Monday, September 17, 2018

Home Again…But AREN’T We Always?

Home in Holiday / Tarpon Springs area, FL

Home Sweet Home

On March 22nd we left our home in Holiday / Tarpon Springs Florida.  The Condo is in Holiday right near the city line to Tarpon Springs, the PO Box is in Tarpon Springs, and the motorhome is stored in Palm Harbor right near the city line to Tarpon Springs…hence, Holiday / Tarpon Springs Florida is where we live.  On Saturday, September 15th, we arrived back in the Holiday / Tarpon Springs Florida area.  Our six month trip included just over 8,000 miles, 16 states, and if I counted right, 75 blog postings.

Sandy Arny's

But we live in the motorhome more than we live in the Condo…so our “Home Sweet Home” is ALWAYS with us…like at Sandy and Arny’s house above…

Alabama Hills

…the Alabama Hills in California, a new place for us this year…

Leob State Park    Huntley Park

…at Loeb State Park (left) and Huntly Park (right), where we spent five cool weeks in Oregon for our second straight year…

Lake Granby

…and Lake Granby in Colorado, two more cool weeks in the middle of summer, also a new place for us.

Condo

But the Condo is our Winter Home…this year, our Fall and Winter Home…our HOT FALL HOME, where our temps have been in the low 90’s with humidity that is very unbearable. Right now, 10:30 pm, and 80 degrees and 80% humidity.  YUCK!  But inside, it is a comfortable 72 degrees…and now that we have everything out of the motorhome that we needed out of it, well, the comfort of home is here, and cool temps are just around the corner (in a month or two).  We pulled in around 3 pm Saturday, unloaded a chunk of it, and put the motorhome in the RV park nearby for two nights…besides moving stuff out, it needed a good cleaning before storage.  We surprised everyone at church on Sunday too.  All is fine at the condo, we got our Internet up this morning, that huge stack of mail has been taken care of, and Marcia has the laundry all caught up.  Tomorrow, after I help our neighbor retrieve her walker from the airport (she flew in yesterday and forgot her walker at the airport), there will be some shopping to do, and a run over to the motorhome because I just remembered that I forgot to open the ceiling vents.  There is always something…

Friday, September 14, 2018

500 down...Cracker Barrel hot night

At Cracker Barrel in Crestview Florida

Other than some very heavy rain and wind in Southern Mississippi, the trip today went well.  Having made the trip from Arkansas to Florida many times after we got married, I felt very comfortable with our route.  Leaving at 8:30 am, we pulled into Cracker Barrel by 8 pm having traveled 500 miles or more.  Unfortunately, it is 80 degrees with 70 percent humidity...but it is what it is.  No pics tonight...time to catch some hot ZZZzzz...


Thursday, September 13, 2018

Six Years After Retirement

At Saracen RV Park, Pine Bluff, AR



1a

Above is Saracen Landing, it is where, back in February 2011, Marcia and I got married.

1b

That was us back then…me, 100 pounds or so more than I am now…her, as lovely as ever.  It was a cold, slightly rainy, February day…dogs in the car, and just her, me and the minister.

1c

This is Robert…the minister.  Back in 2011, he was also a fellow Rotarian, and a member of my Library Board.  He would not take any money to marry us, but I insisted that he take it and “give it to someone who needs it…”, which I am sure he did. 

2a

In 2005 I separated from my first wife, a devout Mormon, and I just could not go along with the tenants and beliefs of the church anymore.  That said, I bought a 5th wheel, and moved out to Saracen Park, 2+ miles deep into the Jefferson County Regional Park, safe from the crime and rampage of the Pine Bluff area.  Abundant with deer (above) and and a $300 (now $350) monthly rent including water, power and a dump station…it was the best place to live.  By 2010, I had met Marcia online, in February 2011 we married with the plan that I take an early retirement, and we travel for most of the year.  That was in 2011…in 2012 I retired and we started our travels.  It is one of the best things I ever did in my life….

