Life

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing"
- Helen Keller

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter Everyone!

Hope today has been a good one for everyone. We had a great time Saturday night celebrating John's birthday (it is really on Monday). We invited family and friends over for brats on the grill. It was great to see my brother Larry and my nephew Jordan and his wife Rachel. Jordan and Rachel are expecting their first child (a boy) in September. My friend Brenda (actually my sister-in law's sister -in-law) and husband Rick stopped by. Brenda is the one I came back early to work for.  Best friend Trudy and her family (Mike, Eric and Matthew) were also there. Lastly but by no means least my boys, Gabe and Mitch! 


We have had a little time with Gabe since we returned but this was our first visit Mitch. It is so good to see him. He only has a month until he is done with school in Decorah. We are headed up there early May so we can be there for graduation. He looks good but a little exhausted. He has another phone interview for a job this week too. Finishing college and finding a job is a stressful thing. Even 35 years later I remember that. We keep telling to remember there is a light at the end of the tunnel.


Went to lunch with the boys today too. We have been so busy this week I think we both are exhausted. We took naps this afternoon and are hoping for a quieter week. These old retired folks just aren't use to such a busy schedule! :) I was so busy last night I didn't get the camera out so no photos today. 


Happy Trails.....................

Friday, April 22, 2011

Playoff Hockey

A happy goalie at the end of a great win. Go Brady!
Do blondes really have more fun?

Wednesday night we got to see our first Roughrider Hockey game of the season and its playoff time. This team has already won the regular season title and are favored in the tournament. However, it is difficult to win both the season and the tournament so it won’t be an easy task. They had a bye first round and 11 days off, sometimes that is good and sometimes it hurts. The first period it didn’t look good but by second period they had their game legs and things turned around. They won 4-1. Brady was great in goal all game and kept them in it first period until the team got on track offensively. It was a joy to get to see him play, he is an amazing goalie. The team all dyed their hair blonde for playoffs (a crazy tradition for playoffs) so our favorite redhead now sports a blonde ‘doo.

We also connected with many friends from our hockey parent days, it was great. Afterwards we took Brady out for dinner and got to catch up on everything. He is a great kid and has matured so much in the last two years. He will be headed to Ohio State next year and I am sure they are excited to have him.

This week has been crazy, we are not use to having so many things to do or people to see. We have been out to lunch, out for coffee and invited to see friends for dinner. Tomorrow I am having several people over for another cookout for John’s birthday. The weather has been awful but it is suppose to be dry the next two days after today’s rain gets out of here.

Tonight it is game 2 for the playoffs so we head back to the rink. I took the camera Wednesday night. I forgot how much I enjoy taking photos at the games but tonight I am leaving it at home and will just watch. Brady’s parents and grandparents are going to be in town for the game so there are more people to visit with. We haven’t seen them in quite some time even though we keep up through email. Hope you enjoy the photos of my favorite goalie!




Happy Trails.....................

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Back in Iowa

Morgan Creek County Park


Well, we arrived in Iowa Saturday afternoon. It was a long drive from Kansas City but a nice one. The weather in Iowa is awful, rain and cold, they actually had snow Saturday morning but luckily we hadn’t arrived yet. We came back to Morgan Creek, one of the 2 Linn county parks that we stayed in most of last summer. When we pulled in I felt like we had never left. Was it all a dream? We were surprised at how many rigs were in the park , when the weather was so dreadful. We chose a site next to the shower house knowing we would be using it until out water heater is repaired. 
A cold rainy cookout
Not long after we were set up my friend Trudy arrived to welcome us home. Even though I had a chance to spend some time with her in Santa Fe NM, it is always good to see her. It wasn’t long after Trudy left that Gabe (oldest son) and his girlfriend Melissa arrived. This was our first chance to meet Melissa as they started dating after we left Iowa. She is a sweetie and Gabe is a lucky guy. I have missed my boys so I was delighted to see him again. It will probably be next weekend before I get a chance to see Mitchell, my youngest son. We will be spending some time with him up in Decorah next month when he graduates from Luther. I look forward to some time with him and his girlfriend Emily.
Gabe and Melissa  being silly
On Saturday night we had a cook out here at the park with Trudy and her family and Gabe and Melissa. it was cold and started to rain just as the burgers came off the grill. It was cozy inside the rig and it is amazing how many people we can fit in such a small space. The weather here is atrocious but the companionship is outstanding.
On Monday morning I had to be up by 6 am to get ready for a day of work. I was actually looking forward to it. It was so good to see my coworkers and the students I had last year. Those students are getting ready to graduate and it was great to see how far they have come. I do love teaching so being back at work does not seem like a sacrifice to me. This will probably be my last summer teaching so I intend to make the most of it. I got a lot of hugs on the clinic floor from the students and that makes it all worth it.
Another plus of getting back this early is getting to see the Roughriders Hockey team in the playoffs. Brady Hjelle who was our last hockey housing son returned this year to play (goalie) and has had an amazing year, he set the league record for number of wins by a goalie and the team won the regular season Anderson Cup. Now it is on to the league tournament the Clark Cup. They have home games on Wednesday and Friday nights this week and we stopped and got tickets today. Just talked to Brady on the phone and he is ready for the challenge! I am so glad I am going to get to see him play again. He is and always will be one of my kids. I will take the camera with me Wednesday so maybe I will have a few photos to share on Thursday.
Just a short update on the water heater. Ketelson’s here in CR is an Atwood service center so John talked with them and they ordered the parts, however it will take a little while to get them. We want to time it with a move to another park so it may be until My 2nd before it gets fixed. Good thing the parks we stay in here have very good shower houses. Some of the best we have seen. 
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Happy Trails............................

