Tag Archives: Mike & Kathy Dickson (ON)

2015/10/14 (W) Frankenmuth Friends

The forecast for today was for cloudy conditions in the morning changing to partly sunny in the afternoon with seasonally cool temperatures; a perfect fall day for our afternoon visit with Bill, Karen, Mike, and Catherine at the Jellystone Park Campground Resort in Frankenmuth, Michigan.

After our usual morning routine of feeding the cats, eating breakfast, and drinking our coffee while reading and writing, we showered and dressed for the day.  We were going to work in the bus on the installation of the desk but decided we did not have enough time and did not want to feel rushed.  We want the installation to be just right the first/only time.

I used some of the morning to continue studying the manual for the new Sony a99v DSLT camera and some of it to put the finishing touches on the FMCA Freethinkers chapter roster and e-mail it to the other officers and members of the nominating committee.  I also got a text message from Chuck inquiring about local service options for the Cruise-Air air-conditioners we have in our buses.  I replied that ours have only been serviced by Butch Williams who is five hours away in Twelve Mile, Indiana when he and Fonda are not in the desert southwest.

We left at 11:15 for Frankenmuth.  We took Linda’s car so she drove.  We stopped at the new Meijer’s in Birch Run for bottled water, grapes, and pretzels.  M-83 was down to one lane and we had a bit of a wait at the temporary traffic signal.  I called Bill to let him know we were there and he was waiting for us out by the road when we arrived at the park at 12:15 PM.

Bill and Karen Gerrie’s 1965 GMC transit bus conversion.  They estimate that it will turn 1,000,000 miles in 2015.

Bill and Karen Gerrie’s 1965 GMC transit bus conversion. They estimate that it will turn 1,000,000 miles in 2015.

Karen had found peanut butter pretzels and had a nice platter of fresh fruit that included sliced kiwi, strawberries, orange segments, and grapes.  She made tea for both of us and we settled in to chat.  Bill and I took up stations at the dinette while Linda and Karen sat on the “Chesterfield.”  We chatted away until 2:30 PM, and somewhere in there Karen made cups of hot coffee.  It was a cool day outside but warm and cozy in their rig.  Bill and Karen have a mid-60s GM transit bus that they acquired and converted in the mid-80s.  They have been coming to the Frankenmuth Jellystone Park from their home in Ontario, Canada for as long as they have had the bus.  It is 50 years old this year and Bill figures it has traveled a million miles between its commercial service and life as a motorhome.  Bill did a nice job with the conversion and it has held up very well over the years

The River Place shopping complex in Frankenmuth, Michigan.  It’s built to look like a small Bavarian village center.

The River Place shopping complex in Frankenmuth, Michigan. It’s built to look like a small Bavarian village center.

At 2:30 PM we drove over to the River Place outdoor mall and walked around”.  River Place is one of the newer developments in Frankenmuth but stayed with the “fantasy Bavarian village” theme of the town in a really nice way.  It is compact complex of buildings arranged with narrow, winding pedestrian corridors that occasionally open up into small plazas.  The façades are all faux Bavarian with the appearance of being two or three stories tall, increasing the sense of being “in” the village.

After checking out River Place, and buying a small bag of jalapeño flavored popcorn, we ambled all the way to the other end of the Main Street shopping district and back.  Along the way we stopped in lots of stores and bought a few things at the health food store that we cannot usually find locally.  The light was wonderful and I captured a few images with my old Sony a100.  I did not bring the new Sony a99v as I was not ready to use it.

This paddleboat travels a short ways up the river and back.  The cascading waterfall is man-made.  The covered bridge in the background handle automobile traffic going to the Frankenmuth Bavarian Inn on the other side of the river from Main Street.

This paddleboat travels a short ways up the river and back. The cascading waterfall is man-made. The covered bridge in the background handle automobile traffic going to the Frankenmuth Bavarian Inn on the other side of the river from Main Street.

We got back to Bill and Karen’s bus at 5:15 PM and sat for a while before going to dinner at 6 PM.  Mike and Catherine joined us for dinner and we walked next door to the Black Forest restaurant.  Our dinner choices were very limited but they had a flatbread pizza on the menu so we tried that with mushrooms and onions, hold the cheese.  The tomato sauce was surprisingly spicy and it made for a decent vegan pizza.  Our side salads were simple but the ingredients were fresh and the whole meal was quite acceptable, made better by the company of friends.

By the time we walked back to Jellystone Park it was 8 PM.  We visited with Bill and Karen until 9 PM and then took our leave.  We probably won’t see them again until the 2016 GLAMARAMA Rally in Goshen, Indiana.  We stopped at the Meijer’s in Birch Run to fill the fuel tank and were still home by 10 PM.  Although I would normally handle night driving I was sleepy so Linda drove us home.



Bill and Karen pose for their “dancing Bavarians” photo op.

Bill and Karen pose for their “dancing Bavarians” photo op.

