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Archive for ‘April, 2021’

RV Day 5

Saturday, April 10, 2021

So we wake up after sleeping restlessly in steady rain all night in Kansas City, MO. We have managed to figure out the heating system so we’re not freezing and can turn on the heat! Showers and hot coffee and hot breakfast heated up on the stove ensue. The Microwave seems to be dead and off our list of usable appliances for the duration of the trip. Bummer but we will survive because we have a gas stove.

So here we are, ready to leave on our day’s journey and I get in the drivers seat and start the engine. I look around at the gauges and controls and see the 4 way flashers are on (emergency flashers). This is strange because we never turned them on intentionally. Okay, so turn them off. Wait, where is the switch? Can’t find it. Search and search to no avail, it’s not here. The back up dash cam is also on. Even driving forward. This is all strange. We search and search and can’t figure it out. So we call our contact at the dealer where we picked the RV up. He has today off but he is such a nice guy that he takes on our dilemma. He searches records and I send him photos of all parts of the dashboard and we can’t figure this out. So he promises to keep trying. We drive away with our Flashers on and find a Dealership for RV’s and they seem baffled also. Until the technician inadvertently moves a plug on the dashboard and voila! There is the switch! Problem solved! Even the back up camera is corrected!

So we drive on and I even get some photos of Water Towers which I have quite a collection of!

Now we have lost almost 3 hours that we thought we’d be driving but we try to keep to our plan. We have spotted a place called “Truckhenge” that has peaked our interest and it is just over an hour from us in Topeka. We arrive there and we have to drive by car and truck junkyards and construction sites. Wow, this is becoming comical! But we come across this derelict property but recognize this must be the place as we see trucks sticking out of the ground!

So we manage to turn the RV around at the end of a narrow dirt path and park outside of Truckhenge as the driveway appears to be too narrow to navigate our Beast into. We walk into the property and don’t see anyone. So we browse around and don’t make any effort to hide our presence. Sure enough, after 5 minutes, and older man with a full scraggly beard comes out and makes his presence known as the owner. He is pleasant and jovial and begins regaling us with stories of his past and how he came about creating his art, which includes chain saw carvings, junk turned into art, exhibits named “Boathenge, Truckhenge, Carhenge”, etc. I dub some of his displays, “Bottlehenge”, “Bicycle Tree”, among others including a “Shoe Fence”. This man talks 3-5 times faster than normal. The words fly out of his mouth! I can only understand a little of what he says but Elee understands most of it, LOL. She says it’s because she is from New York! He invites us to return with our own spray paint cans and to decorate his displays any way we like! Reminds us totally of “Cadillac Ranch” in Texas that we visited a few years back. We even spot 3 beautiful Peacocks wandering the property and one of them even preens its feathers for me!

I think the important part of his friendliness here is when I ask him his admission price and he says he only asks for a donation. I give him a $20 bill and he seems quite pleased.

Then, when we are finished visiting his outdoor displays, he invites us inside to see his “Gallery”. This consists of bedsheets painted with amazingly good portraits and other eclectic images! He even shows us his working elevator made out of a forklift rig. I look around and also see an elaborate array of wire cabling that looks like computer connections and CCV camera wiring! This guy is as eclectic as they come (some might call him “Crazy as a Loon”!), but it is clear that he has made his own way of living! A lot of the property looked like a junkyard, but there was evidence of talent everywhere!

We take a few more photos of his “Bottle Walls” and bid him adieu. He lastly shows us a beat up rail car that is literally full of bones. Bones from ancient animals and not so ancient animals. We drive away and gas up the RV to the tune of $125 for 46 gallons of gas. We were at 1/4 tank so I guess it is a 60 gallon tank (225 Liters for my friends across the pond!) Bank account appropriately drained, we drive on west through Kansas.

As we drive, we keep seeing billboards for “OZ Winery” in “Wamego”, Kansas. Since the Wizard of Oz had a basis in Kansas, we are intrigued and turn off the highway to find this magical place! It turns out to be a 20 minute drive off the highway which we almost turn back around because it seems to be taking too much time out of our abbreviated allotment for the day. But we keep on and find the little magical town of Wamego and quickly spot the Oz Winery.

We go in and the place is very charming. All of their wine labels make reference to the Wizard of Oz in some way! We order a Wine Flight of 3 whites and one red. The Red is named humorously as “O.E.O.” (Sing those letters with the movie! Oh-EE-Oh, Oh-E-Oh) It stands for “Oenological Experts of Oz (OEO). Had to laugh! Back out on the streets, we see the town has a collection of “Toto’s”, the little dog of Dorothy’s in the movie!

We then head back on the road and go west again. An hour later we come across Abilene, Kansas. Making fun of the name, we sing, “mAbilene, why can’t you be true?” But to be honest, we are intrigued at what Abilene has to offer so we pull off the highway and check it out. We discover this is the place where Dwight D Eisenhower grew up. His Presidential Library and Boyhood Home is here. Too bad it is closed today. But we drive around it and take some photos.

