Tag Archives: RV-Dreams

A Memorable Month at Heceta Head

June 29th brought an end to our time on the Oregon coast and Heceta Head Lighthouse.  Never in our wildest dreams did we expect our time there to be as great as it was!  To give our personal history of this lighthouse, we have to go back to 1996. We were camped in Florence at the time, and Diana saw a flyer on a bulliten board in a grocery store for a special night tour of the beacon being offered by a graduate student that same night.  We took the tour, walking up the 1/2 mile path with flashlights in the fog to the building.  We all climbed the tower and when we came back down, the fog had lifted.  We could see the beams pinwheel 21 miles out to the horizon.  Having worked so hard for the previous 4 years to get Old Mackinac Point in Michigan reopened (which was still a long 8 years in the future), the sight of a working first order lens moved me to tears.  Yes, this job this summer meant a lot to us.

Right off the bat after our arrival on May 24, things clicked.  As I was setting up camp, a fellow host named Rick stopped by with his dog.  I caught that his name was Rick and that he was from Wisconsin…and that his dog’s name was Maxine.  I was a tad preoccupied, so it never clicked with me that I had seen his face before.  He thought he recognized me also, but didn’t mention it at the time.  As I tell this, keep in mind that none of us had cell or data signals at the campground.  Our mutual friend Tracy figured it out from her campground in northern Oregon and sent us both texts, but neither of us got them until we were in town the next day!  It turns out that Rick had attended the spring 2014 RV-Dreams rally and we had attended the fall rally later that year.  I had put in a friend request to him on Facebook a month before, as I had seen that we had 11 friends in common.  My first thought upon seeing that was ‘I need to get to know this guy’.  Well, as luck would have it, we now know him very well and are proud to call him a very good friend!

One of the benefits of Rick and us coming in before Memorial Day is that we got to meet the previous month’s hosts.

As you can see, we all hit it off right away.  😊. Thanks to Cary and Rick for this photo!  Five of the people in this image, including us, stayed on through June.  Not all of us were interpretive hosts at the lighthouse; some were campground hosts at Carl Washburne State Park.  Michael (in the blue hat) volunteered for U.S. Fish and Wildlife, using a scope and binoculars at the lighthouse to show visitors the various wildlife along the shore.

Along came June…and with it came several new folks.  Rick, Cary and Michael stayed on, and we added John & Linda as camp hosts, along with Neil, Beverly, and Lisa as lighthouse hosts.  A special shout out to the wonderful rangers at Washburne…especially Ben and Deb, as we worked closest with them. We really had fun with this crew!

We also were visited by our friends Jodee and Bill, who were camped in Florence for a few weeks.

Man, it was good to see them again! Here we are at dinner in Florence with (right to left) Rick, Jodee, Bill and (under the table) Tessa.  We had a couple of meals with them, including a fabulous lunch at a place Jodee suggested, Maple Street Grille in Florence. They also came up to Heceta and took one of my lighthouse tours.  Jodee, Bill and Fluffy Dog are simply wonderful to be with.  😀

We also spent a few days with our friends Tracy and Lee when they came to visit!

Here we are on a visit to the beach at Washburne.

And here is Tracy signing Rick’s copy of her new book, RV Living Cookbook.  We had bought the Kindle version, so we couldn’t get ours signed!

The last evening they were here, we all made the trek up to the lighthouse at night.  It is darn near impossible to photograph the beams of light coming from the sentinel, but it was pure magic to see Heceta’s lens doing its job again.  It took me right back to 1996.  Lee commented that it was one of the coolest thing he had seen since going on the road!  We had such a marvelous time with Tracy and Lee, and we plan on seeing them again this summer!

Beyond our friends and coworkers, we also became familiar with the towns of Yachats and Florence.  Not having phone or Internet at Washburne, we ended up using the libraries in both places….especially Florence.  We purchased a three month pass to their branch of the Siuslaw Library System for $15, which includes access to their online books.  We also were frequent visitors to the local Fred Meyer, to a point that we knew where most things were in the store.  We really enjoy this part of our lifestyle, as we get to experience how others live, whether good or bad.  We would rate life on the Oregon coast as very good, although the dampness and cloudiness would wear on us over a longer period.  Still, we thoroughly enjoyed our time there and we are glad we did it!

