Tag Archives: CCO

2015/08/12 (W) Back to Indiana (Again)

Today was early arrival day for the annual Back-to-the-Bricks converted bus rally in Clio, Michigan.  This joint rally of the Converted Coach Owners (CCO) and the FMCA Great Lakes Converted Coaches (GLCC) chapter has become an annual event that typically draws 20 to 30 rigs.  Most of them are converted highway buses and many of those were converted or re-modeled by the owners.  Many of them are works in progress but such is the nature of the bus conversion hobby and the true bus nut.  But that is not where we were headed today.  Our bus is unusable at the moment as the toilet is disconnected, the bed platform has been removed, and all of the cabinet drawers have been taken out.  But the main reason was that we had multiple commitments in Indiana today.

Our first appointment was with Josh Leach of Coach Supply Direct.  Although CSD is located in Edwardsburg, Michigan we had arranged to meet him in the parking lot of the Martin’s Supermarket at SR-19 (IN) and CR-4 on the north side of Elkhart, Indiana at 9:30 AM to take delivery of 15 yards of upholstery fabric.  We picked that location, rather than his shop in Edwardsburg, for several reasons.  He had to be at the Forest River Owners Group (FROG) rally at the Elkhart County 4-H Fairgrounds at 10 AM so that location got him half way to his destination at a good time of day.  For us, Elkhart is a 3-1/2 hour drive.  That meant we had to be up at 5:00 AM and on the road not later than 5:45 AM to be there on time, allowing for coffee, fuel, and bathroom stops.  Had we met him at his shop we would have had to be there by 9 AM requiring us to get up even earlier.  You have to draw a line somewhere.

I took the wheel for the start of the trip.  It was still dark but the faint glow of the impending sunrise was visible as we pulled out onto Hacker Road facing a rising crescent moon.  At M-59 we headed west to I-96.  I reset one of the trip odometers before we left and verified that it was 13 miles from our driveway to the end of the entrance ramp from M-59 onto I-96W.  We skirted the southern edge of Lansing on I-96 and took Lansing Road to I-69 south.

Nineteen miles south of Lansing, and about an hour into our trip, we stopped at the Biggby’s Coffee in Charlotte for coffee and bagels.  Biggby’s is not my favorite coffee but this particular store is in just the right location.  Linda checked the M-DOT website and it appeared that the bridge work on M-60 in Mendon was completed, so we exited I-69S and headed west on M-60.  Unfortunately the bridge was still closed so we had to follow the detour to the south toward Sturgis.  Unlike our previous trip in early July, when we continued on to Sturgis, we followed the complete detour through Nottawa and Centreville and back to M-60 in Three Rivers.  We had never driven through Nottawa or Centreville before so that provided some new scenery for the trip.

As we have done many times before we continued our trip on M-60 as far as Jones where we stopped at the Shell station for fuel.  We then took M-40 south to US-12.  This seven mile stretch of M-40 traverses steeply rolling hills and is both beautiful and fun to drive.  We took US-12, running west just north of the Michigan-Indiana border, and eventually exited onto Old 205 (M-205?) which turns 90 degrees to the left a mile later and drops straight south into Indiana where it becomes SR-19.  A few miles later we arrived at the Martin’s Supermarket at CR-4 just after 9 AM.

Josh was not there yet so we went inside to use the restrooms and get some coffee.  This particular Martin’s has a nice salad bar with a beverage station, a Starbucks Coffee outlet, and a seating area with Wi-Fi.  Josh showed up right on time and parked next to us.  I met him outside and we transferred the roll of upholstery fabric from his car to ours and then went inside to visit for a few minutes before he had to leave for Goshen.

When we left Linda took over the driving.  Our next planned stop was A1-Upholstery in Elkhart to order the cushions for our built-in sofa.  Continuing south on SR-19 we stopped at Factory RV Surplus to look for battery cable end covers but the ones they had were too expensive.  I think they now sell more retail-packaged merchandise than they do true surplus material, and even less salvaged parts.

Lou (mom) and Terry (daughter) own and operate A-1 Upholstery and were recommended to us by Josh.  We discussed the project with Terry, who I had previously spoken to on the phone.  We reviewed my dimensioned scale drawings, which were on one sheet of 11″x17″ 1/4″ grid-square paper, and agreed on how the cushions would be made.  Terry thought she would have them done by the end of the month but noted on the order form that we needed them by September 14th.  We noticed that she had a lot of sample books from which we could have selected a fabric but we like the Lambright Notion Linen, and Terry thought it was a very good fabric that should look good and wear well in our application.  We left the fabric and drawing with her and wrote a check for the deposit.

All of our stops were important today, but our primary reason for the trip was to pick up the pieces of the custom desk and built-in sofa for our bus from Jarel Beatty Cabinetry in Logansport, Indiana.  We continued our trip south on SR-19 to US-20, took that west to US-31, and went south, exiting at Rochester onto IN-25 for the final 22 miles to Logansport.  This is a route I have driven many times but Linda had the wheel this time so I provided some occasional guidance.  I called Jarel to let him know we were making better time than we had anticipated and would be there between noon and 12:25 PM.  I then called Butch to give him a status update.

This was the first time Linda and Jarel had met and so it was also the first time Linda had met Mya, Jarel and Georgette’s sweet little dog.  Mya came up to me, sat, stared up at me like we were long lost friends, and waited patiently for me to give her the attention she was seeking.  I was happy to oblige.

Jarel Beatty Cabinetry, Logansport, IN

Jarel Beatty Cabinetry, Logansport, IN.  Panorama taken from the entrance door.

Jarel Beatty Cabinetry, Logansport, IN.

Jarel Beatty Cabinetry, Logansport, IN.  Panorama from the center of the shop.  Entrance door is far left.

As I have previously described in this blog, the desk consists of nine pieces (if you count the four drawers as separate parts):  two pedestals with separate bases, a cover that goes between them, and four drawers.  The left pedestal has a fold up work surface with two support wings, and a fold down fake drawer front, so technically those are four more pieces, but they are attached to the pedestal with hinges so I am not counting them as separate parts.  The bottoms of each pedestal have been cut out to provide access to the fan-coil heat exchangers that will be installed in the bases, so those are really two separate pieces now, put I am not counting them as such.  I am also ignoring screws, drawer slides, blocking, and other assembly items in my parts count as they are all “installed components.”  With the drawers installed we only had five major pieces to load plus the two access plates.  Jarel also had the pieces ready for the built-in sofa so we loaded those as well.  I took pictures of his shop and the pull-out pantry, which was mostly assembled but not quite finished.

The installed desk will have more pieces than just described but these are the pieces that Jarel made.  The finished desk will have five grills that we have to cut and install, at least four drawer pulls that we have to install, a plywood top that will span the two pedestals and leg space, and a Sandstone Corian countertop that will go on top of the plywood.  While not actually part of the desk there will also be a large cover for the passenger-side living room HVAC duct and wiring chase and a small hose cover at the desk end both of which align with the left end of the desk and will look like they are part of it.  Jarel will make the chase cover later after the desk is installed and we can get a final, accurate measurement for its length.

As long as we were in the neighborhood we naturally stopped to visit with our friends, Butch and Fonda, in Twelve Mile, Indiana.  While we were at their house we loaded a dozen 4-foot army surplus fiberglass mast sections in the car.  Butch had bought these at a swap for me some time ago.  We will use them for ham radio antenna projects.  Butch gave me his old, non-functioning, Vanner battery equalizer to see if I can figure out how it does what it does.  He also lent me his air-powered brad nailer which can also drive 1/4″ crown staples and gave me a box of 5,000 staples to go with it.  Fonda found a scrap piece of resilient underlayment designed for free-floating wood floors.  Butch though it might work well under the 1/4″ plywood underlayment to fill in the gaps and irregularities so we took it with us.

When we were done loading stuff into our car we went to see their new property on SR-25.  They have already had a new roof put on the barn and new doors put in the house.  They have bought themselves a BIG project, but it will be a much more appropriate and manageable place for them going forward than the building complex in Twelve Mile that has housed their business operations for the last 20 years.  It’s an old GM dealership from the 1940s and they have approximately 11,000 feet under roof including a 2-bay service garage with a functioning in-ground lift.

We drove to Rochester and had dinner at Pizza Hut.  Linda and I split a medium specialty veggie pizza and had the salad bar with it.  We might have had a few more restaurant choices in Logansport, but Rochester was 22 miles closer to home.  With the 19 hours we were gone today, and over 525 miles we had to travel, 22 miles and 30 minutes was significant for us.

We got back on the road at 6:30 PM with Linda at the wheel and headed back up US-31N to US-20 and headed east.  We decided to stay on US-20 all the way to I-69, stopping in Lagrange to use the restroom at the Marathon complex.  We stopped again at the Shell station on M-60 in Michigan for fuel.  It was getting dark and I had been able to rest while Linda drove, so I took over the driving duties.  From this point on we were just reversing our route from this morning.  We got home at 10:30 PM, unloaded everything from the car, and then went straight to bed.


2015/04/21-25 (T-S) IN, MI, Home

2015/04/21 (T) Back to Twelve Mile, IN

The outside air temperature dropped into the 30’s (F) last night and the air temperature in the coach fell to 60, so when I got up this morning I turned on the Aqua-Hot diesel-fired hydronic heating system to take the chill off.  We eventually got up, got dressed, and walked across to Small Town Brew to get a couple of cups of coffee and chat with owner Lisa Paul and her friend/neighbor, Ashley, who helps her run the coffee shop.  Both of them remembered both of us, which was nice.

