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.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

September 3 - 9, 2018, MN, WI

OWe Wednesday, September 5.  Monday was our day to tie up loose ends; pick up last minute grocery items, clean and stash away outdoor things, hook up the truck, and walk around to stay goodbye to folks we have met here.

And then we were on the road Tuesday morning as planned, heading for Lake Arrowhead near Montello, WI for a 3-day stay to hang out with Pat and Roger.  Unfortunately, there has been so much rain (including some good downpours during our drive) that you can't get between here and there without a 45-mile one-way roundabout drive due to bridges being closed or roads washed out. So no visit that evening.

Today, we drove to Princeton and Montello and we sure did see a lot of flooding.  They were sandbagging along the Fox River in Princeton and all of the buildings on the south side of Main Street had water right up to the back of the buildings. It is so sad!  We were able to meet Pat and.Rog and my cousin, Jo for dinner at the Rendezvous in Montello tonight, we parked at opposite sides of the bridge and walked to the restaurant in between.  The bridge is closed because they are afraid of the structure being weakened by all of the standing water.  We had a nice dinner and fun visit.

    Taken from near Main St in Princeton.

    Highway 22, S

Thursday, September 6.  We hung around the campsite today, taking a long walk, and chatting with Roger during his breaks from work.  His drive to work this morning was 48 miles, the roundabout way from his house.  Since then, another road has been closed which added another 5-6 miles to the route.

I really wanted to spend more time with them and for Tom to see their house, so we headed there this afternoon.  It was a long drive but worth the visit, the walk to the causeway in Packwaukee to see the water damage, to see the damage from the recent storms that took out at least 27 trees on their property, and to have cocktails and a nice dinner with our good friends.

Friday, September 7.  There was no big rush this morning to get on the road, as we only had 70 miles to drive to Stoughton where we will spend the next week.  When we arrived at the park, the office was closed, so we drove around the decide which sites we would prefer.  The maintenance man checked with the owner and we got to have our first choice, site 18.  

As we were setting up, Sue stopped by for a chat.

We had tickets for a show at the historic Opera House to see Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Dave Alvin and what a show it was.  I wasn't real impressed with the openers, John Langley and another John? - not that they weren't talented or good, just that I didn't really like their music.  Their set was an hour and the 'stars' show was 2 hours, a mix of rocking blues, folk, Americana, a bit country, and even a Zydeco number.  We were out until midnight after stopping for a drink at Nauti Norse, a new bar in town.

Sunday, September 9.  The nights have been cool, down in the 50s and the days cool, brisk and some broken clouds.  This morning is bright and sunny with a brisk breeze. I couldn't believe when I reached over to check the time this morning - 10:47. How can that be? I never got up once during the night.  Needless to say, we were shocked and Frisco didn't even bother me to take him out either.

Pat stopped by yesterday morning for a visit and later on, we got a nice walk in along the river.  

Last evening we went to the Opera House again to see Junior Brown.  He is described as a one-man musical hot fusion machine and he plays a unique part-electric, part country steel guitar. He was accompanied by a stand-up bass, a drummer with only a snare drum and cymbals, and his wife on rhythm guitar.  Another great show at this beautiful venue right here in small-town Stoughton!

We invited Pat and Tracey and Jonnie for dinner tonight and I made Mrs. Gumtow's casserole, Tom made one of his chopped salads and we had a nice time. Jim and Sue stopped by for a beer and a chat before dinner.

I started a campfire but we didn't hang around it for too long - the mosquitoes started coming out and it was getting cold. The forecast is for a low of 47 degrees tonight.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

September 1 - 2, 2018, MN

Sunday, September 2. Happy 7th Birthday to my sweet and silly Granddaughter, Charlotte.  This is the first year in many that I haven't celebrated with her in person - and it kind of hurts.  We did have some special times together recently and her gifts were chosen by her this year.  Time is sure flying by.  We were talking with Ben recently and reminded him that in 10 years from now, he will have two 15-year-olds and a 17-year old daughter - he said the thought scared him and that he was trying to prepare himself!

We have been in 'preparing for departure' mode the last few days, doing last minute chores.  We got groceries but now will probably have to get a few more tomorrow since the fresh fruits and many of the veggies have disappeared.  It also seems that we can't keep beer and other cocktail supplies stocked.

I was talking to ur neighbor, Patty,  yesterday and she told me that several of the long-time folks here ar going out for dinner next week and she was asked to invite 'the apple picker and Tom' o join them.  I nhave love narrative have a name, just a reputation. Ha! Ha!

Our destination on Tuesday is the Lake Arrowhead Campground in Montello, it is where Roger works for the summer.  Unfortunately, the area was hit very hard with high winds and storms earlier this week and many trees are down and roads are flooded and closed. Pat and Roger lost 27 trees in their yard - a big part of the reason that they  bought their cabin in the woods. It's been a hard-working summer for them as they just completed restraining their entire log house.

Plans are being made for spending the winter in Apache Junction,  but the places we are considering have not been answering their phones - we can't even get our questions answered.

Today was laundry day and we had so much to do that we took it all to a laundromat in Osseo.  After donating $1.25 in machines that either stole our money or weren't working, plus another $10.00, we were done. I'm not complaining about the cost, just feel they should have been a way to recoup the 'above and beyond' expense.