A Tale of Two Tables

The table that came in our Foretravel was shaped like a football with the pointy ends clipped off.

This is a picture of the original table that the former owner sent when we were looking at the coach. It has a slide mounted on a fixed pedestal that lets you move the table toward the seat cushions or away. The thinking behind the curved edges was probably to make it easier to slip in behind the table and to provide a bit more clearance between the table and the kitchen when the slide was in.

It worked OK but was really crowded if you wanted four for dinner. We had seen a couple with rectangular tables of various shapes in this location so we decided it was time for a change.

As we do for most projects like this, the first step is a cardboard cutout in the shape and size we thought would work. A cardboard model is easy to shift around for placement and easy to trim as needed.

Then we went to a 1″ thick foam mockup. This added a thickness dimension. Some final trimming and we were ready to go.

The plan was always to make a cherry table. Cherry is in limited supply in my shop and we wanted to make sure it was going to work. I had plenty of black walnut on hand so I made the first version out of it.

Here it is in place. The coach sure looks different from the original pictures, much more colorful, much more ours. The walnut table looks quite dramatic.

This version slides in closer to the cushions than the football shape and, in the center of the table, had more clearance between the kitchen and the table. It is black walnut with breadboard ends and black pegs.

We could pull the table out and with our two folding chairs have plenty of room for four for dinner or games. With the table out for just the two of us we has room for dinner or a jigsaw puzzle or to sit at the far end facing forward to work on a laptop. With the table pushed in towards the cushions we could use the folding chairs and have dinner looking out the windows.

I posted a picture of this table on the Foretravel Owners Forum (ForeForums, http://www.foreforums.com ) and said it was a prototype that would get replaced. I heard from some folks in North Carolina within about 15 minutes who asked if they could have it. That was always my intention so it will soon find a new home.

After using this table we decided 1″ bigger in both direction would be nice and I wanted to see if I could move the pedestal base closer to the couch.

Here is the cherry table top. The small bowtie inlays are mesquite cut from a log I got in TexasThe square pegs and breadboard keys are made from ebony.

And I was able to modify the pedestal base and move it about 1-1/2″ closer to the cushion.

We got a new SW looking table runner that matches our place mats. The chicken came from a Fabric Arts Guild Center in Tillamook, OR.

Susan got a new coffee thermos which just happened to match a hot pad we got from my sister.

It looks wonderful. Susan is concerned about a scratch or dings. I am not. It is made to be used and enjoyed.

More later with Much Love,

Roger and Susan

MCD Shades, October 2018

Karen and Ted
Our friends Karen and Ted who we met last winter (2018) in Texas and saw again this summer (2018) in Michigan stopped by for a visit in September, 2018. They had MCD day/night shades in their coach. These shades have a sun screen day shade and an opaque night shade. You pull them down and they stay. A little tug down and release and the slowly wind themselves back up. We saw their shades in Michigan and started thinking. The shades in our coach work OK but if the day shade is down you can’t see through it and the breeze doesn’t come through very well. We looked again when they were here in September and decided to order the MCD shades. We measured once, twice, three times and then ordered the shades.
Yes, it is all their fault. They made us do it.
MCD Shades Arrive, October 12, 2018
We got a big box from MCD Shades today. Day and night shades for every window in the coach except the windshield which we did four years ago.  The front and rear end windows in the slide need deeper frames. Got going on those today.  It should take the better part of a day to remove the window trim and old shades, install the MCD shades and refit the trim.
MCD Shades Installed, October 27, 2018

Well the MCD Shades are installed.  The old pleated day/night shades are off, vacuumed, neatly folded and wrapped up ready for a new home. What does it take to do these yourself?  Careful measuring, some time, patience, the right tools and a good helper.  Susan was wonderful as usual.  We make quite a team.

In order to replace your existing shades you need to remove them.  The vertical side trim pieces get removed first  In our coach they are held on with screws and a couple right angle brackets attached to the wall on either side of the window.  If your coach has window sills there will be a screw up from the bottom through the sill into the vertical trim.  Once all the screws are out move the bottom of the vertical trim towards the end of the sill and pull down to get it out.

