Friday, July 11, 2008

Chicago 2003

Last night I took the motorhome and the car outside the gate and got everything ready for an early start this morning. I figured this way I would not wake up the neighbors.
A guy who lives near the street where I parked both vehicles did not appreciate this. He hollered over the fence and told me that I will not park the motorhome there. I could not see his reason since he has a big backyard and the house is far from the street. Besides it is a public street.
I thought for a minute and decided not to argue with the guy. I asked him how far up the street I should go. He told me up to the Camino Hills sign. The sign is at the entrance of the park where we live.
So I went halfway to the sign and waited for more noise. But he did not bother me anymore. I did not feel easy about this and went early to the motorhome and slept
At 2:00 AM I woke up, got outside and checked all the tires. They were all OK. I put the key in the car ignition and put it in neutral, started the motorhome and took off.
Going north on I-15 I encountered light fog. When I got near the Cajon Pass the fog was thick and I could see only a short distance.
I arrived at the Flying J Travel Plaza in Barstow at 5:00 AM. I filled up the gas tank and went inside the plaza to ask for a map with the location of all the Flying J Plazas. They had one and I plan to use it. Getting in and out of those places is very easy. Since I am by myself I do not feel comfortable to go to any gas station. One time we had to unhook the car to get out of the station.
Flying J has pumps especially for motorhomes. While filing up the gas tank one can empty the holding tanks. Between the fuel pumps are sewer connections. There are also large parking spaces for staying and resting.
At 12:30 PM I arrived at the Grand Canyon RV Park in Ashfork, Arizona. Ashfork is 45 miles west of Flagstaff on I-40.
I took a nap and then went to the swimming pool. After laying out tomorrow’s route I went to the office and got a movie. Since they have no cable connection they give the customers movies. I got "One Night at McCools". The movie was funny.

It was cloudy again, which is fine for traveling. I stopped in Gallup, New Mexico to inquire about the Inter Tribal Ceremonial at Red Rock State Park. The Ceremonial starts August 6 and is going on to the 10th.
I always wanted to see that. I have not decided yet whether I will attend one day on the way back.
Today I will sleep in Albuquerque. I had in mind to drive to Old Town and
have dinner in one of my favorite restaurants. The "Gallery" restaurant sells paintings and has good Spanish and Mexican food. I was tired though and went to the swimming pool instead.

I left the campground at 5:00 AM and when I came down the hill I saw Albuquerque by night. The whole valley was full of blinking lights. It was a beautiful sight.
Going through the city at this time was no problem. I was careful not to take a wrong turn like I did three years ago. John and Jeanne in their motorhome and Doreen in the car had to follow me. Road construction had thrown me off course.
Today I was more worried about getting over the Sandia Mountains with the car in tow. My worries were for nothing; the motorhome just hummed along and near the top slowed down to 45 M/H. I was satisfied.
30 minutes after getting over the crest I got in thick fog. I still was at an altitude of 6000 feet. The fog lasted for an hour. Trucks past me at least 65 M/H. I tried to follow them because it easier to follow tail lights instead of white lines on the road. But going that fast when I can not see was not for me.
Since I was going straight east the red sun and the fog formed a giant red sphere in front of me, what a picture. In Amarillo, Texas, at the visitor center, I took a one hour nap after eating lunch.
I arrived in Elk City, Oklahoma at two PM. Since the RV Park had no swimming pool, I went to the Route 66 Museum.
It shows the route from Grand Park in Chicago to the Pier in Santa Monica, California. There are cars and other memorabilia. It was very interesting.
On the way home I stopped at Walmart and bought a door mat and since they had soft drinks on sale I bought a six pack of coke. Big mistake. I came home, opened the refrigerator and pulled one can from the plastic which holds the cans together.
I pulled another one and one can slipped out by itself and hit the floor. It exploded and I had coke all over the place, even the ceiling was not spared. I am glad I put linoleum in the kitchen area. Only a small part of the bedroom was affected.
This was stupid on my part, if I had put the cans on the counter and then removed one can after another that would have never happened.

