Summing it Up...

Now, that I'm way on the wrong side of sixty, I feel that being true to self is important. "I yam, what I yam." Kindness and smiles are to be given away. Women are strong. Men are more vulnerable than we believe. Husbands may come and go...but one thing I know for sure is that I will NEVAH live without a corgi or coffee in my life if I can prevent it. Come piles of dog fur or hot water!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Fresh Strawberries in December!

Today we met up with our Winnebago Club pals in Plant City, Florida. Plant City produces over three-quarters of the nation's midwinter strawberries and is world famous for its Strawberry Festival, held each winter. The shortcake at the Parksdale Farm Market is a real treat. The market is full of produce, plants, and other summery stuff, and jammed with people all winter long. They have loads of picnic tables to sit and eat their strawberry goodies, and a strawberry throne with crowns, wands, and other queenly accessories, used as props, for photo ops on your own.
Last night we met up with the Florida kids, and grandsons at Capogna's Dugout Restaurant, 1653 Gulf-to-Bay Blvd, Clearwater for salad and pizza. The walls are covered with sports memorabilia, and could be a mini baseball hall of fame. Al, the owner before he died, now his kids run it, was a very strong supporter of local sports. There's a wall honoring the Clearwater Tornadoes, football and baseball teams. David played as #64 in high school football. The Dugout was always a stop when(my kids and I) visited Florida from the late 70's through the mid-90's. Josh, I was sure thinking of you while we were there. Afterwards, we went to Largo City Park where they have a terrific playground, much loved if the number of parents and kids were any way to judge its popularity. The Christmas lights throughout the park lit as we walked the curvy paths around the grassy areas. Very pretty.
We, obviously, have strayed from our Weight Watcher program while down here, but we sure have enjoyed ourselves, and time has flown.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Jim, catching up with old friends.

Jim has visited several old friends today, more tomorrow, then we'll meet up with folks who winter in Florida from the WIT-group in Plant City on Sunday for strawberries. (They are famous for shortcake this time of year, and we've listened to them talk about it for years.) Jim and son David went to see National Treasure tonight, the hottest movie in America right now. We have a box of oranges, lemons, grapefruit and an avocado the size of a small football, given to us by folks Jim has known for years, they have their own grove, numerous food plants and trees.
Our nephew-in-law, John, who lives here in Largo, lost his father early this morning. John, you have our deepest sympathy.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Family visits, Frenchy's and laundry....

Today Jim had a new alternator put into the Tracker, our tow car and I visited with Mom, and family in Largo. The sun felt good to sit in, and we were enjoying it.
Jim had a surprise up his sleeve when we left Largo...silly me thought we were going to Orange Blossom (now called Citrus Country, same place, same product, same crowds). But...we were headed for the beach and Frenchy's for fresh grouper and steamed veggies. The place was packed, we went to the original joint, not on the beach, there are three in that area my brother Mike told Jim. We sat in the bar, drank our h2o with lemon, and enjoyed the atmosphere. The servers are a no nonsense bunch, they're busy, time is money, and you better know what you want! It was easy, just say grouper. Then....we went to Orange Blossom, yah yeah, the name changed, but it's Orange Blossom to us for our sample of tangerine juice, watched the 12 minute video about the journey an orange makes to the consumer, and played tourist. We completed a week's worth of laundry after 9p.m., so are glad to call it a day. We're hoping to be able to use the pool at least once before we leave on the first, just to say we swam outside in December!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Playing Tourist today...

It was cooler today in Florida, and we headed south, across the Sunshine Skyway, into Bradenton, where Jim lived for a time, and his son David was born there. He was amazed by the many changes there, and recognized little. Then on to Anna Maria, where my family and I visited in 1965, our first trip to Florida. Not many people were on the beach. There were more sandpipers, pelicans diving for dinner, and seagulls than people. We stopped briefly then went on siteseeing. We stopped at the Sand Bar, right on the beach and had grilled grouper, and an amazing salad with a strawberry yogurt vinegrete, topped with mango chunks. While we enjoyed our meal, we could see 3 dolphin (porpoises, Jim called them) swim around, then dive down. Neat! We stopped along a causeway beachy area to walk the dogs, and they had a ball. Addie went to the water, got her feet wet, and approached a very calm white egret who slowly moved away. Other dogs came and went, and Jake only had eyes for the dogs, rather than the group of 30+ seagulls at the waters edge. They sniffed things that they don't find in landlocked Indiana, that's for sure. I found a perfect small conch shell, but something was still living in it, so back to the water it went.
Jim got to go down memory lane, revisiting areas he hadn't been to in decades. I got my feet in sand, and smelled gulf waters again. Cool day.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Tis' Christmas, even in Florida.

12/19: I finally had my first colonoscopy today (Merry Christmas April and Mom) and afterwards we started on our southern trip late, after 6pm. We found a Culver's, much to our delight, in Indy, and relished eating a butterburger again! We slept at the Camping World, south of Indy, which used to be Stout's, and "plugged in" for free for the night. (RV'ers will understand the significance of this!)
12/20: This morning, we shopped at Camping World, and almost successfully, used up our 100 bonus dollars from Jim's credit card. The snow pile on our roof had several "slush slides" as we went south on I-65 towards Louisville. We saw a tractor trailer hauling 3 Humvees, all in camaflogue, one with a machine gun turret in the center, and warning signs in Iraqi and English. I guess we know where that load will end up eventually. Unfortunately, we experienced a bumper to bumper rush hour gridlock in Nashville; people were being careless in the misty rain. We saw a bumper sticker that said, "What would Scooby Do?" Finally out of that mess, we pulled into a Cracker Barrel lot in Manchester, Tennessee, about 40 miles north of Chattanooga. This particular Cracker Barrel was the second store site to open in 1969.
12/21: We have Alabama's last tour CD ('03-'04) cranked up as we go through the misty mountains around Monteagle. Fireworks, rib joints and see Ruby Falls/Rock City signs mar the natural beauty of this area. Atlanta was a real bear. It took us hours to get through. Jim says no more traveling this close to major holidays! Georgia pines, peach groves, and cotton fields whizzed by as we finally, after a very long day, got to go the speed limit! Traffic was heavy all day and night. We re-grouped, and had supper at a Sonny's, our favorite BBQ place in the South, in Tifton, Georgia, then drove down to Lake City, Florida, later in the evening than we normally drive. We found another Cracker Barrel to park overnight, with palm trees, live oaks draped in spanish moss, and nice cushy grass for the dog paws. Everyone was happy to stop for the day! We always ask the manager for permission to park in their lot, no matter where we stay. So far, it's always been a "sure thing, go ahead y'all!"
12/22: People seem to decorate their cars for the holidays. We saw a reindeer yard ornament attached to the front of a SUV, sporting a blinking, red nose. A blue VW had reindeer antlers; the first of many cars with the same idea. Wreaths, window clings on the windows, semi's with red bows. Merry Christmas on the road.
12/23: We're settled into the RV park, and have enjoyed walking the dogs looking at all the lights in the palm trees, and on the parked rigs. We've seen family several times, luckily, they live about 2 blocks apart, making it very handy!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas came early!

