A great day for a paddle

There is nothing quite like getting on a lake.

One thing we had been wanting to do for quite awhile is to get out on the water in our kayaks.  We had plans to do so in north central Florida, but we chose to push farther south to Naples instead.  We had an opportunity last weekend, but thunderheads rolled in before we could get out there.  Well, today was the day.  The temperature climbed to 80 degrees, and the rains were supposed to hold off until mid afternoon, which they did.  Time to get out there!  🙂

For today’s paddle, we chose School Lake, located within the boundaries of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

  
School lake is connected to the smaller Bass Lake by a channel that might allow a kayak to get through.  The reason we chose School Lake is that Bass Lake borders right on M-22, and carries some traffic noise.  Except for the boat launch, School Lake is all natural.

  
The launch is decent, even for small, trailered boats.  There were two aluminum boats on the lake while we were there.  The lake itself measures in at approxametely 2/3 of a mile across, and is somewhat round in shape.  The bottom appeared to be sandy, and the water was clear.

  
There is a fairly high ridge that runs south of the lake.  The wind was coming from that direction today, and we found the calmest water along that shore.

  
To the north, there is a large dune that is actually the back side of Pyramid Point, which we showed in an earlier post.  Today, we witnessed a Bald Eagle skimming that end of the lake.  We also saw (and heard) a loon.  Both of those sightings made our day.  🙂

  
Here is Ketchup and Mustard, ready to go!  We did not take any photos on the lake, as we have to still get a waterproof case for one of our phones.  If anyone has recommendations, we are all ears!

  
We asked a young couple who were mushroom hunting to take our photo.  They were kind enough to oblige.

One other thing to note about Sleeping Bear, are the ‘facilities’.

  
This beauty was at the boat launch.  It was extremely clean, had no odor, was handicap accessible, and had fully stocked hand sanitizer and toilet paper dispensers.  The interior is all one piece, no-seam Fiberglas, so they are easy to keep clean.  Very nice, indeed.  🙂

Changing subjects, here is a wildflower update:

  
Diana spotted these Jack-in-the-Pulpit up near the yurt at Wild Cherry.  They were huge!

  
She also spotted these marsh marigolds after we got off School Lake today.  They are popping up everywhere.

One of the places we visited a couple of weeks ago was Good Harbor Beach.  We decided to drive out and take a look today, as it is just up Bohemian Road from School Lake.  We got there, and we were the only ones there. 

  
Hmmmm…  80 degrees, partly cloudy… What is up?

  
Not a soul on the beach…except for the flies.  Tons of them!  Yikes! We know that the northern Great Lakes can be iffy for flies in late May and early June, so we will have to keep tabs on the conditions.  It may have been because there was rain coming in.  At least they weren’t biting, and they were confined to the beach itself.

All in all, it was another great day!  We were able to get the kayaks back in the water, and that was a great thing!

Do you have a favorite body of water you like to paddle?  We would love to hear about it!

The Nuts and Bolts of our Leelanau Adventure

With every destination that is reached in life, there is a spark or impetus that calls you to journey there.  With us, being on the Leelanau Penninsula for the summer can be traced back to the early 1970’s when Diana’s Aunt Ellen bought an old hay barn in the village of Fife Lake, about 20 miles southeast of Traverse City.  She turned that barn into a beautiful home, with an apartment upstairs for her sister Clara.  Upon seeing the area, Diana’s parents bought a cottage on the shore of Fife Lake a few years later.  Over the years, Dad renovated it to eventually make it their retirement home.  As a result, we have a long history in this region, having made countless trips up from downstate Michigan.  We made numerous day trips to Leelanau County, and ended up wanting to spend more time here.

Many people have asked us, “What is it that you will be doing at Wild Cherry Resort this summer?”  Well, how it works is like this:  We work two days a week, generally in a row, 9 to 5.

  
Diana works in the office, taking reservations, checking guests in, managing the office and alerting me to any guests that will be arriving that day.

  
I, in turn, make sure the campsites are cleaned and edged, and the firepits are cleaned out.

  
On the mornings I work, I drive the park, pick up the trash from each site and deliver the newspapers.

  
To start the season, I have been cleaning spillways of matted leaves and doing general cleanup. I’ll also be spraying weeds and driving the golf ball retriever on the driving range throughout the season, along with helping Rex mow the lawns.  So that somewhat sums up our duties.  In exchange for our work, we receive a free campsite for the season. Water, electric, sewer, and newspaper are included.