The plan was to go to Oklahoma City and then North to Salina and visit Helga and Reiner. Unfortunately I could not reach them by telephone and by E-mail. I think they are on vacation, probably in Rancho Santa Fe, near San Diego.
In Oklahoma City I took I-44 and headed east, first I headed west by mistake. I was lucky, the first exit was only a short distance and I was able to turn around.
I-44 is a toll road in Oklahoma and I do not like those Highway Robbers, but it is the shortest route to San Louis. I stopped in Lebanon, Missouri, for the night at a motel with 10 campsites. They have a swimming pool which I enjoyed. It is 90 degrees F in the shade and humid.

For several days I tried to reach Darlene and Larry in St. Louis. They are also not at home. Two out of two is bad. I hope I have more luck in the Chicago area.
I headed North on I-55 and stopped in Pontiac, Illinois where I camped at the Livingston County 4-H Campground, it is at the fairground. Pontiac is 100 miles South of Chicago.
I went into town to the Elks Lodge to ask about the camping book for the Midwest. They did not have it. I have never seen a lodge like this. They have a 18 hole golf course and a large inside swimming pool. They call it the Elks Country Club.

I have arrived. So has the heat. Two days ago it was still cool and my friends used the furnace in the house.
My friends Wolfgang and Ilse had some prior commitment so I took off to
the Northwest suburbs of Chicago to check out a campground. It is a county park, next to the Fox River and it is beautiful. It is in the Forest Preserve near Algonquin.
When I came back I was exhausted from the heat and humidity and I took a nap. When my friends came home we spent the time outside until 9:30 PM.

After breakfast I attached the car to the motorhome and I went to the Buffalo Park Forest Preserve near Algonquin. I hooked up the utilities and signed up for three days.
Then I went to Richmond, a small town with Victorian houses, near the Wisconsin state line. My friend Bruce Richmond and his wife Meta live there. He says he did not choose the town because of the name.
Bruce was on vacation and had just painted his large porch. Bruce and I were the nerds in Tool and Die school and got an award for not missing one class in four years. To know what that means one has to be familiar with the Chicago winters.
When Meta came home from work we went to "Mad Dans" restaurant for early dinner. The restaurant is located on a lake but we could not enjoy the view of the lake because it started to rain. The temperature dropped from 95 degrees F to about 70 degrees. I loved that.

Today I visited G&M Manufacturing and enjoyed talking to John and Marcia. John took me for a walk through the plant and I was in awe. They are building dies which we never could have built when I was working for them.
Then I went to Fox River Grove to visit a supervisor I had at Continental Can. Unfortunately I came two years too late. I had a long conversation with his wife. She ask me to come back when I come to Chicago again. I would have liked to talk to John Ruppel. He taught me a lot about cars, boats and the machines we were using at work to make the products. When I started at Continental Can Company I had spoken English for only two years and I was the target of a lot of kidding. John and another
supervisor made me say:"Fuzzy wazzy was a bear......" I showed no anger and did not give them the satisfaction. The more they teased me the harder I studied at school. I ended up with a better education and better jobs.
My final visit for the day was with friends in Northbrook. I will move the motorhome there on Saturday.
I hope they weather does not change. It was 74 degrees F today and I felt good.

I went into Chicago to visit the Continental Can plant. It was a disappointment. The building has a different name on the big sign. It is a warehouse now. I had hoped to see some of the people I worked with. My Convair friends know how it feels.
I was able though to see some old friends on the way back to the campground. I saw Werner Schnell and Karin and Roy Euclid. I had not seen them for 23 years.
The weather is fantastic now, 81 degrees F and low humidity.

The motorhome is now in Northbrook at Helmut and Gertrud's driveway. They have an acre land and live next to a Forest Preserve. It is dark in the motorhome because giant oak trees cover the grounds.
Today I visited Joe Damien at his home in Ingleside. Joe was in charge of maintenance at the General Fire Extinguisher Corporation. He has a beautiful large home on a lake. We had picnics there.
The whole engineering department was there. I brought my sailboat and other people brought their power boats. Times are not good for Joe right now. His wife died a few weeks ago.
I added to his problems by walking through his screen door. I did not see the screening material while walking to the veranda. At the moment are no mosquitos around which is good.
After Joe I saw Lee Burden, our chief engineer at General Fire Extinguisher Corp. We also had a good conversation.
I really enjoy this trip. I am going down memory lane and do not have to feel guilty that I spend time with people Doreen does not know. It works out well that I am on my own.