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Water heater update

Yesterday the dealer we were working with told us the part would be in by noon today so we stayed the night in Wichita and took our time getting up this morning. We even worked out and took showers in the campground showers (which were quite nice). Joh called at noon, no it hadn't arrived and usually they don't get their delivery until about 2, that's interesting, not what we were told yesterday. Waited until just before 2 and drove to the dealer. Part still hadn't arrived so we waited, and waited and waited. At 3:30 I told John I wasn't waiting any longer and we would just get it fixed back in Iowa, we can shower at the campgrounds until then. When we went to tell them we were leaving he said they had already gotten their Fed Ex earlier and everything else was there except this part but he was going to call Fed Ex and see if they just forgot a package. You think he could have done that a lot earlier, like as soon as he realized it wasn't with the other parts so now it is almost 4 and we have already spent an extra night in Wichita for nothing. I was not a happy camper. 


We took off and decided to take the highway instead of the turnpike to Kansas City. The park we are headed to has a gate house and I wasn't sure if they would have someone there if we showed up late so decided to find somewhere on the way to stay tonight. So here we are in Iola, Kansas in a little park off the highway. It is a beautiful evening and we walked downtown ( about 6 blocks) to a little Mexican restaurant and had a nice dinner. The wind has calmed and it was a beautiful walk and the food was surprisingly good. My only disappointment was they didn't serve margaritas(I could really use a margarita). Not sure what that is all about, I've never been to a Mexican restaurant that didn't have margaritas. We drank some Corona instead - oh the sacrifices we make.

Tomorrow it is on to Lee's Summit and the Blue Springs campground. We stopped there on way south and enjoyed it. We will have a couple nights with family before we make the last sprint to Cedar Rapids.  The weather will decide if we do it in one shot or make a stop in between. We really hate to travel more that 4 hours at a time, man are we getting spoiled.


Happy Trails.......................

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Kansas and Water Heaters

Sunset at El Dorado State park, El Dorado KS


In the middle of our Fort Supply stay our water heater quit working. John thought it was the circuit card but wasn’t sure. We talked with Excel and then Atwood who made the heater and it is still under warranty. They suggested a dealer just outside of Wichita KS on our way, Flint Hills RV in Andover. Made a 1pm appointment on Monday. This meant we needed to be on the road around 8 am.  Whooa........we are not morning people anymore?!! Well it couldn’t be avoided we had to set the alarm clock -yuck. We did get up and off in record time. Three plus hours later we arrived. The drive was nice and we enjoyed the Kansas countryside, looking more like our familiar midwest. 
Our site in Big Oak

We hung around until about 2 and they decided it was the circuit board that John thought was the culprit, first they didn’t think they had one but after a little more investigation they found one and even called and got all the warranty issues done so we were out the door and headed to El Dorado State park about 30 miles east of the dealer. 
El Dorado is a very nice park on a reservoir. It has, are you ready for this--1010 campsites. It is a very large park with lots of different campgrounds, everything from FHU prime sites to primitive sites. We decided on the water/electric Big Oak campground in the Walnut River area. We chose a site on the water, this is a small lake like area on the back side of the dam - not the reservoir. It was a beautiful site and we decided maybe we would stay 2 days. Well that was not to be.
Another  view of the campground
As we got set up, John was checking the hot water heater and guess what? Yep it was doing the same thing and definitely not working. John called the dealer and they wanted us back early in the morning. So just one night in the park and another morning we have to get up early - bummer. We made it up and were at the dealer by 8:30 am this morning. They spent another hour diagnosing the problem but they did not have the part on hand to fix it. They even called several dealers on our way home to see if anyone had the part but no luck, they did say they ordered a part and should have it by noon tomorrow. These people had really gone out of the way to try and find a solution for us so John decided we would stay another night and have them fix it tomorrow afternoon. The service guy thinks it won’t take long once he has the part. Luckily we can be a little flexible as long as we get to Cedar Rapids on Sunday. So now we are at a park (USI RV park) in Wichita for the night. Since it stays light until 7, almost 8 now we will get it fixed and if it isn’t too late we will try to get to Lee’s Summit MO tomorrow night. If not we will just stop somewhere along the way. One of the things you truly learn in this lifestyle is flexibility. The best part of this solution is we get to sleep in tomorrow morning!!

