Monday, September 29, 2014

September 29 - 30, 2014, MO, OK

Monday, September 29.  I was on the road around 9:00 and was settled in at the KOA in Claremore, OK  by about 2:30.  That is about all of the driving I can take in one day and I have decided to hop from one KOA to the next.  They cost a little more (about $35/day), but are very dependable as far as consistency - and that includes safety.  This one sits next to the Cherokee Casino and I took a stroll over there and donated a quick $20.00.

Tuesday, September 30.  I only drove 235 miles today, as the winds picked up and it just made the little "Pipsqueak" move around more than I was comfortable with.  It seems like that is a good day for me, even though it is only about 4 hours.  I think it is better to just take my time and not get road weary.  The KOA at Elk City is very nice, although the buildings are a bit dated, they are very clean and I have a shady spot.

Hanging out with the big guys.

The sunset was gorgeous tonight! Doesn't it look like a Mama and baby elephant running?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

September 22 - 28, 2014, MN and MO

Monday, September 22.  I woke up to this cute voice saying, "Grandma, it's day time" at about 7:30 this morning and the pace hasn't slowed until just now, 8:15 pm.  After breakfast, we took a hike down a beautiful wooded path, spotting a cute little frog hopping across the path, and ended up at Lake Independence.  We walked out on the dock and talked to a fisherman and just ran and played for a bit before hearing back to the campsite for a snack and lunch.

This afternoon, I gave her the choice of going to the playground or back to the beach and her choice was the beach.  We rolled up our pant legs and played along the shore for an hour before heading back home.  

I wanted to reward her great behavior with an ice cream but after stopping for gas about 3 miles from the campground, she was asleep in her car seat.  We did stop just before getting back home and she was happy about that.  She became instantly cranky when we walked back in her house - whiny, cranky, demanding, and even having to have a couple of timeouts.  

Jill made a delicious lasagna for dinner and some blueberry crunch with ice cream for dinner.  

Tuesday, September 23.  Today is the 47th anniversary of the day that Mike and I became engaged.  I know it is strange, but as I was driving from Minneapolis to my camping destination near 
Des Moines today, I really felt his presence in the seat next to me (yes, he was sleeping).  I sure miss him and wish that our lives together could have lasted a lot longer.  In spite of having to go solo though, I am still enjoying my life and hope that the adventure continues.

It seemed like a long drive today and I guess that 265 miles at 60-65 mph is pretty long.  I had started out thinking that I would stop at Clear Lake, IA for the night but that was only 2.5 hours out of Minneapolis, so I continued on.  I went 10 miles west of Webster City but didn't feel comfortable there, then checked out an RV park in Story City and didn't feel comfortable there either (too many permanent sites), so a KOA just west of Des Moines is where I stopped for the night.  It would have cost me $35 for the night but I bought a bottle of Iowa wine for $15, only to find that I have no wine opener with me.  No problem, I have vodka and tonic, so will save that wine to drink with Rita tomorrow night.

Also just realized - I'm on my own.  No sons, grandkids, daughters-in-law, or friends around.  It's going to be a long, quiet night with just me and my buddy Frisco.  I love you all!

Wednesday, September 24.  It started raining in the wee hours of the morning and didn't stop.  It was a rough night, with only about 3 hours of sleep because of the 2 guys in the RV that pulled in next to me around 8:30 last night.  I kept hearing doors closing, heavy footsteps, discussions while they setup (it took hours), thumping around inside, and when I peeked out my window around 3:00, their lights were still on.  I took Frisco out in the pouring rain this morning - now I'm soaked and had to change clothes before taking off.  I was going to empty my tanks but was missing a critical part and the office/store wasn't open, so I hit the road around 8:30.

I drove through rain off and on until I got to Rita's house in Blue Springs.  Boy, does it feel good to have her arms around me once more.  We chatted, got me settled, and headed off to have pedicures - what a wonderful treat!  Denny was home when we got back and we had a yummy pot roast dinner, some welcome cocktails, and a very relaxing evening.

Thursday, September 25.  Denny headed off to work and Rita and I took our time getting ready for the day.  We both needed a pair of jeans, so off we went to the mall and we both got lucky.  I found a pair of $60 jeans on sale for $17 - you can't beat that!

