Friday, June 23, 2017

Views from the Midwest

I grew up in Denver.  For good views I looked to the Rocky Mountains.  The ocean also provides great views.  But there is a lot to see in the Midwest, where we have been traveling the last couple of months.

I love the patterns in the field.

Campgrounds have grain silos on the horizon.

My dad grew up in the Midwest, in Illinois.  He always said the corn needed to be knee high by the 4th of July.  It isn't even July and this corn is at least waist high. In the second photo that field is only about knee high.

These cattle are huddled together in the shade--at least most of them are.  Cattle really have a go-with-the-heard mentality.


A farm house and barn surrounded by many acres of field.

The country has been farmed for a couple of centuries.  We often see broken down, abandoned buildings.

Wide open spaces are everywhere.  And straight, straight roads, sometimes with a few hills along the way.

What beautiful scenes as we travel I-80 and I-70 west across the country.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


It is hard to escape the shadow of Harry S. Truman, 33rd president of the United States, when you visit Independence, Missouri.  We spent 2 nights there on our way west.  Since we had been here before, we didn't visit any of the Truman historic sites.  But the Campus RV Park is right on the edge of downtown Independence so that is where we went on our daily walks.  There is a statue of Truman in front of the Jackson County Courthouse in Independence.  Truman had served as a judge in that courthouse.

Especially after completing his two terms as president, Truman and his wife returned to Independence, where he took long walks.  Those walks became well-known and so both the statue above and flags on city streets show him striding forward.

Clinton's Drug Store in town is where Truman first met Margaret "Bess" Wallace, who he married in 1919.

This beautiful house is now the Serendipity Bed and Breakfast.  We passed it coming and going from the RV park.

This old home is Overfelt-Johnston House, built in 1850.

Also dominating your view is this spire atop and temple of the Community of Christ (formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints).

If we ever return to Independence I would enjoy going to the National Frontier Trails Museum.  The town was where pioneers who traveled the Santa Fe, Oregon and California trails organized and bought the supplies.  It must have been quite a place each spring in the first half of the 1800s.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Family Time

We are traveling from the East Coast to Colorado so it was a great opportunity to visit family. My dad grew up in Illinois and I have a distant cousin living in Iowa that is also interested in genealogy. We met Harry and Marilyn for lunch and had a great time talking and catching up on each other's lives. We haven't seen them for 5 years so we had a lot to catch up on.

John has a number of relatives living in Iowa and we spent 2 days visiting with them.  The first evening we went to Susie and Jim's house for dinner.  The wine and antipasto were delicious.

Then we adjourned to the dining room for a delicious spaghetti dinner.  Cousin Marilyn joined us.  Jim is Italian and he really knows how to make spaghetti and meatballs.  Thanks, Jim.

The next day we went to the senior housing complex where Marilyn lives.  After a good lunch in the dining room, we enjoyed talking in her spacious living room.

Over two days we talked non-stop for 8 hours with these people. Unusual for us, but we had so much fun we had to keep talking.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Long, Long Ago

Before interstate highways, before airline transportation, before the railroad, people and goods traveled on the water. That might have been across an ocean, along the sea coast, or on rivers and canals through the countryside. And that is still true today. We have been on one ocean cruise in the Caribbean and one canal boat trip in Sweden. On this trip, we haven't been on the water but we have seen a canal barge and watched barge traffic on the mighty Mississippi River.

While parked in Utica, Illinois, we went to see the Illinois and Michigan Canal. We learned that between 1836 and 1848 immigrant workers dug the 96-mile I&M Canal by hand. It opened a waterway between the New York harbor and the Gulf of Mexico, making Chicago our country's greatest inland port. Imagine what a difference that made to people in the middle of the country with reliable transportation and easier access to goods coming from the East and Europe as well as from the Gulf of Mexico.  It also opened distant markets to goods from the center of the country. The canal closed in 1933, replaced by larger water-ways, railroads and highways.

There was a photo of 102 barges parked in the near-by LaSalle Basin, waiting to move goods on the canal. Part of the canal has been restored by volunteers and one canal boat is on display. Apparently, some days you can take canal boat rides. This is the restored "Volunteer" canal boat. We didn't take a ride but we did walk along the shady path next to the canal. The boats were pulled by mules and the locks opened and closed by human power.

We also walked along the shady trail along the canal.  I imagine that is where the mules that pulled the canal boats walked.

Our next stop was at a Corps of Engineers' campground on the west bank of the Mississippi, just south of Davenport, Iowa. We could watch barges being pushed up and down the river, full of goods. My cousin said oil, coal and grain are among the goods shipped by barge. Barge tows contain 12 to 15 barges, 3 abreast. Although called a tow, they are pushed by a boat at the rear.

