Not All Who Wander Are Lost

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

Monday, April 28, 2014

Finally Done Moving

I spent most of last week moving all of our stuff back into the new fifth wheel. It is great that the campground where we camp host has a building where we could store our stuff. That way we could take our time and figure out where we wanted to put things.

I’m happy to say everything is now back inside. Kevin is still working on the basement storage. He’s getting some more storage containers to try and organize the compartment better. I did the same on the inside. Some of the storage bins I had in the previous unit did not fit in the new cabinets. So, after a couple of trips to the store, I now have everything pretty much arranged to my satisfaction.

The closet is advertised as a walk-in closet. I’d say that’s a bit of a stretch, but there are shelves behind the closet poles, which I have filled with items we don’t use frequently. Once the clothes are hung, those shelves are not that easy to access, but they are full of items like our dress shoes, extra bedding and Christmas and fall decorations.

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P1150793The bathroom has quite a bit more storage than our old unit had, and I’ve managed to fill all the cabinets. There are more cabinets over the toilet, but I couldn’t get the whole bathroom into one picture. I wasn’t sure how I would like the vessel sink. It looks nice, but would it be practical. So far, I am liking it. It does not show water spots as much as I thought it would.

The kitchen area does not have quite as much storage as our old unit did, but after some trial and error, we’ve managed to find a home for everything. I am loving the larger refrigerator!!

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We found the four chairs around the table felt too tight, so we’ve put one of the chairs in the bedroom, giving us some more elbow room around the table.

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Here’s the living room. I am loving all the windows.

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Our old unit did not have a heat pump, and we are really liking that feature. Unfortunately, the weather has been quite cold and damp since we’ve been back in Wisconsin. The heat pump is saving us on propane costs. Both the furnace and air conditioner are much quieter in this new unit.

Also, we now have dual pane windows which really seem to be helping in keeping out the cold and noise. Yesterday we had winds over 25 mph, and I heard almost no wind noise. We chose not to get slide toppers on this unit, and I am so pleased with that decision. The wind noise has been reduced to almost nothing. I hated the noise those toppers made on windy days. We don’t often camp in wooded areas. If we do, we’ll make sure the slides are free of debris before pulling them in.

So, overall we are very pleased with this new unit. There are a few things our old unit had that I wish this new one had. We had a small decorative oval window over the refrigerator in the kitchen slide that did a great job of letting in more natural light. They no longer have those windows in the new units. I really liked it. Also, our cabinets are darker and the windows are more deeply tinted. That makes it feel darker inside, but I’m getting used to just turning on more lights during the day. Of course, if the sun ever decides to come back out, that would help!!

Just a reminder, if any of you need to purchase anything from Amazon, I’d really appreciate it if you would access the Amazon site through the link on this blog near the top right hand side. For every order placed through our link, we earn a small commission. So far, we’ve earned a little bit, and every little bit helps! Thanks for your support!!

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

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter

We wish everyone a Happy Easter!

Easter Tiles Stock Photo

We’ve been back in Wisconsin for almost a week, and we haven’t stopped running. This is too hectic, time to slow down some.

We left Omaha last Sunday and drove 4.5 hours to Amana, Iowa in a heavy rain with strong winds. We probably should have waited a day, but we had lots of appointments set up in Wisconsin and wanted to get here by Monday.

Monday we arrived at our camphosting park to cold temperatures. They turned on the water for us to fill our tank and then shut it back off due to below freezing temps at night all week. Tuesday we stopped by to look at our new fifth wheel. It looked great, so we confirmed our appointment to pick it up on Thursday at 1 pm. We had several errands to run so didn’t get back home until late afternoon on Tuesday.

Wednesday we spent all day unloading our old fifth wheel. Our campground has an enclosed shelter that people can rent. That came in very handy as we put all of our stuff in there. We filled twelve picnic tables with stuff. I didn’t realize how much stuff we had. I did fill a large plastic bag with stuff to donate and threw some stuff away. Always good to do some spring cleaning.

Thursday morning we finished emptying the rest of our stuff, and we drove off to pick up our new home. They did the walk through with us, and we were back at our spot by 4 pm. The auto-leveling system is great! Kevin got the outside stuff hooked up including the satellite. I made the bed and brought in stuff we would need in the morning. We were quite tired and slept very well in our new bed. The mattress is much more comfortable than the one we had on our previous bed.

