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volume 7                 September 1996                     number 7

Leland River--downtown Leland (Fishtown)

South Manitou Island Lighthouse
INSIDE
 Michigan’s Northwestern Lower Peninsula
•  Potpourri 
•  Campground
•  Good Places to Eat 
•  Coffee Break
Letters, Letters, Letters 
•  This’N That
•  A Detour—Maybe? 
•  Something to Think About
•  Skillet Beef Burgundy Recipe
Coming in the next issue a renaissance festival and the SKP rally in Indiana. Plus lots more as we slowly head south.
Michigan has thousands of lakes and is surrounded by four of the five great lakes. We, who grew up in Michigan, understand that no matter where you are in the state, you are only a few minutes from some lake or river. But to us, the Northwestern corner of the lower peninsula is the best part of this water wonderland---in any season. In the winter there is lots of skiing (downhill and cross country), ice fishing, and snowmobiling. Spring and fall are colorful, and fishing is fantastic. This area is famous for its steelhead in the spring and salmon in the fall. But, of course, we love the summer the best of all.

In the summer, you can enjoy everything from soaring in a glider, to exploring ship wrecks at the bottom of Lake Michigan. Or you can play in the waves of Lake Michigan, tube down a river, rent a sailboat or powerboat, hike hundreds of trails, bike the gentle hills, fish for hours, shop in quaint harbor towns or attend rehearsals or a concert at Interlochen Music Camp. And there are many golf courses known nationally for their challenges and beauty.

If you have never visited one of the great lakes, you’re in for a treat; they look and act like oceans, but the water is not salty. Last month we shared a little about the Silver Lake sand dunes. Sand dunes are common all along the Lake Michigan shoreline but quite honestly the best sand dunes in Michigan are right up here in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Protected by the national park service this area is rich in history and beauty. The park also includes underwater sanctuaries and the two Manitou islands which are about one and one half hours away by boat. 

But I am getting ahead of myself. Driving north and west from Lansing, we always enjoy the beauty of the trees. I had forgotten how beautiful they are in Michigan. When we got to Traverse City (#1 on my map), we couldn’t get over the traffic; it was tourists galore in this fun vacation spot. To get away from it all head out of Traverse City on Michigan’s Route 22. It goes north into the Leelanau Peninsula then turns south at Northport and runs along the Lake Michigan shoreline until it joins Route 31 near Manistee. This is the area we have been exploring and we can’t wait to share it with you. 


Northwestern corner of Michigan's lower peninsula
We started our visit here by spending 10 days parked in Jim & Norma Neve’s driveway which is near Northport (#4). These old friends are a joy to visit; it was just plain restful. While there we enjoyed the quiet village of Northport; it’s shops and restaurants are charming. And we made a couple of trips to the Leelanau Sands Indian Casino at Peshawbestown (Shaw-bee-town) (#3) a small Indian reservation just north of Suttons Bay. We marveled at the cherry trees which were still heavy with fruit. Norma and I spent one afternoon shopping all by our selves in the busy harbor town of Suttons Bay (#2). Imagine walking from shop to shop with sailboats floating by, just out of reach. It is a beautiful sight. 

The harbor at Northport
Music is big in this area especially in the summer. Friday nights in Northport you can take a blanket and/or lawn chairs and a bottle of wine and sit by the water with sail boats tucked in for the night and listen to a jazz concert. It was all the more beautiful because of the cool, soft breeze, and the sun setting gently into the water. Suttons Bay likes jazz too and has a festival in July. 

Leland (#6) is a charming harbor town on the west side of the peninsula and full of wonderful, artsy shops as well as what is lovingly referred to as Fishtown. Fishtown is a strip of weatherworn shanty type shops situated along the Leland River as it prepares to empty into Lake Michigan. These shops offer everything from smoked fish to new age music tapes and CD’s and next door is the cozy Falling Water Lodge. 


The Leland River at Lake Michigan (in Leland)
All three towns host art festivals and a myriad of other festivals throughout the year. One of our favorite things to do in the summer is attend the chicken dinners sponsored by the various Catholic churches in the area. They all serve upwards of 1,200 dinners on a Sunday afternoon. Each Sunday during the summer, look for the church who’s turn it is. It is a good idea to grab a local newspaper when in the area.

