Moving UP in the country!

It is still humid and somewhat hot so we are going to head north. Due north of us is Michigan so off we go, avoiding large towns.

The first night was between Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids at an RV resort that took Passport America but was still $30! However considering the next two nights turned out to be at Walmart’s it gave us a chance to fill up with fresh water and dump.

We weren’t sure where we were going to end up in the ‘mitten’ of Michigan. It seems that every weekend ALL the state parks are full with campers, a lot of them from Michigan! We stopped in Ludington at a great Walmart that gave us a very nice view from our door (sans the Walmart truck):

We continued on north. We encountered a Michigan rest stop that had a very nice little path between the truck/RV parking and the restrooms:

We spent the next Walmart night in Traverse City. I was looking for this specifically so I could get my trailer tires rotated at the Discount Tire there. That was a fiasco. I had such a great experience in Dayton with the truck but such a poor experience at this one. I will be writing corporate and I will post the experience here. While at Walmart we looked for a spot in the local state park (Traverse City State Park). We found one for the next day and 4 nights! So that is where we went the next day but we could not get in until 3 pm so we went to a movie.

The park is decent. Very well used but they kept it pretty clean. We had electric hookups but no water or sewer. We had to conserve, I used the showers whenever I could. With 3 days there we were able to look around at some of the local sights. We went to the Sleeping Bear National Shoreline one day. There was a scenic drive that let you view from the top of a huge sand dune over looking Lake Michigan:

You can see there are people at the bottom of the dune. There are recommendations that you should not go down the dunes as it is a long haul back up and you would be responsible for any rescue costs.

We continued our drive around, had lunch in a small town where we could watch kayaker’s going down a river. We also toured an old Coast Guard rescue station and learned how they would shoot lines to ships in the water.

 

Our 37th wedding anniversary was celebrated while in Traverse City. What did we do? I got my teeth cleaned at a local dentist and Roxie did our laundry. What a nice anniversary. Actually after those we went and had a very nice lunch at a restaurant on the water. We even got a free piece of Key Lime Pie! Here is our view from the table and Roxie sitting out by the bay:

We took a drive out the peninsula by Traverse City, saw some expensive houses on the bay(s) and got to stop at a lighthouse:

In discussing where to go next we talked about our only grandson’s 1st birthday coming up on August 31. We determined that we should be there and will start heading back to California for a visit. We had two choices, go south around Chicago or north through the Upper Peninsula (UP). We chose north, and I wanted to drive over the Mackinac bridge. So that is the plan.

Gettysburg and beyond

We continued on with our American History tour by going to Gettysburg after DC. It wasn’t too far and we were able to get a spot in a Passport America RV park (Artillery Ridge RV Park). It was clear when we got there and were able to drive around the town a bit. We went to the NPS visitor’s center. It was very disappointing.

At the visitor’s center, there is a movie to watch, and a museum to look through. Unfortunately, even though it is technically a National Park a separate entity runs the movie and museum. You have to PAY for these extra items! That really left a bad taste in my mouth. If this is run by the NPS and taxpayers fund the NPS, why do the taxpayers have to pay AGAIN to see our American history? I guess I got spoiled by the DC area and the western US area of parks. In the west, I don’t think this kind of setup would work.

The next day it was raining, pretty heavily at times. One option is to go on the Auto Tour of the entire area. There are over 1300 different memorials scattered throughout Gettysburg. Memorials to states, battalions, brigades, individuals, etc. It is impressive to see. The Auto Tour takes you through many of them and here are some shots:

Gettysburg was also where President Lincoln gave his address. We had to go see that, in the pouring rain:

We only spent one day in Gettysburg as there was a biker rally coming in shortly so it was time to move on. It was raining again in the AM and Roxie tried our her new rain gear from Ikea:

We weren’t quite sure where to go next so we headed West and ended up going through Hagerstown, MD. Roxie has been in the process of renewing her RN license and she needs to get fingerprinted for the state of CA. However, since we are not in CA she cannot use the Livescan electronic machines but has to get her fingerprints physically on a specific form and send them in.

As we were driving into Hagerstown we saw a for the local sheriff’s office. This is a location where fingerprinting happens. Alas, they did not do it there but in further research, there was a gun shop that did fingerprinting on certain Saturdays, which happened to be the next day. So what to do? Stay at Walmart:

The next day we got Roxie’s fingerprints, went by the FedexOffice shop to mail them. Oops. They were being sent to a PO box. FedEx¬†doesn’t do that and the Post Office closes in about 20 minutes and we are about 10 miles away. But we made it. Whew! We got many things done in Hagerstown, we even got one of these:

This thing keeps the ice for a long time, even when we don’t keep it the trailer.

We left Hagerstown with a specific destination in mind but it was a little bit away. We needed to stop somewhere for the night, and why not break the streak, another Walmart! However, on the way to this Walmart, we stopped by the Johnstown Flood National Memorial. Let me talk about the road that I took to get there though.

I am convinced that with Pennsylvania highways, the more digits the road has, the smaller and worse it is. We came in on PA 869. Luckily Roxie slept through the whole thing. At the start of one stretch, there was a sign that stated, “11 miles ahead No vehicles over 108″ in width”. I did some quick calculations, we are 8.5 feet in width, that is 102″, we are good. Of course, I still had some trepidation until I came to the restriction area. It was a bridge they were working on and only had a single lane. That is not too bad, but this one had a left-hand turn immediately after going through the choke point. I went real slow, deliberate and straight and made it through, Roxie snoozing away.

We learned about the Johnstown flood, which my mother says we had a relative that lived through it. Here is a picture from above where the dam used to be:

It appears they did not rebuild it this time, even though they fixed or rebuilt it about 10 times previously!

Off to Walmart for the night:

The next stop we are going to stay at for a week and try to get some rest (right).