Pulled up by our twin!
I want to mention too that at El Dorado we found our twin. In one of the campgrounds we had to drive through to get to ours we came upon and Excel that looks to be a 2010 RSO, identical to ours and to make it stranger the tow vehicle is a Dodge Ram 3500 DW, not sure of the year but must be close to ours as it looks almost identical. We hoped they would be outside but no luck however on the way out of the park today we stopped to take a photo of our twin.  We think they have good taste. :)

A closer look at our twin!
Happy Trails.............................

Sunday, April 10, 2011

“Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain”


Remember the musical Oklahoma? Well this line from the song Oklahoma is a great description of our time here in Fort Supply, Oklahoma. We have had wind at least a portion of every day we have been here. One of the first days it was sustained winds of about 35mph with gusts to 50 and it sounds like that is how we will end our time here as that is the forcast for today, and tomorrow we head out again.
Our site

What have we done while we are here? We have taken long walks, worked out daily, read, and I have worked on my cross stitch. We haven’t even moved the truck since we have been here (got here on Tuesday). We could have used a trip to the grocery store but decided to use up what we have instead. Even though the refrigerator is looking bare there is probably enough in the cupboards and freezer that we could eat for a couple weeks yet. The plan is to go to Wichita to get the water heater fixed (appointment at 1 tomorrow) then drive and find a Walmart for the night somewhere on I-35. That is when we will do our shopping. Then on to the Kansas City area for a couple days until we do the last leg “home”. 

View from our site
Fort Supply Lake is a COE reservoir and park. We almost came here on the way out to the SW but ended up taking a more southerly route. It got good reviews online and friends in Tucson, Ralph and Cheryl, recommended it. We really like the COE parks in general so here we are. It is a nice park and if you like parking right next to the lake, they can accommodate you. We chose a site that was not on the water but close enough to have a good view. We are in the furthest loop and for the first few days we were the only ones in this area. Kind of cool to have a campground to yourself.  There isn’t a lot to do here unless you like to boat and fish but it is a nice quiet spot away from the city. Our site selection had a lot to do with the wind, it has been fierce and where we are is a little more protected from the wind whipping across the water. The wind here has probably been the worst we have experienced since we started on this journey, makes us glad the Excel is a heavy beast.

That is John on the peninsula 
The other night they had some severe storms east of here and we had a great view of the clouds that caused that storm. I put the panoramic photo of it as the header of the post today. I also sent that one to the ABC station in Oklahoma City (we actually have good reception from the antenna here). Didn’t see it on the news but thought it was good enough to share.

 I had some questions about what I was going home to teach. For the last eight (almost nine) I have taught in the Dental Hygiene program at Kirkwood Community College. I started out as a clinical instructor and then about 5 years ago I took on teaching the Oral Pathology class. This is an area I have always enjoyed, partly because I had an amazing instructor in college. In the 70s there was a bachelors degree program at the U of Iowa and the hygiene students took several classes with the dental students, one of which was Oral Pathology taught by Dr.Gil Lilly. He was an amazing instructor and made you want to learn the material. I use (with permission) some of his materials in my class today. I really enjoy teaching and when we decided to do this journey instead of retiring completely we decided I would return at least one more year to teach this class. This summer we will decide financially if I should keep doing this or if it will be my last. Summer is the hardest time to travel because everyone is out there and that may play into our decision too. Lots to think about and lots of prep work when we arrive.

My youngest son is graduating from Luther College in May which is another reason to be back in the area this summer. He is working on getting a job and we figure we will have to help with moving and such as well. It will be a busy summer and I am looking forward to it. 
Campground wildlife - our first Armadilo!
Happy Trails..........................

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Amarillo

I really didn’t talk to much about Amarillo. The weather was crazy. First we had hot  and very windy weather. Then even more wind and then a cold front. There was ice on the windows in the morning. We were only there for a couple days and under the circumstances didn’t do much. We did go to the Amarillo Botanical center, I just wanted to see something blooming. It is not a big center but I did get to take some photos of flowers particularly in their tropical greenhouse. It is along the river so we also took a short walk along the river. Lots of folks were out enjoying the unusually hot day (this was before things changed). 

The other site we took in was the historic Route 66 area. We didn’t want to eat out but there were several places that looked interesting and smelled great. Several seemed to be big biker bars. John had fun checking out all the Harleys. This also is an area of lots of antique stores. I had fun browsing but I think my antiquing days are over.
This place on Route 66 smelled wonderful!

