Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Heat Caught Up With Us Again

Currently in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, and the heat has caught up with us again.  The guy on local weather said last night that the Twin Cities normally get 13 days of 90 degree weather a year; yesterday was #14 with a high of 95 and today should be #15.

Going to the Mall of the Americas this afternoon to dodge the heat.

Speaking of cool – the big Mystic Lake Casino where we are staying is hosting an open-air Beach Boys concert tonight.  It’s sold out, but our campsite may offer a better venue than the standing-room only tickets provide. 

bb concert

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Playing Catch-up

No post yesterday, and not much to report today.  Yesterday and today were basically a travel days.  We spent the night in Iron Mountain, Michigan -on the Wisconsin border and already back in the Central Time Zone, the drove today to Dell City, Wisconsin.

We’ll be touring the Dells tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Didn’t think I was going to be able to post anything today.  Wi-Fi in this campground was extremely poor when we got here, and kept dropping out entirely.  I had quit trying to use it at all, then this morning the trailer in the next site left, and internet access has been fine ever since.

The only problem is that my connection is not on the RV park network.  I don’t know who I connected to – it’s a string of letters and numbers that don’t seem to mean anything at all.  I can still see the campground when I search for networks, but it show a signal strength of no (zero) bars.

Double Rainbows over Lake Michigan from our campsite

We saw this double rainbow yesterday afternoon.  We set up in the rain, but after it blew over, we were treated to this sight.  You can barely make out the lake past the bushes on the shore, but the rainbows are actually out over Lake Michigan.

Monday, July 25, 2011


According to Weatherbug, the temperature at home this morning at 6 a.m. was 81.  The temperature here at our campsite in Cheboygan, MI was 59.

With a little help from a front that moved the hot weather east, we have finally managed to get north of the hot weather.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

I Know Jack


We went to the Jack Pine Lumberjack Show last night.  The guy on the right is four-time world champion log roller Darren Hudson.  He’s in Mackinaw City practicing for the next international competition, which comes up in a couple weeks.

IMG_3769He’s also won “Bull of the Woods” all-around championships at several competitions, which means he’s pretty darn good at pole climbing.  The shot above shows him just starting down from the 90 foot stripe while his opponent, a Michigan College champ, is still on his way up to the 60 foot line.


He used his chain saw to carve a “rabbit.”   Actually, the ears became the legs for a little chair.


The little guy he gave it to didn’t like it much, but everybody else in the audience thought it was great.

He didn’t mention it himself, but Dan, the owner and M-C of the show, was a nine time world champion log roller.  I’m sure we saw him compete on ESPN a few years ago.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

On the Other Foot

When we got to Cheboygan, we found that the Sheltons had a 30 amp site and there were no 50 amp sites available.  Somehow, their reservation read pull-through with cable (they have a satellite dome on the top of their motor home) and did not specify 50 amp.

They are moving down the road to another campground this morning.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Doing It Right

At Timber Ridge RV Resort in Traverse City, Michigan.  Nice place, but about two hours after we pulled in and got set up the 50 amp breaker at our site blew and wouldn’t reset – not even with our cable unplugged.

The girl at the office said that the maintenance man had already gone for the day, but she called the owner who told her that if we could get by on 30 amps until he could get back from an appointment in town, he would come replace the breaker.

He was as good as his word, and while working on the power pedestal he learned that it was our first trip to the area.  He told me “I have one more job to do after this, but I’ll come back later with some maps and help you plan a day tour for tomorrow that will make the best use of your time.”

Two hours later he knocked on our door with an armload of maps and brochures, laid out a route and told us everything to be sure to see along the way.

Just can’t ask for better service than that.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Almost Heaven

After the Hell we had to deal with at Shipshewana North RV Park, we felt like we deserved a break.  We got it at The Hill Campground in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.

The Hill Campground 2

The Hill Campground 3

The Hill Campground

This is a beautiful, rustic campground on the Saginaw Chippewa reservation, that offers shady pull-through sites with 50 amp service for only $18 per night.  When I checked in, the guy must have decided I deserved a senior discount because he only charged me $17.

In spite of all the huge trees, I was able to snare satellite service with our dish with no trouble at all.

After dinner, Honey and I went down to the Soaring Eagle Casino, also operated by thee Sag-Chips as they called themselves.  We were expecting a small casino with bingo and a few slots, but the place is huge.  They actually have two casinos, but the older original casino is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.  We actually made a profit on the evening – I won $150 on a penny machine, and Honey won $100 on a quarter slot.

