Friday, August 28, 2015

Universal Studios and a Bad Start

IWe got up at 6 am to have time to get ready plus pack up to check out.  The shuttle to Universal would hit our hotel at 7:25 and get us there (basically just across the street) before 8 when the park opens to people staying on site.  Kristin paid for her room as four adults staying so we too could have that extra hour from 8-9 and Express Passes that allow you to avoid the regular line.  And believe me, these hotel rooms aren't cheap.  Both Kara and Kelly stayed too with their families.  After dinner on Thursday we went to their hotel and used the extra keys to the room to buy and have printed our tickets to the park and our Express Pass and then went back to the Doubletree to sleep.

Everything went okay in the morning until we tried to enter the park and our tickets had "no days left" on them.  A second girl took them to the "big computer" and after a lengthy wait, came back with the same answer and told us to go to Guest Services.  We waited a long time but I was able to reach Kristin to come there because it was her credit card that paid for them.  We told this third person the tickets were purchased at their on-site hotel the night before and printed out by them after the park was closed.

After he checked her charge bill, her ID, her email confirmation and whatever else, a fourth person came and finally issued us new tickets.  In the meantime, the hour Kristin paid so dearly for was gone.  I will be writing a letter with my poison computer that has replaced my poison pen.

We started in Islands of Adventure but quickly rode the Hogwart Express to Universal Studios Daigon Alley, another Harry Potter venue.  If you have read all the books and seen the movies this is probably way more interesting than I found it but the kids loved it.  

Sam using his wand to make different things happen in the park.  I had fun doing this too!

Morgan with her wand and new Griffendorf robe plus she was drinking a Butter Beer!

We split up for lunch and then met up again and went on several more rides.  By 4:30 Ted, Larry and I were ready to head for home.  Kara still had her room so they went for a rest before returning to the park and we left Kristin with the Dudas to do whatever they wanted.

It started to rain so it took an hour in Friday night traffic to arrive at Kristin's.  Larry had errands to run so it was just the two of us.  Unfortunately the kitties used the day and night alone to barf hair balls on everything on the master bed.  Mattress cover, sheets, pillowcases, blanket and quilt!  Since I was going to sleep there, I stripped it down to the mattress and started what was several loads of laundry!

I used the time alone to set aside what we don't need on the ship and pack the few things that do need to go with us.  Getting this crew out of here by 11 am tomorrow will be harder than herding cats!

The next few blogs will be about the cruise but won't appear until after 9/5.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

On To I-4!

We arrived right at noon Sunday at Dad and Edna's.  They were so happy to see us, and us them.  Missing was their fur baby Rammy who died in July.  They really miss him and can hardly talk about him still.  It is so sad to lose the family pet.

We settled in to visit and were joined by my sister, Laurie.  She is a sweetheart and her efforts are one of the reasons Dad and Edna are still in their own home.  The housekeepers, pool man and lawn guys keep things in good shape but Laurie is there for most everything else to help them out ... and always with a smile.  Kara will be helping them this year as their insurance coverage from Dad's employer changes for them both.  Dad is sharp as a tack and knows who to turn to for important decisions.  He can do no better than Laurie and Kara.

For dinner we went to the local BBQ place.  We had a nice dinner and then went to Laurie's for dessert and to see the new home she and Spence moved to recently.  They are much closer to Dad and Laurie's job now.  The dogs were happy to see us all and Speedy took a shine to me and Ted.

When we went home Ted and I went in the pool so I could do my PT exercises.  At 9:00, we all went to bed and no one had any trouble falling asleep.

We said our goodbyes on Monday and headed towards Orlando.  It is always sad to leave but Dad and Edna are too frail to travel and it is up to us to go visit them.

The best way to I-4 is to meander NE through the middle of Florida until you hit Disney World.  To avoid that traffic, school buses and the start of rush hour we hopped on the Greenway up to Winter Springs. Larry was home but Kristin was still at work.  He and I used the time to look at over 1,000 photos he took at our 50th anniversary party in April.  I whittled it down to just 79 for the album.  We all went to Carrabara's for dinner and Fresh Market for groceries.

Finally on Tuesday I was able to sleep in but of course I was up early because I fell asleep on the couch the night before.  Kristin went to work, I did some laundry and emptied the dishwasher before going in the pool for my PT exercises.  Ted and Larry ran some errands and I stayed in the pool.

When the fellows returned I made dinner for that evening and another meal for the troops coming in on Wednesday.  Larry's sister Maureen joined us.

We checked into the Doubletree on Wednesday afternoon then picked up Kelly and family at the airport.  We took them to Kristin's where we all ate the dinner I made and passed out our matching shirts.  We will wear them on Saturday to board the ship.  After watching Kristin and Larry's wedding video we drove back to the Doubletree where we will spend two nights. 

