Archive for the 'USA Travel – General' Category

SD – AZ 2014

Arizona, Nebraska, South Dakota, Texas, USA Travel - General No Comments »

November 18th – ? … SD – AZ

Leaving the farm, the roads got progressively better…

I had researched and found several cities along my route with free cg’s with electric. I put them all on my radar – deciding depending on how far to drive. Thank you to all the cities that do this. The weather prohibited my wanting to boondock – until I got further out of the cold.

Stapleton City Park, Stapleton, NE

Stapleton City Park, Stapleton, NE

Stapleton City Park sunset

Stapleton City Park sunset

I stopped at one park to check it out – but was so early in the day, I drove on – would be an excellent place to stop:

Karrer City Park, McCook

Karrer City Park, McCook

I got stuck one night – missed a turn for where I intended to go, night was falling – so followed signs to an rv park. Wasn’t my favorite place, wouldn’t go back, but no one in any office, no way to pay, etc. I pulled into a site figuring I’d pay in the morning. No one there in the morning. Asked a resident and got told, oh, don’t worry about it. I unhooked and left. Strange way to run a business.

I love these kind of signs

I love these kind of signs

Next stop …

Muleshoe, TX free city rv park

Muleshoe, TX free city rv park

I spent two nights in Muleshoe – as I decided to head out to the sandhill crane refuge, but missed them taking off and didn’t stay for their return … just saw a couple along with lots of ducks.

Muleshoe Sandshill Crane Refuge

Muleshoe Sandshill Crane Refuge

A wildlife/bird refuge in TX.

A wildlife/bird refuge in TX.

Valley of Fires campsite

Valley of Fires campsite

Valley of Fires, NM

Valley of Fires, NM

I spent a couple nights at Valley of Fire as very high winds came in on our way there – which got much worse after arriving. Neat place, with a few good hiking trails that Peaches and I took when the wind allowed.

Alamagordo Pistachio stop

Alamagordo Pistachio stop

I intended to stay at an Escapees park in Deming, but I refused to pay when I saw the park. It’s important to remember not all parks are equal. I got a much better spot at the Deming rest area – and highly recommend it as a boondocking spot for a night – there are areas to pull off with shelters, etc. One of the nicest rest areas I’ve ever been to – and you’re allowed 24 hours.

Next stop – the casino lot in Tucson – where I stayed about 10 nights before heading down to the Escapees Park in Benson (which I love).

Hightailing it to KY

USA Travel - General No Comments »

Two nights boondocking – that’s all it took me to get to KY. My original plan was to take at least one more night and see some more sites. But the weather, well, it was rainy. Not down pour, stop driving rainy, but dreary, never ending rainy. So I just drove further than intended.

First day (or should I say night) was after leaving the Ford dealer. Dark was settling over me when I pulled out of the dealership only intending to drive a couple hours. Several hours later I finally stopped at a car only rest area in Maryland. No pictures on that drive, but it would have been gorgeous (and was, even in the night) – as I picked a route through the mountains. Slower driving, especially at night – but very little traffic. However, I did get out in the morning and take pictures – as the rest area Sideling Hill tells of the history of the first National Road. Unfortunately the museum was closed, but I took a couple pictures of the colors (of course).

View of colors from Sideling Hill Rest Area

View of colors from Sideling Hill Rest Area

Then I got back on the road – snapped a shot through the windshield.

View of the drive - rainy, but some colors

View of the drive - rainy, but some colors

Later in the day, I stopped at a rest area and sat down to check emails, etc. A truck pulled out of the spot next to me and a minute later an rv pulled in. I looked through my window and there was Molly! Now, what’s the chance of that happening? We discussed going the same place for the night, but she was going to go slower than me. At this point, with the rain, I decided to go a bit further. Was cussing myself later when I went to the wrong address for a Walmart where I intended to spend the night and it was where they “used” to be. I know better and usually check these things. After driving quite narrow roads in a residential area to get turned around, I didn’t go looking for their new address but got back on the highway. I stopped at a rest area, walked Peaches, and was done for the day!

Come morning – well about noon, as my brake buddy and I were cussing at each other for over an hour, I got back on the road and arrived at my home for the next several weeks in KY on Thursday early afternoon.

Summer 2012 Alaska Bound

Alaska, USA Travel - General 2 Comments »

Yep, going to Alaska again and I’m excited. I was all ready to work on the LuLu Belle summer 2010, but that got canceled. I called the folks about a week ago and have been in touch. They’ve had some trials and tribulations of their own (the LuLu Belle was damaged!). But they intend to be in full swing for next summer and we have agreed tentatively that I’ll be part of the crew.

The LuLu Belle

The LuLu Belle

I’m excited – and it’s time for me to remember that the future can be bright (and it’s going to be!)

I have several rving friends talking about going to AK for part or all of the summer of 2012, so I hope to see you all in Valdez and on the LuLu Belle sometime during the summer.

