top of page

Search Results

207 items found for ""

  • A Journey to the Garden of the Gods

    From Seven Falls we segue to Garden of the Gods the next day. Segue is a verb that means "to move without stopping from one topic, song, etc., to another." On Tuesday, May 21 we ventured south from Peregrine Pines FamCamp to go on a 90 minute tour of this very special park on SEGWAYS. For those who are unframiliar with what IS a Segway, it is a two-wheeled, self-balancing personal transporter device invented by Dean Kamen. It is a registered trademark of Segway Inc. It was brought to market in 2001 as the Segway HT, and then subsequently as the Segway PT. HT is an initialism for "human transporter" and PT for "personal transporter." Segways are available at the Garden of the Gods Visitors Center along with electric bikes to rent. We have never tried this mode of transportation before and were excited to try it out here at this location. Our tour began at 10 AM in the tunnel below the parking lot. Our guide and instructor named "Goose", spent about 15 minutes introducing the seven of us to our equipment for the rides including familiarizing us with getting on/off , the do's and don'ts of driving the contraption. After we all the signed the waviers, we cautiously took off on this new mode of transportation and began another new adventure. The Garden of the Gods is a 1,341.3 acre public city park located in Colorado Springs, Colorado and 862 acres of the park was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1971. The area now known as Garden of the Gods was first called Red Rock Corral by the Europeans. Then, in August 1859, two surveyors who helped to set up Colorado City explored the site. One of the surveyors, Melancthon S. Beach suggested it would be a "capital place for a beer garden". His companion, the young Rufus Cable, awestruck by the impressive rock formations, exclaimed, "Beer Garden! Why, it is a fit place for the Gods to assemble. We will call it the Garden of the Gods." Unobscured views and a mellow pace made our visit to this beautiful park memorable. Goose pointed out exotic plant life, local animal life, and of course, numerous spectacular geologic formations and the unique caricatures hidden within them. We made several short stops to admire the sights, while staying on the Segways for most of the tour. We viewed the wonders of the South and North Gateway Rocks, Kissing Camels, Three Graces, Sleeping Giant, Park Overlook, and Praying Hands. Following our Segway tour we headed for Manitou Springs and along the way stopped at the "Balanced Rock", a 35-foot, 1.4-million-pound red rock free to visit, photograph, and appreciate. Located near the southern entrance of the Garden of the Gods, Balanced Rock is an enormous, roadside sandstone boulder, which is frankly a natural piece of art. After the Balanced Rock we proceeded to Manitou Springs for lunch and a walk around this unique town. Long before European explorers discovered Pikes Peak, the American Indians had been stopping to drink the sacred bubbling mineral spring water of the area. The name Manitou comes from the Algonquian word meaning “great spirits.” After lunch we explored some of this historic downtown while looking for one of the eight naturally-effervescent cold-water mineral springs. Water flows 24 hours a day, seven days a week for all to enjoy. Karen found one of the spring features and sampled some of the water that has made the town famous. From Manitou Springs we stopped by Glen Eyrie, an English Tudor-style castle built in 1871 by General William Jackson Palmer, the founder of Colorado Springs. Founded in 1871, Glen Eyrie was the home of William Jackson Palmer. Palmer was a Brigadier General in the Union Army during the Civil War, president of The Denver and Rio Grande Railroad, and founder of Colorado Springs. Palmer and his wife Mary “Queen” Mellen made Glen Eyrie their home. The castle is owned today by The Navigators, a worldwide Christian para-church organization based in the city. This completed our last full day of sightseeing in Colorado Springs before checking out on Wednesday. Next stop in our travels would take us north to Standley Lake Regional Park, a 3,000-acre park located in unincorporated Jefferson County and and about 15 miles from our son's home in Thornton, Colorado.

  • The Broadmoor Seven Falls

    Located in a beautiful box canyon, the Broadmoor Seven Falls in Colorado Springs is a series of seven cascading waterfalls, with a total height of 180 feet. Often referred to as “The Grandest Mile of Scenery in Colorado”, Seven Falls in Colorado Springs is the only waterfall in Colorado to make National Geographic's list of international waterfalls. Visitors can view the scenic wonder of Seven Falls from either the top of the 224 step staircase or from the Eagle’s Nest viewing platform, which can be accessed via elevator. In the evenings, the falls are beautifully illuminated by colorful lighting. WHAT IS THE HISTORY BEHIND THE BROADMOOR SEVEN FALLS? The history of Seven Falls in Colorado dates back to 1872, when a man named Nathaniel Colby inhabited the 160 acres that included the present-day Seven Falls and South Cheyenne Canyon. He sold the land to the Colorado Springs Land Company for $1,000. In 1882 James Hull purchased the property for $1,300. Mr. Hull was an environmentalist who was disturbed to find the scenic splendor of the canyon being threatened by people chopping down the surrounding forest for its lumber. Hull was also a businessman and he understood the value of the property as a scenic destination and began to improve it by constructing a road through the canyon to the Seven Falls in Colorado Springs and building a stairway along the side of the Falls. He installed a toll gate at the foot of the canyon and proceeded to do business. Back then, a local entrepreneur paid Hull $500 for the privilege of taking passengers by carriages, burros and horses to the Falls for 25 cents each. Business flourished and Seven Falls in Colorado Springs became a prominent attraction. On Monday morning, May 20 we drove to the Norris Penrose Event Center, where a complimentary shuttle service transports guests to the Seven Falls park entrance. Parking and shuttle transportation are complimentary. The shuttle parking lot is located about 4 miles from the park entrance. The fee to visit Seven Falls was $17 per person for "seniors". After paying our entrance fee we hiked up the paved road along the river past the "Pillars of Hercules" up to the base of the falls. Stairs are available for the heartiest of visitors, but we used the elevator to save our legs for the remainer of the hike. We peeked into the restaurant and decided to save the money for a lunch in Colorado City. Karen's hip replacement handled the hike, no sweat! It is literally hard to believe that earlier in February she had the hip surgery in Jacksonville, Florida. In total we both hiked 3.11 miles during the visit to the falls and would recommend it to anyone who is visiting Colorado Springs, Colorado. Later that evening we had dinner with a friend from California who moved to the area a few years earlier. We've kept in contact with Kim Robinson and were excited to catch-up on her life in Colorado. We had a great visit and meal out at a local Mexican restaurant. We wished we could have met her fiance Dave but he had a previous commitment he couldn't break. They are getting married in September this year in Minnesota and she can hardly wait. Congratulations to Dave and Kim! We hope there's some RV camping in their future with us next year.

