Monday, December 31, 2007

December 31, 2007 ONE MORE WEEK!

We leave for Florida one week from today. A winter storm warning with forecasts of up to a foot of snow has just been announced. It is supposed to clear and warm up just in time for us to get out of here without fighting snow or sleet. Today I had lunch with a good friend from grade school and high school days. What a trip down memory lane that was. We haven't seen each other for quite a while and it was really nice. Growing up together and then going our separate ways and then getting together again - it was great. Thanks, Dale. The Montana is awaiting our picking it up from storage, hopefully Thursday. As soon as the snow is removed from our condo parking lot we bring in Monty. Just packing it and checking it out will be nice. Tomorrow I will post photos of the storm results. Hopefully the forecasters are wrong again. Happy New Year from both of us.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

December 27, 2007 Grand Blanc, MI

Christmas was great. We were with our children and nine grandchildren so it seemed perfect. Today we have our Granddaughter Brianna with us. We toured Waldenwoods where I will be Ranger Jim this coming summer. Brianna put her stamp of approval on the park. It looks like we will be leaving on January 7. We are really looking forward to the journey. The warm, Orlando weather should have a good effect on Carol's knees so that she is not in so much continual pain. Disneyworld is also probably waiting for me to begin "Being Goofy." If the weather holds like it is now, the trip should not start as blustery as it has in the past years. We will probably point toward Berea, KY for our first night's stay. It is still cold there but the weather is not usually as wickedly evil as it can be here. From there, we can take our time arriving in Clermont, FL (Orlando area) by January 15. We have two weeks reserved at The Bee's Campground in Clermont and then we will see where the wind or whim takes us, if anywhere else.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

December 13, 2007 Grand Blanc, MI Turkeys

We were visited today by a flock of turkeys. They had been absent since before Thanksgiving but decided to remind us that we turkeys (speaking right to Carol and me) should be in Florida now. The grass that is visible in the photo is covered with ice from last night's sleet storm and of course the snow is visible. Temperatures expected in the low teens tonight and snow on its way tomorrow. Christmas shopping almost done and Orlando on the mind.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

November 22, 2007 Thanksgiving

We awoke today to snow. It was raining when we went to bed last night and the rain turned to snow leaving a couple of inches on the ground. This is the view from our bed room. Then we went to our daughter's for Thanksgiving Dinner. Our other daughters and their families were there so we were in Grampa and Gramma Hog Heaven. These type days are the best of times.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

November 17, 2007 WE'RE BACK!

We decided that we like this format better than the other one and, so, will return to this for our blog. Hopefully, there will be no more changes other than content. We are still working on preparations for our southern tour which is set to be started right after New Years. We will start by spending a couple of weeks at The Bees RV Resort, in Clermont, FL, near Orlando. While there, will be checking out Disney World for employment. If hired, we will camp in the Orlando area until April. At that time, we head for Mt. Rushmore and then return to Michigan around the first of May. I have been hired at Waldenwoods RV Resort for the summer. I am really looking forward to being Ranger Jim at a great campground and resort. Tomorrow, we will attend the birthday celebration for a grandson.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

October 25, 2007 WE'VE MOVED!

We have moved our blog to a new location. We have decided to use the Good Sam Club site because it allows us to do so many more things with our blog. We hope that you will continue coming along with us in our travels because otherwise we would really miss you. We are now at:

Thanks and please let us know if you like the change, Jim and Carol

Sunday, October 21, 2007

October 21, 2007 Grand Blanc, Frankenmuth and Davison, MI

We took our leaf color tour around home today and got these great, glorious colors. We finally were able to look at the colors when the sun was out. We thought about going east to see the colors in Vermont, etc but have added that to the "another time" list.