History and White Squirrels

Illinois, USA Travel - General 1 Comment »
Vandalia Historic State Capitol Building

Vandalia Historic State Capitol Building

10/25/2010

I love traveling the backroads and avoid the interstates as much as possible. And it’s what I see on the backroads that makes the way I’m living WHY I’m living this way. Convoluted sentence, but I’m learning more about our history than I ever did in school. And seeing things that constantly amaze me.

After leaving Normal, I decided to take back roads through IL and IN on to visit friends in Nashville, IN. My goal this day was to get to Olney, IL. But on the way, I passed many small towns and could easily have taken twice or three times as long driving (or even another day or two) to see the things I just did quickly. Most of the towns, I never got out of the rv. But I remember, and have places I want to go back to.

One town on my list to stop was Vandalia. I did stop for a history lesson here. Unfortunately, it was Monday and they don’t have the old capitol building open on Sundays or Mondays! So I couldn’t do a tour. But Peaches and I walked along outside and learned what we could.

Notice nothing says “original” or “first” capitol. That’s because Vandalia was the 2nd capitol of IL. The first was a little Mississippi River town of Kaskaskia. Nope, never been there either. It was located between 2 high points along the river – and I guess that’s not a good thing. It was wiped out by a flood. And the capitol of IL then moved to Vandalia.

Vandalia Capitol Building

Vandalia Capitol Building

Lincoln had his hand in Vandalia moving to Springfield.

Lincoln had his hand in Vandalia moving to Springfield.

Vandalia was State Capitol from 1819 - 1839

Vandalia was State Capitol from 1819 - 1839

But the capitol building you see in my pictures here was not open for business until 1836. Some of the people who were working to try to keep the capitol in Vandalia had this built to make more room – however, while it’s the oldest capitol building still standing in IL, it was only used from 1836-1839.

More info

More info

Love the long shot here with the colorful maples.

Love the long shot here with the colorful maples.

For my blue grass friends – they have a blue grass festival on the old capitol grounds every Father’s Day weekend.

I didn’t stop in Salem, IL – but made note of several things. It’s the birthplace of the GI Bill of Rights, WIlliam Jennings Bryant and Miracle Whip Salad Dressing (hey, I never said it all had to be serious, did I?).

Another town I drove through and if in the area will return to is Flora, IL. Small town, but I saw a sign for “Little Toot Steam Railroad”. Yep, I want to see it, and if possible, go for a ride! And I also saw a sign for a city park I would like to check out. Found it online – Charley Brown Memorial Park. It even has rv hook-ups (well, electric and water for $15/night). And guess what – that’s where the Little Toot RR is! So, it’s on my list of places to revisit.

On to Olney, IL, my destination for the day. I stopped at the Walmart planning to shop and spend the night there. Went in to confirm it was okay – and was told it’s not. No signs, not against Walmart policy, but the manager and asst manager had decided no. So I decided there was nothing on my shopping list I couldn’t do without. The young lady at the customer service desk, however, was super nice and we had a chat about the Olney Park and my reason for being there – to see their white squirrels. (Without going into detail, the asst store manager was rude and a putz, for lack of a better term – he came and talked with his back to me, pretending I wasn’t there – and then having the young lady give me his “bad news”. I told him I was a real person and he could talk to me and he simply stared. Yikes.) The young lady said I could probably overnight at the “old” store’s location. I drove there and the surrounding businesses had asked the town to stop overnighting there and it was posted no overnight rver’s. I decided to drive over to the city park even tho the day was soon to get dark, then decide where to head. Well, in driving past the park, I noticed this great area of parking alongside it. Worst that could happen would be a knock on my door – so I pulled up – and that’s where we spent the night. Residential area, quiet, park on one side – great spot!

Peaches and I immediately walked over to the park, as it would be dark soon.

Olney City Park

Olney City Park

Squirrels (of any color) were not in abundance – probably the time of day. But all of a sudden …

A white squirrel

A white squirrel

I headed back to the rv smiling. I’d seen a couple – got a picture – and was planning to get up in the morning and hope to see many, many more. Little did I know that come early morning, the winds and rains would be rocking and rolling our little home. The temps didn’t go down much, and I decided to go back to bed, Peaches agreed. When we finally ventured out about 8:30 the winds had died down, and the rain was a drizzle. Well, we’d see how the squirrels felt about wet days. I’m waterproof. Peaches says she’s waterproof. So, let’s hope the squirrels felt the same way.

Yep, they were out and about, too.

Yep, they were out and about, too.

And what’s really cool you can see in that picture. The squirrels are colorblind. They play with each other – no matter the other’s skin color.

I’m told that if I sat on one of the benches and was patient, they’d come up and let me feed them. I had intended to do that, but instead with everything wet, decided, Peaches could stay with me and we’d just admire them.

This was just wonderful. They are soooooooo adorable. I went to Olney to see the white squirrels, and they came out and played for me, rain and all.

It was time for Peaches and I to head on down the road. But before we do – a few more tidbits about a couple small towns we drove through.

