Thursday, October 18, 2018

October 15 - 21, 2018, AZ

Monday, October 15.  The alarm went off at 7:30, we got up, got ready to roll, and headed west on I-40 by 9:30. There was some of that ugly white stuff coming out of the sky as we prepared to leave. Predictions were bad if we were heading to the east, but fortunately we were going west and the temps hit above 40 degrees once we got into Arizona.  By the time we got to our destination, Verde River RV Resort in Camp Verde, it was 65 degrees and sunny. Yippee!

We have both wanted to come here, as we had each been here in the past and they have spent the last year and a half doing a major reconstruction from the roads to the sites with new mechanicals,  the new pool, clubhouse, and fitness center, and several rental cottages.  During the reconstruction, they were able to retain almost all of the mature trees in the park.  As I sat outside enjoy not the sunshine, I remembered that it was one of our membership parks when Mike and I were here back in 2008.  

The wifi sucks and I'm not getting much of a cell signal either.

Wednesday, October 17. Yesterday was another rainy day, so we decided to take care of errands. Cottonwood, is about 15 miles away from here and has more amenities. We got groceries at Fry's for the first time in over 6 months and spent enough that Tom can get $.10 off/ gallon of gas at their station.  We also stopped to get a Papa Murphy's pizza for dinner, it's been several weeks and we were both kind of missing it.  The final stop was at CVS for my prescriptions. I was hoping to get a flu and the final shingles vaccines, but the lines were long and they didn't have the shingles shot.

When I got back home, I realized that I filled the wrong prescription, so ordered it and headed there this morning to pick it up. Once again, I thought I might get the flu shot but the lines were long again.  They are recommending that people get it ASAP as there are already more cases reported than at this time last year.

Monday, October 8, 2018

October 8 - 14, 2018, CO, NM

Monday, October 8.  On the road again...  We unhooked, hugged our wonderful hosts, and were on the road by 9:30.  The weather was not nice, a cold, misty 33 degrees, although it was no longer foggy.  We headed south on I-25 and once we turned west on US-160, we skirted the southern Rockies and the scenery became quite beautiful, except for a very long stretch of road where a forest fire had destroyed many of the beautiful trees.  The Aspens were in full fall color and contrasted with the evergreens, rocks, rippling rivers, and snow topped mountains, it all provided some beautiful views.

In Alamosa, we turned south on US 285 and then continued south on CO17 to Chama, NM.  Again, the scenery was gorgeous - complete with snow covered hillsides and clinging to the evergreen trees.  As we pulled into Chama at 7,000 feet there was snow hitting our windshields.  We settled in at the Twin Rivers RV Park ($25/night) for the next few days.

Wednesday, October 10.  What an adventure today was for us, starting with an alarm going off at 6:15 this morning. We scurried to have breakfast, walk and feed Frisco, and get to the  Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad station by 8:30.  We boarded a tour bus that took us on the same route to Antonito that we drove on Monday, although in the opposite direction. Only this time, we could enjoy the scenery in comfort with someone else doing the driving.  

The route is about 60 miles and as we went up in elevation, the temperatures went down and the roads started to get covered in snow.  On top of the mountain in the La Monga Pass, we came to a stop, with a bit of fish tailing before the complete stop. Our driver, who had driven in snow, but not since last year, assessed the situation and decided that he needed to put chains on, but he had no experience in doing so.  Several passengers got out to help and we were back on the road in about an hour.  The chains were only needed for about 2 miles, so we stopped again and they were removed.  We arrived in Antonito where there was no snow, an hour late but our train back to Chama was waiting for us.  

The train itself is considered to be America's longest and highest narrow gauge train, is designated as a National and State Registered Historic Site and a National Civil Engineering Landmark.

I don't think we could have gotten much more enjoyment from $100 than we did today. The train chugged, steamed, and tooted as we worked our way through valleys, around curves, over trestles, through tunnels, over gorges, up mountains, and across rivers with gorgeous tree lined hills and valleys to view.  Sometimes it was sunny, other times it was snowing like crazy and the ground and trees were covered in white.  The Aspens were colorful - from greens to yellow to gold and some were brown or naked.  We climbed about 2,000 feet and the highest point we reached was in Cumbres at 10,015 feet.

