Handle every stressful
situation like a dog.
Everybody wants to go to heaven; but nobody wants to die
Everyone needs to
believe in something. I believe I'll have another drink.
Pat's August 2007 Blog
If this is your first time here, you might want to start from the beginning of our fulltime RV Journey with our Past Blogs
Thursday August 2nd 2007
We're getting ready to head to Pennsylvania this weekend for a Meet & Greet with the Sunline Owners Club. We're all supposed to meet in Mexico Pennsylvania in the Buttonwood Campground. If you've never belonged to a Owners Group, it is one of the best ways to learn the In's and Out's of your specific camper and has been a wealth of knowledge for Cindy and I.
I'm sure almost every specific camper brand has their own Owners Group somewhere, finding it is up to you. Forums are one of the best ways to learn new ideas, lessons and mistakes that others have probably already made before you have to make them yourself.
We were supposed to leave for Pennsylvania on Wednesday, but waited around so we could attend a funeral of a very close friend that had recently passed away.
Sometimes things happen for a reason. Since we had waited around, I was using the extra day to have some work done on our Kayak Rack that I'm having custom built. While at the shop of Jolly Roger Customs, good friends who make some of the sweetest choppers around, I ran into Brett from Dirt Bag Designs. Like I said, some things just happen for a reason.
Cindy and I have been trying to find a bike cover for the back of the Camper to cover our Dual Sport Bike that we carry on our Custom Made Mount. The Bike is getting beat up by road spray and sun damage from being out in the weather non-stop. Everything we've looked at is basically a giant shower cap that fits around the entire bike (Not the best looking or that great of protection). This is also why we haven't bought a cover yet. After talking with Brett, we think one of his Dirt Bag Covers will fit our bike perfectly. We made plans for him to come by, and if it fit, we'd make the deal.
A few hours later Brett stopped by our house; while getting eaten by mosquitoes and sweating in the evening heat, Brett and I spent only a few minutes cinching up the last strap, and I couldn't believe how well it fit. You'd think it was custom made for my bike. The beauty of it is, Dirt Bag Bags are somewhat universal, and can fit a variety of bikes. I'll let you know how the cover works after our trip to Pennsylvania and if it's worth the money. For now, it looks sweet and covers the entire bike allowing the tie-downs to come out from under the cover which was a major factor why we hadn't bought a cover yet.
In ten minutes time, the bike can now be covered with a waterproof cover and kept out of the road debris being kicked up by so many miles traveled.
Friday August 3rd 2007 Leaving for Mexico
Cindy and I left Michigan at 5am this morning, and drove the ten hours to the Buttonwood Campground. Pulling in, we were amazed at the amount of Sunline Campers in one campground. In the past six months that we've been on the road, we've only seen a handful of Sunline Coaches. Now being on the Northern side of the East Coast, Sunline's are everywhere we look.
We pulled in to the Campground and met so many of the faces that we had become so acquainted with on the internet on the Sunline Owners Club Site. It was great to finally put a face to the people who had helped us answer so many of the questions we had right from the start. It was also really cool to hang out with a bunch of people who have the same dreams and ambitions as Cindy and I do. When we usually talk with people, they think we're off our rocker for dropping off the grid and doing what we're doing. It's cool to be around a group of people that understand exactly what we want to do, and we aren't looked at like a couple of weirdo's.
After a round of introductions, we sat around the campfire talking and swapping stories about the differences with our campers and why we all decided to choose a Sunline over all the other possibilities of coaches on the market. With the heat lightening all around us, we sat around till the wee hours of the night laughing and talking.
I'd also like to comment on the Dirt Bag Design, Bike Cover. 10 hours of driving non-stop, the Dirt Bag never once came loose!! I couldn't believe it, and Brett had even called to check up on us. He said he likes to see how people are thinking it's working on the first few trips. He also mentioned to check the straps with each stop, although not one was even remotely loose. If you own a Bike, and haul it anywhere on any type of trailer, pick-up bed or custom made rack, this is a mandatory piece of equipment.
