Two Harbors

July 24 – 29, 2016, Two Harbors, Minnesota

It was time for us to pull up stakes in the Up and head on over to Minnesota  to meet up with some work mates of Guys from Seagate Technology, where Guy worked for 30 years.. We still had a few days before we met up with everyone, we wanted to finish our tour along the US side of Lake Superior so we headed up to Two Harbors, MN.

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Driving along Hwy 26 we were amazed at the destruction that was caused by the storm we had experienced as we were leaving Newberry, MI.

SPA_2925.jpgWe had skirted the storm on our drive and did not experience the full brunt of it, and that is what is called Divine Intervention. The drive from Houghton was over 5 hours, the trees were uprooted or broken in half the whole way to Two Harbor, MN.

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We found a great little private campground, Penmarallter Camp, it is privately owned  with only 24 pull thru sites, the sites are very spacious, most have water and electric, with campfire pits. The owners have owned the campground for over 20 years and had purchased it from their parents. They live on the property, sell firewood, will pump tanks once a week, and help plan your trip while you are there. (sorry no pictures)

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The road that follows along the coast of Lake Superior will take you up into Canada, and will take you around the Canadian side of Lake Superior. We drove up to Grand Marais, Mn (yes, its the same name as in Michigan).

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Along this coast are many areas that produce and ship iron ore on big barges. Taconite or iron ore is low-grade iron that is used to make pellets. These pellets are shipped to blast furnaces on the lower Great lakes to make steel. The area ships over 10,000,000 tons of taconite or iron ore annually.

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There are 6 steel docks and over 1,300 feet long and abut seven stories tall. There are 112 pockets on each dock, trains full of taconite or iron ore, move along the top of the dock and pour the iron into hoppers, which drop the ore into the full of the boats.

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One of the barges that move iron ore

Besides the 6 docks for iron ore there were two that were used for freight, coal and wood shipping. At one time there were up to 75 ships using the bay.

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The Edna G. tugboat, was the last steam driven tugboat in operation on the Great Lakes, it was retired in 1881. The tug was used to help bring boats to the docks, move boats around from dock to dock, and to assist in life saving efforts.

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The Two Harbors light Station was built in 1892, it was built to improve the safety of the barges carrying the ore. The light is still active and operates 24 hrs a day, it is almost 80 feet above lake levels.

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Not long after we left Two Harbors we came to a turnout with lots of cars, with cars comes something fun…a beautiful river, Temperance River. The water was flowing thru the rocks that looked liked years of water had eroded the rocks.

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There is a bridge we were able to walk out to where the river then emptied into Lake Superior.

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We found many rivers and light houses along our tour of this area, we stopped at Gooseberry Falls State Park, where we hiked up along the Gooseberry River, to the Fifth Falls up thru rocky gorge where the water flows over a series of 30′ waterfalls with the last that plunges 60 feet to the last pool and then into Lake Superior. There is also lots of lava flow that can also be seen along the coast of Lake superior.

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Split Rock Lighthouse State Park was built due to a storm in 1905 which 6 ships wrecked within a dozen miles of the Split Rock River. The light was used for 59 years, today it is open to the public. Major logging operations were conducted at the mouth of Split Rock River, the forest at that time was predominantly red and white pine. Today you will find birch, spruce, fir, ash and lowland brush and marsh that replace the pines.

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On our last day in the area we decided to drive down to Duluth, MN to see what there was in town, but we never made it, we found the scenic route and drove it. The road started out as a nice paved road, but turned into a dirt road. The views were fantastic of the lake and the skyline of the city.

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When we got to the best viewing area we found a nature walk along the top of the hill, Guy took the walk as we had LaciLou and did not think if there were animals that it would be good having her with us. It was too hot to leave her in the car so I stayed behind and took pictures of the wild flowers that were in bloom and the city skyline.

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The next thing I know Guy is calling me from up the hill wanting me to bring the camera as he had found something he wanted a picture of!! Putting Lacilou in the truck off I went not sure what to expect, and this was what he found, a discarded snake skin. It was all intact, even where the eyes had been, we moved the tail so I could take a picture.

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As we kept driving we came upon another waterfall, when we stopped we could hear lots of laughing and yelling. We took the trail down towards the noise and were so surprised to see a large swimming hole at the bottom of the waterfall. They were jumping from about 15-20′ off the rocks. Some of the kids were a little scared to jump so the others were egging them on.

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Our journey ended not to far from our campsite, that made our decision on whether  we wanted to go back to the city, the vote was “no”. But we made our last stop along the lake for my final pictures of this beautiful coastline.

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We leave this beautiful Lake Superior and head on down to Minneapolis, where we will camp at Dakota Meadows, right by the Mystic River Indian Casino. We could see the top of the casino and the flashing lighted sign. Luckily Guy and I are not thrilled with gambling and just throwing money away. So no the place did not get any of our money. We thought we would not go over but late on Sunday we didn’t have anything to do so took the free bus over, we walked in, yup, just what we thought, cigarette smoke. We took one walk around and went back out to the bus.

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The first afternoon we arrived our friends, Adam and Sarah came over with their daughter and her friend, bringing beer and a wonderful bottle of wine!! Thank you Adam and Sarah! The conversation never stopped, it was so great catching up with them catching up with Seagate stuff and our life on the road. The girls loved being in the coach and watching tv. We hope that some day we see them both out here on the road with us.

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Later that night off we went to Jim and Renee’s hours for dinner. They have a beautiful house on a small lake with trees and rabbits all around. They also have a beautiful view of some of the city buildings. Jim fixed lamb chops on the bbq, they were wonderful, little did Jim know that lamb is my all time favorite. The conversation went on for hours, it was so wonderful to catch up with them.

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Jim and Renee also had a get together at their home with other past Seagate friends that we hadn’t seen in so long. It was great seeing everyone, and telling stories about things work related. We have also made plans to be in Arizona in November with some of them as they move there for the winter. (I can’t believe I did not take any pictures of anyone nor Jim and Rene’s home.)