Our new home is a Jayco Pinnacle 36REQS, about 41 feet long with four slides.

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Kevin had plans to golf with a friend on Friday, so I spent all day finding room for our clothes and kitchen items. Its kind of like a puzzle, making everything fit in the best spot. I’m sure I’ll be doing some rearranging as we go, but I think I did a pretty good job. I was worried there would be less storage, but I think there is actually more, just configured differently. Now to remember where I put everything.

Yesterday morning I did a big grocery shopping trip. We hadn’t bought much before so we would have less to transfer. I’m happy to say that our bigger refrigerator has all the food in it with room to spare!!! That makes me very happy.

Yesterday afternoon we played nine holes of golf with our friends Dave and Judy. I hadn’t played all winter, so was quite rusty. Hopefully, after a few rounds my game with improve again. Even though it wasn’t a great round, we had a great time with great friends on a windy but nice spring afternoon.

Today we have family plans and next week Kevin starts his caretaker job at the park. We still need to get haircuts, have our vehicles serviced and finish putting our stuff back in our new home. Whew, this pace is too hectic. Reminds me of when we used to have a house and full time jobs. I sure don’t miss that busy lifestyle. I’m ready to slow down again.

But, it was so worth it to have this new home. I’m really loving it. I’ll post more pictures next week when the inside is ready for viewing.

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

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Boys Town

Walnut Creek Rec Area RV Park, Papillion, Nebraska

Yesterday we visited the village of Boys Town on the west side of Omaha. I’m sure most of you know of the 1938 movie starring Spencer Tracy and Mickey Rooney that brought the attention of the world to what Father Flanagan was doing for boys in a small farming village in Nebraska. The movie won an Oscar for best screen play and Spencer Tracy won the Oscar for best actor. He donated his award to Father Flanagan and the school.

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Although Father Flanagan died in 1948, his work lives on and continues to grow. Boys Town has 550 students, pretty equally divided between boys and girls. Yes, girls have been attending since 1979.

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Father Flanagan believed there was no such thing as a bad boy, only bad environments, bad examples, bad training and bad thinking. His philosophy is still being practiced today. The youth currently attending are between the ages of 10 and 17 and spend an average of two years at the school. Most of them have been abused or neglected, have at least one parent still alive, and are two to three years behind in school. Some are reunited with their families, others stay until they graduate. There is also vocational training so they have a skill when they leave.

They live in a group home of eight students with a highly trained married couple as their leaders. They attend school, are required to do chores, have spiritual guidance in whatever religious belief they have, participate in fun activities, and are taught to love others and themselves.

In addition to the main facility in Omaha, they now have satellite centers in 17 states and a 24 hour national hotline. There is also a hospital on the grounds in Omaha which also serves the surrounding community.

Many of the buildings were built in the 1940s, but they are in excellent shape. The grounds are very clean and everything looks fantastic. We did a self-guided audio tour. For $5 you can rent a CD that tells you about Boys Town and guides you on a driving tour around the grounds.

We stopped at the History Museum and saw a short video and viewed the exhibits. Then we walked over to the Catholic church to see where Father Flanagan is buried. You can also tour his home, but it was closed yesterday. The tour was interesting and informative. I was quite impressed with the work they are doing and think it is a great model for helping our youth. I wish other communities would learn from the success at Boys Town.

At the visitor center you can see a ball made entirely out of stamps that is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the World’s largest ball of stamps. It is 32 inches in diameter, weighs 600 pounds and has over 4.6 million stamps on it. It was started by students in the stamp collecting club at Boys Town in 1950s with stamps from the postage on letters that came to the center from all around the world and just kept growing. The mural behind the wall is also made entirely of stamps.

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The reason for our trip to Omaha was to see our son and his wife, Korey and Cathryn. We’ve had some nice visits with them while we are here. On Wednesday we drove to Korey’s work. He works for Nebraska Outdoor Lutheran Ministries and was promoted in January to Associate Director of Summer Programming, so we stopped to see his new office.

