Plans, What Plans (Part 2 of 3)

So we’re on the road heading to West Branch State Park in Ohio. We have driven through Ohio but never camped there. This stay will cross that state off the list and leave us with only 2 states in the lower 48 we have not stayed in (West Virginia and Connecticut). West Branch SP is a great park for exploring northeast Ohio and we’d come back here any time. We arrived in good weather but saw that would change so we headed to Cuyahoga National Park. This is one of the most urban of our National Parks. Maybe it’s because we were raised in very similar areas but we really didn’t see a whole lot that seemed special. The area does provide a green belt in an otherwise built up area and is heavily used by walkers and bikers so if for nothing else it is valuable. There is some important history about canal building as well. We used our visit to photograph some wildlife and enjoy a beautiful Spring day.

Blue Heron In The Rookery

Mallard Pair At Cuyahoga NP

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cuyahoga Waterfall

Some of the places we wanted to see (James Garfield NHS and Perry Victory and International Peace Monument)  either were not open or didn’t have their boat trips running for the season. We headed to Canton, OH to see the First Ladies NHS. A small Visitor Center has a few exhibits but the main reason for the site is a tour of President and Mrs. McKinley’s home. It was her family home as well. You access it only by guided tour.

McKinley Home At First Ladies NHS

McKinley Desk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beautiful Staircase

On the way out, being the brochure collector that I am, I picked up a flyer for the Blue Water Majesty miniature ship museum. Steve had put up well with a morning of looking at women’s things so we decided to check this out. Even with the address and our GPS, when we got to the museum we weren’t sure it was the right place. No sign, no other cars and only a small handwritten sign on the door saying open. We went in and were greeted by the owner/model maker, Larry Pulka. We paid our $5 entry fee. That was $5 well spent! This turned out to be one of those hidden gems that we love to find!  He started building ships from kits over 40 years ago when his wife said “get a hobby!” Now he is an artist of the first magnitude crafting sailing ships from exotic woods and even bone. He uses no paint but scours the world looking for exotic colored wood. We never knew there was an exotic wood collectors society. He handcrafts every detail of the ships from original plans. Even the cannons have 51 separate parts!  The attention to detail is amazing. Each link of his chains are handcrafted. We can’t begin to tell you what a fantastic find this place is. Before you think maybe you’d like to take one home, they starting cost is $25,000 and up with a 2-3 year wait. We settled for a wonderful private tour and lots of photos. Rather than paraphrase information about the models we are posting the info cards on each ship shown. Click on the pictures for enlarged viewing and easier reading. This is but a small sampling of his work.

Tiny Cannons In My Hand

The Cutty Sark

Cutty Sark Info

Frigate Model

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frigate Info

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Info On The Unicorn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Unicorn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Shipyard Diorama

 

 

Shipyard Info

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Attention To Detail

Then the rain started.  Our newly repaired roof leaked worse than ever before! To say we were upset, distressed and just plain mad is an understatement. We checked to see how far away we were from the Prime Time factory in Elkhart, Indiana. Only 5 hours away. We called and told them we’d done everything we could to get this repaired without success. We wanted to come to the factory for repair. With our manufacturer’s warranty due to run out in 4 weeks we expected a run around. Much to our surprise they were very accommodating. The factory repair facility was booked but we were referred to John Klinge RV Repair who did their overflow work. He could take us the next week. So we lived with a bucket and towels and a leaky roof as best we could. Plans for visiting sights in southern Ohio were cancelled and we made plans to go to Indiana. Yes, we contacted the dealer in Pennsylvania and after working our way up the chain to the Service Manager, we eventually got reimbursement for everything spent on the roof “repair”.

By now we were in need of some fun and laughter. The Maier family never misses a Christmas without watching “A Christmas Story”. In Cleveland is the house used for part of the film. It has been turned into a very profitable tourist attraction. Even though it is very commercial, very kitchy and quite pricey, for real fans it is lots of fun. Everyone who goes immediately finds themselves acting out scenes such as sticking their tongue out at the flagpole, posing with the Red Rider BB Gun etc. We learned lots of little known info about the movie and had that well needed laugh.

A Christmas Story House

Triple Double Dare You!

You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IT’S FRA-GEE-LEE!

 

The Cast

On to Elkhart, Indiana, RV Capitol of the USA. We dropped the trailer off. John Klinge turned out to be our newest Guardian Angel when he immediately diagnosed the problem as an improperly installed air conditioner. Water damage was extensive and would require removing the roof, removal of sheathing and roof framing, removal of insulation etc. Repairs would take about a week. We hung out in Elkhart for a few days to make sure all was going smoothly.

While in town we visited the RV/MH Hall of Fame. If like us you think MH stands for motor home… wrong! It stands for manufactured housing. This place is huge. We spent all of one afternoon looking at campers and RVs from early 1900s to the 70s. They have so many more RVs to display that an addition is planned. Among our favorites were the oldest known camper, the one owned by Lindberg where he hosted Thomas Edison and Henry Ford and Mae West’s chauffeur driven model.

