Hot, Hot, Hot

It’s been a relatively quiet and HOT week for us. The cooler Autumn temperatures have yet to arrive in Florida with our temperatures hovering between 89 to 92 degrees daily since we got here. Let’s not even talk about the humidity or heat index.  And with AC and pool woes factoring in, I don’t see any relief in sight.

Monday morning I set out to get the laundry done early so I could have the rest of the day free. Don dropped me and my five loads off at the park laundromat.  Unfortunately someone beat me to the machines and I had to wait my turn which wasn’t a problem since it was wonderfully cool inside and I had brought a book with me. Eventually my loads were washed and I got them loaded into dryers. Between me and the other woman we had all nine dryers running at once. I’m sure you know how much heat those dryers can emit in a small laundry house, then to make matters worse the air conditioner died. Needless to say by the time I’d left I felt like I’d been in a sauna. Thank goodness for the park pool.

Later that evening the three of us drove to the beach to watch the sun set over the water.

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The following day we donned our swimsuits and headed for the pool to cool off. A sign posted on the gate informed us the pool was down for repairs. The filter had stopped working. So back inside the Suite Pea we went. I won’t go into details about the how or why BUT circumstances has led Don to believe that we either have a short somewhere that is affecting our second AC unit OR our inverter may be getting ready to go. At any rate we can only run the bedroom air for an hour or so at a time, otherwise our whole system will temporarily shut down. We intend to have it looked at when we reach our winter destination. Until then the rig is comfortable most of the day as long as we keep our two oscillating fans running and our night shades drawn.

Tuesday evening we braved the heat and humidity to go back to Captain Curt’s Sniki Tiki to see Sunny Jim White perform. Sunny Jim is another well known Trop Rocker that Don listens too. We had the opportunity to chat with him awhile and found him to be very likable and entertaining.

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Sunny Jim & Joe Patti at the Sniki Tiki

Wednesday was pretty much a stay at home day. Don spent most of it working on his music. I did go out to get a bad haircut while he was doing his thing. I may start wearing a do rag for a spell. ☹️ Later Don made blackened grouper on the grill while  I prepared a spicy bean salsa to go with it. I’m not a big fish eater but I have to admit Don’s recipe tastes mighty good.

Thursday we met our friends Dennis and Janet for lunch on Anna Maria island. The Waterfront has a nice view of the bay and Tampa’s Skyline Bridge. It’s also dog friendly so we had Beau tag along with us. He enjoyed all of the diners who stopped to acknowledge him but I think he’s particularly fond of Janet who slipped him several pieces of her chicken. It was nice catching up with good friends and we will be seeing them again this winter.

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Janet & Dennis with us at The Waterfront

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Beau

On our way back we stopped to see the statue “Unconditional Surrender”  on Sarasota’s downtown waterfront. Seward Johnson’s  25′ tall statue resembles the famous photograph taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt, V-J day in Times Square. The statue has become a popular roadside attraction and is worthy of a photo-op.

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“Unconditional Surrender”

We decided Beau needed a day to do the things he loved doing so on Friday we took him for a long break of dawn walk to avoid the heat of the day, then over to the dog park to chase balls until his tongue was dragging the ground. Back at the rig he promptly crawled under his big fan and took a nice long nap. The groomer Beau saw last week told us of about a dog friendly beach nearby, we thought we’d take Beau and check it out.

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The paw park is named Brohard Park and Dog Beach. It’s located in the town of Venice which is only 14 miles from where we are parked. We found it to be very clean. The beach sand is a little grittier than the white sand people beaches but still it was a nice area with a view of the pier,  and it had restrooms close by. The beach is off leash and Beau had a ball retrieving his float and romping with other dogs. He even got chummy with another Golden when they chased after each other’s float toys. Afterwards we stopped in a shady spot to eat. Subs for us, chicken tenders for the boy.

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We followed this day up with another lazy one at home. Don worked on his music again, I read and dozed.

Sunday after church Don and I ate lunch at a Mexican grill we’d been wanting to try. It is located in Siesta Key Village, a very beachy, touristy place. The Hub Baja Grill was packed with diners and folks just enjoying the sounds of a steel drum band. We found ourselves seats at the outside bar. I’d be hard pressed to label this a Mexican restaurant since there were too few Mexican style dishes on the menu but what we ordered was good and we both liked the band, both being fans of the steel drum sound.

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The Hub Baja Grill in Siesta Key Village

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On our way back from the restaurant the AC in the truck went on the fritz. We still have cool air coming through the vents but the fan has stopped. Are you seeing a pattern here? Did I mention it’s been hot? Very hot? Looks like Don will be calling the Ford service department Monday morning. I won’t go into our feelings about our truck (again).

Becky told us that on Sunday nights just before sunset drummers showed up on Siesta Key beach. She told us it was worth seeing and a great time to people watch. We intended to go tonight but a storm rolled in right about the time we were leaving.  We still have a couple of Sunday’s left before we move on so we’ll table it for another Sunday. Until then, here’s lookin’ at you kid…….

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Don’s Happy Place

Nothing improves Don’s disposition like crossing the Florida state line. Florida’s warm sunshine, sugar sand beaches, and gentle ocean breezes call to him, and if it were up to him, we’d never leave.

