Sunday, May 31, 2009


This is our last week in Missouri. We will have been slowly traveling south to north in the “Show Me State” for a month. This morning at 7 am the temperature was 50’f, but in just 30 minutes it has warmed up nearly 10 degrees and another beautiful Missouri day is on the way.

We drove to Branson last week and I forgot to mention it in last week’s blog. We did not go to any shows but walked around “old town” and enjoyed some free entertainment and perused the street fair that was going on that weekend. They were having some high water issues in the lakeside downtown RV park and I’ll show you a couple pictures we took. Overall it was a pleasant drive and wonderful way to spend a day exploring the countryside.

Last Sunday after writing the blog and having breakfast we drove to Jefferson City and cruised around Missouri’s capital city. We usually pick Sundays to visit the state capitals because unless something special is going on, we have the city to ourselves. Completed in 1917, this particular capital is a magnificent example of Roman renaissance style positioned high above the Missouri River. A classic bronze figure of Ceres, goddess of grain chosen to symbolize the state’s agricultural heritage sits atop the dome. Two former capital buildings on the same site have been destroyed by fire, one as a result of being hit by lightning.

It was a rainy day on Memorial Day when we drove to St. Louis and visited the famous Gateway Arch built on the banks of the Mississippi River. With all my other anxieties, it always amazes me that I am not afraid of heights. The four-minute ride up in one of the eight, five-seat pods in the tram at 240 ft per minute was cramped but fast and uneventful. However, the narrow room at the top crowded with about 80 people, all trying to get a peek out of the tiny windows on each side was a bit claustrophobic. Fortunately, the view out one side was clear but the panorama of the river view was foggy and less than spectacular. The arch is a tribute to Thomas Jefferson and the extremely well done Museum of Western Expansion in the visitor’s center at the base is exceptional. We did take issue with the lack of signage and directions for parking and finding our way to the arch. That could use some serious improvement but overall, it was an amazing experience.

While surfing the web, I came across a blog written by a campground owner. It was so well written and creatively filled with the writer’s own brand of dry humor, I really enjoyed it. When I realized that she was just down the road from where we were parked, the next day, we dropped in for a visit. I’m afraid we overstayed our welcome but it was so interesting to spend an hour or so looking at the world of RVers and campgrounds from the other side of the street as the ever-patient Kathy registered a nonstop stream of visitors and we observed the eccentricities and demands of the various customers. Check out her blog at:

Our next stop as we head north at Greentop, MO took us through the recent tornado damage that took place May 15th on the northern edge of Kirksville, MO. While we enjoyed fair weather doing genealogy research in the little town of Marshfield, MO and Phil went fishing that evening in the lake at our park in Mountain Grove—farther north, four tornados coming out of the west ripped through Adair County with a vengeance. The results were devastating and my pictures do not do it justice. We are very grateful that the weather seems to have settled down, for a while at least.

We discovered our refrigerator had died this past Thursday morning. Phil ran to Wal*Mart and bought a big cooler and some ice but we lost the contents of the freezer and most of the refrigerator. Had we discovered it sooner the loss might not have been so extreme but we saved as much as possible. The rest went to the dumpster. We have been sent to an Amish gentleman who repairs and recharges refrigerators (home and RV) and have an appointment to get the work done this coming Wednesday. We will let you know if his work is as good as endorsed by the local RV Service Center owner (who couldn’t help us for “AT LEAST TWO WEEKS”). We spent the remainder of the day exploring the rolling hills and cemeteries around Powersville (where Phil’s dad was born) and Unionville, MO

Yesterday we drove to and through Shelby (well documented in my family history), and five additional counties then dropped in on Nick and Terry Russell at the Mark Twain Lake COE park for a surprise visit. We last saw them at their rally in Casa Grande, AZ this past February. Nick and Terry publish the Gypsy Journal, a bi-monthly newspaper full of wonderful stories, travel highlights, copious amounts of information relating to the fulltime RV lifestyle as well as Terry’s recipe column full of tasty dishes. We have been subscribers for many years and also enjoy Nick’s daily blog at:

Until next time …

RVs in serious waterfront sites in Branson, MO.
One more foot and they will be needing boats to get outside the coach.

