Monday, September 24, 2012

Still breathing and still traveling.....

Yes, we are still breathing and still traveling.  We have been so busy and so many of the places we have visited were so poor in coverage we fell very far behind in our posts.  I tried to catch up, but when I tried to upload the next one it was going to take over an hour so, we fell farther behind.  This will soon be rectified for we are almost at the end of our journey.  As of this date we have just a few stops left and are within 800 miles of home (Savannah).  Estimated return time is October 16th.  Once back, we will rest a bit then catch up on here.  Many, many posts and many exciting stories to tell so, hold on a few more weeks and then the deluge of posts should begin.  We are tired and are looking forward to settling down.  Stay tuned.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Mackinaw City, MI to Wright-Patterson Air Base, Dayton, OH (Sep 10-11, 2012)

Our next destination is Wright-Patterson Air Base in Dayton, OH. Because this is nearly a 500 mile trip we'll  break it up into 2 segments staying overnight at the Pine Ridge RV Park in Birch Run, Michigan before completing the journey to Dayton. This will be a short stay.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Mackinaw City, Michigan ( September 5-10, 2012)

Mackinaw City, Michigan piqued our interest as we were looking for another base camp to explore more of northern Michigan. We knew it was a tourist town, but since the Labor Day crowd had dispersed and school was back in session, we hoped the tourist throng would be diminished somewhat.

We decided on a KOA close to the town as our parking spot. Being only only 2.5 miles from the town center, this gave us the opportunity to do a lot of exploring. We were planning on being here 4 full days so we felt that would be sufficient to see things close and do a road trip down the east coast of Lake Michigan.

Home Sweet Home

Our first full day we visited the town several times. Once in the morning by ourselves and then again in the afternoon with the boys.This worked out great and we all had the opportunity to see and do a lot of things.

The town, itself, is a typical tourist town. Lots of souvenir shops, restaurants, bars, and all the other touristy things. It, also, was the terminus for the Mackinac Island ferry. We were very interested in touring the island, but since we did not have our bicycles (motor vehicles are not allowed on the island), we felt it would be too much to walk that distance once there. Hopefully, the next time we will come prepared.

Looking west on East Central Ave.

In the afternoon, with the boys, we walked along the shore of Lake Huron and the old Mackinac Point Lighthouse. This park was exceptionally beautiful. There was a good breeze and with the warm weather it had a lulling effect on all of us. The view of the Mackinac Bridge was spectacular.

We figured, since we were alone on the shore, this would be a good time to check off the final lake of the 5 Great Lakes. We had checked the signs around the park and none said dogs were not allowed in the water, so we got their long tethers and towels and in they went. They did not stay long, however, for like Lake Superior, the water was very cold. But to them it was worth it. Now they have the bragging rights to say they have swam in all 5 of the Great Lakes.

We headed back to the RV and made a camp fire so the boys would dry off a bit. They love lying next to a good fire when they are wet. A perfect ending to a great day.

Mackinac Point Lighthouse

Mackinac Bridge

The next morning we went back into town and browsed through the shops, had an early lunch at an Irish Pub, and headed back to the RV park. The morning had been overcast and a chilly 60°F with rain in the forecast for the afternoon. We wanted to make sure the boys would be able to get some exercise before the rain started.

Morning came with another overcast sky and some drizzle, but that wasn't going to stop our planned road trip to Traverse City. During this trip we followed any road that was close to the shore. As in previous trips, this was not possible for most of the shoreline is privately owned. However, there were many places one could see the lake.We picked up North Lakeshore Dr. (M-119) just south of the Wilderness State Park. This is a scenic bi-way and is call the "Tunnel of Trees". This was a beautiful drive and we could just imagine what it would like with the soon-to-come fall colors.

When the M-119 ended in the town of Petosky we picked up U.S 31 and continued south through numerous villages and towns to Traverse City. This entire area  is based on summer resort activities. It is a very scenic part of the state. Would like the opportunity to explore this whole area more.

