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Old 04-30-2009, 09:48 AM   #71
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Old 05-03-2009, 08:21 PM   #72
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Finally got an internet connection, wrote a long post, went to post it, connection died, post disappeared. Note to me: always make a copy. Note to me: I told you that before, you idiot. Now it hasn't worked for an hour. Grrrr.

We are in Onotonagon, Michigan, at the western end of the UP. The campground is closing down in a month. 16 reservations this year, more than 900 a year ago. The utilities are too much, they don't know what else to do. We saw little traffic until this afternoon and then it was coming from the west. Not many RV's. Since we left JC, we haven't seen an Airstream on the road and only saw one trailer and two Land Yacht's coming from Colorado to JC.

When we left Ann Arbor on Thursday, we had rain most of the way, sometimes very heavy. On the way, I discovered all the campgrounds were closed until the next day in Mackinaw City. So I started calling them and found Mill Creek had some spaces ready out of 600. This worked out great because it was virtually empty and we had an unobstructed view of Lake Huron. The wireless didn't work because they were changing ISP's. We were going to go to Mackinac Island (they are spelled differently, pronounced the same) the next day, but the forecast was for wind, clouds and cold. We decided to sleep late, do laundry and walk around town. We've been pushing hard as we always do, so we had to get some rest. I think that was the day Barb slept 10 or 11 hours. In the next two days, I dozed off in the laundromat, a restaurant, and on the ferry. Barb watched me so I didn't fall over or drool. I did neither.

On Saturday, we took the ferry to Mackinac Island. Once we landed, immediately things feel weird. No cars or trucks are allowed except for a few emergency vehicles. Draft horses pull carriages, wagons and even the street cleaner, though the cleaner had a motor to run the sweeper. We didn't see anyone riding a horse though. There are bikes everywhere. If you order large items from the mainland, they are transported by the ferry, then brought to you by a horse drawn wagon. Seems pretty expensive. No gas stations, no parked cars, just parked bikes (unlocked too).

There are old hotels, often Victorian in style, and expensive second homes and probably some less expensive ones further from the water. Downtown is tacky T-short shops, tourist curios, and a very few high end stores. We stopped at 2 restaurants. The Village Inn was for hot chocolate (the day started cold and windy, but later sunny and beautiful) and decided on 2nd breakfast. Later we had a light meal at the Seabisquit, but declined the offer of grog—beer was just fine. The food was pretty good.

After days of no exercise, we walked a lot for a while and that felt great. As the weather got better, we decided to rent a tandem bike. Barb is the bike rider—she has a very good road bike and uses it. I haven't been on a bike for more than 30 years, partly because I had a bad back injury 25 years ago and bending over handlebars is not my idea of pleasure. Recumbent bikes look strange to me (who says I'm inflexible?). We'd talked about trying out the "bicycle built for two" for years and this was our chance.

We found a rental shop with a brand new, 7 speed Schwin. Not exactly a fancy road bike, but they have to be built tough for the rental business. Barb in front as the expert and me behind as the bike idiot. We wobbled down the road since we had trouble coordinating peddling and our weight kept shifting in strange ways. I was uneasy. I couldn't see in front of us. Barb's 5'9"+ and broad shouldered for a woman (also lanky and splendid). The faster we went the less we wobbled and with two peddling, you can go pretty fast. We had been exercising a lot for this trip, but my quads weren't used to this motion and started screaming to me. We kept going and going and going. We also kept stopping so I could let my atrophied peddling muscles relax and fear of imminent death subside.

After 4 1/2 miles, I decided to try to the front position. It's true, you never forget how to ride a bike or to swim. Although we were always along the water, we didn't fall or wobble into the water and check out the swimming part. Good too, because the lake is 38˚. Shifting came right back and off we wobbled. Barb was happy because she said it was like having a boulder behind her (my taughtly muscled body [in my imagination]), and she could synchronize peddling better than I could. Even with 3 or 4 rest stops, we did 8 miles in 1 1/2 hours. I would not do this again. We're not used to tandem bikes and it was more work than pleasure. Next time (in another 30 years) 2 bikes, though a tandem is cheaper to rent. It was fun despite the subdued craziness of it and we enjoyed our time peddling around the island.