On our last day of work, we had one of the visitor’s snap this photo of Lisa, Rick and us.  We sure are going to miss working with them! With June in the books, we have now moved east across the Cascade Mountains to Prineville Reservoir State Park near Prineville, Oregon. As far as climate goes, we’ve done a 180 degree turn.  Temperatures have been near or just over 100 degrees, and it is sunny and dry!  We are working here as interpretive hosts, helping the interpretive ranger with her duties. This includes assisting with the Junior Ranger Program and the observatory.  The park is home to some of Oregon’s darkest skies, and we have a 16″ and 6″ set of telescopes at our disposal.  Talk about exploring vistas!   We will be here through Labor Day, so that puts us here through the total eclipse.  Be sure to stay tuned for more on that…it should be fun!  🌙

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A link to our favorite litter stick from the lighthouse, plus other amazing things on Amazon!
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Reflections in the Rear View Mirror

If there is one constant in a fulltime RVer’s life, it has to be the D on the transmission indicator on our dashboards as we head out in the morning. The only time we put it in R to back up seems to be when we are parking our rigs at the end of the day. A scene from the movie Gumball Rally pops into my head where an Italian race car driver named Franco looks at the guy in the passenger seat and says “First rule of Italian driving…” as he reaches up and snaps off the rear view mirror and tosses it out of the car “…what’s behind you isn’t important”.  

And while Diana and I like to examine the history of the locations we visit, there is still that forward movement of wondering what’s over the next hill or around the next bend. Shift to D, turn on the radio and step on the gas. It’s right about that time when life taps you on the shoulder and reminds you that Franco’s statement couldn’t be further from the truth.

Part of our preparations to leave Florida and head west have been to take care of authenticating our mortality, so to speak.  In other words, preparing wills and similar paperwork.  Our home base is the Sunshine State, so this is the place to take care of that business.  Traipsing our caravan across the country in two separate vehicles places a greater need for such documentation, especially when one of us has 14,000 pounds following in close proximity.  Snapping that rear view mirror off would be ill-advised!  So we plowed through the perpetual paperwork (pardon the pun), moving forward with our feet on the gas…just wanting to get it completed.  On St. Patrick’s Day, we had a noon appointment to sign our wills and have them witnessed and notarized, so we went about our morning routine in preparation for the meeting.  That’s when I sat down in my recliner and checked my phone.  There was a text from my former coworker Barb that read, quite simply “Hey. Just wanted to make sure you heard about Richie.”  Well, considering Richie was one of the two people I kept in somewhat regular touch with from work (Kenny being the other) and it wasn’t him telling me what happened to himself, I knew this wasn’t going to be good. So I casually replied “No, what’s up?”, hoping to hear he won the lottery or something.  It was not to be.  A flurry of texts came in from Jeff, Stephen and Barb to tell me he had passed. From what has been told to me since, he had kissed his beloved wife Connie goodnight, took a few steps towards the bedroom and collapsed from a massive heart attack.  62 years old, planning on retiring and looking forward to having more time for golf.  Now don’t get me wrong…Dickey-boy had a lot of fun in his life.  In addition to golf, he loved NFL football and his Detroit Lions, along with classic rock music.  He knew several people in the music industry, played a little guitar, and was close friends with the members of Foghat.

Our VP, Joel, took this tongue-in-cheek photo of us, poking a little fun of the long-standing brothership we shared.  I proudly own that, as we worked side by side for 30 years and had each other’s backs.  He thought the world of Diana, and we indeed are both going to miss him.  The irony of finding out as we were about to sign our wills wasn’t lost on us, nor was the fact that the beach bar we toasted him at was playing classic rock instead of the usual trop-rock.

It dawned on me later that one of the songs playing was The Beatles’ While My Guitar Gently Weeps.  Nice song selection, Richie…looks like you just picked up a DJ gig upstairs. 😉

Suddenly, I noticed I had eased off the gas and had slipped the shifter to N.   Instead of thinking about our upcoming trip, I found myself pondering the past.  We were fortunate enough to meet up for dinner with Bob and Pat from Michigan Traveler, and Bonnie and Fred from HappiLEE RVing this last weekend.  Bob and I both grew up in Allen Park, Michigan, and we spent a week together at Wild Cherry, so we have a lot of past in common.  Fred and Bonnie and us met at the RV-Dreams Rally and we’ve seen each a couple times other since, so we have a fair amount of history. Bob and Fred are both retired military, and the couples spend a fair amount of time at the US military FamCamps, so we thought it would be fun for them to meet.

