Sunday, August 29, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Last Thursday was my Dad's birthday, so we met up with the rest of my family at the lake. 


Tom was at the Kentucky Truck Plant last week for work, so the boys and I headed to Indiana when I got home from work on Thursday.  It was just the three of us and my parents Thursday night, so we had a campfire and played some card games. 

On Friday, the boys and I went shopping in Shipshewana -- the bulk food store, the meat store, and all of our other favorite stops in town.  We picked up steaks to go with the green beans and potatoes that I brought from home, and when we got back to the campground we fixed a delicious birthday dinner for my dad.

Saturday was "Party Day", and it was beautiful!  My sisters and I enjoyed the sun and warm weather at the beach while we read our books, and the boys enjoyed a boat ride and competitive game of jarts with their uncles.


It was a day of fun,



good food,


and family!


(They were thrilled to know that they were going to be in my blog!)

Later, after a delicious dinner, we had chocolate cake and ice cream with homemade fudge -- YUM!!

Happy Birthday, Dad!


Back at home, I checked out the blogs of our fellow RV-Dreamers, and put together our homeschool schedule for the week.  I also remembered that I needed to drop in on Paulette and sign up for her "Lady Go Go" giveaway that ends on Tuesday.  Fellow quilters -- go on over there and check it out!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Campground Review -- Cedar Point Camper Village

Dates we stayed here:  August 18 - 21, 2010 (Wednesday - Saturday)

Location:  Sandusky, OH (on-site at Cedar Point Amusement Park)

Our site:  #160 in Circle B

site 160

Since we were only staying for three nights, I chose an electric-only (30 amp) site in order to save a little money.  The 30-amp sites are arranged in three concentric circles around a bathhouse.  The bathhouse is also the location for filling your fresh water tank.  The innermost circle consists of smaller back-in sites, the middle circle contains pull-thru sites, and the outermost circle is made up of larger back-in sites.  Each site has a gravel or asphalt pad with patio area, a large picnic table, and a picnic grill (for charcoal cooking -- no campfires).

electric only sites

This outer circle of sites were plenty long for our camper, even for opening the dovetail door.  Maneuvering onto the site was a challenge, though, with the curved narrow road, closeness of the campsites, and the use of short wooden posts to mark the sites.  We had to stop Tom several times to keep him from hitting one of those!

The rules state that, according to Ohio law, there has to be 15 ft. of clearance between adjacent camping units -- including slides and awnings, and that it's each camper's responsibility to maintain that clearance.  However, the sites barely have 15 ft. between them, so it's virtually impossible to maintain that spacing.  Luckily, nobody ever enforced that rule!

Circle B is the original campground, and it's age shows in the bathhouse.  It's pretty old and not in the greatest shape.  On the upside though, there are some really nice shade trees on the sites.  Back-in sites are $66.00 per night, and pull-thru sites are $71.00 per night.

Across the road, the newer area of the campground (Lighthouse Point) consists of larger, full hookup sites on wide roads, with paved pads and patios, and landscaping between the sites for privacy.  They have the same picnic tables and grills.  Back-in sites are $76.00 per night, and pull-thru sites are $81.00 per night.

FHU sites

The bathhouses in this area are much newer -- large, clean and air conditioned!  There is also a laundry facility in this bathhouse.  Lighthouse Point includes cabins and cottages, in addition to the campsites, and has sidewalks throughout the facility.

Amenities:  There is a large swimming pool, hot tub and sprinkler area in the center of Lighthouse Point, which is open to all campers, as well as the cottage and cabin occupants.

campground pool

Near the pool, there is another bathhouse, with (4) separate facilities, each with a toilet, sink and combination shower/bathtub, and a gameroom that is open 24 hours.  Campers are also welcome at either of the (2) hotel pools and the beach at the Breakers Hotel.

hotel pool

All resort guests can purchase single-day amusement park tickets at a discounted rate of $29 each (gate price: $46.99), and are allowed into the park one hour early, during which select roller coasters are operating.  The "Resort Entrance" to the park is conveniently within walking distance of the campground, although there is a shuttle bus if you don't want to walk.