We had some lunch and headed out to Cockrell Mercantile - a historic community where all of the buildings have been converted to shops with cooking related products - one has nothing but Fiesta Ware.  I never knew there were so many options - and the stuff is pricey!  This is a regular stop when I come here.

This afternoon, I followed Denny to an RV repair technician that he knows and the guy walked me through the items on my list that weren't working on the trailer or I didn't know how to work them. After 15 minutes and $60, we were heading back home and I had the answers that I needed.  Water leaks in my toilet and water heater were caused because I didn't have a pressure regulator on my hose.  My refrigerator was not working on battery power because I was turning off the master switch for the power.  My shower was not draining and I assumed it might be a problem draining into the holding tank - it doesn't go to a tank, but drains directly out where a hose can be connected and it can run straight to o the sewer - or on the ground (if no one is watching).  I am very relieved that nothing is broken - and I now understand how they work.  Thanks to Walks and his connections!

We stopped by Bob and Penny's this evening because they had their grandkids and I hadn't met little Harlow, who was born on Mike's birthday last year.  She is a doll and big brother Lincoln has really grown and is quite the chatterbox - full of stories of his imaginary family.

Friday, September 26.  I moved in to Bob's house this morning. He wasn't home when I got there, so I practiced backing up in his driveway a few times - I'm getting better!  When Bob got back, we went to a nearby car wash and cleaned up my car and the trailer, they both really needed a bath.  I got settled in at the spot where Mike and I parked the motorhome whenever we visited, another place that brings back so many memories of our wonderful times together.

Penny got off work at noon, so we went to the Canoe Club for one of their yummy fish tacos, then she and I headed off to Costco to get supplies for a family gathering and bonfire tomorrow night.

Sunday, September 28.  Bob and I are sitting here relaxing - company is gone and the Packer game is on - quiet.  

Our Saturday started with coffee and the we headed to Lincoln's soccer game - those little 4-year olds ar so cute!

We then went back home and began to get ready for a family gathering and bonfire tonight.  Randy was the first to arrive, he and his son Ryan rode their Harleys up from Springfield but Ryan had a previous commitment with friends.  Christel, Josh, and Barley came next and set up a tent in the back 40 so they didn't have to drive home later.  Then Amber and Joel arrived with Lincoln and Harlow, followed by Aaron and Olivia and then Brittany.  When Rita and Denny got there, our group was complete and the party began - we ate, played, talked and drank beer for the next few hours.  The 3 little ones had so much fun together!  Aaron brought glow-in-the-dark loops and they had a ball with them, they got rides in the wagon pulled behind the ATV, and they ran and played with the wagon a lot.

Lincoln, Olivia, and Barley

Bob started the fire and we had to stand way back, as the flames shot up at least 20 feet.  He and the neighbors have been building the burn pile since the spring.

This morning, I got to go on a motorcycle ride through some pretty back roads with Randy. It's been a long time since I've done that, and I really enjoyed it.  We cleaned up from last night, Penny made biscuits and gravy, Rita and Ryan came by, and we hung out it was time for everyone to head back home.  

Rita, Denny, Christel, and Brittany

Papa Bob annd Harlow

Rita and I

Randy and I

Ryan, Bob, Rita, Me, Brittany, and Randy

I fixed Zuppa Tuscano for dinner tonight and Penny's Mom, Norma joined us.  It was good to see that she has fully recovered from a fall last November that kept her in recovery mode for several months.  My soup was a big hit.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

September 15 - 21, 2014, MN

Monday, September 15.  I spent the day on Sunday just hanging around the RV park.  It was as beautiful day, so I got a nice walk in and had another enjoyable campfire.  While sitting at the campfire, I happened to notice that the spare tire on the trailer that is mounted underneath, seemed to be crooked.  When I checked, it was loose, just wobbling around under there, so I got out the manual and figured out how to tighten it back up - guess that's another of those things to add to the checklist before taking off.  This is, indeed, an educational experience.