About half way through the route, we made a stop at Osier for lunch. It was well organized as individual orders were taken when we boarded the train and the options were for Soup and Salad, a complete turkey dinner (Tom's choice), or a complete meatloaf dinner (my choice). Tom and I were the first off our car and the first in line for our meal. It was all made from scratch and included beverages and dessert.  The break was only an hour because of our getting off to a late start.

The last half of the trip was a steep climb into snow covered Rocky Mountains with beautiful views of the Rio de Los Pinos river flowing through the valley below.  Some of the points of interest were:  Tanglefoot Curve, Cumbres, Windy Point, and the Lobato

Trestle before we approached Chama.  There was no longer snow on the ground, the skies were blue and the sun was shining.  It was 5:15 when we landed and we hurried him me to let Frisco out - the poor dog was inside for 10 hours - and there were no surprises when we arrived.  What a great and easy dog he is to have around.

Friday, October 12.  Not much to write about Thursday, as it was a cold, wet, gloomy day - all day long.  We did get a walk in and we went to the High Country Restaurant for dinner. I had a yummy cup of Green Chili Stew and some chicken wings and Tom opted for a burger smothered in green chili sauce.

Friday was the day to move on. The sun was out and the 38 degrees seemed much warmer than it actually was - and we were heading to Gallup, NM where it is expected to be a bit warmer.  We even had to run our cars with the defrost on, as our windshields were frozen.  We were hooked up and on the road by 9:30.

Heading straight west on US-64 to Farmington, the very scenic route took us through parts of the Carson National Forest.  We gassed up and then headed south on NM-371 and there wasn't much 'scenic' about it - a 100 mile stretch of nothing but high desert.  As we came through the town of Thoreau, we were right in the midst of the high school homecoming parade with folks lined up along both sides of the street.  I did get a glimpse of a guy being wrestled into a police car by 2 cops, while another guy was being held down on the ground by a cop.  Who knows what the story behind that was?

We arrived at our destination, the USA RV Park ($35/night) in Gallup, NM where we will stay until Monday - the 3-day hop continues. This park is so nice with spacious, level sites, friendly staff, nice facilities and to top it off - a yummy pulled pork sandwich and bag of chips for $5 - no wonder we keep coming back here.

Saturday, October 13.  Today begins the 2nd year of our relationship - it all started when we were settled in at Joyce and Burrall's Shady Rest a year ago today.  I have to admit that it has been a roller coaster ride at times but we are both willing to hold on and enjoy  and to make it a good life for each other. 

Tom did some research and found a nice hike for us today at Red Rock State Park.  We parked the car and headed out on the Church Rock Trail and it ended up being 2.5 miles out and back. The trail was rugged, sometimes quite narrow, with some steps constructed out of beams and some were carved out right in the rockstar it wound and twisted along a canyon. The final part of the trail that got close to the featured rock formation was a bit sketchy, Frisco was slipping a bit, and we decided not to risk it and turned back.   We took the dry riverbed that paralleled the trail for part of the return trip.  We both imagined how nasty it would be if the ground was wet.

We also went to the Gallup Flea Market and found lots of junk - cheap jewelry, blankets, auto parts, tools, some produce, Native American foods (fry bread, mutton, green chiles, pine nuts), and there was even hay and feed for cattle across the street. 

Tonight, we went out for a Mexican dinner, starting at El Charrito, but we left there when we learned that we couldn't have a Cerveza or Margarita with our dinner. A bit closer to home and 4.1 stars was Virgie Restaurant and Lounge and we were glad that we ended up there.  Early on, we had a bit of reservation about going there because it is located in between an adult book store and a Chinese massage joint.