RV?MH Hall of Fame

Vintage RVs On Display

Chari Poses With Mae West’s RV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since we were here where Prime Time Manufacturing (makers of our Sanibel) is located, we scheduled a visit to the factory. Seeing the construction and quality control was enlightening. We talked at length with the sales rep and he made notes about our issues and suggestions. We viewed a 2019 Sanibel and they have made some good changes. However the separate wine fridge is a bit over the top for us. We followed this with a visit to Goshen, IN and dinner at a Triple D restaurant, South Side Soda Shop. The dinner was just OK but the pie was worth the visit.

South Side Diner

How Many Steve’s Do You See?

We also let our sweet tooth loose at the Wakarusa Dime Store known for their candy display. We had lots of fun doing interior photos of the “old time” candy. Ya, I know it’s what we ate as kids. The extra large jelly beans kept calling our names. So much for dieting!

A Selfie

Old Time Advertising

The Waukarusa Dime Store

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who Else Remembers These?

Thank Goodness for family when you truly find yourself “homeless”. Steve’s brother lives near Yipsalanti, MI so we spent the remaining time there. During our stay we visited River Raisin NHS and toured the old Hutchinson mansion. Anyone else remember sticking S&H green stamps into books as kids? Well Hutchinson was the H of S&H. The home is now the head office of an educational research group. Since our sister-in-law works there we had a tour. Normally this is not open to the public.

Hutchinson Mansion

Did Your Mother Save These?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We returned to Elkhart and picked up our 5er. John had identified some other issues that would be covered under warranty. Since we had a schedule to meet we arranged to return in the Fall. Lesson learned: unless you can’t move or the problem is a minor one, head to the factory for major repairs.

See you soon for the third and final segment.

Plans, What Plans? (Part 1 of 3)

Well here we are at last writing about our most current travels rather than apologizing for being behind. We set out from Cape Lookout National Seashore in late March with 6 weeks to reach our Summer 2018 destination at Grand Portage National Monument in northern Minnesota. Before we even left our plans had changed several times as we tried to figure out how to get our small boat to Minnesota. Finally we realized that this purchase was not one of our brightest ideas and it was unnecessarily complicating our lives. We donated it and moved on.

As we write this edition to our blog we realize we packed a great deal into a few weeks. To make our posts more timely and easier to read we will break up our travels into three sections, all of which revolved around getting repairs done, done well and dealing with having to be out of your home in the process. This is the downside reality to all of the wonderful times we enjoy as full time travelers.

Our first stop would be at Pocahontas State Park near Richmond, Virginia. We’d been here about four years ago and realized there was much more to see and do. Since then we’d added trying to tour all of our state capitols. So that’s where we would start. As luck would have it we met up with RV friends Janice and Dave for the tour and dinner at The Village Cafe, a Triple D stop.

The Virginia Capitol March 2018

The Capitol Dome

George Washington Statue Made From A Life Mask

The Village Cafe, A Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives Stop

Also while visiting the Richmond area we toured the Museum of the Confederacy and the Confederate White House. The museum has one of the most extensive collections of original artifacts and should be a stop for anyone with interest in history. Having toured the Jefferson Davis home in Biloxi and knowing his post war story, it was a great comparison to tour the Confederate White House.

On Tour At The White House of the Confederacy

Davis Children’s Room

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our history blitz continued with day trips to four more National Park sites: George Washington’s Birthplace National Monument, Thomas Stone National Historic Site, Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County Battlefields Memorial National Military Park and the Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site. While at the G. W. Birthplace we learned how the first Washington ancestor to arrive on our shores did so literally by accident. He had invested in a merchant ship that was wrecked and stayed. Just think of the alternative history potential if this hadn’t happened and George was British General! Ever hear of Thomas Stone? Can’t say we had either. He was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and a moderate voice in the discussion. Weather was not good during our two days exploring the widespread Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania Battlefields. However the campaigns here shaped our history and are most interesting. Lastly we learned about a fascinating woman, Maggie Walker, a woman of color who rose to prominence when neither her race or her gender were given their due. I kept wondering why I’d never heard of her during either Black history month or Women’s history month.

A Barn At The Thomas Stone NHS

A home Used As A Hospital At Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania NMP

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maggie Walker Portrait

As if our brains weren’t already busting with new information, we made a trip to Jamestown, VA to see where it all started in the first permanent English settlement in the USA. The museum is extensive and very well executed as is the reconstructed village. Little did we know at the time that fellow volunteers we’d meet at Grand Portage NM live in the area and have volunteered at Jamestown for several years.