I got disconnected and ready for take off - in the rain.  I heard it start raining around 3:30 am and it let up but didn't stop at all.  Yes, I got soaked but was on the road by 8:30.  I drove through some beautiful country - rolling hillsides that could be seen for miles, and several Amish horse and carriages with people wearing straw hats and were all huddled up, trying to stay dry.  The rain continued until I got to Rochester, where I stopped to check on a replacement for my missing vent cover. No, they couldn't find it listed in their catalogs.

I drove on to Ben's house and got quite the reception from the twins.  Norah smiled at me but stayed where she was.  Camille had big smiles, started yelling and raised her arms for me to pick her up.  I then got a great big hug and she stuck like glue for about an hour.  I walked to Charlotte's school to pick her up and she was happy to see me and very talkative on the way home.  I learned about her friend, Pearl, how she hurt her leg at Aunt Jan's cabin, and how much she likes her room.  Ben and Jill are making progress with the new house; the kitchen is finished, several rooms are now painted, the garage is painted, the old fence has been torn down, and the stone border around one of the trees in the back yard has been disassembled in preparation for the tree to be removed (it is damaged and some of it hangs over the house).  They are busy folks, for sure.

Tonight, when Charlotte and I were going up the stairs for bedtime stories, she turned back and signed to her Mom, I Love You, by pointing to her eye, touching her heart, and pointing to Jill.  When we got to her room, she told me that "nonverbal communication means that you don't use words or sounds". She is 3 years old - and I'm proud to say she's a smart one too.

I keep trying to get pictures but these kids never sit still.

Wednesday, September 17.  Once again, the days are filled with activity and the rewards of baby laughter, cries, feeding frenzies, story times, imaginary friends, and then there has been a couple of not-so-rewarding tantrums by Charlotte.  Most of the time she is lots of fun to be around and she is learning so much so fast.  I taught her how to play "Go Fish" today and she caught on quickly and did pretty good at following the rules.

This afternoon Jill and I and the kiddos headed out for a walk, it was such a beautiful afternoon.  Charlotte wanted to be in her stroller, so we decided to take the 3-mile trek around Lake Harriet.  We we're about 6 blocks from home when Norah started getting real fussy and Jill ended up carrying her while pushing Camille in the stroller the last 4 blocks back to the house.  It was dinner time and we just couldn't get the food to them fast enough.  The are great eaters and wolfed down a half pound of tofu, lots of peas, and some black beans too.  The rest of us had pizza.

Norah Lou

Charlotte with a very cheesy face - we were having an ice cream social.

Thursday, September 18.  Charlotte was in school all day today, so I kept tabs on the little ones while Jill did some painting.  She is making lots of progress, but can only tackle it in the evenings or when there is a grandparent around to help with the kids.  I'm so happy that they have such a nice, comfortable home and lots of room for the kids to play.

Saturday, September 20.  Jill, Charlotte, and I went to garage sales in the neighborhood this morning, in hopes of finding winter stuff for the girls.  We did find snow pants for Charlotte and a life preserver for the twins' future use.  We stopped at a place that had lots of vintage clothing and the lady really liked Charlotte, offering aprons, hats, belts, purses, and beads  to try on and then gave her a purse and apron to take home,  check it out.

My birthday gift to Jill (back in August) was a night of babysitting, so they went out to dinner tonight and I went to bed early.

Sunday, September 21.  Today is the day that Charlotte and I went for a camping adventure to Baker Park Campground in the Three Rivers Recreation District - about 30 miles west of Minneapolis.  I've been looking forward to doing this but have also had some reservations.  She was definitely up for it, all she talked about since we told her yesterday. 

We had so much fun!  She was totally into it, definitely into having snacks and mealtimes, great about going for a hike - to the playground,  greeting our neighbors, and being cooperative with tooth brushing, potty (most of the time), and bedtime.

Playing harmonica at our campsite.

Not liking to build a campfire.

Monday, September 8, 2014

September 8 - 14, 2014 - WI, MN

Monday, September 8.  My day was good, except for a knock on my door this morning by Pat as he was heading to Urgent Care for his back - unable to straighten up and walking was very painful.

I met Sue at the Yahara River Trailhead and we had a nice 3-mile walk together.  It is a nice trail through the woods.

Pancakes on a fallen tree?

When I got back home, I washed down the trailer so it is ready to go down the road later this week.  

