Because We Can - Fulltime RV'ing

Journal Archive 7/21 - 7/31 2011

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July 21 Thursday

Moving on


The plan for the day was to bug out early, driving over to the Soo Lock Boat Tour dock and park the coach while we took the boat ride through the locks. We got the bug part right, but not the moving part. As you can see, the Mayflies were out in full force, and every RV in the park was plastered with them. To step outside was to stir the ones around the door, and when they flew, they landed where ever the chose, like inside the coach and anywhere on our bodies, skin preferred for some reason.


They were just as thick, if not thicker on the window awnings, and not wanting to have the awnings covered with the spots of squished Mayflies, I swept masses of Mayflies off before rolling the awnings up. I was amazed that in doing this they took wing but didn't settle immediately back down on the awnings, as I thought would happen. I sure wasn't going to have any squashed bugs showing as that would mean that she how decides such things would have me out on the ladder at our next stop washing the awnings to remove them. Okay, so maybe I would have done it on my own, but I know her extra encouragement, as it might be called, would have given me further incentive.


Checking with the office, we found it wouldn't be a problem if we left the coach at the site and then checked out a few minutes late. The reason for this was because we received an email saying Hughes was going to be changing our assigned transponder we receive our Internet satellite signal from sometime today and we would need to be online to receive a download. Perfect timing on their part I must say, what with our planned move and all today. In the end it either never happened, or it went perfectly, as we couldn't tell.

While the ride through the locks was $22 each, it was something Linda really, really wanted to do, and so did I for that matter, if nothing else than for the memories. Watching the deck hand standing right in front of us getting ready to throw the rope up to the person on top of the lock had us both laughing about the lockmaster in France who told Linda, after the way she handled the ropes, that she was "buff". And by the time we had ascended those 60 plus locks she had definitely developed some muscles she never thought she had.


The obligatory photo of the lock. Linda didn't get her wish of going through the lock with a freighter or other boat, but it was still really cool anyway. We went through the American locks going up and then came down through the much, much smaller Canadian lock. Linda summed it up pretty well when she said if we had hadn't been through all those locks in France, this would have just been another boat ride, as the size of the lock was simply overwhelming, but had there been a freighter in the lock with us, it would have been a different story.


Our destination for the day was a reminder of another trip, the one last summer to Alaska. Our plans are to hop scotch across the U.P., with most of the drives from RV park to RV park being 60 to 100 miles. There was a small farmers market in the town where we are staying for the next few days, and of course we had to go. We discovered some very good horseradish, as well as horseradish mustard. But the highlight were the dead fresh cherries with a taste somewhere between sweet and tart, that are the best we have ever had. We just never know when Sara is going to lead us to some special place.


Sometimes we just have to relax and reflect on the day. Actually it wasn't so easy tonight as there were some insects that not only bite, they drew some serious blood, or at least they left some serious blood where they had been. The cherry cooler, habanero cheese, garlic chili pepper cheese and fresh cherries provided a nice distraction from the insects, and besides that, they really tasted great. I guess I could add that we must have really tasted great to those bugs, also.


Cherries mean cherry pits, and cherry pits mean cherry pit spitting. Linda actually managed to launch several monster spits that cleared her shoes and landed in the grass a few feet in front of her. I, on the other hand, got one all the way to the far side of the road. Linda has many talents, but she'd be the first to admit that cherry pit spitting is not one of them. She is a pretty good photographer as evidence by the fact she caught my pit in mid flight. It is between the two lower leaves at the top right of the photo, if you didn't see it.


Yesterday we had stumbled across a special on a whole beef tenderloin, so now we have a number of meals of it in the freezer and several cuts to eat over the next several days. Biting bugs? So what when Life is so good.

162 .8 2.1

July 22 Friday

A long day of touristing


Whitefish Point Lighthouse and the adjoining Shipwreck Museum on Whitefish Point were some 50 miles or so from where we were staying, but with Tahquamenon Falls State Park located at about the half way point, it made for an nice day trip. While the lighthouse and museum are a long way from anywhere, they are certainly not unknown, mostly because any road you drive on in this part of the U.P. has signs advertising The Shipwreck Museum. While it wasn't crowded, there were still a lot of people there for as remote as it is, meaning all that advertising seemingly works.


The museum admission was $13 per adult, with an additional $4 to take a tour of the lighthouse, and of course we did both. The museum was fantastic and worth every penny, as it was much more than just the museum. Besides being a very well done museum, it included the keepers house, the lifesaving station and also a movie. Mute testimony to how well done it was, was the long length of time people would spend in front of the different exhibits. And yes, we did the lighthouse as well as the museum.


It was certainly a different style of lighthouse than we are used to seeing on the West Coast, with its narrow winding staircase, plus there was very little room at the top. That is not the purpose of this photo however, which is to show that Linda is not the only one who grabs a hold of railings and such with their hands when standing on high places. I'll admit to really liking lighthouses but also disliking the fact that they are high. As an added bonus with this one, I also don't like confined spiral staircases, but it was a lighthouse, so up we went.


This one is for our grandson Zachary just to let him know that we found two more penny smashers on today's trip. The one here and another one at the falls. He just got the last batch from us, and every time he does, his mom enjoys telling us how he gets his smashed penny passport case out, and not only puts the new one in it, but also likes to talk about what they are about. And not only just the new ones, but also the old ones, which considering he now has two passport books of smashed pennies, is giving him a good education in a way we never could have imagined when we sent that first smashed penny to him years ago.


Just a couple of comments on the actual shipwreck museum part of the shipwreck museum. While it is not large, it is very, very well done, taking you from the first days of boats on the lake, up to modern times and the most famous of all shipwrecks on Lake Superior, the Edmund Fitzgerald. Combining facts and quotes, along with some relics from each shipwreck, it weaves a tale of heroism and horror, triumph and tragedy, as well as painting a poignant picture of what took place at that moment in time with its photographs.


