Sunday, July 2, 2017

Mad Dash to Colorado ~ Six stops

When we left Michigan we were on a mission to get to Colorado by June 27th, which gives us a month to explore that whole state and a month in Utah before we head to Seattle to catch our cruise to Alaska in early September. So we moved fast spending only one night in all but one place.

Hartford City, Indiana

The first days drive of 217-miles took us to the Wildwood Outdoor Escape. We spent the night of June 20, 2017 here. It is a large campground with over 100 sites and a tent camping area. The sites are all grass and not exactly level but plenty long enough for the RV and tow-dolly. They are wider than normal and include a picnic table. We had water and electric but no sewer hook-up. WiFi was not great but our Verizon signal was strong. We paid $19.26 for the night with our Passport America discount.

There is a fishing lake and a swimming hole with a small beach. They have a volleyball court, playground, putt-putt golf and organized activities.
Lots of fish
Our drive to Hartford City was interesting. We thought smooth sailing awaited us as Indiana is pretty flat. Well, about half way to the campground we heard this clanking noise from outside the RV.
We pulled over and discovered that the screws that hold the side panel under the drivers door had worked loose. The panel was flapping in the wind.
So Les was trying to put in new screws on the side of the expressway while Nancy was praying he wouldn't get hit by a car or truck! After two stops, a couple of screws, some duck tape and wire we got it secured down.
Never a dull moment in our lives.

Cerro Gordo, Illinois 

233 more miles down the road we arrived at Tom and Carol's RV Park on June 21. Another interesting story. First, GPS had us make a right turn, when we should have turned left. Seeing we were in the middle of farm land we had to drive about 5-miles to circle back to the right place. When if we had turned left we would have been about 1,000 feet from the park. We finally get to the RV park and pull in only to discover there is no way out and we can't back up with the tow-dolly on. So we dropped the car and removed the tow-dolly and hooked it up to the car. Then we backed the RV out of the park. This was necessary as we needed to drive to the fairgrounds because there wasn't room at the RV park. Really, we can't make this stuff up.
We get to the Platt County Junior Fairgrounds just a couple blocks away and pull into our site only to discover that someone has stolen the 50 amp outlet. We move to the next spot where we can finally set-up. It was a very long day and close to 100-degrees out which makes it very hot inside. Our site was right next to one of the buildings and our door opened onto the road but it was only $10.00 for the night so you can't really complain. We had 50 amp electric and water hook-up. There was no WiFi but our Verizon signal was good.

Monroe City, Missouri 

On June 22, our 183-mile trip took us back across the Mississippi River.
We spent one night at the Mark Twain Landing. This is another large campground with over 200 RV sites along with tent sites and cabins and condos to rent. They have two catch and release ponds, a swimming pool, putt-putt golf and a number of activities. There is a small restaurant that serves pizza and wings and a general store with all your basic needs.
We were in site 187 and it is one of the more private ones. The pads are cement and the sites are wider than normal with a picnic table and fire ring. The only draw back is the water connection is on the wrong side of the RV, a good 50-feet away.
Luckily we had long enough hoses. WiFi was not very good but our Verizon signal was strong. We paid $28.24 with our Passport America discount.

Mayetta, Kansas

This was our first Casino RV Park. After driving another 254-miles we arrived at the Prairie Band Casino Resort. We spent the night of June 23rd here. The RV park with over 50 sites sits behind the casino. The sites are all pull through with full hook-ups.They are cement pads, very level and the grass area is wider than normal. They do not take reservations but have never had to turn anyone away. The park is very well maintained and really quiet. The bathrooms and laundry were exceptionally clean. The WiFi was strong as was our Verizon signal. We paid $26.50 after a $5.00 discount when we signed up for the free Players Card. We took the free shuttle from the park to the casino and then walked back. Once we got our Players Card we wandered around a little but neither of us are big on gambling plus they allow smoking through out the whole building so we didn't stay long.

South Hutchinson, Kansas

The 208-mile trip on June 24 to South Hutchinson took us through Florence, KS. We have found so many towns with Nancy's mom's name. We also saw a number of fires along the way - all controlled burns.

