Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Across the bay from the thumb

It was hard to say good bye to Mom this morning.  Thanks for everything, Mom. We love you. Drink your water.
After our good byes, we headed for the Ohio Turnpike and then north into Michigan.  I haven’t been to Michigan since I went to the Henry Ford museum near Dearborn in about 1963 with my Girl Scout troop.  Jim has never been to Michigan, so this is pretty much new territory for us.  

Just after Ann Arbor it started to rain.  The rain continued steady in some spots and just misty in others most of the way until we got to where we are right now:  Tawas Point State Park. Tawas Point is a “sand spit” -- a sand bar that extends off the mainland -- on Lake Huron at the mouth of the Saginaw Bay.  If you look at the “mitten” that makes up lower Michigan, Tawas Point State Park is northwest and across the bay from the tip of the thumb. 

This evening we took a walk to the Tawas Point Light House.  You can rent the living quarters in the light house for $250 a week but also have to give tours from noon to 6 p.m.  Yes, you read that last sentence correctly. 
Mom and our rig, right before we left Ohio for the 312 mile drive to Michigan's Tawas Point State Park. 
Jim and Cooper head out to the dog-friendly beach. It seems more like an ocean beach than a lake beach -- but then again it is a big lake.
Tawas Beach Light House. 
Our rig and tow car at our camping spot.  We usually don't like a full camp ground with close-together sites.  Even though this place has both, it's pretty darn quiet.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Taking off on Wednesday

Here's the plan.  Wednesday we'll leave Wellington, Ohio, where many years ago I grew up and where we've been staying with my Mom for nearly a month.  We'll head north to Tawas Point State Park (known as "the Cape Cod of the Midwest," says the park website) in Tawas, Michigan.  Tawas Point SP is on a little peninsula in Lake Huron.  We have reservations there for two nights.

Jim asked me to contact a nearby brewery to see if we could park there on night 3, and the brewery said yes.  Now Jim's not so sure that's a good choice.  Bottom line:  We're leaving Wednesday, heading north into Michigan and plan to explore Michigan's upper peninsula.  Then we'll meander west until September 4, when we have reservations at Rainbow Beach Resort on the Coleville Indian Reservation west of Inchelium, WA.  As for our plans after two days at Tawas Point and before September 4 ... those are just penciled in.  We were going to make the trip via Canada, but now maybe not. We'll figure it out on the fly.

To get ready for this leg I've washed the rig, Jim's cleaned up the tow car, and we
both cleaned the inside of the motorhome.  Jim replaced a holding tank vent cap he noticed was missing in Muscatine, Iowa.  We bought a new Verizon MiFi hotspot for our Internet connection (I'm anticipating Internet connection along the upper US to be bad, however, but we'll see).  Today Jim got some prescriptions filled and I bought groceries. 

This past weekend, however, we did more family visiting.  Saturday Jim and I drove to Port Clinton, Ohio, to see Neal, my ... well, technically he's my ex-brother-in law, but the ex in-laws will always be my relatives as long as they'll have me.  EBIL (I guess that's the acronym) Neal and his wife, ESIL Toni, live on the Ohio River in Bellevue, Kentucky, but also have a home in Port Clinton.  Port Clinton is on Lake Erie, almost midway between Toledo and Cleveland.  It’s the gateway to several of Ohio’s Lake Erie Islands, including Kelley's Island, South Bass, and Middle Bass, and is near Cedar Point Amusement Park and wineries. 

(I looked up Lake Erie Islands on Wikipedia and Lake Erie has 28 islands.  I did not know that.  Ten belong to Ontario, one to Michigan, one to both Michigan and Ohio, and the rest to Ohio.  Other sources list even more islands, but I think they are pretty small.)

Toni couldn’t be in Port Clinton, but it was fun talking with Neal and seeing their beautiful home which is rightonthelake.  I mean Right. On. The. Lake.  What a view.  Thanks Neal for hosting us and see you next time, Toni.  Best wishes for the soon-to-be-born first grandchild.

Yesterday we picked up our son, Paul, from his home in Lakewood, Ohio -- a west side Cleveland suburb -- and drove to my brother and sister-in-law's home in Brecksville, which is southeast of Cleveland.  Bob and Suzie had just gotten back from Vermont, where they've vacationed almost every year for decades.  They gave Jim a jar of Vermont IPA jelly and  a four-pack of Heady Topper IPA beer, also made in Vermont.  Jim likes the beer and says it packs a punch.  They jelly we do not yet have the nerve to try.  But we will.

