Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Traverse City, Sleeping Bear Dunes and the Campfire!

The title of this entry seems to say it all. I am going to condense the rest of this week since we saw and did a variety of things and I want to highlight the more interesting of those entities.

We had to make a Walmart run and the closest store was in Traverse City. We decided to make a day of it and headed off onto some back roads the GPS lead us down. I guess it was in the mood to see some of the little known sites (and roads) so it finally got us to Traverse City and let me tell you, it was a busy place. We learned that this week was the week of the Traverse City Film Festival. The festival brings an enormous amount of people into that area and the retail stores were in heaven! After going to Walmart, we drove along the shore of Lake Michigan and noticed the small beach areas and numerous parks. After a short cruise, we parked the car downtown behind the stores and walked onto the main street.

The streets were buzzing with activity and most of the stores were open and filled with customers. A large banner stretching across the street proclaimed The Traverse City Film Festival and we were amazed at how many little shops there were with such a variety of unique things for sale. One store caught our eye, since it was cherry season, so we went inside. It is called the Cherry Republic and had everything that could be made from cherries. We sampled the various cherry sodas, chocolate covered cherry pieces, cherry wines and a host of other samples. They even had a Sangria made specifically for cherry soda. Of course we again helped the economy of the area with our purchases.

We traveled around town and was told one of the better places to eat was only a few blocks up town at Bubbas. So we started walking...and walking...and walking some more. I guess the girl in the Cherry Republic store must always take her car there because this was no short walk. We finally found Bubbas and went in. We ended up eating at the bar where the drinks came quick and the the food was also quite fast. I had a burger and Peg had a Chicken Quesadillas. Both were very good. We carbed-up for the lengthy walk back to the car!

The next night we drove to the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes and took the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive up to the top of the dunes. You park and walk about 1/4 mile to the edge of the dune and a view to die for! You look over Lake Michigan from the dunes and the suspended viewing platform/walkway. It was a great sunset that evening as you can see by these two photos. Quite a number of people apparently thought the same thing since the area seemed to be a popular place. I was shooting video while Peg took photos. I got my phone camera out and snapped a few shots as well.

On day three (Thursday) we hung out at the campsite at Indigo Bluffs. I worked on the American RVer show for August and and Peg watched some TV and made some cherry tarts (go figure) and some rice pudding for one of our meals.  So, since we had an uneventful day, we decided to have our campfire tonight. One of the things I noticed about this area is the lack of bugs. At night, there were few mosquitos and it was really pleasant to sit out by the fire. The air was cool, just right to watch the flames jump up towards the sky and feel the heat. Of course we had to make some s'mores (a diabetic's nightmare) which we chased down with our newly purchased wine. A nice ending to that day.

Our vacation at Indigo Bluffs was really nice but it ended too soon. I hope to go back up there another summer and check out more of the area and maybe even go swimming in Lake Michigan. Tomorrow we follow RV friends Millie and Jerry Cohen north to Hearthside Grove in Petosky, Michigan. Hearthside is supposed to be a very high end RV Resort and we have heard a lot about it. Since we are this close, and we could get a free night there, we decided to try it out...

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Michigan Experience

We're on vacation so we get up late and go to bed late. My kind of schedule! Peg awoke earlier than I and began to plan our week long itinerary. We ate breakfast outside on the patio and it was wonderful. The weather was suppose to be beautiful the next few days with temperatures in the 80's and low humidity. I decided to wash the bugs off the front of the motorhome and then we had a simple lunch.

Time got away from us so it was 4:00pm before we headed up to Leland and the Fishtown area. We passed several beautiful blue lakes on the way. A winery came into view so we thought we had better stop and help out the local economy! Good Harbor Winery has been in business since the 80's and they always wanted to make wine that was affordable to the general public. Their prices ranged from about $8-12. We did a wine tasting and then purchased a few of our favorites.

Of course one of those favorites was a cherry wine. The cherries are being harvested this time of year and cherry trees could be seen all along the highways and byways in this area. We stopped at a roadside stand to get some cherries and a couple of ears of corn for dinner. I stopped to take a few photos of a stand of cherry trees along one of our routes.
We drove on to Leland. We parked the car and wondered around the town and found Carlson's, THE place to purchase fish. We got some white fish and smoked trout. This was a quaint little town and the shop keepers were friendly. One told us about a good place to eat north of town called Fischer's Happy Hour Bar. Sounded good to us...So we headed out. We drove quite a while and we almost stopped and turned around but the GPS keep pushing us on. We did finally find it, along with MANY other visitors. We squeezed the car in to a spot and got a table inside. Peg had fried chicken and I had the biggest fried clams I had ever seen. All the food was as good as advertised!

It was getting late so we headed back to Indigo Bluffs. The sun sets late this time of year so it doesn't get dark until after 9:30pm. I stayed outside and read a little but Peg was getting cold (yes cold) and she went in to do some reading.  The TV came on after 9:00pm and we retired later that night. A good day!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Finally. . .On Vacation in Empire, Michigan!