When you arrive at the Park, you enter through the main gate and will be charged for parking ($15 for RVs), but that is reimbursed when you check in at the campground, and you receive a parking pass for the remainder of your stay that allows you to come and go as often as you want.

Our overall opinion:  Camping here is expensive, but if you're going to the park, the convenient location cannot be beat.  We'll stay here again, but I'll probably pay the extra money to be in the newer, full-hookup campsites.  We probably wouldn't be staying long enough to really need FHU, but the larger sites and wider roads are worth the extra cost.

Monday, August 23, 2010

they're tall, and they're fast, and they're incredibly exciting!

Roller Coasters, that is!  Last week, we took our boys for their first-ever visit to Cedar Point . . . the roller coaster capital of the world, and an extremely popular destination around here!

As kids, Tom and I each remember long, early morning car rides to Cedar Point, and the sleepy ride home late at night.  But Cedar Point now has a very large campground, so we decided it would be much nicer to camp on-site.  Our frequent camping buddies, Paul & Tari, and their kids, Hannah & Jensen, were camping, too.  Tom's brother, sister-in-law, and our niece were staying at a nearby hotel.

It's only about 125 miles to Cedar Point from Ann Arbor, so we set out after Tom got home from work last Wednesday.  Along the way, we crossed the huge new bridge over the Maumee River in Toledo,

I-280 bridge

passed by the Davis-Besse nuclear plant,

Davis Besse

and saw some interesting businesses!

happy hooker

Finally, we arrived

cedar point sign

and crossing over the Cedar Point Causeway, we caught our first glimpse of the giant roller coasters that the boys could not wait to get on!

first glimpse

Cedar Point is on a peninsula between Lake Erie and the Sandusky Bay, and the campground is at the very tip of it.  So . . . after maneuvering the RV through the very narrow entrance lanes and making a couple of crazy 90 degree turns, we wound our way around the outside edge of the park.  This gave us a great close-up view of some of the coasters that were going to challenge us.  There was Raptor,


which takes riders through loops and twists while your feet dangle in the open air!  I opted out of this one, but everyone tells me it was one of their favorites, so I'll have to try it next time we go back!

Then there was Maverick (new in '07),


which is known for it's quick launch up the first steep incline and a 90+ degree drop, followed by loops and twists, and I'm not sure what else!  I rode this one, and it was wild!

Then there was Millenium Force,

millenium force

known for it's towering first hill and high speed (98 mph)!  I did not try that one, but Tom and the boys LOVED it!

Arriving at the campground, we were parked in the shadow of Mean Streak,

mean streak

a particularly brutal wooden coaster, from what we're told . . . none of us got around to riding that one, although the kids would have, I'm sure!

After a short mishap involving a wrong turn, we finally arrived at our campsite and got set up.

our site

We had a quick bite to eat, and then went for a walk around the campground to check things out. 

We had decided to wait until Friday to go to the park (pure torture for the kids!!) when Tom's brother and family would be there, so on Thursday we went for a drive into Norwalk, OH, where I had a gift certificate to a quilt shop (had to spend it - it was going to expire at the end of the month!), and Tom did a little motorcycle window-shopping.

shopping for bikes

Back at the campground, we spent the afternoon at the pool,

tom and nick

and visited the "Challenge Park" for go-carts


and mini-golf in the evening.


We made plans to meet outside our camper at 8:45am sharp, the next morning.  The park didn't officially open until 10am, but since we were staying on-site we were allowed to enter one hour early and there were selected roller coasters that would be running.  I didn't even have to wake my kids up in the morning!! LOL --  You would have thought it was Christmas!!  They were up and ready to go!!  We had a great time -- in addition to all of the roller coasters, we also rode the swings,


and the monster,


along with several other rides, and watched an extreme sports (bikes, rollerblades) demonstration that was really cool!  We also rode a few water rides . . . you know how they have signs that say "You will get soaked on this ride!", but then you barely get wet . . . well, on these rides -- you REALLY do get SOAKED!!

all wet

Lucky for us, we were just a short walk from our campers, so we went home for lunch, dry clothes, and a short rest -- then we were back at it!  The kids saved "the best for last" -- the Top Thrill Dragster,

top thrill dragster

and around 8:20pm got in line to have themselves blasted forward at 120 mph, up a vertical incline, and back down -- all in 17 seconds!  They had a little bit of a wait (our only real wait of the day!) -- almost an hour -- and it was about 9:15 when they finally had their ride.  Tari, Jensen and I watched from the "spectator stands" that they have set up next to the track.  That was really something -- I couldn't believe they rode it -- but they all loved it!

