Tag Archives: Woodchip Campground

Further South in Michigan 

Who says you can’t go home?

Once we left Leelanau, we headed south and set up base camp in Byron Center to take care of our various doctors’ appointments.  When we arrived at Woodchip Campground, we experienced a bit of deja vu, as we were assigned the site next to the one where we wintered in 2014/2015.  With just one week scheduled to accomplish everything we had planned this go-around, we had our work cut out for us.  Still, we made sure we had time set aside to see friends and family and have some fun!

The first visit we made was to see my sister Judy and her husband Dale.  We failed to get a photo this year, but it was great to see them!

Here’s a photo of us from last year.  They took a cruise to Alaska in May and were fortunate enough to see Denali without clouds for almost their entire stay!  

Ok, so hang on…I’m going to my best to confuse the heck out of you on this one.  The next day we visited our friends Diane and Terry.  Diana taught with Diane, and Diane’s sister-in-law Diane.  Yes, Diane, Diane and Diana…and they were actually a team of three several years!  Anyway, Diane and Terry had a former German exchange student of theirs visiting while we were there.

We hadn’t seen Adrienne for several years, so it was definitely a nice surprise!

Later in the evening, Diane’s brother Bob and his wife Diane showed up with their triplets!

My goodness, these three are growing up!  From left to right is Allyson, Diana, Anthony, and Madelyn.  Anthony finally achieved his goal of growing taller than Diana!  So we failed to get a photo of either Diane….

…but we did get a photo of Terry giving Adrienne her first motorcycle ride!  It sure was good to see these friends!

The next morning, Diana had a mammogram appointment, which turned out great. We then buzzed out to Holland to get an adjustment from my long-time chiropractor.  If I could have him tag along on our travels, my back would be eternally grateful.  🙂 After that we headed to Detroit for a Tuesday appointment with my doctor at Henry Ford Health System.  This was a routine follow-up from my prostate surgery back in 2010.  On the way, we went to Flushing to see Diana’s Aunt Marion, Uncle Bob, and her cousin Debbie.  We really enjoyed visiting with them.  We then dropped south to Ortonville to visit the cemetery where Diana’s family is buried.  From there, we drove to Mt. Clemens and stayed the night at our niece Becky’s house.  Once again, we totally failed to get photos…arrrghh.  Becky and her hubby Dan were excellent hosts and made us a yummy dinner. Diana’s sister Cheryl also came over with our nephew Jared.  It was great to see everyone again!  Tuesday’s appointment went extremely well, and I’m happy to report that I’m coming up on 8 years cancer-free.  Yesssss! ☺️   We then drove back to Byron Center.

Sound like a full week?  Well, the week ain’t over yet folks….

Wednesday morning, we both had our annual physicals with our primary-care physician, then had our teeth cleaned at our dentist.  The physicals went well; the dentist, not so much.  It turns out we both needed crowns.  One of those resulted in us pushing our stay in Byron Center into the middle of the following week.  And just so we could say we had a happy hump-DAAAAY, I started my colonoscopy prep in the afternoon.  Oh joy.  After drinking a gallon of that horrible concoction, I was moved to use many bad words in my opinion of its maker. 

Thursday was my colonoscopy (my third) and all was well…except this is the second time in a row I’ve woken up halfway through.  Jeez…knock me out already, would ya?  Good part is, I’m good to go for another 5 years.

Friday was my appointment for my crown.  I was able to get a one-visit crown, which was a traumatic 3 hour long deal the last time I did it.  This time, while still 3 hours, was much better.  I asked for gas.  😉   

So by this time, you are probably thinking we are ready to drop, right?  Not.  We headed to Kalamazoo for WMU’s Homecoming!

From bottom left: Jim, Mike, Bill, Nina, Karen. Back row, from left: Billy, Cindy, Sue, Diana, Sheryl, Paul, Jim

We crashed at Mike and Cindy’s house for the weekend, even though they were going to Detroit on Saturday morning for a wedding.  Their son Brian and his girlfriend Sarah came over and took the role of surrogate hosts; oh, my…we knew the day would come that the kids would have to chaperone us!

Saturday came, and so did the rain and lightning.  It poured hard all day long, and the storms forced the postponement of the football game until Sunday.  

