Saturday, September 24, 2016

Back home again – different campground


When we were getting ready to leave Silver Lake at the end of the summer, we planned to spend several days back at our old standby near family, Camp Lord Willing, but after checking several times in the weeks before, they were completely full on the days we were going to be there.  Plan B, since we were only going to be there for a few days and not months like we have in the past, was the local state park.

Fortunately for us, this park was completely renovated about 15 years ago, and now all the sites are paved and there are quite a few that are full hookup, which is not normal for a Michigan State Park.

Before heading to Monroe, though, we first had to make a one-night stop in Shipshewana to stock up on supplies.  We arrived at another of our regular parks, and were surprised to learn that they were full!  Yikes – what’s going on?!

They did manage to find an electric only site for us, and since we were only staying one night, it was fine.  Actually, it was a pretty nice site – nicely shaded in the afternoon sun!

Shipshewana South











We did our shopping – popcorn at Yoder’s Popcorn Store; steaks, sausage and pork chops at Yoder’s Meat Store; bulk foods, spices, and candy at E&S – and then went to dinner at the 5 & 20 Restaurant, another favorite.  It was a full afternoon, but then we were ready to head out in the morning.

We made our way to Monroe, taking back roads to avoid tolls and construction in Toledo, and arrived by 1pm. 

After getting set up on site 160,

Site 160

Tom rested for awhile while I got some work done,

A little bit of relaxing











and then we headed down to my Mom’s house to go through our mail and get some dinner with her.

The next nine days were a whirlwind of meetings, appointments, dinners out, and work for me, but we did manage to see all of the family at  least once, and a few friends, too.

On the Friday morning, we drove out to East Lansing to bring Bryce home for the weekend so that he could get registered to vote, see the family one more time, and have an early celebration of his birthday . . . oh, and he did a little bit of yard work for Grandma, too!

Donnie's present required explanation


Bryce's birthday cake



I was also able to attend my niece, Kelly’s, baby shower.  Our family is growing by one more girl next month! 

Opening presents

She got several nice quilts, courtesy of her mom and aunts.

Doggie quilt


My sister Diane made this adorable doggie quilt – it’s so cute!








So cute!

My sister Tina made this giraffe quilt – another cute one!

Another cute quilt!

On Sunday afternoon, we drove Bryce back to East Lansing and said our goodbyes again . . . for a little longer this time . . . we won’t see him until Christmas!

Between all the busy-ness,Tom and I did manage to do some bike riding on the nice bike paths they have at the state park, and spent one evening sitting around a fire with the hosts (we were camped right next to them).

Sterling State Park is sandwiched between two power plants – one traditional one,

Power Plant

and the nuclear power plant, Fermi II,

Fermi II











on the Lake Erie coast.

Lake Erie


The campground is mostly empty at this time of year,

Quiet campground during the week

and the beach has more geese and seagulls than sunbathers.

Scaring the seagulls away


The water looks pretty clean, though, and Lake Erie seems to be high, just like Lake Michigan.

The water doesn't look too bad

The park has a multi-lane boat launch, and it was getting plenty of use while we were there . . . the fishing must be good in Lake Erie!  We rode our bikes through the campground and day use areas several times, and also around the channel by the boat launch.


Crossing this bridge will take you the rest of the way around the channel.

Bridge over the channel

Tom on the bridge

It made a great backdrop for some beautiful sunsets!

Beautiful sunset

Along the bike paths, there are benches for resting or just sitting and watching the birds, or the sunset.

Sunset_September 20th


Anice spot to watch the sunset

Even the steam from the power plant took on a pink tint in the setting sun!

Power Plant

As our 9 days in Monroe came to an end, it was time to get back on the road and get back into travel & explore mode, making our way down to South Carolina where we’ll spend some time with Nicolas while volunteering at the Santee National Wildlife Refuge.  We may not have the boys with us anymore, but we did pick up a new passenger . . .



Tom’s dad is travelling south with us, and will stay with us through Nicolas’ graduation.

This is a whole new experience for him – travelling in the M/H, staying in campgrounds, and exploring new places – it’ll be quite an adventure!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Mt. Baldy Hill Climb

Mt. Baldy Hill Climb


Our last weekend at Silver Lake certainly was a busy one!  In addition to the Apple BBQ Festival, on Sunday was the Mt. Baldy Hill Climb at the dunes.