When we entered the house we were not greeted by our two cats.  We called but they did not come.  This is unusual behavior for them and usually means they are up to something, with the odds highly in favor of something having to do with a mouse.  We found Juniper in the basement “guarding” the folded up corner of one of the throw rugs and I spotted a small, motionless mouse partially concealed by the rug.  It was dead, which is why she wasn’t carrying it around in her mouth playing keep-away with me.  Linda got a small plastic zip lock sandwich bag and I used it to pick up the mouse and seal it inside before putting it in the garbage.

Jasper was nowhere to be found.  In looking around the basement a second time Linda noticed that one of the boxes we keep on the window sills behind the sofa in the recreation room had fallen on the couch.  That was a sure sign that Jasper was up in the suspended ceiling.  He has gotten up there before via that window sill and the boxes were there to keep him from gaining access to that space.  Apparently they were not the deterrent we thought/hoped they were.  We called for him and eventually he responded verbally.  He then stuck his head around the edge of the ceiling and looked at us upside down.  He eventually decided it was safe to come down but seemed unsure of how to accomplish that.  I moved the other box on that window sill, stepped up onto the arm if the sofa, and helped him down onto the sill, into my arms, and then onto the sofa.  In some was he is just a big baby.

We had no way of determining whether he stayed up there because he wanted to or because he wasn’t sure how to get down but regardless was rather insistent on getting attention from us.  That desire for contact and comfort followed us into bed until he finally gave himself a bath and then curled up next to me to go to sleep.  I worked on this post for a while and then turned the lights out.


2015/09/27 (N) Super-Harvest-Blood-Moon Eclipse

We were up at 7:30 AM.  I got dressed to work and made coffee.  We had our usual breakfast and coffee and then got busy.  I worked in the bus while Linda picked up the house.  We had company coming in the early afternoon and wanted the house and the bus to be presentable.

I sanded the wall behind the sofa using the Porter-Cable 1/4 sheet palm sander we bought yesterday at Lowe’s in New Hudson.  I started with 80 grit paper, switched to 120 grit, and vacuumed up as much dust as I could see.  I then gathered up tools and materials and put them in the garage.  I wanted the steps to be safe so I removed the three rusted screws from the old step between the copilot floor level and the main floor level and temporarily reinstalled it.

With Linda’s assistance we put the sofa platform back in place and screwed it down.  We moved the desk pedestals out of the way and I brought the bases out from the garage.  We set the bases in place, put the pedestals on top, spread them apart, and inserted the connecting cover that goes between them.  We aligned the parts so they looked OK but did not screw them back together or to the wall and did not put the temporary plywood top back on.  We removed the painter’s plastic and towels from the chairs and disposed of them or stored them as appropriate.  Linda vacuumed thoroughly and then I took the vacuum into the house.

I showered, shaved, and dressed while Linda vacuumed in the house.  I was settling in to work on my iPad when she informed me that the display on the main thermostat was blank.  I assumed initially that it needed a new battery but it turned out that this thermostat does not have a battery, at least not one I could find ad replace.  This thermostat controls the heat for the living room, dining room, and kitchen and the air-conditioning (cooling) for the entire main floor.  It is also Wi-Fi enabled so we can monitor and control it via the web when we are away.  We are not running the furnace or the A-C at the moment so the loss of this unit was not a crisis but it was still troubling.

I did not want to get involved in diagnosing and fixing this problem at that exact moment but I checked the other three thermostats to see if their displays were working.  They were, and since all of the thermostats get their power from the same transformer it was clearly not a failed transformer or open circuit breaker.  Thus it appeared to be a power supply problem to this particular unit.  I tightened the wire connections on the solenoid valve for this zone but that did not fix the problem.

At least three possibilities occurred to me at that point: 1) the thermostat had failed, 2) The power is routed to the A-C air handler before going to the thermostat and a wire/connection got disturbed when Rebecca was in the attic, and 3) the solenoid had failed and was no longer passing power.  Although the system is simple enough I am not an expert on how it is wired so there might be other possible explanations and I did not have a way to determine the likelihood of each possibility.  Cooler weather is coming this week so I will have to get this resolved in the next few days.

I settled in to use my iPad to finish Friday’s blog post, write Saturday’s post, and start today’s post.  Bill, Karen, Mike, and Catherine showed up around 2 PM.  Bill and Karen are members of a couple of bus groups we belong to and Cathy is Bill’s sister.  They are from the greater Toronto area of Ontario, Canada and are staying at the Jellystone RV Park in Frankenmuth from mid-September through mid-October.  After greetings all around Bill and I went to the bus so he could see what we have doing while everyone else settled in.

When Bill and I came back in everyone else was sitting on the deck behind the house munching on grapes and pretzels while chatting and swatting hornets.  A week or so ago we left one of the hummingbird feeders on the table and the hornets had discovered it.  Even though we removed it and fogged the area this morning they kept returning.  Linda had me fetch the fly swatter from the bus so we could deal with them more effectively.  She brought out some of our ICE brand fruit flavored water.  Our guests had not seen this product before but seemed to enjoy it.  At least they each finished the bottle they had selected.

