21 June-22 July, 2016; Wisconsin; Michigan; Wisconsin

Greetings all!  I know…I’m getting really bad at doing frequent updates.  I think this is quite possibly the longest stretch between posts yet.  Thanks for hanging in there with us!

It has been a busy month for sure.  A lot of time in WI, a trip to MI for a wedding, and back to WI.  So let’s get on with it and see what we’ve been up to.

We departed our park in Caledonia, WI on Tuesday, the 21st of June, a day earlier than planned.  We had reservations at the Detroit-Greenfield RV park in Ypsilanti, MI (near Ann Arbor for the wedding) starting on the 22nd, but we wanted to leave a day early to stop in Elkhart, IN for a day on the way.  Elkhart is pretty much an RV Mecca.  If they make it…you can get it there, or in the immediate area for the most part.  We have been looking for a new couch, or to get our couch re-covered for quite a while, as ours is getting a bit worn out:

You can see the fabric wear on the seat.

The biggest issue we have had in getting a new one, or a re-cover is the extreme expense.  Some folks want north of $2,000 for a re-cover, and to get a new one made is almost twice that amount.  The reason they are so expensive is that they are made by Villa, a California company, and they are made to the exact specifications of your Coach, so unless you have had a long line of production of the exact same model, you won’t find a replacement that will work…special order only, and your wait time is two to three months, plus having to pay shipping from California.

We did find a store in Elkhart that carries Villa, and they actually had a couch in stock that had been ordered for someone else, and never used.  It would have been a bit shorter than the one we have, but would have worked.  Terri did not like that it was leather versus material for one thing, and the fact that it would not have fit perfectly was another issue.  Also…the place that had it would only discount the shipping cost…no other break on the price, so we passed.  More on the couch issue later.

We spent the rest of the day trying to find other options, but to no avail.  We ended up grabbing a bite to eat in downtown Elkhart, right on the river.  They have done a nice job restoring parts of the old downtown.

Nice time on the river.

Downtown Elkhart, IN

We spent the night at the Elkhart RV Park. Not a bad place, and not too far off of I-80.

Later in the evening, I recognized a 1970’s era MCI bus. It belongs to Al Hasselbart who we heard speak at the rally we went to in FL last October. He is the retired head of the RV Museum and Hall of Fame which is located in Elkhart. If you are ever in the area, it is a great place to spend an hour or two.

We were up early on Wednesday, the 22nd and took the back roads to the Detroit-Greenfield RV park.  Jason and Meghan and family arrived shortly after we did, and Ashley and Garreck and family showed up later in the afternoon.  While we were setting up camp, Terri took Peyton and went to the airport to pick up our daughter Mandi who flew up from Florida with my parents.  Mandi stayed with us, and mom and dad stayed near the wedding venue in a hotel.

At the airport in Detroit. Peyton, Mandi, Mom, Dad and my brother Randy, whose son Alex was getting married on Saturday.

All safely at the camp site. Eli walking with Toby and Peyton, and Ashley and Logan in the background.

This RV park is a converted KOA. It is OK, but kind of high priced in my mind. We were in the treed section, which worked out well, as it was very hot during the time we were there, and we only had 30 AMP service, so only 1 AC at a time. Good thing it didn’t rain much, as the entire area would have been a mud pit.

We had three spots all right next to each other. I was the only one with sewer, so Jason pulled in backwards so we could share. This is his new Sportsman travel trailer that they traveled in from Mississippi.

Garreck and Ashley’s spot and their Pop-up.

A better shot of Jason’s camper. Love the outdoor kitchen. It has one slide, which contains the booth dinette and couch. It is really nice and spacious inside.

As everyone was off doing their thing and getting acquainted with the camp ground, I got to baby sit Logan. I call him “two seconds,” because that is all it takes for him to get into whatever you don’t want him to get into. Jason was wise to bring this fence along…worked well for Logan and the dogs.

Nothing better than mud, a bottle of water and some toys to keep the L’il man entertained.  Gramps know’s how to babysit!

Jason has always been a “gadget” guy. He found this collapsible trash can, which holds a 40 gallon trash bag, and works really well. Ashley and I each ordered one on Amazon.  About $20. Love it!

The rest of the week and weekend flew by.  Here are some shots from the time we all spent together.  It was quite amazing that we had the whole extended family together with the exception, unfortunately of Justin, Mandi’s husband who had to work.

On Thursday, the 23rd, we all loaded up and headed into Dearborn, MI to tour the Ford F-150 plant. What a miraculous place. A finished truck rolls off the line every 57 seconds. They operate 24/7, and have only 7 or 8 non-production days per year. Even with those staggering numbers, they claim they are way behind on demand!