It was good to pause and reflect a bit and catch up on everybody’s lives.  🙂

Just after that, we had some business we needed to take care of up in Green Cove Springs.  We saw that Linda and Steven, our friends we met at Amazon, were very close by.  We contacted them, and they invited us to join in on a lunch date in Jacksonville they had with Howard and Linda, founders of RV-Dreams.  It was those two who’s seminars at a Grand Rapids RV show in January of 2014 provided the final nudge to get us on the road.  With no firm plans to leave our jobs at that point, their presentations caused us to go home and crunch some numbers.  By March 21 of that year, I was retired, and Diana was done at work by July 1.

Our lunch turned into a wonderful two hour conversation on what this journey we are on means to all of us.  Not only was the future discussed, but the past was reflected upon.  I detected a few misty eyes on a couple of heartfelt points that were made.  We were so engrossed in what everyone was saying, we didn’t notice that the servers had turned up all the chairs at the surrounding tables and the restaurant had closed over a half hour earlier.  Yeah, it was that good.  What finally caught our attention was the silence during a pause in the dialogue. The music had stopped playing.  Oops…time to head down the road!

We spent the night in St Augustine and toured there with Steven and Linda the next day.  

They had not been there before, and they wanted to see Castillo de San Marcos, among other things.  

It was fun to experience St Augustine with them and look forward to all the plans we have for the future!

I called Kenny last night.  We reminisced and had some laughs, along with sharing what we are currently doing in our lives.  It was really good to hear his voice again. So while everyone I’ve interacted with over the past week are ready to shift into D to see what’s around the next bend in their lives, life itself provided us with a bit of a lesson that we ought not forget the images in the rear view mirror. 

Even though there is sadness mixed into the joy in our memories, we need to listen to the music of our youth and laugh at the silly pictures in our minds. As George Harrison sang “I look at the world and I notice it’s turning. Still my guitar gently weeps…”

Rock on, Richie…Rock on.

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Is it January?

One thing about being Midwest natives spending the winter in Florida is that the weather messes with our minds.  Seeing Valentine’s Day candy in the store still strikes us as odd when it feels like summer.  Shouldn’t we be seeing Back to School sales?  Nope…and before you know it, there will be Cadbury Creme Eggs on the shelves at Publix!

And seeing I love Cadbury Creme Eggs, that’s a good problem to have!  😉

Since our last post we’ve had a change of thought on our trailer brake maintenance.  After pulling one of the hubs on the trailer for inspection, I saw that the electromagnet was wearing unevenly.  Likewise, the inside of the hub that it was riding against was also worn in a similar pattern.  Checking the prices on new hubs and brake parts led me to find that none of those items were very expensive.  As a matter of fact, entire axles were relatively cheap.  When we were weighed at the RV-Dreams rally, we were just under our maximum allowed weight for the fifth wheel.  If we replaced just the brake parts and hubs, we would still have 5200 pound axles under the rig.  After a little more research, we found we could upgrade both axle and spring assemblies to 7000 pounds Dexter axles for not much more money.  We have a local axle shop here in Melbourne taking care of that for us. We also will be upgrading to heavier duty 16″ wheels and G-rated tires.  That will all take place in Mid-February.

Our friends Rod and Mary had us over to their house for shrimp and rice stir fry one evening.  We had a nice evening by their pool with wine, food and frisbee tossing to their dog Gracie.  😃   It’s always fun being with them!

Last Wednesday, we headed over to the Tampa RV Show.  We knew Bill and Kelly were going to be there, and seeing our friendship developed through our blogs, Facebook and Messenger, we felt it was time to meet these two in person.  Their adventures can be seen at bkamericanodyssey

Here we are with Kelly and Bill in the center, and fellow RV-Dreamers Cindy and James on the right.  We hung out on and off throughout the day and ended up grabbing dinner together afterwards.  What a great time!  We ended up talking so long that we decided to get a room in Lakeland on the way home, as it was three hours back to Melbourne Beach.

One thing we were going to be giving up by going to the RV show was an evening launch at Cape Canaveral.  Well it turns out that someone failed to warn a pilot that he/she was flying into the rocket’s path, so the launch ended up being delayed a day.  Bad luck for NASA, but good luck for us!  Half of our park seemed to flock across A1A to the beach to watch the launch.

The Atlas V did not disappoint!  Even though the Cape is 30 or so miles north of us, we could see the ship rise off the pad quite clearly.  It took several minutes for it to pass by us to the south and east, and we were able to see the first stage burn out and the second stage ignite.  We even saw a couple of shooting stars!  Once the ship was just about out of sight, the low rumble of the launch finally reached our location.  It’s amazing the difference between the speed of light and sound!