Mt. Baldy is the steep slope on the back side of the ORV area of the dunes – it’s got to be about a 60 degree slope, and over 100 feet tall!

Twice a year, the DNR opens it up for vehicles to climb, and it’s become quite a spectator event.



We arrived around 10:30, and the fun had already gotten started.  There was quite a crowd gathered to watch!

A good crowd gathered to watch the hill climb

We tried out several spots in the crowd before we finally settled into a location where we could see most of the hill and get some good pictures.  If only they would trim some branches off those trees, the view would be better!


The vehicles participating in the climb are grouped into categories by vehicle type and horsepower . . .

there were sandrails,




and trucks.











As each vehicle took it’s turn on the hill, they lined up at the bottom, revved their engine,

Waiting for the wheels to catch

and then launched up the hill!

Then they launch!










The more they spin their tires, the better launch they get . . . but it also takes time . . . and ultimately, the best time wins!

Some of them are pretty radical, though!

This guy really threw some sand!

Before taking off, their crew members pack sand behind their rear wheels to add traction . . . but they need to be careful to get out of the way!  These guys weren’t quite quick enough!


It was fun to watch, and “the Green Jeep” was one of our favorites . . . he was quick, too!

This guy was FAST!

His front tires are off the ground!

That wrapped up our summer at the dunes . . . it was fun, with lots of new experiences!  Now we look forward to getting back on the move!

Leaving Silver Creek and getting back on the road!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Silver Lake Apple BBQ Festival

This past weekend was the big end-of-season event in Silver Lake – the Apple BBQ Festival.  It’s a very popular event, and all of the local campgrounds, including ours, were fully booked.  The festival used to be included in the Kansas City BBQ Competition circuit, but that was dropped for some reason this year, but there were still many BBQ enthusiasts from around Michigan – there was plenty of great BBQ to choose from! 

Lots of food vendors

The event also included a large craft show, musical performances, and a classic car and buggie show scheduled for Saturday.

The weather forecast for Saturday was sounding a little iffy, so we thought we’d go on Friday afternoon to see the craft show and get some BBQ for dinner, and then we could go back again on Saturday if the weather was OK.

Our friend, Kathy, joined us and the three of us rode our bikes into town.

We walked through the craft show first,

Craft Show



and we saw lots of really nice stuff.  Kathy found lots of things she was going back for, and I even found a couple of gifts to buy, and a homemade apple crisp kit.  It’s pretty rare that I find things to buy anymore, but I did . . .and I can’t wait to make the apple crisp when we get to South Carolina!





After walking through all of the craft booths, we were pretty hungry (the BBQ smell was really getting to us!), so we headed over to the food vendor area.

Food Vendors

We checked out all of the BBQ vendors,

Smokin' ribs

Now that's a smoker!













and there were several that looked really good . . . and smelled really good, too!

There were BBQ ribs, brisket, pulled pork and BBQ chicken . . . as well as sides like corn on the cob, french fries, and cole slaw.

We looked at all of them and calculated how many tickets we might need, and then went back to select our dinners.  Tom went with the brisket sandwich and I got pulled pork, and Kathy got the pulled pork sundae (pulled pork with mashed potatoes, gravy and cheese – topped with a cherry tomato).

We sat at a picnic table and listened to the band while we enjoyed our dinner.

Musical Performers

We were all really happy with our choices, but then some people sat down next to us with ribs . . . and those looked REALLY good!  Tom said if we came back on Saturday, he was getting the ribs!

For dessert, the three of us split a piece of apple pie with vanilla ice cream, and then had to try Petey’s Donuts!

Gotta try the donuts!

Apple-cinnamon donuts . . . they were good . . . almost as good as the apple orchard back home!

Oh, so good!


To work off all that food, we walked back through the craft area to pick up all our purchases, and then rode the bikes back to the campground.

On the way past the lake, I spotted a beautiful sunset in progress, and just had to stop for a picture!

Beautiful Sunset!

Saturday proved to be rainy, as promised, and we weren’t sure if many of the cars were going to show up for the show.  Tom and I ended up spending most of the day inside getting the motorhome ready to leave and doing laundry, and only went out later to go to church and get some ice cream at Country Dairy afterward.

Country Dairy

It looked like the rain was done when we got there, but while we ate our ice cream, we had another storm roll through!

It made for a beautiful sunset when we got home, though . . .




Just two more days, and we’ll be back on the road!  It’s been a pretty great summer!