We are now heading west towards Sth Dakota and the Yellowstone, Grand Teton area, so come along and tour the area with us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Houghton, MI

July 21-24 Houghton, Michigan

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Looking down towards Houghton, Mi

The 5 hour trip to Houghton, MI was very uneventful, no rain or wind, which we had expected as that is what the weather was saying it would be. When we arrived at our campsite right along Portage Lake in the Keweenaw Peninsula, we could not check in as the electricity was out for approximately 200 miles. This was all caused by the storm that had come thru earlier, they were saying that possibly the winds were 70-75 miles per hour with even a possible tornado had touched down.

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Our home on wheels, you can nearly see Guy strumming the banjo.

We did not see the effects of the storm until we went out and started driving around. The area had numerous trees and electric poles and lines down. That makes us even more glad we have solar, it also helped that temps were in the 70’s.

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our view in each direction

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This area of MI is known as Copper Territory, which has three copper mines on the peninsula, Calumet &Hecla, Quincy and Copper Range.

As we started our trip out into the peninsular we found this wonderful waterfall and bridge, Eagle River Falls and Historic Bridge, that we just had to stop for.

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The 47 mile highway is called Copper County Trail National Byway (US Hwy 41) and goes from Houghton out to Copper Harbor (the end of the hwy) and follows the copper lode that lies deep underground.

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The beginning of US Highway 41 started in Copper, MI it goes thru 8 states, MI, WI, ILL, IND, KY, TN, GA and ends 1990 miles away in Miami, FL. We found this sign as we were looking for a road out to the lighthouse.

We found this sign to be quite interesting, and now we know we will never have a desire to live any where near this area. The nice thing about us is we can now just pick up and move if we don’t like the weather.

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The winter of 1978-79 the record snowfall was a total of 390.4 inches, which is at the top of the red line. This is a record for the east of the Rockies. This sign says that the 54 year average is 2408 inches, the all time low was in 1999-2000 was 16.11 inches. The red arrow shows the snowfall for 2015 at just under 20″.

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The drive along the Copper County Trail has many scenic loops thru smelting and stamp mill sites, former mining communities, as well as sandstone.

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The forest along the way is very dense with a view of the rugged coast, there are many small lakes, and the largest known lava flow on earth.

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We took these pictures on our drive, it looks nice and inviting but when we got out to walk around it was so windy and cold, we didn’t stand out there to long.

While driving along the coast road we were looking for a place to have lunch, well we found one, The Gay Bar, in Gay, MI. We went in but it was way to busy so we decided to leave.

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The Gay Bar

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Copper rock

Guy and I decided to visit the Quincy Mine, the copper mines started in the mid 1800’s, many mines sprang up along the peninsula, the mines closed after 100 years of operation. The mine has a self guided tour thru buildings with one building that has a very informative video, we took a tour thru the mine itself on a tram down 7 stories into the workings of the mine. Before we could go down we needed to pick out a fireman jacket and hard hat. It was only 45 degrees, wet and muddy.

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There are 10 lighthouses along the coast of the peninsular, we visited 1, Eagle River Lighthouse and then could only view Copper Harbor Lighthouse from across the lake.

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The town of Houghton has everything you would ever need, the town still consists of lots of old brick buildings. We found a great place for lunch, Ambassador Restaurant, right on the water, where we could watch the boats and jet skis, zooming up and down the lake, there were also people taking a leisure stroll along the walkway. This was a very old brick building but the inside was so awesome.

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We ordered a pizza that was one of the best we have had, thin crust, pineapple, sausage, pepperoni. A little vino and beer and the afternoon turns relaxing! We sit on our deck, Guy plays his banjo, I try to write a blog but there are to many boats on the water to watch, my attention span is short.

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We travel with our bikes on the back of our pickup truck, they get beat up so bad with all the weather, sun and rain. I have not been able to shift gears for a few months so it has not been much fun riding. Guy had taken it to an Amish family while we were in Indiana, they oiled and cleaned it and tried to fix the shifting but that did not work. While walking thru Houghton we found a bike shop that could work on it right then, we luckily had the bike with us and within 1/2 hour they were calling to tell us it was done. I haven’t ridden it yet and so not sure how good it works, looking forward to some bike riding soon.

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Well our few days in Houghton has come to an end and now we head on over to Two Harbors, Minnesota. We will eventually end up in Minneapolis to visit with Guys work mates. We will be staying at the Mystic Lake Casino at their campground, Dakota Meadows. Who wants to know if we won or lost?

Well come on back to find out who won and check out how much fun we have with our fellow Seagaters!!

Rocks, Rocks and More Rocks

July 15-21, 2016 Munising, Michigan

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Pictured Rocks

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Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore stretches 42 miles, between Munising and Grand Marais along Lake Superior. Pictured Rocks is famous for its rugged shoreline, towering 50 to 200’ high, of multicolored sandstone cliffs, massive sand dunes, waterfalls, and beaches.

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We started our boat tour from Munising, MI, the tour was 32 miles round trip, there were many points of interest, Lover Leap, Indian Head, Miners Castle and Chapel Rock, battleship Rock and Spray falls, which flows 70’ down into Lake Superior. The weather was great, about 75, sunny, with a little wind.

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The sandstone is stained by the minerals in the groundwater. The color occurs when the groundwater seeps into the cracks and down the rock face, Iron (red and orange0, copper (blue and green), manganese (brown and black), limonite (white).

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There are several shipwreck sites in the area. The Bermuda, 145’ schooner is only 30’ underwater and intact, the steamer Smith Moore sank after it collided with another ship in 1889 and is mostly intact and upright in 95’ of water they both can be viewed by glass bottom boat, or scuba diving.

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Sea caves about 20’ underwater can be explored by scuba diving, they are under cliffs that the sandstone has been eroded by waves.

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There are many ways to experience viewing the rocks such as; kayaking, renting a pontoon boat or catamaran. We decided to go on the catamaran with a hundred other people!! We will warn anyone that plans on going, sit up top, but towards the back of the boat, up front the top of the boat is high, making it hard to see over. Also, I suggest getting to the boat loading zone at least 1/2 hr to 45 mins early as the line gets very long and chances are you won’t sit together.

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It was a pretty warm and sunny day, the water was so clear and blue, and lucky us no wind which means no choppy water!! The rocks were magnificent, we were amazed at the height of the rock formations as well as the colors running thru.

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East Channel Lighthouse was activated in 1868, it is no longer a working lighthouse and is located on Grand Island. It is constructed of brick and wood.

