Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Memorial Day Weekend

This time last year me and Chris were on our way back home from our trip out to Front Royal Virginia. I would've loved to have done a similar adventure with a different destination this year, but with money being scarce and the price of gas being damn near off the richter scale ($3.60) these days, we only got as far away as our campsite at Whiskey Creek for the long weekend.
The weekend started a bit earlier when my boss told me I could take off about 2:00pm. So I was home and loading up the truck when Wanda got home. We were finished packing and heading out the driveway right about 4:00pm. We got there a bit after 5 and by 5:30 I was busy mowing the "front yard" while Wanda made supper. After eating I went back to mowing until the light started to give up on me and then it was time to start a fire and kick back for the rest of the day. I managed to stay up almost till midnight.

Saturday morning, after taking the dogs for a walk and eating breakfast when we got back, the first project for the weekend was to get the "deck" fully stabilized and installed. That ended up taking longer than I anticipated and it was after 3:00pm by the time I had the supports buried and leveled and the deck sections back in place and bolted down. I also cut up some of the extra boards to finish off the front of the deck and give it an enclosed look. I even cobbled together a interim step until I can get some more lumber. I must say it turned out nicer than I figured it would and it'll be even nicer when we have a rainy day (or night) and we're up out of the dirt and mud.

After the deck project was finished it was time to take a little trip into Custer to hit the grocery store for dinner fixin's. We were having Tacos for supper so we grabbed some lettuce, tomatoes and some other stuff that just looked good and headed back for camp to make the meal. By the time we finished the meal it'd started to spit rain and continued on for several hours. Nothing too bad....just enough to be annoying. By Campfire time it'd stopped so it really didn't effect the ambiance of the evening. I managed to stay awake almost till midnight before I gave it up and headed for my side of the mattress pad.

Sunday morning started out cloudy but by the time I got back from my walk with the dogs the wind had picked up and blew most of the clouds away. I made breakfast for everyone again and the decided that with the major project behind me, the deck, I would to tackle the next thing on my list, the back half of our little opening in the woods. I raked, pulled up ferns (damn ferns....) and mowed the grass. By the time that Wanda, Chris and two of the 4 dogs headed for home at 1:30 I had it looking much better. I continued on after they left for awhile and then decided to take a break and hike up to the clubhouse to watch and see how their auction to raise funds would go. There wasn't a whole lot of anything to bid on, except for a nice lawnmower I couldn't afford to bid so after about a half hour of watching the procedings I headed back for camp and decided to make an early supper. On the menu, leftovers from saturday night. I made myself a big ole taco salad, warmed up some cheese in a jar and feasted with my 2 four legged buddies.

After dinner I hooked the dogs up to their leashes and we took an extended walk, further than we normally go, around the outside perimeter of Whiskey Creek which led us eventually back to the lodge where I placed an order for a chocolate shake before heading back for the campsite. Neither Mercury or Bailey were too happy with me for not sharing my ice cream but I just didn't have a spoon handy, sorry guys. Once we got back to camp that was about it for the evening. I got a fire going and kicked back to rest up from 2+ days of campsite maintenance.

Monday morning found me up about quarter to 7 so I grabbed the leashes and we all went for a walk around the grounds. An hour or so later I was cooking breakfast for us.....sausage and pancakes all around. After the meal was completed I grabbed the rake and continued on working on the backside of the lot. I also spent a while cleaning and reorganizing the shed so that everything was in it's place. It was just about 1:30 when I decided I'd had enough of the work thing for one weekend and that I was just plain wore out so I locked up everything, shut off the water, fired up the truck and headed out of the compound for home. I was back on pavement before I realized that I never shot any pics before I left of the improvements made over the weekend. Guess you'll have to wait a week or two to see how the finished deck looks.

