Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Not All Who Wander Are Lost
January 17, 2017 - Florida Keys

Sunday, April 21, 2013

What Kind of Spring is This?

We’ve been back in Wisconsin for almost a week, and I’ve barely been outside. I’ve definitely become spoiled. I just can’t stand cold weather anymore.

Almost every day has been cold with highs in the 30s. Southeastern Wisconsin is on track for having the wettest April on record. It’s rained most of the days we’ve been back, and just for fun some days there have been snow flurries mixed in. Don’t forget about the winds, gusting several days to over 30 miles per hour.

Okay, enough complaining about the weather. Much of the country is experiencing cold spring weather. At least we haven’t had accumulating snow or flooding where we are. I really want to get out walking again, but I’m not a gluten for punishment!

Cathryn’s aunt and uncle work camp in Minnesota in the summer. They happened to be at the same campground we were at in Omaha waiting for the snow to melt in Minnesota so they could get into their campground. They are still waiting in Omaha.

When we arrived at our spot on Tuesday, Mike the park foreman came to turn on the water for us. The pressure was very low and he discovered there was a hole in the pipe by the well. So, Kevin filled our water tank (it took an hour with the low pressure) and we’re not hooked up to the water for now. They are supposed to be fixing it this week. It’s probably a good thing we’re not hooked up anyway with all this cold weather.

Last Wednesday we went to my mom’s to pick up our car which we store in her garage while we’re gone for the winter. It started up great, but as Kevin pulled out of the garage the brake pedal went to the floor. Seems the brake line broke. He called the dealership he used to work at, and they arranged to have it towed in. They have fixed the brake lines and did an oil change as long as it was there. We’re picking it up tomorrow.

We also stopped at our son Eric’s house to pick up our mail from the winter. Almost all of it was junk mail. There was one $50 check that made me happy.

Every year on the news they have a story about how every state has uncollected money. Each year I look, and our names are never on the list. To my surprise, this year my name was on the list for $50 due from Chase Bank for a credit card we used to have. I had cancelled the card due to their ridiculous fees. Somehow, we were due $50 from them. I filled out the forms online, and the check was waiting for us. Don’t you just love found money!!

I was so grateful that we had an uneventful trip from Texas to Wisconsin. But, when we were setting up Kevin found that our rear jacks must have bottomed out in the driveway of Burlington RV as we were leaving. The electrical cord was damaged and part of the jacks need to be welded.

He removed the whole jack assembly yesterday and is taking it to his friend’s shop tomorrow to be welded. Then Kevin will fix the wiring and hopefully we’ll have working rear jacks. It sure feels like we’ve had our share of stuff breaking this year. Maybe 2013 is bad luck!

However, our problems are minor. When I watch the stories from Boston and Texas I am reminded to be grateful for the blessings we have in our life such as following our dreams, good health and wonderful family and friends!

I’ve been doing some sewing and we’ve run some errands. Tomorrow Kevin starts his job as park caretaker. There is definitely no need for grass cutting yet, but there are lots of branches and leaves that need to be cleaned up in the park.

We were certainly shocked when a young couple came in Wednesday night and asked if they could camp. They had a tent!! We told them yes, but the shower building is closed due to the lack of water. Only the vault toilets are open.

They stayed for three nights in that tent. One of those nights was extremely windy with lows in the 20s. Crazy!!

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

We’re Baaack!

We left Wisconsin just over six months ago on October 8th. Today we are back at our summer camp hosting spot on Beaver Dam Lake. Wisconsin definitely still feels like home.

We’re grateful that we had a safe and uneventful drive back from Texas. No blown tires or objects in the road. It was a good trip with decent driving weather.

Our final day in Omaha was last Friday. The Omaha Storm Chasers AAA minor league baseball team had their home opener on that night. They were playing the Nashville Sounds, which is a minor league team for the Milwaukee Brewers. Korey and Cathryn were planning to go to the game and invited us to go with them.