The films and tour are all very informative.  They take you from the company’s founding to present day production, and all of the environmental efforts they are spearheading.  Unfortunately, no photos are allowed in the plant, so I have none of that part of the tour.  It was awesome though…over 3/4 of a mile that you walk around the factory, suspended above the floor.

Here is a shot of one of their environmental efforts…grass roofs. Tons of acreage that grows plants on the roof. No need for air conditioning, and very little need for heat in the winter because the earthen roof provides such good insulation. All of the rain water is captured off of the roof and utilized for production and sanitary needs. This was the largest earthen roof of its kind for several years. Ford brought folks in from all over the world to share how they did this, and now the Ford complex is the fifth largest.  Pretty neat.

A lot of first run production cars that you can get up and close with. This is only one part of the Ford complex. In the fall of 2014 I toured the museum with my brother and sister-in-law. They also have a huge outdoor museum that I want to get to one of these years.

We spent the rest of the day and all of the next just enjoying each others company at the camp ground, playing games, eating and enjoying the lake.

Nice beach and swim area at the lake.

Saturday, the 25th was wedding day for Alex and Ashley.  What a great outdoor venue!

Ashley and her dad strolling down the aisle.

Emma and Peyton getting ready for the ceremony.

Love this shot that Terri took of my mom and dad with Ashley and Alex and my brother in the background.

And, we got our annual token “family at a wedding” shot, unfortunately sans Justin.

Logan, Peyton and Meghan on the dance floor…I guess Logan is actually ON the dance floor. Guess he’s trying to figure out how to do the worm!

Before we knew it, the night was over and we got the kids all back and in bed.   We were up early on the 26th for a brunch at one of Ashley’s relatives houses, then went over to my brothers for some time with family before everyone headed their separate ways.

My sibs…Randy, Vicki, John and me.

With mom and dad. Note mom is not using a cane or a walker or anything since here knee replacement in February! Not bad for almost 88 years young. And dad is doing great as well having just turned 90!

Just like that the long weekend was over.  Monday the 27th had us all packing up and heading to the Kenosha and Caledonia, WI area.  Ashley and family headed to the house, and Jason’s family joined Terri and I at our park.  The trip back was not without suspense however.  I had another opportunity to lock up all the wheels on the bus and the truck.  We were approaching road construction, and a semi that was headed onto the freeway caught one of those huge orange barrels with his left rear tire, which caused it to spin onto the road right in front of me…I had nowhere to go initially, but after some quick air brakes, I aimed for where the barrel had been, and snuck onto the on-ramp, then back on the interstate.   Thump thump thump goes the heart!  I don’t know if you have ever seen what kind of damage those barrels can do to fiberglass…it is not a pretty sight.

We got in and set up by mid afternoon, and headed down to Ashley’s for pizza and some cards.  We spent the next day with Jason’s family at the park.  He headed up to the Wausau area on Wed.  We were not headed that way until Friday, when Garreck and Ashley and family would be joining us.

It was nice and cool in WI on the 27th, 28th and 29th. Here is Logan at the park at our camp ground, scaling the wall…

OK, I don’t have a batting Tee, but this collapsible cone works quite well.

Site number 2, which we also have reserved for the 17th of June through the 31st of August. Love this park.

Blue bird skies for the most part.

And just like that, the week had passed and it was ready to pack up and head up north, or “Up Nort” if you will.  We headed out early on Friday, the 1st of July, and made it to Tigerton, WI and the Embarrass River ATV Park early in the afternoon.  This is a no-frills park, but a lot of room between sites.  It is only 30 amp, and no water or sewer, but they do have a dump station, and nice shower and bathroom facilities.  Terri and I have gotten to the point that we can go almost two weeks without having to dump if we are careful.  The thing that fills up the fastest is the gray tank with all the dish water, shower water, etc.  Thankfully, we have large tanks.  Our fresh water tank holds 110 gallons (don’t like to travel full all the time, but this time it was worth it…110 gallons at 8 lbs per gallon…is a lot of weight;) our gray tank hold 75 gallons, and our black tank holds 60, so we can manage for a while.

Our site in Tigerton, which is only a few miles from Terri’s sister’s cabin on the same river we are on.