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When we arrived in Sarasota on Monday afternoon we found the RV park we are staying in to be practically empty. This surprised us tremendously since the best rates for Florida RV parks near the water is during the shoulder season between vacationers and snowbirds. No mind, we’re enjoying having the pool and Tiki bar all to ourselves. When we leave the grounds though, it’s a different story. The traffic never ceases! Don says he can’t imagine what it must be like here when the snowbirds arrive. UGH!

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We have a premium site just a short walk down from the pool

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Premium site sans the rig. The locked shed holds a patio set, trash can, & recycle bins

Standard sites

Standard sites

We are currently parked at Sarasota Sunny South. It’s a small vacation home and RV park with emphasis on small. The park is extremely well cared for and the staff is friendly and helpful. The sites are ample enough for big rigs. They are level and all offer 30/50 amp full hookups. Each has a very nice patio with picnic table. The park offers standard and premium sites. The difference being that premium sites have privacy fencing around them, storage sheds, and patio sets. We opted for a premium site and are very pleased with it. The only ding is that all sites are crushed shell. We would prefer some grass if only for Beau’s sake. Fortunately we are situated near the dog walk area which is grassy. The park does try to compensate for the lack of green though with a very nice, lush doggie play yard. It has a doo bag station, water spigot, and a chest of dog toys. For fur parents there’s a comfortable swing and Tiki type gazebo with seating. Beau loves rolling in the thick grass, especially early in the morning when it’s still dew covered.

Dog play yard at sunrise

Fenced dog yard is larger than this photo depicts

Other amenities are a club house, exercise room, shower facilities, and laundry, all of which are air conditioned. All this as well as the before mentioned salt water pool and Tiki bar. As a bonus, we’re situated a mere 4 miles from the #1 rated beach in the USA, Siesta Key.

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Don really digs the Tiki bar & it’s bamboo furnishings

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As with anyplace we intend to stay for awhile, we spend the first few days getting familiar with the surrounding area. We always make a point of knowing where a reputable veterinary clinic, a groomer, a grocery, and a hospital or immediate care clinic is located. Being prepared in advance has paid off for us in the past. I admit to a few indulgences too. While Beau was being groomed Don and I lazed around on the beach, soaking up the rays for a few hours. We also did waterfront dining at Phillippi Creek Oyster Bar and had breakfast at Yoder’s Amish Restaurant. Both were recommended to us and both of which we’d highly recommend to others. Who knew Sarasota had a neighborhood popular with Amish vacationers and retirees?

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The sugar fine sand never feels hot to the feet even on the sunniest days

Above is Phillippe Creek Oyster Bar & a pic of my Fisherman’s Feast; below is the skillet breakfast I ordered at Yoder’s. I couldn’t eat but half of it.

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The following day we met friends of ours for dinner at Captain Curt’s Crab & Oyster Bar. We had met Steve and Becky shortly after Allison Transmission transferred us to Indiana. They followed their dream to move to this area a few years back. The conversation followed easily and before we knew it 3 hours had passed. We will be getting together with them again while we’re in town. I should mention too that Captain Curt’s clam chowder took first place in the prestigious International Chowder Championships in Newport, RI. I ordered a bowl and must say not only is it delicious but the Captain does not scrimp on the clams either.

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Steve & Becky & us at Captain Curt’s

We’ve spent a few days just hanging out in the RV park. The temps have been in the high 80’s to low 90’s with the heat index running 10-15 degrees hotter so we’ve been utilizing the pool a lot. I’m thinking the park must run the pool water through some type of cooling system because no matter how hot it is, the pool is always refreshingly cool.

Friday night’s sunset was glorious so Saturday night we drove to the beach to watch the sun set over the water. It was a bust. The sky was overcast and cloudy. Still, it was a pleasurable evening for the senses with the sound of waves crashing, palm fronds rustling in the warm tropical breeze, and the salty taste of sea spray on the lips. It truly doesn’t get much better than that.

Today after church service we again went out with Steve and Becky for lunch. Once  more the conversation flowed effortlessly so I was surprised when I finally realized we’d been gone from the Suite Pea almost 5 hours. Yikes! We had only recently started letting Beau have the run of the RV in our absence and thus far he’d behaved, but we had never left him this long before. So Steve drove us back to his church where we’d left the truck then we said our goodbyes.

I was certain we’d arrive home to find that Beau had gotten into mischief. Boy was I surprised! Our little boy was sound asleep under the dinette and not a thing was out of place. Perhaps Mr. Chaos is turning over a new leaf. Phew, we sure hope so.

Until next time, here’s lookin’ at you kid…….IMG_4905

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Fixin’ to Head Over Yonder

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The cotton bolls are beginning to pop

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Beau’s curiosity is piqued by a new creature on his morning walk

Our time in lower Alabama has come to an end but we did enjoy the time we had. We spent our 10 days camped at our Escapees club park where we have several friends who either snowbird or live here. It was good to catch up and see everyone was doing well. Although Don and I have parked here many times, this was Beau’s first visit. Everyone was saddened to learn of our Golden boy Tucker’s death but they soon found themselves enamored with Beau and his antics. Beau made a few fur friends too. He loved his romps with Montana, another Golden who is one year older than Beau, and sweet Belle, a Labradoodle puppy who loves to give hugs and kisses to everyone she meets, including Beau.

