January 20 to February 14, 2014 NOMADS Project, Mercedes, MS

February 15 (Approximately) to June - Gate Guarding, TX or LA.

June, 2014 - Up to Alaska!

September - NOMADS Annual Meeting, Branson, MO

Monday, September 30, 2013

One more great COE Park

Snake Creek Cove  Park
Cookson,  OK

We left Kansas yesterday driving Route 69 south into Oklahoma.   From there we picked up routes 59, 82, 10 and finally 100.   Our drive was a pleasant 227 miles.   We left left the Finn County Park in Ks, one of our new friends came out to say goodbye.

The first hour of the drive was slower than usual due to the dense fog.   This picture does not really show how little ahead we could see.

Once into Oklahoma we drove through a town that was on the route of

We were down to only a half tank of fuel but stopped to top it off when we saw it was $3.62 a gallon.  Least expensive we've encountered since leaving NJ in late August.

Once more I am thrilled with an Army Corps of Engineers Park  (COE).   I had read that this one has electric and water.   But when we arrived we found there are 4 sites with sewer also.   Being a Sunday and late in the season there were two of these sites available.  The cost with our Federal Golden Age Pass is only $10.00 a night.   But wait - there's more.   The full price season ends today.  Tomorrow the rates are on the honor system and only $8.50 a night.   So we paid for last night and tonight.  The campground host was only permitted to register people up until tonight's fee.  Tomorrow we need to up to the registration building, take an envelope and place the money in it along with the site we are inhabiting.   We are here until Thursday.

The park is one of several COE parks on Tenkiller Lake.    The lake is abut 200 feet from where we are parked.  

Just across the lake is the marina.

Last night as we walked around the campground we saw two things of special note.  The first was a persimmon tree.   I told Len to try one and if he didn't pucker up, I would too.  He didn't take me up on that dare.   BTW, how does one determine if the persimmon is ripe?

The other was at the playground.  This table and chair set with a checker board inset.

The fund raiser at the NOMADS annual meeting is always a silent auction and then a live auction.  We won a few things at the silent auction.    We were at the live auction when a men's T Shirt was put up for bid.  Len immediately bid $50.00.  No one upped his bid.   Maybe because when he made the bid, I turned to him and said,  "I told you not to bid on anything"   His shirt:

Friday, September 27, 2013

Interesting area

Finn County Park
La Gygne, KS

Yesterday we got out and about for a while.  First we went to:

The refuge and wildlife area are named for the Marias des Cygnes River.  Marais des Cygnes is French for Marsh of Swans.  It is actually a transaltion of an Osage Indian name for the region "Mixa-chau-tes" that means "where the white swans are plentiful"  Trumpeter and tundra swans are now rare visitors to this area.

We drove through some of the refuge but there was not much to see.  Mostly prairie grass.   Amy, the Ranger at the station suggested we visit two places.  The first is:

In May 1858 a band of pro-slavery sympathizers rode into the area.  They took 11 men captive at gun point. They lined up the men at this site and shot them.  Five died, five were wounded but survived their wounds and one pretended to have been shot and survived without injury.

John Greenlief Whittier wrote a poem about it that was published in the September 1858 issue of Atlantic Monthly.  In July 1858 John Brown build a log fort near the massacre site.  He and his men patrolled the area all summer to prevent further incidents.  Brown was so well thought of in this area that a group of men traveled to Harpers Ferry seeking to have Brown released after his capture by Gen. Robert E Lee.  However, on Dec 2, 1859 Brown was hung for treason.

Browns house is no longer there but this house build shortly after Brown arrived is still standing.

Next we went to:

Inside is chock full of items relating to the history of this area from the beginnings through both World Wars and into today.   The name of the area is actually Trading Post.  Around this site in 1838 a line in the sand was drawn dividing the land to the east for White Settlers.  That line is now Route 69. All U.S. land west of this road were to be Indian Territory for "as long as the grass grew" without the fear of molestation from the White Settlers.  We all know how this ended.

Our tour guide was this gracious lady, Alice Winder.

One can sense her pride of this treasure.

