Michigan, Part I

While visiting Michigan we stayed in St. Ignace at Tiki RV and Campground in the UP (Upper Peninsula). We had a beautiful pull through site with a view of the lake in the distance.
Our view for the week.
Our first day we spent exploring the beautiful area.
A small lighthouse marking the harbor here.
We crossed over the Mackinac Bridge to the Lower Peninsula and Mackinaw City. By the way, we learned “Mackinac” and “Mackinaw” are both pronounced MACKINAW! Very odd!
A closer look at one of the two towers suspending the bridge.
A couple of shots of this majestic bridge from the Mackinaw City side.
This is a pretty cool bridge! Building started in 1954 and completed in 1957. It spans almost 5 miles!
We visited the Ice Breaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum in the Lower Peninsula. It was fascinating!
It was launched in 1944 and was known as “The Queen of the Great Lakes”. It served as the only ice breaker keeping the shipping channels open until it was decommissioned in 2006. It was later replaced by a smaller ship, but according to the docents we spoke with who served on her the new ship isn’t as capable as the USCGC 83. She is 290′ long, over 5000 tons and has 6 diesel engines with a total of 10,000 HP!
We thought Reeve would like this: it looks like it’s made up of Legos!
One of the 6 massive diesel engines.
Here’s a look at the workings of the engines. Quite impressive for the 1940’s!
Their ship’s motto.
Some of the crews quarters; cozy! When they were deployed in the early fall they stayed out clearing the shipping channel until late spring; that was 6 to 8 months.
This is the massive winch they used to tow huge cargo ships as needed.

mill creek discovery park

Another trip to the Lower Peninsula we went to see the Mill Creek Discovery Park where we saw how the lumber mills worked back then. Here the docent shows us one of the axes they used to cut logs into rectangles before sawing them into planks.
This was the apparatus they used to saw the logs into planks before the invention of the water powered sawmill. Very labor intensive and slow! The docent got this girl from the audience to assist him.
Next we saw the newer more “modern” water driven saw mill. It used a pond dammed up from the creek for power to drive it’s water wheels. All the gears and workings were made of wood! The wooden trough you see in the foreground of this picture feeds the water wheels from the pond.
Here the docent is demonstrating the workings of the saw. The water wheels drive the system of gears and levers (all wood) to reciprocate the vertical saw blade as well as move the log through it to cut the boards. Still slow by today’s methods but light years better than the old two man saws!
The water wheels in action. One to power the saw blade and one to move the logs through the blade.

boat trip to mackinac island

We took a ferry day trip to explore Mackinac Island. We rode in style; a Cadillac!
We got a special treat on our way to the island. The ferry went over to and under the Mackinac Bridge which doesn’t happen all the time. It’s depends on the weather. What a great way to see it up close! Look at that massive cement block anchoring one of the ends of the suspension cables.
Those towers look much taller from down on the water!
As we went under, you can see that the two inner lanes are open expanded metal. A little spooky to drive on, but I’m guessing they are there to help with wind sway and/or weight?
On our way to Mackinac Island!
A lighthouse coming into the harbor at the island.
Here’s a view of the Grand Hotel on the island with the town down below.
We’ve arrived! Now to explore.
There are no motorized vehicles allowed on the island, so the only choices of transportation are horses, carriages, bicycles or walking. This is their trash truck.
This is a carriage from the Grand Hotel. Pretty fancy!
We of course took a carriage ride tour of the island. The drivers are very connected to their horse teams. They know them all by name and know all their moods. The horses only work 4 hours a day, it doesn’t seem very long but the island is pretty hilly so they work hard for those 4 hours.
We got to see ours switched out; it was like a NASCAR pit stop! They did it all in less than a minute!
Jan loved all the flower baskets and flower beds around town.
Bright vibrant colors everywhere! Even these Adirondack chairs!
Interesting sculpture!
A grand view of the Grand Hotel!
The smaller wagons just needed one horse.
Near the hotel and Surry shopping area they had a display of the Butterflies of Mackinac, very beautiful!
Our carriage for the afternoon was larger, so we had a three horse team.
They took us to the other side of the island which was beautiful. There was this military cemetery in the wooded area.
Beautiful shaded pathway.
The path we took was on a path above the beach on the back side of the island. One of the stops we made was for pictures and exploring Arche Rock.
The view was breath taking from up there!
Some great views from above the town too!
One of the many beautiful homes on the island! We learned that there are only 500 full time residents on the island. Everyone else works and lives there seasonally.
Here are a few more pictures from in town. A very magical town for sure!
Great day, on our way back to the mainland.
It was a quicker trip home; the captain kicked the jet boat into high gear!

