Getting in the Spirit

Last night we took up the offer from our friend Heidy to come on down to her home at Green Valley. We met Heidy a few years ago when we and she were both members of the Escapees RV Club Chapter 8 Mexican Connection trip.

Since Heidy’s kitchen is kind of torn apart for new paint and countertops, we all had supper at one of her favorite local family-owned restaurants and then drove on up to Tucson to visit the Tucson Botanical Gardens for their holiday light display.

The weather was perfect, in the 50’s and the hour or so we spent there walking through the gardens was beautiful. The gardens opened at 6 pm and admittance was by prepaid tickets at specific times. This way large groups came in at staggered times as the previous group(s) left. I’d say they let in about 300-400 visitors at a time.

Here’s a gallery of pictures and videos. We talked with one of the employees and he told us that many of the larger trees take weeks to install all the lights and they have to remove them every year so as not to grow into the bark.

Many of the lights changed color as you walked through and many others were timed to coincide with the music that played throughout the gardens. It was a great way to enjoy the holiday and reminisce about how we’ve spent Christmas pasts.

Right now we’re all up and showered enjoying our morning coffee and a little later this morning were going to head over to the Country Fair White Elephant, a local resale shop to see what kind of goodies they might have that would work either in our new rig in Arizona or the house back in Ohio. Now that we’ve decided to keep the house for our summer home, we will be more comfortable with spending some on furnishings and decorating.

I was too awe struck to think about taking any pictures of the White Elephant resale shop in Green Valley, Arizona south of Tucson. It’s a huge building where they must have at least 40 volunteers on duty every day of the week. The parking lot was packed, probably a hundred or so cars and this was on a TUESDAY! Heidy told us it’s like this every day.

All of the “merchandise” is sorted/grouped by type; furniture, rugs, tools, shoes, sports equipment, etc. If you find an item you like, just flag down one of the roaming clerks (who are very friendly and helpful by the way) and they’ll write up the item, lead you to the check out counter where you pay for the item(s), and then one of their “pickers” moves your purchases to the loading dock where you’ll have them loaded for your trip home.

Heidy found a great little solid walnut drop-leaf table. It’s got a drop leaf on each side so when it’s folded it’ll go in her hallway and only take up a space about 1 foot by 3 feet. The spindle legs are lathe-turned and fold out to support the table on all four sides. It looks like something that was made in the ’30’s or ’40’s. Once Heidy gets it cleaned up, it’ll be a wonderful addition to her home there in Green Valley.

Heidy's table is similar to this one except that hers has rectangular leafs

Heidy’s table looks similar to this one I grabbed off Google Images except that hers has rectangular leafs instead of half-round. That way her table is square when it’s opened instead of round.

The special thing about this store is that all of the items are donated and the $1,500,000 plus annual sales are donated to local charities and food banks. It’s quite an operation and it’s fun to see how everyone there (buyers and volunteers alike) are having such a good time.

Here’s the link to their “About” page on their web site

Since we only took the Lexus down to her place, once we fit the table in the trunk there wasn’t a whole lot of room left, but we did manage to push in a cute little lamp we bought for $10

along with a western style hat for Kathy ($6) that’ll fit her just fine for our upcoming “Western Days” here at the park along with a pretty large wall hanging ($25) that’ll be a nice accent to the living room area rug and loveseat that are in our home back in Mt Gilead.

As we drove away I joked (maybe not) to the girls that if/when we come back next year I’ll rent a U-haul!

Campground Review – Kendall Campground USACE Jamestown KY

Kendall is a United States Army Corp of Engineers campground.  USACE campgrounds are most often built as a recreation feature upon completion of a flood project such as the building of a reservoir, dam and/or hydroelectric powerhouse facility.  Such is the case here.  Kendall campground is laid out immediately adjacent to Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery (and Visitor Center) and just a few hundred feet downstream of the Wolf Creek Dam.

There are actually two campgrounds here, Kendall and the Kendall Annex.  Kendall has 77 electric only sites laid out in two heavily wooded loops with 2 bathhouses and 2 dump stations. The sites are packed gravel, mostly 50-60 feet long, and level.  There are a few pull through sites but the vast majority are back-in sites. 

The annex loop is about a half mile to the north (you will pass the road to the annex when you come to the main camp entrance or the Visitor Center).  The annex has 40 electric only sites, a dump station, a bath house, and a free laundry facility.

Site 13 at Kendall Campground-Wolf Creek Dam-Jamestown, KY

The video below shows water being released through the sluice. Even though the lake level is down, they release water that subsequently hits the concrete wall and forces the water up into the air. This aerated water is then sent downstream to keep the fish healthy.

