Friday, August 31, 2012

Impromptu stops....

...are the very best! When we started full-timing I sent an email out to my entire contact list informing everyone of our plans.We had many generous offers of driveways to park in and visit requests. One of those was from hasher, Denied Entry, aka Bill, who we had met several times when we lived in Tahoe. His daughter lived near by and he owned a home there but his residence was in Montana. We had hoped to get up to Idaho and Montana the following summer but it never happened, but I had saved that email from 2 years ago. And now here we were passing through Missoula when I remembered he lived here. I shot him an email and he replied that we must come join them on their sailboat on Flathead Lake.

There is a bar called the Idle Spur Saloon that is right there in the town of Dayton that has a huge grass lawn where we could park overnight and they just happen to have a band playing on the outside stage as we drove up. We parked Bebe in a choice little spot with a beautiful backdrop and sauntered on over to check things out at the bar.

Bill and Kristin arrived about an hour later and we headed out for a moonlight sail. I had only sailed in the San Francisco bay area and let me tell you, we were dressed in ski clothes and it was ANYTHING, but fun - this, on the other hand, was sublime. Without a moon the sky was dressed to the hilt and Bill regaled us with his star wizardry....the other Bill and Kristen knew their stuff was magical!

Can't wait to come back to Montana to have them show us their town of Missoula!

Harriette Kristin aka Hindlick Maneuver

Hasher Bill aka Denied Entry

What fun we had!

Visits to friends and family...

We could have easily stayed in the UP for another week, so much still we didn't get to see, but we did meet some really nice people! Speaking of people - it seems as if most of our travels to date have all been about visiting. Does this ever stop? I am really not so sure it will because every time we leave someone we all say, "can't wait until we see you again." And most of the time we spend so much time visiting we don't see anything of the area we are in...

We had a 12 hour drive to our next stop and instead of our usual Walmart or Cracker Barrel overnight we opted for Two Lakes Campground at the Chequamegon National Forest. With Bill's National Parks Senior card it was $9/night. It is so nice that the National Parks keep quite a few campsites for those without reservations. I have been pleasantly surprised that we have had no problem, all summer long, finding really nice campsites. We parked, got settled, and headed immediately out to the lake which was about 200 ft from our site. It was a relaxing place to stay and we had a pleasant night.

As we were leaving the campground Bill spotted this little convertible driving toward us & as they turned to go to the boat ramp Bill said that it was a boat too & you could see the propellers on the back of it. He stopped and I jumped out to get a shot of it!
the vanity license plate read "Guppy"!
So next on our list was Hudson, Wisconsin, where Bill's step-cousin, Matt, lives who he hasn't seen in 40 years (when Matt was a baby!). We ended up there because when we visited his mom in Virginia, this June, she called him up and told him all about us. He then gave us a call and said we must stop by, so, of course we did! We found a great little rv park close by, St. Paul East, and headed over to his home for dinner with his family.

Matt left a job he loved last October to become a stay-at-home dad and is loving every minute of it. If you're interested you can read his blog here.

I finally had a good internet connection and some a/c to deal with the heat,got online and spent the day working. It felt good to get another tax return done, especially well before the extended deadline.

Then it was time to go see my dear friend Margie. I had met Margie when I was first married and living in Sacramento. She and her husband owned the Haggin Daz ice cream store there and we were both pregnant with our first children. There was a group of us that were all about the same age, married and having babies. We spent a lot of time together and became really good friends. After our second kids were born they were having problems with their franchise and closed up shop to move back to Minneapolis where their families were. Needless to say, we were incredibly sad to see them go and the following year we flew out to visit. They had just had a third child and it was fabulous to see them again. They made a trip out to California in 1995 and in 1999 we took a cross-country road trip and saw them again Since then our children have grown, we both got divorced and we've kept in touch very sporadically but we were the kind of friends that no matter how long it had been since we last spoke, it was just like it was yesterday! I was pretty excited to see her and the kids and when she said that her house was a mess, but the food would be good, I knew she was the same Margie I loved 28 years ago! Her house was always crazy with the kids and good cooking and when we walked in last night it was as if time had stood still. We had a great visit - all the kids were there and she got to meet Bill.

It was a short and sweet visit to the area but we were on a mission, at this point, to get to Montana and Idaho. I was only sad that I was having so much fun I forgot to snap a pic of us, but I did find one from 1995!