 The drive should have been closer to 180-miles but Nancy's navigational skills failed us a bit and we took a little detour. The Light House Landing RV Park was a nice surprise. We were expecting it to be noisy as it is right off Highways 50 and 14, nestled behind a sporting goods store and a truck stop. It was actually one of the quieter places we have stayed. It is a fairly new park and it has about 30 sites and four cabins that you can rent. It is designed to give you the feeling of an old frontier town on the prairie.
The office is in an old school house and the bathrooms and laundry building are made to look like a bunk house.

The sites themselves need a lot of work, we pulled into three before we found one that was close to level. They are all gravel pull through, with full hook ups. They are on the narrow side and the grass area is all weeds.
The camp is surround by prairie fields some filled with wild flowers. Just before the beautiful sunset a glider flew overhead.
The owners are working on improvements so things should get better. WiFi was good and our Verizon signal was strong. We paid $17.00 for the night with our Passport America discount.
Les picked some wild flowers -
Nancy's favorite

Deerfield, Kansas

On June 25 we made a stop about half way into our 185-mile trip to check out Dodge City. We were more than a little disappointed. We were expecting something along the lines of Tombstone, AZwhich we visited in March 2016. There really is nothing here except one museum. The walking tour takes you past mostly empty store fronts with a few hair salons and restaurants thrown in. 
Wyatt Earp
We walked the Trail of Fame which has stars in the sidewalk recognizing people who share in the history of the town, who helped build the town and who starred in the TV series Gunsmoke

There is a brewery and a distillery but seeing it was noon on Sunday neither one was open.

After leaving Dodge City we hit our last stop before Colorado. After six days of straight travel we needed a day of rest so we spent two nights at the Deerfield Beach Campground.  
This place was a surprise too, but not a nice one. It is probably one of the more dingy places we have stayed. When we pulled in we both looked at each other with quite a surprised look on our face. The majority of sites are permanent residents and most of them are not kept up very well. The sites are supposed to be all pull through but they are not, the site we pulled into didn't have anyone in either site so we were able to pull through one to get to the other. This means we were able to leave the car on the tow-dolly.  The sites are all weeds and not very level. 

Our site along with the rest of the place had trash on it, an old hanger, broken grill brush, bags, to name just a few things we saw. There were also 1000's of grasshoppers which was kind of fun - every time you took a step they jumped all over, which of course freaked out poor Mielikki! 
There is a small lake which we guess is where the Beach in the name comes from. It seemed well stocked with fish.

It is very quiet here which worked out fine for a place to just stay put for a day and catch our breath. There was also a pretty sunset one night. We paid $15.00 a night with our Passport America discount. We would have been pretty unhappy if we were paying $30 a night for this place! 

1,280 miles in six days, a new record for us. Another 227 and we will be in Pueblo, CO. 

Till we meet again...

Happy Trails to You!

Tips and things we have learned along the way
~ Roadside emergencies
You never know when something will go wrong while you are driving and you have to pull over and stop. There are some things to consider when this happens. 
~ 1. If you can make it to an exit that is the safest way to go, pull off and park in a parking lot or some where out of traffic. 
~ 2. If that is not possible and you need to stop right away you want to pull as far off the road as you can.
~ 3. If there are two of you have one watch traffic while the other works on the car or RV. On our first stop I was able to watch out the window and tell Les when traffic was coming so he could step around to the front of the RV. 
~ 4. Entrance ramps also make a good place to stop. Our second stop came just as we passed an exit, so we pulled over on the shoulder of the entrance ramp. This put us out of fast moving traffic and gave us a little more space for moving around. 
Just be aware of your surroundings, turn on your flashers, and do just what needs to be done to hold you till you are in a safe place to stop. 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Ohio and Michigan

Warren, OH

Nancy's sister Linda lives in Warren along with her niece Becky and her family, husband Jeff and two boys Luke and Grant. We had a great visit with all of them.
We were fortunate enough to arrive on June 9, 2017 which just happened to be Grants 9th birthday. Becky had a family barbecue to celebrate.
Fun was had by all. Grant can be a bit shy at times but his brother Luke makes up for that!
Grant received a new gaming system for his birthday and when he opened it he looked at Luke and said "Look what we got". Luke then received a set of controllers and was beyond excited.

