Our Chalet Truck Camper

Our Chalet Truck Camper

Saturday, May 30, 2009

May 30 - Lighthouses and Lake Michigan

May 30 - Lighthouses and Lake Michigan

Today was a leisurely drive headed west on Route 2 through Michigan and into a tiny piece of Wisconsin. Lake Michigan is VAST with few people in small towns. All I can think of is how much snow and ice they must get in the winter. We are on Route 2 having left St.Ignace, stopping at a lot of state rest stops to walk. At first I thought the columns of something dark rising up out of the woods were smoke plumes. Discovered they weren't when one descended upon us and turned out to be about a bazillion bugs/gnats. It was actually hard to breath for a few seconds. Didn't bite, just wandered off. Later we saw what looked like a flying black ball right ahead of us. It was more bugs. You can imagine what the front nose of the TC looks like.

The sand beaches of Lake Michigan are powder like from being pounded against a somewhat rocky coast. It's not like our granite in Maine but the beach is not hard packed.

Very hard to walk in as you sink ankle deep but the view out over the water was worth it. Lots of little towns along Route 2 where many businesses are closed. We even saw what looked like a new Hilton Inn that was closed with tall weeds all around.

Got off Route 2 Cooks, MI right on Lake Michigan and took a tiny road out to Nahma. I don't think an A class RV could have gone down that road. We picked up hot pasty and ate by the water. Can it get any better than this? For those of you who don't know (and we didn't), a pasty is a meat pie with a meat, potato, carrot, rice and onion in all enclosed in a flaky crust. I asked for a small and the lady laughed. They only make one size and they weigh about a pound. We split one and didn't fight over the last bite, we were full. Recipes for the Michigan version here - [url=http://www.absolutemichigan.com/dig/michigan/real-michigan-food-the-]Michigan pasty[/url]

We next headed to Escanaba for the Sand Point Lighthouse and Museum. Very good local museum with history of how the huge logs were moved out of the woods to ships in the winter. Basically they made an ice road and skidded them out. Joe enjoyed talking to another retired Coast Guardsman while I climbed the lighthouse for the view. The wind off the lake is so cold you expect to see icebergs any minute. Wonder if it ever warms up?

Last time I got on a bicycle (Tall Pines) I took a most ungraceful fall. Joe thought I should get on this one. HA!

A bit further west in Iron Mountain was a mining museum we had planned to see. However, the view was so beautiful over the lake, we headed south from the lighthouse down through Ford River and Cedar River eventually cutting north again to rejoin Route 2 and enter WI. There is a tiny piece of WI that sticks up into MI and we'll get to claim it as a state we have camped in. We're at a small campground in Florence, WI - $12 for the night with water, electricity, laundry and WiFi! We are finding almost no one in the state parks yet. Schools still in and it is a bit nippy.

Mostly sunny day, very windy and the TC rocked quite a bit. We got to show off the Host to a group of ATVers who had stopped at the National Forest center in Florence, WI. They were on a week tent camping trip on the ATV trails and looked pretty longingly at the TC. Joe could not convince one of them that a dual slide TC was too heavy for his F150. It's always fun to show someone a TC who had never been in one before.

Tomorrow we head to Superior, WI. We found two state parks with high waterfalls and good walking trails near there. We'll camp at one of them. There is also a WWII museum that looks pretty interesting. Ever westward!

Friday, May 29, 2009

ME to VT to NY to MI on the way to Glacier

Wednesday, May 27 - first day on our trip "To the Sun". Cold, rainy but glad to be on the road. Truck and camper are doing great and the new tires make the ride a lot smoother and tighter.

Headed across Maine and passed through lots of tiny Maine towns. We felt like we were the only people on earth as there was no traffic. New Hampshire was even more deserted but greener if possible. The low mountains of NH just sort of roll along with lots of lakes. The White Mountains aren't white currently thank heaven.

VT was even greener and same roads - where are all the people? Not that we want crowded roads but it was just odd. We took all back roads of course but even the farms were deserted. Stopped at Cabot Cheese Creamery and enjoyed the tour, samples, and bought some small blocks for gifts.

We're currently in Massena, NY ready to go over the border into Canada. Cold, gray, rainy but hopefully we'll hit some sun soon. Plan on staying in several of the Canadian Provincial Parks on lakes as we cross over to Sault Sainte Marie. Be a few days before we check in as there isn't a lot of cell/air card service up here. Looking forward to seeing some of rural Canada again.