Most of the island is wooded and an upland. Still there are lots of houses around and it seems a beautiful, though difficult and expensive place to live. I imagine winters can be awful at times.

My imagined Michigan is industrial and densely populated. But, once you pass Saginaw, it's all trees, small towns and pretty flat with some hills. They even have a ski area but the drop must be pretty small. It seems like an excellent place for cross country. Today we went to Upper Peninsula (UP) crossing the very long bridge (5 or 6 miles). Until they built it in 1957, the UP was very isolated and in winter, I don't know how a ferry would run without an ice breaker. The UP is even fewer people and more trees. The forest is small conifers, many dead, and birch and other broadleafs. It may be 2nd (or 3rd or 4th) growth and doesn't look healthy. There's also a elm beetle infestation. The eastern part is mostly flat, though it gets hilly in the west as you approach Wisconsin. Once there were iron mines, but I don't think there's much of that. Now it's tourism and some fishing. The larger towns are along the water, Marquette being the largest we went through.

We followed Lake Michigan first, crossed over over to Lake Superior after a while. The lakes, which really are big, are beautiful and it was pleasant to drive today. A sunny day and temps got up to 61˚. We covered about 300 miles on our way to Duluth. Duluth appears to be a city we could spend days in, but I am getting antsy for the backwoods. I am trying to reconcile this with my attachment to my computer and campgrounds with wireless. There's one open campground in Duluth with wireless. Maybe they have cable since for days we have had only local TV which is awful. One station today—the CW network which is pretty bad.

So far, since we left the factory nothing has broken. One trailer tire loses a pound or two a day which has me concerned about a slow leak. We discovered a piece of trim in the bathroom is missing. It's at the top of the wall across from the toilet and someplace we never bothered to look before. When we got here, I had the pleasure of using the Flush King forever—7 flushes—but we got 9 days out of the black tank before the smell appeared. Why am I always the one who gets to do the sewer connection? Why do I always have to take the garbage out? Men Unite! It's not like I like garbage and sewers.

Gene
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Old 05-03-2009, 10:18 PM   #73
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Gene,

Glad to hear from you. I figured you would find WiFi scarce in the UP. I signed up for Verizon Wireless Internet and have gotten what I pay for. T'ain't cheap, but I can get an Internet connection almost anywhere. I have a better high speed Internet connection on the edge of the BWCA than I do at home in Ohio--go figure.

There area lot of small "cheap and cheerful" municipal RV parks in the UP with basic hookups. Sunday Lake at Wakefield and Ironwood City Park at Ironwood are two we have stayed at.

Enjoy your trip. Supposed to be warm and sunny for a few days.
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Old 05-03-2009, 10:31 PM   #74
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I tried to post some photos, but the upload took forever and then the connection failed again which deletes the whole thing. I'll try again from Duluth. I'm too cheap to get the Verizon aircard. We don't even have cell service here and I noticed I can't even spell the name of the town.

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Old 05-03-2009, 10:35 PM   #75
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Sounds like a normal road trip for gene and his lovely bride . Try and slow yourselves down some and see America. Catch you in CO later this summer I hope.
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Old 05-03-2009, 11:00 PM   #76
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrawfordGene View Post
I tried to post some photos, but the upload took forever and then the connection failed again which deletes the whole thing. I'll try again from Duluth. I'm too cheap to get the Verizon aircard. We don't even have cell service here and I noticed I can't even spell the name of the town.

Gene
LOL! Boy does this bring back memories. In 2006 our camping group stayed at Muskallonge Lake State Park with your camping group. It has Lake Superior on one side (N) and the unspellable name on the South. The only place ANY of us could get cell phone reception was behind my friend's 5th wheel.

