Wednesday, August 31, 2011

If life gives you lemons, Part 2

You just go out to eat, and then to the RV Hall of Fame in nearby Elkhart.

Carriage came by a little after 7a this morning and picked up the Cameo. Since we were already up we went to our new favorite place to eat, the Lux Cafe, for breakfast. Jo got the baked apple pancakes which are now her new favorite pancakes, 

One benefit of extra time in the area is seeing places that we had on our list and that included the RV Hall of Fame and Museum. This museum has the oldest known RV, the 1913 Earl Trailer and Model T Ford believed to be the oldest non-tent travel trailer in existence that was custom built for a Cal Tech professor. The rest of the collection deals chronologically with RVs as they progressed through the 1920's to the present. It was amazing to see how the features we take for granted in modern RVs developed over the years.
Also included is an area where a new model of each type of RV (motor home, fifth wheel, travel trailer, etc.) s available for viewing. There also is a major vendor area where the vendors that provide the refrigerators, air conditioners, etc. have displays. Finally the Hall of Fame is on the upper level of the museum.

Regardless of the circumstances we are happy that we got to see the RV Hall of Fame and Museum. There is still some work for Carriage to do so we repeat it all again tomorrow at 7a. We are still hoping to head for IL after Carriage completes their work if it is early enough in the day.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

If life gives you lemons,

You just go out to eat!!

While prepping the inside for our departure to Joliet this morning we heard a terrible noise and our fifth wheel rocked. Another couple up earlier than us was leaving and left their awning out and ripped our ladder to shreds. Since we went on a tour of the Carriage factory we are in the RV park right next to Carriage so the men headed to the Parts Building. Jordan, the Customer Service rep, followed us back to the park and we first looked at the awning damage, it was a total loss. We then looked at our shredded ladder and although a total loss there appeared to be only minor damage to the fiberglass gelcoat but we did not get a good look at the roof. Again the great news is that no one got hurt and the really great news is that it was not our fault, hey we were just sitting there.

Jordan checked a few things out and was able to get us into the factory for repairs tomorrow morning. That's the good news since they usually are very buy, the bad news is that they come and pickup the RVs at 7;00 a.m., which is earlier than Bob gets up and a whole lot earlier than when Jo gets up. Fiberglass repair takes some time to cure so it may be a 2 day job for us while the awning repair should take a couple of hours. We will see our home again probably about 3:00 p.m. The really bad news is that the cats will be locked in the bedroom with the slides in from 7a-3p maybe two days in a row and then we have a travel day. We don't think the cats are living the dream right now.

When life gives you lemons you just go out to eat. Since we were here for only a short time we did not get to eat at a place recommended as a good place to eat, that being the Lux Cafe in nearby Goshen. After we got it all settled it was getting close to lunch time so we went to the Lux Cafe. As we are prone to do we got breakfast; Jo got the 'A Taste of France French Toast' which was french toast covered in a sautied sauce of applies, Cinnamon and raisins, while Bob got the gyro scrambler which was gyro meat, feta, tomatoes, onions and potatoes scrambled with eggs. It was very tasty and this will be our breakfast place after the 7a pickup tomorrow morning and some of the lunch and dinner entrees look downright appealing.

After lunch we went to our home away from home, Wal-Mart, for some shopping and then hit a farmer's market on the way back. We need to sample some Indiana sweet corn to compare with Michigan and Wisconsin and Iowa and Missouri and Nebraska sweet corn.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Monday, August 29, 2011

Das Dutchman Essenhaus

We are currently in Millersburg Indiana for a brief stopover as we work our way to Mount Rushmore and then to Denver for some medical tests for Bob. We went on the Carriage factory tour today to see where they made our Cameo. It was real interesting and exciting to see the changes they have made. One of note is that they no longer put Duros, or the "Chinese Tire Bombs" on the Cameos, it is now the Goodyear G614s which we just changed our Duros out for.

Driving around Amish country has been a hoot with all the buggys and bicycles. We tried to eat at Das Dutchman Essenhaus in nearby Middlebury yesterday because both the Carriage Yahoo Group and Escapees members highly recommended this place but yesterday was SUNDAY and anything Amish related is closed on Sunday. Well after the tour this morning we ate there and everybody is dead on. This is a great place to eat with everything served family style and the Amish families must like to eat because we were overwhelmed with food and you know that is hard to do :-) We could not even finish the first batch of food they brought out.