Sometimes we just have to eat in order to keep going, but even though Linda had packed a lunch, plus we are both trying hard to eat better, the pasties in the snack bar lured us into doing what we wanted to do instead of what we thought we should. Linda had chicken, while mine was beef, and we both thought we had made the best choice. We joked about how this should fulfill our hunger for these delicious little meat and potato pies, but in the end we decided it had only whetted our appetite for more. With most of the U.P. yet to be explored, I have to think there will be more on the menu before we leave Michigan.


On the way back to the RV park we stopped at both lower and upper Tahquamenon Falls. Besides a trip down memory lane for us, it also broke up the long drive, even if the weather was definitely hot. Linda found a way to make it more interesting by bringing along some cherries so we could engage in another spitting contest as we walked the paths. What can I say, some people are easily entertained. And yes, the water does look golden, as it has a very high level of tannins.


Per Linda the views of the falls were great, especially the upper falls, it was just the long climb back up to the trail that wasn't so much fun. And as you can see below in the closeup of this photo, she had her own unique way of expressing it, and that's all I had better say before I get into real trouble.


163.6 .8 2.9

July 23 Saturday

A day of nothing

We could have guessed that after yesterday's long day of touristing, today our get up and go was not to be found, and such was the case. We know there are days when we don't feel like doing much of anything, and today that feeling was present in abundance. There is always TV, the computer and books, as well as general house keeping, so in that way it was no different than a lazy day anywhere except there was no grass to mow or other such things that had to be done, not that we miss them. And so this Daily Journal is going to be just as brief as the number of things we did during the day.


Not the prettiest picture, but one that shows the results of those biting insects [Editor's comments - think they are black flies also known as buffalo gnats - nasty buggers] of the other night. Reading about them, we could see that there was a time lag between the bite and the red, itchy spot that formed. Well, that time lapse had happened and today, Linda was slathering on anti-itch cream with great vigor. I wasn't always sure whether it was to apply the cream or so she could get some itching in, but at least it seemed to relieve her symptoms.

As might be expected, her being such a gentle sensitive soul in more ways than one, I didn't have it nearly as bad. She had bites in many places, all of which were itchy. I had a small number of bites, and only one that seemed to itch. I made sure not to tease her about this because if my body's reaction to the bites is merely delayed a little, it wouldn't be pretty if I find it necessary ask her for help with my bites if I had teased her about her bites.


Even if we didn't do anything special, we still had to eat, and eat well we did. As I have said so many times, the fulltime Life is different things to different people, but in the end, no matter how one lives it, it is a Life most fulltimers wouldn't exchange for any other. We know it has opened our eyes in ways we could never have imagined and allowed us to do things that many only dream about.

163.4 .2 2.7

July 24 Sunday

Into the past


She, who for the time being is known as "Spot", is doing her best with those itchy bites. Until we leave this place we are going to be inside people, even though there are several RV's around us where the people are outside all the time. Linda's rule is simple. Better to stay inside than to stink like insect repellent all the time. When I said, "But we only need to spray it on us when we go outside." She replied, " And just how do you plan on getting that smell off of you before you come back into the coach?" Like I said, we are temporary inside people.


With today being the last stage of the Tour de France, and finishing in Paris, we sure got the Paris itch, so much so that we now plan on definitely spending some time there next year when we again travel for a couple months in Europe. It is a long time until then, and any plans are mere whisps in the bug spray, but the travel for today was real. Since it was again a relatively short drive, we were in no hurry to leave, but this time we outsmarted ourselves. The forecast called for scattered thunderstorms, and of course just as I started hooking up the Explorer one had to occur, lasting only the length of time it took to finish that task. It was an omen, though we didn't know it at the time.


Since the park we are going to has only electric hookups, we wanted to arrive with a full water tank, which I had filled with the good water we found at Sault Ste. Marie, and also with both waste tanks empty. The latter being even more important because there is no dump station at the next place, even though it is a state park. Pulling out to begin the drive, the Aladdin Jr. monitoring screen decided this was time to turn into a snowy gray mess instead of displaying all the engine readings, as well as the rear and side cameras. There are the dash gauges for the engine, but I was missing the rear camera to check on the Explorer. To fast forward, about 30 miles down the road the monitor started working again, just as has happened on other occasions. It's either that the loose wire I think I fix each time just comes loose again or the monitor just has a mind of its own. Really, it's got to be something loose, but just what that is remains another of those mysteries of Life.


Our drive to Fayette was uneventful except for one small miscue, but with the way the day was going, it shouldn't have been unexpected. Linda had done a great job of checking Google Earth and Street View to know where the Park entrance was, but when we came to it, we thought it was further down the road than it was. That was because just after we turned of US 2 to drive down here, there was a sign that said Park 17 miles, Campground 20 miles, so we thought we needed to stay on this road for another 3 miles, but when the green of the park disappeared off the GPS we knew we had missed the turn we needed to make. It may not be apparent, but there are gloves on my hands in the photo, the gloves I use when unhooking the Explorer. No turnarounds to be found so it was turn off onto a side road, unhook, back the coach out onto the highway and drive back to the Park. It was close enough so that Linda followed in the Explorer which was probably a good thing as it prevented any conversation between us, even though we had laughed about the situation when it was happening.


Once we arrived at the Park we realized why so many people come here even though it is a ways off the beaten track. Both the park and the campground are special. You might notice that there is a tent, a popup and our motorhome in this photo which should give you a clue as what was special about the campground. Also note the tree leaning at a precipitous angle at the entrance to very long pull thru site.


