Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Door peninsular


We will have to see how it looks after we go thru the joys of going off site to dump before we post our own review.

Lots of nice water views on the Door Peninsular
Several people from Wisconsin have told us “You have to visit Door County” other people have told us “It'll be crowded, there are too many tourists”. Well we're here to tell you that YES we're so glad we came to Door County it's beautiful and unspoiled, and NO it isn't crowded with tourists even though we are here for the July 4th Holiday.
4th of July in Bailey's Harbor
We took a whole day to drive around the Door Peninsular and we both agree that this is a super place. We visited a lighthouse by a wagon that was pulled thru the surf, strolled the streets of Baileys Harbor and Egg Harbor, took in Sturgeon Bay and a local brewpub (of course) then on the 4th decided to get to the firework show early to get a good seat!
Loved this sign, and their frozen custard.
We certainly got a good seat but after a couple of hours the sky turned dark and thunder started rumbling. There was supposed to be a band and food vendors but the band weren't going to set up in the rain and the food vendors weren't eager to serve as the rain got heavier and heavier. We took shelter in a pavilion with lots of other people until the rain went away, but we could see a bunch more heading our way. Finally we left and headed back towards the campground.

Door County Maritime Museum Sturgeon Bay
It occurred to us that there were a couple of bars near the campground. We'd been in the “Biker” one so we took a chance on “The little brown jug” being open on this national holiday. It was and soon we were laughing and chatting with the locals, drinking “Spotted Cow” beer and eating from their excellent food choices. The owners of the campground David and Liz, were there too and we decided to stay another week. We're enjoying Door County!
Wagon ride out to the island

Cana Island Lighthouse
Our next day out was right to the very tip of the peninsular where we took the ferry to Washington Island. This serene little place is even nicer! We visited lavender fields and Norwegian Stave churches, a pebble beach. A lovely place. The weather was perfect and we drove back with the top down. The ferry passes “Deaths Door” which is an area with strong currents and frequent storms. So many shipwrecks happened here that it earned the name “Deaths Door”.
Ferry to Washington Island
We had reservations in Ephraim at the The Old Post Office Restaurant for a traditional Door County Fish Boil. Fresh locally caught white fish, potatoes, onions and salted water boiled over an open fire.

The fish boil

The Over Boil
The grand finale is the “Over Boil”. Kerosene is thrown on the fire and the blast of heat instantly brings the water surging over the rim of the cauldron which cleans any fish oil off the surface of the water and also cleans off any ash that might have got into the water from the fire. Served with cole slaw and buckets of melted butter it's delicious.
Glorious day on Green Bay
Every day brings more smiles and there is a lot to do. The Door County Maritime Museum was good with an excellent exhibition of paintings done in local shipyards and around the harbor. Exhibits showed the local boat and shipbuilding industries and another showed the many shipwrecks in the area.
The lavender fields on Washington Island
There are a lot of lighthouses around the peninsular, I can see some paintings being done of them this winter. One in Algoma caught my eye and I walked way out on the breakwater to get some different views of it.

Sherwood Point Lighthouse

Algoma Lighthouse
Algoma is another beautiful town with some great murals as well as several good brew pubs and an excellent winery (where we naturally stopped for tour and some tasting). We spent the whole day wandering round.

Murals 
We have pretty much decided that we are going up to the “Upper Peninsular” of Michigan next (Known simply as the U-P to locals, who call themselves “Yoopers”). They had a terrible flood up their last month and a lot of roads and bridges were washed out. We had thought of taking a ferry across Lake Michigan and doing a counter-clockwise tour but we're going to go clockwise and avoid the ferry.

Monday, July 2, 2018

More Wisconsin




One last night at the Elks with Sheri (where we hilariously won a local knowledge quiz even though we've never been here before!) and off we go again.

Oshkosh is HQ to the Experimental Aircraft association.
Oshkosh to the airplane nut (Like me) is almost hallowed ground. The headquarters of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) is here. EAA is the organization for people who build and fly their own airplanes, often in their basement or garage, For 2 weeks a year when they have their national convention here the little airport that serves Oshkosh becomes the busiest airport in the world! Then afterwards it is just a sleepy little airport again.
This unique homebuilt airplane is called "Pushy Galore" because the propeller pushes instead of pulls

Experimental aircraft come in all shapes and sizes from gliders and biplanes to warplanes and jets. We are a month too early for the big event but it's a nice quiet time to see the museum.

