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