seeking relief from their pain.  Remember, there were not the pharmaceuticals that are out there now and medical technology was still in the dark ages.

The Fordyce Bathhouse front lobby (notice all the marble) where patients came for their appointment
The ladies “first room” after leaving the Dressing Room. This is where the “needle shower”, the hot tubs, the sun-ray box and the ice box are located
The ladies “cooling room” after initial treatment (bath, shower, heat, ice) where they come to relax and cool down
The “Needle” shower. Hundreds of very fine sprays of hot water pummel your skin and joints
This is the SCARY room. From left to right … tub for electro therapy, water enema table, ICE BLOCK box, Sun-Ray Heat Lamp Box, water cannons
The Sun-Ray box on the right gets close to 200 degrees, after that then right into sitting on top of a block of ice in the ICE BOX
The mens private bath rooms (see the needle shower behind Ranger Kevin?). This is quite a bit more ornate than the ladies side of the building (statue in the center)
Stained glass skylight too!
One of the doctors therapy rooms (Run!)
The lounge on the 2nd floor adjacent to the ladies dressing rooms
Rows and rows of dressing rooms. One side of the 2nd floor for men, the other side of the 2nd floor for the ladies.

 

We also took a drive up “Mountain Road” where we were able to take an elevator up to the top of the lookout tower where you could see all over town and for miles beyond.

View from atop the Lookout Tower

We had a great time, learned a lot and would definitely go back again to both the state park campground and the downtown area of Hot Springs.

 

 

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Review – Lake Vandalia Campground

As afternoon came we pulled in to a Walmart parking lot where we could get free (strong) wifi and brought up our Allstays app to find a place to stay for the night.

We were lucky enough to choose Lake Vandalia Campground at Vandalia, Illinois.

Lake Vandalia, Illinois

This is a city park with a huge lake, beach area with concession stand and about 100+ electric only sites.  There is a dump station that’s free to use for registered guests.  Water hydrants are available, but you might need a couple hundred feet of hose.  We carry 90 gallons in our fresh water tank, so we had no worries.

The fee was only $15 (senior discount) and we were lucky enough to be one of only about 3 or 4 campers there for the night.  We backed in to our spot, set up our chairs at the edge of the lake, cooked brats on the charcoal grill and had a peaceful and cool night listening to the light rain that started about midnight.

Oh, and Kathy made Acorn Squash in her Instant Pot …. I didn’t think I would like it, but you know … put enough butter and brown sugar on about anything and it’ll taste good!  I gotta admit …. it was yummy.

Acorn Squash from the Instant Pot
Our site for the night, backed right up to the lake
View of the lake from our easy chairs

All in all, it was another great place to camp for the night … and inexpensive to boot!

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Our Trip Home – The Long Way …

So as our 4 month workamping gig in Baldwin, Michigan wrapped up, our plan was to come back “home” to visit the kids and grand kids for a week or so and then head toward Livingston, Texas where we will start our fall/winter workamping assignment on October 15th.

Ordinarily, we would just make the 6 hour drive direct from Baldwin, MI to Mt. Gilead, OH but … since we had time on our hands and a desire to see more of Michigan, we decided to head north instead.

Our goal was to get back up into the U.P. and this time head further north and further west.  We headed out and spent our first night at the casino in Manistique (free camping w/ electric), visited the lighthouse on the jetty at the mouth of the Manistique River, and the next morning headed out US-2 where we had a great breakfast in a wonderful little family diner at Big Bay De Noc.  After breakfast we headed on up US-41 through Marquette, Negaunee, and Ishpiming where Chuck said we just had to stop at “Da Yoopers Tourist Trap”.

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Here’s a short video of our walk out on the Jetty at the mouth of the Manistique River where it meets Lake Michigan.

We continued on US-41 from Ishpiming (and we didn’t buy a thing at “Da Yooper Trap”), on up and THROUGH Alberta where we passed the Ford Forestry Center of Michigan.  We didn’t have time to stop and check it out, it was getting late in the day and we had found out at about noon that there were only about 6 spots left at the state park at Copper Harbor, so we had to keep “movin’ on down the road”.  Hopefully next year when we are back up at Baldwin, we can take a few days to go up into the U.P. again and check out this historic site.

As we drove through L’Anse and around L’Anse Bay staying on US-41 we were now finally just inside the Keweenaw Peninsula and heading further north to Copper Harbor.

L’Anse, MI and the Keweenaw Bay

Staying on 41, we drove through the college town of Houghton, MI – home to Michigan Technological University.  So many “kids” walking the streets to and from class.  They all look so young ….

Crossing the Portage River over the lift bridge and on into the sister city of Hancock, MI.  You can get a really great “live” view of the lift bridge by following this link where we stayed on 41 and stopped to visit the Upper Peninsula Firefighters Memorial in Calumet.

