Monday, November 12, 2012
After an exciting day of packing, work, errands and 5 and a half hours at the DDS, we are headed into the airport!
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Had great, uneventful flights from Anchorage to Portland, didn’t get to see Jayson, but did get to visit on the phone in the same time zone!!! Portland to Las Vegas was smooth as well. Kinley HATES her box and was EXTREMELY excited to be out of it when we arrived in Vegas. We took a cab (with all our baggage…we looked like the Alaska Clampets headed to Vegas!) We arrived at the BFE FBO (Bob Fahnestock Enterprises Field Base Operations) in Boulder City, NV to our beautiful new RV!!!
Our batteries were dead however, when we arrived (I felt as if I were about to be after all the Lidocane at the DDS, ugh!!) So while Dave was working on the battery situation, I was unpacking and wandering around with Kinley and even had a little nap!
Once we started up, we headed back towards Henderson to stock the RV then back to the FBO for meetings on the Helicopter undergoing it’s 12 year.
Here are some photos (this is the black helicopter, that is Hannah and Kinley’s favorite.)
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Morning meetings with Bob and Dave at HSN (at the FBO in Boulder City) then back into Henderson to a couple of RV service centers to pick up some parts. Back for additional meetings and setting up printers, wireless devices, etc. then on up the highway. We stayed that night on the north side of Vegas at the Cannery Casino (they have large parking lots! Neither Dave or I are much for gambling )
Headed north, out of Nevada on I15, across the northeast corner of Arizona then into Utah (the gorge was spectacular!) We love the landscapes in this area! Our first stop was in St. George to visit with Ron and Barb Clemens (friends from Wasilla) who have a beautiful home on the golf course. We had a great visit and lunch with them before heading north again.
Just outside of Parowan, UT, we had alarms buzzing for an overheating engine! We pulled over to check things out and added some water to the radiator, which was only a little low, and headed out again, only to have the same thing happen! Fortunately, just ahead about a half mile was a rest stop, so we limped there and started making phone calls (this was about 3:30 pm) Finally, we were fortunate enough to find a mobile Diesel service who came at their very earliest (6pm) The were appropriately named Amen Diesel (definitely an answer to our prayers!) Dave had discovered the problem was the belt, however there were more parts needed so we camped here, with the Amen guys headed back to order parts and a friend of ours Dave Norton (also from Wasilla) who happened to be north in Provo, going to pick up parts in the morning and bring them down. (We’re SO grateful for good friends!)
So we camped here at the rest stop, with all four slide outs open, heat, lights, etc. cooked dinner in our little house and had a nice evening. Kinley is certainly comfortable! (really roughing it!)
Kinley and I share this seat when we’re driving.
Friday, November 16, 2012
We woke up had a nice breakfast, Kinley has lots of nice grass here at the rest stop and we’re off the road so it’s a great place to let her run a bit. (I think she’s grateful to not be moving for a little bit ) We’ve spent the day catching up on office/business stuff… an all day project! Lots of phone calls, emails, etc. I’m also having a little time to work on this project, and the RSVP list for our Christmas at King Ranch gathering that we’re so looking forward to.
4 pm we fire up, looks like all systems are go and we are back on the road again… About
7:30 pm we pull into a restaurant called the Communal in Provo, UT to meet a friend. I have to admit, the name “Communal” had me concerned, I envisioned tofu and soy beans for dinner Fortunately I was wrong (that contempt prior to investigation principal) and it was a delightful dinner, amazing food, great company with our friend Aaron.
So after dinner, we follow Aaron to his shop, where we’re going to park for the night, it’s surrounded by beautiful trees and nice and dark, however, the tree limbs are pretty low, but, we’re thinking they’re flexible so we’ll give it a try, right? …. Wrong, some kind of stiff limbed tree, cleaned off the plastic covers for the vents, etc on the top of the RV. Good Grief! Oh well, Aaron has ladders, tools etc. and Dave is quite handy, so all will be repaired or replacements ordered in the morning.
