Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Pittsburgh!

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  We’re back in the city for all of our yearly doctor, dentist, truck inspection and other dull but necessary appointments. But along with all of that we’ll get to visit friends and relatives that we haven’t seen since last year – fun stuff!

Not much will be happening around here for a few weeks but check back around mid September. If all goes well we’ll be starting on a much anticipated trip along Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica. We hope to visit all of the classic landmarks, little museums and interesting sights along the way and maybe even eat at a few diners. :-D   Thanks for visiting our blog – see you again in a few weeks!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Toledo Botanical Garden

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  Paved paths wind through 40 acres of the garden. Most of the property is in a natural state with grassy lawns and trees. About a half dozen small themed gardens are tucked into the corners. If you visit on the weekend you can also go to the Blair Museum of Lithophanes which is located on the grounds.
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  The main paths are accessible however there are two arched bridges that visitors using wheelchairs may find hard to manage without help. Some of the themed garden paths may be muddy.

  Small RVs will fit in either the north or south lot but the south lot off of West Bancroft Street is better for large RVs.  Garden
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Saturday, August 22, 2015

Harvest Hosts

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  Since we were driving right past these Harvest Hosts sites we decided to check them out (and buy some goodies) even though we weren’t going to spend the night.

   The employees and hosts at both sites are very friendly and welcoming. They allowed us to park at the campsites to take photographs for future reference. Pictured above is the nicely  wooded site near the blueberry patch at Montrose Orchard. The road is narrow and bumpy but any RV should be able to manage it. We bought some delicious peaches and blueberry honey.
43.18882, -83.88089
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  Almar Orchards specializes in organic hard cider but also has organic eggs, cheese, butter, apples, pork and vegetables. Pigs control pests by rooting out harmful grubs around the trees and eating windfall apples. We bought some organic pork, apples, cheese, sweet cider and dried cherries. Pictured above is one location for Harvest Hosts camping. The other is in a large gravel lot about 1/4 from the store.  Harvest Hosts
43.02745, -83.91107
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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center

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  Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center is the visitor center for the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Unlike most other marine sanctuaries, which protect sea life, this one protects shipwrecks. Unpredictable weather, murky fog banks, sudden gales, and rocky shoals have made Thunder Bay a shallow graveyard for 100s of vessels. Some of the wrecks are in such clear, shallow water that it’s possible to view them on glass bottom boat tours. It’s also a popular diving spot. However, if like us, you don’t dive and get seasick very easily, the Heritage Center has great exhibits with a lot of information.
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   A full-size replica of a wooden Great Lakes schooner shipwreck fills the main hall. The howling of a storm and the crew preparing to face it can be heard in the living quarters of the ship. Up on top the deck is tilted at an angle as the schooner rides the waves. The rest of the center has exhibits about the history and wildlife of the area,  and details about the many shipwrecks. One room contains artifacts recovered from the Pewabic, a wooden ship carrying 175 passengers and a cargo of cooper and iron ore, that went down on August 9, 1865 after colliding with another ship. Short films on a variety of subjects are shown in a continuous loop in the theater.  A section of the Alpena Bi-Path with interpretive signs can be accessed from the center.
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  The center and theater are accessible. The schooner living quarters is accessible  and the deck can be accessed by following the ramp. The deck is slanted at such an angle that it may be difficult for visitors with wheelchairs or mobility issues to stay balanced. The Bi-Path is wide, flat and smooth.

The main parking lot is across the street from the center. Look for the sign. The sidewalks and curb cuts are good.  Center
45.06778, -83.43317
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Kewadin Casino - Manistique

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  This is a very small casino with dry camping on the pavement or electric hookups in the grass. The electric hook up spaces may be free.

The casino is accessible with easy to move chairs and easy to reach money and card slots.   Casino
45.9695, -86.16178
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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Fayette Historic State Park

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  A good port, limestone cliffs, and a seemingly endless supply of trees for the charcoal kilns made Fayette an ideal location for smelting pig iron. Iron ore from Upper Peninsula mines was shipped by rail to Fayette. After the completion of the smelting process, bars of pig iron were loaded onto barges to continue their journey to steel-making centers on the shores of the Great Lakes.
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   At its peak nearly 500 people lived in Fayette. The blast furnaces operated from 1867 and 1891 and produced 229,288 tons of iron. When the furnaces were shut down, the population dwindled and the town became a resort and fishing village.  Escanaba Paper Company purchased the land which they then traded for timberland leading to the establishment of Fayette Historic State Park. The park includes a visitor center, restored buildings with interpretive displays, hiking trails, and a campground.
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  The main parking lot is on a hill above the visitor center and the town with access by steps and a steep, paved path. An accessible lot is located near the campground - map. The road to the lot is dirt and narrow. The parking lot is small so it’s not suitable for RVs larger than 25’.  Due to the steep path going up to the visitor center I recommend skipping it. The only display is a large diorama of the town as it looked during the smelting era. The gravel paths through the main part of town are fairly level and mostly accessible. The road to the furnace complex is a bit rough and up a hill. Five of the buildings have ramps. We did not visit the campground.