Linda started final dinner preparations with Karen’s assistance.  Dinner was cheese burgers, vegan potato salad, and collard greens Cole slaw.  Linda bought real beef patties and real cheddar cheese for our guests but everything else was vegan, including our burgers and cheese.  She cooked the burgers on the grill but we ate inside.  Linda made a frozen chocolate torte for dessert and served it with fresh strawberries.  We did not realize that Catherine does not eat chocolate or strawberries so we felt bad that she did not get dessert even though she said she was not hungry at that point.

We retired to the living room to sit more comfortably and continue chatting.  Jasper appeared from wherever he had been hiding (sleeping) and made friends with everyone.  Tonight was the rare conjunction of a Supermoon, Harvest Moon, and a full lunar eclipse that was also a blood moon.  It was cloudy at sunset/moonrise but gradually cleared off.  When Bill, Karen, Mike, and Catherine were leaving at 10 PM the eclipse was near full and fully visible we watched it for 15 minutes during which time the last wisps of clouds moved off to the north leaving a clear, star filled sky with a large, dark, reddish moon.  The next full eclipse of a Supermoon occurs in 2033.  I will be 81 then and fully intend to see it.

We relaxed for a while, reading and writing and checking on the moon, before going to bed.  By 11 PM the earth’s shadow was passing and the sun was once again illuminating the left edge of the moon.  I checked again at midnight and the eclipse was mostly passed.  It had been cloudy most of the day and we were fortunate that it cleared off in time for us to see this relative rare event right from our yard.  Relatively dark night skies is one of the advantages of living a little ways out in country.


2015/06/03 (W) GLAMARAMA 2015 (Day 1)

Today was the opening day of the 2015 rally of the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) Great Lakes Area MotorCoach Association (GLAMA).  We were expecting three more arrivals from our Great Lakes Converted Coaches (GLCC) chapter but only two of them made it in before the 5 PM parking cutoff.  Jim and Lydia Marin, who parked next to us at Elkhart Campground on Sunday, arrived during the morning while Linda and I were out running errands.  Larry and Alma Baker arrived mid-afternoon.

Linda and I had our usual breakfast and then left around 8:30 AM.  Our first stop was Martin’s supermarket on US-33 northwest of downtown Goshen where Linda ordered the food for our chapter social tomorrow.  She and Karen Gerrie will pick up the deli trays, chips, pop, plates, napkins, and eating utensils tomorrow just before the social begins.

When we were done at Martin’s we continued up US-33 towards Elkhart, took CR-20 over to SR-19 and followed that north to W. Franklin Street where we headed west to the Elk Park Industrial Park and Paul’s Seating.  We met with Paul who was as helpful as he could be but it was basically a wasted trip.  He did not have a showroom, did not have additional information about the products shown on his website, and no longer carried any form of barrel chair.  His business appeared to mostly be recovering existing furniture, although later in the day we were looking at Pleasureway motorhomes (made in Elkhart) that featured furniture from Paul’s Seating.  It did not impress us as the highest quality RV furniture we have seen.

Paul suggested we look at MasterCraft for barrel chairs.  Linda pulled them up on the web browser on her phone.  They were in LaGrange, Indiana, which was quite a drive to the east on US-20, and did not have anything illustrated on their website that looked like the kind of chair we wanted/needed.  We went back down US-33 to Goshen, stopped along the way for a soft pretzel at Ben’s, and then returned to the fairgrounds.

I made phone calls to Isringhausen, Suburban Seating, Villa International, and Glastop RV Furniture.  I chatted with someone at Isri, Carlos at Suburban, Melanie at Villa (in Elkhart), and Peter from Glastop.  The calls to ISRI and Suburban were in connection with getting an ISRI 6800/6832/6860 bus driver seat.  The calls to Villa and Glastop were for barrel chairs.

We sat outside our coach for a while and chatted with Mike Dickson.  He and Kathy are in the Jayco Class C next to us.  We eventually got hungry and Linda made faux deli slice sandwiches for lunch.  By that point I was ready for a nap and slept for about two hours.  We had some of the seitan stroganoff for dinner around 5:30 PM.  I put on my nice GLCC shirt and at 6:05 PM we took the GLCC chapter flag over to Building A to line up for the opening ceremonies.  I thought I could handle the flag alone but we decided to have Linda help carry it.  She was wearing her Desert Bar T-shirt so she went back and changed into her GLCC shirt.

The opening ceremonies started at 6:30 PM.  After the presentation of the Canadian and American colors, the singing of both national anthems, the pledge of allegiance to the U.S. flag, and a very religious invocation, we had the parade of chapter flags.  That was followed by the introductions of a long list of FMCA dignitaries and announcements.  Fortunately it was all done by 7 PM.  There was a short break before the Frustrated Maestros started playing and we took that opportunity to return to our coach as did many of our other chapter members.  Several groups of us stood around and chatted until it got chilly and we all went inside.  The rest of the evening was spent in our coach using our iPads.


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.