Saturday, November 17, 2012
We’ve had a hard time falling asleep at night, so have had difficulty getting up at our ambitious early alarm time. So after coffee, showers all the morning take off chores, we carefully backed out of Aaron’s parking lot and headed north east on the 40 to Park City and crossed the great state of Wyoming on the 80 which runs across the southern part of the state. It’s incredibly beautiful here. We saw Antelope, a gorgeous single stag Elk (not fast enough to get a photo) We passed by mines, oil and gas wells, and lots and lots of ranch land. I liked the double stacked railroad cars. We passed the Continental Divide just outside of Fort Steele. Here are some of the photos. (the first one is Bridal Veil Falls outside of Provo, the rest are from WY)
We found, to our delight, a little place on the 210 out of Cheyenne that had good food, great music, and awesome people called the Bunkhouse. We spent the evening visiting with the owners, Rod and Hollie and Butch who works for them.
We had a marvelous visit, danced and Dave sang with the band a few songs. We actually have a mutual friend of the Chugwater Band. Will Rogers bought his Steel from Murel Kidd who we know in Alaska and his brother Shawn used to play in a band with him. And Gordon actually knew Rod’s Uncle who was the Sheriff in Casper, WY. Such a small world!
So we danced and sang and visited and in general had a marvelous time! We spent the night right here. :)
Sunday, November 18, 2012
Up and into the Bunkhouse where Dave and Rod are pickin and singing while I write this. We’ll stay for breakfast and be off to downtown Cheyenne for a quick stop at the Wrangler for some jeans. Yee Haw!
We took off on the 80 East, left Wyoming and drove across Nebraska. We crossed miles
and miles of nothing but miles and miles (one of Daddy’s old sayings ) Beautiful heartland of America scenes, old farms with old barns, big tractors on the road ways (the kind they write country songs about) Here’s a picture of geese taking flight from a field. Dave suggested I drive the bus, as the roads won’t get any straighter or wider. The weather was perfect, but I chickened out, happy to ride along with Kinley in my lap. (I’ll drive it some time)
Monday, November 19, 2012
Up early and on the road. Enjoyed a beautiful sunrise as we left Iowa and crossed into Missouri this morning. As we drove on the 36 across the state we encountered some rain, but it was sunny again by the time we reached Hannibal, MO, Mark Twain’s birthplace and stomping grounds on the banks of the mighty Mississippi. We explored the outside of his caves (didn’t have time to go on the tour) We’re actually calling this the “overview” tour, as we don’t have the time we’d like to stop and explore all the amazing sites and history we’re traveling through. But we’re so thoroughly enjoying the trip. Back to Hannibal, MO. Here are some photos of some of the sites we were able to see.
We saw Mark Twain’s house and crossed the Mississippi River into Illinois (the MI/IL state line is in the middle of the river here too.)
At Indianapolis we took the 65 down past Columbus to Gnaw Bone/Nashville Indiana to visit with Pocko and his Mom, Aunt Jan and Uncle Howard who were up visiting also. They have a beautiful home on a hill above a pond in the gorgeous woods. We had a marvelous visit and I will treasure the gift of a hand quilted apron, Connie, Pocko’s mom gave me.
We left out on the 70 heading for the Ohio boarder where we camped for the night on our way to Pennsylvania.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Up early this morning, driving across Ohio. As we got into the Dayton area, we began to see signs for historical aviation sites in the area. We HAD to stop here as this is the “birthplace” of flight where Orville and Wilbur Wright. We had passed the exit, so had to back track on some country roads to get back to Wright Patterson AFB where all this history is located. We stumbled across the Air Force Museum, 17 acres of the hands down best collection of aircraft from the Wright brothers through the “Cold War”. Beautifully restored aircraft laid out chronologically… simply amazing, but needs at a minimum 3 days to see fully and enjoy all of the IMax movies and displays.
After leaving Dayton, Ohio, we headed northeast towards Pittsburgh, PA, actually McKeesport, PA to see Chrissy, Donnie and family. Along the way however, we went through Knightstown, Indiana, a town that I remembered from the cross country RV trip we went on with Daddy in 1973 (?) Will, Daddy and I flew to Salt Lake City then drove to Brigham City, UT to the Champion RV factory where we picked up the brand new RV. We drove from there up to Cheyenne, WY to pick up Uncle Merle, Aunt Shirley and the kids then drove to PA to visit Grandma and Grandpa. (I’m sure it was the same route) During that trip, while on the interstate, going 70 mph, just outside Knightstown, IN, the front driver’s side wheel (entire thing) flew off. Daddy kept us on the road, slowed us down and pulled over. All of us kids were thrilled, and all went bounding off the RV to the grassy side of the road. As we got off, Uncle Merle called out “watch out for snakes” and just as quickly as we got off, we all got back on. Fun story to recall driving on what I believe is the same route.
