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, August 30, 2008
We enjoyed the evening dinner cruise on the Pride of Oregon, going upriver towards Bryon, then floating back down to Oregon tonight. Supper was served dockside; filet, mixed veggies, salad, orange yeast roll, baked potato; cake for dessert. Then, folks went to the upper deck to view the waterway, and boat traffic as twin paddle wheels pushed us upstream. We saw blue heron, birdlife, people tubing, and many pontoons full of families. The river is pretty wide, and several homes, built high on the bluffs, made us a little green with envy. The sunset was so pretty reflected on the water, and we were all busy catching the moment with cameras. Nightfall, showed up campfires along the banks, and lights. We even saw some impressive fireworks. The air was balmy, and the 'quiet' on the water was very relaxing. What a cool thing to do with good friends, on a Saturday night!
Friday, August 29, 2008
On Jim's day off, Wednesday, we headed east for Starved Rock State Park. It's a huge park, just under 3000 acres, with a resort complex, and horse trails, campgrounds, and river activities along the Illinois River. Frankly, we liked the feel of White Pines better, but the bluffs and higher elevation, along the river was awful pretty. In autumn, it must be breathtaking. There is something for everyone there. The original lodge, built by the CCC in the '30's, just like White Pines, was impressive. We preferred that building over the new hotel with the huge Olympic sized pool.
LaSalle, is an old canal town. We walked along the canal on some of the back streets there after a nice dinner in a local bar & grille. The I&M (Illinois and Michigan)canal was famous in its day. The town of 1600, being so close to Starved Rock, is full of shops to cater to the weekend crowds and biker dudes.
We drove downriver to view the lock and dam area. It was after hours, so we couldn't get in, but we did see a barge go through the locks. It's run by the Army Corp of Engineers. Further along, we ended up at another small State Park where 2 bison reside. We saw a pair of twin fawns, and later a doe in the woods. Flying squirrels live there too. (Yes, Rocky is alive and well!) The rivers in Illinois provide many interesting and historical places to explore. Call us cuckoo, that's just the kind of stuff we go for.
Labor Day is fast approaching and White Pines is filling up fast in the cabins, and the two campgrounds. Jim and I will be busy down at the permit station tonight, checking in campers. Our friends from Logansport are here, and it's been fun showing them the area. Joe and Garth will canoe down the Rock River, and end up at the boat landing across from the John Deere historic site. They plan to visit Ronald Reagan's boyhood home in Dixon too. Paula and I will peruse the old piano factory, now filled with 30 eclectic shops, as our day's activity. There's gonna be a nice cup of coffee and lots of catch up conversation included at some point and time, believe me!
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Click on the Apron Queen icon on the right to see more vintage thingies.
We like to see vintage tin can tourist mobiles, as we travel in our more modern tin can. The lifestyle is basically the same as it was back in the early days of rv'ing. If you want to see something really interesting some time...go to Elkhart, Indiana, and visit the RV MH Hall of Fame Museum. It is utterly fascinating!
Friday, August 22, 2008
Saturday, August 09, 2008
This is the weekend when the old tractors putt-putt down the back roads heading towards White Pines Forest State Park. It's one of Jim's favorite weekends here. He starts grinning the night before they arrive, in anticipation...remember Carly Simon singing that song? An-ti-ci-pa-tion.......... anyway, he's a happy camper today.
They left Sublette, a tiny village about 35 miles from here, early this morning. They stop in Oregon for lunch, and to park along the Rock River on Highway 64 for a rest period. Then they come to White Pines, all in a long procession on as many back roads as possible, to display at the park entrance overnight. Drivers are served dinner, catered by the Lodge, and will eat under the Old Oak Shelter along the creek, the largest one here. Following breakfast at 7:30a.m., at the lodge, they'll head towards Lowell Park, outside of Dixon, IL. This is the park where a young Ronald Reagan was a lifeguard, and credited in saving 34 lives, during his tenure as a teen. Noonish, they'll go to Grand Detour, the home of John Deere's famous plow, where they'll partake in a Tractor Rodeo, and a corn eating contest. Heading home, late Sunday afternoon, the tired tractors will go back to Sublette, their point of origin for the weekend festivities. Sublette has Burma Shave signs welcoming you into town. The skyline there is two church spires and the silos of the grain elevator.
Thursday, August 07, 2008
Abe Lincoln's cousin built this historic building, now the national headquarters of the Lincoln Highway; in the tiny village of Franklin Grove.
The Lincoln Highway was the first road to go across the U. S.
The 45-foot statue of Chief Blackhawk, in Lowden State Park, Oregon, IL.
Rock River views near Oregon, Illinois. A view of the beautiful Rock River, in the heart of the Blackhawk Valley, at Grand Detour, the home of John Deere.
Today was Jim's last day off for the week, heading into a busy weekend here at the park. We hit some back roads after dining at La Vigna, which serves fine northern Italian cuisine. It's become a special night out place for our past three anniversaries. It's hidden out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by hills, cornfields, and barns. The park superintendent and another ranger told Jim about it and we've gone ever since. What a treat. Tonight we tried their homemade raspberry sorbet..............oh my!
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
It was a dark and stormy night...how many ghost stories begin that way? Well, we should have known that something was up, when we drove up to the lodge for supper on Monday evening, and remarked to each other how dark it was under the pines, at 6 p.m.
