Dog’s Aboard!

We enjoyed our brief trip into LA, but were happy to get back to the bus & the dogs! After 9 years of dentist suggestions, Mike finally had his wisdom teeth removed. We spent time with family & got the coach washed as Mike recovered. After spending a few days in Idaho, we took off to Las Vegas! Our trip to vegas was brief. We visited to look at an RV lot we had been discussing purchasing. Since we decided a few weeks ago Las Vegas would be our home-base in the new year, we decided to purchase a lot at The Las Vegas Motorcoach Resort.

From Vegas, we made our way to Kansas, stopping in Grand Junction, Colorado for a night (one of Mike’s fave spots). We arrived in Kansas & prepared to attend the Luke Bryan Farm Tour concert in the middle of nowhere Kansas (Baldwin City). We took the bus & set up our tailgate. Thousands of country music fans gathered in a local farm & rocked out to The Peach Pickers, Jon Pardi & Luke Bryan. Mike & I had a great time. Our custom plates on the bus are lyrics from a Jon Pardi song!! He definitely did not disappoint!

We had a weekend of recuperating, and made our way over to Missouri for the tailgate of the Kansas City Chiefs, Monday Night Football. The Chiefs Kingdom is NO joke!! One of the best football games Mike & I have attended. The volume level alone was insane!! We made friends with the fans around us & the Chiefs took the WIN!! The excitement from the stadium may have swayed me into becoming a KC fan for life!

The next day I flew into Los Angeles to celebrate my sister, Krystle’s birthday, and Mike & the pups headed to Branson, MO.

Our almost deadly, Labor Day Weekend

From Iowa, we took off towards Idaho, mom & dad more comfortable than ever (see photo for proof, haha!). Landing in Laramie, Wyoming… the 4 of us found home to be a quaint KOA close to the freeway. We BBQ’d and enjoyed each other’s company once more before setting off to Meridian, Idaho. The next day as we made our way to Katie’s, we stopped in at The Cowboy Cafe for lunch. If we were to judge this place from its curb appeal, there’s no way we would have eaten there… BUT! Thanks to YELP, we found ourselves grabbing some yummy sandwiches for the road. Of course, we also stopped at Little America (mom gave us no choice). To her dismay, it was nothing as she remembered it.

Throughout the drive, we noticed the fridge wasn’t doing it’s job. The freezer was freezing, but the fridge was burning up!! Thinking it wasn’t a huge deal, as we’ve experienced “minor” issues before, we kept on our way to Idaho. Almost to our destination, my mom (thank god!) went to fiddle with the fridge. Upon opening it, a soda can exploded!! The heat was SO intense it caused an untouched soda can to shoot out & explode. As we cleaned up the sticky mess, my mom noticed the back of the fridge melting… YES, MELTING!! If she wouldn’t have caught it, the bus would have caught fire & who knows the kind of damage we would’ve been dealing with. Apparently, the fridge had 60watt bulbs, when it is intended to have 40watt! To say the least, the drive to Idaho was definitely not boring.

Arriving in Meridian, we picked up the Excursion from storage & unfortunately realized that the full tank of gas Mike put into the vehicle before storing it was gone (obviously purchasing a gas cap is now on our to-do list). We then caravanned out to Caldwell to set up the bus (it’s home for the next month). We were lucky enough to find an RV resort, every one for miles was booked for the entire month of September!!

Finally we made our way to Katie & Mike’s, just in time for dinner (smoked meat & salad…mm, mm, good)! As the 4 of us snuck around the side gate of their house, Kaden & his new lil buddies were running wild in their undies throughout the backyard. We spent some time catching up, mingling with their neighbors, and of course, playing with Kaden. Then it was back to the bus for us (30 min drive!), with an early day planned full of storage locker wars (just as exciting as the show), spa treatments, picking little man up from his brand new preschool (in a uniform, cutest thing EVER), fridge repair men, Chooch & Sunny visits, and a family cookout at the bus (Kaden was SO excited to see the bus)!

Our last night in town, we spent the night (head-to-toe) sleeping on Katie & Mike’s couch. My dad (gotta love this guy) woke up at 5am to drive Mike & I to the Boise airport for our 7am flight to Los Angeles.