The Storm Chasers home field is Werner Park, built just three years ago. It’s a very nice ball park that seats just over 6,000 people. Our seats were only $10 and were a few rows behind the first base dugout. It reminded us a lot of spring training games.

Werner Park Game

Let me tell you it was cold. Temps at game time were in the mid 30s with a pretty good breeze. By the end of the game it was 30 degrees, but at least the wind had calmed down.

Even though it was cold, we had a good time. Our team did not look like they wanted to be out on the field and ended up losing 6-5. There was a nice fireworks display after the game.

We left Omaha on Saturday morning and drove about 4.5 hours to Amana, Iowa. We stayed at the Amana RV Park using our Passport America discount on a FHU 50 amp, level, pull-through site for $17. Other than a few work campers, we were the only ones in the park, so the wi-fi was smoking fast! We also took advantage of their laundry room. They had the lowest prices we encountered all winter at $1 to wash and 50 cents to dry.

An added benefit was spending a few hours on Sunday walking around Amana. I am a big fan of the Ackermann Winery and was able to stock up. If you bought a case of twelve, you saved $1 per bottle. Being the frugal person I am, it was necessary to buy a case to save some money. I love their cranberry wine, but still had a few bottles left. I ended up with some new flavors for me including blackberry, plum, cherry and a sweet grape. That should last me for a while.

We also visited the German bakery where I enjoyed a tasty piece of blackberry strudel. Next, we made our way to the Millstream microbrewery. It was a nice day with temps in the 60s so we sat on their patio where Kevin enjoyed a tasty Windmill Wheat beer. He also purchased a sampler twelve pack to take home.

Monday we drove to Burlington RV to get an estimate for our roof repairs. We spent Monday night in their parking lot and that brings us to arriving in Beaver Dam today.

Parks foreman Mike was here when we arrived getting the water turned on for us. Things are pretty wet around here. Between the snowy winter and rainy spring, the area has totally recovered from last summer’s drought. I guess the powers that be didn’t get the memo since heavy rain is predicted for the next three days. Oh well, it will warm up eventually.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Brrrrr!!!

The weather has certainly not cooperated with our visit to Omaha. Since Tuesday, the highs have been in the 30s, lows in the 20s and very windy with rain, sleet and even a little snow mixed in. Not conducive to exploring outside. But, we are not alone. The entire Midwest has had terrible weather this week. We were very lucky to avoid the severe storms and hail that pounded much of our surrounding area on Tuesday night.

As I look out the windows, I see Robins, Red Winged Blackbirds, Blue Jays, ducks and geese out there. I bet they wish they’d stayed further south for a while longer! Yesterday morning there was even a little snow accumulation on the ground when we got up.

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On Wednesday evening Korey invited us over for dinner. He and Cathryn live in the same building. She lives one floor above him with her roommate. Her roommate is graduating so that will work out well for everyone as Korey will just be moving up one floor in August after the wedding.

Cathryn helped with the cooking. They made honey mustard chicken, a sweet potato and apple side dish and quinoa. It was all very delicious!

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After dinner Cathryn and I (with a little input from Korey) went through the photo files on my computer and picked out some pictures of Korey as a child for a slideshow her mom is putting together for the wedding. That brought back some great memories, and we had some laughs!

Yesterday we drove about 20 miles to Ashland to meet up with Korey after he got off of work. He works at Carol Joy Holling Camp, Conference and Retreat Center. This is the main retreat center building. It is like a very nice hotel with several conference rooms and hotel style bedrooms. In the winter Korey works here as a host. The center is rented out most every weekend to groups such as scrap bookers, quilters and church groups.

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Korey drove us around the grounds. It is a very large camp with four different areas for youth summer camp groups. They have two ropes courses. This is the one for the younger kids. The one for the older kids was higher and bigger. Yikes! In the summer Korey will be working on the ropes course. He’s looking forward to that!

