Friday, August 31, 2012

Side trip to Bavaria

Frankenmuth, Michigan....a little bit of Bavaria in the good 'ol USA! Such a beautiful little town with lots of shops, restaurants, tour buses and Bronner's....We spent an afternoon wandering the aisles of the huge Christmas shop....anything and everything you could imagine was was gigantic and overwhelming.  Good thing we are in a small small home these days, I could have found quite a few treasures to bring home from this amazing store!
Paul remembered his years in Germany ....

The Bavarian theme was evident in the archtecture of the town, beautiful buildings, colorful flowers and immaculatly clean and well-kept....kinda like Disney with schnitzel.

Pictures cannot even begin to show the size and scope of this store, but here's a few for you to browse.  The displays were amazing!  And, throughout the store are framed photos of guests and celebrities who have visited.  Paul enjoyed reading those, while I reveled in all this shiny stuff!

I left with one small bag....

Paul was rather relieved

 We had a rather mediocre lunch of brats for Paul and Jager schnitzel for me....then we left.
I guess these days, the touristy stuff just doesen't hold the same appeal.  It was fun to be there, but I didn't need any "remembrances" other than these great photos and the cool lighted American flag we got to stick on MiniPearl.  Frankenmuth is definately worth a visit....5 stars!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Bay City Michigan

We left Dayton heading north into Michigan.  Just 3 1/2 short hours later we arrived in Bay City and found the Bay City State Park.  Michigan has excellent State Parks.  Beautiful settings, clean modern bathrooms, electric hook up, no water or sewer, but dump stations and drinking water available and easy to access.  And the scenery is breath-taking!  We wanted to visit Frankenmuth, but discovered the true beauty of Michigan.  Incredible. 

Bay City is on Saganaw Bay and there is deepwater access inland and lots of water traffic.  We had to cross a drawbridge and were able to see it in action!

This is  the freighter that passed thru....very big!

Now, the street is being lowered for the cars to use again....

He is on his way, and so were we....on our way to visit Frankenmuth...which I will post next!

This shot of our camp site gives you a bit of an idea how pretty the area is. 
We did three full days here and enjoyed ourselves very much!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Some things I never knew...

The colors begin to show these days up north

Swans floating on a lagoon close to the Saganaw Bay
I never knew how ingrained my daily routine was until we literally broke the ties and headed out on this adventure....Sure, I knew that some big things would the fact of our living in a 17ft. trailer compared to a two story, 1800 sq. ft. home....yes, that was pretty obvious...duh...BUT....what surprised me was how tied we were to the days of the week and the flow of the month....without really noticing the patterns of life and the seasons of weather and time and humanity.  Working in a school environment I was used to some of these repeat patterns tied to events in each month be  it weather, history or holidays, some things come and go annually no matter what!  But, now, while all that stuff remains, we are no longer tied to it quite so closely.  And that is kind of exciting, but also makes us a bit unique...odd...maybe even a bit weird.  We have not come to grips with this ourselves.  We have such luxury of time these days....Like, when is the first day of back to school???? I can tell by shopping in Target/Walmart school supplies are out....Also, well, it is slowly becoming Autumn...I guess I will put away my fake petunias until next year....and oh, I got a nice little fall arrangement to hang on Mini Pearl's front door is official....we are decorated for the season....the trees are beginning to change colors up here in the UP (upper peninsula) and you can feel a change  in the air!  Campers arrive in the campground on Friday evenings now and clear out by Sunday noon leaving a really deserted looking place that is peaceful and quiet.  We plan our adventures to happen on week days so there are fewer crowds and we head towards Yellowstone to be there in but not crowded.  Yes, we are making our way in this new paradigm.

Tally ho

Dorothy Lane and the USAF Museum

We made our "home" at the FamCamp on Wright-Patterson AFB.  While here, we able to visit with two of Paul's sisters and their families.  What a treat, we were so happy to get this opportunity.  The Schulte Clan hung out with us several times...we had many good visits and laughs.  Greg and his lovely new bride Lauren got a chance to see MiniPearl...Bob and Cindy too, and we had several delicious meals out together!  Cindy and Greg work at Dorothy Lane Market...a very cool upscale grocery store famous for their Killer Brownies!  So, being the gracious hosts...they gave us the tour of DLM....ending with brownies...oh and Boston Cream Pie for Paul!