We got home about 3:30, took a shower and a nap and felt much better. And that's about all I have to say about Memorial Day weekend 2007. Time to call it a day now. night.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Car Shows and Campfires

Well, it's that time of year again and the weekends are gonna be flying by for the next several months. This past one was no exception to the rule either. I spent most of Friday evening spiffing up the hot rod for the first car show of the season The west Michigan Burn Survivors Car show at 5/3 Ballpark in Grand Rapids. http://www.burnsurvivorcarshow.com/

The weather was a bit on the iffy side when we got up (early) Saturday morning, but after waiting all winter to get back out there again I decided staying home was not an acceptable choice and headed off to G.R. I pulled in and registered as car #76. By the end of the day there were a tad bit over 500 registered cars for the event. It wasn't long after I got parked and got things situated that the sun broke thru the clouds and it got downright nice outside. I did what I usually do at car shows, got the camera out of the bag and proceeded to wander the parking lot, shooting pics as I strolled around.

I ran into Ron and spent a little time talking with him about what's been going on since I saw him last, last fall at Jeannies. Turns out he'd been thru a couple jobs, a couple moves and was now back in Holland again, trying to work things out with the x-wife. So, just more proof, not that I needed it, that the road is bumpy for alot of folks. He's trying to get the Sunday evening Steak and Shake cruise-ins going again, now that there is no more Jeannies, and I'll probaby take a cruise down there some Sunday evening and pay a visit.

The time just pretty much zoomed by and before I knew it, it was time for awards. I packed the display stuff up at that point and then went over to see who won what...When the last name was announced I was just getting ready to put the key in the ignition and fire the beast up. We were back home a bit before 4:00 and immediately set about throwing stuff in the pickup for a trip up to the campsite for the remainder of the weekend.

Chris decided to go along so Mercury was the only dog that got to go along this trip. We arrived at the campsite about 6:30 and I set about making dinner. It had been getting cloudy during the drive up and once we arrived it started to get quite dark in the northern sky and started to spit some rain as we ate supper. It never really rained all that much though and wasn’t really an issue. I took Merc out for a walk after eating and by the time we got back it was pretty much dark. The rest of the evening was spent pretty much in chairs around the campfire. We both nodded off to sleep at some point and I woke up just before midnight and decided it was time for bed. I woke up Chris who was sprawled out in the love seat chair and we headed for the camper.

Sunday morning I was up at 6:30, too early for teenagers to be up yet so me and Merc went out for a morning walk. It was cool and cloudy but at least not wet. During our hike we scared up several deer. Other than that didn't see much in the way of life. When we got back to the camper I decided it was time for breakfast so I mixed up some pancake batter, cooked up some sasages and made some scrambled eggs for the kid.

After eating it was time to work so we cranked up the chain saw and disposed of the stack of logs we had piled up over the last couple weeks. That took us a cou;le hours just to do that.....We also finished burying the wire for the landing strip lights. The big project for the weekend though was the Skids that we brought up with us that were going to become the new deck off the camper. We unloaded them and put them in place temporarily until next weekend when I get them leveled, bolted together and cleaned up. Gonna water seal 'em too like I did with the outhouse. The big joke is now that these skids came to Dake from Italy so we're calling the deck our genuine Imported Italian wood deck! :-) Goes good with the Flushing Amish Outhouse. Lord knows what's next.

By the time it got to be 4:00pm we decided we were tired, hungry and done for the day so we packed up, locked up and headed for home.

This weekend coming up already is Memorial day so we have an extra day to burn. The plan is to go up Friday night and come back home Monday afternoon. We'll see how the weather acts but that's the plan at the moment. Time to call it a day right now, I'm beat.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

One Week In May Makes a Big Difference

Man, when we were up camping the previous weekend there was a hint of green in the trees but this past weekend when I went up Saturday for the day it was a different world. The leaves were mostly out, the grass I'd mowed last weekend was already up a couple inches and the ferns were popping out of the ground, almost overnight it seemed. A little bit of warm weather goes a long way this time of year. We'd kinda planned on going up for the weekend again but as the week wore on plans changed and I ended up going up for the day Saturday just to keep on with the work detail.

