We are on the road again. We came back from England and Ireland three weeks ago and took care of some doctor appointments, smog check for the motorhome, and Doreen visited her friend Florence a few times in the hospital, and last Tuesday we had Florence's memorial service.
We left Carlsbad at 5:30 AM and headed towards Las Vegas. We had reservations at the Circus, Circus RV Park. When we arrived there I jumped out of the motorhome and plugged in the electrical cord as fast as I could. Doreen turned on the air conditioner and the refrigerator. I know now why they call it Sin City, it gets hot like in hell in Las Vegas. We conked out on the bed and rested for an hour.
I went to the swimming pool and did some laps, and stayed five minutes on one of the chaise lounges. Even the half naked girls could not keep me any longer.
After dinner we went to the casino and I lost $20.00 and gave up on losing more money. We went to the circus area and watched several acts.
Because of the heat we took the casino shuttle back to the RV Park. I gave the driver the wrong camp site number and he brought us to the wrong site. Doreen said that he was a dummy. When we finally found our site we knew who the dummy was.
We were very exhausted and after a shower I climbed in my bed. I first thought I could not sleep with the noise of the air conditioner. I only remember pulling the curtain between me and the air conditioner because of the cold air. The above cab bed has curtains. They were short, to cover only the bed area, but Doreen added material so they go down to the floor and while we are driving and using the dash air conditioner we close the curtains and only cool the front part of the motorhome.
We woke up exhausted and it was still hot. We left a bit after 6:00 AM and drove the 250 miles to Beaver in Utah. Before crossing the border we filled up the fuel tank in the motorhome in Nevada. We paid $1.89 for a gallon. As soon as we got to Utah we saw the signs, $ 1.46 for the gallon.
The higher we got the cooler the air felt. We arrived in Beaver at 11:30 AM. I went to register and when I filled out the papers, a black cat jumped on the counter and pushed the pen with her head. I found out it was Maria, the official greeter. We set up camp and Doreen took a long nap.
In the afternoon we sat outside and were reading when it started to thunder and there was lightning. I put the chairs back in the trunk of the car and we went inside, a few minutes later it came down, first rain and then it was hailing.
It lasted for an hour and then the sun came out. In the RV Park here is a
Mexican restaurant, it is very good according to people we talked to. I like Mexican food but Doreen had a low report on her last blood test and decided to make poached salmon instead of going to Maria's Cocina.
I tried to turn on the TV for Doreen but the signal enhancer was dead and I was to tired to check the fuses, instead of "Tely" Doreen got Mantovani on a cassette. This was very relaxing.
At 2:00 AM we woke up because of loud thunder. To wake me up it really had to be loud. Another storm came through.
We left Beaver at 7:00 AM and arrived at Salt Lake City at 11:30 AM. There were no major mountains to climb, which made it an easy ride. After a short nap and lunch we went to the Temple Square and took a guided tour. We went into the Tabernacle and the Assembly Hall. Going inside buildings was time to cool off.
After the Temple area we went to the Utah State Capital Building and then drove to the highest point in the area to look over the city. With those giant clouds in the air, this was a beautiful sight.
On the way home Doreen told me that she did not feel like cooking. We went to a restaurant and had a lousy meal. I usually do not complain about food, but that meal was lousy.
Back at the motorhome I looked behind the TV and found the switch for the Antenna amplifier was on "off".
I must have accidentally turned it off. Since this was a success I started to work on the sticking main motorhome door. Two pieces of paper under the bracket improved the situation. Tomorrow I put two more pieces of paper there and it should be perfect. This is almost like fixing airplane tooling. I am just kidding Phil.
While I was fixing things around our small home, Doreen was on the computer writing letters. Suddenly the wind picked up and shook the motorhome from side to side. Doreen gave me that certain look. We looked outside and saw our neighbor trying to get into his motorhome. The wind was keeping him from opening the door.
I do not need scary things like that, Doreen asked me a couple of times about tornados in the midwest, as far as I know they do not exist, I lived twenty years in the Chicago area and I should know. Just wait when we get there.
Today was actually our first day of vacation. We drove only the car today and from now on we will have only short stretches to drive with the motorhome.
Last night when we were in bed we heard a howling noise on top of the
motorhome. I finally figured out what caused it. I had installed a new top on the toilet tank exhaust. They are usually round, I bought a new contraption which looks like a piece of two inch diameter white plastic tube. While we drive, the wind goes through the tube and sucks out the gases from the toilet tank.
Last night the motorhome was located in the direction of the wind and it sounded like somebody was playing a tuba. I had to get up and climb on top of the motorhome and stick a sock into the tube. I am glad nobody saw me in my pajamas on top of the motorhome.
We had a nice day. We went across the Salt Lake causeway to Antelope Island State Park. It was warm but there was breeze. Unfortunately I had forgotten the binoculars and we were not able to see any bison, deer and antelopes.
We saw one deer with two babies at the ranch. The drive around the 15 mile long island was beautiful though. After we got home I jumped in the pool.
At 4:00 AM Doreen had enough of the trains going by somewhere in the neighborhood. The engineers were heavy on the whistle. I had a feeling the night before and had disconnected already the sewer hose, the water hose and the TV cable. I had the car hooked up already and all I had to disconnect was the electric cord and we were on our way at 4:30 AM.
Unfortunately we encountered a detour to I-80 in down town Salt Lake City and lost 45minutes trying to find another entrance to the freeway. It was still dark but fortunately no traffic.
The drive through the Wasatch Mountains was beautiful but very exhausting for me. I try to help the motorhome get up the steep mountains. With the altitude and pulling a car it is a slow process, I feel like pushing.
We arrived at Vernal at 10:30 AM and hooked up and then went for the 20 mile drive to the Dinosaur National Monument. We went to the quarry where one sees the large and small bones embedded in the rocks. It was warm but with the breeze it was fine.
Afterward we went to the museum in Vernal and saw more bones and a complete large skeleton of one of those beasts. Doreen indicated she would not like to meet one of those animals. They also have a Dinosaur garden with large full size models of different species of dinosaurs.
Last night we had our first good sleep, we even had to use covers. I talked to people who just arrived from Yellowstone National Park and they told me that it was cold there and they were thawing out in Vernal.
We left Vernal at 7:30 AM. I was told that the first ten miles toward Flaming Gorge National Monument were the toughest, eight miles straight up. Doreen wanted to drive the car but I wanted to see first. We climbed the first hill and when we came around the corner I knew right away I should have done this different. We managed to stop at a passing lane and disconnect the car and installed the CB in the car so we could communicate. We encountered so many switch backs and sharp curves. The summit was only 8,400 feet high but it was hard to get there. When we arrived at the top we attached the car again and went to Flaming Gorge National Monument. We had spectacular views from the overlooks.
The plan was to stay the night at Rock Springs, Wyoming. When we got there we had lunch but decided to go on and get closer to Jackson Hole.
We ended up in a National Forest camp ground at Hoback Junction. The Hoback River runs through the camp ground and there are mountains on both sides with pine trees. It is a beautiful park.
We have no hook ups but there is water. The camp host offered extra water hoses so I do not have to leave the camp site for filling the water tank. It is permissible to let the grey water run on the ground. Since we have plenty of sun and therefore plenty of electricity, because of the solar panels, we decided to stay at least two days and drive down to Jackson with the car.
The RV parks in Jackson charge $30.00 to $40.00 a night.
We went to Grand Teton National Park early in the morning. At Jenny Lake we took the boat to Hidden Falls. The waterfall was .5 miles from the boat ramp. We hiked up the trail to the waterfall, some younger people continued up to the Inspiration Point.
We were inspired enough and enjoyed the scenery and took the next boat back.
Our next stop was Jackson Lake. On the way we stopped at several overlooks and Doreen took pictures. We were very lucky and had blue skies and the top of the mountain was visible. At Jackson Lake we had a little picnic and were joined by a couple from Massachusetts. We had a nice conversation. On the way back we stopped at the Jackson Lake Lodge and went to the veranda facing the lake. In the meadow below was a moose eating the bushes and walking into a little lake and drinking water. Doreen felt suddenly weak and felt like sleeping. We went to Jackson and Doreen had a soft drink while I went to the post office and got some stamps.
When Doreen saw the fancy shops in Jackson she suddenly felt fine. She claims the sugar and poison in the soft drink gave her a lift. She went to visit several stores while I did the "Men Thing" hung around in front of the stores. I was not the only one, I had plenty of company. There must be a way to make money with all those men hanging around the outside of the stores. I treated myself with a cone of chocolate chip- mint ice cream.
