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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Loading up and getting ready to roll!

We have the motorhome all packed up and ready to roll for the weekend.... actually it is for a longer four day weekend!   We are going down to a cute little weaving studio in  a tiny village called Shopiere, WI.  It's owned by my friend Juanita Hofstrom and the name of the studio is called Vavning.   (about 200 miles from here)

She bought this vacant church and made it into the most comfortable studio, complete with lecture hall, studio space, kitchen area and offices.   It is in a tiny town about 4 blocks long, nestled in a vally along a bubbling brook and a tiny park.   I have been coming here for close to 10 years now.  I help Juanita hostess the event, and she contracts with Jason Collingwood to come and teach for the 3 day session.  He is a famous weaver from Great Britain,  son of the late Peter Collingwood, an innovator of a special technique for rug weaving called Shaft Switching.

We come early and help Juanita and Norm with some projects around the studio, and in return we can park for the four days in their parking lot.   Sure saves on the hotel fees and transportation from nearby Beloit.   Usually about 20 people attend and it's a very intense hands-on workshop with evening classes of interesting field  trips, swap meet of weaving supplies, show n tell, and eating out with groups for social times.

Being on site, I can unlock the studio early for weavers who want to come and get in some loom time before the classes start, or stay late into the evening after classes are done.  Also I am known as the Aide De Comp, or the Kitchen Wench...  we prepare various snack foods and lunches in the kitchen, and on the last day I prepare a full meal for all the weavers and their significant others to join in and wind up the conference.

Steveio finds many things to do while I am busy in classes.   He later joins us for socializing, eating out down the road at the restaurant, and just hanging out with many of the workshoppers spouses who are also looking for things to do.  Norm knows lots of cool things to do and see in the area, so Steveio hangs with Norm too.

In 1996 we were here in April in our Coachmen gasser motorhome... and Steveio took a ride on the scooter to get a replacement part for our Onan generator.  Lo and behold, he just HAD to drive past an RV dealer in Rockford, Illinois.  There he wandered among the rigs, and saw "THE MOTORHOME of his DREAMS!"    He came back all bubbly and excited and wanted me to go see it too!  But I didn't want any more payments and for sure didn't want another bigger motorhome.   But he was persistent.  Each week he would check the website and see if it was still there.  Each week it was.   Finally... finally.... (after some life-changing events)  I gave in to go and just "look" at the rig.   Three days later, it was ours!    So THAT is how we got our diesel pusher.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Cancer Benefit for Michael (Fuzz) Andersen from April 24, 2010

My brotherinlaw, Michael (Fuzz) Andersen has been diagnosed with Stage 4 Bone Cancer of the jaw, lymph nodes and part of the tongue.  He underwent intensive surgery to remove the bone, and replace with a bone from his leg, .. he is now going for 6 weeks of radiation and chemo back down to Ann Arbor, MI.  They have to stay at a hotel for the duration and are dealing with the horrible piles of bills and expenses.  They have no insurance.  

So everyone participated in a raffle held  by Linda's place of work, Stephanie her co-worker and Barb her boss, really did up a huge event, food was catered in by Ma's Cafe, Brenda, and plates were $8 each.  They had live entertainment, raffles, 50/50 and a silent auction.  We all chipped in items to be raffled off.....  We brought up a trunkful of sporting goods stuff, and some homemade wool socks.  Then the handwoven rug I donated brought in a wonderful bid of $1000.00  !!    

Fuzz Cancer Benefit 2010 april6
Library ladies selling tickets and collecting for the dinner at the door
Fuzz Cancer Benefit 2010 april9

    Fuzz Cancer Benefit 2010 april7
A contest of guessing how much firewood was in the back of this truck...  and for $2 you could guess.   It was 267 pieces?  (I think that was the total) and someone guessed 266!   They win the wood! 
  Fuzz Cancer Benefit 2010 april24

Me with my Sketti Boy! 
  granmuddah and sketti boy
Quilt Donation
 Fuzz Cancer Benefit 2010 april27
The Thousand Dollar rug!  lol
Fuzz Cancer Benefit 2010 april28
Many tables of raffle items
Fuzz Cancer Benefit 2010 april29 
Silent Auction table
 Fuzz Cancer Benefit 2010 april34