It’s interesting sitting in a small town coffee shop, where everyone is a friend or relative, and just listening to the conversation.  We are outsiders her, of course, strangers to most of the folks who drop in, but everyone is nice to us.  Some are curious about who we are, and where we are from, but rarely ask why we are there, in this little coffee shop in this little town, surrounded by corn fields.  Of course, we usually mention that we are friends of Butch and Fonda, so that probably answers whatever questions they may have had.

We eventually returned to our coach and had breakfast.  We tried connecting our WiFiRanger to Butch and Fonda’s Wi-Fi router yesterday and it was able to connect and obtain an IP address but the data transfer rate was so slow that web pages would not load and e-mail would not download before timing out.  I turned our Verizon Mi-Fi on and we had a very weak but usable signal, so I connected the WFR to the Mi-Fi and we were able to do the few things we needed to do online.  We then went in the house to let Butch and Fonda know we were awake and see what they were up to.

Butch’s brother, John, and his nephew, Brock, showed up and helped Butch with the driver side front wheel assembly on Butch and Fonda’s MC-9 bus.  The tire/wheel was off when we arrived yesterday and I learned that Butch is replacing the hub bearings and seals, installing an automatic slack adjuster for the brake, and replacing the brake pads.  It looked like quite a job with some large, heavy parts, so I did my part by staying out of the way.  I also took a few pictures at Butch’s suggestion.  He does not want to write articles for Bus Conversion Magazine, but he has been interested in having me write articles about projects on his bus.

Linda spent some time working with Fonda’s new sewing machine that she got while they were in Quartzsite, Arizona.  It is a little smaller than a regular sewing machine, only weighs 13 pounds, and only cost about $130.  Linda gave her sewing machine to her sister many years ago but now that she is retired she is thinking that it might be nice to have one for mending tasks or projects, such as new privacy curtains for the bus.

Butch got a catalog recently from Crimp Supply in Royal Oak, Michigan, which is not at far from our house.  I glanced through it last night and it contains a lot of specialized parts that would be useful to a ham radio hobbyist or someone converting a bus into a motorhome.  I called and requested a catalog and had a nice chat with Debbie.  She was willing to provide me with additional catalogs that I can give to members of GLCC and CCO at the Back-to-the-Bricks and/or Surplus & Salvage per allies in August and September respectively.  She was also willing to show up in person and give a brief presentation on her company and hand out the catalogs.  Cool.

Brock had to leave after which Butch and John decided to go to the shooting range along with a third guy whose name I did not get.  I went along to see the range and watch what they were doing.  Butch had home-brewed some shotgun shells for his Ruger revolver and wanted to test them.  They caused the revolving chamber to jam so they will require some additional work.  John had a new semi-automatic pistol and wanted to see how it handled.  He also had ammunition he had loaded with bullets he had cast and wanted to test fire them.

I was offered the opportunity to shoot but declined.  I have never handled a pistol and it would have been a waste of good ammunition.  I did take a class in rifle marksmanship while I was at the University of Missouri – Columbia many years ago.  I was in the Air Force R.O.T.C. Program at the time and thought I should know something about how to handle a firearm.  Learning to handle a pistol correctly would have been more relevant, but I do not recall a course being offered for that.  I bought a Ruger 10-22 rifle at that time, and I still have it.  It’s a .22 caliber semi-automatic rifle designed to look like an M-1 carbine and features a 10-round rotary clip that is flush to the bottom of the stock when inserted.  I was only interested in shooting at paper targets so I added a scope to it.  It is safely tucked away with a trigger lock on it, but I have not fired it in many, many years.  I should probably bring it to Twelve Mile the next time we come down, let Butch inspect and clean it properly, and take it to the range just for grins and giggles.

John and the other guy went back to Logansport from the range.  When Butch and I got back to the house he continued working on the driver side front wheel of their bus.  I helped a little, but mostly by taking photographs for a possible future article.  After putting tools and parts away we sat and relaxed for a while and then all of us went to Logansport for dinner at Pizza Hut.  It was 8:45 PM by the time we got back so everyone said “good night” and turned in for the evening.

2015/04/22 (W) Chillin’ in Twelve Mile

Yesterday looked and felt more like winter than spring with gray, cloudy skies and blustery, cold winds.  The temperature overnight dropped into the mid-30s but we were toasty warm under blankets with our electric heating pad turned on.  I got up at 7:30 AM and turned on the thermostats.  The temperature in the kitchen was reading 63 degrees F but the temperature by the dashboard was only 53.  The Aqua-Hot has performed very well since I rebuilt the blower bearings and quickly brought the temperature in the coach up to 70 degrees F.

We put on our sweats and walked over to Small Town Brew for coffee and conversation with owner Lisa Paul and whomever else might be there.  Three local guys were enjoying their morning brew when we arrived.  They eventually left and were replaced by others.  Most of the patrons seemed to be retired or semi-retired farmers.  One fellow, Lee, chatted with us at length about a canvas covered hoop barn he put up.  It was constructed using laminated wood hoops rather than steel, was 30′ wide by 70′ long and cost about $4,000 15 years ago, although I was not clear whether that included the 4-foot high poured concrete walls.  He already owned concrete forms and the heavy equipment that one finds on farms, so he was able to do a lot of the work himself without renting equipment or hiring contractors.  Still, it has to be the lowest cost way to create a structure for getting our bus out of the weather and out of sight.  It is unknown, however, whether the Township and County would let us to put it up.

Butch left at 8:30 AM for medical appointments in Logansport and Fonda came over at 10:45 AM to gather up Linda for a girl’s day out.  Linda wanted to go to McClure’s Apple Orchard on US-31 between IN-16 and US-24.  Although it is very close to Twelve Mile Fonda had never been there.  They were then headed to Peru.  Although it is the same distance from Twelve Mile as Logansport and Rochester it is the city that Butch and Fonda visit the least.  Peru’s claim to fame is that it was the birthplace of Cole Porter and Emmet Kelly and was the winter home of several circuses many, many years ago.  I believe there is a circus museum there that Nick Russell wrote about in the Gypsy Journal.

With no bus project or social interactions I settled in to work on my blog and await everyone’s return.  It started out sunny this morning but by 11 AM was thickly clouded over and looking wintery with blustery winds.  The only bus project I had in mind to do today was to pull out the chassis batter tray, check the circuit breakers, disconnect the batteries, swap the upper 12 V pair with the lower 12 V pair and reconnect them.  It was not something I wanted to do alone and I did not have to do it today, especially under cool, windy, overcast conditions, so I ended up not doing it.

Linda and Fonda eventually returned, having first gone to the Walmart in Logansport.  Linda picked up some hummus and Snyder’s sourdough pretzels so we snacked on those for lunch.  Linda then hung out with Fonda while I continued to work in blog posts.  Butch finally returned from his medical appointments and busied himself with something.  Whatever it was, he was not outside working on their bus and neither was I.  I managed to get the post for April 1 – 3, 2015 uploaded to our blog.

Linda and Fonda developed a plan for dinner.  Fonda made a nice salad and baked a loaf of par-baked bread that we got from Marilyn.  Linda made black beans and rice and prepared a mix of fresh blueberries and strawberries for dessert.  Linda and I each had a glass of Franzia Red Sangria.  After taking all of dirty serving containers back to our coach we returned to the house to visit a bit longer and finally returned to our coach just after 9 PM.  That left me enough time to pull together the posts for April 4 – 6 and upload it before turning in for the night.

2015/04/23 (R) Return to Michigan

I was awake at 6:30 AM and finally got up at 7 and put on my sweats.  The Aqua-Hot was already on so I turned up the thermostats and turned on the engine pre-heat loop.  I also turned on the Broan cube heater and pointed it into the cockpit as the temperature on the dashboard was only 50 degrees F.  I walked over to Small Town Brew, got a cup of coffee, and said “so long for now” to owner Lisa Paul.  Linda was still asleep when I got back so I fixed a couple slices of toast for my breakfast, turned on our Verizon Mi-Fi, and settled in to take care of a few e-mails.  Linda finally got up and, as I suspected, had not slept well last night.  She had some toast and orange juice but had no interest in coffee, a strong indicator of just how tired she was and not feeling completely well.

When she was done with the toaster I turned the cube heater off and turned the electric block heater on.  The overnight low temperature was forecast to drop into the upper 20’s and starting the big Detroit Diesel at that temperature is hard on the engine so I wanted it nice and warm before I cranked it over.

Butch had an appointment with an ophthalmologist in Indianapolis around noon and had some other things to do down that way as long as they were there so he and Fonda planned to leave by 9 AM.  He came to our bus just before 9 AM to let us know they were close to leaving and that he put an air hose out by the automotive bay so I could fill the front tires on the bus if needed.  Based on the readings from our TireTraker TPMS, however, no adjustment was needed.

We planned to leave sometime after they did but not later than 10 AM.  The main reason for not leaving sooner was to give us time to digest our breakfast, but the other reason was our relatively short drive today to Camp Turkeyville, an RV park on I-69 just north of I-94.  This will be the first time I have been in Michigan, which I certainly consider home, since we left on November 30, 2014.  Turkeyville is only 80 miles from our house, but we will have a full hookup site so we can dump our waste tanks tomorrow morning and not need to use them on the final short drive to the house.

We started getting ready to leave around 9:45 AM.  I shut off the block heater, put Butch’s air hose away, and then took care of the chassis batteries, auxiliary air, and shorepower.  The DD fired right up and I switched it to high idle while it built air pressure.  As soon as the chassis was at ride height and the air dryer purged I pulled onto IN-16 pointing eastbound and pulled into the curb/parking lane.  That was around 10 AM.  I left the engine idling while Linda pulled the car up behind the bus.  By the time we hooked up the car for towing, checked the lights, and pulled away it was closer to 10:20.  I noted that the time was 10:30 AM EDT as we pulled onto US-31 N from IN-16 E.