When we got home we watched the big birds across the river. They have a large nest on top of a high dead tree. They were mating several times on a branch near the nest. First we thought they were eagles but were informed they are ospreys.
In the evening we did our customary walk around the camp ground and said our good byes.
We left our camp site at 6:00 AM, first Doreen in the car and then I in the motorhome. When Doreen drove past Gunny's motorhome he waved to her.
Gunny is the camp host, he was in the Marines 30 years and now has been a camp host the last 11 years at this camp ground. In the winter he is a host in Nevada. He is one of those over friendly people, he goes to town and gets information for the campers, he has extra hoses for water, a scale to weigh the fish, and he gives information constantly. The rest rooms were the cleanest we ever saw in any camp ground, and here we are in the middle of the forest, twenty miles from Jackson.
When we stopped to attach the car to the motorhome he came out of his
motorhome and hugged Doreen. He will write to us when he gets a new camp ground in Montana.
We arrived at Yellowstone National Park at 9:00 AM. The drive was easy but we had the misfortune that a male deer with big antlers tried to cross the street while we came along. The buck was running, I saw him out of the corner of my left eye. Then I heard a noise at the side of the motorhome. I could not stop right away because a vehicle was behind us. I pictured a big hole in the side of the motorhome and a broken windshield in the car. Doreen was worried about that poor deer, I felt bad about it too.
We finally found a turnout on the other side of the road and got out and looked for damages.
The deer must have tried to stop and hit the motorhome with its side. It lost some hair on the refrigerator exhaust door, on the furnace exhaust door, and on all sharp corners. There was some blood and some green stuff all along the side of the motorhome. The poor deer had emptied his bowels.
We were shaken and proceeded. Doreen had seen another deer behind the first deer, we are lucky that one put on the brakes in time.
In Yellowstone we are at Grants Village Camp Ground. There a only a few sites with hook ups. We did not get one. Our neighbor is the camp host, he came over and talked to us for half an hour. After lunch we took off to see Old Faithful. The geyser used to do his thing approximately every 55 minutes, now it is about 85 minutes. We came at the right time and did not have to wait very long.
We went to some of the geyser basins and enjoyed the different pools with different colors. We drove the lower ring of the figure eight of the park roads.
We encountered a large herd of bison on a large meadow. Some of them were near the road. There were a lot of babies. The bison are shedding their winter fur and are not looking their best. There are loose pieces of fur hanging on their bodies.
We also saw some elks laying near the road. It was warm but with the light wind very pleasant.
We started out early to go to Mammoth Hot Springs, which is located at the upper loop of the figure eight of the park road. First we encountered a big elk which was standing in the middle of the road and looked the other way. I honked the horn but the animal did not even turn around. We carefully drove around him.
Later we had to stop for two bison, which were standing in the middle of the road.
When we got to Madison we had to wait a little bit more than an hour because of road construction. The road crews work all night and until 9:00 AM in the morning. We actually had a feeling about this and had in mind to take the east road but made a mistake and took the wrong turn.
When we noticed it, it was too late. So we spend the time in a rest area.
Mammoth Hot Springs was a bit disappointing. The water does not run any more over the formations and it looks rather dull. On the way back we stopped at Artist Point where one has the best view of the Yellowstone Canyon and the waterfall. This view is hard to describe, that spot is one of the prettiest in the world.
Yellowstone National Park is still a beautiful place to visit, even though I was sad when we entered the park and I saw what the fire of 1988 had done. There are ghost forests with only bare trunks standing on the hill sides. The new trees are between two and five feet high.
When I was here in 1970 it was different, but nature has its reason.
Yellowstone Canyon with the waterfall and the large buffalo herd at the road to Canyon will always be with me.
We started the day fine. At 5:45 AM we were at the dump station and emptied the holding tanks, no lines and no hassle. At 6:00 AM we were on the road towards Cody. We were the only rig on the road and took our time getting over the pass in Yellowstone.
I had some pain from a little accident the night before. I was pulling apart a collapsible water container and lost my grip and my hand slapped a sensitive part of my body. I was breathless for a few seconds and I
thought I was O.K.
We were traveling east on highway 16, the Cloud Peak Skyway, it is a very scenic drive. In Greybull, Wyoming we got some gasoline. The lady at the gas station asked me where I was going, and when I told her she told me not to go to Worland, she told me a short cut to Ten Sheep. It made sense what she told me and I took her advice. In Manderson we took highway 31 as she told me. Unfortunately we went to Hyatville. I stopped there and asked a local, whether we should continue, because the road turned into a dirt road. He told me there is no problem, the dirt road is well maintained.
I had promised myself, after taking the dirt road to the ghost town of Bodie, never to travel on a dirt road with the motorhome. Doreen had told me not to go to Hyatville, instead to continue the road from highway 31.
In Hyatville she suggested to turn around and go back the seven miles. I wish I had followed either advice.
I continued on the dirt road and there was no end to it. We were on a Wyoming dirt road ,no signs on intersections and the map does not help. I went strictly by compass. The temperature was in the nineties and I tried to adjust the fan on the console between the two front seats. The fan is covered in the front, but not in the back. I managed to get my finger in the opening and cut my right hand ring finger.
We had to stop and nurse Doreen took care of my bleeding finger. I felt stupid before, because of being lost, and now I really felt stupid and was hurting in two places.
A lady in a pick up truck overtook us and I waved her down. She told me to follow her, I declined because she flew over the stones and ruts with her truck, besides we swallowed enough dust on our own.
After a long time another pick up truck came towards us. I asked them how to get back to highway 16 and they told me to just drive two more miles.
We finally made it. Our short cut took us three times as long and we had to clean and vacuum the motorhome in the evening in Buffalo. Highway 16 goes through the Big Horn Mountains, the pass is 10,400 feet high. I should have listened to Doreen and let her drive the car. It was not my day.
The scenery is out of this world, the flowers along the road are colorful, but I had a bad day, some of it was my own doing, next time I will do better.
We stopped in Buffalo at a KOA. I jumped in the swimming pool and later when it cooled off a bit we went to work and cleaned the motorhome and the car. We started the roof air conditioner and instead of the condensation water running on the motorhome roof and down the sides, it came down from the
ceiling on the floor. I went and got the bucket from the storage compartment and could not not use it. The bottom of the bucket had cracked and leaked. We had to use a plastic food container to catch the water.I think because of traveling on the dirt road something came loose or broke in the air conditioner.
I had asked whether the RV park had modem hook up before I registered and the answer was positive. I could not sent and receive mail. The line worked only with a 800 number. Yes this was not my day.
We had a very good and interesting day. We drove through the Black Hills of South Dakota to the Crazy Horse Memorial. We were early enough to get a parking spot for the motorhome and car.
The head of Crazy Horse is completed. 31 years ago the hole under the arm was the only visible thing on the mountain. There is also an Indian Museum and Indians are doing silver and other works and selling their wares. We spend more time there than I had planned, but there is more to see now than I thought.
We had lunch in the motorhome and continued our journey to Mount Rushmore.
While standing in front of the visitor center and talking to Doreen about the four presidents on the side of the mountain, the man next to us said: " Richard Sturtz, I recognize that voice anywhere". It was Mike Yoggerst, who worked with me at Convair. He worked for Boeing at Salt Lake City. I had tried to get his address and contact him while we were in Utah. He got laid off ,sold his house and he and his girl friend are traveling.
We completed our visit at Mount Rushmore and went east on I-90 towards Minnesota. Doreen was reading the Wall Drugstore adds on the bill boards in the fields along the Interstate. She could not believe that somebody would spend so much money on bill boards. Most people living in the Mid-West know about the Wall Drugstore in South Dakota.
We decided to spend the night in Wall so Doreen could explore this store. After setting up camp we walked to the store. It had advertised everything under the sun, including five cent coffee and free ice water.
The store is one whole city block. I lost Doreen and thought I would have to walk home by myself and wait for her. I had an ice cream first and then went through the whole store, and I found her.
While driving along the highway Doreen said: " There are airplane bodies" I did not know what she meant and I looked around. Sure enough there where complete aircraft fuselages on a train heading North. They were Boeing 737 fuselages coming from Wichita. They had no shrink wrap or any other protection, just the yellow-green skin cover.
