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.

Cyas.

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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

CookingBeef

Question about Auburn fans

AuburnFanDivorce

This truck loader clearly has OCD

LoaderHasOCD

I thought this only happened at K-Mart

MirrorIkea

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

JimUnclearSelfie

Cyas.

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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.

Anyway…

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 ancestry.com 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.

Uh-oh.

RestInPeace

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. 

FenceGator

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.

Cyas.

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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.

ThatsSomeGoodChili

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.

IHateMyJob

Happy Independence Day.

HappyJulyFourth

Nice sunset and storm.

SunsetBehindTheStorm

Finally…what do bears do in the woods?

BearInTheWoods

Cyas.

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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.

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Southern bubbas will appreciate this one.

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Wait…what?

Two headed dog

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

Big Feet

Cyas.

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Buckeye Lake OH and Transit to Hanna

Well…Buckeye Lake KOA was pretty nice. we pulled in and got parked in a nice pull through full hookup overpriced (hey, KOA’s are always overpriced but it was the only decent place in the area) site for 3 nights after our 277 mile transit from Dawson. Buckeye Lake sits right off of I-70 and our first night we headed over to Papa Boo’s Bar and Restaurant on the lake…and it was…except for the lakeside ambiance…pretty average. No beer on tap…and nothing really dark in bottles either…we ended up drinking Newcastle Brown Ale which is decent but really not as dark as we normally prefer. The food was average at best…and the entertainment…well, most of the entertainment was us laughing at the way this guy butchered the songs he was trying to sing. He was really bad…even had trouble singing the various verses to the songs in the right order. Sheesh.

Our one day there…we headed over to the Columbus area…first stop was the Arboretum…which turned out to be pretty much a bust but at least it didn’t cost us anything but fuel. From there we headed over to an Irish pub for an afternoon brew…took a look at it from the outside and said “Nah!” and headed north to the next Irish pub we found. Had a pint of Guinness and a Yellow Spot Irish Whisky and it turned out that the place we passed on was actually the gay Irish pub in town. Don’t have anything against gay folks…but it looked kinda rough fro the outside and where we ended up (Claddagh Irish Pub) was pretty much like the pubs over across the pond. Craven’s Gay Irish Pub was just a concrete block building and had no Irishness at all about it.

After the pub we stopped by Kroger and picked up a few groceries we needed…and some country ribs to grill over the upcoming Father’s Day weekend…and headed home.

Friday morning we again hit the road for the last 304 miles back to Hanna…where we pulled into our usual site 25 next to the office. Got setup and just planned on vegetating until Monday. Grilled some chicken Saturday night and the aforementioned country ribs on Sunday…the ribs marinated for 4 or 5 hours in a paste made of mostly Caribbean jerk seasoning type spices with some coffee and cocoa added to the mix…then when they were almost done they got slathered with a sauce Neil mixed up…a combination of a little BBQ sauce, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and some teriyaki sauce…so it was sort of an Asian-Caribbean fusion thing. Didn’t really taste all that Asian or Jerk like…but it did taste mighty good. 

Monday we had Connie’s next followup…and have another visit in a month on July 18…along with a recommendation to go ahead and get an ophthalmologist to see if glasses would help or if she needed cataract surgery.

We’re not interested in staying here in IN long enough for that…and she wants a second opinion from the Bascomb Eye Institute at the University of Miami before any more invasive treatment…so we’re shaking up the Jello again…here’s what we think (as of today) that we’re doing.

We’ll stay here in IN until June 30 and get the ophthalmologist appointment done and hopefully some new glasses…then head about 250 miles north to Frankfort Crystal Lake MI for the holiday weekend. After that…we’ll head back south to Elkhart IN to get our rig bearings done then back here to Hanna for the next appointment. Once that’s done…we’ll transfer the rest of her follow up care down to southern FL.

From Hanna…we’ll head over to Junction City KS to get the rig fixed…we have some fiberglass cracks that are basically due to a New Horizons design problem…they need to fix the cracks and then put in some stress relief cuts and trim strips to prevent recurrence. That should get done between July 25 and early August then we’ll head south. Neil’s emailed our normal winter home Seminole Campground to see if we can get in early…shouldn’t be a big issue as the campground is usually pretty empty when we arrive on Nov 1. At worst…we’ll find another park in the area for 2 months.

Once we get there we’ll get a second opinion on Connie’s eye…and also on a potential hernia that Neil may (or may not have…the ER doc wasn’t really all the positive either way) to see if it needs to get fixed.