Most of the people I wanted to visit were busy today. In the afternoon I went with Helmut and Gertrud to Ravinia Park for a concert. It was actually two concerts. First we went to an indoor concert where young artists from many countries performed. They attend the Steans Institute of Music.
At 7:00 PM the main concert started. Itzhak Perlman was conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
We had lawn seats and like the thousands of people around us had a picnic.
It was perfect weather for a concert.

Dave Fischer and I went to his boat at a Lake Michigan marina near the Wisconsin border. He has a 45 foot motor boat. It is a monster of a boat. We took the dingy and took a cruise through the marina and the neighboring marina.
It felt good to talk to Dave. Our lives ran parallel. We attended the Tool and Die Institute classes together for four years. Then we went together to Triton College, driving together down River Road twice or three times a week. After we graduated from Triton we went together to Eastern Illinois University. And we both got divorced, something we thought would never happen to us.
We had not seen each other for 25 years and had a lot to talk about. We had lunch at the yacht club and then went home.
From Dave's house I went to Susie and Kurt Mager's home. They are old friends and I am always happy to see them.

Today I visited Jack Vollriede, he was the electrician at General Fire Extinguisher Corporation. I designed the automatic test stands and he helped me with the electronics. We had a lot to talk about.
At noon I went to the Des Plaines Elks Lodge to inquire about the camping book for the Midwest. They did not have it. The secretary gave me some pins and then gave me a
little tour of the lodge. They have a fancy restaurant and since the lodge is located in the middle of town a lot of people were eating there.
The rest of the afternoon I spent writing letters, napping, and Gertrud showed me the pictures of their Sicily trip.

Gertrud and Helmut took me along to visit friends in Wisconsin. Klaus and Gisela have a summer home on a lake. They took us in their fancy pontoon boat to a sandbar where their son Detlev and his wife and four children were on anker with their boat.
Detlev still remembers Claudia. We jumped in the water and the children had water cannons and made use of them.
Everybody had a good time. After coffee and cake the three of us headed home.

Today I went to Fort Wayne, Indiana to visit my cousin Waltraud and her family. We both were born in the same small town. We talked and talked. It was wonderful to talk about the old times.

I left Fort Wayne at 7:00 AM and arrived in Northbrook at 10:30 AM. After lunch I went to the Lake Park in Des Plaines. I did a lot of sailing many years ago on this lake. There are a lot more boats now.
Many people had picnics on the lawn today. I had a quiet 4th of July.

Gertrud and Helmut celebrated 4th of July today. They had invited two couples and me.
Helmut grilled lamb chops and Gertrud made potato salad and vegetable salad. There was also fruit and cake.
It was a relaxing day. I stayed home all day. I would like to visit two more people but can not reach them.

In the morning I visited Mr. and Mrs. Leopold, the people we rented an apartment from when I came out of the army.
Afterward I did laundry and then helped Helmut and Gertrud eat the leftovers from yesterday.
At 3:00 PM I thought somebody was throwing rocks at the motorhome. We had a hail storm. The noise in the motorhome was unbelievable. I was worried about the solar panels on top of the motorhome. The leaves from the trees were falling like in the fall and the ground was green and white.
After it stopped the sirens went off. I turned on the television and they
had a tornado warning. Gertrud came to the motorhome and told me to come in the house.
We watched television for further instructions and ate cake. I suppose eating cake helps in situations like that.
I was lucky, there was not any damage on the car and motorhome. The trees helped slow down the golf ball size hail. Gertrud's flowers were shredded.

I went by car to Elmhurst to Ilse and Wolfgang for the day and the night. They wanted me to stay with them for one more day. In the morning we walked on the Illinois Prairie Path. The path was a railroad track and goes for many miles.
In the afternoon it was hot and humid. We stayed around the house and talked.