Closeup of the tree at the entrance to our site. After we were parked, a neighbor told us the people who were in here before us, had to have the help of two Rangers to get out of this site in their 5th wheel and even then, it took over an hour. When we booked this site just a week ago, we wondered why it was available, and now we knew.


Just like everyone else with a big rig has obviously discovered, getting into this site proved to be a bit of a challenge. I thought I had room to swing into it, but didn't. Linda bless her heart was doing her best to warn me, but there were too many things to look out for, including all the little kids playing all over the place. Fortunately other than a little scraped bark, nothing else seemed to be damaged, as I stopped the moment I felt something, then turned the wheel farther in the right direction to get more clearance, I back out. Looking at where the coach's pivot point was and where the tree touched the coach, one more foot and it would have probably cleared. It least there is no real damage, or maybe I should say that it doesn't appear that there is. From all the old scars at different heights on that tree , I knew I wasn't the first one to get up close and personal with it. So looking back I had to wonder, was the morning rain while hooking up the Explorer just something that happened, or was it really an omen? By the way, we got into this pull through site by backing into it the other end, but not without the help of all the neighbors, and most were amazed we could get an RV that big into this site.


After getting setup, we took a walk over to the town site, which sits in a little cove on the shore of Lake Michigan. We took time to walk through several of the old buildings, but since we are spending two full days here, there was no rush to see it all, and besides it was hot. As we strolled among the structures there were some great views of the water with the old buildings in the foreground, and at those times I was ordered by she who forgot her camera, to take photos in certain ways of certain things. It makes me think that she is going to use them in the blog that she occasionally writes, so no water photos for me, at least for today.


The coach's travel planner in action. Typical of state parks, our site is great, even if it wasn't easy getting into it. One bad thing is that we do not have either satellite or phone connections, so you will be reading this a few days after the fact. In the meantime we are going to be enjoying our time here, reading, relaxing and enjoying Life. From Linda's comments I believe she is also going to be thinking about how we are going to be getting out of this site. I think we will have all the neighbors watching when we do, so it should be easy. Besides, as Alfred always said with a big smile on his face, "Who, me worry?"

163 .4 2.3

July 25 Monday

Exploring Fayette


If there ever was any doubt we were in a campground and not an RV park, the smoke wafting upward through the trees early this morning dispelled that thought. While there are a few other motorhomes here, none appear to be 40 footers or bigger. There are also a number of 5th wheels, but it is just a matter of getting the right site for any larger vehicle. We have seen several sites that are not very long, but are wide enough that a larger RV could easily fit sideways. However they seem to be occupied by large numbers of tents instead of an RV. This place is definitely one of those surprise parks when it comes to large RV's.


We were going on the first town tour of the day, as declared by she who decrees such things. That worked out good for her because it meant she could hibernate as long as she wanted this morning, and still be on time. I, on the other hand managed to get myself into trouble over it. It seems that I wasn't quite ready when she was ready, even though she had spent the last ten minutes before she said, "We need to leave now!" in the bathroom area. When I protested that I couldn't brush my teeth with her standing in front of the sink, she pointed out that I should have gotten ready earlier. With the wisdom gained from decades of marriage to this woman I did not say what I was thinking, 'Why didn't you get ready earlier.' After all I think it is better to be flogged and live another day, than to be literally torn to pieces on the spot.


We did make it in time for the tour, in fact we were way early [Editor's comment: 4 minutes]. So early that I wandered off, then returned just a few moments after the tour started, but with the number of people there I was safe from a grizzly attack. The best part was that the weather was great, and with what we learned on the tour, it made the remainder of the day far more interesting. The only negative was that my earlier shenanigans had cause Linda to be a little testy, meaning we did what she wanted to do after the tour. As was pointed out to me by she, "If you would learn to do things when you are supposed to, then maybe we would do the things you want to do." I wonder if this was another of those maxims they taught the girls in Home Economics back when she went to school.


A model of Fayette that is in the visitors center. Much of the town no longer remains, but what does was throughly explored by us over the course of the day. We actually ended up walking over to the townsite from the campground three different times, and each time we found something new and interesting. The fact that it was a company town meant there were business records that were preserved, and they used these to tell the story of many of the buildings. We have really enjoyed all the historic state parks we have been at in Michigan and look forward to seeing several more as we travel westward towards copper country.


The town was built for the sole purpose of making what was termed charcoal iron, where charcoal was used instead of coke as the heat source. This produced a high grade of iron that was used in the railroad industry. The iron was produced in two furnaces, then cast into pigs to be transported to the mills where it would be turned into finished products. And yes, that pig is definitely heavy. Then with the advances in steel making at the end of the 19th century, coupled with the decimation of hardwood forests in the area, the hardwood being used to make the charcoal, the plant was shut down in 1891. What is left tells the story of the town and the people who lived there.


Some buildings are in fairly good condition, others, such as the store shown here are in varying states of decay, but most all of them, even bare areas of ground, have interpretive signs explaining what they were. Additionally, many of the signs have historical photos of the building or the area to give you a better understanding of what it looked like those 100 plus years ago. It was better done that many of the National Park Service Historic Sites we have visited over the years, and was a real joy to visit.


Just like everyone else at the park, after a while it seems like you can see old things no matter where you look. After we returned from our last walk over to the park, it dawned on me that even though I hadn't kept track, I was sure Linda had set a new all time record today for the greatest number of rocks removed from her shoes in one day. In her defense I will point out that all the paths in the park are fine gravel, the kind that those Keen's of her's attract with every step. Smart woman that she is, when I suggested she walk alongside the paths in the grass, that is exactly what she started to do. Good thing too, or we wouldn't have seen half of what we did, what with all the time that would have been spent in rock removal. One thing I didn't do was point out that all that time, I never did get a rock in my Teva's which are more open than here Keen's. Maybe the reason she picks up so many rocks has something to do with that grizzly gait of hers, but then again, that is just wild conjecture on my part.