  • Our 45th State Visited

    Our stay at the Wahlmeier Farms Vineyard in Kansas on Friday night, May 17th, completed the 45th state since beginning our travel adventures back in May 2022. Karen and I find it hard to believe we've been on the road for a little over two years! We are still totally enjoying the "nomad lifestyle" glamping along the way as we explore our beautiful nation and it's wonderful people. With our goal of visiting all 50 states, only five states remain to visit with our rig called Trinity: North Dakota, Utah, Nevada, Alaska and Hawaii. And we all know that we won't make Hawaii in the RV. While we were visiting the Wahlmeier Farm Vineyard we tasted a flight of five different local wines and enjoyed some local cheese and crackers. The owner, Cary was our host and poured us some of the establishment's dry and sweet wines. We wrapped up our tasting with a purchase of two bottles of their wine and some Blueberry jam. The experience and the evening was complete with a glorious Kansas sunset as seen from the property. After a quiet night on a Kansas farm, we departed at 10 AM Saturday morning to drive to our next Harvest Host overnight stay at the Prairie Ridge Buffalo Ranch in Limon, Colorado. As we traveled this morning I thought the conditions were ideal for Karen to take the wheel and get used to driving the truck and RV together. After some gentle coaxing she agreed to give it a go.. This would be big! It's the first time for Karen to drive the truck/trailer combo ever! She was apprehensive but ultimately did a great job driving the rural back roads and county highways of Kansas. Traffic was relatively light but she still had to deal with cars passing us on a two lane road. We stopped for lunch and we traded the driving duties before we got on Interstate 70. It wasn't long before "we weren't in Kansas anymore, Toto". Prairie Ridge Buffalo Ranch was started by Ray and Debbie Thieman in 1999 as a small hobby ranch. The ranch grew and developed into a sustainable buffalo ranch with nearly 800 buffalo of various ages. Since then they have involved their daughter and son-in-law as well as all 12 of their grandchildren to achieve their goal of having a truly multi-generation ranching operation. They have developed an outstanding breeding program that provides for a consistently improving herd through selection and purchase of superior bulls. When we arrived at our overnight destination, Ray, our host was at a local baseball game, but he told us during our check-in call to make ourselves at home. There we met another Harvest Host guest couple who arrived about thirty minutes prior to us. James and Kathleen Horniman are from Bend, Oregon and we hung out together during the late afternoon before dinner. As Karen was preparing some pasta for our evening meal, Ray stopped by to get aquainted and ask if we would like to come to their store during the evening or the next morning. We opted for 9 AM the next morning before our planned departure. We purchased some incredible looking bison meat, including two of the following; New York steaks, a Canadian steak cut called "Bavette", Top Sirloin steaks and a Chuck Roast. We had a great visit with James and Kathleen while we enjoyed the Prairie Ridge Buffalo Ranch. A definite do-over in my book and a great place to bring family for a future tour and cook out. Our drive to Colorado Springs took less than two hours and we arrived at the FamCamp at the Air Force Academy right around 12:30 PM. Got checked-in and assigned a beautiful spot in a drive-through site surrounded by Ponderosa Pines. After disconnecting the truck from the rig we set-up for our three day stay. Dinner that night was New York Bison steaks on the gas grill, with roasted potatoes and grilled zucchini. Located just north of Colorado Springs, at the base of the Front Range, the United States Air Force Academy campus sits on 18,500 acres of breathtaking mountain panoramas. The youngest of five military service academies, it boasts stunning mid-century modern architecture, state-of-the-art Division I athletic facilities, and unparalleled academic research centers. Here 4,000 exceptional young men and women from across the United States become future leaders in service to our nation. The cadets are particularly fond of their Academy ‘altimeter check’: “Sir/ma'am, my altitude is 7,250’ above sea level, far, far above that of West Point or Annapolis.” In fact, their terrain can go as high as 9,000 feet in elevation at the Farish Recreation Area. Basic cadets spend several weeks acclimating to this altitude during the first part of Basic Cadet Training. This was our first time in Colorado Springs, Colorado and we are looking forward to seeing many of the regional sights at the foot of Pike's Peak.

