Thursday, June 26, 2014

Wednesday June 25, 2014-Moving Day-Rock Island KOA to Poncho's Pond RV Park, Ludington MI

We had little "stuff" out this morning, so I waited until 7:45 to even go outside to start packing to leave and we still made it out a few minutes before 9. I am very proud of us.

We stopped at a truck stop to fill the big tank on the truck. While there, as  I went to capture a Munzee, my friend John happened to call, so I answered his call and blew of the Munzees. See, my life doesn't revolve around Munzees!

We only made one more rest stop and actually made good time today, but it was still a long way- 389 miles. It made for an extra long day because this part of Michigan is on Eastern time. We both thought that when we left Virginia, we would be back on Central time for the rest of the summer, but noooooo, we're back! We were stiff and tired when we got here, but had everything set up in a short time. 

Gerry A. the chapter leader, came down to invite us to a campfire at his site. You say a campfire? In this weather? It had been chilly all day coming in and it was down into the 50's tonight. I noticed that it was foggy along the highway and when we made our last stop, the temperature showed 62! Wow, that's a 20 degree drop from what we had in Rock Island. Not that cool but when you compare that to the 90+ degree temps at home, it's downright chilly! 

So long.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tuesday June 24, 2014-Rock Island KOA, Rock Island Ill.

We went over to Le Claire IA today to visit the Antique Archaeology store where the American Pickers originates. It's about 25 miles away but it was worth it to be able to see so many things that we had seen on the TV show.

The van driven by "the boys" on the show, sitting outside the store. I have no idea if it is just a prop or actually driven by them as they find and buy their pieces.

I have seen this old Volkswagen pickup truck many times on the show, and now I got to see it in person.

The iconic old Nash that sits outside the store, rusting into the ground.

I felt right at home here because we saw many of these items when they were "picked" or bought from the previous owners.

I specifically remember when they bought the old bumper car from a carnival site.

 Lots of old small items line the shelves. I didn't check any prices because we have no interest in these, but they were cool to see.

They seem much more interested in selling their own wares, tee shirts ($20-45-gasp!), hoodies ($45), caps ($20). 

I remember when they bought the Lauren and Hardy heads and Frank wore the Hardy one around.

Remember the tiny little car that they bought for Danielle to drive? Well, here it is and it is Teeny-Tiny. As tall as she is, it doesn't seem as though she could even get in and out.

And of course, none of the stars from the show were there. I didn't really expect to see them, but it would have been a highlight if we had.

So long.

Monday June 23, 2014-Moving Day-Adventureland Campground to Rock Island KOA, Rock Island Illinois

We were up and at 'em about 7:30 this morning and even after I stopped to chat with several of the others that had stayed, we still were pulling out about ten after nine. A couple of trailers had pulled out ahead of us but once out, we were on our way down the freeway toward our next stop at Rock Island Illinois.

We made one stop along the way, more for the dogs and Stella than anything but I did cap all of the Munzees on this side of the freeway. I really do like being able to walk around and get some exercise while we are taking a break.

We pulled into the KOA about 12:30 and were soon checked in and in our nice level site. We have a nice view of a small lake. The park is quiet and right now, there aren't many other trailers here but I'm sure it will fill up some later in the afternoon.

We plan to go over to LeClaire tomorrow to visit the American Pickers store there. Please check back for that...

So long.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Sunday June 22, 2014-Adventureland Campground, Altoona IA

The rally is over and everyone seemed to have a good time. David did very well with his first rally by himself and everything came together well. David and his Dad, also a Heartland owner, had parked their trailers awning to awning and then had set up an EZ-Up shelter so we had plenty of area under shelter in case of bad weather. It was a good thing because we had several showers that rumbled through.

 The club furnished donuts and coffee on Saturday morning. I used my big coffee maker and came over about 7 and turned the coffee on so it would be ready when the crowd arrived hungry. Almost everyone came over but a few slept in and we all had a good time visiting. 