The party extended into the wee hours for Linda, Becky and Nancy - yes they paid for it the next day. Poor Linda and Becky had to go to work!

We really enjoyed the down time just hanging out chatting and drinking coffee. Game night with the boys was a hoot, and Nancy didn't realize she should have dressed in character!
Grant as the disco turtle guy

Kathy, Jeff's mom let us park our RV on her farm. We were so grateful to have a safe place to leave it.

Belleville, MI

Home at last. While we now refer to Asheville as home, Michigan will always hold that title as well.
We stayed at the Wayne County Fairgrounds in Belleville arriving on June 13, 2017. The park is off of the I-94 service drive but set back far enough that the road noise is minimal. This is your basic fairgrounds park, gravel sites with a strip of grass. The sites are pretty narrow, and you can request a picnic table and fire ring if you want them. We had full hook-ups and the WiFi was pretty good. We paid $35.10 a night with our Good Sam Discount.
One week is just not long enough but we take what we can get. It makes it impossible to see everyone we want to see and of course our main focus is Katrina and Steve. There were a few lunches - pretty sure we gained some weight on this stop.
Les had lunch with the staff from Teamsters Local 214 and ran into Coach Carr while there. If you are like Nancy and have to be told who that is - he was the coach at University of Michigan.

Nancy had coffee with Terry, they met while she was the secretary at St Paul's Lutheran School where Katrina attended. Then she sold PartyLite with Nancy for a number of years. No picture but we had a great time catching up with each other.
Both Nancy and Katrina got to tour Lynne and Tom's new home while enjoying lunch with Lynne and Gail. Nancy and Gail have known each other since Kindergarten - yes, that is a very long time. It is always wonderful to spend time with them.

We also laughed really hard at the memories brought up at lunch with Mary Ellen, Lee Anne and Erika, another group that goes way back almost 30 years. These women were a big part of Katrina's childhood and for that we are both grateful.

The Bryson family came for dinner one night. Les's niece Jennifer, her husband Jim along with Sophia and Barrett. So nice to hang out and just chat. Sophia is just back from 5 months in Honduras and Costa Rica so it was great to hear her stories. Barrett just got engaged and we did have to laugh at his proposal story. Once again we didn't get any pictures - this is now becoming a family joke!

We always save at least one day with just Katrina and Steve and this time we spent a wonderful day downtown Detroit with them. There are a lot of people who do not like going to Detroit, but we love it.
Eastern Market has always been a favorite place so we hit that first. Sampled lots of yummy food and bought a ton of fruit and veggies.
Then we walked along the RiverWalk.  Wow!! They have done such an amazing job on it. So happy to see this. In our travels we have been in a number of cities that have created such cool places along their river fronts and we have always been sad that Detroit never used theirs to its full potential. Well, it has now.
The wide walkway gives ample space for walkers, joggers, strollers, wheel chairs and bikes. So many people out enjoying a beautiful day on the river.
Stairs help the height
There is a carousal, beach volleyball court and a food area along with plenty of places to sit and relax. Lounge chairs, benches and Adirondack chairs line the entire river.

Our walk started at the Ren Cen. There are water fountains to cool off and play in. We saw a number of small library house. They were filled with both adult and children's books. As lovers of books this made us very happy.
Green space everywhere, including a wetlands. Yes, wetlands where once there was a cement factory. As you wander the path there are places you can cross the river that is home to turtles, fish, frogs and birds. Never did we imagine that you could take a picture of the Ren Cen with cattails in it!
Art work dots the landscape as well.

We were treated to a display from the fire boat. Brought back lots of childhood memories for Nancy.

Just when you think it can't get any better you come across the Outdoor Adventure Center.
The theme is Bringing "up north" to downtown Detroit. They have accomplished this and more. A space that gives urban kids a chance to see, touch, and hear parts of nature they may not other wise experience. We all had great fun playing along with all the kids!

Steve always humors Nancy and poses in the cutouts ~ Kat won the bike race
Steve was not dressed for snow and Kat kept her Kayak upright
There is a large crop plane to climb in, swinging bridges to cross, rocks across the river to hop and bikes, kayaks, and snowmobiles to ride.