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Belle & Beau

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Monty & Beau romp in the dog park

We made time to relax on Gulf Shore’s beautiful pristine white sand beach. The crowds were down because the kids are back in school and the snowbirds hadn’t arrived in mass yet. Since we arrived early to avoid the heat of the day we had an entire section to ourselves. Aah. How nice to sit back and be mesmerized by the waves. Don and I rarely go into the water, there are things in there that’ll eat you, you know, but the surf was calling and the water was crystal clear, so in we went. It was like bath water. Don stated he couldn’t recall the ocean ever being that warm before. I wonder if this crazy hurricane season we’re experiencing this Fall has anything to do with it.

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Peanuts will soon be harvested

Having spent much time previously in this area, we have quite a few favorite restaurants here but other than going out for Q the day we arrived and to Don’s Gulf Shore hot spot, we didn’t dine out. His hot spot is LuLu’s, Jimmy Buffett’s younger sister’s restaurant. Anyone who knows Don knows he is a true Parrothead and loves the TropRock vibe and LuLu’s epitomizes that. On the evening we went the popular TropRocker Brent Burns was performing. Don is one of his many fans and was delighted to finally see him perform in person. It got even better, during intermission Brent came over to our table and chatted with Don about their mutual interest. Needless to say I went home with a very happy husband that night.

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Brent & Don at LuLu’s

Next on our agenda is Florida and perhaps a recording studio for Don. He’s been approached by disc jockeys at both A1A and Oyster radio stations about his songs, so we will see if this is a direction he wants to go in.

Heres lookin’ at you kid…….

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Rainbow over Rainbow Plantation RV Park

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Let’s Play Catch Up

The jacks are up and we’re rolling again. Not a moment too soon either. I have had a serious case of “hitch itch” since about mid August. I had promised my father though that we wouldn’t leave until after his final post surgery check up on September 7th. Until that time came we were really looking froward to our youngest daughter Bobbi-Leigh and granddaughter Kendra coming up for a Labor Day weekend visit.

Then 3 days before their arrival Bobbi called with bad news, she was having surgery in the morning to have her gall bladder removed. This was totally unexpected but necessary. Knowing she would need help caring for her 2 year old, I spent time both on line and on the phone trying to find us a campsite near Bloomington, Indiana. With the holiday weekend looming just days ahead, it was a bust. Not a site to be found in either state or private parks. No surprise there.

Kristi, our oldest, had the day of surgery covered. Kendra would be dropped off at her daycare, then Kristi would drive Bobbi-Leigh to the hospital and stay until she was in recovery. Afterward she would pick Kendra up and take her home with her to spend the night. I packed a bag, informed pop there was a possibility I wouldn’t be back to the property in time to go with him to his doctor appointment, I then hopped into the truck and drove 8 hours straight to the hospital. I surprised Bobbi, who had no idea I was coming down. She was so relieved to have her mom with her she started crying. I stayed the entire week until Bobbi no longer had any restrictions and could return to work.

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I enjoyed my week with Kendra

I did make it back in time to go with dad but he had already asked his friend and neighbor Sandy to go with him. So Don and I then began prepping to leave. There’s much to do after one’s been sitting for 3 months. I also had 2 weeks worth of laundry to get caught up on. The good news is dad was given a clean bill of health. 😄

Then Hurricane Irma blew into Florida, and there went our September reservations for Georgia and Florida. We decided instead to head south into Alabama. Hearing this, Kristi strongly encouraged us to stop once more in Indiana. I didn’t respond. Instead, we snuck into town, set up camp, and got a good night’s sleep. We were exhausted after making the entire trip in one day. Normally we’d stop halfway as we try not to drive more than 4 hours, 5 tops, on travel days.

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A frequent visitor to our campsite was youngest grandchild Mia.

The next day we surprised Kristi by taking her and our youngest grandchild to lunch. We lucked into having our oldest grandchild join us too since he wasn’t due into work until later that afternoon.

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Brad, Kristi, Mia & Don at Mother Bear’s Pizza

We’re glad we made the decision to spend a week visiting with our kids. Everyone had a good time. As a bonus, we unexpectedly ran into another camping couple that we had known in our previous life as travel softball parents, Mike and Patty Baker. Mike and Don used to coach sister travel teams in the Indiana Stealers organization. It was fun catching up with them.

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Gabby & grandpa.  We celebrated this youngster’s 10th birthday with a cookout and cupcakes.

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Don with Mike Baker

Then it was time to get back on the road again. Destination? Gulf Shores.

Here’s lookin’ at you kid…..

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The iconic peach water tower of Clanton, Alabama. An overnight stopping point for us.

 

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Wooden Boats

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Other than when our daughter and grandchildren came to visit, this has been the first fun outing we’ve been on since arriving in northern Michigan. Since all 3 of us are fans of classic boats, the Boats on the Boardwalk was an obvious choice to attend.

Interesting bow

Check out the unique raised panel on the bow.

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SO SLEEK! This seamless 1991 Clarion looks like it was carved from one piece of wood.

