Monday, June 30, 2008

A Weekend At Home For Trip Preparation

Well here we are in the final hours of June, 2008, already. I know I say it all the time but damn that went by quick!
It was a quiet week this past one. Didn’t do much of anything constructive during the week and hung around the house for most of the weekend. We did go up to Quicks Tuesday night for the Cruise-in. There was a good sized crowd and we wandered around for a bit, checking out the rides until they started calling off the ticket numbers. After that it was back home again.
The biggest thing that happened was going to Muskegon’s Summer Celebration Saturday night to see Jonny Lang and Kansas. If you want to read about that adventure then hit this link….
We got our “economic incentive” check Saturday morning so we went to the bank and split that up so now the trip out west is a 100% go. After we got back from the bank I went and put up the tent to check for leaks and problems. It looks like it’ll work out just fine with a bedroll.
Sunday I had a couple things in mind to do but the weather was cool and cloudy and it looked like it’d rain anytime so I ended up snoozing on and off in the chair until Wanda left for Bingo. Once I got up and going I grilled some chicken legs she’d gotten ready and ate a good meal. That was followed by a cruise down to the beach with the intention of walking on the pier with Mercury but when we got down there it was windy and cool enough to be uncomfortable without a jacket, which I didn’t have so we went back home and started getting stuff around the trip.
Tonight and for the rest of this short week I’m spending time making sure I’ve got what I need to make the ride comfortable and staying pretty close to home. Still gotta do some route planning and surfing for events that’ll be happening while I’m there but for the most part I’m just gonna play it by ear and see what happens.
I won’t be writing again until I get back and probably not soon after either. I’m planning on starting a new website of just the trips we’ve taken over the years and this one will be the road test for the web site to see how well it works out. I’m gonna keep notes on the events of each day so I don’t forget anything….not that I would mind ya…..just a precaution
See ya when I get back from my own little “wild Hogs” adventure.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Weekend Of Solitude, Fresh Air And Exercise

