Maybe it's because we are in Kansas, but I chose WEATHER as my W Word. We've really seen some "Weather" since we started on the road in February 2010.
This is one scene we are glad we missed. Only two days after we left NJ, this is what our former house looked like.
Daughter and son-in-law had to shovel this mess to get to their car and THEN shovel the driveway. They now have a snow blower. No heavy accumulation since, of course.
We have not seen snow like that fortunately. The only snow we saw was in Arizona last February. This was taken at the military cemetery at Fort Huachuca near Sierra Vista. This snow arrived and left the same day.
We spent last Spring dodging tornadoes in OK, MO, AR, and MS. We went back to NJ for a spell last two summers. Daughter and son-in-law had a yard party the summer before last. This is son-in-laws band set up with the storm quickly approaching.
This is the AFTER picture. About two miles away were 7 telephone poles in a row were tumbled. Perhaps a small tornado?
In September we went to Rhode Island for a NOMADS project. As a Hurricane Irene was expected to hit that area, we went inland about 300 miles to the Pocono region of PA. Got hit there too. The stream behind our rig before the hurricane:
We returned to the RI project to find no electric for one week and loads of trees down. For one week, we worked on clean up.
Again this spring we are in "Tornado Alley" Last week while in Oakley we had rain, high winds and then some beautiful sights.
This looked like it could be the formation of a tornado just east of us.
After it passed we saw this double rainbow. It remained in the sky longer than any rainbow I've even seen.
As the sun set this was the view:
Snow, tornadoes, hurricanes. We still keep traveling down the road.
Any weather related stories from our blogging friends?
Yesterday we took a drive seeing the sights of the Smoky VALLEY Scenic Byway. Okay, I know that is pushing it - but give me a break. Valley DOES start with V.
Kansas has designated many such scenic byways. This one started in WaKeeney south on Rt. 283, east of rt 4 and north on 147 back to Ogallah, a total of only about 60 miles. The byway winds through mixed-grass and short-grass prairies. Most of what is seen is farmland. The Scenic Byway is filled with abundant history of the westward bound pioneers.
There are few structures along the route making those few very evident. This is Zion Lutheran Church built in 1920 by German immigrants. There are still services held in this church. There are no other buildings for miles around.
Wilcox School House is listed on the State and National register of historic places. It is one of the last remaining rural school houses in the area. Apparently much needed repairs are being made.
Four and a half miles off the paved road is Cedar Bluff Scenic Overlook.
A rugged gravel road leads to the top of the 100 ft high cedar-covered bluff. The overlooks offers a spectacular view of the area and is supposed to be a good spot to see wildlife. We saw none here but a short ride later saw 4 mule deer and then a little later 9 white tail deer.
Along the route is Cedar Bluff State Park. We pulled into the park entrance but found it would cost $15.00 to enter. As we would not be using the park, just driving around, we turned around and headed back on the Byway.
We went off the paved road again in search of Threshing Machine Canyon but could not find it. In 1867 Native Americans attacked a wagon train that was transporting a threshing machine to Utah. Names of pioneers are carved into the limestone bluffs dating back to the mid 1800's and are still visible. We thought there would be signs directing us but didn't find them either.
Emanuel Lutheran Church was established by early settlers from Sweden and was build in 1905 of native limestone quarried near Threshing Machine Canyon. A small congregation still uses the church. Again, no other visible structures in sight.
As we travel through Kansas for another 11 days, we plan on driving a few more of their Scenic Byways. Looking forward to it!
This morning we moved about 75 miles east on I 70 to Ellis, Ks. We are parked at a small city campground right on a small lake. Temperature expected to reach 98!
Today I dedicate my Blogging from A to Z to my younger daughter Terrianne Kristin.
She is the caretaker of the family. If anyone has a need, she is the first one there. Even though Terri is definitely a Type A personality, she has a heart of gold.
I sometimes question her rational thinking as she followed her mother in her chosen field - Human Resources. At one time she wanted to be a Pastry Chef and is a graduate of the Restaurant School in Philadelphia. She was doing well in that field but soon realized that money just was not there until a chef is well established.
So she took some entry level positions in HR and through a series of jobs, is now a regional HR Manager for an International food processing company that grows and processes chocolate throughout the world. She oversees three facilities: one in Pa, one in NJ and one a North Carolina. A big benefit is she gets to travel to Switzerland and Germany every year.
Here she is opening one of her favorite Christmas gifts!
