Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Motown Museum and Memories

Thoughts of yesterday are still spinning in my head.  We visited the Motown Museum in Detroit and it brought back a lot of memories from songs of the 60's and 70's.
The museum was modest by most standards but so full of incredible thoughts of the 'Motown Sound' of years ago that this has been one of my all time favorite museums. We found the museum easily.  I was expecting it to be in a ramshackle old part of downtown Detroit.  Wrong.

It was very well maintained and in a busy area on Grand Blvd.
The parking lot is small but it fools you.  10 million visitors have come through the doors since the museum opened in 1985.  The museum is really two homes that were used as Berry Gordy, Jr's. home, recording studio and the early Motown offices.

Unfortunately, no pictures or video cameras are allowed so a lot of these are from the official website and elsewhere.  The $8 price was well worth it.  The first thing I noticed was how nice the you people were who conducted the tours and ran the ticket counter and gift shop.  They were polite, poised and immediately gave you a good impression.

We went first to the little movie room and saw a film of the history of Berry Gordy and how it all started.  He came from a hardworking family with 8 children.  His dad owned a construction company and his mom sold life insurance.  Every child was expected to work in high school.  Berry Gordy worked and also boxed.  He was a professional boxer before he got drafted in the Korean War.
After the war, he returned with his wife and three children and worked for a time at Ford Motor Company.  He was writing songs and found enough success to where he thought he do it for a living.  In the late 50's he wrote 'Lonely Teardrops' that became one of Jackie Wilson's greatest hits.

He borrowed $800 from the family co-op (bank) and had to pay it back at 6% interest.  I was very impressed with how influential his family was.  It seemed like they were a very strong family, hard working with strong character that they instilled in their children.  That was in 1959 when he bought the house that became the focal point and where it all began.
After the short film, we went up to the top floor of the house and wandered through rooms that were turned into galleries.  The pictures and momentos were amazing.    All the pictures and gold records on the walls ~ it was really really something.  It was fun to just read about all the artists and how they were groomed for success.

Motown had a Personal Development group where the artists were taught how to carry themselves and learned the basics of common courtesy and respect and how to talk to royalty and presidents.  They had a dance studio and a choreographer who came up with the signature moves of the Temptations and the 4 Tops and the Supremes.

At the last part of the tour we went to the recording studio that was very basic.  It was converted from the garage and was small.  It had enough room for a piano some drums and a small band they called the Funk Brothers.  These guys were 'hourlies' that got paid $8.50 an hour to play background and accompany the singers.
All the Motown greats recorded in what became known as Studio A:  Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, the 4 Tops, Rare Earth and Gladys Knight and the Pips to name a few.

It was really a great place to see.  Afterwards, a people were taking pictures outside since none were allowed inside.   If you ever have the chance to see it, you'll be glad you did!

Hope you are having a good week and thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles for a trip down memory lane...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Swans 'n Smorz

It was a little windy yesterday but still a very nice day.  We can tell the temperature is going down a few degrees and it seems as if the days are getting a little shorter, too.  The longest day of the summer is already over...

I ran again and it felt pretty good.  I remember why I used to run a lot.  I enjoy it and feel better.  As long as I take it slow and stretch a lot, I should be in good shape.

Then, we each ran a few errands during the late morning.  I did some things online and then went to check to see if my car wax/polishing kit arrived.  Sure enough, it is here so I will have my work cut out for me for the next few days.

It was such a nice afternoon, I spent time out back by the lake.  I am reading James Michener's The Journey:  A Quest for Canadian Gold.   It is a historical novel of the Canadian wilderness around the end of the 19th century.  How about you?  What are you reading?

While reading I saw a couple of swans nearby.  They were really close since the lady a few campsites away was feeding them bread.  It was windy and I saw something I hadn't seen before, the swan was bowing out his wings to catch the wind.
Pretty interesting and beautiful.

While I was enjoying that, Pam was fixing another spectacular meal.  She worked on a recipe for quinoa, and also cooked some squash and baked some fish with bell peppers and spices.
The fish and squash were good and altho the quinoa was very tasty it wasn't one of our favorites.

After dinner, I went outside again and started another campfire.  When I got it going pretty good, Pam arrived with the smorz.  Not sure when the last time was that we had smorz.
We got our extendable prongs and loaded up the marshmallows, held it over the blazing fire and in no time they were ready to pull off in between the chocolate and graham crackers. was delightful!

The wind continued for a time and we finished up with the campfire and went inside.  Pam talked with sister-in-law Sue who called to ask about how she was doing.  They were also concerned about the tornado that touched down and caused a lot of damage and destruction outside of Detroit at a campground.  It was pretty awful but no where near us.

That was about it for us on a Roadrunner Monday...
Thanks for viewing today and thanks also for signing up to Follow us.  We love it when that happens.  And thanks for your comments.  We like that too!