Saturday August 4th 2007 Enjoying Time with New Friends
Since this was our first Sunline Owners Club Meet & Greet, we hadn't really planned too many activities for the weekend. We really had just made arrangements for a Saturday night Potlatch Dinner. So a few of the Owners Club members had left early to attend one of the local Amish Farmers Market and others were mingling around enjoying some of the campgrounds features. Buttonwood Campground has a host of things to keep you busy, from Horse Shoe Pits, to a beautiful in-ground pool, a playground if you wanted to play like a kid, Shuffle Puck Courts and even an Art Gallery!!
I'm not sure if I mentioned the fact that the temperature on our digital thermometer was 103 degrees in the shade, so doing anything outside other then something in or around the water was the only thing that sounded good to Cindy and I. Luckily for us, a group of the other members had the same idea, and Buttonwood Campground also has a Canoe Livery on site. With the campground being located right across the street from the Juniata River, spending the day floating on the water sounded like the best way to keep cool.
We waited for the noon time Free Ice Cream gathering the campground puts together before we headed down to the river. The Juniata flows at a lazy pace and is bordered by State Park land. Except for an occasional train on the tracks that followed the river, the only sounds that interrupted our conversation was one of the local fish jumping for a bug skimming the calm surface.
Except for a few of us in the group, many were kayaking for the first time, so our days float was only a few hours long. Just enough time to give them a little taste of this sport and let them decide if them liked it. We paddled past a few Amish Farms and some empty cottages while sharing some stories and getting to know each other a little better. That and jumping in the water from time to time to cool off and rinse off the mid-day heat.
After our float, we headed back to the Buttonwood so we could get ready for the evenings Potlatch Dinner. Who says you cant eat like a king while living out of a Camper? The spread of food laid out in the provided tent was something you'd expect to see at a top notch restaurant. Fresh Corn on the Cob that had just been picked that morning, Venison Sausage, big juicy steaks and everything else you'd expect at a summer picnic was yours for the taking.
We ate, mingled, got to know each other a little better, and ate some more. After dinner, one of the Owners Club Members who has the collecting bug pretty bad and was nice enough to share his collection of Sunline memorabilia with all of us. This member has an array of stickers, brochures and pictures of Sunlines from around the United States that would make the recently closed factory jealous. It was really cool to see so many immaculate items kept by someone who really has a passion for our campers designer. He has restored many Sunlines in the past and truly enjoys bringing these great coaches back to life for others to enjoy.
With full bellies, and the evening sun long gone, we all said our "Good Nights" and headed back to our collection of Sunlines for some shut eye. Everyone had made plans for a morning breakfast in the Circle of Sunlines, and I suddenly realized what our ancestors must have experienced while traveling around the country in their covered wagons. The only difference is we have A/C to battle the heat, WI-FI to keep in touch with loved ones at home, and freezers to keep plenty of ice for the Makers Mark!!
After spending the past few days with a group of people we had never met, I'd like to say that if you've ever considered going to a Meet & Greet, "Don't Miss It." The simple fact that we all own similar campers was enough to break the ice. Conversation flowed like we were long lost friends and in no time was everyone touring each others campers to see what modifications had been made to make them unique. We felt like we had a dozen new good friends and were already making plans for another Meet & Greet next year.
Sunday August 5th 2007
One of the couples had talked about a cool new way to cook Omelets at the Potlatch last night. So this morning before breakfast, Dave and Jill dragged out a large pot of water and brought it to a boil. With a table full of items to add to your eggs that we all had contributed to, you wrote your name on a Zip Lock bag and started adding various foods to the omelet.
You then sprayed a small amount of PAM in the bag so the items wouldn't stick, cracked and dropped in 2 to 3 eggs, and handed your bag of mixed up items to Dave, the new designated Chef.