From the main Kendall camp it’s a short walk to the dam, splash pad, the snack bar, the hatchery, and the Visitor Center.

The pictures below show us enjoying our walk to the snack bar.

We’ve stayed here twice (once in 2020 and now in September of ’23) and appreciate the calm quiet. Now that school is back in session, campers here are mostly “senior citizen” fishermen (and women). However, when Thursday afternoon came around, the families with all their little ones came in and “took over”! The rest of the weekend was filled with kids on bicycles (w/ training wheels), tricycles, skateboards. And dogs along with Mom & Dad riding their golf carts all over. The lesson learned is … don’t go camping on a weekend!

And remember, all the Army Corp campgrounds qualify for the “America the Beautiful” Senior Interagency Lifetime 50% discount. This park, and the next one we are going to camp at (Defeated Creek TN) cost us only $18/night vs the standard $36 nightly fee while Maumelle in Little Rock is only $12/night with the Senior Interagency Lifetime Pass.

Seniors can buy the lifetime discount pass for only $80.  When we bought ours a few years ago, the cost was only $10, but they’ve since raised it to $80.  If you think you MIGHT camp a couple nights in a National park, US Forest Service park, or other national inter-agency park, you’d better buy your pass now before they raise the price again. Here’s the discount pass link again.

Here at Jamestown, there’s the Wolf Creek Dam that holds back the water that forms the man-made resevoir Lake Cumberland. Not only does Lake Cumberland provide miles and miles of recreation water, but also flood control and electric power for the area provided by the six hydro-electric generators. Although the powerhouse is only open on a very limited basis for pre-arranged tours, you can drive across the top of the dam on U.S. Route 127 and get a pretty good view of the dam from either side. Continuing on down south on 127 will get you to a couple different routes to Dale Hollow Lake State Park at Burkesville KY where we volunteer camp hosted spring of 2021.

Here’s the link to the Wikipedia link about Wolf Creek Dam and some pictures of the dam from the overlook on the south side.

Here’s a link to The Visitor Center and National Fish Hatchery. They have some nice interactive displays inside not only about the hatchery, but also about wildlife in the area and a little about the dam & powerhouse. Here’s a few pictures from inside. Click on any of the pictures to get a larger view.

And lastly, if you’d like to get more of any idea of the layout and the sites at Kendall, go ahead and watch this short video shot by the dashcam as we head to the dump station.

That’s all for now. Until next time, be good to one another and to yourself.

A great trip back home

We left our new “Lighthouse friends” on Sunday and headed down U.S. 23 a couple hours to Tawas Point State Park where we camped for the next two nights alongside our long-time friends Norm and Alice.

The four of us at Tawas Point

We became good friends back in the mid 70’s when Norm and I began working for Xerox fixing copiers in downtown Detroit.  We married our (now still) sweethearts the same year, bought our first homes the same year, and each helped to bring two beautiful babies (a boy and girl each) into this world.

During our time together at Tawas, we ate, we drank, we rode our bikes to the lighthouse and we drove into town for ice cream 🍨 of course!

Don’t we look smashing?
Tawas Point lighthouse undergoing repairs

We could’ve easily spent a couple more days with Norm and Alice at Tawas, but we had to continue toward home as we needed to get our house in Ohio ready for the traveling nurse who would be renting from us starting September 1st.

A few months ago when I had written about our upcoming volunteer gig at the lighthouse in Rogers City, I got a message from one of my grade school friends.  Kevin told me that they now live on a lake at Oscoda, Michigan.  We made plans to meet up for lunch as we would be passing through on our way home.

Kevin and Colleen

Although our visit was brief, it was great to meet up and renew our friendship.  We committed to being up in their neck of the woods again and making a point of looking them up for a longer visit next  time. Thanks for reaching out to us guys!

We tried to meet up with a couple other schoolmates from the Class of ’72, Tom who was actually camping at Tawas Point the week before we got there and Diane who is now living at Hubbard Lake. Unfortunately, although we messaged each other trying to make it work, it just didn’t work out. Thanks for reaching out to us guys … hope we can try again sometime.

Although we could’ve driven straight through from Oscoda Michigan to Mt Gilead Ohio in one stretch, we decided to boondock at one of our preferred dry camping locations.

Our stop for the night at Cabelas

Cabela’s at Dundee Michigan has HUGE parking lots and the one in the back of the store by the loading docks allows us to park alongside a very large retention pond that makes for a quiet and beautiful rest spot. Although there were a few trucks parked a few hundred feet away, they never kept us from a restful night.

Since we only had about ten days to get the house ready for Tara (the traveling health professional) and we needed to pack the coach for our upcoming trip to Arizona, we were going to park it at David and Lisa’s house.  Turned out however they were having a big garage sale this weekend.  So instead we were lucky enough to snag a site at Mt Gilead State Park, for the weekend. It’s a great little heavily shaded campground with both paved full hook-up sites and gravel electric only sites.