The day continued to be very overcast, drizzly, and rainy at times. This prevented us from doing much outside, in fact, the few times we got out of the truck was only for potty breaks, a quick lunch stop, and a few walks for the boys between the rain drops. We had chalked up a bit over 100 miles so far and with mid-afternoon approaching, and with no signs of the weather clearing, we turned east and headed for I-75. This made for a long day, but it was a great drive with beautiful scenery.

Our last full day we stayed put in the RV park busying ourselves with housekeeping/laundry chores, some reading and blog posting, and, of course, playing with the boys. This stop turned out to be quite pleasant and we agreed to come back this way again.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Michihistrigan RV Park (Upper Peninsula, MI) to Mackinaw City, MI (September 5, 2012)

This was a short drive so we took our time leaving. The 65 miles took about 90 minutes and we rolled into the Mackinaw City KOA just after noon time. More exploring to do.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Michihistrigan RV Park (Upper Peninsula, MI) (August 29 to September 5, 2012)

The Michihistrigan RV Park is located on Route 2 that runs east-to-west on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We chose this park due to its central location on the peninsula and, also, because it had a restaurant/bar on the premises. It is out in the middle of nowhere, so it seemed. The closest sizable town was Manistique, MI, located 30 miles to the west. We booked our stay for a week for Labor Day weekend was coming up and we wanted to stay off the roads. I am glad we did stay the week for as we were setting up I noticed a problem.

(Click on the image to see it full screen and in High Definition) 

I, normally, do not hook up the sewage lines during the initial setup. No need to empty the tanks for at least several days. They are big tanks and can hold 5-6 days without emptying. This time, however, I did hook up the sewage line and in doing so I noticed water dripping from the undercarriage. That is never a good sign. The drip was in the center of the RV and located near the dump valves. Because the undercarriage is sealed I could not determine where the leak was coming from. I decided to wait until the morning and investigate further.

The next morning the drip had gotten worse and it was obviously coming from the black water tank. Yuck. It had to be that one. Our RV has three 42 gallon waste water holding tanks: one for the kitchen sink (gray water), one for the shower/bathroom sink (gray water), and one for the toilet (black water). All three have separate dump valves emptying into one sewer hose connector. To locate exactly where this leak was would involve removing the undercarriage cover. Although not an extremely hard job, it is very time consuming. Better get started.

By mid-morning I had the cover dropped and began searching for the leak. Before I could get under the trailer, though, I had to wash down the inside of the undercarriage cover for it was wet with sewage water. Once done I was able to see where the leak was. It seems the plastic weld connecting the tank to the discharge pipe had failed. There was a two inch crack along the weld and it would leak when the pressure began to build up. Quick fix was to keep the black water dump valve open so pressure would not build up inside the tank. In the meantime I had to research on how to fix this. It was obvious I could not replace the tank here. OK Google, do your stuff. After several hours Googling and reading I decided to seal the joint with fiberglass. OK. Where do I get the materials? Hardware store, of course. Closest one was in Manistique, We'll take a road trip in the morning, but in the meantime it was time for a brew at the local watering hole a few hundred feet from our site. Convenient.

The next morning I headed into Manistique and located an Ace Hardware store. I purchased the items I believed I would need and headed back. I spent the rest of the day making the repairs making sure I covered every detail. It took most of the day to complete and now I had to wait for the fiberglass to cure, at least, 24 hours before I could test the repair and replace the undercarriage cover. No problem. It was beverage time anyway. Later on, after dinner, we all sat around the campfire, roasted some marshmallows, and, generally, relaxed. 

While in Manistique I saw a poster for a classic car show on Saturday. We love car shows so after breakfast and a quick check on the tank repair we all loaded into the truck and headed back to Manistique. The town's Main St. was blocked off to traffic and all of the cars were parked on each side. Probably 70-80 cars. There were so many they had to use overflow parking in some side street lots. Some beautiful machines were gathered there that day.

