Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Our Last Day In Indiana

I forgot to mention that on Monday while roaming around Elkhart we stopped to visit the RV/Motorhome Hall of Fame. It has a very good collection of very early camping trailers and motorhomes (called housecars back then). The concept remains the same after all these years - an area to sleep, cook, eat and some sort of bathroom facilities. I'm sure the engineers of those first units would be astounded at the rigs on the market today.

Today we went to the Shipshewana Flea Market, a huge place that is very popular. When we lived in Michigan there were lots of "field trips" to Shipshewana just to visit this market. We bought a couple things but didn't stay too long because Rick wanted to take the tour at Gulfstream Motorhomes in Nappannee. We received a cloth bag, a bottle of water and a pen as part of the tour. They were not in production today but it was interesting to learn it is and always has been family owned. Normally they would have about 500 employees, today they have about 100. The RV industry has been hit as hard as the auto industry. I noticed a note on the time clock that said they would be shut down until 7/17.

We came home and Rick grilled pork chops and I cleaned out my leftovers to make a meal. Afterwards we all did our "getting ready to leave" jobs. Rick and Brenda will stop to have their sofa removed and the new chairs and table installed. We'll take off and meet up with them in Utica, IL where we intend to spend the night before going on to Amana, Iowa on Thursday for four nights.

Monday, June 29, 2009

We're Doing OK

Thursday we went to Maria Stein, OH to the original motherhouse of the Precious Blood Sisters. This area of the country had/has a large German Catholic population and is home to the 34 cross-tipped churches. The property we visited is very tranquil and has several facets.

The first thing we did was observe the Seven Offerings of the Sacred Heart. I took a picture of Brenda taking the opportunity to say some prayers. Then we proceeded to the Chapel of the Holy Relics. There are over 1000 relics and each one is marked with the red ribbon and red wax with the church seal required for its authenticity. Ted learned his name means "Divine Gift" so now he is convinced they'll want his relic when he's gone. I told him I would send his gallstone that he has at home in a jar!

Upstairs is a museum of the convent, the Miami and Erie Canal and farm life. Grand Lake was dug as a reservoir for the canal which stretched from Cincinnati to Lake Erie and contained almost 100 locks. It moved goods in western Ohio for almost a century. A flood in 1913 damaged the canal extensively and the railroads made it not cost effective to repair. Mercer Lake became Grand Lake and is a wonderful recreational area to this day.

Next we went to Fort Recovery. Two major battles took place here. General St. Clair led the 1791 battle which was won by the Indians of the area. It was a major morale boost for them and emboldened them against the white man. With better training and equipment, “Mad” Anthony Wayne led his soldiers to victory in 1794 and opened the western U.S. to expansion by the white man. We watched a video, toured the museum and the grounds. I thought of the bumper sticker “Sure you can trust the government, just ask an Indian.” I wonder what native Americans think about immigration today!

Friday Brenda and Rick left for Indiana and Ted and I drove to Elyria, OH for his nephew’s funeral. We stopped at J. C. Penney’s to get another dress shirt and tie so he could change his “look” from Friday’s visitation to Saturday’s funeral. I had a nice slack set for visitation and a dress for Saturday. I’m glad we brought some things along “just in case.” However we were thinking more along the lines of dinner with some newspaper people.

The visitation was at St. Jude Church. The line stretched from the front of church where the casket was, clear to the back of church and out into the narthex the entire four hours. Afterwards the ladies of St. Jude Church prepared a dinner for us.

The Mass by Fr. Terry (Ted’s cousin) on Saturday was beautiful. He started by asking anyone who rides a motorcyle to stand for a special blessing. Every spectrum of humanity was represented at this gathering and that spoke to Brian’s wonderful ability to reach out to everyone. About 100 motorcycles traveling two by two led the procession followed by the hearse and more than 50 cars. Because Brian served in the Coast Guard, he received full military honors. It was a very emotional time for us. We enjoyed seeing so many relatives but not under these circumstances. There was a luncheon served to several hundred people before the casket was escorted by the motorcycles to the crematorium. It was his wife’s request that Brian take this one last ride with all his buddies.

