Tuesday, September 6, 2011

2011-25 Indiana to Michigan


Montana Keystone Rv Tour

Whitehall Revisited

Loda Lake Wildflower Sanctuary

Campground:  Blue Lake, Muskegon County campground.  $24.  50amp elect/water.  Small county park on Blue lake.  Country living and only 18 minutes to Whitehall.

My last day in the Elkhart/Goshen area where all the Rv’s are made was a full day of touring.  I drove down to Goshen where the Keystone RV manufacturer has it’s headquarters and a huge campus of  warehouse buildings.  Each dedicated to building a different camper line.

If you own an RV or are thinking of buying one, you must come to this area and take a tour of at least a couple of the manufacturers.  As I told someone when asked why I was in the area, I said I had to bring my Montana Mountaineer back to it’s birthplace for a visit. And of course I was interested in finding out exactly how they built the camper.

Now they didn’t have my Mountaineer on the factory line, but they were building some JY-normous Montana’s.  The poor tour guide hardly had time to explain how they were made as the 10 people on the tour, including myself had a ton of questions about each aspect of the camper, as we all owned one, including a couple who was there to see there’s being built.  They were three days early, as there had been a delay in the schedule.  Our tour guide told us that the workers start at 4:30 in the morning and get out by 2pm.  They lost about 8 days of manufacturing due to the summer heat in July as the buildings are not air-conditioned.  Hence the early morning work schedule.

I learned things like:

  • The linoleum floor does not cover the entire camper.  (older campers always did even under the carpeting).  Meaning it no longer acts as a protective moisture barrier for the entire floor.
  • The sewer lines coming from the three holding tanks are perfectly horizontal, which causes the gray water to sit there until you go to dump again and then you’ve got a surprise of a gallon or so of dirty water running out on the ground before you can attach the sewer hose.  An obvious design flaw which I took care of by attaching an additional shut off valve right before the end sewer cap.  
  • The remote control which recently malfunctioned on my camper (for the slides, awning, stabilizers) can be reprogrammed.  Great to know how to do that.
  • Questions on underbelly construction are to be researched and answers gotten back to us.
  • It takes approx. two days to build a Montana 5th wheel camper.  With about 10 on the line at any given time going down the track.  

So it was an interesting tour and of course I took as many pictures as I could.  Gosh, some of these campers are getting huge.  And I thought my 35 ft camper was big…. Some of the new ones have two bedrooms, two baths and two outside doors along with 5 slides.

Lower Michigan

I came up hwy 131 through Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids across onto 96 to my next destination outside of Whitehall Michigan.  This is where my sister Dorothy and her husband Dave Wilmer’s live.  It’s a lovely community a few miles from Lake Michigan, next to a harbor that separates Whitehall from Montague. Sailboats with their tall masts bobbing in the water around the marina community.

The Wilmer’s just had their family reunion here and I heard it was quit a success.  Dave is in great spirits and looking slimmer and healthy, even though he only has about 30% use of his lungs and is on oxygen, has diabetes and takes a drawer full of meds.  He and the family have had their share of scares with his health in recent years, so seeing him doing so well is wonderful.  And of course, Dave being a superb chef, I get to enjoy his home cooking.  Fresh breads, minestrone soup with mini meatballs all made from scratch.  French toast and bacon in the morning, crab cakes or homemade pizza in the evening.  I may never leave.

Dorothy and I decided to go on a days excursion to find the Loda Lake Wildflower Sanctuary.  It’s listed on my National Geographic Map and we thought, even though it’s August (not exactly in-season for wildflowers),  we’d take the drive anyway.  Drove through lots of forested and farm land and a number of fruit farms.  Peaches, cherries, apples….

Well as I’m sure you’ve already figured out, there were no spring flowers, but since this was an adventure and picture taking opportunity, we had a chance to stop and take a few pictures of old barns, corn cribs along the way and at Loda Lake we found an array of mushrooms and toad stools.  White, orange and bright reds were all along the hiking trail.  We’d barely get a few feet on down the path before we’d stop to take some close-ups of the next mushroom, or views of the lake covered in lily pads.

Dorothy commented a couple times on how quiet is was.  What a peaceful setting and something I get to enjoy so often along my adventures on down the road or I should say, off the road.  We saw some recent evidence of a possible bear, but fortunately didn’t encounter one.  A perfect sun dappled day with temps hoovering in the 74 degree range.

Back at Blue Lake campground, Sunday morning, I was invited to join a worship service on down by the picnic area.  A local preacher and his troop of singers (quite good I might add) were preparing for the open air service.  The sermon was on soaring like the eagle, perseverance and getting tired but with His strength one could rise above and soar like the eagle.  With my niece, Heidi battling cancer my thoughts were more on her struggle, along with her husband and 7 children.  (A prayer for Heidi and her family sure would be appreciated).  Observing a number of parishioners being baptized in the lake, one dunk, two dunk…., the sun shining brightly, a breeze and blue blue sky overhead.

It’s labor day weekend and rainy.  The campground was filled to capacity by Wed. evening, with many campers just dropping of their campers for the long, now wet, weekend.  I sit inside reading a book, with plans to go out to lunch later.  Dorothy has to work today at Pamidas.  They are changing all their clothing prices to a lower price this weekend so she’ll be working after hours with the rest of the workers to do mark downs.  Michigan has just instituted a new law no longer requiring price tags on all goods which will make Dorothy’s life at work a little easier.

I drove over to Fremont Mich. the other day.  A nice size community in central lower Mich.  It’s the home of Gerber Baby Food company.  One of those ideal communities with a good industry, lake side homes and away from the crush of big city living.  There’s even a large grain elevator in town adding to the farm community feeling.

So that’s pretty much my two week stay in lower Michigan visiting family once again.  I so much enjoy receiving news from all you armchair readers, so a big thanks to everyone who has taken the time to drop me a line.  Being able to keep in contact with you makes my life so much fuller.

more pictures on PICASA.

Happy Trails till next time.

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