Louvered windshields to allow air flow when top is up

The hinged windshield allows for air flow when the bimini top is in use.

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Even the interiors are pristine.

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Notice the old style dock bumpers?

Boats on the Boardwalk is organized by the Water Wonderland (Michigan) Chapter of the Antique and Classic Boat Society annually. Held on the river walk along the Boardman River in historic downtown Traverse City, this year’s show, the chapter’s 30th, featured 50 boats from 1900 through present day wooden classics.

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A classic!

1905 Long Deck Launch

The 1905 Long Deck Launch is very different. Seats 4.

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Check out the tail fins on this 1958 Barnes Shark.

We must protect what's important!

In case it’s thrown overboard, it’s important to save what’s near & dear to us.

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Even the ribs are polished to high shine.

We arrived 30 minutes after the show opened for viewing and already parking was at a premium. We shared the narrow dock with hundreds of other classic boat enthusiasts but I must say everyone was very polite. We began our viewing with the hand built wooden boats that local Boy Scouts had assembled. We were duly impressed with the finished products. Each one was unique.  All were row boats except one which featured a small boat motor that had been handed down from the scout’s great grandfather. You could tell the boy took great pride in the motor by just how clean and shiny he kept it.

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This is the scout built boat with grandfather’s motor

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This 1950 Chris Craft caught both Don & dad’s attention.

Check out this old Evinrude. It's as old as I am.

This old Evinrude motor was built in 1956 making it 1 year older than me. I think it’s better shape than I am.

Most of the boats on display were the much coveted old Chris Crafts but there were a few others brands on display too such as Lyman’s, Thompson, and Barnes to name a few.  I noticed a couple of old wood canoes off to one side and one in particular really caught my eye. Perhaps it was the pretty blue color, my favorite. Upon closer inspection I became more enamored with it. The richness of the canoe’s interior wood, the hand caned seats, or maybe it was the style, a 1915 Waltham Courting canoe, complete with pillows, an afghan, and wicker picnic basket that I found so charming. I complimented the owner on his boat and how he displayed it.

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The 1915 Waltham Courting canoe. Isn’t she a beauty?

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I couldn’t locate the year on this Chris Craft. Judging from the style it could be from the late 40’s or early 60’s. 

All of the watercraft displayed were beauties in their own right. The boats were polished to a high gleam, and the interiors and motors or engines were immaculate. One can truly appreciate the hard work that has gone into the restoration and maintenance of these vintage boats. Surely it’s a labor or love.

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Here’s another unique beauty that caught my eye. A 1956 Arena Craft. 

Check out the boat butler

This 1957 Chris Craft comes with an important piece of equipment, the drink butler.

On our return trip home my father insisted we pull into Don’s Drive-In and pick up cherry milkshakes for the ride back. It’s hard to believe that Don’s Drive-In has been a Traverse City institution since 1958 and that pop has lived in the area for over 20 years and had never tasted a cherry shake until 2 weeks ago when I brought him here. Now he can’t get enough of the thick fruit laden shakes. 😋

Until next time, here’s lookin’ at you kid…..

hand crafted wooden kayaks

These amazing hand built kayaks are very lightweight, about 28 lbs.

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A Quick Update

 

Blackberries are coming in

Blackberries are almost ready

Dad’s surgery went as planned on July 18. The heart team was able to go through the groin and the jugular of the neck to replace pop’s heart valve. This was wonderful news since dad was adversely against having his chest cracked open. Originally we were told dad would be hospitalized for at least 5 days before he’d be released to go home but because he opted to have the surgery using only a local anesthetic, thus foregoing being put on a ventilator, he was up and moving the very next day, and he was pain free. Pop’s rebound not only astonished his doctors but the entire heart wing staff as well. He was released in 3 days! I knew dad was a tough old bird.

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The back end of the property, soon to be select cut. 

Don and I got my father all settled in at home. Dad got his 2 X’s per week visiting nurse appointments scheduled and I recorded his doctor and rehab appointments on his calendar. Pop was given a 10 pound weight restriction, a liquid intake restriction, and a no driving for 2 weeks restriction. He was also encouraged to eat a heart healthy diet from now on but anyone who knows dad knows that ain’t gonna happen.  I assured the doctor that as long as we were in town and I was doing the cooking, dad would eat healthy. Other than that, the rest is up to dad.

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The logging continues on state land abutting the property. This is all pine. 

My father followed his regime and continued improving until the morning of the 26th. Don and I were sound asleep in the Suite Pea when the phone rang at 5:30 am. It was pop, asking me to come right away. Don and I hastily dressed and ran up the drive to dad’s. Dad said he’d gotten out of bed to use the bathroom but found himself bouncing off the walls. Included with the dizziness was numbness down both arms and in his hands. He was also complaining of feeling very hot at the base of his head and pressure in his lower chest cavity. The pressure we later determined was anxiety. I called 911 immediately.

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Don & Beau give you an idea how tall the stacks are. Don is 6′ tall.

Apparently dad’s neighbor Mike keeps a scanner turned on 24/7. He heard my distress call and came over right away. What a blessing to have a EMT right across the road! He immediately began checking dad’s vitals and relaying all pertinent information to the ambulance while it was enroute. I rode with pop to the hospital. It was one of the fastest and longest 40 mile trip’s I’ve ever made.