May 28, 2009 -Joe did a masterful job today dodging a very large cow moose who hopped over a guard rail in Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada, right in front of us. She must have gotten a running start up a hill from a bog and was low down so we didn't see her coming. Suddenly, there in front of us was a moose!!!! A vehicle on the other side of the road where she first appeared, managed to stop. Moose was literally between our two vehicles. I don't know how Joe missed her or
she decided to go back to the bog and turned at the last second. Pretty shaky moment to be eye to eye with a 1,000 pound or more creature whose back was as high as the hood of the F350. If Joe hadn't have swung right and the moose hadn't swung left, we'd have hit her broadside. It was one of those moments that's still bringing sweat to my forehead and an "attaboy" to Joe. This is a moose bog for those of you who live in cities.

We left NY early AM and came across to Ontario at Massena on the Seaway International Bridge. I was driving at the time and could not decide which customs entry lane to go in. None were marked RVs, only passenger vehicles and trucks. Being a truck, I swung into the truck lanes and was immediately told by a trucker that RVs go through as passenger cars. Well why not say so on an entry! Joe walked over to customs to see what to do and came back with TWO custom agents. Training day for a new guy - groan. They were polite and very thorough, going through all the compartments in the TC but curiously not even opening the F350. Mostly the same questions about where have you been, where are you going, do you have firearms, mace or pepper spray, are you married? Like Canada doesn't let unmarried couples through? The new fellow was following his paper script pretty closely and kept losing his place so asked the same questions over. Only took about 20 minutes and we sailed on. They almost forgot to give us a token to put in the gate barrier slot so we could get out of the truck yard. My mistake for going in as a truck. Nothing was found or confiscated because there wasn't anything there to take. They oddly didn't even ask questions about potatoes or beef this time.

Other than the border crossing and the moose, today has been another rain day and at times a mix of small hail and rain drops the size of marbles. Deluges in an instant and then nothing for miles and then torrential downpours again. The TC (fingers and toes crossed) has not leaked at all and is still working great. Joe's been calling this trip "Going to the Rain" not "Going to the Sun" road.

From the border we took Rte 2, the Heritage Trail down to the "1000 Island Parkway". Looks like this area has an abundance of natural stone for building as there were many beautiful stone houses, more like mansions. Off shore there are tiny islands whose land area is almost completely covered by house. No problem getting a water view there. Everywhere you looked there are Canada geese with goslings, thousands of them just grazing along.

Canada is immaculate, no road litter, no junk along the sides of the road. Most houses appear in excellent repair, with flower gardens, cross mown lawns, long neatly stacked rows of firewood. The roads are better maintained than most of the small roads in the US. It's obvious people take pride in their homes.

My only problem with the route we took today was it was 80km speed limit. For those of you (like me) who are metric challenged, that is about 50mph. It takes a long time to get anywhere especially since today was sort of a travel day and we were in woods. We went from Belleville on the shores of Lake Ontario on Route 60 up to Algonquin Park and then over to Parry Sound to a provincial park for the night. 320km (roughly 200 miles) at 80km (50mph) is not a four hour drive but more like six. Great woods views but looked just like New England - moose included.

In the morning we'll explore Killbear Provincial Park a bit more. We both need a long walk to loosen up. We'll then head to St. Saulte Marie and cross back into the US. Plan on staying at one of the many Michigan state parks right after you cross the border.

May 29 - Back in the USA

We've crossed through Ontario and are back into the USA. Customs was way backed up at the International Bridge at Sault Sainte Marie. Took about 45 minutes to get to the customs booth and about 1 minute go through. US only wanted to know about firewood and fruit. no entry into either the camper or the truck, just a wave and move along.

We're camped in Straits State Park in St.Ignace, Michigan, right on Lake Huron. The mosquitos are FIERCE and almost impossible to stay outside the camper. We've taken a good long walk along the shoreline but at times they were so thick they were getting in your eyes and nose. Shades of Maine!

The drive out of Ontario was much easier than yesterday. The stretch we came through Parry Sound up to Whitefish and then a nice lunch by the water in Blind River. This land has obviously been sculpted by glaciers. the land is covered by small ponds, rock ledges, innumerable beaver dams and lodges and scrub pine by the rocks. The sun came out for a few minutes but we had cold rain again most of the day. Route 69 and 17 were larger roads in excellent condition and still not crowded. We saw four Truck Camperss in a row all hauling boats. Looks like they were off for a weekend of fishing.