Voyage To Jamestown

A Replica Ship

Living History At Jamestown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chari Sports A New Look

 

 

 

 

 

And now it is time to move on to Pennsylvania where we will drop off our 5th wheel for repairs in Greencastle, PA and visit family in Chambersburg. We had a long list of things needing work but the most pressing was our leaky roof that despite two other attempts at getting fixed still left us with using a bucket during heavy rain. Keystone RV suggested we do a special test where air is forced through the roof and leaks not easily spotted can be found.The special test is not covered by our manufacturer’s warranty but we just want the leak fixed so agreed to the $300 cost. Also on our list was the persistent problem of the bedroom slide not closing properly. We would also finally repair our ding to the front cap from making too tight a turn. The repairs would take a week.

We visited with Steve’s mother and sister in time for Easter where we saw other family from New York. His mother had recently turned 90 and looks great. Our one week stay became two when the RV dealer had their fork lift die and couldn’t get our rig into the shop. You know the 3 day rule about fish and company having stayed too long? We all joked about it but by the end of 2 weeks we all were anxious to return to normal.

We did some local sightseeing, went to Harrisburg to see the Pennsylvania Capitol Building and toured more NPS sites (C&O Canal, Catoctin Mountain and Antietam NB). The Pennsylvania Capitol is the most elaborate one we’ve visited. That’s saying something as we’ve seen some gorgeous ones. We hope you don’t mind all of the photos but art was everywhere here. The floor tiles depicting everything from early settlement to industry cover the entire entry floor. Another excellent and free tour.

Pennsylvania Capitol In Harrisburg Has 2 Domes

Artwork Begins Outside With Sculptures

Art Continues Inside On The Walls, Ceiling and Floor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Handcrafted Floor Tiles

Inside One Of The Domes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The View From Above

One Of The Legislative Chambers

We visited Antietam on a rainy day so just did the drive and stopped at a few spots. If I’d only known then that my great grandfather had been in that battle, I’d have looked up his regiment. Thank goodness he survived or I wouldn’t be here! At Catoctin Mountain we did a short hike and tried to peak through the trees to see Camp David as we drove along. It is posted “Do not stop.” I do think they are serious. C&O Canal has several Visitor Centers. We visited a smaller one nearest Chambersburg. I’d love to go back to see the main center and do a bike ride on the towpath.

To Those Who Fought And Fell

Battle On The Stone Bridge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peaceful Today

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steve And Opal Along The C&O Towpath

 

 

The Three Of Us At Catoctin Mountain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally the RV repairs were done. The bill came to $2600! Gulp! That’s after the things covered by warranty. So much for keeping the credit card under control this month. Due to the delay we’d cancelled our stay in western PA until our next visit. So off we head to Ohio thinking we were all fixed. To be continued in Part 2.

An Interesting Mix In Year Six

Wow! Can we really be coming to the end of our sixth year on the road? We don’t feel we’ve even scratched the surface of things to do and see!

From May 2017-May 2018 we covered many miles as you can see in our route map below. We almost made a spoon shape route. We went from the Rockies to the Atlantic coast to the Great Lakes while juggling health and RV repair issues. Challenges… yes. Adventure galore! Drop dead gorgeous scenery… you bet! Good eats … mmmmm.

We are starting a new composite map for years 6-10 as continuing to layer our routes would make it unreadable. However just for fun we’ll post a composite so you can see what 180,000 miles looks like.

Join us for Year Seven as we explore summer in northern Minnesota, head back to Indiana for (we hope) our last major repairs and on to a glorious winter in Arizona. See you on the road!

 

Our 6th Year On The Road

 

Composite Of Our First Six Years

Where Next? #12

When we arrived at Cape Lookout National Seashore in early November 2017 we thought that staying in one place for almost 5 months sounded awfully long. It would be our longest stay to date. Yet here we are with only two weeks left. Time has flown and we’ll be on the road soon. Our feet are beginning to itch with the travel bug.

Our plans have changed several times but (We hope) this is our route from the seashore of eastern North Carolina to the shores of Lake Superior and our summer volunteer job at Grand Portage National Monument. We’ll travel for about 5.5 weeks seeing family and friends, adding 2 new states and seeing several National Park sites. Our arrival in Minnesota will be the second week in May.

Here’s the Google Map of our route.

 

Our Best Campgrounds From September 2016-May 2017

It is that time of year again when we select the best campgrounds we used over the past year. In the past we have limited it to the top 10. This year we travelled more miles and used more campgrounds so we have over 25 to recommend. We also are color coding them. GREEN means new location we recommend, YELLOW means a previous selection we used again and still recommend (Our Hall of Fame) and RED means not recommended for big rigs like ours (40′ 5th wheel). For easier reading, bring the picture zoom in 3-4 times.

Over the past 5 years we have stayed in over 150 campgrounds and approximately half of these have made it to the annual list. For past recommendations refer to posts in July of each year.

Happy Camping Everyone!

Our Top Campgrounds For Sept. 2016- May 2017

 

On Our Way To Salmon, Idaho

No wonder it took so long to get this post written! We did a lot of sightseeing along the way. We had six weeks to reach Salmon, Idaho by May 12, 2017. So why did we head east instead of west?

