Sunday, October 30, 2011

Ford Driving Skills for Life


This truck travels around the country, presenting these programs at high schools.

On Saturday, Nicolas attended a teen driving program sponsored by The Ford Fund.  It was a mini version of the half-day program he attended back in the summer at our Test Track.  There were just 12 kids in a 40-minute session.  They started with an introduction to the program, and a description of the two scenarios they would experience.


The teens listen intently to the instructor as he describes the program they are going to experience.

The two situations the kids would experience were distracted driving and reacting to a rear-wheel skid.  In the distracted driving course, the kids followed precise directions to navigate around a small course, and then had to repeat that same course while attempting to text a message on their phone.


Nicolas driving a new Focus while texting.

The intent of this exercise was to demonstrate to the teens that there was no way they could be successful at all three objectives – navigating the course without hitting cones, maintaining the required speed, and texting the requested message – they would mess one of them up.  And they all did . . . even Nicolas . . . he was able to maintain the required speed complete the text message, but he flattened a few cones!

The other situation was the rear-wheel skid, in a Mustang that had been set up to skid very easily.


The Mustang was definitely the favorite car of the teens!

The kids drove around an oval course, and when they reached the correct speed, the car would skid in the corners.  The instructor explained to them how to steer out of the skid, and how to keep their eyes on where they wanted to go, NOT where they did not want to go.  Nicolas was anxious to get behind the wheel on this one, and he did really well.  Most of the kids were tentative at first, not going fast enough to get into a skid, but not Nick . . . he was skidding from the very first lap!


Even though it was just a mini-session, Nicolas enjoyed it, and got some good experience.  All the kids seemed to like the session, and one girl even ran up to her dad after getting out of the Mustang, and said “Let’s buy a Mustang!”  That’s another side benefit of this program – exposing these teens to new and exciting Ford cars may turn them into future customers!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Burning leaves and the housing market

We had an eventful week with a 2nd showing on the house on Wednesday.  The visit seemed to go well, but we haven’t yet heard back from them yet.  If nothing happens in the next week, we’ll take the house off the market for the winter, and put it back on in February, probably with a new Realtor.  We’ve given our current Realtor 2 seasons (3 with this Company), and we figure that’s long enough . . . it’s time to move on to somebody else.

We saw an article in the Sunday paper that said that luxury home sales have increased 43% from last year, and the worst is supposed to be over for that market segment.  That’s good news for us, and we’re hoping that starting fresh in the early spring will bring us some luck!

Yesterday we went to my Mom’s house for dinner – she had quite a few leaves down in the backyard, so Tom and the boys were busy raking and burning.




By the time the raking was done, and we were just watching the last of the fire, the “Supervisory Crew” arrived . . .


It was a nice day for working in the yard, and Grandma appreciated all the help!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fall Cleanup


With the fall weather settling in, we’ve been doing quite a bit of cleanup around here . . . trimming bushes, pulling out dead flowers, covering the A/C and getting the furnace ready to turn on.  We’re lucky that we don’t have many leaves (most of them just blow away), but we do have black walnuts.  In fact, we have a line of black walnut trees between the house and the barn, and this year was apparently a good year for black walnuts – we have tons of them!

It took 4 days, but the boys and I finally raked up all the walnuts and deposited in the back corner of our property.


That’s a lot of walnuts – too bad I don’t have something to make with them!

Nicolas’ favorite part is pulling the wagon with his 3-wheeler . . . in fact, it’s not too difficult to get the boys to work in the yard when they get to use the 3-wheeler.


After several hours of back-breaking work, Bryce is ready for a ride in the wagon!


So, we’re pretty much ready for the winter now . . . all cleaned up outside, RV winterized and packed away, furnace and humidifier cleaned up and ready to go . . . now all we need to do is sell this house so we don’t have to do this again!

Meanwhile, we brought Nicolas’ RV carpet and Poang chairs into the house, and Casey sure is happy – she’s been making herself at home in one of the chairs!


We were shocked the first time we found her there – she’s not allowed on any furniture . . . but for some reason she’s decided that this is her chair! 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Another season ends . . .

Here it is, mid-October, and the RV is washed, winterized, and tucked away in the barn until next year . . . how sad!


The winterizing process went fairly smoothly, with just one small incident.  Last year, our one mistake was that we forgot to blow out the water line to the icemaker, and the sprayers at the kitchen sink and the toilet.  We remembered the icemaker line in time to thaw the small bit of ice with a hair dryer, but the sprayer at the kitchen sink cracked and we had to replace it.

So this year, we made sure to drain the icemaker line, and I made a point to remember the sprayers.  We were blowing out the supply lines; first the kitchen, then the vanity & shower, and last was the toilet.  I opened the valve so that Tom could start the compressor, and was removing the sprayer when it flew out of my hand . . . and you guessed it . . . right into the toilet and through the open valve to the black tank!!  Oh great, how do we get it out of there??!!  Of course, I didn’t have to just listen to Tom ask “Why did you do that?!” . . . I had to listen to all three of the “men” in my house . . . as if I did it intentionally!

We started out dumping buckets of water into the toilet to see if that would wash it out, with no luck, and then decided we had to put a hose down the toilet to fill the tank completely.  Filling the tank halfway didn’t do the trick, so we kept going until the black tank was completely full (and re-calibrated our tank level indicator in the process – since it showed only half full when water was backing up into the toilet!).  With the tank full, Tom opened the valve and let the water fly . . . and the sprayer handle flew out with it!  Success!

With that done, we were able to finish up the winterizing process and get the RV parked in the barn . . . it added a couple extra hours to the process, but luckily wasn’t a disaster . . . and I’m pretty sure we won’t repeat it next year!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fall has arrived in Michigan . . . or has it?


