Sunday, June 28, 2009


After a rain shower or two and a couple rumbles of thunder last night, there is a beautiful clear blue sky this morning and the temperature at 7 am was 68’f, however it is windy. The man next door left their RV awning down night before last and hasn’t returned. This morning when I got up, there is about an 18-inch tear in one corner and the wind is still blowing. No doubt when he gets up Phil will put the guys awning up as a “good neighbor” gesture. (note: Phil says it is an old tear but put the awning up anyway). We had tape on our old awning for three years before we replaced it after getting caught in a sudden and violent windstorm (we thought maybe the tail of a tornado) with the awning down in North Dakota in 2005.

Our drive from Dodgeville this past Wednesday was uneventful, just the way we like them. The Wisconsin countryside did not disappoint and I took many pictures. The verdant landscape dotted with farms complete with barns and silos is breathtaking in the fact that is goes on and on and on! There are more small evergreen trees (mostly pine) as we travel north but deciduous trees continue to be the norm. Last week I mentioned the lack of orchards but we found several while taking a daytrip north in Door County—mostly apple trees. Many vineyards and wineries are evident as well. Sturgeon Bay was a bit of a disappointment after reading all the hype. The town is torn up with major street and bridge construction and even with the help of the visitor’s center we found it difficult to find a (non-smoking) place to eat and finally after checking out several options ended up at a familiar Applebee’s with a nice location on the bay. I had hoped for a great local seafood place … but that didn’t happen.

Margie and Roger, our friends in Gallatin, TN where we stayed two weeks in April and May have purchased their motorhome; a like-new, 40 ft., 2007 Phaeton QDH with four slides built by Tiffin. It is a beauty and they are thrilled to have it parked in the driveway at long last. Now when the house sells, they will be ready to start the next phase of their lives together in “Phaez2”, the moniker they have given their new home. Margie has faithfully blogged (her blog is linked on my sidebar) every hill and valley over time in the journey towards a new fulltime RV lifestyle and you can check it out here.
Until next time,

Well, we took a picture of Phil putting our 48th state (Iowa) on to complete our state's traveled map but I've lost it! This one will have to do :) Wahoo! We did it!

Our first look at Lake Michigan.
After seeing it from the eastern shore in 2005, we knew what to expect but the ocean like expanse is still awesome.
The only thing missing is the surf which I have read comes up on occasion (like during bad weather).

We think this is a Sandpiper. A nesting pair has four eggs smack in the middle of the neighbors walkway to their 5th wheel. Whatever it is, it is an incredibly dumb bird ... out in the open without shelter of any kind, under the feet of humans and at the mercy of preditors. We saw them nesting in Arkansas back in April. Obviously, the breeding season is much later here in Wisconsin.

A view of Green Bay in Wisconsin from the eastern shore along "the thumb" traveling south on WI state highway 57.
Lots of BIG water in this state but if you look real close, you can see the opposite shore. This is different than looking out across Lake Michigan as you can imagine.

Peek-a-boo view of barn art in Door County, WI.
A google search using "quilt barn art" will bring up much history of this fascinating nationwide project.


For more information:

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Please don't think I'm looking for sympathy but the fact is I didn’t have a dad. Of course, there was a sperm donor and a stepfather and male friends of my mother but my “father” became the myth that I chased from the age of about five. He didn’t die; my parents divorced when he returned after three years in the Army and a year in the south pacific when WWII ended and he just went on with his life, which didn’t include me. It took many years of self-examination before I realized most of my issues regarding my relationships and marriages stemmed from the lack of his presence in my life.

If you are a dad, I hope you are generous with yourself for your children’s sake. If your father is still alive, (mine died in 1968) and in your life, let him know you appreciate him. If your father has checked out of your world, remember it is truly his loss and go on to do great things, whatever they might be!

It seems like every week I complain about the weather but honestly, so far, it has been really terrible—most of the time. On the rare clear day, we have reveled in the blue skies and fluffy white clouds and taken the Lone Ranger out and gone exploring. The countryside in WI is spectacular and their license plates claim to be America’s Dairyland. That is certainly possible since we have not seen so many dairy farms and giant milk trucks on the back roads of any other state. One day we had a near miss on a back road when a fawn jumped across the road in front of us and have stopped to take pictures of pastures full of adorable baby horses, new to the world. On one afternoon a couple days ago we stumbled across a wagon train stopped in a small town park for lunch. The lady we talked to said the group gets together every year and travels the back roads together. Only in the Midwest and the east can you travel a dozen different roads to arrive at the same location thus avoiding the freeways. I do love that! One interesting feature of the countryside I have noticed is the lack of orchards. Pastures, hay, corn, soybeans and alfalfa but no fruit trees. Interesting. Oh yeah, strawberries are coming into the roadside stands. Yummy!