So that’s about it…there won’t be much more Fun Stuff© this summer…just maintenance, fixing broke stuff, and fixing Connie. Bummer.

We did get a nice shot of Neil in the Adirondack chair at Papa Boo’s.

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Sorry…no interesting stuff on the internet this week…although we did have a power outage for about 2 hours Sunday afternoon when it was 95 degrees…a squirrel decided to commit hari-kari which blew some fuses out on the main electrical line coming in…luckily the power company got it fixed in a couple of hours and we could get the A/C back on.

Cyas.

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Day Trip to New River Gorge National River and Transit to Ohio

Wow…today we actually did some Fun Stuff©…although we had to sandwich it around some other administrivia to get things done.

We had originally insured Big Red with our long time insurance company USAA…after talking back and forth with the policy writer he was fully onboard with it being a better/safer truck than BAT was and wrote the policy after checking with their underwriters to make sure that it was OK…their statement that it was up to him.

So…we thought we were fine there…but then the underwriter shot the policy down since Big Red is technically a commercial truck…never mind that it’s not being used commercially. So since we had already exhausted just about every other option for getting it covered we reluctantly are forced to switch it over to National Interstate via Miller Insurance out in Oregon. We even tried Progressive as they have our house policy…but their agreement with USAA as a partner company prevents them from insuring a 5500. We had already renewed our house policy through June of 17…so we’ll just have 2 companies for a year and then next May will sort out the best option going forward…probably shift everything over to Progressive on a single policy through Miller…who can get coverage for the 5500.

At my last post…we were still in Pocahontas State Park seeing grand baby Alex…then last Thursday we left there and headed over to Longwood State Park on the Kerr Reservoir in southwest VA. We had a beautiful water/electric site #48 there and basically did nothing the whole weekend as Neil is still recovering from his cold. We did eat out Thursday and Friday nights at a couple of local eateries…the Lake House restaurant and pub and then the Lamplighter Pub. Food and beer were great…the Lamplighter had a dozen VA brews on tap and we sampled several of them.

Sunday morning we hitched up and headed for Dawson WV…where we again stayed at Summer Winds RV right off of I-64. Great spot for a day or two…nice breeze and full hookup sites. We did run into an Airstream convention or something…the two previous times we were here there were a total of I think 3 RVs here but both nights this time have been over capacity with several rigs boondocking instead of being in regular sites.

Monday we decided to get out and see the New River National Gorge and River…the New River runs about 400 miles in NC, VA, and WV through a really deep gorge in the Allegheny Plateau…we got some nice photos of both the largest waterfall (Sandstone Falls) on the river as well as the Grandview Gorge Overlook.

Sandstone Falls is a pretty wide falls…probably 300 yards or so and about 25 feet tall. The river bottom is sandstone in this area and it makes a quite striking view. We had to stick with iPhone photos only as Neil thought the real camera was in the truck only to find out when we got there that it was back in the house:-(. The falls is about 18 miles from the visitor center.

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From there we headed back towards the visitor center and freeway…stopping in Hinton for lunch at a mediocre Italian place…then once back to the freeway continued on west another 10 miles then 8 miles north to the Grandview overlook which looks out over the gorge from about 1,500 feet above it maybe.

Yeah…it really does loop around like that as it meanders through the mountains.

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Looking down at the left side of the above shot we spotted a loaded coal train heading south up the river.

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With that…we decided we were done as it was almost 1600 and we were most of an hour away from the house so we headed home for dinner.

Tuesday morning we got underway bright and early for our next scheduled stop at the Buckeye Lake KOA in Buckeye Lake OH…it’s on the eastern side of  Columbus so we’ll work on Wednesday and then head into Columbus to look around on Thursday.

We ran over to Papa Boos for brews and bar food for dinner…it was our kinda place atmosphere wise with open sides…but they only had bottled beer and the food was average…but at least we didn’t have to cook it. We been seeing a lot of Ohio State ball caps here though…Neil will have to wear a t-shirt and cap from Alabama the next time we head out the door.

Interesting things we found on the internet this week.

Irish field sign.

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Comic Jackie Mason’s thoughts on Starbucks…this mirrors Neil’s thoughts exactly. Venti is Italian for Six Dollars. Starbucks is overpriced and the coffee is burned and bitter anyway…don’t understand why anybody would drink the stuff. It’s just a status symbol…people like other people to think they have enough money to buy $7 coffee…even though they live in a 300 square foot efficiency apartment and drive a leased BMW they can’t afford.

Jackie Mason on Starbucks

Cyas.

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