Sunday, June 27, 2010

Letter 12 Michigan II

Monday, June 21 we moved to Traverse City, MI. on the way we turned off the road to see the Betsie Point Lighthouse. We knew it would be a dead end because it would run into the lake, but since the Jones like lighthouses and the sign didn’t warn RV’s or say no turn around, we took a chance that backfired! Ralph said, “OH, #$%*! Fortunately there was a good little side road to turn into and back on the road. Ralph was very nervous as he doesn’t like to back up. He has a short bed pickup which reduces maneuverability. We did walk down to the lighthouse and waded for Petosky rocks. The water was so clear and no waves. Several people tried to show us, but no one found one.

We found our new home at Traverse City State Park and we can see the lake from the trailer.

Tuesday, June 22, 47 years of marriage for us. It’s seems like yesterday we were marching up the aisle together.

We drove out to see the little finger of Michigan. It is an interesting triangle, starting with
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park. The Indian lore story is there was a fire in Wisconsin and a mother bear and her two cubs tried to swim to Michigan. Along the way the two cubs didn’t make it and the mother laid down and waited. One of the dunes is called the sleeping bear. The two islands off shore are the two cubs. We drove through Pierce Stocking Scenic drive and when we arrived at the peak for a beautiful view
we only saw white! Fog! Back down lower we watched people
climbing another dune before going to the little town and life guard station. They explained their preferred method would be
to shoot a line to the ship in peril and send out a basket to retrieve the stranded men on ship, before they would risk heading out in their
little boats.

On down the road we visited LeLand and their old
Fishtown. We enjoyed wandering though the shops and seeing the
river behind the shops.

Back at the trailer we cooked steaks and put together supper with the Jones. It was a nice anniversary supper.

Fred had some new friends to visit. We have seen very bushy tail grey squirrels but these very brave
little black ones almost jumped in our laps.

Later we met and visited with our neighbors, three female students attending a week long college credit intensive class who decided to save the motel cost and camp out. Another neighbor had given us some firewood, so we shared a campfire and they furnished some-mores.

One of the students wasn’t up to visiting with us old folks, but two of them were very engaging. They made the four of us very welcome at their campfire. Nancy was from Ann Arbor, Mi. Her background was Hawaiian/Japanese and Black/Indian. She is working toward being a Physician’s Assistant and also working in the hospital in Ann Arbor. Fred talked mostly with Caroline, born in Oklahoma, but is now a resident Kansas and going to school in Michigan. She has two more years of college. She will receive her masters in sociology and anthropology. We discussed thrilling things like skull shapes by ethnicity! Seriously, conversing with her was most interesting. She is a focused and motivated student. Very excited about her subject matter. After graduation, she plans to follow two relatives in working for the federal government. We don’t worry about the future of the USA with students like these. We missed getting their emails and addresses so we could keep up with them, so Nancy & Caroline if you are reading this, please send us your info.

Wednesday, June 23 we drove out the Mission Peninsula to the very tip. Almost to the end we stopped to see the Old Mission Church erected in 1839 by a Presbyterian missionary who came here from Mackinaw. We also visited the little
General Store that was full of
old stuff and some new. We found they had Moolishus (brand) ice cream and decided to go back after lunch to have some.

We stopped at a city park and waded - hunting for Petoskey stones then drove to the tip and a visit to the lighthouse and yet another wade for the stones on the
45th Parallel. We only found a few at the park.
Then back to the store for some Cherry Moolishus Ice cream and other flavors.

We followed the coast line of both shores of the peninsula and ended up at the
Black Star Farm for a wine tasting. We didn’t care for any of the wines, except their “Ice” wine. The grapes are picked when frozen and juiced the same day. Very sweet.

According to the internet this was our last Wal-mart going north so we stocked up on our needs from there to last us a while.

Olivia had put on a pot of pinto beans so we shared and had beans, cornbread, bacon, chopped onions & sour pickles, and sliced tomatoes for supper. This is Olivia’s favorite meal and the Jones seemed to like it too.

Thursday, June 24 as we moved we saw
petunias planted on the curb for about a mile in Cheboygan. Home for us this time was Petoskey, MI, home of the Petoskey stones, and their municipal campground. Wonders never cease. Olivia had hunted and hunted for a good campground in this area and had almost given up, when she found this one, AND it is right on the lake. After supper the Jones and Olivia walked the beach looking for
Petoskey stones. Fred said he had enough of looking for rocks!