Now that it's officially summer I guess it's safe to say that it's going by quickly. No surprise there. Here it is the 24th already and one week left before we head into July, which I'm sure will go by even quicker.
As I said last week I had nothing big planned for the week and true to my word I didn't do much of anything. I should be working on painting the garage, or at least cleaning it out and organizing my work area, but rather than get that ambitious I did some work on the sideyard that needed doing. Cleaned up the huge pile of leaves from last fall along side the garage and got out the hedge trimmers and cut back the spirea bushes so there was room to walk between them and the dog pen again. Just doing that killed a couple evenings and I'm not done yet. I've done even less so far this week than last but I will get out there and finish it up before it snows again.
During the week it came to light that the wife was going to have to stay home for the weekend because of a special event at the high school so I determined that I was going up to camp anyhow. Christopher didn't want to go along cuz of the girlfriend in town so Friday afternoon after work I packed up some stuff in the truck quckly, Opened the door so Mercury and Bailey could jump in and headed up north to camp. We made a stop in Muskegon at a lady I work with's house and picked up a "sit and spin" that we had plans to use at camp. More on that later.... We got there about 7:00 and after opening the place up I set about making myself a hamburger for supper. After dinner we all jumped in the truck and headed up to the lodge to see if our favorite girl was there to make us a malt. She was and after paying the lady we took a ride around the roads while we polished off the ice cream. When we got back to camp I got a fire going and we spent the rest of the evening taking turns snoozing around the firepit.
Saturday morning I got up early so I pulled the leashes down and the 3 of us took a hike for about an hour, down past the lake and back around thru the hills. When we got back it was time to make breakfast, bacon and eggs over easy. I was going to start off quietly but by the time I finished eating the guy across the way already had his tractor out so I pulled out the mower and fought with that damn thing for about 10 minutes until I gave up, jumped in the truck and headed into Scottville for a new spark plug. That trip killed an hour easy so when we got back I put the plug in, gave the old thing a couple serious pulls and it decided to come to life. I spent the next couple hours mowing the east side. I took a break about 1 and made a PB & J sandwich for lunch and then ended up napping for an hour.
After recharging I fired up the mower again and went after the ferns that had taken over the tire swing. I also mowed out an area where I wanted to plant the remaining pine trees. Once the mowing was done I undid the tire from the tire swing and replaced it with the large, circular plastic seat that had been the largest part of the Sit and Spin. The tire just wasn't getting was heavy, hard to swing on and retained water in the bottom half. The light plastic disk from the Sit and Spin worked great. I put several knots in the rope to hold the seat in place and then gave it a test with my bulky frame. I figured if it could hold my fat ass in the air for a couple swings back and forth then it'd hold anybody else likely to get on it in the days and months ahead. I also had to restack one of the woodpiles as it had decided to fall over again. This time I didn't stack it quite so high. By the time I got that done it was time for supper. I got out all my fixin's to make tacos and had a small feast. I gave each of the boys a plate too, minus the shells and their plates were cleaner, quicker than mine.
After dinner I decided a shower would be a great idea so I grabbed a towel and the shampoo and headed up to the lodge. After a nice long, hot shower I had the girl make me my chocolate malt and we did a repeat performance of the night before, riding around the place until it was time to go back and get a fire going. I got out the guitar and actually played it for awhile. Once my fingers got too sore to play I put it away and turned on the Ipod for the remainder of the evening. It was a beautiful night, lots of stars and night sounds, owls coyotes this time though....we all finally gave up and went to bed about 12:30
Sunday was another busy day. I didn't get out of the sack until Mercury's insistent pawing got me going. It was 8:30 by then so I set about making breakfast right away. We all had pancakes and bacon and then I started right in on digging a shallow trench from the deck to the outhouse to lay the patio blocks flush to the ground in. There hadn't been a cloud in the sky when I got up but that changed and while I was laying the blocks it started to sprinkle, which was good cuz it got rid of the gnats. After a while though it started coming down hard and with the thunder and lightening there was nothing else to do but get under the awning, put some Lyle Lovett on the Ipod and take a break.
A short nap later the sun was shining again so I got up and finished the patio walkway. After that project was finished I got the wheelbarrow and shovel and went about planting the rest of the pines that we didn't get to a couple weeks ago. The next project after the pine planting was complete was to get the weedwacker out and clean up the east side of the driveway, down by the road. Once the weeds were gone I hauled the big rocks me and Chris had gathered up last time and put them in a nice row down to where the trees started. By the time I got that done I was runnning out of gas so I decided to finish off the day with some more mowng down on the east side. I wanted to finish cleaning up that section but it was slowing going and I just ran out of gumption and decided to call it a day, It was 5:00 by then and it took an hour to clean up, put things away and lock stuff up so we got head home. I got in the truck after putting the chain up and started heading down the road before I remembered I didn't take any pics of what I did, but I was too tired at that point to care so next visit I'll shoot pics of my "improvements". I never took one shot all weekend. Pretty abnormal for me.
We got home about 8:00 and after a shower and some crummy pizza for supper I was pretty much done for the day, It was a beautiful weather weekend and I really enjoyed just bumming around with my 4-legged buddies. We'll more than likely be doing that again come fall and the football season.
One more thing I wanted to mention that I haven't mentioned in awhile was the road project.They started tearing up our sidewalks and street last week and so I got out there and took some pics of what it looks like around here these days. It's a pain in the butt to get in and out of here on the bike and the hot rod cuz of the very bumpy dirt road but so far it's not been too big of a's gonna be going on until the end of September so we'll just shut up and make the best of it.
More next week.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Live Music, Road Trips, Strawberry Moons & Hot Rods

Since Thursday I've been going pretty much non-stop......well, I did take a long nap Saturday morning, but other than that it's been busy. We made our trip to Ann Arbor Thursday to see the Refugees and it was a good time all around. If you want to read about the trip and the concert just click on this link.
We'll start with Friday here...It was a long day at work running on 3 hours sleep but I managed to last. After supper the time was spent cleaning and polishing the hot rod for Sunday's show at Chalton Park until it got too dark to see it.
Saturday I got up pretty early cuz I woke up early, but after a couple hours of sitting around (Baaad Idea, I shoulda got up and got outside and did something) I nodded off again for awhile. when I woke up I got up and headed out to the garage to push the hot rod back out and continue on with the cleaning and polishing. It was about 2:00pm when I remembered about the Feast of the Strawberry Moon Festival over on Harbor Island so I put the car away, jumped in the truck and headed over there with the camera gear and kid in tow for a couple hours. The festival has grown quite a bit since it's inception and there was lots to see. Many eras and nationalities were represented with everything from candle making to an old time lathe were on display. I find the old stuff pretty amazing.....even more so if you look around at what all our technology builds for us these days......look at difference between old buildings with their scalloped designs and intricate brick patterns (I noticed this again in Ann Arbor) to what we're putting up in the air buildings have no art to them, just a bunch of cement blocks piled up.....same with cars, look at the design of a 1920's car and the art and skill that was involved in making it with limitied tooling and then look at the shoeboxes that are being designed today. I used to be able to tell every car from a distance as a kid but nowadays they all look alike and they all suck. Maybe there's something to the more technology we have the less we design with art and soul in mind. (/Rant)
Anyhow, we spent a couple hours wandering around the grounds, talking with folks about what they were doing and why. We also caught the last magic show of the day which of course was for littler kids than either of us, but we still enjoyed the performance. By the time the show was over the day was winding down so we started a slow wander back to the truck and home. Chris' girlfriend, who has been in Germany since Christmas, was coming home this day and the kid was antsy to say the least. We hadn't been in the house 5 minutes when he got "the call" so I drove him over to their "summer home" out on Stickney Ridge and then came back home.....just in time to get elected to go grocery shopping with the wife. We came home from there with a couple steaks that I threw on the grill. A trip to Dairy Treat afterwards for some Ice cream and a ride to go pick up the kid wrapped things up for saturday.

