Sunday, November 23, 2008

Let us all give thanks

The holiday season is upon us and we wish you and your family the Happiest of all the upcoming Holidays. We are only able to celebrate these holidays in the method of our choice because of the brave men and women of our armed forces who fight to protect our freedoms. This season we ask that you all take a little time to say thank you to them.
If you go to this web site, you can pick out a thank you card and Xerox will print it and it will be sent to a soldier that is currently serving in Iraq. You can't pick out who gets it, but it will go to some member of the armed services. It is easy and quick. You are asked for you name and hometown only, no e-mail address or any other information. You pick the cover of the card you want to send and then pick a message from a number of ones that they offer. That is it; you could have done it in the time it has taken to read this message. Do it now, don’t put it off.

If you would like to send a personal Holiday card to service member the American Red Cross,, has a web site that will enable you to do this. They will provide an address and guidelines as to where to send your personal card and they will forward it on.

Whether you support the war or oppose it, you still need to have some compassion for those members of our military that have been sent away from their families to serve you and us. It is such an easy thing for us to do and it will have a huge impact on those far away souls who receive your card that says “I care about you”.

Feel free to pass this along to your friends and family and get them involved. Now more than ever, we can all say that “We are proud to be an American” and that we do indeed live in the “land of the free and the home of the brave”.

Happy Thanksgiving, Love,

Linda and Mike (AKA the Fat Man)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Officially summer is over. We hope that everyone enjoyed the autumnal equinox on Monday heralding in the beginning of Fall. Our weather here has been holding up very well; sunny days in the high 60’s or low 70’s and not many storms. It looks like we have lucked out.

That is more than we can say for our Steelers. We think the offensive line missed the bus to Philly. Big Ben was surrounded all night by guys in green shirts instead of the familiar black and gold. Thank goodness the defensive unit made the trip or it would have been an embarrassing blow out. Next week it is Monday Night Football against the now first place Baltimore Ravens. You can bet that they will be blitzing on every down. It is a home game though, so there shouldn’t be any buses to miss.

We only spent one short day in St. Ignace last week. Our apologies to all of our friends there, none of who we got to see. Linda was able to run over to the laundromat and wash all of the heavy spreads and pillows. We left the next morning for Mackinaw City, our purpose two fold.

First, we wanted to see the Steelers game on Sunday. Mackinaw City has cable TV that we could watch if the game was broadcasted locally. If not, we got the motorhome out of the barn, so we could fire up the satellite dish and watch it there. It was broadcasted locally, so we could watch it on the boat. It was definitely not one of their better days.

Second, when we put the motorhome in the barn last June, there was a problem with the inverter. Mike wanted to check it out and make sure it was working before we had to get in and use it. What he found was all four house batteries stone dead. That seemed strange as we charged them all up completely before we put the coach away. Mike figured that one of the batteries went bad and drained the other three. After sitting all summer, they were probably all shot now to we headed to Wal-Mart and got four brand new batteries. It was almost three years to the day that we replaced them last time. Happy Birthday to Linda again.

On our way out of St. Ignace we saw our old charter boat, the Rec Diver. We called them and our friend Larry McElroy, who bought the business from us, was running his last charters of the season. He came over to Mackinaw City and we had a great dinner with him and re-capped the summer.

We took advantage of the nice weather on Saturday and unloaded most of the boat. You know, all the things that we put on at the beginning of the summer, but never used. By the end of the day, the Blue Chip was sitting two inches higher in the water.

Sunday was football day. But we already talked about that.

Monday we were getting ready to head back to Mackinac Island for one last time. Before we left Mike wanted to start the generator in the motorhome and charge up the new batteries. He was up there quite a while and when he came back he announced why the batteries had gone dead. The inverter had malfunctioned as we thought. What we didn’t know is that apparently the cooling fan on it ran all summer until it totally drained all the batteries. We do turn off all the 12 volt power in the coach when we store it, but we now know that switch doesn’t kill the inverter. To kill the fan Mike had to disconnect the batteries. When he tried to charge the batteries, he got a fault that said there was an AC back feed. Impossible he thought because it worked all the way up. When he opened up the unit to check the wiring, he found a wire nut had melted and probably shorted out on the case. He replaced the nut and the unit appears to be working great. After leaving the batteries charging for an hour and a half, we shut down the motorhome and cranked up the boat to head to Mackinac Island. There are almost no other boat there, this late in the season.

Our friend, Capt Pete from Munising, called and he was going to join us on the island. He drove over to St. Ignace and caught a ferry to the island and spent Tuesday night with us. We enjoyed his short visit, before he had to return back to his Shipwreck Tours business. The weather was again perfect. We had the bikes down and were able to do a few around the island rides in t-shirts and shorts; although it was a bit nippy riding into the wind. Wednesday evening we had our last supper at the Island House Hotel. It is not the Grand, but the food is just as good and half the price and the view is better. Besides it is close to the marina and was easy for Mike to hobble to. Jake was elated because he knew it was his last night on the darn boat! Thursday morning, Linda got in her big walk with the dog for the last time and we departed at 11:00 for Mackinaw City.

Once we got to Mack City it was all work. The first order of business was to pump and flush the holding tank, always a joy. Next, was to unload everything else that was still on the boat. That was followed by a thorough cleaning of the boat, inside and out. We finished before dark, but we both really beat. We then moved into the motorhome, which appears to be running very well now.

All and all it has been a wonderful summer of boating. We had almost no problems with the boat; a battery problem early on and then one of the refrigerators quick a couple of weeks ago. It was the one we used for beverages so we just moved those to a cooler on the fly bridge. Mike thinks it is a control box and we want to get a new one put on before they pull the boat. We will finish a few small things on the boat this morning before it gets pulled and then we will head towards Detroit. We have business meetings this weekend with Jim and Diane Richards and Tuesday Mike is getting his tooth capped in Conneaut Lake, PA. We will be in Pittsburgh the following weekend.

