Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sun, Rain & Knock on Wood

We decided to take some time off from sightseeing and geocaching and just watch some football today.  We managed to see parts of 4 games and watch our Redskins blow a lead, miss three field goals, give up a late score and then come back and win the game on a 41 yard field goal.  They sure do put the excitement back into the game.  The Carolina Panthers had a victory wrapped up and managed to fumble and not make a first down.  They recovered the fumble and then had a 4th and 1, so they punted.  The Falcons marched down the field and made a last second field goal to win the game.  

I was talking to my friend Mann and he asked where we were and when I said Amarillo he commented on all the bad weather there.  Each time they have come through here the weather has been terrible.  We have had the opposite experiences in the 6-7 times we've camped here.  Of course, I said knock on wood for the good weather.  Wouldn't you know it, about an hour after that call the weather turned from a sunny day to stormy weather with high winds, hail, lightening and rain.  We lucked out as there was a small break in the weather as it passed over us.  So, in the future there will be no weather discussions while we are in Amarillo.

We hope to do some sightseeing on Monday and also stock up on groceries since we will be spending three days at the Santa Rosa State park in New Mexico.  It will be an electric only site and most likely not TV so reading books and watching DVD movies will be in order.  We have always enjoyed staying at Santa Rosa SP and look forward to our visit there from Tuesday to Friday.  If I don't post any blogs, don't be concerned since there may not be an internet connection while we are there.  

I hope our friends Gloria and Doug didn't fall in the Grand Canyon where they were visiting recently.  She hasn't updated her blog in the last few days.

As mentioned yesterday, we traveled in heavy rain for a long distance before we got out of the area.  Gerry took a few pictures or the rain through the windshield.

I-40 Western Oklahoma

I-40 Western Oklahoma
 We stopped by the Texas welcome center and were very impressed by the building.  It serves as a rest area and a tornado shelter and has free wifi available.  The back has a veranda with some beautiful views and also picnic areas.  It stands in stark contrast to some of the states that have closed their rest areas.  Well done Texas.

Texas Welcome center I-40 Westbound

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Happy Birthday Gerry

Happy Birthday Gerry

Once again Gerry is celebrating her birthday on the road in the motor home.  It seems we are always heading west about this time and she get cheated out of her birthday celebration.  Cassie & Family did come to the cabin and give her a birthday gift and my gift to her will be later this afternoon when we get to Amarillo.

I am taking a small liberty with the photo below since our birthdays are so close.
She is still as beautiful as the day I met her March 25, 1956.

Gerry has been getting phone calls and emails all day wishing her a happy birthday.  It's nice to have so many friends and family remember your special day

Just as we were getting ready to hookup the car and leave the campground this morning, the heavens opened up and poured down rain.  It was so heavy we couldn't hardly see the end of the campground row that we were in.  It let up a little and we hurried up and finished hooking up the car and disconnecting the motor home from the power, sewer, water and cable hookups and hit the road.

It rained very hard for about 70 miles and letup a little and then started raining hard again.  There wasn't much traffic so I just took my time and kept the motor home on the road.  That is more than I can say for three other people in cars and a pickup who spun out of control and wrecked.  One car was in the west bound lane and heading east.  Figure that one out.

The rain finally slowed down to a sprinkle for the last 100 miles or so and it was a nice drive.  We stopped at a Texas rest area to check out a geo cache and I picked it up and added it to the list.

We pulled into the Oasis RV Park west of Amarillo about 3pm after a 225 mile drive and got a real nice campsite.  Of course, all the sites here are nice and very large with concrete driveways and sitting area.  Cable tv, wifi, swimming pools come with the site.  We have stopped here a number of times and really like the place.  The clerk said new owners were taking over the park on Monday and nobody knows what changes there will be.  We will have to wait and see if it remains one of our favorite parks.

Friday, September 28, 2012

El Reno, OK - Geocaching

My birthday was a few days ago and one of the things I wanted was a day of geocaching around El Reno, OK.  Old Route 66 runs from our campground to El Reno and we decided to take the slow road to the caches.  It is hard to believe that large 18 wheelers used to ply this road.  I am glad I don't have to drive the motor home on this road and meet an 18 wheeler coming in the other direction.  We lived about 9 miles from Route 66 in Illinois and used to race on that road all the time.  The speed limit at that time was reasonable and proper, so racing over 100mph was common.

They have one series of caches that runs for miles and has 77 caches in total.  We set out to find as many as we could and wound up with 33 caches found in that series.  In addition, we found three other caches for a grand total of 36 for the day which is an all time high found rate for us.  Remember, we aren't as spry as we used to be and finding 36 caches meant getting in and out of the car that many times.  I think I will sleep good tonight if the Advil kicks in fast enough.

The majority of the caches found today were right along side of a country road with a fair amount of traffic.  I think many of those drivers learned to drive in Illinois by the speed they were whizzing by.  There are a number of oil wells in the area and they are drilling new ones all the time.  A number of trucks with large pieces of equipment whizzed by and shook the Vue.   

It's been overcast since we got here and it looks like another day just like it is on tap for tomorrow.  We plan on moving down the road to Amarillo for a couple days and check out the area there.  We've been there before a couple times and like the town, so we are looking to having a good time.

We received some sad news today.  My ex sister-in-law passed away after a short illness.  I think she was ill longer than people realized and covered it up.  She was married to my brother for 23 years and then they divorced and went their separate ways.  Our condolences go out to her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.  We will miss her. 