This morning we went to Hilton Grand Vacation Villas to take a look.  It is a great program if you like to travel using hotels and condos but we don't use hotels enough to make it work for us.  We had lunch and came back to our hotel because it was raining.  Kara and family were delayed out of Detroit while the other six moved to the Royal Pacific Hotel at Universal Studios across the street from us.

For dinner we all went to Cafe Tu Tu Tango.  It is an artist studio of sorts with local artists working, everything displayed is for sale and the entire menu is small amounts of mostly appetizers where sharing is encouraged.  We must have ordered over two dozen or more plus two dessert ones.  The food was very good and different!

Today was Universal Studios but needs its own blog.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Life On I-10

I was up AGAIN at 6 am.  This is getting to be like a job!  Everything was pretty well ready to go in the car so I just got ready, started the dishwasher and straightened up the few things out of place.  I arrived at my meeting and Susan, my co-chair, was already there.  Our Gift Distribution is so popular we were filled in no time!  She wasn't feeling real well so we closed our table, went upstairs to the meeting room for a bit of breakfast and when sign ups closed, we both took off.  I told Jill Ted was waiting for me and she had no problem with our leaving.

We loaded everything in the car, left Chris a note and took off about 10:45.  It was raining but wasn't a problem.  We stopped for lunch in Lake Charles and it was smooth sailing until Baton Rouge.  They don't handle rush hour traffic well!  It took us an hour to make it across the bridge, through town and onto I-12 for our stint to Slidell where we were picking up I-10 again.  I-12 runs dead into I-10 where I-59 north comes in too.  Just a few miles from this busy interchange there is a sign that the ramp to I-59 north is closed.  It was too late for anyone to take a different route so those going that way were  scrambling and it was like riding the Dodgems.  And when we passed the ramp it was OPEN.  The guy in front of us slams on his brakes and makes a U turn in the median.  Ted seldom lays on the horn but he did then.

We stopped for the night in Moss Point MS and the GPS once again led us astray.  I seldom believe her and we got off an exit too soon.  A phone call cleared it up and no harm done.  When we pull the trailer those kinds of mistakes are a bigger concern.  The very first time we used the one the kids gave us we were at a dead end, could see our hotel to the left and she told us to turn right!  I haven't trusted her since.

We were up early and headed out about 7:30.  We had a long day of driving ahead of us.  Ted drove for awhile and then I drove until we turned down 19 and came to a rest area where we ate lunch then he took over again.  We lost an hour coming back into EDT so we stopped in Port Richey at a Hampton Inn for the night.  I located a church with a 6 pm Mass while all the others had 4 pm that we were too late for.

We settled in, freshened up and found the church with no problem.  It was a nice service followed by a video of the Lifeteen retreat that looked like lots of fun.  We never had anything like that when we went to school.  Three young folks spoke about how faith affirming it was and thanked the congregation for its support.

We drove to the Crab Shack on the Pasco River for dinner.  The ambience was nice, the food okay but the live music I could have done without.  To me all it sounds like is noise.  Lots of chords, loud bass and banging on the drums.  Are there words to these songs?

We turned in for he night since I am on my wake up at 6 am schedule!  This morning we ate breakfast at the hotel, packed up and headed south once again.  We expect to be at my Dad's by noon!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Chris Is Happy

The one person happier than us was Chris when we told him we had the AC fixed!  I didn't think it was too bad running at 40% efficiency but apparently he didn't agree.  I am just glad it didn't get any worse for him before we got home.

My happiest point was when I was able to get down and clean out all my kitchen cabinets.  They have been bugging me but I just couldn't get up and down to do it.  I know it is the prednisone working but just what it is working on has not been determined.  Isabelle cancelled which was probably a good thing.  We had enough people in and out plus insulation floating out of the air returns. Her cleaning may have been a futile attempt.

I packed all my clothes and Ted's for the cruise so we can leave those bags in the car while we wander  from my Dad's to Kristin's to the Doubletree and eventually on to the ship.  We will be scrounging for things to wear this week and next with all our better stuff packed away.  But we'll manage.  Nothing big coming up.

Monday I had my first PT appointment and I have two more before we see the doctor on Thursday, the day before we leave.  I am not making this easy for them with my schedule.  Then I headed to NAM shot blitz to work at the clinic.  We vaccinated 75 children and turned 20 away who were up to date.  I was one of two cashiers ($10 per child) so I was able to sit all afternoon.  When I got home Isabelle had cancelled again!  It was after 5:00 and frankly I was glad she wasn't coming that late.  She will try again on Tuesday.

Alł our paperwork and luggage tags came for the cruise so we are ready to roll.  Everyone is getting very excited!  I hope I continue to feel good and can navigate Universal Studios for an entire day.  If not, I'll sit a bit!  With Cassie with her Rheumatoid Arthritis, Bill with his new knee, Kristin with her bad back and me with my "whatever" I think it will be an interesting day!  

