Thursday, September 27, 2012

Visit with Relatives, NW Arkansas

Yesterday we drove back up to Fayetteville amongst all the "Bikers" to have dinner with two of my children, Stephanie and Ryan.  We met them at the Bleu Monkey Grill in Springdale where we had a nice meal and nice visit.  We will see them again in about 10 days in Pine Bluff, and my oldest son Michael will be flying in too.  Since there was a big storm moving in from Oklahoma, we took the dogs with us too, and they did just fine out in the car for the few hours we were in the Restaurant eating and visiting.

Today I went over to the town of Van Buren to try and find some more Ezekiel Bread, but the one place that was suppose to be carrying it was no longer in business.  I did find a nice car wash and gave the car a good going over.  Later we drove over to Fort Smith where Marcia had relatives.  Sophie is a cousin of her late husband, and I had met her a few times, once in Fort Smith and also in Florida.  She is in her late '80s, and gets around real well, and we enjoyed the visit.  Later we drove over to the Casbah Mediterranean Grill where we met Sophie's son Jim and his wife Pat for dinner.  We enjoyed this dinner as well, and a great visit.  Today the dogs stayed back at the motor home...and although it rained, it was not a major storm.  

Tomorrow we are headed to Petit Jean State Park, where we will stay for two nights before heading on to Pine Bluff.  Will try and get a few pictures, if the weather cooperates that is....

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Oh Lord, Back in Arkansas, Again....

Gotta love Creedence Clearwater Revival if you are my age....and Lodi, which was the real song that "they were back in" is only 30 miles south of where I grew I thought the title was fitting to my coming back to Arkansas after being gone for 6 months.

We left Chicago/Indiana area on Monday morning, and made it to a rest area in Missouri along I-44, about 50 miles west of St. Louis, where we got more fuel.  Wish I would have waited until we got into Missouri...would have saved $6 since it was 20 cents per gallon cheaper for diesel....oh well.  Here are some pictures of the rest area which I took this morning, since it was late when we pulled in last night.
 Above is a view of the car parking and bathrooms, while below is the view of the truck parking.
We were in the second truck/RV parking spot, the first slot had a motor home in it, but they had left by now.
We had our first encounter with people who are up to no good this morning.  There was a knock on the door at 7:15 am.  A young man, about 22 years old, starting telling me this story, through the small window next to the door (because I don't open the door until I know what is up).  He said that this guy had won $180K at the tables last night, and had set up breakfast down the way and was giving out food and gas money to anyone who shows up.  I politely told him where to go (long trip, hotter spot and more barren than the Badlands, if you know what I mean...).  Well, I actually just told him to go away....but it is times like this that we wish we were carrying....would have been kind of nice to be holding something in my hand, in his view, while I talked him...that is for sure.  About 5 minutes later, we heard some voices outside between our motor home and the one next to us.  There were five young guys, the first included, running a card game scam on what I found out later was the guy in the motor home next to us.  He said that he lost about $150 to them....and they took off real quick.  

We hit the road around 8:30 after coffee, and drove to the nearest Cracker Barrel we could find, about an hour and a half away.  We have not been to a Cracker Barrel for at least 5 months, probably more like six or seven....neither of us could remember.  And we were lucky, it was not busy, and we found a spot in the back to park the big rig.  About 30 more minutes down the road we found a real nice rest area....separate parking for motor homes and trucks...wish I could have made it two more hours last night...but we are going to have to remember this one in case we are ever in the area again in the future.

Around 3 we made it to Fayetteville, and pulled into the RV Park.  I knew there were no games going on, so I thought it would be easy....but I forgot about checking on the Bikes, Blues and BBQ dates....and we won the lottery on that was just starting up today with the early arrivals.   So we drove down to Alma and will stay at the KOA there for a few days and travel up to Fayetteville to have dinner with Stephanie and Ryan.  
 Above is a view to our left side (driver side) towards the KOA office, while below is behind and to the left, the only RV spot back there.

 Above is to our right side, and there is no spot beyond them, and there is plenty of room between us and them.  Below is directly behind us.

