Groundhog Day at Camp Horizons

Have I mentioned how much being stuck at Camp Horizons is less than fully appealing? Have I mentioned how the more things change the more they stay the same?  Color us frustrated at this point.

After arrival on Sunday…we really didn’t expect any work on Monday as there are always leftover rigs getting fixed from last week…and it was raining anyway. We talked to Ken Tuesday morning and gave him our list…Mike came by in late morning to tell us he might be over that afternoon…but here it is Wednesday at 1030 and no work yet.

Ken’s explanation is that the two rigs left over from last week had bigger problems than expected…and that they’ve been in here for 2 weeks and are in a hotel since neither is inhabitable right now. I understand that…but really wish one could get a straight story on when your work might start. Looks like we won’t really get going until probably Monday. His explanation is likely the real story…but we really wish things happened more as scheduled rather than looking like a Chinese fire drill.

Putting in the relief cuts to prevent further cracking, repairs to the existing cracks, and repainting the repairs will probably take 4 days since it’s a lot of time both waiting on fiberglass to cure and in the paint booth waiting on paint to dry before masking for the next color. Had we known that our route here from Elkhart would have been different and more leisurely. We knew going of course that nothing really happens fast when at the factory for service…glad to see our low expectations are valid.

At least we’re not paying for campsites for a few days…and the beer at the Elks Lodge here is very cold and very delicious.

Maybe these interesting things will improve our outlook.

I work with idiots…


Long luggage wait.


Bad decisions.


Definition of irony.



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Transit to Junction City KS

Well…here we are back in Junction Cit KS at Camp New Horizons…the one place we hoped never to have to come back to. However…a month or so back we got a crack in our drivers side fiberglass while leveling the rig and discovered several more smaller ones. They’re all on the driver’s side and investigation showed that New Horizons had a design issue with the way they hung the walls on the rigs. They’ve since changed their installation methods to resolve the issue but older rigs need fixing.

According to Ken Ulmer (service manager) New Horizons feels like they have a ‘moral responsibility’ for the cracks even though they’re out of warranty…and that they know how to fix them. We’ll see what their idea of a ‘moral responsibility’ means later on when they give us the bill.

I’m getting ahead of myself though…early Saturday morning we pulled out of Casey IL for the trip west. Essentially we had about 580 miles straight down I-70. The KOA we were at in Casey was about  a half mile from 70, our overnight stop was likewise right at the exit, and New Horizons is right near the exit in Junction city. We pulled into RV Express in Boonville MO right on schedule about 1500…and man was it hot. Had to be in the high 90s and humidity. RV Express is well…basically a dump. It’s a gravel parking lot behind a gas station with full hookups in it. Honor pay system…fill out the form, put in your $25 and stick it in a slot. They had wifi but it was lousy. They had water but we still had enough for overnight so Neil didn’t even hook ours up. They had sewer…which was good since we didn’t dump in Casey…our site was water/electric only and the dump station was not big rig friendly…so by theme Sunday rolled around we hadn’t dumped since Wednesday afternoon when we arrived in Casey and took a detour through a full hookup site that was reserved but not filled up yet. Fifty amp power… they had…which was definitely a necessity with the hot weather, but it still took about 3-4 hours to get the rig cooled down. Dinner was a sandwich from Subway since we didn’t unhitch Big Red, then we watched TV and went to bed.

Early Sunday morning Connie made coffee, Neil walked across the street to McDonalds for breakfast, we dumped tanks, torqued the trailer lug nuts again…this will be an ongoing evolution for at least 5-6 travel days from Elkhart as they take forever to finally not lose a little torque as you travel. After that we hit the road and basically only stopped for bathroom breaks until we got to Junction City KS with a granola bar and cookies for lunch. After wending through some construction as you get off the exit onto US-77 we did the last mile over to the factory. Both sites in front of the service bay were already full…which means they didn’t get last week’s repairs done last week…which means they’re first on the list for this week before we even get started. We pulled around the south side of the building and plugged in power and fired up the A/C units…luckily it was cloudy in Junction City so the rig didn’t get as hot as it did on Saturday. We headed over to the Elks Lodge for a couple of brews while the cooling thing was happening, then ran by Walmart and picked up a $4.78 rotisserie chicken for dinner. Back at the rig…it was cool so we had chicken, some chilled pineapple from the fridge, and a glass of wine for dinner before watching TV until bedtime.

Overnight…it rained really, really hard. 

So we’re going to get our cracks fixed that we already have…they have several methods of fixing them depending on where they are, how big, and various other things I don’t know about. Some of it might require a trip to the paint booth overnight. In addition to the repairs…if there are other potential cracking spots they have some preventive measures they can take to keep additional cracks from forming…I wouldn’t be surprised if they make us pay for those but again, we’ll see.