Next to the museum is a cemetery where Civil War casualties and veterans are interred.

In you are ever traveling Route 69, a four lane highway that runs parallel to the Kansas/Missouri border from Kansas City to Oklahoma, stop in to visit the museum.  It is less than one mile from the highway near the town of La Cygne.   The museum is open April 1 through November 7 Tuesday to Saturday from 9 to 5 and Sunday from 11 to 5.  Admission is free but donation appreciated.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Into Kansas

Finn County Park
La Gygne,  KS

We left Iowa yesterday morning heading south on I35 into

Through Kansas City and picked up Route 69 south into:

This park is but a few miles from Route 69 but back a long winding road.

Signs said to register at the Marina.  We drove around until we found the Marina.  However, the office is closed Monday and Tuesday.    The sign said $12.00 for an electric site, $13.00 electric and water and $14.00 for full hooks ups.   Thinking we've splurge for the FHU.

We've only had full hook ups for a few days in the last 4 months.   Now to find the full hook ups.   There are at least 100 sites spread out all over the area.   But only 8 or 9 full hook ups which someone standing in front of their site directed us to.  Only one was not occupied.   We'll take it and find someone in the morning to settle up.   Which we did.   Decided to stay here until Sunday.

As we were setting set up we had a visitor come to watch.

I guess we were so interesting that this morning she bought along a friend.

Needing fuel and a WalMart stop, we drove 25 miles to the nearest WalMart this morning to Butler, MO.     WOW!   Don't want to mess with these people.

Weather is beautiful.   A few days to relax and explore the area.    We see there is a National Wildlife Refuge about 10 miles away.   That's for tomorrow.

Monday, September 23, 2013

So, what it is?

Prairie Flower Campground
COE Park
near Saylorville Lake, Iowa

We still are enjoying this park.  Over the weekend it looked like this:

Today like this:

In the park is a portion of the

The Neal Smith trail starts in downtown Des Moines and travels 26 miles to Big Creek State Park.  Most of it follows the route of the Des Moines river.

Being lovely weather we set out yesterday and took a walk.  As Len's gout was acting up again, we didn't go far.   Today we started again and did a bit better.  We passed this milepost of the trail.

 No we did not walk 18 miles.  I said we passed this post!   Get real.

Shortly after the milepost we took the wooded path.

Passing by a small pond

Now for the my question of the day.  Can you nature lovers tell us about this nut?

From this tree?

Many cracked shells on the ground and obvious dug up holes in the dirt where they are being stored.

Tomorrow we head out.  Going to go about 255 miles into Kansas to La Gygne.   There is a county park with RV sites where we hope to settle for two nights.

Time to heat up the soup I made earlier today and enjoy our last night here in Iowa.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Found another GEM

Prairie Flower 
COE Campground
Saylorville Lake, Iowa

We left Wisconsin mid morning yesterday arriving at this lovely COE park a little after 2.

From the looks of it we thought we would be among just a few folks here.  I had reserved a site and so glad I did.  

By mid day today the place is packed.  We talked to the couple next to us.  They called for reservations yesterday morning and were told only 4 sites left in the 243 site park.   There are 4 or 5 other COE campgrounds in the vicinity around the lake.  This is the largest one.  Others range from 69 sites to 124.

What is unusual about this park is the layout of the majority of the sites.   Unlike ours which is a typical RV site, there are 10 loops designated for group camping.  The smallest loop is for 4 rigs; the largest the 14.  The rigs are parked in a circle on the loop with a sheltered pavilion in the center.   All loops were in use by this afternoon.

Earlier today we took a ride into town as we were having mail forwarded from our mail forwarding service.  I looked on the USPS website and got the Zip Code for Saylorville, which I told our service to send our mail to under General Delivery.  I've never before had a problem with this system.  So, we went to find Saylorville Post Office.  THERE IS NONE!   We found a mail carrier and asked about the nearest post office.  We explained to her that we had mail sent GENERAL DELIVERY to 50313.   She directed us to the Post office she carries out of and told us they delever the mail for 50313 and 50316.

