Thursday, August 17, 2017

On the move again–from Ohio to Michigan–Eastpoint RV Resort

Hitched up and ready to go

It’s been a busy summer, but we save some time at the end for “vacation” with Bryce before he goes back to Michigan State.  He’s been working LOTS of hours, and he needed a break before going back to school.

Celebrating his last day at Cedar Point

So, yesterday was his last day at the park and we celebrated our last night with one final visit to Toft’s Dairy for ice cream cones.  We sure are going to miss that place . . . but it’s good that we’re getting away from it . . . we were WAY too close – too easy to get there!







Tom spent the day yesterday getting all the outside stuff put away and checking the tires , and getting ready to travel again, and this morning after Bryce headed to the hospital for his last day of volunteering in the Physical Therapy clinic, we got hitched up and rolled out of the campground shortly after 9am.

Ready to roll!

He would follow in his car a few hours later, and meet us at our next campground.  Our destination was a new campground on the west side of Michigan – one of our favorite locations!

We knew there would be some construction in Toledo,

Crazy construction - and this wasn't the worst of it!

but this wasn’t even the worst of it – the transition from I-280 to I-75 south (to get to I-475 and US-23 to go north) was SO narrow, with concrete barriers on both sides, and not straight!!  IT was scary – I had to close my eyes and just hope Tom didn’t hit anything!!

Back in Michigan!

We made it through there, though, and safely across the state line into Michigan! 







Our next construction zone was in Ann Arbor, right at the exit to our old house!

Where we used to live












This area wasn’t so bad, and hardly slowed us down at all.  The forecast was calling for rain all day, and potential severe thunderstorms, but we were lucky – we only had a light shower as we drove through Lansing.  By the time we pulled into a rest area for a quick lunch, the rain was done!

We arrived right around 2:30pm, and quickly got set up on our site.

Eastpoint RV - our home for the next 4 days

So happy to be back on pavement!

With the work complete, we took Casey for a walk along the river,

Walking along the Grand River

Casey enjoying her walk









and then went for a swim to cool off.

Now, that’s a pool!!

Now, that's a pool!!

We met our neighbors at the pool, and a guy in the hot tub who has been fulltime for 3 weeks.  We had a nice time getting to know both of them, and Bryce showed up while we were there.  We ended up sitting in the hot tub until 7:30, so there was no way I was going to cook at that point . . .

On the way into the park, we noticed a little pizzeria that we had eaten at about 15 years ago when we were camped in this area.

Pizza for dinner

Fricano's Pizza

Pizza sounded like a good option when I didn’t feel like cooking . . . and we could walk there!

We couldn’t quite remember if we liked it, but I know it’s pretty famous in this area, so we gave it a try.

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Mmmm . . . thin crust pizza!










Bryce was bummed that they didn’t have pineapple or ham (very limited topping choices), but the sausage was really tasty, and overall the pizza was good.  Very thin!!

When we walked outside, it was raining – just a very fine rain, but coming down pretty hard, so we hung out on the porch for a few minutes . . . and watched as a beautiful rainbow developed right before our eyes!

Full Rainbow!

Beautiful!!

As the rain stopped and the sun came out from behind the clouds, it got brighter, and began to double!

Double Rainbow

We walked back to the RV Resort, hoping that our open windows in the motorhome didn’t let too much water in!

The rainbow continued to amaze!

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IMG_4715Hey, where's that pot of gold!?!

It was a beautiful start to our vacation!

Beautiful sunset

Monday, August 14, 2017

Out and About in Sandusky–a collection of small adventures

Not everything we do on a daily basis is worthy of a blog post on its own, but there are lots of little things that I want to include, so I just put together a post covering some of the little things we’ve done over the last month.

One quiet weekday afternoon while I was working (I think I was dialed into a meeting, in fact), there was a sudden roar outside, and I caught a flash of yellow and blue outside my window.  It was a crop duster, but almost could have been an acrobatic plane, with the maneuvers he was making!