What amazed us the most was probably the side dishes, the absolute best noodles we have ever had with great mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans and dressing. You also get a salad and bread with homemade dressings for the salad and homemade apple butter or peanut butter for the bread. Plus the meal includes dessert, can you say homemade pies also, and the meal includes a drink. For the meat we had broasted chicken which was also very good. We walked away stuffed and we highly recommend this place to anyone who likes to eat, just come hungry..

We are off tomorrow to our next stopover in Joliet IL where we will get the chance to see Jo's nephew while there. We wished we had more time here but this is one of the few times we actually have to be somewhere at a set time so we will just have to make plans to come back.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hey, it's good to be back home again

What was supposed to be a couple of nights in a hotel and a couple good hotel showers turned into 4 nights since it took a while to get the new tires. We are so thankful that we have those new tires so it was worth it. Bob drove the RV from our dealer to the hotel parking lot and we left the next morning.

We first had to put the cats in the bedroom and then all of our hotel baggage in the Cameo for our trip to Millersburg Indiana (yeah, another state). When we arrived we did our normal arrival tasks and then we had to unpack all the baggage that we took to the hotel. It took us a while but we got everything back where it should be and started getting that comfortable feeling that comes with being back home and settling into your old routine.

We are taking a tour of the Carriage plant where they built our Cameo on Monday and then eating some good Amish food and then heading to Joliet Illinois to visit Jo's nephew.

Sometimes this old Cameo feels like a long lost friend,

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Like having a heart attack in an ER

We had planned on picking up our RV today and heading for Indiana. Our dealer pulled the tires to inspect the brakes this morning. Bob took advantage of this to take the tires to a tire dealer to have them checked for leaks since one tire was losing air slightly faster than the others and to do a visual inspection. Our Cameo came with Duro tires, or what some have called 'Chinese Tire Bombs'. We used these tires for two years and consider ourselves lucky, especially after what happened today.

Our RV dealer did a visual inspection for bubbles or defects and found nothing. The tire dealer also did an inspection in front of Bob on the inside and outside of all four tires and none of us saw anything. The tires were pumped up to operating pressure and put in a tank to check for leaks. One tire had a nail in the side wall that was causing the leak. So now we needed 1 tire. After all the tires had been dunked one of them developed a bubble right in front of us just liking having a heart attack in an ER. We are so blessed that it happened at the tire dealer and not on the road.

So now we needed 2 tires and we decided it was time to dump the Duros and get Goodyears, we got the G614 based on what Bob has read online, talking with other Carriage owners, and after talking with our RV dealer. The tire dealer did not have those in stock, who keeps an inventory anymore, but they should be available tomorrow morning so we are staying another night in the Hotel.

Oh boy another good hotel shower!!

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What a weird feeling

We are writing this entry from a hotel room. For the first time in almost 2 years we are not sleeping in our RV. We brought our Cameo to our dealer, M&M Camping Center in Trenton MI, to add an awning, for some minor warranty work before our 2 year warranty expires, and some yearly maintenance stuff. With three cats and the technicians being in and out of the unit we were afraid that the cats might get out and that was too much burden to place on M&M.

We had blogged earlier on how nice it is not to have to worry about what to pack on our next adventure because everything we own is with us. Spending a night or two in a hotel has already been an adventure and has given us a weird feeling as we obsessed with what to pack since we were out of practice and the logistices of getting three cats from the RV to the hotel room.

As we are now semi-settled in we got to thinking about the differences our similarities between full-timing and staying in a hotel beyond the packing issue:
- it is not only RV parks that are situated right near a noisy freeway
- hotel toilet paper makes RV toilet paper seem luxurious
- the exhaust fan in our RV bathroom is much better than most hotel exhaust fans
- for 2 nights stay at a hotel that accepts pets we spent about what we would spend for a week of camping

After all this we cannot wait to get back to our home on wheels,

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Monday, August 22, 2011

Howell Melon Festival (almost)

Howell Michigan is a short drive from the RV Park so yesterday we decided to go to the Howell Melon Fest. After all the weather forecast was for rain in the early morning and we were going in the afternoon. The "Howell" melon is claimed to be found only in this area and is a very good tasting hybrid cantaloupe. The first Howell melons were grown by August "Gus" Smith, a local farmer, who was given the original seeds by an itinerant hobo during the Great Depression. The taste of the melon soon won over other farmers who soon planted the distinctive melon elsewhere in Livingston County. The Howell Melon Festival has been held each year in mid-August since 1960.