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The scent of pine is heavenly.

Munson Hospital began doing blood work and a series of tests right away. Later that evening we learned dad had suffered a minor stroke that morning. He remained in the hospital another 2 days for observation and testing. Dad was released anew with no residual after effects. We are so very thankful.

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Loggers are also cutting premium hardwood. These are cherry. 

So here it is the first of August and to look at my father you’d never guess what he’s been through the past 2 weeks. Don and I will remain on the property until dad sees his heart team again in September. If pop is given the thumbs up at that time, then we will break camp and depart the following morning. Don has gigs scheduled the end of September in Florida.

Here’s lookin’ at you kid…….

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Our dirty little boy

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Making Progress

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It’s cherry time in northern Michigan

The family property has been keeping Don and I busy while we await my father’s impending heart surgery. Projects that are long overdue are finally being tackled.

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The view from our rear window one rainy afternoon

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Max

The bulk of the property is still in its original heavily wooded state since only the front few acres house living quarters and out buildings. However, a hiking trail was blazed through the back acreage many, many years ago that leads to a two track allowing access to state owned land. My father has long enjoyed taking his terrier Max on golf cart rides on the trail while looking for signs of wildlife. He hasn’t been able to do that the past two years due to downed trees on the trail. Don had wanted to make the path accessible once again so he and dad worked together at cutting and clearing away the downed trees. This worked out nicely for stockpiling campfire wood. Although, once that chore was done Don realized that the blackberry bushes had taken over the back end of the trail since no traffic had kept it worn down so between wielding his machete and the gas powered weed whacker, dad now has access all the way to the two track and beyond.

Dad's "new" fishing boat

Dad’s “new” boat

Another undertaking of Don’s was the cleaning out and organizing (somewhat) of dad’s garage and wood working shed. I’m convinced the garage has never looked as tidy in all the 20 years (probably more) it’s been around. It took Don an entire week to tackle both projects. The trailer is loaded with debris to be hauled to the county dump and I have already carted away a truckload of items to the local Goodwill. But what a difference! I wish I’d have taken before and after photos of the place.

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Mother Loon with her chicks at dusk on Bear Lake

With that chore completed Don decided to build a table top for Beau’s dog cage. The cage is an added piece of furniture we didn’t originally start traveling with. It’s situated in the only place available, between my recliner and the dining table/ desk combo. Adding it meant losing my end table, something I’ve dearly missed. He had intended to use a solid piece of oak for the table top because the Suite Pea’s interior is oak but after pricing it out he promptly changed his mind. Dad suggested using pine boards joined together, then stained with an oak finish. Don was hesitant to do so but pop showed him how to use “biscuits” to keep the boards securely together. I am extremely pleased with the finished product. I now have a place to set my drink and reading material again, and it’s attractive too.

We’ve also tackled some much needed yard work. The overgrowth has been cleared from my grandmother’s grave and hostas and other shade loving flowering perennials have been planted in their stead. I also removed the old statuary (except for one) from the grave site. I’m itching to do away with the one that’s left as well but not wanting to make waves with my father for the time being, I’ll let it remain (for now.)

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There’s still a few around!

I weeded out my stepmom’s flower beds and cleared it of leaves, dead plants, and damaged garden decorations. I planted more flowers here as well but it’s still a work in progress. With the decorations gone, I’ve added more rocks to help cut down on weed growth. Still, more are needed, which means Don and I have more foraging to do on the state forest fire lanes.

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The state is clear cutting the pine forest behind the property

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I do understand the reasons for clear cutting BUT I hate the way the area looks afterward

I’ve been meaning to weed around the community cabin as well but the weather has been uncooperative. We can’t recall a previous Michigan summer ever being as wet and damp as this one.

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I did accomplish one chore that’s been an irritant to me for some time. It seems to be the custom here that items that should be hauled away to the dump are just pitched to the side and left wherever they happen to land. I cannot abide laziness. Never could. What’s the sense in having something if you’re not going to take care of it? So, since the trailer was already heading for the dump with stuff from the garage, it was the opportune time for me to add to it. I had Don follow me around with it in tow while I unceremoniously tossed items in. I was able to clear out most of junk but had to stop as the trailer was overflowing.

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Granddaughters Maddy & Gabby with Maddy’s best bud Jake

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Don & Kristi kayak the AuSable River

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On another note, we were elated to have our oldest daughter, 3 of our granddaughters, and our granddaughter’s friend drive up from Indiana for a 4 day visit. They were able to spend some time with their cousins who were in town too. Don and Kristi planned a daddy-daughter kayaking outing, which our granddaughter’s friend Jake tagged along on. While the 3 of them paddled the AuSable River I took the girls to the Butterfly House and Bug Zoo in Traverse City. Afterwards we grabbed a bite to eat then drove out to Old Mission Point.

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The only other excitement we had was while being visited once again by our local black bear. This time he clawed holes into the trash can, then ripped the cover off our stainless steel grill. Don wasn’t overly disappointed about it, as he’d  been caught eyeballing the new grills at Lowe’s recently. Perhaps he and the bear were in cahoots.

