Wednesday, August 31, 2011

We made it........

1400 miles in 3 days.....not bad for our lumbering coach piloted by the 'over the hill' gang. The first day was tough, after 2 days of staying up too late and enjoying the fruit of the vine too much, but we perservered and did almost 500 miles. We arrived in Billings, Mont to a lovely campground, surrounded by the hills and with all the amenities and an initial charge of $72 until we balked and then it came down to $50+....still about 20 + what we usually pay a night. Anyway, across from us were these adventurers, making a much smaller footprint than the rest of us in our behemoths. A slight twinge of guilt crept in until I turned on the shower, the TV, the queen sized bed and especially, the nice potty.

The trip was uneventful. We basically followed the Lewis and Clark Trail.....along the Missouri,

followed the beautiful Yellowstone ....

and then along the mighty Columbia. Mt Hood peaked thru the clouds to give us a quick view of its beauty.

Several years ago, we read "Undaunted Courage" by Stephen Ambrose. An excellent and very thorough depiction of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. I need to reread it. It is not on Kindle or iBooks so may actually pick up a real book.

Tonight is the rehearsal and dinner. Paul and Jeff enjoyed a golf outing at their club and Jennifer and I had manicures and pedicures....what a treat.

Tomorrow the rest of the family join us. The Ct kids will look forward to having electricity and showers once again. They were fortunate to have no damage but school opening has been delayed a week and they are tired of eating melting ice cream.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Class of '61

We grew up in east central ND. A city of trees and well kept homes but nothing to distinguish it from so many .......until 1959 when the World's Largest Buffalo came to stay. As a band member, I was required to attend the dedication and we were granted the honor of sitting under it's ample appendages. There were dignitaries and speeches and we were bored. Nelson Rockefeller was there but I only know that because I read it at the Buffalo Museum near by. If you pass by on I-94, you too can see it.

We spent two evenings with a very large representation from our class and the nearby Catholic school. Altho we share our reunions now, there was very little "mingling" back then between the Protestants and the Catholics.

Here is Paul telling Linda that he would have enjoyed getting to know her better back then, but his mother didn't approve, so the PK had to settle for another Methodist.

Here are myself, Karen, Karen. And Paul. i'm writing this on the iPad and can't adjust the pic so just click to make them normal sized.

And of course the Hatlie's showed up because they would never miss a good time.
Class reunions are an interesting group. My theory is that only those that feel pretty good about their lot in life show up. Not proven of course but anecdotal info might bear it out. The enthusiasm for meeting and greeting was infectious and catching up was great, even if we can't remember the details. The classmate's band was excellent , if a bit too loud for conversation, and music and dancing styles haven't changed in 50 years.

There are plans to get together on a dedicated Facebook page and to meet again in 5 years, god willing and if the creek don't rise. Speaking of which, the rivers are near to overflowing, the dam is releasing water and the mosquitos are breeding and eating.
We visited relatives and wandered down once familiar streets.

This is my
house, Paul lived across town in the parsonage. We stopped by the cemetery to see the family sites.

It was a fun trip, rememberances of people and places and experiences that made us what we are. We'll do it all again before we know it.

This morning we had every plan to drive east and fly from Minneapolis to Portland for the really BIG event in 5 days. Instead, we inexplicably turned WEST.................

Don't panic Jennifer, (anymore than you already are !). We'll be there on time !

Location:Jamestown, ND

Friday, August 26, 2011

Life is good....

The weather has been perfect and we are soaking it up. We played golf with Judy and Guy ( HS classmates from So Cal who have a cute summer place here). Midway along, we were joined by another classmate, Lynn, who has a home here as well. Yes, we played as a 5-some and the golf police did not care. Judy and I walked the course,( did not play the ball as it lay nor keep score), Lynn carried his bag, played well as did Paul and Guy.....pretty good for old people who have known each other for OVER 50 years.

Later, we slipped out onto the lake on their spacious pontoon boat.

Reminder to self......pick photos that are flattering to all and show MY best side.......anyway, this is moi with Lynn and Judy and a view of the shoreline.

Here's a better group pic....thanks to Lynn.

And so we ended a perfect day among friends. And a note to Mark and Annette......if you hurry, you can still join the festivities on Sat. We missed you on the boat but we talked about you !!