Lighthouses dot the whole coastline of Michigan and now that light-houses are no longer manned many are open for visiting. The newly renovated, completely furnished Grand Traverse Lighthouse (#5) at the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula is a must to visit. It is one of the oldest on the Great Lakes and marks the end of the peninsula and the west side of Grand Traverse Bay. President Millard Fillmore ordered it built in July of 1850 and it stood its watch over ships of all kinds in its hey-day. It closed in 1972 and stood vacant for 15 years before a local group organized for the sole purpose of restoring it for the publics’ enjoyment. We’ve been in lots of lighthouses, but this one is really excellant. After your visit inside, you might like to sit on one of the park benches and watch the sail boats and sea gulls at play.


Ron at the Grand Traverse Lighthouse

When we left Northport we followed route 22 south; at Frankfort (#8) we headed inland to the Benzonia/Beulah (#9) area where we stayed for one month. One of the highlights of this area is Crystal Lake; this big lake which runs east to west almost touches Lake Michigan at Frankfort. I don’t have exact information on how large this beautiful lake is, but we have ridden our bikes around it and clocked the mileage at almost 30 miles. Crystal Lake is higher than Lake Michigan and in 1873 Archibald Jones and the Betsie River Improvement Co, attempted to construct a canal linking the two lakes. The effort only succeeded in lowering the level of Crystal Lake which, however, uncovered gorgeous sandy beaches and it remains a vacation paradise for that reason. 

We used our location here to explore some other fun spots nearby. One that is famous world over is the Interlochen Center for the Arts at Interlochen (#10). The academy was founded by the late Dr. Joseph Maddy in 1962 as an outgrowth of the National Music Camp he founded in the late 20's. His dream was to establish a place where America’s most talented and ambitious young artists could extend their academic and arts education in an enriching atmosphere. The 1,200 acre wooded campus which is located between Duck Lake and Blue Lake was originally inhabited by Ottawa and Ojibway Indians; interlochen means "between the lakes."


Practice time at Interlochen
We remember from the many times when we had camped at the state park (across the street from the music camp) that guests are welcome to walk through the campus. So we made a special trip to spend a few hours. As soon as we entered the campus we stopped at the visitor information center. A student volunteer shared that there were any number of rehearsals we could sit in on and gave us a printed schedule. He then suggested that we might be interested in the self guided tour. We heard flutes and followed notes which seemed to float in the air and then collide with one an other. We discovered dozens of students practicing inside and outside of what looked like tiny attached stone houses. When we got close, we could finally block out the music from their neighbor and just concentrate on one. It was easy to see that these kids are very talented and serious about music.

We spent the afternoon strolling between the cellos, percussion, woodwinds, brass and so on. We found the organ house and I counted at least 10 organs---each enclosed by four walls, windows and a door. Several organists were playing and we sat and listened for a while. One time we happened upon a whole section of flutes (about 30). The director was coaxing them into playing just right for their part of the symphony, concerto or whatever. But with only flutes to listen to and none of the other instruments, the notes were too shrill for my ears; we didn’t stay there long.

There’s more than just music to feast on at Interlochen. Because it is a center for the arts, everything from acting to sculpting is studied and they invite guests to stop by and see what is going on in any class. 

If you like concerts (big name entertainers to high school bands or classical to pops) Interlochen is the place to go. Tickets are available in advance and some (school band and teacher recitals) are free.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore runs along Lake Michigan from just south of Leland to just north of Frankfort. The park’s headquarters are at Empire (#7). This hilly region fringed with massive coastal sand dunes is a fun place to visit. There is so much to see and do. First of all if you are into nature, you’ll love it here. You can hike on the many trails which range from short and easy to steep and strenuous. You can hike the dunes, hike along birch lined streams or through dense beech-maple forests. Or if you are not into nature, you can window shop in more quaint towns like Glen Arbor, Empire and Frankfort. 


Playing at the mouth of the Platt River
One of our favorite things to do is to rent a tube, canoe or kayak from Riverside Canoe Trips on Rt 22 (across from the Platte River Campground). This river is gentle and shallow so it is safe even for youngsters. The two hour trip is easy and lots of fun, but the best part is at the end when the river empties into Lake Michigan. The warm current pushes you gently out into cold Lake Michigan. I find it amazing to stand with one leg in the river and the other only inches away in the lake and feel the many degrees difference in temperature. Of course you can ignore the float trip and just go and play at the end of the river. 

The Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive is a must for all who visit the park. The 7.4 mile drive will take you to scenic overlooks of Lake Michigan. This one-way, self guided drive has 12 stops so that you can make this a leisure trip. 

The Manitou Islands (#11) which are part of the park may be visited but on a limited basis. Boats leave from Leland for a one and one half hour trip to S. Manitou Island at 10 a.m., each day during the summer and on weekends in the spring and fall. Once on the island, you can hike some of the trails, take a tour of part of the island (in the back of a pick-up truck) or you can set up your tent and stay a while. There are no facilities on the island; every afternoon at 4 p.m. when the boat heads back to Leland the campers are left alone (except for a few rangers who also stay on the island). One afternoon was enough for us although we saw families with little children who were going to stay for up to four days. It would be nice and quiet and the waters around the island are as clear and pretty as imaginable. 


North manitou Shoal Lighthouse

South Manitou Lighthouse---up close
There is a little history about the island in the unmanned visitor center. The island was first settled by W. N. Burton in 1835. He got the idea to cut trees and have the wood readily available for the freighters that needed it for fuel so they wouldn’t have to stop and cut their own. Since the island was half-way between Mackinaw and Chicago, it was a good stopping point. By 1889 the population reached its peak at 100 then started to decline. Farming was the only means of livelihood and schooling for children only went up to the eighth grade. 

North Manitou Island is larger and the ferry from Leland stops there, but only once a day to discharge or pick-up backpackers. If you get dropped off there, there is no way off the island until the next day. The lighthouse by N. Manitou sits out in the lake all by itself. We were told that when it was manned, three coast guardsmen lived there for three weeks on and one week off. How would you like that lonely life? 

Back at the Homestead Resort, we enjoyed a leisurely float (inner tube) down the Betsie River. Designated as a wild and scenic river, we saw only one house and it was set way up on a hill. We did see all sorts of birds and beautiful trees. It was so quiet and peaceful that I actually drifted back to another time and became a pioneer. You don’t really believe me, do you? 

Another thing you’ll want to include in your list of things to see and do while in the area, is visit Gwen Fostics Prints. Situated on a 250 acre personal wildlife sanctuary on the Betsie River, you can watch the presses print all sorts of beautiful paper products using the original block prints created by Gwen. All designs depict nature in all its glory and all printed items are very reasonably priced. 

There is so much more we could share with you about this area, but as you can see we have run out of room. You’ll just have to put a visit to this part of Michigan on your schedule and do it on your own. You won’t be sorry! I guarantee it!


Potpourri

by Ron
The game of choice at our family reunion was Gin Rummy with partners. Judging from the noise at the Friday night camp site everyone was enjoying the game.

Remember Barb’s article about the spouse driving the RV? She practices what she preaches. I was very proud of her as she backed our 34 foot motorhome up Jim & Norma’s steep, long, winding drive in Northport. She’s good. Once on top, the panoramic view of Lake Michigan was spectacular. 

It sure gets quiet here on Sunday nights when the weekend visitors and vacationers have left for home. We remember those days and are glad that we don't have to join them in the heavy traffic as they head south. 

I wonder if my school teacher sisters and grandchildren have noticed the back to school sales yet. It's so sad---the state parks will be empty and quiet, but we will manage.

On the way to Frankfort yesterday we did notice a few leaves that had already turned color. We will see a lot more before we leave. Northern Michigan is beautiful in the fall. I promise it won't freeze until November 15th, so why don't you plan a trip up here? You could stop at Frankenmuth on the way and the governor could surely use your gas and sales tax money.

Our tubing trip down the Betsie River was fun, but I never did get used to the cold water. If one gets tired you only need to stand up and walk---it's that shallow. How can water that shallow be so cold?


CAMPGROUND  UPDATE
(Please remember that this report was written many years ago and the campgrounds may or may not be in business or as they were.)
The month of August was spent entirely at the Homestead Resort near Benzonia, Michigan, on the Betsie River. Since the Homestead Resort is more of a resort than a campground we will list some other campgrounds that we are familiar with in this beautiful part of northern Michigan.