The next few days kept us busy between me going back to work M-W-Fridays, moving our personal items out of the house and into storage in preparation for our renter, and moving other “stuff” from the house to the coach in preparation for our 6 month stay at Rovers Roost in Arizona.  The final day Kathy kept busy dusting, vacuuming, and mopping while I got a badly needed haircut, took a bunch of broken-down cardboard boxes to the recycling center, and dropped off a few things at the local Goodwill store.

After the garage sale we moved our home on wheels up to David and Lisa’s just outside of town (Mt Gilead) where up on the hill it’s always breezy and there’s a nice oak tree right outside our windshield that shades the morning sun from heating the coach too early in the day.

There’s always a little anxiety about change and moving down the road. But we make a plan and start working through it. So far things are working out nicely.

Thanks to David and Lisa’s hospitality, we’ll be here for a few weeks before heading to Arizona for the winter. We’re looking forward to a relaxing, enjoyable (and uneventful) trip west. Stayed tuned for more.

Goodbye to new friends

Last night we sat around the campfire getting to know our new friends a little more before they had to leave in the morning. The old crew pulls out by Monday noon (lighthouse is closed in Mondays) and the new crew pulls in Monday afternoon.

From left to right; Wendy, Belinda, and Terry. Danny and Marilyn were packing for their morning departure

It was great that we were able to pull in here a few days early as we learned not only about our new job responsibilities but also about the nearby things to see and do (and eat!) while we are here in the Rogers City area.

Terry and Belinda pulling out headed to the Soo Locks

This coming week is the annual Nautical Festival in town and it’s a big celebration with loads of scheduled activities drawing thousands from the surrounding area and bringing in lots of pleasure craft to the harbor. We are expecting big crowds this week at the lighthouse. We shouldn’t be bored!

Later today our new co-workers (3 couples) will pull in and we will all have our orientation and training Tuesday morning.

We’re looking forward to another great volunteer experience. Since we hit the road in 2016, we’ve been blessed with not only seeing a great portion of our country and all the beauty and majesty it has to offer, but we’ve been able to make so many new friends along the way.

More to follow over the next few days.

Back to Northern Michigan

Although we’ve hit a lot of our beautiful country over the last six years on the road, it seems that our hearts often lead us back to northern Michigan.

Michigan (the Detroit area) is where Kathy and I were raised, married, bought our first home, and saw our children through their early years in grade school.

Our early vacations often involved throwing the kids and the dog in the van and driving up to Kalkaska where Grandma and Grandpa Baldwin had retired to. It was a low cost trip away from work and the hectic city downstate and provided my mom and dad with a handyman (me) to take care of the list of tasks that dad kept adding to that he could no longer take care of himself.

But when we have the opportunity to revisit the memories in Michigan, we always choose to do so. We have a lot of fond memories of great times with family and friends.

You might remember that we got off the road in early 2022 to head back to Mt Gilead Ohio from Arizona to help our daughter Sara heal from her sudden serious illness.

That took us through September of ’22 when we could have returned to Arizona for the winter, but we decided we’d stay in Ohio for the winter and get our hip surgeries completed.

In October of ’22 our son in law Stu wanted to make a fishing trip to northern Michigan so we naturally tagged along in our motorhome and made a family trip of it. You can read the post on that trip here. Norm and Alice, our old friends from my Xerox days came along and camped with us. We all had a great time catching up and telling stories.

Then in December of ’22 Kathy and I both had our hip surgeries. Mine was a new total right hip with a pretty quick recovery and hers was a torn left hip tendon repair which required nearly two full months of healing and rehab taking us through February of ’23. By that time we were well into winter and decided we would stay in OH through the summer and into fall ’23 when we would head back to Arizona for the winter.

To keep from getting bored and to give me a little spending money, during our time in Ohio I work part time for the county transporting patients to medical appointments.

Mid June of ’23 we decided to get the coach out of storage and make a trip up to see my sister Betsy and brother in law Bob in Owosso, Michigan. It’s about a 5 hour trip. Since the coach had been in storage for more than a year at this point, we thought it wise to take it on a short shake-down cruise. And we’re so glad we did!

On our way back from Owosso the last 50 miles or so found us in “limp mode” barely doing 30 mph. Ugh!

So into the shop she went. We drove the car back to Mt Gilead and waited (me not so patiently). Two more shops and three weeks later we finally had a resolution. Turns out the fuel tank (95 gallons) had a lot of rust and algae in it. Both are caused by excess moisture sitting in the tank during extended periods of storage. The rust and algae plugged up not only the fuel filter but the lines as well. The solution to this problem is to always top off the tank just before placing your rig in storage.