Several years ago we camped by the Arkansas River and saw barge traffic there, as well.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Horse and Buggy Territory

We are in northern Indiana, specifically in Shipshewana. This is the RV capital of the country where many RV manufacturers are located. As we neared the area we saw an increasing number of trailers and motorhomes on the roads and we weren't surprised. Our 5th-wheel trailers were all made in the neighborhood. We aren't far from Ohio where our Airstream was manufactured. But we came here to appreciate the Amish culture and workmanship, so we are seeing lots of horses and buggies. Bicycles are also frequently the mode of travel.

Today we walked a block to E and S Bulk Sales, a nearby Amish market. This was one row of the parking lot. The other day we saw both buggies and trucks at the grain mill.

I didn't realize that buggies needed to be licensed until I really looked at the license plate on them.

Amish farms are well-kept and beautiful. And they don't have electrical lines running to them.

We arrived here Wednesday and when I looked through the events in the area I learned the flea market was only open Tuesday and Wednesday. Those days are shopping days, I read. We visited E and S Sales that day and it was packed. On Thursday we were driving around the area and I decided that was laundry day. Clothes lines in backyards were full of drying laundry. (Sorry about the Colorado State Parks pass in the lower left. I couldn't take the photo without it in the corner.)

We went shopping but we didn't do much buying, except for food. We ate both breakfast and lunch at the Blue Gate Restaurant. Believe me, we didn't need to eat much else on either day.

The people who operate our RV park obviously love birds. Two sites are blocked off with cones. The only reason we can figure out must be that a killdeer has a nest in each site. Look at this little bird.

The shopping area in Shipshewana is beautifully landscaped with lots of flowers.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017


Traveling across the country, we seldom really know what we will get into when we choose an RV park in a new location.  We use and Trailer Life to help us choose, but we still wonder what we will be getting into.  The last couple of campgrounds before this one were OK but not good or great.  At one park, the site wasn't level, the wifi non-existent and the office area a real pig sty.  The  next park family destination with children everywhere and lots of seasonal campers with golf carts who drove up and down the dusty road in front of our site all afternoon and evening.

So yesterday when we checked into the Sauder Village Campground in Archbold, Ohio, we were delighted to find large, grassy sites, good hookups, peace and quiet and a living history farm on the grounds. What a serendipity!

This is the candy counter in the Country Store.  We were glad we didn't have our grandchildren along.  We would have had to buy candy--and I, at least, would have helped them eat it.

The garden has a creative trellis in the vegetable garden.

This is a very old building.  I imagine it was moved to the living history village from somewhere else.  Click on the photo to enlarge it and see how old it is.

The nearby fields are used to grow corn and the birds who built this nest used dried corn husks in their construction.

We checked in to the campground in the lobby of the Sauder Heritage Inn.  This beautiful light fixture hangs from the high ceiling.

Everyone, it seems, has a cell phone today.  However, there are Amish and Mennonite settlements nearby.  Perhaps those folks don't use cell phones.  We used to see phones like this in campgrounds when we first started RVing.  Instructions say use for local calls or use your calling card.

When we drove into Archbold to mail some letters and get fuel for the truck, we walked around the pretty town. I especially like this attractive, well-painted house.

Thursday, June 01, 2017


Do you remember where you were on this day?  We do.  We were in a campground in Staunton, Virginia, talking on the phone to our son Eric.  In the midst of the conversation he said "another plane hit a building."  We asked what was going on and he said turn on the TV.

Over my adult lifetime, our country has faced three significant trauma:  the assignation of President John F. Kennedy, the Oklahoma City bombing and 9/11.  I remember where I was when I heard about each event.  I immediately turned to the TV to watch the events unfold.  During our RV travels, we have visited the 6th floor of the Texas Book Depository where Lee Harvey Oswald stood to shoot Kennedy.  We have visited the Oklahoma Bombing Memorial.  In 2010 we came to New York City to see the site of the twin towers destroyed by planes in 2001.   Here is a link to my post about that visit.  This year when I knew we would be near New York, I knew I wanted to see the Memorial built at that site.

After lunch in Times Square, we took the subway to the site.  On September  11, 2001, a subway stop was located in the basement of one of the towers and it was badly damaged when the buildings collapsed.  Today, the subway comes up nearby in a beautiful shopping complex.

Two pools mark the location of the two towers.  The water flows over the side into a shallow pool then into the center drain.  The wall around the pool list the names of those killed that day, including the first responders who came to help the first victims.

In 2010 we could see a work site like this where the towers had stood.  Today this construction will lead to a new office building.

The 9/11 museum gives a gut-wrenching view of the damage done that day and plays recordings of people describing what they saw when the planes flew into the towers and then when the towers collapsed.  This shows one of the foundation walls of one tower and a girder from one of the buildings, marked by names of the fire units that responded and whose firefighters died in the building collapses.

 This is the radio and TV communication equipment that was on the top of the north tower.

This is the motor of one of the elevator motors in one of the towers.

This fire truck was destroyed when on of the towers collapsed.

It is important to remember what happened to our country that day. If you go to New York it is well worth your time to visit the memorial.