Welcome to our Adventure!

Al and I are thrilled that you have found your way to our blog. We hope you enjoy reading our journal and viewing our photographs of the natural wonder of our United States of America. Let's hit the road together!
Homer, Alaska

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A New Experience

And its not one that I care to have again, although I'm sure it will be inevitable at some point as we're traveling.

Sunday was partly sunny to start, but very humid. It was going to get into the 80's, and we had a severe thunderstorm watch for the late afternoon hours. I opened the store at 12:00, and was supposed to be alone until 3PM when Chris was scheduled to come in. Now, when I was doing the scheduling, based on the busy periods from the past two years, I was going on amount of sales for each given hour. It didn't look like sales got going too much until around 3:00, so that's why I figured I'd be ok by myself until then. I have now wrapped my mind around the fact that there's alot of $2.00 ice creams and $1.00 slushies in a couple of hundred dollars in sales! I was completely bombed upon opening. I was scooping and ringing like a mad woman :-)! I had asked Al to go down to WalMart and pick up a few things that I had run out of on Friday ( I sold alot of s'mores ingredients) and he walked in about quarter after one. Paula, from sales, had just walked through and gasped! and then sent in Robin, her secretary, to help me thin the line...it was going out the door. Peter (the activities director) came in to see what I needed, and I just yelled, can you send me Chris? ( Chris is part of my staff, but was working the marina until 3PM when he came on duty for me.) Then Al walked in, and I asked him to please run back to the campsite and ask Lorraine to come down for a couple hours. That's the nice part about having your staff living on property :-). Which she did, trooper that she is. Robin handled scooping ice cream great, Chris showed up, although wet and shoeless :-), and we cleared out the crowd. Lorraine stayed until about 4PM, and we were fairly organized the rest of the afternoon. But it was an interesting afternoon, and a busy introduction to a holiday weekend around here! Vicky worked with me Sunday until 4PM, and Chris closed with me, and Monday Lorraine and I ran the store from 12 until 6. We did really well, and had a good amount of sales. I was personally disappointed with the weekend's total, but was assured by my boss that we did very well. I guess I have high expectations for myself, but all three of us want the store to do well this summer.

Now, Sunday afternoon turned out very interesting. It was very busy, we were selling tons of firewood, ice cream, doing well with the food as well. Al brought my dinner down before going on duty at 5PM. I was busy, and he pretty much stuffed it in the fridge and ran, but told me there was now a tornado watch in place. Nice. We do have the internet on our register, so we pulled up the local radar, and wow, there was a really strong line of storms about 45 minutes out. We started telling people as they were coming in the store, but most already knew and had been preparing their sites.

Then about 5:30, I heard it; the tornado siren. I did not like hearing it, but there it was. Chris and I immediately went into lock-down mode. The store gets locked up, any campers in the building, which includes the family center and the cafe as well as our store, are to be placed into the restrooms, and the staff of the building is taken to what I can only say publicly is a "safe area". So as Chris was locking up our shutters, I closed down the store and started herding people to the bathrooms. Then I was pretty much physically removed from the building by Paula and Debbie, and we sat out the warning time in our shelter. I was really afraid for my dogs, and  knew Al was out there rangering. And he was out there, actually in the guard booth, as people were fleeing the campground like the proverbial rats leaving a sinking ship! Many people were stopping and asking him 1. where to go, and 2. making sure he knew the siren had gone off and were concerned he wasn't seeking shelter. He was telling folks that didn't have a nearby home to take shelter at one of the large stores down the road, and here I have to give a huge plug for WalMart. I heard from several families afterwards that WalMart was taking in anyone that needed shelter, and even allowed people to bring their pets in with them. Kudos to WalMart for that!!

I could not hear anything going on outside our shelter, it was pretty soundproof. I have been told by many, including Al, that it got pretty wicked out for about 10 minutes, but thankfully, no touchdowns here. There was much damage about 15 miles west of here, in Fowlerville and Perry. I read that 300 firemen from the area around here were deployed right afterwards to do damage control and start cutting up downed trees. So it must have been pretty messy. We were given he all clear by 6:15, at which time we re-opened everything, and I ran back to check on the trailer and the dogs. Chelsea was not happy at all, but they both survived, and the weather calmed down after that. It was certainly an experience, and I don't need to repeat it again, please!

