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.

September 17, 2007 Goshen, IN

I started the day with my walk around the fairgrounds. The trotters were out exercising and it ended with the campfire. Today, reps from Lippert, the makers of this great suspension system that we have in the Montana, gave a presentation. A retired firefighter gave a seminar on fire extinguisher safety. There was also a class given by some of the computer "gurus" in usage of the computer and the internet. Tiara RV had us come to their dealership and presented us with a bar-b-que dinner. Tiara is located on the north side of Elkhart, IN and is very hard to find but, once there, is a huge Montana dealership. The buildings are new and modern. They set up long tables in their service center where it was so clean that there was never a thought about eating in a service center. The large display of rigs was also impressive. If our Monty weren't so new to us, we may have looked hungrily at some of them. We did go through some and think "What if?" but then escaped without leaving a down payment. We talked with Keystone's Service Center today about the damage that we did to the rear stabilizers several weeks ago when we left that horrible Grand Haven campground in Newcomerstown, Ohio and will take the rig to the center tomorrow for repairs. They also gave good advice on how check and correct a small propane leak that developed.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

September 16, 2007 Wapakoneta, OH to Goshen, IN

We woke up to temperatures in the upper 30s and sunny. We left camp and traveled through beautiful farmlands to Goshen, IN. We are still marveling at the flatness of the terrain. It is in marked contrast to the hills and mountains where we spent the greater portion of the last six weeks. As beautiful as the mountains were, this is home. We are now camped at the Elkhart County Fairgrounds and have attended the Meet and Greet. The campground is full of Montanas and it looks beautiful. There are 62 Montanas in attendance this year. They have a full week of activities planned with ample free time to do whatever we wish. Should be a great week.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

September 15, 2007 Wapakoneta, OH

The last two days have been sunny and cool. Tonight it is to get downright cold, mid 30s. We have hung around the campground and done some exploring in Wapakoneta. This is an old town. The courthouse was from 1899 and a Catholic Church from 1839. There are some old homes here too that seem to have been here forever. The Neil Armstrong Air and Space museum is also here. The days were so glorious that we did not wish to spend them inside so we will attend this at a later date. Tomorrow we head for Goshen, IN. We will camp at the Elkhart County Fairgrounds for the Montana Owners' Rally. There is a very nice campground at the fairgrounds with full hookups and 30 and 50 amp. service. This will be for a week. At the rally, they even will have a course for the ladies to be taught by professional drivers how to drive towing a Montana. This alone sounds like a great feature of this rally. There will also be presentations by manufacturers of components and, being a conventions of RVers, there will be lots of great food. We hope to not go too far off our diets while here.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

September 13, 2007 Zanesville, OH to Wapakoneta, OH

We moved from Zanesville to Wapakoneta, OH today. We are now finally out of the mountains and hills. After passing through Columbus, we noticed an almost immediate "flattening" of the landscape. This sure seems different - for the last several weeks, nothing has been flat. The Ford sure got a test and passed with flying colors. It pulled us up steep grades and helped us as we traveled down steep grades also. After getting off of the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Breezewood, PA on the way to Gettysburg, we immediately got onto US 30. This took us all the way to Gettysburg. The grades were brutal for us and the road was mostly two lane so, when we slowed considerably for the upgrades, we held traffic back behind us. The downgrades had no shoulder to speak of so there were no places to pull over to let traffic pass. From Gettysburg on, we tried to assure no more two lane steep grades to climb. The gas fueled truck with its 5.4 engine was able climb all the grades but it slowed considerably. When we were on an interstate or 3 or 4 lane highway, this was fine because we did not have to be the first to reach the top. We will now plan our routes better when traveling through the mountains. We will use multiple lane highways in the steep areas and just slow down. Now we will perform some preventative maintenance and see what Wapakoneta has to offer.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

September 12, 2007 Zanesville, OH

The only time today that we left the campground was when we went to Sam's Club. This was a cool, sunny day and we used it to perform misc. maintenance and talk with neighbors. The talking with neighbors is what we missed most when we sold the motorhome and went a few months with no RV. The people that we meet when camping is probably the greatest part of camping. Of course the travel and visiting this great country and all its splendor rates right up there, now that we have time to travel for longer than a couple of weeks or so. Who-da-thunk-it that we would be long timers in the RV world? A long timer being one who can travel for extended periods of time but still has a home base to return to. We leave tomorrow for three nights in Wapakoneta, OH. Maybe this time we will see the Neil Armstrong Air and Space Museum. We pass it every time that we camp here but have never attended in the past. Then, Sunday we go to Goshen, IN for the Montana Owners' Rally.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

September 11, 2007 Champion, PA to Zanesville, OH

Today we traveled from Champion, PA to Zanesville, OH. During the ride, we listened to much on the radio about services at Ground Zero, Washington DC and Somerset County, PA. This date has a special meaning for us and this feeling was deepened when we visited the Flight 93 Memorial last Saturday. During the first half of the journey today the rains came in torrents. As we passed through West Virginia and into Ohio, the skies stopped weeping and then the sun came out in all of its glory. The heat and humidity of the last few weeks has disappeared and it is very comfortable outside now. Tomorrow maybe we can discover whether or not we can get the satellite dish set up correctly. We are also going to try to see what this area has to see.