A Petoskey stone is a rock and a fossil, often pebble-shaped, that is composed of a fossilized coral, Hexagonaria percarinate. The stones were formed as a result of glaciation, in which sheets of ice plucked stones from the bedrock, grinding off their rough edges and depositing them in the northwestern portion of Michigan’s lower peninsula. We have been told they are all over the place, but they haven’t been where we looked.

We noticed a lot of Victorian homes along the waterfront and then saw a sign stating, “Bay View Association, United Methodist Church.” A Chautauqua on Lake Michigan.

This was a surprise, so we drove into it. We stopped some people chatting at an intersection and a very knowledgeable man came to answer our questions.

Founded in 1875 by Michigan Methodists as a camp meeting, this association encouraged scientific and intellectual development within a religious community. In 1885 a summer educational assembly program was created. Inspired by the Chautauqua of New York, Bay View organized schools of art, cooking, elocution and music. In addition cottagers participated in religious study, reading circles, dramatic and recreational activities. In 1890 Evelyn Hall was built for the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.

William Jennings Bryan, Bruce Catoon, Lillian Hellman, Helen Keller and Booker T Washington were among the speakers in
this auditorium.

Begun as a retreat for revival meetings and spiritual refreshment, within the first decade, It expressed its “Methodist concern” for intellectual enlightenment and cultural growth. As a result it became a pioneering institution in public education with an ambitious summer university, a Chautauqua series attracting tens of thousands of visitors, and a home study program enrolling men and women across the nation. During the same period, the raw territory of the early “tent city” developed into a resort community of such Victorian charm that it has been designated as a National Historic Landmark. It continues to follow closely the principles of spiritual growth and cultural advancement initiated and steadfastly practiced by its Methodist founders.

We walked to the administration building where we were met with a very friendly lady who told us there are 30 public buildings and 420 cottages, 12’x20’ built during the 1870’s and later have been added on to. Sweeping verandas and stately turrets
characterize the Queen Anne style evident in the cottages and public buildings. Methodist camps at Martha’s Vineyard and Ocean Grove, NJ influenced Bay View’s founders.


We saw
Epworth Home built and maintained by Epworth Leauge, the forerunner to MYF. The Methodist youth saved their pennies to pay for the construction of Epworth Hall.

University summer school was held on this campus before the big Ivy League universities realized summer school was a good thing. Many of those professors came here to teach for the summer. As we walked through the commons we heard music coming from the Hall and from other large buildings we could hear very talented voices practicing their scales. So they are continuing the original goals of the association.

There is still a
Chautauqua cottage standing on the grounds and now is used for Women’s Council. In the 1880’s and 90’s, the cottage was used by the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circles which had a membership of over 2,000 people.

In another section of the commons, people were playing
croquet. Dress in white was the dress code to play on this court. Next was a lawn bowling court and members were measuring out the lanes. Is this really in the 21st century?

We drove the twisting streets looking at all the
charming homes. It’s amazing they started out as 12x20’ structures. That’s the same square footage as our trailer. Not only have they been added on, but decorated in the Victorian style with appropriate landscaping. All had been personally named, and some have been in the
same family for 5 generations. Olivia like the way this one had a partially enclosed front porch.

On the way back to the trailer we stopped at the Pleasantview vineyards winery and enjoyed a free tasting of ten wines. The owner was our server and was entertainer extraordinaire. He knew his facts and his spiel was fun. The Jones had decided they would not go into Canada, so we bought a couple of bottles to send home with them.

Friday night we dressed up a little and drove to Boyne Highlands to see the
Young Americans. This large Swiss chalet style building is not only home to the Young American’s in the summer but a busy
ski lodge in the winter. The program started at 6:30 with snacks and a cash bar. The YA’s not only waited on everyone they stopped to chat too. At the end of happy hour they gathered and
started singing. The gray haired man visiting the food table is the founder of YA. He started it in 1961. It is based in southern California to provide training for talented Young American student performers (15-23 years of age). They are to use this training, good will and optimisn to support International Music Outreach Workshops along with performing.

They consist of 200 members from over 37 states and seven countries interested in music education, fine arts, motion pictures, television, radio, Broadway and recording. There is no political or religious affiliation. They start this track with one year in their college with like tuition.
Not only did they perform in a group, but some even
climbed on the wall. For dinner we were
seated toward the end of the room. The recommendation had been to sit in the middle rear, but being opening night there were lots of family, directors, and former YA’s that were treated to the best seats. But that’s ok, we still had good seats.

Our meal consisted of salad, prime rib with veggies and a fancy chocolate cupcake with goo inside, all served by the YA’s.