As we were driving towards the Festival a big storm was heading towards us and Howell. Discretion is the better part of valor so we turned around and headed back to the park. We luckily got far enough that a tent on the outskirts of town run by the Jaycees who put on the Festival was selling Howell Melons so we stopped and got one. By now it was sprinkling and it stayed that way luckily all the way back to the park. A scant few moments after we got safely inside it rained heavily. We cut open the melon and had a very good melon so we are glad that we at least attempted to go. We also got tomatoes at the stand so we had BLTs and Michigan sweet corn for lunch while it was pouring outside. 

Nice to know you can depend on the weather forecast no matter where you are!

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Resuts of our great Pasty Tour

We left the UP on Friday and drove to Hartland on the Lower Peninsula of Michigan and with that we leave the land of pasties. Ever since we arrived on Lake Superior in June we have been on a great pasty (pronounced pass-tee) tour. A pasty is a pastry crust filled with meat, potatoes, carrots and rutabaga folded into a hand held configuration and baked. Traditionally eaten with no topping or with ketchup in the UP a lot of tourists requested gravy so most places offer a gravy option but we found no topping or ketchup preferable to gravy.

Here is a pasty cut in two just out of the oven.

Head and shoulders above all other that we tried is Muldoons in Munising. We always tried to eat at a place that just won a competition or recommended to us. Most of the places won area competitions but Muldoons won a UP-wide competition voted best pasty on the UP.  The crust was flaky and not chewy, the meat tender, the potatoes firm, all that you can ask for in a pasty. They serve beef, chicken and veggie (Jo's favorite) pasties in their regular category but their dessert category is what really sets Muldoons apart with blueberry or cherry filling that we sampled. They also offer apple and pumpkin and maybe others. The dessert offering changes daily so we are unsure of the total menu..

The next major grouping are a lot of places that have very good pasties led by Suomi of Houghton, Dobbers in Escanaba which had the best veggie pasty, and Connie's Kitchen of Calumet. Lawry's in Ishpeming, the Gourmet Garage in Bayfield WI and the Taste of the UP in St. Ignace were also very good. Without the experience of Muldoons any of these could easily have been our best.

As mentioned previously our very first pasty was a frozen one bought at a Wal-Mart that was recommended to us in Wisconsin. For a mass produced store bought pasty it was darn good and told us that we had to continue our pasty tour.

We only found one pasty that we would not recommend, or to put it bluntly, avoid at all costs, and that is Sherri's in Ishpeming. Everything you have heard that is wrong about pasties was evidenced in our sampling; the dough was thick and very chewy and not flaky, the potatoes were mush, and the meat was tough. We had great meals at Sherrys from a very good fried perch at their Friday Fish Fry to a couple of very good breakfasts which led us to try their Wednesday pasty special. The lesson learned from this debacle is that it probably best to buy from pasty-only shops.

Our ranking of every pasty that we have had is as follows with their ranking:

Muldoons - Munising MI (best beef and chicken, best pasty pie made with fruit filling)

VERY GOOD (won't go wrong with any of these in order of our preference)
Suomi - Houghton MI
Dobbers - Escanaba MI (best veggie)
Connie's Kitchen - Calumet MI
Lawry's - Ishpeming MI
Gourmet Garage - Bayfield WI
Taste of the UP - St. Ignace MI

Wal-Mart frozen (made by a gal in Florence WI)

Sherri's - Ishpeming MI

If you are ever in the UP do not hesitate to do your own pasty tour because they are available everywhere.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Friday, August 19, 2011

Soo Locks

We recently drove to Sault Ste Marie to visit the Soo Locks. Arriving in town we had lunch at The Antlers which is decorated with you guessed it, antlers and also some stuffed animals like lions, bears, etc. We had grouper and Gouda sandwiches that were great.

