Archive for September, 2008

Musings at Journey’s End 9/11/08

September 12, 2008 - 3:25 pm No Comments

We had a good night’s sleep in Paducah, KY, Wednesday night.  Temperatures were more moderate so we know we are getting close to home.   We had a quick breakfast and headed toward home around 8:30 a.m.   It’s a beautiful day for driving.  We arrived home in the middle of the afternoon and our little 91 year old neighbor greeted us.   He and his wife miss us when we are gone, so they were happy to see us home again.

I told you I was going to do a “Lessons Learned” entry; but to be honest, we were so well prepared, we really didn’t have too many lessons to learn.  Kudos to us!   LOL

According to our good friend Bill Bailey, the first item on our next travel agenda is to throw away the agenda.  Absolutely no commitments any time any where!   We’ll get there when we get there.   So here are a few points that we were thinking today as we drove home:

1.  Stay longer next time.   One month is not enough.

2.  Illinois has the worst roads we’ve driven on.   Second is Iowa.   Where are the fuel tax dollars going?

3.  Always have internet access and cell phone access, but if not, go with the flow.

4.  RVers are happy campers.

5.  Sirius Radio rocks!

6.  A must for any road trip:   The book “Exploring the Next Exit”.  Also, the Woodall’s Campground Directory.

7.  Be a member of the Good Sam Club.

8.  RVing is hard work, but totally worth the effort.

9.   When we are RVing, Bikers are our “peeps”.

10.  Most RVers travel with a menagerie of pets; mostly dogs (big and small).   Unbelieveable!!

A few stats from our trip  FYI:

1.  Drove 5,800 miles

2.  Bought 367 gallons of diesel fuel

3.  Average price for diesel was $4.29/gallon

4.  Campground prices ranged from a low of $21/night in Paducah to a high of $62/night in Jackson, WY

5.  We only ate out 5 times during the entire month (lunch and dinner), and I still had one casserole left for dinner the night we returned home!   Ya gotta laugh at that!

Enough of this, we are still amazed and happy that so many of you enjoyed the blog.   It was fun having you all along for the ride.   And what a ride it was!    We’ll  have another big trip next year; either Alaska or the New England States.   I’ll let you know so you can join us again.   Now this doesn’t mean that we aren’t going anywhere until the next big trip.   We are going to Maggie Valley, NC for a week in October; two weeks in Longboat Key Florida next February; two weeks in Longboat Key Florida next May; and whatever else strikes our fancy.   These short trips are strictly condo trips.

The photos on this entry are a sampling of photos that we haven’t posted before.  We have a total of 485 photos to choose from!     Hope you join us on our next adventure.     Bonnie and Greg

What a difference a Day Makes! 9/10/08

September 10, 2008 - 3:14 pm No Comments

We had a wonderful night’s sleep and awoke to 56 degrees!     By noon it was 70, and by 3 p.m. it was 84 degrees.   I shed my jeans, socks and tennis shoes at lunch and put on shorts and flip flops.   Now this is the south!

We drove through Illinois today, with home on our mind.   We were just about to stop for a sandwich at a rest stop when we saw a sign for Cracker Barrel, the first one we’ve seen since we left home 4 weeks ago.   So we decided to have a nice veggie lunch at the Cracker Barrel.    Back on the road again, we stopped at a beautiful rest stop near Rend Lake.   The rest stop was situated right on the lake, so we decided to stay a while and have some refreshments while looking at the lake.

We stopped for the night near Paducah, Kentucky at the Duck Creek RV Park.  And low and behold, the owners used to live in Chattanooga, work for TVA (years ago) and still own a house on Dayton Blvd.   So we talked about good old Chattanooga and the changes that have taken place in the last 20 years.   The owners said they were charter members of the Aquarium (and so were we!) so it was a fun introduction.

We are excited about getting home tomorrow and getting back to our normal routine.   I’m going to finish my blog with a “lessons learned” entry for the last day.   Right now I can’t think of the lessons I’ve learned, but I’m sure with a little rest, I’ll remember them!  LOL

Here’s a photo of our new awnings—aren’t they awesome???   Stay tuned.