Great museum of firefighting apparatus and memorabilia in Calumet, MI

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We finally made it to our destination for the night, Fort Wilkins Historic State Park at Copper Harbor at the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula. 

The State Park was really nice and there was lots to see not only at the park (the historic fort) but also in the Copper Harbor area so we decided that we would stay at least two nights here.

Kathy had heard about “The Jam Pot” so we headed south on M-26 where we bought a muffin and some of their spiced peach jam.  Had that for lunch and it was yummy.

We went to the top of Brockway Mountain to the lookout where we could see down to all of Copper Harbor, Fort Wilkins, and Lake Fannie Hooe.  We continued on down M-26 through Eagle Harbor and Eagle River where we saw lots of waterfalls.

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When our stay at Copper Harbor was over, we headed back down US-41 and across MI-28 through Ironwood and on into Wisconsin where we spent a night at a really nice campground-type RV park and we were lucky enough to get a spot looking out onto Indian Lake with full hook-up for only $30/nite!

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Leaving Woodruff, Wisconsin we continued south and stayed at Hickory Hollow RV Park in Utica, Illinois the next night then down to Blue Lake Campground in Cherubusco, IN the following night before heading out to the RV Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Indiana.

Located just off I-80 at Elkhart, IN

Admission to the RV/MH Hall of Fame is $12 for adults, $10 for those over 60 years of age.  It’s a walk-through self guided museum that resembles (somewhat) a campground.  Many of the units welcome walk-throughs but some were roped off so you could only look through the doors and windows.  If you were to stop and read every placard at every RV, the tour would very likely last nearly all day.

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Although the drive from west central Michigan (Ludington area) to the Keweenaw Peninsula was a long one, it was worth it.  We saw a smattering of what the area has to offer, and hopefully next year when we’re back up at the RV park, we can take a few days to make the trip north again to discover more.

In the meantime, we’re currently back in Ohio for a few days until we head out to our next workamping gig in Livingston, TX.  More on that to come later.

For now, it’s rollin’ on down the road for us.

 

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

RV Park Review – Pere Marquette Oaks RV “Condo” Resort (Michigan)

Summer’s over and our 4 month workamping gig has come to an end.  We had a great experience at a wonderful park in a beautiful area of the country and I wanted to share a little info with you in hopes that you might have an opportunity to spend some time in this often “skipped” area of our country.

Pere Marquette Oaks RV Resort is located in west central Michigan just about 3 miles south of the town of Baldwin.  “PMO” as it’s referred to by its friends is just about an hour north of Grand Rapids and less than 45 minutes from the Lake Michigan shore city of Ludington.

PMO is a condominium RV park where the “campers” actually own their lot and pay annual dues to the association for maintenance and amenities.  Some of the owners who may be out of town in their RV actually rent out their lot to visitors to the area.  The park has a full-time rental manager to handle these rentals and welcome visitors to the park and to the area.  Sue can be reached at 616-901-4060.

All the lots at PMO are large (at least 50′ x 100′) and all are full hook-up sites with concrete paved and level sites that include free wifi and 36 channels of cable TV.  There are just over 100 sites with asphalt paved streets lined with massive oak trees that offer lots of shade.

Other amenities include a modern clubhouse that offers a fully equipped kitchen, large flat screen TV and plenty of round tables and chairs so that folks can use the room for football parties, card games, or larger family gatherings.

The most popular amenities in the park are definitely the heated pool and hot tub.  Lots of adults and children make good use of these amenities during hot weather.  The picnic pavilion adjacent to the pool provides a great place for gathering and enjoying one of the many pot-luck meals that seem to pop up over the season.

Visitors to the park will find lots of opportunity to meet plenty of other like minded people as they walk or bicycle around the park.  Typically the holiday long weekends (Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day) are the busiest and the most fun in the park.  Although there is no “Activities Director”, folks at the park take it upon themselves to plan activities that attract everyone to attend and participate.

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Overnight rate (for 2017) is only $45 per night and Sue (616-901-4060) will be happy to get you a spot for a night and she can give you all the details about seasonal rates and ownership opportunities as well.

I encourage you to take the opportunity to stay at PM (Pere Marquette) Oaks RV Resort.  Not only are you less than an hour away from Lake Michigan and the beautiful Ludington State Park, but you’re only minutes away from Big Star Lake where you can canoe, kayak, or jet ski and you will be just a hop, skip, and a jump from the famous Pere Marquette River which is one of the premier Rainbow Trout and Steelhead streams in the Midwest.  If you want something a little different, Lake County boasts 47 trout streams and 153 lakes, so there’s surely someplace right for you.

Kathy and I will be heading back to PMO in the spring of 2018 for another workamping season and who knows, … maybe we’ll see you there!

Wishing you smooth roads and sunny skies …

 

 

 

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy
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