I spent most of Thursday and Friday evening switching the tires from the van to the pickup and vice versa. The van ain't being driven much these days with the motor issue so I decided to take the almost new tires on the van and put 'em where they'd do the most good. Not only does the extra tread make the truck drive better, the shiny chrome wheels make it look pretty spiffy too! :-) While I was going thru the tire switching process I was contemplating what if's with the van and decided over the weekend to put a for sale sign on the ole girl and see if I can get what I figure I should get out of her. I still need to wash the outside and vacuum the inside, clean the windows and get her looking as good as I can then we'll see if there's any interest.

Anyhow, Saturday I got up fairly early and was up at the campsite by 10:30am. I spent the entire day going from one project to another and got quite a bit of stuff done. Put in the lights on the other side of the driveway and started burying the wire....didn't get that part done all the way though......I drilled holes in my posts and put in the eyebolts that will eventually hold the chain or cable or whatever I get to string across the driveway entrance when we're not there. I took another load of firewood up with me and got all that stacked up nice and neat. I spent several hours with the chainsaw running trying to diminish the size of the brush pile. I got rid of about a 1/3 of it, there's more wood in there than it looks like from a distance.

By the time I needed a break from the chainsaw It was almost 5:00pm so I took a hike up to the lodge on the offchance there might be somebody there in the kitchen. When I got there I found I'd stumbled into the middle of a birthday party for laverne, one of the ladies that helps run the lodge, so even though there was no one cooking hamburgers I ended up eating very well....sloppy joes, meatballs, potato salad and even a piece of chocolate birthday cake.

After the inpromtu feast I headed back to camp to get a little more work in while there was still light to see by. At one point during the evening there was about 8 / 10 deer across the road, grazing on the fresh, green spring grass out in the meadow. It was almost 9:30 before I'd gotten everything put away and locked up and fired up the truck for the ride home. Got back to town right about 11:00 and then after a half hour power nap in my chair downstairs I woke up and ended up downloading music until almost 4 in the morning.

Sunday morning came too early cuz of the late night so it was almost 10:00am before I had the bike fired up for the Mother's Day trip up to Big Rapids. I went by myself and tried to use the ear buds hooked to the Ipod for some music on the way, but it didn't work real well between the lack of volume on the Ipod and the wind noise coming in the helmet. The weather was a tad on the brisk side so by the time I got to the folks house I was chilled. It took a half hour and a cup of hot cocoa to stop my hands from shaking. We spent the afternoon talking and spent alittle time on the computer and had a good meal to celebrate the day. Before I knew it, it was 5:00pm and time to make the return trip. I was hoping for warmer weather on the way back but it didn't happen and in fact the nearer I got to the lake the chillier it got. I made a stop on the way back at John's Produce, the place where I bought the outhouse from, and did some shopping and surveying for a future trip. I bought a genuine, authentic, metal ammo box in lovely army green that I plan to use in the campsite outhouse as a place to store Toilet paper where the damn mice can't get to it. Let's see 'em try to chew their way thru an metal ammo box! By the time I got home I was chilled again so I made some supper and then took a hot shower. And that's about it for this past week. Got plans to go to camp for the weekend again this coming weekend but it's up in the air until we see what the weather's gonna be, but I'll probably go up one day at least just to continue with the maintainence program. We'll see how it goes.


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The First Overnighter for the Season

I was gonna write Sunday night but by the time I got sat down I was done for the day. It was a very busy weekend and I'm paying for all the activity with a stiff back today. Gonna be a couple days before I can stand up straight again without working at it.

