Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Monday June 29, 2009-Center TX

Today we went to Center Tx. to visit my family there. We left the park a little after 9 and made good time down I-20following the directions of the GPS. I spoke with Janie on the telephone and learned that she had a doctor's appointment in Nacogdoches at 2, so we would go eat at a Mexican restaurant on the square and then we could pick up a lunch to take to Aunt Frat.

The food was very good at Margarita's restaurant and we had a very nice visit. Janie decided that we could go back to her house for a little while more since we finished lunch sooner than we thought. We went back and had coffee and some cobbler before Janie had to leave. Gail brought Frat's meal, so we went over to her house. We were all sorry that our visit was cut short.

We got to Frat's house and met her caregiver Queenie. Frat looked good but is confined to a wheel chair. I had learned from Janie that her insurance had run out for the nursing home, so since she needed round-the-clock care and would now be paying for it, she would just go home and be taken care of there.

We had a nice visit with Frat while she ate her lunch. While we were there, it rained for the first time in a long time. It was a short rain but it rained and that's all that counted.

We left after about an hour and a half, and Frat getting tired. Another of her caregivers, Sheila, got there and told her that she was scheduled for some heavy rehab today. Frat said that Sheila is a slave driver (LOL), but I'm sure that she can handle it. Frat's a tough old bird.....

Frat's house is a story in itself. It is the old home place on Ballard Street, named for the family. When Frat's first husband George Willingham and her daughter Sharon were tragically killed in an auto accident in Cheyenne Wyoming in 1963, Frat came back to Center and took over the old house. She lived with her sister Nancy in Center while she had the old house remodeled. The house didn't have any electricity, no indoor plumbing and was only heated by a fireplace. The house was the old "dog run" style house with an open middle with the kitchen and bedrooms on one side and other bedrooms on the other side. Frat remodeled it, enclosing the open center into a large living and dining room and having modern utilities installed. She has lived in the house since then.

We left Frat's house and stopped at a service station for fuel. We took 92.7 gallons (the most pulled out since we got the big tank) to go 1069.4 miles at $2.45 per gallon for an average of 11.5 MPG. Improving....

Janie called and said she was through at the doctor, and asked if we could stay and visit a little longer. We did and returned to her house.We rode with her over to the pharmacy to pick up some antibiotics for a nasty looking wound to her knee. She had fallen and cut her knee and it had gotten infected.

We had a nice long visit with Janie and left her house about 5:50, later than we had expected to. We decided to check out some parks that we had found in Garrison and Timpson, which are near Center. We didn't locate the two parks in Garrison, when we got there, they were vacant lots, and the park in Timpson is a combination RV/Mobile home park and not very inviting. We continued on toward Terrell on US 59. When we got to Carthage, a big truck obscured my vision and I missed a turnoff to 59N. That's my story and I'm sticking to it! We drove and drove and I noticed that we were now going south instead of north. While making this comment to Stella, who had been napping as usual and had also missed the turn, I noticed that we were now going east and hadn't turned off the same highway that we were on. Then she noticed some landmarks that she had seen before she went to sleep, so we discovered that we had gotten onto a loop around Carthage and had come full circle. We soon got to the turnoff that I had missed-through no fault of my own of course-and made the turn. We made the rest of the trip without incident and only stopped at a rest area on our way back to the park. We arrived here about 9:45, or almost two hours past the time we should have been back. Cassie was really glad to see us!

We had some good laughs about missing the turn, and I'm sure that it will get brought up again, but it really wasn't my fault. I was busy operating the truck and making sure that we didn't get into an accident and remember that big 'ol truck that blocked my vision of that narrow little road where we should have exited.

So long.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sunday June 28, 2009-Terrell Texas

Today we woke and had our coffee. Stella made us breakfast and we went over to Garland to Jennifer and Jay's house. We spent all day over there, mostly playing with Ian, the newest grandson. It was nice to spend time with Jennifer, Jay, Melissa and of course, Ian. He is so cute, and sooooo white! He has white blond hair and is very light skinned, and couldn't be much whiter if he were dipped in a jar of mayonnaise. I am honored that they named him after me and they are having him call me Pop, after my maternal grandfather, whom I was very close to. Everyone in town knew Pop Chandler and I am glad that Jennifer remembered that and has had Ian referring to me as Pop. I didn't think to ask Kim about calling me Pop until after Cameron was born and by then I am PePaw to Tyler and Cameron. It's very nice to be called by either name by my grandsons.

Jay and I went to Wal Mart and bought them some new patio furniture. I also bought a domino game to play this afternoon, Mexican Train. We came back to their house and Jay started cooking our hamburgers on the grill. After we all ate a great meal, he started putting the furniture together and the rest of us played Train while Ian took a nap. I envied him the nap, but it was fun playing dominoes with the girls. I came in next to last, with only Melissa making more points than me.

We came on back to the trailer and watched some television until bedtime. It was a very non-eventful day but a nice one.

So long.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Saturday, June 27, 2009-Moving day, Benton Ark. -Terrell Tx.

We woke about 7 this morning, had our coffee and some grits for breakfast, and began packing to leave Benton. One of the residents of the park was in a Bighorn 3670RL. I had gone over to talk to him and give him a Heartland contact card and he, in turn, gave the card to his wife. He came over this morning because his wife was having problems getting onto the Heartland owner's forum, so I went over to see if I could help her. I gave her the information that she needed and we chatted for awhile. They have lived here in this park for about a year. Her husband is planning to retire in February and they will start traveling. They expressed interest in coming to a rally in Arkansas. I gave then the name of the chapter leader for Arkansas and they said they would contact him and try to get set up for a rally.

I went back home and got everything put away and helped Stella with putting some of the inside stuff away and we got away from the park about 9:05. We made good time down the highway and only stopped a couple of times in the morning. When we got to Texas, the temperature was 99 blistering degrees. We stopped at a Love's store in Mount Pleasant and took about a 30 minute break, not because of anything we did, but because there was a huge traffic jam around the station. We reached Greenville where we turned off on SH 19 and put more fuel into the truck from the big tank. We have really enjoyed not having to stop for fuel at truck stops.

We got to the Bluebonnet Ridge RV Park about 2:30. By the time we got all set up, including the porch, it was about 4.We took it slow because of the heat. When we finished, we sat down and tried to cool off but the air conditioners just couldn't overcome the heat. It was still about 88 degrees inside the trailer when we finally left to go meet grandson Ian and his family at the Jalapeno Tree restaurant for some very much needed Mexican food.

We had a nice visit with the kids and Ian and came back to the trailer to rest up after the travel day. We will see them again tomorrow.

So long.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday June 26, 2009-Moving day, Memphis-Benton Ark.

We woke this morning to hot weather again.....We were getting used to the cool weather that we had in Goshen and Ohio, but it's getting to be summer time again. I had forgotten how oppressive the heat is in Little Rock Arkansas. We are actually in Benton, but Little Rock's weather is the same.

We woke this morning and ate a light breakfast of cereal instead of going back to the Flying J for our free breakfast. I helped Stella with putting away stuff in the trailer since there is almost nothing outside to put away. We left the park at 9:20 and were soon on I-40 heading west. We made good time until I noticed a small drop in oil pressure. I stopped off at a Travel America truck stop and checked the oil and sure enough, I was down about a quart. I went inside and bought two quarts and put one into the crankcase, so now all is well. We continued on down the road and only made one more pit stop at a rest area.

We got into Little Rock about 12:40 and made our way around the loop and into Benton. Both the GPS and the Woodall's book were wrong on their directions to this park. We have been here before and knew it was hard to see from the highway, but we were told to exit too soon, so it took us until about 1:15 to locate the park. We finally got hereand got all checked in. Since the temperature was around 100 degrees, I asked for a shady spot beside the river, but thats not going to happen here. There are many long-term residents and they have most of the shady sites taken and there is no water anywhere here.

This park is a good place to stop overnight while traveling through Little Rock Ark. There are no amenities but it does offer a full hookup site, no cable or wi-fi but it's only $20.00 ($21.00 for 50 amp electric). I can certainly recommend it as an overnight stop.

It's HOT here! The TV stations are saying a heat index of 105-110, so it was a good afternoon to crank up both air conditioners and stay inside the trailer. I napped from 2 until about 4 before Stella made us some supper.