Stay tuned for Michigan, Part II………


tilleda falls campground

Jan found this nice small family run campground. We were set up right on the pond with a great view and a waterfall for the week!
This was our site. Very green with a small sand beach right behind us!
A fabulous view from our dining area window.
A view looking back across the pond toward our site and the beach. On the left you can see the top of the dam and waterfall; it’s kind of a zero edge pond!
A view from below the falls. That’s our rig in the background.
Beautiful little creek don’t you think?
Downstream past the rapids, very tranquil!
We arrived just before the 4th of July weekend. The park was packed with campers; here’s our row on Sunday afternoon, EMPTY!! We had the place to ourselves the rest of the week.

oshkosh, wisconsin eaa aviation museum

For my birthday we went to see the EAA Aviation Museum. Jan arranged for Melissa and Jeff Drescher (friends we worked with at Santee Lakes) to meet us at a restaurant for lunch. It totally surprised me! They live in Milwaukee now, but I wasn’t expecting to see them! Had a great time catching up.
As you can see from this shot, the museum is quite extensive.
This is a replica of the Wright Brothers historic plane.
This is a plane used by S.C. Johnson to travel the world looking for carnauba which he developed into wax, still used today! And this was in 1935!
This is a map of the route they traveled.
An array of the products he came up with using the wax.
Here is an example of the many “flying cars” developed over the years.
There was of course displays of Lindbergh’s historic flight.
There was a section dedicated to air racing and the stunt flyers.
There was even a display of Lego planes!
Throughout the museum they had original nose art from the war planes of WWII. Many were pretty interesting, some a bit risqué!
A bit risqué, but it was obviously on a twin engine war plane!
This “Fat Man”, the atomic bomb dropped in WWII (obviously not THE bomb but a replica!)
Here is an early example of a sea plane.
They also had experimental and research planes there.
Is that a famous War hero?!?
This was an interesting plane and project. They helped the whooping cranes in their migration using this ultralight in 2004!
The pilot wore the suit to diguise being a human and they used whooping crane puppets too!
One last risqué nose art!


This is a photo Jan took on our drive to Minnesota. The yellow flowering pants were everywhere for miles!

minneapolis/st. paul

We stopped in Minneapolis to visit our good friends, Manny and Carmen, whom we met 3 years ago on a boat tour of Lake Coeur d’Alene in Idaho. We had fun then, so knew we’d have a great time with them here! Carmen cooked us a wonderful Puerto Rican meal.
Manny drove us all over the area showing us the sights. This was Minnehaha Falls in Minnehaha Park.
We also visited the Guthrie Center in Minneapolis where we had a great view of the city. It’s a live music and entertainment theatre. It has a beautiful, welcoming interior.
The General Mills Gold Medal Flower plant in downtown Minneapolis.
Across the river is the Pillsbury’s Best Flour plant in downtown St. Paul. Apparently Minneapolis wasn’t big enough for two competing flour companies!
Another bridge between Minneapolis on this side of the river and St. Paul on the other.
I saw this in one of the parks and thought it was funny.
Carmen resting in the park. Great day touring the city!

the spam museum?/ austin, minnesota

We couldn’t visit Minnesota without visiting the Spam Museum!
Reserved parking for Spam Fans!
There were lots of displays and memorabilia from the beginning of the company to present day.
There was a lot of information about Spam during WWII.
All through the museum you could see this conveyor above you with 780 cans of Spam on it!
Meet Sir Can-a-Lot!
They even had a motorcycle that runs on bacon grease!
Some of the huge array of Spam memorabilia.
There was even this huge Spam RC Rocket!
Of course we couldn’t leave without stocking up with SPAM! I got a case of 12 different varieties plus a can of Portuguese Sausage Spam that wasn’t included in the case.

Colorado Part 3- Colorado Springs & Sterling

We spent 9 days in Colorado Springs staying at our favorite place, at the Air Force FamCamp. We pulled into our site and look at our neighbors! TWINS! (We’re the ones on the left in case you couldn’t tell us apart!
While we were there visiting family we got an afternoon with Aneka. We had a drink at the Broadmoor. Fun day! We saw her a few times while there but unfortunately weren’t there for her debut as a Pikes Peak Rangerette at the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo; Maybe next summer, can’t wait!
Aneka enjoying her Mocktail.
Since we missed the rodeo, here are a few pictures from her mom, Kristin. We can’t wait to see her there next summer!
Aneka and her proud papa Rich!
Aneka in action, waving to the crowd at full speed! This photo is from the official photographer at the event.
We got to go see Rich and his band, RetroWave. Unfortunately it was pouring down rain so it was indoors, but still a great time!
Here’s a better pic actually showing Rich!

on to sterling……

We got our favorite spot at North Sterling State Park looking towards the reservoir. We loved spending time with our good friends Steve and Mary Bergman but were having so much fun we forgot to take any pictures!
We loved this campground, lots of space between sites!