  • Camp Project Completed

    Week three wraps up our Timberlake Ranch Camp project commitment. We worked on painting one of the lake front cabins then moved to one of the staff homes to prepare it for occupancy next week. The men installed LED ceiling lights in the basement living area, attached a stair rail and carpeted one of the bedrooms. The women painted exterior doors on 3 cabins and another 3 exterior doors on the Front Street building. We had a great team; we so enjoyed working together as well as having fun during our down-time. We marvel at how quickly our hearts are knit together with each RVICS team! In anticipation of our departure from Nebraska, I scheduled an appointment at the Grand Island Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM dealership to have the truck's oil and filter changed. While there, they rotated the tires and checked an engine trouble light we were getting on the dash. During the service, they also did an overall examination of the brakes and found that we still have about 50% of our brake pads. I'm thinking about getting the brqkes and tires replaced before we travel to Alaska. The jury is still out on that one. Wednesday morning started with a little excitment. Christina, our newest RVICS team member injured her right hand and needed some first aid. I got to use my medical kit from the truck to bandage her up. Steve and Karen drove her to the local ER. She had a 4 cm gash on the heel of her hand that required 9 stitches to close up. Fortunately she is feeling much better and is on the mend. That evening we were treated to a "thank you" dinner put on by the camp staff at one of their homes off campus in Central City. We gathered at 5:30 PM with the other volunteer team from SOWERS and enjoyed a Mexican themed buffet. We sat around with the staff and shared stories about everything from our spiritual journeys to life as an RV nomad. With Thursday afternoon free, Karen and I started prepping for our departure on Friday morning. We drove into Central City to top-off the diesel fuel and get more DEF, picked up more cash from the ATM and stopped for the last time at the local Dairy Queen, of course. We got back to camp and prepared dinner; barbecued Tri-Tip steaks with a baked potato and broccoli. With the weather in the high 70's, we finally had a nice evening to eat outside. We are hoping to get back on the road by 10AM so we can arrive early in the afternoon at our next Harvest Host destination. Wahlmeier Farms Vineyard is a family-owned vineyard and winery that opened in November 2020. They feature a Western-style barn that contains their processing and tasting room, located off the beaten path with a 3.5-acre vineyard. They make and sell several styles of wines, as well as jams and jellies. The farm is located in Jennings, Kansas about 207 miles from Timberlake Ranch Camp. With a stop to eat lunch, we will need about four to five hours for traveling time. Our goal is to arrive before 3 PM, if posible. Jennings is a small town with a population of 78 (2022) and was laid out in 1888. It was named for Warren Jennings, a landowner and was located on the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad lines. Jennings was a popular area for Czech immigrants to settle and start their farms. We'll post again once we reach our Sunday destination at FamCamp located at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado next week.

  • Volunteers at Work and Play

    One of the advantages of periodically doing an RVICS assignment is the fellowship with like-minded Christian brothers and sisters. Traveling full time is great but we both miss our church family and the friends we've had for so many years living in Sonoma County. As we take a three week travel break, these projects provide us with routine and a community we need to nurture our spirit. Our weather has improved and the local Nebraska sky is filled with puffy cumulus clouds floating over the wetlands of the Platte River to the north of Timberlake Ranch Camp. Besides working four days a week on camp projects, we hang out together each morning for 8 AM devotions, prayer and singing. Tuesday nights we have a social get-together and usually play a card game like Pyramid or 4 up-4 down. Wednesday night we do a bible study with someone from the camp staff. When Friday rolls around we try and do a field trip in the area, go to a movie or play mini-golf. Going to lunch or dinner with the team is common and an obligatory trip to any local Dairy Queen is an RVICS tradition! This second week on project saw the men installing a much needed garage door opener on the maintenance shop's 10 foot door, finishing the gazebo benches, demolition of an old camp utility structure and repairing the waterfront floating dock. The ladies did some more painting in one of the staff houses and continued getting the craft room and camp store ready for the first week of campers that will arrive in two weeks. It might appear that we are too busy while working an RVICS project, but we do get our share of down time. The activity during the week provides plenty of exercise and we are both feeling the sore muscles at the end of each work day. An added benefit, however to all the physical work, we sleep well through most of the night. Friday, May 10 Karen and I drove into the city of Grand Island, Nebraska so she could do some lap swimming at the local YMCA. I drove over to Anderson Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM dealership to schedule an oil change for the truck on Monday, May 13. I was hoping to get a haircut but couldn't find a barber shop open that took walk-ins. After I picked up Karen we went to lunch, then to Walmart for some groceries then back to camp to play a new game called Mölkky. Mölkky (Finnish pronunciation: [ˈmølkːy]), is a Finnish throwing game invented by Lahden Paikka company in 1996. It is reminiscent of kyykkä, a centuries-old throwing game with Karelian roots. The Karelian people's presence can be dated back to the 7th millennium BC–6th millennium BC. The region itself is rich with fish, lakes, and minerals, and because of that throughout history its political boundaries have changed. Today it is divided between the Republic of Finland and the Russian Republic. The game is played with a set consisting of a throwing pin, and 12 shorter wooden pins (also called "skittles") numbered from 1 to 12. The pins are initially placed in a tight group in an upright position 3–4 meters away from the throwing line, with the pins organized as follows: 1st row, 1/2; 2nd row, 3/10/4; 3rd row, 5/11/12/6; 4th row, 7/9/8. The players take turns to toss the throwing pin to try and knock over the numbered pins. Knocking over one pin scores the number of points marked on the pin. Knocking 2 or more pins scores the number of pins knocked over (e.g., knocking over 3 pins scores 3 points). A pin does not count if it is leaning on the throwing pin or one of the numbered pins (it must be parallel to the ground to count). If you miss all the pins on your throw it counts as a strike. Three strikes and you lose all your accumulated points and go back to zero but keep playing. First player that gets exactly 50 points wins. Great fun and no...I didn't win.