Traffic was light and we had an easy run up US-31 to US-20 except for the 15-20 MPH crosswind from the WNW.  I also had a very cold breeze blowing into the cockpit by my feet and had to turn the heat up to stay comfortable.  We were an hour into our trip when I finally realized that I had not opened the air supply valve for the shutters on the two front house air-conditioner condensers which are installed in what is normally the spare tire bay.  Those shutters are held open by a spring and held closed by air pressure.  When they are open air can easily find its way into the cockpit.  There is also a mechanical damper that is supposed to regulate fresh air flow to the cockpit, or cut it off completely, but the flexible actuator cable broke some time ago and the damper/cable are difficult to access so it has not been repaired.  Either the cable broke with the damper in the closed position or I taped some sort of cover over the air inlet once upon a time because once I closed the shutters for the A-C compressors I no longer had cold air coming in by my feet.

Traffic was heavier on US-20 eastbound but it always is as it runs just south of South Bend and Elkhart, Indiana, and a bit north of Goshen.  It is still a limited access highway until east of Elkhart, so it moved along up to that point.  There was one stretch between there and Middlebury where major construction was taking place, but we got through that easily enough.  After that it was a nice, rolling, 2-lane highway and we rolled along at 55 MPH except for the occasional town on intersection.  We always enjoy driving through this part of Indiana.

We turned off of US-20 onto I-69 N, crossed into Michigan at 12:53 PM EDT, and pulled into the Michigan Welcome Center five minutes later.  We only had 37 more miles to our destination but we both needed a short stretch break and I wanted to open the air valve for the A-C shutters, which is in the bay under the driver’s seat.  We resumed our trip and exited I-69 at exit 42 around 1:45 PM, crossed over the highway, and traveled the 500 yards to the Camp Turkeyville entrance.  We followed the long, wide, winding entrance road and stopped at the office where Linda got us registered.  They put us in a 50A full hookup pull-through site with easy access that was long enough for us to leave the car hooked up for towing.

We went through our usual arrival routine and then Linda fixed a light lunch of French Country Vegetable Soup and a tofu hotdog on pita bread with mustard and relish.  She also made a pot of coffee.  We connected our WiFiRanger to the RV Park Wi-Fi system but did not seem to be able to move any data so we turned on our Verizon Mi-Fi and connected the WFR to it.

Linda spent the afternoon reading a book on her iPad and I mostly worked on my blog post for April 7, 8, and 9.  I had 14 photos for that post but inserted them into the post rather than put them in a WP image gallery.  I logged into our personal WordPress site, installed WordPress 4.2, and then installed updates to plugins and themes.  Once that was done I uploaded the blog post and uploaded/captioned/inserted the photos and generated the tags.  I clicked the “Publish” button about 7:10 PM.

Linda put dinner on the table about 10 after I finished working.  She made a nice tofu scramble, a dish that vaguely resembles scrambled eggs, and served it with toast and jam, a small glass of juice, and black seedless grapes.

I thought about working on my blog post for April 10th, as it is the last one for which I have photos, but I was too tired to get involved in that tonight.  We pointed our front OTA TV towards Battle Creek and Kalamazoo, found the local CBS station, and watched a couple of episodes of The Big Bang Theory and whatever else was one.  We caught some local weather and decided to enable the diesel burner on the Aqua-Hot, turn the thermostats on, and set the temperatures for 60 degrees F.  The overnight low temperature was forecast to be 27 and it was already 29 when we went to bed.  Welcome to Michigan in late April.

2015/04/24 (F) Touchdown

I awoke at 6:30 AM to an outside temperature of 27 degrees F.  Our coach has several ways it can be heated if we are plugged into adequate electrical power, including three electric toe-kick heaters.  I turned on the Aqua-Hot diesel burner and electric heating element last night before going to bed and left the living room and bathroom thermostats turned on with the temperature dialed back to just under 60 degrees.  I also turned on the Broan cube heater, dialed back the thermostat, and set in on the step to blow into the cockpit.

I got up at 7:15 AM and put on my sweats. It was 60 degrees F on the kitchen counter, but the refrigerator adds some heat mid-coach.  The thermometer on the dashboard read 53.  I turned the thermostats up to 68 and turned on the Aqua-Hot engine preheat loop.  I also turned on the front electric toe-kick heater.  I made coffee and then turned on the electric block heater for the engine.  I checked e-mail and monitored our amperage while I waited for the coach to warm up and for Linda to get up.  We were drawing about 30 A on Leg 1 and 20 A on Leg 2.  On a true “50 A” RV electrical service with a main circuit breaker that functions correctly we can safely draw 40 Amps on each leg, so our usage was not going to trip any breakers.

By 10 AM the temperature was up to 40 degrees, the sun was shining, and it’s was delightfully cozy in the rig.  I got a call from Michele Henry at Phoenix Paint in response to an e-mail I sent her yesterday and talked to her for 15 minutes.  We had planned on a 10:30 AM departure but by the time I connected the sewer hose, dumped the waste tanks, and put the hose away it was 10:45.  We had the bus and car ready to travel by 11AM and pulled out of our site.  We had to wait for a few minutes until someone moved a 5th wheel which they had temporarily parked in the middle of a two-way road while waiting to get into their site.  We finally made our way out of Camp Turkeyville and pulled onto I-69 N at 11:13 AM.

We had an easy run to our house and our wheels “touched down” on our driveway at 12:45 PM.  Even the dirt roads for the last two miles of our trip were in reasonably good shape, which made for a nicer homecoming.  We opened the house, put the cats in their carriers, and took them inside.  I got the bus plugged in and the air shut off while Linda put the batteries back in the water softener and sanitizer and turned the well pump on.  I turned the gas back on for the kitchen and fireplace and then set all of the thermostats up to 65 degrees F.  We unloaded a few things from the bus and then had lunch, after which I sent text messages to both of our children and to Chuck Spera to let them know we were home.

After lunch we unhooked the car from the bus and continued unloading the bus but did not get everything taken off.  I was tired and took a long nap, only getting up when Linda told me it was time for dinner.  We had a Daiya Mushroom and Garlic pizza.  We have used Daiya vegan cheese for a while but did not know they made pizza products until we saw them at the Dierbergs Market in Edwardsville, Illinois.  It had a thin, crispy, rice flour crust (gluten-free), lots of garlic and cheese (of course), and was very tasty.  I wish we could buy them near our house.

After dinner I called Butch to let him know we made it home safe and without any new or reoccurring bus issues.  He had reassembled the driver side steer wheel and discovered that the new brake drums he got from MCI some time ago are the wrong ones, so he is going to have to track down the correct ones next week.

2015/04/25 (S) Return to Regular

Do you remember when OTA TV stations used to break in to programs with special news bulletins or emergency alert tests?  At the conclusion of such interruptions the announcer would say “we now return you to your regular programming.”  Having spent most of 61 years living in stationary dwellings we still consider being back at our house to be the baseline for our regular lives.  The last two years, however, we have spent half of the year, more or less, living in our converted motorcoach.  That fact, combined with the fact that we moved to a new-to-us house just before we started our extended traveling, has altered our perception of what constitutes “regular.”  All we know for sure is that living this dual lifestyle is our new normal and we like it.

Whether living at home or in the bus we have routines.  Part of our “at home” routine is Saturday morning breakfast with our friends from the South Lyon Area Amateur Radio Club (SLAARC) and that is how we started our day.  We took our usual route to South Lyon and were surprised by the extent of the construction work at the I-96 and US-23 interchange.  We knew this interchange was scheduled to be rebuilt starting this year but as of March 1st, when Linda last drove through there, work had not started.  A lot has happened since then, and from the look of things this is going to be a BIG project.

There were a LOT of people at breakfast, 24 by Linda’s count.  It was good to see our friends and ease back into ham radio talk.  The club president, Harvey Carter (AC8NO), had the personalized club jackets we ordered from Sunset Sportswear in South Lyon over the winter so we got those from him after we were all done eating.  The jackets are dark blue with fleece lining and yellow embroidery that looks very sharp.  The left breast says “South Lyon Area” on top and “Amateur Radio Club” underneath.  On the right breast is our first name (in script) on top and our call sign underneath in block letters.

We stopped at Barnes and Noble on the way home to pick up a gift for grand-daughter Katie and found two books that we thought would interest her.  One was on rocks and gems and the other was on snakes, both of which are interesting to Katie.  Both are also an integral part of the desert southwest where we spent the winter.

When we got home I set about the tasks of moving various pieces of technology from the entrance foyer to my basement ham shack/office, reconnecting it to power and our network, and starting it up.  I started up our Linux box but the video driver would not “catch” so I shut it down and restarted it in Windows 2000 Pro, updated the es|et nod32 anti-virus database, and installed three Microsoft updates.  I checked e-mail on my primary laptop, responded to a couple, and then installed updates on all of the websites I manage.  WordPress just released version 4.2 and each new release triggers a flurry of plug-in and theme updates.

Our daughter, Meghan, had arranged for us to come over mid-afternoon to visit and have dinner without the bother and fuss of fixing a big meal.  Minn, the female cat, hid immediately but Inches, the male cat, hung around for a while.  Grand-daughter Katie is working at Pizza House in Ann Arbor where he dad, Chris, has been the general manager for a long time, but she got off work and arrived just after us followed by Chris, who had run out to pick up dinner at Seva.