San Francisco 1995 (in the middle) with Sindy Kirsch & Margie Goldfine

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The UP - Upper Peninsula of Michigan

It's amazing that it's only been three weeks since we left the UP yet it feels like we were there months ago! We've sure covered a lot of territory since then but I will try to recapture our time there. I had never even heard of the UP before we visited Michigan, but everyone we spoke to mentioned that we should be sure to get up there. At this point we were getting a bit weary of the lightening speed at which we were moving and decided that we should just slow down and let our friend Raz know that we may not make his party in Idaho on the 18th of August. We found a little campground in the town of Germfask which is pretty much right in the middle of the UP.

(A) Germfask (B) Grand Marais (C) Pictured Rocks - Munising (D) Ishpeming
(E) Houghton & Hancock (F) Eagle Harbor (G) Copper Harbor
The campground was pretty empty and we had a beautiful grassy spot to call home for a few days. Our first stop was to check out Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and the campgrounds that were there. Online it sounded as if we might fit in a few spots but we wanted to check it out in person and so glad we did because it definitely wouldn't have worked. The drive through the park was very long and beautiful and then we took the interpretive trails to the Rocks and the Falls having absolutely no idea that we were really missing the beauty of the rocks. Bill had read that the best views were from the water so we planned a boat tour for the next day. WOW is all I have to say, soooo glad we took this tour because it was breathtaking.

Before getting on the boat tour we noticed a little farmer's market on the pier and stopped to buy the most amazing red pepper baguette. After I took a little bite I sent Bill back to buy two more! That coupled with the soft cheese and salami I had brought for a nosh on the boat was divine!! The water was very rough and our boat tour was cut short but to our delight as we deboarded there was a free concert happening in the adjacent park.

The worst thing about the Munising area, though, was all of the "stable flies" - you couldn't even walk on the beach without being attacked! We did find solace, though, at the Superior Lake Brewery :)

Our first Pastie (pronounced past ee!)

While on the boat tour a group of women who have relatives in Copper Harbor told us we MUST go there. This is the northernmost peninsula in the UP and since we had no idea when we would get back up to the area we  decided that, yes indeed, we absolutely MUST go!

Funniest comment heard from Bill - when I saw a cute little lady bug yard art here - "I think 5 plants, a metal flower and a flamingo is enough yard decor for us!!"

We left the Munising area and headed a bit southwest to another brewery on the way to Houghton and Hancock which are cute little college towns sporting two more breweries. I have never seen so many breweries in such a small area, we didn't get to all of them but those we did we really liked.

Jasper Ridge brewery was on the way and sported a HUGE parking lot...I think we could have stayed here overnight if we had wanted to. We were most anxious to go to the Keweenaw brewery as Bill had picked up a few of their 6 packs at the market and we loved their beer. Unusually enough I didn't like the beer (or the staff) at the brewery. All of the beer there tasted super sweet and as hard as Bill tried, we couldn't strike up a conversation with anyone... So back to the market we went to stock up on their Amber, Scotch Ale and Black, all in cans, which we LOVE!

We also loved the architecture in Hancock

Before we left the Hancock area we took a tour of the Quincy Mine - a lot of this area was developed to support the extensive copper mining. We donned heavy miners jackets and hard hats and had a chance to get out and walk around inside the mine.

Afterwards we went across the street to Robinson's Fish Market for lunch and some beautiful white fish for the freezer. This fish market supplies all of the fish to the UP restaurants. Only the Indians are allowed to sell their fish in the area.

We took a day trip to Eagle Harbor and Calumet where we toured an old lightstation, hit up another brewpub and the Gay Bar where Bill taught the young bartender how to make a martini - in a margarita glass!

And last but not least we made it to Copper Harbor - a tiny little town with a great rv park on Lake Fanny Hooe, stumbling distance from, yes, another brewery that had just opened up. Our neighbors were a family from Atlanta that we really hit it off with and after they put their teens to bed they popped on over to our rig for a fun evening.

On our way to discover the tip of the peninsula we found ourselves a little trail to take the Subie off-roading - what fun!!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Visiting Will the Turd...uh, the Third, I mean!

We don't get to see much of our children but every now and then the opportunity presents itself and we have a blast. Bill's son, Will, was just returning from a month in New York when we were heading towards his mom's house in Rosscommon, Michigan, where he'd been living for the last year or so. He moved in with his mom after college in Orange County, California and he's been working a couple of jobs to save up money to move somewhere where he could pursue a career in film acting or directing. We found a campground on North Higgins Lake for the weekend and hung out with Will in between his work commitments. We always have a lot of fun with Will, he is a great kid with a huge personality, reminds me a lot of his old man!