We hope that you have all had as good a time this summer as we have.

Take care, love,

Linda, Jake and the Fat Man

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Summer is gone

Hurricane Ike stayed south and west of the Keys, but we did have tropical storm force winds for two days. Our neighbor checked the house and found a couple of small trees and a whole lot of coconuts down. We had no damage to the house at all. It does sound like a new chain saw might be an appropriate gift for Linda’s up coming birthday.

We ended up spending five nights in the Canadian Soo. Three of those days we ended up eating at Jake’s Grill at Reggie’s Place. It is a downscale bar with pound and a half hamburgers for $5.95. Needless to say, Mike was in heaven. Most people split a burger, but Mike was good for the whole thing. For the adventurous eater they also have a double and a triple burger; that would be 3 or 4 and a half pounds of meat. Even Mike didn’t try that. For a dollar extra you can get a basket of fries that would feed four people and still have some left over. The grill is run by a very friendly elderly lady and all the restaurants in Ontario are non smoking, so it was actually very nice dining there. We would eat lunch there and then still be full and not able to eat any dinner.

Thursday we pushed off and headed back down the St. Mary’s River out of the Soo. Floyd and Maggi were still with us so we took the scenic route and went around and through Lake George. They had never done it before and there are some narrow shallow spots that you have to be careful at. We went first and they figured that we would find any problems before they hit them. We managed to keep it in the channel and didn’t have any problems at all getting through. We then crossed over the north end of St. Joe’s Island and through the St. Joe’s channel. It is one of the prettiest rides that you can take in a boat. We ended up that night in Hilton Beach on the west end of the island. The marina was still open, but there was no one around that night to take our money. We had dinner that night in a new restaurant near the docks.

The next day we ventured out into the North Channel to the little town of Thessalon. The Dockmaster here was right there to help tie up the lines and collect for the dockage. It was the first time that we had paid for a dock in a week, so we couldn’t complain. Lincoln and Shirley North, mutual friends of ours and the Lewis live in Thessalon and invited us all for a wonderful dinner at their lovely home on the bay. The Norths have a boat just like ours and we all belong to the same club, the Great Lakes Grand Banks Owners Association. The next morning we all went out to breakfast and then out to buy some wild rice. Shirley made wild rice for dinner the night before and it was the finest that we have ever eaten. It was special rice she said that came from Saskatchewan and a store up the road sold it. Unfortunately they were out of it and wouldn’t get any more in until next year. Shirley was gracious enough to give us a little of her treasured stash.

That afternoon we said good bye to the Norths and then parted ways with Floyd and Maggi Lewis. We were heading to Meldrum Bay and they were heading back to Drummond Island and pulling their boat for the season. New owners had taken over and re-opened the Meldrum Bay Inn and Floyd and Maggi had eaten there earlier in the summer and recommended it. We had dinner there Saturday night and enjoyed it. They had a small parlor at the Inn and it had a TV hooked up to a satellite. We asked them if they could get NBC from the states and they assured us they could. We then told them there was a football game on Sunday night that we would like to watch if possible. They assured us it would be no problem at all. We told them it might be late, but again they said no problem. Just to be sure, Mike went in and tuned in NBC. We would again be able to catch the Steelers!

Sunday evening we went up and had dinner. We went into the parlor and turned on the game. They served us dessert and coffee there while we watch the Steelers humiliate the Browns for the tenth time in a row. Just after half time we were the only people left in the Inn and the owner came in and said she was going to bed. If we would be so kind as to turn the TV off, shut off the lights and pull the door shut when the game was over, she would appreciate it. Needless to say, we had to be a bit subdued on our cheering and antics.

The weather had turned and we had a lot of wind and rain. Monday it was still blowing and we decided to stay another day to let it die down. Unfortunately the Inn was closed on Monday, so we had to fend for ourselves. Actually Mike made a wonderful pasta with Italian chicken sausage in a tomato sauce with onions and green peppers.

Tuesday the wind was still blowing, but from the south west. We made an early morning departure (7:00 AM, you thought we were kidding) and ran along the lee of Colburn and Drummond Islands to Detour. A good friend of ours, Chuck Feltner, who lives on Drummond Island, was coming back from Detroit and saw our boat in the harbor. He stopped to chat and we all went out to dinner at the Mainsail in Detour, before he caught the ferry back to Drummond.

The wind was blowing again Wednesday, this time from the North West. The winds are normally lighter in the early morning than later in the day, so we made another 7:00 AM departure. We skirted the coast of the Upper Peninsula into the Les Cheneaux Island and back to Hessel. The last time we were here we were the only boat in the harbor. This time the harbor is almost full. Officially the harbor is closed, but the power and water is still on and the docks are free. Mike wants to stay for a week. Unfortunately our favorite restaurant (the only one in town) is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so we finished our left over pasta. We left this morning and are now in St. Ignace in the Straits of Mackinac. We need to start cleaning the boat up to put it away and to start looking for somewhere to watch the Steelers game this Sunday.

All this wind and weather is to be expected in September. That doesn’t make it any more fun for Jake, the world’s worst boat dog. Oh, he loves it when we are docked and all the people come around and greet him. He just doesn’t like it underway. Here he is begging Maggi not to untie the line and just leave us tied to the dock.

We hope that the fall has been kind to you all.

Take care, love,

Linda, Jake and the Fat Man

Monday, September 8, 2008

What a difference a day makes!

We tried to go over to Beaver Island for the Labor Day weekend and to our dismay the marina was full. We tried Mackinac Island, but they were full too. The Dockmaster at Beaver did say to call him back in the morning and he might have a spot for us. We did and he did, so we went over Beaver Island on Saturday. We got a late start as we had to fuel before leaving Petoskey. We put on another 140 gallons, bring our consumption for the entire summer up to 340 gallons. Not bad for 2 ½ months of cruising.