A Fun Day at Winnebago 9/9/08

September 9, 2008 - 5:11 pm No Comments

Well, I was right about not sleeping last night!    We slept for about 4 hours and then tossed and turned the next 4 until 5:30 a.m. when we got up!   Pitch black dark outside, cold, good grief!   We didn’t know what to expect today and there are so many folks here getting all sorts of service, from all over the US, it just seemed like chaos to us.   We ate a bowl of cold cereal in the pitch black dark (this reminds me way too much of working for a living!)   We were sitting at the entrance gate of Winnebago at 6:30 a.m. (our boys say it’s the Trotter curse to always be early for any appointment)

At any rate, we weren’t alone, because right there with us were lots of big rigs pulling into the parking lot at the same time.  When the doors opened at 7:00 a.m., we were all there like a bunch of pigeons.   Still seemed like chaos to us.   But low and behold, soon after we sat down in the waiting room, along with 50 other retirees, order seemed to take over.   It reminded me of a hospital waiting room.  One “service technician” at a time came out of a door and called a name.  That service tech would come over, shake the hand of the owner of the rig, and sit down to discuss what the issues of the day were.   Pretty soon, a nice fellow named Larry came out of the door and called our name.   He shook Greg’s hand and talked with us about installing the awnings.   Greg asked if the screws were stainless steel or aluminum (you know Greg) and he answered that the screws were aluminum.   That’s good, you know.   So Larry takes the keys to the View and disappears with it behind the outside service doors.  

In the meantime we are getting to know all the folks sitting around us.  Retirees who travel are such an interesting bunch.   We met folks from all over, and everyone was in such a jolly mood.   They told stories of their travels, things that have happened (funny and not so funny) and basically enjoyed the wait time.   Some of the folks read books, some of the women did crafts, some of us wished we were asleep, and it got to be a big joke when someone would say “what time is it”, and the others would groan and say “it’s only 7:45 a.m.”  Quite funny, but I guess you had to be there.  One couple was just returning from Alaska, so they gave us some good info.  

We went over to the visitor center intending to go on the plant tour, but when we arrived, the hosts in the visitor center said they were expecting a bus full of “seniors” who were coming over from a nearby town to take the tour.   We waited and waited and they did not show up and the tour was not going without them.  We were the only two people other than the “seniors” to take the tour, so they were not going to leave without them.   We enjoyed the museum in the visitor’s center showing the history of the Winnebago.  We decided to forego the tour since we had seen the documentary about the plant.   The hosts said that the tour had been greatly curtailed due to recent loss of employees (Layoffs).   We thought there might be a chance that Larry would have our rig finished so we headed back to the service center.  Shortly we saw Larry pulling our rig back into the parking lot.   He showed us what he had done and how to use the awnings (pull them down, pull them up, I can do that).  We headed out around 11:00 a.m. and drove all day arriving in Galesburg, Illinois this evening.   OK, I’ll admit it, we are tired tonight, so we decided to stay in a Holiday Inn Express.  I know there’s a joke in there somewhere, but I cannot for the life of me remember what it is.   We talked with Ben and he laughed saying, “I think this is the 3rd night you’ve stayed in a hotel since you left home”.  OK, OK, Ben, don’t rub it in.   Three days out of 27 is not that bad, is it?

This morning a nice lady talking with us said that once she’s on the way home, she just wants to get home.   This from a lady who has been gone from home since May!    But we know what she means; we are tired, and it’s just not as much fun driving home as it was driving westward.   But what a great time we’ve had.

We hope to get down toward Paducah, KY, by tomorrow evening (yes we will camp somewhere) and then get back home on Thursday evening.   Stay tuned.

Eastward to Forest City, Iowa 9/8/08

September 9, 2008 - 4:09 pm No Comments

We had some drizzle again during the night but the temperature was more moderate than in the past couple of weeks.  Our campground last night was very nice.  It was a small private campground and so quiet!  We enjoyed it very much.