 Stop #1: Nashville, TN. We are both self taught when it comes to Photoshop and have been wandering around the land of Youtube tutorials. Now it was time to take a course. We had given each other Jim Zuckerman’s Photoshop Workshop for Christmas. It would be a two day course held in his home in Nashville. We located a place to stay at Henry Horton State Park. A definite return to park for us. The course was excellent and we hope you will see improvement in our technique on the blog. Below is my first attempt at a composite photo where the eagle was taken from one photo, changed to B+W, resized and moved onto the winter treescape. We also learned how to take a previously edited photo and improve on it with blending modes.  Jim’s wife, Dina, dazzled us with 2 gourmet lunches and a dinner fit for royalty.

Chari Learning Photoshop

During our free time in the area we visited the Civil War site for the Battle of Stones River. Like at Gettysburg, this battle saw 1/3 of all troops killed during fighting (18,000 men). They have just added a RV site for volunteers too! We drove into Nashville to visit the Tennessee state capitol building. That makes number 5 so we have a ways to go to see all 50. The tour is free and very informative with a docent from the Tennessee State Museum. This is the only capitol building with human remains inside the walls as the architect died just before completion and is entombed there. It is the only capitol with the remains of a former president on the grounds, James K. Polk. In the picture of famous Tennesseans below how many can you name? Later we took in the Tennessee State Museum with three floors of exhibits. My favorite was the Les Paul “Old Hickory” guitar made from wood from a state record tulip poplar tree at the Hermitage which was brought down by a tornado in 1997. The finishing touch was dinner at a Nashville icon restaurant called the Loveless Cafe.

Steve has several relatives in the area and it was great to see all of them doing so well.

Andy Jackson Rides Again At The Tennessee Capitol

 

Famous Tennesseans

 

Main Floor Of The Capitol

 

Gibson “Old Hickory” Guitar

Eating At A Nashville Icon

Stop #2: Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area

Big South Fork Panorama

This large National Park Service site sprawls across the Cumberland Plateau in southeastern Kentucky and northeastern Tennessee. We stayed at the Blue Heron CG on the Kentucky side. As we drove in, the GPS wasn’t clear where we needed to turn and given a 50/50 chance we chose the wrong way. When you are towing a 40′ trailer you can’t just hang a U-turn. We had to go a ways down the road before finding a gravel parking lot to turn around. Steve did his usual great job. No problem. There was plenty of room. (Read that as he had 6″ before hitting anything.) I tried to sit there looking composed while my toes were curling in my shoes.

Appalachian Miners

Life In Appalachia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The area is named for the South Fork of the Cumberland River and begins just below Lake Cumberland. The views of the valley are stunning.There are 500 miles of hiking trails as well as scenic drives and both whitewater and calm water river paddling. Add to that two Visitor Centers, a mining museum and a scenic railroad and you have everything you need for a great nature based vacation. Did I mention the wildflowers were starting to bloom. We hiked to a waterfall and walked behind it. A few more weeks and it will be peak for them. We’d love to come back sometime for in the autumn for some spectacular foliage.

Spring Wildflowers

Butterfly Colony

A Strange Rock Formation

 

Many Steps Down To See The Waterfall

Trillium

Waterfall at Big South Fork

Stop #3: Vincennes, Indiana

Located an hour south of Terre Haute on Indiana’s western border along the Ouabache (aka Wabash) River lies the historic town of Vincennes. Founded by the French this was a hub of the fur trading era. Following the French and Indian War it became a British fort. During the American Revolution George Rogers Clark with a much smaller force overtook Fort Sackville thus making the Northwest Territory American land. Their story is one of daring and sacrifice. Had they not claimed this victory, England might still have claimed this area and the USA may not have expanded beyond the original thirteen colonies. George Rogers Clark has been eclipsed in history by his younger brother William of Lewis and Clark fame. He never received in life the money owed to him for mounting this campaign or the recognition he deserved. Today the George Rogers Clark National Historic site honors him and keeps his story alive. Be sure to read From Sea To Shining Sea that covers the lives of both Clark brothers.

George Rogers Clark, Vincennes, American Revolution

George Rogers Clark Statue at NHS

Right next door was Grouseland.  This was the home of William Henry Harrison when he was governor of Indiana Territory from 1800-1812. Vincennes was the territorial capitol. Harrison ran for President in 1840 on the slogan of “Tippecanoe and Tyler too”. The home is now owned by the DAR and our guide was very knowledgeable. Unfortunately no photos are allowed inside. We learned that his presidential campaign was the first “modern” campaign with music, slogans and gifts for donors. Too bad he died after only a short time in office. This made his vice president, Tyler the first VP to become President by succession. Later, his grandson, Benjamin Harrison would also sit in the Oval Office.