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Cathryn was busy last night so Korey followed us back to the fifth wheel where I made dinner for us. I tried a new gluten free recipe for Parmesan chicken. Normally I coat the chicken with Shake and Bake. This time I crunched up corn tortilla chips for the coating. It was good, but Kevin and I like the Shake and Bake a bit better. At least Korey could eat this version.

After dinner we played a game and visited a bit. Tonight we’re going to the home opener of the Omaha minor league baseball team, the Omaha Storm Chasers. They are playing the Milwaukee Brewers minor league team, the Nashville Sound. It’s supposed to be in the low 40s and windy. I hope I have enough layers to wear to keep warm!

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

An Enjoyable Day With The Kids

Korey had the day off yesterday and was kind enough to spend it with us. It was a pretty nice day so he came over around noon, and we walked the 5k paved path around the small lakes in the park. This is such a nice community park. I sure enjoyed seeing these daffodils.

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One of the perks to this lifestyle is that we get to experience spring a couple of times. We saw some beautiful spring flowers in Texas and many of the trees had sprouted leaves. As we drove through Oklahoma we saw many red bud trees as well as some daffodils and tulips. In Kansas and Nebraska the trees do not have leaves yet, but some spring flowers are in bloom. Once we get back to Wisconsin, it will probably be a few weeks before we see spring flowers.

P1140330After a brisk walk, we sat outside and enjoyed the weather for a while. Then we picked up Cathryn (she had class during the day) and they took us to Creighton University so we could see where  she is doing her graduate work. Here’s the happy couple outside of the main building she spends most of her time at.

Creighton is a private Catholic college. They have a beautiful church on campus.

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The campus is near downtown Omaha so we went to dinner at a The Upstream Brewing Company in the heart of town. It looks like it is in a converted warehouse building with brick walls. Omaha has done a nice job of revamping their inner city. There is an area called Old Market with lots of shops and restaurants that looks like a busy and trendy area. We had a good dinner and Kevin enjoyed the wheat beer.

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Today the weather has really turned nasty. Highs were only in the low 40s with lots of rain and wind. Unfortunately, the rest of the week looks like it will be cold, but the rain is supposed to stop on Thursday. Korey and Cathryn are busy today, but have invited us over for dinner tomorrow night.

Korey found out last year that he has Celiac disease, so they will be cooking some gluten free dishes for us. I’m looking forward to trying some new recipes.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Monday, April 8, 2013

We’ve Arrived in Nebraska

We spent the last three days on the road traveling from Texas to Nebraska. I am so happy to report that all three days were smooth sailing with very nice weather and no problems!

We are members of Passport America. Staying at their parks has provided us with some very good campground savings over the three years we’ve been fulltiming. However, their member parks can be an adventure. I use several online sites to check reviews of campgrounds, but sometimes you still get a dud.

Friday night we stayed at Cedar Valley RV Park about six miles off of I-35 in Guthrie, Oklahoma. We had a FHU, 50 amp, pull-thru site for $15. The campground is well cared for and a great spot for a night or two. They have a clean laundry room, and only charge $1 each to wash and dry. So, we took advantage of that and did three loads. They also had free wi-fi that worked well.

Saturday night we stayed at Lakeside Recreation park in Assaria, Kansas a few miles off of I-135. There weren’t a lot of campground choices in Kansas. This park didn’t have the best reviews online, but they weren’t terrible. I think the place has seen better days in the past. Now it is just a dump. There is a 1.5 mile gravel road to get to it. They advertise FHU 30 amp pull-through sites. Only one of those sites had working utilities. The others had garbage bags over the power post or had water that wasn’t working. There are a handful of permanent residents and that’s it. The bathhouse was locked. The advertised free wi-fi was down according to one of the residents. The cost was also $15. Oh well, you win some and you lose some.