Our waitress was friendly, drinks were good, and the food was delicious - what more could you ask for?  The only negative was vendors coming to the table to sell their cheap jewelry - it gave me an uncomfortable feeling and I didn't feel it was appropriate to interrupt my dinner experience with a sales pitch.  One little girl (about 8 years old) told us that she wanted to earn some money so she could shop at the new Hobby Lobby store in town.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

October 1 - 7, 2018, KS, CO

Monday, October 1.  Today's drive along US Hwy 40 and CO 94 took us through the barren lands of Kansas and Colorado (about 225 miles), the terrain was nothing like what we had seen in the north eastern part of the state.  There wasn't a gas station along the 70 mile stretch on 94, and not much else either.  We finally found gas at Ellicott, about 20 miles from Joyce and Burrall's house.

We got settled and when Joyce got home, we caught up on lost time, then when Burrell got home, we talked some more and then headed in to Colorado Springs for dinner at Chili's.  I had a yummy sirloin, topped with roasted avocado (never heard of it before) mixed green salad, and roasted tomato and garlic.

Wednesday, October 3.  It's been nice hanging out here, such a beautiful place with views of the Rocky Mountains, Aspen trees fluttering in the wind, Jackrabbits hopping around on the grassy plain, and the temperatures have been decent. In fact, a high of 85 degrees today was welcome.  It's not going to stay though, as it will be pretty cold until we get to AJ.

Yesterday, I got the itch to do some 'me' shopping, so I headed to Colorado Springs to browse Tuesday Morning, Ross, Marshalls, and TJMax. A little shopping therapy is always good for the soul.

Tom, Joyce, and I also did some shopping today, driving 60 miles to the IKEA store in Centennial to get the duvet cover that we had picked out back in August at the Minneapolis store but was out of stock.

The sunset was gorgeous tonight and we stood out  on the taxiway and watched it with Joyce and Burrall.   The dark cloud with lightening streaks that was hanging over us ended up giving us some much needed rain - probably not enough, as the area has been in a 3-year drought.  After our walk, we watched the movie, "Open Range" with Robert Duvall,  Kevin Costner, and Annette Benning with them. We have all seen it before but it was just as good this time around and it sure was nice to sit on a cushy sofa in front of a big screen TV for a change.

Thursday, October 4. Happy Birthday to my sweet brother, Bob!  

Brrrrrr! It is cold and windy outside today and my morning walk with Frisco was not nice. The wind hitting my face was so cold that my eyes were watering.  Later on, when Tom and I walked, it wasn't much better.  It was supposed to hit 65 but that didn't happen until 3:00.  

We spent the day doing house cleaning, airing out the rugs, laundry, and Tom helped Joyce with a gardening project.  When our chores were done, we went grocery shopping and that project took 2 hours, although the list wasn't all that long.  Safeway chicken was our dinner tonight.

After dinner, we joined Joyce and Burrall and watched Big Bang and Little Sheldon with no commercials - very nice!

Sunday, October 7. Happy 5th Birthday to my beautiful twin Granddaughters, Camille and Norah. I regret that I cannot be there to celebrate with them this year. Instead, I will be celebrating with Tom's lovely sister, Joyce.  Also, it's Happy 40th Anniversary to my brother Bob and his lovely wife, Penny. Many good things have happened on this day!

   Camille and her rainbow birthday cake.

   Norah and her unicorn birthday cake

Friday was a beautiful, sunny day and we spent it hanging around, went for a nice walk, and enjoyed the warmth.  It was predicted to make a drastic change later in the afternoon, and it did. It got cold and very, very windy.

We took Joyce and Burrell to Biaggi's Italian restaurant to celebrate their birthdays and we had a lovely dinner, good wine, a dessert to share, and lots of fun conversation.

It was about 40 degrees out when we got up on Saturday morning - BRRRRRRR! The wind wasn't quite as bad as the night before. We were trying to come up with something to do - there were no movies playing that we were interested in seeing, so we decided to bundle up and head out for a hike.  Joyce knew of a place nearby, so we headed to Homestead Ranch Park and had a nice 2+mile hike. The wind was still brisk but it was comfortable once we got moving and were not facing into the wind. The hiking path took us up into some rocky hills that were covered with Pine trees - beautiful Colorado.