On Tuesday I had 7 am PT again and then later we took Ken and Nancy to lunch.  She does such a great job with our mail!  It's funny.  Chris doesn't want to deal with the mail and Nancy and Ken want no access to the house.  Just so it works for everyone, it is okay by me.  Isabelle finally made it in the afternoon so the house is cleaned well once more.   I changed the sheets so our master suite will be in good shape when we return.

Wednesday morning was 7 am PT again!  This getting up at 6 is getting old.  I worked at Shot Blitz from 10 to 2 and then went off to my hair appointment.

This morning I had my doctor's appointment.  He put my xrays up, tapped my left replaced hip and said "you know you are going to get another one of these, don't you?"  The PT gal and I had reached a similar conclusion as she put me through my paces.  When she told me to sit on the pool step and put my right ankle on my left knee I said "that ain't going to happen."  And it didn't!  It is not an imminent need so we discussed my medicine, PT when we return and an appointment in six weeks.  I guess I will be heading to Texas Orthopedic eventually.  Given the choice of hip versus back surgery, I choose hip!

I have a meeting tomorrow morning and then we hope to hit the road by noon.  Stay tuned and travel I-10 and Florida with us.  Once onboard Disney's Fantasy, I will be offline until we return to Port Canaveral.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Single Digits and Counting

I had to get up to eat breakfast to take my first two pills.  There was also the need to make a fruit salad for a funeral at church.  An old neighbor is back in town and there was a lunch planned so I proceeded over there after stopping by church knowing I had to be home by 1:00 because Company #2 was coming for the second estimate on the AC.  Ted announced when he got up that he had to go to the Chronicle today.  I guess that all transpired after I went to bed!  Busy days while we are home.  They are predicting 101 at 4 pm and rain at 7 pm.  It did rain for about a half hour last evening and it dropped from 103 to 89!

I had a nice visit with Ida and my other neighbors before hurrying home.  Ted was back so he dealt with the AC guy and I just listened in the background.  This guy was the Installer Manager and was way more knowledgeable.  Our master bath gets really warm and he offered a refiguring of ducting to get more air back there.  He pointed out we have the wrong kind of registers in our ceilings.  They blow  straight down and should be a 3-way that sends air in 3 directions.  Who knew?  I know it blows on me on the couch and people sitting under them when playing cards have mentioned it.  So Ted went to Lowe's and started changing out the 9 we have.  A few were the correct ones.  They are replacing our 4 ton, 10 seer with a 5 ton, 14 seer AC unit.  Bigger must be better.

I made parking reservations for the three cars at Port Canaveral.  On site is $125 a week per car, off site cost $173 for all the cars.  Ted, Larry and Bilł will drop us all off with our luggage and then park.  We will wait to board until the shuttle brings them back.

Yesterday I was giving my right side a trial by keeping my shift at the peanut butter cannery factory run by the Church of Latter Day Saints.  They send 100s of 1000s of jars of peanut butter to food banks, stricken areas and the Houston food bank each year.  We had to wear hairnets, aprons, long pant covers if we had on shorts or capris, plastic aprons and gloves.  They asked us to remove all jewelry too.  If we rotated positions we needed to change gloves.  If we went to the breakroom we had to wash to our elbows and put on a new apron and gloves.  Whew!   Lots to remember. At one point I picked a plastic jar off the floor and I had to change gloves.

First I put on and tightened lids that went to the spot checkers to be sure the aluminum inside the lid  had sealed on the jar.  That gave me a blister at the base of my thumb and after break I went to box loading.  We had a 5 person team and we were rocking it.  One lady pushed the jars off the line and I would sweep the first two to my partner.  She put them in her spot in the box.  I did the same with the next two always placing them the same.  I loaded the last two so she was free to grab the next empty box while I pushed the filled one to the box taper and swept the first two again to my partner.  The pallets were filling fast.  They said we made 6000 jars on our four hour shift.  I helped feed the empty jars into the filling machine for a little while but I am convinced my calling is in loading boxes!

My back/hip/butt/calf didn't bother me at all.  I am sure the prednisone helped a lot but I like to think God was looking out for me while I helped others.  This was a fun day and the hardest I have ever worked on a Forum project.  I told the leader this was a lot harder than serving lunch and playing bingo with seniors!

AC gets installed today.  Say a prayer they are able to lift the 36 inch box over the deck rail to get to the back.  Our opening is only 32 inches! 

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Two Weeks

We realized on Friday we only have two weeks until we leave again when Chris asked what day to return!  That is why I started putting our clothes together already.

There were a few stray items to deal with Saturday morning and then I left to get a hair cut.  It had been since mid-June since I had one and I was about to buy barrettes to pin it back!   Now I look and feel like a whole new person.

Despite doing two weeks of laundry in Howe the day they worked on our trailer, what accumulated on the way home, stripping the bed, what was left here in the hamper and the basket in our closet turned into four loads.  

I worked on that until it was time for church.  This was our first service with our new priest, Fr. Mike from Nigeria.  His English is very good but he recites the chapter and verse numbers of each of his comments which gets burdensome in the listening.  If it was Bible Study I could understand the need but talking on a subject with all those numbers thrown in makes it hard for me to follow his teaching.  I guess we will all adjust.