Today was a driving day. We left Wall, SD at 5:45 AM and had fog the first two hours. We rolled along I-90 all day long. We stopped at the Corn Palace in Mitchell.
The outside and inside of this large building are decorated with pictures made from corn. They use ears of corn and all other parts. There was Elvis, Indians, cowboys and landscapes. At Worthington we headed north on Minnesota 60.
We found a Camping Club of America associated RV Park in Le Sueur, Minnesota, 60 miles south of Minneapolis. We would like to stay here another day and go to New Ulm, a German community, but I had made arrangements to see friends in Eden Prairie near Minneapolis at 10:00 AM on the Fourth of July.
The park is beautiful, in a forest setting, the owner is very nice, he let me use his telephone line for my E mail.
He is a Pfaff sewing machine dealer and his wife teaches sewing and has a large room with sewing machines, material, and a knitting machine. The sewing machines are from a tiny hand held machine to floor models. We told them about friends we have, where the wife has 24 sewing machines. Darlene and this woman would get along fine. While I was on the computer, Doreen got the sewing machine tour.
We got to my friends in Eden Prairie at 10:00 AM and we had a wonderful lunch, grilled salmon and vegetables cooked on the grill, with rice.
We left them at 3:00 PM after talking about our time together in the Chicago area. Our children grew up together. We had not seen each other for twenty years.
Their two boys are doing well, one has a PhD and works at Los Alamos,NM and the other one has a Masters in computers and works in Colorado. The two sons and family will visit them in Minnesota next week.
We went east on US 29 which goes straight to Green Bay, Wisconsin. We saw a lot of dairy farms, a lot of cows and a lot of green fields and forests We looked for a RV park or a camp ground and found only farms and an occasional small town. Doreen went through the big book looking for a place to stay. We went to a small town and asked where the next Walmart is. The answer was Wausau and Green Bay. Wausau was behind us and Green Bay could not be reached before dark. So we kept on driving. Walmart
welcomes lost campers and lets them stay over night on their parking lot.
Doreen found a park in the book. As soon we approached Shawano we kept looking for signs. We found the park and it looked like every person in Wisconsin was there. But we were lucky and got a site, and a good one.
They put us by our self on a grass area away from everybody else. If the forest goes up in smoke we are safe and away from the fire crackers. Doreen found a radio station which plays music from the fifties. I brought about sixty cassettes but the stupid thing gurgles, it could not do it at home, it had to happen while we are on the road. As soon as we stop at a Walmart or K Mart we will buy a cleaning unit.
We left Shawno at 7:45 AM and arrived at Brussels at 9:45 AM. We got a good site, but only for one day.
After setting up camp, we went looking for a camp site for two more days. We need a vacation, and Door County, Wisconsin is the right place. My friends and my family spent a lot of good times here. Door County is the peninsula near Green Bay. Most of the RV Parks are filled up because of the 4th of July weekend. But we found a nice place in a forest area and will be moving tomorrow.
After having peace of mind, we went to Gills Rock, the upper most point of the peninsula. We had lunch in the restaurant near the ferry, and watched cars being loaded and unloaded from the ferries.
We also went to Peninsula State Park and climbed the 75 food Eagle Tower. From the tower you can see the towns in the area and part of Michigan.
When Doreen saw the tower she said: "No way" so I went by myself. After I was on top I looked down and could not see Doreen. I had a certain fear, sure enough, after a few minutes her head popped up from the opening of the stair case. She was puffing, but she made it.
I showed Doreen Nicolet Bay, where I sailed my sail boat. The last time I visited Door County was 24 years ago, I changed and so did Door County.
07-06-01 and 07-07-01
We moved to a new park, 15 miles north. Slowly we explored the Michigan Lake side of the peninsula. At Baileys Harbor we found a nice picnic area and ate our sandwiches and apples.
In Sister Bay we went one more time to the Scandinavian restaurant with the grass roof. We watched the goats on the roof eating the grass.
This area of Door County was settled by people from Sweden and Norway, and the architecture of the buildings shows. Doreen mentioned that she had to think and figure out in which country she was. No wonder with the recent trip to Ireland and the English Midlands one gets confused easily.
Saturday we went to Brussels for the Belgian Days. We watched the lawn tractor pulling contest. Supped up lawn tractors had to pull a sled like contraption.
In the evening we went to a Fish Boil. In a large three legged pot small potatoes are boiled in a strainer. The legs are tall enough to burn wood under the pot. After a while a strainer with small onions is added, and later a strainer with white fish.
When the cooking is almost done, a can of kerosene is poured over the fire and the water boils over the sides of the pot and gets rid of the grease and the flames give a special effect. The eating is done inside. There was also corn on the cob, Cole Slaw and bread. While waiting for the meal hors d'oeuvre were served and after the meal cherry pie. One could eat as much as one could get down the hatch.
This was a wonderful climax of our visit to Door County, Wisconsin.
We arrived early in Wisconsin Dells and after a little snack and rest we went to take a boat ride to the Upper Dells. First I had to keep my cool and not tell the lady in the ticket booth where to go to.
She tried to sell me a complete package for the Upper and lower Dells. Since I have done that before and knew here sales spiel, I would not go for it. She tried to talk to Doreen, but Doreen only looked at her.
After she wasted all that time she accused me of having a bad day. I would not let her ruin my day though.
The boat trip included two stops. We walked through Witches Gulch, a very narrow canyon, where the Wisconsin River cut through the different layers of rock. It was very pretty and colorful and cool.
The second stop was to Stand Rock, where a German shepherd dog jumps the five feet distance to this 65 feet high table rock.
Since it was hot and humid Doreen did not feel like shopping in the thousands of stores. Wisconsin Dells has grown to a major tourist attraction. There is not only one water park, there is one at every corner.
Roller coasters are plenty too. All kind of dangerous looking contraptions from bungee jumping to a thing where they catapult people in the air and they come down on a rubber band are there too. Just looking at those rides makes me feel uneasy. We went home and I jumped in the swimming pool. Later we did our laundry.
We are on our way to Chicago. We stopped in Spring Green, which is located west of Madison, Wisconsin. There we went to the House on the Rock. This is the Dream House of a very eccentric man, as the name suggests, it is build on a rock. The view from the house is spectacular, but more interesting than the house is the collection of air operated musical instruments. There are complete orchestras playing without a human hand. The bows on the violin move, the strings on the harp move, it gives one a different feeling. There is the largest carousel in the world, with several hundred animals, but no horses. The museum is very large, all inside. To see everything one has to walk three miles.
Our next stop was Belvidere, Illinois, east of Rockford. We visited a friend of mine. We had not seen each other for 25 years. We had a lot of catching up to do.
Ken and I met at Triton College. He talked me in of working part time for his boss. After a while the boss and Ken convinced me to quit my job of thirteen years and work full time with them. After graduating from college I moved on to greener pastures, which eventually were in California. We had dinner with Pat and Ken and camped in their drive way. During the day it was hot but we were able to sleep without the air conditioner on.
We went to a neighborhood restaurant with Pat and Ken and had breakfast. After breakfast we took off for Crystal Lake, where my former boss relocated his Tool and Die shop and stamping plant. When I saw this ultra modern facility I had to think about the time when Ken and I and John, the owner, where working in a little old store in Melrose Park. Times have changed. We continued our journey and went to Northbrook, a Northwest suburb of Chicago, to friends., Since it was hot we parked our motorhome under the oak trees. In late evening the temperature dropped to 70 degrees F, and we were able to sleep without the air conditioner. Our friends have one acre of oak trees.
It is our third day without sewer and water hook up and our second day without electricity. Since it cooled down we are OK. We are still camping on our friends front driveway under large oaks.
Today we visited other good friends, Wolfgang and Ilse, and they treated us to a B-BQUE. On the menu were large steaks, potatoes, vegetables and salad. Like a fool I ate the whole steak, Doreen was smart and cut it in half. As dessert we had amaretta torte, delicious but rich. My stomach can't believe what was coming down.
On the way home we visited other good friends, Claus and Gisela, and continued reminiscing about the good old times when we had little money but had fun anyway.
We went to Des Plaines, my old home town and visited Collin, the son of my old land lady. It is very depressing to come back after many years and find the old people either dead or in bad shape .In Des Plaines we visited Ray Krock's first Mc.Donald.
It is a museum now, with cars , vintage1955, standing in the parking lot. The cars are in super condition and have the price stickers on the rear side window.