Vertical Window Trim Bracket

Window Valence Screws

Window Valence Wires

Remove the screws on the wind up spools at the ends of the cords near the bottom of where the pleaded shade descend.  As soon as you loosen one screw the shade will come down all the way. 

Spool Screws

On the very top edge of the pleated shade there will be three to six screws into the wall holding the shade in place. 

Pleated Shade Screws

I have a 12″ driver extension and a six inch long phillips driver which helped get these out in the tight space under the overhead cabinets.  Once removed we lowered the upper part of the shade, folding up the pleats and then put rubber bands around them to make them easier to handle.

The MCD Shades come with mounting clips that attach with screws into the bottom cabinets. This is about 1/4″ plywood but there is hidden space so you can use up to a 3/4″ screw.  I used 1/2″ screws with a deep thread for holding strength in the plywood.  If you strip a screw move the clip to a new location. You could disassemble all of the cabinet bottoms and add a reinforcement if you wanted.  It is a lot of work.  

Each clip is spaced out from the wall.  MCD suggested 3/8″.  This makes it easier to get the shades into the clips.  We went for 1/4″ because the inside of our vertical trim is padded and the padding reduces the available space to the shade. Make each clip as uniformly spaced from the wall as possible.  Misaligned clips make the shade almost impossible to get into the clips.  

Each shade needs one clip about one inch in from each end of the shade and then more spaced in between depending on the length of the shade.  MCD sends plenty of clips.  Our biggest shades needed four, there were enough clips to have done six.  The more clips there are the harder it is to get them all lined up and clipped into place. 

Clip Layout 

Clip Installed

Shade Mounted to End Clip

Shade Mounted to Middle Clip

The shade top bar gets set in the rear part of the clip and then rotated towards the front and clipped into the front part of the clip.  It is quite positive, you will need a flat screwdriver to undo it.

Shade Installed, Ready for Trim

Reinstall the top valence.  Start the screws first before you do.  Leave one screw sticking out just a bit to help line it up where it was.  Connect the valance lighting wires, test to make sure they work.  Push the wires back up into the cabinet bottom and tuck the remaining wires out of the way as best you can.  Hold the top valence in place, line up the screw with a hole and screw it back up.  a long screw bit and a good flashlight are essential here.

Reinstall the Top Valence

The MCD Shades need about 2″ minimum clearance so that the shades operate properly.  We mounted our shade clips a bit closer to the wall to gain some room.  When we reinstalled the first set of vertical trim we discovered that the padded inside added just enough drag on the night time shade to slow it down and not roll up properly.  Our fix was to add a 3/16″x 1- 1/8″ strip of wood wrapped with an attractive brown vinyl fabric that we have been saving for more than 35 years for just such a time.  The strips got stapled to the wall side of the vertical trim, flush on the inside and about 1/4′ reveal on the outside.  We think it looks pretty nice. The vertical trim went back in, plenty of room at the top where the valence is.  At the bottom where the vertical trim sat on a sill I drilled a new hole for the bottom screw about 1/4″ further out than the original one. 

Extension Added to Vertical Trim

The screen door sun shade mounts near the middle of the door and pulls up to clips at the top of the screen door frame.  We have a door handle on the screen door (very useful) and wanted the sun screen to roll up behind it to keep the functionality.  So a couple calls back and forth with MCD got is pretty close. It could have been maybe 3/8″ wider but the MCD tolerance is +/- 1/4″.  It is in the tolerance but more towards the minus side.  The roller mounts on a custom built cherry piece to get it where I wanted it.  

Screen Door Pull Up Shade

If you have a slide the end window trim frames only have about 1-3/8″ clearance.  Back to the shop to make new frames. 

New Slide Window Frames

The existing face trim does not cover the shades when they are rolled up like the top valences so we added a vinyl covered panel to do that.  We tried to get it to line up with the bottom of the top valences, we came close.  

