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

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.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

More than a little fun in Little Rock

Just a few more photos of the gorgeous Maumelle Corps of Engineers park in Little Rock ~ I still can not get over how truly awesome this park is!  The HUGE sites, the calmness, the price ... a treasure for sure!

While we were in Little Rock we went to the Clinton Library.  

Some of the President's saxophones

Below is Dale Chihuly's "Crystal Tree of Light" that was in the White House in 2000.  I am a HUGE fan of his work (much to Rick's dismay, he truly can't understand what I see/appreciate in this .... )  

Also while we were in Little Rock we were given tickets to an Arkansas Travelers game.  The travelers have been the Class AA affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim since 2001.  We just love our minor league teams, they are so much fun to watch and such a "great bang for the buck"!!

On our way home from the game we drove by the capital, which was so pretty at night!
Add caption

Our plan was to leave the next day (Saturday), but when we got up the trailer had been blocked in by boat trailers  (OH NO not that!) so we had to extend our stay and rather than worry about a repeat on Sunday morning we extended until Monday.  

What's one of my favorite ways to spend a few hours on a Saturday, wherever I am????  Right, Farmers Market!!  What a great one Little Rock has ...

Another field trip we did in the area was a ride to Pinnacle Mountain State Park.  No camping here but a lovely, and free, area.  Word has it from our friends Marsha and Paul Weaver  that there are great hiking trails here ~ being that hiking requires copious amounts of energy we will take their word for it!

Gorgeous views from the overlook area of the
Arkansas River

and a shot of Pinnacle Mountain

not to mention this cute guy having the best of both
worlds,cooling off in the water when he wants
and lazing in the sun!

We continued heading north when we left this meca on Monday and stayed at two campgrounds in Missouri (post to follow .... gotta load pictures!!).

We arrived at the fairgrounds in Sioux Falls today for SIX weeks ... really painful for me to be here at this spot without Arlo ... Everywhere I look I have memories, yes wonderful memories of him running and playing and trying like hell to figure out how to get these gophers out of their hiding places ... I love Sioux Falls, just not this campground anymore.  And six weeks ~ UGH for licensing requirements I just don't want to ... I want to be in parts unknown!!

Stay tuned....

Friday, July 12, 2013

A travelin' we will go, a travelin' we will go ...

Yup, we are back on the road .... seriously back, living the life we set out to do nearly six years ago and after an eight month period when the coach was parked at our place in Florida and we spent a great deal of time flying back and forth to snowy New England.

To start off this post let me show you a masterpiece created by Brianne's Pet Portraits!  I found Brianne's ad in a little local weekly paper when I was at my sister's in VT in January.  We (Brianne and I) emailed back and forth a bit, I sent her several pictures of Arlo and told her about him and this is what she created for us.  Note the soccer ball background .... I had told her that next to a few favorite people and a few favorite dog friends (Casey, Indie, Bowser and Mia) soccer balls were his best favorite thing in the world, well maybe sticks and lakes too.  If you enlarge this portrait you will see Arlo's name there in his body ... that is Brianne's "thing" ... I just LOVE her work, and this will hang proudly in the motorhome while we travel and the FL house when we don't!

So we left the house on June 26 and went to a "campground" about eight miles away.  We've stayed here many times, it's convenient to I-95, it's Passport America discounted (thank you David and Lynda for introducing us to PA six years ago).  We stayed at Pecan Park for four nights, with a few trips back to the house, and then really hit the road.  We had planned to travel about 300 miles (a long day for us) that first day, but alas ... life had other plans and once again we found ourselves on the "shoulder" waiting for our road service to come "save" us ....

We waited about an hour and fifteen minutes in 95 degree heat, but we DID have a spare and the "problem" was solved in about 15 minutes and we were back traveling again.  We decided to cancel the planned remaining 75 or 100 miles and just pull into the closest campground we could find, which happened to be a KOA just west of Tallahassee

A very nice, incredibly quiet place about a mile from the interstate.  Problem was, the closest restaurant was 25 miles away.  Restaurant you wonder?!?!  Well our refrigerator kicked the proverbial bucket a few months ago while we were on a "trial run" to St. Augustine so we'd been working out of a cooler and didn't have much more than half and half in said cooler .... there is no sustenance more important to me than my morning coffee and THAT requires half and half ... correct coffee is more important to me than the fruit of the vine, serious and truly.