There was concern that the game would have to be played at a different location, as Waldo Stadium was completely flooded.  With a Herculean effort, more than a million gallons of water were pumped from the field in time to play Sunday afternoon.  Not sure how that affected folks downstream, though.  Anyway, most of us skipped the Sunday version of the game, as we needed to head out.  For us, that meant Byron Center again.

Monday we ran a bunch of errands.  One cool thing I want to highlight about that:  while we were at Camping World, I brought in a step I had purchased a while back.  One of the legs had broken on it, so I wanted to see what the warranty was.  The box didn’t say, but it did say that it was rated at 1000 pounds.

And seeing as we are Good Sam Life Members, Camping World was able to tell exactly when we bought it.  May of 2012.  Probably way out of warranty, but worth a call.  Stromberg Carlson requested a photo and a proof of purchase (which Camping World provided), so we zipped that all off to them.  Within an hour, they were sending us a new step!  That is great customer service that deserves to be mentioned.  And a big shout out to the Byron Center Camping World for their assistance!

On Tuesday, Diana went to lunch with her friend Colleen.  They grew up together in Ortonville, and she now lives in Rockford, just north of Grand Rapids.  I stayed home and caught up on a few projects and repairs.  Wednesday was Diana’s crown and we were ready to go.  We lifted our jacks Thursday morning and headed south towards warmer temperatures and more adventures.  Stay tuned to see what we come up with!

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Baby, it’s cold outside!

“There’s just something beautiful about walking on snow that nobody else has walked on. It makes you believe you’re special.”
Carol Rifka Brunt

Today was a special day in so many ways. Sure, it had it’s challenges (as so many days do), but it was one that will stand out and sustain us through the remainder of the winter.

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Take a look at that sky and that snow! That is the kind of powder that crunches under your feet. Outside temperature at noon was a balmy 7 degrees, and the wind chill was well below that. Of all days to have our satellite TV installed! So the first task at hand this morning was to shovel out the parking area and clean off Diana’s Escape, so she could get over to her mom’s place to take care of her needs. I also wanted to make sure there was room for the installer to pull in. I am a tad O/C when it comes to shoveling, as I like to make sure there aren’t any straggler piles left behind. My Fitbit Flex let me know that fact when it announced to me that I had achieved 10,000 steps without my normal 4 mile walk at the YMCA.

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With that sunshine, it was not too tough of a chore.

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I did make sure to shovel a path to the fence row, as I knew the installer was going to have to find a clear shot at the satellite. Most of the row is covered with trees, but he did manage to find one spot.

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By late afternoon, we were good to go! The pole is a temporary setup, as we will have to get a tripod to make our dish truly portable. It is good to have a nice, clear HD picture again. Thank you to Gilbert for a great installation experience.

With the temperatures getting into the single digits, we were finally putting our winter preparations to the test. Our first surprise came the other night when Diana turned on the faucet to find that we didn’t have any water. This was truly a surprise, as the campground had installed new heated faucets in the fall, and we had invested in a heated hose that was rated to 40 below.

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The culprit ended up being the cheap pressure regulator that we had been using. Once I removed it, we were back in business. Our campground’s water pressure is reasonable, so we feel comfortable running without the regulator for now.

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As you can see, the hose melts the snow around it and has performed as advertised. Richard’s investment in the heated faucets has also provided our row with trouble-free service. Again, our gratitude for his efforts and the service he provides in keeping Woodchip open in the winter.

Our temperature under the rig at noon was 41 degrees. We are running the electric heater under there, resulting in a slightly higher electric bill. We feel that expenditure to be cheap insurance against frozen waste tanks.

Our interior humidity issues have improved dramatically. In the fall, we had purchased an EvaDry Petite humidifier and a larger EvaDry dehumidifier. The bigger unit’s transformer became extremely warm, and we ended up not using it. Dissatisfied, we sent it back to Amazon and purchased a second Petite. Once that was in place, our humidity levels dropped immediately. We also have keep the bathroom window and vent cracked open, as was recommended to us by Glyn Carson at the RV-Dreams rally. We can’t explain why it works, as it seems to defy all logic…but it does.

So, with our TV up and running and our daily tasks behind us, we decided to celebrate! One of our favorite spots to go for a special night out has always been the Carrabba’s in Grandville, MIchigan. Granted, Carrabba’s is part of a chain, but they are consistantly good…no matter what town we find ourselves in. They also do a great job of taking my gluten allergy into account, and they have one of the better gluten free menus available.