On the way back to Northbrook I got into a rainstorm. The sky was black. Sirens were going off. I was watching for a tornado. Luckily nothing happened.
At 10:00 AM I laid down for a nap. Doing nothing makes me tired. In the afternoon I went to Randhurst, this area first shopping center. At the time it was big, but compared with the new shopping malls, it is small.
In the evening I called my mother's cousin and was informed by her new husband that she is not feeling well and since she has not seen me for a long time that she does not want to see me anymore.
I should have known better. A few days ago I had called and her husband told me that she was not at home. I left a telephone number but she never called.
The bad weather was not able to dampen my spirits but that put a lump in my stomach.

Despite storm warnings I drove to the train station and boarded the train for down town Chicago. There I took a double decker bus tour. We went all over the city. The city has changed. Navy Pier has a giant wheel where one can take rides and a there is a carousel. Soldier Field was changed, it is larger now. The weather was perfect for a city tour.
After the tour I went to Sears Tower and looked at the city from the Skydeck. The Skydeck is at the 103rd floor. The Hancock Observatory was great but the Sears Tower is super.
When I came down to take the city tour again the weather had changed and it started to rain. I had bought a day ticket and had planned to get off at certain places.
I ate lunch and then went to Union Station and got on the train. The day turned out better then I had anticipated. At least the rain waited until afternoon.

I left Northbrook at 7:00 AM and went to Buffalo Park Campground in Algonquin. Two weeks ago I stayed there for three days.
I emptied the holding tanks and did some housekeeping. At noon I called my friend Dennis Stipati and finally got a hold of him. I met him in Schiller Park and we had a good conversation.
On the way back to the campground I noticed that I had forgotten to ask him the most important question:"What happened to the Continental Can plant at Foster and Cicero" and what happened to the people we worked with. I have to call him one day.
While I am typing this letter I get new neighbors. A big 5th wheel is trying to occupy the site next to mine.
They are going back and fore. At the fifth try they knocked down the post which indicates the camp site. The weather was nice all day, 80 degrees F.
The Linden trees are in full bloom and the aroma in the air reminds me of my youth when we picked the blooms for tea.

I arrived at Starved Rock State Park at 9:00 AM and after setting up the motorhome and taking a short rest I climbed Starved Rock.
Age is creeping up on me. It used to be easy to walk up to this 125 foot sandstone butte.
I also realized this is probably the last time I am visiting this beautiful park.
Starved Rock is near Ottawa, Illinois, a few miles south of I-80 and east of I-39. It is a hilly and wooded area in the middle of the prairie. Most of Illinois is flat.
In the afternoon I went across the river to the Illinois Waterway Visitor Center. It is a museum explaining the use of dams and locks on the Illinois River. While there I watched barges going through the locks.
During the day there was blue sky with a few fuzzy white clouds and at night it came down. There was also a few hail in the rain. I could hear it on the roof.

At 9:00 AM I was at the Cedar River Campground in Tipton, Iowa. And at 10:00 AM I was at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch, Iowa.
The theme of the museum is:" Old Man River, History Along The Mississippi
River". It is a journey from St. Paul, Minnesota to New Orleans.
It was very interesting, so was the display on Herbert Hoover. As a mining engineer he traveled the world and later as an elder statesman he was in charge of welfare organizations and chairman of the Hoover Commission in 1947 and 1953.
Adjacent to the museum is the 76 acre Tallgrass Prairie. It represents the landscape that covered most of Iowa until the land was settled . The prairie grass is at least four feet tall and it is a sight. I can picture now what the settlers saw when they went west.
In the afternoon I drove to The Amana Colonies. These seven towns were settled by Germans in 1855.
The 1500 people were fed in communal kitchens and the land and businesses were owned by all. This lasted until 1932 when the properties were divided and everybody became owner of his land and houses. The church was still the glue that held them together. They had to leave Germany because they split from the Lutheren Church.
The community owned Amana Appliances which is now part of Maytag. They make refrigerators there.
Today was an interesting day. When I came back to the campground I jumped in the swimming pool and cooled off. The high for today was 79 degrees F.