Homestead Resort, On the Betsie River, 2399 Dam Road, Benzonia. Ph 1-800-686-4163. This quaint resort has 7 cozy cabins, 4 comfortable motel rooms and 10  RV/Camp sites. They only have 4 full hook-up sites; the other camping sites are very rustic with limited facilities. The resort is extremely well kept and managed by Fred and Carin Sturm. It is landscaped beautifully and has paved roads in the resort area. Fred and Carin will make your visit enjoyable with evening bondfires; on many evenings you will find Carin playing her guitar and singing at this bondfire which overlooks the Betsie River. For your tubing adventures down the Betsie River, Fred and Carin will supply the tubes and a ride to or from the pick-up point. Fred will also tell you where the fish are in Crystal Lake (2 miles away) and will gladly go with you if you invite him. Also there is a sauna and hot tub at the resort for guests. This would be a good spot to meet family for a few days where they could stay in the motel or cabins. The cabins are spacious and equipped for housekeeping. Reservations are a must year around.


Carin and Fred---Homesteas Resort owners
Other campgrounds in the area.

Leelanau Pines, Cedar, 231-228-5742   Nice but expensive, $19-$28.50 

Interlochen State Park, Interlochen, 231-276-7022. 300 paved sites with electricity across from the famed music camp-$6-$10. Some sites on the waterfront. Arrive early in the week in order to get into this popular campground.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Park, Empire, 231-325-5562. A beautiful and popular campground near Lake Michigan and the Platte River. This newly modernized campground with 179 paved sites---some with electricity even has showers which is unusual for a national park. First come-first served. During peak season be there very early in the morning.

Timberline Campground, Benzonia, 231-882-9548. They have 35 W/E sites and 50 full hook-up. $12-$15.

Vacation Trailer Park, Benzonia, 231-882-5101. 100 full hook-ups-$15-19.00.

Betsie River Campsite, Frankfort 231-352-9535 W & E only. $13-17.50.

Holiday Park Campground, Traverse City, 616-943-4410, 35 full, 34 W/E.

Traverse City State Park, 231-922-5270, Very nice and popular with 343 elect.

Leelanau State Park, Northport. 52 rustic sites (some would be impossible for RVs), no dump, no showers, but beautiful scenery and some sites are right on Lake Michigan. $6 per night.

Special note about Michigan State Parks and Trailer Life Campground guide descriptions. We have noticed that the Trailer Life Campground Directory lists some of the state parks in Michigan as having very narrow site widths. They list Sleepy Hollow’s sites as only 18 feet wide and it is NOT TRUE! They also say that Holly State Park (where we are going after Labor Day) has a site width of only 15 feet. We know these parks and can vouch for the fact that the width of the sites is often 30-40 feet or more. None of the sites in those parks are that narrow. We wonder if someone was only measuring the actual pad---not the site? 


Good Places to Eat
(Remember that this report was written many years ago and the restaurants may or may not be in business or as they were.)

Michigan
Hillcrest Family Restaurant, 1250 S Mitchell St, Cadillac, MI. Good home cooked food, fast friendly service, lots to eat and prices easy on the budget make this a great place to stop on your way to the Traverse City area.

Stubbs Restaurant, 115 Waukazoo, Northport, MI, is one of those places you go for a special treat. It is a little pricy, but we don’t mind paying for gourmet food and great service. For example my Penne Pasta with creamy vodka and tomato sauce was delicious and very filling. Ron had blackened whitefish which he oohed and ahhed over. Our friend, Jim, enjoyed the special---Pork Loin stuffed with cherry walnut sausage and chutney glace. Salads were crisp and fresh and desserts dreamy. We shared the Profiteroles with carmel and raspberries which was a tall cream puff filled with ice cream and topped with the sauces. Yummy!!!

The Cherry Hut, Beulah, Michigan. This is one of those place you can count on to deliver good, home cooked meals at a fair price. Complete dinners include soup or juice, salad, potatoes or wild rice, vegetable, cinnamon and dinner roll, beverage and a choice of dessert (famous for their cherry pie) for only $9.75. Each day of the week has a selection of the day. For example: Sunday is baked chicken, Thursday is roast beef. There are soup and salad specials for each day of the week’s lunch menu too. You won’t go wrong here.

