Monthly Archives: June 2014

By Dan

May 31, 2014: Saturday Still at Peninsula State Park. Our last day here before we leave tomorrow. This is a great park and a beautiful part of Wisconsin. I can see why folks from the Midwest come here to summer vacation. We did not do a whole bunch today. I went for about a 20 mile bike ride this morning and then we went into town to the library. But, it was closed. So, we sat near the library and used the internet for a bit. We went back to the RV and just hung out. I scoped out the road to get out to see if we had clearance for the trees. Yes we did.

 

June 1, 2014: Sunday. Leaving Peninsula State Park. We are heading south around Green Bay and heading up to see Mike and Leigh Begres in Iron Mountain Michigan. They are Nate’s God parents. They were the first folks we met when we moved to Bend in 2002. They were living in the same apartment complex. We are looking forward to seeing them and visiting Iron Mountain. We got into Iron Mountain about 2 and did some shopping at the local Wal Mart. Mike and Leigh met us in the parking lot since he had a soccer game close by. We drove over to their house. Beautiful in a real nice wooded neighborhood. We had a great dinner. Mike cooked up some great hamburgers. We then drove around town for a bit with our first stop at Pine Mountain Ski Jump. One of the biggest ones in the world. It was so cool to see. I had been here before! We climbed the 500 steps to the base of the actual ski jump structure. Nate and I kept on climbing towards the top of the jump. It was quite a bit steeper than what you would think and a bit scary near the top. The record for this jump is over 400 feet. Where they are flying is just about straight up and down, that is how vertical the land is there. We then drove around a bit more and then headed home. I have been to Iron Mountain before. Mom and Dad brought us here when we were about 10 years old. On that trip, we began at the Wisconsin Dells and then went on over to Mackinac also. We camped in their drive way which was great.

 

June 2, 2014: Monday. Mike took the day off to spend time with us. That was great. We drove over to the Iron Mountain Iron Ore Mine in Vulcan. We took the tour. It was great. It was about 38 degrees in the mine. Cold and damp. We were under the ground by about 450 feet. They showed us where they mined the iron ore. It was a great tour. From there, on to lunch at a small café out in the country that Mike knew of. It was great. On the way back, we went for about an hour hike along the 4 piers over looking the Mennominee River that divides Wisconsin and Michigan. There was some good whitewater. Today was kind of a rainy, not rain day. We had a great chicken dinner that Mike cooked up. They were chickens that Mike and Leigh had raised. It was great to see them but going to be a sad day tomorrow to leave.

 

June 3, 2014: Tuesday. Sad day. Left Mike and Leigh’s. Mike had already left for work so we had to say good bye to him the night before. We are heading to Straits State Park in St. Ignace MI!! This is one of Sally and my favorite spots from our 1998 trip. We are down in the lower part of the park, so we thought we would have a water view of Lake Huron. No, not really. We are only about 50 feet from the lake, but our site is wooded and did not have a good view. However, since no one is here really, we just took our chairs over to a campsite that did have a water view. We had a full on view of the Mighty Mac, the Mackinac Bridge that is over 5 miles long. It is just like the Golden Gate bridge but about 2,000 feet longer. We got here sort of early, so I took a bike ride into town. It is only about 1 mile from here. I saw a few familiar sites like Castle Rock and the boat docks. It was fun. Not much has changed in 16 years. Our campsite is #8. I did not think I could get the RV in it, but I did. It took some maneuvering. We all slept good that night.

 

June 4, 2014: Wednesday. We just hung around the RV today. Eliza was not feeling well. She has been a real trouper on this trip. She is such a kind, caring, generous, and go with the flow person. We are so blessed to have here as our daughter and Nate is the luckiest brother in the world. So, I went for a good bike ride again today. The mosquitoes were awful down by the lake. I had to ride thru swarms of them. I just ducked my head and it sounded like rain hitting my helmet. Oh well. So, it was a quiet day. I took my chair down by the lake and read. I am reading Inferno, book one of Divine Comedy written by Dante. I have always wanted to read it. It is his journey into the 9 rings of hell on his way to Purgatory and eventually ending up in Paradise (Heaven). What I do is read a chapter then I google cliff notes to review what I read to get a better understanding and see even if I understood what he wrote. It is hard to comprehend. But, well worth it. Tomorrow we head over to the Island.