First of all, these pictures are of lil' Emmy's first Christmas experience. Pretty sweet, huh?
And the news: The local Chamber of Commerce office called today to tell me that (I) won first prize in their Snowflake Jubilee, worth $295 dollars of gift certificates from 14 merchants in North Manchester. When I dropped off my 5 receipts from local stores as an entry; I told the gal that I never win anything. She said, those are the people that always win!! Wowsers!! Tomorrow I go claim my prize, and will have a photo taken for the town's newspaper.
What fun, and who knew that shopping locally would end up with so many perks??

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The weatherman was right......

The dogs wanted out around 4:20 a.m., but once I opened the back door, Addie changed her mind. Jake, who loves snow, tore out and started making tunnels. Addie, a much shorter legged corgi, doesn't like getting buried in snow before daybreak.It's pretty, I will say that, but oh my, there's 6 to 8 inches out there. We're supposed to be packing up the motor-home today and tomorrow to leave Thursday for Florida.....the sunshine state. It's 80 degrees in the Clearwater/Largo area, where our family is, and our reserved spot in an RV park. We have friends in Indy who planned on leaving today for the same area in Florida...bad timing. Oh well, fiddle-dee-dee, snow will enhance the season, and probably make school closures for the holiday a little earlier!
We had our Christmas gathering with Josh Friday night. Turkey, presents, and he brought his Gram's Christmas cookies. He's quite the baker, and treats his fellow employee's at the grocery store with large tins of candies, and an assortment of his baking. They love it, but he gets even more out of it than they do. He totally loves Christmas, and all that goes with it. Well, he does have some childhood trauma concerning Christmas trees. They always fell over, and we ended up literally tying them to window frames with wire and hooks! One year, we got lost on back roads bringing home our freshly cut tree, ended up crossing three county lines, before finding the right road home. By the time we got it decorated, it was past 2a.m., it fell over just as we stepped back to gaze at the beauty of it....Josh had reached his limit by then, and said, "throw the damn thing out," and went to bed. April and I redecorated, and fell on the floor, underneath it, looking at the lights in a daze. Crazy Christmas memories. Lordy, we've got a million of 'em. Somehow, the craziest ones all involved "decorating" the tree. Like I said, childhood trauma!!
Anyway~we leave for Florida in a few days, and hopefully will head home via North Carolina for an April and Emmy fix. We'll have to re-winterize the motor-home, but overall, it's better to drive it down so we can stay on the WW program, by cooking, rather than eating every meal out. No potty breaks needed, and dogs can play ball as we roll down the road. Afternoon Update: The wind finally died down, and our entire back yard is up to my knees. We went out to make paths (tunnels, really) for the corgi dogs. Addie must be a Florida dog at heart, but ol' Jake romped, sat in and dug under the white stuff with his nose.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Jim's emerging talents.

Jim made my Christmas gifts this year. He took a basket class at our local library, and made this super shopper basket, quite a feat for his first attempt at basketry. He also beaded the brightly lit Christmas tree (from a kit our Winnebago group we belong to sold.) He loves puzzles, and is somewhat a perfectionist, so this kind of stuff is right up his alley. The boy likes a challenge.
He's proud of his new found crafty side, and likes doing them enough to give it another go in January at the next library class. What a good Santa, huh?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Deep Breathing and Chatty Omelets

Well, Jim and I attended the information class about an exercise regime our local chiropractor was sponsoring. It's done with deep breathing and stretching; making Tai Chi-like movements. We did it at the office last night,and got up early to do it first thing this morning. The dogs kept pacing around us, wondering what all the inhales/exhales were all about. It stimulates your brain, organs and lymph node system. The "jangle" looks as if you're having a spasm, and praising the Lord, all at the same time.
We met the lady from the pool I wrote about earlier, (who, at 61, is going to the Learn More Center because she never had the chance to get any type of education, growing up in the coal mine area of Kentucky,) along with her husband, and friends of theirs for breakfast in Warsaw this morning. We all had omelets, which came out the size of a large calzone. We began the meal, all as strangers, but the conversation never lagged, and at times there were three or four going on all at the same time. All those folks were natives of Kentucky, and by the sounds of it, those two women can really cook. They gave me tips on "good fried chicken," and how biscuits can be ugly but still taste good. They both admitted to making a fantastic sausage gravy. I was thinking up names for the diner they dreamed about opening in their younger years. Kentucky Tucker, Good Grub, Down Home Eats. Anyway, after hugs and handshakes, we hit Wally world, trying to finish up Christmas. We brought up the outside Christmas decorations from the basement now that it's nearly December. We'll be in Florida over Christmas to see the Florida kids/grandboys, and part of my family. It's been in the 20's today, very windy, and they say, by Saturday, our world will be a white one. Being in warmer weather for the holidays sounds pretty inviting and should be a nice reprieve from the bone chilling, yukky stuff, Indiana has to offer!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Hydro-aerobics and Turkey Meatballs...

Nights are in the freeze zone now in northern Indiana. With November more than half gone, it's time to face reality...yep, Winter is coming. Poets say that April is the cruelest month, but for me, it's always been November. The wind whips around, blasting cold air, making whirling dervishes out of the fallen leaves. If you have any achy area on your body, it magnifies, in November. Numerous houses(in town) have those blow up Christmas thingies in their yards now...just wish they had discarded those Halloween pumpkins still on the porch steps first. Sigh...Thanksgiving is cool, but knowing that Winter is out there...lurking....waiting to freeze fingers and feet, and raise havoc with the roads...well, it's just, dare I say it... "poopy!"
Jim and I joined the town's Pool/Fitness center today. We did the hydro-aerobics class and stayed for the lap swim afterwards. We've been married over 10 years and have never seen each other in a swimsuit, or gone swimming together! We enjoyed the class a lot, and the "playtime" afterwards. We'll go three times a week. I wouldn't call it aerobics necessarily, maybe water resistance training is a more accurate term. Jim is a terrific swimmer, and hopes to utilize the fitness center in the basement there, down the road.
November also makes one think of things to be thankful for. Today, we met a lady, probably in her 60's, who never had the opportunity to receive an education. Her father was a coal miner, and her mother died when she was 11 months old. Her older sister raised her, and no one, ever, thought to take her to school. In the last year, she has lost 160 pounds and began taking classes at the Learn More Center in town. Kudos to such a brave lady! She is as nice as can be; just wasn't blessed with the advantages that most of us take for granted. We met her husband, and her dogs, and thoroughly enjoyed our time with her. Education...being able to spell....these are the areas she has the most trouble with, she said. Next time I see a bumper sticker that says, "If you can read this, thank a teacher!" I will think of the lady we met today, and feel humbled somewhat.