We arrived at Beaver and tied up. We got the only slip that was left. We expected it to be a slow summer, but the docks have been very busy all summer on this side of the lake. We did a lot of biking while we were in Petoskey on their wonderful bike trail and then did more on Beaver. We also enjoyed our last meal of the season at the wonderful Beaver Island Lodge.

The weather was nice on Labor Day and we decided to make the run for the Straits. The wind was supposed to kick up on Tuesday. The waves were starting to build already before we could get through Grays Reef Passage and Jake was again not happy. Once we got through Grays Reef and in the lee behind Waugoshance Point the seas calmed. Jake still wasn’t thrilled, but at least the ride smoothed. We were coming under the Mackinac Bridge before the annual bridge walk with 50,000 people had finished, so we had to be escorted by a Coast Guard vessel to keep us away for the bridge supports and any chance of mischief.

Mackinac Island was still bustling, but a few of the boats had already left, making room for us. We were early enough that Linda wanted the bikes off and to ride around the island. Mike had wised up by now and just got them off and peddled. That turned into the daily routine. By Tuesday however, the island activity had almost come to a stand still and the marina cleared out. What a difference a day makes, Labor Day everything is going full strength and the day after it is dead. The weather also changed after Labor Day. Our warm days with good sleeping weather, changed to cool days and cold nights. Fast moving fronts with wind and rain are now the norm. Our hopes for a late summer seem to have been dashed.

By Thursday we were ready to leave the island and start heading towards the Soo. We left early, at least by our standards, 9:00 AM, and started across the top of Lake Huron. Mike mentioned to Linda that it looked like the wind was blowing a little more than forecasted, but she assured him that it was OK. A half hour out we were into 3-5 foot waves and Jake was not a happy camper. By now you know the routine, if Jake isn’t happy…….

The Admiral called for a change of course and we headed into Hessel in the Les Cheneaux Islands. We were greeted by the Dockmaster, Gail, who it the most enthusiast community supporter that we have ever met. Everyone is greeted on the radio with “Welcome to beautiful downtown Hessel”. We were the only boat in the marina, so she was happy to see us. After helping tie up the boat, she took Jake running down the dock and into the park where she threw a ball for him. Afterwards she took him into her office and gave him dog treats. Needless to say, Jake thought that we had just arrived in dog heaven. It was very hard to get him back on the boat the next morning to leave.

The wind had shifted to off shore, so our ride to Detour wasn’t very bad at all. Our destination was Lime Island. It is an old coaling station that is now part of a Michigan State Forest. There is an old wall where the freighters used to dock to fuel that we could tie to. On the island are the remnants of old town, along with walking trails all over the island. Again we were the only boat there, so the dog could run free. Lime Island has always been a favorite stop for us. Floyd and Maggi Lewis on Bonnie Banks joined us later that afternoon. They were coming to the Soo with us to watch the Steelers game.

Saturday, Mike made breakfast for everyone and we ate on a picnic table next to the boat. We later had a nice ride up the St. Marys River to Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, commonly referred to as the Canadian Soo. We were again the only boats in the marina and it was closed. Last year we stayed after they closed and had power and water. This year everything had already been winterized, so all we have is a protected place to tie up, which is much better than a sharp stick in the eye. That night we had an elegant dinner at one of our favorite places in the Soo, Thymely Manner.

Sunday we dressed in our Steelers garb and arranged for a cab to pick us up at 12:30 to take us to the Canadian Nightclub so we would be there for the 1:00 kickoff. This is where we watched the first game last year and had a wonderful time. The bartender and the cook are huge Steelers fans. The cab was late and didn’t get to us until 12:50. That should have told us something. It was only a ten minute ride and we arrived at 1:00. Something was wrong though. There was no tail gate party happening on the deck and when we went in the place was subdued, no football games on any TV’s. Mike asked the bartender what was going on and she said that they still had the NFL ticket, but the first two games where blacked out. We told her that we came all the way up from Mackinac to see the game there. She said she would check the channels again and see if it was being broadcast on one of the standard stations. No such luck as they were carrying the Jets and Miami game, featuring Brett Favre’s debut. She then found the station that was supposed to carry the game and it said it was pay for view, $12.95. She hit the pay button and up came the game. Mike offered to pay her, but she said that she wanted to see the game as much as we did. And it was on the new big high def TV in the center of the bar. We had a wonderful time watching a great game; the Steelers really looked good. Of course they were just playing Houston and were widely favored, but still they played well.

With the game behind us, we are now focused on Hurricane Ike. When we went to bed last night it was a category 4 storm and was tracking over Cuba towards Key West. Now it is down to a category 2 storm and appears that it will go south of Key West. We still will get at least tropical storm force winds and a lot of rain, but hopefully not a direct hit of the hurricane. We should know by tomorrow.

It is blowing 20, gusting to 25 so we are going to sit today in the Soo to see what happens with Ike. We can walk down to the Holiday Inn to get online. We are not sure about internet connections after that. If we are lucky and Ike stays south, we are going to continue to cruise into the North Channel. If we are not lucky we will probably have to go back to Mackinac to pull the boat and head back to the Keys to clean up. We hope that you all had a wonderful Labor Day weekend. To our friends in the Keys, our hearts are with you.

Take care, love,

Linda, Jake and the Fat Man

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Easy Riders

We certainly had an easy week. Mike made an appointment to have his root canal finished this past Tuesday. And that gave us a little over a week to do nothing. Rather than spend the whole time in Petoskey, we thought that we would take another loop around this end of Lake Michigan. Before heading out we put fuel on for the first time this year. We weren’t low, but the fuel had dropped to $4.20 a gallon and Mike didn’t want to lose a bargin. We put on 200 gallons of the 260 that we were down. Mike wanted to leave room in case it went down some more.