    We climbed down this rocky hillside after missing the path that led back to the parking lot.

We mapped out our route to our next stop at Chama, NM where we will spend the next 4 days and take a tour on the Cumbres and Toltec Railway that goes from Chama by tour bus through the mountains to Antonito, CO and back by train with a stop for lunch along the way.  The problem is - weather.  A snow advisory is in effect for the mountaintops and we will be driving through some passes, the highest being around 10,000 feet. Burrall tells us that we should be all right, as these areas are not known for having extreme weather or road conditions.  We will be watching it and can always change our plans, if needed.

After dinner, we played a game of Scrabble and one of Farkel. A very nice day!

It was another cold one this morning, 37 degrees, but the wind was gone and the fog blocked our view of the mountains, but it sure felt a lot warmer.

We had a few items to get in town - I forgot dog food earlier in the week and Tom needed a stocking cap to keep his head warm and I needed some wool socks to keep my feet warm, so we took care of that this morning.

Monday, September 24, 2018

September 24 - 30, 2018, MO, KS

Monday, September 24.  I have not had good wi-if, so my photos have not loaded and I have been unable to post any of them - they will be added as soon as I have good wi-fi.  

We had one more opportunity to see Rita, Denny, and Bob this morning when we met up with them at First Watch for breakfast.

After we said goodbye, we headed to the KC City Market and the Arabia Steamboat Museum. I had been there before but I knew Tom would enjoy it and I enjoyed it the 2nd time around - a fascinating story and collection of artifacts.  Check it out n their website

Back home, we started to prepare for tomorrow's drive. I cleaned and rolled under the rug while Tom hooked up the trailer. The rest of the stuff is last minute and will be done in the morning. We're hoping for a 9:00 start.

Tuesday, September 25. We were hooked up, secured, and on the road by 9:00 - we made our goal!  I've been dragging butt all day long, since I tossed and turned and didn't sleep much until after 3am this morning.

Our destination was a distance of about 245 miles to  Lucas, KS. We chose this place because we read an article in the travel section of the Minneapolis newspaper and  because it is listed on Atlas Obscura as a folk art attraction, known for the Garden of Eden, the World's Largest Collection of Smallest Versions of Largest Things, and the Bowl Plaza, an artsy public restroom shaped like the largest John.  

What else is there to do when you are on a 3-day hop plan? We like to settle in and not have to move immediately after a long day's drive, thus, the 3-day hop.

Wednesday, September 26.  After a leisurely breakfast, we walked to town to see some of the attractions, starting with the Grassroots Art Center whose mission is to educate, exhibit, document, and preserve folk art works from the area.  We didn't take the tour, but were able to see many examples of items that were made by local artists and were for sale.

As we walked the streets to the Garden of Eden, we saw many examples of local art decorating store fronts, benches, and light poles.  We did take the tour of the Garden of Eden and a very interesting story it was.  Samuel Dinsmoor started building his visionary home at the age of 64 in 1907. It took him 22 years to complete the home and park. He always intended to have it open to the public as a museum.  It is constructed from logs cut from local limestone in a log cabin pattern.  The house has 11 rooms with beautiful, ornate woodwork - every door and window are a different size. Basement stairs and windowsills are all constructed of concrete, as are the porches, railings, and trim on the porches.  The yard is full of ornate concrete trees with statues from the Bible and political references, including a concrete American flag with 48 stars.  Dinsmoor was a Populist politician and believed that everyone should have a platform to be heard and respected and was against big business and monopolies.

Mr. Dinsmoor and his wife are entombed on the property and we actually visited him in his glass-topped coffin.  He built his casket of concrete and requested that the local masons follow his final wishes - no religious ceremonies, only to be placed in the tomb that he built for this purpose.  He was pretty gnarly looking, as a small crack was discovered in the outer glass panel and allowed exposure to air and humidity and the body started to deteriorate and mold.  

Across the street, on a small fenced lot, was the sculpture garden of Roy and Clara Miller. The garden was started as a rest area for weary travelers along Highway 18 and for the citizens of Lucas and all of the sculptures were later moved to this location. They collected unusual rocks in their travels and constructed miniatures of the town's buildings and cone shaped towers for the gardens.