Friday, October 19, 2007

October 19, 2007 Grand Blanc, MI

These days have been filled with planning and wishing. I applied at Waldenwoods RV Resort in Hartland, MI yesterday for a workamper position with their security. I was taken under the wing of a department head at this resort and hope that this will be a positive thing. Disney also sounds good for this winter. We are to arrive there mid-January so we hope that this will not be too late to be considered. I have heard that the company is so large that this should not be a problem. We plan to leave Florida the first of April and go to Mt. Rushmore. We should spend a week or so there and then return home in time to start working at Waldenwoods May 1, if hired. Looks like this weekend will be a grandson soccer and another grandson football weekend. With the weather turning like it is, we can only hope that the blowing, wet and cold hold off for a while. That happy lady you see here is Carol with Monty at Waldenwoods this summer. If we workamp here in security, we will set up here for the summer. This has been one of our favorite campgrounds - large and grassy lots, level sites, nice lake, great people and near home.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

October 13, 2007 Grand Blanc, MI

Today will be a day to see a grandson soccer game and maybe another birthday boy grandson. Then it is on to planning the winter's journey to Florida. We have decided to apply at Disney for part time employment so we will look for a campground near Orlando. These are great days!

Friday, October 12, 2007

October 11, 2007 Traverse City to Grand Blanc, MI

All good things must come to an end. This trip to northern Michigan was a very pleasant break. It rained and was blustery during this entire trip but we saw some beautiful countryside and met with some fine friends. The fall colors were not as peaked as we hoped they would be. There were many areas where there were equal numbers of trees with green, colors and baren. The leaves had already been blown off the trees. Combine that with the rainey, dark, cloudy days and the colors did not seem very bright at all. We said "Bye, bye" to the Grand Traverse Bay, looking at wind, rain and small whitecaps on the water. Lost big at a casino ($10) but saw that they were building a huge casino and hotel complex up here. It is right next to the older one, which is not tiny at all. It has been quite a while since we have been up here and we remember when the first casino on M-72 east of Traverse City was a pole barn type structure. We met with some friends from the Montana Owners Club for lunch before leaving. They are full timers who leave Saturday for Florida by way of the Smokys. They are part time employees at Disneyworld and now we have the information needed to made our winter travel decision. We are going to Florida instead of Texas and are going to apply for part time work with Disney while there. If that doesn't work, we can just move our home on over to Texas from there. Wherever we end up, we will cap our winter trip with a trip to Mt. Rushmore in April. That has been changed enough so we hope to make it a reality this time.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

October 10, 2007 Grand Blanc to Traverse City, MI

Today we drove to Traverse City, MI to see the colors. Carol enjoys riding when it is raining. We had the best of both worlds, then, because it rained all the way up and off and on the rest of the day and we saw colors. They are not quite peaked here yet but they are glorious. The clouds were even beautiful when the rain slowed down or stopped. There were patches of sunshine. The water level is low in the East Bay of Traverse City. There were docks that went from shore out onto the sand and ended before reaching the water. There is a 30% chance of rain tomorrow but we will try it again. All of the sunshine and warm weather we have had lately and today it is 50 degrees and rain - go figure.

Monday, October 8, 2007

October 8, 2007 Grand Blanc, MI

Between soccer games and football games, we have been seeing our grandchildren the last week or so. We are going to the Traverse City, MI area Wednesday and Thursday for a color tour. We hear that the leaves are in full color now. Looking forward to the trip. Retirement means that we can go mid week instead of clearing out a weekend and that makes it real nice. We'll take lots of pics and post them for all to see.

Friday, October 5, 2007

October 5, 2007 Milford and Davison, MI

Last night we saw grandson Jon play soccer again. Great game ending 0-0. Before our grandchildren started playing soccer, we never understood how a game ending 0-0 could be interesting or exciting to watch. We surely learned differently in a hurry. We took Monty to our home park and set up for one night so that we could winterize it. Now to storage until early January. We'll miss you, Monty, but soon we will be on the road again. Next week we head to Traverse City for the color tour. We had time this week to winterize the trailer so will not be taking it this time.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