Doreen saw the 1955 Oldsmobile Super 88, midnight blue and white, and got all excited, more than I could get her excited. This was the car in which she learned how to drive and took her driving test while eight months pregnant. The color was the same as her car. Across the street is a modern sit down Mc.Donald, the old one had windows where you ordered your meal and ate in the car. In my case it was a 1957 Pontiac Star Chief, it had a metal grey paint job and cream color leather seats.
Instead of eating at Mc.Donald we went next door and ate at White Castle, another Mid West hamburger institution. Doreen did not like her meal, I like those little hamburgers with the cooked onions on it. You get four hamburgers, because they are small.
We drove by my old house and could not find it, besides my old house, the houses of both of my neighbors were gone. There is a large construction side now, more condos will be build.
In the afternoon Gertrud and Helmut, our friends where we are staying ,treated us with a wonderful meal and took us to the Chicago Botanical Garden for a walk. It is a beautiful, very large garden.
We would like to visit more friends but there is a time constraint, we have to keep on moving soon.
Today came the mail we were waiting for, a couple of days ago came the license plate sticker for the motorhome, now we are legal again.
I had another little disappointment. We went to the General Fire Extinguisher Corporation plant in Northbrook to visit old friends. I had there my first job as a Manufacturing Engineer after graduating from
college. All we found was :" Available" signs on the buildings and grass was growing in the cracks in the parking lot. I had the same feeling, the feeling I get when I go to San Diego and drive along Pacific Highway where the Convair plant was.
I thought we needed some cheering up and we went to Marshall Fields, the exclusive clothing store. But Doreen could not get excited, she rather goes shopping with her friend or daughter, than have me hanging around. We had a Subway sandwich and went home and sat on the back veranda of our friends home and read and Doreen did also some knitting for our first grand child who will arrive in October..
Our friends were packing their van and left for Michigan to pick 100 pounds of blueberries. The night they will spend at the Indiana Dunes State Park, a place we spent many wonderful weekends with our friends and families. In the evening we went to Wauconda where our friends Bob and Freke took us out for a wonderful Chinese Dinner. It was nice to see them again.
Sometimes I wish the US was a little smaller so we could get together more often with our friends.
We left about 8:25 AM for Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Traffic on the Edens Express Way was good, but as soon as we got on the Kennedy it was slow, and the Ryan was 5 miles per hour. We wasted an hour. I should have taken the Toll Road, but since it was a Saturday I expected better traffic, leaving late did not help.
From Interstate 94 we went southeast on highway 30. Because of road construction we lost some more time and when we arrived in Ft. Wayne we had no time to look for a RV park. We camped in front of my cousins house.
Larry, my cousin Waltraud's husband, helped us to get settled and when Waltraud and her daughter Jennifer came home from work, we got in Larry's car, including Jennifer's eight year old daughter and went to a Chinese restaurant. I had asked them what food they like and the answer was Chinese.
I am glad we like it, and do not mind having it two days in a row. Since I had not seen them in 21 years we had a lot to talk about.
We left early and got out of the neighborhood with its winding streets without a problem. On the main street I hesitated and went in to a fancy neighborhood with big houses. When I tried to turn around I came to close to a lamp post on the lawn. We had the whole intersection blocked off.
With the car on the back I could not back up and we had to disconnect the car, so I could turn around without removing the fancy steel light post. We were lucky it was very early and a Sunday. We went to a gas station and filled up the motorhome, the price for a gallon: $1.15, the cheapest so far.
The rest of the day was normal. We stopped at a RV park near Erie, Pennsylvania and Doreen surprised me by going in the swimming pool with me. We lost another hour, that makes it three.
We arrived at Grand Island, New York at 10:00 AM and took off for Niagara Falls right away. Niagara Falls is five miles from the island, it cost us $ 2.50 to cross the bridge. We stopped at the American Falls first and later had lunch in the state park.
When we felt strong again we went over the Rainbow Bridge into Canada. There was no parking any more near the falls and we went a few miles west of he falls where there is a large parking lot. A shuttle brought us to Horseshoe Falls. It started to rain lightly and we joined the thousands of people admiring the falls.
It is a spectacular sight and a sound one does not forget soon. I remember when I was at Niagara Falls in the seventies, the American Fall had no water. They made studies how to improve the falls.
Doreen went in the park store to shop while I inquired about the walk behind the falls. The day was almost booked and the lines very long.
The Maid of the Mist, the boat which goes near the falls, is very busy too. There are actually three boats.
It is a wonderful sight to see all those people in their blue plastic rain gear on the boat, and the people who take the behind the falls walk in their yellow rain gear. The landscaping on the American side of the river has improved the last twenty years. It looks very nice. Of course the Canadian side always has
been catering to tourists. There are giant flower baskets on the lamp posts along the river drive and the park has beautiful lawns and shrubbery and trees.
We woke up and it was raining very heavy. It sure paid off to go to the falls when we arrived here yesterday. We left the RV park at 8:00 AM and headed for the border. When we got to the falls we had no parking problem. We parked 150 feet from the park building and were first in line for the 9:00 AM Walk behind the Falls.
There are elevators which take the people down to the tunnel which goes under the water fall.
They issue yellow rain gear but we got a little wet anyway. One realizes the force of the water going over the falls when one touches the walls in the tunnel, it vibrates. On the way home we stopped at an Outlet Mall and Doreen took off for an hour. She came back with a pair of shoes. We also stopped at a bakery to
buy rye bread and at a grocery store. The grocery store was an Aldi store. It is a store from Germany and we see a lot of them in the eastern states. They sell only certain items. The girls on the cash register sit
on chairs and push the items down the counter. The customer brings his own bag or buys a sturdy plastic bag for 10 cents, and bags his purchases. The shopping cart goes back to a place next to the door, there is an attachment on the cart which is inserted and the money which was put in when the cart was taken, is returned. This sounds rather backwards but when one gets a dozen eggs for 49 cents and other items very cheap it pays to shop at Aldi.
The rest of the day was cloudy but warm and humid. I jumped in the swimming pool and later took a nap.
Our RV park is one of the best we have seen so far, it is heaven for children. There is a little log house full with toys, a lake with six canoes, there are plenty of life jackets, a mini golf course, two swimming pools, organized game times, a play ground, tricycles, little bikes, fishing and a large hall for indoor activities.
And everything is free, we were told that the owners like children, they have six of their own. Of course some of the six run the place now.
We watched the two neighbor boys coming back from the lake,all excited , with the first fish they ever caught. It was very exciting just to watch the picture taking and all the excitement. Since it cooled off, Doreen felt like using the oven and make her famous Cranberry Chicken.
We left Grand Island under blue skies. The rain had moved out. We changed our mind and headed south to Corning, New York. We arrived there at 11:00 AM and found a RV park five miles from the city, We are in a forest again with water and 20 Amp electricity. Since we do not need the air
conditioner this is fine. Corning is in the southern part of the Finger Lake region of New York. There are of course the Finger Lakes and forests and a lot of vineyards. It is a beautiful part of the state, with its mountains and valleys.
We went to the Corning Museum of Glass, the worlds premier institution dedicated to the art, history, and science of glass. There are glass objects 3,000 years old. Glass blowers give demonstrations and make fancy vases and figurines,and animals. They explain how the mirrors for the Hales and other telescopes were made and show how bottles are made now with machines, rather than with a blow stick.
A movie shows how glass is made and how by accident fiber glass was invented. It was very interesting.
Of course there is a Corning store with Corning Ware, Pyrex and thousands of dust catchers. Later we went to Market street where the tourist stores and restaurants are. It was a wonderful day.
Back at the RV park I jumped in the pool while Doreen loaded the washing machine. We like it here so much that we will take a little vacation tomorrow.
We got up a little bit later than normal, ate a good breakfast and drove the ten miles to Watkins Glen.
At the Watkins Glen State Park we were able to get a camp site for only one day. All the sites were reserved for the weekend.
We made sandwiches and got some water and took off for hiking the Gorge. We were smart and took the shuttle to the upper entrance of the Gorge and walked down. The Gorge is 1 1/2 miles long and there are 800 steps. There are 19 waterfalls and the sculptured chasm are very beautiful. We really enjoyed the colors of the stone formations and the shapes. Around every corner was a more beautiful sight. We walked under waterfalls and through tunnels.
After the hike we took a nap and then went into town. Watkins Glen is located at the south end of Seneca Lake, one of the Finger Lakes. We went to the pier where the sightseeing boats leave and Doreen went shopping for a few minutes.