Fuzz Cancer Benefit 2010 april53
Kitchen crew working their food magic
Fuzz Cancer Benefit 2010 april35
great desserts made with love
Fuzz Cancer Benefit 2010 april43
Olympian snow boarder Nick Baumgartner made an appearance
Fuzz Cancer Benefit 2010 april50

Fuzz Cancer Benefit 2010 april32
more raffle picnic items with patio chairs donated too 
Fuzz Cancer Benefit 2010 april54
people bought tickets and placed them in the boxes of items they wished to win
Fuzz Cancer Benefit 2010 april56
our daugther Heather just put in another wad of tickets! 
Fuzz Cancer Benefit 2010 april61

Fuzz Cancer Benefit 2010 april63

Fuzz Cancer Benefit 2010 april64

Fuzz Cancer Benefit 2010 april83M
Me and my sister, Linda... (Schmoo) 
Fuzz Cancer Benefit 2010 april112
Jameson colored a picture for his Uncle Fuzz
Fuzz Cancer Benefit 2010 april139
The anonymous donor of 1,000 bucks for the rug was none other than Fuzz's own brother, Jim! 
Fuzz Cancer Benefit 2010 april161
The event was held at the fire hall, so the kids got to go see the firetrucks at the end
(fluorescent lighting is hard on the focus of the camera) 
Fuzz Cancer Benefit 2010 april164

 Fuzz Cancer Benefit 2010 april188

Fuzz Cancer Benefit 2010 april166
Nephews Dar-Bear (Darren) and Matt-toot (Matt) being their own goofy selves....
dar bear and matt toot
Darren won this hat.. .but later gave it to niece Allison because she really really wanted it... how cute! 
dar bear modeling his new hat

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Steveio’s Spare Tire Rack is now Completed!

I had a previous post back in October when Steve started this project….. 

And now it’s DONE!
 spare tire project0 spare tire project1
He just bought the spare tire to go on the rim.  This will free up a lot of room in the basement storage area that we had figured for a spare tire once we go full timing.  Plus the added weight to the front of the rig helps with handling, as Safari’s are notorious for being back heavy. 
Unless we are riding with tanks full of propane, full fuel and full fresh water (all which are located in the front) we do feel a difference in handling.

The weight of this spare tire can help offset the weight on the back for the scooter and rack. The 22.5 tires weigh over 150 pounds and Steveio figured out a good way to lift or lower the tire from the rack...

spare tire project 4
 spare tire project 3
Our purpose of carrying along a spare tire is one subject that is sometimes given a bit of debate on the RV lists.  Many folks just pay an Emergency Roadside Service fee to come and change a tire.  That is well and good.  But consider the difficult process of locating a spare when yours is shredded to ribbons on the highway… well, that is another story~!   
Trying to get a tire on a weekend can be a daunting task, and at this time in our work-a-day world yet, our only time to get away IS the weekends.   Plus the boss ain’t too happy if you call in and use more of your precious vacation days with the excuse of you have a flat tire and they can’t find one to replace it with yet.  
And then… there is the ever-so-predictable increased price gouging that occurs where you will end up paying ANY price just to get a tire of any quality on a Sunday evening.
Many RVer’s do not have the tools, strength or knowledge to change a 22.5 size tire anyhow, so they take their chances and call an Emergency Road Service.  (we have one too and hope to never use it)   Steveio is able to change these tires himself, and he carries an on board air compressor, air tools, and a big breaker bar.  The idea of the winch piece to enable him to lift and lower the tire is quite an added bit of ingenuity of his, which allows him to do this task if need be.
Now our spare tire mounted on the rim and put into place. 
spare tire project2

We will also have to yet relocate the front license plate bracket.  And I have some really heavy silver vinyl naugahyde that is exterior boat cushion grade to make a fitted spare tire cover.  The silver color will go nicely with the stainless steel side doors and trim.

~~added a few days later ~~

Friday, April 23, 2010

Bits of this and that for the day….

Well, no camping this weekend.  Instead, we are heading up to Mom and Lowell’s house tonight to bunk out there this weekend.  We are spending the weekend up north in Iron River, Michigan for a cancer benefit for my bro-in-law Fuzz (Michael Andersen)  this weekend. 