After breakfast, several went visiting the area and David and his family  and another family with young children all went over to the Adventureland Amusement park for the afternoon. David and his family had bought season passes to the park and began taking advantage of it today. 

We had a potluck dinner in the evening and had plenty of delicious food. David and his wife and another couple went back over to the park and his parents kept the two younger children, Jason and Erin and their older son, James, stayed with me, sitting around the campfire ring. James was meticulously laying a fire for later in the evening. When everyone returned, we lit off the fire and soon had a nice fire going. James did a good job and it paid off. The kids made s'more's over the fire and I was glad I didn't have to get them to bed after all that chocolate!

Sunday morning we had the leftover donuts and coffee and only a few came over. Three trailers left this morning but the rest of us stayed to have some more fun. I went out to cap a few Munzees but got rained out. David and his crew went back to the park and some went exploring the area. Ray and Judi came over for coffee in the afternoon and we enjoyed our chats with them Ray is a very skilled woodworker and showed off his headboards with very realistic leaves. 

Everyone had such a good time and we are sorry to see it end but we started getting things put away. Stella and I went into town and went out to eat at a place called Monterrey's Mexican food. It was surprisingly good and we enjoyed it. It was almost like being back in Texas. 

So long.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Thursday June 19, 2014-Adventureland Resort Campground, Altoona IA

We slept well last night, both of us being tired from our drive over here. The weather looked like rain but it never rained during the day. I wasn't able to get the Dish to work all day but we had hooked the regular antenna and had over-the-air channels to watch, including local news and weather.

Several of the others that are attending the rally including Chapter Leader David L and his family, his Dad, Gary and wife Carol, Nick and Michele and Ray and Judi all arrived and we spent some time chatting and meeting them. David and his Dad had pulled in awning to awning and David had an EZ-Up shelter that he had set up so we have a meeting place. Later in the evening, we were glad that we had this shelter up because we had some heavy rain that blew in. We sat around talking until the rain slacked up and we were able to go home for the night. It wasn't a rally day, but it certainly started the rally off well. Tomorrow the others will arrive and the rally starts!

So long.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Wednesday June 18, 2014-Moving day-Elkhart Campground to Adventureland Resort Campground

We were up pretty early this morning to make the long drive to Altoona Iowa, a distance of over 400 miles. This is longer than our normal distance but it will be all right. We hadn't really taken too much out for the extra day that we stayed in Elkhart, in fact the only thing we did while here was to wash our dirty clothes and rest up, so packing up was pretty easy. We pulled out right around 9 and within a few minutes we were back on the toll road heading west. 

We ran into the expected delay near Joliet Illinois, where we had been slowed when leaving Springfield Ill coming up. The slowdown was better today and after clearing it, we pulled into a rest area for lunch. I capped a few Munzees while we were stopped and with very heavy looking clouds threatening, we resumed out drive. We ran into some rain but it wasn't too bad and we had no problems getting through. The rain did drop the temperature to the upper 60's and I kind of wished it would be that cool when we arrived, but when we arrived it was back in the upper 80's. 

We pulled into the Adventureland Resort Campground a little after 4, but remember that we gained an hour back and are again in the Central time zone. We will stay in this zone for the rest of the summer!

The only problem I ran into was the trees surrounding our site that kept me from getting my satellite set up, but we got the over-the-air antenna put up and have limited channels, but good local news and weather. There's a silver lining to every cloud!

We are the first here for the rally and we can't wait for the others to join us. 

So long.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Monday June 15, 2014-Moving day-Madison/Pittsburgh KOA to Elkhart Campground

We were glad to get out of the dump of a KOA and actually pulled out at about 8:30AM. In about five minutes we were back on the toll road and didn't get off it all day. For a drive of almost 400 miles, it was an easy/peasy drive. The toll road is pretty smooth with plenty of Service Plazas (rest stops) that are easy off and easy back on. We made two stops and I found Munzee both times but two were way too high (on large signs) and only made a few points but got some walks in and felt pretty good after. 

