Monday, July 19, 2021

7/7 Johnson's Island Confederate Cemetery & Lighthouse

 Johnson Island is a small island on the southern edge of Lake Erie.  Mostly, it is a very large gated homeowner's association, but outsiders are allowed to visit the portion of the island containing a Confederate cemetery and the lighthouse. 

The island was chosen as a Civil War prisoner-of-war camp because it was an island and made escape a little more difficult.  Now, however, there is a causeway to make access to the island easier.  



The prisoner-of-war camp had as many as 15,000 prisoners over a three-year period, but generally only about 3,000 at one time.  About 200 Confederate soldiers died and were interred in a cemetery on the other end of the island.  Bodies were moved to this newer cemetery in 1910. 

About half of the graves have "Unknown" listed as the name of the soldier.  This was probably due to the move taking place so many years after the original burial.

This memorial was added when the cemetery was dedicated in 1910.

Our next stop was the lighthouse.  It is not a tall lighthouse, comparatively speaking, but it really did not need to be.  It is open for only limited days and hours, but you can climb up to the top, which we did. 

This is a reconstruction of the lifesaving station.  Volunteers would help rescue people during the huge storms that can occur on Lake Erie.

And this is the lighthouse keeper's house.

Looking down the stairway to the top of the lighthouse.

Very nice view, however.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

7/5 Cedar Point by Boat

 One a big weekend, especially after the pandemic has kept it closed for most of the past year, one place NOT to be is Cedar Point Amusement Park!  My son has a boat, so we just boated past it this weekend.  The parking lot was absolutely full.  My son and his family have season passes, so maybe we can go when I am here at the end of August.  I don't know what the lines were like, but they have had problems with hiring enough staff this year, especially since the large number of foreign employees were not able to come back for this summer.  

Anyway, I thought these photos were interesting.  They were taken from the bay side of the peninsula the amusement park is on.  Hopefully, next time, we can go into the lake, and I take take photos from that side.  

Anyway, if you like roller coasters, here are several of them! 

This is certainly a forest of wood!  Too high for me, however.

I think this is just one coaster. 

Did you know that Cedar Point also has a big old hotel, a campground, and a marina? 

 It was a very bumpy ride because of all the boats, but at least the dog always enjoys the trip!

7/3 Maumee Bay State Park

 Maumee Bay State Park is a very large state park on the southwestern shore of Lake Erie, just a few miles east of Toledo.  It has a hotel, a restaurant, nature center, and a large campground.  Unfortunately, the campground is not directly on the lake, but there are a lot of hiking and bike trails that take you to the lake.  

I have been here several times and really enjoy it, especially in the spring and fall when birds are migrating.  This state park is on one of the major bird corridors that cross Lake Erie from Canada.  It is especially full of birds in the spring and fall and mostly empty of other campers! 


One thing I like about this campground is that the campsites are arranged along slightly curved roads.  There is also a lot of greenery between the spread-out sites.  This results in your only being able to see a few of the campsites on each "stem" road.  


You can never tell when it is fish fly season around any of the Great Lakes.  They can be so thick on roads that cars ave trouble braking.  I saw a few on my windows and doors, but they did not get worse, which was good.   Here is an article from a couple of years ago showing how bad they can be.

I went for a walk one afternoon and heard some birds making a lot of noise in a nearby bush.  I have learned to always take my camera.  Can you see the snake that was upsetting the birds?  There were about five or six of them that took turns pecking his tail. 

Eventually, the birds convinced this fox snake that it should go elsewhere, so he crossed the road. 

Normally, I would get my bike out and go for a ride in this large park, but I do not have any rear brakes, so am waiting until I can get them fixed in about three weeks. 

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

6/27 - 30, REV Group (aka Fleetwood) Customer Service Center, Decatur IN

I have had some issues with my motorhome over the past several months that I felt could not be fixed by an ordinary Fleetwood dealer.  So, knowing I would be headed back to Michigan and Ohio, I made a reservation at the Fleetwood Customer Service Center I had gone to several years ago when the dealer I bought my rig from refused to fix several warranty issues.  I had had a very good experience there, and I knew that because it was close to the factory that they would have parts.  (REV is the name of the group that purchased Fleetwood and several other RV manufacturers several years ago.)

Since then, they had paved their RV parking lot and built a new customer center, which was very nice.  

If you are not an RV owner, you probably don't know that most larger repair facilities have places for customers to park overnight and hook up to electricity, as well as get water and have the use of a dump station.  The reason for this is that many of us live in our RVs and sometimes have to wait days and weeks for parts to come in, so having a sort of RV park is very handy.   And in the case of REV's facilities in Decatur and in Coburg, OR, you have to be in the office ready to register and meet your mechanic at 6:00 am in Decatur and 7:30 am in Coburg, so this means you really have to be on site the night before!!  They also allow you to stay the night after repairs have been completed.  And the people who have body work done, sometimes stay an extra couple of days because driving their unit would damage the new paint.