Dumb Ron:  Take your time, do it right the first time!  Yep, wish I’d listen to my own advice!  Right as we arrived, we pulled over at the office to register and pay.  After that, we decided to unhook the truck to make it easier to wind our way into the actual camp ground.  Instead of grabbing my gloves to unhook the truck (which I used to always do) I decided to just unhook rather than walk the LONG 15 FEET TO THE TRUCK WHERE THE GLOVES WERE.  The truck attaches to the back of the motor home using a hitch that has two rams that allow the truck to accurately track behind the motor home, and for cornering and such.  When you unhook, you lift the rams up and they slide back into a larger metal casing.  Well, I had my right index finger in the wrong place, and took a nice chuck of meat out of it.  Blood everywhere.  It didn’t hurt at all, but it looked like a mess.  Terri looked at it and said I needed to go get stitches, but I didn’t think that would do any good, as the meat was just…gone.  Nothing to sew back together.  Well, in the end, we stuffed a bunch of super glue in, and used some steri-strips to hold things together.  That worked quite well, but Dumb Ron didn’t keep it covered well enough over the next few days and got it infected.  That resulted in a real fun soaking, followed by brushing all the infected garbage out.  That did smart a bit…I had to take a minute or two.  Bottom line…do it the right way every time, and take your time doing it!  I’ll do you the favor of not posting any pictures of that debacle.

Friday night and Saturday were spent at Patty and Rob’s cabin.  Great time had by all!!

My boy and his boy each enjoying a bottle in Rob’s hammock.

We never get tired of this little piece of Heaven that Pat and Rob have created.

They have been real busy this past year…new siding, new stone, roof, windows, gutters.

The kids supervising the dog in the water, I think??

And here he is, calculating how much time he has to get into the river before I can stop him…

Toby enjoying the fire from a really neat “high” chair.

Ben must have been telling him ghost stories…

On Saturday, the entire gang was there, and we got to meet Sadie for the first time!

Terri’s mom, Terri, sisters Pat and Julie

Brother in law Craig and I playing ladder toss…better known as testicle toss. I was teamed with Terri’s mom, which is usually a sure win, but I let her down this year.

Toby and Great Grams.


Nope Logan, Shiloh is not a horse! He loves having a bigger dog to rough house with.

On Sunday, the 3rd, we were invited to a graduation party for one of our friends son’s.  They have an awesome house on Pike Lake.  We have spent a lot of time on Pike Lake over the years, and love it!

All the kids and grands heading out on Jill’s pontoon boat.

Although she spent a lot of time swimming off of the boat, Peyton wanted more, so off the dock she went.

We spent the entirety of the 4th at the camp ground.  Jason (and his buddy Sam who flew up for the weekend) went to town and built a beer Frisbee game.  Essentially re-bar with PVC over it with and empty beer bottle on top.  Two teams, points for knocking the bottle off, or catching the bottle before it hits the ground if you are the opposition.  A lot of fun:

Logan brushing his teeth with the dirty water in the breakfast skillet.

Apparently he was thirsty too!

Another shot of the wide open camp ground from Garreck and Ashley’s site.

On the morning of the 5th, most of the gang went horse back riding before they packed up for the move.  Ashley and family heading back to Kenosha, Jason and family heading to Terri’s mom’s for one night before heading back to Mississippi, and us heading to her mom’s as well before going to our land.

We were up early and took a nice long ride on the ATV trails, then checked out the river and more.

The river right near our camp site.

After everyone else had departed, Terri and I took our time, did some laundry, and dumped the tanks before we headed to her moms house.  After we arrived, we watched Logan and Peyton for a while while Jason, Sam and Meghan took a ride around the area.

Logan in the flowers near the lane where Terri’s cows used to roam.

Peyton picking flowers for Great grams.

Peyton arranging the flowers in the newly hayed field.

And just like that, Logan snatched a flower and ATE IT.

Hanging out on the propane tank at Great Grams where our kids used to play as well.

Wednesday arrived too quickly, and Jason and Meghan and family got on their way.  Terri and I loaded up and headed to our land, where we spent the next two weeks.

The driveway leading into our property. Our nephews Seth and Ben used last fall to put in a driveway and parking area for us. It is a circular drive, with a 40′ X 60′ parking area.

Terri was quick to find some nearly ripe wild blackberries.

The bus all parked, and tools ready to go. A lot of weeds to take care of, a lot of fire wood to cut, a fire pit to make, and many other things.

The next two weeks were a whirlwind.  A lot of time on the land, hanging with relatives, attending festivals, a trip up north to Terri’s Aunt and Uncle that we’ve spent the Springs in TX with the last couple of years, a trip to the corn roast near my old school to catch up with friends from long ago, and many other things I’m sure I’ve forgotten.  Here are some shots from the past couple of weeks.

Julie and Terri’s mom supervising us build the fire pit.

They were out first visitors…

Our first fire. We burned at least ten stacks of brush each ten feet high or more. We had the property selectively logged a few years ago, and there are tops everywhere. It will take years to get it all cleaned up.