Above is in front of us, and it is the doggie run fence, but lots and lots of grass.  I think Skruffy seems to know she is back in Arkansas...she started to sniff out the window as we entered the state from Missouri, and she has been along that route a number of times when we went up to Missouri to visit my parents before they moved out to California.  And the grass here is much different than the grass out west and up north...and of course, the humidity here.  Below is our RV parked in our will be nice place to visit while in the area, I only wish we could have been closer to the kids.
We will also visit Marcia's cousin in Fort Smith while we are in the area too.  Then, after perhaps a stop at Petit Jean State Park, we will be in Pine Bluff by Monday for a week or so.  It will be nice to see friends and visit my Rotary Club, and all the kids will be in town for Ryan's Birthday the first weekend in October.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Cedar Lake, Indiana

On Friday we traveled the 100 miles over to Cedar Lake, Indiana, near to where Marcia grew up in Gary, Indiana.  We left the Fish Lake Beach Resort in Volo where we were staying, and were happy to move on.  Again, why we would ever stay in what they call a "Resort" is beyond my comprehension, and I hope in the future that we don't do it again.  This place was not as expensive as the one we stayed at last weekend, but in this case, the "resort" is all but a is a place for people to put in their RV's and stay during the spring, summer and fall, and then move down south to warmer climates for late fall, winter and early spring.  Some of the sites have the park units on them year round, so during the winter the "resort" becomes a dead resort since everyone has to leave except for the owners and permanent workers.  But for us who travel, this is the type of park we just don't want to be in.

The travel through the Chicago area went fine, but it did take nearly 3 hours to move the 100 miles into Indiana.  It cost us $7.50 for toll roads, and we did stop for 15 minutes about half way there at a toll road rest station, which they call an "Oasis".  

We found out about our destination, Cedar Lake Ministries RV Park through the RV park reviews, one of the main sites I use to try and find out about where to stay when we are going to be in an area.  Cedar Lake Ministries started out as Cedar Lake Conference Association back in the 1923, and the grounds has been church oriented, being associated with the Moody Church of Chicago, about 5 years prior to that.  The RV park was created back in 1995, and has 30 slots.  There is good distance between many of the sites, and this time of year, there are around a dozen RVs here, so everyone has plenty of room.  And with a price of $29 for full hookups, along with free Internet (which was just added within the past few months), it is a great deal for the Chicago area.
Above is a look to our left, and below a look to our right.
Below is across the road....and there are no spots behind we have shade, privacy, and it is very quiet.
Below is our slot, gravel pad, and the dogs give it "two paws up" because there is plenty of grass and a few squirrels running around.  But we have seen no other dogs here.
Today we took a quick day trip into South Gary, Indiana to visit the grave sites of her mother, step-father, grandmother (YiaYia) and her grandfather (Papou).  [note: Greek notations in parentheses]

Marcia was raised in Gary, which had a very large Greek population back in the early to mid 1900's.  She called the cemetery and the lady in the office said that the office would be open only until noon, and since it was 10 am, we had to get on the stick and out the door.  We pulled up at the cemetery at 11, and they lady had a map ready with the sites marked of where her family was laid.  I am glad she called...because there are hundreds and hundreds of Greek grave sites within this very large made it very easy to find.

Above is the grave's of her mother, Helen, and her step-father Hercules.  Below is the grave's of her YiaYia, Mary (far right), her step-father Constantine (second from the left) and two of her Uncles, Anthony "Tony" (far left) and Anthoulis (second from the right).
Marcia said that as they laid her YiaYia into the grave in 1974, she was standing right next to her Uncle Tony and Marcia said, "right there is where Tony will lay"....and a few months later he died from complications of surgery, and was laid right where she said he would lay.  Uncle Tony served in WW2, fighting in the Battle of Guadalcanal, and at the foot of the grave is this additional military marker (below).
For about an hour after we got back into the car, we drove slowly around the four or five Greek areas within this large cemetery, and Marcia would say, "Oh, there's [some Greek last name], they were a doctor, or store owner, or "I went to school with their daughter", or "I remember YiaYia talking about them"....and the most frequent saying, "Oh, I did not know they had passed...."  It brought back many a good memory for her, and I sure enjoyed butchering just about every last name I said as I tried to pronounce the Greek names I saw.  She saw a few other more distant relatives too....and it was a somewhat "enjoyable" time as she remembered mostly good things about the people she use to know.  (Once she said a few choice Greek words and spit, later saying "They stole money from my Uncle!".....but most were very fond memories....)