As you may remember, we had a dream laundromat that we used in Grand Rapids.  We knew that we were unlikely to find as nice a place as that again, but we at least wanted something clean.  There is a laundry in Suttons Bay that is decent, but it isn’t very large.  So on Monday, we set off for a place on the northern fringe of Traverse City.

  

The road to Traverse City, the infamous M-22, runs right along the western shore of the western arm of Grand Traverse Bay.  We stopped along the way at a roadside pull off to have a picnic. 🙂

  
Give me a bag of plain M&M’s and not only will I smile, but my jacket will also!

  
The laundromat was decent, but nowhere near as nice as what we were used to.  The view out the window made up for it.  🙂

I also wanted to pass along an update on the spring foliage.

 
We saw several Jack-in-the-Pulpit in the woods at the park.

  
The Trillium have also bloomed.  We saw these green and white ones, along with the all white varieties.

  
There are thousands of them in the woods in this area right now!

  
The sweet cherry trees are in bloom right now, and they smell amazing! 

 

And the sunsets have been outstanding.  This photo was taken from our campsite.

  
And turning to look behind me, the entire sky had lit up.  We feel so fortunate to be able witness this.

On Thursday night, we drove up to the tip of the Leelanau Penninsula, about 20 miles north of the RV park.

  
This view is looking back along the western edge of the penninsula.  The air temperature was about 80 degrees Farenheit, even at the water’s edge.

  
Grand Traverse Lighthouse has been protecting sailors from this point since the mid 1800’s.  They offer tours, for those interested.  Last time we took it, we thought it was very well done.

We also experienced an interesting phenomenon that occurs around a large body of water called a microclimate.  Within the 20 miles on the drive back home, the temperature fluctuated between 80 and 61 degrees Fahrenheit twice! Luckily, it finished up at 80.  🙂

On Friday, we took a day trip back to Grand Rapids to check on Diana’s mom.  While Diana was tending to her mother’s needs, I ran errands in town. We headed back north by mid-afternoon.  On the way back, we decided to stop at Fife Lake to see what was happening, as it had been awhile since we were there.  We stopped at the cottage first, which had changed hands twice since Diana’s parents sold it in 2007.  It had recently undergone a major renovation, so Diana wanted to knock on the door to meet the new owners and possibly see the renovations.  They were coming out of the home as we were getting out of our car and they invited us inside, once we explained who we were.  They had done an outstanding job on the place, and were very interested to hear about why certain things were the way they were when they first bought it.  They even retained many of the features that Diana’s dad had incorporated into the home, which brought tears to our eyes.  We were glad we stopped.  🙂

Next, we went by Aunt Ellen’s old property.  Being located on a busy intersection, it was recently purchased and the barn was torn down to make room for a Family Dollar store.  The garage was still standing, as it was further off the intersection than the barn was.  To set the scene, Aunt Clara was a flower gardener extraordinaire, and she had planted every flower imaginable around the property.  Of course, when a developer comes in, they practice a ‘scorched earth’ policy, so we weren’t expecting to see anything.  But, to our surprise, there along the garage…..

  
…Aunt Clara’s Lily of the Valley was popping up, a reminder of hers’ and Ellen’s will and determination.  We miss them both, along with Diana’s dad and Aunt Bernie…four hard working and strong siblings who were great examples to us of how to live our lives.  It is a great history to have as a family, and one I am proud to be a part of.  🙂
 

Wildflowers and the dunes

A wildflower in the spring is an announcement of the approaching summer…

Saturday evening, I took Diana for a ride through Wild Cherry Resort on the golf cart, as she had not seen the outer reaches of the property.  Towards the back of the golf driving range, we discovered a sea of wildflowers blooming.

  
We saw this trillium, one of the first to open.  There are hundreds more that are ready to go.

 
The Dutchman’s Breeches were everywhere.  Notice how they look like they are hanging on a clothes line.

  
While the trees have yet to show their leaves, the weather is outstanding!

  
From the back of the range, you can literally see for miles.  This vista is looking to the south.

  
The setting sun in the leafless trees is a mid-spring treat in Northern Michigan!

Afterwards, we drove down into the lower woods and checked out the tent sites and the yurt.  Along the way, we spied more flowers.

   

I am fairly certain that this is Bloodroot that has not fully opened.

We headed back up to the office to drop off the cart.  We have to be careful pulling into the cart storage, as a robin has found a nice place to build her nest.