An evening walk down the road that evening after getting cleaned up. We are at the top of a hill, and it is hard to see how awesome this view of a storm moving in was. Deer and turkeys were out in abundance that night.

One day we took a walk along the boundary of the property so I could make sure all of our markers from our last survey were still in place. Near the bottom of the property, we found this buck rub. Very early in the year for that, so this guy has to be huge.

On the weekend, my brother in law, Rob and I took a drive while the ladies were out shopping. This is on our nephew Seth’s land, installing a culvert to meet the town code for his new driveway so he can start a new house.

Saturday, the 9th was a chalk fest art festival in Wausau. Many talented artists vying for best of show.

A well attended event.

My favorite sketch.

Later that afternoon we headed out to the municipal airport for the hot air balloon and rib fest.

Several folks were selling bi-plane rides.

Having been to the balloon fiesta in Albuquerque several times when we lived there, we decided to eat early, avoid the crowds and leave. These folks were on the news several nights as having the best ribs at the show, but we were not impressed. All in all a great day though!

Pat and Terri spent some time rummaging around in the woods and found an old stove. They took the name plate off and placed it by the fire pit, which is now affectionately called Hazel.

Back to our couch.  Terri found out that there is a person that does upholstery refinishing right near us.  The guy has been in business for over 35 years, and we never new it!  He does not advertise, and says he does not want to, as he has enough work.  He does work for the NFL, NASCAR and general refinishing.  Terri spent the better part of a morning getting our couch taken apart so we could get it out the door of the Coach.

Our couch is called a Jackknife sofa. Here it is in the configuration you would put it in for another bed.

Unbolted from the floor, and ready to take the arms off.

Arms off, and ready to remove from the Coach.  It was a tight fit, but we made it work.  We got the couch to the repair facility just before the rain.  We had a new fabric picked out, and were back on the road in short order.  We will post pics when the new creation is installed.  Of course Terri is now looking at fabric to re-do all of the window valences…

Other than all of the running around, we did get a lot of wood cut.  thanks to Rob for the use of the chainsaw, or we would not have made a dent.

One of many maple trees I cut up that had to be removed for the driveway.

There is a lot of wood laying in those maple saplings. Tops and more tops. there is a lot that we cut that we did not have time to get stacked.

Making some progress.

This stuff will be in perfect shape next year.

Getting higher.

And just like that, our time on our property for this year for the most part was almost done.  On Saturday,  the 16th we headed up to brother in law Craig and Terri’s sister Julie’s cabin on Summit Lake.

We almost timed it right! Craig was installing a new deck in the back yard. it was fun helping him finish it up on a really nice afternoon.

A few railings, and he will be all done. He’s done a great job working on the cabin. siding, paint, re-finished basement. Nice place!!

We took a walk after dinner, and Craig noted the bar his Uncle and Aunt used to run is re-opening. The place has sat empty for many years, so it will take some doing to get it back into shape. Nice to see progress though!

Sunset over Summit Lake.

And just like that, it was Sunday and time to head back to Caledonia by Ashley and family.  We waited out an early thunderstorm and got on the road.  We stopped to re-fuel on the way, dumped the tanks when we got to the camp ground and were all set up to enjoy the evening by 5 on Sunday.  This past week we’ve spent time with Toby, and got to see Emma and Eli on Tuesday.  Toby spent a night with us, and he had hockey on Wednesday, the 20th.  He has made huge strides in his game, and can get up on his own now, which will mean he will be moving up a class.

The past couple of days have been really hot and humid.  It is supposed to cool down tomorrow, thankfully.  We have the Snap On picnic tomorrow, which we attended last year.  What a terrific event that company puts on.  We also washed the Coach yesterday (finally, it was a mess) and Terri spent most of the day organizing and reorganizing the inside.  That has to be done quite often to make sure you are taking advantage of every little nook and cranny.

We stopped at the Racine harbor on the way home from Ashley’s on Monday night, and got this shot of the moon in between the flags.

The blackberries are in great shape this year. We spent a lot of time Wednesday finding what the locals have left behind. Not enough for a pie, but good eats none the less.

From our site looking east last night as we were waiting for a storm to roll in.  The park is fairly empty during the week, but fills up each weekend.

We are the blue dot just above Racine. The weather radio was going nuts, but the bad stuff missed us. A lot of wind and some rain, but not as bad as the folks to the southwest of us received.

Well, that about sums up this past month.  We will be here until the 31st of August (with a few trips here and there,) then will be heading way up in northern WI on the 31st to attend a wedding for the son of one of our great friends.  We will also be joined there by Ashley and family, as well as Terri’s sister’s family.  It should be a great time!

Until next time, as always, we hope this finds you Happy, Healthy and Living Your Dreams!!!



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