We head out this morning for Jamestown, ND and hoping everyone wears nametags with big print.
We are also watching the weather closely and wanting it to miss the CT kids.

Location:On Lake Sallie, Detroit Lakes, MN

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Still alive and well.....

Sorry for the lack of posts of late. We,ve been moving right along and have been plagued with poor or non-existent internet or 3 G coverage at times. Other times, I was just lazy, tired, short on witticism or drunk.....well, the last one might be an exaggeration but I did do damage to a bottle of wine one eve.

We left Lexington behind and entered the Land of Corn as documented above. And, the world really IS flat out here in the plains. There are millions of acres of corn out here, interspersed by soy beans. I need to google ( oops, sorry Michael, I meant Bing) to see how they grow but miles of them are dark green and the breezes make them move in waves like water. I couldn't get a good picture as we zipped by.........well, we really don't zip along, more like a graceful lumber.

We spent Monday night in a local park, with electricity, in Forest City, Iowa. This is home of theWinnebago/Itasca factory. The town is very very small andits surprising they can find over 2000 workers. In July there is a big rally of winnebago owners and it attracts over 1200 RV's. They must overrun the roads and few restaurants. We did the 2 hour tour and thought it well done. They build 100 a week. Before the recession, they did 250.

Last night we arrived in Detroit Lakes, Minn. It is a series of lakes, very popular summer resort and we have friends with cute lakeside cottages. We'll catch our breaths, clean the house, golf and get in the proper mindset to see old classmates from 50 years ago.

Location:Detroit Lakes, Minnesota

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Days 10-11 All creatures great and small..........

The Master Mechanic of this trip came thru once again to save the day. By replacing the water pump one more time and the pressure reduction valve, we have water. I won't bore you with details but I'm sure glad I brought him along for the ride. And not to be outdone, I managed to save his life when he cut his finger, the blood flowed freely and he felt the need to almost faint. Having a nurse trained in OBGYN made all the difference, and he recovered quickly. What a pair we are !!

We enjoyed our visit to the Kentucky Horse Park on Friday. We know nothing about horses but enjoyed the museum, the statues, the grounds. We watched some jumpers practice their art and were stunned when the horse tumbled after the jump
and rolled onto the rider. He got up slowly and limped off, the horse seemed fine. Another horse balked each time as he came to the fence. Not sure how that lithe young lady managed to stay on the horse each time but guess it's part of the sport.
Several horses are memorialized on the grounds but the most famous is Man of War and this magnificent statue marks the site. He was actually embalmed and interred in a casket.

Later, we met Jan and Curt for dinner at Windy Corner Restaurant, a unique dining place with excellent food with a little different twist. Highly recommended. The back roads around Lexington are very scenic with the large horse farms and expansive fencing. We came upon a favorite area of theirs where the horses are happy to stroll over for an offering of carrots. We forgot the carrots but this colorful fellow made us smile.
On Saturday, beautiful Lillie Medora came out to greet us. She is beautiful and very tiny at a bit over 6 lbs.
We're moving on out this morning.....heading northwest. Talk later..........

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Deja vu all over again.......

Seems like we can't get past Day 8-10 without issues....... First the water pump became erratic, then decided to stop altogether , AFTER my shower. (Doesn't this sound a bit familar??) But we were OK since we are hooked up to the CG water. But, that too went the way of the water pump and yes, we have NO water. When we chose our site , we happened to be right next door to beautifully clean and very nice combo bathroom AND showers....very private. And now we know, very convenient.
Mr Fix-it was up early pondering the situation and trying to explain it all to the person with beauty and no brains....
Obviously we are extending our stay. Not a big deal as there is a big Art Show today and we will get a longer time to spend with Jan and Curt. Baby Lillie was not up for visitors so we will see her on the return.
We did do the Kentucky Horse Farm yesterday and it was a fairly cool day and we enjoyed it even tho we can hardly tell a horse from a large dog.
To be continued................

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Day 8 and 9. On the road again......