We also discovered an issue with our living room A/C unit last night…during the thunderstorm last night…well, actually about 0400 or so this morning…Connie got water dripped on her foot. We discovered about a half cup had come out of one of the A/C vents…it’s the one closest to the hole in the roof where the A/C connects to the ductwork. Neil talked to Ken this AM to see if the seal was a typical failure item…he said it’s not but will check out a couple other possible leakage places that they know about. We’ve had this happen once before during a really heavy storm…not sure where it’s coming in but our friend Bill Napier had a similar problem down in FL last winter and they looked around for a couple of hours trying to figure it out. Hopefully it’s something easy.

Monday…it rained most of the morning, but then we weren’t going to get started anyway. Neil will see Ken early Tuesday to give him a written list of what we need done and then we’ll go from there. I’ll frankly be amazed if we’re done this week but hopefully by Tuesday or Wednesday next week we’ll be able to head out of here and start east/south.

Connie and Neil talked about our general plan once we leave here. We have a reservation in Jacksonville FL at the Pelican Roost RV Park on the Navy base the last week and a reservation near Columbia SC to visit Congaree National Park for a few days before that…and then a reservation at Seminole in North Fort Myers starting September 1. We’re due to arrive in Columbia on Aug 19 and it’s about 1,200 miles there so call it either 4 or 5 travel days depending on stops. Assuming we have enough time to stop on the way and still get to Columbia on time…we’ll stop for a few days either at Carlyle COE campground on Carlyle Lake in southern IL or Cedar Creek COE in Tennessee. Then we’ll stop by Knoxville for a night to see Neil’s sister MJ before pressing onto Columbia.

On arrival in North Fort Myers on September 1…Connie has an appointment with her regular opthamologist for a baseline post retina separation evaluation…then one on Sep 14 with the retina specialist at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute (run by the University of Miami medical school) branch in Naples. From there we’ll map out the rest of her treatment plan.

No Fun Stuff© since we left…and probably won’t be any here in Junction City as the weather is supposed to be brutal all week.

Interesting things founds this week.

Wrong kind of phone moron.


This guy has a Sikh sense of humor


Thanks for clearing that up mate.


The unknown hazards of being awell-endowed woman.


I don’t think Noah was so smart after all.



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Town Drunk Update and World’s Largest Whatever

Well…we successfully moved back over 200 feet to the MorRYDE parking lot Tuesday afternoon and then headed out to Iechy Da Brewery for dinner. We had a pint each of Big Pit Porter and then one of Cantankerous Irish Red…both were typically outstanding. Dinner was a Kellwood pizza…rosemary olive oil, ham, cheese, arugula and balsamic drizzled over the top after it cooked…a very good pizza as well with enough leftovers for lunch another day.

Wednesday morning we got up early, hitched and headed out…got almost as far south as US 20 from MorRYDE before we got an alarm on our trailer brakes so we turned around and headed back to get them sorted out. Our tech Paul originally had partially removed one of the ABS sensors as he thought he would need to be doing the journal bearings and had forgotten to push it back in. He took a quick look after hearing our alarm code and figured out what was wrong followed by the 2 minute fix to tap it back in…and then we were back on the road arriving 267 miles later in Casey IL.

Why Casey IL you ask? Well…it’s about 750 miles to New Horizons in Junction City KS…which is 3 days towing with reasonable daily miles…and we don’t have to get there until Sunday so we just divided it into 3 pretty equal segments and Casey was the first one. We’re spending 3 nights here as there is absolutely nothing at our next stop in Boonville MO. We originally thought that Casey would pretty much be a bust Fun Stuff© wise as well…and that we would basically just chill out for a couple of days, but Casey turned out to be much better than expected.

OK, Fun Stuff© first. Right before we got to our exit off of I-70 Neil noticed a sign that advertised the largest wind chime in the world and the largest golf tee in the world…so we figured there would at least be something to see. Connie did a little googling and found that Casey is the home to a whole bunch of World’s Largest whatevers. Turns out that they were all built by the same local guy who also was the mayor at one time…he decided they needed some tourist attractions to get people to visit.

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After visiting all of those we headed off to the Lincoln Log Cabin. When we first saw this we figured it was another of the half dozen or so places that claimed to be the “Boyhood Home of Abraham Lincoln”…if you remember from a couple of years back it seemed like we saw one of those after another as we traveled through Kentucky and then southern Illinois. We decided to go see it anyway and it turned out to actually be the home where Abe’s father Thomas Lincoln lived with his step-mother Sarah after Abe’s mother Nancy died. Abe had moved out on his own by that time and Thomas returned from Macon County to the Casey area and married the widow Sarah Johnston…who was an old friend. Abe bought 40 acres here and Thomas lived there until his death.