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It was time to head out to Houghton, MI after a wonderful week in Newberry, as we were packing up we could see it was going to be some nasty weather, the clouds were dark and menacing. A few people that we had been talking to in the campground came over to say good bye but also talk about driving in the wind and rain.

There is one rule we broke as we were hooking the truck to the coach, we started talking to neighbors, when that happens mistakes are made or you forget what you were doing. There is a procedure we follow, but that day it wasn’t to be. When we got almost 1/2 way to Houghton, we did our normal stop to check out around the coach and truck, well we found out we had forgotten to connect the most important electrical plug. That means we had been without lights or turn signals. The cable had also been dragging on the ground and was now totally ruined. Darn, as we had just gotten this new cable as the old one was frayed. This time we ordered 2 new cables, just in case.

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We had not even left the campground and it started pouring, we were second guessing our decision as we listened to the radio and heard about all the wind damage and flooding that was going on in the direction we were headed. After awhile the rain stopped, and lucky us we never had rain again the rest of our trip that day.

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The Nomads!!

We arrive safely in Houghton, but come on back and check out Houghton, MI with us and find out about the copper in the area.

Daddy, Mommy and Baby Bears

July 15 – 21, 2016 Newberry, Michigan

This little town of Newberry, MI is the perfect location to visit all the wonderful sites while in the area. The weather had been beautiful, low humidity, 78-80 degrees, light winds, we were loving the cool temps and then we wake up to the sound of rain, thunder and lightening!! It sure didn’t stop us tho…off we went with our umbrellas.

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Since we missed out on our trip to Alaska this summer, I felt we missed seeing bears….so I happened to read a brochure that right down the street was…Oswalds Bear Ranch. It’s not the same as seeing them in the wild, still it was fun watching them play and chase each other. In fact, they stayed very close to the fence waiting for someone to throw apple pieces that you may purchase.

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Dean Oswald and his family have been raising rescued black bears, since 1984 and has opened his 160 acre ranch to the bears and the pubic. Once a bear has been rescued they will live the rest of their lives at the Ranch, the average lifespan for a bear is 25 to 30 years.

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The ranch has four natural habitats, with trees, fresh running, water which is used for drinking and swimming. There are sleeping areas or dens that have been made but most of the bears prefer to dig their own.

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The habitats have 10’ outer fence with a shorter interior fence which is equipped with a mild electric shock system which allows the bears freedom to roam. Two habitats with 1/2 and 1/3 mile perimeter and 2 smaller habitats with 1/4 mile perimeter. There are wooden platforms at all habitats to enable visitors to view the bears without the fence in the way.

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There are 31 black bears located at the habitat now with half males and half females, they are kept in separate habitats. The yearlings have their own habitat as well as the babies. The babies are kept in the Oswald home during the winter and moved into the habitat when the weather warms up. They feed the cubs canned milk, rice cereal, yogurt and eggs, the cubs feed about every 4 hours.

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When we arrived at the KOA we were told we could ride our side x side buggy on any road as long as the number of the road did not start with an M!!

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First thing we did was head to the forestry service to see if they had off road maps of the area and buy the road permit of $30.00 (we ended up not getting the permit). There are many dirt roads in the UP that we could ride the side x side buggy, that was exciting to hear.

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We decided to head out on a few of the dirt roads in the truck, the area was beautiful, we found a few out of the way, quiet lakes, lots of trees, ferns and wildflowers, small campsites. We almost got stuck in the mud out in the middle of nowhere as we were trying to get closer to a small lake. We did decide not to take the buggy out since we could take the truck on all the back roads.

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The coast of Michigan on Lake Superior is absolutely beautiful, it is the largest freshwater lake in the world and holds 10% of the world’s surface fresh water. There are 31,700 sq miles of surface area to this lake, it expands from Michigan into Ontario, Canada. The Circle Route with a 1,300 mile road goes around the lake thru Michigan and up into Ontario, Canada.

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We headed up to Grand Marais by way of the shoreline and were pleasantly surprised at how much history and beauty there was along the way. There were walking and hiking trails, Grand Sable Dunes, Sable Falls, Log Slide Overlook, Au Sable Lighthouse. We didn’t want to miss a thing and stopped at all the turnouts to check it out.

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The Grand Sable Dunes are 5 sq miles atop of the 300’ banks. There was a Log Slide which was used for lumber that was sent down a 300’ wooden chute to the lake below, some say that there was so much friction that the chute would catch fire. The logs were hauled to the chute by teams of horses, then the logs are slid down a dry chute into Lake Superior, where the logs are then moved on to large rafts. The rafts were towed by boat to the Grand Marais sawmills.

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Grand Marais is French for “big marsh” which is puzzling as there are no marshes there. The Chippewa Indians fished along the shoreline for many years before the settlers in the 1860s. Grand Marais boomed as a lumber town between 1885 and 1910. By 1911 the boom was over, the population dropped from 3,000 down to 200.

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A cool burl found on our hike

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Sable Falls

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The Pickle Barrel House is located in Grand Marais, it was designed as a vacation cottage for the creator of the cartoon story, The Teenie Weenie.

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The main barrel contained a living area of the first floor, bedroom on the second, the kitchen was in a smaller, in the single story connected to the big barrel. I have to admit I had no clue this was a museum, I thought we  would be able to buy pickles!! It was closed when we stopped but had a sign outside explaining all about the history.

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Pickle Barrel Garden

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As we were driving around the town we came to the Maritime Museum, it was closed due to renovations. We walked out to the beach and tried to walk to the end of the seawall,but the waves were coming up and splashing, the water was way to cold for us, so we ended up turning around.

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Looking back towards town

This ended our tour to Grand Marais but come on back to see thru our eyes our catamaran trip to Pictured Rocks. AWESOME

Wild Flowers, Waterfalls, Piping Plovers

July 14 – 21, 2016

We finally landed at the KOA in Newberry, MI, a day later than we planned, it was only a 2 hour drive from Mackinaw, but because of those pesky reservations, we drove 2 hours past to Indian Lake, Manistique, MI. The KOA could not fit us in the night we needed, so I looked for a place for one night that would be close by the KOA!! Well, I called the wrong campground, which is why it took us the extra 2 hours.

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After we arrived and got settled in at Indian Lake Campground, Guy and I walked around to check it out, we liked it so much we wanted to stay a few more days. The lake was beautiful, as was the campsite we had that was looking right at the lake.