Afterwards we drove back to the campground in Celina, about a three hour drive. We arrived in time to make Mass at Immaculate Conception and have dinner at Pullman’s Bay restaurant. It was late by the time we got home but we got outside stuff done for an early morning departure.

On Sunday we drove to Howe, IN and met up with Rick and Brenda. After setting up, we took a ride and stopped along the Heritage Trail to view some of the quilt gardens and murals. We came back to the RV for a pork tenderloin and trimmings dinner while Brenda made some potatoes and broccoli to go with it all. It was a good, balanced dinner.

Today we explored lots of RV sales and surplus places for some things we both need for our RVs. Rick ordered two new recliners and a table for in between. These will replace their sofa. We were looking for a new light fixture and a receptacle cover for the outside. We didn't find either so we bought a pack of baby safety shields to put in the outside outlets until NuWa can send us a new receptacle. Ted cut the prongs off another and shimmed the light to keep the fluroescent bulbs more secure and so far it seems to be working.

We ate at the Blue Gate restaurant in Shipshewana. In the past we have eaten at Amish Acres in Nappanee, Essenhaus in Middlebury and Bavarian Inn in Frankenmuth, MI. I still think Bavarian Inn is best followed by Essenhaus, Amish Acres and the Blue Gate in that order. All of the food is good but some is better and others have a better selection. You can't go wrong at any of them though.

I have pictures but our wifi is really slow here in the middle of this wheat field in northern Indiana so I'll save them for a time when I can download faster. Tomorrow is not planned out yet and Wednesday we hit the road again.

We've been gone six weeks now and the next stop is the Amana Colonies in Iowa. We'll spend the 4th of July weekend there.

In Memory of Captain Brian G. Rogers

Sunset and evening star
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar
When I put out to sea.
But such a tide as moving seems asleep
Too full for sound and foam.
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.
Twilight and evening bell, And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell
When I embark;
For though from out our borne of time and place
The flood may bear me far.
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

And Life Goes On In Our Sorrow

We moved the RV from one site to another so we can leave it here at Grand Lake/St. Marys until Sunday. Brenda and Rick are heading to Indiana on Friday and we are driving to Elyria, OH, will stay in a hotel with family, and then drive back Saturday after the funeral Mass and receptions. We'll go on to Indiana on Sunday after church.

We had a great time at the family reunion. Friday night we all gathered in the lodge/on the deck/in the pool at the West Bank Villas. Saturday morning was a kids' fishing tournament and Morgan won the 5 and under age group by catching TWO fish! Sam also caught two but Amanda caught six in his age group.

There was a golf tournament on Saturday, swimming in the pool and a corn hole tournament all going on at the same time. That evening 131 of us gathered for dinner.

The golf champs!

We celebrated two 50-year anniversaries. Both Charlotte & Charles and Karen & Ron reached this milestone this year. I was in Karen's wedding and was 14 at the time. I had a sheet cake made to honor the occasion.

After dinner there was karaoke and card playing while much visiting was going on.

On Sunday after church, Kelly & Kara and families came to the RV for breakfast before heading to Michigan. When they left we went to the Mercer County Fairground to watch the last run at the Cowboy Mounted Shooting. Todd, Ann and Vicki all had a perfect run, not missing any balloons. We left there and all met up at Dan's for some Skyline Chili.

On Monday, 11 of us went on a boat ride around Grand Lake. Dan brought his pontoon boat over to the campground. Karen, Ron, Sue and Sydney were with him and he picked up us, Rick & Brenda and Stella & Jay. We took about a two hour ride and then returned to the campground for a cook out.

Jay and Stella left for Texas this morning. After their departure we all got haircuts, did some shopping and moved the trailer. We ate at home tonight and the guys are going golfing in the morning. The weather is getting warmer.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Bizarre Chain of Events

We arrived in Celina just fine and our family reunion went extremely well. However, I'm not ready to post about it because on Saturday as we headed out to the lodge where we were meeting we received a phone call.