We bought two Original Killer to eat, one to photograph (oh, and we ate that one too)

This, my friends, is the original killer.....oh my, that center is 1/2 inch thick caramel...oh mama, was it rich.  Took us several days to finish this one brownie, but man oh man, was it ever good!
The Air Force Museum was awesome and worth at least a week's worth of visits to scratch the surface of exhibits, films, archival material and displays....we spent about 4 hours just in the World War 2 section.  Outside the museum was an impressive memorial garden with all variety of sculptures and tributes to individuals and groups. We enjoyed walking thru the area reading the testimonies and names of fallen heroes.

Below:  Paul stands by the entry sign.

After a nice lunch in the cafe at the museum, we drove over to the Presidential Plan Exhibit.

They have the Air Force One that Eisenhower, Nixon, Kennedy and Johnson all used on display.  This is the plane that flew the body of slain JFK back to Washington and where LBJ was sworn into office.  Very interesting and who could forget the photo of LBJ with hand raised to affirm his oath with Jackie standing by his side in her bloodied pink suit?  Such sad times.

Here I am waving to the "crowds" as I leave the plane!

They also had two AF Ones that Truman used and one was used by FDR only once just a month before he died.  Truman inherited that plane and only used it once too, when he signed the bill to create the separate branch of service....the UNITED STATES AIR FORCE!.. He then used another placne, which he named Independance in honor of our nation and his home of Independance, Missouri.

Paul did the shopping while we were at the AF Museum.  He has a neat hat and pins from the commands he served in while active duty in the Air Force.

Strategic Air Command (SAC) and Tactical Air Command (TAC)

 United States Air Force in Europe (USAFE) and Air Training Command (ATC)

This is the church we attended while in Dayton.  Not a historic building, but quite interesting because it is a reformed congregation of Baptists!  We were very impressed with the service and blessed by the sermon.  The pastor is from Canada.  No choir, but seemed like everyone in the congregation had beautiful voices, so the music was excellent as well.

Well, it has been a rather long post, but...we are almost caught up on our travels.  While in Dayton, we purchased a mobil "hot spot" at the Verizon store in the BX.  Got a good deal and 10 G of data, so we are really set to use both our laptops and actually watch some Netflix too :-)
Onward to Michigan!!!

Friday, August 17, 2012

A look inside our mind....

So...what could Paul be thinking???? Well, he might be wondering where we will head next, I am wondering that myself!

So, when we were deciding which way to go our one goal is to head WEST...until mid-September, then SOUTH until we hit Arkansas.  We have a date to meet up with good friends for a long weekend in Branson, then on to Rogers, Arkansas and WAR  EAGLE craft fairs.  Paul will not believe it...I have been going off to Arkansas in October off and on for about 13 or so sister introduced me to the fun and whenever I can make it....I go.  It will be very different this year as I will not be able to do much buying....but looking is free and takes up no space, so I will enjoy and I always love to see what other folks find to buy!
So, between now...August 17 and then October 14, we have to go from Dayton, Ohio north to the Upper Penninsula of Michigan, then west thru Wisconsin to Minnesota, then south thru the Dakotas, then west, then south!!! Want to hit Yellowstone in Sept., then high-tail it south asap.  Mt. Rushmore, Teddy Roosevelt NP, Badlands, Devils Tower, Custer, Yellowstone and Tetons....think we can do it?
We thought we would stay in Dayton for about 4 days, but decided to make it a week when we found out if we paid for 5 days, we got 2 free!, then....we took our westie to the groomers at Petsmart (btw, great experience and Fiona looks wonderful) we told them we were needing a vet to have a look at her one eye that was concerning me, they suggested the vet in the store and when they mentioned the first office visit was free....well....that's all she wrote!  Next day Fiona went to the vet, another stellar experience, really great folks, she left with ointment, and pills.  She is in very good shape for an older lady.  We have a follow-up visit for Monday, so Paul paid for another day at the famcamp here at Wright-Patterson.  We are pretty flexible, we can do that....Paul was able to visit with lots of family while we were in the area and this is where he grew up, so it is good for him to be home for a while.  More to post later, just thought you might wonder what is going on with us.  We get to be here for the CornFest this weekend, can't wait!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

What works/what doesen't...