Decatur, IL was the original home of the Chicago Bears. And if any of you were into old swing music – we drove through Ramsey, IL the home of Tex Williams.

Elkader, IA

Iowa, USA Travel - General, Wisconsin 5 Comments »
Elkader Opera House

Elkader Opera House

10/9 and 10/12 2010

It’s been many years since I’d been to Elkader, IA. I always liked this small town about 30 miles from Prairie du Chien, WI. My sister and brother-in-law got tickets to the Opera House for us to see a local production of the play “Anything Goes” for this past Saturday night. We met with another friend of theirs and had a great dinner and headed to the Opera House for the play. I’m so impressed with the Opera House and all the work they have done. Wish I had taken some pictures inside. The sound was wonderful (is amazing with these ears when I can say that) and the theatre just so well taken care of. The play? It was good. Unfortunately, as much as I love plays and musicals, that isn’t one of my favorite old ones. But the locals did a good job with it – a few of them were very impressive. I was glad to have gone.

I didn’t have my camera with on Saturday night and was glad when Diane and I decided to make another trip to Elkader today. I wanted pictures! Diane’s friend has a store there.

The BackStitch

The BackStitch

She’s selling mainly things I don’t have anything to do with (lots of quilting things – and you quilters would love the store!). However, we stopped in on Saturday night and I noticed she’s carrying some Punch Embroidery items. I have been looking for a hobby that would take up some of my time as well as take up little space – so wanted to try this. I don’t like sewing, but like doing rug hooking, so thought I’d give this a try. Diane does quilting and embroidery and sews, and all kinds of things – but she had tried this and disliked it. She gave me what she had, and we went to the store for me to get a quick lesson. And I got to take pictures all around town.

The bank building with the neat, tall spire.

The bank building with the neat, tall spire.

Church spire behind the bank building.

Church spire behind the bank building.

Many of the buildings in town have the date they were built at the top (as the Opera House did).

Looking down the street in Elkader.

Looking down the street in Elkader.

A couple other Elkader buildings.

A couple other Elkader buildings.

Modern business, old building.

Modern business, old building.

The Turkey River Runs through the middle of town.

The Turkey River

The Turkey River

The bridge crossing it is a wonderful, old bridge called the Keystone Arch Bridge.

The Keystone Arch Bridge

The Keystone Arch Bridge

The Keystone Arch Bridge is the longest, double-arch, stone bridge west of the Mississippi. It took 9 months to construct, was finished in August 1889 and replaced a wood and iron structure from the 1860′s. Aside from the addition of a sidewalk on the outside of the roadway and the blacktop road surface, the structure remains today as originally built.

Keystone arch construction dates back to the Roman aquaducts.

Keystone arch construction dates back to the Roman aquaducts.

The dam on the Turkey River.

The dam on the Turkey River.

The first view I showed above of the Turkey River was taken standing on the bridge looking down river. The 2nd and one right above is looking up river.

After returning to PdC, we had a great lunch at Simply Coffee House and Eatery – a restaurant that didn’t exist when I lived here. Lots has improved in PdC and this was a highlight for me.

Diane and I then pampered ourselves with pedicures. She laughed at me when I selected a glittery brownish/goldish/purplish polish asking if I’m nuts. Yep. I love it. Mostly I loved the massaging chair and foot massage, etc. Oh, yes, this is pampering at it’s best and I do it so rarely.

I’m glad to be able to spend this time with my sis – and that because my job got delayed, we got extra time. But, when we watched the news and weather tonight and they showed that a year ago there was snow on this date – it helps me remember why I’ll be heading south again soon.

Chicago

Illinois, USA Travel - General 5 Comments »

Saturday in the park ….

Kathy, Bob, Beth, Tom

Kathy, Bob, Beth, Tom

It was cold, it was raining – it didn’t stop us. Tom is still in the area but for Bob, Kathy and I – we were true tourists with Tom being the tour guide!

10/2/10

I got to Des Plaines on 10/1 (stopped for a night in Dodgeville 9/30 to visit with my former boss and some former employees) then overnighted Friday night at Gleason’s (thank you for the spot and Tom for arranging for it).

On Friday night Tom, someone I hadn’t seen in 40 years, (wow, where does time go?) picked me up and we headed to his favorite Italian Restaurant. Well, I’m a believer. I’m sure all the food there is good, but I was blown away with their baked clams. Yummy. If you are in the Chicago area – stop in Glenview at Mario’s Mondo Cafe. It’s quite small and initimate. There was a piano player there the night we went. The staff cares and, as I said, the food was wonderful.

Ha, I think I just did an advertisement.

On Saturday, Tom picked me up again, and we headed to Bob and Kathy’s hotel – picked them up – headed to the El and down to Chicago this foursome went. It’s the only time during this weekend I really had my camera with – so I’m hoping to “steal” some pictures others took of our high school reunion, but here the 4 of us are on Saturday, in the rain and cold. After arriving in Chicago, we stopped at Walgreens and all bought hats. Kathy got gloves and I had layers with my hands in my pockets – looked wider than I am tall! Saying that – we had a great time. Parts of Chicago are the same, some is sooooooooo different.