  
Good thing the resort owns more than one ladder!  Momma robin has 4 eggs in there.

On Sunday, Diana and I took a drive down the Lake Michigan shore to the town of Empire.  That is where the visitor’s center is for Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.  We were in need of our annual All-Access Pass, which gets the two of us into any national park for the next year.  At $80, we feel it is an amazing bargain.  After securing our pass, we headed back up the shore to our destination for the day: Pyramid Point.  This particular dune forms the western arm of Good Harbor Bay.

  
The 1 mile crushed gravel trail starts out fairly level through a grassy plain.

  
Further into the woods, the trail steepens.  This photo is deceiving, as the temperature was 79 degrees!

  
Diana spotted Yellow Trout Lily blooming along the trail.

  
Once at the top, this sign gave ample warning as to what lay ahead….

  
Per my iPhone compass, we were 420 feet above the surface of the lake.

  
Diana found some firm footing for a photo….

  
….as did I.  🙂

  
While we were there, the Philip R. Clarke steamed by.  This ship is a sister and fleetmate to the Arthur M. Anderson, which was the ship that was following the Edmund Fitzgerald when it sank in Lake Superior.  Both ships are 767 feet long and can haul 25,300 pounds of cargo.  We are able to follow ship passages on the Great Lakes Seaway and Shipping website, making vessel identification a breeze.

This area also is home to many shipwrecks, and there are several lighthouses that aid in navigating the waters.

  
Here is the Manitou Passage Crib Lighthouse….

  
…and the South Manitou Lighthouse further in the distance.  We hope to further explore this sentinal later this summer.

After leaving Pyramid Point, we headed east along the shore to the beach at the end of Bohemian Road on Good Harbor Bay.

  
This is a wide, sweeping bay that faces due north.  

  
Even with the prevailing southwest winds clocking in at 30 miles an hour on Sunday, the water at the shore was dead calm….hence the name “Good Harbor”. The rocks extend a few feet and then the bottom is sandy.

  
As you can see in this distance shot, the water was a bit choppier farther out.

  
From this point, we were able to see northward along the western shore of the Leelanau Penninsula.  The town of Leland is up along there somewhere.  That is where we saw the sunset from the other night in our previous post.

For the first few days of May in this area, the weather has been marvelous. As the wildflowers have announced, Spring has definitely arrived in Leelanau County!

North to Leelanau and a slice of paradise

Oh, my…..it is so much more beautiful that we remembered….

It had been nearly two years since we had found ourselves in Leelanau County, Michigan. On Thursday, we packed up the rig in Byron Center and prepared to head north.
 
A very big thank you to Richard at Woodchip Campground in Byron Center, Michigan for providing such a wonderful resource to the community by keeping the park open through the winter.  We had instances where the temperature dipped to 16 below zero, and we were never without power, water or sewer.  We encourage anyone needing a campground in the Grand Rapids area to contact Woodchip.

We made the three hour trip to Lake Leelanau in the afternoon, arriving at Wild Cherry Resort around 4 PM.

  
Take a look at our site!  We are parked at Latitude 45 degrees, 0′ 28″ north…less than 1/2 mile north of the 45th parallel.  For all intents and purposes, we are halfway between the North Pole and the Equator. 😃

  
And Diana is extremely pleased with her new commute!  Once we were set up, we had a very nice chat with our work camping colleagues, JoAnn and Paul.  We are really looking forward to working with them!

Following our chat, Diana and I headed a few miles west to the town of Leland to catch the sunset.

  
We arrived in plenty of time to watch the sun set over North Manitou Island, several miles out in Lake Michigan.  South Manitou is to the left.

  
Once the sun actually set, we were treated to a spectacular light show in the clouds!

On Friday, Diana worked with JoAnn, beginning the learning process of how to run the office.  I worked with Paul out in the park, setting up the lion’s share of the picnic tables.  Paul also gave me a tour of the resort, which is far larger than I thought.

After we finished up for the day, we were all invited to happy hour by Rex and Nellie.  They were full time RVers for 18 years, before coming off the road.  They have been summering here every season since the park opened, better than 10 years ago.  Rex mows the lawns in the park.  He is a D-Day veteran, and it is an honor to be in his presence.
  
Also present were Rex and Nellie’s son Bruce,  Jim and Sandy, owners of the park, and Camilla, who will be helping some in the office.  She just started a new job as the executive assistant for the Leelanau Peninnsula Vintners Association.