3a    3b

While here, I paid my respects to the living and the dead.  Miss Ann, Virginia Ann Lightsey (bottom right), was the children’s librarian at the Library for over 30 years.  I can remember coming home from church on Easter, and she and a friend had decorated the outside of our house, and hid Easter Eggs for our kids, and left…knowing that they would enjoy them.  Every Halloween she would stack up on Halloween Candies and Cakes and Treats, and had something SPECIAL for each and everyone of “HER KIDS”, those who came to Storytime on a regular basis, when they came by her house…we would go by each year with the kids, near the end of the night, and she would have so much stuff that she tried to load off on us.  The next day at work, the break room became a candy/cake store.  That is how Miss Ann was.  I miss her to this day…she was a very special person, never married, never had biological kids, but has as many kids today as any school teacher around.  Her influence moved kids to become doctors, lawyers, you name it, they became it.  In 1999, one Wednesday night in February I left work, headed to church for a youth program…saw this wreck on the way going the other side of the major road.  Did not think much of it…until I got home an hour or so later.  That wreck was Miss Ann and her mom…her mom died the next day.  Miss Ann was fine, but they were worried about shadows in her abdomen.  It was Cancer.  She lived another 6 years.  On the way to a Library Conference in Phoenix, March 2002, three of us drove there…left early enough that we could visit the Grand Canyon if weather permitted…it did.  She LOVED that trip…and somewhere in the middle of Oklahoma, in a Cracker Barrel Restaurant, a young man, about 22, comes up to our table.   “You are ‘Miss Ann’, aren’t you?”  “Yes I am, and you are (and she named his named).  WOW, one of her “KIDS” had found her all the way in the middle of Oklahoma!   I will never forget that.

4a    4b

It was nice to see the folks at the Rotary Club of West Pine Bluff today…my club for 20+ years, and I am still a Honorary Member.  There was a time that we had around 70 members…40-50 coming to meetings…today there were around 20 there.  I was the President for a year back in the mid-90’s…then the newsletter and webmaster, moving the club from paper newsletters to the Internet, saving lots and lots of $$$$.  Today, Robert told me that he is the webmaster, and it is a nice website which creates webpages from a database of names and important dates. 

I decided early on not to take pictures of the various libraries…but I visited or drove by each one of them.  Took Skruffy to the Main Library where for 2 years she was the “Library Dog”.  I surprised many a staff member by just showing up…it was fun.

After Rotary I went by the local “older peoples” home, this one which has apartments, then Assisted Living, then Nursing all at the same location.  One of my favorite Library Patron, Ann Johnston, moved in there a few years ago.  Ann is 98 years old…living in the ‘apartment’ living area.  I knocked on her door, which was partway open…said, “Hello, Ann…”, and she said, “Come in”.  The look on her face as she saw me was just precious.  When she was 95 years old, she was still bowling…even broke 100 once in awhile.  Back in 1994, I first met her because she was looking for a way to gather and store her genealogy.  I told her the computer was the way to go, and she had NEVER used one before.  By 1996, she had over 500 names in her genealogy database.  Many times I would go over to her house and get her computer working again…replacing a power supply, or a mouse or keyboard.  I acquired at least two newer computers over the years, through her limited funds, to keep her up and going.  Last I remember, she had sent over 2000 names to a genealogy database to store for the use of others in the future. 

Pine Bluff is combating Poverty and Urban Deterioration of the town.  In 1970, Pine Bluff had a population of 57,400 people.  Today, it is estimated to be under 43,000.  White Flight has plagued the community since the 1980’s, and the downtown area is now nearly non-existent outside of Simmons Bank Headquarters, the County Courthouse, and the City Complex (where Main Library is located).  By 2020, there should be a new Main Library across the street from Simmons Bank.  They have demolished some of the more derelict old downtown buildings, and there are commitments for new buildings and revised older buildings…but none of this has come to pass yet.  Time will tell.  I hope things get better.