In the late evening we walked back over to the townsite to watch the sun set out over the lake. Knowing who is royalty and who is of the servant class, I quickly constructed a pile of rocks upon which she immediately enthroned herself. The sunset was more than awesome, coming close to those of the west. Note the sunlight reflected in the windows of the building behind her. Meanwhile, I walked along the shoreline looking for things unusual, while she found more than I did by just sitting there and looking carefully around her feet. In the end we both had a great time and that is all that counts.


I really wasn't going to post a sunset photo, really truly. But when I discovered that Linda had taken "Glow Bob", I couldn't help myself. I admit to being a little fuzzy in the head at times, with more times than usual today, but guess what, Life is just like that. And then again, sometimes Life is even better than you think it is.

161.6 1.4 .9

July 26 Tuesday

Off the beaten track


Fayette sits about 2/3 of the way down a peninsula that juts out into Lake Michigan, so today we decided to explore the lower end of the peninsula. A look at the map showed only one road down there, but having found that side road to turn around on the day we arrived when drove past the park, we knew there were more. A quick check with both the GPS and Streets and Trips confirmed that indeed, there were a number of roads, most of which either seemed to loop back on themselves or just dead end. With the thrill of exploration coursing through our veins we loaded up the Explorer with extra food and water, and then headed south southwest to where the roads led.

We passed by the road where we turned around the other day, continuing on till we came to the little village, if it could be called that, of Fairport. At the end of the road was a marina that marked this as a fishing village. We had thought there might be an RV park down here where we could spend a few more days before heading back north to the shores of Lake Superior, and while there was a small grassy area where fishermen could park an RV or put up a tent, it was not what we were looking for. Though based on the number of fishing boats scattered among the tents, it looked like it was great for fishermen. Then it was off to explore the back roads, which like most of side roads up here, were gravel roads.

Linda had found a road leading out to a point which according to our Streets and Trips, had a summer ferry plying between it and a nearby island, so that was where we were going. Understand this wasn't a case of just turning off the main road and following a road straight to where we were going, no, not at all. First we had to find the road, which first involved missing the road that lead to the road, that lead to another road that finally lead us to the road to where we wanted to go. As luck would have it, we ended up turning around at the same road we did the day we arrived, only this time from the opposite direction. Once away from the main, read paved, road it started to become fun as we started down a gravel road.

We followed the gravel road for quite a distance, then turned onto another gravel road that wasn't quite as wide, but was even more dusty than the first one. I knew I didn't have to worry about anyone zooming past me because the road was definitely a single lane, so much so that wondered how two vehicles could pass each other. You also didn't have to worry about anyone coming the other way unexpectedly either, since the road was dead level and perfectly straight. Besides that you could have seen their dust cloud from a long ways away. We did meet an old battered pickup truck, but that was where we were both making a turn onto another road, but traveling in opposite directions, so we were lucky.

Then the smooth dusty gravel road turned into something more akin to a shake rattle and roll road, as huge shallow pot holes occurred over a long stretch. Then after one more turn the gravel simply disappeared and the road became just two tracks with some grass growing in the center. The interesting thing was that there was no sign of any buildings or side roads this entire time, so it wasn't like there was less traffic here because everyone was reaching their destination.


When the two wheel tracks began disappearing, it started to become fun. As Linda said, "This is what I like so much about out West, we can get away from everything and everyone and explore places with no one else around." I had to agree that there was definitely no one else around, and getting out of our aptly named Explorer to make sure there was still a road ahead, it looked like no one else had been here for a long time either. That was when Linda piped up with, "Well if there is a ferry at the end of this road, it sure isn't going to be crowded." There is no way I can not help but love a woman like that.


Eventually we reached that point where there was no more road, just the fact that there seemed to be an opening through the trees. To my question of did she want to continue, the answer was, "Yes, of course. Lets see where it goes." Easy to say when you're not driving, as I was hoping the road didn't suddenly drop off a cliff at the edge of the lake, as we drove on. We knew we were either on the road or very close to it because the GPS was showing a very jagged line in front of us as we turned time and again trying to follow the high grass and stay out of the trees.


What it looks like when you are not on the road. Both the view to the front and the GPS are telling you that this is definitely not the way to go. I could only imagine someone blindly following their GPS as it led them to this place, after all it is hard to believe we came here on purpose. Eventually we did reach the end of the road, if we had followed could be termed a road. You have to admit the GPS was definitely more optimistic than we were, what with that line out over the water. The only thing we could think of was that there was a either a ferry service that didn't ferry anyone, or Michigan had its own bridge to nowhere.


This one should be titled, Ferry, what ferry? I've looked everywhere and there is no ferry, and I'll be darned if I see the bridge the GPS says is there either.


Don't think for a second that we were alone, we weren't. Not that there were any people around, but that didn't mean they hadn't been here in the past and weren't coming back in the future. The only way we could see bringing this trailer in here was very, very slowly over that road that really wasn't a road, or by loading it on a barge and using the water, or possibly by pulling it over the ice in the winter. There was also a very nice outhouse nearby, as well as a modern garage, probably where ATV's or snowmobiles could be kept. We finally decided it was likely used for hunting, but then again who knows. As Linda so aptly summed up that trip, "It just goes to prove that many times it really is the journey and not the destination that makes the trip so much fun."


The drive back out was just as interesting as the drive in, but we weren't done driving, though once on the paved road, we stayed on the paved road. There's a young lady in our family who has her tenth birthday coming up, and with her presents all boxed up and ready to be mailed, it was off to the town of Garden to find the post office. While there Linda learned that if we went up the hill north of the post office and pulled into the parking area, we could likely get a Verizon signal, so that is just what we did. The post mistress was right, and after a few calls we had our plans made for the next few days. If you look under the church steeple in the photo you can see the front of the Explorer sticking out, a place where there really is Verizon reception. Wonder what the reception would have been if we had walked up to post office window in a big town and asked if they knew where we could get a Verzion signal.


