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, June 29, 2008
Thursday we did laundry and Wal-mart...essentials, y'know. Then we went to Amboy, a tiny almost forgotten railroad town, about 20 miles south of Dixon. They have an old pharmacy there with a soda fountain, and a store full of memorabilia from our childhood. We saw drugstore items, advertising, glasses, and mix masters for shake making that we haven't seen in over 40 years. We had fun walking down the aisles on old wooden floors, then ended up at the counter for our shake. I had cherry, and thought of brothers, and Uncle Lou, at a drug store exactly like the one we were in, in 1960, having a cherry shake that cost 25 cents. Sigh.....how can time go by so fast? Jim had a chocolate malt, and was pretty happy with his selection, lost in his own memories, I'm sure.
That evening we had a pot-luck with the other two camp host couples.
Friday Jim was back to work, permitting campers, picking up trash and being the park liaison for the campers. The Hispanic population from Berwyn and Chicago came in, and Jim took in over $200 in a few hours.
Saturday was a busy day for Jim on the 'gator, whipping hill and dale, through the park. He handed out flyswatters to all the kids, corralled loose dogs, cleaned shelters in-between double bookings of weddings, and parties. I made chicken and noodles and cherry cobbler for supper, and once it got dark, he was snoring the night away. The boy does love it here, and gives the park his all.
This morning we got together with the other two host/ranger couples, and met at 8am up at the lodge for the buffet breakfast in honor of Rose's 55th birthday.
The rain has been coming off and on all day. Jim's 'gator had a flat (one of the 6 tires) and had to get it fixed. We off-roaded yesterday afternoon, and found more hidden trails, bridges, and old shelters, and maybe picked up something.
This is a terrific park, and it was well used this weekend. Over 60 sites were permitted, several weddings, photo-shoots from the Illinois Tourism, parties, reunions, fishing, swimmers (dogs and kids), were all part of the activity we saw. The Pines, really is a special place, and people love it here.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Where do I begin? We had a fun-filled day. We woke up to a rainy morning, and that always means breakfast at the lodge, and oatmeal. We first camped here shortly after we married in our pop-up, and the tradition of eating oatmeal at the lodge on a rainy morning began then. (Jim has the Paul Bunyan breakfast, but for me, the lodge's thick oatmeal, served with fresh blueberries, butter, brown sugar and raisens.)
We signed the papers at the park office so it's legal for me to "ride" on the John Deere 'Gator, that last year I had a ball driving through the fords, rooster tailing, with a load of wood in the back. This year, since I'll just be visiting off and on, the paperwork was much less.
We headed to Grand Detour, the tiny village on the banks of the Rock River in the heart of the Black Hawk Valley, to see the John Deere historic site, where he began his first blacksmith shop, and made the plow that changed history in America. We watched the demo in the blacksmith shop, and Rick was very entertaining. He forged a leaf, very beautiful, and explained how the bellows, fire, cooling, and hammering all jives together to create a primitive piece of art, tool, hardware, all at the same time. He gave Jim the leaf, and Jim considers it a great prize. We walked through the flower gardens, and vegetable garden and the family home, where Deere and 7 of his 9 children lived for 11 years before moving on to Moline. The gift shop was our last stop, and I recommend everyone to visit their website, and plan a visit to Grand Detour. Visit the John Deere historical website.