Colorado Part 2, Family Time in Palisade

This was our campsite for the week. Right on the Colorado River (although about 100′ above on a cliff)
This was our view!
Before Bryce and family arrived we went into town and they were having a motorcycle show.
An old Harley with sidecar.

colorado national monument

We took a day to explore Colorado National Monument. I’d never heard of it, it’s just up the road a bit from Palisade where we were staying.
There is some pretty impressive scenery here! This shot was looking straight down to the bottom of the canyon. I’m not sure what possessed me to take this shot; anything for a good picture I guess!
Some of these formations defy gravity!
And if you look closely, there’s ferocious wildlife!
This one looks like a chimney
Despite the barren appearance, it was pretty green.
Some very interesting rock layers everywhere you look!
There were several of these brilliant pink cactus flowers in bloom; quite a contrast!

family time in and around palisade

Bryce and crew stayed nearby at a cool farm Airbnb. They were in a nice house shared by Bryce, Laura, Reeve and Laura’s sister Monica and her husband Benjer and their two kids, Autumn and West. This is the pond by their place where the kids enjoyed exploring and finding small frogs.
They had plenty of room to run and play!

riggs hill dinosaur excavation site

While we were there we all went on a hike to see Riggs Hill, a dinosaur excavation site.
Here are the kids standing with a casting of one of the bones discovered here.
It was a fun hike, but not always easy and level!
The view from the top was pretty good though.
Photo evidence that Reeve and Autumn made it to the top!

fruita dinosaur museum

After Riggs Hill we went to Fruita and visited the Dinosaur Museum there. Here’s Laura getting into the whole experience!
The displays here are obviously not real but very realistic! This one spit every so often!
This one was a bit too realistic for some!
Who are you looking at?!?
This was more Reeve and Autumn’s taste!
I saw this at the gift shop and thought it was pretty funny!

pool time

After all day exploring we returned to our campground where they all enjoyed a cool time in the pool.
Of course complete with Super Soaker fights!
While there, Bryce discovered this Alpaca Farm nearby. It turned out to be very interesting!
The Alpacas had been recently sheared obviously!
If you look closely they have very large front teeth!
The process of taking their fur and spinning it into threads and then yarn is pretty interesting too. This is the wool after it’s been cleaned but before it is spun into threads.
One of the many machines they use.
Here are some of the many products they make.
This is their guard dog. He looks pretty docile but the guy who gave us the tour said he’s all work, don’t go near him! He once took out a mountain lion who tried to get to the Alpaca!
The Alpaca Shack! I thought it was nice of these 3 to pose for this shot!
After the Alpaca Farm we stopped at a winery for lunch.
While in Palisade Bryce and Laura treated us to a great seafood Paella dinner in town.
While driving around Palisade Jan spotted this B&B that had a beautiful Rose garden all set up for weddings and other occasions.
The house next door was quite beautiful too!

Back in Colorado!

mesa verde national park

The cliff dwellings here are amazing. How they got up there was quite a feat! There were no stairs, just climb up!
As you can see the terrain is quite rugged!
This was the visitors path to view the ruins close up; I chose to just get my pictures using my 300mm telephoto lens from the top!
Some beautiful succulents here.
The view went on for miles!
Of course I have a picture of a dead tree!

durango/silverton train ride

While staying near Mesa Verde we took a day trip over to Durango to ride the steam train from Durango to Silverton
The scenery along the way was spectacular! I got this shot of our train since we were in the next to last car.
Here’s a cool shot of the engine on a trestle.
A few places the cuts in the rock cliffs were a bit tight!
Some swollen rivers along the way; the spring melt isn’t quite over yet and it’s late May! Here the train is at one of it’s two stops along the way to refill water. These old steam engines used a lot of water heated by a lot of coal! The people you see here are hikers they dropped off; they will hike the rest of the way to Silverton!
On our way again!
We chose the First Class car; not plush by today’s standards but pretty comfortable.
As we got closer to Silverton you can see that the snow is still not melted quite yet. The Aspen trees do have their leaves producing this dramatic difference from their light green leave and the dark green of the pines.
Arriving in Silverton.
Some desperadoes chased the train for a bit!
This is the train station at Silverton; it makes you feel as if your transported back to old western times!
We had lunch at The Lone Spur Cafe inside the Grand Imperial Hotel. A beautiful old bar and restaurant!
A gorgeous had carved old western bar!
While we ate lunch we were entertained by Lacey Black with some great piano music. She’s been doing this since a young girl. We had to get a couple of her CDs!
Need some boots?
Beware of the Moose!
…And the bear!
Back to the train for the return trip.
What’s left of an old mine.
A waterfall from the spring melt.