Papanos Pizza, Beulah & Frankfort. Wow! Good Pizza! It is not fancy; you order at the counter and you eat off of paper plates. But the pizza is great and reasonably priced. It is oven cooked (the old fashioned way) and you have a big choice of seasoned crusts. Also try the subs and salads. 


Take a break. Get a cup of coffee and let's chat.

Lets start with questions on memberships from Don & Rosalie Tonagel of Portland, Oregon. "We have listened to sales pitches on President’s Club and Thousand Adventures and neither one have much to offer in the NW. We have not listened recently to Thousand Trails/NACO. They do have a lot of parks in the Pacific Coast area. The sales people for both president’s club and TAI suggest that the other ones are in financial trouble. There is a group of Sunrise Parks in Washington and Oregon that they all claim to be just ready to close a deal on. We would be interested in membership in which ever group does obtain them. How do we check to find an honest answer regarding the solvency of any of these membership organizations? We have never heard an actual sales pitch on Escapees, and only know a little about them. Where can we write or who can we talk to? Is membership in one of these camping organizations helpful in saving money in the long run when full-timing?"

Ron responds first: It seems like a jungle out there when considering membership campgrounds. They can be very beneficial for full-timers if you use them. An annual maintenance fee would be at least $200 and it would take a month of camping to recoup that. We try to use our Coast to Coast membership a minimum of three months a year. If possible visit the resort and talk to the members camped there. Most importantly, buy an inexpensive membership either from an individual or from some of the parks that sell nominal memberships just to get the annual maintenance fees. With little invested the risk is low and can be recouped in just a few months. Our experience with Coast to Coast has been good. We like the fact that they have over 500 resorts and since we only stay a week, we don’t feel that we need any of the so called upgrades. Above all be cautious with high power sales people.

Barb’s turn: I especially think that one has to calculate how much you will use those campgrounds and see if you come out ahead or not. If any of you have anything to add, please write us. About Escapees: You will not get a sales pitch and there is only a small membership fee of $50 annually. For that you get their terrific magazine, 14 friendly campgrounds to park in (for a fee), and many perks like their great mail forwarding service. Best of all you get the comraderie of all SKPs everywhere. Call 1-800-976-8377.

Here’s an answer for Libby’s concern in last month’s newsletter (V7 #6) from Glenn Reagan of Oklahoma City, OK."I think it is normal to be uneasy about the unknown. The future is that. It takes courage and energy to overcome inertia. But, I think you should just keep looking ahead to the goal and go back over the positive ideas that caused the decision to be made in the first place. Look forward---not back."

Here’s a new appeal for an old concern. "...My husband and I hope to "take our show on the road in 1999. The only thing holding us back is money.... We are among the boomers that sought their fortune as entrepreneurs and invested heavily in our businesses. Our small pot of gold is not infinite. We are doing daily brainstorming on how we can make a go of it on the road and get a start on it now. Research includes reading everything we can and subscribing to newsletters like yours. I have many questions and would love to hear from full-timers that do craft shows, trade shows or offer a service from their RV. "Write Jan & Ken Herman, (Editor's note: I have deleted their email and snail mail address because they have probably moved on my now.) 

Barb suggests that a good place to start is with a subscription to Workampers and Workers on Wheels


LETTERS * LETTERS * LETTERS

Don’t need a home base after all

I have exciting news.... I have overcome my need to have a home base and we will be full-timing within the next year. It took a lot of soul-searching and realistic thinking to reach this decision. Now that we have decided to do it, I can hardly wait. My biggest hang-up was being away from the grandbabies-11 mos, three and one half years and 3 years old. Now I realize that I can come back to see them whenever I choose---in our motorhome.

Your information has been so helpful in reaching this decision. I couldn’t have done it without you. We’ve decided on a 36' Bounder and Saturn to tow along. We’ve been in touch with Lazy-Days and will go to an RV show in PA in Sept. Hope to be on the road next summer---sooner if we can get rid of things and decide on a new home state---Florida or Texas. Will keep you informed. P.S. Lazy Days is fantastic!

Joani & Bill Hunter
Chester, Maryland

Should practice driving 

We have enjoyed so much your book and traveling with you via Movin’ On. Last year we purchased a lovely Bounder 34 C. Still making only short trips, but who knows what the future holds. Maybe full-time next year after our daughter’s wedding at the end of March. We took very seriously your mention of having insurance to get us and our rig home if the need should arise. Your recent experience makes me think I should be heading for the K-Mart parking lot to practice driving....

