Monthly Archives: July 2013

July 29, 2013 St Ignace, Michigan

We left Cadillac and continued to be in awe of the Michigan beauty as we arrived at St Ignace, Michigan for a 5 night stay at the Tiki RV Park.  As we passed from the lower peninsula into the upper peninsula of Michigan, we crossed the beautiful Mackinac Bridge.  We were told that the Upper and Lower peninsulas were like two separate worlds.  The people in the Upper Peninsula call themselves “Yoopers”.  We were also told that in the last 30 years the Upper peninsula felt so different from the Lower peninsula that they wanted to become their own state.



We had heard so much about Mackinac (pronounced Mackinaw) Island we were eager to visit so that was first on our list.  We had to take a ferry over to the island which is located on Lake Huron.  We took our bikes since we heard we could bike around the island.  After a 30 minute ferry ride we arrived at the island and it seemed we went back in time.  No vehicles have been allowed on the island since 1898 so the only transportation is on foot, by bike, or horse drawn carriage.  The day we visited the main street was busy with throngs of people on foot or on bike.  It was strange to see people’s luggage being taken off the ferry and loaded onto bikes or horse drawn carriage to be taken to the hotel.  The main hotel and parts of the island were used in the filming of the movie “Somewhere in Time”.  We visited the information center for a map of the island and quickly left the center of town for a quieter part of the island.  We had to walk the bikes up a very steep hill to get to the fort which was the site of 2 battles during the War of 1812..  Once there we rode around the upper part of the island and saw a scout barracks with a statue of Gerald Ford.  These barracks are used by boy scouts and girl scouts on alternate weeks.  They have served as Mackinac Island Honor Guards since 1929 and Gerald Ford was once an Honor Guard scout.

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We also saw Arch Rock , a natural limestone arch that stands 146 feet above the shoreline.  We viewed it from the top of the island and then later from the lakeshore while bike riding.

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We were hungry after all that hilly biking so we rode back down into the town and had lunch at a local bed and breakfast.  They cooked lunch for us outside on a grill and then we sat on their veranda and ate our lunch and watched the people walk and bike by.  We spent the afternoon biking around the island lakeshore where it was level and much easier to bike.  We also spent time doing quite a few geocaches on the island as well.


View of the island




We so enjoyed this bike trail along the lakeshore!


We appreciated the free air on main street!


Bill along the bike trail. A nice wide bike trail with a gorgeous view!


It was common to see buggies and horse drawn carriages on the island, mainly to give rides to tourists.

I will say we did see one ambulance on the island and I imagine they also have a fire engine or two for such emergencies.  One downside to the island was the effects on the roadways from having all those horses pulling wagons and buggies and carriages…..need I saw more?

We enjoyed our day on the island and took the ferry back to the campground with many happy memories of our time on the island.


The next day we decided to make a quick visit to Castle Rock which was located fairly close to the campground.  We climbed many very steep steps to get to the top and were rewarded with a great view.  Not to mention meeting Paul Bunyan and his blue ox!

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On another day we drove to Sault Ste Marie, the oldest city in Michigan and the third oldest in the country. It was our first glimpse of Lake Superior, the largest lake in the world by area and the third largest in volume.  Our main reason for going there was to see the Soo Locks. We lucked out and arrived in time to see a ship enter the locks. Very interesting!

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July 24, 2013 Cadillac, Michigan

On our way to Cadillac we decided to stop in Grand Rapids, Michigan and visit the Gerald Ford Presidential Library and Museum.








I included this plaque because I thought it was interesting that Ford was the first president to visit Japan.


Replica of the Oval Office during Ford’s presidency.


Ford is the only President and Vice-President to ever achieve the level of Eagle Scout. Here are some of his boy scout mementos, including his merit badge sash.


After spending a good part of the morning at the Ford museum, we arrived for a 5 night stay at a private campground called Camp Cadillac.  One of the highlights of our stay here was a visit to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Park which was about an hour drive from Cadillac.  In 2011 Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore was voted the most beautiful place in America in a poll conducted by Good Morning America.  We took a self guided tour around the park and rode our bikes along a paved bike trail in the park.  What a beautiful place!


The tiny dots are people climbing the dunes on their hands and knees!

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On another day we drove to Traverse City.  It was cold and threatening rain so we decided not to bike ride, but did visit a lighthouse and found ourselves on the 45th parallel, halfway to the North Pole!