  • Camp Work Summary - Week 1 Completed

    The men started working on Monday morning, April 29 repairing picnic tables and benches for Timberlake Ranch Camp. I started painting new replacement boards while Tom and Steve removed the weathered table boards and bench seats from their metal frames. By the end of the first day we had twelve picnic completed. The ladies spent Monday deep cleaning the gift shop/snack bar. They swept up hundreds of dead flies, cleaned out metal baskets to prepare for new inventory, wiped down walls and counter tops, vacuumed and mopped floors. Also in the kitchen, the refrigerators were emptied of old food and cleaned, dusty bowls & food containers were washed and dried. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the ladies painted the girls bathroom a light gray color. On Thursday, Karen and Jan we were back in the gift shop finishing the cleaning and starting to open and organize new merchandise in order to price and display for the summer camp season. Meanwhile Cat and Christina were working in the craft room painting project tables, cutting hundreds of small cardboard pieces for a craft project and winding up yarn into balls.. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were spent by the RVICS men working on an older gazebo near one of the many lakes around the camp. The gazebo is a hexagon structure with four original redwood benches that needed to be replaced. Our first assignment was to remove the four old benches without damaging them too much. We needed them for accurate measurements for the new benches we would construct. The benches had multiple complex angles that needed to be cut so we used both an electric table saw and electric compound miter. saw out by the job site. The first bench took most of Tuesday afternoon to figure out. Wednesday and Thursday we continued building the othe three benches making minor adjustment to compensate for the variables associated with the gazebo roof post spacing. By the end of the day Thursday we had all the benches completed. Friday, May 3 we all had the day off and traveled to Aurora, Nebraska to visit the Plainsman Museum. The museum had an extensive array of exhibits about the history of this county and the Great Plains of Nebraska. Exhibits included a furnished Sod House. Once westward bound pioneers reached their destination, they had to build homes. Those homes reflected the available natural resources of the land. In forested areas, log homes were popular. Some areas in rocky terrain used stones. Some in the Southwest, where clay was plentiful, used adobe. On the Great Plains, sod houses, called “soddies,” were the most common abodes. The humble dirt and grass homes were made with about the only natural resource available: sod. Pioneers used a special plow that could cut the dense virgin sod, then it was cut into bricks and stacked. All of it was very hard work. And a sod roof was the most challenging to build of all and could weigh more than three tons! The 6 acre campus of this museum included a football sized building filled with old farm equipment and classic cars. There was also a one room schoolhouse which was used from 1874-1954 and a lovely fully furnished Victorian-era house built by General Delevan Bates in the 1870s. It was a fascinating museum with many incredible displays. We finished off our field trip with a Mexican lunch at Pueblo Viejo.

  • Traveling to the Cornhusker State

    We arrived in Marquette, Nebraska on a Roving Volunteers in Christ's Service (RVICS) project at Timberlake Ranch Camp after a brief one-night stop in Hamburg, Iowa on Wednesday, April 24. The drive north on US 29 from Kansas City, Missouri was only three hours but the truck traffic and navigation was challenging. Hamburg turned on to be a sleepy Iowa farming town with only one restaurant. We were using our Harvest Host membership to stay the night in the town ball park on the grassy parking lot and we were the only RV there. The weather on Thursday, April 25 was changing with forecasted rain turning to thunderstorms so we got on the road earlier than usual at 9:30 AM from Hamburg. We drove Highway 2 to the Nebraska border heading west towards Lincoln. From Lincoln we connected to Interstate 80 and continued on to Marquette. The weather was behind us as we moved west but the predictions for the weekend indicated we were in for some potential heavy thunderstorm activity and possible tornadoes. We all spent the weekend hunkered down and prayed the bad weather would miss our location, but to be safe, we had the NOAA weather alert radio ON keeping us up to date on the approaching and changing conditions. Both Friday, April 26 and Saturday, April 27 were pretty hairy with over 150+ tornado alerts and warnings in Oaklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraka and Iowa. Rain was heavy with occasional downpours of "pea sized" hail which made sleep during the night difficult. We received alerts on both our cell phones and the NOAA radio throughout the day. By Sunday it was all over and we all came though this extreme weather unscathed. The region experienced two fatalies, 50+ injuries with 153 tornado reports, 138 wind reports and 276 hail reports from the April 25 to April 28 storm outbreak sequence. No tornadoes were reported closer to us then some suburbs of Lincoln, Nebraska about an hour away to the east. We got many calls and texts from concerned family and friends; many thanks for your thoughts and prayers. The RVICS enitre team met up for the first time on Saturday afternoon; we are made up of three couples and a single this time around. On arrival at camp we met Steve and Jan Meyers at the entrance to the RV parking area. They will be our RVICS team leaders on this project through May 17. They're both retired school teachers and have a home in Iowa leading teams with RVICS part-time in their Nomad fifth wheel by Skyline. Couple number two, Tom Horsfall and Cat Tyson are working with us traveling in their Entegra Anthem motor coach. They are also "escapees" from California and. on their fourth RVICS project like us. Our single member is Christina Beck from Arizona traveling in her Jayflight by Jayco tow-behind trailer. She's new to RVICS and on her first project with her dog, Gidget. Timberlake Ranch Camp, founded in 1977, is a Christ-Centered camping facility in the midwest and for over four decades they have been providing family-friendly camp programming combined with excellent facilities designed to immerse guests in nature as they explore and grow in their faith. "By intentionally taking the time to step away from our busy schedules to invest in our relationship with God, connect with those around us, and create space for new experiences, God does incredible things. We have seen the power of camp firsthand through the years as thousands of young people have professed faith in Jesus or found fresh purpose by taking meaningful steps to deepen their faith". We are looking forward to a busy and fruitful week of work with the camp staff repairing and preparing the facility's different venues for their future campers.