They performed their hearts out. We wished for just the energy in their little finger. Olivia lost count on the costume changes and there were very strenuous routines. One section was famous singers, including
Dolly Parton and
Ray Charles.

Another was on Scotland and the
Highland Fling and still another was on famous musicals and the cutest was the
birds in Little Mermaid. And on and on. We really wished for Daniel, Blaire and Rachel to have been with us. They would have enjoyed it much more than we did and that's saying a lot. If you ever have a chance to see this group, run don't walk to get tickets. For more information please go to

Saturday, June 26 was a full day. Don’t say we aren’t diverse! We started the day with a float trip on the Sturgeon River. We received our
instructions after much debate as to whether to take a one or two hour trip. We would be on a rubber raft. With guidance from the Big Bear employee we chose the one hour. We were the most glamorous group on the river!

They took us to the drop off point and we were on our own. The river was pretty and swift with
low hanging limbs, piles of driftwood and frequent curves, which made us work as a team. We did pretty good for
four old folks and didn’t lose anyone. One time Sandy was knocked into the raft by a tree limb and lost her paddle, but it was easily retrieved. We were surprised we made the trip in just a little over one hour. We docked at the Burt Lake State Park and left our gear to be picked up later. All together we were pretty proud of ourselves. Fred decided 1 1/2 hour sitting on the edge of the raft was plenty!

Nearby the town of Wolverine was having a three day Lumberjack Festival including a Lumberjack show, so off we went to see the 2:00 o’clock show. There were five competitions between two lumberjacks. One was to
climb a fallen timber and cut off the end. Another was to
put boards into the tree and cut the top off. The
ax throwing was next, finished by the
log running contest. The man in blue won the competition. All the sawing was done with chainsaws.

The community had chicken dinners, with half a chicken, so we bought one to go for supper.

Sunday, June 27, the Bay View Assembly shows the relationship to the church can also be seen in the programs of the Association. Among the committees specified in the By-Laws is a Committee on Worship and Religious Life. Members of this committee oversee the religious activities of Bay View, including
Sunday morning worship services during the summer Assembly, where outstanding preachers from different denominations are brought to the memorial pulpit in their John M. Hall Auditorium. So we chose to attend this service where Rev. Dr. Carol M. Bechtel, Professor of Old Testament at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, MI, was the preacher for this Sunday.

After church their original speakers stand,
now museum was open with a display of assembly quilts. The first thing we saw was their
original podium, made of one of the trees. They had many pretty quilts including a whole room of silk
“Crazy Quilts” and
other items too.

For those of you in Waxahachie that are interested in our Waxahachie Chautauqua Association you may want to go to Bay View’s web site for ideas. They also have a hotel on the campus and would prove a very interesting and enjoyable stay to interested persons.

Sunday night we attended the celebration of Evelyn Hall being on the campus for 120 years. At first we thought this was a woman’s name, but it was the building. In fact it was built for Evelyn Peters by her husband, a lumber tycoon of the 1880’s. We were introduced to the President of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union who told about her being a woman’s activist long before starting the WCTU. Mr Peter’s followed by telling of his success and wealth that allowed him to build this hall for the women to have a summer headquarters.

From there we walked over to the auditorium to the Vespers Concert, a tribute to the men and women serving or have served in our armed forces. The concert, was book-ended by the Navy Hymn and the National Hymn. The choir and group hymns were most inspiring.

As we left the auditorium we noticed the largeopen windows, similar in size to the opening of our Chautauqua building and Fred wondered how big the window weights were to hold these massive windows open.

When we drove out of the association we admired another one of theircottages all dress up.

We heard this day news about an F1 tornado in Michigan killing a camper, north of Detroit. Sad news. It wasn’t near us, it was in the thumb and we were at the tip of the mitten in the lower peninsula of the state. Thanks for your concern.

As always we love hearing from you and look forward to those emails, so keep the coming. Just click on or

Next letter: Michigan III

Monday, June 21, 2010

Letter 11 Trailer Capital, Michigan I

Thursday, June 10 we moved across Michigan into northern Indiana, stopping at the Amish town of Shipshewana to show Blaire about the Amish. Then we stopped in Middlebury at the Sunny Brook trailer manufacturer.
Since we had trouble in Vincennes we wanted to follow up and learn a little more about the axel and wheels. We were referred to Dexter Axel. We parked for the night at the Eckhart Co. Fairgrounds in Goshen.