July 20, 2013 Holland, Michigan

We left Monroe and headed to Holland.  It was going to be hard to beat the incredible experience of the Ford Museum and Deerfield Village.  We were hoping for a break in the heat. A storm had knocked out power the evening before and when we left Monroe, the power still had not been restored at the campground.  The new morning brought continued heat and we were glad to be leaving the campground with no power.  The heavy rain during the night and lack of AC in the RV had kept us from having a restful night.

We arrived at Holland State Park, our home for the next 4 nights.  While driving into Holland we were excited to notice the paved bike path along the roadway on one side of the road and the beautiful Lake Michigan on the other side.  The Great Lakes contain nearly 20% of the world’s surface fresh water and is the largest connected freshwater system in the world.

The weather had changed and we had gusty winds which were refreshing after the stifling heat of the past several days.  We walked down to the beach and the wind was blowing so hard it had covered much of the parking areas and sidewalks.  It was hard to tell where the sidewalks ended and the beach began.  We actually had to put on jackets while out on the beach.


The blowing sand reminded me of snow drifts.


Holland lighthouse known as “Big Red”.




Tranquil scene common in Holland.

One day we decided to ride the bike trail into the town of Holland from the state park….a ride of over 12 miles round trip.  We were tired, but saw some beautiful scenery.


Bill showing off his shirt from his retirement party.


Holland, Michigan known for windmills and tulips, as well as beautiful beaches.




July 18, 2013 Monroe, Michigan

We joyfully passed over the Michigan border and stopped at the Michigan Visitor Center.  A very nice worker there filled our bag with all kinds of brochures to fill our days in Michigan.  It was rather overwhelming to look at all the possibilities stretched out before our eager eyes.  Our first campground reservation was at Sterling State Park in Monroe, Michigan.  It was dreadfully hot and we found the major difference between campgrounds in Michigan and those in other states we were familiar with, was that most of the Michigan state park campgrounds were not full hookup facilities.  It was common in Michigan to have electric only sites.  We realized quickly that for most of our stays in Michigan we would have to plan accordingly and ration the water in our fresh water tank and monitor the amount of waste in our sewer tanks so we would not have to move during our stay for water or to dump.

We set our early the next morning and drove to Dearborn, Michigan to see the Henry Ford Museum.  Little did we know what a treasure of information and sights we would discover there.  It turned out that in addition to the Ford Museum, there was also Greenfield Village next door.  Greenfield Village is an outdoor village with several historic districts featuring Ford, Edison, and the Wright Brothers.  Henry Ford spent a great deal of money buying and reconstructing important buildings and events in history.  Due to the extreme heat, we chose to walk through Greenfield Village first since all the exhibits were outside.  We figured we would save the air conditioned Ford Museum for afternoon and in case of afternoon thunderstorms.  There is no way to describe Greenfield Village or the Ford Museum.  The easiest way to show you is through pictures.

Greenfield Village:


This is the 150th anniversary of Henry Ford’s birth.


This is the bicycle shop owned by the Wright brothers in Dayton, Ohio that was reconstructed in Greenfield Village.


This is the front room of the Wright brothers bicycle shop.


Room in the bicycle shop where the Wright brothers repaired bicycles.


This is where the Wright brothers built their glider.


The Wright brothers lived in this house in Dayton, Ohio which was reconstructed in Greenfield Village. They had a small play on the steps with actors portraying Orville, Wilbur and their sister.


Bill with a statue of Henry Ford.




Henry Ford home.


As a retired teacher I especially liked this quote on the blackboard in Henry Ford’s schoolhouse.


Bill standing outside the original Ford Motor Company.


Henry Ford’s first attempt at building a car.




Train rides were available on this train. It was built in 1877 and sometime in the early 20th century Ford bought it and began a makeover of the engine.


Bill and I rode in a Model T car. This particular model T was actually used in days past as a taxi.


Bill is shown a demonstration of a working single piston gasoline engine by a guide in Greenfield Village.


It was common to see Model T ford cars throughout the streets of Greenfield Village giving tours.


Also common to see people in period costumes.


Bill with statue of Thomas Edison.




Edison’s workshop.


Edison’s workshop.




Of particular interest to my Charlottesville family and friends, as well as my teacher friends.


The McGuffey school was constructed in 1934 in Greenfield Village as a memorial to William McGuffey. It was built of logs from a barn on the farm in Washington County, Pennsylvania where McGuffey was born in 1800.