A fellow Casita owner suggested she would be interested in knowing what works on the Casita or maybe even some of the mods or equipment or even perhaps what we thoughtfully decided to take along on the trip turned out as we hoped, or disapointed other words...the good, the bad and the ugly.  This will be Casita-specific, but in general, you could apply the info to any trip planning.  I was told a long time ago the basic rule for a trip was:  TAKE HALF THE CLOTHES AND TWICE THE MONEY.  I cannot top that advice even now!
So far, what works is our sweet little MiniPearl.  We are amazed at how every need for shelter and comfort can be had in this 17ft. gem.  One big surprise is the dishes.  I had some really cute melmac dishes purchased at Target...too cute not to take and enjoy, right?  Well, they are, but they are not microwaveable, so if I need to heat up something like soup, or chili, or melt butter, I am outta luck.  Enter my plain white china bought again at Target.  I decided to take some china since....well...we are living in this camper, not vacationing.  This has proven to be an excellent decision on several levels.  I can microwave with them, they look so nice and we enjoy eating on them and...they don't slide around in the cupboard...the melmac are all over the place, but not the china!  We use both, but the china was a pleasant surprise.
Another item that I have and use several ways are plastic dish pans.  I use them in my hanging storage in the closet to hold my clothes and keep them tidy, use them for holding loose items while we travel, and of course for doing dishes!
Our Cabelas mod kitchen galley has been a wonderful addition to our home, lots of storage and counter space.
We "velcroed" a power strip onto the front of one of the legs of the mod next to the Cabelas counter.  I can hook up 6 different electric items and run them all at once.  I real workhorse and we use all the time.  There are plenty of outlets in the casita, but this has the benefit of several being handy to my work space, so I can use the elec. kettle, the electric skillet and charge my phone all at the same time.  sweet.
The only item that is not working now, literally, is our ice maker and we are hoping that after we give it a rest, it might magically work again....fingers crossed.

Chairs on the side of the charming house are flower boxes!  Taken in St. Martins

On the side of a cafe in downtown Concord, Mass.  There is also a solar light stuck into the can for evening clever!
Well, this has been a long post and no I will close with a picture and hope this was helpful. 
Tally ho,

Another "must have"

The photo above has nothing to do with this post, it is just a nice one of the both of us taken during our boat tour of Bar Harbor, this is Little Cranberry Island.

When traveling full-time we have discovered a real techno-dependancy....GPS.  What a handy device.  We do not have a smart phone....but we can pretty much find our next destination, where to stay and what to see all by using our Garmon and our netbook.  We have an HP Mini 300 with an internal modum air card from Verizon and we are able to get internet just about anywhere (Canada we did use the wi fi at the campgrounds and it worked great there too.) We do have an actual hard copy of a great guide book called Road Trip USA  The book maps out a dozen routes that criss cross the US, north/south, east/west, coastal, and Appalachian Trail.  We are using a combo of east/west and some of the Appalachian....anyway, we type in the city of destination for our daily travel (we try real hard to keep it around 4-5 hours), get a listing of Walmarts in the area and then call ahead to seeif they let campers overnight...or, if we plan to stay over we will get a campground or state park in the area....we did this in Bennington, VT and had the pleasure of staying in one of thThee very best parks ever....Woodford State Park is the bomb.....and for $18 a night, we were totally impressed.  We wanted to spend a couple of nights as we went to the Bennington Museum to see the Grandma Moses gallery and eat at the Blue Binn Diner....5 Stars all the way!!! Our guide book gave us the hours of operation of the museum and entrance fees and also suggested the wonderful Blue Binn so we are very pleased with this book so far!  The Garmon is handy for all kinds of info and keeps us pretty much going in the right direction.  We do have an atlas and use that as well.  For example:  when we were deciding "where-to-next" after Bangor, ME.  we looked at the atlas and decided, after reading the guide book that we wanted to see Grandma Moses and Norman Rockwell on our way to the Baseball Hall of Fame, so we got on the internet and mapquested each town and realized they were each about 4 hours from each other, so we decided to drive to Bennington from Bangor and stay in the state park, then we headed out to Stockbridge and a nice tour of the lovely Norman Rockwell museum.  We left there by 2:30 and headed to Cooperstown which was a 4 hr. drive and are spending two nights at the Beaver Valley Campground.  We had all day to tour the Baseball Hall of Fame, also grabbed a delish lunch at the Doubleday Diner (another recommendation from the guidebook).  Now we are taking it easy at camp before we pack up and head to Buffalo.

The Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is first rate.  We spent 5 hours touring three floors of exhibits, relics, statistics, information, movies, photos, books, trading cards, anything and everything baseball....well-done and so very entertaining.  America certainly has a love affair with the game and we both enjoyed our time spent here. 

George Brett (far right) is a Kansas City icon....everyone loves him.  He has kept baseball alive in KC and that has been a hard thing to do....the Royals have not been doing very well since oh, say 1985....when they won the I70 World Series....

As of today, let's see....KC in the cellar for our division....oh well...

Paul is not a KC Royals fan, he prefers the Cincinnati Reds fan!
We will "shuffel off to Buffalo" tomorrow bright and early!
Tally ho,

Sunday, August 5, 2012

When last we met...

 We left St. Martins on Monday headed for Prince Edward Island...or PEI we had to drive this bridge in order to get to the island, it is one amazing feat of engineering, kinda scarry at first, but, in the end, very stable and such a good way to get over to PEI.  Once we got over the bridge we had been given a big recomendation to try the Cows Ice, of course, we parked and headed stright for the shop! Thanks to Jane!!!  Oh, and we got our first dose of Anne....

We did not have a reservation at any rv park, so we took our chances at the Cavendish KOA and were not turned away.  A nice park, but after St. Martins, we were a bit spoiled.  But, if we wanted drop dead gorgeous scenery, we had only to drive out of the park and take a left....or a right.  PEI is just too beautiful to put into words and made me wish for a much better camera, which I knew how to properly use of course.  Our poor photos do not begin to capture the beauty.  But, we tried.  In fact, I drove, and Paul was snapping photos non stop.  The churches were so lovely, the fields of wheat and potatoes and even clover and all types of wild flowers, well, we were dazzled.  Our first full day there we decided to do the L.M.M. tour, we first stopped into the site of her home while she lived with her grandparents and wrote Anne of Green Gables and several other novels and lots of poetry and short stories.  There is a nice book store selling lots of good things and then a path leading from there for a bit over a mile to the farm which was the inspiration for the "Green Gables".  We paid our fee and took a nice walk through woods and lots of info signs along the way.

 Above is the book store, the homestead is not standing, but they have the foundation dug out and you can see where it was.  The day was clear and warm, perfect weather.

 Lots of Queen Anne's Lace amid the wheat, such beauty is hard to capture, but you can get the idea.

 This part of the walk was very pleasant since the shade from the trees was very cool.
All the signage was in English and French....Below is the house, which is very well-kept and has lots of memorabelia and furnishings left from the family and altho Lucy never lived here, she visited often and had family living here.

 After visiting her home we drove down the road a bit to visit her birthplace.  We did not get out, just took some photos.

 We were hungry by now, so, when I saw this sign I made a quick right turn and we agreed to give it a try.  A very nice Japanese couple own and operate the Blue Wind, which is a lovely tea room with excellent food.  I had a cup of clam chowder (very very good) and a cucumber and veggie sandwich and Paul had the chowder and a ham and cream cheese sandwich.
After lunch we headed for the town of Summerside.  There is lots to see and do in this busy town which boasts a large Walmart! We visited the heritage museum and then the pier with lots of cute shops and great view of the bay.

 Our next stop was here (above) to see their afternoon program.  The school specializes on Highland Dance, Snare drum and bagpipe.  They have over 300 students from all over the world and are very well-known.  We enjoyed watching these talented young people and were very impressed with the facilities.

 The next day was cloudy and rainy and cold...not every day can be blue skies!  We stayed inside and enjoyed reading and relaxing.  The rain did not stop the vacationers, they got out and about and were busy....we knew we had plenty of time....this was our life, not our vacation!  We decided to skip Nova Scotia for several reasons one being we know we will return for the rally which will be held there next year, the other was the ferry....So, on Wednesday we packed up....hit the Cows store again....

Went back over this bridge.....

After saying Good bye to Anne....

We were headed back to the USA, boondocked at a nice Walmart in Fredericton, NB....then on to Bangor, Maine.
Tally ho,