We headed out and went back to Charlevoix. Of course that meant dinner at the Gray Gables; a fantastic place. From there we moved over to Leland; our first time there by boat. As usual it was full and we had to raft behind three other boats. Each of them informed us that they would be leaving early in the morning, which meant that we had to move our boat first. We had dinner at the Cove in Fishtown. Linda figured that if we had to get up to move the boat, we might as well leave, so at 8:00 the next morning we were on our way. We dropped back down into Grand Traverse Bay and went into Suttons Bay. There we had a great dinner, cheap, at Boone’s Prime Time. It has great steaks and burgers. The next morning Linda perused the local stores and was ready to go at noon. We slipped over to Elk Rapids. Dinner there is at Pearls, a wonderful Cajun restaurant. Elk Rapids has cable TV on the docks and we wanted to watch the Steelers game. There wasn’t time for dinner Saturday night without missing part of the game, so we ordered pizza delivered to the dock. We are not sure if it was the Steelers play or the pizza that caused the indigestion. It was ugly, but the Steelers did manage a field goal with 4 seconds left to pull it out 12-10.

Coleen and John D’Amour, our friends from Boyne City came down in their boat joined us for breakfast Sunday morning. Linda wanted to do some laundry, but the washing machines were down in Elk Rapids, so we started back to Petoskey.
The weather wasn’t supposed to be too bad, but by the time that we cleared Old Mission Point we were in 2-4 foot seas. Jake was not a happy camper at this point. If Jake isn’t happy, Linda isn’t happy. If Linda isn’t happy, no one is happy. We knew it was going to build the further up the Bay we went and when we got into the open Lake there would be a 3-5 or 4-6 foot sea.

The Admiral gave the orders to the Captain to head north west to the lee shore and into Northport. We used to love Northport. It had a couple of good restaurants and some interesting shops. Now it seems to be dying. The last time we were here we had dinner at the last restaurant that is still open. How was it? Linda elected to eat dinner on the boat this time rather than eat out. That should tell you right there.

We got up early on Monday and headed back to Petoskey so Mike could finish his root canal. If there is one thing worst than having a root canal, it is having to do it again. Tuesday morning he trudged up the hill to the dentist office and was done by noon. Linda did her laundry on Monday and by Tuesday wanted to do something. She wanted the bikes off the boat and wanted to ride. She conned Mike into thinking that they were just going to ride to the frozen custard stand a mile down the road. Which they did, but afterwards she pushed him for another six miles. Actually Petoskey has a wonderful bike path that runs right along the Lake shore. It stretches all the way to Charlevoix one way and Harbor Springs the other. Yesterday it was back on the bikes for a Starbucks and we ended up half way to Harbor Springs. Of course we have been eating out every night, Monday at the Mitchell Street Pub. It has the best French onion soup. Tuesday we did the Thai Orchard, which was good, but not as good as Spicy Siam in Royal Oak. Last night we ate at Stafford’s at the Perry Hotel. We dined outside on the veranda and the view is magnificent. Sunset was gorgeous and all the guests were out watching it and taking photos. It reminded us of Mallory Square in Key West.

Sunset from the Petoskey Harbor

Well that was the past week for us, easy and hassle free. We need to stay in Petoskey today to make sure that there is no infection in Mike’s tooth. If there isn’t we will head back to Beaver Island for the weekend. After that it is back through the Straits and Mackinac Island. We want to make the Canadian Soo by the Steelers opener on September 7th. There is a sports bar there that is very partial to the Pittsburgh Steelers as that is also the name of their local team.

It looks like summer is coming to an end and we only have about another month of boating for the year. This past month the weather has been great. A far cry from what we started the summer with. Now the days are warm, but not hot and the nights are cool. Good sleeping weather, we think the term is. We hope that you are all well and have enjoyed your summer.

Take care, love,

Linda, Jake and the Fat Man

Saturday, August 16, 2008

As much fun as a root canal!

Our friends, Ed and Debbie Moore, made it in from the Keys right on time on Saturday evening. The boat was shiny and clean, but was really rocking as a 25 knot wind was blowing straight out of the north and down the entire length of Grand Traverse Bay. Although we were in a marina and protected by a breakwater it was still bouncy. The waves were crashing over the wall and rebounding through the entrance. A small boat swamped and sank earlier in the day right at the mouth of the marina.

Ed and Debbie Moore of Big Torch Key aboard the Blue Chip

Linda decided it was too rough to cook aboard (what a surprise) and wanted to go out for dinner. Her choice was Stella’s, in the basement of the old state mental hospital. We ate there a few years ago and it was quite good. On the way over the cab driver told us the kitchen was in the old morgue. He advised against having the liver. Ed and Debbie must have thought that we were patients there because the food was ordinary, the portions miniscule and the prices outrageous. Needless to say, we were all very disappointed and will not go back.

Sunday the winds had come down some, but were still blowing hard enough to make for an unpleasant boat ride. We decided to rent a car and to do a little land cruising. We drove up the Leelanau Peninsula through part of Michigan’s new wine country. Mike says Michigan wines are crap and wouldn’t even stop for any free tastings. We did go through the lovely little villages of Sutton Bay, Northport and Leland. All stops on our normal cruising itinerary. At Leland’s fish town we had a snack of smoked fish from the famous Carlson’s Fish House and cheese curds.

Mike insisted that Ed have one of the famous Chubby Mary drinks. It is a Bloody Mary with a whole smoked chub in it. Ed didn’t quite know what to make of it, but did get it all down.

From there we drove down the coast along the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes through Glen Arbor, Empire and finally to Frankfort. We had dinner at the Fusion restaurant in Frankfort which has moved to a new location right on the water. The food was very good, but didn’t seem quite as exciting as last year. About half way through dinner, Mike remembered why. Last year we never ate dinners, just a wide variety of appetizers. We are going to have to go back and try it that way. We ended up land touring in a day, what would have taken us a week to do by boat.

Monday the winds had died down more and we made our escape from Traverse City. Our destination was back to Charlevoix and of course the Gray Gables restaurant. Needless to say, no one was disappointed. Tuesday the seas were lying down and we made a run back to Beaver Island. We were hoping that they would enjoy Beaver as much as we do. Of course that meant dinner at the Beaver Island Lodge. We had a great meal and a perfect sunset over Lake Michigan.