The Art Institute - the same.

The Art Institute - the same.

One of the icons, to me, of the Art Institute

One of the icons, to me, of the Art Institute

One of the reasons I wanted to go into Chicago was to see Millenium Park. All I can say is Wow. Chicago got this right!

So kewl - fountains like no other.

So kewl - fountains like no other.

Crown fountain has two of these fountains facing each other. Water cascades down their sides and back and the faces change expression – with the mouths moving.

Crown Fountain

Crown Fountain

The 2 faces are facing each other.

The 2 faces are facing each other.

Beth, Bob, Kathy, Tom

Beth, Bob, Kathy, Tom

Tom, Bob

Tom, Bob

The Jay Pritzker Pavillion

The Jay Pritzker Pavillion

The Grant Park Music Festival has moved into this Pavillion. It’s really neat architecturally, and I will believe them that the sound system is superior. Maybe someday I’ll be there to find out.

A Side View of the Stage architecture

A Side View of the Stage architecture

Cloud Gate aka The Bean

Cloud Gate aka The Bean

The Bean is really cool. Being rainy and cloudy, we couldn’t see how it reflects the sky and skyline, but we were playing with how the underside reflected the people and buildings. I can only imagine this on a sunny day!

Bob and Kathy in front of The Bean

Bob and Kathy in front of The Bean

Kathy taking Bob and his reflection, Tom to the side.

Kathy taking Bob and his reflection, Tom to the side.

Looking straight up from under the center - can you find me?

Looking straight up from under the center - can you find me?

Walking the new bridge to the lakefront.

Walking the new bridge to the lakefront.

Panarama view of the city from the bridge.

Panarama view of the city from the bridge.

Looking back over Jay Pritzker Pavillion

Looking back over Jay Pritzker Pavillion

How cute.

How cute.

That bicyclist is about to run over a goose - both are ok, if shook up!

That bicyclist is about to run over a goose - both are ok, if shook up!

It was not intentional. But for those who know what an animal lover I am, I was about to burst into tears, as the goose shook itself off, feathers flying, and walked away. The bicyclist circled back, I’m sure upset, also and must have been glad to not see any of them laying down. Whew.

Bob remembers playing a private party on this ship.

Bob remembers playing a private party on this ship.

While Bob is sure he played on this ship, I believe my partner of many years also played on here – with me as a guest. I can’t be sure it was this one, but believe it was. Neat memories, where ever it was.

Looking towards Navy Pier.

Looking towards Navy Pier.

It was our intentions to walk to Navy Pier, but times was getting ahead of us, the rain wasn’t letting up, and we decided we needed to start back towards the El and think about something to eat before going back to our respective “homes” for the day to freshen up for our real high school reunion a few hours later.

Need to go back here and read all the info with the pictures.

Need to go back here and read all the info with the pictures.

Those pictures depicted lots of history, etc, of Chicago, with plaques next to them with info about them. I need to go back someday and spend the time reading all of them. See what I remember, what I can still learn.

Newer condos and businesses.

Newer condos and businesses.

Tour boats were running.

Tour boats were running.

a skyline view - my camera lens now has water droplets on it!

a skyline view - my camera lens now has water droplets on it!

Some of my favorite older buildings.

Some of my favorite older buildings.

Some street musicians braved the weather.

Some street musicians braved the weather.

Kathy, it was great meeting you. Thank you Bob, Kathy and Tom for sharing this wet day and making it one to remember. I had a great time.

The 4 of us took the El back, then stopped for Italian Beef. I mean, c’mon, me go back and NOT have Italian beef. Not gonna happen – and we all felt the same. Unfortunately, we didn’t go to the best place, but it was okay – must have been – I ate it all. Some day maybe some of the rest of the country will get that right.

The reunion Sat night was wonderful – seeing many more people, some I knew were coming, others I didn’t – those were great surprises. I’m really glad I went and will attempt to get back to any others, as long as they are kept informal. I loved being able to so freely mingle. I’m sorry I didn’t see some people I learned were there. And I wish a few who said they’d be there had shown up. But I won’t punish them – it’s their loss, as this was a great, fun night.

Thanks to the guys who danced with me. Thank you, thank you. Love to dance! Thanks to Karen for taking me to breakfast. I wanted to pay or at least share the bill, but she refused. Was great doing some catch-up with you. Special thanks to Tom for getting the whole reunion started and for being a friend.

And, if I get to “steal” some great reunion pics, will share them, if not – it’s all in my memory bank. Of course, who knows how long that will continue working? No, no, no – not getting older – still getting better!