It was so nice to see so many friends and former colleagues.  It is sad that a few of them have passed on, a couple since I left in 2012.  Those who are still around, I hope to see again when we come through in April of next year.  Now, the final stage towards home…

Monday, September 10, 2018

Made it back to Arkansas

At Cracker Barrel, Alma, AR

Cracker Barrel, Alma, Arkansas

We left Blue Springs right around 9 am, had light traffic most of the way.  Stopped in Joplin Missouri for gas, coffee (at Flying J), and an RV Wash (Blue Beacon next door).  The line to get washed was a little over average, taking nearly an hour to get through, but at least our baby motorhome is clean again!

Cracker Barrel, Alma, Arkansas

Stopped in Alma because Marcia’s first husband has a cousin living in the area, Jim, the son of Sophie whom we use to stop and see every time we were in the area.  Jim and wife Pat came over from Fort Smith to the Cracker Barrel, and we all enjoyed a nice two hour visit with dinner.

Kansas City Airport

Yesterday I picked my youngest son Ryan up at the KC Airport, flying in from a SACA meeting in Milwaukee.  Ryan is the chapter president of the Student American Chiropractic Association for Cleveland University - Kansas City.  He loves it anytime he can be an advocate for the Chiropractic field.  He graduates next April.

Ryan at Kansas City Airport 

His dad, however, needs to learn how to take “stealth shots” with the camera better…this is him getting in the car at the airport with guards looking at me with that “You have 30 seconds at the curb buster” type of look.

Kansas City Royals Staduim

On the drive to the airport I was able to get this shot of the Royal’s Baseball field…tried to get Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Chief's too, but this is the best I got.

Cracker Barrel, Alma, Arkansas

Just before I went out to get pictures, this truck pulling a small trailer pulled up.  WHY they felt so compelled to park right next to us, is beyond my comprehension.  As of now, I don’t know if they are going to stay the night or not.  It is not that this was the only spot available…there is an empty spot right next to it, and the parking lot is not that full.  I know they have a small black dog, it stared at me as I took Skruffy and Bubba out for their last walk of the day…big buggy eyes, did not bark, just stared.  Hoped that the rest of the family, “IF” they stay the night, are not loud either…but they came out of the restaurant, got the dog, got into the truck and OFF THEY FLEW!  Winking smile

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Family Visit and Blue Springs Lake Campground

At Blue Springs Lake Campground, Lee’s Summit, MO

Back in 1991 when I took a job in Arkansas, mom and dad followed very quickly by moving from California to Independence / Blue Springs Missouri area where they had friends, and mom had two brothers, two sister-in-laws, nieces and nephews living nearby.  Now, mom and dad live back in California…and only one sister-in-law is left…Aunt Vera.  I have shown pictures of my cousin Donald a few times…he and I are the same age…this is his mother.  Don’s sister Cassie has lived in the area since the 1970’s, and her and her husband Rick sold their home recently and moved in with aunt Vera who is 92, still climbs the stairs a few times each day, and has lived independently since Uncle Harold, a Pearl Harbor survivor, died in 2002, shortly after attending the 60th anniversary of the attack with a honor trip back to Pearl Harbor.  It was nice to see Aunt Vera and Cousin Cassie, her daughter Allison and Allison’s three children…sorry that Rick had to work, but as a bonus, my oldest brother’s daughter Kathryn and her husband Dallas, a Jackson County Fire Fighter, were able to meet us there.  Before long, 3 hours had come and gone...and we were gone again without any pictures.  Gotta remember to take that camera to these events!
 

Blue Springs Lake, Lee's Summit, MO

Blue Springs Lake is a 720 acre reservoir located near Lee’s Summit, west of Kansas City, south of Independence. It is located in Fleming Park, a public park in Jackson County which also contains Lake Jacomo, another 900 acre lake which is right up against Blue Springs Lake.  There are two campgrounds in Fleming Park, both administered by the Jackson County Parks and Recreation Department, which also operates a third campground nearby called Longview Campground along Longview Lake.  All three campsites have a combination of full hookups ($33) or electric/water ($25) or tent ($21) with water nearby, and there is a slight discount for senior citizens.  (We are paying $31 per night for full hookups)  All campgrounds take reservations, but we are outside of the busy season, and easily got in without one…but there is no extra cost if you do reserve, which can be done through the Park and Rec website.