But by mid-July and thanks to Great Lakes Truck Center in Monroeville, Ohio where we were in the shop for about four days waiting on parts. New fuel tank and associated parts. We finally got back on the road headed to Ludington Michigan.

We then moved on to Ludington to attend an RV rally sponsored by our Escapees RV Club Great Lakes Chapter. There were about 30 rigs there from all over the tri-state. We had the opportunity to meet some new friends and visit with “old” friends we’ve met across the country too.

Larry & Robyn along with their son (home from college) Caleb

After the Ludington rally we moved 4 hours over to the east side of the state. We settled in at Alpena where we could stay until Friday morning when the “weekend warriors” descend on the campground. This is a very common occurrence as most folks have only the weekends to take a break with the family and head to the local camp or lake cottage.

Our site at Campers Cove, Alpena

This was a stop to give us time to catch up on our grocery shopping (we have a small 9 cu ft fridge) and find the local laundromat. We did take a drive over to the Thunder Bay Marina and enjoyed looking at all the yachts along with a large cruise ship in the distance heading south on Lake Huron.

As we walked the downtown streets of Alpena we came across a nice little park in between a couple businesses. I wanted to share this picture of the wall mural. Note the large 3D fish in the mural! Pretty cool, eh?

We got a really special and pleasant surprise after we arrived here at Alpena. I had posted on my Facebook page that we were here and almost immediately I received a message from an “old” friend of ours when we lived in Redford Twp MI pre-1984. What a blast from the past! Tim reached out to us to let us know that he and his wife Nancy now have a home near Harrisville, MI about 40 miles south of here. We made arrangements to enjoy a beautiful evening re-kindling our friendship over a wonderful dinner at an upscale Italian restaurant in Alpena. It was great to spend time with them both and we look forward to seeing them again when we will very likely be back up here in a few years.

I’m usually pretty good about taking pictures, but we were so busy talking that I totally forgot – my bad.

We were intending to move tomorrow morning over to Emerick Park Campground at Hillman MI while we wait until we can get into our spot at the lighthouse, but I just got an email from our supervisor at the lighthouse and he has an empty spot now so we are going to head on up to 40 Mile Point Lighthouse tomorrow.

More to follow after we settle in up there.

Summer camping in Michigan with friends and family

This is a post I wrote back in late October and THOUGHT I had published, but just found it in my DRAFTS folder. Better late than never.

When our daughter Sara became seriously ill in early 2022, we made a bee-line trip back to Ohio from Arizona to help her through the recovery process.

It’s now summer and Sara is doing so much better. She’s the best and happiest we’ve seen her in 20 years.

Sara and Stu

Since Stu and Sara sold their Mt Gilead home in April, we’ve all been living together in one of our small two bedroom rental homes in the village. It’s “cozy” but it’s got a great attached garage for the guys to play in and a fenced yard for the dogs w/a concrete patio so the girls can sun themselves while keeping an eye on the little 4 legged mischief makers.

Our Mt Gilead home where the four of us lived May to September 2022

As our lives got more and more back to normal, we yearned for more “normal” activities. One of these was Stu’s desire to go fishing in northern Michigan again as he had the year before.

Sara wanted to go along, but the idea of being out on the lake all day really wasn’t her idea of fun – nor was waiting in the motel room all day for Stu to come back with the car towing the boat. Quite the conundrum.

Kathy and I proposed the idea of us tagging along and setting up camp in a local campground that could also provide a rental camper for the two of them and the dogs. We found a great little campground called Campers Cove RV Park & Canoe Livery where we got sites just a few hundred feet apart. As an added bonus Stu’s mom Barb came along as well!

Our site along the canal heading out to the lake
Location of Campers Cove near Alpena Michigan

We set our camping trip for October and when I mentioned that to a Facebook friend, another one of our “old friends” (not THAT kind of “old” really but friends we’ve been since the early 70’s) suggested they might come along since we hadn’t seen each other in a few years. Great idea!

Kathy at Stu, Sara and Barb’s camper. The little gal is Dulaney

What a great time we had camping in northern Michigan enjoying the fall colors, the cool weather, the nearly empty campground, the crackling of the campfire every day and night, along with great food provided and cooked by our friends Norm and Alice. What a treat!

Chef Norm grilling up the innards for our burrito dinner while Sara awaits

Our relationship with Norm & Alice started when Norm and I hired in at Xerox as copier service reps in 1973 (I think). We soon became fast friends as we both worked covering the downtown Detroit big office buildings servicing copiers in law firms, government offices, stock brokerages, banks, and others. Back in those days it was only Xerox, Kodak, and IBM in the copier business. It would be a few more years before the influx of the Toshibas, Minoltas, Canons and other Japanese brands into the market.

