Not All Who Wander Are Lost

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

Friday, October 30, 2015

Those Darn Tires

We left Loveland, Colorado last Sunday. Normally, Kevin does not like to travel on Sundays because if there is a problem, we’re less likely to find repair places open. However, we had to drive through Denver, so he felt Sunday would be the best day to avoid heavy traffic.

We had an uneventful drive through the city. Traffic was not too bad. As we continued south, the Rocky Mountains were on our right for many miles. The combination of the snowcapped mountains and the colored leaves was amazing. I took this picture through the truck window, but you get the idea.

P1160417

Just a few miles before the New Mexico border, a car came up next to us honking its horn. The nice lady shouted that one of our tires had pieces flapping off of it. Kevin pulled over and slowly made his way a short ways to the next exit. We never heard, felt or saw anything indicating there was a problem.

P1160423

One of our tires was completely shredded, but luckily we had no other damage. Kevin was able to change the tire himself, and we were back on the road. We made it to our intended stop in Rotan, New Mexico and asked the campground owner if she could recommend a tire shop. She gave us two names, and we had to wait until Monday morning to call.

We’ve certainly had our share of problems with tires. Our last fifth wheel had two blowouts, both of which caused damage to the RV. Those were LT tires. Now, we have ST tires, and another blowout. I wish RV manufactures did a better job of putting proper tires on fifth wheels.

Kevin went to Mesa Tire in Raton on Monday morning and was happy to learn they had the correct replacement tire for us. He had noticed one of the other tires looked suspicious, so they told him to bring over the fifth wheel, and they would check it out. Sure enough, a tire on the opposite side of the blowout, was bulging, and needed to be replaced. They were super efficient, and had both tires replaced within 30 minutes. They also put the spare back under the RV.

I’ve begun the tedious process of dealing with the tire manufacturer for warranty coverage. I have to deal with two different people; one for the tires and one for the damaged rim. We have to take the tires to a local tire dealer, and then we’ll see what happens. They want us to bring in all four tires, as they want to make sure the other tires aren’t bad. When we arrived in Yuma, Kevin noticed a third tire looked suspicious, so we’re glad they’re checking all of them. We’ll see what happens.

We’ve heard pros and cons on tire pressure monitoring systems. Does anyone have any input on whether those systems are worth buying and reliable?

We had two more travel days ahead of us. We spent Monday night in Albuquerque at Enchanted Trails RV Park. This is a Passport America park, and we’ve stayed here several times. The first site they sent us to had a tree with branches that were too low, We were not risking damage to our roof, so back to the office to get a better site. We’ve run into this a few times at campgrounds. You’d think they would know which sites have low hanging branches.

Enchanted Trails has some vintage campers near the entrance. I think they can be rented. I thought this was a very cool combination.

P1160428

Tuesday night we stayed at Distant Drums RV Resort in Camp Verde, Arizona. We normally stay at Krazy K, but they were fully booked. Distant Drums had a couple of rallies going on, so we were lucky to get a site there. It’s a very nicely maintained park with paved roads and concrete pads at the sites. However, being as full as they were, it was quite tight getting down the roads. Most of the sites are back in. We  had one of ten pull-throughs at the end of a road. It was too short to park the truck on our site, but there was a parking spot nearby.

Wednesday we arrived at Fortuna de Oro in Yuma. We’ll be staying here for four months. Last year when we were here, we picked out an area we thought would be good for us. We like the site we chose. We were treated to a beautiful sunset our first night.

P1160430

Yesterday we ran some errands, and got everything set up to our liking. Today Papi is coming to wash the RV, awning and truck for the fantastic price of $45. Our friends Janie and John will be arriving today. We look forward to seeing them again. Tonight there is a free Halloween dance at the clubhouse. We have a tee time for golf on Saturday morning, and are looking forward to playing pickle ball again.

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

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Boulder, Colorado

Yesterday we spent the day with Kevin’s cousin Mark and his wife Dolly, who have lived in the Denver area for 28 years. They were gracious enough to act as tour guides in the Boulder area.