We arrived in Mckeesport, Chrissy made us a delightful dinner, and was so glad to see us (even though we were two hours late) I missed our exit, and we ended taking the long, scenic route on 136 back to the 70 to get there. PA roadways through town are narrow, no shoulders, with cars parked into the street. Dave maneuvered the bus masterfully, as usual. So we enjoyed dinner and visit. Had ball with the girls and their new puppies (and old boy).
We LOVE you guys!!! xoxo It took Donnie and I guiding Dave driving the bus out of the tight narrow spaces we were in and Chrissy and Amanda led us out to the main road in their van. We headed north and camped for the night in Tarentum, PA where Daddy is from.
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
We woke up early and called Uncle Elmer and Anna Mae who met us for breakfast in Pittsburgh Mills. What an awesome visit. We called Uncle Joe, but didn’t get to see him, we had a great visit on the phone. Uncle Joe said he’s still waiting for Pauli to come do his landscaping! So we left with a plan for me to get Will, Paul, Jay back to visit and to sort through all Aunt Ethel’s genealogy research. (which all lives in it’s own room at Uncle Joe’s) Timmy’s old girlfriend Janet, has been taking care of Uncle Joe on Wednesday’s helping him out with bills, cleaning, etc. We’re so grateful! So we’ll be getting this plan together soon! Get ready everyone!
After breakfast we launched for Maryland and aunt Carole’s house where we’ll spend Thanksgiving and a few days with family. We drove north and east through PA, crossed into West Virgina and into Maryland. What a beautiful scenic drive, Mom and Gordon, you would LOVE it!!! Old brick buildings in old towns, nestled in dells in the mountains (hills ) SO much history we passed by on our “Overview Tour” Dwayne and Carolyn are here, up from South Carolina, Dave’s cousins, Todd and Brett and their families. We arrived about 6p and had a wonderful reunion and visit.
Thursday, November 22, 2012
The day was spent with family, food and fun. Todd and Brett brought motorcycles, a fat boy harley and a dirt bike. All the boys took a spin on each.
Friday, November 23, 2012
Nice to get up in the morning, sit around the table visiting and drinking coffee while the plan emerges for the day. The plan ended up being the boys (Dave, Dad Dwayne and cousins Todd & Brett) all going dirt bike riding on a track about an hour away. Aunt Carole and I ran some errands and Kinley kept mom Carolyn company here at the house. The boys ran a little late due to the fact they found an airport. The evening was spent visiting and eating (there has been no shortage of food around here! hee!)
Saturday, November 24, 2012
Dave and I were up early and on the road with Dad Dwayne and Mom Carolyn and off to the National Air and Space Museum at Dulles Air Field. Huge and beautifully done, we enjoyed walking through and watched Racers in the Imax theater.
After the museum, we headed for Leesburg, Virginia to visit with old friends of Dwayne, Carolyn and Dave’s, the Aiken’s family that they knew from Bettle’s Field, AK. Jerry and his wife Nancy and their children were delightful. They live in an old house, in Round Hill, VA, that they’ve lovingly restored and beautifully decorated. Nancy’s parents Jane and Don were both there visiting from California and we had a marvelous dinner and visit. It was just dark when we arrived and sadly, I didn’t get a photo of the house and/or family. Dave drove us home (about a two hour drive) to Aunt Carole’s. Straight to bed after we arrived.
Sunday, November 25, 2012
Well…. we were planning on getting up and going to church, however, when we got notice of the time, there was only about 20 minutes to get ready and get out the door and THAT wasn’t happening . So it was a blissful day of relaxing and visiting and eating, until… Football! We worked on Genealogy watched the game, ate some more and had a lovely day.
The boys of fall….. —>
Up early and after errands we headed for Washington D.C. to visit Aunt Carole at her office
at Trinity University.
Then we were off on the shuttle to take the Metro into DC. We arrived at Union Station.