Here is one more view from our campsite showing the bath house and pool.  The large building on the left is the Methodist Church – located in the campground just behind the office.

The Hill bathhouse pool church

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Oh Ship, too

After all the bad stuff that occurred yesterday, we woke up to a beautiful day in Shipshewana, Indiana.  Shelton was able to locate a facility in a nearby town that had a replacement windshield in stock and could install it tomorrow. 

We were beginning to think that our troubles were behind us.

We went into town and toured the shops, and took a horse-and-buggy tour of the surrounding area.

We took a buggy tour pulled by a horse named Spud - our driver was an Amish fellow named Leroy

An Amish lady on her way into town - the long white rolls in the pasture are silage

Flowers and more flowers

After an excellent lunch at a local restaurant, we bought some fresh produce and some fabulous locally-made cheese and meat at the market.

Then, when we got back to the campground, we found that our trailer had been unplugged. Our dogs had been locked in the trailer while the temperature went to 100 degrees inside, and there was a nasty note on our door saying that the power pedestal was to be shared and that I could not  use both 30 amp plugs – as we had arranged to do the day before when the 50 amp site we had reserved months ago was not available. 

Somebody had moved in next door today, and when he saw that we were using both plugs, he complained.  Instead of moving him to another site – like they made us do yesterday, and most of the other campsites were available – the guy just came out and unplugged us.

I never saw the guy that did it.  He signed the note the mgt, but the lady running the office wouldn’t admit to knowing who had done it and even claimed not to recognize the handwriting.  She told me that my only options were to move to a 50 amp site with lights and water only, or to take a refund and leave. 

We moved to the other site, but Honey got so hot arranging stuff inside the trailer for the move that I had to make her go out and sit in the truck. 

Once we were set up in our third site in two days at this same park, I went back to the office and told the lady that her employee had damn near killed our dogs and considering the way we had been jerked around over the past two days, the least she could do was give us a refund for one of the two days.  She agreed and processed the refund.  Not sure what she would have done if I had said she damn near killed my wife, too.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Oh Shipshewana !!!

Not a great day yesterday.

First, Travis was pulling out of a very tight spot at a gas station.  He ran over the curb across the street and the torque on the front of their motor home caused the big wrap-around windshield to break. He is calling around this morning trying to find a replacement.

Then when we got to the campground, we found another customer was already hooked up to our 50 amp connection.  We had to move to another spot and use a combo pigtail that Travis had to get full 50 amp service.

Then, when I unhooked and started to pull away from our trailer, I forgot to drop the tailgate on the truck! They say all 5th wheel drivers have either done that, or just haven’t done that yet – but that doesn’t help.  We’ll have to replace the tailgate when we get home.

The town and the campground are nice, but with everything else going on, we haven’t had the opportunity to get any pictures yet.  We’ll get some today.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Cincinnati – Winton Woods

Just on the outskirts of Cincinnati, Ohio, the Hamilton County Park District operates the Winton Woods Campground.  When I made our reservation, I thought the price for an overnight stay was outrageous - $45 in a county park – but that was before we got here and got charged another $10 for a county parking decal.

Honey said I have already posted enough pictures of our rig, but I wanted you to see what a $55 campsite looks like:

campsite - Winton Woods

The park is very nice, has a pavilion with entertainment on weekend evenings, a golf course and a lake.  Here are a couple more views:


Winton Woods

and at rush hour

rush hour

On the lake

The Water at Winton Woods

Next stop Shipshewana, Indiana.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Cave Country

View from our campsite in Cave Country RV Park, Cave City, KY.  Manicured park surrounded by corn fields.

Here’s a look at the view from our campsite at Cave Country RV Park in Cave City, Kentucky.  It is a nicely landscaped and well maintained facility located in the middle of a huge cornfield.

The big attractions in the area are the Mammoth Cave National Park and GM’s Corvette factory and National Corvette Museum.  We opted to not go to either while we were here, although we did pass by them on the highway.  After all, we have seen, even driven, Corvettes before and we’ve all walked through quite a few caverns.

Something we had never done, until today, was ride a boat down a rushing river inside a cave.  That is the attraction of the Lost River Cave Tour, and it was well worth the price of admission.

Looking over the dam at the end point of the boat tour.  From here the cave (and the river) splits.  One side has only been explored for 6 1/2 miles.  The other comes back out of the ground and eventually flows into the Barren River which feeds into the Mississippi.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Smarter Than The Button

At Cave Country RV in Kentucky.  Nice RV park.