  
Everyone had a great time.  It was a very nice way to start the summer.

We look forward to posting more of our Northern Michigan adventures, as we plan on doing a lot of exploring throughout the summer. Stay tuned as we show this little slice of paradise!
 

Summer plans revealed and a work camping opportunity

Leelanau County, located north of Traverse City, Michigan has always been one of our favorite destinations.  It is home to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, many quaint little towns, a few dozen wineries, and miles of Lake Michigan shoreline. The Leelanau Peninsula is a place that has called out to us.

 

 

No matter the season, we have spent a lot of time enjoying this amazing piece of real estate.  In 2011, ABC’s Good Morning America voted Sleeping Bear Dunes the most beautiful place in America.

 

 

While it is difficult to compare the varied landscapes in America, we do feel the area ranks right up there with the best of them.

 

 

In recent years, the area wine industry has become a major player in Michigan’s economy.  Along wih it, the foodies have descended upon the area. Mario Batali spends his summers here.  The food and wine are delightful!

So, you ask…what does that have to do with our summer?  Well, we are going to be work camping at one of our favorite resorts!

  
Wild Cherry Resort is located between Sutton’s Bay and Lake Leelanau.  Besides us, there is one other couple and room for a third (due to a recent cancellation). This will be our first work camping job, so while we know the park well from staying there, we haven’t seen it as workers.  We have spoken with the staff in the past, and all of them have enjoyed the experience.

If you are interested in spending the summer work camping in an amazing part of the world, contact Jim at Wild Cherry through their website wildcherryresort.com.

  
Hopefully, we will get to enjoy the summer together!

Central California – Throwback Thursday

“The mountains are calling, and I must go.”

John Muir

Yosemite National Park has always been high on our list of places to visit, but seemed out of reach for an RV trip in our working days.  In early 2005, we happened upon round trip tickets to Sacremento from Chicago Midway on Southwest Airlines for $99 each, so we made plans to head west and check it out without the RV. After touring the California state capitol, we headed to Yosemite.  Our base while we were in the area was the unique Penon Blanco Lookout bed and breakfast in Coulterville.  One of the great features of Penon Blanco was the stocked refrigerator in our room.  Each day, we would head out with our cooler packed with their drinks, and they would refill the fridge each day…no additional charge.  They would even replace the beer and wine!  (That policy appears to have changed since then, per their website). We stopped at the local deli each day to stock up on food, which allowed us to picnic outdoors.  As a result, we felt like we were still on an RV vacation!

When we arrived in Yosemite Valley, we were awestruck.

  

Yosemite was everything we had hoped it would be.  The vistas were simply amazing.  As a bonus, we were fortunate to be able to experience the valley with the waterfalls flowing heavier than they normally would be in the summer months.  This was due to the heavy snowpack in the Sierras from the previous winter. What a difference between then and the drought conditions that exist now!

  

Here is El Capitan standing proud against a gorgeous blue sky.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with Yosemite, El Capitan is the largest granite monolith in the world.

  

From the lookout at Washburn Point, visitors really get a sense of the magnitude of the valley.  Here is a profile photo of Half Dome as viewed from the west.

  

Looking north from the northern edge of Glacier Point, Yosemite Falls can be seen across the valley.

  

Looking back east, the valley appears in all of it’s grandeur.  It is easy to see why Ansel Adams loved to use Yosemite as a subject of his photographs.

  

Yosemite is also home to a stand of Giant Sequoia trees.  Some of the trees in the Mariposa Grove are 3000 years old.  Looking up at one of these beauties really puts things in perspective, in terms of a human’s lifespan.

While we were there, we decided to spend one day exploring the eastern side of the Sierras.

  

On our way across on Tioga Road, we saw this view of Half Dome from it’s eastern side.  Most Yosemite visitors don’t get to see this side of the landmark.

  

Heading across Tioga Pass, we encountered leftover snow from the previous winter.  It is always fun to see the white stuff in mid summer!

  

Our destination for the day was the old mining town of Bodie, California.  Now a state park, Bodie is well preserved by the dry conditions that exist on the east side of the Sierras.  We definitely want to spend more time in this town!  On our way back, we encountered a young couple who were hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.  They had gotten off the trail to get supplies, and we’re trying to get back to camp before sundown.  We had rented a Ford Expedition and had plenty of room, so they got a ride from us back to camp.  They were fairly ‘ripe’ from hiking, but it was fun to talk with them about their experience. We don’t usually pick up hitchhikers, but it seemed pretty obvious to us that they were thru-hikers.