Betty SMITH Clark  1939-2012

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Exit 108 KOA, I-40 Oklahoma

We were lazy this morning and took our time leaving Branson.  We were heading for El Reno, OK and it wasn't that far.  We stopped for the last of the "cheap" diesel fuel at the FlyingJ in Joplin, Mo and paid $3.80/gallon.  I see where Doug & Gloria are paying in the +$4.00/gal region out in Nevada and points west.

We had a relatively easy drive here and took the Oklahoma Turnpikes on I-44.  All together it cost $19.50 for turnpike charges and it was worth it to avoid the side roads.  It was overcast and cool so that was an extra bonus.

I-40 west of Oklahoma City is a terrible road and almost shook the motor home into little pieces.  I had to slow down to 50mph to keep it from demolishing the motor home.  Once we got past Yukon heading west, the road was smoother and in much better shape.  The campground in El Reno was full so we continued on down the road.

We pulled into a KOA at exit 108 for the night.  We may stay here two nights and do some geocaching in the area.  There are about 77  geocaches in a row on a country road nearby and we hope to pick some of them while we are in the area.

See, not every day is exciting on the road, but we still love to be out on the highways and byways of the U.S.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Eureka Springs takes it's name from the 62 mountain springs in the area. The springs played a vital part in the modern development of the community as many people during the 19th century believed that the mineral waters held curative properties.

The presence of so many springs and the unusual high quality prompted developers to build a resort community where visitors came to “take the waters,” They drank the pure mountain water and soaked in spas, several of which still stand. One of the spas also served as a house of ill repute and their sign in front advertised that fact.

Of the original sixty-two springs, more than one dozen have been restored and can still be seen. Probably the most famous of these is Basin Spring. Located at the heart of Eureka Springs, Basin Springs is surrounded by a beautiful little park that is a center of life and activity in the community. Another spring called Magnetic Springs has a small park and is near the Passion Play area. There was a geocache in the area but we couldn't find it. Can't find them all!

Magnetic Spring

There was a motor cycle gathering going on in town and all the bars had bikes all over the place. There were Harleys and Honda bikes, trikes and some hybrid ones. A number of them had small trailers attached that looked like they could be tent trailers. This area must be a dream for riding bikes with all the curves and hills all over the place.

A few years ago my cousin Jackie and her husband Louis took us to a catfish restaurant and we decided to check it out again. We couldn't remember the name, but it is so well known that a lady directed it to us on the first try. It is called the Catfish Cabin and they serve catfish as the main item, but also shrimp, chicken and sandwiches. We ordered the catfish platters and enjoyed them very much. It was very difficult to eat all the food with beans, cole slaw, hush puppies and a baked potato thrown into the mix. We were full to say the least and waddled out of there.

We lucked out going early as we did since a bus load of tourists showed up and 49 of them came into the restaurant hungry and in a hurry. They were from Houston, TX and were going to the Ozark Mountain Hoedown theater.

If you are ever in the area around Branson, MO; then take the time to drive the 50 miles to Eureka Springs and check it out.  Don't plan on walking all over the town since it is full of hills and barely any spots longer than 100ft that aren't on a curve or going up or down a hill.  It is a neat place to visit and has a large number of hotels, restaurants and bars.

They have new and used homes built into the hillsides and if you fell off your porch it could be a large drop off.  I would hate to be there in an ice storm unless I could stay inside and not even go out side.   

That was our day, how was yours?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Curt Hicken Golden Glow Award, The Texas Tenors

I received an email from my niece Jeanie Hicken who is married to Curt Hicken.  While we were in Illinois, Curt was in Branson, MO at a convention and was presented with a prestigious award.  Congratulations Curt, you deserved it. 

News from the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers
Contact - Executive Director Josh Lantz

Outdoor Journalist Curt Hicken Honored with National Golden Glow Award

BRANSON, Mo., Sept. 19, 2012 – The Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW) has awarded veteran outdoor journalist, broadcaster and photographer Curt Hicken with the group's nationally recognized Golden Glow Individual Award. The award was presented here during the association's annual conference this week.

This prestigious Golden Glow Award is presented to an individual who has directly influenced sportsmen and women through conservation and outdoor communication efforts. Award winners are nominated by and voted upon by AGLOW's Council of Past Presidents. Among the past winners of this award are the father of modern day conservation Aldo Leopold, legendary outdoor communicator Homer Circle, Ranger Boats founder Forrest Wood and widely recognized outdoor artists Terry Redlin and Maynard Reece.

"Curt is one of the first people I met when coming into the outdoor writing field, and I truly suspect there are few people in the outdoor industry who do not know and admire this man," said Bob Groene, award presenter, AGLOW Past President and Quad Cities outdoor journalist."

Hicken accepted the award Wednesday evening here at the Chateau on the Lake Resort, during the 2012 AGLOW annual conference Golden Glow banquet. With more than 150 attendees, the awards banquet was the highlight of the four-day event.

"This award is something I will truly cherish and remember throughout the remainder of my life," Hicken said. "And coming from a group as prestigious as AGLOW - so filled with celebrated and widely recognized names - this award becomes even moretreasured."

Hicken has devoted more than 30 years to communicating the outdoor experience. His list of honors are long and include being the first individual recognized as the Illinois Outdoor Communicator of the Year, as well as the Illinois DNR Division of Fisheries Outdoor Communicator Award. His many accomplishments include countless writing, photography, service and achievement awards.

His efforts have promoted hunting, fishing and all other outdoor activities throughout a long career and properly demonstrate a commitment to natural resources from which all sportsmen and women directly benefit.

"Without the never-ending efforts of outdoor communicators, I suspect we would see the world of outdoor recreation suffer," Hicken added. "The work that outdoor journalists and broadcasters do is critical to the sporting world and it is this ability that makes AGLOW members so special."

