Month: July 2016
Lake Tipsico, Michigan
It appears that no matter what campground we stay, there is either an airport (jet planes), a highway, or railroad tracks. Therefore we hear those noises all night. Now that we are staying on a farm, I expected peace and quite, except for the sounds of nature. Not so, this is what we woke up to at 6:30 AM:
They were replacing the driveway and parking lot at the school, which now abuts up to the “farm”.
The cousin of our friend, on whose property we are currently camped, has a home on Lake Tipsico.
We were able to go out on his speedboat
and then his jet ski.
In 1845 a group of 15 German Lutheran missionaries left the Kingdom of Bavaria to bring the word of god to the Chippewa Indians. There settlement here became Frankenmuth.
The whole town emulates Bavarian culture. However, the most unique character of the town is that every street, every building, every house, every business, and every public square are covered in flowers.
As you enter Frankenmuth you smell the flowers before you see them.
The amazing thing is that there is not one dead leaf or flower in the whole town.
No visit to the Detroit area of Michigan would be complete without visiting The Henry Ford Complex. The factory, where Ford F-150’s are made, is a jaw-dropping experience. The assembly line, consisting of just over a 1000 workers and automated machines, produce a completed truck in 72 minutes. We watched as these trucks were assembled.
Another part of the Complex is Greenfield Village.
This area, 80 acres, was developed by Henry Ford in the 1920’s. There are 83 historic structures, including the lab where Thomas Edison worked, the workshop where the Wright Brothers had their bicycle shop and developed the concept of manned flight, Harry Firestone’s farm (I didn’t know Firestone had a first name), Abraham Lincoln’s office where he practiced law, and H.J. Heinz’s home. Ford went around the Country looking for these items to preserve them for history. The towns where these structures stood did not want them, or the expense of their upkeep. They were disassembled by Ford and transported here.
It is interesting to note that only 65 years after the Wright Brothers first flight, Neil Armstrong was walking on the moon.
H.J. Heinz started his business in the basement of his home. His first product, when he had only 1 variety, was horseradish. He advertised that his product was fresher than any other that could be bought at the time. To emphasize this he packaged it in clear glass bottles so you could clearly see his horseradish.
An interesting thing we saw, at Edison’s workshop, is a demonstration of the only working tin foil voice system.
This was the predecessor of the vinyl dictaphone.
Barbara tries on a bonnet at the millinery shop.
As usual, we clearly did not allow enough time to see everything, and were kicked out at closing. We will be going back another day to see the Henry Ford Museum, which we will allow a whole day.
Every once in a while we must take time off our busy schedule to tend to those everyday tasks that allow us to travel independently around the country: hair cuts, nail and beauty stuff, shopping for supplies and household goods, etc. Today’s that day. Barbara’s glasses broke so we went to Costco for repairs.
It also gives us an opportunity to inspect everything for routine maintenance. The truck has a tire monitoring system, which I check periodically with a tire gauge. I still have not figured out how to check the inner tire of my dual rear wheels. I cannot access the tire stem. The Sphinx’s tires do not have a monitoring system and must be checked manually. Those tires are nitrogen filled. Nitrogen is an inert gas (I am not sure what that actually means, but it sounds cool) that has larger molecules than oxygen and therefore is less prone to leakage. It also does not heat up during travel, which stabilizes the tires.
My normal tire pressure on the Sphinx is 110 psi. I am 7 pounds low on each of the 4 tires. The question is: do I fill with regular compressed air, or find a place that has a nitrogen pump? I have an air pump that is capable of easily pumping that high air pressure. I use it to pump air into my air ride hitch which requires 100-110 psi. That is basically an air bag system that absorbs the rode bumps and takes pressure off the rear springs of the truck as we zoom down the road.
The last time I visited Farmington, Michigan, 42 years ago, I stayed with my friend and her family who lived on a 40 acre working farm. My sister and I came up to visit and ski. I called my friend from Sandusky to let her know we were in the area, and could we stay a few days on her farm. My thought was we would set up on a secluded area of the farm to be out of the way.
When I arrived today, I was shocked to see that over the last 42 years the farm had been sold off in parcels, so that now it was just over 2 acres, and no longer used as a farm.