Every evening when we pull into a campground someone asks us how we like our rig.  They are mostly owners of the big 40′ rigs which get 5 mph.  A lot of the folks have said they have researched our Winnebago and are thinking of downsizing due to cost of running their rig and ease of use of ours.  We definitely know we’ve made the right decision for our needs by buying the Winnebago View.

We drove through the lower portion of Minnesota today and then into Forest City Iowa by 3:00 p.m.  We arrived at the Winnebago Plant to check in for tomorrow’s appointment.  To our surprise, the parking lot was full of RV’s—all sizes.  There are a few overnight sites near the service building with electric hookups for those waiting for service.  Those spots were already taken, so we were sent across the road to the Winnebago Rally site.  This is a field full of electric hookups (hundreds) that is used for the yearly Winnebago owners rally.  There must be at least 15 of us over at the rally site, spending the night for an early morning appointment.  We have to be at the gate at 7:00 a.m. in the morning to be processed in for the awning install.  While they are working on our rig we will go through the visitor center and take the plant tour.   Hope we will be on our way by mid-day.   I bet we will not sleep a wink tonight!!! 

Stay tuned.

Driving through South Dakota 9/7/08

September 7, 2008 - 3:25 pm No Comments

This morning we awoke to a light drizzle and for the first time on this trip, Greg had to wear his rain poncho outside to unhook our electricity and water.   Just a slight drizzle, though; so we certainly cannot complain.

We had a full day of driving today, plus, we entered the central time zone so we lost an hour.   At any rate, we stopped in Wall, South Dakota, again, to spend a little more time browsing in the famous Wall Drug Store.  Greg got a cup of their famous 5 cent coffee, and a home baked donut.   He was a happy camper.

We drove back through the Badlands but what a change in weather.   When we arrived in the Badlands of South Dakota on the way out, the temperature was 103 degrees with a very hot sun.   Today the temperature is 60 degrees and we have an overcast sky.

We are camping tonight in a very small private campground called Fami-li-Fun.  We’ve discovered that some of the best places to stay are private.   The couple who own this campground live right on the grounds.   As a matter of fact, as we were walking around this evening, the wife of the owner walked across the path with a home made apple pie, looks like they are sharing dinner with someone, but we were not invited.  LOL   We are under shade trees and have internet access, TV channels by antenna, and full hookups for only $23.   That’s a bargain!

We are going to sleep well here.   We have to drive 285 miles tomorrow to arrive in Forest City, Iowa where we will spend the night in the Winnebago campground.   Our appointment is 7:00 a.m. Tuesday morning to have our window awnings installed.

Stay tuned.

Devil’s Tower and Sturgis 9/6/08

September 6, 2008 - 3:56 pm No Comments

We heard some rain this morning before we got up, and it was 49 degrees when we started stirring around.   I’ve said it before but we’ve had such good weather on this trip it’s hard to believe our luck.   We’ve driven through a couple of small showers, but the rain seems to be “over there” and not where we are.

We left Sheridan, Wyoming this morning, and the “Peter D’s RV Park”.   What a great little private park.   It was very level, had very clean restrooms/showers, and we had all the amenities we wanted–cable TV, WIFI, and full hookups.   The owner, Peter, was so personable and we really enjoyed talking with him.   He wanted to make sure our stay was a pleasant one, and it sure was.

On the road this morning we saw all sorts of wildlife which thrilled Greg.   We saw wild turkey, and lots of wild antelope in the fields.   We tried taking photos, but they are the same color as the fields and it is hard to spot them.

We arrived at the Devil’s Tower National Monument around lunch time and had lunch while here.   The legend of the Devil’s Tower is that of the Kiowa indians:  eight children (seven sisters and their brother) were playing and the brother suddenly was struck dumb; he trembled and began to run on his hands and feet.  His fingers became claws and his body was covered with fur.   Directly there was a bear where the boy had been.   The sisters were terrified; they ran and the bear ran after them.  They came to the stump of a great tree, and the tree spoke to them.  It told them to climb upon it, and as they did so, it began to rise in the air.  The bear came to kill them, but they were just beyond it’s reach.   It reared upon the tree and scored the bark all around with it’s claws.  The seven sisters were borne into the sky, and they became the stars of the Big Dipper.   It was named Devil’s Tower in 1875, and became the first national monument in 1906 (by Theodore Roosevelt).   From the photo you will see the scoring around the monument.   It was an imposing sight to see.