Norm, Alice, Sara, Stu, Barb, & Kathy

As our friendship grew, the four of us partied together, got married about the same time, went on some trips together, each brought our children into the world (each with a boy and a girl) about the same time. We bought our first homes the same year. They, however have done the smart thing and stayed in that home for nearly 50 years while we’ve moved in and out of nine homes before finally selling the last one and hitting the road in our motorhome in 2016.

Everybody’s favorite pastime at the fire
Ooooh … S’mores Sticky fingers

We didn’t just sit around the campfire and feed our faces for three days however. While Stu went off fishing, we made a couple day trips to see the Mackinac Bridge and visit a couple lighthouses too.

Herb, Alice, Norm, Barb, Kathy, and Sara @ The Old Mackinac Lighthouse

Kathy and I are going to be volunteering late summer of ’23 as guest lighthouse keepers at 40 Mile Point Light near Rogers City, MI. Since we were pretty darn close, we decided to swing on by and scope out the place!

Sara and Barb getting ready to head on in for their self-guided tour of the lighthouse

We couldn’t have asked for better weather. The sunny warm days faded to cooler afternoons and evenings. Time together with wonderful old friends and our family really was a special time telling stories of times past and just enjoying each other’s company.

Stu and Barb enjoying some time together playing golf

As we prepare to stay in Mt Gilead for the winter so that I can get my second hip replacement, we reminisce about our six years on the road workamping and camp hosting.

We’re so glad that we made the decision to quit working early (at 62), sell the house and hit the road. The places we’ve gone and especially the wonderful lasting friendships we’ve made along the way would never have happened if we stayed home – working or retired.

Some of the places we’ve at least spent the night along the way

But for now we will be content to stay in Ohio to get some medical issues taken care of, spend the summer of ’23 in/near here and then head to Arizona and spend next winter with our “other” family there.

Replacing Our Genset Auto-Transfer Switch

I wrote a couple months ago about our power pedestal problem and the diagnosis of the failure of the Genset Auto-Transfer Switch.

As I detailed in that post, I needed to hotwire around the transfer switch in order to get power to the coach while I waited to get the new one.

The transfer switch was made by Intellitec and I found that part number (the 300 model) is obsolete. But after talking with Chris at M&M RV Electronics (www.mmrvelectronics.com/) in Ohio I found that the new model 400 was available. Once we got to our winter RV site in Arizona I ordered the 400 from M&M.

This blog post along with the You Tube video (below) explains just what the transfer switch is and how it works (for those of you who might be interested!)

It’s really a very simple device consisting of (3) four post terminal strips, (2) double pole – double throw relays (with 110 vac coils), a small circuit board that is a 15-second delay circuit, and the enclosure.

Each of the three terminal strips have four screws. One for ground, the second for hot leg one, the third for neutral, and the fourth for hot leg two.

Terminal strip one (farthest to the left) is wired to the onboard diesel generator

Terminal strip two (in the center) is wired to the shore power and,

Terminal strip three (far right) is wired to the coach 110v power in.

The only purpose of the assembly is to automatically select EITHER shore power or generator power to supply 110 vac power to the coach.

When there is NO power applied from the shore power connection and the generator is NOT running, the two relays are both in the de-energized position and all four contacts (two on each relay) will pass power (when applied) from the shore power cord to the coach. The relays will stay in this position (de-energized) and each of the four relay contacts (GND, Line1, Neutral, Line2) will provide continuity from shore power to the coach.

If/when the generator is started the small circuit board in the upper left corner starts a 15 second countdown. The purpose of this delay is to give the generator time to come up to full operating speed. After the 15 second delay, the two relays on the board are then energized and power is switched (on all four contacts) from shore power to generator power.

As long as the generator is running these relays stay energized and power to the coach is supplied from the generator (even if shore power is still plugged in and energized).

When the generator is powered down, the relays once again move to the de-energized position and power is once again passed from shore power to the coach.

The video below gives a better visual of how things work.

Genset Auto Transfer Switch Function and Operation

I’m glad you stopped by to read this post and watch the video, I hope you found some value here.

Thanks again and be safe out there .. we hope to meet up with you down the road!

Herb and Kathy

Replacing Our Motorhome Windshield (Again)

This is the second time we’ve replaced our motorhome windshield. The first was right after we bought it in 2016.

We had developed a stress crack in the upper right corner of the driver’s windshield the first time. But this time while we developed another stress crack (in the same location), we also had two large long cracks that had started as a result of rocks hitting the windshield.