A couple of shots of a replica of Thomas’s cabin…the original was dismantled and moved to the Chicago World’s Fair and then disappeared due to some sort of dispute over who would run the concession there. This is a reconstruction done by the CCC in the 1930s using photos from 1891 and the oral recollections of people who had been in the original…there was a photo in the visitors center of the original cabin…and at least from the outside it looks identical.

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The site is now an Illinois Historical Site and contains both Thomas’s farm which was basically a subsistence operation and also the Sargent farm which was a Yankee owned commercial operation. The Sargent farm buildings are undergoing some sort of restoration operations…and hence were covered with tarps and construction equipment so we didn’t take photos of them…but the farmhouse was a larger clapboard sided structure rather than log construction and there were more outbuildings. What surprised us most about the Sargent farm was the construction guys…in one of the buildings where they had saws and construction stuff setup there was a radio playing…of all  things…classical music. While we whole heartedly approve of their music choice…we would never have expected to see a bunch of construction guys listening to the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto #1.

The only wildlife of the day were these sheep running around the property.

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With our daily Fun Stuff© done…we got back into the car and Neil said “By the power invested in me as an officer and a gentleman by the United States Congress, I declare it to be beer o’clock.”…and we headed to downtown Casey for some liquid refreshment. We were desperately in need of it by this time…temps were in the mid 90s and the humidity was there as well so the heat index had to be over 100…it was really hot.

Our first option was this place named The Bar right near the railroad tracks…but it wasn’t open yet and looked pretty rough anyway…so we headed to the second option…a bar formerly known as the Kuhn’s Saloon but had been renamed to Down The Street. It looked pretty rough as well…but not as bad as The Bar and it had the advantage of being open.

We walked in…and Connie was immediately accosted by Town Drunk #6…Mikey turned out to be his name and despite it only being 1601 he was already pretty far down the inebriated path. He introduced himself…and almost immediately offered to buy us our second beer…which we accepted and then bought him one in return…so we actually came out ahead of the game on that one. Mikey is retired but his wife was still at work and was picking him up about 1700…he kept insisting that he would have his wife make us some blueberry cobbler and either bring it to our campsite or to the bar tomorrow…depending on which time he was making the offer (there were a half dozen at least).

He was friendly enough though…although we had to have him repeat about half of what he said as he was pretty drunk…we chatted with him for an hour or so before we decided to head off for dinner…the bar itself was pretty friendly as well so we may pop back by there again before we leave. Dinner was at Richard’s Farmhouse Restaurant…pretty decent steaks and we have enough left overs to make something out of for dinner tonight.

Today Connie’s going to work…and then we may head a few miles east to see the World’s Largest Anvil. Tomorrow we’re off to Boonville MO for a quick overnight stop at RV Express…which is basically a gravel parking lot off of the freeway before arriving in Junction City on Sunday.


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Bumbling Along

When last we left our heroes…they were up near Detroit MI and had completed family research into Neil’s ancestors.

Tuesday Jul 12…they packed up and drove the 260 or so miles back to Hanna IN where we parked (again!) in our favorite Last Resort Campground. We had a monthly rate that ran through Saturday night so figured we would have to pay one more night. The owner moved our monthly spot to another FHU pull through site…and as compensation waived our power bill for the month and also tacked on the last night at no charge…we would have swapped anyway as the new site was actually superior to the one we were originally in.

We did pretty much nothing through mid-day Sunday…grilled dinner every nigh, Neil went on a bike ride…and we did laundry.

Monday morning we hitched up early for the 67 mile transit over to the MorRYDE factory in Elkhart…we had scheduled work starting Tuesday. When we got there…they were ahead of schedule so we pulled directly into Paul’s service bay and he got to work while we headed 60 miles back west to Michigan City for Connie’s last retina appointment before heading south to Fort Myers.

Bad news is that she needs more surgery to make  things right as Holmes would say. Good news is that we now know why she can’t see as well as the retina doc thinks she should be seeing and what is to be done about it. Before…it was “let’s do this cataract surgery and maybe that will help”…now it’s “let’s do this retina surgery to fix this scar tissue we now see along with the cataract surgery”. At least  we know what the problem is now.

At MorRYDE…we got new bearings installed, journal sleeve bearings and brake assemblies checked, and 2 springs on our suspension replaced under warranty. They also installed a new foot on one of our jacks…we knew it was loose already and they were going to fix it but sometime in the last 2 weeks it fell off. They ran over 20 miles northeast to White Pigeon MI where the Quadra Bigfoot Leveling System factory is located and bought a foot and 4 new nuts. Paul…our MorRYDE tech…installed the new nuts after cleaning up the threads and put LokTite anthem so they should not come loose again.