We found the post office.   THEY NO NOT ACCEPT GENERAL DELIVERY.  They told us to go to the main post office in Des Moines.   A nice lady there said if the other post office receives General Delivery mail with that Zip Code they will forward to them in Des Moines.   So, we hope it will be in Des Moines on Monday as we planned on leaving the area Tuesday.  If not, well we can stay a few days more I suppose.

Then this afternoon we took a ride around the lake area.

The Dam.

A popular fishing area

Drove by a marina that was chock full of House Boats.  How cool are these!

While on the road at the dam we saw these birds flying overhead.  They looked like they were going to get into formation but never did.   At first we thought they were Snow Geese, but don't think so.  They were a distance and we couldn't quite make them out.   Maybe Pelicans?     Judy?  Can you help?  

Weather is great.   Lots of hiking trails in the area.  Will avail ourselves to one of them tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Yuk! So we moved on.

Blackhawk Park  COE
De Soto,  WI

After the maximum time permitted to park FOR FREE (3 days) at Rainbow Casino in Nekoosa, WI it was time to move on.    Our plan was to stay in the area but move to Deer Trail Campground a short 6 miles away.

But first on Sunday we attended the United Methodist Church in nearby Port Edward.  Then we met up with two former co-workers on mine at the Applebees in Wisconsin Rapids.   Mike is on the left, Pat on the right.

During my working life, I was an Human Resource Professional.  In 1998 the company I was working for was acquired by the company they worked for along with other properties throughout the country.  Mike was the HR Manager in Wisconsin, Pat the corporate HR Director.

Unfortunately in 2000 our NJ plant was closed and eventually all other sites.    Over the years Mike and I have occasionally emailed.  I've had no contact with Pat since the closing.   So, when we found ourselves in Wisconsin it was a perfect time to catch up.   I have also maintained contact with the Benefits Manager.  But lucky girl that she is, she and her hubby are part time RVers.  They are currently on the west coast.  Would have loved seeing her too.

After spending about two hours together and getting mostly caught up in each others lives, it was time for us to say so-long and head back to the casino to hook up and move the 6 miles.   

We pulled into the campground at 2:10 and found the office closed at 2.   A phone number was posted on the door.  I called the number and the woman told me to pick out a site and see her in the morning.  We drove around looking for a site.   The campground offered water and electric only.  Glad the office was closed and he did not pay for a site.

Neither of us liked the campground at all.  Lots of permanent rigs and the whole place looked shabby.  As there was no sewer we decided to empty our gray tanks.  While emptying, we got to talking.  "Hey, Len" I said, "it's only 110 miles back to Blackhawk, feel like driving back?"  YUP! he said.

So here we are back here.   Felt like coming home.   From our experience, can't beat most Corps of Engineers parks.   We've learned to live without sewer and water for longer than we thought we could.  Just have to conserve what we can carry on board.   

We sat around all day yesterday.  Today we took a nice ride through the countryside, did the laundry, a little bit of grocery shopping and had a nice lunch.     Now it is raining.    Coming down pretty good.  

From my desk here in the RV I am looking out at a trailer with an old couple sitting under their awning.   They have a campfire going.   I can always tell the part timers from full timers.   Here we are snug in the rig, campfires are okay but only went it's suitable weather.   Always amazes us to see campers with a campfire going and it's 90+ degrees out.  Go figure!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Something stinky here

Nekoosa, Wisconsin

We left Blackhawk COE park yesterday and drove only 110 miles.    Some of the drive was on I90 but a good amount of it was back roads such as this one:

An easy drive.  As we got closer to our destination it started to look more and more like certain areas of my home state of New Jersey.   NJ is the 3rd largest supplier of cranberries behind Massachusetts and Wisconsin.   We call them cranberry bogs in NJ, they call them marshes here.

Seems its time to flood the berries preparing for harvest.

For the next three days we are at

This little casino has 8 RV sites with 30 amp electric hook ups.   Maximum stay three days - FREE!    We were the only rig here but about 2 hours later another parked and we now see a third.  