Ted's oldest brother Tom's oldest son, Brian, was killed instantly in a motorcycle accident in Elyria, OH. Brian was southbound when a northbound car hit a deer. The deer catapulted and slammed into Brian, knocking him off his bike and into northbound traffic where he was hit by an SUV. His bike continued sliding southbound and hit another car. He died instantly.

Brian and his first wife Rose are especially dear to us because they lived in Michigan near us when they first married. We are godparents to his only son Keith. A Mass of Christian Burial will be performed by Ted's cousin Fr. Terry on Saturday.

We will extend our stay here by two days, then drive the RV to the Cleveland area and spend two nights so we can attend the funeral before catching up to our fellow campers in Indiana.

This is a parent's worse nightmare, whether their children are 16 or 52 or any other number.

Brian, you will be missed by so many. You touched many lives.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


I've taken the liberty of pulling some great pictures off Lori's IRV2.com forum blog that she is doing for the rally. She was the first person to greet us with her big smile and weloming attitude. She is a great ambassador for her camping group and a wonderful photographer.

If the weather holds we're going to the Amish Flea Market today. We're grilling out tonight! No dinner planned for the group, just an ice cream social with lots of prizes given away this evening.

Tomorrow we head out a day before the rally is over. We need to be in Celina, OH (173 miles from here) at 3 pm for the start of my family reunion. The drawing for the scavenger hunt winners will be after we leave. Ted told Brenda she could drive the Mercedes over to us when they come on Saturday!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What an End to Today

Today was our Amish pastry breakfast. It was raining so we donned our ponchos and went to the pavilion. A great selection of wonderful goodies was set up on two tables along with coffee. We stayed until it was time for the Tire Seminar. Ted stayed and I came back to the RV. UPS had called Kara and was still asking about inspecting the package. I called and was instructed to send specific pictures. It took four e-mails to send them on since their mailbox only holds a few at a time. I'm not feeling warm and fuzzy about a quick resolution to this.

After the seminar and the picture sending we took a ride to Mt. Hope to get the last clue for our scavenger hunt. Then we went to Lehman's Hardware in Kidron so the guys could see it. They had a very informative video on the Amish people. Ted and I watched the whole film. I took several pictures of the buggies but have continued to respect the Amish peoples' request not to photograph them.

Lehman's carries all the propane and wood appliances that Amish use. The Stove section looked like a museum to me. There is great variety beyond electric refrigerators and ranges.

Tonight was the dinner theater at Amish Door Restaurant and Village. Right before we were to leave, the news broke in that a funnel cloud was spotted right where this restaurant is. We decided to wait until the storm moved on.

We had a very good dinner of meatloaf and mashed potatoes instead of the broasted chicken and buttered noodles I was expecting. I had to bring my pie home because I was too full.

The play started and about 15 minutes into it the hostess stopped the play and directed us to the interior hallway. It was then we heard the sirens. We ended up in the hallway leading off the kitchen. They opened all the doors along that hallway and we ended up in the employee men's bathroom. I was leaning up against the urinal! I'm going to be on Ricks' blog tomorrow because he took my picture!! After an all clear we were able to return to the dining room and see the rest of the play.

We had no problems here at the campground. We were safer at the restaurant than we would have been here in the RV. I hope the bad weather clears out before the weekend.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Day Three - Still Busy

Ted went for coffee again this morning with the Mayor and I took my time getting dressed and straightening up. I took a picture of the Amish farm right behind us in the next field. The Amish farms here are just beautiful.

He decided to wash the truck and trailer (so what else is new?) so Brenda and I decided we would go by ourselves to buy the chicken legs I needed for tonight's potluck.

We went to a small market in Mt. Eaton but they didn't have a meat department so we headed to Kindron. They told us to go to the Country Market but we passed Gerber's Poultry and decided to try there. I was able to buy Fresh Amish Chicken and they even iced it down for me. We put it in Brenda's hot/cold bag and continued on into town.