Now~for the turkey meatballs. On the WW site, I found a recipe for those appetizer-like meatballs people like to eat at holiday gatherings. Here's the recipe....we had them for supper tonight, and they were a hit!

1bag of (Fit & Active) frozen turkey meatballs, from Aldi's
1 can of jellied cranberry sauce
1 bottle of Heinz Chili sauce.
I mixed up the sauces and poured them over the meatballs in a crockpot. You can heat them for 4 hrs. on high, or 6-8 hrs. on low.
(I've never had these before and the flavor is unique. If you are a WW point counter, each meatball = 1 pt.)

Friday, November 09, 2007

Fred Claus and Applebee's~~

Friday night, date the old song goes. We took Josh to Huntington tonight to see Fred Claus, on its first night out. He's been waiting since May for this one. It was a pretty darn good movie; your typical Christmas movie, but with some new twists. We went to a jammed Applebee's for supper, as did the rest of the population, it seemed; the foyer was jammed with folks, and still jammed when we walked out after our meal. T'was beginning to "feel" a little Christmasy out as temps were down in the 30's. Josh will be going to his Dad's for T-day, so, who knows, Jim and I may have turkey and trimmings in our jammies, and watch movies.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Fall perfection in Chapel Hill~~

Today is the last day in Chapel Hill before heading back to possible snow and colder temps than normal in Indiana. Another blue sky, cool day, with autumn colors, people in sweaters, enjoying voting day. I ran over to a close by plaza to weigh in real quick at Weight Watchers, then joined April, Emmy and Keith to eat alfresco at the Whole Foods(an organic grocery store that has a hot and cold bar with tasty, organic items that are delish!) It's always packed, and the selection is just awesome. Emmy enjoyed the warm air, and loves to people watch. We went to Border's afterwards where she experienced the magazine rack(shiny paper, what fun!) and tasted her first bite of a warm white chocolate macadamia nut cookie....let us just say, she is a future book store/coffee house kind of girl!
They have some new transit buses here that are so odd looking...they look like two bus bodies connected with a slinky, making them very, very long. I could so easily relocate here, everything is here, folks are friendly and people really "like" living here.
Addie sat in the car while I packed up a few things, getting ready for our early morning trip back north. She was a little hard to get back out again, and seemed to be ready to roll. She has throughly enjoyed running in the pine needles and fallen leaves in the kids' woods behind and beside their Indiana farmhouse style home.
Emmy is getting a third tooth, on top this time, and has crawled forward, and signed more all while I've been here. She's always doing something new, and seems to have had a spurt of development all at once. Keith and April are wonderful parents, and Emmy is a very lucky little gal, living in Chapel Hill. We were wondering yesterday if she will develop the local accent, eventho her parents don't speak "south"....most likely she will if her teachers do. April and Keith both voted today, did you?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Cardmaking and Ming Garden dinner...

Today was a perfect fall day in Chapel Hill, with crisp air and blue skies. Five nurses from one of the oncology clinics April works in came to her house today for a card-making class. We made 40 Christmas cards, using various printed cardstocks, stamps,and embellishments, which turned out to be a fun filled day, four hours long. April's hobby turned her into a demonstrator for Stampin' Up. It's a very creative outlet for folks, who like to make cards, stamp, watercolor,make crafts and scrapbook. The kits were pre-cut, and everything we needed with instructions, were all in a bag. She served us lunch and made delicious pumpkin muffins.(These are made the weight watcher way, using a spice cake mix, and a can of pumpkin, and a little water. So moist, so tasty, and only 2 points.....ok, there was cream cheese frosting, but we worked that off, making the cards!) The Website for Stamping Up is Tonight, we went to the neighborhood plaza and ate at Ming Garden which was a delish asian place. We had steamed veggie dumplings, green beans which had been cooked on a grill, yummy, and pad thai with chicken. We shared the meal, and still had some to bring home. Emmy was charming, and enchanted the restaurant patrons....just like her momma used to do as a cute little 9 month old.
Jim met the Winnebago-Itasca group at the Quaker Steak and Lube, in Portage, Indiana today for the November luncheon. Forty three members of the RV group were there to enjoy the "garage setting". Corvettes were up on the lift, motorcycles, and other vehicles were "wall art" in the realistic oil lube place that is really a steak/wings/sandwich joint with lots of atmosphere. Jake, our male corgi, went along for the ride as it was so far from home; only 19 miles from the Illinois state line.
Jim had a good visit with everyone, enjoyed his day, and we'll get together again on December 8th, for the last gathering for the year. The RV group winterizes their rigs by then, and the snow birds head south for the winter. Our season of camping with them will begin again in April '08.
Well, time for bed in North Carolina.....don't forget to "fall back" your clocks tonight!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Girl's Road-trip, and Onstar...

Addie, our female corgi, and I left town at 10a.m., heading towards North Carolina to see my two favorite girls, April and lil' Emmy. The trees are full of color, but I was surprised how many bare trees there were going through Ohio. Around Chillicothe, the flat terrain of Ohio began getting hilly and rocky, which reminded me of Kentucky. The sky was blue the whole way, and looking up, I just happened to time it so to catch sight of a brown hawk on an updraft, and was able to see his downy underside that looked so soft and plush. What a nice thing to see, on the fly! The tree covered "hills" looked like they were covered with a muted tapestry; really pretty. The Ohio River was sparkling as we crossed it several times this afternoon. There was a loaded barge floating west as we crossed in Charleston, West Virginia, where we stopped for the night, at a dog friendly Red Roof.
Onstar...what a wonderful thing; which we got in our '07 Malibu, when we purchased it this past April. There are 3 push buttons: a phone, 911, and Onstar itself, which helps you if you get locked out of your car, locates a stolen car, and can help contact police and be a friendly voice if you have trouble of any kind on the road. It's a traveling woman's best friend. Today, I had the big three working for me. Jim, on the car's no hands phone, Onstar, and Helga on the GPS. (You just talk up to the rear view mirror, and the radio quiets when a call comes in.) It takes a village, believe me, to get me somewhere, as I'm a small town gal who gets lost on major highways!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Would YOU take candy from this woman?

Halloween isn't just for kids y'know...
I'm too old to "go" anymore, but I freak it up a little to answer the door. One little girl said she thought I looked like this all the time....hmmmm...did she recognize the Joan Crawford eyebrows?! The corgi kids had a ball, barking their heads off everytime the door chimes went off, and were exhausted when the candy ran out and hour and half later.

Monday, October 29, 2007

October's Swan Song....