I went down and introduced myself to another Heartland owner in a Bighorn 3670 and took him one of the contact cards. He has lived here in this park for about a year and said he intends to retire from Alcoa next February. We had a nice visit and I learned a lot about him. I've said for a long time that you meet the nicest people in an RV park. There were two other men sitting outside when I walked by and they were very friendly.

I came back to the trailer and watched a little television. I soon tired of seeing memorials to the recent deaths of Michael Jackson and Farah Fawcett. I am sorry that both of them died but they are entertainers and should not be the only thing on tv.

So long.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thursday June 25, 2009, W. Memphis Arkansas

We woke this morning about 7:30 to find most of the trailers that had come in yesterday moving out. The couple from Houston pulled out about 8 but left us a small "greeting" that their dogs had left behind. People can be so nasty at times. It might not have been so bad if it had been left in the dog walk area or in a grassy pasture but this was in their site where someone coming into that site will have to deal with it. Okay, I'll get off my soap box now, rant over.

We were both hungry this morning so we decided to go to the Flying J truck stop that is nearby. We had signed up for a Flying J travel card while in Albuquerque and had gotten a free breakfast, so we decided to go there for breakfast. When we got there, they had a breakfast buffet that looked really good, so we opted for it instead of the free pancake breakfast. We will get our free one another time. We do get the credit for buying fuel there and anything else, and we get a discount on our fuel, so its a good deal.

We came back to the park and Stella got all our dirty clothes ready to wash. This park features free laundry, so we took advantage of it and washed up all our clothes. That took us until afternoon, and when she got back we decided to go to Graceland for the tour of Elvis' mansion. It was kind of pricey in my opinion at $29.70 per person with our senior discount. That price does not include the $10.00 parking fee. We got a tour of the mansion and the grounds (the upstairs is the private area and off limits to visitors), his car collection, his airplanes and many, many gold and platinum records and other awards that are displayed in his trophy room. It is an interesting museum about a man that had everything money could buy and shared it with his friends and family. It is interesting to note that we have just toured the Air Force One display at the Air Force Museum and Elvis' airplane is more plush and nicer that the Presidential aircraft. I guess Elvis had more money than the President.

When we finished up at the mansion, we went back to Beale St. and had supper at Dyer's burgers. This is a famous hamburger joint on the Beale St. strip. The restaurant was founded over one hundred years ago and has filtered and reused the same grease to cook in since opening. They add grease as necessary, but the basic grease is over a hundred years old. The burgers are very small but tasty. A big appetite could easily down a double meat burger but the single is fine. We finished up our meal with a delicious vanilla shake for dessert.

We came back to the park and will be leaving Memphis in the morning.

So long.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wednesday June 24, 2009-Moving, Cave City-Memphis TN

We woke this morning on eastern time when it is central time again. Stella made us some pigs in a blanket for breakfast and we both showered and got cleaned up for our trip to Memphis. We got away from the park about 9:30 without incident. We stopped at Franklin Kentucky to take on fuel and coffee. We took 63.25 gallons of diesel at $2.55 per gallon to go 675.0 miles for a 10.6 miles per gallon average.

We made good time and stopped at the welcome center into Tennessee. There we picked up a TN map to add to our collection and then made an easy trip through Nashville and didn't even have to take a loop around the city. We stopped at another rest stop past Nashville to get rid of the coffee and take a quick walk around to loosen up the old knees.

We didn't have to stop again until we got to Memphis and the Tom Sawyer RV park about 3:15, about a six hour drive. This park is on the Arkansas side of the river and could be a very pretty place. As it is, there is too much sand and rock and the dust is everywhere. Stella had called ahead to make a reservation and had asked for a concrete site in shade with a river view. What we got was a site on coleche rock, no shade and right on the river. There are huge logs and trees that have washed up on the bank, giving the park a trashy look. The Mississippi river is huge and flows very swiftly. I watched some barges come by and thought about what this place could be like if Billy and Gwen owned it.

We both were hungry and wanted to get something to eat ASAP. I did a Google search of best restaurants in Memphis and came up with the Central Barbecue as being voted best in the city. We also looked up Dyer's restaurant, a place that boasted to having 100 year old grease that they fried their food in. We had seen it on the TV show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and had wanted to try it. It is on Beale St. which is famous for having restaurants and entertainment. Before we left the park, we went outside to find a couple from Houston with a brand new Open Roads trailer parked beside us. The man had just come from Indianapolis for work and were headed back home. They were going to Tunica to one of the casinos tonight.

We put both locations in our Garmin and made our way into the Tennessee side of Memphis. Beale St. is very commercial, but not only did we find Dyer's, we found B B King's restaurant and several others that were pretty inviting. One section of Beale St. has been blocked off with barricades, traffic in the area was terrible and parking (a block away) was $10.00. We decided to try the BBQ, so we changed locations and soon found Central Barbecue. When we got inside, we discovered why it had been voted best. It is the college crowd favorite. There were two large tables full of college-age young people. Let me just say that if these are examples of the leaders of the future, we are in deep trouble.....

The barbecue was pretty good. I had the beef plate and Stella had a full rack of ribs. My meat was cut thin and pretty tender, but I have had better. They did have some different sauces, a hot BBQ sauce that was very good, a mustard/garlic sauce that was certainly different and pretty good and a vinegar sauce that I didn't much care for. Stella said her ribs were overcooked and tough. They looked good, but I'll take her word for it. She's the rib queen and knows where the best are found.

We used the GPS to find Graceland. Of course, but the time we got there it was closed but there were still probably 20 people standing around the gate and writing inscriptions on the cement walls. We may go back tomorrow to see the King's house.

We also checked out the Graceland RV park, across the street from Graceland. I don't think we saw anything newer than a 90's vintage trailer and it looks like they've been here since they were new. I'm not trying to be so critical of these parks, but they are in need of new ownership and a major clean up.

We came back to the park and drove around. We found the sites that we would rather had. They are in shade, on concrete pads and have a great view of the river. Next time we come here, we'll know.

We came inside and relaxed after our long drive. Today was the longest day that we should have until we get back to Dickinson. We like these 200-300 mile days.

so long

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tuesday June 23, 2009-Moving Day,Grand Lake-Cave City KY

We woke this morning about 6:30 and started the coffee pot. We were not planning to fix anything other than coffee since we are leaving this park for Cave City Kentucky and the Singing Hills RV Park.

We met the others and sat out at Rick and Brenda's motor home for awhile. Brenda came out with some more of her banana/nut bread, so we all had some breakfast. I helped Stella with some of the inside packing, since most of the small amount of stuff we had outside had already been put away.

I did have some good news this morning. I had put out my blue plastic wash pail under the rear corner of the trailer to catch some water dripping from the air conditioner but it had disappeared. I thought someone had picked it up and had complained to the rest of the group about the loss of my bucket. It's only about $4.00 at Wal Mart, so I wasn't going to make a bi deal of losing it, but when I was loosening the bolts on my stabilizer, I found my missing bucket. It had apparently gotten blown under the trailer and had been stuck under the spare tire. I immediately went down and told the group that no further investigation of the theft of my beloved wash bucket was needed and thank goodness it had been returned. I AM SO RELIEVED!!

We left about 10:30, about an hour or so past when I wanted to leave. We made very good time down through Ohio and into Kentucky. We made the expected couple of pit stops and made some more entries into our GPS unit of the location of rest stops, so when we come back up to this area sometime in the future, we will know where the rest stops are. Thanks Terry H.

We stopped in west Louisville KY. and transferred some fuel into the truck and continued on our way. We made it to the Singing Hills RV Park about 5 o'clock. The staff here is very nice and I think we will enjoy our night here. This area is full of caves and other attractions There is a full size dinosaur display nearby that Tyler would love. Perhaps one day we'll bring the boys up here to visit.

I saw a Heartland Landmark in the park as soon as I arrived with Texas license plates. After getting all set up and after a short cool-down, I went down to give the owner a Heartland Owner's contact card and one of my personal cards. The man immediately told me that he does not intend to ever buy another Heartland product because of the problems he has had with the two that he owned. I referred him to the factory and Jim Fenner and he said he will call him. Since he was so aggressive toward me and Heartland, I did not stay long. I came back home and ate some tortilla soup that Stella had fixed and hung out in the trailer for the rest of the evening.