Iowa: The Hawkeye State

We made it to Iowa… all 4 of us! On our drive out, we stopped in Ames, Iowa at a local deli for delicious & very large sandwiches. Since it is a process to park this thing, we were happy to find a supermarket with a large empty lot a few blocks from our desired deli. My mom & dad stocked up on liquor for the pregaming we were going to be doing at the Justin Moore Concert in Ottumwa, Iowa. Then we got back on the road (I napped) and we travelled to the Bridge View Center for the concert.

When we pulled into the parking lot, the only other bus was Justin Moore’s!! How cool!! As we did a few circles finding the perfect spot, the entire parking security crew watched, somewhat confused, not sure whether we were with the band! We ended up parking with a few hours to spare, just enough time to get pretty & eat a snack… and… of course, blast some good ole country music.

The concert was awesome! Top shelf drinks were only $7.00, the people were friendly, and the line for the restroom wasn’t too unbearable! The venue from the inside, felt very similar to a high school gym. Sounds bizarre, but it was great because they weren’t very strict on ticket checks & we were able to move a bit closer to the stage. Justin Moore was SO much fun!! At the end of the show, we went back to the bus & began our own after-party! A bunch of people were rocking out to country music, hanging out & enjoying some of Mike’s amazing BBQ. We had such a great time that we ended up staying overnight in the venue parking lot. Up very early the next day (did I mention we were right next to the train tracks?!) we grabbed some donuts & took off… Next destination? Unknown at the moment… Wyoming? Utah? Stay tuned.

I want my MPG…

A consistent conversation has been started many times since we have started our journey. The question is always “Hey, how’s the gas mileage on that thing?” To be honest, I am a little concerned about the cost of operating this beast but the thrill of the ride still outweighs the walk of shame to the cash register announcing a $400 hold on our card to pump diesel. Always hoping for a high-speed pump, I think about my driving tactics over the past day or two to see if there is anything I can do to maximize our MPG. Slight differences in speed between 65 and 70 could cost 20% based on my initial calculations. I am not sure that it is the safest decision when operating well below the speed limit with every vehicle passing us by. I think that driving safely with the speed of traffic works best but may sacrifice MPG.

The next stretch of our trip will be on flat roads without much elevation change and am hoping for some increases in MPG.

There are a lot of folks that say if you are asking what the MPG is then you shouldn’t drive the bus. We can joke about this but everyone is trying to maximize operation now a days. We operate the coach with the cruise on more often now and hope that the computer systems that are operating can ensure we are getting optimum MPG.

While we were in Petoskey, MI last week there were a bunch of owners headed to Quebec City, Ontario to tour the Prevost factory. I’m sure the question will come up regarding this topic. If only we were back on the East Coast…If all goes well, maybe in 2018 we will make it back there to visit friends and family and share memories of our amazing trip about America.

Minnesota: The Star of the North. Part Two.

We woke up this morning & after battling over who gets to shower 1st, we jumped on the free shuttle to the Mystic Lake Casino. We enjoyed some breakfast & a little bit of gambling. We hit a SPIN ON Wheel of Fortune which was a nice little pick-me-up! After a few hours, we went back to the bus & prepared for our afternoon on Lake Minnetonka.

If any of you are familiar with my husband, then you are well aware that he does NOT do well as a passenger. We called an Uber… Owale (our driver) was probably THE worst driver. Mike had a minor meltdown & was not shy utilizing his Back-Seat Driver’s License. 35 minutes later, we found ourselves safely (thank heavens!) exiting the Uber & boarding the Pontoon Boat. I’d say Mike was the most relieved to be getting out of the car!

The boat included the 4 of us, our 2 friends from CA & their 2 family members from Minnesota. We had a blast! 15 minutes into the ride, we were already doing a search & rescue mission for my dad’s hat. He didn’t get the memo not to wear a brand new hat on a windy overcast day (LOL). We bar-hopped from dock to dock… Enjoying champagne & each others company. We ended the eventful day in Wayzata, Minnesota. More locals met up with us as we enjoyed some wine & cheese curds. Cheese curds were a first for most of the people at the table, yum!!

Back at the bus, everyone decompressed, watched a bit of Fox News to catch up on the world’s happenings, then fell asleep ready for an early morning take-off to Iowa the next day!