On the way back to the park was the local cemetery, and almost as if on autopilot, the Explorer turned into it. Just as we were getting out of the Explorer, Linda called out, "Look up there." Not knowing where the there of up there was, I looked over at her to see her excitedly pointing to what you see in the photo, which was atop a high pole at the edge of the cemetery. We watched, we took photos, we walked through the small cemetery, we listened to the cries of the large bird in front as we moved closer, we watched as it took flight, flying around above us, then finally settling back down on the nest.

We didn't know what it was at the time, and not being bird people we still are absolutely sure, but after looking in our bird books, we think it was an osprey nest. It doesn't really matter though, what does mater was that once again it was something special that we never expected. To think, we could still living in our house planning on someday doing something, a something that will most likely never happen. What we were doing was sitting around a campfire in the evening, laughing about our day's adventures, and wondering what tomorrow will bring as we head to an RV park where the lady on the phone said, "Whatever you do, don't follow the way the GPS will send you. If you're not sure where to turn, call and I'll talk you in." Sounds exactly like the kind of place that we love staying at. Remember: Life is not a dress rehearsal. Don't be afraid to laugh, love and retire early.

161.2 .4 .5

July 27 Wednesday



Guess I just got carried away with writing yesterday, but sometimes what we fall into just needs to be told. As for today, the main objective was to move, but not to where we had planned on going. Originally we thought we would be spending the weekend in Munising, which we partly are, but starting on Saturday and going through Friday, and not today through Sunday like we thought we might. No problem really, as we found a place in Manistique for three nights, which should gives us a chance to explore an area we hadn't thought we would be in, and then we will get to spend more time in Munising that we thought we would. Sara probably had a hand in this, so we know it will be interesting.

We knew that getting out of our site at Fayette wouldn't present nearly the problem that getting into had. That was mostly due to the fact that both campsites across the road, and into which I would have to swing when leaving, had tents in them, leaving me more than enough room to pull out without have to do a lot of back and forth like we had to when we backed into this pull thru site. Linda walked in front of me the entire way around the circle, making sure I was clear of the numerous overhanging branches, and while we did pick up a few leaf parts and the like on the way out, that was all.

We actually had no problems finding the RV park, by following our GPS that we weren't supposed to follow when arriving from the west. That was because Linda had over ridden the route the GPS wanted to take and put in her own route. I know she spends a lot of time getting our routes worked out, and even though it may seem like I don't always appreciate the actual route, I do appreciate the fact she tries to do her best, and today's route was a breeze.

Before we left, I did change Red Rob's water, it having been 10 days since the last change. It took him several weeks to get used to his new surroundings, but it was when we put those bigger rocks Linda picked up along the shore of Lake Superior, that he really perked up. He likes to hide behind the plant at night, but during the day, he is usually out swimming with fins fully extended. We also can see the intensified coloration he has at the tips of his fins, as well as the blue shading on his sides. A very low maintenance pet that brings a smile to our faces, and doesn't make any noise, what more could we ask for? Besides, many fulltimers have dogs and/or cats, but how many have fish?


When I took this photo Linda was putting away the dishes I had just dried, or at least that was what it looked like she was doing. While it was true that she was putting the dishes away, what she was really doing was watching the neighbors getting ready to leave. She would walk over put her hands on some dish or other thing, then lean down and look out the window. I had to laugh because at the rate she was going, it was going to take her all day to get them put away. Thankfully the neighbors pulled out not long after I took the photo, meaning that we too were able to leave on time. One thing I have tried to do, though not always with success, is to celebrate these sometimes odd traits of hers, rather than let them grate on me. Which for example, is how frequent facial flatulence became grizzly growls and is something she only does around me, or so she says. On second thought, maybe it really is a grizzly growl.


Arriving at our destination for the next few nights, we noted some parallels with the place we had just left, one of which was that this was also not a very friendly place for larger rigs. We ended up under a tree, so no satellite, though at least we had Verizon coverage so we immediately uploaded both of the Because We Can websites, Linda having discovered that when there was no Facebook, she actually had time to write her blog, or as I tease her, put up a bunch of pictures along with a few words. She states right on it that it is our travels written from a woman's perspective, but if that is the case, why is it mostly pictures? Just another thing about her I'll never understand. As a totally shameless plug for her, here is the link to Because We Can II.


Remember that previous photo of the slideout near the fence post? There is a story there. Once we had pulled into our, no satellite reception site, we immediately hooked up the electric, water and sewer. I don't always know why we do what we do, and maybe this was because the water and electric hookups were on the wrong side, which meant we had to fish them under the coach to reach the outlets. Then before we started to put out the slides, Linda said, "Do you think we have enough room for your slide?" It wasn't long before we had the tape out confirming that, no we didn't have enough room, as we were 2 inches too close.


We only needed those two inches, but if two was good, six was far better. Turn the wheels all the way to the side and back up a few inches and we'd be okay. Problem was we were almost to the extreme limit of the water hose, and I was afraid that a little too much in the wrong direction and we'd have major problems. We weren't going in the wrong direction, but better safe than sorry, so we ended up unhooking both the water and the electric. In the end we saw we really wouldn't have had to, but what with recent unpleasantness with the tree, we were not going to be taking any chances.


Along with that, "better safe than sorry", thought about the fence, was the "I'd better check the place were we touched the tree, now that we have driven the coach again", thought. It also gave me a chance to clean the bark off, giving us a little less of the, wonder what they hit, look. All was well, everything was tight, and other than the slight indentation in the rail where the slide topper fastens to the coach, you couldn't tell it from the other end.