Vincennes other favorite son, comedian Red Skelton, has a museum adjacent to the Red Skelton Performing Arts Center on the campus of Vincennes University. I know I am dating myself when I say I remember sitting with my parents in our living room watching the one TV we had and laughing together over the characters Red Skelton played. Clem Kadiddlehopper was my favorite.I know some of you out there remember this too. Who was your favorite character?

Red Skelton’s Characters

We stayed at a beautifully maintained county park called Ouabache Trails. It is tucked away and we weren’t sure if our GPS (nicknamed Josie Fiend) was leading us into small roads where we couldn’t turn around. Then we saw signs for the park. Whew!

We made a quick run up to Terre Haute to see Chari’s cousin and her husband. Unfortunately he is suffering from Parkinson’s and recovering from a mild stroke. They are handling the challenges of “in sickness and in health” together. Hopefully as we write this he is back home.

Red Skelton Was Also An Artist

Stop #4: North Central Missouri

A six hour drive from Indiana brought us to the USACE Ray Behrens CG at Mark Twain Lake. We are about two hours west of St. Louis near the small town of Florida, Missouri where Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) was born in 1835. On arrival we learned the site we’d reserved was an electric only site. We’d need to be on tank water. This seems to be a common set up in Missouri at both federal and state parks. As luck would have it there was a cancellation for a full hookup site. With our senior pass it cost us only $12/night. Hooray!

Twain Birthplace State Park

A state park preserving Mark Twain’s birthplace home offers a very well done museum of his first years as well as some artifacts from his adult life. It was interesting to find out that U. S. Grant’s first army post was in Florida. Later in life both of these men would use their literary skills to earn money to overcome financial ruin, both would write their memoirs and Twain would publish Grant’s autobiography. Steve had a book signed by Mark Twain that he donated to the Birthplace Museum before we left. About twenty miles away is the town of Hannibal where Samuel Clemens grew up and where people he knew would become characters we love such as Huck Finn, Becky Thatcher and Jim. We toured his boyhood home and a museum about his life. In town is another museum dedicated to his literary works and the original Norman Rockwell illustrations for an edition of Tom Sawyer. We bought a CD called Mark Twain in Words and Music that was created to raise funds for establishing this museum. It features celebrities like Clint Eastwood, Emmylou Harris, Jimmy Buffet and many others. We’ll be listening to it right after this entry is written. We say this is a do not miss museum.

Inside Twin’s Birthplace

Twain’s Boyhood Home In Hannibal, MO

 

She Was The Inspiration For Becky Thacther

The Mississippi River and Hannibal Are One

One place we had planned to visit was Warm Springs Ranch near Boonville, MO and home to the Budweiser Clydesdales. The ranch opened in 2008 as a breeding, recovery and retirement ranch for the horses. They started giving tours in 2009. The tours are very popular so if you have specific dates for a visit get your tickets online at least two months in advance. There is no access to the ranch other than via tour. The gates are locked until a half hour before the tour. When the horses see the cars driving in they know it is showtime and come running over to the fence to be petted. April is a great time to come as it is in the middle of foaling season. We were lucky enough to see several young Clydesdales, from one month to four months. Gestation is slightly over eleven months. At birth the foal is three and a half feet tall and weighs 125 pounds. There’s a lot of growing to do before they reach the average adult size of 2000 pounds. The tour begins at the breeding area, then on to the foaling stalls, the exercise area, the transportation trucks and finally more photo ops. All that touring can make you thirsty so yes there is free beer at the end. The horses are selected for temperment, white blaze on the face, black mane and tail, four white feet and standing six feet at the withers (shoulder). Horses that don’t meet this criteria are sold to other breeders. There are three hitches (teams) to handle all of the appearances. They are in Colorado, Missouri and New Hampshire. Each team on the road consists of ten horses, eight primary and two alternates. There are four positions a horse can be trained for; wheel (strongest), body (constant pulling), steering (holds position in turns) and lead (first to receive driver’s commands). Horses train for two years before joining a hitch. The driver’s train for six months and have to be able to handle a sustained pull of 75 pounds on their hands. The video below runs about two minutes and shows you our tour which while cool and cloudy was very enjoyable.

On the way home from Warm Springs Ranch we spotted a sign for the National Churchill Museum. Neither of us had ever heard of it. We had no plans for the next day so back south we went to Westminster, Missouri. The town is home to Westminster College and from the looks of the campus, not an inexpensive one. We were there on a Sunday and found street parking easily. That may not be the case when school is in session. The museum is housed on the ground floor of the college chapel. It was here in 1946 that Winston Churchill gave a speech and coined the phase “Iron Curtain” to describe Soviet domination of eastern Europe. For those of us who grew up in the 1950s and 60s, this phrase became a household word. The museum details Churchill’s life and well worth a visit. That’s not all! The real hidden gem was the chapel itself. Originally built in the mid 15th century it was severely damaged by the Great London fire of 1646. Architect Christopher Wren designed and rebuilt much of London following the fire including this church. Design elements such as using clear glass vs stained glass were his trademark. The church stood until destroyed by the Blitz in 1942. It lay in ruins for 20 years and was almost hauled to the scrap pile. Westminster College needed a chapel and bought the ruins. Block by block it was shipped to the USA. Skilled stone masons reassembled the ruins and restored missing sections. The only structural change was steel reinforcement for tornados. Not only do you get to visit a wonderful museum but visit a Christopher Wren church without flying to England. Put this on your “must see” list as well.

