Sunday, June 26, 2016

Hart Montague Bike Trail

Hart Montague BikeTrail


Friday was a day off for both Tom and I, and Bryce was working, so we decided to load our bikes on the Jeep in the morning and go for a bike ride before it got too hot.

The Hart Montague Bike Trail is a “rails to trails” park that runs 22 miles along Us-31, between Hart and Montague.

We parked in Mears, and picked up the trail at about the 2 mile mark.

It’s a nice wide, level asphalt path . . . not too hilly, so it’s a pretty easy ride!



The first part of the trail runs through cherry orchards and farm fields.

Cherry Trees are loaded!

New trees











We’re in a very agricultural area here – there are cherry orchards, peach orchards, apple orchards, and the asparagus capital of the United States (who knew??!!)

There were some interesting rock pillars at the edge of the cherry orchard.

Interesting rock pillars

It was a beautiful morning, not too hot and just a nice light breeze.  The next couple of miles were shady,

Shady section of trail

until we crossed under the freeway and got close to Shelby, then it was a little sunnier.


Getting into Shelby











Shelby is the biggest town that the trail passes though, and it runs parallel to Main St., through an industrial area.  There’s even a picnic pavilion.













A couple of miles after Shelby (total of 8-1/2 miles from where we parked in Mears) we reached our destination for the day, Country Dairy.


It’s so convenient that the bike trail passes right past their driveway!  We obviously aren’t the only ones who think so!

Quite a few bikers at the Dairy today











It was close to lunchtime, so we decided to split a personal pizza (they have excellent pizza; sandwiches, too), and each get a bottomless cup of milk.

Bottomless Milk

YUM! Chocolate milk, ice cold!

We thought splitting the little pizza would leave room for an ice cream cone, but we filled up on milk!  Oh well, we’ll have to come back again for ice cream!

You can take a tour of the farm and dairy operation, but we never have.

Waiting for their tour

Tour Wagon

It’s a very pretty farm, with quite a long history.


Cows relaxing











After walking around for a bit, it was time to get back on the bikes and ride the 8-1/2 miles back to Mears.


It was warming up into the 80s, but still a beautiful day with just a light breeze, so a pleasant ride back.


We did take advantage of a couple of the rest stops on the way back, though . . .

Taking a break










It was a really nice day, and didn’t even feel like we rode 17 miles!  Although Tom did crash in his recliner when we got home . . .

I went to the pool to relax and read, and Tom joined me after a little while to enjoy the rest of the afternoon.  A nice start to the weekend!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Another project complete–solar lights


Hey, we have a sign now . . . I guess we’re official!!

Settled back into the campground, we managed to complete another project while Bryce had a couple of free mornings this week.

I had seen these solar light holders on facebook, and I really liked them.  I also thought they’d be perfect for campgrounds that don’t like you to stick anything into the ground.

We bought six terra cotta 6” pots and six solar lights.  Tom had to open up the drain hole in the bottom of the pots so that the solar lights would fit, and that proved to be the most difficult part of the project.  A step drill bit (which he had to borrow from another camper), followed by the dremmel tool managed to get the job done – and without breaking any of the pots!



Then Bryce and I painted them – three of them in green and three blue.






The next step was to find our patterns.  Bryce, of course, wanted the green ones to have Spartan logos, and I was putting NAVY on the blue ones.  WE printed out our patterns, and each decided on a different method of getting them on the pots. 

Bryce made stencils out of his patterns, and painted inside the cutout areas,




and I traced the outline of my patterns with a white pencil, and then filled them in.




I think they both turned out pretty good!




We placed them around our patio, and across the front of the RV.


I had to go back out at night to get some pictures of them lit up!


They look really good!




Another successful project completed!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Celebrating the Graduates

With the three of us fully prepared for our upcoming college days, we left East Lansing and headed southeast to my Mom’s house.  WE had a few appointments to take care of, and Bryce was getting his wisdom teeth out on Thursday.  That was a little bit of a bummer, since we had his graduation party planned for Friday, and his cousin’s graduation party was on Saturday.  We were hoping for the best!