Nevertheless, we were able to set up in back of the old farmhouse. It gave us a chance, for the first time, to live off using the batteries only. Our electrical system is divided. All lights, water and heater pump, jacks and leveling system, slide outs, and refrigerator run off the batteries, which are 4 six volts wired in series and parallel. The refrigerator actually runs on 110 volt power, but we have a 1000 watt inverter that converts 12 volt battery power to 110 volts. All electric outlets, air conditioner and heating fans, television and microwave, run on 110 volts, like your home.
Obviously, when we are on battery power only we cannot use the above. We therefore have a 5.5 kilowatt generator to run those items. That generator runs off our two 30 pound propane tanks. The generator will also recharge the batteries. Right now I am not using the generator as it is quit noisy, and I don’t want to disturb the neighbors. I will run it during the day when the noise will be masked by everyday sounds and traffic. It appears that the batteries will last a day or two before having to be recharged.
Based on past performance, I should be able to be self-sufficient for about a week (provided Barbara doesn’t poop too much).
Thomas Alva Edison was born in Milan, Ohio on . . . . . . I am not going to tell you, or tell you about Milan, Ohio, with a fascinating history, because my sister says I blog too much history.
However, I will leave you with the following to figure out:
Marblehead Lighthouse, Lake Erie
Marblehead Lighthouse on Lake Erie has been in continuous operation since 1822.
This lens reflected the light across Lake Erie for years:
But it is not there now:
It has been replaced with this (that black round thing):
That is an LED light which can shine 11 nautical miles.
Rutherford B. Hayes
Visited the home, library and museum of President Rutherford B. Hayes in Fremont, Ohio.
Barbara gave a presidential talk to the media:
I took time out to catch up on some correspondence.
The desk I am sitting is the Resolute Desk given to President Hayes by Queen Victoria, November, 1880. You might remember this desk from the Nicholas Cage movie, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, in which he sought information he believed hidden in the desk’s secret compartments.
My friend John also used this desk for a few years.
Afterwards, we attended a concert and ice cream social on the Veranda of President Hayes’ house.
Put-in-Bay, Lake Erie
Took a ferry ride from Sandusky, Ohio to Put-in-Bay, Lake Erie:
It is from here during the War of 1812 that Commodore Oliver Perry dispatched his fleet to engage the British in the Battle of Lake Erie, September 10, 1813. After his victory, he sent a dispatch saying “We have met the enemy, and they are ours”.
I told Barbara not to jay walk, or she would be Put-in-Jail:
Fortunately she knows a good lawyer (retired).
We have been walking so much, I think we are loosing weight:
Sandusky, Ohio, started out as a trading post between the British and Indians.
Prior to the abolition of slavery in the United States, Sandusky was a major stop on the Underground Railroad. As depicted in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, many slaves seeking to reach freedom in Canada made their way to Sandusky, where they boarded boats crossing Lake Erie to the port of Amherstburg in Ontario.
One of the city’s attractions is the Museum of Merry Go Rounds
Harmony, PA. to Sandusky, OH 175.3 miles
3 hours 21 minutes
To Mars and Back
Day 89 Mars, Pennsylvania, was established in 1873 when the martians came here to escape religious persecution. As we walked through town we felt as if we were being watched.
Harmony, Pennsylvania, was established in 1804 by a German weaver, turned Profit, who came here with a small following to set up a religious community. He established the Harmony Society in which his followers gave up their worldly possessions. In return, the Society provided the necessities of life as well as religious and educational instruction. His Utopia lasted about 10 years with a following of 1,000 members. At that time, the War of 1812 was in progress and Harmony became the center of troop movement going north and south, interfering with the Society’s desire to be separatists. They sold their land to the Mennonites and moved to Indiana.
The diesel dilemma:
Since this trip would be over 250 miles, we knew we would have to stop for fuel. About the half way mark we stopped at one of the rest areas on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Since truckers would stop there for fuel we figured the fuel islands would be big enough to get the truck and Sphinx in.