We walked on to Main Street and visited the Public Restroom (Bowl Plaza, because it is shaped like a toilet bowl).  The interior is covered with beautiful mosaics, masculine in the men's room and feminine touches in the women's - very tasteful and nice. The adjacent gardens are the American Fork Art sculptures.

Our last stop, at Brants Market, has been in the same family for generations, where we bought bologna and sausage made from old family recipes passed down through the ages and also a couple of local cheeses.

Thursday, September 27.  Today was to be a driving tour, so again, we took our time getting ready this morning and were on the road by 11:00, heading south on the Post Rock Scenic Byway to Wilson State Park.  Early settlers used the native limestone to cut fence posts and building materials, since there were few trees around.  The limestone is chalky but hardens as it ages, thus making for sturdy structures.  The roadsides are lined with the fence posts all along the way.

We meandered around the park, checking out campgrounds and looking for a hiking trail.  When we finally found the Dakota Trail, it was only about a half-mile long, much of it in disrepair.  The views of Wilson Lake and the surrounding hillsides were beautiful.  Whoever said that Kansas is flat has never been through the Flint Hills or to this area. And that is exactly why we like to get off the beaten path and avoid the interstate highways.  There is always something to see and do wherever you go.

We were both hungry, so stopped at the K18 cafe and had a nice lunch, then filled up with gas and headed back home to relax.

Sunday, September 30.  On Friday morning, we left Lucas and headed west on KS-18, connected with US 24 then south on US 83 to Oakley and the High Plains RV Resort ($40/nite with our Good Sam discount) where we will stay until Monday.  The place is not even close to being a resort but is more like a dried up parking lot - clean and neat but not a resort.  

They bragged up their restaurant, Cap'n Jack's Pub, that is right on the grounds, so we tried that out on Friday night.  I wasn't impressed - went for the fish and chips and the fish was so overlooked that I had to cut it with a knife. As we were eating, I saw the cook go to a freezer and pull out a slab of fish - no wonder the breading got tough - it had to deep fry long enough to cook the fish. Yuck!  Another reason that I wasn't impressed was that the only fresh item on the menu was a Caesar Salad - not even a piece of celery with my Bloody Mary or a slice of lemon with our fish.  Oh, well - deep fried food must be what folks eat around here.

Yesterday, we toured The Buffalo Bill Cultural Center, a brand new facility with nice exhibits and a very friendly attendant who we talked to for quite a while. It was so cold, standing in the wind to check out the Buffalo Bill Sculpture out in front of the building.  The sculpture depicts the "Birthplace of the Legend" - where the title of Buffalo Bill came to William Cody when he killed more Buffalo than William Brigham did in a contest.

Our next stop was the Fick Fossil and History Museum that houses the personal collection of fossils, artifacts, dinosaur bones, and artwork of Vi and Earnest Fick. largest item in the collection is the Xiphactinus Audax, a 15-foot long prehistoric fish. There is the skull of a 30-foot marine reptile, a sod house, and lots of other historic and art displays.

The plan for today was to hike the trails at the Smoky Valley Ranch, but it was 45 degrees, drizzling and a cold wind was blowing.  Plan B was to drive to Monument Rocks, an area south of here that was formed from deposits remaining from the Western Interior Seaway (a huge area through the middle of the country that was covered in ocean during prehistoric times).  The formations of chalk are covered in fossils of shells and we were told we might even find sharks teeth on the ground, but that didn't play out.

On our way back home, we stopped at the Keystone Gallery where a couple has a collection of several fossils that they have found nearby.  Again, an amazing exhibit.

Monday, September 17, 2018

September 17 - 23, 2018, IL, MO

Monday, September 17.  It was a nice drive today, heading south through Western Illinois on US 67 and then south on MO 19, once we crossed the Mississippi River at Hannibal.  The sky was all blue for much of the way, then a few puffy clouds. There are signs of fall in the trees and the fields of corn and soybeans are brown and in the process of harvesting.  The highlights of the drive were crossing 'Tom's Creek' twice and the 'Salt River' that actually had lots of water flowing (unlike the trickle of that of Arizona near Tempe).