Glad you are having a nice time and made it to the island. Does it smell like fudge downtown in the spring too? We will be there in July...pay to bring our own bikes and helmets. Brave man getting on a tandem
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Old 05-04-2009, 07:55 AM   #77
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'baskets, I've been looking for your friend's 5th wheel so we could get cell reception, but he isn't here. No fudge smell on the island yet, but that didn't prevent us from eating 4 meals that day.

Another note to me: find out if there's an adjustment on the thermostat so it switches to furnace from heat pump at a higher temp. The pump runs increasingly inefficiently below 40˚ until it switches to furnace at about 28˚ to heat the tanks. This morning the outside temp was 33˚ and although I had set the temp at 62˚, it was 56˚ inside, not conducive to getting out of bed. I should have switched it over manually when I woke up at 3 am contemplating the following profound thoughts:

Why isn't it called teethpaste and teethbrush if it's for more than one tooth?

If fat people have more skin, why aren't they called skinny?

Off to civilization today—Duluth.

Gene
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Old 05-04-2009, 09:00 AM   #78
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Gene,

Sounds like you're having fun, and glad that your visit to JC was successful. We purchased our previous (first) AS at a dealer 50 miles away from JC, but the Terraport was having water line problems which prevented us from staying there.....just as well, as the nearby KOA at Wapakoneta was rated #5 in the nation and turned out to be a great place to check out all the systems.

Thanks for the touring tips in another thead.....interesting that we will be passing close to your neck of the woods. If you ever need a dose of humidity in the Summer, make a trip to NW FL.......it's not the temps, it the 90% water in the air.....but, the incredibly beautiful water and beaches make it all worthwhile.

Hope your Centramatics are doing their job......the short 160 mile trip that we have logged so far was uneventful. My concerns about noise were unfounded.....either they are quieter than expected, or I just can't hear them in the truck. As far as performance, hard to tell as I had just rotated/balanced the tires, replaced both u-joints, and serviced the differential.....the ride is smooth.

Chief
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Old 05-04-2009, 12:41 PM   #79
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"Why am I always the one who gets to do the sewer connection? Why do I always have to take the garbage out? Men Unite! It's not like I like garbage and sewers."

Because you're the man, and the man empties the holding tanks. Maggie doesn 't empty holding tanks, Maggie doesn't know HOW to empty holding tanks, Maggie doesn't WANT to know HOW to empty holding tanks! Maggie would do it if she had to, but as long as there are chivalrous, gallant men around to do these nasty things, there is no need for her to even learn.

Be watchful with your cell phone up there, they sometimes draw off Canadian towers and will show up as huge fees on your bill---can be only corrected by proving you were not in Canada when you made the call, and are not responsible for the behavior of an inanimate, electronic item--your phone.

Sounds like you are having a great trip. Blow the UP a kiss for us, tell it we will be there soon.
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Old 05-04-2009, 03:19 PM   #80
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Chief,
I have no idea what's happening with the Centramatics on the trailer except they are supposed to work. They do create a silver background behind the wheels. I know about the humidity in Fla.—my parents moved to northern Dade Co. along the barrier beach (Sunny Isles) many years ago when my father retired. We found the humidity sapped our strength even though we have more blood because we live at high altitude, natural blood packing. Like most old people, they liked the heat and kept the A/C in their condo at 80˚. We couldn't sleep until we secretly opened the window to get it down to 70˚. Unlike most old people, I like it cold and colder.

doug&maggie, Barb would do the sewer if I asked her. I just get tired of it. Garbage is another thing though. She does a lot of things like the stabilizers since the bending is painful for me. One time we stopped at a campground in Nevada and the male owner kept watching us (his wife did the checking in, he guided people to the site—which was 50' from the office, tough job). Barb was doing the stabilizers, hooking up the power and water and more. Finally he says, "I never saw a woman do any of those things before". We share most duties, keep an eye on each other because between us we remember everything (haven't used the checklist in a long time) and the stairs are always up and the antenna down when we leave. I forget to screw on the cap on the city water inlet, but I know she's watching.

