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!

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!