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 ūüć® 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.

Tourist Review – Hot Springs SD

Our stay at Angostura gave us the opportunity to spend some time in Hot Springs visiting the local grocery store, the post office, one of the local barbers, the Pioneer Museum, the ACE hardware store, and at least three of the local restaurants more than once each during our stay.

We enjoyed visiting with the locals while we patronized their businesses and sought out opportunities to visit with other “travelers” along the way.

Fall River (also the name of the county) runs right down through downtown from north to south along the main drag. There are very few “new” buildings in town with most having been built in the early 1900’s and many including City Hall, the County Courthouse, the old Evans Hotel, the town school, the old hospital and a host of others were built in the late 1800’s.

These buildings are not only old, but beautiful as well for they are made of the brown-pink colored sandstone mined from one of the local quarries back in the day.

As always, click on any of the thumbnails below to see a larger picture.

Here below are some pictures of the inside of the former Hot Springs School (used until 1963). It is now the home of the Fall River Pioneer History Museum. It’s three stories of classrooms plus a fourth floor attic that they are currently working to rehab into an art studio and gallery for community use. This school is up on the hill overlooking the town and the students had to climb up a couple hundreds steps (I’m guessing) to make it to class.

And today we see Moms and Dads all over the country driving their kids down a hundred foot driveway to sit in temperature controlled comfort while waiting for a school bus to come and pick them up! Remember when our parents would say “Quit complaining, when I was your age we had to walk 5 miles uphill both ways to and from school!” We were led to believe that we had it lucky, but now these kids today got it lucky even more so!

There are a lot more buildings to marvel at in Hot Springs as well as some nice neighborhoods to drive through as well.

With regard to any of the springs in town, we did not take advantage of a visit personally. The Evans Plunge is the largest, oldest, and most popular boasting a 70′ x 200′ indoor hot mineral spring fed pool that is tempered by cool fresh water from the Fall River. Another newer spring and Spa called Moccasin Spring caters to those that desire spa type treatments in addition to their outdoor multi-level soaking pools.

The following paragraph is taken from https://hs-sd.org/history (history of Hot Springs web site)

The biggest development in baths was the Plunge, built by Fred Evans in 1891. The building was constructed of wood, iron, and glass, and covered a pool approximately seventy by two hundred feet. Various slides, diving boards, rafts, and other accessories were provided for the enjoyment of the guests. Evans Plunge is still operating at the same site. In 1893, our sandstone City Hall (still used today), and an impressive sandstone public school building (now the Fall River County Museum) were built. By the end of 1893 the population of Hot Springs was estimated at 3350, and the city had laid more than five miles of sidewalk and graded more than three miles of streets in the preceding three years.”

And what’s traveling across the country without experiencing the local “Mom’n Pop” diners and cafes? I mean “Ya Gotta Eat” right?

We ate breakfast or lunch at; Morning Sunshine Cafe, Upper Crust Diner, Winners Circle Bar and Casino (at the bowling alley), Taco John’s, and the (new) Chicago Street Cafe that’s inside WillieJax Antiques and Pawn Shop.

We enjoyed our stay at Angostura Recreation Area and our frequent visits into Hot Springs (only about 4 miles away) but it’s time to move on down the road and meet up with our friends David and Susan. We will be traveling tandem for about the next month as we make our way back to Arizona for the winter.

So long for now, thanks for riding along and please feel free to leave a comment down below. If you’re not already getting automatic email notification of our new posts, you can look over in the right margin (sidebar) and enter your email address. Then you’ll get a brief email anytime we post an update.

Be good, take care of each other and if you’re on the road … safe travels to you. See you next time.

Herb and Kathy

Camping at School

We’ve really enjoyed using our Boondockers Welcome membership to stay in new and unique places and meet all kinds of interesting folks.

This week, on our way from Arizona to Montana where we will be camp hosting for a couple months at an Army Corp of Engineer campground, we utilized our “BW” membership to once again camp in a driveway of “Friends We Haven’t Met Yet”.

This time was a little different than all the others we’ve stayed at. This time we stayed in a schoolyard!

The old Millard LDS Academy (1910-1923)

Our host was Kevin Caldwell. Kevin and his wife have owned the school property for 8 years now and have been continually restoring it in hopes of one day opening it as a Bed & Breakfast / Event Center and meeting place for the benefit of the community.

The school was completed in 1910 and was originally used as the Millard Latter Day Saints Academy until 1923 when it then became the Hinkley (Utah) High School until 1953.

Over the years the school has been purchased and sold several times and various business ventures have come and gone. In the mid-1970s the Hinckley Elementary School made use of the academy building. It even served as a disco around 1978. The disco, called The Total Eclipse, operated for only about 18 months. In the 1980s, a swimming pool and water slide were built and soon closed again.