 Last Sunday, we made it back down to Summer Crush Winery, as we were meeting friends who were staying in Ft Pierce.

Phyllis and Bernie are renting a condo on the inlet, and they are really enjoying being here!  Phyllis was the secretary at the school Diana taught at for many years.  It’s always a good time when we get together with these two!

If you remember from past posts, Summer Crush is a Harvest Hosts location.  We first discovered it when we stayed there last year on our way to the Keys.  Diana noticed an Airstream parked out back and was trying to figure out who it belonged to by scanning the crowd.  At each of these events, the suggested donation to get in is $2 per person for a local charity, which can also be covered by a $5 raffle ticket.  When Gary the owner announced that the winner was staying with them through Harvest Hosts, Diana scooted over to their table to introduce herself, as it’s always nice to meet other RVers.

Meet the Franchi family!  Their blog, Paperdoll Pioneers, chronicles their adventures.  It turns out that the prize they ended up winning was two tickets to see John Ford Coley and Terry Sylvester (former lead from The Hollies) at a Summer Crush show in mid February.  Since they were traveling and wouldn’t be here, they gave us the tickets!  Thanks guys…we will pay forward your generosity down the road.  ❤️

Yesterday, friends of ours from Amazon stopped by to say hi!  Cassie and Joe worked in packing with us and were also at the same campground we were at near Campbellsville. They are currently staying south of us in Sebastian. We showed them around the park and caught up on what’s been happening with them.  We forgot to get a photo, but we will be sure to when we get together over the next few months. That’s about it for now.  We have been busy with spring and summer trip planning.  At least I think spring and summer are next.  We are still finalizing those plans, so be sure to stay tuned!

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Always in our hearts

Leelanau….a peninsula, a county, a state of mind.  It is a place we’ve written about extensively over the past couple of years. Not only has it been our landing for the past two summers, it has been a place we’ve known well for most of our lives.  A place of indescribable beauty, this finger of land has woven its way into our souls like no other could ever hope to.  We have traveled most of the United States and Canada as a couple and are confident in making that statement.  The friends we’ve made there share that sentiment and our love for the region.  It’s a place where people don’t lock their doors, as the only things stolen are the iconic M-22 highway signs…as visitors want to take a piece of the region home with them.  

With that being said, our goal has always been to return to the places we’ve traveled to and experience them more fully in our retirement.  We must move on for an extended period and begin our journey through North America. The difficulty in doing so is immeasurable, but comfort lives in the understanding that we’ve already found our eventual summer roost, and that we will most definitely be back in the future.

The past few weeks have been a flurry of activity for us.  Following the Harvest Stompede, our fellow RV-Dreams family members Bob and Kathrun stopped in at Wild Cherry for a few days on their journey westward from Nova Scotia. We met them at the rally we attended in Goshen, Indiana in September, 2014.  You may recall that we toured San Antonio with them earlier this year.

We pretty much ran the wheels off the Escape during the time they were here.  It’s always great seeing them!

We also made a quick trip to Kalamazoo to see our college friends and go to a Western Michigan University’s football game.  Our friends’ son, Billy, made the team as a walk-on this year, and while he has yet to see playing time, he has gained a wealth of life experiences being on the team. We are so proud of him for working so hard to reach his goal.

Western won over Georgia Southern 49-31 and extended their record to 4-0, having beat two Big 10 schools along the way.  They are now 5-0, having just beat their arch rival Central Michigan 49-10. Go Broncos!

After Kalamazoo, we stopped at my sister and brother-in-laws home on Long Lake near Harrison, Michigan.  

It’s always good seeing Judy and Dale!

Dale took Diana and I out with their ATV on the land they just bought near them. It was fun checking out the many two-tracks that run through the property.

When we got back to Leelanau, we had a house warming at Lane and Patti’s new home that they are building.

Our friends Camilla, Rod and Mary were there also.  The house is still under construction, but some of us are leaving…so the party couldn’t wait.

Patti and Lane had to open their gifts before the sun set, as the electrician still needed to hook up the lights!

On Wednesday, fellow RV-Dreamers Cori and Greg stopped by to meet us.  They were traveling through Michigan, so we invited them to the Wild Cherry potluck that was happening that evening.

We have been following Cori’s blog, The Restless Youngs…but this is the first time we had met them.  They are super people, and we enjoyed getting to know them!

On Friday, we hooked up and said our goodbyes to our friends at Wild Cherry.  