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Korey and Cathryn are moving from Omaha to Lincoln in a few weeks, so he also took us to Lincoln to see where they will be living. Cathryn will be working at a rehabilitation hospital in Lincoln next fall for her final semester of clinical field work before graduating with her Doctorate of Occupational Therapy in December. She’s hoping to get a job in Lincoln so they don’t have to move again. She is an excellent student on the Dean’s List. She received a scholarship award while we were here, and we are very proud of her!

Tomorrow we leave for a one night stay in Iowa, and then we plan to be back at Derge Park in Wisconsin for our summer camp hosting gig. The weather here in Omaha has been wonderful this week with highs in the 70s and even a few 80s. Monday night in Wisconsin its back to reality with lows in the 20s. Brrrr!

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

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Bella Vista, Arkansas

On Thursday we traveled from Little Rock to Bella Vista, which took about 3.5 hours. Severe weather was predicted throughout the area, so we got an early start and dodged storms as we went. We only encountered a little rain. The worst of the storms were south of us, so it was a good thing we got an early start.

Bella Vista is a planned retirement community with many amenities. Our friends Dick and Wanda moved here about ten years ago. We belonged to the same camping club in Wisconsin, and have known them for about twenty years.

We’re staying at Blowing Springs RV Park which is part of the retirement community and run by the Property Owner’s Association. They are a Good Sam member and open to the public.

We’ve been enjoying visiting with Dick and Wanda, sharing some meals together, playing games and doing a little exploring in the area. Yesterday they took us to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville. The museum opened about a year ago and was funded with donations by Alice Walton, the daughter of Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart. She wanted all people to be able to enjoy the museum, so stipulated there was to be no admission charge. We like free.

It’s a very interesting building, very modern in style. Alice Walton dabbled in art, creating this watercolor. Her artistic attempts led to collecting pieces from many American artists, many of which are now on display in the museum.

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We meandered throughout the displays enjoying the art. None of us are avid art lovers, so we just took it in. I’d never heard of most of the artists. There were some iconic pieces on display including Rosie the Riveter.

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The modern section had several pieces by Andy Warhol including Dolly Parton.

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P1150778There are water features and walking trails outside as well as several large metal sculptures. I really liked this giant tree. That’s Dick and Wanda posing for me. Tonight we’ll watch the Wisconsin Badgers compete in the Final Four of the NCAA tournament, keeping our fingers crossed for a win. We’re leaving tomorrow headed to Omaha to spend several days visiting with our son and daughter-in-law, Korey and Cathryn. Can’t wait to see them!

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

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Arkansas State Capitol

Yesterday we decided to tour Arkansas’ State Capitol and the downtown area. Rain was in the forecast, so we purchased an all day pass on the electric trolley car for $2 each so we wouldn’t have to walk in the rain. It never did rain, but the trolley ride was fun and the drivers do some narration which was a bonus.

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The closest trolley stop to the capitol is a mile away, so we had a nice walk through the downtown area. I had read online that there was not much public parking, but we saw plenty of metered street parking and twelve free visitor parking spaces across the street. The legislature is not currently in session, so I’m guessing when they are there, parking is more difficult to find.

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The building was constructed between 1899 and 1915. The original construction cost was not to exceed $1 million. After two architects, two general contractors, six Capitol Commissions and three governors, it was finally completed at a cost of $2.3 million. Yup, sounds like a typical government project.

They advertise tours daily on the hour, but when we got there the next tour wasn’t scheduled for two hours, so we did a self-guided tour using a nice brochure they have available.

The rotunda is not as fancy as others we’ve seen with no stained glass or murals, but there was an awesome chandelier. It is suspended by a 73-foot chain, weighs more than 4,000 pounds and is 12 feet in diameter and 18 feet in height.

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At the front of the building are six 10-foot tall brass doors that were purchased from Tiffany’s in 1910 for $10,000.

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Arkansas’ Senate and Congress, as well as the governor and many other government officials work in this building. The General Assembly meets in session for only about the first two months of each year. Since they were now not in session, the building felt eerily empty. I’m not sure what they do the rest of the year.

Although this was an impressive building, it is not nearly as ornate as other state capitols we’ve visited. Also, the grounds are not very landscaped and there were not many statues. There was a statue honoring the Little Rock Nine we learned about earlier in the week.

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We walked to our next stop which was the State House, Arkansas’ first state capitol. Construction began in 1833 and was finally finished in 1842.