Sheesh, how can my favorite month of the year be nearly over? Whaaa-happened?
The motorhome has been put to beddy-bye for the winter, which is always a sad time for us. Depression should hit at any time. I think Jim actually feels withdrawl pains! Actually, those could be hunger pangs because we both began Weight Watcher's last Tuesday, and our first weigh in after being on the plan, is tomorrow night! The point system is great, and he's feeling satisfied. I'm cooking like crazy, and really enjoying it. A new creative juice...and researching low-fat recipes, has become my midnight, at brain never clicks off. I keep telling him that we're eating too much, we can't get this much and it be legal, that we've obviously read the plan wrong. We'll see.
Addie and I are going on a "girl's road trip" to North Carolina to see daughter April, and my grandbaby Emmy, who will be 9 months old. April says she's a barrel of fun now, and a corker. Can't wait. Helga, the GPS wench, will be telling me which way to turn all along the way down and back. She's reliable, and not too moody, but is somewhat repetitive, when she says "recalculating" over and over again. (She obviously does NOT have a 56-year old bladder to contend with!)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Autumn Getaway~Wandering Indiana

Getaway you say, from what....we just got home from Colorado!! Oh well, we're trying to get in a last hurrah before winterizing the Journey. Some would call it "denial" I think. So~~on Friday October 12th, we headed down to southern Indiana to join up with Winnebago-Itasca Club pals, Mike and Lori, at Shakamak State Park near Jasonville, 20 miles SE of Terre Haute. We saw three, huge, platter-sized wild turkeys run across the road as we explored the park. We had a perfect fall weekend to enjoy the foliage color, and the park was packed. We hosted supper & campfire at our site that night, and Saturday we headed to Mansfield, in Parke County, on the opening day of the Covered Bridge Festival. Bumper to bumper traffic on the roads, and on the grounds of the old Mansfield Mill, where the covered bridge crosses the Wabash. There were more dogs in baby carriages that day than babies. Endless food courts were described later that day as a caloric cavalcade. Flea market booths held everything imaginable to sell. Parke County is the covered bridge capital of the world, and has 31 covered bridges in this one county. Very pretty area, hilly, lots of autumn color, rivers and friendly people. It took us nearly two hours to get back to the campground, where Mike cooked a fantastic stew-goulash concoction in a cast iron dutch oven over the fire. It was 9pm by the time we ate supper and sat around the fire...all nodding off in our chairs. We had four dogs between us, so lots of time was spent walking all the fur-kids! Lori headed to Rockville, where the Winnebago group was having a state rally, and we headed to the southwestern tip of Indiana, to experience New Harmony.

New Harmony, 25 miles northwest of quite a trek from North Manchester, like 6 hours. Posey County, in the most southwestern corner of Indiana, is where the Ohio and Wabash rivers cross into Illinois and Kentucky. Such an interesting, historic town, of less than 1000 residents. Many of the Harmonist buildings still stand and have been restored. A Utopian experiment, first tried by George Rapp, and his Rappites, settled there to escape religious oppression, coming from Wuttenberg, Germany in the early 1800's. The celibate, Harmonist group lived simply, working the land, creating the beginning of a communal settlement. In 1824, Robert Owen, a Scot, bought them out. He believed in a new moral world based on reason. Education and Science, the foundation of this. The first free public library, kindergarten, and equal education for both boys and girls, began in New Harmony. The oldest library, housed in the Workingman's Institute, is still open today. The town has a charm that reminded us so much of Old Salem Village, in Winston-Salem, N.C; and Williamsburg, Virginia. We started out in the Visitor's Center, watching a 10-minute movie that gave a good overview of the town's early history. We rented a golf cart for 2 hours, so we could zoom all over town to see the gardens, buildings, roofless church, and labyrinth. Such interesting history keeps this town alive, and is sponsored by the Southern Indiana Universities,plus state and national foundations. The low tree-canopied streets were lovely, but deadly to a motorhomes' roof! The faded brick buildings and walled courtyards which held fantastic old world themed gardens were something to see. Birds, squirrels, and house cats were so laid back...a squirrel was directly above my head in a ginkgo tree, and we were having serious eye contact. Calico cats were playing with black dragonflies in the middle of the street or lounging on wide windowsills inside the historic homes. The entire town had this laid back feeling, and the townsfolk get around in golf carts and bicycles, which kind of makes sense when only several hundred live inside the perimeter of the town. Such a strange sight though, to see golf carts pulled over on streets, not parked, just pulled over. We stopped at the famous Red Geranium Restaurant our first night in town, before going out to the state park. Everything on the menu is ala'carte, but very elegant, refined, and beautiful. It's the kind of place you go....once! The state park is probably the most beautiful we've ever been to. White tail deer, and an opossum welcomed us into the park as it was dark, and the gates were closed for the night. A ranger stopped by to check us in, and Jim held his ear for a half hour sharing our experiences of camp hosting in Illinois the past two summers. We met the former coroner of Posey county who was the current camp host, and his wife is a psychologist. Such nice, friendly folks in southern Indiana.
On Monday the 15th, we met Eli and Lori, in their mid-twenties, who opened a new restaurant, eight days ago, in downtown New Harmony, called The White House. Charming hollyhock and old fashioned flowers line the walk and side patio. They have a winner, using incredible ingredients to create very simple, exquisite gourmet food. They were fun to talk with, and enthusiastic about their new endeavor. We wish them luck. The town's historic society takes care of the outside of the building they rent, so that helps keep their overhead low. They plan on having the county's FFA chapter (Future Farmer's of America) grow a garden in the huge side yard next spring/summer, which will provide a class project for the group, and fresh vegetables for the White House use. A win-win situation. Following a day of exploration in the historic area we headed to Terre Haute, and slept in a Cracker Barrel lot right by the exit ramp on I-70 to 41. Very noisy!
We arrived in Rockville, on the other side of Parke County, where the Covered Bridge Festival is still going on for another week, to meet up with the Winnebago-Itasca group for one night, to see everyone before winter sets in. We're in the county fairgrounds, no frills, and will head home tomorrow, which is a good four hour trip.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Reality Bites..........