He has stage four bone cancer and just underwent a complicated surgery where they removed his jaw bone, and took a bone from his leg to reconstruct it.  Some nodes and tissues were also removed and he is on the road to recovery from that.  Next comes the chemo and radiation for 6 weeks, which is going to be a long tuff haul.  No insurance, so we are helping with a benefit to raise funds to help them out.   I am bringing a big handwoven rug, some good woolen socks, and I found a whole bunch of good things to add to the silent auction and raffle yesterday after a visit to our local Pamida store.  Steveio is donating the extra gas grill he got for his birthday yesterday (I bought him one, and he went and unknowingly bought one for himself too!)    The kids are coming along, and they are adding more goodies to the pot.   Will post pics afterwards… its a spaghetti dinner being catered by a local restaurant and there will be a band for music… Linda’s friends at the library are helping to pull this all together.


Schmoo and Fuzz -- (Linda and Michael Andersen)

Ottawa Lake 2009 August17


We sure have been hit with a lot of family illness lately. 

My mother-in-law, the sweetest lady in the world, MaryAnn Pfundtner is undergoing chemo and radiation for stage 3 breast cancer.  She is very brave in her battle.   Even with all her troubles, she still managed to get a package in the mail for Steveio’s birthday yesterday!   We are praying for a good result from all the chemo, and hoping that things will get better for her.

birthday 2


Then, our grandson’s other grandpaw, Kevin Wade (our son-in-law Jesse’s dad)  is battling pancreatitis and has been severely ill for 4 weeks in the hospital, hovering in and out of a paralytic coma and on ventilator machines.  It’s been really touch and go, and Kevin is battling hard to beat this.  His wife Lisa has been on a never-ending vigil at his bedside.  It’s been a very rough time for the family.  Our daughter Heather and sweetie Jesse are doing all they can to help.  Jameson has been coloring pictures for his Grandpaw, The Big Dude… as Jameson is his Little Dude. 

 visit to g and g wades (3)


And now, to top it off, my nephew Mikey, son of my brother, Butch,  is having serious trouble with his stomach and undergoing more testing with that.  


We have just been hit from all directions with this… and prayers or kind thoughts are appreciated.  So many people all at once, none really blood  related to each other, but all are in our hearts and our thoughts each day.


A couple of cheezy granmuddah pics here to share of the grandkids:

Allegra Grace (4 months old)



Jameson Michael (21 months old)

snow day with granfaddah1budding artist0

jameson from heathers phone1SDC10209


and Chelsea Mae  (3 months old)

sleepover at granmuddahs0sleepover at grandmuddahs 1in granfaddahs camper1PICT0093_1



So today I will finish up the last few pairs of socks, and I am babysitting little Chelsea today till Erin or Mark comes later to pick her up.  Then when Steveio is done with work, we will head out.  About 120 miles up there from here.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Campground Review – Sunset Lake – Bates township park – Iron River, Michigan

(this is one of series of posts of various campgrounds we have been to over the years... I am going through my files in alphabetical order and posting past camping trips in my blog.... something to do until camping starts again--- sigh)

We used to camp here a lot in the 90's ... Our growing kids enjoyed the playground, swimming beach and campgrounds.  The fishing here is very good too.  Mostly perch.  Even in the winter, my family comes here a lot for ice fishing.  There are about 14 or 15 sites in the campground...  no hookups but there is a water faucet in the park to fill your tank from before parking in a site.   The new shower/bathroom buildings are locked at night to prevent vandalism, so you better go to the bathroom before 10pm or you can't go again till morning!  A host and hostess are on the grounds 24/7  and keep close tabs on all comings and goings of the park.  For many years now it's Elmo and his wife, not sure if they are planning to be back this year or not.

Now that we have a bigger rig, it's pretty hard to fit on any of the sites, even making the turn at the bottom corner of the loop is really tight and we have to back up and forward a few times to make it around without collapsing the back wheels into the deep ditch.

Here we are on the one site we fit at .. but with the rear tires almost (but not quite) off the ground, it is NOT good because the emergency brake on our motorhome is the kind that clamps the driveshaft.  If the rear wheels are off the ground, even slightly, the whole rig can freely roll as the front tires are not utilized by the emergency brake. That means it collapses the hydraulic levelers and those would be ruined in such an event.  Even with blocking and chocking, I feel uneasy about it, so we camped somewhat unlevel here.

That type of unlevel camping presents other problems: the fridge can be damaged from setting too long uneven. The ammonia can pool up in parts of the coils and crystalize and burn through the coils in time.   By the next day, our fridge stopped working, so we knew we were too unlevel.  We added more boards under the back tires to help out a bit more, but it felt precarious and wobbly inside.