(I LOVE Union Station!)
Then we jumped on the trolley and rode to the Air and Space museum and toured around there. Dave was last there in 2007 and I was there in 2008, and it was under construction so it was great to get to see how they’ve redone the exhibits. The ACTUAL Wright Flyer and Spirit of St. Louis are housed there. Then back on the trolley to the Holocaust Museum, which is a heart wrenching, stomach turning, but beautifully done, a truely reverent experience… One that shouldn’t be missed. They don’t allow cameras, so here are some photos from the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum:
The Trolley’s are great as the drivers are giving a guided tour as you ride from site to site. They’re very knowledgeable and know tons of trivia. This would be a wonderful family vacation destination when Riley and the girls are just a bit older perhaps.
We rode the Metro train back to Trinity to meet up with Aunt Carole, then headed home. We were going to go and see the new Bond movie, Skyfall, but ended up staying home and visiting instead. We’ve had a simply marvelous time visiting.
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Up and a leisurely morning catching up on work stuff, emails, phone calls, etc. Then we ventured off to an RV parts place in the rain for some, well, parts about 45 minutes south of Carole’s house. This has been the first rainy day we’ve had our entire trip! Had dinner ready when she got home, Brett came by and ate with us then we went downstairs and went through a veritable treasure trove of old family photos, etc. she has stored there. Carole also gave me a wand scanner, which we used to it’s fullest potential recording family history. Now I’ll have to send her copies and ask who is who! Stayed up far too late and off to bed as we leave in the morning.
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Up early to visit just a bit more with Aunt Carole before she headed off to work. Packed up the bus and left Maryland on the 495 Capital Beltway that wraps around Washington DC on to the 66 W to Virgina then 81 South. Virginia has tones of amazing old and very large farm houses, barns and fields, it’s very scenic and pretty. Many varieties of trees, streams or “runs” as they’re called, rivers, hills, valleys with higher hills (mountains) in the background on either side of the amazing Shenandoah Valley. Driving towards Tennessee across Virginia from the Northeastern part of the state to the southwestern corner. There is TONS of history here, we drove by battlefields, museums, historic places, just about everywhere you look there’s some kind of history recorded. The rolling hills give the land an interesting contour and the variety of fields grown lend splashes of color throughout the hillsides. There is a lot of Scottish influence here too, we’ve passed the towns of Edinbourgh Buchanan and Glasgow.
My favorite today was driving through the Blue Ridge Mountains… You can see where they get their name…
We rode off into the sunset, literally, we had the gorgeous sunset ahead of us and the incredible full moon rising behind us. And on into Tennessee where we drove past Davey Crockett’s birthplace and Tavern (hmmm). We had dinner at Cracker Barrel, one of our favorites, they’re few and far between on the West coast, but there’s one on just about every exit down here. Another thing we’ve noticed in Tennessee, they have wonderfully smooth and well cared for highways. No potholes, bumps, cracks, etc. Really nice and smooth!
We spend the night in Tennessee at the Kingsport KOA, right next door to Rocky Top (remember the song? We’ve been singing it all night) We wanted to stay in Raccoon Holler, but thought we’d get just a little farther down the road. Plugging in, charging and filling up for the next leg of the journey under a beautiful Tennessee harvest moon.
Thursday, November 29, 2012
Up and travel ready with all systems refreshed. It was cold last night and very frosty this morning. As you look up at the wooded hills, you can almost see the smoke rising up from an old moonshine still (I have a very active imagination as many of you know! and I’m probably not too far off!) After all, this is the country all the stories come from!
We had a little problem with the door on one of our outside compartments, with the cold weather this morning the hydrolic parts that hold up the door were cold and stiff and the screw’s pulled out of the top (it looked like it’d been repaired before) One more little item on the fix it list for the next camping world. Thanks goodness for Gorilla Tape!