  • Hangin' out with Family and Friends

    After spending a week in Livingston, Texas getting our medical appointments out of the way and picking up our current mail we departed on Friday, April 12 to meet up with Karen's cousins Nina and Frank Phelan. We made arrangements to go camping together at Jim Hogg Park on the north side of Georgetown Lake in the Hill Country of Texas, about 25 miles north of Austin. We all had a great time catching up and hanging out at the lake. This was the first time we have had an opportunity to spend time together since their daughter's wedding in Vermont last June. We'd never camped together, so we were looking forward to some good outdoor cooking and campfire time. The location was beautiful and the weather was almost perfect. We planted the seeds of future camping adventures together the next time we are in Texas; maybe the South Padre Islands? On Saturday, Karen and Nina drove into town to have lunch with Auntie Ann (Nina's mom) who drove from Horseshoe Bay. Monday, April 15 we departed Georgetown Lake for Sunnyvale, Texas just ten miles east of Big "D" (Dallas, TX) to visit my cousin Dina Hansen. We made plans for dinner at Terry Black's BBQ, Dallas's premiere destination for legendary Texas barbecue. We met Dina and her friend, Mel Smith and had a real feast. Not only was the food incredible but my cousin generously picked up the dinner tab! This was a wonderful, unexpected surprise. Thank you Dina, you rock! We talked about traveling and heard about some fascinating adventures and far off lands she has experienced. Karen and I agree that Dina will be a great traveling companion so we are going to stay in touch about travel opportunities...maybe an Antarctica cruise??? The next day, Tuesday April 16 we traveled to see JP and Erin Mally outside of Tyler, Texas. We've been supporting their Youth with a Mission (YWAM) ministry for many years. They lived in Mali, Africa until the political situation started getting dicey, so they came back to the states to be safe. We got to meet their two children, Keenan (age 4) and Vera (almost 2). Erin is also expecting their third child in August of this year! They are working at the Tyler, Texas YWAM base in various staff capacities. JP just got his Green Card and is working through the certification process on his nursing credentials. It was so good to see them in person and get a first hand account of their ministry journey. We love the opportunity to support them in this ongoing ministry as we continue to pray for their family and for God to direct their path during this unscheduled hiatus. From Texas it was on to an Army Corps of Engineers campground at Afton Landing in Oklahoma for two nights. We stopped on Wednesday to see another friend, Dayna Murphy, who's a YWAMer now living on a 2 plus acre homestead in Porter, OK. She moved to Oklahoma to be closer to her daughter's family and is loving the challenge of fixing up her home and property. After seeing her place in Porter she drove over to have dinner with us in the campground. Thursday, April 18 we went to visit someone I haven't seen in over thirty years. Lori Gracey worked for Gillard Photography, the business Bob Conrad and I owned in Fortuna, California in the late 1970's. I last saw her in Santa Rosa, CA when she was attending Graduate School at UC Davis in the 1990's. She is now married and living in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Karen and I made arrangements to visit and had a lovely time together. They gave us a tour of Broken Arrow and Tulsa then fixed us a wonderful steak dinner. We talked and talked that evening and didn't leave their home until after 11 PM. From Oklahoma it was on to Camp Barnabas in Purdy, Missouri to see our friends and past RVICS members, Paul and Rhonda Harlin who are now on staff at the camp. We stayed at the camp RV property next to their Tiffin motor coach. They gave us a tour of the camp on Friday and we hung out. On Saturday, April 20 Paul drove us all to Branson, Missouri to see the Sight and Sound theater production of Queen Esther. It was an amazing show to experience! On Sunday we departed Camp Barnabas and navigated north on US 44 to US 49 to spend three nights outside of Kansas City, Missouri. Two years ago, while attending our first Alliance RV rally we met John and Janice Lary who live near KC. They also have an Alliance Avenue 32RLS like our unit. We gave them a call and warned them of our approaching visit. Well, I guess they must like us because we decided to camp together again and booked two adjoining sites in Lee's Summit, MO at Longview Lake Campground not far from their home. We set up on Sunday and ate a delicious dinner in John and Janice's rig that night. The menu included Burrito bowls and Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake for dessert. Um, um good! Monday we compared notes and told stories about the pros and cons experienced with our units and we worked on trailer projects. At dinner time I barbecued a London Broil we enjoyed with roasted potatoes and fresh green beans. Tuesday morning I got out the Blackstone and we had a first-class breakfast of "eggs-a-la-Hilen" (scrambled eggs with a bunch of goodies added), hash brown potato patties, crispy bacon and toast. We must have impressed Janice because she rewarded our efforts with a Tuesday night of Kansas City Royals baseball. We all went to Kauffman Field that evening. Janice has some well connected business associates and got us tickets at field level, section 119, row M on the third base line!!! We had awesome seats and companions; topped off with $1 hot dog night so we ate like baseball kings, you know like Royalty...hmmm. We cheered on the home team to a 3-2 win over the Toronto Blue Jays. Thank you John and Janice for a great visit in Kansas City, Missouri! The time went by too quickly. We're already planning another get-together near South Padre Island, Texas next January or February2025 to see a SpaceX Starship launch in Boca Chica...fingers crossed. So not a bad fifteen day run of five different camping locations in three states and 16 friends and family visited. We loved seeing all of these folks. We're so thankful we get to do this as we travel far and wide, playing hard with the people we love to share life with. From KC on Wednesday April 24 it's on to a one-night stand in Hamburg, Iowa at a Harvest Host, then to our next RVICS project in Marquette, Nebraska at Timberlake Ranch Camp for three and a half weeks. TALLY HO!

  • We Got Mooned in Teague, Texas!