We came to a building that said Mennonite MCC Thrift Store. We speculated that maybe it meant Mennonite Country Club but we doubted it. But we decided to go in anyway. One half was a quilting/weaving area and the other was the thrift store. It was as neat and tidy as any department store you could enter. I so wanted to take a picture of about a dozen older Amish women hand quilting a single large quilt. I know they don't like their picture taken so I respected that and took just the quilt when they left for lunch.

The lady at the rug loom talked to us and said it was OK to take her picture and the other non-Amish ladies that were quilting. It was fascinating to watch them work.

We left there and went to Lehman's Hardware. This store has everything you can imagine. I was looking for a soup tureen but the only one I found was made in China and I just wouldn't buy it.

We came home, had lunch and then went to play bingo. I think I was playing a game called "see how many numbers you can cover and still not bingo!" I never won a single game. Brenda won one. I had to come home to get my chicken ready for the oven and she took a nap.

The organizers came around to take our picture for the CD that is being made so we put on our cowboy hats to identify us as part of the Texas Boomers. We also have Amish hats (long story) so we went with Rick and Brenda to the buggy that is here and took pictures of each other. I also took a picture of a real bear (dead) that is in the game room. He was shot in Alaska and there are pictures but I don't know the connection between the hunter and the campground.

Dinner was unbelievably good. They needed four tables for all the food. My chicken legs and Rick's sausage were all gone and that's a good sign.

After dinner, Jungle Terry came in his Land Rover and showed us his animals. He had a great personality and was really enjoyable. Ted is holding a corn snake and the python was a big hit with everyone.

After all that there was the movie RV with Robin Williams complete with popcorn and a campfire. Rick never stayed, I left after the dump station scene but Brenda and Ted stayed to watch the whole thing. I can only take so much stupidity and that movie hit it early on.

We have another big day tomorrow. More on that when it happens.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Rally Day Two

I was up early and went right to the shower house. It's huge and each personal area has a shower with an 8 inch head, a commode and washstand. Most campgrounds don't have such nice accommodations.

The guys have coffee with Petro the Mayor each morning so I finished getting dressed, straightened up and COOKED goetta for breakfast. I also boiled my eggs for deviled eggs as my contribution for the BBQ tonight. I know, I know. Making coffee, frying some goetta and boiling eggs isn't really cooking but it did involve the stove and having to do dishes. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Later on we attended a fire seminar. There are a lot of issues with rigs and tow vehicles that need to be addressed. Mack the Fire Guy was very informative and we learned a lot.

After lunch we started out on our scavenger hunt. There were five clues where we needed to get cards from businesses. I had gone through all the brochures and had a pretty good idea where to go. We got the first four OK but ran out of time for the fifth. The sheet isn't due back in yet so we'll go tomorrow to Mt. Hope and get the last one.

We browsed some of the stores but actually shopped at Troyer's Country Market in Berlin. We got a few groceries and sampled lots of their home made things. Once we get through with all these friend and family affairs, Brenda and I will be cooking each night most of the time.

We learned today that Jay and Stella aren't going with us. They are coming to Grand Lake St. Mary's for the weekend but when we leave they'll head towards Cincinnati and on to Texas. Their house sale fell through and they need to go home to regroup. We'll miss them but you have to do what you have to do.

Tonight's BBQ was great.I can easily skip the hot dogs and burgers and just eat all the wonderful salads. We won a door prize - the DVD "The Long, Long Trailer" with Desi Arnez and Lucille Ball. It will be fun to watch. I haven't seen it since I was a kid.

There is a band and campfire tonight. Rick, Brenda and Ted have already gone over so I better get out there.

Just wanted to shout "howdy" to all my friends and family out there. This part of Ohio is just beautiful and we're enjoying the mild weather and the wonderful people who live in these parts.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Kids Say the Darndest Things and Away We Go

Kara bought a Cinderella sundress for Morgan to wear when they go to Disney World in July. It has spaghetti straps and hung low from her shoulders so the straps needed to be shortened and I told Kara I would do that. When she put on the dress, I pulled the straps up and asked Morgan just where did she want it to hit. Now remember, she is five years old and weighs all of 37 lbs. She looked down at herself and said "Grandma, I just don't want my nickles to show. Cinderella will get scared and run into the bathroom." I hope you are laughing as hard as I did.