Immediately after church we headed to Wayne and Pam's to play cards.  The ladies had a table and so did the guys.  I had a Shanghai AND I won!  First time in awhile and this is the big dollar game, about $20 to the winner.  When we played with Tom and Eileen while traveling we just used pennies, more to keep track of how many times we bought a card.  We used the same pennies over and over.  Ted came in third he said after not getting down on one hand.  It was still in the 90s when we came home at 10 pm.

Ted went shooting and I finished up the laundry on Sunday, got the house all in order, cooked a roasting chicken and made a list of things I need to do tomorrow.  After dinner we went for an ice cream and to Walmart to buy a crockpot and new vacuum.  Isabelle is coming Friday to clean and my old one conked out last time she was here.  

Kroger sent out coupons so we headed there to use them and get what else we needed.  We saved $21!  And we have a 10 cent discount on fuel this month and next!  I used the leftover chicken to make a pot pie that we baked in the turkey roaster on the deck!  No way was I going to turn the oven on.

Today I saw the neurologist about my aches and pains.  He ordered spine and hip x-rays and ordered several medicines.  He also ordered physical therapy.  We dropped the prescriptions at Walmart, went across the street to the hospital for the x-rays, stopped at the center for the physical therapy to register and then back to pick up the prescriptions.  Just as an aside one was for a brand name that the doctor said to get the price on before ordering.  The price was $623, the generic was $300.  I told them the doctor said to call him for something else if I didn't want to pay that (who would?).  The replacement's cost - $1!!! That's right, a single dollar.  Being a better consumer of health care is a very real thing to consider.

We came home to meet with the AC people.  Ted wants to talk to another company before we make our decision on a new unit but hopefully we will get it replaced before we take off.  Chris isn't thrilled about dealing with less than totally comfortable digs and I don't blame him.  It isn't terrible inside but we are shut up like living in a cave and using overhead fans and an additional small one in the bedroom.  Of course he doesn't cook so no problem there.

It rained a bit just awhile ago.  The temperature went from 103 to 90.  A cool front!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015


We stopped overnight on Tuesday in a KOA and got an extra hour sleep because we were back in Central Daylight Time.

We headed out Wednesday and watched the temperature rise to 102 degrees on the dash!  Those cool days and nights in Michigan were all just a pleasant memory.  We stopped in Texarkana and fueled up plus ate a late, but big, lunch at the Flying J restaurant.  Continuing on we arrived in Carthage about 4:00.  We did get stuck for about a half hour near Little Rock where a semi had been laid over on its side.  Other than that, the day was uneventful.

It is so very, very hot.  I went to the bedroom to watch The Five because it was much cooler in that smaller space than in the living area until the trailer cooled down to 72. Ted decided to attack the bugs on the front cap of the trailer.  We are about 3 hours from home so hopefully by noon tomorrow we will be set up and can start unloading our things to take home and Ted can clean the rest of the trailer.

We didn't eat dinner because of our late lunch so we showered and settled in for the evening.  I did empty the pantry and bagged up my stash of things I bought along the way.  All these bags will go into the truck so we can take them home once we get set up again.  One or two more trips after that should make a nice mess at home to deal with!

We pulled into the campground a little before noon and set up.  We put everything I had already packed into the truck and brought it home.  I put it all away and we headed back to the park with my car.  Ted started finishing his washing job and I went inside and packed the rest of our clothes to bring home.  As I got everything out of an area I cleaned it well including changing the sheets so we are good to go next  time.  Last thing was the refrigerated and frozen food.  I hurriedly bagged it and headed for home.  I will clean the refrigerator and turn it off tomorrow morning when we put it away.  Ted finished up and came home a bit later.  We were too tired to put the rig away today and the spot is paid for so it will wait until morning.  It is clean inside and out!

It is so very hot that even our AC is struggling.   It takes until morning to finally shut down.  We are moving a fan around with us to keep cooler.  We had no trouble sleeping though because there is no  humidity in the house.

I was up early, handled the mail including printing out 16 pages to fill out for the doctor for my Tuesday appointment.  We had the trailer back in storage before 10:00.  Then I had to pick up the film of my bone density for the doctor.  My nails were in need of attention so I had them done and afterwards put most of our things away.  I have started a new pile on the twin bed for the cruise.  Sure hope I get everything done over the next two weeks!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's Off to the Factory We Go

Sunday dawned sunny and warmer than it had been since Tennessee.  We were hooked up and ready to roll at 10 a.m.  We took I-69 south to the Indiana tollway and headed west to Howe and the DRV factory parking lot.  We were the first of the three rigs with appointments to arrive.  We parked in the first spot which turned out to be a bad choice because the closeness of the metal building blocked our TV antenna so we had no TV all day or night.  Tom and Eileen continued on I-69 toward Fort Wayne and their factory in Decatur.