Paul and JoAnn gave us a thoughtful going away present, which was very sweet of them.  We want to extend a sincere thank you to Wild Cherry’s owners, Jim and Sandy, for their friendship and hospitality the past two years.  They are a sweet couple and we wish them well with the resort. We definitely plan on taking them up on their offer to return in the future!

So what’s next for us?  Well, we are stopping in Grand Rapids for a week to take care of health and hair appointments.  We are also dropping off a few things at the storage room.  We made a quick run to Indiana on Saturday to see my Aunt Marge and Uncle Ed, as it is going to be awhile before we get back this way. From Grand Rapids, we are headed to Campbellsville, Kentucky to work the peak season at Amazon.  We are looking forward to the challange!  From there, we are planning to return to Melbourne Beach for the winter, then it is a ‘jello plan’ to head west.  More about that as we get closer to that time period.  We are excited to see what the future brings, so we hope you stay tuned!

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Thar’s a reason they call it Junction, pardner…

Junction, Texas is a charming community with a western vibe.  Located in the hill country a few hours northwest of San Antonio, the town sits just to the south of Interstate 10.  Founded in 1876, the town was named for being the place where the north and south branches of the Llano River meet.  It is the seat of Kimble County, but it has a laid back, cowboy feel to it that belies its official status. Not a lot of famous folks come from Junction, other than Coke Stevenson (35th Governor of Texas) and Les Cox, who went 0-1 in the two games he pitched in for the 1926 Chicago White Sox.

We not only found Junction to be a meeting place for two rivers, but also a meeting place for several members of our RV-Dreams family.  When I sent out a Facebook post showing that we were in Port Arthur, Tracy contacted me to arrange a meetup with her and her husband Lee. She is a fellow blogger and RV-Dreamer. We had been in contact through our blogs, the RV-Dreams forum, and on Facebook over the past year or so. We went to separate RV-Dreams rallies in 2014, so we had never met in person. We had reservations at Morgan Shady RV Park, and it worked out that Lee and Tracy were able to land there the night before us. 

  
What a great meeting it was!  We immediately hit it off, sharing stories of how we got to where we are now.  Tracy made a yummy spaghetti dinner and salad for us, which was a thoughtful touch after a day on the road.  🙂

  
The two of them telling the story of how they became fulltime RVers was entertaining and had us cracking up!  🙂

Tracy’s Camper Chronicles blog is an honest view into the emotional aspects of these two empty nester’s lives as they take to the road.  Anyone who has done what we are doing will tell you straight up that while it may seem that we are on a constant vacation, the minutiae of life still happens.  People still get sick and have to find health care, have to get their hair cut, pay bills, grocery shop….each time having to find a new place to do those things.  Tracy really does a marvelous job of showing all sides of the journey…from the joys of new discoveries to the pain of major vehicle issues.  Definitely worth the effort to peruse her work, if you haven’t already.

After Lee and Tracy left on Wednesday morning, we met up with fellow Fall 2014 RV-Dreamers, Keith and Jeanne.  They were headed west to Fort Stockton and stopped for lunch.

  
This charming couple was camped next to us for a week during the rally, and we had been hoping to be able to meet them again on the road.  Lo and behold, that took place at the Junction Sonic.  🙂   Jeanne had noticed that we were in Texas through the blog and reached out to us by email.

  
We sat out front at Sonic so their dog Umber could be with us.  We had to get our doggie fix.  🙂   We talked for over two hours!  It was great to see them and to know they are both doing well.

  
After lunch, we returned to Morgan Shady and walked the park.

  
It’s a quaint little campground, and the ‘shady’ comes from the many pecan trees that grace the property.

It was at that point that we received a message from another RV-Dreamer couple, Pam and Red.  Like Lee and Tracy, they attended the Spring 2014 rally.  They are near Junction, working on a relative’s house.  We’ve never met, so we decided to clear that little detail up!  We couldn’t make it happen this stay, but we will be returning to Junction soon and are going to get to know them at that time.  We never knew when we attended that rally in Goshen, Indiana that we would develop so many friendships on the road….or that so many of them would be nurtured in Junction, Texas!
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San Antonio Missions

“We’re on a mission from God”

Elwood Blues

With the arrival of Easter weekend, we were on a mission to see a mission…FIVE of them, to be exact!  We made our way to San Antonio on Saturday and met up with Bob and Kathrun, fellow RV-Dreamers who we got to know at the Fall 2014 Rally. Like us, they sold their home, disposed of most of their possessions, bought an RV, and hit the road. (There is much more to their story, but it is their song to sing.  Once Kathrun’s blog is up, we will provide a link.) After we settled into our site, we headed into town to see the Alamo.