Wednesday morning at breakfast, Mike bit down on a Honey Bunches of Oats cluster and it bit back. He thought that he either chipped a tooth or lost a filling. Our visit to Beaver was short and that morning we headed back to the mainland and Petoskey. There, we met up with Floyd and Maggi on Bonnie Banks. They were just coming back from the Grand Banks Rendezvous in Sheboygan, WS. That evening we did something totally out of character and ate aboard. Our refrigerators were bursting at the seams from the leftovers and take out boxes. There was only on thing to do and that was to eat them. We had cocktails and appetizers aboard Bonnie Banks and then moved to the Blue Chip for a dinner of assorted leftovers. A grand time was had by all.

Our plan Thursday was rent a car, do some touring in this area and then drive Ed and Debbie back to the Traverse City airport Friday to catch their plane. We had told them about a wonderful restaurant in Cross Village called Legs and were going to go there for an early dinner. However, by now, Mike’s tooth was really hurting and he declared he needed to seek medical attention. He found a dentist that could see him that afternoon. To make the best of it, the ladies decided to shop in Petoskey and Ed and Floyd traded fishing lies on the dock. After Mike’s exam and x-rays the dentist said his tooth was abscessed and he would have to have a root canal done. Being from out of town and on a boat is not the best situation for medical care. Through a series of fluke incidents, Mike got an emergency appointment and finished his root canal at a local endodontist about seven that evening. So much for having an early dinner at Legs; we settled for dinner at one of favorite local places, the City Park Grill.

Friday morning we took Ed and Debbie back to Traverse City for their flight back to the Keys. Back in Petoskey we went to turn the car in and were told that we could keep it for another day if we would like for free. There were a couple of minor issues when we picked it up and they wanted to make sure we were happy. We took them up on the offer and we finally got to Legs in Cross Village for dinner.

Linda, Maggi and Floyd Lewis at dinner at the Legs Inn in Cross Village.

The doctor asked Mike to stay in town over the weekend in case he had any problems with his tooth. He would also need to have a follow up to have the root canal redone and a permanent filling put in place. Although he is not having any problems now, we decided to scrap our planned trip to Lower Georgian Bay and to stay local until he can have the root canal finished. That is now scheduled for next week. He will still have to have the tooth capped, but that can wait.

We hope that you have all had great week. Our Sullivan family reunion was this weekend in North Carolina. We would like to say, “Hey y’all” to all of our aunts, uncles and cousins. Although we couldn’t attend, you were all in our hearts.

Take care, Love,
Linda, Jake and the Fat Man

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Back on line with a new Computer

Our lack of a new blog for the last month is not because of a lack of interest, but a lack of internet. Our computer finally gave up the ghost. As we have previously complained about, we had a Best Buy warranty on it and had to deal with the Geek Squad to get anything done with it. True to form the Geek Squad could not do anything and it had to be sent back for repair. It was finally deemed to be non repairable and we were to get a new computer comparable to our old one. Our old one was a desk top replacement that cost $2000 three years ago. The comparable unit is a $599 special. It also came with the dreaded Vista operating system rather than the Windows XP that we are familiar with. It has taken a little time, but we finally have the new machine up and running and most of the data and programs transferred over. All and all, the new computer seems to be doing a very good job.

Now back to our trip. We left the Straits on July 15th with perfect weather and flat calm seas. It seems like summer has finally arrived. We headed to Charlevoix and were joined by Floyd and Maggi Lewis on their boat Bonnie Banks. That evening Larry and Larraine Coplin stopped on their way back from their family reunion. We all had a fantastic dinner at the Gray Gables Inn. This is one of the finest restaurants in the area and we would highly recommend it to anyone visiting the Charlevoix area.

Floyd & Maggi Lewis

Steve and Paula Atkinson joined us Thursday for a week of cruising. We first headed to Boyne City where Steve had a friend that worked for the police department and Paula had a friend that had a condo there. They were able to visit with both and we were able to see our friend, John D’Amour. We were also able to hook up again with Larry and Larraine before they started their journey back to Arizona. We would like to go into more details, but we made a pack, what happens in Boyne City, stays in Boyne City. We will say that things really got interesting one night when a bachelorette party of about 15 women showed up. Most of them were bigger than Mike and nine were still dancing on the bar when we left and that was about 15 minutes after the band stopped. From there we headed across Traverse Bay to Northport and then back to Charlevoix. The computer had crapped out at this point so Steve drove Mike to the Best Buy store in Traverse City about an hour away. Linda and Paula spent the rest of the afternoon shopping. The day after Steve and Paula left, we headed over to Beaver Island.

Paula & Steve Atkinson

When we tell most people that we are going over to Beaver Island they ask why go there, there is nothing to do; precisely why we go. It is our favorite place to do nothing. Do nothing is a bit of an exaggeration. We ride our bikes a little, Linda walks the dog and every night we go out to dinner. There are a few places to eat out on Beaver Island, but the best is Nina’s at the Beaver Island Lodge. It has the finest view over looking Lake Michigan the surrounding islands and fantastic food. We think that it is the finest restaurant in the Great Lakes given the quality of the food and the atmosphere. Another good place is Stony Acres. They have a Bar-B-Q on Thursday nights that has perhaps the finest ribs that Mike has ever eaten (Linda doesn’t eat meat, but loves the Bar-B-Q chicken and shrimp). They also have a wonderful perch dinner on Friday nights.

Coleen and John

John D’Amour and Coleen from Boyne City flew over to Beaver and joined us for a couple of days. One day we rented a car. As we were picking it up the young lady asked if we had a map with all the highlights. Mike told her we did and were going to see them both. She instantly replied, “There’re two?” Beaver Island is 13 miles long and has about 1 mile of paved roads. We did the whole tour from one end to the other. A few of the dirt roads got down to what we would classify as two tracks, so it was an interesting adventure.