Our leg muscles are hurting from walking down the 800 steps, we wonder how the people are feeling who walked up the Gorge. The steps are in clusters from 2 to 30 at a time.
We had a nice drive through the valleys of the hills north of the Catskill Mountains. The hills are wooded and the valleys change from vineyards to corn and wheat. This is Leatherstocking Country. Everything looks orderly and the farm buildings are in good shape, no barns which can fall over any minute. This part of New York is very beautiful.
We stopped at Saratoga Springs and found an RV Park north of the city. Today we are four weeks on the road, and still friends. Doreen had said if we can stay three months together in a 24 foot motorhome and are still friends, we have it made. So far so good.
We took the short ride to Burlington, Vermont. Driving on those little back roads was fun. Now we see cows again in the meadows. On the way to Burlington we stopped first at Dakin Farms and bought some
sausage. They make their own maple syrup, but we can buy it cheaper at Trader Joe's.
Our next stop was the Vermont Teddy Bear Company. We took the factory tour and had two Teddy Bears made for two babies who will be born in the next few months. Unfortunately we do not know yet the names of the babies or we could have put them on the birth certificates of he bears. This company has a good racket going. Our tour guide was a young and funny man, he kept us in stitches.
Our campground is the Burlington North Beach Campground. We knew what to expect from our young fellow campers. We got music from every direction, and from every nationality. But it was a Saturday and the campground is located on Lake Champlain, besides the campers, there were thousands of day users in the picnic areas and on the beach. The beach is beautiful and large and the water is warm. There was a live band. I had to negotiate for a while to get a site in the park. Everything goes by reservations , I told them I take anything. We were among many tents, under large trees. We had water and electricity, I could not ask for more. The staff was very accommodating.
In the early afternoon we went to Church Street, the down town pedestrian area, with many sidewalk cafes and little shops. We also went to the Battery Park where the locals shot with canons at the British ships in the war of 1812. Those bad British would not give up and ask for more.
In the evening we went for a walk on the beach. When we left our camp site I saw our neighbor throw live lobsters in a large pot, which he had on the fire ring. I asked him whether it was to late to put my order in.
He laughed and kept on preparing the corn on the cob. When we came back from the beach there was a knock on the motorhome door and our neighbor was standing there with two lobsters on a plate. This
reminded me on a trip to the Grand Tetons when a neighbor asked us how big our frying pan was and he brought us fresh caught cut throat trout.
We meet a lot of nice people on our trips, there are more nice people then rotten people.
We negotiated more small roads through Vermont and New Hampshire. From Burlington to Montpelier we took I-89 and then highway 302 all the way to Conway, New Hampshire. Doreen felt at home , most towns have English names. There are exceptions of course, there is Berlin, north of Conway.
Conway is in the Mt. Washington Valley, in the beautiful White Mountains. Highway 302 is part of the White Mountain Loop. The bottom part of the loop is highway 112, the Kancamacus Highway, from Conway to Lincoln.
Our camp site is next to the Saco River. We went into town to ask about the scenic rail road trips and to look at the stores. We came by the city park where a Sunday concert was in progress. In the gazebo was a
brass band and played all the old favorites. There are flags everywhere, people seem to have the patriotic spirit, of course it all started here in New England.
It is warm and humid here, we are running the roof air conditioner. But Doreen felt like using the oven and we had with our chicken, potatoes and vegetables also corn bread.
This was a day when we can not count the calories. We stopped at a Walmart during lunch time. Doreen bought some groceries and then we had lunch. I cut the left over lobster tail in small pieces and mixed them with some salsa, this made a delicious lunch.
We traveled part of the Kancamacus Highway. The highway follows the Swift River. This is a very scenic drive, with many look outs at falls and at the rivers edge.
Our next stop was Bretton Woods where we took the Railway to the Moon, the Cog Railway to the top of Mt. Washington. It was built in 1869 and was he first cog railway. This was a unique experience ,going up the mountain on trestles with a 37 % incline. Mount Washington is a tough mountain, trees grow only up to 4,000 feet, the top is tundra. The summit is about at 6,000 feet, no giant but acts like one. It was another hot day but up there it was only 60 degrees F.
Next to the base station is the Mount Washington Hotel and Resort. It was built in 1902 and reminds us of the Hotel del Coronado, it is very large and exclusive. We toured it and looked at the prices, $ 500.00 to $600.00 a day, and golf, riding packages for $1,000.00 a day. A little bit out of our league.
I could not resist to swim in the Saco River. Yesterday late afternoon I did it. About 200 yards from our camp site was a swimming hole, near a sand bank. The rest of the river is low, just deep enough for the kids with their rubber rafts and inner tubes.
Today we drove to Bar Harbor, Maine. Before we left I had to fix the shower faucets. We use the bath tub as storage when we are on the road.
When we take a shower everything goes on the bed. One faucet leaked and Doreen's make up case was all wet. I had spare parts and fixed both faucets. It was again driving little back roads . We started with our old friend highway 302 and then 11, from there it was a short ride on I-95 North to highway 69, then to highway 1 and highway 3.
All along the road are signs warning of moose crossings. We did not see one tail of a moose, but yesterday when we went up to Mt.Washington with the Cog Railroad, a big male moose tried to cross the tracks twice, but got scared of the noise the steam engine made , and turned back into the woods. It was a big one with big antlers. We had seats in the front and could see it clearly.
I would not like to meet him on the highway in the motorhome while going 55 miles an hour.
The New England states are 65 % wooded, Doreen said she seen enough trees on this trip to last her the rest of her life.
We got a camp site at the Acadia National Park, at the Seawall Campground. There are no hookups, water is available outside the rest rooms. We are under trees but part of the day the solar panels get sun.
There are plenty of private RV Parks with all the amenities, but they can not give us what this park has.
We set up camp, took a rest and then went to the Bass Harbor lighthouse and later to the Sea Wall.
When we got back Doreen took care of a cute little puppy at the motorhome across the road. It was crying because it was thirsty and hungry. The line it was attached to had been wound around the leg of the picnic table and it could not reach the water and food bowl.
Our neighbors, a Swiss couple and their two children did the same thing, the children brought also water.
Late evening it started to rain. Finally we could use our blankets again, it cooled off.
We had a super day. When we woke up there was a blue sky. We went to the Park Visitor Center and watched the movie about the park. We learned that most of the park land was bought by private citizen and given to the Federal Government to be used as a park. One of the major contributor was John D. Rockefeller,Jr. He was building carriage roads and bridges on Mount Desert Island. No cars could travel on them, this is unusual for a person who got his wealth from oil and gasoline. He was a horseman and stipulated that no cars could use those roads. Now there are two sets of roads in the park, with beautiful stone bridges keeping them separate.
Rich people had their cottages on the island, spelled Big Mansions. In 1947 a big fire burned them all.
After the movie we drove by car the Park Loop. There are many overlooks, one more beautiful then the last one .
The highlight was the drive up Cadillac Mountain. Cadillac Mountain is only 1530 feet high but the view from the top is spectacular. One has a good view of Bar Harbor and the other communities.
The little towns are clean and picturesque, we saw walls where the top layer of stones formed a continuous flower pot and there were flower pots hanging on a bridge with colorful flowers in them.
Not everything today was fun. We had to go to Walmart and buy a fiber glass repair kit. The grey water tank was leaking, it had a two inch tear above the drain pipe, leading to the valve. It must have happened when we took the short cut on the dirt road in Wyoming. I got it fixed and it did not change my outlook of today.
Doreen also went in the grocery store while I was with the car. I noticed the car next to ours also had California license plates, something rare out here. When the young man came out of the store I talked to him. He is an ex Boeing, McDonald Douglas employee, he worked in Huntington Beach on Delta and MD-80 and MD-90 stuff. He has the same complaint as Doreen, groceries are very expensive out here, we miss Boneys and Henrys, our favorite stores.
Today was a day just getting from point A to point B. Sounds simple but we made it a little bit complicated.
Doreen said that it started to rain at 4:00 AM. When I woke up it was raining steady. We left Acadia National Park at 7:00 AM. I put on a poncho and hooked up the car. Since we had no hookups there was nothing to disconnect from the motorhome. This made it easier in the rain. I had planned to empty the grey and black tanks but did not feel like it in this weather.