Our son, Brendan, daughter-in-law Shawna, and grand-daughter Madeline showed up a little later, and Inches promptly disappeared.  Madeline is very sweet and interacts with her two kitties, Gus and Iggy, just fine but our cats, and Meghan’s/Chris’s cats, disappear whenever she comes to visit.  They are just not used to the size, motions, and sounds of a 28 month old.

Seva is a vegetarian restaurant that has been a staple of the Ann Arbor restaurant scene for many years but recently moved out of downtown to a location on the far west side of Ann Arbor.  While not just around the corner from Chris and Meghan’s house it is much closer, and easier to get to, than driving into downtown.  Many of their menu items are vegan, or can be made vegan, and that is mostly what they ordered.  We had a nice visit with excellent appetizers and main dishes, a dozen choices in all, and a nice Riesling wine from Washington State.

After appetizers we distributed the gifts we had picked up for everyone.  Besides Katie’s books Madeline got a “Dr. Seuss” book about deserts and a t-shirt from Marilyn with a design on the front that changes color in the sunlight. Both of our children, who kept an eye on our house for us over the winter and took in our mail, got the following:  A bottle of Red Chile Wine from St. Clair Winery in Deming, New Mexico; a bouquet of pequin chiles from Hatch Chile Sales in Hatch, New Mexico; a box of Prickly Pear Cactus jellied candies and a jar of Prickly Pear Cactus jelly from Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona; a bag of Green Chile Pistachios from Eagle Ranch (Heart of the Desert) in Alamogordo, New Mexico; a two box set of olive oil and peach balsamic vinegar glaze from Queen Creek Olive Mill in Queen Creek, Arizona; and a non-stick grilling mat from the “Big Tent” RV Show in Quartzsite, Arizona.  We appreciate what they do when we are away which would be more complicated for us without their assistance.

We enjoy looking for gifts that are unique to the areas we visit and tend to limit ourselves to items that are consumable so no one has to find room to store or display something, at least not for very long.  We saw many wonderful art and craft objects this winter but they present a special challenge beyond simply getting them home.  We are no longer collecting “things,” as we already cannot display or store the stuff we have, and our children are in somewhat the same situation (which is why we still have a lot of stuff instead of them having it).

Then there is the matter of taste.  Both children have their own taste in art and have carefully arranged items for display on their walls and shelves.  As much as we might like something, and think someone else might like it, buying art for other people is fraught with peril because there is an implied expectation that it will be displayed.  If it is displayed but the recipient does do not like it then the gift is intrusive.  If it is not displayed the giver is disappointed and potentially offended.  Better to stay clear of all that by avoiding surprise gifts.  The exception is if we know they are looking for something in particular and we come across one.  In that case it is a simple matter to take a photo with one of our smartphones and message them to see if they want it, making it clear that “no” is an acceptable answer.

Madeline goes to bed at 8 PM so she left (with her parents) at 7 PM.  Both Minn and Inches came out shortly thereafter to have a bite to eat and get the attention they had missed for the last four hours,  We stuck around for another hour which gave us just enough time to get home before it got really dark.  Brendan and Shawna had kept/used Linda’s Honda Civic all winter. They came in two cars and went home in one so that Linda could get the Civic back to our house.  There is a chance that she will have to go into the bakery a day or two this week and I do not like be without transportation, especially when we have a lot going on.

We sat in the living room for an hour reading and relaxing with our favorite iPad apps/games but without the benefit of our natural gas fireplace logs.  I lit them when we got home and they operated for about 60 seconds and then shut off and would not relight.  I turned the pilot flame off and will deal with that tomorrow.  I went to bed, read for a while longer, and then went to sleep.


2014/09/28 (N) Oh Canada

Today was all about company—getting ready for company and having company—and this time our company was from Ontario, Canada.  Okay, they actually drove down from Frankenmuth, Michigan where they are staying at an RV Park, but they are Canadian citizens who reside in Canada when they are not traveling in their motorhomes.  Bill and Karen are fellow converted bus owners and members of both the FMCA Great Lakes Converted Coaches chapter and the Converted Coach Owners group.  Mike and Kathy have a purpose built class C motorhome and often travel with Bill and Karen.  Kathy is Bill’s sister.

Linda spent the morning preparing vegan lasagna and apple/pear crisp for baking later in the day while I worked at my desk on secretarial and financial duties for our FMCA Freethinkers Associate Chapter.

Company arrived a little after 1 PM.  Linda took the ladies on a tour of the house while I took the guys on a tour of the property and then showed them around the house.  We had guys’ chat and gals’ chat for a while and then we all gathered around the table on the deck for some grapes and pretzels.  Linda put the lasagna in the oven at 3 PM and prepared a salad.  When the lasagna was done she put the apple/pear crisp in the oven to bake while we ate.  We sat down at 4 PM for dinner and had a very nice meal that included Italian bread and olive oil seasoned with pepper.  We opened a bottle of our 2009 Egri Merlot (it may have been our last one) and four of us had a small glass with dinner.

We continued our conversation on the deck after dinner and had our dessert out there. It was an absolutely perfect late September day.  When the sun got low in the sky we moved inside as it cools off quickly and the mosquitos come out.  We sat in the living room and talked until 9 PM.  By then it was dark and they still had a one hour drive back to their RV Park.  Kathy had rinsed off the dinner dishes, so Linda loaded the dishwasher and started it.  Linda packed her computer and gathered up all of the things she needed for tomorrow so she could get an early start for the bakery.  I will be home all day waiting for Bratcher Electric to show up and convert the whole house generator.  They are supposed to be here between 1 and 3 PM.  Karen took a few photos but I did take any, so I do not have any images to post from today.


2014/08/16 (S) Bus People

We enjoy the company of our fellow “hams” (amateur radio operators) and so our first destination this morning was the Senate Coney Island in South Lyon for the weekly SLAARC breakfast.  It was a much smaller turnout than last week, but that often leads to better conversation for the lower noise level if no other reason.

Converted bus people are also our kind of people, so our second destination today was the Fireman’s Park in Clio, Michigan where the joint CCO/GLCC “Back-to-the-Bricks” rally was taking place.  There were 22 rigs in attendance, 19 of which were converted buses.  We got there around 11AM and spent the afternoon visiting with whomever was around, starting with Pat and Vickie Lintner.  Light rain moved in during the early afternoon and we had a nice visit with our friends from Ontario, Bill and Karen, in their bus.

With a few exceptions we knew all of the attendees and they all knew us, so this was a comfortable reunion with old and new friends.  We had a chance to talk to Glen Williams, who runs a clock repair business named Tenor Clocks, about our broken grandfather clock and made an appointment for him to come work on it on Wednesday at noon.  (Glen is also part of a four man singing group named “Three Men and a Tenor”.  Glen is the Tenor.)  We were most cordially invited to stay for dinner but we had not paid to attend the rally and there was very little food we could (would) eat so we left around 6 PM as the group was assembling for the evening meal.

We stopped at the Panera in Fenton on the way home and enjoyed their black bean soup and Mediterranean veggie sandwich, hold the feta cheese.  Once home we enjoyed a small glass of Late Harvest Vignoles wine from Acres of Land winery in Kentucky while we worked on our iPads a bit before bed.


2014/04/01 (T) No April Fool

Today marked the one year anniversary of Linda’s retirement from Metropolitan Baking Company where she was the controller/treasurer and HR person for 10+ years and the outside CPA for many years before that.  She is still working for the bakery as a consultant, which was part of the reason for her return to Michigan in late February, but she has also been learning how to be retired over the course of the past twelve months.

Carriage Travel Club members.  How to tow a 5th wheel RV in style!

Carriage Travel Club members. How to tow a 5th wheel RV in style!

This is now the 5th month in which I have been continuously away from “home” even though the number of days is less than 120 and will only be 126 to 129 days by the time we return to our house.  That may be the longest I have ever been away from a fixed/permanent residence in my life.  The only time that would come close to that was my first year in college when I lived in a dormitory for the school year.  Even then, it was two semesters with a break in-between, and the semesters were only about 14 weeks in duration as best I recall.

Carriage Travel Club banners.  They have ~70 rigs at WCRVR all week for a rally.

Carriage Travel Club banners. They have ~70 rigs at WCRVR all week for a rally.

I was reading a post in Nick Russell’s Gypsy Journal blog the other day where he provided answers to FAQ’s he often gets from readers.  One of them had to do with the definitions of “full-timer” and “extended-timer.”  As Nick pointed out, there are no official definitions, but common sense (and usage) suggests that full-timers do not have a fixed dwelling to which they can return while extended-timers do, even if they are rarely or ever there.  How much time do you have to spend in your RV (land- or water-based) to be an extended-timer?  Again, there is no definition, but common sense (and usage) suggests that it is more than 3 – 6 weeks’ vacation usage and less than full time.

Since Linda retired one year ago today we have spent the following time traveling and living in our converted motorcoach:

  • 59 days – (early Jun to early Aug). MI, IN, IL, IA, SD, WY, MT, ND, MN, WI, MI.  Two rallies in Gillette, WY (FMCA and SKP) and a 2-week SKP HFH build in Sheridan, WY plus visits to national parks;
  • 6 days – (mid Aug). Clio, MI GLCC/CCO Back to the Bricks rally;
  • 10 days – (mid Sep) MI, IN, MI Twelve Mile, IN and GLAMARAMA13 rally in Goshen, IN;
  • 12 days – (mid Oct). MI, OH, KY, TN, VA, WV, OH, MI. SKP Photographers BOF photo workshop/rally in Townsend, TN.  GSMNP and camping with family in VA;
  • 103 days – (Dec 19 – Mar 31).  MI, OH, KY, TN, GA, FL.  Mostly in north central Florida; our first season as snowbirds.