Hicken resides in Gillespie, Ill. with his wife Jeanie and has served as the outdoor writer for The Telegraph (Alton, Ill.) for more than 20 years, during which he also served eight years as public relations representative for the Cabela's Sportsman's Quest Tournament Series. In addition, his work can be found each week in the Journal-Courier (Jacksonville, Ill.). He also produces a weekly radio program airing on the WSMI stations (Litchfield, Ill). Along with these, his byline can be found each month in numerous state and regional outdoor magazines.

 AGLOW Past President, award presenter and Quad Cites outdoor journalist Bob Groene congratulates outdoor journalist Curt Hicken for his AGLOW Golden Glow Individual Award.

Curt on right

Curt and Jeanie have discovered the Florida Keys and spent some time down there this past January and stopped in one of our favorite watering holes, The No Name Pub.  They had to send me a picture to make me jealous.  

We have tickets to see The Texas Tenors this evening and from what we have heard, they have a great act.  I hope they live up to their billing.  More to follow later this evening.

 The #1 Vocal Group in the History of America’s Got Talent Returns to the Starlite Theatre in 2012! Introduced to the nation on America’s Got Talent, THE TEXAS TENORS have been wooing and wowing sold out audiences around the world and now return to Branson exclusively at the Starlite Theatre for even more dates in 2012. Marcus, JC and John smoothly blend country, classical, gospel and Broadway with a decided touch of country humor and charm.

We had a light dinner and got to the Starlite Theater early to avoid the crowds.  Actually, we ate at the Diner at the theater and wound up waiting for over an hour before the show began.  They gave a 20% discount if you had theater tickets, plus a free box of popcorn as you entered the theater if you had a coupon from a local advertising paper.  There aren't that many bargains in Branson, so it was nice to get one tonight.

The Texas Tenors put on a great show and sang opera, rock, country, gospel and some comedy skits.  They were very entertaining and have great voices.  The blond singer wowed the ladies and when they brought a woman onto the stage and sang to her it was very funny.  She went right along with it and managed to get a few kisses on the cheek from the guys.  

The three of them sang great harmony together and really belted out some songs and kept the show moving along quickly.  Our favorite song by them was Unchained Melody and they did a great job on it.  It sent chills down our spines as they really nailed it.  

After the show they appeared in the lobby to sign autographs and pose for pictures with those that wanted one.  Gerry wanted to get a closeup of the group, however they moved people by so quickly that she wasn't able to get a good one.  She did the next best thing and took individual shots.

JC Fisher

Marcus Collins

John Hagen
 They were good enough that we would go see them again.  They just signed a contract to appear at the Starlite Theater through 2017.  Check them out if you are in Branson or see them performing somewhere else.

Oh, btw, Gerry drug me out to another wine tasting before the show at the local outlet for the Stone Hill winery.  Yes, it is the same winery that we were at in Hermann, but this one we walked right up to the wine tasting room and checked out about 12 wines for free.  

We may stay another day in Branson and check out Eureka Springs, Arkansas.  We've been there before but wanted to go back to see it once again.  It is a really neat old town. 


Monday, September 24, 2012

Shoji Tabuchi & Green Bay football

We hung around the motorhome in the morning and caught our breath after the moves the last couple days.  It felt good to just take it easy and do nothing.  We finally had to get out and find a post office to mail a letter and that got us off our duffs.

We attended the Shoji Tabuchi show many years ago and really enjoyed it and have tried to see it again the past couple trips to Branson.  It never worked out since he wasn't at the theatre a couple times and sold out the last time.  We lucked out today and bought two tickets to the show for tonight's performance.

For those who aren't familiar with him, he is from Japan and loved Country music enough to come to the U.S. and strike out on his own to make it big here.  He had a country band in Japan and they won some contests and were very popular, but he felt he had to make it in the U.S.  He bounced around a few years and finally settled in Branson, MO and played the fiddle in a local music theater and then opened his own 2000 seat theater and has become highly successful.

Taiko drum worth over $300,000

Shoji Tabuchi

Shoji & dau Christina
2 best dancers in show.
Shoji has a small band and a few singer/dancers and they are a very talented group.  The two above were very good dancers and head and shoulder above the others.  Some cast members were actually ushers before the show started.  

The theater is well know for having the most lavish bathrooms anywhere in the U.S.   The men's room has a fireplace and a billiard table with seating around it.  The bathroom fixtures are all black and luxurious looking.  Until recently women would go into the men's room just to see the fixtures.  At least, that is what the women would say.  Now they have a sign that says gentlemen only.

We enjoyed the show, but liked it better the first time we saw him many years ago.  Of course seeing it for the first time is always the best.  

The theater was a little over 1/2 full and we were surprised it wasn't full like it has been in the past.  It does attract an older crowd and I think we were among the younger people there.  The show started at 7:30 pm and lasted until a few minutes before 10pm.  It moved along quickly and was very entertaining.

After the show we were hungry and wound up ordering to go at a Taco Bell restaurant.  For a change, we enjoyed the meal and renewed our faith in Taco Bell.  

We got back to the motorhome in time to watch the last few minutes of the Green Bay Packers - Seattle Seahawks football game.  What I saw of the games ranks right up there with the poorest officiated game of all time.  The final play had a blatant offensive pass interference call that wasn't made and an obvious interception by the Packers that was awarded to the Seahawks because one player put his arm around the Packer player and grabbed the ball.  Even after the replay, they awarded the touchdown to the Seahawks and that was the winning score.  I think this game and the bad calls in games over the weekend will finally get the owners off the dime and settle the strike with the real football referees.  BTW:  I am not a Packers fan, but hate to see anyone get robbed like that.