Chef Dave dropped the bag into the pot of boiling water and within a few minutes, he opened the bag and out dropped a perfectly rolled up Omelet. If you have young kids, a scout group or just want to impress some friends the next time you're camping, this is a great way to do it. Thanks Dave, Jill and Jon for teaching us such a cool trick.
After breakfast, many of the group had to pack up and head home so they could be back to work on Monday morning. A few of us lucky ones who either work from home, or like Cindy and I, don't work at all...HA! HA! decided to stay another day.
In a few hours, some clouds blew in and the temperatures dropped to very tolerable conditions. Now we could sit comfortably outside and enjoy our new company. We all joked with each other, that if we showed anyone the pictures from this weekend, it would look like all we did was EAT! Well except for the a few side trips here and there, that was really all we did.
All day Sunday, we sat around talking, munching on some of Mary's fresh baked cookies, or swapping recipes for various dishes we talked about. Next thing you know, the showers moved in and we were huddling under Tom and Mary's canopy doing what we do best, eating dinner in the rain. Another night of sitting around talking till the wee hours of the night, and it was time for bed.
Monday August 6th 2007 Heading Home from Mexico
We were up early and packing up for the long ride home. The owner of the Buttonwood had told us there was a Covered Bridge just a few miles down the road. After getting the camper ready for our departure, we said our "Goodbyes" and were on our way.
Cindy and I drove one town over and pulled over to snap a few pictures of this antique covered bridge. The funniest thing was it was on Milford Road!! That's our home town name!!
Back on the road and rolling down the country side, we couldn't decide which way to look. Pennsylvania back roads are beautiful to travel down with rolling hills, Amish farms and little towns tucked along the Appalachian Mountains. Next thing you know, I asked Cindy if she knew where we were? We were supposed to find a road only a few miles down from the covered bridge, but now we had been driving for an hour and hadn't seen the road. We pulled over and had some trouble finding our location on the map, if only we had the GPS unit we had just ordered after being shown one over the weekend.
Problem is, after Mary showed us all the features her GPS had, we ordered it online so it would be waiting for us when we got back to Michigan. Not doing us any good right now though. We finally found our location, and spent an hour driving around in a big circle. No worries, the scenery was beautiful and we had fun talking about the weekends new friends we had met. We joked that just a short trip to meet some new friends had cost a few a pretty penny. After the kayaking trip, one couple said they would be buying kayaks on the trip home, and more than one of the couples had talked of upgrading to a larger model Sunline after walking through each others campers.
Cindy's Slide Envy was only driven home after touring through a few of the larger models with the slides that double the living space. I'll admit that seeing a few of the models with those big slides had me longing for that extra space. There was even a person that had a fully loaded Sunline with a humongous slide for sale, and if Cindy had a way we could have swapped out the Solar Panels and the few custom features we had on our model, we would have pulled out towing a larger Sunline then we would have pulled in with.
Wednesday August 8th
We basically pulled in, dropped off the camper, repacked our clothes and got ready to leave for Northern Michigan. We have had plans for a boat trip with some good friends on a chain of lakes in Cheboygan and couldn't wait to be around some great company for a long relaxing weekend.
The difference with these friends is, there are no questions about "what" or "why" Cindy and I are doing what we're doing. It's just good company and general conversation, and the daily stresses and worries are left behind. We leave tomorrow morning, and I'm pretty excited.
We spent the day finishing up the roof rack and putting it back on the truck. I'm really happy with the way it turned out, and think this will make the cap on the truck last longer. We've also decided to get rid of our Saddles we had used which kept the kayaks on their sides. We swapped them out for another pair of saddles that hold them closer to the roof line. We're hoping this will aid in our fuel mileage and make us more arrow dynamic, if that's possible while hauling a 25' Box behind you....LOL
Thursday August 9th
We worked on the rack last night till it got too dark to see, so I woke up first thing this morning and finished the last few bolts. The A.R.E. cap had come from the factory with only long sheet metal screws holding it to the supports. While I was unscrewing these wimpy screws, four of the 10 were snapped off?!? So we decided to drill new holes and put in some long stainless bolts with Nylock nuts on the other end for the added security of knowing their bolted on tight.