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We were so excited to be in the UP and were even more excited that after all we heard and read about the UP, it was just what we were hoping, it was so thick with trees and vegetation, wild flowers everywhere. There were no big shopping malls, housing tracts, or walmarts.

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So many people had told us we would be carried away by the mosquitos and that they were as big as birds. While shopping before going to MI, I had stocked up on bug spray, I am happy to report we did not even need take it out of the cupboard as we had absolutely no mosquitos!!!

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We had a big list of things we wanted to do and see while we were in this area and were not sure which to do first

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Tahquamenon Falls State Park is the second largest park of Michigans state parks. It borders on Lake Superior and follows the Tahquamenon River. Much of the park is undeveloped but has more than 22 miles of hiking trails.

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The first thing we did was head up to Tahquamenon Falls, which are in the Tahquamenon Falls State Park they are 50’ tall and over 200’ across. The river originates abut 70 miles upstream from the upper and lower falls. The day we were there the upper falls had 3,356 gallons per second of water running over the edge and into the river below. The water has a brownish hue to it which is caused by the tannins, from organic vegetation found in the cedar, hemlock and spruce forest.

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The day was a beautiful one, temps about 80, there was a great walkway out to the falls and along the river. There were platforms with many different areas to view the falls along the way. It being summer there were many people all trying to take pictures and view the falls, with many tourist buses dropping off visitors as well.

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The peak period of water flow is April, when the warm temps melt the snow producing millions of gallons of water flow. In May 1960, there was a record water flow of 52,228 gallons per sec.

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The lower falls, which is about 5 miles from the upper falls, has 5 ledges with a series of smaller falls, ranging in height from 8 to 12’. There is a small lake at the lower falls where you are able to rent paddle boats and row boats.

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There were numerous young kids and adults playing in the falls and walking on the rocks. The water was flowing pretty fast and one false move someone would get pretty hurt. It was a little nerve wracking watching and hoping no one fell in and floated down the falls.

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With all sightseeing trips a little lunch is always involved, after leaving the waterfalls we headed to Whitefish Point Lighthouse. We weren’t sure about where to eat but found Brown’s Fisheries Fish House in Paradise. We each had whitefish and fries which we both thought was very good. Later, I heard from Gayle, (whose blog I read and has eaten there)said that it’s the best place to eat.

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Whitefish Point Lighthouse and Great Lake Shipwreck Museum is in the Upper Peninsula of MI and is the oldest operating lighthouse on Lake Superior. All vessels entering and leaving Lake Superior must pass this light.

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The waters at this point are the most treacherous on the southern shoreline of Lake Superior. This area is known as the “Graveyard of the Great Lakes”.

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The museum told of the many ships that have been submerged on Lake Superior, from winds in excess of 90mph, fog, 30’ waves, snowstorms or boat wrecks. There have been 6000 ships lost on Lake Superior, the most famous is the Edmund Fitzgerald, which sunk in 1975.

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The Fitzgerald, lies twisted and broken just 17 miles from Whitefish Point at a depth of 535, with all of the people that were on board in November 1976. The museum has the ships bell on display, the rest of the ship is still underwater.

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Whitefish point Bird Observatory, is a wildlife refuge, research and education facility for migratory birds. There is a wooden walkway that we used to observe the wildlife and migrating birds, including eagles, goshawks, geese, falcons, hawks and owls, which we didn’t see.

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Piping Plover

The one any only animal we saw, was a Piping Plover. The piping plovers are now back nesting at Whitefish point after an absence of 23 years, they have been nesting for the last 4 years. The piping plover is in danger of extinction, the shores of Lake Superior provide the best habitat for them.

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We drove around a few of the dirt roads out along the coast around the lighthouse and found a little marina, there were mostly fishing boats. We found a real old boat we thought could maybe be fixed up! ha ha

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That ends the first fews day we spent in the Newberry area, come on back to see the Pictured Rocks on the Shores of Lake Superior thru our eyes.

 

 

Mackinac Island

July 10, 2016

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The view from the mainland over to Mackinac Island

While walking thru Mackinaw Mill Campground which is situated on Lake Heron across from Mackinaw Island, we knew we wanted to take our bikes and check out the island. They do have bike rentals there, since we had ours we decided to take them as the boats have an area for them.  Mackinac Island is a resort area, covering 3.8 square miles, in the state of Michigan. SPA_2075

The only way over to the island is by Star Line Hydro-Jet Ferry service which produces a unique Water-Jet rooster tail. There are certain times in the day that the ferry goes under the bridge, we made plans to get on one.

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The Mackinac Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Straits of Mackinac to connect the Upper and Lower peninsula of Michigan.

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The bridge opened in 1957, the 26,372-foot bridge, known as “Big Mac” and “Mighty Mac” is the world’s 17th-longest main span and the longest suspension bridge. It connects the city of St. Ignace on the north end with the village of Mackinaw City on the south. It is a toll bridge, $2.00 per axel, not bad for our truck but when we added The Rover, a grand total of $19.00.

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The road in town goes around the island, the first thing that we did was hop on our bikes and ride. We like to get the feel of where we are before we choose what to do. The ride is a little over 3 miles and was such an easy ride, we did stop a lot just so I could take pictures!

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Even LaciLou was having a great time riding in the basket of my bike

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The main street in town, has many shops, there are many fudge factories up and down the street, there is also a second street with a few shops and lots more fudge. The shops are mostly selling sweatshirts, teeshirts, coffee mugs and fudge. We didn’t go into any except one fudge store, yes, we bought some, orange chocolate, german chocolate and walnut chocolate. It was very sweet and a little gritty!! We were a little disappointed as we were hoping it would be awesome..

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Mackinac Island became one of the nation’s favored summer resort destinations during the Victorian era. Vacationers arrived in large lake excursion boats from Buffalo, Cleveland, Chicago and Detroit seeking the cooler weather on Mackinac Island. They danced to Strauss’ waltzes, listened to Sousa’s stirring marches, dined on whitefish and strolled along the broad decks. To accommodate overnight guests, boat and railroad companies financed the building of Grand Hotel.