On a more pleasant note, we managed to find 3 caches today in a short time period and went over 1100 finds since we started 3 years ago.  We are on a roll.  

That was our day, how was yours?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Branson, MO

We buttoned up the bus and drove over to the full hookup sites in the campground to check and see if our 50amp plug worked or was damaged.  Thankfully, it worked as it should and we didn't have to schedule an appointment to have it repaired.  That was a relief.

It was time to depart Hermann and head down the road to Branson, MO and that entailed a 230 mile drive.  The first 35 miles were on a narrow, curvy back road that luckily didn't have much traffic.  We took MO 94 which runs alongside of the Missouri River which was in sight a number of times.  We picked up a better road near Jefferson City, MO and after that it was a breeze driving down here.

We are setup at the Oak Grove campground in Branson very near the downtown area.  We've stopped here in the past and like the convenience of being close to everything.  It was an easy drive in Branson and there didn't seem to be many people here today.

We watched the Bronco-Texans football game and just relaxed.   It was a good game except for some cheap hits by the Broncos on the Texan quarterback.  The Broncos mounted a late scoring rally but fell short in the end.

There were some famous people born on this day in 1939 including Roberta Flack, Wolfman Jack, Dion DiMucci and Larry Clark.  I hope they had as nice of a day as I have.  Numerous emails wishing me a happy birthday, phone calls from friends and family and a Jackie Lawson email from Ron & Dee.  Thank you all for remembering me on my special day.  Gerry prepared one of my favorite meals, spaghetti, and we enjoyed a nice merlot wine with the meal.  

Life is good.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Hermann, MO Wineries & Civil War

We camped in the Hermann City park campground in an electric & water site.  As it turned out, it became a water site, but no electricity due to a power cord that allowed us to connect our 50amp motor home into a 30amp power post.  The cord was defective and we didn't have electrical power Friday night and Saturday.   We do have a large solar panel that supplies power to our 6 large batteries and they powered us fine, except for a/c and heat.   The generator supplied enough power for both of them and to also recharge the batteries when they ran down.  It's nice to have a self contained motorhome when you need it.

There was a Civil War reenactment today at 1pm.  Due to the electrical problem we missed most of the reenactment but did make it in time to see everyone in their uniforms and dresses.  They had camps throughout the town and were cooking in pots over open fires.  It was neat to see how they took it so seriously.

Saturday we managed to visit 4 wineries in Hermann and tasted the wine in three of them.  One winery wanted $5 for 4 tastings and the cheapest bottle was over $20.  Scratch that one from the list.  Gerry went to another tasting at the Hermannhof winery and bought a couple nice wines there.  They had a large outdoor area where you could enjoy a bottle of their wine.

The winery we enjoyed the most was the Adam Puchta Winery on the outskirts of Hermann.   It is located down a dusty gravel road and sits on a gently sloping hillside with nice views.  There was a large wedding party out on a part of the lawn and everyone was dressed in suits and beautiful dresses.  It was an upscale wedding to say the least.

 The wine tasting room had people two or three deep waiting for their turn.  It costs $5 for tasting of 14 different wines and we really liked four of them which Gerry proceeded to purchase.  We did get a 15% discount since we did the wine tasting, and they were reasonably priced.  

It also was a very old winery that has survived for over 157 years, including Prohibition when they were closed down.  They did find a way to continue to produce wine during the time and survived Prohibition.

The wineries are used for wedding showers & weddings.  There were a number of young ladies sitting in the grass and enjoying some vino as they celebrated wedding showers.  There was also a group of young "ladies" dressed in skin tight dresses and very drunk walking around.  It seems they had rented one of the trolleys for the day to travel between wineries and made full use of the wine tasting facilities.  One young lady was practically carried to the trolley and the driver had to help her aboard.  They were having a ball and at least they weren't driving their own cars.

The next winery tasting took place at the Stone Hill Winery and it was by far the busiest winery we have ever seen.  The parking lot was full and just as we got there 4 buses pulled up and disgorged their load.  What a mess.  We decided to eat lunch at the old restaurant there, but there was a 45 minute wait to get a brat sandwich.  Nope, not for us.  They did have a nice display outside of the entrance and actually had grape vines on the hillside near the winery.

Stone Hill grape vines

Nice photo backdrop

Downtown Hermann with church and courthouse

Friday, September 21, 2012

Hermann, Missouri

Slight change of plans.  We decided to visit Hermann, MO and take in some of the winery tours they have there.  There are a number of wineries in the area and we want to get an early start and visit the Stone Hill winery and then a couple more after that.  We made the 140 mile drive without incident and skirted around St. Louis, MO on I-270 along with thousands of others.  It wasn't as bad as driving around the Washington, DC beltway and we made very good time.

We are camped in the Hermann City park in the overflow area.  They have  a full hookup area, but it was full and we are in a large parking lot with water and electric for the unit.  Since we will only be here until Sunday morning, it will work out fine.  There are about 8-10 other units in the area, but they have room for 20 so it isn't crowded.

We got here early enough to explore the town for a couple hours and also do some geocaching.  Managed to pick up 6 caches in a short time period.

The campground is about 4 blocks from the Stone Hill winery, so that is convenient.  We drove by there this evening to check it out and hopefully we can get there early enough to avoid some of the crowds.

They are having a "generic" Civil War re-enactment this weekend and we chatted with one of the people who would be out there on the battlefield on Saturday.  It begins at 1pm and we hope we can make it, if we aren't loaded from all the wine tasting.  