I had noticed an article last summer about the Colonial Rose B+B and restaurant in this tiny hamlet, and today we called, and asked about it, and made a reservation for this evening for supper. We returned to the park, grabbed the 'gator, and went exploring...off-road...in the park. Cool beans, this is our fav thing to do at White Pines. We see the "secret" White Pines, the rock walls, creeks, overlooks, and where all the raspberry vines are. Soon, it was time to walk the dogs, clean up, and head back to Grand Detour for our reservation. The 1855 red brick Italianate B+B is encircled by an old fashioned garden. In fact, you walk along the garden path and enter the restaurant through an unadorned side door, up six steps to casual elegance. The lady owner is an artist, and her work adorns the walls. The male owner is the executive chef, and he came out to our table to see how we liked what was on our plates. The food was gourmet quality, very unusual, and we were glad to "go" once, for something special to experience. Visit their website:www.colonialroseinn.com/
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
The corgi kids and I arrived late afternoon yesterday to White Pines State Park in the northwestern corner of Illinois where Jim has volunteered for the third summer as a park volunteer. This is the first summer that I'm not here working with him. Instead, the dogs and I will "visit" and go back to North Manchester to help with family and just be home. Anyway~we had an early supper at the park's lodge last night, then watched National Treasure 2 in the RV. A nice quiet evening.
Today we headed toward the Mississippi River to see for ourselves, what the river was up to since it's been in the news of late. We crossed over big muddy at Savannah; across the blue erector-set bridge into Subola, Iowa. We could see flooded areas, and silt lines with debris, and a flooded campground that we had checked out last year. We saw a huge flock of pelicans...in Iowa, big-bodied, and seemingly out of place. We then headed north, following the Great River Road back in Illinois, which is absolutely beautiful in a folk-art, children's book illustration type beauty. Hills and dales, dotted with picture perfect farms, and fields that appear to be watercolored in different shades of the same color. We oooohed-ahhhed as we continued down the U.S. Grant Memorial Highway until we arrived in Elizabeth.
Elizabeth, Illinois, is a town we passed through last year on our way to Galena. We said then that we wanted to come back and explore, so today we did. Elizabeth got its name supposedly when 3 ladies, all named Elizabeth, saved the settlement and stood up to the Black Hawk Indians. The men of the town were said to be all drunk so the ladies took the situation in hand, according to a local shopkeeper whom I spent a pleasant half hour with. Sally, of Cherry Creek Cottage, has a darling shop with nooks and crannies, full of stuff that women love. It's nestled on the bottom floor of the old Commercial Hotel built in 1894 for the railroad. The refurbished depot (Chicago Great Western) is right across the street, and that's what we were exploring when I spotted the hotel/gift shop. The hotel's upstairs has 6-1 bedroom apartments and Sally is the landlord of them. She has a secret garden in back that she let me explore, and that's where I met Marley a huge golden retriever who loves everybody. (Boy, did the corgi kids sniff me all over when I got back into the car! Thanks Jim for being patient.)
She invited me to a garden party that she is holding this Saturday. It's for women named Elizabeth, and they even invited Queen E, but were told she was busy. They are taking old time photos, and were making the props and backdrops today in a little shed just off the garden. They'll be serving tea and refreshments out in the garden on linen topped tables. (How cool is that?) I won't be going, but she was so generous with her time, and friendliness, and was so open in sharing info about the shop, her history with it, and the town's history.
We drove back to the Apple River Fort (something we intended to see this trip) and saw the prairie meadow, full of wildflowers. The town is full of hills, and houses had to be creative with buildings, and gardens. What a neat, pretty little town.
We loved the roller-coaster back roads of this picturesque part of Illinois, with fields full of oreo-marked cows.
We stopped at the Apple River Canyon State Park, down the road, in the hilly north west part of Illinois near the Wisconsin border. The rocky bluffs, and winding waters of the Apple River had numerous rapids that we could hear as we walked the dogs. The campsites were only $8 a night, but it's only dry-camping, and no shower buildings there. Rabbits were plentiful, and not afraid of cars.
