Motorhome Experiences of Lyle Dean and Judy Lebsack

Preamble:  Following our trip west to South Dakota, Wyoming and Colorado, the motorhome rested at Berrien Springs, MI.  In late summer, we crashed a family camp out (Judy's daughter-in-law's family) near Chelsea, MI.  Enjoyable time, but the state park had only 30 amp service and we repeatedly overloaded the breaker trying to use more than one air conditioner and water heater.  In September, Lyle took the motorhome to Spartan Chassis factory service in central Michigan where techs went through all the maintenance that may never have been done on the five-year old coach.  At least, it put our minds at ease about heading out on the road again.

September 26, 2015  Tailgate experience at Notre Dame

with Lyle's family.  Weather was perfect, and the Irish

were strong winners over UMass.  Tailgate lunch, then

Erik grilled for dinner.  Photos:  Chase and Jack

and Drew, Shannon and Owen on campus at Notre Dame.

Far right:  Lyle's family after scattering Sharon's ashes at

the feet of "Touchdown Jesus".  Lower right:  Judy and the 

Golden Dome of ND.

October 2, 2015  Off on a fall color trip to upper/lower Michigan.  We spent the night at Vacation Station RV Park near Ludington, MI.  What a find!  Judy googled RV parks in the Ludington area.  The first one was Poncho's Pond RV Park.  Lyle took a pass on that, but was willing to get more information on Vacation Station.  Concrete pads was the first indicator of good things--and they had room    Beautiful park and quite busy even at this time of year.  Worth another stay!

October 3, 2015  The fall colors gradually became more apparent as we headed north, but a cloudy day kept them muted.  We arrived at Petosky MotorCoach Resort shortly after 1 p.m. and were directed to our lot for the next two nights.  This is upscale in every way.  Beautifully landscaped with ponds and fountains out our front window.  The same company owns Naples MotorCoach Resort in Florida with the same pride in their facility and rates.  Our morning temps have been in the mid-40s, but the strong NE winds have made driving interesting   

October 4, 2015  Almost sunny (for the first time this trip) and the winds have subsided. We've used two of the three heat pumps in the motorhome (forward and center), leaving the rear (stateroom) off.  Seems to make for comfortable sleeping and not walking out to a cold living area in the morning.    The sunshine did not last and most of the day was windy, cold or drizzly--or all three.  

October 5, 2015  We departed the beautiful Petosky MotorCoach Resort, heading north in search of fall colors.  We found them, but the cloudy, drizzly conditions muted the colors we had traveled to see.  So...we headed south from Mackinaw City and spent the night in Mount Pleasant, MI where Judy's longtime friend, Lisa and her family live.  We had a pleasant dinner with Lisa, and she and Judy got caught up on news of their lives.  

October 6, 2015  We arrived back in Berrien Springs around 3 p.m. in time for Judy to head back to her house for a few hours and in time for Lyle to get caught up on the computer.  We did learn along the way that the Onan generator has only a 30 amp breaker, much less than the requirements of the motorhome, so we reduced the load by turning off one of the heat pumps and the water heater while traveling.  The result was to silence the various alarms and we traveled in relative quiet the rest of the way. 

October 28, 2015  We departed Berrien Springs and Stevensville, MI headed to Spartan Factory Service for an issue with controls within the steering wheel (cruise control, horn, wipers, etc)  Turns out somebody previous to my owning the motorhome had used needle probes to measure the voltage on wires going to the controller--wires that were exposed to moisture and corrosion.  It eventually took its toll.  A new controller, three hours of diagnostics and so forth should put us on the road again in the morning.  There was a thin coating of ice on the drive way this morning and a bitterly cold wind.  Time to get this thing headed south!  Marking the occasion and the weather, Judy prepared chili for dinner tonight!