So that was it -- the boys thoroughly enjoyed their first trip to Cedar Point, and they're already planning on going back next year!!

Monday, August 16, 2010

A quilt, a contest, home showings and homeschool

So much for one topic per blog . . . LOL :)

It's been a busy week around here!  We arrived home from Empire to find that somebody wanted to schedule a showing of our home (our 1st this year -- yeah!!).  Good thing we had just gotten home from vacation!  I'm pretty particular about having everything CLEAN before we leave the house, and we hadn't been home long enough to mess it back up!!  We heard that that person (the wife came by herself) liked it enough to want to return with the husband later this week -- yeah!!  In the meantime, we had another call for a showing.  Just got that feedback this morning, and they said it was their favorite of the 5 homes they saw . . . that's good news!

OK, so things are looking up in the "home sale" area (Thanks, St. Joseph!) . . . hopefully one of these may turn into a serious prospect!

Other than keeping the house clean, I've been trying to get the boys ready for our first year of homeschooling.  I've ordered all of our curriculums, and they are slowing arriving in the mail -- I'm excited; I hope they are, too!  We're going to slowly phase into school this year . . . we started math today (so much of the beginning stuff is review), and are planning on getting the 1st chapter out of the way by Labor Day.  Nicolas' online biology class starts next Wednesday, and we'll probably do the Spanish placement exercises next week, too.  Then, after Labor Day, we'll get the rest of it started.  Right now, I'm working out a schedule, so we can effectively juggle computer-time, mom-time, and whatever other time we need!

I've also spent some time sewing, and finally finished my "Between Charming Friends" quilt-along quilt . . . well, at least the top is done.  I'm going to have it machine-quilted, so that will be a little while before it's done.  I think it turned out really cute, though, and will make a nice addition to the RV!


I'm also working on a "Turning Twenty" quilt -- queen-size -- for the bed in the RV.  That goes really fast, so I should have it done soon, and can drop both off to the longarm quilter at the same time.

Several quilt bloggers out there have won these Accuquilt cutting machines that look really cool and make short work of cutting out multiple pieces of fabric!  In fact, Karen over at "Sew Many Ways" is having a give-away of one, so I just might win one, too!!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Campground Review -- Indigo Bluffs -- Empire, MI

Dates we stayed here:  July 27, 2010 - Aug 2, 2010 (Tuesday - Monday)

Location:  3 miles east of Empire, and 20 miles west of Traverse City, on M-72.  Great proximity to Sleeping Bear Dunes, Leelanau Peninsula, and Traverse City!

Site #: 46 (and our friend, Todd, was on 47)

Our site was HUGE, with a dirt/sand surface, several trees, and we had water and 30amp electric.  We paid $36/night.  This site was located at a Y in the road, so that gave us extra room for maneuvering our big rig into the site.  Once parked, we had plenty of room for the truck, bikes, Todd's food tent, and anything else we would have wanted to put on the site.  Nicolas even had room to open the rear dovetail door.

Todd's site was smaller, and he had a few more trees to deal with, but it worked OK for him.  We had all of our campfires and meals at our site.

We arrived without a reservation (after moving from another campground), but called ahead for availability.  They do have full hookup (50 amp) sites for $42, and pull-thru FHU sites for $48, but none were available for all the days we were going to stay.  We were in what's called the "Rally Park", but they also have a Class A Motorcoach Resort adjacent, which is very upscale (paved roads, stamped concrete sites, landscaping).  The lots in there are owned by individuals, but the ones that haven't been sold yet can be rented for $55/night. 

This is the entrance to the Class A area.

Conveniences:  Rooftop antenna didn't pull in many channels, but we had beautiful weather and didn't miss TV at all!  The workampers had satellite dishes out, so I guess they were getting reception.  Our Verizon signal was very good, and the campground wifi worked well, also.  We were located within a couple hundred feet of the bath house where I was picking up the wifi from.