The weatherman said the weather for the weekend was gonna be real nice. It wasn't bad but it was cooler than predicted and very breezy all weekend. It wasn't a hardship though so we're good.
Wanda, Chris, Belle and Jasper all took off ahead of me and were just getting to the campsite as I left work. I got home, loaded up the stuff I needed plus Bailey and Mercury and we were on our way up North by 5:45pm. Got there right about 7:00pm and not long after our arrival we were sitting down to a dinner of hamburgers and chips and dip. Rianna and her friend Sarah were at the camp when I got there, busy setting up their tent. I helped a bit with that and then decided it was time to start a fire before it got too dark to see. The girls decided there was some stuff that they needed to get from town (Ludington) so we jumped in the truck and headed for the local Meijers. By the time we got back from there it was almost 10:00pm. Wanda and Chris were the first ones off to bed, about 10:30, followed by the girls not long after. I would've liked to stay up late and enjoy the fire but the truth of the matter was that I was pooped and in bed before midnight.
Because I went to bed early, I got up early and decided to start the day by taking a walk around the place with Bailey. We went up to the lodge just to see what was going on and found that they're open for business and cooking breakfast. Good info to have for those weekends when I go up by myself and don't feel like playing chef mountain man. While we were there we got one of the Private Site signs to put up at the campsite. We took the long way back and by then other folks were stirring. I decided to get busy and run the mower over as much of our territory as I could, dragging away the branches and debris in the process.

After several hours of hard labor it was time for a break and a trip into the Ludington Home Depot. I went specifically for a couple things, that I got, plus a couple more things that weren't on the list. First I picked up a couple of 4"x6"x 5' posts to put at the end of the driveway. I'm going to eventually have a chain hooked from one side to the other just to make a point when we're not there. I had also been toying with the idea of accent lighting down both sides of the driveway so when I saw that they had the lights I wanted on sale at 50% off....well.......I bought two boxes of 'em. On the way back to camp me and Chris stopped at a little joint in Scottville called the desert barn and I got one of the best malts I've had in quite awhile. Gonna have to stop back there again and see if it was a fluke or not.

Once we got back to camp I fired the lawnmower back up and continued on with the reclaiming of the wild areas. It wasn't long after that it seemed and it was time for dinner. The girls had gotten a fire going and on their expedition into town had bought some cast iron cooking gear that they were going to try out by cooking dinner over the open fire. When we finally sat down to eat it was a feast for kings, or at least well-to-do mountain men. Huge Pork chops and corn on the cob was the menu and it tasted fantastic. We all stuffed ourselves. The girls get a big thumbs up for their efforts!

After the meal I busy reading the instructions for the installation of the accent lights. It went surprisingly well and by the time it was dusky I had a string of 10 lights from the water pump down to the street. Unfortunately to cover that much distance I had to use the cable in both boxes so I could only get the one side done this weekend. I've already gotten a 100' coil of wire for the other side and next time we go up I'll get the other side installed. Hopefully the ones already in position will still be there at the end of the summer....we shall see.
Saturday night went pretty much like Friday night, off to bed fairly early, before midnight. Between my heavy eyes and the wind it sounded like a good idea to get horizontal.

Sunday morning I was up early again and this time took both Bailey and Mercury for a hike. We went down Sippy road a ways and shot some pics of the blossoming green trees and the water before heading back to camp to make breakfast. It was still windy and kinda cool but I wanted a hot breakfast anyhow so I started off with scrambled eggs and sasage for the wife and then made pancakes for the girls and myself. After breakfast it was back at it with the lawnmower. I mowed a path from the campsite down to the road on the other side of the camp so we'd have a bit of a shortcut if we were heading for the lodge and just spent awhile clearing all the downed timber and stacking it up for later.

The girls all left for home and Bingo about 1:30. So while Chris put a couple coats of paint on the picnic table I finally got around to emptying the can of Thompson's Water Seal on the outhouse. It may require a second can / coat to really be effective, we'll have to see how it goes. About 4:00pm we decided we'd done enough for one weekend and started packing, unplugging and locking up everything. It was almost 7 by the time we got back home. I got the washing machine going with a load of towels and then tossed Mercury in the bathtub. I had forgotten there were parts of that dog that were actually white....whew what a mess but he looks (and smells) loads better now. By the time I was done, washing, blow drying and combing him out it was time for the wife to show up at home.
All in all a nice time, even though it was a bit too windy for my tastes. The fact that I can't stand up straight without extra time for the screaming muscles to get up to speed kinda sucks too but I guess after 8 or so months of laying around, waiting for the warm weather to return, I got soft! Time for bed now. We may or we may not go back up next weekend....kinda depends on the weather and finances. Stay tuned.