Slide Rear Window Trim

We will probably remake this face trim but not today.  This is one shade where we think we should have ordered it with both the sun screen and the night shade rolling down towards the window side.  It may have provided better night time coverage.  I looked at these and I think I can change the night side to roll towards the inside. A call to MCD will answer that. 

The kitchen shade has no trim and both shades roll to the window side. 

Kitchen Shade

Slide Window Shades

A Bedroom Window Shade

A Living Room Window Shade

Driver’s Side Window Shade

Actual time to remove the pleated shades and install the MCD shades was pretty close to 8 hours but it was spread out over several parts.  Practice really speeds things up.  The first windows maybe took two hours each. By the last windows we were down to about 30 minutes each. Making the vertical trim additions added about an hour and the new slide window frames maybe three or four hours.

We are especially looking forward to the daytime sun shades.  Privacy, sun blocking and they will allow the breeze to come through. Worth doing?  We think so, we did the windshield shades about four years ago and they have been perfect for us.

These projects make life in the coach better for us. That is the only reason we do them.

More Later, Much Love,

Roger and Susan

Ontonagon, MI, and Home to Hastings, Summer 2018

The Township Park and Campground in Ontonagon MI is another gem along the south shore of Lake Superior. These smaller city and county campgrounds are really nice. This is another one we have been to several times.

About half the sites right on Lake Superior.

Just a couple nights, the first day was into Ontonagon to check out the Nonesuch Shop and lunch. A wonderful shop full of mostly hand made items including spectacular quilts made by the lady who runs the store. She has a sewing machine right next to the cash register an is always making something. Her quilts are going to the International Quilt Study Center and Museum at the University of Nebraska where they can be preserved, stored and displayed. She is always fun to talk with.

Here is a link to an earlier post from the Ontonagon area.


The next day was pretty much an all day rain. I made an effort to get caught up on emails. We were watching weather reports. The next day looked like no rain, the three days after that looked like rain so we decided to push for home the next day, a 7-1/2 hour day.

A couple odd things…

Our refrigerator just shut down, no cooling. The lights were on but it was not running and getting warmer. So I called Samsung, they had me go through a couple troubleshooting steps that didn’t identify anything in particular so they had me unplug the refrigerator for two minutes and then plug it back in and set it to power cooling and power freeze. Nothing happened. About 15 minutes later it started up, got cold and life was good again. Somehow it got confused and shut down. We had to reboot it!

And then about an hour away from home our coach engine started to feel like it was missing. Almost every thing that is a problem for diesel engines is fuel related. We had just been talking to Amanda and Douglas about this very thing two nights before. So we pulled off into a Cenex truck stop. The engine has primary and secondary fuel filters and a prefilter screen. The prefilter screen looked pretty clogged up so I removed it and cleaned it as best I could (I have two new ones at home of course) and replaced that and changed the primary fuel filter (I had two with me and two more at home). I did not have a secondary filter with us so I just had to hope for good luck.

Diesel fuel is about 20% biodiesel and under certain conditions algae will grow in it. We must have picked up some less than wonderful fuel somewhere along the way and its the algae that clogs up the filters.

The prefilter screen and primary filter are easy to get at, the secondary is more difficult. All of that took 45 minutes. The engine has an air purge system for the fuel lines and filter with an electric fuel pump to pressurize the fuel system. So I pushed the button to start the air purge and turned the key to start the engine. It started right away. The instructions say to run it on high idle for three minutes. It has three idle speeds. I checked for fuel leaks, there were none. So off we went, all was well. We stopped a couple miles down the road to check for fuel leaks, none. So we just finished up the drive home.

There is a lot to learn about these coaches. You could be just stuck on the side of the road or make the effort to know how to fix what you can fix and be prepared for what you might not expect but might just happen anyway.

Be prepared, the old Boy Scout Motto applies to so many things. The right parts and tools, the right knowledge and the willingness to just get it done. I got a pat on the back from Susan and a lot of help too. We are in this together.

Where to next? Texas, Arizona and New Mexico this winter sounds good. We have to get used to being at home again first.

