Tuesday, October 20, 2015

We're home in the sticks and bricks house

Were home in Salt Lake.  Actually, we've been home two weeks as of tomorrow.  Cooper is doing OK.  His nausea and pneumonia seem better, but his mobility is shaky.  He has a good nurse in Jim and they go on short walks every day. It looks like we'll be in SLC until Coop's issues are resolved.

Our daughter and SIL -- who have been living in our home since we hit the road August 2, 2011 -- purchased a house in July.  It's a a fixer upper that will be a lovely home for them and their two kids.  For now, however, we are living together until they get their first floor liveable.  Shad is doing a lot of the work himself, so it may be a little while. But we're all hoping sooner rather than later.

In the meantime, Jim and I are working on our own home.  We ordered six new windows, are doing some reorganizing, cleaning, and all the stuff you can think of if you've essentially been away from a house for over four years. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

St. Louis to almost home

Cooper is doing a little better. Saturday he had another bad spell, so we called my brother; Bob told us to double up on Cooper’s anti-nausea meds and to feed him numerous small meals a day. That seems to be helping. Yesterday Jim didn’t even have to wrestle Cooper into the rig. Instead, Cooper walked up and down the ramp on his own four legs. Not easily, but he did it. He is one tough doggie.

Since we decided to go back to our home in Salt Lake (instead of our original plan of exploring the Ozarks and then heading to Arizona), most of our days have been spent driving and watching over Coop. We've camped one night each in Columbia, Missouri; St. Joseph, Missouri; Lincoln, Nebraska; Ogallala, Nebraska; and Rawlins, Wyoming. With one short, but lovely exception, all we saw of those places were the RV campgrounds. 

We did, however, get in one short trip to downtown St. Louis before we left Scott Air Force Base. The local light rail has an end-of-the-line stop at Scott, so we drove to a parking lot on base and hopped on a train that took us just a couple of blocks from the Arch. We may have set a record for "shortest visit to the Arch."

The lovely exception after that was in Lincoln, where my brother and SIL Don and Trudy live. We had a great visit and a wonderful home made dinner of chicken pie, salad, apple cake and enough IPA beer to get Jim to Salt Lake and then some. Thanks so much, Don and Trud!
A view of St. Louis from my seat on MetroLink, St. Louis' light rail system. If you look near the center you can see the reflection of someone's ear in the glass. Not sure who that is.
St. Louis' Gateway Arch is 630 feet tall and clad in stainless steel. Built as a monument to the westward expansion of United States, it was completed in 1965.  We watched a movie about how it was built.  None of the construction workers were wearing safety harnesses; some guys weren't even wearing safety helmets.  But according to the movie no one died during construction.  
Construction is everywhere at the Arch. Planned improvements include an amphitheater, biking/walking paths and gardens.  I read that the project is expected to be completed in 2017.  
The St. Louis Arch frames the city's Old County Courthouse, which was completed in 1828.  Slave auctions were held here (the last one in 1861) as were all of the trials for the Dred Scott case.  The courthouse now houses exhibits, movies (we watched one about Dred and Harriet Scott) and is an information/ticket center for the Arch.
We crossed the Mississippi River via the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge in St. Louis as we drove to our campground in Columbia. The bridge opened in February 2014, is named for the former St. Louis Cardinals baseball player, and is known locally as the "Stan Span."

Bev and her baby brother saying hi to Mom in Ohio.
Our spot at the Sleepy Sunflower Campground in Ogallala, Nebraska, complete with sunflowers.  It wasn't fancy, but the owners were helpful and with our Passport America membership we had electric/water/sewer and really fast Internet for $17.50.  Next time I want to visit nearby Lake McConaughy, a reservoir on the North Platte River.
As we drove toward Laramie today, we saw so many "Caution: Fog Ahead" signs we thought maybe the fog had burned off before the signs were turned off.  No such luck.  Wyoming's I-80 reaches an elevation of 8,640 feet, and at that point if it's rainy, you are more or less in the clouds. This is the last photo I took of the fog, because from here until the fog cleared it was very thick and both us us had our eyes on the road.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Change of plans

After what’s happened over the last few days, my last post seems near prophetic.  

In a nutshell, I said that we try to travel without campground reservations, as that allows last-minutes changes if something comes up. And two things have come up.