Rev Jim and his wife Carol

While there we met up again with the Rev Jim and his wife, Carol. They were sailing with some friends and were trying to get to Escanaba. The weather was against them and they had to abandon their plan. The problem was his car was in Escanaba waiting for him. He solved that problem by catching a ride with the local air service. Before he left we all had another wonderful dinner at the Beaver Island Lodge.

Another fine dinner at the Beaver Island Lodge

Rev Jim, Carol, Dave & Julie

Floyd and Maggi Lewis stopped at Beaver with their boat Bonnie Banks on their way to Wisconsin. That meant another great meal that the BI Lodge. Do you get the impression that we like this place? Floyd and Maggi liked it so much, they stayed an extra day just to try the Thursday night Bar-B-Q. They were not disappointed.

It was now August and we had company coming and we had to get back to the mainland to pick him up. Best Buy called and said that our computer was toast and we could come in the store and pick up a new one. We tried to go to Traverse City where the Best Buy is, but they were full due to a big film festival weekend they were having. Instead we went to Boyne City and borrowed a car from our friend John and drove to Traverse City about an hour away to pick up the new computer.

Mike & Dr. Ed move the boat around to Harbor Springs

Our company, Ed Gordon or Dr. Ed as we affectionately refer to him, met us in Boyne City. We all linked up with John and Coleen again and had a great few days. When it was time to move, Mike and Dr. Ed took the boat around to Harbor Springs and Linda drove Ed’s car. It took the boys four hours to get around and Linda about a half hour, so of course she had to kill the extra time shopping in Petoskey. Dr. Ed left this Thursday and we moved the boat down to Traverse City to meet Ed and Debbie Moore, our neighbors from Big Torch Key. They are flying in today.

The weather today is cool and windy. That didn’t deter Linda from insisting that the boat be washed. Of course, she isn’t the one that would be washing it. Mike set the bikes off the boat and onto the docks, so that he could wash the decks. When he was done, he asked Linda what happened to the other bike? She said that she didn’t know and hadn’t moved it. You guessed it, the bike blew off the dock. Mike has been trying to get rid of his bike for a long time and Linda accused him of throwing it off. Mike dug out a grapple anchor from the dinghy and was able to hook the bike on the first try and retrieve it. Linda had said earlier that she wanted to wash the bikes, we guess that didn’t include a good soaking.

Well for those few that are still with us, that pretty much sums up the last month. We are over the half way mark for this summer’s boating. The boat is running good, the weather has been wonderful and we are all feeling great. We hope that your summer is going as well as ours.

Take care, Love,

Linda, Jake and the Fat Man

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Somewhere in Time…Mackinac Island

No we didn’t sail off the ends of the earth. In fact, we really haven’t sailed anywhere. We are now in St. Ignace, seven miles across the Straits of Mackinac from where we first started. We really haven’t done anything but run back and forth to Mackinac Island. The Island has a maximum stay for boats of only four days before you have to leave for at least one night. It is a fantastic place with no cars, only horses and bicycles. See for complete info on the Island.

Linda in Downtown Mackinac Island

We spent our first four days on the island by ourselves and then come over to St. Ignace to see their big car show. The next day we pick up our friends Jerry and Linda Feldstein and headed back to the Island for another four days. Following that we were back in St. Ignace to drop them off and pick up our business partners, Jim and Diane Richards. They were up diving over the 4th of July weekend.

Jerry and Linda Feldstein come back from Mackinac Island with Jake at their side.

After their dives we headed back over to Mackinac Island for a couple of more days of R&R. While there we determined (the engine wouldn’t start) that one of our almost new Caterpillar batteries would not hold a charge. Actually it was 37 months old and had a 36 month warranty. It was a humungous 8D truck battery and weighed 150 pounds. Mike decided to take advantage of Jim and came back to St. Ignace and the two of them pulled the battery out of the bilge. Instead of replacing it with the same type, Mike elected to get three smaller batteries and to tie them together. They only weighed about 60 pounds and Mike was able to get them in himself after Jim and Diane left.

Larry and Laraine Coplin our friends from Cave Creek, AZ stopped in St. Ignace with their brand new DynaMax motorhome. It is a beauty. We spent the rest of the week visiting with them. While they were here, Larry & Kathy McElroy and her family stopped over and we all went out to dinner. Larry bought our dive charter business in St. Ignace and is still running dive charters here.

Larry and Laraine left on Thursday and Floyd and Maggi Lewis came in on their boat that afternoon. Floyd is the President of the Great Lakes Grand Banks group and Mike told him he would introduce him to some of the people in St. Ignace that he knows. They are going to hold a rendezvous in St. Ignace next year. Floyd and Maggi are also our winter neighbors in the Keys and fellow Marathon Yacht Club members.

As you can see, it has been a pretty busy few weeks. We had hoped to start down Lake Michigan this past weekend, but the weather was horrible; cold, rainy and blowing. In fact except for the 4th of July weekend, the weather has been terrible up here all summer, or at least what is summer on the calendar. The forecast for tomorrow is good, so we are going to try to make it into Lake Michigan. We have more company to pick up on Thursday.

Everyone loves Jake

Many of you have asked about little Jake and we are happy to report that he is doing well. Linda takes him for a long walk every day and he meets new friends. He still doesn’t like to travel in the boat, but is happy at the dock where he can run up and down the decks to greet every person and every dog that walks the dock. He has also had company on the boat. Jim and Diane had Daisy aboard, Larry and Laraine had Picmee and Larry and Kathy had their new 12 week old Golden with them. Jake is also a hit with all the dock hands and they are bringing him treats and playing with him. Its funny, no one the docks know our names, but everyone knows Jake.

We hope that you all had a wonderful 4th of July. We think that summer is going to start tomorrow, or at least we hope it will.