I had a very scary night this past Thursday. Thankfully, Phil is calm and collected during these storms and I am so grateful for his concern regarding my safety and peace of mind. It was the second stormy night in a row but this time, tornado warnings and the park owner encouraged all of the campers to take shelter in an old rock house on the property. By midnight the storm cells had passed for the most part and we all returned to our rigs. Phil was mostly awake the rest of the night listening to the weather radio (thanks again Walt) so that I could go to bed. Our power was knocked out by trees that fell over the wires down the road and our neighbor in a travel trailer told us the next day that the wind had moved the tongue of his trailer three inches. That must have been a serious wind gust. Inside the thick walls of the rock house, we couldn’t hear a thing and thankfully, when we got home, Penny the Pace was none the worse for wear.
Again, I thank you for reading my blog and leaving your comments or sending me e-mails. As I have said so many times before (but it is still true) we really enjoy hearing from you!
Until next time,

Crossing the Mississippi into Wisconsin.

Our beautiful Penny the Pace hooked back up and ready to head down the road.
We made a quick (2 hrs) stop at HWH, the hydraulic experts in Moscow, IA on our way to Dodgeville, WI.
They did the repair (cracked reservoir) and had us on our way in no time.

This is our view from our hilltop campsite at Tom's Campground in Dodgeville, WI.
They offer a nice discount for Escapees.

We stopped to photograph a pasture full of newly born colts. There was four or five little cuties.

Wagon teamsters in Blanchardville, WI.

Wisconsin state capital building in Madison. This is the third capital building for the state, built between 1906 and 1917 at a cost of 7.25 million. Very impressive building and beautiful inside.

New born baby goats at a small zoo beside a roadside produce stand. They were so new, the umbilical cord was still attached. Adorable! There was also a llama, and emu, domestic poultry of all kinds and dozens more goats.

Our tornado shelter last Thursday night. This rock house is primitive but has walls more than a foot thick and is tucked into a hollow protected from the wind. Fortunately, it was not tested! People actually rent it for a weekend in the woods. The potty is down the hill and the drinking water comes from gallon jugs but there is a fireplace and a bed.

We visited the famous Mustard Museum in Mt. Horeb, WI. We learned that they are moving to Middleton, WI in December and this little town will surely suffer as a result as it has been a tourist draw for many years. The saleslady here and down the street at the used book store blamed the greed of landlords as part of the cause.

All you parents out there ... you have been warned :)

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Here is the reason for the above title along with the latest on our refrigerator repair. Just as we were planning to move north into Wisconsin, we developed a leak in the newly installed renovated cooling unit. Phil called Mark, the frig repairman in Drakesville and he said bring it in immediately. We turned south (fortunately we were only 90 miles away) and drove back to Mark’s Amish farm where his shop is located. He had us repaired and we were back on the road in less than two hours. This time, we decided to stick around for a week so we drove to Lakeside RV Park near Bloomfield to wait it out. Once we were set up, we began noticing serious hail damage on the mobiles that are permanent residents in this park. In town, the destruction was everywhere on the buildings facing west including the beautiful old courthouse. As it turned out, had we stayed here last week after the first repair we would have been subjected to a horrendous hail storm (some as big as grapefruit) and most likely sustained some severe damage. I’ll put a few pictures of destruction that covered several miles west to east below. Our decision to move north on June 3rd saved our Penny the Pace and we are very grateful!
While we were in Kellogg, we drove to Kalona, IA and took a guided tour of the Kalona Historical Village. What a delight that turned out to be! Our tour director was on her last tour of the day and locking up behind us so we felt a bit rushed but I still managed to get quite a few pictures and I'll share just a few. If you are ever in this part of the country, it is well worth a stop.