Sunday morning I woke up at 4:55am, 5 minutes before the alarm was set to go off. I tried as quietly as possible to get out without waking anybody up but when I fired up the car the silence was pretty much shattered until I headed down the road. I had to stop and get gas.....another $45.00 just to get to Hastings and back. It was dark when I started out but by the time I got to Byron Center the sun had risen and it looked to be a real nice day.
I pulled onto Charlton Park road and was surprised to find that there was a line of cars and the gates weren't opened yet so I shot the breeze with the guys ahead of me until the line of hot rods started moving ahead of us. I hadn't really given it any thought but with all the torrential downpours we've been having the last week or two there has been quite a bit of flooding in the low lying areas. Well, Charlton Park sits right next to the Thornapple river and up until a couple days before the show, quite a bit of the park was still under water, When I went to park in my old spot between the river and the road I noticed a fair amount of moisture so I ended up parking across the street where the ground was a foot or two higher. I heard from other folks during the day that the park officials had been telling folks who called to inquire about the water that the show would probably not go on and that pretty much explains why there was about 1/2 as many cars this year as last. Couple that the gas prices and it's easy to see why the numbers were reduced. The quality of the rides wasn't though, some very nice cars were in attendance.
I popped the hood, put up the show board, grabbed the camera gear and headed down the road for the first walk around of the day. After a couple hours of chatting with folks and snapping pics my stomach started to growl so I headed over to the food booths and got myself a polish dog, I hiked back to the car, grabbed a pop and sat down for awhile. It was a bit after noon when I got back up and started round 2. Because of the show being 1/2 the size it usually is I was able to cover pretty much the whole area by the time it was awards time. I hung around to see who got the top prizes and money awards. After the awards were over I headed back to the car and shot all the cars I dug as they went by on their way home. Once most of the procession was over I got in the car, fired her up and headed out the park gate for home. It was a nice ride home and I did nothing after I got there except eat some supper and kick back.

Nothing big planned for the coming week. If the weather is nice I plan to go up to the castle for the weekend. it'll be the last time I can go until the middle of July because of the impending trip out west. This coming Friday is the first day of summer so It'd be a good time to go and fight some ferns, check on my pine seedlings and take a nap around the campfire. Hopefully the weather will cooperate.


Monday, June 09, 2008

A Wild Weather Weekend

A Busy weekend! A wet and stormy one too. You know it was a busy one when I can't even recall what I did Friday night! Saturday morning I got up early with the intention of hitting an estate sale in town but ended up napping for awhile instead. It had been a busy, fast week too so it felt good just to stay put and rest the eyeballs.
About noon though the 3 of us headed out to Dave Palmer's house for his "Sounds of Summer" party. He's the guy who runs the "Spread The Music" foundation which donates musical instruments to kids who can't afford them among other things. Anyhow, he was having a mini woodstock at his house out on 152nd by the river for the day and so we went and hung out with Tony and Gigi and Adam and Ri for the afternoon. Some of the music was decidedly amateur but as the day went on the bands seemed to get better and towards the end of our time there, there was a bluesy band jamming up a storm. I would've loved to sit in with them but would've probably embarrassed myself so it was best I didn't.
During the afternoon I ran into Doug Ransom, who I haven't talked to or even seen for several years and so we spent awhile catching up. His youngest boy is now 26 and out in Ankorage Alaska in the Air Force these days. Eveybody's kids grow up fast I guess.....
It had been a breezy day all day, but about 6 the breeze had started to blow in some big ole black clouds so at that point we decided it was time to head out. Me and Chis had decided that we were going to head up to camp so after dropping the wife off at home we loaded up the pine trees and Bailey, put some gas in the truck and headed north. It was dark and cloudy all the way up to camp, but it didn't really rain on us till later in the evening. After we got there we opened everything and got a fire going and just kinda hung out. About 10 or so it did start to rain and we got some pretty good thunder and lightening to go with it, but not as bad as they got at home. Chris went to bed after it started raining, I stayed up for awhile and watched nature's light show until the eyes got heavy.
Sunday morning I got up about 7 or so and decided to go up to the lodge for some pancakes and sasauge. Chris wanted to stay at the camper and sleep so I went by myself and had a good breakfast. When I got back to camp I started in on the project for the day, getting my row of pine trees planted. First we measured to get the spacing between the pine trees and the road correct and then Chris started digging holes. The weather was pretty iffy and it sprinkled on us a couple times which was actually a relief from the gnats that were driving us nuts when it wasn't raining.