New pics of all the grandkids: Issac is losing teeth left and right. Isaiah plays the piano now, and Emmy's hair is up in a did her mommy get it all up there?
We're catching up on cleaning, laundry, getting rid of cobwebs that have been growing since early June. A bit overwhelming, and not much fun. Where is the freedom of the road these days, sigh!?
My Mom comes Friday afternoon for a few days, and will spend my 56th with me. Manchester is having their Fall Fest this weekend, so that should be fun. Doud's Orchard, down the road, is having an antique tractor show and opens their door for cider, caramel apples, and hayrides. It's Autumn in northeastern Indiana!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Getting our kicks on Route 66~

Yesterday was travel day, we finally got out of Kansas, crossed the wide Missouri, and ended up near Litchfield, Illinois, just down the road from Springfield. Rt.66 crosses highways in Litchfield, so we went down it a looks like a narrow frontage road these days, nothing like the "MotherRoad" in its heydey.
Anyway~we spent the night at the Kamper Kompanion Campground, rather than a parking lot, enjoyed hot showers, shampoos and I whipped up a breakfast casserole to bake this morning before we headed out. (Have I mentioned how nice convection ovens are? They don't heat up the joint, and I don't have to give up precious drawer space to a regular oven because the convection oven "lives" inside the microwave!)
We talked with my brother Mike this morning, and decided to head back to Indiana a little early, and forget about going to the Lincoln Library Musuem in Springfield. Thank goodness we decided that because an extra 80,000 people were in Springfield this weekend for the 6th Annual International Route 66 Mother Road Festival & Car Show! Egad, can you imagine trying to find parking for a 32 foot RV, with a car behind it, with 80,000 extra people downtown! Jim used to deliver books to Springfield for the bindery and knows this area well. On the outside of town there is a national treasure, famous on the old Rt.66 road, called Cozy Dog In. Cozy Dog is the home of the one and only Cozy Dog; a hotdog on a stick...yep, corn dogs!
We had a couple, and a cherry pepsi (Mike, I thought of you...) The joint was packed with boomer bikers, out for the festival no doubt, wearing Rt.66 t-shirts, and like us, out for a nostaglia fix. Check out their website: cozy dog
Later~when we hit central Illinois, we stopped near Monticello, IL., at the Monticello Railway Museum,(off Interstate 72,exit 166) where you can ride vintage passenger and freight trains on the former Illinois Central and Illinois Terminal trackage. Trains depart from the Nelsons Crossing depot. The ride, an hour long, took us downtown to the depot there, where folks could get out for 10 minutes or so, before going back in the other direction...from whence we came. Jim and I climbed up the rail ladder in the caboose and sat up in the cupola, sitting up high to see a better view of the tracks than the engineer had. Cool beans!! We had the best seat in the house. Three kids, ranging in age from 15, 10 and 5, joined us up there, and it's a toss up who enjoyed it more. Afterwards, we went through the railroad cars that had been refurbished, and was the musuem part. The mail car was the most interesting for me. It's amazing how they sorted the mail, lightning fast, with 97% accuracy, and then threw the mailbag out the door when passing a depot in towns throughout the countryside in Illinois. We saw berths set up, private compartments, and all sorts of interesting things that the railroad buff would enjoy seeing and reading about. (That would be Jim, as many of you know by now!) Another nice experience. The corgis stayed in the motorhome, with the generator running so the A/C would run....they are a tad spoiled.
The day was going into early evening by the time we left, so we went on to Champaign-Urbana, another of Jim's old stops on his bindery route. We ate supper in a bright red round barn, up a curving flight of stairs... a unique and very unusual building for a Famous Dave's. We saw a photo of the original farm site, with houses quite close to it. Today, it's all shopping plazas surrounding the barn. Progress?
Tonight we're at the Wal-mart in Urbana, there's a nice breeze blowing, so no generator needed to run the a/c. We're finishing up our Sue Henry (Alaska mysteries) paperbacks, and kicking back, following a full day of fun. Jim said we only went 150 miles today...but yesterday it was 375. We'll get back to Manchester sometime tomorrow, and begin the laundry/cleaning/unpacking/back to reality crap.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Still more 2.

You wouldn't believe the McDonald's we saw today in Hays, Kansas. Think stone lodge on the outside; and little log cabin on the prairie on the inside. It was incredible! I had my coffee in an easy chair in front of a gas log fireplace, yes, it was burning! What atmosphere! Blue checked vinyl was on the seat backs, a log cabin style quilt was framed on a log siding wall. Prairie artwork on the walls, iron skillets, a blue-speckled enamelware coffee pot, and a kerosene lamp were on the split log mantle. The fireplace was done in layered stone, with a raised hearth. Mission style stained glass were the light fixtures. Besides all that, they had a kid's clubhouse play area that made you want to be 3 feet tall again! Plus....they had a wall of fame for all the happy meal toys throughout the years. That place is a tourist attraction in itself. If you EVER go through Hays, Kansas, place a big X on the map to remind you to s-t-o-p at the McDonald's there. It's a beauty! The manager told Jim that they had to really fight with the company to sell their vision of how they wanted the store to look, but they won.
Along I-70 there's about a 45 mile stretch of road that has post rocks; fence posts cut from stone, they're very old, and they have a scenic byway dedicated to the area. Very cool to see. We saw them on our last trip out too.
In Abilene, we stopped at the Eisenhower Memorial, Library, Home, Visitor's Center. We were very glad we did, it was a nice experience. C-Span happened to be there today, as they are filming a series about Presidential Libraries. This whole complex is built around the original Eisenhower family boyhood home. The house, in its original spot, is where Ike's mother lived until her death in 1946. The house was dedicated by the 6 Eisenhower boys in 1952, for its current use, everything else is built on about 5-6 acres there. The chapel, where Ike and Mamie are buried, was so calming, and peaceful. The architecture, circa 1959, reminded us so of buildings that we grew up going to. Eisenhower was credited with starting the Interstate System, which includes I-70, that we travel throughout Kansas.
In Salina, we suppered at a Cracker Barrel. Jim, anonymously, paid the bill for a soldier and his parents, and told the waitress to tell the soldier, "Thank You for all you do." They didn't have a clue who we were, and we teared up talking about it. Ft. Riley, home of the 1st Calvary, one of which that soldier was, was just down the highway. The central Kansas scenery stretches wide and far as the eye can see....literally to the ends of the earth. What a sight.
A sign on the side of a barn, somewhere near Alma, Kansas, said:

We're in Topeka tonight, parked in a Cracker Barrel lot. Lots of soft grass for the corgi kids, and a nice walk tonight for us all. Cheap digs, nice restful spot.

9-26-2007 ~~~ Goodbye Colorado!

A new Wal-mart opened while we were in Woodland Park, Colorado. It blends right into the mountain behind it. They spent $160,000 dollars alone for a bronze mule deer with a majestic rack, which marks the entrance to the parking lot. The pine tree landscaping, mountain style architecture with cross beam planks, green metal roofing, rusty stone exterior, all blended in with the Rocky Mountain theme of the town. It is a beautiful building, with old fashioned lighting in the parking lot, rustic fencing lines the perimeter, and even the sign out on the highway is low profile, and green in color. The company went over and above blending into the beauty of Pike's Peak which stands right behind the building. 300 new jobs opened up to a communtity with no industry, so 'twas a good thing all around. Good job Wally world.
Back at the Kansas...we saw combines in the fields working, creating dust clouds as big as a tornado! We saw a herd of 10 or so antelope (with white butts) lying down in a freshly tilled up field, lounging in the soft dirt, now free of corn stubbles. At a rest stop, we parked next to a cattle truck, full of stinky, mooing cows (on their way to a nice green pasture in the sky). The corgis found them interesting and the cows left a scent that remained l-o-n-g after they moved along.
Mama drove the rig about 150 miles through Kansas, until construction cones down the middle of the highway scared the bejebbers outta me, and my over-corrections said it was time to switch to the professional in the family!
We saw fields of sunflowers, acres of them, and wondered how they harvested that type of field....we're thinking with a corn-picker, maybe? We bedded down at a Wal-mart in Hays, Kansas for the night, along with 9 other rigs in the parking lot and several semis. Jim had fun talking outside with other rv'ers until bedtime. A Journey, exactly the same as ours, pulled in right next to us; they were from California. It's a party at Wal-mart, what can I say?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Down to 38 last night!