That’s 190 days; more than half of the last twelve months.  We don’t have a numerical target, but our sense of how we want to blend RVing with living in a fixed house is to be in the RV for 6 –  8 months out of any given 12 month window but probably not gone for much longer than four months at a time.  It won’t always happen that way, of course, but on average that seems like a comfortable balance to us at this time based on our limited experience and current circumstances.

While going back and forth to the laundry building I stopped and chatted with Jeff for a while.  It appears they have developed a problem with the 12VDC house system in their motorhome.  They noticed it the previous evening as a diming of their lights and then realized the refrigerator did not want to work, even on propane.  I mentioned that we had just had a refrigerator problem and had stored our food in the refrigerator in the Activity Building kitchen while we got it sorted out.  I suggested how he might go about isolating the problem but did not jump in to try to solve it as there was another guy there also giving advice.  Too many cooks creates more problems than it solves.

We went to Satchel’s for an early dinner; our final opportunity to enjoy their excellent vegan pizza.  In addition to John and Ali we were joined by Kevin, Sharon, Ian, and Pat.  We had essentially the same pizza as before; hand-tossed thin crust with pesto base topped with mushrooms, onions, and sun-dried tomatoes.  Instead of the Daiya non-dairy cheese, however, we had the cashew cheese.  Instead of being shredded and evenly spread around the pizza it was in quarter-sized chunks like small mozzarella balls.  It resulted in a different pizza, but it was just as good as the other pizzas we have had there.  I also had the ginger pop.  They make it in house from real, fresh ginger.  The last time it was a bit weak, but today it was the best yet.  The ginger was so strong that burned slightly.  Exquisite.

Work continues at WCRVR on refurbishing the Pullman train cars.

Work continues at WCRVR on refurbishing the Pullman train cars.

The weather had been perfect all day so after we got back we sat around chatting with John and Ali and were joined by Jack and Silvia who were just finishing their evening walk.  We had a small glass of Trader Joe’s Pinot Grigio.  This is one of the wines Trader Joe’s sells for $2.99 a bottle. Our assessment was that you get about what you pay for, but in all fairness Pinot Grigio is a wine we normally drink with a meal, not as a before or after dinner drink.  We were also having grapes for “dessert” and their sweetness probably made the wine seem dry by comparison.  I do not care for dry wines, especially as a before or after dinner drink.  We will try the rest of the bottle with a meal and see if our first impression was off base.  We would love to find a $3 wine that we really like.


2014/01/04 (S) Rally Articles

Our site at WCRVR with our sign!

Our site at WCRVR with our sign!

Our sign.  (Normally reserved for 4 month or longer stays.)

Our sign. (Normally reserved for 4 month or longer stays.)

In addition to writing blog posts I have written three articles in the last five months on RV rallies.  One was on the GLCC/CCO rally last August in Clio, Michigan and was the cover story for the October issue of Bus Conversion Magazine.  I wrote an article on the September 2013 GLAMARAMA rally for the November issue of our GLCC newsletter.  I rewrote that article from a different perspective and BCM ran it as the cover story for the January 2014 issue.  Although different from writing a personal blog, these articles still retained the perspective of personal experience.

Our patio and picnic table.

Our patio and picnic table.

Gary Hall, the owner/publisher of BCM, knew we planned to attend the Arcadia Bus Rally in Arcadia, Florida between Christmas and New Year’s and asked if I would cover the event for the magazine, which I agreed to do.  That made for a different experience, putting me in the role of a reporter with a publisher and editor expecting an article by a certain deadline.  We returned to Williston Crossings RV Resort on the 1st, got settled in on the 2nd, I got to work on the article on the 3rd, and had a complete draft by bedtime today, although I still needed to have Linda proof-read it in morning and then send it off to the rally organizers to fact check.  I will spend the next two days selecting and processing photographs.  I also heard from Gary and Mike Sullivan, the BCM editor, that the article was back on as the Feb 2014 cover story, putting me on a short timeline to get it to them.

The fire pit at WCRVR.

The fire pit at WCRVR.

I can work at this kind of task for long periods of time, but eventually I have to get off my butt, move around, and clear my head.  Williston Crossings RV Resort is an excellent place for walking and I went twice today with Linda.  (She does her first/power walk in the morning without me.)  Resort volunteers build a big fire in the covered fire pit on Friday and Saturday evenings unless there are high winds.  The fire pit is surrounded by rocking chairs and benches and is a social event for some of the resort residents, especially those, like us, that hail from more northerly places.  We went over after dinner, sat by the fire for 90 minutes, and made some new acquaintances.  While most of the residents were hunkered down avoiding the temperatures in the upper 40’s we felt like we were on a fall camp out back in Michigan, complete with a smoky campfire. 

New friends around the campfire at WCRVR.

New friends around the campfire at WCRVR.


2013/12/31 (T) Good Bye 2013

The final day of the Arcadia (Bussin’) Rally featured breakfast, seminars, meetings, tire kicking, preliminary departure preparations, dinner, door prizes, and a New Year’s Eve party with a live band.

Tin Can Tourists.

Tin Can Tourists.

Once again breakfast was coffee, juice, donuts, and bagels.  But we didn’t have to cook it or clean it up, and it was the first social activity of the day, so it hit the spot.  The building was already decorated for New Year’s Eve with sparkly signs and ceiling streamers.  Although celebrations are really about the people, the room decorations added a festive touch.

CCO meeting.

CCO meeting.

After breakfast I went over to photograph Frank Morrison’s GMC PD4014 “Cool Cruiser” and interviewed him about it for a possible BCM featured bus article.  The coach conversion was originally done by an architect in Flint, Michigan and the interior is different because of that.  Frank bought the bus from him.

CCO meeting.

CCO meeting.

The morning seminar was on GPS and mapping technology with Tom Mason.

Paula and Jack Conrad, Bussin’ Rally founders.

Paula and Jack Conrad, Bussin’ Rally founders.

We did not attend the morning seminar because the Converted Coach Owners (CCO), which we belong to, had a meeting at the same time.  There were approximately 15 people in attendance.  CCO is a small, independent group of converted bus owners most of whom are from the lower Great Lakes area, so this was a pretty good turnout for being so far away from home.

Roundtable discussion with Howard Best.

Roundtable discussion with Howard Best.

After the CCO meeting I had the opportunity to talk with Jack Conrad at some length about the rally and get a few pictures of him and Paula.  Jack and Paul started the Bussin’ Rally in December 2000 (the 2001 Rally) and turned it over to Bill and Brenda Phelan after the 11th one in December 2010.  Acadia Rally 2014 (Dec 2013) was Bill and Brenda’s third as organizers and hosts.

New Year’s Eve Dinner.


The afternoon seminar was a roundtable discussion lead by Howard Best.  With respect to owner-converted buses the knowledge and experience that assembles at the Arcadia Rally is probably unmatched by any other such gathering during the year.  Even with 100 buses and 200 people, the Arcadia Rally was very relaxed and these experts were very accessible.  Throughout the rally participants ambled from bus to bus and stopped to chat.  Sometimes they pulled up a chair and sometimes you would find their heads in a bay discussing a technical issue.  It was just that kind of event, and has been since it started in Dec 2000.

The last meal of 2013.

The last meal of 2013.

The afternoon seminar was followed by bingo with Bob Ernst calling the action once again.  Linda, Karen, and Kathy came over to play, and Linda had bingo on the first card!  I think she’s hooked.

This dress was entirely covered with pull tabs from cans.

This dress was entirely covered with pull tabs from cans.

As the day went on we noticed quite a few people making preliminary departure preparations and decided we should do the same.  We had hoped to not have to dump our tanks until we got back to Williston on the 1st, but we were getting low on fresh water which usually means our waste tanks are nearing full.  We dumped our holding tanks, filled the fresh water tank to the 2/3rds mark, stowed the water hose, and put lawn chairs away.  All that remained to do on the outside for tomorrow was stowing a step stool, a couple of mats, disconnecting the electrical shoreline and stowing it; turning on the chassis batteries and engine accessories air switch, and hooking up the car for towing.  The inside usually takes less than an hour to get ready and we typically deal with that about 90 minutes before we plan to pull out.  We don’t like to do this too soon as once the interior is prepped for travel it is more difficult to use for living.

The food servers for the last meal of 2013.

The food servers for the last meal of 2013.

At 5:15 PM we headed over to the activities building with Bill, Karen, Mike, and Kathy for dinner.  A centerpiece had been added to each table and about half of the rally goers had changed into dressier clothes.  Like last night’s meal, there was a serving line to get your food.  Volunteers staffed the various serving stations, and it was a smooth, quick process.  Dinner included spaghetti with marinara sauce (no meat, thank you!), veal parmesan, shrimp, green salad (no cheese, thank you again), and desserts, including fruit cocktail (thank you a third time) with sweetened tea, unsweetened tea, and water to drink.  People also brought their own beverages to suit their tastes.

Bill and Karen.

Bill and Karen.

As the band started bringing in their equipment I figured it was going to be a long, loud night, so after dinner I went back to the coach to work in quiet surroundings.  In my absence the door prizes were given out starting at 7 PM.  After the door prizes were distributed a group of volunteers put the New Year’s Eve party decorations on the tables.  These consisted of plastic lei, party hats, tiaras, and noise makers.

Kathy and Mike.

Kathy and Mike.