Fortunately, it was also prime strawberry season in Michigan, so I picked 10 pounds of strawberries one evening – a tasty treat for Bryce’s party, and for us!!


Bryce’s celebration was a small gathering of family and a few friends, so I did all of the cooking myself.  It was fun to host a party again, even if it was at my Mom’s house and not our own.  One thing I didn’t make was the cake – I think my days of baking and decorating cakes are over – it’s easier to just order one from a bakery.

I ordered this one from Monica’s Baker Boy in Monroe, and it was really good . . .














and in Bryce’s favorite colors of Spartan green and white!









It was a beautiful evening for a party, and it was great to spend time with our family and friends!

The next day was our niece, Kathleen’s, graduation party and it was another beautiful day.  Before going to the party, we met up with our friends Harriett and Rita at McDonalds for a couple hours.  They were supposed to come to Bryce’s party, but they got mixed up and thought the party was on Saturday!   That’s OK – we just had a little private party with them!! Smile

We also went to mass at the hospital chapel, and it turned out that our retired pastor from our old church was saying mass.  He recognized Tom and I immediately, but was blown away by Bryce.  I think Bryce was in 1st grade when he retired.  It was great to see him again!

Bryce would not let me take any pictures of his puffy face at his party, but I did manage to get a few of the graduation cousins on Saturday.

Graduating Cousins

Such a handsome young man – I can hardly believe he’s out of high school and moving on to college!












On Sunday, we packed up the Jeep, said our goodbyes to my Mom, and got an early start so we could meet Tom’s Dad (along with Tom’s brother and sister-in-law) for a Father’s Day lunch at Denny’s.  It was a nice wrap-up to the weekend, and we were back on the west side of the state, settled into our home by 6pm.

It was a busy week, but fun, and now we’re getting geared up for the busy season around here!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Orienting ourselves as college parents

Last week we left the motorhome at the RV Park and travelled to East Lansing for Bryce’s Academic Orientation Program, as well as our Parent Orientation Program.  Following Orientation, we were going to spend the rest of the week with my mom, so we packed up everything we needed and closed up the slides on the motorhome. 

Then, as long as we had all the slides in, we decided to move over about 18” from the edge of the concrete pad.  When we had arrived on May 1st, we parked right along the edge of the concrete, but that meant our drivers side slides were over the grass – which added challenge for the mowers, and made us a little unlevel, as the concrete is sloped slightly at the edges.  Moving over fixed up all of that.  Tom left the water and sewer disconnected, but kept the motorhome plugged in for the refrigerator and A/C.  OK, with that work done, we were ready to go!

Check-in was at 8:30 Monday morning, so we left on Sunday afternoon and booked a hotel for the night.  There’s not much to do in a hotel room, so once we got settled into our room, we went in search of dinner, and some shopping.

East Lansing is “Spartan Country”, and you sure can tell . . . we found the Sparty Hall of Fame Cafe where we had a tasty dinner and enjoyed looking at all of the memorabilia. 

Spartan Hall of Fame Cafe

Sparty Department


Even the local Walmart had a Spartan department!  Bryce found a Spartan tank top, which he’s been wanting for a while.

After shopping, we treated ourselves to some frozen yogurt . . . YUM!

Menchie's after dinner

Bryce’s Orientation was two days, including an overnight stay in the dorms, but the Parent Orientation was just the first day.  On Monday morning, we parked in the designated parking structure, and from there we went our separate ways.  Bryce gathered with the other incoming freshman and the student orientation staff, and Tom & I walked to the Kellogg Conference Center for our program with the rest of the parents.

Welcome Parents!

Our day consisted of a series of presentations --


Academics, Finances, Safety, Transportation, Medical, Residential and Food Service . . . the list goes on and on!