We pulled into the Elkhart Campground about 4:30 and were glad to see our friend and park owner Gita. This is one of our favorite RV parks and we are always treated well here. We are in the site that Jim B was in last your for the Indiana chapter rally. Full hookups and another great view of the sky and this time I even called Dish network and got local television stations. It's a good thing too because there is threatening weather. 

We decided to stay here for an extra night to rest up and to get our clothes washed. The only time we left was to help an older man out. He had bought an older trailer that was set up here and now he wanted to get it moved to his grandson's house so he can sell it. I  agreed to move it for him and it was easy. I had forgotten how slow the old electric jacks are and how much trouble the adjustable legs are, but it helped the old fella out and I felt good about it. We stopped and bought some fuel for the long drive tomorrow, so we'll be on the road again.

So long.

Sunday June 15, 2014-Moving Day-Bethpage to Madison/Pittsburgh KOA

We were up pretty early to get ready to pull out. I had already taken the porch and steps down, as I always do and put away most of the outside furniture and other "stuff", so a lot of my work was already done. I went down to the rally hall to have the continental breakfast. It turned out to be a complete breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage and bacon and an assortment of sweet breads, a really good breakfast. Stella asked me to bring her something back, which I did after saying goodbye to lots of folks that were there for breakfast too. Hugs and handshakes were exchanged with many, including Dave and Nancy who are sadly heading back to Texas to see and love on a new grand daughter that has just been born. We'll catch up with them again at the Regional rally in Amana if not before.

We pulled out a few minutes after 9 and were soon on the freeways around Washington DC and on our way to Pennsylvania. Most of our trip today was on freeways so we made really good time. We made one pretty long rest stop in Maryland where I capped a few Munzees and got a good walk in. I think it is good for me to walk around these rest stops. We are not on that strict of a schedule and I feel so much better at the end. We made one other stop at a service plaza on the Pennsylvania toll road and pulled into the Madison/Pittsburgh KOA a bit after 5.

The first disconcerting thing that we learned about this place is that they just dug a new water well and the water is heavily chlorinated and not suitable for drinking. They had several cases of gallon bottles of spring water for the guests to use, so we took some with us. This park is a DUMP! Many long term renters are here in run down trailers and lots and lots of big dogs being walked. Our site was very unlevel to the extent that we had to unhook the truck and use the hydraulic leveling system to be able to open the slides without damaging them but once we were level, I hooked up water (for showers or flushing) and electricity. Best of all, we had a clear and unobstructed view of the sky, so the satellite dish worked! Hallelujah!!! I'm a happy camper again!

I got a good night's sleep because we were tired and had a long day and another long day tomorrow. We'll be fine... 

So long.

Saturday June 14, 2014-Bethpage Campground, Urbanna VA

Well, as usual, I haven't kept up with my blog entries and am waaaay behind. This entry will cover the rally days and then I'll get back on track.

I was very lazy and didn't take any photos, I just wasn't in the mood. The rally-goers were mostly people we didn't know and many were nice people, and overall we had a good time.

Monday was the first official day of Pre Rally, with everyone being on their own. Many were still arriving and we all spent the day getting things set up and greeting old friends. We went across the street to John and Deb B's campfire and had some nice chat time with them and others.

Tuesday morning we went to a potluck breakfast that was sponsored by the North East Region at a smaller Activities Center. There was a huge assortment of food, all delicious! There were so many people there, many had to stand or went outside to sit by the pool. There was a beach ball volleyball scheduled for 11AM but it got rained out. It should have been an interesting game, with everyone sitting in a lawn chair to play volleyball using a beach ball instead of a regular volleyball. I'm sorry it got rained out because I would have liked to see it played. We had another campfire tonight and it was even better attended. Many passerbys stopped to chat and we had a good time.

Wednesday morning we began the morning with the famous Nellie Muffins and coffee at Kevin and Nellie's trailer. The weather turned much warmer today and we had a Stay Cool at the Pool day, including a club-furnished ice cream social. There was a huge turnout and the park actually ran out of some of the ice cream goodies, but there was plenty and it cooled us off pretty well. Our friends Andy and JoAnna came in from Louisiana today and we went to eat with them and Dave and Nancy at The Virginian in downtown Urbanna. There was no campfire tonight because of rain. We were all full from supper and went on home.