The Soo Locks was created to aid large ships and freighters to navigate from Lake Superior to Lake Huron. The St. Marys Rivers is the only water connection from Lake Superior to Lake Huron but a series of rapids are the result of the 21 foot difference between the lake levels. Before the locks a large ship was laid on planks and then slowly moved across the rapids taking 3 months to move from lake to lake. Even smaller ships and boats had to portage around the rapids. The first locks were built in 1797 on the Canadian side and in the 1850's on the US side. To this day the locks operate toll free for any ships or boats and takes about 15 minutes to change levels.

We took the Soo Locks Boat Tour which is a two hour tour taking you first through the American locks, then explore the Canadaian side, and then back through the Canadian locks. It really was interesting and a great time seeing the locks operating firsthand.

Photos from this day have been uploaded to the St. Ignace set on

Here we are entering the locks from Lake Huron, 21 feet below Lake Superior.

The Lake Huron gates closing behind us.

Water flowing from Lake Superior to the locks raising the level.

Water rising raising the tour boat.

Gates open at Lake Superior level.

Another great day on the UP.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Another first

We think we may have done something for the first time definitely as full-timers and maybe even as a married couple of 21 years. Before your dirty minds get moving too fast we had breakfast for all three meals yesterday.

We are in blueberry country here in the Upper Peninsula so yesterday we had leftover wild blueberry pancakes for breakfast. Our plan for the day was to go over Da' Bridge to Mackinaw City and tour Fort Michilimackinac, which the French built in 1715, and the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse. We puttered around the place and headed for lunch at the Pancake Chef in Mackinaw City.

At the Pancake Chef we could not decide on breakfast or lunch and we noticed their breakfast buffet was still operating which surprised us since it was almost Noon. The buffet was cheaper than anything else on the menu plus it had french toast which Jo was leaning to. That is how we ended up with our 2nd breakfast meal of the day.

After the Pancake Chef we decided to walk to a shop in the Mackinac Crossing area where we  bought 'No Sugar Added' Wild Blueberry Syrup, we did mention this was blueberry country didn't we? There was no breeze and no clouds so it turned out to be a little hotter than we like so we decided to go back and get our chairs and read in the shade overlooking the lake. 

By the time supper rolled around we realized that some of the blueberries were getting a little long in the tooth so we decided to make blueberry pancakes and that is how we ended up with our 3rd breakfast meal of the day.

Seriously, the blueberries up here are the best we have ever had. We are at the end of the season so whenever anybody has some we buy them as fast as we can. We have had oatmeal or cereal covered in so many luscious blueberries all you see is blueberries. The same goes for ice cream covered in blueberries. We have frozen a lot of blueberries but with our small freezer not as much as we would like. We just could not eat the blueberries fast enough which is why we had to have the blueberry pancakes for supper, or as we like to say we like to have a little pancake batter with our blueberries.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Monday, August 15, 2011

"400 miles north of everywhere"

"400 miles north of everywhere" is how Lilian Jackson Braun described the setting for her series of "Cat Who": books. We were sad to hear that she recently passed away at the age of 97 after writing 29 books and 3 short stories. The location was never formally stated but we believe it has to be somewhere on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

The books describe the obsession with pasties and man they are everywhere. Also mentioned are the sand dunes which you have to see to believe. When there are signs to watch for sand on the road the state of Michigan is probably not the first state that comes to mind but there are some of the nicest sandy beaches you will find anywhere.

Lighthouses are also part of the stories and Michigan has more lighthouses than any other state. A resort island is the setting for a couple of the books and you have Mackinac Island among others. Winter weather and large amounts of snow figured in the plots of a number of books and you have the city of Hancock which the Weather Channel recently dubbed the 3rd snowiest town in America. Hancock is also the northernmost 'town' in Michigan with only villages and townships above Hancock on the Keweenaw Peninsula.