As you may have noticed, I didn't have time to write a blog the last few days and thought I'd write one for each of the past 3 days.  Hope it doesn't confuse anyone.

Sunday we plan on heading down to Branson, MO and taking in some shows and checking the place out.  We always have a good time in Branson and find lots of things to keep us busy.

BTW:  Diesel was $3.75/gallon at a BP station today.  We filled up the tank and are getting around 8.8 mpg.  Not bad for a home.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Happy Birthday Cassie

Happy Birthday Cassie

Yes, it is that time of the year again.  We celebrated Cassie's birthday before we left, but today is her actual birthday.  She had a doctor's appointment today and we hope that didn't spoil her day.  We know Jack had picked out a nice present and they planned on having a nice dinner.  We hope it was a great day for her and she enjoyed her gifts from Jack and the girls.

We had planned on leaving the area today, but stayed another day to get caught up on laundry and some chores around the motorhome.  Later on we joined Dick, Sue, Jeanie, Curt, Shelly & Kennedi for dinner at a local restaurant in Litchfield.  The food was good and plentiful and we chatted for a while after dinner and then it was time to say our goodbyes for another year. 

Dick & Sue were heading for California on Friday morning and hopefully they will make another trip or two this winter and stop by Tucson to visit with us.  

The Spanish have a saying that "fish and visitors begin to smell after three days".  We were there over a week so I guess we were really ripe by the time we left.  I hope we didn't wear out our welcome.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Luncheon and Dentist visit

Gerry made arrangements to meet some of her high school classmates for lunch and it seems they didn't want me around.  So, I agreed to drop her off and pick up some parts I needed for the car and motorhome while she was at lunch.  That was the plan.

Ann Marie R called about the time we were leaving and said she was driving right past where we were staying and she wanted to see the motor home.  I explained about the luncheon and she said that would be fine and she would pick me up at the restaurant.  She had some errands in Litchfield and that worked for us.  It took a little while for the errands and then we drove back to the motor home.  She hadn't seen one as large as ours and was very interested in it.  She decided it was too large for husband Jim to drive and impossible for her, so she just looked.  We had a nice visit and then it was time to pick Gerry up from the luncheon.

I made an appointment with a local dentist to have a tooth filled at 2pm and we drove there and Gerry dropped me off to pick up some flowers for her parent's graves.  The dentist was on time and filled my tooth in record time.  It was an emergency visit, so he made fast work of the repair.  So far it is holding up and I hope I can make it to Tucson and have a final repair made.  Most likely it will involve getting another crown or two.  $$$$$ out the window.

We drove to the Mt. Olive cemetery where Gerry's parents are buried and placed the flowers on the large headstone.  It was difficult to secure it since the stone was so large and the flower arrangement hooks weren't wide enough.  Out came the vise grips and a quick repair was made and the flowers hooks should hold for a long time.

We drove to Gillespie and visited with my brother a while and then went out to dinner at a local diner.  Sheryl, Dave and Jeanie joined Dick and Sue along with us for dinner.  No political talk.  We had a nice time, but were exhausted and made it an early evening.

BTW:  I never did pick up the parts.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

2016 Obama's America

Gerry and I went to see the movie 2016 yesterday since we've heard so much about it.  I sort of expected  a Michael Moore type slanted movie except for a different political party.  We were surprised.

Much of what was in the movie has been available news if you searched for it outside of the mainstream media, but the movie explained a lot of things much better than what I've seen before.  I am not a movie critic by any means, but I would highly recommend this movie to every American.  Go see it with an open mind and listen carefully.  There is a message there that everyone should hear before the elections.

I was surprised to learn the writer of the documentary was an immigrant from India who was born the same year as Obama, went to an Ivy League school the same time, graduated the same year, etc.  His conclusion about what Obama stands for was a revelation to me.

Go see the movie and form your own opinion. 

My high school classmates meet the 4th Thursday of each month at Toni's Restaurant in Benld, IL for a get together.  When I told Nancy J that I couldn't make the reunion in October, but would be here this week she organized a quick get together and 13 classmates showed up to join us for lunch.  I was very surprised at how many showed up and had a great time visiting with all of them.  We had a very unusual class in the almost everyone got along together and many have kept in touch over the years.  Thanks guys and gals, we had a great time seeing you all.

Gillespie High School 1957 Classmates

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Family visiting time

We had breakfast with Gerry's class members at the hotel and wound up talking for 3 hours.  They finally ran us out so the lunch crowd could find space in the restaurant.  It was nice seeing everyone and getting caught up on their lives.  Lots of chatting going on among the members of the class.

Later we had a late lunch with my brother and his friend Sue at the Miner's Cafe in Gillespie.  It is located in the space where the old Brown Derby was located.  The Brown Derby was a hangout for kids when I was in high school.   We violated a long term understanding to not talk politics and had a spirited discussion going on.  At one time a lady in a nearby booth joined in and she must have been the only Republican in Macoupin County.  She knew her fact presented a counter view to my brother a  couple friends of his.  It was an interesting time hearing their points of view.

Most of the discussion started after Gerry and I mentioned we were going to watch the movie "2016" on Monday.  That went over about as well as something from Michael Moore would go over at a Republican Convention.  Needless to say, we will be going alone.  Review to follow.

After dinner we stopped by my brother's house and sat on the porch talking about safer subjects.  Jeanie, my niece, joined us for a couple hours and then we all got tired out at the same time.  We bid them a goodnight and drove back to the where the motor home is parked.