Hope you are having a good week ~

Monday, June 28, 2010

Ops Check on the Radio

It started out as a beautiful day.
We did our regular routine here and went to the 9:15 AM church service in Novi at OakPointe Church.  Then we ran a couple of errands and went back to the Roadrunner to watch some tennis or golf.

And then the clouds rolled in and we kept getting interrupted to see tornado and heavy thunderstorm warnings.  There sure seem to be a lot of those here lately which I understand is a little unusual for this part of the country.

We watched the weather move its way in our direction.  I checked out the new NOAA weather radio and cranked it up.  Sure enough it said we had 17 minutes until the 'conditions that may produce a tornado' would be right on top of us.

We moved quickly and got our important documents, wallets, radio and headed for the nearest cinderblock bathhouse and restroom.  We pulled up right next to our neighbors Jim and Alice who arrived a couple of minutes before we did.

We headed for the men's restroom since the ladies restroom was already full of people.
We had 11 minutes until it was supposed to pass nearby us.  We talked and stayed away from the windows and about that time a guy flushed the toilet and came out of the stall and said, 'for a minute, I thought I was in the wrong restroom'.

Oops!  Note to self ~ announce your arrival when you gather in the restrooms to wait out a tornado warning!

It was anti-climatic.  We did not see any high winds or dark funnel clouds.  It was rainy and cloudy but that was it.  Which is fine with us.  The good thing is that we feel as if we are learning how to be safer and what to do in those kind of emergencies.

We got back to the Roadrunner, opened it up a bit and the rain drizzled on and off most of the rest of the afternoon.

Pam was at her best cooking up 'chicken schnitzel'.
Pam wanted me to mention how she has increased her counter space a bit.  She removes both corian countertop pieces from the top of the 3 burners and leans them up against the wall out of the way until the kitchen is cleaned up.
What she has started doing is placing one of those pieces diagonally across the sink to increase her usuable countertop space.
She could use the corian pieces that fit over the sink but she decided long ago she didn't want to take them down and find a place to put them every night.  So instead she does this.

That is it for this edition of the Roadrunner Chronicles.  Hope you have a great week!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

When the Tornado Siren Goes Off

First, welcome to new Followers:
B.W. and Carol
Dawn and Denise
Thanks so much for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

We didn't realize that Michigan gets tornados.  While we were in Tennessee over Memorial Day Weekend our campground neighbors called to tell us there had been high winds and the electricity had gone out for about 14 hours.  That same storm was in fact a tornado that touched down in a town not far from here.

In the last couple of weeks, we heard the siren go off in the campground and didn't really know what to do.   One neighbor who is a seasonal resident here, said not to worry, just button down everything and put up the awnings.

Another neighbor said when things get really windy (up to 50 mph and beyond), they go to the laundry room/ bathroom which is one of the few cinderblock buildings in the campground.

Wednesday night it looked dark and foreboding and the weatherman was calling for bad weather.  We kept the TV on the local weather channel and watched the radar as the storm moved along south of us by about 10 miles.  I looked at about 10:00 PM and our neighbors had vacated their RV again.  I double checked what county we were in and then watched the news and felt comfortable? staying put.

But it made us talk and consider what we should be doing in situations like this.  We need a plan.

Yesterday, I came across the best plan I have seen on a fellow RVers blog.  Odel and Laurie give  excellent, step by step instructions in the Semi-True Tales of Our Life on the Road.

We have taken many of their suggestions including getting an NOAA Weather Radio.   I did some research on the internet and decided on an Eton FR360.  I wanted one that had a hand crank, could also work on batteries and one that could also be solar charged.
This little guy has a lot of other features including:  USB cell phone charger, flashlight, flashing beacon, alarm clock aux input and input headphone jack.

It took a bit of doing, but we found it at Bass Pro Shops.  There is one about 30 minutes from here and we decided to see if they had one in stock.  Sure enough they did and $49.95 later, it was ours.  Now, in addition to this and following Odel and Laurie's guidelines, we have greater confidence that we can get the word and be safer in times of bad weather.

Yesterday was also pancake day at our house.
We usually have that on Saturdays.  Later, after dinner last night, we enjoyed a campfire outside.  A lot was going on to see because it was a beautiful evening.
The campfire
the neighbors and their grandkids

and just an overall wonderful evening.
I thought I snapped a picture of the folks in the boat fishing but I guess I didn't.  Then there were the folks walking along the shore from the swimming area that came by our campsite.  We had more than the usual going on.

Later we saw some of the College World Series and that was it for us on a nice Saturday.  Thanks for viewing the Roadrunner Chronicles.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Mouse Wars Update

I took an early morning photo of the sun coming up ~

Then onto our menacing mice.
Our 'mouse' has turned into two mice so far.  We tried the sticky plastic traps with a juicy glob of peanut butter in the middle and all we got was a few mouse feet marks.  That didn't work too well.

Our other mainline of defense was old fashioned Victor mouse traps.  Pam said she thought she heard one snap the other night.  We didn't find it until the next morning when things were getting a little smelly in the basement.