On display was a large collection of WW2 original "Nose Art"
The last time I came here was for a quick visit between arriving in Milwaukee and visiting a ship there, I barely had time to run around the museum. This time we spent most of the day in the museum and across the other side of the runway in Pioneer Airport where they display aircraft built back in the 20's and 30's. Our grand kids would love this place, they and their Dad are airplane nuts like Grand Dad.

All sizes of pilot catered for here!
There was a tremendous farmers market downtown on Saturday that stretched for about ½ mile. Lots to see and sample, Barbara bought some vegetables and I got some Cheese Curds, a must try if you're in Wisconsin. By coincidence we also explored several brew pubs and the Elks Lodge where we were invited to come and camp in their parking lot after we leave the present campground.

There is a large collection of vintage aircraft mostly in flying condition.
We saw in one of the brochures an Art Gallery/Garden called the Paine Mansion. They had an exhibition of Tiffany glass and lamps. Unfortunately they didn't allow pictures but I did take some in the gardens.

The Paine mansion grounds
The downside of this was the campground Circle R. It was expensive at $45 a night but they had 1 full hookup site left so we took it. No discounts as it was an “Event Weekend”, the Country USA concert was not too far away. The park wasn't full by any means. It seemed to be mainly seasonal campers and some spaces were well run down.

Formal garderns
Granted it's rained pretty hard the last couple of weeks but the roads were very muddy and the sites rutted. They were also very narrow.

Some paintings from here I think

When I came to hook up I noticed the sewer connection in the ground was cracked and there was water standing in the pipe. I put it down to the rain and didn't open the tank valves. Next day the lady next door came running over and yelled “You sewer is spilling everywhere”. Well no it wasn't my sewer tanks. The sewer line was backed up and sewage was coming up out of the drain, luckily for us (Not for her) it flowed away from us but puddled in her space! (YUK). I went to see the office and they were NOT helpful. “We're not calling anyone today they charge extra for Sunday” and “I started fixing it but my generator broke so there's nothing I can do”. 
We were leaving Monday anyway so there was nothing we could do except dump on the way out, just avoid Circle R if you are in Oshkosh.

Maybe not Mobey Dick but we had fun together
One pleasant surprise was going fishing again for the first time in over a year. I like the calming feel I get from standing on the side of a river casting a lure and hoping to feel the tingle of a fish nibbling at the bait. 

It's very relaxing and Barbara gets me out of her hair for a couple of hour too! Unfortunately being a full timer means that wherever we are I have to buy a non resident fishing license which in many states is extortionately expensive. What a nice surprise to find that in Wisconsin they have a program for first time fishing license buyer, resident or non resident that makes buying a 1 year license cheaper than a 15 day one! Well done Wisconsin! I dug out my fishing gear and tried my luck on Lake Winnebago. I even caught a fish. Not big enough t keep though so I sent it back to grow some more.

We had a quick overnight at the Cabellas store in Green Bay, WI. They allow overnighting at the right rear of the store. No hookups but they have a dump station where you either pay at the station with a credit card, or if you make a purchase at the store you get a free dump! Worked for us, and thanks Cabellas.

Huge street market in downtown Oshkosh
We actually had reservations at our next stop! Sturgeon Bay WI or to be more accurate Little Sturgeon Bay which is about 5 miles outside the city itself.

It's the July 4th holiday, always a busy time at campgrounds and essential to make reservations for. 

Just to be on the safe side we have reserved 9 nights at the Countryside Motel and RV park. This is one of those places where if you look it up on http://www.rvparkreviews.com/ has a glowing review. But only 1 review which makes me suspicious. They did have availability though which several other campgrounds didn't. They didn't have sewer hookups and there were no laundry facilities onsite either. 