And the shower will not drain properly when on such an angle either. At this angle, the kitchen sink will sometimes back up into the shower stall, which is then all greasy icky stuff that needs cleaning from the bottom of the tub, each time you run the kitchen sink.
getting the fire going
  Everyone gathered at our site and we had the community fire.  Once everyone toddles off to beddy bye in the wee hours of the morning, and things are quiet again.  We are usually about the only ones camping here besides the host.  Sometimes there are folks nearby but we ask them to join us, and they are usually someone who knows someone in our group.  So drag over your lawn chair and join us!  

It the morning, Steve and I are usually the first ones up.  We pick up the empty beer cans, (Michigan has 10 cent deposit, so they all get bagged up for the return to the store)   We get the fire going again, simmer up a big pot of coffee, bake some muffins or sticky buns and wait for the others to drag their butts outta bed.

In this pic, it was a hot and humid weekend...  resting the the shade was about the only amount of effort expended on the weekend activities.  LOL     Friends stop by from in town to visit us when we come up camping.  This weekend my folks came with their motorhome, and sister and broinlaw, Schmoo and Fuzz camped in their travel trailer too.  Then we called Bob Senior to join us with his new trailer.  It always becomes a family visit throughout the day.  Folks from town like to come out for a ride through the park and *see who is camping this weekend*  ... no kidding!
relaxed camping

Here is a pic of Bob Senior... I wrote about him in a past blog.  That is his older rig, the Class C in the background in that pic.  He has since got a new travel trailer for camping .  He and his buddy Shadow live like kings now in the new rig.   Senior's son, Bob Jr. (of course) comes out every time we camp, and brings his daughter, Autumn, my little camping buddy.  
 senior and shadowtuckered out

This is my brother, Umpee, (really Eugene, but everyone up north has nick-names)   He brought his new cat out to meet us one time.  Of course his cat can come and sit around the campfire, why not?   The guys like to come out to go fishing and someone always has a boat launched in the water for them to head out to drown a few worms.   I think the cat was waiting for a treat from the fresh caught yummies.

umpee and blue kittystevio camping 1

(some of these pics are taken by my sister, Linda, from another time camping here) 

This is my nephew Mikey... he brought out his dog, another *Shadow* to do some swimming. 
Mikey and Shadow

 My brother Butch (Steve) and all his grown boys.... from left to right: Darren, Mikey, Butch and Matt
butch and his boys

The whole crew gathered to deep fry a turkey...  sometimes they don't get things started on time for the meal to be finished by supper.... so it took a bit longer and was well after dark before it was time to eat.  LOL
gathering for the feastcarving the bird

What a feast!  We never go for lack of food when we go camping... with all the extra folks who stop by, we need to prepare a lot.  If there are leftovers, great!  If not, oh well, hope everyone got a full meal. This time the guys cooked a ham and deep fried a turkey.  The gals do all the salads and taters and other *go-withs*!

deep fried turkeywhats left of the ham

Gotta have the sweet corn!      Senior & Lowell, (my stepdad but we don't use the word *step* in our family)
corn for the hornold fogies Senior and Lowell

And THIS is why it is called Sunset Lake! 


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Campground Review – Veterans Memorial Park - Part 2


This is the second part of the Veterans Memorial Park review… yesterday’s blog at:

http://kareninthewoods-kareninthewoods.blogspot.com/2010/04/campground-review-veterans-memorial.html    has more information on the park itself. 




Ahhhhh it’s now Sunday morning in the campground.  The winds died down and it’s gonna be a gorgeous day!    It got down to 29 degrees last night BRRRRR    but the sun is shining, the muffins are baked, the coffee is done and it’s gonna be a NICE day!

Couch hogs gotta huddle close to their Master!



this is my Easy Bake oven.. more on that later


Steveio is going back to haul some more firewood this morning and I think I might go along to help stack into the truck.  I appreciate those winter fires in the fireplace at home as much as he enjoys building them.  So I guess I can do my part.   LOL


Yesterday was very nice, though windy.  We took a long walk down along the waterfalls… which are just beyond the picnic and playground areas of the park.



No doggies allowed in the picnic area, so we skirt around wide by the edge of the woods and walk to the falls… nobody here to enforce the rule, but we obey it anyhow.  And we  ALWAYS carry doggie doo-doo sacks in case they decide to leave a deposit.  Haha!