We drive on towards Wakeeney, Kansas, out destination for the night. We arrive at sunset and check into our spot in a KOA Campground. Then we head out to find dinner at a restaurant Elee found earlier, named, “Western Kansas Saloon & Grill”. What an appropriate name for a steak house in Western Kansas! Turns out we are waited on by the owner herself! What a sweet lady, Jacinda! (I apologize for the horrible lighting on your face Jacinda!) She is old enough to easily be our daughter! We converse and kibitz with her and she serves us a marvelous dinner of Kansas Strip Steak and Prime Rib! Life is good! They tell a story of olden days where gambling was done in the basement! There was a small hole in the floor where someone would drop a walnut into the basement whenever the Law walked in as a reminder to pack up the gambling! If you ever make it to Wakeeney, Kansas, this should be the top of your list for dinner!

We get The Beast back to our Campground and set up the RV, getting the water and electrics connected. We kick back and I have time to get my thoughts typed into this blog. So goodnight for now and we’ll see you all in the morning!

RV Day 4

Friday, April 9

So we wake today in the winery’s parking lot to a beautiful day! We are 90 minutes from St Louis. We find a Cracker Barrel Restaurant for breakfast and pig out on an ungodly amount of food including eggs and bacon, hash brown casserole, biscuits and gravy and even Catfish and Grits! I should be walking this off, but instead we will ‘drive’ it off, LOL

As we drive towards St Louis, Elee researches some locations to photograph the Gateway Arch from. Because we’re driving a behemoth RV, we can’t just go in blind. So we find a fun park that looks across the river at the arch and our cameras snuggle up to us and start purring! We even ham it up for an online camera mounted there and take note of the website to look these pics up on later!

Then we drive out and find our way across the mighty Mississippi River to the side the Arch is on. An interesting note here, all my life I always thought the Arch spanned the river. I find out that it doesn’t. But we manage to find a place near it to park and we wander about the area and make our cameras extremely happy!

There is an elevator Tram that takes you to the top of the Arch, but sadly we find out you have to book it in advance and more so now because of Covid. So we check but it is sold out. We enjoy the area and take lots of photos and then we get back into the RV and head west. We drive across the State of Missouri in about 4 hours. We don’t look for much to do in Missouri because we want to get back on our time schedule and have extra time to spend in Colorado and Utah.

About halfway across Missouri, I need a break from concentrating on the diving and Elee finds me a winery to stop at. So at Les Beaujolais Winery and Vineyard, we each get a tasting flight of 4 wines each. The total consumption is about one glass of wine each. I also get a squeegee out and scrub the bugs off the huge windshield! Several patrons on the patio of the winery watch me, and as we pass by them, I tell one of them, “I feel like a kid again playing with my bug collection!” So we enjoy our Wine Flights and kibitz with a friendly local couple and their dog!

We have a book at home entitled, “1000 Places to Visit Before You Die”. In it, there is a BBQ joint, Arthur Bryant’s, in Kansas City that is one of the places. So, of course we have to go there! It turns out to be in Kansas City, Missouri, not Kansas. But that’s ok, it’s still Kansas City! who would have thought that a City would span into two states? Same with St Louis, by the way, it is in both Illinois and Missouri. The restaurant is kind of a dive in a not so good part of town. You get in line and order the food in the back by the kitchens. Then you can sit at flimsy card tables with rickety chairs and eat. The place is one that we normally would not eat at when you see the place.

Arthur Bryant’s, everyone should look it up if you’re ever in Kansas City! It turns out to be is a very seedy part of the city but we stop anyways! The food is some of the best BBQ we have ever had and we get loads of Baby Back Ribs and a pound of Brisket which turns out to be 2 pounds because it is the end of their night and the food must go! We have a fridge in the RV and we take the rest to go!

Leaving the restaurant, we find a gas station and I partially fill the RV’s tank. The attendant wishes me a safe journey and tells me not to get robbed. Wow, that was his nice way of telling me we don’t belong in this part of town! So I get rolling and set the navigation to our destination for the night, a Church parking lot 25 miles away. We get there and set up the RV on our own power (No hook ups here). It seems to be a quiet neighborhood and the reviews on the place are good (Harvest Hosts).

After driving all day, I settle down with a glass of wine to write this post. We hear the pitter patter of rain on the roof and the RV will get washed once again.

Good night and see you in the morning!

RV Day 3

Moving on Along!

Thursday, April 8, 2021

So we wake up a few times in the night to pouring rain. We wake in the morning to a refreshed day. Our Host, Candi, is up early and directing workers on the farm to build more RV Spots! She insists on having photos taken of us and we oblige her and take our own photos of her and us. I walk around the farm and shoot several shots of the scenery. We drive away in search of a locals breakfast restaurant that Candi recommends and with only a little difficulty, find it! But it turns out she had a meeting with someone across the street from the restaurant and she sees us walk in. So she finishes her meeting and comes and joins us for breakfast!