The New Year’s Eve party got started around 8 PM with country rock band Desert Moon.  We sat with our dinner group at a table in the middle of the room with good access to the main doors.  The room acoustics were very “live” and the volume was dangerously high so Bill and I came and went throughout the evening, finding camaraderie with like-minded individuals who gathered outside the building to talk buses in the cool evening air.  The median age of the rally participants was probably between 65 and 70, and many people left long before midnight and of those who remained many were also in and out of the building.  There were often more people dancing while the band was on break than when they were playing as the volume of the pre-recorded music was lower.  But enough of us stuck it out until midnight to bring in the New Year when Bill and Brenda lowered a sparkling ball from the ceiling while we counted down from 10.  At the stroke of midnight (EST) we all said our “Happy New Year’s,” and then many of us went back to our coaches and went to bed.

Desert Moon.

Desert Moon.

Our children are grown and have not spent New Year’s Eve with us in quite some time, having lives and friends of their own with whom to celebrate the coming of the New Year.  Our tradition for more than 10 years now has been to spend a quiet evening at home enjoying some traditional foods, watching the celebrations from around the world on TV, and finally having a champagne toast at midnight.  We no longer have those foods since we changed the way we eat and we have been busy enough at the rally that it never occurred to us to buy a bottle of “bubbly.”  We did open a bottle of Black Star Arcturos Late Harvest Riesling, which served the occasion just fine, but what we really enjoyed was ringing out the old year and bringing in the new one with old and new friends who share our interest in the converted coach and the lifestyle it makes possible.


2013_08_18 (Sun) Every Rally Has An End

Every rally has an end, and today was the last official day of the Back To The Bricks Rally in Clio, Michigan.  One of the differences between larger national/area rallies and smaller chapter/SIG rallies is the ending.  Larger rallies often end with entertainment or an activity on the final evening.  There are no official/planned activities on departure day.  Attendees have generally come from a large geographic area and sometimes have long distances to travel upon departure, so RVs start leaving first thing the next morning, often as early as 6 AM.  Smaller rallies, by comparison, are often attended by people who are somewhat more local to the rally site, and are already acquainted with the other attendees.  The final day of the rally usually includes breakfast, after which there are still lots of conversations.  RVs start to leave based on personal commitments, but the departure is slower and a bit more spread out.  Some folks may even remain for another evening or so, depending on the rally site.

And so it was with the 2103 BTTB Rally.  Departure day was the fancy breakfast day.  We still had coffee, juice, muffins, Danish pastry, bagels, and fruit—just like we have had all week—but today there were also pancakes, scrambled eggs, and sausage.  (Not for us, of course, but they were enjoyed by most everyone else.)  Even as conversations continued all of us started putting the venue back in order.  Grills were loaded onto trailers, leftover food was divided up among those who wanted it, and we carried six or seven picnic tables from the pavilion back to the meeting building.

I left mid-morning in the car and drove back to the house to get Linda.  A few coaches had left before I did, and more were gone by the time we got back around 1 PM.  By mid-afternoon most of the attendees had departed and by dinner time there were only two coaches left; ours and the Lintners’.  Marty was still at the site dismantling the temporary power drops he had installed for the rally and we invited him and Pat to join all of us for dinner out.  We went back to Sullivan’s Black Forest restaurant in Frankenmuth and had a nice meal enhanced by good conversation.  The Linderman’s Framboise Lambic Belgian wheat ale was just as good tonight as it was this past Wednesday.

Marty dropped us back at our coach and he and Pat went on home.  Pat, Vicky, Graciella, Linda, and I sat outside and talked until it got dark and the mosquitoes started to bite.  Graciella came in our coach to play with our cats and chat for a while until her grandma decided it was time for her to come to their coach and settle in for the evening.  So ended the official last day of the rally for us.  Sometime tomorrow we will dump our holding tanks at a nearby RV business and then head back to our house; we just don’t know exactly when we will do that.


2013_08_17 (Sat) BTTB Rally – Day 3

We continued to have a good weather streak for our rally.  Cool temperatures overnight made for great sleeping and the brisk morning air made the coffee taste especially good at 7:30 AM.  The breakfasts are simple, help yourself, affairs with enough variety that everyone can find something they like while no one is burdened with fancy preparation.  A toaster and bagels ensure that a warm breakfast choice is available.

Carl and Cara Muntean’s MCI MC-8.

Carl and Cara Muntean’s MCI MC-8.

As soon as we left the coach to get coffee, a distance of 40 feet from where we are parked next to the pavilion, we realized that two additional buses had arrived since we turned in last night.  Carl and Cara Muntean’s MCI MC-8 was parked alongside the other building, and behind the building we could just see the nose of a late model Prevost H3.


Coach Quarters (Mike Middaugh) Prevost H3-45 Marathon Executive Coach.

Coach Quarters (Mike Middaugh) Prevost H3-45 Marathon Executive Coach.

The Prevost turned out to be the 2007 H3-45 executive coach that belonged to Coach Quarters from the Columbus, Ohio area.  Mike Middaugh had the coach in the Detroit area representing Prevost and NASCAR at the Woodward Dream Cruise, and came on up to our rally when he was done with that work.  Mike is a member of GLCC and CCO.

A water distribution manifold, Marathon style, where function becomes art form.

A water distribution manifold, Marathon style, where function becomes art form.


This particular H3-45 is a Marathon conversion with an interesting history.  It was in a bad accident and was further damaged while being towed under a low overpass.  It was considered a total loss, and Coach Quarters acquired it.  Mike, however, has been in the converted coach business for a really long time and knew how to get it repaired and back in service.


Marty explaining to Graciella who John McCann is and what it meant for his campaign to use this H3-45 executive coach as their presidential campaign tour bus.

Marty explaining to Graciella who John McCann is and what it meant for his campaign to use this H3-45 executive coach as their presidential campaign tour bus.

The final result was a very nice executive coach that Coach Quarters rents out for day use by up to 14 people who need to conduct business while being driven somewhere.  The coach is used to represent Prevost at events, including the Woodward Dream Cruise.  For example, Prevost is the official motorcoach of NASCAR.  The most famous use of this coach, however, was as John McCain’s presidential campaign bus.


The H3-45 galley features high levels of craftsmanship and style.

The H3-45 galley features high levels of craftsmanship and style.

Mike positioned the coach by the pavilion and opened it up for rally participants to see, including the interior, the engine compartment, and all of the bays.

Late morning I drove Linda back to our house as she had agreed to babysit our 8-month old granddaughter this evening.  I contacted our driveway contractor to see if he’d had a chance to come look at our problem.  He had been there, and had already formulated a game plan for fixing it that involved some additional material with finer particles to help lock the gravel in place followed by compaction by some heavy roller.  Due to current commitments it will take a week or so for him to get back to the house with material and equipment.  I drove back to the rally site and arrived around 2 PM.

Don tracked me down to see if I was still interested in going to see Bill’s bus barn.  I was, and so were three other folks plus Don.  He arranged with Bill for us to head over.  Bill’s barn has doors on both ends, and a concrete floor with a pit.  The pit is not full length, but more than adequate to work on the underside of one end of a bus at a time.  It’s a “pole barn”, but the main poles that support the 12 foot ceiling are set in from either side, with lower sections on either side for storage.  I’ve looked at enough bus barns at this point to see that a concrete floor with a maintenance pit is probably a necessity.  It would also be nice for it to have an 18 foot ceiling so I can work on the roof, and be long enough for a 45 foot coach with a car attached behind it.  A pull-through design with access roads on either end would also be nice, but not necessary.  What I don’t think we need is the extra square footage for storing as much stuff as the barns I have seen.

GLCC president Larry Baker (standing, rear) conducting a chapter information meeting immediately following dinner.

GLCC president Larry Baker (standing, rear) conducting a chapter information meeting immediately following dinner.

From 4:00 – 5:30 PM was the official “open house”, although most of us had already seen each others’ coaches earlier in the rally.  Dinner was pot luck, with grilled chicken provided as part of the rally fee, and there were lots of good things to choose from.



Pat Lintner, GLCC National Director, addressing the members.

Pat Lintner, GLCC National Director, addressing the members.


Immediately following the meeting GLCC president Larry Baker held a brief information meeting.  Pat Lintner, the chapters National Director, also spoke and gave a brief update on the national convention that was held in Gillette, Wyoming in June and the upcoming GLAMARAMA rally scheduled for mid-September in Goshen, Indiana.


CCO meeting about to convene following the GLCC meeting.  President Mark Reid seated, right.

CCO meeting about to convene following the GLCC meeting. President Mark Reid seated, right.

As soon as the GLCC meeting was done most of us moved our chairs over to Mark Reid’s coach for a CCO business meeting.  There was discussion of the upcoming Halloween rally in mid-October, and further discussion about rallies in general.

Some of the CCO members at the meeting.

Some of the CCO members at the meeting.

All of the RV groups/chapters we belong to are facing the same challenge of getting members to host and attend rallies.  No doubt the two things are related and determined in part by peoples’ personal financial circumstances and their general feelings about the economy.  This seems to be a particular problem for groups that are formed around common interests, such as converted buses, rather than a limited geographic area, although even geographic groups are struggling.  Several of us continued to discuss this informally after the meeting, but no one seemed to have a full grasp of the problem or any really good ideas as to what to do about it.

As with every other evening of this rally, the temperature cooled off quickly after the sun went down.  Someone had a “Chinese lantern”.  They lit the firepot and turned it loose.  The flag at the rally site indicated no wind, but as soon as they turned the lantern loose it took off to the west.  It rose to quite an altitude and we estimated that it was moving west at 20 – 30 MPH when we finally lost sight of it.  Most folks turned in for the night after that except for a small group that stayed up and talked until sometime after midnight.