The lodge was fairly busy, not bustling, and we were handed menus and waters with lemon. The lights flickered, and we laughed as the non-park folks looked worried. They flickered several times again, with thirty seconds or so of darkness in between flicks. The wait staff went from table to table, lighting the candles in the table centers, "just in case," they said. The wind picked up, pine branches swayed, and the downpour began. No big deal, we knew that a storm was expected due to the mid-90's temperatures and awful humidity level that day. Suddenly, the log walled room went totally dark, and stayed that way. Sound effects from outside sounded scary. Fran, from the gift shop across the way, ran in, and acted pretty spooked. The manager came into the dining room saying that everyone was to grab their candle and follow her, to the basement. Most of the folks had just been served their meals, right before the lights went out, but we hadn't ordered yet, due to the distracted waitresses. We headed out, rather than down, back to the RV and the corgi kids. It was at the storms peak. Nuts, right? Jim ran to get the car, swung around to the front curved drive, got me, and in the deluge, we saw that a huge tree blocked the road totally. We backed up, heading to the park office to check on Lyle, last seen ten minutes earlier, mowing down by the permit station. He was safe inside the work room, dressed head to toe in yellow rain gear, ready for action. Branches thumped on top of the Tracker's rooftop, and we winced, thinking we were lucky it didn't hit the windshield instead, and hoping the dent on top wouldn't be too bad. We spotted another big tree broken down by the winds (up to 80 miles an hour we heard later) as Jim shifted down to 4-wheel drive to pass the tree in the rain soaked lawn area. He zipped to and fro dodging branches, crossed the fast moving, swollen ford, and up the hill to Cedar Ridge where the RV and doggies were. Dropping me off, he moved on to tell the tenters to get up to the shower building for safety. The storm was absolutely wild by then. I knew the dogs wouldn't go out in it so elected to stay put and watch the storm's progress on TV, and pray. The RV weighs about 25,000 pounds. I did close the blinds in case something popped through windows. Rockford's station said that we were under a tornado warning, but Ogle County was nearly out of the affected area, as the storm was a fast moving one. Poor Phil and Lyle, in the worst of it, got the big tractor out and chains, to pull away the broken trees from the roadways. Jim closed the fords, and opened up the emergency road...kicking branches and limbs out of the way, and dealing with a raccoon with attitude. Those poor guys were drenched, and lucky they didn't get their noggin's thumped. Rose stayed in their rig with Zoey, their schnauzer. The dogs stayed at my heels, as I moved around inside the rig; making supper, and praying for all out in that mess. The Winnebago hung in there, and our lights never flickered. The trees in the woods beside us, stood strong. Folks are still without power here and there. The laundromats are extra busy, and the street departments are out with trucks picking up debris, as are the rangers here in the park. They've been hauling truck loads of debris, the past two days back to the dump. They always have a terrific, unbelievably huge bonfire late in the summer. I think it can be seen from the moon. Now, the park is quiet, with clear running creeks dotted with neon colored dragonflies, and prairie wildflowers in full bloom. Butterflies, and hummingbirds surround the blooms of the orange wild columbine, bush sunflowers, and cornflower blue spiky wildflowers. ( I wish I knew all their names for the midwest region.) Nature is happy again.....that is until the weekend!
Friday, August 01, 2008
The corgi kids and I traveled from home, back to White Pines for a two week visit with Jim. He's grown accustomed to living alone in the RV, and is a little sensitive when I move things around, to neaten things up. It's his space, I should leave it alone I guess. He was off on Wednesday and Thursday so we did some site-seeing. We went to Fulton, which is a small town on the banks of the Mississippi River, which has an authentic Dutch windmill built in the Netherlands, specifically for the town. The ninety foot tall windmill is a fully operational mill, and volunteers are the millers. The windmill sits on the flood control dike which helps protect the town. They've made a nice park there, with scenic views of the barge waterway of "the narrows" which is what this area of the Mississippi is called. There are so many interesting things to stop and see along it. Explore websites and learn of the area for yourself, it would make a great road trip, especially with autumn coming. The Great River Road is the longest scenic by-way in America.
We crossed "Big Muddy" on the erector-set style bridge, into Clinton, Iowa. We happily filled up our gas tank there for $3.44 a gallon! We are "church spire chasers" and went in search of the ones we spotted from the Illinois side of the Mississippi.
Jim took me on the parks'John Deere 'Gator this afternoon onto the fire-roads leading to hidden areas in the park. He showed me a high trail, laden deep in scented pine needles, mushrooms sprouting through moss, with the creeks below. There is a cave, made from a split in the canyon's rock, and a totem pole that someone had painted a "Wilson-face" from the Castaway movie, starring Tom Hanks, some years back. You never know what you'll find on the trails. What fun. It was even muggy up there, it's just that warm, but the smells were good, nice and woodsy.
The park is filling up for the weekend. I did a Wal-mart grocery run, and have turkey legs in the crock-pot for supper. Jim and Phil are preparing for a busy night. Life begins here after 10pm on the weekends, eventho that's the hour "quiet time" begins. The law if often called, when alcohol, or worse, drugs, are found in the sites. The guys never know what they'll come across, after hours, in the park. That's why we enjoy the week days so much here; we literally have the joint to ourselves, and no worries!