Thursday the rally officially kicked off. Seminars began at 8AM but I didn't go down until 9 for my first seminar. the seminars were all good and instructive and I enjoyed them. The demo trailers were open this morning and most of us went down to look. The new model, a Landmark Newport, with a huge front bathroom arrived about noon and was the hit of the show. Jim B had taken me to see it when we were in Shipshewana a few weeks ago, so I was somewhat familiar with it. Some things had been changed since I saw it and overall I was impressed. The floorplan doesn't work for us but it will for many. The entire Landmark line will be revamped  and we will be interested in the new features. We had a welcome reception and Meet and Greet at the main rally hall and many of us were introduced. We went over the agenda along with any changes that had been made. This is a relatively a small rally (139 rigs) and we filled the hall. I can't wait for Goshen next year. It will be the 10th Anniversary rally and should fill the fairgrounds with 300 or more rigs.

Friday there were more tours of the new trailers, vendors displaying their wares in the Activity Center and more seminars filled the day. There were some youth activities this morning as several had brought a child or grandchild with them, and they had something to do today. This evening we had our first catered meal. The food was okay but not outstanding but this park forces rallies to use their vendors and won't allow outsiders to come in. Different... We had a great entertainer, a guy named Rik Roberts. He was a very funny man and best of all, no profanity at all. He began his act by dressing up as Barney Fife, and if you follow the link above, you'll see that he does resemble him. 

Saturday was the final day of touring the demo's and we later found out that McGeorge's RV's the sponsoring dealer, sold 8 units. Congrats to those that bought here. I didn't go to any more seminars today and in the afternoon we went into town and filled the truck with fuel and came back and began making preparations to leave tomorrow. We had another (better) meal tonight and then were entertained by The Beach Bumz. They are a beach-themed group that sings selections from The Beach Boys, Jimmy Buffet and other artists. Our own Deb B. entertained us with a drum solo of "Wipeout". I don't think any of us knew that she had her own band and is a good performer. Several of us came back here and we sat outside chatting and talking to folks walking by. It was a nice way to finish up the rally.

So long.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Sunday June 8, 2014-Moving day-Cherry Hill Park to Bethpage Campground, Urbanna VA

We weren't up terribly early, since we are all still tired from all the running and touring around DC but Dave and I were outside before 8, getting things ready to move. We pulled out between 9 and 9:30 and were glad to be on the road to the big rally. 

We only had about 150 miles to go and we made good time, freeway most of the way. We didn't stop anywhere for a rest or comfort stop but we did stop at a Blue Beacon Truck and Trailer wash to get our rigs cleaned up. We were probably there for an hour, there were two big trucks in line ahead of us, but we spent the time chatting with Dave and Nancy and talking about the next rally.

We were only about 60 miles away from Urbanna and even though the roads were single lanes, we made good time. When we came through Tappahanook we saw a Cyclone coming toward us. It was a couple named Bill and Kelly that I have been following on the RV-Dreams forum and who just recently bought their trailer. I told Stella that they were going the wrong way and we had a chuckle about it. Later that night, Kelly posted on Facebook about seeing a Landmark and Big Country traveling in the direction of Urbanna. I told her it was us and what I had told Stella and Kelly replied that she had said the same thing to Bill, that they were going the wrong way. 

We got here and all set up including our porch and steps by 3 o'clock or so. We saw a lot of our old friends, who stopped by to say hello and we met our neighbors from Alabama, Bill and Sue. We sat outside chatting with them for a bit and then went across the street to our friends John and Debbie to sit out by their campfire. We stayed as long as we could, and turned in. It had been a nice way to start the rally.

So long.

Saturday June 7, 2014-Cherry Hill Park, College Park MD

We decided to do the DC Downtown tour today. This is a tour by the Big Bus co. where we rode downtown to the Union Station in a Gray Line bus and got on one of the upper/lower deck from the Big Bus to ride around to 29 stops throughout the downtown area. 