In fact it looked quite overgrown in places with weeds popping up on the gravel roads. The owners were very friendly and welcoming which is always nice and we spent some time talking about the joys and challenges of full timing. We will have to see how it looks after we go thru the joys of going offsite to dump before we post our own review.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Wisconsin


And next? We're thinking Wisconsin.

Wisconsin it was! A very nice ride thru Iowa via Dubuque all off Interstates was rudely interrupted by the new tire pressure monitor (TPMS) going off warning that the left front tire had suddenly dropped to 29psi.

It didn't feel like the tire was down, the steering felt normal and the coach wasn't down on that side. Luckily we were just coming up to the Wisconsin State Line and stopped at the Tourist Information to investigate. I got out my tire pressure gauge and it confirmed my suspicion that the tire was fine. I had a spare battery for the sensor and when I replaced the old one it instantly stopped alarming and showed the same as the other from tire. If I ever bought another TPMS it wouldn't be made by Tire Minder! It's been a pain in the butt ever since we bought it.

Barbara's bear behind shot at the Ho-Chunk Casino
Barbara started getting a sore throat. Soon after that she started sneezing then coughing. It rapidly became a hacking cough. Luckily we only had 150 miles to go for the day and found a very nice Good Sam park in Baraboo WI at the Ho-Chunk Casino. We decided to stay 6 nights to let her get over the cold and to explore the Wisconsin Dells area.
Ringling Brothers Circus Museum
After a couple of days she started to feel better and we started looking around. Just down the road we found “Circus World”. Who knew that Ringling Brothers were from Baraboo? I mean to say, who even knows where Baraboo is!! They started the circus and came here each winter to work on new acts, train the animals, repair the equipment ready for the next season. Now it's a museum with circus memorabilia and vehicles from all around the world. Much of it is from the UK and it was great to be reminded of the circus shows we saw as kids in the 50's and 60's.

24 carat gold leaf covered wagon

At the circus, riding a 25' tall unicycle!!

All the fun of the circus.
We noticed there was an Elks Lodge in Baraboo but when we got there we discovered 2 more things. 1 - It was only open Wednesday thru Friday (And it was Saturday). 2 - The lodge was originally the Al Ringling mansion and was open for tours. 

The tour lasted an hour and was fascinating because the house was in the process of restoration after serving for 75 years as the main lodge. The Elks had saved the structure from demolition and hadn't destroyed the interior. They have recently sold the mansion to a young couple who are restoring it and have discovering amazing stuff like a 24 carat gold leafed ceilings hidden by modern drop ceilings in the ballroom!

The Al Ringling Mansion, now the Elks Lodge

Beautiful interior under restoration.
After 6 nights we decided to move on. Barbara was feeling much better and with a cruise on the Upper Dells we had seen all we needed to see. In another of those coincidences we've had lately, the sister of our old neighbors in San Diego (Jason and Ruby) saw our post on Facebook about the cruise on the Dells.
Sheri and her husband David live an hour or so from the Dells.

Wisconsin Dells tour boat.

The Wisconsin River

The Dells get their name from the French word for Layers, from the layered rock formations

Can you see all the faces that I see??

We exchanged messages and Barbara and I drove to Janesville where they live and where the Elks have a camping spot. When Sheri called us and asked where we were in Wisconsin she couldn't believe we were in Janesville. We made arrangements to have dinner at a local bar the next evening.

We needed to go shopping and we'd seen a supermarket called Festival on the way into town. We pulled into the parking lot, as we walked into the store we noticed a HUGE liquor store that was part of the market but separate from it. As we explored the beer section the door to the big walk in cooler opened and out walked Sheri!! She was so surprised she couldn't speak. Later on over dinner we devised another surprise for her brother Jason. We called him from my phone but when he answered Sheri started talking! It was hilarious, We had a great night together catching up on their news and the farm they have bought and started renovating.
Barbara, me and Sheri in the liquor store. SURPRISE!
On another side of our trip, the plan was to go to the Upper Peninsular (UP) of Michigan and some friends from Casa Grande where going to be there and had invited us camp on their property. We had experienced quite a lot of thunder and heavy rain in Wisconsin but up there they had a huge flood that washed away over 20 roads and destroyed many homes. We decided that maybe the UP could wait for a month or so and we'd better make plans for July 4th which is always a busy time in campgrounds. After some research and several phone calls we found a place in Sturgeon Bay for 10 days.
Me, David, Sheri and Barbara out for dinner.
One last night at the Elks with Sheri (where we hilariously won a local knowledge quiz even though we've never been here before!) and off we go again.