Leaving Des Plaines on Sunday, I headed north to Mequon, WI where another of the motels I used to manage is. Am staying there 2 nights. It’s wonderful to reconnect with these people, also. No pictures, sorry! I feel like the last few days is one reunion after another – each great. Got my rv washed. It thanked me – although I was beginning to think maybe the dirt was keeping it together. For those of you who asked about it but didn’t see it:

My clean home.

My clean home.

River Rising

USA Travel - General, Wisconsin No Comments »

With the news that the Mississippi (and other) rivers were going to be rising and going to flood stages, I changed my plans and routes. So on Sunday, I headed directly to Prairie du Chien and my sister’s where I can watch it from a distance, but not worry about being in the midst of it. It means I get to spend more time with my sis, and that’s all good.

I should have gone to the river and taken pictures Monday, or even Tuesday, but didn’t. But Diane and I went yesterday and I took some pics. Then I went back today and took more. I couldn’t go to one of the roads I took pictures from yesteday, so couldn’t compare quite like I wanted, except at the marker.

Who knew that they painted sidewalk lines under water?

Who knew that they painted sidewalk lines under water?

Dead End?  Where's the road?

Dead End? Where's the road?

Time for a swimming picnic?

Time for a swimming picnic?

Wed view - will get another view of this area on Thurs pics.

Wed view - will get another view of this area on Thurs pics.

Wed water level just over midway between 16 and 17 feet.

Wed water level just over midway between 16 and 17 feet.

24 hours later on Thursday I went down and took the following:

The river was not beyond that fencing in this area on Wed.

The river was not beyond that fencing in this area on Wed.

Benches to sit and watch the river being covered by water.

Benches to sit and watch the river being covered by water.

This picture compares to one from Wed above.

This picture compares to one from Wed above.

24 hours later, the river has gained a tad over a foot.

24 hours later, the river has gained a tad over a foot.

They have now sandbagged around sculptures in the Sculpture Park.  Just in case.

They have now sandbagged around sculptures in the Sculpture Park. Just in case.

Another road to nowhere.

Another road to nowhere.

When the river rises, it finds low points on the ground, roads, and water sneaks to the places like these roads and rises there also. A little stream of water that doesn’t look dangerous can flood entire areas when rivers rise – and is often the culprit of many of the homes, etc that get flooded. They have worked hard in PdC to remove houses from these flood areas, and the ones still in them, are often raised on stilts now.

This car ignored the closed road and parked in the middle of it - on the high point.

This car ignored the closed road and parked in the middle of it - on the high point.

For those who don’t know, I lived in Prairie du Chien for awhile. After my ex and I divorced, I remained at the motel north of here where my sister and bil bought in with me. A while later, I sold them my portion and I bought a house in PdC. On Monday night when Peaches and I walked, I walked over to check it out. Didn’t have my camera (it was getting dark) so today I drove past and took a picture for old time’s sake. It’s much the same (except the flower boxes in front of all the windows are gone).

My old house in PdC.

My old house in PdC.

I didn’t live there full-time for long, as I took a job a few months after getting settled, managing a motel about an hour away, and stayed in the apartment at the motel – just traveling back to the house to get away occasionally. I rented it to a friend. Then awhile later, I got tranferred so that I’d be 3 hours away, and my friend renting from me got transferred out-of-state, so I sold the house. Cute little place. So I’m familiar with PdC – and am impressed with much that’s happening in this sleepy little town. I think maybe they aren’t all sleeping anymore. Maybe since Diane and Bob moved here. They are involved in everything. Retirement for them is too much work for me! But they are happy and that’s what matters.

Tomorrow I leave for a visit with the two motels I managed and my high school reunion, then I’ll head back here to PdC for another week or so. I might take time tomorrow to get down to the river for another shot or two while the water is still rising.

Stockport, IA Roots

Iowa, USA Travel - General 2 Comments »

9/26/10

Picked up some of my favorite wine.

Picked up some of my favorite wine.

Leaving Branson I routed myself via the highway (yes, me, the highway!) so that I could stop in St. James at the winery. Blame my friend, Conni who got me to love the St. James Winery Pink Catawba. Since my home is so small, 3 bottles will have to do me till who knows when. And it will. Special occasions only.

My intentions were to make it to Stockport Saturday late afternoon, but rain interrupted, as well as my simply being tired and not wanting the long haul, so in the late afternoon I pulled into a visitor’s center and got a long, good night’s sleep. Left by 7:30 Sunday morning and got into Stockport around 10 or so. Would have been earlier, but roads are still gravel and dirt there (except the “main drag”, which requires slow driving.

I missed the welcome sign, but got this one.

I missed the welcome sign, but got this one.

Stockport's main drag - about 1 1/2 blocks

Stockport's main drag - about 1 1/2 blocks

The roads I travelled.

The roads I travelled.

I could tell stories about these roads – like when my dad once decided to take the mainly dirt road to our cousin’s farm after a rain – ha, yes, he got us stock and they had to come pull us out with the tractor. Today, my story is simply – my car started out clean. My rv started out dirty. It did rain there yesterday – we did go through some terrible wet mud/gravel messes. The car looks as bad (if not worse) than the rv now. And I almost went through a truck wash yesterday – whew! Need it much more now.