Monday, Memorial Day, was clear, sunny and hot! It was a perfect beach day, and the store was very busy. Everyone was enjoying the good weather, and spent the entire day at the campground before heading for home. There was a small parade here, and yes, I mean small. I took pictures as they went by the trailer:
Alex is the clown, and she is the wife of Chris, who works with me in the store. Dan, in the red polo, is the assistant activities director.

This is Peter, the activities director, driving the golf cart they decorated for Memorial Day. Most of the sales staff went to Hartland to ride the Waldenwoods float in the big parade there.

So, that was our weekend. We worked hard, but it was fun. We're making some good friends here, both among the workampers and the regular staff. They're really nice folks here, and we're enjoying it very much. Today is our last workday, Al rangers tonight, and I have some supply shopping and then some inventory tracking to do this afternoon. Then tomorrow is our "weekend", and we're taking a short excursion over to the Lake Huron coast. It's about an hour and a half to the starting point of our driving tour, and we're looking forward to exploring the "sunrise coast" and the Huron National Forest. I hope to have lots of great photos to show you, and am especially looking forward to seeing the bald eagles and trumpeter swans in the area. So, until next time, stay safe and have a great day!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Happy Memorial Day

I thought I would post a short one to let everyone know we are dong fine. It is very busy here for the holiday weekend, even with the lousy weather we are having. Earlier in the week we had the "chamber of commerce" forecast, showing a decent weekend, but that hasn't materialized yet! We are also now forecast for severe storms this afternoon, with possible high winds and hail. So far we have been able to dodge these, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this line will skirt around us as well.

I have no pictures for this post, I will try to get out and take a few of the fun things around the campground. I am very pleased with the amount of American flags being flown! We now have one ourselves, that mounts on the rear bumper of the trailer and soars 22 feet into the air! It does come down and fold up for travel, of course :-). Al is flying the American flag, and a "Support our Troops" flag.

I am getting more skilled at scooping...although I do think my right arm is going to have more muscle built up than the left by the end of the summer :-). The store is very busy this weekend, and my staff and I are putting in long hours. Its been fun, though, a new experience. I enjoy chatting with the members, hearing their stories, and the little kids are so funny to listen too. They bring in a pocketful of change, and try to figure out how much they can get with it :-). It's cute :-).

Al has been doing the late shift rangering, from 5PM to 1AM. He is partnered with Mark, who has been working here for three years now. He's a retired police officer, and lives here in Michigan, not a workamper like us. Mark has been very helpful in helping Al learn the ropes of rangering. And for our EMS friends back home, you'll be proud and happy to know that Al has already assisted in saving someones life while out here on the road! I can't go into too many details, but a woman collapsed during a wedding Friday night, and went into cardiac arrest. Al initiated CPR, and assisted by another person on scene, was able to keep the blood circulating until the ambulance arrived and the AED was used. She wasn't conscious as they left, but was breathing on her own and had a pulse, so we hope that things will work out!

On our days off this week we are planning a short excursion north to the "Sunrise Coast" of Michigan. There's a beautiful area along Lake Huron, with the Huron National Forest there, that we would like to explore. That will be Wednesday and Thursday ( our weekend now!) so I hope to have lots of great pictures of that area and its wildlife. I'll update you beforehand, though, I hope with a few pictures of the campground and activities for the holiday, so long as we get a little co-operation from the sun!

Happy Memorial Day to all!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Odds and Ends

Between working and not-so-nice weather, there hasn't been much to write about, but I managed to find a few things :-).

I took some pictures of the inside of my park store. First up will be the ice cream, as I had a few questions about some flavors. First, the pics:
Starting top left is Roadrunner Raspberry, Birthday Cake and Superman. From bottom left is (barely seen) Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Butter Pecan and MooseTracks.

This picture is a a better view of the Roadrunner Raspberry and Cookie Dough, with the obligatory Vanilla and Chocolate on the left hand side. My case is 2 rows of 4 canisters, and I can store 4 more canisters underneath. I have a storage freezer in my little kitchen as well for extra.

So, what is Superman? Here's the "scoop" on it straight from the Hershey website:
Superman is Strawberry Banana and Blue Moon swirled together...sorry, no little stars! MooseTracks is vanilla ice cream with MooseTracks fudge and peanut butter cups swirled in. If you click on the links it will take you to a description along with the nutritional information AND the caloric count, if you really need to know :-)!