I had a long list of items needing to be fixed:

  • Replacement patio awning and replacement slide topper awnings.  My big awning had torn a few months ago, and the two slide toppers are badly frayed.  After 9 years of being in the sun and weather, they all really needed replacing. Unfortunately, these did not come in on time, so I have to come back in late July when they arrive.
  • Fixing tail lights and the upper running lights required on larger vehicles.  Mine have not worked since last summer so I have not been able to drive at night.  I have had the supposedly "fixed" three times, but each time the fix lasts only an hour or so.  Decided since Fleetwood installed them, they could fix them. 
  • The part of the fiberglass coach that goes over the front cab that was provided by Ford has become loose from the metal cab.  It squeaks horribly and leaks when you spray water there.  I was pretty sure I knew what was needed, but this chassis work is not something many dealers want to deal with, hence best to get it done at the factory service center.  
  • Several small things, such as a defective GFI plug in the bathroom, missing bulb in stove cover, and an oil change.  
(I also need a new couch because the vinyl is falling apart, and I have looked at Camping World and other dealers out west, but knew these are easier to find in Indiana because so many RVs are made there.  Unfortunately, REV does not carry anything that will fit, but they did give me the name of one customer furniture manufacturer.) 

This is the new customer center in Decatur, IN.  I arrived here on Sunday afternoon, found a place to park and hook up, and got to bed early because I knew I had to be up and have my slides in and be unhooked by 6 am on Monday morning when the mechanics would come to get my vehicle.


This is the view of the RV lot from the second floor.  Note that all of the RVs were very expensive Class A buses.  Mine was the only Class C in the lot because they don't really advertise this service center to Class C owners! 


This is the center walkway with all the electric hookups.  By the way, any RV in this lot during the day means that they are waiting for parts or for paint to dry--literally.  A few people do leave their vehicles while waiting for parts, but most much prefer to stay in their very comfortable homes on wheels than go to a hotel or drive their cars to a distant home.  

Another view of the RV parking lot. 
Here is my "little" rig alongside the big expensive rigs!  Makes one feel like a poor relative. 
I forgot to take a photo of the two big customer lounges, but one is on the second floor and has several big TVs and some computer areas, along with a refrigerator and microwave, and is dog-free.  The lounge on the first floor has similar furniture but allows dogs and other pets.  

One really nice perk that I have not seen in other service centers, but is much appreciated, is a small, free laundromat.  I did three loads of laundry here.  Much nicer than most campground laundromats and very handy. 


My repairs were done on Tuesday afternoon, but I spent the night here because, frankly, I had no reservations anywhere else since I had not know how long all these things would take.  When I left on Wednesday morning, I stopped by the furniture place and ordered a new mattress, and also learned they could not supply a couch that would fit in my unit.  Will probably have to just get this one re-upholstered.  

Anyway, I have a reservation for Maumee Bay State Park for Thursday, but that left tonight, Wednesday, open.  Did you know that the Ohio Turnpike has overnight RV parking with electrical hookups in half of their service centers?  They are very convenient if you need a place to stay at the last minute and are on your way on the turnpike.  I have used them before and found them safe and fairly quiet places to stay.  Cost is $20 but you are only allowed to stay one night.

So, here I am tonight.  Nice because there are fast food restaurants in the service centers.

Nice to have company in this RV lot on the turnpike tonight!  I am all plugged in with my satellite TV on and AC when needed.  There is a potable water faucet, so I also added some water to my tank before parking, and I can use the dump station in the morning when I leave.

In the meantime, I have a good view of an Ohio cornfield!! 



6/17 Drive from Nebraska to Indiana

 I've been very lazy, but it has been a lot of driving across country.  I left Denver on June 17 and arrived in Indiana at the REV Group/Fleetwood RV customer service center in Decatur on June 27.  (More about that later.)

Anyway, I did not take very many photos on my trip east because mostly I was just trying to get to my destination on time without much sightseeing.  Anyway, here are a few photos of my adventures on the way. 

If you have driven through Nebraska, you know that one end of Nebraska looks a lot like the other end of Nebraska.  (Texas has that problem as well, and both are very wide states.)  Here is mostly what Nebraska looks like:

At one point, I pulled into a Walmart to pick up some groceries and discovered that shoppers with RVs were supposed to park in the dirt lot next door, which really irritated me.  First, the regular main parking lot was too small, and second, the dirt lot I was supposed to park in was full of chuck holes and very dusty.  I complained to the store manager that I was buying as many groceries as his customers who owned cars, but all he said was that if RV parked in the paved lot, there would be no room for cars!!!  

When I went out to leave, I saw that this big and very expensive Class A motorhome pulling a large cargo trailer had gotten stuck in one of the holes.  The back end of the motorhome and the front of the trailer were hung up and the wheels of the motorhome could not drag them out.  A big danger is that there is a lot of stuff like water tanks underneath a motorhome that could be easily damaged.

The driver and his family had a shovel and were trying to put dirt and anything they could find to fill up the hole so they could drive their wheels on it and get out. Finally, they spun their tires enough that they were able to back up a little.  I did not stay around to see them completely get out, but I would have been in the store afterwards yelling and screaming at the manager! 

One of the nicer campgrounds I stayed at was Prairie Flower in Iowa.  It was a Corps of Engineers campground, and I have not yet found a bad one!  They are always very well maintained and have paved roads and campsites, so are very clean and nice.

Another nice campsite was Clark's Ferry near Davenport, IA.  What was nice about this one was that it was on the Mississippi River.  It was rainy and really hot, however, so I did not go outside much.

The last campground before Decatur was Potato Creek State Park in Indiana.  It was hard, by the way, to get used to all the greenery east of the Mississippi.  And in this case, I arrived during a really strong thunderstorm that had knocked down a lot of  branches and even whole trees.  I had to wait until they camp hosts and ranger were able to clear the road.  So much rain after so much drought in the west!!

Finally, the road is clear!

When I made my reservation here, I had checked to make sure the roads were paved, and I even reserved a paved handicapped site, just in case.  Considering the rain, that was a really good decision.