Boy, we are not in Indiana or Ohio any more. I am writing this at about 9:40 and it is completely dark outside. We are used to it being daylight until 10 o'clock and summer time has certainly returned! It was about 92 when we pulled in and it didn't take long for me to work up a good sweat.

Now to bed and some good rest before leaving tomorrow.

Monday June 22, 2009-Last day at Grand Lake St. Mary

We woke to cook temperatures again, but still not as cool as Goshen was. Being Monday, most of the weekenders were gone but a surprising number of people were still here. We had coffee outside with our friends and Brenda came out with some delicious date/nut bread for breakfast.

We had seen a sign for the Airstream factory tours and had thought about going since it is about 8 miles away, but Donna said her brother is coming over with his pontoon boat to take us all for a boat ride around the lake. We left around 11:30 for a two hour ride. It got very hot until we picked up some speed, and then it was very enjoyable. Grand Lake is approximately 8 miles long and 3 miles wide, covers 13,500 acres, was originally constructed as a reservoir for the Miami and Erie canal. The lake is very shallow with an average depth of 5-7 feet. The most interesting thing about this lake is that it was hand dug in the early 1800's.

After the boat ride, we returned to the park and fixed hamburgers and brats for lunch. We had a good time with Donna's family and sat around chatting for some time in the afternoon. There was plenty of shade and a nice breeze, so we all enjoyed ourselves.

I went back to the trailer to work on the computer, and everyone else hung out at Ted and Donna's trailer. When I came back out, everyone was gone but Ted and Donna and Rick and Brenda and of course, Stella. They were all at T & D's house when I went out, so I joined them there. We sat around talking about the upcoming trip and Stella and I feeling bad because we can't go. We went back outside later and sat around, enjoying the night until after 10. We still can't get used to the sun staying up so late.

When we went in, I worked some more on the computer, but the connection here sucks! There is no wi-fi at the state park, so I used my aircard and router. I guess we're too far from a Verizon tower to get good internet connection, so it makes surfing very slow.

So long,

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sunday June 21, 2009-Grand Lake St. Marys

We woke this morning to cool (by Texas standards) temperatures of about 65 degrees. I went down to the shower house to clean up to get ready to go to the Air Force Museum in Dayton. On my way to shower, I ran into Ted who told me that his nephew had been killed in a motorcycle accident. Terrible news.....

After showering, I came back to the trailer and ate breakfast. Rick and Brenda were at church, but as soon as they got back we left for Dayton and the Wright Patterson Air Force Base there where the Air Force Museum, also known now as The National Museum of the United States Air Force is located. Wright Patterson Air Force base is the "birthplace, home and future of aerospace" and one of the largest bases in the world. The museum is the largest in the world and reputedly has a display of every aircraft that the USAF has had in it's inventory since World War I. I can certainly believe it!

I drove over to Dayton using my GPS for directions. I had never been to the base, so had no idea of how to get there. As it turned out, we should have used a map. We found a much quicker route back home. It took us a little over an hour to get here. We arrived about 10:30 and still had to park about three blocks from the entrance.

The air force base is huge!! And the museum is made up of three huge hangars, not including the one used to house the Presidential aircraft. There are 0ver 400 aircraft and missiles displayed, mostly under a roof. They had everything from the Wright Bros. first biplane to the latest B-1 bomber. They had everything from the biggest airplanes I have ever seen to helicopters that looked like gnats. They had aircraft suspended from the ceiling and had some very realistic sets complete with sound effects. It was probably the most impressive museum that I have ever gone to.

We were told to get a pass for the Presidential aircraft portion of the museum, so as soon as we got here we went and secured our armbands that were necessary to go to the exhibit. We had to show a photo ID to get the armbands, but did so without a problem.

The hangars are separated into the early years, World War II and the Cold War years. The early year planes are very interesting in that they were so rudimentary and fragile looking it makes me wonder how anyone in their right mind would board and fly in one of these things. I have always thought of myself as being pretty brave. Many times I have met and dealt with evil people and never backed down, but I wonder how these brave souls were able to put aside their fears and fly something that was untried and untested. Wow!

The World War II planes were very interesting to me. They brought back a lot of my boyhood memories. When I was a lad, I built a lot of plastic model airplanes and now I was seeing many of the actual planes that I had built.

The Presidential planes were also very interesting. The most historic and interesting was one called SAM 26000. This airplane was used by eight presidents and was in service for 36 years. It is the airplane that John F. Kennedy took to Dallas when he was murdered, and later was the site of Lyndon Johnson being sworn in after Kennedy was shot. The last President to use this plane was Clinton, and we all know what may have gone on in the plane when he was aboard.

I could go on and on about this museum, but you must really see this thing to believe it.

Today was also Brenda's birthday as well as Father's Day. When we returned from the museum, she was given the choice of where we would go out to eat. She chose the Pullman's Restaurant in Celina. It turned out to be a good choice. We all enjoyed our meal and returned to the park very full.

We played another game of Pegs and Jokers but this time we included our neighbors Larry and Dot. We played boys against girls and of course, being the gentlemen that we are, we let the girls win.

All three girls called me today for Father's Day, so my day was complete. I think I surprised Jennifer when I was up at 11:00, but this is the new me, staying up late now.

So long.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Saturday June 20, 2009-Grand Lake St. Marys Ohio

I woke this morning to cool temperatures again, although not as cool as we had in Goshen. We all had coffee outside until it was time for Ted to go play golf with relatives. Donna took Ted to play golf so she would have the truck if she needed to go somewhere.

The rest of us just hung out around here for the rest of the day. About noon, Rick and Brenda arrived from the IRV2 rally in Dundee Ohio. They went into a site across from Ted and Donna, but didn't lke it because of the large dip in the middle. When we checked in yesterday we had put a "hold" on a site that is two doors down from us. We looked at it and they decided that it would be a better site, so they moved over. Brenda called and made the change with the office, so all was well.

Stella went to Wal Mart with Rick and Brenda. They decided that we were having pizza and salad for our supper. We all ate at our house outside and then went over to their house where we played Pegs and Jokers until almost 10 o'clock and it got dark.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Friday June 19, 2009-Goshen to St. Marys Ohio

We woke this morning about 5:30 to get finished packing to leave. It had rained all night and was still raining this morning. We got finished about 6:45 and left for Lippert to have the new springs installed. Before we left I saw Marv and Karen Osborn, some friends that we had made at the Heartland rally, leaving to go to Trail Air to have their hitch adjusted.

We got to Lippert a few minutes after 7 and were immediately taken into the shop. I backed it into the shop so they could do the work out of the rain. I asked to have the wet bolt system installed, since they would be removing the suspension to replace the springs. The parts for the kit are $47.58 and there is no labor charge. I told them to go ahead with this installation. It will allow me to lubricate the suspension now. Another chore for me to take care of.....

We went to eat at Lux's cafe where we had gone the other night with Tom & Judy and Bob & Christina. Breakfast was good and they were nice enough to keep bringing coffee as long as we wanted it. From Lux we went to Wal Mart to pick up a few items and to kill a little more time before we had to pick up the trailer. I stopped at the Speedway Gas station and took on 64.5 gallons at $2.45 per gallon to go 709.9 miles for an 11 MPG average. Much better.....

We got to Lippert about 9:15 and went to the shop where the trailer was. There was no one in the shop so I walked in the rain to an adjoining shop to ask where I could find the techs that had done the work. I was told to go to the front building where the office was located. We drive into the lot again but couldn't find the office, so I returned to the truck entrance to ask for directions again. I went into one of the little metal portable office buildings to ask and after being given the directions, I stepped outside and slipped in the very slick mud in front of the office. I wasn't hurt but embarrassed and covered in mud. I later found some scratches on my right leg and knee, but nothing bad. We soon found the office and paid our bill. The trailer looks fine and seems to be sitting a little higher, but the tech told me that it would only be an inch or so higher.

It continued to rain as we left Goshen. The rain finally stopped somewhere between Goshen and Fort Wayne Ind. We have run into so much rain on this trip, I don't know if I'll ever get the trailer cleaned up. Every time we get to our destination I clean the bugs off the front cap, so they don't stain, but then it rains again and I don't get the trailer clean.