Churchill Museum Exterior

Churchill Statue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Church of St. Mary The Virgin, Aldermanbury Looking Toward The Pulpit

Wren Church Looking Toward The Organ

Our last stop was to drive to St. Charles, MO and have lunch with Lois and Steve, fellow volunteers at Hot Springs NP, who live nearby. Since we were so close to St. Louis we stopped at the Ulysses S. Grant Farm NHS. We’ve all read about Grant the Civil War general and Grant the President but here we learned of his later life and civil rights activism. We’d hoped to see the Jefferson Expansion Memorial too but the renovation and reopening of the arch was not complete. Perhaps it will be by this Fall.

Grant’s Farm

Stop #5: Iowa City, Iowa

We are still working on the long term goal of seeing every national park site. This brings us to Iowa City, the home of President Herbert Hoover and the Hoover Birthplace NHS. Before we tell you about our travels we want to warn anyone traveling in a big RV (over 30′) not to use Lake McBride State Park. The fact that they offer full hookup sites and the pad sizes are adequate would make you think it is suitable. There is nothing on Reserve America warning you of problems. We arrived and as we entered our camping loop we see a sign stating Limited Turn Around Ahead. We are able to get into the site as it is angled the right direction. Getting out, that’s another story! We couldn’t make the tight turn around and so had to go back and forth a dozen or more times to get headed the right way. We used the vacant site across from us. Had it been occupied we would have had to back down the road to where we could turn. Our experience with this and one other Iowa State Park says no more. They have not been upgraded for big rigs. OK, rant over.

Right next to the Hoover Birthplace is the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum. This is not part of the NHS but well worth the time to visit. We didn’t know that much about Hoover or his accomplishments. He is forever linked to being in office in October 1929 when the stock market crashed signaling the beginning of the Great Depression. He was a very bright and capable mining engineer and diplomat. We learned a lot and felt we had much better insight into the man and his time. By the time we left the museum to visit the Birthplace it was raining hard. Our visit was short.

Hoover As mining Engineer In China

Hoover Was The First President To Give A Speech On Radio

Hoover Served As Secretary of Commerce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Known For His Fight Against Hunger In Europe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just north of Iowa City are the Amana Colonies, several small communities founded by German immigrants as communal neighborhoods in the 1880s. There’s Amana, Middle Amana, North Amana etc. Now days they are regular towns with strong German ties and great food. Tourism is their main business and homes have been converted to shops. We certainly did our share of eating and buying wurst and pickled vegetables! The highlight for me was climbing up on the largest walnut rocker in Iowa for a photo op. Oh honey, I shrank myself!

This One’s Too Big

The other highlight in the area was eating at the Hamburg Inn #2 and trying their famous pie shake. Yup, a whole piece of pie, ice cream and milk whipped together. Steve had raspberry while I tried the chocolate bourbon pecan variety. They even have pie shake happy hour in the afternoons where you can get them at half off! Just found a website that lists the best dessert in every state. Sounds like a new goal for us is to eat one in every state!

Pie Shake At Hamburg Inn 2

Stop #6: Omaha, Nebraska

We moved on to Two Rivers State Recreation Area about 20 miles west of Omaha where we had a lovely pull through site. We came here to visit friends and fellow volunteers from Laguna Atascosa NWR, Janis and Lee. We had a great visit and got to talking so much we forgot to take a picture!

We had heard of a great museum about the Lewis and Clark Expedition during their time on the Missouri in Nebraska City. It was a bit more than an hour south but well worth the time. If you are a following the Lewis and Clark Trail or just passing through be sure to stop. It emphasizes the scientific aspects of the journey. My favorite exhibit was the keelboat with an interactive screen giving you an idea of how hard they had to work to head upstream on the river. I crashed on some rocks! So did I! My favorite exhibit was the one talking about how the native Americans caught fish. Originally this museum was built in partnership with the National Park Service but now is privately owned.

Fullsize Keelboat Replica

Chari Pacing Distance On The L&C Trail Map

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taking Notes For Our Summer Job

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We took a day to visit the Henry Dorey Zoo. Lots of photo ops and great areas for the animals. We also watched two Imax movies and took the aerial skyway above the zoo. Lee drives the tram at the zoo but he was off today.