On our way, I couldn’t stop staring at the beautiful snow capped Rocky Mountains. The scenery makes me feel so peaceful and serene.

P1160410

We started out by meeting them at Anderson Farms for Fall Fest. What an awesome place, especially for kids. They had many different activities including a 30 acre corn maze, wagon rides, pumpkin picking, pony rides and lots of other fun stuff.

P1160414We looked at everything and then spent an hour or so wandering around in the corn maze. It was a beautiful, sunny fall morning to be enjoying this fun place. They had a huge fake pumpkin on top of the silo. It looked quite real. The walking and fresh air made us hungry, so the next stop was lunch.

 

P1160412

Lunch was at the Avery Brewing Company in Boulder. Some excellent beers were tasted along with delicious lunch entrees. We had plenty to talk about as we caught up with each other’s lives and reminisced about the past.

The next stop was the Celestial Seasonings factory tour and tasting room. What a great place to visit. The tour was free and quite interesting. Before the tour we were able to sample several hot and cold teas. The company was started in 1969 by four hippies who picked herbs and berries in the hillsides surrounding Boulder and started experimenting with different tea blends.

The company has always been located in Boulder and now employs about 400 people, selling tea worldwide. They also work with farmers around the globe to purchase the various teas and herbs they put into their products. We bought some boxes of tea in the gift shop and were ready to move on. I would definitely recommend this tour if anyone is visiting the Boulder area. 

Our next stop was the Bald Mountain Scenic Area for a 1.5 mile hike. There were some beautiful views at the summit of the trail. That’s Denver in the hazy background.

P1160415

More snow capped mountains.

P1160416

We saw some magnificent homes nestled in the valley below us. A remote but gorgeous setting. I’m sure you need a few dollars to live in those mansions. We also saw many burnt trees. A human caused forest fire burnt over 6,000 acres in this valley in 2010. A stark reminder of the devastation careless people can cause.

Our last stop of the day was at Upslope Brewing Company for a little happy hour. More tasty brews were consumed.

Thanks to Mark and Dolly for the excellent suggestions of places to see and the great company!!

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

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Loveland, Colorado

We enjoyed a fun round of golf last Monday in Lincoln with Korey. How wonderful to be able to golf in mid October in shorts and short sleeves. It got into the low 80s. All three of us had very good rounds, so what more could we ask for.

Kevin and Korey Golf in Lincoln

After golf we picked up Cathryn and had a delicious dinner at Granite City. Then we played a game of Harry Potter Clue and said our goodbyes. It was great to spend a few days with the kids.

On Tuesday we left Lincoln and drove to McGreer RV Park in Big Springs, Nebraska. We stayed here once before. It is a very basic Passport America park with full hook-up sites next to a farm. The cost was $15 plus tax, so its an okay place to spend a night.

On Wednesday we headed to the Denver area. Our original plan was to stay in Monument, south of Denver. But, I found out the place we had planned on staying had shut off the water for the season, so I started looking for another location.

Many of the RV parks around Denver didn’t have very good reviews online. I called a few placed and found they were booked for the weekend. I was amazed, as I thought this late in the season we’d have no problem finding a site.

I finally was able to make a reservation at Loveland RV Resort in Loveland, north of Denver. Another place where the word resort is loosely used. The sites are very tight. There is a pool which is closed. At $45 a night, they could certainly spend some of that money on improvements. They are also fully booked for the weekend. That’s us on the right.

P1160378

We’ve noticed that more and more sites in RV parks are being occupied by working people. We heard there are lots of oil workers in this area. Over 50% of the sites here are taken up by long term residents. Makes it harder for those of us just passing through to get a spot. I wonder if anyone else is noticing this trend.

It rained all day Wednesday and Thursday. We ran a few errands. On Thursday evening, we met up with one of Kevin’s former co-workers at Old Chicago for dinner. Eddie and his wife Gigi are enjoying retirement in Colorado. We enjoyed a few hours eating, drinking and chatting.