Tom was outside with the neighbors, and managed to get a few pictures.

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He floated right over the top of the corn,

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skimmed the tops of the trees along the edge of the campground, and did flips in the sky above us!

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We’ve tried several restaurants in town, including a mexican place in Huron,

Mexican Dinner night

and a really good italian restaurant, where neighbors Jim & Nancy joined us – Bryce, too – it was one of his rare nights at home!

Sortino's

IMG_4631Nancy and Tom with the Pope

Tom and I finally spent a day at the beach . . .

Gem Beach

Gem Beach is on Catawba Island,and it’s not a bad beach . . . for Lake Erie!  It was actually hot enough that we got in the water . . . up to our knees, anyway!

Tom at the beach










One day on facebook, I saw a post for a Brewfest in downtown Sandusky, in the park along the Bay.  We thought it might be worth a drive into town while we waited for Bryce to get home from work – you know, like Happy Hour.

Brewfest

We found it, but it was quite a bit smaller than we had expected – there were a few crafters, a couple of food and beer vendors, music,

Musician at Brewfest

and some games set up for family fun.

This Battleship game looked pretty cool, actually!

Lifesize Battleship

We did enjoy a great view of some nice boats,

Boats in the Marina

Sandusky Bay











but after about a half hour, we bailed and headed back to the campground for our own Happy Hour!

I stumbled onto the Farmers Market one Saturday morning,

Sandusky Farmers Market

Quilt Shop

and that was much more impressive, with multiple local farmers, some food vendors, and several crafters.  It was conveniently located right across the street from a cute Quilt Shop, too, so that was a double bonus for me!  I can’t believe I didn’t find it earlier in the summer!






Last weekend, we finally managed to get together with a friend from work who had retired almost two years ago.

Hi Tom Toth!

He and his wife sold their house, bought a Ford F-350 and Mobile Suites 5th wheel, and set out to be fulltime RVers.  Their daughter lives in Ohio, so they spend the summer in a seasonal campground not too far from us.

Eagle Lake Campground is a great little park – very clean and quiet, and they have a great corner site!  We visited for a while in their beautiful RV, and then took a drive to a local winery, Chateau Tebeau.

Chateau Tebeau


It was a beautiful winery, right in the owners’ backyard, with a tasting room,

Tasting Room

and lots of seating on the patio.  We enjoyed a cheese & cracker plate, along with a couple bottles of wine, while comparing notes on fulltiming, and just occasionally slipping into “Ford talk”!  They have live music later in the evening on the weekends, and he was just getting set up when we were leaving.

Lots of patio space

Pizza for dinner

We picked up a pizza at a local bar on the way back to the campground, and enjoyed it outside before taking a walk to see the rest of the campground and enjoying the sunset over the lake (although the clouds got in the way!)







Eagle Lake

Eagle Lake











Those clouds almost look like mountains . . . but we are in Ohio!

Thanks for a great visit, Tom and Karen!  We were glad we finally managed to get together!

Thanks Tom & Karen!

OK, so that wraps up all the little adventures we’ve been having.  Amazingly, the summer is winding down, and we’re getting ready to move on from here . . . Bryce has just a few more days of work, and then we’ll move up into Michigan for some “vacation” time before we move him back into Michigan State and start our fall travels!  We’re ready!

Meanwhile, down in Virginia . . .

Nicolas is getting acclimated to his new home and had a successful first underway.  Once they arrived back in port, the ship moved up the river to the Shipyard in Portsmouth for scheduled maintenance.

Sure looks big moving up the river!

Ike transitting the Elizabeth River

Mighty Ike


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge

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On all of our drives between Toledo and Sandusky, we passed by the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge numerous times, and we kept telling ourselves we needed to stop by and check it out.  Last weekend, we had a cooler day on Saturday – a perfect day to take the top down on the Jeep and go for a drive. 