We got to the park (Grand Lake St. Mary state park, Ohio) about 1:30. This is not a bad park, but its a typical state park. They do not have water service to the sites, but do have a non-potable water supply available when you enter the park. since there is no water at the sites, there is no sewer except a sewer dump that is available when exiting the park. This is not a park that we would normally stay in but Donna has a family reunion near, and wanted us to come here with them, so it is worth it to come. Rick and Brenda arrive tomorrow from the IRV2 rally in Dundee Ohio.

We got all set up, including our Dish network antenna. This is not so bad a place now that we are all set up. We have friendly neighbors and the park is quiet and dark at night. The only complaint that I have is that no one picks up after their dog in the walk area.

Ted and Donna went to their reunion and I went to the shower house and cleaned up. I had mud all over my legs from the fall at Lippert and was hot and sweaty from setting everything up here. We watched television and chilled out in the trailer for the rest of the night.

Stella did learn that we are under a tornado watch tonight. We need to get one of those weather radios that come on when the weather gets bad. We didn't have any weather issues although it did rain all night.

So long for now.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Thursday June 18, 2009

We slept in again this morning, until about 7 o'clock. These "late" nights are getting to us I guess since it stays light until 10 o'clock every night. Then it gets light around 6. I guess this is why there are so many farms around here, there is plenty of daylight for them to work in.

We did met a couple from Angleton that have a Bighorn 3670. Their names are Bill and Claire Nichols. She looks very familiar to me, and I first thought she worked in the courthouse, but she said she was a security guard at a couple of the plants in the area. He is retired from Dow but still works as a consultant. They are interested in coming to our next rally in October, and I will get them added to the list. We had a nice visit with them in the morning.

Tom & Judy and Bob & Christina went to Shipshewana today. The flea market is closed today but Yoder's Meat Mkt. is open as well as some other stores there. The meat market has an amazing amount of different meats, including many with no growth hormones used in the feeding of their beef. There were no samples of meat when we were there, but there were several varieties of cheese, which well all delicious. I tried every one I could find at least twice, so I know what I am talking about.

We hung out at the trailer for the afternoon, and about 4 o'clock I went outside to start putting things away in preparation for us leaving tomorrow. We have to be at Lippert at 7, so we will have to get most things ready tonight.

About 5:30, Judy and Christina came over and asked us to come over there for some wine and cheese that they had bought at Yoder's. Stella was working on stuff for her clients so I went on over to Tom's. We had a nice visit with them and we are looking forward to seeing them again in October at Rayford. We stayed over there until about 8 and went home for Stella to put more things away to get ready to go. All of my outside chores had been done.

Tomorrow's the big travel day!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Wednesday June 17, 2009

I slept until 6:30 this morning. It is getting easier to sleep later every day. I went out about 8 to walk around the park. It is still cool and rainy this morning with temperatures in the upper 50's and very damp.

There are still 8 Heartland trailers in the park. Two had pulled out this morning to have service done on their rigs. I had not heard from Lippert yesterday about them doing any work on our trailer, but while I was walking, I saw a Lippert man (I recognized him from the rally) walking toward my trailer. I met him and found out that I could bring the trailer in this afternoon which would mean we would have to put everything away to move the trailer and then return here or we could wait until Friday morning when we were planning to leave. He said the work would only take an hour and a half or so, so I decided to wait until Friday morning and we will leave after the work is done. I think it is great that both Heartland and Lippert stand behind their products so well.

Judy called and invited us to come over for dinner tonight. Stella told her that we would be there. She told me that she will fix a cherry cobbler to take over with us.

With that done, we decided to go over to Elkhart to look around. I wanted to find Pinnacle Transportation where I worked about 9 years ago. Elkhart has changed a lot and since I have slept since I worked there, I have forgotten how to get there. We did go to a couple of truck and trailer part stores, the Dually Depot and Dan's Service Center in Elkhart.We didn't buy anything at either store but did look at some power extending mirrors for the truck.

Stella wanted to go back to the flea market in Shipshewanna, so we made our way back over there. By the time we got there, about 3:30, many of the booths were closing. The flea market closes down at 5, so I guess it's not surprising that they start shutting down a little early.

We returned to the park and I went over to Tom and Judy's trailer to chat with Tom and Bob before eating. Judy and Christina took a break from cooking and asked about Stella. I told them that she was cooking and would be there soon. When Stella got through with her dish, I went over and got it and carried it over to tom's trailer. We soon sat down inside and had a great meal with our friends.

Another great day with friends in Goshen Indiana.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tuesday June 16, 2009

Today I woke to find Bill finishing up his preparations to leave for RV Capitol to have his new electric fireplace installed and then to have Lippert come over and make some suspension repairs made. They left around 7:45 to go over to Elkhart. Several others were scheduled to have work done today, and they all were gone by 8:30 or so.

We ate a little breakfast of cereal and decided to go for a ride around the area. We asked Bob and Christina to go, and Christina said she would go after they went for their walk. I came back inside and did some computer work. I had gone to Terry H's seminar on points of interest for our Garmin GPS devices so I came inside and downloaded some documents. I tried to load them into the device but had some trouble, so I went over to talk to Terry about it. He walked me through the process, so I came back home.

It had started to rain but we drove over and picked Christina up about 11 and rode over to Howe to check out the Grand Bend RV park for Donna. While driving, we all marveled at the Amish farms that are over the area here. They have the prettiest places you can imagine and most of it is done without machinery or electricity. The men work in the fields and the women and children maintain the homes. I have read that the men all get together to build their homes and other structures on the farms, but we didn't get to see this being done. The Amish lead a very simple life on their farms, wearing very plain and simple clothes. They are a very shy people and do not wish to be photographed. Stella saw one man that was plowing his field using one of the huge draft horses, but when she tried to take his picture, he lowered his face to show only his hat.

It was a long way over to the Grand Bend park, but we made it. The park is a very basic park with short term trailer parking on grass with the utilities behind and all were back-in sites. There is a dump station to get rid of wastes and many long-term sites. They have a swimming pool, putt-putt golf, and a tennis court for exercise for their guests. The roads into the park are good, and my only complaint is the distance it is to everything. This could have been from the route that my GPS gave me for getting there, but even on our way out, it's still a long way.

We continued on our ride and ended up in Shipshewana. This is a very picturesque area with a large Amish population on their wagons and buggies. We went into the Essenhauf restaurant to get something to drink and possibly a piece of pie but it was lunch time so we weren't able to get a table. We left and came back home for the rest of the afternoon.

Judy called and asked if we wanted to go eat with them about 6 o;clock. We did, and met them at Lux restaurant. As usual, the food was good and we all left full and happy. It was still raining so we didn't sit out tonight but came inside. The weather has been good all week, but a little cool at times and it has rained a couple of times. It was about 65 degrees tonight, and with the dampness, it was very cool.

Bob and Pat came out later with their new puppy Trevor, a little 13 pound Yorkie. He is very cute, but Bob was having a test of wills with him over walking on a leash. I'm glad its them with the new puppy and not us.

So long for now.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Monday June 15, 2009

Today most of the rigs that had stayed here left, either to go home, to continue on their travels or to one of the repair shops. Many had made arrangements to have work done at the Heartland shop, RV Capitol, one of the authorized factory repair shops in or around Elkhart or for suspension work at Mor Ride. Luckily for us, we didn't need any serious work done to our coach.

We went up to the fairgrounds office to extend our stay here until Friday. Since we came in a few days early and are staying after the rally, we qualified for the weekly rate. It only cost us $42.00 to stay 3 more nights. Nice.

We rode with Bill over to Shipshewanna for a little more shopping at the bakeries and the Yoder's meat market there. We ended up spending about $50.00 in total, so we're pretty well fixed up for food for the next few days. We drove over into Michigan, so Bill could say he had been over there, We only went to White Pigeon where we turned around and came back over into Indiana. Stella didn't want to stop at the Bigfoot leveling system store.