After we arrived yesterday, the Shelton’s air conditioner quit working.  Basically, only about half of their AC circuits worked and none of the DC.

I got out my meter and we checked the incoming power and the power at the breakers – all OK.  I suspected a GFI outlet, but they only have one, and that circuit was working.

Travis called a mobile RV repair service.  He showed up promptly and 1/2 hour and $105 later he found that a switch by the front door had been accidentally turned off.  That switch disabled all the 12 volt stuff throughout the RV, including the anything that used 12 volt controls, like the air conditioners.

Wouldn’t have been so bad, except once it was fixed, Travis admitted that it had happened to them before.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Before and After


VisitedStatesMap (1) 

Here is a look at what our old “visited states” map looked like before our current trip.  The colored states are those where we have camped at least one night at some time in the past. There is a “visited provinces” map that I could have added and shaded in Alberta and British Columbia, but the two maps aren’t drawn to the same scale and don't match up well.

After this trip is done, our US map will look like this:

VisitedStatesMap (2)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

On the Road


Leaving Mississippi for Northern Alabama today.  8 a.m. and already almost too hot to want to get the trailer ready to leave.

102 when we set up yesterday afternoon, then around 4 p.m. had a shower that dropped the temp to about 80.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Off to a Not So Great Start

When we got to Poché Plantation yesterday, there was no room at the inn – in spite of the fact that we had made confirmed reservations  at least a month ago!

We were met by the owner who explained that he still had 26 families that had been displaced when the Corps of Engineers opened the flood gates on the Mississippi last month.  He offered us a free stay the next time we come through, but I don’t think that’s going to ever happen.

We ended up in Slidell at the New Orleans East Kampground.  Campground with a “K” indicates that it was at one time a KOA park.  Very nice campground and 80 miles closer to our next stop.

Honey called our next stop yesterday to confirm our reservations.  She said the guy there thought she was nuts until she explained what happened yesterday.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Heading for Cajun Plantation Country


We are leaving this morning on a trip that will take us through 17 states before we return home.

Our first stop will be the historic Poché Plantation, located on the river road that runs by several beautiful plantations near Convent, Louisiana.  In addition to the RV park, Poché features sixteen acres of landscaped lawns surrounding a beautiful two-story plantation home that was built in the 1800’s. Each room in the house is furnished with some of the finest Victorian antiques from that era. It was one of the last plantation homes to be built on the  Mississippi River.

When I called for a one-night reservation, the gentleman on the other end of the line was slightly offended.  I could almost picture him drawing himself up to full height and peering down his nose as he said “Sir, we are a destination resort facility.  Our guests  always stay for at least a week.”

He was somewhat mollified when I told him that we hoped to spend more time with them in the future, but that Poché was just the first stop on a six week trip.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Back Country Etiquette


Last Wednesday,  Brian Matayoshi, 57, and his wife Marylyn were hiking a back country trail at Yellowstone National Park and encountered a  bear. Reports say that the first time they saw the bear she ran away, but when their paths crossed again, the bear, a female with cubs, according to National Park Service rangers, attacked.

Brian Matayoshi was bitten and clawed by the bear repeatedly. Then the bear latched its mouth onto Marylyn Matayoshi's backpack, hoisting the woman up and throwing her to to the ground. She lay still until the bear left.

By the time help arrived, Brian Matayoshi had died of his wounds. He was the first bear fatality in the park since 1986.

A ranger on the scene at the lake said he believed the bear to be a young grizzly, but Ranger Kerry Gunther, who saw video footage of the bear, said he is certain it was a black bear. That species is smaller and typically less aggressive than grizzlies, but is known to occasionally attack humans.

Despite the ample opportunity for humans to cross paths with bears, Gunther said there is usually only one bear-related injury at Yellowstone each year. In the park's 140-year history, he said, six people are known to have been killed in bear attacks.

Gunther differentiates between defensive and predatory attacks by bears. If a bear shows signs of hunting and eating humans, Gunther said rangers will attempt to track down and euthanize the animal. But rangers don't typically kill a bear - like the one that attacked the Matayoshis - for defensive behavior.

That decision to let the bear live has drawn both praise and criticism from the public. But, so far, Gunther said he is not aware of anyone canceling their stay at the park as a result of the mauling.