We were soon joined by another couple and a bit later, one more.  We tallked about what we all needed repairing, etc. and then we left for Walmart to return our Michiigan beer and soda cans over the Michigan state line.  I am glad we don't do that in Texas.  It is a pain to pay 10 cents a can extra and then have to return them to get your money back.  You break even but the store can resell all that aluminum to a recycler and keep the proceeds.  I doubt the plastic bottles are worth anything but I assume they get recycled too.  

We located a laundry for the next day and returned home to have dinner.  One of the others had put a four way splitter on the one faucet so we all had power and water.  The other two had 2 or 3 TV stations but try as we might, we got nothing!

There was a terrible storm around midnight that rocked the trailer with high winds and the rain, lightning and thunder woke us up.  We had to get up at 5:00 am so it was good we woke up to reset the alarm when the electric flickered off momentarily. 

Promptly at 6:00 am Fred arrived and went over our list.  He worked on our trailer last year so we were pleased to get him again.  We stayed in the Customer Lounge for awhile talking to a couple from Tomball!  I really liked them so we may see them again sometime.

Eventually we went to the Howe Diner for breakfast then went to the laundromat and did two weeks of laundry.  Then it was back to the Customer Lounge to wait.  At 1:00 Fred said he would be done by 2:30 quitting time.  I wasn't looking forward to another night with no TV.  We are equipped for Direct TV but we weren't camping in areas without TV so we didn't turn our service on this summer.

We went over the repairs he had done, the new shelves he added, etc.  We have an issue with a light over the counter.  There are three matching ones and one is broken.  They didn't have one that matched or three new matching ones so we are on the prowl for one or three!  Wish us luck.

We drove south to below Indianapolis for the evening.  We stayed hooked up and will pull out early in the morning and will stop in Missouri somewhere tomorrow afternoon.  Wednesday will get us into Texas and home on Thursday.  

We have 2.5 weeks to get ready for Florida but we have lots of ground to cover.  Chris won't mind going home for that time period because he knows he will be coming right back so he doesn't even have to take his stuff out of his bedroom!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Turkey Time

Well the drama wasn't over!  Because the directional arrows on the campground map made absolutely no sense, we walked the campground to determine the best way out.  The biggest problem was the exit gate.  We had to get 53 ft. of truck and trailer lined up straight enough to pass through.  To get to the perimeter road that gave us the straightest shot out we had to go to the end of our road, make a less than 90 degree turn and deal with boulders all along the left side.  Ted nixed that.  He chose to come to the end of our road and swing wide as he could to get straight enough to exit.  To do this he had to hug a tree that rubbed the top of the trailer.  This can really scratch a rig.  I stood in front of the guide wires on an awning so he wouldn't run over them and he made it okay.

Unfortunately Tom declined any help, didn't swing wide enough, and added insult to injury by damaging two more cargo doors on boulders. Ted was watching from our site and told Eileen he wasn't swinging wide enough and then "crunch."   Another call to the factory, another thing added to the list!

I wrote a scathing report on RV Park Reviews about the map with arrows going willy nilly.  You can't approach from one side and pull in from the other side.  And that is what the arrows were showing.  Even the perimeter road with the best exit route has the arrows going in the opposite direction.  There are no directional signs on the roads to indicate which way you should drive on them.  Normally the office will take a campground map and draw a line showing you how to go to your site ... but not this place!  And trees that hang over roads or sites need to be kept trimmed to avoid scratching.  Some of these motorhomes have $15-20,000 paint jobs and they don't want them scratched.

We hit the road and arrived at Turkeyville USA near Marshall a little more than an hour later.  Cromwell's Turkeyville restaurant has been an institution for many decades but the campground is a newer addition.  We got our map and followed the black line to our site with no problems. 

We had dinner reservations at 6 at Cromwell's followed by the musical The Hatfields and McCoys.  Eileen and Tom had seen a production of the same name in Pigeon Forge but they said this was entirely different.  The turkey dinner was wonderful and we really enjoyed the play.  The music was a great mixture of old tunes.  

Ted was up before me today checking out skeet fields.  He found one opening at 10 so he took off.  When he returned we went to Adventist Village and Dr. John Harvey Kellogg Discovery Center.  We didn't know just what to expect.  There was a crowd there so we figured it must be interesting.

We didn't know the Seventh Day Adventist church was founded in Battle Creek by co-founders James and Ellen White.  This area became known as Adventist Town.  We visited a school, church, log cabin and a home used on the Underground Railroad.  We were told that next to the Catholic education system, they have the next largest system.   

The church.

An original bench from the church (dark one in the corner).

Log cabin.

We left the tour before the last two houses so we could visit the Discovery Center.