We did managed to retrieve 6 geocaches in the Litchfield, IL area very quickly and entered them on the log.  They were all fairly easy, but had a high difficulty rating.  Either we are getting better at this or they are rating the caches too high.  In either case, we did enjoy getting back to geocaching.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Jubelt's Bakery & Benld Class of 57 Reunion

We made our annual pilgrimage to Jubelt's Bakery in Litchfield IL this morning and had a great breakfast.  We ordered the country omelet, coffee and a great pastry for breakfast.  It was great and we thoroughly enjoyed the meal.  I had the misfortune to be seated facing all the goodies in the showcase and my mouth watered for the pastries.  I really like the long johns and they had 5 showing in the case and I was worried they would sell out before we got a chance to buy some.  It got a little more scary when a young boy who was about 100 lbs overweight started looking at them.  Thankfully, he selected a plate of other pastries to eat.  Close call.

We talked to the last remaining Jubelt family member who owns and runs the bakery/restaurant now.  She said they still make the donuts and such at the store and would continue to do so.  They haven't sold the old bakery in Mt. Olive but it is for sale.  Not a good time to be selling bakeries with so many of them going out of business.

Today was the big day for Gerry's Benld Class of 1957's 55th year reunion.  Gerry was part of a class of 25 graduating seniors and 11 members of the class showed up for the reunion.  7 member have passed away and there was a moment of silence  to remember them.  They weren't able to track down a couple and the remainder didn't make it for one reason or the other.

They had a really nice cake that actually tasted quite good to help celebrate the occasion.

A number of members of the class are going to meet for breakfast on Sunday morning at the hotel and we plan on joining them.  

The afternoon and evening was non stop talking among the various class members.  Gerry's best friend from high school, Marilyn was there and they chatted and caught up on what's been going on these past few years.  Marilyn and her husband Terry are sitting on the right side of the table.  Terry was a year ahead of me at Gillespie High School and we knew each other from attending classes together.  Larry & Kathryn are seated on the left side and Gerry and I are in the back.  Marilyn and I share the same birthdate and probably were in the same hospital at the same time.  I don't remember her from that time, though.

We all managed to fit into one picture and it turned out fairly well.  Getting a bunch of senior citizens to all focus on the camera is a little like herding cats, but we came close. 

As my FSILINC would say, look for me in the red shirt.  Yep, that is me with Gerry standing right behind me.  As it turned out, 3 of the 4 people sitting for the photo were from Gillespie and attended school with me.

It was a great day and we had a very nice time seeing everyone and getting caught up on our life events.  Now we have to wait until 2017 for the 60th reunion.  Hope to see you all then.

Gerry received a phone call from our grandson Ryan who was attending a gender revealing party in regard to Dee and his upcoming birth of their first son.  The party was split 6-6 on what the sex the child would be and it came up a boy.   This will be our first great grandchild and he is due to arrive early Feb 2013.  Now I am beginning to feel old.  Well done Ryan and Dee.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Lazy Day

We decided to take it easy today and do some much needed cleaning and arranging around the motor home.  When we packed out of the cabin there were a number of items that we didn't know where they belonged.  Gerry found a couple places for pictures and the digital photo frame and that was a relief.  Small victories like that go a long way to making the motor home interior more comfortable.

I called my brother in the afternoon and made plans to meet Sue and him for dinner at a Chinese buffet restaurant.  Another call to my niece Jeanie and her husband Curt and they met us there also.  We all arrived within 3 minutes of each other and were seated quickly.  The restaurant had 5 serving lines and one was devoted to mostly American food, so there was something for everyone.

We sat around and ate and talked for about 2 hours.  It was a very enjoyable visit with all of them and finally we had to leave.  Curt and Jeanie headed home and Dick & Sue came back to the motor home to see the unit and visit for a while.  Three hours later they left and went home and we hit the hay right after that.  Tired, but happy to see all of them. 

We needed an easy day and some rest so it was a perfect day for us.  We almost feel human again.

Jubelts bakery is on tap for breakfast on Saturday morning and I will let you know how that goes in the next blog.  Jubelts is an old bakery out of Mt. Olive, IL which has been around for years.  They were trying to sell the business since the owner/operators were well up there in age and were ready to retire.  I am not sure of the status now, since they may be closed.  If so, I will miss their great baked goodies.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Rough Road Ahead & Trip to Brazil

One thing you learn early on when RVing is that plans are made in jello. We had planned to leave on 9/11. We had company over the weekend and were glad to have seen Erin than leave on time and miss her. We had a great time visiting and getting caught up on what she has been doing.

We changed our plans to leave on 9/12 and were ready to go around noon. We aren't early risers and noon was fine with us. That is when the &^#* hit the fan as they say. We were all loaded and proceeded to back the motor home down the road to the meadow so we could turn around. Right off the bat we hit a small stump along side of the road and scratched the unit. Not bad, but not a good omen. Things went downhill fast after that. There were three small saplings (4inch) that prevented me from turning sooner and the motor home was all cockeyed half in the meadow and half in the road. Not room to maneuver the unit and I decided the trees had to go.

Out came the chain saw and I sharpened it so I could make fast work of the saplings. Then it wouldn't start. Oooops! Down to get our neighbor Ken to give me a hand with his chain saw. He came over quickly and we cut down the trees and shoved them back into the woods. Then I was able to get the unit turned around enough to get out of there; however, not before I had to trim some pine tree branches that were in the way.  Jack came up to lend a hand and we appreciated his help.

Of course this all took about 2+ hours and then we finally got out of there around 3:30pm and stopped to fuel up and were on our way. We had planned on stopping in Clayton, OH the first night, but only made it to Cabela's in Wheeling, WV, stopping around 10pm.

