Here is a short re-cap of the first month of our on-the-road adventures-
We left Lakewood, CA at 4am on Friday June 26. (The 4am departure was so that Dave could leave some parting “gifts” on the Starbuck’s doorstep for his to-be-missed co-workers.) The highlight of that day was NO TRAFFIC all the way to Saugus! We were heading north to the bay area, as our first stop was SF to drop off the first “load” of stuff we needed to deliver on this first leg of our journey. We had a nice visit with Roberta’s oldest son, Kevin, and left there VERY relaxed and really feeling like we are RETIRED for real ….
This is the view from Kevin’s kitchen window in SF. Look closely and you’ll see the Coit Tower way in the background.
No trip to SF would be compete without a visit to the historic Warfield Theatre and the viewing of a mural of Jerry Garcia.
(When you are married to a Deadhead!)
The next stop was at a beautiful forest campground in Donner Pass – we definitely need to go back there for a few days!! Then we continued on to Salt Lake City to visit friends and then on to Provo, UT for 2 days with Dave’s parents. As usual we played lots of cutthroat (but fun) card games with his parents before we parked in front of sister Amy and Trace’s place in Payson for a few more days. We had a brief visit with Trace and sons before heading out, but unfortunately Amy & the rest of the kids were out of town that whole weekend.
Bonneville Salt Flats – boring or beautiful??
From Payson we headed on through Cheyenne and Laramie, Wyoming, then through Nebraska. Unfortunately we didn’t feel we could make too many stops due to our Iowa rally deadline, but do plan to go back to many places we got glimpses of. We did make time to tour a prison in Rawlin, Wyoming, and the Pony Express office in historic Gothenburg, Nebraska.
(Original construction was done in 1893.)
Also in Gothenburg – the main street is lined with historic homes that have been beautifully kept up. They even have a brochure available if you want to walk down the street and read about each one as you see it. Incredibly beautiful homes!! Below is just one example.
Since we were slightly ahead of our “schedule” at this point we decided to take a small detour to visit a childhood friend of Roberta’s in Vermillion, South Dakota. In spite of the man-eating mosquitoes, it was a great decision – we had a marvelous time with the Day family – so nice to spend time with their kids now that they are “all grown up”.
During a quick stop in Council Bluffs, Iowa we were walking through their central park and happened to see this squirrel – he seems very comfortable posing for the camera, doesn’t he? I guess that’s “nut bread” he’s eating…
We are continually amazed at the amount of wildlife we see regularly, now that we are away from densely populated areas!
After leaving Vermillion we spent one night in Lake Okobogee, Iowa. What an awesome summer place!! It seemed to Roberta to fit the description her mother would always tell us about her summers as a kid at Lake Tirody (spelling??), NY. Then on we went to Forest City, Iowa for the annual “International Winnebago Rally”…
We spent hours there just watching the sun go down over the lake.
As expected, the rally gave us the opportunity to make many new RVer friends, learn many new “tricks of the trade”, swap ideas and stories with people from all over the US & Canada, and add to our list of “must see” places. Dave even won a “Blooze Brothers” CD for best male dancer at one of the shows put on at the rally. And….we got a great idea from the 2011 RV models on display there. We are doing a slight “remodel” of OUR RV ! We removed (and gave away) one of the seats, removed the dining table and replaced it with a smaller coffee table and will be installing a roomy cabinet where the old seat used to be. Roberta also wanted the microwave cabinet enlarged to better fit the microwave/convection oven Dave installed before we left CA so we included one more cabinet “upgrade” in the plan. And since the Winnebago factory was booked a month in advance we will be going back to Forest City in September to have the cabinet built and installed. Speaking of the micro/convection oven — Roberta took a class on how to use the new oven and hasn’t stopped baking since the class ended! (We estimate she has done more cooking these past few weeks than she did in a year in CA )
(Every day was like this at the Rally.)
We enjoyed 2 tours of the Winnebago factory – amazing stuff to see – and Dave and Roberta both volunteered to help out a few times with rally jobs. Dave even won $20 for judging a part of the Winnebago Rodeo. We also got quite a dose of midwest weather. The humidity almost killed us the first day, then we were treated to spectacular thunder and lightning displays and our last night had winds so strong that the RV rocked hard enough to keep Roberta up most of the night wondering if the tornado alarm would go off and thinking that CA earthquakes weren’t really that scary after all…
South we went next – through Kansas City, Missouri (so green and hilly compared to Iowa), then Wichita, Kansas (MORE cornfields??), then on to Oklahoma (do the cornfields EVER end??). We stopped briefly in Perry, OK (where the Ditch Witch is manufactured – wow) and then spent the day at the OKC memorial. A very emotional place to visit even though it has been 15 years since the bombing….
Each seat has inscribed on it the name & age of a victim of the bombing. The memorial is a very moving sight.
From OK we entered the great state of Texas and headed to Dallas & Fort Worth in hopes of spending an afternoon with Dave’s son Geoff who is serving a Mormon mission in the Fort Worth area. But, as they say, the best made plans of mice and men – we were not allowed to contact Geoff and had to continue on our way VERY disappointed!
In Dallas we toured the Sixth Floor Museum – the book depository now turned museum from which Lee Harvey Oswald shot President Kennedy. Another fascinating place to visit if you are ever in Dallas. About 3 hours later we arrived in Austin, Texas at the home of Roberta’s younger son, Mike.
(We have temporarily misplaced our photos of the Dallas Book Depository Museum. Look for them in an upcoming blog.)
We were a bit surprised at the condition of the house in Austin. I guess 2 years of being a student/athlete and a few less than desirable roommates had taken a toll on the house, in spite of Mike’s best efforts to keep the place up. So much furniture had accumulated we could hardly walk through the living room, grass that looked like a cornfield (ok, we spent a bit too much time in IA), and you can imagine what the kitchen/bathrooms looked like with numerous male roommates sharing them! So we dug in and got to work the second day after arriving…
So far Roberta has scrubbed the kitchen and bathrooms clean & gotten rid of all the extra furniture; Mike and Dave laid a stone walkway in the front yard & installed sprinklers and spread grass seed; we had a 10′ x 12′ storage shed erected in the backyard (after 3 times over with the new lawnmower & weed eater we bought for Mike, we actually found GROUND under there); put up a white picket fence and gates & covered the back patio with a retractable awning. We also did a LITTLE painting indoors. Wait a minute………..I thought we were retired!!
Unfortunately we never got a chance to go out and taste the Austin nightlife at all – but we will be back there soon enough!! And our plan of three weeks in Austin stretched out longer and longer……