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Old Mission Point, Grand Traverse Bay, Lake Michigan

As for my father, his new surgery date is the 18th. We’ll have a better idea what our future plans will be afterwards. Until then,

here’s lookin’ at you kid…….

cherry-tree

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Biding Our Time

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My father’s surgery at the time we left Indiana was scheduled for June 13. Normally we overnight 1 night along the way when we travel up to the property from Indiana. Anything less makes the trip too tedious. Liz and Randy, our friends from Canada, told me about a favorite stopover spot of theirs when they make their snowbird trips between Ontario and Florida each year. Liz felt it would be a big hit with Don after she learned what a huge turkey aficionado he is. So instead of the usual 1 night stay, I booked us 2.

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When we first pulled in to Camp Turkeyville Don’s comment was, “Why did you book us two nights here?” but within only a matter of hours he was saying, ” I wish we could stay longer.” That’s how nice it was. Perhaps we had just gotten lucky since Michigan schools were still in session and our stay was midweek, there were relatively few RVs in attendance, it was so quiet and so peaceful. What a welcome change after staying at a Jellystone Park! It was rejuvenating.

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Our pull-thru site

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Looking out over the park from our site

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Looking back toward Suite Pea. You can see how empty the park was.

Although Camp Turkeyville is less than 1 1/2 miles off I-69, there is no road noise. Instead we were surrounded by a sea of green farm pasture and woods. I don’t believe the park is all that old. Everything, the grounds, the sites, the buildings, are meticulously kept. The sites are all full hookup, spacious and level. From Don’s perspective though, the best thing about Camp Turkeyville is the on site restaurant with its menu of all things turkey. I didn’t cook once during our stay. Thanks Liz! In the future I see us utilizing this campground often.

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Lots of these critters roam the campground freely…..until they get called to the kitchen.

Dad came out to meet us as we pulled into our “new” campsite on the property. Long time readers of this blog may recall there is a 50 amp, full hookup site here that we have always utilized in the past. When the site was put in, no one expected to have a rig the size of Suite Pea in it. We fit, but it’s tight. The trees are close to our slide outs and prevent us from using our awning. There’s also no good place to park the truck when all the family is up. The property’s layout (or lack thereof) was poorly thought out IF it was thought out at all. The first 2-3 acres of this 10 acre plot hosts 4 trailer park sized trailers, 2 of which have been added on to, and a cabin. It’s over crowded to say the least, and it’s gloomy, very little sunlight penetrates through the canopy of trees. Because of this I was having difficulty accepting that I needed to be back here again this summer…..until Don came to the rescue. It was his idea to park Suite Pea in the clearing at the base of the horseshoe drive. In that area we would have space, some privacy, and best of all, sunlight. He had dad install the electric and with a water line close by, it’s perfect. It’s not a full hookup site but Don said he can easily dump the honeypot at the old site. Not so different than staying in a state park. He’s pleased with this location too.

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Our old site on the property.

                           It’s obvious why we like the new site better isn’t it?

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Our “new” site on the property.

Once we were finished setting up, dad gave me the news. He had just spoken to his heart doctor minutes prior to our arrival. The doctor pushed back dad’s surgery date until after he can review dad’s chemical CT scan results. That scan is scheduled for June 26. Since the surgeon only does heart valve replacements twice a month, the earliest we’re looking at for dad’s surgery now would be July 13.

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Might as well make use of our time then. Don and dad have worked on clearing the trail that leads to the back acreage. A tree had come down over the winter and needed to be cut up. Also the wild blackberry bushes were encroaching and had to be cut back. We’re looking forward to their blooms giving way to the sweet succulent  fruit as we have a 300-400 pound black bear that is making a nuisance of himself. He’s been raiding dad’s bird feeders and destroyed the turkey/squirrels corn bin twice. We know he’ll move on once the berries come in.

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Don has also cleared the overgrowth on my grandmother’s grave for me. There’s some old statuary I want to remove from the site, then we’ll plant shade loving flowers. Grandma’s grave site is away from the family plot so too often it goes neglected. I really should tackle my stepmom’s flower beds too now that  I think of it. It’s more than dad can tackle now that mom is no longer with us.

I’ve also heard rumblings from dad about cleaning out the garage and wood shop. I think I’ll make myself scarce on the day dad and Don tackle that insurmountable project.

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Beau’s Freedom Road

As for Beau, he is loving his new found freedom. We’ve allowed him to run up and down the private dirt road untethered as long as we’re with him. He’s even scared up a few deer along the way during his early morning runs. He seems to be fascinated by them. Beau’s resumed swimming too with so many dog friendly fresh water lakes nearby. I believe he’s in puppy Nirvana. We may have a hard time convincing him to leave when the time comes.

Until next time…..here’s lookin’ at you kid.

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A Little Family Time

I do believe this is the longest I have gone between posts. We’ve been keeping busy is an understatement. We allowed ourselves 5 weeks to spend with our family in Southern Indiana and frankly, it justs wasn’t enough time as we have had something going most everyday. That is until I blew out my back. It took me out of commission for 9 days and even now it still isn’t 100%.

So what have we been doing? We’ve celebtated birthdays with 3 of our granddaughters, Mia turned one, Kendra two, and Maddy is now Sweet 16.

