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, August 30, 2011

The End of the Summer

It's been rather quiet around here, with everyone just getting ready for the last weekend of the summer Labor Day. That's all right though, as our thoughts at the end of the week and weekend were back on Long Island, waiting and watching to see what havoc Irene would wreak upon our friends and family, not to mention the house that is under contract :-0! Fortunately, the impact was much less than had been anticipated, although after seeing the aftermath of tropical force storm winds and rain leaves you to wonder what would happen if a Category 2 or 3 hurricane would inflict a direct hit on the east end. We are so grateful for all the friends who called and offered to assist Al's mom and sister if needed, and for everyone that kept an eye on things during the storm. Luckily, our village of North Haven suffered very little damage, and we were fortunate enough to not even lose power. We can thank the Good Lord for watching over our family for us!

We are in our last week of work here at Waldenwoods, and are starting to get the rig ready for the road, and making plans for the fall. We are planning to leave Michigan on September 8, travel across Ontario to Niagara Falls, where we will stop for a couple of nights to see the falls. From there we plan on driving across New York, providing the flood waters have receded and the NY Thruway reopens, stopping to visit Watkins Glen and Cooperstown along the way. Our estimated date of arrival back in Sag Harbor is Sunday September  18th.

We have had a blast here at Waldenwoods, working at our first workamping jobs. We have met many great people, and made new friends that we will hopefully meet later on down the road as we pass each other in our quest to see the United States. Last week we had an "employee appreciation party", where managers handed out "paper plate awards" to everyone. It was very cute, and both Al and I received awards. Al received a bag of LifeSavers candies, in honor of his CPR save and the seizures episode, and I received a miniature ladder, for "climbing the corporate ladder the fastest" here at Waldenwoods :-). I also received an award from my staff, the "I'm going to wring your neck if you come behind the counter one more time!" award :-). Can you tell the major problem I had with the kids in the store :-)? It was really fun, and a great way to end the season. The people here were great to work for, and have told us both we're welcome to come back any time we want. I thought that was really nice!

The next few days are going to busy, but we are planning on going out to Seven Lakes State Park one last time, on Thursday evening when we are both off. It has been our favorite local park, and we will miss it. But more adventures await us, in Colorado next summer :-).

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

It All Just Came Together

Last Wednesday and Thursday was our weekend, and we took our postponed trip to two state parks on the Michigan shoreline: Ludington State Park and Silver Lake State Park. We departed Waldenwoods around 11:30 for the 2 1/2 hour drive to Montague, a small town on the shores of White Lake that feeds into Lake Michigan. We had booked two nights at The Weathervane Inn, a small inn on the shore of White Lake. It was a little more than I wanted to pay, but it was hard to find someplace to stay nearby, in August, that allowed dogs in the room. This is a popular area for summer visitors, and we would find out why on Thursday!

After our drive, we wanted to stretch our legs, and running right outside the inn was the beginning of the Hart Montague Bicycle Trail. We jumped on that, and walked almost 2 miles down the trail before turning back and returning to the campground. It was a very nice walk, and the dogs appreciated it :-). It was time for dinner by then, and we decided to try a place called Pekadills, as they had outdoor seating where the dogs could join us. It was wonderful! It looks like an beautiful old house that's been converted to an eatery, with a few tables inside but most tables are set out back in the garden. The landscaper had done a wonderful job, and all the tables were set in little alcoves surrounded by plantings, so you really didn't have any close tables to you. The dogs had a great time, entertaining the children, and our sandwiches were very good. Of course, there was also ice cream for dessert :-). I've had more ice cream this summer than I've had in the last ten years...this needs to end soon :-)!

Thursday morning, after free breakfast at the inn, we didn't have a specific game plan in mind, so we decided to drive to the furthest point, Ludington State Park, and work our way back to Montague as the day went on. It was about an hour's drive, and the day was beautiful! Sunny, no humidity and in the 70's. Perfect weather. Give me that all year long please! As we drove down the long entrance to the park, folks back home will know what I mean when I say it was spectacular, just like driving down Napague stretch to Montauk, with sand dunes on either side of you (except no houses!) and sparkling water on one side. You would swear you were on the ocean shore, except there was no salty tang to the air.

This park is huge, with three separate campgrounds, hiking trails, a gorgeous lake, a river flowing from the dam at the bottom of the lake, beaches galore...just an awesome place to spend a summer's day. We parked down in the day use area, and took a walk along the river to the dam,

 and then decided we were going to go for a boat ride around Hamlin Lake. 
Can a day get more beautiful than this?

Shoreline scenery
Boardwalks like this connected the marshy areas for the hiking trails

A swan family made an appearance
We headed towards the dunes at the far end of the lake, that separate Lake Hamlin from Lake Michigan

and decided to make a pit stop! The water was great, and the dogs had a wonderful time swimming.

I decided to climb the dune
it's a lot tougher than it looks, the sand is super soft and as you try and climb you sink up to your calves with each step. Plus the sand is super hot!

A view from the point that I made it to :-)

After we made it back to the boat launch area, pulled out and packed up, it was definitely time for lunch. We were going to try the park beach cafe, but as we got back to the entrance of the park where the cafe was, the parking lots were full, with rangers on duty directing traffic. It was really crowded now, so we had made out ok by getting there early in the morning. After a quick lunch at everyone's favorite burger joint, Mickey D's, we headed down to Silver Lake State Park. Silver Lake is a definite tourist town, seemingly built around the park simply to service the tourists and dune buggy riders that flock to the area. We signed up for a sunset jeep dune tour with Parrot's Landing, and then went off to do a bit of exploring and have some dinner. 
Little Sable Lighthouse. We could walk on the pedestrian path with the dogs, but not on the beach. The beach was very crowded with sun worshippers.