Jefferson City, MO
state capital building.

The famous Gateway Arch on a rainy day in St. Louis, MO.

St. Louis Busch Stadium from 630 ft above.

The old St. Louis courthouse from the top of the arch.

What are they odds?
At the top of the Arch, Phil turned around and there stood a former co-worker from Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Mitch with his grandson. Mitch was on vacation and we couldn't get over the chance meeting!

Joy and Kathy holding up the front counter in the office at Kan-Do Kampground off I-70 near Danville, MO.
We had a wonderful visit and promised to stay at her park next time through.

Miles and miles of trees ... ripped out by the roots, stripped of limbs and leaves and piled up like so many match sticks.
Check out the blue shed ... untouched???? Bizarre!

This is what happens to a mobile home in a tornado. Two of them, rolled and smashed to smithereens.

These folks are fortunate that they have a motohome to live in while they begin to pick up the pieces.

Imagine the power and the fury ... I hope they weren't home.

Amazing ...

Hundred of cars destroyed or badly damaged at the Toyota dealership.

Side view of the local Toyota dealership in Kirksville, MO.

Backside of the local Toyota dealership that was directly in the path.

A small example of the tons of debris pushed off the roads along the tornado's path. Kirksville's huge water tower design withstood the tornado's fury without a scratch.

Nick and Terry's campsite in Ray Behren's COE campground on Mark Twain Lake near Hannibal, MO.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Well, I will warn you that today’s blog is going to be less than exciting. No stormy weather to report, little sightseeing and mostly just eating (in and out) and sleeping—resting, reading, a bit of house (Penny the Pace) maintenance, doing laundry and computing. Just the same, normal, everyday stuff that most retired people who reside in one place do ... every day. The weather has been just about perfect since my last blog. The humidity numbers are on the higher side of comfortable but we dug out our portable dehumidifier from under the bed and put it to work and that really helps. This morning at 7 AM it was 70f, a bit overcast, no wind and just lovely outside.

Our fellow (mostly holiday) campers are out and about, drinking coffee, visiting, walking their dogs and admiring the resident duck population. This campground was iffy for us because it is very overgrown with many trees but we got lucky and found a hole in the canopy so our Datastorm could lock on to the proper satellite and luckily, we have Internet. It has been nice to be in some greenery for a change, which we usually avoid. We have shade and the fresh smell from the grass and the trees is wonderful.

And speaking of this campground (Jonesburg Garden Campground) we are paying twice as much as we usually do ($190) and they have assured us this is their best rate for a week. We questioned the amount and were told the taxes in this county are higher than others and that is their justification. It is an old KOA and just so you know, it is very run down. The location is great, with easy access on and off I-70 at exit 183 near Jonesburg, MO. The railroad is nearby (of course) but we have only heard a couple trains a day. They have a small fishing pond that Phil has not tried out but he says there are fish in it and a large group of ducks that stroll and strut around like they own the place. The sites are all pull thrus (if a bit narrow) with FHU and free WiFi. We have been lucky so far and had no neighbors on our passenger side. We don’t get too excited about an occasional higher priced park because when averaged with the really low priced parks we stay in—we will stay well within our yearly budget.

Mmmmmmm, I smell bacon! Does anything smell better when cooked outside? I wonder if we could wrangle a breakfast invitation …

Until next time...

Our beautiful Penny the Pace happily parked in Jonesburg, Missouri.

Just one of the beautiful roadside attractions on a Missouri backroad.

We followed the Lewis and Clark trail east on state hiway 100 along the Missouri River from Linn to Rhineland. On the map it looked like we might be able to see the water but that never happened until we reached the bridge over to McKittrick.

Just one of the reasons I love driving the back roads. Sure beats sharing the road with 18 wheelers, right?