This was Diana’s and my first trip here  together since 1982…not long after we were married.  We were living on a shoestring in Austin at the time and had come here with our college friend Betsy who was visiting us from Michigan.  We shared the following story of that trip with Bob and Kat:  Wanting to spend the night in town, Betsy, Diana and I inquired on a whim at the Hyatt Regency to see if they had any rooms available.  They had one with two queen beds…at $45 a night.  Even in 1982, that was cheap… especially for a Hyatt on the Riverwalk in San Antonio.  We asked what was wrong with it, and the clerk said “oh, it probably doesn’t have a view”.  We got to the room and I ducked into the bathroom.  I could hear Diana and Betsy talking as they looked out the window, delighted that we actually did have a view.  I heard one of them say “oh look….there’s a Spanish mission!”  When I joined them at the window, a mere one block away was an unobstructed frontal view of the Alamo.  🙂

On this visit, we weren’t the only ones with Easter plans.  🙂   While very crowded, the line to get in moved quickly.

For anyone who has yet to visit this historic place, the Alamo is no longer the Texas outpost it once was.  The city of San Antonio has surrounded it like so many of Santa Anna’s men.

Kathrun stepped across William Travis’ line in the sand (now bronze in stone).  Be careful, Kat …that didn’t end well for the first people who did that!  🙂

From the Alamo, we found our way to the Paseo del Rio…otherwise known as the San Antonio Riverwalk. This is a series of walkways through the city that line both sides of the river. Originally a Works Project Administration project from the 1930’s, the Riverwalk has sprouted a multitude of unique eateries and shops, and has become Texas’ # 1 tourist attraction.

Here is the four of us at dinner at a riverside Mexican cafe.

The river boats were full, and everyone was having a great time.

The Arneson Theater along the riverwalk.  The venue is unique in that the seats are across the river from the stage. This site is used for all sorts of plays, Mexican dances and mariachi bands. The five bells in the arches are meant to represent the five missions of San Antonio.

On Easter Sunday, we decided to search out the other four missions, all part of the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park.  While the Alamo is maintained as a memorial to those that lost their life in the battle, the other four missions are active parishes of the Roman Catholic Church.

To touch on the overall history of the San Antonio missions, these enclaves were established by Franciscan missionaries to convert the local people to Catholicism and the Spanish way of life.  They became safe havens from Apache attacks, so many people accepted the trade-off out of sheer need for survival.  Bob stated that the missions were generally located a day’s travel from each other.  My, how times have changed.  🙂

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First up was Mission Concepcion. This stone church was dedicated in 1755.

Many of the original paintings still exist on the interior walls of the peripheral rooms of the enclave.

We saw this stone in the walkway near the grotto, most likely put there to remind us what state we were in.  We definitely aren’t in Florida anymore. 🙂

Next was Mission San Jose. The grounds of this compound were absolutely beautiful. This church was dedicated in 1782.

The surrounding walls of the mission were restored by the WPA in the 1930’s, creating this expansive courtyard.

The interior of the church was well restored; something we wouldn’t have guessed by the rugged exterior.

Our next visit was to Mission San Juan.

The buildings at this location are replicas, being built by the WPA in the 1930’s.  The doors of this church were locked, so we do not have photos of the interior. We took a walk on a nice trail to the San Antonio River behind the mission.

Our last stop was Mission Espada.

This church dates back to 1756, but the mission itself was established in 1690…thereby making it the oldest of the five.

The interior was simple and had plenty of natural light.  It was a very pretty and intimate space.

If you have the opportunity to journey to San Antonio, be sure to build in enough time to visit all five of the missions.  There even is a paved bike trail that links them together.  We feel it is worth the effort to seek out these beautiful places, and the history that speaks from within their walls.

 

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A Perfect Autumn Day at Sleeping Bear Dunes

Today was just about as perfect as a day could possibly get.  October in Michigan can be a mixed bag, weather wise, but today was begging us to come outside and play!  72 degrees, not a cloud in the sky, and a strong, warm breeze coming out of the south. So…play, we did!

  
We loaded up our TerraTrikes and headed to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.  The portion of the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail that we planned on triking was from the Dune Climb back east to D. H. Day Campground.  This is the portion of the trail that suffered the largest damage from the storm on August 2nd.  It’s also one of the flattest portions of the trail.  :). We pulled into the parking lot of the Dune Climb to see that we weren’t the only ones enjoying the beautiful weather!