On the way to I-95 we missed a highway number sign and ended up in Bangor. Before Portland ,I-95 splits with I-495, a toll road. Doreen told me to stay on I-95 but at the last minute I saw Portland on the large sign and went on I-495. Both meet again after Portland. I-95 is shorter and free, but the state of Maine is smart and fools the people by marking only the toll road and I fell for it, even though I had looked at it before and wanted to take I-95.
Since it rained we decided to drive to the south side of Boston. I told Doreen that I would not want to drive through the city. I had my experiences on business trips with Boston, the roads were laid out the way the cows walked. For some strange reason we ended up in the middle of the city. They have a major project going, they improve the artery. Roads are getting a second story and new bridges are being build. With the motorhome and a car in tow it was fun.
We decided to go to Wompatuck State Park, in Hingham, Massachusetts. After setting up camp I checked my computer and found out that Juno has a local number for Hingham. I was happy, took my computer and drove to the park office. I asked them whether I could use their line for two minutes.
They first looked at me, but I told them again that this would be a local call. They finally agreed and then I found out that their phones are hard wired in the wall and the phones them self have a cord which can not be removed.
They told me the library is only a short distance from the park. I thought I try it and got lost in town. I finally found my way back This called for a long nap. At least the sun came out in the evening and we were cool for a change. I had to wear a sweat shirt, which is better than being hot.
We woke up under blue skies, the rain had moved out. This was a perfect day to go to Boston, of course I would not drive there. We took the Hydrofoil boat from Hingham harbor, it cost only $2.50 one way. The boats are part of the Boston transportation system and subsidized by the city and state. Many people go to work on the boats.
They go 40 miles an hour and are very smooth, commuters have their coffee from the bar and their news papers, some people worked on their computers.
At Boston Rowes Wharf we took a city trolley and our first stop was the Constitution (Old Iron Side). We went on the upper deck and I had questions, active sailors answered them. The ship is still active.
There were 18 stops in all. The trolley is the only way to see a city like Boston. There is a parking problem and with the changes in the artery ,it is a nightmare driving there.
When we came back I drove to the library and I found it. There were three fire engines in front of the library and the employees were standing outside. When I asked about using their computer they told me to come back tomorrow. Somehow I have no luck in this town getting my E mail.
It was a good day though, I wore my sweat shirt all day, it was about 72 degrees F, perfect for sightseeing.
Today we went to Cape Ann, the peninsula north- east of Boston. First we went to Gloucester where we toured the Hammond Castle Museum, a medieval European castle overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. It is the real thing with towers, a draw bridge and even a dungeon.
Dr. John Hays Hammond, an inventor with 600 patents had it built to house his collection of early Roman and Medieval and Renaissance artifacts. It was worth seeing, the gardens were also beautiful.
From Gloucester we went to Rockport, a small fishing village and a beautiful tourist spot. Since it was a Saturday we had a parking problem. When I was almost giving up and tried to leave town, a car was leaving in front of us and I was able to take the spot. I added two more hours to the parking meter, we were in the middle of town.
At lunch time we went to a restaurant and got a seat at the window, overlooking the beach and the motor and sailing boat mooring area. Not only did we have a wonderful atmosphere we also got a delicious meal.
I had local cod cheeks, bite sized pieces of cod with a very thin coat of batter and not deep fried. They were not greasy and very tasteful. With the very good hard rolls came two pieces of a fruity cake.
Doreen had a Cajun fish sandwich which was very tasty, not to hot.
The weather was picture perfect, 75 degrees F. it was another super day.
We broke up camp and went south to Plymouth. It is a short drive but we had bad luck and got lost and wasted some time. This is not the first time for us in Hingham, we have a hard time getting out of town.
In Plymouth we boarded first the Mayflower II, and then walked over to Plymouth Rock
We had arrived early and parked the motorhome in a neighborhood street and did our sightseeing by car.
It is unbelievable how 120 people could live on a small boat like the Mayflower for 66 days, with all the goats, chicken and other animals.
Our next stop was Plimoth Plantation, a re-created village of the Pilgrims of 1626. People in costumes of this period and who speak the language like the Pilgrims , work in the houses and gardens. There is also a Indian village staffed by Native Americans. The houses of the Pilgrims have thatched roofs and are very small.
We left Plymouth about 1:00 PM and not to early. It got very crowded and no place to park.
We headed toward Bourne, a town on the Cape Cod Canal which connects Cape Cod Bay with Buzzards Bay. We found a RV park next to the canal and under the Bourne bridge. We went for a walk along the canal and it is a pleasure to see all the big sail boats and power boats go through the canal. We had to cross two bridges and maneuver around two rotaries to get to the RV park, of course we got lost twice.
When we came back from our walk our neighbors invited us over and we had a nice conversation.
We went to Provincetown on Cape Cod. Provincetown is an artist town with a large gay community.
Even though it was a Monday, the streets were full of people and the parking lots were filled up.
We stopped at the National Seashore and I changed into my bathing suit. I stepped into the water up to my angles and made a fast U turn. I am not a hero, 55 degrees F. is to cold for me. I went back to the bath house and cleaned my feet and changed back to shorts and T shirt.
For lunch we had again fish in a small restaurant. In the evening our neighbors Tony and Maggie invited us and another couple for dinner. We had chicken, mash potatoes and carrots and a lot of laughs. Dick, their friend was very funny.
We meet so many wonderful people in the RV parks.
We left Bourne Scenic Park at 6:00 AM with a lot of home grown vegetables our neighbors had given us.
At 8:45 AM we were at the submarine base in Groton , Connecticut. One half of the gate was closed so I got confused and went into a little shopping center where I could not turn around with the car in tow.
We unhooked the car and I followed people who were using the outgoing side of the gate, and Doreen followed me. They have long parking spaces for motorhomes and I occupied one. As soon as I was settled a sailor walked towards the motorhome and I knew there was something wrong.
I asked him whether he would spank me, he said no and told me that on Tuesdays they open at 1:00 PM instead of 9:00 AM.
I could not believe it, here we were on time, had a good parking spot and could not go into the Nautilus, the first nuclear powered submarine.
While we were attaching the car to the motorhome an officer came over and explained that Tuesday morning is their maintenance day. Doreen asked him whether I could sneak in but he declined, he gave her an E for effort though.
We saw the submarine and the Polaris missiles and large guns which were on outside display.
So we sat there for a while and made plans. They would not let us leave the motorhome there. We could have gone to Mystic by car, but then we decided not to wait four hours and instead go to Stamford, Connecticut and have Doreen's blood test done.
Connecticut's coastal area is short on camp grounds. There was nothing around Stamford. Without taking the Nautilus tour we made it to Stamford early. I told Doreen after her blood test we would have to look for a Walmart and camp there.
When we got to Stamford Doreen called the Kaiser facility there and got a disconnected phone message. She called Kaiser in California and was told that the Stamford Medical Center was closed.
She made arrangements to have the test done in Maryland. Now it was 1:00 PM and to early to camp at Walmart. So we took off and headed south. When we came near New York City the traffic slowed down.
Going through Bronx was very slow, different highways got together just before the George Washington bridge. We saw the same vehicles next to us for a long time. Doreen got nervous and took one of her anxiety pills.
As soon as we came out of the New York City and the Newark area it got better. We stopped at the next Rest Area and had lunch. Unfortunately we were surrounded by large trucks with their motor running.
We took off for the Timberlane Campground in Clarksboro, New Jersey. Clarksboro is 15 minutes from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
While on I-95 Doreen's pill kicked in and she really got relaxed and went asleep. After a while I noticed signs indicating Philadelphia. I woke up Doreen and asked her when we would have to get off and head over for I-295. She looked and looked and told me it would take a while longer. I finally stopped on the side of the Interstate and took a look at the map.
We had overshot one exit and went to the next one and headed over to I-295. There we had to go ten miles back to the RV park.
Today nothing worked as planned, we are here one day early because of that and I drove more miles than I wanted. The swimming pool got rid of all my stress and my being tired though. Thanks for swimming pools.
I finally was able to send and receive E mail today.
Today we took the Philadelphia Trolley sightseeing tour. We drove by car into the city, parked near the Independence National Historical Park, went to the visitor center and got prepared.
Our first stop on the trolley was the Liberty Bell, then we went and took the Independence Hall tour. We went to the rooms where it all happened, where people made decisions which affect us to this day. The guide was very good and kept it interesting. We got a big history lesson today, which is no big deal for people born in other countries, since we really had to study this for our citizenship test.