Sunday we arrived at Walnut Creek Rec Area in Papillion, Nebraska about 10 miles outside of Omaha. We’re here to visit our son Korey and his fiancĂ© Cathryn. What a pleasant surprise this campground turned out to be.

It is owned by the city of Papillion and has electric only sites for $16 per night. We have a 50 amp site right next to a small lake. All of the pads are concrete and plenty big enough for a large rig. In fact, there are quite a few big rigs staying here. It is a super well maintained park in a beautiful setting. There are three water hydrants in the park to fill your tank. We’re here for six nights so will not have a problem with our tanks filling up.

Here’s the view outside our back window. I woke up early this morning and was able to enjoy a beautiful sunrise.

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Korey and Cathryn came over for dinner last night. We had a nice visit with lots of wedding chatter. We played a card game and then they had to leave. Cathryn had a test to study for.

Just a little bragging about Cathryn. She is a wonderful young lady who is in her second year of the Doctorate of Occupational Therapy program at Creighton University. Saturday night they had their Spring Banquet. She won both top student awards, one from the professors and one from her fellow students. We couldn’t be more proud of her!!

Korey is settling into his new job here in Omaha. He’s not totally loving it, but it’s a decent paycheck and allowed him to move closer to his sweetheart. Its only for two years until she finishes her program.

Today’s forecast is for 78 degrees. Tomorrow a cold front comes through with rain and highs predicted to be only in the 40s for a few days.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Ray Roberts Lake State Park

We’ve spent the last three days at Ray Roberts State Park in northern Texas, about 45 miles from the Oklahoma border, six miles off I-35. This is a very nice park.

Too bad the weather has been lousy. It’s been rainy with highs in the 40s the whole time. Today was the coldest April day since 2007. With the drought conditions, the rain is very welcome. But, it could have waited a few more days :)

We’re at the Johnson Branch area of the park. The lake is huge and there are actually a couple of sections to this state park. We’re in site #87 in the Walnut camping loop. The site is a paved pull-through with 50 amp electric and water. There are no sewer sites and no wi-fi in the park.

This is the view out of our back window. Very nice.

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Today it was still cloudy, but at least the rain stopped. I bundled up in my parka, put up my hood, and we took an hour long walk. There is a very nice three mile long wide concrete walking/biking path that meanders through the park. Since it was pretty muddy out, the concrete path was great.

Texas has many wonderful state parks. The problem with staying at them is they charge you the camping fee plus the daily park user fee. Camping fees range from $20 to $28 per night. Daily use fees range from $4 to $7 per person, per day. That just makes it too expensive. The only way to make it economically justifiable to stay at any of them is to buy the annual pass for $70. That’s pretty pricey, but it gets you into any of the parks without paying the daily fee and gives you four nights of 1/2 price camping at four different parks. We feel it was worth it buying the annual pass.

Other than that we’ve been playing games, browsing on our computers and watching TV. I’m happy our mi-fi and satellite work great here.

Another bit of bad luck has attacked us. Kevin’s Compaq laptop, which is about three years old, has decided to act up. The screen is black. It happened once before, but I was able to get it working again. This time it seems the screen does not want to come back to life. We’ll probably just end up getting a new one.

Hmmm, my Toshiba is about 5 or 6 years old, but still works just fine. Maybe I’ll get a new one and he can have mine. Sounds good, don’t you think!

Tomorrow morning we leave Texas. We’ve made some great memories this winter in this very large state. But, I don’t think we’ll ever winter in Texas again.

I really enjoyed the many types of birds we saw, especially in the Rio Grande Valley. The flock of hundreds of green parakeets that came to our campground in Mission was a site I’ll never forget. We also enjoyed our time on the gulf coast, watching dolphins and sea turtles. Exploring the Hill Country was fun, and we did get to see some bluebonnets.