We came on back to the park and put everything away. I took a little short nap and went outside to visit. Bob and Christina had come back from having some work done on their rig at Heartland. Their's is an '06 model that they love. Heartland is still working on it for them, but they had some extras done while they are here. They pull their Landmark with a Volvo, have a Smart Car behind the cab of the truck, and recently added a pin-on platform on the rear of the trailer to hold Bob's latest toy, a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. The whole rig looks like a train coming down the road, but they've got everything they want on it. They have to be careful of the parks they choose to be able to fit in, but they're happy with it.

We sat out for the rest of the afternoon and into the evening. Ornell and Stella fixed us some of those pizza rolls that are actually snack food, but after all the food we've eaten in the past week, these were all we needed.

I turned in about 9:30-before darkness fell up here-but stayed up watching television and playing on the 'puter until almost midnight. So there, Harry!

See ya,

Sunday June 14, 2009

This is the final day of the Heartland rally, and a travel day for many of our new friends. We went down to the rally hall and had a breakfast of leftover sub sandwiches and donuts and of course coffee. We sat around chatting and visiting with our Heartland friends until about 10:30 when we walked back down to our rigs. We watched many leave and about noon I went inside to take a nap. Stella and Ornell went to find a washateria to wash up our clothes. Bill and Ornell will be leaving on Tuesday. We have decided to stay until Friday, and will go over to Grand Isle St Mary's to meet Ted and Donna and Rick and Brenda. Unfortunately, since the house hasn't sold as we had planned, we will have to return to Dickinson to try to get the house sold.

The girls were gone most of the afternoon, so when they came back, we hung out in the yard between our rigs. The rest of the folks that were staying had decided to do a meal of leftovers, but since we didn't have any leftovers and we wanted some Mexican food, we went into town to find a restaurant. We ended up at the La Hacienda restaurant. The people in Indiana don't know how to make good Mexican food, but we added some additional peppers and of course salt and pepper, and made it taste okay. It's not the same as Texas food, but it wasn't bad.

We came back home and hung outside until about 10 and came on inside. The rally had gone very well and we had a great time. We met a lot of folks and now can put a face with the names on the Heartland Owner's forum.

Saturday June 13, 2009

Today is the day that we were scheduled to go to the Heartland factory to see how the coaches are built. Stella and I both slept later than usual but we got up and got all cleaned up and ready to go. We elected not to ride the bus but to drive over in Bill's truck. There were five or six others that were driving, so we got into the convoy to Elkhart to the factory. We stopped along the way and picked up some donuts to snack on along the way.

When we got to the factory, they had several new coaches in the parking lot for us to look over, including a beautiful new Landmark Grand Canyon with the full body paint, several Bighorn models, several toyhaulers and several new light weight models that we had not seen. They had left these out and open for us to look over and should have been on their way to a dealer and ultimately to a customer. We were later told that because of the economy, most of the trailers now being built are for customer orders.

It was fascinating to watch a trailer go from a bare frame to a completed coach. It is nothing like I had imagined and everything in the manufacturing process is done with efficiency in mind to build the best quality trailer with the lowest cost. I was very impressed with the factory and the way our trailers are made. I understand that most of the trailers are built in this same manner, so it gives me a better understanding of what the process is.

After touring the factory, we had a short roundtable talk with the President and CEO of Heartland, Brian Brady. He gave us a brief history of how Heartland got started, how it progressed and where it is going. He also took some comments and listened to complaints from owners and with others in his management staff present, they took notes on and said they would look into several issues that were brought up. We then had a lunch of hamburgers and brats on a bun which was furnished by Heartland. During lunch, Mr. Brady met individual owners and spoke with them. Stella and I got to talk to him and he took note of some of the issues that Stella had noticed on a Landmark trailer. He gave her his business card and asked her to send him an email about her suggestions. He also told me that he had just returned from Houston and had met with his dealers there and offered any assistance with the Houston rallies that we are hosting. It was also very flattering for me to have been known to Coley Brady, the brand manager for Landmark and Bighorn for my work as Chapter Leader in Houston.

When we finished at the factory, those that had ridden the bus re-boarded the buses and we went to the RV/MH Hall of fame and museum in Elkhart. This is a pretty interesting place with a history of RVing and many pictures of the old trailers and several well-kept old cars, trucks and trailers on display.

From there we came back home and hung out until the final meal was prepared and set out for us in the rally hall. We had a fine meal of pork chops, potatoes and beans for our supper. It was good and everyone had a good time. Of course, we were near the end of tables that were served, but that was just bad luck.

After the meal, we had numerous door prizes given out. Every attendee got two prizes that ranged from books on RVing to 19" televisions. I was asked to be a prize runner and gladly helped out. When the prizes were all handed out, we had entertainment furnished by "dueling pianos" who were very good. This is two men that seem to know every song ever sung. They get a lot of audience participation in their act and everyone enjoyed them.

The night ended about ten o'clock and everyone started back to their rigs. I was asked to drive one of the golf carts to take folks back home. My feedback was that everyone had a great time at the rally and had enjoyed the entertainment.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Friday June 12, 2009-Heartland rally-Goshen Indiana

It was very cool again this morning but at least it wasn't raining. We went to the rally hall this morning for an early morning seminar presented by Lippert, Heartland's frame builder. They also furnished a continental breakfast of coffee and donuts, which everyone was glad to get.

The seminar was actually more about Lippert's new leveling system for fifth wheel trailers. They sell two variations of the system, one a rear only system consisting of four hydraulic lifting legs, two behind the wheels and two in front of the wheels. These act as the stabilizing legs and extend at a 5% angle to eliminate sway and selling for $2,000. The second system available is the front jacks that replace the electric jacks furnished on the coach and selling for $800 plus labor. I would love to have the complete system on my trailer.

After the seminar, I went into the "marketplace" area of the rally hall to look at some of the gadgets and goods being offered there. I bought the last hummingbird design stained glass window for the door to the trailer from a vendor there. The vendor is John Joseph's wife, who also represents Passport America. I brought the new door glass back to the trailer and hung out for the rest of the morning. I didn't have the necessary parts to install the glass in the door.

There were more seminars during the morning that Stella attended, one on the maintenance of Dometic appliances, Flair Industries on cleaning and caring for the furniture in our coaches and the final seminar this morning on the Apollo Half-Time oven. She said she got a lot from these seminars.

We ate a lunch of Subway sandwiches that were furnished for us in the rally hall. Stella and I walked over and looked at the two new trailers on display, a Landmark Grand Canyon and a Bighorn 3410RE. The Grand Canyon is the newest model in the Landmark line and very interesting to us. We both agreed that this is a model that we would like to have if we were in a position to buy a trailer of this size and weight. The Bighorn model is an interesting design, with a television that lifts up out of a cabinet at the back window. It is nice but not something we are interested in.

I stopped off at another vendor's booth and bought some quick connections for my water lines. We returned to the trailer to rest up and visit with our friends until we left for the evening meal at the Blue Gate restaurant in Shipshewanna. This is another Amish family-style restaurant, but a full-on sit down restaurant. The food here was similar to Yoder's, chicken, meat loaf, veggies, mashed potatoes and noodles with a choice of five pies for dessert. We found that this place is much better than Yoder's and we all enjoyed our meal.

On the way to the restaurant we went into a leather shop in the building next to the Blue Gate. They make and display leather goods, and had some very old saddles from the 1800's and some new items that they had made right here in their shop. They had some large leather-bound trunks that are built in the old style to hold a saddle and tack for horse shows. They are very pretty and made very well with the tight joints in the wooden box and saddle racks inside the box. They are being made for a large horse show next year in Louisville Ky. This shopkeeper is not Amish, but buys his basic boxes from a local Amish carpenter and merely finishes the boxes in the leather for sale.

After our meal, we returned home and just about all went in early tonight, very full and ready for bed.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Thursday June 11, 2009-Heartland rally in Goshen

We woke again to cold, rainy weather with temperatures of about 55 degrees. I had read this prediction last week but didn't really believe it would be so cool here. It rained all day long, making the hike of about two blocks, pretty miserable. Jim B had thought ahead enough to have 10 golf carts available. During the day, when the techs were here and working, they used 6 of the carts, leaving 4 to be used for the rally.