2013_08_16 (Fri) BTTB Rally – Day 2

We had another cool night overnight that was great for sleeping.  7:30 AM found the coffee brewed and the bagels, fruit, muffins, and Danish pastries awaiting the rally participants.  This isn’t a “fancy” rally in a fancy place, but it sure is a nice one.

Mike Mullen’s Flxible (on right), the only one at this rally.

Mike Mullen’s Flxible (on right), the only one at this rally.

Two more buses showed up today; Mike (GLCC vice-president) & Mary Ann Muller and Mark (CCO president) & Diane Reid.  Linda took off with a group of the women to search out garage sales, but came back empty-handed.  (She is not a garage sale person.)  Over the course of the morning bay doors were opened on various buses and small groups of (mostly) men could be found peering deep inside.  These sessions are sometimes for the purpose of seeing/admiring someone’s latest handiwork, and sometimes for the purpose of trying to help diagnose a problem and fix it if possible.  There was some of both today.  On Wednesday, for instance, someone blew a transmission hose just as they were pulling into their parking space.  With the help of some of the other participants, a new hose had been custom made by a local supplier and installed, tested, and verified as operational in less than 24 hours.  Today several guys worked on diagnosing a severe vibration problem someone in the rear of a GM 4104.

Bill Gerry’s Harley Davidson with Leyman trike conversion.  Bill is in the center of the photo, directly behind the bike (dressed in black, of course).

Bill Gerry’s Harley Davidson with Leyman trike conversion. Bill is in the center of the photo, directly behind the bike (dressed in black, of course).

Mid-late morning Bill Gerry showed up on his Harley Davidson Leyman trike conversion.  He left the Toronto, Ontario area around 6:00 AM for the 4.5 hour trip plus several fuel stops.  As you can see in the picture, it’s a gorgeous machine.  Bill is the de facto “ring leader” of the Canadian contingent that usually attends this rally, but he and Karen could not come this year because of a 50th wedding anniversary party being held tomorrow for some of their best friends back home.  (Karen stayed home to help with the preparations.)  Still, I think it says a lot that Bill thought it was worth driving 9 hours round trip to hang out with all of us for a few hours.  Such is the attraction of the bus conversion community, and the camaraderie of those who choose to be part of it.  As mentioned yesterday, Dennis and Bernadette did make it to the rally in their Class B, so our Canadian friends were represented.

Late morning conversations in the pavilion.

Late morning conversations in the pavilion.

Everyone was on their own for lunch today, so Linda and I had some sun-dried tomato hummus wraps with onions, lots of onions.  Because we knew we would only have a 20A connection, Linda planned the meals we would have to provide for ourselves around not having to cook things.  With the way we eat, however, “no heat don’t mean no eat.”  It was a bit warmer by lunchtime than the last few days, and the cold dishes were particularly satisfying under such weather conditions.

Since most of the rally participants were now on site, I decided to bring out the copies of the February 2013 issue of Bus Conversion Magazine and the May-June issue of The Gypsy Journal to distribute to those who don’t already subscribe to them.  We left home in early June with about 60 copies of the BCM issue and picked up about 100 copies of TGJ in Gillette, Wyoming.  We have been carrying them with us every since and passing them out at campgrounds and rallies.  After today’s distribution we have less than 10 of each left.

Almost everyone was present for the roundtable discussion, which lasted two hours.

Almost everyone was present for the roundtable discussion, which lasted two hours.

At 1:00 PM (Ed time) we circled up the chairs for our roundtable discussion.  This has been a regular Friday feature of the rally since it began.  We had 20+ people in the circle, 30 total in the pavilion, and almost everyone participated.  Someone was having a problem with a 2-year old leather chair that was peeling, and the group helped problem-solve how to deal with the vendor, who was being very reluctant to make good on the situation.  We ended up on speaker phone with them, and made it clear that 30 of us were listening to the conversation.  By the end there seemed to be a greater willingness on the part of the vendor to try to make the situation right.

Other topics of discussion included electrical shorepower and how to build/use a combiner box to plug a “50A” connector into two smaller capacity outlets (30A, 20/15A).  Some of us indicated that we also carry long, larger gauge extension cords with 50A RV/marine twist lock connectors that have the L1 and L2 pins internally jumpered.  There’s no magic to this—20A is 20A—but it does allow power to be applied to both legs of the coach’s electrical system so that everything onboard is able to receive electrical power (except for any 240VAC devices).  That doesn’t mean you can run everything; 20A is still just 20A after all.

We had an extended discussion about supplemental braking systems.  While everyone present indicated that they use one, there were several different types represented, and questions about each of their methods of operation, and opinions about their relative merits.  Like any other vehicle, buses have brake systems designed to safely stop their GCWR (Gross Combined Weight Rating).  This is the maximum amount of weight the bus is designed to move and stop, including anything it is towing.  Most states and provinces require supplemental braking for anything being towed that weighs over a certain amount, with 1,500 pounds being a common specification.  A major consideration is break away situations, in which the toad breaks loose from the bus.  Many supplemental braking systems are designed to apply the car brakes hard and keep them applied in this situation.

Several discussants had issues with their pneumatic systems so those were put forward and discussed.  At lot of things on buses operate on air, including suspensions, brakes, accessories, and even engine throttles.  The universal reality about air systems seems to be that they leak, so the issue is never IF, but HOW BAD?  Many air leaks are small enough that you can live with them, but not always.

The subject of Coach-Net came up.  Many FMCA motorhome owners have Coach-Net emergency roadside service policies.  What the policies cover is actually fairly limited, but does include towing (a huge benefit for a bus or large motorhome owner), fuel (if you run out), and telephone technical support.  If you need a roadside repair they will try to get the right person to your location to do it, but the cost of the repair is not covered.  Several of our GLCC members had recently had their service canceled, in spite of not having made any claims.  The reason they were given was that Coach-Net had changed their policy and would no longer cover buses (specifically?) that were more than 40 years old.  Pat indicated that he had talked to Jon Walker, a member of GLCC and the recently elected FMCA National Vice President, and that the contract between FMCA and Coach-Net had ended as of July 1 and not been renewed.  The rally participants who were affected by this had no problem signing up for Good Sam Emergency Road Service.

There was a question about solar panels (photovoltaic).  The question generated a lot of comment, but no definitive recommendations.  It was a systems sizing question that was simple to ask, but not simple to answer without specific analysis and calculations.  Finally, several rally goers reported on recent, successful service experiences and gave positive recommendations for the service providers.

After the roundtable ended around 3 PM Bill said his farewells and left for Toronto.  Folks returned to their coaches, resumed their conversation groups, and returned to their “bay watch” patrols and repair work.

L-to-R Gordy, Marty, and Glenn cooking up the burgers and hotdogs for dinner.

L-to-R Gordy, Marty, and Glenn cooking up the burgers and hotdogs for dinner.

Dinner this evening was classic summer fare; grilled hotdogs and hamburgers with the fixins’, potato salad, baked beans, and potato chips.  Some raw veggies were left over from the other night as well.  We supplied our own tofu hotdogs, which Glenn grilled up for us very nicely.  We garnished them with fresh raw onions and mustard.  Potato chips and raw veggies rounded out our meals, which, while not exactly whole-food, plant-based, were definitely vegan.

Prepping the buffet line.  There were a few young folks at the rally, although not as many as in past years.

Prepping the buffet line. There were a few young folks at the rally, although not as many as in past years.

Not long after dinner Bill Foley stopped by.  Bill is a CCO guy who lives nearby but was not able to attend the rally with his bus.  Bill has a bus barn that Don has been trying to arrange for some of us to go see.  I ended up at Ed’s coach and had a long chat with Ed, Bill, and Don.  We discussed bus barns, but we also talked about the situation with our driveway at some length.

I eventually returned to our coach to sound of the nearby race track.  We have heard these vehicles at various times most days, presumably making practice runs, but we assumed tonight were actual races.  Some of the rally participants started playing bingo in the pavilion around 9 PM.  They were done by 10:15 PM, after which conversation continued along with the racing.  RVers, or at least the ones we hang out with, tend to be up early and turn in early.  This particularly rally, however, tends to keep folks up a bit later, especially on Friday and Saturday evenings.  We are gathered out in the country, not in a commercial campground or state park, so we have only our fellow rally participants to answer to, and no one objects to conversations extending into the evening.  Eventually the rally site quieted down and the only thing that disturbed the nighttime silence was an occasional train.  (For those who don’t know, it is a requirement that wherever two or more RVs are gathered, there must be an active rail line nearby.  If there isn’t, I think there are special crews that get dispatched in the middle of the night to quickly build one.)


2013_08_15 (Thu) Back To The Bricks Rally – Day 1

Today was the official first day of the Back To The Bricks Rally (BTTB), and more of the attendees arrived today.  The BTTB rally is a joint gathering of the FMCA Great Lakes Converted Coaches chapter (GLCC) and the Converted Coach Owners (CCO), an independent group of folks most of whom have done their own bus conversions.

With 22 rigs expected this is one of the largest GLCC rallies of the year and has become an annual event.  It is organized and run by Ed/Janet Roelle, and Marty/Pat Caverly.  Bob Shafer was also one of the original organizers, but now spends his time in Florida and is unable to attend.

The day started with breakfast in the pavilion starting at 7:30 AM, provided as part of the rally fee.  We had coffee, fruit, bagels, Danish pastries, and muffins.  The air temperature was in the upper 40’s to start, but the coffee was very hot so it all balanced out.

Arrival day at an RV rally is always exciting as each new arrival reconnects friends, makes friends of acquaintances, and provides new acquaintances who may become future friends.  Around mid-morning a group of the women went looking for garage sales in the area; a tradition at this rally.