The weather was okay. It is definitely not as sunny as it is in Arizona. It seems there are many areas of Texas where the predominant language is Spanish which we don’t speak. Grocery shopping was an interesting experience. If you expect to see longhorn steer, cowboys and oil wells around every corner, you will be disappointed. We saw very little of any of those. We were surprised that many of the locals we met didn’t have the strong Texas southern accent we were expecting.

Those are just a few of our observations of Texas. I’m not saying it’s a bad place to go, as shown by the many Winter Texans that come back year after year. It just wasn’t so much to our liking. Next year our plan is to explore the Gulf Coast during the winter months.

Tomorrow night we’ll be in Oklahoma, the next night in Kansas and then Sunday we’ll be near Omaha, Nebraska where we’ll visit with our son Korey and his fiancĂ© Cathryn. I’m so excited to see them again. We have lots of wedding details to discuss!

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Dinosaur Valley State Park

We’ve been off the grid without internet access since last Friday. I wrote this post on March 30th, and am finally able to post it today.

We arrived at Cleburne State Park on Friday afternoon after about a three hour drive. I’ve forgotten what a state park is like on a holiday weekend. We probably should have chosen a private park for the Easter weekend. There are lots of noisy children and dogs, people walking through our site and just general chaos.

Cedar Lake is located in this park. It’s a small lake with a beach. There are also quite a few campsites. We have a FHU 30 amp back in site. There are lots of trees so we could not get a satellite signal. Luckily, we got TV channels with the antenna as it is another March Madness weekend. Kevin would have been very unhappy if he couldn’t watch the games. We also can’t get any cell or mi-fi signals, so no internet. We rely a lot on technology, so we would not stay here again. We’re leaving Tuesday morning and will just have to deal with it. I admit I am a bit of an internet junkie :)

On Saturday we went to Dinosaur Valley State Park, about 15 miles from our campground. I had read online that there are actual dinosaur tracks at the park and was interested in seeing them.

Using our Texas Park Pass we did not have to pay the $7 per person entrance fee. We got a map and went exploring. The first thing you see are two huge dinosaur statues. Notice Kevin is reading one of the signs, so you can see how big these guys are.

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These statutes were built for the New York World’s Fair in 1964 and paid for by The Sinclair Oil Company. I’m sure many of you remember seeing the green one on gas station signs. In 1970 Sinclair donated them to this park. The guy on the left was known for many years as a Brontosaurus. It turns out that was incorrect.

In the early days of dinosaur excavating, there were two men who were fierce rivals. They would do anything to beat out the other guy. One of them uncovered the skeleton of an Apatosaurus but it didn’t have a head. He put a different dinosaur’s head on it and claimed he had discovered a new species which he named Brontosaurus. The error was accepted by the scientific community and not discovered for many years. Interesting!

The Apatosaurus was one of the largest land animals that ever lived. It was 75 feet long and weighed 33 tons and roamed Western North America.

The one on the left is the Tyrannosaurus Rex. We’ve all seen him in the movies. Neither of these dinosaurs actually lived in this part of Texas, but they make for a nice display.

We climbed down some rock stairs to the river to the first track viewing area. Honestly, if I didn’t know they were there, I would have never guessed there were dinosaur tracks beneath the surface of the water. They just look like big holes. These tracks were made by a Theropod.

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Our next stop was also another site along the river. Some tracks were in the water and some were in a roped off area of mud and dirt.

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The bigger rounded tracks were made by a Pleurocoelus. I think this park would have been much better if there were more signs and markers pointing to the tracks. There are signs at the top of the riverbank, but when you get down there, you don’t really know where to look or what you are looking for.

We drove through the campground to see what it was like. The roads are quite narrow and there are lots of low trees. This is definitely not a campground for big rigs.

I saw a story on the news that the Texas legislators have taken two-thirds of money designated for the state parks to pay for other stuff. Figures. Although the state parks we have visited are nice, you can see they could use more funding. Most trails are not well marked, and grass needs to be mowed in all of them. They’re just looking a little rough around the edges.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!