Tuesday, 29 September 2015
Touring Lake Huron & Thousand Islands
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Ferry to Tobermory

The ferry left and arrive exactly on time. We had lunch on the boat and enjoyed the ride. Both the bow and stern open so we went on through the stern and off through the bow. Larger ferries have a turn around inside so you go on and off through the bow.

Brighton RV Park

We stayed at a KOA Campground with new owners beside Highway 401. They were excited to learn about RVillage as they are still working on their marketing plan. The site we chose turn out to be not very level and I managed to get in a jam with a fire ring made out of a truck wheel rim. We had to dig the wheel out so I could drive off to another site that really was level. There was no damage to the outside but there is some damage underneath the side panel. I talked to my insurance company (Progressive) and they said they would record the incident as a no fault accident. Not good for a new motorhome just 4 months old.  We will worry about getting the damage fixed when we get back to Nashville.

Brockville on the St Lawrence River

This is the town close to where Mavis grew up. I started my career there in 1962. While Nashville is now growing at a rate of 500 people per day, Brockville has only grown 2,000 people since 1975 a rate of 0.1 people per day. The locals have doubts the 2,000 is right. However, it's a beautiful old town on the St Lawrence River with lots of limestone buildings. It is now a successful retirement community with a new 14 story condo, hotel, and adventure center overlooking the river (see photo).

Alexandria Bay

We cleared US Customs with almost just a wave from the officer and went a few miles to a new campground, Swan Point Resort.  This is a new park in Alexandria Bay, NY that is probably the best new park in the country!  Our site was right on the St Lawrence River where we could watch the ocean going ships going by (see photo). The sites are level concrete with power, water, and sewer. The pedestal is on the left side when you enter the site which means you can watch the river out the sides and windshield. There is a large grocery store a 100 yards away with a paved sidewalk to it.  There is still lots of work going on to finish the park but the parts that are open are first class. We went there for one night and stayed for three.  Boldt Castle, Singer Castle, and the Antique Boat Museum were all visited and nearby (top row of photos in same order). Boldt Castle is owned by the 1000 Islands Bridge Authority and has been 80% beautifully restored since our last visit in the 70's when it was in ruins. (see photo comparison) and dining room. I was told $39 million had been spent so far all funds coming from bridge tolls. Singer Castle (top center) is privately owned and is 9 miles downstream from Boldt Castle.

 

 

 

 

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Posted on 09/29/2015 10:31 PM by Bob Duthie
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Saturday, 19 September 2015
Grand Marais-Chesapeake Bay Loop
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Returning to our shed in Murray one weekend we found a great puddle on the floor that looked like gray water. This meant a trip to Cullum & Maxey to get the problem fixed. Fortunately it was not a leak in the gray water tank but rather a split pipe in the gravity feed. As the water pump had been left on water was pumped out the leak over the rear wheel washing the dirt off the wheel on to the floor.  This made the puddle look like grey water. We left on schedule on Sept 9th headed for Grand Marais on the north shore of Lake Superior. The map shows our planned loop.

Grand Marais View-Navion Rally

The weather at Grand Marais was perfect with warm days and cool nights. My talk on our trip to Big Bend National Park was well received with many in the audience teaching me the proper way to say the many place names. There were about 90 people at the event and the crowding problems were solved by having some of the table outside the meeting place. We caught up with our many RV friends and showed our Trend off to a large number of interested visitors on tour day.  They were happy to hear Mavis now speaks kindly of the Trend. The event was over Thursday morning but we had another night at the RV park. We used the opportunity to visit Naniboujou Lodge. Leaving the campsite in the pouring rain we left our flag pole up which caused a great commotion but no damage was done. We also left our leveling blocks in our site. A kindly neighbor picked them up and got them back to us when we returned.

 

Naniboujou Lodge

This place was built in 1927 as a club and retreat for wealthy people from Minnesota and New York. Unfortunately the 1929 depression left a lot of wealthy people poor and membership tanked.  As a result the club failed and the many planned extras such as tennis courts and a lodge on the Canadian border were never built. The club is now in private hands and welcomes the public. The spectacular dining hall serves breakfast, lunch, tea, and dinner every day. We had the soup and sandwich for lunch which was excellent. That evening I went to an "Uplugged" West Virginia Public Radio concert in an enormous tent I watched being erected a couple of days before. The concert was a fund raiser for a school.

