Archive for July, 2012

Look to the Skies

Monday, July 30th, 2012

We returned to Oshkosh on Friday evening and arrived just in time to see the sky lit up with black smoke, helicopters in the sky as well as several military planes and jets!  Paul was at the airfield watching a reenactment of Tora, Tora, Tora,!  It was very loud.  When Paul gets home he informs me that they will be performing the same show on Saturday so I didn’t miss anything!  Great!  I am not a fan of bombs but his excitement in infectious so I spent Saturday afternoon watching lots of planes bombing the runway right in front of me!

Saturday evening was the best of the show for me.  They had an evening airshow complete with fireworks shooting off the wings of planes.  It was just to beautiful to watch so no time for photos!  There were planes flying in formation with extra lights that looked like an UFO and planes with Roman Candles shooting out of the smoke stream and then they shot fireworks off the wings!  Spectacular and something I had never seen before.

If that was not enough, they had a full fireworks show following the aerobatic show.  The show ended with a wall of fire that ran down the runway!  Very cool!

Chicago, Chicago, Chicago

Friday, July 27th, 2012

First stop is for some Chicago deep dish pizza.  Giordanos served up a traditional deep dish pizza with lots of cheese, sauce and Chicago sausage.  At Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Co.  we had the most amazing antipasto plate complete with meatballs, and sausage balls.  If that wasn’t enough we also had one of their Pizza Pot Pies!  This is a pizza made upside down and then they flip it at your table!  The sausage here is the best.

Between eating amazing pizza we toured the city.  We traveled to the John Hopkins Tower for cocktails in their Signature Lounge above the city at 96 floors up you have a 360 view of the Chicago skyline.  The cocktails were good but then their was the visit to the ladies room!

Floor to ceiling view of Chicago!

If I would have known how good this view was we would have hit the ladies room first!  Chicago has so many wonderful buildings and sites that we took the double decker tour bus ride and really got a great view of Chicago.

Tallest Bldg in Chicago, Sears Tower. I thought the top of Rainforest Cafe was an interesting focal point for my photo!

Chicago River

City scape as view through Cloud Gate, the silver peanut sculpture in the center of Millennium Park

Chicago at Sunset

Oak Park and Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture has been on my must see list for many years now so this trip was perfect for the short drive out to Oak Park.  We spent a couple of hours just wandering through this quaint village and enjoyed seeing some of Frank Lloyd Wright’s work in the area.  His family home is here as well as many homes he designed or remodeled in the early 1900’s.  Many homes here were designed by other architects although you can see the Wright influence in many.

My favorite! Arthur Heurtley House,
Just down the street from the Wright family home,

Amazing, this home was built in 1902!  The style is definitely timeless.

Moore House

Thomas DeCaro House

Many different styles with features that are truely Frank Lloyd Wright.  This is a beautiful neighborhood and only 20 minutes from downtown Chicago.  Suburban lifestyle only a train ride away from all the excitement.





Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Paul has been talking about Oshkosh 2012 for about 2 years and we are finally here!  The EAA AirVenture 2012 officially started today and it is at least as big as they say.  According to the town of Oshkosh over 900,000 individuals attend during the course of the week.  AirVenture runs from July 23-29 although if you want to get a good spot to camp you need to arrive much earlier.  We arrived last Tuesday and got one of the last electric camping spots!   We are camped on the EAA property and it is still a 1.5 mile walk to the runway where all the action is!

Not only is their a huge camping area then you have the pilots that fly in and camp under their wing!

Buy a plane and then camp in a tent!!!

The sky is littered with planes; more than 10,000 planes fly into Oshkosh for this week.    Arriving on Tuesday,  we spent several hours sitting on the runway watching planes land and listening to the tower directing traffic!  The planes land one after another and exit the runway into the grass so the next plane has room to land.  Then there are the mass arrivals.  This is where large groups of the same type of plane land at the same time.  There are two runways  running along side one another and a taxi way that they use for the third runway for these mass arrivals.

Single landing, but wait! Here comes another

Two landing on the same runway



Yep, the third one is the first one and he is on the taxi way.   Sitting here watching and listening to the tower I am stressed!  I can’t imagine those guys in the tower or the pilots!  The guys in the tower sound so cool, they welcome almost every pilot in between telling 3 others where and when to land!