First, the day I wrote that post our tow car engine noticeable “stuttered.”  Twice.  So instead of driving to our next planned stop -- a campground near a river in the Ozarks -- we looked for a campground near a Honda service center.  A military RV park at Scott Air Force Base was just 8 miles from the closest Honda dealer so we booked a spot for three days. 

About that same time, Cooper’s health took another bad turn, so Jim put Cooper back on his meds and we took him to a vet clinic in Carlyle, IL, for an anti-nausea shot. My brother’s vet clinic in Ohio gave him one when we were in Ohio this summer and it really helped. But Cooper is still up and down with the nausea. Also, he can’t consistently get in and out of our motor home. The same thing happened when we were at Atwood Lake with our friends Sandy and Carl. Once we left Atwood, however, Cooper started going in and out of the rig again, so we thought the issue was resolved. Now he’ll walk in and out of the rig in the morning, and out again later in the day -- but at night he just won’t walk back up either of the two ramps Jim uses to assist him.  His not walking up the ramp is a problem because he won’t let you carry him without a struggle.  

Bottom line: We are on our way home to Salt Lake City where we can eliminate the stairs problem with a little construction job on our home’s steps.  We’ll figure things out from there.
Cooper looking handsome despite feeling under the weather.
While we were figuring things out about the car and Cooper, we stayed at the military RV park at Scott Air Force Base. Just outside the base main gate was an aircraft display. Top to bottom: Boeing Stratotanker; C141B Starlifter; and a C-9A Nightingale.
This is a C-130 Hercules, used to air drop troops, fight fires, and for aerial refueling among other duties.  The military plane that crashed earlier this week in Afghanistan, and in which 11 people died, was a C-130.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Eldon Hazlet State Park, Carlyle, IL

We try to not make campground reservations. That way we can stay a little longer than planned -- like we are doing here at Eldon Hazlet State Park in Carlyle, IL -- or move if the mood (or the weather, or who knows what) strikes us.

But we do call ahead to check on availability. I called the Eldon Hazlet SP early last week to see if it was likely they’d have space for us on Friday. They said chances were good. Then I called again Friday morning; they said there was plenty of space at the moment but that the campground's 350 spots fill up on weekends.  

When we arrived about 2 p.m., we had lots of first-come, first serve spots to choose from, including several great ones right on the lake.  By 6 p.m., however, the campground was close to full.  Now it’s Monday and we almost have the place to ourselves. 

As for activities: Yesterday we took a short hike and kayaked among the water fowl. Today we are going to the vet as Cooper is sick again.  If he perks up, tomorrow we’ll take a side trip to St. Louis.
Our campsite at Eldon Hazlet State Park, about 50 miles due east of St. Louis. That's Carlyle Lake, the largest man-made reservoir in Illinois, behind us.  Over the weekend, there were fishing boats going back and forth behind our rig.  Today it's mostly pelicans.
The only bad thing here at the park are the "midges" that come out at night.Here a few lounge on the front of our RV.  They look like big mosquitos, but don't bite.  One evening we were outside and I felt like Tippi Hedron in a bug version of "The Birds."    
One of the park hiking trails goes to the Burnside family cemetery.  James Burnside -- who moved to America from Ireland -- settled here with his wife, Elizabeth, in 1817 when James was 24.  They had six children and farmed 160 acres purchased for $2 each. James died at age 59 in 1851, but there is no record of Elizabeth's death.  We couldn't read all the inscriptions, but a website said death dates on the 19 graves ranged from 1832 to 1868. It appears that the carved gravestones were later reset in cement in an attempt to help preserve them.
American White Pelicans on Lake Carlyle. They have have black fringed wings, but you can barely see the black unless they are flying.

Jim kayaking among the pelicans.
Also at the lake are double crested cormorants, a blacking fish bird with a hooked beak that was once on the endangered species list in Illinois.
And, my eclipse photo.  It was cloudy and rainy most of the day Sunday.  When the eclipse started, the moon was peaking through the clouds.  Then the sky cleared, the eclipse was in total view, and so were the stars. 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

We're in Illinois

We are at Eldon Hazlet State Park in Carlyle, Illinois.  From the back window of our rig we have a wonderful view of Carlyle Lake, the big deal here at the park. The lake is huge; in fact, the campground brochure says at 26,000 acres it's the largest man-made lake in the state. We got here yesterday afternoon and plan to kayak, hike, and watch football. 