 

June 5, 2014: Thursday We are up early to ride our bikes to the ferry to ride Sheplers Ferry over to Mackinac Island. I think it is pronounced Mackinaw for some reason. There are no cars on the Island. Only bikes, walking, and horse drawn carriages. Even the UPS guy was getting his boxes off a horse drawn hay rack. We rode our bikes around the Island. It is about an 8 mile ride on a paved state highway. It was a great bike ride. We also rode up to Fort Holmes, the highest point on the island. It was cool. Nate, Eliza, and Sally did a great job of riding today. As usual, Nate was always in the lead just riding as hard as he could. Oh, on the way over to the island the ferry took us under the Mighty Mac bridge. That was way cool to do that. Just like going under the Golden Gate Bridge. If you have not been here, you need to come here in the summer and do the island. There are tons of cheap hotels in St Ignace. We did not go on the deck of the Grand Hotel. It costs $10 each just to sit on the veranda, so we passed. We spent the money on fudge. There are tons of fudge shops on the island. Eliza did some gift shopping. It was a great day. It was sunny, little wind, and warm out. The ferry ride was kind of spendy, $25 each PLUS $9 for each bike. You could rent a bike there if you want, but we wanted our own bikes. We came back on the 3 o’clock ferry. We were all tired.

 

June 6, 2014: Friday. Sally was not feeling well today. So, we just hung out. I ended up going on a 35 mile bike ride over and by Lake Brevort. It is a big lake. There was not much traffic, so it was a nice ride. When I got back at about 1, I took Eliza and Nate to the library for wifi time. Sally took a nap. I did some trip planning for Florida to see where to winter near Orlando Walt Disney World. There are quite a few parks to choose from, but since we will likely stay there a couple of months, I want it to be a good, safe, quiet, park. For dinner, Eliza, Nate, and I stopped by the grocery store and got spaghetti with Italian sausage. It was a great meal. Eliza cooked up bread in the oven that was done perfectly. She is a good cook. Sally has done a good job of teaching Eliza and Nate to cook.

 

June 7, 2014: Saturday. We are still at Straits State Park. We drove the 50 miles up to Sault St Marie to see the busiest locks in the world. We saw one freighter that was 1,004 feet long and 105 wide. It was huge. It took him about an hour to go thru. He had to enter and exit very slowing since the lock is not much wider than that. We saw 3 freighters do thru while there. For lunch, we went to Lock View Diner right across the street. Nate had a huge hamburger, his food of choice. Sally had a wrap which she liked and Eliza had a good salad. I bought a Pasty, a local food which is dough wrapped around meat and vegetables then cooked. I wanted to have one since you don’t find these often. I hate to say it, but it was a small portion and really did not have much taste even after I doused it in gravy and ketchup! Oh well, at least I had one. We saw a beautiful Catholic church in town. We visited briefly with the local bishop. He had been there for 17 years. There is a sky view tower next to it, but we passed on that. So, we headed home. The 50 miles on the most desolate freeway. There was hardly any traffic. We got back around 4 or so, so I went for a short bike ride. I think I am just about 100 miles shy of 2,000 miles for the year. It was another beautiful day. Sunny and about 70 here but slightly warmer in Sault St Marie. It was about 82 there. I like this 70 degree, low humidity weather off the lake. But, the mosquitoes are just horrendous!!!

 

June 8, 2014: Sunday. Happy Birthday Larry, my brother. We went to the Methodist Church, founded in 1881 for church. It was a very nice church. Sally is still not feeling well so we just hung out for awhile. I went down by the lake to read and took a nap today. Nate made a good chocolate cake. I have to say it is one of the best cakes I have ever eaten. We got bad news today. There is a huge forest fire in Bend OR. It is up to 6,000 acres with no containment and it is right next to Bend off Johnson Market road. I know some folks who have been evacuated. The smoke plumes going up are huge. This is bad. We are praying for relief and safety. Bend is our hometown and we hope that they get it contained soon. Not much else going on today. Getting ready to leave tomorrow. I met a fellow camper who is from Travis City MI. He asked what we were doing all the way from Oregon so I told him our story. He is the 2nd person who has said doing this trip really took some courage. The other person was Dan Crouse, a really really good friend of mine. The more I think about it, it really has taken courage to do this trip. I will admit, it has been hard sometimes and the transition from work routine and such was somewhat of a challenge. Tons of folks dream of doing what we are doing, but I guess it really does take some courage to actually do it. Thank you to all of you who are reading and understanding this. I did not think that this would be so hard since we were living our dream. If anyone would like to visit about this if they have this dream, I would love to do that. It has been almost 6 months since we left Bend. It seems like a long time and a short time. Time is starting to fly by. For instance, I can’t believe we left my Mom’s 4 weeks ago. Before we know it, we will be seeing Dave, Claudia, and the boys in Charlotte. Where is the time going. I saw a license plate on an RV that said YOLO. What do you think that is an acronym for? Please let me know. I will disclose later. Love you all. Take care