All week I kept hearing that the RV’s were going to have their mass arrival.  I had lots of ideas about this!  I am thinking a big club of RV owners are going to arrive parade style to the campground or better yet, get to taxi the runway.  I was finally set straight when I asked where do the RV’s arrive?  RV’s are not RV’s, they are a style of plane!  What?  Why would they choose that name and confuse me?

Richard (Van) VanGrunsven’s is a guy that like the Wright Brothers built his own plane and then offered his kits to other pilots and today it is a huge group of pilots that fly RV’s!  They had a mass arrival that was very cool as they come into the fly space in formation, do a couple of fly overs and then land in mass!

RV’s Flying!

Breaking off to line up for the landings

Taxi off the runway

And then they taxi together

Today was the opening of the show so we spent several hours (well actually I spent about 1 hour before sweat took over!) wandering the booths looking at everything aviation you can imagine. At 3:30 each day of this week long show there will be an airshow!  It seems that all we have seen so far was just the pre-show and arrivals!  The airshow was spectacular although it was about 98 degrees and of course you are not in the shade watching!

Opening ceremonies

We saw some spectacular aerobatic performances and more formation flying from the performance team of RV planes.  The air show was about 2 hours and they have one each day with all different performers!  Because today was opening day they had a concert with the Steve Miller Band!

Just like the old days! I was sitting so far back that I could only see with binoculars or watch the big screen!

The music was good and the sunset was an amazing backdrop.  It reminded me of concerts of my youth except most of the attendees had grey hair, were sitting in lawn chairs and sipping a cold one! (water or pepsi!)

Pat and I have opted to skip a part of all this excitement and head for Chicago for a few days!  The guys are worried that we are going to miss something, not me!  I am looking forward to lots of air conditioned relaxing and some great Pizza!





Where is Ontonagon?

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

This was going to be just a short stopover and then we were on our way to Minnesota and the Mall of America and then we got here and just couldn’t leave.  There isn’t much to do but the lake is so inviting, the weather is great and the bugs are behaving themselves!  So our two nights became 6 and we found lots of fun stuff to do.  Ontonagon is not for shopping, dining or site seeing but if you love the lakes and just wanting to relax for a few days it is a must see.

Paul and I visited Porcupine State Park and took a short hike to see a couple of great waterfalls and another look at the Lake.  Paul even waded into the water so now he can say he walked in a Great Lake!

Manido Falls

Manabezho Falls

Duke loves the Great Lakes

Looking west on the shores of Lake Superior

It is so relaxing here that I spent 3 afternoons just sitting on the beach and reading.  Ontonagon is so far north and west of the eastern time zone that it isn’t even dark until 10:30 at night which is perfect because we have no TV here!  This is a beautiful place in the summer but I am sure things are much different come November thru April unless you snowmobile or ice fish.

Miners for a Day

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Looking for some adventure in this quiet little oasis Paul finds a Copper Mine that offers tours – great another tour! So of course we all have to go with him. We are like little children, sure that we might miss something if we don’t go. Well in this case we would have!

Quincy Mine is located in Hancock which is about 40 miles from our RV site in Ontonagon and on our way there we realize we need to eat! Again!!! I get out my Iphone and Yelp “Pasties” because we haven’t tried them yet and we are running out of time. I find a place that sounds exactly perfect to get these local delicacies! Amy J’s Pasty & Bake Shop is located about 1 mile from the mine and isn’t any bigger than a garage which is what it looks like. It is located in front of Amy’s home in a residential area and has the most wonderful aroma as you enter. Amy’s husband greets us and we ask about their Pasty, this time pronouncing it properly! He tells us they are wonderful and made with ground beef, pork, potato, carrot and rutabaga. Rutabaga! Who eats that is what I am wondering! We tell him that the 4 of us want 1 to try because we are not sure we like them. He doesn’t even flinch, he gets us one and 4 forks. That is another problem, Amy’s is mostly locals coming in for baked goods and taking them home. We want to eat it there because home is too far away. There is a small cafe table with two stool type chairs in the corner and Paul finds a desk chair from Amy’s desk and a folding chair up against the wall and now the table for 2 fits 4 for a taste of the Pasties!

Amy J and Hubby

Amy’s Pasties are really good! We ordered another! I could taste the rutabaga but it was sort of sweet. The meat is not really ground it is more like sliced and the Pasty taste to me like a pot roast stew in a pastry without the juice.