This is the Freedom Bell, donated by the American Legion for the Bicentennial and cast in 1975 and dedicated in 1981. The bell traveled to all 48 contiguous states via the American Freedom Train.

This is the front of the Union Station, the major transportation hub and train station in Washington D.C. We came here to start our downtown area tours while we were here.

 The front of the US Capitol building. 

 Looking down onto the registration area for tours of the capitol

 Look upward to the Capitol Rotunda. The rotunda measures 96 feet in diameter and rises 180 feet 3 inches to the canopy. No building in Washington DC is allowed to be any taller than the Capitol building.

This is the front of the Museum of American History Smithsonian Museums. It is the only one that we toured. We also ate lunch here at a VERY expensive snack bar. Stella had a cheeseburger and I had four chicken strips with fries and we split a drink with a total bill of almost $20! Notice the green water in the fountain?

I am standing at the Smithsonian, looking back across the street with the algae-green fountain right in front of me. The building directly across the street is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). I guess the algae is something special and being protected.....

This is the Peterson House, where President Lincoln was taken after being shot and where he died. The Ford Theater is directly across the street.

This is Ford Theater where Lincoln was shot. As you can tell from the line waiting to enter, it is a very popular attraction. We were all tired and didn't feel like standing in the long line, and just seconds after I took this photo a large group of students got in line, so we were doubly glad we hadn't gotten off.

We returned to the Union Station to wait for our bus back to the park. We were picked up by our friendly driver from the other night, Ralph. We had a nice, quick drive back and we were soon at home and resting from three days of touring. 

I told you that our stay here began on a bad note and I am still upset at the lack of services at a high-priced park, but it is very convenient to park here and have the Gray Line buses pick you up as well as public transportation via Metro. If you are planning a trip here, you would be wise to consider this place.

So long.

Friday June 6, 2014-Cherry Hill Park, College Park MD

To continue from yesterday, and our very late night, we all decided to sleep in this morning and then decide what to do today. After coffee and breakfast we decided to drive over to the Arlington National Cemetery. We had been warned against driving into Washington but we looked at the route, I decided that I wasn't scared of the traffic (I've been driving in Houston most of my life!) and volunteered to drive. The trip wasn't bad after all, mostly freeway and a pretty drive. 

 Getting ready to go, waiting for the tram. They have many trams running constantly through the cemetery, and we could get off and look, then board another one and continue. 

 Here we are, ready to pull out. The weather was very pleasant with no clouds and warm- but not hot- temperatures, a perfect day to walk the hallowed grounds of Arlington.

 A view of many of the approximately 400,000 graves at the cemetery. There are 624 acres here. The Arlington House, at the top of a hill overlooking Washington, was the home of Robert E. Lee and contains some original furniture from his house.

 The graves of President John F. Kennedy and his widow, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. 

 The changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown.

 A very moving demonstration of military precision.

 There were a lot of folks here today.

 We also saw a wreath-laying ceremony. There were a group of 6 school-age children that laid the wreath. There was no explanation of who the wreath was dedicated to.

I thought the flag at half staff was fitting to end this.

So long.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Thursday June 5, 2014-Cherry Hill Park, College Park MD

The weather messed up our plans today. We had originally planned to go to an all day tour of Washington D.C. but it rained yesterday afternoon and then all night and we cancelled this trip (for now). We did go to the Gray Line "DC at Night" tour, starting late in the evening.

This was the bus that picked us up, driven by a nice man named Ralph. He was a very experienced driver and knew a lot about Washington D.C. and the attractions. 

 Here is everyone in our seats, ready to go. Stella, Nancy and Dave, our traveling companions since we left Texas. 

 As many times as I've seen the Capitol building, I am still impressed with how huge the building is. I will have more photos of the building on another entry.

 This was our view of the White House. This is the south lawn, where the Easter egg hunt is held and other family activities. We didn't have time to walk to the other side of the building tonight. The Secret Service controls the access areas around the White House and our driver parked as close as he could.