We have been enjoying these autumn cooled days... we're UP nearly 9000 feet in the mountains, and it's definitely "fall" up here. We've spent the past several days enjoying the mountain views up close and personal. Jim's had a ball "off-roading" in the tracker on trails, I refuse to call them roads, as we climbed up in elevation. Yesterday, we ended up literally on top of the mountain as we toured the gold rush country. The Rockies are incredible this time of year with the colorful Aspen trees, vivid wildflowers, and grasses, all having their last hurrah before winter sets in.

Victor, elevation 10,570 up at the mine, was and currently is the mine center of Colorado. The old mining town, had 500 gold mines at one time. Underground mining stopped in 1961, and today they strip mine for gold. The corporation that owns the mine has made billions of dollars, and the local lady at the visitor's center said there is plenty of gold still in the mines. The gold rush country of Colorado has produced more gold finds than Alaska and California's. The town's architecture is late 1800's, and could be such a wonderful place if money would be fueled into the economy there. The view in any direction, out any window, is incredible. So much history is being wasted, someone needs to start writing for grant money to restore this historical area! (Josh, I picked up some sparkly rocks for you to check out for gold, as we walked at the site of the old mine.)
We looked at little log cabins and were sorely tempted to relocate to this beautiful state. No bugs, no humidity, no need for A/C....what's a little controlled snowfall?
The only negative is how far away we would be from our children, grandchildren and other family members. (sigh).
Today we're catching up on chores, packing up, getting organized, and will have a farewell supper at Jims' mother's home tonight. We head eastward tomorrow morning. We dread going through Kansas again as it's the endless state to cross. We'll get to experience another autumn when we get back to Indiana with its own colors and delights. We won't forget the mountains though....words just can't express the beauty of the area here.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

First Day at Woodland Park...Corgi's Day Out!

We had a delightful day, I must say. We went up mountain! We went to the Chamber of Commerce office, and zoom, we were off to the high plains, and scenic mountain views we've been craving to see. The fall wildflowers, purple asters, thistle going to seed, yellow yucca, anemones, and the yellow and apricot leaves of the aspen just took our breath away, especially when the sun shone through the branches. We were surrounded by the Rockies, and Pike's Peak. Chipmunks, blue birds, and huge black tufted Colorado Blue Jays were everywhere. Even a wild turkey crossed the road, it appeared to be somewhere between 30-40 pounds. The reservoir is 200 feet deep and provides drinking water for Colorado Springs, the beauty of that was really something too. The corgi kids had a ball sniffing in the woods. If we said "Wow" once, we said it a hundred times. Absolute Beauty is out here in these mountains.
Tonight, we had a campfire cook-out supper and invited Jim's Mom and sister to our campground site, which is 3-4 blocks away from where they live. We sat around the fire, the pine wood smelled so good, and toasted marshmallows, drank tea, and talked and talked. What a perfectly nice day, huh?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Kansas~~~almost to Colorado!

As we passed through the central plains of Kansas yesterday we noticed field after field of rusty plumes about three feet high, standing on what appeared to be a corn shock. A chatty waitress in Hays told us that it's called "milo" which the farmers grind up into feed. It's a really good feed she said, and this year they have a bumper crop. She also told us that water had to be piped in to Hays because there's so much pollution from the gas/oil in the fields. (That's why we saw so many oil pumpers everywhere~who knew that Kansas was a source for fossil fuel?) making taxes high if you live in the towns, rather than in the country, she said.
We saw "See Rock City" billboards and thought we were in Tennessee by mistake, but not, there is a Rock City, Kansas. We also saw advertising for the Eisenhower musuem in Abilene. We passed by Bob Dole's and Arlen Specter's hometown, which they share. Two astronauts also grew up in Kansas, and Amelia Earhart, who my mother, as a girl, saw at a train station in Chicago before she disappeared. She still regrets not asking for an autograph that day!
We ended up in Goodland, Kansas overnight at a KOA where we enjoyed hot showers and supper at "home." Cable TV, good internet access~~high livin' on the road.
We woke up to fog and misty rain, 17 miles from the Colorado state line.
I'm reading JoAnna Lund as we travel~her healthy choices CrockPot and Open Road Cookbooks.She had a TV show years ago from her DeWitt, Iowa farm kitchen. She'd ride her bike all over town~~kind of an early "midwestern" version of today's Paula Deen. We should be in Woodland Park, 8700 feet up from Colorado Springs by tonight. We started our oxygen drops today to combat altitude fatique which really hits us once we arrive.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Go West young man..........

We started seeing sunflowers along the interstate, 70 W, in western Illinois; in Missouri too. We ran briefly along Rt. 66 in Illinois, and spent the night in a Flying J parking lot near Warrenton, just west of St. Louis, Sunday night. Flying J's; run by the Utah Mormons, now spread nationwide... are a one-stop place...for sleep, eat, showers (if you want), refuel, and we filled our propane tank this morning as well. Jim calls it the "Wal-mart of the Road."

We stopped at Nostalgia-Ville, USA, in Kingdom City, Mo. This was a fun 50-60's shop, full of Stooges, I love Lucy, Marilyn, James Dean, John Deere, John Wayne, Rt. 66, Pepsi/Coke "stuff" of every kind. Naturally, we found Josh's Christmas gift there, and Rt. 66 postcards to mail out to all the kids/grandkids.

Jim used to deliver for the bindery to numerous colleges in west-central Missouri. The terrain is more hilly and rocky bluffs on the sides of the road are covered with clusters of sunflowers. Did you know that Missouri is the "cave state?"
In Independence today we found a CVS to have all our RX's refilled. A nice lady behind us in line gave us a coupon for a free $25 gift card for CVS. It's a promotion that the store is doing for transfering prescriptions/or bringing in a new one. We were tranfering one from Wal-mart. There are nice people everywhere, aren't they?
Did you know that the American Jazz Museum is in Kansas City, Mo? I was surprised by KC's huge downtown, and modern skyline. As we traveled west we noticed more and more drought. The big rivers, the Mississippi, Missouri, and Kansas, usually wide and deep...all had long and wide sandbars in the middle of them.