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waiting in line for riders

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touring the city by buggy

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delivering flowers to the hotel

One of the most noticeable differences on Mackinac Island, which is accessible only by boat or plane, is the absence of automobiles. Visitors and residents travel by foot, bicycle or horse-drawn carriage, and during the summer, there are more than 500 horses. I will say one thing, you need a gas mask as it sure does stink, with that many horses linning the streets, you can just use your imagination. There are only 600 year-round residents with more than one million people that visit Mackinac Island each year.

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Guy and I, with LaciLou up at Fort Mackinac. We had lunch up on the hill at the Fort on the deck looking out at this marvelous view of the city of Mackinac. We walked around the fort but for some reason I didn’t take pictures.

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Fort Mackinac from the boat

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view from the fort

In 1715, French soldiers constructed Fort Michilimackinac in Mackinaw City, which the soldiers burned when they decided to move the fort to the Island in 1781. It was here fur traders and Indians rendezvoused, French and British officers organized war parties and explorers began their journeys into the vast western unknown.

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the street side of the Grand Hotel

At 660 feet, Grand Hotel’s Front Porch is the world’s largest, and is visible as you approach the island from the Straits of Mackinac. It cost $10.00 each to enter the grounds of the hotel and to go on the Front Porch. We were stopped just as we tried to take a picture, asking if we were wanting to go on the porch. We opted out!  More than 130,000 overnight guests stay at Grand Hotel each season. The 5,000,000th guest in Grand Hotel checked in on June 26, 2006.

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the back porch of the Grand Hotel

It takes 500,000 gallons of water to fill Grand Hotel’s swimming pool, which was named for actress Esther Williams who starred in the 1947 movie This Time for Keeps, shot at Grand Hotel. The 1980 film Somewhere in Time, starring Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour and Christopher Plummer, was filmed on location at Grand Hotel. The movie now has a huge following, with a fan club that meets at Grand Hotel each October.

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The flowers and grounds of the hotel were spectacular from what we could see. One ton of bulbs are planted in the fall, including 25,000 tulips and 15,000 daffodils. More than 125,000 bedding plants (annuals) are used to create the many gardens on Grand Hotel grounds. The Grand’s famous Front Porch flowers include 2,500 geraniums-the hotel’s trademark flower-in 260 planting boxes with seven tons of potting soil. More than 5,200 geraniums can be seen in all its flower beds combined.

Below are some of the beautiful houses that are in the small town. Most have been converted into a bed and breakfast.

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This is “The Little Stone Church”

I just had to add pictures of the wonderful garden and house on the back street. Everywhere you went in this little town flowers were blooming and the grass was so green and lush.

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We are so glad to have experienced this quaint island, the houses, horses, scenery and the atmosphere were wonderful.

Thanks for coming on my tour of Mackinac Island, I hope you enjoyed it.

The Nomads are headed to the UP of Michigan next, so come along with us and check out this marvelous part of our country.

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Fort and Lighthouse

July 10, 2016

The summer months are very busy times for the campgrounds in Michigan, since it’s  such a short season, the campgrounds start taking reservations in January, which fill pretty fast. I knew it would probably be hard finding places to stay and I was right. There are numerous web sites I use to find campsites, Passport America, KOA, Good Sam, Ultimate Free, Campendium, Big Rigs, Allstays, just to name a few.

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The road heading to our campsite Mill Creek Campground

Just on a whim, I put in private campgrounds in Lansing, Mi, we try to only drive 200 -250 miles a day, so Lansing, Mi was far enough, I  found several places, but of course, they were full, one camp host gave me the name of a park about (30miles) away from them. It turned out to be great tip, as they did have a site, it was basically full of locals wondering how we found them. There was a little lake, paddle boats, and fishing. The best part was watching the numerous men on golf carts following Guy around until he got to our site, then they all wanted to help him park, there were men on all sides of the coach trying to tell Guy which way to turn. Poor Guy! Lacy and I watched from the safety of the truck. I normally am directing him but this was a very tight back in area with lots of trees and a cross street, the site was nice and large just hard to back into.

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Firepits for campers without lake sites

No sooner did we get our sides out and the inside put together, there was a knock on the door, a neighbor wanted us to come over for an adult beverage!! Well, it was that time of the day, we ended staying there until way past the dinner hour. It was great fun chatting, more neighbors came by while we were there, seems like everyone knows each other as most stay there all summer. One other draw was the buggy on top of the truck, wanting to know how do we get it up there!!

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Mackinaw Bridge

What a small world this is as one of the couples, Terry and Denise, winter in Bullhead City, AZ where we spent the winter last year at my sisters house. We made plans to meet up with them when we get back there this year. (I did not take a single picture of the campground nor all of our new friends.)

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A great dog area and picnic area with fire pits at the Mill Creek Campground

For as long as I can remember I have heard of a little place called “Mackinac Island”  the only way to get there was by boat, everyone on the island gets around by bike or horse and buggy. This has been on my bucket list and I knew when we went full time we would be able to head in that direction and we were close enough to head that way.

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View from Mackinaw to the Mackinac Island

We were lucky to get reservations at the Mackinaw Mill Creek Campground but only for 4 days, it was great that they had a cancelation. This campground is right on Lake Heron, you can see the Mackinaw Bridge that connects the mainland with the UP, we could see Mackinac Island from the camp.

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This campground has over 1,000 camp sites, sounds like a lot but whats nice about this is the sites are well separated, tents are at one end away from the rvs, smaller trailers in another area, larger rvs off by themselves, (we got lost trying to find our site). The beach sites are pretty close together and not something Guy and I would want to stay at. Not all sites in the park have full hook ups except the rv area.

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Our campsite Mill Creek Campground/full hookups

Our site was on the second row right behind the beach sites we even had a pretty good view of the Lake. The park has plenty of walking and bike riding, there is a small pool, a small store.

The first thing we always do when arriving in a new town is drive thru to find out what it’s like, since it’s a travel day and I usually don’t cook on that day, we look for a place to eat. Driving thru and ending at the lake was a great surprise as we found the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse and park. That just made our decision on what we would do the next day!!

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Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse

The Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse is at the turning point for ships making the difficult passage through the Staits of Mackinac, one of the busiest crossroads of the Great Lakes. This lighthouse went into operation on November 5, 1890. Construction of the light tower and the attached keepers dwelling was first lighted on October 25, 1892. The light was visible to ships 16 miles away and was in operation until 1958.