Today I ended up in Walnut, which is located 50 miles east of Omaha, Nebraska.
I took a tour of the Iowa countryside. My first stop was in Elk Horn, a Danish community. One of the townspeople went to Denmark and fell in love with a windmill. Elk Horn has a population of 750. They raised $100,000 and bought a Danish windmill. The windmill was taken apart and all the parts numbered. The Danish carpenters also built a small windmill and numbered those parts too. Now the American volunteers who assembled the windmill had a visual aid.
The people of Manning, a German community, 30 miles north of Elk Horn, brought a German Hausbarn over. This is a very large barn which was built in 1660. People and animals lived under one roof. The barn has a thatched roof, which is common in Schleswig Holstein. No nails were used to built the barn, only wooden pegs hold the building together.
When I came back to Walnut I went to the old part of town. They have plenty of Antique stores.
Later in the evening I washed the car, cooked a meal and talked to the neighbors.

This was a Convair day. I went to the Strategic Air and Space Museum in Omaha, Nebraska. All the aircraft and equipment used by the Strategic Air Command is on Display.
When I came to the parking lot a shiny Atlas missile greeted me. Inside the museum is a giant B-36. It is still the largest airplane ever built.
There is also a Convair B-58 the fastest bomber at the time. Another Convair product is the F-102 Interceptor. And there is the Fort Worth built FB-111. I know a lot about the electronic bay doors on that airplane.
Boeing of course has a lot of planes there too. There is a B-52 with advanced cruise missiles, a B-47, KC-97, and B-29.
There are a lot more smaller airplanes and two foreign planes, an English
Vulcan Jet Bomber and a MIG-21.
I had a good time. It is hot though today, 95 degrees F and the humidity is high.
In the afternoon I went to " Hector's" a Mexican Restaurant where they serve Baja Style Mexican Cuisine.
I went there for a visit and not to eat. Hector and I had a conversation while he was watching his four year old son. I added this to confuse all the Convair people. You have to guess who I saw today.
Then it was swimming pool time.
The day started wrong. Since I came to this KOA at 8:00 AM yesterday morning, there were only a few sites available. People had not left yet.
I got a site with water and electricity, no sewer connection. This was no big deal since the Flying J gas station around the corner has a dumping facility and I had to get gasoline anyway. I do not want to use the campground dumping facility because I leave so early and do not want to wake up my fellow campers.
When I came to the Flying J station a motorhome was parked in front of the dump station. I knocked on the door but nobody came to the door. After a while a couple came out of the restaurant and moved the motorhome. In the meantime a big truck got in my way and I had to drive around once to get to the dump station.
It was 6:00 AM when I left the station with empty holding tanks and a full fuel tank. I was warm already and the forecast for today did not look good, more heat.
I arrived in Salina, Kansas at 12:15 PM and went straight to Reiner and Helga's house. I did not go to a RV Park because I had called them from different places and there was nobody at home. I had a feeling they are on vacation.
While I was in front of the home the neighborhood watch got into action. Two different people asked me whether they could help me. When a man stopped his pick up truck to help me I told him my story. He suggested that I go to PRM Steel and see whether Reiner is there. He gave me a sketch and I took off.
Reiner and Helga are on vacation and Reiner's brother was not available either.
So I got on I-135 and headed for Wichita.
At the RV park there I looked in the telephone book for Bob Ferenc, called his wife and she gave me his work number. After work Bob came to the RV Park and we had a wonderful three hours. So the day ended pretty good.
The roof air conditioner is working hard and the converter is smelling like something is burning. When I get back home I have to take the converter apart. Most likely I will put a separate 110 Volt line in for the air conditioner, just like I did for the electric heater.

Today was a traveling day. I left Wichita at 4:30 AM to enjoy the cooler air. I took US-54 which goes southwest from Wichita. Tucumcari was my final destination. The city is located about 130 miles east of Albuquerque on I-40.
The Elks Lodge has six sites with electricity and water and a big swimming pool. They charge $ 7.50 for the first day, the second day is free. There is a two day limit. I think this is for the winter. I am the only camper here.
It is hot but dry, not humid like in Kansas. In the Oklahoma and Texas Panhandles the corn fields are round. The automatic irrigation system goes in a circle. You see those giant green circles and dried grass and weeds around them. Today I came through a lot of small towns with big grain elevators and saw long, long trains.