As we left, I asked her if she wanted to go deeper into Gary....but she wisely said "No"....sometimes it is better to remember the good things about your past....and not see the decay and downfall of what is now Gary Indiana, compared to the more glorious days from the past.  We did drive by the Saints Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Church in Merrillville.  The old Greek Church she attended in Gary was sold and is now a Koinonia Missionary Baptist Church.

While in Merrillville, we drove through the Panera Bread window and got two soup bowls to go.  This is the first drive through we have seen at Panera, and it came in very handy because temperatures were in the low 50's with a pretty steady wind today.  It is going to be in the very low 40's tonight, and mid-50's again tomorrow.  Thank goodness we head south on Monday.  Tomorrow we are going to attend church in Crown Point, about 12 miles from the RV park, and then hope to have lunch with one of Marcia's Cousins.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Volo Auto Museum

Yesterday when Marcia was talking to her son John over the phone reminiscing about the old homesteads in Barrington, he suggested that we visit the Volo Auto Museum which is not too far from Barrington.  So that is what we did today.

The Volo Auto Museum is rated by some as one of the top ten auto museums in the nation.  It cost us $20 to get in, but it was well worth it.  At the entrance there is this gas station exhibit (below), which kinda kicks off the atmosphere of the place.

The Museum is laid out into four different buildings, along with the main entrance building which includes the “Betty Boop Grill” and the “Kids Exhibits”, and another area where they have new arrivals.  When they have “car shows”, there is a large show grounds area outside, but we did not travel in that area since there was no car show today.
The Betty Boop Grill (above) is a nice little place to eat, and well decorated.  After going through half of the exhibits, we went back to the grill to get some lunch.  We both had the BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich, which turned out to be pretty good.  There were a few others in there eating too, and everyone seemed to be enjoying their lunch.

Just beyond the entrance is the Kids Exhibits, and I really enjoyed it too.  All sorts of vehicles from various kids cartoons and movies.  Below is a sample of what they have.

As we went outside to enter the first exhibit building, we looked at the new arrivals.  This museum offers many of their cars for sale, a bit of a unique trait compared to other car museums.  Marcia fell in love with this 1966 Ford Mustang (below).  It is painted in Arcadian Blue with a Blue-White Pony Deluxe Interior.  It is a 280 V-8 3 speed, and has only had two owners, and has been driven 67,500 miles. They are asking $14,999.
As for me, I loved this 1960 Austin Healy 3000...the closest thing to my first car, a 1965 Austin Healy Sprite.  This Austin Healy has a 6 cylinder, overhead valves, 4-speed, with 31.235 miles and the pain in the butt dual carberators.  They were asking a mere $45,998!  Sorry, did not have my check book on me....
As we entered the first exhibit hall, this old RV caught my eye....reminded me of the travels we made when I was a kid with my family in our old VW Bus.  Told Marcia we could have saved a lot of money on our Motor Home by buying this VW RV for under half the price....but she did not seem to like that idea.
The number of cars in this museum is unbelievable....a few hundred is my guess.  The age ranged from the early 1900's on up, but we don’t recall seeing any which were made in this century.  Below is just a small sample.  In some cases I have written down the model information, and sometimes the price they are asking for.  Remember, if you click on a picture, it will open up to a larger size.....

They also have a number of cars which have been in movies and TV shows, and others which were built to honor a movie star or famous musician, a few of these are shown below.

And finally, the early style cars...they just don’t make them like this anymore!

Well, we really enjoyed our couple of hours at the Car was not very crowded, Marcia was able to get around in the GoGo without a problem, and we felt it was worth the $10 each to get in.  If you are ever in the area, you should put it on your “things to do” list.