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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

CAMPING - Ottawa Lake in the Ottawa National Forest in the U.P. of Michigan

I finally wrestled the laptop away from my 2 year old grandson. I see he posted a blog this morning about our weekend!  Gosh, before you know it, he will be hacking my bank account and buying his own laptop if I am not careful.  LOL

You can read more about our camping weekend with more pics, of course, on Jameson's blog he posted before this one.  Just click on this link: Jameson's Excellent Adventure

I thought I would do a post about some of the adult details about our hectic holiday weekend.

Thursday I picked up the little guy from Green Bay early, about noon, and came back to the house to wait for Steveio, who is usually done with work and home by 3 pm.  But not todayyyyyy  He was doing Union business and could not get away until almost 4:30.  Keeping the little grandson settled down during the big loooong wait was difficult.  He kept looking for his Granfaddah to drive up and make that motorhome GO SOMEWHERE! We pulled out and he was fast asleep in no time, dreaming of camping, no doubt!

We fueled up at $3.93 a gallon for diesel which was nice to see the price dropping.  Then we headed up north, bound for a family weekend at Ottawa Lake near Iron River, Michigan.  My sister and brother were both camping there, along with family friend, Bob Senior, who was saving us a campsite.

The holiday traffic wasn't too bad, and we were well on our way, almost to Mountain, when suddenly the rig was running rough and the check engine light came on!  ARGGGHHHHHH  The dash error codes were the same as back in Winslow, AZ in April.   
(read about that incident here: 
The saga goes on for four days there to get an electronic injector replaced.)

I saw the sign for Bagley Rapids national forest campground up ahead, so suggested we pull in there and figure it out --- at least we would have a campsite for the night.  We camped here last May and it was very nice.   Camping at Bagley Rapids

If we had to turn around and go home, we could do that in the morning, or we could even opt to stay the weekend in a campsite and go home on Monday.  That is... IF ... we could solve the problem and get it running smoothly again.  Limping home 70 miles with a missing cylinder is NOT good for an engine.

Jameson woke up as we were backing in the rig into a campsite, and was gleeful that we were at a campground.  We got out and walked to the pay station where he could put the envelope in the Iron Ranger pay post--- he called it the Mail Slot.  How cute.  It was a lovely night and we tried to ignore the looming possibility of a major repair on the engine.

Friday morning Steveio held his breath, turned the key, and fired up the rig ------ and it ran clean and smooth, and no check engine light!!!   Now the questions and decisions start to pop up:

Do we DARE run it all the way to Michigan, about another 60 miles, and chance it?
Do we stay put and camp here with only us and Jameson?
Do we just drive it home and park it?
Do we wait till 11 am to call the repair place in Arizona to see if there was a warranty on the 1st injector?
Do we run to the Cat dealer in Green Bay in the Tracker (70 miles backtrack) and pick up another injector?
Do we just replace the injector (at $300) ourselves and what if that is NOT the problem?

At 9am, we called the Cat dealer in Green Bay and spoke to a mechanic.  He said if the injector had just been replaced 2,000 miles ago, chances are that is NOT the problem.  He is thinking just the connector TO the injector could be at fault, as they are known to go bad!   And they sell replacement connector kits for a mere $22 each and had them in stock!

So Steveio hopped in the Tracker and zoomed down to Green Bay. In the meantime, Jameson and I took a nice walk, and visited with some fellow campers, and enjoyed the woods and the birds.

Steve bought TWO connectors, because the error code of 7-3 we were advised could mean it was either injector 3 or 4 throwing the codes as they work in pairs on the diagnostic process.  He also bought an injector to hedge our bets, and as long as it remains sealed in the box, it can be returned again.  There was also a core charge of $260 added to that $300 price tag.  So, $600 poorer, he drove back 70 miles to the campground.  The rig started up fine and ran great... so maybe we didn't need the injector after all?

A neighboring camper wanted our site for his friends, so he was quite happy to see us leave at 1pm where he could immediately erect a tent to save the site in completely filled campground.

We pulled out and got about another 20 miles down the road when the dash light came on and the erratically running engine happened again!   This time we were near a large flat parking lot for the Citgo station in Lakewood.  We pulled in the far side of the lot, next to the ATV trail to entertain Jameson with the passing fourwheelers.   We made up a quick lunch and then Steve proceeded to tear down our engine!   Right there in the parking lot.   Jameson was transfixed with the process and enamored with the array of tools that  Granfaddah had me fetch from his tool drawers!

"Granfaddah, can I help you wit dat?"

Luckily, our king size bed raises up to give full access to the engine.  You can crawl right in and stand on it to work on things.

He had to remove the air intake tubes to the air cleaner,
the aftercooler for the turbo tubes,
the valve cover,
the rocker arms and
some cross pipes to get to the injectors... whew!  