  
Out on the trail, the fall colors were evident in a few places.  With Leelanau County being surrounded by the waters of Lake Michigan and Grand Traverse Bay, the weather is moderated by their warmer temperatures in the fall.  So while the rest of lower Michigan is at peak color, we still have a lot of green leaves here.  In fact, a lot of those green leaves are drying up and falling to the ground before changing color!

  
The trail heads east through low dunes towards historic Glen Haven.

  
There are several restored buildings in this former lumbering and fishing town.  The red cannery building in the photo now houses a maritime museum.  There also is a beach here.

  
Farther to the east of Glen Haven is D. H. Day Campground.  This is one of the old log buildings back from when this was a Michigan state park.  This campground was closed for weeks following the August 2 storm, as there were hundreds of trees down.  How no one was hurt, let alone killed, is beyond belief.  The National Park Service did an amazing job of cleaning up the campground, as there isn’t much storm evidence left here.

  
That’s not the case on other portions of the trail.  Many of these fallen trees will be here for years to come.

The portion of the trail we rode wasn’t too long, so we decided to go for a hike!  Last week, Howard and Linda from RV-Dreams hiked the Empire Bluffs Trail and wrote a blog post about it.  The trail is about 45 minutes from Wild Cherry Resort, and tucked away on the south end of the village of Empire.  We’ve been coming to this area for years and never knew it existed.  Proof that you learn something new every day!

  
At 1.5 miles round trip, this was slightly longer than the Pyramid Point trail we have been doing.  

  
The sunlight was streaming through the trees, creating a surreal scene.

  
There were deep ravines and towering hills, typical of the back dunes that dot the shore of Lake Michigan in the state.

A clearing appeared to our right, and we were greeted with this view.

  
Here is Sleeping Bear Dunes in all its splendor.  Lake Michigan to the left, North Bar Lake to the right.

  
The trail continues on towards Lake Michigan, and becomes a boardwalk as it crosses onto the fragile dune above the shoreline.

  
Once out on the dune, we were treated to this spectacular vista.  The large waves that are breaking on the shore looked tiny from up here.  To the left, out over the lake, South Manitou Island can be seen in the distance.

  
There was a steady stream of people coming out to enjoy the view.

  
To the south, across the shimmering water, is Point Betsie.

  
After soaking in the view for awhile, we headed back down the trail.

  
Near the parking lot, I took a photo of these trees.  We aren’t quite sure if they are going to end up being colorful this next week, but we are hoping they are.  A lot of the maples closer to our campground are turning quickly, and they are beautiful…so here’s hoping for some pretty colors!

On the way back home, we stopped at Cherry Republic in Glen Arbor and got Diana a piece of cherry pie.  I opted for a cherry ginger ale.  Yum on both counts!

So today was about as good as we could ever hope a day could be.  We are certainly glad we made the decision to come back north for October!

Return to Leelanau

   
On October 1, we decided to head back to Leelanau County and Wild Cherry Resort.  Diana’s mom has stabilized from her recent pneumonia, so we felt safe in finishing out the season.  Wild Cherry closes October 31.

    
On Friday, we met Diana’s cousin Reed and his wife Emily in Traverse City for lunch at Northern Natural Cider House.  The two of them had come up from Kentucky to close up the family homestead in Luzerne, MI.  When they arrived early Thursday, they received a huge shock, as Ma Deeter’s had just burned to the ground.

  
A classic example of an ‘up north’ bar, Deeter’s was known far and wide…probably more so than the town it resided in.  It was thought to have been the largest log structure east of the Mississippi. The building had been there since 1940, and the building before it (also destroyed by fire) had been there since 1920.

   
Emily posted this photo on Facebook that morning of their iconic sign and the smoldering ruins.  So sad.

On Saturday, we worked at Wild Cherry.  I grabbed the chainsaw and decided to take down a few dead ash trees, as they were near the roadway.  I was concerned that they could fall on someone.  As I went back to the barn, I came upon this:

 
This was a very much alive top half of an Aspen tree that snapped off in the wind.  Granted, it was very windy on Saturday, but I have to believe that this tree was weakend in the August 2nd storm.

  
It had snapped off a good 40 feet up the trunk.  The pieces in the roadway were fairly thick, so I’m glad no one was under it when it fell!

On Saturday night, we went out to eat with Howard and Linda from RV-Dreams.  