Next stop a lovely Elks Lodge in Slidell, LA about 35 miles north of New Orleans.  We've been here before and just love the property.  The Lodge isn't open all that much, only three or four days a week, but was quite busy over the fourth of July.  The property affords us easy access from the interstate and LOTS of room to maneuver the coach while connected to the trailer.  It is a huge property backing up to Bayou Liberty (photos below)

Arlo was, of course with us here in our previous visits but in spite of the size of the property and its rural setting we couldn't let him go off leash because he would have made a bee line to the bayou and we were afraid he'd meet Ali Gator and his family there, but Arlo surely would have loved the opportunity of freedom here to roam.

A lovely, peaceful view of Lake Pontchartrain

We did go into New Orleans one day to the usual Bourbon Street haunts .... the photo above is Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop (one of our very favorite places, but there are many of those favorites I believe).  Reportedly the oldest structure used as a bar in the United States, and word has it there was never a horse shoe made there!!

Another day we went up to Abita Springs, about 20 miles from where we were staying.  We had planned to do a Garden District tour in New Orleans that day, but alas, much to my dismay and Rick's GREAT sorrow (she writes so facetiously) it was raining.  So we headed out to do a tour of the Abita Brewery.

Just a note here for those that care, I don't drink beer, can't stand the smell of beer and NEVER (I know, never say never) WILL drink beer .... the last tap is for Abita root beer ... yummy yummy yummy root beer, just like A&W for those of us of our generation who remember such deliciousness.

We returned to Slidell where I had the brilliant idea to buy seven pounds of crawfish ... yes indeed another addiction ~ crawfish ettoufee ~ so in my infinite wisdom I decided I could buy these crawfish and "just" shell them (or whatever it's called) and freeze great quantities (remember seven pounds here) and make wonderful culinary delights in the weeks to come.  Yeah, right .... seven pounds of these delectable creatures yielded less than a quart freezer bag to freeze and cut fingers that are still healing a week later.  VALUABLE LESSON LEARNED.

After the crawfish purchase we headed to a fun fun fun place down the road from where we were staying in Slidell.  The Landing .... well the outside was fun and funky, the inside not so much.  The outside was so casual, with no one there but the two of us ... along a canal with gorgeous homes across the way.  I want this decor (the gator and that great parrot wind chime) at the house in FL

Not sure what the flower is above but I'm thinking it's in the calla lily family???  There were many of them at the Landing along with other native plants just there, in no particular design, just THERE!

We continued from the Landing down to a lovely local fine dining establishment that we'd discovered purely by accident two nights prior and got very friendly with the wonderful, gracious owners Michael and Courtnye

Along the back road home from Michael's we passed this fish ... never read about it at, and I don't think it's a fish named Wanda, but I loved it!!

Next stop was Vicksburg, MS.  photo above was along the mighty Mississippi River and below a restaurant we ate at that was in the OLD Nabisco building.  Gorgeous building, the food and service not so much.  Sadly we found Vicksburg very underwhelming, granted we were there only one night, but with as much history as there is in the city it was very disappointing, very "skanky" and I never felt particularly safe, and would continue on through next time.

So we continue on to Choudrant, LA which is one of our preferred places to have work done on the coach.  As I mentioned, our refrigerator quit on us so it was out with the old and in with the new ....

a very lousy picture of the new 'fridge!

After three days we arrived at an absolutely gorgeous Corps of Engineers park in Little Rock, AR along the Arkansas River.  We had planned on being here two nights but as we often do, we extended a night.  This is just a wonderful, peaceful campground with HUGE sites.  Ours is 50 amp with water hook up for $12.00 a night using Rick's America the Beautiful senior pass.  What a treasure (Rick, the campground and the pass!)

Yesterday we toured Little Rock, which will be the next post, I still need to load photos from my phone and camera to iPhoto, which I am having some problems with!  

Stay tuned.