Dropped below freezing last two nights here. Leaves falling in clouds. Bare trees standing there…shivering.

All the cheery, bright sun doesn’t change the fact that it’s a pretty bleak landscape here in the midwest this time of year. And cold without all those green leaves.

In the course of processing these images, the program reminds me periodically “saving draft”. Sheesh, cold enough without saving a draft!

Think I’ll go put on a sweater.


We left the shoreline in Michigan City this morning with a glorious sun shining from our left.

Good thing, because we were headed toward Kokomo through some pretty dreary countryside. Flat northern Indiana in very late fall is not my idea of glorious vacationland. Nice, bright sun would at least show things in their best light.


At our first stop we were greeted by the incredibly red tree you see to the right. And the backlit presentation helped it stand out even more from its dreary surroundings.

Back lighting is usually to be avoided. It usually dims colors, certainly makes proper exposure much more difficult, and it usually obscures at least some details.

Ahhh, but when it shines through leaves….

When it highlights the feathery edges of downy weeds gone to seed….

When it produces special colors and shades in the clouds it shines through….

When it shows the internal structure and colors of grasses….

Well, maybe it’s okay.

If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute

Woke up to rain….headed to a sweet little cafe for breakfast. Had found it on our mapping software, and wanted it from internet comments.

Nice move….Luisa’s Cafe in Harbert on Red Arrow Highway was a gem!

We were just up the road from Warren Dunes, and HAD to stop for a look at Tower Hill before leaving the area.

It was lonely.

The Big Taxi doesn’t look so big next to that hill.

Still raining, but we wanted to see the Lake Michigan shoreline in more detail toward Chicago than we’d done in the years of living here in our youth, so we trundled along.

Nice move….by the time we got to New Buffalo’s beach the rain had stopped, and by the time we spent 20 minutes walking on their sand the sun was out! Oh, and they had a South Bend Chocolate store….

Robyn likes marinas, and New Buffalo has a really extensive one with condos built between multiple channels. Michigan City’s marina looked to be as big, so we headed there.

Lovely sun and skies, but lots of wind that could cut you in half without a jacket! Look how we were able to park the Taxi almost on the beach. And look how we could see the Sears Tower and other skyscrapers in Chicago from our shoreline!

We had a blast walking their beach and pier out to the lighthouse….had to stop half way there because the waves were splashing across the pier! Wore out Ross and Ryan.

Lots of big, empty parking lots for their beach, marina, and Coast Guard station. We took a chance and caught a guy who looked to be working around the marina building. Yep, he was a security-type guy, and sure, we could park there for the night.

Oh my goodness, we’re parked 50 feet from the water, on two sides of us are expansive, grassy parks, and we have all the globes of light in the marina to keep us company! The security guy even gave us a clue about a real nice place to eat breakfast just a block away.

Life is real good….you just have to give it time to develop.

It was a dark and stormy night…..

What a welcome back we received from Michigan this evening!

We spent most of the day in Mishawaka where it was unbelievably gorgeous: 72 degrees, nice breeze, sunny. We hesitated to move north because the forecast was for rain in the afternoon into the evening.

I wanted to see the St Joe pier and lighthouse, and knew it could be quite the sight around sundown when clouds were involved. Shucks, maybe we’d get lucky and there’d be lightning!

Threatening skies all the way up. We drove down to Silver Beach, stepped out, rain drops tapped us on the shoulders.

HA, it takes more than that to put us off. We stayed out….the rain stopped.

The skies were amazing! And changing every minute!

The boys are always intrigued by the sound of waves and by walking on sand. We all had a great time. Ryan is a good companion for me when I need to shoot photos, because he will stand patiently beside me while I shoot, or will explore playground equipment by himself. Ross has to walk, has to walk, has to walk.

We wore ’em out!

Robyn suggested parking at Cracker Barrel for the night, and at first I was put off by moving that direction down the coast. Ahhhh, the light dawned: breakfast tomorrow!


We spent the day still parked beside the factory of coachbuilder Newmar Corp.

Lots of company, because this is where customers park who are scheduled for warranty or other factory work. Pretty cool to be parked with two dozen big rigs, with most of them only a year or two old.

Lovely weather! Took the opportunity to walk over and over with the boys. Finished installing some trim pieces on the tub/shower. Used the tub again with the twins, and they loved it more than ever!

Walked some more.

Being plugged in to 50amp electric and all the water and sewer you can ever use, sure helps us relax! We did four loads of laundry with the stereo playing all day. All the lights we need, used the electric stove, about to start a movie.

Walked some more. Took the picture below.


A study in contrasts

Sheesh, a Corvette rally held in Amish country!

I can’t always spend the time I want (and need) to get the best photo for you, but this photo helps set the scene: over 200 Corvettes gathered on a grassy field beside Amish Acres in Nappanee, IN. Deep in the heart of Amish country, with buggies parked across the street and clip-clopping past every few minutes.

The shot I missed was classic: traffic was halted on the road to allow a stream of Vettes to leave the rally at day’s end, and the lead vehicle to wait was an Amish buggy!