Aerial Ride

Rhino From Above

Henry Doorly Aquarium

Butterfly House

Dwarf Mongoose

Giant Plated Lizard

Jellyfish Glow

Kookabura

Penguin Curtain Call

Tarantula

Leopard

Winking Owl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stop #7: Grand Island and North Loup, Nebraska

We didn’t move too far only about 3 hours down I 80.  We came here for two reasons: first we have friends  Gayle and Bob, from North Carolina who are visiting family in the area. Nothing like a reunion with good friends when you are on the road. Secondly my cousins from Milwaukee, WI and another from NYC are coming out. None of us have ever been to the Manchester family home town of North Loup. Our first choice of places stay, Sherman Reservoir SRA, did not work out. The back in to the site dropped almost 3′ off the road. I could envision us cracking a storage tank or ripping off something. We moved on to Windmill State Recreation Area on the Platte River. The park has lovely pull -through sites. Parks along this area are in great demand during the sandhill crane migration. If I can get myself in the mood to handle the cold, I’d love to see it.

The DreamChaser 2 At Windmill SRA

We visited the Hastings Museum in Hastings, NE. This town’s claim to fame is being the home of Kool-Aid. Once again we find things from our past in a museum! Kool-Aid was first made here and marketed as Kool-Ade in 1927. By 1929 it was being sold nationwide. Then came the Great Depression. Realizing the country would be in recovery for years the price was lowered to 5 cents and remained so for 20 years. In 1934 the FDA ruled that only drinks containing fruit juice could use Ade in their name and others had to use Aid.. So Kool-Ade became Kool-Aid. We also attended a planetarium show here and viewed other exhibits. Dinner that night was at a great Italian restaurant in Grand Island.

Birthplace of Kool-Aid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kool-Aid Ad

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walkway To Hastings Museum

We met up with Chari’s cousins and drove out to North Loup. It is a small farming community with about 300 people. Popcorn is the local cash crop and the Popcorn Days Festival in August is still a major event. My grandfather was one of the founders of the festival. The family farm house no longer stands but we found where it used to be. We also located family graves in the cemetery and saw the church where my grandparents were married. Naturally, I had to buy some North Loup popocorn to take with us. For the last day in the area we visited the Stuhr Museum in Grand Island which has an extensive collection of pioneer and early settler housing from the area. On weekends they have living history volunteers in the homes to tell you about the occupants or demonstrate skills. We’d worked up a thirst and headed off to a microbrewery. They even gave us a behind the scenes tour. My cousin Kathy and her daughter Emily have done a lot of genealogical research. It is good to have a sense of where you came from and fun to see resemblances from generation to generation.

Welcome To North Loup

Church Where My Grandparents Were Married

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chari’s Grandparents

Chari’s Great Grandparents

 

 

 

 

 

Chari’s Great Grandfather

The Stuhr Museum

The Manchester Cousins In Nebraska

Stops 8 and 9: Quick Overnights in Nebraska and Wyoming

Our time was getting short so we put the pedal down and covered a lot of miles on Interstate 80 with overnights at the original Cabela’s store in Sidney, NE. They have a very moderately priced campground with full services and laundry. We needed both. We also bought a new tent and managed to spend all of our Cabela’s points. We look forward to using the tent at USFS and BLM campgrounds this summer.

Our overnight in Green River, WY brought us close to where we worked last summer at Flaming Gorge, UT. We had an uneventful night at the Walmart.

Stop #10: Massacre Rocks SP, Idaho

Our last two nights were spent at this state park in southeastern Idaho overlooking the Snake River. In preparation for our job at the Sacajawea Center we visited the Sho-Ban Museum of the Shoshone-Bannock nation. We were the only visitors there and the docent on duty spent a lot of time with us and was most knowledgeable. Then we did shopping, got haircuts and other get ready errands.

Massacre Rocks SP

So now we have only a four to five hour drive up to Salmon, Idaho and our home for the next four months. See you again when we are out and about in central Idaho.

 

 

 

 

Out And About In Arkansas

During our stay in Hot Springs, Arkansas we needed service work done on the RV several times. This meant leaving the trailer at the repair shop. Since we had to find temporary housing it was a great opportunity for some short “vacations”.

Our first trip was to Fort Smith, AR on the Arkansas/Oklahoma border. We visited the Fort Smith National Historic site. Originally built as an Army fort on the far western frontier to protect settlers from Indian attacks and outlaws in 1817, it later became a federal courthouse and prison until it closed in 1896. There are exhibits on the U.S. Marshals, outlaws,  Judge Parker and the Trail of Tears. We’d hoped to return to participate in one of the trial re-enactments they hold there but didn’t make it. Fort Smith has one of the most unique Visitor Centers we’ve seen. It is in a former brothel. We thought we’d just stop in for a moment and look around. This is a slow time of year and the docent asked if we’d like a tour. So for the next 45 minutes we were entertained by the story of  “Miss Laura”, her girls and their gentlemen callers as well as the details of the house and how it became the Visitor Center.  Last on our list of places to visit was the home and museum of General William O. Darby who formed the special WWII unit eventually called the Army Rangers. This is privately run and hours very. When we were there the docent was one of the founders. Sensing an interested audience talked for almost two hours and displayed items in their collection not normally on display. We had to graciously depart or we would have been there a lot longer. We can’t find our pictures so these are from the internet.