October 3, 2007 Grand Blanc and Howell, MI

Last night we went to grandson Jon's soccer game. It was Senior Night and he, being a Senior, was honored at halftime. He went onto the field with his parents and, besides his parents, thanked us for supporting him. Wow!!! We were blown away. By the way, Jon scored his team's only goal. Wouldn't you know it, I forgot my camera for this game. It seems like I ALWAYS have it and take a million shots. Oh, Well. We are setting up the Montana tomorrow at our home park and will winterize it. One last night in it this year and then into storage until we pull it out in January. Next week we are probably going to Traverse City, MI and do the color tours. I talked with some Montana owners that live in that area and was advised that they should be peaked next week.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

September 30, Westland, MI

Today we celebrated Grampa Joe's (Carol's dad) 86th birthday. It was a nice celebration with four of his seven children and two of his grandchildren in attendance. We had to leave early because our grandson, Devin, had a football game. We were able to see the last half of the game. We got there just in time to see him run down an opponent after about a 50 yard gain and do a nice open field tackle on him, saving a touchdown. Of course I was not in a good position to take the pic of this tackle but did get this one where he is on the bottom of the pile after making a fine tackle.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

September 29, 2007 Brighton and South Lyon, MI

Today was the first of the hectic Saturdays for us. We have not seen the grandkids in their activities in a while since we just got home from an eastern trip. This morning, Ryan was the soccer star. Here he has just kicked the ball and hopes to move it into scoring position. Brianna is shown, right rear, cheering at a football game. Tomorrow is Devin's football game and Tuesday is Jon's soccer game. That will be Senior Day and Jon is a senior this year. Where does time go?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

September 27, 2007 Grand Blanc, MI

We subscribed to the site and paper today. We will use this to try to locate part time employment during our travels. We heard that this is a useful site and have discovered that, once enrolled, it opens up a whole new world of possibilities. There are openings all over the country and most offer full hookup sites and a small wage. There are openings for full time, part time and seasonal jobs. We have also contacted Disney and, the next time we are in Florida, we or I will interview for openings in the Orlando area. We have heard great news about the perks of working for Disney. Long-timing is starting to mean so much more than we first believed would be. The jobs include so much more than we thought would be available to us. Prespective employers will look at this photo and wonder how this old coot can have such a beautiful wife and, thus, question the rest of the resume.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

September 26, 2007 Grand Blanc and Howell, MI

Today we used one of the perks of coming home - we attended a high school soccer game that one of our grandsons played in. Brandon plays for the Howell Freshman team and scored the only goal that was scored by Howell on a penalty kick. As you can see, his sister, Meagon, was pleased too. His older brother, Jon, plays for the Varsity team and we will see him play next Tuesday. Saturday, their cousins, Devin, plays in a football game, Brianna cheerleads and cousin Ryan plays soccer. This is a very hectic, beautiful season for us - running around the county watching soccer, football and cheerleading. Sarah, Shane and Shelby are young but will be into something soon, we're sure. When they are, guess who will be there.

Monday, September 24, 2007

September 24, 2007 Grand Blanc, MI

The difference in being a Long-timer instead of a Full-timer in the RV is not any more exemplified than it is today. This day after the last day of a journey is always a very tired day. Today was no exception. It seems like all during the trip, the days pass just like any other day - just normally being tired or not. Not the day after the last trip home. These two days, the last day as explained yesterday and the day after, with its inherent tiredness, are absolutely the longest of the journey. it was nice taking a shower in a full sized shower stall with unlimited water; It was nice walking on a floor that did not move; BUT we are already making plans for the next journey.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