One of the long cracks starting at the lower right

When I first noticed one of the long cracks we were on our way from Missouri to South Dakota. It seemed to be getting longer, but I couldn’t be sure so I put a small piece of scotch tape at the end of the crack on the inside so I could monitor how fast it might be moving. And it was moving right along! You can see the tape in the picture above.

This crack started up at the top right corner

We put in a claim with our insurance company and they promptly ordered the correct glass from a company called Custom Glass Solutions in Ohio and placed the install order with Chris at Arizona RV Glass in Phoenix. When the glass arrived at Chris’ shop in Phoenix, I got the call to schedule installation.

This video shows the entire removal and install process from start to finish

Chris explained to me that stress cracks like the one we had in the upper right corner are pretty common. This is caused by too much flexing of the coach chassis. The flexing can be caused when trying to level the coach on an uneven site or when entering/exiting a fuel stop and driving diagonally across the bump at the curb … This causes the chassis to twist and as a result put too much strain on the windshield corners. He suggests to always try to turn in head on if possible.

We’ll try to be more careful from now on, but often it’s just not possible to miss all the potholes and bumps you come across on the open road.

In many older motorhomes like ours the windshield curves around the corners as compared with many of the newer motorhomes I’ve noticed the windshield seems to be more “flat” all across. I think maybe this curve around may be contributing to the problem.

I just hope this doesn’t happen too often … even with comprehensive coverage on our auto insurance policy, this can get pretty expensive over time between deductibles and premium increases. I called around before placing the claim and if I were to buy the windshield outright and pay for installation ourselves prices ranged from a low of $1700 to a high of $2300!

On another subject, we’re heading to Yuma tomorrow so that we can easily walk across the border into Los Algodones. My plan is to spend some time visiting the eye doctor and getting new eyeglasses along with picking up some prescription drugs at one of the pharmacies. We will also enjoy visiting our friends Paul and Chris who are spending the winter at the Escapees KOFA RV Park in Yuma. Our friends Jim and LuAnn left us here at the Roost this morning and we will meet up with them at KOFA as well. Looking forward to the six of us having a good time!

Until next time, take care of each other (and yourself) and we wish you well.

Herb & Kathy

Our Trek West (Installment 2)

Tuesday morning we left the Shiawassee County Fairgrounds and heading to the Ludington Michigan area. We pulled in to our Harvest Hosts location just north of U.S. 10 and about 15 miles east of the Lake Michigan shore at Ludington. We’d been in this area of Michigan many times over the past 50 years or so … starting with trips with the family as we were kids growing up, then spending our honeymoon in northern Michigan and most recently volunteering at Pere Marquette Oaks RV Park during the summers of 2017 and 2018. So this in some ways is “Old Home Week”.

As a member of Harvest Hosts, we are able to stay in driveways and parking areas of wineries, distilleries, museums, galleries, and other small businesses who invite RV’ers to park on their property overnight. It is suggested (although not mandatory) that the traveler returns the favor by purchasing something from the host.

We pulled in to Craig’s place, tucked into the tall pines of northern Michigan. His gallery, just across the driveway from the house, is filled with all sorts of hand made woodcraft. Loads of small handcrafted smoking pipes, kitchen spoons and spatulas, and cutting boards along with much larger artwork. We bought a really nice mitten-shaped (Michigan) maple cutting board. We admired other pieces but living in a motorhome, we just don’t have the luxury of square footage for larger items.

Once we parked the rig at Craig’s place, we unhooked and drove the car about 15 miles south to PM Oaks at Baldwin. There we were to meet Kathy’s cousin and her husband who we hadn’t seen in about twenty years or so. They used to live in southeast Michigan (where we were from) but have lived in Traverse City for nearly a quarter century now.

We met at PMO as they have a nice shelter/pavilion along with an air conditioned clubhouse we could sit and visit at without feeling as though we were being rushed to leave like might happen if we met somewhere in a restaurant.

By now it was getting to be late afternoon, so we decided we would leave PMO and meet down the road for an early dinner. After that they would move on home to Traverse City and we would head on back to Craig’s place for the night Well ……..

That all SEEMED like a good plan but, … as I turned the key on the car … crank crank crank … but no start. We sent Sue and Loren on home as we had friends there at PMO who could lend us jumper cables, a ride back to our rig, and more.

We had the car towed to a shop down the street for repair, had dinner at Chuck & JoAnne’s (our friends at PMO) and then finally settled in for the night. The shop said they’d get the car in about 11a.m. on Wednesday and I reminded them that I needed to know ASAP on Wednesday if we’d get it back that day because we had an already paid reservation on the SS Badger to cross Lake Michigan on Thursday. If it was not to be that we’d be fixed in time for the trip, I needed to cancel in hopes that we’d get at least some of our money back.