The entrance to my store, the door is open to allow the breeze to come in. The ice cooler is outside to the right, and we keep a rolling cart with the firewood bundles on it outside the frontdoor as well. There's 2 big picnic tables on the porch as well. I put some camping supplies at the left end of the shelves, and alot of the candy on the right end.

These blue shelves line the other side of the entryway. There's some logo merchandise here, coffee cups, sweatshirts, key chains. I also put all the insect fighting items here, the flip flops, a display of s'mores items, and on the pegboard at the end is a variety of fishing items, and some hanging camping items.
The pre-packaged ice cream freezer, with a display of toys and swimming items hanging over it, with the soda (pop) cooler and chip displays. I have to get used to people asking me for "pop"; because to me, "Pop" is in Florida!! :-).

The grocery and hygiene items, with cases of extra soda below.

This is the food end of my counter. The pizza/pretzel warmer, the nacho machine and hot dogs. I like the decorative chalk board with the ice cream prices on it. There's a glare coming through the window, but you can see the lake from here.
The cash register, with the slush-puppy machine behind it ( man, that stuff is SWEET!), and some candy and toys on the shelves below. You can see the small kitchen I can use, and behind the counter is the entrance to the internet cafe. They have free wifi here, with a few tables set up, a bookshelf for a book exchange, and a bar area for people to sit and eat their junk food ;-).

There's a water/coffee station set up as well, for members to help themselves while enjoying the wifi. The whole store/cafe area is decorated with a summer, beachy feel that's really quite cute. I've started meeting a few of the members who come to the campground quite often, and have also gotten to know most of the staff that works in the sales office next door. The family activities center and the fitness center is in the building and they are planning a summer full of fun for everyone. Peter is the activities director, and we were chatting with him yesterday as he was working on building a cardboard boat for the regatta next month. I'm looking forward to seeing that, and hopefully taking some pictures as well!
So, that's the store I'm working in this summer. I'll be filling in a bit more stock, as people have been asking me for different items. But so far, the most popular items by far are ice cream cones and slush puppies!

I have a pair of robins busily building a nest in the pine tree next to the Cougar. here's the proud papa:

At least, I think he's the papa; the other one is busy building the nest, and this one is keeping guard, and chasing away anyone else who gets near. He seemed particularly angry at the cowbirds, which puzzled me, until I remembered reading that the cowbirds like to take over the nests of other birds, either killing the babies that are in it, or even raising them along with their own progeny. I haven't seen the cowbirds all day now, so I guess maybe they went elsewhere.

I was also thinking about getting a goldfinch feeder and some nyger seed, since there are so many finches around. But then I saw these guys:

They are having a heck of a good time eating the seeds out of these Gerber daisys I have hanging by the hummingbird feeder. So I figure, why spend money on the seed when they can keep my daisy plant picked clean? Right?

Lastly, remember I told you how the ground squirrels were driving Casey crazy? Well, there's a burrow within tether range at our campsite, and now his favorite past-time is keeping watch over it, and burying his nose right down in it. I keep telling him, one day that squirrel is going to latch onto his nose, and watch out then!

Today was suppose to have been not so nice, but the storms last night had stayed south of us, and the morning was stunningly beautiful. Bright sunshine, an azure blue sky, cool and no wind. Since I was off all day, and Al didn't go in until 6PM, we decided to pack a lunch, go up to Seven Lakes S.P., and take the SeaEagle out for a ride. It was a beautiful morning, but unfortunately I had forgotten to bring my camera, or binoculars for bird-viewing. We saw and heard many birds, the fish were jumping (yes, we will be going back with fishing rods!) the lake was beautiful, and it felt SO GOOD to be out in the sun. This is what I love about this lifestyle so far...the ability to spontaneously enjoy such a beautiful day! I surely hope we have many more to come :-).

Rain is on the agenda again tomorrow. I have some shopping to do for stock in the store, and I have to refill the ice cream cooler after having defrosted it Sunday night. Weather permitting, we are having a workamper "snack and chat" tomorrow afternoon, to meet and mingle with some of the other workampers. I believe there are 13 couple and one single workamping this year here.  Thursday I start in on a (hopefully) busy holiday weekend, scooping that ice cream. I hope wherever you are, you have a sunny warm holiday. TTFN!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The World is Still Here!

Hey, what do you know....the world didn't end at 6PM EST after all. I'm so very glad, because the sun finally came out around here, and I was hoping to enjoy it before the end of the world came :-). Don't you wonder what all those people who believed are going to do now, especially if they've given all their money to the "cause"??