We drove on to Warren on the old Stagecoach Trail, which was full of 1800's buildings from another era. Jim stopped at Hatfield's Hardware, found an off-sized furnace filter for our rv's a/c, and walked out with a free maryjane candy, and a wooden yardstick too. We crossed into Wisconsin, where cheese country billboards advertised their main crop. The land flattened out a bit, and contented cows were seen everywhere. Turning east, we headed back to Illinois, and headed home to our own park, that has been our summer home the past couple of summers. What a nice day. We saw a lot, did some exploring, and realized again, that this part of Illinois is just incredibly beautiful, and full of the nicest people.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
It just seems so good to be spending the summer back home after being away the past two, and RV'ing here and there in the fall and winter as noted by previous posts. This rural, northeastern Indiana town, where I moved to 12 years ago, is just so cool. The Saturday morning farmer's market theme is "Don't panic, it's organic." I bought tonight's supper from an old Brethren couple, selling heirloom tomatoes, butter crunch lettuce and radishes at the end of their driveway. I told them that they're probably selling the only "safe" tomatoes and should be very busy as grocery stores and restaurants have pulled theirs due to salmonella warnings. Here it is, not quite mid-June, yet abnormal temps have us thinking that it's August already. Today we got a break weather wise, and it was a joy to be outside for the first time in weeks. I decided it was a good day to spread mulch. Yesterday I potted the last of the plants and threw around a cup full of 4-o'clock seeds our neighbor was passing out. People are so dog-gone nice here. The library in the summer is the hub of the town. I signed up for summer reading, and will try to win the dog book bag that I've had my eye on for several weeks. A calico cat sleeps in the fiesta bowls at the local hardware store, or will come rub your leg as you wait in line at checkout. It's just a nice place to be.
Life without Jim around is different. I pursue my old passions....planting, puttering, and "creating" cuteness through the house. Today I signed up for a scrapbook class for later this week, and Josh and I will take a card making class, given at the public library in Warsaw, about 18 miles away, in July.
Jim has been having fun at White Pines. Yesterday he worked out of the park office, calling local churches near the park, updating service schedules. He's also updating the bulletin boards outside the shower house with bug/poison ivy/park information. He cleans the campsites when campers leave. He said they had three campers over the weekend due to all the stormy weather. He helps campers set up tents, or with the fire grates, and is kind of the go-to guy, freeing the rangers to do what they need to do in maintenance, mowing, or painting duties. He'll work in the permit office Saturday night to cover for the new camp hosts, who have family coming in. His electricity hasn't been hooked up yet, so he's still using the generator as needed before 10 p.m. for power; but they are digging the trenches and leveling the site. So the wheels are turning, and he'll soon be in his spot for the season.
Mom spent a few days over the weekend here. Josh goes to camp for a week on Sunday. The time for the corgi kids and I to go to White Pines will be here before we know it.
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
Jim left for White Pines State Park today. This will be his third year to work at his beloved park as camp-host, trail-blazer, and official trash picker-upper. He loves it there, and living in the the pine-filled forest seems to soothe his soul. We won't have full hook-ups, just electric, as we are the third couple when normally there is just two. He said he wants to stay until October 1st so he can see the fall colors. Something we've talked about for the past two seasons. The park empties out, and color should be incredible. I'll go over in three weeks with the dogs and stay until after the 4th, then return back to North Manchester.
In August and September, the dogs and I will do the same. We're staying home part-time, after two summers away. I want Mom to come stay off and on, and take Josh to camp. We just completed some huge in-house and outside projects since our return from Florida in late March, and our most recent individual trips. New carpet throughout the house, painting, gutted the bathroom and made it new, lots of pitching out of junk, and serious cleaning. Whew. Now it's time to get ready for a yard sale. I want to check out our local town's recreation classes to see if they have anything to do with scrapbooking. This might be good for us to have time apart, to renew and refresh after living in the confines of a 32-foot RV all summer, fall and winter in 2007-2008!! I'm enjoying the house and small town living again. The farmer's market opens up this Saturday, and Josh and I are planning a trip to Shipshewana before he goes to camp. The dogs take life day by day. On our way home from White Pines last week, Jake opened an unopened box of Milkbones, apparently with his teeth. It was packed in a plastic bag, up on the RV's dinette. Both corgies were very quiet, and very thirsty on the 7-hour drive home that day. Who said corgies need thumbs???