The trees say that it’s fall, but the temperatures don’t agree!

Saturday was another beautiful day, so after a lazy morning around the campground, we decided to take a drive up to Pentwater to check out the Octoberfest Car Show.  Pentwater is a cute little harbor town on Lake Michigan, and it was packed on Saturday!  Several blocks from the main street, we found a shady spot to leave the truck, and walked downtown.


There were a lot of really cool cars in town, and everybody found one of their favorites.


Tom really liked this Corvette Stingray


Nicolas’ favorite was this Boss 302 Mustang


I thought this purple Studebaker with it’s teardrop camper was adorable!


Bryce was happy to see so many cars in his favorite color – green, including this old Ford truck!


The owner of this car was nice enough to let the kids get in for a picture!

We walked up and down the streets, admiring all of the old cars and trucks,


and then stopped into the Cosmic Candy Company to pick up some vintage candy.



The bright lights and bold colors are very appealing!


The boys are trying to decide what they should buy . . .

Once we had our fill of cars and candy, we walked down to the beach.


It may have been October, but on this warm & sunny afternoon there were a fair number of people on the beach, including a few brave souls in the water!  Tom & I put our feet in for a minute – and that was long enough for them to go numb!!


BRRRR . . . that water is cold!!!

We wish this beautiful weather could last forever, but we know it won’t . . . and soon the lake will be frozen and the snow will be flying!  for now, though, we’re thoroughly enjoying these last few days of summer-like weather!


Bryce and Brendan are friends, despite their opposing team preferences!


Tom found a new friend!













Back at the campground, I made dinner while the kids played, and later we joined Brendan’s family for a campfire while watching the Tigers game and listening to the U of M game on the radio.  It was another perfect weekend of camping, and we wish it wasn’t our last . . . but it is, for a while anyway.  Back at home on Sunday, the boys got the RV washed and ready for winterizing. 


We’ll get it in the barn this week, and it will stay there until next spring  . . . unless we get lucky and sell the house this winter!!  Let’s keep our fingers crossed!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Indian Summer?

When the weather turned so cold last weekend, we thought we might be winterizing the RV without getting in another trip, but we live in Michigan . . . and you never know what the weather is going to do!  With temperatures in the 80s being predicted for the weekend, we decided to take advantage of it!  Tom & I took a vacation day today, and I gave the kids the day off school, and we were packed up and on the road to Silver Lake by 9:30am.


We quickly set up and had some lunch, and then took a bike ride into town to see what was going on.  It certainly is different than when we were here on Memorial Day weekend!  It was really quiet in town, with most of the shops closed-- even the ATV and Dune Buggy rental shops!  The Jellystone Park was open, and part of the state park, but the other RV parks were all closed for the season already.  With the looks of the RV park we’re in (nearly fully this weekend!), I think the other parks are missing out on some $$!

We rode down to the state park, and enjoyed some of the beautiful fall colors.


Tom and Bryce take a rest on a park bench


Nicolas rides along the lakeshore


From the state park, we went back through town and out towards the ORV area at the sand dunes.  It was definitely quieter out there today, but there were still quite a few folks out there with their ATVs, Dune Buggies and trucks.




We walked around for awhile, and watched several ORVs come off the dunes.


With the cooler temperatures, light traffic, and beautiful fall colors, this had to be a great day to be on the dunes! 

We left the ORV area then, and decided to take a different way back to the RV Park.  We thought it might be shorter, but turned out to be a LOT longer – and we went several miles out of our way!  Oh well, it was a great day for a bike ride . . . and we eventually made it back!  along the way, we passed this cute Body Shop.


Tom decided to stop in and check it out, and we were surprised to find what almost looked like an automotive memorabilia museum – complete with a few local guys hanging out enjoying the afternoon!


They do work on old cars, too!



Out front were a couple of vintage gas pumps, complete with a vintage motorcycle and truck!



Back at the RV Park, Bryce and Tom played cornhole while I got dinner ready.


As it cooled off and the sun began to set, we got a fire going and enjoyed the summer-like evening.  Tomorrow will be another full day, I’m sure!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Birthday Weekend

I now officially have TWO teenage sons!  Bryce celebrated his birthday this weekend – he’s now 13!  I can hardly believe it – it seems like just yesterday he was such a cute little boy!


OK, I guess he’s still cute . . .

Grandma came up to spend the weekend with us, and when the rain finally stopped on Friday we went to the apple orchard to pick some apples and get doughnuts and cider.

Marci and Mom

We had to bundle up pretty good for apple picking – it was COLD!!

Bryce's pumpkin

Bryce checked out the pumpkin patch while we waited for the tractor!

The three cousins all have birthdays this week (Bryce & Kathleen are both 13, and Joe is 9) so we all got together for dinner on Saturday.

Birthday Kids_1

Looks like we’ve got some division in the family (U of M –vs- MI State)!

Dinner was calzones and salad, followed by a yummy DQ cake!

Birthday Kids_2

Bryce’s theme for birthday gifts this year was Michigan State Spartans . . . he got new T-shirts, pajamas, a sweatshirt and hat . . . and even a custom-made cornhole game!


My brother built the boards for my Mom, and I found a lady near my Mom’s house who makes the bags, and picked them up for her.  Bryce couldn’t wait to start playing –this is his #1 present!


With warm & sunny weather on the way this week, we’re going to get plenty of playing time in!  Speaking of nice weather, it looks like we’ll be able to get in one more weekend of camping before we winterize the RV.  This weekend we’re heading back to Silver Lake for another trip to the sand dunes – can’t wait!