Kevin and his wife (whom we didn’t have the opportunity to meet – she was out of town working) along with his teenage children and occasional local labor have done a TON (or five) of work including; removing all the old wood shake roof and installing all new plywood sheeting, felt paper and shingles, stripping all the interior walls of plaster and lathe and building out the inside of the exterior walls with 2X6 studs so that they can be packed with insulation, and installing, taping, and mudding all new drywall.

But before the new drywall could be installed first they gutted all the old “knob & tube” electrical wiring and rewired the entire building to present code, installed all new plumbing throughout including all fresh and waste water lines, installed new gas lines to supply the (3) new gas forced air furnaces (with 4 more to come), and installed extensive solar panels on the gymnasium building adjacent to the main school building.

During the first five years of the project Kevin and his family lived in their Montana 5th Wheel trailer on the property. They were able to move in to the building 3 years ago.

Both Kevin and his wife have full time jobs and they still have 4 children at home to raise and nurture. Part of that nurturing is teaching them a good solid work ethic and helping on the schoolhouse gives them plenty of opportunity to help out, learn new skills, and learn to appreciate their personal accomplishments.

The gymnasium (at this point) only hosts the solar system. Work on the rest of the building will only commence once the main schoolhouse is completed

It was a real treat having the opportunity to meet Kevin and part of their family and see all the work they’re doing to restore this grand old property.

We want to thank them for hosting us and giving us a tour of their project and we wish them all the luck in the future as their dream comes to fruition.

Our rig parked next to the gymnasium. Kell and Karen also pulled in this afternoon and have their rig parked right behind us.

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WOW! What a Blast – Friends We’ve Seen Along The Way

The reason (or so we thought) that we embarked on our full-time RV lifestyle on Labor Day of 2016 was to fulfill our desire to travel and see as much of this beautiful country of ours that we could.

We’ve seen a lot of sites since then, but there’s still so much more to go and we could spend a lot more time in any specific area to allow us to explore more deeply, so it’s very likely we’ll be going back again to many places in future years to do so.

A HIDDEN BENEFIT

But what has really turned out to be a wonderful benefit of traveling and not being on a “vacation” type schedule (running from place to place) is that we’ve been able to meet up with and spend time with family and “old” friends (not to say they are OLD by any means!).

This blog post features some pictures of those we’ve met up with along the way. Some are “NEW” friends and some are our “OLD” friends.

Unfortunately, although I had every intention of taking a “selfie” of us altogether at every meetup, we occasionally parted company without remembering to shoot a pix, so I’m listing those folks as well.¬† If I’ve missed you in this post, I apologize.¬† If you’re reading this and you can send me a picture of yourself, I’d really appreciate it.¬† My email address is herbsells@gmail.com

I know many of you won’t know any of these folks, but I also know it’ll be fun for those that are in the pictures to see some of the others and remember times past along with the brief time we spent together in the last year or so.

I’m going to post the pictures into a collage, you will be able to click on any individual photo to enlarge that particular picture to see a “zoomed in” view.¬† The zoomed-in view will also let you see a brief description of who they are and our relationship.

Old Home Week in S.E. Michigan

We left our “old” home in Mount Gilead, OH on May 1st and headed north to Wixom, MI area where we stayed at Proud Lake Recreation Area State Park for the week. ¬†Our intent was to relax and enjoy the spring weather and see some long-time friends while we were there. ¬†I wrote this earlier post with some pictures of the park. ¬†It was COLD and RAINY nearly all week, but we had a great time nonetheless because we were able to hook up with friends from WAY BACK.

Sandy is the first little girl in the bottom row, I’m the kid in the top row, 3rd from the right, striped long sleeve shirt

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We had wonderful visits with old friends. ¬†Some of these folks we haven’t seen in 30 or 40+ years. ¬†Thanks to Facebook, we’ve been able to reconnect to lost friendships. ¬†It’s so easy as we get busy with our; jobs/kids/school/sports/hobbies/parents/ etc. ¬†to lose touch with those we once considered “very good” if not “best” friends.

We left Proud Lake on Sunday May 7th and had two more visits on our agenda as we continued our travel north to Baldwin, MI for our summer workamping job.

Trip Map From Proud Lake Rec Area to Delton, Spring Lake, Baldwin, MI

Who’s in Delton you ask? ¬†Thanks to Facebook, I was able to find George Williston. ¬†I hadn’t seen or even talked to George since 1960 when my family moved from Detroit out to Redford Township. ¬†I had attended Kindergarten and first grade in Detroit, where I met George. ¬†I lived with my folks and two older sisters on Monte Vista and George lived with his family on Pinehurst, next street over on the other side of the alley. ¬†George and I used the alley as the shortcut from his house to mine.