We checked into Lazy Day RV Park, after a rough detour due to the road being closed at the exit on I70 (fortunately we were warned on their website and on the phone).  I believe this is THE NICEST RV park that I have ever stayed at.  It is clean, well groomed with lots of artistic touches, spacious level RV sites, giant majestic Oak trees, all tree stumps are artistic carvings, few peaty insects, and the staff is very friendly.  After dinner, I actually sat outdoors for over an hour without getting a mosquito bite.

Wednesday, September 19.  Yesterday was 'hang around the campsite day' for me, but Tom had to go to Columbia to buy a couple of tires.  He was hoping the trailer tires would make it back to AZ or at least as far as Joyce's place in Peyton, CO, but they were causing him to worry ever since he discovered the problem when we left Wisconsin.

I spent the morning doing housecleaning and laundry and just enjoying a day without having to go anywhere.  After dinner, we headed on the trail that led down a hill to a lake. The sky was a dark grey and you could hear thunder off in the distance and it started to rain just as we were getting back home, but we did make it all the way down to see the lake, not a house in sight and the water looked cool and clear.

Today was the day to visit Missouri's wine country and we headed to Hermann after having breakfast and walking Frisco.  The drive took us through some beautiful country, with tree covered hills, down into valleys, and then to the Missouri River and the historic town of Hermann, the wine capital of Missouri.  The town of abut 2,500 people was settled by German immigrants and when they realized it wasn't good farm land, they started to grow grapes and produce wine.  There are more than 100 historic buildings that are on the National Historic Register and many of them are businesses and house restaurants, wineries, distilleries and breweries.  There were too many to choose from, so we stopped at the Visitor Center and got a few tips from the friendly lady behind the counter.

We started with a walking tour around the streets and then; sampled cheese and sausage and took the self guided tour at Hermannhof Winery, had a beer at the Tin Mill Brewing Company, a sampling of Vodka and Whiskey at the Black Shire Distillery, had the Best of the Wurst bratwurst, red cabbage and German Potato salad at the Wurst 

House, and topped the day off with wine tasting and a guided tour of the Stone Hill Winery.

The Stone Hill Winery is the oldest Winery in the area (since 1847), it sits on a hillside right in town and produces 300,000 gallons of wine each year, and has earned many awards, including international awards.  I thought their sweet wines were the best and I really liked the sparkling 'Blanc de Blanc'. Our final taste was the Concord and Moscato mixed together and that is what we walked out of there with.

Our tour guide was very informative and easy to listen to. She took us into the cellars where the temperature dropped several degrees and the damp walls were built from local stone and the ceilings were curved brick, all were covered with a black film that was mold and yeast (from pores that escape during the mixing process).  Around 1900, the Winery was producing 1,250,000 gallons of wine a year.  During prohibition, the Winery was used for growing mushrooms and then was re-opened in 1965 as a Winery.

Saturday, September 22.  As I was securing things in the trailer this morning, a bowl slipped out of my hands, knocked the coffee pot into the sink and it broke in many pieces. Fortunately, most of it was in the sink and it didn't make too much of a mess.

Tom and I arrived at the Lake Jacomo Campground in Lee's Summit, MO on Thursday afternoon so we could help Bob and Penny prepare for the Celebration of Life that they are hosting for my brother, Rick, who passed away March 26 of this year.  It was HOT when we arrived and we were both sweaty and a bit irritable after getting set up.  We needed to get a few groceries and a replacement for the coffee pot, so headed off to the nearest Walmart that was out of the coffee pot we wanted, so we drove to the another Walmart and we would be able to have coffee the next morning- I don't function very well without it.

Penny picked me up on Friday morning and we set out for Costco and Walmart to get supplies for tomorrow's event.  Later that evening, we had dinner with them and also Rita and Denny at their house.