    After a four plus hour drive to Livingston, Texas on Friday April 5 we arrived at the Escapees Rainbow's End RV Park for the week. We have an action packed agenda for our visit back to our official Texas domicile. Our first official act was to get our annual Texas vehicle inspection out of the way. It worked out that we were back in April when our registration come up for renewal. We stopped by Kyle's shop on the way to the RV Park, got the inspection done and paid the $14 charge ($7 each vehicle) and were on the road again in thirty minutes. The big event that brought us to this part of the state was the upcoming total solar eclipse on Monday, April 8. Our plan was to drive to the path of totality in Teague, Texas, about two hours north, early on Monday and view this unique cosmic phenomenon. The weather was looking questionable with morning fog leading to cloudy skies and thunderstorms predicted for after 3 pm. There was a small window of partly cloudy sky from about 11 am to 2pm during the scheduled eclipse so we took the chance and headed northwest. We arrived early for the eclipse so we drove over to the Teague Volunteer Fire Department to see if we could meet some of the staff and get a tour of their facilities. The Teague Volunteer Fire Department was organized in 1907. Teague VFD is a not-for-profit volunteer organization consisting of 30 members. The Fire Department provides fire and rescue services to the City of Teague and its surrounding community. TVFD Lt. Ron Stewart was kind enough to show us around and it was a pleasure meeting a couple other members of the department. Their VFD is a well equipped with two engines, a "Quint" ladder truck, a heavy rescue squad truck, a water tender, 3 brush trucks and a utility/command vehicle, They respond to about 400 calls a year including traffic collisions, wildland fires, structure fires not including medicals. Ron explained to us the majority of medical calls are handled by the local EMS ambulance company. According to Lt. Stewart, the town's Chamber of Commerce was meeting out at Booker T. Washington Park on the east side of town for the "eclipse event". We arrived in time to set up our zero-gravity recliners, mingle with the locals and eat our picnic lunch. Fortunately, almost miraculously the clouds parted to afford us our view of the solar eclipse from beginning to end. John and Karen got "Totally" mooned in Teague, Texas on April 8 at 1:38 pm for two and a half minutes...WOW! Teague, Texas is at the junction of U.S. Highway 84, State Highway 179, and Farm Roads 80 and 145, nine miles southwest of Fairfield in western Freestone County. The area was first settled around the time of the Civil War. During the latter half of the nineteenth century a small community known as Brewer, grew up at the site. When the Trinity and Brazos Valley Railway was built through the county in 1906, it located its machine and car shops at this site. The town of Brewer was renamed Teague by railroad magnate Benjamin Franklin Yoakum in honor of his mother Narcissus Teague and her parents James and Jane Fowler Teague, who were early pioneers in Freestone County. The town incorporated in 1906. The community served as a shipping center for area cotton farmers and grew rapidly. By 1914 it had Baptist, Catholic, Disciples of Christ, Methodist, Episcopal, Methodist Episcopal, and Presbyterian churches, as well as public schools, waterworks, an electric light plant, an ice plant, three banks, two cotton gins, a cottonseed oil mill, a cotton compress, the Teague Daily News, two weekly newspapers, and a population of 3,300. Teague continued to prosper during the 1920s. The onset of the Great Depression and plummeting cotton prices however began a slow decline that continued until the 1980s. The number of businesses dropped from 140 in 1931 to 100 in 1936. After World War II many other stores and businesses closed, and by the early 1980s only forty-six rated businesses remained. The town also witnessed a decline in population during the same period; it reached a low of some 2,800 in 1975. After the mid-1980s, however, the population grew steadily, and in 1990 Teague had 3,268 residents. The population was 4,557 in 2000. The area has large coal, lignite, sand, and clay deposits. In recent years natural gas production has become an important industry. The exhibits in the Teague Museum include a 1925 Baldwin locomotive donated by W. T. Carter and Brother of Camden, a railroad motor car, a baggage wagon, photographs, timetables, and other memorabilia. Other artifacts of local history are also preserved in the museum, including items pertaining to churches, schools, doctors and hospitals, merchants and business firms, clubs and organizations (including a Boy Scout room), civic leaders, and city officials. The Teague Volunteer Fire Department, which dates back to 1907, developed its own exhibit, which includes the department's first motorized pumper engine, a 1920s Seagraves with dual ignition. The local newspaper, the Teague Chronicle, published since 1906, has its own display, which features the Cottrell printing press used by the paper from 1906 to 1976, in addition to a copy of its first issue, dated July 27, 1906, which contains a report on the arrival of Teague's first passenger train. A Veterans' Room displays exhibits of all wars; special memorial cases honor those killed in action. After the eclipse we traveled over to the Teague Train Depot and Museum to take a tour. Normally closed during the week, the chamber president called a volunteer and arranged a personal tour for us! How nice was that! The Burlington-Rock Island Railroad Museum, in Teague, was officially opened on October 4, 1970, and is housed in the original Trinity and Brazos Valley Railway depot and office building. The depot was built in 1906–07 and designed by C. H. Page, Jr., an Austin architect, whose father had worked as a stone mason on the state Capitol. The two-story building combines the round arches and arcades of Romanesque styling with an asymmetrical Italianate tower. Its bichrome façade features red-brick trim on a buff-colored, pressed-brick background. The hipped roof is covered in red tile. When built, the depot was considered one of the most handsome stations in Texas. The railway itself, the "Boll Weevil," belonged to the Burlington-Rock Island system for most of its existence and continues freight service to Teague. After a new railroad office was constructed in the 1960s, local historians, led by Llewellyn Notley, retired Teague school superintendent, and P. F. Thomas, retired railroad superintendent, acquired the building for the city of Teague from the Fort Worth and Denver Railway and the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroads for one dollar. The Burlington-Rock Island Railroad Museum Association of Teague was organized and incorporated by the Texas secretary of state in 1969. The museum opened on October 4, 1970, with United States congressman Olin E. Teague delivering the dedicatory address. Two state historical markers were unveiled at the program. After our day in the city of Teague, we drove the backroads to Livingston in a massive thunderstorm. At one point the downpour got so bad we needed to pull over into a parking lot, but we got home safely and hunkered down for some heavy weather in the forecast for the next two days. All in all, it was a great day; a once in a lifetime experience to see the total eclipse of the sun.