Friday morning the sun was out, so Kevin met Eddie for a round of golf at Mariana Butte Golf Course. Eddie said it was a very scenic course, so I sent my camera with Kevin.

P1160384

P1160386

Kevin got home around noon. We spent the rest of the day exploring Loveland together. Trip Advisor’s number one place to visit is Benson Sculpture Park. It’s a large park with paved walking paths and 148 sculptures scattered throughout. The leaves are in full color all around Loveland, so that made the park even more beautiful.

P1160390

P1160391

The number two top attraction Trip Advisor recommends is Devil’s Backbone Open Space. This area has about a five mile ridge of rocks that were pushed up through the earth many, many years ago creating the Devil’s Backbone.

P1160394

The area has over 15 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. We chose to hike the Wild Loop trail which is just under 3 miles and takes you to an overlook and The Keyhole formation.

At the overlook, we were able to see some of the famous peaks of the Rocky Mountains. The snow covered peak in the back is Long’s Peak at 14,251 feet. It was still a bit cloudy, so we couldn’t see all the mountains. The rain we had the last two days equaled about a foot of snow up in the mountains.

P1160397

The Keyhole is a large hole in the wall of rocks formed by erosion over time. The views through the opening were amazing.

P1160400

P1160403

There were some beautiful homes in the valley below. They sure have some nice views.

After this most enjoyable hike, our next stop was the historic downtown area of Loveland. Eddie and Gigi  had told us the city is trying to rejuvenate the area. We walked around a bit, but didn’t see anything that interested us. There are some bars, restaurants and shops, but they have a ways to go to make the downtown area a hot spot.

These two sculptures were downtown. What a contrast, a very modern octopus and a traditional bronze bear. We saw many sculptures all around Loveland.

P1160406

Our final stop of the day was at Big Beaver Brewing Co. and Climb Hard Cider Co. Both of these businesses are located in the same building. I had a sweet apple hard cider which was very good. You can’t bring the cider into the brewery because of liquor licensing laws, so I drank my cider and Kevin walked into the next room to try some beer.

After I finished my cider, I found Kevin enjoying a sampler. He liked a couple of the beers, but they only sell it in growlers, so he didn’t buy any.

P1160408

Today we’re driving to the Boulder area to meet up with Kevin’s cousin Mark and his wife Dolly. We’re looking forward to spending the day with them.

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

Monday, October 19, 2015

Christmas in October

Since we won’t be with our children for Christmas in December this year, we are celebrating the holidays early. We haven’t been together as a family since last December, so these times are very precious to me.

Eric arrived in Lincoln, Nebraska late Friday afternoon. Eric has not been to Lincoln, so we went over to Korey and Cathryn’s apartment so he could see where they live. Then we went to Red Lobster for a delicious meal of endless shrimp. After dinner we went back to the apartment and watched some playoff baseball.

Saturday was a full day. We picked up Korey and Cathryn and headed to Martin’s Apple Orchard. It was a beautiful fall day, and we had a good time picking lots of apples. Here are a few pictures of our adventure.

P1160344

P1160345

P1160346

These four mean the world to me!!

P1160348

P1160349

Love my kids!

P1160352

P1160353

Eric is the tallest, so he gave Cathryn a boost to get some of those prize apples near the top.

Our 2015 family Christmas picture. Smile

P1160355

After the orchard, we had lunch at Runza. You’ve probably never heard of this restaurant. They are a chain mainly in the Omaha/Lincoln areas of Nebraska. A runza is a pastry dough pocket stuffed with a ground beef and cabbage filling. There are several different varieties to choose from.

My mother makes a dish she calls galushken, and the runza filling reminded Korey of her dish, so we had to try it. The recipe came from German Russians who immigrated to this area. They were quite tasty.