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The straits are narrow with dangerous shoals submerged along the side. Fog, swift currents and ice have claimed over 10,000 ships.

As we were at the lighthouse we noticed signs about Colonial Village, being of the curious nature we decided to go check it out and since we could walk there from the lighthouse, why not!!

Fort Michilimackinac, is one of hundreds of colonial settlements built in North America, the fort served as a fur trade center, an embassy to the Native American, and a military base for both the French and British. The fort was also used for exploration and military expeditions.

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The entrance to the Mackinaw Fort

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doing a cooking demonstration, green beans grown there in the garden, whitefish caught in Lake Heron

There were many people dressed in period clothes throughtout the fort explaining how each building was used and the every day life of the settlers, military and Indians.

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The ruins of the fort and the village have remained undisturbed, until archaeologists  excavated non-stop every summer since 1959. It is the longest ongoing archaeological site in the US.

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While we were at the Fort they told of the sawmill that was used to help with the lumber for building the fort.

The Old Mill Creek sawmill was not to far from town so we decided to go check it out. The sawmill turned out to be a pretty interesting place, they  had also recreated a home and store house.

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In 1780 the British at Fort Michilimackinac moved the fort over to Mackinac Island as a safer location during the American Revolution.

Fort Michillimakinac was burned to the ground by the British once they moved to the island.

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The sawmill was built to furnish lumber for the new fort and settlement on the island. The sawmill and dam were one of the earliest industries in Northern Michigan, and soon a grist mill, orchard, blacksmith shop and a warehouse were added.

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By 1867 the buildings were gone and the site had fallen into disrepair, in 1975 the site was recreated and made into a working sawmill and opened to the public.

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When we had checked into the campground they sold us our boat tickets to the island. The campground has a free bus and trailer (to haul the bikes) that will take you to where the boat leaves for the island.

Our next day will be heading in that direction. So come on back and check out all about the Mackinac Island.

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Finally Free!!

July 1, 2016

Independence Day was coming fast, we were not sure what to do, we didn’t have reservations anywhere, the campground we tried to stay at were full!! The vacationers were way ahead of us as they had made their reservations way earlier than us. We were pleasantly surprised that the campground in Shipshewana had an opening for us, we still not sure if the coach would be able to travel anywhere due to the painting that needed to be done. Our coach was hit with a piece of metal that was thrown 20′ in the air by a lawn mower back in Birmingham, Al it hit the coach in 3 different areas thru the paint and jell coat down into the wood. There also was a screw working its way loose thru the paint and jell coat from our bedroom slide, every time we moved the slide it would remove paint off as the screw worked its way out.

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The painter, that worked on the coach was going to take a few days off over the 4th holiday and a few days after, his work is excellent, he had finished the area where the metal hit the side, but still needed to do the other slide with the screw, it takes a good two days to finish up a paint job and it was already Wednesday!! yikes!! He and Guy decided that it was way to late to start and finish by Friday, so they made the decision that we would need to come back the next week when the painter returned on Thursday.

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It was a good thing I had made reservations, so off we went back to Shipshewana, very glad not to be spending the Independence Holiday in the temporary, dusty and dirty parking lot of the service factory.  (The next ween when we arrived back at factory lot we were pleasantly surprised to see that the new RV parking lot was paved and the electrical lines were almost ready to be connected. The facility will be so nice when it is completed, we have heard there will be a new waiting room, internet, laundry, showers with bathrooms and if I heard right there will be a small restaurant.)

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Amish family shopping at the flea market

There is a great museum in Shipshewana called Menno-Hof which explains the Amish and Mennonite way of life and how they arrived in the states. We found it to be a great source of information, spending 3 hours reading and checking it out. Menno-Hof is a very informative center that was built by Amish and Mennonite carpenters in the shape of a barn. The building uses exhibits, and audiovisual presentations to give an overview of the Amish and Mennonite history and traditions.

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It was built due to the many visitors who come to Shipshewana asking many questions about the lives and customs of the Amish. There is also the Heritage trail that will take you throughout the towns of Goshen, Elkhart, Bristol, and Middlebury where you will find Amish shops, inns, bakeries and restaurants.

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Touring thru the areas, you will see quilt gardens that bloom during the spring and summer months, they are designed with different versions of traditional quilt blocks.  It was hard getting pictures of them, Cori and I even stood on top of the truck trying, but this is the best we got.

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South Creek Vineyards

Through out the area you will run across barns with quilt blocks hanging either above the door or on the sided of the barn.

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Shipshewana and the surrounding area is Amish country, travel by horse and buggy or bike are the prominent modes of transportation for the Amish.

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The Amish way of life is largely unchanged since they settled here 200 years ago. Their life is one of humility, modesty, obedience, equality and simplicity. Family is the most important social unit among the Amish, there can be seven to ten children per family. Four out of five choose to become baptized and remain in the church. Several generations live under the same roof, older family members are respected and cared for by the family.

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Amish women wear plain, solid colored dresses, with long sleeves, full skirts and an apron. The dress signifies faith, purity and social separation from the world. Women do not cut their hair but wear it in a bun on the back of their head, white or black bonnets are worn over their bun.

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Amish men wear solid shirts, suspenders, black socks and shoes, trousers without buttons. Men do not wear mustaches but do wear beards. Years ago a mustache was a thing of vanity for military men, there is not to be any vanity with the Amish. Men also wear either a straw hat or a black felt hat. Boys will sometime wear toboggans.

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German is spoken in the home and with each other, English is spoken out with the public. The Amish have a taboo on electricity which prevents secular influences from intruding into the home. They do use pressurized gas and have gas lanterns on their walls, as well as operateing stoves, water heaters and refrigerators.

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Children are home schooled, then between the ages of 16 – 21 which is the time before maturity and Baptism, they have the opportunity to diverge from custom which is called, Rumspringa, some participate in rebellious behavior by wearing non-traditional clothing, driving vehicles, not attending home prayer, drinking or using other recreational drugs. Not all youth diverge from their customs. It ends when a youth chooses baptism. Almost 90% of Amish teenage choose to be baptized and join the Amish church.

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The Ten Commandments were on the side of the barn across from the campground we were staying in.