We both started our weekend duties on Friday, with the store being open through the weekend, and Al doing the late shift rangering. I've gotten the orders for the store in and entered into inventory, and ready for selling. I'm still making a list of things people are requesting we carry, so I'll continue to shop and stock, getting ready for the first big holiday weekend...sure hope the weather co-operates!

Well, Al has been "discovered"...no, not by Hollywood :-), but rather his medical training has been discovered. The owner of Waldenwoods, having been told that he is a certified CPR instructor and EMT, is talking to him about having people certified here, and installing some AEDs on property. It's costly, we know, but several people here feel strongly that its a good idea to have knowledgeable people and equipment  here. You'll laugh at this, but we had an employees meeting Thursday night, where a presentation was made by a Red Cross volunteer on what they called "citizen's CPR"...which is basically hands only CPR to keep the blood moving until proper help and equipment can arrive. But at the end of the presentation, when she was quizzing the audience, and asked what you do if someone collapses in front of you, people answered "Call 9-1-1" and then "call AL!" :-).

The sun has finally made an appearance here, but we shouldn't get too used to seeing it :-(. The forecast for the week ahead is showers/thundershowers. because of the weather and being back to work, I only have a couple pictures for you today.

This is the first hummingbird that I've been able to catch a picture of, but there is a pair coming around quite often now. We've put up a three-hook planter with two baskets of purple and red flowers, and the feeder. So far, they seem to like it!

And here's a picture of our site, in the SUN! My planter is on the end of our picnic table, and I have some planter boxes along our deck next to the door. The hummies have also been coming to the geraniums in these boxes. Remember, you can click on the picture to make it larger :-). I did take the picture a bit too early, as after breakfast Al mowed our "lawn" because the dandelions are growing like weeds! LOL. Luckily, it only takes about five minutes to mow this yard :-).

That's about it for now. Just a quick post. I'm getting better at scooping ice cream (butter pecan and moosetracks are the current favorite, with superman running a close second), and Al is meeting a lot of the members as he does his rounds. I'm getting to know the sales staff (they do the tours and sign people up for memberships) and the activities staff, who take care of the kids and events here. We're all in the same building by the lake. Hopefully, the weather will be not too bad this week where we can go do something on our days off, and we're really hoping for a good holiday weekend..we're ready to get busy busy!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Proud Lake Recreation Area

I have a couple of questions that need answering, so I'll start with those.
Vicki, the dogs are doing great. The have really adjusted to this life quite quickly, and we are grateful for that. As you know, we started getting them accustomed to being in the trailer by themselves at the rally. We just make sure that there is a routine, and they are used to it and what it means. We always pull the shades down, turn the fan on and leave the tv going as a buffer for any outside noise. They get a walk before we leave, then treats, told to get on their couch and be good, we'll be back soon. And for the most part, they just nap while we're away! Al and I are not on the same time schedules either, there is some overlap some days, but really, the longest they go alone is around four hours. When my hours get longer after Memorial Day, I can walk back during breaks and let them out for a few minutes. And Al is always driving by in his cart, and able to check on them as well. So it really is working far better than I had imagined.

Sherry, scooping ice cream is an art :-). You want to make sure the level of ice cream goes down evenly, so as to not have ice cream climbing up the sides of the container; that can lead to grainy or gummy ice cream. You imagine the container as being divided into quarters. Put your scoop in about a half inch deep, at the 3 o'clock position, along the side, and scoop up towards 12 o'clock, then straight dow to the middle, and across back to 3 o'clock. This is supposed to give you a nice, 4 oz. scoop of ice cream. Plop it down on top of the cone, with an overhang (giving the illusion of extreme generosity with your scoop!), and there's your single scoop ice cream cone. Repeat with the other 3 quarters of the container, and then start your next layer down. Sounds easy, we'll see how co-ordinated I can become :-).

The entrance to the Park Store. It's supposed to be slated for painting, we'll see if they get to it before we get busy!
Racks of canoes and rowboats available for rentals by the lake.
One of the jumping in spots for the dogs.
Chelsea's little "frog pond"; there's several frogs living in this pool, and she has to check it each time we walk past.

