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!

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!

Y'all come back now...

Y'all come back now...

Everyone is special, and counts!