Tomorrow we will head for another Michigan state park further west and see if the mosquitos are as bad there. No moose today though we were on hyper alert watching all the small ponds we went by.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Going to the Sun and beyond

We can't stand exploring the rock bound coast of Maine and all of New England again this summer (big smile) so we are headed west. We enjoyed our trip out west last summer so much that we are heading that way to explore more. House sitter is available, the aged folks in our family are well and we are still upright and walking so time to go while we can.

Here is the planned, yet tentative, route from Maine to Glacier National Park. We'll probably drop down and go over the Beartooth Highway and then north to Glacier.

We will be trying to stay in state parks, rest areas, Corps of Engineers, free places, etc. We like history, geology, archeology and have a lot of museums and petroglyph and dinosaur sites mapped out along the way.

"Going to the Sun" road is the reason for the Glacier trip. We know we cannot drive it in the TC and probably will just take a jammer bus. I think the F-350 DRW will fit on the road but we want to enjoy the scenery, not have to watch every inch of the drops off the road. As of today, the snow removal crews are still digging through 20-30 feet snowbanks on the road so it isn't fully open yet. Yes we put our winter parkas in the camper.

After Glacier, if we are still talking (TCs are small!) and the legs are holding up, we'll head for the Oregon coast. I've always wanted to see Oregon and also visit several friends and relatives there. Here's the tentative route.

Email or post here is you know of sites that shouldn't be missed along the way. We hae an air card so will be able to reply and also keep the blog going. Fingers crossed for good weather and safe driving.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

North East Truck Camper Spring Rally - Wales, MA

Our North East Truck Camper group met for the spring rally starting 05/13/09 to 05/17/09.

Bright, sunny, breezy day and the TCs are gathering at Oak Haven Campground in Wales, MA. This is the spring North East Truck Camper rally and we are so glad it's stopped snowing and we're together again. FamilyTimes (Rob & Jayne) who are the WagonMasters, Mikeee T, and TwoMaineiacs (Anne and Joe) happened to meet up at the Charlton, MA rest area on the MA Turnpike. We arrived first at the campground and picked out great spots to set up.

Next to arrive were Trapper Dick with his puppy Skeeter, Silversands (Derek and Nicole) and PhilS. Flyfisher Dave and his dog Splash have arrived. We are awaiting EagleCapLurkers.

We've stood around chatting, imbibed a few libations and are now getting ready to cook supper. Mike's friend Steve who manages our web site and chat room came out to visit and bring a few big tents for our group gatherings. Here's the web site address for those reading this who would like more information on our informal group. http://truckcamping.net


Here's the start of the process of putting up Mikeee and Rob's four party tents. We ganged them together two by two and then spread tarps over the top where the sides met so rain wouldn't ruin our parade. Laying out the poles - Dick (AidenJ) leads the parade

About an hour and a half to get four tents up, covered and ready to use. Let the social hours begin. It's raining but supposed to clear. We are generating a lot of warmth getting ready for hot dog night.

We've been blessed with two TCs new to the group. Both have been lurkers on RV.NET truck camper group and just showed up. Our gain! Hot dog roast is over, rain has started again but the propane heater in the tent is letting us yak away in warmth and comfort. More TCs will come in tomorrow. Rain? Wind? No matter - fun to see all the rigs roll in from all over the North East - especially our Canadian friends.

Day dawned bright and clear. Sunny and almost hot which we are taking full advantage of. Some of the TCers have biked into Brimfield to go to the antiques fair. Some are off on country road adventures but most of us are by the campsites relaxing and trading TC tales of places to see and where to go. The rigs are still rolling in. (33arrived by end of the weekend).

Poker and blongo games are ongoing, flags are flying for the Red SoX, USA and many states, plus the sun is so good after our long cold winter. It's 74F and quite comfortable. Afternoon poker anyone? No one will win enough for a new camper but they keep trying.

Mike Tassinari gives freely of his time and expertise to the truck camping community. This morning he gave a "Newbie Seminar" which was well attended by both newbies and seasoned TCers. Scheduled to last about 45 minutes we kept Mike going for about an hour and a half explaining the various systems on TCs, how they work and how to maintain and upgrade them. Thanks as always Mike.

One of our afternoon events was a beer and kielbasa/sausage tasting. We all brought specialty beers and food from our local areas. The Wagonmasters provided 3 oz cups and we all got to sample away. Local sausages, cheeses and specialty food magically disappeared also. No left overs!

This is one great group of truck camper friends.

We left Sunday AM, most back to work but us retirees back to cleaning the camper and getting ready for the next adventure. Looks like we may head out to Glacier National Park and more wonders of the west. Keep tuned.