I waited all day Friday for someone from UPS to come and inspect my shadowbox damage. Instead, a driver came to "pick up the package." When I told him I needed an inspection, I had no package to pick up, he took off and I was back to square one. UPS finally agreed that I can take it home and have it inspected in Texas in September.

We left Kara's early so we could get a bite before the dance recital. Ally was magnificant. OK, I know I'm her Grandma but she is really, really good. Once again Patrick danced with her in the Dad/Daughter dance. Their music was a medley of Michael Jackson tunes and the whole audience was on their feet. It was great. I pulled the first three photos off her Facebook page. I took a picture of the nine costumes that had to be taken home and brought back on Saturday! And of course Grandpa presented her with a dozen pink roses.

It's become a tradition to go to Big Boy after the recital so nine of us did just that. Ted and I only had a diet drink since we had eaten beforehand.

Ted went to Detroit's Sportsmen's Congress to shoot Saturday and later we went to Mass at Sacred Heart with Kara's family and then to Max & Erma's for dinner. Afterwards we walked around a new Village Shopping Area and the kids played at several mini-playgrounds. It's new since we left the area and was very nice.

We left Michigan at 7:30 this morning and arrived in Mt. Eaton, OH around 12:30. We had our truck and rig weighed and then were led to our site. Rick and Brenda were two rigs in front of us so we all spent some time getting set up. We walked the park, played a game of corn hole and then went to the catered dinner. Afterwards there was a magician and a campfire. The rally is on!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Days Without Ted

Kristin was glad to see Ted Monday night and was able to show off her new kitchen and all the things I did when I was there in March. In the meantime, I went back to Addison Oaks and spent the evening by myself. On Tuesday, Kara brought the kids out after school and they played at the playground, we took some walks and eventually went to the pizza place for dinner. I ordered a small salad and sure am glad I didn't ask for a large one. Portion control, folks!

Wednesday I drove in and picked up Cassie. She and I went to Somerset Collection to do her birthday shopping. She wanted her ears re-pierced so we did that first. Then we were looking for a mini-skirt. I knew this was going to be a delicate balance between what she wanted and what I and her Daddy thought was enough material to cover her backside. She found a black and yellow skirt, a yellow peasant blouse and a black and yellow scarf. It looked OK to me so I hope her Daddy thought so too.

I bought a jacket at Macy's to take on our Europe trip, we both bought Father's Day cards and we had lunch at the food court and both ate Chinese. I had to get her home because she had a doctor appointment and I was meeting Pat and Barb for dinner so I hung around Kara's until it was time to go.

Pat and Barb are friends that go back to my days at Voplex, a Tier Two auto injection molder. They went bankrupt in the early 90s but I don't think they would have survived the recent events up here anyway. I went from there to Hoechst Celanese until I left for Florida in 1996. We had another three hour dinner and it was good catching up.

I stayed at Kara's because I had to pick the kids up from school again on Thursday. I expected Ted in the evening and we were going to go back to the RV. However, my Mother's Day present was delivered. The whole top corner of the box was bashed in and sure enough the corner of the frame is busted. So today I have to stay here to wait for UPS to come to inspect the damage. Ted went home to sleep and will come back in when he gets ready. He'll bring my clothes so we can attend Ally's dance recital tonight.

This is a shadowbox containing the baptismal gown used by my three daughters and first two granddaughters. There is a plaque with all their names and baptismal dates. Unfortunately Ted gets no press. It says "Daughters and Granddaughters of Donna Maiden Name/Last Name. It was wrapped so securely it took Kara and me 15 minutes to get it unwrapped. The fact that the glass didn't break from such an impact is a testament to that. I've been to JoAnne's where she had it done and have an estimate. The first mat holding the dress and the border mat are OK. The third burgundy mat has a crinkle and of course the frame corner is smashed. Kristin insured it so we may as well try to get it fixed. It has to be inspected where it was delivered so we can't take it with us and deal with it later. It's always something.