There are a few other things that we have noticed that we are "north of everywhere":

- cell towers are not to be seen
- 55 mph speed limits because there are no Interstates until you get to the eastern part of the UP and I-75 goes from St. Ignace to Sault Ste. Marie
- very small non-commercial towns everywhere
- signs for snowmobile routes and no snowmobiles on sidewalk
- Little League dominates local sports, there even was a multi-part news story about a turf battle between two towns and where the Little League boundary was
- have to know that it is north of everywhere when a common navigation tip is the only working stoplight in town
- gets dark real late, this picture taken at 9p

It may or may not be the setting for the "Cat Who" books but the Upper Peninsula is sure a great place to visit.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Friday, August 12, 2011

Life goes on - Mackinac Island

A day after we dropped our fifth wheel onto our truck we went to Mackinac Island. We figured the best way to get the sour taste out of our mouths was to enjoy the area. Mackinac Island has long been on our list of things to see. The only way to get to the island is to take a ferry. Unlike other areas where we have been that only had one ferry option but here there are at least three options. Luckily they all cost the same and take about the same time to get there. We took the one ferry a day that took a small detour to go under the Mackinac Bridge which was really neat.

We got to the island and walked around downtown for awhile looking at the shops and reading menus. There are no motorized vehicles allowed on the island except for emergency vehicles so we are in for a day of walking and riding in house drawn carriages. We ate lunch and signed up for a carriage tour of the entire island. There was some time to kill so we walked around downtown and we have never seen so many places that sell fudge. Mackinac Island is known for fudge and we sampled some of the best fudge we have ever had, can you say sugar coma?

The carriage tour was about 2 hours and went by the landmarks of the island including the Biddle House, the Grand Hotel, Arch Rock, and ending at Fort Mackinac. Fort Mackinac was built in 1780 by the British, and remained a US Fort until 1895. A posting at the fort on a resort island was highly sought after. The Fort has maintained the old buildings, one from when it was first built. Combined with reenactors to give it that 1800's feel it was pretty cool. The view from the fort walls giving a commanding view of the surrounding area showed why the fort was placed here. Originally this area was under the control of the French who built Fort Michilimackinac where modern day Mackinaw City is located. That fort has also been restored and is available for touring which we may do before we leave.

After our tour of Fort Mackinac we walked to the Grand Hotel which is the world's largest summer hotel and has the world's longest covered porch. We took the elevator to the Cupola Bar for the great view and an iced tea after the walk. We then walked around the hotel and on the front porch. By now we were ready for some relaxation so we took the hotel shuttle to downtown and of course bought some fudge, pumpkin pie and chocolate peanut butter, and then took the ferry back to St. Ignace.

It may take awhile for all the photos to upload to since we have a slow WiFi connection but here are a few samples:

Mackinac Bridge from the ferry

Grand Hotel

Arch Rock

Fort Mackinac

As we said earlier, life goes on. We had a great day and although until we get the truck fixed every time we walk towards the truck there is a constant reminder of what we did we are determined to continue enjoying life. We try to keep our focus on the future and not the past and maybe the constant reminder may help us be more conscientious when hooking up.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Not living the dream today

We have blogged about all the great places we have been, the great food that we have eaten, and the cool temperatures. We have truly been living the dream but it all came crashing down, literally, today.

We decided to move to a different spot today in the park since the tripod and satellite dish setup just wasn't working, the wind kept blowing it down and it was getting harder and not easier to set it up.

After we hooked up we raised the front jacks an inch or so and pulled forward a little bit. Thinking we were secure we raised the front jacks and headed for the other site when we heard CRASH or was it THUNK? Yes, we had dropped the Fifth Wheel onto the truck bed.

The great news is that nobody was hurt. The good news is that the truck appears to be drivable, although not very attractive. There was no apparent damage to the Fifth Wheel so we are planning to drive it this way until we get to our RV dealer later this month and probably wait to get the truck fixed when we get to Arizona for the winter.

All it will take to fix this is money and time and we learned a valuable lesson; that we need to lock the dang hitch and drive forward further than we did. And the best thing is nobody got hurt, except maybe our egos. Jo did say she was going to sue Bob for whiplash : - )

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Monday, August 8, 2011

Fayette Historic Townsite

Fayette Historic Townsite is located within the Fayette Historic State Park on the Lake Michigan, or southern side, of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It was the site of one of the most productive iron-smelting operations in the UP that manufactured charcoal pig iron between 1867 and 1891 producing a total of 229,288 tons of iron. The town has been reconstructed into a living museum showing what life was lke in this tow in the late 19th century.

