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Showing posts from September, 2008

A Quiet Late Summer Week

Saturday, September 27, 2008 -- Beaver Dam, WI

Despite the calendar telling us that autumn has arrived, the past week felt more like summer. The temps were in the upper 70's most days and the electric heater didn't get much of a workout in the mornings. Whatever the weather, fall is my favorite season. The crackling of dried leaves underfoot... shades of green giving way to browns, yellows, oranges, and red... fields full of mature crops that endured and overcame storms, too much rain, too little rain, wind, pests, and disease... and the subtle Midwest autumn odors that I can't describe but are familiar to my nose. It's a great place to be in late September and October.

After all the equinox hoopla on Monday we took a few days off and did very little. "Doing very little" means reading, writing, photography, and perhaps some small chores. We had doctor appointments scheduled for Wednesday, but they had to be rescheduled for this coming week as something came up …

Equinox

Sunday, September 21, 2008 -- Beaver Dam, Wisconsin

Tomorrow, Monday, at about 10:44am CDT, the sun crosses the equator and begins it's 6 month journey around the southern hemisphere. Known as the day of the autumnal equinox, it marks the first day of autumn, which, of course, also marks the first day of the long slide on the ice-covered slippery slushy slope into winter. The day is especially important here in Beaver Dam where the town pretty much comes to a stop so everyone has an opportunity to celebrate (or mourn) in their own unique way.

Down at Chili Johns diner they have an egg-balancing contest. Local lore has it that on the equinox, especially at the exact moment the sun passes directly over the equator, it's possible to balance an egg on it's point. Everyone knows that this is an easier feat to accomplish during the Spring equinox, but that doesn't stop large crowds from trying in the Fall. Besides, it's good for business and Chris, the owner, provides priz…

Slowing Down

Wednesday, September 17, 2008 -- Beaver Dam, Wisconsin

After all the hoopla of the weddings and milestone birthday, things are settling down a bit. We'll be here for a couple more weeks while we take care of a long and growing list of things to do, including doctor appointments for physicals, registering to vote, new tires on the toad, investigate a different health insurance solution, and many more. I also want to take everything out of the basement in order to deep-clean and move the weight around to where we need it for good balance on the chassis. We're relatively light on the front right corner so all the heavy stuff is going into bay 1 on the starboard side. A balanced and even load is important for good handling and safety. Through our education about this lifestyle we've learned that many RV's, probably more than half of them you see going down the road, are overloaded in some way.

Today we're going to Madison and will hit Camping World and Trader Joes, two m…

A Wedding on a Rainy Saturday

Saturday, September 13, 2008 -- Beaver Dam, WI

I've been in a bit of a funk the last couple days but I think I'm working through it. My best explanation is that we've been rushed much of the past week to go here, go there, do this, do that -- and the contrast to the three weeks at the quiet lake in the Upper Peninsula is too much for me to adjust to this quickly. That's the way I used to live, but not anymore. I think there's an element of "hitchitch" to my emotional state too -- the growing need to explore new places. Be patient, Thom, all in due time.

Today we're going to attend the wedding of my niece Erica and her chosen partner-for-life Paul. I'm looking forward to the party and socializing to help turn my thoughts outward, to listen to what others are thinking, to tell stories and laugh. I'm sure it'll be a great time.

My last post was a few days ago, just after I'd finished with the service work on the bus-house at Spartan Motors a…

"Thumbs Up" from Spartan

Wednesday, September 10, 2008 -- Back at Markin Glen in K-Zoo

On Monday afternoon I drove the bus-house over to Charlotte Michigan, about 60 miles east of Kalamazoo, for a service appointment with Spartan Motors -- the guys who built the chassis that sits under our motorhome. Because it's hard to find good service out there and people with intimate knowledge of these things I wanted to get ours in to see the experts... the people who made it.

Dar decided to stay with her sister during this ordeal, so I was on my own for this one. The drive over went good but I'm amazed at how much road construction is going on in Michigan. For a state with big financial problems they have amazingly good roads and, on the basis of all the work we see going on around the state, even better roads in the future.

Spartan has a motorhome parking area, complete with 50 amp electric, for people who stay overnight. As soon as I backed into my space it started to rain. And it rained almost all night. Since…

The Girl in Kalamazoo

Sunday, September 7, 2008 -- Kalamazoo, MI

Glenn Miller wrote a song years ago about his girl in Kalamazoo. Well, our girl in K-zoo is Dar's sister who has graciously opened a corner of her basement and is allowing us to store a considerable pile of memorabilia and other stuff that Dar can't part with. That same K-zoo girl acted as our tour guide through parts of Europe a few years ago, finding little out-of-the-way boutique hotels and hidden sights that only the locals knew about.  She has a nose for finding the unusual, the interesting, and any winery within driving distance. Last year when we visited the area she searched for an RV park for us, drove out to review them, interviewed the owners, and rated them on a 4-star scale. She directed us to a very nice park, the only negative being the 25 mile distance north of Kalamazoo.  But with all that talent, our K-zoo girl was totally blind-sided this year when Dar Google'd up one of the nicest RV parks we've seen -- and …

"Kissing" a Construction Barrier

Friday, September 5, 2008 -- Overnight in Gaylord, MI

Feeling some sadness we left Camp Soldner Thursday morning about 10:30. Our good neighbors Bill and Nan came over to bid us farewell and help get the bus-house out the driveway at the camp. We drive straight in when we arrive in order to have the lake view out the big windshield. But that means when we leave the bus-house must be backed through a driveway bordered by trees onto a single-lane road bordered by trees and big rocks. In order to pull this off, a tight reverse double twist backward somersault must be accomplished to keep from hitting something. With everyone's help we achieved success on the first try and with a double blast on the air-horns, we were off.

While we didn't hit anything leaving Camp Soldner we did hit something as we were going through a construction zone only about 15 miles from camp. This summer the state is upgrading highway M-28/US41 and in the construction zones they've got the lanes pinched …

Dodging Rain on Moving Day

Thursday, September 4, 2008 -- leaving Camp Soldner

I think I've written about this before. But any time we're parked for more than a week or so I have mixed emotions about leaving. On the one hand, traveling around is what this lifestyle is all about. I'm curious about what's over the next hill or around the next curve... new places... new people... the magic of fulltiming is still alive and fresh. Like the old saying -- there's soooo much to see and so little time.

But on the other hand, after a couple weeks I feel roots growing -- not by choice -- and wrapping themselves around any nearby solid object. It's probably the result of becoming comfortable and maybe a little lazy too. Daily life can be so easy when we're parked for extended periods of time. Cutting these tentacles can be tough.

We delayed the decision to "go" until we had a chance to look at this mornings weather forecast. The remains of tropical storm Gustav is complicating things and …

Preparing To Move

Tuesday, September 2, 2008 -- near Three Lakes in Michigan's Upper Peninsula

It's hard for my fingers to punch out 'September' on the keyboard. Summer can't be over already, can it? If I look at the thermometer it says... what?... 81f degrees! That certainly makes it feel summer-like. And there's humidity to spare too. But I've grown up in the Midwest and have had to deal with extremes most of my life. Just watch -- by tomorrow it'll be in the 60's for sure.

We've gone from a crowd of about 10 people here at Camp Soldner on Sunday to just the two of us today. Even our neighbors Bill & Nan are out exploring today. It's a chore day today anyway. Since we're leaving toward the end of the week we're working through the punch list of little chores that have to be done before moving day -- things like defrost the freezer, check tire pressures and mechanical systems, clean windows -- especially the windshield, re-organize the basement sto…