Dr. John Henry Kellogg was a brother to Wm. Kellogg of cereal fame.  John was way ahead of his time in healthy lifestyles.  He advocated eating fruits and vegetables, getting fresh air and going outside into the sun, doing exercises.  He debunked myths like blood letting, tomatoes are poisonous, smoking cured lung disease (!), etc.  He built a sanatarium which over time and fires was rebuilt and added on to, etc. until today it is the Hart Dole Inouye Hospital.  John worked on "corn flakes" trying to invent a healthy, quick breakfast.  Once he and William succeeded, John moved on to other things and William founded Kellogg's Cereal Company.

We saw many of the machines he used at his sanatarium.  Most of these are very similar to exercise equipment, spa treatments, physical therapy items in use today.  We tried out a few things.

We left there and went to St. Philip Church for Mass.  Father spoke of the absurdity of all the press over Cecil the Lion and the major media silence on the Planned Parenthood videos.  It is about time we are hearing some push back from the pulpit on these attacks on morals.

We ate at Don Pablo's for dinner, stopped at Meijer's for some Schuler's cheese spread that Eileen and Tom enjoyed the night before and hair coloring for me.  An inch of gray hair is not attractive!

We head to the factory tomorrow.  There are four spots and we want to get one before they are all taken.  Hopefully they can get our things done by their 2:30 shift end Monday so we can be on our way.  Tom and Eileen have to go south of Fort Wayne to their factory so we will be saying "So long" as the sun sets in the west.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Holland Michigan

It has been many years since we have been to Holland, Michigan.  We had never made it there during Tulip Time in all the years we lived there but our trip today was equally as beautiful with summer flowers.

This is a drawbridge over a canal symbolic of those found in the Netherlands.

Our destination was Windmill Gardens, home to DeZwaan (The Swan) windmill.  It was brought from the Netherlands in the early 60s and reconstructed on a brick base to raise it above the trees to catch the wind.

First up was a film on the history of this windmill including it being under fire during WWII.  Bullet holes are still visible on some parts.  We like informative videos when we first arrive places because it sets the tone for the rest of the visit.  

Next up was a visit to the street organ, De Vier Kolommen (The Four Columns) given as a gift to the city of Holłand from the city of Amsterdam in gratitude for the role of the United States in liberating The Netherlands in WWII.

It is played using a flip book that looks much like the player piano rolls with the holes punched in them. It played In The Good Old Summertime and Tennessee Waltz.

We then headed toward the Windmill to watch the Klompen dancers.  I remember all the school children dancers in the street parades during Tulip Time on TV, in the newspaper and travel magazines.  The whole city gets involved.  

After the dance, the six dancers all explained their outfits and what it said about them.  Shorter skirts and pants indicated fishermen/women, mixed patterns indicated clothes had been made from scraps.  Buttons, lace or cording spoke of a degree of wealth.  I found that all very interesting.

Eileen and I tried to roll hoops with sticks but we didn't get very far.

Next was our tour of the windmill.  It is an engineering marvel.  Windmills could pump water into canals and create farmland.  The power could turn it into a sawmill, grist mill, papermaker, etc.  If you designed a machine to do all these things today, you would be 1000 years too late.  We walked up six levels to learn the process of grinding grain.  There is a lady miller who went to The Netherlands to be trained and we saw her milling for the tour behind us on the way down.  It was a great and informative tour.

On our way out we stopped to look at the children's carousel boasting beautifully painted windmills.

Our last stop was at the Delft dishware and Wooden Shoe factory.  Ladies were painting the Delft dishes but there was no shoemaker there today.  Ted looked for a pair of shoes.

We leave tomorrow for Marshall, MI where we will spend our last two nights in Michigan.  Sunday morning we head to Howe, IN to the Mobile Suite factory.  The Mills continue on to Decatur, IN to the  Fleetwood factory.  Of course they have a bit more to repair than originally planned!

Saugatuck Michigan

We left about 11:00 and headed to Saugatuck.  This is a beautiful small town on the Kalamazoo River that empties into Lake Michigan.  The marinas were full of boats just like every other one we have seen.  Michigan has more coastline than any other state (two peninsulas) and more registered boats than any other state in the union.  I remember Kathy Lee Gifford telling Hoda on TV how absolutely gorgeous this area of Michigan is and what a great kept secret it is.  She had traveled by boat on vacation to this area for the first time.  Eileen and Tom have been voicing similar sentiments.  

We ate at Butler's which was a great choice.  Their fish and burgers were outstanding.  It was one of the original buildings but only the fireplace and oval glass door remain from that first building.  

Casual waterfront dining with Spectacular Views of Lake Kalamazoo harbor, boardwalk and boats.

Outdoor dining and Live entertainment on our Deck Memorial Day through Labor Day

Conveniently located at the light in the heart of downtown Saugatuck, voted one of America's "Coolest Small Towns".  Within walking distance to shopping, art galleries, and many of Saugatuck's Bed & Breakfasts.  Just a short scenic drive to Saugatuck's Oval Beach and beautiful Lake Michigan."

There is a Chain Ferry that will take you across the river and back.  It reminded me of the hand pulled ferry in the Rio Grande Valłey that you can use to ride across the Rio Grande river but with way better aesthetics.