In the late afternoon we drove into town, just to see what was there. And that was when Linda saw the sign announcing the Farmers Market. As you can see, the sellers gained some income and we took home some great looking food. There was a lot more in the way of produce at this market than the others we have shopped at in the U.P., but this one was later in the summer, so we would expect that.


As they say, our take was great. Linda was really excited about finding the grass fed beef, as she has become a total believer in how much better it tastes than grain feed beef. Personally, my preference is buffalo for the best there is, but I still rate grass fed beef as head and shoulders above regular beef when it comes to taste. Of course as might be expected, we didn't eat anything we bought for supper, which was fish stew. Something old, something new, a place we came to that we didn't plan. Places to go and see that we never knew about. Another RV park where we don't quite fit in, but a town that is the kind we like. Just another day of Life being led around by our intrepid guide, Sara N. Dippity.

161.2 0 .5

July 28 Thursday

Into Manistique


Fresh wild blueberries with yogurt over cereal, meaning that this morning we ate something we bought at the farmers market, and was it ever good. I think we were both a little lazy though, what with Linda spending her extra time in bed, while I poked around at writing the Daily Journal, finally writing another near book length one like the day before.


While this may look like Linda is cooking something, she really isn't, or at least she isn't cooking food, she's boiling our washclothes. It's not really as bad as it sounds, and besides it was just a failed experiment. We wear sandals all the time which means that our feet get dirty, which means they must be washed, which means the wash cloth gets stained from that dirt, especially since they are white, or at least once were white. Linda remembered boiling clothes with soap to get them clean from her hill girl days, so she gave it a try. The only thing it did was to remove the dye from one of them that she dyed herself. In the end it turned out to be a case of something tried, nothing gained, and we decided we would buy a package of darker colored washclothes that won't show the dirt when the time comes to replace these. See, a fulltimers Life isn't just about visiting tourist attractions, eating and spending time with friends. Sometimes you face real problems like this.


We did have a more interesting afternoon visiting Manistique which is by far the biggest town in the county, and one of the few survivors from the days when lumber ruled the area. We had read about their famous boardwalk, and wanted to take a stroll on it along the shore of Lake Michigan, but first we had to find it. Marina's are on the water, so we parked in the marina lot, then ended up walking in the wrong direction away from the water at first.

You have to understand that once we found the boardwalk, we decided their definition of a boardwalk and ours was different, since to us a boardwalk has boards, and to them a boardwalk is a path that is a mix of asphalt and concrete paths, roads, as well as a few boards on occasion, but no boards were to be found around here which was what we were looking for. If you think you are confused, so were we. Linda decided that the marina area was pretty enough for the time being, and ordered me to stand near the edge so she could take this photo, making sure those lily pads were in the background.


Once we had wandered in the wrong way long enough, we finally returned to the docks, where this photo was taken. Looking at it, it appears to be taken for a reason other than showing that Manistique is really a full fledged city that even has a place were you can go wine tasting, even if it is in a former tin shack. We didn't walk over for a taste, as we were still trying to find that illusive boardwalk, but maybe we will the next time, if there ever is a next time.


We eventually found the boardwalk, even if it was an asphalt path, eventually ending up at this lighthouse at the entrance to the harbor. Back in the days when the town was a major lumber port it was a very important navigational aid. Today it still marks the entrance to the harbor, but mostly it is just something that tourists walk out to, take a few pictures and leave.


We strolled along the asphaltwalk, finding a few short sections of actual boards, believe it or not, then becoming tired and hungry, we ate our lunch at roadside picnic spot. I know, I know, but you will just have to walk that asphalt boardwalk to understand why it's a roadside picnic spot. That was when I learned that lunch was still back at the Explorer, or at least part of it was, and what we had here was a snack of carrots, cucumbers and a few pieces of cheese. I call this the, you want make to make something of it, well do you punk, pose. Which means I ate without saying another word about what she had brought along for us to eat.


The people sitting at the nearby picnic table probably wondered why we were taking photos of the concrete boardwalk and laughing about it. It looks like my head has sprouted a number of wild twigs, which caused Linda to name me fluff head. Then she started laughing and telling me that a few days ago I was halo head and today I was fluff head. Fortunately I kept my mouth shut, preventing me from becoming bashed in head. You know, I've been around people who are real sour pusses, never laughing, and I always wondered why they bothered getting up in the morning. If any of them are reading this, though that would be a fluke of nature, they probably wonder the same thing about us when our day has something like this in it.


Small towns are the best, Manistique having a population of 3500, and the stores downtown along the main street are definitely not chain stores. With that, Linda got her shopping fix in, while I walked around looking at all the old and interesting buildings. Think of her being the inside person and me being the outside person. I think the fact it was very hot and humid might have also had something to do with her being the inside person. We spent almost two hours in our respective roles, and when she finally came down the street towards me, purchases in hand, it was definitely time head back to the coach as far as I was concerned, meanwhile, she looked fresh as a daisy. I will say no more.

We did make one brief stop near the former lumber town of Thompson on the way back, specifically to visit a historical marker about the Christmas Ship. A hundred years ago a ship's captain would always make the last sailing of the year a run from Thompson to his home port of Chicago. The cargo was a load of Christmas trees, and the people of Chicago would line the river each year when he arrived. The trip in 1912 ended with the loss of the ship and all hands in a violent storm near Two Rivers, Wisconsin. For many years after, his wife, and later his daughters carried on his legacy, traveling to Thompson to direct the cutting and shipping of a load of Christmas trees to Chicago to carry on his tradition. Life really is what you make it.