October 30, 2015 Spartan Factory Service finished up a convoluted issue with the steering wheel controls.  Seems somebody prior to our owning the motorhome had changed the Spartan Control Module--the brain for many of the driving functions--and installed the wrong one.  Several other related wiring problems were corrected and as of 10;30 this morning we were on our way.  Thank you, Spartan Factory Service!  Our stay tonight is near Columbus, IN, and tomorrow we'll play tourist by going to Brown County, IN

October 31, 2015  Lots of kids here for Halloween weekend, so we went out to buy more trick or treat treats--and visited Brown County in the process.  Nashville, IN was BUSY but with lots of interesting shops and restaurants.  We had lunch at Big Woods Brewery where we had been told the nachos were the best around.  These were pulled-pork barbeque nachos!  And very good.  Real pulled pork.  We made pilgrimages to the two covered bridges in Brown County.  The Bean Blossom covered bridge was really authentic looking and had definite weight limits.  

Gnaw Bone, IN?  We can't make up stuff like that.   Nor the sign offering Hillbilly Footwash along with candy. We're hoping HF isn't what we think it is. Neither of us wanted to find out.  Cereland is the campground where we spent two nights.  Oh, an update on trick or treaters.  We started with 75 packets of candy.  8 are left.  Barely enough for Lyle.

November 1, 2015  The campground was dripping from dense morning fog, but by midmorning we hit the road toward the south.  Lyle chose a "short cut" over an Indiana state road to get from Columbus to Interstate 69.  The state road was smooth, but nearly all of it curves.  It was another learning "curve".  The motorhome is running well, especially on the smooth highways.  We pulled into Grand Rivers, KY after about six hours on the road, helped by gaining an hour each in the switch from Daylight Time and crossing into the Central Time zone.  Gaining two hours in a day felt pretty good!   We have Internet and texting, but no cell service or TV.  This is roughing it!  One of the unexpected features of Land Between the Lakes were multiple swarms of Japanese beatles (ladybug like) sacrificing their hard little bodies against the windshield.  Didn't know what the heck all the noise was for a moment.

November 2, 2015  It was a leisurely start to the day, managing some clean up chores--including the windshield and front of the motorhome.  We drove to view Kentucky Lake before heading into Grand Rivers.  Visited some interesting shops full of unnecessary stuff, but Judy found some to buy anyway. Then, the pilgrimage to Patti's 1880 Settlement--a restaurant well-known for its 2" thick pork chops and levee high meringue pie--just to name two.  

November 3, 2015 A dense fog advisory for much of the mid-south and we experienced patchy heavy fog on our way from Hillman Ferry Campgrounds via the road running south through Land Between the Lakes.  Nice smooth roads, but plenty of hills and curves.  Not a problem since we were about the only vehicles on the road until we arrived at Fort Donelson Civil War Battlefield.  From there we took a side trip to Paris, since Judy had never seen the Eiffel Tower.  South again to Savannah, TN and an RV park near Pickwick State Park and Shiloh Civil War Battlefield.  

November 4, 2015  Clouds again muted the fall colors in southern Tennessee, but no rain.  Our side trips today were to Shiloh Battlefield, Pickwick Lock and Dam on the Tennessee River and a visit to the Catfish Hotel!  The word Shiloh means "place of peace".  The incongruity of that is compounded by calling such a bloody era in U.S. history the CIVIL war. There was nothing civil about it.  One of the photos here shows the old Shiloh church in the middle of the battlefield.  Near the battlefield, also on the banks of the Tennessee River, is the Catfish Hotel.  There's more to it than the name implies.  Lyle enjoyed the catfish and hushpuppies, but Judy attacked the babyback ribs.  The log cabin below is the genesis of the current Catfish Hotel. The cabin was in use prior to the civil war and occupied by Union forces during the war.   


November 5, 2015  A travel day--from Savannah, TN to Langston, AL--with a couple of missed turns that caused us to re-route and/or go through Huntsville, AL (instead of around). If you haven't heard of Langston, no surprise.  260 population in the "greater" Langston area, but we would be surprised if the population around the postoffice was more than a dozen.  However, beyond Langston is a new luxury RV park right on the banks of the beautiful Tennessee River.  November 6th was a lazy day with some office work, grocery shopping and cleaning bugs off the front of the motorhome.

November 8, 2015 We pulled out of Langston, AL

about 8 a.m.toward Interstate 59 and Chattanooga.

From there I-24 to Knoxville where we joined I-40.  