We spent Wednesday enjoying perfect weather and a delightful 2.5 mi walk around the lake.....and this one WAS easy......The one dominating feature on the landscape is the rhododendrum. The groves are expansive and as high as trees. It must be stunning in the spring ......... Most of the walk was fairly smooth on narrow paths, woven with the spiderweb-like rhodie roots and larger tree roots. It required some diligence to avoid an untimely trip. It was cool, breezy and for most of it we had a view of the canoers and kayakers. There were a couple areas of mud and slime and soggy grounds.....sometimes a log or plank was placed to test your balance. This particular
spot was almost a turn around decision. It looks innocent enough but required some planning and creativity and nerve to get over the deeper waters and rocks.
And this required the ubiquitous 'holding up the rock' picture.
We stopped in Blowing Rock for a late lunch at the Storie Street Grille. Food was perfect as was the service out on the deck. Highly recommend if you are in the area.

We had planned for a 9 am departure today. As much as we like the setting for the campground, it has so many natural pitfalls that seem to reach out and grab you. After tethering the car, we started forward, only to come to a scraping halt. Two more attempts were futile and by then, the crowd was gathering. A small hump in the ground got caught on part of the undercarriage and we weren't going anywhere. So we unhooked, backed up (not easy to do in such close quarters) and reversed course and reattached out on the road. So, by 10, we were on the way to Lexington. It seemed to be a long trip or maybe we were just tired. Scenary was exceptional thru the Appalachians and the day was clear. Tomorrow it's the Horse Farm and the new baby if she's accepting visitors.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Give that man a prize...........

Studying "The Easiest Hikes on the Blue Ridge Parkway", we chose one to Rough Ridge Overlook......don't you think the name alone should have given us a clue?? We were at 4200 ft starting out from this sign.... I remembered the water, the Off, the bars to ward off starvation, the binoculars, and the backpack to put it all in.......but forgot the camera ! So, the trusty iPhone was called upon and sometimes the lighting is not so great. But at least we were able to capture the event....and prove that he really challenged himself this time.
One of the biggest residual effects of the accident almost 6 years ago, was damage to his feet, resulting in loss of some perception and flexibility. Uneven surfaces give him pause and even a gravel surface can be unstable. The guide book did mention stone steps at times but not sure we really read the description as we were still focused on the "EASY" part of the title.
As soon as we stepped into the woods, we were met with this daunting view........I said, lets not go....he said, this won't last long, I think I can do it....................
The route never changed ! It was rough and steep and fraught with challenges for the the average hiker..... but he climbed on.
We reached an area near the top with beautiful vistas and wooden stairs to protect the eco-system. The mountain ash were in full color.
This next picture is out of sequence and was seen on our trip down.Reading the book to see what the trail offered if we did the entire 2.5 appeared that it was more of the same so we cried 'Uncle' and headed back down....usually harder than up but we made it to the car intact and exhilarated at his accomplishment. A bit farther down the road is a lake with a trail. Figuring that it had to be smoother and flatter, and not yet done with walking in the woods, we ventured on.......

We did part of it, enjoyed the views and may return today for another walk or maybe rent a canoe and paddle our way around.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Day 6 There's a chill in the air.......

It's a lovely 58 degrees in the morning ! Chilly enough so that we've enjoyed having the fireplace glowing ..... altho electric, it puts out a goodly amount of warmth. It's so nice not to have to get up with the sun to get out walking before the heat.
Yesterday, we sat in the clouds all day and it was misty and cool with occasional breaks of sun. Mr Fix-it puttered around while I played with pencils and paper. Boone is the home of Cheap Joes Art Supplies and there is an outlet store. They offer week-long art lessons through out the summer and this campground even offers discounts to students.
Meanwhile, out in Utah, the Connecticut kids enjoyed (with oreos as a bribe) a hike to Delicate Arch.
And yesterday , a little grand niece made her appearance......can't wait for the pictures of Lillie Medora Woodson.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Day 5...... Crunch

It was a day of wandering the 'roads less traveled' and the views and weather were picture perfect. Paul found a friend with a guitar.....I suspect this is 'someone' but I forgot to look for a plaque. Boone is a college town, gearing up for the arrival of the academic year. Many boutiques and shops, none of them geared to the 60+ woman's idea of fashion.

Grandfather Mountain is the highest peak along the Blue Ridge. The crowds were out as were the hikers. We picked up a copy of "The Easiest Hikes along the Blue Ridge" and may try a couple.....or one.