Take care, Love,

Linda, Jake and the Fat Man

Monday, June 23, 2008

Rain, Rain, Go Away

We got the Blue Chip launched last Monday right on schedule. We spent the next four days unloading the coach into the boat. The weather was miserable; rain, wind and cold. We had to wait for a break in the showers to run a load from the coach down. But by Thursday we had it completed. We moved the boat over from the service dock to the Marina in Mackinaw City, a distance of about 100 yards and it seemed to be running well. After a couple of tweaks, all systems seem to be functioning.

Friday we loaded what we would need for the weekend, back into the coach and headed back down state to the Crystal Mountain Resort for our annual canoe and kayak weekend with our diving buddies. After a week of cold and rain, we weren’t looking forward to any water sports. Friday, the skies clear and it warmed into the mid 70’s. But the forecast was still for showers and thunderstorms all weekend.

The Kayaking Kohuts

Somebody in our group must be living right. Saturday morning there were thunderstorms and rain showers all over the weather radar. Everywhere that is except where we where. We had a perfect day for kayaking. The river that we wanted to kayak on, the Pine, was closed all week because of high water. The outfitter, Pine River Paddle Sports, suggested rather strongly that we not do the Pine and instead do the Big Manistee, which was less technical. Without hesitation we took his advice. The Big Manistee was in flood stage, so it was still a challenge for our group but instead of a 2 ½ or 3 hour paddle as with the Pine, this was a 4 hour marathon.

Years ago, everyone decided to stop canoeing and instead ride single person kayaks. The reason was to maintain our marriages. Don and Marilyn elected to canoe this time as a couple. The last time we kayaked the Big Manistee they each tipped over in kayaks. This time they both flipped over in a canoe. We guess it didn’t matter which craft they chose. Retrieving the canoe was not an easy proposition with the heavy currents. The Amazing Randy flipped over after about two minutes into the trip and had to walk down stream a ¼ of a mile before he caught up to his kayak. He would still be walking if Karl hadn’t rescued it and pulled it to shore. On his second flip Randy hitched a ride in Don and Marilyn’s canoe. Fortunately, that is all that decided to take swim calls in the frigid waters that day. Bill and Jan, Karl and Juanita, Colette, and we, all made it down at least semi-dry. Back at base camp, Tom and Susan and John and Joan prepared for the cocktail party and dinner. Another great weekend, with great friends is in the books.

We are now back aboard the boat and almost ready to cruise. We are having a new canvas top and covers made. With all the rain last week, the canvas man was unable to complete the patterning. He is here today and hopefully will complete the task. From here it is over to Mackinac Island and from there who knows.

Al, the canvas man, works to pattern a new top as the Blue Chip is in the water and ready to go.

Everyone seems to like the pictures in the blog, so we added more at a photo gallery. They can be viewed at: We hope that you all have had a great week. Hard to believe that we just had the summer solstice and the days are going to start getting shorter.

Take care, Love,
Linda, Jake and the Fat Man

Sunday, June 15, 2008

55 degrees, but we have air conditioning!

First we need to clear up a little misunderstanding from last week. Many of you have written and asked about Mike’s older brother, Tom. Tom is actually younger than Mike, but by only a year, so it would be easy to make that mistake.

Great news; the motorhome air conditioner has continued to function well all week. Not that we needed it as it has been cool and rainy. But we have checked it every day to make sure that cold air is still coming out. Of course we all know when it will decide to fail.

We had a wonderful week. We stopped in Conneaut Lake and visited Mike’s old college roommate, Bill Petraitis, and his wife, Jill.

Linda and Jill prepare dinner in her fantastic newly remodeled kitchen.

Then we moved on to Detroit for meeting with our business partners, Jim and Diane Richards.

Diane and Jim Richards

From there it was to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for our friend, Capt Pete Lindquist, daughter Kate’s wedding. Capt Pete along with his daughter Capt Kate and son, Capt Joe operate Shipwreck Tours glass bottom boats in Munising. The cruise takes you along Grand Island and near the Pictured Rocks National Seashore to old shipwrecks lieing on the bottom of Lake Superior. We would highly recommend doing the tour if you are in the area.

Capt Pete gave away his daughter Kate.

While in the UP, Linda was introduced to the little menace called black flies. Linda is normally immune to any biting insects, because if she is with Mike, he will attract every bug that is in the area. However, Saturday afternoon she took the dog for a walk, by herself. She got into a swarm of what she thought was gnats. After she got back to the coach, she felt bumps on the back of her neck and they were bleeding; she freaked out. Black flies like to hide when they do their deed and had gotten under hair bitten the back of her neck and forehead. Linda now refused to get out of the coach and it was now Mike’s job to walk Jake. They had already chewed up Mike’s legs, but that didn’t matter. It seems like any future trips to the UP in June are in jeopardy.

We are now in Mackinaw City. The weather forecast is for rain, wind and temperatures in the low to mid 50’s. Everyone says it has been a horrible spring up here, wet and cold. It looks like someone should have packed a pair of long pants.

Our boat goes in the water this Monday, so we are in transition between the motor home and the boat. Now that everything is working on the motorhome, it should be interesting to see what needs fixing on the boat.

Jake and Linda get ready to transition.

We hope that you all have had a Happy Father’s Day.

Take care, Love,
Linda, Jake and the Fat Man

Monday, June 9, 2008

95!!! Who needs air conditioning?

Our first order of business is to congratulate the Detroit Red Wings and Red Wing fan friends on their Stanley Cup victory. They played a marvelous series. Congratulations also to the Penguins and their magnificent fans. They played their hearts out. Their come from behind tying goal with less than a minute left in game 5 and then winning in the triple overtime showed what character this team has. We would have loved to see it have happened again in game 6 and it was oh so close. But Detroit was the better team and they earned and deserved the victory.

On a personal note we still have our computer. It is not fixed and our “friends” at the Geek Squad were virtually useless. They couldn’t even check to see if the battery in the computer was bad. Their solution to everything is that it will have to be sent out and will take 3-4 weeks to get back. Because the computer still works on AC power and we have an inverter in the coach and on the boat, we told them to shove their extended warranty where the sun doesn’t shine. We just won’t be carrying the computer into any coffee shops looking for WiFi’s.