Backing up a bit: We left my Mom's (thanks, again Mom!) on Monday and made a quick overnight stop at Buck Creek State Park in Springfield, Ohio. Springfield is where 4-H clubs started. I also read that in 2011 Springfield was named "the unhappiest city in America" by a Gallup poll that used some sort of formula including exercise, asthma, and smoking. Whatever. The campground was nice.

From there we went to Leiber State Recreation Area near tiny Cloverdale, Indiana, a town of what seemed like a hundred Protestant churches. And only one liquor store, as Jim observed. I'd called the campground to see if they had any camping spots available. The man who answered the phone laughed a bit and said "We've got plenty."  And how. Leiber has over 200 camping spaces and we were one of four campers, including the camp host. By Friday morning a handful more had arrived for the weekend. Until then it was mostly us, some very fat wood chucks, and a woodpecker who sounded like he was pecking on a tom-tom drum. Plus the raccoon you'll see below.

At Leiber we kayaked, walked around the park, and made a side trip to Terre Haute. Terre Haute is the home of Indiana State University, the alma mater of Larry Bird, and is where John Wooden coached before he went to UCLA.  It's also home to the Hulman family who emigrated to Terre Haute from Germany in the early 1800s. The Human's sold baking products including what became known as "Clabber Girl" baking soda.They later bought the Indianapolis Speedway, which the family still owns today.
Jim looking at a Halloween mobile at Buck Creek State Park in Springfield Ohio.  Ohio must have a Halloween Decoration Fund, because Buck Creek and the state park near my Mom's house (Findley) were decorated to the hilt.
Our lonely campsite at Leiber State Recreation Area in Cloverdale, Indiana. The big draw to the park is the reservoir called Cagles Mill Lake, created when the Army Corps of Engineers built a dam in 1953. 
Cooper was outside with his dinner when the guy above and his friend slowly approached, hoping for a snack. Jim hollered at them. Instead running away, they went straight up -- where they stayed until Jim took Cooper for a long walk. 

A Leiber State Recreation Area heron.  These awkward-looking, graceful-flying birds are everywhere. Leiber SRA is named for Richard Leiber, the father of Indiana state parks. In 1916 Leiber encouraged Indiana's governor to create a state parks committee.  Leiber chaired the group and began buying land with private funds (including money from the Clabber Girl folks).
Jim saw a "no wake" buoy at the edge of the Leiber SRA's Cagles Mill Lake (named for a local grist mill that burned down) and towed it back where it belonged.  He said it was heavier than it looked.
Cataract Falls, a series of cascades with the largest one being about 20 feet high, is at the north section of Leiber.  Jim saw a sign that called it "Indiana's Niagara."
A covered pedestrian bridge crosses the Eel River near Cataract Falls at Leiber SRA.  Built in 1876, it features a special truss that was more similar to future metal bridge frames than wooden ones at the time. Built in Toledo, Ohio, it was disassembled, transported, and rebuilt at its current location. The bridge carried buggy and vehicle traffic over the river until a nearby concrete bridge was built in 1988.
In Terre Haute we visited the Clabber Girl museum, which included a section of the Hulman family's original Terre Haute mansion, and a display of some of the products Hulman and Company produced.  Hulman  introduced Clabber Girl baking powder in 1899 and bought the Indianapolis Speedway in 1945. You see the Hulman name all over Terre Haute:  the local airport, a golf course, buildings at Indiana State and more carry that name.
Two Terre Haute buildings:  The Vigo County Courthouse and St. Benedict's Catholic Church.  Terre Haute is on the Wabash River on the border of Indiana and Illinois.  Terra Haute means "highland," which probably refers to city's position above the river.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Ground glider

We're at  Leiber State Recreation Area in Cloverdale, Indiana. It's a beautiful park with big deciduous trees and a huge lake.  But before I get going on our latest RV adventure, I have to write one more post about our summer stay at my Mom's in Wellington, Ohio.

Sunday I went to the "Harvest of the Arts" festival in Wellington's town square and had a great time with my high school friend, Sally, and her husband Mike. We ate, wandered around the booths (food, jewelry, clothing, and more), talked to people (Sally and Mike know everyone), and bought honey made from hometown bees.

While I was there, Jim texted me a photo of himself sitting in a glider, sometimes known as a sailplane. On the ground. ???

My Mom's home is near a small air field. Most of the traffic consists of small prop planes towing gliders. Once high in the air, the gliders and planes separate and gliders silently ... well, they glide. They are very pretty and we like to watch them.

