Saturday, September 27, 2008

Back in Wash PA

We visited with our sister-in-law, Suzann, and her sister Patty.
What retired teachers do on Wednesday afternoons.
Benjamin, the newest member of the Sharp family, with his mom and the proud grandpa.
Nanc going on the road to take her driver's test.
We can't wait until the sold sign is put up!!
Hooray - I hope they don't run out of money.
The Great Racers

We are now at the Whispering Pines Campground in Washington, PA where we will be taking care of appointments with doctors and dentists, getting eye glasses, having the car inspected, voting and other things that have to be done here. We have gotten together with old friends and family and have eaten at some of our favorite restaurants. One of the big goals was for Nanc to take her class B drivers license test. Since she was not able to take the driving class at the Gypsy Journal Rally, she drove over 200 miles on the trip from Celina back to PA. On Thursday she took the test and passed with flying colors. Another HUGE thing was signing an agreement to sell our stix and brix home. We aren't celebrating until we have the check in the bank but it will be great if this all goes according to plan. I also signed up for Social Security which will begin when I turn 62 in November. On Sunday Nanc and Tom ran in the Great Race.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Gypsy Journal Rally

Gray skies and whipping flags from Ike's winds.
Class of 2007 guarding the Margarator.
Ellie the attack doberman and a barn cat.
Pot Luck

What full timers do after a hard week at a rally.
The Margarator in action.
Washing away Ike's mud.
Nick Russell (left)
Jim and Chris - Geeks on Tour

We are staying at the Mercer County Fairgrounds in Celina, Ohio while attending the Gypsy Journal Rally. We arrived a couple of days early to get together with members of the full time RVing Class of 2007. We have had a great time with this gang going out to dinner, sitting at the campfire and just shooting the breeze around the Margarator. On Sunday we did get a lot of wind from the remains of hurricane Ike that knocked down some small branches, tore an awning on one RV and destroyed the tent of one of the vendors, Smokey Ridgely. The only thing that happened to our rig was the mud rain that covered it. Several of us hooked hoses together on Monday and wash the mud off of seven RVs. We did not lose our power and the damage was not nearly as bad as other parts of the country. Nanc will not be able to take the driving class because the instructor, Denis Hill, had to return to Livingston, Texas because of damage to his property there. The Escapees headquarters located in Livingston was without power and closed for a few days. Others at the rally had to return home because of the damage here in Ohio and Nanc's sister, Judy, in eastern Ohio was without power from Sunday to Tuesday. We were fortunate to "weather" the storm here and hope everyone else from Texas to Pennsylvania who had damage is on the road to recovery.

The rally has been very informative and a lot of fun. We attended seminars on boondocking, RV appearance care, refurbishing your rig, tech tips for women, and I took three computer classes from Geeks on Tour. Jim and Chris did a wonderful job of explaining things in terms that were easy to understand. The evenings have been filled with entertainment, socials, door prizes and games. One program covered 100 years of RVing and on another evening the group "One More Time" put on a lively and fun variety show. We want to thank Nick and Terry Russell for putting together a great rally.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Michigan Meanderings

St. Julian Winery
Isn't this grape!
Michigan Capitol Building
Log House at Woldumar Nature Center
Getting the kinks out.
Can you smell the nuts roasting?
Military vehicle at Spartan and the flag at half mast on 9/11.

We stayed five days at the Timber Trails Campground in Decator, Michigan and from there we went to the Paw Paw Wine and Harvest Festival. The festival was spread out over the entire town of Paw Paw and offered food, crafts, entertainment and of course wine tasting at the St. Julian Winery. We had a great day and enjoyed the festival. The last couple of days I was down with a pinched nerve in my neck and I think it may have been caused by spending to much time at the computer. Being a political junkie, I have been spending way to much time surfing the web on all the candidates, but mostly studying Sarah the Unknown. I'm loving it but my body obviously thinks otherwise.

We then moved to Charlotte (CHAR - lot), Michigan for two days to have some maintenance done on the RV at Spartan Chassis. The day it was being worked on we drove to the capital, Lansing, stopping along the way at Woldumar Nature Center, an environmental education center with forests, ponds, wetlands and prairie. We walked 2 or 3 miles along the trails through the various environs. While strolling the streets of Lansing we saw a sign for a Chiropractor. We stopped in and I had a session with a massage therapist (Dan?) who worked on my sore neck. While I'm not back to 100% I'm feeling much better. We found a neat place in Lansing, The Peanut Store, where we bought fresh roasted nut. The store had a wonderful aroma that you could even smell out on the street. One service we had done on the RV was an alignment and, boy, what a difference. The RV drives much much better. Spartan also did several other general maintenance that needed to be done. It is great to be able to take the rig to the manufacturer and have the work done where they are most familiar with it. Despite the problems in the RV industry because of high fuel prices, Spartan appears to be doing well. In addition to RV chassis, they build firetrucks and military vehicles. They have security in the buildings where the military vehicles are built and when they are transported, they are covered with a tarp.

We are now at the Mercer County Fairgrounds in Celina, Ohio for the Gypsy Journal Rally coming up next week. We arrived early to get together with some members of the Class of 2007. We are looking forward to a great week with friends and attending information sessions. On Saturday Nanc is going to take a RV driving class.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

More along the Mississippi

Mississippi Mussel Digger
Kids playing in the fountain on the Muscatine riverfront.
Mussel shells with the button blanks drilled out.
Cards of buttons
Nanc on the Great River Bike Trail along the Mississippi.
Kart racers are just a blur.

Government Bridge with the swing span moving back into place as the American Queen departs the lock. Look closely and you can see the double deck.

While we spent a lot of time just relaxing during our two weeks at Shady Creek along the Mississippi, which is now on our list as one of our favorite campgrounds with wonderful camp hosts Larry and Judy, we did do a few other things. We enjoyed just driving along the river on part of the Great River Road, a national scenic byway that includes 3000 miles of roads on both sides of the Mississippi starting from its source at Lake Itasca in Minnesota to the mouth in Louisiana. Driving the entire length is in our future plans. In Muscatine, "Pearl Button Capital of the World," we walked along the waterfront and toured the History and Industry Center that has displays on the pearl button industry that thrived in the area staring in 1887. The buttons were made from mussel shells harvested from the river. By 1905, 1.5 billion buttons, nearly 40% of the world's total, were manufactured here. Many families had there own businesses in their homes and local church groups would make money attaching the finished product to cards for sale. Today only one button company remains and the buttons are made of plastic. We also took a couple of rides on the Great River Bike Trail that extends over 60 miles from Rock Island on the Illinois side of the river. Over Labor Day we watched one of the go kart races in the Rock Island Grand Prix. It is billed as the largest karting street races in the world. It was unbelievable how fast they move in those little high powered machines. At the Mississippi River Welcome Center we learned about the operation of the lock and dam system used to control water and traffic on the river. We also crossed the very unusual Government Bridge that has a roadway on the bottom and a train track on the upper level. The bridge, which was built in 1896, also has a swing span that rotates to allow riverboats to pass.
As we are writing this we are at the Leisure Lake RV Resort in Joliet, Illinois watching the remains of Gustav pour down rain. It is one of the rare days we have had where it has rained ALL day. They are expecting as much as three inches of much needed precipitation. Good for them, not good for us.