Sure enough, the island were plenty wide for our combination. I pulled up to a pump, but it had no place to insert my credit card or pay at the pump. Barbara pointed out that the pump said “bio-diesel”, which my truck is not equipped to take. We maneuvered to the next island, which did have pay at the pump, but it would not accept my credit card. Went inside and spoke with the fuel cashier who informed me only fleet credit cards are accepted at that pump, but she could take my card inside. Pre paid for fuel and went back to the island. The pump nozzle had a flange at the end, which is not the normal diesel nozzle. Barbara pointed to a sign over head that said “high speed diesel”. Never heard of high speed diesel. Back inside to talk to the cashier. High speed diesel is for tractor trailers only.
She directed me to the pumps were autos were fueling up. I could use my credit card at the pump. Fortunately, there was a diesel pump on the end island that I could maneuver my truck pulling the Sphinx to get my tank adjacent to the pump. Trouble was, after fueling, I was facing the wrong direction to the exit. However, there was enough room to make a “U” turn so I could exit back to the turnpike.
Gettysburg, Pa. to Harmony, Pa. 263.3 miles
5 hours 24 minutes
Diesel $2.70 gallon
I Like Ike
Left Gettysburgs, after a chat with Abe.
Visited the farm of General Dwight David Eisenhower. He purchased this farm, located adjacent to the Gettysburg Battlefield, when he retired from the Army. He had trained at Gettysburg (before it was a National Historical site and was used as an Army Base) after he graduated from West Point.
It was a tranquil day.
The Frederick Keys
Went to Frederick, Maryland, to catch the Frederick Keys baseball game. Of the thousands of people in the stadium, Barbara got picked to participate in a game on top of the dugout.
She even got her picture on the Jumbotrom.
Battle of Gettysburg
We took the Way-Back-Machine to July 2, 1863 and witnessed the battle of Gettysburg. We sat in on a meeting of the Generals who discussed strategy for today’s battle.
We met with General Robert E. Lee for almost an hour. He told us the reason he made certain decisions, and why he did not take the advise of one of his Generals that might have changed the out come of the battle. He also told us about his family. He told us that his son, Robert E. Lee, Jr., joined an artillery unit as a private, without his knowledge. The General happen to visit that unit, where he saw his son and learned of his enlistment.
Soldiers’ National Cemetery@Gettysburg
Our first stop was the “bivouac of the dead”. The Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg. After the 3 day battle at Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863, there remain over 50,000 dead, wounded, and missing soldiers, plus hundreds of dead horses. Eventually the stench was overwhelming. Those that could afford to have their dead relative shipped back home, did so, mostly officers. The remaining dead were left on the battlefield, or put in shallow graves, which were washed open by the heavy rain on July 4, 1863.
The decision was made to bury the 3,000+ union soldiers in a cemetery to be created in Gettysburg. President Lincoln was invited at it’s dedication on November 19, 1863 to say a few words. (His Gettysburg address while there was 8 Baltimore Street, Gettysburg, Pa.)
Two interesting facts: 1) no confederate soldiers were to be buried in the cemetery, and 2) the only civilian casualty of the battle was Jennie Wade who was a resident of Gettysburg. At the age of 20, she was killed instantly by a stray bullet on July 3, 1863 while tending wounded soldiers.
About 12 confederate soldiers did mistakenly get buried here.
Back On the Road Again
Our one granddaughter graduated college, got a job and is moving into her own place. Our other granddaughter got a new job with better pay and has joined the fire department to be with her dad. I concluded my responsibilities with the fire department at the Ocean City, Maryland, Convention. Our work here is done.
We are now back on the road. I had hoped to spend some of the time between my granddaughter’s graduation and the fire convention by going to Western Maryland. However (don’t you hate that word, it always foretells gloom), while the Sphinx (our RV) was at the dealers for routine maintenance, one of their employees ran into it with a fork lift. While the damage was minor, we did have to take it to a repair facility, wait for parts, etc.
Now we are back in the Sphinx. We have packed it with supplies and clothes. The refrigerator and pantry are full. We are headed, at a very leisurely pace, in a westerly direction toward Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.
Our first stop, Gettysburg, Pa. As you might remember from High School, the battle was fought July 1–3, 1863. We thought it would be cool to be here for the anniversary. We plan on staying in Gettysburg for a week so as not drive during the holiday weekend.
Baldwin, Md. to Gettysburg Pa. 70.6 miles
2 hours 45 minutes