160.8 .4 .1

July 29 Friday

Out and about


I wonder if Red knew I was writing about him yesterday? This morning I came out to discover he had turned into a bubble blower of massive proportions. The first couple of days we had him he blew bubbles, but then he stopped, at least until now. If it makes him happy, I say go for it guy, cover the world with bubbles. Linda thought it might mean that he was unhappy, so we changed his water. If there are bubbles tomorrow morning something tells me it will be because he is still unhappy, even if he isn't. Where do women learn what blowing bubbles means? I sure wasn't ever taught bubble interpretation. On second thought, babies blow bubbles, so maybe that is where she learned it. From our kids.


Fairly early, which even then was a little too early for Linda but that is another story, we drove the few miles to see Big Spring, Michigan's largest spring. It was a great place and we were glad we had come, though before we walked over to the spring, Linda worked a little of that early leaving agitation out of her system. Between the bargain clothing, which she passed up, and the penny smasher at the corner of the building, which she didn't pass up, she was one happy girl the rest of the day.


As we had passed through the entrance station Linda had remarked, "Our car pass just paid for itself." In the end it would have been worth it to us to have paid the daily entry fee if we hadn't bought the pass because we enjoyed it so much. While the spring looks great form the shore, it looks even better from the open center, self propelled raft you can cross it on. Since we were early, there were just a handful of people on the raft with us, and looking at the number of people waiting for the next trip when ours was over, it made me feel better about getting Linda going a little before she really wanted to. For her part, I lost count of the number of photos she took of the bottom of the spring where the water boils up. It's some forty feet down to bottom, but looks like it is just a few feet deep, the water is so clear.


The raft is manned and operated by visitors, meaning there is no one from the park on board, so on the return trip, I got to provide the propulsion for a while. There is a cable running from shore to shore, and turning the large wheel moves the raft in whichever direction the wheel turns.


One of the nice things about attaining senior citizen status is that many young people offer to help you with things. In this case Peter was glad to lend me a hand with the wheel. In fact it wasn't long before he took over the job all by himself. Like I said earlier, we really enjoyed being here, the spring is so calm and inviting, plus we got meet the nicest people. What more could a person ask for.


Another morning activity was visiting a fish hatchery, where there were not many fish, but there was something that had me puzzled for a while. In the rear of the hatchery is a large pond that is used to use nature to clean up the hatchery water before it is returned to the nearby stream. Inside are a number of very large display fish that are easy to spot because of their size. You don't see any fish in this photo, but note the small white sign board in the center of the photo. Also note that it has nothing on it, it is just a blank white rectangle.


This photo was taken by holding the camera over the fence, and taking a photo of what someone in the pond would see. That means the sign is there for the fish because they are the only thing on that side of the fence. Talk about mysteries of Life. This has got rank right up near the top of the list. I'd be willing to bet that almost everyone who ever visited this hatchery has never noticed this sign. But as Linda sometimes points out to me, there are a few rather unique individuals who have minds that could be classified as mysteries of the universe, based on how they work.


Yesterday I was talking about how small towns are the best, and today I will add that small roadside fish markets are the best. Back to yesterday; when we were down at the lighthouse we saw a small fishing boat, the J.R.Jensen come through the harbor entrance and moor at a small landing. Today driving back to the RV park we stopped at the small fish market were the J.R. Jensen's catch is sold. Arlene Jensen waited on us, the nicest lady you would ever want to meet, and in the end she was just as excited learning out the full time Life we live as we were about the wonderful fish we bought. This is a must stop and shop if you are ever in Manistique, and if you head out of town on Deer Street to the west, past the blinking light heading towards Indian Springs State Park, you will eventually see it on the south side of the road.


Here is our catch for the day from top to bottom: a pound of smoked trout, and below that is fresh whitefish, trout, and salmon. The prices were very reasonable and we can attest the smoked trout and salmon were beyond delicious. Leaving the whitefish for Saturday and the trout will be on Sunday's menu. Not only great fish, but the meal planning for the next couple of nights is also taken care of. Life doesn't get much better than that. Or does it?


160 .8 .7

July 30 Saturday

Back to Lake Superior


Anyone who would look at a map of our travels in the U.P. would probably conclude that we don't know where we are going as we seem to just aimlessly bounce around the U.P. going from coast to coast, and sometimes we even back track. For all I know that could be exactly how we travel because there has to be a little madness to the method we use. It's called being in one area and learning about something interesting in another area and deciding to go see it. There are no doubt, some who would do what we are doing by way of day trips from a more central location, but since we have all the time there is to do what we want, why do that. In fact, it is for that very reason we so try to resist having any definite plans where we need to be somewhere at a certain time. I think maybe I see a new homepage article taking shape, but that's only most definitely a maybe.

What we did do today was to drive from Lake Michigan, north to Lake Superior, planning to enjoy the Munising area for the next week or so, during which time we likely being taking one or more of those long day trips I just said we don't like to take. Some things just can't be helped, I guess. Once we were situated at the RV park, our spot being one that even allows us a view of a small slice of Lake Superior, it was time to go into town and do a little exploring. We did spend quite a bit of time at the town visitor center, learning where the locals shop and also where they buy their fresh fish. We came away with enough places to see that we're going to have to pick and choose. We knew there was lots to do up here, but there are even more of the things we like than we thought.


We checked out the two grocery stores in town, liking the food at one and the name of the other. That didn't mean we didn't buy anything at the latter, we did, but far more important was what we bought to bring those groceries home. I now have a Bob Bag! It's not just everyone who has a grocery bag with their own name on it, but some of us do. And not merely just a bag, one that is colored green for the environment, try and beat that one.


Don't you just hate it when you are presented with the truth? Now I know why my hair always seems so scraggly, there isn't very much of it left. What's that saying? Too little, too late. Looks like that is exactly what the case of Bob of the long gray hair is. There are some interesting things involved with longer hair that Linda used to always complain about, and that I now know I should have been more sympathetic about. She complains about her hair blowing in her face and eyes when the windows are down in the Explorer, and I now know she has always been right. It is hard to drive with hair tickling your face and getting into your eyes. Maybe you can't teach an old dog new tricks, but you can teach him how wrong he was when he was younger.


This is the photo I was taking in that photo of me taking a photo. We were in the midst of a cloudburst that also had pea sized hail in it. We had been watching the storm front move into the area, and the weather service was issuing warnings about 60 plus mph winds, torrential rain and accompanying hail. While we didn't see winds of that magnitude where we were, we certainly got the other two.


The long strip of red just above the word Munising is what passed over us, and at this moment we were in a section of purple and the rain had hail mixed in with it. The nice thing was that we could see the end of it fast approaching, and when it did, the rain just stopped.


While our site was high and dry, the neighbors had better watch that first step when the leave their camper. It was just a few minutes afterward when the rain finally stopped and the RV park came alive with people. We joined them, but not in walking around the park, rather for us, out came the grill and on went a whitefish fillet covered with melted butter, garlic, rosemary and parsley, all nestled in a folded aluminum foil container, designed and constructed by Linda.


This was the way we had fixed the salmon last night, but we liked tonight's whitefish much better. I remember eating whitefish in the restaurant in St. Ignace those many weeks ago, and thinking that it really should taste a lot better than it did. Turns out I was right, and it definitely does taste a lot better than just better. Tomorrow night it will be trout prepared the same way so we should have a good comparison between the three types of fish. We already know that the only similarity between West Coast salmon and Great Lakes salmon is the word salmon, so it will be interesting to see what we think of the Great Lakes trout versus what we get in the west.

Tomorrow, with the weather looking good, we will be taking one of the boat cruises, most likely to the Picture Rocks area, then on Monday when the weather is supposed to remain good, do the shipwreck cruise. Once those two things are out of the way we can get on with doing some exploring of this area which abounds with waterfalls, great hiking opportunities and numerous historical sites. Not every day can be perfect, but it is looking like this week isn't going to be far off the mark. There is just something about the full time Life that can't be beat.

159.8 .2 .9

July 31 Sunday

Pictured Rocks


This rig pulled into the park this morning, and you couldn't help but notice the words across the back of the trailer, which say so much. It was also sporting Florida plates, something we have seen in abundance up here. In the Rio Grande Valley last winter we saw a lot of Michigan plates making me think that Michigan is an okay place to visit, but not a place where you live. That's not really true because we have really enjoyed our time here, meeting the nicest people everywhere we have been.


The big event of the day was to be the Picture Rocks Boat Cruise, but there were a number of other things we did, just as we do many days that never find there way onto these pages. We are staying just a mile or so from Christmas, a place where they say it is Christmas every day. Not much more than a wide spot in the road, there is a Christmas Shop there, and it was a place, that when I said, "Do you want to stop?", the answer was a resounding, "Of course!" followed by a big smile. When we left Christmas we were a little lighter in the wallet, but there will be some smiles on Christmas morning in a few homes because of what she bought.


Then there was the big ticket item on today's agenda, Picture Rocks Boat Cruise, which is one of those darned if you do, darned if you don't things, as well as a big ticket item in more ways than one. We took the 2 PM cruise, and though the rocks weren't nearly as spectacular as the photos they use to promote it, we still had a good time. We do know we won't ever need to do it again, unlike the glacier cruises in Alaska which we could do time and time again. I had to chuckle when we boarded the boat, because back in the ticket/gift shop there was a picture of a tragedy on the lake, showing the sinking of the sidewheel steamer, Superior, in 1856 as it was smashed against Picture Rocks. Note the name on the boat we were about to board. Sometimes I wonder why I was blessed (???) with a mind like this.


I promise that I will not post the hundred plus picture rocks pictures that Linda took, it being a sort of, seen one, seen them all, thing. However, there's nothing like a cute girl to make some drab old rocks look a whole lot prettier.


The lone Pictured Rocks picture for the day, but we really liked the arch. There was also a place where they pull the boat up into a cove in the rocks so you are really close to them, but as is typical with us, our pictures simply don't do it any justice. The cruise lasted for almost three hours and with our top of the boat, front row seats, we had a great view of everything. Funny thing was that all those other people boarding ahead of us chose to sit further back in the upper section, and for what reason we never could figure out.


Okay, so I lied. Actually I didn't, I really wasn't going to post another Pictured Rocks picture, but when I was looking for the next photo, I had to go through about 50 more Pictured Rocks pictures and this one just jumped out at me. The lighter green color of the water comes from the water being shallower, is something we both would point out to each other whenever we saw it. Guess you could say we are easily impressed when it come to color of Lake Superior. It is also amazing how clear the water is, Lake Superior being the cleanest of the Great Lakes by far, or so we were told.


Once off the boat Linda was a bundle of activity, eagerly smashing a penny for Zachary. Back at the coach we enjoyed a quite evening, having trout tonight and fixing it exactly as we did the salmon and whitefish. The clear winner of the three nights of competition was tonight's trout, beating the others hands down with the salmon coming in dead last. Several weeks ago it was a boxed wine tasting and now it has been a fish tasting. We better watch out or we are going to be labeled as somewhat peculiar at best and more than likely, as strange. Remember, it's okay to keep thinking it is just a dress rehearsal, but all the while we are out here doing our somewhat peculiar things while living Life.


It's been a while since I've shown "Old Smoke" doing her thing, and hopefully she'll soon be back in gear, blazing away and being called her usually moniker of Pyro-Mom. What a great day we had in spite of being on the go most of the day, because we are really enjoying the area. Tomorrow will be another fun day as we take the Shipwreck Cruise. What's not to like about this place called the U.P. where the Yoopers live, and wanna be Yoopers play.

160.4 .6 .3

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