Minnesota: The Star of the North. Part One

Man did we make some memories in the great state of Minnesota! We had a full day (which we naturally spent at Mall of America) before my parents arrived & joined us on our last leg of the 1st chapter of our journey.

Mall of America. WOW! 8 hours & 2 meals later… Mike & I found ourselves hailing down an Uber with bags upon bags. If a state is going to have a mall the size of this one, they should atleast have Shopping Addiction: Get Help Now! pamphlets at every check-out stand, or atleast near the ATM’s (C’mon Minnesota).

The next day we got started a little late. Our friends from CA were also getting into town. That afternoon we stopped in to visit friends before heading over to University of Minnesota for the Buffalo vs. Gophers game. While we were a few minutes late (an hour) for the Buffalo tailgate (no one expected LA traffic in Minnesota), we enjoyed some pregame food & found our seats. Section 107, Row 7. Amazing seats!! The game was AWESOME! Skydivers landed in the middle of the field before kick-off, the marching band energizing the entire crowd, and fireworks shot from the stadium. Although Buffalo lost, we all had a great time & my mom’s 1st college football game was a success.

After the game, we hung around while Buffalo left the field & loaded their bus. Walking aimlessly for over a mile, we located the local light rail & went downtown Minneapolis. Of course, when Mike noticed a pizza place out the window we had to jump off & get a slice or two. We didn’t mind that it was probably in one of the roughest parts of the city. The street corner had not only the local police department patrolling on foot, but the Sheriff department too! From there, we hailed an Uber & headed back to the bus.

 

Pit-Stop at Liberty Coach, Northern Chicago

Being in our coach for about a month now, we’ve come to identify a few minor fixes/updates that needed to be addressed. After meeting a very helpful gentleman up at Hearthside Grove in Petoskey, we decided to swing down to the Liberty Factory in Northern Chicago. Boy, oh boy… The experience of getting into the overnight lot at the Northern Chicago service facility was one we’ll live to remember!

We arrived at the facility after-hours, with a gate code for a padlock, and the instructions to “back it in between the posts” sounding from the service managers voicemail left hours before. With a torrential downpour occuring outside & lightning bolts painting their mark across the sky, Mike had me gear up in his rain coat, grab a walkie talkie, and head outside to assist him in parking the bus.

After multiple attempts to open the padlock, the gate was finally opened (WIN!) !! Now for the fun part… Mike needed to reverse around a street corner, pull into the Jelly Belly factory truck loading dock adjacent to the desired parking spot, then finish by reversing between a tight barbwired gate, perfectly placing the rear of the coach between 2 very tight power poles… I am not using the word “tight” as an exaggeration… being able to reverse a 45ft coach into the desired spot would be deemed as a true feat! After a few attempts, we were in! Way to go, Mike!!

We spent the evening in the lot, awaiting our service appt the next morning. Mike & I have been blown away with the level of service provided to us at this point. We called last minute, with hopes of being tended to quickly, on our route over to Minnesota. Alex, the tech-guru and grandson of Frank Sr. (whom we mentioned meeting in our previous post) & Bill Doherty, the service manager, were awesome! Eager to assist us in troubleshooting immediate issues (fixing the outdoor TV my husband smashed…no comment), to planning with Mike how to make some of his coach technology dreams a reality. Alex & Bill even took care of some of my preferential items, like replacing a few velcro pieces, enabling our front carpets to remain stationary rather than be moved about in transit & fixing a squeak coming from one of our blinds (Thank you!!).

Liberty Coach has just reaffirmed the main component behind our decision of choosing them to embark on this journey with us. Service is key, and something you can expect from them when purchasing your next conversion bus.

Michigan: The Mitten State

Michigan was great! We stayed in a very luxurious RV Park in Petoskey, Hearthside Grove. By far, the nicest we’ve been to yet! Upon arrival we were given name tags (see below, haha!). This place was great, from the people working there, the amenities, to the visitors & owners. We spent our 1st day in Michigan roaming around Downtown Petoskey, where there happen to be a cute local street fair: The Festival on the Bay. We enjoyed some sweet corn & entered the Elks Raffle for a used 4-wheeler (because…who doesn’t want a 4-wheeler?!). We even made it to Inn at Bay Harbor! Awesome, waterfront hotel (reminded us of Hotel Coronado in SD), where we enjoyed a fancy dinner steps away from the Lake.