Last night it got down to the 40's.   We turned on the heater for the first time ever this morning.  A while later we started getting the whiff of something nasty.  Smells like something dead.   We can smell it in various parts of the kitchen but not in the bedroom or bathroom.    Strange.    We've opened windows and sprayed.  The smell comes and goes, sometimes stronger.   We've not run the heater since early this morning.

We've opened each storage compartment.  No smells there.   Len is doing some investigating as I write.  EEEWWWW!  Just got another blast of it.     He sprayed air freshener down a vent and put a fan in front of it.  The smell coming up from the other vents is the spray.   The smell is coming up in areas there is not a floor vent.   He opened the heater compartment.  Tiny little thing.  No way could something get into it.

What the heck?   Wasn't in the heater or storage compartment.   It was in our trash can!   I just almost lost my lunch.

Our rig has what looks like a closet door.  Open it and two trash cans pull out.  Can 't imagine what it is.   I had emptied both right before we left to come here yesterday.   There is nothing I threw in it that would give a smell like that.   Regardless, I'm not opening either bag again to find out what it is.  

The heater is next to the trash cans.   When the heater came on it sucked the smell out and blew it through the vents.    Now to figure out where to get rid of this trash.  No trash cans outside here at the casino.  We have a dilemma.  But I can rest and not worry about the stench.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Great River Road

Blackhawk Park COE
De Soto, WI

We left the park today and headed north on the Great River Road on the eastern side of the Mississippi River.   We find the bridges across the Mississippi are few and far between.  We drove to La Cross and crossed over into Minnesota via this bridge.

Once in Minnesota we headed back south on The Great River Road on the western side of the Mississippi.  The road hugs the river and provides several pull offs to allow viewing of the surroundings.

Continuing on the road we left Minnesota behind and entered into Iowa.  Our drive took us through New Alpin where we attended church on Sunday and then Lansing where we had crossed into Iowa on that day.  We decided to continue on the river road past Lansing.

Along this road were several construction areas of one way traffic.  Twice we had to stop and wait and for a pilot car to lead us through.  On the way down an attractive young woman who was holding the "Stop" or "Slow" sign talked to us during our wait.  She explained they are building a bicycle path along this road. On the way back she was at another location.  She said they work one hour standing and 1/2 hour driving the Pilot Car.

We continued on through a few small villages until we came to Harpers Ferry, Ia.   Wondering if this town was named after the town of the same name in West Virginia.    In Harpers Ferry we visited the Effigy Mounds, a National Monument under the National Park Service.

The visitors center:

Over 1,400 years ago Indians began to build effigy mounds from just west of the Upper Mississippi River to Lake Michigan's western shore.  More than 2,500 years ago the mounds are more conical. They might have been religious sites or clan symbols.  Some show evidence of fire.  Building of mounds stopped about 850 years ago.  Surveys of northeastern Iowa in the 1800's and early 1900's indicated a presence of over 10,000 mounds.  Fewer than 1,000 have survived.  Effigy Mounds National Monument was established in 1949.  The name Effigy comes from the fact that several mounds are in the shape of birds and animals.

There are several hiking trails leading from the visitor center.   We walked about a mile on this handicapped accessible boardwalk.   A mile was about all we could do - the temperature was 97!

On the drive to the mounds we passed by a church that I wanted to get a closer look at on the way back.  It reminded me of churches we had seen in Ireland.

When we stopped and I saw the sign in front of the church I knew I was right.

Wexford!    Doesn't that sound Irish?    In 1851 Rev. Thomas Hore and 1,200 parishioners settled this area, founded the church and named it after their home in Ireland.

Our drive back to the campground took us once more over the bridge at Lansing, IA into Wisconsin.  The wait can be as long as 8 minutes waiting for one way traffic to change directions.  

Almost to the campground I noticed a bird soaring above.  Then I saw it's white head and realized it was a Bald Eagle.  What a treat.

As we pulled into the campground we saw this tug pushing barges 3 wide and 5 deep up the river.  Another treat.

Tomorrow it's laundry and preparing to move to our next destination on Thursday.