She and her hubby, Steve, enjoy visiting wineries when they travel. Speaking of travel, this is her coming out of a wee building in Scotland that was outside a Cathedral.
Family and friends mean a great deal to Terri. She and Steve have a great a circle of friends which she loves to entertain at our old house in NJ which she bought. She always prepares so much food that her guests knew to bring their Tupperware for the leftovers. She felt bad that they had to bring their own containers so she now keeps a supply of hinged Styrofoam take-out containers.
This is Terri with the two top men in her life: Son Justin and Husband Steve.
Today's "S" topic is about three S's. Son-in-laws, Scott and Steve
My daughters are each married to an S man.
Scott is married to my older daughter Amy. They live in a very rural part of Maryland and have two children, Charlotte and Abby. Amy and Scott are both archaeologists and met while working on a project.
I remember Amy coming home and remarking about meeting a man at the site who was looking for a girlfriend. The next thing I know, we were meeting that young man - Scott. They were married a few years later.
This is an ideal match. They both have a love of nature and history. They both are avid readers and are teaching their little ones the joys of our natural world and books.
Scott is actively involved in the girls lives. When possible he attends their school or daycare functions.
He spends quality time with each girl. Scott grew up in Delaware and returns some weekends to attend to family business. He will usually take one of the girls so to spend time with each one alone. We laugh because the girls will argue on whose turn it is to go to the local recycling center with him on Saturday mornings. They think this is a real treat.
Often when we visit, Amy, Len and I will sit around the dining room table after dinner while Scott cleans up the kitchen and gets the girls ready for bed or whatever else needs to be done.
Looking at pictures I have of Scott, I find I have none downloaded on the compter of him and Amy or him and Abby. These are of Scott and Charlotte. I will have to remember that when we next visit.
Steve is married to our younger daughter Terri. Steve is in Sales (another S) and is a musician. He is the lead guitarist and singer (still another S) in a country band. That is how he and Terri met. She loves to dance and there he was. This is the best picture I have of him with the band. It is dark so difficult to see. I know there is a way to lighten it, but I don't know how.
Terri and Steve married a little over 2 1/2 years ago. They bought our New Jersey house and love to entertain as we did.
Steve is extremely talented. He is an excellent drummer. I've been told by other drummers he is the best in the South Jersey area. By far his band is the best in the area as he has a remarkable voice. Listen to Steve at www.4-wheeldriveband.com
A few years back we vacationed in Scotland with Steve and Terri. This picture was taken there.
Terri loves to socialize and Steve fits right in. She, too, has a husband who complements her personality. I especially appreciate that Steve has a good relationship with Terri's son, our oldest grandson Justin.
Both Scott and Steve are good husbands and Son-in-Laws. Today's blog is dedicated to these fine young men.
Everyone has their own idea on what makes a person "rich". We sure do hear about it a lot now in our political climate.
I can remember as a young wife and mother thinking once we could afford to buy butter instead of oleo we would have it made. Then I thought, okay we have butter now but anyone who can afford to buy fresh flowers for the house all year long is "rich". Funny, even when we could afford to, I never did.
I have always been on the conservative side when it comes to managing our finances. Many years ago after Leonard and I married, we decided to use the services of a financial planner. All the planning in the world does not prevent those unexpected expenses but having a long range plan has assisted us in our current situation.
I always wanted a large home filled with antiques. In 1992 we brought an old farmhouse built in 1850 that had a large 15 year old great room addition.
A couple of years later we added another room upstairs for my office, a Three-season room to the back of the house and later a deck.
The house sits on a little over two acres and is completely surrounded on all four sides by a large nursery. I felt truly rich. We entertained a lot. At our annual yard party we had up to 140 guests. I loved this house and feel blessed that we lived in it for 17 years. I cherish the richness of the memories.
As we started to think about retiring we knew we would downsize. And downside we did.
We have no debt and some money in the bank. But what really makes us rich are the experiences and memories we are gathering, the love of family and friends, the love of our Lord and our commitment to each other. We are indeed "rich".
Good morning. Let's just forget about blogging about the letter "Q" . And while we are at it, "X" too. I've got nothing!
What I do have is MOTHS. We noticed when we got here there were lots of large moths flying near the ground. Our first night we had a few in the rig. As we had the outside light on we figured they must have come in when we closed the outside door for the night.
So the 2nd night we closed up well before dark. Had even more moths.
Last night we killed at least 25. Can not figure how they are getting in. I found the easiest way to get these pests is suck them up with the vacuum hose.