The next few days were unfortunately rained out, but that was okay, since Mike was in LA on some last minute business. With Mike not around & a very strong wifi signal, I was able to catch up on a few of my favorite shows. Since the airport was in Traverse City (about an hour and a half from our RV park), we grabbed some brunch & drove around there before he took off for LA and when he got back into Michigan.

That night, we made it to the Charlevoix-Emmet County Fair. Loaded Brisket Baked Potato & Fried Zucchini were on the menu that evening as we listened under the Grand Stand to The Battle of the Bands, Country Edition.

As the week went on, and we attempted to be fit by walking around this massive resort & utilizing the gym equipment, we met some pretty awesome people. Mike was more than excited to meet & chat with the founder of Liberty Coach, Frank Sr…. Probably the only time he’d be happy I drug him to the gym ;P Later that day, we drove up to Harbor Springs… an AWESOME little harbor town, a little north of Petoskey. While in town, we admired Betsy Devos’ yacht The Seaquest (163ft!), then stopped a quaint bookstore for our next good read & grabbed some dinner before heading back to the Hearthside.

On Saturday, we attended a brunch hosted by Millennium Coaches & had the oportrunity to mingle with more of our “neighbors.” We spent so much time mingling, the food was actually done & put away by the time we were ready to grab a bite! It was very cool to hear the diverse backgrounds of each motorcoach couple. Some still working, some retired… Everyone had their own story for why they were where they are now: leisure, business, and/or fun… We met a couple that are huge Florida Gator fans… We met the man who created the “Whacka-mole” carnival game… Even met the founder of Millennium Coach.

Later that night, we made our way to the clubhouse for the McGreggor vs. Mayweather fight. Since we arrived at 9pm, for a fight that didn’t start until 12am…. We spent the evening in the clubhouse, enjoying beverages & shooting the shit with our new Hearthside Grove buddies (known as The Grovers). We even met a gentleman from Westlake Village! Small World, No?!

Towards the end of our stay, we found the local Walmart to stock up on some supplies & of course.. since the Walmart was right near the Odawa Casino, we donated some of our cash to the good-ole indians. Mike & I spent the evening outside our coach bbq’ing patty-melts & hotdogs.

Our last day in town was spent in Downtown Petoskey. We ate at Tap 30, the local brewery there & bought some groceries at their neighborhood natural foods market. We made a pitstop along the way at a wine shop, to grab a few bottles for us to bring to dinner at our new friends coach for a cookout. Harvey (our new friend from Westlake Village) BBQ’d beer can chicken, and his girlfriend, Tammi made a strawberry pie. Dinner, and the company was great!

This journey has been quite memorable thus far. Meeting new people, exploring new towns… We are looking forward to all that is instore for us as we continue on!

Maine: The way life should be

Our adventure in Maine started out with a BANG! As we pulled into our campsite in Old Orchard Beach, ALL of the neighbors came out to wave & stare. Our spot was in this awesome forest atmosphere with tons of trees, just a short walk to an amazing sandy beach.

Catching one of the very few Ubers around, we quickly made our way into the main part of town. We found ourselves at the end of the pier, sipping on our first “beverage” of the night. Meeting some characters from Boston, our night began to take off. We found ourselves enjoying “the best lobster in Old Orchard” at a locals spot, Bell Buoy. Of course, it wouldn’t be until the next day that we’d come to regret overindulging in the amazing, buttery, flavorful lobster.

Making friends with quite a few locals, they accompanied us on a bar-hopping adventure through Old Orchard. Stopping 1st at a dive bar, The Last Call. Live music & billiards, we enjoyed our time until the dreadful Last Call rang out from behind the bar. Naturally, no one was ready for the night to end. We found ourselves (& our new “friends”) headed to The Brunswick. Known for “The Largest Patio in Old Orchard,” this restaurant transforms at night into a full on, jam-packed dance club. Loud music, bright lights, and stron drinks. As the rounds of drinks flowed, so did our dance moves. Mingling amongst locals & tourists alike we found ourselves taking full advantage of their famous patio.