That was a trip to remember also since the exit off I-77 N onto I-70 West at Washington, PA was barricaded shut. We had to exit onto I-70 East in order to turn West. That entailed driving down to the next exit and turning around. They dropped us off on a miserable intersection with only a stop sign and there was a line of traffic waiting to make the turn. I thought that was going to be the title of the post, but it became secondary today.

We made it across Ohio fairly easily and fueled up at a Walmart where we bought a gift card first and took advantage of their 10 cent discount per gallon. It added up since we took on 75 gallons of diesel fuel. That was a big ouch in the wallet, but expected, so no real problem.

We chatted with an Ohio state trooper while filling up the motor home. He was a very nice young man and knew his job really well. Ohio recently lifted the speed limit on trucks to 65mph and I said that was great since I was tired of driving 55mph in the motor home as we crossed the state. Why, he said. We could have driven 65 years ago since the lower speed limit didn't apply to RVs. I wish I had known that 17 years ago!

Then it got interesting on the trip west. We got to Indiana and the roads there are terrible. It shook the motor home so much that my passenger side mirror started listing to the right. I had to stop and tighten the bolts to keep it upright. No big problem. The road was rough all the way to Indianapolis and then smoothed out for a while. That was when we saw the sign for 55 miles of road construction and to exit I-70 and take US 40 to save time. They were right. We came to a complete standstill and then took over 45 minutes to go one mile to an exit. We got off I-70 and continued on US 40 through Brazil, IN for 25 miles or so and tried to get back on. Ne deal, it was still a mess. Back to 40 and another 12 miles before we finally got above the backups. Then at the IN/IL border there was more construction that slowed us down! Once we got into Illinois it was smoother sailing to the campground.

Just another couple days in the life of RVers.

BTW: The Allegro Bus ran great and I was more than pleased with it's power getting up and down the mountains of Western MD & WV. More importantly, the engine brake exceeded all expectations with it's braking power. I hardly ever used the brake and we were in great shape. Love it!

P.S. Yes, BC stops were taken in between all the construction mess and rough roads. I have to set a good example for our FSILINC.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Enjoying the nice weather.

It has been so nice around here the last couple days that we don't want to leave.  Nice cool days and very cools nights.  We even had a fire going in the cabin in the morning to take the chill off on Monday.  Just a few days ago it was hot and humid and very uncomfortable.  I'll take the cool nights every time.

Our weekend guest, Erin, left yesterday afternoon and it was back to work for us.  Loading the motor home is a little more difficult this time because we have to find space for the various items.  We had the last motor home space laid out to a T after having it for 8 years.  We are almost 98% loaded and ready to go Wednesday morning.  Just a few last minute chores to finish and get settled in.  Yahoo!  

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Wine, Beer & Cool nights

Sunday's weather was beautiful up here on the mountain.  It was down in the low 50s early in the day and sunny with a few clouds floating by.  It was so nice out that we decided to take a ride around the area and show Erin the beautiful countryside.

We are in the midst of thousands of acres of orchards in this part of Pennsylvania and the apple trees are full and overflowing with yellow, red and green apples.  One of the group jumped out of the car and snitched two apples from a tree alongside the road.  I won't say who it was to protect the innocent.  

I made the mistake of driving past a sign for the Adams County winery and was out voted 2-1 to stop by and check the local wine.  It has a great reputation and we have stopped there often over the years and enjoyed the tasting room and the wine.  Since the Redskins were playing the Saints today and I was listening to it on the car radio, I stayed behind to protect the car.

Erin saw a work of art and was wondering how to get it shipped back to Park City and where to display it in her house.  Thankfully, she couldn't work it out or I would have been hauling this art around in the car.  What do you think, it this art or not?

She did find a great use for the art and really didn't want to leave it behind, so she emptied all the bottles.  Just kidding.  Gerry and Erin spent a lot of time carefully sampling the wines and Erin found two that she really liked and bought a bottle of each.  I think they may meet their demise in the next few days while she is at a Conference associated with work.

We have run across a number of speed limit signs recently that are for 6.5mph, 7.5, and today we found one for 12.5mph.  Who has a car that shows mph in .5 increments?   I don't think our GPS shows it that way either, but maybe there is something out there available so we don't break the law.

We capped off the day by stopping in my favorite bar and restaurant in Emmitsburg, MD.  It was Erin's first trip to the Ott House and she loved it.  We managed to finish off two pitchers of beer and then wobbled out of there.  It sure did make us sleepy afterward and we got to bed early for a change.


Another move & Airports

Way back in the 1970s I kept a small address book that I took everywhere with me.  It had all the names of friends, businesses, etc that I needed to have access to at a moments notice.  I had a previous address book and started it out by writing the addresses in ink so they wouldn't fade.  Bad move.  Actually, everyone started moving and the use of ink went out fast.  Pencil became the writing utensil of choice.  That worked for a while until the erasures started to mess up the pages.  Time for something different.

Finally, I had purchased a portable Compaq PC with dual floppies and a 9inch screen.  It also had 256kb of memory and it was the latest and fastest of the day.  It also weighed 35lbs and looked like a portable sewing machine.   I switched the pencil address book over to an address book on the PC.  Wow!   It didn't get much better than that.  Of course it ran on DOS and lasted me for a number of computers and years.  Finally when later versions of Windows OS came out I upgraded it once again and last year bought the version I am using now.

You must be wondering what this is all about as you are reading this.  I wish I could tell you that it will get more interesting, but that isn't the case.  