Amenities:  The campground is surrounded by woods, and the perimeter was all rustic tent sites which they no longer rent out, so there were lots of areas for the kids to explore and ride bikes.  They have a small store combined with the office,

with a beautiful pool area connected to it.

The on-site Managers (Jim & Janice), and the workampers that we met were all very nice and helpful.  The bathrooms were kept exceptionally clean, and my husband said the showers had good pressure (since we had water, I used the RV shower.)  The showers were coin-operated, though.  Firewood was available (delivered to your site) for $4.50/bundle, and it was probably the best firewood we've ever bought from a campground.  They keep it stored in a barn, so it's nice and dry!

Overall, we think this was a great campground, and we would definitely stay here again!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Wrapping up our trip to Empire, MI

On Sunday, we started preparing for our departure by rolling our awning, putting aware our outdoor carpet, taking down Todd's food tent, and generally cleaning up the RV.  Afterwards, we packed a picnic lunch and headed over to the city beach in Empire.

It was pretty crowded, but we found ourselves a spot in the sand.  I enjoyed the sun while reading my book, and Tom played frisbee with Bryce and Kylie in the water for awhile and then walked the beach. 

Nicolas, the "chick magnet" was attracting some attention of his own.  Just standing there, minding his own business, and three teenage girls came up to him and asked if they could take his picture!!  What's up with that!!??!!  He is a cutie, but . . .

After awhile, we lost the sun, so we headed back to the campground.  After dinner, Todd helped us out by taking some pictures of the rig, and us with the rig, that we can use for ID cards and our workamper resume.

This morning, we woke to a little bit of drizzle, so we were glad that we had done a lot of the outside jobs yesterday!  We finished packing up and hitching up and headed over to the dump station.

Just as we were finishing up there, the charter boat group came in from their morning on Lake Michigan, and they had an incredible catch!  Captain Bill weighed each of the salmon as he handed them down to the fishermen to hang in front of the cleaning shack.  This big guy was over 15 lbs.!!

Not a bad day's catch!

After admiring the fish, it was time for us to hit the road.  We said "Good-Bye" to Todd, Josh and Kylie and they took off ahead of us -- they have a lot longer drive than we did.  Hopefully, they'll decide to keep the RV so they can meet up with us again somewhere!

We pulled out of Indigo Bluffs at 11:30am.  With stops in Mesick for diesel ($2.89/gallon) and lunch, and a "rest break" just north of Lansing, we arrived home at 5:00pm and had the RV unpacked and parked in the barn by 6:00pm.  It was a great week, and we can't wait until our next trip!

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

We woke Saturday morning to a steady rain, so we took our time getting out and about. The rained stopped around 11am, but it looked like it was going to be an overcast and slightly cooler day.

Sounds like a perfect day to visit the dunes!

We drove over to the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive in the National Lakeshore, and loaded Bryce, Josh and Kylie into the bed of the truck.

Nicolas rode with Todd to keep him company. We saw

a covered bridge,

Little and Big Glen Lakes (the bridge is the one we drove over yesterday on our way to Glen Arbor),

basswood trees with exposed roots,

and another tree that looked like it was trying desperately to hold onto the side of the dune!

At the Lake Michigan Overlook (by far the most popular stop on the scenic drive!), we saw lots of people disregarding this sign.

It certainly look menacing from this viewpoint looking down!

The kids are wondering if they should give it a try,

and we made sure they knew that WE wouldn't be rescuing them if they couldn't make it back up!!

Kylie wanted to go, so Bryce and Nicolas agreed to go with her -- they're on their way down!

In just under 4 minutes, they were at the bottom and cooling their feet in Lake Michigan!

Nicolas was like the little engine that could -- chugging his way up the mountain -- he made it back to the top in 12 minutes!

Bryce hung back and stopped to make sure Kylie was making it, so they took a little longer -- 17 minutes for them to make it to the top!

They were pretty exhausted when they reached the top -- especially Kylie!

We took some more pictures,

and then finished up the scenic drive. By then, it was time for an early dinner at Joe's Friendly Tavern in Empire, and then Tom & I and the boys went to mass. Back at the camper, we relaxed around the campfire for the evening. For a day that was rainy and overcast, it turned out to be pretty good!