Once we had our fill of all the eye candy, conversation with the car owners, and explaining to dozens of people what breed of dog Guinness and Rosco were, we headed back to the truck. Not ready to return to the RV park we picked up some snacks, fed the furbabies, and decided to take a ride along the local lake shore. Unfortunately, like so many of the other lakes we have encountered around this country, most of the shore is private land. There were a few spots where the water was accessible, but the majority of the shore was off limits. So...we headed back home.

Getting back early gave me time to inspect the repair job and, so far, all looked good. I decided to wait until the morning to test it. And this brought us to that magic time again. So glad there was a watering hole so close. Oh, and did I mention there was a full service restaurant here, too? Yep, and we thought we would try it out tonight. Glad we did. Good service and the food was perfect. Now, time for some more campfire and play time with the babies.

Today is the big day to see if the tank repairs were successful. The fiberglass is cured and should hold up to the strain of the water in the tank. Since it was empty I had to completely fill the 42 gallon tank. That took a while. Once it was filled it became wait time. Wait and see if it leaks. So far, so good. Best to let it set for several hours. In the meantime we decided to go for a short drive in the area.

Back at the trailer the repairs seemed to have been successful. We all breathed a sigh of relief. Now for some sightseeing and exploring. We have two more full days here so we have to see as much as we can.

Monday morning we headed north to Lake Superior. We wanted to visit Pictured Rocks National Seashore. To get there we took a round-a-bout route so we could see what this part of the state looked like. Flat, very flat and sparsely populated. There were areas where we drove for miles without seeing a house or another car and this was Labor Day. Besides being very flat and wooded there were many lakes and streams that seemed to be good fishing spots. Saw quite a few fly fisherman in many of these lakes.

We picked up H-58 at Grand Marais and went west toward Munising. This was a beautiful drive and if our truck was a 4 wheel drive we would have taken some of the unpaved roads to the lake shore. After an nearly two hours or so of slow driving and stopping we made a right onto Miner's Castle Rd. This took us to the Pictured Rock Overlook. It was quite crowded with tourists, like ourselves, so we took our time in navigating the steep trails leading to the viewing areas. What a beautiful vista. Well worth the drive and the hike.

Back in the truck we drove into Munising. Here one can take several sightseeing cruises to the Pictured Rocks and Grand Island. It is a small city, but there seemed to be a lot to do here and in the surrounding area. We found a city park and boat ramp on the lake and deemed it a perfect spot for Guinness and Rosco to take a dip in Lake Superior. They were eager to take the plunge, but only Guinness would swim out any. Rosco just waded around for a short while. Guinness, also, did not stay long for the water was exceptionally cold. After less than 5 minutes Guinness was shivering so we dried them off and got back into the truck for warmth. This swim, though, would check off lake number 4 of the 5 Great Lakes. Lake Huron was the last one on their bucket list.

We made it back to the RV just in time for supper. We were all ravenous from the days activities. Afterwards we started a fire and just relaxed until it got dark and headed to an early bedtime.

The next morning we had planned to drive into St. Ignace and Sault Ste. Marie to explore that area, but we had to make a change of plan. First of all we had to put the undercarriage cover back on before we departed tomorrow. I didn't replace it in case another leak occurred. None so far. That took the better part of the morning. We, also, found we should do laundry while we had access to a laundry room. So....we made the day into a chores day and play-with-the-Doodles-day. No problem. We had already decided we would come back this way again and do some more exploring. Next time we will stay for several weeks or more.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Bailey's Harbor, WI to Michihistrigan RV Park, MI (August 29, 2012)

Next stop on our journey is the Michihistrigan RV Park on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  It was a 250 mile trip so we departed Bailey's Grove RV park early. The roads were good and had very little traffic, but it still took us nearly 6 hours to get there. No matter, the scenery was great.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Bailey's Harbor, Wisconsin (August 23-29, 2012)

Door County, Wisconsin is a popular vacation spot for those living in Wisconsin and Illinois. We chose this destination for the serenity more than anything else. We wanted to be close to the water, but not on it and we wanted a rural environment. We were told there was not much to see or do here, but, obviously, those who told us that prefer cities and amusement parks. After traveling, almost, non-stop for weeks we just wanted to settle in for a while and we chose the right place to do that.