 I zoomed my camera in for a better view of the White House. Don't worry, the Obamas were out of the country.

 The very impressive Washington Monument.

The Iwo Jima monument is another impressive monument. We have seen another monument in Harlingen a few years ago. 

 The Washington monument after dark.

 The Lincoln memorial after dark.

The Thomas Jefferson memorial. 

A statue of President Franklin Roosevelt at his memorial. His memorial has no steps

We were somewhat short of time tonight because a daytime trip ran over, so we were late in being picked up and didn't get to go to all of the nighttime sights found in DC. Even so, we ran into heavy traffic on the highway back to the park and didn't get back until after midnight. This, in turn, affected our plans for tomorrow's plans. Please come back to see what we did then.

So long.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Wednesday June 4, 2014-Moving day-Dixie Caverns RV Park to Cherry Hills RV Park, College Park MD

We were up and at 'em this morning and did real well getting things packed up and actually pulled out at 9:01, when we had shot for 9 o'clock. Right on schedule! 

We had freeways and good highways all the way and made one stop  for lunch at a highway rest area just the other side of Harrisonburg VA. It was a good stop because there were several Munzees that I was able to cap and we all grabbed sandwiches and were soon on our way again. Traffic started building after getting on the beltway around Washington DC but we still made good time. Both Dave and I got to use our air horns at the crazy drivers up here but we made it okay. We got here to the Cherry Hills RV Park just before 2PM. That's when the wheels started falling off...

We had asked for a pull through site and had agreed to pay an extra $5 a day to get it. I asked specifically for one because I had been told that satellite reception would be better and I wanted that! We were told that no one had written it down when the reservation was made, so we had to take a back in site. Not bad, except that we were right up against the forest with very tall trees that block the satellites. We even changed spaces in hopes of better reception, but it was not to be. We went to a meeting about tours of Washington and using the public transportation, and while there, we were told to call the office to complain about the wifi or if our cable reception was fuzzy. When we got back home, I did call the office to report the wifi but was brushed off with a "we'll check it out" comment to get me off the phone. Then I went out and hooked up the cable but as I should have known, the reception was very fuzzy. I didn't bother to call back after being ignored on my first call. Incidentally, the wifi is still unavailable and I am on my own air card. We are paying a high price for this place and won't use most of their features (pool, hot tub, restaurant (way overpriced!), miniature golf and ice cream bar) but we do expect to be able to use the ones that we need. Very bad start to this trip. Off my soap box now.

We will be visiting DC tomorrow and I'll have some good photos.

So long.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Tuesday June 3, 2014-Dixie Cavern RV Park

Today is our last full day here and we have really enjoyed some down time. This place is very quiet and off the beaten path, although there is a huge turnover of folks coming and going here.  The wifi has been outstanding in this park and I have certainly taken advantage of it. Except for writing more on this blog...

Our friends and traveling companions, Dave and Nancy returned last Thursday and we have dined out with them a few times. Dave played golf one day and I went and capped some Munzees, so we both have been able to take care of our own interests and pastimes.

Dave and Nancy grilled burgers for us one evening and Stella made a big breakfast of pancakes and scrambled eggs, so we haven't been eating out every meal! 

We went for a drive up into the country and saw some pretty scenery but it's just my opinion, but the mountains here are, while pretty in their own green way, they are nothing like the Rocky mountains or the Bighorns in Wyoming. I'm sure that we'll return to the Appalachians some day and will enjoy our stay, but truly they're not our favorite.

We have not really met anyone here but have had some nice chats with folks that are staying here. While Stella and Nancy did the laundry, I sat in the truck and struck up a conversation with a couple that are also staying here. I talked to another Heartland owner named Mack who is from Idaho and just recently bought their Bighorn trailer. He and his wife just sold their farm and are exploring the country. We had a very nice chat about comparing some of the places that we've been. They are going through an exciting time and I wish them well. 

We will be leaving here tomorrow for College Park Maryland, which is near Washington D.C. so I'll surely have some fine photos to share soon.

So long.