     My lovely sisters  Rene, Rita, and I

     My siblings - Bob, Randy, Ron, Rita, Rene, and I

     My guy and I

     The Whole Gang - out of focus, but it captures the moment.

When I walked Frisco this morning, I noticed a mowed path leading into the woods, so after waking up with coffee and breakfast, we walked that path. It led us to a narrow, wooded path leading in 2 directions. We chose the path that went to the right and it was a nice 1-mile hike that meandered down to the lake and then we took the road back to the campground.

About 30 family members showed up to remember and celebrate Rick's life. His daughter Monica and her husband Loren joined us from Phoenix and she put together a very nice slideshow of photos and had some of his favorite blues music playing in the background. The children of my nieces and neohews, ranging in age from 2 to 10, ran around and played in the yard while the adults mingled and visited.  We feasted on BBQ, beans, salads, and chips for dinner, that was followed by a few people sharing stories, jokes, and toasting Rick with a shot of Irish Whiskey. Once it got dark, we had a huge bonfire and told more stories, goofed-off, and had fun. The crowd had thinned out and all was quiet by about 10:00 and we headed home.

Sunday, September 23. Our plan was to take it easy today and w did a pretty good job of it.  Randy, Julie, and Lanae stopped by on their way but of town for a short visit.  

After they left, we decided to go for a walk and took the path that led to the left today. It turns out that it is called the Prickly Pear Trail and was a 1.5 mile loop.  Since we started before we hit the loop trail, our walk ended up being about 2 miles. We were all getting tired by then, so it ended just in time. We saw a few interesting things on our walk - 3 exterior walls of a building constructed of local stone and concrete pilings for posts, a rusted old front end of a car including the grill, bumper and empty headlight holes, and a dead tree trunk that was covered with clusters of 3-5" thorns (turns out that it is a Honey Locust Thorn Tree).

And then Stella, Josh, Barley, and Ron came by for a visit. It was nice because we really didn't get much of a chance to visit yesterday. Those large gatherings are always nice but you only get short snippets of time with everyone.

Monday, September 10, 2018

September 10 - 16, 2018, WI, IL

Monday, September 9.  When I woke us the morning, I got to thinking that this should be the day to go visit my cousin, Donna. She is 87 years old and has had a rough year after breaking her hip, falling and re-breaking her hip, and then developing an infection that has had her down for the last 6 months.  So Jonnie and I went up there and spent a couple of hours with her and had a wonderful visit - lots of reminiscing and discussion about how fortunate we have been in our lives to have such a large circle of family that has stayed connected through the years.

Thursday, September 12.  Whew! It has been a busy week of visiting with friends and family from morning until night.

Tom and I walked the Yahara River Trail on Tuesday morning without getting bit up too bad by mosquitoes. They have been awful here this last week.

    A gnarly tree stum on the Yahara River Trail

I was lucky to be in town for the monthly classmate gathering at Culver's, as Pam calls it 'the 66 girls' meetup.  Nine of us showed up this time (Pam, Jerry, Virginia, Georgia, Pat, Mary, Judy, Bonnie, and me) and we discussed the latest health issues, folks who have died, who has seen or heard from other classmates, who has boyfriends (both Pam and I), who would like to have a boyfriend, and who doesn't want anything to do with them, and just general topics and lots to laugh about.  After that meet-up, I met Doug at the Nauti-Norske for a beer and a good chat. It's always nice to see old friends when I get back to town.

I went back to the campground, picked up Tom and Frisco and we headed to Pat and Tracey's house for Papa Murphy's pizza for dinner and lots of story telling.

On Wednesday morning when I was walking Frisco, I met up with Sue and we walked together, deciding that we were running out of time and just had to get together once more before we part ways until we see each other again in Arizona in February.  So, after Tom and I got our laundry chores out of the way, we headed to their site and sat around talking for a couple of hours.

I went to see Fran after that but she wasn't feeling the greatest, so we had a very brief visit, but I just wouldn't feel right if I didn't get to see her while I was in town, after all she is my oldest living cousin - and I love her!