The first few days we stayed close to the RV park only venturing out locally. We did a lot of needed cleaning in and out of the trailer and did some major playing with the furkids. As the weekend approached the whole area became very congested with traffic and the RV park filled to maximum. Lots of weekenders with lots of children. It turned out to be a very noisy weekend.

One of the things Door County is know for is their fish boils. This is quite the event and there are several well known restaurants that provide these each weekend, as well as social/fund raising events at fire stations, churches, schools, etc. We wanted to experience one of these, but to our dismay, there were not any scheduled for this weekend except at the restaurants. The few local restaurants that did provided this fare, however, were all booked up for the weekend. Dang. Guess we'll have to try one on our own when we get settled.

Sunday afternoon saw a calm and quiet come over the RV park as the weekenders headed back to their stationary homes. There were a few hanger-ons that were staying for the remainder of the week for this would be their last chance at an extended stay here since school was starting in the next week. The traffic on the roads went to almost none, too, so we decided to make the best of the next few days.

Monday we all packed up and headed out early to take a road trip around the northern end of the peninsula. I had hoped we would be able to get close to the water so we took all the back roads that paralleled the shoreline. This did not work out so well because most of the land was private and there were homes on, almost, every bit of the shore. There were a few historic  places where we could stop, but for the most part it was all residential.

Out first stop was Bailey Harbor's range light. The story behind this navigational lighting system was interesting. It seemed, however they were falling into disrepair. We did find out later there was an effort going on to restore them to their original condition and make them functional again.

(Click on the image to see it full screen and in High Definition)

Bailey's Harbor Front Range Light

Traveling farther down the road we came upon a fishing company named Hickey Brothers Fisheries. It seemed to be a fairly large family owned company operating next to their home. By the looks of it they fish by trap netting and gill netting. We found out later they are very well known in the area and provide a lot of their fish to the local fish boils.

Hickey Brothers Fisheries

Hickey Brothers Fisheries

Hickey Brothers Fisheries Trap Net Floats

From this point we continued around the peninsula as close to the shore as possible, but due to private land it was next to impossible to see it. Reminds me of a lot of the shore lines on the lakes and oceans back east.

We eventually came upon the small village of Gills Rock. It looked like a fishing village and our observations turned out to be correct. The first thing we saw coming into the village was the Door County Maritime Museum. We stopped to see if they were open, but unfortunately their hours were only on the weekends so we just walked around and took some pictures.

One of their outside exhibits was the "Skipper". It was the first steel-hulled boat to fish out of Gills Rock.  Click on the picture to see its full history.

The Skipper

While walking around the museum grounds we noticed, across a field, an old building called Charlie's Smokehouse. We hopped back into the truck and drove over to find it was a store that sold smoked fish caught from the lake as well as other imported fishes. They smoke it on the premises. We bought two whole smoked whitefish and a container of their spread that Joyce had fallen in love with last week in Two Rivers. What a feast we will have.

Leaving town we came upon a motel with a lighthouse out front. How appropriate. The lighthouse is actually a guest suite. Click on the picture for more information.

Harbor Light Inn, Gills Rock, WI

Continuing on down the coast we went through several other resort/fishing villages: Sister Bay, Fish Creek, and Egg Harbor. With this we decided it was time to return to the RV park so we cut across the peninsula and found we were back there in just under 15 minutes. That was quick.

During our tour we noticed there were several vineyards that offered wine tastings. Having gotten hooked on wine tastings in Sonoma, CA, we decided to try a few of the vineyards. On Tuesday the two of us headed back over to the west coast of the peninsula and stopped at three of the wineries to do some tasting and restock our wine cabinet. It was a fun morning, but it was time to head back to the park and get ready to move out the next morning.

We,thoroughly, enjoyed our stay here. We re-charged our internal batteries, did some maintenance and housekeeping, and explored the peninsula. Would not mind if we returned here someday.