Today is Bob and Suzie's 41st wedding anniversary, so happy WA!

Jim, Bev and Neal.   
Jim with three of Bob and Suzie's seven (at the moment) resident miniature poodles.  Bob and Suzie have raised poodles since they've been married and Suzie for longer than that.  Suzie is retired and an officer in the Poodle Club of America; Bob is a veterinarian.

Son Paul holds the week-old single puppy of one of the poodles, Evilyn.
Digging in to a great dinner of  grilled chicken, corn on the cob (the first Jim and I have had all summer), wild and brown rice and some sort of yummy cake drizzled with lime.  From L to R:  Mom, Jim, SIL Suzie, brother Bob, son Paul.
This is weird but I like the effect.  It's a reflection of me (with Bob and Paul) taking a photo of Mom through a window.  I'm outside on a deck; Mom is sitting in Bob and Suzie's  living room.
Suzie making a point during a discussion with Paul.
A man and his dog.  I can't tell one poodle from the other (except for a brown one named Leroy) but this may be Squirt, who goes to Bob's vet office with him every morning and believes he's the office manager.  Bob, either I got you mid blink or your eyes are weird.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Crazy a*s pilot

When Jim and I got back from a few errands this afternoon, Mom said a nearby plane was flying very low.  I heard a kind of grinding engine, looked out her window, saw a field being crop dusted (or crop liquided, maybe) and ran outside to take photos.  Jim said it would be fun to fly the plane (and he'd be the guy to do it) if it weren't for the chemicals. He also gave me the title for this post, plus a couple other similarly colorful statements. Considering all the electric poles and wires near here, doing this would take some careful planning. 

Close up of the plane that was spraying a field near Mom's.
The plane dive bombed a field,  trailed by a cloud of spray.
And then it came back. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Family, friends and food

This morning Mom, Jim and I had a wonderful breakfast made by my cousin, Barb.  Barb and her husband, Ron, grew up in Grafton, Ohio and still live there in a house they bought 50 years ago.  Barb retired from a career as a grade school teacher.  Ron was a cabinetmaker and finish carpenter and can build just about anything -- including the room he, Mom and Barb are sitting in.

Mom, Ron, and Barb laugh about who knows what.  Barb and Ron have four kids, 10 grandchildren and lots of family photos on the walls and bookshelves of their family room.
Still laughing.
Here in a little more formal pose.  Barb and Ron celebrate their 51st wedding anniversary this coming Sunday, July 28.
And this time I join the group.  Thanks to Jim for being our photog.

Then this afternoon I saw my Girl Scout, junior high and high school friend Anne Weber Rosemark.  Anne and I ate cannolis while catching up on years and years of you name it.

Bev and Anne at the Bread and Brew in downtown Wellington. Anne's been married 40 years and has not only grandchildren but two great-grandchildren.  Jim and I will be married 10 years this coming January, so I'm feeling pretty behind in the marriage department -- although if you count his, mine and ours we have 58 years.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Thistle removal project

Lawns in this neck of the woods (northeastern Ohio) are huge and the vast majority are  immaculately mowed and trimmed.  My Mom's yard/lawn included.  I couldn't tell you how big Mom's lawn is in square feet or acres, but a neighbor mows it frequently with a big and fast riding mower, and it takes him over an hour.

Being out in the country and all, my Mom's lawn has some weeds, including the very-hard-to-get-rid-of thistle.   For the past couple of days, Jim and I have been hand pulling thistles, even though Mom told us to stop because it's useless.  We have pulled -- no lie -- about 1500 thistles.  I know because I put 100 thistles in a large white bucket and estimated from there.  And I've always been good at those contests where you guess how many candies/coins/whatevers are in the glass bottle.

Since it's rained so much we've gotten the tap roots out on many of the thistles; we're hoping the others get discouraged and decide not to return.  That may be wishful thinking.  I read on line that you can get rid of a thistle by squirting a syringe full of white vinegar into its center.  A syringe full of Round Up maybe.  Either option sounds more labor intensive than I'm up for. But the bottom line is that Mom will have a thistle-free lawn for at least a couple of weeks.  