Bayfield WI

This has to be one of the all-time neatest towns we have visited in the past 8 years. There are art galleries, shops, and restaurants all over. Best of all it has a beautiful marina and marine museum. Bayfield is the gateway to the Apostle Islands and there are ferries that take you across to the major island.  We stayed at the City Campground that was highly touted by a friend at the rally but was pretty rustic. We were perched surrounded by trees in a tiny site 30 feet above the lake. I think my friend really meant Thompson's West End Park in Washburn which looked really inviting. Next time we will know better.

Marquette, MI

Tonight we are in the town park on the shore of Lake Superior with 110 sites, each with power. Surprisingly it is not listed on RVillage. Also surprisingly I could not find the address at 2145 Sugarloaf Ave. until I realized they use two words Sugar Loaf Ave. The Garmin GPS is not smart enough to figure that out but the shortened street address exists in another town 330 miles east. This will be the last post until Sept 28th as we will be in Canada and the cost to use the Internet very high.

Curious.com

In the past 18 months I sold only 3 copies of my "What to Expect Touring America's Great Southwest".  I did an interview with a friend as to how he planned trips. He told me he lists the friends he wants to see, the places he wants to visit, and then plans the route.  That gave me an idea to break the program into 27 "places" each with 3 to 15 minutes of video. Then I discovered Curious.com a website service that has 17,000 training courses. They were interested in starting some travel courses so our content fit right in. The entire Great Southwest is now available on Curious.com in the form of 5 Courses (one for each state) and 27 lessons.  Choose a course and then take the lessons for that course. I get paid for each course visited based on a percentage of the total courses visited in a month divided into 70% of their total revenue for the month. So far in two months course visits are growing rapidly and I have made more money than in the prior 18 months. Learners pay a monthly or annual fee and can take any number of courses during that period. You can now pay $8 and see all of my programs. The August revenue was up 299% over July. Who knows I make breakeven in another year or two. Are you feeling @curious. Click here to get 20% off.

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Posted on 09/19/2015 8:55 PM by Bob Duthie
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Friday, 11 September 2015
Grand National Rally at Forest City IA & Return Events
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We spent 5 days at the Grand National Rally (GNR).  The first day we took a bus tour to the Reiman Gardens at Iowa State University in Ames, IA and Boone, IA for the Scenic Valley train ride. It rained at the gardens which made for a hurried tour of the outside gardens. Inside they had a butterfly garden with lots of butterflies flying about. The rain stopped for the train ride and museum tour. The train was pushed and pulled by a 1950's vintage diesel engine and we rode in the tail end dining car where an excellent lunch was served.  At the rally we were in a row with the View Navions as well as the Minnie Winnies. Several friends were there that we had known at other rallies. At former GNRs four motor homes were placed in a cluster awning to awning. The crew placing units seemed to have forgotten about this and just placed units mostly front to back. The social mixing was far less than before. We had two incidents. First was a flat tire (picked up a small screw) which allowed us to check out the tire pressure monitor which worked well. The tire went flat in the park. I called CoachNet and a truck was dispatched from Albert Lea 40 miles away. The two man crew fixed the tire properly by removing it from the rim and putting a plug on the inside.  Having a spare tire (the Trend doesn't carry a spare) would not have made any difference. The second incident happened early one morning when a storm with high winds came through. It lifted our flag pole out of its mounts and fell on an adjacent motorhome splitting the pole in half. There was no damage to the other motorhome but it did scare the owners up out of their beds. The pole was toast but I was able to get a new one at a discount from the company that makes these poles. They exhibit every year at the GNR. The photo shows the entertainment on the last night by American English. They played Beatles and dressed in Beatles costumes.

Mark Twain Cave

On our way back to Murray we spent the first night in Hannibal, MO,  at the Mark Twain cave. This was the place he wrote about in Tom Sawyer. We had an excellent tour of the cave with about 15 other people. The park was pretty muddy after all the rain but we survived and weren't flooded out. The map shows the many rooms arranged in a grid. You could easily get lost in this cave.

 

Hawn State Park

The next night we found Hawn State Park near St. Genevieve, MO. It was first class. Large paved campsites with power and a stream that ran right behind us.  It's a great place for hikers with steep hills.

Summary

During this trip the Trend got a good workout travelling 2,586 miles. We used 187 gallons of gas and averaged 13.8 mpg. Most of the driving was at 65 mph.

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Posted on 09/11/2015 11:57 PM by Bob Duthie
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