Ellen & Rex Harris
Camden, South Carolina

Loves the recipes

...I am writing from "Moonshine Creek" campground in Bolsom, NC.  Friends that were coming asked me to join them. I couldn’t make it up their first week, but drove up (in M-H) by myself to catch their last week. First time I drove the M-H without someone either in front or behind me. It was about a 5½ or 6 hr ride---wasn’t bad.

This is a small private campground in the mountains---scenery is gorgeous---weather a little rain and cool. Coming from 90-950 it is almost cold---in the 60's---570 the other night.

They are having a covered dish supper tonight. Guess what I am bringing---the Everything But the Kitchen Sink salad. It tastes wonderful so I hope I get to bring a little home. It is great to have your recipes especially ones you can make in the M-H without too much fuss...Want to try Ron’s bean recipe too....

It is still hard for me to travel alone and hard to be in campgrounds with couples and families---but I am trying.

Fran Wright
Eutawville, South Carolina

Don Wright’s book helpful

...We canceled our "Bounder deal." We read Don Wright’s book, How to Buy an RV and save $1000s and decided not to go ahead with the purchase. We will wait until the 97's come out and start over again with more knowledge and a list of questions regarding the manufactures' cost, etc. Don's book helped solve the confusing double-talk we received from the dealer. We are busy seeing Colorado, we can wait....

Elaine & Bud Hamm
Englewood, Colorado

Temporary full-timer

...Although my husband, Dale, is still active duty Air Force, we’re getting a taste of full-timing on this move. We’re going to live full-time in our new (used 1994, 34' Pace Arrow while we wait 3-6 months for base housing. We’re moving from Virginia to Nebraska with our 15 year old son, Mike, and our two cats.

We’re in the Smokey Mountains now en route to Nebraska. It’s so beautiful here. Yesterday we took our bicycles to Cade’s Cove, an 11 mile loop trail with pioneer cabins. It rained, and we got soaked, but it was beautiful and memorable. Today we took an 8 mile hike to Ramsay Cascades to a 90 foot waterfall, then relaxed by the pool and later, by the campfire. Tomorrow we leave for Nebraska. This is the way to travel! Thanks for helping introduce us to this way of life.

Kathy & Dale Ankrom
Originally from ???

Budget invaluable

We have enjoyed your book so-o much that we have read the last slowly ‘cause we don’t want it to end. We plan to sell the house & take off in 2 years. This week we worked on the finance plans and your budget was invaluable. Thanks!

Ruth & Sheldon Gustafson
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Love the people they meet

...We learned so much from your book and now the [newsletter]. It is wonderful to know there are so many other full-timers out there. We are new at it beginning June 3rd, but we have loved every minute of it. It is great to become Alaskans for the summer. There is so much to see, so much to do. Living out a dream is truly an experience too wonderful to describe.

We love the people we meet. Everyone is interesting and has a great story to tell... A lady from the church where we are attending brought me a jar of home-made fireweed jelly. Fireweed is one of their wild flowers. It was the best jelly I’ve ever had and the color was beautiful---sort of a lilac. Their gardens are so big and grow so fast---what a sight! We are ordering back issues and Coffee Break. Boy, are we looking forward to those. Keep up the great work.

Joyce & Ken Thompson
Full-timers from Dalhart, Texas

Living a dream

Yes, the address does mean we are "on the road," a little over a year of seeing so many wonderful places and meeting lots of interesting people.

This style of living has been planned for many years with the grace of God and your book we are living a dream. We started down sizing 5 years ago by selling our acreage in Iowa, moving to a condo and then 2 years ago moved into our 1994 5th wheel Hitchhiker II which is now our home.... We were in New Braunfels, Texas, Deming, New Mexico, and Benson, Arizona, for the winter and now are in Cass Lake, Minnesota, for four months.... Quincy, Washington, calls us for September and October...we will pick apples and then on the road again to wherever. Hope to come across you in our travels. Enjoy your Movin' On newsletter. Keep your wheels down and God on your shoulder.