The guys from Heartland are amazing! They will gladly do just about anything that is needed, from small adjustments to pretty major repairs, the ones that they can do here in the park and don't require special tools, and depending on parts availability. They will do the work needed without care of how old the trailer is. They have worked on Tom and Judy's 2005 Landmark, replacing slide gaskets and other items. Tom is having one of the power reels installed on his heavy 50 amp power cord after the rally is over. It will require more work than they can do here in the park. They will cut a hole in the side of the coach to install the reel and wire it into the 12 volt system to power the reel. This is a very cool modification that just became available on Landmarks last year and is now an option on Bighorns. With this option, you don't have to wrestle with the heavy power cord.

I went to several seminars this morning including a presentation from Camco, a seller of many cool gadgets used by RVers, a GPS Point of Interest seminar showing how to use the POI feature on our units, and a digital photography seminar from the Heartland Director of Marketing.

We had a chapter leader meeting just after lunch. It was good to see the other state chapter leaders. We really didn't get much of a chance to have much interaction, but did get to meet each other and put a face with the name. Jim B did a good job of remembering everyone's name and where they were from and mostly when their local rallies are being held.

We came back to the trailer to rest for a bit before tonight's potluck dinner. We went down to the rally hall about 5:30 for the meal and had a great time with some of our old friends and many new ones. The meal was delicious as usual, and we all went home very satisfied. We sat outside until after ten, or just about dark. We cannot believe the way it stays light so late.

This was a good start to the Heartland rally. So long for now.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Wednesday June 10, 2009-Heartland rally, Goshen

We woke to cool temperatures of 55 degrees. Many of us were soon in sweats or jackets to keep warm. Our friends Rick and Blanca, from Detroit Mich. prepared breakfast of pancakes for the surrounding trailers including us. Rick fixed the pancakes with fresh fruit in them and had some home made syrup. Very tasty....

I went to the Dish Network store on the other side of town to get a replacement part for the LNB holder that had broken yesterday. I had taped it up but it didn't hold and let the receiver drop down, losing our connection. I called the store and was told that they had the part I needed but when I got there it turned out to be the wrong part. I had to come back home to get the broken part to match it up. Once I got the correct part, we were back in business.

The Bobcat (Bob Curry) rode with me to the Dish store. He bought some parts to put his system into service, so it was a good trip for both of us. It was a good time to just drive over with Bob.

When I got back and got the cable up and running, we went over to Shipshewanna to a large flea market. We had lunch at a restaurant there and stayed at the market most of the afternoon. Many of the people working at the flea market and restaurant are dressed as Amish. None of us asked them if they were in fact Amish because we did not want to offend them about their religion. I know that they do not want to be asked to pose for pictures and most seem very shy.

After visiting the flea market, we wanted to shop for some handmade quilts that were for sale in the area. We ended up at a store called Laura's that was run by a man named Lavern Kauffman. Bill talked to him quite a bit and learned that he has worked for Keystone (Montana) for about 9 years and has built a scale model of an RV plant. He has many beautiful wooden pieces in his store and a large rack of quilts, but they are also very expensive. We looked at one that was priced at $1,200 but it is very large and very detailed. Lavern said the craftswoman had worked over 1100 hours on the quilt, so the price is not all that bad for the work involved. It is still out of our price range but it is pretty.

The only thing we bought was some food. We bought home made bread, peanut butter and cookies and returned home ready for some good snacks. Tom and I took one of the golf carts to look at a new Landmark Augusta with the full body paint and a new Ford F-550 that were on display near the hall. When I drove tom back home, I saw the truck that forum member PMM Jarrett had built. We stopped for a few minutes and visited with him before I came back down home.

We sat outside until almost 11 o'clock, chatting and visiting with our friends. It stays light until after 10, so it makes sitting out late very easy to do.

Another good day at the beginning of the Heartland rally.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tuesday June 9, 2009-Goshen Indiana

We woke pretty early this morning to 57 degree weather outside! The weather is certainly cooperating for us. The high today is predicted to be 75 degrees.

Bob Curry made breakfast burritos for everyone this morning. We went over to his place where he was cooking and placed our request for filling in the burrito and ate right there. Bill and Ornell had made up their big coffee pot, so there was plenty of coffee and burritos for everyone. After finishing mine, I asked him to make one for Stella and took it over to her. She had just gotten out of bed and was ready to eat.

Not too much else exciting happened today during the day. We were scheduled to go to Yoder's Farm for supper tonight. This is a large farm that is owned and operated by the Yoder family. They have built a large eating room where they serve their catered meals to groups. They are Amish, so they don't use electricity or many motor-powered machines. The lighting in the dining room is gas, although they didn't have the lights on when we were there. We were told that the last rally that was held in Goshen also went to eat there and it was extremely hot in the room. At least it was cool today. The food was great, with a selection of chicken or Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes, noodles and mixed vegetables. Of course there was some great home made bread and home made peanut butter and jelly to go on top. Don't forget the three varieties of pies, strawberry, chocolate and peach.

It is very quaint to see the Amish people in their horse and buggies traveling up and down the roads. The drivers here are used to them and the horses are apparently accustomed to the cars speeding by and didn't seem to have a problem with it.

We came back home and sat outside for a little while but everyone was full and we went to bed pretty early.

So long,

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Monday June 8, 2009

We woke on time this morning and made coffee in the trailer. I began putting things away in preparation for us leaving the Terre Haute KOA. We went over and had a quick breakfast that was furnished by the park while Bill and Ornell finished up their work to get ready. Of course we were the last to get through.

Our friends Jim and Bette and new friends Ken and Kathy left about ten minutes before we did, but we finally got away about 9 o'clock. Bill had helped me to fill up my fuel tank before we left, so we were ready to hit the road.

We made good time down the highway, but when we neared Indianapolis, we learned that delays were expected on the loop around the city. We stopped at a rest area just before getting on the loop and decided to chance it on the loop instead of going through downtown Indy. When we got to the construction, the expected delays were a non-issue. The only delay we found was a small accident that didn't cause us to stop, only to slow from 55 to about 40. These people don't know anything about a delay. They need to come to Houston to really experience a delay!

We continued to make good time into northern Indiana toward Goshen. We ran into some serious rain which slowed us down a little bit. We all thought about pulling over but the rain was so hard we couldn't see where to pull over. Luckily it didn't last too long, so we continued on.

We got separated from Bill just outside South Bend, when I missed a turnoff. I was behind a big van and couldn't see the turn, but since we had fallen back from Bill, we didn't see him exit either. We got turned around and on the right road that was just a short distance from Goshen. We caught up to Bill just before we had to turn off the main highway into Goshen and pretty easily found the fairgrounds where the rally is being held.

There are probably 25-30 rigs already here including many of our friends. We got all set up with the only thing not hooked up for us being the dish antenna. I took it outside but got sidetracked and didn't stake it down. Ornell came around to find me to tell me the dish had fallen and broken the arm that holds the LNB's. I taped it up for now and will have to find another part. Bill and I got the dish set up and receiving, so all is well.

We were all hungry and went into Goshen to find something to eat. We found the Ponderosa buffet and had a good meal. While inside, two wagon-loads of Amish families came over and parked in the shopping center parking lot. A man, his wife and two little girls went into one of the stores, leaving the horse and buggy in the parking lot. We drove closer and looked over their wagon before returning to the park. We sat outside between the two rigs until after 10. It stays light until almost 10 every night. It gets light about 6 in the morning, so it's a short night up here.

So long,

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sunday June 7, 2009-Day of Rest from Travels

We were all tired out from three days of traveling, especially yesterday with the speed limit and the traffic backup that slowed us down for about two hours, so we decided to stay here in the KOA in Terre Haute for another night. Even though the prices are excessive, the people that work here make up for it. The manager made an adjustment for Bill because someone had requested the site he is in. Actually, they requested a "buddy site" so that they can pull in awning to awning. She moved them to other sites so we were able to stay.

We all slept later than usual and just hung out in the park. We went down and ate breakfast that is furnished and that is when she fixed us up with our sites. After breakfast, we came back to our trailers and sat around chatting until my Sunday morning TV shows came on, so we all returned to our rigs and watched TV and napped. We came back out around 1 and watched others coming into the park.

One older man tried to get his van camper set up and apparently forgot that he had lowered his jacks. When he moved the van he bent the jacks, but he didn't do anything else with them at the time, so we don't know how much damage was done.