We arrived early and parked the Taxi on gravel beside the grassy field. Stretched out one side for the day. I showered, we walked Ross and Ryan past rows and rows of Corvettes, we ate lunch, walked some more, bought some wonderful apple/raisin pumpkin cookies (had to wait for them to come out of the oven…well, okay….I guess we’ll wait!), took naps, walked some more.

Nice day.

Ended up a block away at the campground for Newmar, who builds coaches very much like ours. The man who just modified our shower base into a tub also builds the same shower bases for Newmar’s new coaches. We want them to see what he’s done, and suggest they offer an optional shower with tub.

That means we’re all hooked up and plugged in, and so Ross and Ryan get to try out their new tub tonight with all the bubbly hot water they want!


Oooooooo, they love it!

Such sweet, happy, cooperative, clean young men!

A nostalgic week

It’s sure been “old home” week.

Started last weekend with Robyn’s high school reunion. We really enjoyed reconnecting with a number of her classmates.

This week we’ve been having coach work done at three different Indiana shops, each of which produced some of the features for our coach when it was built. They’re all within 25 miles of each other.

Tonight, we’re parked just yards from the former factory where the coach was actually built. They’ve closed, but many of their former employees remain employed in this area doing similar work, and several of them worked on our coach this week.

It’s reassuring to find so many shops to do our work whose employees really know our coach in all its details. More reassuring to find our systems continue to work extremely well, and their complexity was understood from the beginning in order to fit together properly. Details, details.

As we trumpeted two days ago, we’ve modified the shower stall base to raise its lip to form a tub for Ross and Ryan. Been sweating bullets yesterday and today helping the shop make the modification.

It’s in and we’ve showered in it! The glues and sealers need a little more time to fully set before we subject them to the stresses of the boys banging in a pool of water. Tomorrow!

Not ready for photos because we need some trim installed, and the shower rod & curtain….

Down to 35 tonight…testing our new basement heater for the water tanks.

Forgot to say goodbye

Ha, on the way out of Berrien Springs this past Sunday we stopped for yummy Roma’s pizza, and ate it while overlooking Lake Chapin.

Took this photo. Forgot to post it.

Getting coach work in Bremen. Made an improvement in the heating system for our basement that will pretty well ensure our water tanks never freeze! Also added a major electrical appliance that protects us from not only spikes but also drops in voltage that can damage our systems….a fairly frequent risk at the various old and new campgrounds we encounter, usually due to heavy demand in summer.

Tomorrow….we begin the modifications to the shower stall that will accomodate the structure being built for us that will allow the boys to sit….and soak….in a tub while retaining the shower feature.

We expect this to be a Big Deal. Partly, it risks diminishing the effect of the present structure, but it will certainly increase the boys’ enjoyment of their home.

Tear out some stuff tomorrow, then expect to add new stuff on Friday at another shop. Holding our breaths!

Back to work

Well, you know how we do it….others work and we play!

Drove down to Elkhart last night so we’d be in place this morning for a shop to replace a valve on one of our leveling jacks. Done in a hour or so, but we need to hang around so as to test the fix overnight.

Had to finish getting the transmission filled with fluid since the shop here in Elkhart that changed the fluid last week failed to realize which transmission we have, and shorted us by 20 quarts!

Once all that was out of the way, there was a good half day for us to spend getting exercise and catching rays! We found a really lovely park just a couple miles from the day’s work, and set up camp there. Cool bowl used for tobagganing; the boys had fun walking down and up its hills. Lots of crunchy leaves. Fabulous swings and playground.

Ross gets such fun out of swinging high…he never lets go of his handfuls of blocks, so reaches around the chains on the swings and grips with his wrists or forearms!

Ryan cannot simply climb up and walk around….he must go backwards down steps, or stand on the top step while s-l-i-d-i-n-g his hands down the railing until he is nearly standing on his nose! As thrilling as he is to watch, there is never any reason to get panicked, because he is always aware of gravity and his ability to to maintain control. He’s not really a daredevil….well, maybe a little.

Tomorrow….we leave for Wakarusa….for the first look at what should become a bathtub for Ross and Ryan. We might get lucky and it will be installed and functional tomorrow! It’s a big deal.

Reunion weekend, cont

The Andrews Academy Alumni Weekend always includes a Saturday night flag football game between the school varsity teams (male and female) against get-up teams from the alumni. I missed the report about the running record for these challenges, perhaps mercifully.

We went to the field a bit early to scout a spot for the Taxi, and found ourselves invited to park on the field in order to make it possible for Ross and Ryan to enjoy the game on a cold night from inside the coach! Check out the picture….you couldn’t sit as close in the bleachers!

We opened the windows for sound, cranked up the heater for warmth, and blew the air horns each time an alumni team scored!

Worked for the female team….they won! Apparently not loud enough for the male team.

What a great time!

Once again these sweet little burdens….who triggered this whole Big Taxi odyssey….were the reason we were handed the keys to the city!

Then Sunday morning we met Robyn’s classmates for brunch. A slightly different group of people attended, so we share the picture here.

It was great to connect! There were many others we hugged, talked to, and ate with. Living in the parking lot made for great convenience and some added conversation! We appreciate the school’s great kindness to allow us parking space and use of their water and RV dump station.