September 23, 2007 Goshen, IN to Grand Blanc, MI

Today is the toughest day in a long RV journey. This is the day that we break camp for the last time and head home. This means an extra cleaning of the rig, flushing the waste tanks, packing clothing, food, etc and turning the refrigerator off. The frig is then made dry after arrival home and newspaper stuffed inside so that it does not start forming mold while in storage. We crossed from Indiana into Michigan south of Kalamazoo. Carol had taken the class yesterday related to towing the 5th wheel and, when we got to a rest area south of Lansing on I-69, she asked how far it was to the next rest area. When advised that it was 60 to 70 miles she said that she was ready to try driving the rig. She drove through moderately heavy Sunday afternoon traffic and through a one lane road repair zone. I checked her knuckles and they were not white. She did great. Now she is sure that she can handle Monty if and when she wants or needs to. That adds a lot of relief to me also, knowing that she can handle it well. When we left home last month, the grass was brown and the trees green. Today, the grass was green and the leaves in the trees are starting to change to red and gold - beautiful. We may take a color tour up north soon. We hoped to do it after the Goshen rally but, due to problems with Blue Cross, we had to come home and straighten them out. (Either straighten them out or continue without coverage) While at the rally we talked with people that have us conflicted as to what we will do this winter after the holidays - return to Florida or go to the San Antonio area. Whichever we choose, we will try again to go to Mt. Rushmore in the spring before returning home. If Florida, there is a chance to obtain part-time employment at Disney World. If we go to Texas, we may try the Disney World caper next year. The perks sound great - tremendous discounts to all Disney activities and many restaurants and hotels, etc and they can be used by family. This year will more than likely be a Texas year. There is always next year for the other. That or maybe Arizona. It gets interestinger and interestinger all the time.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

September 22, 2007 Goshen, IN

Today was the last day of the rally, except for the breakfast tomorrow morning before we all leave. This morning, after waking up and gratefully discovering that there were no injuries in the early morning fire, Keystone held classes for the ladies, teaching them that they should have no fear or trepidation about driving and towing one of these big rigs. After some classroom information, they all were allowed to drive a pick-up towing a Montana. They drove in a parking lot with orange cones and on the street. They also backed it up. It seemed like all enjoyed the class and learned that they really can tow one of these rigs. I know that I feel much better knowing that Carol could and would drive towing Monty if she wished to or had to. Carol's instructor praised her driving and allowed her to drive alone when her lesson was finished to another portion of the parking lot for the next driver to take. I am so proud of her and she feels so full of confidence now. We then went of a tour of the Montana factory. The factory was closed today so Keystone had reps come in to lead small groups of MOC members on these tours. The quality is really good here. It is a very clean factory and they asked our opinions, both good and bad, throughout the tours and at the prototypes. This is our second factory tour. We also did this last year at the national fall rally. They asked our opinions about the present and prototype models and incorporated some of the suggestions into the reintroduction of the Big Sky model. These are just some of the reasons we are so comfortable with our Montana and why they have led the industry in sales for six straight years - they listen to us and actually incorporate some of what we say into the product. What a concept - "Listen to the customer!"

September 22, 2007 Goshen, IN Fairgrounds Fire

At about 1:30AM today, we heard a small explosion and soon after the sounds of many sirens. Investgigation led us to a large fire in the fairgrounds, a few hundred feet from our. Some buildings that housed cafes and other portions of the food court that had been crammed with people just hours earlier were fully engulfed in flames and the fire department was knocking the flames down rapidly. So far, we have heard of no injuries and for this we are grateful to God because this area is in the middle of a huge Mennonite Relief fund raiser that last year brought in over $500,000, no small undertaking. There were a hundred or so RVs parked abutting the fire area and we have also heard of no damages to any of them.