Last year, (when it took us 3 days to get through Kansas).. we stopped at Grandma Hoerner's organic food factory, and by gumm we found it again before closing today. Last year we watched as they made applesauce, today the clerk said they had made organic raspberry preserves. The workers were leaving for the day as we pulled up. We got more applesauce, some for Jim's Mom, and sunflower butter. Doesn't that sound healthy? Check out their website for yummy, healthy items.
The wind was fierce all day, making our good mileage plummet, and Jim's arms ache from the fight to stay on the road. Supper was in Manhatten, Kansas, home of Kansas State, and we're parked for the night east of Salina. Jim says 300 more miles before we hit Colorado, as we're crossing the entire width of Kansas. The sunflower is the state flower in Kansas, and they use the logo on everything, including state information highway signs.

Bumpersnicker: Drive like you stole it!
I told Jim we needed this on the back of the Winnebago!

White River Campground, Hamilton County, Indiana.

We enjoyed the three C's this weekend. Hot Cider, Conversation,and a big honkin' Campfire during our Winnebago-Itasca Club outing near Cicero, Indiana, ten miles north of Noblesville. We love this park, and have been here several times with the group. Sites line the White River which is lined with trees, now starting to turn into their autumn colors. Weather was perfect... blue skied,sunny days, and a crisp air, all weekend. Friday night supper was chili and pb&j. Saturday was the all time favorite, pot-luck carry-in. Conner's Prairie was just south of us, so 24 of the RV'ers got the group rate to tour the living museum. We all enjoyed interacting with the interpreters and learned a lot about Indiana during the 1836-1886 time frame. The loom house fascinated us the most. The lady was dying lamb's wool, she had spun, in goldenrod plants pulled from her own garden. She added tin salts to hot water and the yarn transformed to a soft yellow. Alum, copper salts, and iron salts all create different hues of yellows, browns and greens. Indigo is used for blue, and a flower seed (can't remember the darn name of it now) makes red. We stopped at the apple house for hot cider and White Castle for a couple of sliders, he-hee, on the way back to camp. By 12:30 Sunday afternoon, most of the folks had headed home. We headed west, beginning our trip towards Colorado.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

We're at Escapade.

We're experiencing nice, cooler days now that it's September while we spend a few days in Goshen, Amish country USA, in Elkhart County, where half of the nation's RV's are produced. We're here at the Escapee's 37th Escapade. There are seminars on how to drive your big ol'RV, the cleaning/maintaining/hi-teching of your RV, as well as numerous craft classes, travel opportunities, and vendors galore offer their wares that they tell can't live without. Tonight, we had an interesting visit with people our age, just back from a 2 month trip through Canada/the Yukon and Alaska. They said they just pulled over to the side of the road to camp, fish, whatever. Bears got to fish first...then man got his turn, if both were fishing for salmon. She was wearing a little babble filled with gold chips she panned for in Chicken, Alaska. Before we go our separate ways for the rest of the year, now that our stint at White Pines is over, it's fun to do one last outing with Phil and Rose. They'll head west towards Mt. Rushmore, then on to Oregon, following family gatherings in Illinois and Iowa next week. The corgi kids got good brushings today, and we filled a wastebasket with fluff. Addie loves beautyshop day, and even let me do a trim...the end result making her look like a "slick chick" as my Dad used to call my Mom when she dressed up for Tri Chi Club.
On a more serious note, I'm sure we all remember where we were six years ago today. Take a moment to offer up a silent prayer that nothing like that ever happens again in our country, and that we're wiser, and more thankful for our blessings, nationally and personally.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Find your Spot....

A really cool tool to literally "find your spot" based on your answers to a short quiz, helps you find where you belong on the planet.
My answers would lead me to various small towns in North Carolina.

Edenton, Winterville, Mt.Airy, Hickory, Salisbury, Morganton/Hendersonville. Small towns near woods, lakes, offering good jobs...doesn't that sound like heaven?
I wonder where Jim's answers would lead him?
Find your own spot using the link below....

Monday, September 03, 2007

Emster and her Unka Josh

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Tour ....North Manchester, Indiana

Manchester College,
Covered Bridge over the Eel River,
Warvel Park, and a local farm.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Summer winding down at White Pines, Autumn coming in...

It's noticable now... that a shift in seasons has begun. The sumac leaves are a rich burgandy, the sunlight has a different dappled light through the pines, it's dark by 7:45 PM, and we're all sitting a little closer to the campfire. We saw Mr & Mrs Wild Turkey with their string of youngin's, on one of the far sites, before the campground began to fill to capacity this weekend.
Labor Day Weekend, is better known as "the last hurrah for campers." Folks are here to celebrate it with their super-soaker squirt guns, burnt hot dog suppers and kids are everywhere, running in every direction. (Addie won't go big girl potty when people are around!!) Yeah, yeah, the State Park IS for public use, but it's all ours during the week, and it's hard to share it! Rose and Phil finish their last work shift tomorrow night. The corgi pups and I head home Sunday morning, making the 7 1/2 hour trek back to North Manchester. Jim will stay until Tuesday; he wants to leave the campground clean. We've been tearing down our patio area, stowing things away, and packing up a summer full of memories. It's always hard to leave this state park, it is truly a special and unique place that pulls at our heartstrings... but there's a feeling of anticipation, too, as we head back to the stick built house for awhile, to cuss and discuss what we're going to do this fall. I will especially miss the scented pines, and hot coffee and oatmeal at the Lodge on a rainy morning. Both, are such good therapy... that pills can't touch!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Pictures say it all.....

Was sure happy to see everyone this past weekend, and also see Emmy's two new teeth. She's lot of fun, and was the entertainment for us all. Seeing family and spending time together was a real treat before heading back to White Pines to finish out the season in Illinois.
David, Jim's son, flew in from Florida today to spend a long weekend over his 31st birthday with us in the RV. Many happy years to you David. Rose and Phil's kids are all visiting White Pines this week as well. Something in the air I guess. Everyone's catching up with each other, and even the weather is a little cooler! Family....nice to have, lonesome without it, and always... a wonderful blessing.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


The word for today is kindness. Yep, I was reading O magazine again, while getting a haircut/highlight today. That Oprah gal is on the ball, or at least her writers are.

Life is tough, feelings are fragile, and as we age, being kind to one another is key in absolutely every aspect of our lives; whether it be between siblings, spouses, our children, friends or aging parents. My brother Mike and his wife Carolyn live by this rule. It is so apparent in everything they do. My Mom and Jim's Mom do as well. This is going to become my mantra from today on. I am going to be kind, at all cost, and try not to "react" to things, people, events around me. Not exactly go into a bubble, but instead, to think positively, and slow down internally, so the emotion that I would kindness. Tall order, and eventho Jim and I are nearly 56, daggone it, I'll give it a whirl !!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Dog lovers....or just strange ?