As the night progressed & our friends list grew, we discovered that Maine’s last call is at 1am. Although completely disappointed at the time, we would come to appreciate this concept of an earlier night the next day. Needless to say… the next morning, day, afternoon & evening was spent recooperating from our fun night on the town. When we finally did make it outside for some fresh air, we took a walk to the beach, only to find it beyond packed. Our guess, 30-50k people on the 7-mile strip of sand. More people than Mike & I had ever seen at the beach… and we’ve lived in Santa Monica!!

After losing a day to the recovery process, we explored Portland… Eating at Duckfat (amazing poutine fries), browsing the cobblestreet shops & of course trying some of the famous potato donuts at Holy Donuts. The next day we became one of the 1000s to enjoy the beach, then traveled into Kennebunkport (aka Bush town) for the afternoon.

Our next stop was up to Belfast, Maine, a bit more north. Our RV site in Belfast was amazing, right on the water, a few minutes from their very tiny town. We explored, chatted with a guy from Rome, NY (town right near Mike’s hometown… what are the chances?!) who let us play with his Newfie… suppressing our withdrawals of Chooch & Sunny momentarily. We grabbed some dinner at an italian spot Delvina’s which just so happened to have amazing..yes, amazing, blueberry cake with sugar crumble. Since Enterprise had no vehicles available for rent, we were unable to make it to Bar Harbor (Ba-ah, Hah-bah) & settled for a day trip to Camden.

We loved all the coastal towns in Maine. While it’s safe to say I enjoyed the tourist-trap shops a bit more than Mike, he definitely enjoyed all the pastry shops & ice cream we found a long the way.

Vermont to Maine

Vermont was possibly one of THE most beautiful states we’ve seen. We crammed a lot of sightseeing into our day. We called a taxi to take us to the local airport, where we rented a car for the day. Our 1st stop wasThe Vermont Flannel Company. We spent time browsing through everything flannel! Shirts, pants, blankets, jackets, even thong underwear (LOL)! Next stop, Dakin Family Farms & Sugar House. Mike & I overindulged, purchasing maple everything!! Bacon, honey, syrup, jam… We haven’t even mentioned the souvenir items yet (t-shirts, mugs, magnets, & more!).

Back on the road, we headed to Cookie Love, Vermont’s cookie & ice cream shop. Considering I’m obsessed with chocolate chip cookies we had to stop. Of course, my ice cream loving husband went for the Maple Flavored Soft Serve (not my cup-of-tea), he loved it! After filling up, we headed to The Vermont Teddy Bear Company. Not sure how excited Mike was about this stop, but we have nephews who clearly needed Teddy Bears! The Teddy Bear Company was a slight disappointment as everything was way overpriced, but we still caved (shh! it’s a surprise). We fell in love with strolling through Downtown Burlington, however our shopping addiction was out in full force. Too many cute boutiques to not buy a few items (xmas gifts!). We ended up at a salad shop for a quick bite, which might possibly have been one of the better salads we’ve had… “B.Good,” you guys know what’s up!! Seriously though, if you ever find yourself in Burlington, Vermont… you need to grab a salad from b.Good! You will NOT be disappointed.

That evening we arrived back to our campsite only to find that the shore-power was not working, our generator ran until the gas got to low, and we had to move sites. Which ultimately meant, my husband was in freak-out mode. Stressed was an understatement. The up-side to this fiasco? Mike got to reverse the rig for the 1st time in the dark! Nailed it on his…5th, 2nd try!

The next morning we were early risers! Up & out by 7:15am. We headed over to The Penny Cluse Cafe in Downtown, Burlington. This restaurant has such a following that we arrived at 7:45am to a line down the street…The restaurant didn’t even open till 8am!!! We grabbed two seats at the bar, ordered their famous biscuits & gravy, and a set of their pancakes. This carb-load was necessary and definitely worth it, mm..mm…mmm!

After breakfast we made a quick exchange back at Dakin Farms, the shirt Mike loved was unfortunately the wrong size. On our drive back to the airport to drop off the rental, we stumbled on an adorable little Farmer’s Market. How could we not seize this opportunity?! Hand-crafted jewelry, homemade pastries & bread (you all know by now the carb obsession is real for us!), vegetables so bright they looked fake. Mike & I felt our love for Vermont increasing as we strolled along, chatting with locals. Next Stop… Maine!