It took until almost noon to get the holes dug and the trees planted and then while Chris mowed the west yard I wheeled buckets of water in the wheelbarrow down to the pines until every last one had had a good drink. Then, While he mowed the east yard I laid down the patio bricks from the deck to the outhouse which will make it easier to find your way to the john late at night, not to mention keep your feet out of the mud and water on days like the one we were having at that point. I had 5 extra pines, that weren't really extras and was going to plant them along the south side, down by the corner where there's an opening I want to close when all of a sudden the sky got real dark and opened up on us. Having gotten the bulk of what we wanted to do done at that point we decided to close up shop and head for home. After being bite half to death by gnats and rained on it seemed like a good idea.
We got back home about the time Wanda was leaving for Bingo and for most of the rest of the day I just took it easy and napped a bit, ate some dinner and played on the computer.
the coming week is going to bring Father's day on Sunday & the Charlton Park Car show and unless I change my mind due to finances me and the wife are taking off a half day on Thursday and heading to Ann Arbor for a concert. The Refugees, which consists of Cindy Bullens, Wendy Waldman and Deb Holland should be worth the trip. It may be my only chance to ever see Wendy Waldman live in this lifetime and I'd like to say howdy to Cindy again like we did a couple years ago when she played at the Morris in South Bend with Dan Fogelberg.....
I guess we'll see how it goes......
Hey, I just remembered....I mowed the lawn Friday night. :)


Sunday, June 01, 2008

Back To Normal

Whew, it's quiet here tonight after the last 3 weeks.
Yesterday everyone was up fairly early. I made breakfast, pancakes for the munchkins and me and then we hung around the house while Jen ran some last minute errands. It was noon before the van was packed with toys and kids and ready to roll down to Indiana to visit the other set of grandparents. I took off about the same time they did and headed up to Metric Motorsports to have the idle on the bike looked at. That took all of 2 minutes for the guy to show me where it was and how to adjust it and then I was on my way back home again.
I just hung out around the house for the afternoon and then about 5 me and the wife decided to go to Texas Roadhouse for a nice dinner. We got there at the right time and didn't have to wait for a seat. We had excellent steaks with all the trimmings and stuffed ourselves. Once we got back home I decided to take a bike ride. The weather the first half of the day had been crummy but during the afternoon it cleared up nicely so I pushed the bike outa the garage and headed down lakeshore drive towards Holland. I decided to stop at the used CD store and spent awhile there rummaging thru the bins until I found a couple things to bring home. I got back home just about sunset and decided to finish off the day with a cruise in the '56. Bailey rode shotgun.
Today I got up early and headed up towards north Muskegon to do a car show at Northway Lanes as part of their East side summer spectacular. I parked next to an older gentleman with a 1923 Durant. He was friendly and we spent most of the day shooting the breeze. We both partook in the Lions all you can eat pancake breakfast but they were the kind of pancakes that soak up a half bottle of syrup so my one helping of 3 was enough.
Along with being befriended by Ken Vandenbrink one other thing to happen was running into Tony Meyers and his wife Dotty. They've been out in Arizona for the past 7 / 8 years but this year decided to come back here for the summer. they've been doing the ice cream wagon thing at carivals and art shows etc and having a good time doing it. They'd just sold the Ice cream wagon to a relative and went into the business of making and selling Kettle Corn. Really fluffy, sweetened popcorn. I noticed him from the car and hiked over to say howdy. It was a pleasant surprise to see the two of them after all this time.....we shot the breeze on and off during the day and got caught up on what's been going on in the last decade or so. I'm hoping we'll get another chance to hang out before they head back to Arizona in the fall.
The last surprise for the day happened during the awards ceremony for the show. I had chosen to be in the Street Rod - Sedan class for this show and lo and behold I got a nice 3rd place trophy for showing up. Second place was the green and silver rod and the 1st place winner was the purple sedan. After all the awards were given out I went over and said goodbye to Tony and Dotty and then fired up the hot rod and headed down the highway for home. I got there just about the time Wanda was leaving for Bingo.
After having my leftovers from Texas Roadhouse for dinner I decided to take Mercury and Bailey down to the state park for a walk on the pier on a nice blue sky day in June. We spent a little while sitting out on the end before coming back home and calling it a day.
No big plans for this week. Gonna try to do some time cleaning up the garage. The weatherman says it's gonna be warm and wet alot of the time so we'll have to play it by ear. Dave Palmers music party is this coming Saturday and I'm torn between going there or heading up to camp for the weekend. Guess we'll see how I feel come Friday. Until then I'm signing off.