Sure enough!  One mouse met his doom in a classic mistake.  It was swift and sure.  He never knew what hit him!  I would put a couple of pictures of the critter here but thought that would be a little much and in poor taste so to speak.  But trust me, we got the first one.

Then yesterday morning I checked underneath the sink in the basement over by the black and grey tank lines and there was victim number two.  Glad we are gaining on them.  I am not sure but I think we have one of those little guys still running around.  We will do more checking traps later today.

Yesterday I went for another run and toned it done a little bit.  Last time I was running I was feeling it in my left calf.  I have chronic muscle pulls and have to stretch a lot even when I am not running.  So after a two day layoff I took it slow and did more stretching during the run and it went fine.

While I was doing that, Pam went for a walk.  She is about 90% there.  She did well on a couple of long but fun days.  On Thursday (after going to Grand Rapids on Wednesday), we went over to Petrolia to see Bill and Marg.  We had a good visit and dinner with them in Sarnia.  It is a 2 hour plus ride each way.

Later yesterday, Pam did the laundry while I washed both cars and we watched some Wimbleton tennis.  And last night we stayed up to watched some baseball and saw Edwin Jackson of the Arizona Diamondback throw a no-hitter against the Tampa Bay Marlins in a 1-0 win.
He started the game with a lot of walks and ended up getting it done with 149 pitches.  We got to see the last 3 innings which were nail biters.

I took a couple of evening photos and called it a night.
Hope you all have having a great summer.  Thanks for viewing the Roadrunner Chronicles today!

Friday, June 25, 2010

With John and Judy in Grand Rapids

During our time in the Detroit area, we met John and Judy.  They are from Michigan and graciously invited us to join them on a tour of Grand Rapids.  We had a thoroughly good time and were able to see two of the cities main attractions:  Meijer Gardens and the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum.

After our time at the Meijer Gardens, we went into Grand Rapids for lunch.  We stopped at a nice little place called the 'Electric Cheetah'.

It was a crowded, popular place for lunch and a fun place to eat.

Next we went over to the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids.  It was an impressive place.
Before we went inside we took a look at the fountain and walked down to the area where President Ford is buried.  We took a picture with our friends Judy and John.

Inside, we saw a short film clip of Ford's life and presidency, then walked upstairs to the second floor and wandered through all the galleries.  It was a good mix of pictures, displays and more video clips.
Do you remember that he was the only president in the history of the United States that was not elected? Spiro T. Agnew resigned and Nixon appointed him Vice President.  When Nixon resigned, Ford became president.

It was a fun day with our gracious hosts.  After we went through the museum, John and Judy gave us a windshield tour of the city and then drove us back to Meijer Gardens.  Then we drove the 2 1/2 hours back to our campground in New Hudson.

There is a lot to see in Grand Rapids and we were glad we were able to see it with John and Judy.

That is all for this edition of the Roadrunner Chronicles!  Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

With John and Judy at Meijer Gardens

Yesterday we went to Grand Rapids to take a tour of Meijer Gardens and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum.  Today I'll just show some pictures of the Meijer Gardens.

We went there at the invitation of friends John and Judy.  We met them a month ago when they were here in Haas Lake Park RV campground.  Both grew up near Grand Rapids and recently sold their home there (and are on their way to becoming full-timers).
We met at Meijer Gardens and spent the day with them.  They are such nice people!  We had a great time!

Meijer Gardens is named after its largest benefactor and local billionaire grocer Frederik Meijer.  He has a chain of regional stores that have done exceptionally well.  In 1995 the Gardens opened on the 132 acres of land that was donated by Meijer.  It is now the 2nd largest tourist attraction in Michigan.

We started out with a brief introduction with a volunteer docent.
 We first saw the Perennial and Bulb Garden which is housed in the big glass building.
Throughout the grounds, the works of interior designer, artist and glass sculptor Dale Chihuly were on display.  His creations on loan to Meijer Gardens.
Some of these reminded us of colored Hershey kisses.

Here is a sculpture made of polyvitro, which is a polymer plastic that is lighter than glass.  Chihuly developed it to create very large pieces which are blown and shaped in a similar procedure to blown glass.
In another part of the park, the "American Horse" is a sculpture by Nina Akamu who is American.  It is 24 feet high and a reproduction of a Leonardo Da Vinci statute.  Another copy was made for display in Milan, Italy.
The place is run and operated by a cadre of professionals and volunteers.  A few of the sculptures are more traditional including the "Mad Mom" and a seated Frederik and Lena Meijer.
A few of the other sculptors are a bit different with the "Red Reeds", a wood horse and the stainless steel tree.
All in all, if was a very fascinating time.  I normally am not that much interested in horticulture, arboreums and such, but it was a great time.
The Chihuly displays were amazing and we could have picked up a nice small one for only $6500.
If you are ever in the area and can stop by to see the Meijer Gardens I highly recommend it!

That is about all I want to show for today, tomorrow I'll put have some more on the rest of our great time with John and Judy in Grand Rapids.

Thanks for following on the Roadrunner Chronicles!