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Corners were cut during construction to save money, and the building was constantly in need of repair. The cost of repairs and the need for additional space caused state officials to approve the construction of a new state capitol. Numerous tenants occupied the old state house over the coming years. Efforts by several women’s organizations to save the building resulted in it becoming a museum in 1947.

In 1996 the entire foundation had to be replaced. This had to be done in 6 foot sections to maintain the structural integrity of the building. It took three years to complete. Wow, that had to be a painstaking job.

One of the exhibits inside is called Lights! Camera! Arkansas! and shows the role of Arkansas in Hollywood movies highlighting movies filmed in the state as well as actors from Arkansas. They include Billy Bob Thornton, Johnny Cash, Glen Campbell, Mary Steenburgen and many others. It was quite an interesting exhibit.

Our final visit was to the Arkansas History Museum. There are lots of statues throughout downtown Little Rock and along the Riverfront. I particularly liked the aluminum sculpture in front of the history museum representing square dancing.

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The museum had a temporary exhibit about the Bowie knife which Kevin found quite interesting. How the knife became known as the Bowie Knife is not exactly known, but Jim Bowie used a large knife to win a brawl and his brother was instrumental in convincing people it was the first Bowie knife. Those sure were some big knives.

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There are quite a few museums in Little Rock and most of them are free. I found the city to be a great place to visit.

Another place we visited was the Heifer International Headquarters building. I didn’t really know what this organization was all about. They had an area for visitors to explore and a nice young lady gave me an overview of the organization. It is a non-profit group working on hunger and poverty throughout the world, currently working in 37 countries. They provide animals for families and the education to raise them. The families are then asked to pass it on to help others in their community. It sounds like they are doing good work throughout the world, but does a non-profit really need such a fancy building?

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

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Hot Springs National Park

Downtown Riverside RV Park, North Little Rock, Arkansas

Today we headed an hour south to visit Hot Springs National Park. This is certainly not what I have come to expect when I think of a national park.

The visitor center is located in the heart of Hot Springs along a busy main street. On one side of the street are some of the restored bathhouse buildings. Across the street are lots of shops and restaurants. You know you are in a tourist town when they have duck boat tours, a wax museum and an old time photo studio.

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Hot Springs is famous for the 47 springs with 143 degree water coming up from underground. The water is 4,000 years old and comes from rain water that has trickled down to increasingly warm rock and eventually makes it way back to the surface. If you look closely, you can see the steam in the pictures below. The water was hot to the touch, but not burning hot.

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Most of the springs are now covered and protected. The park collects 700,000 gallons a day for use in the drinking fountains and bathhouses. There are several fountains around the city where people can come and fill water jugs with clean, tasteless and odorless mineral water. We saw lots of people filling their water jugs at these fountains.

The United States acquired the area in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase. In 1832 the government created the first U.S. reservation created to protect a natural resource. During the 1800s crude wooden bathhouses were constructed. There were several fires. In the late 1800s some luxurious stone bathhouses were constructed.

People came from all over the country to partake of the healing waters of the hot springs. Doctors regularly prescribed the hot baths to heal all types of remedies including syphilis, rheumatism, liver disease and many other ailments. The visitor center has exhibits of what the baths looked like.

This is one of the individual bath cubicles for the ladies.

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After soaking in the bath, people were put into these steam cabinets for up to 30 minutes. It looks like a torture device.

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The Buckstaff Bathhouse is the only one still in operation where people can have an hour bathhouse experience for $30. They have been in continuous operation since they opened in 1912. The building in the background was a Navy hospital at one time. It is now a rehabilitation center.

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We walked along the downtown admiring the architecture of the bathhouses and hotels. I can just imagine the ladies in their fancy dresses promenading along here in the olden days. The peak time for the area was in 1946 when over 1 million baths were taken. After that modern medicine became more common, and doctors were not prescribing bath treatments. The bathhouses began to close.

We took a drive up Hot Springs Mountain behind the town. There is an observation tower at the top, but since it was quite cloudy and hazy we didn’t feel it would be worth paying to go to the top.

I did get this picture from the top. You can see the roller coasters at an amusement park. I am surprised how hilly (they are actually called mountains) Arkansas is. I was expecting flat farm land. I bet its really beautiful during fall. There are a number of hiking trails on the mountain, but the weather wasn’t that great for a hike, so we headed back home.

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