A couple from Canada came in with their Bighorn trailer, but when I asked them if they were going to the rally, they either didn't understand me or chose to ignore me because they didn't reply. Awhile later Jim and Bette McGee arrived in their Bighorn and a little while later Ken and Kathy (Katkens) came in. It looks like we are going to have a pretty good convoy going to Goshen tomorrow.

We sat outside until time for bed. We are all excited about our last little drive over to Goshen and the rally.

So long.

Saturday June 6, 2009-Still Closer to Goshen

We woke this morning in Sikeston Mo. to cool temperatures but not as cool as yesterday's. We all got a good night's sleep and came outside about 7 to drink our coffee and talk about today's drive.

We put everything away and got all packed up by 8:25AM and left the park. Hinton's RV Park is a very nice overnight stay, and if we were going to Sikeston for any length of time, we would certainly stay there again.

Both Bill and I needed fuel for our big tanks, and although we knew we could make it to Terre Haute to take on fuel, I wanted to stop at a Flying J to take advantage of a new discount loyalty card hat we had gotten at the Rally in Albuquerque. We had been 723.9 miles and took 76.3 gallons for a 9.48 mpg average. It should be noted here that these are not exact numbers because the big tank on my truck was not filled to capacity the first time because of the cut off limits of Wal Mart.

We made good time from Missouri into Illinois, only stopping once for a short break. Illinois has a 55 mph limit for trucks pulling trailers and motorhomes, so it seemed like we were just crawling along. We had been driving about 62-63 for the whole trip, but by dropping back to 55 made a huge difference. Both Bill and I said we felt like we could walk faster than this, but its the law here and we will respect it. About 20 miles south of Mt. Vernon Ill. we ran into a huge traffic backup due to road work. We were stopped for at least an hour and a half. It was fun to listen to the truckers talk on the CB about the antics of other drivers.

We made only two stops, the first a bathroom break after the ordeal of the traffic backup and the second at the welcome center into Indiana. We have stopped in the welcome centers of the states we have been in and have gotten state maps there, but there was no one on duty here so we were unable to get the map. We did pick up some brochures from the areas that we will visit, but we wanted a map.

We had called ahead and made reservations for the KOA in Terre Haute. The prices are high ($44.00 a night for a water and electric only site), but as we later learned, it were worth it. The park office is open until 10 because it is light so late here. We sat outside until 9:30 and it was still light outside. There is supposed to have been another Heartland owner arrive here, but they did not arrive by the time we went in for the night. They serve several light meals which they bring to your site, and will serve a complimentary breakfast in the morning.

We have decided to stay here for another night if our sites in Goshen are not ready tomorrow. We are all tired from three days on the road and today's adventures wore us out. We are not scheduled to get into Goshen until Monday anyway, so we thought we may stay here for some needed rest. This park is very nice, and has some great shade trees all around. That made it nice and cool, but wouldn't allow us to use our dish antennas. We did hook up to the free cable and have a fast and free Wi-Fi connection here, so all in all it's not that bad. I wouldn't stay here long term at these rates but for a couple of days, it's all right.

So long for now,

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Friday June 5, 2009 still moving toward Goshen

We woke in Grenada Mississippi to cool temperatures, 61 degrees. Quite a change from Houston's 80's. We drank our coffee and sat around enjoying the morning.

We decided that we would drive to Sikeston Missouri to spend the night. This is the home of the famous Lambert's Throwed Rolls restaurant. We left the park at about 8:30 and made good time all morning. We stopped at a rest area in Miss. for our first pit stop. This brings back memories of my days of delivering trailers about 9 years ago. I slept in my truck in some of these same rest areas. A lot of this trip reminded me of those days.

We made only one more stop, in a Shell station/truck stop in Arkansas. Bill and Ornell picked up some fried fish that they said was wonderful, but I just got coffee. We continued on and arrived at the park in Sikeston about 1. The office was closed for lunch when we arrived, but had a sign on the front door to find a spot and come back to the office to sign in which is what we did. Stella had called ahead and made us two reservations, and since were already in our sites and registered, but about 7 o'clock, after we had returned from Lambert's, I got a call from the park, asking if we were lost. I told him no, we were sitting outside in our sites. He then realized that we had already checked in but he had neglected to check us off his list. We had a good laugh about that.

Lambert's is a great restaurant and was recently voted as best in America. I can believe it! Everything about this restaurant is first class. When you sit down, you can start off with the Throwed rolls. They get the delicious yeast rolls just after they come out of the oven so they are piping hot and throw them to the patrons that hold up their hands. It is a bad thing if you use your hands in this restaurant, because you will probably have rolls tossed at you all night long. When you order, they bring side dishes like fried okra, fried potatoes, macaroni and tomatoes, not to mention the toppings for the rolls, apple butter and sorghum syrup. You get your choice of entrees and have a large selection of side dishes with your meal, so there is absolutely no reason for someone to leave hungry. They even sent their van to the RV park to pick us up, so we wouldn't have to unhitch. Very thoughtful.

We decided on the route and stopovers for the rest of the trip. We will go to Terre Haute Indiana tomorrow and into Goshen on Sunday. This way, there is a good chance that we can go into our sites for the Heartland rally. We might even get to see our friends Jim and Reta before they leave the Mobile Suites rally.

We turned in about 8:30 when the bugs started biting us.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Thursday June 4, 2009, Travel Day

Today was the day that we have been waiting for all year. Bill had gotten everything ready on his trailer but had left the electricity hooked up to keep the fridge cold. I had done everything I could do but had left the water, Dish and of course the electricity hooked up. We had both connected the truck and trailer, so we were as ready as would have been.

Bill wanted some iced-down Dr. Pepper to take with them in the truck and had to go to the store to get them. I rode with him in Ornell's car and we also went to the donut shop to have some breakfast. We came back to the house and ate, and were ready to go soon. We left the driveway at 7:33, so it was earlier in the morning and a full day and a half earlier than we had first planned to leave. We made several stops for bathroom breaks. At one point, Stella discovered that the refrigerator was off and Bill said we were out of propane. We stopped at a Camping World store in Hammond La. and I had the tanks filled. I discovered that one tank was full and the other empty so I only had to fill one. I guess the automatic switchover valve didn't work, but both tanks are full now.

We continued on, making very good time. It is impossible for me to check my mileage because when I transfer fuel from the big tank, there is no gauge to tell me how many gallons are used. I seem to be getting good mileage because we went almost 500 miles today and I only had to fill up twice.

Along the way, I got a call from John Green, whom I used to work with in Manvel and had testified with yesterday in the DWI trial. He called to tell me that the defendant had been sentenced to 75 years in the penitentiary for his crime. Wow, I am blown away by this! I have arrested and put away bank robbers, murderers and sexual assaulters of both adults and children and this DWI conviction is the longest sentence that has ever been handed out to a defendant in my career. Wow wow wow.....It is a great way to end my long law enforcement career.

We had intended to stop in Jackson Mississippi for the night but when we got near the park, Ornell called and got a recording from the park that all spaces were filled. We drove on to Grenada Miss. and found the Frog Hollow RV Park. Now before you laugh, it is a pretty nice place with gravel roads and parking areas and grass between the sites. It's not a great place and certainly not a destination, but its okay for an overnight stay.We pulled in about 5:30 and after checking in, were soon escorted to our sites. I had 80 pounds of water pressure, and am glad I bought a water regulator in Albuquerque.

I rained off and on all day long, with some of the rain very hard. When we got here it was still threatening to rain more but the temperature was only 69 degrees! We sat outside for awhile, winding down from the long, 10 hour day of driving and trying to figure out where we will go tomorrow. We decided on Sikeston Mo. tomorrow, Terre Haute Ind. on Saturday and into Goshen on Sunday.

Now for a good night's sleep in the cool Mississippi night.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Wednesday June 3, 2009

I got up early this morning to go to Angleton for a trial on a case I had participated in when I worked in Manvel. I had gotten a search warrant to take a blood sample from the suspect when he refused to give the sample. This search warrant was a first for me and as far as I know, a first for the police dept. Actually, I don't know of many officers that have done a search warrant for blood. The suspect had already been arrested for two felony DWI's and was out on bond, so our charge was his third felony DWI charge. The results of the blood-alcohol test were almost three times the allowed amount and the sample was taken five hours after his arrest! As it turned out, he had already been convicted in one of his prior cases after just 17 minutes of jury deliberation, so we were being used in the penalty phase of the trial in an effort to get more penitentiary time for him. I learned that the District Attorney's office had requested 25 years to life as his punishment.