Tuesday the sun was actually out when we got up! It was short-lived, but at least we saw it :-). It wasn't as cold, either, and I was ready to get out of the campground for awhile. I had shopping to do, the fridge was getting a tad empty, and so I looked through my papers for a nice walking spot close by. I settled on Proud Lake Recreation Area, about 13 miles from here. It covers 4700 acres, and has over 20 miles of hiking and biking paths. It's situated along the Huron River, with Proud Lake at the eastern end. There's great fishing (yes, Al does have his Michigan fishing license now and will be heading up there with his rod!), a group primitive campground, and a modern campground with 130 electric RV sites.

We decided to do the Marsh Trail, onto part of the red trail leading to the dam, then followed the Chief Pontiac Trail to the River Trail back to the parking area. It wasn't a long hike, but it takes us awhile, as we like to take our time and look at everything :-).
Michigan State Parks have a very nice trail marking system. You can pick up a numbered trail guide at the park office that co-ordinates with these markers. Each marker has a trail guide posted, and numbered arrows showing you which direction to take, especially helpful when there's a crossing of multiple trails! So you're able to mix and match trails according to how far and where you want to go. It's really nicely laid out. Seven Lakes had this system, but Highland Recreation didn't, at least not yet.
This little bird landed long enough for a picture, anyone able to help identify him? We also saw our first Scarlet Tanager, but he was way too fast for me to get a picture!

It's one mile around the marsh itself, and there's a nice system of boardwalks in place over the mushy areas. Or at least, there are on this trail...more on that later :-).
I saw lots of red-winged blackbirds here; I was hoping to see some of the herons and other marsh wading birds, but no luck. Al said they were hiding somewhere, shivering :-).
The wooded area on the far side of the marsh. This is where we saw the tanager, and also heard woodpeckers. The only one I caught a glimpse of was a red-bellied woodpecker. I'm still looking for that pileated dude!
This swan came gliding over to check us out as we were scanning the shoreline. There was a female sitting on a nest in a small island in the marsh, I guess this guy was making sue we didn't have any ideas of bothering her.
This is the portion of he Huron River descending out of Mossy Lake, a smaller lake spilling from Proud Lake. Right behind us is a dam, funneling the water into the main Huron River. This is where we saw some really large fish as we walked up, hovering right at the top of the dam.
Here you can see the dam, and how fast the water is churning as it goes over it, being funneled down river. The fish were hanging out right on the left side of the dam, I tried to get pictures but they didn't come out very well. We picked up the Chief Pontiac Trail on the far side of the bridge, down past that little outhouse.

Chief Pontiac was apparently an important figure in history along here. There were several markers posted along the trail, noting a feature of the area, such as a particular tree or feature, and then noted it's place in the Ottawa Indian lore, and then a note about how Chief Pontiac used it. It became quite clear that Chief Pontiac disliked the British very much, as most of the notes pertained to how he would utilize each feature in his rebellion against the British Invaders. When we approached the sign for the Oak trees, Al was surprised when it said nothing about the rebellion; he expected to hear how Chief Pontiac instructed his warriors to make bats out of the oak to beat the British soldiers with! There is a city of Pontiac nearby, as well as Pontiac Lake Recreation Area and yes, the GM vehicle was named after the chief :-).
The dogs never refuse a dip in an accomodating river!

There's a lodge in this park that you can make reservations for, and this campfire circle on the riverside is just a short walk below the lodge.

One of the boardwalks along the River trail; notice how it doesn't seem in as good a state as the previos ones? Well, you know there has been a lot of rain here lately, and the water levels are much higher than usual. We had come to an intersection, a short-cut back to the parking area, but we decided to keep going along the river.

Some wildflowers along the boardwalk. I couldn't get the angle I wanted on these spiky flowers, so after checking the area for any dangers, I laid on my side for this shot at plant level. I was happy with it, until a few feet further up the trail, after the boardwalk ended, we found this fellow:
Yes, I know, it's only a garter snake, but it's a snake! Yechh!

I cautiously made my way past, and we continued down. The trails were getting mushier, and water was starting to cover portions of the boardwalks. We splashed our way through some, jumping over deeper spots, until we came to s section of no boardwalk, and at least knee deep water; at least, it was up to Casey's belly! So we turned around, and headed back to the last intersection, and yes, I had to go past my buddy again! It was ok, though, because by going that way, we got to walk on this trail, with the tallest red pine trees I've seen so far!

We returned to the parking area, and got out our sandwiches and sodas for lunch. It was almost warm enough, so we ate outside at the picnic tables they have there. There's also grills, if a family wanted to come barbeque after walking the trails. There is a parking area closer to the dam for fishermen, and picnic area there as well, so I'm quite sure that will be an excursion for another day.