Smokey has been a life long

In one section you can "catch" fish and another has recordings of bird calls and the bird lights up on the wall.


Then we enjoyed a Beatles's music review at the Northville Winery while catching up with Amy. Amy and Nancy met 17-years ago while working at Scott Publications. Sharing stories and hard cider made for a perfect evening. Didn't get any pictures of Amy but did get some of Steve and his new friends and Kat and Steve. These two little kids were enamored with Steve's dreadlocks and chatted non stop. They were pretty darn cute.

The day wasn't done yet as we headed to the 40th birthday party for Nancy's nephew Michael. We missed the surprise part but as it turns out it wasn't much of a surprise as Michael came home early from work.

Michael and Jennifer
We did get to see a number of Michael and Becky's friends that we got to watch grow up.
The "Redford" Gang

Of course Linda and Becky again!

The amazing cake
that Becky made

A big thank you to Becky for capturing the moments so I could steal her pictures to use here.

Visiting wasn't done yet.

Tasha, Brad, Karen ~~ Steve, Les, Don
On Sunday, Les drove to London, Canada to see his family there and join in the reveal of the Roadster. His Uncle Don built the roadster almost 40 years ago for his daughters wedding. When Aunt Pat passed away the roadster was put in storage and hasn't been taken out for the last 18 years.
Les and Steve
Steve, Don's son pulled it out and refurbished it and started it back up on  Farther's Day. Uncle Don and Aunt Pat have always been a big part of Les's life so it was perfect that he was there for this big event.
Nancy and Connie got to do some art work while catching up with each other. The galaxy painting is to be used at her daughter Kim's graduation party for the guests to sign.

Tina ~ Steve ~ Mike ~ Nigel
Then Nancy joined the Fox family for a picnic at Kensington State Park. A family favorite park since Nancy was a child and continued with Katrina.
We met at the Nature Center where we enjoyed watching the large snapping turtles and checking out the displays.

Sydel and Auntie Kat looking for turtles 
Our timing was perfect as we were able to watch this guy eat his lunch of crawfish. Steve's nieces Cora and Sydel were especially thrilled as was his mom, Anne. Turtles and tortuous are here favorites.

Steve got up close and personal with the Sandhill Cranes.
As you can tell they are pretty used to people. 
Gift time
Then we enjoyed a delicious picnic and some down time. We celebrated Nigel and Mike as it was Father's Day. Les was in Canada so he missed out on this part. A big thank you to Anne for letting me use her pictures from the picnic.

Nigel ~ Mike ~ Tina

Grandma Chaloux & Tina
serving up their
delicious cheesecake

Cora ~ Rufus and cousin Matthew 

Sydel enjoying the day

It was the perfect day, blue skies with fluffy white clouds and a nice breeze to keep us cool.

Katrina ~ cousin Marion ~ Nancy

We are truly blessed to be able to call these people family.

Good-byes are always so hard but as we say without them we wouldn't have been together.

Now we kick it into gear and make a mad dash to Colorado.

Tips and things we have learned along the way
~ Keeping our cool 
We have discussed a number ways that we use to keep the RV cool on hot days. With very little insulation it can heat up pretty quickly. One way is the vent covers we purchased at Camping World. Table top fans help a lot as do the small fans we attached to the vents. We have also shared how we cover the windows with aluminum sun shades. Since the original tip we have improved on the design. Our large front window brings in a lot of heat on a sunny day. But sometimes the sun is only coming in one side of the window and we hate not being able to see outside all the time. 
The solution was to cut the shade into four separate pieces. Now we can can cover individual sections at a time. We use 3M-Command hooks and Velcro strips to hold it in place. 

Being in sections also make storing them easier. They fold up flat and fit behind the sofa. 
We have made one to fit every window in the RV including the door.
The piece on the door is
held on with Velcro strips
They slide over the pull down shades and by cutting a slit in the bottom the shade knobs hold them in place. The black out curtains that Nancy has made pull down in front of them. This gives us three layers of protection not only from heat but from cold as well.