Friday, June 11, we headed to Eckhart and the Dexter Axel Co. A young lady helped us out and educated us about both axels and wheels. On to the much publicized RV surplus store and we were disappointed. Yes, they had a whole warehouse of stuff, but nothing on our list. It was also hot inside.

We stopped in an Amish market and picked up some tomatoes and little new potatoes, then met a group for a tour of Sunny Brook. We enjoyed seeing from the ground up, how trailers are made.

We started by seeing the framework, chassis, of the base which is made elsewhere. Sunnybrook then starts adding to it from the base up. All the holding tanks, wiring and insulation go into the floor, then linoleum covers the entire floor. The guide showed how the
outside wall is made together with the aluminum struts and reinforcements for any cuts to be made later for ducts. Then
cabinets are installed before the outside walls are placed on the trailer.
The slide out is added next, then the outside finish and roof. It is amazing how it all comes together. We found there are two types of smooth outside finish. Sunny Brook uses a higher quality fiberglass type finish, which is superior to the finish of the doors. Some manufacturers use the door finish all over. We also learned that most of the color is decals, but when they are painted a paint job costs $8,000.

Saturday, June 12 we met Sandy & Ralph Jones, from Duncanville, at Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. This campus
is huge and we walked at least a mile to the major attractions. We visited the
Main Building which is hidden in the trees, seeing many pictures of Columbus and the
beautiful dome. Their
basilica was next, but was closed to tourists due to numerous weddings. There were four weddings that day and we saw
one couple going for photos after their wedding.

Another walk was to see the
then back across campus to see the Hesburgh Library and the
Word of Life mural symbolizing Christ the Teacher, surrounded by his apostles and saints and scholars who have contributed to knowledge through the ages. Eleven stories in height the mural is composed of 5,714 individual pieces of granite, marble and stone from 16 countries and 11 states.

From South Bend we drove to Nappanee, IN, where a friend LaGail Damron was born, then to their Red Barn at the Amish Farm to see a performance of “Plain & Fancy”, a Broadway show about a New York couple visiting in the Amish Country and the trials of the two cultures. It was cute. We enjoyed their show.
The structure of the barn was intriguing as the top was a dome.

Sunday, June 13, we attended the Goshen First United Methodist Church then packed up and drove to Holland State Park in Holland, Michigan. The Jones had arrived about an hour earlier and we found them settled in. We parked nearby and shared
supper before going for a
stroll on the beach of Lake Michigan.

Monday, June 14 we drove south to Saugatuck and browsed in their
expensive boutiques along the harbor. We saw some very cute clothes and Blaire was inspired to try out one of the big Meijer's stores to find some copies. So away we went to the big box where she found two dresses, a bathing suit, shorts, and two pair earrings for less than the price of a dress in the boutique.

Tuesday, June 15 we washed clothes and Blaire started packing. This was her last day to be with us. Her bag was really full of her treasures on this trip. We took her to the airport in the afternoon and also stopped at a CVS to get Olivia’s prescriptions filled.

Wednesday, June 16 The Jones and us rode north along Lakeshore drive into the town of Grand Haven where we
browsed the shops and farmers market. We saw where they have a musical fountain each night in the summer, but it doesn’t start until after 10 pm. Way past our bed time. At the market we learned of
U-pick strawberries on our way home. So we just had to have that experience and both couples picked
about two pounds. Arriving back at the campground a friendly camper stopped to talk and told us to go on to Orchard Beach State Park. We had planned to stop shorter, but when Olivia checked the web sites for the parks, both of the earlier ones were already full for the weekend. After supper we decided we weren’t too old to stay up late so we drove back to Grand Haven, along the way seeing a
crazy pig sticking his head into a sign, to see the fountain. When we arrived they were having a young version of a big time band playing songs from our era and many couples
dancing on the stage. The water fountain
preformed to about eight musical tunes. The colors changed and the water danced. Our little camera couldn’t do justice to the fountain across the river.

Thursday, June 17, Three months out! This was moving day and we took the freeway north to Manistee and Orchard Beach State Park. We happy the temperature was about 15 degrees cooler in this area of Michigan than where we had been the last few stops. We were told this is normal. Highs here were generally in the mid seventies. Sometimes in the low eighties, sometimes in the low seventies. Lovely weather! This was a very nice park and we had
a wonderful view of Lake Michigan. True the sites were not very level, but we found two vacant ones and made them work. Later we walked down the 75 steps to the beach and enjoyed
picking up rocks. Information at the beach showed a contour of the lake. Fred was surprised to learn the lake was over 900 feet deep in places. Through the years we had heard of the pollution of Lake Michigan. We learned the pollution was just near the big industrial cities and this remote area was never polluted. The water was chrystal clear and very clean looking. It was a beautiful afternoon. Later we enjoyed the beautiful
sunset over the lake. It was an attraction for a lot of other campers who were gathered to watch, with cameras in hand.