We’re headed south now for Normandy, TN to visit with Nikki, Dave’s friend from long ago, and mine since the first time we met in Alaska several years ago. The photos above are of some of the great old barns that abound on the back country roads. We stick to those whenever possible, as the interstates, while fast, aren’t as scenic. The last picture is of Elmore Street we turned on to driving through Crossville, TN! We had lunch at a Sonic, quite prevalent in the south. One of Americas last Drive Up restaurants. You order through an intercom and your food is delivered by a kid wearing rollerskates! It’s fantastic! The foods pretty good and their raspberry lime aid is my new favorite! Another place of note in Tennessee we’ve passed is an atomic power plant and of course Dollywood, Dolly Parton’s themepark. Huge, set alongside a river, white smoke billowing from the stacks. Gave me goosebumps as we drove by.
Nikki has purchased an old main street, two story building that was built in the late 1800′s when Normandy was a whistle stop on the rail system and has started The River Cafe, www.therivercafenormandy.com. The countryside is beautiful, rolling hills, with the Duck river and the Normandy Dam all close by. Not to mention the George Dinkle Whiskey Distillery which supplies a key ingredient to her fantastic, original Whiskey Bread Pudding recipe. The town was also the site of a winter long battle field during the civil war, with both sides lobbing cannon balls at each other. The townsfolk still find old pieces of cannons and rifles around fields and in the river.
So Nikki and her brother Mike, who does all the cooking/BBQing/smoking of the beef brisket and pork, live upstairs of this unique and fabulous cafe. Country music hall of famers preform on stage on Saturday nights and the place is packed. It’s only open on the weekend, but they do cater special events. Nikki gave us a tour of her home upstairs where we got to meet her three rescue puppies, an old girl named Olivia, Jolene the “indian” dog and her third puppy (so sad I can’t remember his name) was such a sweetheart of a little boy. Mike has a little chiwawa named Chief who dominates everyone! Kinley was a little overwhelmed, but got on great with two of the puppies. Here is Dave on stage with Waylon’s guitar.
Nikki drove us to another little town, Cowan, about a half an hour away for an incredible Italian dinner at Sernicoli’s, owned by a brother and sister. The food was fabulous but so much of it we had to share a lasagna! We had a great visit driving to and from and while we were there, how great to catch up, reminisce a little and to make some new memories. We plugged in the bus back in Normandy and headed to bed.
Friday, November 30, 2012
Up early, but not as early as Nikki who was already in her fantastic kitchen making pecan minis and whiskey bread pudding. Mike made scrambled eggs with turkey chili, pancakes, smoked brisket for breakfast, what a feast! Nikki gave us a tour of the adjacent building that Rhonda owns, she converted the old bank (that was falling down) into a courtyard with a delightful little loft apartment, and Nikki has Waylen’s office below. The house next door was there during the civil war, and it is rented out for groups, sleeps 14. This may be a destination for a family vacation!!!
We headed west on the 40 through Nashville (got to drive down music row, the streets where artist have their offices and studios) towards Memphis and passed Loretta Lynn’s Dude Ranch, Elvis Presley’s Graceland and the Casey Jones Railroad Museum. There really is alot to see and do around here!
As we traveled west (West Tennessee and East Arkansas) however, we encountered some interesting dynamics. Not only in the physical appearance of places, the landscape became more barren, homes more run down, but also in people, less friendly, cutting you off in traffic, not smiling or being friendly in the check out lines, etc. A really a stark contrast to our experiences in east Tennessee which was one of
beautiful landscapes, friendly, welcoming, and engaging people.
We crossed the Mississippi again, this time just outside of Memphis, and midway across the river we were in Arkansas! Can you say catfish?…
We’re stopped at a Walmart for the night in Forrest City Arkansas. Exit 216 of the US 40W. Still in the area described above, many of the lights are out in the signs around and they look like a board from the game show Wheel of Fortune or Scrabble. While Dave was out walking Kinley, a guy stopped and gave him a card for a new RV park he’d just opened and told him about his seafood buffet at the Old Sawmill Cafe which we’ve gone to for dinner. I’m marveling as I eat my “all american patty melt” at Dave’s plate… a variety from the buffet. I ask after each bite, what he’s just eaten and usually he can identify the item, shrimp, catfish, crab cake (baked in the shell), gator tail, all deep fried of course. The last interestingly shaped item he picked up, when I asked what it was, he just gave me a half smile and shrugged a little (obviously unable to identify what he’d just sampled) I couldn’t help but ask him “but it tastes like chicken?” Items he didn’t sample were frog legs and crawfish. Whee!