Once we left Yosemite, we headed to San Francisco for a few days.  Our base in the City By The Bay was the Marriott Fisherman’s Wharf.

  

Here is Lombard Street, which is billed as the ‘crookedest street in the world’.  It was fun to walk down the sidewalk, and was even more fun to drive!

  

Getting a chance to ride one of the famous cable cars was a special treat for us Midwestern kids.  🙂

While we were there, we ventured up Columbus Avenue to a restaurant called Mama’s.  Our breakfast that morning became the benchmark to which all others are measured for us.  Simply outstanding.

  

Across the street from Mama’s is Washington Square Park.  Each morning, the local residents begin their day with Tai Chi.  It was fascinating to watch.

Once we left San Francisco, we headed north along the coast.  The coastal fog was very thick that day, so we asked a local if there was any chance at seeing the sun.  We were told to drive north to Tomales and if the fog hadn’t lifted by then, head east to Sonoma Valley and skip the coast.  That is what ended up happening.

Sonoma was enchanting, and we thoroughly enjoyed our time there.  We toured many of the shops in the area and visited a couple of wineries.

  

We took a tour of the Benziger Family Winery, which was very interesting.  Here is a photo of their cellar.

  

It was here that we learned how a winery uses the topography of it’s property to produce various types of grapes.  It all has to do with the amount of sun a vine receives each day as to what variety is grown on a specific parcel.

After we finished up at Sonoma, we headed to Napa Valley to tour more wineries.  Once we got there, we realized that Napa was geared more towards production and was not as quaint.  Next time through, we plan on focusing more of our time in Sonoma.

So thanks to some great airfare, we made a trip that might have otherwise been delayed until our retirement.  John Muir’s words struck a chord with us, and we are glad we followed in his footsteps.

Frankenmuth

On our way back from Florida, we received word that our friend Mike’s father had passed away on Easter night.  So, we spent one night in Byron Center before heading to the east side of the state.  Mike and his wife Cindy both grew up in Essexville, at the base of Michigan’s thumb.  Mike’s dad was a hard working farmer and was well loved, as was evident by the packed funeral home the night of the viewing.  His red Farmall tractor was parked out front with a beautiful bouquet of flowers in the seat.  What a great send off.

Our go-to campground in that area is the Jellystone Park in Frankenmuth, which is about 1/2 hour south of Essexville.   At first glance, this park appears to be high priced, somewhat tight and geared towards kids…all of which is true.  But, there is so much more to this story, especially for us.

  

Yogi has taken care of us over the years.  When Diana’s dad was suffering with terminal cancer in Flushing (just to the south), we parked our travel trailer here and Diana used it as a retreat to come back to and regroup.  The staff was as good as gold to her.  They also have one of the best indoor pools you will ever find at a campground.

 

It comes complete with an excellent climate controlled environment, huge whirlpool, and an evening adults only hour.  Nice.

Frankenmuth is known as Michigan’s Little Bavaria.  Settled in the mid 1800’s by Immigrants from what was Germany’s Franconia region, Frankenmuth has become one of Michigan’s prime tourist destinations.

 

  

Most folks come for the family style chicken dinners at either the Bavarian Inn…

  

 

…or at Zehnder’s.  Both are great, but our favorite is Zehnder’s.  We both have a lifetime of experiences in this restaurant, from our early childhoods until now.  :). There also is a brewery/restaurant in town, along with other popular food destinations.

If shopping is your thing, Frankenmuth has an array of quaint stores with plenty of offerings.  Perhaps the grandest shopping experience in Frankenmuth is Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland. (Wally Bronner wanted to make sure people remembered the holiday was Christ’s birthday, hence the case-sensitive spelling.)

  

Bronner’s bills itself as the world’s largest Christmas store.  It is open 361 days a year and is loaded with every kind of ornament imaginable.  They also have outdoor displays that are lit year-round.

  

And even though the focus is Christ, Santa Claus is also well represented. But perhaps one of the most compelling features of Bronner’s is the Silent Night Chapel.

  

The chapel is a 1:1 replica of the chapel in Oberndorf, Austria.  The hymn ‘Silent Night’ was first played on Christmas Eve in St. Nicholas church in 1818.  After the church was razed, the chapel was built on the altar site.  Wally Bronner travelled to Austria in the 1980’s and obtained permission to construct a replica in Frankenmuth.