For some reason, prairie dogs are abundant at the base of this rock mountain and people can get very close to them.  

We continued on our way through Spearfish, South Dakota, and then on into Sturgis, South Dakota, the home of the famous Sturgis motorcycle rally every August.    We saw the main street where all the motorcycles park during the rally.   It’s basically a ghost town now, with hardly anyone around.  Still interesting to drive down this famous street.  When we stopped for gas in Sturgis, I figured our mileage and we have driven 4,000 miles to date!

We arrived in Rapid City, South Dakota, around 3:30 p.m. and we are staying in a nice little campground called Happy Holiday RV Park which is near Mt. Rushmore.  The note at the entrance says “Frowns are not allowed at this campground.  If you feel compelled to have one, leave it at the dump station and pick it up when you leave”.   Now, didn’t we tell you that retired RVers are the happiest folks around?

Just about the time Greg finished hooking up our electricity and water, we had a little downpour of rain.   But that’s fine—we are comfy in our RV and will have a nice dinner of veggie ravioli with meat sauce, and a fresh salad, and for dessert,  my home made sour cream pound cake.   Greg’s a happy camper.

We will continue east across South Dakota tomorrow with our goal of getting to the Winnebago Plant in Forest City, Iowa, by Monday evening.   Stay tuned.


Lunch at Little Big Horn 9/5/08

September 5, 2008 - 5:47 pm No Comments

First of all, I’d like to thank all of you again who have commented on our web site.   We have been pleased to know that so many of you are traveling along with us.   A special hello to our friends (through Ben) in Russia–Evgheny, Masha, Grisha, and Katya.  And we need to say Happy Birthday to Greg’s sister, Pam, who along with her husband Werner, were such great hosts for us when we visited them in Cody, Wyoming.

It was 37 degrees this morning when we left the hotel in Bozeman, MT.   We had a good night’s sleep, a very good continental breakfast, so we were ready for the road by 8:00 a.m.   We decided last night that we should not try to go through North Dakota and Minnesota, since our time is short; so we opted to drive back through South Dakota and Illinois on our way to Iowa.   It turns out that this was a good decision, because we won’t have to drive so many miles per day and we will have time to enjoy things along the way.

Around lunchtime we came across the Battlefield of the Little Big Horn, Custer’s Last Stand.   This is a national park and monument, along with the battlefield complete with markers showing where certain things happened.   Before we started our visit, we had lunch in our Rig right there in the parking lot of the visitor’s center.   Then we started our visit by going through the museum, which was full of artifacts from the battle.   It’s absolutely amazing to see notes that Custer wrote while on the battlefield, clothing, buttons, even a wedding ring.    The battleground is still full of artifacts, so they are strict about visitor’s picking up anything from the field.   A Park Ranger made a wonderful presentation on the battle as we sat right in the middle of the hill where Custer made his last stand.   The battle took place in 1877; Custer was there with 210 men to convince the rogue indian tribes that they should move to the reservations.   This battlefield is in the middle of the Crow Indian nation, and the Crows were actually helping Custer and his men because the other tribes were their enemies.   Unfortunately for Custer and his men, there were 2,000 indians who attacked their position on the hill.   The story from indian survivors is that the indians shot so many arrows into the air the sky turned black, and when the arrows came down, they killed many men and horses.   All 210 men were killed, including Custer; no number of indians lost is given because there is no record of this.   Custer was buried at West Point where he graduated; the other officers’ bodies were shipped home in accordance with their families’ wishes, and the rank and file soldiers were left on the battlefield.   There is a monument which has a mass grave under it, and other markers on the hill, some with names and others not.  There are no indians buried here because indians always took their dead back to their villages for burial.   There is, however, a monument honoring the indians who fought in this battle.  Some of the tribes involved in this battle were Lakotas, Cheyenne, and Sioux.

