Think about this ... "be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle"

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Not so Fartogo

Ha ha ha, I just crack myself up sometimes!  Not so far to go to FARGO, ND.

See that picture above - role reversal!  Yup, Rick took that picture because yours truly was driving the coach ~ something I haven't done in quite a while.  I don't really like to drive with the trailer (total length at that point is 68 feet).  Since we took only the coach (with the two bicycles in the living room/kitchen area), no car, no trailer, no motorcycles, I decided I was good to drive for 90 miles of the 240 mile trip up to Fargo.  Since ND was one of the two remaining continental states we hadn't been to we thought this was a good time to go on up.

We stayed at a campground (Lindenwood Campground) in Fargo.  We had really mixed feelings about this city park.  The great things, it was right on the Red River, campsites had some grass, some had trees, it was fairly quiet at night in spite of the fact that I94 was right there.  They delivered firewood to our site (remember we had no car), there was a wonderful city bicycle path, part of which went through the park.

The not so great parts, well the electric was very very weak (in fact it often couldn't even power our Keurig!  Some of you may know how VERY important my morning coffee is to me - don't talk to me, don't look at me, don't get near me until I've had at least 1/2 of my first cup ~ just a warning.  The "check in process" was absolutely insane, as there was no one to check us in until 4:00 pm (we arrived around 2:30), there was no map showing available sites, it was very frustrating to say the least so we just decided to find an empty site and "check in" at 4:00.  The fire pits were filled with ash and litter, the sites were VERY unlevel, there was no one around during the day if a problem should arise.  Apparently the city of Fargo doesn't realize the value of work campers or volunteers!

I'd been yearning for a camp fire for a long time (probably since we left Florida I guess).  So we had one every night - YEAH.  I must admit, I am one terrific fire builder thanks to the lessons of my older sister Candy who indeed taught me well (thanks Candy)!

Isn't it amazing how dry the ground is!  To think that two years ago this area was devastated by floods from the pretty Red River!

The first day we were there (or maybe it was the second, I can't seem to remember!) we bicycled 4 1/4 miles.  The second bicycle day we rode 12 miles (seriously, I didn't know I was capable).  It may have been more than 12, but we can't be sure because some less than nice person stole Rick's speedometer/odometer off his bike while we were enjoying (well I enjoyed) a nice lunch at Monte's in downtown Fargo.  I loved the place but it was a bit "much" for Rick, and the theft really put a damper on it after the fact.  I do know that before we reached our "destination" and turned around that day we were at 5 1/2 miles and went at least another 1/2 mile before turning around.  The speedometer has since been replaced (gotta love Amazon) but the event just really "irked" us both ...

Downtown Fargo is another city that has sculpture art along it's streets (I love these cities).  In Fargo it is buffalo ~ so colorful but we only saw two (the second and third photos are the same fella from different sides)

Next post (maybe) I'll post photos of the other things we did on our 12 mile bicycle ride day!

One last thing ~ in a previous post I posted a picture of the cutey below and commented that I wasn't sure what he is ... well mystery solved!  He (she??) is a "thirteen lined ground squirrel", and he is about to go into hibernation within the next month!

Stay tuned ......

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Fair Life

As I mentioned in my previous post, the 74th Annual Sioux Empire Fair was here August 2-11.  Since we are staying at the Fairgrounds we had a "up close and personal" view of the goings on.  When the fair people start coming in we have to move from our full hook up site to a water and electric site that is .  All the sites at fair time are pretty close, but this year it really wasn't nearly as bad as it was the last time we were here at fair time - heck we even had a site between us and our neighbor on one side.  On the other side, well not so much as there were four units traveling together with many kids who just had no clue about "camping etiquette" and were constantly running through our site and under our slides~even at night!  I did a lot of "tongue biting" that week for sure!

I am trying to figure out how to do collages with my post photos and I've come to the conclusion that I have to create the collages on a different site (picassa perhaps) then import them to my posts as it seems I can't do collages on my iPhoto or in blogger (would this be correct Marsha Weaver, I know you know because you do GREAT collages on your blog?).  With 25 plus photos in this post I think a collage or two (or three) might have been a great idea! 

With all that said, lets head off to the fair .....

Of course there was fairly (pun intended) constant live entertainment aside from the rides (which I believe are referred to as the carnival section of the fair).  Some of the entertainment was good, some, well just not so good!  The two men above were pretty good for our age folks, the second night of the fair the "entertainment" was "Godsmack" ~ head banging noise that was just horrific and come to find out it is a group that my older son listens to (oh dear).  Charlie Daniels was here one night (he was a bit of a disappointment, I thought), another night was Creedence Clearwater Revisited (with two of the original members of CCR) then someone named Hunter Hayes who I guess is the latest version of Justin Beiber as the place was loaded with teeny boppers ~ which provided entertainment in itself to watch them as they were so excited and so many of them dressed to the nines!

You have to have fair food at a fair right?  Corn dogs and various other fried stuff.  I just don't understand corn dogs appeal but they were everywhere!