My summer has been wonderful, I've connected with most of the people that I wanted to see and also got to see a good part of the US and all around Wisconsin.  I'm looking forward to getting on the road again, although camping solo along the way is going to be a test but I'm up to the challenge and feeling confident that all will go well. I'm ready to get back to my home in AZ.

Tuesday, September 9.  Whew!  Today was a busy but very fun day.  It started out with a conversation with Pat about the possible heavy rain that is predicted for tomorrow and we decided that I should move the trailer to the driveway so the yard doesn't get all messed up by pulling it out in the soft ground.  I'm proud of myself that I did it quite efficiently and got it backed in with only a couple of tries.

Later on, Dawn came over and then Jo and her friend, Susan arrived from Oxford to see my trailer and we all headed out for a little tour of Stoughton and to see some of the beautiful Victorian homesand houses where family lived.  We then went downtown and stopped at a couple of shops before I had to get on to my next scheduled meetup.

I then went to Deak's where I met Pat and Mary Jo for lunch.  We had a nice lunch and a great conversation before heading across the street to Culver's for the monthly classmate get together where the talking continued for the next couple of hours.

After that, I had to go meet up with Sharon at East Towne because she was delivering some things that I forgot at her house when I left last Saturday - Frisco's bed, my iPhone charger, and my book.  What was I thinking? I rarely leave things behind.  Maybe it was the 2 Old Fashioneds that I had on 
Friday night.

So...a busy but very enjoyable day and I retired to the trailer for some alone time by about 7:00.

Wednesday, September 10.  I spent most of the day hanging out with Pat.  The weather turned this afternoon after lots of rain through the night and into the morning, the winds picked up this afternoon, and then it cooled way down and I had to get cool weather clothes out of the bin in my car.

At dinner time, I went to the Maple Tree to have dinner with Jim and Sue and Pat and Roger.  The Old Fashioned and the company were excellent - the dinner wasn't the greatest with the exception of the broasted chicken that was excellent.  We had lots of laughs and great conversation, as always.

Thursday, September 11.  My last full day here in Stoughton - it's hard to believe that the time has come to unhook and move on.  Brrrrrr!  It is cold this morning - about 47 degrees when I woke up and it only warmed to about 53 as the day went on.

I had an appointment for a haircut but got a call from the salon saying that Marion has to stay home with a sick child today.  I really needed a haircut, so I went to Savana's salon and she was able to get me in right away.  I think I like the haircut, but will have to see what happens when I try to style it myself.  I got some groceries for the trip and bought a couple of cases of Spotted Cow and Supperr Club to deliver to Ben and take home with me.

I wanted to see Tom and Karen one more time before leaving, so Frisco and I headed up there for a while.  I got there just as Tom was taking some brats off the grill, so I got to have lunch with them.  The dogs played, we talked, and then I headed back to Stoughton.

Friday, September 12 - on to MN.  Well, I've decided to delay my departure because rain is predicted all day long.  The radar shows that Stoughton is on the southern edge of the front and my destination is on the north side of the front.  So, I'm going to hang out for one more day.

Yesterday, since it was so darned cold, I tried out the furnace in my trailer and it works just fine.  It even came on in the wee hours of the morning - must be programmed to start when the temp is under 45 degrees.  Now, all systems have been checked and are working fine.  I love my little Bubble!

Saturday, September 13.  The sun was shining this morning and that is all it took to get me moving.  I had some coffee with Pat and then proceeded to get hooked up and was on the move by 8:30.  My first stop was at the state park to empty my tanks - I have been in one place since the end of July - definitely some added weight I don't need to carry with me.

The drive to the Hidden Bluffs Resort in Spring Grove, MN was beautiful.  Imagine this - a crisp blue sky dotted with big, fluffy clouds, rolling hills - some with rocky cliffs, crossing the Wisconsin River and the Mighty Mississippi, a pheasant darting across the road, and small town America.  I stopped for gas at Prairie du Chien and found that I had lost the vent cover over the refrigerator on the entry side of the trailer.  Darn!  

I went straight west into the Iowa farmlands and then the GPS had me going on county roads wiggling my way to Spring Grove, a cute little Midwest town.  At the cemetery, I took gravel roads (nicely packed and not too rough) to the campground and the name is appropriate.