Once our tummies were full, we headed to the Strategic Air and Space Museum in Ashland, NE.  We’ve talked about going to this museum on previous trips to Lincoln. Since Eric is a big space buff, we decided this was the perfect time to check it out.

The museum has a beautiful main atrium building with two large hangers attached. We saw lots of aircraft, both inside and out.

P1160356

Below is a SR-71 Strategic Reconnaissance plane. It could fly over 2,000 mph at heights over 85,000 feet. Wow! It holds the speed record from New York to London in 1 hour 55 minutes. It is constructed mainly of titanium and has gold engine parts to help retard the 1,100 degree F skin temperature of sustained supersonic flight. This plane was mounted at this site, and then the atrium was built around it.

P1160366

One of the hangers.

P1160359

This small plane was named The Goblin. It was one of two built in 1948 for the parasite fighter program. The Goblin was supposed to attach by the large hook to a parent bomber plane. It would be deployed from the bomber bay when needed. It worked fine when it was released from the parent plane. The problem came when trying to hook it back to the main plane. Wind turbulence caused lots of problems, and the program was shelved in 1949. Sometimes good ideas just don’t work out.

P1160360

This B-29 Bomber was the type of plane the nuclear bombs dropped on Japan were released from.

P1160368

After the terrorist attack on the twin towers on September 11, 2001, President Bush was flown to Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, Nebraska to a bunker for safety. This is the desk he led the country from in the hours after the attacks.

P1160371

P1160374

Artist Greg Laakso created this sculpture as a memorial to the 1,452 lives lost in the North Tower. The neckties are hung from two 28 foot tall steel frames.

We spent about three hours at the museum. If you are interested in airplanes, I’m sure you would enjoy a visit. The admission was $12 for adults.

 

Our last stop for the day was a tour of Carol Joy Holling Camp where Korey is a program director. Eric and Korey both attended Pine Lake Camp in Wisconsin as children for many years, so we thought Eric would enjoy seeing the camp where Korey works. Its an awesome facility with three different ropes courses, conference and retreat centers, horse stables, a pool, a pond, and several areas where kids attend summer camp in either cabins or tents.

We went back to Korey and Cathryn’s apartment for supper. I had made lasagna the day before, so we heated it up and enjoyed our Christmas dinner together. After dinner it was time for some presents and then a game of Small World.

I made this quilted wall hanging for Korey and Cathryn. It has tiny lights that have several settings so it can twinkle, fade in and out, etc. I think they liked it.

P1160377

Eric left Sunday morning, but before he did Korey joined us at the RV for breakfast casserole. Cathryn had to work on Sunday. We watched football at the apartment, and had dinner when Cathryn got home from work.

Today Korey is working a half day, so we are going golfing this afternoon. Cathryn has to work again. It is supposed to be 83 degrees, but rather windy. We can’t resist a round of golf though on such a warm mid-October day. Dinner will be at Granite City, one of Kevin’s favorite places, and then maybe another game before our visit comes to an end.

We’re leaving tomorrow morning and making our way towards Denver.

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

Friday, October 16, 2015

Enjoyed a few days in Iowa

We left Beaver Dam on Monday morning. We had been in one spot for six months, so it took a while to get everything ready to go. After sitting in one spot for so long, we are careful to make sure we don’t forget any of the steps to get back on the road.

We had an uneventful drive to Waterloo, Iowa. It sure was windy, though. We were driving directly into the wind, which was not good for our fuel economy. At least the wind wasn’t coming from the side; that would not have been a good thing.

We’ve been staying at George Wyth State Park in Waterloo the last few years when we visit Kevin’s brother and family in Iowa. The fall rate is only $11 per night which includes a large back in 50 amp site. Water and a dump station are available. For just a few nights, it is a great place with lots of hiking and biking trails.

We spent some time with Kevin’s brother Josef and his wife Julie. Their son Robert and his girlfriend Brittany joined us at Texas Roadhouse for dinner on Tuesday night. It was great to catch up with family.