Sunday afternoon one of the gliders, as the pilot said, "lost air."  He couldn't make it back to the air strip and landed in a hay field across the road from my Mom. The pilot was OK and so was his glider.  

When Jim went across the street to investigate why a glider was being pushed across a neighbors lawn, the pilot offered to take a photo of Jim sitting in the plane. After the photo shoot, a group of guys hooked the glider to a truck and started to tow it down the road. 

As I was driving back to Mom's, I came across the glider in the middle of an intersection.The guys couldn't make the turn towing the glider with the truck. So they disconnected the glider and were pushing it around the corner.  I got out of my car to take some photos; by the time I finished, the glider was in the middle of the road and aimed at my car.  

I offered to turn around and take a longer way home but the guys said no. They just tipped a wing into the air and I drove right under it.

Jim and the glider.  The neighbors across the road helped push it out of a hay field.  Then guys with a pick up truck showed up and towed it down the middle of the road about 3/4 of a mile to the air strip it where was supposed to land.  
The glider guys trying to navigate a land turn.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Room with a view in Wellington, Ohio

My Mom has a wonderful nearly 180 degree view from her home's east and south facing sun room. I was always running outside to her deck to take photos of the clouds, the sunrise, an advancing storm, a deer in the soy bean field.

The terrain is flat with few large trees nearby, and there are no nearby houses in three directions. So the view is panoramic.  

We left the view and Mom yesterday and are on a diagonal path from Ohio to Arizona.  Thanks for everything, Mom. We miss you and love you.  

An approaching storm as seen from my Mom's sun room. 
The sun rising over the woods, clouds, and a few jet contrails.
The view slightly south of the one immediately above, this time between rainstorms.
And the view a little to the north, on a recent foggy morning and with the help of a telephoto lens. The photo of our motor home at the top of our blog was also taken at my Mom's house several years ago.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

"Other good stuff" post

Our plans for when we arrived in Ohio the end of May were:

--Spend a few nights in Cleveland during the NBA playoffs. Check.

--Visit Pittsburgh. Check.

--Visit our Ohio and Nebraska families. Check.

--Walk a lot. Check.

--Visit lots of people:  Cousins, friends from high school, and of course my Mom who graciously let us impose all summer (thanks, Mom). Lots of checks, but never as many as we want. And of course, half the time I forgot to take photos.

--Take a trip to Buffalo. Fully planned (including RV park reservations and brew pub suggestions from our Buffalo nephew) but not checked.

--Visit Washington, DC; Manhattan; and a few other places east. Never got past the wish list stage.

Cancelled travel plans were due to our dog, Cooper, getting too sick to travel or leave behind. But we had a good vet (my brother) nearby and are staying at Mom's where Cooper didn't have to go up and down steps.  So all is well dog-wise.  And as the 21 blog posts I've made since we arrived in Ohio indicate, we still did a lot -- plus a whole lot more. The photos below are of some of the the not-already-posted-about things we've done. 
My brother Bob and SIL Suzie took us out to dinner and then to the 
Blossom Music Center see the "Divas of Broadway," with the Cleveland Orchestra.  We heard songs from Wicked, Le Miserable, Showboat, Westside Story and more. Wonderful. In the bottom photo is Jim to the left, then Bob, me, and Suzie.  The top photo shows part of the crowd of 13,000 people that bring their lawn chairs and blankets and sit on the lawn.  Another 5,700 can sit in the covered pavilion.  Blossom is inside the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. 
Jim and Bev with the fruits of their labor at Mansfield's Blueberry Patch. We drove to Mansfield, Ohio, to check out Clear Creek Reservoir and a nearby campground.  Clear Creek is would be a great fishing hole, but we were looking more for a kayaking spot -- something with lots of little inlets.  And that's not Clear Creek.  As for the campground, all we saw were RVs with wooden decks attached, so it's obviously for people whose rigs seldom, if ever, move.  But the the Blueberry Patch -- plus a side trip to  Mansfield's Phoenix Brewery -- made up for it.
A happy Afghan strutting his stuff at the Lorain County Kennel Club Show in rural and pretty Henrietta, Ohio. We'd never been to a dog show before and it was fun.
Mini family reunion: Bev's family from left to right back row:  brother Bob; Bob's DIL Jill and son Ben; Bob's wife Suzie holding Elroy the brown poodle puppy; Bev's brother Don; Don's wife Trudy; and Jim.  From row L to R:  Bev; Mom; Don and and Trudy's son Toby.  Missing are Bev's kids and their fams (Ashley, Shad, Mia and Marshall); and Bob and Suzie's daughter, Brooke.  Bob and Suzie live in nearby Brecksville.  Don and Trudy live in Lincoln, NE.  Ben and Jill live in Buffalo.  Toby recently started working in San Francisco.