We arrived at Indigo Bluffs just about 3 miles from Empire, Michigan. We took many two lane roads to get here, but most of them were pretty good, even in a motorhome. We had won a week stay at Indigo Bluffs last year and decided to use the stay this year since were were going to be "up in this neck of the woods!" 

Indigo Bluffs has two RV parks back to back. One is their "Resort" area where the sites are very large and separated from each other with beautiful wildflowers. The campground consists of much tighter sites and looks more like a typical public campground. We loved the spot we were in and it had pavers for both the coach and for us to sit on. An above ground fire pit is provided and firewood can be purchased for $5/bundle. We got one bundle and figured we would enjoy a fire later this week.

The roads into the resort are paved and make a great bike riding path. We got our bikes out and road throughout the resort and enjoyed the flowers and cooler weather. 

The first night we headed over to Glen Arbor and after walking over sand dunes for about 1/2 mile to the shore of Lake Michigan to take some photos at sunset (photo above), we ate at Arts Tavern. We had burgers, onion rings and fried smelt. That hit the spot! When we returned to the motorhome, we left the windows open for a cool nights sleep.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Lake House at Cold Water, Michigan

We drove across Indiana on the I80 toll road to the tune of $21.70! We arrived at James and Jennifer's lake house where Patsy was staying at about 2:00pm. We parked across the street from their small cottage in a lot they bought which had a garage on it. They were not allowed to build anything else on the site and it had plenty of room for us to back the motorhome in in front of the garage. They brought out a 120v, 20 amp power cord for us to get a little power into the RV.

We had a lot of company with almost all of Patsy's family there at the cottage as well as some of James and Jennifer's friends. Peg went swimming in the lake with Patsy, James, Jim, Danielle and friends kids Jack and Diana with their dad Brian. Mom Samantha, Jennifer and I stayed on the shore and watched. We had a nice taco dinner and cooked up some s'mores around the camp fire that evening. The sunset was beautiful over the still lake water.

Didn't get back to the motorhome until 11:30pm and it was still a bit warm. We ran the vent fans and keep the covers off for the night.
The following morning we had a big breakfast of eggs, bacon and pancakes and said our goodbyes to Patsy and the family, hooked up the car and headed off to Empire, Michigan which was about a 5 hour drive. It was great seeing Patsy again and she always makes us feel like we are part of her family. It was sad that her husband, Gary, who passed away last year, was not there to be with us all.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Leisure Lake RV Park - Joliet, Illinois

The WIT Rally was over and we headed out for Chicago and then to Michigan to see our friend Patsy. We made it to the town of Joliet, Illinois. We found a nice RV "resort" on the shore of a small lake. It was a nice place to rest for the night. They only had a few sites available, so we were lucky to find a place. The price was high at $35 for the night. We also had a scare getting to the resort since the service road looked like it was going to dead end but it continued around a curve and we then saw the park.

Tomorrow we should make it to Patsy's daughters lake house.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

We Arrive in Forest City, Iowa

Arrived in Forest City at about 4:30pm and headed for Pammel Park which is close to the middle of town along a bubbling brook. Because we do not own a Winnebago motorhome, we can not park on the Winnebago grounds, so we are happy to stay about a mile down the road at this park. There is more room between RV's. We stayed here last year as well. We were not facing the creek this time because we could not get satellite reception in the available sites.

Next to us were Don and Kim Greene of Harvest Hosts (see photo), a membership organization that allows you to park overnight at a variety of vineyards and farms across the country. They turned out to be nice folks and we went out to dinner with them later in the week.

Tonight was the celebration of the Puckerbush Festival in Forest City. They have a great fireworks display in the evening at the park, next to where the RV's are parked. We got our chairs out and moved to the edge of the park where the fireworks were directly overhead...Pretty intense! Good thing we had our Thermacell mosquito repellent unit with us because the bugs were terrible! That unit worked great!

Tomorrow we set up for the rally and we will be here all week. The second photo is of our booth here at Winnebago.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

On Our Way to WIT Rally in Iowa

We were on the road again and headed to the Winnebago WIT Rally in Forest City, Iowa. Our first stop was in Oklahoma and an RV park in a small town called Big Cabin. The park was basically a cow pasture that they put a fence around it to keep the cattle out and then they added RV sites with a gravel road. It worked. The sites were quite level but it was out in the open with no shade or anything to block the wind. It did have 50 amp service but the voltage was pretty low.

Peg and I were working on producing a book for one of our clients so we planned on staying late the next morning to catch up on some work for him. Did a couple loads of laundry and then headed out about 11:30am.

Dave and Jan at home
We made it to the Elks Lodge in Blue Springs, Missouri. We had stayed there once before. Everyone is quite friendly and we had a refreshment and then headed over to Peg's sister Jan's house for dinner. Stayed until about 9:30pm and headed back to the Elks Lodge and the RV. This RV area at the side of the Elks Lodge is on a hill and is gravel filled. I am always a little uneasy staying here because of the severe drop off behind the coach, but I always chock the tires so they do not roll back.

We have a long drive to Forest City tomorrow so we will be heading out in the morning.