Before leaving the park, we drove over to the boat launch area, and checked out the campground. I took some pictures for folks who may be coming near the area. It looked very nice, and definitely quiet right now! There was only one motorhome in the whole place. They also have two cabins they rent. There's canoe rentals, and lots of activities for the kids..basketball courts, horseshoes, a playground, volleyball nets.

Check out the giant fire rings they have here!

Lots of swans were congregated down by the boat launch. This boat launch was specifically for the campground, and there's a public one further up the road.
These birds were swooping all over the lake, and one finally landed long enough for me to take a picture. They are tree swallows, and until he stopped moving, I had no idea that they were blue! They are really fast, and not afraid to dive-bomb you :-).

That ended our day at Proud Lake. We returned to Hartland, did our shopping, I had my ice order arrive just as I was returning to Waldenwoods, so I went up and took care of that. Al rangered last night, and the rain returned. This morning is still drizzly, but warmer, and I'm watching the birds out here. There's at least 2 sparrow nests in the pine tree, and a pair of robins are building one also. The goldfinches are eating dandylions! I had bought a couple of plastic planters and flowers, I'll get those planted today, and we have two hanging baskets of red/purple flowers and a hanging hummingbird feeder. And yes, the hummies have found their way here already, I'm just waiting to get a picture for you.

That's it for now. Al has two nights off, and then starts again, and I start up the store on Friday for the weekend. I have orders coming in that need to be marked and put away, and the forecast is nice and warm for Friday and  Saturday, so hopefully, a busy weekend is on tap. Until next time, have a great day!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Rainy Weekend

It was a rainy, cold weekend here, and not too much was going on. I had the Park Store open for the weekend hours, but there wasn't a whole lot of action going on. I worked with Chris on Saturdy for the first time, he is the one person that was re-hired from last year. He is going to be a big help to me, particularly with the various food machines and ordering. I did sell some scooped ice cream to a couple a families, and the kids were really cute :-). We also had the Slush-puppie machine up and running, and while Al was bringing me dinner Saturday night, I had a small burst of business, so he made a slush puppy drink for a little girl, and she said it was "really good" :-). We've been checking out a couple of different pizza places around here, and so far "Hungry Howies" has been our favorite. Although a couple of people have told me the pizza at the Mobil station down the road is very good..seriously :-0!! We may give it a go :-).

As I was closing up Friday, I glanced over the lake, and it was black as night, with flashing in the distance...it looked like a really bad storm was fixin' to come our way, and unfortunately for us, it broke before we got finished. Ranger Mark had come up to take my deposit to the office, so he gave me a ride back to the campsite, but I was soaked to the skin just running from the truck to the trailer. It was an all out monster storm, and Chelsea was NOT liking it at all!

By Sunday, it was cold as well; it went from the high 80's on Wednesday and Thursday to a high in the mid-40's on Sunday. needless to say, sales were not booming on Sunday, and most of the weekend people packed it in and headed out of the park. I did more organizing, and went through the store, making sure all of the items were marked with prices, so I won't have to be constantly checking prices when people ask "how much"! I also read the Hershey Ice Cream manual...:-). I was wondering how to ensure accurate, consistent "scooping", and I learned all about the "art of scooping" right there in the manual.

Al is rangering tonight, and tomorrow night. Then we both have off Wednesday and Thursday. The weather isn't suppose to improve too much, but I'll see if I can come up with something interesting to say during that time. We do have a nice weekend forecast so far, so hopefully the campground will be busier, and I might make some sales worth talking about!

I'm sorry I have no pictures...it's been pretty dismal for that. I'm starting to get hummingbirds at my feeders, though, so I'm going to try to get some pictures of them soon. You'll be the first to see them when I do!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Tulips, Ice Cream and Storms

I know, that sounds like an interesting combination doesn't it? But it pretty much sums up the last two days .

Wednesday was a beautiful day, warm and partly cloudy, and was a full day off for both of us.  One of our objectives in this lifestyle is not just to work in different areas of the country, but to explore those areas as well. So I've been looking at the various attractions in Michigan for things to do on our days off. A two-hour drive to the west from where we are is the town of Holland, Michigan, and every year they have the Tulip Time Festival. It sounded interesting, so we decided to make a day trip over there to see the tulips. Not knowing if the dogs would be allowed in the different attractions, I arranged for them to stay at the Dog House Resort and Spa for the day, getting badly needed baths and haircuts.