We aren't allowed to take pictures while the dance routines are going on tonight so I hope Kelly has some from rehearsals that I can share. Nine costumes, wow!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Go Blue!

We left the park Thursday about 7:45 in a light drizzle but by the time we hit I-75 it stopped and we had a cool, dry day for the rest of the trip. The roads in Michigan are horrible. We bounced around worse than on I-10 in Louisiana. We arrived at the park about 2:45 so it took a bit longer than usual. We did stop for fuel once and at rest areas twice.

The campgound has new concrete and aluminum fire pits. They are so deep however that you need a bonfire if you want to see the flames. All we see from our neighbor’s fire is the smoke! Bonnie, our favorite workamper, was here in our circle visiting with some folks when we arrived and we said hello to her. Her husband Jerry stopped by later on to greet us. They spent the winter in San Antonio and Bandera, TX. The office told us the other workamper who always had a bag of 1015 onions from the Rio Grande Valley hanging from his rig passed away recently.

We set up, grilled some brats and took a walk around the park. It was 67 when we arrived and is going down into the 50s tonight. Sure hope the furnace is working OK after all that bouncing around. I think we’re going to need it.

We’ve seen deer, raccoons,rabbits and a woodchuck already. This is a very nice county park with lots of space at each site. The best part is the two parking spots for each campsite.

The furnace works! I had it set on 63 and it came on through the night. There will be times out west that we’ll need it so I’m relieved it is fixed.

Friday we went to Sam’s school at 2 pm for his cupcake and juice box birthday party with his classmates. After that, until school let out, the kids did a nature scavenger hunt outside so we just stayed with them until dismissal. Sam chose Olive Garden for his birthday dinner so we took everyone except Patrick who was flying in from Delaware.

This birthday celebration is a three-day affair so on Saturday we met everyone (including Patrick and Sam’s friend) at the movies to see Up. It’s a Pixar 3-D movie for kids but is actually a beautiful love story about love, life, loss and redefining yourself in old age. We seldom go to the movies and the $108 it cost collectively for the 11 tickets reminded me why.

Pat and Kelly had to leave right after the movie so Kara’s family plus Sam’s friend and we went to the Rainforest Café for dinner. Morgan is scared of the thunder so I had to hold her each time it started. One time she was at one of the aquariums when it started and she literally took a flying leap into my lap! We came back to the RV and sat outside until it started getting dark and turned too cool. Tomorrow is Day 3 of the birthday weekend!

Sunday we went to St. Andrews to Mass at 12:30. What a choir they have! It sounded like a rock concert as we approached the church. The music was more liturgical during the service but when we were exiting they went right back to the boisterous music.

The third day of celebrating was about to begin. Allen’s Mom and her husband were there as well as Kelly and family. The rest were young families that are their friends. We had lots of appetizers and then pizza and salad and MORE CAKE! I had cupcakes at school, ice cream cake after Olive Garden, flaming volcano at Rainforest Café and now a Star Wars cake. Weight Watchers tells you to eat birthday cake of only those people you love. If they knew my family they would change that.

We had an appointment today to register Ted for Medicare. We’ll wait until January to sign up for SS benefits when he enters his full retirement year. The rules change about what you can earn during the year you turn 66. I'm just waiting to take mine when he takes his.

We are at Kara's and I'm doing laundry. Ted had a Metro Car pick him up for the airport. He is flying to Orlando tonight, will spend the night with Kristin and drive to The Villages tomorrow to visit the newspaper. Tuesday evening he flies to Denver and will return here Thursday evening. He thinks he has at least one more trip to Dallas/Fort Worth and then hopefully he’ll be done for the summer.

It’s been cool here at night and the furnace comes on. It goes down into the 50s and it gets into the 60s in the RV. It sure is great sleeping weather. Then the days are in the 70s with hardly any humidity. Ahhhhhhhhh.