Friday, September 21, 2007

September 21, 2007 Goshen, IN

Today was filled with a trip to the Service Center to finish some repairs, seminars by Keystone (Montana manufacturer) and Dicor (roof manufacturer) and a pot luck dinner with raffles. Keystone is very interested in what the Montana Owners Club has to say because they know that they get honest feedback from us - the good, the bad and the ugly. We have seen how our concerns and problems have been listened to, corrected and we have left feeling that we are heard. That may be why Montana has been the leader in sales of 5th wheels for the last several years. Very few of us who own them and have availed ourselves of the service department and rally seminars will speak anything but highly about the Montana line. They have even made major repairs to units out of warranty at the service center. The attendees were also given a special incentive for attending the rally. It will really help if we decide to buy a new Montana in the next year. We both went far off our diets at tonight's pot luck dinner. Gosh, these RVers can cook and eat. Now it is time to knuckle down again and remember that we must eat differently. We eagerly await meeting with a couple in the MOC who also live in Grand Blanc that have spent the last several winters in Texas. They will not be able to travel this winter but are wanting to get with us and give us ideas of where to go, etc, while there. This information also includes a campground north of San Antonio that is in the middle of The Hill Country, within east driving distance of so much from the Gulf of Mexico to cowboy towns to the Rio Grand Valley.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

September 20, 2007 Goshen, IN

Today was a free day at the rally. We traveled to Shipshewana, IN, the site of a HUGE flea market. The flea market is only open Tuesdays and Wednesdays so we just toured the town and a couple of Amish shops. The town is definately filled with the Amish. Carriages being pulled by horses are all over the town and the streets are filled with tokens left by the horses. Someone is quick with the cleanup because the dirt does not remain long. At a farm on a country road, we discovered a large group (herd?) of tiny horses. Some were rolling on their backs on a black pile of something that probably keeps the flies from them. Later, on the same road, we found a dead horse lying in a ditch. Knowing how important horses are to the Amish, we went to the house to inform them of the horse and the man stated "I know. it happened last night." We don't know what that meant or who was going to pick up the horse but we just left. When we returned to the campground, people were returning from their days' journeys and gathering in small groups and filled the area with conversation. We have never found an RVer that didn't love to eat or talk. A couple have started a Park Model Living magazine devoted to life in a park model. They were here asking questions because they are to expand and start a magazine geared to living in a 5th wheel - an interesting concept. Techs from the various suppliers to Montana were here today repairing and assisting the rallygoers (a new word?) who had concerns. This rally is great, not only for the people that we meet, but also for the information and product supplies that we receive.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

September 19, 2007 Goshen, IN

Today started out with an "Omelet in a Bag" breakfast. This was the first of these that we have attended. Really cool! They had the eggs mixed in a bowl and a bevy of ingredients next to the eggs. We placed our names on a plastic zip-lock bag and the egg was ladled into it. Then we chose which of the ingredients that we wanted and the bag was placed in boiling water. They had turkey cookers for this. Soon, the "Omelet" was done. It was very good and another interesting item that we learned while on this trip. While talking with others that have traveled southwest for the winter, we have almost decided that we are not going to try to make both Texas and Arizona in the same season. That just seems like the winter would be taken up with more driving than enjoying. After the breakfast came seminars by Dometic (the makers of the RV refrigerators, awnings, air conditioners and other items), Lippert (the designers/makers of slide-out systems and frames) and Odyssey (the designers and makers of the electronic systems - televisions, DVD players, radios, surround sound). A full day with a lot of information. They had techs with them who inspected many of our rigs and more techs to come tomorrow to replace/repair some problems that we may have.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

September 18, 2007 Goshen, IN

This was a "free day" at the rally. We took Monty to the Keystone Customer Service Center today for some maintenance. They replaced the stabelizers that I damaged near the start of this trip at the Grand Haven Resort in Newcomersville, OH. I started pulling the rig out of the campsite, forgetting to raise the stabelizers. They bent and, luckily, we were able to get them raised into the storage position before they locked up. They also performed some preventative maintenance on the unit. These wonderful repairs were performed without charge to us.This type of service is one reason that we purchased our second Montana without much looking at other brands. While the trailer was in the shop, we toured downtown Goshen. On a street corner in front of the Elkhart County Courthouse is a one room concrete building with bullerproof glass and gun ports. It was contsructed in 1939, according to a plaque, so that the police could protect the city from gangsters that traveled this road. The courthouse is also an old, stately edifice. Since we started touring the older towns of the east we seem to regularly see old, interesting structures everywhere.