Upon return to our house, we noted a sheriff's car waiting for us. This is not necessarily a good thing. Seems that the neighbor, in trying to back in to park his very long and large 5th wheel, clipped the corner of our house. The damage was a large scrape to the paint and no apparent dents. You can click to embiggen the damage.
However, his big diesel truck took the brunt of the damage with a caved in back corner and broken light. The young deputy was very patient dealing with this matter of no importance compared to what he usually sees. The other neighbors said this caused a large crowd to gather and ponder the situation. I suspect this happens quite often as the sites are pretty dense and the trees show some wear and tear.
And the picture of the day comes from Moab Utah where it is hot and surrounded by immense cliffs of red rock.....and fingers wrinkle from hours in the pool.

Days 3 and 4....North Carolina

We packed up and moved up the mountains. Instead of towing the car, we opted to just have me follow. We had to climb 3000 feet and since we aren't in a powerful diesel, it can be a bit slow on that ascent. After getting settled in the Boone KOA , which has resident goats and donkeys, we explored the lovely mountain towns of Blowing Rock and Boone. It is very busy up here but must be perfect in the spring and fall. Temperatures have been in the low 60's at night and near 80 in the day. It has rained, mostly heavy downpours at night. Friday night we enjoyed the production of Horn in the West , the oldest Revolutionary War outdoor drama in the country. It was done very well with LOUD
sound effects , cannons, muskets, and a much too explicit hanging. The music and dancing were excellent. In the last few minutes, the rain drops started, causing the narrator to add, "It was a rainy day in the mountains".
Yesterday we happened upon Art in the Park in Blowing Rock. We saw a favorite artist that I had seen at the Winter Park show. His paintings are large depictions of sky and prairie and out of my price range.

While we are out in the cool mtns of the East, Jon and Marybeth are in Grand Junction Colorado in the heat. Getting an early start, they biked over 30 miles. I remember those days when we did long rides in the high country. Despite the lack of oxygen, we thoroughly enjoyed it. Ahhh, youth !
And on a completely different note, these are turtle hamburgers...... picture stolen
from Tommy's blog, this is made with a large hamburger, topped with cheese, then wrapped in bacon and then hot dogs inserted for limbs and head. It probably tastes better than it looks.

And did you notice that I finally figured out hyperlinks???

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Days 1 and 2....

We have been wanting rain at the house and it finally arrived in substantial amts.....on the day we needed to move our stuff from our stationary house to our moving house. A side benefit however, were the cooler temps that made the trips a bit soggy but tolerable.
Our destination the first day was somewhere near Savannah, about 300 miles. Feeling energetic, we kept going and ended up near Columbia SC.(432mi) The Camp ground was totally forgettable but made for a quick and easy stop for the night. The drive was uneventful but pretty hot. Fortunately, we can run the generator as we are lumbering down the roads and it does the trick to cool us.

We needed to stop for gas....this is my least favorite part of the experience and I always dread it. Finding a station that we can get in and out of , towing a car, requires some quick assessments as we drive by. We got off the exit, knowing that there was a station at a Walmart and they are usually OK. But, right across the street was a BP which looked wide open and a more comfortable fit. Until we got to the pumps and then realized that the quick drive back out to the road put us onto a smaller road was separated from the main road by a concrete strip that was all but invisible until we had already pulled in. The smaller road went to a private business, too small to maneuver in. Sooooo, we had to disconnect the car, back up the coach, turn it around and reconnect. It was 90+ out and we were not happy.

Today, our destination was Boone, NC, tucked high in the Blue Ridge Mtns. Because we never know when or where we are going, we usually don't make reservations ahead of time.....and today, our luck ran out and there was nothing in the Boone area. But, we found a place in Hickory about an hour from Boone. The very nice owner gave us explicit directions on how to get there....we had no trouble but happy for a GPS and her hints. We turned into a residential neighborhood, no signs marked the way and proceeded down a paved road until ....we came to the formidable gate.

The the road turned to gravel and had a very steep grade.
After twists and turns , we came to the bottom of a lovely valley and it was
worth the trip. Indian Springs Campground is a small (20 sites) sitting along a creek. We didn't explore much but plan to in the morning.

After getting settled, we headed up to Boone and Blowing Rock. We visited the two CG's and found that one had a cancellation so we will pack up and move up there tomorrow. There is more to do, it is much cooler and the scenery is even more spectacular than where we are.