Huge billboards on both sides of I-70 near Jonesburg, MO. They are close to the road and obviously NOT on private property.
Personally, they do not offend me in the short run but I am curious about why the beautiful state of Missouri does not seem to worry about this stretch of "blight" on their landscape.

Phil feeding some of the ducks with our stale bread. There are dozens of them in the park, all sizes and colors.

Mama duck on her nest in the Iris bed. She looks worn out and pretty ruffled but seems to be serious about her duty. I wish we could be here when they hatch.

Duck eggs cuddled in a nest at our site. I thought about stealing one and raising it as a pet but I couldn't figure out how to put a diaper on the little rascal.

Purple Martin condos abound in farm country. These birds live in colonies and return to their human provided nests year after year. They return the favor for room and board by consuming a multitude of insects (they also provide entertainment by feeding in flight) in the area around their nests. You could say it is a "win-win" situation ;)

47 and counting! If all goes well, we will add Iowa in less than two weeks and the lower 48 map will be complete. We have visited many states several times ... not bad for less than five years on the road!

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Good morning sunshine! It is only 50’f but it is wonderful to see the sun after a mostly cloudy four days. We lived through another thunder and lightning storm that was very close overhead and the pump house for the RV park was struck. Not enough damage that we lost our water but some repair work was in order the next day. The weather people have promised good weather for the next week in our neck of the woods, here in Mountain Grove and where we will be next week, a tiny town called Jonesburg. We are ready for some blue skies! I must say again how much beauty there is to see in the state of Missouri. It is a great place to visit but I definitely couldn’t live here with such violent weather every year. We talked to some fellow tourists who live in MO yesterday. I asked them why they continue to live here with all the wind, tornadoes, lightning and flooding. Their answer: “It is so pretty, it is home and Mom lives here.” Okay ~~ ?

Our days have been filled with driving the beautiful back (we call them the alphabet roads—A, B, X, Y, etc.) roads to and from Marshfield, MO where I have been doing some genealogy research. You can see from the map that we have traveled just about every one in between the two towns. Each road is so different (pastoral, undulating hills and hollers, big and small farms, tiny hamlets and forests) and there is a surprise around every turn. I have a great, great grandmother and a great uncle buried in a small cemetery on the edge of that town. Sadly, their graves are not marked and the Historical Society does not have any records of who is buried where except for the deceased with headstones. Still, it is good to find them and record their final resting place for future generations. In our travels we have passed dozens of tiny cemeteries along side the roads. We are pleased to see that today, most seem to be well taken care of but sadly, their record keeping 100 years and more ago obviously fell through the cracks. The Research Center in Marshfield has been very helpful.

Plenty of pictures this week. Hope you enjoy them and please leave your comments! I love to hear from you.

Until next time …

Joy's great, great grandmother before 1911.

Hester M. (no middle name so she used her maiden name-Monroe- initial for her middle initial) Alger.

Born: 3 July 1831 in Ruggles, Huron County, Ohio

Died: 3 April 1916 in Marshfield, Webster County, Missouri

The yellow highlighter marks our travels in The Red Ranger in Missouri over the past few days.

A barnyard full of buggies.

Who knew?

It is a lot smaller than I imagined.

Phil waving at the astronauts in space who are working on the real thing!

Absolutely beautiful! Imagine how it looks when the sun shines ... ;-)

If I moved to MO, this would be my first stop ... even before I unloaded the moving van!

All sizes and shapes.

Let's see now ... Phil, do you think we could find a way to attach this somewhere on Penny the Pace?

Patchwork repair on one of the MO alphabet roads.

Some of our travels have followed the "Mother Road."

Around one corner we came upon four new mom's and their adorable offspring!

Wonderful photo op!

This mom and her very new foal were very curious. I am going to start carrying carrots (or something!) in the car.

I got my critter fix and found a new rug. Fun on a Saturday morning.

My favorite critters! Sweet baby Alpacas ... too cute!

OMG!!! How could you not love this face!

check out the blue eyes ...

Baby goats. Adorable!

Sweet little sheep.