 

June 9, 2014 Monday: We are leaving Straits State Park today. We have spent the past 6 days here. It was a great time. But, we are not sad to leave the mosquitoes behind!! Given the site we were in, #8, we had to ask a neighbor camper to move his pickup truck so I could get out. It was too tight. The morning was sunny and cool. Nice morning. We are driving to Finn Road Campground next to Bay City, MI. It is supposed to be on Lake Huron. However, there is no sight of the lake. We are aways off the lake. No worries. Sally and Eliza are not feeling well. So, this is a good campground to rest, sleep, and relax. We are in site #44 which is a good paved sight. Full hookups which is nice after about 2 weeks with only electric at Door County and electric at Straits State Park. The drive was mostly freeway. Nice drive, but kind of boring. Just trees and more trees. Not much to see really. Bay City was a cool town. Lots of old homes and mansions and big churches. We got there by about 1 pm, so we set up and I went for a bike ride. I rode for about 18 miles. I even bridged the gap and passed a farm tractor driving along side the road. That was kind of cool. We just hung out in the RV the rest of the day. Guess what? No mosquitoes. It was a good day. Sad that Sally and Eliza are sick though.

 

June 10, 2014: Tuesday. We are still at Finn Road Campground. We are here for 2 days. This is Nate’s favorite TV day. NCIS for 2 hours. Yes, it is kind of sad we are on this trip and we are still watching TV. How do we go about breaking that habit? Well, if not for TV we would be on our personal electronic devices. So, . . . what to do? I guess it does give us a break. Sally went grocery shopping to Kroger today. We stocked up before we get to Canada. I rode my bike into town. I visited two churches today. The Catholic Church was beautiful. The Presbyterian Church had a circular sanctuary. It was spectacular. Both had beautiful bell towers and well over 100 years old. I like looking at the churches. No passing tractors today. Sally and Eliza are feeling somewhat better. Other that that, we hung out in the RV. I cleaned all the windows and cleaned up all the dead mosquitoes that we had smashed. I also vacuumed the rig. It was nice to have a clean rig. I hope everyone is well back home. It has been a good week for me. I spoke on to the phone with five great friends of mine from Bend: Mike Tennant, Ron Bryant, Rod Kirk, Kevin Scalise, and Kirk Morrow. The first three guys are clients I met while working at the bank and they are considered very good friends of mine. I miss them and it was great to visit with them on the phone. I am looking forward to re-establishing a relationship with them when we return to Bend. Kevin and Kirk are two kindred spirits I met while at US Bank. So, it was great to make contact with them. I have ridden Cycle Oregon Weekend with Kevin. I learned something new today! Sally talked me into an iPhone, remember. I finally started listening to music on it with the headphones. I cannot believe the quality of the sound. It is fantastic. I watched a you tube video of Greg Allman doing Midnight Rider. The video and music was outstanding. I am going to do more of this!

 

June 11, 2014: Wednesday. We are off to Wayne County Fairgrounds campground in Belleville, MI. We got there at about 1 pm. It was mainly freeway the whole way. On our first big trip we did in 1998, we had a rule to stay off the interstate freeways. It seems like a good rule until you see that it takes twice as long off the freeways. It uses more gas to drive slow through all of the towns. The last thing is I guess I like the freeways since they are safer and with a big RV, I don’t have to worry about narrow roads and low hanging limbs on trees. It is a big campground. We are parked on grass. It is nice and quiet. It rained hard this afternoon. I did something new again today! I used our gps for the first time today. Yea, stupid me. We have already driven over 8,000 miles and this is the first I have used it. I should have been using it the whole time. To put our distance in perspective for you, we have driven over 8,000 miles thus far and our itinerary to my brother Dave’s house from here is only about 3,500 miles. So, based on our whole trip back to Bend, we have probably driven 50% of the distance. Thank you God for no accidents. We pray in the name of Jesus that we don’t have any in the future. We trust in God. I only drive 55 so I am not speeding anyway and I am cognizant of what is going on around us. The GPS brought us right to our campground. I guess I am kind of anal, I also write out the directions the night before from my iPhone. Another good use of the iPhone. It really is pretty cool. As Sally said to me, I have the world in my hands. We are cooking chicken for dinner in the over. It finally turned out sunny, but no bike ride today. That’s fine. I have been off coffee now for over 4 weeks. I am feeling pretty good and do not miss it. I hope that helps me so I can handle the rides better at Cedar Point without getting nauseous. Take a look at the Cedar Point web page. We are going to ride some scary, brutal rides. They have You Tube videos of them. The Millenium. 310 feet up with an 80% drop. The Dragster shoots out at 120 mph and goes up 400 feet and drops straight down. It is over in an exhilarating 17 seconds!! I am hoping to do them. I promise Eliza and Nate I will do them. This is once in a lifetime chance to do these rides.