The main parking lot has plenty of room for RVs.  Park
45.71722, -86.66736
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Island Resort & Casino

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  Dry camping in the lot is fine or you can stay in the RV park with electric and water hookups. ($20.00) The entrance to the RV park is in the far south east corner of the casino parking lot.

  The casino is accessible with fairly light chairs and easy to reach money and card slots.   Casino
45.70103, -87.33804
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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Cornish Pump and World War II Glider Museums

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  These are separate museums with a short sidewalk from one to the other. Tickets are purchased in the gift shop where the entrance to the pump museum is located. The exit of the pump museum goes directly to the sidewalk to the glider museum.  If you want to go to the glider museum only you’ll have to walk through the grass around the pump museum to the entrance of the glider museum. Both museums are fairly small.
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   The Cornish pump was built to remove water from the iron mines in Iron Mountain. It’s largest reciprocating steam-driven engine ever built in the United States. Besides the huge pump the museum also has old photographs and mining equipment.
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  The glider museum tells the story of gliders used during WWII to silently land troops and supplies behind enemy lines. The gliders were towed by powered aircraft and released to land where there weren’t any airstrips. The Ford Motor Company in Kingsford was refit to build the gliders and the auto workers became plane builders.
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  Both of these museums are opened in the summer only and do not have any type of climate control. It was about 85 degrees outside the day that we visited and the pump museum, which is a metal building with no insulation, was over 100 degrees inside. The glider museum was somewhat cooler.
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The concrete sidewalk leading to the gift shop is slightly sloped and the door opens outward making entering a bit difficult. The pump museum is accessible except for one section that is blocked by a ore car. The glider museum is accessible.

The parking lot is large enough for RVs. Long RVs will fit if parked parallel to the grass.   Museums
45.82477, -88.07011
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Potawatomi Carter Casino

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   We parked in the outskirts of the casino lot but there’s also a small RV park that appears to be free so if you need electricity check it out. Level and very quiet.

The casino is just a short walk/roll from the RV park or the spot where we parked. The chairs are fairly easy to move and the money and card slots are easy to reach. Casino

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Monday, August 17, 2015

St. Croix Casino

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  RV parking is located on the opposite side of Hwy 63 from the casino, behind the large white barn. A waiting room with a phone to call for shuttle pick up is provided. I don’t think that the shuttle is wheelchair accessible and crossing the busy four lane highway is difficult. If you tow a car driving to the casino would be best. Long distance truckers running their engines all night can make this a noisy stop.

  The casino is small with a number of machine that have hard to reach payout slots. The chairs are fairly easy to move.  Casino

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Franconia Sculpture Park

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   Besides forty three acre of grass, wild flowers, and 105 large scale sculptures for the public to enjoy, Franconia also provides a farmhouse, work space, and equipment for visiting artists. Visitors to the park are encouraged to ask the artists questions.
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   The paths are gravel and grass. Neither are very easy to roll along. Two golf carts are available for visitors to borrow. A small information shed has a ramp that is too steep.

   The parking lot is large enough for any RV.   Park
   45.38148, -92.70519
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Saturday, August 15, 2015

Storybook Land and Wylie Park

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  We loved this place! We were the only adults that didn’t have a least one little kid tagging along though. :-D  Way back in 1971, the Aberdeen Park and Recreation Board decided to develop Wylie Park with a fairy tale, nursery rhyme  and Wizard of Oz (Frank Baum lived in Aberdeen from 1888 – 1891) theme. People and groups from all over the city got involved and contributed money and labor to make the park a reality. This has to be the best city park ever!
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  Storybook Land has accessible paved sidewalks that meander past large fiberglass fairy tale characters. The Land of Oz is entered through Dorothy's house which features a simulation of a tornado. The house has a ramp but the threshold at the front door is high. The exit is accessible and the yellow brick road path is accessible. None of the playground equipment in the park is accessible. Of the four gentle rides only the train is accessible. Storybook Land is completely free but there is a charge for the rides.
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  Besides Storybook Land the park has a campground, a mini zoo, miniature golf, a paved bike trail, go carts, bumper boats, and a lake with a sandy beach.
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  The parking lot for Storybook Land is large enough for RVs.   Park
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Grand River Casino

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  Sitting on a hill above the Missouri River, this little casino has a small lot but there’s still plenty of room for RVs. Hookups are provided if you need electricity. I think that it’s $10.00 a night. The tribe also has a campground right on the water for $15.00 a night.

The casino has fairly easy to move chairs and easy to reach money and card slots.  Casino

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