And the rides!  The roller coaster ("Comet II in the two photos) was huge.  It took two weeks to set up and one week to dismantle.  Our site was beside that ride, which ran until 11:00-11:30 each night!  It was a very popular ride and cost $5.00 per ride.  Being that neither Rick or I are fans of heights we didn't ride it, or any ride for that matter!  Such party poopers we are, but our entertainment I think was people watching and believe me when I tell you there was some great people watching to be done here.

Next chapter is the live stock exhibits (my favorite)

getting all cleaned up for the judges

What's not to love about this face??

Sadly, for me, we saw NO sheep, swine, goats or any other judging other than the beef above.  Seems there was much less of the livestock areas this year than when we were here a few years back, much to my dismay!

Then we went on to the kids livestock area, as well as the kids rides.  This "Old MacDonald's farm" exhibit would be a wonderful place in the blog to have a collage, I'm sure y'all would agree ... but there are some "fun" facts here about our beloved South Dakota!!

As I am finally completing this post, about two weeks after beginning it, I've eliminated many photos, but NOT the one above ... after all it's a bee ride .... so Papa, Mama and the baby Bees in NH this photo remains on this post for you ... wishing you'd been here to enjoy a SD fair with us!

Not sure if the photo below is pc or not, but for as long as we've been staying at the fairgrounds in Sioux Falls they've been using inmate labor.  I happen to think this is a "win win" arrangement (not that anyone asked).  The inmates come in a day or so ahead of an event, be it the fair or a concert, to set up and then days after the event to clean up and in the case of the fair they were there for a week or two afterwards ~ yup win-win.

The fellas in the two photos above, well you'll be seeing them again as they are MY favorite neighbors at the fairgrounds .... just can't quite figure out WHAT the second fella is ... some say he's a "flicker tail", but my on line research, for what it's worth, doesn't show photos of this guy with his gorgeous stripes ... the first photo is a prairie dog I know.  When Rick and I came out to SD for rally many years ago (remind me again Frankie K what year that was) the two things I wanted to see were buffalo and prairie dogs ~ yup, I saw them and a whole lot more just two of the reasons I fell in love with south Dakota) 

Now for a more important note ... meet my new grandson ... Kaden Mitchell Lovett born August 29 to my son Joshua, his wife Trisha and their older son Connor.  Kaden is home in NC pretty happy and content (unless he is hungry) and trying to convince his brother Connor that he will be his best bud for ever and ever!

On another note or two before I close ....  Behind the fairgrounds is a quarry where once a week or so they blast, which was never an issue for me/us ~ so much so that I'd totally forgotten about it until the first blast came upon our return there this year.  Well it was all too similar (for me at least) to our experience in Boston on April 15th on that same block on Boylston St.  The first blast back in Sioux Falls was really and truly emotionally catastrophic for me and thankfully Rick was VERY understanding and tolerant to my meltdown.  But what to do going forward, since I knew we'd be in Sioux Falls for another couple months?  I finally decided I needed to get to the "root of the issue" (thank you "baby sister" Kim for persuading me to face it and deal with it), so I went to the office of the quarry operations and explained my "phobia" to an amazingly understanding man (whose name I haven't a clue) ... well short story shorter ... they now call me an hour or so ahead of a blast so I can leave the area ... the small action of one person has a HUGE effect on another person(s) life ... there are no words to explain how significant this is to me (us) ... life is good!

Stay tuned 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Such a corny birthday

To "celebrate" Rick's birthday a few weeks back we got on the bikes and headed out to Mitchell (about 75 miles from here) to the ..... Corn Palace.  Hey, a few years ago we celebrated my birthday at the Spam Museum so never let it be said that us Whelans don't know how to have a good time!  We packed toothbrushes and clean clothes just in case we had a need to hang out for an additional day or two!

For those of you who have no clue what the Corn Palace is I have the answers!  First of all, the Mitchell Corn Palace claims to be the worlds only corn palace (who am I to argue such a claim!).  The Mitchell Corn Palace was built in 1892 when the city of Mitchell was only 12 years old.  Every fall Mitchell has a corn festival to celebrate agriculture and the productivity of the people of Mitchell (in fact this year it starts next week).  

Every year the Corn Palace is decorated with a different theme!  The walls are stripped of the corn from the last years murals and the process begins all over again and the new murals are created using over 3,000 bushels of rye, oat heads and "sour dock" which are tied in bundles and attached to the walls.  When the corn is ready to be harvested approximately 275 thousand ears of corn are sawed in half lengthwise and nailed to the building according to the patterns created by the designers of the current years murals.

As hokey as it sounds it really is rather impressive when you see it and realize what is involved!  The Corn Palace is open to the public and free of charge for those of you planning a trip to Mitchell, SD!  Also, it is the main venue for community events in this small rural farm town,they have basketball games, stage shows, trade shows etc. at the venue.  I'm not done yet, they even have a "corn cam" for those of you that are interested!