  
They are in town conducting their fall educational rally at Lake Leelanau RV Park.  While we always knew we were most likely going to fulltime RV when we retired, these two were the ones that provided the ‘nudge’ when we attended a couple of their seminars at an RV show in Grand Rapids in January, 2014.  We attended their rally last fall in Goshen, Indiana, and we were very excited to get the chance to see them again.  They have a six week trip to Costa Rica planned (without their rig), so it was fun to hear about the preparations they were making for that adventure.  They have been fulltime RVing since 2005, and they are extremely knowledgable about what it takes to live the lifestyle.  We highly recommend attending one of their rallies, even if you are just an RV owner and aren’t going to full time in it.  They provide a plethora of information on anything conceivable to do with an RV and the lifestyle.

On Sunday, we went to Suttons Bay Bikes and rented a TerraTrike for Diana to try out. We were dressed for a chilly ride, as the temperatures were in the low 50’s. We were just fine with a few layers.

  
We rode 7 miles on the 17 mile long Leelanau Trail.  She liked it so much, she went back to the bike shop and bought it!

  
We then rode the trail 9 more miles.  :). She is a very happy camper (biker)!

On our first ride, we saw this picnic table.

  
We stopped and had lunch there.  They had water, a trash can, a log book, and a pot of flowers…which was a nice touch.  I believe it was maintained by the people who lived adjacent to it.  The Leelanau Trail is a rail trail between Suttons Bay and Traverse City, and is part of the TART trail system that covers the Traverse Bay Area.

When we got to Revold Road, we were just west of Black Star Farms and we saw this sign.

  
You know you are in Leelanau County when the rest stops are wineries instead of ice cream shops.  🙂

Diana had been thinking (dreaming, actually) about getting a TerraTrike for quite awhile.  One thing I was concerned about was how we would haul it.  Fellow full timers, Bill and Jodee from On The Road Abode have two TerraTrikes, and Jodee was kind enough to send me photos of their setup.

   
If we get a second trike, this would work well for us.  Great rack from Hitch Rider.  Thanks, Jodee!

When we brought Diana’s trike home, I came up with this:

  
The disc brakes lock, so there isn’t any movement.  It won’t interfere with the trailer in this position. I’m going to get nylon straps to secure it, instead of the bungees. The seat fabric easily detaches for longer trips.  My bike will continue to ride on our Yakima receiver mounted rack, which can be mounted on the trailer when we are moving, or on the truck when we are stationary at a campground.

So as you can see, we are excited to be able to spend October on the Leelanau Peninsula.  Amazingly, the leaves have yet to change color, so we are hoping for some beautiful vistas fairly soon!  Stay tuned!

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! 

RV-Dreamers get together and an Upcoming Rally

Today was a marvelous day!  Last September, we met Fred and Bonnie Lee at the RV-Dreams Fall Rally.  Fred has followed our blog ever since we published our first post, and we got in touch this week after he noticed we were headed their way in Florida.  They stopped by our place today, and we went to a place in The Villages for lunch.

  

Man, it was great to see them!  Bonnie recently retired, and Fred has been retired for a number of years now.  They just purchased a beautiful motorhome, sold their home and are doing what we are doing.  They are yet another couple that went to one of Howard and Linda’s rallys and ended up hitting the road!  And they are loving every minute of it.  :).  Be sure to check out their blog HappiLEE RVing.

Speaking of RV-Dreams, Howard and Linda are holding their fall rally this year in Lake Leelanau, Michigan.  The Leelanau Penninsula is near and dear to our hearts, and we highly recommend both the rally and the location it is being held in.  If you are thinking about possibly pursuing this lifestyle, this rally is for you.  Leelanau County is home to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and was voted as the most beautiful place in America on Good Morning America a few years back.  It really is a special place, and the rally is being held in peak color season.  Go to RV-Dreams and click on the 2015 Fall Rally on the sidebar.  Our work camping job will be very close to the rally location, so we will be sure to stop in at some point and say ‘hi’. 🙂

I was invited by Rob at Rockiesoutdoors to take part in a five day black and white photo challenge.  This is Day 3 of the challenge.

 


Today, I chose a photo I took in 2005 in Yosemite National Park in California.  We tease (tongue in cheek) about Ansel Adam’s photos, as how could anyone not get an amazing photo of this natural magnificence! 

The rules of the challenge are simple:  

Post a different black and white photo you have taken for five consecutive days.

Invite a new blogger each day into the challenge.

So today, I challenge Fred and Bonnie to join in the fun on HappiLEE RVing.  🙂