  

Surrounding the chapel are these signs displaying the lyrics in over 300 languages. The speakers in the surrounding landscaping continually play different versions of the hymn. Pretty nice tribute for a simple but powerful tune.

So if you are ever driving up I-75 in lower Michigan, be sure to check out Frankenmuth.  It is definitely different than what you would expect from the area.  The people of Frankenmuth should be no suprise though, as they are as hard working as most of the rest of area’s residents…people like Mike’s dad.  You will feel very welcomed here.

Musings from our trip back to Michigan

While our trip back to the Mitten State was largely uneventful, there are always things that catch your interest and are worthy of a mention.  Here are a few of our observations.

 

We originally saw this Uhaul and trailer in Gainesville on I-75.  He was doing about 60 MPH, and the rear tire on the other side of the trailer was shredded and sparks were flying everywhere.  We slowly passed him. Diana informed him he had a flat, and he waved that he knew.  35 miles later, he pulled into the rest area behind us.  We are not quite sure how that was even possible!

 

We saw this rig in Alabama.  That is a Ford F-350 single rear wheel truck, just like ours.  We are just under the truck’s limit wth our fully loaded 31 foot trailer.  I have to believe this Ford is overloaded.  Situations like the above two scare us, as they are jeapordizing other people’s safety.

  

We saw this rig in Nashville near the Grand Ole Opry.  It makes us wonder just what country music star it belongs to. 🙂

  

Another GMC motorhome!  We saw it in almost the same location as the last one.  Great to see them, as I said before.

 

We always love to see newly built highways.  So new, in fact, the Garmin thinks we are driving across a field.  Time to update.  Recalculating!

 

 

When hanging out in Florida near the Everglades, do as your wife does and wear bug spray.  Here is one of my chigger-ravaged ankles.  I drove all the way back to Michigan in sandals, as socks drove me nuts.  🙂

A couple of other notes we want to pass along:  We updated our Harvest Hosts post to include Diana’s candlelit video of the sounds of the ranch.  So, if you saw the post before the video was posted, it is worth it to go back and check it out.  Also, we added some photos this morning that our niece took to the Al Kaline Delivered post.  She took some great family pics that show what a great time we had.  🙂

So, as uneventful as the trip was, there was plenty of interesting things to take in.  We love being able to travel, and are thankful for this nomadic life of ours.  We hope you enjoy riding along with us!

Harvest Hosts

Friday morning, we left Naples, Florida with the intention of driving to the state’s panhandle and staying at a Yogi Bear park in Madison. Along the way, we encountered heavy traffic, as the snowbirds moved north.  Spring breakers were headed south, resulting in miles of vehicles sitting still on I-75.

  

  A lot of those people on the other side had just driven straight through from Michigan.  That is not our idea of fun.

Along the way, Diana looked on the Harvest Hosts website to see if there were any farms or wineries in the area.  For those of you not familiar with this, Harvest Hosts is a U.S./Canada-wide network of wineries and farms who allow people to spend the night on their property in their RV’s.  In exchange, it is customary to support their business by purchasing their goods.  I selected our one year membership (normally $44) as a door prize at the RV-Dreams 2014 Fall Rally, and Diana selected our GoVino wine glasses for her prize, which brought about a few good laughs!  Anyway, Diana found Golden Acres Ranch, just about 1/2 hour past Madison in Monticello, Florida.  She called to see if they had room, and they did!  We pulled in just before dark and got set up for the night.

  

  

There was a big ol’ full moon rising above the live oak trees. The ranch was absolutely beautiful, and the sounds of the animals was a welcome change from the highway noise.  We were a good 10 miles off of I-10, so we didn’t hear any traffic.  What we did hear was guinea fowl, bullfrogs and Great Pyranees barking in the distance.  What a welcome change.  Before turning in, we purchased some farm fresh eggs, homemade Mayhaw jelly, a bar of locally made lavender soap, and a jar of Tupelo honey.  Even with all of the interesting sounds from the livestock and the frogs, we slept extremely well. 

Click here to listen to the sounds on Diana’s short YouTube video.  Enjoy the candles on our table.  🙂

In the morning, we ate some of the eggs we purchased, then we toured the ranch with Bobbie Golden.  She and her husband Fred started the ranch as an encore career, and have quite a lot on their plate!