In closing, this is one of those little fellas that used to drive Arlo crazy when we'd stay here ~ oh the hours that boy spent trying to get himself one of these prairie dogs or gophers or whatever they are.  Not sure what the heck he'd have done if he succeeded ~ probably scared the be jeebers out of himself and run like the wind in the other direction, but he sure tried!

The fair just ended on Sunday so stay tuned for that adventure!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Oh the stories they told

As a couple "post scripts" to my previous post ~ these two fellas above thought they'd help us out with some geo caching while we were in Little Rock.  We never found that cache, perhaps they did though. Seems geo caching is getting a bit frustrating for yours truly!  It is suppose to be fun, but if I haven't a clue or a hint at what I'm looking for it's not so much fun!

Speaking of fun, though, how about the name of the the "joint" on the t shirt above!  The Thirst N' Howl I thought it was pretty darned funny, Rick didn't get it right away, and I foolishly didn't by a t shirt (such a dope I am).  Their drink special is the Gilligan, and some of their menu includes "Lovey Salsa" and "little buddy baskets".  Yummy food, great beverages and a terrific owner named Sherry~what more could a person want?

After Little Rock I had hoped to go into OK to visit a cousin I hadn't seen in many years (well since I was a teenager, so yes that is MANY years), but that just didn't work out as I'd hope, what with lack of contact information so we headed north a couple hundred miles to Joplin, MO.  Not sure why this was the destination other than it was someplace we had never been, it was along the old route 66 (a favorite of Rick's) and it was a decent days travel for us.  

We knew nothing about Joplin, other than that there is an Elks Lodge there (we stayed at the local KOA, not at the Lodge) and that there had been a tornado through the area in 2011, that coincidentally destroyed said Elks Lodge.

When I loaded pictures a week or so ago for this blog post I didn't want to make it a post about another disaster, but I felt we couldn't visit the area and ignore what the city had been through.  First here are a few photos of our Route 66 trip one day .... not as photogenic as Route 66 was in a previous blog post of Tucumcari (I think that was the one!!) but still some markers to its existence. 

Most of these photos were taken in and around Galena and Baxter Springs, KS.  

The photo above is of the "Bush Creek Marsh Arch Rainbow Bridge" (come on, try saying that fast three times!).  There were three of these arch bridges along Route 66 in Kansas, but this is the only remaining one, built in 1923.

Our next stop was at the "Red Ball Bar and Grill" in Baxter Springs.  For some reason Rick was a bit apprehensive to go in!  It was a funky locals joint.  It was early afternoon so the place wasn't really hopping, a few people playing pool, a table eating lunch and another table of "tourists".  Beer and soft drinks only (no wine for this whiner)

Check out this grill area - isn't it great!  If you look to the
left the sink is in a red tool box.  Very creative atmosphere, 
I really liked the place and there was NO reason to 
be apprehensive!
 From the Red Ball we went through "downtown" Baxter Springs with some pretty building murals ~ one of my favorite things to check out (that and farmer's markets!) as we traverse the country.

So back to reality I guess.  Below are a couple photos I found on line (not sure who to credit for them) of the tornado that went through Joplin on May 23, 2011.  It's path was about two by six miles, killing 167 people.  Five of those were killed at the local Elks Lodge, four members and one employee.  The Lodge has since rebuilt as has much of the area devastated by the tornado.  As we drove around Joplin it was very clear what the path was - wherever there was ongoing construction, or obvious new buildings THAT was the area.  It was amazing to both Rick and me how quickly this area has "recovered" from this disaster.  The people we spoke to said over and over that the recovery was a huge part of their healing process.

The hospital in the photo below was just to the east of the Elks Lodge, by perhaps 1/2 block.  There just aren't words to describe this, but once again as we've witnessed over and over in our travels ~ the people came through with love and kindness and an amazingly positive attitude.  Everyone we met in the Joplin area was so warm, so welcoming and so gracious, and they all had their own tales to tell of where they were, what they were doing at 5:22 pm on May 23, 2011.

After we left Joplin we headed north.  The original "plan" (not that the word "plan" is often in our vocabulary) was to spend a night or two just north of Kansas City, but Rick felt he could drive another 100 or so miles which would shorten our next travel day (the final day into Sioux Falls, where we would be for the next five or six weeks).  With that bit of an extended travel day we ended up at Rock Port Rivers Edge Campground in Rock Port, MO.  Another area hit by disaster in 2011.  I seem to have a "knack" for finding them on this leg of our travel.  This tragedy was levee breaches of the Missouri River.  The photo below shows the high water on the tree next to Rick (who is 5'11") mark IN the campground.  I am not sure how far the campground is from the river, but we never saw or heard the river while we were there!  The campground is TRYING to recover from this, the flood happened in May/June of 2011 and they JUST are able to get a few sites opened up again, no cabins, no bath houses but a few RV sites.  

Below is a photo of a "crop duster" flying over one of the VAST cornfields in the area .... huge huge huge cornfields and some soybean fields for crop rotation.  It was a nice way to start a day watching this guy fly nearby confirming that people recover and life goes on.

So that's it for now.  I hope this wasn't a distressing post to read.

Stay tuned.