Back to the mines! We arrive at the mine and take a quick walking tour of the shaft house where we got to see the rails and cars that travel into the mine on the actual shaft tracks. The most interesting thing is the car for the men to travel on. It looks like stairs and holds 30 men, two to a seat and they travel at 15 miles per hour twice a day into the mine and then out at night after a 12 hour shift under the earth! That sounds like a roller coaster instead of transportation- and there were no seat belts!

The car on the right is what the men take into the mine!

The Shaft House

Next stop is the steam hoist room where we got to choose bright yellow hard hats before we could enter! This place was huge and was built as a showplace for this really large steam hoist. They had expensive tile on the walls, cement building including the roof and lots of windows. It certainly did not look like an industrial building .

Steam Engine Building

Next stop is the mine but first we have to choose a miners jacket to wear because it is 46 degrees at level 7 of the mine which is where we are going.

Kip in his Miner’s wear!

This is the cool part or at least the part why Paul chose this mine! We get to ride a cog railroad down the mountain to the entry of the level 7 of the mine! The miners didn’t use this entrance, in fact it was not an entrance when the mine was operating!

Cog Tracks – See the middle track? That is for the cog!

2012 Miners riding the cog train to work!

They were not kidding about it being cold. We get off the rail car and before you enter the mine you can feel the wind coming from the entrance – it is artic cold! We were driven by a tractor in a car into the mine about 1/2 mile! This is pretty cool. I don’t imagine it was cool when it was being mined! 12 hour shifts 6 days a week, in the dark, drilling holes and then blasting, hoping to find the copper so they could get paid!

Level 7, Quincy Mine
A drill in the background

Paul, the only guy our guide has ever seen not need the jacket!
I wore his and mine!!!!

Now back to the Lake and another good book!

More Great Lakes

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

We left Mackinaw Monday and headed north into the U.P. (Upper Peninsula) of Michigan to enjoy a bit of tranquility for a few days before heading to Oshkosh for the “Big Airshow”!  Tuesday we moved deeper into the U.P. and found a great little park right on the shores of Lake Superior! We wish we could stay here awhile!

The UP is beautiful with lots of greenery and great views of the lakes.  We spent our first night in a park right on Lake Michigan with 3 other RV’s for $27.50 a night!  Tonight we are staying for $20 a night!!! Big change from the over $35 a night we have been experiencing where we are sandwiched between a giant RV and a Tent!  The lake was spectacular and just as inviting as Lake Huron.  We enjoyed watching a couple of very large white swans enjoy the great hunting off our beach.  Kip and I also got a quick glimpse of an eagle.

The UP is very relaxed and different from the other Michigan!  The locals refer to themselves as YOOPERS!  (U.P. ers) and Pasty (pass tee)  is the local favorite cuisine.  We were calling them Pasties until a local said those are different!!!!  Haven’t tried one yet but will try.

Ontonagan Michigan is a very tiny town right on the shores of Lake Superior and we will call it home for just a couple of days.  The weather is outstanding, bugs are few and the views are perfect!

Life is good!

Sunset 9:45 pm!

My favorite! This is 9:50 pm

Official Sunset time 9:53 p.m., July 10, 2012

5 Great Lakes, swam in 3, rode a boat in one and touched my toes in 1!  We are checking things off our bucket list pretty quickly this year  but that is ok because the list keeps growing by the day!  For every one I get checked I have added 3 more!




All you need is a little soap and a Rubber Duck!

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

With all this water there is sure to be a Lock somewhere and of course Paul wants to see it.  He talked all of us into going on a tour of the Soo Locks in Sault Ste Marie Michigan.  Not my idea of a good time but it was a beautiful day so getting another boat ride was ok.  We arrived for the 1:40 boat ride and spent the next 2 hours going about 1/2 mile on the St. Mary River between Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan and Sault Ste Marie Ontario Canada!!!

A ship leaving the lock


Our boat entering the lock

Starting to take on water

Almost to lake level

Opening the gates

Entering St. Mary River on the Lake Superior side 13′ above where we left the St. Mary River on the Lake Huron side!

On the Lake Superior side we got to view a Steel Plant in Canada that is on the shores of the river because they bring raw materials here to make the steel that is shipped down river into Lake Huron and down to Detroit to build our cars!   And then it is back into the locks to be lowered 21′ feet back to Lake Huron level!