Then he replaced the two connectors, and reassembled it all correctly and without any dirt getting into the vital openings.  I am sooo thankful I have such a handy husband!!!!!!!   I was just the Gopher of Tools and Babysitter of the Wee One to keep him outta the way.   He was easily distracted by the many ATV's flying by on the trail next to the gas station.  He stayed glued to the window to announce the colors of each one and to count them as they roared past.

Once it was all done and put back together, I was the lucky one to get to turn the key..... gasp.... yes!!!!!  It was purring smoothly, no rough idle, no check engine light... we were GOOD TO GO!    Jameson cheered as much as we did!

(Ironically, there had been a buzzing noise in the turbo every time it kicked in ever since the repair in Winslow in April. We dreaded an expensive replacement in the future to the tune of about $5,000 ...   and now, since Steveio reassembled the engine himself, the buzzing noise is GONE!) 

As we tootley-bopped down the road again, the engine purring like a Cat...  we wondered if perhaps the initial repair in Winslow was not the injector at all... but perhaps just the connector?   $800.00 lesson there.

We got to the campground at Ottawa Lake by 6 pm and backed into our waiting campsite!!! Camping Buddy Bob Senior saved it for us.   It's a long site we can fit on easily.   Wheeeeeee  

If you read my last two blogs, you would know about this:
My brother was already there trying out his new toyhauler trailer, for it's maiden voyage and christening!
My sister Schmoo and her husband Fuzz, came with their trailer sporting it's new power jack we got them for their anniversary present!

Steveio cracked open a beer and RELAXED... a well-deserved one, that is for sure.  He got in some fishing with the guys.  They go out at night and fish for walleye.  He got this 20 incher that was a "keeper".  It is now filleted and in our freezer.  We let Jameson see the fish, but didn't subject him to the actual gutting and disemboweling.  Might have been a bit shocking to a kid only 2 years old. Time enough for that when he gets older.

It was a typical camping weekend
Schmoo and Fuzz were relaxing too.  

In between rain showers and thunder rumbles, the sun came out and we enjoyed spring in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  We have stayed at this campground a zillion times since we moved to the U.P. in 1970, and I have many other posts from camping here:

Because we come here often to camp, we know which sites we like, where to park best, and what the facilities have to offer.  Here is an adapted campground map. We love number 17. 

Bob Senior likes his site number 15 because he can leave his boat in the lake which he can see from his camper window.  That way he doesn't have to haul it in each morning and out each night.  Here are Steve and Bob Senior having a confab about the worries of the world, with Shadow looking for treats.

Longtime friend, Cella, came out to visit a few times, and my brother Butch's son Matt came to camp too.  Butch's girlfriends son, Vince and his wife Susan came and brought their little son, Braydon for a few days too!  People come and go, dropping in to visit, or like my younger brother, Umpee, who smells supper cooking and always arrives from town, just in time to eat!

Speaking of eating.. what kind of blog post would this be without pictures of our food cooking???  

This is a cool new rack that my sister Schmoo got for us to make skewer-less shish-ka-bobs!!!!  We did TWO batches like this of the marinated chicken chunks, pork tenderloin and veggies which included mushrooms, valdalia onions, zuchinnis slices, green peppers and cherry tomatoes.  We did up a separate rack of shrimp to add to it, as they take less time to cook.  Added a pasta salad, some cucumber salad, some go-withs and we were set for a feast!     (Jameson had hot dogs) 

The days flew by too soon!   We had storms here and there, some cold nights, and windy rainy icky weather.  But at other times the sun would poke through and it would be nice again!   We took walks and enjoyed the woods and totally entertained the little guy through and through. I videoed his entire weekend for him to have a memory DVD made of his antics.

On Sunday, my sister precooked a big batch of country ribs, and my brother Butch manned the tripod grill and did up some BBQ Pork Ribs... with Sweet Baby Rays sauce.  Yummmmm    I whipped up some tater salad and got out a watermelon.  Schmoo made a tossed salad and we had some leftovers to add in, and we had another feast!

Steve and Fuzz both have to watch their cholesterol, so this was a real treat! 

All too soon, the fun and games were over, and we had to pack up the rig to go home.  Huge thunderstorms and lightening cracks were coming across from the West, the guys pulled in the boats and we loaded up our campers and tossed the last few brats on the grill for a lunch before we hooked up to go.   Luckily, we packed up before the big drops started to splatter down, and even got the tanks dumped at the dump station before leaving the campground.

Jameson helped co-pilot his Granfaddah for the first hour or so, but then he had to nod off.....

