August 12, 2014

Making The Turn Toward Home

The RV’s nose has turned west. After 5 weeks of putting 2,500 miles between us and home, we have begun the return trip. Though not rushing back, we are feeling the pull of family and friends and implementing some of what we have learned about each other and what makes our individual retirement journey so satisfying.

One of the joys of this type of travel is the ability to make changes when we feel like it so, we are adding two states to our itinerary. Realizing that we aren’t likely to be back this way anytime soon, our return will include some time in North Dakota and Montana. That will give us 14 states for this adventure – not bad for 70 days.

Because Betty’s photos always generate such supportive comments, this post is really just an excuse to show you some of the 9,000 photos (yes, 9,000 in 5 weeks!) she has taken. These are from the Wisconsin Dells area, Egg Harbor and Door County, Wisconsin.

We hope you see a few you like!

A typical campsite on this trip

A small scale railroad takes us deep into the woods

The Wisconsin River by boat

Door County, Wisconsin (the peninsula north of Green Bay)

Gulls were everywhere

Here's a sign I don't see often in Phoenix!

Another well-shaded place for us to spend several days

Eggs like this are all over Egg Harbor, WI

We picked our own cherries

Then Betty made them into an incredible cherry crisp

The photographer in a rare moment without her camera

August 2, 2014

RV Travel: Looking For Hidden Treasure

As I write this Betty, Bailey, and I are packing up to leave Wisconsin Dells, about 2,220 miles into our RV journey. Billed as the Water Park Capitol of the World, this town does seem an odd place to build so many of them. After all, the swimming season is not even four months long this far north. 

But, no matter, the Dells (the shortened name is preferred by locals) loves water and amusement parks, roller coasters, magic and ski shows, and boat tours of the Wisconsin River. With daytime temperatures in the 70s (and nights around 60) we passed on the chance to jump into very chilly water. Our campground is a few miles out of town, so we can avoid the tourist traffic and still enjoy the cool weather and beautiful woods all around us.

One of the real treats of RV travel is the likelihood of stumbling upon both hidden gems and some of the oddities of roadside Americana.  So far, we have managed to find several of each. I thought you might enjoy a little about a few of them, along with Betty’s photos.
One week into our trip found us in Grand Junction, Colorado. As luck would have it, the RV park was next to the Mesa County Fairgrounds and the festivities began while we were there. It has been forever since we have been to a small county fair so this was something we didn’t want to miss. Everything from sheep judging, horses pulling thousands of pounds of cinder blocks, two bands, and an oddly amusing lumberjack show kept us entertained. I had my first ever corn dog while Betty enjoyed a big wad of cotton candy. The midway had all the small rides you might expect.
To cap off the perfect day, there was an amazingly vivid sunset as storm clouds raced across the mountains. Betty snapped dozens of photos, each more spectacular than the next. Here are some of what we saw during the fair.
A corn dog? My first ever!

Betty loves cotton candy

Perfect end to a perfect day
Grand Junction has a way of naming streets that I have never encountered before: the use of fractions. You are familiar with a 29th street, but how about 29 ¾ Road, or B ½ Street? This was a first for us. Funny at first, after a few days it seemed downright logical.
Several hundred miles down the road two very pleasant surprises greeted us in the small Nebraska town of Ogallala: A beautiful lake and picnic area and a tiny church with a story to tell, and a few local folks to tell it to us.
Lake Ogallala is an absolute gem. Complete with large RV park, picnic areas, fishing, and hiking trails galore, it is a green oasis in the semi-arid western part of the state.

 About a dozen miles from the lake, the small hamlet of Keystone is home to a few hundred folks – and a tiny church. Though no longer in regular use, we happened upon it when a young man was doing some repairs to the front steps as part of a Boy Scout merit badge project. His father, brother, and mom were there with him. When Betty and I pulled up to take some pictures, the mom offered to drive home to pick up the key to the building and let us inside. We accepted and soon were inside a church that couldn't be more than 30 feet long and maybe 15 feet wide. For many decades, it had served two different faith communities. There was a Catholic alter at one end and the Protestant version at the other. Reversible pews allowed the worshipers to face the proper way each Sunday.
Hard at work supervising the project

The Protestant side

The Catholic side

We have managed to find a few of those strange sights that are so typically American: a buffalo made out of chrome car bumpers in Grand Junction, a lighthouse in Nebraska (at least 1,100 miles from the nearest ocean),  and a pink elephant in Marquette, Iowa.


As a special treat, we stopped by the baseball field in the middle of a corn field: the setting for the 1989 Kevin Costner movie, Field of Dreams near Dyersville, Iowa. 65,000 folks stop by every year to see and dream.

Oh, and in Ashland, Nebraska, we attended a local community theater presentation of an old style melodrama, complete with cheering for the hero and booing and throwing popcorn whenever the villain come on stage. What fun!
Yes, that is popcorn all over the stage: boo the villain!
The road stretches before us for another five or six weeks and 2,300 miles. Who knows what lies ahead.
Space and time: what blessings