This wildlife refuge is pretty much the northern version of the Santee NWR, where we volunteered last fall – it’s the summer home for ducks, geese, and other migrating waterfowl. On the weekends, there’s a 7 mile wildlife loop that’s open, allowing the public to drive into the water management areas of the refuge.

Wildlife Drive along Crane Creek

We stopped in the Visitor Center first,

Refuge Visitor Center

to look around at the displays, talk to the volunteers, and get our “blue goose” stamp in our NWR passport book.  The Visitor Center is really beautiful – even nicer than the one at Santee, and I thought that one was really nice!

There were several nice displays – a hunting lodge,

In the den

a muskrat house,

In the Muskrat house

and an amazing duck display!

Duck Display

From the upper level, you could look out at the gardens and the boardwalk behind the Visitor Center,

Boardwalk behind the Visitor Center


and also down at the Volunteers’ Desk in the main area of the VC.

Volunteers' Desk

We stopped to talk to the volunteers for a few minutes – compared notes on our experiences volunteering in Wildlife Refuges (they volunteer at Waccamaw NWR, which is at the other end of the Francis Marion Forest from Santee NWR in South Carolina), and he gave us some tips on wildlife to look for as we explored the refuge.

Before setting out on the wildlife drive, we took a walk along the boardwalk and around the pond.

Wildflowers along the boardwalk

Boardwalk











Along the boardwalk

Visitor Center

Pond behind the Visitor Center

Armed with a map labeled with the location of several bald eagle nests and additional tips for spotting wildlife, we set out on the wildlife drive. 

We drove past wildflower meadows, cornfields, and along the banks of Crane Creek.

Crane Creek











We saw a few Great egrets,

Great Egret

Great Egret

and located the volunteers’ campsites (nice!),

Volunteer Campsites - nice!

but I didn’t see even one bald eagle, and never even spotted any of the nests!

The lily pads were in full bloom, though,

Lilypads in bloom

Liliypad flowers

and we came around a corner and spotted a Trumpeter Swan with three babies.

Swans - mom and babies

She attempted to hide from us in the tall reeds,

Trying to hide from us











and then just led them away.

Swimming away

They’re quick swimmers!

Staying close to mom

We left them alone and finished the wildlife drive, then headed over to the hiking trails, where the volunteer had told us we might find a whole group (flock?) of trumpeter swans.

We starting walking along the side of the canal, and we could see something out there in the distance.

Getting closer

Pretty daisyThere were lots of beautiful wildflowers, and we spotted a Great Blue Heron.

Great Blue Heron

As we got further along the trail, we could see that it was a group of swans hanging out between the canal and the lake.

Large group of swans

There were a few in the water, too,

Trumpeter Swans

and more going in as we got closer.

Headed for the water











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We got fairly close without creating a disturbance, but this guy was flapping his wings and showing off his feathers.  They sure are large birds!

This guy appears to be shooing everybody away

We weren’t quite brave enough to walk through the group, so we turned around and headed back to the Jeep.

We got a nice view of Davis-Besse in the distance,

Davis-Besse in the distance

and spotted another Great Blue Heron.

Great Blue Heron


Our last stop for the day was at the Magee Marsh Wildlife Area.

Magee Marsh

The Visitor Center was closed already, so we drove straight down to the beach trail.  There is a huge parking lot at the beach, but apparently it’s not for beachgoers . . .

This beach is for the birds!










We walked along the beach, along with several others who were searching in the rocks along the shore.

Beachcombers, too!

Tom asked one couple what they were looking for . . . sea glass.  We had a couple days of strong winds and big surf, and it had turned up lots of new treasures on the beach.

I found a piece of blue sea glass, which this couple told us was quite rare, and a really good find!  I may have to make it into a necklace . . .

It was a really nice day, and we enjoyed our explorations of the wildlife refuge.

Beach Trail