While bears are obviously dangerous, you are much more likely to be attacked by a ruminant, like a bison or a moose.  Bee stings cause the greatest number of deaths in the U.S. directly caused by animals - Allergic reaction to bee venom kills 53 people each year, and auto accidents caused by deer kill 130 people per year, while bear attacks kill about one person every two years in the USA.

And bears, bison and bees aren’t the only problem.  Olympic National Park in the state of Washington  is urging hikers not to urinate along back country trails to avoid attracting mountain goats who lick urine deposits for salt.

The advice is part of a plan to help hikers avoid aggressive goats like the one that gored a Port Angeles, Wash., man to death last October.

Back country campers are advised to urinate 200 feet away from trails to prevent the trails from turning into "long, linear salt licks."

Saturday, July 9, 2011

HR 2337


This month’s email newsletter from my Congressman, Ted Poe, mentioned that he has co-sponsored a bill known as the “Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act of 2011.”

Kate was murdered back in 2009 in the small West African country of Benin after reporting another teacher, a local Peace Corps employee, for sexually abusing students at their school.  The perpetrators are in custody, but have yet to come to trial.

For insight into the sort of person she was, click Here .

The bill is designed to  amend the Peace Corps Act to require sexual assault risk-reduction and response training, the development of sexual assault protocol and guidelines, the establishment of victims advocates, the establishment of a Sexual Assault Advisory Council, and for other purposes.  Here is a transcript of the proposed legislation HR 2337 

Friday, July 8, 2011

A Few Inches Do Matter

Drivers of motorhomes and those of us who pull 5th wheel trailers are (or should be) constantly aware of their height and whether they will clear overhanging limbs, tunnels, overpasses, etc. 

GPS navigation devices are notorious for sending unwitting travelers down roads where they are forced to turn around.

We considered ourselves very lucky a while back when we noticed a road sign in South Dakota – we spotted it  just in time to pull over and make a U turn at the last available spot on a narrow two-lane road.  Google maps had us pulling our 12 foot 3 inch tall trailer through two tunnels with 8 1/2 foot clearance.

There is a railroad trestle in Durham, North Carolina, that gets hit so often it has its own website Here .

The video I’ve included below is a compilation of several of the wrecks there:

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Preparation Snag

our rig

Getting everything ready for a long trip takes a lot of time and effort, even when everything goes right. I hit an unexpected snag yesterday that while not fatal, is certainly frustrating. 

In the two-plus years we have had our trailer, and in all the travelling we have done,  we have never put water in the fresh-water tank.  First, because we always stay at full hookup campgrounds, and second, because we didn’t want to haul the extra weight.  This time, we decided – actually, I decided; Honey didn’t think we needed to - to carry 20 gallons or so, just enough to flush the toilet and wash hands at potty stops.

I filled the tank yesterday, carefully adding the correct formula of Clorox solution to sanitize the system since this was a first-time fill.  When I turned on the fresh water pump, it came on but no water came out of the faucets. 

The pump is supposed to be self-priming, pumping all the air out of the lines until it gets water.  That should probably take no more than a minute or two, but ours is still pulling air after an hour!  It spits and bubbles, and an occasional dribble of water comes out, but it never gets primed.  I am pretty sure at this point that there is a cracked water line or a bad fitting that is causing the pump to suck more air than water.

I can hear the pump, so I know approximately where it is, but it is not where it can be accessed without some major  disassembly – removal of wall panels, etc.

I had decided to just drain the tank, and let the dealer fix it (should be under warranty) when we get home, but decided to check just one more thing this morning. 

In the area where the water hooks up, there are a couple sets of valve handles on the wall; those that control the black and gray water drain valves, and two marked “hot water bypass” and “winterize.”  We had never used either of these last two before.

When I turned the “winterize” valve to its other position, I heard the pump change pitch immediately!  Yep, it worked.  By the time I got in the trailer, I had water flowing freely from all faucets.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

At the Ball Game

Feel-good moment at a recent Yankees game when a one-armed veteran snags a foul ball.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

RV Travel Isn’t For Sissies


Our next long trip is just about a week away.  This time, we are headed to Michigan, and several other states in  the upper Midwest, adding  seven new states to our been-there, camped-there, done-that map. 

The trip was actually planned months ago, and we probably would have left around the end of May, except our traveling buddies - Cheryl and Travis Shelton - had commitments that would keep them here until next week.