Wednesday morning I connected with a fellow high school graduate of ours (Class of ’72) who, as it turned out had in the past couple of years purchased a former lakeside resort (3 cabins) on Lake Cecilia just down the road from PMO. We had connected on Facebook months earlier and made plans to get reacquainted (we hadn’t seen each other or even talked since 1972) on this trip. Because our car was in the shop, Rich drove on over to PMO and picked us up. We spent all morning and into the afternoon having a wonderful visit with Rich and his wife Diane at their beautiful cabin(s) by the lake. They’ve done a wonderful job remodeling/restoring while keeping the 1940’s vintage lakeside cabin theme. We envy their drive and their creativity – they’ve got a charming place.

I’m just angry with myself that I didn’t get any pictures of Rich and Diane or their lakeside getaway.

Afternoon found us back at PMO enjoying an early dinner with our friends Chuck and Joanne along with Mike and Deb. It was great to have the opportunity to reconnect with all four of them again. During our meal the shop called to say the car was fixed and we could pick it up anytime.

Turned out that the A/C compressor had seized up and trying to crank the starter over and over to get the car started then burned out the starter. So a new starter and a/c compressor was needed.

We also found out that an RV site right behind Chuck and JoAnne’s would be available for us tonight so Chuck chauffeured me up to get the coach and bring it back down to PMO where we could plug in for the night. Then Chuck drove me up to the shop to get the car. After supper Kathy and I took advantage of the opportunity to get in the pool and just unwind and relax for a couple hours. All the stress of the last day or two just melted away knowing the car was fixed, we were parked in a spot where we could have a/c and we would easily make it to the ferry the next morning.

Again, I’m so sorry I never took any pictures of our friends at PMO or our time together.

Once unloaded at Manitowoc, we moved up just a few miles, parked our rig at the Elks Lodge for the night, and drove the car up to Green Bay where we met our good friends Forrest and Mary for lunch at Mackinaws Grill.

We had a nice, although brief visit. We caught each other up on where our travels had taken us over the last few months. Forrest and Mary have an RV lot just 4 spaces away from us at Rover’s Roost in Casa Grande AZ and they had come to visit us this past June while we were camp hosting at Dale Hollow Lake State Park in Kentucky. It was great to reconnect with them. Once again, I neglected to get a picture of Forrest and Mary too!

We went back to the Elks Lodge late afternoon, ran down the street to pick up some necessities at the local Walmart and then came back and enjoyed making new friends in the lodge. They welcomed us with open arms. We had a nice visit along with a couple drinks but it had been a busy day so we excused ourselves early, said our goodbyes and thank you’s and retired early to our home on wheels.

The next day found us driving 350 miles from Manitowoc Wisconsin to Mason City Iowa where we met up with Paul and Chris who we had first met when we were Workamping at Rainbow’s End RV Park in Livingston Texas. They had just (last week) finished up the sale of the family farm in Maynard Iowa, then they visited the Winnebago factory in Forest City Iowa to get a few small things taken care of on their (new to them) 2012 Winnebago Meridian 40′ motorhome.

Paul promised us that we would enjoy the best steam of our lives that night and they were right! My filet was “Melt In Your Mouth” good

Since Paul grew up in Mason City, he knew what to see and do for the short time we had available to us. We visited the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake where Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and others had performed at on February 2, 1959 before taking a flight to their tragic deaths in a nearby cornfield.

Here are some pix of the walls (and ceiling) of the “green room” where the performers prepared to go on stage. See how many signatures of the hundreds that are on these walls that you might recognize!

That’s all for this installment. The next leg of our trip will find us driving 335 miles from Mason City Iowa to Lee’s Summit Missouri. We meet up with friends Ron and Judy for time together along with the four of us visiting our friend Carl and touring his mausoleum.

I’ll fill you all in on that in the next few days.

In the meantime, take care of each other and stay healthy … we wish you well.

Herb & Kathy

Time To Hit The Road Again

It’s been just 3 weeks since my total hip replacement surgery and the rehab is coming along great! I was able to set the walker aside after about 3 or 4 days and every day is better than the day before. If you’re really interested (maybe you’re considering having the surgery) you can read more about my recovery here.

So now we are set to head out from our daughter’s driveway here in Mt. Gilead, OH next Friday August 20th.

We’ve replaced the recliner in the coach with a new one. It takes less floor space, swivels, rocks, and reclines fully and is so much more comfortable than the leather one that came with the coach originally.

We also just had the entire coach washed and waxed. Normally this is a job that I do. I wash it about 5 or 6 times a year and wax it at least yearly. But this time since I am still recovering from my hip surgery, we were fortunate to find a mobile RV detailing service that came to the house and took care of the whole job in about 5 or 6 hours.