But being in those buildings made a difference. We saw the house of Betsy Ross, the grave of Ben Franklin and learned that he had 11 children with his wife and many more with other women. I always thought he was only interested in science and politics. The little fat man must have had something women liked.
We saw the steps where Rocky ran up and Penn's Landing. We also went to Carpenter Hall where the colonists met to discus the unfair tax situation and later on separation from England.
At the end of the tour we were hungry and had a Chinese late lunch. It paid to be early, we walked in the building where the bell is located, later when we came by there were long lines. It was the same with all the other attractions.
We left the RV park at 7:00 AM and thought we would get to Doreen's nieces house at 10:00 AM.
On the ring around Baltimore we suddenly had to stop. All four lanes came to a halt. A few minutes later four police cars came along the shoulder and then two rescue vehicles. Later ambulances and tow trucks passed us.
We turned on the CB and listened to the truckers. There was a three car collision seven cars ahead of us. We could see the flashing lights. Two stretchers were covered with white sheets.
The truckers on the other side were getting angry because their lanes were slowing down too. One trucker said that people cut themselves and faint when they see the blood and here they look and want to see bodies who are cut in three pieces.
We lost about an hour and we were so close to our exit, about half a mile. When we finally were able to move we saw two cars which did not look like cars anymore. The third car was damaged in the back.
I had a difficult time to figure out how something like that can happen when every body goes the same direction, There was no Intersection.
When we got to Doreen's niece's house there was nobody home, they thought we would come later.
So we went to Doreen's sisters house in Gaithersburg, Maryland, a few miles from Washington DC.
I had made a map on the computer and we found the street but we could not find the house. We went to the houses on both sides where Doreen's sister was supposed to live. Finally one neighbor asked whether we had a telephone number. We gave him the number and he dialed it, I talked with Doreen's brother in law and found out that we were 30 houses away. I had told Doreen that she had the wrong number but she said she always sends mail to this address. Later we found out that she not only had the wrong address she also had the wrong zip number, but the mail got their anyway, with a big stamp on it indicating the mistakes.
Since nobody corrected Doreen she kept on doing it.
This was not a happy moment for Doreen, her sister has Alzheimer and can not communicate anymore, she only looks at people. Doreen,s brother in law and nephew take good care of her.
Later we returned to Doreen's niece's house and there was a happy occasion. Paula had a baby girl a week ago and Doreen was able to deliver the first Teddy Bear she had made at the Vermont Teddy Bear factory. The baby is very tiny. Doreen held it for a while and then gave it to me to hold. Suddenly everybody had left the house and I was there with this very little person in my arms. I did not dare to put it down since I could not support his head while putting it down. Finally the babies sister came back into the house and took it from me.
The niece has a house with two acres so we are camping there.
I got up early and drove to the Metro station and took the train to the Mall in Washington. Doreen had been already in Washington and opted to stay with Paula and the baby. I got off at the Smithsonian National Museum and went to the Castle, the original Museum. Now there are about 17 of them.
Later I purchased a ticket for the sightseeing Tourmobile. When we came to the National Air and Space Museum I got off and went in. I could have stayed there for a few days, it is unbelievable what they have there.
Besides the Spirit of St.Louis there is a DC-3 and many other airplanes hanging from the ceiling.
In the next room was a V-1 buzz bomb not very far from the Tomahawk cruise missile. The V-1 is smaller than I thought but the V-2 is larger than I always thought
They have displays from WW-1 and WW-2 and a section of an aircraft carrier, it is a large mock up.
Of course many people spent a lot of time in the hall where all the space stuff is, like lunar landing vehicle, Hubbell space telescope and rockets and landing capsules.
I boarded the tourmobile again and went to the Washington Monument, from there I went to the Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Viet Nam Memorial, Korea Memorial, and White House and other sites.
Without Doreen I could cover a lot of ground. I had a fascinating day, a person needs a week though to see everything.
We arrived at Gettysburg National Park in Pennsylvania at 8:30 AM and went to the visitor center. It started to rain, which was appropriate for the occasion. One does not have a happy feeling at this somber place.
More Americans died in the Civil War than in all the other wars together. In the fields are many monuments, the Gettysburg battlefield contains the world largest collection of outdoor sculpture.
From Gettysburg we drove to York Springs, a small village 20 miles north of Gettysburg, and set up camp.
Then we went by car to Intercourse near Lancaster Pennsylvania. This is the center of the Amish Country. Horse and Buggy are their mode of transportation. They are not only on the country roads but also in the
towns. I love to see them in their clothing, most girls and boys do not wear shoes, but all have their head covered, the boys with straw hats and the girls a white cap which covers the back of their head.
Intercourse and Birds in Hand have many shops where they sell Amish Quilts and wood work, besides a lot of dust catchers. Doreen bought a wooden, fancy shelf unit for her bathroom. Pretty soon we have to buy a trailer to put behind the car, the car is filled up already.
I tried to talk to some young Amish people in German, they are very shy and talked only very little. They speak Pennsylvania Dutch at home and in church. This is a South German dialect from the 18th century, that is when the Amish came to America.
Tomorrow we will encounter highway robbers again. We have to use the Pennsylvania Turnpike on our way to Pittsburgh. This is a toll road. In Delaware they charged us $12.50 to cross the Delaware river, George Washington would have been very angry if they would have done that to him, I was not pleased.
Today was a driving day. We left late because Doreen had a problem all night.
We went back to Gettysburg and stopped at the battlefield and looked at some of the monuments. They come in all sizes and shapes. Some are made from stone and some are cast bronze. There are generals on horses, without horses and enlisted men holding their rifles. There are plain markers and fancy markers, it really is a sight.
We drove to Washington, Pennsylvania, south of Pittsburgh. We found a KOA with all the trimmings.
We set up camp and I checked my E mail. The lady was very nice and let me use her 800 credit card line.
We drove only 200 miles today, some of it on rural roads through the Blue Ridge Mountains of Pennsylvania and the Allegheny Mountains.
I went to the swimming pool. Doreen is better now. She slept a few hours this afternoon.
This was another driving day. I had planned to go by car into Pittsburgh to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Since Carnegie paid for the dinosaur excavation in Utah, this museum got the best pieces.
But we moved on and drove to Greenfield, Indiana, a few miles east of Indianapolis. Doreen wants to go home.
We gained back one of our lost hours and came to the RV park at 1:00 PM. I went swimming and then we did some house cleaning. The refrigerator got cleaned out and the carpet of the motorhome was vacuumed.
We drove to Hannibal, Missouri. Hannibal is where Mark Twain grew up. We went to his boyhood home, to the museum, Becky Thatcher's home and to the Mississippi river front. Without the heat and humidity this would have been enjoyable. But it was
hot and miserable.
We found a RV park on Mark Twain Lake. I took a dip in the pool and then took it easy.
Five years ago when I was here there was a big Mississippi River Cruise ship at the landing It was a beautiful sight.
Today I lost my navigator. Doreen did feel lousy again and wanted to go home. We went to Hermann, Missouri, set up camp at the city park and then went to St. Louis Lambert Airport.
Doreen got a 11:30 AM nonstop flight to San Diego. Hermann is a German city, it was settled in 1830 by Germans. I was here four years ago when I worked at McDonnell Douglas during July and August.
They are very proud of their heritage and celebrate Mai Fest and other old German Festivals.
When I was at the airport I looked over to the other side where the plant is and noted the giant Boeing sign, there is nothing left of McDonnell Douglas.
When I came back from the airport I went to the German School Museum in Hermann and looked around. It was interesting, in the 19th century they used the same children books as we used to read to Claudia.
Doreen got home safely, I called her last night.
I left Hermann at 4:00 AM and went south on Missouri highway 19, the scenic highway. It was still dark and I only saw deer on the side of the road, but I drove this highway five years ago and it goes through a very beautiful countryside.
I arrived at Branson, Missouri at 9:00 AM and found a site at Table Rock State Park. 30 years ago we came to this park. I had our sail boat on a trailer and we launched it with high hopes, but the high bluffs did not let get much wind on the lake. Claudia and I motored to the center of the lake and drew the cushions overboard and jumped in the lake and swam around the boat.
After a short rest I went into town and bought tickets for the Lawrence Welk Show. They feature the Lennon sisters and Henry Cuesta who was on the original show.
I also went to Walmart and to a grocery store to replenish dwindling supplies.
It got cloudy and cooled off a bit. At 7:00 PM I went to the Welk Resort and watched the videos they show on big screens before the show. The show started at
8:00 PM and was good.