I really wanted to have Walleye for dinner one more time before leaving the area, so Tom and I went to Banushi's Bar and Grill.  Unfortunately, I had to send my fish back to the kitchen because it was undercooked.  It was very tasty and enjoyable in spite of that.  

As we were leaving the restaurant, I got a text from Dawn and she wanted to get together, so she came out to the campground. I scrounged up some firewood from fire pits at other vacant sites and we had a nice fire, some wine, and lots of great conversation.  The stars were bright and beautiful and we even watched the International Space Center fly across the horizon.

Today was another full day, starting with a meet-up with Mike's family - Tom, Karen, Sharon, and Becky at the Breakwater in Monona.  Lunch was good and the conversation was even better.  

And then we had dinner at Pat and Tracey's again tonight. Pat grilled steaks and Tom and I picked up a couple of salads and we had a great time.  We could have talked into the night, but tomorrow is an early day for all of us.  We got in some good hugs, as they have to last until next summer. I don't like saying goodbye.

And tomorrow we start our trek back to Arizona, but with lots of stops in between.

Friday, September 14.  Goodbye Wisconsin and Minnesota - until next year. 

A first - we said we were leaving at 9:00 and we DID! Up at 7am, trailer was already hooked up, and we hit the road.  I had a bit of a sinking feeling when I called the Buffalo Shores Campground at our first stop at the rest area near Dubuque and they told me they were pretty full and there were only a few sites left.  Also, Tom did his usual check to see if everything was all right with the trailer and found a bad spot on one of the tires.  I was impressed at how quickly and efficiently he took care of business and exchanged the bad tire with the good spare.  I guess I shouldn't be surprised as he spent his life doing those things.

As we got closer to Davenport, I called the campground again and they had no sites.  We pulled over and looked at the 'Plan B' options and got 1 of the last 2 sites available at the KOA in Rock Island, IL.  It is 85 degrees and this is the last weekend that the pool is open, so it may end up being a good choice. We have a nice, concrete slab site and I didn't notice any insects as we hooked up.

Saturday, September 15.  The last thing I wanted to do this morning was to get up early and I was quite satisfied with a full night of sleep that lasted until 9am this morning.

We took our time and reviewed some of the literature we got from the park and decided to go see the Celtic Games in Centennial Park in Davenport and were glad that we did.  We wandered the grounds and checked out the information booths where you could get ancestry information, watch demonstrations of 'old' crafts such as tin smithing, black smithing, weaving, knitting, chain mail and others.

Competitions were ongoing - and we watched lots of strong men and women dressed in kilts throwing heavy objects over poles that kept getting higher and higher, some competitions were measured for distance like the giant telephone poles that had to be hoisted and thrown end-to-end. Whatever - they all took strength and momentum. The air was filled with the sounds of bagpipes.

We grabbed a couple of Cornish Pasties and a glass of Smithwicks (pronounced Smiddicks), found a shady spot to sit, and watched some hornpipe dancing and Highland fling dancing - it brought back memories of Rene and Bob doing the Highland fling as taught by the Irish Nuns when they went to St. Ann's Elementary School in Stoughton.

Sunday, September 16.  Another sloooow start to the day and when I walked Frisco around 9:30, I realized that this park is almost empty already. That is the way with the KOA Campgrounds.

This afternoon, we headed to Wildcat Den State Park because there was a Buckskinner's Rendezvous going on.  It has been many, many years since I have been to one and it brought back many memories for me: loading and shooting Mike's black powder guns, tomahawk throwing, drinking moonshine, smoking kinnickinic, shopping for primitive tools and jewelry, and wandering around and talking with the buckskinners.

Going back in my history- Mike was a black powder enthusiast for several years, owned a flintlock rifle and a 45 caliber pistol. We did a lot of target shooting, bullet making, cloth cutting, and powder measuring and I must say that I was a pretty good at loading and hitting the targets.

Apparently most of the competitions were done on Friday and Saturday, as today was pretty quiet. We strolled around the encampment and then walked one of the hiking trails. It is a beautiful park with giant old Oak trees that provided lots of shade and a very nice setting for the rendezvous.