With the kayaks on the top of the truck, I was ruining the cap with walking around up there every time we loaded them. Now I've added more supports, and screwed some aluminum expanded metal so there is a decking to stand on without touching the actual cap.
We were getting ready to leave when the delivery showed up with our new GPS unit. We unpacked it, and plugged it in with the address we were headed to. Hopefully this will end some arguments and stop the turning around multiple times to ask for directions. I'm not your typical man when it comes to asking for directions. Being as I'm the one driving, the last thing I want to do is get lost with a camper behind me. So if at any time I think were lost, I pull over immediately to ask if were headed in the right direction. This gets Cindy mad, because she's in charge of the map reading and direction giving. She thinks I'm always second guessing her directions, but she's not the one who has to drive and turn around.
So we leave and are headed for Northern Michigan. Since we weren't bringing the camper on this short weekend getaway, I had asked Cindy to drive so I could work on some pictures I had just shot for a photo shoot. We're driving a route that we've driven a million times, and the GPS says "Turn right now" Cindy turns as soon as the GPS lady told her to, and turns into a parking lot before the entrance to the on ramp of the expressway. I looked at her and said "Your joking right?!" She just smiles and says "Shut Up! I turned when she told me to."
Sometimes I wonder how she's made it this far? This is also why she hasn't driven in the past six months of this adventure. So were driving along and I see her smack herself in the face? I ask what the hell she's doing, and she says "I keep falling asleep!" Now we haven't been on the road for even an hour, and she has this giant cup of coffee that she already pulled over for, and I'm really confused. I say "Are you kidding me, or is this some kind of a joke?" She pulls over again, and gets out of the vehicle and says "I'm not driving anymore!"
I locked the door on the passenger side, and she's sitting there pounding on the window telling me to let her in. I'm sure for the people in the gas station this had to be quite a sight. So what does she do? She jumps in the back seat and says "I refuse to drive, we'll just sit here till you get behind the wheel."
With her little tantrum behind us, I finally get into the drivers seat after putting all my computer stuff away. We're now way behind because of her multiple stops and 20 minute long tift in the parking lot. The GPS walked us right to the door, without ever missing a beat and I'm guessing this was something we should have bought a long time ago. Now if only they could make some sort of shock treatment that could go under Cindy's seat when she dozes off, I might be able to sit in the passenger seat once in awhile.
Friday August 10th
We woke early and filled our stomachs with some fantastic food. When spending the day on a boat with good friends, you know many cold Coors Lights are going to be consumed, so you want plenty of food to absorb some of that rocky mountain refreshment.
The day looked beautiful, and traveling only 3 hours North was enough to lose some of that obnoxious humidity that had been following us back home in Milford. It was still very warm, but with a cool breeze and the crystal clear water to jump in at any time, none of us were complaining about the warm temps.
The rest of the day was spent cruising across Mullet Lake, up the Cheboygan River, then to the Black River and finishing in Lake Huron. We had to float through a lock which lowered us 19 feet. It's pretty cool to float in at one level, and within a few minutes drop that far down before floating on our way towards the big Huron.
With the water temperature of Mullet Lake being nice and warm, when we jumped in Lake Huron to cool off, the temperature difference was shocking!! No wonder no one was swimming anywhere near the mouth of the river. We jumped back on the boat, and as the sun sat lower in the horizon, we headed home towards the cottage.
Saturday August 11th
Today we would cross Mullet Lake in a different direction heading towards the Indian River. We first stopped at a little set of docks where we tied up the boat, and walked across the street to Cafe Noka. This little eatery, and I mean little, is home to some of the best food in Topinabee, Michigan. With Grandma Noka cooking and her two young grand daughters serving up the tasty dishes, we filled our bellies before heading down the river.