My grandson Jared did move this weekend for about the 5th time in the last 6 years.  Off to college dorms, houses, apartments, lived with brother until sister-in-law threw him out, etc.  He and two room mates have rented a nice home in south Charlotte, NC and should be there for a while.  In any case, his new address went into the computer address book today.  I entered it lightly since I know he will move once again soon.

Each time he moves we get a picture of Barbara and Jared in the new place of residence.  Today was not an exception as Henry sent me the picture below.  

Now this means we will be going to his new place on our next visit for a free dinner prepared by him.  It sure helps keep down the costs of meals and beer this way.  Congratulations Jared.  Henry, tell him I said so.

Gerry's niece Erin came into town for meetings this week at her place of work.  She flew Delta airlines and they were rerouted to Norfolk, VA because of bad weather in the DC area.  She sat in the plane there for over 2 hours and finally made it to Reagan National Airport.  The seat on her rental car was soaked since someone had left the windows down and there was a torrential downpour at the airport.  Back to the rental office she went and got another car.   She finally made it up to Cassie & Jack's home after 9pm and we had driven down to escort her to the cabin.  We visited for a while and when the cat fight started, we left.

Erin asked if it was warm at the cabin since it was so hot down in Norfolk and she was looking for cooler temps. Well, she got her wish.  It was down in the low to mid 50s last night up here and is cool enough to require long sleeves to stay comfortable.  Right up her alley since she lives in Park City, UT and it's cool there at night.

It looks like it will be a busy few days for us, just like the last few and I don't know how much blogging is going to occur.  

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Loading the motor home & Taylor's Birthday

Just in case anyone has the false impression that we live an exciting and interesting life all the time should have been up here the past 3-4 days and help us load the motor home for our upcoming venture out west.   We didn't completely unpack the mh, so it is a little easier this time.  The storage bays are also larger and that helps somewhat.  But the fact remains, the "stuff" still has to be carried out there and stored someplace where we can remember where we put it.

I've been watching the fuel costs spiral  upward the last couple weeks or so and am hoping that they have gouged us enough around Labor Day to satisfy their appetite for huge profits.   I am sure if the prices do go down, they won't fall as fast as they rose.

We were getting ready to leave on a trip right after 9/11/2001 and I was talking to a couple in a tire store who were from the state of Washington.  The woman was frantic and in panic mode to get out of the Washington, DC area before they bombed it.  She believed doomsday was just around the corner and she wanted to cut their dream trip short and head back as fast as they could.  I tried to reason with her and quickly saw that it was impossible for her to understand what was happening.  I felt sorry for her poor husband as they planned on driving the mh 600-700 miles a day to return.

We continued on our trip to Texas and then Las Vegas, NV as planned.  That was the last time I was able to purchase gas for $.89 gallon in San Antonio, TX.  WOW!   We never paid over $1.10/gal on the trip and there was plenty of gas available.  You might say a glut of gas and we really appreciated that on our 7,000 mile trip that fall.  

In any case, we will continue to travel as long as we can afford the fuel, campground fees and our health holds up.   Lots to see out there and we want to see it all.

Today is the birthday of Taylor Hagadorn ( grand daughter-in-law ) and we wanted to wish her a Happy Birthday.  Gerry made her a special birthday card and sent it a couple days ago. 

Barbara & Henry, Ed & Vicky (Taylor's parents), Taylor and Sean all went out to dinner this evening at Hawthornes in Mint Hill, NC to celebrate her birthday.  It looks like they had a great time from the picture Henry sent us.

Taylor, Henry, Barbara,Sean, Vicky & Ed

While they were celebrating without us, we had a nice dinner of steak, baked potatoes, corn on the cob and a nice salad.  A cold bottle of Blackstone Merlot set the meal off great.  

Of course, when I was grilling the steaks, the propane tank ran dry.  I had hoped to get through the summer with one tank, but it wasn't to be.  Thankfully, we have two extra tanks at the cabin and a quick switch over was in order.

Did I say I am stuffed to the gills?  Now, that's good eatin'!.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Fickle Pickle and Rain

We are continuing to work toward getting out of here on 9/11 and heading out west to Illinois for a class reunion and then on to the Balloon Fiesta.  It has been raining again and the rain forest around here is wet, wet and humid.  I hope the meadow dries out real soon so I can turn the motor home around and leave.  It's time to beat feet out of here.

We were having lunch today on the cabin's screened in porch and eagle eye Gerry spotted something in the meadow across from us.  There was a flock of wild turkeys feeding and moving through the meadow.  We counted between 8-10 birds and they didn't know we were there or weren't concerned about us and fed in the area for 45 minutes.  They appeared to be young birds and there wasn't a dominant bird in the flock.  I managed to get a couple shots from a long range and the quality is lacking somewhat.

 The post sticking up in the first two photos is the water well cap for our neighbor.  They placed it in the middle of the meadow for some reason.  I think they intended to build another cabin there and never got around to it.

The nice lunch we were having came from the Fickle Pickle sub shop up here on South Mountain.  Judy is the owner/operator/chief bottle washer at the shop and makes a great sub.  We like all the subs and it's a hard decision what to get when we go up there.  Stop by and tell her hello from us if you are ever in the area.  You can't miss the place, it is one of two businesses open on main street.

Cousin Sharon & Al have moved out of their house and are just waiting to leave Aurora in their 5th wheel.   They had another a/c installed and are very thankful they did so.  I was talking to him around 6:45pm his time and it was still 93 degrees there.  By contrast, it is in the mid 70s up here on the mountain.   Stay cool guys.

Now it is time to watch a movie and relax with a nice glass of wine.  See Ya!