  • Deep in the Heart

    We arrived on Easter Sunday, March 31 in San Felipe, Texas at Stephen F. Austin State Park on the banks of the Brazos River. We’re just 50 minutes west of the outskirts of Houston. San Felipe de Austin State His­toric Site is nearby where you can walk around the townsite, head­quarters for Stephen F. Austin’s original colony. American Moses Austin was authorized as an empresario by Joaquín de Arredondo of Spain to create a colony of Americans in Texas, which was lightly populated, as a bulwark against the native Comanche people. Before this plan could be implemented, Moses Austin died in Missouri in 1821. That same year Mexico gained independence from Spain. Stephen F. Austin agreed to carry out his father's plan for a colony. At the end of the summer of 1821, he and a small group of Anglo-American settlers crossed into Texas. Before he reached San Antonio to meet with the governor, the group learned that Mexico had gained its independence from Spain. Texas was now a Mexican province rather than a Spanish one. Governor Martinez assured Austin that the new Mexican government would honor the colonization contract. Between 1823 and 1825, Austin granted 297 titles under this contract. Each head of household received a minimum of 177 acres or 4,428 acres depending on whether they intended to farm or raise livestock. The grant could be increased for large families or those wishing to establish a new industry, but the lands would be forfeited if they were not cultivated within two years. The settlers who received their titles under Stephen's first contract, known today as the Old Three Hundred, made up the first organized, approved group of Anglo-American immigrants from the United States to Texas. The new land titles were located in an area where no Spanish or Mexican settlements had existed. It covered land between the Brazos and the Colorado rivers, from the Gulf Coast to the San Antonio Road. This area had long been occupied by indigenous peoples, however, and they objected to Anglo-American encroachment, resisting with armed conflict. Both Comanche and Apache warriors raided the new colony. Back to 2024; on Tuesday, April 2 we ventured to the Houston Astros ballpark called Minute Maid Park to attend another major league baseball game on my quest to attend all the MLB parks in my lifetime. This was number 12 out of 30. Minute Maid Park is a beautiful ballpark with a roof that can be opened or closed depending on the weather. Tonights game the roof was closed and the temperature inside was ideal. The Astros were playing the Toronto Bluejays and the home team ended up losing 2-1 in the ninth inning. We got together with our friend and fellow scuba diver, Suzy Wheat on Wednesday for a short hike and picnic at Brazos Bend State Park. This a 4,897-acre state park along the Brazos River in unincorporated Fort Bend County, Texas run by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The park is a haven for a diverse mix of native wildlife and plants covering an equally diverse range of ecosystems. Brazos Bend contains areas of coastal prairie, bottomland forest, and a wide range of wetlands including open and semi-open lakes and transitional marshlands. Highlights of the park's numerous inhabitants include over 300 species of resident and visiting migratory birds such as black-bellied whistling duck, snowy egret, great egret, American white ibis, yellow-crowned night heron, northern cardinal, American coot and great blue heron. Mammals such as the white-tailed deer, nine-banded armadillo, raccoon, and North American river otter are also found in the park. The most noteworthy and popular residents of the park are the relatively large population of American alligators. On our last day, Thursday April 4 we drove to Smithville, Texas to visit the Roving Volunteers in Christ's Service (RVICS) village and headquarters. We had lunch with Frank and Melissa Varaso, who were our RVICS team leaders when we did our first project in September 2023. Melissa is now serving as the RVICS organization president this year. They gave us tour of the village and we got to see their home. The village has pads available for those who purchase a RVICS village membership. For $2500 a couple can purchase a one-time village membership. The Village is "a place to call home" between projects, or when age or health issues make it difficult to serve on a regular basis. Any present or former RVICS member who has served at least three projects may purchase a Village membership, and select a lot with full utility hook-ups for parking their RV or placing a more permanent home. In addition to home sites, the Village also boasts an all-purpose building, Schaeffer Hall. Life in RVICS Village affords all the fellowship, activity, and encouragement in the faith that members have experienced, and are reluctant to leave behind, during their working years. Many continue to serve in nearby churches and communities, and there's rarely a Village moment when some project is not being hatched. At noon on Friday, April 5 we departed Stephen F. Austin State Park in San Felipe, Texas and drove to our home base at the Rainbow's End Escapees RV Park in Livingston, Texas thus completing our second RV Life charted journey in our Alliance Avenue 32RLS, named Trinity, for a total of 11,864 miles in 465 days.