Weather was sunny, but traffic was extremely

heavy for a Sunday.  I've noted that drivers on

Chicago expressways run way over the speed

limit, but the I-40 drivers, truckers included, make

Chicago drivers look like amateurs!  Lyle was in

the second-to-right lane going 5 miles an hour

over the limit in the motorhome with trucks

passing on each side--and unable to move over

because of the heavy traffic.  Pucker moments.

We pulled into Asheville, NC without incident.  

Tomorrow we'll visit the Biltmore mansion.

November 9, 2015 Judy's first visit to the

Biltmore Estate at Asheville impressed her--and

impressed Lyle again.  She wrote today's blog:

In spite of the fact that it was a rainy, gloomy

day the approach back to the house was very 

scenic. There was so much thought that went

into the design of house, but the grounds and 

gardens are equally as impressive.  In addition 

there is a winery, shops, farm land, and lodging

for guests.  Every room is so impressive with

lavish crown moldings and beautiful tapestries. I 

loved the interior winter garden with its plush

greenery, and one of my favorite rooms is the

banquet hall with a seven-story high ceiling.  This room houses an impressive pipe organ loft and a rather long table that can seat 38 people.  Throughout the house there are lovely paintings and ornate wood work and exquisite designs on ceilings.  There are beautiful windows and draperies and monogrammed china.  Many of the rooms have fire places which are all different, ornate and so beautiful. There is a spectacular Grand Staircase with a three-story chandelier.  There are several family bedrooms and sitting areas and many more for guests. There is a bowling alley, and swimming pool for the family and guests. The servants living quarters look quite comfortable. The kitchen area includes a huge pantry, a pastry kitchen, a rotisserie kitchen, and walk-in refrigerators.  There is a huge laundry, drying room and ironing room. Although the rain and the lateness of the season prevented us from touring the gardens; a bonus for us were all the rooms are decorated for Christmas. My suggestion is that if any of you are near Asheville, you must visit the Biltmore house and gardens.

November 10, 2015  A word from Lyle before Judy finishes today's blog:  Not all professional truckers are "professional".   Speeding he accepts.  Not signalling at highway speeds seems rampant among truckers in South Carolina, including one trucker that signalled simultaneous to his turning into the lane we were in.  Hard braking and air horn, but he (only assuming it was male) went on his merry way.  In spite of that, this is beautiful country!  Now, heeeres Judy!  

After all the rain of yesterday, we welcomed sunshine this morning.  We left Asheville by 8 and made our way on I-26 and I-95 to Walterboro, SC, arriving around noon.  We are staying at the New Green Acres RV park just off the expressway.  It's a pretty park with many very tall pines, as well as deciduous and palm trees.  A sure sign we're getting closer to Florida!  The many puddles and soggy grassy areas are evidence of the rain that has plagued the area recently.  Today, however, is sunny and beautiful.  

November 11, 2015  The low country of South Carolina and Georgia showed signs of many days/inches of rain as we motored to St. Augustine.  Although one tiny wrong turn took us--motorhome and car--through the middle of historic St. Augustine, we finally made it to the North Beach Camp Resort.  By the photo, its hard to imagine we're practically on the Atlantic Ocean and not in a tropical jungle.  Well, maybe both.  We'll play tourists tomorrow.  By the way, Judy was a little miffed that she only managed 39.2 mpg in Lyle's car today.  Yesterday, she topped 40!   No where near that in the motorhome.

November 12, 2015 Our first stop as tourists in St. Augustine was the old Spanish fort, Castillo de San Marcos--dating back to the 1500's.  After a lunch in the courtyard at Harry's New Orleans style restaurant, we hopped a trolley for a tour around St. Augustine.   Our favorite stop was Memorial Presbyterian Church, built by Henry Flagler to honor the memory of his daughter.  The exterior and interior are equally impressive--both are pictured to the right.  We came back to the motorhome in the late afternoon so Lyle could prepare and record tomorrow's programs for Max Armstrong's agricultural radio network.  It's dinner aboard tonight.  Our plan is for a long day of driving tomorrow, ending up at our winter home base in Ft. Myers.  Thank you for coming along on our journey.