With today being Saturday and perfect weather upon us, the water was packed with boats of various sizes. The shores of the Indian River was lined with boats like the expressway at rush hour. No one minded though, once on the water, what are you in a hurry for? Just float by, throw a friendly wave or maybe shoot off your water cannon trying to soak the passing group of boaters who don't mind in the least. Just make sure you're not kicking up a wake, or Mr. Police man might write you a ticket, as our friends on the jet ski's who were tagging along found out.
Another day of floating on the crystal clear waters and enjoying great company, really made me realize how much I love Northern Michigan. When we lived here, Cindy and I used the short 3 hour drive as a way to shed off our daily life, and by the time we would be in the rolling hills of upper Michigan, we would be in a different mindset. If you've never been, you should make it a destination. During the late summer, once the black flies have died off, the many rivers and lakes are home to many secluded campgrounds where you can forget everything about work, stress and life.
It was good to be back and enjoying the best of Michigan with great friends. We didn't pull back into the dock at the cabin until 11pm. There was a storm approaching by the lightening in the distance, and the ride back in the dark was very interesting to put it mildly. We were beat and ready for bed.
Sunday August 12th
Packing up, I downloaded the pictures and burned copies for the other two couples. One of the couples had to make the long drive back to Minnesota, so they were off early. We slowly packed up our things and said our goodbyes, but the day was just too beautiful to sit in the truck for the next few hours.
One of our favorite rivers in Michigan was only one town away, so Cindy and I drove over to see if we could sneak in a few hours of paddling on the Sturgeon River. We talked with the woman at Big Bear Adventures about taking a 3 hour paddle down the fastest flowing river in Michigan's Lower Peninsula. She got us really excited when she said that after last nights downpour a few towns over, the river had risen 5" since morning.
I unloaded the kayaks while Cindy unpacked the life vests and packed us a lunch. Within a few minutes, we were being shuttled up the river to our put-in spot. The river is normally fast flowing and clear to the rocky bottom, but not today. With the run-off bringing it to a nice boil and near flood stage, the Sturgeon was running a chocolaty brown.
The last time we had run this river was a few years back when for Cindy's birthday, we took the day off and drove North for a few days of adventure. There was still snow on the ground, but it was one of those spring time days where the temps were climbing into the 50's. The guide from Big Bear, who we had made arrangements with to spot our vehicle kept asking if we were sure we wanted to run it this early in the year? He explained that no one had been down it yet to clear any of the fallen debris, and we would be in for a wild ride on a 5 hour trip of constant Class III rapids. We knew what we were in for, and shoved off from the put-in in water that was a few feet over flood stage.
A half hour into the paddle, Cindy got caught up in a tree that was slung low to the water, and went for a wild ride in the icy water. Today wasn't anything like that, but it was flowing nicely and the cold temperatures of the water was a welcome to the warm hot air baking us on the surface. All you needed to do was dip your hat in the water a plop it back on your head to instantly cool down.
Maybe because the water was flowing so fast, that 3 hour paddle really only took us 2 hours. But it was still a lot better then sitting in traffic with everyone else trying to head back down state. With the sun setting, we loaded the kayaks back on the truck, and headed home.
As we were driving and commenting on the days paddle, we noticed a cloud of dust in front of us followed by a line of tail lights on both sides of I-75. Traffic came to a screeching halt and people were running from the opposite side of the Interstate. By the time we got closer to the wreckage, we could see that a car had flipped over and was laying upside down in the roadway. Amazingly the driver was standing beside the car with multiple people helping her. We both said a few prayers for everyone involved and slowly headed on our way. In a time when everyone is in such a hurry to get where they're going, slowing down will help everyone out.
Saturday August 18th
Another week of sitting around not camping!?! I'm really starting to think that this normal routine life is for the birds. The worst part is, we both feel like we're working full time jobs and not getting paid for them at all.