It was great having an address to order some things and have our mail forwarded and also got a recommendation from Will's mom for a hair stylist. It had been since Savannah, when I got the pink dye job, and it definitely needed some attention! Afterwards we all went to the beach and people watched....

The last night we were in town was the annual AuSable River Canoe Marathon. We had just finished dinner and Will took us on a crazy drive through the area to find it and luckily for us we got there just at the start!

Indiana to Michigan

It was finally time to leave our fairy tale land and venture back to the real world, the world of auto/rv repairs,insurance companies and $$. Luckily the Fleetwood factory had a lot with a 50 amp hook-up for us to stay in so we headed to Decatur, Indiana the weekend before our repair appointment. We were happy this detour made it possible to see our hash friend from Phoenix who is living temporarily in Dayton, OH - just a hop, skip and a jump away. We drove into Ohio on Sunday to do laundry and meet Steve for beers and pizza. We have stayed numerous times in Steve (and Jackie's) driveway in Phoenix. It's super long, super level and close to some good hiking and restaurants.

The service and repairs went without a hitch and the warranty company came through and picked up a big piece of the bill. So off we drove to Michigan to see Lonna! We found an excellent RV park very close to Lonna's home - Gammy Woods Campground and spent the next day with Lonna and her friend Neil, whom we met in Cedar Key. She has a wonderful home on a huge piece of land with a forest both in front and in back of it. We thought we might spend another day but we were lucky and scored a great campground close to Bill's son in Roscommon for the weekend, so off we went!

Lonna's fabulous backyard backing up to Lake Isabella.

Campground Pool Table

Lonna in front of her beautiful home

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Brushwood Folklore Center - Sirius Rising Festival

The warrior combating flies & mosquitoes!
The Sirius Rising Festival was almost serious. There’s a strange conglomeration of folks that attend this festival. It’s not like anything I’ve ever seen. People dress up some, but there’s no real “period” for the costumes like at Ren Faire. There are pagans, druids, shamans, healers of all ages, and just some good ol’ hippies running around naked. There are also lots of very, very fat people…who are also running around naked. The entire grounds inside the entry gate are clothing optional, but most people choose to wear something, if nothing more than a sarong. 

Fire Night
Every evening there is a ceremony at one of the altars. There are five alters spread around the campground, representing the elements of air, water, fire, earth, and spirit. Each ceremony has an appropriate color for costumes for the night: yellow for air, blue for water, red for fire, green for earth, and white and/or purple for spirit. We were glad to have the costume bin handy so we could dress appropriately for ceremonies. The regulars here perform a skit of sorts that tells the story of a wayward healer finding her way back to her community and again becoming a healer. Following the skit, there’s a procession to the main alter where there is a continuation of the skit that leads to the lighting of a large bonfire, a drum circle, and lots of dancing around the fire. After about half an hour, as the fire gets hotter, people start to strip down and the party gets started—then we old folks go to bed and let the kids play.
Spirit Night

During the day there are a lot of workshops on everything from Tai Chi to an update on the latest research papers on witchcraft. In spite of our best intentions, we didn’t make it to very many of the workshops. We did go to a kundalini yoga class, which was fun, and in spite of the simplicity of the exercises, was quite challenging. Debby also went to a workshop on herbs for women’s health, which she loved. Unfortunately, we missed both Tai Chi classes—one because of the heat and one because of rain. We really want to try Tai Chi. 

There are lots of vendors at the festival, but you can see pretty much all they have in a day. There’s a pool house with a hot tub, group showers, and a pool with very cool water. The pool feels pretty good on hot days. Otherwise it’s time for shade seeking and recovery from the previous night. We dropped in often to visit the hashers that stayed on for the festival, about five in all, and they were camped in the Fairy Woods, where it was much cooler than in the RV parking area. We really enjoyed hanging out with them and getting to know them better and they were awesome hosts…thanks to Glass, Doodle, Prick-her, and Duke for their hospitality.
Here are a few pictures of the last night before the burn - Spirit Night when everyone wore purple & white:
we all walked the labyrinth with candles

tons of luminaries set off
All dressed and ready for spirit night.
Here are a few pics of Brushwood:
Fire Altar - where the drum circle and dancing took place.

For the Burn