Even their public restroom building was painted beautifully.

There is always so many shops in these tourist towns but neither Eileen nor I are shoppers, much to Tom and Ted's delight, so we just walked a few blocks observing storefronts.

We had tickets for the Sand Dune Buggies mid-afternoon so we headed back.  The drivers are funny, telling jokes, but also are informative about how the dunes were formed by nature and what is being done to preserve them.  We traveled on all private property.

Lake Michigan in the distance

Next we went to Sunny Brook, an individual owner campground that we learned about from Joanne last winter in Retama.  They had a gorgeous corner lot but had just sold it and will move to a private campground nearer their children.  It was a lovely place but at $80,000 a lot plus $2600 in taxes and HOA fees annually, nothing to take lightly.  It is too far from our kids too but I would love something similar closer to them.

We made our obligatory stop at Walmart.  I had purchased prunes instead of raisins and returned them while Ted exchanged a new hose that leaked.  We all picked up a few things and headed for home.

Because we had eaten a big lunch, dinner was two 12 inch Walmart pizzas.  Ted took my tabletop oven outside and baked them.  When the bugs started, I headed inside. 

Check back to see what our last day on Lake Michigan brings!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Another Low Key Day

I didn't sleep well so once I got to sleep I didn't get up until 10:30.  It was after 12:30 before I stuck my nose out.  The lady across from us called out to me so I went over and visited with her for awhile.  They are from Connecticut, stay in Michigan for two months each year and always use casino campgrounds!  She said they go to the casino each day because there are incentives to get on your card.  They aren't high rollers, just a few dollars here and there.  To each his own.

Once the four of us got together we decided to go to the Bargain Barn we keep passing.  Ted bought a few things including a grater and funnel for me because I had needed both this trip and had neither.  Now I do.

Eileen decided we needed to go to House of Flavors ice cream parlor since we hadn't stopped there yet either.  We finished off our afternoon walking along the riverwalk and looking at the beautiful boats docked in the municipal marina on the Platt River.

Our ice cream cones pushed dinner back to almost 7:00.  Ted used our Cherry BBQ sauce and grilled chicken breasts.  I sliced tomatoes, made sweet/sour cucumbers, green beans and alfredo noodles.  Eileen baked corn muffins.  We are eating well.

Since it was the finale of the Bachelorette we came in, did the dishes and I promptly fell asleep when the show came on.  I woke up to see the end but this season has been a bummer and I really didn't care. I didn't like any of the last three people involved.  

I slept better but have been bothered by an ACE inhibitor induced cough.  My new blood pressure pills are an ACE inhibitor and this is a side effect.  There is another type of pill that can be prescribed and I will consult with Dr. C when I get back.  He will need to write my next prescription but I don't want to take them for two more months if I can help it.  By the way, I do have an appointment with Ted's back doctor group the week after we get back.  This may not be the right doctor but it is a starting point.  He has asked me to bring the bone density test that said my lumbar vertebrae are thickening.  Wish me luck.

In the morning we started our three hour trip to South Haven, still on Lake Michigan.  We made one rest area stop, hit some construction and arrived a little after 1:00.  Ted and Eileen went in and got our info and paid the bill.  A young man asked Ted if he was going in 123 and Tom 124.  Ted said yes we were going into 123 and Tom was next to us but he didn't know that number.  

We followed him and had to swing real wide to get in.  I got out to direct him forward to straighten out and position it so we could reach the electric box and open our slides with no problem.

Tom started into his spot and I could see he hadn't swung real wide and there was a tree on his passenger side.  Eileen was driving their car that had been taken off the back.  I noticed he was going to push the branches of the tree with the motorcoach and that can really scratch your paint.  Next thing I know he is out of the coach and he had taken out the tree entirely and wrecked one of his cargo doors.  The boy who led him in just stood there.  Ted told Tom to pull out, go around and come in from the opposite direction, which he did. 

The boy went for the manager who said they don't park two at once.  Ted told him they did that day.  At no time did the young man indicate Tom shouldn't follow us, address the situation when he was attempting to enter from the difficult side nor stop him when he was going to hit the tree!

We were taught NEVER to attempt making a turn less than 90 degrees.  I like to think if we had been second we would have assessed it and stopped until we had figured it out.  But hindsight is way better than foresight!  I also get out to watch Ted pull in and don't get into the truck until he has pulled out.  There are just so many blind spots on those big rigs.

The bright spot is next Monday they have an appointment at the factory to have body work done where someone backed into them.  The bleak spot is that KOA is not accepting any responsibilty for their employee's actions.  Tom said he will just let the insurance companies battle it out.  It certainly was a downer for the day.

After awhile we went to Walmart for some groceries.  When we got back I used four cups of my frozen raspberries to make a cobbler.  Ted grilled burgers and we had a fairly simple meal followed by cobbler and vanilla ice cream.

The bugs were getting bad so we eventually came in.  Hopefully our day tomorrow will have less drama.