We stayed at the Oasis resort just west of town. We were very satisfied with this stop. Friend Loralie recommended it and I would recommend it too. The best part is if you sign up for there rewards card, for which there is no charge, you get 20% off and  pay for 2 nights stay 3. That made it $48 for 3 nights. That is a pretty good deal. They also have a little grill at the office. We ordered pizza the first night and it was actually pretty good. We would stay here again if we were in the area.
We left and headed to Fort Supply OK for about a week. I’ll catch you upon that soon.


Happy Trails...........


Friday, April 8, 2011

Out of touch

Well, we are still around but haven't had internet for a few days. We hit our 5G limit early, thanks to an update from Apple that took about 1G. It reset today so we are back on but in a park where our reception is really slow. I'll probably wait until we have better reception to publish anything significant, with photos etc. We are at Fort Supply COE park for now. The government shutdown is affecting National Parks so we wonder if it it will shut down the COE parks too. We haven't had any knocks on the door asking us to leave yet so time will tell. We plan on leaving Monday, our hot water heater isn't working so Atwood is sending us to a dealer in Wichita to have it fixed. We are headed home a little faster than planned. A very good friend (kind-of-family) needs a sub in the dental hygiene clinic so she can get to a job interview. They are moving to near Ames and she has an interview for a full time teaching position at another dental hygiene program close to there. It only puts us back a week early but I really wanted to help her out. Our county parks opened this weekend so we know there is somewhere to stay. I have a lot of work to do to get ready to teach my class this summer so this will help me get going on that. Our son graduates May 21st and this will get me done in time to head up to a park there in time to get a spot at the local park. So until I get a faster connection.............Happy Trails!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

What will we leave behind?


The Petroglyph National Monument is not very far from where we were so Thursday we headed there to hike and checkout the petroglyphs. We have been to several locations with petroglyphs and they are always fascinating. This park has several areas with many petroglyphs and the hikes are relatively easy. Also we have a National Parks Pass and we are looking for things to do that have little or no cost. Just paid taxes, so need to refresh the coffers.
There is some debate about what the petroglyphs mean: were they art work, communication, religious? John’s theory is that the petroglyphs were drawn by ancient teenagers engaging in a form of graffiti. He based this on the fact that several of the men and animals drawn had a penis, sometimes a very large penis and as we know teenage boys love to draw a penis (or breasts) on just about anything, giggling all the while. If you are the parent of boys you should know this. In middle school I found Gabe and his buddies while frosting Christmas cookies putting boobs on the angels. They thought it was pretty funny. Now I know that this is not the current theory but who knows.
It did make me think about what will people thousands of years from now find from us that they will wonder about? Will it be CDs, DVDs, our cell phones?? I’m sure they will be as curious about us as we are about the people who drew the petroglyphs. What do you think will survive us? 
Tomorrow we take off towards Amarillo, Texas for a few days. Our journey back to Iowa continues.
Happy Trails.................

Friday, April 1, 2011

Old Town Albuquerque



Wednesday morning I drove back to Albuquerque to find John had done the laundry for me, yeah!!! It was time for us to do something here. We needed to go to the store for fruits and veggies so we combined a trip to the Whole Foods market and a trip to Old Town for a little browsing and lunch. Before that we needed to make a quick trip to Camping World. It is not far from the RV park. This Camping World has a large RV sales showroom so we decided to look a little. We wouldn’t change for another rig but looking is always fun. They had a Grand Junction 5th Wheel. A friend of ours, Dan, has considered one of these so we checked it out. It was a 36 footer with a nice floor plan and great amenities. It was nice but I think our Excel is a better built rig. We also went through a Tuscany Class A that was on sale for only $239,000 (way out of our price range). It was a beautiful rig and probably had the most open floor plan I have ever seen in a class A. It had lots of extras like a tile floor, granite countertops and backsplash and 2 bathrooms.  One thing we did get from our browsing was a restaurant recommendation in Old Town from the sales man. Always nice to get suggestions from locals.
Old Town is a lot like the Plaza in Santa Fe but not quite as large or upscale. Lots of stores selling all the touristy stuff as well as art work and jewelry. Like Santa Fe, there was an area where the local Native Americans were selling their wares as well. We wandered around and I actually bought a necklace from a woman on the street. After that we found Little Anita’s for lunch. It is on the edge of old town and you could tell it is a place that the locals frequent. We went past many restaurants in the tourist areas and they were not that busy, but this place was packed. The did have tables outside and though a little breezy no one was sitting outside. We had the patio to ourselves and had a great waiter. Albuquerque is known for its green chili so we made sure that is the sauce we requested and it was very tasty. It is a better Mexican restaurant then the one we went to the first night in town. That was enough tourist action for the day so we hit the Whole Foods Market and then home.

Happy Trails...........