The past couple of nights, it's been doggie time around the campfire. Jake, Addie, and Phil & Rose's standard schnauzer, Zoe, have been going to the evening fires, to get "used" to each other in a smaller circle. Jake lounges in his own chair, gazing at the flames. Addie sits on our laps, squirming until she finds a comfortable spot, and then doesn't move, or even blinks her eyes. (no, no, I'm fine, not tense at all, she says.) Zoe, being black, disappears on Phil's lap in the dark, and sometimes starts to snore.

We were singing commercial jingles, old show tunes with a lot of dah-dah-lalas, to replace the words no one could remember, and Phil is great at limericks, and reversed word songs. We were hooting as much as the owl down in Fox Canyon!

The fords in the park still aren't open. The rangers have been busy this week cleaning up all the debris and junk from the flooding. Tables show up in rather strange places. We have campers dotted here and there, ranging from family groups, to teachers off for the summer... to a guy with no car, who spends his day gathering fire wood.

The lodge is famous for red raspberry pie, and they sell them fresh out of the oven when it's dinner theatre day. People lug home their white box of hot pie after the show which is sold during intermission. The woods are full of raspberries, and when the Mexican church group was here several weeks ago, they took bowls into the woods to gather them. Living in Chicago city neighborhoods, finding them must have been a real treat. I've noticed elderberries everywhere in the area, along roads, in the park, and those are ripening, turning purple. Mom always made elderberry pie towards the end of summer which was always so good, and different from any other kind. It was an annual thing to go pickin'.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Flood at White Pines~good for ducks!

Last nights campfire broke up early due to a torrential storm, bringing 5 inches of rain in seven hours or so. Thunder, lightening, thumps and bumps went on all through the night making Addie's heart pitter-pat and her body tremble nonstop. (She's a little tired today!) We woke to some trees and loads of limbs down, picnic tables that moved, and a raging river instead of the two creeks in the park. Rangers were busy on the John Deere's gathering tables up, limbs, and scooping up mud and silt that remained on roads as the water slowly receded. The higher main road going up to the lodge is open~which is good since it's dinner theatre day and tour buses are full to capacity. The back emergency road, is open to where we are, the highest campground, Cedar Ridge. The picnic areas and shelters, all the fords, Sunny Crest Campground, and the group camps are all gated off because of the mud and water. More rain is expected the next two days. Wish we could send it to Indiana and Ohio where its badly needed.
Larry, a guy staying in a tent since the weekend, has been riding out the storms and drying out as best he can during the day. He came to our fire last night and filled us in on Illinois Trivia. Very interesting stuff, and, he too knows all the words to "Put another log on the fire," joining in with Phil and Jim as they sang, making Rose and I plug our ears and groan, "it must be a man thing!"

Friday, July 13, 2007

Get-a-away from Volunteering~

July 11 & 12th were our days off for the week and we had to go to Rockford to get some work on the RV done before the warranty ran out. By noon we were free to hit the road, looking for adventure and ended up going where the Mississippi River runs like a ribbon through the heart of the unglaciated area, linking NW Illinois, SW Wisconsin and NE Iowa. Since the landscape wasn't flattened by ice, it remains hilly and rugged and is one of the most scenic regions of the Midwest. The area is blessed with rocky bluffs, hilly terrain, lush valleys and river life. The puffy clouds float in blue skies which seem to enhance the emerald green of endless rolling cornfields, looking like cursive m's. Traveling down the roads felt like a roller-coaster, shoulder banging turns and all. The farms are picture perfect and look exactly like what a folk-artist would paint on canvas. It's almost a 360 degree vista, as far as the eye can see. Patchwork quilts come to mind with all the hills and dales, each their own color and texture. "God's country" describes this countryside perfectly.

Galena, Illinois: It's like stepping back in time here. The architecture is mid-1800's, brick, painted ladies and gingerbread. Cupolas top may buildings. Flowers are everywhere, in this victorian village of 3500. The old train depot is now the visitor's center; buses park there and folks grab the trolleys to go downtown. Across the street was the Railway Cafe' where I got the bestest cup o' joe while Jim grabbed up brochures at the depot. Main Street was a narrow, angled, tourist filled area, full of victorian shops, that looked very interesting, but we kept going. Lots of history and vintage charm there, but a little close for comfort.

Dubuque, Iowa: The Mississippi River winds its way 2,552 miles from the headwaters in northern Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico in Louisiana. Elegant paddle-wheelers remind us of an era long ago, and tugboats pushing huge barges are important to today's commerce. The barges, we learned, haul the equivalant of 60 semi-trailers, or 1500 tons of grain for export to Asia (other things too). They travel between 8-10 mph and pass through 27 locks and dams as they travel south. Dubuque is a unique and quaint river town.

Picture this: Tugs and barges, rocky bluffs, multi-storied brick buildings from yesteryear's 19th century, silos, church steeples, houses dotting rock faced hills. The smell of freshly baked bread teases your nose as you cross Big Muddy and enter Iowa. A Sunbeam bread factory, right along the river's edge welcomes you into town.

The streets away from the river seem to shoot straight upwards to the bluffs. Mansions with towers, cupolas, widow walks, endless curving front porches edged in gingerbread are now B&B's, seemingly set on rock ledges and hillsides on crooked short streets, all with the vast river view. It's amazing what you can see from up there...the hills, the river, the bluffs, and architecture not seen in many a decade. One bridge leads back to Illinois, and another goes to Wisconsin. This area is called the Tri-State Region.

We spent several hours at the Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. It was full of historical exhibits, live river wildlife, fish and fowl, and boatyards (showing tugs, steamdredges, and barges) along the river. We saw films giving history of the river narrated by Garrison Keillor. 2 otters played in their own swimming hole, enchanting children and us too. We did a drive through tour of Loras College, a private catholic school, and Wartberg Theological Seminary, both castle-like with the rocky limestone buildings giving them a fortress look. Jim served both of their school libraries when driving the Iowa route for the book bindery.

Savanna, Illinois: The high steel trussed bridge (looked just like an erector set bridge to us) but it's one of the most photographed bridges in the nation...arches across the Mississippi River just 3 miles from the Mississippi Palisades State Park where we camped for 2 nights. This bridge crosses into Iowa as well, and into an old fishing village called Subola. Between the bridge, and the causeway that followed, it seemed to be miles as we crossed the wetland (marshy back water area of the river) full of white long-necked egrets and blue herons. Jim felt as if we should see a 'gator, it reminded him so of Florida. We saw 2 wild turkey hens with a row of youngin's back at the campground, a young buck deer flew across the road, and a mama quail with a following of 7 or 8 chicks behind her. At bedtime, after our campfire, and ready for sleep, an owl somewhere in the woods behind us, "hoo-hoo, hoo-hoo-hooed" us goodnight.

Y'all come back now...

Y'all come back now...

Everyone is special, and counts!