Connie & Tom Twohig
Full-timers from Council Bluffs, Iowa

Still investigating for best choice

...We are still about a year away from an RV purchase and still in the discovery stage of that selection. As you probably know, answers lead on to more questions, so we (I) am taking our time to make the best choice---for us. We have become Sams and SKPs and bought a subscription to Family Motor Coaching and these magazines are full of good information, but you two, your book and Movin' On will always be the starting point and favored connection for us.

Dante Russillo & Claudia Beach
Wakefield, Rhode Island

Likes the Bounder/Saturn combo

Just a quick note to let you know how very much we enjoy your newsletter and how much we’ve learned from it. Our renewal is enclosed---we don’t want to miss an issue!

We’re both still working very full time but find time to devour your newsletter when it arrives. We’ll go full-time next summer and can hardly wait. We’ve spent the last six months reading, comparing and window shopping motorhomes and just recently decided on a 28' Bounder. Your newsletter was one of the influencing factors --- the name, Bounder, just kept appearing. We thought if so many were traveling in the Bounder, we had better take a look, and the storage capabilities, tank capacities and general spaciousness appealed to us. One of the first things we’ll do is both get comfortable driving it with the tag-along vehicle (Saturn)! Your newsletter is so friendly and you share so much of yourselves in it, we feel as though we know you. We hope to meet you on the road next year. Many, many thanks....

Les & Dana Over
East Berlin, Pennsylvania

More help with emergency forms

It was exciting to see our RVers ID/ Emergency Form written up in your newsletter. Thank you very much. I would be happy to work directly with any of your readers who would like to have personalized copies of these forms. I am working on some different formats that might be better for certain situations.

If any of your readers are interested in knowing more about traveling with computers we would be pleased to send a trial copy of our newsletter to anyone who asks. The package will contain a trial subscription to the 16-page newsletter and a 7-page index to the articles in past issues. Since the package has become so large, we are now asking for $2 to partially cover the expenses in duplicating and sending out these packages. Our address is:  (Editor's note: The address was removed because they no longer publish the newsletter.)

Judie & Gary
Part-timers 

Solution to a family situation

Just had to respond to your query about women driving RV’s. Love your newsletter---keep up the good work.

We have been full-timers for just over a year and love the lifestyle.... three months ago our 23 year old daughter and one year old granddaughter joined us on the road in a vintage Georgie Boy. It is fun to have family close especially the new baby, but our daughter is so scared of driving the motorhome that Greg (my husband) has to drive her rig. Well you guessed it; I had no choice but to grit my teeth and as the Brits say, “give it a go."

Faint hearted, cold sweats,...frozen with fear are just a few of the...adjectives I would have used to describe myself the first time I drove our 350 Ford dually with an almost new 32' Holiday Rambler 5th wheel behind it.....

[Readers, I was curious about this situation and wrote Sonya for more details. Here is part of a second letter from her.]

...[when we] became full-timers in June '95, our biggest concern...was our youngest daughter who at the time had a brand new baby and a not too stable husband. After a few months [he] disappeared. After trying...it alone for a few months it became apparent that it was just too much [for her] to do alone.... We had been full-timing for almost a year and loved it but couldn’t just ignore the fact that they needed help emotionally and financially. So instead of coming off the road, we helped her buy a...1976 motorhome. As we like to spend at least 3 months in any given place to be able to really see it, this gives her an opportunity to work. She is a cosmetologist and can work anywhere as long as she pays for a state license. 

The long term plans are not set in stone, but she plans on traveling until the baby is in school and even then home schooling is an option.

For us this has been a win-win situation. Our daughter has the emotional and sometimes financial support from us. We get to be a part of our youngest grandchild’s life and we don’t even have to worry about them. Best of all we get to stay on the road. Traveling is really a lot more fun with both rigs (CB's in both) especially now that I feel better about pulling the 5th wheel.

Sonya and Greg O’Neill
Full-timers from Kansas



This 'N That

There sure were a lot of mistakes in the last issue. I’m surprised that you all didn’t fire me. Remember, I was under a lot of pressure. The refrigerator wasn’t working; we had a deadline at the printer’s; Ron’s reunion was about to begin. Excuses! Excuses!

Speaking about the refrigerator---Bud's Trailer in Burton saved us for the second time in our history of full-timing. Both times (four years ago in the Mallard and now) they did a super job of fixing a refrigerator problem and did it in no time flat. Although small this place does good work and understands full-timers.