We made it to Sheridan, Wyoming, this afternoon, and we are in a nice little park on the edge of town.  There are five male mule deer right in front of our RV in a field less than 50 yards away.  Greg is having fun watching them graze.   The campground is small, but we have cable TV, WIFI, and full hookups for $29.  The first order of business, after setting up, was to get some laundry done.    Luckily, I had the laundry room to myself, so I got everything done before supper.   Dinner tonight was beef stew, rice, leftover green beans, and for dessert strawberry shortcake.

Tomorrow we will head out toward South Dakota and will stay in a campground around Rapid City, South Dakota.   Stay tuned.

A drive through Montana 9/4/08

September 4, 2008 - 5:59 pm No Comments

This morning the temperature was 41 degrees.    We’ve become accustomed to getting dressed quickly because even though our RV is comfortable, you can’t just walk around in your pj’s.   We decided to pack up and have breakfast at a little cafe right down the road from our campground.    It was a small cafe, with young folks waiting on tables.   Greg had pancakes, actually one huge pancake, made from wheat flour, oats, and other stuff he was not familiar with.   I had the usual toast and eggs and they always serve hash browns out west rather than grits.   We enjoyed eating out this morning and after stopping to fill the diesel tank again, we were on our way.   Glacier is right on the edge of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, so the area outside the park does not seem to be doing very well.

We drove through several small towns this morning; one was Cutbank, Montana, and I have a photo of the main street posted here.   Talk about a small town!!   One little street and that’s it.   These folks out here love the west, probably couldn’t stand to be in a town the size of Chattanooga, but to us, it’s very lonely looking.   Guess you have to be born here to appreciate it.

We’ve learned out here in Montana to always ask about the road conditions before starting a trip.   Even though a road looks good on the map, it could be a disaster in every other way.   So tonight we are trying to map out the next few days so we can stay on track to arrive in Forest City, Iowa, by Monday evening.   We have an appointment Tuesday morning at the Winnebago plant to have window awnings installed.   While there, we hope to do the tour of the Winnebago plant.   You know Greg would love to see how his View was made.

We are spending tonight in a hotel in Bozeman, Montana.   We drove 400 miles today; we are tired, and we want to have good internet connection so we can plan the rest of our trip.   We walked next door to an Outback Steak House for a great dinner.  

We have reluctantly tured eastward on the journey home.   Can hardly believe we have just a little over a week to go before we are home again.   We’ve learned so much on this trip which we can use on our next one to make it even better.   As I said early on, the most important thing:   DO NOT HAVE A SCHEDULE!

Stay tuned.

NO WAY!!!!! 9/3/08

September 3, 2008 - 6:24 pm No Comments

We got ready this morning for a pickup time of 9:30 a.m. by the Red Bus Tours.   They actually came to our campground to get us.   There were 2 other couples waiting at the office with us.   At 9:30 the bus came up to our campground and we were off on our day trip through Glacier National Park.   The Red Bus has an interesting history.   There are 33 original buses from 1936 and have been refurbished by Ford Motor Company.   The bus has a “roll back” top, which is canvas, and about 16 folks were on the bus with us.   The roll back top is perfect for this tour because of the dramatic heights of the mountains.  We could take photos from every possible angle.

We noticed the young man who was our guide and driver had a name tag on his cap which said “Wayne, Georgia”.   So I asked if he was from Georgia.   We talked about football some; he told us that UTK lost their game on Monday!   At any rate, I asked where he was from and he said “Milledgeville”.   NO WAY!!!!  This is Greg’s hometown.   He graduated last year from my alma mater, Georgia College and State University.    A couple sitting in front of us said they were also from Milledgeville.   Their son, a good friend of our driver Wayne, was also out here working in Glacier for the summer so they were visiting.   The man told us his name, and low and behold, he graduated from Georgia College the same year as me, and had also attended Georgia Military College the same years as Greg.   His name sounded familiar; I’m sure if I look in my old yearbook I would remember him.   So everyone on the bus laughed at us calling out names we knew from the past, and we all knew the same folks.   The two young fellows (driver and friend) got a kick out of us telling stories from 40 years ago which happened at their college.   What a small world!!!   The young man who was our guide did a terrific job guiding us through the park.   I told him I would call his Mother next time we are in Milledgeville and tell her what a great job he did today.    