Also:  Happy Pioneer Day, Utah!
Mom and a thistle bouquet from her lawn.  

Monday, July 22, 2013

Cleveland's West Side Market

Today we went to the West Side Market, an indoor/outdoor market in the Ohio City neighborhood of Cleveland, just west of downtown. It's been in operation since 1840; much of the land was donated by two former Ohio City mayors and businessmen who stipulated the land be used as a neighborhood market.  The West Side Market has two main sections:  one with fruits and veggies (we bought peaches and nectarines) and a bigger section with baked goods and meats (we bought cannolis).
Inside view of an aisle at the West Side Market.  There are 185 vendor stalls in the markets two main areas.
The outside of the building where the meat and baked goods are.  Per Wikipedia, the vendors include, among others, people of Irish, German, Slovene, Italian, Greek Polish, Russian and Middle Eastern descent.
After wandering the  market we had lunch at the nearby Great Lakes Brewing Company.  
This woman was just outside the market playing the accordion.  Kind of reminds us of Portland, OR.
We were supposed to take our son Paul to the West Side Market and the Great Lakes Brewery but missed our connection.  So we saw him in the afternoon and took him out for a late lunch at a restaurant near Lakewood called Si Senors.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Cheese Heritage Festival, Wellington, Ohio

This weekend Wellington, Ohio, hosted the Cheese Heritage Festival, which celebrates my hometown's history as the nation's one-time leader in cheese production.  Cheese was big in Wellington back in the mid to late 1800s and the town had more than 40 cheese factories.  Milk for the cheese came from Holstein cows; according to local legend one of the leading citizens purchased a Holstein called Molly Braun in Holland, and many of Molly's decendents helped provide the milk.

We had Holsteins on our family farm.  My brothers and I showed them at the county fair, along with the occasional Brown Swiss, which seemed a little sweeter tempered to me.  As for the folks that ran all those cheese businesses in the 1800s, the Warner and Horr families were the big names then.  I'm not sure if any of the Warner or Horr descendants still live in town, but they did when I was a kid. My dad was on a financial committee for the First Methodist Church and I remember him telling a story about the group discussing fund raising possibilities.  One of the committee members suggested getting donations from "all the Horrs in town,” which is a funnier said out loud. 

This year’s Cheese Festival unfortunately got a bit of a literal damper when a huge rain storm hit early Saturday.  By about noon the rain let up so we checked out the festivities.  There were food tents (including cheese and cheesecake), a beer tent, a wine tent with five local wineries, games for kids plus programs and fun stuff all weekend. You can check it out at the link in my first sentence.

After purusing the festival, Jim and I walked round town and I took photos of a few Wellington architectural details, which are below.  Wellington really is a lovely town, especially the homes on South Main Street, many of which I read were built during the cheese hey day. A little more history and some larger photos of a few buildings can be seen in an earlier post I did by clicking here.
According to the town's website former Ohio govenor, amabassador to France,  and home-town boy Myron T. Herrick donated money for Wellington's library.
A detail on Wellington's middle school.  When I was a kid, I attended all 12 years of school in this building.  I think the town is planning on building a new school and I've heard this building might be torn down and the site made into a park. 
A detail on the current middle school I never noticed before.
A front porch on South Main Street.
And another front porch.

Not sure where in town I saw this.  But I like it. 
One of the buildings in the business district of town.

I think this is the only remaining remnant of  Wellington's once-thriving cheese industry.
On the First United Methodist Church.
Also on the First United Methodist Church.
A sign on the front porch of Bonnie's sister Leslie, whose photo I ran in my last post.

I've always liked this South Main Street home and it's grounds/yard.
Another front porch details with flowers.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Friendly Inn and friends

Yesterday Mom had a doctor's appointment in Medina, Ohio, 18 miles east of Wellington, so we all trundled off to Medina.  Afterwards we stopped for lunch at the "Friendly Inn," a restaurant on Route 18 that Mom said she's always wanted to visit but never had. It looked interesting, she said, but maybe it wasn't a place a lady should go to by herself. 

Friendly Inn had a bunch of guys at the bar, dart games, a karaoke set up, a place for a band,  and two efficient sisters serving a good lunch. Looked like the ladies of our group would be just fine.  Mom had a fish sandwich; Jim and I both had burgers. Then we took some photos and texted them to my niece and nephew so they could see what Grandma was up to.