My testimony went very well. The defense attorney began objecting almost as soon as I had given my name and former job title. Most of his objections were overruled by the judge, so I wasn't on the witness stand for very long. I had almost forgotten how much fun it is to go up against one of these type of lawyer.

I left the courthouse as soon as I was excused and headed back to Alvin where I had found diesel fuel for $2.15 a gallon at the Murphy Bros. station at the Wal Mart. I filled up my new 100 gallon tank and wanted to save as much as I could. I saved at least .14 per gallon so it was worth the trip back to the store. I did not fill the regular truck tank until I got back to Port Arthur. I stopped at Crawdad's, a convenience store that Bill goes to all the time. I took on 15.4 gallons of diesel at $2.39 per gallon to go 282 miles for an 18.3 mog average.

I came on back to Camp Sims, but soon after I got here it started to rain. The thunder and lightning was very impressive, so we didn't get our work done in preparation for leaving tomorrow morning. as soon as it cleared off, Bill and I got everything done tonight that we could do, and hooked the trucks up to our trailers. We are as ready as we can be to leave first thing in the morning.

Stella and Ornell went to the store to buy the things we need to have for the road trip, so we should be ready to go tomorrow.

Indiana here we come......

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tuesday June 2, 2009

Since we have decided to leave on Thursday instead of Friday after noon, Bill and I needed to get our trucks serviced. Bill went to the Dodge store and I tried both the Chevrolet and the GMC dealers, but I couldn't get in until sometime this afternoon. I was told at the GMC store that the cost would be about $105.00 for an oil change. I asked why it would be so high and was told that they only sell the low ash oil that is necessary in the new emission-equipped trucks. I explained to the service writer that I don't need this oil because my truck does not have the emissions controls that the new trucks have, but he said that this oil is all they carry now. To me, this is an good example of why GM is bankrupt, they don't listen to or care about their customers. Sorry for the rant, but it gets to me when a huge company like General Motors can't take care of their business like this and the taxpayers have to bail them out.

I talked to Bill and he had found the same thing. I then found the Express Lube and got mine done. Bill took his truck to the other Dodge dealer and got his work done. His truck is newer than mine and he needs the new oil, so its not an issue for him.

I stopped off at the Crawdad's store to fill up my tanks but there was a red sack over the diesel pump, so I didn't get any fuel. I did go to the donut store and bought a couple of donuts and kolaches for our lunch. I had one of the kolaches and saved the other for Bill and Stella had the donuts. It was a pretty good lunch.

I called the Brazoria County DA's office about the subpoena I had received for a trial that began yesterday. I had called in as required and was told that I would be called in the afternoon if I was needed. I never got the call and was calling back because I knew this was a pretty important case. At this time, no one knew if I would be needed for the trial or when it would be. I guess I had not made it clear to these attorneys that I am retired and was planning to be out of state and am now in Port Arthur. One of them told me to "just come on in tomorrow morning at 8". I told her where I was and that I could not make an 8AM appointment but could make it there by 10. She called me back and said that this would be satisfactory, so I will be driving from Port Arthur to Angleton tomorrow. The only consolation is that this will likely be my last case to be called on.

Around 3 o'clock, Stella decided to wash some clothes in Bill and Ornell's washer and dryer. A thunderstorm came up and the power went out about the time her first load got through. Bill and I sat on the back porch and watched the lightning and rain falling and recounted our experiences after the storm, using the generators to power the trailers right here in the Sims' RV park. The power was restored just after Ornell got home from work. We decided that we will leave Thursday morning, but we haven't decided where we will stop. I did call the park in Elkhart where many Heartlanders are staying and they have plenty of spaces.

Monday June 1, 2009

We got up this morning and after checking emails and reading the news on the Internet, had some cereal for breakfast. We soon went outside and visited with Bill this morning. He was going into town this morning to run some errands, so we went with him. We went to the Tractor Supply store to get some fuel filters for the extra tanks on our trucks. Bill is letting me use a 100 gallon tank that he has for the trip so we won't have to stop for fuel so often. We also went to the Academy store to look at shirts for Stella and I. Ornell is going to embroider our names and a logo on the shirts. She has a computer program for doing that, and we are so grateful for her doing this for us.

We stopped off at a Weinerschneitzel hot dog store for lunch. Bill loves these things, but I wasn't hungry and didn't eat. While Bill and Stella ate their dogs, I went into the Kroger store to get some snacks for the trip. There are no Kroger stores in Port Arthur, so I had to go while we were in Beaumont.

We soon came back home and took naps. Seth had called and wanted to fry some shrimp tonight, so we got all rested up before everyone came over. I woke up to the sound of Bill's tractor running in the yard. Bill and Seth had started putting the 100 gallon fuel tank into the back of my truck. I went out and watched them get it installed and helped a little bit where I could. It looks good in the back of my truck, so now the truck is complete.

When we got through with the install, Ornell came home and wanted to go shopping before we ate. She picked up Tara and her baby Ethan, Stella and took off for the mall. We started the cooking while they were gone, and finished it up as they came back. We had shrimp, french fries, fried okra and they picked up some cole slaw and macaroni and cheese for the kids. We had another great meal.

After eating, Ornell started designing our shirts. she has already done some for her and Bill in the Landmark design, and made a Bighorn design for Stella and I. She got through with Stella's shirt and has two shirts to do for me. They look great and I can't wait to see the finished shirts. We'll be the envy of everyone at the rally next week.

Ornell also had some other good news. Her boss told her to take off when she wants to leave for Goshen. I think we'll wait until Thursday to leave, which will give us another day for traveling. It can't come soon enough for all of us.

So long for now.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Sunday May 31, 2009

Stella made us some of her pigs in a blanket for breakfast. We all sat around on the back porch and ate our breakfast and just visited, talking about our upcoming trip to Goshen Indiana for the Heartland rally.

Bill and I went to the church where he and Ornell attend and got some barbecued chickens for our lunch. Bill's kids and grandkids will probably come and we'll fix some sausage to go along with the chickens, but it will be good.

Bill took us to the Market basket store near his house to buy a few things. Stella and I went along and stocked our trailer up for the rest of the week. Bill said he finished up his shopping and got in his truck to leave, forgetting that we had ridden with him. As he was backing out, he remembered us and parked again until we got done.

Later we had our supper, and as usual, it was delicious. I don't know when we have had better food every day than we've had here with our good friends. It is nice to be around Bill and his family. They all live very close and spend a lot of time together.

Bill and I talk every day about our trip to Goshen. We are both very excited about leaving and can't wait to get on the road.

Til next.

Saturday May 30, 2009

Bill and I went to the donut shop this morning to pick up breakfast for everyone. Ornell worked last night and had just gotten home when we left. They had some different donuts here. Have you ever had a boudin kolache? Me either....It was very good. Boudin is a cajun sausage that is made with spicy meat and rice and is very tasty. I have had it many times before, just never in a kolache.

One of Bill and Ornell's granddaughters, Lily, is playing in a baseball playoff in Texas City this weekend. They won their game last night and will play at least two games today.

Bill and I got the CB radio mounted in my truck. It went in pretty well, but Bill and I had to relieve each other when we got stiff from the cramped working areas. His shoulders bother him and my back bothers me.
We got it in and got the power run to it, so we went to a CB shop that is run out of a motel room beside the Petro truck stop. The price on the antenna was the same as the Petro's price, and he included the setup of the radio and antenna at that price. He also "juiced up" my radio so it puts out more power (making the Tim the Toolman sounds) and also extends the range of the radio to about 5-6 miles. We got it all set up and immediately blew a fuse to the radio, so I had to go into the Petro to buy a box of fuses. Now it works just fine. It will come in handy on the road.

Bill had started making a beef stew in the crock pot this morning, so we had supper fixed. Stella made some cornbread to go with it, so we had a very good meal. Some of Bill's grand kids also came over and ate with us, along with daughter Tara and daughter-in-law Jackie.

We sat outside in the cool evening on the back porch until the skeeters got bad. It was a very nice day and pretty productive.

So long for now.