We had originally planned on leaving Ohio in early August and taking our time heading to Oregon visiting friends and family along the way and eventually ending up in Garibaldi Oregon to meet up with others from our Escapees RV Club at the Oregon Coast Hangout.

But a few things have changed. We are now going to our niece’s wedding in Michigan and that will not be until August 21st. This means that the rest of our trip will be delayed and if we were to still plan on getting to Oregon by Sept 6th we’d have to skip some of our other planned stops along the way.

Although we were looking forward to meeting up with about 30 other rigs at the Oregon Coast Hangout and seeing a part of the country we’ve never been to before and making new friends, we feel it’s more important to take the trip easy and instead stop along the way to renew old friendships.

Our planned route west as of this date (Aug 12th)

We will start out on Friday August 20th and head up to Addison Oaks Campground in Michigan where we’ll stay for 2 nights while we attend our niece’s wedding and visit with family a bit.

We’ll next head a little west to spend a couple days with my sister and her husband. They live in Owosso, Michigan and while there we’ll be staying at the Shiawassee County Fairgrounds. Betsy and Bob have a beautiful home with plenty of room for us but if you’re a full-time RV’er you can appreciate how we might be more comfortable staying in our own “home on wheels” and then we can just take the car over to their place for the day.

Our third stop for the next two days will be in the Ludington Michigan area. We will be staying at another Harvest Hosts location. We will be in the driveway of a local woodworking artist shop nestled deep in the woods. During the day we will be visiting our friends at Pere Marquette Oaks RV Park near Baldwin Michigan. We worked at PMO during the summers of 2017 and 2018. While there we’ll also hook up with a fellow high school graduate from 1972. I found out recently (on Facebook) that he and his wife just purchased a cottage on a lake just down the street from PMO. We’re also planning on spending some time with Kathy’s cousin Sue and husband Loren who live in the Traverse City are and who we haven’t seen in probably 20 years or more.

The next day will find us boarding the S.S. Badger car ferry and taking the 4 hour ride across Lake Michigan to Manitowoc Wisconsin where we’ll then meet up with our good friends Forrest and Mary who we know as our neighbors when we stay in Arizona at Rovers Roost. They are currently in Wisconsin visiting friends and family as well. We will spend the night at the Elks Lodge in Manitowoc.

Our next stop will be Forest City, Iowa. Forest City is the home of Winnebago Industries. Winnebago is one of the oldest camping trailer and motorhome manufacturers in the U.S. Paul and Chris, who we met while workamping in Livingston Texas in 2016 and have met up elsewhere in the country several times since then. Paul and Chris are in the process of selling the family farm and transitioning to full-time RV living and they’ll be at Winnebago Customer Service getting a few things done to their 40′ motorhome, so what better time for us to stop for a visit. Maybe we’ll get a factory tour while we’re there!

Ron, Kathy, and me posing for the camera

After spending a couple nights at Forest City, we’ll take a little detour off our “head west” trip and move on down to Holden Missouri, just southeast of Kansas City. Holden is the home of our friend Carl who is also a full-time RV’er and who we met on our Mexico caravan trip last winter. The three of us spent a lot of time together during that trip and really enjoyed each other’s company. Carl told us about the Miller Mausoleum that his grandfather had built and he had now inherited. An interesting story so we’re going to visit Carl, tour the historic mausoleum, and while we’re in the area we will also drive to Kansas City and spend a little time with friends Ron and Judy who we worked with at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta in 2018.

After our time at Holden and KC, we’ll start heading back up through Omaha and Sioux Falls to get to Spearfish SD by about Sept 5th or so. Our good friends Matt and Sherry are working once again at DC Booth National Historic Fish Hatchery (where we worked with them in 2019) and we want to spend a couple days with them before they have to leave and head out to Louisiana and Florida for the winter where they’ll be volunteering at Barberville Pioneer Settlement.

That’ll get us through Labor Day at which point we will still have nearly two months before we want to get back to our RV lot at Rover’s Roost in Casa Grande Arizona by November 1st.

We have been in touch with our friends David and Sue (also neighbors at the Roost) who are currently volunteering at Custer State Park. Their gig will come to an end October 1st so it may be that we will caravan (only 2 rigs) around Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada before getting back to Arizona.

Who knows … we’ll just play it as we feel like it as time goes on. We don’t have to be anywhere before November 1st and if we get somewhere and decide we really like the area, then we’ll stay a while longer. If we don’t care for where we’re at, we can turn the key and head down the road a little further.

Until next time … take care of yourselves (and each other) – Be safe and we look forward to updating you a little later down the pike.

Herb & Kathy