Our oldest grandson Brad graduated from high school June 3. I admit to getting a little misty eyed. Where did the time go? It seemed like it was only a few years ago he was toddling along in our backyard chasing rabbits and squirrels with our Golden Retriever Maggie. We also attended two Honors Ceremonies prior to Brad’s graduation, and his Open House the day after graduation.

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We enjoyed two evenings out with good friends and tried to get together for lunch with old coworkers. That didn’t pan out since I was experiencing back spasms at the time. We tried to reschedule but our calendars just couldn’t jibe with one another’s. Truth is, we didn’t have time enough to see everyone we wanted too.

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A few of our old softball gang

Jack and Suzanne, friends we met our first year on the road live in the same town as our daughters. We intended to get together with them while here but unfortunately we were unable to do so before Jack unexpectedly passed away. Don and I both were sick at heart having missed seeing Jack prior to. Jack had never met a stranger and endeared himself to everyone who met him. He will be sorely missed by many. We did get the opportunity to see Suzanne before we left and were so grateful for that as we were unable to attend Jack’s memorial service. It was held during the time I was laid up with my back.

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This is how I’ll always remember Jack. He loved to fish.

We hosted sleepovers with grandchildren, campfires, and had a family cookout on Memorial Day. Don and I supplied the brats, dogs, and dessert, while the girls brought sides to share. Don had also wanted to treat the women in his life to dinner on Mothers Day. It was quite the gathering with 5 generations of us assembled around a huge table at Olive Garden.

 

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Mother’s Day dinner

We got our annual physicals out of the way and Don was able to have cataract surgery within days of our arrival. Good thing too as he had to be seen by the eye doctor at one day after, one week after, and again one month after. Doc also wants to recheck him in a year. I saw my knee doctor again for a shot of cortisone and we discussed my future options for pain management. Regrettably my back caused us to cancel our dental appointments and we were unable to reschedule in the remaining time we were in town. Good news is our appointments were for having our teeth cleaned and not for dental work.

The grandchildren love the waterpark & pools at Jellystone Campground

And, once more, our Ford 450 lemon lightened our pocketbook up to the tune of $3348 in repairs. ☹️ ‘Nuff said! The truck wasn’t the only issue Don dealt with. Our kitchen sink came unsealed from the counter and dropped 1/2″. Don removed the old sealant, braced it back up, then resealed the sink into place. After sitting a day to completely dry, it’s good as new again. Don’s handyman skills were sought after by my mother as well. He painted her ceiling, installed new blinds, and replaced her bathroom light fixture that had exploded when her house was recently hit by lightening.

Another event that filled us with pride was hearing our 9 year old granddaughter Gabby’s beautiful voice singing songs of praise in church, not once,  but twice. It was only a few years ago she was embarrassed to sing in front of anyone but her immediate family and now she does it before the entire congregation.

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Gabby singing

Its been a whirlwind of activity but I wouldn’t change a thing. Missing my family, particularly the grandchildren, is the only thing  I don’t like about this full time RVing lifestyle. It’s good to go home and get a fix to last me until the next time.

Now we must make our way northward to assist dad during and after his heart surgery.

Here’s lookin’ at you kid…..

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Home to the Blues, BBQ, and Elvis

IMG_1403You guessed it, we’re in Memphis, the “Birthplace of Rock & Roll.” As often as we’ve stayed in or passed through Tennessee we have never visited Memphis. We thought it was time we did. Presently we are camped at the Tom Sawyer’s Mississippi River Park. A no frills campground located in West Memphis, Arkansas but still the closest RV park to Memphis. The favorite pastime for RVers here is watching the barges going up and down the Mississippi from the many riverfront benches. We have a waterfront site and watch them from our patio. It is very relaxing to come back to after spending time in the city.

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Sunrise on the river

Sunrise on the Mississippi River

Now I have an admission to make, before we visit each new area I make two lists, one list gives all of the attractions, tours, etc. that we’d like to visit and the second list, which is Don’s favorite, names the must try restaurants or foods the area is noted for. After we arrived and completed setting up Don queried, “Where are you taking me to eat tonight?” Well Memphis is known for its BBQ  so number one on the food list was Central BBQ. Don ordered a combo plate of ribs, brisket and turkey. I had the ribs, half dry rub, half wet. We both thought this diner had the best darned BBQ we’d ever ate up to this point.

Our jaunt into town the following day started at the Peabody Hotel to witness the march of the infamous Peabody ducks. The tradition began in the 1930’s when a manager of the hotel and his friend returned from a hunting trip. Having had a little too much whiskey they thought it would be a hoot to release a few of their live duck decoys into the Peabody’s lobby fountain. The reaction from the hotel guests was an enthusiastic one and thus began a long standing tradition.

In 1940, a hotel bellman named Edward Pembroke, once a circus animal trainer, offered to deliver the ducks to the fountain each day and taught them the now famous Peabody Duck March. Mr. Pembroke served as the Duckmaster for 50 years until retiring in 1991.

 

 

We arrived about 30 minutes prior to the ducks’ grand entrance and it was a good thing we did as the fowl really bring in a crowd. It was quite the spectacle to see.