We found a pull-over spot with a trail, so we decided to stop and take a walk. The trail started here, and went gently into the woods. We though we were going for a nice little stroll through the woodlands, and then the trail ended here:

Straight up! Well, I guess we're up to the challenge. And were rewarded with the view at the top:

and then back down...carefully!
That was enough dune climbing for one day. I can't imagine being those people back at Sleeping Bear Dunes trying to get up that 400 foot dune...I would have paid the rescue fee!

After dinner at BubbaQ's (really!) (not bad, and had outdoor seating...we really wanted to go to the Frikken' Chicken place, but it was only open on weekends!), we loaded up in the jeeps and strapped in. 

Chelsea refused to get in the back, so Casey and I rode together in the back seats.

He's not too sure about this!
Headed into the ORV area of the dunes, a very busy place!

After driving UP, and I mean straight UP Mount Baldy, we paused for the view

More driving up and down dunes, bouncing along the whoopty-do's as they called them, we reached our sunset point

Ready to jump out and enjoy the sunset

Here it is! Gorgeous!

The fading colors
Back across the dunes..

the end of a busy day. Need I say that all slept soundly that night? :-).

It was a wonderful weekend, and even without specific plans for the day it all fell into place. Its really nice when it works out that way, isn't it?

Friday it was back to work, and here at the beginning of the week, its time to move forward with some planning to do. We are ending our stay here at Waldenwoods right after Labor Day; in fact, Labor Day Monday will be my last day in the parkstore. Al works through Wednesday, and as of this time, we are planning on leaving September 8 and make our way back to New York. There's a lot of things to do before the closing, so we're giving ourselves some time to do that and visit with family and friends before heading to Kentucky for our stint at Amazon. We have really enjoyed ourselves here at Waldenwoods, and rate the workamping experience very highly. It's a fun place to work, the people are great, and the facilities are very nice. We definitely recommend it for anyone looking to workamp in the area :-).

The really big news at this time is...we have our workamping jobs set for next summer....yes, the Phillips's are going to Colorado next summer! We have signed contracts to work at Chalk Creek Campground in Nathrop Colorado from May 1 into September. We are very excited and looking forward to our adventures in a new state.

In the meantime, its getting reading for the last summer weekend rush here, and then all is quiet. We'll be having a store-wide sale starting next week, and the campground should be pretty full for the holiday weekend. We are also keeping a close eye on the weather situation along the east coast, as we have a lot of family and friends that could be affected by Hurricane Irene. Keep our fingers crossed that it makes a turn and goes out to sea!

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Rainy Weekend

We had gotten our power back after the storm Tuesday at 10PM Wednesday evening. After I dealt with my ice cream issues Wednesday morning, throwing out almost 1000 packaged ice cream and icing down my chest freezer of bulk ice cream, we took a ride over to Camping World to make a purchase...yes, a generator is finally in our possession. I resisted for quite awhile, as we had no plans for serious boondocking in the near future, but Al was worried that if the electric was down for too long, the battery would draw down to empty and then we would really have an issue. We bought the small, relatively quiet Honda 2000, so we are set for any future power outages.

The grounds crew had the blocked roads cleared off early Wednesday, and clean-up had commenced. We walked the dogs down along the lake and through the woods, and the damage to the trees was incredible. My boss David said a tornado had gone by a few years ago that flipped over cars at the golf course, but this was more damage than that. I'm grateful that no-one was injured, and the material damage that occurred can be replaced. The trailer that had the tree fall on it, the owner, had just come out his door to put up his awning when the tree flew over his head and landed on the trailer. The insurance company totaled his trailer, but he is fortunate not to have been hurt!

Other than that, it was a quiet week, and the weekend was fairly quiet as well. Saturday and Sunday the weather was not so good, and we had another storm come through Saturday afternoon. It wasn't nearly as bead, although I guess it is becoming relative to me, as back home it really would have been quite the severe storm!

Things are winding down here, and I am feeling a bit restless. I'm not sure whether its because there is so much going on with the contract signed on the house now, and I feel the need to get back there and help settle things out, or if its as our workamper friends tell us, we've been sitting still to long and "hitch itch" is setting in! I think its a combination of both :-). Wednesday and Thursday we are both off, so we will be doing our cancelled trip from last week to Silver Lake and Ludington State Park this week. We also need to plan a day excursion to the town of Frankenmuth before we leave Michigan. There's a few things left to do, and we'll be leaving some places unvisited that we had hoped to see, but all in all, we have covered a lot of territory here in Michigan. We've had a great time here, the jobs have been fun and the people have been wonderful, but summer is coming to an end pretty quickly, and we're looking forward to our next adventure, working for Amazon in Kentucky.

Have a great week!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

It Only Took Five Minutes

This is a very brief report as I don't have much life left in my laptop batteries. Yesterday afternoon, after raining all night and then having a fabulous morning and early afternoon, at 3:40 PM we had a brief but extremely intense storm blow right across us. There was hardly any warning at all, and it didn't look bad at all on the radar...just a little tiny cell moving along. I've seen so much worse on the radar! The folks that have been here for several years have said they've never seen seen this much damage before. It wasn't a tornado, but some folks have heard it was considered a "microburst"? Anyway, we have no power, maybe not for days, and I will try to charge up my laptop later today at Panera Bread! We sustained no damage ourselves, although the screen room did try to fly down the road and Al managed to rescue it. It may have a few tears in the netting but we can fix that. And miraculously, there have been no injuries reported at all! I will let the pictures speak for themselves.