I am back in Albuquerque at the Enchanted Trails Camping Resort. The resort is located 20 miles west of the city. I got here at 10:00 AM and took off for Old Town at 11:00AM.
Instead of taking I-40 I drove on the historic route 66. Outside the city the motels and businesses look like they are hurting for business. But in the city they are doing well and they are kept up.
I went to my favorite restaurant for lunch. I like their sopaipillas, they are served instead of bread.
I ordered a dish where they use the sopaipillas instead of tortillas. The waiter talked me out of it. A few minutes later I hear another waiter tell the people next to me that their sopaipillas machine broke down and nobody was trained to do them by
When my food came the waiter explained to me that the sopaipillas do not look good and are not puffed up like they supposed to be. I ate them anyway. I hope the machine is fixed by October when Doreen and I come to New Mexico for the fall colors.
After lunch I went back on route 66, which is Central Avenue in the city.
I went to Kirtland Air Force Base to go to the National Atomic Museum. When I got to the base I was informed by the guard that the museum was moved to Old Town because of security problems. I had an old folder. So I went back to Old Town but I took
The museum has Exhibits from Madame Marie Curie, Nuclear Medicine, The
Manhattan Project, and the weapons and airplanes, and submarines, and cannons used to deliver the weapons. There is a Trident missile and copies of the nuclear bombs used in Japan.
When I got back to the RV Park I went to the swimming pool and took it easy. I was very lazy on this trip. I have not read one book. I started Tom Brokaw's "The Greatest Generation" but did not get very far.

I arrived at the Red Rock State Park at 8:00 AM and was on the trail to Church Rock 30 minutes later.
The tapestry on some of the canyon walls are unbelievable beautiful. Church Rock has three towers.
When I came back I took a long nap and then went into Gallup. I bought some groceries at the Walmart and bought ten feet of heavy cable and a male plug. I connected the air conditioner directly to a 20 amp outlet on the power post. Now I can run the unit full blast. Later I went to the museum here in the park. They have a large Indian Museum. There is also a big area for rodeos and a convention center and an outdoor theater where they have the Inter Tribal Indian Ceremonial in August.
At 5:00 PM I went to the Gallup Indian Cultural Center for Indian Dancing. I had planned to spend some time in the Cultural Center Museum after I parked the car. That was the reason for leaving so early, to find a parking space. The show started at 7:00 PM.
But the museum closed at 5:30 PM. Now I had some time to kill.
I walked along Route 66 and looked for a restaurant. There are a thousand Indian gift shops but no restaurant. Finally I asked somebody and that person told me to go in a side street and look for Jerry's restaurant. I found it and went in. I was the only non Navajo in this place. Jerry's is a family restaurant and there were families. It must be a popular place because it was crowded.
For $8.00 I had a complete meal with salad and of course a sopaipilla.
This sopaipilla was large and really puffed up. I filled it with honey and enjoyed it.
I walked back to the Cultural Center: found a place in the shade and watched the show.

I arrived at the Elk's Lodge in Sedona, Arizona at 11:00 AM and could not get fast enough the air conditioner going.. It is hot here.
I have a $10.00 camp site with a million dollar view. The lodge is located on Airport Mesa and the city is below and the red and brown mountains are straight ahead.
A few years ago Doreen and I took a helicopter ride through the canyons and over Sedona. On the way to the airport we saw the Elk's lodge and I knew then that I would camp here on day.
It is Saturday today and when I came by Slide Rock State Park, the cars trying to get in were lined up to the highway, it makes no sense going there.
I drove into Sedona and had an ice cream and I walked on Main street for a while. Since it is vacation season the city has many tourists. Today I am one month on the road.

I had planned to stop in the Phoenix area today but it is too hot. It is no fun to do anything in that heat.
So I drove home. It is warmer than usual in Carlsbad. I emptied only the refrigerator and freezer and will take care of the rest tomorrow.

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