The home of Robert Frost was was purchased by Henry Ford and moved from Ann Arbor Michigan to Deerfield Village.


Noah Webster house moved from New Haven to Deerfield Village.


A quote about Noah Webster on the wall of his home. The home had on display some of his first dictionaries.



After grabbing a quick lunch in Greenfield Village, we gratefully walked into the refreshing coolness of the Ford museum.


The actual chair Lincoln was sitting in at Ford Theater when he was shot.


An “exploded” view of a Model T….what it would look like if it was taken apart.




Franklin Roosevelt’s presidential car.


Rear of Roosevelt’s car.


Eisenhower’s 1950 Lincoln presidential car.




The car Kennedy was riding in when he was assassinated. The bubble top has been put back on the car.




Oldest surviving school bus.




Second car to cross the United States.


The actual bus Rosa Parks was sitting in when she refused to give up her seat in 1955.


Bill sitting on the Rosa Parks bus.


Rear of the Rosa Parks bus.


The end of a long and busy day. What an incredible experience!

While doing some quick geocaching in Monroe we came across this statue of General George Custer.


Born in New Rumley, Ohio, George A. Custer grew up in Monroe in the home of his half sister.


Statue of General George Custer in downtown Monroe. Unveiled June 4, 1910. Also known as “Sighting the Enemy”.



July 16, 2013 Waynesville, Ohio

Today brought us to the Frontier Campground in Waynesville, Ohio.  This was a convenient stop on our way to Michigan.  We discovered a wonderful bike trail right near the campground.  We spent a morning riding on the shady, level trail, enjoying the quiet and peaceful countryside.  We passed through a quaint little village before deciding that a 10 mile ride was probably enough since the weather was quite warm.

We spent the afternoon at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.  We were curious about the museum because we had enjoyed the Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.  This museum did not disappoint, and we spent several hours in the museum walking through exhibits that took us from the Wright Brothers to the current fighter jets and weapons of mass destruction.  We were disappointed that the sections with Presidential airplanes and Research and Development were closed to the public because of budget cuts due to sequestration.

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Before heading back to the campground we stopped by the Wright Brothers memorial in Dayton and picked up some geocaches.  The memorial was very nice, but not as impressive as the memorial and visitors center in Kitty Hawk, NC.

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We enjoyed our brief time in Ohio and were looking forward to our arrival in Michigan.

July 12, 2013 Richmond, KY

After traveling through the beautiful hills of Tennessee and Kentucky, we arrived at Boonesborough State Park.  We found a lovely site with grass and trees, but the campground was very crowded as it was one of 4 weekends of the year where campers could come and sell their various yard sale treasure.  Riding our bikes around the campground was a true test of nerves as we dodged cars, RVs, campers, and many children playing and riding bikes in the street.  Our biggest complaint was a water treatment plant in the park which ran 24 hours a day and made it impossible to sleep with our windows open at night, despite the cool temperatures.

We toured Fort Boonesborough where we imagined walking in Daniel Boone’s footsteps and learned about frontier life.  They had reenactments and people dressed in period clothing.  It reminded me somewhat of Jamestown and Williamsburg, but on a much smaller scale.

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Next on our list was Natural Bridge where we rode a sky lift to the top.  The views were amazing and we walked a few trails at the top, one of which took us to the bottom of the bridge. Kentucky’s Natural Bridge doesn’t really hold a candle to the one in my home state of Virginia, but on the positive side the Kentucky bridge is much less commercialized, and the view can’t be beat!


Sky lift to the top. An amazing view!!


We hiked down to the bottom of the bridge. We had to shimmy our way through very narrow passageways between rocks to get there.


We also drove to Lexington, the horse capital of the world and a beautiful area of the state.  We spent time doing some geocaching.

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It was suggested that we go to a restaurant near the campground that made great Hot Brown sandwiches and fried banana peppers.  Let’s just say, everyone should experience them once, but once is enough.