Blue Springs Lake Campground, Lee's Summit, MO

Most RV sites are very deep, and can handle any size of a RV.

Blue Springs Lake Campground, Lee's Summit, MO

Some, like the one above, have two sites right next to each other…great for camping with a friend…not so great if you don’t know your neighbor because they are like “right next to you”.

Blue Springs Lake Campground, Lee's Summit, MO

Here is an example with a large Class A motorhome in a full hookup spot.

Blue Springs Lake, Lee's Summit, MO

Although there are no sites with direct access or views of the lake, it is a short drive in either direction to get to the lake.  There is also a boat marina located at all three lakes, and there are also picnic shelters, and Blue Springs Lake has a swimming beach, and lots of fishing at all three lakes.

Blue Springs Lake, Lee's Summit, MO

Here is a playground which is close to our campground.

Friday, September 7, 2018

The Buck Stops Here – Truman Library

At Blue Springs Lake Campground, Lee’s Summit, MO

Harry S. Truman Presidental Library

Arriving in the Kansas City / Independence area yesterday, and with plans to visit with my Aunt (and other relatives) tomorrow, we decided to take some time today to visit the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library in Independence.  I have been here at least 3 or 4 times before, but Marcia had never visited it before.  Above and below is a re-creation of the Oval Office during Harry Truman’s administration.

Harry S. Truman Presidental Library    Harry S. Truman Presidental Library

As you stand at the entrance, you hear Harry Truman’s talking about the items in the oval office, such as…

Harry S. Truman Presidental Library

…“The globe, in front of the mantel, replaces the one which was given to me by General Eisenhower at his headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany, in Nineteen Hundred and Forty-Five. When General Eisenhower succeeded me in the Presidency, I returned the original globe to him.”

Harry S. Truman Presidental Library    Harry S. Truman Presidental Library

One thing not found in the oval office re-creation is “The Buck Stops Here” sign, which has its own display just as you enter the Oval Office re-creation area.  If you click on the right picture (above) you can read about the famous desk sign.

Harry S. Truman Presidental Library

Harry S. Truman was born in Lamar Missouri, May 8, 1884.  While the "S" did not stand for any one name, it was chosen as his middle initial to honor both of his grandfathers, Anderson Shipp Truman and Solomon Young.  After fighting in WW1, and after a few shots at running and owning a business, in 1922 he was elected as County Court Judge of Jackson County's eastern district (like a County Administrator), his first shot at politics.  In 1934 he was elected as a US Senator, and in November 1944 elected Vice President, taking office in January 1945, and then taking over as President with the death of Roosevelt just 82 days later.

Harry S. Truman Presidental Library

As with all of the Presidential Libraries I have been in, the Truman Library is full of historical displays, lots of information (one could feel an information overload at times), and on this day…a small crowd.  We took the 45 minutes to watch a movie about Truman’s life, narrated by whom I think is David McCullough, and it was very interesting…and the 45 minutes flew by.  Well worth seeing.

Harry S. Truman Presidental Library

Harry S. Truman Presidental Library    Harry S. Truman Presidental Library

Harry and Bess's graves, Harry S. Truman Presidental Library

In the outer courtyard, the graves of Harry and Bess lay in peace…with an eternal flame, and flags from the 48 states that he was President over (Hawaii and Alaska were granted statehood after his Presidency)  It has been raining off and on here today, and we were able to get out there during a slight break in the drizzly weather.

Harry S. Truman Presidental Library

The Library (museum) is open daily, except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.  It is open from 9-5, except on Sunday when it opens at noon.  There are so many exhibits that I just can’t decide which ones to show…so I will let you, the reader, come to the Library and see it for yourself.  Well worth the $8, $7 if you are over 65, $3 for children between the ages of 6 to 15, and free for children 5 and under.  Their website is also full of information.  They just don’t make politicians like Harry anymore…

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Drab Kansas, Cracker Barrel Layover

At Cracker Barrel, Junction City, Kansas

Cracker Barrel, Junction City, Kansas

Yep, we did make it to Cracker Barrel, Junction City Kansas…all 357 miles!  The last time we drove that far in a day was back in June when we drove from Citrus Heights to Crescent City on our way to Oregon.  We were just under that twice on our way from Citrus Heights to Lake Jordanelle back in August when we left California.  For the most part lately, we have been keeping under 250.