Not just at night either. As I was writing this, Len sucked up three more. Every night there is an increase on the amount we get. I dread tonight. Last night I had a hard time sleeping. As soon as I laid down another would flit around the room waiting to be sucked into oblivion.
After church I am going over to the office area to do our laundry. I will ask the owner, "What's up??"
We've never really spent much time in Kansas before. We are amazed at the vastness of these high plains and the prairie.
We drove a loop of about 180 miles that included the Kansas Western Vista, A Historic Byway. We stopped at the Fort Wallace Cemetery. We found these gravestones most interesting. One was of a man who was shot by an assistant wagon master. The other the assistant wagon master who was subsequently hung.
The cemetery is across from the site of Fort Wallace. It was built during the Plains Indian Wars and in operation from 1865 to 1882. When it was no longer needed it closed. Settlers salvaged the lumber and stone from the buildings and there is no visible remnants left today.
A view of the site of the former Fort from the cemetery.
We then stopped at the Wallace Museum. This small museum is chock full of artifacts from this area, a lot gathered from the fort. Of special note is a display of 80 million year old fossils collected in local limestone. Tending to the museum was the gentleman who throughout his life has collected those fossils as an amateur archaeologist and paleontologist. The early discoveries contributed significantly to the fossil records and included previously unknown and extinct animals such as flying reptiles and toothed birds.
Another small museum is Keystone.
The couple who own this museum and gift shop gave us lots of suggestions on what to visit. They trade mostly in stones and gems.
Not far from the Keystone is Monument Rock. Wind and rain formed this display through millions of years. We would have loved to have spent some more time walking around but the winds were fierce.
Down the road is the site of the last encounter in Kansas between the US troops and the Cheyenne in 1878. The Battle Canyon:
William F Cody earned the title "Buffalo Bill" in a buffalo hunting contest in 1868 just west of Oakley, KS. A twice life-sized bronze sculpture commemorates the place when the legend started.
On our drive we spotted a coyote, two pheasants, lots of turkeys and 6 mule deer. Not a bad day on the Prairie in the Kansas High Plains area.
I've been reading lately about mishaps folks are having while RVing. Donna K recently blogged about having issues with their car. Nick R talked about their washing machine having a leak. There are lots of others no doubt.
We, like a lot of people, thought we would be leaving "house" issues behind once we hit the road. WRONG! Our house is being pulled down the road at 65 mph. Of course there are still issues.
In May 2010 Len tangled with a diesel pump barrier and lost. The result:
In September 2011 we blew a tire resulting in:
About two hours later that tire that looks okay in the above picture, also blew out. At that point frustration set in. We talked about hanging up the keys. But once we calmed down, got two new tires and had a couple of good nights sleep, sensible heads prevailed. We are still on the road.
After the first incident, someone told us, "There are two kinds of RVers. Those who have had an accident and those who have not had one yet." So, we must be ahead of the game.
Sure, we've had more aggravations. Our original tow truck was a 2006 F250 that gave us lots of problems with the heater coil splitting. Last March we moved up to a F350 dually. We love the new truck but the ride is ROUGH. First the light cover over the TV fell out of the ceiling. Then the glass lid of our old, old crockpot broke. But the strangest was that every piece of clothing but 5, fell to the floor in the closet when the hangers jumped off the rod.
We've since changed our fifthwheel hitch to an air ride model. It's helped some. But still a rougher ride than we would like.
I suppose we can all agree, the problems will come. I t is how we handle them that counts. But this is still a great way to live.
We left St. John this morning and headed Oakley in the High Plains area of northwest Kansas. In keeping with yesterday's topic of movies, I've been looking again for Clint Eastwood - The High Plains Drifter. We are settled here for the next week.
Today's blog from A to Z is N:
We are nomads and NOMADS. The small case nomads means we travel from place to place. We left our home in NJ in February 2010 and have been nomadic since. This suits us just fine. Our first year took us as far west as Texas and south to Georgia and back up to NJ.
Our second year we got as far west as Yuma, AZ, and north to Rhode Island with lots of places in between.
This year we have been as far south as Mobile, AL, Louisiana and Texas. We are headed north to Wyoming then east to the Buffalo, NY area and again back to NJ.
Next year? We don't know. We are nomads.
We are also NOMADS with all capitals. NOMADS stands for NOMADS on a Mission Active in Divine Service. But some say it means Nutty Old Methodist's Avoiding Deep Snow. Check out NOMADS on www.nomadsumc.org.