More later, Much Love

Roger and Susan

Munising, MI, Summer 2018

A couple hours west of Sault Ste. Marie to Munising. There is a nice city campground there that we have been to twice before. About 1/3 of the sites are right on Lake Superior.

The Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is just to the east. Part of the National Lakeshore includes Grand Island, a great place to go biking.

Munising has two great hardware stores, perfect when you need something which is usually the case.

And what we really came here for is Sand Point, a very nice beach on the east side of the bay facing west. Perfect for an afternoon sitting on the beach doing some of life’s really important tasks, nothing.

We were here for three days, first day was a trip to the hardware store, actually both, looking for a picture hanger. We drove out to Sand Point but found the road closed. We checked out the city park where there was going to be a concert the next evening. We went out for lunch, it took three tries to find a place we actually wanted to eat. The last was pretty good.

The next day it was black clouds, lots of wind from the north, big waves coming right on to the beach at the campground, white caps, some rain. A perfect day to stay inside. It calmed down in the afternoon enough to get out for 20 laps around the campground on our bikes.

Our friends Douglas and Amanda showed up late in the afternoon. They were at the Howell Melon Festival down in Michigan’s mitten and heading for Iowa. So, look at a map, Munising is right on the way right? No matter, we were happy to see them again. We had supper together. The last of the home made pasties.

The next day we made blueberry pancakes for breakfast. Can you believe Amanda had never had blueberry pancakes before? Well she has now and she liked them. Our five pounds of blueberries from South Haven were down to the last pint after that.

The afternoon was spent at the beach doing important stuff. And then Foggy’s in Christmas, MI for dinner. It was only about three miles away and the food was good. By the time we were eating people were standing in line waiting for a table.

And then they came over for a visit, some ice cream and a couple card games. We had a nice framed picture of a sailboat going under the lift bridge at Charlevoix for them. A reminder of their new boat they sail on the south arm of the lake. That is what the hangers were for. They were surprised and pleased. It will make a colorful addition to their coach.

We played Quidler, Amanda won. And a round of Uno. I think (cut throat) Douglas won. We managed to chat until almost midnight pretty early with them.

In the morning we were leaving for Ontonagon, 2-1/2 hrs west. We had to go see where they hung the picture, exactly where we thought it would look nice without any coaching from us. Very nice. Hugs and goodbyes and we were off. They are getting pretty good at Minnesota Goodbyes so it really took a bit longer, quite a bit longer actually.

More later, Much Love,

Roger and Susan

Sault Ste. Marie, MI, Summer 2018

Ted and Karen headed off toward Oregon. Amanda and Douglas were off to the Howell Melon Festival. We were heading north to Sault Ste. Marie where Lake Superior connects to Lake Michigan and Lake Huron via the St. Mary’s River and the Soo Locks.

Orchard Beach State Park

We stopped about half way at Orchard Brach State Park. It is on a bluff above Lake Michigan. The long stairway to the lake was closed for repairs.

It was the only way down.

We had a nice site, plenty of room. It is a small park and pretty much full. We walked up to the bluff in the evening to see the sun set.

Not too much to see as smoke from Canada forest fires was in the air.

Except for a nice looking hawk on a fence post.

Manistee is a small town on Lake Michigan just south of Orchard Beach. There were two very nice beaches, pier and a lighthouse. A dredging barge too.

Next day, north towards the Mighty Mac. Our second passage didn’t seem quite as harrowing.

Here is a short dash cam video as we approach the very center of the bridge. We were more than 200 feet above the lake at that point. No audio, the tires made a horrible whining on the metal grate roadway. Susan did not. And then another hour and twenty minutes to Sault Ste. Marie.

Aune-Osborn Campground

We have been here before. Site 91. A great spot to watch the world go by, at least big ocean ships, the usually bigger lake freighters called Lakers and the thirteen giant 1000 ft long lake boats nicknamed Footers. These carry taconite from Duluth and Two Harbors down to the steel mills in Indiana and other places. If you are here long enough you will see the same ship going both ways. In just five days we saw seven of the Footers.

Not many trees here, the old ones are dying and the new ones are pretty small. We managed to get one of the few.