We went to two parties hosted by my high school friend, Sally, second from right, and her ever congenial husband Mike.  The second party had a large contingent of former Wellington Troop 682 Girl Scouts who still remember the Girl Scout salute.  Pat's Mom was our assistant troop leader. Anne's dad once drove a bus full of us to Washington, DC.  As the story goes, Anne's dad asked those of us in the rear to watch out the window while he backed up -- and as soon as he hit a pole, we told him exactly that. 
We discovered the Vermilion Valley Winery in Henrietta, pictured above, and the Jilbert Winery in Valley City. I've read that northeast Ohio has  more wineries per square mile than any other area of the US, and they do seem to be popping up all over.  
My cousin Rocky, second from left, and his wife Diane, hosted Jim, me and my Mom at their pretty home in Vermilion, Ohio.  Their house backs up to a creek close to where the creek ends at lake Erie.  Lovely.
We made several trips to the college town of Oberlin, Ohio, which is just north of Wellington.  Oberlin was a stop on the Underground Railroad in the 1850's and its college was the first in the nation to admit women and African Americans.  The trip above was made right after Oberlin held its "Chalk Walk" where master artists and enthusiastic amateurs let their creativity flow on public sidewalks. In the photo on the right are SIL Trudy, nephew Toby, brother Don and Jim.
Enjoyed wildlife -- like this white tail deer in a soybean field -- as seen from Mom's sunroom.
Got my photo in the local newspaper.  One morning Mom was looking at a newspaper supplement for a festival  my hometown hosts.  And my pic was in the supplement. It was taken last year, and I was surprised to see it. That's me to the left -- I'm not the blonde, waving, festival princess.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Down at the county fair

As a kid, I loved the Lorain County Fair in Wellington, Ohio. I showed cattle and entered photography projects. I helped my Mom set up the Wellington Grange exhibit. I was on the Junior Fair Board. Mom and I sometimes perused the previous years dessert winners and then made and entered a few less popular categories (I think we got second place out of two in divinity). I helped at the band donut booth, sold tickets for rides, rode the rides, and played in a German band that entertained near the midway.  It was the full fair experience.

It's impossible for the fair to consume or thrill me the same way it did one week in August back in the 1960s, but I still like the fair. And last week was fair week, so Jim and I made two trips to the 170th Lorain County Fair.

Monday night we saw Three Dog Night perform at the grandstand.  The last concert I saw there was given by Pat Boone sometime during the 1960s.

Tuesday I wanted to explore the exhibits. Jim was ready to leave about an hour before I was, but played the good sport as I looked at vegetables, fruit, silage, sewing, gift wrapping (!), bees, candy, wine, heavy equipment, antiques, rabbits, cows, sheep, horses, and you-name-it, they-seem-to-have-a-category-for-it.
We were toward the back but still had good seats for Three Dog Night at the Lorain County Fair Grandstand. I'd forgotten how ubiquitous their songs were in the late '60s and 70's.  Three Dog Night had 12 gold albums and 21 consecutive hits including Momma Told Me Not to Come, Joy to the World, One, Black and White, Shambala, and Old Fashioned Love Song,
From top photo clockwise: 1) Vocalists and original band members Danny Hutton and Corey Wells, with Pat Bautz (whose been with the group since 1993) on drums.  2) A new keyboardist  replaced original keyboardist  Jimmy Greenspoon who died in March at the age of 67.  The new guy was great but I can't find his name anywhere, not even on the 3DN website 3) Bass player  Paul Kingery has been with 3DN since 1985 4) Michael Allsup, who has been with the band since shortly after it formed.
As the sun started to set during the concert, the lights on the midway rides were a great secondary show. 
Bev at a fair selfie spot.
Jim checking out the price of a piece of equipment he thought would come in handy.  It was listed at $49,500. We'll put it on the "very distant future wish list."
I was petting a goat in one of the pens when this young man said "You can pet my goat." Can't resist an offer like that. Love how this goat is leaning his head against the boy.
Gotta keep your horse clean.
 And gotta have some down time with your cows.
A few friendly fair faces.