He was eager to see his Mommy and Daddy... but we were reluctant to let him go.  It had been so much fun having him along.  Yes, he wears us out, but it's a good feeling.   On the way home, using the laptop, I made him up a keepsake DVD of his videos of the weekend, and another disk of a slideshow of all his photos.   Now he can replay them and remember Jameson's Excellent Adventure! 


And side note:   as of today, we had high winds and heavy humidity and storms course through.  Sadly, we lost a maple tree in our front yard!

Jameson's Excellent Adventure - Camping with Granfaddah and Granmuddah Pfun


My name is Jameson. 

I am 2 and 3/4 years old. 

I am smarter than Granmuddah thinks, 
and I swiped her computer to make this blog post.  

Shhhh don't tell her. 

These are my Best Friends: "Monkey" and "Puppy" 
We are all set for Jameson's Excellent Adventure!

Granmuddah picked me up in the car. 
We drove to their house and got in the motorhome.
Granmuddah and Granfaddah Pfun took me CAMPING! 

All I know is that Granfaddah BROKE the motorhome.  
"Granfaddah, can I help you fix it?"

Granfaddah parked the motorhome wayyy up in the woods

I got to be on Skeeter Swatter Patrol. 
I am a good Skeeter Swatter Boy.

I got to play in a REAL tent! 
But I slept inside the motorhome with Granfaddah and Granmuddah

And I got soooooooo dirty I even got to take a bath in the motorhome! 

Both of my grandparents are very good at reading me stories

Every morning I got to jump on their big bed in the motorhome
I am a very fast jumper! 

Granfaddah bought us little boxes of cereal. 
Each morning I could pick out a different kind.

My Auntie Schmoo brought out a fun game with things to throw

After she taught me how, I taught a little boy named Braydon.
I kept all the blue ones.  He got the red. 

 I took lots of walks, and got to spend all of my time outside when it wasn't raining. 

My granfaddah went out to the lake in a big boat, 
but it was too windy for me they said.
He caught a BIG fish. 

My Uncle Matt threw some big rocks in the lake with a HUGE splash! 

My friend Braydon threw little rocks

We saw a Daddy, a Mommy, and five little babies---

AWWWW it's a Little Snake!   (Granmuddah said it's a "worm"???)

I had my own special dining area.  
Granmuddah said this camping chair  used to be 
MY mommy's chair when she was little! 

I ate watermelon! 

and Do-Do's (donuts) 

It was time to jump on the bed---- again

I spent a lot of time watching the "fireworks" 


After five days, I had to gather my Best Friends and go home.

I helped Granfaddah find the way home. 
He likes it when I help him. 

Granmuddah said I came home very dirty, 
with a collection of mosquito bites, 
and full of junk food.

I sure had FUN! 


Thursday, May 26, 2011

My brother got a new RV--- a toyhauler trailer

My older brother, Butch (aka Steve, Beerman Butch, or Butch-a-go)  really suffered withdrawal by selling off his fifth wheel RV halfway through the year last summer.  He spent the rest of the camping season feeling down right miserable each time someone went camping and he couldn't!

His plan was to buy a toyhauler --- he has fourwheelers, motorcycles, and now grandkids getting older and wanting to come along camping.  So he was in the market...

He finally found the RIGHT one and a new truck too. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

We went and checked it out after the cleanup of the party on Sunday while we were up north.  Here are some pics... What a NEAT RIG!

It's only a couple years old and in great shape... 
The back flips down and there is a screen to keep out bugs.  

There is a full bed up in the front portion, and another full bed that raises and lowers in the back

The kitchen area has speckled laminate for the cabinets in a granite type finish, very durable looking!  He has started loading in his gear and getting it ready for camping.

Even the fridge doors are covered in the laminate.  That sure is nicer than the black plastic door panels we had on our Coachmen or Sierra fridge doors.     The bathroom is split with a vanity near the bedroom, and the shower and stool in a closed in room between the bedroom and kitchen.

 Boy, there sure is a lot of room inside, even with the bed down!  Both couches fold up against the walls, and the table folds flat too.  He can get a lot of toys in here, for sure!  Or ---  grandkids and porta cribs and tricycles and basketballs and kiddie swimming pools and strollers and rock collections ...
Well, you get the idea!  Even up high over the cabinets are meshed in shelves for more toys (or helmets)

 Plenty of headroom when the bed is lowered.  I think the extra mattress is for when the two couches are folded out, it goes across them for a more comfortable bed. 

He already mounted his Olympian Wave catalytic heater-- we were down to 36 last night in MAY..ack! 

There is an on board generator and a large gas fuel tank.  Besides the generator running off this fuel, the tank is also accessed by a hose and pump to add fuel to your toys!  How cool is that?  "Fill 'er up!"

Okay Butch-A-Go.... load er up and LET'S GO CAMPING!!!!