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From the Peabody we went to the Bass Pro Shop. You can’t miss it. It’s the huge ostentatious pyramid next to the river. Our purpose was to ride the elevator to the top where an outside observation deck offers views of the Memphis skyline and the Mighty Mississippi below. The store’s interior was pretty amazing too. This one reminding me of a Louisiana bayou.

Next stop was Beale Street to listen to some blues. I love the old-style neon lights that jut out from the buildings up and down the strip. Beale Street is also the location of the A. Schwab variety store. It’s one of those old timey places with a still working old fashioned soda fountain. I can’t resist popping into places like this when I can find them. This one has been in the same location since 1876.

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Beale Street

By the time we’d finished shopping we were ready for a bite to eat. So second restaurant on my list of places we needed to eat at while in Memphis was Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken. We arrived an hour before most folks dinner time and it was a weekday, still there was already a line waiting to be seated and not an empty chair to be seen. I will say the wait was worth it though and I feel Don would agree. He ate 3 pieces, this from a man who doesn’t like fried chicken.

Since Don’s a musician I scheduled a tour I thought he could really sink his teeth into. The following morning found us at Sun Studio for the first tour of the day. The Sun recording studio opened its doors in 1950 and many big names of that era cut records there, singing artist such as Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, B.B. King,  Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and the most internationally known rockabilly of all, Elvis Presley.

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Much of the original appearance has been retained. The single recording studio still has the original recording equipment, acoustic tiles and tiled floor laid down by the Rock and Roll pioneer himself, Mr. Sam Phillips. There is one other original item housed at the studio that often has fans swooning; Mr. Phillips insisted that the item stay at Sun Studio and not be enclosed in a glass box at some museum, he wanted the fans to have hands on access to it. Just what is this fan thrilling item? It’s the Shure 55 microphone used by all the Sun Studio’s legendary singers. Several on the tour lined up for the opportunity to hold the mic and have their photo taken while doing so.

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I decided to continue with the Elvis theme after the tour by taking Don to lunch at the Arcade Restaurant. The Arcade, Memphis’s oldest restaurant (1919), is a 1950’s style diner. It promotes itself as having been Elvis’s favorite place to eat when home. You can dine in his corner booth if it’s available. It wasn’t while we were there. The menu still offers his sandwich of choice, a fried peanut butter and banana. It can be ordered with or without bacon. I tried to talk Don into getting it but he said it sounded like an artery clogger to him. Ya think?

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The black arrow under the word restaurant points to Elvis’ booth.

We spent the weekend holed up inside the Suite Pea on account of the steady unrelenting rain. I didn’t sleep too well Friday night. I had visions of us floating downstream trapped inside our rig even though logic said otherwise.

Neither of us are Elvis fanatics but we do like most of his music and I did grow up seeing all of his movies at the matinee. So how does one not visit Graceland on their first trip to Memphis? That’s how we spent Monday. We arrived early hoping to avoid the crowd but found the first two house tours fully booked. Apparently a bus tour company had booked in advance. As it turned out, it worked out for the best. We  toured the other exhibits, excluding the airplanes, first.

First we toured Presley Motors, his automobile museum. Don was chomping at the bit to see Elvis’ 1955 pink Cadillac. Even though there was a bevy of vintage beauties on display, the pink Caddy was my favorite too. It brought to mind fond memories of my parents 1953 pink Cadillac they had when I was first learning to drive. How I loved that car! The museum also included many of Elvis’ motorcycles, boats, and tooling around Graceland toys.

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We continued through his career museum, family archives, concert costumes, and an exhibit on how he influenced other musicians. We finished just in time to catch our tour bus to Graceland proper.

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Graceland

Upon entering through the specially designed “musical” gates my first impression was what beautiful grounds, and what a lovely house…..and then we entered through the front doorway. My second impression was…I don’t want Elvis’ interior decorator anywhere near my home. Lawd how gaudy!!! I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything so ugly in all my life. Don was amused too. He said he had expected to walk-thru a huge majestic mansion, instead it wasn’t much different than any other upper middle class home, except for the tacky decor.

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The famous Jungle Room with green shag carpet on both the floor & ceiling.

After the house tour we moved on to the surrounding grounds and out buildings, finishing up in the Meditation Garden. The garden is tastefully done. It is here where Elvis, his mother Gladys, father Vernon, and grandmother Minnie are laid to rest side by side. Surprisingly it was less crowded here than inside the house.

Meditation Garden

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Our thoughts once the tour was complete? We felt we’d paid too much, $117 not including another $10 to park, and this was with Don getting the Senior discount. There is a cheaper tour, house only, that would’ve cost us $86 not including parking. Perhaps we would’ve thought differently had we not been herded through the house quickly and had the tour group size been smaller. We would recommend the tour only if you’re a die hard Elvis fan or if you’re insatiably curious with money to burn.

Afterwards we went back to Central BBQ to eat. We had discussed trying the que at Charles Vergos Rendezvous but then decided why mess with perfection. You know it must be good when a man who professes to not care for ribs eats his slab and a third of mine too.

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The remaining two days of our Memphis stay we spent catching up on household chores and prepping to move, that and appreciating our view of the river.

Here’s lookin’ at you kid…..

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