 

June 12, 2014: Thursday: We are at Wayne County Fairgrounds outside of Detroit MI. We drove into downtown Detroit today. We walked along the reclaimed water front along the river. The big sponsor is General Motors. Their corporate headquarters are right there. It was very beautiful. However the rest of Detroit is bleak. It really is a run down city with not much going on. The down town is bleak. From there, we drove north to a store that Sally wanted to see. Leon and LuLu’s. It is an eclectic store with tons of stuff. Sally read about it years ago and wanted to go. So, that is why we are at Wayne County Fairgrounds for a couple of days. Neither Sally and I have ever been to Detroit. We got back to the rig mid afternoon. I went for a bike ride and scoped out Belleville, MI. It was a cool small town with a couple of lakes and a nice mainstreet. The bike ride was fun. Tomorrow we leave for Cedar Point. It is not far of a drive, only about 110 miles.

 

June 13, 2014: Friday. We woke up to the “circus coming to town.” There is a pagan festival going on at the fairgrounds this weekend starting today. They look like they are going to have circus rides. It is funny, because the small town of Belleville just 2 miles away is having a parade and carnival rides this weekend too. So, good time to leave Wayne County Fairgrounds. The campsites were small so it is not going to be to our liking. We left our 10 am. Freeway driving the wholeway to Sandusky. We kind of took a circuitous route through Sandusky to get to Cedar Point. Eliza helped me with the smart phone. We will do a better job of leaving town. So, we drove on to Cedar Point Drive and saw the rides! Wow, they go way up. The park is on a point of land surrounded by Lake Erie. It is beautiful. The campground is very nice and landscaped well. It is walking distance to the amusement park. We get and early one hour start tomorrow since we are camping. Eliza has it all laid out. It is her goal to ride every roller coaster. It is my goal to be right along side of her to enjoy them, especially the big rides, Top Thrill Dragster and Millenium Force. We spent the afternoon at the campground. Tomorrow is a big big day. This is one of the top five highlights of things to see on the trip. We have been dreaming about this for years. The biggest amusement park in the country with the biggest and best roller coasters. Note that I said top highlight of things to see on the trip. It is still more fun and important seeing all of our family and friends on this trip. That is what is important plus the family time we are getting. I am so blessed by God to not only have been given a great/wonderful supporting and loving wife and two great/awesome kids, I now get the blessing of getting to spend time with them every day. All three of them are so precious to me. I spent quite a few years building up a career and I will likely have another one when we get back to Bend and probably not have a real retirement per se, but Eliza and Nate are only with Sally and me a short time so we are so blessed to have this time and means to do this. Thank you God. Eliza is so excited about tomorrow! That is worth the whole trip right there.

Advertisements

Day 165, Iron Mountain, Mi

20140604-202338-73418757.jpg
!

At the end of our Iron Mountain mine tour in Norway , MI – so fun ! Dan, Eliza, Leigh, Ellery, Samuel in Mike’s arms, Bella, Sally and Nate .

We went 450 feet into the mountain , barely downhill , for which some of us will be eternally grateful ! It was 38 degrees and Leo gave a great tour , if a little fast . The red train we rode had bench seats that faced one way . Not sure why we had to wear rain slickers as there weren’t many drips , but we were happy to wear the matching dorky hats. Except for Sammy ; he wanted the hat , just not on his head !

The mine closed after WWII when iron ore prices dropped in half , so the mine was no longer profitable . It had been open since the middle 1800’s; 3 shifts , 24 hours/day . When they mined the larger stope, they took out 22 million pounds of iron ore . The cavern was so long that a 10 foot cutout of Big John looked about a foot high . Glad we couldn’t see how deep it was .