We sat by the campfire pit, minus the fire, and visited until good dark. It was a very nice day.

Friday, June 18 we piddled all morning then left to scout the area. Our first stop was the information center to find out where all the sites were. We left with a county map all marked up. We drove through town to a park where we took pictures of their
two lighthouses.

This was a beautiful sunshiny day and our pictures showed it.
Manistee came of age in the 1800’s as a lumber boomtown that, in the Victorian era and at one time had more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in the United States. The flourishing economy produced great wealth which is evident in the
ornate buildings. It continues to be one of the busiest ports on Lake Michigan.

We walked on their river walk and saw two ladies sitting on the bench. Fred walked over asking if they were in a time warp. They laughed and said they were the local greeters waiting to meet a
cruise ship. It had already been by, then turned around in Manistee Lake before coming back through the draw bridge to dock. It was unique to watch the docking as they pulled up even with the dock, then moved sideways to the river walk. Several times we have been on the ship side of a docking, but never from the land side.

We drove into the country and hunted for a tunnel of trees but never found it, but did find the
Wier Spawn center. Since it was not the season for the salmon to run, it was closed, but signs invited viewing when in operation.

We drove north of town to the
Douglas winery and enjoyed tasting nine of their ciders and wines before checking out the Indian casino for cigarettes and Texas Hold’em. They were short of both.

We decided to join the
Elk’s club Friday night fish fry for a good fish dinner before we returned to the trailer to crash for the evening. After that good supper and back at our trailer we saw there were clouds covering the sun, we settled in for the night. About 9 pm Olivia was ready to go to sleep but when she turned off the light, the sun was coming into the front window. Sure enough there was another
beautiful sunset. We rushed to watch, along with many other campers. We watched
children playing on the beach below, then said with others,
going, going, gone. As we left
others were still watching. After we were back at the trailer the sky changed to many beautiful colors of orange and red and we wished we had stayed to watch it.

Saturday, June 19, Happy Anniversary Bob & Pat. We left the trailer about 11 am and visited the farmer’s market in Manistee where we picked up a few goodies, then on to the
Lake Bluff Bird Sanctuary to see the
Michigan Champion Giant Sequoia (see Sandra in red at the base.) and the
Michigan Champion Sycamore Maple. The view over the Lake was spectacular. We drove through Onekama to the Portage Pt to see some small lighthouses, then north to Miller’s market for tomatoes and to see some Petasky stones. Hopefully we will see more when we near Petasky. We picked some more
strawberries and ate lunch while picking.

Then to Betsie River Lily Farm where we saw her
enchanted bottle glass forest among other unique garden items.
Olivia bought the
Grand Gentleman and Semuramide to send home to the girls.
Most of all she had acres of day lily’s which had not blossomed yet, but it has to be gorgeous when it does. We did buy the three varieties that were blooming to send home to Angie and Teenya.

Our next stop was in Kaleva to see a
bottle house built from over 60,000 pop bottles, most of which came from John Makinen, Sr’s business, the Northwestern Bottling Works. The bottles were laid on their sides with the bottom ends to the exterior. A native of Finland the builder completed the house in 1941. It is now on the National Register of Historic places and is the Keleva Historical Museum. We were disappointed when we went inside not to see through the bottles, but the walls were just like any other house.
Finland's population is less than that of the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, so it was interesting to learn entire cummunity was founded by Finish emigrants.

Brethren was the next town for their
“Spirit of the Woods” Folk Festival. There was music
and we enjoyed the different
craft booths. Not like the ones at home.

A full day and to top it off the Jones fixed Tortilla soup for us. We wondered if there would be another sunset to keep us up.

Sunday, June 19, Father’s Day. We attended church at the
Manistee UMC and heard a very good sermon in front of their
beautiful stain glass window. They had just celebrated their 150 year anniversary and had a
very interesting banner. One like that would be good in our church.

After church we visited K-mart and a nice grocery store before catching up with odd jobs around the trailer. At sunset
Sandy and Ralph waited behind a bush for our
last sunset in this campground. God surely has blessed us by showing us these beautiful sunsets.

Next letter will be more of Michigan and from the beginning it is proving to be a wonderful state to visit and we are just getting started.

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