When I got home a new purse I'd ordered from Amazon was here.  Yay!  It's olive green with  7 pockets I'm supplementing with snack-sized Ziplocs and a couple of zippered bags so the bottom of my purse is not a jumbled mess.

Best of all, in the evening Mom and I visited the mom and two sisters of my Wellington school friend, Bonnie.  As a kid I spent a lot of time at Bonnie's house (I saw my first color TV show at her home -- "The Wizard of Oz"), went to slumber parties with her (I was a farm girl, she was a town girl; she once old me my house was too dark and too quiet to sleep in -- but maybe it was too quiet because there were 9 kids in her family and 3 in mine), and we were active in Girl Scouts. We stayed friends after I went to college and later moved to Utah. I saw her every time I came back to Ohio. 

Bonnie died suddenly from a brain aneurysm 10 years ago. It was a shock and I miss her.  But I'm glad I can stay in touch with her family.
Mom and her lunch at the Friendly Inn.  The sweet potato fries were more than dusted with sugar and cinnamon. And there was enough for all three of us.
Mom and Jim in front of the Friendly Inn.  Mom said it "was clean enough," which works for us.
My Baggalini messenger sling bag and (for now) it's only contents.  It's big enough to also carry my full-sized camera and extra lens when I don't want to lug my camera bag.  Since the purse is a messenger bag and dark green, Jim will carry it in a pinch -- plus he won't complain like he does when I take my pink Fossil bag on impromptu hike.

Bonnie's sisters Angela (who was recovering from a Fourth of July tumble on the sidewalk that left her bruised) and Leslie, Bonnie's Mom, me, and my Mom.  Bonnie's mom has always been great to me as have the rest of the family.  Bonnie's mom wrote a great novelette about her marriage to her kids' dad (who died when Bonnie was 14) called "My First Love Affair." She's promised to write the sequel about her second marriage.  My mom and I want to read that one, too. (Thanks to Leslie's son, Theo, for being our photographer.)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Kayaking at Spencer Lake in Spencer, Ohio

We could have called this post "Up a Lake Without a Paddle," but fortunately Mom's house is only 15 minutes from Spencer Lake.  So when we realized after unloading our boats that we'd forgotten our paddles, Jim stayed with the kayaks while I made a quick drive back to Mom's.

We like a quiet paddle, and that's what we got at Spencer Lake.  Only one other boater was there today -- a guy fishing from a kayak who immediately took off for a corner on the south side.  Other than lots of birds -- especially two big herons -- and a fish that startled me when he jumped next to my boat, it was beautifully quiet.  

Spencer Lake is divided into two sections by a grass berm/dam with a sidewalk on top.  A map of the lakes makes the south lake look larger, so that's where we put in the boats.  Then we wanted to explore the north side so we got out of the water, dragged out the boats, found a spot where we could access the water, carried the boats over there and got back in.  While paddling the north lake Jim found what he called "the northwest passage"-- a metal culvert big enough for a kayak connecting the two lakes.

Jim gets in his kayak with the straddle-your-boat-then-drop-in-your-butt technique.
Jim watches one of the two herons that were fishing on the lake.
A Blue Heron.
Close up of the big bird.

Spencer Lake is part of the 618-acre Spencer Wildlife Area and is just northeast of the small town of Spencer, Ohio, in Medina County.  The lake has bluegill, catfish and bass. Besides fishing and hiking (more like walking, but there are a few paths), the area has an archery range.

Today is another humid day and Mom's thermometer hit 100 this afternoon.  That's way too warm for Jim.  But there was a breeze and I thought it was very comfortable out on the water. Glad we had on our sunscreen, though.
Self-portrait of the photographer.  I really like my PFD (personal flotation device, or what we used to call "life jackets.")    It's a Stohlquist Cruiser, has a high back that fits above the seat of my kayak, and is very comfortable. Plus it's a girly jacket with flowers embroidered on it.
Jim entering the culvert that connects the south and north sides of the lake.  
And Jim coming out of the Northwest Passage. It was too narrow to paddle, so when we needed an assist we just used our hands.
After our last paddle at Findley State Park my right hip hurt.  Mom gave me a foam pillow (it's actually one of those pillows you put around your neck so you can sleep sitting up in an airplane) and it worked perfectly.  We paddled Spencer Lake for almost three hours and my hip was fine.