Several years ago I gave up my much-loved diet soda and started drinking caffeine free soda. Then, I changed to carbonated, flavored water. Then, I gave that up for Crystal Lite added to bottled water. A month or so ago I started drinking diet cola again and as usual, with my addictive personality it went from one—once in a awhile to a daily mega drink! All the while, I continued to drink my coffee every morning. Well, guess what? Very quickly, I have had consequences (heart palpitations and chest pain) that I remember well from 20 years ago when they caused me to give up caffeine completely for a long time. So, I’m back on the wagon and down to one cup of coffee in the morning even contemplating herbal tea as an alternative. I am definitely super suceptable to the affects of caffeine on the body.

When we leave here (so far so good for the recent warranty re-repair on the fridge) we are taking Penny the Pace to the HWH factory in Moscow, Iowa to have her hydraulic jacks checked and repaired. We have had a small leak for years and since we are this close, decided to make an appointment. It wasn’t on the agenda but luckily, Phil and I both remembered where the factory is located about the same time and it is only approximately 100 miles. Where do we go from there? We really haven’t decided yet but it will be somewhere in Wisconsin. Hopefully, we will find some good weather!

Speaking of the weather, the blue skies of Iowa have been few and far between. The cloudy, overcast days we have endured have been reminiscent of our former home state of Washington except that it is warm. The website, The National Weather Service Enhanced Radar Image has been our constant companion … we both check it a couple times a day here in “Tornado Alley”. Summer is only a week away but so far there is no sign of it here in the heartland. The corn that didn’t get trampled by the hail is growing (almost a foot since we arrived) and the soybeans are up and going strong. I suppose the cloud cover is a blessing to the locals and they are happy that the summer heat hasn’t arrived yet as the temperature is staying in the 70s and low 80s.

I want to thank all my readers from the bottom of my heart and tell you how much I appreciate your following along with our adventure. Your comments keep me coming back to the computer each week even when I feel I don’t have much to say. Many of you have commented that you like all the pictures so as long as Blogger cooperates, I’ll continue to post as many as possible. Be sure to sign up as a follower even if you do not have a blog of your own so I know you are checking in on us. Phil and I really enjoy seeing a new reader listing.
Until next time,

This sunset was seen from our Kellogg, IA RV Park. Phil ran outside and got this shot.

How sweet the sound must have been!
We've come a long, long way ...

Look at all this Vaseline glass! Just spectacular1

A cabinet full of Brush McCoy Pottery. Eye candy for collectors that is for sure!

An impressive padlock collection!

An exquisite Hoosier/baker's cabinet.

Oh ... I remember it well!

Recognize the ticket agent in the railroad depot?

Simple "do it yourself" instructions. Believe it or not, I worked in a restaurant in the late 1950s that made its own soap. I had to learn how to do it to work there.

And, here is the pot for making the soap.

A windmill with "hurricane" blades that fold into the wind. I wonder if that really worked when the tornado came through?

Now this is a hanging basket! Just beautiful!

Gorgeously intricate antique wicker chair.

Because she needed a reweld (a factory weld failed, not one of Mark's) Penny's refrigerator had to come out into the shop. Now, that was a tight fit through the door but Phil and Mark squeezed it through with room to spare!

West facing exterior of the mobile home across from us in the RV Park. None escaped damage, some receiving more than others.
The vinyl siding cracked and shattered but the wood and metal siding only dented. Everyone had broken windows and skylites so my first thought was "shutters" if I lived here ... but who listens to me?

West facing damage on the Davis County Courthouse in the town square of Bloomfield, IA. Built in 1877 it is a beautifully ornate structure and other than broken windows, sustained little damage.

More boarded up windows on this historic building. We were surprised that although the clock tower took some hits, the clock is still working! (must be a Timex :)

Buggys and two-wheel carts of all sizes and shapes are everywhere on the roads in Iowa. Most Amish wear dark colors so this family is a surprisingly colorful group.

We stopped at an Amish "Bake Sale" beside the road and bought these goodies. A blackberry pie (still warm from the oven), oatmeal raisin cookies, two hot house tomatoes and a "marble towel holder" as a souvenier of our time in IA Amish country. The food is delicious and the towel holder is very clever!

Taking pictures of the Amish is a covert operation so it is difficult to get up close.
Here are two teams of beautiful Belgium work horses that crossed our path along IA hiway 2.

Magestic old Chestnut tree in glorious bloom along the main street in the tiny town of Blakesburg, Iowa.