It was 95 in Miami Monday and Mike’s blood pressure and temperature rose well above that after our stop at the Best Buy to confront the Geek Squad. It was shortly after that confrontation that the air conditioning in the coach stopped working. Our $400 rip off “repair” from the Muffler Man in Marathon didn’t even last a whole day. Needless to say the temperature went up another notch. We at least had a partial solution. We can run the generator on the coach and use the roof top air conditioners. They don’t produce a stream of cold air from the front of the coach, but they do prevent the coach from turning into a mobile sauna. We are taking the coach up to Thermo King in Pittsburgh that first fixed it last year.

We stopped for fuel and were pleasantly surprised to find that fuel had dropped by a dime since we left the Keys. We also found that by slowing the coach down 55 MPH that we can get almost 11 MPG. So now we are one of those old codgers in an RV poking down the highway. Our fuel savings were short lived as the price has now jumped back up.

The temperature was in the mid 90’s all week as we stopped and visited friends and family along the way. But we finally made it into the Thermo King. When they started to check it out, the mechanic asked Mike how to get to the top of the condenser in the front of the coach. Mike said the only way he knew was from the underneath the coach, but the fellow said that was too tight to get up into. Mike called the Safari factory thinking there must be something he was missing. The factory told us that to access that area, we would have to cut a hole in the front of the coach and then take it to a body shop to have it repaired. He said the newer models have a door that opens. Needless to say, Linda immediately nixed that idea. Fortunately they found that the leak was in the back of the coach, not in the front. They replaced a couple of fittings and re-charged the system. We had air conditioning again, at least for the rest of that day. We moved the coach over to Mike’s brother’s house and haven’t tried it again. The test will come on Monday when we start off again.

We hope that you all have had a great week.
Take care, Love,
Linda, Jake and the Fat Man

Mike's Brother Tom and his wife Karen host a pool party at their home.

Jake says come on in the water is fine!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

All systems are go!

Linda loads the last of the supplies into the bus.

It looks like everything is ready for our scheduled departure Monday. The last repair on the motorhome was completed this week. No more leaking sewer lines to worry about. Mike has checked everything and declared it fit to travel. We are hoping for a worry free summer of travel.

We do have to make a stop in Miami Monday. Our computer battery will not take a charge; neither will the spare. We have a warranty through Best Buy for it so we will stop there and talk to the Geek Squad. If you have ever dealt with those people you realize that they are appropriately named. Customer service is not part of their vocabulary. We are hoping that batteries or charger is bad and can just be replaced. If not, the computer has to be sent out for a mother board replacement. That means three weeks without a computer and the hassle of trying to have them ship it to a store up north where we can pick it. If you don’t receive any trip updates for a while, you know that is what happened and we are computerless.

Take care, love,
Linda, Jake and the Fat Man

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


We got this in from one of our friends and thought that we would share it you. We hope that we will be able to remember it when we face our challenges of travel .


There once was a woman who woke up one morning,
looked in the mirror, and noticed she had only three hairs on her head.

'Well,' she said, 'I think I'll braid my hair today.'
So she did and she had a wonderful day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror,
and saw that she had only two hairs on her head.

'H-M-M,' she said,
'I think I'll part my hair down the middle today.'
So she did and she had a grand day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror,
and noticed that she had only one hair on her head.

'Well,' she said, 'today I'm going to wear my hair in a pony tail.'
So she did, and she had a fun, fun day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror,
and noticed that there wasn't a single hair on her head.

'YAY!' she exclaimed.
'I don't have to fix my hair today!'

Attitude is everything

Be kinder than necessary,
for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

Live simply,
Love generously,
Care deeply,
Speak kindly...

Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass...

It's about learning to dance in the rain.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Summer is coming!!

Sunset from Kamp Kohut
The winter of 2007/2008 fades to memory as we are starting to close down the Kamp and prepare for our annual northern migration.

We have had a good winter. Little Jake is up to 95 pounds; Mike is triple that. He tore the cartilage in his knee this Fall and had it operated on in December. In April, he tore it again and is again hobbling around. He sees the orthopedic surgeon this week, but it's too late to do much about it now. At the end of February, when we got back from our dive trip in the Maldives Islands, Linda had surgery on her foot. That turned out well and she was back to her 3 1/2 mile morning walks in a few weeks. All and all we seem physically and hopefully mentally ready for this summer’s adventures.

We hope that the bus is fit and ready for the trip. Coming home last year we had trouble with the air conditioning. We waited until this month to have it worked on. Four hundred dollars later, Mike thinks we still have a problem. Guess we will find out the first couple of days trying to leave Florida. The weather here has been really hot the last couple of weeks. Air isn’t an option, it is a necessity. One other messy problem we dealt with this winter was leaking sewer valves. We had the new ones put in. However when Mike filled the tank to test them, there was still a leak if they were drained too fast. We have an appointment to have that repaired this week. Hopefully by next week that old bus will be ready for another summer of trouble free travels.

How about the Stanley Cup Finals this year, featuring the Pittsburgh Penguins against the Detroit Redwings. All of our friends in Detroit are routing for the Red Wings and our friends and family in Pittsburgh are cheering on the Penguins. Our preference? Go Pens!

Can you believe what is happening to fuel prices? We started to check on the price of diesel fuel a couple of weeks ago. At that time it was less than $4.00 a gallon at a couple of station along our route. It is now over $4.60 and in a lot of places almost $4.80. At that rate it will be over $5.00 by the time we leave. We hate to even think what the prices will be when we start back. We did make what turned out to be one of our best investments at the end of last year. We filled up our boat (600 gallons) with fuel at the then ridiculously high price of $ 3.07 a gallon. Too bad we didn’t have bigger tanks.
A happy Memorial Day to everyone! Many thanks to all of you that have served our country.

Take care, Love,
Linda, Jake and the Fat Man