 

Here is a photo of Bobbie with one of her Tennessee Fainting goats.  These goats stiffen when startled, which makes them appear to faint.  They make great pets!  This beauty has blue eyes.

  

They are adorable!

 

 

Here is Diana holding one of the baby goats.  That made her day!

 

 

They also have sheep on the ranch. We learned that sheep tails go down and goat tails stick up.

  

There were several guinea chickens running about, and they could really move!  Bobbie and Fred also have several Great Pyranees dogs to guard the livestock.

 

They are beautiful dogs, and remind us of our male Golden Retriever, Dakota, who passed in 2004.

 

These three were born last fall. And they loved Diana.  🙂 

 

 

What a great place to park for the night!  Be sure to check out their website to understand the uniqueness of the Mayhaw trees and pond, and to learn about the upcoming Mayhaw festival being held at the ranch in May.

Part of the Harvest Host experience is boondocking.  For those of you not familiar with this concept, boondocking is when you park without hookups…no water, sewer or electric.  Some RVers have generators to produce electricity and some have solar panels on their roofs.  RV’s have large fresh water holding tanks and sewer tanks. Depending on your set-up and how miserly you are dictates how long you can boondock.  We don’t have solar or a generator, so we are limited to how long we can stretch our house battery.  Many of our lights are 12 volt, along with two exhaust fans, and our water pump.  Our stove runs on propane, as does our water heater, furnace and refrigerator.  We lit candles in the evening and used battery powered lanterns, so our battery was still full when we left. Just in case, we unplugged the truck from the trailer, so as to not run down the truck batteries.

Once we left the ranch, we decided to take a different route, in order to avoid the interstate traffic.  We took a route that Diana’s dad used to rave about, and one we never had a chance to try.  We drove north from Monticello on US-19 to US-84 and west to US-231.  On 19 and 84, this is what the road looked like:

  

 

Wow.  Barely a car in sight, and four lane divided highway the entire way….all posted at 65 mph outside of the few towns we encountered.

We ended up for the night at one of our favorite stopover campgrounds on the Michigan/Florida route:  Deer Run RV Park just north of Troy, Alabama.

  

It is a beautiful setting, and the campsites are spacious.

  

 

We ended up with a very nice pull through site that allowed us to stay hooked up to the truck.

So, what started out being a hectic drive up I-75 ended up being one of the most relaxing experiences we have ever had.  Many thanks to Bobbie and Fred Golden, two of the most delightful people we have ever met.  And thanks to Don and Kim Greene of Harvest Hosts for donating the membership to RV-Dreams!  We will definitely be renewing it! 

Last full day in Naples

Today was our last day before heading back north.  While we would love to stay longer, we are so glad we made the effort to push this far south.  We love this area.

I didn’t post yesterday, because it was an errand day.  We upgraded our phones at Verizon, went to Whole Foods and Publix, came home and made barbeque chicken and mashed taters and veggies.  Mmmmm……

  

Here is my first picture with my iPhone 6.  🙂

Today was another beach day.  We went to Delnor-Wiggins State Park.

 

Nice beach with plenty of parking and restrooms.

 

 

Even the dolphins were having fun!

 

 

We had our beach setup going, and we did not get burned. It is just not worth it to us to do that.  I have to tell you, that beach cart earned it’s place in our trunk, for sure.

After the beach, we headed over to Pincher’s in Tin City.  The latter was built as an area of commerce in the 1920’s along the waterfront.  Today, it is an assortment of eclectic shops and restaurants.  Pincher’s is a local seafood place with a lively atmosphere.  We both had grouper.  My gluten-free version came broiled with cole slaw and apple sauce, and Diana’s was a traditional deep fried sandwich with a mountain of fries.  We laughed how no one could possibly eat all those fries…except possibly me in my old gluten days.  🙂

After dinner, we had a chance to walk the park at Club Naples RV Resort tonight and get some photos.

 

 

Here is an example of how the rigs back up to each other.

 

 

This is an empty lot that someone recently pulled out from.  The rig goes on the sand next to the patio.

 

 

And here is one where the entire lot is paved.

So while the park is close quarters, it is very, very nice.  Everybody loves it here, which is a great sign.  Their community areas are first rate and well maintained.  The staff is extremely friendly. I am sure we will be back someday.

Tomorrow, we start back north.  We will be taking our time on the way back, as the trip down was a bit of a push. We will do our best to post on our travels!

No More Sticks and Bricks

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