Now for why I’m visiting Stockport.

The Morris Park coming up.

The Morris Park coming up.

Wecome to Morris Park

Wecome to Morris Park

Morris is my mother’s maiden name. You’ll see it quite a bit in the next several pictures. My intentions were to stay in the campground (15 total sites) at the Morris Park. Only some of them have electric. When I got there only one electric site was available, and the front of it was one big wet mess. Some others would probably be leaving today, but they have a late afternoon check-out time. The sites were not made with rv’s in mind originally, and are narrow and reminiscent of OLD state parks and on gravel and grass. It’s my history but that rain yesterday made me decide my visit didn’t require an overnight. It’s been 20 years since I visited, so I just parked and wandered around. I had intended to look up my one cousin, had I stayed, but also felt that fall isn’t the time to visit a farmer! Sorry, BR!

Morris Park is 60 acres that were settled by my ancesters in 1838. 100 years later their grandchildren made those acres into a park. In my lifetime, the great-grandchildren donated the park to Van Buren County, IA so it could be preserved for future generations (people were coming on the property and taking artifacts, etc – sad, but true). The park today keeps the pond stocked for fishing and they are adding more buildings to get more artifacts of the 1800′s in the area.

Morris Cabin

Morris Cabin

Morris Cabin

Morris Cabin

Inside Morris Cabin

Inside Morris Cabin

The cabin is very small, but was standard for the time.

The cabin is very small, but was standard for the time.

A picture on a wall - taken in front of the fireplace.

A picture on a wall - taken in front of the fireplace.

Exterior showing the M for Morris

Exterior showing the M for Morris

The plaque giving the dates, times, names, etc.

The plaque giving the dates, times, names, etc.

Also on the property is a one-room school house. This is not original to the property. The school house was built in 1868 3 1/2 miles east of Birmingham, IA (which would put it – by my calculations – about 1/2 way between Birmingham and Stockport). School was held in this school house until 1953 and it was moved to Morris Park in 1954.

Exterior of one-room school house overlooking the pond.

Exterior of one-room school house overlooking the pond.

One childhood memory: I got to bring a friend with on our summer vacation to Stockport. We were fooling around in the schoolhouse and disturbed a wasps nest. I refused to go back in that schoolhouse for quite awhile! I don’t think my g/f minded that as much as she did sitting on a nail in a hay wagon.

Interior of the schoolhouse.

Interior of the schoolhouse.

Log Barn added in 1939.

Log Barn added in 1939.

They’ve added a very large barn since I was there 20 years ago. They are renovating more artifacts, etc inside. I could have spent a lot longer in there – but much of that wasn’t my family. There were some artifacts of the family I didn’t see today. But a couple here I enjoyed.

High Wheeled Wagon

High Wheeled Wagon

Info on Wagon

Info on Wagon

I could have typed that info – but loved that sign!

Rug and Carpet Loom

Rug and Carpet Loom

Driving up to Spencer Cemetery.

Driving up to Spencer Cemetery.

I screwed up and didn’t get a picture of the name or entrance to Spencer Cemetery. This is where many of my relatives on my mother’s side are buried. It is still an active cemetery, and families are spread throughout. So, it’s getting more difficult to find everyone when I look. However, in walking, I find more and more relatives – as the names are intertwined in many ways. It’s the one cemetery that makes me feel a part with the history of it. The first person to be buried in Spencer Cemetery was Margaret Morris, the daughter of Henry and James Morris (of the Morris Cabin) in 1840.

Margaret Morris, 1st to be buried in Spenser Cemetery

Margaret Morris, 1st to be buried in Spenser Cemetery

The original headstone, resting against the back of the memorial marker.

The original headstone, resting against the back of the memorial marker.

A sister to my mother who never made it to adulthood.

A sister to my mother who never made it to adulthood.

My grandparents

My grandparents

One uncle

One uncle

Another uncle

Another uncle

Oh, here's a story!

Oh, here's a story!

Actually, there are several stories here – and as he died before my 8th birthday, you’d think I wouldn’t remember them. But here – would you forget this? (I’m quoting from a family history now): “Arthur Morris was a skilled carpenter who is remembered as having built his own coffin, using walnut wood cut from trees on his farm. It was assembled with wooden pegs, not a nail in it. It was stored in his shop until the time when it was needed and he delighted entertaining visitors, especially children, by getting inside to show how well it fit. He told them that he laid down on a board and had his wife mark around him to determine the size. Arrangement was made with the undertaker to add the lining at the time of his death.” No, I don’t think you’d forget a relative lying down in his coffin, while alive. He built it many years before his death – so it was in that shop for a long, long time!

Henry Morris

Henry Morris

The cousins we visited each summer.

The cousins we visited each summer.

Also visited each summer, Selma's parents.

Also visited each summer, Selma's parents.