As we were sitting around one night talking about things we needed to do, JoLinda came up with  “The Blue Gate Theatre”. They were presenting a play called  “The Home Game”,  Guy and JoLinda grabbed their phones got online ordered tickets and we were set to go all in the course of 10 mins.

The story is about an Amish boy with an amazing fastball who must choose between his father’s expectations of an Amish life for him and his own deepest dreams of becoming a baseball player. The play was well worth the time and money. We all totally enjoyed it.

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When the Blue Gate Theater and Restaurant opened it had 50 seats and one dining room. Over the years it grew to 105 seats and two dining rooms, but it was never big enough to accommodate the number of people who wanted to eat there or go to the theater. After 20 years the old Blue Gate was torn down and a new state-of-the-art facility was erected. The new Blue Gate Restaurant has 1200 seats, 9 dining rooms, a fully-functioning bakery and the theatre. The theater puts on numerous plays through out the year as well as musicians that perform, Diamond Rio, Oak Ridge Boys.

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Elkhart was having a Jazz festival, on Saturday, so off we went to listen and just enjoy the day. We were a bit surprised to find out that it was a high school band  performing when we arrived, they really were very good. I think later in the night there were other performers slated to play but the sun wore us out and we left early.

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There were two stages at each end of the street, vendors in between selling anything from food to clothes. It day turned out to be very hot and sunny, the chairs were all lined up down the middle of the street with the sun beating down. We snagged a few of the chairs and tried sitting them by a wall that had morning shade but as the day went on the sun of course does what…moves.

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                            These guys and a few more were all over town

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Loved some of the buildings in this cute little town.

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There were also murals painted on some of the buildings.

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The second stage was blocked off with fencing, inside were tables and a bar, you could pay to enter and be waited on or stand outside the fence.  While we were there we never saw a band play on this stage.

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Guess what else they had in the middle of the street…yup, another car show..This was   put on by the Classic Car Club.

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What is a classic car? It is defined as a fine or unusual motor car which was built between 1925 thru 1948. They were usually quite expensive when new with relatively low production figures. The custom coach work and luxury accessories, such as power brakes, power clutch automatic lubrication systems help determine a cars qualifications to be considered a Clasic.

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The best part of the whole week was the fireworks..there were numerous firework shows all weekend. The first show we did not need to even leave the front seat of our coach as it was right out our coach front window. We laid the chairs SPA_8527
Two sites down from us we met a wonderful couple, Carlos and Linda that watched  Guy hand wash the coach. They have a new 5th wheel and were staying just for the weekend. They had not been to the Shipshewana flea market yet and were wanting to go explore, since Guy had found a couple of things he wanted when we were last there we headed off with them.  What comes with a hard day of shopping…mexican food…the drive ended up being about a half hour to a little town called Ligonier, where we had a wonderful lunch.

 

On the 4th, JoLinda and Craig came over for dinner, Carlos and Linda came down to our site and brought their own dinner, the 6 of us just enjoyed the time together.  Later everyone moved to Carlos and Linda’s site and sat around their fire telling lots more tall tales.

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Craig and JoLinda had been in Shipshewana last year and told us about the fireworks in Topeka, a 10 min drive, we had decided to go but as the night wore on, for the second night, fireworks started just outside our park, so why drive when we can just turn our chairs around, and watch from our own campfire.

That ended our stay in Shipshewana!!   We were finally going to be free of the repair shop, as well as any other commitments and able to head out Friday, July 8th for the great state of Michigan!!  So come on back and see where The Nomads end up in MI and what fun they have in this wonderful state.

Y’all have a very Blessed time until we meet again.

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Shipeshewana Quilt Show!!

June 2016

SHIPSHEWANA QUILT FESTIVAL

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As most of you know my passion is quilting!! I love to look at the wonderful designs, feel the buttery soft cottons, cut a perfectly good piece of fabric into little pieces and creatively making those little pieces into a beautiful new creation.

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When we arrived in Shipshewana I was pleasantly surprised to see that there was going to be a quilt show, my sweet husband said he would go with me…(I think to make sure I didn’t buy anything). I have attended many quilt shows, some traveling to Texas and California, I sure miss attending them.

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A quilt show consists of multiple components, there are teachers that come from all over the world to teach what they specialize in, there are numerous classes that go on all week, you register in advance, as there are supplies you must purchase the for the project of the class you decide to take. There are also numerous vendors displaying all the new products, supplies, and fabrics. If you are a quilter you know there is always something you need!!

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Grand Prize winner (art quilt)

Many quilts are sent in by women and men from all over the world to be judged, there are numerous categories of judging, small pieced quilts, large pieced quilts, appliquéd quilts, art quilts, modern quilts, miniature quilts, this is just a sample of the many categories.  After judging they are then hung in a special area that is monitored by volunteers, they make sure the quilts are not touched, no flash photography is taken, they must wear white gloves, if someone would like to see the back of the quilt, volunteers are the only ones who may touch a quilt.

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The quilt above won the grand prize, the card gives the information about the quilt.

 

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The show can last anywhere from 5-7 days, the first few days are open for classes, it opens to the public mid-week usually Thursday – Sunday, they then may purchase a ticket and shop at vendor booths, and see the quilts on display.

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These pictures are really hard to see the stitching that was done on them. They truly were a work of art.

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There was an added bonus to the quilt show which I think Guy was looking forward to which was included in the price of a quilt show ticket, the Hudson Auto Museum which was right next door. What started with a single vehicle more than 25 years ago has grown to include the largest collection of Hudson automobiles in the world. The collection includes the Hudson, Essex, Terraplane, Railton, and Dover brands.
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The cars they had were so beautiful that it was fun just looking at them and the different pattern quilt on each car.

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These were only a few of the wonderful cars!! I just love the wooden wheel.

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If you aren’t interested in quilts this was probably boring but it was something I just needed to share. I miss my quilt room and the fabric I so lovingly stashed in my closet, or laying so pretty around my room.   Through my travels around our country I have been to many antique stores and have purchased many antique quilts, those have been sealed with the quilts I have made and are stored in our storage unit, someday they will be back out to be on display again.

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This is a Tee Shirt quilt, I took this picture for Tracy P as she is collecting tee shirts from her travels and would like to make one.

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My 1950 Singer feather weight machine is stashed in the coach with enough fabric to make 2 quilts. I have made two in the coach while traveling in the last 2 years, and have started a Log Cabin, and a Grandmothers Flower Garden that is being done all by hand.