Glacier is the most beautiful park we’ve ever seen.   There’s a good reason they do not allow motor homes on this road.   It is hazardous, and so narrow that at times only one car could pass.   We saw the Jackson Glacier which will probably be gone within 20 years or less.   What a loss!   We had dramatic changes in temperatures today; warm, cold, rain, snow, everything.   We stopped for lunch at a lodge in the park and had a great meal.   While we were in the lodge we sat by a blazing fire, which felt wonderful considering how cold we were in the open bus on the way up to the lodge.   We walked the “Trail of Cedars” which has the oldest trees in the park.  Huge cedar trees in a quiet forest; it was something to see and enjoy.  We also saw an osprey nest with mama and two babies.  Got a great photo of a mountain goat sitting on a ledge, and a deer standing quietly on the side of the road, obviously used to the traffic.

The trip lasted until 4:30 p.m. when Wayne brought us back to the campground.   We really enjoyed the  day; it was money well spent.  Tomorrow we head out back toward home through Montana and then North Dakota.   We have enjoyed our visit here in Glacier immensely and will never forget it’s beauty.  Photos will be published asap.   Stay tuned.


Interesting day going to Glacier National Park 9/2/08

September 3, 2008 - 5:59 pm No Comments

We had a little rain last night but by morning it was clear and crisp with a temperature of 36 degrees.

Since we have a short drive today to Glacier we had a leisurely breakfast and enjoyed a hot cup of coffee before heading out.  After filling the diesel tank and propane tank we got on the road around 9:30 a.m.  We had a beautiful day of driving.   The temperatures warm up quickly out here so by noon it was 60 degrees.

We had a very interesting morning.  We passed a sign on the highway that said “vegetables”.  I told Greg to be sure to stop.   We saw the sign again at the entrance to a farm so we turned in.  This looked like a big isolated farm community.    Then we noticed barracks, very neat, with clothes lines, nice flowers.  Then on the clothes lines were clothes appearing to be in the Amish style.  We drove around the corner, and there was a building which had vegetables sitting out front.  As I approached the door, a group of young girls (12-15 yrs old) came out and welcomed me in.  They were dressed in the Amish style with bonnets.  They giggled and asked where I was from because I had an accent (huh?)

A couple of the girls showed me the vegetables and I picked out several things — beautiful corn, green beans, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes.   Fresh from the ground.  One of the girls told me they were “Hutterites”.  I presume this is a religious sect.  The girls were terrific and children came from every corner to see us.  The girl told me they are self contained and do not leave the farm.  I’m anxious to read about this sect on the internet.

We are in very desolate country today; miles and miles of huge farms, no road signs, etc. We even hit a patch of road ( 8-10 miles) that was not even paved.  I’ve taken a photo just to show Allan and Ben how much mud is on their Dad’s Rig.  You know he was pitching a fit while driving through this muck!   LOL

At any rate, our campground at Glacier is Johnson’s RV Park.  We are sitting on top of a hill overlooking a lake (St. Mary’s) and beautiful mountains of Glacier.  A nice couple came in at the same time as us, and we hit if off so we had dinner with them at a little cafe near the campground. They are from Texas and have been in Canada–gone from home since May!  Peggy and Lowell Reeves–great folks!

No TV or WIFI tonight so we are listening to CNN on the Sirius radio.  Tomorrow we will be on a Red Bus Tour on the “Road to the Sun” which goes straight across the park.  RV’s are not allowed on this road due to it’s hazardous condition.   Cars can use this road.   Stay tuned.

Will have to post photos later.   Having trouble with internet.  AGAIN!

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