This was a slow relaxing day. In the morning I went to town and bought tickets for the Shoji Tabuchi Show. Everybody around here is talking about the show. I also did laundry and then went to the scenic overlook to take a picture but my camera is on strike. I had bought new batteries a short time ago and everything was fine, now I bought more batteries but no success.
The show was fantastic. Since I was by myself they gave me a seat in the fifth row, I filled up a spot.
The same happened to me at the Lawrence Welk Show, they put me in the third row.
Anybody who comes to Brandon should see this show. Shoji is a fiddler but his wife built a big production around it. They use laser to their advantage.
The couple next to me came from Pahrump, Nevada. He was a grouchy guy, at the beginning he just was sitting there, not moving a muscle. After a few numbers he warmed up and during the intermission he told me that he liked the show. I had told him if the show is as spectacular as the Men's Room we have a winner.
Madonna Inn has to take a second place here. They have a big sign on the door" Please Gentlemen Only"
You enter fancy double doors to a fancy room with a billiard table. Then there is a fireplace and fancy chairs and fancy doors on the stalls. It is really beautiful and I wonder whether people in a setting like this feel like messing up the toilet bowls.
It was a beautiful day, 82 degrees F, but still humid. At 7:00 PM it started to rain heavy.
I would have liked to stay a few more days in Branson but I made arrangements to meet Jim & Karen Faulkner tomorrow at their home in Harrison, Arkansas and Noel Lacy at Ida, Arkansas. I will be staying in Ida tomorrow.
Then I will be thinking about going home. Since I am further South than I had planned I will go through Texas. I had come to Missouri to cheer up Doreen with visiting Hanibal and Branson.
I drove to Harrison, Arkansas, it took me 45 minutes. Jim Faulkner picked me up at the Walmart and took me to his beautiful home with six acres of land. He and Karen live in the country. Jim is busy with his toys. He has a Quanson hut loaded with lathes, drill presses, saws, a big boat, tractor, little tractors and a lot more. They have a 35 foot motorhome under a large building. The basement has two spare bedrooms and an office.
With all the trees on their property they will have fire wood for the rest of their lives. Jim said Hi to all you ex-cons out there.
I had planned to spend an hour with them, but I could not get away. Jim and I just kept on talking. Jim was a machine shop supervisor in building 1. Some of you Convair people might not know Jim, but you know Karen, she was in Time Keeping.
From Harrison I drove to Ida, a little town near Heber Springs. I took a little state highway and is was typical Ozark Mountain driving, up and down and curve after curve. I finally got to town and checked the house numbers. I thought I had passed their house and stopped at the little store with two gas pumps.
I told them I was looking for 4643 Heber Springs Road. The lady and the young man in the store told me to sit down and make myself comfortable, and the young man went to the phone. He came back and told me Noel is on his way to guide me to his home. I could not believe this was happening.
Only in a small town in Arkansas I believe this is possible.
Barbara had seen a motorhome go by earlier and had started to cook the corn. When I finally got there the corn was cold of course. She put out a spread of chicken, beef, mashed potatoes, two types of beans and of course okra, I almost forgot the corn bread. Thirty years ago they treated us with cat fish, hush puppies and a large salad.
Claudia was seven at the time and their Renea was younger.
After eating we went for a drive along the lake and to the dam. There are boats everywhere and people fishing.
When we got back we looked at pictures from our trip to Paris, to the south of France and the Costa Brava of Spain. I wish Rainer Mai could have been here today, it would have been even better. The three of us went in my beetle, loaded with our Army tent halves, food supplies and a spirit of adventure on vacation in 1962.
Noel spent Christmas 1962 with me in my parents house. I had bought a big turkey at the Army Commissary. This was the first turkey my family had, it was usually goose.
The motorhome we had put on his sisters property. Noel had planted trees to close to his driveway and he was worried that they would scratch the sides of the motorhome. They all have five or six acres around their houses. In the evening I showed them the motorhome and it started to rain. They wanted me to sleep in the house but I told them I have everything I need in the motorhome and besides I can leave early in the morning without bothering anybody. It normally rains for 30 minutes and then it is over.
Noel's sister and brother and other relatives had gone to Branson for a day. When they came home they got a surprise, a motorhome on their front lawn. They stopped and I got out and introduced myself. They asked right away whether they can do something for me, I told them that I was fine.
When Noel's brother in law told me to move the motorhome closer to the barn so he can give me some electricity I did not decline. After the rain it was very humid and the air conditioner improved the situation.
They always make fun of the people from the hills but there are no nicer people.
This was a super day.
I left Ida at 5:00 AM and I am heading for home now. No more going east, from now on it is straight west.
The first hour was a little tricky, in the dark and on narrow state roads. I had written down all the intersections and how to turn and it worked well. At Little Rock I got on I-40 and from now on it will be
easy, I could not get lost even if I tried to. When I got on I-40 it started to rain and that made the driving pleasant.
It rained and stayed cool until 11:00 AM. At 11:45 I had lunch in a rest area and decided to stay in Oklahoma City. I arrived there at 1:00 PM and went for a swim and then I played with my computer. I could not get my E mail though and tried to give the manager $2.00 for letting me use his telephone line but he declined.
I had picked up some literature at the Oklahoma Welcome Center and later when I went through it I realized I could have gone down town to the Memorial for the bombing victims and to the Bricktown Canal.
Since it is Sunday this would have been a perfect day for it, well there is always next time.
It rained off and on, not heavy, just enough to stay cool. I did not need the dash airconditioner. In Amarillo, Texas I stopped at the Texas welcome center and got a lot of literature and when I came to the New Mexico welcome center in Clovis I stopped there too and got new material. Since I was tired of driving any more I asked the welcome lady about a campground. She told me about the Oasis State Park and I went there.
There was nobody there and I could pick any site. Later, an older couple with a fifth wheel came. They went by truck to town and when they came back I went over and had a nice talk with the man. They had joined their daughter in law and the grand children in Wyoming and took them to Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone. They are from Southern Texas.
The Oasis State Park has a lake and covers over the picnic tables, it is very nice here.
This was the first night in a long time that I did not need the roof airconditioner.
I woke up with the rain making noises at the motorhome roof. It was 5:30 AM and by 6:15 AM I was on US 70 heading south- west. When I came through Roswell, New Mexico I watched for Martians. But every time I am there, no Martians or people from other worlds are to be seen. The locals swear that they exist and have visited Roswell. They have pictures to prove it at the Roswell Museum.
After Roswell I came through the Lincoln National Forest with the 12,000 foot Sierra Blanca peak. Ruidoso and San Patricio are beautiful tourist towns. I did not like to climb over the 8,000 foot pass though.
At 11:00 AM I arrived at White Sands National Monument and prepared my lunch at the parking lot.
After lunch I went into the Visitor Center and watched the movie about the park and its origin.
From there I came to Las Cruces which is still a big street construction site, but they made headway since last October.
I ended up in Deming. The RV park has a big covered swimming pool, the water was cool and refreshing.
Today I made it to Tucson, Arizona. I had late lunch at a beautiful little restaurant with Susanne, a friend from Chicago. I worked many years ago with her late husband.
I got home today. Actually I had planned to stay in Yuma, since it is half way to San Diego, but when I got there it did not appeal to me to stay there in this heat.
So I figured I stay in Lake Morena County Park. When I came down the mountain and had all that momentum I did not feel like slowing down and do it over again tomorrow. So I went up the other side. Besides my fuel tank was nearly empty and I knew I could make it to Alpine.
Now I am at home and have to look at the whole trip, go through my notes and see where I went wrong as far as planning is concerned. Of course I could not change the heat we had in the Midwest.
A lot of things went right though, we saw a lot and met many wonderful people.
Today I stopped at Dateland, Arizona and filled up the gas tank. They also sell dates and date shakes.
I love date shakes and bought one. They make them thick and give you a straw instead a spoon.
While driving I was enjoying the date milk shake. Suddenly the straw was plugged up.
I knew I was going to do the wrong thing, but I did it anyway. I tried to clear the straw by blowing in it.
Never do this, I mean never, especially when you wear glasses and you
drive a car. I looked at the mirror and just started laughing.
Now I have to go through almost two months of mail.
I hope you all enjoyed our trip, some of you told me already and some people I took of the list because I did not know how they felt about it.
I know we get enough Spam and I do not want to contribute to it.
I enjoy reading other peoples adventures and I always wait for Larry,s and Darlen's trip report from Germany.