Trying to get the house ready to sell is hard work. We have a 30x40 pole barn that was loaded with STUFF after we sold our rental house and left for the past 7 months. Now we again have to go through everything and see what we think we need and what is just STUFF. I know I've said it before, but if you are a collector, take a look around and think "When was the last time you used half the stuff that takes up space in your house?"
I know if we ever settle down and find a house again, clutter wont be a part of it!
We had taken the Sunline to General RV this week to have the wheel bearings checked out and a few other items looked at, and walked away with a pleasant surprise. We had asked them to replace our standard water pump, one that sounded like a monkey on a bass drum, with a quieter model. They informed us they were able to quiet it down by insulating the lines and building a box around the pump itself with some insulation to make it almost whisper quiet. That saved us a few hundred dollars!
Then we had also asked them to install a Grey Tank Flush because our Grey Tank Gauges always read 2/3 full? They told us they were able to fix the problem by installing new gauges, because one was broken. That too saved us a few hundred dollars. Yeah, saving money is good when we normally only have it going out with none coming in, But most of the week was spent working at the house, or mountain biking on one of the local trails.
Then today I was supposed to go mountain biking with my nephew when we decide to stay home and build a set of Dirt Jumps in the back yard. Hours later the set of jumps was erected and we probably rode/jumped the equivalent if we would have went on the trails. I hadn't spent a day in my parents back yard jumping since I was a teen, when this was a daily ritual for my brothers and our friends. It was cool to share it with Austin and see how fun it was for the next generation that gets to enjoy this yard.
The only difference is when I was his age, I would wake up and do it again, as he plans on tomorrow. Now my legs, back and neck feel like I've been dragged over these jumps all day, and I cant let this young whipper snapper show me up. It was all I could do to out jump him all day today. I'm worried now that I've showed him some of my tricks, he's going to school me tomorrow. Getting old sucks doesn't it?!
Sunday August 26th
Is the World coming to an end or what?!? This summer we've seen some really weird weather conditions and then these past few days have just been wild. If you haven't watched the weather channel, our area we're in right now was hit hard by some tornados a few days back and looks like a war zone.
With one storm that blew through a few nights back, the lightening was like something I've never seen before. In one hour, 48,000 bolts of lightening touched the ground in Oakland County. That's 12 a second and to sit out and watch it, was one of the wildest shows I've ever seen.
Then I was working out in the garage a few nights ago, when you could hear the thunder rumbling in the distance. I started packing everything up just as the first few drops started falling. I decided to sit outside under the overhang of the garage, and watch the storm pass through. Really it was raining so hard, that I didn't want to run into the house and thought I'd wait for a break in the downpour.
I'm pretty stupid for doing this, considering this was the night that the 3 tornados touched down in our area, but watching the trees almost blow over, and feel Mother Nature's fury was pretty wild. In a half hour, 3 inches of rain fell and even though I was under a overhang, I might have well been under water for how wet I was. At some times I couldn't even see 20 feet in front of me because of the heavy rain. Lucky for us, no damage to our camper or immediate property, but thousands of people in our area are without power.
Realizing How Stupid We Are Sometimes
Last night Cindy and I were flipping through the channels and a documentary on Fort Knox came on. We started watching it to see what we missed when we pulled up to the gate and we told very sternly to leave.
We both kept laughing out loud every time they would say that "No one has ever been inside the fortress." One time in the early 70's they allowed some select press people and a few congressmen inside to view the gold bullion just so people would know that there really was gold in there.
We now knew how stupid we were when two naive travelers pulled into the front gate with our camper in tow asking how we got a tour of the facility. I also now know why the guard walked out with his hand on his weapon telling me in a very strict tone that "We must leave and no pictures were allowed to be taken!"
Boy are we stupid sometimes!! But it's funny now that we know how guarded the facility is, and we were just that clueless.