This morning, a call to the RV Store answers our questions about our water issue and everything is working fine in the RV now.

We chat amicable with Candi and swap stories of our travels. Then it is time to hit the road so we bid her ado.

Shortly after we head out, we go through the City of Brazil, Indiana. It reminds me of an online friend from Brazil. Jarbas, this was for you! We work our way to an area referred to as “Rockville” where there are dozens of old covered bridges and we visit a couple of them. These remind me of earlier days visiting New Hampshire and Vermont! Our cameras have become happy once again! Unfortunately, the bridges were replete with graffiti!

But we need to travel on if we going to have any chance of completing our journey on time. So we wend our way southwest to a City called “Casey” in Illinois. Here they have the Biggest Everything, the biggest Mailbox, the biggest Bird Cage, the biggest Pencil, the biggest Barber Pole, Rocking Chair, Teetertotter, Pitchfork, Golf Tee, among other things. So our cameras are entertained again as we capture these sights and walk around the town! It has turned quite chilly and we don our jackets and sweatshirts. Casey is the home of many of the world’s largest objects. They are mostly constructed using wood salvaged from old telephone poles and are on display throughout the town. A full time master carpenter, employed by a local trucking firm, does most of the woodwork.

We drive on to the city of Effingham, which sounds more like a curse than a city, but we find Tuscan Hills Winery where they allow us to park our RV overnight for free. So we patronize the winery (which is not hard to do) and start out with Wine Tasting Flights. My cameras take shots of the place and in a little while we go back in for Flatbread Pizzas and Wine for dinner. We have actually arrived here before 6PM and we hope to get a better nights sleep and get up early to be back on the road.

So we find ourselves in our RV, at the winery, and we are satiated and tired out for the evening. We finish up our Blog ideas and get ready to turn in. See you all tomorrow!

RV Day 02

The Saga Begins!

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

The hotel graciously agrees to move back our check out time as we are “Honors” clients of Hilton and we check out in time to get to our RV appointment an hour early. Lucky for us, someone else is late to their appointment and we get our RV early!

We are scheduled to pick up a “Class ‘C'” RV, but they take us to ours and it is a “Class ‘A'”. Wow, big and luxurious and only 31 feet long. But on the highways, it feels like a Big Rig Truck as all the other Big Rigs blow us in and out of our lane, LOL.

We go through Tippecanoe and we learn something new about President William Henry Harrison (Tippecanoe). Then on down the road, we find a road on our route called “Wiggins Rd” and I remind myself of an online gaming friend who goes be the name of “Wonky Wiggins” and will remember to tell her, LOL

After we pick up the RV, we have to make a couple stops at the 99 Cent Store for a couple pots and pans and small items that the RV Store wanted $140 for, We make out for about $45. Another stop at WalMart For breakfast and lunch stuffs and we drive into West Lafayette, Indiana, home to Purdue University. We manage to find enough room to park the RV in the parking lot of a Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives Restaurant that is, unfortunately, closed because it is 9PM. So we find some Thai and Chinese Food that we take to go.

The RV is a Beast to drive and it acquires that nickname, “The Beast” from me. I work hard to understand the learning curve that I need to master to drive it. When a Semi starts to pass me, their ‘wind’ pushes me hard enough to make me leave my lane if I’m not careful. So, counter-intuitively, I have to steer The Beast towards the truck passing me to stay in my lane. When the Semi finishes his ‘pass’, then I have to steer away from him to avoid being sucked into his lane. Quite the lesson to learn!

We still have 1.5 hours to get to our first lodging, a Horse Farm run by a lady named “Candi”. We finally arrive around 11:20PM after navigating quite the maze of back roads according to our GPS guide, and we know she wants to go to bed already! But she is the ever gracious Host and helps us find a place to park the RV and shows us the water and electric hook ups. We bid her good night and get the RV set up. Some trouble is had with the water systems. We manage to fill the fresh water tank, but something is leaking water onto the ground. I hook up the water to the ‘City Water’ connection but it doesn’t put pressure into the RV. So we give up on having water for the night.

To bed we go and we decide to deal with our water issues in the morning!

RV Day 1

A Tale of a Cross Country Adventure

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

So we found something to do in the Pandemic involving traveling! We get on a plane and travel two legs from LA to Chicago (ChiTown). Two legs? Yeah because since 911, it is almost impossible to get a non stop. Why? I have never figured that out.

Anyway, we make it to ChiTown at midnight their time. The Hotel Free Shuttles stop running at 11PM. So we hire a Taxi because we’re told it’s the cheapest option! We understand ‘Cheap’! So after waiting in the taxi line, we get a cab and get to our hotel around 1:15AM. (Only 11:15PM our local time) The hotel has some very chic decorations and my cameras are once again happy campers. We lay awake and watch a late night horror movie (which we would never do) and find we have to know what happens next!