NOMADS are a mission of the United Methodist Church. They were founded in October 1988 by a few people who live or travel in their RV's and assisted at some agencies in Texas and Oklahoma. It grew from there. Last year NOMADS worked 156 projects in 30 states. There were 1,150 NOMADS who worked a total of 110,800 hours at a labor value of over 2.37 million dollars.
NOMADS volunteer their labor and we pay our own expenses. We work at various agencies related to the United Methodist church such as retreat centers, children homes, colleges, campgrounds and churches. One does not have to be a United Methodist to be a NOMAD. Projects are 3 weeks in length with a four day workweek.
We choose the projects for where we want to volunteer. Leonard and I have worked in Jacksonville TX, Vienna Ga, Hayesville NC, N Scituate RI, Gore OK, Fayette MO, Austin TX, Moss Point MS, and Tucson AZ. We are on the way to Nebraska for a project and then in August to Wyoming for another one.
We are truly nomads who are NOMADS. We continue to meet the nicest people. And feel a satisfaction that we are helping in some small way.
Did you do volunteer work either before or post retirement?
Today I will blog about movies. We are really not huge movie fans. We seldom go. But once in a while an advertisement will hit us making us want to see what all the fuss is about. I remember years ago all the ado about E.T. I went to see it. What a disappointment. I guess I was expecting something great considering all the hype.
I remember the first movie I ever saw. It was around 1947 or 1948 when I was three or four. It was "Song of the South". I loved that movie as a child and remember seeing it more times as I was growing up. But that movie is now "politically incorrect" and no longer consider appropriate. It has never been issued on home video for that reason. Oops - I suppose I simply was not enlightened. But I can still sing the words to Zip-a-dee-doo-dah.
Today we drove over to:
The town was sure not what I expected. We did the usual tourist thing by going through the Boot Hill Museum and even saw Boot Hill. No one famous was ever buried there.
The town was founded in 1872 but only flourished for a few years. The original buildings are long gone replaced by these replicas which for a fee visitors can tour.
One of the buildings is the Long Branch. No Miss Kitty around there.
No Marshall Dillon, No Chester, No Doc., No Festus either!
Wyatt Earp worked there for a few years. But he was NEVER the Sheriff or Marshall. He never was more than an assistant. Another case of Hollywood hype.
Which brings me back to today's topic. I do like a good Western movie on occasion. An old favorite was Big Country staring Gregory Peck and also Silverado many years later.
Looking back I think of the movies I did enjoy at various times in my life. When I was a teenager - South Pacific. Another musical I loved was Sound of Music. I guess DO, RE, MI must have reminded me of Zip-a-dee-doo-dah?
The other night we got the DVD of War Horse. That was worth watching. But my favorite movie at this time and for the last couple of years is Gran Torino. I love the message and Clint Eastwood's portrayal.
For the last several days we have been staying at:
This casino is a short drive north on RT 81 from El Reno, OK. It sits out in a field. A very windy field.
There are 10 full hook up sites and they are FREE. The casino is an Native American run property.
We slept sound last night in relation to the previous two nights. Each of those nights we had to bring in the slides and keep one eye open and one ear awake for the latest information on tornadoes ripping through the area.
So today we were glad LEAVE LUCKY STAR. We got on the road at 8:25 and drove the 210 miles to St. John, KS arriving at 12:40.
It was a pleasant drive seeing not much more along the way than cattle and oil rigs. One interesting town was Pratt, KS. All the streets were brick. Can't imagine how long it took or how many bricks to lay these streets.
On the way out of town I caught a quick shot of these. Now, just how do they do that:)
We are currently at Pine Haven RV Park at St. John, KS. When we arrived we found we were the only guests. We got parked and started to eat lunch when we saw a Motor-home pull in. AHA! Company.
Imagine how delighted we were to see they are also NOMADS. We've never met before but already found they are good friends with a couple we just worked with back in Texas.
The four of us are heading to Pizza Hut tonight for dinner and to get acquainted. Life is full of such pleasant surprises.
So here we are, only two rigs in a lovely little park.
We are dodged the tornadoes in Oklahoma and came to Kansas. Does not make any sense as I remember what happened to Dorothy and Toto.
I am married to the love of my life, Leonard. We met in June 1988 and married one year and 3 days later. We have 5 children between us and 14 grandchildren, 2 great grandsons and a great granddaughter. Fulltime RVing is a great plan for us. I am from New Jersey, he is from Louisiana. We are retired, what better way to visit family in the northeast and in the south but in our own RV! We started our fulltime traveling adventure February 2010.