July 10, 2013 Heiskell, TN

Today we arrived in Heiskell, TN where we had a reservation at Raccoon Valley RV Park, which is an Escapees park.  While in the area we drove to Oak Ridge to tour the AMSE (American Museum of Science and Energy) which chronicles the World War II Manhattan Project.  The museum is self guided, but we struck up a conversation with one of the workers there and he showed us through some of the museum and answered questions.  He had actually worked for the government at Oak Ridge and was very knowledgable about the museum and area.  We took a three and a half hour bus tour which included highlights of the history of Oak Ridge, and the history of science and technology at the three U.S. Department of Energy/Oak Ridge facilities.  Our first stop on the tour was the Y-12 New Hope Visitor Center which featured displays about the Manhattan Project, the Cold War, and other Y-12 missions.  Next we saw the Graphite Reactor located at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory which served as the pilot project that led to the first production of plutonium.  We saw the exterior of the world’s oldest nuclear reactor.  Lastly we saw  the K-25 Overlook where we learned about the gaseous diffusion process that enriched uranium powering the first atomic bomb.  It was amazing to see the “city” where people lived and worked long ago, completely unaware that they were working on the first atomic bomb.  They knew they were working on behalf of the war effort, but for most of them, the first time they knew what they had been working on was when they read about it after the bombs had been dropped at the end of World War II.  In many ways it was rather surreal to walk where they had walked and worked so many years ago.  The work was done 24 hours a day, 7 days a week until the war was over.  For those of you who may want to visit Oak Ridge and take the bus tour, we would suggest you get to the museum by 9:00 AM, get a ticket for the bus, and sign the log. The $5 admission fee included the bus tour but they only run one bus a day which leaves at noon and only holds 30 passengers.  Once the 30 tickets are handed out at the museum, no one else is allowed on the tour.  You also need proper identification to be allowed on the bus and photography is restricted in some areas on the tour.IMG_20130711_110317

On a lighter note, we found out on the bus tour why our campground was called Raccoon Valley.  It appears there is an abundance of raccoons in the area.  It seems the raccoons are also very smart and have learned how to open trash cans and get around many of the ways the people of the area have tried to keep them out of trouble.  The guide said the day the raccoons learn how to punch a code into a keypad or pick a lock, the town will be in real trouble!

July 6, 2013 Lake Guntersville AL

After staying overnight in Greenville, Alabama, we arrived at Lake Guntersville State Park.  Our first week on the road had been great except for the torrential rains that had dogged us since we left Clearwater.  We were rather tired of setting up in the rain, preparing to leave in the rain, hooking the car to the tow dolly in the rain, and unhooking the car in the rain.  As we listened to rain pounding the roof and keeping us awake, we longed for sunny days, but also realized we were so very lucky that we didn’t have to set up a tent, take down a tent, cook and run to the bathhouse in the rain!

Lake Guntersville is beautiful and seemed even more so after sunshine finally greeted us on our arrival.  We did have some mud to contend with, but we found a good site to park the RV.  We were both surprised at the lack of trees in the campground.  We found out that the tornado that tore through the area in April, 2011 destroyed many of the beautiful trees in the park.  We noticed that many new trees had been planted but it will take many years before they can begin to provide shade and give the campground the appearance of a real park.   We were also told that the campground is still cleaning up from the devastation and not all of the campground has reopened.

Our main reason for visiting Guntersville was to see some of Bill’s relatives, and we had a very nice visit with them while in the area.



July 3, 2013 Niceville FL

On July 3 we drove to Niceville FL and stayed at the Rocky Bayou State Park.  Our main reason for stopping in Niceville was to spend the 4th of July with our dear friends June and Randy.  It was raining heavily on our rather long drive.  It reminded me of just how long and wide Florida really is! We had reservations at an RV park that was 30 miles from June and Randy’s, and really wanted something closer.  We decided to cancel our reservations at the one RV park and take our chances at Rocky Bayou.  It was a risky move on a holiday weekend, but because of the weather forecast calling for continued torrential rains for several days, we took our chances on a cancellation at the state park.  As luck would have it, Bill’s instincts paid off and we were able to secure a site for our 3 day stay.  June and Randy’s 4th of July beach party had to be moved indoors, but we had a delightful time eating barbecue and playing dominoes.  We also enjoyed meeting and visiting with June’s brother and his wife, and Randy’s brother and his wife, as well as Randy and June’s son and grandson.  June had decorated the table beautifully for the 4th of July.  June and Randy are such gracious host and hostess!

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July 1, 2013 St Joseph’s Peninsula FL

After spending our first night at Manatee Springs State Park, we arrived on July 1st at Port St Joe FL and stayed at St Joseph Peninsula State Park .   As you can see from the pictures, even in the middle of summer, the beach is not at all crowded.    It doesn’t look like it, but there were strong winds while we were there, so they had red warning flags flying during our stay.  Beautiful beach and gorgeous sunsets!  Who could ask for anything more!