On our way north, we made a few stops. First we picked up my mother and took her with us to visit my sister in Midland. We had a nice two day visit. Midland is a very pretty city and worth visiting even if you don’t have a sister living there.

Still heading north after we left Midland (without Mom), we stopped for one evening to visit Gene & Donna Beyer. They had just traded in their 34 J Bounder for new Bounder with a slide out. Wow! It is nice inside, but you do lose a lot of storage space. I am still amazed at how Gene backed our Bounder up over the curb and into the tight space between his garage and a large tree. Gene, are you sure you weren’t a truck driver for all those years you worked for the Michigan Department of Transportation?

We got a message on our voice mail recently from the vice president of American Travel Network (ATN), the long distance phone card we love. He is real pleased that so many of our readers have  switched to ATN. He also wanted to share a new 800 number for ordering their service and updated us on the fact that all calls (both in-state and out-state) are only seventeen and one half cents ---remember that’s anytime, anywhere. They use the LDDS lines and sometimes I forget and refer to the company as LDDS when it really is ATN. He also wanted to inform us that the pound sign-redial works better now and it does! So when making several calls at one time, just press the pound sign at the end of each call and immediately you will get a dial tone so you can dial another number without punching in all those numbers. If you haven’t jumped on board yet, the number to call is 1-*** **** ***. It is great too; there are never any extra charges.

Can I tell on Ron? Our routine when hooking up the Toyota to tow is: I pull the motorhome out of the camp site and Ron drives the Toyota to line it up with the hitch. I get out of the motorhome and go back to help if necessary (usually not) then I go back into the motorhome to turn on the turn signals so he can check to see that they are working. Well it was a hot day last month, when we left Sleepy Hollow State Park to pick up our grandsons and take them to Silver Lake. We had the generator running (so we could run the air conditioner) and left it running even when we went inside to gather the boys' suitcases. I drove the motorhome to Silver Lake (about four hours) and in the campground, after we stopped, I went to help Ron unhook the car. My job then is to get in the car and move it after he has it unhooked. When I went to start it, I discovered it was already running. Although in neutral (so no harm was done) it ran the whole trip. Ron had never shut it off after he got it in position and we didn’t hear it because the generator was running.

That Detroit News story that we mentioned last month will finally run on Sept 7.  It is scheduled to be in their magazine style Home section and we are even supposed to be on the cover. Big time!

Have you seen the September issue of Money Magazine? We haven’t been able to find one yet, but understand that the story on full-timing is supposed to be in it. Can you believe that was in the works for almost one year?

I printed the letter from Sonya & Greg O’Neil (Letters pg 7) mainly to show that where there is a will-there will certainly be a way. We have also heard from readers who chose to travel with aged parents. While neither of these would suit us all things are possible.

The salmon are starting to run up stream here and on our morning walks I have noticed some leaves which are changing to various shades of yellow and orange. Could it be that summer is fading away already? Time to head south!

If you will be in Tampa, Florida, in November or December, be sure to come to Lazy Days so we can  meet you. We are scheduled to do our full-timing seminar the first Saturday in November and again the first Saturday in December. Travel safely wherever you go. 


We recently got word that my father and stepmother who live in Silver City, New Mexico, are at that stage in their life when they need to move into some sort of assisted living. Since we have wheels on our house and are retired, we are the logical ones to go and help them. But there are a few things which might cancel this out; if no places are available or if they refuse (which they are trying to do) we will not go. Because of commitments we cannot go until September 21 and we need to be in Tampa, Florida, by the first weekend in November so if we won’t be able to accomplish what we need to do in that window, we will have to wait until spring. My stepmother has two adult children who are willing to help also, but we all feel that we need to work together so coordinating everything is another factor. 

Please understand if we do not publish another newsletter until November and be surprised if you get one in sooner postmarked from somewhere in Kentucky or Tennessee where we had intended to spend the fall. Isn’t it wonderful that we are flexible and can do these things? If we lived in a house on a fixed foundation, it wouldn’t be as easy to take care of a situation like this---especially one across so many states.



Skillet Beef Burgundy recipe first debuted in this issue. I have linked it to the 
recipe section where all of our newsletter recipes are posted.
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