13116 Monte Vista, Detroit
The home I grew up in from 1954 to 1960 – Now just a shell

It’s a shame to see what the house and the neighborhood have become. ¬†I have some great memories of that home, our neighbors (the McGraw family) where there’s now just an empty lot, and my time playing (and causing a little trouble I’m sure) with my best friend George Williston.

Kathy and I met George and his wonderful wife Kelly where we enjoyed a light lunch in their beautiful home nestled in the woods. ¬†In addition to having been a Wood Shop Industrial Arts teacher, George is also an accomplished writer. ¬† You can order his book “This Tribe of Mine” on Amazon.

After our lunch and a nice walk around the property, we said goodbye to George and Kelly and headed further west and north to Spring Lake, Michigan where we met up with Brian Barker and his wife Connie. ¬†Kathy and I went to Junior High and High School with Brian and we had a lot of great memories to talk about. ¬†I had seen Brian and Connie when they lived in the Cincinnati area back a while but it’s been at least 20 years. ¬†Kathy had never met Connie and hadn’t seen Brian in at least 35 years.

Herb, Kathy, Brian, and Connie

Brian and Connie live in a beautiful home just across from Spring Lake. ¬†Great view and it’s easy to carry their kayaks over for an afternoon cruise.

Again, it was great to spend time with old friends and catch up on some mutual memories.

My next post will be an introduction to Baldwin, MI and Pere Marquette Oaks RV Resort.

That’s all for now. ¬†Stay happy.

First Day in Michigan @ Proud Lake Recreation Area

Our “home” parked in front of the bunkhouse

We left Mount Gilead on Monday morning May 1st.  We had parked in the driveway for the month of April, were able to see our doctors, get our taxes done, attend worship at our church, and have plenty of time to visit with family and good friends.

While we were “home”, we took advantage of the time available to us to sell a lot of what we had left behind when we started this new full-time RV’ing lifestyle last September.

Sara & Stu

Since our daughter and son-in-law were renting the house from us in our absence, it made our departure much easier as we had literally left nearly everything behind.

But now that we have confirmed that this full-time thing is for us (at least for the next few years), we want to sell the house so that we can be totally debt-free.  Selling the house will free up money that will allow us to pay off what little debt we have.  Craigslist and Facebook allowed us to sell thousands of dollars worth of household and yard/garden tools & equipment in very short order.  I sold Dewalt drills, a Mastertow Tow Dolly, Agrifab lawn sweeper, Cushman golf cart, and a whole lot more.  It was amazing how quickly things sold.

We’re not worried about where we might live when the time comes to hang up our keys to the coach. ¬†We still own four rental units in Mount Gilead with great renters in each, but if push comes to shove we could ask any of the tenants to leave and we could take their place.

Another alternative is for us to take advantage of the life-time RV Lot lease program at any of the Escapee’s Co-Op Parks around the south, southwest, and northwest parts of the country. ¬†Depending on the park and the amenities, lifetime leases are available for anywhere from about $7000 to $25,000 (one time payment). ¬†Once the lease is paid, the only on-going costs are electricity and an annual Operating & Maintenance fee that usually runs $600-$1200 yearly. ¬†And the really great part is that when we are “done” with the lot, whether it be 1 year later or 20 years down the road, we turn it back over to the Co-Op and get 100% of our lease money invested back!

But that’s on down the road a bit. ¬†Right now our plan now is to spend a week here in Southeast Michigan where we can visit friends and family that we’ve known for 40 years or more and then we’ll move on up the road at the end of the week to the Grand Rapids and Holland, Michigan areas to see more “old” friends and then up to Baldwin, Michigan (near Ludington) to start our summer workamping job by May 15th.

We are camped at Proud Lake Recreation Area just off Wixom Road in Commerce Twp, MI. ¬†This is just north of I-96 about 5 miles. ¬†There’s about 4700 acres of wooded wilderness here with miles of trails and the campground offers 130 (electric) sites along with a small beach and boat launch. ¬†The shower house was built new in 2016 and offers very attractive and comfortable private bath and shower rooms. ¬†Here’s a slide show of a few pictures of the campground facilities.

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Today (Tuesday May 2nd) we spent a few hours (and lunch at a great Mexican Restaurant) with Jeff & Sandy (Overmeyer) Houghton.  Sandy is the cute little girl with blond curls on the left in the first row (our 2nd grade class picture)

Mrs. Fosmoe’s 2nd grade class, Bulman Elementary

Jeff, Sandy, Kathy, and I all were in High School together and graduated in 1972.

We’ve got more planned for the rest of the week and we’ll fill that in as we go along.

Kathy, Herb, Sandy, & Jeff