I will say the tulip festival was very interesting. The entire town, for the most part, shuts down for the week. There's no school for the kids, the main street is closed in the afternoons as there's a parade most every day, dutch cultural dancing exhibits, two carnivals, with all the associated carnival food vendors simply everywhere, bands, fireworks....you name it, they really go to town! What really struck us, though, was so many people dressed in old Dutch costumes; not just parade participants or dancers, but it seemed as if all the citizens were dressed up as well! The town was just beautiful as well, everything clean and neat as a pin, and of course, thousands of beds of tulips planted everywhere.

Tulip fields at Windmill Island Gardens.

This is a re-creation of a traditional street in the Netherlands, created by local craftsmen. Inside is an entire model village also created by the same craftsmen.
The Posthouse museum is an exact replica of a 14th century wayside inn. Inside you can view a 12 minute presentation about Windmills, The Netherlands and their own windmill,  "De Zwaan".
This is a 249-year old working windmill, brought over from the Netherlands in 1964. It's called "De Zwaan", meaning graceful bird.

Who knew there are so many different types of tulips?
Before the parade starts, there is the "sweeping of the streets"; it seems as if everyone in the town heads out into the parade route, brandishing brooms and buckets of water, and proceeds to scrub the streets clean. You can see in this picture how crowded it was, and how so many people are dressed up in traditional dutch clothing.

We did stay and watch the parade, it was about an hour and a half long, with several floats, civic groups, of course the honor guards and kids, clubs, and so many school marching bands. They were very good! It was a lot of fun to watch, really reminded me of a good old-fashioned small town event.

We then headed back to get our truck; as you can imagine, parking was at a premium, and it seemed as if anyone who had a piece of land anywhere near town had parking available...for a price :-). We decided we would park in a lot that the Boy Scouts were working, it's always good to support an organization like that. And from the looks of it, they made a pretty good sum from parking cars that day :-). Although the kid parking us did joke he should charge us double for the "monster truck" :-). It was still a bit early to pick up the pups, so we headed off the Holland State Park, on the coast of Lake Michigan, to catch our first sight of one of the Great Lakes.

The red lighthouse where the channel from Lake Macatawa meets with Lake Michigan.
The channel heading into lake Michigan...and the endless horizon beyond. The Great Lakes really are awesome. If you didn't know you were on a lakeshore, you's swear you were right on the ocean. The road leading out to the park was just chock full of marinas, docks, bait shops, all the acoutrements for a day of fishing.
I saw these ducks, and from a distance i thought the one was a mallard, but I'm not so sure; if it is, it was the hugest mallard I've ever seen! And couldn't find a duck resembling the one on the left in my bird book, so if anyone knows what types of ducks these are, let me know!

That pretty much ended our day at Holland. We picked up the pups, and headed back to Waldenwoods, and phoned home to wish Ma a happy birthday. It certainly sounded like there was a swinging party going on there!

Thursday was back to work for me. I had to finish updating the inventory in the computer, and get some of my orders going, especially ice cream. Ice cream makes up approximately 80% of the store profit, so we have to be ready to scoop those flavors! I had it all delivered today, Friday, and the store was officially opened for business today. My last workamper arrived and started this week, Lorraine, and we get along great. We now have the store all spiffied up, the kitchen is spotless, and we're ready to go :-). Unfortunately, the weather this weekend is not supposed to be great, a bit of rain, and as I'm writing we are in the middle of our third night in a row of some really good thunderstorms. It can definitely rain here! Florida type rain, pouring so hard you can't see out the windows. Oh well, it was expected, as the temperature yesterday and today were a quite unseasonable 85 degrees and humid. The cold front is zipping in now, and the highs on Sunday are supposed to be in the upper 40's!

Once I get the store fully stocked, I'll take a few pictures so everyone can see it; it's really cute, actually, painted blue and white with a summer beachy feel. Makes you want to buy ice cream ;-).

Al is pulling some late hours rangering, it seems like he's going to be doing the late night shifts most of the time. He's finding the different duties quite interesting...I'm waiting for his first unruly wedding! Being on the ambulance corps for so many years though, I guess he knows how to deal with, shall we say, slightly disorderly folks? Overall, it's been fun, and the people we are working with are great. So far, so good :-)!