  • Cajun, Creole and Zydeco

    Traveling on Interstate 10 we experience the natural beauty and wonder of Southwest Louisiana. We crossed the "Ole Muddy", the Mississippi River. through Baton Rouge continuing west. A good part of the highway takes you across extensive expanses of swamp, bayou and meandering rivers. One such area is the Atchafalaya Basin, or Atchafalaya Swamp. It is the largest wetland and swamp in the United States. Located in south central Louisiana, it is a combination of wetlands and river delta area where the Atchafalaya River and the Gulf of Mexico converge. The river stretches from near Simmesport in the north through parts of eight parishes to the Morgan City southern area. Between Baton Rouge and Lafayette, Louisiana we decided to take a break and stop in the heart of the Atchafalaya Basin, the nation’s largest river swamp. The Atchafalaya Welcome Center contains a variety of exhibits showcasing the unique flora, fauna, and cultures found throughout the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area. Amenities at this Welcome Center include complementary coffee, restrooms, a short film about the area, walking trails, and picnic areas. The Atchafalaya is different than other Louisiana basins because it has a growing delta system with wetlands that are almost stable. The basin contains about 70% forest habitat and about 30% marsh and open water. It contains the largest contiguous block of forested wetlands remaining (about 35%) in the lower Mississippi River valley and the largest block of floodplain forest in the United States. Best known for its iconic Cypress–Tupelo swamps at 260,000 acres, this block of forest represents the largest remaining contiguous tract of coastal Cypress in the United States. We eventually arrived at Sam Houston Jones State Park in Lake Charles, Louisiana; our campground for the next two nights. Originally named for the Texas folk hero who traveled extensively in the western reaches of Louisiana, Sam Houston Jones was given its current name in honor of the state's 46th governor, who was instrumental in setting aside this tract of land for the public to enjoy for both day-use and overnight visitors. The park is home to more than 70 acres of longleaf pines, the oldest living southern pine species. They were once one of the most abundant tree species in the United States, stretching across 90 million acres from Virginia to Texas. Over time, land-use practices such as logging, farming, development, urban encroachment, and fire exclusion have diminished the longleaf pine, leaving less than 4 million acres of longleaf forest and less than 10 percent of their original presence in Louisiana. Remember when we visited Nova Scotia and traveled through the Acadian settlements? Well here's the rest of the story... the roots of Creole and Cajun culture. They are synonymous with Acadiana, a 22-parish region settled in the mid-18th century by exiles from present-day Nova Scotia. About 3,000 Acadians arrived in South Louisiana from 1764 to around 1785 and now, more than 250 years later their creolized name, Cajun (derived from the French Acadien), can be found everywhere. There’s the Ragin’ Cajuns, the athletic moniker of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (ULL). There’s the Cajun Heartland State Fair, held annually (pre-COVID) on the grounds of the Cajundome. And there are countless small businesses, from Cajun Power to Cajun Fitness, Cajun Broadband, and Cajun Mart, who use the term to ground their names in a sense of place. Cajuns were—and are—a subset of Louisiana Creoles. Today, common understanding holds that Cajuns are white and Creoles are Black or mixed race; Creoles are from New Orleans, while Cajuns populate the rural parts of South Louisiana. In fact, the two cultures are far more related—historically, geographically, and genealogically—than most people realize. The region is probably best known for its incredible cuisine and special music. Cajun and Creole food are both native to Louisiana and can be found in restaurants throughout South Louisiana. One of the simplest differences between the two cuisine types is that Creole food typically uses tomatoes and tomato-based sauces while traditional Cajun food does not. Examples of some of the culinary delights include Gumbo, Jambalaya. Shrimp Creole, Crawfish Étouffée, Red Beans and Rice, Creole Stuffed Bell Peppers. and Creole Bread Pudding. This is the regional origin of Zydeco, a music genre that was created in rural Southwest Louisiana by Afro-Americans of Creole heritage. It blends blues and rhythm and blues with music indigenous to the Louisiana Creoles such as la la and juré, using the French accordion and a creole metal washboard instrument called the frottoir. We enjoyed our campsite atmosphere with the sights, sounds and smells of this wonderful and unique region of the south.

  • War in Rememberance

    As we traveled west back to Texas for the solar eclipse on April 8, we passed through Louisiana for four days. Our first stop was at Fairview-Riverside State Park in Madisonville, Louisiana for two of the four nights. Its 99 acres is set along the banks of the Tchefuncte River. The park has 100 campsites, a short nature trail, and a boardwalk which reveals forested wetlands.We arrived on Wednesday afternoon, March 27 and set up on site 40 for only $26.84 for 2 nights with our discount. Louisiana state parks give a 50% discount to National Park Pass holders. Thursday, March 28 we decided to spend the day in New Orleans and visit the National WWII Museum, formerly known as The National D-Day Museum, a military history museum located in the Central Business District of New Orleans, Louisiana, on Andrew Higgins Drive between Camp Street and Magazine Street. The museum focuses on the contribution made by the United States to Allied victory in World War II. Founded in 2000, it was later designated by the U.S. Congress as America's official National WWII Museum in 2004. The museum is a Smithsonian Institution affiliated museum, as part of the Smithsonian Institution's outreach program. The mission statement of the museum emphasizes the American experience in World War II. The museum is located in part in the former Weckerling Brewery, designed by local architect William Fitzner, which was renovated and opened as the D-Day Museum on June 6, 2000, the 56th anniversary of D-Day, focusing on the amphibious invasion of Normandy. As the Higgins boats, vital to amphibious operations, were designed, built, and tested in New Orleans by Higgins Industries, the city was the natural home for such a project. Furthermore, New Orleans was the home of historian and author Stephen Ambrose, who spearheaded the effort to build the museum. Ambrose also wrote a book entitled D-Day in 1994, which describes the planning and execution of Operation Neptune, which was launched on June 6, 1944. The early emphasis of the museum on D-Day, the location of Higgins Industries, and Ambrose's connections to New Orleans were all factors in the museum being established in New Orleans. Upon arriving, we waited in line to board a train. The train is a simulation exhibit that mimics the experience of soldiers going off to war. In the train, the interactive dog tag is used to determine which individual a visitor will be following. The information is provided by screens on the back of the bench seats. Once the short train journey has ended, visitors are encouraged to explore the museum in whichever way they may choose. The museum is extensive in detail and comprehensive to a level I have never seen before. We ended our visit with tickets for the 3 pm award-winning 4-D film, Beyond All Boundaries, narrated by Tom Hanks and shown in the Solomon Victory Theater. It gives the visitor an overview of the war on every front. We walked for three hours and only saw a fraction of the exhibits available.  The museum was a deeply moving experience for both Karen and I. Honestly, we were both emotionally exhausted at the end of the visit. The museum provided a profound perspective on the width and depth of this moment in history and its affects on our national identity and culture in a very personal way. I would strongly recommend everyone visit this museum, with this caveat. It is not a feel good experience but a sobering journey through a difficult historical period, I thought I knew a fair amount concerning World War 2, but this experience truly helped me to get my head around the massive sacrifices made by ALL Americans from the totalitarianism of the 30's and 40's. This museum rocked my view to an emotional level I've only experience twice before in my life; my visit on-board the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor and the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C.

bottom of page