Fort Smith NHS

“Miss Laura’s” As The Fort Smith VCB

Renovated To Its Former Style

“Gentleman” Waiting At Miss Laura’s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

General Wm. O. Darby

Boyhood Home Of General Darby

The second trip took us to the north central part of the state near Harrison and the Buffalo River National Scenic Riverway. We rented a dog friendly cabin through VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) at the same price as a motel room. We visited the Buffalo River National River, a NPS site although it was too chilly for on the water activities. We did a few short hikes and enjoyed the area. We are saying “when we come back” as it would be a fabulous place to paddle. Yes there are shuttles available if you like us have only one car. We also drove to the Mountain Home area to visit one of Steve’s uncles.

Buffalo River View

Imagine Paddling Here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trip number three was at the end of our stay and we headed to Petit Jean SP. This was Arkansas’ first state park. Stephen Mather, first director of the National Park Service was consulted and you can see his influence in the lodge. It looks like a smaller version of the great park lodges of the west. The CCC did a lot of work here in the 1930s from building cabins (like the one we used), to a stone water tower, to furniture still in use at the lodge today.  For those who can do a strenuous hike there is a beautiful waterfall. We plan to return some day and use the excellent campground. The story of Petit Jean, a young woman who stole aboard ship to be near her beloved but pretended to be the cabin boy.  A favorite of the crew “he” was nicknamed Petit John. Not until “he” became ill was it discover she was a female. She died and is buried at the park overlooking the Arkansas River.

A Beautiful Place To Hike

Overlooking The Arkansas River At Petit Jean SP

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steve and Opal At PJSP

 

Our Cabin

Exploring A Cave

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some day trips took us to Mt. Magazine SP, the highest point in Arkansas. This park also has a beautiful lodge and some of the cabins come with hot tubs! We are very impressed by the state parks we have seen in Arkansas. On our way there we stopped at Hickory Nut Overlook for a great view of Lake Ouachita and Ouachita National Forest. Another trip took us to the Lum & Abner Museum. I don’t remember this radio program but a friend of mine does who was raised in Arkansas. They were local “class clowns” who entered a local station’s talent contest making up the characters of Lum and Abner from Pine Ridge on their way there. Like Andy Griffith they used their home town area and people they knew in the routine. They became regulars and later went on to be syndicated. The store they featured in the program is now the museum. It is full of L&A artifacts and implements from early years in the Ozarks.

Lum And Abner Store And Museum

Lum And Abner In Real Life And In Character

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Museum Inside

 

 

Ozark Women Wore Corn Husk Hats To Work Outside

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heading south we visited Hope, AR, and the NPS site, boyhood home of President Bill Clinton. Arkansas loves Bill Clinton. Hot Springs is where he graduated from High School. There is a big sign letting you know it. Apparently, another claim to fame for this small town was the world’s largest watermelon. Now although surpassed several times, the sign still brags about the event. I had to stop and take a photo of a bit of roadside humor photography at a local grocery. The name of the town is Hope for a reason as it has seen better days and is hoping for a recovery.

Bill Clinton’s Birthplace

On A Ranger Led Tour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Town Named Hope

They’re Proud Of That Melon

Make You Hungry?

We made several day trips to Little Rock to visit Heifer International Headquarters, The McArthur Museum, eat at Cotham’s Mercantile, tour the Arkansas Capitol and return to Central High NHS since we’d missed the ranger led tour when we were there in 2014. Steve’s Mom has been donating to Heifer International in lieu of giving Christmas gifts for the past several years. We were very impressed with both the philosophy of the organization and its totally green headquarters. For history buffs the Mc Arthur Museum is a treasure. This is where General Douglas McArthur was born. Right next door is the Arkansas Art Museum where we viewed early works by Ansel Adams. If you are going for lunch at the original Cotham’s Mercantile (there is a new one in town), do get there early. It gets busy by noon. They’re famous for the Hubcap Hamburger. Free tours of the Capitol give you an overview of state history and government. It is the only state that let’s you enter the vault and hold on to a big pile of cash. They do insist you give it back though! For anyone wanting to have an “in the moment” experience of what Civil Rights in the 1960s was all about should take the ranger led tour at Central High NHS. Since Central High is still used as a high school the tours  inside are available only when school is in session and very restricted hours. You need to call ahead and claim a spot but the tour is free.

Heifer International Museum

Heifer International Green Headquarters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mc Arthur Museum

Korean War Memorial

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arkansas State Capitol

Stained Glass At The Capitol

Show Me The Money!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inside Cotham’s Mercantile

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Would You Eat Here?

We had a wonderful and busy three months in Arkansas and still didn’t see everything we wanted to see or do. So as we like to say… “When we come back…”