I-70 near Colorado-Kansas Border   I-70  in Western Kansas

Today, the entire day, the weather was very drab…turn on wipers, turn off wipers, looks like the sun is going to pop out, the sun does not pop out.

I-70  in Central Kansas

After being surrounded by the Rocky Mountains for so many weeks, it was strange that the tallest thing we saw was windmills.  With around 15% of the windmills standing idle, despite a constant 10-20 mph wind from the North-Northwest, it made me think….   What if only 85% of the cell towers actually worked, would people care?  What if only 85% of the hydroelectric generators worked?  What if only 85% of the new cars actually ran??  What if your electricity was only available 85% of the time???  It seems that so many times when I pass windmills like these, that 15% of them are sitting idle despite a good wind.  Makes me wonder why…

Cracker Barrel, Junction City, Kansas

Had a nice sleep at Flagger Reservoir, although a third RV came into the area around 10 pm.  We were the first of the group to leave, after feeding the dogs at 7:30 (now it will be 8:30 since we crossed into Central Time).  Arrived at Cracker Barrel about 5:15, about nine and a half hours later…stopping for coffee at the first gas station we could get into, at the Kansas Welcome Center to cook breakfast, at the first Pilot/Flying J in Kansas to get some real coffee, at a few rest areas, and at a Flying J in Salina for gas.  Had a good dinner, and scored a Blake Shelton and a Brad Paisley CD, each for $3.99!   As far as I can tell, we are one of two RVs staying the night in Cracker Barrel, and I re-hooked up the HHR just before writing this blog so we can just pull out and go in the morning.  Hope the coffee at the nearby truck stop is better than the Conaco we stopped at first thing this morning.  And we will probably stay at the first rest area along the way for a much longer so that by the time we pass through Kansas City…the traffic will be light.  We only have 150 miles to go tomorrow…

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Motorhome Makes it Over 11,000 Foot Pass

At Flagler Reservoir and State Wildlife Area, Flagler, CO

Eisenhower Tunnel, elevation 11,158, I-70, Colorado

Colorado has some high passes…some very high passes.  We had three choices before us…go through the National Park, which has an elevation of 12,183 feet, go through Berthoud Pass on US-40, which has an elevation of 11,307 feet, or head west on US-40, south on highway 9, and then travel east on I-70 with an elevation of 11,158 feet, and is 40+ miles longer than the Berthoud Pass route along US-40.  Going through the National Park was out immediately…going up 12,000 feet on a two lane road, and then going through Estes Park, Boulder, etc…just was not going to happen.  Going over Berthoud Pass, on a two lane road…well, it was doable, but just not the wise thing to do in my opinion.  So we took the longer route through Silverthorne, which is located where highway 9 and I-70 meet.  Once on I-70, we had 10 miles of incline…going as slow as 30 mph at times, but no real curves to negotiate, and three lanes of Interstate roadway.  Just put it in 2nd gear, and slowly made the climb up and up and up…and then into the Eisenhower Tunnel, where a slight decline starts, and then a near constant decline all the way into Denver.

Fall has just started, Lake Granby, Colorado    Fall has just started, Lake Granby, Colorado
Fall has just started, Lake Granby, Colorado    Fall has just started, Lake Granby, Colorado

Fall was definitely arriving fast at Lake Granby.  On Monday we went into town to do a bit of grocery shopping to hold us over until we reach the Kansas City area, and we both noted the colors on the trees which we had not noticed when we arrived two weeks ago.  We had a few nights down in the 30s while we were there, and a month from now the highs will be in the 50’s, lows in the 20’s.  It was time to move on regardless…and Sunset Point will shut down before the end of the month, although a few of the parks do have a few camping spots available during the winter, mainly for the hard core hunters and fishing fanatics. 