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The Grandville Carrabba’s has something that no other one has: Bob; seen here with Diana. We always call ahead to see if he is working and request him to be our server. He is head and shoulders above any waiter we have ever had serve us, and we have been to a lot of restaurants during our working years. Bob is a recommendation we feel rock solid in making, short of the fact we feel we are letting our little secret out.

So, what could have been a mundane Wednesday, ended up being a pretty nice day. We were able to spend a great afternoon and evening together, and we managed to complete our entertainment system in our rig. It ended up being a little sweeter, given the fact it all took place on the coldest day of the winter so far!

Preparing for Ol’ Man Winter

Winter weather to most full time RVers is something that they see on the TV news while sipping on an iced tea under their awning in Florida. However, sometimes circumstances arise that require folks to endure a northern winter in their rigs. For us, we have been blessed with the responsibility to care for Diana’s mom, who lives a few miles from our campsite in Michigan. We are honored and privileged to accept this. With our house sold, we had to decide whether to rent an apartment or prep the RV and make it livable for winter. We chose the latter. We are extremely fortunate that Woodchip Campground in Byron Center, Michigan has invested in the equipment to have 30 or so sites open all winter. Thank you, Richard!

Preparing an RV for winter living requires some thought. It is true that a person could put heat tape on their fresh water hose, turn up the heat and call it good. The problem with that is they would spend a small fortune in propane, and their waste tanks would most likely freeze. We researched several websites and spoke with people who have actually wintered in their RV’s and found out several tricks. One person we spoke with at the RV-Dreams Fall Rally was Glyn Carson. He was an Ice Road Trucker in Alaska, and he lived in his RV for seven Alaskan winters. He was a wealth of information. Thank you, Glyn!

Our 2007 Colorado has a “winter package”. That includes a heated underbelly, heated waste tanks, and double pane windows. A couple of 30 degree mornings has proven that we need more. Our first step in the process has been to purchase 3/4″ foil foam board to skirt the rig. We also purchased an indoor/outdoor thermometer with a frost alarm and we placed the sending unit under the trailer.

Here is what the process of skirting a trailer looks like:

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The foam panes are extremely lightweight and are easily cut with a utility knife.

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I used 2 x 3 lumber with long spikes driven into the ground to support the bottom of the panels.

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The multitude of corners also provides stability.

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The tape used for this is foil tape. It sticks extremely well, yet comes off without leaving residue. I applied it to the rub rail and tried to avoid sticking it to the Fiberglas gel coat.

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Here is a view of how the front of the rig is encased.

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I cut holes for the sewer levers and hinged them with foil tape.

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Glyn Carson said to cut them similar to the top of a pumpkin. Great tip, Glyn!

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Here is how I dealt with the rear bumper and power cord.

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This is another view of the services side of the rig. Note the box that extends from the side over the sewer. I will detail that in a later post.

I also ran our spare power cord under the skirting to power a heater. We have a small oil filled electric heater coming from Home Depot. I will show that in a future post. Will we need it? Time (and our nifty thermometer) will tell.

We have also discovered another issue that winter RVers have to deal with: moisture. Propane heat and cooking, along with showers, generates moisture on the marginally insulated walls. Lots of folks use a dehumidifier in their rigs. I sold ours to the new homeowner, as I didn’t think we would need it. Oops. We are trying DampRid canisters instead, as we really don’t want to buy a dehumidifier. We also are going to run the exhaust fan during and after our showers. We have another issue to deal with: power, or lack thereof. We have a 30 amp service in our rig. As long as we are above freezing outside, it is much cheaper to run electric space heaters than to buy propane. It is also drier. We have an oil filled heater inside that does fine, but we can’t run two of them on 30 amps, as our outlet breaker is only 15 amps. That runs ALL our outlets. We even have to shut the one heater off when toasting our bread. So, if you are considering doing this, make sure you are in a rig with 50 amp service.

Lastly, we are using window insulating film on our windows. Yes, they are double pane, but they still radiate cold. Every little bit helps.

We will post more on this subject as we move through the winter. I know a lot of you have expressed interest in what we are doing to ride this season out. We are looking at it as an adventure. Be sure to stay tuned. And if you find yourself under your awning in the tropics with a nice cold glass of iced tea, ponder the ice cube spinning in the glass. We’ll be peering out from inside!

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