The weather has been gorgeous all over the Midwest this fall. Here’s just one of many beautiful trees we saw.

20151013_145302

On Thursday we drove to Lincoln, Nebraska. Another uneventful travel day. I am always so grateful to arrive at the next destination without any problems. We did come upon an accident scene on Hwy. 20 in Iowa. It appeared a semi carrying pigs turned over in the medium. There was a large crane lifting dead pigs into a dump truck. Pretty gross.

Last night our son Korey and his wife Cathryn came over for dinner. We played the game of Wizard and enjoyed some time together. Today our son Eric is coming from Wisconsin for the weekend. I am VERY excited to have the whole family together again. The last time we were all together was for Christmas in December of 2014. We have some fun events planned for the weekend including some meals, a trip to an orchard and a visit to the Air and Space Museum.

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

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Packing Up

Tomorrow is the big day. We will be hitting the road again after six months of working at Derge County Park in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. We are ready to go!!!

Last week I attended an end of season meeting with our boss and some of the other park attendants in the Dodge County Parks Department. We learned that this summer was a record breaking year for the campgrounds. I already knew that for our park. We were busier than ever.

I was hoping for a bit of a slow down in fall, but no such luck. The weather has been fantastic, and the campers keep coming. This weekend we were 3/4 full. That’s just unheard of for this late in the season. Normally, by the time we leave it has been below freezing for a few nights. This year the lowest temps have gotten is in the high 30s. Today is supposed to be in the high 70s. Amazing for October!

Yesterday we worked hard all day getting everything ready to leave. We have some close up duties for the park, but the water remains on until the end of the month, so Kevin doesn’t have to shut that all down.

We are surrounded by farm fields. They rotate the crops, and this year it was soybeans. Last week they began the harvest which is very dusty. We always hope for a wind blowing away from us, but the first day the wind came right at us. It wasn’t too bad, but there was definitely quite a cloud of dust that drifted over us. Luckily, Yuma has mobile RV washing companies that wash your RV, awning and truck for very reasonable prices. We’ll be having that done as soon as we arrive.

The machinery the farmers use is amazing. Somehow, it separates the beans from the plants and puts them in the hopper on top. The rest of the plant is chopped up and comes out the back, creating the dust. A few days later they tilled it all under, which I’m sure makes for good fertilizer.

P1160339

Today we’re going to our son Eric’s house to watch the Packer game and celebrate Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas with him. We’re bringing him some Halloween treats, I made him his favorite soup, and baked Christmas cookies to take to him. Then we’re all going out to dinner with my mom and bringing her Christmas gifts as well. In the six years we’ve been on the road, this will only be the second one where we’re not with family for Christmas. We come home every other year.

The carp harvest in the lake continues. They bring large, long flat boats full of fish to the launch. A semi is waiting to take the fish away. A large scoop is attached to a front end loader and the fish are scooped out of the boats into containers in the semi. We’ve heard they’ve harvested millions of pounds of carp over the last four years out of Beaver Dam Lake. The fish is shipped to New York where it is sold in Chinatown. Wow.

P1160340

Last night there was a beautiful sunset as a send off for one of our last nights in Wisconsin. That’s a silo in the distance.

P1160342

We’ve been invited to return next year to work at this park, and we will be back. It’s such a quiet, peaceful and beautiful location. Reservations are coming in for next season, so I think it will be another busy summer.

Our travel plans are to spend three nights in Iowa visiting with Kevin’s brother and his family. Then on to Lincoln, Nebraska for four or five nights to celebrate the holidays with our son and his wife. Then a few nights in the Denver area to visit Kevin’s cousin and friends. That should have us arriving in Yuma the last week in October.

Yuma has been experiencing above average temperatures as well. It was 100 last week. Hopefully, it will be cooler by the time we arrive.

We’re going back to Fortuna de Oro RV Resort. We enjoyed it there so much last year, we’re going back for another year. Some friends will be joining us there for a few months, so it should be a great winter.

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