As I started to back into my site, the guy across the way offered to help direct me and it took a few attempts, but I got it and then got hooked up.  I walked one of the trails in the park - it's beautiful!

I then got some firewood and got a fire going, mixed a Dripping Springs Vodka tonic, connected to the wifi, and tried to stay warm.  Just when I was running out if wood and had some nice coals going, I roasted a couple of hot dogs for my dinner, and then retired for the night.  Peaceful place.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

September 1 - 7, 2014, WI

'September 2.  Happy 3rd Birthday to my little Charlotte!  Wow! the time is flying by.  We had a very short FaceTime conversation during the birthday party yesterday but she was preoccupied and it didn't work out so well.  So this evening, after her bath, we got to wish her a happy birthday and see some of her gifts.  Better yet, just got to see her playing.

I finished up the pruning job that I had started at Dawn's this morning.  After that, I got lucky at the St. Vincent de Paul store and found some leveling blocks for the trailer and a handheld vacuum cleaner (I will test it out and then return it before I leave if it doesn't work).  

I made a pot of bean soup for dinner and helped Savana cut up fruit (you know, the large boxes that you get at Costco) to freeze for smoothies later on.  It was a good day.

September 3.  I drove to Lake Wisconsin this morning to meet up with my niece, Becky and her daughter Lizzy as we were going on a hike together.  We decided on the Rowan Creek Trail not far from their house.  The trail has paths that loop through the woods and along Rowan Creek just outside of Poynette. We walked through wetlands, a coldwater stream, prairie, and both upland and lowland forest. Rowan Creek is one of the better trout streams in the state, known for its brown trout population.  Judging by the clearness of the water, it would appear to be a good spot for trout.  

Becky, Liz, and Pepper

We spotted this guy along the path - he just froze and let us go by.

Lizzy made this collage of interesting things she saw along the way.  It was a very enjoyable hike, great company, the dogs had fun, and Frisco even got to cool off in the stream.  

By the time we finished our hike, it was getting pretty warm and we were all hungry, so we headed in to Poynette and had a hot dog at Willie's Weenie Wagon, a converted Airstream Trailer.

From there, I headed to Portage to spend the next few days with Sharon.  I got there about 45 minutes early, so I drove through DQ and got a smoothie then headed to the park.  I stayed in the car, parked in a shady spot and played a game on my iPhone.  As I sat there, I watched a group of people gathered in the shelter across the parking lot.  After watching for a while, I realized it was homeless folks or derelicts, just hanging out.  Then, all of a sudden, Frisco decided to take a leap out the window, chasing after a chipmunk, and then a dog from that group of folks came to chase him and I had to chase both of them.  It wasn't long and I had him back on the leash and in the car.  What a naughty boy!  And he's not very good at picking out spots for an escape.  He certainly added some excitement (and fear) to my day.

September 4.  Sharon had to work today, so when my cousin Jo called to see if I would be around, I said yes and we met at Dollar Tree (my go to place for doggie doo doo bags).  We had some breakfast after that and then made a stop at Wally World (aka Walmart) before saying goodbye.

In the afternoon, I went over to Connie and Bill's house for a short visit before Sharon got off work.  When I got back to her house, we packed up the chicken lasagna, salad fixings, and angel food cake and headed to her son, Chad's house to celebrate his 42nd birthday.  Cody and Reanna decorated the cake and we had a great visit and dinner.  I'm glad I got to share this event with the family.

September 5.  Sharon took the day off and we managed to fill it and had a nice time doing it.  We started off with breakfast at Le Croissant, a yummy bacon, egg, and cheese croissant and Chai Latte were my choice.  Back home, she had to get her lawn mowed, so while she was doing that, I washed her windows on the outside.  And then we sat and relaxed for a while.

We headed to Wisconsin Dells to see the movie, "Chef" (recommended by Becky) but it was no longer showing there.  We decided to see "The Identical" instead and we both were glad that we decided on that one.  It was a story of twins that were separated at birth and how their lives intertwined through the years, and how one of them struggled between the path his father wanted him to take or his own musical interests. 

To top off the day, we went to Cimarolli's for an Old Fashioned and Fish Fry.  Great day!