Byers Canyon, Colorado

A small portion of today’s travel was along US-40, going over the same ground that we took to get to Lake Granby.  Just west of Hot Sulphur Springs, is Byers Canyon, a short gorge cut out by the Colorado River.  Told Marcia that when we left Lake Granby, she would be in a better position to take some pics…and she got some good ones. 

Byers Canyon, Colorado     Byers Canyon, Colorado
Byers Canyon, Colorado

The rock formations along the walls of the canyon are wonderful, now if only we could have had a train going along the tracks which run on the other side of the Colorado River from the roadway….

Colorado River emerging from Byers Canyon, Colorado

Goodbye US-40, and the great Colorado River.

Green Mountain Reservoir, Colorado

Between US-40 and I-70 along highway 9 is the Green Mountain Reservoir.  In previous posts about Lake Granby I mentioned the tunnel that takes water from the western slopes and moves it to the eastern slopes where 80% of Coloradans live.  Well, Green Mountain Reservoir was completed before all of the other reservoirs that help divert the water from the west to the east because environmentally minded folks wanted to be sure that the water was replaced that was taken away.  This time of year, the water level in the lake is very low due to this diversion.  It has a capacity of 153,000 acre feet.


Highway 9 between Kremmling and Silverthorne Colorado   Highway 9 between Kremmling and Silverthorne Colorado

Going the route we did, we entered highway 9 at Kremmling Colorado, elevation of 7,300 feet…and exited onto I-70 at Silverthorne Colorado, elevation 9,000 feet.  In between, besides the Green Mountain Reservoir, is some fine ranch lands, and the highway department has provided large fences with crossovers above and below the highway for any wildlife that needs to cross.

Denver Colorado

Soon we were in Denver…

Headed east on I-70, Colorado

And once through Denver, and the lighter than expected traffic, and a quick stop for the dogs to use the plush green grass, something they had not seen for awhile, we were headed east along a fairly straight, fairly level I-70, and I finally was able to use cruise control.

Storm to our east on I-70, Colorado

After another stop in Limon for gas and propane (those 30-40 degree nights tend to eat up the propane even when you have the thermometer set to 63 degrees), we got closer to our destination…Flagler Colorado.  Just a dozen miles away, and low and behold…a storm.  Thank goodness there was a rest area just down the road from when this picture was taken, where we sat out the storm for about an hour.

I-70 Diner, Flagler, Colorado   I-70 Diner, Flagler, Colorado

Weren’t we surprised to see a Pink Caddy up in the air at our exit…right in front of I-70 Diner, an old Kroll's Diner out of North Dakota.  The owner bought it, shipped it down on 6 semis, and after they acquired the land, had it open within two months.  600 people came to eat on opening day, July 4, 2007.

Flagler Reservoir State Wildlife Area, Colorado    Flagler Reservoir State Wildlife Area, , Colorado

I was looking for a place to stay near the border of Colorado and Kansas.  Came across Flagler State Recreation Area on Google Maps, and found that it’s real name is “Flagler Reservoir State Wildlife Area “, and one can camp here for free.  We took a chance, and no one else was around other than a car or two checking it out.  The lake is fairly dry this time of year, and we have seen nor heard from any animals (outside of Skruffy and Bubba).

Flagler Reservoir State Wildlife Area, Colorado

As dusk neared, this little trailer pulled by a car went around to the other side of the lake, then came back and parked way down from us.  Other than a farmer or two driving by, and a natural gas truck making a delivery, we have not seen anyone else.

Sun setting west of Flagler, Colorado

A panoramic view of the sun going down behind another thunder storm.  We have not had rain as of 8:00 pm, although there was a storm warning about 20 east of us, but that expired.

Storm east of Flagler, Colorado

This is what it looked like to the east…warning said there was hail, and the storm was not moving…I guess it played itself out.  We have seen some flashes of thunder, but I think everything is settling down now.  Tomorrow we have our eyes set on a Cracker Barrel.  Sisters Sandy and Patti tried to take Mom and Dad out to the brand new Cracker Barrel in Sacramento for Sandy’s birthday last week…the wait was going to be at least 90 minutes so they went somewhere else.  I don’t think we will be having that problem…I am just hoping we get to stay the night.