Door Peninsula Winery

Wonder if these work?
Our first purchase.

Orchard Country Winery

Our second purchase.

Our third and final purchase.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Two Rivers, WI to Bailey's Harbor, WI (August 23, 2012)

Since Bailey's Harbor RV Park had an early check in we departed Scheffel's RV Park at 9:30 AM and arrived a little after 11 AM. That gave us time to set up and start to explore the area. It was a great and relaxing drive through the country and several small towns on the peninsula.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Two Rivers, Wisconsin (August 21-23, 2012)

Our original destination was to be Bailey's Grove Travel Park in Bailey's Harbor, Door County, Wisconsin.  That park must be a popular place for we could not get a reservation for the entire time we wanted to stay so we found another RV park a short distance away where we could stay two nights until Bailey's Grove opened up. We'll do some exploring in this area while we're here.

Glad we did stop here. The next morning we decided to take a hike and explore the Point Beach State Forest located next to the campground.  There was a trail-head leading from the parking area on the road to the beach. It was in very dense forest and even though the temperatures were only in the low 70sF, the humidity was very high so by the time we cleared the forest onto the open area of the shore we were drenched.

While we were walking through the dense forest we, all of a sudden, started to feel a breeze and around the next corner found ourselves in the dunes of the lake. Man, did that feel good. It felt as if the temperature had dropped 15°F. Immediately, Guinness knew we were close to a beach and he started pulling on his lead. He wanted in. We had not been to a beach since we left Oregon and he was eager and ready.

The dunes were wide, almost a 1/4 of a mile from the forest to the water, and it took a while to get there, but once there we all kicked off our shoes/harnesses and sat in the warm sand. I was very surprised at this location for, had I not know we were in a fresh water lake, I would have sworn we were on an ocean beach. Only thing lacking was the salt water smell. Guinness found a stick, more like a small log, and went to work on his retrieving skills. How he loves the water. Even Rosco joined in. Good for you Rosco.

As we collected our things preparing for the return trip to the truck, I noticed a flock of birds coming across the shoreline so I took a picture only to notice there was someone walking this way with several dogs.  We decided to wait a bit and, to our surprise, it was a woman with her two Doodles. When she saw ours we all immediately began talking. Her home was on the beach just on the other side of the park and every morning they walked the length of the park and back. Quite a hike. She was delighted to meet someone with Doodles, too. We talked for a while and parted ways. Good to meet other Doodle parents.

The hike back seemed much longer than the hike in and, as before, the forest was very humid. Guinness and Rosco were OK this time for they were still wet. By the time we got back to the trailer we all needed some water and dry clothes.

Once cleaned up we fed the kids and hopped into the truck for a ride back into Two Rivers to explore the town. It seems to be, mainly, a fishing village. We found a small pub close to the marina and decided to have lunch there. During our conversation with the bartender we found the town claims to be the founder of the ice cream sundae. Will have to look into that claim. We decided to have an appetizer for lunch and he recommended the smoked whitefish dip. Sure. Why not, although Joyce was very hesitant. The order came with a large bowl of dip and a mixture of chips and toast pieces. I watched Joyce as she slowly tried it. Her eyes lit up and said it was the best dip she had ever had. Good. We'll find some more.

After lunch we headed back to the trailer and I played with one of the kids while Joyce groomed the other. Had to get all that sand out.

After a quite dinner we made a fire and sat around it for a while and watched the sun go down. It turned out to be a great day. Looking forward to several more while we are in this area. Tomorrow we get to check into Bailey's Grove Travel Park.

(Click on the image to see it full screen and in High Definition)

Mom, can we have another drink?
AH! Cool breezes and sand.
I see it! I see the water! Hurry up!
Almost there.
OH! OH! I love the beach!
OK. I found you a stick to throw. So throw it! 

Now that's what I'm talking about.
I just might get used to this beach and water thing.
Now this is the dog's life.
Beautiful day on a beautiful beach.

Relaxing after dinner.
A beautiful sunset ending a wonderful day.