The walk down the bank to the falls is steep, so the park system put in timbers to make steps, and half way down it turned to very old stone steps, with marks of being chiseled and made to fit.  Very cool!  Wonder how old they are?





The falls were just as lovely as last year when we were here.   You can walk around the other side and stand on the bridge too.  But after the bridge, the trail doesn’t lead anywhere.   I think it was built just to be able to walk across the falls and look down at it?


We each posed for a picture… along with the required blog pic of the dogs… LOL




THEN… we almost lost Dukie’s little Palookie!   haha

dukie took a palooki_1

It was the same thing as last year at the same spot!   He slipped backwards down the stony slope into the river and Steveio had to pull him out!  He hit the shore and was not too happy about his wet little Palookie Butt. 


We wandered along the river bank down river from the falls, and cut up through the woods till we got back into the campground again. 


This is a quiet lazy sandy part of the river… you could see fish swimming around under the clear glass surface.  Amazing that just a few hundred yards upriver was frothing foamy waterfalls and rapids and rocks.    It was a perfect blue sky day… and this part of the river Dukie gave a wide berth…..  figures where there is no current, now he is careful!



These little blue flowers were so detailed looking and perfect, at first I almost thought they were plastic!  First blooms of the season for us northerners. 



We were walking along and Steveio asked about the direction on my compass on the top of my walking stick, what did it say?   I had bought this stick at a Flying J in Mississippi or Alabama last year. It was on sale really cheap, like 75% off .. I think I paid $10 for it.   Well, I looked down at it and told him it’s broke, it don’t turn.  Haha the joke was on us old fogies who didn’t wear the bifocals today.  It’s really a thermometer, NOT a compass!   And it’s in Celcius!     I never knew that when I bought it.  No wonder it was on sale!!!


Our Canadian RVing friend, Seann, is always giving us a hard time about only giving temps in “F” instead of “C”…. so now this will forever be known as My Cannuckie Walking Stick!     (is it spelled Cannuckie or Canuckie?)


After our walk, Steve got out one of my favorite camping tools… 

PICT0029_1 We don’t have an LP oven in our rig, just the convection/micro combination.  There ain’t no way I am gonna run the danged generator for 3 hours to roast a turkey breast in the convection oven!   So this is such a nice compromise.  It runs off LP, either the little 1 pound cylinders or attach a hose from a BBQ grill tank or a line off a camper.  If I use it in the camper, I crack a window, and set it on a cookie sheet on the table just to be sure.  But the sides are double insulated layers so it’s pretty cool to the touch.  My only complaint is the knob on the side it too easily bumped into ON position, and gas will fill the oven if you are not there lighting it.   A kid or an accidental shuffling of things around can turn it on.  It’s not a strong definite click on or off.    So each time we use it, we are sure to remove the tank or hose right away when done, so nobody accidently lets the gas escape.  It’s nice to take it outside and cook on the picnic table too, keep excess heat out of the rig when baking during the summer months.


We roasted a rolled turkey breast in the little Easy Bake Oven (nickname my family gave it)



Supper was a delight.. why does food always taste better when you are camping?


It was still too windy for a campfire, and the tv stations were warning of the fire dangers all around, so we did not chance it either.  Usually we like to sit out around the fire for the evening hours.   Instead I took out my spinning wheel and spend some more time playing with my fibers.


We took one more walk around the campground before the sun set.  We got neighbors!  A pickup truck camper was parked in site number one with a nice couple and two tiny yorkshire terrier dogs.  We said hi and exchanged a few pleasantries.   Then we wandered back to our camper and settled in for the night.  Steveio watched a rented Pink Panther movie on DVD (the old Peter Sellers as Inspector Cluseau)  and I sat in chat for a while. 

Oh, I reran the channel setup with the new antenna head on there, and it pulled in two more stations than the batwing did, so I guess that makes it a *keeper*  for us.  Seems in the evenings after dark we get more stations than during the day.  Wonder why?

We only took our batteries down to 85% level last night before bedtime.  This morning they are charging back up and almost topped off by 9:30 am.   That solar array is working nicely for us.


Well, time to hop in the shower here and get started on my day… sure wish we didn’t have to pack up and go home later.  But the workaday world beckons.  3 years and 4 days till retirement  (Steve’s birthday is on Thursday----)    he can retire when he reaches age 55.