Entering the Canadian locks

St. Mary river beyond the gate is Lake Huron level

Removing the water

At lake level

St. Mary River upstream from Lake Huron

It is just like being in a bathtub and filling it with water.  Exciting? No, Entertaining? Yes!  Check another item off the Bucket List!  I hope!!!!

Right over my head

Friday, July 6th, 2012

We found a huge family campground at the tip of Michigan, right on Lake Huron to spend the Independence Day Holiday and we can see the Mackinac Bridge to the Upper Peninsula.  It is beautiful here and the bugs are not too bad!  I spent several afternoons sitting on the banks of the lake reading a book!

Our view of Mackinac Bridge

Today Kip joined me for an hour or so and brought his binoculars.  We have a great view of Mackinac Island and enjoy watching the boats come and go and the occasional para-sail.  We are sitting there, Kip looking through his binoculars and I reading a fascinating book when he says “quick look a humpback at 11 o’clock”  Of course I drop my book and look towards 11 o’clock and he says “no look through here” and hands me the binoculars!  I look and look, thinking why would he give up the glasses so quickly when there is a whale to be watching!!! And then he says “this is fresh water there are no whales!!”  Thanks!  When you are sitting here looking at this water it feels like the ocean it is so big and there are waves splashing onto the beach so I guess for a few minutes I thought I was on the beach.  Or, it just went over my head!

We have been busy this week with visiting Mackinac Island or is it Mackinaw Island!  There seems to be a bit of confusion here but the local paper knows it is confusing so they had a nice little article this week about why it is spelled two ways and pronounced one.  It has to do with the Indians and the French!  I found the article even more confusing but figured out everything is Mackinac except for the Mackinaw City which is where we are camping.  – Anyway!

We rode to the island on the ferry and when you disembark you could be back in the 1800’s except for all the people, fudge shops, tour companies and souvenir shops!  The streets are lined with bicycles and horses because that is the only mode of transportation.  It was fun watching the horse drawn carriages towing supplies to the Grand Hotel on the hill.  The hotel is the gem of this island for the day tourist.  You can step onto the grounds and step back to the “good ole days!”  Very grand!  I loved the veranda where you could take your drink and sit in a rocking chair overlooking the grounds to the lake.  We enjoyed a cocktail at the rooftop bar which was very beach like with a 360 degree view.  Pat was hoping for something more “grand”  but we voted for the view!

The Grand Hotel from our ferry

Entering from town

Dress Code? Really! Ladies no slacks, Gents coat and tie! Apparently we slipped under the radar!!!

360 degree view!

Paul made us ride the ferry to the Island that went under the bridge!  Not sure why but we went along!

Mackinaw Bridge from the Lake Huron Side on the ferry

Mackinac Bridge from the Lake Michigan side

Of course! Under the Mackinac Bridge! You can actually see the cars above driving

I also decided enough with this lazing on the beach and took a tour of the lake in a Para-sail. The view from above is spectacular.  I swam in my second Great Lake.  So far that is 2 swims and one toe touch!




We spent the afternoon driving to some of the most beautiful beaches and lakes in Michigan along the Gold Coast where we stopped in to visit a good friends brother!  He was surprised – especially since he really didn’t know who we were!  He gave us a few suggestions of places to go and shared a few laughs about our friend Theron and his antics growing up here and we were off!  One of the places he recommended was an Inn called Legs Inn in Coast Village.  It didn’t look very grand but when you walked inside it is a very special place.  We had patio seating among the most beautiful gardens and watched the beginnings of a beautiful sunset.

Sunset over Lake Michigan

Michigan is a beautiful state, right up there with many of my favorites

An Old Man’s Game

Sunday, July 1st, 2012

After crossing the Blue Bridge we spent a few nights just relaxing for the start of the holiday week in Port Huron Michigan which is on the banks of the St. Clair River.  We had fireworks both Saturday and Sunday evenings as they are also celebrating Canada Day!  The display of fireworks on the river was really nice.

Blue Bridge from Canada to the USA across the St. Clair River

Blue Bridge at night

Sunday was a pretty lazy day starting with breakfast at Cracker Barrel where you can shop for some old fashion favorites like moon pies, sit a spell on the patio or take in a game of checkers!!!

I think Kip is winning but then there was a quick reflex and Paul clears the board of the red checkers!!!!