We’ll move back to the parking lot at MorRYDE tonight…then head off to our first stop on the way to Junction City KS tomorrow…will spend 3 nights in Casey IL west of Indianapolis.

Interesting things this week.

How to cook meat


Question about Auburn fans


This truck loader clearly has OCD


I thought this only happened at K-Mart


Jim is a little unclear on this whole selfie thing I think



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Family Research around Detroit MI

We departed Frankfort MI on July 7 after a week there and headed over to our next destination…Ortonville MI which is northwest of Detroit about 35 miles. We completed our 217 mile transit and got settled in at the Clearwater Lake Campground.

Our reasons for visiting this area are twofold…to visit the land around Connor Creek where Neil’s 5th great grandfather Richard Connor’s son Henry settled. His name was Henry Connor and he was one of the early settlers in this area…his father came with Mennonites from PA despite not being one and when the Indians ran the Moravians off he was allowed to stay because he spoke their language and also he still owed a debt (his first born male child) to the Indians in return for having the white woman who became his wife ransomed from the Indians. Anyway…he settled on land on what would later become Connor Creek about 15 miles upstream from the river and going there to see it was our first expedition. We’ve joked for decades about having to pay your first born male child for something…and it turns out that Richard actually did pay his first born male child to ransom his white wife-to-be from the Indians…she had been captured at the age of 4. He later ransomed the child back from the Indians…but we don’t know what the price was.

The land is located right next to Detroit’s airport and the creek itself basically doesn’t exist anymore…it was paved over to become city and later airport. Nonetheless…there is a restored park section named the Connor Creek Greenway that occupies part of the original land…and that was our destination on Saturday.

Now mind you…Neil thought that visiting inner city Detroit MI was definitely not on his bucket list…but since Connie wanted to go we headed off anyway. We noticed several things of note once we got there. First off…we definitely stood out from the crowd of local people with two exceptions I’ll talk about in a minute. Second was an apparent almost complete breakdown of societal norms in a lot of the areas we passed through. Windows with no glass in them…burning trash cans…barbed wire topped fences were quite common along with boarded up factories. Among the norms that were missing was a complete lack of any semblance of obeying traffic laws. We saw at least 3 folks just make a U-turn in the middle of a 4 lane street with no care that it was illegal. The worst offender was this elderly gentleman in a van who was in the right turn lane sitting at an intersection where the light was red on the main street. Since he wanted to make a U-turn…and since nobody was coming out of the side street I guess…he just proceeded straight from the right hand turn lane, through the red light into the middle of the intersection and made his U-turn around the rest of us…like this was a completely normal occurrence. We did wonder if the lack of policing of minor offenses in neighborhoods like this contributes to the overall crime rate in the area due to gangs, drug pushers and the like. Perhaps the locals just get used to violating the law so it’s easier to ignore the big stuff. But then you would see 500 yards down the street a beautiful residential gated community with well kept yards and houses that clearly cost a half million or more…it made us ponder why one would want to live there.


We did get a nice shot of the Connor Creek Greenway…although Neil had to carefully crop it so it actually looked park like instead of slum like.

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One hundred yards to the left of this shot he got a more typical view of the general area…hey, it is inner city Detroit ya know.

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After we took the two photos above and were on the way back out to Connor Street (which more or less follows the old Connor Creek)…we saw the only two people that looked like us…the first one was this young lady who was changing clothes in the middle of the street out of the back or her car…she stripped right down to her underwear and put something else on. The second one was…let me think of the proper wording here…well, let’s just call her a soiled dove. She was plying her trade…well, negotiating price actually…talking to a guy through the passenger window of his car as we entered the park and was enthusiastically working when we left.

We did stop at several traffic lights…but Neil was fully prepared to run them if the gangs came after us.

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After that experience we headed south to what remains of Connor Creek…it’s now only about a quarter mile long, is fenced on the sides, and terminates at the Detroit Water Treatment plant.

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So…the creek that Neil’s ancestors lived on now serves as the water supply for Detroit MI. Wow.

We headed into a little park down by the river after this shot…and were originally going to stop there for lunch. However, in view of some of the shooting incidents that had gone on the last few days we decided that we would be a little too obviously out of place…even though most of the folks in the park looked friendly and were watching their kids/grandkids play baseball…so we headed off and found a place a little farther out in the suburbs that was a little more ethnically mixed for our picnic before we headed home.

Sunday was Mass…the church is close enough to walk to from the campground so we did that instead of driving over. We sat around the rest of the day…Neil ran out to get more propane for the grill and we had steak and corn casserole for dinner.

Monday we headed out for our second major stop here…stops at two cemeteries where a whole bunch of Neil’s relatives are buried.