I took more pictures, and found many more relatives – but that’s enough of the cemetery for this post.

After visiting the cemetery, I decided to change directions again and drive all the way to my sister’s in WI today. Since I had such an early start this morning, I was still able to do all this reminiscing and still get to her place by 5. I lived for several years on the WI side of the Mississippi – so it’s fun to see the magnificent view from other locations. I did drive within 3 miles of the “Field of Dreams” today and also saw some interesting places I might want to check into camping. But no stops this afternoon – except for these couple pictures taken near Guttenberg, IA:

Viewpoint overlooking the Mississippi.

Viewpoint overlooking the Mississippi.

In Iowa looking across to WI

In Iowa looking across to WI

another shot of the view

another shot of the view

Legends in Concert, Branson

Missouri, USA Travel - General 2 Comments »

9/19/10

Posing with the Blues Brothers

Posing with the Blues Brothers

WOW. What more can I say but this is so much fun. Every one of the entertainers is top notch and brings excitement and fun to the show. The entertainers change with the seasons. Who we saw were The Blues Brothers, Marilyn Monroe, The Temptations, George Strait and Elvis (a very young Elvis!).

Driving into town, we saw the sunset.

Driving into town, we saw the sunset.

Me with the Blues Bros car in the parking lot.

Me with the Blues Bros car in the parking lot.

Sharon and the Blues Bros Car

Sharon and the Blues Bros Car

The Blues Brothers start the show.

The Blues Brothers start the show.

The Blues Brothers Finale

The Blues Brothers Finale

Next up Marilyn Monroe

Next up Marilyn Monroe

She came down into the audience.

She came down into the audience.

She brought an audience member on stage - kept us laughing - and him entralled.

She brought an audience member on stage - kept us laughing - and him entralled.

He was getting into it.  Totally.

He was getting into it. Totally.

Before sending him back to his wife of 49 years, she kissed his face everywhere.

Before sending him back to his wife of 49 years, she kissed his face everywhere.

Next up - the Temptations

Next up - the Temptations

They were fabulous and I was singing along.

Oh, I didn’t mention – our seats. Front row center. Couldn’t have gotten a better seat in the house. And after the Temptations, there was a break in the show. The entertainers so far, all came out in front of the stage to talk, take pictures, etc. I had just purchased our picture with the Blues Brothers and one of the Temptations called me over – there is another picture of all the entertainers you get when you purchase the one – and he asked me if I wanted their autographs. Well, of course. Dummy me. So went up and talked to them all and got all the signatures. They were selling cd’s up by the stage, also and I went to check it out, but was from a Legends in Vegas show. If I purchased, I wanted it to be from the entertainers I saw. In talking more to some of the Temptations, I learned they had a cd in the gift shop. The guys told me if I hurried, I could be back in time for them to sign it. Well, I probably wouldn’t have made it, but they waited for me. Really good people, everyone of these entertainers.

Intermission over, the show goes on.

George Strait

George Strait

He was good. I like some of his songs (most of you know I’m not big into country music) and loved the dancers choreography when he did Check Yes or No. However, my pictures of that are blurry, unfortunately. So the one pic of him is all you get!

Elvis is in the house.

Elvis is in the house.

Elvis on his knees right in front of us.

Elvis on his knees right in front of us.

Y’all just know – there is something about Elvis impersonators and me. But not this time – he called up Sharon. Woooohoooooo. And I’m a takin’ pictures.

Sharon and Elvis

Sharon and Elvis

Do you think he's going to kiss her?

Do you think he's going to kiss her?

Elvis kissing Sharon

Elvis kissing Sharon

Do you think she liked it?

Do you think she liked it?

A costume change for Jailhouse Rock and the rest of the show.

A costume change for Jailhouse Rock and the rest of the show.

During all the shows there is a screen at the back of the stage and on either side which is often showing the real performers during their shows. I liked that.

At the end of Elvis’ show he sang “Love Me Tender” and oh my God – came up in front of me and called me up. I tossed Sharon my camera and she tried to figure out how to turn it on, but not in time. What is it about me and Elvis? My heart went pitter patter. Had a great time. This young man impersonating the young Elvis is a wonderful performer. And a cutie. Whew!

The finale.

The finale.

And the other side of the stage.

And the other side of the stage.

After the finale George Strait, Elvis and the dancers come out to the lobby for autographs, etc. We added George Strait and waited for Elvis. I showed Sharon how to turn on my camera and Elvis was happy to take a picture with me. This young man’s name is Dean Z and if you ever get a chance to see him, or better yet, this entire show, I suggest you do so.

Elvis and ME

Elvis and ME

Dang, I need to lose a few years or him gain a few. He’s sooooooooo adorable. And talented.

Outside after the show I tried to get pictures of the nightline of the strip. Without a tripod it’s hard to hold the camera steady that long, but got one passable picture.

The signed picture of the entertainers.

The signed picture of the entertainers.

And Sharon and I have left the building.