We took a break for lunch, and many of the parents (including us) decided to try out the dining hall just across the street from the Conference Center.  It’s quite the dining hall – a major step up from what I had in college!  For $6 per person, you had a multitude of selections – homestyle foods, asian, italian, grilled, pizza, salad bar – and no limit to what you could take.  Actually, there is one limiting factor – TIME!  This is such a popular dining hall, you could end up waiting in line at a particular station for 20 – 30 minutes!  I chose shorter lines (salad bar and italian), but Tom went for the stir-fry, which had a ridiculously long line.  I had my food, spent 10 minutes looking for a place to sit, and had started eating before he even got his food.

It’s definitely not the closest dining hall to Bryce’s dorm, but I’m sure he’ll go there sometimes . . . I recommended going for dinner, when he has plenty of time!

We won!!


After lunch, we went back for more presentations (arriving a little late!), and managed to win a prize!  Yay!








We were almost done with presentations when suddenly we heard an alarm!  Everybody was looking around, wondering what it was, when a voice came over the loud-speaker, saying that it was, indeed, a fire alarm and we would have to evacuate the building!

Just a short delay!

We waited out on the sidewalk while the fire department checked everything out, finally determining that it was a false alarm and that we could go back inside.

With that little delay over, we finished up the presentations and then walked over to the dorm, Wonders, where there was a resource fair going on. 

Wonders - where Bryce will live

Wonders just happens to be the dorm where Bryce is going to live this year.  It looks like a nice building from the outside, and the common areas appear to have been updated recently.  I’m not sure what the rooms look like, though.

Michigan State is broken up into 5 “neighborhoods”, each with their own dorms, dining halls, classrooms, tutoring centers, libraries, medical clinics, fitness centers and other amenities.  The common areas in the neighborhood are housed in what is referred to as an “Engagement Center”.

Neighborhood Engagement Center


Wonders is part of the South Neighborhood, which was Bryce’s first choice due to its close proximity to the buildings where he is likely to have classes, and the athletic facilities.

The Football Stadium

He's close to the stadium

The Breslin Center – where basketball is played

Breslin Center

Tom and I spent some time in the Resource Fair, talking to several organizations and picking up lots of freebies for Bryce, and then realized we had just 30 minutes until the last dorm tour.  We wanted to see the quad-style rooms, since that is what Bryce will be living in, and the building that was open for tours was all the way on the opposite side of campus.  We could have gone back and got our car, driven to another parking structure, and then walked to that dorm, but we decided it would probably be just as fast to walk from where we were. 

WOW – not sure that was a good move!  This is a REALLY big campus, and we just barely got there by the 6pm tour time!  We made it though, and the orientation staff welcomed us with bottles of water . . . and we got our own private tour!

So, this is the style of room that Bryce will have, but it’s in a different building, so I’m not sure if they look quite the same.

I kindof hope the hallways in Bryce’s building are a little more sedate than these!




The rooms don’t look too bad, although I think my rooms in college were bigger.

Typical dorm room











The bathrooms are pretty basic, not even a countertop!


Pretty basic bathroom

They do have some extra storage space,

Storage Space

and with the beds lofted like they are, there’s room for a futon and TV, frig & microwave.  They do have cable and internet in the rooms (which I didn’t have in college), and free laundry facilities.  I think there is also a common kitchen somewhere in the dorm, but I’m not sure that gets much use with the unlimited dining options they have!

After our tour, Tom and I walked back to our car, and our Parent Orientation Day was complete.  Well, at least I have a pretty good idea of where things are on campus now!  I could find my way around if I had to!

Dinner - finally!


It was almost 8 o’clock when we finally found a place for dinner – late dinner for us – but we were so relieved to be sitting down!

The food was really good, too!

I’m not sure if we’re quite ready for Bryce to leave the nest, but we are well educated on the ways of Michigan State University, so I guess that’s all we can ask for right now!