We left the town I can't spell this morning and drove along the Lake Superior shore as much as we can. The drive on Wisc. 13 around a peninsula is beautiful and worth the detour. Only went about 200 miles, an easy day. The land starts to get flat again as you approach Duluth, the forests looked healthier than in Michigan.

Superior, Wisc., looked drab. Maybe there are better parts of the city, but the highway follows the industrialized coastline. We found our way to Indian Point campground after I missed the turn and the office in a motel on a corner, drove around the campground, came back to the motel and had to maneuver through a small parking lot (this sounds easier than it was in reality). No map of the campground, water isn't turned on, no cable TV, but there is sewer, electric and wifi. They only opened a few days ago and there are about 4 other campers here. One looks like a Streamline and is in perfect shape; last saw one in Corvalis last September. The campground is on a peninsula jutting into the very wide St. Louis River and it feels isolated and pretty here. Kind of basic old place, but will do fine.

Nice weather today, but it's clouding over. Showers expected for the next few days, but no snow. Temps in the 60's and upper 30's at night. In a few days we will drive up the coast. I'm going to be checking on campgrounds. I have a lot of recommendations about state parks courtesy of fellow Airstreamers and I'll see if they are open. I hope we can go up the Gunflint Trail towards the Boundary Waters, but again, I'll have to see if anything is open. We do this same thing every Spring—travel early, find things closed and have to search for places to camp, but it sure is quiet. We want to see the Railroad Museum in Duluth, look for a good health food store, check out the organic bakery, Barb's want to go shopping (I complain and follow dutifully). Try out a couple of restaurants since Duluth seems to have quite a few very good ones.

We both bagged our 49th states today—Minnesota and Wisconsin for me, Wisconsin for Barb. We've been together for 23 years (our 21st wedding anniversary was a couple of days ago) and been to every one of those states together. We're waiting for a causeway to Hawaii. We've also been to all 10 Canadian provinces and two of three territories. Can't drive to Nunavut (yet). We want to travel more, so we have to see more parts of the places we've been to before and hope to keep this up for many years to come.

Gene
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Old 05-04-2009, 09:04 PM   #81
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Photos!

I found out this is a city owned campground. That explains its casually maintained quality. They have a campground host who gets to live in a Streamline. It looks very good on the outside.

We went into Duluth, shopping for food at the Whole Foods Co-op (no relation to the megachain) and going through some shops. Ate at the Lake Avenue Cafe. Good food! The bread served was very good—nice hard crust like we like and I bought a loaf for down the road. We'll have to bake it for 10 minutes to finish the process, so it'll be fresh then whenever we do it. Downtown is pretty simple to figure out and looks like a good place to live, though the area outside of downtown is rundown a little. Looks like the kind of place students at the local university would live.

Some photos:

1. Terraport. On the gov't permit it says "Terreport".

2. Mackinac Island: street sweeper pulled by horses, but the sweeper has a motor to run it. Seems like cheating.

3. Hotels with horse drawn cart for supplies and luggage in foreground.

4. Road around island, notorious tandem bike on left, tired bike rider on right.

Gene
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Old 05-04-2009, 09:20 PM   #82
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More photos

More photos from the island:

1. The one of the right is a hotel, not sure about the one on the left.

2. Store and possible residence with harbor in background.

3. Barb at cannon at British Landing.

4. Some old guy with notorious bike with straits bridge in background.
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Old 05-04-2009, 09:26 PM   #83
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Really more photos

Trying again…
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Old 05-05-2009, 12:18 AM   #84
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Great update. I should be sleeping but instead I'm LOL at your 'skinny' and 'teethbrush' comments! Good thing I wasn't sipping my Diet Pepsi when I read that!

Enjoyed the pictures. My hubby and I are having our 22nd anniversary this summer but are not as well traveled as the two of you. Looking forward to changing that!

Thank you for sharing!
TK
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