Larry and Alma Baker pulled in around noon; the first new arrivals of the day.  Larry is the current GLCC president.  Pat and Vicky Lintner pulled in with their grand-daughter Graciella, around 12:30 PM.  Pat is the current GLCC national director.  (For the record, Linda is the current GLCC treasurer.)  More arrivals followed and by dinner time we had 15 rigs and folks from Wisconsin who came by car as their bus was out of commission.

As more people arrived, conversation groups formed and disbanded throughout the day.  Converted coaches are usually works in progress, so when converted coach owners get together there are always tours of interiors and lots of looking in bays, and so it was today.

The evening meal was provided as part of the rally fee.  We had a variety of fresh veggies, chips and salsa, fresh fruit, bean salad, and several main dishes including Swedish meatballs and nachos.  Ice cream with toppings was served for dessert.

Most of the attendees gathered in the pavilion after dinner for continued conversations, but it cooled off quickly after the sun set.  Folks who arrived today were also tired as traveling, arriving, and setting up are a bit of work.  By 9 PM everyone had retreated to their RVs for the night.

Larry (L) talking to Ed (R) in front of Ed's coach.

Larry (L) talking to Ed (R) in front of Ed’s coach.

Bill and Barb’s GM schoolie pulling in.

Bill and Barb’s GM schoolie pulling in.

The schoolie with the Clark's 1955 GM 4104.

The schoolie with the Clark’s 1955 GM 4104.

Dennis and Bernadette’s Class B.  (They left their big bus at home.)  Notice the very nice temporary power panel, thanks to Marty's work.

Dennis and Bernadette’s Class B. (They left their big bus at home.) Notice the very nice temporary power panel, thanks to Marty’s work.

Two more rigs in the arrival area.  The driveway into the Fireman’s park can easily handle four rigs with toads and this is where we unhooked our cars.

Two more rigs in the arrival area. The driveway into the Fireman’s park can easily handle four rigs with toads and this is where we unhooked our cars.

Preparation of fresh veggies for dinner.

Preparation of fresh veggies for dinner.

A couple of conversation groups before dinner.

A couple of conversation groups before dinner.

Another group under a patio awning.

Another group under a patio awning.

The long dinner table.  (There was a shorter one off camera to the right.)

The long dinner table. (There was a shorter one off camera to the right.)

Ice cream and toppings for those who wanted it (which was almost everyone).

Ice cream and toppings for those who wanted it (which was almost everyone).


2013_08_14 (Wed) No Way To Start An RV Outing

We planned to leave today around noon for an RV rally in Clio, Michigan, about an hour’s drive north of our house.  We spent most of the morning with final preparations, loading food, clothes, technology, toiletries, and finally the cats.  We also put fresh water on board and checked/adjusted all of the tire pressures.

The tires were holding their pressures fairly well, but I discovered that the Pressure Pro Tire Pressure Monitoring System was reading 1 to 3 PSI low on most of the sensors compared to my tire gauge.  I have a very good gauge and had its calibration checked a couple of years ago at the Eastern Gypsy Gathering Rally, so I tend to trust its readings.  Besides, when it tells me two tires have the same pressure and the Pressure Pro TPMS tells me the pressures are different (from each other) I tend to go with the gauge.

The rear end buried up to the frame.

The rear end buried up to the frame.

The last thing is always to disconnect and stow the shore power line and lock up the house.  I fired up the engine, put it gear, and got stuck in our brand new gravel driveway!  We tried to extricate ourselves, but that only made it worse and the drive tires ended up buried in the loose gravel.  I called the guy who did the driveway work for us to let him know of our predicament and see what he could suggest.  He didn’t have the equipment needed to get us out, but recommended a towing company that could handle vehicles our size.  He also indicated that he would stop by the house tomorrow evening and survey the situation.  Clearly something (else, additional) will have to be done.

The winch really worked!

The winch really worked!

I called Woody’s Towing, and they said they would have someone there within 45 minutes.  While we were waiting for the tow truck, I engaged the level low system and aired the suspension all the way up.  This got the chassis up enough that we could dig out some of the gravel from around the tires and under the rear end.  The tow truck showed up on time.  It didn’t look like a big enough truck to do the job, but it turned to be up to the task.  The secret was the very substantial winch and the use of multiple pulleys to multiple the pulling force.

Impressive tires holes.  We clearly were not getting out of this situation by ourselves.

Impressive tires holes. We clearly were not getting out of this situation by ourselves.

The technician had to position the truck three times to finally get us out.  This was because we had to make a hard left turn onto the concrete driveway that would then take us out to the street.  The first pull was straight forward using both attachment points under the front bumper with the bus engine running, the transmission in 1st gear, the tag axles UP, and me applying power as directed.  This was the hardest pull as we had to get the drive tires out of the rather deep holes they had made for themselves.  The second pull was from the driver side attachment point at an angel toward the driver’s side to get us started in that direction.  This got our steer tires onto the concrete driveway.  The third pull was again from the driver’s side attachment point at an angle, pulling straight out towards the street.  This pull finally got our drive tires off the gravel and onto the concrete.  The holes where the tires had been were very impressive.

The technician from Woody’s clearly knew what he was doing.  He got us out without any damage to the coach, and we were glad to pay the $175 charge.  We hooked up the car and were on our way around 1:30 PM.

We made it less than four miles from our house and encountered a major construction-related traffic jam on M-59 just west of US-23; a one lane road with a flagger.  With no way to turn around and no alternate route there wasn’t anything to do put patiently move ahead when we could.  In what seemed like an eternity, but was probably only 15 minutes, we cleared the construction zone and were northbound on US-23 at 62 MPH, my preferred highway travel speed.  US-23 merged into northbound I-75 at the southwest corner of Flint and we continued on our way.  Things were looking good until about six miles south of our destination exit, when another construction zone had the left two lanes (of a 3-lane highway) closed down.  There was a warning sign some miles before, but almost no indication of the actual lanes closures.  No barrels placed a mile or so before the work to close down one lane at a time; just the sudden loss of two lanes of the highway.  Highway work crews should not be allowed to do this.

Some folks, most perhaps, get on their brakes and stay/merge to the right.  But there are always those “other people” (who are obviously more important than the rest of us) who try to speed by on the left for as long as possible and then merge in at the last moment.  Well, not today bunky.  I was already in the right hand lane when I became part of the traffic crawl and I watched with some delight in my driver side rear view mirror as several vehicles teamed up to block all of the other lanes, including the left shoulder.  We patiently worked our way through the blockage for what seemed like our second eternity today, but was again probably no more than 15 minutes.

All set up at the Clio Fireman’s Park.

All set up at the Clio Fireman’s Park.

We exited I-75/US-23 at M-57 and made our way east through Clio, Michigan.  On the east side of town we headed southeast on Saginaw Road.  About three miles down the road we spotted the Fireman’s Park and made our turn.  The Clio Fireman’s Park is a nice little rally site.  It has an open pavilion with power surrounded by fairly level grass and gravel surfaces, all hard packed.  There is a long driveway leading in that provides an excellent place for arriving RVs to stop and unhook their towed vehicles.  We did just that and while Linda parked the car and went and found Marty Caverly to find out where we should park.  Marty and his wife, Pat, are one of the two that organize and conduct this rally.

All of the other early arrival buses except ours.

All of the other early arrival buses except ours.

Today was early arrival day and there were only five other motorhomes there (all converted buses) so we had our pick of spots.  We chose one we had used before, next to the pavilion and with good access to 20A power.  Marty is an electrician and had been working for days to install permanent and temporary power drops so everyone would have a legitimate 20A connection.  In warmer weather we would not be able to function on a 20A connection, but the weather has been, and is forecast to be, cooler than normal for this time of year with highs in the 70’s and lows of 50.

Part of the protocol of RV rallies is that folks tend to leave you alone while you get parked and set up, but once you are done there is lots of meeting and greeting.  We are expecting 22 converted coaches, and the balance of them will be arriving tomorrow, so there will be lots more meeting and greeting.

Sullivan’s Black Forest restaurant and brew pub.

Sullivan’s Black Forest restaurant and brew pub.

The pre-planned dinner event for this evening was the Black Forest Restaurant in Frankenmuth.  The 13 of is figured out car pooling arrangements and we rode with Paul and Claudiene Elbisser.



The 13 early arrivals at dinner.

The 13 early arrivals at dinner.

I had a raspberry/strawberry Belgian wheat dessert beer and it was freaking awesome!  (I am not generally a big fan of beer and have finally figured out that I don’t care for the bitterness of hops.)  It made a great “cocktail beer” too; think strawberry daiquiri with a hint of beer after taste.  Linda and I ordered a 16” think crust pizza, no cheese, with mushrooms, onions, and pineapple.  What they brought to the table was a pizza with a crust 2” thick.  15 minutes later we got the pizza we ordered, and it was pretty good.

Everyone (except us) enjoying ice cream under the pavilion.

Everyone (except us) enjoying ice cream under the pavilion.

Back at the rally site, we got a tour of Paula and Claudine’s MCI MC-5 conversion.  We last saw it two years ago at this same rally, and they have made a lot of progress on it.  It‘s a very nice design, and Paul is a superb craftsman.  Ed Roelle set up to serve ice cream with toppings, and everyone brought their camp chairs to the pavilion and set them up in a big circle.  Ed and his wife, Janet, are the other rally organizer couple.  We passed on the ice cream, of course, but enjoyed the camaraderie.  As the sun set it got very cool, and folks gradually peeled off from the group to hunker down for the night.