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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….. 

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 delivered to you roadside on a weekend can be a daunting task. Especially on the side of an interstate.  The sooner you get it changed and moved off the road, the better.  At this time in our lives, with Steve still in the work-a-day world yet, our only time to get away IS the weekends. So that greatly increases the probability of having a tire emergency on a weekend.  Tires for our rig run in the $500-600 range. We hear tales of gouging where people are being upcharged another $200-300 just to get the tire, not even counting the hefty roadside fee they charge to the policy or roadside assistance company. 

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 semi truck sized tire anyhow, so they take their chances and call an Emergency Road Service.  Steveio is able to change these tires himself, and he carries an on board air compressor, air tools, a Nut Buddy device, and a big breaker bar.  

We do have Emergency Roadside Assistance on our insurance. We also decided we are going to carry a spare tire on a rack on the front of the motorhome.  This will free up a lot of room in the basement storage area.  With an added bit of ingenuity, Steveio figured out a good way to lift or lower the tire from the rack... you have to read down to the end to see! 

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. The 22.5 tires weigh over 150 pounds.

He measured carefully and made up this rack bracket himself.

 It bolts right to the frame inside of the fiberglass cap.


Then he cut the hole through the fiberglass.. drilling pilot holes first and using a sawsall to cut the lines.  I held my breath the entire time!  

Now he slid in the support bar for the tire. It is securely bolted into the receiver portion, just like a hitch. He put the rim on to see how it would look.

(he said these are locking nuts that won’t rattle loose from vibrations)

In this next pic, Steve got the tire mounted on the rim
and lifted up into place. 

Wanna see his cool invention
to lift or lower the tire
from the rack? 


The winch doesn't stay there all the time,
it stows away and he will only take it out if we 
need to get the tire off the rack. 

Now our spare tire is mounted on the rim
and securely put into place. 

I bought some really heavy silver vinyl naugahyde that is exterior boat cushion grade to make a fitted spare tire cover.  The silver color goes nicely with the stainless steel side doors and trim.

~~ I added the cover a few days later ~~

We will also have to relocate the front license plate bracket.  In Wisconsin, we do have to display a front license plate. We will put the license plate bracket to one side. 

And now it’s DONE!

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!