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Sunday, July 29, 2018

Michigan Driveway Camping

Beth grew up in the Detroit Suburbs, so we are visiting relatives and old friends who are gracious enough to let us camp in their driveways for a few days before we head further north. Here are a few random photos and experiences from the area.

Walking around near niece Danielle's neighborhood we found the rules for boating on the local lake. It may have explained why we didn't see any sailboats on the lake. The sailors were probably waiting for the appropriate counter-clockwise winds before venturing out on the water.
Friday night visits with nieces and nephews at Jen and Jim's new house in Southfield kept us up past midnight and it didn't even seem late at the time. We don't get enough chances to spend time with these folks.

Sunday we met cousins Mike and Kenny, plus Martha and Aunt Joan at a deli with plenty of parking spots where everyone could check out the van. Kenny looked right at home.
Needing a dessert to share at our next gathering, Martha recommended Nino Salvaggio's for a shopping trip. Vegetables, old cars, and a huge assortment of local baked goods kept us entertained for an hour.
Salvaggio's even introduced us to new vegetables.
Another shopping expedition lead to a vintage JC Penny sewing machine that Beth will use for a van project here in Michigan. If it works well, we'll leave it with her niece who has been wanting a machine.
Southern Michigan may be the only place where there is a whole section for "Bar Cheese," a concoction of soft cheese and horseradish. Beth has always been a fan of Win Shuller's cheese, something we can't find in North Carolina. She has a "secret recipe" if anyone wants to try.
Sunday night we enjoyed dinner and drinks with old classmates in Beth's home town. Mature trees and green lawns out our window show how pretty suburban Detroit can be in the summer time.
Many thanks to Jeff Egner and the Knippers for hosting. In an area still dominated by the US auto industry, early morning walkers were very interested in the Dodge van conversion.
Traffic was interrupted twice during our visit by snowbirds. We don't remember seeing them in SE Michigan before, but Sandhill Cranes now summer in the area. The second time we were near a parking lot where we pulled in and found a camera. I wonder if these were the same birds that visited our campsite in Florida last November.

Thanks to everyone for taking time to visit!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Pulling a Train to Michigan

A long, long, time ago when our son was a toddler, he loved sleeping and playing in his train bed. With plans to visit a two year old nephew in Michigan, we pulled the train bed out of the attic and cleaned it up.

Since we were pulling the sailboat, Beth figured we could strap all the train bed pieces on top. The conglomeration was starting to look like a scene from the Beverly Hillbillies, so we decided to complete the picture by adding a rocking chair on top. 

Leaving Sunday afternoon, we drove 2.5 hours to Claremont, NC where we camped out at our Pleasure-Way dealer. They had us scheduled for a quick service appointment on Monday morning to look at our microwave oven. It works, but the door has rattled from day one. They verified the rattle, called Pleasure-Way, and had authorization to replace it before noon. A new one has been ordered so we can stop on our way home to have it replaced.

Later in the day we drove north through the mountains of both Virginias heading for a favorite stop at the Rocky Gap Safety Rest Area on I-77 in WV. A major stop for trucks, the service area is always busy.

If you take a right turn, just before the service area, you can find a special area just for RV & Bus parking where self-contained campers can spend the night at no charge.

Only four other RV's were parked in the lot!

The view out our window is the Tamarack Craft Center. Open from 7 am until 8 pm, it is worth a stop even if you don't plan to spend the night.

Working craftspeople, galleries, books, food, and clean restrooms await visitors to Tamarack. It is hard to leave here without at least one example of West Virginia crafts.

My favorite exhibit this time was of tools recreated in exacting full scale using a variety of woods. Each tool looked like it was ready to go to work.

An outdoor sculpture garden featured this nine foot high weathervane. by Mark Blumenstein. You can take it home for a mere $4,865.

Tuesday we headed north into Ohio with a goal of finding Apple Hill Orchards near Mansfield, Ohio.

Beth's navigation had us there at 3:30 pm, with plenty of time to shop at the farm store before closing time.
We found apple donuts, walnut apple bread, apple salsa, and some wonderful fresh tiny plums. This would be an even better stop in the fall when they press fresh cider.

Apple Hill Orchard participates in the Harvest Hosts program, so we were able to spend the night in the field next to the resident goat and sheep. The owner was very welcoming and made sure we were settled in and comfortable.

A little west of Celleryville, Ohio we were in a line of traffic behind a large farm combine. Beth found an alternate route that we can't recommend.  It became a single lane road that would have been difficult to turn-around on if we met an oncoming vehicle. An unmarked railroad bridge gave us a little concern, but Beth volunteered to be a height gauge and we passed underneath unscathed.

By 2 pm we were parked behind the grapevines at Beth's niece Danielle's home in Wixom, Michigan. 

Not much time elapsed before the bed was assembled and passed on to grand-nephew David. The trip was a success! How many other people can say they have pulled a boat and a train with their camper van?

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