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Next Stop Manistee

We left for the Little River Casino campground about 11:30 because we didn't have very far to go.  If you arrive too early you run the risk of your site still being occupied.  It was a little over an hour trip and our sites were open.

We have Bruce Rodgers parked between us because someone decided with that last name we must be traveling together so they put all three rigs together.  Bruce was really surprised when I asked his family if Bruce was home!  Turns out they are here for a 200+ family reunion and they were embarrassed thinking they should know me! LOL. I just wanted to say hello.

We had a problem in that Ted was about two feet too far from the electric post.  We know better but it looked like it would work!  He was going to hitch back up and back up a few feet when the leveling system just kept beeping and wouldn't do anything.  Ted finally used our 30 amp cord to plug in to fix that problem and I am happy to report we are doing fine with 30 amp.

I know very little about the leveling system so I had no suggestions but I thought if I turn it off we can restart it and maybe it will fix itself.  It works on my printer!  I held the on/off switch a long time but it didn't stop beeping so I pushed it again and then hit Enter and it worked!  Ted was then able to level the trailer and we didn't concern ourselves with the 30 versus 50 amps.  Both A/Cs are running fine and no tripping has occurred.

After setting up, having lunch, resting and getting cleaned up, we went to church at 4 pm.  Afterwards we went to the Bungalow Inn to eat.  We have been eating in most of the time but we decided Saturday was a good night to have dinner in a restaurant.  Afterwards we went to the casino and it was busy, busy, busy.  It was some sort of anniversary and they were giving away thousands of dollars in the evening.  I saw the $10,000 winner and the $50,000 winner and they were way more composed than I would have been.  I already had figured out how much I would tell them to take out!  Alas, I lost $15 for the evening.

Sunday morning Eileen and I spent an hour and a half in the pool all by ourselves.  People were leaving in droves.  Ted and Tom took a bike ride.  We planned on going to a vineyard that advertised an afternoon of music, wine and snacks.  We were unimpressed upon arrival and the only thing we did was buy some Cherry BBQ sauce.  While Ted was doing that, I found a flyer saying the Scottsville Clown Band was performing at Arcadia Daze about 25 miles north.  

We drove to Arcadia and had a great time.  We have seen this band perform before and they are so entertaining.  All are great musicians but they throw comedy and audience participation into the mix and are so enjoyable.  We were pleased we decided to change horses in mid-stream.

The clowns in their get-ups.

A song featuring the tubas inculding a painted one.

Two couples doing the polka.  Both gentlemen are clowns and chose their partners from the audience.

Men doing the Chicken Dance.  Did I mention  alcohol may have been involved?

A few clowns during the break.

Our group.

We came home around dinner time and Eileen made Skyline chili.  It was sunny out so we decided to play Mexican Train when the shade appeared.  Eileen was the big winner!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Sleeping Bear Dunes

We left at 10 to drive to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.  Our first stop was at the Visitor's Center where we watched a movie and got maps for our day.  We used our Senior Pass to get in free.

The movie was done well and showed how the area at one time was covered with glaciers that carved out and filled the Great Lakes and created the sandy dunes and rolling terrain visible and used by us today.  I am not a global warming believer and think taking less than 200 years of facts and applying them to millions of years of evolution is not real smart.  Ohio used to be covered with glaciers.  These two areas alone house, employ and feed millions of people.  I do believe in not littering, clean air, clean water, recycling, etc. but to insist that what we have now is optimum makes no sense.  Where would we be without the Grand Canyon?

Our second stop was an overlook of dunes that dropped WAY down to Lake Michigan.  The sign advised against walkng down the dunes unless you were prepared to spend as much as two hours walking back up or paying the fees associated with being rescued.  Nonetheless, folks were going down.

Tom and Eileen at the overlook.

Next up was the Climb Dune.

Eileen took a stab at the dune but quickly came back when she realized it is a lot higher than it first appears and the sand is hot.

Ted sat down to wait.

We watched many people climb and run down.  It is wise to set this small area aside so folks stay off the rest of the dunes and they are preserved.

We drove on to Glen Haven a small harbor town where the Doll family started a lumber mill, cherry cannery and dune buggy rides.  It is more of an outdoor walking museum now.  This was a fishing tug, the Aloha.

The light trom the lighthouse.

Ted ringing the bell on a buoy.  The wind would toss it at sea to make it ring.  In fog, sometimes it was the only info a sailor had.

A can of Glen Haven cherries.

A snow sled for ice fishing,

A house built in 1857.

Items preserved in the general store.

There was a museum on the Doll family in the rear.  I love reading their life stories.  Even the wealthiest of persons lived a hard life back then.  

We were tuckered out from all the trudging through the sands and up and down the boardwalks.  We did enjoy riding the scenic route through the lovely forest.

I'm always astonished by a forest. It makes me realise that the fantasy of nature is much larger than my own fantasy. I still have things to learn.

Gunter Grass