Sunday, June 07, 2009


Well, we have had an interesting week, so what else is new? We have burned up the road visiting family, doing genealogy research and seeing the sights of Missouri and Iowa and I have to tell you I love these two states. The freeways and secondary roads in Missouri are smooth and well marked but unfortunately, I can’t say the same for Iowa where signage is sparse, the back roads are rough and even the interstates need work. We have also decided that Iowans have learned to drive on long straight roads, as they are all speed demons. Our slow pace has drawn a few honks and dirty looks.

We do so love the green rolling hills; acres upon acres of dark rich soil planted with corn and soybeans complete with personal ponds (or watering holes I guess you would say); sleek horses and fat cattle grazing in grass up to their bellies. Did I mention the peaceful, well-groomed old farmhouses surrounded with gorgeous flowerbeds and the barns in a variety of conditions that are a feast for the eyes. I couldn’t help but feel what I tagged “Silo Envy” from one farm to the next. The small farmer with only one silo must surely envy his neighbor who has three or four tall shiny new silos, right? Maybe it is just me! How can we ever tire of visiting small towns, most with a glorious town square, many with a magnificent and picture-perfect courthouse smack in the middle? I will never understand why the easterners gave up that concept of the town square when they moved west. It just makes the town so welcoming, not to mention practical for the local merchants.

However, that said, for the most part, the weather sucks. Cold, wet and snowy in the winter, hot and humid in the summer and tornados, hail, thunder and lightning in the spring. I don’t know about fall … maybe that is the time to visit. But, if you can overlook that part of the equation—this is truly a beautiful part of our big wide wonderful country to live in and explore. I am so pleased to have finally traveled my way to these states and if I am struck by lightning or sucked up into a tornado before we get out of here … well, just remember I was doing what made me enormously happy at the time! We have been lucky; only enduring a few rainy, thunder and lightning storms with a bit of tiny hail. But like they say, “It ain’t over ‘til the fat lady sings.”

After I finished the blog last Sunday, we drove south to LaPlata, MO to visit with my cousin, Bill, his wife Jackie and their daughter, Delma. It was a very pleasant afternoon and after several hours of catching up, they drove us to a very nice, local eatery in their town. We finished our visit with a meal and more great conversation. It was so good to see them and learn all is well in their branch of the family as it has been 12 years since our family got together at the reunion in Lake Tahoe, NV.

I told you I would report on our refrigerator repair … so far, so good. Mark Bontrager (he is Amish) of Fox River Fridges, four miles west of Drakesville, IA did a great job rebuilding a cooling unit for our model and when we arrived this past Wednesday he was ready for us and two hours later we were put back together and working like a new unit. The repair cost us $661.00 total as compared to our first quote of $900 plus labor OR $1,700 for a new refrigerator. Needless to say, we were very pleased and continue to be as our unit keeps on cooling as promised.

Never let it be said that we can go a week or so without a hitch in our git-a-long. Since the trip to Fox River Fridges was only 40 miles I drove the truck rather than hooking up as we usually do before we pull out. Consequently, I failed to do a last minute walk-around and add a second set of eyes to pulling out so when Phil started to drive our Penny the Pace out of her spot, a scraping noise stopped him in his tracks. Of course, because I didn’t check on them, for whatever reason, our electric steps had failed to retract and gotten snagged by the cement sidewalk around our site. Phil stopped immediately and with sheer muscle and a little help from Penny he straightened them enough to get them to fold up but they need a bit more TLC in order to be useable again. Poor Phil … this is the second set of stairs to be damaged but like I always say: “If money can fix it, it is not a problem!” Terminal cancer, life-threatening illness or a death in the family is a problem. Anything that can be fixed is only an inconvenience!

Lots of pictures again this week! If Blogger was faster there would be more but it takes me so long to load them, I’d be here until Monday if I showed them all!

Until next time …

Oh no! Is he stuck in the pond?

We whistled and called and he started to move!

Nope, just getting cooled off in the pond!

On a day trip into Illinois across the Mississippi we came upon this delightful way to get back across the river.
We had the ferry to ourselves and it was at most a five minute ride.
Only $5.00 for the Red Ranger and the two of us.

Here comes our ride across the Mississippi River back to Canton, Missouri.

Phil enjoying the river breezes at the front of the ferry.

Joy with her cousin, Bill and his wife Jackie in LaPlata, MO.

Mark's wife dressing fresh killed chickens. She cleaned ten chickens in less than an hour! She told me she usually butchers 20 or so a year and her oldest boy is the executioner. He was very good at dispatching the hens by breaking their necks.

New (refurbished) cooling unit being installed on our refrigerator.