During the interim, Mother Nature has been doing her best to make this trip interesting, to say the least.  For example:

  • Flooding along the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers and several tributaries have inundated parts of North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi and Louisiana – places that are all on our itinerary.
    minot flooding
  • Tornadoes in Missouri, Minnesota, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
  • 100 mph straight-line winds last week that destroyed a campground on the Minnesota-Wisconsin border.
    logcabin hollow cg

Now, the State of Minnesota has shut down due to a budget crisis, closing one of the state parks where we we have reservations.

Well, we’re not wimping out – We’re going anyway!

rv entering hiway

But…..If there’s an earthquake in Indiana, or a meteor hits Kentucky any time in the next couple days, I’m staying home.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Almost A Rant

I almost used today’s space to complain about how much I spent getting our 5th wheel ready for our next trip, about what the dealer screwed up while they were “fixing” things, and all the work  I had to do to actually repair what they had charged me to fix -  But I really don’t want to dwell on that. 

Suffice it to say that, as much as we enjoy it,  you should never let anyone tell you that dragging a trailer around is an inexpensive way to see the country.

So, since I really don’t want to talk about that, and I do want to post something, here’s a picture I like:

pelicanon gator


Saturday, July 2, 2011



A 130-year-old photo, billed as the only authenticated picture of legendary outlaw Billy the Kid, sold for $2.3 million at a Denver auction a week ago.

The Old West Show & Auction had estimated the tintype -- an early photographic technique that used metal plates -- to bring in between $300,000 and $400,000.

"When the bidding ended, the whole room erupted in clapping and people leapt to their feet," said Melissa McCracken, spokeswoman for the auction. "I've never experienced anything like this before,"

The winning bidder was billionaire William Koch.

The auction started with five bidders. Within two minutes, the bids shot up to a million dollars. "The bidding was absolutely crazy," McCracken said.

Billy the Kid reportedly paid 25 cents to have the photo taken in Fort Sumner, New Mexico.

The outlaw was born Henry McCarty but was also known as William H. Bonney and Henry Antrim. Popular history has him gunning down 21 men, but many historians say the actual number was probably closer to nine.

He later died at the hands of Sheriff Pat Garrett when he was only 21. 

In addition to shooting the Kid, Garrett was largely responsible for his fame; Garrett, along with a fellow named Ash Upton, was the author the  biography The Authentic Life of Billy the Kid.  A lot of the information in the book was inaccurate, but it was a tremendously popular book.

pat garrettGarrett may have been better looking, certainly dressed better and was more photogenic, but I doubt if his picture will ever sell for half as much. 


Friday, July 1, 2011

Humane vs. Human

There have been a couple of pretty weird stories in the news this week regarding our interactions with animals.

  In the first, the government of the Netherlands is considering a new law that would essentially outlaw Kosher and Halal butchering of animals. Shechita is the ritual slaughter of mammals and birds according to Jewish Kosher laws. Dhabiĥa is the method used to slaughter an animal within the Islamic Halal tradition. Both require that an animal be conscious when its throat is cut and this is taken to mean the modern practice of electrical, gas, or  percussive stunning before slaughter is forbidden.  The Dutch authorities have decided the practice is inhumane.

Read the Story here

Comments on this story from around the world are about equally split between accusations of raging anti-Semitism and those that claim that humane treatment of animals should always over-ride outmoded, barbaric traditions.

For those who feel that not stunning the animal prior to slaughter is inhumane, I suppose I understand their concern, but stunning doesn’t always work, and after just a few seconds the animal in question is just as dead one way or the other.

That brings up the whole subject of just what is humane when dealing with animals. 

Numerous ostensibly pro-animal organizations such as PETA and the SPCA campaign for neutering of all pets while Eugenics, the forcible neutering of less than perfect humans, is considered to be an abomination.  While some groups such as various pro-life organizations claim that Eugenics is still a common practice, their definition of the word is flawed, modified to suit their particular cause.

While I am not unaware of overflowing animal shelters where true animal lovers are forced by necessity to euthanize unclaimed animals, I try to put myself in the animal’s place – You would have a hard time convincing me that you were removing my testacles for the betterment of the planet.

That brings us to the other article I mentioned:

California in general, and San Francisco in particular has been the source of some pretty bizarre ideas over the years.  Currently the San Francisco City Council has come up with a truly Draconian solution to animal overcrowding.  They are considering an ordinance which would outlaw all  pets in the city, an idea so weird that even Los Angeles has noticed:

Story from the LA Times