It was upsetting to hear other facts , such as that the men only earned 7-13 cents an hour for the dangerous work . They ate lunch in the mine, so didn’t see daylight for hours . (I can’t even imagine.). When an area was blasted , they also stayed in the mine, and their candles would go out . They’d have to relight them and get back to work . The hardest to hear about was the fact that these men knew they were getting black lung disease and would die from it , but kept coming back to work for their families . So glad we took the tour .

The rest of our visit with Nate’s godparents was just as perfect . In between rain storms we hiked , biked , ate too much , and hugged a lot . I couldn’t keep my hands off the kids ; they are adorable !!! So fun to finally meet them .

One evening we went up 500 steps to the Pine Mountain ski jump . A guy from Austria just set a record in February for a jump of 471 feet . In the air . Crazy ! Even better , Dan remembered visiting with his family in 1970!

The Mosquitos followed us, of course , and are such a nuisance . Even after the record hard winter , they are thriving . We’ve lost count of our bites we have so many . A clerk told us the whole upper Peninsula is out of bug spray , so we’re conserving the little we have left for hiking . Nate and I made a catcher for inside the rig they get in so fast . Beyond gross .

It was a treat to see our friends , and to see how God is working in their lives . If anyone doubts God’s power and glory , they could look no further than this family. I am so grateful for their love and the time we had with them , and it was so hard to say goodbye . But we know we’ll see them when they come visit us in Bend …!

Day 163, Door County WI

Almost 2 weeks exploring Wisconsin , and we are sad to leave . It’s a beautiful state – green trees , rolling hills , nice people . So much to do ! We crammed in as much as we could, and even watched a couple DVD’s when the rain came down in buckets . The newscaster said that as the weather had kept up , it was raining 8″ an hour .

Luckily , we got to Door County and had good weather for a few days . We stayed at Peninsula State Park again , just like in 1998. 3,000 acres of biking , shoreline and bliss . Couldn’t remember which site we had camped in , but I do remember calling Mom from a pay phone , crying . We had been car camping for over a month , and we had 5 straight days of rain here . We also remember the raccoon trying to get into our tent in the middle of the night , and our kind neighbors who left us all their wet wood because they couldn’t take the rain anymore .

The little towns in Door County are charming with their shops and cafés, with Egg Harbor being our favorite for the local specialty – cherry ice cream. Num!

The real highlight, however , is Green Bay on one side , and Lake Michigan on the other . They are both breathtaking ! We visited the quiet side to see Cana Lighthouse again . Unfortunately , they built up the cause way so you don’t have to walk through water to get to the island anymore . And they charge for setting foot on the island , even if you don’t want the lighthouse tour . (The Wisconsin parks charge for everything – even a bike path needs a permit .). The island was just how we remembered it – lighthouse and keepers residence , kerosene hut , and the outhouse . They are trying to raise funds to restore everything and Nate and I hoped they’d leave the last building closed . It still stinks !

We had a good time at the Fish boil for Nate’s 13th birthday , but I’m going to let him tell you about that . Suffice to say that the bus load of already tipsy tourists pulling up in the middle made it more amusing .

We had one really memorable bike ride in the park . Nate, leading like a wild man , Dan and Eliza riding along and talking , and me bringing up the caboose on the recumbent . I knew there were hills coming up, so I was hanging back to enjoy flying down them . Dan yells “snake”, Eliza gets around it , and I’m stuck on the other side of the peninsula by this 5′ snake ! He’s enjoying the hot pavement , and yes , I know they can’t hear , but my loud screaming must have vibrated his world because he stopped and just kept looking to either side . At us . Swamps on both sides , so nothing to pick up . Finally he slithers away and I rode across as fast as I could . We didn’t ride that trail again !

The other memorable creatures were the Mosquitos . Capitol M because the things are huge . And so prevalent that I joked if they could swarm closer together, they could hold up the camera to take a pic of our family . Really , too many . In the RV , Nate took care if them . In the car, we’d roll down windows to try to get them out . In the shower house , it was every man for himself . Nate’s body count beat mine by 14 this morning, but I swell up worse when bit. We’ve all taken Benadryl and are a bit loopy.

So now we’re off to Iron Mountain , MI where Nate’s godparents live . Looking forward to hugging them and meeting their kids . We’re sure the Mosquitos won’t be this far north .