There is a neat diorama in the visitors center that shows the layout of the town as it was. About 500 people lived here, mostly immigrants from Canada, Great Britain and northern Europe. The town prospered during its 24 years of operation but then the use of hardwoods in the purifying the iron became too expensive and instead of converting the facility it was just shut down. The town survived for awhile as a farming, fishing and resort community but by the 1950's it was abandoned. The State purchased the land in 1959.

Today the Fayette Historic Townsite is a living museum with many restored buildings. Visitors may walk through the buildings to learn about life in Fayette during the late 19th century. Over 20 buildings are open, with restoration continuing on other parts of the town.

Here is the restored dual blast furnace used for making pig iron.

Here is a picture of the town.

Along with the town there is also a very scenic beach area and harbor. We stopped in Garden on the way to townsite and bought chili dogs that we ate on a picnic table overlooking the harbor and shoreline opposite.

Photos from this visit have been added to the Rapid River set on

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Good News on the satellite dish setup

Dawn of a new day and Bob decided to go through the tripod setup and dish pointing again from the beginning. He used the recommended setting from the DirecTV receiver and shock of all shocks, for Bob and especially for Jo, he was able to successfully align and get a good signal.

So now we can watch TV shows when we want to and not have to catch them live, that would be too much liking camping.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Frustrating day yesterday

We are now in St. Ignace Michigan but boy it was not an easy day yesterday. It was a longer trip of 120 miles which with the small towns and some road construction took about 2 and 1/2 hours. This was not the frustrating part.

The adventure began when we tried to back into the site with a view of Lake Michigan. Bob wanted to stay the last couple weeks on the Upper Peninsula side of Mackinac Bridge so he called Lakeshore Park Campground first with his usual list; 50 amps, satellite dish on roof, etc. We were told the lake view sites were full but that she would try and work us in for maybe a week so we got a pull thru where we were assured the dish on the roof would work. Well a couple of hours later she called back and was able to get us 2 weeks with a lake view. 50 amps was raised as a question but dish on the roof slipped by.

Anyway when we pulled in we were told that no one has mentioned problems with satellite reception at that site and the only discount they offered was FMCA. There was also a FMCA rally going on and those were clues as to what was coming next. This park is setup for motorhomes primarily especially the lake view sites. What this means to the novice is that the hookups are opposite of what we have on our fifth wheel since our lake view is from the rear of the fifth wheel and a motorhome lake view is from the front windows. All hookups are on the driver side. It was a nice wide site which caused some communication problems at first. Let's begin this part of the story by stating that Jo was right, she was directing towards the pedestal with our site number on it. Bob was certain she meant the 'other right' when she said right and was backing towards the normal hookup area so at first we ended up at a strange angle. Bob knew he was in trouble when Jo said the 'other right' a couple of times. In these types of sites we get our sewer and water from our normal side but power from the other.

Wait, there is even more in our adventure.Once we were both on the same page regarding hookup locations and positioning ourselves so that we might get satellite reception. Bob checked other dishes in the park for their orientation and a compass. We needed to be at the very back of the site but then our 50 amp power cable would not reach. We also had to dodge a telephone cable that was about 13'6" above ground or just barely above the fifth wheel. We could not be near that when the dish got into position. So we went as far back as we could to raise the antenna and see if we could get reception. If needed we could pull forward with the dish up and move closer to the telephone cable. We used our 50 amp to 30 amp adapter to get power but there was no reception. So we tried to pull forward just a little and hopefully get a better angle. One good thing that came out of this is that Jo drove, actually she just pulled forward while Bob watched the dish and telephone cable, but she did some towing. She figured that would be the least harmful if something went wrong.

Unfortunately pulling forward did not get us better satellite reception so we just gave up on that and finished setting up. Pulling forward did allow us, however, to use the 50 amp power cord. After getting everything setup, what usually takes less than an hour was now three hours, we had a very late lunch and took a break. Another fun fact about this place, Jo tested the water as she always and it tested at 523 on our meter which is above the safe drinking limit of 500 so we will be getting bottled water for sure. It will be good practice for Canada next year.