Monday, June 11, 2018

St Louis and north.


We decided to stay a couple of days after the rally so we can explore Sedalia and see the Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival and the Truck and Tractor Pulling. Should be more fun.
Several artist were performing live Scott Joplin recitals in the street.
The Scott Joplin Festival was fun, and Sedalia was a very interesting place with all the old buildings preserved so well. There were 6 of us from Chapter 25 Marty, Peggy, Rey, Loretta, Barbara and I after the majority rally goers left, we went to the local Mexican restaurant for a very enjoyable meal. That and a few drinks made me sleepy enough we didn't bother with the tractor pull. We watched a DVD then settled in for an early night.
Nice well preserved building downtown Sedalia

Very atmospheric
After a week in one place the old “Hitch Itch” was getting bad and we happily drove to Kansas City to see the National World War 1 Museum. The Blue Springs Elks welcomed us warmly to their excellent lodge and camping area. 
Elks camping.
Funnily enough we pulled in and another rig pulled in seconds later. They were the couple who had been parked directly across from us at the Rally! That started a chain of coincidence. 
L to R Me, Barbara, Jeanette and John
One of the Lodge members introduced us to John who's wife Jeanette was from our home town in UK! The next night she came to the lodge and we all talked for hours about home, they in turn introduced us to another John who as a Marine was attached to the US Embassy in London and met a girl who was also from our area. He told us he'd been to visit her family in Upton. We all laughed when we told him that our daughter is the mailman for Upton.
The World War 1 Museum is under the Liberty Tower

Truman Presidential Library

Looking at the garden where the Trumans' are buried
We walked for hours during our stay, finding more and more amazing places. The World War 1 museum took 5 hours and I'm not sue we saw everything. Then the Harry S Truman Presidential Library and home the next day was 6 hours. Finally the Steamboat Arabia Museum which took a meager 2 hours!!
The Arabia sank with a complete load of supplies for the frontier towns

Everything from Boots to Bullets and more

The old Courthouse Dome scene of the Dred Scott trial.
Our friends from our very first days of full timing Scott and Suzanne called, they were staying with their daughter 50 miles away and we all had dinner at the lodge. Our new friends John and Jeanette were there too and a good time was had by all.

We finally managed to drag ourselves away and next morning headed for St Louis to see the Arch. Unusually we decided to just get on I70 and head straight there, so it was just another amazing coincidence when an RV went the other way towing a jeep just like John and Debbies! Barbara grabbed for her phone and it rang before she even dialed the number. It was Debbie asking of we were going east on I70!!
Rainy day at the "Arch" St Louis

A dull rainy look down at the city from the top of the arch.
St Louis was OK, the arch was good even if the weather wasn't, hot and rainy doesn't make us happy. I'm not sure why we keep coming back to cities like this, we don't like the traffic and searching for parking spaces. We haven't got out of “Tourist Mode” even after 3 years!!

Davenport Iowa was next simply because it was about 200 miles from St Louis heading North. We found a nice route up Illinois 67, very little traffic and 4 lanes for many miles. Lots to see, with some awesome old farms and barns.
If you've seen the show you know what this place is.

I love the motorcycles.
It's construction season in Illinois and it's hard to understand why they have to close of sections of road completely instead of going from 4 lanes to 2. It seemed everywhere we went a road was closed and we got diverted. They are building a new bridge over the Mississippi too and that's got to be nightmare in rush hour.
Casino camping on the banks of the Mississippi
We stayed at the Isle Casino 2 nights for free and got 2 breakfast buffets for $5 total using the 50+ offer and the free point we got when we joined their “Player Club”.
The National Motorcycle Museum

Evel Kdowning
Side trips to “Antique Archaeology” and The National Motorcycle Museum were worth while we thought.
More gorgeous motorcycles

I want to paint some of these pretty bikes.
And next? We're thinking Wisconsin.