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We don’t sit in one area long enough for me to sew very often but on those rainy days I love to bring it out work and get as much done as I can.

But come on back and see what else the Nomads did while they were in Shipshewana!

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Horses and Buggies

June, 2016

What a crazy month we have had since we left Camp Alexander! We have been so busy that I have forgotten most of it, its a good thing we take pictures to help fill in the blanks!! But half the time I even forgot to take the camera so no pictures!! Oh Well!!

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One of the hardest things we had to do at Camp Alexander was to put away all our chairs, empty the fireplace and store the yard art, so we could get ready to leave and head to Indiana. We were having such a wonderful relaxing time (ha, ha) listening to the birds, hearing the breeze thru the pine trees and visiting with neighbors we haven’t seen for a year. That is one thing with this life we lead is leaving behind family, as well as old and new friends.

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We headed out with Jo and Craig to an Escapees park in Tennessee just outside of Knoxville, it was such a short ride thru the mountains but was, oh, so beautiful thru the smokey mountains, the skies were so blue with of course the smokey haze that area is known for. We loved the small farms and towns, there were a few little craft stores along the way but with the small roads and no shoulder there was no stopping for us. As big as we are I think we scared most people.

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The above photo was taken by an unknown person on Hwy 20 in Pell City, Al by an unknown person, our son found it on Facebook and sent it to us. Big Brother is always watching!!!

Guy and I hung in Tennessee for a few days, we took a 7 mile bike ride along the Melton Lake River, toured the Oak Ridge National Laboratory where the atomic bomb was designed and made. Visited RVs for Less with JoLinda and Craig looking at new 5th wheels and listened to a blue grass group play and sing one night. It turned out to be a busy few days in Tennessee.

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We decided to leave 2 days early from Raccoon Valley and head up to Laurel River Lake in the Daniel Boone National Park, Kentucky. We had been there the year before and truly had a wonderful time. Once we arrived we felt as if we were back at Camp Alexander, with lots of trees, squirrels, and a beautiful lake.

Our site great as we were the only RV on our street, it was nice and quiet. We did nothing but walk, sleep and sit out in the rain while Guy did some banjo playing!! Took a walk to the lake and swam for a few hours, the water was a perfect temp and no one but us there.

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Friends of ours Cori and Greg were going to be in Shipshewana, In, the week before we needed to be in Decatur, In, for coach painting. We hadn’t seen them since last year and decided to head up there to hang with them. We knew this would be the one and only time we could meet up this year and were so looking forward to seeing them. They were headed to New Bern, Ohio for the July 4th weekend and then over to Pennsylvania to be with family for a month. Cori and Greg were in this area as they are redecorating their Country Coach and since this is the RV manufacturing Capital, with most of the RVs made in Northern Indiana, this was the place to check out the furniture maker.

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The work horses on the farm by the campsite

Jo and Craig had arrived in Shipshewana just before we did, and were also waiting for us to arrive.  It was a busy week, we tried to do and see everything we could, drove around Shipshewana, Middelbury, Elkhart and Goshen Indiana like mad hatters looking for fun exciting things to do..

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The guys decided that a trip to Bontragers in Michigan was a necessity! This place is a salvage yard for RV parts, there were 3 buildings with everything from tires to sinks and toilets. It was pretty interesting but I will say it is a men’s place

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The guys did find stuff that was a must have for them. It was a great score for Greg, who has a company called Solar Solutions, he installs solar on rvs, including ours.

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Greg bagging his loot

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Poppie with his find of the day

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Jo and Cori loving the surplus store

 

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We even drove 45 mins, to New Buffalo, Michigan for a late lunch, but due to construction on the road it took a couple of hours. We were looking for some awesome sea food with a great view of Lake Michigan. What we found was The Salty Dog, a few blocks from the beach and ok sea food. The wait for an inside table was over an hour so we all opted for the bar on the roof…it happened to be the hottest day of the week…yup, we roasted!! But the drinks were good and cold.

One of the places that I really wanted to visit was the RV/MH Hall of Fame. This is a one of a kind museum with 100 year old camping units on display.

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One of my favorites was the 1931 Chevrolet House car that Paramount Studios presented to Mae West when she started making movies for the Studio.

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Mae Wests touring car

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It was designed as a chauffeur driven lounge car and not a camper. It has a small hot plate stove, a small ice box and table so she could enjoy a spot of tea. It was used for Mae to transport her from the hotel to the shooting locations. It was reported that she had a rocking chair on the back porch and would sit enjoying the breeze.

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The Shipshewana Flea Market is open 2 days a week and boasts over 900 spaces and that they are the Midwest’s largest flea market!! It was large that’s for sure, we hoped they were selling Amish crafts, but instead all we found were booths with stuff from China,  bamboo sheets, sweatshirts, coffee cups, purses, all the spaces basically selling the same stuff!! So disapointing!!

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We watched the animal auctions as they auctioned off pigs, cows, horses, and hay. It truly was interesting, but did it stink!! There were a couple of the draft horses that I would love to have bid on, just loved how massive they are but sure wouldn’t want to feed them.

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I don’t have pictures as they don’t allow cameras inside. What I found amazing was  the parking of the buggies and horses that were lined up while the owners were at the auction.
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The Goshen Brewing was a must stop for lunch and a little adult beverage!! We sampled many of the beers but as a non beer drinker I only found one that I wanted to drink which was a light ale.

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Guy, Greg and Cori discussing what beer they wanted

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Driving down the highway scratching our heads on what to do Cori is on her phone and points us in the direction of Linton’s, a beautiful garden center with a gift shop, a little lake with rentable paddle boats, train rides and a petting zoo. There are also lots of awesome yard art pieces, also little houses with garden plants set around them.

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It was a great place to hang for the afternoon, I think we all were pleasantly surprised how much we enjoyed the gardens!!

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It was a great week hanging with Cori and Greg and very sad to see them leave but we also needed to head out for our week at the factory and our (we thought) final repairs. They did get all the repairs done but since it was 4th of July weekend our painter had taken off a few extra days. Which meant we needed to either wait for him to get back or have someone else finish our painting…we decided to wait for him and went back to Shipshewana.

So come on back and check in with us to see how we celebrate Independence Day in Amish country.

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