After the break Bob decided to try and setup the tripod with dish for the first time ever when we needed it for reception. He looked for the signal meter but it was not where he thought it would be or the two or three other places that it could be. Bob was not too worried since a DirecTV guy told him it was better to use the signal meters on the receiver anyway. We carry the dish and tripod in the truck bed so Bob has wrapped them in trash bags in case it rained on travel days. So the time it takes for a seasoned tripod setter to be finished Bob had just got them out of their trash bag cocoons and did we mention that this was the FIRST time Bob had setup the tripod under a pressure situation. He had set it up and put on the now missing meter but never connected to a TV before.

After getting the tripod and dish out it was time to setup the tripod and get it level. The ground up here is about 3 inches of sandy dirt on top of a limestone bed as hard as concrete, so the long stakes and the auger anchors would not work. A milk jug full of water and a bungee cord is all that he could find to stabilize it. With the tripod level Bob then went to attach the lnb arm to the dish. It was taken apart so it would fit into the box in the truck bed and of course the four bolts needed for securing the arm to the dish were missing. Even though we have only 359 sq. ft. we still have that dreaded place where we put things so we know we can find it again. Right now that place has those bolts and the signal meter and probably a few other things.

No frustrating day would be complete without a trip to the hardware store so Bob headed off to True Value. He took the lnb arm into the store so he would get the right sized bolts. There was a guy in line who saw the lnb arm and said his brother free lanced on satellite installation problems so Bob got his number just in case. With the bolts in hand Bob drove back and installed the arm on the dish and mounted it to the tripod. He pointed it approximately in the right direction and using our cellphones Jo monitored the signal meters and if "0" was a good number we were golden. So Bob moved it slightly left and right and nothing either way.

Bob gave up and called the troubleshooter who will hopefully come out today. After awhile Bob remembered that at the last park a fellow camper was having trouble with his setup and wanted to check the settings from our automatic dish. They were vastly different than the ones he got from So Bob went out again with the new settings and "0" was our lucky number again. Luckily you can still watch your playlist without satellite reception so we relaxed and caught up on some of our shows and enjoyed an ice cream dish with hot fudge and Michigan cherries and blueberries.

We certainly hope it will be worth it, here is our view of the lake, a little foggy so hopefully will have better pictures later.

While here we plan to Whitefish Point and the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum (Edmund Fitzgerald anyone), Soo Locks, Mackinac Island, and of course lighthouses, waterfalls, and just reading by the lake.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Friday, August 5, 2011

Taking it easy in Rapid River Michigan

After all the trails to get to the scenery we saw in the Munising area we took it a little easier in the Rapid River area. We mostly drove to Escanaba which is about 15 miles away and visited Ludington Park which has benches along the water. There also is a lighthouse to tour so you know we did that. We did take a day trip to the Fayette Historic Town Site that we will blog about later.

A typical trip to Escanaba involved eating at the Swedish Pantry which is great for either breakfast or lunch. Also involved was walking along the waterfront and then sitting on a bench looking at the water and reading. One day we toured the Sand Point Lighthouse and Delta County Historical Museum which are adjacent and covered in the same admission charge.

We also made it a point each time we were in Escanaba to hit a roadside fruit stand or even a grocery store. Believe it or not we bought blueberries at Elmer's Market in Escanaba that were better than any we purchased at the Berry Patch in the Kansas City area. The blueberries were from Michigan and we could hardly believe it ourselves how good they were. We went to the Escanaba Farmer's Market and got the best blueberries we have ever had and the best cherries this side of Wenatchee Washington. The sweet corn is also terrific and the tomatoes are just starting to come in. Last night we had BLTs and corn followed by blueberries and cherries and hot fudge and ice cream.

Here is a picture of the park we spent most of our time at.

Here are a couple pictures of the Sand Point Light House.


The campground that we are staying at in Rapid River has done a lot of landscaping in the park giving it a nice homey feel.

Pictures have been uploaded to the Rapid River set on

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Monday, August 1, 2011

Enhanced blog welcome photo

Thanks to our friend Mike we now have an enhanced welcome photo on our blog. It sure brightens up the neighborhood, thanks again Mike.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo