Thursday, September 5, 2013

We’ve Been Adopted!

During the opening session of the rally this afternoon, the members of the Great Lakes Chapter did the normal announcements and discussion of what the rally schedule includes, etc.


Then came the ‘Adoptions.’ This is a tradition carried out by many of the regional chapters of the Escapees RV Club for making newbies welcome at rallies. We were the first couple to be called up for adoption! They presented us with this certificate:


Lots of hugs were exchanged as our mentors (‘parents’) Ed and Lorna McGill welcomed us and gave us lapel pins to wear.


Jan and Bill were also adopted, but Bill was a bit under the weather so Jan represented both of them as they were adopted by Roger and Diane Ferguson.


Andrew and Bea Hamor were adopted by Jim and Sue Barrett. I later signed them up as new Escapees RV Club members.


Other adoptions took place, but I didn’t get pictures or names.

Earlier in the day, Don, Jan and I drove north about 6 miles to a fruit/vegetable stand and got some fresh tomatoes, peaches and cantaloupes.



There were lots of other fresh goods, but we’ll be eating most of our meals with the group for the next few days, and plan to go to a farmer’s market on Saturday for more of the local bounty.

Following the afternoon meeting, we enjoyed a Mexican dinner with friends Bernie and Carole Patton. It was nice to spend time with them and get better acquainted, as we’ve crossed paths several times but never sat down together with just the 4 of us.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Grayling to Ionia, Michigan

It was a pleasant drive of about 140 miles today, with good weather, good roads and mostly light traffic. What a change from our last trip!

We arrived at the Ionia Free Fair grounds around 1:00 pm, and became part of the early arrivers for the Escapees Great Lakes Chapter 6 rally, which starts tomorrow. It was surprising to discover over a dozen RVs already here! We found several familiar faces, and met more folks during happy hour in the shade of a tree.

Today is Bernie Patton’s birthday, so his wife Carole did what any loyal spouse would do – bought a cake at Wal-Mart!



Bunny Ratcliff (center) is one of our Chapter 21 friends from Benson, AZ.


Her hubby Bruce (center) had lots of stories to share.


Everyone is friendly and had hugs to share with us. I enjoyed a brief chat with this solo lady named Judy Woodham, who was widowed. She downsized from a large 5th wheel to a slide-in truck camper and is very happy with her small house on wheels. Good for her! A lot of women just give up RVing when their spouse passes or can no longer drive.


Our wagonmaster, Mike Foley and wife Kathy, made us feel welcome.


Bill and Jan were also welcomed as VCRs-in-training. We recruited them to become Volunteer Club Representatives for the Escapees RV Club, and we’ll be training them during this rally. We know they’ll be great at the ‘job.’


Bill, Jan, Don and I had dinner downtown and enjoyed seeing some of the beautiful architecture preserved from days gone by.



Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Kayaks For Two

We kayaked the Au Sable River today with Jan and Bill, their first kayak experience. We had a nice, sunny day, after a couple of days of rain and drizzle. Plus, all the vacationers have gone home so the river wasn’t crowded.

Note: Be sure to read Jan’s blog on our day. She has a little different point of view!

Instead of using our own kayaks, Don and I decided to rent a kayak for two. It was $28 for the rental and portage back from the take-out place, or $10/person just for portage. So, for the difference of only $8 we thought it would be fun to try one out.


Jan & Bill seemed to enjoy it.


They got into a few scary situations, and ended up going backwards a time or two.


And had an occasional encounter with a fallen tree.


But they got into relaxing and enjoying it pretty soon and we started seeing big smiles.


Having a two-person kayak was nice. Often Jan and I just let the guys take over the paddling.


I think Don was singing to me.


We stopped for a snack at about the halfway point. All of us managed to get out of and back into the kayaks without falling in the water. No camera shots were allowed during the process, however.


We saw lots of ducks.


A few turtles.


I think this was an eagle.


I had a hitchhiker.


Other kayakers and canoeists passed us by.


And we caught up with them when they stopped for a snack.


After about 3 hours, having covered 8 miles, we stopped at our take-out point at Burtons Landing.


Jan and Bill were still smiling!


And we were all happy to let the strong, young guy from the outfitter hoist the boats onto the trailer.



And take us back to our car in the van.


We had Famous Spikeburgers for lunch at Spike’s Keg ‘O Nails, the place recommended by the locals. They’ve been serving this area from the same location since 1933, even though the building burned down twice.


The Army was well-represented beside us, so we knew the food would be good.


Jan and Bill were still smiling! Maybe it was because the paddle was over?


Since my waterproof camera isn’t working, I dug out my Nikon CoolPix S630, that I haven’t used for a few years. It’s small and easy to tuck into a pocket. Although it doesn’t take as good pictures as the Canon G15 and it has no viewfinder so it’s hard to see the LCD in sunshine, it wouldn’t break my heart if it got wet. The only problem is that I can’t find the battery charger for it! But I did find the spare battery was charged up enough for today’s use, and I later ordered a battery charger on for $2. Shipping added $2.98, but it’s still a bargain for having an alternate camera to use. All of the above pics were taken with it, then I went back to the G15 for the next ones.


Later, we enjoyed dinner outside, with no smoky fires for a change. All of the weekend campers have gone home! Bill greeted us with a big smile because he could finally breathe freely outside.


The sausages that Bill grilled were great, served with fresh corn, baked beans, onions, tomatoes, etc. done by Jan. And what a treat to have sunshine and clean air for eating outdoors!