Going backwards from Neil through his mother we eventually get to his 5x great grandfather Richard Connor…his daughter Susannah married Elisha Harrington (Neil’s 4x great grandfather). Their daughter Samantha married John Plues (3x great grandfather), their daughter Agnes married Philander Carr. Their daughter Grace married Mathias Frederick. Grace and Mathias moved to Mobile AL (Neil’s hometown) and after Agnes died Philander moved south to be with them. Grace and Mathias had a son Neil who married Myrtle Starke…Neil and Myrtle are our Neil’s maternal grandparents…they produced Jane who married Bruce Laubenthal who begat Neil. All of this stuff is in Connie’s public family tree which is available on if anybody really cares. Neil says there was a whole bunch of begattin’ going on back in the day. 

First stop was at Oxford Township Cemetery…where we hoped to find the grave of Agnes Plues Carr…Neil’s 2x great grandmother. We thought it was in this small cemetery on one side of the road…and started checking it out by looking at headstones since there was no office. We quickly decided it would take all day to search the 4,000 or so graves there…so drove across to the other cemetery…it turned out to be part of the Oxford Township Cemetery as well. Didn’t find anybody to talk to so we drove into the third cemetery right next door and found the house that the caretakers live in. Neil had a quick conversation with them and the fella he talked to sent us to the Oxford Township offices about a mile down the road.

On arrival there we gave the nice lady we found the name we were looking for. She could not find any Plues buried there…and only one Carr…his name was William L Carr and…we were pretty sure that he wasn’t the right branch of the Carr clan…Connie did some research later and verified that he was the wrong one. So…we struck out on Agnes…she’s probably there as her death certificate says she died at 63 from gallstones and is buried there…but since the township has documented all headstones in the cemetery…she was obviously buried without a marker.

Giving up on that…we headed off to our second stop…the Clinton Grove Cemetery down in Clinton Township…where we hoped to find both Richard Connor (Neil’s 5x great grand father) and Elisha and Susannah Connor Harrington…Richard’s daughter and son in law and Neil’s 4x great. According to the information Connie had gathered ahead of time we knew the section and lot numbers for both of them. We got to the cemetery and a nice lady in the office verified them for us…and off we went. Richard is supposed to be the oldest grave in the cemetery…he was a Revolutionary War veteran who died at age 89 in 1808. We quickly found the correct plot…as well as the family marker and individual headstones for a lot of family members…Richard Connor (and presumably his wife Margaret although we weren’t sure of that), Elisha Harrington and his wife Susannah (Richard’s daughter), Henry Harrington (Elisha and Susannah’s son) and his wife Elizabeth, Lottie Harrington (another descendent of Elisha we think based on the dates but not in Neil’s ancestry line), as well as another 6 or 8 graves of Connor or Harrington family members although none of those stones were marked.

Richard Connor’s marker on one side of the Harrington/Connor family plot monument.

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Elisha and Susannahs marker on the family monument…this is to the left of Richard’s marker above.

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Richard Connor’s Revolutionary War marker placed by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). We never knew that Neil had an ancestor who directly fought in the Revolutionary War.

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Connie standing next to the family monument. Richard’s marker is opposite the side facing the camera in this shot.

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Neil standing next to the family monument. This was taken from the opposite side as the shot of Connie above. Richard Connor’s marker on the monument is facing the camera and his actual headstone (marked simply R C) is about 3 feet to the right of his feet.

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From there we set off about a mile or so southwest to the banks of what the Indians called the Nottawasippee River, the white man called the Huron River…since renamed to the Clinton River after former New York governor DeWitt Clinton who built the Erie Canal. This location was the first white settlement in the interior of Michigan and was established in 1782…Richard Connor was with the Moravian religious group that originally settled the area…the settlement was abandoned in 1786 and the Moravians went north to Ontario while Richard Connor was allowed to remain in the area by the indians and remained at the settlement until his death in 1808. Elisha and Susannah Harrington then became the leading citizens of the settlement after her brothers deeded her their interest in the land the settlement occupied.

Two photos of the Clinton River taken from the site of the settlement…although nothing remains of it now. It was really cool to be walking on the same ground as Neil’s 5x and 4x great grand fathers…contemporary writings about this site described it as “a bluff over the river”. Today it’s just about 15 or 20 feet above the river maximum…and the area is heavily overgrown with trees…based on the old writings it was apparently a much more open area 240 odd years ago. For scale…the river here is maybe 50 feet wide and doesn’t look more than 5 or 6 feet deep but it was too muddy to tell for sure. Based on the old writings descriptions and the signs in the park…this has to be within 30 or 40 yards of the actual settlement site. 

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Finally…we set off for our last stop of the day…the Historical Village of Clinton Township. This is basically a couple of old buildings that were moved from the original settlement sites to the center of town near the library.

Moravian Hall…this was built sometime around 1880 and was the center for worship and town meetings…the original building cost $500 and it was moved to the current site in 2003

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A restored cabin from the settlement. This one was actually owned by the Williams family and was constructed around 1850…it would have been very similar to the one Elisha and Suzannah Harrington lived in and probably larger and more comfortable than the one Richard and Margaret Connor lived in.

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Ok, enough of that ancient history stuff…on to interesting things of the week.



And here’s a pro tip for ya…ya probably always thought that if you were being chased by an alligator…they can run 30 miles an hour for a short distance…then all you needed to do to escape was climb a tree. Well…according to these photos from southern FL…they can actually climb both fences and trees. So your best bet is to run in a zig zag path…with those short legs the darn gators can’t change direction very well and if you can out run him for 50 yards you’ll get away because he’ll get tired and give up…or maybe just ran faster than your buddy, after all if you outrun him then you really don’t need to outrun the gator. 


Tree Gators

So that’s our visit to the lower peninsula of Michigan…it was cool to see the old grave sites and walk on the same ground that Neil’s ancestors walked on. Tomorrow we’re heading back over to Hanna IN about 260 miles southwest…Connie has another retina specialist appointment on Monday. After that we’ll head 50 miles east to Elkhart to get the house wheel bearings replaced then west to Junction City KS to get some fiberglass issues repaired by New Horizons.


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Transit to Frankfort MI and Fourth of July

Well…our last night in Hanna IN we went about 3 miles northeast from Last Resort Campground headed to the White Horse Saloon in Union Mills…which is even smaller than Hanna…basically the whole downtown is 1 block long. Nonetheless…the White Horse was our kinda place…friendly people, cold beer…although we had to have an ale since they don’t have nay dark beer. We had Old Style Ale which is a local brew and even though it’s a pale lager it’s actually pretty darned good. To go along with it we had some Nacho’s with pulled pork and some tater tots. Mighty nice…and we were able to get back to the campground without going on any road with cars…just a couple of country roads to get there.

Thursday morning June 30…we headed off for a couple of weeks…first stop was Frankfort MI which is on the west side of the lower peninsula right on the shore and pretty close to the top of the lower peninsula. We pulled into Frankfort Crystal Lake Campground 290 miles later and got quickly set up in site 9…our hosts Paul and Stevie are friendly guys. We have a nice back in full hookup site with a concrete pad.

That night…we headed off for dinner to the Bayview Grill…it’s right in downtown on the water front. We had a couple of brews…Horny Monk which turned out to be an IPA and a little hoppy for us so we split it and each drank half of the nasty stuff. Our other one was a dark ale that I can’t remember the name of right now…which is very dark like a stout but a texture and taste more like a brown ale. After that we had a couple of Bells Brown Ale which was good as well. We wanted more of the dark brew…but had the last bottle on our first round so we had had to pick something else. Dinner was crab cakes…an appetizer for Connie and sandwich for Neil. Both were pretty good although not up to the standard set by the places over on the Chesapeake Bay in MD.

Friday we just lounged around the house…sat outside under the shade and did pretty much nuttin. Dinner was a flatbread we bought from Walmart and baked…it was pretty good for store bought.

Saturday we set off on our first Fun Stuff© of the week…a trip over to Mount Pleasant MI to visit the campus of Central Michigan University (Connie got her Master’s degree from them via the extension campus in the DC area)…she figured we should visit since she had a diploma. Neil couldna cared less about it…but you know the old saying…happy wife, happy life. He was ready to get out and do something and that was as good as anything else. Our trip encompassed about 250 miles total…southwest from Frankfort to Mount Pleasant then west to a little town named Pentwater…a quaint little town on the lake where we had lunch at a place named The Brown Bear. The highlight of The Brown Bear was that they had a cask of an old brew named Andy Ale…Neil took a picture of it and sent it to his internet buddy Andy Ihnatko.

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We also some shots of Connie at the school and of the library inside and outside…the library was the only campus resource she used during her degree program.

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And a shot of the Lake Michigan shoreline and one of the entrance to Frankfort  harbor.

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Sunday was church…and then we sort of went on a drive up to the Dunes National Seashore. Actually we only made it about 10 miles before we gave up…the traffic was just too bad and there were waaaay too many people there for us…but then it was Independence Day weekend. We were headed out that way again on Tuesday so decided to just skip it and come home. Dinner was some grilled chicken…Neil marinated it with some Indian/curry spices and we had one of our favorite sides with it…cous cous with goodies. Cous cous is just really small pasta…we whipped up a little concoction of sautéed onions, bacon, and chopped mushrooms…added in some dried cranberries, chopped pecans and coconut…and mixed it with the cous cous. Mighty tasty.

Monday was July 4th…and we had already made the decision not to go anywhere…just too darn many people no matter where you went…we had tried on Sunday to visit the Stormcloud Brewery in downtown Frankfort and had to give up as no parking places were to be found. So…we just sat around, rested in the shade…and then for dinner had grilled corn on the cob with lime-hot sauce-cilantro butter on it and some marinated/grilled country ribs. For those of you who like ribs on the grill…you should try you out some country ribs. They have very little bone content compared to your traditional side of ribs or spare ribs…but more meat and the same flavor. Lots of fat of course…but then ribs always have lots of fat and I said they tasted good…not that they were healthy. Neil marinated them overnight before they were grilled and slathered them (that’s a southern term) with sauce made of some bottled BBQ sauce, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and beer…mighty tasty and we have leftovers for one night this week. Had a couple of wine coolers while we sat in the shade and grilled…and since it was July 4th had a Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Stout with dinner. Dessert was Blueberry Crisp with whipped cream…one of our fave homemade desserts.

Tuesday we set off early for our second Fun Stuff© day…a trip northwards along the shore of the lake to Northpoint then south to Traverse City where we had lunch scheduled…although it turned out to be a really late lunch at 1500 which meant we skipped dinner. We ended up at the Workshop Brewery where we had really great beer…Plumb Bob American Stout then we had just a taste of their Wrecking Ball Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Porter. I could go on for the next two paragraphs about the differences between stout and porter…but I’ll spare ya from that…suffice it to say that both are dark and heavy…and delicious. We actually liked the Plumb Bob better…the Wrecking Ball tasted great but it was strongly bourbon flavored and drinking a whole pint of it would just be too much…it’s more of an after dinner sort of brew and a little glass of it would be plenty. Late lunch was a couple of pulled pork sandwiches…which were pretty good considering that we’re in northern Michigan…but would only have been average BBQ in the south. We did have some adventures in parking Big Red in downtown Traverse City…it turned out there was some sort of Cherry Festival going on this week and there were a lot of people in town. We finally found a public parking lot with a space and Neil got Big Red into it although he did need Connie to help guide him in as there wasn’t a lot of room to spare.

Some shots along the way…the Betsie Point Lighthouse.

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Then we were up at the Dunes National Lakeshore…this is Sleeping Bear Dune from the old Indian days.

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And some more shots of the shoreline, dunes, and a little covered bridge we went over on a driving loop through the Lakeshore.

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This dune is about 250-300 feet high and according to the signs you could get down in 5 minutes but it takes 2 hours to climb back up. If you fall off and injure yourself…there’s a huge rescue fee you get charged for the local emergency folks to drag you back up the dune.

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It turned out that Workshop Brewery was Connie’s original choice…but she didn’t think they opened until 1500…so we tried Mackinaw Brewery instead as a second choice…but it was jam packed with yuppies going to the festival. So we walked down the street and were actually headed for North Peak Brewing as our third choice…they didn’t have very good reviews on their food. Saw the sign for Workshop and it was almost 1500 so we headed that way instead. Turned out they actually opened at 1200 so all was good.

After late lunch we headed home arriving right about 1700 and settled down for the evening. Had a little leftover wine from the 4th…Connie caught up her fantasy bike racing team stats and we watched TV until bedtime.

Wednesday will be work for Connie and laundry for Neil…followed by either dinner at Stormcloud Brewery or leftover ribs…then Thursday morning we’ve moving about 250 miles southeast to Ortonville MI right outside Detroit. The attraction there is that Macomb MI is close by and lots of Neil’s ancestors are buried there…so we’re going to (well, actually Connie is going…Neil’s just the bus driver) check it out.

Interesting Stuff found on the net this week.

Funny…I thought it was just about perfect.


For those of you who are still doing the whole work thing…think of this the next time you’re having a bad day at the office.


Happy Independence Day.


Nice sunset and storm.


Finally…what do bears do in the woods?



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Day Trip to Rock Run Rookery Preserve Joliet IL

Well…after my last post we continued to just hang around here in Hanna IN.

We did go ahead and get an appointment for Connie at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute run by the University of Miami (Neil’s alma mater)…they have an office in Naples and we will visit in September for a second opinion on her eye. We also had an appointment this week with a local ophthalmologist who told her she has a 3+ cataract (on a scale of 5) as well as some plaque on her left lens…while she was hesitant to provide any guarantee since at this stage all the docs have are educated guesses anyway…it sounded like she thought that getting the cataract removed would improve her vision. That’s the next step anyway…and we’ll be discussing options with Bascom Palmer when we get south.

In the meantime…we made some arrangements to go up for a couple of weeks in the lower peninsula of Michigan for the next couple of weeks…returning here to Hanna on July 12 where we’ll remain until the 18th as we have a monthly rate site here. We’ll spend a week each in Frankfort MI up on the west side of the peninsula…then a week in Ortonville over on the east side near Detroit…the former to see the lake shore and some nature stuff and the latter to visit Macomb MI where a lot of Neil’s ancestors are from. 

We’ll leave Hanna on Monday July 18, drop the rig off 50 miles east in Elkhart IN at MorRYDE for some bearing work…then do her last appointment with Dr. Vyas that afternoon before returning to Elkhart. From there we’ll head west to Junction City for our fiberglass repairs on the drivers side of the rig.

We also donated our Mazda to the Saint Vincent de Paul Society…she can’t drive anyway and we’ll get a small tax deduction for it this year.

In the meantime…yesterday we decided to have some Fun Stuff©…so after breakfast we saddled up Big Red and headed west about 70 miles to the Rock Run Rookery Preserve which is run by the county that contains Joliet IL. In addition to the photos below…we had one unique sighting on the way back and one very strange happening on the way back.

First up…the strange happening. There we were on I-80 running 62 mph…just a couple miles below the limit…in the right hand lane. Neil was keeping an eye on this semi that was passing us in the center of 3 lanes…all was fine so far with us in the slow lane and it passing. All of a sudden…we heard some loud noises on the passenger side…sounded like tires running over a rumble strip. About that time this other semi passed us on the shoulder…blew on past and then cut us off getting back in the right hand lane. While there was some traffic on the road…there was certainly no reason to be passing at freeway speed on the shoulder. Our best guess is that the dumb ass was texting or dozing off and noticed us in front of him at the last second after the first semi pulled into the center lane to pass…and just swerved to the shoulder to keep from running us over. Scared the crap out of us.

We continued on homewards and right where US-30 that we were on intersected with I-65 there was a brief traffic slowdown…we got through it in 5 minutes or so and found out that the cause was an accident between a little silver Volvo or similar sized car and a semi. Now normally when this happens…the truck is pretty much OK and the car is totaled. In this particular instance…the car had a dent on the rear passenger side by the bumper…and the semi was rolled over onto it’s passenger side dead. First time we’ve ever seen that particular wreck where the car pretty much came out OK…no idea what happened but it was getting on towards rush hour and either the car cut off the truck or the truck wasn’t paying attention and then swerved to avoid hitting it and rolled over. No matter…there was only 1 police car on the scene when we passed and another 2 arrived just as we pulled away from the intersection…so at least we were at the front of the backup.

OK…on to a couple photos from the week.

First up…our Mazda as we waved farewell to it. 2006 model, 164 thousand miles and pretty much gave us no troubles overall while we owned it. Took out 1 deer up in PA and we’re sad to see it go…still looks and runs pretty good for that age and mileage. The eye thing makes it senseless to keep it though. We’ll probably get a beater econobox when we get down to Fort Myers in September and just store it there while we travel if Connie’s driving days are over.

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Pictures from our walks at the rookery…the totally yellow one is an American Goldfinch, The black one is a Red Winged Blackbird…you can tell because he (it’s a male) has a red patch with a yellow flash at the end on the wing…and the brownish one with the crest and the yellow strip on the tail is a Cedar Waxwing.

We also saw a couple of herons and cormorants…but they were way out and even with Neil’s Big Bird Lens© they were pretty much dots. There were also a whole passel (that’s southern for a lot) of what we always call Taunty Birds…they’re small, hide in the brush, and just taunt you with their calls…you know they’re there and can localize them within 10 feet or so by ear but since they’re just taunting ya…ya can just never find the little suckas.

These first couple are some weird seed pods…one with a creepey-crawley of some type on it.

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American Goldfinch…each of these are a different individual…we must have seen 50 of them.

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Red Eared Slider (I think…at least that’s what Google tells me). Doesn’t actually have red ears unless it’s male so this must be a female I guess…but it’s the only one that looked close when I googled it.

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Goldfinch…finally got one that was a decent shot…in focus, nice composition, and close enough to make out some details.

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Strange blossom sort of like a hydrangea…but with much more lacy looking petals…it’s almost like a couple thousand small blossoms on the same stem.

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Male Red Winged Blackbird…very hard to get decent photos of these guys since they’re very dark black and usually silhouetted against the sky.

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Cedar Waxwing…can’t see much of his crest from here but the shot where you can see the crest doesn’t have the tail visible.

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Black Eyed Susans…took this one for Connie.

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Pond at the rookery.

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Grass next to the walking path…these stalks were 10 or 12 feet tall…tallest grass we’ve ever seen.

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Interesting things found on the net this week

Panoramic photos  gone wrong.


Southern bubbas will appreciate this one.



Two headed dog

This kid’s gonna cost his parents a fortune in shoes.

Big Feet


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