There was a sailboat regatta (a race) on the Canadian side of the river our first evening there.

It was interesting watching the boats go back and forth towards the start line trying to arrive at the sound of the start horn. Then they were off up river into a headwind tacking back and forth. Finally they were out of sight only to come back downstream, come about (turn around) and head back upstream again.

All the while dodging a 1000 ft laker, the Edgar B Speer, a boat we have seen many times, heading down river. The Speer is the most powerful of the lake boats with more than 19,000 horsepower. These boats go by all night long, most are pretty quiet and you don’t even hear them.

The morning sun comes up right over the St Mary’s River.

And with coffee, another boat, the CSL Whitefish Bay, heads upstream.

Just down stream is the Sugar Island Ferry.

It carries about 15 cars or trucks or RVs across the ship channel about 300 ft to Sugar Island and back, all day long. One day we saw a Foretravel coming across! Rare to see another one anywhere. Susan spotted it across the river getting ready to drive on to the ferry.

The ferry was large but dwarfed by a lake boat going by first. It waited.

The Foretravel was from Kansas and had no other markings at all. He got off the ferry and was gone. It looked like a 1996 to me.

And next to the mainland ferry terminal was Clyde’s, a real old fashioned drive-in where they come out and take your order. You can go inside and order and eat at picnic tables too. We had a couple great fish sandwiches there.

And at the other end of town the much smaller West Pier Drive-In, also with car hops!

We had spectacular (huge) hamburgers, a butterscotch malt and an order of onion rings (big enough for four!). Way more than we could eat. My Uncle Jimmy would always say he would eat all this food and burst and splatter all over the walls. Funny what we remember from 60 years ago.

One day a cruise ship went by. It was on a ten day Great Lakes Cruise.And other ships from all over the world.

Here are two ocean going ships from the same shipping line from the Netherlands. One heading for Duluth, the other to Belgium.

On the morning of our last day the Edgar B Speer was heading upstream towards the locks and the CSL Whitefish Bay, an 800 footer, was headed down. Both boats we had seen just four days earlier going the other way.

We took pictures of just about every boat and ship that went by. Way too many to post here. This is already a long blog.

We are heading for Munising a couple hours west, still in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, home of the Yoopers.

More later, Much Love.

Roger and Susan

National Blueberry Festival, South Haven MI, Summer 2018, Part 3

Blueberries. They are everywhere around here. Giant fields with rows and rows of high bush blueberry shrubs. Most have some you-pick rows. It looked like there were many fields with farmhands picking berries. We saw a couple with some sort of machine. And roadside blueberry stands where you could buy already picked. And somehow “washed” seemed to be a distinction at many of these.

The bushes are about 4-5 ft high and loaded with berries. It wouldn’t take long to fill a bucket here.

The National Blueberry Festival in South Haven is a bit spread out. We were expecting more organization, a more central focus. There is a big pavilion near the city hall where the Farmer’s market was earlier in the week. They had a pancake breakfast there on Saturday morning and a blueberry market the rest of the day and again on Sunday. You could buy blueberries in any size package you wanted. There were blueberry pies, blueberry muffins, blueberry scones, blueberry jams and anything else you could imaging that had blueberries in it. We bought a five pound box of blueberries. I have never seen that many in one place. It was about 8 pints as you would find them in the grocery store. In a 5 pound box they were about $1.50 a pint. Very inexpensive. Very sweet.

The pancake breakfast was held at the airport on Sunday. We thought about going to the pancake breakfast one day but curiously neither mentioned blueberry pancakes. If not for those why would you go. So on Sunday morning we made blueberry pancakes for ourselves. My idea of blueberry pancakes is blueberries surrounded by the minimum possible batter to make a pancake. More blueberries than pancake. We make enough for us and usually have 3 or 4 left. They get frozen. Frozen blueberry pancakes with a bit of butter and maple syrup on top, reheated just to hot in the microwave are almost as good as when we made them.