Graceland

Tennessee, USA Travel - General No Comments »

Sunday, 9/12/2010

Hooked up the car and left Clarksdale, MS for the ride to Memphis, TN to visit Graceland. Planned to arrive there before 11 and beat my time – so did good. Graceland has long been on my list of places to visit, but not as important as many other places. I must say I was very impressed – not with what I think many go expecting, but with the amount of awards Elvis won, for example. You’ll see in the pictures.

Many go expecting a gigantic mansion. And for the times, this was a large house, but not by the standards of today. I think I love that also – as I cannot understand the mansions of the stars today. I figure they never see most of their rooms. Graceland takes the tour of the house through the main floor and the basement, but not the upstairs. I’m guessing there might still be rooms used up there.

Following are lots of pictures – in the order I took them. Unfortunately, I did not get an actually picture of the mansion from the front. So I bought a postcard of that – and one day I’ll get my scanner out and add that to the beginning of this post.

Enter mansion, look right, the living room, piano room

Enter mansion, look right, the living room, piano room

I love the stained glass.

I love the stained glass.

A corner of the living room.

A corner of the living room.

The only 1st floor bedroom.

The only 1st floor bedroom.

The dining room.

The dining room.

No flash photography is allowed in the house, and I got lousy pictures of the kitchen. I love that the refrigerator is yellow. Ugly and yellow.

The kitchen

The kitchen

One of the bars

One of the bars

At first glance into the next room I thought I saw 6 tv’s. There are 3. What a mirrored ceiling can do.

How many tv's?

How many tv's?

Another view of the room.

Another view of the room.

We passed the game room with a pool table on the way to the family room. My pictures just aren’t worth posting. I liked that it looked much like a pool room in any home of that era, also.

The basement family room.

The basement family room.

Looking the other direction.

Looking the other direction.

We left the main house and walked through Vern’s office. I took pictures, but what can I say? It’s is an office. Then we got to the Smokehouse.

Smokehouse info.

Smokehouse info.

Inside as Elvis used it.

Inside as Elvis used it.

Graceland from the rear.

Graceland from the rear.

On to the Trophy Building

On to the Trophy Building

What is now the Trophy Building had different uses during Elvis’ day. Originally it was a stone patio with picnic tables, a juke box and a soda fountain (I would have liked that!). It also went through a time as where it was completely filled with a track for his slot car racing. Then it went through a phase as storage and display area for his various awards and stage outfits.

The early Sun years.

The early Sun years.

Looking down a wall.

Looking down a wall.

Elvis' 1st gold record and #1 pop hit - Heartbreak Hotel, 1956

Elvis' 1st gold record and #1 pop hit - Heartbreak Hotel, 1956

Then many, many more followed.

Then many, many more followed.

They go on and on.

They go on and on.

A sign of the times.

A sign of the times.

Today we look at that old tv as a relic. That tv was a gift to Elvis from RCA in recognition of the sale of 50 million records between the years of 1956 and 1960.

Kid Galahad costume

Kid Galahad costume

Wedding Clothes of Elvis and Priscilla - May 1, 1967

Wedding Clothes of Elvis and Priscilla - May 1, 1967

Elvis Costumes

Elvis Costumes

A special honor for Elvis.

A special honor for Elvis.

The US Jaycees Award

The US Jaycees Award

Lots of things during this tour made Elvis more of a real person to me. That award is one of them. I was truly surprised that he considered a Jaycees award so important. So much so that he carried the touching hands award with him on tour.

Back outside, we walk past the swimming pool.

Back outside, we walk past the swimming pool.

And on to the racquetball building. Elvis took up the sport and enjoyed it so much he had his own court built. The complex included a weight training area on the 1st floor, a full size racquetball court, and upstairs, a jacuzzi and dressing rooms. Let’s go in.

Elvis is said to have played a couple songs on this piano the morning he died.

Elvis is said to have played a couple songs on this piano the morning he died.

How the racquetball court is used today.  More awards and gold records.

How the racquetball court is used today. More awards and gold records.

And costumes

And costumes

awards and memorabilia

awards and memorabilia

Wow

Wow

What a legacy.

What a legacy.

Back outside and to the memorials.

Without the tourists, I'm sure this is a calm peaceful area.

Without the tourists, I'm sure this is a calm peaceful area.

118-custom

Ladies and Gentlemen, Elvis has left for Graceland.  Thank you and goodnight.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Elvis has left for Graceland. Thank you and goodnight.

Time to visit the automobile museum

Time to visit the automobile museum

I’m only posting a very few of the cars and toys that I even took pictures of.

143-custom

Info on the above car.

Info on the above car.

Time to leave the ground and travel by air.

The Lisa Marie

The Lisa Marie

Come on in.

Come on in.

Elvis loved the chair at the end - somewhat hidden in the picture.

Elvis loved the chair at the end - somewhat hidden in the picture.

The smaller plane.

The smaller plane.

RIP Elvis

RIP Elvis