The only place to get a T-shirt or anything else that said Blueberry festival was at a tent near the river that flowed through South Haven into Lake Michigan. There was a marina spread out along both sides of the river, lots of boats of all sizes only a 1/4 mile or so to Lake Michigan. We went there on Sunday morning. Some small and med T-shirts of a few of the styles left. No hats, no bags if they ever had them. Not much to choose from, we were surprised. So no souvenirs.

Across the river over a narrow drawbridge was a park full of craft and stuff vendors. It was the biggest part of the entire festival and nothing there had anything to do with blueberries. You could get food from lots of food trucks, I bought a raffle ticket for two nice kayaks that I am sure I will win and if you can imagine what you might find at one of these craft shows there was likely at least two places selling them.

Douglas and Amanda’s booth was right next to the central flower garden.

It was attracting lots of lookers and quite a few buyers. I waited to take this picture. They reported the Saturday was a very good day. Amanda makes all of the jewelry with help from Douglas. They do about 25-30 shows a year and sell on their website.

Magnets Really Work

If you order something from them and use “Home 2” as a promotion code you can get 20% off! It is really nice.

We stopped at Captain Lou’s for lunch. It was after 1PM and it was still very busy. I had Cajun Perch tacos and Susan had a salmon wrap. Both were just the right size and very good.

The Michigan Maritime Museum was next door so we went in and looked at that, pretty small and not much to see for the entrance fee. There was a Coast Guard exhibit and a boat workshop that were probably more interesting.

You could buy tickets to go sailing on a fairly big old sailboat or a harbor ride in a Captains Barge.

What really caught my eye was a wooden ChrisCraft boat from the 1930s. Big V6 inboard, originally had a straight six.

Pretty much all else original. Just as I think I remember from On Golden Pond

These folks were on a one hour boat ride that went out into Lake Michigan. Lots of fun for them.

South Haven is known for its beach, it is not all that much of a beach but it is the first big beach on this side of Lake Michigan going north. So it is a popular place for folks from Chicago and Indiana. Lots of homes in town are nothing more than vacation rental places with owners from somewhere else. The population is only 4,200. It is actually busier in the winter with snowmobile activity than it is in the summer. Here, summer is the off season. Go figure.

More later, Much Love

Roger and Susan

National Blueberry Festival, South Haven MI, Summer 2018 Part 2

Part of the reason we came here was to see Amanda and Douglas. They are full timers who make jewelry to sell at craft fairs. They will be staying in one place in the northern part of lower Michigan for a month this summer and for all summer next year. Partly because they have a small sailboat and can sail where they stay and partly because there is a good selection of artisan craft fairs within a day of where they are staying that they can go to. So between sailing and the craft fairs they are busy making stuff to sell. Bracelets and necklaces made of magnetic beads and silver, crystals and gem stones that are supposed to be good for what ails you.

We all made the house show and tell rounds, every one is different. Ted and Karen have a rare 2001 36′ with no slide. Cherry interior in a U270 with other details that made us pretty sure it was a custom built coach.

We all fit! They have MCD shades on all of their windows. These are a big step up from the pleated shades. The day time shade blocks sun and adds privacy. The night time shade is very dark. And they are very easy to operate. We are thinking about these.

One afternoon Susan and I baked one of our last home made rustic apple pies from last fall’s crop. While it was baking we made pasties. Beef, pork, potatoes, rutabagas, onions, all wrapped up in a pie dough crust. We baked those when the pie was done.

Perfect, just like Mom used to make. Cut up fruit and a nice salad made a great pot luck dinner for all to share.

Amanda is the Queen of Selfies. We had our school lunch plates to keep food organized.

We went to the Farmers Market one day. Great peaches!

Susan found a hummingbird feeder that she liked so now we have another one for home. And some peach pound cake to have with the peaches.

Every one found something to like and then we went to a coffee shop for a coffee and a scone.

We went down to the State Park beach on Lake Michigan. The first time we walked over an immense dune, lots of work, and back over it on the way out. Then we discovered a no hill way. We went that way next.

Sailboats, waves and warm sun.

Until the end of the day.

Tomorrow, the Festival begins.

More later, Much Love.

Roger and Susan